Forget creatine scoops — I consume a handful of locusts for my pre-workout

Forget creatine scoops – I consume a handful of locusts for
my pre-workout

DAVE GORDON

No, I don’t get my gains on an episode of Fear Factor. I’m a regular guy with a regular workout routine and I’m getting the all-natural protein my muscles need from packages of ground, flavoured locusts. It’s true.

If eating locusts sounds crazy, it’s time to wake up and smell the Acrididae. Cultures throughout Asia, Central America, and the Middle East have chowed down on these arthropods for centuries. In fact, it’s the most widely eaten insect on the planet. The insane idea of eating locusts is only foreign to the North American and European market…but that’s about to change.

Hargol: Delivering Protein That’s Healthy & Sustainable

As the only kosher and Halal (processed) insect on the market, Israeli company Hargol is primed to cater to the millions around the world who lick up locust as a high-demand delicacy. Their line of vacuum sealed locust products provides superior nutrition content. Locusts are sustainable to farm and most importantly, they clear regulation as a safe and clean food source that includes zero antibiotics, fertilizers, pesticides, hormones, and GMOs.

In short, the only plague you’ll be seeing from these locusts are the droves of men and women rushing to the supermarket when Hargol arrives in North America.

Taking “Rustling Up Some Grub” To A New Level

We all have different fitness goals and we’re unfortunately spoiled for choice when it comes to protein supplements. If you’re like me and want an effective, environmentally-friendly way to boost your workout — without putting a mix of “enhancement” ingredients you can’t pronounce into your body — then Hargol’s Dried Grasshopper Powder will do the trick.

This protein supplement delivers a whole lot of power. Combined with whey, this pre-workout concoction amps up your intake, providing 930% taurine, 658% Omega 3,6 & 9, and 2,321% more essential amino acids than whey alone. Trust me: it works andtastes great.

Best of all, Hargol has more than one way to get your protein for the day.

Don’t worry, Hargol doesn’t expect you to pour your almond milk into a big bowl of bugs. Their pancake mix was made for those who need a healthy, hearty, and absolutely delicious breakfast. Just add some berries or bananas — or a few chocolate chips if it’s your cheat day — drizzle that maple syrup on top and POW! It revved my morning up faster and longer than any cup of coffee could ever dream.

Not one for getting comfortable in your breakfast nook? Hargol understands that you’ve got to get up and get going as fast as possible. That’s why their chocolate smoothie mix is so clutch. If a late-start turns my pancake plans upside down, a Chocolate and Nut Smoothie Mix with a punch of locust protein power gave me the energy I need. I just whipped it up with a little vanilla yogurt and voilà, breakfast on the go — which, to my sweet tooth’s surprise, actually tasted more like a pureed sundae.

I can’t wait for Hargol to hit the North American market. People of all ages and fitness levels are craving a protein source and Hargol’s brilliant idea is going to knock it out of the park. Can’t stomach the thought of eating locust? One bite will have you crawling back for more.

DAVE GORDON is a freelance writer. His work has appeared in more than a hundred publications around the world, including BBC, Globe and Mail, National Post, and Washington Times.

Backyard Vegetable Garden Tips

Listen to the full episode 8.

Plant Based Diet | Show Notes | Interview With Paul Zammit

Outdoor vegetable gardening is gaining in popularity for many reasons including its mental and physical health benefits. What better way to increase the vegetable varieties in your plant-based diet than to plant them at home? In this Alternative Food Network podcast, horticulturist, professor and radio guest Paul Zammit offers tips for successful outdoor vegetable growing.

What should people be thinking about when starting an outdoor vegetable garden? 

  • Seeds and plants
  • Sunlight
  • Soil type
  • Water
  • In-ground or raised beds

When it comes to sunlight, Paul recommends looking at your garden, mapping it out and seeing how much sun it actually gets. Ideally, to be most successful with most of the vegetables, you  want a good six to eight hours or more of sunlight. Depending on where you are in city environments, often there are large trees or buildings that can create shade.

Understanding your soil type is also very important. Do you have a very sandy soil or clay based soil? It’s easy enough to test – go out there and grab a handful of soil. When you squeeze it, does it crumble or does it take the shape of your hand?

Also, if someone is new to vegetable gardening, Paul suggests not necessarily starting by planting a giant garden. Start small and work your way up.

For water, think about your water source. Paul encourages people to think about capturing water; perhaps installing something like a rain barrel, or see how you can capture and conserve moisture.

First-time vegetable gardeners:  Raised beds, in-ground or containers?
While Paul encourages people to use containers when they don’t have access to a traditional garden, he wants people to connect with the soil. So if there is an option for in-ground gardening, he suggests investing in creating the garden in the ground. However, he adds “don’t dismiss a couple of pots, perhaps filled with some delicious herbs, right by the doorway or by the barbecue where it’s easy to reach.”  

Should people start seeds indoors or outdoors?
This is an area where there tends to be a lot of confusion according to Paul. The answer depends on what you’re growing. Some need warmer soil so vegetables like tomatoes in a northern climate may not have a long enough growing season if first planted outside in the garden. Get a head start by starting tomato seeds indoors on a windowsill or under artificial light six to eight weeks before planting them outside. If you grow leeks, start those inside twelve to fourteen weeks before you’re going to plant them outside. Eggplants, peppers, onions and cabbages can also be slow so you’d often start inside in a northern climate.

Having said that, Paul mentions a number of plants that like to grow fairly cold such as chard, leaf lettuce and peas. Those are vegetables that can be started directly in the garden.

