Vitamin D and Sun Exposure: Shedding Some Light on The Issue

February 17, 2010

The media and healthcare professionals have highlighted the harms and consequences of exposure to sunlight, however, there are many important benefits to sun exposure as well, which are often overlooked.  Furthermore, sunscreen is often seen as the healthy choice for sun protection, but this also may have harmful consequences that rival those of sun overexposure that people are not aware of.

 

Sunshine is a vital ingredient for staying healthy and is your best source for essential vitamin D. Sunlight also provides you with numerous other health benefits such as fighting depression. In recent studies, vitamin D has been shown to even protect against several types of cancer.  Vitamin D is also important for proper absorption of calcium and in maintaining strong bones.

 

We hear a lot about skin cancer due to overexposure to the sun, but did you know that tens of thousands of North Americans die of cancer and other illnesses every year due to inadequate sun exposure and dire levels of vitamin D? In the U.S., the annual cost of treating illnesses due to the lack of sun exposure hovers around $56 billion – and only $6 billion is spent on treating illnesses due to overexposure to sunlight. Of course, it’s true that the sun can cause cancer when skin is exposed to excess amounts, so it’s important to avoid getting sunburned. But don’t avoid the sun altogether as it is still the best source of vitamin D and is better than taking it in tablets!

 

Most people are aware of the effects of Ultra Violet (UV) rays through painful sunburns, but the UV spectrum has many other effects, both beneficial and detrimental to our health. Darker-skinned people, however, will produce more of the natural skin-protecting substance called ‘eumelanin’, which may offer some protection from the negative effects of UVB and UVA. For starters, it’s important to be UV-knowledgeable; the sun emits ultraviolet radiation in UVA, UVB, and UVC rays and not all rays are created equal. The stratosphere filters out UVC rays, so they are of little concern. UVB rays are responsible for vitamin D production – something your body benefits from. On the downside, UVB rays are also responsible for sunburn and damage to the surface of the skin. These rays cause moles, skin aging and some types of skin cancer. UVB rays only make up a fraction of UV light. Looking at UVA in a “positive light”, these will not cause sunburn but rather a tan and they cause less cancer than UVB rays. UVA rays make up the majority of UV light. Unfortunately, the cancer that UVA rays do cause is the most dangerous – melanoma. It also contributes more to skin aging and DNA damage than UVB rays and often times is less effectively blocked by sunscreens.

 

Skin cancer represents the most commonly diagnosed malignancy, surpassing lung, breast, colorectal and prostate cancer. But despite what we have been led to believe, a reasonable amount of sun exposure reduces the risk of skin cancer because of the vitamin D stimulated by skin exposure to sunlight.

 

Another point to take into consideration is that skin cancers have been linked to a large disproportion in the ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3. Our North American diets are often much higher in Omega-6 and may place us at a greater risk of developing skin cancer. Increasing your intake of Omega-3 is therefore very important to rebalance your Omega-6 to Omega- 3 ratio.

 

For more information about vitamin D, Omega-3 and Omega-6, as well as more tips for living at your best, check out Dr. Nathalie’s book Wellness On The Go at www.drnathaliebeauchamp.ca.

 

 

 

 

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Setting goals and shaping your future…with Dr. Nathalie

January 3, 2010

“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Unknown

I often start my Wellness On The Go™ workshops with information about the importance of setting goals.  By a show of hands, I ask the audience to demonstrate how many of them have goals, and whether or not these goals have been documented. Throughout the course of my workshops I have come to recognize that very few individuals actually make up goals for themselves, which quite frankly shocks me. On average, two or three of these individuals will admit to having goals out of the fifty individuals in attendance, and typically only one of these people will actually have their goals written down.  I then ask the group what would happen if I got into my car after the presentation, not knowing my next destination. Where would I end up? Most people laugh and answer “nowhere!”—which is my point exactly. It seems like a silly question to ask, but if we don’t know where we want to go with our lives, where are we going to end up? We spend more time planning our vacations than we do planning our lives.  Why is that?  A goal is nothing but a dream with a deadline. Creating a road map is necessary if we are to become successful individuals.

Ask Yourself…

  • Have I established goals for the next year, 5 years, 20 years?
  • Am I truly living the life that I want to live?
  • Have I made myself accountable for what I want in life?
  • Will my failed goals lead to unwanted consequences?

