How to Cook Beets Without Making a Mess

Peeling cooked beets can get really messy! In this video, I’ll show you an easy mess-free way to peel cooked beets that also helps to minimize waste – including wasting the nutrients that are concentrated right under the root veggie’s skin!

Veggie Rice Paper Wraps

These veggie rice paper wraps are a hit among veggie lovers and carnivores. They are fun to make, and easy enough to get many hands (even little ones!) involved. They make a great starter to a meal, or they can be a meal on their own, and are even great to have on hand as a snack! They store well for several days and you can change up what you put in them – and what you dip them in – to suit your taste. Get creative!

I’ll be dividing this recipe into two parts: one part for the wrap, and one part for the dip we decided to make to go with the wraps.

What You’ll Need For The Wraps

  • A package of rice vermicelli noodles. These are completely optional – and if you do use them, you’ll only need one ‘fold’ of noodles as you don’t really want to put a lot of them in each wrap. Prepare them as per package (which is usually just soaking them in hot water for 15 minutes or so) and then drain and rinse under cold water and set aside.
  • A package of round rice paper ‘wraps’. I used the medicum-sized ones.
  • An assortment of colourful julienned veggies to suit your taste. I used a couple of carrots, a cucumber, a yellow bell pepper, and an avocado. Use what you like. Bean sprouts or other sprouts would be a great addition. We kept ours vegan, but you could add some cooked chicken or other protein if desired.
  • Fresh herbs to suit your taste. I used basil, and would have also used mint and/or cilantro had I had some. Whatever you use, use the leaves only.
  • Some chopped up nuts for some textire. I used peanuts.
  • A vessel that is deep enough to hold an inch or so of warm water and wide enough to allow you to soak the rice wraps in fully flat. I used a large skillet.

Soaking/Prepping the Rice Paper

You can find rice paper at just about any grocery store. They come in various sizes, and you can choose whichever size you want depending on how large you want your wraps to be. I used the medium-sized ones as I like to tuck in the ends of my wraps when I make them. These are the ones I used:

Rice paper is thin and hard, so you have to soak it in warm water to allow it to become soft and pliable. This usually only takes about 10 to 15 seconds.  It is important that you only soak the papers ONE AT A TIME, as you are ready to use them as they become very stick once they’re soaked. Replace/replenished the warm water you soak the rice paper in from time to time. Here’s what my soaking station looked like:

Use your fingers to make sure that every part of the rice wrap gets submerged/soaked in water. You can see in the photo above that some of the edges curled up. I just gently pushed them under the water and also gently moved the rice paper around so all parts of it got a good soak. Since the rice paper gets sticky once it starts to soften, do your best to prevent it from folding in/over on itself (don’t panic if it does – you can usually carefully peel it apart!). Once the rice paper starts to soften, remove it from the water and place it on a smooth, flat surface. I used a cutting board, like this:

Select Your Fillings

Now comes the fun part – selecting your fillings! You can make your wraps all the same, or change them up for some variety and/or to cater to everyone’s taste! The only ‘rule’ to follow is to place all of your fillings closest to the edge of the rice paper that is facing you, in the first third of the circle so to speak. You can put as much or as little filling as you like, depending on how thick or thin you want the wraps to be. Not sure? Experiment! This is what ours looked like just before we rolled them up:

Get Rolling!

The rice wrap will be a bit sticky, which is great for rolling. Before you start rolling, make sure that all of your fillings are compactly placed. Then starting with the edge of the rice paper that is closest to you, pull it over your fillings and start to roll tightly, folding in the edges about halfway through your roll. Here’s a video to demonstrate!

Here’s what it looked like when we were all done rolling all our wraps -uncovered and then covered with damp paper towel … and since we didn’t eat them immediately, I also covered everything with plastic wrap (not shown below!) to make sure the rice paper didn’t dry out at all and then kept the wraps in the fridge until we were ready to eat them.

