Health and Wellness

11 Foods Banned in Other Countries that North Americans Should Stop Eating

Below are some of the most commonly used food ingredients and practices that are allowed in the United States, but banned elsewhere.

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Banned Ingredients #1 — Dough Conditioners

Dough conditioners, such as potassium bromate and azodicarbonamide are chemicals used to improve the strength and texture of bread dough.

Banned Ingredients #2 — Brominated Vegetable Oil (BVO)

Brominated vegetable oil (BVO) was originally patented by chemical companies as a flame retardant. But now, BVO can be found in certain colorful sports drinks and citrus-flavored sodas as an emulsifier.

Banned Ingredients #3 — Propylparaben

In the United States, propylparaben is used as a preservative in tortillas, muffins, trail mix, pies, sausage rolls, and more. Research has found that it can affect sex hormones and sperm counts in young rats.

Banned Ingredients #4 — BHA and BHT

BHA and BHT are popular man-made antioxidants used in dry mixes, cereals, and dehydrated potato products to preserve them and increase shelf life.

Banned Ingredients #5 — Synthetic Food Dyes

Food manufacturers use synthetic food dyes, such as blue 2, yellow 5, and red 40, to enhance the coloring of certain foods and ingredients to make them more appealing to consumers juices, sports drinks, and sodas, candy, mustard more yellow, salmon more pink.

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Banned Ingredients #6 — GMOs

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have been around since the 1980s. But they have become a controversial topic — and for good reason. While they’re widespread in the U.S. — with most U.S. soy, sugar beets, corn, canola, cotton, and alfalfa being GMO crops — many European countries have banned or regulated them due to public safety concerns.

Banned Ingredients #7 — Roxarsone

The arsenic-based drug roxarsone, was routinely used in chicken in the U.S. until July 2011, when Pfizer decided to stop selling it. Roxarsone was used to increase the pink coloring of raw chicken meat, to speed the growth of the birds before slaughter, and to prevent parasites in the chicken’s stomach.

Banned Ingredients #8 — Ractopamine

In the U.S., ractopamine is a muscle enhancer for pigs, cows, and turkeys. And, like other harmful substances used during the raising of animals, it doesn’t just go away when the animal is slaughtered. Some of it is still left in the meat you buy. Ractopamine is banned in 122 countries including Russia, mainland China, Taiwan, and many countries across Europe. This is because it’s been linked to reproductive and cardiovascular damage in humans, as well as chromosomal and behavioral changes.

Banned Ingredients #9 — Herbicides, Insecticides, Fungicides

Herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides are widely used on crops in the U.S. food system to keep them free of bugs and diseases. Meanwhile, other countries see (and act on) the danger they pose to humans. Of the 374 active ingredients authorized for agricultural use in the U.S. in 2016, the European Union banned 72 of them. Wow.

Banned Ingredients #10 — Olestra

Olestra, or Olean, is a cholesterol-free fat substitute created by Procter & Gamble. The FDA approved it for use in foods in the 1990s and it’s still used in certain potato chips and french fries. But Olestra may cause extremely unpleasant digestive reactions, like diarrhea and leaky bowels. Consuming a lot of it can also lead to deficiencies in fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, K, as well as carotenoids. Both Canada and the United Kingdom have banned the ingredient.

Banned Ingredients #11 — Synthetic Hormones

Synthetic hormones, such as rBGH and rBST, are widely used in the U.S. dairy industry. The primary reason for this is to increase milk production in dairy cows. However, rBGH increases IGF-1 levels in humans and may increase the risk of developing cancer. Additionally, cows treated with rBGH are more likely to develop mastitis, an udder infection, requiring treatment with antibiotics. Canada, the EU, and other countries have banned these compounds.

Minimalist Mindset

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Admit it, you’re fascinated by Marie Kondo. If nothing else, how can she sort through so much stuff and fold it so perfectly? Even if that lifestyle isn’t manageable for your family, embracing minimalist habits help us shape our lives to be peaceful and organized. Minimalism doesn’t have to mean living with the bare essentials. Take inventory of your life to see if there are ways you can simplify.

  • Start a packaging challenge- Take a set period of time, two weeks or one month, and see if you can reduce your weekly amount of garbage and recycling. Decluttering or purging can be daunting tasks, but simply reducing your consumption can have similar effects. Being thoughtful about what you bring into your house can encourage you to reassess your habits.

  • Don’t buy new until you use up the old- How many shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, shower gel containers do you have stuffed in a drawer waiting until you can pack them in a suitcase for another trip--- but you never do and instead just add to your collection? Or spice mixes you keep picking up for a quick dinner? Before you buy new, try to use up those containers and packages. You’ll thin out your cupboards and closets and save some money too!

  • Create don’t consume- We live in a consumer world: buy stuff, eat at restaurants, invest in (often expensive) experiences. While there is a time and place for all of it, removing the money from your free time means you have to make your own fun. You can go for a walk or hike, make a meal from scratch, play music or make art. You may be surprised at how fulfilling it is.

