Articles

Finding adrenal balance

Discussions around adrenal fatigue usually center around women. But men need to care for their adrenals too, and when things go amiss, their specific nutritional and supplement needs can be different from women’s. In this article, we take a look at some options for men to support their adrenal glands during times of stress.

Do you need a refresher on what your adrenals are? The adrenal glands are two small triangular-shaped endocrine glands that sit atop the kidneys and produce essential compounds such as sex hormones and cortisol (aka the stress hormone) based on cues from the hypothalamus and pituitary gland. This hormonal feedback loop is dubbed the HPA axis (for hypothalamus – pituitary – adrenals).

Tired adrenals

The concept of adrenal fatigue relates to chronic stress exposure, also known as fight-or-flight mode, which kicks the adrenals into high gear and prompts them to pump high amounts of cortisol and adrenaline into your body. The medical community questions the idea of “adrenal fatigue” (which is entirely different from adrenal insufficiency) citing the glands do not get tired from doing their job – but symptoms are real, and affect many men. Especially in today’s fast paced world. While there is still a lot to be discovered about adrenal fatigue via allopathic medicine, common symptoms of adrenal fatigue are addressed by the neuroendocrinology concept of allostatic load, based off of multiple biomarker measures of physiological wear and tear from stress.

Some symptoms of adrenal fatigue might include:

  • Feeling constantly tired
  • Irritability and brain fog
  • Weight gain (despite a clean diet and strict workout plan)
  • Strong cravings for sweet or salty foods

Think you have adrenal imbalance? Here’s what you need to know

Whether or not you have adrenal fatigue, experiencing the symptoms above on a regular basis is a sure sign that something is out of balance in the body. Lifestyle upgrades like exercise, fresh air and nature immersion, along with diet tweaks often bring about symptom relief. So does stress management through meditation and necessary life changes. When you’ve tried all of these and still need some help bringing your adrenals into balance, adaptogenic herbs and nutrients are a good place to turn.

Recharge yourself with adaptogenic herbs

Adrenal-Pro™ is a blend of adaptogenic herbs and nutrients used in herbal medicine, specially formulated to provide an improved sense of well-being and help improve mental and physical performance after periods of exertion.

This unique blend helps fatigued adrenal glands without overstimulation. Working to increase cortisol if there is too little and decrease cortisol if there is too much.

Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is a staple of Ayurvedic medicine and is known as the “herb of the horse”, because of the energy building qualities it brings. A trusted adaptogen herb, ashwagandha helps re-establish a healthy sleep-wake cycle and is especially beneficial to men who often feel tired upon waking and start to feel energized around the time they should fall asleep at night. Ashwagandha has demonstrated anti-stress, antioxidant, mind boosting, immune-boosting and thyroid rejuvenating properties in studies.

Siberian Ginseng

Siberian ginseng (also known as eleuthero) has a history of use by athletes to help increase stamina and build better resistance to stress – be it from physical, emotional, mental, or environmental stressors. As an adaptogen, Siberian ginseng supports endocrine health and adrenal balance.

Schisandra extract

Schisandra extract is an herb used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for its adaptogenic properties.

Astragalus extract

Astragalus has been prescribed for centuries to treat chronic illness and to increase overall vitality and the connection between the pituitary and adrenal glands.

Nutrients vitamin B6, pantothenic acid and L-tyrosine are included in this blend to support thyroid and pituitary gland function, and many other hormones involved in the stress response.

Quality sleep, good daily nutrition, exercise and the right supplementation all play key roles in maintaining a healthy stress response and care for your adrenal glands.

 

 

To learn more visit: canprev.ca/adrenal

CanPrev recommends that you consult your doctor before implementing any health treatment, including herbal supplements and natural remedies. The information above is for educational reasons only and is not to be taken as a substitute for medical advice.

 

It’s as Canadian as peanut butter? Fascinating food facts

It’s as Canadian as peanut butter? Fascinating food facts

Whether born out of curiosity or necessity, this country has a rich history in creating new foods

When we think of a Canadian meal, we think of beef, pork, lamb, chicken, milk, and all the fixings.

Spring is here and the BBQ has likely been dusted off to welcome these old flames to our weary winter palate. As Canadians, we set the table with favourites such as lasagna, burgers of every description, the fried dough named beaver tails, and other regional goodies that just seem so Canadian.

How does peanut butter and the California roll fit into our identity as Canadians?

Although we do not grow much in the way of peanuts nor do we harvest white rice, these are Canadian inventions.

Marcellus Gilmore Edson was born in Bedford, Que. in 1849 and became a pharmacist in Montreal. Concerned about those who could not chew food, he created peanut butter by milling peanuts between heated plates and added sugar to give it consistency. In 1884, he patented the spread and Canada’s favourite snack, the peanut, became a household staple in the form of peanut butter.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

AF Columnist

Brenda Schoepp works as an international mentor and motivational speaker. She can be contacted through her website at www.brendaschoepp.com. All rights reserved.

