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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

You donate it, but would you actually eat it?

(Ok, I'm getting on my soap box a bit here, so forgive my passion)

Every major city in Canada depends heavily on charitable organizations to provide food to people living in poverty. In Toronto, food banks serve about 60,000 people every month. More than 650,000 charitable meals are served every month in drop-ins, hostels and similar meal programs. Based on recent Toronto study, 20% of the $17 billion spent annually on health care in Ontario can be traced to diet-related health problems.
Yes we donate, but would you eat it? 
When we are called to donate we all do our best to fill the bins in the grocer, high schools and fire halls. Do we consider what we’re donating? I know those that donate cases of boxed mac & cheese, and of one person who admits that she would “never feed that to her own children” but she's ok to donate it. 

So why is it ok to donate crap food to the poor?

It’s an education when you accompany someone through the food bank, a box is prepared with mostly canned or boxed white pastas or rice, you get a limit of vegetables and frozen meats that have to last you a few meals or a week. I still can't believe what people are forced to live on.

This recent Canadian study(1) cites alarming rates of obesity are the ticking time bomb on our health care system with the poor being at the highest risk of: diabetes, heart disease and breast and colon cancers.

Kids in poor families have an alarming rate of obesity in Canada.
Fast food meals in a bag, or prepackaged boxed meals, feeds the family and if you’re a parent with 2-3 jobs and no time to cook, sometimes it feels like the only option. These meals offer little to no nutrition value, too much sodium and bad fats, compound this with no money for exercise programs, you have a generation of kids that will die before their parents. These ‘gut fill’ foods fill the belly but don’t nourish the body at all, they actually rob the body of vital nutrients.

Poor nutrition takes a toll on your physical health and your mind!
What's happening in the UK right now is a good example of the effect of poor nutrition on health and mental issues causing aggression in teenage girls. Violent teen-girl gangs are on the rise (2) and the newest threat on the streets. Roaming girl-gangs intimidate in numbers, push, mug, throw stones and knife, sometimes-innocent people without provocation. These girls are obese, rely on fast food and usually come from lower income families where parents aren't around due to job hours.

It’s no coincidence that the UK (but particularly Scotland) has one of the worst diets and one of the highest sugar consumption per person than anywhere else in the world and is experiencing this girl-gang phenomenon.
How can we wonder why these acts of violence are on the increase, when there are clear indicators of diet and aggression? As a society we’ve condemned these children to their fate.

This study from the American Journal of Psychiatry (3) states these issues with malnutrition start early in life “…children with malnutrition signs at age 3 years were more aggressive or hyperactive at age 8 years, had more externalizing problems at age 11, and had greater conduct disorder and excessive motor activity at age 17”.

Can this be plainer?
“If you suffer your people to be ill-educated, and their manners corrupted from infancy, and then punish them for those crimes to which their first education disposed them, what else is to be concluded, sire, but that you first make thieves and then punish them?”  Thomas Moore ‘Utopia’

As we see in here in Canada and in the UK, it’s the poor that pays the price with their health and the rest of us that pay the health care costs, with diseases we've helped give them.

What can you do?
Donate to your local food banks, of course, but have a bit of social consciousness when you fill up the donation bin. Reach for food that feed the body like: dried or canned legumes, canned vegetables, whole grain pasta, whole grain mixes, brown rice, olive oil and nut butters that are free of HFCS.

These healthy and inexpensive alternatives offers low-income families nutritional options that are more than gut fill. One can eat well and inexpensively on a vegetarian diet, $250 can feed a family of 4 for a month. Including fresh vegetables. If they are given the resources to eat this way, with socially conscious donations.

Education is key. Educate the poor on the benefits of a good diet and how to eat within an non-existent budget. Educate those that generously donate, even the corporations, on making more socially conscious decisions on donations. 

Everyone deserves to a healthy diet and a healthier life.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Hot this heat! Oye!

It feels like an all day hot flash, as we bathe in a sea of hot, humid weather here in Toronto.

I feel for all those women who have to contend with menopausal symptoms on a daily basis. Some women get them only a night, some get them throughout the day, others get severe mood changes and sweats. First thing you should know is...EVERY woman experiences perimenopause and menopause differently, it's a natural progression of the female life cycle.
It's not a disease to be treated, we're not sick.

