Natural Mosquito Repellent Ideas: Banishing Bugs the Eco-Friendly Way

With the arrival of warm weather, the pleasant ambiance of outdoor activities often comes with an unwelcome guest—the mosquito. These tiny yet relentless creatures can turn a peaceful evening into an itchy nightmare. While commercial mosquito repellents are readily available, many of them contain potentially harmful chemicals. Thankfully, nature provides us with a wide array of effective and environmentally-friendly alternatives. In this blog post, we will explore several natural mosquito repellent ideas that will help you keep those pesky insects at bay while maintaining a sustainable lifestyle.

1. Citronella Oil:
Citronella oil is perhaps one of the most well-known natural mosquito repellents. Derived from the lemongrass plant, this essential oil has strong mosquito-repelling properties. To create your own citronella-based repellent, mix a few drops of citronella oil with a carrier oil, such as coconut oil or jojoba oil, and apply it to exposed skin. You can also burn citronella candles or use citronella-based outdoor torches to create a protective barrier against mosquitoes.

2. Essential Oils:
Various essential oils possess natural mosquito-repelling properties. Some of the most effective ones include lavender, eucalyptus, peppermint, and tea tree oil. Create your own DIY repellent spray by combining a few drops of these oils with water in a spray bottle. Shake well and apply it to your skin and clothes before heading outdoors. Remember to patch test any new essential oil on a small area of your skin to ensure you don’t have an allergic reaction.

Source: Trongtokit, Y., Rongsriyam, Y., Komalamisra, N., & Apiwathnasorn, C. (2005). Comparative repellency of 38 essential oils against mosquito bites. Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association, 21(1), 80-83.

3. Neem Oil:
Derived from the seeds of the neem tree, neem oil is a powerful natural insect repellent. It disrupts the mosquito’s feeding and reproductive cycles, making it an excellent long-term solution. Mix neem oil with a carrier oil and apply it to your skin. You can also add a few drops to your body lotion or moisturizer for added protection. Neem oil is safe for both adults and children but should not be used on infants under the age of two months.

Source: Kumar, V., Prakash, S., & Kirti, S. (2012). Mosquito repellent activity of neem (Azadirachta indica) oil. Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association, 28(2), 136-139.

4. Garlic:
While it may seem surprising, garlic is an effective mosquito repellent due to its potent smell. Consuming garlic regularly can make your body produce a scent that deters mosquitoes. Additionally, you can create a homemade garlic spray by crushing several garlic cloves and mixing them with water. Let the mixture sit overnight, strain it, and pour it into a spray bottle. Spray it around your outdoor living areas to keep mosquitoes at bay.

Source: Rajkumar, S., Jebanesan, A., & Pushpanathan, T. (2005). Garlic and neem oil as effective mosquito larvicides. Indian Journal of Medical Research, 121(4), 885-889.

5. Natural Herbs and Plants:
Several herbs and plants have natural mosquito-repelling properties. Planting them in your garden or keeping potted versions on your patio can help create a mosquito-free zone. Some examples include basil, lemongrass, rosemary, catnip, and marigolds. Not only will these plants repel mosquitoes, but they also add beauty and fragrance to your outdoor spaces.

Source: Maia, M. F., & Moore, S. J. (2011). Plant-based insect repellents: a review of their efficacy, development, and testing. Malaria Journal, 10(Suppl 1), S11.

When it comes to protecting ourselves from mosquitoes, there’s no need to rely solely on chemical-laden commercial repellents. Nature provides us with a wealth of natural alternatives that are both effective and eco-friendly. Whether you opt for citronella oil, essential oils, neem oil, garlic, or natural herbs and plants, these natural mosquito repellent ideas will help you enjoy the outdoors while keeping those pesky bugs at bay. Embrace these natural solutions and bid farewell to chemical-laden repellents, knowing that you’re doing your part for the environment and your well-being.

Here’s a simple and effective recipe for a natural mosquito repellent spray using essential oils:

• 10 drops of citronella essential oil
• 10 drops of lavender essential oil
• 5 drops of eucalyptus essential oil
• 5 drops of peppermint essential oil
• 2 tablespoons of witch hazel
• 1 tablespoon of pure vegetable glycerin (optional)
• 1 cup of distilled water
• 1 spray bottle

1. Begin by preparing your spray bottle. Make sure it is clean and sterilized to avoid any contamination.
2. In the spray bottle, combine the witch hazel and vegetable glycerin. Witch hazel acts as a dispersing agent and helps the essential oils mix well with water, while glycerin helps the spray adhere to the skin for a longer-lasting effect. If you don’t have vegetable glycerin, you can omit it from the recipe.
3. Add the drops of citronella, lavender, eucalyptus, and peppermint essential oils to the mixture in the spray bottle. These oils have strong mosquito-repelling properties and will create a potent repellent blend.
4. Gently swirl the spray bottle to mix the ingredients together.
5. Fill the rest of the spray bottle with distilled water, leaving a little space at the top to shake the mixture before each use.
6. Close the spray bottle tightly and shake it well to ensure all the ingredients are thoroughly combined.
7. Your natural mosquito repellent spray is now ready to use! Before heading outdoors, give the bottle a good shake and spray the solution onto exposed skin, clothing, and any areas prone to mosquito bites.
Note: It’s always a good idea to perform a patch test on a small area of your skin before applying the spray to ensure you don’t have any allergic reactions to the essential oils. If you experience any irritation, discontinue use.
Remember to reapply the spray every few hours or as needed, especially if you’re sweating or spending an extended period outdoors.
Enjoy your time outdoors with this natural and effective mosquito repellent recipe!

How to Choose a Naturopathic Doctor

When you first begin your journey with naturopathic care, you will need to find someone that you want to work with. There are many different factors to consider when making this decision; do they have experience with my condition? Do they like treating my condition? What is their approach? Do they do testing? Do I want testing? This post will provide guidance on the most and least helpful ways to build your healthcare team.

Let’s start with the least helpful ways to choose an ND:

1.The busiest schedule. 

It’s not uncommon for patient’s to request the ND that is booking the farthest out. The rationale? They must be good if they are that busy. The flaw in this thought? Not all NDs work the same hours. We are self-employed which means we are free to set our hours. Some NDs work only one day per week while others work five days per week. Those who work less days in a week see less patients in a week which means it takes longer to see them. Those who work more days have more available hours which means it is faster to see them. However, there is not necessarily a difference in their experience. They are simply just working the hours that best suit their individual lives.

