Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Truth About Diet Pop

Lisa Kilgour, Registered Holistic Nutritionist, tells us the truth about dietary facts regarding no sugar, artificially sweetened soda (pop), energy drinks, vitamin waters, etc. She explains how studies have shown these "no calorie" beverages tend to be much worse for your health than advertised.

Fit For A King - The Renaissance of Real Food

Credits: Directed by James Blonde. Camera work by James Blonde and Trance Blackman. Edited by Trance Blackman.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Shake The Hand That Feeds You

The fact is in North America, we have the highest rate of diet related diseases: diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. Up to two thirds of premature deaths can be attributed to poor nutrition and physical inactivity! That’s astounding!

As well, in Canada and all of North America, we spend the lowest percentage of our income on groceries and meals (9.9%), we spend the least amount of time preparing the food we eat, and we eat more calories each day; compared to other countries in the developed world. And unsurprisingly, when polled, we have the lowest rate of enjoyment of our diet. We seem to have forgotten to enjoy all of this food we’re eating!

In France, on the other hand, people spend a higher percentage of their income on their diet, they spend more time preparing and enjoying their meals (and usually enjoyed with family and/or friends), and they eat far fewer calories each day compared to North Americans. The most important fact is a very high percentage of people polled had a high enjoyment of their diet.

So…does this mean that the more we eat = the less we enjoy our food?

Not quite. This paradox comes down to our relationship with food. Food is much more than the number of calories we eat, or the grams of carbs or protein we eat each day. The better quality the food you eat, the less you’ll want to eat of it each day. Low quality food (processed and highly manufactured food products) tends to spark a craving for more food. Why? This is mostly because our body is still looking for the nutrients that had been removed through processing. High quality whole foods are very high in nutrients, taste incredible, and are much more satisfying. If you’d like to lose weight, have more energy, AND enjoy what you’re eating – eat a diet high in whole foods.

One of the fastest ways to increase the abundance of fresh, nutritious, whole foods in your diet is to shop at your local farmer’s market. Head to your local Farmer’s Market each week and buy your produce directly from the wonderful farmer who grew it for you. This is the freshest food you can possibly buy. In most cases it was picked that morning and is still warm from the sun. You can “Shake the Hand That Feeds You”.

Growing your own food gives you even fresher food to add to your diet, and you can gain a higher appreciation for the time and effort the growers put into the food that ends up on your table. Even a window box full of herbs will improve your diet immediately. Every time I weed my garden, or find a plant is not quite producing the produce it should, I think about the incredible quality the farmers at the market can produce. A lot of work goes into the food on our plate and a higher appreciation can increase your enjoyment of your meal…and therefore slow you down and reduce the amount that you eat.

Lisa Kilgour, registered holistic nutritionist and co-host for the TV show Fit For A King, visits a local farmers market, talks about and compares North American diets and eating habits, to those of Europeans - specifically France. She encourages you to "shake the hand that feeds you" stressing the importance of buying local, fresh, organic produce.

For more information, visit

Monday, May 30, 2011

Go With Your Gut Feeling

You are 90% bacteria.

Let that sink in for a second... Just think: for every cell in your body, you have 9 cells of bacteria living in and on your body. It can be a little creepy if you think about it too much.

Most of this bacteria is living inside your intestinal tract, otherwise known as your “gut”. The health of this organism is paramount to the health of your body. Why?

80% of your immune system spends most of its time around your gut. The health of your gut bacteria and the health of your immune system are vitally linked. When your gut bacteria is balanced, your immune system is also balanced. But when it’s out of balance, so is your immune system. Signs that your immune system is out of balance are: food and seasonal allergies, chronic inflammation, chronic sinusitis, and colds and flus that linger for weeks.

The highest concentration of brain cells (neurons) outside of your brain is around your gut. Have you ever felt a “gut feeling” about something? Frequently referred to as the “lower brain”, how the neurons surrounding you gut interact with your gut bacteria is becoming more and more apparent in many health issues. The “Gut/Brain Connection” is a major part of mainstream research. Scientists are discovering connections between your gut bacteria and seemingly unrelated neurological issues such as anxiety and autism.

Our North American way of eating hasn’t helped to keep our gut bacteria balanced. Most traditional cultures regularly consume fermented foods like natural yogurt, sauerkraut, and kimchi, which feed the beneficial bacteria in our gut. In North America, however, we tend to do the opposite. Processed food, refined sugar, chlorine, and antibiotics are major causes of a gut bacteria imbalance.

