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Vitamin Profile: Vitamin A | Mindful Healing | Naturopathic Doctor Mississauga

Vitamin Profile: Vitamin A

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Vitamin Profile: Vitamin A | Mindful Healing | Naturopathic Doctor Mississauga

You’ve probably heard the advice “be sure to get your vitamins” – whether from your parents while growing up, or your doctor.

Maybe it was in response to health issues you’ve experienced.

Or maybe it was just general health advice.

I’m a Streetsville Mississauga naturopathic doctor, and I want to help you to better understand what all of the various vitamins do.

Today we’ll take a close look at vitamin A, and its benefits.

Keep reading to learn more.

What Is Vitamin A?

Vitamin A, although generally referred to as one nutrient, is actually the name of a group of compounds which include retinal, retinyl esters, and retinol.

The vitamin A which is found in food comes in two forms:

● Provitamin A – alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, and beta-cryptoxanthin. These are forms of vitamin A found in plant-based foods such as fruits and vegetables.

● Preformed vitamin A – this is found in animal products such as chicken, fish, and dairy.

In order for the body to be able to use vitamin A, it must be converted to retinal and retinoic acid, which are its active forms.

As a fat-soluble vitamin, excess vitamin A which cannot be used by the body is stored in fat tissue.

Benefits Of Vitamin A

There are a number of reasons to ensure you’re getting enough vitamin A, either through diet or supplementation.

It helps your skin, eyes, and bones, is good for your immune system, and may even help stave off cancer.

Keep reading as we look at these benefits in more detail.

1. It Has Anti-Cancer Properties

There are a lot of products and supplements which claim to “cure cancer”.

Let’s be very clear – there is no supplement or product which can cure or out-right prevent cancer from forming.

There are too many factors at play for any one supplement to be able to make this claim.

There are, however, substances which can help to lower the risk of cancer developing, and vitamin A is one of them.

A 2017 article in the Annals of Hematology showed vitamin A can assist in lowering the risk of cervical cancer.

It has also been found to lower the risk of pancreatic cancer and bladder cancer.

For more naturopathic cancer care solutions, contact us here at the Mindful Healing Clinic.

2. It’s Good For Your Skin

The secret to clear, glowing skin?

It may just be vitamin A.

Well, vitamin A might be a part of it, at least.

A deficiency in this nutrient may lead to an increased risk of acne development due to the overproduction of keratin in hair follicles.

This would result in blockages in your pores which make it harder for dead skin cells to be removed.

3. It’s Good For Your Eyes

Vitamin A is important for preserving and promoting eye health.

It helps preserve eyesight, and prevents night blindness.

A 2015 article in JAMA Ophthalmology found a link between vitamin A consumption and declines in vision with age.

What vitamin A is good for | Mindful Healing | Naturopathic Doctor Mississauga

4. It’s Good For Your Bones

When you think of bone health, you probably think of calcium, and perhaps vitamin D.

Vitamin A, however, also plays a role in proper bone growth and maintenance.

An analysis published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health showed individuals with lower levels of vitamin A in their blood were at higher risk of bone fractures.

5. It Supports Your Immune System

A 2012 article in The Proceedings of the Nutrition Society found vitamin A deficiency resulted in higher-than-average levels of inflammation which decreases immune function.

Another article, in Expert Opinion Biological Therapy notes that providing treatment for vitamin A deficiency can decrease the risk of death from malaria and measles in children, in countries where these are prevalent.

Symptoms Of Vitamin A Deficiency

There are a number of risks associated with vitamin A deficiency. In this section we will review some of them.

Individuals at higher risk for vitamin A deficiency include people with cystic fibrosis, premature infants, and those who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Low vitamin A levels are a leading cause of blindness in children across the world.

Deficiency also increases the risk and severity of diarrhea or measles.

Pregnant individuals with low levels of vitamin A are at increased risk of anemia, and even death.

Other, less serious issues which can result from low vitamin A include skin issues such as acne and hyperkeratosis, which is a thickening of the outer layer of skin.

Dietary Sources Of Vitamin A

There are a number of dietary sources of both preformed vitamin A and provitamin A.

Some sources of preformed vitamin A include:

  • Trout
  • Eggs – yolks specifically
  • King mackerel
  • Beef liver
  • Liver sausage
  • Butter
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Salmon
  • Cod liver oil
  • Chicken liver

While sources of provitamin A, such as beta-carotene include:

  • Butternut squash
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Carrots
  • Kale
  • Swiss chard
  • Spinach
  • Dandelion greens
  • Parsley
  • Cabbage
  • Pumpkin

Should You Supplement With Vitamin A?

Because it is fat-soluble, if you have too much vitamin A, it is stored in the body and excessive amounts can lead to toxic levels.

Side effects of vitamin A toxicity include:

  • Joint pain
  • Nausea
  • Liver damage
  • Sensitivity to sunlight
  • Headache
  • Vision problems
  • Confusion
  • Itchy skin
  • Low appetite

Due to this, you need to be careful if considering supplementation with vitamin A.

However, those who are vegan or vegetarian may have difficulty getting enough preformed vitamin A in their diets, as most of the dietary sources of this form of the nutrient are animal products.

If you are worried about not getting enough vitamin A for any reason, book an appointment with us at the Mindful Healing Clinic.

Book An Appointment At The Mindful Healing Clinic

Are you worried about nutrient deficiencies?

Did you read this article and wonder if you’re getting enough vitamin A – or any other vital nutrient in your diet?

At The Mindful Healing Clinic, we can help.

We’ll work with you to determine any nutrient deficiencies you may have and offer natural solutions to help ensure your body is getting everything it needs to perform at its peak.

Contact us today to set up an appointment.

What Can Your Pee Teach You About Your Health? | Mindful Healing | Naturopathic Doctor Mississauga

What Can Your Pee Teach You About Your Health?

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What Can Your Pee Teach You About Your Health? | Mindful Healing | Naturopathic Doctor Mississauga

There are certain factors most of us look at to get an idea of our overall health.

Did you sleep well, and wake up feeling rested – or groggy?

In general, do you eat a healthy diet, or is it fast food every night?

Is regular exercise a part of your routine?

One factor that may not be top of mind when it comes to health indicators is your urine.

Admit it, you’ve looked from time to time, and perhaps noticed sometimes the colour, or odour is different.

Well, what if I told you that, as gross as it may sound, you should be paying attention to your pee – it can tell you a lot.

It may also be an early warning sign of kidney damage, which is one of the side effects of stress and also a result of many conditions.

Keep reading to learn more about the things your pee can tell you about your health.

From A Physiological Perspective, What Does Pee Do?

Pee is primarily composed of a combination of water, electrolytes, salt, urea, and uric acid.

It’s made by your kidneys as they filter waste products from your blood.

You may have noticed your urine is usually darker first thing in the morning, when you’ve been sleeping all night, but generally lighter later in the day when you’ve had a few glasses of water (or cups of coffee).

Perhaps you detect a stronger smell after you’ve eaten certain foods.

Your body gets rid of waste by-products and extra fluids through your urine in order to prevent it from building up in your body and making you sick.

