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GULP: exploring the mysteries of the alimentary tract

February 17, 2015 | marietta forster-haberer | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Gulp - adventures on the alimentary canal

Mary Roach, dubbed by the Washington Post as "America's funniest science writer" has done it again. In her latest book, 'Gulp: adventures on the alimentary canal, she takes the reader on a mysterious adventure exploring all the nooks and crannies of the alimentary tract... all 30 feet of it. Starting with the nose (sniff, sniff) to, yes you guessed it, the 'ick factor' including the 'perfumed' part on the way. So much for a spoiler alert!

And if you enjoy this book, you may want to check out the many other hilarious titles by Mary Roach - Toronto Public Library has many copies in various formats including e-books.

If humour isn't your thing and you would rather read something more serious on the digestive system, here are further suggestions. 


          Get to know your gut - everything you wanted to know about burping, bloating, candida, constipation, food allergies, farting, and poo but were afraid to ask  No guts, no glory - gut solution, the core of your total wellness  The inside tract - your good gut guide to great digestive health  

          A woman's guide to a healthy stomach - taking control of your digestive health    Digestive wellness - strengthen the immune system and prevent disease through healthy digestion   Digestive intelligence - a holistic view of your second brain

          Digestive wellness   Gut solutions - [natural solutions to your digestive problems]   The complete idiot's guide to digestive health




African Healing Traditions...

February 11, 2015 | marietta forster-haberer | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

As I was reading up on Black History Month, I came across some highly interesting books on African Healing Traditions. To my dismay, I realized that I did not know anything about this subject - so by highlighting these books here, it is my hope that others may have their 'aha moment' too. Titles in the library range from the official African Herbal Pharmacopoeia to stories of African Tree Remedies and Rituals. 

    African American folk healing    African herbal pharmacopoeia     African American slave medicine - herbal and non-herbal treatments.

    Healing traditions - African medicine, cultural exchange, and competition in South Africa, 1820-1948      A healing grove - African tree remedies and rituals for the body and spirit    Black issues in the therapeutic process

For information on general health issues specific to Canadians of Black Heritage, see my earlier blog.

Check out also the multitude of programs at TPL celebrating Black History Month or pick a book from the recommended reading list.





Baby knows best...

January 29, 2015 | marietta forster-haberer | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Now that I am a grandma and get to enjoy child rearing at 'arm's length', that is, getting all the cuddles without the midnight feedings, I have come across many wonderful ideas that would have made life so much more fun when my little ones were babies. Okay Doctor Spock where were you when I needed you? 

Baby-led weaning the essential guide to introducing solid foods and helping your baby to grow up a happy and confident eaterOne of those wonderful ideas is 'baby-led weaning'. Baby-led what, you may ask? I know, I know, it sounded strange to me too but it makes so much sense when you consider it and chances are my daughter would not have turned out to be such a picky eater. Anyway, in a nutshell, baby-led weaning is 'letting children feed themselves from the very start of weaning.' By the way, weaning in this context does not mean the end of breastfeeding but rather the beginning of eating solids. Solids that you and I eat, not that mushy stuff that we pureed and spoon fed our little ones. According to experts, "you just hand them the food in a suitably-sized piece and if they like it they eat it and if they don’t they won’t." This lets babies experience the texture of food and let them develop their taste buds. In other words, you allow babies to have fun with food... quite a change from the customary admonition 'Don't play with your food'! And in case you worry that your baby doesn't get enough nutrition, keep in mind that you still provide all the essentials in breast milk. Once your baby is eating well, he or she will let you know in not uncertain terms that the weaning aka breastfeeding is complete. Just one more thing, make sure you are eating a balanced diet so that you and your baby are well nourished. In case you need a refresher on healthy eating for babies and the whole family, check out these books from the Toronto Public Library's collection.