 

Our goals drive us, they allow us to shape our future, and provide us with the ability to grow and excel in each of our endeavors. That being said, it is important to remember that in order to achieve our goals we must first document them.  When we do write down our goals something amazing happens; we become creators, creators of our own paths. Remember, what the mind can imagine, it can create: Anything is possible. HOW we are going to achieve our goals at the time of setting them may not be clear, but if reasons come first answers will come second. If you have a big enough WHY, the HOW will manifest itself—you will find a way to make things happen!

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Albert Einstein

 

 

Ask Yourself…

  • Do I have goals that have been left unaccomplished for an extended period of time?
  • Am I truly making strives towards accomplishing my goals, or am I hindering my own efforts either consciously or unconsciously?
  • Am I willing to look at things differently, so that things can change?
  • Am I open to new ideas or strategies that may positively assist me in the achievement of my goals? Where can I get ideas? Who could help?

 

Each year on the first of January, I take the time to reflect upon my goals from the previous year. I like to evaluate what I have accomplished, and review everything that has manifested throughout the year. It always makes me smile, how things have unfolded for the goals which had a strong  enough WHY even if I did not really know at the time how I would get them accomplished…amazing how that works! To continue, now that I have reviewed my previous year’s goals, I am ready to set new goals and design a roadmap for the next year’s journey. My successes motivate me to create new goals for the coming year and open up my mind to all the future possibilities.

My Goals, Categorized

 

 

  1. Personal development and relationships– What skills do I want to develop? What do I want to learn? What relationships do I want to create?
  2. Career– What do I want to accomplish? What kind of impact do I want to have?
  3. Fitness, nutrition and food for the soul– What level of physical fitness do I want to maintain or achieve? What can I do to improve my eating habits? What practices can I partake in that will cultivate my spirituality? 
  4. Material things and time savers– Have fun with this one – have I been dreaming about purchasing a new car or installing the latest home entertainment system? Or do I want to hire help for household duties, so that I can have more time with my family and friends? 
  5. Economic– What income level do I want to achieve? Are there investments that I would like to make within the next year?
  6. Legacy– What do I want to leave behind?  What do I want to be remembered for?

 

7 Steps Goal Setting Strategies

 

  1. Brainstorm each of the categories for 5 minutes, don’t think too hard and allow your thoughts to come naturally.
  2. Next, establish a timeline for each of your goals, whether it be a year, 5 years, 10 years or 20 years.
  3. Decide upon a few goals (three or four from each category) that you wish to focus the majority of your attention on.
  4. Now determine the WHY of each of your top three or four goals.
  5. Decide if the WHY of each of your top three or four goals is “strong” enough—does it empower you enough? If not, pick another goal from that category which does get you motivated and excited.
  6. After that, put your goals through the “SMART” system.

 

 S – Specific – Is your goal too vague? Specifics help us to focus our efforts and clearly define what we are going to do. Answered by what, why, and how.

M – Measurable – How will you know when you have succeeded? Establish concrete criteria for measuring progress toward the attainment of each goal you set. If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.

A – AttainableA goal needs to stretch you slightly so you feel you can do it and it will need a real commitment from you. 

R – Realistic – To be realistic, a goal must represent an objective toward which you are both willing and able to work. Your goal is probably realistic if you truly believe that it can be accomplished.   Set the bar high enough for a satisfying achievement!

T – Time-bound – Do you have a timeline? Putting an end point on your goal gives you a clear target to work towards.

  1. Finally, beside each goal – write one action step you can take this week to get you closer to your goal. (i.e.- If you want to start doing Yoga – Your action step would be to contact the Yoga school you wish to attend, and ask about their classes and schedule.)
  2. Make sure to place your goals in an area of your home, or office, which is frequently visited. The probability of accomplishing your goal(s) is increased when your ambitions are reviewed on a day to day basis.  (Stay tune for my article on vision boards and how you can create a powerful visual tool for your goals).

 

Finally, have fun with your goal setting – you can do this goal setting session with your partner/spouse or a close friend. Personally, I refer to my goal setting sessions as a shopping list, a shopping list to the universe!  Remember to THINK and PLAY BIG—the more successful and fulfilled you are, the more you will contribute to the people around you and ultimately, to the world. Furthermore, embrace the fact that what we can think about, we can create—leverage the power of your sub-concient to plant the “right” seeds in your brain and watch what can happen!

To living with passion, purpose and a plan!

Dr. Nathalie


Not sleeping well? Tips and Strategies for better sleep!

November 12, 2009

The Importance of a Good Night’s Sleep


Do you have trouble sleeping? You’re not alone. An estimated 3.3 million Canadians aged 15 and older, or about one in every seven people, have problems getting to sleep or staying asleep – contributing to insomnia.   Part of the problem is 80 percent of North Americans say they believe it’s not possible to sleep enough and be successful at their jobs. As a result, 75 percent experience daytime sleepiness and 34 percent say sleepiness interferes with their daytime activities – that’s certainly no way to live.

