Heart and Stroke Foundation says ‘Cut the Crap’

After years of recommending a diet low in saturated fat or salt and suggesting that margarine is a healthy alternative to butter the Heart and Stroke Foundation has finally got it right.

This CBC article pretty much captured it all in the title: “‘Cut the crap,’ get back to nutritional basics, Heart and Stroke Foundation advises”

It’s great to see the news spread about not avoiding specific types of fats or different parts of food, but instead focusing on eating a WHOLE food diet.

What does that mean? It means focusing on the quality of what you’re eating–eating real, unprocessed foods like veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, dairy, eggs, lean meat, chicken and fish.

What’s processed? Sugary drinks, chips, snacks, processed meats, processed sauces, low-fat products, and all the “crap” that is passed off as food.

Some ideas to eat right from the Heart and Stroke Foundation:

  • Cook from scratch at home as much as possible using whole ingredients. (Check out this great video of author Michael Pollan for inspiration)
  • Teach children and young people how to cook.
  • Pay attention to portion sizes.
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet with a variety of natural and whole foods.
  • Eat fewer highly processed foods with many ingredients, additives and preservatives.

Here is a great website of 31 crockpot meals that you can make ahead of time, put in the freezer and take out everyday to have a healthy, home cooked meal–easy, yummy and wholesome. Great for those times when you know the end-of-the-day-I-just-want-to-order-takeout days will overwhelm you!

The Power of Juicing

Today is officially the first day of fall. School is in, summer vacation is over, and for many, thoughts are turning to a shift in habits from a summer of eating and drinking in…well, let’s call it “holiday mode”…to something that feels a little better in the long run.

We have written much in the past about detoxing and its importance to the body. You can read some pieces here, and here. And there is an entire section of our local newspaper article archives devoted to the topic here.

Sometimes, though, a picture is worth a thousand words. Last year, StoneTree Clinic sponsored the Be The Change Film Series documentary “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead”. In the film, author Joe Cross and his journey to wellness through juicing. It’s an amazing story and worth a watch on Netflix or online here.

The What and Why of Juicing

Juicing is the process of extracting the juice from fruits and vegetables. The idea is that a single juice gives you the vitamins, mineral and phytonutrient equivalent of a full day’s servings of fruits and vegetables. Doing this multiple times a day, gives you the benefit of more fruits and vegetables then you can actually physically ever eat in a day.

Why do this?

Most of us have lots of extra energy stores hanging around our body, especially after a summer of drinking beer and eating burgers. Dieting by decreasing calories can work for some, but for others it throws our body into a starvation mode, causing us to never let go of that extra weight.

Vitamins and minerals in our food do many things for us, including helping us use stored fat as an energy source. A juice packed with tons of these little beauties makes our body feel nourished and vibrant and allows those fat stores to be burned more effectively. The increased vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients also support the detoxification of our liver and kidneys, while at the same time supporting our immune and endocrine systems.

This year we have teamed up with Press Juice Co., to make fall cleansing even easier and more delicious. Join Dr. Kendra Reid, this Tuesday, September 21st at Press Juice Co. to try the “StoneTree Juice” and learn about detoxification and juicing!

Another Reason to Eat Whole Food

This summer, the Journal of Nutrition published a study that found that women who ate diets high in proteins had lower blood pressure and less arterial stiffness.

The researchers analyzed the diets of 1900 woman for levels of seven amino acids: arginine, cysteine, glutamic acid, glycine, histidine, leucine and tyrosine. Amino acids are the building blocks for proteins. They also measured the women’s blood pressure and arterial stiffness, both of which are risk factors for heart attack and stroke.

After accounting for established heart risk factors, including family history, sodium intake, body weight and physical activity, they found a couple of interesting things:

  • All seven amino acids, especially those from plant sources, were tied to lower blood pressure, similar to what had been reported in other studies of diet and hypertension.
  • Higher intakes of the amino acids, glutamic acid, leucine and tyrosine, all abundant in animal proteins, were associated with lower levels of arterial stiffness–just as seen in those who don’t smoke.

You can read the Globe and Mail coverage here.

Getting the Right Take Home Message

It would be easy to interpret the results of this study as, “Eat more protein.” But that might be missing the bigger picture. To get it right, we need to start by asking, Why are people protein deficient?

Often, the answer is that many North American diets are protein deficient because  they’re high in sugary drinks and processed carbohydrates. These are very calorie dense, but nutrient deficient.

The women who had diets high in those helpful amino acids were eating “whole foods” like meat, fish, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains and soy to name a few. These foods are nutrient dense, and not only high in amino acids, but also in anti-oxidants, minerals and vitamins. They’re all important for maintaining overall health, and heart health specifically.

