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How Often Should You Poop?

By Dr. Mercola

Yes, there really are standards for how often a person should be visiting the porcelain throne. Of course, nearly everyone is thrown off their game from time to time, but generally speaking, there’s a few telling criteria regarding this most private of events.

How often it’s done is joined by several other aspects of what constitutes a healthy “evacuation” schedule. Points to ponder include not just what’s normal and abnormal, but how much is too much or too little? What might affect how often you go? Perhaps most important of all might be the question of what you can do to be more regular.

In fact, how often you empty your innards can be a good indication of how healthy you are and whether or not your body really is running like the well-oiled machine it’s intended to be. Many more people are concerned about these questions than one might think, but uneasiness and even fear about what certain signs and symptoms might mean often go unaddressed due to embarrassment, even with their doctors and close family members.

The process of elimination is your body’s way of ridding itself of undigested food and waste it doesn’t need, which is why “regularity” is a by-word for health. Irregularity can affect your emotional state, how well your brain processes information, cause skin breakouts and bloating, and prevent your body from absorbing nutrients.

How Often Should You Make a Deposit Into the Porcelain Bank?

Of course, everyone is different. The question of what’s normal and healthy for a 21-year-old student compared to a 41-year-old commercial fisherman or a 71-year-old knitting fanatic is one that involves diet, lifestyle and a few other factors. However, in one study,1 researchers found that 98 percent of their 268 participants had a bowel movement frequency ranging from three times weekly to three times daily. Both ends of the spectrum were considered normal.

According to Perfect Origins,3 depending on your height, age and diet, you could be carrying around anywhere from 5 to 20 pounds of fecal matter in your intestines at any given time. Failure to get rid of waste at “regular” intervals can cause or exacerbate:Further, instances of urgency, straining and incomplete evacuation can also be normal; age differences didn’t seem to be a factor. That said, Medical News Today2 confronts some of the most common and thought-provoking aspects of proper elimination, including:

  • Doctors often see frequency and consistency as indicators of a person’s health.
  • Generally speaking, most people retain the same bathroom habits, visiting the facilities at about the same frequency and at about the same time of day.
  • Temporary changes in the frequency of bowel movements are normal and can coincide with eating unfamiliar food, undergoing stress and many other factors.
  • Significant deviations from the “norm” may be an indication of a problem in your stomach or colon.

Upset stomach

Heartburn

Excess gas

Constipation

Diarrhea

Irritable bowel syndrome

Insomnia

Mood swings

Skin problems

Allergies

How the ‘Elimination Process’ Works – or Doesn’t

Pooping is the last order of business in digestion. When you swallow your food, the muscles of your esophagus begin contracting and relaxing in a process known as peristalsis, moving the food to your stomach. There, your food gets broken up, and the secretion of gastric juices keeps things moving. The next steps are through the small intestines, liver and large intestines. Kids Health explains:

“After most of the nutrients are removed from the food mixture there is waste left over – stuff your body can’t use. This stuff needs to be passed out of the body. Can you guess where it ends up? Well, here’s a hint: It goes out with a flush. Before it goes, it passes through the part of the large intestine called the colon, which is where the body gets its last chance to absorb the water and some minerals into the blood. As the water leaves the waste product, what’s left gets harder and harder as it keeps moving along, until it becomes a solid.”4

A number of factors can halt the process, leading to constipation, or speed it up and make it painful and watery, aka diarrhea. Your diet and lifestyle choices have a huge impact on the way your body rids itself of unnecessary matter. These include:

The amount of fiber you eat, as a healthy amount helps your schedule stay regular

Adherence to routine, as traveling and frequent changes can influence your “ease” in eliminating

Exercise or lack thereof, as activity helps your colon work better

The amount of liquids you drink, as deficient water intake can make it more difficult to eliminate

Medications such as antacids, opiates and antidepressants, as they can cause constipation

Frequent use of laxatives, as it’s linked to heart disease, stroke5 and, ironically, constipation

Poor nutrition, as an absence of vital vitamins and minerals can adversely affect regularity

Taking iron supplements, as they may promote constipation

Hormones, including progesterone and estrogen, which can affect elimination frequency

Medical conditions like Crohn’s disease, colitis or even the flu, which can change how often you poop

How You Eat Is Directly Related to How You Poop

What you eat or don’t eat has a big impact on how your digestive system works. Eating plenty of fiber-rich vegetables is an important way to help ensure regularity, and at the same time, grains contain antinutrients as well as sticky proteins like gluten that can cause constipation and, worse, may contain lectins that can lead to worse problems, such as leaky gut. Processed foods are harmful to even the healthiest colon. Perfect Origins lists its own “worst of the worst”:

“Pepsi and Coke. Greasy [CAFO] burgers and fries. Pizza. Fried chicken. Sugary drinks from your neighborhood Starbucks. They’re loaded with artificial ingredients: hard-to-pronounce chemical agents like pyridoxine hydrochloride, sucralose and dipotassium phosphate.

They’re low in fiber. So they sit in your gut for days. Weeks. And can lead to severe constipation. These ultra-processed foods aren’t found in nature. They’re cooked up in labs run by mega-rich food companies. And they slam the brakes on your body’s natural ability to digest and eliminate waste.”6

How Well You Poop May Be Related to Your Position When You Poop

You may never have given it a thought, but before toilets came along, and definitely in earlier eras and certain geographical areas of the world today, people used a completely different set of muscles when they prepared to poop. Unfortunately, in today’s modern world, one reason elderly people enter nursing homes is because their leg muscles are too weak for them to stand after using the toilet.

