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

What I’m Doing for Extra Protection this Flu Season

Those of you who know me/follow me are likely familiar with my ‘flu season’ daily supplement protocol. For years and years and years it has included at least 4,000 IU of bio-emulsified vitamin D (I will double that for a week or so if I feel like I might be fighting something), in addition to my usual daily supplements (a probiotic with clinically proven bacterial strains, and a high quality, pure, highly bio-available fish oil or krill oil).

This year, based on accumulating research, I’ll be adding something new to the mix – liposomal vitamin C.

Isn’t All Vitamin C The Same?

I’m guessing you or someone you know has taken vitamin C during cold and flu season. There’s no doubt that vitamin C supports our immune system and our health in general; however, the form of vitamin C that you take makes a huge difference to how much of it is absorbed and used by the body. With common vitamin C supplements, you’ll likely absorb less than 30% of what the tablet or capsule contains; for example, if the label says that one of your chewable vitamin C tablets contains 1,000mg of vitamin C, you’ll be lucky if you absorb 300mg of that. Liposomal vitamin C is being referred to as a ground-breaking way to get high-dose vitamin C (the only other way is intravenously).

What Makes Liposomal Vitamin C Better?

What is it about liposomal vitamin C that gives it a substantially higher absorption rate compared to conventional vitamin C supplements? The answer is that it is coated with fat – more specifically a type of fat called phospholipids. For this to make any sense, you need to understand some basics about cellular biology – and you’re in luck – because in addition to my nutrition training, I have a B Sc in biology and I also teach health science courses at a couple of local private career colleges. So here’s a quick lesson related to phospholipids.

Phospholipids – We Can’t Live Without Them!

Phospholipids are a vital structural lipid/fat in the body. Their main function is that they are part of our cell membranes. Phospholipids have a hydrophobic (water-fearing) tail, and a hydrophilic (water-loving) head, and this structure (that I sometimes refer to as a ‘fat-sandwich) is the foundation of a cell membrane’s structure and function, which affects the cell’s overall structure and function, including what can easily get absorbed into the cell.

A cell’s membrane is made up of 2 layers of phospholipids (a bilayer) with their fat-fearing tails pointed towards each other. These layers are also supported by cholesterol, another fat-based substance. Substances that are not ‘fat-based’ face challenges when trying to cross the highly fat-based cell membrane.

This is where liposomes come in.  A liposome is a spherical-shaped vesicle, and just like a cell, it has a phospholipid bilayer shell.

When nutrients are inserted into/coated by a liposome, they are more easily absorbed into our cells. Why? First, because it’s easier for them to cross the cell’s fatty membrane, and second because our cells eagerly welcome substances containing phospholipids since they are needed to maintain, build, and repair our cell’s own phospholipid bilayer.

Vitamin C is a water-soluble/water-loving vitamin – so it’s a challenge for it to cross a cell’s fatty phospholipid cell membrane in order to enter the cell (think mixing oil and water).  Encapsulating vitamin C in a liposome solves this problem. Liposomes have been successfully used for decades as a way to better deliver nutrients to specific cells of the body. 

Where’s The Proof?

The therapeutic value of liposome encapsulated nutrients has been scientifically proven numerous times, and at present, liposomes are still cited as the most bioavailable way to deliver certain nutrients to our cells, including vitamin C.

A recent human study compared blood levels of vitamin C in subjects taking liposomal vs non-liposomal vitamin C and also compared it to intravenous vitamin C. The study’s data indicated that “oral delivery of 4 g of vitamin C encapsulated in liposomes produces circulating concentrations of vitamin C that are greater than unencapsulated oral but less than intravenous administration.”

While intravenous vitamin C has 100% bio-availability, it’s not something that is available to the general public. It must be prescribed, monitored, and administered by a specially trained health care provider and it can take hours, so liposomal vitamin C is the next best thing.

Connections to Covid-19?

