Eating Healthy But Can’t Lose Weight? It May Be Insulin Resistance

woman with belly fat that can't lose weight because of insulin resistance
Wondering Why You Can’t Lose Weight?

Stubborn Weight Loss

You eat “right” and exercise, but somehow those stubborn extra pounds just keep coming and they won’t leave. Even worse, they have settled in at your midsection. What is happening to your figure?

It is possible to eat healthy and still struggle with your weight

It is easy to blame weight gain on the hormonal shifts that come with age. But, these changes are not necessarily due to andropause or menopause alone. Instead, insulin resistance could be the root of the problem.

What is Insulin?

Insulin is a hormone that is produced by specialized cells in your pancreas known as beta cells.

What Does Insulin Do?

Let’s look at what insulin does in your body. It helps your body to use sugar from your food by transferring it into your cells for them to use for energy. A healthy insulin level rises after a meal, and goes down once your blood sugar returns to normal. This rise in insulin is proportionate to the amount of carbs and sugar in the meal. This natural fluctuation of insulin is what keeps your blood sugar in a healthy balance.

What is Insulin Resistance?

When your body’s cells can’t respond to insulin properly, they become “insulin resistant”. This means that your blood sugar levels rise higher than they should, even when your pancreas is making a lot of insulin.

How Does Insulin Affect Your Weight?

Excessively high blood sugar and insulin have many harmful effects. They cause damage throughout your body. So your body has a back-up plan to protect itself from high blood sugars; it stores the extra energy by converting it to fat, often around your midsection.

This perpetual fat production is why high blood sugar and insulin levels make it hard to lose weight.

More Than Just a Spare Tire – Insulin’s Many Negative Roles

It’s important to note that insulin plays a role in many body functions. So, insulin resistance can affect other facets of your health in addition to giving you a spare tire. In fact, up to 50 percent of people who are insulin resistant go on to develop life-changing, chronic conditions like diabetes. And, insulin resistance has been linked to the development of several types of cancer, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart disease.

At the hormone level, insulin is an intricate part of many systems in your body. For both men and women, insulin influences the production and performance of your reproductive hormones. For example, high insulin levels can magnify menopausal symptoms. For women who are struggling to manage hot flashes, mood changes, weight or other menopause symptoms, being insulin resistant can make it even harder to regain control of their hormones. For men, insulin lowers testosterone and increases estrogen. Consequently, there can be depression, loss of muscle mass, low libido and many other detrimental effects.

What are the Symptoms of Insulin Resistance?

Despite its widespread effects, insulin resistance can be difficult to diagnose. In fact, many people don’t experience any symptoms until they are diagnosed with pre-diabetes or diabetes. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms below, your best first step should be to talk to your naturopathic doctor or other healthcare provider:

  • Velvety dark patches of skin in your groin, neck, or armpits (a condition called acanthosis nigricans)
  • Abnormal fatigue
  • Cravings for sweet or salty food
  • Increased hunger
  • Excessive thirst
  • Excessive urination
  • High waist-to-hip ratio (if you’re female, measure your waist and hips, then divide the number you measured for your waist by your hip measurement. If the result is higher than 0.8, your ratio is on the higher end. For men, a result greater than 1.0 is concerning.)

How Can You Test for Insulin Resistance?

There are several blood tests that look at your blood sugar level:

  • glycated or glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c)
  • fasting blood sugar
  • random blood sugar
  • 2-hour post-consumption glucose and
  • oral glucose tolerance test

Of these, the best way to measure insulin resistance is by doing an oral glucose tolerance test WITH insulin measurements.

This test involves going to a lab after you have been fasting for 12 hours. There, they will collect a fasting blood test for glucose and insulin. Then, they will give you a sugary drink, with a known amount of glucose in it, often 75-100 grams. After that, blood tests for glucose and insulin are collected at 30 minutes, 60 minutes, 90 minutes, 120 minutes and 180 minutes after drinking this drink. After the drink, it is expected that your blood sugar will rise and then return to normal within 2 hours. An abnormal test would show that either your blood sugar did not return to normal within 2 hours, or that you had to make an excessive amount of insulin in order to get it to return to normal. Most times when this test is done, only the glucose measurements are done. However, this only provides half of the information you need to determine insulin resistance. Our naturopathic doctors can order proper insulin resistance testing for you.

7 Risk Factors For Insulin Resistance

Our bodies need carbohydrates in small to moderate amounts depending on our level of physical activity. However, consuming more carbohydrates than your body needs, contributes to insulin resistance.

Risk factors for insulin resistance include:

  • Being overweight, particularly if you are “apple-shaped” rather than “pear-shaped”
  • High carb and/or sugar diet
  • Genetics. Some people who develop insulin resistance don’t have other risk factors. If you have a family history of high cholesterol, heart disease, or diabetes, you may have inherited genes that mean you need to be even more careful about preventing insulin resistance.
  • Inactivity or sedentary lifestyle
  • Insufficient sleep
  • Medications, including antidepressants and corticosteroids
  • Certain medical conditions, including:

Can you Improve Insulin Resistance Naturally?

