Eat Your Way to Beautiful Skin

Join Dr. Kendra at Currie’s Farm Market, on Wednesday, July 8th at 7PM, as she explains which foods wreak havoc on skin and which ones are helpful.

From eczema to wrinkles she’ll cover it all! There will be samples of her favorite serums and creams to try, and lots of take-home tips.

See you there!

Other Currie’s Farm Market events this summer:

Aug 5th: Fermented Foods and Your Immune System with Dr. Shelby Worts.

Sept 2nd: Healthy Back to School Eating with Candice Soldaat

Currie’s Farm Market
736 Sixth St, Collingwood, ON L9Y 3Y9
(705) 445-2005

Does Meditation Grow Your Brain?

“You should sit in meditation for 20 mins everyday, unless you’re too busy; then you should sit for an hour.”

            -Zen proverb

When Sara Lazar developed running injuries while training for the Boston Marathon, she, like many people,  went to a physical therapist for help. She was told to stop running and stretch, so she took up yoga.

Unlike most people, however, Lazar was also doing a PHd in molecular biology. When she began to notice that she was calmer, able to handle more stress and was more open-hearted as a result of the yoga, she began to wonder why.

That why took her in a new direction, and Sara is now a neuroscientist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, where she studies the impact of meditation and yoga on the brain and body. And the impact is pretty amazing.

Meditation=More Brain?

Lazar’s research shows that meditators have more grey matter in several areas of the brain, which are involved in functions ranging from focus and learning to memory, empathy and neurotransmitter production.

“We also found they had more gray matter in the frontal cortex, which is associated with working memory and executive decision making.

It’s well-documented that our cortex shrinks as we get older – it’s harder to figure things out and remember things. But in this one region of the prefrontal cortex, 50-year-old meditators had the same amount of gray matter as 25-year-olds.” <1>

In other words, it looks like meditating literally changes your brain. For the better.

Exercise Your Brain

Who doesn’t want the same grey matter they had at 25? Count us in. Perhaps the best part of this, though, is that you don’t need to be monk to get benefit from meditation. Lazar’s study participants showed changes in the brain in just after eight weeks.

How much do you need to do to see a benefit? Lazar isn’t sure, but when it comes to meditation, what do you have to lose? It’s free, and you can start anytime.

If you’re new to meditation, there are resources everywhere—try Headspace for a great, newbie-friendly resource, that includes an app for your phone or tablet.

Can Healthy Eating Go Too Far?

Eating healthy is pretty important to the gang at StoneTree Clinic. If you come into our staff room at any given lunch time, you’ll find big bowls of organic salad greens, vegetarian curries, beautiful pieces of fish, or big jars of fresh pressed juices.

It makes sense–after all, food is medicine. What we eat is a big part of being healthy…and it’s also important that we practice what we preach.

But we’re also real people. In our staff room you’ll also see some chocolate, the odd bag of popcorn, and a sweet treat for a staff birthday. We enjoy these little treats with an afternoon cup of coffee and a couple of good laughs.

It’s a balance – 90% healthy, 10% life, and none of us worry about it.

Orthorexia: Healthy Eating at Unhealthy Levels

Orthorexia, a term originally coined by Dr. Steven Bratman in 1997, is healthy eating taken to potentially unhealthy levels. It generally shows up as the restriction of foods that are perceived as insufficiently clean, healthy, or wholesome. The problem usually starts from a good place–the intention of eating better–but then turns into an obsession about everything that enters the person’s mouth. Is it the right type of food? Are the ingredients healthy enough? Am I eating the right amount at the right time?

Modern media coverage of food and diets has made the whole idea of healthy eating seem overwhelming. Should I eat low fat or low carb? Should I eat six meals a day or three? Should I eat gluten or avoid it? Should I be vegan? Paleo? Is it local, or organic, or “natural”? There are thousands of different books that seem to say a thousand different things, and all of them saying it with confidence that they have the right answer.

What is the right answer? We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Eat foods that nature makes, mostly plants.

Do this 80-90% of the time and in that 10% of the time that you don’t, don’t sweat it. Enjoy it, and move on.

Trust your body to use the 90% good to deal with the 10%’s potential harm. That’s what our biochemistry was made to do.

Understanding Your Heart Attack and Stroke Risk

After cancer, heart disease and stroke are the leading causes of death in Canada. Every 8 or 9 minutes, give or take, someone dies from one of the two.

Certainly, many of those deaths are in older populations. After all, there’s no such thing as ZERO risk. All of us have a risk of having a heart attack or stroke just by being alive, and as we age that risk rises simply because we are growing older.