     Feed yourself, feed your family - good nutrition and healthy cooking for new moms and growing families  Eating in color - delicious, healthy recipes for you and your family  Fearless feeding - how to raise healthy eaters from high chair to high school
     Get your family eating right! - a 30-day plan for teaching your kids healthy eating habits for life  The picky eating solution - work with your child's unique eating type to beat mealtime struggles forever  It's not about the broccoli - three habits to teach your kids for a lifetime of healthy eating

You may also want to check out the Baby-Lead Weaning Cookbook for more ideas.


Is there a common link between Cancer, Diabetes, Alzheimer's?

September 19, 2014 | marietta forster-haberer | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Morwenna Given, Medical Herbalist
To find out, please join us for a free health talk given by Morwenna Given, practising Medical Herbalist.  Ms. Given will talk about the basic and common molecular beginnings of Cancer, Diabetes and Alzheimer's Disease and discuss how the pathologies of each disease is interlinked.

The talk will take place on Wednesday, September 24, 2014 from 6:30 to 8:00 pm in the Beeton Auditorium at the Toronto Reference Library.

Bring your questions! The talk is free and All are welcome. 

For more general information about the prevention of Cancer, Diabetes and Alzheimer's Disease check out one of these books from our collection.


  L'alimentation anti-âge - bien manger pour bien vivre longtemps  Eating well, living well - an everyday guide for optimum health  The Alzheimer's prevention program - keep your brain healthy for the rest of your life

   Say no to cancer - the drug-free guide to preventing and helping fight cancer      Eat well age better - how to use diet and supplements to guard the lifelong health of your eyes, your heart, your brain, and your bones    Nutrition in the prevention and treatment of disease.


Nail Safety and Toe Time

July 30, 2014 | Claudia | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...


The strangest thing happened to me on two occasions at different nail salons. First, a bit about myself, I have a perfume sensitivity and prefer bringing my own products such as cream and Epson salt. Due to language miscommunication with the technician they thought I suffered from some disease and put on their NC-95 masks - which they did not wear for other customers. Ironic, as many of the chemicals and procedures in nail salons are potentially harmful and/or toxic, with increased exposure. In hindsight, I could have directed these technicians to the Center for Disease Control's webpage "Nail Technician's Health and Workplace Exposure Control".

CTV News has published a list of dos and don'ts to consider when you're at the salon and a similar article and video are featured on ABC News. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics has successfully lobbied for the removal of the Toxic 3 additives: formaldehyde, toluene and dibutyl phthalate, or DBP, found in nail polish. Also, the Environmental Working Group's (EWG) Skin Deep database offers links to ingredients, product safety and healthier options.

Learn how to professionally apply polish, get creative, learn about the history of nail therepy and design or even learn to make nail polish with some books from the library's collection...

Pro nail care  salon secrets of the professionals by Leigh Toselli  A complete guide to manicure & pedicure by Leigh Toselli  Miladys standard nail technology 6th ed  Nail structure and product chemistry 2nd ed by Douglas D. Schoon Homemade nail polish create unique colors and designs for eye-catching nails by Allison Rose Spierkermann_ebook Nails        

Diagnosed with fatty liver... what now?

July 14, 2014 | marietta forster-haberer | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Liver Disease in Canada: A Crisis in the Making

According to a report by the Canadian Liver Foundation, an estimated 25% of Canadians, or 8.5 million people, are obese. Fatty Liver disease, which is directly linked to obesity, is the most common form of liver disease in Canada. This is an alarming correlation.

So what does it mean when you are diagnosed with fatty liver disease? Some fat in the liver is normal but if fat makes up more than 5%-10% of the weight of the liver, you may have alcoholic or nonalcoholic liver disease which may lead to serious complications. 

90%-100% of people who abuse alcohol develop fatty livers. But what about people who do not drink or drink moderately and still have fatty liver? Their condition is called nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). The cause of NAFLD is not clear but obesity, high cholesterol/triglycerides, and insulin resistance go hand in hand with NAFLD.

Currently, there is no medical treatment for fatty liver disease but as Dr. Julie Chen put it, NAFLD should act as a wake-up call prompting us to make the necessary lifestyle changes to keep our cholesterol, sugar levels and weight in balance. 

