Bruxism is another name for teeth-clenching or grinding due to the contraction of the masseter, temporalis, and other jaw muscles. It typically happens at night while people are sleeping, but others will clench and/or grind during the day as well.
What Causes Bruxism?
Bruxism is considered to be a sleep-related movement disorder. Which just means that it is something that people do in their sleep that involves movement. These types of disorders may also include flexing of the feet, muscle twitches or jerking movements while sleeping. It may lead to daytime fatigue and non-restorative sleep. Some of the possible causes of tooth grinding include intestinal parasites, food allergies, environmental allergies, stress, and caffeine intake.
What is the Prevalence of Bruxism?
One study found that 26.9% of preschool children grind their teeth while they sleep.
What are the consequences of or problems associated with Bruxism?
it could affect the sleeping pattern, with consequences for the overall health, growth, and quality of life of children
hypertrophy of chewing muscles
tooth surface loss
fracture of restorations or teeth
hypersensitive or painful teeth and
loss of periodontal support
How can you treat Bruxism?
Stress reduction techniques like yoga, deep breathing, tai chi, meditation, psychotherapy, and regular exercise may help calm down your nervous system. Supporting your body’s ability to manage stress through nutrients like vitamin B6, magnesium, vitamin B5, vitamin C, zinc and adaptogenic herbs may also help. These options are best discussed with one of our naturopathic doctors.
Massage the masseter muscles
Your masseter muscles are your chewing muscles. If you hold your fingers about an inch in front of your ears and clench your teeth, you’ll feel these muscles bulge outward against your fingers. Massaging the muscle helps to relieve the tension in the muscle. Our chiropractors and osteopath can help relieve muscle tension that may also contribute to grinding your teeth. Acupuncture can also be used to relieve muscle tension and treat TMJ pain.
Young children are prone to picking up parasites like pinworm. One study of 86 children between the ages of 3 and 7 found that 11.2% of them had pinworm. The worm is active in the gut at night. This may be sending nerve impulses to the brain and stimulating the nervous system. The main symptoms of pinworm infection include itching skin, including the skin around the rectum and bruxism. Pinworm is easily tested for and treated through either conventional medicine or herbal medicine.
Parasite prevention techniques include washing hands before eating, drinking only clean water and eating cooked (rather than raw) food, cleaning perianal region frequently, and cutting nails frequently.
Magnesium calms down the nervous system by acting as a GABA receptor agonist. Magnesium also helps to relax muscles, including the masseter muscle. It can be taken orally or also applied topically to the masseter as a magnesium oil or gel.
Investigate food allergies or sensitivities
Food allergies or sensitivities can set off inflammation that affects not only the gut, but also the brain and the nervous system. Inflammation in these systems may trigger abnormal activity at night when you are sleeping. One of the worst cases of Restless Leg Syndrome I ever saw was corrected by removing food sensitivities.
Investigate environmental allergies
Similarly to food sensitivities, environmental allergies may trigger inflammation that affects the brain and the nervous system, causing excessive nervous system activity at night.
Reduce or eliminate caffeine intake from all sources including coffee, tea and chocolate, particularly later in the day to allow for calmer, more relaxing sleep.
Check Out These Natural Ways to Improve Your Liver Health
You might think that a sluggish liver is something that only heavy drinkers or fans of fried food have to worry about. However, conditions like fatty liver are becoming increasingly common among people who don’t drink much alcohol at all. That’s why it can be referred to as Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease or NAFLD. In fact, fatty liver affects up to 30 percent of us. The effects of this disease can be far-reaching and devastating. The good news is that your liver is one of your most resilient organs and there are ways to reverse this condition.
Being a non-drinker doesn’t mean that you are immune to fatty liver disease. Alcoholics are more prone to fatty liver, also called hepatic steatosis. When a heavy drinker has too much fat in their liver, it’s also known as alcoholic fatty liver disease. Perhaps not surprisingly, in non-alcoholics or non-drinkers, this condition is called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
What exactly is a fatty liver?
As the name implies, it is a situation where fat accumulates in your liver. Your liver is an important organ that produces bile, among about 500 other functions. Bile is a liquid that helps to metabolize the fat in your diet and flushes waste out of your liver.
It’s normal for your liver to have some fat in and around it. But excessive amounts of fat infiltrating the liver tissues leads to inflammation. That leads to scarring. If left untreated, fatty liver develops into cirrhosis, which creates serious health problems. The end result can be eventual liver failure, which is fatal. In fact, it’s the 12th most common cause of death in the U.S.
Thankfully, for most of us, the consequences of a fatty liver aren’t that severe. However, a fatty liver can take a big toll on your overall well-being and energy levels.
Symptoms of Fatty Liver
Do you feel chronically tired? If you feel as if you can’t catch up on getting enough rest, or that you just don’t have the energy that you used to, you might want to investigate your liver function. After all, your liver is responsible for helping to balance your hormones, and maintain your blood sugar along with its 500 other functions. When it’s not functioning properly, you could miss out on valuable sources of energy. Also, waste and toxins like ammonia accumulate in your system.
Now, there are many possible reasons for chronic fatigue: low thyroid, low iron, allergies, HPA axis dysfunction, poor quality sleep, not enough sleep, and depression, to name a few. So we can’t jump to Fatty Liver as the cause every time someone feels tired, but it is something that could contribute.
