September 9th, 2015

5 Tips For Better Bone Health

Our bones support us – literally – throughout our lives. It’s especially as we age – and when those bones start to creak a little – that we tend to become more aware of the importance of bone health, and of the risk of osteoporosis, a disease marked by low bone mass and deterioration of bone tissue (which often leads to increased bone fragility and breakage). But keeping our bones strong and healthy should be a priority at any age. 

Visit to schedule an appointment to learn more about bone health.

We spoke to Tanya Long, Senior Manager of Education for Osteoporosis Canada, about ways that you can boost your bone health at any age. She offers these five tips.

Balance Your Diet

A well-balanced diet, says Long, is one that features foods rich in calcium, adequate protein and plenty of fruits and vegetables. Foods like these not only ‘feed’ the bones, but provide other nutrients that are important for bone health, too.

Get Enough Calcium

Food, Long says, is the very best place to get your calcium. But if, for any reason, your food sources are not adequate in terms of providing the calcium your bones need, speak to your doctor. You may then consider taking a calcium supplement, on your doctor’s advice.

Supplement Your Vitamin D

Osteoporosis Canada recommends routine daily Vitamin D supplementation all year round for adults. Vitamin D, Long explains, isn’t always easily found in food sources and she says sun is simply not a reliable enough source of Vitamin D. Seek medical supervision, however, if you’re thinking of taking more than 2,000 International Units of Vitamin D per day.


We know that exercise is crucial in building and maintaining strong bones. Long says your exercise routine should include strength training (such as wall push-ups or working with free weights), balance and posture training, as well as weight-bearing activity (weight-bearing means any activity requiring you to be on your feet, like dancing, walking, stair-stepping, etc.)

Your doctor can advise about helpful medications.

See Your Doctor

Over 50? Talk to your doctor about a fracture risk assessment, which will tell you your risk of breaking a bone in the next 10 years. Also, all women and men 65 years or older should have a bone mineral density test. If you are at high risk of fracture, Osteoporosis Canada recommends medication, on advice from your doctor. Find out more about the role of medication in treating osteoporosis here. 

To find out more about osteoporosis and bone health in general, please visit the Osteoporosis Canada website.

And find out more about how to identify your osteoporosis risk factors – and how to minimize that risk – at one of London Drugs’ Osteoporosis Screening Clinics.

February 6th, 2012

Goal-setting—How to set and reach your goals

A study in 2007 by Richard Wisemen from the University of Bristol showed that 78% of those who set New Year’s resolutions fail, and those who succeed have 5 traits in common.* Men achieved their goal 22% more often when they engaged in goal setting, while women succeeded 10% more when they made their goals public and got support from their friends.

Goals—specifics vs. generalities

Businesses set goals to achieve growth or profitability over time, and competitive athletes set training goals so they’re ready for important competitions. Individuals may have big picture goals, such as eating healthier or becoming more active, but how can you make sure you actually get there?

Setting goals that are specific gives you a long-term vision and short-term motivation. When you set goals that are clearly defined it lets you set milestones and see your progress, giving you the self-confidence to carry on and achieve your objectives.

How to set personal health goals

Think about what your end goal is, and then put it into specific terms. For example, if you want overall health, what does that mean to you? Does it mean you can run five kilometres non-stop, or does it mean you reach a particular measurement such as a lower BMI? Whatever your final goal is, write it down in a journal.

  1. What is a reasonable amount of time to achieve this goal? For health goals, you should check with your doctor or London Drugs personal care pharmacist for guidance. Note in your journal the date by which you want to accomplish your goal.
  2. Set milestones between today (or your start date) and the date you want to achieve the goal. For example, if running five kilometres is your goal, and you’ve given yourself two months to do it, break the five killometres into smaller increments over that time period. That may mean you want to run one kilometre after one and a half weeks, two after three weeks, etc.
  3. There are certain things you know you’ll need to start doing to achieve your goals, and certain things you’ll need to stop doing to be successful. For example, to achieve your five kilometre goal you’ll need to start running on a regular basis. That may mean you’ll need to stop doing other things to make this happen, such as swapping TV watching time in the evening to run. You may also need to change what you’re eating to allow your body to literally fuel your goal. Break down the time between your milestones even further to create a step-by-step blueprint to reach your end goal.
  4. Reward yourself along the way! When you reach milestones, celebrate them. You could buy yourself new running shoes after you run your first full mile, or treat yourself to a deep tissue massage.
  5. Join social groups to help you stay motivated. You could download an app to track and share your results with others who have the same goals. Share your goals with your friends and family and let them know about your success and challenges along the way. Ask their help if you need it—like changing family pizza night to a family swimming night.
  6. Be flexible. Sometimes life can get in the way of achieving your goals. Don’t give up—just re-work your plan to allow for a new schedule. Your goals are important, and worth pursuing. Stay strong and you’ll realize them!

