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January 19, 2021


Nutrition K.I.S.S.

Happy New Year to you all. January is the month many begin following New Year resolutions, and many of these will likely concern diet, nutrition and/or weight loss. I’d like to offer one of my health talks (no strings attached), if you are seeking guidance on doing that.

Over the years, I've presented many ‘health talks’ on a wide variety of nutrition topics. But the talk that seemed to generate the most positive feedback is one entitled “Nutrition K.I.S.S.” It explains basic nutrition physiology in layman's terms – and how to keep your diet stupidly simple (K.I.S.S.) yet still ensure you are getting optimal nutrition.

In 2019, I decided to film myself giving that presentation and I posted it on Facebook. But the full talk was 60 minutes long, so I edited it to 20 minutes. Well, I’m not good at filming and in addition, my editing was very amateurish (I filmed and edited it on my iPad). It looks like I have a twitching disorder, due to all the cropping I did! But I wanted to make the video shorter so that people would be more likely to watch it if they knew it was only 20 minutes long.

Anyway, enough apologies for the poor video quality. I decided to post that same video a second time because I feel it offers interesting information -- and I’m too lazy to record the whole thing again. If you haven’t watched it yet (or saw me present it live) consider doing so if you’d like to improve your diet. Watch it here:

By the way, there is a printable handout shown just below the video, or access it here:

Because the filming is so amateurish, I’ve only posted it privately on YouTube. However, feel free to share the YouTube link with others who may want some simple direction on improving their diets.
Enjoy. And I wish you the best of health in 2021 and on!

Eve Lees, a former newspaper reporter and editor, has also been active in the health & fitness industry since 1979. Currently, she is a Freelance Health Writer for several publications and speaks to business and private groups on various health topics.



December 04, 2020

Healthy holiday recipes

Cranberry sauce and ginger cookies are two of many Christmas (or any holiday) favorites. Here are healthier versions without added refined sugars.

Cranberry Sauce

2c fresh or frozen cranberries
½ c chopped dates (about 10-12 dates)
½ c unsweetened applesauce
½ c unsweetened orange juice
(optional) ¼ tsp sea salt (helps to tone down tartness)

Combine all ingredients except salt in a saucepan and cook on low heat until it is a thick, soupy mass. Frequently stir and mash the mixture with a potato masher.

Once the mixture is very soft and well mashed, shut off the heat and add the salt while it is cooling.

For a smoother mixture, put it in a blender after it cools and blend until smooth. If you don’t have a blender, try to mash it really well with the potato masher or a fork, which should be easy to do once the mixture is soft from cooking.

Store the cranberry sauce in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. Best to use up within 4 or 5 days or freeze for future use.

Gingerbread Cookies

1 ¾ cup ground almond ‘flour’ (or use oat, spelt or other flour of your choice).
1 TB unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
12 dates, chopped (about ½ cup)
1 banana 
1/3 cup water or milk (can use rice or almond milk, etc.).
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 180 C (350 F). Combine flour, cocoa powder, and pumpkin pie spice in a bowl. Set aside. Blend the dates, banana, milk, and vanilla together until smooth, using a small blender or a food processor.

Add blended mixture to dry mixture and combine well. Drop by rounded balls onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Flatten to no more than ½ inch thick.

This batter is too frustratingly sticky to cut with a cookie cutter – such as the gingerbread man shape. However, you could try rolling various sizes of balls to attach as feet, arms and head to the main body of the gingerbread man. Flatten all the ‘balls’ after they are placed. Dicing up a carrot into very small pieces can work as eyes, nose, mouth and belly button.

The recipe yields about 12-15 small cookies (less if you construct gingerbread men).
Bake for about 10 minutes. Cookies will be soft and slightly golden at the bottom. Leave to cool on the baking tray (the cookies harden a little more as they cool).

Enjoy these recipes. Have a happy holiday!


Eve Lees, a former newspaper reporter and editor, has also been active in the health & fitness industry since 1979. Currently, she is a Freelance Health Writer for several publications and speaks to business and private groups on various health topics.





September 22, 2020

Avoid misinformation: Check it first

Whether or not it’s about COVID-19, we are regularly inundated with misinformation (not always created with intent to mislead or harm) and disinformation (deliberately created with intent to mislead or harm).
Mis/disinformation circulates because many of us do not question it. We may believe what we see or hear for various reasons: our beliefs/opinions, our life experiences, and our trust in the source. So we tend to pass it along freely, before checking its credibility (Fact-checking sources appear later in this article).

We also need to practise critical thinking. We've become too dependent on others doing our thinking for us. That's why "opinion" journalists like those on the cable news channels have become so popular. And that's understandable. We are busy. Asking questions takes time. Research takes time. So, if news or information makes sense to us (and is in line with our beliefs), we'll buy it. But we need to start thinking critically. Critical thinking is having a healthy skepticisim of any information – even if it seems to come from a credible source – and then carefully consider the available evidence. Face it, few of us do this. But we must do it, because the information could harm us . . .

During this pandemic, several "cures" are being promoted. Some are harmless, but many of them are potentially harmful. The plant oleander is one of the latest treatments marketed for COVID-19. It’s being endorsed by Donald Trump and his good friend, Mike Lindell the “My Pillow” creator. However, it’s wise to do your research to learn the pros and the cons before you make a decision, especially regarding your health. Here's an opinion from McGill University about this latest 'treatment' . . .

"There are many cases of animals and people having been poisoned by oleander, sometimes on purpose,” says Joe Schwarcz, at McGill Office for Science and Society. “In Sri Lanka, unfortunately, the plant has become a common means for suicide, prompting the government to take steps to eradicate it and prohibit its cultivation as an ornamental plant. At this point, it is totally irresponsible to recommend any oleander product as having efficacy against COVID-19.” Read the entire article on the McGill University website.

Misinformation spreads quickly on social media platforms making it increasingly important in this digital era to be a critical thinker: Start asking questions. In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a social media campaign to "film your hospital parking lot." It was an effort to prove the pandemic is a hoax. Hospital parking lots were reported to be "empty" and so were hospital waiting rooms, ergo, this proves there's no pandemic. But all elective surgeries were cancelled at that time, so surgery patients wouldn't be parking in the parking lot. Neither would their visitors. And neither would any visitors for those who are quarantined, because, well, quarantined patients can't have visitors. Therefore the quarantined patients (and their non-existent visitors) wouldn't be waiting around in waiting rooms, or wandering the hospital corridors. Wouldn't this all contribute to fewer people in the hospital hallways and waiting rooms, not to mention, fewer cars in the hospital's parking lot?

And then there is the film Plandemic, an interview with virologist Dr. Judy Mikovits. The film effectively stimulates our emotions, while it attempts to convince us the pandemic is a hoax. It accuses several public figures as being instigators or, at the very least, profiting from the COVID-19 chaos. If you saw the film (before it was removed from YouTube), you should follow up with further research into the claims the film is making. To seek the truth about any issue, it's always wise to consider there's usually two sides to every story. And it's only fair to give those being vilified the 'benefit of the doubt' (also a requirement for critical thinking). Think of it this way: What if someone falsely attacked your character on Twitter or Facebook? Do you think you could be successful clearing your name? It would be a daunting task as news spreads and distorts quickly on social media. So be open-minded regarding those being vilified. They could be innocent. You'd appreciate someone giving you the benefit of the doubt.

At the end of the film Plandemic, there is a clip of Dr. Anthony Fauci warning us a pandemic is inevitable in the coming years. The clip suggests "proof" that Fauci caused this pandemic: Yet experts have been warning us about viral pandemics for some time. Common sense tells us it was inevitable. Incidentally, using Fauci's quote in this way is a perfect example of how anything can be taken out of context to support an opinion.

Google "fact-check Plandemic" for other perspectives on this film. Try to remain nonjudgmental and unemotional (remember, emotions tend to cloud rational thinking): Keep an open mind as you do your research, even if the opinions you find don't agree with your own. If you do an internet surf for fact-checking that's been done on the film, you'll get plenty of hits – or here's a credible source to get you started: and here is a YouTube video (a transcript is also included) where a doctor breaks down and discusses the many claims made in the film:

Simple 'tells' that the source may be biased . . .
A biased news source may not be a credible one. There are several ways to spot a biased source or comment on social media or the news media (television, radio, newspapers, etc.). Here are a few suggestions to keep in mind . . .

1) Be cautious if the information is an opinion with few, if any, facts being provided. Even worse, it may not be clearly stated that it is just an opinion. This can make us think it is a factual report. But a strong belief doesn’t mean it’s fact. A credible source should be objective (meaning it is not influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing the facts).

2) The source should not use “loaded” or emotional words in an attempt to make you agree with them (for example: “Horrifying, overwhelming statistics show . . .” instead of just, “Statistics show . . .”). News should ideally be reported in an unbiased, objective way, providing you with just the facts to help you make a decision. Coercing you is not ethical. Being highly emotional is also a tactic used to persuade others, so be wary of those who are visibly emotional to the point of shouting (or crying). Insulting or belittling others is also a show of emotions. And in any case, disagreeing with another person’s opinion or belief is no reason to bully or insult them. Along with the fact that it is difficult to think rationally when we are emotional, a highly emotional source can have questionable credibility.

3) Be cautious if the source sells or promotes a product related to the information they provide. Often, it’s best not to trust the salesman. It’s possible the information is false or misleading to help sell their product. In addition, if the topic is controversial and highly debated, the least trustworthy sources will fail to mention possible harms or side effects of a product, diet or therapy. Most interventions (supplements, herbs, treatments, etc.) will have a trade-off, even if it’s just a minor side-effect. If it isn’t being revealed or discussed you are not being told the whole story. And always remember to trust your instincts: If it sounds too good to be true, well . . . it’s usually not true.

4) Be suspicious if the source is stubbornly adamant they are right and everyone else is wrong. A science or evidence-based source will admit they could be wrong. And you want your source to be pro-science or evidence-based (as opposed to belief-based conspiracy theories or pseudo-science). Because science is all about continually learning, researching and making changes if necessary – which means the source expects and welcomes change and is therefore prepared to admit when they are wrong. This indicates an unbiased mind and that is a strong assurance the information is credible.