Dull Ache Behind Your Ribs
Have you ever felt a nagging pain in the upper right quadrant of your abdomen, the area just behind your lower rib cage? That can be a sign of liver problems. The pain is often felt as a dull ache, but it can progress. It may become more severe and including nausea or vomiting.
Because these symptoms can be easily dismissed as a digestive problem, it’s important to see a medical doctor or naturopathic doctor if you suspect liver issues. That way you can get proper blood testing and an ultrasound to diagnose the condition or to put your mind at ease.
Liver Blood Tests
Blood tests for the liver are referred to as “liver function tests”. However, with the exception of bilirubin, they do not really assess your liver function. They are more reflective of liver damage.
Bilirubin is a waste product from red blood cell breakdown that has to be excreted through your liver. If your liver isn’t doing this well, it accumulates in your body. The end result of that is yellowing of your skin and the whites of your eyes. This is called jaundice.
ALT or Alanine Aminotransferase, AST or Aspartate Aminotransferase, Alkaline phosphatase, and GGT or Gamma Glutamyl Transferase are all enzymes that are produced within the cells of your liver. If the level of any of these enzymes increases in your bloodstream, it can reflect damage to the cells of your liver.
Usually, fatty liver is picked up and diagnosed via an ultrasound.
What are the Causes of Fatty Liver?
The “classic” cause of liver problems is excessive drinking. However, more and more people who are being diagnosed with fatty liver aren’t heavy drinkers at all.
High Sugar and Processed Carbs Diet
A diet high in sugar and simple carbohydrates triggers liver issues as well. Although you may have thought that a high-fat diet would be the obvious culprit, simple carbs are equally at risk for creating a fatty liver. That’s because a high-carb diet leads to higher insulin levels that cause inflammation. A high carb diet also alters your gut bacteria in a way that promotes fatty infiltration of the liver. In particular, drinking too many sugar and high fructose corn syrup sweetened drinks is a major cause of liver fat accumulation.
So, what’s to blame? In a word, obesity. That’s largely because obesity creates the kind of inflammation that leads to your liver storing fat. The connection between fatty liver and obesity isn’t a simple matter of how much you weigh. It’s also connected to where that body fat is stored. The fat that accumulates around your belly is more likely to signal liver issues. People with an apple-shaped body are more prone to visceral fat. This is fat that is stored around your internal organs. That type of fat distribution is associated with serious health issues like diabetes and heart disease.
Treating Fatty Liver
Studies have found that the most effective way to treat fatty liver is to lose weight. Even a small amount of weight loss reduces inflammation, improves fat metabolism, and enhances liver function. As much as we wish there was a magic pill for this, the standards of exercise and a healthy diet are still the best options.
Exercise lowers the level of fat in your liver. Interestingly, the fat-burning benefits of exercise happen even if weight loss isn’t the end result.
Low-intensity cardio, high-intensity interval training, and strength training have all been proven to be effective. The most important thing is to find an activity that you enjoy doing and be consistent with it. There are lots of options for exercise – yoga, walking your dog, swimming, sports, fitness classes, dance, cycling, running, belly-dancing, and martial arts are all possibilities.
A whole-foods, low-carb approach to dropping extra pounds is often effective. Strategies that have been found to help liver health include:
Consuming lots of fibre to improve elimination. Contrary to common misconceptions, though, fibre doesn’t have to come in the form of bread or grains. It can be from fruit and vegetables, legumes, and nuts and seeds.
Choosing fish high in omega 3 fatty acids, such as salmon and sardines. These are natural anti-inflammatory foods. Bringing inflammation down helps to bring insulin down which then helps to bring the inflammation down.
Choosing healthy monounsaturated fats, which are found in foods such as avocados, olive oil, and nuts. These are also anti-inflammatory and their fat content helps you to feel full.
Drinking antioxidant-rich green tea. Polyphenols and catechins in green tea have positive health effects.
Adding plenty of nutritious and anti-inflammatory green vegetables such as broccoli, which also happens to be very high in fibre.
Refined white carbs such as white bread and white rice
Supplements to Support Liver Metabolism
Several supplements show promise in treating fatty liver, including milk thistle and berberine. Discuss these with your Naturopathic Doctor to make sure that they are right for you.
Luckily, your liver is amazingly resilient. In fact, it is the only visceral organ in your body that is able to regenerate itself. A full liver can regenerate from as little as 25% of the original liver! Taking action to protect the health of your liver protects your energy levels and prevents many more serious health problems down the road.
If you have been diagnosed with Fatty Liver Disease or if you would like to go over the lifestyle changes that can help prevent this kind of liver damage, give us a call at 416-481-0222 we can help.
The Benefits of Meditation For Anxiety in Difficult Times
Do you have tense muscles? Are your shoulders creeping up toward your ears? Do you obsess about the news? Do you have anxiety about your future? Difficulty sleeping? All of the above? You’re definitely not alone. There’s no doubt that we are all living with a lot of uncertainty right now.
So how can we cope when we don’t know if we’ll keep our job if we can pay our rent or mortgage, if we can keep putting food on the table, if we can save for our retirement or our children’s education?
How Doing Nothing Helps You Cope with Everything
The answer might be as simple as doing nothing, simply sitting still and purposefully clearing your thoughts through meditation. Studies show that it has an astounding number of benefits that are vital in situations just like this.