Estrogen 411: When is too much toxic?

Estrogen 411: When is too much toxic?

Like other hormones, estrogen is derived from cholesterol and is a chemical messenger that tells tissues how to behave. You can think of a hormone as a finger that flicks a light switch to make the room brighter. There are three common types of naturally produced estrogens you should know about. Estrone (E1) is only present in post-menopausal women. Estradiol (E2) is produced by the ovaries and is the most potent estrogen during the premenopausal period in a woman’s life. E2 may be a factor in women’s health problems including endometriosis, fibroids and cancers. Estriol (E3) is only produced in significant quantities during pregnancy. E3 is the weakest estrogen and cannot be converted to either estradiol or estrone. On the other hand, E1 can be converted to E2 and vice versa. Testosterone can also be converted to estradiol with the help of the aromatase enzyme. In premenopausal women, aromatase is manufactured primarily in the ovaries. After menopause, fat cells of the thighs and buttocks serve as the main estrogen production sites. As increased fat accumulation is common at menopause, the estrogen-fat connection can become a vicious cycle.

Environmental and home-based estrogens
Hormones produced outside our bodies also add to the hormone burden. Known as xenoestrogens (meaning “foreign” estrogens), these chemicals are virtually identical to our endogenous hormones. They lock into the estrogen receptor sites and essentially “trick the body” into believing they’re estrogens, causing them to act like estrogen in our bodies. We are exposed to xenoestrogens in our personal care products like shampoo, deodorant, body lotions and cosmetics via chemicals like phthalates, bisphenol A, and chlorine-bleached paper products, as well as in fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides used in food – even in the air we breathe. Birth control pills are also endogenous estrogens.

Estrogen overload symptoms
Estrogen must exist in a delicate balance with progesterone and testosterone, but with so much estrogen exposure, it’s easy to see how we can become overloaded. Estrogen dominance is associated with infertility, symptoms of PMS, heavy periods, sleep and memory problems, anxiety and mood swings, fibrocystic and painful breasts, and weight gain among other concerns. High estrogen has also been associated with endometrial cancer, blood clots, stroke and thyroid dysfunction.

The liver is responsible for metabolizing estrogen through the two phases of the P450 pathway. In Phase 1, the liver metabolizes xenoestrogens and other foreign substances, steroid hormones and pharmaceutical drugs. This pathway works either by making the compound more water-loving and eases elimination through the kidneys, or by adding a reactive group.  In Phase 2, these dangerous compounds are further processed for elimination. Problems can occur, however, when these dangerous compounds linger. To proactively support your liver, you want to limit your intake of xenoestrogens and help your liver’s detoxification pathways.

Estrogen 911
Because the aromatase enzyme that is required to convert other hormones to estradiol is prevalent in adipose cells, releasing excess body fat may be helpful in restoring estrogen balance. (Since estrogen encourages fat production, of course, this can be a catch-22.) Read product labels carefully to avoid purchasing personal care and home products that contain xenoestrogens.

Enjoy cruciferous vegetables including Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage and kale several times a week. These vegetables contain a compound called sulforaphane that is an antioxidant as well as antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and may also support liver function. Cruciferous vegetables also provide indole-3-carbinole (I3C), which produces diindolylmethane (DIM) upon digestion. Both I3C and DIM help to promote healthy estrogen balance. The downside for some people, of course, is that cruciferous vegetables may cause digestive challenges.

ESTROsmart can help
For supplemental hormone balancing support, ESTROsmart offers a tailored blend of research-supported nutrients. Sulforaphane, from BroccoPhane® broccoli sprout provides antioxidant assistance for the liver without causing digestive upset. Along with promoting healthy estrogen metabolism, ESTROsmart also provides antioxidant support with Indole-3-carbinol and green tea extract, while DIM helps reduce the severity and duration of symptoms associated with recurrent breast pain (cyclical mastalgia). Anti-inflammatory curcumin is a potent antioxidant, and rosemary extract has been traditionally used in herbal medicine to help relieve flatulent indigestion. Calcium D-glucarate may amplify the activity of antioxidants including vitamin C and carotenoids.

 

 

References:
Cui, J., Shen, Y., & Li, R. (2013). Estrogen synthesis and signaling pathways during aging: from periphery to brain. Trends in molecular medicine, 19(3), 197-209.
Farmer EE, Davoine C. Reactive electrophile species. Current Opinion in Plant Biology. 2007;10:380-386.
Hodges, R. E., & Minich, D. M. (2015). Modulation of Metabolic Detoxification Pathways Using Foods and Food-Derived Components: A Scientific Review with Clinical Application. Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, 2015, 760689.
Kim, J. K., & Park, S. U. (2016). Current potential health benefits of sulforaphane. EXCLI journal, 15, 571-577.
Stocco C. (2011). Tissue physiology and pathology of aromatase. Steroids, 77(1-2), 27-35.
Thomas, M. P., & Potter, B. V. (2013). The structural biology of oestrogen metabolism. The Journal of steroid biochemistry and molecular biology, 137, 27-49.

