Protein Powders: What You Need to Know

In recent weeks, there has been some coverage in the media around toxins in protein powder products.

The “Clean Label Project,” a non-profit organization in the United States, recently published findings on protein powders in the US market.

This organization, which is focused on health and transparency in consumer product labeling with respect to environmental contaminants, uses state of the art laboratory testing to determine contaminant levels in various consumer products. They use a 5-star system to rate the level of contamination: 5 stars means clean, 1 star…not so much.

Protein Powder Findings

Vegan protein powders had higher levels of contamination of heavy metals and other toxins then animal based ones. The most shocking finding was that the heavy metal contamination was just as high, or sometimes higher in organic vegan powders.

The best performers? Whey protein powders. This is an option that many of our patients might avoid because whey comes from milk, but many people with a dairy intolerance will do just fine with an isolated whey protein powder. Another upside is that it helps us make glutathione, a powerful anti-oxidant and detoxifier in our bodies.

Why Use Protein Powders at All?

This is a very good question, and many nutritionally-focused practitioners do not recommend them, instead wanting people to focus on eating whole food sources of protein. This is advice that is hard to argue with. Whole foods not only have protein, but fiber and other vitamins and minerals, making them more nutritionally whole.

When a protein powder does make sense is when people are not taking the time to eat properly. For example, many of our patients don’t eat a full and wholesome breakfast, instead grabbing a muffin from the café. This sets up a day of sugar cravings, mid-afternoon fatigue and that inevitable weight gain around the middle. Starting the day with a smoothie augmented with a healthy protein powder helps many of our patients get on a better eating track, and on the path to better overall health.

Retail Protein Powders vs. Professional Protein Powders

Many of the products tested by Clean Label are retail brands that can be bought off the shelf in health food stores, pharmacies and grocery stores. Often these brands compete on price, so they are always looking for the most cost-effective way to make their products. Sometimes, those efforts to cut costs lead to lower quality.

With professional lines–supplement lines that do not sell their products through retail stores, but through health professional–the product testing requirements are different. These companies have to ensure that heavy metal testing is done on their products by a third party. As a result, their sourcing for constituents to make the products is more stringent. That makes the products more expensive, but of higher quality and lower contamination.

Protein Powders We Love

Here are a couple of powders we recommend:

Vegan powders are harder because of contamination, but for those who will only go plant-based, the best we can find is Garden of Life – Raw Protein. It’s organic, and gets a 3-star rating on Clean Label. For a vegan powder, that’s the best you can get.

The Marathon of Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a big deal.

We have to give up wine and coffee, and avoid certain foods like fish and brie cheese. We have to get a house ready for a new member of the family who is “a little high maintenance”. We have to consider how this new person will affect the relationships in the family. And then there’s the worry that starts almost immediately upon hearing there is someone growing inside us.

But did you know the physical demands of pregnancy are an even bigger deal?

One study using blood tests, for example, showed that moms had lower levels of nutrients during their pregnancy, and for up to six months after.

Dr. Kendra, the pregnancy support ND, at StoneTree Clinic talks about what she wishes all moms knew about pregnancy in this video:

Dr. Kendra is presently in the middle of running her own “marathon” and is expecting to welcome another member to her family in May 2018! Come in and see her before she starts her maternity leave on April 27, 2018.

Fear not, Dr. Maggie and Dr. Candice are all lined up to care for Dr. Kendra’s patients during her leave. You can learn more about them here!

Reducing the Embarrassment Around PAP Tests

The charity Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust recently surveyed 2,017 British women:

A third said embarrassment caused them to delay getting a smear test, which can prevent 75% of cervical cancers.

The charity said cervical cancer is the most common cancer in women under 35, yet almost two-thirds of those surveyed weren’t aware they’re most at risk.

We get it.

Getting a PAP smear is no fun. The majority of the team here at StoneTree have been on the receiving end of PAP that was cold, embarrassing, or otherwise uncomfortable.

That’s exactly why we developed the StoneTree Well-Women Visit days. You get a warm room, soft light, real sheets, warm socks, all in the care of a female ND.

