Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Read about my story in the Mississauga News Newspaper!

Are you ready for my next BIG news?

I am SO blessed and still shocked that my book was chosen to be covered for a story in the Mississauga Newspaper. I was contacted by the paper, who was interested in writing a piece about my journey, accomplishments, advocacy, and book. The piece is available online and in the actual newspaper! http://www.mississauga.com/community-story/4644242-book-chronicles-young-woman-s-battle-with-anorexia/

This is such a huge accomplishment and success! Not only is it an opportunity for others to know my story and read my book, but it also a chance to spread the message that true recovery is possible and that eating disorders are real, mental illnesses. It is amazing to think that at only 21 years old, I am a famous blogger, successful author, and now...being asked to do interviews for newspapers as well! God is so good to us. He used all my struggles for the good. He allowed me to suffer pain and to endure hardships in order to spread the message that hope, faith, prayers, perseverance, and strength are the key to overcoming obstacles in life.

I want to take this time to thank you all. Thank you to my family, friends, and community. Thank you to my readers - online and those who purchased my book. Thank you for your love, care, and support. I would not be here without you. and my story would not be so well-known if it were not for all the wonderful and caring people in my life. Looking back, it was only two years ago when I was dying in the ICU. Today, I have my own book, and my story is being read by many others as proof that true recovery is possible - and that faith, strength, and commitment will help you get through any challenge. Remember to stay strong and never give up. Life will always bring challenges - but know that you are stronger. One day, you will see how this challenge taught you something or helped you. It may not be right away...but one day, you will look back and realize that every experience has made you the person you are today. And you will be grateful for every tear, every battle, and every difficult moment. For now, stay strong and keep your head up high. It will get better ...I am proof of that.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Vitamins 101

I've gotten many questions asking me to give some advice or information about nutrition, along with other health inquiries. While I am not your family doctor , I am studying to become a nurse and have a few months left (I am so excited!). I am not in any position to give you direct medical advice, but I am willing to share what I know and have studied in order to help you! As such, this post will be dedicated to discussing some vitamins, their functions, and interesting information on them. If you have any other topics about health or nutrition (including mental health, eating disorders, medications, food, exercise, etc), feel free to comment and let me know. Again, I want to stress that I am NOT giving medical advice here - it is simply my way of relaying my knowledge thus far to those who request it, or to help you understand difficult concepts that perhaps were not well explained to you by other healthcare members, etc. Before we get started, let me warn you that this post will be LONG. I suggest that you read it in two parts: fat vs water-soluble vitamins. As long as this post is, however, it is a great summary of what you need to know about vitamins!

So, let's talk about our vitamins! First, let us separate the vitamins by what they are soluble in. It is easier to remember which are fat-soluble, as there are only four: vitamins A, D, E, and K. That means that everything else - the B vitamins and vitamin C, are water-soluble. This means that the fat-soluble vits (vitamins) need fat to be absorbed into the body. Thus, a deficiency of fat may result in deficiencies in these vits. Now that we know which are fat vs water soluble, we can learn a bit more about the vitamins and what they do in the body, as well as some notable pieces of information.


FAT SOLUBLE

1) Vitamin A: this is needed for vision (yes, your mom was right about carrots and vision!). Deficiencies can result in night-blindness, which, when detected early, can be restored with sufficient vit A intake. However, too much vitamin A is associated with many problems, such as birth defects in pregnant women.

2) Vitamin D: yes, what you heard about bone health and vit D is right. Vit D helps the body absorb calcium, which we know is needed for bone health. Our skin can convert a compound into vit D when exposed to sun, but this isn't enough for our needs. This is because we use sunscreen and do not get enough sun exposure. As such, we need enough vit D in our diet, which is also limited in foods (fish, fortified diary products, etc). Over the age of 50, it is recommended that all adults take a supplement of vit D. Remember to always talk to your doctor before taking any medications or supplements!

