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Mummies & Dehydration: Supernatural Health Series

Water, water everywhere.  With 71% of the earth being covered in water, and around 60% of the human body being water, there is no doubt that water is one of the most important elements of health – health of the body and health of our environment.

But what about the health of mummies?  No one is more prone to severe dehydration that a mummified person or animal.  In fact, a lack of water is necessary for the mummification process.

So what is a health seeking mummy to do?  Let’s look at general guidelines for water consumption in humans, and see if our mummy brethren can benefit from this information.

Benefits of Water

Every system in our body uses water.  Without water many essential processes slow down or do not function optimally.  Some of the most important functions of water in the body:

  • carrying nutrients to your cells
  • allowing your cells to remove debris
  • flushing bacteria out of the bladder
  • supporting digestion
  • regulating bowel movements
  • supporting blood pressure
  • protecting joints
  • regulating body temperature
  • maintaining salt balance in the body

Signs of Dehydration

Dehydration can occur quickly, especially on hot days, or slowly with compounded effects day after day.  If you have any of the following signs of dehydration, you should increase your water intake and talk to your doctor.

  • headaches
  • dizziness
  • weakness
  • low blood pressure
  • confusion
  • dark coloured urine
  • dry skin
  • bandage wrapped skin and a birth date more than 100 years ago

How Much Water to Drink?

There is no hard rule for how much water to drink, but there are some general guidelines which can be helpful in keeping you hydrated.

  1. Two to three cups (250ml) per hour – This will keep you hydrated all day long
  2. 8×8 rule – eight 8oz glasses per day. – Simple, easy to remember, but not based on any hard science, the 8×8 rule is likely to work for most people
  3. 5-1.0 ounces per pound of body weight – A nice guideline that can be easily individualized based on your weight. Aim for the higher amount during hotter or drier weather.

For mummies, the recommended amount of water is likely to be much higher due to a baseline of severe dehydration.  I recommend tripling the above recommendations to meet a mummy’s water needs.

Human, or mummy, water is essential to our quality of life.  So pick a guideline above and challenge yourself to drink your way to optimal health.

Disclaimer

The advice provided in this article is for informational purposes by the supernatural community. It is meant to augment and not replace consultation with a licensed monster doctor. Consultation with a Naturopathic Doctor, Dr. Frankenstein, or other primary care provider is recommended for any supernatural being suffering from a health problem.

The PMS Diet

Premenstrual syndrome may hit you like a storm each month, throwing your mood and your body into chaos and misery. But does it have to be like that? We all know women who sail through their cycles with not a concern in the world. Is it possible that we all can achieve that level of hormone harmony and banish our PMS symptoms? Yes, I believe it is.

The PMS Diet

My philosophy is that health comes from the balance of three key components:

  1. What we put into our bodies (food, alcohol, drugs, etc.)
  2. How we move our body (exercise, flexibility, play, etc.)
  3. The thoughts we hold in our mind-body (gratitude, self love, frustration, etc.)

With this philosophy at the core of my approach, I often suggest that women with hormone imbalances consider the impact of their diet. And in PMS your diet can have a huge impact – for good, or for bad. So lets get to it and discuss how you can have an impact on your PMS by optimizing your diet.

  1. Quit sugar

Ladies, you know this one. But it is so damn hard to do – your body can send some pretty strong cravings for sugar when hormone imbalances associated with PMS cause your serotonin to plummet. But sugar is not going to make anything better.

Women who experience PMS eat, on average, 275% more refined sugar than women who do not have PMS. What?!! That’s a ton of sugar! And women with PMS also consume between 200-500 more calories per day – typically in the forms of carbohydrates, fats and sweets. That is not going to make anyone feel better!

The main issue is that sugar increases the loss of magnesium in the urine – and magnesium deficiency is thought to be the cause of a lot of PMS symptoms, including fatigue, irritability, brain fog, insomnia as well as period cramps. Just to add to your misery, sugar also increases salt and water retention, leading to swelling and breast tenderness. Ugh.

  1. Avoid alcohol

We’re still in common sense country here, but avoiding alcohol really is something you need to do if you want to balance your hormones and eliminate PMS. While reaching for a glass of wine (or two) is tempting when you’re in a PMS rage, you are not making things any better. Alcohol can inhibit your liver’s ability to detoxify hormones, and can lead to higher circulating estrogen levels. This can exacerbate the imbalance of hormones that is already thought to cause PMS – high estrogen to low progesterone.  So consider making a cup of tea instead, and skip the alcohol for your own sake.

  1. Cut the caffeine

I’m really not making any friends with this article. I’m feeling like a bit of a buzz kill! But let’s talk straight – hormone imbalances are strongly associated with our behaviours. And we can change our behaviours!

Drinking coffee, and other caffeine-containing beverages, has been found to be associated with PMS, and with a greater severity of PMS. If you have PMS, I encourage you to try a cycle without caffeine and see if you notice an improvement, a lot of the women in my practice have found this to have a huge impact.

  1. Skip the salt

If you experience bloating, breast tenderness or swelling during PMS, you should check your diet to see if you are eating too much salt. Mostly found in processed food, salt can contribute to water retention, and swelling. Skipping prepared, processed and fast foods should bring your salt intake down to a balanced and healthy level.

  1. Get complex

Breads, bagels, crackers, pasta and other simple carbohydrates are setting you up for blood sugar instability and almost guaranteeing a miserable PMS. Instead of these foods, opt for the complex carbohydrates, these are slower to digest, keep you full longer and your blood sugar stable. Women who eat more complex carbohydrates also eat more fiber, an important nutrient that promotes estrogen elimination from the body.

So banish the bread and instead go for whole grains – brown rice, oats, quinoa, millet, and amaranth are delicious. And try sweet potatoes, squash, lentils, and beans for filling complex carbohydrates.

  1. Go green

Leafy greens are a PMS fighting superfood! A rich source of calcium and magnesium, leafy greens also support liver function, encouraging the liver to detoxify and eliminate excess estrogen. Choose your favourite leafy greens and eat them every day – kale, spinach, arugula, swiss chard or collard greens are all excellent choices!

