An Exciting New Approach for PCOS Sufferers

picture of a woman with PCOS or polycystic ovarian syndrome trying to eat right for PCOS
How to Manage PCOS

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) impacts many aspects of a woman’s health. This disease affects her moods, her weight, and her fertility, among many other things. This surprisingly common condition is difficult to diagnose and treat. That’s in part because conventional medicine practices are often geared towards tackling the symptoms without truly getting to the underlying reasons for those symptoms. Natural treatments for PCOS address this frustrating condition from all angles. We address the whole system with a special focus on fixing the root cause.

What Is PCOS?

Simply put, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is a hormonal problem that affects women during their reproductive years. It’s marked by irregular ovulation. Many, but not all women, also experience higher than normal levels of the “male” hormones or androgens such as testosterone. The name refers to changes that occur in the ovaries when eggs don’t develop properly and get released. Your ovaries become filled with small cysts as a result of these hormonal imbalances.

Because PCOS is difficult to diagnose it’s a bit uncertain how common it is. Estimates say that about 5 to 10 percent of women experience it during their reproductive years.

The Symptoms of PCOS

The symptoms of PCOS often start to appear slowly and worsen over time. These changes are often easy to dismiss as normal. They may be common, but they are far from normal.

If you experience the following symptoms, it is time to talk to a naturopathic doctor:

Irregular Periods

Some women with PCOS cease to menstruate at all. Others get a period every 5-8 weeks. Some will develop very heavy and/or painful periods.

Infertility or Difficulty Conceiving

Cystic ovaries, as well as the accompanying hormonal imbalances, make conception difficult. The cysts indicate irregular ovulation. The conditions are clearly not ideal to release a good quality egg. This leads to the need for extra interventions to get and stay pregnant. Correcting the hormone imbalances that cause PCOS allows eggs to mature and get released normally, improving fertility.

Weight Gain

Are you gaining weight without any particular change in your diet or lifestyle, especially around your belly? Women with PCOS often develop an “apple” shape in which their body fat collects in their torso area. Thyroid problems also trigger weight gain and irregular periods. It’s important to have thorough hormone and thyroid testing done to identify the cause of unexplained weight gain.

Acne

Male hormones contribute to facial and back acne. They are particularly associated with deep, painful cystic-type acne along your jawline. Other skin conditions such as dark patches of skin (acanthosis nigricans) and skin tags also often go hand-in-hand with PCOS.

Hirsutism

Hirsutism means the presence of extra hair on your face and body. You may particularly notice it on your upper lip, chest, and back as a result of hormonal imbalances.

Hair Loss

Women with PCOS endure not only excess hair in undesirable locations, but also loss of hair, thinning hair, or lack of hair growth on their heads.

Mood Changes

The changes in hormones that accompany PCOS bring on an increased risk of depression and anxiety. Hormones regulate how well your neurotransmitter receptors in your brain work. The neurotransmitter receptors that take up your feel-good neurotransmitter, serotonin, and your calm and relaxed neurotransmitter, GABA, don’t work properly without the right levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone.

What Are The Underlying Causes Of PCOS?

Insulin Resistance

Insulin resistance is a major factor in PCOS. About 70 percent of women with PCOS also have insulin resistance. Obesity, high blood sugar, inactivity, and stress all lead to insulin resistance. However, in PCOS insulin resistance seems to be both a symptom and a driver of the condition. Despite common misconceptions, insulin resistance affects all body types, not just overweight women. Thin women can be insulin resistant too.

Genetics

It is very difficult to determine one precise cause for PCOS. Many factors contribute to its development. Genetics do play a role, however, so if your mother or sister has PCOS, you are more likely to develop it too. A parent or grandparent with type II diabetes also raises red flags about your risk for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.

Weight

Carrying extra weight also contributes to PCOS. Of course, this creates a frustrating dynamic since PCOS makes you more likely to keep gaining weight. These hormonal imbalances also make it harder to lose that extra weight. Correcting the hormone problems is the key to losing the weight.

Stress

As well as the more measurable factors, some research suggests that high stress levels play a role in the development of PCOS. That’s because stress wreaks havoc on your hormones. Stress increases cortisol production, increasing blood sugar, resulting in an overproduction of insulin. Higher insulin leads to higher testosterone.

PCOS Frustration

Not only is it difficult to diagnose PCOS, it is also tricky to treat. Conventional treatment simply masks the symptoms by putting women with PCOS on birth control pills. The pill provides an artificially induced period each month. The hormones in the pill cover up the symptoms.