  • Reassess your furniture- Coco Chanel famously said, “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.” If your home feels cramped, do the same thing. By removing a few pieces, you’ll quickly free up floor space. Store them elsewhere for a couple of days and see if you miss them. If not, sell it online and appreciate the money and a more minimal home.

  • Realize this is a journey- Just because you can’t throw out half of your belongings in one day doesn’t make you less of a minimalist. Remember that the idea behind the mindset is to make time and space for the things that are important to you. Small changes over time add up to a big change. You may find your tea cup collection is valued, but twelve white t-shirts are not. It’s your journey and you get to write the story.

How to Keep Your Home Healthy

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As we all welcome the prime of summer with watermelon, beaches and BBQ’s, it also means bare feet in the house and windows left wide open. This allows germs and bacteria to come in and gallivant around your home. The best way to protect your home from germs, toxins and chemicals is to keep them out in the first place.

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1. Dust

Dust is the silent but dangerous toxin floating around your house. Dust can cause allergies and respiratory issues. House dust aggravates allergies and hay fever. The best way to prevent dust form building up is to vacuum every week, even if your house doesn’t look dusty. Make sure you clean the vacuum bag/filter every time and use a vacuum with a strong suction.

2. Pesticides

Yes, weeds are a huge pain in any gardeners behind but spraying toxic chemicals is not the answer to combating these pesky little guys. You can make a natural homemade spray by combining, 1 gallon of white vinegar, 1 cup of salt and 1 tablespoon of liquid dish soap. Spray this directly onto your grass and continue regular weeding and your garden will be blooming in no time!

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3. Use natural cleaning products

You could be bringing toxic chemicals into your home without even realizing it with some of the cleaning products you might be using. A simple and easy fix is to replace harsh chemical cleaners with natural cleaners. You can either make these cleaners at home or opt for natural cleaners from the grocery store.

4. Watch for mould build up

Mould is a household problem that can turn from something small to a huge health risk if it is not dealt with properly. Mould accumulates in damp and poorly ventilated buildings, typically in bathrooms or around kitchen sinks. Mould can be very damaging to your lungs and can cause inflamed airways, nasal congestion and wheezing.

The treatment of mould will depend on how severe it is. A few ways to prevent mould are to ensure your bathroom has effective ventilation, regularly clean your shower curtains and immediately attend to leaky pipes.

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5. House plants to the rescue

House plants are an excellent way to clean the air in your home, plus they look so darn cute! Spider plants, aloe vera and peace lilies are especially hard workers when it comes to air purification.

Refer a Friend Charitable Donation - Pathstone Mental Health

Wondering how you can help your community? If you can think of anyone in the area who might be interested in moving in the near future, please refer them to us. If they list or buy with us, upon the successful completion of their sale, we will make a $500 donation to the charity of your choice, providing you with the charitable tax receipt.

Click on the image above to watch the video or click here to view the video in YouTube window.

Recently, we made a donation to Pathstone Mental Health. This foundation’s mission is to strengthen the quality of life for children, youth and families who are dealing with mental health challenges. Pathstone Mental Health has been serving the Niagara Region since 1966 under the name Niagara Child Development Centre. In January 2011, Niagara Child and Youth Services changed its name to Pathstone Mental Health. “Pathstone” represents guidance along a pathway to improved mental health. The stepping stones in the logo represent strong, solid steps and important milestones in a person’s journey toward enhanced mental health. “Mental Health” was purposefully included in the name to reduce the stigma related to mental health.

Please visit their website ( to learn more about them or to make your own donation to their foundation.

8 Natural Bee Sting Treatments

Contribution By Jami Cooley, R.N.


Bee stings can be deadly if a person is allergic to the venom. If you or a family member is allergic to bee stings and gets stung, remove the stinger and seek emergency medical attention right away. Do not rely on a natural bee sting treatment alone. Use an EpiPen (epinephrine auto-injector) if you have one.

Any person who is stung by a bee, needs to be monitored for signs of anaphylaxis (life-threatening reaction). About 3 percent of people stung by bees quickly develop this condition. Signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis include:

  • Itching/redness

  • Hives/welts

  • Shortness of breath

  • Feelings of faintness or dizziness

If there is any concern that a person is developing anaphylaxis, call 911 right away. You can also take over-the-counter Benadryl, but this will not stop the anaphylaxis; it will only slow it. You must seek emergency medical attention immediately for bee allergy.

Non-Allergic Bee Sting Treatment Options

For a quick recovery from non-allergic bee stings, you have three things to do to begin the healing process:

Contact  Ashley  for your essential oil needs.

Contact Ashley for your essential oil needs.

1. Lavender essential oil. Add one or two drops of lavender essential oil to the wound. Lavender oil will help neutralize the venom immediately.

