February 22, 2018

Have You Tried These Non-Dairy Pro-biotic Foods?

Living life dairy-free or sugar-free?  Yes, you can enjoy the health benefits of yogurt without actually eating it.  When popular yogurts can have as much sugar as a small can of cola, looking elsewhere for your pro-biotics is a good idea.

Here are four non-dairy sources of active pro-biotics that don’t come stacked with a ton of sugar:

Sauerkraut:  Not to be confused with coleslaw, sauerkraut is a European-style fermented cabbage side dish or condiment that may be cooked or eaten raw. Note: the real thing has NO VINEGAR added to it.  The sourness comes from the lactic acid created by the bacteria that soften the cabbage to a mildly-crunchy texture. Try it cold on top of a green salad or baked potato. Look for it in the refrigerated section of your grocery or health food store.


Kimchi: This is a Korean style of fermented nappa cabbage. I was told by a Korean woman that there are over 300 different ways to make kimchi!  In contrast to sauerkraut, kimchi usually has garlic and often, sriracha as key ingredients.  Find it in the fridge of better stocked health food stores and use it just like you would sauerkraut.


Kombucha:  This is a fermented green tea beverage that offers pro-biotic cultures as well as anti-oxidant benefits.  Properly produced kombucha is mildly effervescent,  smells reminiscent of beer and should be enjoyed chilled.  However, beware:  there are some varieties that are sweetened.  Drink it any time.


Coconut yogurt:  at first glance, it looks like ordinary yogurt. Simply by adding living bacterial cultures to coconut milk produces this creamy snack.  It tends to be a lot less sour than dairy yogurt, so if sourness is not your thing, this may be your best choice of pro-biotic food! Add a few berries and you are all set.


No matter which pro-biotic food you choose to try, each one will offer up different species of beneficial bacteria.  To get the most from pro-biotic foods, eat them regularly, rotate them, and keep them cool (refrigerated).  Enjoy!



5 Things You Need to Know About the Ketogenic Diet

The ketogenic diet is a way of obtaining the majority of your calories from fats and oils instead of carbohydrates.  It’s quite popular  right now, with users reporting health benefits such as fewer headaches, less bloating, less joint pain, weight loss, and more.

If you’re considering the diet, you need to be aware of a few things:

  1. Carbohydrate intake is limited to between 10 and 50 grams daily. “Standard” nutrition programs have adults eating about 300 grams. Since the ketogenic diet consists mainly of fats, proteins and leafy/juicy vegetables, conventional bread, cereal, ice cream and pizza— as well as some fruits and vegetables— are no longer on your grocery list.


  1. If you no longer ‘own’ a gall bladder, you will absolutely need to use digestive supplementation in order to access the energy found in fats and oils. Otherwise, your body will be hungry. You’ll crave carbohydrates, and you may end up with IBS-like symptoms resulting from incomplete digestion.


  1. There is very little research on ketogenic diets during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Weight loss is a common side effect of this diet, resulting in higher than normal levels of toxins entering circulation from dissolving fat. This could compromise the fetus/infant dependent on you for its nutrition.  If you are an expectant or nursing mother, please consult a health care professional about this diet before starting it.

  1. The ketogenic diet is a lifestyle; it’s not a temporary ‘diet’. Once the body adapts to a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet, the metabolic changes that result from the switch can make it hard to go back to ‘regular’ carbohydrate-based meals without packing on the pounds.


  1. If done correctly, the ketogenic diet can be a sustainable, healthy nutrition plan for those with health goals they have not been able to reach using other eating plans. If you are a type 2 diabetic, have polycystic ovarian syndrome or other hormonal imbalances, you may be surprised to hear that a ketogenic diet may offer you a management solution.  A holistic nutritionist is an excellent reference to assist you in making sure you a) are a good candidate and b) you have the resources to execute the diet in a healthful fashion.