Today, more people than ever are sitting to empty their bowels as opposed to getting into a squatting position. However, sitting can inhibit how completely you’re able to get rid of waste. Experts say sitting actually impedes your body’s ability to eliminate everything inside your colon that needs to come out. In most places in the world, squatting so that your knees are closer to your chest as opposed to perpendicular (at a 90-degree angle) is still the natural arrangement of the body to optimize elimination.

It does a better job of straightening the position of your rectum, which helps free up your bowels. Squatting may also help prevent hemorrhoids, as well as bowel diseases, evidenced by the lower incidence of several digestive and bowel-related disorders in undeveloped countries. Squatting on a regular basis to go to the bathroom also helps keep your leg muscles strong, automatically improving your balance and ability to walk without assistance.

Why It’s Easier at Home

You may have noticed it yourself – that your toilet time doesn’t seem quite as satisfactory when you’re away from home, but the minute you walk into your own humble abode, the urge to let it all out hits you – finally. It also happens frequently upon arriving home after a trip. Why is that? Nick Haslam, psychology professor at the University of Melbourne and author of “Psychology in the Bathroom,” told The Atlantic it even occurs when you’ve been suffering from constipation. It’s just such a relief to finally be in your own surroundings. He added:

“Most people feel more comfortable going to the bathroom in familiar – and private – surroundings. In my view the experience of ‘unburdening’ upon returning from a trip is largely a Pavlovian response: The home is a safety signal, signifying that this is the right place to go. If there has been any inhibition or retention at all during the trip, the relaxation response is likely to kick in when you come home.”7

Two more factors might play into this phenomenon: Eating unfamiliar foods away from home sometimes has an unsettling effect on your colon, and those foods may also have the added consequence of passing along unfamiliar bacteria, which may help throw your microbiome into clamp mode until you cross your own threshold.

Returning to the ‘Comfort of Home’ a Poop Prompter

Jack Gilbert, professor of surgery and director of the University of Chicago’s The Microbiome Center, allows that to simply say one feels “more comfortable pooping at home” is a little more complicated. He maintains that “All you’re doing, when you try to recall something, is triggering sensory simulacra of that experience.”8

Like someone whose urge to smoke is triggered by a familiar string of actions like getting into the driver’s seat, putting on the seat belt, starting the car and then patting their breast pocket for their pack of cigarettes, the familiarity of home triggers sensory impulses like an urge to use the bathroom. Similarly, the familiar routine of opening your door, putting your day’s accoutrements on the hall table and kicking off your shoes may then trigger a “bathroom” response. Gilbert explains:

“’More comfortable’ is an emotional state, but emotions are physiological responses. So ‘more comfortable’ is a physiological state. It’s a way in which your body responds to its environment. When you get back into your home, your glucose tolerance will change.

Your adrenaline pumping will change, and the energy sensors of your muscles will change, altering your actual respiration, how much energy your burn, and how much fat you deposit. When you get back into your home your sleep patterns will change, because the hormones that control sleep will be altered. All of these factors influence how quickly food moves through your gut.”9

While scientists aren’t really sure how peoples’ bodies respond to certain sensory stimuli, they just know it does. If environmental cues and a feeling of safety could prompt people to poop, Gilbert says he’s fairly sure he could train people to have the urge to pee whenever they smell peppermint.

When to Seek Help and What You Can Do for Poop Problems

There are certain signs when using the restroom that may be an indicator that seeking medical help or at least advice may be in order. Vomiting blood or finding blood in your stool are two of them. Other problems may require medical advice, including:

  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Weight loss that accompanies diarrhea or constipation
  • Black, “tarry”-colored poop
  • A new onset of pencil-thin poop
  • Presence of a substance that looks like coffee grounds in your stool

However, many problems are often easily remedied, such as hemorrhoids, constipation or diarrhea. Loose, watery stools that recur for several days and especially weeks could be sapping your body of electrolytes. Three of the most effective ways to keep your colon as well as your elimination capabilities as “flush” as possible are:

Staying in tune with what your body is telling you is an important way to maintain health. And sometimes what you get rid of is more important that what you keep.

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Optimizing Fertility: Natural Ways to Support Egg Quality

Annex Naturopathic

Natural Ways to Support Egg Quality | Annex Naturopathic Clinic Toronto

Today, many women are choosing to have children later in life than previous generations.

Fertility treatments are a common option for those with difficulty conceiving naturally.

Creating the conditions for optimal egg quality is an important factor in achieving and maintaining a healthy pregnancy.

Women are born with a set number of oocytes (eggs) and from puberty until menopause, an egg should be released from the ovary (ovulation) each month.

The quality of the egg depends on the health of its mitochondria – the powerhouse- or energy production of the cell.

The more mitochondria the healthier the egg.

As women age, they have reduced mitochondrial activity- and therefore, reduced energy production which adversely affects the egg’s viability.

Contributing Factors to Diminished Ovarian Reserve 1:

  • Advanced maternal age.
  • Exposure to systemic chemotherapy.
  • Exposure to pelvic irradiation.
  • Cigarette smoking.
  • Endometriosis.
  • Surgical procedures to the ovary.
  • Auto-immune disorders.
  • Environmental exposures.
  • Endocrine disorders (diabetes, PCOS).

Regardless of contributing factor, there are multiple ways to support egg quality.

Optimizing Fertility | Annex Naturopathic Clinic | Toronto Naturopath

How To Support Egg Quality:

Reduce Oxidative Stress

  • Quit smoking. Smoking increases oxidative stress and accelerates time to menopause. Cessation of smoking should happen 3-6 months before initiation of treatment (dependant on age and ovarian reserve).2
  • Decrease alcohol consumption. Alcohol is a reproduction toxin that can increases oxidative stress.