  1. Go fish!

Fish, and other foods that are rich in vitamin B6, are important for any woman struggling with PMS. B6, a water-soluble nutrient, is involved in over 100 reactions in our body, many of which are involved in the production of hormones and neurotransmitters. Vitamin B6 is one of the best studied nutrients for PMS, and it has been found to help restore balance for women with PMS and reduce symptoms, especially mood symptoms such as irritation, anger and sadness.

  1. Open sesame

Sesame seeds are an excellent source of calcium, and clinical trials have found that women with the highest intake of calcium have the lowest incidence of PMS symptoms. While most studies have been on calcium supplements, increasing dietary calcium is a great place to start.

Other great sources of calcium include tofu, sardines, leafy greens, cabbage, broccoli, green beans, squash, bean sprouts, almonds, brazil nuts, quinoa, chickpeas, beans and oranges.

  1. Beans, beans, beans!

There are many reasons why beans pack a powerful punch in treating PMS. Beans are an excellent source of magnesium, one of the most important nutrient imbalances in PMS. Taken as a supplement, magnesium can improve mood, reduce breast tenderness and relieve pain during periods.

But beans offer more than just magnesium. They also are a rich source of fiber and protein. Women who consume a mostly vegetarian diet have lower incidence of PMS and lower levels of estrogen – both benefits that can be achieved by just increasing the beans in your diet.

  1. Boost Bacteria

Fermented foods, like kim chi, sauerkraut, kombucha and kefir all contain probiotics – healthy bacteria that can live in our digestive tracts and support our overall health. Healthy bacteria do more than just help our digestion, they also support hormone balance – especially estrogen elimination, an important component of managing PMS.

When your bacteria balance is optimal your body is able to easily eliminate estrogen. When your bacteria levels are out of balance estrogen levels increase and can significantly contribute to PMS. So try some fermented foods, or take a daily probiotic to balance your bacteria.

 Diet and More

Diet is an excellent place to start in treating your PMS.  It may seem simple, but simple things can sometimes be incredibly powerful.  Each action you take on a daily basis, each food you eat, or those foods you don’t eat, all influence your hormone balance and determine whether you sail through PMS or struggle.  Once you have started with these dietary changes, if you are still experiencing symptoms, check out my top treatments for PMS, ask whether you may be experiencing PMDD or take a refresher on the hormonal imbalances of PMS.  And if you are ready to take the next step, feel free to get in touch so we can work together on resolving your PMS.

Disclaimer

The advice provided in this article is for informational purposes only. It is meant to augment and not replace consultation with a licensed health care provider. Consultation with a Naturopathic Doctor or other primary care provider is recommended for anyone suffering from a health problem.

 

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66 Vegan Proteins

Raise your hand if anyone has every responded to your vegan diet with the question “but how do you get enough protein??” I can’t see your hands – but I KNOW a lot of them are in the air (wave them around a bit while they’re up there… just for fun.) It is absolutely the most common question I get asked. But in my 30 years of eating a vegetarian diet, and 10 years as a Naturopathic Doctor in Toronto I have gotten really good at answering this question!

And today I’m sharing with you the most complete list of vegan (and vegetarian) proteins I have ever compiled. I hope that it will give you confidence to respond to all those people who question the protein density of a healthy vegan or vegetarian diet.

But first – how much protein do you need??

A general guideline is 0.8g per kg of body weight.  I suggest that vegans aim a bit higher – around 1g per kg of body weight to account for the lack of certain amino acids in various vegan proteins.  More on this later… read on…

And now, lets get into it!

66 Vegan Proteins

Beans

Black beans
1 cup*: 15g protein

With 15g of protein and 15g of fiber, black beans are a sure fire way to keep you feeling full and energized.

Garbanzo beans (Chick peas)
1 cup: 15g protein  

Most of the fiber in chickpeas is insoluble, meaning it passes through your body unchanged until it reaches your large intestine where the healthy bacteria metabolize it into short chain fatty acids needed to support your intestinal wall. This can help to reduce the incidence of colon cancer, while also keeping you feeling full and having healthy bowel movements.

Kidney beans
1 cup: 15g protein  

Full of molybdenum, essential for detoxifying sulfites (hello wine), kidney beans are also a super source of fiber and protein.

Lima beans
1 cup: 15g protein 

Buttery and a good source of manganese, essential for energy production, lima beans also provide nearly a quarter of your daily iron – bonus!

Miso
1 cup soup: 6g protein 

One of my personal favourites, a cup of miso soup gives a respectable 6g of protein. I like to have a cup in the mid-afternoon to boost energy instead of coffee or tea.

Navy beans
1 cup: 15g protein

Navy beans are small white beans (it got its name not from its colour, but from its popularity with the US Navy!) and are a great source of vitamin B1 which is essential for memory and concentration.

Pinto beans
1 cup: 15g protein 

Pretty pink polka dotted pinto beans provide an excellent source of potassium, which can help keep your blood pressure and stroke risk low.

Soy beans (Edamame)
1 cup: 25g protein 

Unique among the beans, soy beans are not deficient in methionine, and are considered a complete protein (containing all the essential amino acids humans need).

Tempeh
1 cup: 31g protein

A source of highly bioavailable calcium, tempeh can provide a healthy source of calcium to vegans and dairy-free vegetarians. Fermented soy foods, like tempeh, also provide bone supporting vitamin K.

Tofu
1 cup: 20g protein (firm tofu) 

With increasing protein with increased firmness, firm and extra firm tofu are powerhouses of protein. Soft tofu is also excellent for desserts and to provide a creamy texture to soups.

White kidney beans (Cannellini beans)
1 cup: 12g protein

The delicious relative of the navy bean, cannellini beans are high in fiber and protein and make delicious dips and spreads as well as being a superstar in soups.

*All portions are for cooked beans

Lentils

Brown lentils
1 cup*: 18g

Along with beans and peas, lentils are a member of the legume family. Full of fiber and folate, lentils are also a great source of iron.

Green lentils
1 cup: 18g protein

A more sturdy member of the lentil family, green lentils are excellent in soups and salads, providing a hearty filling protein and loads of fiber.

