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Posts from the ‘Nutrition’ Category

Berry Sneaky Green Smoothie Recipe

Smoothies are a great way to pack in the nutrients. They are chock full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. As well, adding a protein supplement will improve blood glucose control and keep you satisfied until your next snack. Flax seeds will also reduce hunger, keep you regular and can improve hormonal imbalances. Once you get the hang of it, smoothies are a quick, ready-to-go breakfast that is easily digestible great tasting, and satisfying. This recipe requires a good blender. I recommend the Vitamix or Blendtec. If you have a sub-par blender, try substituting the spinach with a greens supplement.

1 cup baby spinach (or more if you like)
1 cup of almond milk (water, rice milk, soy milk can be substituted)
1 cup of berries (blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, or a mix)
½ frozen banana
1 Tbs. of ground flax seeds (or 1 Tbs. flax oil)
1 serving of a powdered protein supplement

1. Blend the flax seeds until ground
2. Add the almond milk and baby spinach, starting with the blender at low speed and increasing until smooth
3. Add berries and frozen bananas and blend until smooth
4. Add powdered protein and blend briefly
5. If smoothie is too thick, more almond milk, water or ice can be added to achieve your desired consistency.
6. Enjoy as soon as possible to maximize nutritional benefits

Optional additions:

1 Tbsp. coconut oil (great source of healthy saturated fats)
1 Tbs. almond butter (great source of monounsaturated fats, vitamins, minerals, protein and fiber)
2 open capsules of probiotics (for healthy digestive and immune function)
liquid vitamin D (especially important in the winter for healthy immune function)
ice (helps to make the smoothie more palatable)
¼ cup cranberry or pomegranate juice (packs a fruity punch)
Pinch of cinnamon (for blood glucose control)

Great Green Smoothie Recipe

Try this amazing Green Smoothie recipe to kick-start your day and your life! Green drinks get their vibrant colour from chlorophyll, a nutrient-rich pigment found in all leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, celery and lettuce, that cleans the body of harmful toxins, oxygenates the blood and helps boost energy levels. Green drinks are also chock full of nutrients including vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients. Blending fruits and vegetables together breaks down the cells of plants and improves digestibility. As well, unlike juices, green smoothies contain all the fiber essential for good colon health. Fruits and vegetables also help to alkalinize the diet and therefore the body. Green smoothies improve energy, mental clarity and overall emotional and physical health. You’ll need a good blender (such as the Blendtec or Vitamix blender to really achieve optimal consistency with this smoothie)


2 cups spinach
1 cup water
1 apple, peeled, cored and chopped
2 stocks celery
½ cup cucumber chopped
1 small beet, chopped
1 lemon, squeezed
1 small cube (1 by 2 inch) ginger chopped
Ice as needed


1. Start with the water and spinach and blend until smooth
2. Add the apple and lemon and blend
3. Add celery, cucumber, beet and ginger and blend
4. Add ice to cool it off and make it more palatable
5. Enjoy!!!

Optional ingredients: Pear, Cayenne, Parsley, Cilantro, Watercress

Probiotics for the Athlete

Physical training is understood by almost everyone as a positive, health-related activity. However, extreme athletes undertaking regular strenuous training walk a fine line between physical well-being and impaired immune function. This is likely due to the immunosuppressive effects of stress hormones such as adrenalin and cortisol. Competitive athletes have to take extra precautions to keep their immune system strong; eliminating the chance of getting sick and losing valuable training time. Probiotics can play a key role in maintaining healthy immune function.

Probiotics are “live microorganisms, which when administered in adequate amount confer a health benefit on the host (FAO 2001).” In each normal and healthy gut, there are approximately 100 trillion microorganisms (bacteria). These gut-friendly bacteria help to keep harmful bacteria in check. It can be likened to a healthy gut bacterial army, fighting off unwanted invaders.

Probiotics enhance the immune system. Probiotics have been found to modulate the functions of epithelial cells, phagocytic cells (monocytes, macrophages, and neutrophils), and natural-killer cells (NK-cells). This interaction could impact anything from infectious diseases, inflammatory disease and allergies to autoimmune disorders and cancer. Different types of probiotics are able to stimulate or moderate many aspects of innate and acquired immune responses. Therefore, choosing an appropriate probiotic for your condition is important.