5) Your source should be knowledgeable and credible on the topic. Google their biography and make sure their resume includes training and experience in that particular field. Don’t be impressed if all they’ve done is published a book or appeared on television – these are not assurances of knowledge and credibility. Ideally, the most credible sources are those with no vested interest in what they are reporting (no personal, financial or political gain). Emily Willingham, PhD, a science journalist and developmental biologist offers a public post on Facebook about how to be sure your "expert source" actually has expertise in a particular field or area: For example, in her Facebook post, Willingham explains having a PhD in biology doesn't necessarily indicate an expert in all of biology. Biology is a huge field: No one human can know it all. But sadly, some with degrees may use their credentials unethically and inaccurately to promote their beliefs/opinions. Willingham also reminds us, "No one—no single person—is going to have a sudden insight or make some clever connection no one else has considered or uncover some vast deep conspiracy that has eluded the other 7.7 billion people on Earth.” 

Fact-checking sources . . .

The best way to ensure your news (and news source) is credible is to fact-check it. Simply type into your search engine the name or the topic. Perhaps include “fact check” after it. You can also do a search within any of the independent, unbiased fact-checking services who follow the strict standards and guidelines of the International Fact Checking Network (IFCN). There are many of them, but here are a few to get you started:,,,, That’s Nonsense,, Truth or Fiction, Lead Stories-Hoax Alert,, Politifact,,, and (Associated Press). All these are free services. However, there are some fact-checking sources, such as The Washington Post, that require a fee.

Google offers a free service called “Reverse Image Search” ( allowing you to verify photographs by finding where they first appeared on the web. For example, not long ago, four photographs of injured police officers circulated on social media, with the claim they were attacked by Democrats and Black Lives Matters protestors during riots in Portland and Seattle. Not so. A reverse search found the photos were actually published on the web several years ago, during various riots in Australia.

Another free, unbiased fact-checking source you should bookmark is “Media Bias Fact Check (MBFC).” This site offers fact checks on current topics, but it also offers a rating of publications, organizations, or websites of how factual their reports are and even which way a news source leans politically. Enjoy the site. Play around with it. In the menu at the top, you can click on ‘least biased’ or ‘left’ or ‘right’ sources – or even pro-science, conspiracy-pseudoscience, and questionable sources. If you want to know the rating of your favourite news source, just search for its name. Let’s hope your favourite news source provides facts and not opinions. We need to learn both sides of every issue in an unbiased way.

Be careful also with websites. Anyone with computer skills can create a professional-looking, impressive website that may fool you. For example, there are health, political or even “newspaper” websites that are actually just personal opinion sites. They are not official sites of an organization, political party, or a legitimate news service. Click on the website’s “about” menu to help you determine if they are legit (or check it on the Media Bias Fact Check (MFBC) site). And if there is no “about” page on the website, take that as a red flag. The site is probably not a good source.

Unfortunately, it’s come to the point where we can’t trust much of what we see and hear – particularly on social media. Take the time to double-check information before you believe it and forward it to others. Maintain an open mind: Put aside your beliefs and emotions as you do your research. It’s the only way we’ll weed out the mis/disinformation.

Eve Lees, a former newspaper reporter and editor, has also been active in the health & fitness industry since 1979. Currently, she is a Freelance Health Writer for several publications and speaks to business and private groups on various health topics.



August 12, 2020

Exercising with your dog

Exercise helps keep your dog healthy, as well as calm and obedient. Regular activity burns off excess energy so your pet won’t be excessively hyper around the house. And it’s an opportunity for you to be active too.

However, your dog may not be fit enough to adapt to any physical demand. If it’s a confined city pet, it won't be accustomed to regular, strenuous activity. Have your dog examined by a veterinarian to be sure it can handle regular exercise.

For inactive pets, gradually introduce them to exercise, in much the same way you did when you began your exercise program. Build up slowly. Start with a 15-minute walk daily. In addition, a dog should reach maturity before going on a long, gruelling run. A puppy's skeleton is still developing and shouldn't be subjected to intense physical stress at each outing. It’s recommended small dogs (under 45 lbs.) be about eight months old before they become running partners. Dogs slightly larger (up to 100 pounds) should be over a year old, and dogs over 100 pounds should be at least a year and a half.

Larger dogs are more suited as running companions, while smaller breeds (like Yorkies and Pekingese) are suited for a brisk walking pace. Other heavy or short-legged breeds, or very old dogs, won’t be able to handle a vigorous workout or a long-distance trek.

Dogs can't dissipate heat as well as humans; they can't sweat, they can only pant. A dog’s signs of exhaustion are excessive panting, salivating and bright pink gums. Drink before leaving and stop frequently for water on long trips. Carry water (for you and your pet) or run in areas where your dog has access to a water source. Afterward, offer water immediately.   

Concrete and asphalt are hard on the paws, especially on hot days. The feet will be very sensitive and calluses should be built up gradually. When you get home, check the paws for embedded stones or debris. All-terrain footwear is available for dogs. Check a pet store or surf the internet.

A dog should understand basic commands before becoming a running partner. Your pet should be properly leash trained before you hit the streets. And keep it leashed to avoid dangerous encounters or traffic mishaps.

Avoid cycling with a dog. You have less control of the pet and leashing a dog to your bike is dangerous for both of you.

Reflective strips on the dog's collar are recommended after dark.

Be considerate: Obey posted signs of rules and where dogs are not allowed – and always clean up after your dog. Others will be grateful!

Eve Lees has been active in the health & fitness industry since 1979. Currently, she is a Freelance Health Writer for several publications and speaks to business and private groups on various health topics.




July 08, 2020

Plants and indoor air quality: what we do know?


Many of us spend much time indoors, usually because of indoor occupations and long hours at work – and of course, because of the current COVID-19 pandemic! In any case, we can often overlook spending time outdoors. Being outside can boost your health due to many factors and one of them involves being around plants.

Plants aren’t just indoor decorations. Apparently, we can also use them to help bring those outdoor health-boosting qualities indoors by helping to lower any air-borne toxins inside our buildings. These include hazardous particles and potentially toxic gases like carbon monoxide, ozone, and volatile organic compounds from sources such as furniture, paints, carpets, and office equipment.

It’s long been know plants have the ability to absorb toxins and improve indoor air quality, although much research still has to be done: Not much is known about which plants are the best to use and how to use them to boost their ability to perform more efficiently indoors. For example, researchers question how leaf shape and size affects a plant’s ability to assimilate CO2, how much air pollution is actually absorbed by a plant, and how many plants would be needed to reduce air pollution per square meter (the current popular estimate of 1 plant per 100 square feet hasn't been proven).

Plant microbiome or microorganisms (bacteria and fungi) also need to be better understood. The bacteria and fungi living on the plant and in its soil can help remove airborne pollutants, as well as offer certain properties to enrich our own good health. However, we don’t know enough yet to differentiate which of these microbial species are helpful or harmful (some may trigger allergies or other health issues).

But what do we know? We do know that plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen through photosynthesis. They help increase humidity by transpiring water vapour throughout the microscopic pores in the plant. And plants do absorb pollutants on their external surfaces, roots and in the soil (although how much isn’t clear).

To date, there are several plants often recommended to be superior in their ability to help ‘clean’ indoor air: Golden pothos, Areca palm, Lady palm, Bamboo palm, Dwarf date palm, Rubber plant, Ficus Alii, Boston fern, Asparagus fern, Peace Lily, Ficus tree, Purpleheart, Dracaena, Philodendron, and there are many others. Some Ivy’s and the Spider plant have also been suggested. But again, more evidence is needed to verify the extent of their effectiveness.

If you don’t have plants at home or in the office, there is certainly some evidence that buying a plant or two is worth considering. And should future studies prove there is really no substantial air quality benefit . . . well, at least the plants can serve as a reminder to spend some time outdoors!

Eve Lees has been active in the health & fitness industry since 1979. Currently, she is a Freelance Health Writer for several publications and speaks to business and private groups on various health topics.




June 10, 2020

Fill your plate with veggies

Vegetables and other plant foods should be the top priority in a healthy diet. Vegetables, in particular, are relatively low in ‘calories’ and fat yet high in fibre, vitamins, minerals and many other health-boosting properties.

For optimal health, fill at least half your plate with vegetables and some fruit at each meal. Here are some tips to help increase your vegetable consumption:

Add them to the foods you currently eat. Add more vegetables and/or different vegetables to the soups, sandwiches, burgers or omelets that you eat. Try different kinds of lettuce or sliced bell peppers in your sandwiches. Have mushrooms and green onions in your omelet.

Experiment with texture. If you hate mushy vegetables, try them raw, shredded, roasted or gently stir-fried instead. If you prefer crunchy foods, try baked kale or beet “chips.”

Add different flavours. Use a variety of oils, squeeze some lemon, or add a handful of fresh herbs to your vegetables. Sprinkle them with ground flax, sesame seeds or other nuts and seeds. Mix peanut butter with a little olive oil for a runny consistency and drizzle over your steamed or raw veggies.

Add vegetables to breakfast. Spread avocado on toast, have fresh berries on your cereal, perhaps broccoli in your scrambled eggs.

Opt for salads more often. Just about every restaurant offers some type of salad. At home, use pre-washed greens to speed preparation.

Prepare in advance. Reserve an hour each week to cut carrots, celery and other vegetables. Store them in the refridgerator for quick snacks or convenient meal preparation.Make use of leftovers. Cook extra when you prepare a meal and save in the fridge for your next meal (like breakfast).

Cherry tomatoes, mini cucumbers and snap peas make great snacks to grab and go. So do apples, bananas, and other fresh fruit.

Frozen vegetables can be just as nutritious as fresh. And they last for some time in the freezer without wilting. Stock up on frozen broccoli, peas, leafy greens and stir-fry mixes.

There are so many different vegetables. Try some that are new to you and you are sure to expand your daily choices!

Eve Lees has been active in the health & fitness industry since 1979. Currently, she is a Freelance Health Writer for several publications and speaks to business and private groups on various health topics.