2. Ice. Apply ice for 20 minutes. Ice will numb the pain and slow blood flow to the area, which reduces swelling.

3. Honey. A degree of irony resides in this bee sting remedy since honey comes from bees, but honey is excellent for healing wounds. Apply a small dab of honey to the wound and cover with gauze or a small rag for 30 minutes to one hour. (If a person is allergic to bees or honey, do not use this remedy.)

4. Crushed garlic. Crush one or two garlic cloves to release the juices and press it against the wound. Cover with a moist rag or towel and let it sit for 20 to 30 minutes.


5. Plantain. This is not the fruit! Plantain (Plantago major, broad leaf and Plantago lanceolata, long leaf) is a common weed you’ll find around your home. It typically grows in places where the soil has been disturbed. It can also be found growing in the cracks of your sidewalks. Bee stings are never planned, so it may be a good idea to purchase the Plantago major plant from a local garden and keep it at your home. Although it is a weed, it has lovely purple foliage and leaves that look like small green roses. To use plantain as a bee sting treatment, you need to release the juices from the leaves. This can be done by using a food processor or putting the leaves in a plastic bag and crushing them with a spoon. You can even chew it slightly to release the juices. Once you obtain the juice, press the juicy leaves against the sting and cover with a moist rag or towel for 30 minutes.

6. Baking soda and vinegar. Make a paste using baking soda, a dab of vinegar and water and apply it to the wound for 30 minutes. Baking soda and vinegar helps neutralize the acid found in bee stings.

7. Toothpaste. Like baking soda, toothpaste is a base that will help neutralize the acidic bee sting, thereby reducing pain and swelling. Apply the toothpaste to the wound for 20 to 30 minutes.

8. Meat tenderizer. Make a paste using meat tenderizer and water and apply it to the wound for 20 minutes.

After achieving pain relief with one of these home remedies for bee stings, cleanse the skin by using a wet paper towel or rag and apply a small amount of an over-the-counter antibiotic cream or a natural first aid remedy to help prevent infection.

At Home In The Kitchen

Tamara McIntyre - Good Nature’d Health Food Store

Visit Tamara at her website:

Digestion and Gut Health

Before eating follow these steps:

  1. Always eat in a calm, tranquil environment. Tension and strain tangle digestion.

  2. Always take a moment to reflect the food that has given its life to nourish your body.

  3. Take 3 deep breaths before beginning to eat.

  4. Consider where your food comes from. If you can’t identify where your food came from should you be consuming it?

  5. Chew slowly and many times. The breakdown of food begins in the mouth, the more you chew the easier it is for your stomach to get the most out of your food and prevent digestive upset.

  6. Eat only when hungry.

There is HOPE!

Following the steps above before eating is step one!

HOPE: Following the acronym HOPE. Which stands for High fibre, Omega Oils, Probiotics and Enzymes is a great way to heal the gut through supplementation. Depending on how severe your gut issues are most people on a western diet should follow the HOPE protocol.

Breakdown HOPE

High Fibre: eating food high in fibre such as flax seed, chia, psyllium fibre, raw fruits and vegetables, beans and legumes, plant proteins such as millet, barley and oats. If you are not able to eat enough of these foods, Renewlife makes a great product called Fibresmart. Fibre is important to keep the bowels moving regularly to carry both food stuff and toxins out of the body.

Omega oils: cold water fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, plants like: nuts and seeds, olive oils, flax, borage, primerose and more. Omega Oils are important for reducing inflammation, cellular health, tissue healing, and lubrication. Again, these oils can be supplemented.

Probiotics the fight between good vs evil.

Why are probiotics important? Well, two reasons. One, they help to protect the gut from foreign invaders and two they help balance the gut microbiome. This is important because an imbalance can lead to IBS, leaky gut, autoimmune disease, thyroid issues and more. If you suffer from any of these issues an 80 billion or more multi-strain probiotic is recommended.

Enzymes: Enzymes are the spark of life, they assist our guts in the breakdown and assimilation of our food stuff. They also act as catalysts to help carry nutrients to other areas of the body. We get them naturally from our fruits and vegetables, however if our diet is lacking these foods, then we need to supplement with a multi-enzyme blend.

Local Cold Remedies from Around the World

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“In Canada, the peak times for colds are at the start of school in the fall, in mid-winter, and again in early spring. Adults catch approximately 2 to 4 colds a year, and children catch even more.”

Coughing, sneezing and fevers- oh my! ‘Tis the season to get sick, no matter how hard you try to prevent it, the winter cold takes no mercy. Between chugging cough syrup to eating nothing but lozenges it can feel like nothing will work. Ready to try something a little different? Take a world tour of some weird and wacky cold remedies from around the globe.

Snail Syrup, Germany

A little different to maple syrup, snail syrup is used in Germany to soothe sore throats. The syrup is made of snail extract (not the whole snail), just the slime from the trail. You’ll never know if it works if you don’t try!