Several probiotics have been shown to increase antimicrobial compounds including organic acids (lactic acid and acetic acid), hydrogen peroxide, carbon dioxide, and bacteriocins. These substances decrease intestinal pH (therefore inhibit bacterial metabolism), inhibit both gram negative and gram positive bacteria and kill bacteria. This immune protection happens systemically. It can aid in protection of upper respiratory tract infections, gastrointestinal infections, genitourinary infections and skin conditions.

Almost everyone can benefit from the use of probiotics to enhance digestion and nutrient absorption.
Probiotics play a key role in maintaining digestive health. In hard-training athletes, you need every inch of that body functioning at peak capacity. Digestive difficulties, including; acute diarrhea, Chrohn’s disease, Colitis, Celiac disease, IBS, antibiotic-induced diarrhea and food intolerances can all be assisted by a therapeutic dose of probiotics. Even those with apparent healthy bowel function, can benefit from the use of probiotics to enhance digestion and nutrient absorption. In addition, probiotic bacteria are capable of delivering enzymes or other function­al proteins to help with digestion. For example, intake of probiotics has been shown to increase the delivery of enzymes, therefore improving the digestibility of lactose in those with difficulty digesting this sugar.

Probiotics enhance the immune system and play a key role in maintaining digestive health.
Probiotics also stimulate mucin (a gel-like mucous layer in the intestine) which provides a slippery shield, protecting the gut surface from direct contact with pathogenic organisms and toxins. The integrity of the gut lining can be compromised by bacteria, toxins, inflammation and stress, leading to intestinal permeability. This allows substances that would normally pass through the gut, to pass across the gut membrane and into the body. Probiotics preserve the integrity and function of the mucosal barrier, therefore decreasing autoimmunity and allergies.
When looking for a probiotic supplement, there are three characteristics you need to look for:

  • Look for a high dose, multi-strain probiotic blend.
  • Aim for a 10-20 billion bacterial count in adults.
  • A high-quality, pharmaceutical grade manufacturing process.

Water, Your First Step Towards Optimal Health

Proper hydration is imperative for optimal health. Without proper hydration, your body will become dehydrated, which means your body does not have enough water to function at peak capacity. You lose water every day when you breathe, sweat and go to the bathroom. The water content in the foods you eat and the beverages you drink combine to hydrate your body. Drinking 8 cups of water each day is usually sufficient, but more may be needed if you are participating in vigorous activities.

Drinking water keeps your body tissues moist, flushes out harmful toxins and makes nutrients more readily available. It is also involved in getting oxygen to cells throughout the body and regulating temperature. This is why staying hydrated is so vital when playing sports or exercising. Your body’s demand for oxygen increases during physical activity and your internal temperature rises. In fact, even a minimal fluid loss can affect aerobic performance and reduce your level of physical endurance. Inadequate hydration can fatigue your muscles, reduce your coordination, make you dizzy and cause muscle cramps. The goal during exercise is to drink before signs of dehydration occur. Ideally, try to drink 2 cups of water two hours before exercising and continue to drink 1 cup of water every 20 minutes while you’re exercising.

Fatigue is the most common symptom of dehydration. Other common dehydration symptoms include; muscle cramps, fogginess, dizziness, light-headedness, headache, thirst and dry mouth/skin/lips. If you are unsure about whether you are currently drinking enough fluids each day, the color of your urine can be a good guideline. If you’re well-hydrated, it should be light yellow in color. The darker in color it gets, the more dehydrated you may be. Keep in mind, other medical conditions can alter this (such as kidney disease). Another test is to pinch the skin on the outer part of your hand or forearm. If the skin tents, meaning it stays in place and doesn’t quickly bounce back then this is a warning sign that you are dehydrated.

