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What you can do during home isolation to keep supporting your fertility.
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Categories > Nutrition
How does a typical menstruating day look for you? Is it full of cramps, moodiness, cravings, and tears? Or is it introspective, relaxed, and intuitive?
Premenstrual syndrome is just as the name implies; a syndrome. It’s a disorder, meaning something is out of order – out of the ordinary. Sadly, many people face physical and emotional pain during their period and accept it as normal. But I am here to tell you that PMS is not normal!
Our bodies weren’t designed to hurt us, they are incredibly intelligent and work hard for us every single day. Every ache and pain is a signal to us that something is out of balance. It’s important to keep in mind that these signals can be suppressed when we take Advil or Midol. So if we can remember to observe and thank these symptoms, we can see that they relay a message that it is time to make a change.
What do we think of most when we think of ‘that time of the month’? The first thing that probably comes to mind is emotional instability, moods swinging from happiness to anger to tears.
If you’re familiar with Traditional Chinese Medicine, you know that emotions like anger and frustration are related to ‘Liver Qi stagnation’. Although the organ systems in Chinese Medicine are broader functional systems than the actual physical organs, there is some overlap. So one of the major symptoms of PMS leads us to the clue that the liver may be out of balance.
The liver is responsible for regulating and excreting hormones. If it’s congested due to dietary and environmental stress, old hormones get recycled into the body creating hormonal imbalances, like estrogen dominance.
Estrogen dominance is not uncommon, and it is particularly prevalent in those who suffer from endometriosis. It presents in people with essentially too much estrogen compared to progesterone. Estrogen can over saturate the endocrine system for two possible reasons. One, you are taking in too many xenoestrogens. Or two, your body is not breaking down and excreting old estrogen properly.
Xenoestrogens are synthetic and naturally occurring compounds that have estrogenic-like effects within the body. They come from pesticides, conventional makeup, nail polishes, birth control, plastics, BPA, conventionally raised meat, and naturally occurring phytoestrogens come from foods like soy or dairy. These compounds have the ability to bind to estrogen receptors in our bodies and potentially cause hormonal imbalances.
On the other hand, if your liver is sluggish and it isn’t excreting old estrogens properly, they get recycled back into the body creating an excess. The liver is responsible for conjugating old estrogens so that they become water-soluble and leave the body via urine. Because the liver plays such an important role in excreting old hormones, any hormonal imbalance can indicate that the liver is in need of some support.
Signs of estrogen dominance are PMS, mood swings, anger, endometriosis, abnormal weight gain, hormonal acne around the jaw area, irregular periods, cramping, bloating, blood clotting, fatigue, sore breasts, breast cancer.
Estrogen dominance is incredibly common and is not something to be feared. We simply need to understand it to correct it.
HOW DID WE GET HERE?
Pesticides: Pesticides and herbicides are a huge problem if you are suffering from hormonal imbalances or liver problems. Our bodies are bombarded with chemicals on a daily basis and the liver has to deal with it, often creating stagnation. Choose organic produce instead, especially those that are typically heavily sprayed and listed on the ‘dirty dozen list’.
BPA and plastic: BPA can imitate the body’s hormones, and it can interfere with production, secretion, function, and elimination of natural hormones. Try to avoid water/drinks that are bottled in plastic.
Conventional beauty or cleaning products: Often conventional soaps, makeup, nail polish, lotions, perfumes, air fresheners have compounds that can mimic estrogen. Swap out products for organic and eco-friendly products to reduce the chemical load in your home.
Nutritional deficiencies: Zinc, Magnesium and B vitamins all play a role in regulating hormones. Studies suggest that nearly 75% of the population are deficient in magnesium, zinc and vitamin B12. Add these into your supplement regime to help regulate hormones.
Low fibre diet: Estrogen latches onto fibre and leaves the body via stool once it has completed its cycle. If you don’t have regular bowel movements (1-3 times daily), estrogen is reabsorbed into the bloodstream, creating estrogen dominance.
Lack of movement: Movement helps to increase blood flow. More exercise like hiking, yoga, dancing, lifting weights, Qi gong, or swimming helps to reduce the number of fatty deposits in the liver so it can metabolize hormones more effectively.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Focus on supporting your liver with foods and herbs. Don’t eat any dense fat in the mornings so that your liver can continue to cleanse itself and get rid of excess estrogen. Dense fats include avocado, eggs, meat, coconut. Save these for lunch or dinner.
