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WFH on Global TV

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:

https://globalnews.ca/video/6215189/mindful-eating-for-mens-health

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:

https://globalnews.ca/video/6215189/mindful-eating-for-mens-health

Antioxidants For Men

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)

  1. Tomatoes
  2. Green Tea
  3. Blueberries
  4. Dark Chocolate
  5. Artichokes
  6. Raspberries
  7. Kale
  8. Beans
  9. Beets
  10. 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.

  1. 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
  2. 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/
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. 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

Mindful Eating Tips

Practicing Mindful Eating can be intimidating so you can start simple. It’s a practice, and sounds relatively easy but can certainly prove to be more of a challenge. It could be as simple as stopping to enjoy a cup of your favourite tea or even just the first few sips of it, and the effects of slowing down for no matter how short a period of time helps to cultivate a healthy practice of self awareness.  

Mindful Eating Tips

  1. Simply eat. Avoid multi-tasking while you’re eating.
  2. Chew thoroughly. Make sure each bite is well-chewed before swallowing it. Aim for 25-30 bites.
  3. Find a quiet and relaxing spot. Maybe even consider eating in silence, even if it’s just for the first 2 minutes of your meal.
  4. Routine. Set a particular time aside each week to truly savour a few sips or bites, or a favourite beverage or meal.

Canada’s Food Guide also offers the following Mindful eating habits:

Think about the last meal or snack that you had. Can you describe:

How you ate?
            Did you eat slowly?
            Were you distracted?
            Did you eat with others?

Why you ate?
            Were you hungry?
            Was it offered to you?

What you ate?
            What food and drink did you have?

When you ate?
            What time was it?
            How long had it been since the last you ate?

Where you ate?
            Were you in a space meant for eating?

How much you ate?
            How much food and drink did you have?

In support of Men’s health during the month of Movember, we are co-hosting an event with Chef Blair Lebsack, owner of Edmonton’s popular restaurant Rge Rd. Come and join us in learning how to make a mindful meal that is healthy and easy to prepare.

Check out our events page for more info.

Call to register 780-756-7736

Space is limited!

WFH on 630CHED: Mindful Men’s Health!

Last Wednesday morning I had the delight to speak with Chelsea Bird & Shaye Ganam on 630 CHED about our Mindful Eating for Men event coming up on December 1st.  We are SO excited to be teaming up with Range Road to bring this cooking class to Edmonton men, with all proceeds being donated to Movember. 

Did you know that men tend to be in worse health than women?  In honour of Movember we are campaigning to bring awareness to this gender health gap and teach local men how easy it is to prevent illness through the act of Mindful eating.

Please tune in below to listen to our interview with Chef Blair from Range Road as we discuss mindful eating, the nutritive and flavourful benefits of fresh and local ingredients, as well as the event we are pleased to be cohosting on December 1st!



Foods To Improve Mental Health

Mental Health is a Men’s Health Issue

During Movember, discussions are typically focused on cancer and physical well being, but did you know that there is also a mental health component?Raising awareness about men’s mental health is just as important.

According to the Canadian government (1) men are 3 times more likely to commit suicide compared to women, as well as less likely to report depression or anxiety. 

I get it, mental health issues can be hard to talk about. Coming from my own personal experience, sometimes I feel like I am lesser of a person if I admit that I’m having a mental health problem. However, I have learned that there is a certain kind of strength that comes from owning my issues. Which enables me to take better control, ask for help and even make necessary changes, like eating right.


The Gut-Brain Axis

One of the most interesting things I have learned in relation to mental health is that what we put into our bodies really does affect our mental well being.

This is because research is uncovering a correlation between gut health and mental health.  Evidence shows that the communication between the brain and the gut is mediated by the gut-brain axis, which entails the enteric and central nervous systems.

Clinical findings are showing a strong correlation between inflammation of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and the disruption of balance to its healthy microbiome. This imbalance in turn leads to symptoms of disease throughout the body and the mind (2). 

It’s difficult to determine whether it’s stress that causes this disruption or if the disruption causes the stress, anxiety and/ or depression. But we do know that poor diet disrupts the GI’s microbiome. 

The good news is that there are foods that contain probiotics and prebiotics that help keep our GI tract happy and healthy, which in turn helps keep our minds happy and healthy as well!

Probiotics

Probiotics are the beneficial live bacteria that are naturally created in the process of food fermentation. They aid in digestion, immunity, and the stomach’s production of serotonin.