Raw Garlic, Russia

If you are about to go on a date, then maybe don’t try this one! Eating raw garlic or having plates of chopped garlic around the house is a common cold remedy in Russia. Parents will put garlic cloves in their children’s pockets to fend off colds (and vampires, of course).

Salty Liquorice, Netherlands

The Dutch have a special salty treat called “salmiak liquorice” which has surprising healing powers. The salt and the liquorice root mix together to make a soothing throat lozenge. Plus, if you like liquorice then you’re basically just eating candy while curing your cold!

Dried lizard soup, Hong Kong

What do you get when you mix dried lizards, yams and dates? You get a popular cure for the common cold in Hong Kong. The catch is you have to both genders of lizard in one soup for it to work. Would you give this a try?

Turmeric Milk, India

This is like hot cocoa but different in almost every way. Add turmeric, ginger, honey and peppercorns to some warm milk and say bye-bye to your cold. Turmeric is a super food so if you like the taste sprinkle it on pretty much everything (maybe not ice cream but you get the idea).

4 Tips for a Healthy Picnic

Summer is the season for fun in the sun and outdoor picnics are a popular summertime activity in Niagara. This is not surprising if we take into consideration the region’s unparalleled natural beauty, but when heading out for a picnic with family, friends, or a significant other this summer, remember to stay healthy while enjoying the great outdoors.

1.      Bring plenty of hand sanitizer!

While some picnic facilities have public restrooms, good soap and warm water are usually hard to find when you’re on a picnic. Hand sanitizers are a great way to kill the germs on your hands before eating or coming into contact with others, especially small children.

2.      Bring simple foods

When heading out for an all-day picnic, it can be tempting to bring lots and food and other knickknacks as you worry that you might need them all at some point during the day. Remember that the simplest options are both the easiest to carry and usually the healthiest ones. Instead of greasy foods and five-course meals, bring healthy alternatives like cherry tomatoes, grapes, berries, carrot sticks, celery, olives, cheese cubes, crackers, and sandwiches.

3.      Stay hydrated!

When spending time outdoors on hot summer days perhaps the most important thing to remember is to stay hydrated. Drinking alcoholic beverages like beer may be tempting, but the most effective way to hydrate your body is with cool fresh water. Bring plenty of water in a cooler or frozen and leave it out to unfreeze before enjoying it.

4.      Enjoy a healthy and refreshing desert

While cake, chocolate, and other calorie-rich foods sure taste great, when you are out for a long time on a hot summer day the healthiest and most refreshing option is fruit! Enjoy a slice of watermelon, some grapes, an apple, or a peach and you will feel refreshed without feeling guilty about consuming all those delicious calories.

For more tips about planning a health picnic, or for ideas about great picnic spots in Niagara, feel free to contact me at

Summer Solstice

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Unlike many of the special days we celebrate each year, the summer solstice is literally thousands of years old. In the Northern Hemisphere, the longest day of the year is on June 21 or 22 and  it has been given great meaning by a range of civilizations.

This year, take a suggestion from these many different historical groups—from the ancient Greeks to the Romans and Chinese—and start afresh. By looking to the past we can understand how our predecessors have sought to improve themselves and the world around them…

1. Run Like the Greeks

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The ancient Greeks held great influence over the Mediterranean several thousand years ago. Like many of the groups that would come after them, they saw great meaning in the summer solstice. Many festivals were held at this time, the most important being the run-up to the Olympic games.

In fact, the summer solstice marked the one-month count down to the beginning of the athletic games, which included activities like running and wrestling. Take a hint from the Greeks: use the summer solstice as a new beginning for your exercise regime, and make your routine more intense and try new activities that will allow you to build your strength and endurance.

2. Spring Clean

For the Romans, who once ruled a massive expanse of land stretching across several continents, the summer solstice was a time to celebrate Hestia, the goddess of domestic life and the hearth. In other words, it was a celebration of the home and family.

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Take a hint from the Romans: use the summer solstice as time to get serious about taking care of important home chores, like cutting the grass or cleaning out the attic. It might also be a good time to start a new renovation project, which could significantly boost the value of your home.

3. Plant a Tree

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Few Westerners are aware of the great empires that existed in China several thousand years ago. But there, as now, a unique and rich culture flourished. For the ancient Chinese, the summer solstice was a time to celebrate the earth, as opposed to the winter solstice, which marked a celebration of the heavens.

This summer solstice, celebrate the earth by giving back to it. Plant a tree in your backyard or a local park. Help clean up a public place or work with your neighbors to sweep trash off the streets.

4. Have a Bonfire

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Sitting around the bonfire and talking with friends and family—it may just be the quintessential summer activity. And guess what? It’s also what the ancient Vikings of Scandinavia used to do to celebrate the summer solstice.

The key, of course, is to be safe when building your bonfire. Don’t build one if you have overhanging trees or you’re too close to a building. Make sure you’ve got lots of space and keep all children well away from the flames!

