Ever wonder what’s in your energy drink? Check out our discussion with Take a Hike Foundation

Posted on October 20, 2010 at 8:33 pm

This morning Dr. Sara Kinnon and I had the opportunity to meet the class of ‘Take a Hike, youth at risk Foundation‘, to discuss some healthy alternatives to energy drinks. The students of the program spend a great deal of time outdoors on big adventures expending lots of energy during their active learning.

During the interactive discussion we learned that the students were really surprised to learn about the toxic chemicals that are in the ever so popular energy drinks. Marketed to youth these energy drinks are the last thing these kids need to be ingesting! We took a close look at the ingredients and had fun trying to pronounce some of them! If you can’t read it, let alone pronounce it should you really be drinking it?

Here are a few ingredients we looked at today:

Aspartame: a common artificial sweetener that has been directly linked to brain tumours, emotional disorders, memory loss,           epilepsy,  and diabetes. It is a harsh chemical and we ingest it?

Natural flavours: This one sounds quite nice doesn’t it? Actually sounds like it might be from the ground and produced by mother nature? Not likely. Or if it was by the time it makes it to your drink it is far from natural. This catch terms is a nice way of covering up harsh chemicals and other toxic substances. Stay far away from it.

Benzoic acid: Linked directly with organ toxicity and cancer this little ingredient causes big problems.

Phosphoric acid: Used as a preservative it disrupts calcium balance and can lead to osteoporosis, teeth decay and generally robs the body of nutrients.

Sugar: loads and loads of refined sugar is added to these drinks. Cola has up to 10 teaspoons of sugar in each can! We all know sugar is not good for you but did you know that it leads to weigh gain and a very depleted immune system? Apparently 1 can of cola a day for a year can add up to 15 pounds of body weight. That is incredible!

Red dye #40: Carmine and natural red: All terms for a creepy food colouring that is actually made form female cockroaches. That is disgusting! It can be found in red yoghurts, children’s candies and drinks to name a few. One might think this is maybe the closest to nature since it is from a living creature but I am quite certain some toxins are added to the bugs before they are ground up to make the colour. I could pass on my share chemical cockroach juice thank you.

So what to do? Look for these drinks instead:

Pure filtered water: We are all likely not getting enough of this wonderful elixr. When you are tired reach for a tall glass of water and notice what happens to your energy levels. Might surprise you.

Fresh fruit juice: Reach for some pure fruit juice and when choosing the labels find some with nothing but pure fruit juice without sugar. Happy planet makes a very tasty version of juice to go.

Coconut water: A wonderful electrolyte full of essential minerals will help replenish after or during a workout. Instead of reaching for the blue drink that looks more like the colour a rubber ball should be made of – try coconut water mixed with some juice instead.

Water with lemon and honey: To spice up your water, especially if you are used to the flavoured drinks try a spash of the juice of a lemon, bit of raw honey and pure water. Mix and enjoy. The lemon doubles to help cleanse your liver, replenish and tastes wonderful. Mix a bit in a to go cup ahead of time and add water when you get to the office. Simple and affordable!

Lemon lime recovery sport drink

For those who want something to help replenish after a workout here is a great alternative from Brendan Brazier’s ‘Thrive Diet’ to the glowing blue drinks:

- Juice of 1/2 a lemon
- Juice of 1/4 lime
- 2 cups of pure water
-2 cups of honey
-1 tsp hemp oil or omega 3 blend
-1 tsp hemp protein (or good quality protein)
- In a blender blend all ingredients and enjoy!

As you can see there are lots of alternatives to the so called ‘energy’ drinks. We learned a great deal this morning with the class of ‘ Take a Hike Foundation’. The students are going to test out some of the finds on their regular adventure outings and see how they feel.

What a great morning with the class of Take a Hike youth at risk Foundation ! Thanks for the inspiring discussion and great questions and see you next month for our next topic:)

Discussion about stress with the BC College of Teachers

Posted on October 20, 2010 at 7:54 pm

This past Thursday October 14th, Naturopathic Doctor Sara Kinnon of Bellevue Natural Health Clinic and I had a great discussion with the BC College of Teachers in Vancouver.  Dr. Sara Kinnon and I embarked in an interactive educational discussion to empower the team to learn about their symptoms the effects and what they could do about it.

We learned very quickly that stress is something the employees of BCCT often feel and with fall in full swing many reported symptoms of adrenal fatigue. One of the most common symptoms among the group was that of insomnia, low energy and waking up between 3am and 5am. When we are stressed sleep is often disturbed as the adrenal glands are working hard to keep up and once cortisol levels dip well below the reserves we tend to get woken up or have trouble sleeping as they churn to desperately try to function instead of resting.

As part of the discussion we looked Dr. James Wilson’s adrenal fatigue questionnaire and discovered that many of the team members suffered from adrenal fatigue. This easy to do questionnaire was a great way to test how the body is reacting to stress and symptoms to watch out for.

Take the test and see how you score!

What to do about stress and burnout!

