Little People, Big Eaters

How do we get our kids to love food and be healthy eaters for life?

That’s one of my personal missions and part of raising healthy, happy & hearty kids.

I recently spoke at Food Revolution Barrie about kids and nutrition. Here is the presentation I did. I’d love to hear what your biggest health issues are when it comes to kids.


Talk soon,

Whitney

Are Low Iron Levels Sabotaging Your Thyroid Hormones?

Low iron thyroid

Iron Basics
Low iron is one of the most common things I see in women who walk through my door. It’s also one of the most common tests we run and we do this by looking at ferritin levels (a measure of iron stores in your body). The normal reference range for ferritin is anywhere from 10-291 ng/mL for women. Most often, if you’re not clinically anemic and your ferritin is within this range, you won’t be alerted to abnormal ferritin levels (even if they as low as 12, for example). However, recent studies show that women have improved energy and feel best with ferritin levels > 50, even if they’re not anemic.

Symptoms of Low Iron
Symptoms of low iron can include fatigue, low energy, hair loss, feeling cold, weak or brittle nails, palpitations or shortness of breath, brain fog and more. Many of these symptoms are also symptoms of low thyroid function or hypothyroidism. If you’ve been previously diagnosed with hypothyroidism and are still experiencing many of these symptoms, take the guess work out and have your ferritin levels checked.

Side note: If you experience heavy menstrual periods, are vegan/vegetarian, or have digestive disorders (such as celiac disease) that affect nutrient absorption, it’s also important to have your ferritin assessed on a regular basis.

The Iron-Thyroid Connection
Women are more likely to have low iron levels and we’re also more likely to have hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s Disease (Lucky us!). We don’t usually think of iron as being essential to thyroid function, but it is!

Our thyroid needs adequate iron levels to produce the active hormones T4 and T3. If our body is low in iron, the enzyme responsible for this can be reduced in activity up to 50%. Iron is also essential to another key enzyme, which converts T4 into T3. (T3 is our most active thyroid hormone). If you are already on medication for your thyroid (such as Synthroid) having adequate iron levels is still important for converting the medication into active, usable, thyroid hormone.

There’s more: a very common symptom of hypothyroidism is low stomach acid, which decreases our ability to break down foods and absorb nutrients. Thus, a very common symptom of hypothyroidism is (you guessed it) low iron levels!

Low iron –> hypothyroidism –> low iron –> vicious cycle

So What Should My Ferritin Be?
For optimal energy and thyroid function, ferritin levels should be at or above 80 ng/mL. Hair loss or thinning can occur at levels less than 40. Anything below 30 is what I call “scraping the bottom of the iron bucket”. If your ferritin is really low, your thyroid won’t be functioning properly no matter what other medications or supplements you are taking. Most women I test ferritin levels on are somewhere between 20-50, and many are in need of some sort of iron support or supplementation. If you’ve been on iron in the past and have experienced digestive upset, constipation, or nausea, there are better supplements out there that don’t have these unwanted side effects and are more effective in bringing up iron levels.

That said, we also don’t want too much iron, as this can be harmful to the body. So supplement wisely and make sure to re-test your levels on a regular basis.

The Recap: 

  • Many symptoms of iron deficiency and hypothyroidism overlap. What you thought were low thyroid symptoms (such as fatigue and hair loss) could in fact, be due to low iron!
  • Your thyroid requires adequate iron levels for TWO key enzymes that are vital to hormone production and activation.
  • If you have low thyroid function or hypothyroidism, have your ferritin levels assessed and get a copy of the results. Use 80 ng/mL as a guide to optimal levels, although different people feel best at different levels.
  • Ask your Naturopathic Doctor about testing your ferritin levels and if needed, the best iron supplements to increase your levels quickly without causing you digestive upset.

Want more info on the thyroid tests you need? Check out my last blog post here

Take care!

Dr. Katie

 

 

Ten salad recipes to try

Lettuce is so easy to grow, and it will produce all summer long.  It’s easy to get bored of salad if you don’t change it up.  Here are ten tasty salad recipes that we found to use it all up!

