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  • “Dignity” and Hope - World Mental Health Day

    October 09, 2015

    Mental illness will affect every single one of us.    As we progress through our life stages from pre-birth, to late adulthood and eventual death (1) every single one of us is vulnerable to mental illness or its effects.   While we may be personally spared the challenges of having a mental disorder, we may still be affected through a family member, a child, parent, grandparent, uncle/aunt/cousin/nephew; or through a member of our extended family.  Alternatively we may be affected by the experience of a traumatic event such as the 911 World Twin Towers disaster or t...

  • World Suicide Prevention Day

    September 10, 2015

    Today is World Suicide Prevention Day.  It is reported, by the World Health Organization, that there are 800 000 deaths by suicide every year worldwide (http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs398/en/).  The population of San Francisco is 852, 469 (July 2014) – this is  equivalent to losing this whole city to suicide every year. What can we do as individuals to prevent suicide?  We can be there for our friends, family, neighbors, co-workers.  We may never know what someone is going through.  Just because someone may look happy on the outside, does not...

  • Caffeine - An Updated Series (Part II)

    August 31, 2015

    Caffeine - An Updated Series (Part II)  Key Points: 100% bio-availability Water and fat soluble Consumed either intravenously or orally (foods, drinks, capsules) Antagonizes adenosine receptors in the central nervous system Stimulates the central nervous system and neurotransmitter release High variability in response to caffeine May depend on genetics, exogenous, or endogenous factors  Part II   Caffeine Chemistry & Bioavailability   Figure 1. The molecular structure of caffeine and adenosine.   Caffeine chemistry: Chemical for...

  • Caffeine - An Updated Series

    July 24, 2015

    Part I Key Points: Caffeine: the most widely used naturally occurring substance in the world found in more than 60 plants Food/Drinks containing caffeine:  coffee, tea, soft drinks, energy drinks, chocolate/cocoa products Caffeine consumption is common in all parts of the world Coffee originated from Ethiopia (1000-1400 AD) Tea originated from China (750 AD) Cocoa originated from Mexico (1500 BC)   Figure 1. The most common dietary sources of caffeine; coffee, tea and cocoa.  Part I Caffeine Consumption    ...

  • Exercise Guidelines for Pregnancy

    January 26, 2015

    Popular opinion regarding exercise during pregnancy has changed drastically over the last 30 years.  Pregnancy was once viewed as a “delicate state,” and pregnant women were told to avoid physical exertion to keep their babies safe.  Luckily, science has prevailed, and the evidence is clear: the more fit and healthy a mom is before and during pregnancy, the easier her labour will be, the healthier the baby will be and the faster it will be for the mom to get her pre-baby body back. If you are already active, you can continue your exercise program; if you are new to exerci...

  • Brain Development 101

    January 14, 2015

    Working in the field of mental health and addictions, we are inundated with new research, best practices, and information aimed at assisting us in the work we do with our clients. In the past 10 months I have had the opportunity to engage in some very interesting and ground making work around early brain development that I believe will have a huge impact on the way we interact with our kids, as well as the way we see stress in children. Through the Alberta Family Wellness initiative, I have found a way to illustrate and show what toxic stress can do to kids in a manner that is easy to understa...

  • Suicide: An Unnecessary Loss of a Precious Life

    October 15, 2014

    Hook. A movie I loved as a kid, with an actor who always had a way of making me smile. I think about myself as a father now, and recently watching this movie with my son asking who peter pan was, and who Robin Williams is. Unfortunately, our next conversation about the actor will be about who he was. On August 11, 2014, the world was shocked at the apparent suicide of an actor beloved by so many. Robin Williams had clearly made an impact on this world not just as an actor, but also as a person who cared about many, and who in turn was cared about by countless around the world. The death of Rob...

  • Mental Illness Awareness Week (Canada)

    October 15, 2014

    As we inch closer to gaining an hour of time in our day, we also get closer to Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW), which runs this year from October 5-11, 2014. MIAW is a campaign aimed at raising awareness of mental illness, reducing stigma, and celebrating the successes of individuals living with mental illness. One initiative that puts mental health in the spotlight annually is the Faces of Mental Illness Campaign. This campaign is run by the Canadian Alliance on mental illness and Mental Health (CAMIMH), in conjunction with mental Illness Week and focuses on individuals living with menta...