Therefore, factors such as what and how much you’ve eaten or drank, and when the last time you did so all play a role in how your urine looks and smells.

Let’s have a look at some of the ways our urine is communicating with us.

What Can The Colour Of Your Pee Tell You?

In healthy individuals, urine should be a pale yellow colour.

Sometimes it’s lighter, or even clear if you’ve been taking in a lot of fluids, and this can be a sign of over-hydration, while darker urine means you need to drink more fluids.

Additionally,first thing in the morning, your urine is often darker than usual – this is because it’s more concentrated since it’s probably been seven or eight hours since you last had something to drink.

Urine which is too-light or too-dark are probably the most common variations you will see in colour, however, there are others to watch for:

  • White: This is a sign of excess phosphate or calcium; also an indicator of a urinary tract infection
  • Amber: Sign of dehydration
  • Dark Brown: Possible indicator of kidney or liver issues
  • Orange: Possibly due to food or medication, but can also be due to liver problems. Vitamin B12 supplementation can also cause orange pee.
  • Blue or green: Could be from food dyes or medication, but may also be bacterial. In infants could be a sign of blue diaper syndrome
  • Pink or red: Sign of blood in the urine. Could also be due to food such as beets, carrots, or berries, or because of medication.

What Can The Smell Of Your Pee Tell You?

You probably don’t notice the smell of your pee most of the time, but when you do, it’s probably because it’s quite strong.

Certain foods are known for producing pee that smells bad, the most notable being asparagus.

There a number of factors that can affect the way your pee smells, so here’re a few scents to be aware of:

  • Ammonia: Urine that smells like ammonia can be a sign of dehydration
  • Sweet: If your pee smells sweet, it might be a sign of a urinary tract infection
  • Fruit: This may be a sign of type 2 diabetes
  • Foul: If your urine has a foul smell to it, this may be indicative of a sexually transmitted infection

urine test and what it can tell you about your health | Mindful Healing | Naturopathic Doctor Mississauga

What Can The Translucency Of Your Pee Tell You?

We’ve already discussed what healthy urine should look like – it should be light yellow, and only have a mild smell to it.

It should also be clear, and not cloudy – and if it’s not, there are a number of possible reasons for this.

Some of the reasons your pee may be cloudy include:

  • Vaginitis
  • Infected or inflamed prostate
  • Dehydration
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney stones
  • Sexually transmitted infection

What If You Pee Frequently?

Do you ever feel like you’re constantly getting up to use the toilet – even though you aren’t drinking excessive amounts of fluids?

This may be due to ageing, and your bladder losing some of its capacity to hold liquids.

It’s also a common side effect of pregnancy.

Increased consumption of alcohol or caffeine, as well as certain medications like spironolactone and Prozac among many others, can also result in a constant need to pee.

Generally speaking though, if you are pregnant, drinking more than usual, or on medication where peeing is a side-effect, you’ll be aware of this.

If you’re peeing more than normal and aren’t sure why, it could be because of one of the following reasons:

  • Urinary tract infection
  • Problems with the prostate
  • Diabetes

If you find yourself peeing more than usual, and you can’t figure out why, book an appointment here at the Mindful Healing Clinic.

What If There’s Blood In Your Pee?

We talked already about how to recognize blood in your urine – typically this will result in it being a reddish-pink colour.

But what does this mean?

Blood in the urine is often a sign of a medical condition.

Potential causes of this may include:

  • Cancer of the bladder or kidney
  • Injury or disease of the kidney
  • Bladder/kidney stones
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Enlarged prostate

The bottom line is blood in the urine can be a sign of something very serious, and if you notice it you should contact your doctor or naturopath right away.

What If It Burns When You Pee?

As with everything else that could be unusual with your pee, if it hurts or “burns” to urinate, it’s likely a sign of an underlying medical condition.

Painful urination is most commonly indicative of a urinary tract infection, but it could also be due to:

  • Sexually transmitted infection
  • Prostate disease
  • Prostate cancer
  • Inflammation of the urethra
  • Vaginal inflammation

If you have a child who is complaining of painful peeing, check their bath products, as chemicals in bubble baths and soaps can sometimes lead to irritation.

Book An Appointment At The Mindful Healing Clinic

Have you noticed some of these signs and feel that something is just not quite right with your urine?

Are you worried it could be a sign of an underlying health issue, and want to take action?

I’m Dr. Maria at the Mindful Healing Clinic and I want to help.

I’ll get to the bottom of what is causing any issues you’re experiencing, and offer natural solutions to help your body heal.

Contact me today to set up an appointment.

foods to eat and to avoid to improve your focus | Mindful Healing | Naturopathic Doctor Mississauga

Having Trouble Focusing? Here’s What Might Be Causing It

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Having Trouble Focusing? Here's What Might Be Causing It | Mindful Healing | Naturopathic Doctor Mississauga

We’ve all had days where we couldn’t focus on work.

Perhaps you’ve found yourself trying to read an important document, only to realize you’ve been re-reading the same sentence over and over again.

Or you try to get started on a particular task only to find yourself constantly distracted.

Seeing as how difficulty concentrating is one of the side effects of stress, you may have been feeling more unfocused than usual this year.

Because – let’s face it – 2020 has been a more stressful year than normal.

Sometimes we refer to difficulty focusing as “brain fog”.

Keep reading to learn more about what brain fog is, and what might be causing it.

What Is Brain Fog?

Also known as mental fatigue, mental fog, or, clouding of consciousness, brain fog is defined by:

  • Inability to concentrate
  • Lack of focus
  • Memory difficulties
  • Lowered mental clarity

While not a medical condition in and of itself, brain fog is generally a symptom of another medical condition.

What Causes Brain Fog?

There are a number of potential causes of brain fog.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the conditions it can be associated with.

1. Poor Nutrition

The foods you eat have an important effect on how you feel.

Eating foods you have an allergy or intolerance to can result in a number of side effects, including brain fog.

Common food allergies which may result in brain fog include:

  • Dairy
  • Gluten
  • Peanuts
  • MSG
  • Aspartame

Not getting enough of certain nutrients can also affect brain function.

In particular, vitamin B12 deficiency may result in dementia, depression, paranoia, and sometimes irreversible neurological damage.

foods to eat and to avoid to improve your focus | Mindful Healing | Naturopathic Doctor Mississauga

2. Poor Sleeping Habits

You probably know what it feels like to not get enough sleep.

When this happens, you feel slow and sluggish, and your reactions aren’t as quick as when you’re fully rested.

If this happens once in a while, most of us can push through, perhaps with the help of an extra coffee or two.

However chronic insomnia or lack of sleep can have long term effects and interfere with your health and relationships.

Risk factors for insomnia include:

  • Anxiety and depression
  • High stress
  • Age – older adults are at higher risk
  • Sex – women are at greater risk
  • Certain medications, including SSRI drugs like Prozac, anabolic steroids, and dopamine agonists.
  • Caffeine and other stimulants
  • Obesity
  • Changes in the environment
  • Poor sleep hygiene

3. High Stress

Everyone will experience some stress in their lives – and at times it can even be beneficial.