 

Sleep is important for a multitude of reasons but mainly to rebuild, repair and recharge your body. When you’re asleep, your immune system is most active and repairs what it needs to while your brain re-organizes your cerebral ‘files’. Without sleep, you get sick in both mind and body.  

Symptoms of Sleep Deficit

• Daytime fatigue

• Poor memory, mental performance

• Irritability

• Depression, apathy

• Heart Disease

• Morning headache, wake-up feeling un-refreshed 

• Heartburn

• Need to urinate in the middle of the night

• Loud snoring

• Diminished sex drive

• Decreased exercise tolerance

• More than five pounds of weight gain in the past year

• Need for stimulants

 

Why Does Your Body Need Sleep?

 

Sleep Regulates Hormones and Prevents Cancer

Lack of sleep affects hormone levels. A disrupted circadian rhythm (sleep/wake cycle) may create shifts in hormones like melatonin. Melatonin is made in the brain by converting tryptophan into serotonin and then into melatonin, which is released at night by the pineal gland in the brain to induce and maintain sleep. Melatonin is also an antioxidant that helps suppress harmful free radicals in the body and slows the production of estrogens, which may activate cancer.

 A link between cancer and the disrupted circadian rhythm lies with a hormone called cortisol, which normally reaches peak levels at dawn then declines throughout the day. When you don’t sleep enough, your cortisol levels don’t peak as they should. Cortisol is one of many hormones that help regulate immune system activity, including natural-killer cells that help the body battle cancer.

 Heart Attack and Stroke

Lack of sleep has been associated with high blood pressure and high cholesterol, both potential risk factors for heart disease and stroke. Your heart will be healthier if you get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night.

 Stress

When your body is sleep-deficient, it goes into a state of stress – creating an increase in blood pressure and production of stress hormones. The stress hormones unfortunately make it even harder for you to sleep. Since reducing stress will allow your body to get a more restful sleep, learn relaxation techniques that will help counter the effects of stress.

 Energy level

A good night’s sleep makes you energized and alert the next day. Being engaged and active not only feels great, it increases your chances for another good night’s sleep. When you wake up feeling refreshed, and you use that energy to get out into the daylight, be active and engaged in your world, you sleep better that night.

 Memory

Researchers don’t fully understand why we sleep and dream but a process called ‘memory consolidation’ occurs while we sleep. While your body may be resting, your brain is busy processing your day and making connections between events, sensory input, feelings and memories. Getting a good night’s sleep will help you remember and process things better.

 Weight

Researchers have found that people who sleep less than seven hours per night are more likely to be overweight or obese. It’s believed that the lack of sleep impacts the balance of hormones in the body that affect appetite. The hormones ghrelin and leptin, important for the regulation of appetite, have been found to be disrupted by lack of sleep.

 

 Ways to Maximize Your Sleep

  • Listen to white noise or relaxing music
  • Avoid before-bed snacks
  • Avoid grains and sugar.
  • Keep a schedule
  • Create a bedtime routine
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Exercise daily
  • Make your bedroom dark
  • Get some sunshine
  • Avoid caffeine after noon

 For more tips on maximizing your sleep, and other tips and tricks for living at your best, check out Nathalie’s book Wellness On The Go at http://www.drnathaliebeauchamp.ca.

 

 


Green Wellness Expo – Ottawa founders on Rogers TV

August 24, 2009

Rogers GWE 0001

Deborah MacDonald and Dr. Nathalie Beauchamp on Rogers Daytime Ottawa talking about the 3rd annual Green Wellness Expo.


Core strenght – improve your core with these 4 fast exercises

August 3, 2009

Here are four core exercises you can do that will take you five minutes and will work on activating your core muscles.

1)   The Front Plank

2)   The Side Plank

3)   The “Superperson”

4)   A to Z – it’s that easy!

The Front Plank

Beginners: kneel on the floor and lean forward on your forearms keeping your spine straight. Intermediates: follow the same position but on your toes as in a push-up position. Advanced: try intermediate position while stabilizing your forearms on an exercise ball making you work harder to stay steady or you can stay on the floor and rock side to side on your forearms. Hold the position until you can’t hold it any longer – for example when your arms or legs begin to shake. Repeat three times.  