Posted on October 16, 2010 at 6:45 pm

Have you had enough of coming home from work and feeling totally exhausted? The only thing you seem to be able to muster up the energy to watch TV or better yet, crawl into bed? If this is sounding too familiar you might be feeling the symptoms of stress and adrenal fatigue or burnout.

Learn the signs and what you can do about it!

For more years than I can remember my days started much like a road race would. As soon as the alarm went off my mind started to run checking off the to do list and assessing the day. The next step was physically racing through my morning routine with a slight panic with what lied ahead at the office…my mind and body were already well into running the first few miles at a fast pace and I had barely brushed my teeth! I ate breakfast on the go which consisted of very little as my body certainly didn’t feel like digesting much during my race – go figure. I might ingest a small piece of fruit and possibly something refined like a muffin a few hours later when a slight hunger pang would interrupt my morning. Does this sound familiar?

By the time I got to the office my heart was racing trying to keep up with the dreaded flashing red light from my smartphone and emails with exclamation marks that needed to be dealt with pronto. Off I went, full steam ahead and with determination to ‘survive’ the day and all the excitement ahead as efficiently and quickly as possible. Days were much like a competition race and full of surprises which made the work fun and challenging. To fuel up I ate at my desk as quickly as I could and ensured that I was able to type while holding my sandwich. My energy crashed around 2pm and I reached for something sweet to keep me going. How I wish I only knew what this was doing to my body and mind….

I can remember often sitting at my desk looking at an email and realizing my heart was racing so quickly and that I was almost always out of breath..from simply sitting at my computer! I wasn’t even moving, I was just sitting still…it was simply me…and my PC. Why did I feel so rushed with a constant foggy mind and almost anxious? I honestly thought everyone felt this way and didn’t think twice about it. The truth is most people I worked with likely did feel similar but never slowed to think about a possibility of feeling better and being really productive at work.

This in a very short and quick version was my work day and it was always my approach to tackling my projects and anything on my plate. For years I worked with such determination and rarely slowed to take a breath. Not uncommon at all and in fact everyone I worked with had a similar disposition. I was not abnormal and this was just the way it was. As you can imagine though it did slowly catch up with me one symptom at a time until I finally had to make some changes and realized that you can work hard and actually feel completely different both emotionally and physically!

If this is sounding too familiar we all likely recognize it as stress which our bodies have been built to handle. The problem is that we are designed to have a physiologic system in place to help us cope for things like jumping out of the way of a moving bus or defending ourselves. The system is there to help us cope but can only do this for so long without needing to be replenished. Sitting at a desk and thinking ourselves into the stress response for too long does cause problems. I find it  amazing that we can actually think ourselves into the same ‘fight or flight’ state without lifting a finger. We may know this as feeling stressed which can lead to adrenal fatigue or burnout and most of us experience some degree of this at some point but how much is too much and what are the warning signs?

Common warning signs

  • Do you feel tired early in the evening?
  • Do you wake up between 3am and 5am?
  • Do you crash in the afternoons?
  • Do you crave salty foods?
  • Are you often anxious?
  • Are you finding it hard to get out of bed in the morning?
  • Do you suffer from insomnia?
  • Are you moody or a bit depressed?
  • Do you often feel like you have a foggy memory?

If you have of one these symptoms you could be suffering from the effects of stress putting a strain on your much needed adrenal glands! Rocky Mountain Analytical has some great information about adrenal function.

5 easy things you can start doing now

1. Get lots of sleep. The adrenal glands recharge when we rest, especially in complete darkness. Get at least 8 hours of sleep. Did you know that the hours between 9pm and midnight are the best quality sleep? Our bodies produce twice as much melatonin at that time and so getting to bed before midnight has it’s benefits. This is lie doubling the amount of sleep between the hours of 9pm and midnight!

2. Decrease caffeine. Caffeine stimulates the release of adrenaline and noradrenaline, these hormones put you into that stress response.

3. Reduce consumption of refined carbohydrates like muffins and sugar. These non foods just spike blood sugar and increase insulin levels which in turn stimulates cortisol levels and signals again the stress response. Reach instead for low glycemic and good quality whole foods such as walnuts, fruit and green vegetables. Now that we are into fall try grounding foods such as yams, pumpkins, potatoes and turnips. These will burn slowly and cause your body less stress.

4. Eat every 2-3 hours. During times of stress our blood sugar levels and insulin levels are generally spiking and out of balance. Help this out by eating small meals of protein rich and nutrient rich whole foods. Snack on good quality raw nuts, grains, legumes and vegetables. Keep good quality snacks at your desk or close by. Don’t forget to chew your food and breathe! Give digestion a break by chewing each mouthful and taking deep breaths, even if it is in front of your computer.

5. Good quality supplements. Supplements are vital to the adrenal glands and the system overall. B vitamins, vitamin C, magnesium, omega 3 EFA, vitamin E and calcium. Great herbs include licorice, withania, panax, ginger and ginko. Note always consult a holistic nutritionist or naturopathic doctor for appropriate doses of supplements.

These 5 simple tips will help reduce the feeling of stress and nourish your hard working adrenal glands. In our busy lives we need to support out systems especially when they signal for help! Avoid full burnout and help restore balance. Try it and see how you feel.