Today’s post is all about the importance of using natural cosmetics, whenever possible. Although this may be old news for some, I am continually surprised with how many do not know the importance of natural cosmetics. In this post, I will go through the top 12 chemicals found in conventional cosmetics, with a brief note on the potential dangers of each one. I then added resources for further personal research, and helpful tips for how you can make the switch to natural care products an easier process.
From the David Suzuki website: “U.S. researchers report that one in eight of the 82,000 ingredients used in personal care products are industrial chemicals, including carcinogens, pesticides, reproductive toxins, and hormone distributors.”
Chemicals accumulate in the body and these chemicals can have detrimental effects to our health. It is of upmost concern for those with specific health conditions such as PCOS, hypothyroidism or skin conditions, and particularly important for pregnant women. We also must consider the fact that most people have been using products with these chemicals for the majority of their lives, allowing the chemicals to accumulate over time.
Below, I included a list of the ‘Dirty Dozen’- the top 12 toxic chemicals found in most conventional personal care products. To dig deeper into the research, and for a more comprehensive explanation, you can download this file from the David Suzuki website.
THE DIRTY DOZEN (taken from davidsuzuki.com)
1. BHA and BHT: Found in moisturizers and makeup as preservatives. Both are suspected endocrine ( hormone) distributors and possible carcinogens. Both are harmful to fish and wildlife.
2. Coal Tar Dyes: p-phenylenediamine and colours listed as ‘CI’ followed by a 5 digit number. These are potential carcinogens and contaminated with heavy metals, which can be toxic to the brain.
3. DEA- related ingredients: Also look for MEA and TEA. These are used in creamy and foaming products like moisturizers and shampoo, and are a potential carcinogen.
4. Dibutyl Phthalate: Used as a plasticizer in nail care products. Potential endocrine (hormone) disrupter and reproductive toxicant.
5. Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives: Also look for DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, methanamine and quaternium-15. Used in a variety of cosmetics and releases small amounts of formaldehyde, a known carcinogen.
6. Parabens: A potential endocrine disrupter for both male and females and used as a preservative in a variety of cosmetic products.
7. Parfum or Fragrance: Some fragrance can trigger allergies and asthma, and some are linked to cancer and neurotoxicity.
8. PEG compounds: Used in cream based products, can be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, which can cause cancer.
9. Petroleum: Used in hair products, lip balms, lip sticks and moisturizer for shine and as a moisture barrier. Petroleum can be contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which may cause cancer.
10. Siloxanes: Look for “-siloxane” or “-methicone”. Used in a variety of cosmetics to soften, smooth and moisten, it is a suspected endocrine distruptor and reproductive toxicant.
11. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate/ Sodium Laureth Sulfate: Used as a foaming agent in shampoo, cleansers, bubble bath and toothpaste. Can be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, which may cause cancer. Look for
12. Triclosan: Used in antibacterial products like toothpaste, cleansers and antiperspirants, this chemical is a suspected endocrine distrupter and can contribute to antibiotic resistance in bacteria.
1. Check your products to see if they contain any of the dirty dozen. Check your body wash, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, moisturizer, face wash and anything else you use.
2. You can also visit EWG’s Skin Deep database to check your specific product, and see how it rates for toxicity and why.
3. Start switching your products! You can switch your products out one-by-one, to limit the cost.
4. Find natural cosmetics that you love! Below I included a list of some of my favourite brands, as well as a list of natural beauty blogs for you to check reviews and see the opinion of others.
MY FAVOURITE NATURAL BEAUTY BRANDS:
MY FAVOURITE NATURAL BEAUTY BLOGS:
Now, everyone’s skin is different and I often find that popular reviews are not necessarily consistent with my own experiences with a product, but it is a good start!
Green Product Junkie
As always, e-mail me with any questions, or to tell me about your favourite natural beauty brands or blogs!
Today I have a very special guest answering some questions about herbal medicine and herbal remedies. For anyone who works with me, you know this is a special area of interest, and herbal remedies are something I strongly believe in using as part of holistic care. I recommend herbs to most of my clients, and it is great to see many herbs are backed by science and have evidence to support what traditional and holistic practitioners have been advocating for, for a long time.