The good news is that lifestyle changes can dramatically improve the balance of insulin in your body. They also also have a positive impact on other hormones – particularly the hormones that affect your quality of life at middle age and beyond.

Examine your diet

If you are struggling with balancing insulin and blood sugar, you should aim to eliminate unnecessary carbohydrates from your diet as much as possible. That means no sugar, flour or flour-based products, or sugar sweetened beverages. Try to eliminate or at least limit alcohol as well.

An added bonus of cutting back on sweets and starchy foods is weight loss. Having too much body fat, especially around your middle, contributes to insulin resistance. Of course, this creates a vicious cycle, since as we discussed insulin resistance makes it harder to lose weight. It is important to make healthy, long-term diet changes. One study found that losing just five to seven per cent of your body weight improves insulin resistance.

However, don’t restrict calories too aggressively. You don’t want to stress your body. Stress raises your levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. High cortisol levels wreak havoc on your insulin and blood sugar balance. So, focus on getting your energy from whole foods without starving yourself. Our ND’s and Registered Dietitian are great resources for diet and nutrition advice. They can come up with a weight loss meal plan just for you.

Quit smoking

Let’s add “insulin resistance” to the long list of reasons not to smoke. This is another step that sounds easier than it often turns out to be. If you smoke, you don’t have have to give it up alone. We’re here to help! We have ways and means to make quitting easier. Talk to one of our ND’s or our Psychotherapist for help.

Supplements

Certain supplements can help as well. Making sure that you’re taking the right ones, which are a good fit for you, is best discussed with your naturopathic doctor.

Reduce your stress

This is always easier said than done, but it’s important to keep your cortisol levels balanced. We will work together to find a stress-reduction plan that works for you. Talk to one of our ND’s or our Psychotherapist or book a massage to get your stress level down.

Get enough sleep

Studies show that even one night of bad sleep or less than 4 hours of sleep negatively affects your insulin levels the next day. Aim for 8 hours per night, every night.

Get more exercise

Many studies have linked physical activity with improved insulin levels. There’s no need to feel overwhelmed though, even moderate levels of daily activity can help. The key is avoid long periods of being extremely sedentary.

In fact, especially for middle-aged women, workouts that are too intense raises your cortisol levels. This, in turn, raises insulin your levels, which will be counterproductive. So, getting creative with your exercise becomes more important as you get older. In addition to increasing moderate exercise, aim to increase your other daily movements. For example, park a bit further away, do the dishes by hand at the end of the evening, or even just stretch for a few minutes at home. Even little bits of activity can add up.

Best Exercise for People Over 50

Three of the best exercises for people over the age of 50 are:

  • Long walks outside. Being outside lowers cortisol. Walking is a gentle exercise that almost anyone can safely do. Walking for one to two hours per day helps to burn an additional 200-300 calories per hour.
  • Restorative yoga. This helps to restore your body, maintains your flexibility, balance and strength.
  • Weight training. Weight lifting helps to maintain your muscle mass and bone density, helps you burn more calories even while you sleep and maintains a healthy level of growth hormone in your body.

As you can see from the information above, our bodies and our health are very intricate. When something goes amiss in one area, the effects are felt in many other areas. This dynamic is particularly true when it comes to middle-age, insulin and hormones. Even if you don’t have any obvious symptoms of insulin resistance, addressing your insulin levels is one of the best overall wellness and disease prevention measures you can take.

If you are wondering about your insulin levels, how your blood sugar is behaving, your hormones, insulin resistance and what it may be doing to your weight loss efforts, call us at 416-481-0222 or book an appointment online any time here.

By Dr Pamela Frank, BSc(Hons), ND

Sources:

https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/what-is-diabetes/prediabetes-insulin-resistance#resistance

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2551669/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20371664

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2895000/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3501863/

What Does Your Poo Say About You?

Healthy poop chart

Your Poop and Your Health

Let’s chat about your poop, feces, poo, excrement or bowel movements.

Did you just cringe a bit? Let’s face it, poop isn’t anybody’s favourite topic. Nonetheless, our bowel movements hold valuable clues to our overall health. But these signs are often ignored because most of us are a bit uncomfortable talking about them – even to our healthcare providers. Or, our concerns about stool quality are glossed over or brushed off.

Your Appointment With Us is a Judgement-Free Zone

Keep in mind that your naturopathic doctor cares about such things as the quality of your stool. We will not be shocked or uncomfortable if you talk about your poop. In fact, that’s part of our job! We really want to get to the bottom of your health issues (no pun intended). Sometimes that means talking about things that fall under the category of “too much information”. We need to know all of your symptoms, even things that may seem unrelated or unimportant, in order to put your health puzzle together. So, if you have a concern, no matter what it relates to, please don’t hesitate to bring it up.

Your Poop is a Reflection of Your Health

The appearance and smell of your poop is a direct reflection of your gut health. Your gut health has a massive impact on your overall health. As well as helping you absorb all of your nutrients, your digestive system interacts with your nervous system and your detoxification pathways. Changes in your bowel habits can indicate changes in other parts of your body – from excessive nervous system stress, to liver problems, to cancers.

