Leptin and its Role in Weight Loss

 

Article  By Rosemarie Cianci, dietetics student in McGill’s School of Human Nutrition

There is a lot of talk about hormones and their role in weight loss. Leptin is one of those, so we’ll dive right in!

What is it?

Leptin is a hormone that is secreted by fat cells when you eat certain foods and regulates hunger and fullness cues. It reacts to your body’s insulin following the intake of food items. From there, it provides information to the brain about nutrition status. It regulates body weight by decreasing food intake and increasing energy expenditure. It makes you feel full and also allows the body to burn more calories!

What does it do?

Certain foods stimulate the release of leptin more than others. For example, consuming sugars such as sucrose and glucose will cause insulin levels to increase and leptin to be released. However, fructose, which is often found in the form of high fructose corn syrup, does not trigger the release of leptin. Therefore, when you drink foods that are high in HFCS, such as candy and soft drinks, leptin is not released and the body does not receive the signals to decrease food intake. You end up eating more!

What is leptin resistance?

Leptin resistance occurs when the body does not respond to levels of leptin and does not signal fullness. This often occurs in those who are overweight or obese as they have more fat cells and therefore produce more leptin. Despite the high production, the brain does not receive the signal from leptin and it is blocked.

Leptin resistance and the lack of regulation may explain why some people have a more difficult time losing weight than others. Their brain may not be receiving the signals of fullness and increased energy burning compared to others!

Can it be supplemented?

The current recommendation is that taking a leptin supplement is not effective when compared to the body’s production. For those who have resistance, even supplements of leptin will not work because their brain does not receive signals from the hormone in any way, whether by pill or from the body’s production.

However, more studies are currently being undergone in this field and this is something that may be on the horizon. A review from 2019 showed that leptin’s mechanism of action is still being discovered and this can hopefully improve the efficacy of leptin as a treatment of obesity.

Overall, there is currently not enough research to note that leptin supplements are safe and effective for weight loss. However, since fructose blocks the production of leptin, it may be a beneficial idea to limit sources of the sugar, especially high-fructose corn syrup-containing foods such as candy and soft drinks.

 

References:

https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/11/11/2704

https://www.nature.com/articles/0802753?proof=t

https://www-ncbi-nlm-nih-gov.proxy3.library.mcgill.ca/pmc/articles/PMC7765993/

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fendo.2021.585887/full

 


Is it normal that my toddler is a fussy eater?

Article by Danielle Kasis Akal, Professional Dietetic Stagiare, McGill’s School of Human Nutrition. 

Fussy eating is a very normal childhood phase. There are all sorts of reasons why children of any age might decide they won't eat what you just offered. Although sometimes the reason behind fussy eating can be complex, most often than not, the reasons behind food fussiness are typical and not something to seriously worry about.

 

Why is my child a fussy eater?

You might have noticed that your child was selective in eating since weaning, or it might be that your child enthusiastically ate new food after weaning and only had developed eating problems between their first and second birthdays.

The main reason for that could be neophobia or the fear of new food. Neophobia is an evolutionary technique where babies develop a suspicion for strange food allowing their ancestors to stay away from anything poisonous. What's good about that is neophobic tendencies tend to phase out with time.

Toddlers also start to develop memories and know well that each meal is not their last. So, they quickly learn that better snacks might be around the corner and that they might be offered something nicer than what's on their plate right now. If the better snack is not at home with you, it is probably at their grandmother's house or in preschool with their toddler friends.

Through the process of refusing food, your child might also be exerting his own sense of self by making his own decision. When children are old enough to understand the joys of independence, they are so keen to put it into practice and exercise what little power they have over the adults around them.

 

Is my child trying to tell me something?

Occasionally, a child's refusal to eat may indicate an emotional problem. You might need to figure out if anything else is troubling them. For example, a gradual or even sudden decrease in appetite might indicate something is bothering your child. Usually, it might be related to a new life event like a new baby, new home or new school.

