My name is Glenda Britton, I’m a holistic nutritionist, wife and mother of 5. As a mother of special needs children and a former burnout victim – I have a goal to build a wellness community for moms like me. Women who seldom have the time for themselves as they busily care for their amazing families.
Have you heard the saying, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”? It was Hippocrates that coined that phrase many years ago. He is considered to this day, to be one of the most influential figures in the history of medicine & healing.
He was certainly ahead of his time when around 400 BC he advised people to prevent disease and increase healing by eating nutrient dense foods. Hippocrates and the Ancient Greeks weren’t the only ones to understand the healing properties of food, both Ayurvedic Medicine (from India) and Traditional Chinese Medicine— have taught for thousands of years that food is medicine and a healthy diet is a powerful tool for protecting one’s health.
One of my favourite recipes to use Food as Medicine is my Turmeric Tea Recipe– I have hand delivered a bottle of this healing elixir to many throughout the years.
Many today are starting to understand how a calorie is not just a calorie when it comes to what we eat. Of course food does provide us with calories, but it does so much more than that.
The foods you include in your diet also play a critical role in controlling inflammation levels, balancing blood sugar, regulating cardiovascular health, it also helps the digestive organs to process and eliminate waste, and much, much more.
Did you know that certain foods contain powerful active ingredients that help control how your genes are expressed?
Have you heard about the expanding field of Nutrigenomics (also called Nutritional Genomics) it is devoted to studying how food influences gene expression. Quite simply what this means is that even though you may have a family history of a particular disease –it’s possible to change the course of your family history by consuming specific foods. Each and every person is different in terms of how much their genes/health are impacted by their diet.
A term I often use is biochemical individuality – what works for one person doesn’t necessarily help another.
Nutrient deficiencies and toxicity from a poor diet are linked to nearly all modern health conditions. Plus, when someone is overly stressed or ill it only increase the body’s need for nutrients and very high-quality foods. You probably already know that diabetes and heart disease (currently the No. 1 killer in most industrialized nations) this is an illness that is highly influenced by one’s diet — and the same can be said for allergies, autoimmune disorders like arthritis, thyroid disorders and many more.
Some other ways that foods can protect you from developing a disease or accelerated aging are by decreasing and controlling inflammation. Inflammation is the root of most diseases and a major contributor to the effects of aging. Inflammation is a response from the immune system, and it can affect nearly every tissue, hormone and cell in the body.
Foods can also help balance hormones.
Hormones affect every part of health, from your energy and cognitive abilities to your body weight
Diabetes and weight gain are tied to poor insulin response and other hormonal changes. Poorly managed blood sugar levels by consuming high amounts of sugar and processed carbohydrates can lead to imbalanced blood sugar which can then can lead to heart disease.
We mustn’t forget how different foods help to alkalize the body. The human body keeps a tight grip on its internal pH level, working hard to keep it balanced Processed, low-quality foods make the body more acidic and allow diseases to thrive more easily. An alkaline diet (high in plant foods that are detoxifying) helps with cellular renewal and may help to promote longevity.
Improving Absorption of Nutrients
Many of today’s illnesses are due to nutritional deficiencies and high rates of free radical damage. The majority of processed convenience foods are stripped of their natural nutrients and packed with synthetic ingredients and preservatives resulting in very low amounts vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber and enzymes. Our bodies need these nutrients to be healthy and thrive.
Perhaps more than anything else in our lives, the foods we regularly eat help determine whether or not we will become ill, or remain healthy into older age.
>>Stayed tuned for my next Blog and Facebook live where we discuss what foods to avoid and why…<<
Have you said “bye bye” to sleeping through the night?
Are you feeling exhausted or “running on stress hormones” all day?
Do not fear, I have some great tips (and an amazing recipe) for you!
The science of sleep is fascinating, complicated and growing
Sleep is this daily thing that we all do and yet we’re just beginning to understand all of the ways it helps us and all of the factors that can affect it.
Lack of sleep affects just about everything in your body and mind. People who get less sleep tend to be at higher risk for so many health issues like diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer; not to mention effects like slower metabolism, weight gain, hormone imbalance, and inflammation. And don’t forget the impact lack of sleep can have on moods, memory and decision-making skills.
Do you know that lack of sleep may even negate the health benefits of your exercise program? (Gasp!)
OMG – What aspect of health does sleep not affect???
Knowing this it’s easy to see the three main purposes of sleep:
To restore our body and mind. Our bodies repair, grow and even “detoxify” our brains while we sleep.
To improve our brain’s ability to learn and remember things, technically known as “synaptic plasticity”.