Here are some titles in TPL's collection that you may want to check out on fatty liver and other liver disorders.

  Healing fatty liver disease - a complete health & diet guide, including 100 recipes     Fatty Liver You Can Reverse It Liver disorders - a Cleveland Clinic guide

   Dr. Melissa Palmer's guide to hepatitis and liver disease        Fast facts - liver disorders          The liver disorders and hepatitis sourcebook

What's in my cosmetics? There's an app for that!

May 31, 2014 | Emoke | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

6a01774483f2be970d01a511b10cc5970cAre you concerned about the toxins that exist in your cosmetics? You are not alone. The good news is that there are websites that are dedicated to such info, such as EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database. Other sites are included in a blog by a colleague of mine.

To make life even easier, Lily Tse has created the Think Dirty app, which gives us the opportunity to check for harmful ingredients on our smart phones, right in the store. Read all about it in a recent Toronto Star article and also on Global News.

The mobile app was launched last summer and lists more than 68,300 products. According to the founder: “All of this information exists in other places, but it’s buried in documents or on web pages where it takes you five clicks to find it. I wanted to create something that was easy to use and in plain English from credible sources, so (consumers) can make an informed decision,” says Tse.

The app ranks products on a 10 point scale, with 8-10 containing harmful ingredients with the potential to cause serious long-term health effects, like cancer. "The app describes the ingredients and their known implications for health, and then offers substitutes for “cleaner” products."

The app is currently only available for iPhone, but should be available for Android this summer.

Fresh, Light Breakfasts for Spring!

April 26, 2014 | Emoke | Comments (3) Facebook Twitter More...

Index.aspx My latest blog was inspired specifically by this book, Recipe Rehab - 80 Delicious Recipes That Slash The Fat, Not The FlavorIt is available in ebook format as well. Based on the show Recipe Rehab where celebrity chefs compete against each other to transform a family's unhealthy recipe into a healthier one, while still having it taste great! These chefs, including Spike Mendelsohn, Aida Mollenkamp, and Candice Kumai, team up in the book along with others, to teach readers how to make these amazing recipes.

 Breakfast Recipes: (Please check the book for exact measurements, but I have selected recipes in which you can use whatever measurements you like)

 Grab-and-Go Bagel and Lox Sandwich-

Basically a healthy alternative to the breakfast sandwich. Combine cream cheese, capers, chopped scallion tops. Mix these well. In a separate bowl mix some arugula, lemon juice, freshly ground black pepper. Spread both sides of a whole wheat bagel thinly with the cream cheese mixture, lay a slice of smoked salmon, tomato, cucumber and red onion slices on top, followed by the arugula salad. Enclose the bagel, cut in half and serve up!

 Tropical Parfait-

Basically a healthy alternative to the store-bought yogurt parfaits, which are full of sugar. This recipe does not have to be pretty or exact, simply mix together yogurt and fruit and save the granola and coconut for the top layer, if you don't want to be exact. Cut up tropical fruit: pineapple, mango, papaya, kiwi, etc., and place fruit mixture in your dish, add a layer of nonfat vanilla Greek yogurt, some dried fruit and almond granola, and repeat the layering process once more. Top it with shredded unsweetened toasted coconut.

 Cranberry-Ginger Oatmeal-

Basically a healthy alternative to the instant packaged oatmeal, or I'm sure the ones that coffee shops sell. Add butter to a pot over medium heat, melt, then add one cup of rolled oats, cook for just a few minutes. Pour one cup of unfiltered 100 percent natural apple juice and one cup water into the pot, along with 2 teaspoons peeled and grated fresh ginger, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon. Simmer 5 minutes. Stir in 1/4 cup dried cranberries, pinch of salt, 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract and cook for another 5 minutes or until soft. Top the finished oatmeal with banana slices.


 Enjoy these tasty healthy breakfast recipes!


How much protein do we need?