Again, we’re returning to the same message: focus on food quality, not quantity. Eating whole food makes it easy to eat lots of great, cardio-protective amino acids. Eating highly processed food makes it easy to consume sugar, salt and additives. Often, the best food you eat is the food you cook.

Check out this great granola recipe to get you started, courtesy of our newsletter archives.

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year….

It’s back to school time! As our little critters leave the house with new pencils and backpacks, parents are breathing a collective sigh of relief. Summer is fun, but the routine of getting back to school can be its own kind of heaven. Summer isn’t always fun and games for families. In an age where children aren’t left to play by themselves, or to wander with their peers in the wood lots and side streets of our communities, it’s the parents who are left with the job of trying to organize an entire summer’s worth of activities. And of course, those activities need to be enriching, active, with a good lunch program and affordable. Even a trip to the cottage can mean organizing friends, and for the most attentive of parents, making sure there are games and crafts, and enough nutritious snacks laid out in appropriately healthy time intervals through the day. The result? Many parents can’t wait for the school bell to ring so the stress of all of it is finally over. Many a mom has spent their visit to the clinic crying and overwhelmed, feeling guilty for their feeling relieved. Thinking they are a bad mom for wanting it to all be over. Reflecting on their own childhood and remembering their own mom “doing it better” without dissolving into a puddle of stress and tears. Perhaps. But from the Clear Conscience Department of StoneTree Clinic, here are a few thoughts to take with you as this first week of school rolls out:

  1. Surprise! Your parents ALSO loved September. Humans love routine and although summer holidays are good times, two months of no routine is not for everyone. Our stress hormones help us adapt to our environment. When we have a good routine, they don’t have to work very hard. When we are out of routine they need to work harder.
  1. Your parents raised you in a different world. One where kids could leave the house and play outside with a posse of friends all day. No crafts and activity planning required. The only thing required was a freezer full of popsicles and the rule of being home before the street lights came on.
  1. Your parents had different social pressures. It was fine for kids to be bored. Staring slack-jawed out the car window for a long drive was normal. Enriching activities to keep reading skills up in the summer weren’t even on the radar. Kids were told to go find something to do, and parents felt far less cultural pressure to entertain.

So give yourself a pat on the back, parents. You made it through! As the school bus pulls away from the curb this week, go back to the house, book a day off just for you if you can. Read a book, book a massage, or just sit alone in the glorious quiet and breathe. Give your stress hormones a break – you deserve it!

NON-stick is NON-safe

More than a decade ago, investigations discovered that perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, a chemical used in the making of Teflon, was linked to birth defects, heart disease, and cancer.

The chemical has been phased out since a 2006 settlement, and no longer produced since 2013. But the chemicals in current “non-stick” cooking products are chemically related and according to recent research, they seem to have the same deleterious health effects.

Last week, research from 2 leading environmental health scientists, Philippe Grandjean of Harvard and Richard Clapp of the University of Massachusetts-Lowell, reported two things. First, the recommended “safe level” for PFOA is likely more then 1000 times higher then it should be to protect health, but more importantly, like lead and asbestos, it is likely not safe at any level.

Non-Sticky in the Pan, But Sticky in the Body

PFOA and its chemically related cousins are biochemically persistent–they stick around and accumulate in the body over time. Half-life in the body is 4-10 years, and there are traces found in the blood of 98% of people tested, in polar bears, and in dolphins in India. This stuff sticks around.

The compound bio-accumulates over time because of the way it is eliminated from the body. Chemicals like PFOA’s leave the body through the bowels. In the liver they are mixed with bile because they are fat-soluble, and this toxic bile mixture, then leaves the body via a bowel movement. The trouble is, on the way out, your body re-absorbs up to 90% of that bile, along with the fat-soluble toxins with it. Bringing it back to the liver to try again.

What Should You Do?

1. Use non-stick cooking alternatives

  • You can find a list of recommendations here.

2. Filter water

  • Use an activated charcoal or reverse osmosis system.

3. Help your body eliminate them

  • Increase fiber in your diet.
  • Supplement with chlorella, which naturally binds bile acids, aiding your body in getting rid of fat-soluble toxins.
  • Colon hydrotherapy stimulates the liver to release bile as well as washing the bile out before it has a chance to be reabsorbed and is a powerful way to rid your body of fat-soluble toxins.

You can read a long and damning history of DuPont’s manufacture of C8, another name for PFOA, here, including details of the lawsuits and cover ups. Tragic.