Some medical factors can also play a role in a low appetite or selective eating tendencies. For instance, zinc deficiency, food allergy or intolerance, constipation, nausea, anemia, or toxic metals accumulation might need to be ruled out by a health professional before making assumptions that your child is a fussy eater. To help with that, you can consult a qualified nutritionist to run the appropriate tests and make proper changes to your little one's diet.

When dealing with a fussy eater, remember those words: Exposure, Model and Avoid rewarding.

 

Exposure:

Given the impact of familiarity on children's eating patterns, regularly exposing your little one to a wide variety of meals and flavours is likely to result in healthier eating habits. Your child’s experience with different tastes can improve acceptance from an early age (even before birth!), according to a growing number of researches. In fact, exposure is specifically helpful in increasing your toddler's vegetable consumption.

 

Model:

According to a recent poll, the strongest predictor of children's intake of fruits and vegetables depended on their parents' consumption of those food groups. One might think that meals accessible in the house, in general, is likely the contributing factor to this. However, we tend to forget children's desire to copy the behaviour of others. Seeing what you are eating may change your toddler's preference for that food. If not, it can also increase your baby's chance to consume that food, which increases liking through taste exposure.

 

Avoid rewarding:

You may have tried bribing with reward foods, and you might have noticed that it often achieves the very opposite of what you intended it to do. You are right; rewarding does not work! It has been consistently shown that reward increases food fussiness, making your little one more resistant to try new food. Next time try to keep meals relaxed and reward-free as it will go a long way to help your child develop a more positive relationship with food.

Will it always be that way? 

The good news is that most children will grow out of fussy eating at some point before reaching adulthood. You will notice once your children start school, they will have a more varied diet. Their diet change will be influenced by what their peers are eating and their ability to make their own choices about food. So, a fussy eater toddler won't automatically become a picky eater adult, especially if they received the proper response from people bringing them up.

 

References:

Dovey, T. M., Staples, P. A., Gibson, E. L., & Halford, J. C. (2008). Food neophobia and ‘picky/fussy’eating in children: a review. Appetite, 50(2-3), 181-193.

Levene, I. R., & Williams, A. (2018). Fifteen-minute consultation: The healthy child:“My child is a fussy eater!”. Archives of Disease in Childhood-Education and Practice, 103(2), 71-78.

Mallan, K. M., Jansen, E., Harris, H., Llewellyn, C., Fildes, A., & Daniels, L. A. (2018). Feeding a fussy eater: examining longitudinal bidirectional relationships between child fussy eating and maternal feeding practices. Journal of pediatric psychology, 43(10), 1138-1146.

Taylor, C. M., & Emmett, P. M. (2019). Picky eating in children: Causes and consequences. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 78(2), 161-169.

Westrom, S., & Hilliard, E. (2021). Picky Eating as a Degree instead of Binary Choice. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 121(9), A59.


Get in their heads - Help your kids reframe the thoughts that hold them back

 

Article by Jill Shein, Psychologist at Openspaceclinic. 

As parents, we know that belief in self is one of the most important qualities to nurture in our children. But sometimes, no matter how hard we try to build them up, our kids may have a different talk track in their own minds…

 

 The problem

 A child can bring themselves down when they tell themselves things like, 

 “I’m not smart enough”… “I’m not pretty enough”… or, “I’m just not good enough”

 And they might not always tell you exactly what they’re thinking. Sometimes, it’s because they don’t want to worry you. Other times, it may be because they feel embarrassed or ashamed by how they’re feeling about themselves. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t help.

 The silver lining of this pandemic is that we are probably more attuned to kids now than we’ve ever been, having spent more time together of late out of necessity. It’s an instinct to notice a change in your child’s mood or personality, or changes in their behavior.

 For instance, maybe you’ve noticed your child is coming home from school more tense, gloomy, or more sensitive about little things that they normally wouldn’t react to. You might have a super-studious kid who suddenly rejects their homework. Your younger child may simply withdraw, or stop engaging in activities they usually find enjoyable.