Improve pelvic blood flow

Exercise increases blood flow to the core and pelvic organs, while improving sexual function and mood. Moderate exercise also reduces inflammation and oxidative stress.

Increase anti-oxidants

Both in the diet and in supplement form, anti-oxidants have a protective effect on the ovaries and their mitochondira.

Bright coloured fruits and vegetable contain high amounts of anti-oxidants.

Supplemental anti-oxidants include: melatonin, pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ), alpha-lipoid acid (ALA), and resveratrol.

Support mitochondria

Although all the aforementioned points all act to support the mitochondria, there are more nutrients that support the ovaries in different ways.

A nutrient called “inostitol” improves glucose uptake and helps ensure the mitochondria of the ovaries have optimal fuel.

Another nutrient, “carnitine”, plays a role in metabolism of fatty-acids to produce energy through a process called beta-oxidation.

This process is also essential for egg maturation.

Optimize hormones and blood sugar

  • Reduce sugar consumption and lose excess weight. Increased insulin levels leases to imbalances of sex hormones and altered ovulation. Obese women have altered mitochondrial function.3
  • Women with impaired blood sugar regulation have more difficulty conceiving.4

Naturopaths are able to appropriately recommend diet, lifestyle and nutritional supplementation to help support egg quality and fertility.

The naturopathic doctors at Annex Naturopathic Clinic are experienced in working with fertility and helping women achieve and maintain healthy pregnancies.

If you’re curious to learn more about this subject or would like to consult with one of our NDs feel free to book a visit or contact us.

Yours in Health,

Dr. Marnie Luck, N.D

Annex Naturopathic Clinic
572 Bloor St W #201, Toronto, ON M6G 1K1
https://goo.gl/maps/uVRBvcyoUa62


References:

  1. ESHRE Guideline: management of women with premature ovarian insufficiency. Human Reproduc’on. 2016;31(5):926–37.
  2. Hughes E, Lamont D, BeecroO M, Wilson D, Brennan B, Rice S. Randomized trial of a “stage-of- change” oriented smoking cessa’on interven’on in infer’le and pregnant women. Fer’lity and Sterility. 2000;74(3):498-503.
  3. Pertynska-Marczewska M, Diaman’-Kandarakis E. Aging ovary and the role for advanced glyca’on end products. Menopause. 2017;24(3):345-351.
  4. Hjollund, NH et al. Is glycosylated haemoglobin a marker of fertility? A follow-up study of first pregnancy planners. Hum Reprod. 1999 Jun: 14(6)1478-82.

To discover additional information about health, wellness, and alternative medicine, please visit us here: toronto naturopathic doctor

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Another Weight Loss Hormone to Consider

Node Smith, ND

Leptin Lets the Brain Know How Much to Eat

Most people are not familiar with the hormone, leptin. Cortisol, thyroid, and insulin are very well known in the health world, especially the weight loss world, however, leptin is the hormone which regulates how hungry you are. Leptin is the hormone which is released from fat cells and signals the brain that you’ve had your fill and it’s time to stop eating. It also signals the sympathetic nervous system and regulates the breakdown of fat by speeding up the metabolism – in this way it does interact with thyroid hormones, and affects energy levels. Its main role is to signal the brain to eat less, or more.

Are you Low on Leptin?

When leptin is not functioning properly, people tend to overeat, and gain weight. Of course this isn’t the only process at work in most cases, but it is a crucial one. When cells don’t respond to leptin, they don’t know that they’re satiated, and hunger persists. If leptin is high for a long time – for instance, with chronic overeating – then the brain may lose sensitivity to it and the brain will stop obeying its signals to stop eating and increase metabolism.

The most common signs of an altered, or slow leptin response (leptin resistance) are:

  • weight gain
  • stress eating
  • cravings that cannot be controlled
  • late night eating
  • inability to lose weight
  • sugar cravings
  • urges for snacks after meals
  • fatigue after eating

How to Reverse Leptin

The best way to reverse leptin (and insulin) resistance is to stop eating foods high in processed carbohydrates, sugars and processed fats/oils. Also, fructose corn syrup is detrimental to these regulatory pathways.

Incorporate by Integrating More Organic Whole Foods into the Mix

The easiest way to stop eating the foods above is to incorporate more and more organic and whole foods into the diet. Eat more monounsaturated and healthy saturated fats (coconut, avocado, butter, nuts and animal fats). Increasing fiber (vegetable matter) also helps rid the body of toxic build up by regulating bowel health and gut microbiota.

Sleep, and regular exercise, are also incredibly important to resetting any hormonal upset in the body, and work hand-in-hand with dietary changes.

These changes can be very difficult to manage on one’s own, and a consultation with a naturopathic physician is a great start to this process. They will be able to assess the likelihood of not only a leptin dysregulation but also other hormonal imbalances, and explain how they work together and will change together with a given treatment plan.

Image Copyright: ra2studio / 123RF Stock Photo

Node Smith, ND, is a naturopathic physician in Portland, OR and associate editor for NDNR. He has been instrumental in maintaining a firm connection to the philosophy and heritage of naturopathic medicine among the next generation of docs. He helped found the first multi-generational experiential retreat, which brings elders, alumni, and students together for a weekend camp-out where naturopathic medicine and medical philosophy are experienced in nature. Four years ago he helped found the non-profit, Association for Naturopathic ReVitalization (ANR), for which he serves as the board chairman. ANR has a mission to inspire health practitioners to embody the naturopathic principles through experiential education. Node also has a firm belief that the next era of naturopathic medicine will see a resurgence of in-patient facilities which use fasting, earthing, hydrotherapy and homeopathy to bring people back from chronic diseases of modern living; he is involved in numerous conversations and projects to bring about this vision.

