The Big Carrot

Nutritional Steps to Immunity

Did you know that the change of season will often cause internal, physical changes as well?  Autumn can be especially challenging as we head back to work and school from the slow-paced sunny days of summer.  We’re doing more, moving at a more hectic pace, and under the influence of the varying weather that Fall can bring.  More exposure to people means more exposure to germs, and our immune system can be put under a lot of stress at this time. 

But don’t despair, natural supplements and organic foods can help support your body and keep you healthy during this transitional time. Begin by eating with the season.  With the cooler weather settling in, we will naturally want to move away from raw vegetable salads and cool berry smoothies.  Local farms will begin harvesting root vegetables and squash; soups, stews, veggie bakes and even warm salads are the perfect nourishing foods.  You’ll also see a wide variety of apples and pears appearing in stores – try different types to discover a new favourite!  (I personally love the Pink Lady apples).

We’re no strangers to rainbows, but how often do you eat one?  Each colour of food provides a different type of essential nutrient for our bodies.  We need them all every day, but in the fall, we especially need lots of red, orange and yellow coloured foods.  These provide us with beta-carotene, which our bodies use to make Vitamin A, an important contributor to healthy mucous membranes. These membranes line our digestive and respiratory tracts – which are very susceptible to bacteria and viruses at the change of season!  When they are properly nourished, they are better at stopping those baddies in their tracks.  Hello squash and carrots, goodbye cold and flu.

Integrate herbs into your daily routine. Making teas with loose herbs is a wonderful way to connect to the medicine of the plants.  Make a tea with roots such as astragalus and ginger or try medicinal (not magic!) mushrooms like Chaga or Reishi as a morning coffee substitute or add in.  These can also be used as the base for a soup or stew, to add a deep, earthy flavour.  Herbs are also available in tinctures – potent extracts made with alcohol if you need immune support on the go.  Individually, or as synergistic blends that work together to support your immune system, they can be an integral part of you daily routine and defence against cold and flu season.

Written by Laura Rowe

The Big Carrot offers a wide selection of certified organic produce, with an emphasis on locally grown items.  As well, the Holistic Dispensary can assist you with your herb and vitamin purchases. If you have a health condition or are taking any medications, always consult with your doctor before taking an herb or supplement.

Big Carrot Natural Food Market – 348 Danforth Ave, Toronto  (416) 466-2129

Laura Rowe is a Holistic Nutritionist with 7 years in the health food industry. She is passionate about sharing her knowledge of nutrition so that everyone can lead their best possible life. She loves making kombucha and raw chocolate, as well as snuggling her three kitties. You can find her at The Big Carrot Holistic Dispensary answering questions, or tweeting at @HolisticLaura27.


Healthy Planet Canada

Tips for a healthy fall

Are you ready for the fall? We need to be prepared mentally and physically for the new season. According to statistics, people get sick more often in colder weather. Situations in which people are crowded together are more common during autumn and winter. Everyone wants to stay inside and avoid the harsh weather; students are back to school and mingling with each other leading to a higher risk of catching the flu.

Some research also suggests that lower temperatures allow some viruses to flourish as they spread more effectively in cold and dry air. The good news is that we can protect ourselves against catching the flu while following best practices such as proper hand washing techniques, avoiding smoking and alcohol, eating a varied and healthy diet, and getting enough sleep and exercising.

You might be familiar with the Canadian Food Guide1, or you might not, but following the provided recommendations that the guide enlists, particularly when it comes to consuming fruits and vegetables that are loaded with vitamins and minerals, will save you a lot of flu tears and nose blowing. Our immune system has favored some vitamins and minerals over others. Fair consumption of guava, oranges, grapefruits, bell peppers, broccoli, Brussel sprouts can provide you vitamin C, one of the best immune system boosters.

In the fall, when we are missing our quality time with the sun, we are more prone to vitamin D deficiency because our skin needs sun rays to produce Vitamin D which modulates the innate and adaptive immune responses. It is very efficient to supplement your body with vitamin D specifically in deficient individuals as they are more prone to infections.

Vitamin B6-rich foods like chicken, beef liver, salmon, tuna, chickpeas, and potatoes, will support the biochemical reactions in the immune system. Time to start Zincing! Zinc helps the immune system work properly and it may help wounds to heal. Increase your intake of seafood, meat, seeds, cooked dried beans, nuts, peas, and lentils, to assure you get enough Zinc.