In fact, fostering an ongoing meditation practice actually changes the structure of your brain. That change provides benefits that continue even when you have finished meditating.
In short, meditation just may be one of the best things you can do for yourself in these troubled times. Will it put food on the table? No. But, it may get your brain out of the current “fight or flight” pattern that makes clear-headed decision making next to impossible. That way you can make a clear and decisive path forward.
Five Benefits Of Meditation
Here are just a few of the many positive things that happen when you meditate:
Lower Blood Pressure
As I mentioned, meditation decreases the “flight or fight” hormones in your body. As a result of this relaxation response, your blood vessels open up, which in turn improves your blood pressure if it tends to be high.
Less Stress-Induced Inflammation
Excess cortisol, one of your main stress hormones, increases blood sugar, which then increases insulin, which leads to inflammation in many parts of your body. A common example of this is in your gut. Digestive issues are common during times of high stress. Because meditation lowers the amount of cortisol you produce, inflammation is reduced.
Despite all of the health benefits, the ultimate goal of meditation isn’t necessarily focused on physical results. It’s more a process of learning to embrace uncertainty. It’s not about eliminating or controlling the storm, it’s about learning to be still and calm despite the storm going on around you.
A More Optimistic Outlook
Who doesn’t need a more positive outlook right now? Meditation has been found to actually alter (in a good way) the parts of your brain responsible for positive thoughts. As well, by becoming more aware of your thoughts, you can fend off negativity. There are many health benefits to having a positive, optimistic attitude. In fact, studies show that higher optimism is a significant predictor of better survival, better cardiovascular outcomes, improved physiological markers (including immune function), better outcomes related to pregnancy, fewer physical symptoms, and reduced pain.
Reduced Anxiety And Rumination
It’s perfectly normal to be experiencing anxiety and worries about health and financial security when you are faced with something as stressful as a pandemic. However, when those thoughts spiral out of control they can negatively affect your family members as well as your own mental and physical health. High cortisol levels even lower your immune response, and we all need a strong immune system right now.
How Does Meditation Help With Negative Thoughts?
It may be difficult to imagine reining in the out-of-control, off-the-rails thought train when world events, and substantial changes to our daily lives, are so overwhelming.
However, meditation teaches us how to experience those thoughts without panicking or feeling the need to repress them. With a little practice, you should be able to just sit with your thoughts and feelings, without judgment or analysis, and start to process them without spiralling out of control. You can be present in the moment without projecting into the future or ruminating on the past.
And right now, faced with so many uncertainties, that’s particularly beneficial.
Why Start Meditating Now?
You might feel that now is not a good time to start meditation. After all, you’re likely stuck at home and perhaps feel antsy and confined. Who wants to sit still? However, meditation has proven to be an effective mental health treatment. Right now we need to be focusing not just on keeping a healthy body but also maintaining a healthy mind.
How To Meditate
Many people find the thought of taking up meditation a bit intimidating. After all, it has had a reputation of being “weird” and “fringe” throughout the ages. It’s important to know that you don’t have to “master” meditation. It’s OK to be imperfect. Your mind will probably wander, and you may feel uncomfortable at first. That’s perfectly normal.
Setting Up Your Practice
The good news is that it’s surprisingly simple to get started. In basic terms, you just need to:
Find a comfortable place. Ideally, somewhere that is quiet.
Sit in a natural, relaxed position.
Focus on your breath.
Try not to overthink this: just focus on each exhalation and inhalation. It’s not necessary to force anything.
If your mind wanders (and since you’re human, there’s a good chance that it will) try to sit back and “observe” your thoughts. Don’t analyze them. And don’t berate yourself for losing focus. It’s all part of the process. They are just passing through your brain.
How Long Should You Meditate For?
You may have heard of people going on week-long meditation retreats. That’s great – but it’s not really necessary. Just a few minutes a day is a good start. In fact, studies have found that just five minutes of meditation has significant benefits.
And who can’t fit 5 minutes of meditation into their day?
How Often Should You Meditate?
As with many things, consistency is a key component of a successful meditation practice. Try to carve out a few minutes per day to dedicate to your mental health. Some people find that it helps to make it the same time every day. Some find that doing 5 minutes in the morning as soon as they wake up and setting an intention for the day helps. Others will do 5 minutes as they are going to bed at night. And other people find it beneficial to do 5 minutes here and there throughout the day when they are feeling the most anxious. There is no hard and fast rule. Do what works for you.
Ok, full disclosure here, I have a hard time with meditating. I find it hard to just be still and “do nothing”. But here’s what I can do. After I have done my morning yoga, and I reach the end. I’m lying on my back in Shavasana or Corpse pose, then I can add 5 more minutes to just clear my mind and prepare for the rest of my day. That’s what works best for me with meditation.
Resources To Get Your Meditation Practice Started
There are quite a few wonderful resources available to help you get started with meditation should you need a little help – here are a few of our favourites:
Tinnitus is a ringing sound in your ear or ears that only you hear. It is the perception of a sound in your ear when there is no corresponding external source of the noise. Some people describe it as ringing, while others may sense a clicking, buzzing, hissing, whistling, or roaring noise. Ten to fifteen percent of all adults report symptoms of tinnitus with 1-2% of those reporting that it negatively impacts their quality of life.
What are the signs and symptoms of tinnitus?
The first signs and
symptoms of tinnitus are ringing, buzzing, hissing, clicking or
roaring noises that originate from inside your ear, not from an
external source. These sounds may affect one or both ears.