The post Another Weight Loss Hormone to Consider appeared first on NaturalPath.

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How to Grow Radishes

By Dr. Mercola

Radishes are crisp, colorful and delicious. When served raw or added to salads, radishes add a burst of bold, peppery flavor. The beauty of planting radishes is twofold: They mature in about 25 days and you can grow them in both spring and fall. Radishes are a low-calorie food that is a good source of vitamin C and other antioxidants.

They help detoxify your blood, prevent cancer, purify your kidneys and urinary system and regulate your blood pressure. If you are looking for a fast-growing vegetable to add color and a flavorful zing to salads and other dishes, you may be interested in learning more about how to grow radishes.

Where Did Radishes Come From?

Radishes (Raphanus sativus) are a member of the cabbage or brassicas family, also known as cruciferous vegetables. Some of the close relatives of radishes are broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower and kale. WebMD shares a few fun facts about radishes:1

  • The scientific name for the genus that includes radishes, Raphanus, is Greek for “quickly appearing”
  • Although radishes are grown throughout the U.S., California and Florida grow the most
  • Radishes were first cultivated in China, and spread throughout the Northern Hemisphere and into Europe in the 1500s

Today, radishes are cultivated and consumed around the world. They are most often served raw, commonly appearing on salads and vegetable trays. Radishes vary in color, flavor, size and time to maturity. The sharp flavor of radishes is the result of chemical compounds produced by the plants, including glucosinolate, isothiocyanate and myrosinase.

In addition to being grown for eating, radishes are also used as a cover crop in winter or as forage for grazing animals. Some varieties, such as daikon, are grown for seed, and still others for sprouting.

Common Radish Varieties

Although there are many varieties from which to choose, a few of the most common types of radishes include the following:2

  • Cherry Belle is the round, red radish commonly found at your local supermarket
  • Daikon Long White is a huge radish measuring up to 3 inches in diameter and 18 inches long
  • French Breakfast is a mild, extra-crunchy radish that is good raw or cooked, and has a slightly pungent taste
  • Rat Tail3 is a tasty, edible podded radish grown for its crunchy, tangy seed pods; this variety can tolerate hot weather, resists pests and never forms bulbs
  • White Beauty is a small, round radish that is white inside and out, with a sweet, juicy flavor

Daikon Radish: Japan’s Most Popular Vegetable

According to The Japan Times,4 the daikon radish has been noted as Japan’s most popular vegetable, outpacing cabbage and onions in popularity. Its white roots and green tops are eaten year-round in various forms: cooked, dried, pickled, raw and sprouted. Radishes have been part of Japanese cuisine for millennia, but only the green tops were eaten originally. Now, the entire radish is eaten, and 90 percent of daikon radishes are grown and consumed in Japan.5

Raw grated daikon (known as daikon oroshi) has a taste less pungent than, but similar to, horseradish. This ubiquitous Japanese condiment is served with many meat and fish dishes, and is also added to sauces for soba noodles and tempura. Particularly during the winter months, dried daikon and pickled daikon are important staples of the Japanese diet.

Some Japanese mix daikon oroshi with plain yogurt and honey to make a concoction that is believed to promote regular bowel movements.  About daikon greens, the University of Illinois Extension said:6

“Daikon greens are delicious too. They can be washed, stacked, rolled into a scroll, and cut crosswise. This produces thin julienne strips which are traditionally salted and left standing for an hour. The moisture is squeezed out. The leaves are then chopped and stored in glass jars for up to a week in the refrigerator. The Japanese stir them into warm rice, [and] they can also be added to soups and other recipes.”

How to Grow Radishes

Regardless of the variety you choose, if you are new to vegetable gardening or want to teach your children to garden, radishes are an easy beginner’s crop. They grow well from direct seeding (less well from transplants) and mature quickly. Within a few days of the seeds going into the ground, you will see tiny plants poking their heads above the soil.

If you plant Cherry Belle or French Breakfast, you will be eating fully formed radishes in about 25 days. Although radishes are hardy and would do well in most soil conditions, below are a few of the main variables to consider when planting them:7,8

Soil: Radishes will thrive in loosely packed, well-drained soil. Choose soil with a neutral pH and ensure it is kept moist. Do not add nitrogen or other nutrients because they may interfere with the growth of radish bulbs. Also, avoid planting your radishes in hard-packed soil, which may make it difficult for the bulbs to form properly.

Avoid planting radishes in the same place year after year. For best results, practice a three-year crop rotation. If you are concerned about the condition of your soil, review these soil restoration techniques.

Spacing: Direct sow your radish seeds one-half inch deep and about one-half inch apart. Set your rows 12 inches apart. When the plants are about 2 inches tall, thin them to 1 to 2 inches apart for standard varieties and 3 to 6 inches apart for larger winter varieties. Radishes will not grow well if they are crowded.

Sun: Radishes are a cool-weather crop but require full sun for maximum yield. If planted in excessive shade – or even if they are overly shaded by larger vegetables growing near them – radishes will put their energy into producing larger leaves. This impressive top-level growth will steal nutrients from the roots and you’ll end up with immature bulbs. Radishes do not do well in intense heat, so suspend growing during the hot summer months.