Getting a PAP is important and we’ve written about it many times before. Don’t avoid it because you’re embarrassed. A few minutes, made as comfortable as possible, could save your life.

Now, with online booking, the process just got a little bit more comfortable again. Our next dates are Feb 28, Apr 11, and May 23. Book online before they fill up!

Words to Live By

Choose happy and embrace the weird.


It seems like we are always surrounded by bad news and tragedy. Stories of trouble and woe. Stories of people not getting along. Stories of people disrespecting other beliefs, religions, genders, races.

It’s incredibly easy to get sucked into this world of drama, negativity, and divisiveness. I like to think that this little sentence reminds us that getting sucked in is a choice.

We can choose to judge someone who is “different than us”… or we can “embrace the weird”.

We can choose to be offended by a comment made by a cranky teacher….or we can “choose happy” by maybe imagining that they are cranky because their child is sick, or they’ve suffered a loss.

We might not be able to control all that happens to us, but we can do our best to choose how we let it affect us and the view that we have of the world around us.

We have written about choosing happy before, but this little sentence made us think about it again. These are truly words to live by, and we thank the lovely person who shared them with us this week!

Welcome to Our New YouTube Channel

What do Naturopaths wish everyone knew? You can find out in the first videos on our new YouTube Channel.

In two minutes or less, these short videos will feature StoneTree Naturopathic Doctors offering up their wisdom on various health topics.

Our first two videos are live:

We are just getting started with videos to teach you how to understand and improve your health. Visit our channel to watch our latest videos, and subscribe to get updates when new ones are posted!

Dr. Maggie on Concussion Recovery

Dr. Kendra on Pregnancy

Influenza is Here: What to Do

Looks like this flu season is going to be a doozy. Dr. Charles Gardner, the Medical Officer of Health for The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit issued a declaration of “widespread influenza” last week. Locally, the CGMH declared an outbreak, and put increased precautionary measures in place.

If you want more detailed information on what is happening in our community with respect to the flu check out the Simcoe County District Health Unit Weekly Influenza News.

In the meantime, here are our best tips for prevention and treatment.


Keep that immune system as healthy and vibrant as possible:

  1. Eat whole foods–lots of veggies and fruit and avoid sugar.
  2. Drink water.
  3. Wash your hands–a LOT.
  4. Get lots of rest. If you’re feeling run down and tired, don’t push through. Cancel plans and go to sleep. Let your body to heal!
  5. Get outside and exercise.
  6. Meet with your ND to figure out how best to support your immune system.


  1. Stay home. Flu is caused by a virus that usually resolves with rest and fluids.  Staying home and limiting your exposure to others limits the spread.
  2. Try natural treatments for cold and flu. Herbal medicines and nutritional supplements can work wonders – especially when used in the early stages. IV vitamin C can produce dramatic effects in the flu. Using this tool at first sign of symptoms (or even preventively) is best.
  3. Visit the hospital IF necessary. This article gives you some instances when going to the ER may be warranted.

Curcumin and Blood Cancers

Last week, a story circulated in the UK about a woman with multiple myeloma—a blood cancer that is very difficult to treat—that was seemingly successfully treated with curcumin, the active medicinal ingredient in the spice turmeric.

Multiple Myeloma is a blood cancer that will affect just under 3000 Canadians annually. The disease does damage to bones, the immune system, the kidneys–because it’s a blood cancer, symptoms can crop up all over the place. The prognosis for patients with multiple myeloma is fair at best, and the median survival rate is 3 years.

Although her recovery may sound sensational, her case was actually written up in the British Medical Journal. That led us to ask our resident cancer guru, Dr. Ehab, about curcumin.

Curcumin is derived from the yellow curry spice, turmeric (curcuma longa) or Yu Jin.

Taking curcumin in your diet can be protective from various cancers, but the medical dose would be 90 grams a day of the root. The turmeric root has about 3% curcumin, so the biggest challenge with dietary curcumin is poor absorption–it’s hard to get that much into your blood by diet alone, so we use the capsulated curcumin concentrates.