What causes tinnitus?
To better answer this
question, you need an understanding of how your ears work. First,
sound waves travel from the air and through your outer ear. Your
outer ear conducts the sound waves to your middle ear. From there,
the sound is conducted to your inner ear. Your inner ear then
transmits an electrical impulse to your brain. Your brain then
translates this impulse into a sound that you hear.
Causes of tinnitus:
Damage to your inner ear
Damage to your eardrum or ear bones (the hammer, anvil, and stirrup) of your middle ear
Tumours in your ear or on your auditory nerve
Regular exposure to very loud noises such as workers who use jackhammers, chainsaws, or other heavy equipment or musicians who are exposed to very loud music frequently
Age-related hearing loss
Muscle spasms in your middle ear
Meniere’s disease, which is an inner ear condition that affects hearing and balance
An overabundance of earwax, which alters the way your eardrum works
Certain medications also cause tinnitus and hearing damage. This is known as ototoxicity. Drugs that contribute to tinnitus include:
very large doses of aspirin over a prolonged period
antimalarial drugs, such as chloroquine
certain antibiotics, such as erythromycin and gentamicin
loop diuretic medications such as bumetanide
certain anti-cancer drugs, such as vincristine
Tests for Tinnitus
Your family doctor may perform a hearing assessment and provide a referral to an ear, nose and throat specialist or audiologist for more extensive testing.
Does tinnitus cause
People with tinnitus
often report hearing difficulties because the noises in their ears
are interfering with hearing incoming external noises. Resolving the
cause of tinnitus, helps to restore normal hearing in some cases.
How is tinnitus
The treatment for
tinnitus depends on determining which of the above is the underlying
cause and addressing that.
Damage to your inner
Your inner ear can be
damaged by loud noises, viral or less frequently bacterial
infections, aging, head trauma, a hereditary disease known as
otosclerosis and Meniere’s disease. Addressing the source of the
damage may revert symptoms like tinnitus.
Damage to your eardrum
or ear bones of your middle ear
Eardrums can be damaged
by unresolved ear infections, extreme changes in air or water
pressure, and trauma. A damaged eardrum can repair itself if the
cause of the damage is removed.
Tumors in your ear or on your auditory nerve
These are called acoustic neuromas. They are rare. The best test for an acoustic neuroma is an MRI. Treatment of an acoustic neuroma is outside my scope of practice and best discussed with your MD.
Exposure to very loud noises
For those who are exposed to loud noises, wearing hearing protection helps prevent further damage to your ears. Damage to your ears from short term exposure to loud noises usually resolves on its own after the exposure stops.
Age-related hearing loss
Obviously, you can’t change your chronological age. However, many of the effects that we attribute to age can be moderated or improved through healthy lifestyle measures like a healthy diet, good sleep, regular exercise, and certain vitamins and minerals.
In some people with age-related hearing loss, the changes to the central auditory system resemble the changes seen in Alzheimer’s disease. In this case, our naturopaths would treat tinnitus similarly to how we address Alzheimer’s dementia.
Muscle spasms in your middle ear
Muscle spasms in your ear may be influenced by stress, caffeine intake, and certain vitamin and mineral deficiencies, particularly calcium and magnesium. Aside from hearing the spasm, you would also feel a twitching movement inside your ear.
Meniere’s is an inner ear condition that affects your hearing and balance. Sufferers experience varying degrees of vertigo, falls, hearing loss, and nausea or vomiting. Usually, only one ear is affected. Conventional treatment involves salt restriction, medication to control dizziness and diuretics.
High blood pressure
People with high blood pressure may notice roaring or blood rushing sounds in their ears, although this is uncommon. Supporting your HPA axis, magnesium supplementation and strengthening your cardiovascular system are some of the means that we as naturopathic doctors help you manage your blood pressure.
Cholesterol levels are increased when blood sugar levels are not well managed and when there is damage to the vascular endothelium. Correcting your diet, increasing exercise, and supplementation for healthy veins and arteries helps lower cholesterol levels naturally.
Temporomandibular joint dysfunction, or TMJ, can be caused by misalignment of the bones of your jaw, neck, and skull. It also causes chronic pain in your jaw and head. Our chiropractors and osteopath help this. Anxiety or stress that causes tooth grinding at night also contributes. Our naturopaths reduce stress and anxiety so that you are more relaxed during the day and while you sleep. Therapy with Ichih Wang will relieve stress and anxiety. Acupuncturist Joy Walraven uses Traditional Chinese Medicine and acupuncture to relieve TMJ pain and tinnitus.
An overabundance of earwax
Impacted earwax can alter the way your eardrum works. Abundant earwax is a sign that something is irritating your ears. Earwax is like mucous for your nose, it is a way for your body to flush an irritant. Food sensitivities like dairy often provoke excessive earwax production. A trial dairy elimination diet is a good place to start if you notice a lot of earwax. You may need to see your medical doctor for ear irrigation to flush out impacted wax. Never stick things in your ears to do this as it may damage your eardrum.
Certain medications also cause tinnitus and
hearing damage. This is known as ototoxicity. In the case of
ototoxic drugs, the solution would be to discuss switching
medications with your doctor.
Is tinnitus temporary
Whether tinnitus is permanent or temporary really depends on the underlying cause. In some cases it will go away with appropriate treatment, in others, it will lessen and in some instances it is permanent.
