Nutrition Wellness 

Emily Isaacson's Nutrition Column

Ask the Nutritionist...

By Emily Isaacson    Nov 4, 2016

Q: I have low thyroid function. Is there a natural way to improve thyroid health?

A: There are several ways to improve thyroid health. The most important one is to have a high quality source of natural iodine in your diet. Iodine is often low in soil where there is not a close proximity to the ocean, and demineralization of soil where commercial agriculture is farmed over decades can also reduce our dietary intake. The best way to ensure you have iodine in your diet apart from iodized salt is to consume several forms of sea vegetables. Iodine is a trace mineral and as such does not need to be consumed in large quantities. Taking kelp capsules, or eating nori, kombu and other forms of sea vegetables on a regular basis can be quite beneficial. Consult your health professional for daily dosages or for a compatible iodine supplement.

Also consider eating organic food, as there are less toxins from pesticides and more trace minerals in the soil. Heavy metals can accumulate in the human body over time, and some, such as copper and lead, can interfere with the metabolism of trace minerals. Heavy metals are present in pesticides, as well as other sources such as mercury amalgam dental fillings. Reducing or removing these heavy metals can require special precautions and specific dietary measures. These neuro-toxins can interfere with the function of endocrine glands such as the thyroid, reducing its normal functioning. Also consider that some vegetables interfere with thyroid function if consumed in excess, such as raw cruciferous vegetables. Broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts and kale are all in this family, and should be cooked if you have thyroid problems. Avoiding refined sugar can also help reduce thyroid exhaustion. Reach for a piece of fresh fruit instead, for a natural pick-me-up, and forgo the donuts.

Ask the nutritionist by sending your questions to  through the end of the month. Emily is the nutritionist at the P U L S E Nutrition Clinic in Mission, B.C.

Potassium is an important ingredient for heart health

by Emily Isaacson    Oct 28, 2016

Seniors Nutrition Care: Why do we need potassium?

In our later years, the importance of good nutrition becomes paramount. When the leading cause of death is heart disease, we should take steps to improve heart health. There is more to regulating high blood pressure than just avoiding sodium, and curtailing the salt shaker. Potassium and sodium are two electrolytes that should be in balance in a 2:1 ratio. If you want to improve the health of heart cells consider that potassium is a nutrient you should observe on food labels when you eat. You can increase the level of potassium in your diet by eating potassium-rich foods or even taking a potassium supplement. Avocados are particularly rich in this nutrient, even more so than bananas, the traditionally consumed food for this valuable cell salt. If you consume your potatoes with the skin on, you get the advantage of increased potassium as valuable nutrients are higher in the skin and peels of vegetables and fruit. Put potassium chloride in the salt shaker, it tastes almost the same as sodium chloride, the typical table salt. Use this form of potassium to flavor homemade soups and grains.

Potassium is essential for the health of heart cells. The heart would not even be able to contract without adequate levels of potassium as it keeps the magnesium in the cell. When people's electrolytes get dangerously low due to dehydration or eating disorders, such as bulimia, they are in danger of having a heart attack. When people have heart attacks in their younger years, not due to a heart condition, it is potassium levels that contribute. Stay healthy by increasing the potassium in your diet, present in fruits and vegetables, particularly spinach, sweet potato, apricots, mushrooms, and vegetable broth. Observe the label when you buy food for its potassium level in addition to the sodium level. The popular colored electrolyte drinks for re-hydration after sports are being surpassed by natural electrolytes present in drinks such as coconut water, a great way to feed your heart cells.

Come in to the P U L S E Nutrition Clinic and see nutritionist Emily Isaacson today. We are located at 33077 First Ave, Mission, B.C. Or visit us online at

Ask The Nutritionist...

Published Oct 7, 2016  in The Mission Record.

Q: My kids all come down with colds in the winter months. Is there a natural way to help their immune systems?

A: There are several ways to improve your immunity using diet and herbal supplements. Winter months can increase the incidence of colds and flu because traditionally people spend more time indoors where air is re-circulated and eat less fruits and vegetables that are high in vitamin C. While fresh produce was once available more seasonally, we now have access to it year around, so make sure your children get enough during the cold season. It is true that people are more likely to eat raw foods such as salads and fresh fruit in the summer, because they have a cooling effect on the body. Cooked foods have a warming effect. Although the colder months make people more likely to eat hearty, cooked foods, you can steam or sauté your vegetables and cook fruits to get your nutrients. You can also supplement your vitamin C intake in the winter with Emergen-C, an effervescent vitamin C packet that is easily added to water to form vitamin and mineral complexes that are active in the human body. Give one to each family member each day.