 

How you can help

 

1. Inquire

The first thing you can do is simply notice and ask them what’s up.

“Hey sweetheart, I’ve noticed you seem a little down lately… what’s on your mind?”

“We all hear our own voice inside our head- what’s yours telling you lately?”  

 

2. Validate

Explain to your child that having feelings of doubt from time to time is a normal part of growing up. This is a really important step that many of us forget to take. We may rush into solution mode because we want to make them feel better, and immediately try to talk them out of that negative thought. This can be counterproductive. Instead, slow down… be sure to acknowledge where they’re at first. Reflect the essence of what you hear them saying.

 “We all have moments when we feel less-than sometimes…”

“Sounds like it feels pretty awful when you tell yourself that you don’t measure up…”

 

3. Change the frame:

Now that they’ve articulated the problem, and they feel heard and understood, you have an opening to help them shift their perspective. Ask your child how they’d like to feel, and get them to focus on the things they like about themselves- their unique qualities, skills and talents. Every child has at least a few positive traits or capabilities that they genuinely believe about themselves.

 “How do you want to feel about yourself?”

 “Let’s try something… can you write down three things you’re most proud of when you think about yourself?”

 Or, if they’re struggling to come up with an answer,

 “Let’s pretend one of your closest friends had to make a speech about you on your birthday. What nice things would they say about you?”  

 This exercise will help boost their confidence, especially if you ask them to re-read the list daily. They will learn to focus on what they do well, rather than on their shortcomings.

 “So maybe I’m not the best basketball player… but I’m a really fast runner!”

“I might not get the best grades in math, but I’m a terrific reader and storyteller”.

“I am a really great friend and people like to be around me”.

 

If your child won’t open up, or if the thoughts they’re harboring seem to be crippling them academically or socially, it might be time to seek some counseling. A trained therapist can help your child challenge the negative, self-defeating thoughts they’re entertaining and help them develop new ways of thinking about themselves and their environment. 

 

Remember: When you change your thoughts, you change your life.


#WhatIEatInADay Trends on Social Media

Article by Dorsa Alavifard, Professional Dietitian at Openspaceclinic. 

Over the last decade social media has become a huge part of our lives. Typically, the first thing we do when we wake up and the last thing we do before we go to sleep consists of scrolling through our favorite social media platforms. While doing this, we are typically bombarded with the many food-related posts out there. More recently, #WhatIEatInADay posts and videos have become increasingly popular.

These posts and videos are appealing to viewers, in particular young adults who want to lose weight, as they display aesthetic and clean meals that promise weight loss and/or replication of the figure of the individual posting the content — an individual who is typically lean, fit, and glowing. In addition, #WhatIEatInADay posts may be seen by individuals who are unfamiliar with nutrition as an easy way to follow ‘meal plans’ in order to look a certain way.

 

 

However, something to be aware of is that such posts and videos are usually coming from people who have no degree in nutrition, and may do more harm than good along the way. For example, these posts show meals that are typically restrictive in both size and the type of food consumed.

 

While this may provide one with a rapid decrease in weight, it may also deprive that individual of important micro- and macro-nutrients (carbohydrates, protein, fats, vitamins, minerals) that are vital for life. Specifically, such nutrients fuel our body, help maintain our muscle mass, promote growth and development, regulate our metabolism, provide us with healthy looking skin and hair, etc. In addition, if weight loss is achieved through following #WhatIEatInADay posts, based on clinical experience, it can be said that this weight loss typically is temporary and cannot be maintained long-term; simply because these diets are not realistic!

If you are looking to lose weight safely and maintain your weight loss, it is best not to rely on #WhatIEatInADay trends on social media. Diets work best when they are individualized based on age, activity level, nutrient requirements, and medical history, to name a few.

 

If you want to achieve a weight goal and want to do that through a structured meal plan, this is where a dietitian can be helpful. Dietitians have been educated to work with clients to achieve a nutrition-related goal, such as weight loss, safely, effectively, and realistically. Your dietitian will work collaboratively with you to develop an individualized meal plan to help achieve and maintain your weight goals long-term.

