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Integrative Family Health Clinic in Bolton and the Greater Caledon Area
4-22 Simona Drive
Bolton, ON
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You Think What You Eat

How sharp is your mind, how balanced is your mood, how consistent is your energy, how happy are you – and what, if anything, do these qualities have to do with what you eat?

There are some sobering stats which involved 37,000 people. Here are the proportion of people that reported suffering ‘frequently’ or ‘always’ from certain conditions:

    • Become impatient quickly 82%
    • Have low energy level 80%
    • Energy is less than it used to be 76%
    • Feel have too much to do 67%
    • Become anxious or tense easily 64%
    • Have PMS/PMT (women only) 63%
    • Easily become angry 53%
    • Suffer from depression 44%
    • Have difficulty concentrating 43%
    • Become nervous/hyperactive 38%
    • Have poor memory/difficulty learning 32%

Does this sound like anyone you know? Does this sound like you?  Welcome to the 21st century.  Despite improvements in diet and better standards of living, the average person is exhausted, among other things.  So, what’s going wrong?

Our minds and bodies have been shaped over millions of years of evolution. Diets have changed radically in the last 100 years, along with our environment.  When you consider that the body and brain are made entirely from molecules derived from food, air, and water, and that simple molecules like alcohol can fundamentally affect the brain, isn’t it unlikely that changes in the diet and the environment have had no effect on our mental health?

I believe that most of us are not achieving our full potential for mental health, happiness, alertness and clarity because we are not achieving optimum nutrition for the mind.  I also believe that significant proportion of mentally unwell people are suffering from a chemical imbalance brought on by years of poor nutrition and exposure to environmental pollutants.

As Einstein said, ‘[bt_highlight]the problems we have created cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them[/bt_highlight].’  We need a new way of thinking about mental health that includes the role of nutrition and the chemical environment and how these affect the way we think and feel.

Mind and body are not separate

One of the most limiting concepts in the human sciences is the idea that the mind and the body are separate.  Try asking an anatomist, a psychologist and a biochemist where the mind begins and the body ends.  It is a stupid question, and yet that is exactly what modern science has done by separating psychology from anatomy and physiology.

But it’s not just the scientists who live by this false distinction.  It’s us.  When you’re having difficulty concentrating, when your mood is low, when you struggle to find a memory, do you consider that you may be poorly nourished? Why not?  Every one of these states – your thinking, feeling, mental energy and focus – happens across a network of interconnecting brain cells, each one of which depends on an optimal supply of nutrients to work efficiently.

Optimum Nutrition and psychotherapy work wonders

Of course, as I’ve mentioned, improving our mental health isn’t only about nutrition.  While some therapists may ignore the role of nutrition and the brain’s chemistry in how we think and feel, let’s not make the same mistake. I believe the solution to the mental health problems that plague our society lies in a combination of optimum nutrition and good psychological support, which includes having a place you can call home, being treated with respect and dignity, and counselling.  

Certain kinds of counselling are highly effective for depression, for example, but far too infrequently prescribed or available.  The combination of optimum nutrition and psychotherapy works wonders for a wide variety of mental health problems, from depression to schizophrenia – and may work better than drugs.  Most of the psychiatrists that I have spoken to find that while drugs can be life-saving in the short term, they become unnecessary when people are receiving the right combination of nutrients and psychological support.

We need a radical new approach based on science

With mental health problems rising at such a pace, we need a new way of thinking about the state of our minds.  As Marcel Proust said, ‘the real act of discovery consists, not finding new lands, but in seeing with new eyes.’  [bt_highlight]We need to wake up to the realisation that poor nutrition and chemical imbalances probably underlie the majority of mental health problems.  [/bt_highlight]  While psychotherapy can make a positive change, you must also address deficiencies in essential fats, vitamins, minerals, and other key brain nutrients.  We must think our way out of the box and get to grips with the fact that chemistry directly affects how we think and feel.

This means a new basis for both diagnosing and treating problems, and a new way of living and eating that supports our mental health, rather than eroding it.  I believe we already have solutions to most forms of mental illness.  We just have to look with new eyes.  

Summary:

We can now say with confidence that:

  • Most people are achieving well below their full potential for intelligence, memory, concentration, emotional balance and happiness.
  • The right combination of nutrients may work better than drugs, and without the side-effects.
  • Psychotherapy (and other forms of therapy) works best if you’re optimally nourished.
  • Most mental health problems can be relieved with the right nutrition together with the right psychological support and guidance.

Niki Vlachou-Puzzo is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist at Wildflower Health and Wellness – Learn more about her on her website and follow Niki on Instagram

To Detox or Not to Detox?

 Is a detox a great way to feel confident in your bikini or a recipe for disaster?

