Although traditionally we think of women when we talk about cosmetics and bathroom products, but men use a handful as well. Shaving cream, aftershave, moisturizer, deodorant, shampoo can usually be found in any man’s bathroom. But what’s actually in those products? Are you lathering your face in toxins every morning? The average Canadian uses 15 personal products with 100 different toxins in the morning. So for the majority of men out there, the answer is yes, you are covering your face and body in harmful creams that have been linked to cancer, fertility issues, hormonal problems and allergies. Fortunately, the Environmental Defense and the Environmental Working Group have done their research to help navigate this world of men’s ‘cosmetics’.

Let’s focus on 2 toxins in particular; triclosan and phthalates.

 

Triclosan

Found in deodorants, antiperspirants, cleansers, and hand sanitizers. Also found around the house lining garbage bags, kitchen utensils, laundry detergents, facial tissues and most products labelled ‘anti-bacterial’.

The health effects of triclosan are considered to be endocrine disruption, having a direct effect on your hormones, specifically on your thyroid. Where a small exposure to triclosan may not be harmful, we exposure ourselves to hundreds of triclosan containing products each day!

First manufactured in the 1960’s, triclosan was used then used in surgical scrub kits in the 70’s due to its antimicrobial properties. From there, industry started to add it to all sorts of products before much thought was given to potential health effects.

In August 2009, the Canadian Medical Association asked the Canadian government to ban triclosan use in household products in fear of its potential role in increasing the number of ‘super bugs’ or antibiotic resistant bacteria. In June of 2014, Minnesota officially banned the use of triclosan in antibacterial soaps. Since then, Proctor & Gamble and Johnson & Johnson have publicly announced that they will stop using triclosan.

Although these actions are steps in the right direction, the problem is also that triclosan easily bio-accumulates – builds up in the environment – since it does not readily breakdown or decompose.

How do you avoid such a ubiquitous compound? Read your labels, be informed, shop wisely. For an anti-bacterial effect, use soap and water – studies says it’s just as good at killing bugs.

 

 

Phthalates – pronounced ‘f-thay-lates’

Smell pretty? It could be the phthalates. These man-made chemicals are endocrine disruptors found primarily in scented products and are linked to asthma, and reproductive system problems. In 2008 the Journal of Andrology released a study that found that the average American male had sufficient levels of phthalates in his bloodstream to lower his testosterone levels. Low testosterone is linked with poor muscle tone and low sperm quality. Sounds good, eh? If your shaving cream or body wash smells good and ‘perfum’ or ‘fragrance’ is listed as an ingredient than beware.

Gradually phthalates are being phased out of use in Canada however always read labels carefully since dibutyl phthalate, DEHP and DEP and also phthalates. In doubt? Call the manufacturer.

In addition, this group of chemicals is widely used as a plasticizer to soften plastics such as in your fun plastic shower curtain. Persistent in the environment, phthalates are found in household dust particles, drinking water and fatty tissues (both in the meat you eat and in your body).

Curious about where else to find phthalates and their health effects, Wikipedia has some good info to get you rolling.

 

 

The bottom line, you can’t avoid phthalates or triclosans since they are now contaminating our environment. But you can make smart choices in the pharmacy, grocery store and each morning when you walk into the bathroom.

 

For a more complete list of toxins in your personal care products and a great pocket guide to download, check out the Personal Care Products Pocket Shopping Guide

 

 

For more info check these link out:

How to Get A Green Shave: http://environmentaldefence.ca/blog/tip-month-men-here%E2%80%99s-how-get-nice-green-shave

Skin Deep Cosmetics Database http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/search.php?query=titanium+dioxide&h=Search

 

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Top 3 Nutrients Every Man Needs

Short version?

Tomatoes from the garden
+  Oysters for Happy Hour
+  Salmon grilled on the bbq
= One happy (healthy) man.tomato, fish oil, pumpkin seed

 

Maximize health and minimize the work? Sounds like a plan! While tips and tricks for exercise, nutrition and stress reduction are all over the web, let’s boil it down something you (or your male friend) can easily grab onto.

 

Lycopene
An anti-oxidant that gives fruits and vegetables a red colouring. Tomatoes are one great source that most of us Canadians have in our gardens.  Anti-oxidants reduce oxidative damage that naturally occurs in all our cells as we age.  To super charge your overall diet, men and women should increase the colour and brightness of their foods – choose fresh local fruits and veggies of all colours.

Although research on the positive effects of lycopene and prostate cancer are mixed, most studies agree that for men with a family history of prostate cancer, having lycopene in foods regularly will reduce the risk of developing this men’s cancer.

