10 Reasons Why Getting Outdoors is Good for Your Health


As humans we are drawn to nature. That plant in your office or home is you trying to bring nature in-doors with you. Science is now catching up and finding out why we love being out in nature so much.  Here are just a few of the top reasons to make getting outside part of your regular routine:

1.  A quick memory boost

Studies have compared walking among trees to walking down a city street using a memory test and found that those who walked among the trees did 20% better on the same test than they did before. Even in those who suffer with depression, walking in nature versus an urban setting had a better working memory.

2.  It helps your heart

Not only does being in nature feel good and warm your heart, it is quite literally good for it. In Japan there is shinrin-yoku, also known’s as Japanese forest immersion or forest bathing.  Research on this practice, where people will just sit in the forest and breathe in the sounds and experience, has shown that is lowers blood pressure, heart rate as well as decreasing stress hormones (which puts extra pressure on your ticker).

3.  Less stress

As we just talked about – being in nature reduces the production of stress hormones. Some studies have shown that students who spend 2 nights sleeping in the forest had lower levels of cortisol, that pesky stress hormone, than those in the city. Even a view of nature at work, such as office window overlooking a park, is shown to be associated with lower stress and more job satisfaction.

4.  Less inflammation

Inflammation has become the new catch phrase – it is the process our body goes through when we are in pain, are injured or sick. It is an important process but when it gets out of hand is when there is trouble and can lead to autoimmune conditions, increased pain and other health concerns. Studies have shown more time in the forest showed lower levels of inflammatory markers, even in the elderly, as well as a reduction in pain experienced.

5.  Improved Eyesight

We all know the dangers of too much screen time, so how do we combat that? You guessed it – go outdoors. A 2012 Review of data in children showed that increasing time outside was very beneficial in reducing risk of nearsightedness (myopia) in children. 

6.  Better concentration

Lots of people want to be improve their ability to focus and motivation for tasks. Getting outside is one quick way to do that! Even a view of nature can help boost attention. The effect is so strong it has even been shown to help kids diagnosed with ADHD focus more after spending only 20 minutes in a park.

7.  Better immune function

This is an area where more research is being done. So far studies in Japan have found that in areas that are more wooded have lower mortality rates from several cancers. Spending time in nature seems to boost proteins that help cells fight off infection and stay healthy, and the effects may last upwards of 7 days. 

8.  Better weight management

Studies have shown that for both adults and kids, spending time in nature lowers risk of obesity. Part of this is due to an increase in activity when we are outside, but also because of the decrease in cortisol which is associated with obesity. Other studies have shown that spending time in nature decreases blood sugar, which also helps to keep weight at a healthy level.

9.  A boost in energy

Being outside in nature helps bring you back from mental fatigue. The effect is so strong that even looking at pictures of nature can give you that boost. Part of it is the exposure to what is termed a restorative environment, but studies also have shown that it can be from the feeling of awe we get from the beauty of nature that gives us that perk.
And finally:

10.  Better mental health

As we know anxiety, depression and other mental health issues seem to be on the rise. Studies have repeatedly shown the benefit in getting outdoors in the benefits on mood and even self-esteem. This is from the decrease in stress we already talked about, and the effect is even stronger when coupled with exercise.  Walking in a forest – great way to bring down feelings of anxiety and a bad mood, and to make that effect even stronger add in a lake or river.
So there you have it, just 10 of the many ways being outdoors is great for your health.
Now put down the device, get outside and find out what other health improvements are waiting for you!


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Nine Burpee Variations to Test Your Strength


In any given crowd, you yell out "time to do some burpees" and I'm sure you will get a collective groan.. UNLESS... our dear own Monica is in the room. Monica, our athletic therapist, would likely have a gleeful grin on her face. And before the rooms stops groaning, she's being the keener asking, "How many do you want?"... "What kind of burpees can I do?"... "20? That's it? Slacker [muttered under her breath]". 

When asked, `Monica, why do you love burpees so much?", she quickly replies "what's not to love about them?". She does have a point - they engage the entire body and are a great way to increase your heart rate and full body strength. She's convinced that she can make a burpee lover out of you!

Yes folks, Monica LOOOVES burpees.  So much so, she's delighted to bring you NINE variations of torture.. er... I mean burpees. 

So here we go:

[for a demo of these variations, check out this link on Livestrong!]