Four Reasons To Log Your Food

  1. Increased Awareness.  Recording what you eat and drink will bring an awareness of how often you consume less nutritious foods and their ingredients. Sugar, artificial sweeteners, caffeine, alcohol, salt, and fried oils are just a few of the treats that can add up in a day, a week, and a month.  Journaling will bring to your attention the frequency and quantity of the unhealthful parts of your diet.Businesswoman Writing In Diary

2. Accountability. Once you write it down, you’ve admitted that you’ve consumed it.  Knowing that your nutritionist will be asking to look at your food journal will help you think twice about some of your food choices. So if you ate a second piece of chocolate cake, there’s a good chance you won’t do it again because you know you have to write it down!

3. Accuracy:  Most people have difficulty remembering what they ate yesterday, let alone for the last week.  Plus, many of us have selective memory; that is, we recount what we want to remember, not what we don’t.  Giving your nutritionist a look at your diet over an entire week or more will help him/her help you by making sure you haven’t left out any important details, like the spinach in your smoothie, or the nuts in your salad.

4. It shows your nutritionist what you like to eat.   The last thing we want to do is alienate our clients with weird, foreign and complicated recipes.   Your journal helps me identify recipes that may serve as more nutritious versions of your favourite convenience foods.

Here’s what I like to see in a client’s diet journal:

  • Was it something your prepared yourself, home-made, or was it a restaurant meal? Your nutritionist will want to know because portion sizes tend to be larger in restaurants, and because the food may have been cooked in an unhealthy way (for ex., deep fried).
  • Quantities. You don’t have to weigh your food, but the amount of food eaten is very useful information for your nutritionist—especially if your goal is fat loss. If you ate nuts, about how many? If you had pasta, did you have one helping or two? Was it a super-sized soda or a grande frappuccino?
  • Product Details. I like it when clients write down the brand and version of the cereal or yogurt they’ve eaten. This helps me approximate the amount of sugar or fibre they’ve ingested in the meal.
  • Fluids consumed. Remember to record what you drank with the meal. Was it bottled water? Tap water? Hot? Iced? How much? Did you have red wine or white? Skim milk or 2 percent?
  • How you felt after eating the food.  Reserve a section where you can rate your digestion, your energy and your mood. This will help identify possible connections between what you ate and how you feel so that you can either eat more of it (if it made you feel good) or eat less of it (because it made you feel ill).
  • Clear separation of meals and snacks. Make sure your diary doesn’t look like a grocery list.  When you eat a food and what you eat with it could be important in explaining your energy levels, your blood sugar and more.

Black plate, fork and knife on red napkin. Isolated on white. Square format.All of the above details help me identify excesses, but also what nutrients may be in need of augmentation.  Once considered along with your health challenges and goals,  I will be able to give you appealing , suitable, practical and nutritious meal suggestions that will help you reach those goals.

Don’t have a food journal yet?  Start one today and you will probably automatically begin improving your diet!  You can find a sample one here and get started now.

Help for Many Common Health Afflictions

Question: What common mineral deficiency do North Americans have that if corrected, could result in major profit losses for the pharmaceutical companies?

Answer: MAGNESIUM.A few capsules on the two green leaves isolated on white background

This essential mineral is involved in over 300 enzyme systems in the body.

Translation: magnesium is one important nutrient! The more processed our diets are, the less magnesium we get, and the more ways the body will complain:

Do you get painful muscle cramps and/or muscle twitching? Magnesium supports proper muscle relaxation after contraction occurs.

Are you frequently constipated? Magnesium supports healthy elimination through the bowels.

Do you have high blood pressure? Magnesium works in tandem with calcium to control the tension of blood vessels, relaxing them to accommodate blood volume.

Woman Sleeping 2002Do you have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep? Magnesium is involved in nerve impulse transmission, enabling a healthy nervous system function.  Many of my clients report a sounder sleep, with fewer awakenings while taking supplementary magnesium.

Do you suffer from anxiety? Magnesium has far, far fewer side effects than anxiety drugs.

Do you get sugar cravings? Magnesium is important for blood sugar metabolism, improving insulin sensitivity. This means it helps cells receive the glucose they need for energy production.

