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Jennifer Kaster https://drkasternd.com Naturopathic Doctor based out of Oakville and Burlington. Let me help you achieve wellness... the natural way! Fri, 25 Jan 2019 16:40:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.3 https://drkasternd.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/cropped-JK-Favicon-32x32.jpg Jennifer Kaster https://drkasternd.com 32 32 Brussels Sprouts and Sweet Potato Medley https://drkasternd.com/brussels-sprouts-sweet-potato-medley https://drkasternd.com/brussels-sprouts-sweet-potato-medley#comments Fri, 25 Jan 2019 16:40:48 +0000 https://drkasternd.com/?p=335 The cold winter months are a great time to bring more root veggies into your food routine.  You may notice your body naturally starts to crave more squash, carrots and potatoes during these months.  It’s important to fuel your body with warm cooked foods when living in a cold climate.  Don’t try to power through Read more about Brussels Sprouts and Sweet Potato Medley[…]

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The cold winter months are a great time to bring more root veggies into your food routine.  You may notice your body naturally starts to crave more squash, carrots and potatoes during these months.  It’s important to fuel your body with warm cooked foods when living in a cold climate.  Don’t try to power through winter eating salads everyday.  You body and especially your digestive system won’t appreciate the raw veggies in the winter and you may notice digestive symptoms like gas, bloating, or increased bowel movements start to happen as a result.

Sweet potatoes are a great root vegetable to add into your winter food rotation.  They are a good source of fiber, rich in vitamin A and are also a source of vitamin C, vitamin B6 and potassium. The nutrient content we find in sweet potatoes helps to keep our blood sugars balanced – important for everyone of us; they are a source of antioxidants which help protect our tissues from damage; and they support a healthy immune system – keeping us well through the germ ridden months of the winter.

Here’s one of my favourite recipes that uses sweet potato.  I usually have this as a side dish, but I have been known to cook up a batch at have it as my whole meals as well. This recipe also contains a green leafy vegetable, which is one of our most nutritious food groups that most people struggle to do adequate amounts of.  I hope you enjoy this awesome flavour combination as much as I do!

Brussels Sprouts and Sweet Potato Medley

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp butter
2 tsp olive oil or melted coconut oil
12 Brussels sprouts, washed and cut in half lengthwise
1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed
2 cloves garlic, chopped (I usually add more – garlic is great!)
5 sprigs of thyme (or 1 tsp dried thyme leaves)
2 red apples, cubed
1/4 cup parsley, chopped (or 2 Tbsp dried parsley)

Dressing:
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 cup olive oil
Sea salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 400F.
In a bowl, combine butter and oil with Brussels sprouts, cubed sweet potato, garlic and thyme.
Spread mixture onto a baking sheet, with the cut sides of the sprouts facing down.

Cook for 30 minutes at 400F, or until sprouts and sweet potatoes are easily pierced with a knife.

In a small bowl, mix together all dressing ingredients.
Toss dressing with all ingredients together in a bowl.

Enjoy!

Written by Dr. Jennifer Kaster ND

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Tips For A Happy Tummy While You Travel https://drkasternd.com/tips-happy-tummy-travel https://drkasternd.com/tips-happy-tummy-travel#respond Thu, 15 Nov 2018 22:00:41 +0000 https://drkasternd.com/?p=328 Whether you’re hopping in the car for a weekend road trip or boarding an airplane for an adventure far away traveling is always exciting, but can come with some unexpected tummy challenges as well.  Traveling can be a real trial on the digestive system for many reasons. When we travel we easily slide out of Read more about Tips For A Happy Tummy While You Travel[…]

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Whether you’re hopping in the car for a weekend road trip or boarding an airplane for an adventure

Courtesy of Bjarte Kvinge Tvedt

far away traveling is always exciting, but can come with some unexpected tummy challenges as well. 

Traveling can be a real trial on the digestive system for many reasons. When we travel we easily slide out of our usual routine with food habits and daily care practices and this can send our digestive system into a tail spin.

Courtesy of Julien Tromeur

 

 

 

Let’s look at some simple tips you can implement on your next get-away to help keep your digestive system happy.

Many people suffer with an increase in gas and bloating from eating foods they normally avoid or trying new foods and over indulging in the large portions set before them at restaurants.  The discomfort of excess gas and bloating can be reduced by supporting your body to produce a good amount of digestive enzymes to breakdown your foods as efficiently as possible. 

One great way to do this is to start each day of your adventure with a mug of hot water with lemon.  The bitterness of lemon stimulates and preps your digestive organs to produce enzymes and gets them ready to tackle the food load of the day.  The best thing about this tip is you can access this at any restaurant or coffee shop.