Red lentils
1 cup: 18g protein

All lentils are high in lysine, but deficient in cysteine and methionine, making them an incomplete protein. Combined with healthy whole grains these little wonders provide a dynamic duo of vegan protein.

 

*All portions are for cooked lentils

Peas

Black eyed peas
1 cup: 4g protein

Thought to bring luck if eaten on New Years Day, black eyed peas also provide around 2mg of iron and half of your daily folate needs.

Green peas
1 cup: 7g protein 

Who knew these little spheres could pack such a powerful punch? An good source of iron (2mg per cup), peas are also a source of coumestrol – a compound that has been found to lower the risk of stomach cancer.

Split peas
1 cup: 16g protein 

Split peas, or dried peas, are known sources of healthy hormone balancing isoflavones, like daidzein, that help to reduce the risk of breast and prostate cancers.

 

Nuts

Almonds
1/4 cup: 5g protein 

Almonds are an excellent source of manganese and copper – two cofactors necessary for energy production in our cells. All packaged together in a delicious little nut – thanks Nature!

Brazil nuts
1/4 cup: 5g protein

In Brazil it is illegal to cut down a Brazil nut tree – and many nuts we eat come from wild collection rather than plantations. Brazil nuts are the richest dietary source of selenium, an essential nutrient for immune and thyroid health, and one that is often deficient in North American soils.

Cashews
1/4 cup: 6g protein 

Did you know, cashews are actually the seed of the cashew apple?? I had no idea. Learning something new every day. Cashews are lower in fat than other nuts, and most of their fats are the heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids.

Hazelnuts (Filberts)
1/4 cup: 5g protein 

While they may be best known for their infamous chocolate-hazelnut spread, one serving of hazelnuts provides 100% of your daily needs for vitamin E – one of our most important antioxidants.

Macadamia nuts
1/4 cup: 3g protein  

One of the highest fat nuts (and one of the most delicious), macadamia nuts can provide you with a full dose of vitamin B1, necessary for turning protein and carbohydrates into energy. Delicious and energy rich!

Peanuts
1/4 cup: 9g protein 

Higher in protein than most other nuts, peanuts are also an excellent source of biotin – a B vitamin essential for healthy hair and nails. Keep in mind most commercial peanut butters are full of sugar, so opt for shelled peanuts or 100% peanut butters.

Pecans
1/4 cup: 2.5g protein  

No matter how you pronounce it, pecans are one of North American’s favourite nuts.   Most often used in sweet treats, pecans can provide a bit of vegan protein and a healthy wallop of manganese to keep your energy up!

Pine nuts
1/4 cup: 4.5g protein 

With nearly 2mg of iron in each ¼ cup of pine nuts, these savoury bites are a great vegan food. Known mostly for their presence in pesto, pine nuts can also be sprinkled on salads and stir fry.

Pistachios
1/4 cup: 6g protein 

The pleasure of eating pistachios from the shell is increased by knowing that a serving of pistachios can give you half of your daily amount of vitamin B6. B6 is a vitamin essential for hormone balance and the neurotransmitter serotonin, which is associated with happiness.

Walnuts
1/4 cup: 5g protein 

Walnuts may not be the most delicious nut, they may have the distinction of being the healthiest nut. Richest in omega 3 fatty acids, walnuts also have high amounts of gamma tocopherol – a type of vitamin E that is incredibly protective for our hearts.

Seeds      

Chia seed
2 tbsp: 4g protein 

Ok, who still feels like they are butchering their childhood chia pet? Just me… that’s ok too. One way or another chia seeds are finding their way into our lives! The best way to enjoy chia is in your morning smoothie or to make super yummy chia pudding – pudding for breakfast and dessert? And 4g of protein? Yes please!

Flax seed
2 tbsp: 2.5g protein

The best vegan source of omega 3 fatty acids, flax seeds are a powerhouse of nutritional benefits for plant based diets. Add to smoothies, sprinkle ground flaxseed on oatmeal or salads, or just about anything!

Hemp seed
2 tbsp: 10g protein 

They aren’t going to get you high, but they will give you some stellar omega fatty acids and a massive hit of protein as well! Unlike flaxseeds they don’t need to be ground for us to digest them, just sprinkle them on your foods, or throw them in your smoothie for a powerful protein punch

Pumpkin seeds
2 tbsp: 2g protein 

One of the top plant sources for zinc, a nutrient essential for thinking and for immune function, a ¼ cup of pumpkin seeds (10g of protein!) will also give you a few mg (2.8) of iron as well! A healthy plant based snack or a tasty addition to salads.

Sesame seeds
2 tbsp: 3g protein 

Open (your mouth to) sesame!! (Funny? Not funny? I chuckled a little…) Sesame seeds may be small, but they are a great source of vegan calcium and can easily be added to just about any food for a mild nutty taste.

Sunflower seeds
2 tbsp: 4g protein  

Has anyone ever told you to eat sunflower seeds because you burn more energy cracking them than you get from eating them? Well sadly that isn’t true (you’d only burn around 70 calories and a cup of sunflower seeds has nearly 270 calories). But don’t let that stop you! Sunflower seeds are rich in anti-inflammatory and antioxidant vitamin E.

Poppy seeds
2 tbsp: 3g protein 

Step aside hemp seed, if you want to get high this might be the seed for you. Well, not really… While the opiate compounds in poppy seeds can cause you to fail a drug test, the tiny amounts (around 0.5-10 mcg per gram) of morphine are no where near the amount necessary to produce anything close to a high (5000 to 30 000mcg). So sprinkle away without any fear (or hope) of intoxication!

Grains

Amaranth
1/2 cup*: 4.5g protein  

A complete protein (unusual amongst the grains), amaranth provides all the essential amino acids. As a whole grain (germ intact!), amaranth has a decent amount of fiber (5g) and B vitamins to help you turn your food into energy.

Barley
1/2 cup: 3g protein 

Nourishing, filling barley gives you a healthy dose of fiber, and the high magnesium content may help to reduce the risk of developing diabetes.