Eat cooked, warming, nourishing meals while menstruating to soothe the reproductive system. Try having baked yams, sweet potatoes, beets, warm soup, warm greens, and cruciferous vegetables such as Brussel sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, etc.
Cruciferous vegetables are an extremely important part of pain-free menstruation due to their ability to stimulate phase 2 of liver detoxification. It is in this phase that old estrogens leave the body. When the liver is overburdened, phase 2 is slowed down, impacting the regulation of hormones.
Drink ginger tea! Ginger relieves menstrual cramps, nausea, and upset stomachs. Try having this before and during menstruation to help avoid cramping. This warming herb helps move blood and the hormones move with it. Remember that it is important to take herbs consistently to really receive their benefits.
MOVE!!! Do some gentle yoga or go for a walk. As difficult as this may seem while experiencing cramps, it will help reduce pain by pumping out stagnant blood pooled up in the liver. By moving blood with movement, you are helping move old hormones out of the body.
Take Broccoli sprout extract. Perhaps one of the most promising supplements to take for estrogen dominance. Sulforaphane, the active compound in broccoli sprout extract, has a unique ability to stimulate the phase 2 liver detoxification system.
The phase 2 pathway is very important since it is the final stage for the removal of harmful compounds and detoxification of excess estrogens. It is so important because it’s actually quite easy to stimulate phase 1 detoxification (for example with herbs and B-vitamins) but it is more difficult to activate the very important phase 2 pathway.
This pathway is essential for the elimination of excess hormones like estrogen. Sulforaphane also has an impressive range of anti-cancer activity by preventing cancer cell replication and reducing tumour growth in women’s reproductive systems.
Drink Nettle and Raspberry leaf tea. Raspberry leaf and Nettle support the reproductive system by supporting the adrenal glands production of progesterone, the opposing hormone needed to balance estrogen. In women’s health, the ovaries get a lot of attention for producing the reproductive hormones. In truth, the adrenal glands share equal responsibility in producing estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. When hormones are thrown off balance, it’s important to look at the health of the adrenal glands as they help to regulate normal levels.
Eat fruit. A woman’s reproductive system is like a flowering tree that requires the proper nutrients to bear fruit. And those nutrients come from, well, fruit. The phytonutrients found in fruit play a critical role in avoiding disease and polycystic ovary syndrome with the help of their anti-cancer and anti-tumour properties. The abundance of antioxidants found in fruit also helps detox a stagnant liver to help remove old estrogens. The active water content in fruit hydrate a thirsty liver and soothe tight muscles that are associated with cramping. Eat an abundance of fruit; especially berries, apples, papaya, cranberries, pomegranates and melons.
Use organic tampons and pads. The chemicals found in conventional tampons and pads are endocrine disruptors meaning they mimic the action of estrogen in the body and cause imbalances. This rule also applies to household cleaning products, makeup, detergents, and food. Buy organic as much as possible.
WHAT YOU SHOULDN’T DO
Try to limit meat as much as possible while menstruating because its hormone content can mess with our own. You should definitely avoid red meat, processed meat, sandwich meat, and conventionally raised meat. Choose organic, grass-fed meat if you do choose to eat it.
Avoid heavy, creamy, cheesy sauces. These are hard on the liver and create even more stagnation.
Avoid oily or fried foods as the fat content slows down the liver.
Avoid consuming ice cream, iced drinks or chilled foods as the coldness increases stagnation and cramping.
Avoid drinking alcohol. For obvious reasons. Especially right before or during your period. We need to support our liver as much as possible during this time, not repress it.
Avoid eating too late in the evening. Nighttime is when the body regenerates all of its organs. Your liver is supposed to be repairing itself, not secreting bile to digest the food that you ate. If you eat late at night, your liver won’t fully regenerate.
Don’t repress your emotions. Repressing your emotions puts stress on your organs and slows down their function. Say how you’re feeling aloud, even if it’s just to yourself, or journal how you feel as a form of release.
It’s the liver!