We ate most of these rolls within a few hours and stored the left overs in a sealed container, putting damp paper towels between the layers of wraps. They can be stored in the fridge for 2 or 3 days, but are best eaten freshly made.

These wraps are screaming for some dip, and it can be as simple as some store-bought tamari sauce as is or with a bit of sesame oil and grated fresh ginger root added, or plum sauce, or whatever sauce you think you’d enjoy with them. We chose to make a ginger-garlic-soy-peanut butter dip … 

What You’ll Need for the Peanut Dip

  • 1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 2 to 3 TBSP soy or tamari sauce (start with 2 – you can add more at the end if you think it needs it)
  • 1 TBSP sesame seed oil
  • 1 TBSP rice vinegar (if you don’t have any, you can use apple cider vinegar … that’s what I did this time around!)
  • 2 TBSP maple syrup
  • 1 tsp to 1 TBSP finely grated fresh ginger root (the amount depends on how much you love ginger!)
  • 2 or 3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • water (start with 2 TBSP and add more at the end if you want to thin out the dip)
  • NOTE – you can play around with this ‘recipe’ to suit your taste. I was tasting and adding as I went along!

Put all the ingredients into a small sauce pan over medium-low heat and stir until well combined. Warm for a minute or two. That’s it, that’s all … in fact, you really don’t have to ‘cook’ this sauce at all, but we like it a bit warm and I find warming it for a bit helps to bring all the flavours together.

It will still be equally delicious if you simply whisk all the ingredients together in a bowl or mix them up for a few seconds in a small food processor or ‘magic bullet’ type blender. 

Serve & Enjoy!

I like to cut the wraps in half on a diagonal cut to show off the colourful fillings, but you can definitely serve them whole! Arrange on a platter with some fresh herbs and a bowl full of dipping sauce.

Enjoy!

Flourless Coconut Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

These delicious cookies are so easy to make – and they are wheat-free, dairy-free, and egg-free! This recipe makes about 18 cookies, so you may want to double it as they go fast! They also freeze well. Preheat your oven to 350F and get started!

You Will Need:

  • 1/2 tsp of salt (I used Himalayan Crystal salt – the pink stuff!)
  • 1 tsp of baking powder
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 2 TBSP of maple syrup
  • 1 TBSP of chia seeds
  • 3 TBSP of water
  • 1/2 cup of oats
  • 1/2 cup of unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup of coconut sugar or brown sugar (I don’t like really sweet cookies, so I use 1/4 cup)
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips (dark chocolate SHOULD be dairy-free, but you never know, so make sure they are dairy-free if you need to avoid dairy)
  • 1/2 cup of any your favourite nut or seed butters, or a combination of them. I’ve used almond butter, peanut butter, and this nut & seed butter:
I usually buy this at Costco

Step 1: Soak The Chia Seeds

Mix the chia seeds, water, maple syrup, and vanilla extract together in a small glass and set aside for at least 5 minutes.

Step 2: Mix The Dry Ingredients Together

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients (oats, coconut, chocolate chips, cinnamon, salt and baking powder) and stir until all the ingredients are mixed together well/evenly mixed.

Step 3: Combine Wet & Dry

Add the chia seed mixture and the nut butter to the dry ingredient mix and stir until all is very well blended.

Step 4: Get Baking!

Scoop the cookie dough out onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet in ‘golf-ball’ sized scoops. I use my handy-dandy cookie-scooper-thingy. It scoops out 1.5 TBSP at a time. Once you’ve scooped out all the dough, you’ll have to roll the scoops into tidier balls, like I’m doing in the photo below (I wet my hands a bit or rub some coconut oil into my palms to prevent the dough from sticking to my hands):

Once you’ve rolled all the cookies, flatten each one out a bit using the bottom of a glass, your fingers, or whatever works for you! Note that this dough is pretty firm, which means the cookies won’t spread out a lot, so you can place them about an inch apart on the baking sheet.