Buckwheat
1/2 cup: 3g protein 

A diet high in unrefined grains, like many of those on this list, has been found to reduce the incidence of gallstones in women. This is likely why vegans have a lower risk than the average population!

Bulgur
1/2 cup: 3g protein 

A type of wheat, bulgur should be avoided by those with celiac disease or known gluten intolerance. If you can tolerate it, it makes a nice substitution for rice.

Ezekiel bread
2 slices: 8g protein

“Take wheat, barley, beans, lentils, millet, and spelt, put them in one vessel and make them into bread for yourself” – Ezekiel 4:9. This biblical recipe makes for one delicious and nutritious bread. Containing all 9 essential amino acids, this sprouted bread is also easy to digest. Look for it in the freezer at your grocery store.

Farro
1/2 cup: 4g protein

One of the many foods on this list you may not have heard of, farro is an ancient wheat grain with an amazing nutty taste. As a member of the wheat family, it does contain gluten.

Freekeh
1/2 cup: 12g protein

Another wheat cousin with a fun sounding name, Freekeh, also known as Farik, has more protein than many of the other grains on this list. It’s also high in zinc and iron. But remember, as a member of the wheat family it does contain gluten.

Kamut
1/2 cup: 5.5g protein 

Yet another wheat (is anyone keeping a tally??), kamut is a gluten-containing grain that is so ancient it has been found in pharaoh’s tombs. Excellent as a replacement or companion for barley in soups and salads.

Millet
1/2 cup: 3g protein 

You may be feeding it to the birds in your garden, but maybe you should consider keeping some of the millet for yourself. Millet makes an excellent breakfast porridge or enjoy it (in moderation) as the popular roti flatbread.

Oats
1/2 cup: 5g

We all recognize this whole grain! And those of us who eat oatmeal regularly may also have a smaller waist circumference according to some studies. Go for the steel cut oats rather than the processed oats for maximal health benefits.

Rice
1/2 cup: 2.5g

Brown rice and white rice are essentially the same grain, but with white rice the nutritional hull is removed, destroying the vast majority of nutrients in the rice. So stick with brown rice and get all the B1, B3 and B6 rice has to offer.

Rye bread
2 slices: 5g 

Unlike wheat, rye is difficult to separate from the hull, leading to a higher fiber gluten-containing bread. While bread should only be consumed in moderation, a bit of rye can provide protein and double the fiber of wheat bread.

Seitan
1/2 cup: 31g protein  

Many of the grains listed here contain gluten, but seitan IS gluten – sometimes it is even called gluten (or wheat meat or wheat protein). Made by isolating the gluten from wheat, seitan is more meat-like than most other vegan proteins and is popular in vegan restaurants.

Sorghum
1/2 cup: 8g protein 

A gluten-free ancient grain, sorghum is hearty and chewy (similar to quinoa) and is fantastic in pilafs and risottos. Also a good source of vegan iron (4mg per ½ cup!)

Spelt bread
2 slices: 6g protein  

Yet another member of the wheat family (contains gluten), spelt is often used to make bread and other baked goods instead of traditional wheat. Spelt has more niacin, copper, iron, zinc, magnesium and phosphorus than wheat, meaning that choosing spelt bread may give you an edge over your old fashioned wheat bread.

Teff
1/2 cup: 5g protein  

Technically a seed rather than a grain, teff is native to Ethiopia. It cooks up similar to quinoa, but cooks a bit faster (great for a quick dinner!) Teff is a great source of manganese, which helps you make energy to keep you going all day.

Triticale
1/2 cup: 12g protein 

The laboratory love child of wheat and rye (brought to us by 19th century Scottish and German scientists), triticale is higher in protein and lower in gluten than wheat (but keep in mind it still does contain gluten). A sturdy grain, it makes an excellent salad or cereal.

Quinoa
1/2 cup: 4g protein

Remember when no one knew what quinoa was? Oh, the simpler times of 5 years ago… who knows which of the foods on this list will rise to superstardom next (remember you read about them first here!) Quinoa is also a seed, rather than a grain, and has the full amino acid profile needed to be considered a complete protein.

Wheat (whole)
2 slices: 7g protein
1/2 cup pasta: 4-7g protein  

The most commonly consumed grain in North America, wheat provides the majority of its protein in the form of gluten, a no-no for celiacs and those with gluten intolerance. White bread, a highly processed form of wheat, only provides 3g of protein for 2 slices.

Wheat berries
1/2 cup: 6.5g protein 

Wheat berries, not actually a berry, but actually a whole grain form of what, are what wheat looks like before it undergoes any processing. Wheat berries take a while to cook but stand up amazingly well in grain salads.

Wild rice
1/2 cup: 3g protein  

Another misnomer in this category is wild rice. Not actually a rice at all, wild rice is an aquatic grass that can be grown in lakes in Canada and the US. Wild rice doesn’t have the full complement of amino acids to be a complete protein, similar to many of the other grains, but combined with beans can be an excellent addition to your diet.

*All portions are for cooked grains

Vegetables

Artichokes
1 cup: 6g protein

Delicious, and completely worth the effort, artichokes are one of the top protein containing vegetables. Some early research also suggests that artichokes have the potential to lower cholesterol – an added bonus to an already delicious food.

Asparagus
1 cup: 4g protein 

A good source of quercetin, asparagus could help to reduce allergy symptoms – important since asparagus is freshest during the Spring when allergy season kicks in for many sufferers.

Avocado
1 cup: 4g protein

Best known for its healthy fats, avocado can also provide you with a nice bump in your daily protein intake. With 1 avocado providing around 4g of protein you will be looking at your avocado toast with newfound respect.

Broccoli
1 cup: 4g protein  

Love it or hate it, broccoli is a stellar anti-inflammatory with the ability to suppress inflammation with its high content of isothiocyanates (that’s a mouthful). Better yet, get a mouthful of broccoli – or the other types of broccoli like broccoli rabe or rapini.

Brussels sprouts
1 cup: 4g protein 

Lots of research has been published looking at the cancer risk reducing impact of eating Brussels sprouts. Brussels sprouts support three essential actions in reducing cancer risk – detoxification, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.

