Making Changes for “Girls”

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At Fit Communications, we are on a mission to make Canadians healthier. In addition, we are super passionate about getting and keeping girls in sport and fitness to not only make them fit and healthy but for all of the other amazing benefits that come along with sport. This includes building confidence and self-esteem and empowering them to know that they can do anything they set their minds to do.

We are happy to see that we are not alone in this passion. Many groups including CAAWS share this belief and are motivated to develop strong, confident women. Lately I have also discovered that there are some product companies jumping on board the “girl power” train.

A recent announcement was made by the Dairy Farmers of Canada that their dairy farmers across Canada are coming together to establish the Fueling Women Champions program and movement.  They discovered and wanted to do something about the fact that women’s sports are overshadowed by media coverage and funding of men’s sports.  They are “committed to helping women succeed and advance in sport, while encouraging a healthy and active lifestyle in which dairy products play a role.”  The program (Womenchampions.ca and #championher) goal is to help women’s sports become more watched, more appreciated and more financially stable. Fueling Women Champions is working with several of Canada’s top athletes, supporting them in their competitive efforts and also facilitating mentorship opportunities for them with young girls and women across the country.

Even cosmetic companies are starting to “get it”.  Let’s face it – most cosmetic companies want you to buy their products. They appeal to our desire to be not only beautiful but strong, smart etc. But some companies go beyond just saying “you’re worth it”. They put their money where their mouths are. They don’t just throw a supermodel in front of us and tell us that we can look the same as she does if we buy their products. In fact they don’t even mention products at all. For years now, Dove has been breaking down standard definitions and stereotypes of what it means to be beautiful and instead, promoting confidence and self-love. A fabulous example of this is the Dove video #MyBeautyMySay  of all different types of women telling their stories of how they were told they couldn’t or shouldn’t do something based on their looks. I love this!

Always, the feminine product, is promoting the “like a girl” campaign and wanting to change what it means to run, throw and fight like a girl. They know that when girls hit puberty, their confidence plummets and half quit sports. Always points out that sadly, somehow the phrase “like a girl” has become an insult. Always wants to change this and is actively taking steps to change our idea of what it’s like to do anything “like a girl”. The commercial/video “Let’s make #likeagirl mean amazing things”, which I ended up crying watching, is one of the ways they are showing us their important messaging.

Covergirl is another cosmetic company that wants to empower girls and women. They realize that too many times girls are told they can’t do certain things like be funny, own their own business or rock. But the Procter & Gambles cosmetic maker’s commercials focus on saying that “girls can.” Their ads feature different celebrities showing the way “girls can succeed, even after being told they “can’t.” This video shows “Ellen Degeneres saying that girls can be funny, Queen Latifah saying that girls can own their own business and P!nk saying that girls can rock.”

So as you can see, things are changing or at least trying to change.  Some companies are finally realizing that women don’t want to see unrealistic images of women to sell products. They want to see real women inspiring confidence and unlimited success in any area they choose.  I believe that most women today want change – for themselves and for our upcoming generation of young women. Hurray to those companies working hard to make the world better for our girls!

If you know of any companies that are doing great things to inspire, support and empower women, please let us know! The more companies we know of, the more we can support their movements and products.

 

Healthy Meals Under $20

HEALTHY (1)I heard an ad on the radio the other day from a grocery chain advertising that they have family meals for under $40 – hence “affordable”. I am not sure who is doing the grocery shopping for these families but I am pretty sure that most people would agree that a meal at home should not cost $40. In addition, I highly doubt that these meals are nutritious. I decided to challenge this $40 meal with making my meals for my family for under $20. This, of course, requires me to do all of the planning, preparation and cooking. However, I would argue that most of us have to do some level of planning, preparation and cooking when eating at home.

I have come up with my week-long “healthy under $20” meals that I am sure will meet the nutritional needs and taste buds of even the most picky of family members. I have tried to keep the meals fun and interesting and sight a bit of what makes each meal healthy.

Monday – Chicken Dinner:

  • Boneless skinless chicken breasts – chicken is packed with protein, phosphorus to keep bones healthy, niacin to help lower cholesterol and amino acids to help kids grow stronger and taller.
  • Steamed broccoli/brussel sprouts/cauliflower – anti-aging and cancer fighting superheroes! They are packed with antioxidants and selenium, immune boosting phytonutrients, vitamins C and K, potassium, calcium, iron and folic acid
  • Baked potatoes – Potatoes, if cooked healthily, are good for you! They are packed with nutrients and antioxidants. Potatoes and sweet potatoes fight cancer, control diabetes and help you maintain bone health.

