February 29, 2016

The Health Benefits of Sex


Sex. Yes that's the topic of today's post. Now before I go any further I should add that I am not a sex expert, nor have I had any specific training in sexual health. However, as a girl who has watched all the Sex and the City Seasons at least 5 times I figure that counts for something (joking).

In all seriousness, if you had asked me a couple years ago when I first started the blog if I would ever talk about sex on here I probably would have laughed. But on my mission to discuss all topics health related I realized that sexual health is just as important as our physical, emotional and mental health, and that I shouldn't ignore this often not talked about subject. Plus you so often hear people talk about the health benefits of sex. Things like better mood, better sleep etc. But I have always wondered, is there any evidence to actually support these claims? So I decided to take a look at the evidence and see what I could find. And the number of benefits I found was more than I could have imagined! In fact I found 10 scientifically proven health benefits of sex. Yes 10! So keep reading to learn more.




1. Improved Mood and Mental Health

Women who have more frequent sexual intercourse have been found to be less depressed. One interesting factor is that this only seems to be related to intercourse without a condom (i.e. where semen enters the vaginal canal) making researchers wonder if semen has anti-depressant properties. It's an interesting thought isn't it? And something that is currently being investigated, so I may have more information to share with you in the future. Now, I would never advocate for sex without some sort of barrier protection, unless of course you are in a trusted relationship and have been tested for sexually transmitted infections.

As well, a recent review showed that the frequency of sexual intercourse was a significant predictor of both men's and women's satisfaction with their mental health.  It was also found that women who experience orgasms through vaginal intercourse were more satisfied with their mental health than those who didn't. Now, I highly doubt that your psychologist or psychiatrist has recommended more sex to help improve your mood, but perhaps they should?

2. Increased Intimacy 

In one study examining women, frequency of intercourse correlated with increased satisfaction, intimacy, trust, passion and love in their relationships. What's more, these same women reported that the more orgasms they experienced from intercourse the more they felt satisfied, passionate, trusted and loved in their relationships. Similarly, data from the US found that married women felt more sexually and maritally satisfied with their relationships when they had sexual intercourse at least once per week. When looking at men, it has also been shown that they feel more satisfied in their relationships with increased frequency of intercourse.

3. Better Quality of Life

Quality of life is a broad concept with many definitions. According to Wikipedia, "quality of life is the general well being of individuals and societies". Another definition, that fits even better with my view of the world is that "quality of life is daily living enhanced by wholesome food and clean air and water, enjoyment of unfettered open spaces and bodies of water, conservation of wildlife and natural resources, security from crime, and protection from radiation and toxic substances". Regardless of how you define it, quality of life is extremely important.  And both men and women report increased satisfaction in life (and hence quality of life) with an increased frequency of sexual intercourse.

4. Reduced Pain

It has been shown that sexual intercourse, in both men and women, can have an analgesic effect (in other words it decreases pain). It has also been shown in women that genital stimulation can increase their pain threshold (ie. they don't feel pain as easily). Now, I couldn't find any studies that looked at this effect in patients with chronic pain, but I am curious to know if something similar might be found? If so, sexual intercourse could provide a very useful therapeutic tool if recommended and used properly. 

5. Weight Loss

In both men and women, more frequent sexual intercourse is correlated with decreased waist and hip measurements, which are used as markers of overweight and obesity. And considering that about 70% of the population is considered overweight, and more than 30% considered obese, this has some very important implications. I hear patients complain all the time how difficult it is to lose weight, and exercise regularly, but I have never yet heard anyone complain about having sex. So go get busy everyone! (and if anyone asks, the doctor told you so). 

6. Improved Cardiovascular Health

Heart disease is everywhere. In fact, it's the most common cause of death in North Americans. That's a scary fact. Especially when many cases of heart disease are completely preventable. Better nutrition, exercise and more sexual intercourse can all help lower your risk of heart disease. Studies have shown that the risk of a cardiac event is lower in those who engage in more frequent sexual intercourse. As well, studies have shown that heart rate variability can be increased through sexual intercourse, and that overtime this is predictive of lower mortality (death) in both patients with, and without underlying heart disease. Other studies have shown that men who have more frequent intercourse have lower blood pressure (which is a risk factor for heart disease). And finally, the risk of death from heart disease has also been found to be lower in people who have more sexual intercourse. Now, if you have just had a cardiac event, it is often recommended that you do not engage in sexual activity for a certain period of time, so make sure you check with your doctor to find out what is safe for you.