 

Zinc
Practically a wonder drug, zinc does it alloyster-on-ice – supports hair growth, improves testosterone levels, boosts immune system health, supercharges sperm and refines taste buds.  An essential element at the cellular level, zinc-based receptors allow your cells to grab testosterone and transmit the hormone message, including producing more testosterone. This ‘manly’ hormone allows both men and women to more readily build and maintain muscle mass. Looking for easy to eat zinc sources? Raw pumpkin seeds, oysters, lean beef – enjoy!

Often used in fertility treatment, zinc is required for sperm production and semen formation.  You can easily have your functional zinc levels tested with your naturopathic doctor with a simple in-office test.

 

Omega-3 essential fatty acids… (aka fish oils)
The Standard North American Diet, firmly rooted in animal meats, processed foods and few fresh vegetables  (this is not a good thing), leads to a low omega-3 fatty acid level and a high omega-6 level.  Corn is the primary source of omega-6 fats and most of our animals that we eat for dinner have themselves been fed of corn products. Remember the adage ‘You are what you eat’, well that includes what your dinner ate.  Indeed over the last 40 years, omega-6 consumption has sky-rocketed 250% while omega-3 levels have fallen 40%. This imbalance is problematic to good cardiovascular health, cholesterol levels and blood pressure.

Where enjoying fish at least once per week in your diet along with nuts, seeds and avocados is a great basis for increasing omega-3s, most adult men need to look into a quality omega-3 supplement.  Supplementation with these healthful fats has been shown to reduce triglycerides and increase HDL-cholesterol (the good kind) therefore improving your cholesterol profile leading to a reduction in risk of cardiovascular incidents.

The frustrating thing is that not all supplements are made the same and this is especially true of fish oils. As a general rule consult with your naturopathic doctor to get the right dose for you and shop where professional brands are sold such as your NDs office or health food store. In Ottawa?  Ask your ND or visit reputable places such as NutriChem Pharmacy, Watson’s Pharmacy, Mother Hubbards or the Natural Food Pantry.
Want to really get more out of your body? Visit your naturopathic doctor to maximize your health, energy and stamina. Life is short, so take advantage now – and tomorrow!

Breast Self-Exam

 

Nearly 80% of most breast problems are found through self-examination – so don’t delay, learn this skill!   Breasts are pretty amazing – they changes throughout the menstrual cycle and our lives. Breast self-exams should be practiced at the same time each month. If you menstruate, do it two or three days after the end of your period, when your breasts are least likely to be tender or swollen. If you are not menstruating then pick a date on the calendar and stick to it each month.

If you find anything unusual or suspicious, or have any questions, report it to your naturopathic doctor of family immediately.

 

The How-To:

Breast self massage - standing

Stand before a mirror. Inspect both breasts for anything unusual, such as discharge from the nipples, rash or puckering, dimpling, or scaling of the skin.

The next two steps are designed to emphasize any changes in the shape or contour of your breasts.

Watching closely in the mirror, clasp your hands behind your head and press hands forward.

Next, press hands firmly on hips and bow slightly toward the mirror as you pull your shoulders and elbows forward.

 

Raise your left arm. Use three or four fingers of your right hand to explore your left breast firmly, carefully, and thoroughly feeling for any unusual lump or mass under the skin. Beginning at the outer edge, press the flat part of your fingers in small circles, moving the circles slowly around the breast. Pay special attention to the tail of the breast – the area between the breast and armpit. Repeat this for the right breast using your left hand. Hint: Some women like to do this part of the exam in the shower. Fingers glide over soapy skin, making it easier to feel textures.

Gently squeeze each nipple and look for a discharge. If you have any unexplained discharge, inform your practitioner.

breast_self_exam supineRepeat previous steps lying flat on your back with your arm over your head and a pillow or folded towel under your shoulder.

 

 

 

 

Images courtesy of BreastCancer.org

 

The change of season from winter to spring is the ideal time to detoxify.  During the winter months your body has accumulated toxins due to immune challenges, poor diet choices and the mental/emotional as well as physical stresses of the long cold season.

Following this daily nutrition regime for 14 days will result in the safe and gentle assistance of  your liver to process the toxins as well support your urinary tract, lymphatic system and gastrointestinal tract in the elimination of the toxins.

1)  Start your morning with a nutrient dense smoothie that includes: 15 grams of a high quality rice, hemp or pea protein powder, 1/2 cup almond or rice milk, 1 banana, 1/2 cup blueberries and a large handful of spinach or kale.  For added support include 1 tbsp of coconut oil and 1 tbsp of ground flax seeds.

