Get Cultured! The Basics of Fermented Food

Fermentation dates back thousands of years, and it’s present in the diet of almost every culture on earth. From kimchi in Korea and sauerkraut in Germeny, to kefir in Bulgaria, fermented food is surprisingly omnipresent. Even familiar foods you might find in any “average” North American home like like cheese, yoghurt, pickles and wine are fermented.

Our ancestors used fermenting to preserve food and neturalize toxins, but the process also had an enormous positive impact on our health.

Our “gut flora” is made up of hundreds of different types of good bacteria. These little critters are responsible for helping our immune system stay strong, providing us with the important vitamin K, and helping with detoxification. Fermented foods are filled with probiotics (beneficial bacteria), in amounts many times greater then any supplement you could take.

Join Naturopath Doctor Shelby Worts at Currie’s Farm Market here in Collingwood on Wednesday, August 5th, at 7PM for a fermented food workshop. You’ll learn two basic fermented food recipes, and discover how these foods improve your digestion, immunity and bone density, and help create a flatter belly!

Lyme Disease FAQ

Hardly a day passes where we don’t see a story about Lyme disease posted on Google Health News. From the latest celebrity afflicted, to increased prevalence, the disease is getting increasing attention. We’ve been getting a lot of questions lately and our patients are wondering if the risks are real, and what they should do.

What is lyme disease?

Lyme disease is caused by borrelia burgdorferi, a parasite that lives in deer and is spread to humans by ticks. A tick can bite an infected deer, and pass the infection to humans.

What are the symptoms?

The most common symptoms of Lyme disease are fever, chills, extreme fatigue, headahces and/or a rash (often resembling a bull’s eye or circular rash). This rash is seen in 60 to 70 per cent of cases. Click here for some examples of the rash.

What do I do if I’ve been bitten by a tick?

If you have been bitten by a tick, remove it carefully and bring it to your doctor or local health unit. If you experience any of the above symptoms go immediately to the doctor to be tested and treated with antibiotics. In most cases, the tick needs to be attached for 36-48 hours to spread the disease.

How do I get tested?

The trouble with Lyme disease is that current testing through the ELISA method here in Ontario is not 100% reliable and can lead false negatives. That means people with Lyme can often go undiagnosed for months. More accurate testing is available through private labs in the US if this is suspected.

What should I do about it?

Although the incidence of Lyme disease in Ontario is still very low, it is rising. You can read the official numbers tracked by the government here. But that shouldn’t stop you from continuing to enjoy the beautiful outdoors and our awesome natural spaces. Just inspect your body for any ticks, remove them properly and shower.

For more detailed information about Lyme disease check out The Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation.

The Critical Importance of Play

It’s summer! School is out, and from the last bell kids have ten whole weeks of active summer fun ahead of them!

Or do they? In the 2015 ParticipACTION report, Canadian kids received a D- for the third year in a row. This means that most kids do not meet the healthy requirement for physical activity.

According to the report, the biggest reason is that parents are hesitant to allow kids to partake in “free play”.

Free play is what psychologist Dr. Peter Grey, a researcher on the evolutionary function of play, calls play that is completely self-directed by the child, usually outdoors. You can find his TED talk here, and while what follows is taken from his presentation, I highly recommend you watch it.

Play is More Than You Think

Play isn’t just messing around. It’s not just being frivolous or irresponsible. Play is present in the young of all mammals, and the bigger the brain in a species, the more that species will play. We big-brained humans play the most.

But our play has been declining for decades. School in the 1950’s was five weeks shorter than it is now, and we had two thirty minute recesses and a full hour lunch. Homework in elementary school was almost non-existent, and there was little in high school. Summers were far more “free-range” with less organized sports and camps. Play was self-directed with minimal adult intervention.

Not so now, and that’s a problem. According to Dr. Grey, play is necessary to maintain fit bodies, and learn physical and social skills. Riskier play helps children learn to face fear and be brave, and perhaps more importantly, allows them to learn to assess risk properly.

Play is where children learn that they are in control of their own lives. It’s where they experience joy, learn to get along with others, and develop creativity and innovation. It’s how we, as a species, learn the critical skills of working together. Play, in other words, is serious business.

School is Not Play

Over the years, we’ve adopted an increasingly “schoolish” view of human development, assuming that an adult-delivered, structured education is the best, and all that’s required. To make things worse, we’ve become irrationally afraid of the dangers in the outside world. And the more we keep our kids indoors, the less “fun” the outdoors becomes—for the kid who does venture outside, there is simple less play to be had.

The result? Over the last 50-60 years, as play has been declining, problems have been rising. Depression and anxiety in kids have risen, as has suicide. Narcissism has increased, while the sense of control kids have in their life has declined.

To drive that home, here are a couple of compelling examples: Kids are more depressed today than they were during the Great Depression, and more anxious than they were during the Cold War. 

Is that all because of play? No one knows for sure, but Grey argues that the problems we’re seeing in kids are exactly what we’d expect, based on lab studies of other mammals, if you take away play.

What can you do?

Summer’s here, and it’s prime play time. So what do you do? Here are a few tips.

  • Recognize it the value of play, and make it a daily priority.
  • Get to know your neighbors so that can feel your neighborhood is a safe place.
  • Force your kids off screens and outdoors.
  • Be brave enough to stand up against more school. Kids might need better school, but they don’t need more.

Summer goes so fast. Don’t forget the value of play for your kids!

What 100 Years Old Can Look Like

We simply love this news clip about Dr. Ellsworth-Wareham. The 100-year-old retired heart surgeon still drives, mows the long and actually did surgery until he was 95!

What does he owe his longevity too?

According to the doctor, it’s eating plant-based diet, letting go of undo stress and making a contribution. What he didn’t mention but also does is exercise daily and maintain great relationships with others.

Can living a long and healthy life really be that simple? Dr. Ellsworth-Wareham is only one story, but research into other centenarians seems to point to the same things.

The problem, of course, is that as we age, many of these things fall by the wayside.  We eat lousy food on the run because we are too busy. We drink coffee or wine instead of water. We forgo exercise because we’re too tired from working at a job that we’re desperately trying to retire from. We spend too much time at the office, too little time with our loved ones and too much time in front of a TV.

It’s no wonder we fear aging—under those circumstances, our old age isn’t going to look like his.

So what do you do now to follow in his footsteps?

  1. Eat lots of plants. Build your meals around vegetables first.
  2. Continue to contribute for your whole life – work, volunteer, create.
  3. Take it easy. If you plan to contribute until you are 95, you don’t need to make all your money now. Take your time, take your holidays and breathe.
  4. Move your body everyday, outside. Everyone has 30 minutes and you can get your 10,000 steps.