7. Safer Pregnancies

Preeclampsia is a very dangerous syndrome that can develop during pregnancy. It is a multi-organ disorder characterized by the new onset of high blood pressure, increased excretion of protein in the urine or end-organ dysfunction, or both, in the last half of pregnancy. Women, and their babies, who develop preeclampsia are at an increased risk of death or serious organ damage. Remarkably, multiple studies have shown that increased frequency of sexual intercourse is related to a decreased risk of preeclampsia in women. Why this occurs is still up for debate, but hopefully one day soon someone will figure it out. I for one am certainly interested! 

8. Decreased Risk of Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancers in men. And interestingly, multiple studies have shown that men who get prostate cancer have less frequent sexual intercourse than men who do get prostate cancer. Now, there are also studies that have not found this same effect, and there are no cause and effect (otherwise known as randomized control trials) examining this association (and there never will be since there would be too many ethical issues to try and do such a study) so it is difficult to make any firm conclusions, but considering how common prostate cancer is, it is definitely something to keep in mind. 

9. Decreased Risk of Breast Cancer

Similar to the prostate cancer story in men, women who have more intercourse have been found to be less likely to develop breast cancer. And considering that breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among women, this could have some very important health implications. Now, it must be emphasized that these studies are not cause and effect studies. They are association studies. So it is entirely possible that some other factor could affect these results, but it is still something to consider. 

10. A Longer Life

Sex may just be the unspoken fountain of youth. Many studies have shown that people who live longer have more sexual intercourse. People are always on the look out for that magic supplement, drink or diet that will keep them young and healthy. Perhaps they should be turning to their partner instead?

Alright everyone, there you have it. Ten scientifically proven health benefits of sex. I have to say this was a fun post to write. I learned a lot with this one, and I hope you did too. If you have any questions please let me know. And if you are interested in some further reading I have provided a list of references at the end of this post where the information from this article came from.

As always I would love it if you followed me on my social media pages on  Instagram, FacebookPinterest and  Twitter.


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DISCLAIMER: The statements made on this website have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease. You assume full responsibility for how you use this information. Always consult with your physician or other health professionals before making any diet or lifestyle changes.

References:
1. Brody & Costa, 2009. Satisfaction (sexual, life, relationship, and mental health) is associated directly with penile-vaginal intercourse, but inversely with other sexual behaviour frequencies. 




5. Brody S. Slimness is associated with greater intercourse and lesser masturbation frequency. J Sex Marital Ther 2004; 30:251–61.

6. Brody S, Preut R. Vaginal intercourse frequency and heart rate variability. J Sex Marital Ther 2003;29:371–80.

7. Hall, S. et al. Sexual activityerectile dysfunction, and incident cardiovascular events. Am J Cardiol. 2010 Jan 15;105(2):192-7.

8. Einarsson JI, Sangi-Haghpeykar H, Gardner MO. Sperm exposure and development of preeclampsia. Am J Obstet Gynecol 2003;188:1241–3.

9. Le MG, Bachelot A, Hill C. Characteristics of reproductive life and risk of breast cancer in a case-control study of young nulliparous women. J Clin Epidemiol 1989;42:1227–33.


February 22, 2016

Slightly Sweet Grain Free Granola (Paleo, Nut Free, Vegan, SCD, GAPS, Whole 30)


Hi friends! How was your week? Amazing I hope. I spent most of mine at the Canadian Rheumatology Association annual meeting in Lake Louise. I know life is rough isn't it? Getting to stay for free at the Fairmont Lake Louise is really a sacrifice. If you remember, I was just here a few weeks ago for a friend's wedding so I am pretty lucky to get to come twice in one year. Not something I normally get to do (or can afford) that's for sure. Before this year I had actually never been here before. The minimum $400 per night room charge (isn't that nuts??) is definitely a prohibiting factor.

The weather during the conference was amazing so I managed to hike around the lake, go snow shoeing, go ice skating and even get to the gym a couple times. But don't worry it wasn't all fun and games. I did have to do some learning, and present a poster while I was there as well so you only have to be a little jealous. I learned some really interesting things about lupus, IgG4 disease, scleroderma and pregnancy related rheumatic diseases. Does it sound like I'm speaking a foreign language yet? Don't worry, that's all the medicine talk you will get from me this post.