Breakthroughs in Women’s Health

Breakthroughs in Women’s Health

From hormones and mood to digestion and concerns over aging skin, women’s health has never been simple. Advances in nutraceutical therapy are providing new ways to help relieve many common health concerns. Here is a selection of nutritional solutions you might not have heard about yet.

IBS
Irritable bowel syndrome is more prevalent among women and there’s new hope for this condition. People are reporting success with a novel dietary approach that involves eliminating specific types of dietary fibre called FODMAPs. These types of fibres are found in a wide array of foods and are contribute to gas, bloating and bowel problems in some people. While avoiding FODMAPs is tricky, it can be worth it for IBS sufferers.

A low FODMAP diet also tend to be low in fibre overall. Look for FODMAP friendly fibre supplements made from organic, partially hydrolyzed guar gum (PHGG). This has been shown in clinical trials to help relieve gas and bloating in people with IBS.1

Mood
We now know that many feel-good chemicals, like serotonin, are actually produced more in the intestines than within the brain. There are specific strains of beneficial bacteria newly recognized for their ability to modulate mood through their effect on the gut-brain axis and intestinal microbiome. Some strains of probiotics available on health food store shelves can help calm anxiety, for example.2 With the wide prevalence of anxiety among women, finding novel solutions like probiotics help fit more pieces into the mood puzzle.

PMS
When it comes to low mood associated with PMS, it is surprising how many women are still unaware of the benefits of B vitamins. While most B vitamins have some role to play in mood, vitamin B6 is particularly helpful for mood problems before the period.3

New types of B vitamins offer potentially greater relief by delivering the Bs in a more bioavailable form. Standard B vitamin can be transformed with enzymes in a type of “pre-digestion” that mimics what happens in the body. For PMS related mood problems, look for activated B6 on its own or in a complex of activated B vitamins.

Skin and Joints
There’s a big buzz around collagen supplements lately and for good reason. Collagen is a key structural protein throughout the body. It helps support skin smoothness and maintain hydration in many tissues. Collagen diminishes with age, which an important factor in skin wrinkling and joint stiffness.

Hydrolyzed collagen can be taken in a powder or tablet and helps the body replenish its own collagen, with noticeable, evidence-based results.4

Look for a collagen supplement that contains added tryptophan. This amino acid is important for mood and sleep. It is naturally absent from collagen and taking hydrolyzed collagen over time can deplete this key nutrient, unless it is part of the formula or taken as a separate supplement.

It’s an exciting time for women’s health. By taking advantage of the latest advances in nutraceutical therapy we can all optimize our health and wellbeing naturally.

References:
1 Niv, E., Halak, A., Tiommny, E., et al. (2016). Randomized clinical study: partially hydrolyzed guar gum (PHGG) versus placebo in the treatment of patients with irritable bowel syndrome. Nutr Metab (Lond), 13, 10.
2 Messaoudi, M., Violle, N., Bisson, JF., et al. (2011). Beneficial psychological effects of a probiotic formulation (Lactobacillus helveticus R0052 and Bifidobacterium longum R0175) in healthy human volunteers. Gut Microbes, 2(4), 256-261.
3 Wyatt KM, Dimmock PW, Jones PW, Shaughn O’Brien PM. Efficacy of vitamin B-6 in the treatment of premenstrual syndrome: systematic review. BMJ. 1999;318(7195):1375-81.
4 Borumand M, Sibilla S. Effects of a nutritional supplement containing collagen peptides on skin elasticity, hydration and wrinkles. J Med Nutr Nutraceut 2015;4:47-53

Breaking your Poor Sleep and Energy Cycle

Breaking your Poor Sleep and Energy Cycle

Sleep and energy are intimately linked. Poor sleep inevitably leads to low energy. This snowballing sleep and energy deficit creates a vicious cycle. We need quality sleep to restore, rebuild and detoxify our bodies.

Stress reduction and exercise improve sleep. However, when we are exhausted it is extra hard to muster the energy to exercise. We then lose out on the numerous benefits of exercise, including lowering stress.

What is the best way to break this cycle? Take natural remedies that boost energy, lower stress, and improve sleep. I recommend two herbs and one mineral: ashwagandha, medicinal mushrooms, and magnesium.

Ashwagandha
Ashwagandha is an herb that helps our bodies adapt to stress, reduces inflammation, and improves both muscle strength and mass.1, 8 

Medicinal Mushrooms
Medicinal mushrooms have countless benefits for our bodies and minds. Amongst these are helping adapt to stress and boosting energy levels. In particular, Reishi (Ganoderma lucidium) helps calm the nervous system and promote sleep.5 Therefore, it may be best to take later in the day or before bed.

