Biohacking Secrets

Top Biohacking Tips that Everyone Should Know

pic of smartwatch with the word biohacking
Biohacking: What is it and how can it help you?

If you read about health topics, you’ve probably come across the term “biohacking”. The word sounds intimidating, but the concepts behind biohacking are actually quite simple: The goal is to “hack” your body’s natural processes to optimize your health.

Taken to extremes, biohacking’s “using yourself as a guinea pig” approach can lead to unsupervised self-experimentation. Extreme biohackers pursue activities such as trying to alter their DNA or implanting cybernetic devices into their own bodies. That is not a safe or recommended approach!

How Do You Do Biohacking?

Fortunately, thanks to our “biohacking best practices” research, you don’t have to track every nanosecond of your day or spend a small fortune to reap the rewards. Biohacking your health can be as easy as applying the latest scientific discoveries to your own life. If you follow us on Facebook or follow our blog, we’ll keep you updated and you can adjust as you go. It’s always a good approach to well-being to stay current with the ever-evolving research.

One of the central tenets of biohacking is that the things you put into your body (what you eat, the air you breathe, and supplements you take) shape your body’s output (your energy, productivity and moods). Your mitochondria are at the heart of this process.

What Are Mitochondria?

Mitochondria are the “batteries” that give energy to every cell in your body. These tiny powerhouses are easily influenced by their environment. In other words, they are impacted by everything your body is exposed to. When you improve their environment, you can improve the energy produced by them. The results? Far-reaching improvements in your overall health and energy levels.

What does this process look like in everyday life?

Well, because we’re all different, what works for one person might not work for someone else. As you make changes to your lifestyle, you should carefully monitor your progress as you go. Biohackers draw on the data they create to come up with solutions that make them feel their best. They avoid “one size fits all” formulas.

That means paying close attention to how you feel. The results are definitely worth it. By improving cellular function, biohacking your basic daily activities can have noticeable benefits. And it can be fun. After all, who doesn’t want to use science to feel better every day? Check out some easy ways to biohack your own health. The results might surprise you!

12 Aspects for Biohacking

  1. Genetics
  2. Oxygen
  3. Attention
  4. Memory
  5. Sleep
  6. Environment
  7. Audio
  8. Light
  9. Nutrition
  10. Movement
  11. Stress
  12. Electricity/Magnetism

These 12 are key areas that affect how your body works. They are also areas that you can influence. You may currently be influencing them in a negative way, or in other words doing the wrong thing. What “everyone else is doing” may not be right for your particular body. This is why “biohacking” entails a certain amount of trial and error to see what works best with your particular constitution.

5 Best Biohacking Tips

  1. Make the most of your genetics
  2. Breathing 101
  3. Hacking your attention and memory
  4. Improve your sleep
  5. Enhance your environment
  6. Listen well
  7. Light up your life
  8. Monitor your diet
  9. Focus on natural products
  10. Adapt to stress
  11. Hormones control it all

Making the most of your genetics

Having or not having a particular gene, doesn’t necessarily mean you are doomed to a particular fate. Genes can be turned on and off. They can be up or down-regulated depending on what you do.

For example, let’s say your father and grandfather both had diabetes. Maybe you have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes. Obviously, a gene for diabetes is being passed down through your father’s family. However, you decide to eat a clean diet and exercise daily. Lo and behold, you lose weight and reverse your pre-diabetes. In ways like this, we can biohack our genetics. Gene expression can be turned off and on based on signals from your environment and from other cells. Ensuring a healthy environment externally and internally leads to healthier gene expression.

Breathing 101

Under the influence of stress, we tend to breathe more rapidly and less deeply. Deep breaths supply oxygen to your entire body, stimulates your vagus nerve and calms your nervous system. We know that a stressed out nervous system isn’t good for our overall health. Undoing the effects of stress can be as simple as conscious breathing. At least twice per day, take 5 deep breaths into your belly. Breathe in for the count of 4, hold for the count of 7, release for the count of 8 each time. See how that makes you feel.

Hacking your attention and memory

Chronic deficiencies in zinc, iron, magnesium, iodine and long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are linked to attention problems. Clearly, diet plays a role in maintaining healthy cognitive function. Dark, leafy greens contain zinc, iron and magnesium, shellfish, seaweed and iodized sea salt contain iodine, and fish is the optimal food for PUFAs. Low glycemic index foods also benefit attention.

In addition to foods, lifestyle can also influence attention. Meditation, deep breathing, exercise, self-discipline, and self-regulation all benefit focus, attention and cognitive function.

Hormone balance is the third factor that can influence memory, focus and concentration.

Improve your sleep

By adjusting our night routines, we can improve the quality of our sleep. Biohackers look beyond the standard advice on improving sleep to carefully consider what we surround ourselves with at bedtime. For example, you may have great results by reducing the amount of blue light you’re exposed to at night. Blue light comes from electronic devices. What can be a helpful practice is staying off your devices for 3 hours before bed or switching your devices to “night mode.” Reducing the temperature in your room and minimizing exposure to electromagnetic fields can also lead to world-class sleep.

Keep in mind that our mitochondria want to rest when it’s dark and ramp-up when it’s light. Make it easier for them by creating a sleep environment that’s as dark as possible. If needed, invest in some blackout curtains or a sleep mask. You can also create a sleep-friendly internal environment by avoiding caffeine at least eight hours before you go to sleep.

Enhance your environment

Environmental factors like cold, heat, light, electricity, and air quality influence your body’s functioning. How do you feel when it’s too hot? Too cold? Do you prefer natural light or artificial lighting?

One of the most significant influences on overall well-being can be the quality of the air you breathe. If your home is older or has sustained water damage, mold can grow. Mold spores infiltrate the air you breathe and set off an inflammatory cascade in your body that can have an incredibly detrimental effect on your health. This is a serious enough situation that if there is mold in your home, you should move or do significant repairs to remediate the mold. For detailed information about the extremely harmful impact of mold, read Surviving Mold by Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker.

Listen well

The sounds you hear alter how your body works. When music enters your brain, it releases neurotransmitters called dopamine and oxytocin. These make you feel happy. Listening to music also improves your immune function. The style of music that provides these benefits isn’t that important. It’s more about what kind of music you like and relate to, whether that is jazz, country or hard rock. You may want to alter your music based on what you are doing for optimal function. While you are working or studying, classical may help with dopamine secretion, learning and memory. Pop and rock can be distracting. But, they enhance endurance and physical performance. So be sure to queue them up on your iPod when you are working out. In the evening, while you are relaxing, jazz can soothe your body and help you wind down.

Learning to play music enhances brain abilities like learning and memory.

Light up your life, or not

The timing of light entering your eyes is important and should mimic natural day and night time light patterns. Your body runs on a clock that is regulated by daylight and dark. Functions like sleeping and waking, hormone secretion, cellular function and gene expression are all influenced by the normal rhythm of day and night. Mood and immune function are impaired when this rhythm gets disrupted. As a general rule, when it gets dark outside, keep interior lighting dim and keep your bedroom as dark as possible. Avoid looking at a screen past 8 p.m. And install an app on devices to downgrade blue light and upgrade red and orange tons at sunset. Over the winter, light therapy can help alleviate Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Monitor your diet

Adjusting your nutritional intake is an easy way to start biohacking. It’s a simple concept: Any change to your diet that results in noticeable improvements in how you feel is a biohack. It goes like this: eat this, feel great, eat that, feel lousy, eliminate that, feel great.

You also want to keep in mind that what you eat influences your gut bacteria. In turn, it then affects every aspect of your health. By choosing natural, high-fiber foods, you can reduce inflammation. Too much inflammation affects mitochondria. This leads to mitochondrial malfunction, which can impact your entire body.

Biohackers are more concerned with the nutritional quality of their foods, not the calorie count. Many biohackers follow a gluten-free diet with plenty of healthy fats. Some have good results with intermittent fasting. But ultimately, the key is to pay attention to how your diet makes you look and feel and make adjustments based on that.

Focus on natural products

Even if we’re careful about what we eat, our bodies are still exposed to harmful elements as we go through the day. The water we drink, the substances we clean with, and the beauty and grooming products we use can all contain harmful toxins. These toxins impact our cellular health in ways we may not even realize. Consciously seeking out natural beauty products and non-toxic cleaning solutions helps you reduce the impact of toxic ingredients on your body.

Adapt to stress

Some biohackers use complex biofeedback systems to monitor the effect of stress on their bodies. But, controlling stress can be as simple as paying attention to your breathing. (One biohack technique is “block breathing,” which means exhaling while counting to five, then repeating the count on the inhale. Do this several times and note how you feel after.) Classic stress reduction techniques such as yoga, meditation, and “forest bathing” (walking in the wilderness) can all contribute to lower stress levels.

It may seem like a bit of a paradox, but some biohackers recommend high-intensity interval training (HIIT) for improving a body’s ability to handle stress. That’s because HIIT emphasizes taxing a body to its maximum capacity, then allowing it to recover. As a result, we teach our bodies to be more resilient. Talk to a healthcare provider if you haven’t tried HIIT training before.

Hormones control it all

The hormonal balance in your system plays a huge role in pretty much everything. Having a balanced hormonal state is key to maintaining not just good health, but this balance also allows for all of the above-mentioned tips to actually work for you. When our hormones are out of alignment, it affects so many of our daily activities. Trying to even get through the day can be a challenge, let alone trying to take your health to another level. Achieving optimal hormone balance is doable with guidance from our ND’s.

Electricity/Magnetism

Some people are sensitive to electromagnetic radiation, while others aren’t. If you think that EMR affects you, read this post for more information about what you can do about it.

As you can see, biohacking doesn’t have to be complicated. Ultimately, you’re the best scientist when it comes to your own well-being. Why not make a few simple changes to your lifestyle to see how you feel?

If you’d like to look deeper into your current status of health, find out if your hormones are causing issues in your body or learn how you can take your health to the next level, come into the office and let’s talk. We are experts in looking at the individual as a whole and creating a unique plan to get your body functioning its best.

Call us at 416-481-0222 or book an appointment online at https://forcesofnature.janeapp.com.

Authored by Dr Pamela Frank, BSc, ND

Sources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22496061

http://www.jbc.org/content/280/22/21061.full

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/03/170307155214.htm

https://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/nov/18/biohackers-strange-world-diy-biology

Food Sensitivities

man suffering from food sensitivities

Food Sensitivities: What You Need to Know

You’re careful about your health. You do your best to eat well, and you pay attention to the ways that your diet affects your energy levels. But something seems off. You’re experiencing annoying symptoms that you can’t explain. Maybe you have food sensitivities?  You’re often gassy and bloated, your skin may not be clear and glowing anymore, you may be ready for a nap after a meal and you wish you could remember where you put your keys. Why does your memory feel so foggy?

These issues are frustrating (and often embarrassing). They’re also very common. Many patients come to see us with healthy lifestyles but are baffled by continuing digestive issues, mysterious rashes, and low energy levels. If this sounds familiar, it may be time to take a good look at your diet. Even a “healthy” food can make you sick if your body is sensitive to it. For many, the food mystery becomes both frustrating and overwhelming when trying to understand what foods are nourishing you and which ones may be harming you.

But the good news is that you may not have to look very far to make changes that relieve your symptoms. With a bit of detective work and our help, we can map out a dietary plan that restores your well-being.

What are the Symptoms of Food Sensitivities?

Food sensitivities can be tricky to diagnose. One reason is that there’s no one-size-fits-all list of food sensitivities or description of the way your body may react. Symptoms can vary from person to person and can even be different depending on what else is happening in your body. For example, you might respond differently at different stages of your menstrual cycle.

Food sensitivity symptoms can include:

Gas
Bloating
Constipation
Diarrhea
Heartburn/GERD
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Swollen or painful joints
Muscle weakness
Migraines
Headaches
Dark circles under your eyes
Skin rashes like eczema and psoriasis
Brain fog – that annoying forgetfulness and lack of clarity
Acne
Fatigue
Difficulty getting up in the morning

Another reason why food sensitivities are often a missed diagnosis is that these symptoms can be delayed up to 48 hours after the food that is causing them. So many people don’t make the connection between what they ate and how they feel as much as 2 days later.

Similarly, it’s difficult to measure how many people suffer from food sensitivities because a lot of us don’t seek medical help, figuring that it’s “normal” to feel gassy and tired all of the time. In fact, conventional medical practitioners can be sceptical about food sensitivity symptoms, which can lead to frustration for patients. But it doesn’t have to be this way, not with our doctors.

What is a Food Allergy?

It’s important to recognize the difference between food allergies and food sensitivities. What is commonly called a food allergy is an immune reaction. After eating a certain food, your body’s immune system launches an attack by making an antibody called immunoglobulin E (IgE). The next time you consume that food, your body is ready to attack again. But the IgE antibody causes your body to release a chemical called histamine, which triggers the physical symptoms of an allergic reaction. The most severe version of this is called anaphylaxis or an anaphylactic reaction. This extreme food allergy reaction can be lethal. Common foods that provoke an anaphylactic reaction include wheat, soy, peanuts, shellfish, milk and eggs. Symptoms of anaphylaxis include throat swelling, lip swelling, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, wheezing and hives.

What is a Food Sensitivity?

In contrast, a food sensitivity is often caused by a different antibody, known as IgG antibodies. IgG antibodies provoke a milder immune reaction than IgE and so this is considered a food sensitivity rather than a food allergy. In both cases, your immune system is responding inappropriately to your food. But the reactions differ in intensity. IgG-mediated food sensitivities are not lethal but do affect people’s quality of life with the above-mentioned symptoms.

What If You Eat Your Food Sensitivities?

If we continue to eat the problem foods, we can exacerbate the sensitivities and our symptoms can affect more aspects of our bodies. Because our immune system creates antibodies against the food the lining of the gut can become inflamed and damaged. Eventually, the gut wall can become permeable, so that undigested food material “leaks” into the bloodstream. Not surprisingly, this is called “leaky gut” syndrome.

Why does leaky gut syndrome make us feel so lousy? There is growing evidence that the microorganisms in our guts exist in a complex relationship with our brains – what scientists call the “microbiome-gut-brain axis.” In other words, food sensitivities and the resulting leaky gut can affect our brains. And, as a result, our moods and energy levels. And that’s in addition to the general discomfort we can feel with digestive difficulties. No wonder patients with food sensitivities are often exhausted!

But what is the root cause of food sensitivities?

Research is still developing, but there are a few theories, ranging from changes in farming practices to the increased use of antibiotics, which can affect our gut bacteria and make it more difficult to digest certain foods.

What is a Food Intolerance?

A food intolerance is caused by a lack of the enzymes necessary to digest a substance that the food contains. For example, some people may develop a lactose intolerance if their intestinal mucosa doesn’t produce enough of the enzyme lactase. A lactose tolerance test is used to diagnose lactose intolerance.

Which Foods Can Cause Food Sensitivities?

Somewhat ironically, many foods that can lead to sensitivity symptoms are considered “healthy” foods. In fact, ANY food can trigger an immune response.  As a result, it’s easy to keep eating them, hoping they will improve your health and help you feel better. Yes, it’s a bit of a Catch-22! Common food sensitivity culprits include:

Dairy: The proteins casein and whey found in goat, sheep and cow milk, as well as cheeses, ice cream and yogurt are difficult for our gut to break down. The immune system then reacts against what it perceives as “foreign” protein. Your immune system is programmed to be on the lookout for foreign proteins from viruses and bacteria. So other foreign proteins like casein and whey, if not properly digested, can trigger an immune response.

Gluten: Gluten is a protein (or family of proteins) found in wheat, rye, barley, spelt, kamut, triticale, and other grass-related grains. It’s often a hidden ingredient. For example, many spices, sauces and processed foods can contain gluten. Because it is a protein, similar to casein and whey if it’ is not broken down, it can generate an immune response.

Which Foods Can Cause Food Intolerances?

Fructose intolerance: Fructose is a simple sugar found in many fruits. A fructose intolerance, also known as fructose malabsorption, is caused by an inability to absorb this sugar. Unabsorbed fructose leads to fructose fermentation in the gut, causing bloating and gas. Excessive fructose in the gut can also cause diarrhea. High fructose corn syrup is found in processed foods like cereal bars and some juices.