Farro is the nutritious and healthy ancient grain that we featured in our mindful eating for men’s cooking class when we teamed up with RGE RD’s co-owner, Chef Blair. It has such remarkable health benefits that we wanted to discuss them here in our blog.
1. Farro is fibre packed
We often tend to turn to brown rice to increase our fibre intake. However, farro contains 4 times as much fibre as brown rice. One cup of farro has the equivalent of four medium sized bananas in fibre!
The complex carbohydrates found in farro also break down more slowly, helping to steady our blood sugar levels. The extra fibre is essential to help keep our colon healthy, reduce arterial plaque build up and balance our gut microbiome!
2. Farro is protein rich
Perhaps it isn’t typical to consider grains as a great source of protein, however, farro is packed with protein. One cup of farro provides 28 grams of protein. This is the same amount as a three ounce piece of sirloin steak!
Protein is an essential macronutrient that helps to build muscle, tissue and cells. Higher protein foods can also help to keep the body feeling fuller for longer, causing a rise in fullness hormones and reducing hunger hormones.
3. Farro is highly antioxidant
Whole grains can be just as important as fruits and vegetables, when it comes to being a rich source of antioxidants in the diet. Farro is an excellent source of polyphenols, carotenoids and selenium. These are all important antioxidants for the body.
Antioxidants protect the body’s cells from free radical damage. This can help to prevent against diseases such as cancers, heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and neurodegenerative diseases.
4. Farro is high in B vitamins
In general, B vitamins can be difficult to acquire through a vegetarian diet, and yet they are so essential for our health. Farro contains multiple B vitamins, especially vitamins B3 (niacin) and B2. This makes farro a perfect addition to a plant-based diet.
B vitamins are crucial for metabolic health, helping to convert carbohydrates, fats and proteins into energy. In addition to helping maintain high energy levels, these vitamins also support the central nervous system in general. They keep the brain healthy and benefit neurotransmitter function.
If you want to learn how to incorporate farro into a stupendously delectable meal, please see the recipe from our Mindful Eating Cooking Class with Chef Blair from Rge Rd.
This cooking class was such a hit that we will most certainly be doing another one in the future! Stay tuned to find out where and when!
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It’s still January, which means it’s still national soup month!
In the winter months, we encourage our patients to eat warm soups and stews because they are more easily metabolized and processed by our digestive systems.
The cooking processes involved in creating soups and stews can be likened to pre-digestion. The longer cooking times enable ingredients to harmonize with one another, leading to more rich and complex flavours. This ultimately creates a finished product that is wonderfully comforting to the digestive system.
Nothing is more heartening on a crisp winter day than a warm bowl of soup on your table!
Enjoy the recipe!
NUTTY CHICKEN STEW
4 – 6 uncooked chicken legs with thighs attached – bone in
2 TBSP butter or avocado oil
1 TSP fresh grated ginger
4 garlic cloves crushed and diced
2 large red bell peppers chopped into bite-sized chunks
1 large or 2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into one inch chunks
4 cups of chicken bone broth
1 daikon radish chopped into half inch chunks
1 large can of crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup almond butter (substitute for sunflower seed butter in case of nut allergy)
1 cup garbanzo beans, pre-soaked and cooked, drained and rinsed
1 splash of rice vinegar
1 TSP ground coriander
1/2 TSP ground cinnamon
1 TSP ground cumin
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
1/2 TSP chili powder (if heat is desired)
2 – 4 TBSP fresh cilantro chopped coarsely (depending on how much you like cilantro)
- Dry and salt the chicken pieces. Heat the fat in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, brown the chicken pieces in batches so that you don’t crowd the pot. Once the chicken pieces are browned, set them aside.
- Sauté the onions and leeks in the same fat for a few minutes, until the onions are translucent, stirring often and scraping any browned bits off the bottom of the pot. Add half of the garlic and all of the ginger, sautéing and stirring until aromatic, about 1-2 minutes. Add half of the spices, stirring until aromatic for 1 minute. Add a splash of rice vinegar, stirring and scraping any browned bits off the bottom of the pot. (Any time the spices, garlic or onions are sticking to the bottom of the pot, a small splash of rice vinegar will help to lift stuck spicing from the bottom of the pot to reincorporate the delicious flavours.)