Avoiding allergens in foods helps reduce the load on the immune system, so watch out for your child’s food sensitivities, and even have them tested by a naturopath. Keeping the house clean reduces the exposure to dust and other environmental allergens, but consider using chemical-free cleaning products. All these consumed or inhaled toxins together can make you more likely to catch the next bug.

Herbs that help super-charge immunity include licorice root, which can be consumed as a tea. Simply boil the root for ten minutes or buy as tea bags. Golden seal is a traditional native herb that helps protect against colds and flu, and can be bought in health food stores as a tincture or bulk herb. Astragalus boosts the immune system and can be consumed as tea. Echinacea tinctures work well at the onset of a cold, and should be continued for short durations of perhaps two weeks at a time.

My favorite way to get rid of a cold right when it occurs is to make this potent tea. It has a strong taste, but will often get rid of a cold within 24 hrs. Simply cut fresh slices of ginger root, and boil them in 2 cups of purified water for ten minutes. Then add 2-3 cloves diced fresh garlic. Let the tea sit and infuse the fresh garlic. Drink 1-2 cups of this cold-busting tea hot.

Ask the nutritionist by sending your questions
to  through the end of the month. Emily is the nutritionist at the P U L S E Nutrition Clinic in Mission, B.C.

Healthy Fats Improve Concentration

By Emily Isaacson. (Published in part by the Mission City Record 9/30/16)

Senior's Care Nutrition: Why do we need healthy fats?

A balanced diet helps maintain our good health throughout the life-cycle. Everyone's food intake each day should include some healthy fats. Even if you follow a low fat diet or are vegetarian, it is important to include oils that are rich in Omega-3 essential fatty acids (EFA's). These are found in fats that are not usually cooked, such as flax seed oil, hemp seed oil, salmon and fish oil.

Eating salmon, mackerel, or sardines three times a week is one way to get the right dose of these heart-happy oils. Borage oil and Evening Primrose oil are Omega-6 oils and contain GLA which is essential for brain health. Olive oil and Avocado oil contain Omega 9, oleic acid.  Coconut and palm oil are naturally saturated vegetable oils that are necessary for making cholesterol for hormone building. Choose extra-virgin unrefined coconut oil, which also contains oleic acid.

When your oil is in balance, your brain will also thank you due to increased concentration, recall, and energy. Omega 3-6-9 oils and even Omega 7 (found in Buckthorn Oil) are not only recommended for the aging population, they are nutrient of choice and necessary for everyone. Omega-3 oils are particularly helpful for children with trouble concentrating in school, and those with ADHD. These healthy fats are necessary to build cells in the human body. Each cell has a lipid bi-layer made of these essential fatty acids. Skin and hair dryness are the typical result of deficiency. Consuming 1-2 tablespoons a day will give your body what it needs to get your metabolic fire burning.

Avoid fats that have no nutritional value such as refined vegetable oils, found in clear bottles that have been made shelf-stable. Also avoid animal fat, and hydrogenated fats, such as shortening and hard margarine. Did you know that shortening is the key ingredient in almost all store-bought bakery products that makes them shelf-stable? It is also a very damaging fat, that has no nutritional value and causes obesity by slowing down the human metabolism. If you avoid all shortening and hydrogenated oil including palm oil, you will avoid all the problematic food that causes obesity in the grocery store, including bread, buns, crackers, pie, cookies, cakes, boxed chocolates, and regular peanut butter.

Bake your own goodies instead with coconut oil, a healthy saturated fat that contains Omega-9 fatty acids or oleic acid, for brain development. Omega-9 is found in breast milk, and infant formula varieties also contain this important nutrient. Buy natural peanut butter for your health and for your kids, with no fats added to detract from this fun and pulse-containing food.

Come in to the P U L S E Nutrition Clinic and see nutritionist Emily Isaacson today. We are located at 33077 First Ave, Mission, B.C. Or visit us online at

Ask The Nutritionist...

Published Sept 2, 2016  in The Mission Record.

Q: I do not take any calcium supplements. How do I maintain my calcium balance throughout the day on foods alone?

A: Calcium is regulated by the blood; however, whenever body tissues or the blood become acidic due to low intake, the blood compensates by drawing calcium out of the bones. Keeping your diet high in calcium and magnesium-rich foods helps ensure that you don't draw out more calcium in a day than you can replenish. The body's nutrient stores are like a bank account. You don't want to draw too much calcium out in your lifetime or you could develop osteoporosis.

Foods high in calcium should be consumed 2-3 times a day to receive adequate nourishment for the skeletal structure. These include dairy products: yogurt, milk, cheese, as well as broccoli, kale, carrots, bok choy, spinach, beans, figs, almonds, molasses, sesame seeds, tahini, and soy foods such as soy milk and tofu (processed or fortified with calcium). Magnesium assists with calcium absorption, and is found in all green foods.