Courtesy of Marta Rostek

Another way to help get the digestive juices flowing is to have a small amount of diluted apple cider vinegar before each of your meals.  Apple cider vinegar is another bitter food and it will also get the digestive juices flowing. It doesn’t need to live in the fridge, so it’s easy to pack and take along. I find using the diluted liquid is much more effective then the capsule version. 

There are many herbal teas that are great at supporting proper digestion and helping to ease the digestive discomfort.  Next time your feeling a little unsettled after a meal try a cup of peppermint, ginger, or fennel tea.  Most restaurants with have at least one of these on hand.

Food isn’t the only reason our tummy’s can get upset while away.  Sometimes it’s a bacteria or other micro-organism that we’ve consumed that has sent us running to the bathroom.  A great way to prevent this unpleasant situation is to ensure we have a strong line of defence built up in the digestive tract to take care of any unwanted guests.  This is one of the many jobs that probiotics do for us. Probiotics are the healthy bacteria that we should have in abundance in our intestines. We can support healthy populations of probiotics by consuming fermented foods daily.  This would include things like: sauerkraut, miso soup, kambucha, plain yogurt, and fermented pickles.  Consuming these foods on a regular basis for a couple of weeks leading up to your travel time will help build up your probiotic defences.

You can also pack along a good travel probiotic supplement to take while you’re away.  There are many great brands on the market now.  Make sure it specifically says it’s for travel, as these probiotics are specially formulated to not need refrigeration.

Lastly one of the other main tummy troubles people encounter when travelling is not that their bowels are moving too much, but in fact they aren’t moving at all. Being in a new environment, having a busy schedule and a change in eating habits can lead to the bowels becoming sluggish, which will leave you feeling sluggish and uncomfortable. There are many ways we can ensure our system keeps moving easily while we’re away.

For starters the previously mentioned tip about starting your day with hot water and lemon is great support for this issue as well.  You also want to ensure you continue to keep hydrated through out the day.  This can take some conscious effort since we are usually preoccupied with sight-seeing and new experiences while travelling.  Having a reusable water bottle that you can carry with you is a great idea.  Refill whenever it’s empty and definitely make sure it’s full before getting on an airplane as they are great at sucking away our water and leaving our cells feeling prune-ish.

Courtesy of j m griffin

Being in a new living space and using an unfamiliar bathroom can cause our bowels to become shy as well.  Getting your body moving and active will help to keep your bowels active.  Taking a morning walk is great support.  The action of walking massages our intestines and helps to move stool through.  If you aren’t able to make it out for a walk, take 5 minutes to do some slow deep abdominal breathing in the morning.  The movement of your diaphragm will massage the digestive organs. 

Even if you don’t have time to plan much before you head out for your next adventure there are many things you can do while traveling to keep your tummy happy, so keep these simple, yet effect tips in the back of your mind and enjoy your next get-away!

Written by Dr. Jennifer Kaster ND

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Greens Greens Glorious Dark Leafy Greens! https://drkasternd.com/greens-greens-glorious-dark-leafy-greens https://drkasternd.com/greens-greens-glorious-dark-leafy-greens#respond Fri, 02 Feb 2018 18:10:21 +0000 https://drkasternd.com/?p=320 Dark leafy greens like kale, collards, spinach and Swiss chard are probably the one food LEAST consumed by most North American’s.  Most people in my generation didn’t grow up with these types of foods and so as adults they continue to shy away from them.   Those who have tried them, may had been turned Read more about Greens Greens Glorious Dark Leafy Greens![…]

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Photo by kristja

Dark leafy greens like kale, collards, spinach and Swiss chard are probably the one food LEAST consumed by most North American’s.  Most people in my generation didn’t grow up with these types of foods and so as adults they continue to shy away from them.   Those who have tried them, may had been turned off by the bitterness of these vegetables or simply just don’t know what to do with them.

Today I want to give you some tips on how to cook your dark leafy greens in a SIMPLE, delicious, mouth watering way, that will leave you craving more of these nutrient dense foods.

But first lets talk about why we want to eat more greens.

Dark leafy greens are one of the richest food sources of vitamins and minerals.  They are overloaded with nutrients and because of this they benefit us in many ways. 

Here’s just a few or the many things dark leafy greens do for us: 

Photo by Nathalie Dulex

Greens help the liver do it’s job better, which means you will process and eliminate toxins from your system more easily and efficiently.

Greens help to protect your heart.  They keep your blood from being too thick, reduce blood pressure and keep cholesterol levels in check.

Greens are rich in enzymes and fiber, which allow you to break down your foods more effectively and keep the bowels eliminating easily.

Greens contain an abundance of antioxidants, provide protection for our brains, support proper cell structure and are anti-inflammatory.

The easiest ways to get in more greens would be to use the prepped boxed greens from the store as the base for a salad or add a handful into your smoothie.  You could try freezing greens like kale and adding a handful of these into your smoothie for a crisp refreshing taste.