One clear flaw to this approach is that birth control pills won’t help women who are trying to conceive. More importantly, this approach isn’t getting to the root of the problem, in fact, it may actually make it worse. You see, birth control pills that contain estrogen raise blood sugar levels in addition to carrying other health risks. The goal should be to restore overall health, not to add the potential for more problems.

The Natural Approach To PCOS

A naturopathic approach considers the whole person in treating PCOS, or any other health problem. That means addressing the underlying causes of hormonal imbalances. The goal is to improve all aspects of a person’s health – and consequently, reduce Polycystic Ovary symptoms.

Treatment starts with a thorough evaluation of your health history as well as thorough hormone testing. Although the exact protocols will vary by patient, here are some proven tips for treating Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.

Weight Loss Plan

If you’re overweight, work with your naturopathic doctor to create a healthy weight-loss plan. Losing even small amounts of weight can make a big difference in PCOS symptoms. Even losing 10% of your current weight helps. However, you want to approach weight loss in a way that doesn’t create more stress on your body. Stress has a negative effect on insulin levels. That’s why it’s important to work with your naturopathic doctor.

Get Enough Sleep

A good night’s sleep is an essential part of hormone regulation. Interestingly, studies have found that sleep problems are twice as common for women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. Hormone imbalance contributes to sleep dysregulation. Getting your hormones better balanced will help you go to sleep and stay asleep. So be sure to pay attention to your sleep habits.

Get some healthy exercise for PCOS

Moderate exercise helps with weight loss. It also relieves stress and balances your cortisol levels. One study found that a mix of high-intensity interval training and strength training helps women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome specifically. However, talk to your naturopathic doctor about the best approach for you as many women with Polycystic Ovaries do better with gentle exercise. Very heavy weight training increases a potent form of testosterone known as DHT and may make symptoms worse.

Natural, Whole Food Diet

Eating whole foods without preservatives or other endocrine disruptors is the best approach to fully nourishing your body’s intricate, endocrine system.

Balance Protein And Carbs

You don’t have to eliminate carbs altogether, but do try to reduce your intake. If you do eat them, choose unprocessed, low glycemic index, complex carbs. Balance them with sources of lean protein. As well, keep your blood sugar stable by eating 3 meals at regular intervals. Intermittent fasting is an effective way to lower insulin levels.

Improve Gut Health

By improving your gut health to reduce inflammation and improve elimination, probiotics help to regulate your hormone levels. Prebiotic fiber also helps correct imbalances in your gut flora. It also fuels a healthy gut lining. Your microbiome impacts not only your digestive and immune systems but also has an impact on your metabolism, weight and blood sugar levels as well.

Choose Foods High In Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) are the building blocks for anti-inflammatory prostaglandins. These are chemicals in your body that reduce inflammation. Inflammation is a common phenomenon in women with PCOS. A deficiency in EFAs is also very common. Good food sources include fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring or sardines, as well as eggs, nuts, and seeds.

Talk to your naturopathic doctor about supplementation

Depending on your personal profile, helpful supplements could include magnesium, vitamin D, and calcium. In particular, inositol (a B vitamin, also called vitamin B8) is effective treatment. Chromium helps your body to metabolize sugar and stabilize your blood glucose levels. The right hormone testing and nutrient testing by your naturopath uncovers any deficiencies that you may have. It helps us devise a uniquely targeted supplement protocol based on your specific needs. There is no “one size fits all” approach.

Take Control of Your Hormones

Yes, this disease is frustrating. However, much research has been done recently on functional medicine testing and effective natural, holistic treatments. By treating your body as an integrated set of systems, you can get to the bottom of your symptoms and get on the path towards true balance and long term well-being.

Ready to take control of your hormones? Call the clinic at 416.481.0222 or book online and we can get started!

Medically reviewed by Naturopath Dr Pamela Frank


References

https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2012/591654/

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1756464617307727

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3277302/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4135453/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28595797

https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/pcos

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6250088/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5655679/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5461594/

Infertility Rates are Rising

graphic of hands holding baby saying protect your fertility

Here’s How to Enhance Your Fertility

Fertility is something that we often take for granted. In fact, many of us spend a lot of money and effort in preventing pregnancy until the timing is right for baby-making. However, even when the timing is right, our bodies don’t always cooperate. Timing is important because so many different elements need to be considered. Timing is a key component, both in terms of your chronological age and the timing of conception.