Bake for 12 minutes or so. I like my cookies to be chewy on the inside, so I sometimes take them out around the 11 minute mark. Everyone’s oven can be a little different, so one way to check the ‘done-ness’ is to lift a cookie with a spatula. If the bottom looks golden, it should be done. Once done, place the cookies on a rack to cool for a few minutes (patience is a virtue). They should look something like this when they’re done:

Step 5: Enjoy!

Looks like someone couldn’t wait to dig in! 🙂

Should You Take a Multi?

One of the most common questions I get from clients, students, and workshop attendees is:

“I’m not sure if I should be taking any supplements. I eat really well, so wouldn’t I be getting all the nutrients I need from my food?”

My response to the above question is: “Not likely.”

Many years ago, I read an article written by Dr. Mark Hyman, who is currently the Board President of Clinical Affairs for the Institute of Functional Medicine. In it, he stated the following:

If people eat wild, fresh, organic, local, non-genetically modified food grown in virgin mineral and nutrient-rich soils, that has not been transported across vast distances and stored for months before being eaten, and work and live outside, breathe only fresh unpolluted air, drink only pure, clean water, sleep nine hours a night, move their bodies every day, and are free from chronic stressors and exposure to environmental toxins, then, perhaps, they might not need supplements.

As a Registered Nutritional Therapist and Natural Health Practitioner, I do a lot of good things for my health, and I still don’t meet those conditions … in fact, I don’t know anyone who does! Most of you know that I believe just about everyone could benefit from taking high-quality probiotic, omega-3, and vitamin D supplements that deliver therapeutic results; therefore, these are often my top three recommendations. But what about taking a multi-vitamin and mineral supplement (which I’ll refer to as multis moving forward)? Is it necessary?

What are Vitamins and Minerals?

Vitamins and minerals are essential nutrients that we need in varying amounts through our life. Essential means our bodies cannot manufacture them so we must get them from food and/or supplements. Vitamins and minerals are involved in every single one of the thousands of physiological reactions/processes that occur in our bodies to keep us alive and well, including building muscles and bones, proper nerve conduction, muscle contraction (including that of our beating heart), blood clotting, digesting food, making energy, and destroying pathogens (e.g. viruses, bacteria) and toxins. Each vitamin and mineral has a unique function in our body, and deficiencies in any of them – even small ones – can affect our health and our body’s ability to function optimally.

What’s a Supplement?

The definition of the word supplement is:

Something that completes or enhances something else when added to it’.

Applying this definition to nutrition, it should be clear that nutritional supplements are not a substitute for healthy eating, rather, they enhance healthy eating and are meant to provide nutrients that we may not be getting from even the healthiest of foods for many reasons, including:

  • Soil depletion: Conventional farming leads to nutrient depletion from the soil and therefore crops that are grown in the soil.
  • Food processing and preparation: Certain food processing methods (e.g. pasteurization, high-pressure extrusion, irradiation) and even certain cooking methods often negatively affect the nutrient content of foods.

  • Restricted or special diets: The avoidance of certain food groups can lead to a deficiency of the nutrients that those food groups provide; for example, vegetarians and vegans are at risk for vitamin D, vitamin B12 and iron deficiencies.
  • Medications: Many medications affect digestion and the absorption of certain nutrients.
  • Digestive disorders and food intolerances: These conditions, which unfortunately are so common today, affect the proper digestion of food as well as the absorption of nutrients.

What’s the Deal with Nutrient Deficiencies?

Nutrient deficiencies are more common than we think – especially when you consider that many folks don’t have much variety in their daily food choices. Variety is so important when it comes to getting nutrients from our food. A lack of variety often means a lack of nutrients. Unfortunately, there are mounting studies connecting the dots between nutrient deficiencies and the development of many of today’s top health concerns, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. The growing scientific field of nutrigenomics studies the relationship between nutrition and gene expression, especially regarding the prevention or treatment of disease. Consider multis as a form of health insurance, helping to fill nutritional gaps that may lead to health issues.