My absolute favourite way to eat greens is sautéed.  No matter what type of greens I’ve picked up from the store I do them all the same simple way and they taste AMAZING!

Here’s my method:

Melt butter (organic unsalted) in a large frying pan or wok.  You can use coconut oil instead if you don’t want to use dairy.

Chop the steam of the leafy green and add it to the pan.

Once the stem is starting to soften add in chopped garlic.  (I love garlic, so I use at least 3 cloves)

Cut or rip leaves into smaller pieces and add into the pan.

Squeeze half a lemon on top of the greens.

Remove from heat when the leaves start to turn darker green.

The combination of butter, garlic and lemon juice really make this dish magical on the tastebuds.  The lemon is a great addition not only to cut the bitter taste of the greens, but it also helps us to digest them better and in turn access and absorb more of the minerals hiding within the greens.  Don’t be afraid if you notice your garlic turn a blue/green colour.  It’s just a reaction to the lemon juice. 

I found a new kitchen gadget to make this dish even easier to prep.  I’ve seen it called the a “green zipper”or a “green stripper”. 

Photo by J. Kaster

You put the bottom of the stem into one of the holes and pull it through.  As you do this it strips all the leaves off the stem.  This style has many sizes of holes, so you can also use it for herbs.  Brilliant!

Enjoy your glorious greens!

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Raw Chocolate Pudding – Yum! https://drkasternd.com/raw-chocolate-pudding-yum https://drkasternd.com/raw-chocolate-pudding-yum#respond Tue, 05 Dec 2017 15:42:16 +0000 https://drkasternd.com/?p=301 Raw Chocolate Pudding is one of my favourite desserts and snacks to have on hand.  It meets my desire for chocolate without being a sugar overload for my body and it’s super simple to make!  I love to make up a batch and divide it into small tupperware containers to enjoy over the next few Read more about Raw Chocolate Pudding – Yum![…]

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Raw Chocolate Pudding is one of my favourite desserts and snacks to have on hand.  It meets my desire for chocolate without being a sugar overload for my body and it’s super simple to make!  I love to make up a batch and divide it into small tupperware containers to enjoy over the next few days.  It’s great in school lunches as it doesn’t contain any nuts.  Some people mix up this recipe and then put the pudding in popsicle molds for a summer time treat.

Mix all ingredients together in a stand mixer or food processor and put in the fridge for an hour to set.

Ingredients:
2 soft bananas
1 soft avocado
1 Tbsp maple syrup or agave nectar
2 Tbsp raw cacao powder (I typically add more then this)

avocadoIt only contains a few ingredients, but they each have a variety of nutrients.  Let’s take a look at a couple.

Avocados are a great source of healthy fats which help us heal on a cellular level and keep us feeling
satisfied from our snack longer.

Maple Syrup is a sugar source, but also has nutritional benefits, unlike refined sugar.  This sweet liquid contains zinc, iron, calcium, magnesium and as many as 24 different antioxidants.  This combination of nutrients make maple syrup a food that helps fight inflammation.  As with all sweet foods we need to eat maple syrup in small amounts.

Raw Cacao is one of the fabulous superfoods.  It’s loaded with many great health promoting nutrients including antioxidants, which help us to prevent age related illnesses and diseases.  Raw cacao is also the richest food source of magnesium.  This incredible mineral helps to relax muscles, Raw cacaocalms the nervous system and supports a healthy cardiovascular system.

Enjoy!

Dr. Jennifer Kaster ND
“Helping you achieve wellness…the natural way.”

 

Photos curtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

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Chicken and Black Bean Soup https://drkasternd.com/chicken-black-bean-soup https://drkasternd.com/chicken-black-bean-soup#respond Tue, 28 Nov 2017 16:15:59 +0000 https://drkasternd.com/?p=296 Has your household already been battling colds and illness this winter?  Here’s a great recipe for a chicken and black bean soup full of nutrients that are soothing on the throat and healing to the body.  And best of all it’s simple to make. Any soup that is broth based is rich in easy to Read more about Chicken and Black Bean Soup[…]

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Has your household already been battling colds and illness this winter?  Here’s a great recipe for a chicken and black bean soup full of nutrients that are soothing on the throat and healing to the body.  And best of all it’s simple to make.

Any soup that is broth based is rich in easy to absorb nutrients, especially minerals, which is great for when you are sick.  Broth allows the body to easily get healing nutrients without needing to expend much energy digesting.

Wakame is an ingredient in this soup that may be new to you.  Wakame is a sea vegetable.  You’ll find it packaged in a dried form at the store.  Sea veggies are a fabulous addition to soups and stews because they release an abundance of minerals into the broth.

Onions, garlic and cayenne pepper each have components in them that help to kill off the “bad bugs” and enrich the immune system.