The good news is that we don’t have to go into great detail here describing the various types of bowel movements and what they signify. There’s already a chart that shows various problems and what to look for. It is called the Bristol Stool Chart and you’ll find it here: http://cdn.intechopen.com/pdfs-wm/46082.pdf. It was named after the hospital that developed it in 1997.

The Healthy Poop Chart

The Bristol Stool Chart looks at:

  • Your ease of passing stool – it should be fairly easy
  • The smell – sure there will be a smell to it, it is waste after all, but it shouldn’t be particularly foul smelling.
  • The consistency of your stool – the stool should be solid and uniform in texture without bits of undigested stool in it
  • The colour – the colour should be a medium or chocolate brown. Green poop can be from something you have eaten or can be because your stool is passing through your gut too quickly for intestinal bacteria to break down bile. This is what creates the normal stool colour.
  • How often you have a bowel movement – anything from one to three times per day, every day is considered to be normal
  • How completely you empty your bowels – bowel movements should feel complete.
  • And any additional red flags – red flags include blood in your stool, mucous in your stool, chronic constipation or diarrhea and chronic undigested food.

What The Bristol Stool Chart Means for You

To summarize the Bristol Stool Chart, you should have a daily bowel movement that is well-formed, medium brown in colour and not too smelly. If you see blood or mucus, or if you feel that anything about your stool doesn’t seem ideal, you should talk to your naturopathic doctor. We can address or rule out any issues that require medical help. The chart can help identify mild constipation, severe constipation, normal stools and inflammation in your gut.

Talk About Embarrassing!

Two of the more common but embarrassing issues related to bowels are fecal incontinence and itchy anus (or anusitis).

Fecal Incontinence

Fecal incontinence is where stool leaks from your rectum between bowel movements. You may notice staining of your underwear. It may happen when you pass gas or unpredictably. Incontinence may be associated with a bout of diarrhea, or may be accompanied by constipation or excessive gas. The causes of fecal incontinence include:

  • Muscle damage
  • Nerve damage
  • Complications of surgery or childbirth
  • Diarrhea
  • Inflammation in your bowels

Our naturopathic doctors can help identify the cause and help improve your digestion, the tone of your GI tract and remove sources of inflammation.

Itchy Anus, Anusitis or Proctitis

Anusitis is inflammation of the lining of the anal canal. Proctitis is inflammation of the skin of the rectum. Rectal itching (pruritis) is a sign of inflammation or infection. You may also notice bleeding or a burning sensation. Our naturopathic doctors can help identify the cause of the itching. We can help relieve itching, remove infections and identify food sensitivities that cause itching. Here’s why you shouldn’t ignore rectal itching: chronic inflammation can lead to bigger health issues like rectal cancer.

7 Simple Steps to Improve Your Poop

If you’ve ruled out a medical condition, but still feel that things are not moving quite like they should be, here are a few ways to improve your bowel movements.

Pay attention to your diet

Fiber keeps things moving by adding some bulk to your stool. For extra fiber, think seeds, beans, fresh fruit and vegetables. If you’re not used to a high-fiber diet, increase your fiber intake slowly to avoid upsetting your stomach or creating too much gas. Always make sure to up your water intake alongside extra fiber. In addition, make sure you’re eating enough healthy fats from sources such as avocados, nuts, and olive oil. If food is moving through too quickly, causing loose stool or diarrhea, good fats help to slow digestion down a bit. This gives food more time to digest fully.

Pay close attention to how particular foods affect your digestion. If you experience IBS symptoms like diarrhea or constipation, try keeping a diary of what you eat, and the symptoms you experience. We can help you set up an effective tracking system to monitor your diet. Alternatively, our naturopathic doctors can order food sensitivity testing for you to efficiently pinpoint which foods are causing trouble.

Choose medication carefully

Many medications can cause constipation as a side effect. It is important to be aware of this and adjust your diet accordingly to compensate for this effect. Avoid laxative medications as much as possible. Your body quickly becomes dependent on them. Some evidence also links the chronic use of laxatives to colorectal cancer. Talk with your naturopathic doctor about natural solutions for medication-induced constipation if diet alone isn’t enough.

Drink lots of water

Aim for the proverbial eight cups of water per day. It’s particularly important to get enough water if you have recently increased your fiber intake. Not only are our stools 75 percent water, but your bowel muscles need plenty of hydration to work their best. Water in your stool also keeps it softer and easier to pass. I have seen patients where even one or two more glasses of water per day made a difference in regularity.

Increase your body movement

Exercise stimulates your digestion. Studies suggest that digestion is better if you exercise regularly and, if possible, at the same time each day.

In fact, sitting for too long overall can lead to constipation regardless of your physical activity level. This is another reason to stand up and walk around every 30 minutes or so throughout your work day. How you move your body also matters. Did you know that some yoga poses are designed to help with digestion?

Get into a routine and don’t suppress the urge to go

If you feel like you’ve gotta go, don’t ignore that feeling! Fighting the urge to poop can lead to constipation. Setting aside a specific time of the day can help you stay regular. Good digestion requires good parasympathetic nervous system activity. This is the part of your nervous system that helps you rest, digest, relax and sleep. If you’re always stressed out or on the go, your nervous system will be in sympathetic or fight or flight mode. That works against good digestion.