2.Testimonials & Reviews (including Google Reviews)

You likely did not know this about me but I sit on the regulatory board of Saskatchewan Naturopathic Doctors. This means that, in my spare time (haha!), I volunteer to keep the practice of naturopathy safe for the community. An important part of keeping folks safe is ensuring that reviews are kept to a minimum*. I know that probably seems really odd. But here’s the deal: NDs are not permitted to ask for and/or post reviews of any kind. Why? The answer is simple. We cannot know if those reviews are coming from actual patients or friends of the ND. In other words, there is a chance that the reviews that you are reading to determine whether or not you should see that ND are not true reviews from patients. Further, NDs are not permitted to respond to reviews as this breaks patient confidentiality. Since the regulatory board is here to protect the public, we simply cannot allow reviews without knowing if it is truly a patient (and also not a friend with bias) and we cannot know this because of patient confidentiality. Whew, right?

*Google reviews are a grey area because – at this time – they cannot be turned off and they cannot be deleted. However, NDs are still not permitted to ask for Google reviews. Since they cannot be deleted, it may also happen where providers will receive negative reviews from folks who never actually enter the clinic. They are highly unreliable.

Okay, so then….what should you consider?

I always tell potential patients: You need to choose someone who provides an approach that resonates with you. Period. If you love biohacking, find an ND who offers biohacking protocols. If you like evidence-based medicine and research, find an ND who offers evidence-based medicine. If you adore homeopathy, find an ND who offers homeopathy. If you want IV therapy, find an ND who provides IV therapy. If you know that you want to do advanced testing, find an ND that offers it. We have a wealth of practitioners with different approaches in our community. Look at their websites, ask your friends or family for feedback and if you want to know if they have the experience to treat your condition, call the clinic and ask.

And if it is helpful, here is how I source my healthcare providers as someone who is a healthcare provider:

1.I ask around. And then I ask some more. Some questions might be:

What do you like about them?

Were you able to follow through on their recommendations?**

Did you feel comfortable to ask questions? Were you given space to ask questions?

** I’ve come to realize that this question is a very important one. People will often say “it did nothing for me” however, upon questioning, you might realize that they didn’t actually implement any changes. Or they might have tried a couple of things and then never went back. Healthcare is an ever-evolving journey. It truly requires dedication, depth and effort. For this reason, I always ask folks about the long game. 

2.  I look at their website and social media if they have it. 

I’m not really interested in their credentials unless I am looking for a specific modality. Rather, I want to know what kind of person they are. Could I jive with them? Would I feel comfortable with them? I ask these questions lightly knowing that building rapport takes time.


If you are in the market for an ND, I hope the above will help you find one that suits your needs. Since the definition of health and wellness can vary for every single one of us, it is ideal that you craft your unique team that will help you meet your wellness goals. We truly have a diverse and talented crowd of NDs in the province of Saskatchewan. I wish you all luck in building the healthcare team of your dreams!

Cleaning Out Your Pantry

“The best way to serve our unique nutritional needs is to empower ourselves with knowledge, listen to our bodies and respond with healthy, nourishing choices.”

~ Terry Walters

With the change in season comes the desire to make goals, make changes, live better and feel healthier.  An area we can have a significant impact on is what we choose to nourish ourselves with.  With the rising amount and availability of processed and convenience foods, our nutrition has veered too far from the nutrient dense, whole foods.  As a result, diseases such as diabetes, obesity, heart disease, cancer, autoimmune and mental illnesses are on the rise.  Each item of food we choose to eat should serve a single goal of nourishment to our body, allowing the body to live to its healthiest and fullest by providing the very essence for work and play. 

Cleaning out the pantry by replacing foods that hinder health with life giving, nutrient rich foods can help you create healthier patterns, feel better and prevent disease.   

1. Begin by getting rid of any foods containing:

White and Brown Refined Sugar and High Fructose Corn Syrup
Canadians consume, on average, 110 grams of sugar a day, which is equivalent to 46 teaspoons. Refined sugar has been overly processed, essentially voiding itself of any nutrients. As a result, consuming refined sugar does not provide any nutrient value to the body and is only a source of empty calories.  When sugar is consumed, excess amounts are stored in the liver and eventually are returned to the bloodstream as fatty acids, which ultimately end up as fat. In addition to contributing to diabetes and obesity, consumption of refined sugar has been linked to a weakened immune system, yeast infections, hyperactivity, ADHD, mental and emotional disorders and chemical imbalances in the brain.

Sugar is hiding in many different food items; therefore, when trying to get rid of foods that contain processed sugar, label reading is essential.  Sugar can be identified as glucose, sucrose, fructose, sucralose, dextrose, maltose, maltodextrin and high fructose corn syrup, to name a few. Some common food items that sugar can be lurking in are cereals, crackers, bread, candy, pasta sauces, salad dressings and condiments.

Trans Fats and Saturated Fats
Trans fats are synthetically derived fats that are identified as hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils.  Saturated fats are solid at room temperature, such as margarine, red meat, and shortening.  Consuming foods high in trans and saturated fats increase inflammation in the body and are the number one leading cause of heart disease.  These unhealthy fats can be found not only in butter and oils, but also in chips, cookies, cereals, breads and just about any highly processed food item.

Oils to have on hand include  olive, flax, avocado and sesame oils. Even though it is a saturated fat, coconut oil is also good to have on hand because it can be safely heated at high temperatures.

White flour/Pasta
Food products containing white flour such as pastas, crackers, breads and cereals are simple carbohydrates that adversely affect health.  White flour begins as the whole grain; however, through processing it is stripped of its vitamins, minerals, fibre and enzymes, which leaves a product with no nutritional value.  As a result, like sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, white flour products elevate blood sugar levels, contributing to diabetes, weight gain, fluctuating energy levels, mood swings and decreased immune system.

Regular Table Salt

Regular table salt is mined from underground salt deposits and more heavily processed to remove minerals and tends to have additives to prevent clumping.  Sea salt, on the other hand, is made from evaporated seawater and contains other trace minerals, which offer many health benefits such as thyroid support, muscle and immune health.