Infertility Statistics

Recent years have seen a dramatic increase in infertility. One study found infertility rates increased from 5.4 percent in 1984 to 15.7 percent in 2011. This is a substantial increase in such a short amount of time. Because infertility is increasing so quickly, it’s a good idea to be proactive about improving your fertility. Even if you never intend to have children, fertility is indicative of a healthy hormone balance. Hormone balance affects much more than just whether you can make babies. Hormones influence your mood, energy level, sense of well-being, cognitive function, weight, libido and even your immune function.

An Integrative Approach To Fertility

What makes infertility particularly frustrating is that it’s often hard to determine the exact cause as to why a couple is having difficulty conceiving. Infertility problems are often multi-factorial. Many different elements of a couple’s health need to be considered to understand the potential causes of infertility. Only by taking a detailed history, doing extensive investigation and customizing treatment can we fully optimize your ability to conceive. That’s why our integrative approach, that takes into account your lifestyle, genetics, stress levels, diet, hormone balance, vitamin and mineral status and overall health is best.

What is the Definition of Infertility?

In general, a couple is considered infertile if they’ve been trying for a year to conceive without success.

Factors That Affect Your Fertility:

What’s contributing to the increase in infertility? Medical scientists can’t pinpoint one specific cause, but many lifestyle factors can play a role.

Some factors that affect fertility include:

  1. Your hormones
  2. Genetic factors
  3. Your age
  4. Your weight
  5. Thyroid health
  6. Stress levels
  7. Chemical exposures

Hormone levels

Many hormones work in tandem to create optimal conditions for conception, including follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), estradiol (estrogen), luteinizing hormone (LH), DHEAs, testosterone and progesterone. Perhaps not surprisingly, even a tiny variation in your hormone balance can affect your fertility.

That’s why the first step to any fertility treatment is often thoroughly testing hormone levels. Knowing how your hormones are working together gives your healthcare practitioner an excellent starting point.

Genetic history

If you have a relative who had difficulty conceiving, you may also be at risk for fertility issues. Some fertility problems seem to run in families, such as endometriosis and PCOS. Recent research has found genetic components to some chromosomal problems. Certain genetic defects, like MTHFR mutations, increase the risk of fertility problems or recurrent miscarriage.

Your Vital Stats

Age & Fertility

It’s often frustrating for women to realize that age is one of the biggest factors that can contribute to infertility. After all, for many women, it can feel like a narrow window between being financially and emotionally ready to have a baby and being young enough to conceive.

Of course, we all see many examples of women well into their 40s having babies. And it’s definitely possible. However after the age of 40, the odds of getting pregnant decrease at a faster rate. Simply put, the conditions to conceive and carry a baby are more ideal when you are younger. As we grow older our risk for factors that negatively impact fertility increase.

Still, it’s important not to overstate the decline women experience in their 30s. Consider these stats:

  • Percentage of 27-to-34-year-old women who conceive after a year of having sex at least twice a week = 86 percent
  • Percentage of 35-to-39-year-old women who conceive after a year of having sex at least twice a week = 82 percent.

So through our 30s, the odds of conception don’t decline very dramatically. However, fertility rates do drop faster after 40, so about 30 percent of women between 40 and 44 will experience infertility.

Weight & Fertility

In addition, your weight impacts your fertility. That’s because excess weight influences your hormone levels. Fat cells secrete estrogen. Fat cells are also pro-inflammatory. Inflammation damages eggs and can lead to conditions like PCOS that cause irregular ovulation. The good news is that studies have found that losing even a small percentage of your body weight makes a difference.

Paradoxically, women who are underweight (with a BMI of less than 18.5) experience similar problems. That’s because not having enough body fat also impacts your hormone production. When you are underweight, your body perceives that resources are scarce. As a result, your body will shift into resource conservation mode. That means that your body will prioritize body systems that are vital and shut down those that are not. Your heart, lungs and liver are vital, your reproductive organs (ovaries, testes) are not.

However, it’s not just the number of your BMI. Body composition (the amount of body fat and lean muscle) and activity levels also play a role.

Of course, it takes two people to conceive. Scientific studies have found a clear link between male obesity and low sperm levels. In fact, men whose BMI places them in the obese category (30 or higher) have 60 percent less seminal fluid than men of normal weight. That’s a pretty significant difference. Underweight men also have lower amounts of seminal fluid, so it’s all about having the right balance — as with many aspects of your fertility.