Herbs have many uses and include but not limited to helping with stress, mood, immune, allergies, headaches, migraines, menstrual cramps, digestion, PMS, sleep, energy and skin health.
Lauren Hayes is the incredible woman, and herbalist, behind Wooden Spoon Herbs. Wooden Spoon Herbs is a boutique herbal medicine line based in northwest Georgia. This line is focused on bioregional ingredients and founded on the principal that plants gathered and processed by hand are more beautiful, flavorful and medicinally potent than any other. Lauren founded her company in 2014 and creates tinctures, salves, syrups, flower essences, bitters and luxury body care.
I found Lauren through Instagram and was immediately inspired and drawn to her philosophy and how connected she was to the land, and to her work. I started carrying Wooden Spoon Herbs at my clinic a few months ago, and everyone that has tried her products loves them and has found them so helpful! I am so happy to bring Wooden Spoon Herbs to Toronto, and that I have been able to connect with such an inspiring woman!
I asked Lauren some questions so that she can share her expertise in the area of herbal medicine. I hope you enjoy and learn more about this amazing field!
Q&A WITH LAUREN:
Firstly, what is Herbal Medicine?
Most often we think of herbal medicine as the use of plants to treat discomfort and maintain excellent health. I like to think of herbs as part of self care.
What do you do as a Herbalist?
At this point in my herbal journey, I am focused on making high-quality herbal remedies to provide to the public through my company, Wooden Spoon Herbs. I harvest wild plants, work with small-scale herb farms, and source the best ingredients available for the most potent medicine. I work with only small-farm grown herbs, and try to stay true to what grows in my bioregion of the Southeast ( of America). I never want to feed into the fad herbs from far-off lands, when there is so much medicine surrounding me where where I live,. That is true for everyone, no matter where you are. Medicine and magic are all around.
In the future I hope to have time to work one-on-one with clients, and open up a small practice. I practice a tradition of herbalism spearheaded by Phyllis Light called Southern Folk Medicine, which is a kind of constitutional medicine much like Ayurveda or Traditional Chinese Medicine.
When did your love of herbal medicine begin?
My dive into the depths of herbal medicine began about five years ago, when I was 22. I was fermenting a lot, looking at backyard edibles to work with, when I started reading more and more that you could use these plants as medicines, too. I headed down the green path and never looked back. I still ferment and use natural dyes and love the utilitarianism of medicinal plants, but everything is tinted with shades of ” how is this plant affecting in my life” in all that I do.
What do you love about what you do?
I love being out in the woods. I love learning new things about new plants, especially ones that are right under my nose. I love seeing a plant really work for someone and I love when that blows both of our minds. I love befriending new plants. I love teaching people about the medicine chest below their feet, especially in weedy plants that they pull out of their garden beds.
Describe the process you take whens sourcing and making your products:
Sure! So I have a few lists that I have made for reference when I am sourcing/producing: one of the farms that I work with and what comes from each farm, and the other for what plants I have to work with from saids farms and from what grows wild around me. I also use a book Medicinal Plants of the Southern Appalachias by Patricia Howell, who is an amazing Herbalist.
Whatever new product I am making comes from half divine inspiration and half narrowing down what I have to work with. Formulation looks like breaking herbs down into their actions and seeing what is a good fit. I also tend to use safe and weedy herbs in my products, for sustainability purposes.
How can the use of herbs be used in a holistic healing regime?
Herbs are just part of a healthy lifestyle, that should include nutrient-dense foods, clean air and water, stress reduction, and exercise. Herbs can be a boost to all of these aspects and can totally help keep you on an even keel. For example, you can add mineral-rich nettle and dandelion root vinegars to your cooked greens to boost nutritional content, or use adaptogen herbs like ginseng and ashwaganda to improve energy and lessen stress. You can even use herbs for things like migraines and menstrual cramps.
A DIY TINTURE RECIPE
A tincture is an alcohol extract of an herb. It is super easy to use, concentrated for maximum potency, and portable. One dropperful of tincture is equal to about three cups of an herbal tea. You can use 1:5 radio for dried herbs, or 1:2 ratio for fresh herbs, but below is a recipe for a “folk method” tincture, which is easiest to make and highly effective.
