The BPA Debate: Protect Yourself

“Science indicated that bisphenol A may be harmful to both human health and the environment and we were the first country to take action in the interest of Canadians.”

– Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq, 2008, after banning BPA in baby bottles.

“The current dietary exposure to BPA through food packaging is not expected to pose a health risk to the general population.”

–Health Canada Fall 2012, after refusing to ban BPA in food packaging.

BPA, or bisphenol A, is used to make hard plastic containers and the linings of food and drink cans. It is also found in CDs, eyeglasses, and even cash register receipts! BPA is detectable in the urine of 93% of Canadians over age 6, so we all have a significant body burden. As the debate about negative health effects of BPA rages on, how can we protect ourselves and future generations from harmful body accumulation?

Exposure to BPA may affect or interfere with:

  • Hormonal systems
  • Nervous system development and function
  • Behavioral development
  • Fertility, reproduction, and low sperm count
  • Cancer initiation and growth
  • Development of heart disease and diabetes

Newborns and young children accumulate higher levels of BPA per kg body weight, at or above the blood level where negative health effects are often observed.

It just makes sense to avoid BPA whenever possible!

Simple Steps to Minimize BPA Exposure

  1. Check the ID code on plastic bottles. Polycarbonate bottles are hard and clear and carry the recycling No. 7 on the bottom.
  2. Be careful with hard plastic containers. Don't microwave them or put them in a dishwasher, and discard them if they are chipped or scratched.
  3. Minimize consumption of canned food and drinks, which are lined with BPA. A Harvard study showed that eating a bowl of canned soup every day for 5 days raised urinary BPA levels tenfold!
  4. Don't handle thermal cash register receipts. Believe it or not, handing receipts and then touching your mouth is a significant way of ingesting BPA.


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The Benefits of Massage for the Body in Motion

By Susan Shipton, RMT

New Year, new you.  Are you recommitted to your health and fitness, to maintain a regular exercise program? Have you set yourself a new goal – take up running, cycle to work, conquer your first marathon, try a triathlon? However you challenge your body physically, massage therapy can offer very real physiological benefits that can help prevent injury and shorten your recovery time between work outs.

A recent study from McMaster University published in the February 1, 2012 issue of Science Translational Medicine helped explain two things people have long known anecdotally about massage, but not been able to prove – that massage eases sore muscles and improves healing after exercise. The study examined 11 active men who each exhausted their quadriceps, the muscles at the front of the thigh, with a hard work out for 70 minutes on a stationary bike.  Afterwards, each man had one thigh massaged for 10 minutes and the other thigh left untouched. The researchers then took biopsies, small tissue samples, from both thighs of every man immediately after the massage and again 2.5 hours later.

The biopsies from the massaged muscles showed two significant physiological differences to the unmassaged muscles. First, there were fewer inflammatory compounds in the quadriceps that underwent massage. Strenuous exercise damages muscle tissue, triggering the body’s inflammatory response, but the chemical properties of inflammation and the inherent swelling can produce pain in the tissue. So reducing inflammation can help lessen post-exercise muscle soreness.

Second, the biopsies of the massaged muscles showed increased presence of mitochondria, the power plant in cells that is involved in rebuilding damaged tissue. Mitochondria, then, not only help repair micro-tears in muscles brought on by exercise but also help build bigger and stronger muscles. This speeds your recovery time between exercise sessions and helps minimize the snowball effects of strenuous exercise, thereby reducing your chance of injury.

How often should you get massage to reap these benefits?

The effects of massage are cumulative so you will see greater return with regular massage, every 3-4 weeks. And massage works best as a preventive approach to looking after your body. So consider massage therapy a significant part of your exercise program, your holistic self-care, and keep your body in motion.

Susan Shipton, RMT is available for appointments every Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday. As a competitive runner and rower, and enthusiastic hiker and skier, she writes with experience from both sides of the massage table.


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Are you S.A.D.?

As the days get shorter and darkness comes early, many people find themselves aware of the effect of lack of bright sunlight on mood and energy.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (or S.A.D.) is thought to effect about ten percent of us living in our Northern Climate. Also known as "the winter blues", symptoms may include difficulty waking up in the mornings, oversleeping, overeating, low energy, and withdrawl from social activities.

If you suspect you are dealing with S.A.D., the good news is that bright light therapy is remarkably effective when done consistently through the winter months. Light therapy uses a light box which emits far more lumen than a customary incandesent lamp. As little as 20 minutes of exposure in the morning is effective in lifting mood and energy.

Here at the clinic we offer the Lite-Book Elite light box as an effective tool for treating S.A.D. For more information, call the clinic.

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If The Shoe Fits...

Stephen Galperin, D.Ch.

When it comes to athletic shoes, there seems to be as many different types of shoes available as there are people to fill them. Because everyone has different needs, it makes it difficult to give proper advice about who makes “the best shoe”. Instead, I would like to make suggestions how to buy the best shoe for you. Here are some important tips to follow when looking for running shoes.

Timing Is Everything:  The best time to try on shoes is in the late afternoon or evening. Your foot expands and swells during the day. On average, the foot enlarges a half to a full size from the morning to the afternoon. Never buy a pair of shoes that are too tight.

Comfort: Shoes should feel good on your feet. They should be light weight. There should be enough height to the shoe as to not cause pressure when laces are tied. People with a high instep should be especially aware of this.

Cushioning: This is very important. I recommend a ¾-inch cushion at the heel and good cushioning under the ball of the foot.

Length: The shoe should be long enough to give plenty of room for the toes. A good rule of thumb, is to use your thumb! Find your longest toe and measure one thumb width from the tip of that toe to the end of the shoe.