When your digestive system has 75% beneficial bacteria, your body (digestion, immunity, brain) is able to create balance. But when the prevalent bacteria in your gut is “bad” bacteria (bacteria that doesn’t assist us), they allow for an overgrowth of yeast, molds, and fungus in our gut - as well as many digestive symptoms, like bloating, gas, distention, pain, constipation, and diarrhea.

How to Keep Your Gut Bacteria Balanced:
  1. Eat whole, unrefined foods. Remove all refined sugars and grains which feed the “bad” bacteria
  2. Eat naturally fermented foods daily, and take a probiotic supplement. Probiotic supplements contain high amounts of beneficial bacteria - an important part of finding balance.
  3. Understand the causes of your digestive symptoms, and re-balance them. All digestive symptoms are signs that food isn’t being properly broken down and can feed the “bad” bacteria.
Keep your digestive system, immune system, and brain working optimally by keeping your gut bacteria healthy and happy!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Take Control Of Your Allergies!

It would usually happen around this time of the year. I would wake up in the morning and suddenly become a giant ball of mucous. Yes, it was really that attractive :). For most of the spring I would sneeze and sneeze and then have a bit of a break in July...until August hit. Oh, ragweed season. Itchy, watery eyes joined my sore, runny nose for August and most of September. It wasn't a nice way to spend the summer.

All of this ended about 5 years ago when I gained control over my allergies. When our immune systems is overstimulated, it gets confused and stops being able to recognize the difference between a virus/bacteria and pollen/dust...and this causes our immune system to react to things we inhale...things that shouldn't stimulate our immune system. But, when your immune system is balanced and happy, it can tell the difference between pollen and a virus and we can enjoy our spring and summer. How do you balance your immune system? For many of us, it's through food.

Food, specifically undigested protein, looks just like a virus or bacteria and our immune system creates an antibody to it. We see this in life-threatening reactions like anaphylactic shock to nuts or shellfish. We can also have a much quieter, non-life threatening reaction to a food (undigested protein), which can overstimulate our immune system and lead to seasonal allergies, eczema, and many inflammatory conditions. These are usually referred to as food sensitivities. What I've seen over and over again in my practice, is that once we discover the foods that you aren't digesting properly you can gain control over allergies, eczema, and many inflammatory conditions! 

You don't need to suffer this summer, take control of your health today!

6 Weeks to Allergy-Free

Are you tired of spending your summer dealing with allergies? Are you dealing with the horrible itch of eczema? Join me for 6 weeks to discover your food triggers and balance your immune system.

Beginning on May 23rd I will take you through the protocol of discovering your food triggers and balancing your immune system. When you join this online program, you will get:
- The allergy protocol
- Weekly healthy, whole food meal plans and recipes
- Weekly emails full of information and FAQ
- Unlimited email advice and support
- Information on how to continue the program long-term and begin to reverse your food sensitivities*.
*This only includes food sensitivities. True food allergies, ones that stimulate an anaphylactic reaction should be removed from the diet permanently. 

Investment: $100 

Contact me to answer your questions and to register for this program. Space is limited to ensure everyone gets all of the support they need, so register today!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Choose the Sun NOT Sunscreen

It’s almost summer and the sun is shining! Oh, wait…is the sun good for us or should we shy away from it? Or more importantly, should we enjoy the sun with or without sunscreen? 

This is a very, very, VERY controversial topic, and a decision that each of us needs to make individually. There are many factors to consider: Vitamin D absorption, free radical damage, cancer risk, painful sunburns…etc.

Vitamin D Absorption
Article after article in all of the top news sources are exclaiming the benefits of Vitamin D and the hazards of a Vitamin D deficiency. Only a few years ago the only problem with a lack of Vitamin D was a chance of rickets, but we have now linked a Vitamin D deficiency to MS, lowered immune function, and cancer. Vitamin D supplementation has SKYROCKETED over the last few years due to all of these new studies.

The sun is our body’s favourite way of absorbing Vitamin D. 15 minutes in the sun with your arms and face exposed will allow most of us to absorb 10,000 IUs of Vitamin D (check your supplement, you’re probably only getting 1000 IUs). A sunscreen with an SPF of 8 or above reduces our Vitamin D absorption by 95%. So, if we wear sunscreen daily, it would take 3 ½ – 5 hours of sun exposure to absorb the same amount of Vitamin D. I think it’s quite obvious that the push from the media to slather on the sunscreen has created a societal deficiency in Vitamin D.