MAKING A TINCTURE THE FOLK METHOD WAY
Supplies needed: a pint mason jar, a sharp knife and cutting board, and some fresh herb- some good, easy and safe herbs to start with are sage, thyme, and dandelion.
- Gather your herbs in the mid-morning after the dew has dried.
- Discard any parts that don’t look green and happy. Brown spots, spots too low to the ground.
- Chop the herbs finely and stuff into the mason jar.
- Cover with vodka and put a layer of parchment or wax paper between the tincture and the lid. Tighten the lid.
- Shake your tincture!
- Label your tincture with the herb, its Latin name, “folk method”, and where you harvested from, as well as any other information you want to include. I promise you have to label it or else you will completely forget what’s going on in there.
- Keep the tincture in a cool dark place and shake it daily for two weeks, then steep it for another two weeks.
- Strain and bottle in an amber glass bottle to best preserve.
Ta-da! Now you’ve made a tincture!
Thank you Lauren for taking the time to answer these questions, and for offering such a nice recipe. To learn more about Lauren and what she does visit www.woodenspoonherbs.com
Overnight oats are a great breakfast option for busy mornings. A nutritious choice, they are also easy to prepare the night before and assemble quickly in the morning.
Oats are a great source of soluble fibre, which is helpful at balancing blood sugar levels and great for digestive health. Oats are also a good source b vitamins, which help to manage stress, calm the nervous system and increase energy levels. Topping overnight oats, or oatmeal, with a source of protein and healthy fat is also important for stabilizing blood sugar levels throughout the morning and to maintain a balanced energy. I love topping oatmeal with a combination of nuts and seeds, as you will see below :)
OVERNIGHT OATS – A HOW-TO:
1 Part Oats
2 Parts Coconut Milk * Or any other plant based milk
For reference, a single serving is about 1/4 cup – 1/2 cup raw oats with 1/2-1 cup milk, depending on how hungry you are in the morning.
- Add oats and milk in a container. Mix together. Place in the fridge.
- In the morning mix together. Add toppings of choice. See below for options!
Chocolate Peanut Butter
Add 1 spoonful of peanut butter + 1 tsp cacao powder + 1 tsp hemp hearts + 1 tsp chia seeds, 1/2 sliced banana + maple syrup to taste.
Add 1 handful walnuts + 1/4 sliced apple + 1 tsp cinnamon + 1 tsp chia seeds + maple syrup to taste.
Add handful coconut flakes + handful berries ( fresh or frozen) + 1 tsp hemp hearts + 1 tsp chia seeds + 1/4 tsp vanilla + maple syrup to taste.
TIP #1: You can prepare the overnight outs without the toppings a few nights in advance, so that you can have breakfast planned ahead for a good few days!
TIP #2: If you need more protein in the morning, you can add a scoop or 1/2 a scoop of protein powder to milk before you add it to the oats at night. My favourites are Garden of Life, Genuine Health and Sunwarrior plant-based protein powders.
I hope you enjoy these three combinations. Let me know if you try them, or if you have any other favourite combos!
In today’s post I wanted to do a simple round up of health food stores in and around Toronto. This is something that my clients often find useful, especially if they are new to shopping at a health food store. I hope this is helpful and that you can find a store near you!
Noah’s Natural Foods
This family owned health food store is where I worked for many years. Locations in the Annex, Yonge and Bloor, Thornhill and King West. A great bulk section, vitamin section and natural body care section. Some locations carry more produce than others. I am bias, but the staff is also amazing :)
Located in my current residing neighbourhood St. Claire and Bathurst, this is another small family run health food store. No produce, but a good bulk section, vitamin section and pretty good prices!
Herbs and Nutrition
An annex health food store, with a great selection of stuff. The price is also right, and I love shopping here myself.
The Sweet Potato
This health food store in the Junction, contains a great range of grocery items, bulk items and has a good organic vegetable section.
The Big Carrot
This is definitely a Toronto institution and the closest health food store to my new office location ( for those that want to go shopping after an appointment with me!) :)
Moberly Natural Foods
Another great east end health food store.