Stress Levels

Can stress affect your infertility? The answer often is yes. For some couples, this is an added source of frustration. After all, dealing with infertility is stressful in itself. However, from an evolutionary perspective, it makes sense. Your body knows that when you’re stressed, you need to conserve energy. In our busy modern lives, stress is often chronic. It’s day in and day out at work, and then very little time to socialize, have fun, relax and have downtime. When you’re stressed, your adrenal glands produce more of the “stress hormones” adrenaline and cortisol. Stress also increases a hormone called prolactin. All of these suppress ovulation, not to mention causing low libido (which is definitely counterproductive for conception!)

Thyroid Health

Another hormonal issue that can affect ovulation is having low levels of thyroid hormone, a condition called hypothyroidism. Also hyperthyroidism, or high levels of thyroid hormone, can affect ovulation. You’re probably starting to understand why achieving the right hormone balance is so important! Your thyroid hormone plays a big role in letting your ovaries know when to ovulate or regulating the speed with which your testes are working. So when your thyroid hormone levels are out of whack, ovulation and sperm production can be too.

Signs of hypothyroidism include difficulty losing weight, easy weight gain, slow metabolism, hair loss, feeling tired or sluggish and feeling chilly all the time. Signs of hyperthyroidism include heart palpitations, weight loss, anxiety, difficulty sleeping or insomnia.

Chemical Exposure

Exposure to certain chemicals – in your foods, packaging, your clothing, cleaning products, beauty care and elsewhere – impacts fertility levels for both men and women. You don’t have to work with toxic substances to experience the effects. Even a fairly healthy standard American diet introduces pesticides that negatively impact our reproductive systems. Removing the toxins from your system requires our naturopathic doctors‘ professional guidance but it’s well worth it for improving your overall health and fertility.

How You Can Take Charge Of Your Fertility

As we can see from the list above, treating infertility is complex. Is there anything you can do on your own to improve your fertility? The most important thing is to act now if you have concerns. Don’t forget: Conception requires careful timing, so you do want to address any issues right away. It also takes some time to create optimal fertility. Here are some steps that help with fertility issues.

1. Visit a Naturopathic Doctor that is infertility-trained.

Proper testing to see what’s really going on with your whole body gives us a better picture. Treating infertility involves addressing your overall health, not just your reproductive system. While your hormones play a key role so do many other factors. We will work together to help prepare your body for conception. We’ll eliminate the stress of wondering if there is more you could do and relieve your feelings of overwhelm about where to start!

2. Manage your stress levels.

We understand that this is easier said than done, especially when you’re worried about fertility. It’s a bit of a vicious cycle if you start to get stressed about being stressed! Meditation is a good way to consciously address your emotional concerns. Fertility-centred psychotherapy is also a good idea to help you take the edge off. Adding in as many stress-busting activities as possible also helps. Exercise, massage therapy, yoga, reading a book, taking a long walk outside, or having a warm bath all help to lower cortisol levels.

3. Improve your diet.

One recent study found that women who ate a lot of fruits and vegetables with high pesticide levels were less likely to conceive. So choose organic produce when possible, or opt for produce that doesn’t typically have as many pesticide residues. Think of produce with a thick skin that protects the fruit like avocados or oranges. An excellent resource for finding the produce with the least pesticide residues is the Clean Fifteen list, published by the Environmental Working Group. They also publish a list of which produce to either avoid or only eat if it is organic called The Dirty Dozen.

In addition, certain foods have been associated with higher fertility levels. Your Naturopathic Doctor will help you to determine the best diet for your needs. In general, you want to ensure you’re getting adequate levels of folate, Omega 3’s, Vitamin B12, and Vitamin D.

4. Limit toxic exposure.

Both males and females should think about the chemicals they’re exposed to every day when they’re trying to conceive. In addition to possible herbicides and pesticides on produce, frequent exposure to x-rays, radiation, cigarette smoke, alcohol, toxins in the home and self-care products that you use every day all impact infertility. In addition, workplace hazards like exposure to lead and cadmium damage eggs and sperm and upset the hormonal balance required for peak fertility.

Next Steps

If you’re concerned about your fertility, give us a call at 416-481-0222. Together we can dive deeper and see where your issues are, and create a clear treatment program. Fertility is a common issue, just know that you are not alone and that we successfully treat many men and women with fertility issues at our clinic, even people who have been unsuccessful at fertility clinics.