Tuesday – Taco Tuesday:

  • Ground turkey or chicken – choose one of these two options instead of the traditional beef variety. Add low sodium taco season and it will be just a yummy as beef and a lot better for you.
  • Shredded choice of dark leafy green lettuce (instead of iceberg) as these high in iron, potassium, calcium, magnesium, carotenoids and B, C, E and K.
  • Diced red or orange peppers – great sources of potassium, manganese (collagen production, blood sugar control, and bone production supporter), fiber and vitamins A, B, C and K. They also happen to have twice the vitamin C content of oranges and are packed with antioxidants.
  • Tomatoes and salsa – tomatoes are a great source of lycopene, a potent antioxidant that may reduce cholesterol and protect against advanced-stage prostate cancer.
  • Whole grain wraps or hard shell tacos and shredded cheddar cheese.

Wednesday – Spaghetti Dinner:

Whole grain spaghetti or spaghettini with tomato sauce – choose a tomato based pasta sauce instead of cream-based. Not only will this be better for your waste-line but also for your health. When tomatoes are cooked, their antioxidant power is increased as it increases the amount of phytochemicals they contain. Add a side salad with choice of colourful toppings.

Thursday – Breakfast for dinner:

Eggs and ancient grain toast, grilled tomatoes and orange juice or a veggie packed omelet.

Eggs have been given a bad rap but they are really an amazing food – they are loaded with nutrients – you can even get omega enriched eggs now. They contain vitamin A, folate, vitamin B5, B12, B2, D, E, K, calcium, phosphorus and selenium.

Ancient grain breads have more protein, folate, magnesium, selenium, B vitamins, iron, phosphorus, fibre, and calcium than wheat.

Friday – Fish & Chips:

Your choice of fish and preparation – you can even do homemade and healthy “battered” fish. Fish is loaded with important nutrients such as omegas, protein, vitamin D and iodine.

Serve with baked yam fries. – very rich in carotenoids, vitamins A, B6, C (helps heal wounds, cancer prevention, prevent cataracts, reduce blood pressure, regulate blood sugar and even treat Parkinson’s disease!), potassium, iron and fiber.

Saturday – Pita Pizzas:

  • Start with whole wheat pita bread – The “whole wheat” label means the wheat in that product hasn’t been refined so healthy components like endosperm and bran are left intact. Unrefined products also have many more nutrients like B vitamins and trace metals like iron, zinc, and copper.
  • Top with tomato/pasta sauce, mushrooms (contain selenium, potassium, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin D and more), chicken, peppers, tomatoes, pineapple (contains a natural enzyme called bromelain, which helps digestion and may also help prevent blood clots, inhibit growth of cancer cells and speed wound healing), ham etc…and top with your favorite cheese.

Sunday – Stir fry:

Boneless skinless chicken breasts, frozen stir fry veggies – frozen veggies are just as healthy as the fresh variety as they are flash frozen and all of the nutrients are preserved. Serve over and rice noodles or brown rice

 

Other ideas include roast chicken dinners, homemade soups, salads topped with chicken and baked whole wheat garlic toast. There are so many options. You are only limited by your imagination and, of course your family’s preferences.

So this week, challenge yourself to take the time to prepare some or all of these healthy meals for your family. You will be giving so much more than your gift of time, but the gift of health.

If you enjoyed this blog, you may be interested in reading some of our other blogs focusing on nutrition or sign up for our newsletter!

Canada Rocks!

Canada Flag

With Canada Day just around the corner, like many Canadians I am thinking about what it means to be Canadian. To me, being Canadian means being AWESOME in so many ways!  Here are a few of the things of which I am most proud and grateful.

  • Personal freedom – to travel, freedom of expression, freedom to marry who you want, how to dress, what religion to follow and what political party to support
  • Laws to protect our citizens – Privacy laws; laws against theft, white collar crime, rape, domestic violence, child pornography
  • “Progressive” and continually progressing rights and equality of all peoples – acknowledgment and fair treatment to people of all ethnicities, religions, gender, age, sexual orientation, social economic status
  • Education – everyone in Canada has the opportunity to receive a free education to grade 12
  • Health care –   If you are bleeding, you can get free stiches; if you break your leg, you receive a free exam, x-ray and cast.  In even the worst cases, that require an overnight or multiple overnight stays, it is of no “cash out of pocket” to you
  • No matter who you are, you are able to access to food, clean drinking water, electricity, heat and air conditioning
  • Nature! Thousands of miles of natural forest, prairies and habitat
  • More Nature! Lakes, rivers, streams and falls
  • Social media – we are allowed to conduct and participate in this technology in Canada
  • Media – freedom to report, watch, read
  • Great beer, better wine, maple syrup, BC salmon, Maritime lobster
  • Timmies!
  • Canadian Whisky
  • Qualities we are known for as a country: Polite, Respectful, Thoughtful, Generous, Smart, Funny
  • Stable government and voting rights
  • Armed forces – to protect us at home and those that need our help
  • Our incredible natural resources and products
  • Newfie accents
  • Canadian girls
  • Intense seasons that build our character
  • Incredible musicians – Leonard Cohen, Celine Dion, Neil Young, B.T.O., The Watchmen, The Hip, David Foster and a vast array of talent in every musical domain
  • CBC and Don Cherry
  • Hockey
  • Amateur sports and super athletes
  • Terry Fox, Dan Akroyd, David Suzuki, Jim Carrey, Mike Meyers, Michael J. Fox, Rick Hansen
  • B.C.’s beauty, Alberta mountains, Saskatoon’s bridges
  • Toronto Blue Jays and Raptors
  • The Kids in the Hall
  • Winnipegger’s humour