To conserve some energy so we’re not just actively “out and about” 24-hours a day, every day.
Do you know how much sleep adults need? It’s less than your growing kids need but you may be surprised that it’s recommended that all adults get 7 – 9 hours a night. For real!
Try not to skimp!
(Don’t worry, I have you covered with a bunch of actionable tips below.)
Tips for better sleep
The biggest tip is definitely to try to get yourself into a consistent sleep schedule. Make it a priority and you’re more likely to achieve it. This means turning off your lights 8 hours before your alarm goes off. Seven. Days. A. Week. I know weekends can easily throw this off but by making sleep a priority for a few weeks your body and mind will adjust and thank you for it.
Balance your blood sugar throughout the day. You know, eat less refined and processed foods and more whole foods (full of blood-sugar-balancing fiber). Choose the whole orange instead of the juice (or orange-flavoured snack). Make sure you’re getting some protein every time you eat.
During the day get some sunshine and exercise. These things tell your body it’s daytime; time for being productive, active and alert. By doing this during the day it will help you wind down more easily in the evening.
Cut off your caffeine and added sugar intake after 12pm. Whole foods like fruits and veggies are fine, it’s the “added” sugar we’re minimizing. Yes, this includes your beloved chai latte. Both caffeine and added sugar can keep your mind a bit more active than you want it to be come evening. (HINT: I have a great caffeine-free chai latte recipe for you below!).
Have a relaxing bedtime routine that starts 1 hour before your “lights out” time (that is 8 – 10 hours before your alarm is set to go off). This would include dimming your artificial lights, nixing screen time and perhaps reading an (actual, not “e”) book or having a bath.
So how many of these tips can you start implementing today?
Oh my gosh – nutrition and diet info is everywhere!
And each expert and association tries to lead you in their direction because they know best and their advice is going to help you. Right?
Everyone has heard (and maybe lived through) the intense focus on how much you eat. This has gotten way too much attention because while this does affect your weight and energy level, it’s certainly not the “holy grail” of health.
Let’s focus a bit more on the often overlooked (and proven) benefits of what you eat and drink and how you eat and drink it.
What you eat and drink
The “calories in, calories out” philosophy (i.e. how much you eat) is being drowned out with research on other factors that may be just as important. Don’t get me wrong limiting calories, carbs or fat can certainly help you lose weight but that’s simply not the only factor for long-term weight loss and maximum energy for everyone.
When the intense focus on how much we ate didn’t work in the long-run it wasn’t really a surprise. We kinda knew that already, didn’t we?
You can certainly still continue to count your calories, carbs, and fat but don’t forget to also pay attention to what you eat.
Ideally, you need a varied diet full of minimally-processed foods (i.e. fewer “packaged” “ready-to-eat” foods). This simple concept is paramount for weight loss, energy, and overall health and wellness.
Every day this is what you should aim for:
A colourful array of fruits and veggies at almost every meal and snack. You need the fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
Enough protein. Making sure you get all of those essential amino acids (bonus: eating protein can increase your metabolism).
Healthy fats and oils (never “hydrogenated” ones). There is a reason some fatty acids are called “essential” – you need them as building blocks for your hormones and brain as well as to be able to absorb essential fat-soluble vitamins from your uber-healthy salads. Use extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil, eat your organic egg yolks, and get grass-fed meats when possible. You don’t need to overdo it here. Just make sure you’re getting some high-quality fats.
How you eat and drink
Also pay attention to how you eat and drink.
Studies are definitely showing that this has more of an impact than we previously thought.
Are you rushed, not properly chewing your food, and possibly suffering from gastrointestinal issues? Do you drink your food?
When it comes to how you eat let’s first look at “mindful eating”.
Mindful eating means to take smaller bites, eat slowly, chew thoroughly, and savour every bite. Notice and appreciate the smell, taste and texture. Breathe.
This gives your digestive system the hint to prepare for digestion and to secrete necessary enzymes.
This can also help with weight loss because eating slower often means eating less. Did you know that it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to know that your stomach is full?
We also know that more thoroughly chewed food is easier to digest and it makes it easier to absorb all of those essential nutrients.
And don’t forget about drinking your food.
Yes, smoothies can be healthy and a fabulously easy and tasty way to get in some fruits and veggies (hello leafy greens!) but drinking too much food can contribute to a weight problem and feelings of sluggishness.
Don’t get me wrong a green smoothie can make an amazingly nutrient-dense meal and is way better than stopping for convenient junk food – just consider a large smoothie to be a full meal not a snack. And don’t gulp it down too fast.