5. Go Dancing

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With the temperature rising, summer marks a great time to hit the clubs and patios. As the weather warms up, so too do the dance floors.

Historically, the summer solstice has been celebrated with a variety of special dances. The Sioux, a Native American group, celebrated the event with a colourful ceremonial sun dance around a tree. For many groups like the Sioux, the summer solstice meant celebrating new beginnings through song and dance.

6. Plan a Trip

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There’s no better time to travel than summer, which gets started with the summer solstice. The longer and warmer days of the summer months allow travellers more time to see the sights and explore historical destinations.

Take, for example, Stonehenge in England. Built by the Druids thousands of years ago, many modern Druids continue to gather at the remarkable landmark to mark the summer solstice (as well as the winter solstice, spring equinox, and autumn equinox).

More Than Pretty Colours: The Health Benefits of Daffodils

With springtime upon is it is important to remember that relatively common plants such as the daffodil hold natural healing properties that are beneficial for our health. The daffodil is native to Europe and the British Isles, and it can be found growing throughout Europe and North America. Historically daffodils were appreciated for their beauty, but they were also widely used for the flower’s medicinal properties.

Daffodils are an effective remedy for the cough and cold, and they are believed to have a positive effect on the liver and gallbladder. The plant is said to act as a natural antidepressant, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant, and it is also used in cosmetic products because of its positive effects on the skin and its pleasant smell.

In addition, daffodils are said to be good for helping to speed up the healing of wounds. It is common practice in some parts of the world to apply crushed daffodils onto wounds and cuts for faster healing and drying. Applying daffodils may also have a soothing effect for people who have suffered burns to their skin.

This spring when you see beautiful daffodils in bloom, remember that their benefits extend far beyond their pleasant appearance. Mother Nature is full of natural health benefits and remedies just waiting to be rediscovered, and if you would like to learn more please don’t hesitate to contact me at


7 Keys To A Happy Relationship

What you need to know for joyful, lasting love and companionship.

Happiness within a relationship is hard to define. Not only is each relationship different, but within each relationship, each person defines happiness in an individual way. Some people view happiness as a peaceful conflict-free life. For some, happiness involves a tremendous amount of fun, great intimacy or lots of laughter. Whatever your definition, it directly correlates to your expectations, desires, wants and needs—and those things can change over time.

What holds constant are 7 specific behaviors and attributes laid out below that, in my experience, can almost guarantee the likelihood of long-term success and happiness in a relationship.

If you work toward integrating these keys into your daily life, you will most certainly experience greater joy and less conflict in your primary relationships.

1. Respect

Every successful relationship is built on a foundation of respect. Respect means caring about your partner’s wants and needs and always taking them into account before speaking or acting. The expectation is that your partner will follow the same guidelines. My official definition is as follows: Respect means putting the comfort, well-being and happiness of the person you’re with at an equal level to your own.

2. Loyalty

We feel happy when we know that someone has our backs. Relationships have the greatest success when each partner focuses on supporting one another at all times. This means that if someone is antagonizing your partner, you will either back your partner up directly or support him or her from behind the scenes. This also means that if your partner has done something you believe is wrong or that you don't approve of, that you speak to him or her privately about the issue, never in front of others.

3. Priority

If you want to build a stronger positive relationship, let your partner know that he or she is a priority. Commit time and energy to talking and addressing each other’s wants and needs. Be sure that the two of you have “quality time” alone to connect and enjoy each other’s company. Even though work, children and other obligations are also priorities, find the balance so that your partnership is not neglected.


4. Pick Your Battles

Strong and happy couples know when to bring up issues and when to put them aside. My rule of thumb: If you can let something go, move on and still enjoy your partner … let it go! If you cannot move on and are ruminating or worrying about something, then bring it up. When you do bring it up, make sure it is in a calm manner, in private and at a good time for you two to discuss it. Never bring something upsetting up in bed, and never in earshot of children or other family or friends.


5. Loving Gestures

The concept “Actions speak louder than words” is an important one when it comes to relationships. It is not enough to simply feel that you love someone, you must also show that you love that person. Use kind words, be physically affectionate, leave little love notes around the house … whether it’s a verbal gesture or a material one, make sure that you are letting your partner know in no uncertain terms that you love him or her.

6. Put in the Work

Partners in a successful relationship understand that you need to put in the work to keep things running smoothly. That means sometimes you need to do things that you do not want to do because it matters to your partner. Other times it means you have to put in that extra effort to calm down or hear out your partner’s concerns, even if that isn’t the easiest or most convenient thing to do in the moment. Relationships take a lot of work if they are going to be happy, successful and long-lasting.

7. Focus on the Positives

Even the best of relationships have challenges, and even the most wonderful of partners can have less-than-stellar moments. When times are tough, those who are seeking a happy relationship will combat the negative with a positive. If your mate is irritable after a long day, remind yourself about that great time you had last weekend or how funny he or she can be. If you have found that your partner is a bit messy, for example, and it doesn’t seem to change, focus on the fact that he or she is a great cook or a terrific parent. Reverse your thinking to remind yourself that your mate has great qualities and that you are happy to be together.