Yes I went a little photo crazy on some of my adventures. But it's just so pretty in the mountains! I really should make an effort to come out here more often. The fresh mountain air is just good for the soul. Yes, that's a fact my friends. I live so close I really have no excuse not to come more often. But, I also know you don't come here for pictures of mountains and my pretty face (joking guys) so let's get to this week's recipe shall we? I made this Slightly Sweet Grain Free Granola a few weeks ago and have been snacking on it ever since. I think Erik's exact words for this recipe were "I can't stop stuffing my face with this stuff." So yes friends, it's good! And the best part? There is no added sweetener in this recipe. It is sweetened with dates, banana and some raisins. That's it. There are also no nuts in this one either since I know many of you don't tolerate them. Plus this granola works with the paleo diet, SCD diet, GAPS diet and vegan or vegetarian diets. I hope you love it!

As always I would love it if you followed me on my social media pages on  Instagram, FacebookPinterest and  Twitter

Happy eating everyone!


Slightly Sweet Grain Free Granola Recipe 


Ingredients

1 1/2 cups raw sunflower seeds (preferably soaked and dehydrated first) 
1 1/2 cups raw pumpkin seeds (preferably soaked and dehydrated first)
1 cup coconut flakes (I use this kind)

15 dates, soaked in warm water for 30 minutes
1 ripe banana
3 TBSP melted coconut oil (I recommend this brand)
2 TBSP melted coconut butter or manna (buy here)
1 TBSP organic vanilla extract (I use this kind) (omit for Whole 30)


Directions

1. Preheat your oven to 325F
2. In a a large bowl combine the dry ingredients and mix well with a spoon
3. In your food processor combine the ripe banana and the dates. Blend well (if there are some chunks remaining that is fine) 
4. Transfer the ingredients from the food processor to the bowl and mix well with a spoon
5. Add the remaining wet ingredients and stir well to combine
6. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
7. Transfer the granola mixture to the baking sheet and spread well with a spoon
8. Place the cookie sheet in the oven and bake for 15 minutes
9. Remove from the oven, stir and bake for an additional 10-14 minutes (until starting to brown)
10. Remove from the oven and let the granola cool completely
11. Serve and enjoy!

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February 15, 2016

20+ Delicious Liver Recipes (Paleo, GAPS, SCD, AIP)



Since it was just Valentine's Day I figured that today we should talk about something really sexy. Liver.

Okay so not sexy at all. In fact, some would say down right disgusting. Trust me I know. I remember the first time I opened a package of beef liver to cook. That slimy texture, dark color and metallic smell completely turned me off. I had no idea what to do with the thing. All I knew was that it was good for me so I should eat it. The same goes for many things right? But organ meets, like liver, are actually pretty special. Unfortunately, many North Americans choose not to eat it (and until not too long ago I was with you).

Liver (and other organ meats) have been prized by many native cultures for thousands of years because of their numerous health benefits, and rich source of vitamins and minerals. In fact, many cultures ate only the organ meats from animals and discarded the other meats or fed them to other animals (it's crazy how much things have changed isn't it?).

In terms of health benefits, liver is a great source of vitamin A, vitamin B2 (riboflavin), folate, vitamin B12, vitamin B3 (niacin), and vitamin B5. It may surprise many of you to learn that liver is also very high in the omega-3 DHA, which is extremely important to human health, and acts as an anti-inflammatory, counteracting the effects of omega-6. Liver is also very high in many minerals including selenium, iron, copper, phosphorus and zinc. One of the main reasons I decided to start eating liver was because of its high iron content. I have been iron deficient off and on for years, and as someone who truly believes that food can be a form of medicine, I wanted to find a way to increase my iron levels without having to rely on iron supplements. Hence my liver mission. Besides learning how to cook with liver I also relied on grassfed desiccated liver (which can be found here).

Now, like all meats, quality is extremely important. I highly recommend buying liver from animals that are pasture and ethically raised without hormones, antibiotics or commercial feed. Pasture-raised animal meats are much higher in nutrients than commercially raised animals. You can purchase ethically raised meats from US Wellness. You can also use the website Eat Wild to find local sources in your area or contact your local Weston A Price Foundation Chapter.

So, on my mission to make liver sexy I have collected 22 delicious liver recipes for you to choose from. I swear you would never know you were eating liver with most of these. Yes, they are that good! Don't believe me? Try just one. I dare you. Your body will thank you.

Until next time, happy eating friends!

And if you have a chance please don't forget to visit my social media pages on PinterestInstagram and Facebook.