- Add the chicken, the bone broth, sweet potatoes, daikon radish, bell peppers, crushed tomatoes, almond butter, garbanzo beans and the remainder of the spices and garlic. Bring to a simmer and simmer for about 60 – 90 minutes, until the chicken meat falls easily off the bone and the sweet potatoes and daikon radish are tender.
- Remove the chicken pieces from the pot and allow them to cool slightly. Remove the meat from the bones and chop it into bite sized pieces. Discard the skin and bones while returning the meat to the pot.
- Adjust the seasoning with salt and black pepper. Stir in the cilantro and serve!
Do you have a favourite soup recipe?
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Did you know that beef tallow, a form of rendered beef fat, is actually good for you?
We’ve been trained to believe that fat isn’t good for us but in fact, fat is an essential component of our health and well being.
What Is Tallow?
Beef tallow is a form of purified animal fat. The form of purification is called rendering where heat is used over a period of time to get rid of the impurities within the fat. You can render many animal fats such as pork to make lard, lamb and beef to make tallow, and even butter to make ghee.
The Benefits of Beef Tallow
What we now know is that saturated fats found in natural products such as beef, are healthy and important for our overall health.
Many fat soluble vitamins and minerals can be found in beef tallow such as: vitamins A, D, E and K.
Vitamin A is essential for skin, eye, and immune function.
Vitamin D is essential for the absorption of calcium and for immune health.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant that reduces the prevalence of free radicals which can damage our cells.
CLA is a type of fatty acid found in meat and dairy that helps lower our risk of heart disease, type two diabetes, arteriosclerosis, and cancer.
Tallow also has an extremely high smoke point, meaning the fat stays stable at high temperatures, making it great for cooking!
Beef Tallow is Sustainable
At the start of the 20th century and before the boom of Crisco and other toxic vegetable oils, beef tallow was the most commonly used form of fat for cooking.
Not only is this a sustainable source of fat, it is a much better choice for our environment. Vegetable oils made from palm and canola have been linked to deforestation and a high carbon footprint. Some sources have even mentioned grass-fed beef tallow as having a negative carbon footprint!
Beef Tallow is Affordable
Not only is beef tallow great for our environment, but it is something that we can actually make ourselves at home. Here is a recipe to make your own!
How to Render Beef Tallow
- Quality grass fed beef fat (suet)- any beef fat can be rendered into tallow, but “leaf fat,” which lies around the kidneys, is best
- Large stock pot OR slow cooker
- Clean glass jars for storage (wide mouth)
- Cheesecloth or improvised cheesecloth alternative
- Dry rendering (no water) Beef Tallow:
- Trim beef fat
- Chop it into manageable chunks, then trim off bits of meat, blood, gristle, and whatever else you may find including the “cellophane” wrapping around the leaf fat
- Once trimmed, run fat through the food processor (MUCH easier when cold!) until it’s the consistency of ground meat (If you don’t have a processor, just chop fat into small pieces)
- Dump shredded fat into a large stockpot or slow cooker for several hours and use very low heat to begin melting
- Check fat and stir occasionally to make sure it’s not burning
- As fat renders, it slowly melts allowing ”impurities” to rise to the top
- It’s done when there’s clear liquid at the bottom and crispy bits floating on top
- Strain tallow through a piece of cheesecloth or fabric to remove all the “floaties” (you may want to place your cheesecloth inside a colander to make straining easier)
- Pour into jars and allow to harden and cool at room temperature
- Tallow can stay at room temperature for a week or so, but refrigerate or freeze if storing longer (should last several months to a year in freezer)
- Use tallow for frying french fries, in pastries, and other recipes that call for shortening
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Braised grass-fed beef | black garlic-hemp seed coulis
Farro | lentils | leeks | carrots | hubbard squash | apple
Squash & kale salad | cayenne mignonette
Warm tomatoes | toasted walnuts & pumpkin seeds
For all those who missed out on our Mindful Cooking Class with Chef Blair at RGE RD here is the recipe.
Don’t miss out on our next demonstration and taste of a Mindful Recipe with Chef Blair. It was such a hit, we’ll be co-hosting more!
To stay tuned, sign up for our Newsletter Updates!