I have heard about new research suggesting that high doses of oral liposomal vitamin C may speed up the recovery process in Covid-19 patients. I haven’t looked into it yet, so can’t comment on it; however, a recent article entitled: A Supercomputer Analyzed Covid-19 — and an Interesting New Theory Has Emerged discusses a new theory about how Covid-19 impacts the body and describes it as a vascular disease. While the article doesn’t mention it, one of the most important nutrients for vascular health and repair is vitamin C. The article does mention another nutrient though, and while those of you who follow me on Facebook may already know what that nutrient is, it’s worth sharing again here for those of you who don’t.

As an anatomy & physiology instructor, I found the mechanisms described in the article very interesting. As a practicing nutritionist, the following paragraph (from the article) was the most important one, as it gives us a practical way to protect ourselves:

Interestingly, Jacobson’s team also suggests vitamin D as a potentially useful Covid-19 drug. The vitamin is involved in the RAS system and could prove helpful by reducing levels of another compound, known as REN. Again, this could stop potentially deadly bradykinin storms from forming. The researchers note that vitamin D has already been shown to help those with Covid-19. The vitamin is readily available over the counter, and around 20% of the population is deficient. If indeed the vitamin proves effective at reducing the severity of bradykinin storms, it could be an easy, relatively safe way to reduce the severity of the virus.

Incidentally, I have seen reports that over 2/3 of Canadians are deficient in vitamin D.

Buyer Beware

Unfortunately, not all liposomal vitamin C supplements are the real thing; that is, rather than being encapsulated in a lipsome (the real thing), the product has simply had some fat added to it. I’ve done quite a bit of reading on how to choose the best liposomal vitamin C product and have found a trusted supplier.

As flu season ‘officially’ starts in October and goes to the end of March, I’ve stocked up on vitamin D and liposomal vitamin C for my family and encourage you to do the same.

 

The vitamin D is $30 + HST per bottle and lasts for months. The liposomal vitamin C is $48 + HST and lasts for one month. If you are interested in one or both of these products to support you during flu season, send an email to info@perfectresonance.com or call/text 613-299-4022 and I will contact you to arrange payment (via credit card or e-transfer)  and contact-less pick up (in Ottawa) or delivery (shipped anywhere in Canada for a flat fee of $5.00). 

Take control of what you can – it’s so important right now.

References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4915787/
  2. https://elemental.medium.com/a-supercomputer-analyzed-covid-19-and-an-interesting-new-theory-has-emerged-31cb8eba9d63

 

Zucchini Fritters with Chickpea Flour

Thanks to the pandemic, many folks had time on their hands to plant their very first veggie garden, or perhaps to expand their existing one. I’m seeing tons of posts on social media where folks are giving away zucchini as they can’t keep up with what their gardens are producing! With so much local zucchini available right now, whether its from your own garden, a family or friend’s garden, a farmers market, or the grocery store, zucchini fritters are a great way to enjoy them.

I love these fritters as they are made with chickpea flour. That means they are wheat-free/gluten-free. Chickpea flour is a good source of fibre and contains a wide variety of health-boosting vitamins and minerals, such as  calcium, magnesium, and B-vitamins, including folate.  These fritters are easy to make, great for breakfasts, lunches, dinners, or snacks, and you can spice them up to suit your taste. This recipe makes 6 to 8 medium-sized (about 4 inches in diameter) fritters. 

Enjoy!

You Will Need:

  • 3 cups of grated zucchini (1 really big one or 3 to 4 medium-sized zucchini … and see Step 1 re: prepping them)
  • 1 cup of grated white onion (1 large onion should be enough)
  • 1 cup of chickpea flour (I got mine at Bulk Barn this time around)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp of baking powder
  • 1 TBSP of chopped fresh parsley
  • 1.5 tsp of salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground pepper
  • 4 TBSP water
  • 3-4 TBSP of olive oil and butter (for frying)
  • Optional: spices to your liking, e.g. cumin, curry powder, oregano

Step 1: Prep the Zukes

If your zucchini is a big bubba, like mine was, with thick skin and lots of seeds, cut it up, scoop out seeds, and peel. You won’t have to do this with the average-sized zucchini you buy at the store. I only ended up using 1/2 of my giant zucchini … the other half got turned into 2 dozen muffins.