How do you get rid of Tinnitus? What are natural treatment options?
Here are some natural
remedies that are used for tinnitus relief:
Studies show that
melatonin helps to relieve symptoms of tinnitus. Optimize your own
production of melatonin by following these good sleep hygiene
Shut down electronics by 8 p.m. Backlit screens decrease your melatonin production.
Dim the lighting in your home once it is dark outside. Your brain’s cue to make melatonin is darkness. If you are exposed to bright lights once it’s dark outside, you will produce less melatonin.
Get blackout curtains for your bedroom. Keep the melatonin production optimal all night by keeping it dark in your bedroom.
A 2016 study reported a significant association between lower blood levels of magnesium and tinnitus. Magnesium acts to calm the nervous system and relax muscles. Both mechanisms could provide relief of tinnitus symptoms. Another study had participants take 532 mg of magnesium per day for 3 months and rated them on the Tinnitus Handicap Index before and after. After 3 months, the 19 participants who completed the study demonstrated a significant decrease in tinnitus afterward.
In addition, magnesium is a key component of melatonin production.
A water-soluble formulation of Coenzyme Q10 for 30 days after exposure to loud noise, helped participants recover their hearing. The reduction in the recovery time following treatment can be explained by CoQ10-mediated improvement of your ears’ response to oxidative stress.
Studies on using Gingko for tinnitus have demonstrated conflicting results, some showing an improvement, others not. Given Gingko’s ability to improve circulation, this remedy may be most useful in patients with other signs and symptoms of circulatory issues or vascular dementia.
The conflicting evidence for Gingko may also be due to a lack of standardization of Gingko products used and/or dosage given.
A study in North India subjected participants to Vitamin B12 assay and audiometry pre- and post- a therapy that involved 6 weeks of intramuscular B12 injections (2500 mcg). Patients with Vitamin B12 deficiency showed significant improvement in mean tinnitus severity index score and visual analog scale (VAS) after Vitamin B12 therapy. Dr. Rachel Vong can administer vitamin B12 injections.
Fish oil studies show
that it reduces nerve inflammation by decreasing the release of
various inflammatory chemicals in the brain. Neuroinflammation has
been implicated as a cause of tinnitus.
A 2018 study suggested
that salicylate-induced tinnitus may be improved by taking a water
extract of Spirulina.
Is Tinnitus Serious?
Some of the causes of tinnitus mentioned above are serious. If you are experiencing symptoms of tinnitus, see your doctor then see one of our practitioners for help with the underlying cause.
Do you have big plans
to boost your health and metabolism in January? Many of our patients
say that they would like to take control of their wellness in 2020.
These aspirations often include losing some of the extra weight that
they’ve picked up over the holidays.
However, we know that it’s important not to get too caught up in the numbers on the scale. Instead, a good alternative goal is to focus on lowering your body fat, if that would help your overall health. Or, aim to raise your energy levels. In other words, your goal should always be to improve your quality of life, not to chase after an elusive number on a scale or a clothing size.
No matter why you want
to lose weight, it’s important to approach your New Year’s
resolution with a strategy. Having a concrete plan increases your
odds of success. Here’s a sobering fact: About 80 percent of New
Year’s resolutions are abandoned by February.
The Metabolism Run-Up to the New Year
Think about it. We often coast through December, eating, drinking, and neglecting our usual fitness routine. Then January arrives and we expect our body to adjust to an austere new regimen. It’s no wonder that many people either give up altogether or wind up injured.
Believe it or not, it
is possible to prime your body and mind in preparation for January’s
resolutions while still enjoying your holidays. That includes revving
up your metabolism so that it’s ready to deal with the anticipated
holiday dietary indiscretions. It’s even possible to get started on
this during the busy month of December. Here are some steps that will
7 Ways to Avoid
Packing On Extra Pounds This Holiday Season
Watch What You Eat
is not just about how much or how many calories you eat. The macro
and micronutrient choices that you make when selecting your food
change how efficiently your body metabolizes fat. In particular,
include a source of protein with every meal. One reason for this is
that it helps your body to maintain its muscle tone. A second reason
for doing so is to stabilize your blood sugar. A stable blood sugar
means keeping cravings at bay. If you aren’t taking in enough
calories, your body will turn to the protein in your muscle tissue
for fuel. This means that you will lose muscle mass when you lose
weight. Losing muscle mass slows your metabolism.
Sip on Herbal Teas
you’re celebrating the holidays, consider switching some of that
eggnog and champagne for herbal tea. Not only is it lower in
calories, but you will be consuming more water. Staying hydrated is
a great catalyst for weight loss. Warm water is soothing to your
digestive system which also improves your metabolism. Some
appropriate teas for the holiday season are:
Peppermint tea is particularly good for digestion. It will help a stomach that is complaining about the extra burden of rich or heavy food
Chamomile tea calms your nervous system and sets you up for a good night’s sleep
Rooibos tea is full of antioxidants as well as being a natural energy booster without caffeine.
Eat Probiotic-Rich Foods
Before you even start ramping up your healthy eating routine, get your gut in shape from the inside! Healthy gut bacteria help with weight control. In fact, the makeup of the gut bacteria or microbiome of overweight or obese people is typically different than that of people of a healthy weight. Your gut bacteria benefit from all of the same things that you do overall – good sleep, healthy whole foods, plant-based diet, exercise, and reduced stress.