I am most proud to be a Canadian because most of us are immigrants from somewhere, yet we can all call Canada home. I am Canadian because of a smart decision my great-grandfather D.L. made.  He decided to leave Russia to bring his family to Canada for a better life.  Thank you D.L.!  I know how fortunate my entire family and extended family are because of this courageous and selfless move that he made so many years ago.

Happy Canada Day!

 

 

GMO 101

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A breakfast consisting of corn flaked cereal with low fat milk and a side of cut up papaya sounds pretty darn healthy doesn’t it? Well, think again. Thanks to GMOs you are likely eating herbicide and pesticide-laced foods wrecking havoc on your health. But what are GMOs? GMO foods or Genetically Modified Organisms are foods produced from organisms that have had changes to their DNA using the methods of genetic engineering. Genetic engineering techniques allow for the introduction of new traits as well as greater control over traits than previous methods such as selective breeding.

GMO crops were first introduced in the 1990s with the Flavr Savr tomato. It was supposed to have delayed ripening properties. This invention of GMOs was thought to perhaps be the answer to end world hunger. This is because the crops could be made to resist pesticides and therefore could increase their yields and decrease costs. However, as we still have world hunger, this was obviously not the case. Instead, the bugs and weeds, like many organisms through time and evolution – learn. They learned to become resistant to the chemicals that were dousing on the crops. This then led to increased use of the chemicals to try to battle these enlightened bugs and weeds. And as I’m sure you know, the more chemicals sprayed on our foods, the worse they are for our health.

Genetically modified foods (GMO foods) have been shown to cause harm to humans, animals, and the environment, and despite growing opposition, more and more foods continue to be genetically altered. The harmful health effects vary from increased allergic reactions to increased direct and indirect cancer rates. They have also shown to cause birth defects, infertility, accelerated aging and immune problems.  They may also reduce antibiotic effectiveness due to consumption through both vegetables and milk. Each year there are many more studies and results published that contribute to the evidence that GMOs are harmful to humans.

“The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) called on ‘Physicians to educate their patients, the medical community, and the public to avoid GM (genetically modified) foods when possible and provide educational materials concerning GM foods and health risks.’ They called for a moratorium on GM foods, long-term independent studies, and labeling.” (Institute for Responsible Technology)

With all of this undeniable evidence stacking up, there has been mounting pressure for Canada to, at the very least, have mandatory labeling of GMO foods and to even ban GMO food production and imports altogether. Unfortunately, Canada is behind the 8-ball on this one. We are one of only a few developed nations in the world that don’t have either of these yet.

Because we have no laws requiring labelling of GMO foods, we are left to fend for ourselves. Without education, how would you know if you are eating a GMO or not? For example, the corn you are buying at the grocery store, unless organic, is probably a GMO. Same goes for your zucchini, squash and papaya! And here you thought you were doing great buying fruits and veggies! Well, so did I.

The only sure way to ensure you are eating non-GMO is to look for the certification and logo “Non-GMO Verified Project” and/or it is certified 100% organic – this is different from simply being labelled “organic” or “made with organic ingredients.” You can find these at some of the big chain grocery stores. Another option is to check local farmers’ produce or markets where you can be ensured that the crops aren’t GMO. Finally, your best bet is to start organic gardening to grow your own produce.

If you can’t do any of the above options – whether due to cost, time of year or your location, then you can at least avoid the products that are the worst GMO foods for you. Here is the list:

Corn – It is one of the most prominent GMO foods. GMO corn has been tied to a number of different numerous health issues including weight gain and organ disruption. You can’t simply think about corn as the corn on the cob you buy at the store. Also remember that these products are based on GM corn: corn flakes, corn chips, cornstarch, corn syrup, corn oil, corn ingredients in processed foods, glucose, fructose, eggs, milk and meat (as these are fed to livestock and cows).

Canola – One of the most chemically altered foods and the second highest GM crop in Canada, canola oil is obtained from grapeseed through a series of chemical actions. Included here are products such as canola oil, margarine and some honeys.

Soy – It is modified to resist herbicides. Monsanto (GMO superstar) still controls the soy market and approximately 90 percent of soy is being genetically engineered to resist Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup. In one single year, 2006, there was 96.7 million pounds of glyphosate sprayed on soybeans alone. Included in this list of things to avoid are: tofu, soy oil, soy protein, soy lecithin, soy beverages, soy puddings and egg, milk and meat (as GM grains are fed to livestock and cows).