* Blame It on the Brain: The latest neuroscience research suggests spreading resolutions out over time is the best approach, Wall Street Journal, December 26, 2009

January 30th, 2012

Where to start with diet and exercise

When you decide you want to make changes in your lifestyle, it can be confusing to know where to start. Nutrition advice and opinions from friends, the news or the Internet can be confusing. And reading about the benefits of anaerobic vs. aerobic exercise, or strength training vs. cardio can seem overwhelming. The easiest place to start is with Canada’s Food and Physical Activity Guides.

Included in the package you receive when you take a London Drugs Nutrition Clinic are two simple guides to point you in the right direction. Canada’s Food Guide breaks down the quantities of different food groups you need in order to get the essential amount of vitamins, minerals and nutrients to help reduce your risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and other health conditions. It also addresses the specific food needs of children, women of childbearing age and individuals over 50. On the back you’ll find tips about reading nutrition labels and how to eat (not just what to eat.)

Canada’s Physical Activity Guide, published by the Public Health Agency of Canada, is an even simpler guide. It focuses on one thought—sit less, move more. It follows with suggestions for how to do this, breaking activities into endurance, flexibility and strength. Everyday activities such as strolling or dusting count, as do swimming or jogging at the other end of the exertion spectrum. Fun activities like dancing or playing hockey are also covered. The key is to start slowly and build from there. Try taking one flight of stairs at work instead of the elevator all the way, or walk to the corner store instead of driving.

Both guides are included in the package you receive when you register for a London Drugs Nutrition Clinic.

Where will YOU start?

You can get the best advice by making an appointment with your family doctor, or registering for a Nutrition Clinic at London Drugs. Download the schedule and store information at, and call to book your one-on-one consultation for a nominal fee.

Also, take part in our conversation by following us on Facebook at We have daily topics that we’d love your thoughts on.

Watch for next week’s article, “Goal-setting—How to set and reach your goals

January 23rd, 2012

What is BMI and why is it important?

As mentioned in last week’s article, many people tie the number on a bathroom scale to what a healthy weight is. But that’s not the real story.
A standard bathroom scale weight reading doesn’t take into account your body composition, so determining your BMI (Body Mass Index) is an important measurement. It determines the amount of body fat as a percentage of total body mass (weight.) Excessive body fat can put you at a greater risk for health problems such as
  • high blood pressure
  • heart disease
  • High LDL counts (the “bad” cholesterol)
  • type 2 Diabetes
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Sleep apnea

BMI—Body Mass Index Calculation

Body mass index is calculated by dividing an individual’s weight in kilograms by his or her height in meters squared.
Example: If you convert a weight of 145lbs to kilograms (66) and height of 5’7″ to metres (1.7) the formula would be 66/(1.7×1.7)=20.8*. Then you would look at the standard BMI chart to see where that measurements falls:
  • <18.50 is considered underweight (risk of other clinical problems)
  • 18.50-24.99 is considered average
  • 25.00-29.99 is considered pre-obese (increased health risks)
  • 30.00-34.99 is considered obese class I (moderate health risks)
  • 35.00-39.99 is considered obese class II (severe health risks)
  • ≥40.00 is considered obese class III (very severe health risks)
However, you can book a London Drugs Nutrition Clinic and get a much more accurate reading of your body composition, as well as important information on healthy eating and physical activity based on Health Canada and Public Health Agency of Canada guidelines.

Distribution of BMI Categories by Sex, Ages 18-79, 2007-2009

The Canadian Health Measures Survey from Statistics Canada looked at the average BMI distribution for the Canadian population back in 2007–2009 with the following findings.

What is YOUR BMI?

The most accurate way to determine your own BMI is to make an appointment with your family doctor, or register for a Nutrition Clinic at London Drugs. You can download the schedule and store information here, and call to book your one-on-one consultation for a nominal fee.
Also, take part in our conversation by following us on Facebook at We have daily topics that we’d love your thoughts on.
Watch for next week’s article, “Where to Start with Diet and Exercise
* Because several factors can influence the above calculation, such as body proportion and composition, family health history, etc. it’s best to have a full analysis done by a professional, one part of which would include a BMI measurement.

January 16th, 2012

What is a healthy weight?

Many people tie the number on a bathroom scale to how healthy they are, but gauging your health by this number alone would not give you the full picture.
Your body weight is a start, but you also have to factor in height, age, gender and, finally, analyze what percentage of your weight is fat. All those factors paint a picture of your overall health. It’s important to measure this, as an overweight reading has been tied to health risks such as type 2 diabetes, dyslipidemia, hypertension, coronary heart disease, gallbladder disease, obstructive sleep apnea and certain cancers*.
Some scales can give you a body fat percentage, but the most accurate reading will be done by your doctor or at a London Drugs Nutrition Clinic. The clinics are one-on-one, and completely confidential. Your measurements and results are for you only, and you’ll receive the latest information on healthy eating and exercise in accordance with Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada.
Once you have a credible starting point, using your weight to track your progress is a good way to proceed. You have to remember your weight as shown on a scale can fluctuate day-to-day for many reasons, so it’s best to weigh yourself once a week at the same time for consistency and to allow for those variations. Once you’ve established a baseline of weight, BMI and body fat percentage, you can use weight as a simple monitoring tool to chart your progress in any lifestyle changes you’ve made. If you took a London Drugs Nutrition Clinic, you can schedule a follow-up appointment six to eight weeks down the road to get another full reading.