There also certain times in our life when we need extra nutrients, including during pregnancy as a brand new mini-human is being created, breastfeeding, as breast-fed baby and a fast-growing toddler, teenage years (commonly zinc for males and iron for females), during stressful times (including recovering from an illness), and during our elderly years when appetite and motivation to cook balanced meals can wane. Indeed, there are a mind-boggling variety of different multis that are customized to meet all of life’s phases and stages.

Which Multi is Right for You?

With so many multis on the market, the issue becomes how to choose one that is right for you, or perhaps even right for multiple members of your family. Many individuals choose a multi-vitamin because it is inexpensive, or because the brand offers a convenient ‘one-a-day’ dosage.

While everyone loves a bargain, there are some problems with shopping for supplements, including multis, using only price as a guideline. As with many things in life, you get what you pay for. In my opinion, the most important factors to consider when selecting a multi (or any supplement for that matter) are quality and bioavailability. These two factors will have a huge impact on how well the supplement is absorbed and utilized by the body, or in other words, how well it will be able to positively impact our health. 

Consider this analogy – although our cars can run on petroleum extracted from sand, they can’t run on sand; in fact, think about what would happen to your car if you put sand in its gas tank! Similarly, the nutrients in some multis are sourced from substances and/or contain ingredients that are as useless – and sometimes as harmful – to your body as sand is to your car.

Many companies don’t produce their own vitamins, and of those, many may not test what they buy. If supplements aren’t tested, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be getting what’s listed on the label. I’ve read several articles that state that many popular brands of supplements commonly purchased in drug stores or grocery stores only have a 7% to 10% absorption rate. That means that if the label says there’s 100 mg of vitamin C, you’re only absorbing 7 to 10 mg of it, or in other words, you’re flushing most of your vitamin C (and the money you paid for it) down the toilet!

What to Consider When Choosing a Multi

Here are just some questions you should consider when choosing a multi:

  • Are the products tested for quality and contaminants?
  • Where did the ingredients come from?
  • How is the tablet or capsule made?
  • How is the product processed and stored?

The bioavailability of a multi can be affected by something as simple as how it is made. Some multis have a list of ‘non-medicinal’ ingredients that are added as fillers, flavours, and preservatives. You may be shocked at the amount of sugar in chewable vitamins – especially ones for children. Many of these ingredients aren’t good for us and others can interfere with the absorption of the nutrients the multi contains.

In conclusion, including a high quality, professional grade multi in your supplement routine is a great way to assist you in meeting the overall nutrient requirements of your body. If you need any guidance regarding the selection of a high quality, professional grade multi, consult a nutritionist like yours truly who has already looked into this topic!

Note that I have access to a variety of multis and offer curb-side pickup (Ottawa west location) and in some cases can arrange for drop-shipments to your home (if you live in Canada), directly from the manufacturer (shipping and handling rates apply). 

Take control of what you can!

 

Twelve Days of Christmas Recipes

With the holiday season around the corner, I thought it would be timely to share some of my favourite recipes for this time of year. There’s something for everyone, and for every occasion, including soups & starters, appetizers, side dishes, a one-pot chicken curry, treats (including an easy no-bake recipe), and a festive breakfast idea … and they’re all gluten-free! In no particular order, here they are. Just click on the recipe title to get the recipe!

#1 – Leek and Cauliflower Soup

I love making this soup any time of year, and its festive red and green garnishes are perfect for the holidays!

#2 – Kale and Sweet Potato Casserole

Skip the potatoes this year and try this delicious and nutrient-packed casserole. Don’t like sweet potatoes or kale? The try this Cheesy Cauliflower and Spinach Casserole.

#3 – Coconutty Cinnamon Baked Squash

This baked squash is an easy and tasty side dish served as is. You can also use the baked squash halves as edible bowls and fill them with your favourite stew or curry as pictured!

#4 – Gingerbread Coconut Flour Cookies

I’m usually told not to ‘mess with’ my original Christmas cookie recipes … but sometimes I do to accommodate guests with celiac or gluten intolerance. These gingerbread peeps are cute and delicioius!