When choosing fluids to help you meet your daily hydration requirements, water is the ideal choice. Water will help keep you properly hydrated without the empty calories found in sports drinks, sodas or juices. However, very vigorous activities can warrant the use of carbohydrates and electrolyte replacements. To keep it interesting and add some zest, use slices of lemon or lime. Herbal teas, such as peppermint, berry or chamomile can “count” towards your daily fluid intake. Sipping water throughout the day is the best strategy. Drinking too quickly will reduce absorbability. As well, drinking water at meals might not be ideal. It can be beneficial for weight loss as it can make you fuller, however, it will also dilute your digestive juices. Drinking in-between meals is a better strategy.

Use strategies to help increase your fluid intake. Carry a stainless steel water bottle with you wherever you go and make sure you finish it by the end of the day. Set reminders on your phone to drink water, or use post-it-note reminders. If you’re feeling groggy during the day, try drinking a glass of water instead of reaching for coffee or tea. Coffee and tea are diuretics, meaning they increase water loss from the body, and can actually be more dehydrating. For every caffeinated cup of tea or coffee, make sure you add an extra cup of water. Try drinking at least 2 cups of water first thing when you wake up.

Cheers to better health!

Turkey Pumpkin Chili

Turkey Pumpkin Chili. What do these three words have in common? A delicious dish!  Thanks to  for this great recipe.

 Serves 6

Besides adding a sweet nutty flavor to dishes, pumpkin is a ready source of vitamin A, which boosts the nutrition content of this offbeat chili. Garnish each portion with a dollop of sour cream and chopped cilantro.


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
2 jalapeños, seeded and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 pound ground white or dark meat turkey
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with their liquid
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin purée
1 cup water
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained


Heat oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add onion, bell pepper, jalapeños and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add turkey and cook until browned. Add tomatoes, pumpkin, water, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and add beans. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes more. Ladle chili into bowls and serve.


Per serving: 280 calories (110 from fat), 13g total fat, 2.5g saturated fat, 55mg cholesterol, 580mg sodium, 23g total carbohydrate (8g dietary fiber, 7g sugar), 20g protein

Glowing From The Inside

Everyone knows the importance of eating a healthy diet for weight control, but how much do we know about eating for healthy skin? People spend a great deal of money on age-defying lotions, but few know that the most important skin care products come from your grocery store.  Read on to find out what tips we recommend to regain that inner glow and to keep it from fading.

  • Eating the right kinds of protein. Protein is necessary for cell repair. Our favourite picks are fish, followed by these other protein-packed animal products: egg whites, skinless chicken and turkey breast.
  • Healthy fats are essential. Fats and oils  provide anti-inflammatory protection and antioxidants. Look to fatty fish for anti-aging omega-3 fatty acids. Salmon, mackerel and albacore tuna are among your best bets. Also include extra virgin olive oil. It has the double benefit of helping your skin and possibly lowering your bad cholesterol.
  • Avoid  sugar and high-glycemic carbohydrates. This category of food includes potatoes, rice and white pasta which can cause a spike in blood sugar resulting in harmful chemical changes in your body. These foods fuel the creation of  free radicals and the break down collagen, therefore ranking them among skin’s greatest enemies. Our bodies need carbohydrates though, so get your fill from low-glycemic fruits and vegetables.
  •  H2O please.  While the number of glasses per day is still open for debate, we do know that drinking plenty of water between meals means that our cells are staying hydrated and also enzymatic properties are functioning optimally during meal times.
  • Green Tea. This beverage deserves a category all its own in any article about foods for healthy skin. Green tea’s anti-inflammatory properties, and its ability to protect cell membranes may help prevent or reduce the risk of skin cancer. A study published  in the Archives of Dermatology shows that whether taken orally or applied to the skin, green tea can reduce the risk of damage from ultraviolet light (such as the burning rays of the sun), and thus reduce the risk of skin cancer.

For more information on how to best balance a healthy diet, contact your local healthcare practitioner trained in nutrition. Or if you are in the area contact our clinic in Aurora, ON.