 

 

Reference:

Papadopoulou, Sousana K. "Rehabilitation Nutrition for Injury Recovery of Athletes: The Role of Macronutrient Intake." Nutrients 12.8 (2020): 2449.


What are the Main Philosophies of Naturopathy?

 

Article by Antonio Colasurdo Board Certified Naturopath at Openspaceclinic.

 

FIRST, DO NO HARM

Naturopaths hold to the tenet of using non-invasive modalities and medicinal substances to minimize the risk of harmful side effects.

 

VITALITY

The body has an inherent ability to heal itself. Naturopaths act as facilitators to this process by identifying and removing obstacles to health in an effort to support the healing process.

 

IDENTIFYING THE CAUSE

Illness does not occur without a cause, and causes can occur on various levels including physically, mentally, and/or emotionally. Therefore, a Naturopath must identify the cause of illness rather than simply acting on the symptomatic expression of a disease.

 

TREAT THE WHOLE PERSON

Every individual is unique. Naturopaths use individualized protocols by understanding the interdependence between the physical, mental, emotional, environmental, genetic, and social factors which may contribute to illness.

 

NATUROPATHS AS TEACHERS

Naturopaths must take time to educate and empower clients concerning their health. This cooperative relationship has an inherent therapeutic value, which may enable clients to heal.

 

PREVENTION IS THE BEST CURE

The ultimate goal of Naturopathy is disease prevention. Naturopaths thoroughly assess any risk factors and hereditary susceptibility to disease and make appropriate interventions with the goal of maintaining health and preventing illness, as much as possible.

 


Is Lettuce Water the Cure to Insomnia as TikTok suggests

 

Article by Danielle Kasis Akal, Professional Dietetic Stagiare, McGill’s School of Human Nutrition. 

You have probably encountered multiple food and nutrition trends if you have been using the TikTok application lately. Many times, TikTok users are trying out those trends and are swearing on their success. The latest being the use of lettuce water to prevent insomnia. Lettuce water is made when one boils water, pours it over romaine lettuce and then drinks the water once it's cooled a bit. If you are wondering if lettuce could be the new herbal tea to aid with sleeping, here is our dietetic intern trying to find the truth of this matter.  

As many are more interested in the medicinal effect of food as opposed to medications, many are looking at ways to improve their life quality, including the quality of their sleep using nutrition. 

 

But does lettuce water really help with sleep?

No studies published have shown that steeping lettuce or eating lettuce that you buy from grocery stores can help with sleeping. But it is understandable why some people might think it does.

The seed oil of romaine lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) was used in folk medicine long ago as a sleeping aid and a sedative when combined with other ingredients like opium. Today, local herbal shops in Iran continue to provide lettuce seeds to pregnant women to treat insomnia as part of their belief in Traditional Persian Medicine (TPM). In addition, researchers have found that some molecules in lettuce extract act as a sedative and pain reliever in mice. Those molecules are known as lactucopicrin and lactucin, found in romaine lettuce extract, and are studied for their properties of inducing and prolonging sleep. 

 

But what made lettuce water trendy today? 

This new TikTok trend could stem from the new study published in 2017 that you see some have mentioned in their videos. Researchers in this study have found that after young mice were fed a mix of sedative (phenobarbital) and a concentrated extract from lettuce seed and leaves, those mice slept 20 minutes longer than those who were only given the sedative.

However, many limitations exist for this study. The concentrated lettuce extract was tested alongside a sedative, which is not the same as only drinking the lettuce water. Also, the lettuce extract from seed and leaves is much more potent in molecules than just drinking steeped lettuce. Finally, mice are not human, so what works in mice does not mean it will always translate to humans.

 

Could drinking lettuce water be dangerous?