April 22, 2020

Trump plans to cripple a health service during pandemic

As a Health Writer/Researcher, I receive the latest studies and press releases from many organizations. The World Health organization (WHO) is one of them. As far back as early January, I recall receiving press releases from WHO about what was then referred to as the Coronavirus: WHO was, “Calling for on-going active monitoring and preparedness in other countries.”

While WHO was cautioning everyone about the virus later to be named as COVID-19 (a January 13 press release is shown in the link above), Trump was still actively downplaying the virus as late as February 27, when he was televised making his memorable quote, “It’s going to disappear one day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.” But Trump still insists it was WHO’s fault he didn’t act earlier.

Does it really matter at this point who should be blamed for not taking this virus seriously in its early days? Instead of pointing fingers at the WHO, or the others Trump blamed before he blamed WHO (like Obama, the Democrats and the CDC, to name a few), it would have been admirable if Trump had simply forgiven himself and moved on: Let’s just deal with the problem, please. But his vindictive, childish actions over this whole issue is another of many reasons I have no admiration or respect for Donald Trump – a man who has been very generous with his insults (read any of his Tweets), who responds to any challenge or criticism with anger and hatred, and who believes, “The president of the United States has the authority to do whatever he wants to do.” (And by the way, that comment is freaking scary.)

During a time when it is vital everyone is working together, Trump plans to withhold U.S. funding to an organization that helps recruit equipment and aid during disasters -- as well as unite research institutes globally, combining their knowledge to find answers and solutions to health crisis situations. The WHO may not be perfect, but their connections and resources can be helpful at this time.

Watch this short video. It reveals an interesting timeline that challenges Trump’s accusations against WHO . . .

And just for some comic relief, watch this FOX News video where they do not even question (or even later, correct) Kellyanne Conway’s lack of knowledge about COVID-19 (and COVID -18, and COVD-17, and COVID-16 . . .)

Incidentally, I do not watch FOX News. Why? Because it is nothing more than the television equivalent of National Enquirer Magazine: Sensationalistic gossip, mostly opinion, and based on very few facts.

Eve Lees has been active in the health & fitness industry since 1979. Currently, she is a Freelance Health Writer for several publications and speaks to business and private groups on various health topics.







COVID-19: Health tips to reduce your risk

COVID-19, a strain of Coronavirus, is a current threat that we shouldn’t take lightly. Yet we should also try not to panic.

As with any epidemic in the past, fear seems to guide us. Currently, the stock market is falling while toilet paper, face masks, rubber gloves, and antibacterial hand sanitizers are immediately sold out in stores, proof that many are indeed responding with panic and fear. But unfortunately, wearing a face mask or rubber gloves won’t fully protect you from the virus. Neither will antibacterial hand sanitizers, because antibacterial products kill bacteria, not viruses. And what's with the toilet paper shortage? Many stores will deliver – and so can your friends/relatives – if you are quarantined and need supplies.

It's best to set our fears aside. To avoid panicking, take control by taking sensible preventive actions instead. All sources say frequent hand washing is the best action to take. Health Canada advises to thoroughly rub all surfaces of your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds. Rinse well with warm or cold water. Any soap is effective, but one with fewer “chemicals” won’t dry out your skin if you are frequently washing. Incidentally, a hand sanitizer is certainly useful when hand washing isn't possible, but it must have 60% alcohol content to effectively kill a virus.

Another positive action to keep you busy (instead of stockpiling supplies) is to take care of yourself. The general diet/lifestyle recommendations to keep your immune system strong is a wise preventive practice:

1. Most important, ensure your diet is of high quality foods. That means skip the junk: Avoid refined sugars and other highly refined/processed foods, as these lack the nutrients vital for a strong immune system. In addition, processed and refined foods may also have added ingredients that offer little nutritional value and may negatively affect the immune system (like sodium, added sugars, hydrogenated fats, and chemicals you can’t pronounce).

2. Increase the amount of vegetables and fruit you eat for more nutrients like antioxidants, as well as the protective benefits of fibre. A high-fire diet has been shown to fight the influenza virus (well, in mice, anyway): Apparently, fibre feeds gut bacteria, which produces T cells that kill viruses. By the way, be extra diligent washing produce you buy in bulk bins (particularly veggies and fruit that aren’t wrapped).

3. Opt for more variety in your food choices. This automatically widens the variety of nutrients you are getting to help your body fight a virus. Try to avoid always eating the same thing. If you usually have almonds with breakfast, have walnuts sometimes or perhaps hazelnuts. Do you always eat potatoes? Try jicama, squash or sweet potatoes occasionally. How about quinoa instead of rice all the time?

4. There is no special diet (other than a well-balanced one) that will fight a virus, so there is no need to go low-carb, Keto or Paleo. And keep in mind, this is not the time to restrict your diet to a limited variety of foods. To fight a virus, your body needs as many nutrients from foods as possible and omitting foods or food groups will limit nutrients. Therefore go for balance instead: include high-quality complex carbohydrates (not highly refined ones) like root vegetables, squash and cooked whole grains. Add some high-quality protein such as meats, seafood, or legumes, nuts/seeds – and, if you like them, have dairy foods like kefir and yogurt for their probiotic “good gut bacteria” boost.

5. Drink plenty of water. This is also very important, as a well-hydrated body can work much more efficiently, allowing your immune system to do its job.

6. It is unknown if any specific herb, vitamin or mineral will help fight this particular virus. In any case, we are all individual in our genetics and our nutrition needs: What may work for one person may not work for another. However, if traditional remedies worked in the past for you with the cold and flu, it’s possible sensible use (avoid overdoing any herb or supplement) might protect you from COVID-19, or lessen its severity.
Avoid taking large amounts of the fat-soluble vitamins like A and D; an overdose can be just as harmful to your health as a deficiency (get tested for vitamin D deficiency first, before self-medicating high doses). And large amounts of any vitamin/mineral supplement will put other vitamins and minerals out of balance in your body, creating even more health problems!
Be cautious also with current “internet” remedies such as using bleach or Colloidal Silver internally. Both can be effective to sterilize and kill germs outside the body (i.e. on metal or hard surfaces), but there are risks taking them internally.
There can also be contraindications between herbs and medications you may be taking, so check with your pharmacist.
Whether or not you decide to supplement your diet, your main focus should always be on eating a wide variety of high-quality, unrefined whole foods to ensure you get as many nutrients (vitamins, minerals, etc.) as possible. Read this article for more information on the benefits of food vs. supplements

7. Regular activity of gentle to moderate intensity has been shown – in countless studies and testimonials – to strengthen the immune system. Get up and move around.

8. Other important immune-boosters: Get sufficient sleep: seven hours minimum for adults. Also, learn to control your reaction to stressful situations. And that means not freaking out about COVID-19. Do your research if you read or hear something that is particularly disturbing to you (it’s usually not true anyway) and stay calm by taking action – like following the preventive tips in this article.

There are many fallacies circulating about COVID-19. Like using Tito's Vodka as a hand sanitizer or the tips in a viral e-mail from the Uncle with a Master's Degree. The World Health Organization (WHO) offers this site to help dispel myths. For more information and updates, visit this page. And for specific information for Canadians, including travel advisories, visit this regularly updated site.

​Be considerate of those around you: Sneeze or cough into the elbow of your sleeve, even if you aren't ill. Hopefully, you won’t contract this virus. But if you are feeling under the weather – Coronavirus or not ­– choose to stay home.

Eve Lees has been active in the health & fitness industry since 1979. Currently, she is a Freelance Health Writer for several publications and speaks to business and private groups on various health topics.

                                                                -30- .

SOURCES (embedded in the above article):

Processed foods linked to all cause mortality . . .

Canadian diet high in highly processed foods . . .

Fibre linked to flu protection . . .

Dangers of drinking a remedy similar to bleach . . .

Colloidal Silver precautions . . .

FDA warns about fraudulent treatments for COVID-19 . . .

Should be use supplements? Pills vs whole foods . . .

WHO: Busting some Coronavirus myths . . .

WHO: More details about COVID-19 . . .

Canadian Government travel info and update on numbers affected . . .

MYTH: "Uncle with Master's degree" e-mailing tips on the virus . . .

Myth: Home made Tito's Vodka hand sani not effective . . .



March 2020

Short workouts just as beneficial

Man was made to “move” -- to facilitate the many bodily functions we can’t control, like maintaining bone density, lubri­cating joints, blood circulation, and strengthening the immune system. Exercise is not just for weight loss.

However, if you hate to exercise or don’t have the time consider HIIT (high intensity interval training). This method lasts 15 to 20 minutes and is interspersed with short bouts (20 to 30 seconds) of harder intensity. HIIT has been shown to burn stored body fat more efficiently and has the same (if not greater) improvements in heart/lung strength and endurance.

Here's a basic example of an HIIT workout (consult your health professional if you are very unfit, ill, or recovering from injury.

  1. First, warm up for about two minutes with an easy-paced walk outdoors, or on your treadmill or exercise bike.

    After the brief warm-up, increase the intensity of your movements (make it harder) for 20 to 30 seconds: If you are riding your exercise bike, increase the tension to pedal harder. If you are outside brisk walking: for 20 to 30 seconds, walk faster, swing your arms more, do jumping jacks, skip, jog, or sprint. If it’s handy, you could also hurry up a set of stairs (or uphill). If you aren't fit yet and until you become fitter, don't kill yourself! Just make this 20-30 second burst more of an effort for you. 

    Follow this short burst of intensity with a recovery period of one to two minutes of a very easy intensity: reduce the tension on your exercise bike or slow your walking pace. The length of this recovery period will depend on your fitness level and can be shortened over time as you become fitter. 

Repeat steps 2 and 3 for the duration of your 15 to 20 minute workout. Be sure to stretch your lower body muscles afterwards. 


Follow your HIIT workout either every-other-day or three times weekly (even twice weekly has shown results). Using the HIIT in a short period of time is equivalent to exercising for 45 minutes at a steady, non-stop pace. You can implement this principle into any type of activity: treadmill use, walk/sprint sessions, rope jumping, rebounding or step training. Simply push yourself harder for several brief 20 to 30 second periods.