  • The Health Benefits of Chili Peppers

    June 17, 2014

    The benefits of chili peppers as a condiment in cuisines worldwide have been known for several millennia.  Likely to have been introduced to the rest of the world from South America, chili peppers are now grown in all corners of the world, with more than 200 varieties described.   The active ingredients in chili peppers are a group of chemical compounds known as capsaicinoids, with capsaicin being the main and most studied compound.  Capsaicin gives chili peppers it’s hot taste by binding to heat and pain receptors in the mouth and throat (1).  Stimulation o...

  • Do I Take My Tea With Milk and Honey?

    April 22, 2014

    Originally introduced from China to Europe in the 16th and 17th Centuries, tea has spread to all corners of the world to become the second most common drink, after water.  The early Chinese communities drank green tea primarily for its medicinal properties, while the British brought black tea to England after being introduced to it by the Royal Family.  In Europe, namely France, Madame de la Sabriere is credited with having been the first person to add milk to black tea (1). However, the addition of milk and other substances, including sugar or honey, to black tea have resu...

  • The Question of Organic

    November 13, 2013

    As a healthy consumer of daily produce and dairy, the new organic ‘trend’ has been intriguing to me.  We like to ‘save our pennies’ and find the best deals, but with two young children, I am not sure we are making the best choices for our family.  My one-year-old daughter only prefers organic homogenized milk; maybe this is telling me something.  As I research more, organic living may be the direction to move in. The Environmental Working Group’s 2013 Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce™ “will help you determine which fruits and ve...

  • It's Simple: Eat Clean

    October 29, 2013

    I literally sat down to write this article with a bowl full of vegetables and a big glass of water, wondering when this healthy lifestyle I live by now originated from.  It started as a child with a mother who always made us eat healthy, limiting unhealthy snacks, which made the one Hershey kiss chocolate in our lunches everyday and chips on Friday nights that much more exciting! She exercised everyday, walking and workout videos at home, and that just became a part of our daily life growing up.  Then university life came, and I chose to eat what I wanted, bl...

  • Promoting Literacy

    October 22, 2013

    The last intervention we will analyze is the use of literacy programs to reduce crime. Research has shown that, “children with language difficulties are at risk for antisocial behaviour as they get older, and are more likely to be involved in crime as youth and adults and are at increased risk of bypassing the education, employment, community and family opportunities that will allow them to lead healthy and productive lives” (Colenutt & Toye, 2012, p. 2). Literacy begins for children as early as in utero, through parents reading to their kids and is later transitioned to hands-...

  • Investing in Emotional Capital

    October 15, 2013

    Educators and individuals working within the school setting have the unique opportunity to not only teach, but also build relationships with children. From the lens of attachment theory, building strong attachments are key in building a successful relationship, whether it be a parent, friend, or educator, in a relationship, investing in another can be viewed as building emotional capital which “is generally understood as confined within the bounds of affective relationships of family and friends and encompasses the emotional resources you hand on to those you care about” (Reid, 200...

  • Remedies for the Season

    October 10, 2013

    Autumn has arrived, and cold and flu season is upon us.  Feeling a hint of some symptoms coming on myself, I asked my friends what their best remedies are to fight a cold.  These friends included doctors, nurses, pharmacists, teachers, osteopathic practitioners, massage therapists, yoga instructors, aestheticians, and experienced mothers and grandmothers, just to name a few.  It was interesting to see how everyone suggested natural remedies first.  Here is a list of their best recommendations as symptomatic relief: Increase your intake of fresh garlic and onions, eat lot...

  • Early Intervention Programs as a Crime Reducing Intervention

    October 08, 2013

    As the father to a three-year-old boy, I have seen firsthand the importance of integrating children into the education system at an early age. More and more focus is put on teaching emotional regulation, cognitive development, and appropriate social skills in order to prepare our young people for their future. Looking at early childhood interventions (ECI) from a research lens has shown that, “early childhood interventions have demonstrated consistent positive effects on children’s health and well-being” (Reynolds, Temple, Ou, Robertson, Mersky, Topitzes, & Niles, 2007, p...

  • Successful Interventions to Reduce Youth Crime - Introduction

    October 01, 2013

    The concern about youth involvement in crime is an important issue, considering that in 2010 there were approximately 23% of Canadians who were under the age of 20 (Public Safety Canada, 2012). In this same year, there were 153,000 Canadian youth accused of committing a crime (Public Safety Canada, 2012). From an early age, we are taught that education is an important, necessary, and crucial element to personal development. As children, we are ushered to learn our letters, numbers, and core elements of a variety of subject matter, which all act as stepping stones to future educational develop...