Article by Stacy Kaiser


Boost Your Immune System for Winter!


Boosting our immune system is the most effective way to fight off harmful bacteria and viruses, and to stay healthy even as one season gives way to another. It is important to remember that the single biggest contributor to a weakened immune system is STRESS. This certainly applies to emotional stress, but it also applies to other aspects of our lives that serve as “stressors” on our body, including:

1. Diet

Nutritional deficiencies are among the most common contributors to a weakened immune system, particularly vitamin and mineral deficiencies, as well as the deficiencies of good gut flora and reduced levels of stomach acid (which are necessary for absorbing nutrients from our food). Consuming too much processed food, alcohol, wheat, dairy, and sugar also contribute to a deficient diet.

2. Lack of sleep

Sleep is essential for balancing our bodies and maintaining a strong immune system. Sleep deprivation leads to a reduction of natural killer (NK) cells that ward off bacteria and other pathogens, making us more vulnerable to illness.

3. Sugar

Consuming too much sugar has a negative impact on the effectiveness of our white blood cells, which keep us safe from viruses and other foreign invaders. Vitamin C is necessary for white blood cell protection, but because Vitamin C and sugar (glucose) have a similar chemical structure, too much sugar in the bloodstream leads the body to start absorbing sugar instead of Vitamin C and this deprives us of the benefits of Vitamin C as a powerful antioxidant.

4. Toxins

The natural role of our immune system is to fight off foreign invaders such as chemicals, pollutants, pesticides, herbicides, and so on. Too much exposure to these harmful elements will cause our system to go into overdrive, which will have a negative impact on its natural ability to defend itself.

5. Negative Emotions

Finally, emotional stress has a very real impact on our physical state. Emotions such as fear, anger, and guilt affect not only our mental state but also our physical ability to fight off viruses and bacteria by causing a spike in cortisol, which suppresses the immune system. Although they still cannot fully explain why, studies show that a positive attitude actually boosts our immune system.

Keeping these factors in mind, effective strategies for boosting our immune system include:

  • Regular exercise
  • Getting enough rest and sleep
  • Eliminating sugar from our diet
  • Consuming alcohol only in moderation
  • Finding ways to reduce stress
  • Washing hands frequently and thoroughly, and practicing good hygiene in general[1]
  • Consuming plenty of fermented foods and/or probiotics in order to nurture good gut flora
  • Eating a colourful variety of whole foods, including fruits, vegetables, and lean protein

For more information I recommend checking out nutritionist and health wellness consultant Sharlene Styles at If you need some extra help, she’s also available for appointments.

[1] Maintaining a clean environment is not only good for your health, but also for the value of your home! In a recent survey by OREA, 7 out of 10 home sellers in Ontario said that ‘cleanliness’ is very important to retaining a home’s future resale value. In comparison, half said that a new/renovated kitchen is very important, while 46% said the same for a renovated bathroom.


Budgeting for a Stress-free Christmas


One of the best ways to make sure that your Christmas holidays will be merry and stress-free is to plan out your Christmas budget well ahead of time. It’s easy to stay focused on our day-to-day obligations and put holiday season budgeting on the backburner, but the sooner we get a grip on the Christmas budget, the better it will be for our wallet and for our general sense of well-being in the long run. With that in mind, here are 6 easy tips to help you budget for Christmas in a timely and efficient way.

1. Write it down!

The most simple things are often overlooked, but actually writing out your Christmas budget is very important. Throughout the Christmas season advertisers will spend MILLIONS on targeting your impulse to spend without thinking, so if you want to stay on budget you need to have a concrete battle plan. Write down what you plan to buy and how much you can afford to spend, and review the list on a regular basis to remind yourself.

2. Stick to it!

Now that you have your list, treat it with respect. Look it over often – daily if possible – and make sure that you are not going over budget. Spending more on our loved ones can be tempting, especially during the holiday season, but if you stick to your carefully planned out budget you will be thankful that you did come January.

3. The Price isn’t Everything

In the majority of cases, our loved ones will appreciate the thought and care that goes into a gift far more than its retail price. Children especially don’t value gifts based on price but on the enjoyment that they get out of them. With that in mind, look for presents that are thoughtful and affordable, and forget about expensive jewellery and other overpriced trinkets.

4. Secret Santa is a Money Saver

The tradition of a group of friends or colleagues drawing names and then buying a gift for only one other person in the group can be a huge money saver. This way everyone gets a gift, and everyone saves a lot of money. Consider employing this strategy whenever possible.

5. Do NOT Borrow Money for Christmas!

This seems obvious, but many people will still do it. The whole point of budgeting for your holiday spending is so that you don’t end up in debt come January, which can put a dark cloud over what is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year. If you catch yourself thinking about borrowing money for your Christmas shopping, THINK AGAIN! 