If you're new to exercise and not very fit, take it easy for the first few months. Stick with the lower suggestions of 20-sec­ond exertions and 2 minute recovery periods. The speed and intensity of your exertion period should be enough to increase your heart rate, but not so intense to be gasping for breath! For example, if you decide to ride a stationary bike, increase the tension on the bike to give you a slight challenge for your harder exertion periods, and then lower the tension to ride comfortably for the recovery period. Note the time, to keep track of the length of your rest periods and your exertion periods.

After your first exertion period, begin your first recovery period. Reduce the intensity to a very slow, very easy speed to allow your body to rest and recover. It’s called “repaying your oxygen debt.” Repeat the process: start your next exertion, fol­lowed with recovery. You’ll soon become comfortable exercising in short bursts.

The recovery periods are crucial. If you aren’t fully recovered before you start your next exertion period, you really aren’t benefitting from the “rest” that assists your recovery and helps lessen the damage to your body. You may as well forget about HIIT and just exercise at a steady state for the entire workout! During your recovery periods, focus on your breath and feel your heart rate slowing. Your heart rate and breathing should have lowered to a comfortable level before you move on. The time needed for rest will vary with the individual and their fitness level, but as you become fitter, you’ll notice you recover much faster.

There are many variations of HIIT workouts. If you’d like to learn more about it, or if you need to design your HIIT for your individual needs or limitations, consult with a Certified Personal Trainer.

Eve Lees has been active in the health & fitness industry since 1979. Currently, she is a Freelance Health Writer for several publications and speaks to business and private groups on various health topics.


February 2020

Simple tips to help clean our planet


A friend of mine thinks staying in bed all day is the best way to repair the planet: It reduces emissions and creates less waste. Perhaps. But it’s time to wake up and get out of bed. Mother Earth needs our help. Every small thing we can do will add up to a greater impact. And here are a few very simple things we can do (several are courtesy BC Hydro). . .

Use a refillable stainless steel water bottle, instead of plastic. You’ll find them now in many stores. Besides, water tastes much better when it sits in stainless steel, even on a hot day (there’s no plastic aftertaste or plastic particles polluting your body).

And if you decide to use plastic water bottles, always return them to a recycling centre. Don’t toss them in with normal garbage. When you’re travelling, collect them in your trunk until you can take them to a recycler.

Avoid using the plastic bags supplied by retailers: Store cloth bags (wash them regularly), plastic bins or reusable plastic bags in your vehicle for shopping or carrying many kinds of items. Plastic bags can be returned to receptacles at most large supermarkets. The bags are recycled to make new ones.

Support retailers that supply degradable plastic bags. These multi-degradable resin bags decompose in landfills. Collect them to line your smaller garbage cans.

Support organic farmers. If your budget allows, buy organic foods to encourage and support this environmentally-friendly (and healthy for you!) industry.

Turn off lights and unplug appliances when not being used (appliances can still generate power when plugged in). Turn the heat down during the day or when on vacation and unplug the television and computer too.

Buy a battery recharger and rechargeable batteries. Use battery-operated home gadgets whenever possible, such as an alarm clock or kitchen radio.

Save energy and water: Avoid letting the water run while brushing your teeth or shaving. Fix water leaks (toilet or tap) immediately. Take shorter showers: run water to wet your body, then turn it off and lather up with soap. Turn the water back on to quickly rinse off.

Consider installing low-flush toilets. In older toilets, use a displacement device in the tank: Fill a one quart plastic bottle with stones and place it in the tank. This reduces water flow by 40%, but still allows enough water for flushing.

For cooler indoor temperatures, build awnings outside, above sun-exposed windows or install canvas awnings. Set ceiling fans to rotate counterclockwise. This creates a downdraft, moving heat out of the house. In winter, rotate the blades clockwise to trap heat inside.

Replace light bulbs with energy-efficient ones, like LED (Light-emitting diode) bulbs. They cost more, but last much longer.

If possible, let your laundry air-dry, especially during the summer months.

Wash only full loads, using cold water wash and an environmentally safe detergent. Try this earth-friendly home-made laundry soap (for this recipe you’ll need a five-gallon plastic pail with lid, sold in paint or hardware stores): Ingredients: 1 bar natural soft soap, grated. 1 cup Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda laundry detergent, 1/2 cup borax, and hot water. Directions: Place grated soap in a pot. Cover with water and simmer over medium heat until the soap is melted, stirring occasionally. Pour into the five gallon pail. Add washing soda and borax. Add enough hot water to fill the bucket. Stir with a long wooden stick. Let sit overnight to gel. Use one cup per load of laundry. Store in old detergent containers or leave in the bucket, covered.

Vinegar mixed with salt (or baking soda) is an effective all-purpose surface cleaner and deodorizer.

Oven cleaner: Dampen grimy areas with water and pour salt on them while the oven is still warm. When the oven cools, scrape the grime away and wipe clean.

To clean and deodorize toilet bowls, sprinkle baking soda on the water. Add a little vinegar and scrub with a toilet brush.

For cleaning glass, combine equal amounts water and vinegar in a spray bottle.

Unplug clogged drains by pouring ½ cup baking soda into the drain and chasing it with ½ cup vinegar. Wait a few minutes. Rinse with hot water.

Think before you purchase new technology or appliances: Do you really need more “stuff” or do you really need to replace the old? Is it recyclable or reusable in any way?

Computers, stereo equipment, etc. can be dropped off at most recycling centres.

Recycle your laser printer cartridges by using services that refill the cartridges. A recycled and refilled cartridge eliminates hazardous landfill waste and is much cheaper than buying a new cartridge.

Inkjet colour printer cartridges can often be returned to the store where you purchased them.

Getting a new cell phone? Environmentalist David Suzuki says one of the reasons he won’t have a cell phone is because of the non-degradable landfill waste they create. Help reduce this by recycling your old cell phone. Your phone carrier or most recycling centres will accept your old cell phone, tablet or iPad. A quick internet search will show others in your area who may accept your old phone.


A former newspaper editor, Eve Lees has also been active in the health & fitness industry since 1979. Currently, she is a Freelance Health Writer for several publications and speaks to business and private groups on various health topics.


January 08, 2020

Choose fresh fruit for dessert


Here’s a novel idea for a New Year Resolution: Cut back on rich desserts. This can help boost your good heath and reduce unnecessary food energy (calories).

Fruit is a healthful and delicious substitute for those decadent, fat and sugar-rich desserts. And there’s many to choose from. A piece of fresh fruit like a pear or an apple can be an enjoyable dessert, especially for lazy cooks who appreciate ‘quick and simple.’ Another easy desert for guest or family is a fruit bowl of a variety of fruit cut in small pieces. Along with the fresh fruit you can offer small bowls of healthy “sprinkles” for toppings, like nuts or seeds, ground flax or chia seeds, shredded coconut, or cinnamon.

For those more artistic, make a ‘cake’ using large cuts of watermelon or other melon as the ‘layers’ of the cake. Top and surround the layers with whole or cut assorted fruit, like strawberries and kiwi. Surf the web to find many other creative ideas with fruit.

 At the restaurant, ask if they happen to have fresh fruit. If not, enjoy fresh fruit later at home. When invited for dinner, ask if you can bring dessert: a fruit platter, a watermelon, or a box of mandarin oranges. 

You don’t have to completely deprive yourself of the occasional rich dessert. But your body will thank you when you more often choose a small serving of fresh fruit, instead of a fat-rich and sugar-filled cake or pie (not to mention the unnatural preservatives added to commercially-prepared desserts). And you probably won’t feel as lethargic after eating fruit, as you would after eating a rich dessert.

Eve Lees has been active in the health & fitness industry since 1979. Currently, she is a Freelance Health Writer for several publications and speaks to business and private groups on various health topics.



December 04, 2019

Age not a factor in getting fit!

Aging is not a factor in getting or staying fit. Those in their 60’s and older can just as easily build aerobic endurance, strengthen muscles and burn body fat as younger people.

One study on inactive men and women aged 57 to 70, found significant cardiovascular improvement after nine to twelve months of aerobic training. Their VO2max (a person’s maximum capacity to transport and use oxygen) increased as much as 38 percent; similar results as in younger subjects.

Muscular strength is also not affected by aging. We can lose about 30 percent of our strength between the ages of 50 and 70, and another 30 percent per decade after that. However, much of this strength loss is preventable if muscles stay active. Strong muscles promise increased functional ability as we age: Resistance training reduces risk of falling, relieves arthritic pain and is critical in preventing osteoporosis.

In one Tufts University study, nine people aged 87 to 101 improved their leg strength with weight training exercises. In eight weeks they strengthened their front thigh muscles by an average of 175 percent. One of the participants, a 101-year-old retired dentist, increased his strength by 200 percent over what it was at 95.

We’re never too old to build muscle, either. A 90-year-old has nearly the same capacity to create new muscle fiber as a 30-year-old. Research shows after only six weeks of training, muscular definition (depending on diet and body type) is just as visible as in a younger person. About a third of muscle mass is lost by the age of 80. However, lost muscle can be regained with strengthening exercises. Various studies show we can reverse two decades of muscle loss (of both strength and mass) with just two months of resistance training.

How about weight loss? This also, is apparently not affected by age. In an Australian study, sedentary women aged 50 to 70 were able to lose weight and body fat after following regular swimming and walking programs. Another study at the University of Pittsburgh showed inactive 60 to 75-year-old participants lost weight after following a sensible diet and exercise program.

Many symptoms blamed on aging are also symptoms of inactivity. If we aren’t physically active, our metabolic rate (internal activity) slows drastically. A slower metabolism affects the ability to lose weight, the efficiency of absorbing nutrients from food, and the effectiveness of the immune system. As a result, the risk for health problems can increase.

For the older inactive adult just beginning an exercise program, the exercise recommendations are the same as for an inactive person of any age – especially getting a doctor’s approval. However, the recovery process after physical exertion takes longer as we age. Therefore, it’s important to listen to your body and train sensibly. Despite this caution, older athletes are showing us we can continue physical pursuits for as long as we like.

Eve Lees has been active in the health & fitness industry since 1979. Currently, she is a Freelance Health Writer for several publications and speaks to business and private groups on various health topics.


