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Healthy Summer Travel

It’s summer time, and during this season you likely have plans to travel. Today, Dr. Michael Nowazek shares some ideas to make summer travel healthy and simple for families with children. We’ve got tips for snacking in the car, meals on the road, as well as special treats that are healthy.

The first important aspect of family healthy summer travel, whether it’s short or long distance, is snacks. 

What can you do for snacks that are healthy, simple and won’t make a mess of the car?

The most simple example is fruits.  Bananas, apples, pears, nectarines and peaches are all good ideas.  Be sure to pack a plastic shopping bag or re sealable container that will allow you to manage waste without messing up the car.  Then you can bring the biodegradable items back to the house composter or dispose of it at your destination.  Also pack some hand wipes, to clean the kids as well as the surfaces of the car.

The next travel snack option is a protein bar.  We recommend UltraMeal rice protein bars.  They come in chocolate and vanilla and are very filling, great tasting, and are a complete protein and multivitamin all in one.  This allows you and your family to have a healthy snack that tastes amazing. 

Meals for healthy summer travel can be difficult, let’s simplify… 

Most fast food restaurants will have some healthier items, salads, wraps, some other options are available.  The problem with fast foods are that they often have a lot of added salt, sugar and other ingredients that reduce the health factor of these foods.  It can be difficult to find foods on the road that don’t have something added which will make that food unhealthy in some way.  Salt and sugar are usually the problem.    

A much healthier travel meal option is packing a picnic before you leave.  A simple healthy picnic could have a wrap, some corn taco chips and a jar of salsa, as well as some fruit to round out the picnic.  The wrap recipe we like is: flat bread or pita with humus as the spread.  Then add some cooked chicken, tuna or salmon.  Then a baby greens salad, some chopped tomatoes and a simple vinaigrette dressing.  You can wrap it in some plastic wrap or seal it in a reusable container.  Then store it in a collapsable travel cooler with the corn chips, salsa and fruit until you stop for your picnic.  You might need an ice pack in the cooler to keep things cool and fresh depending on how long your road trip will be. 

A final suggestion is to incorporate special treats when you travel.  We recommend smoothies when you stop for gas or a break.  Everyone loves a fresh fruit smoothie and it’s one of the healthiest options available on the road.  Almost every stop area will have a smoothie shop somewhere.  You can also find smoothies in the drink sections of most groceries stores.  You could also make the smoothie at home before you travel, keep them cool in a sealed drink container, then have them on the road when you stop. 

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Direct Insurance Billing: Edmonton Naturopathic Doctors

Green Apple Health Care is now offering direct insurance billing!

Did you know that many people have insurance benefits that cover Naturopathic Medicine, Nutritional Counselling, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Acupuncture and more? Green Apple Health Care is now offering direct billing to over 10 major insurers. Our direct billing program covers 85% of privately insured Canadians. By taking advantage of direct billing, you can reduce your out-of-pocket expenses and eliminate insurance paperwork at home.

direct insurance billing telus ehealth

Most extended health insurance plans expire on December 31st. Be sure to utilize your benefits before the end of the year. If you’re not sure what your plan covers, you can contact your HR department or your insurance company directly to find out. Many people have coverage for Naturopathic Consultation, Nutritional Counselling, Acupuncture and more. Don’t let your benefits go to waste, take advantage of our direct billing program today!

Bring your insurance card or paperwork with you to your next visit to find out if we can submit your insurance claim for you.

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Adrenal Function, Cortisol and Stress

The majority of us are familiar with stress in and how it can impact us. You may have heard of adrenal fatigue, which is a syndrome related to stress. Digestion problems, high blood pressure, trouble sleeping and so on can all be symptoms of stress or adrenal gland dysfunction. Most people do not know what cortisol is or what role it plays in the body and our health.

Cortisol is a hormone that is produced in the adrenal glands that sit atop of the kidneys in the lower back. We need cortisol to help regulate blood sugar, control immune responses, maintain blood pressure as well as modulating anti-inflammatory actions. It is important to have cortisol produced by the adrenal glands in times of stress, but it is necessary for cortisol levels to return to normal after the stressful event.

When the body has chronically elevated levels of cortisol this can lead to problems like impaired cognitive performance, decreased thyroid function, high blood sugar, decreased bone density, insomnia, loss of muscle tone, high blood pressure, lowered immune function and/or increased belly fat.