Some plants do not like to be transplanted such as beans and cucumbers so wait to plant in-ground when the soil begins to warm up because they do not like cool conditions. Some folks start cucumbers inside. If you do this, Paul recommends starting them in a fairly large container so that you do minimal root damage when transferring outside.

If you’re waiting to grow vegetables in-ground that require warmer soil, Paul suggests growing leaf lettuces and radishes in that space first. Radishes have a harvest date of twenty days which means they can be grown, pulled out and then vegetables like beans and cucumbers that like the warmer soil can be planted. “It’s about crop rotation as well,” says Paul.

For warmer climates, the longer the growing season, the more you can start directly in the ground.

Soil Preparation
Evidence is starting to show that turning soil over is not necessarily beneficial, from the standpoint that the soil is filled with millions of micro-organisms, bacteria, fungus, nematodes, protozoa, all which do have a very important role. So if the space is already existing, do minimal cultivation. However, if it is a new space, loosen up that hard soil and dig.

Feeding the soil is also important. Plants are growing and they demand nutrients. One of the most fundamental things that we can do in the vegetable garden is add organic matter. That can come in a few different forms:

  • Compost at home
  • Buy mushroom compost
  • Buy aged

With sufficient amounts of organic matter, Paul says you really don’t need to feed throughout the rest of the summer. You just need to be very conscious of how and when you’re watering and perhaps using some mulch to help to conserve moisture in the vegetable garden.

Fertilizer for the Vegetable Garden
Paul’s motto is “learn to feed the garden from the garden” by adding organic matter, whether it comes from food compost, composted manures or even shredded leaves, and allow those to break down.

One variable to note is the soil’s pH. pH can vary and some vegetables prefer one pH versus another. So it might be a good idea to have a soil pH test done.

In terms of fertilizing, many vegetables tend to be heavy feeders, so you really want to add as much organic matter as you can in the ground. In Paul’s opinion, once organic matter has been added in the ground in the spring, it usually carries the garden for the whole season.

Paul also mentions the importance of crop rotation. “Don’t grow tomatoes in the same spot that you grew tomatoes last year because tomatoes will feed on very specific nutrients. And if you put tomatoes there next year, that soil has already been somewhat depleted of those nutrients.”

There is a tendency to water more frequently raised beds and containers because they will dry out more often. Any of the nutrients that are there are leached so do not use topsoil or triple mix in containers. It’s far too heavy. The roots can’t breathe and the plants don’t do well. A container mix is needed or a medium that is fairly porous and absorbs moisture. And in that case, this is where Paul says fertilization becomes really important; using an all-purpose or vegetable fertilizer or an organic water soluble fertilizer becomes really key.  Follow the recommended rates as well. Some people think they should just add a little bit extra but according to Paul, a little extra fertilizer is not a good thing.

What is the best time of day to water a garden?
Depending on where one lives geographically, Paul suggests looking at water with a critical lens and realizing that every drop matters. Water when the plants are going to be able to utilize it and try save as much water as possible. This means:

  • Watering in the early morning or up until midday as opposed to the hottest part of the day when a lot of the water is going to evaporate;
  • Water at the base of plants, as opposed to using overhead sprinklers that put a lot of moisture into the air or on the leaves of the plants, which will then just evaporate.

Another reason for watering in the morning relates to pests. Watering can actually encourage pests and diseases since many of the fungal pests need moisture on their leaves to spread, which they tend to do in the evenings or through the night. So it’s really important that the plants go into the evening with dry leaves. If it rains, no need to worry. Rain is the best kind of moisture we can get. But try to get the plants to go into the evening dry so that these pathogens, such as some of the fungi or the bacteria, don’t have the opportunity to spread on the moist damp leaves.

Another tip to conserve moisture is to use mulches in your garden such as shredded leaves, straw or shredded cedar.  Mulch prevents a lot of moisture from evaporating from the soil surface. It keeps the ground a little bit cooler and moister which is more ideal for the plant. Plus mulch can also help reduce some disease that splashes up from the soil onto the plants.

Protecting a vegetable garden from insect pests and animals
With so much investment in a garden, we want it protected from insect pests and animals. In terms of insect pests, Paul reminds that there are a lot of insects that we often refer to as pests that are actually very beneficial to have in the garden. We should actually be encouraging them or attracting them in the garden because they can help us to control some of the less favorable pests that do more damage. People should learn to identify the pest and then evaluate whether it needs to be controlled.

Paul also thinks people should be a little bit less picky and realize just because a plant has a hole in the leaf doesn’t mean it’s any less nutritious.

Protective coverings are an option. For example, coverings can protect against leaf beetles or flea beetles that attack things like radishes or tomatoes. However, there are some plants that need to be pollinated, so a protective covering would not work on cucumbers, because you need to get the bees in there.

When it comes to animals such as deer, rabbits, squirrels and racoons, Paul cautions that people need to realize we are sharing our homes with these creatures. They are part of an ecosystem that we share.

There are deterrents such as water sprays and physical barriers such as hard wire cloth or chicken mesh. Paul is not a fan of cayenne pepper which some people use around the garden. Paul suggests looking at foods that animals don’t eat and grow those vegetables. Another idea is to grow vegetables that animals like in containers closer to your house as the animals might be less likely to come close to the house.

Consider building a frame to enclose some of the more sensitive edibles such as lettuce, cucumbers, chard, beats or strawberries. However, Paul says he rarely sees tomatoes, eggplants or peppers getting eaten so he is not concerned about putting them under a cover.