  • Vitamin D – Current Status

    August 14, 2013

    1)   “Vitamin D” is a secosteroid hormone necessary for the following bodily functions: It assists in the absorption of calcium and phosphorus from the gut (calcium being necessary for bones and teeth and the proper functioning of our heart, muscles, nerves and blood clotting). It has a direct influence on up to 3000 genes involved in the likely prevention of some diseases such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 and 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and depression. (Ref 1, 2, 3, 4) 2)    Vitamin D is primarily obtained...

  • The Top Ten Reasons Why You Need More Folate in Your Diet

    March 11, 2013

    Folate (also known as folic acid) is a B-complex vitamin that is most famous for its role in promoting healthy pregnancies. However, it turns out that many aspects of your health can suffer if you do not have enough folate in your diet. Certain foods are particularly good sources of this nutrient, including spinach, asparagus, parsley, broccoli, lentils and beets. Although most people know that a healthy diet is one that is rich in folate, few know just why it is so important. Read on to discover ten surprising and important reasons why a higher intake of folate could help to improve and exten...

  • The Better Side of Haiti

    January 28, 2013

    The Haitian people have had a difficult and troubled history since they were first taken from Africa as slaves by Europeans in the early 1500s. Since then they've faced almost continual hardships as they were enslaved by colonial powers, fought for their freedom, suffered from disease and poverty, and endured challenging governments who showed limited interest for the citizens' welfare. On January 12, 2010 Haiti suffered a devastating earthquake with an estimated death toll of over 300,000. The capital, Port-au-Prince was leveled and 1 to 1.5 million Haitians were left homeless. Many more peop...

  • The Centenarian's Secret to Life

    September 16, 2011

    Living to the age of 100 is an honored rarity today. In order to discover the secret of how to reach 100 + years, a number of researchers have been closely examining centenarians. There appear to be two approaches to the research: the biological versus the environmental effects, or more commonly known as ‘nature versus nurture.” The first methodology involves examining centenarians’ genetics to determine whether lifespan is inherited. The second methodology involves examining how centenarians’ lifestyle affects their lifespan. Basically, the question is; are there choic...

  • Prevention of Alzheimer's Disease and Related Dementias - Part 1

    September 08, 2011

    The world is ageing.  With an increasing number of seniors will come a rising tide of people with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.  When Dr. Aloysius Alzheimer described the first person with this disorder, little did he know how his diagnosis was going to affect the world a century later.  According to the World Alzheimer’s Report 2010, worldwide there were 35 million people with Alzheimer’s disease (and related dementia).  The total number of people suffering from this disease is postulated to double every 20 years reaching 115.4 million by 20...

  • A Current Look at the Treatment of Arthritis

    August 08, 2011

    Arthritis is a group of medical disorders that affect one or more joints. Over 100 different types of arthritis have been described with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis being the most common. Arthritis affects children and adults alike, women more than men, with an increase in the number of sufferers with age.  In the U.S.A. data reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in a 2007-2009 survey, showed some 49.9 million adults aged 18 years or over as having a doctor diagnosed arthritis (1). In Canada approximately 5 million adult men and women are ...

  • World Humanitarian Day - 19th of August 2011

    July 22, 2011

    Countries and communities have been plagued by natural and man made disasters since time immemorial. In recent times these have included incidents such as the genocide in Rwanda in 1994, bombing of the World Trade Centre in 2001 in the USA, the South East Asia Tsunami in 2004, Hurricane Katrina in the USA in 2005, the earthquake in Haiti in 2010, the Fukushima earthquake and tsunami in Japan in 2011. Worldwide ongoing conflicts continue to result in the displacement of countless refugees.  A band of humane men and women have dedicated their lives to assist other humans who suffer as a re...

  • Yoga for Insomnia

    July 21, 2011

    Are you punching your pillow and kicking your sheets, succumbing to the overwhelming frustration that results from an inability to sleep? You’re not alone! 3.3 million Canadians are suffering from insomnia (http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/051116/dq051116a-eng.htm). That is 1 in 7 Canadians who are having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. For those individuals struggling to sleep and looking for an alternative treatment to medication, some researchers are suggesting yoga. In particular, Dr. Khalsa, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, has conduct...

  • Do Sports Protect Against Aggression and Violence or Encourage It?

    July 21, 2011

    Have you thought about placing your son or daughter in a sport to keep them out of trouble? Many believe that placing your children in an organized sport encourages them to learn about teamwork, the value of physical fitness, discipline, hard work, etc., as well as keeps them busy and thus avoiding interactions with their deviant peers. This view has been supported in the literature; in particular studies have found that youth who participate in sports are less likely to demonstrated delinquent behaviour as opposed to youth who do not participate in sports (Pate, 2000). However, studies have ...


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