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Natural Health Supplements: Do they enrich our health or endanger our wellness?

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Have you recently purchased dietary supplements such as vitamins, minerals or nutritional or herbal supplements? Many of us with common problems like hair loss, skin wrinkles, irritable bowel, weight management or stress relief have reached for some of these over the counter natural health products. Or at least we know a friend who may be a proponent of these products.  According to the Health Canada website 71% of Canadians have used natural health products.

What are Natural Health Products?

Natural health products (NHPs) include vitamins and minerals, herbal remedies, homeopathic medicines, traditional medicines such as traditional Chinese medicines, probiotics, other products like amino acids and essential fatty acids as defined under the Natural Health Products regulations by Health Canada.  They typically have fewer side effects than prescription drugs and often emphasize prevention rather than cure.

In recent times there has been a growing demand for holistic health, nutrition and natural treatments. People have diverging perspectives underlying this growing health awareness in the multicultural melting pot that is Surrey. In some communities, historically developed traditional treatments and ancient herbal remedies have been part and parcel of the diet and lifestyle since centuries.

Currently along with the growing popularity of vitamins and minerals, herbs such as Indian neem, turmeric, Korean or Chinese root ginseng, kampo herbal medicines from Japan, the south American acai berry and other plant based dietary supplements are catching on within other local communities too.

But skeptics still question whether all of these really work and are they really safe?  Research has occasionally reported contrary conclusions.

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Word from the Surrey street:

Fleetwood resident Inderpreet Kaur shares some of her positive experiences using natural health products, “My whole family has traditionally always relied on aayurvedic and herbal supplements. I find them effective for skin related problems and also general wellness. Indeed I know some people also lean towards these supplements and vitamins for minor ailments such as vitamin C for a viral cold or a natural laxative for a prolonged tummy upset which would not necessarily warrant a prescription drug from a doctor. “

“Our natural health products such as aloe vera, moringa, ashwagandha can be seen more as food than as medicine” explains Mr. Aggarwal from Shubh Organic Health Foods & Supplements a popular health food store in Newton. He stresses that his recommendations to customers initially focus on their own dietary improvements and lifestyle changes. “Beyond that however customers can opt for these plant based supplements to improve the immune system of the body, reduce stress and to develop overall good health and wellbeing. “

According to Health Canada  natural health products are generally safe but not risk free. Risks include contamination, unproven claims, incorrect dosage, unwanted allergic reactions etc. as also reported in independent studies.

Regulation and testing of Natural Health Products:

As per current Natural Health Products Regulations, to be legally sold in Canada, all natural health products must have a product licence, and the Canadian sites that manufacture, package, label and import these products must have site licences. Their health claims must be supported by proper evidence so that consumers and Health Canada know the products are indeed safe and effective. Evidence may include clinical trial data or references to published studies, journals, pharmacopoeias and traditional resources. These regulations are viewed as less stringent compared to drug manufacturers that must submit results of clinical trials and also pay more to get their products assessed. This is perceived as a two tier system that is limiting the ability of Health Canada to ensure the safety and efficacy of NHPs.

A major overhaul is currently proposed to these regulations. As reported by mainstream media, under the proposed new system Health Canada would bring natural health products, over-the-counter drugs and cosmetics under one set of rules and regulate them based on the potential health risks they pose. Higher-risk natural products would require a full government review of science-based evidence before a product can be sold or health claims are approved. Lower-risk products could include vitamins, toothpaste and homeopathic products. These would not be reviewed by Health Canada and could not make any specific disease treatment or prevention claims on product labels.

Have your say:

Local suppliers of NHPs are concerned as in some cases customers may be deprived of relevant information regarding a supplement due to lack of sufficient funds to clinically test these time tested traditional remedies. The Canadian Health Food Association (CHFA) have expressed their disagreement with this proposed regulation on their website stating that the increased costs in providing the drug-level evidence required are not justified and may not be affordable driving some products and companies out of the market. Canada’s natural health products industry is valued at $3-billion, according to the CHFA. They have invited consumers and other industry stakeholders to join their consultation and have your say!