22 Delicious Liver Recipes











February 08, 2016

Grain Free Orange Coconut Muffins (Paleo, AIP, Nut Free)



Grain Free Orange Coconut Muffins! That is what is on today's plate. Don't they look delicious? Trust me they are. But before I let you get to the recipe we have a few very important things to discuss. Like how my week was. Because it was a good one. Why? My boyfriend got a puppy! His name is Finegan (like Mr. Dressup's dog! Did anyone else watch that show? Am I dating myself here?). And what's even more exciting is that his uncle bought Finegan's sister, Luna, so they have been staying together all the time. They are the cutest! Seriously life is just so much happier with a puppy. It's truly impossible to have a bad day with a puppy around. True fact my friends, true fact. Watching them play together is one of the funniest things. Everything is a new adventure! They came from Las Angeles California, so they had never seen snow before arriving. Watching them discover it for the first time was so hilarious! A few things we have learned with these guys around:

1. Anything on the ground (or even 2-3 feet above ground) is not safe!
2. Puppy teeth are sharp (ouch!)
3. You can never have enough toys
4. Walking on a leash is a learned skill
5. Play time is ALL THE TIME
6. Silence is always a bad sign
7. Chewing your food is only optional
8. Even little puppies have big voices when they want to be heard
9. You can never have too many best friends
10. 4:30AM is the perfect wake up time (some of us are not so thrilled about this one)





The not so great part about my week? Being on call for all the hospitals in Calgary. So much time driving in my car! I should really have logged my mileage this week. It would have been ugly. Needless to say I didn't get up to much else this week. Work and puppies. That's about all that's happening around here folks. Oh and food! Of course food. Which is the real reason you are here I know. So let's talk about food. Grain Free Orange Coconut Muffins to be exact. To be honest I am not really sure how this recipe came about. Regardless, these ones are tasty! They make a great breakfast, snack or even dessert. The other great thing about these muffins? They only contain 1/4 cup of honey for the entire batch. With the natural sweetness of orange and coconut there is no need to overdo the added sweeteners. Your tastebuds (and your waistlines) are going to thank me. Plus these muffins are nut free, dairy free, and of course, grain free. These are also compatible with the paleo, AIP and gluten free diets. I hope you like them! 

Until next time, happy eating friends!

And if you have a chance please don't forget to visit my social media pages on PinterestInstagram and Facebook.








Grain Free Orange Coconut Muffin Recipe 



Ingredients

1/2 cup + 2 TBSP organic coconut flour (This is the brand I recommend)
1/4 cup tapioca flour (buy here
1 cup full fat coconut milk 
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup melted coconut oil (This kind is my favourite)
1/4 cup melted coconut butter or manna or concentrate (buy here
1/4 cup local honey
2 eggs (preferably from cage free chickens) 
1 packed TBSP orange zest 
1 tsp organic vanilla extract (I use this one) (Omit for AIP)
1 tsp gluten free baking soda (find here
pinch sea salt 


Directions

1. Preheat your oven to 350F
2. Add the dry ingredients to a large mixing bowl and mix well 
3. Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl and mix well with a spoon or pastry blender
4. Line a muffin tray with your silicone muffin cups
5. Fill each muffin cup with the batter
6. Transfer your muffin tray to the oven and bake for 22-25 minutes (mine took 24 minutes), or until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean 
7. Remove from oven, let cool for 15-20 minutes
8. Serve and enjoy!

Yields: 12 muffins

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February 01, 2016

Why Grains Are Not Healthy (Paleo, Health Information)


Repeat after me: Grains are not healthy. Yep I said it, and just for emphasis I will say it again: Grains are not healthy! Now I realize this goes against everything you have been taught. If you follow the Canadian or American Food Guides you would think that grains are the be all and end all of a healthy diet. Sorry to burst your bubble but I completely disagree. Unfortunately, those food guides are based on very poor science, and put together by folks that represent the grain board, the dairy board, and other such industries that ultimately profit from you consuming their food. And I am not just talking about gluten containing grains, but pretty much all grains (there are a few exceptions but we will leave those for another date).

One of the most common questions I get asked by my patients is what changes to their diets they should make. Without a doubt my strongest recommendation is to eliminate grains. All grains. Is this an easy task? Absolutely not. But the health benefits are completely worth it in my opinion. Especially for anyone dealing with a chronic disease, and even more important for those with an autoimmune disease. Now there are many reasons why grains are not a healthy option. This might get a little long folks. So grab your fatty coffee, find a comfortable chair and keep reading to find out why grains are not healthy.