For your get up and go energy, however, try cordyceps. Cordyceps boosts energy. One mechanism for this energy boost is protecting our mitochondria from damage.3   Your mitochondria are the energy factories of your body.

If you are feeling particularly mentally fatigued, or just want to boost your concentration and memory, then Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus) is the mushroom for you. Lion’s Mane help protect and regenerate brain cells, as well as helping reduce stress, boost energy and more!7

Magnesium
Many people get deficient levels of magnesium from their diets.2 Magnesium is essential for our energy metabolism, muscle function, heart function, blood sugar levels, and more.4, 6 Therefore, deficiency in magnesium can have major consequences on energy and sleep.

Magnesium is best taken with dinner or before bed. In the short term, this helps relax muscles before bed and reduce cramping in the night. Longer term, magnesium helps increase energy in the body.

The great thing about all of these sleep and energy remedies is that they are safe for almost anyone to take and they do not interact with most common medications.

References:
1. Dar NJ, Hamid A, Ahmad M. Pharmacologic overview of Withania somnifera, the Indian Ginseng.. Cell Mol Life Sci. 2015 Dec;72(23):4445-60. doi: 10.1007/s00018-015-2012-1.
2. James J DiNicolantonio, James H O’Keefe, and William Wilson. Subclinical magnesium deficiency: a principal driver of cardiovascular disease and a public health crisis. Open Heart. 2018; 5(1): e000668. Published online 2018 Jan 13. doi: 10.1136/openhrt-2017-000668.
3. Li XT, Li HC, Li CB, Dou DQ, Gao MB. Protective effects on mitochondria and anti-aging activity of polysaccharides from cultivated fruiting bodies of Cordyceps militaris. Am J Chin Med. 2010;38(6):1093-106.
4. Liu M, Jeong EM, Liu H, Xie A, So EY, Shi G, Jeong GE, Zhou A, Dudley SC Jr. Magnesium supplementation improves diabetic mitochondrial and cardiac diastolic function. JCI Insight. 2019 Jan 10;4(1). pii: 123182. doi: 10.1172/jci.insight.123182.
5. Sanodiya BS, Thakur GS, Baghel RK, Prasad GB, Bisen PS. Ganoderma lucidum: a potent pharmacological macrofungus. Curr Pharm Biotechnol. 2009 Dec;10(8):717-42.
6. Reddy ST, Soman SS, Yee J. Magnesium Balance and Measurement. Adv Chronic Kidney Dis. 2018 May;25(3):224-229. doi: 10.1053/j.ackd.2018.03.002.
7. Üstün R, Ayhan P. Regenerative activity of Hericium erinaceus on axonal injury model using in vitro laser microdissection technique. Neurol Res. 2018 Dec 20:1-10. doi: 10.1080/01616412.2018.1556494.
8. Wankhede S, Langade D, Joshi K, Sinha SR, Bhattacharyya S. Examining the effect of Withania somnifera supplementation on muscle strength and recovery: a randomized controlled trial. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2015 Nov 25;12:43. doi: 10.1186/s12970-015-0104-9.

3 Reasons to Supplement with Collagen

3 Reasons to Supplement with Collagen

Nutritionists and health experts have an arsenal of foods and supplements they recommend every individual consume. This set is what lays the bricks for a foundation of good health. What’s in this set? For starters, a diet rich in nutrition – an abundance of fruits, fibre-rich vegetables, whole proteins, and healthy fats (like avocados and plant oils) to promote brain health.

Then follows the typical (but still useful) advice to avoid processed foods and unhealthy habits. Next comes promoting a balance in lifestyle by pursuing activities outside of work to keep your mind and body happy – things like working out, meditation, and reading.

And finally, we’re left with a list of recommended supplements to fill in the gaps between your current diet and ideal nutrition targets. This includes an array of vitamins and mineral supplements like Vitamin C, Vitamin D, zinc, and iron. But the one supplement that health experts are recommending now more than ever? Collagen. Nutritionists recommend collagen to reduce joint pain and degeneration, improve elasticity of the skin, strengthen hair and nails, and heal certain digestive issues – things we would all like a little help with.

Let’s look at each of these in a little more detail:

1. Collagen for Joint Pain
A joint is the point at which certain parts of the skeletal structure meet. For example, the thigh bone and shin bone meet to create the knee joint. The elbow joint is created through the connection of the upper arm bone and forearm bones. There are somewhere between 200 and 400 joints in the body – each of which is held together by ligaments, a type of connective tissue that connects the bones. What are these ligaments made of? Proteins, with the most abundant protein being none other than collagen!

As we age, collagen production decreases and our bones become fragile. A collagen supplement is an excellent way to help your body synthesize more collagen to help reduce joint discomfort and improve mobility.