Histamine and other amines: Histamine is found in greater amounts in aged or stored foods such as cheese, ripe fruit, chocolate, and processed meats. These foods are often migraine triggers for people with a histamine intolerance. Normally dietary histamine is broken down in your gut by an enzyme known as DAO. Some people are genetically predisposed to low levels of DAO. Undigested histamine can create inflammatory conditions like headaches, migraines, foggy thinking, and pain.

Lactose intolerance: Lactose is a sugar present in varying amounts in dairy products like milk and cheese.  The enzyme lactase is normally located on the lining of your gut, also called the brush border.  As we age, it is normal for us to lose the ability to digest lactose.  It’s present in highest amounts when we are born and declines after we are weaned.  Where cattle are domesticated and used to produce dairy products, the presence of the enzyme can persist, but not in everyone.  If you lack the enzyme and can’t digest lactose, you may experience symptoms like bloating, gas and diarrhea from the undigested lactose in your gut.

This is not an extensive list of food allergy or food sensitivity triggers. We’re all different, and there is no universal recipe for food sensitivities. That’s one reason why seeing a naturopathic doctor is a good idea if you suspect your food may be making you sick. In addition, our medical supervision can ensure your approach to food remains healthy and balanced. Research suggests that food sensitivities can be a trigger for disordered eating in some people. After all, if food is causing you pain, but you’re not sure which foods are to blame, it’s easy to associate all food with negative experiences.

How Can You Treat Food Sensitivities?

On the surface, treating a food sensitivity sounds simple: just eliminate the problem foods. But first, you’ll have to do a bit of detective work. Because of possible delayed reaction times, the troublesome food is not always obvious. There are tests that can be done that will give you a comprehensive list of what is creating a reaction and you can eliminate the culprits, allowing your body to heal faster. A blood test for food sensitivities can help pinpoint which foods to eliminate. The test identifies IgG antibodies in your bloodstream to either 96 or 184 foods. Our naturopathic doctors can provide information about this test.  Although it may be common to produce these antibodies to foods, it is not normal for your immune system to attack food. After testing, our naturopathic doctors can then provide specifics about what to take out, for how long and which foods you could eat as alternatives. Alternatively, you can choose to keep detailed records of everything you eat. Then, under naturopathic supervision, you can start eliminating foods, then reintroducing selected foods, carefully tracking your symptoms. This is also known as an elimination-challenge diet.

While you’re following an elimination diet like this, our naturopathic doctors can provide ways to support your gut health. And as you work to track down the problem foods, you’ll want to avoid substances that are known to cause gut inflammation, such as alcohol.

 Immune System Involvement?Antibody Involved?SymptomsTestingLife-threatening?
Food AllergyYesIgEItchy mouth, itchy throat, throat constriction, swelling, airway constriction, hives, anaphylaxis,abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrheaSkin prick testing performed by an allergistCan be
Food SensitivityYesIgG and/or IgABloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea, acid reflux, heartburn, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, headaches, sinus problems, muscle weakness, joint pain, acne, eczema, psoriasis, hives, fatigue, recurrent infectionsBlood test for IgG or IgA antibodies to foods OR Food Elimination-Challenge diet through a naturopathic doctor
No, but do affect quality of life
Food IntoleranceNoNoneBloating, gas, diarrhea Fructose or Lactose Intolerance Test, ordered by an MDNo, but do affect quality of life

Do you think your foods might be causing your health issues? We have testing and treatment to help you understand which foods are helping you and which ones may be harming you. It may not be the foods you suspect. It can even be perfectly healthy foods like avocado, blueberries, salmon and almonds for example.  We’ve seen these foods test positive on food sensitivity testing in our patients. Contact us and we will work together to find the potentially hidden food triggers for your health issues.

Call or email us at 416-481-0222 or Maria@ForcesofNature.ca

To your best health!

Forces of Nature Wellness Clinic

Food Sensitivities References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28936357

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5603184/

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0277953608002773

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7460264

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41575-018-0064-z

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0306453018303950

https://journals.lww.com/co-gastroenterology/Abstract/2016/03000/A_gut__microbiome__feeling_about_the_brain.7.aspx

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/10009-food-problems-is-it-an-allergy-or-sensitivities

Intermittent Fasting

woman holding apple for intermittent fasting

 

Intermittent Fasting: Fad Diet or Science-Based?

While not eating may not sound like a treatment, fasting is one of the oldest therapies in medicine. It has been well-researched for its ability to help heal and prevent disease. When done under the proper guidance of a naturopathic doctor, intermittent fasting can lead to effective weight loss and many long-term health benefits.

Fasting Versus Starving

So, you might be wondering, what’s the difference between intermittent fasting and starvation diets? Well, for starters, starving yourself is dangerous. Our bodies still need fuel to function. Being overly calorie-restricted can cause your metabolism to slow down to conserve fuel. This defeats your weight-loss efforts.

Starvation deprives our body of essential nutrients, so it begins eating itself by burning muscle for fuel. Fasting differs from starvation because it can be practiced for 12, 16, 24, 36 or even 48 hours without the body kicking into starvation mode. Fasting flips the metabolic switch safely and effectively by forcing your body into using one fuel source (ketones) instead of another (glucose).

When we are frequently eating, our bodies are fuelled by glucose, which is a simple sugar. However, through intermittent fasting, that energy source becomes unavailable for long periods of time. As a result, the body begins to break down stored fat into fatty acids that are easily absorbed into the bloodstream.  Fatty acids can be broken down into molecules called ketones. (This may ring a bell if you are familiar with the ketogenic diet.) Ketones can be used to produce energy. After 8 – 12 hours of fasting, our metabolism shifts to replace glucose with ketones as our new source of fuel.

In a world of fad diets and weight loss gimmicks, studies show that intermittent fasting may be better for you than other dieting strategies. This is because ketones put less stress on our cells compared to the by-products of other dieting methods.

Studies also show that intermittent fasting can produce benefits no matter how it’s accomplished!

In one study, participants were allowed to fast for any number of hours a day, and then eat whatever they desired during the remaining hours. In another study, dieters alternated fasting and feasting days. On their non-fasting days, dieters either restricted their diet or ate to their hearts’ content. In both cases, results showed significant weight loss, no matter the approach!

Furthermore, participants in both studies did not lose any significant amount of lean tissue (which includes bone, muscle and organ tissue). This is in contrast to starvation diets which can sometimes cause the loss of both fat and lean muscle tissue, impacting health negatively in the long run. Loss of muscle mass means a slower metabolism. Muscle burns calories even while you are sleeping.

When Should I Fast?

It’s easiest to spend most of your fasting hours asleep, so you’re not thinking about food.

How Should I Fast?

As shown above, studies have shown that the exact structure of a fast isn’t critical. However, here are a few proposed fasting plans:

  1. If you are a beginner faster, you may want to start out with an easier fasting plan, sometimes referred to as a 12:12. What that means is that you may eat within a 12-hour window each day, and then not eat throughout the remaining 12 hours. This is relatively easily done if you eat your last meal around 6 p.m. and then you don’t eat again until breakfast the next morning. It just entails curbing any evening snacking. This plan would produce more modest weight-loss than option #2 below.
  2. If the above option seems too easy, or you are already doing it and want to take it to the next level or you are wanting a greater weight-loss benefit, then you can do a 16:8 fast. That means that you only eat during an 8-hour window each day, the remaining 16 hours of the day are fasting hours. Again, you can set your feeding and fasting hours to whatever you like, but it may be that you’re not that big of a breakfast eater and mornings are hectic, so you may just skip eating until noon. Then noon to 8 p.m. is your feeding window.

What Should I Eat for Intermittent Fasting?

As mentioned, the research seems to suggest that it doesn’t really matter what you eat during your non-fasting hours. However, to prevent falling into bad habits and further enhance weight-loss efforts, we would always recommend eating a healthy, clean, whole foods diet.

Won’t I be Ravenous, Hangry, Tired, Weak, Shaky or Have a Headache?

Surprisingly, people who follow an intermittent fasting regimen, find that they are not starving between meals. In fact, they often report that they feel quite full and satisfied and do not crave food. If you find that you feel weak, shaky, irritable, tired or headachey if you don’t eat, your adrenal glands may need some supporting to allow you to fast without feeling this way. Our ND’s can provide advice about how to keep your adrenal glands healthy.

Did you know that intermittent fasting helps you to live longer too?

It’s true! New research from Harvard shows that intermittent fasting manipulates the mitochondrial networks inside our cells, which may increase lifespan!

Sure, that sounds great! But how does it work?

Simply put, inside our cells we have energy-producing organelles called mitochondria that dynamically change shape in relation to our body’s energy demand. Over time, their ability to produce energy gradually declines, eventually leading to age-related diseases. While fasting is often recommended as a way to promote healthy aging, the connection between metabolism and mitochondria has always been unclear… until now!

The Harvard study shows that low-energy conditions, such as periods of intermittent fasting, can help maintain the flexibility and youthfulness of mitochondrial networks. These youthful networks then communicate with other parts of the body (organelles called peroxisomes) that modulate fat metabolism, which as a result, helps to increase lifespan.

Fasting does not only help you live a longer life.

Fasting improves your overall health too! Further studies suggest that fasting can help:

  • Boost your immune system
  • Enhance your physical performance
  • Expedite weight loss
  • Protect your cognitive function
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Slow the progression of cancerous tumors
  • Protect against cardiovascular disease

Steps for Effective Fasting

As mentioned, there are numerous different ways to fast that are equally effective. Below are a few fasting tips to help you on your way.

  1. Set a fasting schedule and stick to it. If you’re a beginner, meal skipping is an excellent way to introduce yourself to fasting. If you choose to do a 12 or 16 hour fast, arrange your fasting window during sleeping hours to help the time pass by more easily. Fasting for 24 hours once a week or alternating day fasting are other options to try. Be sure to consult your naturopathic doctor to determine what might work best for you.
  2. Stay hydrated. You might be limiting your intake of food, but you certainly shouldn’t limit your consumption of calorie-free beverages. Be sure to drink plenty of water or switch it up with unsweetened herbal teas.
  3. Relax your body and your mind. During 24-48 hour fasting days, don’t participate in strenuous activities or spend your time obsessing over the food you can’t eat. Go easy on yourself by finding things to keep your body and mind occupied in a productive, gentle way. Take a walk or do light exercise that won’t exhaust you, like yoga. Spend a few hours curled up with a great book. Your next meal will come before you know it!
  4. Make your calories count. Between fasting windows, enjoy nutrient-dense foods that provide protein, fiber, and healthy fats. Learn how to increase flavors without sacrificing calories by adding garlic, herbs, spices, and different types of vinegar to your dishes.

If you think you are thinking about fasting but have never tried it before, I invite you to please reach out to us so we can discuss which options might be best for you. Please feel free to book an appointment with us by calling 416-481-0222 or emailing Maria@ForcesofNature.ca and we can help you get back on track with better weight management and a healthier, longer, and happier life!

The Team at Forces of Nature Wellness Clinic

ChiropractorNaturopathic DoctorsAcupuncturistPsychotherapistRegistered DietitianRegistered Massage TherapistOsteopath

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References:

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321690.php

Intermittent fasting may be center of increasing lifespan


https://www.osher.ucsf.edu/patient-care/self-care-resources/cancer-and-nutrition/frequently-asked-questions/cancer-and-fasting-calorie-restriction/
https://news.yale.edu/2015/02/16/anti-inflammatory-mechanism-dieting-and-fasting-revealed

Should You Take Probiotics?

good bacteria, bad bacteria and probiotics

What are Probiotics?

The World Health Organization defines probiotics as:
“Live microorganisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit to the host”
By this definition, there are 3 key components to probiotics:
1. They must be alive
2. They have to be dosed in adequate amounts
3. And they must be bacteria of the type that confer a health benefit

Live Probiotics

Good probiotics are often pricey. They may cost extra but you can be assured that you are getting living and viable probiotics whereas some less expensive products may only contain dead bacteria. A trick to watch out for: probiotic labels that say “x billion viable/live bacteria at time of manufacture.” What the product contained at time of manufacture is completely irrelevant. It’s what they contain when you consume them that matters. What this “guarantee” is really saying is “we’re not sure how much will survive until you take them.” The better manufacturers will usually test their products for at least 6 months beyond the expiry date to ensure that you are still getting living bacteria in the amount claimed on the label when you take it. What the label should say is “guaranteed to contain x billion live or viable bacteria at time of expiry”. See the difference? Knowing that some will die off between manufacture and the time that you take them, the good manufacturers will put extra in when they make it and test it beyond the time of expiry to ensure that even if some did die off, there is still the amount stated on the label when the bottle expires.

Number of Bacteria in Probiotics

The bacteria in probiotics are listed as CFU, which stands for “colony forming units”. It means how many bacteria are in the product that can then reproduce to form a little colony. One or two billion bacteria or CFU’s per serving just doesn’t cut it. When it comes to good bacteria the higher the amount per serving the better. I would typically recommend a product that contains 35-50 billion bacteria per capsule and a wide range of species from the ones listed below. Over 100 trillion bacteria of 500 different species live in a healthy human gut, if you want to have an impact, you need to add more than a drop in the bucket.

Probiotics that Give a Health Benefit

There are a few manufacturers promoting something called “soil based organisms” that are supposed to be what we naturally would have inhabiting our guts if we were eating fresh food plucked from the ground. There has been very little research supporting their use and a few case studies of people who were severely immune compromised and suffered life threatening infections after consuming these products. There is a plethora of research and human experience showing the health benefits of probiotic strains such as Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus reuteri, Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Bifidobacterium bifidum, Bifidobacterium infantis, Bifidobacterium breve, Bifidobacterium longum and Bifidobacterium lactis.

What are the Health Benefits of Probiotics?

Here are the benefits of healthy good bacteria in our digestive tract:
1. Diarrhea prevention, especially when taking antibiotics
2. Colorectal cancer prevention
3. Immune system regulation and enhancement
4. Asthma and allergy prevention
5. Prevention of infection in the gut by harmful organisms like Salmonella, Shigella, H pylori, yeast etc
6. Treatment of Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome
7. They provide the host with vitamins B12 and K
8. They appear to help with insulin resistance in diabetics and in women with gestational diabetes

Probiotic Foods

Certain foods are known to be rich in probiotics. These are fermented foods and many cultures have their own version. Dairy-based foods that contain probiotic bacteria include kefir and yogourt. Non-dairy probiotic foods include fermented foods like raw sauerkraut, kim chi, miso and tempeh. Do these food probiotics work? Research has been done on ingestion of bean and soy tempeh to determine their effect on gut bacteria. Soy tempeh stimulates most the growth of Bifidobacterium bacteria, while bean tempeh stimulates that of Escherichia coli. While it is good to eat probiotic-rich foods for daily gut maintenance, when taking an antibiotic, I would always encourage people to take a good quality probiotic supplement. That way we know exactly how many beneficial bacteria they are getting and of what kind. A serving of commercial yogourt may only contain 1 billion bacteria per serving where just one probiotic capsule would contain 50-100 times that much.

How Often to Take Probiotics

Whether to take probiotics and if so, how much and how often is subject to debate. Definitely any time you need to take antibiotics, you should take a good quality probiotic while taking the antibiotics and for at least two weeks afterward to prevent potentially serious side effects of taking antibiotics.

Because of the potential for numerous health benefits of taking probiotics, for most people they should be a regular part of their health maintenance program. Whether that means taking them every day, or taking them for 2-3 months out of every year, may be more to do with individual preference than scientifically proven value. I do encourage people who take probiotics daily, to try to vary the product and strains that they are taking in order to maintain the diversity of gut bacteria that seems to help promote good health.

Cautions

The above strains of probiotic bacteria are generally considered safe, even for infants. The primary contraindications for probiotic use would be:
1. Someone who is severely immune compromised such as a transplant recipient, someone very elderly or very sick, or a patient undergoing cancer treatment.
2. Using soil-based probiotics in any of the above patients and possibly in the general population as there isn’t sufficient safety and efficacy data.