Authored by Dr Pamela Frank, Bsc(Hons), ND

Sources

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3279129/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3885174/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6016043/

https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2014/05/27/meditation-fertility_n_5256027.html

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31035310

Do You Have Undiagnosed Thyroid Problems?

woman with thyroid problems having a thyroid ultrasound
Do you have thyroid problems?

Your thyroid is your body’s gas pedal. It regulates the speed and performance of the rest of your system. Your energy levels, metabolism, and heart rate are all controlled by this small but vital, butterfly-shaped gland. Thyroid hormones are essential for growth, brain development, fertility and the production of energy. Thyroid hormones stimulate the production of new mitochondria. Mitochondria are the energy-generators in each of your cells. Without enough thyroid hormone, your mitochondria aren’t able to produce as much energy as they should. Having a slow or underactive thyroid is called hypothyroidism. At the other end of the spectrum, your body can go into “overdrive” if it produces too much thyroid hormone. This is called hyperthyroidism.

Thyroid Problems are Often Un-diagnosed

With so much impact on your overall health and well-being, maintaining healthy thyroid hormone levels is important. Did you know that one in eight women produce either too much or not enough thyroid hormone? Women are at higher risk for thyroid issues than men. Hormonal changes like pregnancy or menopause make women more vulnerable to thyroid issues. The risk for both genders increases with age. In fact, the stats for those with undiagnosed thyroid disease are shocking. One study found that 6.71% of the population has an undiagnosed thyroid problem. Of course, as naturopathic doctors, we dig deep to find the root of thyroid concerns rather than just attribute your symptoms to age or menopause.

TSH, The Thyroid Regulating Hormone

To understand how your thyroid can wreak havoc on your health, you need to understand how it works. Your thyroid sits in your neck. There it performs the vital task of secreting thyroid hormone. This in turn triggers a cascade of other hormones and processes throughout your body. The key point about thyroid hormone is that your body is very sensitive to the amounts it receives. Any imbalances can have far reaching repercussions.

The amount of hormone your thyroid secretes is controlled by the amount of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) in your blood. In other words, TSH is the “master” hormone that directs your thyroid. It’s produced by your pituitary gland in your brain.

Lab ranges for TSH are notoriously broad. You can have signs and symptoms of an underactive thyroid BEFORE your TSH falls outside this wide lab range. This is called subclinical hypothyroidism.

When Your Immune System Attacks Your Thyroid

Further complicating the health of your thyroid is the fact that it is vulnerable to immune system attacks. This causes autoimmunity or autoimmune thyroid problems. The autoimmune disorder Grave’s disease causes too much thyroid hormone to be produced. In contrast, the autoimmune disease Hashimoto’s causes your immune system to attack your thyroid, slowing down thyroid hormone production.

What causes auto-immune thyroid problems?

That’s a great question and one that doesn’t yet have a conclusive answer. Your immune system is programmed to recognize your body and to know NOT to attack it. In autoimmunity, the immune system appears to have gone rogue.

Researchers hypothesize that it may be that a virus gained access to your thyroid at some point when your immune system was low. Maybe you didn’t sleep well, you were super-stressed or you were not eating well, all things that can lower your immune function. This allowed an infectious agent, like a virus to enter your thyroid. Now that there is a virus inside your thyroid, your immune system attacks the thyroid tissue to get at the virus. There is extensive research showing that individuals with auto-immune thyroid often have Epstein-Barr virus in their thyroids. Epstein-Barr virus is the virus that causes mono. To help auto-immune thyroid, then, our naturopathic doctors aim to help your immune system tackle this virus so there is no longer a need to attack your thyroid.

Your thyroid can also become inflamed. This is called thyroiditis. Tackling this type of thyroid problem means addressing the source of the inflammation. Your thyroid may also develop nodules or small abnormal growths. Sometimes this is associated with thyroid auto-immunity. It is also associated with iodine excess and iodine deficiency.

Hypothyroidism: When Your Thyroid Slows Down

If your thyroid isn’t producing enough thyroid hormone, your body slows down. This results in a condition called hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism causes many troublesome symptoms.The symptoms of hypothyroidism include:

Could You be Experiencing Hypothyroid Symptoms?

Despite this long list of issues, about 60 percent of people with hypothyroidism aren’t aware that they have it. One reason for this is that it’s easy to blame thyroid symptoms on other factors like lack of sleep, a poor diet or growing older. As well, thyroid symptoms tend to develop slowly. We often blame ourselves for weight gain when there is actually a medical explanation for it.