Assuming that you are washing your lettuce well and that your lettuce is not harbouring any salmonella or other microbes, placing your lettuce in boiling water is less likely to cause harm. The only thing you might need to consider is drinking a large amount of fluid before going to sleep. This might make you have frequent trips to the bathroom at night, which can be disruptive to your sleep and counterproductive in general. 

 

Then why are some finding this practice useful?

This could be a placebo effect. In fact, many studies have looked at the role of placebo medication vs no treatment on improving insomnia symptoms. It has been shown consistently that getting any placebo might help in most insomnia symptoms, such as how quickly you fall asleep, your total sleep time and your sleep quality. So, after all, this might be a reason why many are finding drinking lettuce water useful.

 

Then what can I do to improve my sleep?

You need to make adjustments during your whole day and not just at night to improve your sleep. Your diet, environment and general well-being all have an impact on your sleep.

You can start by enjoying more wholesome meals, limiting refined carbohydrates and sugar, eating more fruits and vegetables, and avoiding caffeine after 2 pm. Other changes could include getting regular exercise, a good sleep routine and avoiding electronics before bed.  

What if my sleep is not getting better with all changes?

Poor sleep can sometimes be linked to certain medical conditions. If poor sleep is a consistent issue in your life, see a healthcare provider to help you out.

 

Références: 

Kiefer, D. (2019). Lettuce for Sleep? Maybe, but Not in Salad Form. Integrative Medicine Alert, 22(2).

Kim, H. D., Hong, K. B., Noh, D. O., & Suh, H. J. (2017). Sleep-inducing effect of lettuce (Lactuca sativa) varieties on pentobarbital-induced sleep. Food science and biotechnology, 26(3), 807-814.

Yeung, V., Sharpe, L., Glozier, N., Hackett, M. L., & Colagiuri, B. (2018). A systematic review and meta-analysis of placebo versus no treatment for insomnia symptoms. Sleep medicine reviews, 38, 17-27.

10 tips to beat insomnia. (2021). Retrieved 10 September 2021, from https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/sleep-and-tiredness/10-tips-to-beat-insomnia/

 


How to Deal with Anxiety

Article by Joshua Laff, Clinical Social Worker at Openspaceclinic. 

"Have you ever had thoughts or feelings that you can’t shake off, or worries that never seem to go away?  Have you found yourself feeling afraid, but are having difficulties pinpointing exactly what it is you’re afraid of? If so, then you might very well be dealing with anxiety.

The good news is, you’re not the only one. In fact, we all deal with anxiety, but we all experience it differently and with various levels of intensity.  When left unchecked, it can have a significant impact on many aspects of your being, including your self-esteem, your relationships with others, your work life, and even your sex life.

You might also notice physical symptoms or behavioural changes in yourself, including irritability, a lack of motivation or sense of fatigue, difficulties focusing, sleeping, headaches and stomach aches, as well as a general soreness or tenseness. In more severe manifestations of anxiety, some might also experience panic attacks.

But why do we come to develop these thoughts and feelings? While every situation is unique, there are factors in our lives which can worsen anxiety, or contribute to its development.  These can include traumatic experiences, relationship problems, other health issues, financial problems, substance use, or work and study related stressors. Knowing all that, it can nonetheless remain challenging to figure out exactly where our anxiety stems from, and how to begin tackling it to begin making meaningful improvements in our lives.

That’s where seeking help from a professional counselor or psychotherapist help can make a difference. They can help you to explore your triggers and some of the underlying causes for your anxiety, and to ultimately accompany you in developing coping techniques or strategies so that you can manage your daily life effectively. In some circumstances, a professional can also provide appropriate testing to determine if your anxiety warrants more intensive levels of professional or medical assistance. If you’ve started to notice that your thoughts and worries aren’t shaking away like they used to, that they are influencing your behaviour,  are preventing you from going about your day, or are preventing you from feeling fulfilled, these are all signs that it may be worthwhile to reach out to a professional to explore it further. In the meantime, the key is to be patient and kind with yourself. With time, the right strategies, and professional help (if needed), it can become more manageable."