With about a hundred published studies per year, there is new information being revealed every day about the health benefits of taking probiotic supplements. With almost no downside, and plenty of potential benefits, probiotics are a worthwhile addition to your health regimen.

Oh and by the way, a class action lawsuit was filed and won against Dannon/Danone in January 2008 in which the company stood accused of spending $100 million promoting clinical benefits of Activia and DanActive that its own tests had disproved. To add to that, Bifidus Regularis is a made-up name by Danone for Bifidobacterium animalis. Commercial yogurt is not an adequate means to obtain good bacteria.

Our naturopathic doctors are experts on which probiotics may work best for your particular problem as well as how to heal a whole host of gut issues.  Book an appointment now. 

Hypoglycemia

woman suffering from low blood sugar

Low Blood Sugar or Hypoglycemia

What is hypoglycemia?

The word hypoglycemia literally means low (hypo) sugar (glyc) in the blood (emia). Blood sugar is exactly what it sounds like, how much sugar or glucose is in your blood at a given time. This number is highly variable based on what you have eaten, your stress level, exercise, your caffeine intake and a variety of other factors.

Is hypoglycemia or low blood sugar the same as being diabetic?

No, in fact it is the polar opposite.  However, diabetics who are on blood sugar lowering medication can experience hypoglycemia if what they have eaten and the dosage of their medication are a mismatch.  Diabetic medication is outside the scope of this article and best discussed with your prescribing physician.

What causes low blood sugar?

Since your blood sugar level is influenced by a number of factors, you may experience low blood sugar for many reasons:

Stress

Under stress, your body depends on glucose for fuel to assist in the “fight or flight” response. The stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline tend to increase blood sugar to get more fuel to your muscles to prepare you for the fight. When your blood sugar shoots up quickly, your body responds by producing insulin to help move the sugar from the blood into the cells to either be burned as fuel or stored as fat. As insulin moves the glucose out of your blood and into your cells, your blood glucose level will drop. If it drops too much, hypoglycemia may result. Stress also often primes us to reach for the wrong foods, those rich in refined flour and sugar. The consumption of those foods is likely to lead to a blood sugar crash some time later.

Diet

Foods that induce a spike in blood sugar like sweets and starchy foods, will necessitate the production of insulin. Insulin, as mentioned above, then lowers blood sugar. In some instances, excess insulin is produced and blood sugar drops lower than normal. Avoiding consuming foods that spike insulin, helps maintain a more stable blood sugar.

Exercise

For most forms of exercise, your body can maintain a stable blood sugar. However, if you participate in extended endurance workouts, like running marathons, there is the potential for your fuel to drop a bit low. The runner’s term for this is to “bonk” or “hit a wall”. Distance runners will often carry gels with them (containing mainly sugar) to prevent or treat a blood sugar crash. In my opinion, as a triathlete, I think a better strategy is to eat a meal containing easily digested protein (like fish), some healthy fat (like avocado) and some low glycemic index carbs (like a bit of sweet potato) 3 hours before a race, and to keep a few nuts and high fibre dried fruit with me rather than consuming sugary gels that are likely to result in a crash some time later.

Caffeine

Consumption of caffeine creates a spike in cortisol, which then increases blood sugar. As with stress and diet, anything that increases blood sugar stimulates production of blood sugar-lowering insulin. This creates the potential for a crash in blood sugar later.

Under-working adrenal glands

Your adrenal glands are your stress glands. They sit just on top of your kidneys. They perform many jobs, one of which is to keep your blood sugar stable. When it begins to drop, the adrenals signal to your liver to release some stored glucose, to bring your blood sugar back up. If adrenals fail to signal your liver, then your blood sugar will drop. For most of the people that I see, under-functioning adrenal glands and diet are the two biggest factors contributing to hypoglycemia.

Artificial sweeteners

While these do not increase your blood sugar, research suggests that your body will still produce insulin in response to the sweet taste. If blood sugar does not rise, yet insulin is still produced, blood sugar will drop due to the insulin. For many, the reason for using these is to reduce the amount of insulin being produced to help with weight loss. If insulin is produced anyway, consuming them kind of defeats the purpose.

Hormones

Estrogen influences how well your body is able to use sugar and insulin. Postmenopause when estrogen is lower, there may be a greater tendency to have blood sugar fluctuations.

Alcohol

Non-sugary alcoholic beverages like wine or straight spirits may cause your blood sugar to crash, where sugary cocktails may do the opposite.

What are the symptoms of low blood sugar?

The symptoms of low blood sugar include:

  • Feeling weak, shaky, dizzy, light-headed, headachy or irritable when going too long without eating.
  • Sleep maintenance insomnia. This is where people wake up in the middle of the night, often highly alert or even feeling anxious or stressed and have a hard time going back to sleep.

6 Tips to Prevent Hypoglycemia

  1. Include protein with each meal. Protein is slow release energy that helps to maintain a stable blood sugar.
  2. Avoid high glycemic index carbs, sugar and artificial sweeteners. These spike your blood sugar which can lead to a subsequent crash.
  3. Drink alcohol in moderation. If you are experiencing sleep troubles, you may want to avoid alcohol in the evening.
  4. Support your adrenal glands. Eat lots of leafy greens, get good sleep, reduce your stress levels and take time to relax and have fun every day.
  5. Stress. Other than divesting yourself of the stress, moderate exercise is the best way to reduce your body’s response stress. Find an exercise that you enjoy and use it to burn off stress on a regular basis.
  6. Stay hydrated. While blood sugar doesn’t drop because you are dehydrated, dehydration can feel like hypoglycemia.

If you are experiencing the symptoms of low blood sugar, our Naturopathic Doctors and Registered Dietitian can help with nutrition advice.  See Dr. Rachel Vong, ND, Dr. Pamela Frank, ND or Sanaz Baradaran, RD.   Call us at 416-481-0222 or book online here.

 

 

SIBO

woman suffering from SIBO

SIBO: Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth

Despite its name, the small intestine is actually a whopping 20 feet of very important tissue between your stomach and large intestine. The small intestine is divided up into 3 parts. The part closest to your stomach is called the duodenum, next is the jejunum and the last stretch before your large intestine is your ileum. The small intestine has the important job of digesting food and absorbing nutrients to keep us in good health. As if that wasn’t significant enough, it is also a key contributor to a healthy immune system.

The small intestine plays host to specific beneficial microorganisms that help protect our bodies against bad (pathogenic) bacteria and yeast. These good bacteria also do their part to produce vitamins and nutrients like vitamin K and folate. They are the keepers of the small intestine, ensuring that it continues to do its thing, muscling waves of food through the gut.

What is SIBO?

Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth or SIBO occurs when there is an increased number of bacteria and/or a change in the type of bacteria present in your small intestine. Overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine is considered to be greater than 100 000 bacteria per millilitre of fluid. Most often SIBO is caused by an overgrowth of the wrong types of bacteria that actually belong in the colon (the large intestine). In truth, the small intestine is meant to be fairly clean. Food coming from the top down through the stomach is sterilized by stomach acid. So anything passing into the small intestine from the top shouldn’t contain much in the way of bacteria. Absence of adequate stomach acid may contribute to SIBO as this would allow passage of bacteria into the intestines. Another theory as to how this occurs is that there is a motor complex that propels everything in your intestines one direction – out the far end. This migrating motor complex or MMC can malfunction, allowing a backwash of bacteria from the large intestine to move up into the small intestine.

The bacteria that causes SIBO is like a bad tenant. It invites all its rowdy friends in for a party and damages the cell lining of the small bowel. This can lead to leaky gut, allowing large protein molecules to move through the intestinal barrier and escape into the bloodstream. As you can imagine, this causes a number of problems, including general inflammation, immune reactions that cause food allergies, and autoimmune diseases.

These havoc-causing bad bacteria are also responsible for poor digestion, constipation or diarrhea and malabsorption. Patients with SIBO may suffer from nutritional deficiencies, particularly iron, vitamin B12, and fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, as well as having unintended weight loss, and even osteoporosis.

Do I Have SIBO?

SIBO is considered an under-diagnosed condition as many people do not seek medical care for their symptoms or they get wrongly diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome.

The Most Common Signs and Symptoms of SIBO

Signs and symptoms of SIBO include:

· Bloating and abdominal swelling

· Abdominal pain or discomfort

· Diarrhea

· Constipation

· Gas and belching

· Weakness and fatigue

In the most severe cases, patients experience weight loss and vitamin deficiency-related symptoms.

Who is at risk for SIBO? How Do You Get SIBO?

While the elderly may be the most vulnerable population for developing SIBO as its prevalence rises with age, there are multiple other risk factors that can increase your chances, no matter your age. These include:

· Medication use, especially antibiotics

· Gastric acid suppression or Low Stomach Acid (due to stress, medications such as proton pump inhibitors (PPI’s) or antacids, and lifestyle factors)

· Fibromyalgia

· Celiac disease

· Crohn’s disease

· Prior bowel surgery

· Diabetes Types I & II

· Irritable bowel syndrome

Studies also indicate that moderate alcohol consumption (one drink per day for women and two for men) promotes the overgrowth of certain types of bacteria and also impairs vital functions. This results in small bowel injury and decreased muscle contractions impairing the migrating motor complex.

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above or think you might be at risk, then we encourage you to make an appointment to assess your symptoms and get tested. Specialized testing can be accomplished through a breath test. This breath test measures your hydrogen and methane gas levels produced by bacterial metabolism and can be a very helpful indicator to determine if you are suffering from SIBO.

What Causes SIBO and How Can You Treat It?

Despite multiple courses of antibiotics being a risk factor, specific antibiotics (like Rifaximin) are still most often used to treat SIBO. However, studies show that SIBO returns in nearly half of all patients within a year after treatment.

Successful treatment of SIBO must be handled just like any other health condition – not with a temporary Band-aid solution, but by addressing the underlying cause! Intestinal bacteria can be influenced by numerous factors beyond what we eat and how much. Environmental effects, drugs, alcohol, sedentary lifestyle, mood disorders, hormone imbalances and lifestyle factors such as stress can all be contributing factors to poor gut health. Therefore, the treatment must be unique to the individual and all-encompassing.

Once you have identified the cause, treat SIBO symptoms through a healthy diet, nutritional supplements and positive lifestyle changes that help return the body to balance.

Tips for dealing with SIBO

  1. Eat three meals per day spaced 4-5 hour apart and avoid snacking. We need to give our body time in between meals to fully digest the previous meal.
  2. With guidance from your naturopathic doctor try an elimination diet for two weeks to get your body back on track by reducing inflammation and bacteria overgrowth. If this doesn’t seem to help, you may want to pursue food sensitivity testing through one of our ND’s. The test checks for antibodies in your bloodstream to either 96 or 184 foods. Employee benefits will sometimes cover the cost of this test along with other lab or diagnostic testing.
  3. Enjoy foods that assist digestive health like fresh pineapple which is rich in bromelain and can also help lower inflammation, and bananas which are an excellent source of potassium and manganese that your stomach lining needs for healing. Boiled cabbage water is an excellent source of the amino acid glutamine that helps heal the gut lining. Vitamin A is also essential for a healthy gut. Eating liver and beta carotene-rich foods like leafy greens and orange vegetables like carrots as well as taking cod liver oil help insure adequate vitamin A intake.
  4. Keep your fat intake in check. Research has shown that a high-fat diet, increases the growth of fat digesting bacteria at the expense of other more healthful ones. That is, microbes from the Clostridiaceae and Peptostreptococcaceae families increased while beneficial bacteria from the Bifidobacteriacaea and Bacteroidacaea families (which are commonly associated with leanness) went down.

How to Get Rid of SIBO: The Steps for Successful Treatment

    1. Elimination/modification of the underlying causes. This may involve changing your diet to a whole food, low FODMAPs diet, reducing your stress, eating 3 meals per day, reducing or eliminating the need for antibiotics, optimizing digestive juices like stomach acid, bile and pancreatic enzymes.

    2. Induction of remission (antibiotics or natural anti-microbials and elemental diet)

    3. Maintenance of remission (promotility herbs, dietary modifications, healthy lifestyle, optimized digestive juices, repeat or cyclical antimicrobials, hormone balancing, reduced alcohol intake).

SIBO Diet Food List (derived from the work of Dr. Alison Siebecker)

Foods to Eat with SIBOFoods to Avoid with SIBO
Nuts and Seeds
Almonds
Almond flour
Coconut: flour/shredded/milk
Hazelnuts
Macadamia
Peanuts
Peanut butter
Pecans
Pine nuts
Pumpkin seeds
Sesame seeds
Sunflower seeds
Walnuts
Nuts and Seeds
Cashews
Pistachios
Pumpkin seeds
Legumes
Lentil: brown, green or red
Lima beans
Legumes
Borlotti beans
Cranberry beans
Kidney beans
Red beans
Navy beans
White beans
Haricot beans
Baked beans
Spilt pea
Butter beans
Cannellini
Chickpea
Garbanzo beans
Fava beans
Broad beans
Pinto beans
Soy beans
Protein Sources
Bacon
Broth: homemade meat or marrow bones
Beef
Eggs
Fish
Game
Lamb
Organ Meats
Pork
Poultry
Seafood
Protein sources
None
Sweeteners
Honey: alfalfa, cotton, clover, raspberry
Stevia-pure (no inulin) in small amounts, occasionally
Sweeteners
Agave syrup
Barley Malt syrup
Brown Rice syrup
Cane sugar (Rapadura, Sucanat)
Coconut sugar
Fructose, powdered
High-fructose corn syrup
Maple syrup
Molasses
Sugar/Sucrose
Sucralose
Polyols/Sugar alcohol: isomalt, erythritol, lactitol, maltitol, mannitol, sorbitol, xylitol
Beverages
Coffee 1c/day (weak)
Tea: black (weak), chamomile, ginger, green, hibiscus, lemongrass, mate, mint, oolong, rooibos/rooibos chai, rose hip
Water
Beverages
Fruit Juices
Coffee substitutes with chicory
Coconut milk-with
thickeners (guar gum, carageenan)
Soda (fructose, sucrose)
Tea: chicory root, licorice, pau d’arco
Fats and Oils
Bacon fat
Butter
Coconut oil
Cod liver oil & Fish oil
Duck fat
Garlic-infused oil
Ghee
Lard & Tallow
Medium Chain Triglyceride/MCT oil
Macadamia oil
Olive oil
Palm oil
Polyunsaturated Vegetable Oils: Borage, Canola Flax, Grape seed, Hemp, Pumpkin seed, Sesame, Sunflower, Walnut
Fats and Oils
Soybean oil
Herbs, Spices, Condiments and Seasonings
All spices (except onion & garlic)
Garlic-infused oil
Ginger (fresh & dried)
Mayonnaise, homemade or commercial with honey
Mustard - without garlic
Pickles/Relish - no sweetener or garlic
Tabasco sauce (McIlhenny Co)
Wasabi - pure
Vinegar: apple cider, distilled/white, red & white wine (NOT balsamic)
Herbs, Spices and Seasonings
Asafoetida powder
Chicory root (leaves ok)
Cocoa/chocolate-unsweetened
Gums/Carrageenan/Thickeners
Sauces or Marinades with High Fodmap ingredients
Soy Sauce/Tamari
Spices: Onion & Garlic powder
Vinegar: balsamic
Fruit
Berries: blueberry, boysenberry, strawberry, raspberry
Carambola
Citrus: lemon, lime, oranges, tangelos, tangerine
Currants
Dragon Fruit
Durian
Grapes
Guava
Kiwifruit
Longon
Melon: cantaloupe/rock, honeydew
Papaya/Paw Paw
Passion fruit
Pineapple
Pomegranate
Prickly Pear
Rambutan
Rhubarb
Fruit
Apple
Apricot
Avocado
Berries: cranberry
Cherries
Citrus, grapefruit
Custard Apple
Date, dried
Fig, dried
Mango
Nectarine
Papaya, dried
Peach
Pear
Pear: nashi
Persimmon
Plum
Pomegranate
Prunes
Raisins
Tamarillo
Watermelon
Canned fruit
Vegetables
Artichoke Hearts (small amounts)
Arugula
Bamboo Shoots
Beets
Bok Choy
Broccoli
Brussels Sprouts
Cabbage
Carrot
Celery Root/Celeriac
Chives
Cucumber
Eggplant
Endive
Fennel bulb < 1 cup
Green Beans
Greens: lettuce, collard, chard, kale, spinach
Olives
Peas, green
Peppers: Bell/Sweet Peppers: Chili
Radicchio
Radish
Rutabaga
Scallion: green part
Snow Peas
Squash: Butternut Kobocha, Sunburst, Yellow, Zucchini
Tomato
Vegetables
Asparagus
Bean Sprouts
Canned vegetables
Cauliflower
Corn
Garlic
Jerusalem artichoke
Leek
Mushrooms
Okra
Onions
Potato: white/all colors
Potato: sweet
Scallions: white part
Seaweeds
Shallot
Starch powder: all
arrowroot, corn, potato, rice, tapioca
Sugar Snap Peas
Taro
Turnip
Water Chestnuts
Yam
Yucca

Download our free one-week SIBO diet guide, low FODMAPs meal plan here.