Actually, this has been seen in Australia as well. Recent studies found that those who followed the successful "Slip-Slop-Slap" health campaign encouraging Australians to cover up when exposed to sunlight to prevent skin cancer, had an increased risk of Vitamin D deficiency. And ironically, a Vitamin D deficiency is linked to a higher risk of many cancers, including melanoma.

Free Radical Damage
Sunburn is a sign of free radical damage…and for many of us it’s a very painful sign. Free radical damage can lead to early aging of the skin and possibly skin cancer, which is the main reason we wear sunscreen and why it’s in most cosmetics. BUT! What is usually forgotten is the free radical damage created by the very sunscreens we wear to prevent free radical damage!

A study published in October 2006 found that the three main sunscreen ingredients, octocrylene, octylmethoxycinnamate, and benzophenone-3 (once the sunscreen chemicals had time to absorb into the skin) create an increase in free radical damage which was higher for the sunscreen user than for the non-user. Such an increase in free radicals might increase the chance of melanoma.

Cancer Risk
This topic is still out for debate – do sunscreens prevent more cancers than they may directly, or indirectly cause?

A Vitamin D deficiency can be solved by taking a supplement, although absorption through the skin is best, but what about the other issues with sunscreen?

On top of the free radical damage caused by some of these chemicals, an uncommon nugget of knowledge is that many sunscreen ingredients become carcinogenic when exposed to sunlight (what?). Yup, many of the sunscreens on the market contain chemicals that once you slap it on and go outside, start to degrade and damage DNA. In North America, all new sunscreen ingredients must be tested for their photocarcinogenic effects, but as of 2008, most sunscreens on the market still contained known photocarcinogenic chemicals due to a grandfather clause.

Since 1% - 10% of the chemicals in sunscreen are absorbed into the skin, we need to take a very careful look at what we slather onto our skin. To add fuel to the controversy, in August 2007 the United States Food and Drug Administration tentatively concluded, "The available evidence fails to show that sunscreen use alone prevents skin cancer.” what do I do?
  1. Protect Yourself - Slowly work up your body’s own protection to the sun, a tan. Slowly work up the amount of time you spend in the sun until you have the protection you need.
  2. Internal Sunscreen – Fight against free radical damage (either from the sun or from your sunscreen) with antioxidants. These are found in the skins of colourful berries, fruits, and vegetables. Before going outside have a big, colourful salad or a blueberry smoothie
  3. Vitamin D – If you’re concerned about your Vitamin D status, get a blood test from your doctor. Since it’s a fat-soluble vitamin, you can create toxic levels when supplementing. Interestingly, that won’t happen by absorbing it through your skin. Once your body has created enough Vitamin D from the sun, your skin will use the sun to destroy any excess. I love our body’s self regulating mechanisms :).
  4. Look at the ingredients – If you feel you need sunscreen (otherwise you’ll get a very painful burn), be sure to read the ingredients. Go to the Environmental Working Group’s website for a list of sunscreens they have tested to be safe and free of known carcinogens.
The most important thing to remember this summer is – Get OUTSIDE! Go outside and enjoy the summer while it’s still here!

Monday, January 3, 2011

There Are Pigs in My Yogurt - What?!

Yup, you heard it correctly - there may be swine bacteria in that yogurt you're enjoying! But, don't get me wrong, yogurt can be incredibly healthy. Knowing what is healthy and what isn't is the question.

Yogurt can be very confusing! This is mostly because the mass marketing of yogurt products have made it confusing. All yogurt is made with good bacteria (probiotics) and the good quality yogurts still have the probiotics in them when they're on the grocery store shelves. The problem is with the over processed yogurts.

Highly processed yogurts (low-fat, high in sugar) kill off the probiotics in their high heat processing. But, good bacteria is important so they needed to fix that. What they did was they found a probiotic that can withstand the high heat of processing...and they found it in pigs. This was a few years ago... remember how the media was suddenly all over probiotics and their health benefits? They've always been healthy and an important part of a healthy digestive system, but I find it interesting that it didn't hit the media until the big food manufacturers were able to patent specific strains.