2) Mid morning choose a piece of organic fruit and 10 almonds or 1 tbsp of almond butter.

3) Lunch includes a protein like beans and lentils, organic chicken or turkey  or wild game like bison or elk served with brown rice, quinoa or sweet potatoes and an abundance of vegetables.  This can be served in a variety of ways for example cold as a salad with an oil based salad dressing or warm as a stir fry seasoned with garlic and ginger.

4) Mid afternoon choose raw vegetables like carrots, peppers or celery and 3 tbsp of hummus.

5) Dinner is similar to lunch.  To keep things interesting make soups or stews that follow the same guidelines of a protein, gluten free grain and lots of veggies.  Also ensure that you add healthy fats to each meal like avocado, roasted nuts and seeds, goat cheese and/or different salad dressings and sauces.

6) If you are hungry at night choose a brown rice cake with almond or cashew butter and honey.

7) Finally drink at least 2 liters of water and replace coffee with green tea.

For an advanced detoxification program please contact one of the Naturopathic doctors at Naturally well who will be able to assess your level of toxicity and provide a specific and individualized protocol.

 

 

Blended soups are an easy way to get in loads of healthy veggies (and sneak in a couple of veggies which your kids may not otherwise be inclined to eat!). They are very flexible, and a great way to throw in extra veggies that may be hanging around in the fridge. And, because they’ll be blended you can really rough chop your veggies which makes for easy prep. Best of all they are delicious and warming… perfect on these cold winter days!

The basics for starting a blended vegetable soup;

Warm approximately 2-3 Tbsp olive oil or 2Tbsp coconut oil in pot

Add roughly chopped onion (I like sweet onion, but any onion will do) and saute until starting to soften

Add chopped garlic (I love garlic, so this looks like 5-6 cloves for me, but if you are a more moderate garlic lover 2-3 cloves will do)

Add celery (preferably organic, rough chopped, 1-3 stalks), saute for an additional few minutes

If you’re adding dry herbs (ie.Italian herbs) or bay leaves, they can be added at this point.

This is the beginning basics of your soup. If desired, you can saute additional veggies with these or add your additional veggies in with your broth.

Next step is to add broth (preferably homemade chicken or vegetable broth, or organic broth available at the grocery store). One liter of broth is generally sufficient, and you can add extra water if needed for desired thickness of soup.

Add veggies of choice… I love broccoli and zucchini… or cauliflower and leeks…or carrot and sweet potato (for a sweeter soup! If desired you can also add some fresh grated ginger and a chopped apple or pear to the carrot and sweet potato soup)…or all of these veggies together!…any leftover beets in the fridge? Toss those in too!

Simmer your veggies until tender.

Now it’s time to add your greens and whatever herbs you desire… these require only a minute or so to soften… any combination of organic spinach, kale or bok choy greens (the white of the boy choy would have to go in to the pot a couple of minutes earlier) plus fresh parsley or cilantro.

Once those last greens have softened, blend with a stainless steel hand blender or transfer to a glass or BPA free and heat safe blender for blending (you may want to let it cool slightly before transferring to the blender…and be careful because it’s hot!). Blend to desired consistency. Transfer back to the pot, or immediately into serving bowls. Top with a sprig of parsley or cilantro if desired. If you enjoy a spicy soup you can add a little cayenne pepper at the end or saute chopped (and seeded) spicy peppers with your onions and garlic. Looking for a little protein.. top with goat feta, stir in a nut or seed butter, blend in cooked red lentils (or add rinsed red lentils to broth and simmer until softened with the other vegetables). Add sea salt and black pepper if desired.

Enjoy!

As school is upon us, it’s important to think about school lunches and the best ways to make sure your child is healthy and robust for the school year.  For parents, it means stressing over planning school lunches that are healthy and that your child will eat and enjoy, getting them to the bus on time, and worrying about the colds and flus that are knocking at your doorstep.  Though it’s easy to put prepackaged foods into a lunchbox, with the tips below, you can make simple and easy to prepare lunches that with have your children going all afternoon and looking forward to their next lunch.

Here are a few tips you can follow to ensure your child is enjoying the most nutrient dense foods optimal for growth, brain function and overall wellness, while boosting their immune system in the process.