Some customers may prefer the new regulations or they may find a more balanced way to use natural products based on what they learn in this consultation. On the other hand in many cultures the philosophy of well-being is ingrained in the foundation of treating both body and mind. In order to receive a holistic natural treatment patients are expected to change their diet, lifestyle and even mindset.” Is the ‘western scientific methodology of time bound controlled clinical trials really adequate or appropriate for testing a complete other philosophy?” asks Inderpreet Kaur.

Healthlink BC also offers some useful resources on how to use natural supplements not as replacement to drugs but as part of ‘complementary solutions’ to stay healthy and safe!

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Asmita has been blogging for several years about food security, travels, faith, arts and culture. She enjoys community reporting to participate in the local conversation. She founded ‘Culture Chats’ promoting social connections through shared interests in literary and other arts. Asmita has over ten years’ experience in marketing and communications. Her professional interests include business strategy and relations, research and community development. Her family and two little ones are the center of her world.

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Food & Drink

This Surrey cafe offers a delicious Bombay brunch

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Bandra Cafe
Marco Ovies / Surrey604

Tucked away on the edge of the Strawberry Hill Shopping Centre is Bandra Cafe, one of the best places for brunch in Surrey. It offers unique menu items that are not only full of flavour but are pretty just to look at. If you’re looking for something different than your basic pancake breakfast, this is the place for you. 

Bandra Cafe serves Bombay-style cuisine that is chock full of flavour and spice. On our visit, we ordered the Bandra Benny and it did not disappoint. Just like your standard eggs Benedict it came with poached eggs, bacon, and hollandaise sauce, but was served on top of chili-cheese toast. It gave it the perfect kick that you wouldn’t normally find in an eggs Benedict, setting Bandra Cafe apart from all the other brunch spots in the city. On the side, there were crispy potato wedges and some sliced avocado. 

Bandra Cafe

Bandra Benny (Marco Ovies / Surrey604)

We also ordered their dalgona coffee, which we had never tried before. It came with whipped coffee on top of steamed milk. Our waiter politely helped us out and instructed us that we needed to stir the drink (we had just gone right in for the sip and it left us with a coffee mustache that wasn’t noticeable until we got home). The drink both looked impressive and tasted great. 

Bandra Cafe

Dalgona coffee (Marco Ovies / Surrey604)

But Bandra Cafe doesn’t just do eggs Benedict. They also serve kanda poha (a popular Bombay breakfast with flattened rice, onions, peanuts, herbs, and spices, topped with coconut and sev), Kheema Par Eedu Skillet (kheema, potato salli, fried eggs, and pav bread, described on the menu as the “Bombay breakfast of champions”), and even a vegan platter (avocado, grilled tofu, vegetables, and salad with tahini almond dressing). You can also order small bites and drinks to share if you’re coming to visit later in the evening with friends. 

The cafe itself is very modern looking with a plant wall at the entrance with a neon sign that reads “Good Brews, Good Bites.” The service was excellent and we’re excited to go back again to try the rest of their menu. 

Bandra Cafe is open Monday to Thursday from 11am to 10pm, and Friday to Sunday from 11am to 11pm. 

Bandra Cafe

 

Address: 7310 #110 120th St.

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6 of the best sushi restaurants in Surrey

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best sushi restaurants in Surrey
Sushi from Sushi California and Sushi Street (@sushicalifornia_surrey; @sushistreet_surrey / Instagram)

There are so many different sushi spots in Surrey that sometimes it can be hard to choose. That’s why we’ve created a list of the best sushi restaurants in Surrey to satisfy your next sushi craving. 

 

MaguroGuy Sushi and Grill

 

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MaguroGuy has an excellent assortment of sushi and delicious Japanese dishes. We’d recommend visiting for their lunch special Udon Set which comes with a dynamite roll, tuna, salmon, and ebi nigiri, tempura, Seafood udon (small), and a green salad.

