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Seriously, Laughter is Medicine

Still on my monthly habit building, last month I completed #jokeadayJuly. I committed to share a joke (at least one, sometimes more) every day for 31 days. I shared it on my Facebook page (Dr.Melissa Carr) and told it to various people around me throughout the day. 

It’s harder than you might think to find 31 decent (with both meanings of “not dirty” and also “okay”) jokes. But it was fun to search for jokes, and even to laugh at the ones that were truly bad (again, in both senses of the word). And, my favourite part was that friends also shared their jokes with me. 

paddleboardPurposefully seeking humour every day is a powerful medicine, even if it only produces a small smile or groaning giggle. Trying to tickle your funny bone means you are intentionally bringing positive into your life, and that bounces into the lives of others around you, and continuously comes back to you. It’s kind of like that paddle ball on an elastic band that you might have played with when you were a kid–but with the plus of not actually whacking you in the face when you miss. 

Laughter has been shown to:

  • Reduce feelings of stress
  • Stimulate your heart, lungs, and muscles
  • Burn calories
  • Stimulate blood circulation
  • Relax tight muscles
  • Ease pain
  • Improve immune function
  • Boost mood (duh)
  • Release endorphins

* Acupuncture does a lot of these too, by the way.

No joke, look up laughter on PubMed (a reputable source of research), and you’ll find a number of articles citing the value of laughter as medicine. 

These are some of what I thought were my best jokes of the month. Send me your best jokes!

Mahatma Gandhi, as you know, walked barefoot most of the time, which produced an impressive set of calluses on his feet. He also ate very little, which made him rather frail, and with his odd diet, he suffered from bad breath. This made him…(oh, man, this is so bad, it’s good)…a super calloused fragile mystic hexed by halitosis.

What’s Orange and sounds like a Parrot? ……………..A Carrot.

Why did the hipster burn his mouth on a slice of pizza? He ate it before it was cool.

and lastly…

Two bass drums and a cymbal roll down a hill. Ba dum tssh.

 

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Food Waste as Explained by John Oliver

John Oliver Food WasteDid you know that the US throws out as much of 40% of all the food product they make? 

Did you know that Americans throw away $165 billion worth of food every year? That’s about 20 pounds of food per person EVERY month!

And did you know that that translates to 730 stadiums full of wasted food per year?!

Wow! I don’t know the Canadian stats, but per capita, we aren’t much different.

And we are getting worse. The “US per capita food waste has progressivly increased by about 50% since 1974.” 

What’s wrong with this?

Obviously, waste like this is horrendous. As kids, my sister and I learned only a few Japanese words from our Canadian born, but Japanese heritage (3rd generation Canadian), mother. The only words that weren’t related to food were: “yakamashi” and “motainai.” Yakamashi means noisy. Not being noisy was a very important trait for us to learn. Motainai was equally important for us to avoid. It means wasteful. 

First of all, many people don’t have enough food!

Second, we’re using up resources to make the food that is just tossed out.

Third, by throwing food into landfills, we’re creating methane–a greenhouse gas that is more than 20 times more potent than CO2 at trapping heat.

Fourth, we’re wasting money. You’re wasting your money if you’re throwing out food. 

So, What Can We Do?

Steps you can take to change your relationship with food waste:

  1. Don’t discriminate against “ugly” fruits and veggies. Just because they may be shaped differently or have marks on them, doesn’t mean they are not good to eat.
  2. Consider “best before” or “sell by” dates as guidelines. The food may still be fine to eat. 
  3. Don’t buy more than you can eat.

Oh, and watch John Oliver’s video here and share it. He’s way more entertaining than me!

 

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Tips for Quitting Smoking

cigarette trapCreate a specific action plan to improve your chances of quitting smoking forever. Write down your plan because that will make you think more carefully about what you need to do and how you can do it.