Sugar – Almost 100% of all of the white sugar beets grown in Canada are Monsanto’s GM herbicide-tolerant Roundup Ready sugar beets. I’m OK with losing this one – as white sugar is cancer feeder anyhow.

Aspartame – Aspartame is a toxic additive and it is created with genetically modified bacteria.

Papayas – GMO papayas have been grown in Hawaii for consumption since 1999. Although imported to Canada and the U.S. they can’t be sold to countries in the European Union.

Peas – Peas that have been genetically modified have been found to cause immune responses in mice and possibly even in humans. A gene from kidney beans was inserted into the peas creating a protein that functions as a pesticide.

Zucchini, Yellow Squash and Tomatoes – these have all been modified to resist viruses and have longer shelf-life.

Dairy, Eggs and Meat – Your dairy, eggs and meat products may contain growth hormones – this is aside from GM grains the animals are fed. Purchasing these items as organic is key.

Finally, steer clear from pre-made canned soups and frozen foods.

So there you have it. Scary, isn’t it!? I know that I have had my eyes opened to just how important it is to know where your food comes from. My hope is that the more people know about this, the more likely we will have pressure put on our government to work on protecting us from harmful GMO foods and in turn work on making the organic healthy foods more affordable for all.

As with previous blogs about health, we have to be in the driver’s seat of our own health and wellness. That includes learning as much as we can in order to make informed decisions for us and our families. If you feel that this blog has helped you in your own journey toward healthy living, you may be interested in ready more of our blogs on nutrition and health or sign up for our newsletter!

Sources: naturalnews.com, naturalsociety.com, gmoinquiry.ca, Institute for Responsible Technology

 

Veggies 411

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Thank goodness for chefs!  They have made me fall in love with vegetables! No matter what restaurant you visit nowadays, you can find some truly decadent vegetables! Curried cauliflower, grilled brussel sprouts, roasted peppers, spinach salads, glazed carrots, barbequed asparagus or garlic anything! I LOVE my veggies!

We all know vegetables are good for you. But why? What do they actually do for your health? Well I am in no way a dietician or nutritionist but I certainly have done my research! After doing some digging, I have come up with a fairly comprehensive list of veggies, some of their “groupings” and their health benefits. I included some of the benefits of each vitamin or mineral as I go because I also am curious as to what each “does” for our health.

Within the list below, I am sure you will find a few that you can work into your daily diet – whether it is in a soup or a salad at lunch or as a yummy side at dinner. Make it happen. Not only will your health thank you but so will your taste buds!

Allium foods are the super flavors! They have natural antibiotic properties and can help boost immunity, reduce inflammation and fight infection. They include leeks, onions, shallots, scallions and garlic.

Asparagus is a great source of potassium, fiber, vitamins A, C, K and B complex – especially B6 and folic acid. Asparagus reduces inflammation and even fights depression.

Beans and peas are much higher in protein than other vegetables. This is why they are a great “meat” alternative for all those veg-heads out there! They also contain fiber, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium and potassium.  They include peas, lentils, and beans – soybeans, lima, kidney and garbanzo.

Bell peppers are great sources of potassium, manganese (collagen production, blood sugar control, and bone production supporter), fiber and vitamins A, B, C and K. They also happen to have twice the vitamin C content of oranges and are packed with antioxidants.

Carrots are known to improve eyesight due to their high levels of carotenoids and vitamin A. But did you know that they also help protect against cancer? They’re also a good source of vitamins B, C and K, fiber, potassium, magnesium and folate.

Cruciferous vegetables are anti-aging and cancer fighting superheroes! They are packed with antioxidants and selenium, immune boosting phytonutrients, vitamins C and K, potassium, calcium, iron and folic acid Included in this group are broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, and cabbage.

Dark green leafy vegetables are high in iron, potassium, calcium, magnesium, carotenoids and B, C, E and K. Included in this group are kale, spinach, swiss chard, collard greens, parsley and red/green lettuce.

  • Kale, (one cup of raw kale provides 460 percent of your daily vitamin K (prevents osteoporosis and aids in blood regulation and even reduces menstrual pain), 74 percent of your vitamin A and 107 percent of your vitamin C!
  • Spinach also offers an abundance of vitamin A (cancer fighter, eye support, skin protector and immunity builder) and folate too.

Eggplants are one of the best sources of antioxidants. Their high amount of soluble fiber contributes to healthy blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

Squash are rich in carotenoids (cancer and heart disease prevention), vitamins A and C, potassium, magnesium and fiber.

Sweet potatoes and yams are very rich in carotenoids, vitamins A, B6, C (helps heal wounds, cancer prevention, prevent cataracts, reduce blood pressure, regulate blood sugar and even treat Parkinson’s disease!), potassium, iron and fiber.

