Common Is Not A Bad Word

I have a great spaghetti sauce recipe that I got from my mom many years ago.

I make it A LOT! It’s a family favourite.

In fact, it may just have been the first meal that I cooked when I got married.

Fast track a few years from that first meal and I became a nutritionist. And with that I thought, it became incumbent upon me to nutricize everything that we ate.  A pinch of chia.  A dash of hemp.

Well the team started to revolt.  Old favs, like gran’s spaghetti sauce, fell from grace.

And here is the thing.  The spaghetti sauce is a simple recipe made up of healthy ingredients.

I learned my lesson quick and hard. Don’t try and fix it if it’s not broken.

One of the seasonings that I use in my spaghetti sauce recipe is Black Pepper, a very common seasoning that I think is under appreciated and quite honestly not given the respect that it deserves.

Heap On Those Seasonings!

Herbs and spices play a big role in the kitchen and flavouring food is only of their amazing skills.

Have a look:

  • The strong aromatic flavour of herbs and spices stimulates the palette and the digestive juices
  • Each culinary herb plays some role in the GI tract
  • Every herb and spice have health promoting phytonutrients

And there is a growing body of evidence to support the notion that culinary herbs and spices have multiple anticancer characteristics including antimicrobial, antioxidant and anti-tumorigenic properties.

Health Benefits Of Black Pepper

So back to that common old everyday spice Black Pepper.  Black Pepper is harvested from a flowering vine and cultivated for its fruit, the peppercorn.  Usually the peppercorn is dried and used as a seasoning.

Along with its often-partnered pal salt,  Black Pepper is used in many, many recipes that we google.

And it truly does bring a lot to the party.

Here are some of the amazing health benefits that Black Pepper has to offer:

√It stimulates the taste buds which signals the stomach to secret Hydrochloric Acid (HCL)

√It helps prevent the formation of gas

√It promotes sweating and urination 

√It is an antioxidant and  an antibacterial

√It is an anti-inflammatory

And perhaps its greatest benefit is that it aids in the absorption of other nutrients. 

Black Pepper has been shown to enhance the absorption of calcium and selenium as well as beneficial plant compounds such as those found in green tea and turmeric

Black Pepper deserves its spot on the top shelf of our spice rack and is a great example that sometimes, often times, common is just fine!


References

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27529277/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29497610/

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/black-pepper-benefits#710.-Other-benefits

 

 

5 Key Strategies To Strengthen Your Immune System

Supporting your immune system can help you to fight off cancer, deal with the side effects of treatment and lower the risk of recurrence. 

But to do so effectively requires a comprehensive strategy that will provide your immune system with what it needs to function at its best.

Poor diet, stress, lack of sleep and too little exercise can negatively impact your immune system and impede its ability to defend against illness.

 

5 Key Strategies To Strengthen Your Immune System

 

  1. Eat a balanced diet to support the health of the immune system and the gut and to help lower inflammation

Add more nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables. Variety is the key as well as healthy proteins that provide amino acids, the building blocks of the immune system. Complex carbs like grains and legumes provide substantial energy that the body needs to function properly. Vitamins and minerals are catalysts for all body functions, especially the immune system.

      2. Take supplements that help the immune system fight pathogens

Supplements that support the immune system help to fight pathogenic bacteria and viruses. They do not harm good bacteria. Examples of immune-support supplements include elderberry, echinacea, astragalus, plant sterols, garlic and algae such as chlorella or spirulina.

As our gut houses a large part of our immunity, it is very important that we make sure we give it some love as well. Probiotics, glutamine products or formulas, plant sterols, antimicrobials such as oil of oregano, aloe vera or grapefruit seed extract, essential oils* such as clove, cinnamon, thyme or lavender all support gut health and can support our immune system.

*Note: If ingesting essential oils, make sure they are food grade and mix with a carrier oil such as coconut oil.

  1. Exercise. It improves circulation and allows cells and the immune system to function better

So get up and get moving.  Go for a walk.  Do some stretching.  Shimmy on the dance floor.  Do whatever you enjoy to get your muscles flexing and your heart pumping.