Spinach salad with almonds and cranberries (I would use honey to roast the almonds or buy them roasted already)

Green salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette (you could change the flavour by changing the cheese in this one too)

Curried Cashew, Pear, and Grape (all I can say is Oh My!! Party of flavours here)

Spinach salad (this is good with blueberries and balsamic dressing)

Steak salad (for the carnivores out there)

Berry Summer Salad (simple and delicious)

Spinach and grape salad (grapes, who would’ve thought)

Strawberry Fields (the presentation is amazing)

Grilled Peach and Avocado salad (who doesn’t love to grill)

Citrus Spinach Salad (what a great blend of flavours)

 

 

 

 

Getting kids to eat veggies

We have become quite removed from our food chain in today’s world.  Drive-thru windows, convenience foods, and ready-made meals make it easy to forget where our food comes from.

It’s also easy to forget what fresh food tastes like.  Fresh as is as nature intended.  Farmer’s markets are making a comeback as is the eating local movement.

 

Mommy has to get the strawberry stains out after a successful pick your own berries day :)

Mommy has to get the strawberry stains out after a successful pick your own berries day 🙂

 

We have taken the approach with our kids to immerse them in fresh food.  To connect them with what they eat.  Here are a few ways to engage your kids with food:

  • Plant some food.  Kids are more eager to try foods that they had a hand in growing.  Let them pick some seeds, plant them, and care for them.  You only need a small area of your yard, or use planters on your deck or porch.
  • Take them to the farm.  Sign up for a CSA and pick up your food weekly.  It’s a great way for them to see how a farm operates.
  • Go to the ‘pick your own’ farms.  Berries in early summer, pumpkins in the fall.  Help them understand that food grows from the ground not in the store.
  • Let them get dirty!  Watering the garden and picking weeds can be made to be fun.
  • Check out the farmers market.  Your kids can often try different foods right there and the farmer’s can tell them some cool stuff about what they are eating.

Salads all around!

Our little gardner

 

Yummy Vegan Alfredo Sauce

I found this easy and very quick pasta sauce that you can make in 5 minutes. It’s dairy and gluten-free so it’s great for the Elimination Diet. My whole family loves it! Here is a picture of last night’s dinner.

Vegan Alfredo Sauce

INGREDIENTS [YIELDS 12 OZ. SAUCE]

1 c. coconut milk [the canned kind]
1/2 c. nutritional yeast
1 medium clove of garlic
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. fresh ground black pepper

Mince the garlic and add all of the ingredients to a blender. Blend until the consistency is smooth and creamy – you know, like alfredo sauce. Pour it over any pasta you’d like and warm quickly with the rest of your hot pasta and other toppings.

This week, I added broccoli to my boiling pasta and cooked diced chicken at the very end. My pasta choice is a rice and quinoa pasta I found at Costco. I suppose the whole meal isn’t vegan but the sauce is so enjoy!

 

The link to the original source is here at The Fitchen.com

 

 

IVF – Your Diet Still Matters

More and more couples are having troubles getting pregnant and are turning to assisted reproductive technologies. These can include in vitro fertilization. Couples might think they don’t have to do much since the egg and the sperm will be joined together by the scientists. However, what these couples eat leading up to the IVF procedure can have an effect on the outcome.

In 2010, a study found that couples who ate a Mediterranean diet had more successful IVF procedures than those who ate a standard North American diet (SAD diet).

So what does a Mediterranean diet look like?

It is comprised mainly of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, fish and some olive oil. It usually includes a bit of red wine but for those of you trying to get pregnant you as a couple should both avoid alcohol.

Eat less red meats, sweets, and dairy. Cut back on breads and bread products where possible. See the pretty picture below.

We are here to help. Your diet is just one of the many ways to improve your health before undergoing IVF treatments. There are more supplements and nutrients with scientific research to support their use before getting pregnant. Book at free 15 minute consult to discuss working together.

Mediterranean Diet

  • Source – Vujkovic M et al, 2010)
  • Image source – tasteofthemed.com