When Michelle Hamer became a first-time mom, she realized quickly just how little she knew about infant nutrition. "I had a lot of questions about how much to feed and what a child should be eating."
Hamer's not alone. According to Dr. Nessa Bayer, a Toronto pediatrician and mother of two, new parents are overwhelmed by so many things when baby comes home, and the amount of information out there makes it even more confusing. "Infant nutrition is just one of the things they're trying to find out about, and it's hard to get all the messages straight," she says.
So, what are the truths and falsehoods of infant nutrition? Dr. Bayer tackles some of the most common concerns in this true or false quiz.
Mothers should breastfeed for at least six months True. "Breastfeeding is the best. It is recommended to keep breastfeeding until six months of age and even up to two years," says Dr. Bayer. The World Health Organization agrees, adding that breast milk promotes sensory and cognitive development, protects infants against infectious and chronic diseases, reduces infant mortality due to common childhood illnesses and promotes faster recovery during illness.
All infant formulas are the same False. If a mother doesn't breastfeed,Health Canada and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend an iron-fortified formula for all formula-fed infants. Most infant formulas are made with cow's milk; choose a soy-based alternative if your infant is allergic to the proteins in cow's milk formula or can't tolerate lactose. Still, there are even more variations on drugstore shelves.
When selecting a formula, Dr. Bayer suggests following the ABCs of infant nutrition: • A is for Allergy. Partially hydrolized or "protein hydrolysate" formula is easier to digest and less likely to cause allergic reactions than cow's milk formula because the proteins have already been broken down. • B is for Baby's digestion. Opt for 100 per cent whey protein. "Cow's milk protein is composed of both casein and whey, and whey is the one that's easier to digest," says Dr. Bayer. • C is for Contains omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in breast milk. Some formulas are enhanced with DHA and ARA, which are omega-3 fatty acids and thought to be important for infant eyesight and brain development. According to the Mayo Clinic, however, research is inconclusive about the benefits of adding the fatty acids to infant formula.
Page 1 of 2 -- Learn more about introducing new foods to your baby on page 2
Too much iron causes constipation False. Although many infants become constipated from certain formulas -- and switching to a lower-iron formula tends to dissipate the problem -- there is no link between iron-fortified formulas and constipation, says Dr. Bayer. It's OK to switch to a lower-iron formula for a couple of months, but do return to the recommended iron-fortified by the time your infant reaches four months of age, when the store of iron passed to your baby via the placenta runs out. "If babies become iron deficient it can lead to iron-deficiency anemia, which can cause developmental problems later on," explains Dr. Bayer.
New foods should be introduced one at a time True. By six months of age, baby will need solid foods to supplement the nutrients in breast milk or formula. The Canadian Pediatric Society (CPS) recommends beginning with the least allergenic foods first and those with iron, such as rice cereal, then moving on to other single-grain infant cereals, vegetables, fruits, and then meats. Egg whites, honey, citrus and peanut butter should only be introduced after one year of age as they can cause an allergic reaction. The CPS also recommends introducing new foods one at a time, waiting three to four days before moving to the next new food, to ensure your child is not allergic.
Infancy is not the time to worry about weight True. While doctor visits routinely involve weight checks, the number on the scale and baby's percentile placement shouldn't overshadow healthy eating. "With infant nutrition, it's really about making sure they're getting the right nutrients in up until six months whether through breast milk or equivalent formula," explains Dr. Bayer. When infants start solids, then it's time to provide a diet full of nutritious foods from all food groups. "What they're like as babies doesn't mean what they're going to be like when they're older," says Dr. Bayer, referring to an infant's weight, adding that you should just be sure you're aware of what the right nutrition is and what's recommended.
Talk to your doctor about any concerns you may have about getting your child off to a great start.
Aside from being an easy snack for the office, yogurt is chock full of ingredients that help your body run smoothly, no matter what age you are.
Although yogurt has long been a staple in the health food world, it has become even more popular thanks to Greek yogurt. Whether you eat it plain, low-fat, greek, frozen, from a tube or a bottle, or in your smoothies, yogurt has health benefits beyond good old calcium. Read on for the lowdown on its many health benefits.