Detoxing in my experience is considered extreme, and for lack of a better word, ‘fringy.’ But in the past few years, the word ‘detox’ has taken on a whole new meaning. Now, it seems to be a catch-all term to describe some sort of intervention that gets the junk out and helps restore the body to a better state of balance. It seems as if everyone is jumping on board!

What Counts as a Detox Diet?

Detoxes can be relatively basic, from simply cutting out alcohol, caffeine, and processed stuff (white flour, sugar, artificial ingredients, etc.), to downright extreme, like liquid-only regimes.

Advantages of Detoxing

The main advantage of a basic detox is that it eliminates things you should be trying to limit or avoid anyway. Committing to “banning” certain foods can be a great way to allow your body to experience what it feels like to take a break from things like alcohol and sugar. While you may not drop a lot of weight on a basic detox, you’ll probably feel lighter, more energized, “cleaner” and motivated to stay on a healthy track.

When Detoxing Can Become Dangerous

More extreme detoxes on the other hand, especially those that eliminate solid food, are a different story. Because you won’t be taking in enough carbohydrates, you’ll deplete your body’s glycogen stores, the carbs socked away in your liver and muscle tissue. That alone can cause you to shed 5 to 10 pounds in just a few days, but that loss won’t be body fat, and it can come right back as soon as you revert to your usual routine. Another big problem with liquid cleanses is they generally don’t provide protein or fat, two building blocks your body needs for constant repair and healing. Consuming too little of these key nutrients can lead to muscle loss and a weaker immune system. Psychologically, the quick weight loss can be a real high, but eventually the lack of nutrition may catch up with you, usually in the form of an injury, catching a cold or flu, or just feeling run down and exhausted.

Do What’s Right for You

So my bottom line advice on to detox or not to detox: don’t feel like it’s is something you should be doing just because it’s popular. But if you could really use a clean slate and you decide to try one, follow these two basic rules:

  1. Think of a detox as a transition period or jump start to a healthy plan. It’s not a long-term “diet” or a way of making up for every overindulgence. Getting into a cycle of continuously overeating then detoxing isn’t healthy physically or emotionally.
  2. Listen to your body. You should feel light and energized, but a too-strict detox can leave you feeling weak, shaky, dizzy, cranky and headache-prone. If you don’t feel well, modify the plan to better meet your body’s needs.  Ultimately, any detox should feel like a stepping stone to a healthier path, not a punishment.

 

What’s the Deal with Detox Diets?

It seems everyone is talking about “detox” or considering a “cleanse.” Detox diets often are misunderstood, especially since your body already comes equipped with a detoxification system. Understanding how detox works may help clear up some confusion.

How the Body Naturally Detoxifies

Detoxification is a process that the body performs around the clock utilizing important nutrients from the diet. It’s the process that transforms toxins so they can be removed from the body. They fall into two main categories: toxins that are made in the body during regular metabolism, and those that come from outside the body and are introduced by eating, drinking, breathing or are absorbed through the skin.

Toxins that are produced in the body include lactic acid, urea and waste products from microbes in the gut. External toxins may include pesticides, mercury in seafood, lead from car exhaust and air pollution, chemicals in tobacco products and drugs or alcohol.

Detoxification also us the process by which medications are metabolized and removed from the body. Because toxins are potentially dangerous to human health, they need to be transformed and excreted through urine, feces, respiration or sweat. Each person’s ability to detoxify varies and is influenced by environment, diet, lifestyle, health status and genetic factors, suggesting some people may require more detoxification support than others. But if the amount of toxins to which a person is exposed exceeds his or her body’s ability to excrete them, the toxins may be stored in fat cells, soft tissue and bone, negatively affecting health. This is the rationale behind the use of practices that support the body’s own detoxification capabilities, but more research is needed.

Most detoxification programs recommend removing highly processed foods and foods to which some people are sensitive, such as dairy, gluten, eggs, peanuts and red meat. They also recommend eating mostly organically grown vegetables, fruit, whole non-glutenous grains, nuts, seeds and lean protein. Other programs recommend fasting, a potentially risky practice for some people, which may actually suppress detoxification pathways in the body. This is why many health practitioners advise against this practice.

Many non-credentialed people claim to be experts in detoxification; however, there is a lack of research at this time to support its use. Plus, detoxification programs can vary widely and may pose a risk for some people (such as people with health problems, those with eating disorders, those who take multiple medications, and pregnant or breast-feeding women).

 

8 Ways to Support Your Body’s Natural Detox

Detoxification support doesn’t need to consist of a rigorous plan; doing some or all of the following can support your body’s natural detoxification:

  • Stay hydrated with clean water.
  • Eat five to nine servings of fruit and vegetables per day.
  • Consume dietary fiber each day from vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and whole grains to help maintain bowel regularity.
  • Include cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli and brussels sprouts, berries, artichokes, garlic, onions, leeks and green tea. These support detoxification pathways.
  • Consume adequate amounts of lean protein, which is critical to maintaining optimum levels of glutathione, the body’s master detoxification enzyme.
  • Consider taking a multivitamin/multimineral to fill any gaps in a healthy diet, since certain vitamins and minerals enable the body’s detoxification processes to function.