How to deal with weeds in the garden
Paul recommends learning to identify the weeds because some of them are annuals so they just live for one year, drop seeds and die. Others are perennial and they run underneath the ground. How you manage them becomes very different. Ideally, you do want to get rid of as many of the weeds as possible by digging them out or gently pulling them out. In early spring watch the soil surface. Usually what you’ll see is tons of little seedlings. By quickly taking a shovel or a cultivator and just scratching the surface, you will actually kill many of them and start to cut into the cycle. And if you do have issues with weeds in the garden, even if you can’t necessarily get to pull them out, what’s really important is not to let them go to seed. So when they flower and they begin to produce seed pods, cut those seed pods off and discard them. You want to prevent them from producing hundreds if not thousands of seeds, which are just going to be a source of problem the following year.

Top 10 list of easy-to-grow vegetables outside

  1. Chard
  2. Kale
  3. Lettuce
  4. Spinach
  5. Arugula
  6. Tomatoes
  7. Cucumbers
  8. Peas
  9. Beets
  10. Radishes

Listen To The Full Podcast Episode 8

The Role of Nutrition In Mitochondrial Dysfunction and Chronic Disease

Listen to the full episode 10.

Doctors+ | Show Notes | Interview with Dr. Mel Litman, MD

In this Alternative Food Network interview with Dr. Mel Litman, MD, a family physician whose practice follows the principles of orthomolecular medicine, listeners will learn about the connection between mitochondrial dysfunction and chronic disease, and the importance of choosing clean and nutrient dense foods that help us “get the good stuff in and the bad stuff out”.

 What is orthomolecular medicine?

“Nutrition comes first in medical diagnosis and treatment.” This is the first cardinal rule of orthomolecular medicine, first coined by bio-chemist Linus Pauling. Orthomolecular means the correct molecule or in other words, treating diseases using substances that are a normal part of the functioning of the body such as using vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, amino acids and hormone balance which are involved in our normal biochemistry and physiology.

How nutrition is used to affect our whole functioning is the foundation of the whole approach. Nutrients are the materials that our biochemistry needs in order to do what it needs to do. So nutrition is first in terms of getting the nutrients you need and also not getting toxins that you don’t need.

Another cardinal principle of orthomolecular medicine is “Hope is an indispensable ally of the physician and an absolute right of the patient.”  Normally one does not think of hope as a biochemical treatment. But, there is a lot of work being done on the effects of what’s going on in your head on your physiology. Dr. Litman goes on to give an example of the placebo effect where a person gets better because of the belief they’re going to get better. The other side of this is the ‘nocebo’ effect; a person believes a treatment won’t work and that person makes themselves sick because of the belief that he or she will be sick. These beliefs can actually affect one’s biochemistry. According to Dr. Litman, “we can actually be negatively affecting people by the kind of hope that we give or destroy”.

Is orthomolecular medicine the same as functional medicine?
There is a lot of overlap. The person who started functional medicine, Dr. Jeffrey Bland, was a student of Linus Pauling. According to Dr. Litman, the thinking that when we look at diseases we’re looking at the underlying processes, is similar in both orthomolecular medicine and functional medicine.

What are mitochondria?
Mitochondria are the parts of our cells that produce most of the energy for the cells to function. They are also involved in regulating gene expression, cell communication, some hormone production and apoptosis or cell death.

Mitochondrial Dysfunction & Chronic Disease
If the mitochondria aren’t doing their job properly, we see things breaking down. Mitochondrial dysfunction underlies many chronic diseases according to Dr. Litman such as neurodegenerative diseases, cardiovascular problems, auto-immune diseases and psychiatric problems.

Nutrient Deficiencies and Toxins
Nutrients are what the mitochondria use in order to do their job. Nutrient deficiencies due to poor diets plus the toxins in our world today are damaging to the mitochondria. According to Dr. Litman we need to eat food to provide the nutrients and to be as clean as possible so that we’re not picking up the toxins that will mess with our health.

In addition to nutrition and reduction in toxins, other factors that support the functioning of the mitochondria are exercise, sleep and stress.

What is Toxic to the Mitochondria?
According to Dr. Litman, we are getting exposed to a lot of toxins including heavy metals, pesticides, plastics and certain medications.

Can we get the recommended nutrients from diet alone?
The nutrients in our food supply have gone down a fair bit according to Dr. Litman. “What we had 100 years ago is not what we have now.” When asked the reason, Dr. Litman stated today’s farming methods, the shipping of food long distances and pesticides as reasons why our food lacks critical nutrients.  To compensate for some of the toxic exposure, Dr. Litman says we need even more (nutrients) and we’re getting less. This is where supplements come into play such as a good multivitamin, CoQ10, PQQ, L-Carnitine, NAC and Alpha-Lipoic Acid. The combination of CoQ10 and PQQ is currently being studied mostly for the brain and memory function. Some of these supplements are in formal clinical trials and some information is from informal case studies according to Dr. Litman. It is important to get guidance from healthcare professionals with experience in this field as it can get complicated suggests Dr. Litman.

Mitochondria and Cancer
In episode 10 of the Doctors+ podcast, Dr. Litman mentions a new and active area of work which is looking at mitochondrial damage as a large component in cancer.

Additional Resources
Dr. Mel Litman Website:
https://www.drmellitman.com/

Linus Pauling Institute:
https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/

LISTEN TO THE FULL PODCAST EPISODE 10

All content provided or opinions expressed are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please see advice from a qualified healthcare practitioner.