April 7, 2014 | marietta forster-haberer | Comments (1) Facebook Twitter More...

According to experts at the Harvard School of Public Health, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of how much protein we need. One popular way of calculating how much protein a person needs is by the formula:

                         Weight in pounds x 0.8 = Average protein needs


Canada's Food Guide on the other hand, recommends protein intake by the number of servings based on age range:

Recommended Number of Food Guide Servings per Day - Meat and Alternatives
2-34-89-1314-18 Years19-50 Years51+ Years
Girls and BoysFemaleMaleFemaleMaleFemaleMale
1 1 1-2 2 3 2 3 2 3


To better understand these recommendations we need to take a look at what qualifies as proteins and what role proteins play in our well being. In a nutshell, protein is found in the following foods:

  • meats, poultry, and fish
  • legumes (dry beans and peas)
  • tofu
  • eggs
  • nuts and seeds
  • milk and milk products
  • grains, some vegetables, and some fruits (provide only small amounts of protein relative to other sources)

Proteins play an important role in our well being. They are part of every cell, tissue, and organ in our bodies. And because proteins are constantly being broken down and replaced, we need to supply our bodies with adequate protein in our foods which brings us back to the earlier question... what is an adequate amount of protein?

The average person in North America is not protein deprieved. As a matter of fact, we are likely to eat too many proteins. As spelled out before, not everyone needs the same amount of protein however. People with special protein needs include

  • pregnant and breastfeeding women
  • athletes
  • dieters
  • vegetarians and vegans
  • growing and developing children
  • the elderly
  • people recovering from illnesses


For more information on proteins and how they work, check out some of our resources in the library:

    How proteins work    Nature's robots - a history of proteins    Introduction to proteins - structure, function, and motion 

  Proteins  Proteínas en mi plato - Protein on my plate  Why we need proteins

  Proteins - for a healthy body  The protein counter  The molecules of life - DNA, RNA, and proteins


Make Time For Your Health

March 29, 2014 | Emoke | Comments (3) Facebook Twitter More...

  HealthThese days everyone, including myself, seems to have difficulty finding the time to be our healthiest selves. Being your healthiest self means different things to different people.

I do my best to try to change my eating habits and cut out the bad stuff like wheat and sugars, but being human and all, I definitely slip up from time to time. And thank goodness for cheat days! In terms of physical fitness, I try to get in an hour at the gym a day, six days a week, but once again, this takes some serious discipline for me!

I will share with you some of my personal tips on how to make more time for your health, and provide links to some of the experts' tips on doing so:

My tips:

  • above all else, you have to first educate yourself about what it means to be healthy today. Take the time to read books, online health news, etc. This is the only way that it will feel worthwhile for yourself to change your eating habits. In other words, you need to know why you are doing what you are doing. Then you are more likely to take the time to make smarter food choices.
  • decide on a schedule for yourself for how long you will work out daily and which day of the week can be your "off" day. Off days can be used for healthy eating habits and workouts as well. For myself, I find it gives me something to look forward to once a week, and pushes me through the more disciplined days.
  • talk to friends and family and see if anyone can join forces with you in working out, as this way you may be more likely to actually do it. Find someone who is a health nut too, they will have great information for you. (These were all the foundation tips. Next, the more practical tips)
  • pick a day of the week when you will go to get your healthy groceries for the week. If you stick to this, then you will have healthy items on hand to pack healthy lunches and make healthy dinners.
  • take a look at your schedule, see what elements can be cut down (such as screen time) and try to replace this with an hour of workout time. Workouts for me happen either earlier in the day or later, depending on my work schedule. It's unrealistic for me to plan to work out at exactly the same time daily, as my work schedule is not the same every day.
  • it's a good idea to write down whether you are sticking to these healthy habits or not. If not, evaluate what other activities can be reduced or eliminated from your schedule to fit them in.

Experts’ Tips:

Please have a look at books from the Toronto Public Library website on this important topic as well:

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Toronto Public Library helps find reliable, understandable health information for you and your family.