Eat naturally fermented foods such as kefir, yogurt, kimchi and sauerkraut — or take a high-quality probiotic — to help promote a healthy gut.

If you have questions about your eating style and its role in supporting the body’s detoxification, check in with me.

By: Niki Vlachou, RHN

 

Wildflower Health and Wellness Simple Ways to Plan and Prepare Meals Even When You’re Busy

Simple Ways to Plan and Prepare Meals Even When You’re Busy 

You want to eat healthier, but you’re super-busy. 

You eat out several times a week because that’s what you have to do. That’s what works for you and your family (when it comes to time and convenience). But you probably realize it’s not working great when it comes to your health and fitness goals.

[bt_highlight]You want better health. You want to eat better. You don’t want the extra calories, fast food and junk food as much anymore. And you DO want to save time and money.[/bt_highlight]

 

I get it!

So, as a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, I am here to help you. I have a simple strategy that I’m more than happy to share with you. It will help you to plan and prepare healthy meals for the week.

Now, you don’t need to completely abandon your regular meals out. You can use my strategy to help you eat out just one or two fewer times per week. It’s up to you.As with any lifestyle change, start gradually so you can build consistency. The key here is to make it easy, doable and rewarding enough to do again and again.

Let me walk you through my simple meal prep system, and how this can work for you.

 

PLAN MEALS FOR THE WEEK

I prefer to do this on the weekend. I’ll flip through my recipes and choose a bunch to make that week. I’ll even pick which days to have which meals if I’m feeling overly ambitious, but that’s not necessary if you’re new to this. I’ll bookmark the pages and write my chosen recipes down in a notebook or even a sheet of paper to put on my fridge. I like to have at least one crock pot meal each week because they’re so easy, and dinner is ready and waiting when you get home. 

Then I create my grocery list. I take a quick look in my fridge, freezer and pantry, and list the recipe ingredients that I need to buy.

[bt_highlight]Pro Tip[/bt_highlight]: If you’re not sure you have enough of an ingredient already, consider buying a “backup” one just in case. I’ve had times where the tomato sauce I planned to use was a bit short of what I actually needed. Having to run out in the middle of meal prep can be very frustrating.

Another thing to consider is doubling the recipe(s), so you can prep and cook once, but have twice the meal at the end. The extras can be taken for lunch, or frozen to pull out the night before a busy day, so you just need to heat it up when you’re ready. 

[bt_highlight]Pro Tip[/bt_highlight]: If you’re doubling a recipe, don’t forget to double the amount you buy from the grocery store.

Once you have your handy-dandy grocery list ready, hop on over to the store and pick up your essentials. If you don’t have enough food storage containers for your meals, now’s the time to pick up some of those too.

[bt_highlight]Pro Tip[/bt_highlight]: If you’re not a fan of washing and chopping produce, then consider buying them already pre-washed and pre-chopped, or even frozen. You can make your meal prep even easier if you don’t mind spending a couple of extra dollars.

 

PREPARE MEALS FOR THE WEEK

Since you’ve already chosen your recipes and have your groceries, let’s get started on prepping some of the ingredients.

I like to book off 2-3 hours one afternoon for this. Get your recipes ready, clear off your counter, and play some music (if you’re so inclined). This is a great way to get your water intake in, have a glass of water, perhaps in a “fancy” glass and sip away (or your beverage of choice).

At this point, depending on time, I’ll either prep the ingredients, or pre-cook the entire recipe. Sometimes just washing and chopping produce and putting it in containers is a huge time-saver for weeknights. Or, you can go through and make a whole meal, and divide it up into portions and refrigerate or freeze. It’s really up to you, because the more you do now, the less you’ll have to do when you’re hungry.

 

AWESOME MEAL PREP TIP

There is one meal that is easiest to plan and prepare in advance. It’s one that’s also often the most difficult to eat at home if you’re busy. 

That’s breakfast. 

Planning some overnight oatmeal is a great start to any day. Simply place ½ cup rolled gluten free oats, ½ cup your choice of nut milk, 1 tbsp chia or flax seeds into a container (or make 5 for the whole week). Then place the lid on, shake them up and put them in your fridge. In the morning you can quickly heat them up or even eat them cold (the oats will have absorbed the nut milk). Top with berries, chopped fruit, cinnamon, nuts or seeds and enjoy.

With a little planning, you’ll be able to eat healthier while you save money and calories. 

This may take some getting used to, so if I can be of help, please reach out and let me know!