Joint pain is also common among high-performance athletes. In fact, the number one complaint runners, cyclists, and swimmers have is knee pain and arthritis symptoms. In a 24-week study1 on the use of collagen hydrolysate as a supplement in athletes with activity-related joint pain, the following was found: “athletes consuming collagen hydrolysate can reduce parameters (such as pain) that have a negative impact on athletic performance”.

2. Collagen for Skin Health, Hair, & Nails
Healthy skin – it’s firm, plump and wrinkle-free. As we age, however, all these qualities deteriorate as collagen production slows down. The skin sags, lines and dark spots appear around the crevices of your face, and the healthy glow you once had dulls down. Women in particular notice a decline in collagen following menopause.

There is a whole beauty industry dedicated to anti-aging products (like creams, serums, and masks) – but what they’re forgetting is that it’s what you ingest into your body that plays the most critical role.

Collagen is resorbable – this means it can be used by the body again when consumed orally.  This allows your body to maintain it’s ability to create new skin cells and replace and restore dead skin cells.

In a recent 2015 study2 conducted on the effect of collagen peptides on skin elasticity, hydration, and wrinkles, this was validated. It was found that “a combination of hydrolyzed collagen and hyaluronic acid, together with other ingredients, when consumed orally for 9 weeks can significantly reduce the depth of wrinkles, whereas there was no significant reduction with placebo. In fact, there was 8% reduction in wrinkle depth in the group taking the test product, which was found to be significant.”

Furthermore, the study also demonstrated “significant benefit of the test product on skin hydration of individuals consuming it on a daily basis. The water content of the dermis increased by 14% at week 6 from the baseline value. These same principles apply to hair and nails because collagen is also the primary building block for both!

3. Collagen for Digestive Issues
A poor diet is the root cause of most health problems – most notably the ones in your gut. What can you do to help ease digestive troubles? Your go-to is probably probiotics. They help populate your gut with friendly bacteria while also easing constipation and/or loose stools so that a healthy medium is restored.

Collagen is a wonderful complement to probiotics. It contains a wide variety of amino acids that support the production of bile and stomach acid while also promoting liver detoxification. This is especially useful for those dealing with digestive disorders like leaky gut and GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease).

Pointers for Purchase

  • When you set out to buy a collagen supplement, there’s one key word that absolutely should be on your radar – tryptophan. In short, collagen does not contain all the essential amino acids, unless you add tryptophan. It’s the missing link that completes collagen’s amino acid profile, helping to improve its protein quality.
  • The next point – always keep an eye out for Vitamin C.  Your body can’t use a collagen supplement unless there is a healthy dose of Vitamin C added to it.
  • Make sure the collagen is sourced from pasture-raised, grass fed cattle. This helps ensure the formula is free from both antibiotics and added hormones.
References:
1 Clark KL, Sebastianelli W, Flechsenhar KR, Aukermann DF, Meza F, Millard RL, Deitch JR, Sherbondy PS, Albert A. 24-Week study on the use of collagen hydrolysate as a dietary supplement in athletes with activity-related joint pain. Curr Med Res Opin. 2008 May;24(5):1485-96. doi: 10.1185/030079908X291967. Epub 2008 Apr 15. PubMed PMID: 18416885.
2 Borumand M, Sibilla S. Effects of a nutritional supplement containing collagen peptides on skin elasticity, hydration and wrinkles. Journal of Medical Nutrition & Nutraceuticals. 2014 December 05; 4(1):47 – 53.

 

Supporting cardiovascular health naturally

Supporting cardiovascular health naturally

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), heart disease is the number one cause of death globally and more people die annually from cardiovascular diseases than from any other cause (1). The Heart & Stroke Foundation identifies heart disease and stroke as the num­ber one cause of premature death in women, and states that most Canadian women have at least one risk factor for cardiovascular dis­ease (2). Reducing behavioural risk factors such as smoking, inactivity, stress, and an unhealthy diet are essential steps to supporting cardio­vascular health. Women with other risk factors such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol also benefit from early detection and management.

CardioSense® offers a natural way to maintain cardiovascular health. Each vegetarian capsule contains a blend of seven proven botanical extracts used in herbal medicine to help support healthy cholesterol levels, glucose metabolism, immunity, and resistance to stress. This formula also provides antioxidants that help protect against free radicals and help reduce symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency (CVI).

Berberine has been used in Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medi­cine for over 2,500 years. Its effects on glucose and lipid metabolism have been well documented, showing improved insulin secretion and sensitivity in type II diabetics as well as cholesterol lowering effects and nitric oxide inducing properties (3). Many randomized control trials have also demonstrated the herb’s beneficial effects on reducing cardiovascular risk factors. One meta-analysis showed that berberine produced a significant reduction in total cholesterol, triglycerides, and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels, with a remarkable increase in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) (4).