  1. Implement stress management techniques

Some stress can be helpful for the immune system. Too much stress can use up valuable nutrients that are needed to help the immune system function. So find ways to relax and calm the adrenal glands down and lower the stress hormone cortisol.

  1. Make sleep a priority

The immune system needs the time you sleep to repair and regenerate itself.

Here are some tips for you to help you improve your sleep:

  • Deal with your stress – it can keep you awake at night.
  • Go to bed at the same time every night and get at least 7–8 hours of sleep.
  • Sleep in a cool, dark room and no sound distraction. Our immune system loves the chill!
  • Avoid caffeine or eating a large meal close to bedtime.
  • Disconnect from electronics like computers, cell phones and even TV at least an hour before bedtime.

 

So with these strategies forming your template, design your plan and work each and every day to strengthen your immune system.

 

 

Black Olive Salsa with Organic Corn Chips

Black Olive Salsa with Organic Corn Chips

Who doesn’t love a good salsa!  (I’m not sure if that is actually a question or a statement but I will go with the later:))

As with the great majority of recipes that I share with you, this is a simple, whole foods gem that likely includes many of the ingredients that you already have in your pantry.

Salsa and chips is a perfect snack for Saturday night hockey, Sunday afternoon football or your monthly book club meetings.

I included this recipe in the ‘Kicking Cancer in the Kitchen’ section of my October Newsletter and got some great feedback on it!

This salsa provides you with cancer-fighting nutrients like healthy fats, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants as well as gut healthy fibre.

I hope you enjoy it!

 

Black Olive Salsa with Organic Corn Chips

Serves 2-4

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup white onions, chopped
  • 1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1-2 tsp raw honey
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 10-12 black olives, drained and chopped
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup fresh pineapple cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • Sea salt and black pepper to taste
  • Organic corn chips
For added protein you can add leftover roast chicken or cooked Chickpeas 
Directions:
  1. Sauté the onions with the olive oil in a medium frying pan until slightly translucent
  2. Add the tomatoes, honey, garlic, and oregano
  3. Continue to cook on medium heat
  4. If using, add the chicken or beans and cook until juice has evaporated
  5. Remove from the heat and add the olives and pineapple
  6. Season to taste with sea salt and pepper
  7. Serve with organic corn chips
Tips:
  • If you like a little heat don’t be afraid to spice it up by adding chilli flakes or even jalapenos to the salsa before serving
  • If corn chips are not your thing, then try whole grain pita chips or your favourite whole grain cracker.

 

Diabetes, Mitochondria & Cancer

Type 2 Diabetes is a known precursor for many different cancers.

Type 2 Diabetes also appears to confer a significantly greater risk in women than men for cancers of the mouth, stomach, kidney and for leukaemia.

With the knowledge that chronic inflammation fuels complications of Type 2 Diabetes, including cardiovascular and kidney issues, determining the underlying causes of inflammation in Type 2 Diabetes is very important for the development of treatments.  The prevailing assumption has held glucose to be the main determinant.

However, new research from scientists at the University of Kentucky has shown that changes to mitochondria drive chronic inflammation from cells exposed to certain types of fats.  This new finding does not disprove glucose as a mechanism for inflammation but it does shed light on the puzzling situation of people with tight glucose control still seeing disease progression.

What Are Mitochondria?

Mitochondria are organelles found in every human cell except for red blood cells. The more energy a cell needs the more mitochondria it will have.  Mitochondria take in nutrients, break them down and create energy for a vast number of cellular functions.

Improving Mitochondrial Health

With the results of this study in mind, improving the health mitochondria is a logical piece of the puzzle for cancer prevention.

Let’s look at some ways to do this.

Exercise

Mitochondria are essential providers of energy for cellular survival.  They are also key to the function of apoptosis, or programmed cellular death.  Exercise is key to increasing mitochondrial health and biogenesis.