November 06, 2019

Ongoing suspicions about artificial sweeteners

Sugar is sugar is sugar . . . research adds to the suspicion that artificial sweeteners really aren’t any better than regular table sugar, if you are trying to control your weight or reduce your diabetes risk.
Artificial sweeteners have long been thought to have a minimal effect on insulin response, and therefore have a minimal effect on blood sugar levels. However, artificial sweeteners may indirectly affect insulin response. These sweeteners may promote glucose intolerance (and therefore diabetes) by changing the bacterial balance in the gut. The study was published in a few years ago in the journal Nature and the findings met with mixed reactions among experts. But since then, further studies have found relatively the same results.
Impaired glucose tolerance was noted in mice fed artificial sweeteners at an equivalent level to the maximum recommended amount for humans. A few human volunteers were also tested for several days. The metabolic changes resulted from a change in the balance of bacteria in the large intestine in all the mice, and a majority of the human participants. Skeptical experts say the link between insulin intolerance and gut bacteria seems unlikely, but other experts claim intestinal bacteria can have powerful effects throughout the body.

The study focused on three non-calorie sweeteners, with saccharin showing the greatest effect on mice and the human volunteers. Certain types of gut microbes were more common in the saccharin-fed mice. When intestinal bacteria from these mice were transplanted to healthy mice, those animals also developed glucose intolerance. Only four of the seven human volunteers fed high levels of saccharin showed signs of glucose intolerance, but their study lasted only six days, while the testing of the mice went on for 12 weeks.
Researchers say not all artificial sweeteners will have the same effects. Sweeteners on the market all have very different chemical compositions, and each of these non-digestible chemicals will have a different effect on intestinal flora. However, the study clearly shows more skepticism and research is needed regarding all sweeteners.

Artificial sweeteners are promoted as an aid to help transition into a lower-sugar diet. But the “backdoor” effects of these sweeteners may eventually lead to the same insulin/weight gain problems created with consuming any type of artificial sugar.
Slowly reduce your intake of artificial and refined sugars like table sugar (sucrose). Cut back gradually on the amount you add to your hot beverages until you are accustomed to using very little or none at all. And it’s not just the sugar you add to your tea or coffee – there’s plenty in almost every processed, packaged food. Replace the refined sugars with fruit or dates to sweeten your baked goods. And when you have the craving for a sweet treat, opt for the natural sweetness of fresh fruit, dates, or frozen grapes.

Moderation is the key. And choosing more nature-sourced forms of any food, instead of synthetic ones, also makes sense. Mother Nature knows best.
Eve Lees has been active in the health & fitness industry since 1979. Currently, she is a Freelance Health Writer for several publications and speaks to business and private groups on various health topics.



October 09, 2019

Acid reflux: Got GERD?

Acid Reflux occurs when stomach acid leaks back up into the esophagus. The symptoms include chest pain, heartburn (a hot sensation felt in the chest or throat after eating), dry cough, regurgitation of food, or a sour-tasting liquid in your  mouth. Many of the symptoms seem to increase at night, when lying prone in bed.

Anyone can experience mild symptoms of Reflux on an irregular basis simply from normal daily occurrences, including size of meals, physical activity, sleep loss, body position and pressure changes between the stomach and chest cavity.

Reflux is common in babies (but less common in those breastfed) and most outgrow it within a year. Women many experience reflux during pregnancy, from the increase of pressure on the abdomen. Reflux can also be associated to obesity, from the abdominal fat putting pressure on the abdominal cavity. Aging will also loosen tightness of the lower esophageal sphincter, thereby increasing the risk of acid backflow. Lack of sleep and certain medications can create Acid Reflux in all ages.

However, Reflux becomes gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) when the symptoms occur more than once a week and on a weekly basis.

Food moves down the esophagus and then passes through the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) before ending up in your stomach. If the LES fails to close tightly, acid from the stomach may flow back up into the esophagus, causing Acid Reflux.

The LES prevents backflow of the powerful acids which kill microorganisms, help break down food and assimilate its nutrients. But if the esophagus is exposed too often to a backflow of acid (GERD), it becomes damaged and chronically inflamed. The damage leads to much more than just a chest pains or a burning throat. It can contribute to chronic coughing, asthma, laryngitis, chest pain, pulmonary disease, dental erosion, and even cancer of the esophagus.

Sadly, reflux is becoming a common disorder. Even in China and some European countries, where it was once rare, cases of reflux have increased. Experts attribute several factors to the loss of tension in the LES: less sleep and increases in bodyfat, eating more calories, dietary fats, processed foods and drinking more alcohol.

It’s not known what the exact cause of Reflux is; much of the research shows a correlation, not causation. But there are steps you can take to minimize your discomfort or your risk of developing GERD.

Eating a diet high in fibre seems to help (although researchers are not sure why) and also low in fat. Focus more on lots of whole grains, fruit and vegetables. High fat diets seem to create a chain of events that relax the LES, which you don’t want to happen! Fats also take longer to digest so they stay in the stomach longer, which increases stomach pressure and in turn promotes Reflux.

Other suggestions are to eat slowly, chewing your food well. Mealtimes should be relaxing and stress free. Eat until you are satisfied; avoid overeating and stuffing yourself. Those with GERD should avoid lying down for at least 30 – 60 minutes after eating. If symptoms are worse when lying in bed at night, elevate the head of your bed a few inches. Excess abdominal fat puts pressure on the abdomen, pushing upward on the stomach. Therefore, weight loss may be a good idea if you are overweight. Tight fitting clothes can also press into the abdomen and the LES.

Factors shown to worsen Reflux include large meals, coffee, chocolate, alcohol, nicotine, carbonated drinks, and processed foods. Some find citrus or tomatoes aggravate them, but each of us may have specific triggers. Researchers find people with reflux are most likely to eat irregular meals, fast foods and high sugar foods, very hot or very cold foods, very spicy foods, and very fat-dense foods. Smokers are also more prone to GERD, as nicotine affects the ability of the LES to function properly.

Some medications and supplements may cause Reflux, and medications for Reflux can have side effects. Talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

Eve Lees has been active in the health & fitness industry since 1979. Currently, she is a Freelance Health Writer for several publications and speaks to business and private groups on various health topics.


September 17. 2019

Are your shoes causing your back pain?

There are many reasons for back pain and that includes your choice of footwear. Shoes may alter how you walk, run, and stand. This leads to muscle imbalances that can harm the muscles of your lower back.

A muscle imbalance from improper shoes will only compound with time. On average, we take about 5,000 to 8,000 steps daily. Each step you take eventually snowballs into a worsening problem. Unless you do something right now, over time your chances of getting back pain (or making it worse) will increase substantially.

High heels are a common cause of back pain in both men and women. A woman’s high stilettos are well known as a potential problem. However, a man’s dress shoes and cowboy boots can create the same heel height imbalances on their muscles and joints.

Any heel that’s over an inch high causes you to walk with your back arched and your knees slightly bent. As a result, your quadriceps (front of thighs) work harder, your calf muscles shorten, and approximately 200% more stress falls on your kneecaps as you walk. This all reflects upward into your spine, as it is designed to handle some of the stress as you walk. It’s wise to avoid wearing higher heels if you plan to be on your feet for long periods.

Flat shoes may not be the answer, either. Many offer no support for your feet as you walk. Poorly-styled flats place 25% more impact on your foot with every step than high heels do. Your hips and lower back will bear the impact too. Be sure your flat shoes have padding and arch supports (see other buying tips at the end of this article).

Toning shoes are hyped as being fat burners and leg shapers, but they are actually a bad choice for back pain sufferers – or those wanting to avoid back pain. There is no proof that the studies supporting the benefits of these shoes are properly controlled studies. And some studies show no benefits at all: In heart rate tests, calorie burning tests, and exertion tests, toning and rocker shoes were statistically identical to regular running shoes. Other studies find toning shoes add instability to your gait, causing your muscles to work harder. But this unstable, unfamiliar way of walking (which, by the way, is not normal) puts more stress on your muscles and joints. The thick soles of toning shoes prevent the foot from flexing naturally as you walk, flattening your arch and making your body absorb more of the impact from each step. This leads to pain in your back, hips, knees, ankles, and feet.

Another poor shoe choice to avoid, concerning back pain, is the flip-flop sandal. We have to “bunch” our toes to keep them from falling off as we walk. This interferes with the proper walking mechanics of using the front of the foot to move forward, and this makes the hips overcompensate to keep us moving. You’ll suffer lower body fatigue, muscle imbalances at the back of your legs, and an aching lower back. In addition, flip-flops offer no cushioning for the soles of your feet. Avoid flip flops if you plan to be on your feet all day. Reserve them for poolside use or on the beach when you don’t plan to do much walking around.

Choose to invest in supportive, flexible shoes that cushion your feet as you walk. Sneakers and running shoes are considered a smart choice, but any well-designed and practical piece of footwear will help prevent back pain. This doesn’t mean you have to shop in the orthopedic section, buy orthotics, or wear clunky, unfashionable shoes. There are millions of affordable, attractive shoe styles to provide comfort for your feet and safety for your spine.

When shopping for shoes look for low heeled shoes, with a contoured insole that supports the arch. They should be easy to bend or flex in your hands, especially at the forefoot. Allow at least half an inch of extra room in the toe area to allow for proper flexing and gripping as you walk. The shoes should feel comfortable when you try them on in the store – not pinching or binding your foot. And, incidentally, there no truth to the belief that you can eventually stretch or “break in” your new shoes. That belief is not good for your feet!

Eve Lees has been active in the health & fitness industry since 1979. Currently, she is a Freelance Health Writer for several publications and speaks to business and private groups on various health topics.



August 08, 2019

Be safe in sunlight

For a healthy dose of vitamin D, it’s smart to be out in the sun for about 15 to 20 minutes (without sunscreen) on most days of the week. Sunlight is also important to help boost the feel-good neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, etc. Studies show just ten minutes of sunlight can improve mood and even relieve depression. Sun exposure is also linked to the health of your gut and microbiome.

For good general health, you don’t need to be basking in sunlight for hours. In fact, too much ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun and tanning booths can increase the risk of early skin aging or skin cancer.

Everyone should limit their time in the sun, especially between the hours of (approximately) ten o’clock and three o’clock, or when the sun is in its highest position. Also, use caution with other sources of UV radiation, like sunlamps or tanning beds.