In addition to consuming fermented foods like kimchi or yogurt, taking a high-quality probiotic supplement in December boosts your gut bacteria levels. Not only can probiotics pave the way for better digestion in January, but they also boost your immune system which makes for a healthier social season.
Since we’re not technically moving during our sleeping hours, it doesn’t seem like that time would impact your base metabolism. However, researchers have found that getting enough sleep, which for most people is around eight hours, is essential to an efficient metabolism.
Get Enough Vitamin D
During the winter, and especially before you make any dietary changes, it’s a good idea to check your Vitamin D levels. In addition to its many other health benefits, new studies have found that vitamin D helps with weight loss. In one study, women with adequate amounts of vitamin D in their bloodstream lost more weight than women who were deficient in vitamin D.
Note that it is difficult, if not impossible, to get enough vitamin D through diet alone. At this time of the year with cloudy days and long nights, we often don’t get enough sun exposure to generate our own vitamin D. Supplementation is key this time of year.
you know that if your blood test shows that you are vitamin D
deficient, you actually may be magnesium deficient? It’s true.
There are many occasions where
Top Up Your Magnesium
helps with many processes in your body. There is so much demand for
magnesium that a deficiency of this mineral is quite common. Stress
depletes your magnesium level. Our soil is also lacking magnesium,
so plant foods that should supply you with magnesium, don’t.
it may not directly impact weight loss, having adequate levels of
magnesium helps you sleep more deeply, regulates your moods, and
controls your blood sugar. Those are all important elements to
maintaining a healthy metabolism and sticking to healthy habits.
Good sources of magnesium include leafy vegetables, nuts, beans, and dark chocolate. For most people, particularly anyone with high stress, magnesium glycinate supplements are essential.
Keep Active to Boost Your Metabolism
it’s hard when you’re busy. However, continuing to stay active
makes it easier to hit the gym when you’re ready to ramp back up to
your usual routine in January. Not only will your muscles stay
limber, but you’ll also be taking steps to prevent your mind from
slipping into a winter funk. We have a tendency to get derailed in
our fitness efforts when the holidays hit. The festivities mess with
your usual schedule. Throwing off your routine lowers your
self-discipline and motivation. This is unfortunate timing because
the lack of exercise in January and February contributes to February
The good news is that it doesn’t take too much to maintain your base fitness levels. Think mini-workouts. Remember: It’s better to do even a little bit, every day than to be a weekend warrior. So, fit in some 10 to 20-minute workouts. Try a short YouTube cardio video. Meet up with some friends at yoga or even walk around the mall! Your metabolism will be grateful that you did come January.
you’re focusing on sustaining your metabolism so that you can crush
those New Year’s resolutions in 2020, make sure that you include
strength training. Simply put, the more muscle you have, the more
super-charged your metabolism will be. Even when you’re just
sitting still or sleeping, you’ll burn more calories.
you’re not sure how to begin with all these tips, the best plan is
to speak with an expert! We’d be happy to help you create a unique
plan that suits you.
Yes, improving your metabolism feels like a daunting task this time of the year. There are so many temptations and the instinct to hibernate kicks in. However, taking a few simple steps now helps you get ready to meet your New Year’s resolutions head-on! Call us at 416-481-0222.
Are you feeling burnt out and overwhelmed? You’re not alone. Let’s face it: We’re all busy, dealing with endless to-do lists and struggling to balance it all. The result is often a day-to-day life that feels too hectic. We feel pulled away from the things that really matter most. We may have even forgotten what those things are!
Many people find their way to our wellness clinic at a point in their lives where they feel compelled to take charge of their well-being before it gets even further out of control. Sometimes they’re experiencing health problems that they just can’t shake. Some have symptoms but no one can figure out what is wrong with them. Others are ready to take their health to the next level because they know that their health is their greatest asset. By seeking the kind of holistic help all of our wellness experts provide, they’re claiming ownership of their current and future health.
A Fork In The Road
The inescapable truth is that good health is vital to living a rich and meaningful life. Fortunately, our bodies let us know when we’re jeopardizing our present and future health by giving us warning signs in the form of unpleasant symptoms. However, many of us don’t listen to those signs or we try to cover them up with band-aid solutions and carry on. This propels our health even further down a slippery slope.
Here’s a key fact:
Disease doesn’t develop overnight. It often begins when we’re out
of balance and burnt out. We need to pay attention to the warning
signs before they escalate into something much worse.
From a survival
standpoint, the “fight or flight” response produced by stress
hormones like cortisol and adrenaline makes sense. By putting your
body into overdrive, those hormones help you physically if you are in
danger. For example, when our ancestors were under attack by a
predator, the fight or flight hormones helped them fight back or
escape. However, in today’s world, stress tends to be more mental
or emotional than physical, and more chronic than acute. As a result,
your hormone levels end up way out of balance.
Irritability and Mood Swings are Signs of Burnout
Are you ready to fly off the handle at any moment? Do the things that used to make you laugh now irritate you? You could have an imbalance in the neurotransmitters that affect your moods, such as serotonin or GABA. Changes in estrogen, progesterone and testosterone levels and thyroid hormone imbalances also lead to irritability.