Bloating

 

How to prevent bloating, here are some tips to consider:

Do you often hear that someone you know complains of bloating? or it might be you?

Bloating is when your belly feels bloated after eating. This can be due to excess gas or abnormal movement of the muscles in your digestive system.  

Bloating can often cause pain and discomfort that makes your belly look bigger. For some people, bloating is more related to pressure in the abdomen without an apparent abdominal enlargement. Therefore, bloating for them is more due to increased sensitivity to gas or fluid found in the gut.

Although bloating can result from a serious medical problem, a change in food and certain eating habits can often help you eliminate or reduce your bloating sensations. Here are some tips to consider the next time you experience bloating.

 

1- Lack of regularity in bowel movements

Sometimes constipation can make bloating worse. Because the longer the stool stays in the colon, the more the bacteria in the gut ferment what's there. This will lead to gas and possibly bloating.

Eating high-fibre foods is generally recommended for people with constipation, but fibre can make it worse for people who have gas or bloating.

If you are looking for a way to prevent constipation, drink more water and become more physically active. Those are effective in letting you use the bathroom regularly.

 

2- Eating too fast

Eating quickly is not ideal if you want to avoid bloating after your meal as this will cause you to swallow more air, leading to a lot of gas production. 

You can avoid bloating by eating slowly and chewing your food properly. This will reduce the amount of air you swallow and as a result lead to less gas and bloating. 

 

3- Pay attention to the ingestion of air and gas.

Although bacteria normally produce gas in your gut, sometimes we swallow air or gas from drinks or from the way we eat. For example, carbonated drinks contain carbon dioxide bubbles that are released after they reach our stomachs.  

Other factors can contribute to increased amounts of air swallowed through eating habits. These include chewing gum, drinking through a straw and talking while eating.

 

4- Avoid high-dose sugar alcohols

Sugar alcohols, such as xylitol, sorbitol, and mannitol, are sweeteners used as alternatives to sugar. You can frequently find them in sugar-free foods and chewing gum.

In general, we do not digest sugar alcohols. Our gut bacteria ferment them and produce gas as a by-product. It is important to note that when we consume large amounts of sugar alcohols, they become more challenging to digest, and as a result, we get cramps and bloating.

5- Watch your salt intake

When we eat foods rich in salt, our body tends to retain the liquid we drink, making us feel bloated.

Although you may think you're not consuming too much salt because you don't use your salt shaker frequently, right? Most of the sodium in our diet comes from processed foods, not from the salt we add to the table.

Plus, most of these foods don't taste salty, to begin with. This is why we call these sources hidden sources of sodium. Examples of foods include pizza, canned soups, salad dressings and frozen meals.

 

6- Consult a dietitian to help manage your symptoms

In many cases, bloating can be reduced by a simple change in diet. 

Your dietitian can work with you to identify the best diet changes you can make to relieve your symptoms while being the least restrictive possible in your diet. 

 

Références: 

Agrawal, A., & Whorwell, P. J. (2008). abdominal bloating and distension in functional gastrointestinal disorders–epidemiology and exploration of possible mechanisms. Alimentary pharmacology & therapeutics, 27(1), 2-10.

Agrawal, A., Houghton, L. A., Reilly, B., Morris, J., & Whorwell, P. J. (2009). Bloating and distension in irritable bowel syndrome: the role of gastrointestinal transit. The American journal of gastroenterology, 104(8), 1998–2004. https://doi.org/10.1038/ajg.2009.251

De Schryver, A. M., Keulemans, Y. C., Peters, H. P., Akkermans, L. M., Smout, A. J., De Vries, W. R., & Van Berge-Henegouwen, G. P. (2005). Effects of regular physical activity on defecation pattern in middle-aged patients complaining of chronic constipation. Scandinavian journal of gastroenterology, 40(4), 422-429.

Hyams J. S. (1983). Sorbitol intolerance: an unappreciated cause of functional gastrointestinal complaints. Gastroenterology, 84(1), 30–33.