Chicken and Black Bean Soup

Chicken and Black Bean Soup

Serves 8-10

12 cups water or 6 cups water and 6 cups chicken stock

2 chicken breasts, bone-in, skin off

1 1/2 Tbsp unrefined coarse sea salt

1-3” (8cm) piece wakame

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1 14oz (400ml) can black soybeans, drained (about 2 cups)

1 large can (28oz) diced tomatoes

1 cup diced carrots

1 cup diced or grated zucchini

 

  1. Place onion, garlic, salt, chicken, wakame, water, and stock in a large soup pot.
  2. Bring to a boil and lower heat.  Simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes.
  3. Remove chicken, let cool slightly, and cut into small pieces.
  4. Return chicken to pot along with the remaining ingredients.  Bring to a boil, lower heat, and let simmer until vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes.

Recipe from: “Discover the Power of Food” Janet Jacks

Find more delicious recipes from Janet and friends on the Goodness Me! blog.

I’d love to hear what your favourite soup recipe is for when you are sick.

Share with me in the comments below!

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Parasites: You are not alone https://drkasternd.com/parasites-not-alone https://drkasternd.com/parasites-not-alone#respond Tue, 21 Nov 2017 15:30:59 +0000 https://drkasternd.com/?p=298 Parasites…..most people shudder at this word.  Parasites aren’t all giant scary organisms.  In fact I can guarantee that you’ve had parasites at least once in your life time, probably more, without even knowing it.  These tiny little guys are very common and are transmitted via their microscopic eggs, which can be obtained from unwashed fruits Read more about Parasites: You are not alone[…]

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Parasites…..most people shudder at this word.  Parasites aren’t scared faceall giant scary organisms.  In fact I can guarantee that you’ve had parasites at least once in your life time, probably more, without even knowing it.  These tiny little guys are very common and are transmitted via their microscopic eggs, which can be obtained from unwashed fruits and veggies, undercooked meat, contact with family members, kissing and handling your pets, people around you who don’t wash their hands (parasite eggs can live under fingernails for 2 months).  They can even enter the body by traveling through the bottom of your foot after walking in an area where animal fa matter may be hiding.

Typically when we hear about someone having a parasite infection it’s after they’ve travelled somewhere tropical and then end up with a major case of GI distress.  Yes, I mean diarrhea.  Not all parasites cause this type of obvious reaction. 

Parasite by definition is “an organism that lives and feeds off another organism”.  Therefore, a parasite’s mission in life is to go undetected by their host (ie. you) so they can continue to happily live inside your nice warm body, consume all the delicious nutrients from the food you’re eating and reproduce, so their legacy will continue to live on.

Parasites can affect us in many subtle ways. 

Here’s a small sampling or the symptoms you can experience when you have parasites:

    • Fatigue: Since these little guys are eating away at the nutrients from your foods this leaves less nutrients for your body to take up and use as fuel, which will leave you feeling sluggish.  Parasites especially LOVE vitamin B12, which we need to keep us energized and feeling positive.  Also, some parasites feed off our red blood cells and can make us anemic – iron deficient – which also greatly affects how energetic you feel.
    • Hunger: Feeling the urge to eat more right after having finished your meal is common when we have parasites.  Again due to the fact that your body is starving for the nutrients that the parasites are stealing from you.
    • Skin irritation or itching:  These little guys are in our blood, therefore they can affect any area of the body and cause irritation and inflammation.insomnia
    • Joint or muscle pain:  Caused by toxins released by parasites into our bloodstream.
    • Insomnia: Parasites like to keep us awake at night or wake us up multiple times a night.  You’re probably waking up feeling hungry.  They’re like newborn babies they want their food at all hours.

Parasites can be detected by stool samples, but depending on the type and stage of development the parasite is at it may not appear in this type of testing.  In our office we use Live Blood Cell Microscopy to look for parasites.  Because this test is looking directly into the blood it allows us to see parasites and even parasite eggs.  Being able to detect parasites at an early stage of growth enables us to easily treat and remove them before they have a chance to grow into adults.

There are many natural ways to effectively treat parasites.  As a Naturopathic Doctor I would be happy discuss these with you and to create a plan to meet your needs and to revive your health back to where it should be. 

Think you may have parasites? 

Do you want to investigate further to see if they are a cause of your current health picture and to get guidance on how to naturally clear them from your system?

Are you curious to learn more about live blood cell analysis?  Check out Live Blood Analysis 

Call the clinic in Oakville to book in for Live Blood Cell Analysis and Naturopathic Care.  289-291-0254 or check is out online Balance Point Health Centre

We look forward to helping you.

Written by Dr. Jennifer Kaster ND
“Helping you achieve wellness…the natural way.”