Women: Do you suffer from painful menstrual cramping? The uterus is a smooth muscle that we cannot contract and relax at will. During menses, cramps occur by contraction of the uterus in order to expel the unused blood-rich uterine lining.  If your cramping is incapacitating, you may benefit from supplementary magnesium taken every day of your period.

Those are just a few of the symptoms that I have seen benefit from magnesium supplementation.  It’s natural and safe, with virtually no side effects (compared to muscle relaxant drugs!)

Are all Magnesium Supplements Created Equal?

NO. Every mineral exists as a compound; that is, a combination of mineral and something else. Some compounds, like magnesium sulfate, are stinky and more likely to promote diarrhea. Magnesium oxide is not that well absorbed, and magnesium citrate at least contains the acid needed to dissolve magnesium (the first step to absorption). The best quality magnesium compound I have used in my nutritional counseling practice is magnesium glycinate.  By pairing magnesium with glycine, the smallest-sized of the amino acids, it is more easily absorbed into the body from the intestinal tract.  Here is the brand I like.

Increase Your Vitality With Sprouted Foods

Bean sprouts. Alfalfa sprouts. When is the last time you ate some?  Sprouts are a great way to incorporate more raw foodinto your daily diet. But why should you?
Fresh Alfalfa Sprouts,Close Up
1. Sprouts are Rich In Enzymes
An enzyme is a kind of specialized protein molecule, composed of a chain of many amino acids. They are found in all living things. Without them, chemical reactions responsible for the growth, maintenance, repair and decomposition of cellular matter would cease to occur, and death would result. In his early 20th-century book, Enzyme Nutrition, Dr. Edward Howell professes that although the human body manufactures its own enzymes for digestive, immune and detoxification purposes, the quantity of these enzymes is finite, suggesting that cooked processed foods could deplete our enzyme production systems sooner than a diet rich in raw foods.  Could chronic enzyme deficiency pave the way to chronic inflammatory and degenerative conditions, such as arthritis, diabetes, infertility and cancer? Check out Pottenger’s Cats study and decide for yourself.

The sprouting of seeds, grains and legumes captures the plant at its most nutrient-dense stage; that is, before the seed becomes a plant. This active process is why they are so rich in enzymes.  Seeds are powerful foods, containing the potential for much energy—after all, they contain what they need to create new life!

2. During the sprouting process, some vitamin levels increase by over 20 times! After all,  enzymes cannot not be manufactured without sufficient quantities of dietary vitamins, minerals and amino acids.

3. In addition, sprouting may reduce nutrient-blocking phytates, which are found in the hulls and bran of certain grains. In this way, sprouting ‘unlocks’ the nutrients within a seed, allowing them a better opportunity to be absorbed through the digestive tract.

4. Sprouts are alkaline-forming to the body, meaning that they do not contribute to generation of dangerous acids once they are digested.

Some Benefits of Specific Sprouts

Broccoli sprouts contain high levels of sulfurophanes—sulfur-containing compounds that are known to assist the liver in its blood cleansing work.

Herbal medicine:Red clover
Alfalfa sprouts contain good levels of vitamin K–a nutrients needed for proper blood clotting.

Red clover sprouts are an excellent source of phyto-estrogens, which support bone and heart health in women without the negative side effects from synthetic hormone replacement.  (Tempfer CB et al. The American Journal of Medicine 2009 Oct; 122(10): 939-46)

Most beans, lentils and grains may be sprouted and used in no-cook recipes.  You can even grow your own! The wonderful thing is that it’s easy, fast and no soil is required. Try sprouting today!

“Essential Fatty Acid” vs. “Essential Oil”: What’s the Difference?

mixed nutsAn essential fatty acid (EFA) is an oil required for human health. This means the body needs it but cannot manufacture it, so they must be obtained from the diet. The two types of EFAs needed by humans are omega-3 (linolenic acid) and omega-6 (linoleic acid). They are found in both plant and animal-sourced foods, the highest quantities being found in nuts, seeds, and coldwater fish. Unlike essential oils (EO), EFAs contain no significant aromatic compounds (i.e. they do not have a strong odour, unless they become rancid).
perfume bottlesIn contrast, essential oils are aromatic (i.e. odourous) compounds derived from plant substances only.  These oils serve primarily as part of the plant’s defense system against attack by fungus, bacteria, and pests. When the oils are extracted in quantity from the roots, leaves, bark, seeds and flowers of specific plants and trees they form a highly concentrated, therapeutic substance for humans to enjoy. Examples of these are the essential oils of peppermint, oregano, lemongrass, eucalyptus and wild orange, to name a few.