Do any of the above symptoms or risk factors sound familiar? Do you think you might be suffering from SIBO? We can help! Please contact us and we’ll get to the bottom of what’s going on and create a plan of action to bring your body back to good health.

Call or email us at 416-481-0222 or Info@ForcesofNature.ca for more information or to book an appointment.

To your best health!

The Team at Forces of Nature Wellness Clinic – Naturopathic Doctors, Chiropractor, Massage Therapist, Acupuncturist/TCMP, Osteopath, Registered Dietitian, Psychotherapist

References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3099351/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22109896

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2890937/

 “Small intestine microbiota regulate host digestive and absorptive adaptive responses to dietary lipids,” Cell Host and Microbe (2018). DOI: 10.1016/j.chom.2018.03.011

How to Test and Treat Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth: an Evidence-Based Approach. Curr Gastroenterol Rep. 2016 Feb;18(2):8. doi: 10.1007/s11894-015-0482-9.

Tips for Staying Young

older woman staying young after 50

Staying Young: Healthy Aging Over 50

By Dr. Pamela Frank, BSc(Hons), ND

One of the common myths about aging is that you just have to accept the symptoms of ageing: weight gain, poor sleep, cognitive decline, hot flashes, wrinkles and thinning hair.  Here are my best tips for healthy aging, slowing or reversing these symptoms and staying young at any age:

Weight Gain

What you could eat and get away with before you hit 50 and what you can eat and get away with after 50 is going to be different. Why? Your body’s ability to tolerate foods that increase blood sugar and require insulin decreases when estrogen goes down at menopause. What does that mean? You need to decrease your intake of carbs and sugar after 50 to prevent or stop weight gain. I recommend no more than 60-80 grams of carbs per day, preferably from fruit and vegetables and low glycemic index whole grains. Stay active. Your metabolism slows down as you get older, making it that much more important to stay physically active and keep burning those extra calories. If you find that aching joints are slowing you down, seeing a chiropractor, naturopathic doctor or osteopath may help.

Bone Density

Maintaining regular exercise after 50 is important for maintaining bone density. The single best way to get all the nutrients you need to maintain healthy bones and teeth is to consume bone broth with a handful of spinach every day. Bone broth is literally bones of any type that are cooked for 6-8 hours with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. The liquid is full of all of the minerals for healthy bones as well as the necessary ingredients to make collagen, another major constituent of bones. Our registered dietitian can help you create a meal plan to optimize bone health.

Hot Flashes/Night Sweats

Hot flashes are a signal of inflammation from your body. The best way to reduce those signals is to identify your triggers and make an effort to limit or avoid them. For many women sugar, stress, caffeine, lack of sleep and dairy products are hot flash triggers. Start by avoiding these and see if it helps and try journaling the frequency of hot flashes, time of day, feelings at the time and foods that are associated with your hot flashes to see what your specific triggers are. If stress is a trigger, seeing a psychotherapist to brainstorm stress-busting strategies may help. Acupuncture has been shown in research to help reduce the frequency and severity of hot flashes in menopausal women.

Cognitive Decline

Staying young by maintaining your brain health is as important if not more important than maintaining physical health. Hormone balance and low levels of inflammation are important to maintaining cognitive function. Your adrenal glands become increasingly important as you age. They help you maintain a certain level of hormonal health by producing hormones like cortisol, DHEAs and testosterone. The latter two are building blocks to build estrogen so that even post-menopause you can still maintain a healthy post-menopause estrogen level. Reducing intake of inflammatory foods like sugar, dairy and gluten can also help keep your brain healthy as well as your gut.  Increasing your Omega 3 fatty acids, B vitamins and magnesium can keep your brain running smoothly too.

Thinning Hair or Hair Loss

Adrenal gland health helps to maintain a healthy, full head of hair. If you see more hair falling when you are under stress, that may be a sign that your adrenal glands need supporting. These vital organs sit on top of your kidneys and help you deal with stress, help manage your blood sugar and blood pressure, help to balance hormones and reduce inflammation. They need substantial amounts of vitamin C, B5, B6, Magnesium and Zinc to function at their best. Targeting these specific vitamins and minerals often help with hair, but also stress, energy, and hormone balance. Extensive blood work can help identify the specific cause of your hair loss. Our ND’s can assist you with getting the right blood work done and ensuring that your levels are optimal for hair growth.

Skin Health

My two best “staying young” tips for your skin are: avoid sugar and eat bone broth. Sugar increases the need for insulin which promotes inflammation. Inflammation contributes to ageing and redness of your skin. Bone broth contains multiple vitamins, minerals and gelatin, all of which help your body make collagen, the support structure or scaffolding for your skin.  Vitamin C, and the amino acids lysine and proline are the other necessary constituents to make healthy collagen. Collagen also helps to keep your joints healthy.  You can take collagen supplements, but personally, I prefer the all-around nourishment of bone broth.

Poor Sleep

Maintaining strict sleep hygiene becomes ultra-important after 50. Good sleep helps us with staying young physically and mentally.  Any little thing that wasn’t a problem before 50 can disrupt sleep after 50. For optimal sleep, shut down any screen time by 8 p.m., make sure you are getting enough physical activity but do it early in the day, use blackout curtains in your bedroom, avoid sweets and alcohol in the evening, engage in relaxing activities in the evening, aim to be in bed by 10 p.m. and cut yourself off caffeine after noon. If stress is keeping you awake, talking it over with a psychotherapist may help.

Inflammation: The Root Cause of Pain

picture of hands with inflammation

How to Treat Inflammation Naturally

What are Signs of Inflammation?

When you sustain an injury you may notice that the area is swollen, painful, red and feels hot to the touch. These are all common signs of inflammation that you may experience on a superficial level. Chronic inflammation can also occur in our bodies and can present itself in other ways. When inflammation triggers sensory nerve endings, it can result in pain. Symptoms such as fatigue, rashes, digestion problems, allergies, asthma, and chest, abdominal and joint pain can also be signs of inflammation.

What is Inflammation?

Inflammation is a natural immune system function. It’s a reaction to infection or injury that triggers a slew of chemical messages to your immune system to prompt healing and repair. It’s a word most of us associate with pain, discomfort and poor health — yet its ultimate purpose is actually to help us get better. Without inflammation, injuries wouldn’t heal and infections could become deadly.

When the body is injured, the swelling and pain of inflammation is a signal to your immune system to send white blood cells so the healing process may begin. Unfortunately, when inflammation becomes chronic, it can trigger numerous other health problems in your body including cancers, depression, asthma and heart disease. In fact, some say inflammation is the “new cholesterol” due to its direct link to heart disease.

In some cases, inflammation occurs when the immune system revolts against us and attacks our own bodies as in autoimmune diseases. Autoimmune diseases include rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes, IBD, and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis among dozens of others. There are over 80 different autoimmune diseases.

Top Tips to Reduce Inflammation

Which Foods Cause Inflammation?

First, let’s take a quick look at inflammatory foods that you want to limit or avoid. You probably already know all the usual suspects.

  1. Sugar and artificial sweeteners – A 2018 study in children found that a 46% decrease in sugar intake, significantly reduced proinflammatory markers and increased the levels of anti-inflammatory markers.
  2. Fried foods – A 2016 study on deep-fried oil consumption, revealed that intake of deep-fried canola oil could impair metabolism of triglycerides, destroy the gut wall structure and unbalance healthy gut bacteria. All of which could contribute to inflammation.
  3. Grains – Wheat and other cereal grains contain anti-nutrients like gluten that may contribute to inflammation by increasing intestinal permeability and initiating a pro-inflammatory immune response.
  4. Dairy – Proteins in milk and dairy products can trigger an immune reaction that contributes to inflammation. Research on milk containing a protein known as A1 beta-casein significantly increases gastrointestinal transit time, production of dipeptidyl peptidase-4 and the inflammatory marker myeloperoxidase compared with milk containing A2 beta-casein. Cows here in Canada tend to produce more of the A1 beta-casein protein, therefore dairy products here tend to be more pro-inflammatory.
  5. Alcohol – A 2015 study showed that alcohol-induced changes to the gastrointestinal tract microbiome and metabolic function may contribute to the well-established link between alcohol-induced oxidative stress, intestinal hyperpermeability (leaky gut), and the subsequent development of alcoholic liver disease (ALD), as well as other diseases.

What are Anti-inflammatory Foods?

Wondering what those anti-inflammatory foods are? The good news is they are delicious and come with multiple health benefits.

Raw, Organic Fruits & Veggies

Organic foods are a great place to start when looking to adhere to a more anti-inflammatory diet. Grown in mineral-dense soil, organic foods tend have a higher vitamin and mineral content.

In order to keep those vitamin and mineral levels high, it’s also helpful to eat raw or lightly cooked fruits and veggies. Cooking can deplete minerals, which is why it’s important to take every opportunity you can to get eat fresh and raw so you get to enjoy the full nutritional benefits. For example, Vitamin K is found in dark leafy greens like kale and spinach and is excellent for reducing inflammation.

Add in lots of Alkaline Foods

In addition to fruits and vegetables, nuts and legumes are also alkaline foods that can help balance your pH and reduce acidity. While being mindful of your body’s pH, you might be wonder about the impact of acidic foods, like tomatoes or citrus, and how they affect inflammation. Surprisingly these foods don’t create acidity in the body. Although they are acidic in nature, that acidity is quickly neutralized by buffers in the small intestine when they exit the stomach. Therefore, they may actually help to restore your pH balance. Even apple cider vinegar is alkaline-forming (however, other vinegars are not).

Fish & Plant Proteins

Believe it or not, most high protein animal foods, like meat, can actually be acid forming. In this case, plant proteins, such as nuts and beans, are great alternatives to reduce acidity and inflammation.

Need your meat? Then eat more fish. Fish oils, as well as other foods rich in healthy fats like omega 3, are proven to have a variety of health benefits, including significant anti-inflammatory effects.

Fish is also a great source of Vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with a wide range of inflammatory conditions.

Antioxidant-Rich Foods: Natural Anti-inflammatories

Those susceptible to chronic inflammation may also benefit from supplementing their diets with food sources that contain bioactive molecules. For example, curcumin is a compound found in turmeric root. It is a powerful antioxidant. Curcumin’s ability to reduce brain inflammation has been shown to be beneficial in both Alzheimer’s disease and major depression. Curcumin has been shown to not only prevent memory problems from worsening, but also to improve them.

Complement your curry with a little watercress salad on the side, including pears, dill weed, onion and chives – all sources of the antioxidant known as isorhamnetin.

Add a little red wine and some berries for dessert, which are rich in resveratrol, and you’ve got yourself an anti-inflammatory party. Resveratrol is an antioxidant produced by certain plants in response to injury or when under attack by bacteria or fungi. This is what makes dark-coloured grapes and berries such excellent health boosters for your body.

And of course, you can’t forget the dark chocolate! The flavonoids found in cacao are extremely potent antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents, which are great for your brain and your heart. New research also shows that consuming dark chocolate with a high concentration of cacao (minimum 70% with 30% organic cane sugar) has a positive effect on stress levels and inflammation, while also improving your memory, immunity and mood. You read that right – chocolate really is good for you (but make sure its good quality and that you are not over doing it).

How to Reduce Inflammation: Going Beyond Diet

While diet definitely plays a role, stress is also a major contributor to inflammation in the body. Stress can be triggered by lack of sleep, lifestyle changes, or any other number of factors. Getting a good night’s rest and making time to meditate or practice other stress-reducing activities, like yoga or Tai chi, are also very effective ways to promote good health and reduce inflammation. Psychotherapy can help you formulate a plan to reduce stress, improve your lifestyle and your relationships.

All it takes is a few conscious decisions about your diet and lifestyle and you are on your way to a healthier you.

Herbs for Inflammation

  1. Curcumin – Research has shown curcumin to be a molecule that is capable of interacting with numerous targets that are involved in inflammation. Clinical trials indicate that curcumin may have potential as a therapeutic agent in diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatitis, arthritis, and chronic anterior uveitis, as well as certain types of cancer.
  2. Boswellia -Boswellia is also known as Frankinsence. It is an important traditional medicine plant that possesses several pharmacological properties. It has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antitumour effects.
  3. Pedalium murex – This Ayurvedic herb, native to South India, Mexico and parts of Africa, is used as an anti-inflammatory, and helps treat many diseases including asthma, gastric ulcer, heart disease and urinary tract disorders.

Chiropractic and Inflammation

In a 2010 study on the effects of chiropractic on markers of inflammation in sufferers of chronic low back pain, 9 chiropractic lower back manipulations caused the mediators of inflammation to present a normalization response in individuals suffering from chronic low back pain.

Massage Therapy and Inflammation

In a 2018 review article, the most powerful techniques for reducing inflammation after exertion were massage and cold exposure. Massage therapy also proved to be the most effective method for reducing delayed onset muscle soreness after exercise and perceived fatigue.

Acupuncture and Inflammation

A 2018 study on rats showed that acupuncture reduced inflammation by down-regulating the levels of the inflammatory markers IL-1 β, IL-6 and IL-8, and in regulating cerebral SIRT1/NF-κB signaling. Numerous studies have demonstrated the benefits of acupuncture for reducing pain in inflammatory conditions like arthritis and back pain.

Osteopathic Manipulative Therapy and Inflammation

Fibroblasts are the main fascial cells that respond to different types of strain by secreting anti-inflammatory chemicals and growth factors, thus improving wound healing and muscle repair processes. Osteopathic manual practitioners, use myofascial release therapy and other osteopathic manipulative therapies to stimulate fibroblasts to reduce inflammation and improve wound healing, muscle repair and regeneration.

Are you dealing with chronic health issues triggered by inflammation? Do you still have more questions about how you can make greater changes towards a pain-free life? Do you want a customized approach to managing inflammation and preventing disease? Please feel free to contact us and we can find your best solutions together. Call or email us at 416-481-0222 or Maria@ForcesofNature.ca

To your best health!