During the stress response, your body releases hormones which help get you ready to respond to situations by increasing your heart rate and breathing in order to send more oxygen to the body.

If the stress response doesn’t subside when the stressor is gone, however, it can result in symptoms which affect your overall health and well-being.

The physiological effects of stress affecting concentration include headaches,depression, and insomnia.

Stress can also lead to mental fatigue which makes it difficult to concentrate.

4. Hormonal Issues

Changes in hormone levels can result in difficulties with memory and concentration.

For example, during pregnancy, levels of progesterone and estrogen increase, and this can cause what is sometimes referred to as “pregnancy brain”, memory issues and short-term cognitive impairment.

On the other side, lowered estrogen levels during menopause can have the same effects.

Some ways to counteract the memory issues which come with menopause include:

  • Getting enough quality sleep
  • Exercise
  • A healthy, nutritious diet
  • Doing brain teasers such as crossword puzzles, quizzes, and Sudoku

5. Certain Pharmaceutical Drugs

Brain fog is a side effect of many pharmaceuticals on the market.

Some examples include:

  • Flurazepam, a benzodiazepine similar to Valium, used as treatment for insomnia.
  • Prednisone, a steroid used to treat different types of inflammation and many conditions.
  • Escitalopram, an anti-depressant and anti-anxiety drug.

These are just a few examples of drugs which can cause difficulty concentration – always be sure to read any warning labels on your medications and be aware especially if they note that they can cause drowsiness.

6. Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is one of the world’s most widespread causes of chronic pain.

Those with fibromyalgia often experience fatigue and heightened pain response.

Another side effect is brain fog, specifically memory difficulties, and confusion.

The reason for these side effects is unknown, although it may be linked to nervous system disruptions which in-turn affect blood flow to the brain.

Book An Appointment At The Mindful Healing Clinic

Are you experiencing difficulty concentrating?

Having trouble remembering even simple things?

Are you worried this might be the side effect of a larger issue?

I’m Dr. Maria, a naturopathic doctor in Mississauga, and I’m here to help.

I’ll help you get to the bottom of your brain fog – figure out what is causing it and offer natural solutions which get to the root of the problem.

Contact me today to set up a consultation.

Is A Raw Food Diet A Good Idea? | Mindful Healing | Naturopathic Doctor Mississauga

Is A Raw Food Diet A Good Idea?

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Is A Raw Food Diet A Good Idea? | Mindful Healing | Naturopathic Doctor Mississauga

For many people, moving to a raw food diet has been not just a good idea but a great one.

It may be ideological, purely for health reasons, or an attempt at how to lose weight and keep it off.

Whatever the reason, though, it’s important to consider all the impacts a raw food diet can have.

Below, you can find out more about how a raw food diet works, but it’s also a good idea to book a nutritional counselling session to find out more.

What Is A Raw Food Diet?

In a raw food diet, seventy percent or more of the food you eat will be completely raw.

You can heat food to a certain extent – but only up to 118 degrees Fahrenheit (or 48 degrees Celsius).

Beyond this point, certain nutrients can be damaged in the process.

The majority of the raw food diet includes vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, beans and sprouted grains.

Benefits Of A Raw Food Diet

Let’s start by looking at the many benefits of a raw food diet.

Please note that although we’ve expanded below on some of the primary benefits, there are other benefits.

It can also be very good for your skin, the environment, and can help reduce your chances of getting certain chronic diseases.

1. It Focuses On Whole Foods

The average diet leans away from dairy, meat, and grain-dense foods.

When you drop these from your diet, what’s left are the whole foods, including vegetables, nuts, seeds, and fruits.

Broadly speaking, these foods can bring you most of the nutrients you need to stay healthy.

This diet also ends up being low in sugars, sodium, preservatives, and additives.

2. It Can Be An Effective Weight Loss Tool

A very common ‘side effect’ of eating a raw food diet that I hear from my patients is that they lose weight.

When patients start to eat whole, raw foods, they start getting high-quality calories.

Part of the reason we eat too much is because our bodies require the nutrients, and will keep us hungry until it gets what it needs.

If we eat foods with low-density nutrients, we will have to eat more to get what’s needed.

Meanwhile, eating high-quality calories means you’ll need fewer calories.

It’s a very pleasant side effect, as side effects go.

As a result, the raw food diet has developed a bit of a reputation for being an effective tool for weight loss.

3. It’s High In Fibre

Instead of getting fibre from breads and other fast food, you’ll be getting the fibre from more natural sources – which are often higher in fibre than their counterparts.

All that added fibre, in the form of fruits and vegetables, will help clean out your system, provide bulk to your diet and feeling fuller longer, and will help keep you comfortably regular.

4. It Retains Nutrients That Cooking Would Otherwise Destroy

That’s right – when you cook your food, you’re mostly destroying some of the most beneficial nutrients, or leaching them out into cooking water.

By protecting those nutrients, you’re obtaining more of them from the same amount of food, increasing the chances your body is getting what it needs from your meals.

In particular, vitamins A, C, D, E, K, and several of the B vitamins can be damaged by the process of cooking.

5. It Virtually Eliminates Processed Foods

Everyone knows that processed foods are bad for them, but it can be tough to keep away from.

Another factor is that we don’t truly listen to our body’s signals well enough, and instead of giving it what it’s actually wanting – whole, nutritious food – we are filling it with processed junk.

When you commit to a raw food diet, it necessitates dropping processed foods – however, many people find they don’t miss them once their diet transition is complete.

the benefits of a raw food diet | Mindful Healing | Naturopathic Doctor Mississauga

Drawbacks Of A Raw Food Diet

Of course, every change will have negatives as well as positives.

Part of making a wise decision for you is to look at the drawbacks as carefully as the benefits.

At The Mindful Healing Clinic, we stand for patient education, however, and want to be sure you have all the information you need.

1. It’s Highly Restrictive

Although there are more and more workarounds being discovered by raw food chefs, you just can’t get past the fact that everything you eat on this diet is essentially going to be uncooked.

The cooking process allows for many modifications in how the food is delivered, and such options will be gone.

It’s not just that juicy steak we’re talking about – items like tea and coffee will also be out of bounds, because of the roasting or manufacturing process.

Anything canned is also off the table.

2. It’s Hard On Your Digestive System

Some people have stronger stomachs than others, but the raw food diet can still surprise the hardiest.

One of the reasons is that the fibre you will get plentifully can lead to bloating and gas, in particular a specific type of fibre called cellulose.

The cooking process breaks these fibres down, which makes vegetables easier to digest.

Blending your food can also make these fibres easier to digest, hence why many raw vegans rely heavily on blenders.

3. Cooking Increases The Availability Of Some Nutrients

Now, while we largely retain the best nutrients by eschewing the cooking process, there are times when cooking actually improves the availability of a nutrient.

One example is tomatoes: when cooked, they have up to four times more lycopene.

By adhering to a strict raw diet, you won’t be able to acquire these nutrients in as great quantities.