Step 2: Grate the Zukes

You can grate the zucchini using a box grater or a food processor or other appliance with a grating blade. I used my food processor. Once it’s grated, transfer it into a bowl.

Step 3: Drain the Grated Zuke

Zucchini has a high water content (it’s on my list of 10 Ways to Eat Water), so it’s important to get all that water out or you’re going to end up with zucchini soup instead of zucchini fritters. Sprinkle the grated zucchini with a good pinch of salt, mix it all up, then let it sit in the bowl for about 10 minutes or so. You can move on to the rest of the prepping in the meantime.  After 10 minutes, place the grated zuke in a colander and squeeze all the water out. I did it over a measuring bowl only because I wanted to show you how much water came out … see?

Step 4: Grate the Onion

I used my food processor with grating blade again for the onion. You can see there’s quite a bit of liquid in the bottom of the food processor. Make sure you drain off the liquid. No need to salt and squeeze like you did with the grated zucchini – just drain it well. I just put it in a colander and tossed it a few times, then set it aside to drain.

Set 5: Make the Batter

First, whisk together the 2 eggs, 1.5 tsp of salt, and 4 TBSP water.

Next, add the 1/2 tsp of baking powder to the chickpea flour and mix well. Then add the flour to the eggs and mix well. It should be quite thick, but still be able to slowly ‘drip/fall’ off the whisk. If you find it’s too thick, add a bit more water.  

Step 6: Mix It All Up!

Add the drained grated zuke and onion, the parsley, and the salt and pepper (and any other herb or spice that strikes your fancy) to the batter and mix it all together until it’s well combined. 

Step 7: Fry Them Fritters!

On medium-ish heat (every stove is different), and using a pan that you know won’t end up with everything sticking to it (I used my trusted seasoned cast iron pan) heat the 4 TBSP of butter & olive oil (2 TBSP of each) until it is hot enough for frying. You can test it by putting a tiny bit of batter in the pan and see if it starts to ‘sizzle’. When the butter and oil are hot enough, ladle the batter into the pan, then encourage it to spread out into 4-inch circles by gently using the bottom of the ladle. You want the fritter to be a bit thicker than a pancake. Let it cook for a few minutes, flipping only when the bottom is nicely browned (check by gently lifting up and edge with a spatula/flippy-thingy). Cook a few more minutes until both sides are nicely browned. If the fritter is under-cooked, the middle will be gummy. Yuck.

Repeat with remaining batter. I keep the cooked fritters warming in our toaster oven while I cook the remaining batter.

Step 8: Serve!

These fritters are great for breakfast with soft poached or fried eggs on top, lunch or dinner with a salad and/or other veggie sides, or on their own as a snack (I’ve been known to eat refrigerated leftover ones as is). Great topped with your favourite salsa or chutney too! You can keep any leftover fritters in the fridge for a few days. They also freeze well in a container or freezer bag – just make sure you put parchment paper between each fritter so they don’t freeze together in one big lump. 

Enjoy!

10 Immune-Boosting Foods to Pack in Lunches

We’ve heard plenty about how to prevent ourselves from getting sick from the outside-in (wash your hands, don’t touch your face, stay 2 metres apart, sneeze into the crook of your elbow, wear a mask, etc), but not much about how to prevent ourselves from getting sick from the inside-out. Nutrition plays an important role in boosting our immune systems.

In the past several months, many of us have had more time to focus on eating healthier, including preparing more home made meals, eating out less often, and even growing some of our own veggies for the first time. It seems easier for many of us to eat healthier when we aren’t rushing around to and from commitments, including work and school.

As many of us are in the process of returning back to the workplace or sending kids back off to school, packing lunches is back on the to-do list, so in this blog, I’m listing 10 immune-boosting foods to pack for lunch.

1. Foods rich in Vitamin C

Most fruits and vegetables contain some amount of Vitamin C. These foods boost your immune system by offering anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant benefits. Some examples of vitamin C foods that would be easy to include in lunches are: oranges, grapefruit (consider pre-peeling and packing individual wedges so the fruit is ready to eat!), apples, kiwi (if washed, you can eat the skin), fresh papaya chunks (papaya is also a great digestive aid), red bell pepper slices (yummy to dip into some humus), and tomatoes (cherry/baby tomatoes are easy to pack and eat).