What are some of the signs of perimenopause & menopause?
Hot Flashes
Sleep disturbances
Fibroid, breast or uterus
Heart palpitations
Blood pressure fluctuations
Bloating & heartburn
Weight Gain
Yeast & urinary infections
Increased serum cholesterol

Here are some the dietary changes you can make to help you cope with this transition of life.
Water, filtered 2L/day 
Fresh lemon juice, helps support your liver and your GI system
Soy - raw beans, milk, firm, silken tofu, phytoestrogens
Dandelion greens and tea
Fresh homemade juices, including the pulp
Vit B & C rich foods
Low Glycemic foods - berries, whole grains
Gluten free grains, in moderation
Agave nectar, organic unpasteurized honey, stevia
Green tea
•Ground chia seeds and cinnamon, good for blood sugar regulators
Dark green vegetables
Flax seed, ground and oil, lignans- anticancer, phytoestrogen, antioxidants, protect cardiovascular system
Calcium foods - dark greens over dairy
•Potassium rich foods help reduce blood pressure
•Magnesium rich foods help reduce nerve twitches, muscle cramps, and improves heart function 
Oily fish, salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring, anchovy 
Good fats, monounsaturated & polyunsaturated 
Good sat fat-coconut oil

Foods to limit or avoid 
Excess salt
•Spicy foods, increase heartburn and hot flashes
Caffeine, coffee, black tea, chocolate
Alcohol (yeast based - wine, beer, sulphites)
Processed fruit juices
White sugar
Deep fried fats
Trans or saturated fats
Fermented foods, watch for reactions
Red meats, lunch meats (nitrates, nitrites, sulphites, salt)
Nightshades (if inflammatory issues)

Here's some supplements that may help your discomfort: 
Multi vitamin/mineral, general health maintenance
Vit C&E for flushes of heat and blood pressure 
Vit D and Iodine or Lugol’s solution for fibrocystic breasts
Dong guai, hormone regulator
•CoQ10, great for heart, muscle and nerve function and has been shown to reduce blood pressure 
Ginseng, supports adrenals
Calcium / Magnesium, heart function, muscle pains and cramps
Chasterberry (vitex), hormone regulator PMS
Black Cohosh - better as a homeopathic, hormone regulator
Licorice root, reduces blood pressure short term
Vit B complex + B6 & B5 Energy and hormone regulation
High EFA Fish Oil, inflammation
Phytogreens, balance out acids, help liver detox
Chlorella, binds & removes heavy metals like mercury and lead
Chlorophyll, liver cleanse improves function and may reduce LDL
GLAs Evening primrose oil, Borage oil, Prilla Oil, hormone regulator
Chromium, level out blood sugar

Homeopathic medicines
Homeopathic medicines are as individual as each person who uses them, but here's some popular remedies that help women cope with the changes in their bodies.

Lachesis: If your flashes emanates from the top of your head, are worse just before sleep and immediately upon wakening and are accompanied by sweating, headaches, makes frequent mistakes in writing and speaking, chronic depression or manic behaviour needs to do everything quickly, anger, high blood pressure, palpitations, fainting and headaches.

Pulsatilla: If you flash less outdoors, flashes followed by intense chills, sour musty sweat, sweats on face and scalp, profuse sweat in morning,external heat is intolerable, headaches from rich foods (pastries, fats, ice cream), thirstlessness, changeable moods, craves affection, emotional cries easily, likes consolation.

Phosphorus: Cold clammy sweats, profuse at night in sleep, perspires on slight exertion, sweats exhaust, smell of sulphur, mostly sweats on head and feet, profuse bleeding of little wounds or profuse discharges, chilly alternating with heat wanting very cold drinks, aversion to warm foods and drinks.

Sulphur: If you feel the heat rising up from your waist to your face, profuse sweating especially the head with little exercise, sweat has sulphur odour, a person who doesn't do well with heat and seek cold drinks and compresses to cope, weak memory, very industrious or lazy, bored easily, unhealthy skin, breaks out easily, weak stomach 11am, dry skin with great thirst.

Sepia: Poor circulation, edema in extremities, cold sweats at night and are debilitating, sweats easily with offensive odour, reduced libido, dry skin from low estrogen, bearing down sensation in pelvic region-bladder, bowels or cramps, weak bladder, hot hands with cold feet, or visa-versa, palpitations, angry and sensitive, mentally and physically worn out, indifferent to loved ones

Mind spirit connection what can inhibit healthy body functions:
•Fear: money, being alone
•Unfulfilled expectations
•Negative self-talk, even self-deprecating humour needs to stop
•Chatty-Cathy brain- preventing sleep, making lists
•Numbing out emotions; food, alcohol, smoking, recreation drugs and prescription drugs, coffee, become unplugged to yourself and your body
Become more connected to yourself, what makes you happier and strive to achieve what you desire•Find positive releases for tension and stress: exercise, yoga, laughing yoga, laughter, meditation, pilates
•Explore spirituality – Dr Wayne Dyer, Louise Hay, Eckhart Tolle
•Get back into your religion or explore other religions
•Find your passion, if it’s lost take 'the passion test' to see if your passion has evolved
•Journal, Positive thoughts and aspirations and stay away from fears and negative talk
Since every woman is different, so is their plan to help alleviate their discomfort and help them transition into a healthy post-menopausal life. For a free 15minute consult, contact me at