After 20 minutes of your vitamin D dose, if you plan to be outdoors longer, take steps to protect your skin. Seek the shade as much as you can: alternate sun exposure with frequent shady breaks. And also consider the following:

Sunscreen lotions should have a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 at the very least. 30 SPF is best, but more than that really isn’t any more effective. Apply lotions at least 30 minutes before going outdoors. After swimming or excessive sweating, be sure to reapply.

UV radiation can be reflected from water, sand and pavement (and in the winter months, snow and ice). Be careful sitting at a window in the direct sunlight as the UV rays are still harmful when passing through windshields and windows. And cloudy days are no protection – UV rays can still pass through clouds.

It’s wise to wear some type of hat to shade your face, as well as your neck and ears. Hats with wide brims are much better choices than visors or baseball caps, which won’t cover a very large area. And always wear sunglasses to protect the eyes.

For clothing, choose fabric with a tighter weave and a darker colour for best skin protection (lighter fabrics won’t protect the skin as well). Long sleeves and long pants are best. Clothing with ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) are a good investment if you need to be outdoors for longer periods: The higher the UPF rating, the more protection provided.

UPF umbrellas are also available and another good investment. Keep one handy in your car.

After taking steps to protect your skin, here’s one more health tip . . . before heading outside, don’t forget your water bottle!

Eve Lees has been active in the health & fitness industry since 1979. Currently, she is a Freelance Health Writer for several publications and speaks to business and private groups on various health topics.



July 04, 2019

Avoiding Menopausal Weight Gain

Weight gain is very common during menopause. However, it is certainly possible to prevent weight gain at this time of life. Here are a few suggestions . . .

Reduce the refined carbohydrates: Cut back or stop eating refined sugars and other highly changed carbohydrate foods. These are more quickly absorbed than unchanged or unrefined carbs, and can create metabolic problems. For example, opt for baked sweet potatoes or potatoes (eat the skin too) instead of potato chips!

Add fiber: Eat a high fibre diet that includes flaxseeds, which may improve insulin sensitivity. The highest fibre foods in our diet are legumes, squash, most root vegetables, and whole grains. But many other foods also provide lots of fibre, like pears, raspberries, and practically every whole, unchanged vegetable.

Be cautious with alcohol and caffeine. We are all different, but there are some women who find cutting back or eliminating alcohol and caffeine can substantially reduce weight gain. This may be due to the disruptive effects alcohol and caffeine can have on the hormone balance of some individuals.

Exercise: During and approaching menopause stored fat is utilized more effectively it the fat-burning hormones are activated (leptin, thyroid hormones, adrenaline or epinephrine, glucagon, DHEA, testosterone, and others). And exercise physiologists find the best way to activate these hormones is during exercise that provides frequent, short bursts of higher intensity. Weight training programs or HIIT (high intensity interval training) are recommended. Consult a Certified Personal Trainer or a fitness instructor at your local fitness center for more information on these exercise methods. For more about exercise and burning fat more effectively, read my blog

Rest and relax: Try to relax before bed and get enough sleep, in order to keep your hormones and appetite under control. Meditation, hot baths, herbal teas before bed are some suggestions.

If you follow these steps, it may even be possible to lose weight during this time.

Eve Lees has been active in the health & fitness industry since 1979. Currently, she is a Freelance Health Writer for several publications and speaks to business and private groups on various health topics.



May 08, 2019

Why nutrition is confusing and often inaccurate


Nutrition is a relatively new science. Most vitamins weren’t even identified until the early 1900’s. We learn more each day – so our knowledge, opinions and beliefs are continually changing. And we often debunk what we thought we knew in the past.

There is no direct cause and effect noticeable between nutrition and health. It takes some time to become ill from eating poorly. And the reverse can also be true: It may take time to improve health with dietary intervention. Therefore, other factors can be inaccurately credited for the health condition.

Most studies show a correlation, not causation – especially the highly inaccurate survey-type studies called Observational Studies. And studies using mice, rats or test tube observations do not necessarily relate to the human body. Even some studies or health reports can be biased and inaccurate if they are offered by those who have a vested interest in a particular theory or a product’s success.

We are all individual. A single study can’t account for the myriad of factors that make each of us uniquely different. Therefore there is not a single diet, supplement, food or food group that will improve everyone’s health – we are as individual in our health needs as we are with our fingerprints.

The tools we use to measure or gauge our health can be highly inaccurate – like counting calories or judging health by body weight.

There are too many self-proclaimed nutrition experts who really have no education or knowledge of the Science of Nutrition. Some are well-meaning and care about our health, while others want to convince us to believe what they promote for their personal, political or financial gain. We are more exposed today to this type of misinformation, due to the popularity of the internet.

We rely on those who we assume are “experts” in nutrition. However, many of these sources do not have the years of education needed to even begin to understand the complex, confusing Science of Nutrition. And sources such as medical doctors are trained in the Science of Medicine, not the Science of Nutrition (these are completely different sciences).

The media also contribute to health misinformation. Journalists who are not knowledgeable about nutrition can misinterpret study results or health reports, relaying them to the public inaccurately.

Eve Lees is a Nutrition Coach, a Health Speaker, and a Health Writer for several publications. For more health articles Google “Eve Lees Blog” or visit



April 09, 2019

Banking on good health


There is a continual banking system happening in your body every day. Transactions occur all the time. When you eat, you credit your "account" by depositing vital nutrients. However, you're also debiting your account because the digestive system uses up nutrients just in doing its job. 

Depending on your food choices, your account can be either overdrawn, balanced, or collecting a fortune. Unfortunately, the average person is overdrawn. Highly refined foods constitute the majority of what we eat. Refined foods offer far less nutrients than whole, unrefined foods.

As you eat a highly refined food, your body requires “nutrients” and other properties in your foods for your body to “work” – for the digestive system to operate, as well as other functions involved with digestion. Your body uses several stored nutrients and will also use some of the nutrients in the food you are eating. However, a nutrient-depleted refined food isn’t able to put any nutrients back.

Infrequent eating of refined foods won't put your account in the red; at the very least you’ll stay in balance.  However, many of us make poor food choices at practically every meal, withdrawing continually on good health.

Sadly, breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks for the average person today are mostly foods that don't resemble their original form: Potato chips, bars, breads and pastas, cakes and cookies didn't occur that way naturally. Over time, the lack of nutrients in these types of foods will snowball into many health complications.

To keep your account in credit, find a healthy balance of food choices. More often, eat foods that aren't as tampered with or changed by humans. Prioritize the foods that are as close as possible to how Mother Nature created them.

Choose an apple as a snack instead of a cookie or sports bar. How about snacking on a whole bell pepper or a handful of cherry tomatoes? Try to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, cooked whole grains and natural meat choices.

If you save the processed, refined "fast foods" as an infrequent treat, you can still be a wealthy nutritional banker.

Eve Lees has been active in the health & fitness industry since 1979. Currently, she is a Freelance Health Writer for several publications and speaks to business and private groups on various health topics.




March 06, 2019

Should everyone take aspirin to prevent heart disease?

Willow tree bark has an active ingredient (a phytonutrient called salicylic acid) that acts as an anti-inflammatory and painkiller. It’s been used since the 1800’s to treat fever and pain.

Today, Aspirin, derived from willow tree bark, is our most commonly-used drug. Aspirin’s salicylic acid also acts as a blood thinner. And it has become even more popular lately, because many rely on this blood-thinning property to prevent heart disease.

In the 1950’s and 60’s evidence was showing aspirin reduced the risk of blood clotting. And by 1970 if was found taking aspirin regularly protects against heart attacks. The official recommendation today is those with a history of heart disease or stroke should take a low dose aspirin daily. However, those without a known history should only follow these recommendations when the heart disease benefits from taking aspirin outweigh the risks of bleeding. Evidently, bleeding can be a severe side-effect linked to regular aspirin use.

If you’ve never had a heart attack or stroke and decide to take low-dose aspirin daily to prevent blood clotting, you may increase your risk of a hemorrhagic stroke (bleeding within the brain) and several other major bleeding complications. Discuss the risks/benefits with your doctor.

However, the best advice for those who have no history of heart attack – but are worried about it – is to start worrying about what you are eating, instead. Willow tree bark isn’t the only plant that has anti-clotting or blood thinning properties – ALL plants have phytonutrients like salicylic acid or other properties that thin the blood.

There is plenty of evidence to show heart disease can be prevented, and, yes, even reversed by eating more plant-based foods; veggies and fruit, root vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds – and putting less focus on oils, dairy, and meats. This is supported by credible research, including the famous Framingham Heart Study. The study’s long time director, Bill Castelli, endorses a plant-based diet. Castelli believes if we all ate healthfully, the heart disease epidemic would disappear.

Heart disease is the 2nd leading cause of death among Canadians (cancer takes first place). If taking blood-thinners could indeed reduce our current epidemic levels, this is truly a sad reflection of our current diet. And it’s a strong indication that we need to eat more veggies!

Eve Lees has been active in the health & fitness industry since 1979. Currently, she is a Freelance Health Writer for several publications and speaks to business and private groups on various health topics.



Jasnuary 2019


Pass the veggies please . . .


Studies have linked diabetes and many other disorders with environmental pollution. And researchers say most of our exposure to these pollutants is from eating contaminated food as a result of bioaccumulation up the food chain. It’s estimated more than 90% of our chemical pollutant intake is through dietary ingestion of animal fats.

In my opinion, this is just more evidence to focus on eating plant foods. As a nutrition coach, I am very uncomfortable with the higher-protein diets (like the Paleo diet and even the Low Carb diets). And no, you don’t have to become a vegetarian either (if you don’t want to): just eat waaaaay more plant foods than animal foods!

Even if we consume chemicals in meats and pesticide-treated plants, a major benefit to eating more plants is the FIBRE, which helps pull toxins out of our bodies. Plus, plants contribute far more antioxidants and other disease-fighting compounds (which also help remove pollutants) than meats do.

Incidentally, if you can’t afford organic veggies and fruit, the benefits of eating nonorganic plants FAR exceeds the risks of eating NO vegetables at all. Why?