If you experience any of the symptoms above, it’s a good idea to dig deeper and figure out the root cause. Our naturopathic doctors can assist you with thorough thyroid testing. We do much more than just testing your TSH. These uncomfortable symptoms do not have to be part of your life.

Hyperthyroidism: The Consequences of an Overactive Thyroid

In contrast, when your body produces too much thyroid hormone, this condition is called hyperthyroidism. With hyperthyroidism, your body’s functions accelerate. Although this might sound appealing, many of the symptoms are debilitating. Some signs of hyperthyroidism include:

  • Feeling hot all the time
  • Anxiety
  • A rapid heartbeat or heart palpitations
  • Weight loss
  • Excessive sweating
  • Tremors
  • Restlessness
  • Missed periods
  • Insomnia
  • Hair loss
  • Osteopenia or osteoporosis

As with hypothyroidism, the symptoms of hyperthyroidism are often blamed on other issues, such as stress or anxiety.

Why Are Thyroid Problems Hard to Diagnose?

With so many symptoms, you would think that thyroid dysfunction would be easy to pick up. Not so. One challenging problem with identifying thyroid issues is that most doctors only run one test for your thyroid. They only test the amount of TSH in your blood. However, testing this one hormone doesn’t give the complete picture of your thyroid health. A more holistic approach which tests various hormone levels yields more information and leads to more effective treatment. This is what our ND’s do.

Prevention: How can you Prevent Thyroid Problems?

Unfortunately, the prevention of thyroid disease isn’t always possible. Sometimes genetics play a role in it. But, even if you have inherited the genes for thyroid problems, how much or how little you express those genes can be altered by certain health choices. Other risk factors for thyroid dysfunction include chronic stress and a personal or family history of autoimmune diseases. In addition, more research is pointing to the role of environmental factors in disrupting thyroid function. Our naturopathic doctors will address all the factors that contribute to thyroid issues when they are crafting your treatment plan.

Addressing the lifestyle factors that inflame your body helps to stabilize thyroid hormones whatever the cause of your imbalance.

6 DIY strategies for improving your thyroid health

Eat to protect your gut health

Maintaining enough good bacteria in your gut, keeps it healthy, protects your immune system and reduces your risk of autoimmune problems. Include lots of high-fiber foods in your diet every day. Broccoli, kale, and whole grains like quinoa make excellent high fiber options.

Reduce your stress

Stress interferes with thyroid function by slowing the production of TSH. It also increases the production of an inactive form of thyroid hormone, called reverse T3. Addressing your stress levels is important. If you can’t get rid of stress, exercise is a good way to both reduce its effects and improve your metabolism.

Cut your sugar intake

Your thyroid is a crucial component of your endocrine (hormonal) system. Sugar is managed by another vital organ in this interconnected system, your pancreas. The endocrine organs work together to keep your body working optimally. There is a complex relationship between diabetes and thyroid disease. One study identified thyroid dysfunction in 48% of diabetic patients. Clearly, better managing your glucose levels can help stabilize your thyroid.

Watch your iodine intake

Iodine is essential for good thyroid function, but too much also leads to thyroid problems. Iodized salt, seaweed, and some seafood contain high levels of iodine. Be careful not to overdo the seaweed snacks. I have seen at least one person who did and overdosed on iodine as a result.

Pay attention to how gluten makes you feel

People with Celiac disease are three times more likely to have a thyroid problem. Celiac disease interferes with the absorption of nutrients such as iodine. If you have trouble digesting gluten, consider eliminating it or get tested for Celiac disease. If it is negative, you may still have a gluten intolerance or sensitivity that our food allergy test will identify.

Look for high-fiber foods

High fiber foods are especially helpful if you’re hypothyroid. Having hypothyroidism can slow your digestive system and lead to constipation, so you want to focus on keeping things moving. As mentioned above, high-fiber foods help your good gut bacteria thrive. Fibrous foods fill you up so you eat less, which helps weight management. Fiber also slows down the rise in blood sugar that happens after a meal.

In general, the key is to focus on a whole-foods diet that will reduce inflammation. Avoiding artificial ingredients and regulating your blood sugar will reduce dietary stress and help maintain your thyroid health.

I’m Concerned About My Thyroid. What’s the Next Step?