Photos curtesy of http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/

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Stressed? https://drkasternd.com/stressed https://drkasternd.com/stressed#respond Tue, 14 Nov 2017 16:07:24 +0000 https://drkasternd.com/?p=293 Jump out of bed, dress, feed kids, drop off kids, dash to work, meet the demands of the day, dash home, throw dinner together (literally), drop kids at hockey, back home, kids to bed, collapse. Is this the rhythm of your days?  Intense with multiple things thrown at you all at once with little time Read more about Stressed?[…]

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Jump out of bed, dress, feed kids, drop off kids, dash to work, meet the demands of the day, dash home, throw dinner together (literally), drop kids at hockey, back home, kids to bed, collapse.

stressIs this the rhythm of your days?  Intense with multiple things thrown at you all at once with little time to breath let alone time to rejuvenate yourself?

Life can get pretty out of hand as the amount of tasks we’re trying to juggle keeps increasing and it’s our poor adrenal gland that’s trying desperately to keep us well as we  try to balance all these tasks.

The adrenal gland does many things for us, but it’s claim to fame is it’s role in helping us deal with stress.  The adrenal gland’s goal is to keep us balanced through these times of stress.  Our body can be experiencing the physiological changes of stress even when we don’t feel stressed.  The adrenals do their best to keep up with our daily stressful events – deadlines, demands on our time, management of kids/house etc., but when the stress becomes a constant daily occurrence, sometimes multiple times a day, our adrenal gland runs out of resources to recover from these stressors and it becomes fatigued and worn out.

There are some signs you can look for to see if your adrenal gland has reached this fatigued state. 

Here are the top 5:

  • Low blood pressure
  • Feeling light headed upon standing quickly
  • Eyes have become more sensitive to the light
  • If you miss a meal you experience: brain fog, irritability and/or get light headedness
  • Trouble falling asleep and/or staying asleep – typically waking between 2:00am and 4:00am.

Other things you can assess for yourself in relation to the adrenal gland:

  • Do you crave salt? When we are experiencing excess stress the body releases more salt in the urine causing us to crave it more.
  • Are your pants a bit more snug fitting?  When we’re in a stressed state the adrenal gland releases cortisol, which leads to an increase in insulin levels in the blood.  When we have too much insulin in circulation it becomes a fat storing hormone and it especially loves to store fat around our midsection.
  • pHIs your urine acidic?  This test is easily done at home with pH paper you can purchase at the health food store.  Test first thing in the morning for a few days.  Our urine pH will be more acidic < 6.4 when we our adrenal gland isn’t functioning well.

There are also a number of more definitive tests that can be done in the office with your Naturopathic doctor to get a clearer picture of how your adrenal gland is doing.

A few things you can do to give some support and love to your adrenal gland include good food choices and regular sleep. 

sleeping ladyThe adrenal gland thrives on routine, particularly with it comes to our sleep habits.  Going to bed at the same time each night and rising at the same time each morning – allowing for 8 hours of sleep -makes for very happy adrenal glands. Having routine with our eating habits and the time we eat helps as well. 

Begin to add gogi berries into your daily food routine.  Gogi berries are an adaptogen, which means they support many organs and systems in the body, but they specifically contain the nutrients that the adrenal gland needs. You’ll find these in a dried format and  you only need a handful a day.  Enjoy them in your trail mix, in your smoothie, on your salad, in your oatmeal or on their own. 

The adrenal gland also requires a good amount of vitamin C to be healthy.  Increasing foods such as yellow peppers (they have more vitamin C then oranges), as well as camu camu berry (30x more vitamin C then oranges) will ensure you have good levels of this adrenal supporting vitamin.  This berry can be found as a dried powder.  Add 1 Tbsp daily into your juice, or smoothie.  It has an enjoyable tangy flavour.

It’s hard to avoid stress in our fast passed lives, which makes it vital to do your best to support these little glands to ensure they can help you easily navigate the ups and downs of your daily life. 

To further assess your adrenal gland function book a visit with myself. Check out the contact page for the details.  I would be happy to help you get things back on track and start feeling more calm, energized and focused.

Written by Dr. Jennifer Kaster ND

Helping you achieve wellness…the natural way. 

Pictures courtesy of http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/

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Doable Daily Digestive Support https://drkasternd.com/doable-daily-digestive-support https://drkasternd.com/doable-daily-digestive-support#respond Tue, 07 Nov 2017 16:55:08 +0000 https://drkasternd.com/?p=286 Good digestion is one of the most important aspects to our health.  Since food is the only substance our body has to make and repair all cells, tissues and organs in our body it’s vital that we not only eat good nutritious food, but that we ensure we digest these foods properly.   You can Read more about Doable Daily Digestive Support[…]

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Good digestion is one of the most important aspects to our digestive system naturopath oakville burlingtonhealth.  Since food is the only substance our body has to make and repair all cells, tissues and organs in our body it’s vital that we not only eat good nutritious food, but that we ensure we digest these foods properly.  