According to Health Canada, the daily recommendations “for calcium are based on evidence related to bone health, largely from the results of calcium balance studies. Calcium balance, which can be positive, neutral or negative, compares total calcium intake with urinary and fecal excretion of calcium. It is used to determine the accumulation and level of bone mass.”

Although a supplement is good insurance that you'll get the DRI of 1,000 mg a day for all children over four, men and women, and 1200 mg a day for women over 50, not all supplements are created equal. The recommended supplemental form of calcium from medical studies is calcium citrate, although variations such as citrate-malate work as well. The form of calcium I recommend for bone building--to do more than just maintain your status--is microcrystalline hydroxyapatite, an extract of bovine bone. This is particularly effective in rebuilding from osteoporosis.

There are a number of factors that influence our calcium absorption. Hormonal factors such as progesterone levels increase calcium absorption through the intestines; fiber (called phytates) in whole-grain breads bind to calcium, preventing its absorption; oxalates from cruciferous vegetables bind to calcium; salt causes excretion of calcium; caffeinated beverages and foods cause calcium loss.

To find balance, try to limit sodium, caffeine, and stimulants, which use up calcium in the system, and consume more fresh vegetables, nuts, seeds and even goat's milk.

Ask the nutritionist by sending your questions to Emily is the nutritionist at the P U L S E Nutrition Clinic in Mission, B.C.

When a nutritionist is a missing piece of the puzzle

By Emily Isaacson

Senior's Care Nutrition: Why do we need a nutritionist?

A nutritionist offers an important piece of the healthcare puzzle. Even if you are in good health, it is important to see a nutritionist or dietitian at least once a year, unlike a dental checkup. A nutritionist will look at your health history, your symptoms, and your present condition to decide if you have any nutrient deficiencies. Nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, play an important role in digesting, assimilating, and absorbing our food. If our nutrients are poorly absorbed and used in the body we can suffer from symptoms of vitamin and mineral deficiency. Thus this becomes a vicious cycle, with many  unpleasant symptoms. Prevent this situation in advance by visiting the nutritionist for your nutrition check-up.

A nutritionist will assess your diet to see if it is well balanced enough to support your health through the life cycle. This helps to prevent nutrition-related symptoms such as fatigue, overweight, and disease. If your diet is inadequate or has less nutrients than your body needs, your nutritionist may recommend building foods, nutrient-rich foods, or a supplement.  Particularly in the senior years, it is important to have a good nutritionist alongside your healthcare team. They will recommend foods to help you, and advocate for you to get the nutrition you need. A nutritionist assists you to follow a therapeutic diet, particularly if you suffer from a condition or disease, instead of a fad diet. Their support in disease management is essential.

Come in to the P U L S E Nutrition Clinic and see nutritionist Emily Isaacson today. We are located at 33077 First Ave, Mission, B.C. Or visit us online at

Ask The NutritionisT...

Published Aug 5, 2016  in The Mission Record.

Q: I do not have celiac disease. Is there any benefit to eating gluten free?

A: Gluten-free eating is becoming more popular nowadays, with the increasing amount of people who have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. Also there is a much larger selection of foods available for people with these two conditions in the grocery store and health foods stores. The choice to eat gluten-free for people who are gluten sensitive has to do with digestion: some people do not readily digest gluten grains. This indigestion causes undesirable side-effect, affects the intestinal lining, interferes with calcium absorption and causes the loss of other essential nutrients. Some people, in order to be truly healthy must choose this way of eating for their lifetime. Parents, relatives, and friends can do more than previously realized, by being supportive of this choice.

For people who are not gluten sensitive the issue is one of variety. Gluten free grains offer variety for people who like to rotate their grains so as to prevent allergies. Try a few gluten free grains plain without added ingredients to get a feel for their flavors and textures. You can also offer gluten-free variety by cooking with rice and corn pastas, for example. Grains such as brown and white rice, corn, quinoa, amaranth, teff (an African grain), buckwheat (a relative of rhubarb), wild rice, and millet are all innately gluten free. Oats contain a different form of gluten, and some people with gluten sensitivity can still eat oats. Make sure to read the list of ingredients on any gluten-free product as it may still contain sugar, eggs, refined oils, and refined flours. Watch out for gluten-free products that are not made with whole grain flours and are not sugar-free. Also look for hidden sources of gluten, such as sauces and soups, with flours as thickener. Spelt, barley, kamut, and whole wheat all contain gluten, although traditionally healthy fare. This is one of the most difficult diets for people to follow, but if you choose to embark upon this lifestyle, don't despair; the benefits for digestion and absorption, reduction of digestive toxins, prevention of allergies, and ongoing detoxification are great.

Ask the nutritionist by sending your questions to through the end of the month. Emily is the nutritionist at the P U L S E Nutrition Clinic in Mission, B.C.