Timing: Plant radishes in the spring, as soon as you can work the soil, but while the overnight temperatures are still in the 40- to 50-degree F range. The best timing is generally about four to six weeks before the last expected frost in your area. To ensure a ready supply of radishes throughout the growing season, sow seeds biweekly (or weekly if you are a radish lover) through midsummer. If a fall harvest is desired, begin sowing seeds in late summer through the first hard frost.

Watering: For quick growth and the best flavor, keep the soil evenly moist, but not waterlogged. Because they produce bulbs, radishes need adequate and consistent moisture throughout the growing season. Radishes that are dry will crack and split open. Cracking will negatively affect the flavor and diminish the aesthetics of your radish crop.

Troubleshooting the Top Four Radish Growing Problems

While radishes are one of the fastest and easiest vegetables to grow, there are a few problems known to plague beginning or inexperienced gardeners. Garden experts from The Spruce share the following advice related to the four most common problems associated with growing radishes:9

  1. Radishes that are too hot: The best way to control the intensity of the flavor of your radishes is to harvest them as soon as they mature. Radishes harvested in a timely manner tend to be smaller, crisp and sweet. Unlike beets and carrots, the sweetness of radishes does not improve when they are left in the ground longer. To the contrary, radishes become tougher and increasingly bitter the longer they are left in the ground.
  2. Radishes that crack open: Consistent, even watering is the solution to maintaining good-quality radish bulbs. Cracking can be a sign you’ve been underwatering, or, you tried to make up for watering you missed by overwatering. Overwatering can cause your radish bulbs to absorb too much water, swell up quickly and split open. Though not always aesthetically pleasing, split radishes are still edible, so feel free to eat them whole or cut them up for salads.
  3. Radishes that are tough and woody: Radishes flourish in cool weather with moist soil. If the temperature is too hot and water is scarce, radishes will become tough and woody.
  4. Radishes with beautiful tops but poorly formed bulbs: If radishes are planted in the shade or are shaded by other larger garden plants, they will put all their energy into creating beautiful tops, while the bulbs will be poorly developed. Thinning is especially important, because radish bulbs will not develop well if you do not give them adequate room to grow.

Companion Plants: Strategic Pest Control

Rodale’s Organic Life suggests the following strategies for pest control as it relates to companion plants that do well with radishes:10

  • Sow radishes among your cucumber and squash mounds to help repel cucumber beetles
  • Plant radishes near spinach because radishes will attract leafminers away from the spinach; despite damaging radish leaves, leafminers will have no adverse effect on radish bulbs
  • In addition to cucumbers and spinach, radishes also do well when planted near beans, lettuce, parsnips and squash
  • Avoid planting radishes near potatoes, kohlrabi and turnips

Because it is a member of the cabbage family, radishes can be affected by cabbage maggots.11 Cabbage root maggots are the larvae of the cabbage root fly, which is small, gray and looks like a skinny house fly. After the fly deposits its eggs along the base of radish plants, small, white legless worms are hatched. The cabbage root fly’s eggs hatch only in cool weather, which is why these pests mainly attack radishes and other cool-weather members of the cabbage family.

The best way to protect your radishes from the cabbage root maggot is to use row covers early in the season to prevent the cabbage root fly from laying its eggs near your plants. Fortunately, while cabbage maggots are attracted to radishes, they seldom ruin the whole crop.

Radishes Are a Super Low-Calorie Food

Radishes are surprisingly low in calories. Although it is unlikely you would eat 10 large, raw radishes in one sitting, which equates to roughly a 3.5-ounce serving, it would only amount to 16 calories. That serving size would also give you:

  • 3 grams of carbohydrates
  • 2 grams of fiber
  • 2 grams of sugar
  • 1 gram of protein
  • 39 milligrams of sodium

One serving of radishes provides 25 percent of your recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of vitamin C, as well as 5 percent of your RDA for potassium, 2.5 percent for magnesium and 2 percent each for both calcium and iron.

Harvesting Radishes

You can harvest radishes as soon as their bulbs are fully formed above ground. Pull them as soon as they mature because oversized radishes will inevitably crack, at which point they will become tough, woody and less flavorful. Once harvested, cut the tops off and store unwashed radishes in plastic bags in your refrigerator, where they will last for a week or two. Always wash radishes well before eating them. If you plan to use the radish greens, store them separately and eat them within three to four days.

Radish Recipes: Tips on Eating Radishes

Rodale’s Organic Life offers the following tips on eating radishes:12

  • Make radish tzatziki: Grate one bunch of radishes and combine with 1 cup Greek yogurt. Add one minced garlic clove, a pinch of your preferred sweetener and a splash of vinegar. Add dill, kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste. Use it as a dip for raw vegetables.
  • Quick radish pickles: Thinly slice one bunch of radishes and combine with 1/2 cup red wine vinegar, 1/2 cup water, 1/4 teaspoon of your preferred sweetener and 2 teaspoons kosher salt. Place in glass jar with lid and refrigerate for 15 minutes. Eat radish pickles alone, top them with fresh goat cheese or use them as a garnish for tacos.
  • Radish crackers: Thinly slice one bunch of radishes and top them with raw, organic grass fed butter or any of your favorite savory spreads.

The Health Benefits of Radishes

Radishes have wonderfully beneficial antibacterial, antifungal, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and detoxifying properties. They contain the powerful flavonoids beta carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin. According to The Guardian, radishes, similar to other vegetables in the brassica family, are good for you because:13

“[R]adishes contain two natural compounds, sulforaphane and indole-3, which in animal and lab studies have shown an anti-cancer action. It is thought that these antioxidant substances may slow or stop the growth of several different types of cancer, possibly by prompting the body to make higher levels of detoxifying enzymes. Radishes also give you a significant amount of vitamin C to boost your defenses against disease.”