You can be the cleanest, healthiest eater, but if your body isn’t breaking down your food into tinny little bits where all the nutrients live then you won’t be able to absorb and USE all the goodness found in those healthy foods. 

I always say food is the core foundation to health and having a healthy digestive system goes hand-in-hand with this. 

“Man is not nourished by what he swallows, but by what he digests and uses.” ~Hippocrates

Today, I’d like to explore with you a few easy things you can incorporate into your daily routine to support and improve your digestive system.  

  1. To start your day in the best way for good digestion have a mug of hot water with lemon as your first food intake.  I can hear some of you saying “But I ALWAYS start my day with a coffee.  I can’t give up my morning coffee!”  No worries.  I’m not suggesting you have to give up your cup of joe – at least not yet.  Just have a mug of hot water with fresh lemon BEFORE your morning coffee.
    lemon naturopath Oakville BurlingtonPut hot water from the kettle into your mug – just like you’re making tea – and add fresh squeezed lemon juice (1tsp-1Tbsp – whatever your taste buds prefer) or a quarter of a lemon squeezed.  Bitter sour foods, like lemons, stimulate our digestive system to start producing the enzymes we need to break down our foods and help the liver to detoxify.
    Essentially, by doing this you’re giving a wake up call to your digestive organs ensuring they are prepped and ready to go for the day.  The better we breakdown our foods the less gas and bloating we experience.

 

2.  It’s common to drink while eating, but this practice is detrimental to our digestive potential. No liquids with your meals.  When we take in liquids with our food we are diluting the enzymes secreted in our saliva – first area of food breakdown.  We’re diluting the acid produced in our stomach – second area of food breakdown.  Our stomach acid also acts as protection against infection.  We don’t want to dilute this acid and allow harmful bacteria to travel even further into our body!
Drinking also dilutes the many enzymes and other digestive juices secreted into the small intestine.  It’s best to drink half hour before meals, or just a little right before eating to get medication or supplements down if needed and then not again for an hour and a half after finishing your meal.

3. “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” ~ Hippocrates 

There are certain foods that specifically improve and support proper digestion for us.  Choose to incorporate one or a few of these into your daily routine and delight in their health benefits!  

  • Raw veggies contain enzymes that help us to breakdown our food.  These help to ease the burden of the digestive system. 
  • ginger Naturopath Oakville BurlingtonWhen eaten in their whole form, fennel and ginger help to aid digestion as well.  Add fennel to your salad or just eat it raw like you would celery and carrot sticks.  It has an amazing black licorice flavour.
    Ginger is a great addition to your stir-fry or get creative and make your own stir fry sauce with grated ginger, soy sauce and fresh garlic.  Try some in your hot water with lemon.
    These both help to reduce bloating, eliminate gas and reduce inflammation.
  • Incorporate herbs into your cooking routine – fresh when possible.  Turmeric, rosemary, caraway and dill support optimal liver function and increase the thoroughness of digestion.  Turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory as well.  Cinnamon is a great addition to your breakfast and will help stabilize your blood sugar levels and support your pancreas.    Even if you’re not diabetic your body will benefit from blood sugar support.  High blood sugar = high insulin = belly fat.  Yuck!  Cinnamon is also great for improving a sluggish digestive system – let’s get those bowels moving!4. CHEW!  How easily we forget this simple, yet so important, aspect of digestion.  Digestion starts in your mouth.  Chewing your food until it’s a liquid allows the other organs of the digestive tract to do their job efficiently and reduces unwanted gas and bloating.

Start by incorporating a couple of these tips into your daily routine today!

Written by Jennifer Kaster N.D.
“Here to help you achieve wellness…the natural way.”

Photos curtesy of http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/

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Breathe Easy This Winter https://drkasternd.com/breathe-easy-winter https://drkasternd.com/breathe-easy-winter#respond Tue, 31 Oct 2017 14:46:01 +0000 https://drkasternd.com/?p=278 If you live far enough north, winter is synonymous with skating, tobogganing, snowball fights, and other snowy pursuits. But it can also be a season of sickness, during which our bodies transform into mucous factories. Do you ever wonder where all this mucous is coming from? How can one tiny person produce so much yuck? Read more about Breathe Easy This Winter[…]

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If you live far enough north, winter is synonymous with skating, tobogganing, snowball fights, and other snowy pursuits. But it can also be a season of sickness, during which our bodies transform into mucous factories.