If your smoothies don’t fill you up like a full meal does try adding in a spoon of fiber like ground flax or chia seeds.
Consider not only how much you eat but also what and how you eat it.
I know you’re not hearing this from me for the first time, “All Health Starts In The Gut”, Hippocrates made this statement over 2000 years ago and it still holds true today. As a holistic nutritionist working in the field of mental health and now developing nutrition programs for mothers of special needs children; my goal is to help individuals improve their health in a manner that is convenient and easy to implement.
If there is one thing that I really like to recommend it’s collagen peptides (or hydrolyzed collagen). BUT – There are two roadblocks that often get in the way:
Purchasing the product – many health food stores do not carry collagen peptides.
A lot of my clients do not and will not consume animal products, however many of them will eat fish and seafood.
Our friends over at Further Food are now offering not only Collagen Peptides sourced from cows (bovine), but also a marine based product that offers the same benefits. Plus, there are these additional bonuses:
They will deliver it directly to your door.
Use this GLENDA10 and receive a 10% discount
30-Day Money Back Guarantee
Scroll down and click to purchase your Collagen Peptides
I’ve witnessed first hand with clients, friends and family some of its many benefits including:
Reduced arthritic inflammation and pain
Improved joint health for young athletes
Strengthens hair and nails
Increases skin elasticity and moisture
Reduced tooth sensitivity
Great source of protein*
Improves gut health**
Keeps you satiated longer, so it can help with weight loss
*Collagen peptides are a great source of protein with 18 amino acids, including 8 essential amino acids. It should be noted that it is not a ‘complete’ protein and does not contain the essential amino acid called tryptophan. (Essential means that your body cannot make it and therefore it must be acquired from the foods we eat.) Tryptophan is an amino acid that acts as a precursor to the mood enhancing neurotransmitter called serotonin. Not to worry – I just want you to have all the facts. So, make sure you consume some of these other great sources of tryptophan: Ethically sourced turkey, chicken, red meat and eggs as well as beans, sesame seeds, organic dairy, whole grain oats, brown rice, sweet potatoes and bananas.
**Ingesting collagen has many positive effects on our digestive health. It is high in the amino acid glycine, which regulates inflammation and protects the mucosal barrier.
It can also be a prebiotic to help feed bifidobacteria to help maintain a healthy balance in your microbiome.
Collagen derived from marine sources have been shown to close the tight junctions of the intestinal tract reducing permeability (leaky gut).
As a Holistic Nutritionist, I really like how ‘clean’ the product is, made from grass-fed, pasture raised cows, it’s non-GMO and gluten free. The marine collagen is sourced from wild caught Alaskan cod. Both include the same amino acid breakdown and all the same health benefits.
How to use it?
It couldn’t be easier – simply add a scoop or two, once or twice a day (I add it to my morning smoothies and to my bullet proof coffee). Sometimes, I even add it to baked goods. It dissolves completely in any cold or hot liquid. No flavour, smell or gelling.
BTW – I’m not receiving anything for plugging this product – I just really like the product and think this is a pretty good deal
Simply click HERE to purchase bovine based Collagen Peptides and purchase marine based Collagen Peptides by clicking HERE. Don’t forget the Discount Code: GLENDA10
Let me know if you have a chance to try it – I would love to hear from!
For Canadian Residents: Because of the exchange rate and shipping costs the Further Food Collagen Peptides may cost pennies more per ounce than the product you get at your local health food store, but with the convenience of having it shipped to your door and the accessibility of the marine based product – I believe it is worth it!
All information contained in this email is for information purposes only and is not intended for the purpose of diagnosing or treating any illness or disease. Please consult with a qualified health care provider before making any significant lifestyle or nutrition changes.
As you read in my last blog “Do You Have a Leaky Gut?” – aka increased intestinal permeability, you now know that this is without a doubt a pretty common condition and it is linked to MANY health conditions. Luckily there is a series of strategies you can implement to help correct it.
Keep in mind: the food is not the problem – the health of the gut is…
How to fix a leaky gut… The 4 R’s.
Step #1 – Remove
First off you have to identify and remove whatever is irritating the gut lining. You can start with an elimination diet. Typically we recommend removing sugar, dairy, gluten, soy, caffeine, alcohol, and processed foods. Journaling during the elimination diet will help you identify how certain foods make you feel. Plus, it’s a great way to keep track of new recipes.
Eliminate the food(s) for between 2 to 4 weeks then re-introduce them one at a time and take note of how you feel. Symptoms can include: headaches, mood swings, sleep disturbances, aches, skin conditions, joint pain, bloating, gassy and /or a stuffy nose… Anything can be a reaction.