#5 – No Bake Date/Nut/Coconut/ Chocolate Balls

Don’t like baking? Need a holiday treat in a hurry? Try these delicious grain-free, egg-free, and dairy-free treats!

#6 – Easy-Peasy Eggnog

I’m not a huge eggnog fan, but I usually like to have a glass when we decorate the tree. This easy home-made version is egg-free and has way less sugar than store-bought.

#7 – Hummus

You can make this delicious hummus in no time at all for a fraction of the price of store bought ones which often use unhealthy oils. Skip the starchy pita bread and use veggies to scoop this yummy dip. Belgian endive leaves are one of my favourites!

#8 – Guacamole

Holy Moly this is a good guacamole! I’ll leave it at that. Try it with bell pepper slices and other veggies instead of corn chips!

#9 –Chickpea and Arichoke Salad

This delicious and healthy salad is quick and easy, so it’s perfect to throw together as a last minute contribution to a holiday pot luck.

#10 – Cheese Snip Cheesy Crackers

No need for crackers with these yummy cheese snip cheesy bites. Made with just cheese! A favourite crispy snack for those who need to avoid gluten .. and those who don’t! (p.s. if you need other grain-free/wheat-free snacks, check this out:  5 Grain-Free Appetizer & Party Foods

#11 – One-Pot Winner-Winner Coconutty Chicken Curry Dinner

This delicious one-pot chicken curry is the perfect way to warm up a crowd on a cold winter day. One of my family’s favourite tried and true recipes. Even if you just need to feed one or two, this is a great recipe as it freezes beautifully. Make it vegan or vegetarian by replacing chicken with more veggies (turnip, parsnip, kohlrabi – basically whatever you like!) and using veggie broth.

#12 – Delicious (Gluten-Free) Buckwheat Pancakes

I’m not gluten-intolerant so I could eat regular pancakes if I wanted to, but these ones are so much better. These buckwheat pancakes are easy to make and so yummy. Top them with plain yogurt, cinnamon, toasted coconut, maple syrup, and berries for a festive holiday breakfast.

Ho-Ho-Hope you’ll try one of these recipes! :o)

Enjoy!

The Benefits of Soup + 10 Soup Recipes

Chicken soup for a cold or flu. Bone broth for gut health. Pumpkin or squash soup to support bowel movements. These are recommendations that have been passed down for generations, so there must be something to them!

Soups are heart-warming and health boosting, offering some of the following benefits:

  • made with homemade stocks and broths, soups are a great source of minerals and collagen, contributing to digestive health, bone health, immune function, and more
  • loaded with veggies, soups are a great way to deliver a fibre-and-nutrient-packed meal, helping you to feel full
  • they are easy to digest
  • low-temperature simmering helps to retain the nutrients in the veggies and in the stock
  • they are easy to make – even in big batches, and they freeze well for make ahead meals
  • there are so many variations, you can satisfy even the pickiest eaters!

Here are 10 of my soup recipes, followed by my chicken stock recipe which I use in many of my soup recipes (you can use a veggie base broth too). If you don’t have time to make your own stock or broth, store bought brands will do (read the ingredients to make the best choice and buy organic if possible). I hope you’ll find one or two … or more soups … that appeal to you and give them a try! Just click on the name of the soup to get the recipe. Enjoy!

#1 – Tomato and Basil Soup

I love the combination of tomatoes and basil. This recipe makes approximately 8 cups of soup. I grow lots of tomatoes in my vegetable garden so that I can freeze them and have them on hand all winter long to make delicious soups like this one, as well as adding them to other dishes.

# 2 – Heart Healthy and Heart Warming Lentil Soup

Lentils are a tiny but mighty member of the legume family. Their high fibre content helps to keep cholesterol and blood sugar levels in check. They are also an excellent source of folate and magnesium – two minerals associated with cardiovascular health … that’s the heart healthy part of this recipe! This lentil soup recipe is based on one of my favourite childhood meals … that’s the heart warming part of this recipe! My mom always used dried lentils and homemade stock – and that is usually what I do too; however, it is still delicious using good-quality store bought broth and canned lentils. This recipe makes about 10 cups of soup and it freezes beautifully.