Anything That Has More Than 3 Unrecognizable Ingredients
The Rule of 3 is a great way to prevent consuming food items that contain unhealthy ingredients.  If you read a label of a food product that has more than 3 ingredients that you do not understand, get rid of or do not purchase it.  Get your children involved! They love being detectives and can have a lot of fun with this.  Include them while cleaning out and restocking your pantry.

2.  Replace the items with healthy options:

Throw Away: White/brown processed sugar; high fructose corn syrup; cookies and snacks sweetened with them, and sweetened peanut butter.

Replace With:  Coconut sugar, brown rice syrup, maple syrup, honey and stevia, cookies sweetened with any of this list or evaporated cane juice (Kashi and Made Good are good brands), all natural peanut butter or almond butter.


Throw Away: Margarine and shortening and regular potato chips that are high in unhealthy fats.

Replace With: Olive, flax seed, sesame, coconut and grape seed oil, rice chips, vegetable chips and kale chips.


Throw Away: White flour products including pasta and crackers.

Replace With: Spelt, buckwheat or brown rice pasta, rice chips/crackers, brown rice and quinoa.


Throw Away: Regular table salt and products containing high sodium (canned soup, salad dressings and sauces).

Replace With:  Sea salt, homemade salad dressings using olive oil and balsamic vinegar or lemon juice.

100 Days of Real Food is a great resource for switching from processed to whole foods.

Keeping the goal in mind that each item of food we choose to eat should serve as a source of nutrients to the body can be helpful when making the lifestyle change to clean out your pantry and restock it with healthy foods.  The nutrients gained from our food acts as the foundation for the rest of our health.  If we provide our body what it needs to function properly, health and vitality will result!

Recharge Your Body the Healthy Way: Say Goodbye to Sugary Sports Drinks and Hello to Nutrient-Rich Electrolyte Options!

Electrolytes are electrically charged particles that are dissolved in body fluids, such as blood and urine. They play a critical role in many physiological processes by helping to maintain the balance of fluids inside and outside of cells, and by carrying electrical impulses that control muscle contractions and nerve functions.

The most important electrolytes in our body are sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, chloride, bicarbonate, and phosphate. Each of these electrolytes has a unique function and concentration within the body, and imbalances in their levels can cause a range of health problems.

Sodium (Na+) and chloride (Cl-) are the primary electrolytes found in extracellular fluid, while potassium (K+) is the primary electrolyte found in intracellular fluid. Sodium and chloride help to maintain fluid balance by controlling the movement of water across cell membranes, while potassium is essential for nerve and muscle function.

Calcium (Ca2+) is also important for nerve and muscle function, as well as bone health. It helps to regulate the heartbeat, blood clotting, and the release of hormones and enzymes.

Magnesium (Mg2+) is involved in hundreds of biochemical reactions in the body, including the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats, the synthesis of proteins and DNA, and the regulation of blood pressure.

Bicarbonate (HCO3-) is a key component of the body’s buffering system, which helps to maintain the pH balance of the blood. It is produced by the pancreas and kidneys, and helps to neutralize acids that are produced during normal metabolism.

Phosphate (PO43-) is important for bone health, energy production, and the metabolism of nucleic acids and proteins.

Electrolytes are absorbed from the foods we eat and the fluids we drink, and are excreted by the kidneys and other organs as needed to maintain balance in the body. Imbalances in electrolyte levels can occur due to a variety of factors, including dehydration, kidney disease, certain medications, and hormonal imbalances. Treatment typically involves rehydration and, in severe cases, intravenous electrolyte replacement.


While Gatorade and other sports drinks are marketed as healthy options for replenishing electrolytes lost during exercise, they may not always be the best choice.

One issue is that many sports drinks contain high levels of added sugars, which can contribute to obesity, type 2 diabetes, and other health problems when consumed in excess. A typical 20-ounce bottle of Gatorade contains 34 grams of sugar, which is equivalent to more than eight teaspoons.

Additionally, many sports drinks contain artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives that can have negative health effects. For example, some artificial colors have been linked to hyperactivity and other behavioral problems in children.

Another concern is that Gatorade and other sports drinks may not be necessary for most people. While electrolyte replenishment is important for athletes and individuals who engage in prolonged or intense exercise, most people can obtain the electrolytes they need from a healthy diet.

For example, sodium can be found in many foods, including salt, canned soups, and processed meats. Potassium is found in fruits and vegetables such as bananas, oranges, and spinach, while calcium is abundant in dairy products and leafy greens. Magnesium is found in nuts, whole grains, and green leafy vegetables.

In summary, while Gatorade and other sports drinks can be beneficial for athletes and individuals engaging in prolonged or intense exercise, they should not be relied upon as a primary source of electrolytes. For most people, a balanced diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, and other nutrient-rich foods is sufficient to maintain electrolyte balance.


Benefits of incorporating electrolytes into your routine:

  1. Improved Athletic Performance

One of the most well-known benefits of electrolytes is their ability to improve athletic performance. During exercise, the body loses fluids and electrolytes through sweat. If these electrolytes are not replenished, it can lead to dehydration, muscle cramps, and fatigue. By consuming electrolytes before, during, and after exercise, athletes can improve their endurance, reduce fatigue, and enhance their overall performance.

  1. Better Hydration

Electrolytes play a critical role in maintaining fluid balance in the body. They help regulate the amount of water that is absorbed and excreted by the body, which is essential for proper hydration. Consuming electrolytes can help prevent dehydration, particularly during intense exercise or hot weather conditions.

  1. Improved Muscle Function

Electrolytes are essential for proper muscle function. They help regulate muscle contractions and prevent muscle cramps. Potassium, in particular, is important for muscle function, as it helps regulate the transfer of nutrients into muscle cells.

  1. Balanced pH Levels

Electrolytes are involved in regulating the body’s pH levels, which is essential for proper cellular function. They help maintain a balance between acid and alkaline levels in the body, which is important for overall health.

  1. Improved Cognitive Function

Electrolytes also play a role in cognitive function. Sodium, in particular, is important for proper brain function, as it helps regulate the flow of fluids in and out of brain cells. Consuming electrolytes can help improve cognitive function, particularly in situations where mental performance is critical.

