Adapted from: “A Call to Women: The Healthy Breast Program and Workbook” by Sat Dharam Kaur, ND
- 1 2/3 cups dry quinoa
- 3 1/3 cups water
- 1 cup chopped or grated carrots
- 3/4 cup chopped parsley (or cilantro)
- 1/2 cup cucumber, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup red pepper, finely chopped
- 1/3 cup sunflower seeds (or 1 can of black beans, drained)
- 4 cloves garlic, minced (can use roasted if desired)
- 1/2 cup soaked* arame, wakame or hijiki (seaweeds)
by Mahalia Freed, ND
Allergy Season Tips
Hay fever (also known as seasonal allergies or allergic rhinitis) is estimated to affect 10-20 % of the population in developed countries. Hay fever occurs when your immune system overreacts to airborne particles, most commonly the pollens of trees, grass, and ragweed. The unfortunately familiar list of symptoms includes runny & itchy nose, itchy, red, watery eyes, sneezing and congestion. People who suffer from seasonal allergies are more likely to develop asthma, bronchitis, sinusitis, ear infections, and other complications. Interestingly, there is also new research suggesting a link between seasonal allergies and depression. Naturopathic medicine offers a variety of treatments that can effectively manage symptoms and bring resolution, with individual plans drawing on nutrition, herbal medicine, constitutional homeopathy and acupuncture. One of my personal favorite herbs is a star in treating allergies, and it is profiled below. Continue reading
Like Forsythias in their opera of yellow, and magnolias in their pink or white blossom-song, fiddlehead season is short, sometimes only 2 weeks. Fiddleheads are wild, their joy fleeting, their origin and taste unique. The fiddlehead is the new growth of an ancient plant family, the ferns. While there are many species of ferns, the fiddleheads available in Ontario markets in late April or early May are usually those of the Ostrich Fern. Interestingly, fiddleheads resist cultivation (they prefer swampy edges of woods), and are one of the few commercially available wild-crafted foods. Fiddleheads taste like…themselves. Some people compare their flavor to a combination of asparagus, green beans and okra. They are great on their own, in pasta salad, in frittata, lightly pickled, with other delicious seasonal veggies. The joy of eating fiddleheads, though, goes beyond their fresh green flavor and nutrient density: There is also the satisfaction we get from being in alignment with what is local and in season – an intellectual satisfaction born of making an ethical, politically-correct food choices, but also a purely physical one, as we nourish our bodies with truly spring food. Increase veggie variety in your diet, join the local seasonal bandwagon, support internal detoxification: try fiddleheads this year! Below is a recipe to get you started. Continue reading
Yes, there is a connection between hormonal balance and exposure to pesticides and certain plastics. That connection is xenoestrogens, an ever-expanding group of synthetic chemicals similar enough to our own estrogens that our bodies respond to them, but foreign enough that we cannot adequately get rid of them. They can build up in our bodies, stimulating estrogen-sensitive tissues and throwing off our delicate hormone balance. Xenoestrogens are linked to breast growth in prepubescent girls, gynecological concerns such as PMS, hot flashes, endometriosis and fibroids, and have clearly been shown to enhance the growth of breast cancer tumors. Studies also suggest that xenoestrogens decrease sperm counts in men, contribute to increased rates of testicular cancer and affect developing reproductive systems in utero. Thus, effective treatment & resolution of any of the above concerns must address this class of chemicals.
Mahalia Freed, ND
Beets have always appealed to my aesthetic sense, with their rich colour, and the beautiful rings that show when you slice them the right way. One of the few vegetables available locally, year round, beets are affordable, nourishing, and easy to prepare. Furthermore, they are a traditional blood building and liver cleansing food. March heralds spring, the season for liver support and cleansing. What better time to get reacquainted with beets?
The pigment that gives purple beets their gorgeous colour, betacyanin, is an antioxidant known to have powerful cancer-fighting properties. In the research, it is particularly effective against colon cancer. Beets are known as a “liver food” due to their betaine content. Betaine, or trimethylglycine, specifically supports phase II liver detoxification. It is also anti-inflammatory. Beyond their fibre content, beets contain folic acid (136 mcg per cup, boiled). While folic acid’s importance for preventing neural tube defects in utero is well known, the nutrient is essential for healthy cell division in general, making a diet rich in folic acid important for cancer and dysplasia-prevention. As well, beets have been researched for their ability to help normalize elevated blood pressure, increase HDL (good cholesterol), and decrease triglycerides. Who could have guessed? For cardiovascular health, liver health, detoxification, and fertility, go, beets!
NB: If your urine or stool is red after consuming beets, don’t be alarmed! It is simply the beet pigments. You may actually use this to assess your bowel transit time and kidney function: how long until you see red?
For more information about beets, from history to nutrition to health benefits, see the write up at World’s Healthiest Foods: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=49
The Chlorinated Villains and Their Impact
By now, you are likely aware of the negative health effects of chlorine-containing chemicals like pesticides, dioxins, and PCBs. We know that these chemicals, which the body is not adapted to process, accumulate in fatty tissue. This causes trouble in the form of breast and other cancers, infertility, endometriosis, hypothyroidism, neurological ailments such as ADD, brain fog and depression, chronic infection, allergies, autoimmune diseases, environmental illness, heart disease, and fatigue (Kaur 2003, Crinnion 2007, Rogers 2002). Alarmingly, the main way women purge these chemicals is through breast-feeding. A baby breast fed for 6 months receives more than 5 times the daily limit of PCBs set for a 150 lb adult (Kaur 2003)! Fortunately, there is another way to expel these toxins from our body fat: infrared saunas.
Supporting Detoxification and Immune Function Through Lymphatic Health
The lymphatic system is central to our health, yet it is often overlooked in western medicine, both by practitioners and by health-conscious individuals. Working in concert with the blood circulatory system, lymphatic function in fact supports every other system in the body by providing nutrients, draining wastes, and coordinating immune system activity. White blood cells – the so-called “soldiers” of our immune system – are produced and transported throughout the body via the lymphatic system. As well, lymphatic channels perform a crucial function in draining away waste material from virtually every cell and organ in the body. Unlike our blood circulatory system, the lymphatic system has no pump. Lymph moves when we move. When we are sluggish, so is our lymph, and this is recognized as having a significant impact on our health. Sluggish lymphatic drainage can lead to nausea, fatigue, swelling and joint pain. Symptoms associated with lymph blockage include breast tenderness, fibrocystic breasts, worsened allergies & food sensitivities, sinusitis, more frequent colds and ‘flus, fatigue, and skin breakouts. Many practitioners associate cancer with lymph blockages. In general, if lymph function is compromised, detoxification and the immune system are compromised.
Attain & maintain optimal lymphatic health by incorporating some of the strategies below:
Sunshine! Blossoms! Longer days! What do our bodies need, as we move gratefully into Spring & Summer and increased outward activity? Part of any naturopathic treatment plan is optimizing nutrition. Just as in a garden you prepare and enrich the soil before you plant, so food choices nourish your body, so that you may flourish and achieve your health goals. Whether your current concern is increasing energy or enhancing fertility, ensuring that your foundational nutrients are as strong as possible is a priority. And, it is something you can do for yourself and for those with whom you share meals.