1. The probiotics.
You know yogurt has probiotics because every commercial for yogurt says so, but what does that actually mean? In the simplest of terms, probiotics are good-for-you bacteria. They help in regulating your digestive system and decreasing gas, diarrhea and bloating. Research has even suggested that probiotics can aid in boosting your immune system, help you manage your weight and reduce the risk of cancer.
2. The calcium.
Just like all products in the dairy family, yogurt is a great source of calcium, which plays a huge role in the development and maintenance of strong bones and teeth. It is also important for blood clotting, healing wounds and maintaining a normal blood pressure. Some yogurts contain vitamin D, which helps the small intestine absorb calcium to its fullest potential, so finding those yogurts or pairing yogurt with foods high in vitamin D is always a good idea.
3. The protein.
Plain yogurt made from whole milk is a rich source of protein, which can increase the absorption of minerals, promote lower blood pressure and aid in weight loss.
4. The vitamins.
Yogurt made with whole milk contains every single nutrient the human body needs. Yogurt contains vitamin B12, which keeps your nerves and red blood cells healthy and can only be found in foods originating from an animal. Vitamin B2, or riboflavin, is also in yogurt. This helps the body convert carbohydrates into glucose, or 'food into fuel.'
Want to incorporate yogurt into your diet, but don't want to be stuck with buying processed, sugary yogurt cups? Check out Canadian Living's recipes:
Heart disease and stroke are one of the leading causes of death for Canadian women—and risk factors, symptoms and even treatment might vary by age. Here's what you need to know.
It was Dec. 13, 2014. I was getting ready to go out for dinner when suddenly everything went wrong. I lost coordination, almost like I was drunk. I went numb, as if the local anesthetic that dentists use had been applied to half of my body. My arm went limp, I could barely walk and, out of the blue, I got a raging migraine. At 31 years old, I was in the midst of a transient ischemic attack, often called a ministroke, but I had no idea.
It wasn't until the next day, when I was feeling only slightly better, that I realized something was really wrong. I didn't want to wait for an appointment with my family doctor, so I called Telehealth Ontario, the provincial service that connects callers to a registered nurse via telephone. In the very back of my mind, I wondered if I'd had a stroke—but I was too young, or so I thought. But when I described my symptoms, it became clear that I wasn't too young. In fact, the nurse who took my call was worried enough to send paramedics to my house. Soon, I was in the back of an ambulance, rushing through Toronto's busy streets on the way to the hospital.
The statistics Luckily, my stroke was mild, and, in July 2015, I underwent surgery to have a patent foramen ovale closure device inserted to close the hole in my heart. But, to this day, I'm still shocked at how little I knew about the risks associated with stroke and heart disease, or just how common they are. As I soon learned, about 1.6 million Canadians—557,000 of them women over the age of 24—report having cardiovascular disease. And, according to a study looking at factors and behaviours affecting cardiovascular health published in 2013 in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, fewer than one in 10 adult Canadians were in ideal cardiovascular health from 2003 to 2011, which means 90 percent of us are making choices that are increasing our risk for a cardiovascular event. In fact, heart disease and stroke is one of the leading causes of death for Canadian women, and most of us have at least one risk factor.
It's a club that I didn't particularly want to be a part of, but having joined, I began wondering what other women's experiences had been like.
Unlike me, when Victoria resident Carolyn Thomas started having a range of symptoms— crushing chest pain, nausea, weakness, sweating and a persistent ache down her left arm—on her 58th birthday, she immediately thought it could be a heart attack and went straight to the ER. But when she got there and told the doctor on duty about her symptoms, he said it was just acid reflux. "I remember exactly what he said," she recalls. " 'You're in the right demographic for acid reflux. Go home and call your family doctor for a prescription for antacids.' " Embarrassed and apologetic, she did just that. But her symptoms persisted for two more weeks. She eventually went back to the hospital, and this time, she was told she was suffering from what was actually one of the most serious types of heart attacks—a complete blockage of her left anterior descending artery, which is often referred to as the widow-maker.
Since then, she has recovered, but it's far from full—she had to retire early and continues to see a specialist at her regional pain clinic.