You are Experiencing Sleep Disturbances: Difficulty Falling or Staying Asleep
Sleep problems can become a vicious cycle. We need sleep to refresh our minds and restore balance, but when our bodies are out of balance, it is difficult to sleep well. If you toss and turn for hours, or wake up in the night with your mind racing, it may be time to listen to your body and start practicing better sleep hygiene.
Following these steps to improve sleep resolves most issues:
Maintain a regular bedtime, try to go to bed by 10 p.m.
Shut down electronic devices by 8 p.m. and keep them out of your bedroom
Keep your bedroom cool, quiet and dark. Invest in blackout curtains.
Avoid eating for at least 2 hours before bed
Avoid sugar and alcohol in the evening. These destabilize your blood sugar at night. The resultant dips in blood sugar wake you up in the night or keep you in a light, restless sleep.
Do something that relaxes you in the evening. Read a book. Have a bath. Knit.
Have a little protein (eggs, fish, nuts/nut butter) before bed. These help to stabilize your blood sugar to help you get to sleep, get into a deeper sleep and stay asleep longer.
Balance your hormones. Hormone balance is crucial to good quality sleep.
Your Body is Changing and you Can’t Figure Out Why
Many patients experience mysterious symptoms that can’t be explained by conventional medicine. These symptoms may include rapid, unexplained weight gain, debilitating fatigue, and skin problems. Weight gain is a common symptom of imbalance. If you find you’ve gained weight without any change to your lifestyle, your body might be telling you that it’s out of balance. Similarly, unexplained fatigue or sudden acne (long past the teen years) are symptoms you shouldn’t just ignore.
There is an explanation for symptoms like these. If you’re being told it’s “just stress“, our naturopaths will dig deeper to get to the root cause of your problem.
You Rely on External Substances to “Manage” Life
If you feel like you can’t make it through the day without your morning coffee, mid-morning macchiato, and afternoon pumpkin spice latte and muffin, ask yourself what purpose those caffeinated drinks and sugar are serving. Relying on a substance, be it sugar, caffeine, or even alcohol, marijuana or cigarettes is not a sustainable way of coping with life’s difficulties. The short-term boost they provide soon gives way to imbalance and disease. It’s important to seek help to nip these habits in the bud.
Does anything on that list sound familiar? If so, you’re not alone! Feeling overwhelmed is often the result of our natural instinct to try to do everything or please everyone. The good news is that there’s a better way.
Burnout: How To Bring Your Health Back Into Balance
How can you start the process of restoring balance? When you’re feeling overwhelmed, it may seem like a daunting task. But, it’s simpler than you might think.
Step One. Prioritize
What’s Really Important.
What matters most to you? Chances are that it’s not the housework, what’s happening on Instagram, your emails, buying a nicer couch, or any of the other things that take up space on your to-do list. Ultimately, for most of us, the important things are more intangible: our health, relationships, and family. In order to prioritize the things that matter, we need to put self-care at the top of our to-do list. Simply put, we can’t devote energy to the truly important things or people if we’re not looking after ourselves.
people find that when they adjust their priorities, the other things
cease to feel like such a struggle. It may seem like a bit of a
paradox, but when we look after ourselves, everything else in life
just falls into place.
If you want to reconnect with your priorities and figure out what really matters, mindfulness meditation helps. You can also try journaling. Writing down your thoughts is a great way to sort them out. In fact, writing down your emotions can be the outlet you need to ease the harmful physical effects of stress. Remember to include what you are thankful for in your journal. Take time for expressing gratitude daily. Studies show that higher levels of gratitude are associated with higher levels of subjective well-being.
Three vital self-care
Take time to make healthy meals. Then take the time to sit down together with friends and family to enjoy them. Meal prep on Sundays with a meal prep menu so that making a healthy dinner isn’t rushed at the end of a long work-day.
Fit exercise into your busy schedule. Get up earlier to workout, take stairs, walk, take transit instead of taking the car. Taking the TTC builds exercise into your day by walking more and taking stairs and helps our environment too.
Step 2: Prioritize Down-time
Despite having busy lives, our bodies need a
certain amount of downtime every day. If you are working all day,
doing chores in the evening, answering email until you go to bed,
your body doesn’t get the time it needs to recover. Disconnect from
your devices and make a point of relaxing from 8 p.m. until you go to
bed, every night. Get a full 8 hours of good quality sleep every
Step 3: Get the Right Nutrition
When you are constantly on the go and under pressure, your body’s demand for certain vitamins and minerals increases. Coping with stress necessitates adequate stores of vitamin C, vitamin B5, vitamin B6, magnesium and zinc. Good food sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits, kiwi, berries, peppers, and melons. Foods rich in vitamin B5 include mushrooms, eggs, salmon, beef, chicken, turkey, sunflower seeds, pork, sweet potato, and avocados. Vitamin B6 is found in foods like salmon, chicken, beef, pork, avocados, sweet potato, and pistachios. Magnesium-rich foods include dark, green leafy vegetables like kale, spinach, Swiss chard, and beet greens, as well as seeds, beans, nuts, fish and chocolate. Zinc is abundant in egg yolks, beef, shellfish, and pumpkin seeds.
The amount of these vitamins and minerals that you need under stress may be more than you can provide through diet alone, however. In that case, supplementation with good quality vitamins and minerals becomes vital.
Step 4: Recognize
Where you Need Help and Ask For It
This step can be hard for many people. After all, as adults, we’re supposed to be self-sufficient, right? However, consider this: Many highly successful people have help. Athletes have health and fitness coaches; musicians have teachers; many business owners have mentors. And they often credit their success to that support and guidance.