  1. Decide how you are going to quit. Gradual decline or cold turkey. Set a plan. Cold turkey is recommended.
  2. Determine and write down your reasons for wanting to stop smoking, e.g. health, money, social interactions, etc. The reasons should be for you, not anyone else, i.e. not because your husband/wife, girl/boyfriend, parent, boss, etc. want you to quit, but because you want to quit.  This/these reason(s) will be your best motivator(s) if and when you feel your determination to quit lag.  Keep this reminder with you.  You can also carry pictures or medical test results or other such cues to remind you of your reasons.
  3. Figure out your smoking patterns. Do you like a cigarette after eating, first thing in the a.m., while talking on the phone, while driving, when you have an alcoholic drink or a coffee, etc?  Plan ahead for how you are going to deal with those situations.  These are also ideal times to press your ear seeds.
  4. Ask for support from people that you know. Both professional and non-professional people can be great teammates to getting you to stop smoking.
  5. Recognize that even if you do have cigarette one day, don’t beat yourself up. Just move forward and stop smoking again from that moment on.
  6. Write down ways that you have succeeded at something difficult in the past and recognize that you do have the ability to be successful at this as well.
  7. Reward yourself for your successes, big and small. Think of the things that you would like to do or buy for yourself as a reward for quitting.  Start a stop smoking jar and every day or week deposit the money you would normally spend on cigarettes in the jar (or in a separate bank account if that amount is too much for what purchase you would like to make).  Reward yourself when you reach the amounts that you need to do/get the things you want.
  8. Practice some of the following techniques when you feel a craving:
    • Pull out your reminder of your reasons for quitting smoking
    • Deep breathe: Inhale the deepest lung-full of air you can, and then, very slowly, exhale. Purse your lips so that the air must come out slowly. As you exhale, close your eyes, and let your chin gradually sink over onto your chest. Visualize all the tension leaving your body, slowly draining out of your fingers and toes, just flowing on out.
    • Have a drink of water
    • Go for a walk
    • Call a friend/support person
    • Keep healthy snacks available so that you don’t reach for the junk food quick fix
  9. Check out this free government resource: http://www.quitnow.ca/
  10. Get help. Acupuncture/Traditional Chinese Medicine can support your healthy body, relax your mind, and help manage cravings. For more on this, check out my blog about how acupuncture can help you quit smoking.

 

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Quit Smoking With Acupuncture

quit smokingEvery day, people around the world vow to finally quit smoking for good only to watch their resolution go up in smoke. If you have tried to quit smoking, you know how difficult it can be. Nicotine is a powerfully addictive drug. For some people, it can be as addictive as heroin or cocaine.

The reasons to quit smoking are endless. Cigarettes have 4000 known poisons. One drop of pure nicotinic acid can kill a man. According to the CDC, tobacco kills more than 440,000 people each year in the US alone. Smoking is also associated with an enormous list of the chronic illnesses and diseases including emphysema, lung cancer, high blood pressure, shortness of breath, chronic cough, an increased frequency of colds and flu.

Many people decide to quit because of the enormous expense of a cigarette habit or are just plain tired of being dependant on a substance. There is also considerable social pressure not to smoke and more and more places do not allow smoking.

Acupuncture is an alternative approach to smoking cessation. In fact, acupuncture is often a court-mandated treatment for drug addicts because of its ability to curb withdrawal symptoms and manage cravings.

It’s estimated that most smokers will attempt to quit several times before finally kicking the habit. Acupuncture is not a magic cure in the treatment of any addiction, including smoking, however, is effective in making it easier to quit and remain smoke-free. If you are highly motivated and ready to quit, acupuncture can empower you to take control and begin a healthy and smoke-free life!

How Does Acupuncture Help Break the Cigarette Habit?

Acupuncture intercepts messages sent by the brain to the body that demand more nicotine, thereby disrupting the addictive process. It can eliminate most cravings, but not the habit. A successful acupuncture program will include patient preparation, patient commitment, and education about how to replace the unhealthy habit of smoking with healthy habits.

Traditional Chinese Medicine aims to treat the specific symptoms and patterns of imbalance that are unique to each individual. Treatments will focus on the jitters, the cravings, the irritability, and the restlessness that people commonly complain about when they quit. It will also aid in relaxation and detoxification.

What Points Are Used?

Each patient is custom-treated according to his or her specific and unique diagnosis. Usually a combination of body acupuncture points and points on the ear are used that are believed to influence the organs and energetic pathways associated with smoking.

Commonly Used Points for Smoking Cessation include:

Ear points:-alleviates tension; increases will power; returns the body to homeostatic balance; relieves withdrawal symptoms; Diminishes appetite and cravings.

Body points: (on the wrist) a specific point to quit smoking; a combination of two points (one on the hand & one on the foot) used to circulate energy throughout the body and calm the nervous system.

After removing the needles, ‘ear seeds’ (affixed to a small beige tape) are often applied to the ear to stimulate the points between treatments and reduce cravings.

How Many Treatments Will I Need and How Long Do they Take?

The length, number and frequency of treatments will vary. Typical treatments last approximately sixty minutes, with the patient being treated two to three times on the first week and two more treatments the second week (5 initial treatments). I recommend a booster treatment once a month for the next four to six months. Some symptoms are relieved after the first treatment, while more severe or chronic ailments often require multiple treatments.

A stop smoking program will often consist of 4-6 initial treatments scheduled in the first few weeks followed by monthly treatments for four to six months.

Note that herbs and/or supplements may also be recommended to help the lungs recover and support the whole body.

Also, check out my tips for creating a quit smoking plan.

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BC wildfires and your lung health

BC wildfires July 8,15As of today in BC, there are 68 active fires of note and/or fires larger than 10 hectares (there are many more fires in total than that!). But there are actually 197 fires total active around BC! That’s huge! And unusual for us this time of year. What’s even more unusual was waking up this past Sunday morning to an eerily coloured sky caused by the haze of smoke from those fires. By Sunday afternoon in Vancouver and many surrounding areas, the smell of smoke was in the air. My husband and I had taken our bikes downtown to check out the fan activity for the FIFA Women’s World Cup, and by 3 p.m. we decided that the smoke was too much, so we headed home to watch the game there. 

SUP Yoga beach

I did SUP yoga that morning, and this was the view of Kits beach as I headed out. (photo not modified)

Within a few hours the air quality advisory for Vancouver was at 7/10–in the high risk category–and we could feel it. For some it caused shortness of breath, wheezing, asthma attacks, coughing, scratchy throat, and irritated sinues. My husband experienced burning eyes. I got a headache (headaches are my barometer for pretty much anything that is not right for my body). Those with lung health issues, the elderly, and the very young are those most at risk with poor air quality advisories.

Thankfully air quality has improved in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland, though the values are still wavering between a low to moderate level (2-5). In Squamish and Whistler right now, the numbers are much worse, with Whistler at 8 right now.

You’ve likely heard the recommendations to close your windows and get inside an air conditioned building. That may be doable during the daytime, but it’s hard to do that at night if you don’t have air conditioning in your home. I know that on Sunday we debated between keeping the windows open so we could cool our place down and closing the windows so no more smoke would enter. We chose the latter. Better to be warm than risk damaging our health.

Protect Your Lungs

  1. Check out the air quality ratings in your area. In BC, this is the link: bcairquality.ca
  2. If you hear advisories about air quality in the news, listen to them. 
  3. Minimize your exposure. Close windows and minimize outdoor activities. If you have heart or lung disease or are frail, consider leaving the area to stay somewhere with better air quality.
  4. Avoid burning things like wood fireplaces, gas logs, gas stoves, and even candles when smoke levels are high. Unlikely you’ll want to be lighting up your wood fireplace in this heat, but gas stoves might be more of a challenge for some.
  5. Don’t vacuum, as that stirs up particles already in your home. I like the excuse not to vacuum! However, some people noticed an accumulation of ash in their place. When you clean, consider using a proper particulate mask. Dust masks are not enough. An effective mask must be able to filter very small particles. Smoke particulate averages about 0.3 microns. It must also provide an airtight seal around your face. Masks marked with “R95,” “N95,” or “P95″ can help (I found these online at Home Depot), but R,N, or P99 or 100 masks filter even more (Amazon has some 99 ones). Note that they won’t work if you don’t get a proper seal, and that those of you with beards will have a near impossible time to get a good seal. You might also find it’s hard to breathe through the masks, as they increase resistance to airflow.
  6. Use an air purifier to help filter some of the particulate out of your indoor environment.
  7. And, clearly, it’s better if you don’t smoke. That pollutes you and the lungs of people around you even more. Maybe it’s good timing to quit (see my blog on quitting smoking).

Support Your Lungs

  1. Find a clear air place to practice some deep cleansing breath work. Breathe in through your nose, fully and deeply. Hold your breath for a count of five. Then open your mouth and fully and slowly exhale all the air out of your lungs. When you think you’ve breathed it all out, use your abdominal muscles to help your diaphragm lift up further by exhaling “ha…ha…ha” to push out more air. Breathe in again, and repeat this sequence a few times. If you have chronic lung health issues, consult with a health professional before trying this. Also be careful if this makes you dizzy. Practicing this or other deep breathing exercises can help strengthen the lungs.
  2. Hydrate well. Your whole body needs water to function properly. Water also helps with mucus production and movement, key to collecting and getting rid of viruses, bacteria, other pathogens, toxins, and cellular waste products.
  3. Include garlic and onions in your diet. They help fight infections and decrease inflammation.
  4. Eat kale, cauliflower, broccoli, and cabbage. They are part of the cruciferous veggie category, and they are rich in antioxidants that help to manage cellular damage. They have also been shown to help prevent and fight lung cancer.
  5. Chomp on apples. Several studies have shown that eating two to five apples a week can reduce the risk and severity of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. It is believed that the flavonoids in apples, especially khellin, can help open up airways.
  6. Get treated. If you have lung health issues–asthma, allergies, COPD, emphysema, etc.–Traditional Chinese Medicine has a variety of powerful ways to support your lung health, from acupuncture and herbs to foods and lifestyle changes. 

Remember, even if you don’t have any lung health issues, your lungs are vital to your good health, so take good care of them!

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You scream for dairy-free ice cream

Dairy-Free Ice Cream healthy recipeIce cream is evil. Well, of course it isn’t actually evil. But ice cream holds several traits that can impair digestion and health, even in fairly small quantities for some. One of the main problems for many, is the fact that it contains dairy. For those with lactose intolerance tendencies, there are dairy-free options. 

I normally don’t care to have ice cream. I’ve long lost my cravings for it, ever since I worked at an ice cream shop. Perhaps I had too many sample bites. Or maybe it’s that I got grossed out from having to clean ice cream off of everything at the store–really, how did the kids get ice cream on the ceiling! Or it could be that my body finally got through to my brain that I don’t feel great when I have too much ice cream.

Nevertheless, with the hot weather, this recipe for dairy-free ice cream got me thinking, “why not?”

It is surprisingly delicious and easy to make! It’ll even leave you some time to try out this ice cream quiz while you wait for your dessert to freeze: WebMD’s Ice Cream Facts Quiz

Dairy-Free Matcha Chip Ice Cream
Check out Sondi's website for other delicious and healthy recipes.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 14-oz can coconut milk
  2. ¼ cup maple syrup (I want to try other natural sweeteners like honey or rice syrup, but haven't yet tried it)
  3. 1 tsp matcha green tea powder
  4. ½ tsp vanilla extract
  5. pinch of salt (yes, you need this to make it freeze)
  6. ½ cup cacao nibs or dairy-free chocolate chips (I prefer the cacao nibs for taste and the fact that they are lighter and don't sink to the bottom like the chocolate chips)
Instructions
  1. Put the coconut milk, maple syrup, matcha powder, vanilla extract, and salt into a blender.
  2. Blend ingredients until smooth.
  3. Pour into a freezable container. I used mason jars.
  4. If not using an ice cream maker, stir in the cacao nibs (or chocolate chips) and put it in the freezer.
  5. If using an ice cream maker, freeze according to manufacturer's instructions. Add the cacao nibs during the last few minutes of freezing.
Notes
  1. Moderation is key, of course.
Acupuncture, TCM, natural health, Vancouver, BC http://www.activetcm.com/
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The Juicery Co.: My Review

Vancouver Juice Juicery Co healthy foodGluten-free isn’t the only growing health food trend—juicing companies are popping up all over. Juicing has been around for thousands of years. The ancient Greeks juiced pomegranates in 1700 B.C., calling it a love potion. When I was in Turkey last fall, one of my favourite street vendor options was hand juiced oranges or pomegranates. Yum! Still makes my mouth water.

When I was invited to try out the juices at The Juicery Co., I was game. At home, I regularly make smoothies, but I’ve never juiced, so I was curious about meeting Alex, one of the co-founders of this company.

20150527_134234_resizedThe Juicery Co. was not initially started as a business idea. It began because Alex and her mom wanted to help Alex’s grandfather when he was diagnosed with stage four esophageal cancer. When they saw how it helped his overall health, they continued developing more juices for themselves, other family member, and friends. Word travelled, and so began the company which started with two stores in North Vancouver.

I visited their newest store at 3570 West 4th Avenue in Kitsilano. Beautifully clean and modern, the store is welcoming. Alex chose 4 juices for me to try. They have 18 juice options on their menu and 5 dairy-free raw nut “mylks”. It would be hard to get bored of their flavours!

All their juices are cold-pressed, raw, and organic. Their produce is from Pro Organics and nuts from Real Raw. They buy local and organic, whenever possible. They use glass, reusable bottles (you pay a deposit that is refunded when you return them so they can sterilize them and use them again). They have done their research for ingredients, enlisting the help of health professionals. Check, check, check, check, check, check. But how do they taste? These are the ones I tried.

Juicing The Juicery Co healthy food review VancouverThe Greenest

Looking for a very green green juice? This is just that. I liked the freshness of it. This is a good detox and cooling blend—a good combo to add during a liver cleanse. I thought it might be too intense a green flavour for my husband, but he really liked the leftover bottle I took home. Looking at the list of other “green” category juices they have, I think next time I’d try The Pacific. They had me at mint for that one.

Juicing The Juicery Co healthy food review VancouverTurmeric Tonic

They were smart about how they blended this juice. The addition of black pepper boosts the absorption of the curcumin and other phytonutrients in turmeric to support its anti-inflammatory benefits. The OJ and honey soften the flavour, and the ginger further boosts the anti-inflammatory properties. I’d drink this one regularly, especially as summer activities pump up with more possibility of sports-related soreness and injuries. If you’re not into that, but are into BBQ with beer, martinis on patios, or visits to wineries, the turmeric will also help your liver.

Juicing The Juicery Co healthy food review VancouverLocal Rose

Of the ones I tried, this was my favourite for flavour. Grapefruit juice is my favourite juice. Well, that and pineapple juice (maybe I’ll have to choose The Botanist or The Palms next time!). For someone not used to the stronger flavoured juices, the citrus category may be your easiest start for your palate. Grapefruit juice is refreshing, high in vitamin C, and high in antioxidants. Rosemary is good for your immune system, digestion, and focus and memory. And I love that they have burdock root in this one. Burdock is a great blood cleanser and good for skin issues. Be aware that grapefruit may interfere with the absorption of some pharmaceuticals.

Juicing The Juicery Co healthy food review VancouverGreen Mylk

The misspelling of “milk” is intentional here, as “mylk” is not dairy. It’s made from nuts—in this case, Brazil nuts. I had never tried a Brazil nut milk/mylk before. Note that if you choose this one, it’s supposed to be clumpy. That doesn’t mean it’s gone off. If you want something with protein, good fats, and fibre, choose one of the mylk products. Since I’m always hungry, I finished drinking this one first, though I think I’d prefer to keep my greens and my nut drinks separate, so next time I have a nut mylk here, I’ll go for one of the other options that look delicious (from the listing of what’s in them).

In case you can’t get in to one of their stores, The Juicery Co. does deliver. But, if you want some place to meet a friend that isn’t your standard coffee shop, why not meet over a juice? Invite me, I’m in! 😉

Juicing The Juicery Co healthy food review VancouverJuicing The Juicery Co healthy food review VancouverJuicing The Juicery Co healthy food review Vancouver

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Are your foods, herbs, makeup, and more full of toxins?

24 Hours Traditional Chinese Medicine and AcupunctureOur world is full of chemicals that are toxic to us if allowed to accumulated in our bodies. Toxins are found in food, makeup, skincare products, and cleaning products, but also even in some supplements and herbal products. Canada has much stricter rules regarding these toxic chemicals than some other countries. For this reason, Aryuvedic herbs and Chinese herbal products are highlighted as possible sources for higher levels of these toxins. When patients ask me about the quality of Chinese herbs and other supplements I use–and it’s a good question to ask–I can assure them that the products I use have third party testing for safety and quality. Read more to find out what other things to consider in my 24 Hours Vancouver article, How to Clean Your Food of Toxins.

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Product Review — Kombucha tea

kombucha tea product reviewIn March I went to the CHFA (Canadian Health Food Association) show held in Vancouver (they have one in Toronto every year too). Only retailers and health professionals are allowed entry, not general public, because these are the companies that sell to the stores and clinics who then sell to the consumer. I go so that I can see what’s new in the land of natural health products and foods, and every year I learn about at least a few products that I hadn’t known prior.

I’ve been meaning to write about a few of the products I’ve tried, so finally, a couple of months later, here I start.

Kombucha—“Immortal Health Elixir”

Kombucha is one of those food/drink products that has been around for a very long time, but didn’t hit mainstream (well, relatively mainstream) until recently. It may not make you immortal, but because it’s rich in antioxidants, vitamins, phytonutrients, and probiotics, it has been shown to help improve joint health, support good digestion, boost under-functioning immune systems, aid detoxification, and perhaps even prevent cancer.

Kombucha is a fermented sweetened tea. Ya, I know, that doesn’t sound yummy, but you’ll find a wide variety of brands and flavours now available in the refrigerated section of many grocery stores. The most common brand I’ve seen is called Synergy. It comes in flavours like Gingerberry, Guava Goddess, and Cosmic Cranberry. Some of them also come with chia seeds that make the drink thicker and more filling—you get a bonus of essential fats, fibre, and protein. These latter options are a much healthier alternative to sugar laden bubble tea with those little balls of tapioca.

I had only tried Synergy before and I prefer it not with the chia seeds. I find that you can taste a bit of a fermented bite—vinegary—with this brand. I like it, but it might not suit everyone’s tastebuds. It does taste “authentic” though, and there are a ton of flavour options, so you can try a different one if the first one you try doesn’t click for you.

At the CHFA show I picked up a bottle of Rise Kombucha in Hibiscus and Rosehips flavour and a bottle of Brew Dr. Kombucha in “Clear Mind” option.

What I like about the Rise Kombucha is that it has a lighter taste, so I think it probably will have a wider audience. I’ve tried some other Rise products and could taste the flavours in each—Mint & Chlorophyll, Rose and Schizandra, and of course Ginger. I think I need to buy the Lemongrass one next, as the Rise website lists a couple of recipes (a salad dressing and a marinade for veggies) that use that Lemongrass Rise Kombucha. It’s also nice that it’s a Canadian product—from my home province, Quebec.

The Brew Dr. Kombucha is made in Portland, Oregon, as you might guess. It’s bottled in brown glass stubbies, like old school beer. If you check out their website, you’ll get a definite hipster vibe. But don’t hold that against them ;). This brand tasted more like a beer to me. So, if you want a healthy drink that will sub in for a beer and actually help your brain, rather than kill off brain cells, try the Clear Mind Brew Dr. Kombucha.

Oh, and for each of these, I have 2 tips.

  1. Don’t shake the bottle vigourously or you’ll be cleaning up a mess. Rise Kombucha recommends you turn the bottle upside down and gentle swirl it to mix in the sediment (the “mother”—the good stuff!).
  2. I usually find a whole bottle too much for one sitting for me. I pour about half into a glass and cap the remainder to keep in the fridge.

Let me know if you have a fave kombucha and if you have your own tips.

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Paleo, vegetarianism, and other dietary debates

scary foodI’ve been writing for 24 Hours Vancouver for more than 2 years now. Wow! I hadn’t realized how long it had been until I looked it up to write this blog. I’ve written about health topics as diverse as kidney health, hot or cold application for pain, and workplace wellness. A number of those articles have also included food suggestions.

But few of them have created as much controversy and dialogue as my most recent article–Meat-less in May–on eating less meat or going meatless for a month. I mentioned that my husband and I are doing a Meatless May, and I wrote about the health benefits and challenges of going vegetarian.

Within a few days of the online and in print edition of my article on 24 Hours I started receiving emails and comments about it. The comments from meat eaters include, “Please stop preaching to me what I should eat and not eat. I will be the one that decides.” Vegetarians criticize me. I’m asked, “Wonder why this article wasn’t more truthful” because I stated that vegans and vegetarians need to be aware that they may be deficient in certain nutrients if they don’t make the right food choices and, in some cases, supplement (e.g. B12 if vegan). 

And today, within 5 minutes of sending out my newsletter with a link to that article, one of my friends unsubscribed from my newsletter. She believes that we are evolving into carnivores and some people eat too many vegetables. 

So, why are people so persnickety when it comes to their food choices?

I am not a vegetarian, but I am an animal lover. Like everyone else, I’m trying to find my own path, making choices that reflect a balance of what I know, think, and feel. I do not presume to know what is the right diet for everyone. I do not believe that there is ONE right diet for everyone. We are all different. 

This is why paleo followers can be healthy and heal their illnesses with their food choices; why vegans can do the same; why macrobiotic ditto; why raw (yes, even raw meat for some) also. This is why nutrition is so darn confusing. 

Generally, those who eat real, whole foods, limiting processed foods, are healthier. There are those who eat junk regularly and seem to get away with it. Sometimes just for awhile. Sometimes for longer than one would have foreseen. But, what is beautiful about food is that there is such a diversity and you can find what works best for you.

In case you want to know my responses to those people…

To those who don’t want me to tell them what to eat: 
No problem. Eat what you like. But if you have health problems and come see me in clinic, I’m probably going to offer you suggestions. If you don’t like what I write in an article, stop reading, or offer me a valid point of information that I can work with.

To those who believe that we are evolving into carnivores and some of us eat too many vegetables:
Yes, we are not like rabbits. We have very different digestive systems. And yes, rabbits may have a hard time digesting all the fibre they eat. But fibre is meant to help absorb substances and toxins and move them out of our bodies, so we aren’t meant to absorb it all. That is not proof that we are more like carnivores. Gorillas are omnivores who eat a lot of vegetable matter. We are more like primates than lagomorphs (the order for rabbits; I thought they were rodents, but they aren’t).

My response to the vegetarian who thought I was basing my article on my opinion, trying to scare vegetarians and vegans about nutrient deficiencies. This is what I wrote to one:
I was not trying to scare people into eating meat or not eating meat. My article was meant to provide information, as we currently understand, about different dietary choices. I am not a vegetarian, but am enjoying the start of my month of vegetarianism. I eat little meat normally, but am committed to this Meatless May. I do not presume to know what is the right diet for everyone. I do not believe there is one right diet for everyone, as we are all different. My choice to go vegetarian this month is for ethical reasons with regard to animals, not related to my health, though my article is about health because that is what I’m asked to write about.

Carnosine is found in our bodies, particularly muscle and brain tissue. When people eat meat, they are consuming carnosine. Vegetarians do not consume carnosine, and as a result may have less of this in their tissues. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15955546 and http://www.veganhealth.org/articles/carnosine We don’t fully understand the possible impacts of this, but carnosine has been found to be a powerful antioxidant that helps prevent AGEs, compounds that accelerate the aging of cells, contribute to inflammation, and more. http://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/030314p10.shtml

For this reason, it might be suitable for some vegetarians to supplement, probably in the form of the amino acid beta-alanine. But that depends on the individual, so I won’t recommend that to all in the form of a 400 word article to general public.

A vegan diet does not contain B12 that can be absorbed by our bodies, so supplementation is important for vegans. Vegetarians and vegans can certainly obtain the other nutrients I listed (zinc, protein, omega 3s, calcium, and iron) from their foods, but they need to be more conscious of healthy eating, not just assume that not eating meat is necessarily always healthy. Some vegetarians do not eat enough vegetables, are may be better names pastatarians or breadatarians. It is not as simple as being meatless. Of course many people who do eat meat make unhealthy choices as well.

I agree that we are not carnivores. We have the teeth of an omnivore (eating meat and vegetable matter, both). This is not my opinion. Our gut microbiome (bacteria) also indicate that we are most like omnivorous primates. http://www.sciencemag.org/content/320/5883/1647.short

However, some of us choose to avoid eating animal tissue. I know many vegetarians and vegans and support their food choices. The same for my patients. I make sure that if I suggest any course of treatment or supplementation to any of my patients, that they understand what they are for. Each of us are ultimately responsible for our own health and well-being.

I do appreciate your passion for protecting animals by not eating them. We are all on our own journey.

I hope that clarifies my article a bit more for you.

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