3) Vitamin K: This is mainly needed for blood clotting, although it also has a role in maintain strong bones. A deficiency is uncommon, but can occur if the diet doesn't have enough fat in it. Newborns don't have enough vit K at birth (some if made by bacteria in our gut), so we give them an injection within 6 hours of their birth. If you are taking blood thinners, you will likely need to ensure that you do not consume foods high in vit K, which can interfere with the medications.

4) Vitamin E: this is an antioxidant. This means that it helps to decrease or neutralize the toxins that enter our body, which can be from food, metabolic processes, smoke, etc. It is remade by vitamin C.

WATER SOLUBLE
Before I start, let me warn you that there are 12 B vitamins. Most of these function as cozymees, which meant that they are needed for certain processes in our bodies to function normally. For eample, to metabolize foods at the cellular level, our enzymes and proteins need these vitamins to work properly. I will not go into detail about all of these B vitamins, as most of them function in similar ways. I will simply focus on the main ones you should be aware of: folate (vit B 9), and vit B 12, as well as vitamin C.

1) Vit B 9 or FOLATE: this is VERY important for pregnant women because it is needed for DNA synthesis and also for closing the neural tube. The neural tube is part of the brain: it needs to close early in the first trimester (around week 6). If it does not close or does so partially, this results in a neural tube defect (NTD), including spina bifida or ancephaly (a baby without a brain). If born, the baby will have many difficulties and health challenges. Because most women don't even know they are pregnant in the first trimester, folate intake BEFORE pregnancy is essential. Generally, it is recommended that any female who is thinking about pregnancy begin to take folate supplements a year or more before pregnancy, and continue to do so during pregnancy. Note that males, while they do not get pregnant, also need folate bvecause of its role in DNA synthesis. In addition, a defiency of folate in men or women results in a type of anemia in which red blood cells are large (macrocytic). The red blood cells do not divide, so they remain big, which means that there are less of them in the body, resulting in anemia (often called megaloblastic anemia).

2) Vitamin B 12: this is VERY important as well! Vit B 12 is needed for the synthesis of the myelin sheath, which is a coating on our nerves. Without it, changes begin to occur, including tingling in the body and memory loss.  Also, vit B 12 is needed to remake more folate, so a deficiency of vit B 12 can actually result in a deficiency of vit B 9 (folate) as well. Vit B 12 needs enough stomach acid (pepsin and HCl) as well as intrinsic factor (a compound made in the stomach and released by cells in the stomach). As we age,  our stomachs make less of both these, which puts the elderly at an increased risk for vit B 12 deficiency. The recommendation is for all adults over 50 years old to take a vit B 12 supplement. Vegetarians or vegans may also need to take a supplement, as vit B 12 is mainly found in meats.

3) Vitamin C: this is an antioxidant, like vit E. In addition, it is needed for collagen, a protein that holds our skin together. Without enough vit C, we can get symptoms of scurvy, which include loosening of teeth from the gums, open cuts and poor wound healing, etc. Have you heard that vit C can prevent colds? This is a common myth. While it hasn't been found to prevent colds, studies have shown that taking vit C BEFORE a cold may help to shorten the duration of a cold. Also, as vit C is acidic, it enhances (helps) iron absorption. This is why you may have been told to take iron with vit C or with a cup of orange juice.

I hope that was informational! I realize that it is a lot to take in at once, so if it feels like too much, read it in two parts: fat vs water-soluble vitamins. What I love about this topic is that it shows how amazing our bodies are - look at how much goes on inside the body! It also helps us realize why sufficient and healthy diets are important. Without a good, healthy diet, we cannot get all the vitamins and minerals we need to be well. A healthy diet is truly the best way to prevent illness, be healthy and strong, and maintaining a high quality of life. I never thought that I would ever say this...but food is really, really important....and good. Poor food intake and insufficient quantities can result in many problems. Aside from being delicious, look at how food provides us with what we need to be healthy!