Covid Recovery: What To Eat And Drink

Listen to the full episode.

Doctors+ | Show Notes | Interview With Dr. Esther Konigsberg, MD

In this Alternative Food Network podcast, Esther Garfin interviews integrative physician Dr. Esther Konigsberg, MD, about what people should be eating and drinking during COVID-19 recovery. Unfortunately, many COVID patients or long-haulers continue to have lingering symptoms. The doctor provides credible tips on fighting infection and treating fatigue, respiratory issues, gastro issues and muscle and joint pain resulting from this coronavirus.

What does the body need when fighting infection?
To give the body the best chance for recovery and to boost the immune system, Dr. Konigsberg reminds the audience of the basics:

  • Minimize stress
  • Rest
  • Physical activity to the extent it’s possible
  • Proper nutrition

When it comes to foods, there is much data on fruits and vegetables increasing immunity and decreasing inflammation. According to Dr. Konigsberg, “we really want to bring down the inflammatory response because that often is one of the main underlying phenomena for long-haul issues”. Fruits and vegetables are rich in a substance called flavonoids.

Also important are omega-3 fatty acids which are found in foods like cold water fish, legumes, flax seeds and walnuts. They help to bring down the inflammatory response which is desired for reducing pain and improving breathing ability, says Dr. Konigsberg.

Other tips from Dr. Konigsberg of what to include in your diet are:

  • Garlic
  • Medicinal mushrooms such as shiitake and maitake mushrooms
  • Turmeric

Foods to avoid include:

  • Processed foods
  • Saturated fats like red meat; If you’re going to eat meat, eat leaner meats such as white chicken
  • Sugar -viruses and bacteria love to grow in a sweet environment.
  • Dairy – For people having respiratory problems, sometimes too much dairy can increase mucus production.

Fatigue from Coronavirus
As in a lot of viral illnesses, one of the predominant features can be fatigue. Dr. Konigsberg suggests adaptogens or an adrenal support as potentially being beneficial for people recovering from COVID to help repair the body and help improve energy. One example is red ginseng.

It has anti-inflammatory properties, anti-blood clotting properties and helps to support energy and the adrenal system. 

Dr. Konigsberg stresses the importance of consulting a healthcare professional because sometimes supplements can interact with medications and certain conditions. It’s also important to consult with a healthcare professional who understands the role of adaptogens. In Dr. Konigsberg’s experience, she has found that adaptogens can help to improve energy in somebody who is recovering from COVID.

Prolonged Respiratory Issues from COVID
COVID tends to have some major effects on the respiratory tract. People during the recovery period may notice shortness of breath. They may notice a worsening of asthma especially if they already have asthma, or a chronic cough. According to Dr. Konigsberg, a wonderful supplement to improve respiratory function is boswellia. She states that boswellia does a great job of decreasing the inflammatory substances called cytokines and it works very well for the lungs. For people who have asthma it can help decrease their use of inhalers.

In addition to boswellia, another good supplement according to Dr. Konigsberg is NAC, N-Acetyl Cysteine. NAC can help not only reduce inflammation but also mucus production in the respiratory tract. So NAC is something else that could be used in addition to boswellia if predominant symptoms are the respiratory problems following COVID.

Digestive Problems After COVID
Dr. Konigsberg mentions that she has had some patients who have new issues with their digestive systems after COVID that they never had before. Examples include:

  • Indigestion
  • Suddenly becoming intolerant to foods that one had no problems eating before
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach pain
  • Constipation

“Make sure you have fiber in your diet”, suggests Dr. Konigsberg.  She says fiber gets broken down in our gut to form the friendly bacteria and we really need that friendly bacteria in order to properly digest our foods. Therefore, having a lot of fiber in the diet, such as whole grains and fruits and vegetables, is beneficial.

In addition, boswellia can help to reduce inflammation especially for those who’ve had diarrhea.

For people who are having problems with indigestion, sometimes using a good digestive enzyme can help. In addition, having a little swig of apple cider vinegar and water before a meal can also help break down food better. By breaking our food down, it doesn’t come back up into our esophagus so we don’t get that reflux or indigestion.

Dr. Konigsberg mentions another supplement called deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) that helps to bolster the mucous layer of the digestive tract and helps to reduce indigestion.

Joint and Muscle Pain After COVID
Pain tends to be something that a lot of people notice after COVID. It could be joint pain. It could be muscle pain. Dr. Konigsberg mentions the role of exercise, specifically yoga for stretching the muscles and bringing blood flow to the muscles.

For people having muscle cramps, Dr. Konigsberg says taking a magnesium supplement can be very helpful. However, she cautions to be very careful with the magnesium you choose because some magnesium compounds like magnesium citrate can increase diarrhea. If you’re having issues with diarrhea, a magnesium bisglycinate is an option that does not create problems with the gut. Magnesium not only helps relax the muscles. It helps relax the mind and is fabulous for sleep as well.

Turmeric is a wonderful anti-inflammatory that can also help to reduce inflammation and pain.

Regarding omega-3 fatty acids that can be found in fish, Dr. Konigsberg suggests that to really have it work on a medicinal level, one could also get omega 3’s in a supplement form to get a much higher dosage of the components of omega-3s that are important which are EPA and DHA.

Vitamin D
Quite a few studies have been done about Vitamin D and coronavirus, most of them observational says Dr. Konigsberg. Based on the studies, Dr. Konigsberg suggests that taking vitamin D would be prudent and continuing to take it if you get COVID would be prudent as well.