Irmine MacKenzie also went to the hospital immediately. It's been 35 years since the New Waterford, N.S., resident lost the use of her left arm and leg after suffering a stroke caused by carotid artery stenosis, narrowing of the arteries that carry blood from the heart to the brain. She was 61 years old and, having just finished eating breakfast with her husband, John, she headed to the kitchen to tackle the dishes. Suddenly, plates started dropping from her hands, shattering as they hit the floor.
After a six-week hospital stay and a three-month stint in a rehabilitation program in Halifax, she eventually learned to walk again. Her ability to manage quite well over the past three decades is clearly a testament to her grit— and maybe some kind words from a stranger. "I won't ever forget the ambulance driver who took me to the rehabilitation centre," she says. "He told me, 'We're taking you by stretcher now, but you'll be walking out of there with a cane.' " Sure enough, that's exactly what she did.
A better understanding It has now been two years since I suffered my transient ischemic attack, and I feel like I'm still learning about heart health. I now understand the importance of cardiac rehabilitation, for one thing. When I had my stroke, I didn't know this kind of program existed—my cardiologist didn't refer me to one, but having access to dedicated professionals in a safe, encouraging environment could have helped me navigate the health-care system and guided me toward healthier choices.
One thing I found myself, Carolyn and Irmine echoing is how, as women, we must advocate for ourselves in the health-care system, ensuring that our voices are heard and our health is looked after. We need to put ourselves first, without shame or guilt. As Dr. Paula Harvey, director of the cardiovascular research program at Women's College Hospital in Toronto, says, "It comes back to education and partnership with your health provider. Don't be afraid to ask questions and be informed."
Heart health by the decade Nearly two-thirds of all heart attacks and strokes occur in Canadians 65 or older, but younger Canadians are increasingly at risk. Here's what you need to know at every age.
In your 20s and 30s: Young people with heart-health issues are part of a growing minority. A study published in 2012 out of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine found that, over a period of 12 years, strokes among people aged 20 to 54 made up an increasingly greater proportion of strokes across all age groups, growing from about 13 percent in 1993–94 to 19 percent in 2005.
Closer to home, the Heart and Stroke Foundation says several studies predict that the rate of strokes among younger adults will double in the next 15 years. The main reason? According to Dr. Tara Sedlak, a cardiologist at Vancouver General Hospital and clinical assistant professor at The University of British Columbia, it comes down to lifestyle—high stress levels, poor eating habits, lack of exercise and smoking. Research bears this out: The University of Cincinnati study suggested that a rise in lifestyle-related risk factors (such as diabetes, obesity and high cholesterol) may contribute to a higher incidence of stroke.
But there is a way to turn the tide: As with other age groups, simple changes such as exercising regularly, quitting smoking and eating healthily could see the rates of cardiovascular disease—and, more specifically, stroke—decrease, says Dr. Paula Harvey, director of the cardiovascular research program at Women's College Hospital in Toronto.
In your 40s and 50s: Cardiovascular disease is less common among younger women, in part because of their higher estrogen levels; the hormone offers some protection to the arteries. But as women approach menopause and their estrogen levels drop, the incidence of stroke and heart attack increases.
Unfortunately, broad knowledge of their increased risk may not protect perimenopausal women from misdiagnosis. According to research by the Canadian Medical Protective Association, which provides advice, legal assistance and risk-management education to 95,000 Canadian physicians, doctors are missing the signs of stroke in patients nearly 10 percent of the time, largely because symptoms are often nonspecific—patients often complained of headache, dizziness, nausea and vomiting.
And women, who have historically been less inclined to advocate for themselves, are particularly at risk. Research out of the University of Leeds in England showed that, between April 2004 and March 2013, 198,534 heart attack patients at National Health Service hospitals in England and Wales were initially misdiagnosed—and most of them were women. During that time, women suffering a heart attack were 50 percent more likely to be misdiagnosed compared to men.
It might be difficult to challenge doctors who tell you nothing's wrong, but Dr. Sedlak encourages women to listen to their bodies and to be firm with health-care providers about what they're experiencing. "If you feel there is a real problem, be persistent," she says.