#3 – Leek and Cauliflower Soup

In addition to making a delicious soup, leeks and cauliflower are packed with health-boosting nutrients, many of which have been shown to protect and promote cardiovascular health. This recipe makes about 12 cups of soup and it freezes beautifully.

#4 – Butternut Squash – Leek – Ginger Soup

This is one of my favourite really-cold-weather soup! The warm flavour combinations are just right for a cold fall or winter day, and it’s loaded with health-boosting nutrients!

#5 – Carrot Ginger Soup

This soup is so so so delicious, you might not believe how quick and easy it is to make! Every single ingredient offers loads of health benefits too! It freezes beautifully, so feel free to double or triple or quadruple (etc, etc!) the recipe. This recipe makes about 8 cups of soup.

#6 – Coconuty & Gingery Pumpkin Soup

Many of us run out and buy pumpkins for Halloween and/or Thanksgiving and then forget about them; however, I encourage you to enjoy this winter squash for months beyond fall! Pumpkins are loaded with health-boosting nutrients, including powerful antioxidants such as beta-carotene, lutein, and xanthin. It’s also a great source of fibre and a wonderful food to promote bowel health. This recipe is made with fresh pumpkin. It freezes beautifully, so you can make big batches of this soup when pumpkins are available. You’ll also benefit from the health-boosting properties of coconut oil and coconut milk used in this recipe!

#7 – Gazpacho Soup

While you can make this tomato-based soup at any time of year, as it is served cold, I prefer it as a yummy way to start any summer-time meal! This recipe makes 6 to 8 servings.

#8 – Fiddlehead Ginger Soup

While there’s nothing like making this soup with fresh spring-time fiddleheads, frozen fiddleheads make this soup a year-round delight! Fiddleheads have often been called a food for the female body, perhaps because they are a good source of manganese which aids in the formation of mother’s milk and prevents post-partum depression. Some sources point out the resemblance between the shape of fiddleheads and the fallopian tubes of the female reproductive system. Interesting, huh? One thing is for certain – fiddleheads are delicious and they are packed with vitamins, minerals (especially iron), and antioxidants.

#9 – Roasted Butternut Squash Coconut Ginger Soup

Since fall is soup time, it’s great to have soup recipes that use fall and winter crops like squash. Try this Roasted Butternut Squash Coconut Ginger Soup on a cold fall or winter day. It freezes well and is also a great thermos lunch.

#10 – Roasted Pumpkin Soup

Another variation on a pumpkin soup. Top with roasted pumpkin seeds!

Chicken Stock 

This stock will be a delicious foundation for amazing soups, stews, sauces, and gravies, so it’s great to have some on hand at all times. It’s also great for drinking straight up! Chicken stock is known to have anti-microbial properties which can boost the immune system and heal the gut. It is also an important part of the GAPS™ protocol.

Do You Have Any Of These 12 Dementia Risk Factors?

According to the latest stats from the Alzheimer’s Society of Canada, over half a million Canadians are living with dementia and approximately 25,000 new cases are diagnosed every year. By 2031, the number of Canadians living with dementia is expected to increase by 66% to 937,000. In light of these predictions – and the fact that Canada’s health-care system is ill-equipped to deal with the staggering costs associated with dementia, it’s clear that we need to take control of what we can to reduce our own risk for developing dementia.

I recently read an article entitled “Twelve Risk Factors Linked to 40% of World’s Dementia Cases”. (1) As there is a history of dementia in my family, I wanted to see what this article had to add to my existing knowledge on the topic.

The article was based on an update to a report from the Lancet Commission on Dementia Prevention, Intervention, and Care (2) that was first published in 2017 and identified ‘nine modifiable risk factors that were estimated to be responsible for one third of dementia cases’.