Some of the general properties of essential oils are listed here:
-Anti-oxidant (cellular protection)
-Anti-microbial (kills infectious agents)
Some essential oils have more specific properties:
-Anti-spasmodic (muscle relaxant)
-Sedative (nervous system tonic)
-Anti-inflammatory (reducing pain, heat, redness and swelling)
Essential oils have many applications and can be used toAssorted basil herbspically (on the skin), aromatically (inhaled) or ingested. They are very powerful! Only very small amounts (less than 1 millilitre) are used at a time (compare this to the hundreds of milligrams of EFAs found in a serving of nuts).

Caution: not every plant’s essential oils are safe to ingest (for example, wintergreen and eucalyptus oils should not be taken internally).  Follow the manufacturer’s warnings. If the product says ‘not for internal use’, do not use it this way. Remember: Essential oils are ultra-concentrated, with only one drop often sufficient to do the job!

VegetablesIn my work as a Registered Nutritional Therapist, I analyze my clients’ health needs and recommend a combination of nutrients (such as EFAs), herbal extracts and oils to support their digestive systems and immune systems.  Together with providing specific dietary modifications, I find this approach highly useful in my practice.

5 Things to Do if You’re Always Tired

Are you falling asleep at your desk? Can’t get through the afternoon without the boost caffeine and carbohydrates can temporarily give you? Is getting out of bed in the morning your biggest challenge of the day? If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, you would benefit from a thorough dietary and lifestyle evaluation.

The first step in doing this is to keep a diet journal. Don’t delay! Take a moment to get a free one right here:  7-day Diet Journal

juggle junk food1. Begin recording everything you eat and drink through the day, being sure to write down how much you’re eating. For example, did you have two plates of pasta or just one? Did you go for the largest size coffee or the small? Approximately how many almonds did you eat?  This exercise will bring a consciousness to your eating patterns, and can be very informative. It will reveal tendencies and patterns, which can serve as excellent motivation to change bad dietary habits.  Do this for at least a week.

2. Are you getting any fresh air?  (Walking to your car in the parking lot does not count, but standing at the bus stop does! ) .  Many buildings have poorly-maintained ventilation systems. Outdoor air is usually cleaner and more oxygen-rich than indoor air. Aim to spend at least 20 minutes outdoors daily! If it’s sunny, this is also a  good opportunity for vitamin D production.

3.  How often do you exercise? The brain and muscles depend on oxygen for their function, and physical exercise is the best way to improve circulation.    Do you exercise outdoors or indoors (see #2)?     Be sure to get some of your exercise outdoors. Consider cycling, skiing, swimming, skating, or hiking.

4.  Do a cStudio Portrait Of Depressed Womanommitment review.  What have you said ‘yes’ to that you wish you’d said ‘no’ to?  Is it because you are overwhelmed with responsibilities, and do you enjoy these responsibilities? Just being conscious of the fact that you have a long list of to-dos, projects and social commitments can take up a lot of energy!   Make a list of everything and start rating them according to their importance to YOU. Then, make a commitment to be more selective.

5. Weed out the energy-drainers. These consist of negative  people, places, TV programs, etc. that drag you down instead of make you feel good.  If you are feeling guilty about saying goodbye to the Sad Sallys in your life, set boundaries instead.  There is no law that says you have to answer the phone when it rings, or the front door, for that matter (unless it’s the police!).  Put yourself first more often.

There are a multitude of life coaches out there to help you organize and improve your life, and they can be very beneficial.   However, improving nutritional intake is critical for supporting yourself under stress in order to reduce fatigue so that you will have the energy to make the changes such a coach is recommending.  After all, the body and its chemistry is built and maintained by nutrients!