So there you have it! You receive a slew of health benefits by eating these colourful delights! Ensure your plates are as colourful as possible to ensure you are getting enough of your veggies. Your Mom would be so proud!

If you enjoyed this blog or found it informative, you may want to check out some of our other nutrition blogs or sign up for our newsletter!

 

Fruit 411

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Everyone knows that fruit is good for you. However, very few of us know why certain fruits can prevent or treat specific diseases, illnesses or ailments. I know that “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” – but why? My curiosity has once again gotten the better of me so I decided to research the health benefits of a broad spectrum of fruits. Most, if not all, of these fruits can be found year round at your local supermarket.

Apple – The skin of an apple has a high amount of fiber – to lower cholesterol and keep you regular. It also contains quercetin that can protect you from heart disease and possibly allergic reactions. Apples contain antioxidants that may help lower the chance of developing diabetes and asthma.

Apricots contain lycopene which protects your eyes and prevent heart disease and skin cancer.

Bananas have more potassium than most fruit and may help lower blood pressure levels, reduce your risk of stroke and improve muscle function. They also are a great source of resistant starch – a healthy carb that fills you up and helps boost your metabolism. All the fiber in bananas helps to restore normal bowel function.

Blackberries help reduce the risk of stroke and cancer.

Blueberries are the top choice for antioxidants – which prevent cancer and macular degeneration. Blueberries are great for brain function and memory and may help lower the risk of developing Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. They also contain a good amount of manganese – which assists in your metabolism. Blueberries have even been shown to prevent Urinary Tract Infections.

Cantaloupe is high in beta-carotene, which may help reduce the risk of developing cataracts.  The Vitamin A in cantaloupes make it a great for your skin as it boosts cell reproduction, making it a natural exfoliator. Cantaloupe can help reduce inflammation, prevent cancer and cardiovascular disease, boost immunity and help protect your skin from sunburn.

Cherries contain more of the antioxidant anthocyanin than any other fruit. Anthocyanin may help reduce inflammation and ease the pain of arthritis and even lower cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of cancer.

Cranberries are antibacterial so they can help treat and prevent urinary tract infections, prevent kidney stones and ulcers. They may slow the growth of some cancer cells.

Dragon fruit – These fruits aren’t scary at all as it turns out! They have a ton of essential fatty acids, which we need but can’t be made by our body. These essential fatty acids lower bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol.

Grapes – Red grapes, like red wine, contain resveratrol, an antioxidant that may lower your risk of heart disease and cancer.

Grapefruit -Pink grapefruit contain lycopene and flavonoids, which may help protect against some types of cancer and have been shown to reduce cholesterol. It may also improve your metabolism.

Guavas – help treat high blood pressure, colds, constipation and diarrhea.

Kiwis have more vitamin C than oranges and help in the development and maintenance of bones, cartilage, teeth and gums. They can also help lower your risk of heart disease and of cataracts. They have also been shown to boost the immune system and prevent the effects of asthma and reduced coughing and wheezing. They also might help reduce the occurrence of colon cancer.

Mangoes are high in the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which may help protect vision and reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration

Oranges – We know oranges are a good source of vitamin C. But they also are good sources of potassium and folate – an important vitamin for pregnant women that can help prevent neural tube defects.

Papayas are a good source of folate and contain papain, an enzyme that aids digestion. Plus, their high vitamin A content aids in maintaining the health of the skin. This vitamin A coupled with vitamin E may help protect against heart disease and colon cancer.

Peaches regulate the immune system and help to fight off infections.

Pears can help prevent constipation, reduce blood cholesterol levels and prevent heart disease.

Pineapple contains a natural enzyme called bromelain, which helps digestion and may also help prevent blood clots, inhibit growth of cancer cells and speed wound healing.

Plums contain an antioxidant called chlorogenic acid which may decrease anxiety.

Pomegranates promote normal blood pressure levels and reduce the risk of heart attacks. They also help reduce the effects of arthritis and have the ability to treat erectile dysfunction.

Prunes don’t just act as a natural laxative. They are also a source of boron which may help prevent osteoporosis.

Pumpkins are loaded with beta-carotene, which combined with potassium may help to prevent high blood pressure.

Raspberries are rich in antioxidants that may help prevent and treat esophageal, cervical and colon cancer.

Strawberries are loaded with antioxidants that have anti-inflammatory properties to slow down the growth of cancerous tumors.

Tomatoes are a great source of lycopene, a potent antioxidant that may reduce cholesterol and protect against advanced-stage prostate cancer.

Watermelon has twice as much lycopene than a tomato!

So there you have it! The A-Z (ok only to W and missing a few letters but…) of fruits that not only are deliciously, naturally sweet, but are super good for you! I am pleased to know that you don’t have to break the bank to get antioxidant loaded fruits. I was surprised to learn that cantelopes, apples, watermelon and kiwis were such powerhouses!