Probiotic Food Sources

  • Yogurt
  • Kefir
  • Sauerkraut
  • Tempeh
  • Kimchi
  • Miso
  • Kombucha
  • Pickles
  • Traditional buttermilk

Prebiotics

Prebiotics are indigestible fibres from plants that ferment in the GI tract, where they help feed and proliferate probiotics. They increase the body’s ability to absorb minerals, strengthen the immune system and improve bowel regularity.

Prebiotic Food Sources

  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Leeks
  • Asparagus
  • Bananas
  • Barley
  • Oats
  • Apples
  • Seaweed
  • Flaxseeds
  • Dandelion greens 
  • Artichokes 

Asking for help

As I stated before, it is also important to ask for help if you are suffering from mental health issues. Break the stigma by speaking to partners, family or close friends about what you are going through.  The people in your life are there because they care. That said, if you are not comfortable with that, that’s ok too.

I urge you to then at least find a psychologist that you are willing to speak to. It is especially important to seek help if you are having suicidal thoughts by contacting crisis support. They truly are there to help in times of need. 

We are teaming up with Chef Blair from popular Edmonton Restaurant RGE RD to create a Movember ‘Mo-ment’. Join us for a Mindful Eating for Men Cooking Class at Rge Rd. All proceeds go to Movember.

Check our Events page or call 780-756-7736 today to register.
Space is Limited!

References

  1. Government of Canada. Suicide in Canada: Key Statistics (Infographic). August 1, 2019. https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/publications/healthy-living/suicide-canada-key-statistics-infographic.html
  1. Mayer EA, Knight R, Mazmanian SK, Cryan JF, Tillisch K. Symposium: Gut Microbes and the Brain. The Journal of Neuroscience. November 12, 2014;34(46):1549015496. http://www.jneurosci.org/content/jneuro/34/46/15490.full.pdf

Join our ‘Mo-vement’ with RGE RD!

We are teaming up with Blair Lebsack, owner of popular Edmonton restaurant RGE RD, to show men how easy it can be to improve their health through mindful eating!

Research shows there is a worldwide gender health gap. Men tend to be in worse health than women. Education and prevention strategies are vital in tackling men’s health issues including prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and mental health/suicide prevention.

Chef Lebsack and Whole Family Health will be teaching local men just how easy it is to prevent illness through the act of mindful eating. We will co-host a men’s health food event on Dec. 1 to mark the end of Movember, where participants will learn a simple recipe and mindful eating tips in accordance with Canada’s new food guide to apply to the everyday choices they make about their food.

100% of ticket sales from the Mindful Eating event will also be donated to Movember. 

Look our for our series of “Mindful Eating for Men’s Health” blog posts that we will share throughout the month.

EVENT DETAILS:

Location:
RGE RD
10643 123 St NW, Edmonton, AB T5N 1P2
Date:
Sunday, Dec 1st  4-6pm
Cost: $50
all proceeds go to Movember

To Register Call 780-756-7736
Space is limited!

Ticket price includes an appy, a cooking class demo by Chef Blair, a taste of the mindful meal, tasty beverages and the recipe. Our team will explain the health benefits.



It’s Movember!

For the month of Movember we want to honour the struggles that men come up against in relation to their health. In regards to gender equality, men generally experience multiple advantages, yet these do not translate into better health outcomes. Men face some unique inequalities in the realm of their health and longevity.

According to an article from the WHO, women are outliving men by between 5.3 years and 11.6 years depending on what country they live in. Furthermore, between 1970 and 2010 the gap in life expectancy between men and women has widened to men’s disadvantage over that 40 year period.


So where has this gender gap come from and why has it widened? According to a WHO European review, men’s poor survival rates may reflect the following factors:

– Greater occupational exposure to physical and chemical hazards
– Behaviours associated with male norms of risk-taking and adventure
– Health behaviour paradigms related to masculinity
– The fact that men are less likely to visit a doctor when they fall ill
– The fact that when they see a doctor they are less likely to report the symptoms of disease or illness

By bringing awareness to these issues we can help to moderate these factors. And while the first two issues are less changeable as they are generally more societal, we can most certainly work with the last three to help improve men’s health.

It is essential to work with the male community to encourage men to reach out for the care that they need and deserve. Please check out our blog throughout the month of Movember to read about more strategies to improve men’s health!

Pregnancy Loss: How to Prevent it

What is Pregnancy Loss

Miscarriage Grief

How a propos that October should be Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. Autumn’s inward turn as the leaves change colour and fall, reflecting Chinese Medicine’s association of the season with grief and sadness. 

Ariel Levy, author of “The Rules Do Not Apply,” speaks to grief in her memoir about how her life was forever changed when she lost her baby at 19 weeks, alone in a Mongolian hotel room. She speaks to how she is reinvented through great loss. 