Squat to poop

As well, consider the way you sit on the toilet. Over the course of history, toilets themselves are a pretty recent invention. In nature, we would have squatted to have a bowel movement. Many people find that bringing their feet up onto a stool can help bring them into a squatting position which makes bowel movements easier. Check out the Squatty potty for more info on aids for better positioning.

Talk openly

Don’t hesitate to come into the office and have an open talk if you have any concerns or questions about your bowel movements. Your stool can be a good indicator that your body has something going on that needs attention. It’s always better to bring up a concern than to ignore it or worry about it! Call us at 416-481-0222 or book an appointment online to speak to one of our ND’s.

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

Sources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25223576

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/may/18/truth-about-poo-doing-it-wrong-giulia-enders-squatting

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15043514

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK430892/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30880096

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30880096

Candida or Yeast Overgrowth

Candida or Yeast Overgrowth Can Make You Really Tired

How to Get Rid of Candida Naturally

Do you have a white coating on your tongue? Circular skin rashes with a white centre? Bloating? Constipation? Vaginal irritation? You’re always craving sweets? You could be suffering from a yeast overgrowth.

What is Candida Albicans?

Candida albicans is the most common kind of yeast that co-exists with humans. It is normally harmless to people when it is present in small amounts. There are many other strains of yeast that can inhabit your gut. There are almost 200 known Candida species, although few of them are a threat to humans. The most important species are C. albicansC. dubliniensisC. tropicalisC. Parapsilosis, C. glabrataC. kruseiC. guilliermondii, and C. Lusitaniae. Other medically important species of fungi include Histoplasma capsulatum, Cryptococcus neoformans and Aspergillus fumigatus.

However, as anyone who’s ever baked bread knows, yeast likes to grow. It is a fungus, after all. Candida is considered to be an “opportunistic pathogen”. This means that if it gets the opportunity to cause disease, it can. Under normal conditions in your gut, your healthy gut bacteria keeps intestinal yeast growth in check. This maintains a balance between bacteria and yeast.

The fragile balance between your gut bacteria and yeast

This delicate balance is, however, easily upset. For example, we can lose beneficial bacteria from taking even one round of antibiotics. We can encourage yeast growth by bingeing on sugar and refined carbs. Estrogen dominance, birth control pills and stress all allow yeast to multiply. The result? Yeast overgrowth.

Is gut Candida overgrowth the same as a yeast infection?

Most people are familiar with a couple of the different kinds of local yeast infections.

Thrush

A Candida yeast infection in your mouth is called oral thrush.

Symptoms of oral thrush include:

  • white, bumpy patches in your mouth
  • a white coating on your tongue
  • if you try to scrape the white coating off your tongue, there are pinpoint bleeding spots
  • cracks at the corners of your mouth
  • difficulty swallowing

Vaginal Yeast Infections

The symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection include:

  • vaginal redness
  • vaginal swelling
  • itchiness of the vagina and surrounding area
  • an unpleasant white, chunky discharge

These reactions are typically immediately noticeable – and very annoying.

In contrast, a gut Candida overgrowth can be much more subtle and difficult to determine. Candida overgrowth’s impact may be more troublesome and even life-threatening. When your good gut bacteria decreases and yeast multiplies, the overall effect on your body can be far-reaching.

How does Candida overgrowth work?

Disease-causing yeasts have properties that allow them to overcome your defenses. These include the ability to stick to the gut wall and invade tissues. Also, certain strains of yeast have developed escape mechanisms, to avoid being eliminated by your immune system.

When Candida grows unchecked, it attaches to and sends roots through the lining of your intestine. This creates “leaky gut” syndrome where the barrier of your intestinal wall is weak. As the name suggests, leaky gut syndrome allows undigested food, bacteria, and toxins to “leak” from your intestine into your system.

When your immune system is faced with undigested food, bacteria and toxins, it sees them as unknown invaders. That causes it to kick into overdrive trying to neutralize these things it doesn’t recognize, things that it perceives as a potential threat. This immune system hyper-activation leads to a number of symptoms ranging from inflammation to autoimmune diseases.

Candida overgrowth is often overlooked or misdiagnosed because the symptoms vary so widely. It is also not something that conventional doctors would ever test you for. If you’re experiencing autoimmune symptoms, having a foggy brain, or dealing with digestive issues, it’s possible that a gut Candida overgrowth could be the underlying problem.

Who is most at risk for Candida overgrowth?

Certain populations are more susceptible to yeast overgrowth. These include premature infants, elderly, pregnant or menopausal women, diabetics, alcoholics, and anyone taking immunsuppressants or antibiotics.

What are the symptoms of Candida overgrowth?