1. Lectins

Lectins are a plant protein that plant's created to help protect them from insect predators. There are very high concentrations in plant seeds, which is what we eat when we ingest grains (as well as legumes, dairy and night shades). Lectins are problematic because they can cause damage to the gut. Normally, the cells lining your intestine are held together by connections called tight junctions that prevent foods and other particles from leaking out of the gut. Unfortunately, lectins can damage these tight junctions allowing small food particles, bacteria and toxins to leak out of the gut into the bloodstream, and thus get exposed to the rest of your body. This is what is known as leaky gut syndrome. This exposure of bodily tissues to foreign substances leads to increased inflammation in the body. And in some susceptible people, this increased inflammation and exposure to foreign substances can contribute to autoimmune diseases, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, various skin conditions and many other health problems. In addition, beyond causing leaky gut, lectins make it more difficult to absorb the nutrients (vitamins and minerals) in foods. So while grains may be high in vitamins and minerals, your body actually absorbs very little of them. And ironically, the "whole grains" that are most highly recommended by our food guides actually contain the highest concentration of lectins, thus causing the most harm and providing the poorest absorption of nutrients.

Here are some great references for lectins:
1. Lectins and autoimmune disease
2. Lectins and rheumatoid arthritis

2. Phytic acid

Phytic acid is the main storage form of phosphorus in many plant tissues, especially the bran part of grains and seeds. It is found in grains, seeds, legumes and nuts. Phytic acid works to protect the phosphorus by surrounding it in a snow-flake shaped molecule. Not only does this make it difficult for humans to utilize, but it also binds calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc and other minerals making them hard to use as well. This can cause problems such as tooth decay, bone loss and even poor growth and bone development in children. So again, while the grains themselves may contain important nutrients, your body can't actually absorb and use them. In addition, physic acid also inhibits enzymes that are crucial for food digestion including pepsin, trypsin (for proteins), and amylase (for starch), again making it even harder to digest and utilize your food. 

The good news? You can significantly lower the amount of phytic acid in grains, nuts, seeds and legumes by soaking, fermenting and dehydrating these foods. As well, soaking these foods increases the amount of phytase available which is an enzyme that helps break down phytic acid, decreasing the phytic acid content even more. 

While beyond the scope of this post, The Weston A Price Foundation has a great article that explains everything related to phytic acid in much more detail. You can find it here.  



3. Gliadin 

Gliadin is a protein found in wheat gluten that is particularly damaging to the intestine. Gliadin causes the intestine to increase its production of a protein called zonulin which causes the tight junctions between gut cells to separate (again causing leaky gut). In patients with celiac disease, the body makes antibodies against gliadin which then directly damage the cells of the intestine. But just because you don't have celiac disease doesn't mean that gliadin is safe for you to eat. In fact, it is likely that humans were never intended to ingest gliadin in the amounts that we are doing so today, but that those with celiac disease are just extra susceptible to the damaging effects of this protein. It has also been found that patients with other autoimmune diseases form antibodies against gliadin, again implicating the role of this protein in many other conditions beyond celiac disease. Many diseases have been linked to problems with gliadin including rheumatoid arthritis, depression, Sjogren's disease, type I diabetes and more.

Here are some references for gliadin:
1. Gliadin antibodies in rheumatoid arthritis and Sjogren's disease 
2. Gastrointestinal antibodies in various autoimmune diseases

4. The Omega 6 Content

Okay quick nutrition lesson. Fats or fatty acids are classified based on the number of double bonds between the carbon atom: no double bonds are saturated, one double bond is mono-unsaturated and multiple double bonds are polyunsaturated. The polyunsaturated fatty acids are further classified as omega 3 or 6 based on the position of the last double bond (in omega 3's the bond is 3 from the end, and in omega 6's it is 6 from the end). These polyunsaturated fatty acids are considered essential nutrients because humans can't produce them, we only get them through the foods we eat. It is known that omega 3's have potent anti-inflammatory effects, while omega 6's can promote inflammation in the body. Ideally, our intake of omega 6 and 3 is in a ratio of 1-4:1. Unfortunately, the modern diet with its reliance on grain based foods leads to a ratio anywhere between 15-60:1. This shift in balance can lead to systemic body inflammation, and too much inflammation can contribute to or even cause a number of health problems including heart disease, liver disease, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, obesity, decreased cognitive function/memory loss, poor mood, various skin disorders and multiple neurological disorders. Almost every chronic disease has been linked to increased inflammation in the body, which is ultimately influenced by the amount of grains and grain based foods (including meat from grain-fed animals) we eat. 


Well there you have it friends. Why grains are not healthy! I would love to hear what you think about this information. Do you agree? Disagree? Please let me know!
And as always I would be thrilled if you followed my social media pages on  Instagram, FacebookPinterest and  Twitter.

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DISCLAIMER: The statements made on this website have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease. You assume full responsibility for how you use this information. Always consult with your physician or other health professionals before making any diet or lifestyle changes.