In conclusion, electrolytes are essential minerals that play a variety of critical roles in the body. They are important for athletic performance, hydration, muscle function, pH balance, and cognitive function. By consuming electrolytes through foods and beverages or supplements, individuals can improve their overall health and well-being.


The recommended daily intake of electrolytes varies depending on age, gender, activity level, and other factors. However, in general, the following are recommended daily intake levels for adults:

  • Sodium: 2,300 mg or less per day (ideally 1,500 mg per day for most adults)
  • Potassium: 4,700 mg per day
  • Calcium: 1,000 mg per day (1,200 mg per day for women over 50 and men over 70)
  • Magnesium: 320-420 mg per day for women and 400-520 mg per day for men
  • Chloride: 2,300 mg or less per day


  1. Lemon-Lime Electrolyte Drink


  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons honey


  1. In a large pitcher, mix together the lemon juice, lime juice, water, salt, and honey.
  2. Stir well until the honey is dissolved.
  3. Serve chilled.


  1. Coconut Water Electrolyte Drink


  • 1 cup coconut water
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon honey


  1. In a blender, combine the coconut water, orange juice, lemon juice, salt, and honey.
  2. Blend until smooth.
  3. Serve chilled

Gut health 101

Key points:

  • Good health starts in the gut;
  • You are what you eat AND ABSORB;
  • Looking for underlying causes for the rise in chronic health concerns – leads back to gut health, and the system that ultimately runs gut health: the nervous system;
  • What we are doing differently now vs. decades to centuries ago/ cross culturally wrt food practices/ lifestyle practices
  • Given the growing scientific evidence of the importance of the gut microbiome (the collection of micro-organisms and symbiotic bacteria that support our overall gut health), it becomes even more critical to be aware of the impact of our diet on digestive function and wellness.

Overview of digestion

  • Gut: mouth, throat, stomach, intestines: small and large (colon), rectum, anus
  • Accessory organs: liver, gallbladder, pancreas, appendix, omentum
  • Nervous system: brain, vagus nerve, enteric plexus, migrating motor complex
  • Microbiome: micro – tiny; biome – living… the tiny living creatures in our gut (bacteria, yeast/ fungi, viruses)
    • Nutrient absorption
    • Make enzymes, vitamins and amino acids
    • Produce short chain fatty acids (butyrate, propionate, acetate) that keep gut lining healthy and enhance gut immunity
    • Activate flavonoids
  • Depleted by stress, diet high in processed foods/ refined carbs/ flour/ sugar/ low in fiber-rich plants, non-organic foods (pesticides, antibiotics), birth method (c-section), infant feeding, pharmaceuticals (namely antibiotics and antacids, but also others like meds for anxiety and depression), over-eating, lack of exercise, alcohol use and abuse (antiseptic)
  • Domino effect: low enzyme levels/ low acids à no killing of pathogens; set up residence, good guys killed off, putrefaction of foods vs/ healthy fermentation, toxins produced, “leakiness” of gut, irritation of gut lining, activation of immune system, overload of liver, toxic bile, recirculation of toxins, hormones, cholesterol; constipation, diarrhea


  • 4 Rs: remove (get rid of the “bad guys”: problematic foods, bacteria, viruses, yeast, parasites, etc.), replace (put back in: enzymes), re-inoculate (get the good bacteria and beneficial yeast back in), repair (the gut lining using bone broth, amino acid powders, especially l-glutamine, fish oils)
  • Remove: Take natural anti-microbials if suspected “dysbiosis” (oil of oregano, garlic, pau d’arco, etc.)
  • Remove: Avoid flours (all flours, not just gluten) and sugar, reduce/ eliminate dairy and all other problem foods for you;
  • Remove: Ensure regular bowel movements – for constipation look at magnesium, hydration, probiotics/ for diarrhea look at psyllium, charcoal, bentonite;
  • Replace: Chew food well;
  • Replace: Take enzymes/ apple cider vinegar;
  • Replace: Activate vagus nerve: stress reduction/ gargle/ sing/ relax/ pray/ move/ meditate
  • Replace & Re-inoculate: Eat fermented foods
  • Re-inoculate: Take probiotics
  • Repair: Practice fasting (12 hours minimum)
  • Repair: Leave 4-5 hours between meals
  • Repair: Castor oil packs

Functional Foods for a Healthy Gut

Over the last few years there has been an increased interest in foods that do more than just provide basic nutrition. These foods are often referred to as functional foods; a term, first introduced in Japan in the 1980’s. Functional foods have sometimes been defined as “any food or food ingredient that may provide a health benefit beyond the traditional nutrients it contains.”

Many, although not all, functional foods are whole foods which provide a rich source of fiber to the diet. As well as providing other health benefits, these foods can in turn support good gut health.


A few of many examples of Functional Foods

  • Fiber-rich foods (psyllium, chia, ground flax) – 1-2 Tbsp 2xd;
  • Bitters” (artichoke, arugula, dandelion (tea), lemons, grapefruit) as these get things squirting;
  • O Shown to reduce cholesterol and the risk of cardiovascular disease, oats are also a good source of manganese;
  • Rich in lycopene, betacarotene, and vitamin C, studies indicate that tomatoes may reduce the risk of prostate cancer.  They have also been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and to support bone health (note: some people may be sensitive to tomatoes if they need to avoid nightshades);
  • These may help reduce the risk of urinary tract infections while providing a rich source of antioxidants;
  • Studies show that a diet high in cruciferous vegetables is linked to a reduced risk for cancer;
  • Lacto-fermented foods. Those foods which have been made by allowing natural bacteria and yeast to feed on the sugars and starches in foods. This process creates enzymes, increases nutritional content, and adds beneficial probiotics to the foods.

Types of Fermented Foods

Found in many cultures around the world, fermented foods are a healthy way to support overall gut health.  Examples of different types of lacto-fermented foods include:

  • Traditionally fermented sauerkraut
  • A spicy fermented cabbage dish from Korea.
  • Soybeans that have been naturally fermented, found in a number of Asian cultures.
  • A fermented tea, origins unknown but it appears in many cultures.
  • Made from fermented milk, this is similar to yogurt but thinner and with more probiotic activity originating in the Caucasus mountains.