If you don’t want to wait for the results of an elimination diet, there are food sensitivity tests (IgG tests) that can be conducted along with the Zonulin (leaky gut) test.
If removing foods isn’t helping, it is possible that the leaky gut is being caused by candidiasis and/or parasites that thrive in the gut’s warm, mucosal environment. You can ask a healthcare practitioner to run tests and recommend a protocol that will deal with an overgrowth of microorganisms.
Step #2 Replace
The next step is to give your body what it needs to rebuild the gut lining. Eating whole foods is key. The gut lining is lined with finger-like projections villi, each villi is covered with microvilli. (see image) These fibres can get matted and hinder the absorption of nutrients. Eating whole foods that are full of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, plus enzymes can help to rebuild healthy new tissue. Try to focus on eating non-starchy vegetables and lean proteins, along with plenty of good fats.
Include good fibre such as chia or flaxseeds along with lots of filtered water to help rid the body of toxins and by-products as your body heals.
The microvilli are covered with digestive enzymes that your body needs to break down food into fats, carbs and proteins. Taking digestive enzymes will help support the villi during this repairing phase.
Taking extra omega 3 fatty acids in the form of a fish oil supplement can help to reduce inflammation and rebuild healthy cell. Include foods such as coldwater fish, nuts, seeds, avocado, coconut oil and olive oil
L-Glutamine is a supplement that can also help repair gut lining. It can be found naturally in Bone Broth and Hydrolyzed Collagen.
Step # 3 Restore
Once your body has patched up the leaks in the gut you need to help it grow a healthy layer of good bacteria. As seen in the picture below the good bacteria (microbiota) helps to act as a barrier to protect the gut lining. Good bacteria also helps to strengthen your immune system, improve metabolism as well as make vitamins and help with the absorption of minerals.
Enzymes help to breakdown foods into fats, carbs and proteins making them easier for the body to absorb.
Good bacteria helps to lower inflammation and protect the lining of the digestive tract.
Supplementing with a high-quality enteric-coated probiotic is helpful at this time. Also eating a variety of probiotic foods, such as naturally prepared (without vinegar) sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, kombucha, tempeh, yogourt and/or kefir.
#4 Repair and Balance
Finally it is necessary to support the digestive system by ensuring that there are adequate enzymes and hydrochloric acid to aid in the breakdown of nutrients. Lifestyle habits such as eating slowly and more mindfully while chewing food until it is mush will help to improve the body’s ability to stimulate enzymes. These habits may seem overly simplistic, but in fact can be a very effective way to make sure that your health and the health of your gut doesn’t start sliding backwards.
One of the significant contributors to leaky gut is STRESS! Incorporating a mindfulness practice can help to calm your central nervous system, because when you are stressed your body is in fight or flight mode, which is the opposite of the rest and digest state.
The Good News!
I often see in my practice how individuals get an IgG (food sensitivity) test and then go through the next many years assuming that they cannot eat the foods that they react to. It’s time we all start looking at the possible underlying causes of food sensitivities and the many other symptoms that go along with them.
Everyone is different, but there is a chance that you may be able to re-introduce some of the foods that your body was once sensitive to by following the 4 R’s above.
My Story – How I accidentally fixed my gut
As I mentioned in my last blog, almost 10 years ago, I discovered that I had a leaky gut.
What I did is NOT what I would typically recommend – not to mention I was very lucky as I really didn’t know what I was doing.
So basically what I did was – I went on a radical raw food diet for 3 months. I starting juicing, sprouting seeds and nuts, making homemade crackers in my dehydrator, made homemade, dairy free cheese and milk. Everything I ate for the next three months was raw. After about 10 days of this diet I started to feel a difference – my energy was improving – this was fantastic, so I kept it up for the next 3 to 4 months.
-This is me happily eating in a restaurant
How did this diet fix my gut? – of course this is just an educated guess:
I removed all gluten and dairy (except raw cheese). After being a lacto-vegetarian for 20 years I had probably developed a sensitivity to these foods.
I did not consume any grains. They can be very difficult to digest, especially on an already inflamed gut, hence removing these foods helped give my digestive system a break.
I added loads of enzymes. Raw foods have enzymes, cooked foods do not, sprouted foods contain exponentially more enzymes than raw foods. Enzymes help to lower inflammation in the body and improve digestion.
Voila! – A healthier gut
NOTE: I had been taking nutritional supplements (copious amounts of them) for over 2 years. Although they didn’t make me all better, I was still in a better place than I had been before taking them. What I’m saying is that I did not do this radical diet when my health was in a severely compromised state.