Understanding Heartburn

Written by: Dr. Christine Davis, Naturopathic Doctor

Did you know that heartburn affects 25-35% of the US population? Heartburn (or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease) is not only painful, but it can also lead to other complications including: asthma, chronic cough, dental problems, Barrett’s esophagus (a change in the lining of the esophagus that can increase the risk of cancer), esophageal ulcers and narrowing and scarring of the esophagus.  It is a result of stomach acid spilling into the esophagus from the relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter (the valve that separates your esophagus from your stomach).

The traditional medical solution has been to block the acid production, which will alleviate the pain and also the damage from occurring.   However, in blocking the acid production, you block a key step in the digestion process. Stomach acid is necessary to digest food, especially protein and micronutrients such as calcium, magnesium, and vitamin B12. Stomach acid activates digestive enzymes in your small intestine, the molecules that break down the food into smaller parts for absorption.  As well, it acts as a barrier from harmful bacteria.  Therefore, blocking acid production from occurring can result in more serious complications such as irritable bowel syndrome, depression, fatigue, dementia, hip fractures and osteoporosis.

So, what can be done?

Firstly, get tested at your doctor for H. Pylori, hiatal hernia and ulcers.  H. Pylori is a bacteria that can exist in the stomach and is a major contributor to ulcers and gastritis (inflammation of the stomach lining). Hiatal hernias and ulcers can sometimes mimic the pain of GERD.  It may be necessary to have an endoscopy to assess for the presence of stomach ulcers before initiating treatment.

Secondly, identify food triggers and sensitivities.  There are several basic food triggers including: fried foods, alcohol, caffeine, soda, spicy food, tomato and citrus.  It is important to be mindful of these common triggers when eating.  In more recent years, it has been found that food sensitivities including dairy and gluten have a strong link to heartburn.  An IgG Food Panel can tell you what foods you are most sensitive to.  Junk food, processed foods and overeating can all contribute to GERD.

Thirdly, talk to your naturopathic doctor about natural remedies to soothe and heal the gut including DGL, glutamine, marshmallow, slippery elm, zinc and magnesium.

Study shows caffeine “perks” us up

Roasted coffee beans, the world's primary sour...

Image via Wikipedia

Let the coffee drinkers of the world rejoice. A recent study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine has discussed a positive relationship between caffeine and depression. This study looked at more than 50,000 women who were free from depression at the beginning of the study. This group was followed for 10 years to observe the relationship between caffeine and depression. Interestingly, those who drank 2 to 3 cups of caffeinated coffee a day had a 15 % decrease in depression, and those that drank 4 cups a day had a 20% decrease.  Those who drank decaf coffee or other beverages with lower caffeine levels such as tea did not show the same association. The study also found that regular coffee drinkers were more likely to drink more alcohol, be current smokers and were less likely to be involved as volunteers or in community groups. They also had less obesity, fewer blood pressure issues and lower rates of diabetes.

The proposed relationship between caffeine and depression is as follows. Depression is caused by an inadequacy in  3 neurotransmitters, serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. A deficit in these neurotransmitters results in changes to brain chemistry thereby producing symptoms of depression such as decreased mood, motivation, activity level, sleep etc. The current thinking is that caffeine works on neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin in the brain thereby mitigating the chemical changes caused by depression.

While we do know that some caffeine increases our alertness, enhances psychomotor performance, and let’s be honest makes people happy, we also know that too much caffeine can cause jitters, palpitations and insomnia. So while this study does bring some interesting possibilities to future mental illness research, it does not mean that we should all run out and overdose on Starbucks.

Magna Health Centre Now Open!

Written by: Dr. Christine Davis, Naturopathic Doctor

The Magna Health Centre is now open!

The Magna Health Centre is a multi-disciplinary clinic that combines the science of sound medical knowledge with the intuition and innovative thinking that embodies the art of medicine.

Comprised of a team of talented primary care and complementary care health practitioners, the centre strives to provide individualized and optimized care to its patients, by combining advanced diagnostics with revolutionary complementary therapies. Practitioners and patients work collectively to create health care solutions that address the root cause of patients’ concerns. The team at the Magna Health Centre includes medical doctors, a naturopathic doctor, a chiropractor, an acupuncturist and a massage therapist.

For more information visit: