Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine - The official website of the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine. CCNM is one of only two accredited naturopathic medical collages in Canada.
Ontario Association of Naturopathic Doctors - The OAND is the professional association for NDs in Ontario.
Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors - The CAND is the national organization representing naturopathic doctors in Canada. The site provides information about naturopathic medicine and its progress across the country.
When walking through the aisles of the grocery store it can be confusing to try and understand all of the labels and terms you are bombarded with: organic, certified organic, natural – what do they all mean and who, if anyone, is regulating them?
Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) have joint responsibility for federal labelling of food policies in Canada under the Food and Drugs Act. Although there are policies and regulations in place, they aren’t always clear cut and can easily lead to confusion.
Since few of us have time to research every label, below are brief descriptions of some of the common terms you might come across at the grocery store.
The term organic seems to be the current buzzword appearing on everything from apples to cake mix – but what does it really mean? Organic products are thought to be grown without synthetic herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers or genetically modified organisms. Sounds good, right? Not necessarily. The products should meet a set of rules overseen by the Canadian General Standards Board but unfortunately in all provinces except Quebec these standards are voluntary. This means that any company can label their product organic as long as they follow their own organic guidelines. The good news is that on June 30, 2009, the Organic Products Regulations will introduce stricter guidelines so that the term organic will mean that the item is certified organic. If not, the organic label cannot be used.
Certified organic seems to be one of the most confusing terms to understand. Certification should include inspections of farms and processing facilities, and periodic testing of soil and water to ensure that growers and handlers are meeting the standards set out by the regulating bodies. To use this term in Canada, a product must be certified, but the tricky part is you don’t really know by whom. The guidelines are currently in the process of being completed for June 2009, at which point the Organic Product Regulations will require mandatory certification from the National Organic Standard meaning that all certified organic products will be certified by the same body. For more information, visit the Canadian Food Inspection Agency website.
Free-range refers to a manner of keeping livestock and domestic poultry where the animals have some access to open outdoor spaces. Advocates contend that food and food products from this category taste better and are higher in nutrients. The term has not been legally defined or regulated.
Cage-free is exactly what it sounds like, but it does not necessarily mean comfort for the animals. For example, cage-free hens could be packed together in a crowded indoor space, barely able to move around. This term has also not been legally defined and is not regulated.
Grass-fed farming involves raising livestock on open areas so that the animals are free to roam. This does not involve cages or confinement for the animals and their diet typically consists of natural grasses, legumes and plants. The animals are said to be free of steroids, hormones, antibiotics, pesticides and animal by-products. The guidelines and regulations for this term are extremely vague.
Natural, Natural Food or All-Natural
These are terms that are often misused and confused with organic. Natural foods are said to contain no additives or preservatives but ingredients may have been grown using conventional farming methods or genetically modified organisms. Natural is one of the haziest terms as these products are not regulated and the label comes with no guarantee of inspection. Because the term lacks standards, the only way to be sure to know what is in your product is to know the farm and/or farmer or to research the company that has produced the product.
The term locally grown can mean different things depending on who is making the claim. For example, Whole Foods, the biggest retailer of natural and organic foods, defines local to be anything produced within seven hours of one of its stores. Remember too that buying locally does not necessarily mean pesticide-free, so your best bet is to get to know the farmers in your area so you know exactly what you are buying.
Product of Canada
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency states that a food product may claim it is a Product of Canada when virtually all major ingredients, processing, and labour used to make the food are made in Canada. Products of Canada can have up to two per cent of their composition from product outside of Canada, including spices, food additives, vitamins, minerals, and flavouring preparations. For example: a cake that is manufactured in Canada from flour, butter, and milk from Canada, and vanilla may use the Product of Canada claim, even if the vitamins in the flour and the vanilla are not from Canada.
Made in Canada with a Qualifying Statement
A qualified Made in Canada claim, according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, could be applied to a label or advertisement when the last addition to the production of the food occurred in Canada, even if some ingredients are sourced from other countries. When a food product contains ingredients sourced from outside of Canada, the label would have to state “Made in Canada from imported ingredients.” If food contains both domestic and imported ingredients, the label would then have to state “Made in Canada from domestic and imported ingredients.”