Interested in discovering whether or not you have a leaky gut? – Contact me for more information about the Zonulin Test. This is the newest most effective laboratory test on the market today to help establish just how permeable your gut is. Click HERE for more information from Fluids IQ.
Have you ever heard the saying, “All health begins in the gut.”?
Have you ever wondered if your gut is leaky? You read that right, a leaky gut a.k.a. – increased intestinal permeability.
Many people do suffer from this without even knowing it… I certainly did! Read on to discover why a leaky gut is so common, how it happens and what kind of symptoms and conditions are related. I’ve even included my personal “Leaky Gut Story”
My Leaky Gut Story:
After being unwell for almost 10 years seeing several specialists, having invasive testing done and being prescribed medications – I hit a wall. It seemed sudden at the time, but obviously it had been coming on for years. One morning I woke up and I could barely walk. With the help of my husband we went to a naturopathic doctor and discovered that my adrenals had completely burned out, I had a parasite, systemic candidiasis and the flu… In the weeks that followed my thyroid function pooped out, my iron levels plummeted and I had appendicitis and needed that removed. For the next couple of years I took many supplements daily, but I was living a lie – ‘pretending’ to be okay – no-one knew that I was napping sometimes several times a day, literally dragging myself through life. One of the obvious markers for my fatigue was my low iron level. One day my pharmacist said, “You know taking this much iron daily is toxic?” I went home to see what ‘Dr. Google’ had to say about that… This was the first time I heard the term “Leaky Gut”. Soon after, I changed my diet and quite accidentally healed my leaky gut – my energy improved drastically, I stopped taking iron supplements (it’s been 7 – 8 years now) about a year later, I went back to school to become a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, so I could learn the science behind how food helped me get better when no-one and nothing else could…
What is a Leaky Gut?
A leaky gut refers to a condition where there is increased permeability in the lining of the small intestines. The small intestine is supposed to be leaky because this is where your body absorbs digested foods into the bloodstream. The lining of the small intestine is covered in protruding folds, called the microvilli. These tight junctions (see image below) used to be considered static (never changing), but now are seen as dynamic and adapt to food and mood. The factor responsible for the opening and closing of these tight junctions is called Zonulin.
Too much Zonulin is when you run into trouble. This is when inflammatory molecules and/or undigested particles of food can travel into the bloodstream where the body can launch an attack resulting in one or a combination of the following symptoms or conditions:
Symptoms and conditions related to Leaky Gut:
Oxidation / free radicals
Neurological conditions such as depression and anxiety
There are many possible causes of leaky gut:
Poor food choices
Low stomach acid
Digestive enzyme deficiency
The Good News
If you think you may have a leaky gut then there is now a test from a Montreal Laboratory called Fluids IQ. This test assesses how much zonulin is present and therefore let’s you know just how leaky your gut really is… Fluids IQ offers a variety of laboratory tests that can help highlight underlying causes of imbalances and symptoms. For more information click here: Zonulin Testing Information
Like many others, I have been on both sides of the caregiver conundrum. I have cared for chronically and severely ill individuals and I have been very ill and in need of care myself. I do not write this piece from a position of the all-knowing, but from experience where many things were done right where other things could have been done a little better.:)
Taking care of yourself when you are not well is very difficult. In fact it can sometimes be absolutely impossible to take the measures necessary to re-build your body, re-balance your nervous system and correct deficiencies by yourself when you are not feeling well.
Few of us live in communities where support is readily available when it is needed.
Caring for someone with a brain disorder or mental condition has it’s own set of challenges. It is hard to understand how an individual can seem better one day and worse the next. ‘Ups and downs’, are challenging for both the caregiver and the person who is unwell. It is difficult to ‘measure’ how much someone is suffering when we don’t have, obvious physical signs, lab reports or other diagnostics that help to identify the severity of an illness.
Caring For The Caregiver
What to expect:
Caring for a sick friend or relative can be very difficult. Helping someone with a chronic illness is complicated with many emotional ups and downs – rarely does someone gradually get better each and every day without having bad moments and debilitating setbacks.
Each individual is unique. Symptoms of a mental health disorder can range from distress, poor memory, brain fog, insomnia, exhaustion, overwhelm, emotionally flat, agitation, low libido….
The individual who is not well can suffer from grief, by experiencing loss of the life they once had. The caregiver can also experience grief, because they no longer experience the same freedom either.
Grief is complicated, filled with unexpected emotions such as anger, guilt and self pity mixed in with overwhelm and sadness. Understanding that all of these emotions are ‘healthy’ reactions can help both the caregiver and person being cared for to not feel as if they are going out of their minds.
Inflammation in the body can be at the root of a mental illness, caused by food sensitivities, toxic exposure, and/or stress.
Basic lifestyle interventions involving diet, supplementation and reducing toxic exposures have repeatedly been shown to work – with few, if any, negative side effects.
Many people want to help, but simply don’t know what to do. Their failed attempts often result in frustration, anger and pull back. Leaving the ailing individual isolated and alone.
‘A top-reported cause of depression-related stress and anxiety
are the feelings of being isolated and alone.’
Kelly Brogan, MSc MD
Some tips of what NOT to do:
Do NOT avoid sharing with others that you are caring for someone.
This is particularly prevalent amongst men, who often don’t feel comfortable sharing with others that they are caring for someone at home. It is healthy for you to confide in someone that this is going on in your life.
Do NOT go on pretending that your life has not changed.
The caregiver needs time to grieve the loss of the life they once had.
Do NOT attempt to be the invincible caregiver.
The caregiver will have ‘bad days’ too – days where you really don’t want to be caring for anyone else. You may feel guilty if these feelings arise now and then. No-one can keep up with giving 100% of the time. Cut yourself some slack and take pride and comfort in knowing that you are doing the best you can, and that you too are only human.
Try NOT to feel reluctant to share your challenges with the person you are caring for.
By opening up and sharing with the person you are caring for you are giving them the opportunity to help support you a little too. This can result in not only you getting some support, but the person you’re caring for will feel as though they are contributing to the relationship as well.
Try NOT to isolate yourself, even if the person you are caring for his housebound. Try and get a friend or family member to step in and help for a day or several hours. If this is not possible, try looking into community programs for some kind of respite support.
Self-Care Tips For The Caregiver
Taking a break from caregiving and setting boundaries can be challenging. If you don’t know anyone in your community, look on-line for respite services in the area. As a caregiver you need to take care of yourself – if not you will not be able to care for anyone else.
Set actionable steps. Depending on the situation these steps could include taking a half-hour break once a week or once a day. Or walk three times a week for 10 minutes.
Before visiting someone who is unwell, try and take a moment to breathe deep and centre yourself. Listening to someone who has very dark thoughts and is complaining of feeling awful can be very hard and could bring you down if you let it.
Ask for help. Others may think you have everything under control and not realize that you are in need of a break.
Eat well – if you are helping to prepare food for someone who is not well, be sure to indulge in it yourself. This will help your body not become depleted from the added stress in your life.
Integrating a body/mind/spirit practice into your life is very helpful at a time like this. Anything from a simple breathing exercise, guided meditation (see below) or taking an epsom salt bath or enjoying a cup of chamomile tea can help relax the body and restore energy for the next day.
Be honest and share how difficult caregiving can be.
The most striking research finding is a tendency for the partner’s quality
of life to be worse than that of the patient.
Tips For Being A Better Caregiver And Making Caregiving Easier
Patience really is a virtue especially when it comes to caregiving. There will be times when you don’t think you can go on giving. Try not to take it out on the person you are caring for. Following through with self-care such as breathing, meditating, going for a walk and eating well are especially important at a time like this.
Learn everything you can about your loved one’s health condition. This will help you to provide the best care possible. Knowledge is power, it can give you the courage you need at this difficult time.
REMEMBER THE PERSON INSIDE
You may notice changes in the person you are caring for. Perhaps they no longer laugh as easily, are forgetful or appear lazy or unmotivated. They may recognize this change in themselves, which as you can image must be scary and frustrating. These negative emotions can manifest themselves in unusual or difficult behaviours, such as yelling or refusing to speak. Try your best to remember the person inside that you are caring for, how they used to be and hopefully how they will be in the future.
APPROACH IT FROM THE HEART
This is an important job! If you do it from the heart you will no doubt have a positive impact on the life of another. This should be something you want to do, not something you have to do.
Even though the person you are caring for may be mentally impaired they still have an opinion. Someone who is unwell can still teach you important lessons about life and love. Try not to disregard their opinion – take time to consider their point of view.
Try and be sensitive to non-verbal cues. You would not want to miss a critical health problem or personal care need.
Have faith in your ability to care for someone. No one is perfect. Just do your best. Some days will be better than others, for both you and the person you are caring for. Most importantly is to seek help when you think you need it. If there is no family available, there are community resources available across North America.
HAVE LIMITS / BOUNDARIES
Being a good caregiver does not mean you have to jump up every time you are called. If an issue is not urgent and you can’t get to it right away, acknowledge the request and tell them you’ll get to it as soon as you can. It is crucial that you set boundaries.