Please note, that the information I have provided is based on my own research. I am not a doctor, nutritionist or dietician nor an expert in the field. If you have specific questions about your health and which fruits may be best for you, please consult your health professional. All I can do is share what I have learned and hope to inform and inspire you to learn more about how to improve your health to make today a happier and healthier YOU!

If you found this blog informative, you may want to check out more of our blogs on nutrition! You may also be interested in signing up for our newsletter!

Living With and Preventing Diabetes

Diabetes Photo

I used to think that people got diabetes from eating too much sugar – or so my grandmother used to tell me. I’m sure she did this so that I would stop eating candy! This is obviously not the reason why people get diabetes. (sorry Grandma!)  I became educated on diabetes when my Mom was diagnosed 3 years ago. Not only was this a stress by the shear medical implications of the disease, but also because it became a huge lifestyle change for my Mom.

Type 2 Diabetes is a disease in which your pancreas does not produce enough insulin, or your body does not properly use the insulin it makes. As a result, glucose (sugar) builds up in your blood instead of being used for energy.

Type 2 Diabetes comprises 90% of people with diabetes around the world, and is largely the result of excess body weight and physical inactivity. Until recently, this type of diabetes was seen only in adults but it is now also occurring in children. In Canada, more than 3 million Canadians are living with diabetes and this number is expected to reach 3.7 million by 2020.

In my research, I found out that Manitoba is in a state of a diabetes epidemic. Manitoba has the second highest per capita rate of childhood Type 2 Diabetes in North America (not Type 1 – which is not linked to certain causes including lifestyle). Manitoba also has the highest rate in Canada – by a huge margin. This was incredibly alarming to learn. The questions then are why are people getting it? Can it be prevented and if you do have it, what do you do?

Apart from risk factors, you CAN do things to prevent Type 2 diabetes including maintaining a healthy weight, regular physical exercise and eating healthy.

If you are diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, you can do things to live a long and healthy life. You need to keep your blood glucose (sugar) levels in your individual target range. You can do this by:

  • Eating healthy meals and snacks
  • Participating in regular physical activity
  • Monitoring your blood glucose (sugar) using a home blood glucose meter*
  • Working toward and maintaining a healthy body weight
  • Taking diabetes medications if prescribed by your doctor
  • Managing stress effectively

The Canadian Diabetes Association (CDA) recognizes that people living with Type 2 Diabetes need help. They need resources and information in order to live their best lives. As such, they are hosting a CDA Expo on Saturday April 23, 2016 from 9 – 1 at the Wellness Institute – 1075 Leila Ave.

“The CDA Expo is for people living with diabetes and those who support them, as well as for those who are at risk for Type 2 Diabetes” says Laryssa Sawchuk, Coordinator, Public Programs and Services Canadian Diabetes Association This free event is headlined by keynote speaker Dr. Ali Zentner, MD. There will also be a presentation from Dr. Kevin Saunders, MD, who is a family physician and the Medical Director of the Wellness Institute of Seven Oaks General Hospital.

According to Sawchuk, “the event offers practical and up-to-date tips on how to live a full and healthy life with diabetes.” As the focus of the Expo is on healthy eating, there will be the opportunity to ask questions to a panel of local chefs and nutrition experts.

I love that the focus of the Expo is on healthy eating! I also love that this is free for anyone to attend. So if you or someone you know has Type 2 Diabetes or is at risk, please share this information with them. It will be sure to inform and motivate them to make healthy changes in their lives. To register for the event go to diabetes.ca/expo or call 1-800-BANTING (226-8464).

At Fit Communications, we are on a mission to make Canadians healthier by spreading the word of health every day. We truly believe in community and supporting each other to be the healthiest and best we can all be. For more blogs about health and community please click here!

Kick Flu to the Curb!

 

chicken noodle soup

Having just survived a stomach flu, then a bad cold and yet another flu, I have done some serious research on not only how to naturally treat colds and flu symptoms but also how to prevent the illness from happening in the first place. One thing that is always recommended is to get a flu shot – especially for those “at risk”. I am not here to take a stance on whether or not to get the flu vaccine. I am, however, here to tell you what you and your kids or family can do help prevent this annoying life speedbump that won’t cost a fortune. I will also note what to do if you find yourself in need of cold and flu rescue!

So first things first – in order to stay healthy, you need to give your body what it needs – a constant supply of nutrients. Some studies show that “optimizing” vitamin D is a way to help prevent illness and shortening duration if you do get sick. Getting enough sleep is also vital to preventing illness. Even a couple nights of not enough sleep can leave the body worn down and unable to resist illness. (I have a 7 month old – hence my flu-cold-flu pattern!) Regular exercise has also been shown to reduce the number of times a person gets ill per year and the duration.