4. It Increases The Risk Of Some Foodborne Illnesses

Although most people who follow a raw food diet are vegans or vegetarians, there are people who follow the diet that are not.

Yes, you can eat raw meat or fish, in certain situations, as well as raw milk, and other dairy products made using raw milk.

However, the heating process is beneficial for killing off bacteria.

By eating only meat, fish and dairy in their raw state, you’re more likely to be hit with a foodborne bacterium and fall ill.

5. It’s Difficult To Meet Some Nutrient Needs

Protein can be difficult to get in sufficient quantities when on a raw food diet, even if you still eat some limited meat or dairy.

Vegetable-based proteins commonly used by vegans are not all appropriate on a raw food diet, further complicating the issue.

Is A Raw Food Diet Right For You?

Everyone’s needs are different, and everyone has different constraints, so adjustments must always be made for those with considerations.

However, it can be a healthy diet, if followed correctly and if it matches your lifestyle.

Because the answer to this question really depends on each individual, it’s the reason any diet changes require medical check-in first.

As a naturopathic doctor in Mississauga, we are qualified to help you determine the answer for that.

Book An Appointment At The Mindful Healing Clinic

If you’ve read both the pros and the cons above, and you’re interested in trying out a raw food diet, we’d be very pleased to help you along your path.

Book an appointment with The Mindful Healing Clinic to get a qualified medical professional review your current health and make sure that you won’t be causing more harm than good.

We have the experience to help you find just the right diet and plan to help you achieve your health goals.

The Health Benefits Of Carrots | Mindful Healing | Naturopathic Doctor Mississauga

The Health Benefits Of Carrots

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The Health Benefits Of Carrots | Mindful Healing | Naturopathic Doctor Mississauga

When it comes to healthy meal planning there is a lot of conflicting information available.

Should you go vegan, or pivot in the opposite direction with keto?

Is paleo for you, or will you visit South Beach?

Or perhaps you just want to eat sensibly, in a way which makes sense for you.

Today we will have a closer look at a vegetable that is good for you, jam-packed full of nutrients, with a wide array of health benefits.

What’s more, it’s welcome in just about any healthy diet you can imagine.

Keep reading to learn more about the mighty carrot.

Why Are Carrots Different Colours?

Picture a carrot.

It’s probably orange.

Maybe it’s in the hand of a certain cartoon rabbit.

But there’s a lot more to carrot than the orange variety popularized by Bugs Bunny.

I’m Dr. Maria Cavallazzi, ND, a naturopathic doctor in Streetsville Mississauga and I’m going to help demystify some of the different types of carrots for you.

Let’s start by looking at why carrots come in a whole rainbow of colours.

Red, orange, yellow, magenta, purple, and even white.

And each colour of the carrot comes with different benefits.

Orange carrots are high in beta-carotene, purple carrots are high in anthocyanin, a type of flavonoid, and could be orange, red, or white on the inside.

What’s The Deal With Baby Carrots?

When you want a healthy snack between meals, sometimes you might reach for “baby carrots”.

But what exactly are these bite-sized snacks?

They can refer to each whole carrots which are harvest before they are fully grown, but more often they’re fully grown carrots that are machine-cut, polished, and peeled into the easy-to-eat snack you’re familiar with.

Because they start from the same source as fully-grown carrots, baby carrots have the same nutrient profile as their larger counterparts and carry with them the same health benefits.

Health Benefits Of Carrots

Whether as part of your dinner, or a quick snack in between meals, carrots are jam-packed full of health benefits.

Let’s take a look at some of the reasons you’ll want to add more to your diet.

why carrots are so good for your health | Mindful Healing | Naturopathic Doctor Mississauga

1. They’re Nutrient Dense

Carrots are packed full of important vitamins and minerals your body needs.

These nutrients include:

● Vitamin A
Vitamin C
● Vitamin K
Vitamin B6
Vitamin B7
● Potassium

2. They’re Good For Your Eyes (No, Really)

You may have heard rumours carrots can help improve your eyesight.

But is there any truth to this, or is it just an old wives’ tale?

As it turns out, they might just be something to this claim.

A 2013 study in the Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics notes carrots have an extremely high vitamin A content, which is important for eye health.

People with low vitamin A levels experience night blindness more often than those with higher levels.

Additionally, beta-carotene protects your eyes from the sun, and reduces your odds of developing cataracts.

3. They’re Good For Your Heart

Cardiovascular disease is the second leading cause of death in Canada, so if you can take simple measures to protect your heart, why wouldn’t you?

As it turns out, eating carrots is one way you can do this.

A study in the European Journal of Nutrition found eating carrots reduced cholesterol and triglyceride levels in rats.

It also increased antioxidant levels which are also linked to heart-health.

4. They’re Good For Your Immune System

Carrots are a source of vitamin C, which is known for its immune-boosting properties.

It is used by the body to produce collagen which is important for wound healing, and the function of immune cells.

Vitamin C consumed when the immune system is under stress .

5. They’re Low On The Glycemic Index

Carrots are a sweet vegetable, however, they are relatively low in sugar overall.

Because they are low on the glycemic index (GI), carrots won’t cause a blood sugar spike.

This means they are safe for people with either type 1 diabetesor type 2 diabetes, and other concerns regarding blood sugar levels.

6. They Can Help With Digestive Issues

Carrots contain both soluble and insoluble fibre.

Soluble fibres feed the good bacteria in your gut, which is important to keep your gut healthy.

Insoluble fibres such as cellulose and lignin help combat constipation and promote regularity.

7. They Can Reduce Your Risk Of Cancer

Some of the compounds found in carrots may be linked to a reduced risk of cancer.

Cancer risk is increased by an abundance of free radicals in the body, and this can be counteracted by antioxidants.

Carrots are high in carotenoids, such as beta carotene, as well as vitamins A and C which are both antioxidants.

Specific links have been found showing a relationship between carrots or carrot juice and lower risks of prostate cancer, leukemia, and lung cancer.

8. They Can Help You Lose Weight

Carrots are a low calorie, and high fibre food, it makes sense carrots would be beneficial for weight loss.

A study in the British Journal of Nutrition found subjects who ate carrots with a meal felt increased feelings of satiety and ate fewer calories for the remainder of the day.

Book An Appointment At The Mindful Healing Clinic

Do you worry your diet may be lacking?

Despite trying to eat well and balanced meals, do you feel sluggish throughout the day, and wonder if it might be because you aren’t getting enough of a particular vitamin?

Here at the Mindful Healing Clinic, we want to help.

I’m Dr. Maria Cavallazzi, N.D., and I offer nutritional guidance which can help you fill any gaps in your diet, and get you feeling your best again.

Contact me today to set up a consultation, and let me show you how naturopathic medicine can help you.

How To Bounce Back After Bingeing On Junk Food | Mindful Healing | Naturopathic Doctor Mississauga

How To Bounce Back After Bingeing On Junk Food

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How To Bounce Back After Bingeing On Junk Food | Mindful Healing | Naturopathic Doctor Mississauga

We’ve all done it.

After weeks spent following a healthier lifestyle, you get a craving for a food you don’t get to eat very often.