This is one of the things I really have to work at…
Try not to get caught up with an endless list of tasks. Take the time to walk away from your ‘to do’ list and really get a feel for how the individual is feeling. Spending time with the person you are caring for and enjoying their company is healing for both you and them.
COMMUNICATE WITH TOUCH
Giving a hug, holding a hand or patting on the arm can make a big difference, it can help someone feel reassured and secure.
Remember that the person you are caring did not choose this… they have a strong desire to be independent and in control of their life. Try to put yourself in their shoes.
BEING A CAREGIVER REQUIRES TEAMWORK
Do not isolate yourself. Building a team of family, friends, community support workers and medical professionals is very important. Make sure everyone is educated and on the same page. This will ultimately make you a better caregiver.
People living with mental illness can experience stigma and misconceptions.
The most important thing you can do as a caregiver is to try and stay positive.
As a nutritionist part of my job is to debunk nutrition myths, but this can sometimes be pretty complicated – after all that’s why the information was misinterpreted in the first place. It’s rarely a matter of “One food is healthy while another is not”. Or, “Everyone should eat this and avoid that”. A classic example of this is Fibre, while food manufacturers, some government agencies and doctors recommend that everyone consume lots of fibre everyday, from what I’ve witnessed in my practice and according to more recent science, it’s just not that simple…
First off, “What is fibre?”
Fibre is a type of carbohydrate that the body cannot digest. There are two major types of fibre soluble and insoluble. Fibre is found in fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes (beans, dried peas and lentils).
Fibre is not a nutrient it contains no vitamins, minerals or calories.
“Everyone should eat 8 servings of grains a day” (True or False?)
This was thought to be the case since the mid-1970’s, when Denis Burkitt, kindly referred to as ‘Fiberman’ popularized the idea that fibre from grains protects against the development of diseases, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, colon cancer and obesity. While Burkitt was in Uganda he observed that Africans produced more feces with less pain and discomfort, while rarely suffering from many of the most common diseases in the Western world.
Bring on the pasta! – wait a minute….
Fibre can be harmful to some.
Fibre & Constipation
We have been lead to believe that by consuming extra bulk in the form of dietary fibre it would help move the feces along, keeping us ‘regular’ and thereby helping to remove toxins, excess estrogen and cholesterol from the body.
“Fibre helps to relieve constipation” (True or False?)
Studies now suggest that if overcoming a sluggish bowel is the aim, one of the last things we should do is to consume more fibre. Here’s a quote from a Study published by the World Journal of Gastroenterology,
“The role of dietary fiber in constipation is analogous to cars in traffic congestion. The only way to alleviate slow traffic would be to decrease the number of cars and to evacuate the remaining cars quickly. Should we add more cars, the congestion would only be worsened”
We can liken that to adding more fibre to an already jam packed colon…
Excess consumption of high fibre foods, can be problematic for some, causing abdominal pain, gas, bloating and possible damage to the intestinal lining.
Now this is where it gets a little complicated – fibre is not all bad…
The foods that contain fibre such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes are nutritious, delicious and affordable. These foods also contain lots of other nutrients and therefore provide protective health properties.
More recently nutrition studies have shown how some forms of fibre help to feed the microflora in the gut. When this prebiotic fibre known as resistant starch feeds good gut bacteria it produces small chain fatty acids (SCFA) like butyrate, which are essential for a healthy immune system and lowering inflammation in the body.
So What Should You Do?
If you think that fibre may be causing you digestive discomfort, try using a Food and Symptom Journal for a week or two to try and assess which foods cause you discomfort. If symptoms persist you should probably consult with a qualified healthcare provider.
For most, fibre consumption should not be the objective, but rather a byproduct of eating a balanced diet including lots of vegetables, some fruits along with good quality healthy fats, proteins and whole grains.
Personally, I like the winter (and I live in Canada) The hearty warming foods, cool, brisk and bright days, staying cosy and warm inside – I even like the early evenings and I love snow. Plus, it really helps me to appreciate the long warm summer days. I suppose it’s because I like winter that this whole Blue Monday thing doesn’t resonate with me.
For those of you have haven’t heard of Blue Monday, it’s supposedly the worst day of the year as far as mood is concerned.
What is Blue Monday?
Blue Monday is calculated using a series of not particularly scientific mathematical formulas including:
Debt level (the difference between debt and our ability to pay the debt)
The amount of time since Christmas (3rd Monday after Christmas)
Failing our New Year’s resolutions
Origins of the Day
Blue Monday was conceived by a PR company in the U.K. Cliff Arnall, a former university professor was commissioned by a travel agency in 2005 to find the most depressing day of the year as a way to help market winter vacations.