2. Foods rich in beta-carotene

Beta-carotene is an orange-coloured pigment, so it makes sense that most orange-coloured fruits and veggies are good sources of beta-carotene … however, so are dark leafy greens (the orange pigment is hidden by green chlorphyll). Some examples of beta-carotene rich foods that would be yummy to include in lunches are: baby carrots/carrot sticks, orange bell pepper slices, apricots, left over baked/roasted sweet potato, squash, or pumpkin. There are also some yummy soups and baked treats you can make with squash and pumpkin. I often sent my kids to school with a thermos full of soup. Here are a few recipe ideas for you:

Gluten-free Baked Pumpkin Spice Donuts

Carrot-Ginger Soup

Butternut Squash – Leek – Ginger Soup

For more squash/pumpkin/carrot recipes, just use the search bar of my website and type in one of those veggies!

Salads, even some pre-made bagged ones, are a great way to get beta-carotene from greens. When I get a head of lettuce or any greens, I wash and prep all of it, wrap it in a mildly damp dishtowel that I then put in a plastic bag, then put in the fridge. The greens will stay fresh for days and then they will be ready to go! 

3. Cruciferous Veggies

Cruciferous vegetables are loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, and immune system boosting nutrients. A lot of veggies fall into the cruciferous category; however, easy ones to include in lunches are broccoli and cauliflower (florets would be great with some humus dip!), as well as arugula, radishes, and watercress that could be added to salads.

4. Berries

Berries are tiny but powerful when it comes to supporting our health. Pack some blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and/or strawberries in your lunch. Buy organic strawberries whenever possible, as conventionally grown strawberries are typically high in pesticide residue.

5. Probiotic foods

There is no doubt that probiotic foods support gut health – and a healthy gut is foundational to overall health, in particular the health of our immune system. Probiotic foods that can be easily packed for lunch include plain, organic, whole fat yogurt or kefir. Add your own fruit (like berries!) and avoid flavoured yogurts as most of them contain a lot of sugar. You can also pack kombucha as a beverage instead of fruit juice. You can find it at just about any grocery store now, or you could try to make your own! Easy and affordable. Here’s my recipe!

6. Foods Rich in Vitamin D

There is a boat-load of research that links vitamin D to immune system function. Unfortunately,  most of us are deficient and it’s difficult to get enough from our food. That is why it is recommended to supplement with vitamin D. I’ve written a lot of blogs on vitamin D given how critical it is to our overall health. While we can get vitamin D from food, many of us don’t eat enough of them to have a health-boosting effect (e.g. organ meats like liver, and fatty fish like sardines and mackerel).  However, a couple of suggestions for the lunch box include hard boiled eggs (as is or as an egg salad), and tuna or salmon (either left over from dinner or canned).

7. Foods Rich in Omega-3s

Like vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids are critical to overall health and most of us are seriously deficient. Omega-3’s big health claim is that they are anti-inflammatory  – which is a big deal as inflammation is involved in virtually every disease process. The best sources of omega-3s are fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, and herring … so maybe some canned salmon for lunch as is or on a salad or in a sandwich? Some nuts (e.g. walnuts) and seeds (flax and chia) also provide some omega-3s. Nut and seed buttters containing them could be included in lunch snacks (e.g. apple slices and nut/seed butter) depending on the school’s/workplace’s nut-free policy.  It’s challenging to get enough omega-3s from our meals and snacks, so I strongly recommend supplements.

8. Healthy Fats & Oils

This is a confusing topic, and being misinformed can be hazardous to your health. I go into it in detail in my pre-recorded webinar, “The Skinny on Fats”.  In general, avoid vegetable oils including soy oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil, and canola oil. Healthier oils include olive oil, ghee (clarified butter), avocado oil, and coconut oil. Read labels when buying packaged foods to see what types of oils they contain.