So how would you know if you have a Candida overgrowth? Here are the signs and symptoms:

  1. Despite your best intentions, you have strong cravings for sugar and carbohydrates. Candida wants to keep eating and multiplying, so a taste of sugar will leave you wanting more!
  2. You feel itchy all over, especially, and certainly embarrassingly, in your anal or vaginal areas.
  3. Fungal infections. You suffer from athlete’s foot, toenail fungus or other unexplained itchy foot rashes.
  4. Irritable bowel syndrome. Your digestion feels out of whack. You experience a lot of gassiness, constipation, diarrhea and bloating.
  5. You experience mood swings and frustration for no obvious reason. Or you frequently feel anxious or depressed, even though you are doing your best to look after your emotional well-being. Did you know that depression is considered by some to be an inflammatory condition of the brain? Candida overgrowth may be the stimulous for that inflammation.
  6. Unexplained joint pain that makes it hard to keep up with your exercise routine. Sadly, that lack of exercise is only worsening your other symptoms. You want to work out and you know that you should, but it’s painful.
  7. Fatigue. If other causes of fatigue like hypothyroidism, iron deficiency and allergies have been ruled out, yeast overgrowth may be the issue. Particularly if there are other symptoms pointing to a yeast problem.
  8. Allergies. Studies show that animals whose guts are colonized with yeast develop allergic reactions.

Diagnostic testing for gut bacteria and yeast

Boxed Candida cleanse “kits” may be popular, but in reality overcoming Candida overgrowth and restoring a healthy balance of yeast and gut bacteria can be very challenging. Our naturopathic doctors can work with you to develop a program that’s tailored specifically for you. We start with a complete analysis, stool testing if necessary and then create a customized treatment plan. Stool analysis determines what exactly is growing in your gut, how much and how best to get rid of what shouldn’t be growing in there.

Once we have an accurate picture of what’s really going on in your system, we can work on a plan to restore health and balance.

Our holistic approach to managing Candida

There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Our holistic approach means taking an in-depth look at various aspects of your lifestyle.

Specialized Candida diet

In general, the first step of Candida treatment consists of dietary changes. You knew that was coming, right? Together we can work on a diet plan that works for you to starve out the yeast.

Dietary changes should be realistic and manageable for you over the long term. After all, we want to create a sustainable solution, not a quick fix that may be too difficult to stick with.

Say goodbye to sugary sweets

To get Candida under control, patients have the greatest success by limiting all processed sweets from their diet. We also recommend cutting back on starchy carbohydrates. Low-sugar fruits such as berries are the best options for a sweet treat.

Alcohol

Eliminating all fermented, yeasty or moldy foods and drinks, including alcohol, will help control yeast symptoms. This includes well-known fermented foods such as sauerkraut and kombucha. It also includes the less-obvious ones, like soy sauce or peanuts. If your immune system is sensitized to yeast, it will also react to these food sources of yeast, mold and yeast metabolites.

Add extra fibre

Adding more fibre to your diet and drinking lots of water (2-3 litres per day) improves your intestinal “transit time”. This means that things move through your gut more quickly, so that nothing lingers too long in your system.

Carbs in moderation

It’s important to note that carbohydrates aren’t necessarily completely forbidden on a Candida diet. Although processed flour can contribute to to a Candida overgrowth and slower transit time, whole food carbohydrates such as rye or quinoa can add good fiber and minerals to your system. We can work together to look at your carb consumption and make any necessary adjustments.

The steps above can slow the growth of Candida which may improve some of your symptoms, but as always tackling one side of the issue isn’t enough. You also want to increase the number of good bacteria in your gut. An effective way to do this is by consuming more probiotics or “healthy bacteria”. A high quality supplement of the right kind of probiotic for you is usually recommended, as they are able to rapidly populate the gut and restore balance.

Foods that kill Candida

Research has found that many substances aid in the killing off of stubborn overgrowth. Studies have found turmeric to be effective as well as coconut oil, some essential oils and much more. In order to determine the right solution for your body, help from your naturopathic doctor is recommended. We can talk about the best treatment plan to eradicate this overgrowth and eliminate the problems Candida overgrowth can cause in your system.

The effect of stress on Candida

In addition to dietary changes, reducing your stress levels can help. When we’re stressed, our bodies produce more of the stress hormone cortisol, which over time will increase blood sugar.

Since Candida feeds off sugar, stress can make us more vulnerable to Candida overgrowth. It’s not always easy to lower stress levels – life often gets in the way. However, we can change the way we react to stress through science-backed stress reduction techniques such as meditation and yoga.

Candida overgrowth is one of the more common reasons people seek holistic care. The good news is that we are experts in treating digestive issues.

If you suspect that you may be experiencing an overgrowth of Candida, give us a call at 416-481-0222 or book an appointment online any time here.

Together we can make an effective plan to get your health back on track.

https://www.cdc.gov/fungal/diseases/candidiasis/index.html

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26709650

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17083732

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26723514

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17651080

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28184328

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2803610/

Acne Treatment

woman with acne squeezing her pimples

Many of us are disappointed to learn that we didn’t leave acne behind after high school. Yes, it is a cruel joke, but it is possible to have pimples and wrinkles at the same time. In fact, 54 percent of women over the age of 25 experience some acne. And the numbers are expected to increase. Some skin care experts call the increase in acne outbreaks in adults “an epidemic.”