Vitamin A regulates the immune system and protects it from infections. Consuming some animal food sources such as liver, dairy products, fish and plant food sources such as sweet potato, pumpkin, carrots, and squash can provide you with Vitamin A.
Plant foods contain carotenoids, such as beta-carotene, that gets converted to vitamin A in the body. 
In addition to making sure that you are consuming sufficient amount of vitamins and minerals, you can protect your body against infections through the consumption of garlic, which has antimicrobial properties.

Tea!! You can’t go wrong with drinking it. Tea provides you with antioxidant properties and help in reducing cold and flu symptoms. Wrap yourself with your warm winter blanket and enjoy a cup of Ginger, Echinacea or elderberry. For all coffee lovers, you can substitute your cup of coffee with Chaga tea, a title holder of medicinal mushrooms.

Unfortunately, a big number of persons do not meet daily nutritional needs, therefore completing healthy food with natural supplements is the answer to building a strong immune system that will reduce our chances of catching a common cold.  For those who suffer from deficiencies or do not meet the nutritional recommendations, a good multivitamin can play a major role in supporting your immune system.

Written by Syed Wajahat Ali Rizvi

Healthy Planet Canada provides you with a great variety of high quality supplements to complete your nutritional needs, a wide selection of certified organic groceries, natural remedies, and herbs. If you have a health condition or are taking any medications, always consult with your doctor before taking an herb or supplement.

Healthy Planet – Various Locations


Sacred Medicine Ways

Managing Stress with Indigenous Wisdom

When you get up each morning how do you feel? Do you embrace the day with a peaceful joy and look forward to the wonders ahead? or are you unable to relax, drained or angry, worried about how you will make it through your day while meeting life’s challenges?

All of us must fight with the challenge of stress in our lives and it grows in intensity as we allow our negative thoughts and feelings to flourish inside us. As these seeds of stress are planted inside of us as we begin to disconnect from our natural rhythms and cycles and from our connection to Great Creator. We then fall out of harmony with ourselves and others as we try desperately to meet time constraints, work deadlines and social obligations. If left unacknowledged, stress can take on a life of its own, causing symptoms of anxiety, poor concentration, anger and body pain.

In Aboriginal and Indigenous Cultures stress is seen as a sickness of the mind and spirit. We have fallen out of spiritual, mental and emotional alignment with ourselves because we have stopped listening to our inner voice. Our inner voice is a reflection of our inner wisdom which comes form our connection to Creator. When we fall out of right relationship with ourselves, it becomes very difficult to find peace.

We can bring ourselves back into harmony with ourselves through our connection to Creator, nature’s medicines and the sacred drum. These medicines help us find peace and balance by allowing a release of negative energies, thought patterns and emotions that contribute to our stress levels.

Fifteen to twenty minutes per day of Ceremonial practices that include smudging, breath work and drumming, will assist in overcoming our battle with stress. Smudging uplifts our mood, calms and centres us by clearing heavy energies. Heavy energies can make us feel anxious and confused. Directed breathing nourishes our mind and body and clears areas of blocked energy. Blocked energy can cause fatigue, mind fog, trouble sleeping and body aches. The sound of the drum is the heart beat of Mother Earth. Its vibration brings us back to ourselves and helps us to remember our connection to all our relations.

The Daily Ceremony:

Smudge with Sage. Smudging opens the space for healing and inward reflection. If you are experiencing negativity and heaviness, smudge yourself with Sage. If you are feeling anxiety, smudge with Palo Santo. It usually takes three to four minutes to smudge thoroughly regardless of the type of smudge.

Breathing Meditation: “Connecting to the Medicines”. Once you have smudged, stand up. Feel your feet on the floor and reach your open hands toward Mother Earth without bending forward. While holding your hands out to her, take a deep breath in, filling yourself with her healing Medicines. Hold your breath for two to three seconds. Keeping your hands open and close together, bring them up the front of your body while you breathe out raising them up above your head until your arms are straight and palms are facing each other. As you reach to Father Sky, take a deep breath in filling yourself with sky medicines. Pause for two to three seconds. As you breathe out, bring your straight arms from above your head to chest level and turn palms up. Let Great Creator his medicines as you take a deep breath in. Pause for three to five seconds then bring your palms to your heart. Complete this breathing exercise ten to fifteen times.

Drum Medicine: Once you have finished your breathing meditation, spend five minutes hand drumming at two beats per second. Feel the beat of the drum in your body and breathe into your lower belly while drumming.

Closing Prayer: When you have completed your meditation it is best to close with smudging and a prayer of gratitude. A smudge mixture of Lavender and sage will clear energies released through the power of your ceremony and help you to remember the peacefulness and grace of Great sprit and the Sacred Medicines. These ceremonial, practices, if performed daily, will lift stress and bring a sense of wellbeing.