4 Life Natural Foods
This is one of my favourite health food stores, located in Kensington Market. It is large and has great produce, as well as other healthy grocery items.
West End Food Co-op
Located in the west end, this is a nice and bright store with a good range of products.
There are many Healthy Planet locations around the GTA, and a good store for those not living or working in the heart of Toronto.
Today I am sharing some gift ideas for that person in your life who loves all things wellness + nutrition. I personally love gift guides and I also get asked for gift ideas by those looking to buy a present for someone who is interested in nutrition. So, I thought I would write a blog post outlining some of my faves!
Here are my top 5 gift ideas:
Is gut health their thing? What about general healthy living? Nutrition books are often a good choice. Here are some good ones (definitely more on the nerdy side)
How Not to Die by Michael Greger
The Gut Balance Revolution by Gerrard E Mullin
The Allergy Solution by Leo Galland
The Whole Heart Solution by Joel Kahn
Brain Maker BY Dr. David Perlmutter
A Mind of Your Own Dr. Kelly Brogan
You don’t have to be a nutrition nerd to love healthy whole foods. You can find healthy cookbooks abundantly, which makes me very happy. Some great cookbooks include:
My New Roots by Sarah Britton
Oh She Glows by Angela Liddon
Small Victories by Julia Turshen and Ina Garten
At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen by Amy Chaplin
26 Grains by Alex Hely-Hutchison
Everyday Super Food By Jamie Oliver
Organic Delivery Service
I think a vegetable delivery service or CSA is a really great present. I have bought these for meany health-focused friends and family members in the past. In Toronto you can choose from Fresh City Farms, Mama Earth Organics, Organic Live and local CSA’s.
A gift certificate for a healthy cooking class, health food store, healthy restaurant or a nutrition service, all make great gifts. Some options that I know of are Whole Foods, Noah’s Natural Foods, The Big Carrot, Doug Mcnish’s Public Kitchen and most healthy restaurants. You can also buy a certificate for my nutrition services here.
A Speciality Curated Basket
You can either make this yourself with artisanal health food products, or you can go through a basket delivery service. In Toronto, Jule’s Baskets offers carefully curated health-focused gift boxes, which are sure to please!
I hope you enjoy this list of ideas for holiday gifts! Please let me know what you think, and let me know if you buy your loved ones any of these options!
Today’s post will be discussing some very important nutrients for a healthy pregnancy. I hope you enjoy learning about these top 5 nutrients and the reason why they are all important to include throughout your pregnancy + beyond!
The Top 5 Nutrients for Pregnancy:
Folic Acid: Folic acid is critical for the development of a growing fetus as it is an essential nutrient for brain and spinal cord development. Specific to pregnancy, folic acid can help to prevent neural tube defects of the cord such as spina bifida. Neural tubes defects occur at a very early stage of development, which is why it is so important to have sufficient amounts of folic acid as early as possible. Foods high in folic acid are leafy greens (think: kale, swiss chard, collard greens, spinach, bok choy, asparagus, broccoli etc.), beans, legumes and whole grains. You can also opt for a supplement, under the advisement of a health care practitioner.
Iron: Iron is a crucial mineral found in the body and is necessary to make hemoglobin, a protein found in red blood cells that carry oxygen to other cells in the body. It is also an important part of myglobin, a protein that supplies oxygen to muscles. As well, iron is used to make enzymes in the body, and is an important part of the immune system. During pregnancy, a woman’s blood increases to almost 50 %, which naturally increases the amount of iron necessary (the more blood you have in the body, the more hemoglobin you need). Sufficient iron is also associated with reducing preterm and low birth weight. Foods that are high in iron are red meat, seafood, beans, dark leafy green vegetables ( same as above) and dried apricots. Supplementing with iron may also be recommended.