Serves 4 people
Grass-fed beef | Tandria Dexter or Nature’s Green Acres are great 2 oz/person ~ 8 oz total
1/2 cup beef tallow (or grape seed/ canola oil)
Black garlic coulis
Yields 1 cup (about 225 ml)
2 bulbs (50 grams) – black garlic
1/2 cup (125 ml) – vegetable stock or water
2 tsp (10ml) – sherry or cider vinegar
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) – lemon juice
1/2 oz (15 grams) – hemp seeds
1 tsp (5 ml) – kosher salt (maybe a bit more to taste) 1/2 – shallot
1 tsp (5 ml) – hot sauce
Put all ingredients into a blender and blend. Wipe down sides with spatula and re-blend until smooth and thickened.
1 cup farro
3 cups water
2 tsp salt
Rinse farro with water and add to the 3 cups water in a pot. Bring it to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until the grains are tender, about 25 minutes. Add salt after farro is cooked.
1 cup lentils
3 cups water
2 tsp salt
Rinse the lentils with water and add them to a pot with the 3 cups of water. Bring it to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until the lentils are tender, about 15-20 minutes. Add the salt after lentils are cooked.
1/2 medium sized Hubbard squash (blue hubbard or red october are great)
2 carrots (peeled and diced small)
1 leek (washed, green top trimmed off, thinly sliced)
2 – 3 Tbs beef tallow or canola oil
half cored apple diced
Cut squash in half, scoop out the seeds and discard them. Peel the squash (probably with a knife because the skin is tough) and use a vegetable peeler to make ribbons for the salad. Dice the rest of the squash.
Slice tomatoes in half, sprinkle with a little salt and warm slightly in oven until juices are bubbling.
2 Tbs pickled cayenne (or other pickled pepper like banana peppers)
1/2 cup riesling vinegar (white wine vinegar)
dash of salt
Combine and blend ingredients together.
Squash & kale salad
1 handful Squash ribbons
1 handful Kale (washed and torn into bite sized pieces)
2-3 Tbs Cayenne mignonette
1 tsp salt
Toss kale and squash in cayenne mignonette and salt. Massage the mignonette into the kale and squash. Then let stand and marinate while preparing the rest of the meal.
1 handful pumpkin seeds
1 handful walnuts
1 handful hemp seeds
Dry roast pumpkin seeds and walnuts in a pan or in the oven at 350 F. Once toasted, sprinkle with beef tallow or vegetable oil and salt to taste. Break walnuts into smaller pieces once toasted.
2 tbsp of mixed parsley, thyme, sage (finely chopped)
Assembling & Plating
Cook the grass-fed beef your favourite way (grill, pan sear or braise)
Heat large sauté pan to medium and add 2-3 Tbsp of beef tallow or oil.
Add carrots, leeks, diced squash. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring as needed.
Add pre-cooked lentils and farro and cook for another 5 minutes. Add ¼ cup of water or vegetable stock. Then add apple, chopped nuts and herbs, stirring to incorporate all ingredients. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Slice beef if necessary.
Lay out 4 plates, spread 1 Tbsp of black coulis on the plate and place 2oz of beef on top of it. Divide the vegetable mixture evenly among the 4 plates, and divide kale and squash salad between the 4 plates. Sprinkle with hemp seeds. Garnish with warm tomatoes.
Sit down to enjoy your meal.
Take in the colours and aromas. Reflect with gratitude on all of the hard loving work that has gone into bringing this food onto your plate.
Chew slowly and take in the textures and flavours. Savour it!
Colourful vegetables | anti-oxidants
Prevents cellular and DNA damage | cancer | cardiovascular disease | diabetes | infertility
Grass-Fed Beef | omega-3
Lowers risk of heart disease | stroke | diabetes | depression | infertility
Farro | anti-inflammatory | prebiotic
Reduces risk of heart disease | stroke | obesity | type 2 diabetes | infertility Increases regularity | absorption
Supports mental health via the gut-brain axis
Black garlic (fermented) | probiotic
Supports digestion | immunity | serotonin secretion
Reduces anxiety | depression
Nuts & Seeds | Omega-3 | protein | antioxidant | fibre
Reduces blood sugar | cholesterol | blood pressure
Lowers risk of heart disease | stroke
Supports brain function | cell growth
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We are floored by Edmonton’s response to the Mindful Eating for Men Cooking Class that we will be co-hosting on Dec. 1st with Chef Blair Lebsack from Edmonton’s popular farm-to-table restaurant RGE RD.
