Tag Archives: nutrition

Are You Healthy? Or Just “Not Sick”?

If a person is in pain and they take a pill, the pain will usually “go away”.  But where is this place that the pain disappeared to? A magical pain land?   The pain has actually not gone anywhere, it’s just covered it up.  This is like cleaning your house by sweeping all of the dirt under the rug.  So does this make you more “healthy” just because you cannot “feel” the pain?

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Most people in today’s society do not even consider their health until they have pain or bad symptoms show up.  If they feel good, they think they are healthy and if they feel bad, then they are sick.  Logical right?  Wrong.  Good or bad symptoms are only a message from our body that there is something going on and some type of change is needed.

Symptoms are our body’s way of adapting to its internal and external environment.  For example, what if you eat some spoiled food and get food poisoning.  When you experience extreme vomiting and diarrhea, are you sick or healthy?   Most would say that you are sick, but in actual fact, it is a good and strong natural response to eject the toxins out of your body as quickly as possible.  You may feel horrible, but your body is healthy because of its natural protective reaction.

What do you do when you are experiencing these types of reactions, do you let your body do what is best for it or do you take something to suppress the symptoms?

If your smoke detectors alarm went off, would you just take the batteries out and go back to sitting on your couch or would you investigate as to what actually set it off in the first place?

We therefore cannot judge our true health by how we are feeling, but rather by how well our body is functioning and responding to lifestyle stress.  As the World Health Organization states, health “is optimal physical, mental and social well-being, not merely the absence of disease or infirmary.”

If you replace the "I" in illness, with "We" you have wellness.  You don't have to do this alone.

If you replace the “I” in illness, with “We” you have wellness. You don’t have to do this alone.

How well are you functioning?  Real health includes all types of factors, such as abundant nutrition, exercise, proper sleep, a way to manage and minimize stress and toxins, a well functioning and responding nervous system and a positive mental attitude.  Health care is not screenings for cancer, diabetes or high blood pressure.   Though these tests are important, waiting to find something is sick care, taking responsibility the choices you make is true health and wellness care.

So take a more pro-active approach to your own health care.  Eat right, move more, get adjusted and think positive thoughts to help elevate your own health.

What steps are you taking to bring your health quotient up?  Leave a comment below to share your journey!

Cheers to your health!

Dr. Vanda.

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Eat my Anti-What?

Antioxidants have been a “buzz” word for some time now. Everywhere you go, people are touting the benefits of eating foods high in antioxidants. Yet, there seems to be a bit of confusion about what you should eat and why you should eat it. I once had a patient ask, “you need oxygen to live, why would I want to eat something that is anti-oxygen?”

Antioxidants are nutrients and enzymes in our food that can slow or prevent the damaging effect of free radicles in our body. Free radicals appear in our body as the by-product of our cells using oxygen for essential processes. These free radicals are an unstable molecule in your body so it attacks other cells, proteins or DNA to try and gain an electron to become stable. This is the same process which gives you rust on your car, turns a peeled apple brown or turns oil rancid.

It is impossible to avoid free radicals. Free radicals arise from inside and outside of our body. Natural processes such as aging, breathing, normal metabolism and inflammation in the body can make free radicals. Outside factors such as sunlight, pollution, aggressive exercise, radiation, x-rays, smoking and alcohol cause the body to have free radicals in it.

We cannot avoid free radicals but we can do our best to counteract their effects. Antioxidants are so effective in the body because they can donate an electron to the free radical without damaging itself, thereby helping to repair damage and assisting in preventing the aging process. Antioxidants assist in fighting infection and help lower the risk of cancer formation. Antioxidants also help play a role in preventing other chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s, cataracts and arthritis.

So what are the top antioxidants?

Vitamins A,C, and E Minerals such as Copper, Selenium, Manganese and Zinc.  Phytochemical’s such as anthocyanins, lycopene and flavonoids are all so beneficial to a persons health and vitality.

Antioxidants are responsible for the bright and vibrant colours in fruits and vegetables, the flavour in coffee, tea and extra-virgin olive oil and the oh so beautiful bitter taste in dark chocolate. Here’s a chart breaking down the highest anti-oxidative foods according to USDA.