Monday, 14 July 2014

Published again! 3 Phrases to Keep You Going

Yet again, blessing upon blessing, I am honoured that my work has been published on Fr. Anthony's site. This time, the topic is on three phrases always said by the late Pope Shenouda III, may he rest in peace. Even if you are not Coptic Orthodox, I strongly encourage you to read this post on these three phrases. I guarantee that you will feel at peace and will draw upon these sentences in times of trouble or distress. http://franthony.com/the-three-phrases-of-pope-shenouda/#disqus_thread

What are the three phrases? Simple: “’this too will end soon”, “God is here”, and “all is for the good”. We all have times when we want to give up. We all have moments when we are frustrated, angry, sad, and tired. And although it is at these times when we least feel like calming down, this is when we need to take a moment to breathe. And when you do, think of these 3 sentences. They have always brought me comfort and peace when in despair. If you can meditate and think of these phrases, you will see how much truth is in them. You will see that this challenge and obstacle will pass; there cannot be a rainbow if there is no rain. The sun comes out after the darkness.
So, please read my post and if you desire, leave me a comment on Fr. Anthony's site and here. Thank you once again to all my readers, supporters, family, and friends. Taking a look back to my blog...it was two years ago when I was just starting up this site up. I was beginning my journey of recovery. And now...wow. I have this blog, I've done interviews, and now, I have my own book. God is good. For all of you who are suffering, tired, or feel like you are fighting a heart-breaking and endless journey - do not give up. Every challenge you face makes you stronger and teaches you a lesson. If it were not for my journey with ED thus far, I would bot have had all these amazing opportunities to use my experiences to help others. So, whenever you feel like giving up....remember: “’this too will end soon”, “God is here”, and “all is for the good”.



Monday, 7 July 2014

The 'Dr. Oz' Controversy

Before I start this post, let me put a disclaimer: I am not shaming Dr. Oz as a person or professional. I am simply retaking the facts and weighing in (haha - weighing in! Did you catch that pun there?) on an issue that must be discussed.

You may be familiar with Dr. Oz. We seemed not to know this doctor until he appeared on the Oprah show one day. Since then, he has become quite famous. From books to a show to online, everyone speaks about Dr. Oz. His show speaks about new 'miracle weight loss' tips and solutions. He promotes certain diets or herbs or pills that apparently are going to revolutionize the way we can control our weight. And there is no end to those who idolize him. The common love for him goes something like this: 'Dr. Oz says something, and the world responds. He can say nothing wrong. If Dr. Oz says something, it must be true. I must go out and buy this miracle pill because Dr. Oz said that it works'.


So can you imagine what happened when the world is told that Dr. Oz was challenged just two weeks ago. It was found that some of his statements and claims were false; they are not based of scientific evidence. He then admitted that 'there is no magical pill that will help you lose weight without diet and exercise'. In the end, it seems that Dr. Oz's claims about weight loss miracles are simply not true or accurate. They are misleading. (See
http://www.ctvnews.ca/health/dr-oz-effect-celebrity-doctor-scolded-for-pushing-miracle-weight-loss-aids-1.1873171) for details. And sadly, his position as a doctor, one also loved by Oprah, makes this even more tragic. People believed in him. People believed that as a 'doctor', whatever he said was correct. People thought that since he appeared on Oprah, he must be right. Media claims about Dr. Oz's wisdom filled society with the idea that whatever Dr. Oz said was right. And now, we are told that this is false. Society is now (finally) hearing the truth: Dr. Oz is not always right. Not very grunt he says must be true.


I've personally never been a fan of Dr. Oz. For one thing, I know that a pill or food alone cannot help control weight. In all my nursing studies, I'll tell you the basic notion: weight control comes from eating a balanced diet and exercising. Secondly, Dr. Oz's 'advice' never comes with scientific articles that have proven to me what he is saying. I refuse to accept his claims without studying the evidence behind them. Third, just because he is a 'doctor' doesn't mean that he is always right. I'm a nursing student, soon to be a nurse. If I said that you can grow wings by eating purple broccoli, would you believe me?

