Vitamins 101

vitamins

If you are anything like me, walking down the vitamin aisle is a little overwhelming. Between the different types of brands – generic, name brand; doses, forms and combinations, it can be nearly impossible to know what to choose.

So what vitamins, if any, should you take? Well, as with any other health advice out there, there are varying opinions. In this blog, I am going to provide you with what I have learned. However, this is my opinion and I am not a doctor, naturopath, dietician or other health practitioner. I would suggest taking what you read here and consulting your health care professional as they will be aware of all of your other issues, lifestyle and medications that may be a factor in what vitamins or supplements you should or shouldn’t be taking.

Here is what I know or have discovered:

Multivitamin: This is the basic bare minimum of supplements. Most of us do not get all of the nutrients we need in our daily diets for optimal health. This is why a multi is great. Consider it a “top up” to a good overall diet.

Omega Fatty Acids: 3, 6, 9? One? All 3? What does it do? There is varying evidence to support the claim that it can reduce the risk of dementia, useful in the treatment of depression and bipolar disorder, skin disorders and high cholesterol. It may decrease the risk of stroke, heart disease, high blood pressure, some cancers and rheumatoid arthritis. How much is enough or too much? This is completely dependent on what you are using it for – either prevention/general health or treatment of a condition. Your best bet is to talk to your health practitioner.

Vitamin D is essential in the absorption of Calcium and phosphorus – both needed for healthy bones.   It is an immune system “regulator”. It may reduce your risk of cancer, MS and rheumatoid arthritis in women. It may also help to maintain cognitive function and a healthy body weight.  So how much Vitamin D to take? There is a range recommended for every age and stage in life. Assuming that you don’t receive virtually any Vitamin D from sunshine, most children aged 9 to those 70 years of age should take a minimum 600 IU each day to a maximum 4,000 IU per day. Children in Canada definitely need to ensure that they receive enough. In fact a recent study showed that 80% of elementary school children in Edmonton were Vitamin D deficient.

Calcium: We all know that calcium helps build strong bones and teeth. However it also has been said to increase metabolism, reduce PMS, prevent certain cancers and help your heart. You can get “too much” calcium though so ensure you follow recommended daily intakes. How much? A general recommendation is 1000mg/day. Remember calcium is in many of the foods we eat so be sure to check your labels!

Magnesium. You may not have heard of this one but it has many potential benefits! It may reverse osteoporosis, prevent heart disease, regulate blood pressure, treat migraines, diabetes, insomnia and depression. It also may improve your skin! How much to take? About 300-400mg/day is recommended but again, consult your pro!

These are just a few of the array of vitamins and minerals out there. Hopefully this has shed a bit of light on the subject.

The Key to a Healthy Gut

 healthy-gut2

Your digestive system. It can be the essence of your health. Almost everything (with the exception of breathing and skin soaking it all in) comes in and out through your digestive system. It keeps us nourished, it feeds all of our organs and muscles, can lead to being healthy or being a mess. So ensuring your gut is healthy is imperative. In this week’s blog I brought together some key information on what to do to ensure you keep your digestive system in optimal health.

Issues most often arise with your digestive system due to poor food choices, viruses, parasites, too much caffeine and alcohol, antibiotics, NSAIDs and bad bacteria. These can all damage your gastrointestinal tract, which can in turn lead to a “leaky gut”.

“Leaky gut” means “that instead of foods being broken down, absorbed, and eliminated, partially digested foods can now cross through the damaged area of the intestinal lining and enter the blood stream directly. This leak can cause intolerance that then initiate an inflammatory response in the body and the release of stress hormones. One of these stress hormones is cortisol, which further taxes the body and starts to impair the body’s immune system. This can then lead to a host of issues that may not seem related to the impaired gastrointestinal tract, like allergies, skin conditions, impaired performance, and stubborn weight gain to name but a few.” (Source: http://breakingmuscle.com/nutrition/the-four-rs-how-to-restore-optimal-gut-health)

So now that we have the basic issue understood, what can you do about it? The great news is that there is tons of ways to make your body work better for you. Here’s how to start!

Step One – Remove the foods and toxins from your diet that can be causing the issue. Processed foods, bad fats, alcohol and caffeine to start, and see what else is causing your stomach to ache. Often dairy and gluten cause upset stomachs – listen to your body. Personally if I eat read meat I have a real tough time digesting it – I think of it as a food hangover. So I simply avoid it – including whey protein.  If it just doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.

Step Two – Add things that are GOOD for your gut. Probiotics are key. Probiotics help fight illness by keeping the good bacteria in your system.   Omega 3s, Zinc, antioxidants, aloe vera and turmeric are all terrific. And if you read the Fit Communications blog often, you know that we are HUGE fans of these for various reasons. Add them to your day every day, and you may truly feel a difference.

Step Three – Add items such as digestive enzymes or organic salt to keep your bile salts, hydrochloric acid and digestive enzymes in check. You can buy all of these items at your local health food store. Personally I take digestive enzymes before a meal such as steak that I know will be hard for me to digest. Also before a big meal such as Thanksgiving dinner, I take my enzymes to help my body digest the foods I am not used to easier.

Step Four – A few extra nutritional tips.

  • Cinnamon – its great for keeping your blood pressure in check, but also can help improve digestion. Sprinkle some of your morning coffee or oats
  • Mint, Ginger, Cumin, Nutmeg – all terrific at aiding with digestion and settling your stomach on an off day
  • Fiber is your friend! Add fiber-rich foods to your day along with leafy greens
  • Give the good bacteria a boost with fermented foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, miso soup, bananas, garlic, asparagus and onions
  • Dark chocolate – another great treat! Turns our good microbes feast on dark chocolate. So go ahead and break off another square

Last but not least…chill out! That’s right – your stomach will love you for it. Stress is a key issue when it comes to your overall health, your stomach included. So try and relax…your tummy will love you for it!