Just a little bit won’t hurt.

But before you know it, you’ve binged on an entire family-size bag of chips and a whole sleeve of cookies.

It’s not a great feeling, but you can come back from it.

With support from a local naturopathic doctor, you can learn how to bounce back after bingeing on junk food, and how to better manage your diet to safeguard yourself against future binges.

The obvious best choice is to avoid junk food, but nobody’s perfect.

Let’s take a look at what happens after a junk food binge, and what you can do to help yourself bounce back from it.

What Happens When You Binge On Junk Food?

A “binge” is defined as an episode where you eat a large amount of food in a short period of time, often to the point where you feel uncomfortably full.

A binge also usually involves food that’s high in fat, carbs, or sugar—we don’t typically talk about binge-eating fruit and vegetables.

When you binge on junk food, your blood sugar rises, which can lead to arterial inflammation and chronic disease.

It’s also hard to break the cycle of bingeing, because typical binge foods tend to be addictive.

In fact, one 2007 study found that the chemical reward your brain gives you for intensely sweet food is stronger than the chemical reward you get from a hit of cocaine.

But all hope is not lost.

There are ways to come back from a binge.

Keep reading to learn how you can recover after eating too much.

How To Recover From A Junk Food Binge And Get Back On Track

Even though you may feel consumed by guilt and shame, there are ways to come back from a binge.

One bad moment doesn’t mean you’ve ruined your life or your health forever.

Check out this list of things you can do after a binge to get back on track.

1. First, Be Kind To Yourself

Don’t beat yourself up.

Junk food is named that for a reason, and you probably already know all the reasons why you should avoid it.

But willpower can only last so long.

2020 has been a hell of a year, and sometimes when you’re dealing with a particularly difficult period in your life, food can be an important source of comfort.

You probably feel bad enough physically, and being hard on yourself emotionally isn’t going to help.

Take a moment to acknowledge your feelings of discomfort and then do something nice for yourself that doesn’t involve food.

Remind yourself that tomorrow is another day and you can start fresh.

2. Go To Bed, And Get A Good Night’s Sleep

After a binge, make sure you get a full 7-9 hours of sleep.

Getting enough sleep means that you’re less likely to eat high-carb and high-fat food the following day.

A 2013 study found that people who got fewer hours of sleep were more likely to overeat the following day, and consume more calories from carbs and fat.

People who slept for longer ate less overall, and ate less fatty and carb-heavy food.

If you’re the type who has trouble sleeping (many of us have been there), consider a yoga practice before bed.

3. Tomorrow Morning, Eat A Breakfast Rich In Fibre And Protein. Don’t Starve Yourself

The day after a binge, you might be tempted to restrict food intake.

This is actually much more harmful than eating a proper breakfast, because you risk triggering your body’s starvation mode, which happens when your body realizes you’re not getting the nutrients you need and it retains the energy that it already has.

After a binge, you’ll likely still wake up hungry and you should still be eating a nutritious meal.

The best kind of food for this is a mix of proteins, carbs, and fat: eggs, avocados, and fruit, for example.

These are foods that stimulate digestion and will help your body process the meal from the previous day.

healthy foods to rebound for junk foods | Mindful Healing | Naturopathic Doctor Mississauga

4. Drink Lots Of Water

Even though you may feel super full, you should still stay hydrated.

Drinking water can help support your digestive system and make you feel less bloated.

Drinking water also helps your metabolism stay healthy.

Consider keeping a glass of water handy, and filling it up whenever you notice that it’s empty.

5. Get Some Exercise, Even If It’s Light

Exercise can make you feel better the day after a binge because it releases endorphins to the brain.

It also will help you feel less sluggish.

Just be careful not to overexert yourself.

Exercise shouldn’t be a direct counter after bingeing; you should do it because it feels good, not because you want to compensate for eating too much.

6. For Lunch And Dinner, Eat Clean

You don’t need to do a full detoxification routine after a binge, but your meals the day after should help reset your eating habits.

Ideally, your next couple of meals would have a healthy balance of protein, fiber, and fat.

Baked or grilled proteins, leafy greens, and complex carbs like quinoa and sweet potatoes are great ideas for post-binge recovery meals.

7. Work On The Root Of The Problem

There are plenty of good ideas to help you get back on track after a binge, but you might end up doing it all over again if you don’t address the root problem.

It may be that your diet is too restrictive, which makes you prone to overeating at inconvenient times.

Or you might have emotional reasons for seeking comfort food.

Whatever the problem is, working with a naturopathic doctor to discover and understand it is a great step towards cultivating sustainable and healthy eating habits.

Book An Appointment At The Mindful Healing Clinic

Are you fed up of the vicious cycle of bingeing and then trying to get back on track?

Or do you want to learn more about the reasons that cause you to want to binge, and how to solve them?

If you’re ready to start the journey towards healthier living, book an appointment with Dr. Maria at the Mindful Healing Clinic.

During your first appointment, you’ll be able to discuss your health concerns with us and we’ll come up with a plan that works for you.

Your goals are our goals: helping you to achieve a healthier lifestyle with natural solutions.

Book an appointment with us today.

Top 5 Most Common Nutrient Deficiencies In North American Women | Mindful Healing | Naturopathic Doctor Mississauga

Top 5 Most Common Nutrient Deficiencies In North American Women

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Top 5 Most Common Nutrient Deficiencies In North American Women | Mindful Healing | Naturopathic Doctor Mississauga

Have you ever wondered why vitamin and nutrition companies often label some vitamins as a “women’s blend” and others as “made for men”?

While there are a lot of unnecessary products marketed along sex and gender lines, this is one area where these differences might be merited, as there are certain nutrients which women are more likely to be deficient in.

It’s a good idea to visit a women’s health naturopathic clinic to recognize the signs of these common nutrient deficiencies, and how to remedy them.

Keep reading to learn more about five common nutrients you should probably be getting more of.

Iron

Iron is carried through the body on red blood cells, which means a loss of blood can result in iron deficiency.

This puts people who menstruate at a higher risk for iron deficiency, due to the loss of blood which comes with the monthly menstrual cycle.

Due to this fact, it is especially important for people who menstruate to ensure they are getting enough iron in their diets.

What Happens When You’re Iron Deficient

Low iron levels can result in low red blood cell count, also known as anemia.

Symptoms of anemia include:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Weakness and dizziness
  • Headache
  • Shortness of breath
  • Brittle nails

A swollen, sore tongue

Dietary Sources Of Iron

If you want to get iron from food, some of the best sources include:

  • Lean beef
  • Oysters
  • Beets
  • Turkey
  • Chicken
  • Lentils and beans
  • Tofu
  • Avocados
  • Cashews
  • Fortified cereal
  • Kale
  • Dark, leafy greens

The amount of iron which can be absorbed by the body is affected by what you eat with it.

Foods containing vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, can help promote iron absorption in the body, however, calcium can inhibit the absorption of iron.

Vitamin D

Although vitamin D can be produced in the body when we are exposed to sunlight, many people are deficient in this important nutrient.

Vitamin D is important for maintaining your immune system.