Once you’ve started keeping a diet journal I believe you will see how food and hydration affect your energy. Of course the next step is to CHANGE what you’re eating and drinking.    A holistic nutritionist can offer superior support in this regard, giving you personalized, practical and fun recommendations that makes your goal of increased energy more attainable!

The Yeast Beast and its Toxins: Are They Affecting Your Health?

All living things produce wastes, be it solids, liquids or gases as a by-product of life processes.  Did you know that common, undesirable intestinal micro-organisms such as yeast (candida albicans, for one) produce an array of toxins that are poisonous the nervous system?

Here are a few :

1. Carbon monoxide.  We all know that inhalation of this gas, in concentration, is fatal. Why? Because it binds to hemoglobin and prevents oxygen uptake. While extremely unlikely that common strains of yeast found in the bowel can produce this concentration of CO , a yeast overgrowth has been associated with ‘brain fog’, confusion, slow mental processes, anxiety, depression and 3d man with a gas maskother cognitive problems.

2. Acetaldehyde: This is a metabolic by-product of yeast that acts like alcohol. That is, it can result in impaired cognition.  Interesting, its cousin, formaldehyde is a biological poison, used as a preservative (to prevent undesirable bacterial growth in laboratory tissue samples, for instance).    If you react negatively to the fumes from a new carpet, new furniture or clothing, your tolerance for aldehydes is low and your liver could use some help.

3. Gliotoxin: This yeast and fungal by-product is especially toxic to the liver, your body’s central processing centre for metabolic wastes. Gliotoxins also damage immune cells needed to combat yeast so it doesn’t become a warlord and hijack the immune system.

spray bottles 34. Ammonia: This toxic ingredient is found in window-cleaner. It is very poisonous to the kidneys.  It’s also a product of the damage yeast cause when they grow on your intestinal lining. The ammonia that results from the protein breakdown is used in the yeast’s favour, as they use it to communicate (remember, these are one-celled organisms but they are very, very ‘smart’).

Who knew that there could be toxic chemical factory in your gut that could be affecting your health ?  If you’re wondering if candida overgrowth is part of your health problems, check out the Dysbiosis questionnaire. If your score is elevated, you may benefit from my Digestive Rejuvenation Program.

What does all this have to do with nutrition? The answer is, what we eat determines what microbes take up residence in our guts, and what kind of neighbourhood it is.  Junk food breeds yeasts and disease-causing bacteria, while real food promotes health-giving microbes.  So start taking a look at your diet and ask yourself if it could use a tune-up.

Milk vs “Mylk”: Which is Right for You?

Pouring milk In my nutritional counseling practice I see a lot of individuals who say they are lactose-intolerant, or don’t tolerate cow’s milk.

I created this chart to compare some of the main features of each type of milk and”mylk” (milk substitute).  Be sure to read the notes that follow.

Milks vs Mylk:  Comparison at a Glance
Commercial Protein Lactose Calories Allergy/intolerance
milk / mylk (in 250 mL) (in 250 mL) risk (1 being highest)
Cow’s milk (2%) 10 g yes 122 1
 Use organic milk.
Goat’s milk 9 g yes 168 2
 Less lactose than cow’s milk.
Soy beverage* 6-9g no 70 -90 3
Use Certified Organic soy beverage only
Almond beverage* 2 g no 40 4
 Almond is a tree nut.
Rice beverage* 1 g no 80- 120 6
 Highest glycemic index of all mylks.
Coconut beverage* 0 g no 45 5
Not to be confused with canned coconut milk or coconut water. Usually safe for those with tree nut allergies.* unsweetened only


Determining the best milk/mylk for the individual depends on many factors, including age, pregnancy, nursing, and health condition.  For example, with the exception of coconut ‘milk’, plant ‘mylks’ do not contain sufficient fat for an infant’s brain development.  Therefore, babies should NEVER be given plant-based milk substitutes unless the product is specifically called a formula.