Rank Food item Serving size Total antioxidant capacity
per serving size
1 Small Red Bean (dried) Half cup 13,727
2 Wild blueberry 1 cup 13,427
3 Red kidney bean (dried) Half cup 13,259
4 Pinto bean Half cup 11,864
5 Blueberry (cultivated) 1 cup 9,019
6 Cranberry 1 cup (whole) 8,983
7 Artichoke (cooked) 1 cup (hearts) 7,904
8 Blackberry 1 cup 7,701
9 Prune Half cup 7,291
10 Raspberry 1 cup 6,058
11 Strawberry 1 cup 5,938
12 Red Delicious apple 1 whole 5,900
13 Granny Smith apple 1 whole 5,381
14 Pecan 1 ounce 5,095
15 Sweet cherry 1 cup 4,873
16 Black plum 1 whole 4,844
17 Russet potato (cooked) 1 whole 4,649
18 Black bean (dried) Half cup 4,181
19 Plum 1 whole 4,118
20 Gala apple 1 whole 3,903

In summary, eat foods that vary in all types of colours, but use some common sense. Fresh, healthy, non-processed food is the way to go. You can’t get your anti-oxidants out of a soda pop bottle!  In the end, your mother was right, just eat your fruits and veggies!!

Why Water?

You need water to live.  It helps with every function in your body.  It is the major component in muscles, blood,bones and your brain.  Yet, a question I still get asked a lot in practice is “How much water should I be drinking everyday?”.  It’s a simple question, yet the answer varies based on your activity level, your health and even where you live.
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Water is vital to the proper function of your body.  It helps to flush out toxins and waste, it helps carry nutrients to your organs, tissues and cells and it helps to keep things “moisturized” in your body – like your joints, throat, mouth, and nose.

Yet, as much water you intake through beverages and food all day, you lose just as much.  Through breathing, perspiration, urinationand bowel movements, you have to continually replenish the water reserve in your body or you will become dehydrated.

Dehydration can lead to all types of problems including a dry, sticky mouth, chapped lips, thirst, sleepiness or tiredness, dry skin, headaches, constipation, dizziness or lightheadedness.  So if you are feeling any of these symptoms, have a large glass of water to help restore your water balance.

One of the easiest ways to determine how hydrated you are, is by urine colour.  If it is clear or light yellow, you are hydrated; dark yellow or amber coloured, you may be suffering from dehydration.

Most people have heard about the 8×8 rule of water.  Drink 8, 8oz (~230mL) glasses of water a day or about 2L of water in total.  Another way to to figure it out is to drink half you body weight in ounces of water…So if you weigh 150lbs (68kg’s), you should try and drink 75 ounces (~2.2L).  The math isn’t quite as easy in metric.

Not just water counts as fluid.  Food intake can account for about 20% of your fluid intake, where if you eat more fruits and vegetables this may increase.  For example, foods such as tomatoes and watermelon are almost 90% water.  Other beverages such as milk and juice count as well.   Caffeinated drinks, such as coffee and tea, can count towards your daily intake, as long as they are drank in moderation.  If you consume more than 5-7 cups a day (500-600mg of caffeine) that’s when the diuretic or dehydrating effect can occur.  Unfortunately, caffeine can make you jittery, anxious and unable to sleep if consumed in large amounts.

You need to increase your daily levels of fluid if you are exercising.  For short exercise periods (less than an hour) increase by 500mL or about 2 cups of water.  For longer exercise periods (more than an hour), increase fluid intake by what type of activity you are doing, intensity and duration.

Another factor that may increase your need for water is the environment you live in.  Hot and humid areas can make you sweat thereby increasing the amount of water you need.  Elevation can also play a part because it may trigger more urination and more rapid breathing, making your body use more water then normal.

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you need additional water to hydrate your baby!  The Institute of Medicine recommends that pregnant ladies drink at least 2.3L (~10 cups) and breastfeeding moms drink around 3.1L (~13 cups) of fluids a day.

Illness with vomiting, diarrhea or fever also increases your need to stay hydrated.  You may also consider oral rehydration beverages such as Gatorade, Powerade, Pocari Sport Drinks or rehydration salts.  Other conditions that require more water intake are kidney stones or Urinary Tract Infections.  Consultation with your doctor may be necessary for some conditions.

Overall the best drink of choice is WATER! It is calorie-free, caffeine-free, readily available and just what your body wants and needs.  Go have a glass now…your body will thank you for it!

Yours in Health and Hydration,

Dr. Vanda