Why is there an increase in adult acne?

We tend to associate acne with the angst-ridden teenage years. In actuality, many of the factors that contribute to acne in your teens are still present later in your life too. In particular, stress and hormonal fluctuations wreak havoc on your skin. Many of us do continue to experience that nasty combination of hormonal changes and lifestyle stress.

Stress and acne: a vicious cycle

The relationship between stress and pimples becomes a vicious cycle. When we feel stressed, our adrenal glands respond by producing more of the stress hormone cortisol. They also make small amounts of testosterone. These cause the oil glands in your skin to produce more oil or sebum. This raises your risk of skin infections and pimples. Of course then, when we notice outbreaks appearing, we feel more stressed. Add to that the fact that many of us can’t resist the temptation to pick at pimples. This spreads the bacteria on your skin. Voila! You have the perfect formula for ongoing acne outbreaks.

The emotional and financial burden of adult acne

Finding acne solutions can feel like a quest for the impossible. Consider this: Acne costs Americans an astonishing $15 billion a year in acne-related products and services. Ironically, we are surrounded by skin care product marketing that promises to clear up skin problems. These all claim to provide you with a flawless, youthful glow. But, many of these products actually worsen inflammation.

It all adds up to frustration for you, the consumer. It’s no wonder that 95 percent of people with acne say that the skin condition negatively affects their lives. 63 percent of acne sufferers cite lower self-confidence due to acne as a major issue.

How to treat adult acne

Since hormones are the root cause of acne, the simple truth is that treatment has to start from within. There is no “magic bullet” skin product. It is best to start with a bit of self-examination. For example, try tracking outbreaks to see if they coincide with your menstrual cycle. See if outbreaks occur along with other symptoms, with eating specific foods, or with stressful periods in your life.

Reduce stress

Think of ways you can reduce the stressors around you. Yoga and meditation are proven methods to reduce stress. Ayurvedic tradition holds that many yoga poses help with acne.

In addition, don’t forget one of the most essential parts of stress management: getting enough sleep! To prevent rubbing your face in bacteria while you sleep, change your pillow cases regularly.

How Diet Affects Your Skin

Much research remains to be done on the impact of diet on acne. But we know that the quality of the food we eat is reflected in our overall health as well as on our skin. Ultimately, you are the best test subject for which foods affect your complexion. People react differently to various foods. Even healthy foods may trigger a reaction for you. Keep a food diary and review it with your naturopathic doctor or dietitian.

A sensible approach is to eat a healthy, whole-foods diet rich in vegetables, legumes, fruit, nuts and seeds, unprocessed grains and healthy protein. Opt for antioxidant-rich foods whenever possible like berries, good dark chocolate and spices like cinnamon. Antioxidants reduce inflammation and destroy harmful free radicals.

Acne Supplements

In addition, research proves that the following nutrients have a positive effect on the health of your skin:

Zinc

The anti-inflammatory properties of zinc relieves the irritation of acne. Studies show that taking a zinc supplement reduces acne scars. Zinc is also used topically, but it isn’t as effective as taking it orally. From your diet, zinc-rich foods include beef and shellfish, especially oysters, and vegetarian sources like hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, beans, nuts, and whole grains.

Omega-3 Fats

Not only do these healthy fats soothe your skin thanks to their anti-inflammatory properties, but they also help regulate hormones. Omega-3’s are found in nuts, flax, hemp seeds, and many types of fish. The Omega 3s in fish are much easier for your body to use compared to the ones in nuts and seeds. Fatty, cold-water fish like salmon, mackerel, herring and sardines are excellent sources of Omega 3’s. Supplements containing fish oil or vegan Omega 3’s are also an excellent way to benefit from the acne-fighting powers of Omega-3. Even though they are healthy fats, Omega 3’s will sometimes make acne worse. Fats, even healthy ones, can interfere with insulin function. That increases insulin which throws off hormone balance. If you find that adding fats or fish oil makes your skin worse, by all means listen to your body and reduce them.

High fiber foods

Eating food with lots of fiber controls your blood sugar. It does so by slowing down sugar absorption and keeping you feeling full longer. This curbs acne breakouts because healthy blood sugar levels influence hormone production. Aim for plenty of fibrous green veggies with each meal like kale and broccoli!

Stay Hydrated

You may have noticed that your skin loses some luster when you’re dehydrated. It is important to drink plenty of water to keep your skin cells healthy and nourished.

Green Tea

In addition to water, don’t hesitate to pour yourself a cup of green tea. Studies show green tea can decrease oil or sebum production. Plus, this delicious beverage is high in antioxidants! Green tea also has some estrogen balancing properties.

Topical antibiotics for acne

The bacteria that causes acne, Propionibacterium acnes, is becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics. As a result, focusing on acne treatment that addresses the reason that this bacteria overgrows is more important than ever.

Topical acne treatments that work

A more natural approach to moisturizing and nourishing your skin may be helpful. Many people react to the chemicals, perfumes and preservatives in skin creams. This creates more redness and inflammation. Natural oils such as Rosehips oil helps acne-prone skin. It contains a high concentration of vitamin A, omegas and lycopene. These heal and regenerate your skin. They encourage healthy cell growth and dramatically reduce scarring. Rosehips oil will be kinder to your skin than the very drying benzoyl peroxide.