Inflammation also plays a critical role in the development of athero­sclerosis and heart disease. 5-LOX (5-lipoxygenase), a pro-inflam­matory enzyme in the body, supports the synthesis of leukotrienes (lipid mediators that induce inflammation). This, in turn, contributes to atherosclerosis in several ways – most notably by promoting arterial plaque formation, vascular permeability, and LDL oxidation. Boswellic acids – the active component of the herb boswellia – directly inhibit 5-LOX, thereby providing anti-inflammatory properties (5).

Chamomile is used in herbal medicine to help relieve inflammatory conditions of the gastrointestinal tract and is commonly known for its calming effects. Chamomile’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant prop­erties are thought to be a factor in supporting cardiovascular health (6).

Grape seed extract (GSE) provides a source of antioxidants and can be used for vascular and cardiovascular protection. It helps relieve symptoms related to non-complicated chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) and has been shown to support healthy blood pressure. A meta-analysis of nine randomized controlled trials showed GSE significantly lowered systolic blood pressure and heart rate (7).

Another commonly used herb for supporting heart health is hawthorn. It contains a high polyphenol content, particularly proanthocyanidins, which provide antioxidant activity and may play a role in reducing inflammation and supporting cardiovascular health (8).

Reishi mushroom has been consumed for over 2,000 years in Asia for its broad medicinal properties and is becoming increasingly popular in Western countries as a complementary medicine for cardiovascular health and stress reduction. Reishi is commonly used in herbal medicine to help increase energy and resistance to stress through its adaptogenic properties.

Nitric oxide helps blood vessels to relax and dilate, which can lower blood pressure. Beetroot extract provides a source of dietary nitrate, used in the body as nitric oxide, which has been shown to reduce blood pressure and increase vasodilation (9). Several human stud­ies have demonstrated the antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and vascular-protective effects offered by beetroot and its constituents Supplementation has been reported to reduce blood pressure and inflammation and decrease oxidative stress, making it one nutritional approach to managing cardiovascular health (10).

    

 

References:
1. World Health Organization. (2017). Cardiovascular diseases. Retrieved from www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/cardiovascular-diseases-(cvds)
2. Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. (2018). Retrieved from www.heartandstroke.ca/what-we-do/media-centre/stroke-report
3. Yin, J., Ye, J., & Jia, W. (2012). Effects and mechanisms of berberine in diabetes treatment. Acta Pharmaceutica Sinica B, 2(4), 327–334.
4. Dong, H., Zhao, Y., & Zhao, L., (2013). The effects of berberine on blood lipids: A systemic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Planta Medica 79(6), 437–446.
5. Jazzar, B., et al. (2009). On the interference of boswellic acids with 5-lipoxygenase: mechanistic studies in vitro and pharmacological relevance. European Journal of Pharmacology, 606(1-3), 246–254.
6. Kun, Z., Wei, S., Dalin, L., et al. (2017). Apigenin in the regulation of cholesterol metabolism and protection of blood vessels. Experimental and Therapeutic Medicine, 13(5), 1719–1724.
7. Feringa, H., Laskey, D., Dickson, J., et al. (2011). The effect of grape seed extract on cardiovascular risk markers: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 111(8), 1173–1181.
8. Cos, P., De Bruyne, T., Hermans, N., et al. (2004). Proanthocyanidins in health care: current and new trends. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 11(10), 1345–1359.
9. Notay, K., Incognito, A., & Millar, P. (2017). Acute beetroot juice supplementation on sympathetic nerve activity: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled proof-of-concept study. American Journal of Physiology-Heart and Circulatory Physiology, 313(1).
10. Clifford, T., Howatson, G., West, D. J., et al. (2015). The potential benefits of red beetroot supplementation in health and disease. Nutrients, 7(4), 2801–2822.

Brain and body wellness for vegetarians

Brain and body wellness for vegetarians

Omega-3 fatty acids are a hot topic these days – and for good reason! Omega-3 fats are found throughout the cellular membranes of our bodies and research suggests they can positively impact many aspects of our wellbeing including heart and brain health. However, since our bodies don’t produce omega-3 naturally, we can only acquire it by eating foods rich in essential fatty acids (EFAs). These EFAs are traditionally sourced from fish oils from salmon, mackerel, anchovies and sardine; from green leafy foods, as well as nuts and seeds; and increasingly, from sustainably-sourced oils derived from microalgae.

What are the most beneficial forms of omega-3?
There are three primary types of omega-3 fatty acids: ALA (ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). The health benefits commonly associated with omega-3 are primarily attributed to EPA or DHA – and unfortunately for those on a plant-based diet, the most common sources of vegetarian omega-3 like flax and walnut only contain ALA. While our bodies can convert ALA to more useful EPA and DHA, studies show that the conversion rate is only about 5%. So while leafy greens, nuts and seeds are all part of a balanced diet, they’re not a direct source of EPA and DHA.

Delicious plant-based omega-3 for a sustainable future.
While fish oil has long been famous for its high EPA and DHA content, fish don’t actually produce omega-3’s themselves. Instead, they accumulate their omega-3 reserves by consuming microalgae. New harvesting and processing technologies have made it possible to derive essential fatty acids directly from the microalgae at higher than previous amounts. As a vegetarian, now you can enjoy all the benefits of higher amounts of EPA and DHA found in fish oil – without the fish!