Allergy/Intolerance: Interestingly, allergy risk is correlated with the amount of protein in the milk/mylk.  Accordingly, rice and coconut mylks have the lowest risk of allergy/intolerance.   Despite the almond nut itself being a good source of plant-based protein, almond mylk is very low in protein. However, it should still be avoided by those with severe allergy to tree nuts.

Milk and sugar content: The figures above are for unsweetened, no sugar added products. Sadly, there are a lot of varieties of the mylks here that have a LOT of added sugars. Beware of flavoured varieties for this reason.  Also, rice milk is not recommended for diabetics because it is so naturally high in sugars, and almost completely devoid of protein.

WebWhat About Calcium?

Finally, to be acceptable as a milk substitute, the plant-based mylks all have been fortified with calcium. Generally, I find that one cup of milk substitute contains roughly the same amount of calcium as a glass of cow’s milk. As for vitamin D—even cow’s milk is supplemented with D-3. Most of the plant mylks are, too.

Use the chart to narrow down the safest possibilities for you, and experiment, watching closely for changes in energy, digestion and elimination.




What I Found in the Table Salt

Being the nutritionist I am, I read all food labels.  Once in a while there is one that really stumps me.  This time, it was my recent single-serving salad purchase from the grocery store to-go department came with a pre-wrapped package that included a fork, salt packknife, napkin, a packet of pepper and a packet of iodized salt.  Here’s what the salt packet contained on its list of ingredients:

First, the good stuff (sort of):

salt This surprisingly un-specific word should be listed as the first and only ingredient in table salt.  What kind of salt?  Am I to assume it’s sodium chloride? I can only hope it is,  as this is the safest, tastiest sodium compound. I’d rather it not be calcium chloride (road salt, which is not f0od-grade), but we don’ t know here because the salt packaging company has not told us! In chemistry, “salt” does not automatically imply “sodium”.  For example, potassium chloride is technically a salt that happens to taste like sodium chloride, but has a much lower margin of safety. And, things get dangerous when the wrong sodium is used. (For instance, sodium hydroxide is a highly caustic and poisonous compound used to clear clogged drains. ) Eek! I am actually surprised this lack of specificity has flown under the radar of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, who will not, understandably, allow the word  “carbohydrate” to be used to hide the type of sugar or starch used in a food product.

potassium iodide:  Don’t panic about this one. This compound is one of the safest ways to provide two essential minerals:  potassium and iodine. You will find it in most multi-vitamin-mineral products, too.  Since its inception as an additive to table salt in the mid-twentieth century, iodized table salt means goitre (a disease of the thyroid gland) and cretinism (mental retardation in children) has nearly eradicated these diseases from western countries.  Verdict: I approve.

Now, the bad news.  If any of the following additives are in your table salt, relegate it to the laundry room and use it as an abrasive sink scrub instead.

yellow prussiate of soda:  It’s also known  as E 535 and by its chemical name: sodium ferrocyanide. You don’t have to be a chemist to see that this compound contains cyanide—the poison used by many fictitious murders!  So why it it in my table salt? As it turns out yellow prussiate of soda kills two birds with one stone. Despite its name, it isn’t there to turn grey salt into yellow salt.  Instead, it acts as a bleaching agent, turning grey salt into the white salt that westerners have come to associate with purity. Secondly, this additive also doubles as a flow agent.  Without it, presumably your salt shaker would get clogged up. Recommendation: Avoid this unnecessary ingredient.

sodium silico-aluminate:  Also known as E554, this additive  is used to prevent caking and clumping. Remember, aluminum is NOT an essential mineral and in fact, the vast majority of chemists will agree it is a toxic metal for the human body. Less of a health concern is silica, a major element in sand and glass and possibly an essential mineral (silicon). Verdict? I’d avoid E554.

And that is what my packet of salt contained. The best way to avoid unnecessary and potentially harmful food additives in your salt is to buy sea salt Although there are many varieties of sea salt—pink Himalayan sea salt being one of my favourites—the common thread is that they contain NO additives—not even iodine.  But if you eat any processed foods–that is, canned, frozen, boxed or otherwise pre-packaged edibles—have no fear.  They will give you more iodized table salt than you bargained for.