So that is what to do to “prevent”. But if you are stuck in the depth of flu-hell, prevention can take a hike. So here are some ideas on what you can do if you’re in the thick of it. There are so many natural herbs, oils and remedies out there – it is actually overwhelming! So I have picked my top faves. Some may seem unconventional and some may be “old news” but they are all worth a try for a variety of ailments and symptoms!

Hot Liquids– This one is a no-brainer but still a solid recommendation – load up on the hot herbal teas and hot lemon water at first sign of illness. The heat helps boost your immune system and a variety of herbs can help with infection.

Remove White Foods– At the first sign of illness, completely remove all white foods from the diet. This includes grains, sugars, milk, cheese, dairy, sweeteners, soda, etc. These foods suppress immune function and slow the body’s healing ability. Given the reason, it may be a good idea to remove these for your regular diet!

Nettle Leaf – Some natural doctors say this is the only herb needed for illness treatment. It contains large amounts of vitamins and trace minerals and helps the body stay hydrated and remove toxins.

Garlic– It’s a natural antibiotic, anti-fungal and antibacterial. For the most potent effect (and a sure-fire way to keep visitors at bay) finely mince 1-2 cloves of garlic and float in a small glass of water.

Cinnamon – Cinnamon is an effective antiviral and antibiotic. Mix 1 tablespoon with 1 teaspoon of honey and stir to make a spicy and very effective tea that helps relieve cough and congestion and lower fever.

Ginger – In capsule form, ginger can greatly help with nausea and vomiting associated with the flu. It can also help with high fever and headache.

Yarrow – I had never heard of this one! But apparently it is unsurpassed for flu and fever, and great for kids. If a lot is used in tea at the start of getting sick, it claims to shorten the illness to less than 24 hours.

Peppermint – It can be used as a tea or rubbed on the skin to bring a high fever down. It is antimicrobial and antiviral and kids usually love the taste.

Vitamin C – Perhaps the best vitamin for cold and flu, vitamin C in large amounts can greatly speed recovery.

Onions and Garlic – You may want to sleep alone with this one! Slice onion and garlic and place all over the bottom of the feet (rub olive oil on first). Then wrap the foot in saran wrap and place a sock on overnight. Onions and garlic have been shown to pull toxins and help the body heal.

Apple Cider Vinegar Gargle and Drink– Yes Andrea (Fit Communication’s HUGE Apple Cider Vinegar supporter) I will do it! Drink a tablespoon in water (gargle first) at the first sign of illness and repeat hourly until symptoms disappear. This alkalizes the body and helps kill viruses and bacteria.

Hydrogen Peroxide– At the first sign of cold, flu, sinus infection, or ear infection, put a dropper full of hydrogen peroxide into each ear. Lie still with the hydrogen peroxide in the ear until it stops bubbling. Do this on both sides. This is especially effective for kids. Repeat every few hours until infection is gone.

Chicken Soup – It’s been used as a “cure-all” by our grandmothers and their grandmothers’ grandmothers – for good reason! Chicken soup stops certain white blood cells (neutrophils) from congregating and causing inflammation, preventing large amounts of mucus from being produced. The hot soup also thins the mucus. Adding freshly chopped garlic to your soup gives the system a powerful boost as the garlic kills germs outright. Adding red chili pepper flakes to increase the broth’s decongestant power.

Blow-dryer – As strange as this sounds, inhaling heated air may help kill a virus working its way up your nose. Set your hair dryer on warm and hold it at least 18 inches from your face. Breathe in the air through your nose for at least two or three minutes but preferably 20 minutes.

There you have it. Try these to prevent or seek relief from those nasty little bugs that wreak havoc on life. They are all natural remedies so they’re definitely worth a try!

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Wellness Mission

Life's enjoyment

Most of us in today’s modern society have come to the realization that in order to live long and have a good quality of life, we need to be focused on our personal wellness.  Wellness is being is a “state or condition of being in good physical and mental health”. It’s a holistic view of health.

At Fit Communications we are passionate about the promotion of health and wellness for all Winnipeggers, Manitobans and Canadians.  As such, we are happy to share some ideas of things you can do on your own personal journey toward wellness – all in your neighbourhood, no matter where you live.

In my research, I was pleasantly surprised by how many “wellness” focused activities, groups and events there are in every corner of our great province. Great job Manitoba! In addition, some of the items discovered are free! So you it proves that you can be living well no matter where you are or how much money you make.

1)      Exercise – not only will exercise improve your physical condition.  Exercise will also reduce stress, release endorphins to create feelings of happiness, and increase relaxation. One fun way to exercise includes swimming. The City of Winnipeg, Steinbach, Thompson and most communities throughout Manitoba have public swimming pools. You don’t have to be Michael Phelps to partake. You can leisurely lap swim, jump off diving boards or take an Aquafit class. Many pools even have “free swims” to make it an affordable event for the whole family.