 

Sushi Mori

What makes Sushi Mori so special? Well for starters there is a tree in the middle of the restaurant. They also make some great sushi and have plenty of specialty rolls to try like their Spicy Sunflower Roll which has crab meat, cucumber, avocado, and prawn tempura covered with spicy salmon and topped with tempura flakes, shredded red beet, spicy mayo, and aioli sauce.

 

Kami Sushi 

Kami Sushi is the best place to grab a filling and affordable lunch. The best thing to order is one of their lunch combinations that are available from 11:30 to 3:30 pm. We love their combo B which comes with four pieces of sushi, three pieces of their Reno roll, four pieces of the spicy love roll, and tempura udon for $19.95. You get a great assortment of food for a great price. 

 

Sushi California

Sushi California has a great assortment of different rolls, potentially the largest selection in all of Surrey. They have over 67 different rolls you can choose from, and that’s not even including nigiri or any of the other things on their menu. The only other sushi spot that could compete is the next one on our list. 

 

Psi Sushi & Roll

Psi Sushi & Roll is another Surrey favourite that has plenty on their menu. They also have some very unique rolls like their Flying Unicorn Roll which has crabmeat and cream cheese and is deep fried with melted mozzarella cheese. 

 

Sushi Street

 

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If you’re searching for your next picnic meal look no further than Sushi Street. They offer these sushi boxes that can feed one to four people that are perfect to take with you. We’d recommend trying Street Box #2 which can feed up to four people and has a Crazy Roll, Dragon roll, Dynamite roll, Philadelphia roll, Chicken wings, Edamame, vegetable sticks, and five kinds of special sauce. 

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Food & Drink

You can order a whole box of sushi from this Surrey restaurant

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Sushi Street Surrey
Sushi Street serves delicious Japanese takeout by the King George Skytrain Station

If you’re looking for the next great sushi spot, look no further than Sushi Street. Located close to the King George Skytrain Station, this place should be your go-to for sushi takeout. 

Sushi Street specializes in only takeout and offers quick and delicious Japanese cuisine. They specialize in bento boxes, sushi combos, and ready-to-eat foods that you can just grab and go. But probably the coolest thing they offer is their sushi boxes.

 

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You heard right, sushi in a box. They offer two different boxes that can feed anywhere from 1 to 4 people. Their Street Box 1 which can feed one to two people has a crazy roll, Philadelphia roll, dynamite roll, chicken wings, edamame, vegetable sticks, and four kinds of special sauce. 

If you’re looking for more food you can get the Street Box 2 which feeds three to four people and has a crazy roll, dragon roll, dynamite roll, Philadelphia roll, chicken wings, edamame, vegetable sticks, and five kinds of special sauce. This is the perfect meal to grab on your way to a picnic over at Holland Park across the street. 

But don’t worry, you can also order individual rolls if you’re just eating for one. They also serve inari which is sushi rice packed into a tofu pouch topped with all sorts of sushi ingredients. We’d recommend ordering the Inari Unagi or the Inari Spicy Salmon. 

 

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While Sushi Street does specialize in takeout, they do have some seats inside to sit down and enjoy your food. But regardless of whetheryou eat in or take out, we promise you’ll love the food. Be sure to visit this new Surrey hidden gem soon!

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This Surrey restaurant is serving up “monster burgers”

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Fab Burgers
Fab Burgers Inc. makes some of the best burgers in Surrey (@fabburgersinc / Instagram)

Located in the heart of Newton is Fab Burgers Inc., the home of Surrey’s “monster burgers.” What is a monster burger you may ask? Well, it’s about as intimidating as it sounds. 

Fab Burger Inc. has six monster burgers on their menu, and one of their most famous ones is the Fab Meaty Muncher which comes with breaded crispy chicken, a beef patty, chicken bacon, cheddar cheese, purple slaw, pickles, tomatoes, an onion ring, and their signature FAB sauce. It’s piled high and requires some maneuvering to be able to take a bite. 

