6.26.2008

Screening Brand Name Sunscreens


Those of you who know me will be familiar with my rather fair (aka 'pasty') complexion and likely not surprised by my potentially inordinant amount of sunscreen use. The best medicine is prevention, and for cancer prevention, skin health relies on minimizing exposure to harmful UVA and UVB rays. Searching out effective non-toxic sunscreen is important to me, but I've come to realize that I may be too trustworthy of common drug store/ health food store brands. I've recently come across a very informative website by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) that has gone to the trouble and scientific venture of testing the efficacy of retail sunscreens. They have complied their results along with a safety report on product ingredients. Sunscreen brands are ranked according to the combination of their effectiveness and ingredient safety. Their results show that "84 percent of 785 sunscreen products with an SPF rating of 15 or higher offer inadequate protection from the sun’s harmful rays, or contain ingredients with safety concerns" (EWG News Release). I was astonished to find that "ironically, some popular sunscreen chemicals break down when exposed to sunlight" (EWG News Release) . Eeeek!, how is that supposed to help? While soaking up the sun's natural mood enhancing benefits, and a little vitamin D (in those uncovered areas), I like to feel confident that I won't 'scorch' or expose myself to unnecessary chemicals. I don't feel this should be too much to ask. The EWG seems to understand this and has done good work to offer practical knowledge that sheds light onto those 'everyday' yet important decisions.

-un

Which Sunscreens are Safest? EWG News Release
Sunscreen Database

5.28.2008

Lights Out


'Lights out' is the best approach to a good night's sleep. Darkness stimulates the body's natural production of a hormone called 'melatonin' which is important for sleep promotion. Melatonin is produced by the pineal gland (a tiny pea-sized gland located in the center of the brain) and governs the sleep/ wake cycle. It is the absence of light at night that causes biochemical changes to take place in our bodies that lead to a significant increase in melatonin levels. It is in part, this elevation of melatonin that causes us to feel sleepy and enjoy a good nights' sleep. Granted, living in a city with glaring flourescent lights 24/7 can make it difficult to experience true darkness, but there are 'blackout' curtain and shade options available. Creating nighttime darkness is a worthwhile endeavour as science suggests the importance of melatonin extends beyond a good night's sleep, it is also believed to be protective against breast cancer and alzheimers disease, as well as an important factor in memory and cognitive function.

-un

Turning the lights out at night is not only good for us humans, but also the birds. www.toronto.ca/lightsout

5.20.2008

The Nose for Asparagus


The fresh new shoots of asparagus are helping to herald in Spring. Despite the unseasonably chilly weather we're experiencing, a trip to the market this weekend serves up the garden's first offering of Spring - asparagus. For some, a meal of asparagus is accompanied by a very specific urine 'odour'. Do you know what I'm talking about? If so.... don't worry , it's perfectly normal. You are amongst a subset of the population that has a 'nose' for it. A 'specific smell hypersensitivity' as science calls it. Yes, it's actually been studied and scientifically validated. It was originally speculated that a small subset of the population was responsible for the odorous urinary output, owing to a unique and genetically determined metabolic pathway. However, it is now realized that the characteristic urine smell following asparagus intake is 'in the nose of the beholder'. That in fact, everyone has stinky pee after they eat asparagus, but that only a smaller subset of the popultation can detect it.
(Read more here by clicking here)

-un

5.19.2008

You Are What You Blog

"You're a Naturo.... What?"
A Naturopath. A Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine. A Naturopathic Doctor. I am a health care provider that works with you to address your health concerns and helps you to achieve your health goals. Using natural treatment options that include clinical nutrition, supplementation, acupuncture, botanical medicine, physical medicine, diet & lifestyle counselling as well as homeopathy and bach flower remedies, I essentially, help you feel better - Whatever that means for you. There is a great deal Naturopathic Medicine can offer in the way of health assessment, treatment, and support, but there is not a single vitamin in the world that can act as substitute for conscious healthy living. It is the idealistic goal that we each must strive for on a daily basis with the individual choices that we make. I understand that it is not that easy when we are overwhelmed with infinite options for some things like caffineated beverages branded by the double-tailed siren, and yet left with too few options for things like effective chemical-free deoderants. But it's about making the best choices with the information we have. In a time when stress, too little time, and too much to do is part of what unites us... maybe we can help each other. This is my first posting for which I aim to be my shared experience in the quest for health-conscious balanced living in my crazy, busy city - home 'town' Toronto.

-un