2)      Yoga – Although it has been around for centuries, its popularity has risen steadily in North America since the 1980s. Today, yoga studios both big and small can be found in nearly every community. Yoga is both a physical exercise as well as a form of medication and spiritual growth.

3)      Winter outdoor activities – staying active in the winter months does amazing things for our mental and physical wellbeing. A few local Winnipeg favourites include tobogganing at “Garbage Hill” in the west-end, snowshoeing at Fort Whyte Alive, skating on the rivers at the Forks or building a snow man in your backyard. Get outside and embrace winter!

4)      Events! Educate yourself and do your homework.  In order to know what options are available in your area, you have to do your homework. If you have the internet, it’s as easy as a Google search for your interest and your area. Check out these websites that post local wellness-type events:

http://www.besthealthmag.ca/best-you/manitoba-events

http://attachmentnetwork.ca/events/

http://www.manitobainmotion.ca/news/media/?id=79

5)      Cooking. Whether taking a formal cooking class from the town’s best restaurant’s top chef or a community centre class, taking a cooking class is a great way to learn how to choose, prepare, and eat nutritionally sound and healthy foods. This will help your physical self as you attain or maintain a healthy weight, as well as prevent and treat certain diseases, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and other chronic illnesses. Taking one with a friend also makes this a great outing and bonding experience to increase your social wellbeing.

6)      Take an art or pottery class – unleashing your creative side. Express your emotions in a different medium. Locally owned galleries may offer classes or check your local community centre or City of Winnipeg Leisure Guide.

7)      Gardening. By gardening you are getting back to nature. This is probably one of the greatest things to improve your overall wellness. Much research has been done and shown that the benefits to gardening are multiple and cover a wide spectrum. Gardening and participating in community food growing projects can help yourself and your community. They can “contribute to improved social interactions and community cohesion…reduce the occurrence of episodes of stress…reduce physical pain and improve attitudes to healthy eating”. This is especially helpful in northern communities where fresh produce is costly to bring in. Visit http://ahta.org/news/benefits-gardening-and-food-growing-health-and-wellbeing for the full list of benefits to your physical and mental wellbeing.

8)      Get connected with like-minded people to do a variety of activities while building your social wellbeing.  Join a few Facebook groups – or join or create a “Meetup Group” http://www.meetup.com/  The website is all about “neighbors getting together to learn something, do something, share something…”If neither of those are really your thing, look to a local studio, store or community group that hosts workshops, events etc… You can join anything from walking or cycling to photography or parent groups.

I am sure there are many more ways to get fit, inspired or centered. If you have other ways, please share them – with us and your circle. Let’s pass on the positive energy!

Committing yourself to your own wellness isn’t a selfish or self-centered act only about you. It’s about building your community and being “present” with those close to you. Strive for constant self-improvement to live your best life – for life is short and we only get one chance to make the most of it!

Fab Abs

Golden Kate

Kate Hudson showed up at the Golden Globe awards on January 10, 2016 with power house abs! It’s as if she knew I was going to write my blog this week on abdominal exercises and wanted to provide some visual inspiration! I mean – WOW!

So how do you get abs like Kate? OK, well it obviously is a combination of diet and exercise. However, I would like to think that the following exercises will help you get closer to your mid-section goal. As there are 8 abdominal muscles, I have listed my favorite 8 exercises. I realize that my descriptions may not be enough – or the exercises are easier to watch rather than read – so I have included some videos to view.

1) Windshield wipers – lie on your back and raise your legs straight up from your hips – so that your body forms an “L” shape. From here, keeping your upper body flat on your back tips your legs from one side to another – like windshield wipers!

2) Russian Twists – with or without medicine ball – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NeAtimSCxsY

3) Bicycle Crunches – http://www.wikihow.com/Do-Bicycle-Crunches

4) Mountain Climbers – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nmwgirgXLYM

5) Good ‘ole fashioned PLANK! – http://sportsmedicine.about.com/od/abdominalcorestrength1/qt/plank.htm

6) Side Bends with Dumbbells – Stand up and hold a dumbbell in one hand. Bend your side (the side holding the dumbbell) while lowering the weight closer to the floor. Using and contracting your opposite oblique muscles, straighten up to the starting position. Repeat 10-15 times, switch sides and repeat two more times.

7) Flutter Kicks – lie on your back and raise feet 1 foot off the floor. Simulate flutter kicking in water by alternating legs up and down – 30 times!

8) Leg Raises – lie on your back with legs straight up from your hips. Lower legs to 1 inch above the floor or until your lower back comes off the floor. Raise legs back up to starting position and repeat 20 times.

Having a strong core isn’t just to look fab in a bathing suit. You need a strong core to help you avoid injury, have better posture, and make everyday activities easier. The esthetics are just the bonus!

If you enjoyed this blog, we have lots of great information each week on our dedicated health blog. Here are a few more articles you might enjoy… http://fitcommunications.ca/category/fitness/ or sign up for our newsletter!