Corn
1 cup: 3g protein 

Perhaps not the healthiest option on this list, corn is also not in the right category. Technically a grain, since we all treat it like a vegetable I’ve opted to stick it here. Corn isn’t particularly dense in any nutrient, so use it sparingly and opt for fresh corn over processed corn foods.

Guava
1 cup: 4.2g protein  

Guava is a fruit that is ready to come to the table. With the highest amount of protein of all the fruits (and more than many of the veggies on the list), maybe we should be making space for guava in the fruit bowl more often!

Kale
1 cup: 2.5g protein  

Is there anything kale can’t do? It’s the superhero of vegetables everywhere. And with the highest content of lutein, a eye healthy antioxidant, you could spend a long happy life looking at all that kale in your shopping basket.

Mushrooms
1 cup: 2g protein 

A potential source of vegan B12 (scientists are still hotly debating this issue), mushrooms are also a good source of eight different vitamins and six minerals, including zinc for immune health and DNA replication.

Spinach
1 cup: 5g protein  

We all love spinach as a source of vegan iron, magnesium and folate, in addition to a nice selection of B vitamins, but spinach also has a nice amount of protein. And it’s so easy to incorporate into smoothies, salads, soups, and more!

Spirulina
1 tbsp: 4g protein

This seaweed is about 60% protein so a little bit can go a long way towards helping you meet your daily protein requirements. With a unique mineral profile, providing calcium, iron, magnesium and iodine, spirulina can support metabolism and energy production.

           

Protein Combining

Just a quick note on protein combining. Many vegan proteins are not complete proteins – meaning they are lacking one or more of the 9 essential amino acids necessary for human health. Nutrients are considered essential when we can’t make them ourselves and need to consume them in our diet. The nine essential amino acids are:

  • Histidine
  • Isoleucine
  • Leucine
  • Lysine
  • Methionine
  • Phenylalanine
  • Threonine
  • Tryptophan
  • Valine

In general beans are deficient in methionine and grains are deficient in lysine and threonine. In order to balance the amino acids you should aim to consume foods in both these categories each day – it doesn’t have to be in the same meal, but aim to provide your body with balanced amino acids every day.

Food Deficient Amino Acid Complementary food
Beans and legumes Methionine Grains, nuts, seeds
Grains Lysine, threonine Beans and legumes
Nuts and seeds Lysine Beans and legumes
Vegetables Methionine Grains, nuts, seeds
Corn Tryptophan, lysine Beans and legumes

 

Did I miss any of your favourite vegan proteins? Let me know in the comments below!

 

QUIZ! Do you have a Vitamin B12 Deficiency?

B12 deficiency is one of the MOST common nutrient deficiencies – and one that is not taken as seriously as it should be.  Vitamin B12 is essential for the synthesis of DNA – which is only important in cells that have DNA (i.e. ALL OF THEM).  If you don’t have B12, your cells can’t divide and grow appropriately and you feel terrible.

B12 is also essential for the healthy of the nervous system, being essential for the formation of myelin – the protective coating around our nerve cells.

B12 is also necessary for carbohydrate metabolism – using sugar for food in both the nervous system and to create abundant energy in our bodies.

If you are concerned your B12 levels may be low, take the quiz below.  If you answer YES to more than SIX questions, get your tired ass to your Naturopath for a blood test.  And if you know your B12 levels are low, do something about it!  It may be as simple as a daily supplement, or it may require B12 injections.  Talk to your ND to determine the best course of action for you. 

 

 

 

 

 

B12 Deficiency Quiz

Disclaimer

The advice provided in this article is for informational purposes only.  It is meant to augment and not replace consultation with a licensed health care provider.  Consultation with a Naturopathic Doctor or other primary care provider is recommended for anyone suffering from a health problem.

References:

British Columbia Medical Association. B12 Deficiency – Investigation and Management of Vitamin B12 and Folate Deficiency. Victoria, Canada: Guidelines and Protocols Advisory Committee; 2007.

First Consult: Megaloblastic Anemia  www.mdconsult.com

Rakel: Textbook of Family Medicine, 7th Ed.  2007.  Common Laboratory Testing.

 

Is my IBS actually SIBO?

Gas, bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation – present to your medical doctor with any of these symptoms and you’ll likely get a diagnosis of IBS – irritable bowel syndrome. But what if it’s more than that? What if rather than having a cranky digestive tract you actually have a bacterial imbalance in your small intestines? What if you have SIBO?

What is SIBO?

SIBO stands for small intestine bacterial overgrowth, a condition where abnormally large numbers of bacteria (both the good and bad kind) are present in the small intestine. SIBO is a very common cause of IBS-like symptoms – studies have shown SIBO to be involved in between 50-84% of IBS cases. More importantly, when treated for SIBO, a 75% reduction in IBS symptoms has been found. For people who have been suffering for years (or decades!) with IBS symptoms, a proper diagnosis of SIBO can be life-changing.

Symptoms

While most people who experience digestive issues are given a diagnosis of IBS, the symptoms of SIBO are so similar that I recommend every patient who has been told they have IBS be tested for SIBO. Symptoms of IBS include:

  • Gas and bloating (often causing visible distention of the abdomen)
  • Flatulence (farting) and belching (burping)
  • Abdominal pain, cramping or general discomfort
  • Constipation or diarrhea (or both!)
  • Heartburn
  • Nausea
  • Nutrient deficiencies (due to malabsorption – vitamin D, B12, K)

The bacterial overgrowth in SIBO can cause significant gas and bloating – if you are experiencing severe gas or bloating, SIBO testing should be considered. With healthy normal bacteria levels, a single ounce of milk will cause about 50cc of gas to be created. With SIBO, that same amount of milk will cause up to 5000cc of gas to be created! And that gas has to go somewhere – filling the intestines and causing pain, or being released as gas and burping.

Many conditions may also be associated with SIBO, with the additional symptoms of those conditions being present. Some of those conditions include:

  • Hypothyroidism
  • Gallstones
  • Crohn’s disease and inflammatory bowel disease
  • Lactose intolerance
  • Diverticulitis/ diverticulosis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Chronic pancreatitis
  • Lactose intolerance
  • Celiac disease
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Rosacea
  • Diabetes

What Causes SIBO?