For example, NutraVege is one Canada’s best-selling plant-based liquid omega-3’s and derived entirely from algal oils high in beneficial EFAs. Their Extra Strength formula contains 1000 mg of EPA+DHA per teaspoon!  This makes it easier for those on a plant-based diet like vegetarians to get the benefits of omega-3 for the maintenance of their overall good health, cardiovascular health, brain function, and more. NutraVege is available across Canada in a range of light, tasty flavours and liquid gels.

Lichen it or not, vegan Vitamin D is here to stay.
Puns aside, many people choose to supplement their diet with both omega-3 and with vitamin D – often called the “sunshine” vitamin. Vitamin D is not naturally present in food sources. Instead, it’s produced by our bodies from exposure to sunlight which is in short supply during the long winter months.

Most Vitamin D supplements are typically derived from lanolin – in other words, sheep wool. So what’s a sun-starved vegan to do? NutraVege now offers their plant-based omega-3 with added Vitamin D derived from lichen. This sustainably-sourced Vitamin D is vegan certified, with no animal substances. Even better, it’s part of every teaspoon of NutraVege +D, providing 1000 IU of Vitamin D with every serving and helping develop and maintain healthy bones and teeth.

What about purity and potency?
When selecting an omega-3 or Vitamin D supplement, choose a product that has been third party tested by a program like PureCheck. That way, you can ensure your omega-3 is high quality – be it sourced from fish oil or algal oil. With PureCheck you can access the third party test results for potency, purity and oxidations tests of each lot of product online (www.purecheck.net) 24/7 to provide assurance you are getting a product that is both potent and pure.

 

            

Essential Oils for Valentine’s Day

Essential Oils for Valentine’s Day

Essential Oils for Valentine’s Day

Setting a romantic mood for Valentine’s Day is a sure way to create memorable moments. The right ambiance includes the perfect setting, delightful music and enticing aromas. Don’t leave all these details to chance! It is well known that smells can affect our emotions in a very primal way. Our nasal passages are connected to two brain areas strongly implicated in emotion and memory: the amygdala and hippocampus. But we don’t need science to tell us that smells can both make or break a mood. Make your perfect mood using essential oils, one of the most amazing tools available to round off the perfect evening.

A swell smell for two
First you need to pick out the right scent. While a pleasant scent may be in the nose of the beholder, NOW® has created the “Love at First Scent” kit which includes four popular romantic essences to promote love anytime, anywhere. The first bottle is a combination called, “Naturally Lovable Essential Oil Blend”, with Lemon Oil, Orange Oil, Sandalwood Blend, Jasmine Absolute Blend and Ylang Ylang Oil. It also includes a bottle of warm and spicy Cinnamon oil, romantic Rose Absolute oil and a sweet, fruity Bergamot oil.

Spreading the love
There are so many fun and creative ways in which you can entice your partner with lovely aromas.  You can keep it simple by using a diffuser to release a delightful mist into the room. Make your partner a spa like bubble bath; dilute a few drops of essential oils into a tablespoon of sweet almond oil or any oil of your choice and add this combination to the bath.

Draw your loved one closer by making an irresistible perfume:

Directions:
Fill a 5mL atomizer or 10mL roll-on glass bottle with Jojoba oil and top it off with 10 drops of Jasmine Absolute Blend.

Or, go the extra mile and surprise your loved one with some homemade bath bombs using romantic Rose Absolute oil:

DIY Rose Bath Bombs
These natural do-it-yourself bath bombs make any bath a lavish and relaxing spa experience. They’re perfect for Valentine’s Day, or as a handmade gift for any occasion.

Ingredients:
½ cup cornstarch
1 cup baking soda
½ cup Citric Acid
2 teaspoons Liquid Coconut Oil
¾ teaspoon water
16 drops Rose Absolute Oil
6 drops Ylang Ylang Oil
Small spray bottle filled with water
Soap molds, silicone molds, or small muffin tins
Optional: dried flowers or herbs

Directions:
1. In bowl, stir together dry ingredients: cornstarch, baking soda, citric acid, (and dried flowers or herbs if using) breaking up lumps.
2. Separately, mix together the wet ingredients: liquid coconut oil, water and essential oils.
3. Combine the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, mixing very thoroughly. The mixture should be the consistency of fine, moist sand when you squeeze the mixture in your palm (TIP: If the mixture crumbles too easily, you can use a spray bottle to spritz water gradually to desired consistency.)
4. If using dried flowers or herbs, place some in the bottom of each mold.
5. Fill each mold with the damp powder mixture, pressing everything in the mixture down firmly.
6. Allow the molds to sit overnight to dry and harden before removing from the molds.
7. For a fragrant and calming spa experience, add one bath bomb to your bath – or give away as memorable gifts!