Because when your body (and particularly your immune system) is strengthened from the hundreds of health-boosting properties in plants, your body will have the strength and ability to deal with pesticides and other pollutants.  

Like water off a duck’s back.

Eve Lees has been active in the health & fitness industry since 1979. Currently, she is a Freelance Health Writer for several publications and speaks to business and private groups on various health topics.


December, 2018

Demand “healthier” foods from the food industry

If you are truly concerned with the quality of the foods supplied to us, you can send a message to the food industry by being conscious of what you put in your shopping cart.

We are continually being ‘tracked’ regarding our food purchases: online and on-site in stores. Even those “points” cards you use are also helping those in the food industry track your purchases.

Cut back or stop buying the junk and focus more on whole, quality foods. This sends a message to the food industry of what we are ‘demanding’ and that can affect what we are being ‘supplied.’ Keep buying cookies and candy bars and you’ll keep seeing lots and lots of them on the shelves. But stop buying them and those manufacturers will be scratching their heads finding a way to adjust to the public’s healthier demands. Even if they decide to make the candy bar higher in fibre, well, at least that’s a start!

It’s all economics: supply and demand. The organic food industry is a perfect example of this supply and demand cycle. For many years, it’s been an iffy industry, not really regulated. But because there is lots of evidence (shown by our points cards!) that the general public is buying lots of organic products, the supply has increased. It’s much easier to find organic fare today and the prices also seem to be lowering.

In addition, food inspection agencies took notice of our increased demand for organic foods. Now, in Canada, organic foods are finally being regulated. There are now standards set and organic farmers are being regularly inspected to ensure they are indeed supplying us with organic fare.

And all because we began to “demand” it, as reflected by our purchasing choices.

We can each make a difference. One step at a time. So keep buying the healthier foods and cut back (or stop) buying the junk.

Eve Lees is a Nutrition Coach, a Health Speaker, and a Health Writer for several publications.

For more health articles by Eve visit  


October 17, 2018

Meditate on this . . .

Meditate in some way daily – even if it’s just ten to 15 minutes.

Meditation is ‘exercise’ for the brain – and it can train you to control your thoughts, especially to be able to stop the constant mind-chatter of senseless worrying. Meditation develops the ability to look inward and change an emotion you may not want to feel: anger, unhappiness, etc.

No, there is nothing wrong with feeling these emotions or being “stressed.” But dwelling for too long on worries and fears is not conducive to good health. Ongoing research continues to show us the many physical and mental benefits of keeping your cognitive cool. Each time you meditate, you strengthen your ability to decide what thoughts you want to occupy your mind with (make it ‘better’ thoughts!).

Do a variety of meditations or stick to the one you like. And incidentally, meditating doesn’t mean you have to wear sandals and beads and stare into a candle flame while chanting. Here are several “meditation” ideas that are my personal favourites:

Visualize a bright white light surrounding you and feel your body functioning perfectly and efficiently.

Relax in a warm tub, close your eyes and list all the things you are grateful for. Even if you are a very negative person you can still find many things to be grateful about: that you are alive, that you have a bathtub to relax in, that you have a roof over your head. Do you own a coffee table? Sure, be grateful for that too. Because while you are in a state of being grateful, there is absolutely no way you can be worried, afraid, angry or depressed.

Meditate as soon as you awake in the morning by thinking of all the positive things that will happen today (traffic to work will be light or you’ll find a $10 bill).

Meditate while you fall asleep at bedtime, reciting all the wonderful things that happened to you during the day (like the traffic being light or the $10 you found).

Make up your own type of meditation. Perhaps just listen to the sounds around you, without analyzing or thinking about them at all. Try to keep your mind blank. It’s actually quite fun to see how long you can do this before your mind wanders. Consider it a challenge, like a game of chess. And the longer you can do it, the better you become at being able to control your thoughts or, at the very least, avoid thinking about your troubles.

Practice makes perfect.

Eve Lees is a Nutrition Coach, a Health Speaker and a Health Writer for several publications.



September 12, 2018

Pre-workout fuel


What’s the ideal pre workout snack? Your snack prior to exercising is ideally what you are eating year-round. If your diet is nutritious and well-balanced, you’ll be well nourished for any physical challenge.

Water is really the only macronutrient you need to be concerned about before, during, and after short duration workouts. Staying hydrated is important. But if you need an energy boost before exercise, or if the length of your activity increases, food may also become a concern.

Generally, a snack before a shorter workout of less than one hour should be about 30 minutes before and should be no more than 100 calories. Choose a small carbohydrate snack that won’t take too long to digest, like a banana, an apple, or an orange. With a short workout, you can leave the protein and healthy fat sources for after the workout, as these are more important for building and repairing the body. Carbohydrates are our preferred source of fuel.

If your workout is a few hours long, snack 40 to 90 minutes prior and eat about 150 to 200 calories. Again, carbohydrates are your preferred food choice, but you can add a bit of protein and/or fat to make the carbs last longer: apple slices with 1/4 cup cottage cheese or yogurt, or have an orange with about ten almonds. 

When you plan to exercise three hours or longer, such as a very long bike ride or long, strenuous hike, you’ll want the same timing as mentioned above (snack 40 to 90 minutes prior) but your carbohydrate choice can be a complex, slower digesting one  and it can include a bit more of a protein/fat combination to help the carbs last even longer during your activity. One suggestion is a pre-baked potato or sweet potato, with a few nuts or a cube of cheese.

Weight trainers and bodybuilders who are lifting heavy weights in their workouts may also require a small amount of protein with their high carb snack, pre workout. And be sure to have protein with your post workout carbs as well.

During very long hikes or bike rides, you can also take along some snacks to nibble on during the activity. Fresh fruit or veggies with a small amount of nuts or cheese provide high-quality carbs for energy, with a little protein, fibre and fat to slow the carb’s digestion, prolonging the energy source. And don’t forget to pack water!

Eve Lees is a Nutrition Coach, a Health Speaker and a Health Writer for several publications.




August 15, 2018

Don’t fear ‘anti-nutrients’

Anti-nutrients are properties in certain foods that may bind or block the efficiency or the absorption of important nutrients like calcium.

However, anti-nutrients are not something that should be avoided. They are properties designed by nature to protect the food from becoming extinct. And, for all we know, they may even have a benefit (in small amounts) for humans. We just need to limit our consumption of them or prepare the food (soak it and/or properly cook it) to reduce the anti-nutrient content or potency.

There are many anti-nutrients. The more well-known are lectins and phytates in foods such as legumes or whole grains, or oxalates found in spinach and other vegetables.

Some anti-nutrients, like lectins, may cause digestive problems or more serious health complications if consumed in excess when they are uncooked or improperly cooked. However, cooking (and especially presoaking) can reduce the lectins and phytates in foods. And it’s also sensible to eat them in smaller quantities.

Incidentally, fibre (essential for good health) and antioxidants (disease fighters) can also be considered anti-nutrients because large amounts can interfere with the assimilation of many other nutrients or functions of the body.

Choose from a variety of foods in your diet and be moderate with your consumption of ALL of them. This is the best way to obtain a wide variety of nutrients, yet keep the amount of any one food’s ‘anti-nutrient’ to a safe minimum.

Eve Lees is a Nutrition Coach, a Health Speaker, and a Health Writer for several publications.



July 04, 2018

First aid for furry family members

Pets can be like family members. However, if these family members need fast medical attention, you can’t call 911.

An ill or injured animal may need to be stabilized before taken to the veterinarian, so learning the basics of first aid may be a good idea. First aid for pets is offered through several programs, including the St. John Ambulance Pet First Aid course ( The course is designed to teach first aid skills and help overcome that helpless feeling when dealing with an injured animal. It also teaches pet owners preventive measures to lower their pet’s risk for illness and injury.

The course is suitable for anyone aged 14 or older. It is suitable for a wide variety of people: dog walkers, dog groomers, pet walkers, SPCA reps, nurses and even firefighters. The focus is primarily on domestic animals – mostly cats and dogs – although much of the information can be applied to rabbits, ferrets or even hamsters. For the St. John Ambulance course, participants are not allowed to bring their own animals, but course instructors may bring their own pet to demonstrate some of the techniques.

The course covers first aid for bleeding and wounds, shock, bone and joint injuries, eye and ear injuries, poisoning, injuries from heat and cold, birthing emergencies and teaches how to restrain and transport an injured animal. Other questions and concerns can briefly be explained if requested, such as administering medications, dealing with seizures or diabetes complications.

Participants also get instruction on airway obstruction, artificial respiration and CPR. The abdominal thrusts (for airway obstruction) are fairly similar to the technique on humans. Artificial respiration and CPR techniques are also similar to the human method, although the kiss of life is given through the nose (not the mouth) of the animal, and CPR compressions are done while the animal lies on its side.

And if that inevitable earthquake strikes, participants also learn about emergency preparedness. They learn how to include supplies for pets in an emergency kit, including any medications. Most people aren’t aware that animals are not allowed in human shelters during an emergency. They need to arrange for their pet’s care ahead of time. This can also be addressed during the course.

St. John Ambulance warns the Pet First Aid Course is not intended to take the place of a veterinarian. The course is designed to offer pet lovers the information and the skills needed to stabilize an injured animal until the vet can take over. 

St. John Ambulance Pet First Aid is a 6.5-hour one-day course, or it can be covered in two evening sessions. Participants receive a certificate.

The courses are offered through several School District Continuing Education programs. For courses offered elsewhere, or to book a course for a private group (dog clubs, etc.), contact your area’s St. John Ambulance office.
Eve Lees is a Nutrition Coach, a Health Speaker and a Health Writer for several publications.


May 2018

Pollution and the exerciser

Regular physical activity can lessen the symptoms of allergies and exercise-induced asthma (EIA). However, for those who exercise outdoors in the city, pollution and allergens (like pollen) can restrict lung function and oxygen delivery. But it’s not just those with EIA who suffer. Pollutants and airborne allergens can negatively affect anyone's health and physical performance.