9. Anything Coconut

Coconut and coconut oil contain medium-chain triglyceride (MCTs) which have been shown to support gut health and immunity due to MCTs bacteria-fighting and antioxidant properties. One of these MCTs is called lauric acid. Lauric acid is a medium chain fatty acid, which the human body can convert into a substance called monolaurin. Monolaurin has antiviral, antibacterial, and antiprotozoal properties. Interestingly, breast milk contains lauric acid and a study published in 1998, in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, revealed that lactating mothers who eat coconut oil and coconut products, increased lauric acid levels in their breast milk significantly – up to three times the original level.

10. Broths and Stocks

Properly made broths and stocks are rich in nutrients. Gramma knew what she was doing when she made us chicken soup when we had a cold or flu. Some research has shown that chicken stock has nti-microbial properties which can boost the immune system and heal the gut. My mom always had homemade chicken stock on hand, and so do I. I make big batches so there’s plenty to freeze. It is the base of many of the soup recipes on my website. A thermos full of a yummy homemade soup is a great lunch, especially during the fall and winter months (aka flu season). Here’s my chicken stock recipe.

Presentation Counts!

If you are packing lunches, keep in mind that sometimes the difference between a child eating or not eating their lunch is all in the “marketing”, that is, the presentation and packaging. My kids are all grown up now, but our favourite lunch gear was from a company called Bentology. Bentology products are designed to help you pack nutritious bento box style lunches for school (or work … or play!). The unique design of this durable line of products makes it easy to break free of the sandwich mentality, and as a bonus, the products are free of phthalates, BPA, PVC, or lead. These fun & kid-friendly containers that transform lunch-bag letdown into lunch-bag fun! Great for adults too!

One Last Thought …

Finally, a word about immune-boosting supplements. Before you spend a fortune on a bunch of supplements to help keep you healthy, make sure you’ve covered the foundational basics. In my opinion, these 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 immune system, 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 supporting our mental health – something that many of us could use right now.

Take control of what you can.

My Favourite Summer Recipes

“Sun is shining. Weather is sweet. Make you wanna move your dancing feet.” – Bob Marley

Ah summer! I love it for so many reasons! A few of my favourite things about summer are being barefoot on the grass, being in, on, or near water, warm lingering evenings outdoors, eating meals outside, and our veggie garden.

In this blog, I’m sharing 12 of my favourite summer time recipes, including appetizers, mains, sides, and dessert! I hope you’ll try a few (or all!) of them!

To view the recipe, click on the recipe title (which should appear in BLUE font on your screen).

Enjoy!

1 – Chickpea & Artichoke Heart Salad

I’ve been making this salad for years. It is so easy and really delicious. It’s a great side dish to poultry or fish mains (especially if they have a Mediterranean theme), and a perfect dish to bring to a picnic, potluck, or BBQ. You can make it more substantial by adding a cup or so of cooked quinoa.

2 – Delicious Stuffed Zucchini

Any time now, I’ll have zucchini coming out of my ears! You can use whatever veggies and other ingredients you like for the stuffing – no need to stick to what I’ve used. Just make sure you use something that will hold the filling together. I used an egg and some cheese, You can freeze these once they’re stuffed/before you bake them; however, I enjoy them best when they are fresh out of the oven. 

3 – Fresh Herb & Garlic Topped Grilled Tomatoes

These grilled tomatoes were a regular side-dish to my family’s BBQ meals for as long as I can remember. You can make them any time of year, but I especially love making them in late summer/early fall when the tomatoes, garlic, and herbs are fresh out of the garden. If you don’t have a BBQ, you can make these in the oven too! Tomatoes are loaded with health-boosting nutrients, including lycopene – a strong anti-oxidant associated with cancer-prevention (especially prostate cancer), cardiovascular health, and more recently with bone health!

4 – Grilled Salmon Burger Dinner

This dinner is soooo easy and so good!!! Homemade salmon burgers, grilled veggies with a red onion ‘chutney’ and fresh tomatoes that I drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with unrefined sea salt.