Calcium: Calcium is another essential mineral for a healthy pregnancy, as it is important to help with the development of strong bones. A growing fetus will accumulate about 30 g of calcium during pregnancy, mostly in the third trimester. A sufficient amount of calcium-rich foods are great to consume throughout the first and second trimester, while I usually recommend my clients try a supplement for the third trimester. Vitamin D and magnesium are both crucial for the absorption of calcium so they must be included, as well. Calcium rich foods include sesame seeds, dark leafy greens and plain yogurt.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids: Omega 3 fatty acids include two types, EPA and DHA. Both are important for pregnancy, but DHA has significant benefit to a growing fetus and pregnant women. Omega 3 fatty acids are critical for brain development, retina development and cognitive function. Sufficient amounts of omega 3 fatty acids can also reduce “baby brain” and improve memory and mental acuity throughout pregnancy. Lastly, they may also reduce the risk of postpartum depression. An omega 3 fatty acid supplement, high in DHA, is typically advised throughout pregnancy, the specific dosage depends on your dietary intake. Foods that are high in omega 3 fatty acids are oily fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring), flax seeds, chia seeds seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, flax oil and hemp oil.
Probiotics: Ensuring healthy gut bacteria is another important part of a healthy pregnancy. Healthy gut bacteria is linked to so many health concerns such as immune health, mental health and more. During pregnancy, probiotics can be helpful to boost the immune system, help with digestion, ensure proper absorption of nutrients through food and supplementation and can even reduce the risk of allergies in new born babies. Probiotic rich foods include plain yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi or any fermented vegetable, tempeh and miso.
As always, this advice is general and it is always advised to seek the help of a health care practitioner throughout your pregnancy.
If you are looking for a nutrition coach to guide you through your pregnancy, please do not hesitate to reach out. In my Baby & Me package we cover everything from the importance of frequent meals, nutrient dense food options, healthy snacks, morning sickness, blood sugar management, safe supplementation, breast feeding/healthy formulas feeding, easy meals for new moms and more! I take your specific health history into consideration and design a program for you, based on your specific needs and goals throughout this exciting time!
I also created a mini recipe booklet for some extra yummy goodness! Check it out and let me know if you try any of the recipes!
Today I am sharing healthy dip recipes. I have two options; one is vegan and the other is bean-free and suitable for paleo and SCD diets. These dips are a great appetizer, and also a perfect snack to have on hand for the week. Both are full of fibre, healthy fats and protein. I hope you enjoy!
This dip is very simple and versatile. You can use whatever bean you have on hand, and add whatever spices you feel like.
2 cups white beans ( or any bean of choice)
3 tbsp olive oil + more to drizzle on top
Juice of one lemon
1 clove garlic
Salt & pepper to taste
Spices: For this recipe I used Zaatar, turmeric, hot pepper
Blend all ingredients together in blender or food processor.
This is a wonderful dip that contains the added health benefit of beets. This dip is perfect for those who follow the paleo or SCD diet.
1.5 cups walnuts
1 large red beet, roasted
Juice of one lemon
1 clove garlic
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili flakes
1 tsp curry powder *optional
1 tbsp raw honey
3 tbsp olive oil
Blend all ingredients together in a blender or food processor.
Today’s blog post is about the cute Almond Butterfly, an all natural and 100% gluten-free bake shop and cafe located in the heart of Harbord Village.
Almond Butterfly is located right around the corner of my office and it has became an easy favourite. I often grab lunch, a snack and coffee. Everything is so delicious and made with healthy, whole ingredients.
The cafe is a great place to sit down with friends or enjoy a quick lunch. The space is small and cozy, but offers bar seating and a communal rustic table seating- a perfect combination of modern and rustic decor.
Almond Butterfly specializes in gluten-free goodies, however they offer a lot of dairy-free, vegan and paleo friendly options. They have a large selection of cupcakes, brownies, cookies, muffins, biscuits and date squares. They also have a great selection of savoury breakfast and lunch items including their amazing gluten-free bagel! The products are made with unique flour blends, specially formulated for each product. You would not be able to tell that any of the products are gluten-free, which is what they strive to achieve according to co-owner Melody. I love any place that offers those on a seemingly restrictive diet to indulge and eat delicious food. Almond Butterfly has something for everyone, which makes healthy eating in Toronto so easy!