Intermittent Fasting

 Intermittent fasting has been shown to remove damaged mitochondria from the body through a process known as mitophagy. It also improves mitochondria homeostasis leading to more optimal functioning.

As well, by avoiding over consumption you reduce the amount of fuel that your mitochondria is required to burn.  This serves to limit free radicals, a by-product of mitochondrial function.

Toxins

The deleterious effects of environmental toxins on mitochondrial function has been studied extensively in humans.  Doing your best to avoid environmental toxins, improving the environmental health of your home and workplace and supporting your natural detoxification pathways to aid your system in the elimination of acquired toxins are vital for supporting your mitochondrial health.

Diet

Poor diet can lead to excessive free radicals and inflammation.  Your mitochondria also produce free radicals.  Eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables provides needed antioxidants to counteract harmful effects of these free radicals.

________________

 

 

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2890380/

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00125-018-4664-5

https://www.cell.com/cell-metabolism/fulltext/S1550-4131(19)30377-8?_returnURL=https%3A%2F%2Flinkinghub.elsevier.com%2Fretrieve%2Fpii%2FS1550413119303778%3Fshowall%3Dtrue

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31674658

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19448716

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6078194/

 

 

 

 

 

Integrative Approaches for Dealing with Chemo Brain

The frustration that stems from the mental cloudiness experienced by many cancer patients going through chemotherapy is no laughing matter.  And although many may try to make light of it, chemo brain, as it is commonly known, can be a cause of great concern when a decrease in mental sharpness leads to the inability to remember important things, learn new skills or finish tasks.  This negative impact on everyday life can also impart a great emotional hit alongside the practical issues.

It’s Not Just Chemo

Chemo brain to some extent is a misnomer.  In reality mental fog can be experienced by patients who are not going through chemotherapy treatments.  Other noted causes include:

  • The actual diagnosis of cancer can contribute to mental unclarity
  • Medications such as pain killers
  • Radiation treatments
  • Lack of Sleep/Fatigue

  • Poor nutrition
  • Low blood counts
  • The cancer itself
  • Age

Integrative Approaches to Dealing with Chemo Brain

The one positive of this condition is that in most cases it is temporary and can be managed with a few helpful tips.

Get Good Quality Sleep and Enough of It

Lack of enough good quality sleep can be a contributing factor for brain fog.

Here are some tips to encourage a good night sleep:

  1. Maintain a consistent bedtime routine
  2. Turn all electronics off 1 hour before bedtime
  3. Sleep in cool room
  4. Sleep in darkness
  5. If you must have electronics in your room, keep them 2 feet away from your bed

Amp Up Your Nutrition

Incorporating a whole foods diet with key nutrients is an important step in dealing with brain fog. Goods fats need to be included in your daily diet and can be found in foods such as coconut oil, olive oil, avocados, walnuts and cold water fish like salmon.

Choline and inositol are important nutrients for brain health. Choline can be found in foods such as eggs, beans, flax seeds and pistachios. Foods rich in inositol include beans and cantaloupe.

Vitamins B1 (thiamin) and B12 (cobalamin) are important vitamins to include in your diet.

Food sources of B1 include eggs, salmon, asparagus, kale, cauliflower sunflower seeds, beans, lentils and brown rice.

B12 is readily available in meat and shellfish. If avoiding animal products, supplementing with B12 in the form of methylcobalamin should be considered.

Exercise

Exercise overall has many health benefits.

For brain fog, regular exercise can help to keep stress and anxiety in check and encourage a more restful sleep.

And a few other tips

From a life style perspective incorporating strategies in to your daily routine such as making lists, noting activities in to a calendar, setting reminders and challenging yourself with word puzzles and brain games can be very helpful for improving brain function.

For those who like online challenges, one of my favourite sites for brain games is BrainHQ

 


References

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/chemo-brain/symptoms-causes/syc-20351060

https://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatments-and-side-effects/physical-side-effects/changes-in-mood-or-thinking/chemo-brain.html

Chemotherapy, Radiation, Surgery
Natural Strategies for Preparation
and
Dealing with Side Effects of Cancer Treatments