Some statistics for Canada

– Overweight and obesity have increased in Canadians over the past two decades.
– Over 1 in 4 Canadian adults are obese; 8.6% of children aged 6 to 17 are obese†
– Underweight health problems include osteoporosis, infertility and impaired immunocompetence.
– Your scale weight is not a good enough indicator on its on of whether you are at a healthy weight or not.

What is YOUR healthy weight?

The very best way to determine your own healthy weight is to make an appointment with your family doctor, or register for a Nutrition Clinic at a London Drugs store close to you. Download the schedule of clinics and phone numbers here, and call to book your one-on-one consultation for a nominal fee.
NOTE: Each London Drugs store holds only one day of consultations between now and March 2. Please check the schedule here to find the day your closest store is offering the clinics.
Connect with others who are making lifestyle and health changes—take part in our conversation by following us on Facebook at We have daily topics that we’d love your thoughts on.
Watch for next week’s article, “What is BMI and why is it important?”
* From “Canadian Guidelines for Body Weight Classification in Adults,” Health Canada, 2003
† From “Obesity in Canada,” Public Health Agency of Canada, Canadian Institute for Health Information, 2011

October 21st, 2011

Preventing Colds & Flu

As soon as children return to school, colds and other ‘back to school’ ills begin in earnest, quickly spreading to parents and older siblings, through workplaces and other communities.

The tendency to gather indoors during the colder months hastens the spread of viruses, culminating in the dreaded ‘flu season’ at the end of the year…

Although it’s hard to think of cold prevention during those warm September days that mark the end of summer, this is the time of year we need to get started on our prevention strategy for winter ills.

“Every year like clockwork, two weeks after kids go back to class, the cough and cold season starts with a bang,” says Dr. Alan Kaplan, Chairperson of the Family Physician Airways Group of Canada (FPAGC) and executive member of of the International Primary Care Respiratory Group (IPCRG).

“It’s no surprise that respiratory infections spike when people suddenly change their routines, diets and sleeping patterns – which makes them more susceptible to infection – and then gather together in small rooms for hours on end,” Dr. Kaplan explains. He references a research project on hygiene in schools, led by Dr. Charles Gerba, a professor of environmental microbiology, which found that 50% of the classroom surfaces examined were hosting some sort of virus.

“With those kinds of opportunities for transmission, it’s no wonder that, on average, 200,000 schooldays are missed because of illness in Canada every month,” says Dr. Kaplan.

How Viruses Spread
Of course, it’s not just young children who become sick shortly after school starts (although the closeness of little ones, and sharing behaviors – especially with food and drink – tend to get the viral ball rolling). Students of all ages bring home germs they’ve picked up in school, to share with their families. Family members then go on to share them with friends, coworkers and other members of their various communities.

“People infected with rhinovirus or influenza are contagious starting about 12 hours before they even start to feel any symptoms, making it very difficult to prevent spreading those viruses around,” says Dr. Kaplan.

The Best Prevention
The very best way to prevent colds and flu is to wash your hands often and teach your children to do the same. You should wash your hands before and after shopping trips (most supermarkets and drug stores now provide gel dispensers or wipes for this purpose), and always before eating/preparing food and after blowing your nose, or wiping your child’s. You can purchase hand santizers at London Drugs. Here are a few more pointers:

  • Remember to wash your hands after touching elevator buttons, keypads, public phones, doorknobs and stair rails.
  • Avoid handshakes whenever possible, and go wash your hands afterwards if you do greet someone this way. (Meet-and-greet events, cocktail parties and similar gatherings where food is offered are prime environments for viruses to spread.)
  • If someone coughs or sneezes near you, move quickly away and/or cover your nose and mouth. If you have a cough or cold, be sure to use a tissue or sneeze into the crook of your arm.
  • For adults and children over 12 years of age, consider taking an immune-supporting supplement like non-drowsy COLD-FX® or COLD-FX® Extra Capsules.COLD-FX® may be taken preventatively as well as to reduce the duration of a cold.
  • Be sure to attend to the basics of good health and a strong immune system: get a minimum seven hours of sleep nightly, be physically active every day, and eat lots of healthy fruits and vegetables, low-fat protein and whole grains.

Although there are no guaranteed ways to prevent catching a cold, with a strong prevention strategy, you increase your chances of staying healthy throughout the winter months.

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