The cafe opened their Toronto doors in June 2014, after establishing a Montreal-based business in 2011. Melody originally operated Almond Butterfly out of her home kitchen in Montreal, offering products online, to the crossfit community and wholesale to cafe customers. After establishing a well-loved following, Melody joined forces with her partner David and moved her home-based operation from Montreal and expanded into the vibrant food market here in Toronto. Together, David brought his corporate background and Melody her background working in the food and beverage industry to open a food business that would allow both to excel at what they do best. So far, it is working!
Since opening, they have gained a loyal clientele and expanding community. Both Melody and David, with their staff, love to interact with their customers daily.
When asking Melody her favourite part of owning and operating Almond Butterfly she answered that she loves the creativity of creating new products, having fun with the staff and absolutely loves chatting with regular customers. From a customer perspective, this passion infiltrates the shop and creates a warm, inviting space.
So, what is the first thing you should try? I personally love the veggie bagel, all cookies and cupcakes. Other customer favourites include the chocolate espresso cupcake, chocolate chunk cookies, breakfast cookies, paleo lava cake, GFT sandwhich, the breakfast sandwich and their Americano. As for staff favourites? They love the cheese biscuits, cupcakes and dairy-free pumpkin pie. All sound great to me!
If you have not already, Almond Butterfly is a place you must try next time you are Out&About in Toronto.
Special thanks to Melody for the interview and all photos are curtesy of Almond Butterfly.
Today I have a very special blog post by Laura Burns, Registered Acupuncturist and Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner. I was first introduced to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) in my late teens when I was feeling helpless struggling with my health. At that time I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression, along with other physical health complications such as hormonal imbalances and digestive issues. TCM helped me understand my body in a way that I hadn’t before, and greatly helped me during this time. Since then, I turn to TCM and Acupuncture when I feel that I need some extra support to balance out my body. For the past few years Laura has been my Acupuncturist and has helped me a lot so you can only imagine my excitement when she agreed to write a little blog post sharing her wisdom. Without further delay, here is Laura!
Acupuncture & Emotions
by Laura Burns
I was out with a friend the other night, telling him about this amazing medicine that I practice. He asked what kinds of conditions I have been treating in clinic, so I proceeded to list the ailments that have shown up in clinic lately, from back pain to constipation to anxiety. My friend stops me right there and asks, incredulously, “ You use acupuncture to treat anxiety?”
Though he was surprised to hear that acupuncture could be used to treat anxiety, this was more of an eye-opener moment for me than it was for him. His question made me realize that I need to get the word out: Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is not only used for conditions that affect our physical health, but it is also very effective in working with imbalances that affect our mental-emotional health.
According to Chinese Medicine, our spirit and our emotions cannot be separated from our body. Each organ is seen as a whole system rather than just the physiological function of the organ, and each organ system has its own associated emotion. With this in mind, it is an important piece of information for a practitioner to know how a patient feels on an emotional level as well.
Emotions themselves are not harmful. They are natural and healthy and beautiful guides in our life, as long as they are moving through us and do not become ‘stuck’ or overstay their welcome. Fear, for example, is necessary because it alerts us to dangerous situations and causes us to act accordingly. However, an excess of fear that won’t leave us alone can cause serious disruptions in one’s quality of life – possibly even affecting our ability to leave the house or do daily activities. Chinese medicine looks at the organ system that this emotion is tied to, and works on the body from that perspective.
The ﬁve main organ systems in Chinese Medicine and their associated emotions are as follows:
Lungs – grief, sadness, loss
Spleen/Pancreas – worry, overthinking
Heart – over-excited, excess joy, anxiousness
Liver – anger, frustration, depression
Kidneys – fear, shock
As you can see, these emotions cannot be separated from their organs systems. Experiencing an emotion affects its associated organ system, and an imbalance in an organ system affects its associated emotion. It’s a two-way street: working with emotions can help balance organ systems, and working with organ systems can help balance emotions.
Chinese medicine looks at the entire being, in a holistic manner. There are various acupuncture points for both our organs and their spirits. For example, a commonly used acupuncture point on the wrist for settling anxiety is translated as “Spirit Gate”.
Including our mental-emotional health is just one of the ways Chinese Medicine earns its holistic title (emotions not sold separately!). Give it a try… see how you feel.