Talk to your naturopathic doctor for guidance if you are having difficulty finding the right skincare solution. A number of effective natural acne remedies are available. We can help you find a solution that is right for your particular skin type.

Adult Hormonal Acne

Treating adult acne at the root cause helps you deal with this frustrating problem in a more permanent way. The more persistent cases we’ve seen usually come down to a hormonal imbalance. Whether you are in your 20’s or firmly in perimenopause, working with our Naturopaths helps you examine your full hormonal profile. Then we will find the right plan to bring your hormones, and your skin, back in balance.

If you have done what you can and are ready for professional analysis and guidance on skin-friendly treatments, come into the clinic! Together we can thoroughly measure your hormones, and look at your diet, vitamin and mineral levels, coping mechanisms, and other possible contributors. Adult acne can be treated naturally without harsh drugs or chemicals.

By Dr Pamela Frank, BSc(Hons), ND

Call the clinic at 416-481-0222 or book online here.

Sources

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5384166/

http://jddonline.com/articles/dermatology/S1545961614P0692X#close

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/308187676_The_Psychosocial_Impact_of_Acne_Vulgaris

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4884775/

http://time.com/5014072/stress-pimples-acne/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5029236/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27529209

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, diarrheaFructose 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

Want a free one-week Intermittent Fasting Meal Plan?

Simply fill in your details here and we’ll email you a link to ours:


Please select all the ways you would like to hear from Forces of Nature Wellness Clinic:

You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of our emails.

We use MailChimp as our marketing platform. By clicking below to subscribe, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to MailChimp for processing. Learn more about MailChimp’s privacy practices here.

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

Organic Food: Is it Worth It?

organic food

Should You Buy Organic Food?

How would you describe “organic food” in three words or less? Good for you? Expensive? Neither of these is a wrong answer.

You may often hear in vague terms about how organic food is good for you and good for the environment. But, if you walk into any grocery store you’ll see how organic food is priced significantly higher than conventional produce. Sometimes nearly double! Why is that? Although we want to do the right thing for our bodies and our planet, are the premium prices really worth it?

Unlike conventional farming, which uses synthetic fertilizers to boost crops with chemicals, organic foods are fertilized by organic matter. The difference is that compost and animal manure slowly nourish the soil. These organic fertilizers release their nutrients gradually over time, provide a wider range of minerals and in their naturally-occurring proportions. This slow and steady approach is much better for the soil, building it up rather than depleting its nutrients. Organic crops are also not sprayed with toxic pesticides and herbicides. Because of the lack of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, an organic crop will yield approximately 20% less produce than its non-organic counterpart.

Is Organic Food Worth It?

So what’s a healthy and eco-conscious consumer to do? Do you buy into the hype without really knowing if organic is better? Is the difference truly worth the extra cost?

According to a new study in Nature Plants, yes, it’s worth it!

Organic agriculture has been proven to be beneficial and sustainable in numerous key areas, including its ability to:

    1. Benefit soil quality and the environment,
    1. Provide economically viable jobs for farmers,
    1. Support social well-being with meaningful interactions between farmers and consumers.

These are all great reasons to make a difference with your dollars by supporting the organic food movement. But chances are that you’re still wondering….

How does organic food actually benefit me?

Organic food has more vitamins and minerals

Without the use of pesticides, organic fruits and vegetables must fend for themselves. They naturally fight off insects by producing more of their own antioxidants. Did you know that organic broccoli produces more vitamin C than conventional broccoli as a natural pesticide? Studies show that organic foods contain 18 – 69% more antioxidants than conventionally grown crops. This means that organic eaters consume nearly twice as many cancer-fighting, age-reversing, immune-boosting antioxidants every day!

In addition to those awesome antioxidants, one study also shows that organic foods have higher levels of iron, phosphorus, and magnesium than conventionally raised crops.

Meanwhile, remember those synthetic fertilizers we mentioned earlier? Well, they spur plant growth via high levels of nitrogen. The downside to this is that it causes conventionally grown crops to have higher levels of sugars and starches as opposed to the protective antioxidants found in organic foods.

So, which would you rather be eating – high antioxidants or high starch and sugar?

Organic food is less toxic than conventionally grown crops

It’s something we all assume when we think of “organic,” but it’s good to know that there is scientific proof backing that assumption. A meta-analysis of 343 peer-reviewed studies conducted by the British Journal of Nutrition found that conventional crops have higher levels of the toxic, heavy metal cadmium as well as more pesticide residues.