I am kind of gripped by her description of grief. She speaks about her experience of the ‘body’s betrayal,’ and ‘living in a tunnel of grief- not being able to see outside of it, and feeling isolated, because it was nobody else’s reality but her own.’

I can relate to this. I had 2 consecutive miscarriages in my 7-plus years of trying to conceive. I’ve had my fair share of rejection, failure, disappointment and heartbreak, but for me- nothing quite touches the existentially immeasurable sadness of the love lost in miscarriage. Despite knowing how common it is, I still felt alone in it, which I suppose is fair – as nobody can be inside my experience but me. 

Causes of Miscarriage

About 12 – 15% of confirmed pregnancies end in miscarriage, but an estimated 30 – 60% of all conceptions end within the first 12 weeks (up to half of these pregnancies are not even detected at all.)

The risk of miscarriage increases with age, which can be attributed to poor egg, sperm and/or embryo quality. Other causes can include abnormality of the uterus, poor blood supply, inflammation or infection. Autoimmune factors, hormone disorders (including thyroid disease or diabetes) or clotting abnormalities can also play a role.

Exposure to environmental toxins, smoking, alcohol and high coffee intake also increase the risk of miscarriage.

Recurrent Pregnancy Loss

Recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL) used to be defined as the occurrence of 3 or more consecutive pregnancy losses, but the American Society of Reproductive Medicine has recently redefined it as 2 or more consecutive losses, ending before 20 weeks.

Most of the time, miscarriage is due to a random chromosomal abnormality. However, if you have 2 or more losses in a row your doctor can order you an RPL panel to rule out any of these other physiological factors.

What can we do to prevent miscarriage?

I want to tread lightly here, because although there is much we can do to optimize the creation of a healthy pregnancy, ultimately the final outcome is out of our hands.

In my experience, an important part of this process is identifying what we have control over, taking care of these pieces and resting in knowing that we are doing all that we can while practising with deep acceptance of every outcome.

While I know that we often feel the need to find a reason, or even place blame (often on ourselves), to try to make sense of a pregnancy loss, so much of the process for me has been to practice surrendering to the mystery of it. Even when chromosomal abnormality was confirmed in my case, it didn’t ease the heartache. But breathing and making space to make peace with all the stuff that I couldn’t understand helped.

So with this in mind, I will speak to how Acupuncture, Chinese medicine and lifestyle changes can help to prevent pregnancy loss.

Blood Flow to the Reproductive Organs

Acupuncture improves blood flow to the reproductive organs. This helps to nourish and optimize the environment that oocytes and sperm grow in, supporting them to grow to their peak potential. With optimal egg and sperm, we are able to create the healthiest viable embryo.

With increased blood flow to the uterus as well, this helps to nourish the developing embryo and fetus.

Regulation of inflammation, hormones and stress

Acupuncture also helps to regulate inflammation, balance hormones and decrease stress.

Within fertility research, acupuncture has been shown to benefit hormone response and is associated with lower miscarriage rates.

Threatened Miscarriage

50-70% of miscarriages are due to chromosomal abnormalities, and in the case of threatened miscarriage, there is not much we can do to save a pregnancy that is ultimately not viable. In these cases, we play a supportive role and acupuncture and Chinese herbs help to minimize unwanted complications throughout the miscarriage process.

However, if the pregnancy is viable, and the threatened miscarriage is due to one of the other reasons that fall into the remaining percentage (blood clotting issues, hormone dysfunction, autoimmune factors, inflammation, etc..) acupuncture and Chinese herbs can help.

If there is any spotting or bleeding, acupuncture and moxibustion can help to slow and even stop the bleeding.

Supported Care

Research indicates that when women with recurrent miscarriage receive supported care (including counselling, reassurance, provision of information and practical support) that this care leads to beneficial outcomes with increased live births in comparison to a control group. Women in this study also requested support in the form of non-medical support, including advice about diet, lifestyle, relaxation tools and feeling heard.

Mindfulness, Yoga and Acupuncture

Please join us for our upcoming 6 week Mindful YogaPuncture for Fertility series. Where the benefits of Mindfulness meditation, Yoga and Acupuncture will help to support your fertility, and help you to release stress and recover a sense of peace.

Space is limited!

For more information or to register call 780-756-7736 or email info@wholefamilyhealth.ca

Lumbar and Pelvic Pain Relief in Pregnancy

A 2014 study looked at the effect yoga had in treating pregnancy-related lumbopelvic pain. 

The results of the study were that the pregnant people who had participated in prenatal yoga noticed a greater decrease in lumbo-pelvic pain intensity over the ten weeks of practicing when compared with the group that participated in standard postural alignment over the ten weeks.