Do you ever wonder where all this mucous is coming from? How can one tiny person produce so much yuck? And why does it happen so much more often in the winter?  

photo by Mike Gieson

As many of us know from experience, in the winter the climate becomes not only cold, but also dry. The dryness is the trigger for this mucous mayhem. The body is loaded with mucous membranes, which line most of our internal surfaces and are especially prominent on surfaces that are exposed to the outside world, like our nasal passages and sinuses. These membranes act as our front-line defence against outside invaders, but they need to be moist in order to trap and remove the invaders before they have a chance to advance further into the body. When working properly, these mucous producing membranes are highly beneficial to us. So, what goes wrong in the winter?

As we continually breathe in the cold, dry air of winter, our membranes get dried out. This signals them to produce mucous to maintain appropriate moisture levels. As they repeatedly get dried out, the mucous production increases and can become excessive. The excess mucous is not only unpleasant for us, but it is also a great breeding ground for viruses. This is one of the reasons we get colds and flus more commonly in the winter.

Mucous food-fighters:

Now that we know why it happens, what can we do to fight this mucous monster?  

First off, always make sure to eat foods rich in nutrients to help keep the immune system strong throughout the winter months. Here are a few of my favourite immune supporting superfoods:

Camu Camu Berry:  This berry is not native to our area of the world and we typically find it in a dried powder form or as a juice at the health food store. Camu camu berry is loaded with a variety of vitamins and minerals, but is most famous for its incredibly high concentration of vitamin C. The powder and juice have a bitter-sweet flavour and they both mix well into a smoothie or other fruit juice.

Raw Honey: This superfood is considered a universal medicine. Honey in its raw form (not processed or pasteurized) is nature’s richest source of live healing enzymes. Manuka honey from the New Zealand rainforest has the most abundant collection of these enzymes. Raw honey not only strengthens the immune system, but it also helps kill off a wide variety of invading organisms as it has anti-fungal, anti-biotic and anti-viral properties. The best part is it tastes great right off the spoon!

photo by J. Gabriel

One of my favourite ways to use raw honey is in a warm soothing drink. In a mug of hot water add ½ teaspoon grated ginger root or a ginger tea bag, 1 teaspoon lemon juice and 1 teaspoon raw honey. Add the raw honey once the water has cooled to a drinkable temperature to prevent killing the healing enzymes it contains. This warm, yummy drink is great for coating a sore throat, soothing an upset stomach, and is helpful for killing off an infection. As an added bonus, ginger is a strong detoxifier and works at healing imbalances that are responsible for excess mucous production. 
*NOTE: Raw honey should not be given to infants under 1 years old.

Goji Berries: These little red berries are becoming increasingly popular as we learn more about the many health benefits they provide. Goji berries are typically found in dried form in the grocery or health food store. These berries are world-renowned for their immune-boosting capabilities. Goji berries enhance the functioning of the thymus gland, and therefore, increase immune system activation. This mechanism plays a specific role in protecting us against viral infections (the main cause for the mucous party in your face). Goji berries are a great addition to trail mix, blended into a smoothie or on top of your salad.

When dealing with a mucous monster there are also foods we should avoid:  

Dairy: We always think of comfort foods when we’re sick and hear about kids getting ice cream in the hospital after having their tonsils removed. Unfortunately, that is one of the worst foods to have at that time! Dairy products can create a lot of phlegm and mucous in the body, in addition to thickening any already present secretions. It only enhances the mucous monster state we are in. Dairy should be avoided completely when we are sick.

photo by Pat Herman

Sugar: It’s commonly known by now that sugar affects the body in many adverse ways. One is that it reduces the effectiveness of the immune system. Did you know that 1 tsp (4g) can reduce the immune system’s effectiveness by 50% for up to 6 hours? Wowzers! That’s a dramatic hit to our defenses. So, the ice cream after a tonsillectomy not only increases mucous production but also knocks out the immune system, which is already trying to fight hard against any infection. Double whammy! I challenge you to check the nutritional label on your favourite snacks to see just how many teaspoons/grams of sugar they contain. You may be surprised.

Banana: I know! Who would have thought that banana could ever be bad? While no research exists to back this one up, clinically we see that banana can have a similar effect to that of dairy, thickening secretions and mucous. This is a problem because we need to get the mucous out to get the infection out. Thicker secretions are harder to expel and move. So, pause the banana and welcome in the bone broth!

Mucous busting tools

Ear Oil: Another simple trick to stay healthy in the winter is to utilize ear oil (see recipe in box). You can use ear oil when you feel a cold starting to set in or when your child comes home with the sniffles. The oil works amazingly well at keeping the lymphatic system moving, which helps clear out the excess mucous and drain toxins from the body. Especially relevant in young children, as their eustachian tubes are more horizontal when younger, making drainage more difficult (Check out our Ear Infection article on page ___ to learn more).