5 – Broccoli Salad

This broccoli salad is packed with nutrient-dense foods and makes a great side at any time of year. Use pomegranate seeds, diced red bell pepper, or dried cranberries instead of (or in addition to) the raisins for a festive look!

6 – Grilled Veggies on Quinoa Tabouleh

This is a great side-dish at any time of year, but especially when gardens/farmers markets are bursting with fresh, local veggies. You can serve it warm or cold, and leftovers keep well for a few days. Easy to make for a big gathering  – I once made this dish for a family reunion of 24+! This dish is LOADED with nutrients and fibre – and it’s DELICIOUS.

7 – Dips (see individual links below)

Check out these dips! Great for veggie platters or as a condiment for grilled meats, poultry, fish, burgers, or veggies. Delicious and versatile!

Hummus

The ingredients of this popular Middle Eastern dish, commonly served as a dip or spread, deliver taste and  offer a variety of health benefits; for example, chickpeas are a great source of protein, tahini (made from sesame seeds) is a great source of calcium, and olive oil is loaded with heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. It’s quick and easy – once you have the ingredients assembled, just throw them into a food processor or blender and you’re done!

Guacamole

Avocados offer some pretty amazing health benefits. They’re loaded with antioxidants, as well as healthy fats that promote heart health and fight inflammation. Guacamole is a delicious way to enjoy all the health benefits of avocados. This recipe is quick and easy…and includes a tip for preventing your left over guacamole from turning brown!

Tzatziki

This is a delicious and refreshing dish that can be used as a veggie dip, salad topping, or as a condiment with grilled chicken/chicken souvlaki.

Cilantro-Lime-Jalapeno-Garlic

I first tried this dressing at a family celebration in Nova Scotia one summer, and the guest who brought it later sent me the recipe. It was served on the side, to be drizzled over a roasted vegetable salad. I love roasted veggie salads and I LOVE cilantro, so this sounded like a winning combination to me … and it certainly is!

8 – Pesto

I love basil … so I grow a lot of it -and I don’t want a single leaf of it to go to waste! My pesto recipe is easy and so delicious! 

9 – Fresh Tomato, Basil, & Garlic Buckwheat Pasta

It takes me about 10 minutes to make this yummy pasta dish. My inspiration was some freshly picked tomatoes and basil from my garden.

10 – Gazpacho

This tomato-based soup is served chilled and is a great addition to any summer-time meal! 

11 – Tomato & Basil Soup

I love the combination of tomatoes and basil. Mmmmm! I grow lots of tomatoes in our 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.

12 – Chocolate Nut Butter Banana Frozen Treats

These dairy-free, egg-free, gluten-free, and sugar-free (other than the natural sugars in the bananas) frozen treats are super easy to make and a perfect way to use up very ripe bananas! You can make them up in popsicle molds for a classic casual fudgesicle-like summer treat, or in muffin tins or other fancier molds to serve them up as a more formal dessert. Feel free to experiment with this recipe by adding your own favourite flavours … maybe some cayenne pepper, or chopped up nuts, or even some fresh summer herbs such as mint. 

4 Reasons Why You Should Eat Papaya AND Its Seeds

Papaya is a delicious sweet and juicy tropical fruit with a lovely soft texture when it is ripe. I’ve heard people describe its taste as a cross between a mango and a cantaloupe. Being delicious is a great reason to add papayas to your grocery list. but the 4 reasons I’m presenting in this blog are related to the fact that papayas are loaded with health-boosting antioxidants, flavonoids, B vitamins, potassium, magnesium, and fibre. I’ll also show you how to collect and use papaya seeds to spice up your meals and why you should!

1 – Papaya Supports Digestive Health

Papaya contains papain – an enzyme that helps digest proteins. This enzyme is so effective, that it is extracted from papaya to make digestive enzyme supplements. Note that the enzyme is especially concentrated in unripe papayas – often referred to as ‘green papaya’ – which is often used as a base for salads, primarily in Thai cuisine (every had som tam?). Is it possible this traditional Thai salad is served to help with the digestion of proteins in the meal? Hmmmm! If any of you have had consults with me regarding digestive issues and/or have attended my workshops/Lunch & Learns on the topic of digestive health, you may recall that I mention papaya as one way to support digestion.