 

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If that’s still a little too small for you, you can order their Sweet Temptation Burger which comes with three patties of your choice of chicken or beef (yes you heard right, three patties), topped with lettuce, sauteed onions, tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and finished with barbeque sauce. It’s the biggest burger on their menu and definitely deserves the name “monster burger.”

But don’t worry, they also serve regular-sized burgers for those who don’t have a monster appetite. The Flamin’ Nacho Burger is a fan favourite and has a beef patty topped with fresh salsa, onions, jalapenos, sour cream, guacamole, nacho chips, and topped with cheddar cheese.

 

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If burgers aren’t your thing, Fab Burger Inc. also sells other foods like Chicken and Waffles and BBQ Lamb Chops which are marinated with their in-house blend of seasonings and sauces and served with fries, coleslaw, and a drink.

 

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So whether you’re craving a monster burger, or just want something on the smaller side to eat, Fab Burger Inc. has it all. Be sure to visit the next time you’re craving a good burger. 

Fab Burger Inc.

Address: 7320 King George Blvd #108

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These are the best places to get coffee in Surrey

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best places to get coffee in Surrey
Whether you go to cafés for the atmosphere, food, or coffee, we’re sure there's a café on this list you’ll love. (@coffeemonster_official; @west_village_cafe / Instagram)

You can only drink so much Starbucks before you get sick of it. That’s why we’ve made this list of the best coffee shops in Surrey so you can switch it up. Whether it’s because of the great atmosphere or unique drinks, these are the best places to get coffee in Surrey. 

 

Coffee Monster

If you’re a student in Surrey then you need to visit Coffee Monster. It is the best place to get some late-night studying done. Every table has access to an outlet and it’s open until 10 pm. Plus, they have some delicious drinks like their Spanish Latte which you can order hot or iced. 

 

Bandra Cafe

 

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Bandra Cafe is one of the first Indian-style cafes in the Greater Vancouver area and has some exceptional drinks and eats to show for it. Bandra Cafe tries to copy the vibe of the area in Bombay with the same name by creating a similar atmosphere by having “dark wooden chairs and white table tops” and also by selling “dishes like salli chicken, kheema pan and mawa cake.” This is definitely a very unique cafe that you need to visit. 

 

West Village Cafe

If you’re looking for one of the trendiest cafes in Surrey, then West Village Cafe is the spot for you. With a very clean and minimalistic interior and some fancy food to eat, this might be the fanciest café in Surrey. Not only does West Village Cafe serve your coffee shop classics like lattes and pastries, but they also serve alcoholic drinks and food like tacos, a chimichurri salmon and vegetable bowl, local craft beer on tap, and more! If you’re feeling extra fancy you should head in for one of their Bailey’s coffees. 

 

Espresso Cafe

 

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Espresso Cafe is located in the heart of Newton and has a very homely atmosphere to it. From the fireplace to the home-style baked goods, there is so much to love about Espresso Cafe. We’d recommend ordering one of their filo spinach feta pastries which are delicious. They have an always expanding menu and plenty of specialty drinks on rotation so be sure to visit Espresso Cafe. 

 

The GrassRoots Cafe

The GrassRoots Cafe is a student-owned and operated café located on the Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) Surrey campus. They serve “alcoholic beverages and KPU brewed beer on tap, delicious food, snacks, coffee drinks and healthy alternative options such as vegan and gluten-free meals.” They also host a bunch of different activities like slam poetry, movie marathons, and more! Plus, if you’re a KPU student you can get a 5% discount. 

 

Prairie Cafe

 

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When a café has been around since 1949, then you know it has to be good. Prairie Cafe offers some classic vintage breakfast and coffee. They do classic American breakfast as well as Asian dishes like chicken Teriyaki, wonton soup, and chicken pan-fried noodles. If you’re looking for a blast from the past then you need to visit Prairie Cafe. 

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