The Team at Forces of Nature Wellness Clinic – Chiropractor, Naturopathic Doctors, Acupuncturist/TCM, Psychotherapist, Registered Dietitian, Massage Therapist/RMT, Craniosacral Therapist, Osteopath

References:

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120223103920.htm

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/04/060404085719.htm

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/04/180424133628.htm

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4836295/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3715939/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12148098

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4036413/

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1064748117305110?via%3Dihub#bib0015

Sawani A, Farhangi M, N CA, Maul TM, Parthasarathy S, Smallwood J, Wei JL. Limiting Dietary Sugar Improves Pediatric Sinonasal Symptoms and Reduces Inflammation. J Med Food. 2018 May 31. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2017.0126. [Epub ahead of print] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29851540

Zhou Z, Wang Y, Jiang Y, Diao Y, Strappe P, Prenzler P, Ayton J, Blanchard C. Deep-fried oil consumption in rats impairs glycerolipid metabolism, gut histology and microbiota structure. Lipids Health Dis. 2016 Apr 28;15:86. doi: 10.1186/s12944-016-0252-1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27121709

de Punder K, Pruimboom L. The dietary intake of wheat and other cereal grains and their role in inflammation. Nutrients. 2013 Mar 12;5(3):771-87. doi: 10.3390/nu5030771. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23482055

Pal S, Woodford K, Kukuljan S, Ho S. Milk Intolerance, Beta-Casein and Lactose. Nutrients. 2015 Aug 31;7(9):7285-97. doi: 10.3390/nu7095339. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3476926/

Engen PA, Green SJ, Voigt RM, Forsyth CB, Keshavarzian A. The Gastrointestinal Microbiome: Alcohol Effects on the Composition of Intestinal Microbiota. Alcohol Res. 2015;37(2):223-36. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26695747

Schwalfenberg GK. The alkaline diet: is there evidence that an alkaline pH diet benefits health? J Environ Public Health. 2012;2012:727630. doi: 10.1155/2012/727630. Epub 2011 Oct 12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22013455

Devanesan AA, Zipora T, G Smilin BA, Deviram G, Thilagar S. Phytochemical and pharmacological status of indigenous medicinal plant Pedalium murex L.-A review. Biomed Pharmacother. 2018 Jul;103:1456-1463. doi: 10.1016/j.biopha.2018.04.177. Epub 2018 May 7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29864930

Jurenka JS. Anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin, a major constituent of Curcuma longa: a review of preclinical and clinical research. Altern Med Rev. 2009 Jun;14(2):141-53. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19594223

Beghelli D, Isani G, Roncada P, Andreani G, Bistoni O, Bertocchi M, Lupidi G, Alunno A. Antioxidant and Ex Vivo Immune System Regulatory Properties of Boswellia serrata Extracts. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2017;2017:7468064. doi: 10.1155/2017/7468064. Epub 2017 Mar 13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28386311

Roy RA, Boucher JP, Comtois AS. Inflammatory response following a short-term course of chiropractic treatment in subjects with and without chronic low back pain. J Chiropr Med. 2010 Sep;9(3):107-14. doi: 10.1016/j.jcm.2010.06.002. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22027032

Dupuy O, Douzi W, Theurot D, Bosquet L, Dugué B. An Evidence-Based Approach for Choosing Post-exercise Recovery Techniques to Reduce Markers of Muscle Damage, Soreness, Fatigue, and Inflammation: A Systematic Review With Meta-Analysis. Front Physiol. 2018 Apr 26;9:403. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2018.00403. ECollection 2018. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29755363

Rosenkranz MA, Davidson RJ, Maccoon DG, Sheridan JF, Kalin NH, Lutz A. A comparison of mindfulness-based stress reduction and an active control in modulation of neurogenic inflammation. Brain Behav Immun. 2013 Jan;27(1):174-84. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2012.10.013. Epub 2012 Oct 22. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23092711

What’s the Best Detox for Your Body?

pic showing the best detox motivation

Is Your Body Overloaded with Toxins? What is the Best Detox Solution?

Your body is a miraculous thing. For all its parts and abilities there are corresponding systems designed to monitor what they’re experiencing.  Your body can decide whether what it is experiencing is beneficial or detrimental and then make appropriate adjustments to maintain balance.

You may mention your circulatory, digestive, endocrine, immune, integumentary, lymphatic, nervous, reproductive, respiratory, musculoskeletal, or urinary system in conversation when someone asks how you are.  Symptoms from these systems give us a sense of how well we are (or are not) at any given time.

What’s Happening When You’re Not Feeling Well?

When you’re unwell, understanding systemic symptoms can help you to determine where to look for the underlying issues. Skin breakouts, hair thinning or falling out, or nail splitting can be signs of poor digestive or liver health. Signs like feeling sluggish, heavy, uncomfortable, or constipated tell us that there’s something less than ideal going on in your body. It becomes important to look at the organs that support our body and keep them functioning optimally, especially when they’re showing us signs that all is not well.

Your organs help your body to maintain overall health, and of course organs like the heart, brain, and lungs are responsible for some of the most vital functions of life. Without them, well – we wouldn’t be here! But, your organs do other important jobs as well, such as neutralizing and eliminating toxins and irritants. The organs that help the most with these functions are the lungs, the skin, the digestive tract, and most importantly: the liver and the kidneys. When you start tracing symptoms to the organs that should help prevent them, you can start to make the connections to underlying organ weakness.

How Does Your Body Cope When Faced with Toxins?

The simple answer? Detoxification. One of the things your body is especially good at is sweeping out any toxic elements and chemicals that can compromise your health. That’s a big part of what your organs are designed to do.

However, not all toxins are equal and of course, there are many factors that can affect how the body responds to them at any given time. Also, toxins don’t come from only one source. In fact, the definition of a ‘toxin’ is surprisingly simple and broad: anything that the body doesn’t find useful or that harms its integrity is toxic to the body. The fact is, we’re combating toxins all the time.

The most common types of toxins we all encounter regularly come from poor diets, poorly digested, fermented food, medications, drugs, alcohol, tobacco, environmental toxins like air and water pollution, smoke, pesticides and herbicides. This toxic burden is an inescapable part of urban life, and we know it can sound pretty depressing!

When subjected to all of these forms of toxins at once – as most of us are – it’s easy to see how our bodies can become inundated with chemicals that need to be removed. It’s also easy to understand why, even though we might be doing everything we can to sustain a healthy lifestyle and keep our toxin-fighting organs in prime condition, our bodies sometimes need help in this respect.

How Do I Know if I’m Overloaded with Toxins?

As we said before: the body is constantly detoxifying – day in, day out, all day and all night! Our organs are designed to do just that to keep us healthy but who hasn’t been super stressed out and resorted to a poor diet or more frequent glasses of wine? Who hasn’t experienced an illness that compromised their health to the point where they just don’t seem to fully recover? These are just some instances when toxin overload may contribute to ill health.  Sometimes toxins that we experience daily become a combined, overwhelming force while at other times we experience a mix of toxins in particularly high doses. Ongoing situations like this can lead to chronic toxin overexposure and inadequate elimination.

Are you overloaded with toxins? Ask yourself these questions:  

  1. Do you have persistent brain-fog, lack of focus, mental clarity, or migraines?
  2. Do you have ongoing fatigue, muscle aches or pains, general lack of motivation or feelings of depression that just won’t go away?
  3. Have you noticed an increase in body odour, foul fecal odour, pungent or bad breath?
  4. Are you experiencing skin reactions or acne in ways you haven’t before?
  5. Have you recently become newly sensitive to chemicals, fragrances, or scents?
  6. Have you developed new allergies of any kind?
  7. Are your periods excessively heavy or painful?

These are just some of the common changes that you might notice and they’re some of the ways your body is trying to tell you that it’s overwhelmed with toxins.

Do Detox Diets Work?

A handful of clinical studies have shown that commercial detox diets enhance liver detoxification and eliminate persistent organic pollutants from the body. Better quality studies still need to be done, but from our clinical experience, we’ve seen numerous patients improve by assisting their bodies to remove toxins. Organic pollutants have been implicated in the development of inflammatory conditions, obesity and diabetes.

What is the Best Detox?

Some basics for the healthy ongoing elimination of toxins:

  1. Stay hydrated.  Water intake helps your body flush waste out through your kidneys.
  2. Increase your fibre intake.  Consuming lots of vegetables and legumes and moderate amounts of fruit help your body to excrete toxins through regular bowel movements.
  3. Lemon water.  Drinking a glass of lemon water first thing in the morning helps to get bile moving that carries waste out of your liver.
  4. Eat a healthy, whole foods diet including organic foods as much as possible to reduce your toxic burden.

Advanced liver detox techniques

Healthy liver detoxification requires specific vitamins and minerals to allow for efficient function of phase I and phase II liver detoxification.  These include indole-3-carbinol, vitamin B6, B12, magnesium, L-5MHTF and calcium-d-glucarate.  Leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, kale and Brussels sprouts help supply these nutrients.  Our naturopathic doctors can provide expert advice about dosing for these and other natural supplements for doing the best detox cleanse.

Accessory nutrients that are also needed for healthy liver detoxification include alpha lipoic acid, n-acetyl cysteine, Vitamins A, C and E, glutathione, selenium, glycine, taurine and glutamine.

When you’re experiencing symptoms that may be related to toxins, it’s the right time to visit our clinic for help. We can help reactivate your body’s natural defence mechanisms so that you can experience optimal health every day. Sometimes, our organs need extra help in their work combatting toxins. We have lots of solutions to help you ensure that toxins are kept at bay and that your organs are happy, healthy, and strong.

What About Those Detox Kits?

A detox kit would not be what we would recommend to support healthy liver detoxification.  Mainly these kits contain fibre supplements, laxative herbs and small doses of herbs like milk thistle and dandelion.  Fibre supplements and laxative herbs only make you poop more.  More frequent bowel movements do not mean more efficient liver function.  Milk thistle is useful for regenerating liver cells when your liver has been injured, think of conditions like cirrhosis or hepatitis.  Rebuilding your liver won’t hurt, and may help, but as a low dose ingredient in these kits, it’s not enough to accomplish much.  Dandelion is used to help your liver make more bile and empty that bile out of your gallbladder into your small intestine.  This helps to carry waste out of your liver.  But, in order for there to be waste to carry out, your liver has to break toxins down, that is where we want to support the liver in phase I and phase II liver detoxification so that you can carry waste out through bile.  If you have regular bowel movements, you are making and excreting bile.  Bile is part of the process that helps to keep bowels regular.

Looking for the best detox diet?

You can download a free 6-day meal plan by clicking here.

Call or email us at 416-481-0222 or Info@ForcesofNature.ca and we’ll be happy to have a detailed consultation with you to find the right pathway to your optimal health.

The Team at Forces of Nature Wellness Clinic

Research

Klein AV, Kiat H. Detox diets for toxin elimination and weight management: a critical review of the evidence. J Hum Nutr Diet. 2015 Dec;28(6):675-86. doi: 10.1111/jhn.12286. Epub 2014 Dec 18.

Lectins – Love Them or Leave Them?

lectins - are they bad for you?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lectins – What are they and are they harming your health?

By Dr. Pamela Frank, BSc(Hons), ND

We’re all familiar with that schoolyard rhyme: “beans, beans, they’re good for your heart….” Have you ever wondered why foods like legumes are so tough to digest, creating a socially unacceptable end result?

Turns out that most of our foods contain certain compounds that, by nature, are difficult on our digestive systems – because they’re not really meant for our digestive systems at all! Now, that doesn’t mean we can’t tolerate them but more and more research is helping us learn the reasons why some foods can be tough to digest, and what the implications are of consuming them. In the case of beans and legumes, amongst other foods, the main culprit we’re learning more about is lectins.

What are Lectins?

Lectins are a kind of protein that’s found in a variety of plant- and animal-based foods. In fact, almost all plant and animal substances contain them in small amounts!

We know proteins are the building blocks of muscles and are critical to our health so the question for most of us is: if lectins are just proteins, how could they be bad for us?

Simply put, lectins bind cells together, and in particular, they bind to sugars. Their ability to lessen the body’s ability to properly absorb nutrients puts lectins in a special category known as ‘antinutrients’. Because we can’t digest lectins, they tend to pass through our systems unnoticed which, for most people, means antinutrients like lectins don’t pose much of a problem at all! In fact, in small amounts, lectins can have numerous health benefits. They’ve been shown to have an important role in immune function, cell growth, and might even be helpful in cancer therapy.

However, lectins can wreak havoc for people who consume a diet with lots of high lectin foods and for those who suffer from GI disorders like IBS, Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis or those with immune deficiencies. In more severe instances where GI disorders and immune dysfunction are at play, lectins can have quite a serious effect on the gut lining and tight junctions that keep the intestines functioning well. To read more about tight junctions,check out our article about Leaky Gut Syndrome here. 

If they’re not meant to be digested, what purpose do lectins serve?

Lectins have a distinct and important purpose in nature – it’s just that the purpose is for the organism’s survival, and not for human consumption! The most important function lectins have in the plant world is to act as a natural insecticide, protecting plants, grains, and legumes from natural predators. And they’re great at it too! When predatory insects come in contact with them, the lectins completely disrupt insect metabolism, preventing invasions and attacks on the plants. As part of a plant’s defense mechanisms, lectins are a natural way to strengthen crops against common pests!

What Symptoms do Lectins Cause?

To update that schoolyard rhyme: the more lectins you consume the more discomfort, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, flatulence, and importantly, malabsorption of nutrients you might experience.

If these sound like familiar symptoms, that could be because the 30% of foods that have high levels of lectins are ones we commonly eat such as dairy, nightshades (like tomatoes and peppers), whole grains, seeds, GMO foods, and yes – beans and legumes!

Some experts have suggested that removing all lectins from your diet can help the gut to recover from antinutrient-caused distress and that this could be critical to treating GI and immune disorders. Still, many others have pointed to the various preparation techniques that people have used around the globe to help weaken and eliminate lectin proteins, making these staple foods much easier to enjoy!

We caution against removing whole categories of foods unless truly necessary, especially because foods high in lectins also have other essential benefits such as fibre and minerals, that our bodies need. Instead, we want to provide you with a variety of methods you can use to prepare high lectins foods that are centuries old, and globally trusted to make these foods easier to digest.

How Can You De-activate Lectins for Better Digestion?

These are our favourite four ways of preparing legumes, grains, and seeds so you can keep them in your diet without worrying about the negative effects of lectin protein. Prepare them mindfully, and with the help of a few tried and true techniques to get the most out of them:

Soak Your Legumes and Grains

Beans (canned or dried) in particular benefit from soaking, as do many harder grains and pseudo-grains like oats, rye, barley, wheat, and quinoa. Soaking and rinsing legumes and grains help to shake free starches, acids, and proteins, making minerals more bioavailable as well as making them easier to digest. Put yours in a larger bowl and cover with water by about 2 inches. Allow them to soak for a few hours up to overnight. Drain fully and rinse again until the water runs clear. As an extra tip: we like to add a 1” piece of kombu or dulse seaweed to the water when soaking beans – it further helps to break down lectins and make beans easier to digest!

Sprout Beans and Seeds

For most beans and seeds sprouting deactivates lectins completely. Why? Because you’re no longer eating them in their contained form. Rather, since they’ve begun the initial stages of germination, they’ve evolved from that seed state. The nutrients are even more available when you sprout, and it’s a lot of fun for the family when you have a hand in ‘growing’ your own food.  Sprouting them is super simple.  Put a layer of your beans and seeds for sprouting in a mason jar.  Rinse them with water, pour off the water and let them sit on your counter.  Rinse them and drain every day until they sprout.  They make a delicious crunchy topping for salads.

This works for almost all legumes except for alfalfa in which, interestingly, lectins increase when sprouted!

Boil or Pressure Cook Legumes or Grains

It seems obvious that if you were going to eat legumes or grains that you would boil or pressure cook them first – but these techniques actually have many benefits and ridding beans of lectins is one of them. Studies show that boiling soybeans, red beans, and many others at 212°F/ 100°C for a minimum of 10 minutes reduces lectins to negligible amounts.

Ferment Beans and Grains

Fermenting foods is the act of allowing good bacteria to grow in the food. The new good bacteria break down and convert would-be harmful proteins including lectins. This is an ancient and common approach across many cultures to consuming foods that are otherwise difficult to digest. In fact, fermented foods are great for you for many reasons because that good bacteria is also known as probiotics – one of the most important factors in overall gut health. Just think of tofu, tempeh, miso, kefir, and natto as great examples of fermented foods that would contain high levels of lectins prior to fermentation and you can see why this technique is so far-reaching!

At Forces of Nature, we want to see you and your family on a path towards your optimal health, and we have the tools to help make that journey clearer and easier. If you’re curious to learn more about how reducing or removing lectins from your diet could be beneficial to you, please call or email us at 416-481-0222 or Info@ForcesofNature.ca and Dr. Vong, Dr. Frank or registered dietitian Sanaz Baradaran will be happy to have a detailed consultation with you.


Yours in good health,

The Team at Forces of nature

References:

Rhodes, Jonathan M. Genetically modified foods and the Pusztai affair. BMJ. 1999 May 8; 318(7193): 1284.