6. If You REALLY Need Cash, Sell Old Gold and Valuables You No Longer Need

Many of us have old gold and jewellery locked away somewhere inside our homes. If you haven’t worn it in a long time and you don’t plan to wear it in the future (and if there is no significant sentimental value attached), sell your old gold and jewellery and use the money to complete your Christmas shopping without accruing debt. Just be sure to research the current market value of gold and other valuables so that you don’t get ripped off by unscrupulous gold buyers. 

I hope that these 6 quick tips will help you have a healthy, merry, and stress-free Christmas! For more information about Christmas budgeting and other financial and real estate tips, feel free to contact me at

The Importance of Giving Thanks



The Thanksgiving Day holiday in Canada dates all the way back to the 1600s when French settlers first arrived in New France. Thanksgiving began as an annual feast celebrating the end of the harvest season, and according to many historical records these celebrations included the mutual sharing of food between European settlers and the indigenous peoples of the area.  

For most of us in the modern world it is difficult to imagine how important the success of the harvest season was for early settlers, and how crucial their mutually beneficial relationship with the indigenous peoples of Canada was for their very survival. Without modern technology, transportation, and storage facilities one bad harvest could lead to famine and spell disaster for an entire settlement, so the early settlers quickly learned the importance of being thankful for every morsel of food and for every bit of help that they received from their neighbours. Today, with a fully stocked supermarket right around the corner even in the dead of winter, it is easy to forget the importance of being thankful. Nevertheless, even in the modern world giving thanks is still important in our daily lives. Here’s why:

1.      Being grateful and appreciating what we have is good for our health! When we are feeling down we are often reminded by our loved ones to think about everything we should be grateful for, and even some scientific studies have shown that individuals who think about what they can be thankful for on a regular basis are happier and more well-adjusted than those who only think about the things they lack in life.

2.      Being grateful and appreciating the ones we love is good for their health! Expressing our thanks and appreciation for others makes those individuals feel confident and good about themselves, and studies show that people who feel appreciated lead healthier and happier lives. So if you want to do something for your loved ones, remind them how much you cherish and value them and everything they do. We often tend to overlook the little things that important people in our lives do for us, but if we put in more effort into showing our appreciation, this will have a positive impact on our relationships with the ones we care about the most.

Thanksgiving Day is just one day of the year and a wonderful Canadian tradition, but giving thanks and showing appreciation should be a daily activity all year round. Being grateful is good for our health, and for the health of everyone around us, so the best time to start being thankful is right now

For more information about healthy living every day of the year, feel free to e-mail me at



Oh summer harvest, how I love you so.

This time of year in Niagara is abound with so much bounty, beauty and sunshine (well, there's rain too). I'm guessing (and hoping) that makes for a stellar wine year for Niagara.

Right now, we are at the height of our growing season in and farmers markets are bustling with fresh produce, tender fruit and tons of greens... and zucchini's!

While you may not think of zucchini as being rich in nutrients, it rates very high in The World's Healthiest Foods across all nutrient categories: vitamins, minerals, macronutrients (like fiber and protein) as well as phytonutrients like carotenoids. They rate summer squash as an excellent source of copper and manganese and very good or good source of magnesium phosphorus, potassium, zinc, calcium, and iron. Not too shabby!

Most of the antioxidants and fiber are in the skin of a zucchini, so it’s best to keep the skin when eating it. However, most zucchini varieties in North America are genetically modified, so it’s best to purchase it organic.

I find that many of my clients get a little stumped on how to use zucchini in dishes other than grilling it or making a dip with it.

Most people have now heard of or have tried zucchini noodles or 'zoodles' that make a delicious low carb alternative to traditional noodles. Using zoodles in place of pasta has endless possibilites, but if you're tired of the whole zoodle thing or need a little zucchini inspiration, here are some of my favourite ways to use zucchini while they're in the in the height of their season and relatively inexpensive.

For more information and great healthy summer recipes, visit Sharlene Styles by clicking here



Spring is in the air and summer is right around the corner. This is a time of rebirth, high energy, and living in harmony with nature. In order to make the best out of the outdoor season and lead a healthy and active lifestyle, follow these 4 easy steps.

1.      Embrace LIFE and ENERGY! This is the season of new beginnings, and this is your chance to embrace the new you. You don’t need to wait for the New Year to make new resolutions; in the spirit of the outdoor season, you can choose to be creative, adopt a new positive attitude, eat healthy, and be active right now!

2.      Be ACTIVE! As animal and plant life flourishes all around you, become one with that energy. Walk outside and take in the fresh scents of nature, hear the birds singing, and adopt an exercise program that will help you become your best and healthiest self. Whether you like to jog, bike, practice Yoga or Tai Chi, or lift weights, an active lifestyle is a crucial ingredient for improving your health and overall wellness.