 

Sochi 2014 Paralympic Games

Paralympic Athlete

The Sochi Olympics have come and gone.  Many of us are still suffering from an Olympic “hangover”.  Especially with the final day of Olympic fever with the 5 am wake-up call of the Canada Gold medal hockey game February 23.  I, like millions of other Canadians, watched with admiration, pride and support over the course of the two weeks of the Olympics Games.  I have numerous memorable moments that I can site.  Whether it be the opening ceremonies, the figure skating second place heart ache or the gold medal curling, I was glued to my T.V., computer and phone.

The Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games began March 7, 2014 and ended on Sunday March 16, 2014.  My question to you is “what was your favourite moment” of these Games?  What is your favourite sport in the Games?  Are you going to the airport to welcome Manitoban Dennis Thiessen home from his gold medal win in wheelchair curling?

I have to admit that the Paralympic Games is not what I normally think about when I think of the “Olympics”.  However, having watched some of the coverage myself, I was completely blown away by what I saw.

I saw a paraplegic skier fly down the hill in alpine skiing.  This completely amazed me, as it does when I watch any skier, able bodied or not in this sport.  I am too chicken to try to get off a ski lift!

I saw a biathlete with one arm whip across the trails.   One arm!  Incredible.  Did you know that cross-country skiing events include women’s and men’s standing, sitting and visually impaired?  I didn’t!

A total of 45 countries participated in the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Games.  Sports included alpine skiing and snowboarding, biathlon and cross-country skiing, ice sledge hockey and wheelchair curling.

Canada placed 4th in overall results – total medal counts.  This achieved the Canadian team the results goal of 3rd place in gold medal hardware.

So what happens now for Canadian Paralympic athletes and programming after Sochi?  Well according to Anne Merklinger, CEO of Own the Podium, “the future really bodes well in terms of the young up-and-comers that we have”.  They want to focus on the next generation of athletes heading to the 2018 Games.

These athletes are just like any other athletes.  They get the same rush of adrenaline, the same nerves, and the same self-doubt.  They also have the same drive and passion for sport and athletic prowess.  They train just as hard as able bodied athletes.  They deserve the same spotlight. My hope is that anyone who reads this will pay closer attention to Paralympians.

I am sure that these Paralympic athletes, like all able bodied Olympians, would welcome sponsorship.  If you are one of these athletes, or you are a company that would like to sponsor one or a team, contact us and we can help get you two together!

Although you cannot go back and watch events of the Games, you can follow the athletes and organization on Twitter @Paralympic and Facebook “Paralympic Games”, on Google Plus and YouTube.  Tweet about them, share them, like them.  I guarantee they deserve your attention and support!

Motionball 2013

This past Sunday I had the privilege of spending the day playing sports with amazingly generous, positive and spirited people at Motionball 2013.  This was a day of sport, fundraising and fun for Special Olympics.  Our Fit Communications team got to play with Cody, our Special O superstar.  Cody, and all the of the athletes inspire us all in that “we may not win today but will be brave in the attempt”.  This short photo video is a small glimpse into this incredible day!

http://web.photodex.com/view/p8cw6km4/?watch-p8cw6km4

 

Role Models

T Box

What is a role model?  What is a good role model?  That second question is really the one that I find myself thinking about.  Most likely by now, you have heard about Miley Cyrus’s ‘performance’ and costume and the MTV Video Awards.  As much as I am not shocked by her lack of clothes and suggestive ‘dancing’, I am disappointed.  I realize that this is a young woman who is obviously trying to express herself, find herself and break away from her Hannah Montana and Disney persona.  I also realize that this is a free world and she can do whatever she wants to as long as she does not break any laws.

I do, however, have a problem with the fact that Miley is showing a complete disregard for her role in the media as a role model.  There are many young girls that have purchased her t-shirts, bed sheets, back packs etc… that are now looking to her to show them how to act and what to “wear next”.  Like it or not, she is a role model.  This is sad.  So, too, is it sad that Justin Bieber is a role model as well.  For a seemingly “nice, unaffected Canadian boy”, he too has disappointed me.  What is wrong with these kids?  I realize that money and fame has skewed their views of what is appropriate behavior and what is not.  However, I think that they do need to “grow up” and realize that they are being watched and followed by millions of young, impressionable kids, tweens and teens.  They should some responsibility for their positions in society; show some humility and some class.

I have two young girls and I fear what and who will be popular when they are in that stage of growing up.  Will the person they idolize be a star that turns into a drug addict? Who knows!

All I can do is try to expose my girls to other kinds of role models and let them try to emulate those whom I think set good examples of what to do in life.

I am not naïve enough to think that I am going to a) stop them from falling in love with the next Justin Bieber or b) not have them watch television or see a magazine with a scantily clad Miley on it.  I do know that I will do what is within my control to balance these with exposure for them to people I think are good role models:  their aggressive, kick-butt, kick-boxing instructor Auntie Trisha, their positive and business saavy Auntie Andrea, their creative and kind cousin Haylee, their generous, thoughtful and stylish Grandma Dianne, their supportive and loving Baba Joanne, their ambitious and talented Auntie Dani, their entertaining and fun-loving Auntie Moe, their smart and athletic cousin Jaimee and their strong and funny Great-Grandma Joyce.

All of these women in my girls’ lives are positive role models in their own ways.  They are all beautiful physically, but they are also beautiful inside – which is what makes them good role models.  They are all strong, smart women that have integrity and lead by example.  These are the women that I want my kids to look up to.  I hope that my plan to have them spend more time with them, and less watching those other “role models” like Justin and Miley, will develop them into becoming good role models to others down the road.