It is especially important for bone health, particularly for individuals who are pregnant, thinking of becoming pregnant, and the elderly.

What Happens When You’re Vitamin D Deficient?

A lack of vitamin D is associated with the following risks:

Dietary Sources Of Vitamin D

One of the best ways to get vitamin D is sun exposure (15 to 30 minutes per day), however, this can be difficult for those living in cold climates.

Additionally, sun exposure comes with a heightened risk of skin cancer or sunburn.

Furthermore, most sunscreens block the ability of the skin to absorb vitamin D.

For these reasons, many people will choose to get vitamin D in their diet, rather than relying on sun exposure alone.

Dietary sources of vitamin D include:

  • Salmon
  • Fortified orange juice
  • Egg yolks
  • Sardines
  • Mushrooms
  • Canned tuna

Women are deficient in these nutrients in North America | Mindful Healing | Naturopathic Doctor Mississauga

Calcium

An important mineral for bone health is calcium.

In children, it helps with bone growth, and as we age it’s vital for bone health and prevention of osteoporosis.

Too much calcium can lead to heart disease and kidney stones, so if you are considering a calcium supplement it is best to discuss this with your naturopathic doctor first.

What Happens When You’re Calcium Deficient

Low calcium levels can leave you at risk for osteoporosis and bone fractures.

Unfortunately, as there are not any other signs to watch for, most people will not realize they are deficient until it is too late.

Dietary Sources Of Calcium

A few great dietary sources of calcium include:

  • Milk and milk alternatives, cheese, and other dairy products
  • Green, leafy vegetables such as kale, and broccoli (but not spinach)
  • Soy beans
  • Nuts
  • Sardines, anchovies, and other fish where you eat the bones

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 has a number of important roles in the body, and of all of the B-vitamins, it’s the one people are most likely to be deficient in.

It plays roles in the creation of red blood cells, neurological function, as well as promotes gut health and digestion.

One of the causes of the increase in vitamin B12 deficiency is the rise of vegetarian diets.

What Happens When You’re Vitamin B12 Deficient?

Some signs to watch out for, which indicate vitamin B12 deficiency include:

  • Muscle weakness
  • Numbness in the hands, legs, and feet
  • Fatigue
  • Brain fog
  • Swollen tongue
  • Anemia

Dietary Sources Of Vitamin B12

If you are looking to get more vitamin B12 in your diet, consider adding the following:

  • Sockeye salmon
  • Organ meats such as liver and kidney
  • Clams
  • Beef
  • Fortified cereal
  • Tuna
  • Trout
  • Sardines
  • Fortified nutritional yeast
  • Milk and dairy products

As you can see, the vast majority of foods containing vitamin B12 are animal products.

For this reason, vegetarians or vegans may want to speak to their naturopathic doctor about taking a B12 supplement.

Iodine

Iodine plays an important role in the development of thyroid hormones.

Thyroid hormones are vital in a number of functions including controlling body temperature, metabolism, digestive function, and brain development.

Iodine is particularly important for pregnant individuals, as iodine deficiency can result in intellectual disabilities for the fetus.

What Happens When You’re Iodine Deficient?

Iodine deficiency can cause your thyroid to work harder, as it tries to overcompensate for low levels of this mineral.

This results in goiter, or swelling of the throat.

Other symptoms of low iodine, also known as hypothyroidism, include:

  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain
  • Feeling cold
  • Thinning hair
  • Difficulty learning and remembering things

Dietary Sources Of Iodine

Although you may have heard that iodized salt is a good source of iodine, there are obvious downsides to relying on salt for the majority of your iodine intake.

Besides, it isn’t recommended to eat iodized salt as it results in thyroid dysfunction and other toxicities.

Food sources of iodine include:

  • Seaweed
  • Eggs
  • Dairy products
  • Seafood and fish, such as cod, shrimp, and tuna
  • Lima beans
  • Prunes

Book An Appointment At The Mindful Healing Clinic

Are you worried about your nutrient intake?

Did reading this list make you realize you might be missing out on some important nutrients which your body needs?

The Mindful Healing Clinic can help.

Book an appointment with Dr. Maria to determine any areas where your diet might be lacking, and create a plan to help ensure you are getting all of the nutrients you need to thrive.

Contact us today for more information, or to set up an appointment.

What Are Antioxidants, And What Do They Do For You? | Mindful Healing | Naturopathic Doctor Mississauga

What Are Antioxidants, And What Do They Do For You?

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What Are Antioxidants, And What Do They Do For You? | Mindful Healing | Naturopathic Doctor Mississauga

You’ve probably heard of antioxidants.

Often used as a buzzword in the marketing of certain foods and supplements, you likely have an inkling that they’re good for you.

But what exactly do they do?

I’m a naturopathic doctor, and I want to de-mystify antioxidants for you – what they are, what they do, and how to ensure you’re getting enough.

Keep reading to learn more.

What Are Antioxidants?

Antioxidants are molecules which protect your cells against damage from free radicals.

Often found in plant-based foods, as well as a number of vitamins, antioxidants protect against oxidative stress which can lead to ailments such as cancer, heart disease, arthritis, stroke, and respiratory distress, among other things.

What Are Free Radicals?

Free radicals are unstable molecules which attack molecules essential for many bodily functions.

However, this doesn’t mean they are all bad – certain functions rely on free radicals; for instance, they are used by your immune system to fight infection.

When free radicals outnumber antioxidants, however, this can lead to oxidative stress.

Benefits Of Antioxidants

Antioxidants have a wide array of health benefits associated with them.

The biggest one is they reduce the damage caused by oxidative stress.

Other benefits include:

  • Promoting blood vessel health
  • Protecting against some types of cancer
  • Reduction of inflammation
  • Promoting heart health
  • Promoting prostate health
  • Protecting vision and preserving eye health

Important Antioxidants

There are a variety of sources which can provide antioxidants, and they all have slightly different benefits.

Let’s take a look at some important sources of antioxidants.

foods with high antioxidants levels | Mindful Healing | Naturopathic Doctor Mississauga

1. Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a water-soluble nutrient which is found in a variety of plant-based foods.

Some great sources of vitamin C include:

  • Berries
  • Citrus fruits
  • Bell peppers
  • Kiwi fruit

Not only is vitamin C an antioxidant, but it can help revive other types of antioxidants which have been attacked by free radicals.

Vitamin C is also known to be effective in managing stress, reducing high blood pressure, and reducing risk of heart disease.

2. Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant which limits the production of free radicals.

It has an important role to play in protecting cell membranes from oxidative damage.

Some food-based sources of vitamin E include:

Vitamin E also plays a role in the health of your skin, your immune system, and your kidneys, as well as in the treatment of type 2 diabetes.

3. Flavonoids

Flavonoids are a type of phytonutrients found in plant-based foods.

Benefits of flavonoids include decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, asthma, and stroke.

Foods which contain flavonoids include:

4. Selenium

This powerful antioxidant may help protect against some types of cancer.

It comes in two forms – organic and inorganic, and the body can utilize both of these.