Indoles are detoxifying agents, and sulforaphane is an important isothiocyanate antioxidant compound shown to be an inhibitor of breast, colon, ovarian and prostate cancer. Eating radishes also:14,15

Cleanses your blood of toxins and waste, including excess bilirubin, which causes jaundice

Keeps your digestive system regular and acts as a natural diuretic to help purify and flush your kidneys and urinary system

Inhibits red blood cell damage by supplying fresh oxygen to your blood

Regulates your blood pressure

Relieves congestion and prevents respiratory problems, such as asthma or bronchitis

Soothes dry skin, rashes and other skin disorders

Considering their many health benefits and the ease with which they can be grown in your garden, radishes are a vegetable you may want to consider eating more often.

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Mint: Learn More About This Refreshing and Invigorating Herb

If you want to add a refreshing and cooling twist to your salads, soup, tea or even plain water, a few mint leaves may just do the trick. Known for its sweet-smelling aroma and cooling flavor, mint is a highly-celebrated herb in the culinary world because of its many uses.

But did you know that mint offers potent health benefits as well? This calming and soothing herb has one of the highest antioxidant capacities of any food.1 Because of this, mint can help alleviate a variety of ailments. Keep on reading to learn more about mint – its uses, benefits and how you can grow it at home.

Mint 101: Basic Facts About This Herb

Also known as mentha, mint refers to a genus or group of around 15 to 20 perennial plant species, with the most popular types being peppermint and spearmint.2

Known to have originated in Asia and the Mediterranean region,3 this versatile herb has been valued for centuries not only for its elegant fragrance, but also for its many medicinal benefits. There are several different types of mint, most of which you’ve probably used at least once. Some of the most common varieties include:4

  • Peppermint (Mentha x piperita) – This hearty herb emulates a classic minty fragrance when you rub its leaves. Peppermint can be used dried or fresh.
  • Spearmint (Mentha spicata) – You’ll find it in backyard gardens or growing wild all over North America. This variety is popular because of the flavor it adds to chewing gums and toothpaste. When used raw, spearmint makes a great flavor enhancer for salads.
  • Catnip (Nepeta cataria) – Kitty lovers can definitely attest to the allure that this plant has on cats. Also known as catmint, while it doesn’t have any culinary uses, it may be helpful for different ailments.
  • Bergamot (Mentha x piperita citrate) – If you’ve tried using bergamot oil for aromatherapy, then you know that this mint plant is unique because of its invigorating citrus fragrance. It’s also known as lemon mint.
  • Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) – The delicate lemon flavor of lemon balm makes it a well-loved garnish for drinks, and also adds a delicate flavor to tangy dishes.

Most mint plants can be identified through their toothed leaves, squared stems and small lipped flowers (either purple, pink or white).5,6

Try rubbing a leaf between your fingers and you’ll immediately notice the distinct minty smell that the plant is famous for. But aside from its distinct fragrance, mint offers a host of uses for your health and home.

Mint Leaves Offer Benefits for Your Health

Its high antioxidant content is just one of the many distinct characteristics that make mint so beneficial for your well-being. This herb actually contains vitamins A, B2 and C, as well as minerals like zinc, calcium, copper and magnesium.7

Menthol, the compound in mint leaves that gives them their distinct aroma, also has analgesic, local anesthetic and counterirritant properties.8

With its impressive array of nutrients and health-promoting properties, it’s no wonder that mint is one of the most beneficial herbs there is today. Here are just some of the potential benefits that you can be provided from using mint leaves:9

Helps alleviate allergy symptoms. Rosmarinic acid, an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent in mint, has been studied for its potential in helping to relieve seasonal allergy and asthma symptoms.10 This antioxidant works by inhibiting COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes.

According to a study published in Biofactors journal, taking 50 milligrams of rosmarinic acid daily helped reduce the levels of inflammatory molecules and eosinophils or allergy-related white blood cells, leading to significantly decreased symptoms.11

Eases digestive problems. This herb has been used for thousands of years as a remedy for stomachache and indigestion, as it helps increase bile secretion and encourages bile flow, leading to easier and speedier digestion. Peppermint in particular has been found to relieve pain and discomfort caused by gas and bloating. It may also help alleviate gastric ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Helps relieve nausea and headache. The refreshing scent of mint provides quick relief for nausea and, in fact, it is even added to soothing balms intended for nausea. However, simply crushing (and inhaling) fresh mint leaves may provide the same effect. Mint may also soothe the inflammation and temperature rise associated with headaches and migraines.12

Helps clear up congestion and other respiratory disorders. Mint cools and soothes the throat, nose and other parts of the respiratory system and helps alleviate congestion brought on by coughs and colds.

Promotes relief from pain and fatigue. If you are feeling depressed, anxious, sluggish or exhausted, mint may be useful. It was also found to help increase pain threshold in humans.

If used topically, mint can provide a number of benefits because of its calming and cooling properties. It may aid in relieving insect bites, rashes, sunburn and other skin ailments. It also works as a breath freshener – chew a few mint leaves and you’ll notice the difference immediately.

However, certain groups of people should take caution when using this herb. For example, mint may exacerbate gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) symptoms, so people who suffer from this ailment should refrain from taking mint.

Those who have experienced gallstones should also be cautious not to consume this herb.13 Nevertheless, there are plenty of ways to use mint without ingesting it.