Taking the time to understand the labels on your products helps you avoid or reduce your exposure to harmful chemicals, pesticides, hormones and antibiotics. Your best bet though, is to purchase products from the farmers/farms and companies you know and trust.
Lemon water is the perfect way to start your day. Lemon water aids in the digestive system and makes the process of eliminating waste products from the body easier.
If you are in good health and weigh less than 150 pounds, squeeze the juice of one half a lemon (one ounce) into a glass of purified water and drink this mixture twice a day (one whole lemon a day.) If you weigh over 150 pounds, squeeze the juice out of an entire lemon (two ounces) into a glass of purified water and drink this mixture twice a day (two whole lemons a day.) The lemon juice can be diluted more according to taste.
To help your body get the energy from the food you are eating, drink lemon water regularly. Next to drinking plain purified water, drinking lemon water daily is the most important thing you can do for your health.
By Dr. Selene Wilkinson, ND
Weight loss is something that a lot of people struggle with, but the good news is they don’t have to. For many people there are multiple obstacles to losing the desired amount of weight far beyond the standard of eating less and exercising more. Some of these items include a diet that is not individualized and appropriate for them, a hormone imbalance leading to weight gain, nutrient deficiencies causing uncontrollable cravings and/or a body overloaded with toxins creating them to have a slower metabolism. I see patients daily that fall into one or all of these categories, Debbie was one of them.
Debbie is a 44 year old mother of 3 who works full time and was going through a very stressful divorce. She came to see me as she had struggled with her weight all of her life. She had been on every diet from A to Z starting with Atkins, and moving on to Bernstein’s and so on. Most diets failed and the diets that did work, only kept the weight off for a short period of time.
When she came to see me she was in a very depressed and frustrated state, as not only was she eating an extremely unhealthy diet, she had lost all of her self confidence because of her weight gain and the divorce that she was going through. During her initial visit I learned about when and what she ate, the uncontrollable cravings she had, as well as what her emotional and psychological triggers to eat more food were. This helped me grasp a full picture of Debbie and understand her relationship with food. Luckily she did exercise 4 times weekly, but this only added to her frustration as she was not seeing the results she was looking to achieve.
I had a variety of hormone, nutrient and toxin levels tested in her blood as I was investigating if there were any hormone imbalances, nutrient deficiencies or a toxic overload in her body. I also tested what foods Debbie was sensitive to. Debbie did not know her blood type so we had this tested as well. I performed a physical exam to provide additional information regarding Debbie’s case and took her measurements (weight, hip and waist circumference) to have baseline numbers to monitor her progress.
After receiving her blood work results it was clear that some of her hormones, including her thyroid was working at a slower rate than should be for optimum weight loss. It was also clear that her stress hormone cortisol was extremely high, also making it very difficult to lose weight, especially around her midsection. I suggested a few choice herbs and supplements to treat and balance these hormones. Her mercury levels came back slightly elevated, potentially from environmental exposure or the large quantities of seafood that she consumed. The food sensitivity test showed that she was sensitive to gluten, eggs, beans and almonds. I created a diet plan that increased her metabolic rate and removed all foods she was sensitive to, in addition to those foods high in mercury. Using Chinese Medicine and acupuncture I was able to decrease her stress levels and clear toxins from her organs so that they could function at their optimum. I had Debbie come in every 2 weeks to be measured and to make sure she was on track both physically and mentally.
In two months Debbie had reached her desired goal of losing 20lbs, and that was 10 months ago. We retested her blood, which came back normal. Debbie still comes in to see me for acute situations such as muscle pain from working out or the odd cold, but she is not the same overweight and depressed women that came into my office 10 months ago. She is confident and continues to keep her weight off and is living a full and happy life.
This is one of many patients that I see in my office who have struggled to lose weight their entire lives, but given the right direction and tools now understand how weight loss can be made easy, and it can be permanent.