The Side Plank

Beginners: lie down on your left side, and lift your hips and thighs off the ground by holding yourself up on your left forearm (knees are on the floor). Intermediates: take the same position but make sure you keep your knees off the floor and put your weight on your left forearm and feet. Advanced: try holding a light dumbbell and moving it around to offset the center of gravity, making you work harder. Hold as long as you can and repeat three times on each side. Take a 30 to 60 second break between repetitions.  

The “Superperson”

Beginners: get down on your hands and knees (like the yoga ‘table position’). Lift your right arm and left leg up: hold. Make sure that your hips don’t drop. Stay level from left to right with a straight back. Intermediates: use the same position on an exercise ball to increase the level of difficulty. Advanced: use the ball as intermediates, but add hand-weights and move your arm side to side while in the position to alter your center of gravity even more. Alternate sides and do 12 reps each side.  

A to Z – It’s That Easy!

Beginners: sit on an exercise ball with your core muscles fully engaged and simply “write” the alphabet from A to Z with your hips moving back and forth and side to side. Intermediates: you can increase the challenge by holding small dumbbells in front of you while “writing” the alphabet with your hips. Advanced: as intermediates, move the dumbbells from side to side while doing your A to Z. This is also a great exercise for coordination.


Fats – are you taking enough of the good ones?

July 3, 2009

Macro-nutrients – Fat

Have you noticed that we are, as a population, eating less fat but are fatter than ever? How is that!? We need certain fats for our bodies to function properly. Fats are needed to help form cell membranes, carry fat-soluble vitamins, build tissue, produce hormones, protect vital organs, provide thermal insulation, transmit nerve impulses and, of course, provide fuel. Fats that are not produced by the body are called essential fatty acids (EFAs) and it means that they need to be acquired through diet (see chapter #12 – “The Power Of Omega-3”). But contrary to popular belief, we also need saturated fats. They form an important part of our body’s cell membranes and eating mostly poly-unsaturated fats can have a detrimental effect on the chemistry of those cellular membranes. Read on…

The concept that fats are equally bad for you is outdated information. In their book, Eat Fat, Lose Fat, Dr. Mary Enig and Sally Fallon debunk certain facts about fat! Fat may not be the bad guy everyone paints it to be. Research is changing the way we look at fat. Fats that were once labelled “bad” may have some major health benefits after all. Supposedly “good” fats may not be as great as we once thought!

Types of Fat

Saturated fats

• Saturated fats are found mostly in meat and dairy products. They are also found in tropical oils like coconut and palm;

• Saturated fats are structured with their carbon bonds all occupied by hydrogen atoms making them highly stable;

• They are solid or semi-solid at room temperature;

• They are least likely to go rancid when heated and less likely to form dangerous free radicals.

Mono-unsaturated fats

• Mono-unsaturated fats are found in olives and olive oil, peanut oil, almond oil and canola oil*;

• Because of their chemical structures, they tend to be liquid at room temperature but become solid when refrigerated;

• They are relatively stable and do not go rancid easily with heat.

Poly-unsaturated fats

• Poly-unsaturated fat is found mostly in plant sources: safflower oil, sunflower oil, soy bean oil, corn oil, sesame oil, seeds and most nuts;

• Because of their chemical structures, they remain liquid at room temperature and when refrigerated;

• Omega-3 and Omega-6 are types of poly-unsaturated fats;

• Poly-unsaturated fats become highly reactive when subjected to heat and oxygen, leading to unwanted free radical formation.

Trans-fats

• They are produced by bombarding poly-unsaturated oils with hydrogen (hydrogenation) making them “resemble” saturated fats which makes them solid at room temperature and increases their shelf life;

• They are less expensive for the food industry to produce using cheap soy, canola or corn oil instead of the more expensive saturated fat sources;

• Trans-fats can be found in hardened margarines and shortenings, salad dressings, mayonnaise, cakes, cookies, crackers, fried foods and fast foods.

Best choices for cooking are saturated fats (coconut oil and palm oil) and fair choices are mono-unsaturated fats. Poly-unsaturated fats should never be used for cooking, as they are highly unstable when heated and lead to unwanted free radical formation.

 Coconut Oil “Healthy” Facts:

• Coconut oil is 91.9 percent saturated fat – very stable for cooking;

• It’s a high source of Lauric acid which has an effect on the immune system with antimicrobial properties;

• Coconut oil has been shown to increase thyroid activity because of its metabolic effect;

• The body can use coconut oil for energy, efficiently and quickly. Coconut fats are called medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs) and which normally don’t get stored as fat. They are very helpful for weight loss;

• Most commercial coconut oils are not recommended because they are refined, bleached, and deodorized (RBD). Choose virgin coconut oil produced using low-tech and traditional processes.