Researchers have also found an increased cancer risk in children near California strawberry farms that use pesticides. And in recent news, the large agricultural corporation Monsanto, which manufactures glyphosate herbicides, just lost a lawsuit with a cancer patient – Dewayne Johnson. Mr. Johnson had regularly applied glyphosate weed killer on the school lawns that he maintained. The company now owes him 289 million dollars after internal company documents proved that Monsanto has known for decades that glyphosate could cause cancer. If the name glyphosate sounds familiar, it’s because there is speculation that people suffering from gluten intolerance, are in fact reacting to the glyphosate sprayed on gluten-containing crops. Stephanie Seneff is a senior research scientist at MIT. The following is an abstract from a paper co-authored by Dr. Seneff:

Celiac disease, and, more generally, gluten intolerance, is a growing problem worldwide, but especially in North America and Europe, where an estimated 5% of the population now suffers from it. Symptoms include nausea, diarrhea, skin rashes, macrocytic anemia and depression. It is a multi-factorial disease associated with numerous nutritional deficiencies as well as reproductive issues and increased risk for thyroid disease, kidney failure and cancer. Here, we propose that glyphosate is the most important causal factor in this epidemic. Fish exposed to glyphosate develop digestive problems that are reminiscent of celiac disease. Celiac disease is associated with imbalances in gut bacteria that can be fully explained by the known effects of glyphosate on gut bacteria. Characteristics of celiac disease point to impairment in many cytochrome P450 enzymes, which are involved with detoxifying environmental toxins, activating vitamin D3, catabolizing vitamin A, and maintaining bile acid production and sulfate supplies to the gut. Glyphosate is known to inhibit cytochrome P450 enzymes. Deficiencies in iron, cobalt, molybdenum, copper and other rare metals associated with celiac disease can be attributed to glyphosate’s strong ability to chelate these elements. Deficiencies in tryptophan, tyrosine, methionine and selenomethionine associated with Celiac disease match glyphosate’s known depletion of these amino acids. Celiac disease patients have an increased risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which has also been implicated in glyphosate exposure. Reproductive issues that are associated with Celiac disease, such as infertility, miscarriages, and birth defects, can also be explained by glyphosate. Glyphosate residues in wheat and other crops are likely increasing recently due to the growing practice of crop desiccation just prior to the harvest. We argue that the practice of “ripening” sugar cane with glyphosate may explain the recent surge in kidney failure among agricultural workers in Central America.

To learn more about which crops you should always buy organic based on pesticide levels, there is a great resource created annually by the Environmental Working Group or EWG. They are a nonprofit organization that advocates for policies that protect global and individual health. The EWG’s “Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce” ranks the pesticides levels in 47 different fruits and vegetables. Their annual list of the Dirty Dozen contains the 12 most heavily contaminated types of produce. These are fruits and vegetables that you should either abstain from eating or only consume if they are organic. Talk about leaving a bad taste in your mouth! Speaking of which…

Organic food tastes better!

At some point in your life, you’ve likely compared strawberries from the grocer to those fresh from the garden or picked in the wild. Even without considering that toxic tidbit above, which would you honestly say tasted better? Odds are it was the berry from the garden.

When plants are grown without pesticides, their flavour is naturally improved. The higher antioxidant levels found in organic foods also impacts how we detect flavour through organoleptic qualities such as taste, aroma, and mouth-feel. Plus, organic foods carry the distinct flavours of a region’s soil, which further enhances their natural taste. Organic berries just plain taste sweeter!

When we look at the long-term effect of toxins in our system, we see an increase in autoimmune disease, hormonal imbalances, and nutrient deficiencies that lead to more significant health issues. In Naturopathic Medicine we seek to remove the factors preventing the body from healing itself, in other words, remove the obstacles to cure. In most cases that includes avoiding toxic intake, while also enhancing the body’s own ability to eliminate toxins. The more we know about how pesticides and other chemicals harm us, the more we can stay away from things that are not serving our longevity, our health and the health of our families.

They say you get what you pay for, and that statement holds true with organic foods. Buying organic might cost a bit more, but consider it an investment in improved health, greater flavour, and a more sustainable environment.

Maybe you can’t afford to buy all organic all the time – most people can’t. But that doesn’t mean it needs to be all or nothing. Throw a few organic items into your cart now and then, or better still, make friends with the farmers at your local market. As with anything in life, small actions add up to make a real difference.

So our conclusion is an enthusiastic “yes, organic food is worth it!”

If you have any other questions about nutrition, natural ways to improve your health, how to detoxify from environmental pollutants or anything else, please feel free to contact our Naturopathic Doctors or our Registered Dietitian. We would be happy to help. Just give us a call at 416-481-0222 or email Info@ForcesofNature.ca. We would love to hear from you.

Authored by Dr Pamela Frank, BSc(Hons), ND for The Team at Forces of Nature

References:
https://www.nature.com/articles/nplants2015221
https://news.wsu.edu/2014/07/11/major-study-documents-benefits-of-organic-farming/#.U8AkH41dXA3
https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/107555301750164244
https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/dirty-dozen.php
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3945755/

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:

1Lose Weight / Healthier Eating21.4%
2Life / Self Improvements12.3%
3Better Financial Decisions8.5%
4Quit Smoking7.1%
5Do more exciting things6.3%
6Spend More Time with Family / Close Friends6.2%
7Work out more often5.5%
8Learn something new on my own5.3%
9Do more good deeds for others5.2%
10Find the love of my life4.3

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.