Adding these probiotic organisms to the digestive tract can improve digestive capacity. This is because they can improve the production of hydrochloric acid. Conversely when there is an excess of stomach acid, adding fermented foods can support and protect the intestinal lining.

Adding lacto-fermented foods also supports the release of digestive enzymes throughout the digestive system (stomach, pancreas, and gallbladder), these enzymes help to improve digestion, digestibility, and nutrient absorption from food.

Although lacto-ferments, are easy to make at home, they do require monitoring, temperature control, and an understanding of the fermentation process. Purchasing these, either at a grocery store or online, may be a simpler option, especially for those just getting starting with adding these types of foods to their diet.

Challenge: Add at least one new functional food to your daily diet – locally made fermented foods available for purchase. – locally made foods; also classes available to teach you how to ferment your own foods. – Great website that has for purchase items to get started on your own fermenting journey, as well as fantastic “how-to” guides, recipes and more (sourdough, yogurt, kombucha, kefir, vegetables, cheese and tempeh).

Simplifying Movement

When we first start thinking about incorporating a new exercise regimen or movement practice, there is often a lot of noise from the mind about what is “good enough.” We start to believe that – in order to be successful – we really ought to be at the gym 7 days per week doing a mixture of weights and cardio that will take up at least an hour of our day. Overwhelm follows quickly when it becomes apparent that we don’t actually know what to do with the equipment and we’re not even sure where we would carve an hour out of our day. Why start in the face of so many unknowns? Why start if we have already let the mind convince us that we will fail? I hope that the following broadens our thoughts around movement and removes the intimidation factor. What if all you really needed was your body, some creativity and a little sliver of motivation?

How to Move
There are so many ways to move your body. As I always say in practice, I truly don’t care what you end up doing as long as you enjoy it. Movement should be rejuvenating, stress-reducing, pleasureful and it should also support the mind-body connection. Perhaps you already have your most loved ways to move your body but if you do not, here are some lesser-thought of options: Badminton, dancing (there are some great Youtube videos!), gardening, geocaching, hula hooping, jump rope, trampolining, playing with your pets or kids, Wii fit…and let us not forget my most favourite form of movement: Walking. When the weather is particularly problematic, you can always walk indoors on the treadmill or check out Walk at Home.

Release the Hope Molecules 

When we contract and release our muscles in any way, we release myokines. These myokines are little messengers that influence our health, our hormones and our happiness. They allow our muscles to communicate with every other organ and cell in our bodies. Their impact is so widespread and so beneficial that they are often called “hope molecules.” In my opinion, one of the coolest impacts of myokines is their ability to cross the blood brain barrier and support our learning, memory and mood. There are many positive studies highlighting how myokines can ease depression symptoms and increase our resilience in times of stress. And, please note, you need not be at the gym for an hour every day to release myokines. A simple walk around the block or a few calf pumps will get them flowing.


Moving with Pain

The leading research on chronic pain conditions recommends novel movement practices. What does this really mean? When we move in new ways, we don’t give the brain a chance to siren the alarm; the new pattern is carving a new pathway in the brain in real time. This is unknown territory which means that the brain doesn’t know what to expect and therefore cannot predict if and when it will hurt. When the brain lets the body lead and the body leads into a safe and nourishing practice, the pain response lessens. Over time, this pathway becomes the dominant pathway. The standard recommendations for new movement practices in the Americas are usually yoga or qigong; however practices such as Feldenkrais or Mitzvah can be beautifully supportive as well.

Sedentary Life? Try NEAT.
If you are incorporating some joyful and fun movement into your day to day life but you do still work a desk job, take note that when the body sits for an hour or more, there is a physiological stasis effect in which your metabolic health comes to a standstill. In other words, you can still be classified as sedentary even if you exercise consistently. I know that seems cruel, however there is a very simple way to support your metabolic health at your desk job without breaking a sweat. These types of activities are classified as Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) and they include any of the following: Stretching, maintaining proper posture, standing up during a phone call, pumping your calves a few times on the floor, etc. I know that workdays can be hectic but consider setting an alarm on your computer or phone for every 20-30 minutes to remind you to take a quick NEAT break – stretch, shake out your wrists, wave to a coworker. Interestingly enough, these quick little breaks can decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.


Although the concept of exercise or movement can be intimidating, there are so many ways to move. Whether you are playing with the dog, stretching at your desk, cleaning the kitchen or walking with Youtube, you are still reaping the benefits of movement. Now that the weather has finally started to turn, I wish you a fun and nourishing spring movement regimen. Now go blast out some hope molecules!

Why You Need Your Period

Time and time again I have worked with patients who have been told they don’t need a period, and perhaps you have been told the same thing.  This couldn’t be further from the truth!  The menstrual cycle plays an important role in a woman’s overall health and in fact, having a natural menstrual cycle significantly contributes to optimal health and disease prevention.  By natural menstrual cycle, I mean a menstrual cycle free from synthetic hormones found in hormonal birth control.  To understand the difference, let’s outline what happens during the natural menstrual cycle and what happens when you take the Pill or other forms of hormonal birth control.


The natural menstrual cycle is broken into two phases, the follicular phase, and the luteal phase.  During the follicular phase, follicles on the ovary mature and produce estrogen.  Rising estrogen during this phase helps to thicken the uterine lining and open the cervix.  Peak estrogen production produces sperm friendly, fertile mucus and one follicle becomes dominant that will release an egg at ovulation (the main event of the menstrual cycle).

The second phase of the menstrual cycle is known as the luteal phase.  During the luteal phase, the hormone progesterone is dominant.  Progesterone enriches the uterine lining with blood vessels, providing nutrients for possible implantation of a fertilized egg.  If implantation does not occur, estrogen and progesterone levels drop, and vaginal bleeding or a “period” occurs.

Menstrual bleeding is a predictor of how balanced the previous cycle’s hormones were and how healthy ovulation was.


On the Pill and other forms of hormonal birth control, your body is “tricked” into thinking it has already ovulated by providing elevated levels of synthetic estrogen and progesterone.  As a result, ovulation does not occur.  Additionally, the Pill thickens and dries up the cervical mucus by blocking the body’s effect of estrogen.  And finally, the Pill thins the uterine lining by suppressing the body’s own natural estrogen and progesterone. The only reason bleeding occurs on the Pill is due to the withdrawal of synthetic hormones during the week of sugar pills.  Ultimately, your “cycle” on the Pill is not actually a cycle at all.