Foods high in selenium include:

  • Sardines in oil
  • Halibut
  • Brazil nuts
  • Yellowfin tuna

Selenium is also a useful supplement in naturopathic treatments for Graves’ disease

5. Iron

Iron is a nutrient which helps to protect against cell membrane damage.

There are two types of iron – heme and non-heme.

Heme iron is found in meat-based foods and is easier for the body to absorb than non-heme iron.

Some foods sources of iron include:

  • Dark chocolate
  • Oysters
  • Fortified cereals
  • White beans
  • Beets
  • Apples

Iron is often an important element in the treatment of polycystic ovary syndrome.

6. Other Antioxidants

Some other antioxidants and their sources include:

  • Vitamin A (dairy products, eggs)
  • Beta-carotene (brightly coloured fruits and vegetables such as carrots, mangos, and spinach)
  • Lycopene (pink and red fruits, such as tomatoes or watermelon)
  • Lutein (green, leafy vegetables)
  • Copper (oysters, black beans, soy protein)
  • Manganese (pecans, brown rice, pineapple)
  • Zinc (Beef roast, beef patty, fortified cereals, oysters, crab)

Should You Take Antioxidant Supplements?

As with any nutrient, it’s always best to get your intake of antioxidants through diet, rather than supplementation.

Too high of an intake of some antioxidants can actually be harmful, and people who take high-dose supplements are at greater risk of harmful side effects than those who get antioxidants through diet.

Additionally, sometimes they can interfere with medication.

Many antioxidants work best when combined with the other nutrients in the foods they’re found in and aren’t as effective when taken independently.

If you suspect you are low in a specific nutrient, it’s always best to discuss with your doctor or naturopath if supplements are the right choice for you.

Book An Appointment At The Mindful Healing Clinic

Are you confused about nutrition?

Worried you might not be getting enough of the right nutrients?

Not sure if there is a specific diet or eating plan which you should be following?

Do you have a medical conditions which you think is being aggravated by your current diet?

I’m Dr. Maria, and I want to help.

I offer naturopathic nutritional counselling services, with the goal to help the body to repair and heal itself.

Contact me today to set up an appointment, and learn about what naturopathic medicine can do for you.

Health Benefits Of Kale | Mindful Healing | Naturopathic Doctor Mississauga

Health Benefits Of Kale

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Health Benefits Of Kale | Mindful Healing | Naturopathic Doctor Mississauga

It’s certainly a divisive topic for many.

No, I’m not talking about religion or politics.

I’m talking about kale.

Some people love it, other people can’t stand it.

Whatever your view on this leafy green veggie, there is no question it’s incredibly good for you.

You don’t need a naturopathic doctor to tell you kale is good for you, but you might not know all the reasons why.

So, let’s talk about that today.

What Is Kale?

Kale is a leafy green cruciferous vegetable, from the brassica family.

It is related to cabbage and Brussels sprouts and is itself considered a type of cabbage.

Benefits Of Kale

Kale is extremely healthy, and packed full of nutrients.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the benefits it offers.

get all the health benefits from Kale with delicious recipes | Mindful Healing | Naturopathic Doctor Mississauga

1. High In Vitamin C

Just one cup of cooked kale can provide 23% or more of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C.

Vitamin C is incredibly beneficial, including for eye health, is full of antioxidants, and is used by the body to build collagen, the protein which provides the structure for skin, hair, and bones.

Additionally, a meta-analysis in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reviewed the effects of vitamin C supplementation on blood pressure.

Short-term studies found that vitamin C had the effect of decreasing both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

Further studies are required to learn about the longer-term effects of vitamin C on blood pressure.

Vitamin C can also be beneficial for immune system health, stress relief. And to stave off scurvy, among many other things.

2. High In Vitamin K

Vitamin K is important for bone health and can help to reduce the risk of bone fractures.

A 2017 study in the journal Medicine looked at the association between vitamin K intake and the risk of developing fractures.

It found that intake of vitamin K was significantly associated with a decreased risk of bone fractures.

One cup of kale provides approximately 15 to 18 percent of the daily requirement of vitamin K for an adult.

But despite the coincidence, the “K” in vitamin K doesn’t stand for kale – you can also get this nutrient in avocados and apples, among other places.

3. High In Iron

Kale is an excellent source of iron, which is important for a number of functions in the body.

One study, in the journal Immunologic Research looked at the effects of iron on immune response, and found it to be important to improving immune health.

Iron also plays a role in cognitive development and function.

A 2014 article in Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment found iron deficiency to be linked to cognitive impairment and behavioural changes.

Lack of iron was found to affect attention span, sensory perception, intelligence, and emotional response.

Finally, a report from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition notes that iron absorption is positively affected by vitamin C.

This is important because kale has both iron and vitamin C, making iron more bio-available to the body.

Iron deficiency is a symptom of many illnesses as well, including celiac disease and other digestive disorders.

Another great source of iron is beets

4. High In Antioxidants

You’ve probably heard of antioxidants, but might not be sure exactly what these are.

Antioxidants work to slow the damage caused by free radicals, which are unstable molecules which are waste products produced by cells.

Free radicals can cause oxidative stress, which is linked to cancer, heart disease, stroke, and a number of other conditions.

Kale is high in antioxidants, which makes it useful for fighting against damage from free radicals.

Other great sources of antioxidants include apples, beets, and avocados, as well as cinnamon, ginkgo biloba, and turmeric.

5. High In Calcium

Calcium is important for healthy bone growth.

A cup of cooked kale contains approximately 15 to 18 percent of the daily recommended intake of calcium for adults.

Along with calcium, kale is also a great source of phosphorus, which is also important for bone health.

6. High In Fibre

The benefits of consuming fibre are numerous, and include:

Kale is an excellent source of fibre, containing approximately 4.7 grams per cup, which is 14 to 20 percent of the recommended daily intake of this nutrient which many people don’t get enough of.

Book An Appointment At The Mindful Healing Clinic

Are you struggling to get proper nutrition?

Do you wonder if you’re getting enough vitamins and minerals to support your overall health?

The Mindful Healing clinic can help.

We offer nutritional counselling to help you make smart nutritional decisions to fit yours and your family’s lifestyle.

Contact us today to learn more, or to set up a consultation.

Nutrient Profile: Omega-3 Fatty Acids | Mindful Healing | Naturopathic Doctor Mississauga

Nutrient Profile: Omega-3 Fatty Acids

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Nutrient Profile: Omega-3 Fatty Acids | Mindful Healing | Naturopathic Doctor Mississauga

There are a number of essential compounds your body needs for optimal health, and omega-3 fatty acids are on that list.

You may have heard of these healthy fats due to their reputation for reducing inflammation, but there’s so much more they can do.

Whether you’re looking for natural solutions to manage anxiety, an immune system boost, or ways to improve your heart health, omega-3 fatty acids may be the natural treatment for you.

Let’s dive into all there is to know about omega-3s: what they are, how they benefit your health, and how you can ensure you’re providing your body with sufficient amounts of these essential fats.

What Are Omega-3 Fatty Acids?