Natural essential oils are highly concentrated and should be used with care. Do not exceed dilutions recommended for this recipe. For adults only. Keep out of reach of children. Not for internal use. Avoid contact with eyes. Consult healthcare practitioner before using if pregnant/nursing. Not intended for use with pets. Discontinue and consult your healthcare practitioner if rash appears after skin contact.

Enjoy Valentine’s Day and may it be a memorable one!

 

About the Author: NOW Foods

“NOW

Since 1968 NOW’s mission has been to provide value in products that empower healthier lives. To learn more about NOW visit nowfoods.ca.

Taking Heart Health Seriously

Supplement with CoQ10

Take Heart! Medical researchers tell us that many forms of heart disease can be prevented and even reversed. Doctors increasingly suggest integrated approaches to heart health that combine diet, lifestyle, nutritional supplementation, exercise and attitude with qualified professional health care. This holistic style empowers us all to actively participate in creating our own natural prescription for heart health. At the core of this heart health program is supplementation with CoQ10.

What is CoQ10 & What Does it Do?
Coenzyme Q10, also known as ubiquinol is a fat-soluble antioxidant with multiple therapeutic benefits. Found naturally in every cell, its name originates from the word ubiquitous, meaning “found everywhere.” Some of the highest concentrations of CoQ10 are found in our hearts. As an integral part of the energy-producing center of the cell (mitochondria), CoQ10 plays a critically important role in our overall health and metabolism. It literally helps to spark energy production within our cells.

Heart-felt Benefits
According to Dr Andrew Weil, one of the world’s leading integrative health physicians, coenzyme Q10 is super beneficial for heart health in many, many ways. It helps maintain the normal oxidative state of LDL cholesterol; it supports circulation and ensures optimal heart muscle function. CoQ10 may also improve the health of blood vessels. And that’s not all!

Coenzyme Q10 has been shown to reduce the number and severity of migraine headaches.

Especially recommended for those people with a family history of heart problems or with any increased risk for cardiovascular disease, CoQ10 is also safe and appropriate for healthy men and women as a preventive measure and to help maintain a healthy cardiovascular system.

Are You Deficient?
CoQ10 deficiency has been associated with cardiovascular problems including angina, arrhythmia, heart failure and high blood pressure. Problems with blood sugar regulation, gingival (gum) health, and stomach ulcers have also been associated with CoQ10 deficiency. Those who are taking statins to lower cholesterol are at particular risk for deficiency, because statins block normal CoQ10 synthesis in the body. Low CoQ10 levels in patients on statins can contribute to the common side effects of statin therapy such as fatigue and aching joints and muscles.

As we age, our CoQ10 levels naturally decrease, making us more susceptible to heart health problems. In addition, many medications have a negative impact our body’s CoQ10. The most common medications that can lower CoQ10 levels in the body include: statins and fibric acid derivatives (for cholesterol), beta-blockers (for high blood pressure), and tricyclic antidepressant medications. These deficiency risks can be reduced through regular supplementation. People report significant heart health improvements with the use of CoQ10.

Better Absorption, Better Results
Formulated in a base of pure olive oil and rice bran oil Prairie Naturals’ softgel CoQ10 is easy-to-swallow, readily absorbable, and delivers superior antioxidant protection to all parts of the body, especially the heart.

Licensed by Health Canada
In Canada, CoQ10 is primarily recognized by Health Canada for use as a powerful antioxidant to support heart health. It is also recognized as helping to prevent migraine headaches and its associated nausea and vomiting. Natural health experts recommend an adult daily dosage of 100 to 300 mg daily taken with a meal containing fat or as directed by a health professional. Licensed by Health Canada (Natural Product Number 80025389), CoQ10 from Prairie Naturals is tested by independent, government-approved laboratories to ensure potency and purity. Prairie Naturals is a family-owned Canadian company dedicated to providing high quality supplements that help you Live the Healthy Life!

 Recommended by Leading Physicians
Thousands of published studies tout the benefits of CoQ10 for everything from heart health to gum disease. It’s proven to be so good for so many reasons. But you don’t have to take my word for it. Check it out yourself. Simply go to the Pubmed website and type in “Coenzyme Q10.” The last time I looked there were over 3500 studies listed, some of them dating as far back as 1960 and others as recent as February 2017. With more than 50 years of published research, it’s no wonder CoQ10 is recommended by leading physicians all around the world!

Healthy Heart Habits

– Take CoQ10
– Fill up on veggies
– Drink plenty of water
– Eliminate soft drinks
– Eat lots of high-fibre foods
– Eat a few walnuts every day
– Reduce the sodium in your diet
– Eat more apples and citrus fruit
– Eat more flax, hemp and buckwheat
– Include whole grains in your daily diet
– Increase plant-source proteins like hemp and brown rice

 

1 2 3 9 Next →