Lea, R., & Whorwell, P. J. (2005). Expert commentary–bloating, distension, and the irritable bowel syndrome. Medscape General Medicine, 7(1), 18.

Li, J., Zhang, N., Hu, L., Li, Z., Li, R., Li, C., & Wang, S. (2011). Improvement in chewing activity reduces energy intake in one meal and modulates plasma gut hormone concentrations in obese and lean young Chinese men–. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 94(3), 709-716.

Zhou, Q., & Verne, G. N. (2011). New insights into visceral hypersensitivity—clinical implications in IBS. Nature Reviews Gastroenterology & Hepatology, 8(6), 349-355.

 


Supplements. Go Beyond the Label.

 

 

Article by Antonio Colasurdo Board Certified Naturopath at Openspaceclinic.

When clients initially come to me, quite often, a question that I’m asked by those who take dietary supplements is if their current supplement is “good”. Most people buy them online, from a business, or from a company directly. As a professional however, I cannot give a full honest product assessment based off of a label alone, and therefore require more time to look into the product.

Because of that, often times I would need to get back to the client on my opinion once I’ve conducted further research. Often times my process involves emailing the company that created the supplement directly to inquire further into specific areas.

A product label may look good, however this is the potential problem with stopping one’s inquiry at the product label:

Using a data set of 1800 patients, ingesting 375 dietary supplements with subsequent analysis, it was found that only 44% were labeled correctly. The other 56% contained anabolic steroids or other pharmaceutical agents. Problematic product markets included body building supplements, with a 72% mislabeling rate, weight loss supplements, with a 72% mislabeling rate, energy boosting products, with a 60% mislabeling rate, and general health and wellbeing products, with a 51% mislabeling rate.

 

Naturopathic Doctor News & Review – Herbal mislabeling and liver damage

As you can imagine, this is incredibly problematic, and this problem one of the reasons why, as a health professional, I am extremely picky over my opinions on supplement use. Now, I use supplements in practice; however, my recommendations MUST be based in quality, purity, and backed by current and updated scientific literature.

I need the assurance that what is labeled on a bottle, is actually contained within the bottle. This is why my standards concerning supplements is incredibly high, below are some of the things which I look into:

NPN Numbers.

Making sure that a supplement has an NPN Number is paramount. For a natural product to be sold in Canada it needs an NPN and it must be printed on the bottle sold, without one it is illegal to sell the natural product. Now we shouldn’t need to worry about this, however, one time someone walked into my office with a product that lacked an NPN which is why this is worth mentioning.

Third Party Testing.

Personally, I believe that all supplements should go through Third Party Testing; it adds to the credibility that what is claimed to be within the bottle is actually found there. However, many companies don’t perform third party testing as it can be costly. However, this is non negotiable, for me to approve a supplement it must be tested; preferably by a lab that has no affiliations to the supplement company (directly or indirectly).

Product Monographs.

Another important point, not all companies have these readily available for individuals; the only brands, that I know of, which make product monographs are companies that only give access to supplements to health practitioners.

Yes, research on natural compounds, vitamins, and minerals exist and is readily available. However, I believe that research must be performed on the specific product to validate it’s existence. For this reason, the product itself should have research performed on it.

It’s also important to note, for a Medical Doctor to approve any supplement use (or at the very least say that it won’t interfere with any medications, or that it is safe), a product monograph must be provided. Without one, the answer will always be no.

Without third party testing, product research, and product monographs, I stay away.

Certifications.

After all those hoops, I will look at one final point: is the supplement in question certified by a third party organization such as USP, NSF, Informed Choice, Informed Sport, and/or any other professional certifying organization to validate that a product is continuously being tested.

As an example, to maintain an Informed Sport certification each batch of the product in question must be tested and authenticated to make sure that professional athletes in the NFL, NHL, UFC, etc. are not taking something which can get them banned from their sport such as steroids.