There are 5 major health benefits of having a natural menstrual cycle:


  1. Breast Health and Development

During puberty, estrogen produced via ovulation causes enlargement of breasts by increasing fatty tissue in the area and developing lobes, lobules, milk ducts and fibrous connective tissue that will produce and carry the milk to the nipple in the future.  Teens that take hormonal birth control are deprived of their cycle and the endogenous estrogen required for the proper breast development.


  1. Brain Health and Development

Estrogen in the follicle phase of the cycle increases serotonin receptors and the production of dopamine. Serotonin and dopamine cause neuron (brain cell) excitability, which stimulates plasticity in the hippocampus, amygdala, and prefrontal cortex of the brain.  The neuron excitability leads to an upbeat mood, increased energy levels, and improved verbal skills.  Progesterone in the luteal phase of the cycle heals and maintains brain cells.  Feelings of mellowness and decreased anxiety are experienced during this phase.

Exposure to endogenous and balanced hormones achieved through regular ovulation and menstruation is especially important for developing teen brains as their prefrontal cortices are not fully matured until mid-twenties thus affecting their decision making and risk assessment. Additionally, brain development under exposure of endogenous and balanced hormones helps to retain brain plasticity for women after menopause.

Unfortunately, the synthetic estrogen and progesterone found in hormonal birth control options do not have the same effect on the brain.  In fact, the synthetic hormones decrease serotonin levels and increase sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), which makes it harder for the body to use naturally occurring sex hormones.  As a result, those on the Pill often complain of low libido, mood disturbances, brain fog, disrupted sleep cycles, difficulty regulating body temperature, appetite, heart rate and difficulty managing stress.


  1. Immune System

The cyclical nature of estrogen and progesterone during the two phases of the menstrual cycle impact the immune system.  During the follicular phase when estrogen is highest, the immune system is also heightened.  In the luteal phase when progesterone is dominant, there is a temporary immune suppression as the body prepares for a potential pregnancy.  The cyclical nature of heightened and suppressed immune function during the menstrual cycle is important for the maturation of the cervix, important for the proper production of cervical mucus.  Cervical mucus is an important part of the immune system as it is rich in immune regulating proteins to fight infection.  Therefore, a cervix that has been able to mature under the natural cycling of hormones is better able to fight off infection like human papilloma virus (HPV).

Hormonal birth control prevents the natural cycling of estrogen and progesterone by providing a continuous amount of synthetic hormones throughout the cycle, thus preventing the natural cycling of immune response.  As a result, use of hormonal contraception may compromise one’s immunity to reproductive and systemic infection.


  1. Heart Health

Findings have shown that a woman’s resting heart rate fluctuates throughout the menstrual cycle.  During the follicular phase, resting heart rate is slower due to higher estrogen compared to a more rapid heart rate caused by progesterone during the luteal phase. In addition, estrogen helps to prevent the buildup of calcium in the arteries to help prevent coronary artery calcification (CAC).  This is important because CAC can lead to heart disease, the number one cause of death in post-menopausal women.  Progesterone is also important for heart health as it decreases blood pressure by dilating the blood vessels.

The synthetic forms of estrogen and progesterone found in hormonal birth control do not provide the same benefit as the naturally occurring hormones in a menstrual cycle.  And in fact, because you do not have a cycle on hormonal birth control, the cardiovascular benefits experienced during a natural menstrual cycle are lost.  As a result, hormonal birth control use is linked to increased risk of blood clots, stroke, heart attack, high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol.


  1. Bone Health and Development

Estrogen promotes bone growth and prevents bone break down.  Likewise, progesterone is involved in the formation and maintenance of bone and in the prevention of osteoporosis. Natural ovulation and menstruation are required for healthy bones.  The first 25 years of a woman’s life is spent building bone mass and if ovulation is happening normally, a woman should be able to keep the bone mass throughout her reproductive years and beyond.  If ovulation during prime reproductive years does not occur, bone density will be negatively impacted, and those effects will manifest during post-menopausal years.

Unfortunately, the synthetic hormones in hormonal birth control do not have the same benefit on bone health.  In fact, the synthetic progesterone (progestin) found in hormonal birth control decreases the ability to build bone mineral density.


As you can see, the intricate cycling of estrogen and progesterone during a natural menstrual cycle is crucial for optimal health!

One of my favorite resources for information on women’s health including the menstrual cycle, birth control pill and fertility awareness methods is Natural Womanhood.  My article was a summary of the research they compiled.  For more in-depth reading on the above information, please click here.

Gut-Healthy and Breastfeeding-Friendly: How Chewing Fennel Seeds Can Benefit Both Mom and Baby

Fennel seeds have been used for centuries in many cultures to support digestive health. The small, oval-shaped seeds are often consumed after a meal as a natural digestive aid. Fennel seeds are a rich source of fiber, minerals, and vitamins that can help regulate digestion and improve overall gut health.

One of the key benefits of chewing fennel seeds is their ability to relieve bloating and gas. Fennel seeds contain a compound called anethole that helps relax the muscles in the digestive tract, allowing gas to pass more easily. This can provide quick relief from uncomfortable digestive symptoms.

In addition to relieving bloating and gas, fennel seeds can also stimulate the production of digestive enzymes. Enzymes are essential for breaking down food and absorbing nutrients, and a deficiency can lead to a range of digestive problems. By promoting enzyme production, fennel seeds can help improve digestion and nutrient absorption.

Another benefit of chewing fennel seeds is their ability to soothe inflammation in the digestive tract. Fennel seeds contain anti-inflammatory compounds that can reduce swelling and irritation, which can be especially helpful for those with conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Overall, incorporating fennel seeds into your diet can be a simple and effective way to support digestive health. You can chew on a small handful of seeds after a meal, or try brewing fennel tea for a warm, soothing drink. As with any new supplement, it’s always a good idea to check with your doctor before adding fennel seeds to your routine.