Here are the 9 original risk factors from the 2017 Lancet Commission:

1. Not Completing Secondary Education

This affects an individual’s ‘cognitive reserve’; however, the ‘use it or lose it hypothesis’ was also mentioned and suggests that mental activity, in general, might improve cognitive function. Activities like travel, social outings, playing music, art, reading, and speaking a second language, were associated with maintaining cognition, independent of education, occupation, late-life activities, and current structural brain health. Exercise your brain!

2. Hypertension (High Blood Pressure/HBP)

HBP damanges the health of blood vessels, especially the delicate blood vessels that provide our brain with oxygen and nutrients. Vascular dementia is a general term describing problems with reasoning, planning, judgment, memory and other thought processes caused by impaired blood flow to the brain, which results in brain damage. HBP is a serious risk factor for having a stroke – and it is possible to develop dementia after a stroke, depending on the severity and location of a stroke.  It’s important to be aware of the factors that increase your risk of heart disease and stroke — including diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking – all of which also raise your risk for vascular dementia. Controlling these factors may help lower your chances of developing vascular dementia. I have written quite a few blogs on cardiovascular health. On my website, type “Heart” or “Cardiovascular” in the search bar.

3. Obesity

Obesity increases your risk of hypertension (mentioned above), diabetes (mentioned below), and is also accompanied by widespread inflammation in the body, including the brain.

4. Hearing Loss

Midlife hearing impairment is associated with volume losses of various parts of the brain, including a part of the brain called the hippocampus which plays an important role in many types of memory.  It isn’t uncommon for people with hearing loss to withdraw from conversations/social interactions, which might result in cognitive decline through reduced cognitive stimulation, Interestingly the report mentions a 25-year prospective study of 3,777 people aged 65 years or older that found increased dementia incidence in those with self-reported hearing problems except in those using hearing aids. Get your hearing tested and use a hearing aid if you need one!

5. Smoking

Is anyone surprised by the negative widespread impact smoking has on our health? That’s a no-brainer (pardon the pun)! Smoking is a serious risk factor for cardiovascular health, damaging blood vessels, and increasing the body’s toxic load.

6. Depression

This is a touchy one as it affects both our psychological and physical well-being. If you suffer from depression, or suspect someone you know does, talk about it and get support from health care practitioners, family, friends, and/or a support group. 

7. Physical Inactivity

Physical inactivity increases the risk of other dementia risk factors, including diabetes, hypertension, and obesity. Start moving! Even a 30 minute walk several times a week is a start!

8. Social Isolation

Social isolation negatively affects our cognitive reserve and behaviours that can support cognitive function. Seek support if you start feeling socially isolated – and if you know of someone who is socially isolated, reach out to them. Meetup.com is a great way to connect with people who share common interests.

9. Diabetes

Alzheimer’s is often referred to as ‘Type 3 Diabetes’. Diabetes damages blood vessel, including those in the brain. It also promotes insulin resistance in tissue cells, including brain cells, inhibiting cells to use glucose – their preferred source of energy. I have written quite a few blogs on sugar and its effect on our health. On my website, type “Sugar” or “Diabetes” in the search bar.

The three new risk factors that have been added in the latest update to the Lancet Commission (2020) are:

10. Excessive Alcohol Intake

This is associated with brain changes and cognitive impairment. Click here for Canada’s low risk alcohol drinking guidelines.

11. Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

TBIs include concussions (a hot topic in recent years). The related increased dementia risk is associated with the severity and the number of TBIs. Do not ignore knocks to your noggin! Get checked out by a health care practitioner and take your time recovering.

12. Air Pollution

Air pollution increases the body’s toxic load and can promote neurodegenerative processes through cerebrovascular and cardiovascular disease. This one is a bit more difficult to control; however, perhaps we can keep it in mind when we choose where we want to live, work, and play – and HOW we choose to live, work, and play, making sure that our own personal choices aren’t contributing to the problem.

The report included the following diagram, which is an interesting summary of the significance of the potentially modifiable risk factors for dementia and when they occur during our life.