Dr. Konigsberg routinely tests the vitamin D levels of her patients as it gives her the opportunity to be more targeted in how much vitamin D an individual should be taking.

Dr. Konigsberg advises to consult with your own healthcare practitioner before taking any supplements.

LISTEN TO THE FULL PODCAST EPISODE 13

All content provided or opinions expressed are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please see advice from a qualified healthcare practitioner.

The Hormone-Food Connection

Listen to the full episode.

Doctors+ | Show Notes | Interview With Dr. Kyrin Dunston, Md

In this Alternative Food Network interview with Dr. Kyrin Dunston, MD, a board certified OBGYN and Functional Medicine practitioner, listeners will learn about the various hormones in our body and why diet can play an important role in hormonal balance. Dr. Dunston shares her own personal and professional journey to achieving better health outcomes and offers diet tips to balance hormones. 

Why Dr. Dunston switched from practising as an OBGYN to becoming a functional medicine practitioner
Dr. Dunston went into gynecology because she fell in love with the specialty when she was a medical student. She loved participating in women’s lives and being a part of their families in one of the most important events of their life. However, with a challenging schedule and a family of her own, her own health started suffering. She was overweight, suffered with chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, anxiety and depression. “I wasn’t able to participate in life. I wasn’t able to be a mom and a wife, and I really became a stranger in my own life”, says Dr. Dunston. She checked her thyroid at least 10 times, and it was “normal”. Other tests came back “normal”. She felt like she was living in a shell of a body that used to be vital and healthy and alive, and her vitality had just gone away. Upon her discovery of functional medicine, everything changed.

What is functional medicine?
According to Dr. Dunston, traditional Western medicine is all about symptom management. If your blood pressure is high, you’re given a medication to bring your blood pressure down. Nobody digs into why do you have high blood pressure.

Functional medicine is concerned with the ‘why’.
Dr. Dunston breaks down the ‘why’ into four categories:

  • Hormone imbalance
  • Toxicity
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Energetic imbalance

Dr. Dunston claims that mainstream doctors are not educated in this. “I don’t blame them. They’re doing the best that they can with the information they’re given, and that’s what I did for years. But like Oprah says, “when you know better you do better”.

When asked if most functional medicine practitioners are MD’s, Dr. Dunston says no. There are two main organizations that train and certify functional medicine practitioners and they allow different levels of medical providers to become certified.

Dr. Dunston wants listeners to know that if they have symptoms and their health is not vital and alive with bountiful energy, a normal weight and no prescription medications, then there’s a reason why they are not feeling well. “If you’re not getting the answers that you need at your regular doctor’s office, seek out other answers, and functional medicine just might be a part of the answer for you”.

What are symptoms of hormonal imbalance?
In a 20-year-old woman, she could have polycystic ovarian syndrome, which symptoms might be heavy, painful and very irregular periods, acne, bloating, and infertility. A perimenopausal woman at 45 could have heavy, irregular periods with moodiness and/or low sex drive. A menopausal woman who’s 60 could have lack of sex drive, poor memory and fatigue.

Every woman has estrogen, and there could be varying degrees of dysfunctional levels. Every woman has progesterone and there could be varying degrees of dysfunction. Every woman has the stress hormone cortisol and there can be varying degrees of dysfunction with that. There’s always root causes.

Types of hormone replacement therapy
Dr. Dunston says the average age at which menopause occurs is 51 in the United States, and perimenopause can start 5 to 10 years before that.

Hormone replacement therapy is designed to replace hormones that the body naturally makes when in an optimal state. There are different types of hormone replacement therapy explains Dr. Dunston. There’s the traditional mainstream hormone replacement therapy that includes what started over 50 years ago as horse estrogen which was taken from pregnant horses. The estrogen was extracted and they started giving it to women. But when it was realized there was an increased risk for uterine cancer, something was needed to counteract the effect of estrogen. So they went into the lab and took the body’s natural progesterone and chemically modified it. It is commercially sold as Provera with the goal of counteracting the effects of the estrogen on the uterus so women wouldn’t get uterine cancer. This has been shown in large scale studies to have serious side effects and increase the risk of many diseases, including cardiovascular diseases and strokes, and not to be beneficial to women according to Dr. Dunston. There was a big move many years ago with a Women’s Health Initiative study to get women off of this traditional hormone replacement therapy.

Another type of hormone therapy is bioidentical hormone replacement which means that hormones are replaced with something identical to what a woman’s body naturally makes. Dr. Dunston says there is enough data now to show that health outcomes for women and quality of life are markedly improved with biologically identical hormone replacement.

Dr. Dunston thinks women have been left out to dry and perimenopausal and menopausal women are totally underserved because there is no standard of care for checking hormone levels. A woman should have her hormone levels checked by someone who knows what they’re doing and then evaluated. Dr. Dunston indicates that she is by no means someone who says that every woman needs hormone replacement. There are some women who go through menopause and they’re fine. Dr. Dunston acknowledges that hormone replacement therapy is a very big and controversial topic.

At what age should a woman test her sex hormone levels?

It is Dr. Dunston’s position that women’s hormone levels should be checked throughout the life cycle. “We want to know where women are when they’re in their younger years and teens, and then we have something to compare it to. We want to know where they are in their twenties thirties, forties and fifties. It should be checked as standard of care.”