Laura is a Registered Acupuncturist & Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner, practicing out of two clinics in downtown Toronto. Laura found her way to traditional medicine through a personal quest to improve her well-being (physically, emotionally, spiritually) and deepen her connection to the natural world. Now, she is fuelled by a desire to empower others in improving their own health and vitality. She has a particular focus on treating digestive conditions, women’s health concerns, stress and anxieties. For more info: www.lauraburns.ca
Thank you so much to Laura! I really urge you to visit Laura’s website to learn more about her and her practice. If you have never tried acupuncture I suggest you try it out, you may love it as much as I do!
Today’s post is all about one of my favourite food groups, one that is often lacking in many diets. Fermented foods!
Fermented foods contain probiotics, the beneficial bacteria that reside in our gastrointestinal tract. Probiotics are a crucial aspect of our gastrointestinal system and fundamental to the health of our entire body.
Probiotics and the influx of beneficial bacteria into our gastrointestinal system has been shown to significantly help with digestive issues including IBS, Crohn’s/colitis, bloating, acid reflux, travellers diarrhea and constipation. Probiotics are also increasingly used to help with mental health both depression and anxiety, as well as the immune system including seasonal allergies.The benefit of including probiotic rich foods is increasingly studied and the expansive health benefits are constantly being explored.
When food ferments, it undergoes a process that converts starch and sugar into lactic acid (alcohols, carbon dioxides, organic acids) using yeasts, bacteria or a combination, within a condition that lacks oxygen. This process also naturally increases the nutritional content of food, specifically vitamins K,A and B. The fermentation process also increase the absorbability of nutrients from food, which is another great way to ensure optimal nutrition from all that you eat! Lastly, fermented foods are quite inexpensive to make and can be the basis of really fun DIY’s!
My Top 5 Favourite Fermented Foods:
Kefir: A fermented milk drink originating from Eastern Europe, made with a bacteria starter of 10-20 different bacteria strains (also known as kefir grains). Kefir is delicious and creamy and contains 3 x the amount of probiotics as yogurt. Although not suitable for those with a milk allergy, the fermentation process digests lactose making this often suitable for those who are lactose intolerant. You can include this as a drink or in a smoothie. Kefir can be found in the yogurt section of the grocery or health food store. You can also try to make your own with this starter or this one.
Sauerkraut/Kimchi: Sauerkraut and kimchi are both fermented cabbage, with different taste profiles and originating from different parts of the world. The reason I have the lumped together is a) because I simply couldn’t decide between the two and b) they are similar to make and often found in the exact same area of the health food store. Both kimchi and sauerkraut are fermented with lactic acid. You can include these as a side to any meal, to top toast or add to a rice bowl. When choosing a sauerkraut or kimchi make sure it is found in the refrigerated section and does not contain sulphites or preservatives. You can also make your own kimchi, or sauerkraut, quite easily!
Kombucha: Kombucha is a probiotic rich drink that uses a yeast starter and ferments to form a bubbly delicious drink. The fun thing about kombucha is that you can find or make so many different flavour combinations. My favourite brands include Brew Dr. Kombucha, GT Kombucha and Vams. Although a bit tricky, you can also try making your own!
Miso: Miso is a traditional Japanese food made of fermented soy. Miso contains roughly 161 strains of bacteria, which compete with E.coli and Staphylococcus bacteria to ward off infection. Make sure that when making miso soup you do not bring to a boil as this kills the live enzymes and lessens the beneficial properties. When looking for a miso make sure it does not include MSG, or any other additives. I love this brand of miso. Looking for a recipe? I love this miso soup recipe from My New Roots or try miso in a dressing!
Tempeh: Tempeh is another fermented soy product, a healthier alternative to tofu. There are many ways you can include tempeh. It is also delicious to add to veggie burgers and also, tempeh bacon is a thing. Tempeh is often found in the soy section of the grocery store or health food store, next to the tofu.
I hope you enjoyed this blog post and learned about the amazing benefits of fermented foods! I hope you try them out and enjoy some fermented goodness in your life, your body will thank you!!