Perhaps the hype around Dr. Oz come from the desire of society to refuse to accept responsibility for our health. We don't want to be told that eating a variety and balance of foods in moderation is the best option. We don't want to hear that exercise is needed. Society wants to hear that there is a miracle for being healthy. We want the easy way out, so to speak. It's a lot easier to buy a pill and hope that it will speed up my metabolism than it is to actually our in the effort of eating well and controlling my stews. But what society needs to know is that there IS NO MIRACLE. THE MIRACLE IA BALANCE: balance in eating all things in moderation, sleeping and exercising, and controlling stress and risk factors. We also need to begin to realize that we can't believe everything we read or hear. We need to learn to search for the evidence and to see that simply being someone in authority and prestige, such as Dr. Oz, doesn't make someone the wisest person alive.

Will everyone stop listening to Dr. Oz now? Sadly, I don't think so. People who love him will refuse to believe that his claims are fake and wrong. Or people will soon forget about this when he comes on TV the next episode to talk about some other miracle solution. What needs to change is society. We need to become smarter receivers of information. We need to stop consuming information without stopping to see if it is credible. We need to start taking charge of our health and seeing that our bodies are not experiments. Our bodies need care. That means a balanced diet, physical activity, and rest. No miracle pill can give your body this. Once we learn to stop taking advice from sources that aren't reliable, we can begin to take steps that will truly promote our health. And once we stop paying attention to false source of information that claim they have found 'miracle solutions and magical life savers to the weight/body size/(whatever problem the world faces), we can ensure that these sources do not continue to fool people. Please, be aware of what you listen to and what advice you take. Do not simply listen to advice because someone is in a position of authority or because everyone else is doing it. Be smart and informed.

And just to lighten things up a bit, here is a comic that both brings this message across...and makes me laugh each time I read it.


Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Iron!


I don't think it is incorrect to assume that you have heard that you need enough iron, or else you will develop anemia. Iron is necessary for health, not only to prevent anemia from occurring. What foods contain iron? When are supplements needed? What IS anemia?

Let's start with talking about iron itself. Iron is a micronutrient that is needed for many bodily processes. The most well-known and studied function of iron is its association with hemoglobin and myoglobin: these are proteins that are needed for blood. But, did you know that iron is also needed for an enzyme that detoxifies the body? Or that iron also has a role in immune functions? Probably not - neither did I at first. This is because iron's main function is that of hemoglobin synthesis.


Hemoglobin, made of iron, delivers oxygen to cells and body tissues. So, what happens when we don't have enough iron (Fe)? Less hemoglobin, meaning less oxygen to cells and tissues. This is problematic because we know that our cells need oxygen and blood to survive. A lack of iron may result in iron-deficiency anemia (IDA). Signs and symptoms may include pallor or a pale skin colour (especially on the face), feeling cold, weakness, fatigue, rapid heart rate (palpitations), and irritability.
Male adults need about 8 mg of iron a day, although this increases during pregnancy. Females also need more because of the loss of blood through mensuration, which puts their recommended iron intake at around 17 mg a day. After menopause, female iron needs drop to 8 mg, the same as men. Vegetarians may not take enough iron in the diet and may need supplements. However, it is important to remember that iron can be found in many foods. What is VERY important to know is that iron absorption is inhibited by many factors or nutrients, including calcium, fibre, and tea. However, iron absorption is INCREASED if consumed with acidic foods such as vitamin C or orange juice, as well as red meat (ex. beef). This means that while beef contains iron, it also enhances iron absorption. The picture contains some food sources of iron.
So, the question many people have is...should i take an iron supplement? Again, I am not in the place to give anyone medical advice. But what I CAN say is that if you have any concerns about your iron intake, it is a good idea to keep track of it in a journal. Also, if your family has a history of anemia, it may be a good idea to bring this to your medical team's attention. If you have symptoms of anemia such as tiredness, low blood pressure, weakness, paleness, etc., also be sure to bring this to your doctor's attention. Finally, if you do take iron supplements, remember not to take it with any diary products. Also, taking it with vitamin C will enhance absorption. I hope this post taught you something about iron!