Carbon monoxide exposure from heavy vehicle traffic can raise the carboxy-hemoglobin levels in a nonsmoker to that of a smoker. Vigorous or high-intensity exercise speeds the breathing rate, which increases the pollutants absorbed. Pregnant women, asthmatics, those with heart disease, the elderly and young children are the most susceptible. Children are particularly at risk because of faster metabolic rates, smaller airways, and less-matured immune systems. Children should play indoors when pollution levels are high.
Pollutants can affect your physical performance in several ways: Oxygen transport to the working muscles is restricted, causing quicker fatigue and muscle tightness and cramping in some individuals. Headaches, dizziness or nausea can also be a symptom of increased pollutant intake. Coughing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath may also be experienced. Pollutants and allergens can trigger severe bronchoconstriction in those with asthma or EIA.
Weather conditions also play a part in air quality. When warm winds blow into a valley or low land areas, warm air is trapped under cooler air. Vehicle exhaust also becomes trapped, and when it reacts with sunlight, ground-level ozone or smog is created. As hot, dry weather continues, air quality worsens.

GENERAL TIPS FOR OUTDOOR EXERCISERS. Outdoor exercisers in the city, such as cyclists and joggers, can avoid unnecessary exposure to pollutants and allergens like pollen, by exercising early in the morning or in the evening. Irritants are not at peak levels at these times. Check for air pollution and allergen levels online, in the newspaper or television reports. Sensitive individuals should exercise indoors when the levels are high.
If you must exercise outdoors during peak pollution times (like midday), try to avoid heavy traffic areas particularly on tree-lined streets. Trees can trap carbon monoxide. Run, walk or cycle in open, windswept areas whenever you can.

TIPS FOR SWIMMERS. Swimmers using indoor pools may be exposed to large amounts of trapped chlorine gas, which can trigger asthma symptoms. The harder and longer you swim, the more chemical you inhale or absorb through the skin. Check that your local pool is well ventilated, or swim in an outdoor pool. Chlorine dissipates in the open air.

SUGGESTIONS FOR ASTHMA SUFFERERS. For those with exercise-induced asthma (EIA), choose an activity in a warm, humid environment. Swimming outdoors is ideal. Highly strenuous activities or exercising in cold weather will provoke EIA. When exercising in the cold, cover the mouth to limit intake of cold air and pollutants. Avoid excessive mouth breathing. Breathing through the nose will warm, filter and humidify air intake. Do at least a 5-10 minute warm-up before your activity and follow the workout with a 10-minute cool down. Talk to a doctor, pharmacist or dietician about medications or nutritional supplements to reduce allergy or asthma symptoms.

CAUTIONS FOR GOLFERS. Most golf courses use large amounts of pesticides (ask them if you are concerned). Health officials recommend washing feet and changing socks after playing. If you wear your everyday footwear (athletic shoes) to golf in, be sure to remove those shoes before entering your home. Avoid contact of your hands to your mouth. Handling the golf ball, or touching sprayed grasses and plants can pass toxins into the mouth. Those highly sensitive to chemicals shouldn't eat or drink while golfing. And a final tip for all golfers – avoid chewing on your golf tee.
Eve Lees is a Nutrition Coach, a Health Speaker and a Health Writer for several publications.


April 18, 2018

Practical ideas to design your home gym

Exercising in the privacy and convenience of your own home has many advantages, including an increased chance you’ll stick with your exercise program.

Expect to spend about $500 to $1,500 for a home gym. This estimate includes all the details, like mirrors, a portable music source, stretching mats, and miscellaneous décor. But unless you plan to train for a bodybuilding competition (or want an elaborate sound system!) you can budget even lower than the lower end of the estimate.

Your designated exercise room or area should be at least 10’ x 10’. This will offer enough room for limited equipment, while still providing space for stretching or wide range-of-motion exercises (swinging of arms or side-to-side movements).

Key items in a home gym are resistance bands and hand weights (or dumbbells). These are practical items for either a small or large space. Both are inexpensive, space-saving, and can accommodate a variety of exercises for all your muscles.

Avoid buying big, bulky equipment useful for working only a few body parts. You’ll waste money and valuable space, when cheaper space-saving devices like dumbbells and resistance bands can offer a full-body workout. If your space is small but you want more complex equipment, consider items like fold-up benches, folding wall-mounted weight-stack systems, or even collapsible treadmills and exercise bikes to keep your space open and optional for other uses. If you do decide on a heavy-duty machine, be sure it’s a multi-station or multi-purpose one, able to exercise all the major muscles (chest, back, and legs).

Cardiovascular or aerobic exercises can be accommodated with simple, inexpensive, and space-saving items such as a stepping bench or a skipping rope. Or simply do non-stop movements like knee raises or jumping jacks if you’d rather not buy any equipment.

Treadmills and stationary exercise bikes for cardio exercise can be costly and often require lots of space. But of the two options, a treadmill is a sensible investment for runners who regularly train and compete. However, if you aren’t a regular runner, consider this: Exercise bikes require less expense and less room than treadmills, and they can offer a wider variety of uses. Use the bike recumbently (sitting behind it) to put more stress on your hamstrings, as well as putting more stress on your quads (front of thighs) when sitting upright on the seat. Increase the pedal tension and push on the pedals, executing the “reps and sets” weight-training method to simulate a leg press machine. Or you can position the bike to pedal with your hands, giving your upper body a workout – especially when recuperating from a leg injury. (NOTE: Please get help to confirm proper technique if attempting any of these ‘improvised’ ideas!) In addition, since you can run or walk year-round outdoors, having a treadmill could be redundant!

If you aren’t knowledgeable about exercise physiology or exercise equipment, it’s wise to consult with a Certified Fitness Instructor to help plan your gym. A fitness specialist can recommend the equipment you’ll need to reach your goals, and also ensure you use it safely and for maximum results.

Generally, for best fitness results, you should plan to spend about 30 minutes, three to four times a week in your home gym. And with consistent training, you may be able to see those results in as little as one to two weeks.

Eve Lees is a Nutrition Coach, a Health Speaker, and a Health Writer for several publications. Google “Eve Lees Blog,” or visit



March 01, 2018


Many of our foods today have been altered, through natural evolution and/or by human intervention (by crossbreeding, which is NOT GMO). Wheat was also crossbred. Currently, commercially grown wheat is NOT genetically modified (but of course, that could change).

Crossbreeding can occur naturally and humans can do it as well (and a little faster than Mother Nature can). It involves combining two plants of a similar plant species. Crossbreeding does not genetically alter a plant, because gene splicing is not involved. However, the controversial method of Genetic Modification does require laboratory gene splicing – and this can’t occur naturally.

Practically all our foods today were naturally changed by nature (it’s called evolution) and many were changed by humans. And remember, crossbreeding is NOT GMO!

Our early carrots were purple, red, yellow, and white, until the familiar orange colour was developed by Dutch growers in the 16th and 17th centuries. Oranges didn’t exist until we created them: We crossbred a pommelo (it resembles a grapefruit) with a type of tangerine. Tomatoes and potatoes have changed. So has celery (it used to be a thin, herb-like plant – not the thick-stalked plant of today). The crab apple is the only true apple, but today there are many varieties of apples as well as pears that humans crossbred. And the wheat varieties of long ago (like Einkorn and Emmer wheat) were crossed with the hardier rye grain.

Humans created/altered all these foods listed above (and many others) long before GMO was invented. Should we stop eating these as well as the cross-bread wheat? If you won’t eat wheat because you truly believe it is questionable “Frankenwheat,” then why are you eating Frankencarrots, Frankencelery, Frankenoranges . . . ?

Wheat, like any food, should not be overeaten. But we ARE overeating wheat in the form of flour . . .

It’s not wheat or gluten specifically that should be villainized – rather, the problem is refining wheat into FLOUR. Flour is easily added to many other foods, and therefore we are overeating products that contain flour. We are overdosing on wheat in this way. Therefore, we are overdosing on gluten, which humans can’t properly assimilate in large amounts. Ideally, before we grind our whole grains into flour, we should more often eat the grains whole, cooked on the stove as you would cook rice.

It isn’t whole grain wheat berries or kernels that everyone stops eating when they go gluten free – it’s the flour-containing products like breads and cereals! Because very few people eat whole grain wheat cooked on the stove. Many don’t even know you can do that. And if we all did, there would be no complaints about gut health and gluten because you can’t overeat cooked whole grains: It takes forever to chew them and a very small amount fills you quickly. It’s FLOUR we overeat because it is in everything! We are a bread, cracker, cake, and cookie culture (and these foods are probably destroying your health more than ‘gluten’ is, which is more likely why you feel better when you stop eating ‘gluten’).

Reduce the highly processed, nutrient-depleted foods like flour and refined sugar. Stick to minimally or non-processed foods: They retain their nutrient content and THAT’s what keeps us ‘healthy’!


Eve Lees is a Certified Nutrition Coach, a Health Speaker, and a Health Writer for several publications. She has been active in the health & fitness industry for over 35 years.


Sources and more information:

Bill Nye explains GMO on youtube:

Instructions and recipes for cooking whole grains:




January 10, 2018

Is your diet slowly killing you?


Want to improve our health in the New Year?

Improve your diet!

According to Dr. Michael Greger of, “Eating the Standard American Diet today is like being a smoker back in the 1950s. Most everyone you know eats this way . . . it’s normal.”

We need to rethink that.

According to the Global Burden of Disease study, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the number one cause of death in the United States, and the number one cause of disability, is diet. Poor diet has bumped tobacco smoking to number two.

Dr. Greger adds that smoking now only kills about a half million Americans every year, whereas poor diet now kills hundreds of thousands more. Although these are U.S. statistics, this analysis applies to anyone following the current Western Diet of highly processed foods, including Canadians!

What is the simplest way to improve your diet? Choose to eat foods in their most natural form – whole foods changed or tampered with as little as possible. The more processed a food is, the less it provides the fundamental nutrients humans need to survive.

Avoid following popular or fad diets; we don’t know enough about the foods nature provides, or about the human body, to make “rules” about what to eat and what not to eat. Trust nature, not human created diets or foods.

Need more information on improving your diet?

Scroll through the articles in my Blog, or visit my website for more articles and free e-books on sensible eating:

Eve Lees is a Nutrition Coach, a Health Speaker, and a Health Writer for several publications.


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