On the other hand when the adrenal glands are fatigued and they can not produce enough cortisol people can experience symptoms such as trouble concentrating or cloudy-headedness, decreased thyroid function, hypoglycemia,  morning and mid-afternoon fatigue, insomnia, hypotension and inflammation.

Cortisol levels in the blood naturally fluctuate throughout the day and most people can recover from times of stress in their lives, however, large amounts of stress or prolonged periods of stress can impair the adrenal functions and lead too much or too little cortisol.

If you are concerned with how stress is impacting your body or would like to know how your adrenals are functioning the Doctors at Green Apple Health Care offer testing that can find your cortisol levels. Improving the way your body copes with stress can help with your immune system, blood sugar, weight loss, sleep, energy and more.

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Vitamin D Testing in Edmonton

Vitamin D testing can benefit a lot of people. You may have seen some recent articles about Vitamin D, its role in the body and why it’s important for everybody, especially Edmontonians. Most people have a good idea of what Vitamin D does and why you need it. However, how does one know their current levels of Vitamin D, or if the supplement they are taking is actually working to increase the active form of Vitamin D in their blood?

Who should get Vitamin D Testing?

If you currently supplement with Vitamin D, testing can determine if your supplement is working and/or if your dosage is correct. Many people take a Vitamin D supplement, but not everyone uses enough, and some people use too much. If you suffer from low energy, seasonal depression, osteoporosis or low immune system, vitamin D testing may be particularly beneficial for you.

How does Vitamin D Testing work?

At Green Apple Health Care, all the Doctors rely on blood tests to determine the Vitamin D levels of our patients. A simple finger poke is all it takes for us to determine if your blood has adequate levels of  25-hydroxyvitamin D3 (the active form of Vitamin D). Generally, once it has been decided that we are going to test a patients Vitamin D levels, it is only a matter of a 15 minute appointment to collect the blood for the lab. Once we have sent in the sample we usually get the results back in 7-10 days, at which point we have the patient come in to discuss the results and make any nutrition or supplement changes necessary to improve the levels of Vitamin D.

If you are interested in knowing your levels of  Vitamin D or finding out if your supplements  are working to increase the active Vitamin D in your blood, you can contact us to schedule an appointment with one of the doctors at Green Apple Health Care.

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The Best Apps to Manage Stress

Stress is defined as any change. It can be a good change such as buying a new house, or a bad change like being let go from a job. Stress is always present in our lives and our stress hormone, cortisol, has an effect on our body. You can change the effect of stress on your body by improving the way you cope with changes in your life. There are many well researched ways to cope with stress including yoga, meditation, exercise and so on. If you don’t have time to hit the gym or yoga studio, or you’re not sure how to start meditating, here’s our list of the best apps to manage stress.

  1. Stop, Breathe, Think – this app is incredibly simple to use and it’s free! You can opt to enrol in a free learn to meditate course, or you can simply do a guided meditation, your choice of duration, once you’ve downloaded the app. If you’re feeling anxious, there’s a meditation for that. If you’re feeling angry, there’s a meditation for that. It will guide you through a series of questions and produce several options for guided meditations for you to try.
  2. The Five Minute Journal – you can buy a hard copy of this book, or you can download the app for your phone/tablet. This app is a great way to practice gratitude and positive affirmations. In the morning, it will ask you for 3 things you’re grateful for and 3 things that would make your day fantastic. In the evening, you can reflect on your day by entering 3 things that you felt went well and 1 thing you could’ve done better.
  3. Breathe+ – If learning to meditate sounds like a bit too much for you, but you’d consider practicing some deep breathing to manage your stress levels, this app is for you. You can use this app to slow down your breathing by setting the length of your inhales and exhales. The app has a simple graphic that changes with your inhale and exhale so that you know when to breathe. You can set any length of time from 1 minute up to practice your deep breathing.

Try one or all of the apps to help you manage the stress in your life. By meditating, journalling, or slowing down your breathing, you can have a measurable effect on your stress response. This could look like increased energy, improved sleep, fewer sensations of anxiety or worry and/or improved concentration. Let us know if you have a favourite app that you use to manage stress!

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