In our bodies we support a population of around 300 trillion bacteria. Living mostly on our skin and in our large intestine, these bacteria are powerful supporters of healthy human function. Producing vitamins like vitamin K and B12, producing neurotransmitters like serotonin, and regulating the function of our immune system – these bacteria are essential for optimal health.

SIBO occurs when the bacteria that should be in our large intestine migrate upwards into our small intestine. There they produce gases and disrupt nutrient absorption, leading the symptoms often attributed to IBS.

There are some specific triggers that can lead to this movement of bacteria into the small intestine. Some of those triggers include:

  • A stomach flu or food poisoning
  • Low stomach acid (or use of antacids)
  • Prior bowel surgery
  • Use of antibiotics (especially multiple courses)
  • Moderate or high alcohol consumption (greater than one drink per day for women or two drinks per day for men)
  • Use of birth control pills

One of the organisms involved in SIBO, Methanobrevivacter smithii has been linked to obesity in humans

Clues to SIBO

There are some clues that your IBS may in fact be SIBO. If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, you should invest in SIBO testing now.

  1. Did your digestive symptoms start, or become worse, after a bout of the stomach flu?
  2. Have you experienced short term improvement in your symptoms after taking an antibiotic?
  3. Do your symptoms get worse when taking a probiotic or prebiotic supplement?
  4. Does eating a high fiber diet worsen constipation or IBS symptoms?
  5. Do you have celiac disease that has not sufficiently improved following a gluten-free diet?
  6. Have you been diagnosed with an iron deficiency, despite having an iron rich diet?
  7. Do you have IBS symptoms and take antacids more than once per month (including Tums, Rolaids, Nexxium or Prilosec)?
  8. Do you experience gas that has a strong “rotten-egg” odour?

Diagnosis

The overgrowth of bacteria seen in SIBO can be identified through a breath test. The bacteria produce high amounts of hydrogen, hydrogen sulfide, or methane gas. These gases are not produced by human cells, but only through the action of bacteria on carbohydrates in our intestines.

The most common (and effective) test for SIBO is a combined hydrogen/methane breath test. This test is readily available from your Naturopathic Doctor. This is the only test for SIBO – stool tests will not help to diagnose SIBO.

Next steps

If you suspect you may have SIBO, you should see your Naturopath for appropriate testing. Once a diagnosis has been made you can embark on a treatment plan that may finally resolve your symptoms and get you back on the path to optimal health.

The treatment of SIBO is multifaceted and individualized for each person. Some of the key areas we focus on are supporting small intestine motility, optimizing digestive acids and enzymes, healing the lining of the digestive tract, eradicating biofilm and promoting healthy bacterial balance in the large intestine. Addressing the lifestyle and diet for long term prevention of recurrence is also important. Discontinuing medications, like antacids and proton pump inhibitors that encourage SIBO must also be considered.

You don’t have to continue to suffer. Digestive health is essential for optimal health. Get yourself tested, and get on the path to wellness today.

Disclaimer

The advice provided in this article is for informational purposes only. It is meant to augment and not replace consultation with a licensed health care provider. Consultation with a Naturopathic Doctor or other primary care provider is recommended for anyone suffering from a health problem.

MTHFR in Mental Health

MTHFR is an essential component of human health, one that you may not have heard of, but you likely will be hearing more about it in the future.

MTHFR is an acronym for a gene – methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase. This gene produces an enzyme essential for human health – methylenetetrahydrofolate (MTHF). It has been estimated that somewhere between 30-85% of humans carry a mutation, or SNP (single nucleotide polymorphism) in this gene. This can lead to minimal changes in the function of this gene, or significant changes that can drastically impact health. Our current best guess is that between 6-14% of caucasians, 2% of African descent, and up to 21% of Hispanics have a severe mutation.

MTHFR in Mental Health

One of the essential functions of MTHFR is to produce neurotransmitters. Individuals with MTHFR mutations may be more at risk of developing one of the many mental health conditions associated with MTHFR:

  • depression
  • bipolar disorder
  • attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • schizophrenia
  • autism
  • addiction
  • anxiety

The neurotransmitters produced during the MTHFR cycle, in particular serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine and melatonin, have important mood stabilizing effects. The decreased function of the MTHFR cycle in people with a MTHFR mutation can lead to lower levels of these neurotransmitters, increasing the risk of developing a mental health condition.

MTHFR and Anti-Depressants

In addition to increasing the odds of developing a mental health condition, an MTHFR defect can also alter the ability of a person to respond to antidepressant medications. A higher rate of non-responsiveness and/or adverse effects has been found in people with an MTHFR mutation.

MTHFR Testing

If you suspect you may have an MTHFR defect the only way to know for sure is to do a genetic test that will identify if you have a mutation in this important gene at one of two locations – known as C667T or A1298C. If you have a single mutation in one location (inherited from one parent) you have a “heterozygous” mutation – if you have two mutations in one location (inherited from both parents) then you have a “homozygous” mutation, which is generally more severe. If you have two mutations in both locations then you have a “compound homozygous” mutation, the most severe.

What to do about MTHFR

The most important thing to do about MTHFR is to support the normal function of this enzyme pathway with essential nutrients. This pathway (methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase) produces folate as one of it’s primary actions. Folate, vitamin B9, can be taken as a supplement and reduce the negative effects seen with MTHFR mutations. Avoiding things that can interfere with folate is also important – digestive diseases, poor diet, alcohol consumption and some medications (include the birth control pill). Additionally, avoiding synthetic folic acid, found mostly in processed foods (like bread, crackers and cereals), is also important as the folic acid can slow down the MTHFR cycle further.

In addition to taking a folate supplement, focusing on a healthy diet is essential for managing MTHFR. Folate comes from foliage – so eating your leafy greens, broccoli and beans can provide folate in your daily diet.

Treating MTHFR can be complex. Working with a qualified practitioner, well-versed in MTHFR is essential to improve your health and support your mind and body.