2 – Papaya Protects Against Cardiovascular Disease

Papayas are an excellent source of vitamin C, carotenoids, folate, and fibre – all of which have been shown to promote cardiovascular health by promoting healthy cholesterol metabolism and/or strengthening, and preventing inflammation of, blood vessel walls.

3 – Papaya Protects Against Cancer

The nutrients in papaya have been shown to be helpful in the prevention of cancer, in particular colon cancer and prostate cancer. Papaya contains folate, vitamin C, beta-carotene, and vitamin E – all of which have been associated with a reduced risk of colon cancer. Papaya also contains lycopene – a substance that has been shown to reduce the risk of colon and prostate cancers. Note that other lycopene-rich foods include tomatoes and watermelon.

4 – Papaya Fights Inflammation

Papain has been shown to reduce inflammation, which is the root cause of virtually every health issue in the body. A few common examples of inflammatory diseases are arthritis, cardiovascular disease, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), Crohn’s disease, macular degeneration, and asthma.

Keep Those Papaya Seeds!

Many of papaya’s health-boosting benefits are also provided by the fruit’s many seeds. Interstingly, in those areas of the world where papaya is a local and abundantly available fruit, the seeds are commonly used to fight intestinal infections, especially parasitic infections.

Fresh papaya seeds are somewhat gelatinous and quite bitter, although they can be eaten in small amounts, with the most common recommendation being no more than a tablespoon/day added to a smoothie or stew for example. Dried papaya seeds can be used similar to how whole or ground peppercorns are used and impart an interesting flavour that is a combination between black pepper and horseradish. Here is how I dry out the seeds.

Step 1 – Scoop

Cut a ripe papaya in half and scoop out all the seeds using a spoon or an ice cream scoop (enjoy the fruit now or later!).

2 – Clean & Separate

Put the seeds in a bowl and fill it with water. Using your fingers, swish the seeds around so that any attached pulp separates from them and floats to the top. As the pulp floats to the top, scoop it out with your hands or a slotted spoon.

3 – Drain & Rinse

Pour the seeds left in the bowl into a colander and rinse well to remove remaining small bits of pulp. Shake the colander to remove excess water from the seeds.

4 – Spread & Dry

Line a tray or any other flat surface with parchment or wax paper and spread the seeds out evenly in a single layer, separating them as much as possible. Depending on where you dry them out (inside on your kitchen counter, outside in the sun, in a food dehydrator, in a very very low oven that is no more than 130C) it could take several hours or several days to completely dry them out. Roll them around a few times during the drying process. You want them to be completely dry – they should look and feel like black pepper corns.

Step 4 – Store & Enjoy

Put the dried papaya seeds into your pepper grinder or store them in a glass jar and use them as you would pepper corns.

Since the seeds also contain papain, using whole or ground papaya seeds in a meat marinade will help to tenderize the meat in addition to adding a mild ground pepper & horseradish flavour – which would be yummy for cuts of red meat. 

Enjoy!

Do You Need To Take Magnesium?

How are insomnia, headaches, high blood pressure, constipation, and muscle cramps related? They are all common symptoms of a magnesium deficiency. Whether or not you suffer from any of the above-mentioned symptoms, I’d like to suggest that you keep reading. You’ll understand why soon!

What Is Magnesium?

Magnesium is a mineral. It is the fourth most abundant mineral in the body and a key player in cellular metabolism (all the things our cells do to keep us alive and healthy).

Our cells are the smallest living structural and functional units of our bodies. They form our tissues, then our tissues form our organs, then our organs form our organ systems (e.g. our nervous system, our hormonal system, our digestive system, our cardiovascular system, our immune system, etc.), then our organ systems form us – a human organism!

Understanding this progression of the organization of our body starting from our cells, it’s clear to see that we are only as healthy as the health of our individual cells and their daily activities, which are highly dependent on magnesium.

What Does Magnesium Do?