Check out yesterday’s conversation with Kent Morrison from Global:
First of all, men’s health is a topic dear to us. Because we specialize in reproductive health, we come across a lot of interesting data. Canadian men die on average 6 years earlier than women, and research shows that sperm counts have decreased by 50-60% in the last 40 years. This rate of decline is steady and research also tells us that sperm are a biomarker of overall health.
So because none of us women at Whole Family Health can grow a moustache, we wanted to create our own ‘Mo’ment’ in honour of Movember. We also know the way to any person’s heart is through their belly – so we teamed up with RGE RD and our Mindful Eating for Men Cooking Class was born!
It has been a delight teaming up with RGE RD to talk about and to plan this event. Together, we have sparked so many delicious conversations about bringing awareness into our relationship with food and cultivating connection with our food.
We’ve been exploring the benefits of knowing and appreciating where our food comes from, what has gone into bringing it onto our plates, how to intentionally prepare it and then how to really really savour it.
So although we love looking at the research to inform us WHAT foods to incorporate and eliminate for disease prevention, we also want to empower everyone to think about WHY we’re eating, HOW we’re eating, WHEN we’re eating and WHERE we’re eating.
Basically this all translates into enjoying our food, rather then restricting our food.
Eating mindfully also involves savouring our food and being present with it through all of our senses – textures, flavours, smells, visual beauty and even sounds! Research shows that avoiding distraction increases the body’s absorptive capacity.
We have had the delight and honour of engaging with numerous media outlets on the topic this month.
Check out yesterday’s conversation with Kent Morrison from Global:
There’s been a huge controversy about fats over the years. Do you remember the 20th century low-fat boom, which was later debunked?
With all the polarized ideas about health out there, it’s hard to know exactly what is best and it’s increasingly difficult to navigate what “healthy” means.
When it comes right down to it, on a scientific level we can deduce that there are certain vitamins and minerals that are essential for healthy living.
Among these nutrients are indeed fats and oils. Fats are needed for the assimilation of fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.
In colder climates fats can be beneficial for supplying deep, internal heat. Fats help to insulate and protect the internal organs while holding them in place.
From a Chinese Medicine standpoint, fats support our yin energy- providing comfort, security, and a slowing and grounding influence. Much like our winter energies that drive us to seek inner warmth, to look inwards, and to store our physical energy.
Fats not only build tissues, they also enhance fluid metabolism, and send nutrients into the nervous system. The predominantly yin aspect of fat is then converted into substantive yang, by providing the body with physical energy and warmth. This is why fats are highly valued in the human diet, we all need to feel secure & comforted. We also like to have ample amounts of energy and warmth while slowing down.
Fats: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly
There are many different kinds of fat out there and not all fats are the same. In fact not all fats are good for us. Fats can be broken down into two categories: Saturated and Unsaturated.
What Are Saturated Fats
Saturated fats primarily come from animal products such as cheese, butter, eggs, and meat products. These fats are solid at room temperature and generally have a high smoke point. They have the fewest rancidity problems of all the oils, making them beneficial for cooking.
What Are Unsaturated Fats
Unsaturated Fats come from plants, animals, nuts and seeds. These oils are liquid at room temperature and can be further broken down into Monounsaturated fats, and Polyunsaturated fats.
What are Trans-Fats
Trans Fatty Acids are found in margarine, shortening, and vegetable oils. The process of hydrogenation to create these substances is particularly harmful as it creates an immune-damaging synthetic fat that elevates blood cholesterol. The FDA actually banned trans-fats in 2018, but they can still be found in some products manufactured before this date.
Fats and Fertility
The most important fats to focus on for fertility are polyunsaturated fats. These fats contain “essential” fatty acids (EFA’s) that the body is unable to make on its own and so must obtain from our diet.
These essential fatty acids include Omega-3 fatty acids: EPA and DHA. EPA and DHA work to mutually support each other and play a vital role in our health and well being.
EPA helps to reduce blood viscosity & clotting, lowers blood pressure, reduces inflammation and prevents ischemia (ie. strokes and heart attacks).