Disclaimer

The advice provided in this article is for informational purposes only. It is meant to augment and not replace consultation with a licensed health care provider. Consultation with a Naturopathic Doctor or other primary care provider is recommended for anyone suffering from a health problem.

Wheat Woes: Celiac disease, wheat allergy and gluten sensitivity

Many people are beginning to recognize the personal benefits of a gluten-free diet. For some individuals the simple avoidance of gluten (a protein in wheat, barley and rye) can improve or completely resolve symptoms of diarrhea, constipation, gas and bloating.

So what is the problem with gluten? Why are so many people benefiting from avoiding this specific protein? The answer is not that simple. In fact, there are three distinct medical diagnoses that may apply to people who improve on a gluten free diet.

Celiac Disease

Bread slicedCeliac disease is an autoimmune disease impacting about 1 in 100 people. In this condition the body is stimulated to produce auto-antibodies against the lining of the small intestine. These auto-antibodies are only produced in the presence of gluten in the diet. Celiac disease incidence has increased 5-fold in the past 40 years – a trend that is seen with a number of autoimmune conditions. Having celiac disease increases the risk for the development of other autoimmune conditions in your lifetime. The only treatment for celiac disease is lifelong avoidance of gluten.

Wheat Allergy

Wheat allergy results when the body produces an allergic reaction to gluten or another component of wheat. The allergic sequence is similar to other allergies, with the release of histamine from mast cells and basophils, triggered by immunoglobulin E (IgE) cross-linking. Symptoms of wheat allergy include redness, swelling, hives and other allergy-type symptoms. Wheat allergy is the rarest of the wheat-associated diagnoses with only 1 in 500 people being impacted.

Gluten Sensitivity

By far the most common diagnosis associated with wheat is gluten sensitivity. It is estimated to impact 1 in 10 people and is 6x more prevalent than celiac disease. The symptoms of gluten sensitivity include:

  • Abdominal pain (68%)Gluten Free Logo
  • Eczema or rash (40%)
  • Headache (35%)
  • Foggy mind (34%)
  • Diarrhea (33%)
  • Depression (20%)
  • Anemia (20%)
  • Numbness in legs, arms or fingers (20%)
  • Joint pain (11%)

Diagnosis of gluten sensitivity is typically a diagnosis of exclusion. If you test negative for celiac disease (auto-immune antibodies), negative for wheat allergy (IgE immunoglobulins) but still improve on a gluten free diet then you will likely receive a diagnosis of gluten sensitivity.

Food sensitivity testing, such as the IgG food sensitivity panel, can help to confirm a diagnosis of gluten sensitivity. It can also identify other food sensitivities which may be occurring simultaneously, such as a dairy, egg or nut sensitivity.

If you suspect you may be gluten sensitive, cut it out of your diet for at least three weeks and watch your symptoms for improvement. Or contact your Naturopathic Doctor to discuss comprehensive testing for celiac disease, wheat allergy and gluten sensitivity. Take charge of your health, and let go of your wheat woes!

Select references

Sapone A, Lammers KM, Casolaro V, et al. Divergence of gut permeability and mucosal immune gene expression in two gluten-associated conditions: celiac disease and gluten sensitivity. BMC Med. 2011;9:e23

Disclaimer

The advice provided in this article is for informational purposes only. It is meant to augment and not replace consultation with a licensed health care provider. Consultation with a Naturopathic Doctor or other primary care provider is recommended for anyone suffering from a health problem.

 

Hashimoto’s and Gluten

Gluten. It seems like everyone is talking about it. Books are lining shelves declaring the evils of this grain-based protein most of us have been eating for years. The grocery stores are full of “gluten-free” labels and gluten free bakeries are popping up in cities all across the country.

Gluten Free LogoWhy are we suddenly so aware of this protein? And what does it mean for people who have Hashimoto’s? Let me take you through some of the basics.

What is Gluten?

Gluten is a protein found in several different grains – wheat, barley, rye, spelt, kamut and triticale. It is a combination of two different proteins, gliadin and glutenin. Not all grains contain gluten and a gluten-free diet can still provide the essential nutrients found in these grains.

Autoimmunity

Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is an autoimmune condition where the immune system attacks and destroys the thyroid gland. It is, in essence, an immune condition with the thyroid being the unfortunate victim.

Autoimmune conditions are thought to develop when there are a combination of different factors. The three most commonly suggested factors are:

  • Genetic predisposition
  • A triggering event – this can be a nutrient deficiency, acute illness, chronic infection, dysbiosis, excess stress, food sensitivities or impaired detoxification
  • Increased intestinal hyperpermeability or “leaky gut”

The increased intestinal hyperpermeability, or “leaky gut” is where gluten becomes a major issue.

Leaky Gut

Keep outThe cells that line our digestive tract are joined at tight junctions – these close connections allow only the smallest particles of digested food to present to our immune system. Certain foods, like gluten, are more difficult for our enzymes to completely digest. These partially digested proteins, called peptides, can cause inflammation at the lining of the digestive tract, leading to damage of the tight junctions. When these tight junctions are compromised they become more permeable, or leaky, allowing larger molecules (peptides) to present to our immune system.

Once the immune system has been exposed to these large peptide molecules it may begin to produce antibodies against the peptides – an attempt to protect us from this foreign molecule.

The issue of autoimmunity, especially Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, occurs when the immune antibodies begin to circulate through our body, searching for the sequence of amino acids that make up the gluten peptide. The surface of the thyroid gland is made up of fats and proteins – and unfortunately the amino acid sequence of proteins on the surface of the thyroid is the same as the gliadin peptide in gluten. This results in the immune system destroying the thyroid gland, mistaking it for the component of gluten that triggered the response in the digestive tract.

Gluten and Food Sensitivities

wheat is a common food allergenIn my practice I recommend that all people diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis eliminate gluten from their diet. However, leaky gut can be caused by, or lead to many other food sensitivities which can also have the same devastating effect on the thyroid gland, and other tissues in the body.