Magnesium is sometimes referred to as the ‘anti-stress’ mineral as it relaxes nerves and muscles, having an impact on both physical and emotional stress. Have you ever taken an Epsom salt bath to relax or to relieve muscle pain? The bath works because Epsom salt contains magnesium (as magnesium sulfate).

In addition to its anti-stress claim to fame, magnesium is commonly associated with bone health, as it works closely with calcium in this area; however, you may be surprised to learn that magnesium is involved in over 600 biological activities in the body! You could say that magnesium is involved in almost every essential body function, including:

  • proper nerve transmission (which regulates virtually everything that happens in the body)
  • healthy muscles/muscle contraction, including:
    • the myocardium (the muscle of the heart that keeps it beating)
    • the smooth muscles in the walls of our blood vessels (these regulate blood pressure)
    • the smooth muscle of the walls and sphincters of our digestive tract (these regulate the movement of food through, and elimination of waste from, our digestive tract)
  • anti-stress/adrenal support
  • blood sugar regulation
  • immune system health

As magnesium plays a role in numerous important bodily functions, it is critical to overall health. Magnesium is truly magnificent! Unfortunately, almost 50% of us don’t get enough of it.

What Are The Signs/Symptoms Of A Magnesium Deficiency?

Since magnesium has such diverse and widespread functions in the body, deficiency symptoms can also be numerous and varied. Some of the more common deficiency signs include (think back to all of magnesium’s functions!):

  • arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat)
  • constipation
  • nervousness
  • insomnia
  • high blood pressure
  • blood sugar imbalances (including Type 2 diabetes)
  • headaches
  • spasms/muscle pain and/or muscle cramps including restless leg syndrome and ‘charley horses’ (muscle spasms that most commonly occur in the legs)

Also note that regular consumption of alcohol, coffee, tea and other caffeinated drinks such as colas, prevent the absorption and utilization of magnesium by the body … and if you engage in strenuous exercise regularly, be aware that this increases your muscles’ requirements for magnesium.

How Much Magnesium Do You Need?

Health Canada’s RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) for magnesium ranges from 80 mg (children 1-3 years old) to 420 mg (adult males). Many studies have shown that adults need at least 300 mg of magnesium a day in order to lower their risk of health conditions related to deficiency. Many experts recommend 600 mg to 900 mg per day. The amount of daily magnesium you need depends on your age, gender, and individual health situation, so it’s best to sort it out with a health care practitioner, such as a nutritionist (yours truly).  Note that the most common symptom associated with excess magnesium intake is diarrhea.

How Can You Get Enough Magnesium?

While certain foods are good sources of magnesium (a list follows), the most reliable way to get therapeutic levels of magnesium into the body is through a high-quality supplement, such as Biotics Research Canada’s Mg-Zyme. This product contains a combination of different forms of magnesium that are recognized as having excellent absorption and bioavailability (bioavailability is the amount of a substance that enters the blood once it has been taken into the body, and hence able to have an active effect). This is an important consideration as the body’s absorption of magnesium is not very efficient.

You can now order Mg-Zyme through Perfect Resonance. A 100 tab bottle costs $33.00 + HST (price as of May 2020; subject to change). To place an order, email info@perfectresonance.com with MAGNESIUM in the subject line. You will receive an email to coordinate delivery/pick up and payment. Note that I can arrange for orders can to be drop shipped anywhere in Canada (shipping fees extra).

While supplementation is the best way to ensure you are getting enough magnesium, it is still a good idea to get what you can from food (even though there is concern that much of our soil is magnesium-depleted). Good food sources of magnesium include:

  • dark leafy greens, especially spinach and Swiss chard
  • green drinks (including liquid chlorophyll added to your drinking water)
  • summer squash (e.g. most types of zucchini)
  • nuts and seeds
  • broccoli
  • fermented, organic (non-GMO) soy products (e.g. tempeh, miso, natto)
  • legumes, especially black-eyed peas
  • sea vegetables (e.g. dulse, kelp, nori)
  • 70%+ dark chocolate/cacao nibs/cocoa powder

Take control of what you can!