If the company which created the supplement decides to discontinue testing, then the Informed Sport certification becomes null and void.

Because of this, some certifications are not only tough to get, but they are also tough to maintain.

Final Product Validations.

Only after I’ve reviewed each of those components do I look at the product label itself. Because if a product fails in any of the pervious stages, I don’t care what the label itself says.

As you can see, a label is really one cog in a much larger machine. Pushing beyond the label is where you’ll discover the validity of a supplement.

It’s easy to sell a supplement on the market, and it’s easy to make cost effective supplements available to the general public; but is the supplement in question actually beneficial for your health? Well that’s another question entirely…

Final Thoughts.

I know that as a natural health practitioner the tone of this article may seem odd; however, I caution the use of cheap supplements as many of them are filled with extra binders, fillers, lubricants, and coatings; and remember, your digestive system has to process all of these.

Not only that, but the form of a supplement will determine if it is absorbed by the body or if it passes through without or with minimal absorption. Many of the cheap supplements use cheap to manufacture forms which are minimally absorbed by the body. Because of this, you may be wasting your hard earned money.


Functional Foods

 

Article by Ashley Finkel, Nutrition Student and Intern at Openspaceclinic.

 

Functional foods are modified foods or food ingredients that provide health benefits beyond the traditional nutrients it contains. Although foods can provide macronutrients like carbs, fats, protein as well as vitamins and minerals; some foods also contain other compounds that can provide additional health benefits. Most functional foods are used to lend protection against certain diseases—but only when eaten regularly and in specific amounts. 

Let’s look at some specific functional foods and what they do! 

Fatty Fish 

Fatty Fish, like salmon, sardines, trout or herring are considered to be functional foods. These fish are functional in particular due to their low mercury content and higher omega-3 fatty acid content. Omega-3 fatty acids are the “special ingredient” here. This is because they are known to reduce blood pressure in those with higher blood pressure and they can help raise your “Good” HDL cholesterol (YES, there is a good cholesterol!). Omega-3s are also very important to consume during pregnancy and childhood. They are crucial for brain growth and development of infants. It is currently recommended to have fatty fish 2-3 times per week. 

Yogurt 

Yogurt is known for being a great source of calcium; but did you know it also contains probiotics and sometimes even prebiotics? Let’s differentiate the two. Probiotics are a type of “friendly” bacteria found in foods. They are microorganisms that are beneficial to gut health and our microbiome. Prebiotics are food components, such as fibers, that are not digested and are instead used as food for the previously mentioned friendly gut bacteria. Together, probiotics and prebiotics encourage a healthy gut. All yogurts contain probiotics and some contain added prebiotics. If not, add some berries to your yogurt to promote optimal digestive health!  

Tomatoes 

Tomatoes are rich in different minerals and vitamins; but the “special ingredient” here is the powerful antioxidant lycopene. Lycopene is a compound found in tomatoes that has a very strong link to prostate cancer risk reduction. Since it is an antioxidant, it helps prevent cell damage. Whether it be fresh tomatoes, tomato paste or a tomato sauce, everyone, especially men over 50, should try to include more of it in their diet to keep cells healthy and to help prevent prostate cancer. 

Garlic 

Along with many vitamins and minerals, garlic contains organosulfur compounds (Eg. Allicin). Studies have shown promising evidence that these compounds can help to lower total and “Bad” LDL cholesterol. Studies also show that garlic may play a role in reducing blood pressure. Although the studies are not conclusive, we do know that garlic is safe and quite tasty when cooked right! Try to include garlic into your recipes regularly; it may not be a cure-all but it certainly provides many important nutrients and compounds to your diet. 

As you can see, foods can provide so much more than calories and carbs. Every bite of food you take, brings along so many special nutrients and compounds that help feed your body and keep it running smoothly. 

 

References 

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/17-health-benefits-of-omega-3

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22113870/

https://www.eatright.org/food/nutrition/healthy-eating/functional-foods

https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/135/5/1226/4663991

https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/garlic