Miyake K, Tanaka T, McNeil PL, 2007 Lectin-Based Food Poisoning: A New Mechanism of Protein Toxicity. PLoS ONE 2(8): e687. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0000687

DeMarco, Vincent G., et al. Glutamine and Barrier Function in Cultured Caco-2 Epithelial Cell Monolayers. J. Nutr. July 1, 2003 vol. 133 no. 7 2176-2179.

http://gundrymd.com/remove-lectins/

http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/lectins-phytates-autoimmune-disease-separating-fact-fiction

Want a Fast Metabolism?

words tips to kickstart your metabolism for a fast metabolism

Want a Fast Metabolism? 10 Easy Tips to Kick Start Your Metabolism

By Dr. Pamela Frank, BSc (Hons), Naturopathic Doctor

Now that we’re through December and heavy, holiday foods have left us feeling bloated and sluggish, it’s time to figure out how to get back into the swing of things. If you’ve set New Year’s Intentions that include healthier eating and activity, then enabling a fast metabolism can help make the difference to living your intentions well.

Fast Metabolism Tips

These are some of our favourite ways to get your metabolism back into gear:

Stay Satiated

Even if you’re trying to lose a few extra pounds that appeared over the holidays, staying fairly full is key to your success in managing your metabolism and your weight. Eat slowly, until you’re about 90% full, and then stop. This will allow you to determine if you really do need more sustenance or if you’re just eating out of habit. Even if you’re aiming to reduce your caloric intake, starving will only make your metabolism slower.  Your body will try to store the limited energy it’s being provided – and that’s the opposite of our goal.

Commit to Breakfast

It’s not surprising that those who don’t eat breakfast actually tend to gain more weight over time. That’s because those who skip this meal tend to make up for it (and more) by overeating at lunch, snack times, and dinner. After a good night’s rest, your body is primed to accept the fuel it needs to move through the day. In fact, it needs more fuel because it has spent hours with your metabolism in resting mode! Try a breakfast that’s high in protein, and has some complex carbohydrates and a bit of fat to jumpstart your metabolism and keep you satisfied until lunchtime.

Up The H20

Whether via glasses of water, herbal teas or broth-based soups, giving your body quality fluids is essential to having a well-hydrated metabolism. Water helps keep nutrients flowing into your cells, carries toxins out of your body, and is key to a happy digestive system. It also keeps you feeling full, and can help you burn more calories by supporting a fast metabolism! Moreover, the extra nutrients found in broth-based soups are ‘soup-er’ ways of digesting much-needed vitamins and minerals with minimal taxing of your digestive system. And, after a season of indulgence, that’s something from which we can all benefit!

Add Tea or Coffee

The antioxidants and small amounts of caffeine found in black, green, and white tea, as well as coffee, support a fast metabolism and keeping it chugging along healthily. One cup per day can provide beneficial amounts without going overboard. And, even better, adding herbal teas such as fennel, mint, or ginger tea after a meal can assist your digestion processes, helping meals to settle better and digest more easily – without added caffeine.

Spice Is Extra Nice

Studies show that adding spicy hot peppers or hot pepper sauces can help to increase your metabolism! Studies are showing that the thermogenic properties of peppers and capsaicin, a compound in chiles, can temporarily increase your body temperature, helping it to burn more calories in short bursts of time. So, try adding some extra spice to those soups or other foods, and see what benefit you might derive!

Include Intervals

Any form of exercise can be bolstered by the addition of the short bursts of cardiovascular activity also known as ‘Interval Training’. Adding in 2-5 minute bursts of jumping jacks, skipping, vigorous dancing or burpees seem like they’re ‘in the moment’ kick starts but they’re all great ways of building long-lasting metabolism increases.  Personally, I have made a commitment to crank up my favourite song every hour and just dance!  It’s a great stress reliever and ups your heart rate and metabolism.

Dial Down Stress

It’s been long understood that high levels of stress hormones like cortisol can result in a slowed metabolism and eventual weight gain. The opposite is also true: by turning down the stress in our lives we can help our brains, hormones, and bodies relax, a natural reboot for our metabolism.

Stimulate Your Stomach

If you consistently experience symptoms like heaviness after a meal, acid reflux, or bloating, food allergies, undigested food in stool, flatulence, or even nausea after taking supplements you might be suffering from low stomach acid which, in turn, can result in lowered metabolism. Stomach acid, or HCL (hydrochloric acid) is a core requirement to digest effectively.  Good digestion is one of the essential building blocks of a fast metabolism. Try stimulating your stomach acid with beneficial celery juice and see how much better you feel.

Excel With Enzymes

Sometimes there are particular foods that make us feel sluggish, heavy, bloated, or uncomfortable. In that case, it might be time to consider digestive enzymes to help break down food to make it more digestible and the nutrients within it more absorbable. Try adding enzyme rich foods like fermented foods, papaya (which contains papain), pineapple (which contains bromelain), mango (which contains amylase), and honey (multiple enzymes). Interested in supplements instead? Look for the ones that help with your food difficulties: protease for proteins, amylase for help with carbohydrates, lipase for help digesting fats, cellulase for breaking down fibre, and maltase to help convert complex sugars from grains into glucose.

Sleep Soundly

The quality of your sleep doesn’t just affect your moods and alertness, it also has a profound effect on your metabolic state because deep REM sleep, is the body’s time for rest and repair – and that includes how the body manages stress hormones, blood sugar levels, and growth hormones – all of which play critical roles in a fast metabolism. We’re still learning much more about how important consistent sleep and rest are for our health, but what we do know for sure is that a sleep deprived body is slower and more lethargic which means weight management is harder. So if you choose just one of these tips to follow, make it to get more sleep, more often, first!

Looking for personalized assistance in maintaining a fast metabolism? Our naturopathic doctors can help you navigate this and provide you with a fully customized plan for your metabolism. To book your appointment call us at 416-481-0222 or email us at Info@ForcesofNature.ca.  Also you can book your own appointment online anytime at https://forcesofnature.janeapp.com/.

 

To your good health,

The Team at Forces of Nature Wellness Clinic

Research:

Sahin K, Orhan C, Tuzcu M, Sahin N, Ozdemir O, Juturu V. Ingested capsaicinoids can prevent low-fat-high-carbohydrate diet and high-fat diet-induced obesity by regulating the NADPH oxidase and Nrf2 pathways. J Inflamm Res. 2017 Nov 13;10:161-168. doi: 10.2147/JIR.S149087. eCollection 2017.

Vitamin A: Rabbits Have it Right

picture of vitamin A food sources

What is Vitamin A?

It is the name used to refer to several fat-soluble vitamers such as retinol, retinal and four carotenoids (pro-vitamin A) including beta-carotene. These carotenoids are plant pigments that give plants red, yellow and orange colors.  There are some 600 different carotenoids, the most common and well understood are alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein, zeaxanthin and lycopene.

What foods are rich in Vitamin A?

Carotenoids (or building blocks) are found in foods such as:

  • Carrots
  • Dark, leafy green vegetables such as spinach, kale, mustard greens, etc.
  • Butternut squash
  • Apricots
  • Cantaloupe
  • Sweet potato
  • Pumpkin

In order to ingest actual, pre-formed vitamin A you could consume:

  • Turkey or chicken liver
  • Cod liver oil
  • Salmon
  • Eggs

What Does Vitamin A Do?

It is required for the proper development and functioning of the eyes, skin, immune system and mucous membranes.  Mucous membranes are the tissue that lines the entire digestive tract, the respiratory tract, and vagina.

What is Vitamin A Good For? What are the Benefits of it?

It is beneficial for the following:

  • Improving vision and treating eye disorders
  • Treat or improve skin conditions including acne
  • Treat acute infections
  • Women often take it to help with heavy menstrual periods, PMS, cervical dysplasia or to prevent breast cancer
  • Men can take it to raise sperm count
  • Boosting the immune system
  • Protecting the heart and cardiovascular system
  • Promoting healthy bone growth
  • Slowing the aging process

What are the Signs of Low Vitamin A?

The following signs and symptoms may indicate a need for more vitamin A:

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Weight loss
  • Dry eyes
  • Poor vision at night or in dim light
  • Skin scaling
  • Brittle fingernails and hair
  • Respiratory infections
  • Urinary tract infections

How Much Do I Need?

The average multivitamin has about 1000 IU of pre-formed vitamin A and about 3000 IU of beta-carotene.  Depending on the particular health condition, we may choose to supplement anywhere from 10 000 IU to 50 000 IU per day for short periods of time, up to 3 months.  Because of the risk of toxicity, supplementation other than through a multivitamin should only be done under the supervision of a naturopathic doctor and should never be done while pregnant, breastfeeding or trying to conceive.

Can You Overdose on Vitamin A?

Yes.  It is a fat-soluble vitamin, which means that it can be stored in fat tissue in your body.  Too much can cause toxicity symptoms such as:

  • Hair loss
  • Confusion
  • Liver damage
  • Bone loss
  • Hemorrhage
  • Coma and even death

For herb, vitamin and supplement advice, please schedule a consultation with one of our naturopathic doctors.

No More Resolutions

picture saying no more resolutions

Resolutions are all wrong! Set yourself up for success instead!

Every New Year the “R” word kicks into full force. RESOLUTIONS. We evaluate the past year, how we ‘performed’, what we ‘lacked’, and what we are committed to doing 100% the next year. The trouble is that only about 8% of people actually keep their resolutions. For the rest of us, resolutions serve to remind us of what we didn’t follow through on, what we might have ‘failed at’ again, or what we fell short of achieving. In the end, resolutions create a measuring stick that sets most of us up for failure.

So this year, what if you let go of the “R” word and focus on intentions instead?

There’s a difference between these words, though we tend to use them interchangeably. A ‘resolution’ is similar to a ‘SMART goal’: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely, except that when it comes to making personal resolutions, the most common ones usually miss out on the measurable and realistic parts. Unfortunately, those are the two aspects of resolution-making that make most of us give up or fall short!

These were the top 10 New Year’s Resolutions for 2017:

1 Lose Weight / Healthier Eating 21.4%
2 Life / Self Improvements 12.3%
3 Better Financial Decisions 8.5%
4 Quit Smoking 7.1%
5 Do more exciting things 6.3%
6 Spend More Time with Family / Close Friends 6.2%
7 Work out more often 5.5%
8 Learn something new on my own 5.3%
9 Do more good deeds for others 5.2%
10 Find the love of my life 4.3

When you read these themes, I bet you can imagine how they’re translated into ‘resolutions’ like: “lose X lbs by Y date” or “save X amount of money by Y date”. Can you see how much pressure and expectation there is on finding one acceptable and final outcome for these resolutions – and how discouraging it would be to not meet them? Just reading them makes my heart sink with the expectation of it all! Why do this to ourselves – and at the start of a brand new year, too? 

This is where intentions can be more useful, more positive, and more sustainable.

In his book, The Power of Intention, Wayne Dyer defines intention as “a strong purpose or aim, accompanied by a determination to produce the desired result.” Rather than focusing on a problem to be solved, intentions focus energy on a gradual shifting towards change, a continual checking in with one’s Self to remember and activate inner motivation to live with the intention set.

This New Year, try the following:

  1. Write a “Letter of Intention” to yourself. Consider a maximum of FOUR intentions you want to live with and guide your life by over the next year and beyond. The idea is to choose four things that will become themes to live by, that you can cultivate rather than a goal to be ticked off a list.
  2. When you select your four intentions choose one based on the physical body, one on the emotions, one on the mind, and one on the spirit. Allow these four intentions to be broader than a specific end-goal, and more of a theme or quality to which you can tend.
  3. Re-read your letter and sit with it for a while. Come back to it and distil the content into four intention statements beginning with “I want…” Hang onto that full letter though!
  4. Use these four statements as a daily personal mantra when you arise in the morning, and let them be the way you begin each day – excited and content in the intentions you’re planting. You can even write them on cue cards, or print them on a poster to keep where you’ll be able to read them each morning.

Need some ideas for themes? Here are a few to start you off, “I WANT…

A LIMBER, COMFORTABLE BODY (body theme)

A NOURISHED BODY (body theme)

A CALM HEART (emotions)

SOFTNESS (emotions)

EQUANIMITY, MENTAL COMPOSURE (mind)

OPTIMISM (mind)

GRACE IN BE-ING (spirit)

LIGHTNESS (spirit)

Intentions are done in partnership with the Self, with personal creativity, and inner motivation. When you design them, you do so from a place of desiring improvement – not a measurement or pass/fail – which allows you the freedom to grow, shift, and evolve as your intentions take on practical meaning in your life. There is an embedded mindfulness to this kind of intention-setting that is neither demanding nor outside or particularly foreign to how most of us move through our days, making it simple to incorporate into your morning routine.

Over time, with this practice, you’ll nurture your intentions to become a part of your daily actions – and in that way, you’ll see them develop and grow into the way you now live!

Periodically throughout the year, revisit your Letter of Intention and see how much more able you are to notice your success in bringing those themes into your world – and how much prouder you are than when trying to live up to those impossible resolutions of the past. Then, give yourself a pat on the back, because you’re doing great!

We want to be a part of your personal care team. No question or curiosity is too small for us to address together. So don’t be shy to give us a call!  Our door is always open and your road to optimal health is just a phone call away – 416-481-0222.

From all of us at Forces of Nature Wellness Clinic:

We wish you success, happiness, and good health for 2018!

Authored by Dr Pamela Frank, BSc, ND

References:

https://www.statisticbrain.com/new-years-resolution-statistics

Healthy Tips

picture top tips to stay healthy

Healthy Holiday Guide for Mind, Body, and Spirit

By Dr. Pamela Frank, BSc, ND

For many, the holiday season is the ‘most wonderful time of the year’ because it brings about family and social gatherings, opportunities to bring people together, outings and events, parties, and presents! At the same time, the holiday season also brings added stress, pressured work deadlines, the year ends, extra household and entertaining duties, changes to your nutrition and alcohol habits, and even a lack of sleep!

So, the most wonderful time of the year can also be accompanied by many factors that can put your health at risk – physically, emotionally, and mentally.

We all want to enjoy this time of year. Here are our healthy tips on how to manage all of the extra demands being made is critical to being able to relax, have fun, and truly be present this holiday season.

Body

Wash your hands often to help prevent the spread of germs.

The holiday season is also cold and flu season. And with all of your family and friends in close proximity, regular hand washing isn’t just a good health practice for yourself, but it’s also a way to help your most vulnerable loved ones (children and the elderly) stay clear of viral and bacterial germs. Wash your hands with soap and clean running water for at least 20 seconds and follow up with an emollient hand cream to keep your skin moisturized and free of harmful dryness and cracks.

Bundle up to stay dry and warm.

Even if you’re just running outside to toss out the recycling, or picking up the kids from school, be sure to wear appropriate outdoor clothing: light, warm, loose layers keep you comfortable and insulated, while winter accessories like gloves, hats, scarves, and waterproof boots prevent you from rapid loss of body heat.

Be food aware, choose wisely.

Holiday foods tend to be full of extra delicious things like butter, sugar and wheat and while indulging in this festive season is not altogether bad, you must learn to choose your indulgences wisely to prevent bloating, weight gain, hormonal imbalance, dehydration, and digestion issues.

Make holiday treats healthy by sneaking in veggies

It might sound strange, but we love finding ways to hide vegetables in sweet treats. Feel better about serving your family their favourite cookies and cakes by finding recipes that use healthy pumpkin, zucchini, avocado, or even almond meal to replace wheat flour and/or sugar. You won’t taste the difference but you’ll all be healthier as a result!

Mind

Set limits

Performing well at work, caring for yourself and your family, AND pulling off a holiday feast can become extra daunting over the holiday season when more demands both personally and professionally are made on you. It’s time to learn that it’s good to say “No” to some things that spread you too thin, make you anxious, put you on edge, or stress you out. Concentrate on doing fewer things – and ask others to take on tasks to support the bigger picture – and not only will they come out better, but you’ll be able to enjoy the fruits of your labour too!