But age is far from the the only factor.

Calculating Your Risk

There’s been a lot of research into the risk factors for heart disease and stroke. The Framingham Risk Calculator was developed to give you a very good idea of what your risk of having a heart attack or stroke is based on what your risk factors are. If you know your blood pressure and cholesterol numbers, you can calculate your own 10-year risk in 30 seconds right here. (And if you don’t know those numbers, we can help–just ask.)

The Impact of Risk Factors

The information the Calculator asks for are risk factors. High cholesterol, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar increase your risk of a heart attack or stroke over time. To see the impact, let’s check out an example using the Risk Calculator.

  • If you are a 59 year old male, with normal blood pressure, normal cholesterol, were a non–smoker and didn’t have diabetes – basically a pretty healthy guy by those measures–your 10-year risk of having a heart attack or stroke is 4.25%.

Now let’s add some risk factors.

  • Add high blood pressure (a systolic blood pressure of 150), and your risk goes up to 6.47%.
  • Add a high cholesterol to that (total of of 6.2, a good cholesterol of 0.9) and the risk rises to 15.13%.
  • Add smoking to that it goes up to 27.07%.
  • Add diabetes to that it goes up again to a whopping 42.90%!

So if you are a 59 yo male with slightly elevated blood pressure, who smokes, has high cholesterol and diabetes, your risk of having a heart attack or a stroke in the next 10 years is 42.9%. That is a big difference from the 4. 25% of your healthy age match.

That is some scary stuff. But hey–we have great drugs to treat blood pressure and cholesterol and diabetes…don’t we? That will bring the risk down, right?

Well let’s add a blood pressure medication:

Let’s use the example of our 59 year old smoking, diabetic with high blood pressure and high cholesterol. That person’s risk of having a heart attack or stroke in the next 10 years is 42.9%.

  • If he takes a blood pressure medication, his absolute risk reduction of having a heart attack is 0.7% so his risk goes from 42.9 to 42.2%.
  • The same blood pressure medication gives him a 1.3% absolute risk reduction for stroke. So that 42.9% risk turns into a 41.6% risk.

What about the statin drugs?

  • Well our fictitious patient will have a 1.3% risk reduction for heart attack and the 0.4% for stroke. Again, 42.9% risk turns into 41.6% or 42.5% risk respectively.

What about the baby aspirin everyone is taking to stave off heart attacks and strokes?

  • You get an absolute reduction in risk of just 0.06% for heart attack and no reduction for stroke.

Those reductions in risk are pitifully small. And they come at a cost.

To put it in perspecitve, 1666 people need to be treated with aspirin for 1 person not have a heart attack.

And of those same 1666 people, 16 of them will have a gastrointestinal bleed within one year of taking the drug.

(Information taken from Compendium of Therapeutic Choices)

So what is our poor 59 year old, smoking, diabetic with high blood pressure and high cholesterol to do?

First, understand the real risk reduction. If you have a high risk of heart attack or stroke, medication is, on average, barely helping.

Second, don’t let medication stop you from making lifestyle change. If you can take control of your blood sugar and smoking, you can have a huge impact.

  1. Stop smoking
  2. Start eating whole foods and stop eating processed foods.
  3. Exercise daily.

Don’t settle for just the bottle of pills. You can do much better by making lifestyle changes that will ultimately change your overall risk.

Once in a Row

Once in a Row

Little changes are hard to see but they make all the difference.

This statement is true, but it can work for or against you. Healing takes time, and it takes steady work over a lifetime to build and keep great health. But making disease takes time, too–Type II diabetes and cancer and heart disease don’t happen overnight.

Healing or harming, it’s all a long, slow process. And in that time frame lies the problem. Human beings are experiential in nature. We need to feel a cause and effect. And that makes health care—and disease creation—a tricky process, because in most of the things we do everyday, there’s little positive or negative feedback.

Tiny amounts of negative feedback aren’t often “loud” enough to notice, and over years we end up with the wrong kind of momentum. We become like a health Titanic, unable to turn the ship in time to avoid the iceberg of a heart attack, a cancer diagnosis, a kidney failure, or lung disease.

Smoking a single cigarette, or drinking one can of soda might not make a noticeable change for the negative so why not another? Likewise, NOT smoking one or NOT drinking one doesn’t feel much different either.

So one doesn’t really matter, does it?

But of course it does. The little things we choose to do everyday create our habits. And our habits create our long term health. So when you choose once, ask yourself if it’s really once…or once in a row.