When it comes to resolving thyroid issues, early detection is the key. It is much easier to deal with a thyroid problem when it is caught early. It’s also important to complete thorough thyroid testing. Evaluating thyroid hormone levels is complex and often not properly diagnosed within the conventional healthcare system. If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms of thyroid disease – either hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism – give us a call at 416-481-0222 or book an appointment online. Thyroid problems, diagnosed or undiagnosed, do not have to affect your daily life. Our naturopathic doctors can help.

Authored by Dr Pamela Frank, BSc(Hons), ND

Science-based Sources

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20030460

https://www.endocrineweb.com/conditions/thyroid/how-manage-stress-if-you-have-autoimmune-thyroid-disease

https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/healthy-eating-for-a-healthy-thyroid

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30060266

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16580033

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27959843

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25931043

Candida or Yeast Overgrowth

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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

Alcohol: Should You Quit Drinking?

woman wondering is alcohol healthy

Is Alcohol Good or Bad for You?

How is your alcohol intake? A glass of wine with dinner? A beer after a hard day of work? It’s not bad to integrate an occasional drink into a healthy lifestyle. Or is it?

In recent years, we’ve read that red wine is rich with antioxidants, like resveratrol. And that an occasional beer can raise “good” cholesterol. But, results from a new study suggest that even moderate alcohol consumption may actually be bad for us. In other words, the much-heralded health benefits of drinking don’t outweigh the risks. Perhaps there is no safe level of alcohol consumption.

A recently published research study looks at data collected in almost 700 other studies, spanning 195 countries and territories. Some of the findings are startling:

  • Alcohol is the leading risk factor for death in the 15 through 49 age group.
  • Alcohol use was responsible for 2.8 million deaths worldwide in 2016.
  • For women in particular, the health risks increase with age. Alcohol was responsible for over 27 percent of cancer deaths in women over 50.

The authors of the study are firm in their conclusion: “By evaluating all associated relative risks for alcohol use, we found that consuming zero standard drinks daily minimizes the overall risk to health.”

In other words, the only safe amount of alcoholic drinks is none at all. This finding differs from many earlier studies, which often concluded that moderate drinking was the best approach.

Why the Difference in Opinion?

Why did this study reach a more decisive conclusion than previous examinations of alcohol’s effect on health? Several factors come into play. This study was careful to consider the ways they measured consumption. For example, researchers looked at regional variations in alcohol consumption that could be attributed to things like tourism.

In addition, the study looked at alcohol’s impact on 23 different health-related problems. For some of those problems (such as heart disease), mild alcohol consumption had a positive effect. But that positive effect was balanced by a greater negative impact on other health issues (cancer is a good example).

Should I Quit Drinking?

What does this mean for you? If you drink, should you stop? Alcohol consumption is a very personal decision. This study looked at the picture worldwide. It was not studying individuals, but rather analyzing vast amounts of data previously collected, specifically looking at the risks for 23 health issues. That data was conclusive. But it’s up to you how you apply it to your own life. This latest study can’t, for example, tell you if it’s OK to have some wine for New Year’s given your own unique genetics and other lifestyle factors.

Assessing Your Risk from Alcohol

One thing is clear: If you’ve told yourself that drinking is healthy, you may want to reconsider that rationale. That doesn’t necessarily mean you must immediately quit. However, in deciding whether or not alcohol is something you want in your life, it’s best to be realistic about the health risks.

You also want to look at your own medical history and perhaps check out more specific studies. For example, another recently published study concluded that alcohol is the biggest controllable risk factor for dementia. If you have other dementia risk factors that are out of your control, such as genetic history, you may want to take action on the things that you can control.

Similarly, if you have a history of depression, consider alcohol’s impact on mental health. If you are trying to control your weight, the extra calories from alcohol aren’t going to help. Alcohol can also lower your judgment and keep you from making your best decisions.

The nurses’ health study found that moderate alcohol intake places women at higher risk for breast cancer and bone fractures, and higher intake increases your risk for colon polyps and colon cancer. Several studies have noted this same increased risk of breast cancer for women who consume alcohol, even in moderation.

Tips to Stop Drinking Alcohol

If you’re wondering about alcohol, talk to one of our healthcare practitioners. And be upfront about your drinking during the visit. Many people under-report how much they drink, but it’s best to be honest. You want to have an open discussion about all of your health concerns. Remember that our healthcare providers aren’t looking to judge you: they want to work with you to create your best life.

Quitting drinking can be much like quitting smoking for some people. Here are some tips to help you quit drinking:

Set a date

Set a date for when you want to quit and let your friends know.  Planning a date can help you get organized and telling your friends helps them help you and keeps you accountable.