Take a break

When you feel stressed out, overwhelmed, or out of control – it’s time to breathe deeply and take a break. When all of the tasks at hand seem to carry the same weight and gravity, stepping back to get some perspective is a healthy and supportive way to manage stress. Figure out what you can let go of, find support for others that need to get done (but maybe not by you, this time), take time for social connection, and get plenty of sleep and don’t forget to breathe! Deep breathing and paying attention to your breath is a great way to lower stress and balance the body.

Wander

Let your mind wander! Turn on some of your favourite music, make yourself a hot bath and close the door, read a novel just for the pleasure of it. Even if it’s only for 15 minutes, giving your mind time to wander off allows your brain and body to process everything you’re experiencing throughout the day and leaves you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

Spirit

Block off time for fitness and sleep – and make it non-negotiable

Extra stressors may not seem like a big deal at the beginning of the season but I bet you remember how harried and exhausted you were by the end of the season last year! NO-ONE can sustain a holiday rush without taking time for themselves to regenerate. This time is just for you. Make a promise to take yourself to the gym or on a run at least three times a week, and set a sleep schedule to make sure you have enough nighttime rest. Then? Keep that promise!

Get a head start on the new year with Holiday Resolutions!

There’s no need to wait for January 1st to start looking forward to the year ahead. In fact, when life is stressful, looking forward is a great way to increase your feelings of optimism and hope. In fact, you could try committing to just one or two of the suggestions in this post to help you feel your best during the holidays and you’ll already be on your way! We suggest the practice of gratitude for what you have now in the present and remind yourself of all the things that are amazing in your life. We waste too much time waiting for the next thing to make us happy when real happiness starts with you every single day.

Give yourself the gift of self-compassion

You deserve to enjoy the holidays as much as anyone in your family but it can be hard to accept that our realities rarely mimic a ‘Very Martha Stewart Holiday.’ Focus on self-kindness instead of self- judgement and accept imperfections with sympathy rather than critique or shame them. Let go of notions of perfection and enjoy what has been accomplished.

Make time for reflection and worship

This is a common time of year for reflection, but making a habit of it can help keep our mind and spirit connected and content. If you hold faith near, make time to experience community-based worship. The feeling of being together with your community is unparalleled for feeling connected, safe, and spiritually sound.

From our practice to you and your family, we wish you all the best for a healthy and happy holiday season and a wonderful New Year.

happy holidays

 

How to Drink More Water

picture of a man trying to drink more water

5 Ways to Drink More Water

By Dr. Pamela Frank, BSc (Hons), ND

Commonly heard phrases at Forces of Nature:

“I know I need to drink more water!”

“I know I don’t drink enough water”

“I’m terrible at drinking water”

Why don’t we drink more water?

Here are some of the reasons given:

  1. Then I have to pee too often
  2. There won’t be a washroom nearby
  3. I don’t have water with me
  4. I can’t drink tap water
  5. I never get thirsty
  6. I don’t like the taste of plain water

While we can’t make a washroom be nearby when you need one, but we can help with most of the rest.

Why Do We Need to Drink More Water?

Dehydration can cause every system in your body to work at less than it’s full capacity. Your brain doesn’t work well, your joints and muscles aren’t well lubricated, skin cells aren’t as plump and full, your stool is drier and harder causing constipation, your kidneys can’t flush waste effectively, toxins build up in your body, your metabolism slows down and so on.

What Are the Benefits of Drinking Water?

  1. Your brain works better when it’s well hydrated.
  2. Your joints have more cushioning.  Did you know that the discs that cushion the ones of your spine are 80-90% water?
  3. Your muscles function better.
  4. Your skin looks plumper and less dry.
  5. Your stool is softer and easier to pass.
  6. Your kidneys can remove toxins from your system more efficiently.
  7. Your metabolism works better.

Six Solutions to Common Water Conundrums

  1. Drink more water for a week. The initial frequent trips to the bathroom often subside once your body becomes accustomed to regular water/fluid intake.
  2. Plan your water intake.  You should be fine to have a couple of glasses of water as you are going out the door in the morning on your way to work.  By the time you get to work you may need to use the facilities.  During the day when you’re at the office should be fine, then in anticipation of the commute home, you may want to cut off water an hour before you leave and use the facilities before you go home regardless of whether you feel you need to.
  3. Invest in a good water bottle.  I’m not a fan of plastic water bottles.  I think that regardless of the type of plastic, some plastic chemicals end up in your water and also the bottles themselves are an environmental nightmare. A good stainless steel or glass water bottle is a good investment and if you take it with you it allows regular access to good water.
  4. Tap water or dehydration? Despite everything we hear about tap water, I think it’s still better to drink that than to be dehydrated.
  5. Start your day with water.  For those who don’t get thirsty, your poor body may have given up on you providing it with water. Start the day with 2 cups of water.  Most people tell me that they then feel more thirsty throughout the day, so they don’t have to “force” themselves to drink.
  6. Read my tips below to make water more appealing.

Five ways to make it more interesting and enticing so you drink more water:

  1. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon, lime or orange into it.
  2. Slice some citrus up and add it to a pitcher of water, along with a few crushed mint leaves.
  3. Make iced herbal teas. Raspberry, peach, mint, lemon balm, green tea and strawberry all make cool, refreshing drinks for a hot day and don’t require any added sugar.
  4. Use unsweetened juice to make ice cubes, then pop one in a glass of water to keep your water cold and add a bit of fruit flavor to it.
  5. Add cucumber or melon slices to a pitcher of water for cool, refreshing water.

If you’re looking for more ways to optimize your diet or health, see one of our naturopathic doctors.  If you’re looking to optimize your overall health, consider incorporating acupuncture, Traditional Chinese Medicine, chiropractic, massage therapy or psychotherapy to your health plan.

Why Do I Wake Tired?

picture of a woman who will wake tired

Wondering Why You Wake Tired? Here’s how to Lose the Snooze Button

By Dr. Pamela Frank, BSc(Hons), Naturopath

An overwhelming majority of my patients report that they wake tired in the morning when they have to get up. I’m always a little pleasantly surprised when I ask and a patient says yes, they feel refreshed. If you wake tired, there are a number of possible explanations, read on to learn more.

Not Enough Sleep

Studies show that the optimal amount is 7-7.5 hours of restful sleep. With hectic lifestyles, never enough time, trying to have a little down or me time, we often sacrifice time spent sleeping.  Also, if you are waking frequently in the night or up to go to the washroom, then you only get broken sleep. Broken sleep is not as refreshing as 7 hours of continuous sleep.

3 Action Steps for Better Sleep:

  1. Set an earlier bedtime, ideally by 10 p.m. and stick to it.  If you want some quiet time, get up early in the morning to be more aligned with your body clock. Aim for 8 hours of sleep per night, that way if you fall short, you’ll still get 7-7.5.
  2. Unplug by 8 p.m.  Looking at a screen tricks your brain into thinking it’s still daytime and decreases melatonin production that should enhance your sleep.  Melatonin has a multitude of additional benefits: it’s a powerful antioxidant, it repairs the esophagus, it can help fertility and it helps stimulate growth hormone production.
  3. If you find you are waking in the night, have a bite or two of protein containing food before bed.  A couple of bites of egg, fish, a tablespoon of almond butter etc, helps stabilize blood sugar to help you get to sleep & stay asleep better.

Low Iron

Ferritin is a blood test that we do to check for stored iron. Iron deficiencies can lead to exhaustion. An optimal ferritin level is above 60 mcg/L.  Some labs consider anything above 11 mcg/L to be normal.  As a result, your doctor may have told you your iron (ferritin) was normal when it was a fair bit below ideal. Ferritin below 40 mcg/L can definitely lead to problems with low energy and cause you to wake tired, as well as contributing to hair loss and shortness of breath.

2 Action Steps for Low Iron

  1. Ask your doctor to check ferritin and then ask for a copy of the blood work. Check that your ferritin is greater than 60 mcg/L.
  2. If your ferritin is below 60 mcg/L, it’s important to determine the cause of the low iron.  Simply taking iron supplements is not the best approach.  If you experience heavy periods that may explain the low iron, but in that case, it’s best to address the hormone imbalance that is causing the heavy periods.  If you absorb iron poorly or don’t take in enough from your diet, it’s best to address that.

Low Thyroid

Your thyroid regulates energy, body temperature, and metabolism.  Think of it like the gas pedal for your body.  If it’s not supplying enough gas, that means that having a sluggish thyroid can have a huge impact on energy. Blood work for thyroid is usually limited to testing TSH, a hormone that should stimulate the thyroid to work harder if it is underactive. So, a lower TSH means that the thyroid is working well, a higher TSH means the thyroid is sluggish.

The normal range for TSH is 0.35-5.00 mU/L.  If we converted this to whole numbers it is like saying that 35 to 500 is normal. The range is far too broad and once TSH gets above 3.00 there can be indications of an underactive thyroid. Some endocrinologists and fertility specialists will medicate the thyroid if TSH is above 2.50 as thyroid problems can contribute to infertility. As with ferritin, you may have been told that your thyroid is “normal”. I will treat a patient’s thyroid if the TSH exceeds 3.00 to try to restore normal thyroid function.

2 Action Steps for Low Thyroid

  1. Ask your doctor to check your thyroid and then ask for a copy of the blood work. Check that TSH is between 0.8 and 3.00 mU/L.
  2. Additionally, it would be helpful to have the following measurements relating to thyroid: free T3, free T4, anti-TPO and anti-thyroglobulin.  A TSH measurement alone is not adequate to determine that your thyroid is working perfectly.

Allergies

Allergies can often leave people feeling exhausted a good deal of the time as their immune system is working double time, all the time.  Many people will have low-grade food allergies or food sensitivities that they are either unaware of or they are unable to pinpoint the culprit foods.  Dairy and gluten are common, but you can have a food sensitivity to literally anything you are eating.  Journaling what you eat and rating your energy both later that day & the following day may help you unearth patterns between foods & energy.  If not, food sensitivity blood testing is the most efficient way to determine exactly what your immune system is fighting.  For environmental allergies, we aim to limit exposure if possible, but you can’t necessarily avoid pollen and dust.

4 Action Steps for Allergies

  1. Support adrenals – the adrenal glands help your body keep inflammation in check, read more on them below.
  2. Detoxify the liver – phase I and phase II liver detoxification are the steps that your liver takes to remove toxins, body waste, pollution and even hormones from your body.  There are certain vitamins and minerals that are essential for these processes to work optimally including vitamin B6, B12, 5-MTHF, magnesium, glucarate and indole-3-carbinol.  Supporting efficient liver detox can help remove chemicals that may be adversely affecting your immune system.
  3. Cleanse your gut and restore good bacteria to the digestive tract – Healthy gut flora keeps the immune system regulated and working normally.
  4. Remove existing food sensitivities to settle allergies down – Food sensitivities create inflamed, hypersensitive tissue in your respiratory tract (nose, throat, lungs, bronchi, sinuses).  Calming down this tissue by removing food allergies can help make them less sensitive to environmental pollutants.

Underactive Adrenal Glands

If all else above has been ruled out, the reason you wake tired is likely due to underactive adrenal glands. These are your stress glands, they sit on top of your kidneys and regulate a wide range of functions including: blood pressure, blood sugar, nervous system, libido, energy, drive, motivation, stress response, inflammation, hormone balance etc. Signs of low adrenal function include: wake tired after at least 7 hours of sleep, hypoglycemia, PMS, anxiety, depression, feeling dizzy or light headed on standing up quickly, low libido, inflammatory conditions like allergies, asthma, eczema, arthritis, and inflammatory bowel disease etc.

3 Action Steps for the Adrenal Glands

  1. Lower your stress.  The adrenal glands were meant to help you deal with short term stress, like running away from danger.  Chronic stress is hard on them and depletes vital vitamins and minerals for them to function normally.  Stress reduction techniques like yoga, meditation, breathing exercises, exercise, and getting good sleep can help.
  2. Support the adrenals with lots of vitamin C, B5, B6, zinc, magnesium and potassium rich foods like avocadoes, citrus and leafy greens.
  3. Measure.  You can do blood work to determine how well the adrenal glands are working.  Your adrenals produce all of your DHEAs, much of your testosterone and a stress hormone called cortisol.  These can all be measured in your blood.  Lab ranges are not particularly ideal for these tests either, so it’s best to obtain a copy of your results and consult with a naturopathic doctor to see if blood work is showing a problem with your adrenal glands.

Our naturopathic doctors are the masters at troubleshooting fatigue and why you might wake tired.  Traditional Chinese Medicine and acupuncture with Joy Walraven may help you have more energy. If pain is keeping you up at night, address the cause with massage therapy and chiropractic. If stress is keeping you up, combine massage therapy with psychotherapy.    Book an appointment now. 

 

Gut or Digestion Problems?

woman with gut issues

Digestion Trouble? It’s all in your Gut!

There’s a lot to talk about when it comes to your gut.  We’re still learning a lot about how the interaction between the digestive system and the rest of the body works. We know that the intestinal flora can affect your body’s ability to perform several critical functions, such as:

  • Absorbing and producing vitamins and minerals,
  • Regulating hormones,
  • Effective digestion,
  • Responding to the immune system, and
  • Eliminating toxins

For those who already suffer from gastrointestinal or digestion disorders such as IBS, Celiac disease, Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis, SIBO or leaky gut syndrome, the link between gut and mental health becomes more pronounced. Your gastrointestinal (GI) issues can be the root cause of many symptoms throughout your body.

Given how extensive the influence of the gut is, it’s clear that looking after our gut health is one of the most important ways we can look after our overall health. There are many ways to take care of your gut.  There are two factors that influence bowel flora directly: prebiotics and probiotics.

How does the connection between the gut and the body work?

In between the layers of your digestive tract is something called the enteric nervous system (ENS).  This is made up of two thin layers of over 100 million nerve cells lining your GI tract literally from top to bottom.

The ENS sends messages between your gut and your brain. That’s why the gut is often called the “second brain.” As you’ll see from the symptoms listed below, the messages that the second brain sends can be very persuasive!

How can you tell if your gut is imbalanced?

The ideal balance of gut bacteria is about 85% good bacteria to 15% bad bacteria out of about 100 trillion bacteria that naturally live in your gut.

This balance can be upset in the course of daily life by caffeine, processed foods, stress, long-term use of medications and definitely antibiotics. In fact, one course of antibiotics can leave your gut bacteria weaker for up to four years!

As we age, the natural decrease in our stomach acid (which plays an important role in the growth of good bacteria) enables bad bacteria to get stronger.

The main culprit of a bacteria imbalance, though, is overconsumption of sugars. To make an immediate positive impact on your gut, it’s essential to limit simple carbohydrates like sugars found in sodas, desserts, and processed foods like flour products.

There are all kinds of indicators of an imbalanced gastrointestinal system. These can be symptoms like:

  • Bloated, gassy and distended abdomen
  • Extreme bowel movement patterns like diarrhea or constipation (or fluctuation of both)
  • Skin conditions including acne, rashes, psoriasis and eczema flare-ups
  • Constant fatigue despite getting an adequate amount of sleep
  • ‘Down’, depressed or sad emotions, irritability
  • Candida or yeast overgrowth
  • Weight loss due to lack of appetite or cravings causing weight gain due to poorly absorbed nutrients

How can we help our gut communicate best?

You can help heal your gut by providing it with what it needs to keep the necessary balance of good and bad bacteria.  This helps your gut take care of its biggest job – regulating digestion. That way, the gut’s messages to the body and mind are clear, efficient, and healthy.

How? It comes down to maintaining a healthy diet, getting regular exercise and high-quality rest and supporting your gastrointestinal health with both prebiotics and probiotics!

Prebiotics vs Probiotics – What’s the difference?

Probiotics

These are the healthy, “good” bacteria that naturally live in the colon of our digestive systems. When consumed in the right amounts, probiotics can have great benefits to our health overall. Once in the colon, probiotic bacteria multiply, helping to regulate the balance between the good and bad bacteria that live there. You might be familiar with certain kinds of probiotics, as there are a few that have specific health benefits like Lactobacillus acidophilus.  The diversity of gut bacteria is what keeps us healthy.  That’s why it’s important to consume a variety of different strains.

