Friday, July 30, 2010

Lovely yoga in Hintonburg Ottawa

I finally have recovered from a wrist flare enough to try a yoga class, and this Sunday enjoyed a grueling Kundalini class with a friend which really tested my limits. It was a love/hate class. I felt good for being there, but did it ever challenge me while I was in it.  I felt great afterwards, until the next day when walking was a little hard. I'm fortunate to live down the street from Pranashanti Yoga Studio, which has a great range of classes. The setting is blissful as well.

Then (go me!) on Thursday, I enjoyed a 90 minutes Yin Yoga class. This style, called the quiet yoga, has you hold poses for five minutes each to get deep stretches into your connective tissues. It seems like it should be easy, but as you breath through the poses, the stretches get deeper, and your body begins to tell you exactly where you are holding problem spots. Again, challenging but great. At the end of the class, while I was lying in Savasana, my body was radiating contentment from all of the deep work it had just done. I felt like I had spent an hour with a massage therapist, when it was really all me.

I also had to laugh at the instructor's disclosure that she was type A during the day, and Yin Yoga helped her balance this. Type As, if you don't know, are people always on the go who feel a lot of time pressure. They are doers, and active, and can race by you like a whirlwind. That would be me. I jump out of bed, and the day starts in full speed. Yin really appeals to me as a way to counterbalance the full steam ahead pace of the rest of my life, which I'm trying to moderate.

Paying attention to balancing my life is working out really well.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Celiac disease

A recent study by the Mayo clinic shows that the rate of celiac disease has increased by about 400% in the past 5 decades! Celiac is a reaction against gluten, found in many grains, which can lead to an autoimmune reaction in your small intestine. When people with celiac eat grains with gluten, the small intestine is damaged, which can lead to a range of symptoms, including digestive problems, rashes, headaches, depression, joint and muscle aches, and many more.

Unlike many diseases, there is a "cure" for celiac: avoid all food containing gluten.

Rheumatoid arthritis is more common in people with celiac disease, and they are both autoimmune diseases, meaning that the body's immune system attacks the body when it shouldn't.

I'm still waiting on my IgG testing for food sensitivities (update: I got the results back today and I only have a few IgG mediated sensitivities, one however is wheat, along with oysters, asparagus, mushrooms and lettuce!), and while I doubt I have celiac, I also thought I should rule it out as related to my arthritis and fatigue. I found a home blood test that is offered in Canada, which is pretty cool. Because 20% of the population has the genes related to celiac (although not all of these people develop the disease), I figure it is best to rule it out. When I get my test on Tuesday, I'll give a review of how well it worked, and more importantly, whether there were any interesting results!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Probiotics and you...

In addition to the research on Omega 3s, there seems to be an increasing amount of research being done on probiotics. Probiotics are ‘Live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host' (World Health Organization).

Did you know that there is apparently about 3 pounds (1.5 kilos) of bacteria in your digestive system? (However, I am still looking for article that references this fact!)

These micro-organisms have three important functions: digestive; control of digestive and immune cell development; and a protective barrier effect.

Bacteria help digestive parts of your food and synthesise vitamin K, which is required for blood clotting. There are other digestive benefits which I may document in a later post!

From doing studies with mice in sterile environments (where they have no bacteria in their gut!), scientists have learned that bacteria play an important role in determining how the cells lining your digestive tract are formed and organized. As well, they play a role in the development of the lymph tissue around your digestive tract.

Finally, bacteria also help by adhering to your gut lining, so that other harmful bacteria may not be able to hold on there and make you ill.

It's amazing what your digestive system does. And on that note, I'm going to go eat some of my home made yogurt, which contains a much higher level of probiotics than most commercially made yogurt. Yum!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Omega 3 fatty acids, inflammation and depression

So this week is all down hill with my joints, and typing this post is not a heck of a lot of fun! However, staying connected with people is important.

Some interesting articles have been coming up in my search for relevant studies. I'm still amazed at how important Omega-3 fatty acids are. For example, here is a recent review that covers how and why they are important to inflammation, which for my arthritis, is one of the things I need to get under control.

Fatty acids from fish: the anti-inflammatory potential of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids

What I find very interesting is that it is not only "physical" disorders that respond to omega-3's, but mental health problems as well. A recent study showed that omega-3s had an effect comparable to antidepressants for mild to moderate depression without anxiety. That's pretty amazing. Although I wholeheartedly support the use of pharmaceuticals when called for, if we could intervene earlier with some dietary modifications, or simple supplementation, that may be better.

One final thought before I rest my wrists: Depression is being increasingly seen as an inflammatory disorder. Isn't that interesting?

Saturday, July 3, 2010

More healthy snacks for my kids

nutrition geekery/

The goal for the day is to bake/make a bunch of healthy snacks for the kids so that instead of sending the to get a granola bar mid afternoon, or a bear paw, they get something that has more nutritional value. I wonder if I can make pumpkin granola bars for them?

Look at the number of times SUGAR appears in one of their favorite snacks.

Ingredients: Granola (rolled oats, rolled whole wheat, brown sugar, sunflower oil, fructose-glucose, dried coconut, honey, a few other things) more glucose, chocolate chips (sugar, chocolate, cocoa butter, soy lecithin, salt, vannilin), crisp rice (rice flour, sugar, barley malt, salt) glycerin, sunflower oil, sugar, sorbitol, salt, molasses, flavours, soy lecithin, veggie oil

*guilt guilt guilt*

The more I read about nutrition, the more I can't believe I stopped  paying attention to my family's diet. Here's the added sugar recommendation from the USDA:

Significantly reduce intake of foods containing added sugars and solid fats because these dietary components contribute excess calories and few, if any, nutrients. In addition, reduce sodium intake and lower intake of refined grains, especially refined grains that are coupled with added sugar, solid fat, and sodium.

And I love this recommendation from the USDA's 2010 report on Dietary Guidelines for Americans:

Shift food intake patterns to a more plant-based diet that emphasizes vegetables, cooked dry beans and peas, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. In addition, increase the intake of seafood and fat-free and low-fat milk and milk products, and consume only moderate amounts of lean meats, poultry, and eggs.

/nutrition geekery

Thursday, July 1, 2010

And balancing sweetness with science

I've also been remiss in sharing with you my evidence based explorations. Frankly, I've been doing more cooking than reading. But reading has been happening.

An interesting report that was released by the US Department of Agriculture is here. It is the basis of their to be recommendations for dietary guidelines. You might find Resource 3 in the supplement section interesting as it summarizes recent studies looking at the nutritional composition of "conventionally" farmed foods and organic farmed foods. However, its important to consider that what is really needed is a large number of studies, noting a large number of variables (not simply conventional vs. organic, but also other aspects of the cultivation and transportation techniques that may be related to health).

Okay, so there you have a little bit of evidence to chew on while you eat your Banana Cocoa Creme Pudding!