Thursday, April 25, 2013

New Growth

When we are engaged in supporting and strengthening our overall health, we are growing and evolving. I love the spring and summer because the forward momentum of our internal growth is mirrored by the external new growth that surrounds us in our outside environment.  We are supported by and are able to draw upon the energy of the earth at this time of the year to further build the base of our health.  I was excited to find examples of this new growth yesterday.  The top picture is of the spring crocus in the front yard.  The middle picture is of the st john's wort in the front yard.  Both of these plants are perennials and return every year.  And the bottom picture is of the brand new tiny lettuce plants in the back yard!  Thanks to the miracle of self seeding lettuce and raised bed gardens, the lettuce plants come back early every year and thankfully all the snow hasn't deterred them this year!!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Confusion Around Calcium

In the last few years, there have been a few studies that have brought up concern around calcium intake and increased rate of heart disease and death.  An article by Tina Kaczor in the April 2013 edition of Natural Medicine Journal examines the recent Swedish study on long term calcium intake and rates of all cause mortality and cardiovascular mortality.  The Swedish study found that people consuming more than 1400 mg of dietary calcium per day had higher rates of all cause mortality (death due to all causes) and cardiovascular disease mortality (death due to heart disease) compared to people who consumed 600 - 1000 mg of dietary calcium per day.  The same increased rates were seen for women in the study who took a calcium supplement (a standard calcium supplement prescription in Sweden is 500 mg per day) and consumed more than 1400 mg of dietary calcium per day, but were not seen for women in the study who took a calcium supplement and did not consume more than 1400 mg of dietary calcium per day.  The same increased rate of all cause mortality was also seen for people consuming less than 600 mg of dietary calcium per day.  Interestingly, in Sweden, milk consumption (which most people consider their primary source of dietary calcium) is generally high, and still only 2% of the study population were consuming more than 1400 mg of dietary calcium per day.  This gives a good insight into the fact that it is unlikely that most of us are getting more than 1400 mg of dietary calcium per day and that we do not need to feel alarmed by this recent study.  As well, the info from the study did not show any concern around calcium supplementation when the dietary calcium intake was below 1400 mg per day, so for the great majority of us there is no concern around taking a good quality calcium supplement on a daily basis.  The study did show that it is important for us to be aiming for between 600 - 1000 mg of dietary calcium per day, so it is a good idea for each of us to examine our diet to ensure we are within this range. Here are some examples of the amount of calcium found in different foods:  1 cup of milk (including generally both soy and dairy based) = 300 mg, 1 cup dairy based yogurt = 450 mg, 1 cup cooked broccoli = 180 mg, 1 cup raw kale = 55 mg, 1 cup cooked spinach = 240 mg, 1 cup calcium fortified orange juice = 300 mg, 1 cup cooked chickpeas = 80 mg, 4 ounces firm tofu = 250 mg, 1 cup cooked brown rice = 50 mg, 1 ounce almonds = 80 mg, 1 tbsp tahini (sesame seed butter) = 130 mg.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The FODMAP diet

In the January 2013 edition of Naturopathic Doctor News and Review, Christine Doherty discusses fructose intolerance and the FODMAP diet.  Some people have difficulty absorbing fructose in the small intestine.  This is called fructose intolerance and it can cause damage to the villi/lining of the intestine which can lead to nutrient malabsorption and digestive disruption (including gas, bloating discomfort, cramping, diarrhea, constipation, reflux, nausea).  Australian researcher, Dr Sue Shepherd, developed a diet that is low in fructose and related molecules called the FODMAP (which stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, polyols) diet.  People who have celiac disease often have lower tolerance for FODMAP foods and can have continued digestive symptoms even after gluten has been removed from their diet.  People who have lactose intolerance also often have intolerance to the additional FODMAP foods, so they may also have continued digestive symptoms even after lactose has been removed from their diet.  There are 5 categories of FODMAP foods including:  fructose, lactose, fructans, galactans, and polyols.  Some of the FODMAP foods in these categories include:  agave syrup, honey, artificial sweeteners, mango, apple, peas, asparagus, milk, yogurt, soft cheeses, ice cream, wheat, barley, rye, onions, garlic, garlic, broccoli, legumes, coffee, almonds, maltitol, sorbitol, xylitol, avocado, nectarines.  If we have done dietary work and have seen some improvement in our digestive symptoms, but still have continued concerns, it may be worth it to explore the FODMAP diet.  

Monday, April 1, 2013

Change in Rice Milk

I have long used Rice Dream rice milk and for the last several years have bought Rice Dream Original Enriched because it was organic and did not have any sweetener added.  I probably hadn't looked at the carton for the last several months, so I am not sure when this change happened, but when I looked last week, I saw the Original Enriched is no longer organic and they are using a mixture of both white and brown rice!  I was very glum when I discovered this!  There was a food bank drive in our neighborhood this weekend, so I donated the cartons I had stocked up and have now switched over to Natura Rice Original rice milk.  It is organic, uses brown rice and does not have any sweetener added.