What are the various types of hormones?
There are many hormones, not just the sex hormones estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. The other four major hormones that Dr. Dunston evaluates when assessing someone for hormone imbalance are: 1) thyroid 2) insulin 3) cortisol and 4) DHEA.

Hormonal imbalance and diet
When it comes to eating, insulin is the hormone that is primarily affected. A strategy for eating to help balance hormones involves helping insulin and cortisol to function better. One might think that sex hormones don’t have anything to do with these other hormones. They do. They’re all interrelated according to Dr. Dunston. So if you take care of your insulin and your cortisol, it helps your sex hormones and your thyroid.

Insulin is the hormone that is given the task of keeping blood sugar from going too high. Blood sugar is a main fuel source that cells use to make energy to do anything. A secondary fuel source is fat. Sugar comes from the food that we eat in varying degrees. Every time you eat, you get some degree of sugar. If you eat high glycemic index or high sugar content foods, you get more sugar, like white rice, potatoes, cakes, candies, cookies, bread and pasta. If you eat low sugar containing foods with a low glycemic index like broccoli and green beans, you get a bit of sugar.

Blood sugar roller coaster
Whatever you eat in a meal is going to give you your dose of sugar or glucose, and then your insulin is going to come in to tell you what to do with that glucose. It keeps your blood sugar from going too high because too high blood sugar is a problem. One of the biggest issues worldwide is diabetes. For the majority of people who have diabetes type two, they consume too much sugar, and the insulin cannot keep up with the level of sugar that they’re consuming. So insulin starts going up to try handle the high level of sugar, and eventually it can’t do its job and the cells in the pancreas that make insulin start dying because it’s like they’re being blown out.

The problem is that as insulin goes up, what goes up must come down. Blood sugar goes up and the higher it goes and the faster it goes up, the faster it goes down and the lower it goes. And when it comes down, there are a couple of hormones that are tasked with bringing it back up. One is glucagon and the other is cortisol.

Cortisol is the stress hormone. It regulates the sleep-wake cycle. It helps to regulate blood sugar, energy level, weight and how the immune system functions or does not function. Blood sugar has to be maintained in a very narrow range. You could die if your blood sugar goes too low. Your body considers that an emergency. Cortisol is the emergency hormone. You eat too many high glycemic index foods, blood sugar goes up, and then it crashes down and then cortisol is stressed out and you go up and down. This is the blood sugar roller coaster.

How does one know if they’re on the blood sugar roller coaster? You get hangry; you get angry, irritable and feel all out of sorts.

How should we be eating?

Dr. Dunston loves what she calls a modified paleo diet – primarily plant based.
In her opinion, vegan diets can have health benefits if you do them for 3, 6 or in certain circumstances, 9 or 12 months. But in her opinion, it’s not something that is a viable option as a lifestyle. She says there are certain nutrients that one can only get from animal protein. Supplements can be taken but Dr. Dunston thinks most people who are vegans do not supplement properly. (For another opinion, listen to vegan dietician Ashley in Alternative Food Network’s podcast, Plant Based Diet, episode 1.)

Dr. Dunston continues to explain that eating vegan is a tool to use, but as a lifestyle, to just do that and not do it under medical supervision without proper assessments and support, it’s probably in the long run going to cause problems.

It’s a volatile issue because people are very attached to their philosophical and political views and rightly so says Dr. Dunston. But as a physician, if you take dogma out of it, Dr. Dunston thinks the body really does need animal protein. However, she will sometimes suggest a vegan diet as a medicinal tool for a finite period of time as there can be a lot of benefit to it.  

The problem with today’s standard diet
Several hundred years ago, all we had was food from the earth. It was primarily plant food that was seasonal and local. We didn’t have meat in the degree that we now have. We way overeat meat. The standard American diet, which has been adopted by many countries around the world, is really pretty nutrient deficient and it’s just out of balance.
Dr. Dunston uses orange juice as an example. We love orange juice because we’re biologically predisposed to love sugar, and then we make that a part of our everyday, and what we’re not paying attention to is what this is doing to our body. It’s spiking our insulin and it’s dinging our cortisol and if we stay on that path to diabetes long enough, first we become insulin resistant, and then we become diabetic.

Dr. Dunston’s top food picks

  • Vegetables, vegetables and more vegetables – spinach, kale, collard greens, mustard greens, turnip greens. Dunson tells people to get nine servings of vegetables per day.
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Spices -turmeric, curcumin, oregano
  • Berries
  • Healthy proteins

Additional Resources
The Diet Deceptive Dozen: 12 Foods Flying Under Your Radar by Kyrin Dunston

LISTEN TO THE FULL PODCAST EPISODE 11.

 

 

Algae: The Food of The Future?

Listen to the full episode.

Plant Based Diet | Show Notes | Interview With Catharine Arnston, Founder & CEO Of Energybits

It has been touted as the food of the future and the most nutrient dense food on the planet. Algae is a food that’s “a gift to us from mother nature”, says Catharine Arnston, Founder & CEO of Energybits, who is interviewed in this episode.

What is Algae?
The type of algae discussed in the podcast is a food crop grown in fresh water. It is not grown in the ocean. It has a high content of protein, vitamins and minerals and is a multi billion-dollar industry in Asia.

Macroalgae and microalgae are two subcategories of algae. Macroalgae is what you see washed up on shore such as seaweed, dulse and kelp. Microalgae can be found everywhere, in the ocean, rivers and pools but it’s toxic to humans. Of the all the strains of microalgae, two types of microalgae are grown as an agricultural crop: 1) Spirulina (blue-green algae); and 2) Chlorella (green algae).