7 Tips for Lunches

  1. Invest in sturdy, reusable containers for less waste
  2. Get a good thermos and lunch size cooler or cooler bag to keep things hot and cold.  Make sure thermoses and water bottles are BPA free and stainless steel.  Be sure to remind your child of the importance of staying hydrated and drinking water throughout the day! Find out the top 5 BPA-free Water Bottles for kids.
  3. Let kids help plan their own lunches to be sure they will enjoy what’s in it
  4. Substitute Organic Sunbutter (from sunflower seeds) or Pumpkin seed butter if your child is in a nut free classroom (please ensure that seeds are allowed). They taste just as good, but are allergy friendly.
  5. Stay away from processed and pre-packaged foods.  Deli meats are a no-no.  Always opt for fresh meat, and nothing frozen.Pack a treat – Even if it’s bite-sized or an encouraging note or stickers. It’s hard work being gluten or dairy free, and eating healthy when other kids around you are eating chips and fruit roll ups.  Add dates and honey to gluten-free and dairy free cookie recipes for a nice snack.
  6. Talk to your child and child’s teacher/ school about food allergies that your child may have or about food allergies in his/her classroom… most schools are at least nut free, but there may be children with allergies to sesame, eggs or other foods. Remind kids not to trade any food with friends and not to try anything from anyone else and the importance of washing hands and being extremely careful about food allergies.

Delicious Substitutions

Gluten free?  Try the varieties of gluten-free breads and wraps for your child’s sandwiches.  As an alternative to a sandwich, leftover rice pasta is always a good option.   Dairy free? Try Coconut, Rice milk instead of Cow’s Milk.  You can even purchase Dairy free Yogurts made from Soy and Coconut.  With younger children, always try mixing their Cow’s Milk with the Substitute first, before weaning entirely off of the Cow’s Milk so they can adjust to the taste difference.  Nut/Peanut free?  Try Sunbutter  or other seed butters if you can’t use peanuts – seeds/ seed butters are also a great way to add protein and healthy fat to homemade snacks.  Sugar free? Try fresh fruit juices or adding water to a cranberry concentrate with honey.

Main meal ideas

  • Gluten free sandwich or pita with turkey, greens, and avocado
  • Leftover brown rice pasta with your choice of protein (beef, chicken, tofu) and tomato sauce with green peppers
  • Warm turkey or chicken stew
  • Chili with veggies and beans
  • Sweet potato and chicken breast
  • Bean salads.  Black beans with cucumber and corn are a kid favourite!
  • Quinoa salad. Be sure to include additional protein (chicken, pumpkin seeds etc) and your child’s favourite veggies!
  • Spinach or cucumber salad topped with apples and sunflower seeds

Snack Ideas

  • Vegetables, Mary’s crackers (contain sesame, be sure this is allowed in your child’s classroom) and hummus (contain sesame)
  • Vegetables, crackers and homemade guacamole
  • Apples and seed butter or goat cheddar
  • Boiled egg
  • A healthy Trail mix which could include some or all of the following: nut-free granola, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, raisins, goji berries, dried cranberries and blueberries, unsweetened coconut, raw cacao nibs.
  • Homemade gluten-free (or allowed grain) muffins or Sunbutter cookies (substitute coconut flour or gluten-free flour mix if desired)
  • Homemade gluten-free (or allowed grain) cookies with oats, seeds and dates.  Use coconut oil instead of butter.

Happy school year and happy eating!

Image

 

6831216930_54b6acd3a7While I do believe strongly in the importance of an annual or bi-annual whole body detoxification program in order to maintain optimal health and prevent disease, there are few simple things you can do daily all year round to support your liver and keep your colon healthy.

1) Squeeze 1/4 lemon into 250 ml warm water, add a pinch of cayenne pepper and 1/4 tsp maple syrup.  Drink 15 minutes before breakfast to jump start your metabolism, support the liver detoxification pathways and decrease inflammation.

2) Add 2 tbsp of ground flax seed to your morning breakfast.  Ground flax seeds act as bulking agent and assist in removing toxins through your bowel movements.

3) Include 5 tbsp of kefir (a fermented milk source) to your daily diet.  Kefir yields an extremely high amount of probiotic, up to 5 billion per tbsp.  Probiotics are an essential component in maintaining healthy gut flora and are required for effective elimination, immune health and detoxification.

4) Start each day with a nutrient rich smoothie with ingredients like frozen blueberries, banana, almond milk, rice or hemp based protein powders.  For additional benefits include greens like spinach and kale.  This is a great way for you to get powerful antioxidants, fibre as well as assist in the balancing of your blood sugar levels.

5) Finally, practice contrast showering.  This involves cycling through hot and cold temperature changes during your shower, always ending with a cold.  This will stimulate metabolism and promote healthy circulation and lymphatic drainage.

To learn more about daily detoxification practices or to discuss a more extensive and advanced program contact a Naturopathic doctor at Naturally Well who will offer effective and supportive information that is individualized to your needs.

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