The Irony with stress is that we fear slowing down to take time for ourselves. However, the only way to relieve stress is to take time for ourselves each day. Daily ceremony allows us to step away from the chaos of life and reflect inwardly, allowing us to regain clarity and focus, reduce anxiety and replenish ourselves. Stress can not live where grace and peace reside.

Written by Sachi, Flying Eagle Medicine Woman

Sachi, Flying Eagle Medicine Woman, is a practitioner of spirit medicine through Traditional Native  Healing. She is also a recognized Shaman by the Q’ero Shamans of Peru. As Medicine Woman, Seer, and Pipe Carrier, Sachi uses traditional Aboriginal and Indigenous  knowledge to help her clients address issues that block them from; living in joy, personal power, self- love, and health. Through Shamanic medicine and teachings, Sachi assists her clients with soul healing and re- alignment, soul retrievals, and shamanic journeying. Sachi is an experienced lecturer who administers healing, teachings and awareness at; TDSB Secondary Schools, Ontario Community Care Access centres and Native Resource centres.

Sacred Medicine Ways – 1200 Bay Street Lower Level Suite 100 – 647-930-1832


Step By Step Foot Care

Healthy Feet Are Foundational For Wellness

When it comes to pampering and caring for the different parts of our bodies feet are often neglected. However, these incredible examples of engineering play a prominent role in performing our day to day activities. Like the roots of a tree, our feet function in providing a strong and steady foundation for our body and are constantly in demand to help move the body from one place to another. They create a strong base so that everything else in our body can stand in alignment with ease including the pelvis, spine, head, and shoulders.

The foot is the most important anatomical part of the body for balancing the weight and transferring the impact of movement into the ground. The foot consists of 26 bones, which form approximately 33 joints involving over 100 tendons, ligaments, and muscles. The feet also have one of the highest concentrations of nerve endings in the body, at approximately 7,000 per foot (hence the reason that a foot massage feels so good!). Each foot also has three arches. All these structures and arches are important and must all be functioning properly to facilitate healthy movement and weight bearing.

However, when our feet are not functioning properly it can have a harmful impact on our lives, just like a shaky foundation threatens the stability of a building. Poor foot health can cause problems all the way up our body including in our spine, lower back, hips, shoulders, and neck. It’s common to focus on the area of pain, like a back or neck, and ignore the feet as the source of the problem. These problems can start innocently enough, but the consequences can be severe.

Everyone can achieve better health by showing their feet some love. Healthy measures include; cleaning and scrubbing your feet with soap and water, cutting toenails properly, examining feet for calluses and signs of trauma, and most importantly wearing shoes that fit properly. Choosing a broadly rounded shoe with a plenty of room for your toes and a wide stable heel is a must because uncomfortable shoes lead to cramps, ingrown toenails, and calluses. Pamper yourself with a medical-grade pedicure for all the relaxing joy without fear of infection.

If the foot problems are severe you should always know when to see a doctor. Some issues can’t or shouldn’t be addressed on your own (hint: don’t pop that blister!). Often a digital gait analysis can quickly and easily identify problems and get you the advice you need to live a life of happy feet and pain-free knees. Nowadays, custom-made flexible orthotics can be made to support all the three arches of the foot.

Small changes to how we treat our feet can bring about big shifts in how our whole body will feel. Just like whole-person wellness requires a healthy body, mind, and spirit, so too does a healthy body require holistic health and balance that starts from the ground up. 

Written by Ryan Freeman

Step By Step Foot Care offers a full range of treatment options for your feet and knees, state-of-the-art custom orthotics and braces, and a broad selection of stylish foot-friendly shoes, boots, and sandals.

Step-by-Step Foot Care – 27 Queen Street East, Toronto – 416.214.4697

To discover businesses providing Health & Wellness products and services, please check out these links from The Pink Pages Directory.

Big Carrot Natural Food Market
Clearview Plastic Surgery
Dentistry in the Beach
Medical Compassion Clinic
Midtown Dental
Pride Line Durham
Sacred Medicine Ways
Step by Step Foot Care
The Village Pharmacy

Also for those looking to travel for a health and wellness escape, check out these LGBT friendly destinations with great vacation offerings

About the Author

Bryen Dunn enjoys life and all the challenges, trials, and tribulations that come with it. At the opposite end of the spectrum are the joys, happiness and well-being that makes it all worthwhile. We're all in this together, so lets buckle up and enjoy the ride! Say Hello -