Omega-3 fatty acids are a family of essential fats, meaning your body requires them to function; however, your body cannot produce them and must obtain omega-3s from your diet.

They play many important roles when it comes to your health, from assisting brain function to improving eye health, fighting inflammation, and preventing diseases such as heart disease and cancer.

Naturopathic doctors frequently recommend omega-3 fatty acids because of their myriad health benefits – but more on those later.

There are three main types of omega-3 fatty acids — keep reading for a breakdown of the health benefits and functions of each omega-3.

1. Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA)

Alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA, is the most common omega-3 in your diet.

It is a short-chain fatty acid used as an energy source, though your body can convert small amounts into one of the other two types of omega-3s, which bring different health benefits.

ALA is found in the following foods:

  • Chia seeds
  • Flax seeds
  • Hemp seeds
  • Walnuts
  • Flaxseed oil
  • Canola oil
  • Soybeans

2. Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA)

EPA, also known as eicosapentaenoic acid, is an omega-3 fatty acid found in marine products such as fish oil and fatty fish like salmon and tuna.

Some microalgae are also known to contain EPA.

This long-chain fatty acid is often used to reduce triglyceride levels, and small amounts of it may be converted to DHA.

3. Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA)

The third omega-3 fatty acid, docosahexaenoic acid or DHA, is considered to be the most crucial of the three.

DHA is a main structural component of many body parts, including your brain and your retinas.

Like EPA, this long-chain fatty acid is found in fatty fish-based products as well as eggs, meat, and dairy from grass-fed animals.

Sufficient DHA levels may be an issue for vegans and vegetarians, which is why microalgae supplements are recommended.

What Is The Omega-6 To Omega-3 Ratio?

Although you’ve probably heard of omega-3s, there’s a chance you haven’t heard of omega-6 fatty acids.

Omega-6 fatty acids are similar to omega-3s in that they produce eicosanoids, signaling molecules that affect blood clotting and inflammation.

However, where omega-3s reduce inflammation, it’s thought that too many omega-6s may exacerbate inflammation and counteract the health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids.

It’s important to maintain a balance between both types of essential fatty acids, which may be difficult — the average Western diet tends to have more omega-6s than omega-3s.

The optimal omega-6 to omega-3 ratio is 4:1 or less, and the Western diet varies between 10:1 and 50:1.

Overall, it’s recommended to increase intake of omega-3s through dietary and supplementary means.

Good food sources of Omega-3 fatty acids in your diet | Mindful Healing | Naturopathic Doctor Mississauga

Benefits Of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

The health solutions omega-3s can provide are wide-reaching, affecting nearly every system of your body.

Let’s look at some of the specific benefits of each type of omega-3 fatty acids.

1. They’re A Natural Solution For Anxiety And Depression

Anxiety and depression are two increasingly common mental disorders, and there are many contributing factors that may be worsening symptoms like fatigue, worry, sadness, and stress.

Ensuring your body has enough omega-3 fatty acids may help ease symptoms and fight depression and anxiety.

Low omega-3 levels and high omega-6 levels have been linked to inflammation and depression, and supplementation with omega-3 fats has shown a reduction in inflammation and anxiety, even in healthy young adults.

EPA and DHA specifically have proven to benefit those with depression and/or anxiety, with EPA specifically proving to be an effective treatment for depression.

2. They’re A Natural Sleep Aid

If you’re having trouble falling or staying asleep, you aren’t alone.

Sleep quality is immensely important for your overall health, but it can be difficult to figure out what’s causing your sleeplessness.

Omega-3 fatty acids may be an important contributing factor in helping you get good quality sleep.

Low DHA levels are linked to low melatonin levels, which is a hormone produced by your pineal gland that regulates your natural sleep-wake cycle.

This 2014 study looked at the relationship between omega-3s and sleep by providing control groups with regular fatty fish consumption.

It found the EPA and DHA present in fish resulted in a positive impact on sleep quality, sleep latency, and overall daily functioning.

3. They’re A Natural Immune System Enhancer

The immune system is your body’s natural defence system, protecting you from illness and infection.

Although omega-3 fatty acids do help to reduce inflammation thereby reducing the strain and stress on your immune system, omega-3s also provide other immune benefits.

New research has shown DHA and EPA provide not only a reduction of inflammation but they also help boost the function of immune cells.

These immune cells, specifically known as B lymphocytes, are white blood cells that secrete antibodies and signal your immune system to target and destroy pathogens.

The above study found DHA-rich fish oil enhanced B cell activation, thereby increasing antibody production and assisting immune response.

Additionally, omega-3 fatty acids taken early in life may help reduce the risk of developing an autoimmune disease, and later in life may help reduce symptoms of conditions like psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus.

4. They Help Reduce Chronic Inflammation

Inflammation is your body’s natural response to infection or damage, but sometimes it sticks around too long or persists where there is no infection.

This is also known as chronic inflammation.

Longterm chronic inflammation can contribute to many other illnesses and diseases including cancer and heart disease.

Omega-3s can help your body reduce and heal inflammation by reducing the production of problematic compounds and molecules such as cytokines and inflammatory eicosanoids.

Supplementation of omega-3 fatty acids has shown a significant decrease of numerous pro-inflammatory cytokines and substances, especially when the supplements are taken long-term.

5. They’re Good For Your Heart

Ensuring the long-term health of your heart is incredibly important, considering how strokes and heart attacks are the #1 leading cause of death around the world.

The heart health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids were first observed when researchers noted low rates of heart disease in communities that consume large amounts of fish.

Now, we know why omega-3s are so good for your heart.

EPA and DHA have proven to reduce blood pressure, raise your “good” HDL cholesterol levels, reduce blood clots, and keep your arteries clean of plaque.

They may also reduce triglycerides, a type of fat found in your blood that may contribute to arteriosclerosis and increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Regular fish consumption is recommended by the American Heart Association to decrease your risk of developing heart disease.

Dietary Sources Of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Fish oil supplements are a good and viable option for many, but it’s also important to include as many omega-3 fatty acids in your diet as possible.

Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel are all great dietary sources of omega-3s, as well as other types of seafood.

However, mercury content in fish is a big problem; keep consumption to 2 to 3 servings per week of low-mercury fish (salmon and sardines mainly), and avoid high-mercury fish like king mackerel and tuna.

Nuts and seeds such as flax, chia, hemp, and walnuts are also high in omega-3 fats.

Some products are fortified with omega-3 fatty acids as well, so keep an eye out next time you’re at the supermarket.

Book An Appointment At The Mindful Healing Clinic

The health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids cannot be understated, which is why it’s important to ensure you’re consuming enough of these essential fats on a daily basis.

From cognitive function to immune health, omega-3s are a crucial tool in your journey to optimal health.

Especially in these tumultuous times when anxiety and stress levels are high — there are naturopathic options to help ease both the mental and physical discomfort.

For more information on fatty acids and other naturopathic solutions for your health and well-being, contact us at The Mindful Healing Clinic.

We would love to work with you on a personalized all-natural treatment plan that works for you and your body.

Book an appointment with us at The Mindful Healing Clinic today — we can help.