Difference Between Spirulina and Chlorella
Spirulina is technically bacteria. It has a very high concentration of protein and, according to Catharine Arnston, is known for giving a person energy and focus. Declared by the United Nations as “the best food for the future” and recommended to governments in a 2008 report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, spirulina has the potential to fulfill food security needs.

According to Arnston, spirulina is a complete protein. Spirulina also has B vitamins and essential fatty acids like omega-3 and GLA (gamma linolenic acid) and is high in iron, among many other nutritional benefits. According to Arnston who calls spirulina “efficient nutrition”, spirulina algae can satisfy hunger without carbs so people also use it for intermittent fasting.  

Chlorella is completely different than spirulina. One unique characteristics of chlorella is its high concentration of chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is important at the cellular level for getting nutrients in and toxins out. (For more on this, listen to Alternative Food Network’s Doctors+ podcast episode 10 on The Role of Nutrition in Mitochondrial Dysfunction and Chronic Disease with Dr. Mel Litman.) What kind of toxins? Arnston mentions its use after nuclear disasters, chemotherapy and even to avoid a hangover after drinking too much alcohol.

A second interesting characteristic about chlorella is that its chemical composition is similar to that of hemoglobin. Arnston points out that in WWI, when blood for transfusions ran out, the injured were given liquid chlorophyll.

Chlorella also is a natural source of Vitamin K2 which is important for heart and bone health says Arnston. Dietary sources of vitamin K2 include eggs, meat and various cheeses, foods which are lacking in a vegan diet.

Arnston also mentions that chlorella has been used to promote gut health.

How is Microalgae Processed?
Most microalgae is grown in Asia. It is grown in ponds and takes 1-2 months to grow. Then it’s dried into a powder. Energybits presses the powder into tablets, which tablets are imported into the US and tested by a third party lab.

2018 Farm Bill
The 2018 Farm Bill was signed into law in December 2018. It expanded federal support for algae agriculture, placing algae as one of the priorities for new crop development.

NASA’s Interest in Algae
Two of the reasons for NASA interest in algae are because of its nutritional density and oxygen generation according to Arnston.

Algae and COVID-19
Studies mentioned in the podcast:

  • University of Pittsburg algae nasal spray to prevent infection
  • Israel and Italy algae-based edible vaccine experiment
  • University of Western Ontario antibody test kit using algae

Who Should Not Consume Algae
According to Arnston, she has not heard of any allergies to spirulina. However, if someone is sensitive to vitamin K or beta-carotene, algae would not be appropriate.

Also, since chlorella pulls out toxins, Arnston did not know if chlorella identifies medication as a toxin. Therefore, Arnston recommends taking chlorella two hours before or after taking other medication. Arnston further says she’s “on the fence” about whether chlorella can treat auto-immune conditions despite it being an immune system builder.

Benefits of Algae if You’re Plant-Based
Of particular interest if you’re plant-based is that algae is a great source of omega-3’s, iron and chlorophyll. Arnston adds that today’s vegetables don’t contain the same nutrients as they once did so it’s difficult to get all the nutrients one needs with plants. Algae can be a great and easy source of nutrients.

Chlorella Detox
Since chlorella is a detoxifier, it is possible it could cause some short term distress according Arnston such as headaches, breakouts and stomach discomfort.

Algae for Immune Support
Algae provides great immune support, says Arnston. Algae has so many nutrients including zinc, vitamin A, B3, amino acids and chlorophyll that it makes it “easy to stay healthy”.

Future for Algae
We’re going to see it more and more in drinks and foods such as meat alternatives, soups, sauces and pasta. It’s even being used in food packaging. Unilever recently entered into a partnership with biotech startup Algenuity. They are exploring microalgae’s potential in food innovation. Algae represents an alternative source of protein which is key to feeding a growing population while reducing the impact on the environment.

Additional Resources
Microalgae: A potential alternative supplementation for humans https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2213453018301435

Building Better Life Support Systems for Future Space Travel https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/news/photobioreactor-better-life-support

Inflammatory and Anti-Inflammatory Foods

June 14, 2020

Having produced podcasts for the last couple of years related to food and health, there is consistent mention by our distinguished podcast guests and medical professionals of the connection between inflammation and diet. Based on information from these interviews, here’s a summary of inflammatory and anti-inflammatory foods as mentioned in Episodes 5 and 8 of Alternative Food Network’s Doctors+ podcast series and the Inflammation-Food Connection podcast.

Inflammatory Foods

  • Dairy
  • Alcohol
  • Processed meats, red meat
  • Refined sugar
  • Trans fats, saturated fasts
  • Refined carbohydrates e.g. white rice, white bread, white flour
  • Browned or burnt foods

Anti-inflammatory Foods

  • Monounsaturated fats e.g. olives, olive oil, macadamia nuts
  • Omega 3 fatty acids e.g. wild/unfarmed fish, pumpkin seeds, ground flax seeds, chia seeds, algae products
  • Whole or cracked grains e.g. quinoa, sorghum, millet, amaranth, bulgur
  • Naturally high fiber foods e.g. fruits, vegetables (particularly dark leafy greens)
  • Avocado
  • Legumes e.g. beans, lentils
  • Tofu
  • Tempeh
  • Nuts
  • Dark chocolate
  • Ginger
  • Turmeric + black pepper
  • Green tea
  • Blueberries

Sources:
Doctors+ podcast series, Episode 8: Food and Mood (Part I)
Doctors+ podcast series, Episode 5: The Gut-Brain Axis
Inflammation-Food Connection Podcast

To Ghee or Not to Ghee – That is the Question, but What is the Right Answer?