Now things get interesting..."Bifidus Regularis", the bacteria promoted in a certain popular yogurt that promotes regularity, used to be called "Bifidus Animalis" - and it's swine bacteria. Does it help with regularity in the short-term? Possibly, I've heard some good things. Does that help our digestive system in the longterm? We don't know, we've never had swine bacteria in our yogurt before. As well, Danone was just sued for incorrect marketing, specifically for promoting their patented probiotic strains as being more beneficial than they've been proven to be.

And to top it all off, they remove all of the blood sugar balancing fat and piled in tons of high-fructose corn syrup. Exactly what studies have found to raise cholesterol and increase arterial damage. Not exactly the health food they promote it to be.

It's not all bad news, there are still very healthy yogurts on the market. The problem is they don't have the best shelf space (that costs a pretty penny). When you're at the yogurt section of your favourite grocery store, look up or down. They'll be on the very top row, or in a corner at the bottom. They'll be unsweetened (sweeten it yourself with honey and/or berries) and have at least 5% fat. The best yogurts are made with unhomogenized whole milk, although these yogurts have become very hard to find. 

Most importantly, the best yogurts have "active bacteria cultures" in the ingredients but don't scream "I have probiotics!" on the label. If a yogurt just says "bacteria culture" in the ingredients then it had it, but it was killed off in the high-heat of processing. The ones who advertise they contain specific probiotic strains usually contain some form of patented swine bacteria (yummy!). 

We have 4 - 10 times more cells of bacteria in our gut than cells in our body! This organism is very important to our overall health and an imbalanced gut bacteria (too few good guys, too many bad guys) can lead to digestive issues (including IBS, Crohn's, and colitis) and immune system irregularities (allergies, etc). Take care of your gut bacteria by removing refined sugars and refined grains from your diet, supplementing with probiotic supplements (necessary to rebalance an imbalance), and eating fermented foods daily like healthy yogurts, sauerkraut, and miso.

Don't stop eating yogurt just because it's been invaded by swine, simply choose differently and read the labels! Remember to look for: Active bacteria cultures in the ingredients, at least 5% fat (fat won't make you fat ), and no added sugar. 

Monday, December 20, 2010

From Bears to Sugar - How to Stay Healthy This Winter

At this time of the year I'm asked the same question over and over again - How do I stay healthy this winter? My answer -  trust your body. Why? Because, when we give our body everything it needs, your immune system can fight any virus that comes around. Seems too simple, right?

We all know how important our immune system is to our overall health. Everyday it's searching our body for viruses, bacteria, and anything else that doesn't belong there. Like our digestive system, our immune system functions best when we're happy and relaxed. If you're stressed, how well is your immune system working? Think about it...if there was a bear chasing you, how much would your body really care about fighting a virus? It would be a pretty low priority compared to your immediate survival. This is how your body reacts to a virus when you are stressed about anything (otherwise known as fight or flight :).

When you're stressed your body doesn't care about your long-term survival. 
You're either stressed OR you're fighting off a cold or flu.

Our immune system has "guards" set up in our throat to signal the arrival and trap any viruses or bacteria that are attempting entry. These guards are our tonsils and adenoids. Put your hand up if you have had your tonsils and/or adenoids removed....yup, that's what I thought. Many of us will have our hands up as this was a very routine procedure until fairly recently. As well, our immune system has its own super highway (the lymphatic system) to move immune cells throughout the body. This amazing super highway is large but doesn't have a central pump (like the heart). It moves when you move. When you're moving around your lymph is moving around as well. It's one of the many reasons why regular exercise keeps your immune system strong!

What can you do to help your body fight off any infection that comes your way? Here are some simple steps you can take:
1. Reduce Stress - you're either stressed OR you're fighting off that bug! So stressing about getting sick is very counterproductive :)
2. Remove White Sugar - completely and totally. Studies have found that a moderate intake of refined sugar will suppress the immune system for up to 5 hours! FIVE hours! Yikes!
3. Identify Food Sensitivities - Food sensitivities can overwhelm the immune system and may allow things it should be fighting (viruses and bacteria) through its defenses.
4. Exercise - Keep your lymph moving!
5. Garlic - Its a great way to keep vampires away and its a potent anti-viral and anti-bacterial...when raw. If you're worried about the smell, simply feed everyone in your household raw garlic. Believe me, no one will notice :)

Remember, your body knows how to fight off anything that comes around. If you do come down with a cold or a flu this winter, rest, drink lots of water, and stay far, far away from white sugar. You'll be better in no time - and now your body has natural anti-bodies to that virus :).

And as always, feed your body with real food. Eat More Real Food (sound familiar :)