How curcumin helps in cancer care

There are a number of very interesting ways in which curcumin can play a role in cancer care. For example, curcumin:

  • Induces apoptosis (i.e. programmed cell death, so cancer cells stop dividing indefinitely and stop growing) in tumors of the liver, kidney, sarcoma, and colon.
  • Reverses liver damage from fungal aflatoxin.
  • Inhibits cancer initiation, promotion and progression.
  • Is highly chemoprotective, blocks tumor induction by chemical carcinogens.
  • Is very useful for improving safety and efficacy in radiation therapy.

If you want to get deep into the weeds on this, you can read some specific studies:

But you can also have any questions answered about our cancer program by booking a complimentary meet-the-doctor visit online, or by calling the clinic at 705-444-5331.

Celiac Disease Underdiagnosed in 90% of Cases?

That’s the case according to U of T prof Ahmed El-Sohemy, whose research suggests that celiac disease is very much underdiagnosed in Canada, as with other parts of the world including the US and the UK.

When he took blood samples from over 2800 people, he found that celiac disease occurs in 1% of Canadians–that’s a similar frequency to other countries in the world.

What wasn’t similar was that this frequency of occurrence did not match the frequency of diagnosis. El-Sohemy estimated that 90% of the 1% go undiagnosed.

What does that mean in numbers? For Canada, a population of 35 million people means there are approximately 350,000 people with celiac. The same 1% as most places.

But if 90% of them are undiagnosed, then 315,000 of these people don’t know they have it.

What is celiac disease?

Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition. That means your own immune system is attacking a part of your own body. In the case of celiac, when a person eats gluten, that gluten activates the immune system in their digestive system and their immune system then attacks and destroys the intestinal lining.

The result is obvious symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, gas, and diarrhea. But the damage to the intestinal lining also results in poor absorption of nutrients. As a result, patients with celiac can have weight loss, failure to thrive, anemia and other complaints associated with nutrient deficiencies. In fact, whenever a patient comes to StoneTree clinic with unexplained iron deficiency anemia, this is one of the first culprits we consider.

Are celiac disease and gluten intolerance the same thing?


Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease. The gluten activates the immune system to attack the person’s intestines.

Gluten intolerance is an inflammatory response to the gluten itself–the immune system sees the gluten as the problem and attacks it, creating inflammation. Why this happens is still not totally understood.

Theories include:

  • Wheat hybrids have been bred to have more gluten and therefore more antigenic.
  • We eat too much gluten so the inflammatory reaction never has a chance to die down.
  • Wheat GMO’s (round-up ready crops) create wheat that is irritating to the immune system.

How do you test for celiac disease?

For celiac disease, the gold standard for diagnosis is an intestinal biopsy to look for tell-tale signs of damage.

This way of testing has its limitations. First, the patient needs to go to a hospital, get sedated and have a piece of their intestines removed via scope–no fun at all. Also, the patient needs to be actually eating gluten or you could go through all that trouble and get a false negative result.

Other tests for celiac include blood tests for the auto-antibody. This is easier, but also the patient also needs to be eating gluten to ensure that there is not a false negative.

Gluten intolerance can be tested by looking for an IgG antibody in the blood.

You can also test using an elimination diet. Whether you have celiac or a gluten intolerance, an elimination diet can give your own body a chance to tell you if you have a problem with gluten without relying on a test to tell you. If you have GI symptoms like symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation and you suspect gluten might be the culprit – just remove it from your diet for 28 days and left your body talk to you. If gluten is an issue you will know, no blood test or biopsy needed. It’s simple and cheap, but not necessarily easy!

For more information on testing, contact the clinic anytime at 705-444-5331, or book online.

Need help with gluten-free foods? Check out The pantry at StoneTree Clinic. All foods, including pre-prepared meals, are gluten- and dairy- free.

13 Books to Help With Your Resolutions

According a recent poll, many of our top resolutions this year are around our health–three of the top four, in fact:

  • Eat better
  • Exercise more
  • Save more money
  • Increase self-care (more sleep, etc.)

Interestingly, “read more” came in at number five. With that in mind, we thought we’d give you a list of our top health and wellness books. If read and put to use, they could do wonders for your health in 2018.