1. Beginner Burpee

Squat down to a comfortable depth and place your hands on the ground in front of you.  Step or jump your feet back behind you so you are in the top portion of a push up (plank) position.  Be sure you do not allow your hips to drop or sag when in this position.  Drop to your knees (or remain on your toes) and perform one push up going down as far as you are able.  Step or jump your feet forward, so your feet are flat and you are in the bottom of a squat position.  Stand up.  You can end your burpee here or add in a squat jump.

2.  Mountain Climber Burpee

Squat down to a comfortable depth and place your hands on the ground in front of you.  Step or jump your feet back behind you so you are in a plank position.  Once you are stable in this position, perform a mountain climber by driving one knee at a time up towards your chest.  Be sure not to allow your hips to sag or sway.  Return to the starting position of the push up, complete the push up (on your knees or toes), return to standing and complete your burpee with a squat jump.

3.  Plank Jack Burpee

Squat down to a comfortable depth and place your hands on the ground in front of you.  Step or jump your feet back behind you so you are in the top portion of a push up position.  Once you are stable in this position, jump your feet open wide and then back to centre.  Complete your push up (on knees or toes), jump your feet forward and finish your burpee off with a squat jump.

4.  Single leg Burpee

Start by balancing you your right foot.  Squat down and place your hands on the ground in front of you. Jump your leg back so that you are in a 1-legged plank position.  Check that your core is tight and your hips are even.  Complete your push up on one leg or on knee.  Jump your foot forward towards your hands.  Jump straight up in the air pushing off your right leg.  Repeat on your left leg.

Jump Variations

5.  Tuck Jump

Do a full burpee.  Once you have done the push up, jump your feet forward so your feet are under your hips.  Now, jump straight up bringing your knees up towards your chest.  To accomplish this, you must jump explosively and be sure to tuck your knees towards your chest rather than leaning your chest forward towards your knees.

6.  180◦ Turn

Complete a full burpee through to the end of the push up.  Jump your feet forward back under your hips.  As you jump up, rotate 180 degrees so you are facing the opposite way when you land.  Be sure to land softly.  Continue as above and alternate the direction of your jump with each rep.


7.  Forward / Broad Jump

Complete a full burpee through to the end of the push up.  This time instead of jumping up in the air, you will jump forward as far as possible, landing softly with your hips back and knees bent.  Turn around, and proceed with your next rep.


8.  Using a BOSU or medicine ball

To begin this burpee you will stand with the BOSU or medicine ball on the floor in front of your feet.  When you squat down, you will put your hands on the BOSU / medicine ball.  Do your push up.  You will need to focus on tightening your core muscles since doing the push up on the ball will be more unstable.  Once your push up is done, jump or step your feet towards your hands.  As you come to a standing position, raise the medicine ball or BOSU (by its handles) overhead.  

9.  Combinations

This is where you get to go a little crazy with your newly beloved burpees.  Take any combination of the burpees mentioned (or others you come across) and put them together to create your own burpee combo.  For example, do the 1-legged burpee while using the medicine ball / BOSU.  If you are looking for a more explosive combo, try adding a 180 degree jump turn at the end of your forward / broad jump burpee.  
The possibilities are endless.  Be creative and have fun!
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Eight Symptoms of SIBO


Have you ever realized that a few hours after you’ve eaten, your stomach is so bloated that you can't button up your pants? Or perhaps you wake up with a flat belly and by the end of the day, your abdomen has expanded to resemble a pregnant belly? Have you had your food sensitivities tested but adhering to your customized elimination diet resolves only 50% of your symptoms?
Any amount of bloating is not normal; it can be a sign of intestinal inflammation. If you're having gas and/or bloating regularly, you may have an imbalance of bacteria, called Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO).


What is SIBO?

SIBO is a chronic bacterial infection of the small intestine. However, these bacteria are ones that we are meant to have in our digestive system, however they have overgrown in a location that is not meant for higher levels of bacteria to live.


Top 8 Signs that you may have SIBO:

Gas (both odorous and non-odorous)
Digestive or abdomen pain or cramping
Nutrient deficiencies (i.e. B12 or iron deficiency)
Difficulty digesting fatty foods
Diagnosis of chronic illnesses (i.e. Irritable Bowel Syndrome, fibromyalgia, autoimmune conditions)


How to Test for SIBO?