The report also mentions the negative effects of lack of sleep. This is a big issue for a lot of people given the daily stressors so many of us are faced with. For tips on improving sleep, read my blog entitled “Getting a Good Night’s Sleep”. You can also type SLEEP in the search bar on my website for more sleep tips.

The statement that upset me the most in the report was the following:

“All-cause dementia incidence is lower in people born more recently, probably due to educational, socio-economic, health care, and lifestyle changes; however, in these countries increasing obesity and diabetes and declining physical activity might reverse this trajectory.”

Why did this upset me? Because while many of the risk factors for dementia can be difficult for us to have control over (e.g. education, socio-economic, health-care accessibility, hearing loss, air pollution, head injuries), we typically have a great deal of control – if not total control – over physical inactivity, obesity, and diabetes – and I know that obesity and diabetes can be prevented and reversed with nutrition!  Unfortunately, related to nutrition, the report stated that:

 “Nutrition and dietary components are challenging to research with controversies still raging around the role of many micronutrients and health outcomes in dementia.”

That was no big surprise to me. One reason why it’s challenging to properly research nutrition and dietary components is that they can’t be patented and turned into multi-billion dollar markets the way prescription drugs can! Don’t get me wrong, there’s a place and a time for medications, but they aren’t always the only option and, in many cases, they shouldn’t be the first option.

Finally, I want to add my own 2 cents and bring attention to three well-researched nutritional topics and their link to our cognitive health.

First, inflammation is recognized as a factor in dementia and Alzheimer’s; therefore, an anti-inflammatory diet and supplements can help. 

Second, your gut health affects your cognitive health.The Gut-Brain Axis (GBA) is a scientifically recognized 2-way biochemical communication pathway between our gut and our brain. The GBA has been shown to link cognitive centres of the brain with our gut health. There is a PILE of research that has been done, and that continues to be done, clearly demonstrating the link between the condition of our gut flora (the bacteria in our intestines) and our psychological and cognitive health. I’ve written quite a few blogs on the importance of our gut health. On my website, type “GUT HEALTH” in the search bar.

Third, much research shows that what is good for the heart is good for the brain – and much of that has to do with foods and supplements that provide loads of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. 

If you’re not sure how to positively impact the above 3 areas of your health, I would strongly suggest that you consult a Registered Nutritional Therapist, like yours truly. There is a lot of contradictory information out there on the World Wide Web – don’t put your health in the hands of Dr. Google! Consult someone who can separate fact from fiction and help you make meaningful, practical changes that will last a lifetime.

I’ll give you a bit of start by letting you know about 3 nutrients/supplements that will address each of the 3 topics listed above. These 3 nutrients/supplements are covered in detail in my free e-guide entitled “Foundational 4” which you received via email when you joined my email community. I’ve also written several blogs on each one, so you can search them on my website by using the search bar. They are:

  • Vitamin D (bio-emulsified)
  • Omega-3 (high quality, clean Neptune Krill Oil or Fish Oil)
  • Probiotics (clinically proven strains)

While we can get these nutrients from certain foods (and healthy food choices are the foundation of overall health), studies show that most us don’t get anywhere near enough through our meals/snacks. Given how critical each of these nutrients is to our overall health, including our brain/cognitive health, I supplement with them every day and strongly suggest my clients do too.

It’s important to know that not all brands of supplements are created equal – and many have never been reliably and/or validly tested to ensure they are delivering therapeutic benefits. I feel so strongly about the benefits of the supplements I personally take and make available to clients, that I am offering 25% off orders that include all three of these supplements from now until Dec 31 2020 to get you started. I can offer non-contact pick up or have them shipped to your home if you live in Canada for a flat $5 fee. For more information on this offer, email me at: info@perfectresonance.com with the subject line: ORDER REQUEST or call 613-299-4022.  Oh – and bonus benefit – these supplements also play a critical role in boosting our immunity – something that we all need right now.

Take control of what you can.

References

(1) https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/935013

(2) https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)30367-6/fulltext