Uses for Mint Inside (and Outside) Your Home

Mint is loved by many because of its astounding health benefits and refreshing fragrance, but there’s a lot more you can do with this herb. Ancient civilizations have found plenty of uses for it – the Greeks, for example, used it to clean their banqueting tables or added it to their baths.14 Meanwhile, the Romans believed that its scent can prevent people from being angry, and that eating it would boost their intelligence.15

Today, products like toothpaste, inhalers, soothing balms, chewing gum, breath fresheners and candy use mint as their base element. Nevertheless, there are plenty of uses for plain fresh mint leaves or mint essential oil inside or outside your home, such as:

  • Flea and tick repellent. Mix two parts fresh spearmint, one part fresh thyme and one part fresh wormwood, and tuck it inside a small pillow. Place the pillow near your pet’s favorite resting place or in his bed.16
  • Foot scrub. Mix a cup of Himalayan salt, one-third cup of olive oil and six drops of peppermint essential oil, and scrub all over your feet. The salt exfoliates your skin while the menthol soothes sore muscles.17
  • Room freshener and floor cleaner. Add a few drops of mint essential oil to your homemade cleaner. You can also dilute three to five drops of mint essential oil in a cup of white vinegar, and add it to a gallon of water. This solution works for wood, concrete or tile floors.
  • Mint tea. Instead of carbonated sugary drinks, use mint to make a batch of peppermint tea. Organic Authority lists some of mint tea’s benefits,18 a beverage that you can whip up in five minutes or less.

While there are mint alternatives available like marjoram, basil and lavender, which all have their own set of health benefits, you can’t deny that the flavor and aroma that mint provides is highly unique. So to ensure that you have a steady supply of this versatile herb, why not grow your own mint at home?

Simple Tips to Grow Mint at Home

According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac,19 mint thrives best when grown in light soil, in moist but well-drained sites. Good drainage is necessary for this plant, and you must make sure to provide protection from direct sunlight. Most varieties require some shade.

If planting several mint plants in your garden, keep them about 2 feet apart as they will easily cover the ground. Most mint plants grow up to 1 or 2 feet tall and do not require extensive care. Nevertheless, mint benefits from pruning and picking, as the plant tends to produce horizontal runners that may take over your garden space.

If you do not have a backyard, don’t fret – you can grow this herb indoors. Use containers or pots with adequate drainage, and place it in an area with indirect light. Since mint thrives best in moist soil, make sure you water it regularly (but not too much). Humidity is also crucial, so make sure to mist the plant between watering, or place the container on a tray with pebbles and water.20

It may take a bit of work and some patience, but once you have a healthy mint plant growing at home, then you can enjoy all the health and culinary benefits of this fresh herb.

Cooking With Mint: ExperiMINTing in the Kitchen

The combined sweetness and astringency of mint makes it a must-have herb for your kitchen. It suits a variety of dishes: From appetizers to main courses to dessert, you can surely find ways to use a fresh sprig of mint. Throw it in a salad for a much needed flavor boost or add it to your smoothies or lemonade.

You can even make delicious mint water – a simple yet delightful way to perk up your usual drink. Just add sprigs of fresh mint to a pitcher of water, let sit for 30 minutes and serve in a glassful of ice. This drink is perfect for hot days.21 When cooking with mint or mint leaves, remember that different varieties can add different flavors to your food. Peppermint has a mild peppery flavor, while lemon mint has a slight minty flavor and a refreshing citrus scent.

The Vegetable Gardener22 offers a helpful guide on how to choose the best mint variety for your dishes. For example, peppermint’s strong flavor holds well in cooked dishes and in desserts or drinks where you want the menthol flavor to stand out. Meanwhile, spearmint’s milder and sweeter taste is great for making mint tea, sauces and jellies. Orange mint (Mentha aquatica), on the other hand, combines well with fruits like nectarines, peaches, plums and apricots.

One unique recipe that features mint is my Healthy Apple Energy Soup. Not only is it quick and easy to prepare, but it’s made with raw ingredients – meaning all the nutrients from the foods are in their natural state. The mint effectively blends well with the sweetness of apple and avocado, making this an invigorating yet appetizing dish. Check out the recipe here.

If you don’t have fresh mint growing at home, you can easily find it in your local farmers markets. Make sure you select mints that are evenly colored and do not have any signs of wilting.23 Remember that while fresh mint is preferable to dried mint, knowing how to store it is crucial to ensure it doesn’t lose its taste and fragrance.

Here’s How to Store Fresh Mint

If not stored properly, fresh mint can easily wilt and lose its flavor. According to Delish Plan, you should treat mint like a flower – place it in a container with water. Here’s what to do:24

  1. Once you remove the rubber bands holding the mint together, trim the end of the stems by cutting off the leaves. This allows some space at the cut ends.
  2. Stick the mint stems in a tall container (a jar or mug will do), and add enough water to cover the cut ends.
  3. Cover loosely with a plastic bag and keep it in your fridge. Make sure to change the water every two to three days.

Another technique is to wrap fresh mint in a damp paper towel, and then seal it in a plastic bag. Make sure that the leaves are not being crushed and the mint stays intact. Place it in your fridge. If stored properly, fresh mint can stay fresh for several weeks, and may be used for a wide variety of applications inside and outside your kitchen.

Types of Mint Oil: Peppermint Oil and Spearmint Oil

The two most popular varieties of mint oil are peppermint and spearmint oil. These two essential oils both offer their own unique set of uses and benefits.