A three-hour lactulose breath test that measures hydrogen and methane gases is a very effective and non-invasive evaluation to detect SIBO. Breath samples are collected at 20 minute intervals after a specific 12-hour dietary preparation followed by a 12-hour fast. After the first baseline breath sample is collected, the patient will drink a lactulose solution and then continue to collect another nine samples. Lactulose is key as is a preferred fuel for the bacteria to feed off of.
So, essentially, you will starve the bacteria for 24-hours prior to the test, and then give it a feast the next day!
If there is an overgrowth of these bacteria present, these bacteria will consume the lactulose which results in the production of methane and hydrogen gases. These gases are then captured and measured from the breath samples taken.


How do you treat SIBO?

SIBO can be tricky to treat. The process to eliminate the bacteria can involve different types of antimicrobials. After this bacteria is eradicated, then it is key to not only prevent a subsequent infection, but also address the root causes of the overgrowth.
If you suspect that you may be dealing with SIBO, talk with your naturopathic doctor at Grassroots!
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Six Ways to Eat For Your Hormones


January is a time of new beginnings, fresh starts, renewed energy to focus on health and well-being…what better time to rebalance the ever-important endocrine system. Whether it’s re-gaining a menstrual cycle after years on the birth control pill, wrangling in hormones after labour and delivery, or transitioning gracefully through menopause, there are a ton of things we can do in our daily lives to harmonize our hormones.

1.  Liver-loving foods

The liver is foundational to healthy hormones; it converts nutrients from the food we eat into activated forms, stores vitamins + minerals, and produces proteins and enzymes to maintain hormone balances in our bodies.

2. Get smart with Fat

Healthy oils are the building block of our hormones. Gone are the days of our parents’ vendetta to avoid all-that-is-fat – so soak up some rich, delicious oils.

3. Ancient Grains and Complex carbohydrates

Choose the right Carbs! Avoid white carbs – they are depleted of their natural vitamins, minerals and fibers, and are usually higher on the glycemic index. Complex carbohydrates and lean proteins help stabilize our blood glucose and hormones.

4. Fibres for estrogen and hormone detox

Fibres help with the final removal of excess hormones that have been excreted from the liver – without them, we risk them being reabsorbed from the gastrointestinal track and into the body.

5.  Keep an eye on portion sizes

Fat-soluble toxins are stored in our fat cells, so maintaining a healthy body composition is important to hormone balance in the body.

6.  Spice it up!

Adding fresh, or dried spices and herbs can spice up the taste buds, and the body.
This is a good start for hormone harmony – but you may find that you will need to do more investigation into specific hormone levels, or ramping up treatment with acupuncture, botanical medicine or specific hormone support. Find a local naturopathic doctor to help you with the detective work!
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Three Healthy Ways to Refuel After Exercise

With the new year arriving and the holidays behind us, many of you are setting new exercise goals and starting to get your 2017 sweat on. Complement that snowshoeing adventure or kettlebell workout or barre class with healthy post-workout food choices. 

1. Re-hydrate!

Water can be your best friend during your workouts. First of all, ensure that you’re well-hydrated prior to your workout! If your workouts are less than 45-60 minutes long, aim to sip 7-10 ounces of water every 15 to 20 minutes. If your workout sessions are longer than an hour or are particularly intense, you may want to consider an electrolyte replacement. 
But before you reach for a neon shaded commercial drink, think again. Even if it’s organic.. (yes, Gatorade now has an organic version of its sugar-ladened drink. Sigh…) Try coconut water – it’s a natural source of sodium and potassium and has some much needed carbs for recovery.. sans the added sugar. Just be sure to get plain coconut water, rather than the sweetened or flavoured kind!

2. Refuel with the proper fuel

The post-workout foods you consume can play a big part in helping you reach your potential!  Keeping with whole foods as your post-workout meals will ensure that you’re not also taking in a boatload of refined sugars and sweeteners (… ahem.. be sure to tune in on January 30th for more about that!)
Here are some great suggestions: 
Whole food protein shakes
Miso soup with buckwheat soba noodles and veggies
Grilled chicken and sweet potatoes
Eggs and veggie scramble
Raw veggies and hummus
Coconut milk chia pudding with fruit (recipe alert!)

3. Don`t miss your optimal refueling window

The best time to have your post-workout snack or meal is within 20 minutes to 2 hours of your workout. When you exercise, your body uses a form of stored energy called glycogen. Refueling your body`s glycogen stores is not only key for recovery but also for preparation for your next workout! If you can’t have a proper meal until 3-4 hours after your workout, it’s suggested that you have a small snack with a 3:1 ratio of carbohydrate and protein within 15 to 20 minutes’ post-workout for optimal muscle repair and recovery. 
Alright – so now you’re set!
And remember, your post workout regime can be just as important as your workout itself!! 
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