Fennel seeds can also be used by breastfeeding mothers to support their infant’s digestion. When consumed by the mother, the active compounds in fennel seeds can be transferred to the baby through breast milk. Here are some tips on how to use fennel seeds to support infant digestion:

  1. Drink fennel tea: The easiest way for a breastfeeding mother to consume fennel seeds is to make fennel tea. Simply steep 1-2 teaspoons of crushed fennel seeds in hot water for 10-15 minutes, then strain and drink. This can be done several times a day to support milk production and aid in digestion.
  2. Eat fennel seeds: Chewing on fennel seeds after a meal can help both the mother and the baby with digestion. A breastfeeding mother can also add fennel seeds to soups, stews, or other dishes for a boost of flavor and digestive benefits.
  3. Use fennel oil: Fennel essential oil can also be used topically to support infant digestion. Dilute 1-2 drops of fennel oil in a carrier oil, such as coconut or olive oil, and gently massage onto the baby’s abdomen in a clockwise motion.

It’s important to note that while fennel seeds are generally considered safe for breastfeeding mothers and their infants, it’s always best to consult with a healthcare provider before incorporating any new supplements into your routine. Additionally, some infants may have an allergy or sensitivity to fennel, so it’s important to monitor your baby’s reactions and discontinue use if any adverse effects are observed.


Here’s a recipe for a fennel salad that incorporates fennel seeds for added flavor and digestive benefits:


Fennel Salad Recipe


  • 1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  1. In a large bowl, combine the sliced fennel, red onion, and parsley.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, crushed fennel seeds, salt, and pepper.
  3. Pour the dressing over the fennel mixture and toss to combine.
  4. Serve chilled as a refreshing side dish.

This salad is not only delicious, but it also incorporates the digestive benefits of fennel seeds in a tasty and easy-to-prepare dish.


Give these tiny licorice flavoured seeds a try for optimal gut health!

Inflammation – A Primer

We all know inflammation: it is the red and painful knee that swells up after we have tripped and fallen on it.  It is the sore, scratchy throat that arises when we are coming down with a cold; it is the sneezes, the drippy nose and itchy eyes that come about after exposure to a very dusty room or a pile of old fall leaves.

Acute inflammation happens when our body is exposed to a stressor, like a fall against hard concrete, a virus or a large amount of an allergenic substance.  It is a natural response of our body to attempt to deal with the stressor.  The response is the same in all cases, in Latin acute inflammation is known as “rubor”, “tumor”, “calor”, “dolor”: redness, swelling, heat & pain.

  • Our blood vessels dilate (prostaglandin signaling molecules encourage this) thus allowing blood to arrive at the site of injury (redness);
  • Within the blood that arrives at the site of injury are many particles: a significantly increased number of the white blood cells (lymphocytes, neutrophils, eosinophils, basophils, macrophages), platelets, antibodies, and chemical signaling molecules, aka cytokines, to name a few. These arrive at the site of injury and leech out into the tissues to begin their repair work (swelling);
  • This increased activity and blood and fluid flow cause increased warmth in the area (heat);
  • With all the fluid accumulating in the tissues the tissue integrity is distorted and many of the chemical signaling molecules (prostaglandins, pro-inflammatory cytokines (ILs, TNF), histamine, bradykinin and C-reactive protein to name a few) cause an irritation to the tissues (pain).

A fifth hallmark sign of inflammation that occurs as a result of the above processes is loss of function.  The swelling and pain limit our ability to function and we lose mobility in order for us not to perpetuate the injury.  This is meant to be a rapid and temporary process whereby whatever caused the initial injury is removed (we don’t keep falling/ our body successfully fights the virus/ we get ourselves away from the dusty environment/ etc.), our body can cease its inflammatory response and it can clear away the debris of cellular material that resulted from the repair efforts.

Think of having to tend to something in your home – maybe a leaking tap.  You must bring with you the tools, sealants, perhaps new pipes or valves necessary to fix the leak in the pipe.  In the process, your “repair site” (in this example, perhaps the space around your bathroom sink, where you are tending to the leak) gets messy as you fix what needs attention.  Tools are brought out, set out, used, set back down, etc.  Once you are done with the repair process, everything needs to be put away: back in the tool kit and set back neatly on your utility room shelf, for the next time they are needed.

If we left these useful tools around or didn’t quite fix the leak so kept the tools at the ready, things would be left congested and dangerous.

The site needs to be cleaned up, and so it is with the body.

Chronic inflammation results when we are continually exposed to a stressor to the body and the inflammatory response is perpetuated, and/ or when the body’s capacity to clear away the debris is overwhelmed.  In this case the swelling, pain, redness and heat generally diminish somewhat, in varying degrees depending on the person and the type of inflammation, but these symptoms do not completely resolve.  The loss of function continues and the affected tissues are no longer able to do their jobs.

This is why we are understanding, in the medical world, that all diseases can be linked back to chronic inflammation: from diabetes, cancer, arthritic diseases, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune illness, hormonal dysfunctions all the way to neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s and dementia.  Whatever tissue is being damaged (pancreas/ insulin receptors to brain cells) loses its function due to ongoing inflammation.

Perhaps you haven’t been diagnosed with one of these conditions – this doesn’t mean inflammation is not at work in your body.  Because disease exists on a spectrum with health, if you are any where outside of the optimal health spectrum for you, you likely have inflammation going on: blood sugar imbalances, frequent infections, allergies, low energy, memory issues, joint/ muscle ache, to name just a few, are all inflammatory conditions.

So what causes chronic inflammation?

This is a loaded question and many things result in the persistent tissue damage that is inflammation.  I often like to think of the “total load” theory in that our body can handle a few insults but the higher the number of insults to the system to less of an ability it will have to mount an appropriate response.  So, this might be due to a chronic infection (bacterial, viral, parasitic, fungal/ yeast/ mold), exposure to detrimental environmental factors (unhealthy air, pollutants, perfumes, molds, solvents, dust, high amounts of pollens/ grasses, etc.).

A significant cause of ongoing chronic inflammation is our diet.  Many of the foods we eat in our modern-day diet stimulate inflammation in the gut wall.  This causes a decrease in integrity of the gut wall which allows many of the pro-inflammatory molecules and allergens to pass through into the blood stream and create more issues.