Width: Shoes should feel snug but not tight. Your foot should not bulge over the sides of the shoe.

Arch: Running shoes should have a good arch support. You should be able to feel the support by placing your hand inside the shoe. This will prevent the foot from collapsing during exercise.

Heel: The heel should be wider at the base than at the top of the shoe. This is called a flared heel.

Flexibility: The shoe should bend easily at the ball of the foot.  Flexibility will improve as you wear the shoes.

Sizing: Our feet get longer and wider as we grow older, because our ligaments begin to relax. Both feet should be measured for length and width yearly, while you are standing, as your feet will spread with body weight. It is not uncommon to have one foot longer than the other. Choose the shoe that fits the larger foot.

Materials: The best materials for shoes are leather and cotton because they allow our feet to breathe and have some inherent give for stretching.

Many people have special needs to consider, such as arthritis, knee problems, Achilles tendonitis, ankle instabilities, arch problems, corns, calluses and bunions.  In these cases it is best to seek the advice of a chiropodist. 

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Why Go Organic?

Is it really important to seek out organic foods?

Often people question the importance of sourcing and spending extra money on organics. They even wonder if organic food really is better for them and is it truly chemical-free?

What is organic food?

Organic foods are foods that are produced using methods that do not involve synthetic pesticides and chemical fertilizers, do not contain genetically modified organisms and are not processed using irradiation, industrial solvents or chemical food additives.

If you feel it’s overwhelming to go completely organic, here is an easy way to start. Just remember the “dirty dozen” and the “clean fifteen”.

The Dirty Dozen

The Clean 15

The environmental working group has studied pesticide residues in the most commonly eaten fruits and vegetables and the ones with the most toxic compounds present have been dubbed the dirty dozen.

The “Clean 15” have virtually no residual pesticide levels, and you can feel safe buying the commercial varieties.

  • Apples
  • Bell Peppers
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Cherries/Blueberries
  • Grapes
  • Kale/Spinach and Collards
  • Lettuce
  • Nectarines
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Strawberries
  • Asparagus
  • Avocado
  • Cabbage
  • Cantaloupe
  • Eggplant
  • Grapefruit
  • Kiwi
  • Mangos
  • Onions
  • Papayas
  • Pineapple
  • Sweet Corn
  • Sweet Peas
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Watermelon

If you want to make going organic manageable, take these lists with you to the grocery store and make the commitment to at least buy organic when it comes to the dirty dozen.

What else can you do to minimize your family’s exposure to toxic chemicals?

If you can’t find organic, use these methods to reduce your toxic exposure.

  • Use a vegetable peeler to remove skin from fruits and vegetables where possible for example: apples, pears, nectarines and potatoes
  • If the vegetable is not peelable ( bell peppers and celery) use an acid wash.

How to prepare an acid wash

Fill a large bowl with clean water and add a cup of distilled vinegar (about a 10:1 ratio of water to vinegar)

Let the produce rest in the wash for 15-20 minutes and then scrub each piece with scrub brush, allow to dry and store appropriately. For soft fruits likes grapes and cherries, soak in the acid wash for 60 minutes.

If you’re still not sold, watch this video on youtube: My Potato Project.

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PDF file Getting A Good Night's Sleep

PDF file Fats in the diet – What you should know to make healthier choices

PDF file Nutrition Tune-up – Nutrition for Active Women

PDF file How sweet it isn't – The scoop on sweeteners

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Healthy Tips

Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.

Imagine your great-grandmother (or grandmother depending on your age) at your side as you roll down the aisles of the supermarket. You’re standing together in front of the dairy case. She picks up a package of the Go-GURT Portable Yogurt tubes – and hasn’t a clue what this plastic cylinder of coloured and flavored gel could possibly be. Is it a food or is it toothpaste?

There are now thousands of foodish products in the supermarket that our ancestors simply wouldn’t recognize as food.

The reasons to avoid eating such complicated food products are many, and go beyond the various chemical additives and corn and soy derivatives they contain, or the plastics in which they are typically packaged, some of which are probably toxic.

Today foods are processed in ways specifically designed to get us to buy and eat more by pushing our evolutionary buttons – our inborn preferences for sweetness and fat and salt. These tastes are difficult to find in nature but cheap and easy for the food scientist to deploy, with the result that food processing induces us to consume much more of these rarities than is good for us. The great-grandma rule will help keep most of these items out of your cart.

Note: if your great-grandmother was a terrible cook or eater, you can substitute someone else’s grandmother – a Sicilian or French one works particularly well. *

Serve a proper portion and don’t go back for seconds.

You lose all control over portion size when you have second helpings. So what is a proper portion?

There is folklore offering some sensible rules of thumb based on your size. One adage says you should never eat a portion of animal protein bigger than your fist. Another says that you should eat no more food at a meal than would fit into the bowl formed by your hands when cupped together.

If you’re going to break the rule on seconds, wait at least several minutes before doing it: you may well discover you don’t need seconds, or if you do, not as much as you thought. *

Eat your colours.

The idea that a healthy plate of food will feature several different colours is a good example of an old wives’ tale about food that turns out to be good science too.

The colors of many vegetables reflect the different antioxidant phytochemicals they contain – anthocyanins, polyphenols, flavonoids, carotenoids. Many of these chemicals help protect against chronic diseases, but each in a slightly different way, so the best protection comes from a diet containing as many different phytochemicals as possible. *

 * Taken from the book “Food Rules: An Eaters Manual” by Michael Pollan

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