Here they are, in no particular order. Happy Reading!

Younger Next Year: A Guide to Living Like 50 to 80 and Beyond by Chris Crowley. An oldie but a goodie. I have gifted and recommended this book dozens of times. It is a life changer.

Untangled: Guiding Teenager Girls Through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood by Lisa Damour. If you are living with a teenage girl you can feel like you are going crazy yourself. This great book helps you keep your head on straight as you navigate through this life change.

The Passion Test by Janet Bray Attwod and Chris Attwood. Purpose is a big determinant of our health. This simple read helps you get to yours.

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. When we can understand how and why our habits are there it makes it easier to change them and let them go. This book does that AND gives you strategies to make the change.

The Brain that Changes Itself by Norman Doidge MD. Debunking everything we thought about brain injury and the brain’s ability to heal – it will blow your doors off.

The Upside of Stress by Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D. In a culture that has demonized the stress word, we have forgotten it’s true purpose in our lives. This book reframes our thinking about this word for our betterment.

Healthy at 100 by John Robbins. Just read it – the solutions are simple…if not easy.

In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto by Micheal Pollen. Eat food that nature makes, mostly plants, not too much – it really is that simple

Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It by Gary Traub. This book is a little academic, but worth the read. It will completely de-bunk everything you thought about fat.

The Happiness Project by Gretchin Rubin. A year of happiness – so worth it.

Eat, Move Sleep: How Small Choices Lead to Big Changes by Tom Rath. Can you capture health better in three words?

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown, One of my favorite books of ALL times.   We so often trade our health in our pursuit of more. This book makes a very compelling argument for focusing on what’s most important.

Eat Dirt: Why Leaky Gut Might be the Root Cause of your Health Problems and 5 Surprising Steps to Cure It by Josh Axe. In a germ-phobic world, its good to reconnect with just how critical bacteria are in our lives. More than you might know!

Concussion Treatment and Prevention

Hurray, it’s ski season!

If you or your kids ski for fun, or more seriously in the many amazing race programs in our area, this post is for you. (Hockey players, we haven’t forgotten you either!)

Dr. Maggie, a former nationally competitive skier, and StoneTree Clinic’s resident sports performance guru, wants to make sure you know how to manage the inevitable bonks on the head that come when you “hit” the slopes or the ice.

Bruising Your Brain

Your body has evolved a great system for protecting the brain. On the outside, you have a hard bony layer—the skull—to shelter your soft brain tissue from the outside world. Under the skull, fluid and protective membranes allow your brain to “float” inside your skull, protecting it from damage.

In the case of a serious whack, however—say, falling while skiing, or piling into the boards—your brain can move in unexpected ways, and can actually hit the inside of your skull. We call that a mild traumatic brain injury. There are several kinds, but we often generalize and refer to them collectively as a “concussion”.

While your brain has a remarkable knack for self-healing from damage, it can only do so much. Here are three key strategies for protecting this vital organ.

1. Prevention. Did you know that there are things that you can do before impact to minimize the negative repercussions of a head injury? When you suffer a concussion, you trigger an immune response in your body–your immune system creates inflammation to help protect your brain. If you’ve managed and supported your inflammatory pathways, you can get a jump on minimizing damage and maximizing healing. Remember: if you’re involved in a sport with a head injury risk, there are things you can do in addition to wearing a helmet.

2. Early Treatment – The early days of a head injury are the most vital in terms of neurological and inflammatory changes. The sooner you can begin to get help, the more you speed up and support healing and recovery. Seek help as soon as you can after a head trauma.

For those who are competing competitively:

3. Set up your concussion health care team. Your best support comes from a combination of healthcare practitioners who can help you to a full recovery! Chiropractic, physiotherapy, exercise therapy and naturopathic care are all important components of complete care. In this regard, health care is a lot like sports: the better the team, the better the results.

We use a combination of tools to help support concussion recovery, including a specialized brain recovery diet, targeted supplementation, IV therapy, and acupuncture. For questions and care, Dr. Maggie is in the clinic during the holiday season and beyond. You can book online here, or call the clinic at 705-444-5331.