Another significant cause of ongoing inflammation is poor circulation that is resultant from lack of exercise, a sedentary lifestyle, not engaging in activities (exercise, saunas, getting hot!) that allow us to sweat, avoid exposure to temperature extremes.  The latter point may seem odd but when we are constantly moving from one temperature-controlled environment to another and not having the opportunity to get hot or to get cold and allow our own bodies to thermo-regulate, a process that requires a circulatory system response they lose this ability – use it or lose it!

What can we do about it?

Following an anti-inflammatory diet is key.  You will read many different versions of anti-inflammatory diets if you search for them.  The bottom line is the need to avoid processed foods, sugars, soda pop, refined carbohydrates and minimize non-organic foods (especially meats), alcohol and caffeine.  Refined carbohydrates include breads, muffins, pastas, cookies especially those made from gluten-containing flours (like wheat).  Commercial dairy products promote inflammation and need to be avoided as do hydrogenated fats and processed oils (corn, canola, palm, soy).  Processed meats and artificial sweeteners also need to be eliminated.

And to consume lots of omega-3 fatty acid rich foods like good quality fish, avocado, extra-virgin olive oil, olives, unrefined flax oil, raw walnuts, almonds and raw seeds like hemp, flax, chia, pumpkin, sesame and sunflower.  These help to mitigate the inflammatory response.  Eating high fiber foods like vegetables and whole grains (quinoa, rice, oats) decreases many of the chemical messenger molecules that promote inflammation.  It is also important to ensure that the gut microbiome stays healthy so that means taking probiotics (“good” bacteria), eating prebiotic rich foods (fiber!) and avoiding those foods that feed pathogenic (“bad”) bacteria and yeast and other harmful microorganisms.

Healthy Foods:

  • Foods in their fresh, raw, natural state. Locally grown, organic and non-GMO where possible.
  • Foods without labels! Produce, whole grains*, eggs, nuts, seeds, good quality meat products.
  • *Gluten-free whole grains in moderation: rice, oats, quinoa, buckwheat.
  • Fruits and vegetables.
  • Wild caught or sustainably farmed seafood; free-run poultry, grass-fed, naturally raised beef and wild game.
  • Healthy fats from nuts, seeds, olives, avocado and fish; cold or expresser pressed oils.
  • Herbs and spices like turmeric, ginger, oregano, basil.
  • Enzyme rich foods like bromelain from pineapple, papain from pineapple.
  • Sulfur rich foods like onions, garlic, chives, shallots.

Foods to avoid:

  • All wheat, barley, rye and gluten containing grains.
  • Commercial dairy milk, yogurt, cheese.
  • All forms of sugar and refined flour (including products made with refined gluten-free flours).
  • Processed luncheon meats.
  • Hydrogenated fats, margarine, processed vegetable oils (corn, canola, palm, soy).
  • All fast food, processed food, GMO food.
  • Soft drinks, sodas, alcohol**, caffeine**.
  • Artificial sweeteners, aspartame, saccharin.

**minimal alcohol (maximum of 5 oz. of wine, preferably red, daily) and caffeine (equivalent to less than 250ml of coffee or black tea per day)

There is some debate about consuming nightshade family vegetables when treating inflammation.  Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and potatoes all fall into this category.  They contain large amounts of alkaloids that can be irritating to joint tissues in some people.  Being your own detective to determine if these foods impact you is of utmost importance.  In those with significant inflammatory conditions it may be necessary to eliminate eggs, legumes, and grains, in addition to those foods already listed.

Ensuring the cause of the inflammation has been treated is essential – often chronic inflammation needs to be treated with anti-microbial herbs like berberine containing herbs (Goldenseal, Oregon Grape) or high potency garlic or oregano oil should also be considered.  Individualized treatment would create your specific protocol.

You may want to consider supplementation with anti-inflammatory supplements.  Turmeric/ Curcumin packs great anti-inflammatory punch, as do potent anti-inflammatory/ antioxidant combinations like green tea extract and grapeseed, two of my favorites.  Fish oils supplements and the mineral magnesium both provide significant benefit.

Be sure to also get plenty of exercise/ movement to enhance circulation and promote lymphatic drainage.  Sweating, saunas, hot/ cold (contrast) showers, meditation, laughter, play, rest, sleep, and time spent outside in nature are also important remedies for inflammation.    Be kind to yourself and give yourself the gift of incorporating a few of these healthy habits each day!

7 Daily Tips to Improve Mood

  1. Increase Positivity
  • 3 Gratitudes: Write down 3 new things each day (for at least 21 days), which teaches the brain to scan the world for the positive first, not the negative.
  • Journaling: Writing about 1 positive experience you’ve experienced in the past 24 hours allows your brain to relive it.
  • Random acts of kindness: When you open your inbox to your email, write 1 positive email praising or thanking someone.You can also call or write to someone.

When the brain is positive, dopamine increases in the brain, making us happier.  Dopamine also turns on the learning centers in the brain, allowing us not only to learn, but also to improve our focus and concentration.


  1. Meditation
  • Allows the brain to overcome the cultural inattention we’ve created by trying to do multiple tasks at once, allowing the brain to focus on one task at a time.This helps to balance the norepinephrine levels and increase serotonin levels.

Norepinephrine is the brain messenger responsible for controlling attention and response.


  1. Engaging in activities that revitalize you
  • Listen to music, visit a museum, theater, symphony, watch TV or movies, engage in long, deep conversations with people you love or whatever makes you feel good.
  • Pleasurable activities naturally increase serotonin levels.


  1. Exercise
  • Moderate exercise done 4 consecutive days in a row increase serotonin levels.


  1. Light Therapy
  • Exposure to UVB light designed for people with seasonal affective disorder in the morning and evening increases vitamin D, serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine levels.

Dopamine is the brain messenger involved in behavior and cognition, voluntary movement, motivation and reward, sleep, mood, attention and learning.  It is involved in allowing us to develop new behaviors because a main role of dopamine is the “reward” system.


  1. Maintain a Regular Wake-Sleep Cycle
  • The production of serotonin for the next day requires at least 7 hours of sound, high quality sleep the night before.


  1. Nutrition
  • Eat protein high in tryptophan, which is required for serotonin production: Chicken, white flakey fish, lean cuts of pork, veal, cottage cheese, lamb, low fat cheeses, low fat milk and dairy products and legumes.