3.      CLEANSE and PURIFY Your Body! With the fruits of nature in abundance and the sun shining its energy upon you, choose to avoid artificial chemicals and the excesses of drugs and alcohol. Eat healthy, drink healthy, and commit to dropping harmful habits like smoking. Good nutrition is nature’s medicine, and a healthy diet is essential for a long and healthy life.

4.      SEIZE THE SEASON! Check your local farmers’ markets for the freshest seasonal fruits and vegetables of the organic variety. Now that winter is behind us and fresh produce is once again growing locally, seize the opportunity to stock up on those luscious natural nutrients! There is nothing better than fresh, organic, and locally grown fruits and vegetables, so take advantage of this bounty while it lasts.

The spring and summer season is a time for creativity, vibrancy, and for new opportunities. Seize the benefits of this beautiful season and strive to reach your full potential! There is no time like the present.

Prevent Mold the Natural Way, using Essential Oils!

Springtime is the time of pleasant weather and beautiful flowers, but it is also a time when you really have to watch out for mold growing inside your home. The negative effects of mold are most acutely felt by those who suffer from asthma, allergies, or immune system deficiencies, but living with mold for a long period of time is dangerous for everyone. Mold triggers allergic reactions in many people such as sneezing and a runny nose, and those with asthma may actually experience asthma attacks as a result of mold.

Essential oils can be an effective natural remedy to mold buildup. In particular, Peppermint, Clove, Rosemary, and Cinnamon are among the most effective essential oils against mold and bacteria. A study conducted by the Internet Journal of Microbiology found clove oil to be effective against such bacteria as Staphylococcus and Aspergillus. Furthermore, according to studies conducted at the Western Infirmary in Glasgow, Scotland, lavender, melaleuca, thyme, and peppermint demonstrated the strongest killing power against MRSA antibiotic resistant bacteria.

It is advised to use a cold air diffuser in order to diffuse your essential oils so that they can kill the existing mold spores and prevent them from multiplying. Run a dehumidifier through damp spaces such as basements and crawl spaces in moist weather, because studies show that ventilating air is more effective in blowing air out of the house than simply bringing outside air in. Synergistic blends of essential oils are more powerful than individual ones, and the most helpful oils for fighting mold include Cinnamon, Clove, Lemon, Orange, Spruce, Rosemary, and blends of Biblical Oils. For the most effective result consider using a cold air diffuser, which doesn’t heat up the oils so it doesn’t destroy their anti-bacterial properties. Remember that chemical air fresheners are useless because they merely mask mold and mildew odors (instead of fighting bad bacteria, you are introducing more potentially harmful chemicals into your home).

If left unchecked, the growth of mold can result in serious physical symptoms such as headache, bloody nose, rashes, nausea, diarrhea, and more. If you believe that there might be a serious issue with mold in your home, contact a qualified mold expert rather than attempting to fix the problem yourself.

For more information about the health benefits of Essential Oils, contact me at


Spring is finally upon us (at least according to the calendar) and with springtime comes spring cleaning! Keeping the home clean and healthy for our loved ones is extremely important, but cleaning with strong chemical agents can actually cause more harm than good. Here are 5 quick tips to keep your home clean and healthy this spring without resorting to harsh chemicals.

1.      Don’t Forget to Clean Unlikely Areas. For example, your mattress attracts allergy-causing dust mites and washing it in hot water of 60 degrees Celsius every month and wiping the top of the mattress with hot water will help keep that important area clean. Other areas that are often neglected include indoor trash cans, shower curtains, HVC filters, automatic dishwashers, and the fireplace.

2.      Old Wool Clothing is Great for Dusting! Because wool creates static when rubbed on a surface that needs cleaning, one wipe can keep your furniture dust-free without forcing you to resort to a chemical polish or spray.

3.      Clean Toilet Bowls the Healthy Way. Simply fill a spray bottle with white vinegar, pour a capful of white vinegar into the toilet, and then proceed to spray the sides of the bowl. Sprinkle sodium bicarbonate in the toilet and wait 15 minutes before scrubbing with a bit of bicarb sprinkled on the brush. Lastly, pour 250ml of vinegar into the toilet once a month and leave it to sit overnight. The vinegar will dissolve alkali build-up and prevent hard-water rings in the toilet.

4.      Toothpaste is a Healthier Way to Polish Silverware. Chemical polishes for silver are known to contain harmful ingredients such as ammonia and petroleum distillates. If you simply rub on some toothpaste to the silver surface then rinse with warm water and polish with a soft cloth, you will achieve a similar result in a healthier way.

5.      Keep Drains Clean without Chemicals. Chemical drain cleaners contain toxic ingredients like sulphuric acid and they can be extremely dangerous, not to mention that even the vapours that they give out are harmful. If you pour some boiling water and throw a handful of bicarbonate followed by 125ml of vinegar down the drain once a week, you will keep the drain cleaner for longer without resorting to harmful chemicals.

Happy spring cleaning! For more tips, feel free to contact me at