In your 60s and beyond: Women over 65 have the most strokes of all age groups, but they still have fewer strokes than men the same age. However, a Danish study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association in 2015 found that, after 60, women tend to have more serious strokes than men—and they're more likely to survive, which can have serious repercussions on quality of life.
John Sawdon, the public education and special projects director of the Cardiac Health Foundation of Canada, explains that cardiac rehabilitation programs, which are free with a referral from your doctor, are the perfect next step for recovering cardiac patients of all ages, but they're particularly important for older Canadians, who tend to live more sedentary lives. These programs are supervised by a cardiologist and, after an assessment, are tailored by your cardiac rehab team, which usually includes nurses, physical therapists, kinesiologists and social workers. They can provide exercise training, education on heart-healthy living and stress counselling—all of which can contribute to the health and well-being of people who have heart problems. And they're effective, too: "Research has shown that those completing cardiac rehab live seven years longer than control groups," says Sawdon. It also "reduces incidence of another heart attack by 50 percent."
What's your risk? Ninety percent of adult Canadians have at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease. But while factors such as obesity, hypertension, alcohol abuse, family history and ethnicity increase everyone's risk, regardless of gender, the following three are particularly relevant to women.
Smoking: While we all know that smoking is seriously unhealthy, it can be especially damaging to women's cardiovascular health. Smoking when taking the oral contraceptive pill can drastically increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. But quitting can cut your risk within a year.
Diabetes: According to the Canadian Diabetes Association, people with diabetes are at a very high risk of developing cardiovascular disease. In fact, "they may develop heart disease 10 to 15 years earlier than individuals without diabetes."
Mental illness and stress: "Women have a higher frequency of stress-induced heart disease, and women's hearts are affected by stress and depression more than men's," says Dr. David Fitchett, a cardiologist at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto and associate professor of medicine at the University of Toronto.
Heart health dictionary
Atherosclerosis: When arteries narrow and harden due to plaque buildup.
Cardiomyopathhy: Diseases of the heart muscle, which cause it to become enlarged, thick or rigid.
Cardiovascular disease: A broad term for problems with the heart and blood vessels, often due to atherosclerosis. These conditions can lead to heart attack, angina or stroke.
Heart attack: Also known as a myocardial infarction, these attacks happen when the flow of blood to a section of the heart is blocked, preventing the muscle from getting oxygen.
High blood pressure: Also called hypertension, this is when the long-term force of blood against artery walls is elevated, requiring the heart to work harder, which may eventually lead to heart disease.
Microvascular angina: A disease of the small coronary artery blood vessels. Many angiograms do not view the small blood vessels, so this can be difficult to diagnose.
Spontaneous coronary artery dissection: A tear in the coronary artery wall. Physical or emotional stress appears to play a role. Most cases (around 70 percent) occur in women under 50—and a third of those are pregnant or postpartum women.
Stroke: When the blood supply to a portion of the brain is interrupted. This can happen when a blood vessel carrying oxygen and nutrients to the brain either bursts or is blocked.
From lunges to overhead presses, our do-it-all workout routin gets your heart rate up, builds muscles and burns calories.
If you're exhausted just thinking about what you need to accomplish at the gym—get your heart rate up,
build muscle, protect your bones—you're not alone. This dynamic routine from certified personal trainer Justine Keyserlingk, owner of Toronto's
Just Get Fit, lets you target all of your health goals in a single session.
Do this eight-move workout two or three times a week, interspersing cardio (running, walking or cycling) in between. And as always, if you feel any pain while exercising, stop and consult a health-care provider.
1. Lateral lunge with overhead press Standing with your feet together and holding weights at your shoulders, take a large step to the left, bending your left knee and keeping your right leg straight. Send energy through your left heel to push yourself back to centre, then lift the weights overhead, extending your arms. Lower the weights to your shoulders. Do 10 reps before switching to the opposite side.
A.Lifting weights overhead gives your heart a workout; your blood needs to pump against gravity.
B. Simultaneously working your arms and legs uses multiple large muscle groups, which means you're burning more calories.
C. Studies have shown that resistance training, also called weight training, may improve bone mineral density in the spine, hips and wrists.
