November is National Health Food Month

Celebrate your health – naturally

Consumer interest in learning how to promote and maintain health naturally is at an all-time high. At the same time, scientific research in the area of the benefits of using natural health and organic products has also grown exponentially.

National Health Food Month is an annual initiative of the Canadian Health Food Association (CHFA) that shines a spotlight on natural health and organic products with the intention of broadening consumer awareness of the products and their benefits. It’s also an opportunity for dedicated manufacturers, retailers, wholesalers, distributors, growers and importers of natural and organic products to showcase the industry’s high-quality products.

Recognized each November, National Health Food Month serves as a reminder for Canadians that natural health and organic products are:

  • federally regulated
  • safe and effective with health claims supported by research
  • an integral part of promoting and maintaining health

To assist in promoting National Health Food Month, CHFA will highlight the latest research that focuses on the long-term value of natural health and organic products for health and well being.

The research comes from the scientific abstracts contained in the newest issue of Research & Your Health, an educational resource produced by the CHFA, in collaboration with InspireHealth, and exclusively for CHFA members. Canada’s foremost integrative cancer care centre, InspireHealth, is a not-for-profit charitable organization located in Vancouver.

Here’s a line-up of topics and a quick summary of the conclusions from the research:

Vitamin D

There’s been a lot of information about the benefits of vitamin D lately. A growing body of evidence about the link between vitamin D and reducing risk for colorectal, breast and prostate cancers led the Canadian Cancer Society to recommend a specific amount of vitamin D supplementation in 2007.

A study published in the July 12, 2010 issue of Archives of Internal Medicineexamined whether an association between low serum levels of vitamin D and cognitive decline or dementia can be demonstrated. The researchers concluded that low levels of vitamin D were associated with substantial cognitive decline in the elderly population they studied over a six-year period and suggest new possibilities for treatment and prevention.

Whole foods

Whole foods are unprocessed and unrefined, or processed and refined as little as possible. Turns out they’re great for human health. Take the example of nuts. Researchers looked at nuts and the effects of consumption on blood lipid levels. What they found was that the benefits of eating nuts were greatest among subjects with high baseline LDL-concentration (low-density lipoprotein also known as the bad cholesterol) and with low body mass index and among those consuming Western diets. They published these results in the May 10, 2010 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.

Fish oil

Use of non-vitamin, non-mineral “specialty” supplements has increased substantially over recent decades. Fish oil is one example. Researchers found the use of fish oil was associated with a 32 percent reduced risk of a type of breast cancer (ductal). Fish oil is known to have anti-inflammatory or anticancer properties. The findings are published in July 2010 issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.


Canada celebrated its first-ever Organic Week October 9-16. The event recognized the growing interest in all things organic and attracted unique events and activities in many communities across the country. CHFA was proud to be a Championship Sponsor of this inaugural event. The organic sector has been growing 20 to 35 percent per year, according to the Canada Organic Trade Association. The retail value of organic food products in Canada in 2008 was estimated at $2 billion, according to a 2008 Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada study, approximately double that of 2006. Clearly, Canadians are interested in organics and with a new, regulatory regime for organic food in force since July 1, 2009, it’s easier than ever to identify food that is certified organic.

More evidence has come to the forefront about the demonstrated benefits of natural health and organic products. We encourage Canadians to recognize and support National Health Food Month. Visit your local natural health retailer today. Your health will thank you.

Canadian Cancer Society Announces Vitamin D Recommendation

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photograph by Peter Sircom Bromley

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