Peppermint oil is well-known for potentially easing muscle pain, headaches and stomach problems.25 It can also be used as a decongestant and an expectorant, helping clear up phlegm in your respiratory tract. Peppermint oil has potential benefits for skin, hair and dental health as well.26, 27

However, many people find peppermint oil a bit too strong, so they instead opt for spearmint oil. Spearmint essential oil is gentler than peppermint oil, and better recommended for children. Although its properties are similar to peppermint, spearmint has significantly lower amounts of menthol. It can help alleviate muscle spasms, digestive issues like flatulence, and respiratory issues like colds, nasal congestion and flu.28

However, you should take caution if you’re using either of these two mint essential oils, because if not diluted in a safe carrier oil prior to use, they can cause skin irritations and other side effects. Before using, dilute mint oil with a carrier oil and apply to a small part of your skin to see if any allergic reactions occur. I also advise pregnant women and nursing mothers to avoid these essential oils without their physician’s approval.

Storing the oils properly is also important. For example, peppermint oil is sensitive to light and heat damage, and should be kept in a tightly sealed bottle and placed in a cool dark place.

You Can’t Go Wrong With a Sprig of Mint!

Sweet-smelling, refreshing and invigorating – these words probably best describe mint. With its many different varieties, this herb has definitely gained a much-deserved reputation in the culinary world because it can add fragrance and flavor to a wide array of dishes.

And let’s not forget to mention mint’s health uses. This herb can help alleviate nausea and headaches, allergies and even respiratory congestion. Even the essential oil obtained from this herb (peppermint oil and spearmint oil being the most popular) can offer a multitude of benefits. So if you’ve got room to spare in your garden, go ahead and plant some mint! You surely won’t regret it.

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Vegan Dahl: A Seasonal Comfort Food Recipe

Annex Naturopathic

Vegan Dahl: A Seasonal Comfort Food Recipe | Annex Naturopathic Clinic | Toronto Naturopath

The change from hot to cold weather has me searching for comfort foods that will provide the feeling of warmth and energy.

As a N.D I’m regularly informing patients about healthy recipes and encouraging them to create a diet around the changing seasons.

One of my favourite spice palettes during the winter season is the warm, aromatic flavours of Indian cuisine –  likely because it’s full of warming, sweet spices designed by nature to boost our metabolism, increase circulation and  strengthen digestion, all properties that we need to warm our bodies during the colder seasons.

Any warm recipe containing these spices will be a good choice for the upcoming winter.  

Dahl is essentially made up of lentils, which are packed with protein, B vitamins, fibre and iron, making this legume a super food, especially for vegetarians/vegans.  

Lentils are an amazing source of protein because it contains all but two of the amino acids (the building blocks of protein).  

Lentils are high in one particular amino acid, lysine, a great remedy for viral infections, handy during cold and flu season. 

Top this on a small bed of basmati rice, or enjoy with a few whole grain (non-GMO) crackers.  

Ingredients

3 tablespoons coconut oil (or whatever you have)

1 medium yellow onion

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 cups of spinach or chopped kale

1 teaspoon of fine seasalt

1 cup dried red lentils

2 tablespoon tomato paste

4-5 cups water or veg broth

5 plum tomatoes, chopped

juice of 1 lime

1 cup lightly packed chopped fresh cilantro

Spice blend

2 teaspoon mustard seeds

1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds

1 teaspoon coriander seeds

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

6 whole cloves

4 cardamom pods

2 dried red chilies (seeds removed)

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Vegan Dahl Recipe | Annex Naturopathic Clinic | Toronto Naturopath 

Directions

  1. In a sauté pan over medium heat, toast the seeds (but not the dried red chili) for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently (make sure not to burn). Be prepare for a strong (but pleasant), spicy aroma.
  2. Remove from pan and let cool. Transfer to coffee grinder, along with the dried red chili and cinnamon, and grind to a fine powder.
  3. Over medium-high heat oil a soup pot, add onions and sauté for 5 minutes. Add garlic and ginger and sauté 5 more minutes. Add ground spices and salt, sauté for 3 more
  4. Add 4 cups of water and stir to deglaze the pot. Add tomato paste and lentils. Bring to a boil then lower the heat a bit and simmer for 20 minutes.
  5. Add the tomatoes, greens, lime juice and cilantro and more water if it looks to thick. Simmer 10 more minutes, or until lentils are completely tender.
  6. Add extra salt as needed for taste

Some Tips to Cooking with Spices

  • You can buy all these spices at any bulk food store store them in a dark cook place
  • Spices like ground cumin and coriander go rancid 6 months after they are ground up that is why you should grind them yourself, rather than buying pre-ground versions keep them in the refrigerator and use within 6 months
  • Toasting the seeds before grinding activates and releases the volatile oils in the seeds, producing the well-known aroma of Indian dishes
  • YOU NEED SALT for any dish that uses these spices salt activates and brings out the flavours of other spiceswithout it you will be disappointed in the overall taste (add salt according to preferred taste but not too much!)


If you’re curious to learn more about this subject or would like to consult with one of our NDs feel free to book a visit or contact us.

Yours in Health,

Dr. Tanya Lee, N.D

Annex Naturopathic Clinic
572 Bloor St W #201, Toronto, ON M6G 1K1
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To find more tips about health, wellness, and alternative medicine, please visit us here: holistic doctors

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Emergency Hair Treatment for Dry Hair

  • 2 Tablespoons Sesame Oil
  • 1 Large Egg Yolk
  • 1 Teaspoon Mayonnaise
  • 1/2 Cup Heavy Cream

Mix all ingredients in a blender until they reach a creamy consistency. After thoroughly washing hair with a deep-cleansing shampoo, towel-blot, then distribute mixture evenly onto hair; wrap head completely with aluminum foil to retain heat.

Leave on 30 minutes. Remove foil; wash hair again with deep-cleansing shampoo until all the mixture is removed. Should be done about once a month.

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