Every person with an autoimmune condition, including Hashimoto’s should seriously consider having an IgG based food sensitivity panel done to identify their own sensitivities. Understanding the action of your immune system in your body is imperative to decreasing the overactivity of the immune system and preventing further damage to your body.

For more information on Naturopathic Medicine and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, please read the other articles on this website written by Dr. Lisa Watson, ND: Understanding Hashimoto’s, Hashimoto’s and Fertility, Naturopathic Treatments for Hashimoto’s. If you are ready to start on your path to healing your Hashimoto’s you can book an appointment with Dr. Lisa by following the links here.

Disclaimer

The advice provided in this article is for informational purposes only. It is meant to augment and not replace consultation with a licensed health care provider. Consultation with a Naturopathic Doctor or other primary care provider is recommended for anyone suffering from a health problem.

Select references

Carrocio A, D’Alcam A, Cavataio F, et al. Gastroenterology. High Proportions of People With Nonceliac Wheat Sensitivity Have Autoimmune Disease or Antinuclear Antibodies.2015 Sep;149(3):596-603.e1.

Fasano A, Shea-Donohue T. Mechanisms of Disease: the role of intestinal barrier function in the pathogenesis of gastrointestinal autoimmune diseases. Nature Clinical Practices. 2005 Sep:2(9):416-422.

 

Natural Approaches to Heartburn

The number of patients in my practice with heartburn is staggering. And what is even more staggering to me is how many people think it is normal! Just because it is common does not mean that it is normal!

What is Heartburn?

Heartburn, also known as reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a burning sensation in the esophagus that may be associated with:

  • Sour, acidic taste in the mouth
  • Pain behind the breastbone or between the shoulder blades
  • Unexplained cough

A New Perspective on Heartburn

In conventional medicine, heartburn is the consequence of excess stomach acid and acid suppressing medications (proton pump inhibitors or calcium carbonate) to reduce symptoms. However, functional doctors and naturopathic doctors believe that low stomach acid may be a more likely cause of heartburn.

Stomach acid is necessary to for proper digestion. If acid production is decreased the stomach will not empty properly and the contents (partially digested food and stomach acid) can reflux up into the esophagus and cause heartburn.

Stomach acid production naturally declines as we age. Stress, unhealthy diet (high in refined grains, sugars and processed foods) and use of medications are all common causes of low stomach acid.

Treating Low Stomach Acid

Water There are a number of natural ways to improve your production of stomach acid. Your Naturopathic Doctor can help you to understand which options are best for you.

  1. Become a “chewitarian” – the longer the food spends in your mouth, the more signals your brain and enyzmes in your saliva will send to your stomach to produce stomach acid. So slow down, chew carefully and savour each bite.
  2. Limit beverages at mealtimes – water and other fluids can dilute stomach acid, requiring our body to produce more. Take only small sips of water during meals and save the majority of your water for between meals.
  3. Apple cider vinegar – can help low stomach acid by providing a source of acid, allowing your stomach to have an optimal pH even if you aren’t making enough stomach acid on your own. Doses vary, start low with 1 tsp and see if it helps you.
  4. Betaine hydrochloric acid – a powerful treatment for heartburn and low stomach acid, betaine HCl provides you with a safe source of stomach acid. This will help optimize your stomach acid levels and promote total digestion of food, leading to a healthy stomach emptying time and decreased symptoms. Your ND will give you guidelines on safe supplementation.
  5. Deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) – an excellent support for heartburn, DGL improves symptoms of heartburn by healing the esophagus and tonifying the lower esophageal sphincter – the opening at the top of the stomach. Try chewing one capsule when you experience heartburn to decrease symptoms while you work to optimize your stomach acid levels.

The Importance of Treating Heartburn

Heartburn may be miserable, and uncomfortable and for many that is reason enough to try to clear the symptoms. But getting to the underlying cause of the heartburn is important because optimal digestion of our food is the only way we will get all of the nutrients we need for our bodies to function.

If you are producing inadequate stomach acid, or taking acid-suppressing medications, you may experience difficulty breaking down protein, an increase in food sensitivities, deficiencies in nutrients, and increased inflammation. The consequences of poor nutrient absorption can not be underestimated!

So speak with your Naturopath today to find ways to optimize your health and overcome your heartburn symptoms, once and for all!

Disclaimer

The advice provided in this article is for informational purposes only.  It is meant to augment and not replace consultation with a licensed health care provider.  Consultation with a Naturopathic Doctor or other primary care provider is recommended for anyone suffering from a health problem.

 

Nutritional Needs of Teens

There is a lot of growth during the teen years.  Emotional growth, intellectual growth, spiritual growth and, of course, physical growth.  All of this growing can be exhausting (this is one of the reasons teens need so much sleep!) It also means that nutritional needs are increased to support all this growth and change.

Teens need over 2 litres of water daily

The teen years are second only to pregnancy and lactation for high nutrient requirements.  The best way to ensure you are getting all of these nutrients is to eat a diverse diet high in different coloured fruits and vegetables, whole grains (such as brown rice, quinoa, barley, and millet), legumes and beans, lean meats (or alternatives) and low fat dairy (or alternatives).

Below are two charts on micronutrient (vitamins and minerals) and macronutrient (protein, carbohydrate, fats, water) nutritional needs.  Values given are daily requirements.

Micronutrient_Needs_Teens

*Vitamin D requirements are higher in Canada from October to May due to inadequate sun exposure during the winter.

**Any female who is sexually active should be taking an additional 400mcg daily to prevent birth defects if pregnancy occurs

Macronutrient_Needs_Teens

Remember: these reference values are for normal, apparently healthy individuals eating a mixed North American diet. An individual may have individual physiological, health, or lifestyle characteristics that may require different intakes of specific nutrients.

If you are concerned you are not getting enough nutrients in your diet consider a high quality multivitamin-mineral supplement to meet your needs.  It is better to take a supplement to meet your needs than to deprive your body of the building blocks it needs to grow and maintain health through your teens and beyond.

References:

Health Canada Dietary Reference Intake Tables.  Available online at: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/nutrition/reference/table/index-eng.php http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/nutrition/reference/table/index-eng.php