Prenatal Yoga is tailored to the the changes that occur in a pregnant body. It is designed to help align the pelvis and provide ease and support to areas of discomfort during pregnancy. This allows for creation of space in areas of the body that will ultimately support labor.

Prenatal yoga is a safe and calm space for mom and baby. It offers relaxation, meditation techniques and breath awareness- all tools that cultivate inward reflections toward oneself and baby. These classes also create community and a sense of support among expectant moms, who all share in this unique experience.

Please join us for our upcoming 6 week Prenatal YogaPuncture series, where we will be offering specialized prenatal yoga with acupuncture points during the final resting pose, to deepen the benefits of your yoga practice.

Thursdays Nov 7 – Dec 12
$150 for 6 weeks
$30 for Drop-in

Space is limited! Register now.

PCOS & Insulin Resistance: 3 Steps to Overcome It

What is PCOS?

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal imbalance that affects one in ten people.  This imbalance of hormones can disrupt ovulation, possibly leading to what looks like a string of pearls on the ovaries under the ultrasound. 

Also called hyperandrogenic anovulation, some people with PCOS have higher than normal levels of male hormones (androgens). Elevated androgens can play a role in blocking the release of the egg at ovulation and can lead to both poor egg quality and a less receptive uterine environment.  These factors make PCOS one of the leading causes of infertility. 

PCOS Includes symptoms such as:

  • Irregular Menstruation
  • Weight Gain
  • Difficulties with Fertility
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Acne 
  • Hair Loss
  • Increased Facial Hair Growth
  • Cystic Ovaries

Insulin Resistance and How It Relates to PCOS

When we eat, our blood sugar levels rise and our pancreas responds by releasing insulin.  The insulin locks onto insulin receptors, allowing blood glucose to pass into cells to be used as energy. 

When blood sugar and insulin levels are chronically high, the body down-regulates the amount of receptors on each cell. This is called insulin resistance.  It causes excess glucose and insulin to float around in the blood. The excess glucose is then generally stored as abdominal fat, leading to weight gain and inflammation.

When insulin rises, it creates a cascading effect that gives the ovaries a signal to release testosterone.  This creates the high androgenic environment that we spoke about earlier.

Additionally, excess body fat causes increased levels of leptin in the blood, the hormone which is responsible for appetite regulation.  Excess leptin also negatively impacts the hormonal environment and impedes ovulation.

High Blood Glucose Levels and Inflammation

Chronic inflammation can also interfere with ovulation and disrupt hormone receptors, stimulating adrenal gland androgens.  This can be due to immune dysfunction, such as an autoimmune condition, which can also be impacted by excess glucose in the system. 

As I understand, glucose molecules are relatively large and complex. When excess glucose molecules float around in the blood, they can damage the body tissues, causing the immune system to not recognize these damaged body tissues as ‘self’.  This then leads to chronic inflammation and an overactive immune system, or autoimmunity, which in turn is known to impact PCOS.

3 Steps to address Insulin Resistance

  1. Change up your diet.  Avoid refined carbohydrates such as sugar, breads, pastas and baking.  Try to eat low glycemic index carbs like vegetables and whole grains. Incorporating a meal plan that allows for meals and snacks every 3-5 hours can help to stabilize blood sugar.  Eat plenty of micronutrient rich greens and vegetables and restrict your fruit intake, as it is high in sugar content. Avoid milk and dairy and ensure that you are eating small portions.  All of these adjustments can help to moderate blood glucose levels and insulin resistance. 
  2. Change up your lifestyle.  Exercising and stress reduction are key in helping to treat PCOS.  We recommend exercising vigorously for 30 minutes, 6 days per week to get the heart rate up.  It is also essential to incorporate stress reduction practices into everyday life. This could look like a mindfulness based meditation practice or the exploration of something that brings you into a flow state, or into a state of joy and satisfaction.   
  3. Seek preconception Traditional Chinese Medicine care.  Acupuncture 2-3 times per week can help to moderate PCOS by facilitating weight loss, reducing stress, increasing insulin sensitivity, reducing blood glucose and lipid levels, regulating endocrine and metabolic disturbances and improving blood flow to the ovaries.  Herbs can also be beneficial in the treatment of both the reproductive and metabolic dysfunction associated with PCOS. Herbs and acupuncture work hand in hand to increase the overall effectiveness in the treatment of PCOS. Finally, an individualized supplement regimen can help to optimize the function of the reproductive system in women with PCOS.

Please send us a message if you would like to book in with one of our women’s health specialists to discover your individualized treatment plan.

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