There are some natural food sources for probiotics, largely they are in fermented foods. A few fantastic choices for probiotics are:

  • Kimchi
  • Unpasteurized sauerkraut – natural, made with salt, not vinegar
  • Kefir
  • Yogurt
  • Kombucha
  • Miso
  • Pickles

Prebiotics

Prebiotics are non-digestible carbohydrates that help probiotics grow and remain in your digestive system.  They’re known as “food” for your good bacteria.

Less information has been publicized about where you can find prebiotics, but that could be because you’ve been eating them this whole time! Prebiotics are a non-digestible fibre source that’s plentiful in lots of raw foods:

  • Garlic
  • Leeks
  • Onions (which still contain prebiotics once cooked)
  • Chicory root
  • Dandelion greens
  • Asparagus
  • Jerusalem artichoke
  • Jicama
  • Under-ripe bananas

Taking probiotics alone is a good beginning.  We want to encourage the colonies of bacteria to grow and support a healthy gastrointestinal system.  That’s why it’s important to eat prebiotics also to ensure that the probiotics can multiply and do their work effectively.

Consume a combination of prebiotic and probiotic foods on a daily basis, to help replenish and maintain a healthy digestive system for overall health.

Is a supplement necessary to have enough prebiotics and probiotics?

Getting your nutrition from whole foods is always the preferred route to optimal health, but sometimes you need a little help. In that case, look for:

Prebiotic supplements: Prebiotics are actually really easy to get in a well-balanced diet. Due to the nature of the fibre that they contain, that’s really the best way to get them. If you are looking for a little extra push, try using chicory root as a coffee substitute, or using a powdered acacia gum (gum arabic) in a morning smoothie. Having these kinds of foods in your diet can assure you that your gut bacteria are well-fed and cared for.

Probiotic supplements: You should be looking for a supplement containing CFU (Colony Forming Units) in the billions. The generally recommended dose can vary between 30 to 150 billion CFUs per day, taken in up to four doses. To maintain the diversity of gut bacteria, aim to supplement with different strains of good bacteria.

How long should I take probiotics?

You can safely stay on probiotics indefinitely.  We definitely recommend them if you’re on, or coming off of antibiotics, the birth control pill or radiation treatment.

If you choose to supplement, remember to take it at breakfast when the bacteria have the best chance of surviving the acidic environment of your gut. Whether or not supplementation is a regular part of your supplement regimen remember that taking probiotics after a course of antibiotics is one of the best ways to ensure your full and healthy recovery from the inside out.

Just as we take care of our muscles and our minds by feeding them the things that they need to stay strong and healthy, so too must we take care of our “second brain”.  We need to maintain our gut, by feeding it what it needs to perform in optimal health.

Prebiotics and probiotics are the two primary ways of keeping your digestion healthy, happy, and functioning optimally! Remember, while everyone can take prebiotics and probiotics, from children to pregnant people, to the elderly – everyone is unique.

We would love to help you determine which foods and supplements are best for you and your family. Please book an appointment to ask our naturopathic doctors for their recommendation of both the type and dosage that could be right for you.  We also offer many other options to improve your digestion.

The Importance of B Vitamins

picture of b vitamins

What are B vitamins?

B vitamins are a group of water soluble vitamins that are numbered B1 through B12.  They are: vitamin B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B4 (carnitine), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), vitamin B7 (biotin), vitamin B8 (inositol), vitamin B9 (folic acid), vitamin B10 (PABA), vitamin B11 (salicylic acid) and vitamin B12 (cobalamin).

Mini rant: I commonly hear: “my doctor checked my B vitamin level and it was fine”. The ONLY B vitamin that medical doctors EVER check is vitamin B12 (other than occasionally checking folic acid). Having a normal vitamin B12 level, does not ensure that any of your other B vitamin levels are normal. 

Why are B vitamins important?

B vitamins play an important role in the function of the nervous system, carbohydrate metabolism, neurotransmitter and energy production, among many other functions.  Because they play so many roles in your body, I can’t overemphasize the importance of healthy levels of all of the B vitamins to your overall health.

What do each of the B vitamins do?

  • Vitamin B1 (thiamine): Helps metabolize carbohydrates.  Active B1 (benfotiamine) is particularly important for diabetics.
  • Vitamin B2 (riboflavin): Helps fight free radicals and oxidative stress.
  • Vitamin B3 (niacin): Helps support good cholesterol levels.  It can be low in alcoholics.
  • Vitamin B4 (carnitine): Helps with energy production in mitochondria.
  • Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid): Helps break down fats and carbs for energy, also helps build hormones like testosterone and keeps adrenals healthy
  • Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine): Helps produce neurotransmitters that regulate mood and sleep, keeps adrenals healthy, maintains healthy homocysteine levels, helps with liver detoxification
  • Vitamin B7 (biotin): Helps with hair, skin and nails and helps maintain healthy blood sugar
  • Vitamin B8 (inositol): Helps with healthy blood sugar and insulin sensitivity, used in PCOS to help restore fertility, can reduce anxiety and panic attacks
  • Vitamin B9 (folic acid): Helps prevent DNA damage and maintain healthy DNA, prevents birth defects for babies, must be taken in the active form L-5MTHF
  • Vitamin B10 (PABA): Is actually an amino acid that is part of folic acid, can help with skin conditions, but can also provoke allergic reactions, use with caution
  • Vitamin B11 (salicylic acid): Helps with DNA and RNA synthesis and cell division
  • Vitamin B12 (cobalamin): Helps produce red blood cells

What are the symptoms of B vitamin deficiency?

Deficiency of B vitamins can cause: problems with carbohydrate metabolism, emotional disturbances, impaired sensory perception, weakness and pain in the limbs, periods of irregular heartbeat, and edema (swelling & water retention), heart failure, cheilosis (cracks in the lips), high sensitivity to sunlight, angular cheilitis (cracks at the corners of the mouth), glossitis (inflammation of the tongue), seborrheic dermatitis or pseudo-syphilis (particularly affecting the scrotum or labia majora and the mouth), pharyngitis (sore throat), aggression, dermatitis, insomnia, weakness, mental confusion, diarrhea, acne and paresthesia, microcytic or macrocytic anemia, depression, high blood pressure (hypertension), elevated levels of homocysteine, birth defects, peripheral neuropathy, memory loss and other cognitive deficits, mania, psychosis and paralysis.

 

What Foods Can I Get B Vitamins From?

Food sources for most of the B’s include: pork, dark green leafy vegetables, green pea, lentils, nuts such as almonds and pecans, asparagus, chicken, fish, eggs, turkey, salmon, seafood, mushrooms and broccoli.

Vitamin B12 is found exclusively in animal products like poultry, meat and eggs.

What Should I Look for in a B Complex?

If there was only ONE vitamin people EVER took, to me it should be a very good B complex that contains active forms of vitamin B2 (riboflavin-5-phosphate), B6 (pyridoxal-5-phosphate) and folic acid (L-5MTHF), once or twice per day with food.  The ACTIVE forms of these B vitamins are vital to being able to use them well and their inactive forms (riboflavin, pyridoxine HCl & folic acid) can potentially cause problems.

For more advice about vitamins including B vitamins, see one of our naturopathic doctorsBook an appointment. 

B Vitamin Deficiency Research

In 3 separate studies, thiamine deficiency was found in:
One-third of hospitalized congestive heart failure patients
38% of women with anorexia nervosa
36% of homeless Australian men

Sources: J Am Coll Cardiol. 2006 Jan 17;47(2):354-61., Int J Eat Disord. 2000 Dec;28(4):451-4., Med J Aust. 1990 Jan 1;152(1):5-9.

Twenty-seven percent of patients with heart failure had biochemical evidence of vitamin B-2 deficiency, while 38% had evidence of B-6 deficiency.

Source: J Am Diet Assoc. 2009 Aug;109(8):1406-10

Thirty-two patients (28%) with autoimmune thyroid disease had low B12 levels.

Source: Am J Med Sci. 2006 Sep;332(3):119-22

Migraines: Why Are You Still Suffering?


woman with migraines

Why Do You Get Migraines?

What Causes Migraines?

There are a number of potential causes of migraines:

  1. Excessive histamine
  2. Excessive inflammation
  3. Food allergies, intolerances or sensitivities
  4. Neurotransmitter imbalance
  5. Hormone imbalance

How Do You Know if a Headache is a Migraine?

Migraine symptoms include: nausea and/or vomiting, pain behind one eye, pain in your temples, visual changes like seeing spots or auras, sensitivity to light and/or sound, and/or temporary vision loss [see your MD ASAP if you have this symptom].

How Long Does a Migraine Last?

A typical migraine can last from 4 to 72 hours.

The Natural Treatment Approach to Migraines

  1. Reduce histamine – correct diet, increase vitamin C
  2. Support the adrenal glands – vitamin B5, B6, C, magnesium, zinc, ashwaganda, panax ginseng, rhodiola, schisandra, gotu kola.
  3. Test for and remove IgG and IgA food sensitivities.
  4. Balance neurotransmitters by providing the appropriate precursor vitamins, minerals and amino acids (B6, magnesium, tryptophan, tyrosine).
  5. Balance hormones – correct diet, provide indole-3-carbinol, 5MTHF, P5P, magnesium, B12, and glucarate for liver detoxification.

Histamine

Excessive blood histamine levels may be a factor in migraines. Histamine is a substance released by cells known as mast cells and is also present in certain foods. Histamine from food sources are normally broken down in the gut by an enzyme known as DAO or Diamine Oxidase.  Some people are genetically programmed to make inadequate levels of DAO. Stabilizing mast cells to reduce histamine release, lowering intake of high histamine foods and supplementing DAO enzyme may help histamine related migraines.

Dietary histamine: Avoid citrus fruit, stored, fermented, canned, aged and/or pickled foods.

Antihistamine: Vitamin C acts as a natural antihistamine and supports the adrenal glands and healthy, more stable blood veins and arteries.

Blood tests: tryptase and diamine oxidase (DAO).

Adrenal glands

The adrenal glands are your body’s internal corticosteroid source.  As such, they play a role in moderating inflammation and migraine prevention. Depletion of critical nutrients for adrenal function due to malabsorption, excessive excretion due to stress, or poor diet may lead to altered HPA axis function or corticosteroid production, contributing to migraines. Adrenal supportive nutrients include vitamin B5, B6, C, magnesium, and zinc.  Herbs demonstrated to support the body’s adaptation to stress include Panax ginseng, eleuthrococcus, ashwaganda and licorice root.

Blood tests that may elucidate issues with the adrenals include DHEAs, testosterone, a.m. and p.m. cortisol levels.

Test for and Remove IgG and IgA Mediated Food Sensitivities

The exclusion of IgG mediated food sensitivities has been shown to significantly improve symptoms for sufferers of migraines and IBS. An association between celiac disease (IgA antibodies to gluten) and migraine in adults has also established.

Blood test: IgG and IgA food sensitivity testing

Neurotransmitters and Migraines

Research has also suggested a connection between neurotransmitter levels such as serotonin and migraine.   SSRI type medications are often tried as a solution.  Many of the patients that I see don’t like these medications due to their side effects of weight gain, low libido and feeling emotionally flat. As an alternative to this approach, I recommend vitamin B6 and magnesium as co-factors for the production of serotonin. Magnesium may also help relax muscle tension and calm the nervous system.

Blood test: Spectracell Micronutrient Analysis

Migraines and Hormones

Hormone imbalance can influence susceptibility to migraines. Estrogen dominance in women often precipitates premenstrual migraines.  Supporting liver detoxification of estrogen, including environmental estrogens, helps relieve menstrual migraines.

Blood tests: DHEAs, testosterone, estradiol, LH, FSH, progesterone, prolactin

What other treatments help migraines?

Other effective natural medicine therapies for migraines include: chiropractic treatment, massage therapy, acupuncture and craniosacral therapy.

If you need help with migraines, click here to book an appointment.

References:

  1. Johnston CS, Martin LJ, Cai X. Antihistamine effect of supplemental ascorbic acid and neutrophil chemotaxis. J Am Coll Nutr. 1992 Apr;11(2):172-6.
  2. Alstadhaug KB. Histamine in migraine and brain. Headache. 2014 Feb;54(2):246-59.
  3. Aydinlar EI, Dikmen PY, Tiftikci A, Saruc M, Aksu M, Gunsoy HG, Tozun N. IgG-based elimination diet in migraine plus irritable bowel syndrome. Headache. 2013 Mar;53(3):514-25.
  4. Cristofori F, Fontana C, Magistà A, Capriati T, Indrio F, Castellaneta S, Cavallo L, Francavilla R. Increased prevalence of celiac disease among pediatric patients with irritable bowel syndrome: a 6-year prospective cohort study. JAMA Pediatr. 2014 Jun;168(6):555-60.
  5. Gabrielli M, Cremonini F, Fiore G, Addolorato G, Padalino C, Candelli M, De Leo ME, Santarelli L, Giacovazzo M, Gasbarrini A, Pola P, Gasbarrini A. Association between migraine and Celiac disease: results from a preliminary case-control and therapeutic study. Am J Gastroenterol. 2003 Mar;98(3):625-9.
  6. Woldeamanuel Y, Rapoport A, Cowan R. The place of corticosteroids in migraine attack management: A 65-year systematic review with pooled analysis and critical appraisal. Cephalalgia. 2015 Jan 9.
  7. McMullen MK, Whitehouse JM, Towell A. Bitters: Time for a New Paradigm. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015;2015:670504.
  8. Dakshinamurti S, Dakshinamurti K Antihypertensive and neuroprotective actions of pyridoxine and its derivatives. Can J Physiol Pharmacol. 2015 May 11:1-8.
  9. Mauskop A, Varughese J. Why all migraine patients should be treated with magnesium. J Neural Transm. 2012 May;119(5):575-9.
  10. Patacchioli FR, Monnazzi P, Simeoni S, De Filippis S, Salvatori E, Coloprisco G, Martelletti P. Salivary cortisol, dehydroepiandrosterone-sulphate (DHEA-S) and testosterone in women with chronic migraine. J Headache Pain. 2006 Apr;7(2):90-4. Epub 2006 Mar 31.

 

 

What is Fatty Liver?

picture of a healthy liver without fatty liver disease

Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD)

By Dr. Pamela Frank, BSc(Hons), ND

What is Fatty Liver (NAFLD)?

NAFLD is a condition where there are fat deposits in the liver in someone who is not an alcoholic.  The condition is thought to affect anywhere from 1 in 3 adults in the US and 1 in 10 children.  NAFLD is the leading cause of liver disease in Western countries.

Why is NAFLD a problem?

NAFLD itself is not necessarily serious but it can progress into another condition known as NASH (non-alcoholic steatohepatitis). The fat deposits create inflammation in the liver and over time can damage the liver, leading to scarring, cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer. Severe liver cirrhosis can necessitate a liver transplant.

What are the symptoms of Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease?

You may have NAFLD and have no symptoms, the majority of people with the condition have no symptoms.  Children may have symptoms of abdominal pain and fatigue.  Your doctor may feel enlargement of your liver on physical exam.  

What causes Fatty Liver?

NAFLD is associated with Metabolic Syndrome – a group of symptoms (syndrome) that includes signs and symptoms such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, insulin resistance, diabetes or pre-diabetes and being overweight.

How is NAFLD diagnosed?

A blood test for liver enzymes may be abnormal or not.  A liver ultrasound may show NAFLD.  NASH can only be diagnosed by liver biopsy.

What elses causes it?

Fat accumulation in the liver can also be caused by excess alcohol intake, certain medications, viral hepatitis, autoimmune liver disease, and metabolic or inherited liver disease.

What can be done about fatty liver disease?

In one study, mung bean sprouts that had been germinated for 4 days plus HIIT training improved sugar and fat metabolism, as well as liver function and cellular appearance in rats with NAFLD. Since insulin appears to play a significant role in fatty liver, adopting a low glycemic index, low glycemic load diet that requires less insulin is a good idea.  There are several other naturopathic interventions for fatty liver.

For more help with fatty liver disease, book an appointment now with one of our naturopathic doctors.