DHA plays other vital roles in the body like supporting brain development and growth.
Omega 3’s have also been known to improve the health of our skin, nails and hair. It is also found in sperm.
EFA’s are also converted into prostaglandins, which play a key role in the function and regulation of every organ and cell in the body.
EFA/DHA and Sperm
Dietary effects on fertility are continually being researched and studied. Many studies in recent years have tested the theory of EFA’s and its effect on male fertility.
Studies show a strong correlation between low DHA concentration and low sperm quality.
Healthy sperm is dependent on the amount of EFA’s present in the diet. Fatty acid consumption has actually been found to change the fatty acid composition of sperm and semen quality. An increase in sperm membrane DHA in humans has been recorded and has been associated with higher sperm motility, normal morphology, as well as increased concentration of sperm.
Sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Fish with the highest amount of EPA/DHA are salmon, mackerel and sardine. Other great sources are herring, anchovy, rainbow trout, and tuna. Capsule forms of fish oils can also be found at most supplement stores and here at Whole Family Health.
Recommended dosages of fish products: Seven to ten ounces of fish per week is sufficient or 500-1000mg of omega-3 fish oil in supplement form.
Flaxseed oil is another great plant source of omega-3 fatty acids. It is important to find sources that have not been processed with exposure to light or oxygen.
Recommended dosages of flax products: four tablespoons of ground flaxseed (flaxmeal) freshly ground or bought in a tightly sealed container and refrigerated, with meals once daily; or one tablespoon of fresh flax oil taken with meals once daily.
Want to learn more about healthy eating for men’s health? Join us December 1st for a Mindful Eating for Men Cooking Class at Rge Rd. All proceeds go to Movember.
Check out our Events page or call 587-200-5589 to register, space is limited!
Pitchford, Paul. Healing with Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition. 3rd ed., North Atlantic Books, 2002.
Men! Let’s have a real conversation about your diet. This should not induce stress, and if it does… Then good! This means you know you can do better! Let’s talk about antioxidants in relation to your diet.
What Exactly Are Antioxidants?
We hear this buzz word used constantly, but do we actually understand the science of it?
An antioxidant is a molecule that inhibits the oxidation of other molecules. Oxidation is a chemical reaction that can produce free radicals, which leads to chain reactions that damage cells. In short, antioxidants prevent cellular damage.
When our bodies can’t keep up with the number of free radicals that are accumulating, it enters a state of oxidative stress. Over time, this can cause a lot of harm and eventually lead to things like cancer, heart disease, cataracts and even autoimmune disorders.(1) Some Factors that can contribute to oxidation include, stress, smoking, alcohol, pollution and poor diet.
What Can We Do To Combat Oxidative Stress?
Well for starters we can eat more antioxidant foods that will kick butt against free radicals. They say to eat the rainbow, because the phytochemicals that are responsible for the pigmentation in colourful plants are also highly antioxidant. Some examples of foods high in antioxidants include: (2)
- Green Tea
- Dark Chocolate
- Goji Berries
The Tomato & Its Super-Antioxidant Powers
I love Italian Cuisine and want to touch more on tomatoes. They are versatile, they have amazing flavour and they have the potential to help prevent cancer.
Tomatoes are part of the carotenoid family and contain lycopene, which is what gives the tomato its red pigmentation. Research shows that this colour molecule is what also gives the tomato its cancer fighting properties.
Tomatoes are specifically beneficial for addressing prostate cancer (3) and recent reviews correlate 9-21mg/day of lycopene to a 9% increase in prostate cancer prevention.(5) Another recent study links high levels of beta carotene in tomatoes with tumor supressing effects in prostate cancer.(4)
What more incentive to include these juicy red balls of joy into your life?
It’s empowering to think that we can have a direct affect on our bodies and boost our bodies’ abilities to fight diseases like cancer. Although more and more research is always needed, it’s definitely exciting that current studies are finding positive results with this red fruit. Tomatoes are very accessible and easy to incorporate into salads and sauces.
Empower Yourself with Colourful Veggies
The take home here is that we want to include antioxidant rich foods. I have outlined the tomato, but variety is the spice of life to your health. Remember to eat the rainbow, as all colourful vegetables are highly antioxidant.