Here is how to make an ear oil that you can use when infection strike:

In a small saucepan heat 1 cup olive oil on medium heat.  Add 1 clove of garlic, chopped and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the garlic chunks and let oil cool down until it is warm to the touch. Be sure to test the temperature on your hand before dropping it into the ear. It may go without saying, but hot oil will burn.  

With a medicine dropper at bedtime, put 2-3 drops of warm oil into each ear and block with a cotton ball to prevent the oil from running out. Massage around the ears to help move the oil through.

During a cold, put warm oil in the ears every hour for 3 hours. After the third application you’ll notice everything is draining and the cold will dissipate more quickly.

*NOTE: This treatment is NOT to be used if the eardrum is perforated or if there are ear tubes in place. See your family doctor or naturopathic doctor to ensure ear drum is intact before attempting this treatment.

Mustard poultice: This home treatment is great when mucous has moved down from the head and into the chest (cue the cough!). This poultice is not to be used as prevention, but only when all other attempts at fighting off the monster have failed. Mustard is a rubefacient, which means it stimulates blood circulation. This treatment will increase blood flow to the lungs and encourage movement of mucous that may be trapped in the lung cavities.

Mix one part dry mustard with eight parts flour. Add enough warm water to make a paste. Spread the paste on a piece of cloth large enough to fold over and cover the entire chest of your patient (cheesecloth, flannel, or kitchen towel all work). Voila, you’ve made a poultice! Apply your poultice to the bare chest and relax, covering up to prevent any chill. For adults, leave on for 15-20 minutes. For children, leave on for 10 minutes. Check every 2-5 minutes to avoid burning the skin (this can actually happen). Do not use on children who cannot communicate to you that it is becoming too hot.

Incorporate one, or all of these simple things into your routine, and enjoy a healthy winter season, free from the mucous monster.

For more individualized support this winter see my clinic contact info on my website to book your naturopathic appointment.

Dr Jennifer Kaster ND

Helping you achieve wellness…the natural way. 

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Let the “Joy of the Mountain” Support You During the Winter Months https://drkasternd.com/let-joy-mountain-support-winter-months https://drkasternd.com/let-joy-mountain-support-winter-months#respond Tue, 24 Oct 2017 14:01:30 +0000 https://drkasternd.com/?p=273 We all know it’s the dreaded cold and flu season.  Have you already had your first illness?  Are you surrounded by sneezing co-workers and coughing family members? Being sick can really put a damper on things.  I’d like to share with you my favourite go-to preventative and support for the winter months.  OIL OF OREGANO Read more about Let the “Joy of the Mountain” Support You During the Winter Months[…]

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We all know it’s the dreaded cold and flu season.  Have you already had your first illness?  Are you surrounded by sneezing co-workers and coughing family members?

Being sick can really put a damper on things.  I’d like to share with you my favourite go-to preventative and support for the winter months. 

OIL OF OREGANOOregano

The word “oregano” is from two Greek words, which combine to mean “joy of the mountain”. 

Did you know this plant is a member of the mint family?  If you’ve ever tried oregano oil you may be surprised by this news, since oregano oil sure doesn’t taste like mint.

There are more then 30 species of oregano and only a few have been proven to have real medicinal value.  The highest medicinal grade oregano is found in the mountains of Greece and Turkey and it takes 1000 lbs of leaves and flowers to produce 1lb of oil.

Oregano Oil contains phenols, which are the active components that give it an anti-microbial effect (kills bacteria, yeast, viruses, mold and parasites).  Phenols also give oregano oil it’s immune boosting properties.  A win-win for the winter months.

Very few natural or synthetic agents exist that can kill multiple types of pathogens, but oregano oil can!  Because of this, oregano oil can be used for ailments ranging from athlete’s foot to food poisoning. Not only that, oregano oil also is a source of vitamin A and C, as well as calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, potassium, copper, boron, and manganese.

Since it is a potent germ killer, oregano oil, should be one of your best friends during the winter months as it helps to:

-prevent and remove infections

-strengthen the immune system

-neutralize parasites

-kill viruses and bacteria related to colds and flus

-sanitize your surroundings

Simple ways to begin using “Joy of the Mountain”:

Sanitizer: You can make any regular liquid hand soap into an antibacterial soap by adding 10-20 drops of the oil into your soap dispenser and mixing well.  Always be sure to rinse your hands after washing and avoid touching your eyes.

spray bottleSpray: Reduce the spread of colds and flus around your house or at the work place by simply adding 10 -20 drops of oregano oil into a spray bottle with water and spray it into the air to reduce the germ count in your environment.

Oregano oil has no known side effects, but we still avoid using it during pregnancy or breastfeeding.  The oil can be toxic if used in excess or undiluted.

Looking for more ways to prevent colds and flus for your family this year?  I’d be happy to help. 

Check out my website for my clinic information to book your appointment.     www.drkasternd.com          

Photos courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

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