2. One-legged dead lift Standing with your feet together and holding weights at your sides, slowly hinge forward at the hips while bending your left knee slightly and extending your right leg behind you. Lower your torso and lift your right leg until both are parallel to the floor, keeping your back straight and your arms extended downward. Send energy through your left heel to lift your torso and return to a standing position. Do 10 reps before switching to the opposite side.
A. This move works often-forgotten muscle groups: the glutes and the hamstrings.
B. Standing on one leg
improves your balance, which may help prevent falls. And that stretch you feel in your hamstring promotes flexibility—being limber protects against future muscle injuries.
Tip: If you have trouble balancing, start by holding onto the back of a chair with one hand.
3. Sumo squat with biceps curl Stand with your feet a little more than shoulder-width apart, with your hips, knees and feet turned out slightly. Engaging your core and holding weights in front of your hips, palms facing forward, lower your bum, as far as you can go, into a squat. Make sure your knees don't extend past your toes. Send energy through your heels to return to standing, then bend your elbows to pull the weights toward your shoulders. Do 20 reps.
A. This load-bearing exercise not only builds bone density but also
increases strength and stability, preventing falls that put bones at risk.
B. This move will help tone your abdominals, biceps, inner thighs and glutes.
C. Strengthening these muscles will give your resting metabolism a boost, so you will burn more calories per day.
4. Plyometric lunge Standing with your feet together, step forward into a lunge with your left foot, bending both knees at 90 degrees. Your right heel should be lifted and your left knee shouldn't extend past your toes. As you step forward, swing your right arm forward and your left arm backward. Keeping your torso upright and engaging your abdominals, jump, simultaneously switching your arms and legs to land in a lunge on the opposite side. Do 20 reps.
A. The impact of landing in a lunge can help build bone mass and
enhance joint stability. Take care, however, if you have existing joint problems—plyometric (explosive) exercises can contribute to joint strain.
B. The jumping motion requires you to lift your body weight with each rep, giving your heart a workout. This dynamic exercise adds a calorie-burning cardio element.
Tip: If you're having trouble keeping your balance during this fast-paced move, add a small pulse or bounce to each lunge before jumping into the next one.
5. Renegade row Holding a weight in each hand, start in a plank position, with your arms and legs extended, your feet hip-width apart and your hands directly below your shoulders. Keeping your hips parallel to the floor, bend your left arm, lifting the weight toward your underarm. Return the weight to starting position. Repeat on the opposite side. Do 20 reps.
A. This move helps open up the chest and shoulders. Over time, it can contribute to improved posture and help protect against spine curvature.
B. This exercise will sculpt your shoulders, triceps, abdominals, obliques and upper back. It's easy to develop muscle imbalances because day-to-day activities often involve pushing movements. The pulling action of this exercise helps rebalance muscle groups, which can
decrease the risk of injury.
6. Cross-body mountain climber Start in a plank position, with your arms and legs extended, your feet hip-width apart and your hands directly below your shoulders. Without moving your arms, quickly draw your left knee toward your right elbow, then return your left leg to starting position. Repeat on the opposite side. Do 20 reps.
A. If you do this move regularly, you'll notice more definition of your triceps, abdominals, obliques and shoulder muscles.
B. This high-intensity movement will get your heart rate up, improving your cardiovascular fitness.Because this exercise demands energy from your whole body, you'll
burn extra calories.
7. Side plank with hip drop Lying on your right side, stack your left leg on top of your right leg, with your right forearm on the floor, your elbow aligned directly under your shoulder, and your left arm extended upward. Press into your right forearm and lift your right hip, creating a long diagonal line with your body. Slowly lower your right hip to tap the floor, then return to the lifted position. Do 10 reps before switching to the opposite side.
A. This exercise will help define your obliques, abdominals and
B. Strengthening one side of the body at a time can prevent muscle imbalances, while core strengthening aids in stabilization.
8. Russian twist Sit on the floor, with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor, holding a weight in front of your chest. Leaning back to engage your core, lift your feet a few inches. Then, with hips facing forward, rotate your upper body to the left and tap the weight on the floor. Next, rotate to the right, tapping the weight on the right side. Do 20 reps.