November is Men’s health awareness month. The more we continue to talk about cancer, diabetes, infertility, depression and other common men’s health diseases, the more awareness we bring to these issues and the more we can advocate for their prevention.
We can positively lower our risk of disease through increasing our intake of antioxidant foods. So eat your tomats and talk to your peeps. Keep eating all those healthy colourful antioxidants!
Join us for our Mindful Eating for Men Cooking Class on Dec 1st with Chef Blair Lebsack from RGE RD. All proceeds go to Movember!
Check out our Events Page for more info or Call to Register today.
- Pham-Huy LA1, He H, Pham-Huy C, 2008 Jun;4(2):89-96, Int J Biomed Sci. Free Radicals, antioxidants in disease and health. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23675073
- Monica H Carlsen, et al. 2010; 9: 3. Published online 2010 Jan 22. doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-9-3.The total antioxidant content of more than 3100 foods, beverages, spices, herbs and supplements used worldwide. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2841576/
- Graff RE et al. 2016 Mar;103(3):851-60. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.115.118703. Epub 2016 Jan 27.Dietary lycopene intake and risk of prostate cancer defined by ERG protein expression. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26817504
- Gong X1 et al. 2016 Oct;14(10):966-975. Epub 2016 Jul 12.Mitochondrial β-Carotene 9′,10′ Oxygenase Modulates Prostate Cancer Growth via NF-κB Inhibition: A Lycopene-Independent Function. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27406826
- Chen P, et al. 2015, Medicine Baltimore. Lycopene and risk of Prostate Cancer: A Systemic Review and Meta- Analysis. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26287411
Have you heard that we’re teaming up with Chef Blair from Edmonton’s popular farm-to-table restaurant RGE RD to co-host a Mindful Cooking class? He gave us a sneak peek at one of his nuggets of wisdom: use nuts and seeds instead of creamy or sugary sauces as a healthy way to jazz up your dishes. Not only do they add loads of flavour and texture but they also add a ton of nutrients too!
Nature packs nuts & seeds
Nature packs nuts and seeds full of concentrated goodness, because they need all the nutrients to grow into complex plants.
They are a great source of fibre and contain healthy monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats as well as vital vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants.
When we include them as part of our healthy balanced diet, they can help to reduce blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure.
Monounsaturated fats help to reduce bad cholesterol levels in the blood and can lower the risk of heart disease and stroke. They also provide the nutrients that we need to develop and maintain our cells.
We need polyunsaturated fats for brain function, cell growth, as well as to build cell membranes and nerve coverings. Our bodies don’t make these essential fatty acids, so it’s important that we get them from our diet.
Hemp seeds are one of the few plants that is a source of complete protein, containing essential amino acids that our body can’t make. They are also super protein-dense, 25% of their calories coming from protein. So 2-3 tablespoons of hemp seeds provide about 11 grams of protein- making it a comparable protein source to beef and lamb.
They are also a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids, which are associated with a lower risk of cancer, diabetes, heart disease and better sperm quality.
Pumpkin seeds are a wonderful source of healthy fats, magnesium and anti-oxidants like carotenoids and vitamin E.
They are high in magnesium, which is essential to hundreds of chemical reactions in the body like regulating blood pressure, reducing the risk of heart disease, formation and maintenance of healthy bones, and regulating blood sugar levels.
Walnuts are a super plant source of Omega -3 fatty acids.
Studies show that the polyunsaturated fats, polyphenols and vitamin E found in walnuts reduce oxidative damage and inflammation in the brain. Research also correlates them with reduced risk, delayed onset and slowed progression of Alzheimer’s disease, as they improve learning skills, memory and anxiety reduction.
Walnuts also reduce lipid peroxidation, which is a process that damages sperm cells. Research shows that a walnut-enriched diet improves sperm vitality, motility and morphology.
Mindful Eating & Cooking Class for Men
Join us for an appy, a demo cooking class led by Chef Blair and our WFH Team and a taste of our Mindful Meal. Take home the recipe and a belly full of inspiration and learn how easy it is to cook a meal that’s healthy AND delicious! All proceeds go to Movember.
Go to our Events page for more details or call to register today.
Space is limited!