By Anita Mehta

To Ghee or Not to Ghee – That is the Question, but What is the Right Answer?

If your focus is health, wellbeing and embracing a better quality of life, then you have likely already heard of GHEE and its numerous benefits.  Used in Indian cooking for thousands of years, it is simply a clarified form of butter, heated to the point that the milk and water solids have separated and then removed, making it ideal for those lactose intolerant. Ketogenic and paleo diet friendly, it has a rich, nutty and caramelized type of flavoring, requiring no refrigeration.  Ghee made from cow’s milk is the best and readily available in grocery stores.

With its high levels of vitamin A, D, E, K, and CLA, a known anti-carcinogen, ghee delivers powerful benefits. It has been shown to rejuvenate and revitalize the whole body – from boosting immunity, decreasing inflammation, contributing to heart health, improving vision and promoting healthy hair and skin.  If that isn’t enough to convince you – it can even support weight loss as its amino acids help increase lean body mass while reducing the size of fat cells.  Essentially ghee acts as an instant energy source and is not stored as fat.

Ghee can be easily incorporated in your daily routine, either by itself or in cooking. You can take 1 tsp on an empty stomach each morning or blend into your tea, coffee or smoothie.  Using a blender to mix in the ghee creates a smooth, rich consistency, but without the dairy.  Easily used in stir fry’s, soups or pasta- it has a high smoke point, making it a healthier replacement to oils with a lower smoke point.  When an oil is thoroughly heated, it begins to smoke, break down and become oxidized. Research has shown that consuming oil that has been oxidized may create free radicals within the body, increasing the risk for developing cancer.

With so much to offer, it would appear to be a super food, however it is still high in saturated fat and should be used in moderation ideally 1-2 tsp a day, enough to still reap its wonderful rewards.

Turmeric Latte

  • 1 cup milk (dairy, coconut, almond, soy)
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ tsp ghee
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp ground fennel seeds (optional)
  • 1 tsp honey (optional)

Whisk milk, spices, honey, ghee, and water in a small saucepan and bring to a low boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 5 minutes.

Chocolate Fruit Dip 

Over low heat, stir together 1 tsp ghee, 1 tsp coconut oil, ½ tsp raw honey, and a handful of dark-chocolate chips until melted. 

References

What Is Ghee and What Are Its Benefits?
By Nicole Leatherman, Nutrition Writer and Editor
https://www.bijouxandbits.com/2017/01/golden-milk-recipe-turmeric-tea
https://www.yogajournal.com/lifestyle/creative-ways-use-ghee
https://www.yogajournal.com/lifestyle/ghee-better-than-butter
https://www.hindustantimes.com/fitness/ghee-for-weight-loss-nutrition-benefits-and-when-to-have-it/story-ufkPObq1I9NqOYqAZsnLWM.html
https://milkio.co.nz/ghee-smoke-point/

Anita embraces a variety of interests ranging from mentoring, travel & event planning, cooking, writing and volunteering.  Previously having worked in financial services, she now enjoys the freedom and versatility each day brings.

Why Every Podcaster Needs a Guest Release

By Esther Garfin

This is intended as general information, not legal advice, and does not establish a lawyer-client relationship. It is not a substitute for independent legal advice. Please consult a lawyer to address any specific legal issues.

To my fellow podcast creators and producers,

I’m the founder of Alternative Food Network (AFN) and producer of the AFN podcasts. I also have a professional background as an entertainment lawyer. I normally don’t write opinion pieces but I recently attended a podcast festival where I heard a podcast producer on a panel suggest to the audience that if you’re starting out as a podcaster and don’t have money to “legal up”, just borrow a Guest Release from a podcaster friend. That made me cringe.

I appreciate that obtaining legal services when you’re just starting out as a podcaster seems perhaps daunting and too costly of an undertaking. But, not having the appropriate legal documents from the beginning may very well lead to legal woes ahead. Every circumstance is different and “your friend’s” Release may not be appropriate for your situation. So, to help steer you in the right direction when it comes to Guest Releases for audio productions, I have answered some common questions in this blog. This isn’t legal advice from me to you. It’s just a suggestion for good business practices.

What is a Podcast Guest Release?

This Release is used by producers of podcasts to get permission from their guest to record and publish the guest’s voice in sound recordings in the producer’s production and wherever that production may be used and distributed.

Why should a Guest Release be used?

It protects both the producer and the guest. It grants certain rights to the producer which the producer requires in order to record and publish the podcast. It also provides clarity to the guest on how the recording will be used.

Having a signed Guest Release can avoid future headaches and legal troubles including:

  • a guest deciding they don’t like the podcast or the sound of their voice and asking you to remove the podcast;
  • a guest demanding that the podcast be edited in a certain way; or
  • a guest demanding payment when there was no agreement to pay.

What if the guest doesn’t sign the Release?

In my experience, this is a rare case. However, if it does happen, I say short term pain brings long term gain. In other words, if a mutually agreeable Release cannot be negotiated and signed, scrapping the guest may be the best decision as it can avoid a lot of wasted time, money and energy when things get heated down the road.

While a proper Guest Release isn’t the only document for the podcaster legal toolkit, at least it’s a start.

Esther Garfin is Alternative Food Network’s Founder and President. She is a podcast producer and also practiced entertainment law for 15+ years in Toronto, Canada.