A. If you do this exercise regularly, you'll see increased definition of your abs, obliques and lower-back muscles.
B. This rotational movement strengthens the muscles necessary for twisting and turning—motions that often cause injury in
Tip: If you have lower-back problems, do this exercise without lifting your feet.
Sugary drinks contain a lot of empty calories and have been linked to numerous health issues. Learn how to kick these drinks to the curb with five healthy alternatives.
Trading in your sugary chai latte for a chai tea made with steamed milk may seem like the end of the world. But, changing your diet can be easier – and yummier - than you think.
"The number one source of added sugar in our diet is from sugar-sweetened beverages," says Amanda Nash, a registered dietitian with the Heart and Stroke Foundation. Sugary drinks include things such as iced flavoured coffees, sports drinks, pop and fruit juice.
One problem with sugary drinks is that they don't leave you feeling as full as solid foods do– even if they both have the same amount of calories. After drinking a sugary drink, even though you might have consumed hundreds of calories, you're still hungry and you will continue to eat as if you'd consumed nothing at all. "That's really how sugar-sweetened beverages can add to extra caloric intake," says Nash.
The Heart and Stroke Foundation recommends that your total intake of added sugars does not exceed ten percent of your total daily calories (and ideally five percent). "To put that into perspective, ten percent for the average person eating a 2000-calorie diet would be 48 grams," explains Nash. This may seem like a lot but one can of pop usually has about 35 grams of added sugar.
"Use almond or coconut milk blended with one cup of berries or other frozen fruit per serving," suggests Sara Jafari, a registered dietitian based in Toronto. Check the label to make sure the coconut or almond milk is unsweetened – most have added sugar.
2. Homemade iced tea
Leave the sugar-sweetened iced tea on the shelves. "Brew a naturally sweet tea like apple cinnamon tea, mint tea or berry tea," says Nash. Leave the tea bags in and let it chill in the fridge overnight. You could even make a fizzy iced tea by adding soda water to your homemade iced tea.
3. Carbonated water
If you love drinking pop, then carbonated water is a great option for you. Nash suggests livening up your water by adding lemon, lime, grapefruit, fresh berries, mint or herbs. Even a splash of fruit juice will help to minimize your sugar intake.
4. Chocolate and white milk combo
Although plain milk or a milk alternative, like soy, almond or coconut milk, should always be the first choice, some people can't escape their sweet tooth. If you really like flavoured beverages, fill a glass with half chocolate milk and half white milk. Plain milk contains important vitamins and minerals. It also leaves you feeling full!
5. Herbal tea
If you want a delicious hot drink, then herbal tea is the way to go. Teas can be sugary beverages, depending on how you prepare them, so make sure you take it plain. You'll find adding extra sugar isn't necessary because it already has a sweet flavour. With no added sugar, it can be a healthy way to satisfy your craving for a hot beverage. Some great herbal tea options are ginger, dandelion, hibiscus and rooibos.
Tips on sweeteners:
• Alternatives: Try sweetening your tea with raw honey or stevia. Flavouring your coffee with cinnamon is also a great alternative to adding sugar.
• Use sparingly: Nash suggests limiting the amount of sweeteners you add to your food and beverages. Over time you will adapt to natural flavours and enjoy beverages without added sweetness.
• Ditch diet drinks: "Diet" drinks and drinks made with artificial sweeteners are good for providing a sweet flavour without calories. But, artificial sweeteners can be tricky. Jafari explains that sometimes, artificial sweeteners can come from natural sources, such as herbs – but, they can also be derived from sugar itself! These drinks also do not offer any nutritional or health benefits.
Tips on label reading:
• Be aware of health halos: Jafari explains that lots of drinks like vitamin enriched water and coconut water are advertised as being healthy when in fact they contain added sugar. Be wary of these and coconut water because it naturally contains a lot of sugar.
• Be cautious of the word "original": Almond and coconut milk are often labeled as "original," so people think nothing has been added to them. But, these "original" drinks usually have added sugar - look for the word "unsweetened."
• Watch out for hidden sugars: Sugar can be listed in the ingredients under many different names. Nash says anything that ends in "ose," such as glucose, sucrose or dextrose, is sugar. Maple syrup and corn syrup are also different types of sugar.