There are some controversies among experts about the different types of fat. We have long been told that mono-unsaturated fats are the “best” fats, poly-unsaturated fats are the “acceptable” fats and saturated fats should be limited while trans-fats should be completely avoided. The authors of the book, Eat Fat, Lose Fat, are shedding a different light on fats and state that it is the free radicals from the extraction, processing and cooking of the poly-unsaturated fats, not the saturated fats themselves that can potentially initiate cancer and heart disease. This statement should change the way we consume fat. It is cutting edge information that, I believe, will soon become main-stream!


Proteins – are you eating enough?

June 28, 2009

Nutrients

Nutrients can be divided into two major groups:

1)  Macronutrients – protein, carbohydrates and fat – which will be discussed in this chapter.

2)  Micronutrients – vitamins, minerals and water – which will be discussed in other chapters.

Macronutrients – Protein

“I don’t work out so I don’t need a lot of protein!” If only I had a dime for every time I’ve heard my female patients say that! Proteins are an integral part of good nutrition and are absolutely essential, whether or not you are working out. We need protein in our diets to grow, maintain and repair every part of our bodies such as muscles, tendons, ligaments, skin, hair and nails.

Protein also plays a vital role in the formation of:

• Antibodies – needed for proper immune function

• Enzymes –  required for the chemical processes of the body such as digestion

• Blood – red blood cells contain a protein called ‘hemoglobin’ that carries oxygen in the body

• Hormones – such as insulin, which regulates sugar and fat metabolism

Protein also provides the body with energy when we have lowered our intake of carbohydrates and fats, such as when we follow a low-calorie diet or do extreme physical activity.

Sources of Protein

Proteins are made up of 20 or so different amino acids. Eight of them are essential (the body can’t make them on its own) and are required in our diet. Non-essential amino acids can be produced by our bodies from other amino-acids.

High quality protein: Protein that contains all essential amino acids in amounts that our bodies can use to build our own proteins such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and a good quality whey protein powder.

Lower quality protein: Protein that is missing one or more essential amino acid or has unbalanced amounts of amino acids such as legumes (beans, peas and lentils), nuts, seeds and grains (breads, pastas and cereals).

The World Health Organization and many national health agencies have independently conducted studies concluding that our daily protein requirement should be between 10 percent and 15 percent of our daily caloric intake. There is still much controversy over this and the percentages will vary from one source to another. In my opinion, protein percentages should take your Metabolic Typing® into consideration as well as your level of activity.

Daily protein considerations – basic guidelines by different levels of activity

 

Activity level

Protein per pound
of body weight

Average adult 0.4 gram
Exerciser/active 0.5 to .75 gram
Athlete 0.6 to 0.9 gram
Bodybuilder 1.0 to 1.5 grams

 

If you don’t have a food scale at home or if you are eating out in a restaurant, here is an easy way to “estimate” your protein content. One serving of protein, be it chicken, beef, fish or seafood, should be about the size of the palm of your hand – it will give you approximately 25 grams of protein.

Approximate Protein Content of Common Foods

• Egg (1 medium) -6 g

• Peanut butter , chunky (2TBSP) -8 g

• Chick-peas, cooked (1/2 cup) – 8 g

• Milk (8 oz.) – 10 g

• Yogurt, low fat, plain (8 oz.) – 12 g

• Almonds (1/2 cup) -15 g

• Tuna, fresh, cooked (3 oz.) – 23 g

• Ground Beef, lean, cooked (3 oz.) -24 g

• Chicken, boneless, cooked (3 oz.) – 27 g

Try to get proteins and dairy from organic sources – grass-fed animals as opposed to grain-fed animals.

In my experience, female patients usually do not eat enough protein. These patients are having a hard time losing weight and are often frustrated. After reviewing their diet or looking at their Metabolic Type®, I often suggest an increase in their protein intake and a decrease in their carbohydrate intake. They often see great results! So instead of packing those low-fat carbohydrate snacks in our lunch bag, let’s think about ways to load up on protein snacks instead. It might be difficult for vegetarians to increase their protein because they don’t eat meat or for busy people with no time to cook. A quality whey protein powder can help give people the protein boost they need.

Don’t be too tempted by protein bars as a quick alternative to other proteins because most bars also contain high levels of unwanted additives. Keep in mind that we can’t live on protein bars alone. They should only be a last resort when fresh, wholesome foods are unavailable. Keep some in your bag for those times when you need something quick and handy (e.g., stuck in traffic or in a waiting room).