It wouldn’t be scientifically possible to identify any one day as
the worst day of the year.
The winter months specifically post holiday season can be a difficult time for a lot of people. Many suffer from SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder and this is no laughing matter.
Shake off the Winter Blues
Get outside, yes it may be cold and miserable out there, but there’s something quite lovely about a brisk walk outdoors followed by something warm to eat or drink.
Skip coffee in the morning and enjoy a cup of green tea. It contains theanine, an amino acid that helps to calm the mind. Plus green tea also contains polyphenols. These powerful antioxidants can also boost the availability of dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the brain that helps to create positive mood states.
If the idea of staying away from coffee is totally depressing– then you can always try a brain boosting “Bullet Proof Coffee”. Filled with good fats and our brains LOVE FAT! Click HERE for my favourite recipe.
Eat your greens! A study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that eating more fruits and vegetables can boost your happiness as much as going from being unemployed to employed. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults eat between 1 ½ to 2 cups of fruit and 2 to 3 cups of vegetables a day, but to boost your mood, you will probably have to eat more than that. An easy way is to make sure that ½ your dinner plate is made up of colourful veggies.
Studies show that eating probiotic foods can change the intestinal microbiota in the gut which can positively influence mood. The gut-brain connection impacts anxiety and depression. Probiotic foods include naturally fermented (without vinegar) sauerkraut, fermented vegetables, miso, kimchi and kefir.
The Mood Disorders Association of Manitoba, Canada, says that symptoms of SAD can be treated with light therapy. Therapy lamps can be purchased for the home or office. Sitting near full-spectrum fluorescent lights with a brightness of 10,000 lux for 20 – 30 minutes per day can help to improve mood.
No matter how you feel about whether Blue Monday is really a thing or not – it can be a good idea to incorporate mood enhancing strategies year round.
Click on the image below for more for more brain boosting tips:
It’s not just us Northerners who are at risk of developing a Vitamin D deficiency
Vitamin D deficiency has significant consequences and has long been established in both children and adults. Every tissue in the body has Vitamin D receptors, which means it that the entire body needs it to function. People with the lowest levels of Vitamin D were 11 times more prone to be depressed than those who had normal levels.
Vitamin D is the only vitamin that is also a hormone.
Vitamin D as a hormone:
Helps with the absorption of calcium
Activates genes that regulate the immune system
Regulates the release of neurotransmitters (dopamine, serotonin, acetylcholine)
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a mood disorder featuring depressive symptoms, occurs during the dark times of the year, which coincides with a drop in Vitamin D levels.
Vitamin D and the Brain:
Protects cells in the hippocampus, which is essential for memory
Stimulates production of nerve growth in the brain
Keeps amyloid-beta production under control, this is the toxic protein which is involved in Alzheimer’s disease
Potent antioxidant which prohibits the production of free radicals
Regulates expression of neurotransmitters including dopamine (motivation), acetylcholine (memory) and serotonin (mood)
Even on a sunny day we still tend to cover up when outdoors.
Who is more at risk for developing Vitamin D deficiency:
Individuals with darker skin have higher levels of melanin which impairs absorption of Vitamin D
Anyone living north of Atlanta Georgia
Infants born in winter or spring seasons, when birth mothers have decreased levels of Vitamin D
Individuals with chronic illnesses (diabetes)
Young adults who work inside
Vitamin D’s effect on mental health extends beyond depression. Schizophrenia has also been linked with low levels of Vitamin D.
Vitamin D levels of 20 ng/ml used to be considered ‘normal’, but many researchers and clinicians now consider this to be too low. The ‘new’ normal is anything greater than 30 ng/ml.
What To Do:
FIRST – Get Vitamin D levels checked with your doctor
Supplement accordingly, between 2,000 IU to 10,000 IU daily, higher ranges should be monitored by blood testing every few months.
Researchers suggest that you get 30 – 50 minutes of sun exposure per week without sunscreen
Vitamin D foods include: Fatty fish like tuna, mackerel and salmon, foods fortified with vitamin D like some dairy products, beef liver, and egg yolks and to a lesser degree mushrooms.
Lack of Vitamin D may be only one of the factors that contribute to a depressed mood. There are many factors that can cause depression, such as genetics, other nutrient deficiencies, adrenal fatigue, thyroid dysfunction, and/or inflammation to name a few.
Vitamin D deficiency is a very common yet preventable condition that can contribute to many physical and psychological conditions. Check with your doctor to see if you are due to have your Vitamin D levels checked.