Affirmation

An affirmation is a positive statement repeated often to create a desired change in your life. Repeating it not only helps to remind you why you are no longer drinking but imprints a new mental image of health so that your body can then produce it. For example: “I am a non-drinker. I choose to be healthy.”

Have a Support Person

The decision to stop drinking is a big one. You may have moments when you really struggle. Ask someone who is fairly available and reliable to provide reinforcement and encouragement when you need it. Much like a sponsor does in AA.

Manage cravings

Cravings can feel like they will last forever but in reality, they fade in two minutes. Plan what you will do during a craving. Examples: Have a nutritious snack, take your vitamins; repeat your affirmation; take some deep breaths; go for a walk; hum a song or call your support person. Our naturopathic doctors have lots of other tips to help with cravings.  

Make Alcohol Inconvenient

Don’t keep alcohol in your home. Avoid passing by the liquor store or your favourite bar. The more inconvenient it is to drink, the easier it will be to avoid giving in to cravings.

Set Boundaries

You may have to modify other behaviours to support your new abstainer status. For example, if your usual ritual is to hit the bar with friends on a Friday night, you may want to arrange to meet at a café instead. When possible stay away from situations where you are surrounded by drinkers, such as parties, until you feel more confident with your new non-drinking status.

Visualize

Use visualization to see yourself in certain situations without drinking – at a friend’s wedding, at a family function, going out for dinner. Seeing yourself in your mind’s eye in those situations successfully abstaining can help them become a reality.

Keep a Journal

Keep a journal or diary where you write down details of when you either had cravings for alcohol or where you lapsed and had a drink. Knowing the circumstances where you run into difficulties can help you avoid those situations in future. Write down your reasons for quitting alcohol and your affirmation.

Refrain from drinking coffee

Research shows that coffee causes cravings and dehydrates you.

Drink water

Research shows that dehydration causes cravings. Sip water frequently throughout the day. If you are in a social situation where everyone is drinking, having a drink of water in your hand can help.

Find New Healthy Habits

Drinking is a habit. To change a habit, it sometimes helps to adopt a new one that is at odds with the one that you are trying to quit. A healthy habit like a green smoothie or going to the gym can help by replacing less healthy ones.

Save money!

Put the money you would have spent on alcohol in a separate account to splurge on something fun like a new pair of shoes or a special vacation.

Use an app.

As with just about everything, there is an app for that. Sober Grid, Sobriety Counter and Nomo are just a few apps that are available on both Android and Iphone for free.

Bonus: These same tips can be applied to any habit that you would like to break – coffee, smoking, overeating etc. We can help.

Could the Study Be Wrong?

Some patients express frustration at the different results they see in health studies: One minute something is good for you, then suddenly we need to avoid it! Studies on alcohol use can be proof that when we read an eye-catching health-related headline, we need to look beyond the numbers.

One thing to keep in mind is that the media will typically seize the most dramatic sound bite. It’s almost impossible to convey the nuances of a well-run scientific study in a short headline. For example, a news story doesn’t always mention who funded the study. For the record, the Lancet study on alcohol safety was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. While some others that emphasized alcohol’s benefits were funded by companies who produce and sell alcohol. That doesn’t necessarily mean the studies were false. But, we should always remember that those who financed the study, and those who work for them, have a vested interest in how the results are interpreted and reported.

Correlation Doesn’t Equal Causation

As well, correlation doesn’t always equal causation. What that means is that if two behaviours are often seen together, it doesn’t mean that one causes the other.  For example, new parents are often sleep-deprived and tired.  As a result, they may drink more coffee.  It doesn’t mean that babies make you drink coffee.  The difference between correlation and causation can sometimes be hard to capture in large studies. In fact, there are studies that show that resveratrol, the aforementioned antioxidant found in red wine, is beneficial to your health. However, if you have other health issues like poor gut function, low energy, sleep issues and more, alcohol will likely have negative impacts and could make your health issues worse.

What Should You do About Alcohol?

Whenever you’re confused about a health issue, the best approach is to consider it from a sample study of one: yourself. Be aware of how alcohol intake makes you feel. Be aware of your own family history and other risk factors that you may have. Then talk to one of our healthcare providers about your own personal history and your current health concerns. We can help you sort through all of the information you face every day and figure out what’s best for your unique self. In fact, we are experts in doing just that! Give our office a call, we are always here to help 416-481-0222.

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