The real strength is in identifying the areas of your life that feel out of control or could be better, and admitting that you could do with a helping hand. Then finding the right person to guide you in that area.
A good first step is to book a thorough review of your health and wellness status with your Naturopathic Doctor. We’re here to help you better understand where these feelings of overwhelm and troublesome symptoms are coming from. We’ll give you the tools that you need to find balance again. We can also direct you to the other healthcare practitioners that would be most beneficial for you.
Functional testing is available to remove the guesswork. Tests identify any possible underlying physical issues, such as hormonal imbalances. This holistic approach allows us to support you with an effective plan of action for your health and well-being that’s tailored specifically to you.
If you are ready to dive deeper into your health and rebalance your life, give us a call at 416-481-0222!
Are you enjoying the final stretch of 2018? It’s a fantastic and fun time of the year. Unfortunately, it’s also a difficult period for maintaining healthy habits. Check out our wellness professionals’ list of the top 10 ways to stay healthy and happy over the holiday season.
Re-frame your holiday expectations
Do you think of the holidays as an exhausting test of your endurance? Are holiday treats evil temptations to be resisted with all available willpower? Do you strive to find the perfect gift for everyone? This line of thinking transforms the wonder of the season into a giant stressor. Many patients come into the office at this time of the year showing signs of anxiety and tension. In fact, one study found that 90 percent of adults feel stressed over the holidays. Isn’t thissupposed to be a joyous time?
This tension may be at least partly attributed to the fact that many of us simply have more to do at this time of the year. Because we have more tasks to keep track of (even if those tasks are fun -parties, buying gifts, and other enjoyable things), our prefrontal cortex (in our brain) is overtaxed. This can affect our memory and overall ability to cope. Many feel overwhelmed by it all. Add in the extra pressure of maintaining a perfect diet and workout schedule, and you have a recipe for sleep problems, digestive difficulties, and tense muscles. All of which can add to our stress. And when we’re stressed, we tend to overeat. This is why holiday stress can create a vicious cycle of guilt.
Reframing our expectation that we need to have a “perfect” holiday while staying disciplined can end the frustration. So don’t beatyourself up if everything doesn’t go as planned. In the long run,our happiest memories are sometimes the ones when things didn’t goas planned. It certainly makes for the best stories! Letting go ofexpectations of perfection (from ourselves and others) willultimately help our health and relationships.
If you get together with family or friends in the next weeks, why not introduce a low-tech way to have some old-fashioned fun by playing board games? Board games can also offer cognitive benefits – not that you need an excuse to start rolling the dice.
One of our favourite family traditions i to add some new board games to our stash. While the kids are off school, and work schedules have slowed down, we take advantage of the opportunity to try some new ones. Our most recent favourite is called Forbidden Island. It’s a cooperative game that requires us to strategize and play together to get us all off of the island with the loot. If you want to try before you buy, an excellent way to do so is through a board game café. Forces of Nature had our last staff get-together at one and a great time was had by all.
Mindfulness practice has obvious benefits when we’re extremely busy. Even if you’re not a regular meditator, just five minutes a day of meditation can help you cope with holiday stress.
Try this: once or twice per day, take 5 deep breaths, all the way into your belly and all the way out. Breathe in for a count of 4, hold your breath for a count of 7 and breathe out for a count of 8. And why not share the love? Suggest a short meditation before bed each night with your partner and/or your kids. It can set the tone for a relaxing sleep and a peaceful holiday celebration. Studies show that group meditation can have powerful results. Instilling healthy practices as a family can have lasting health benefits for everyone.
Fitting in some exercise can be easier when you include physical activities with loved ones. Snowshoeing, a snowball fight, making snowmen or an igloo, a winter hike, and skating are some fun options. If you’re not a cold-weather person, try bowling or a trip to the pool or indoor waterpark. You may not end up with six-pack abs, but might start a new holiday tradition. Suggesting fun physical activities for social gatherings also helps take the focus off food and drink.
Personally, I cooked up some Calendula salve and Calendula oil to deliver to our office’s neighbours this year. It’s really actually pretty simple and Calendula is one of my favourite healing herbs. Calendula oil has anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, and anti-bacterial properties. It’s also used as an antiseptic. You could use this for diaper rash, scrapes, scratches, razor burn, sores, blisters, bruises, mild burns, hot spots, insect bites and dry skin areas.
Here’s my secret Calendula salve recipe: This recipe makes 4 cups of Calendula oil. You can use the oil topically as is or use the oil to make a salve. Take ¼ pound of dried Calendula flowers and put it in your slow cooker. Pour 1.5 litres of grapeseed oil over the Calendula. Turn the slow cooker on low. Let it cook for 1-3 hours. Do not overdo it. More cooking is not better. Strain the oil through a strainer and cheesecloth.
To make the salve, I took 3 cups of the Calendula oil and put it in the top pot of a double boiler with water underneath. I added 1.5 cups of beeswax pellets and stirred these together just until the beeswax was fully melted. This will solidify quickly, so you want to have tins already prepared to pour the wax/oil combination into. 3 cups of Calendula oil plus 1.5 cups of beeswax made 24 – 50 ml tins of calendula salve. You probably don’t need that much, but hey, maybe you want to make Calendula salve for everyone in the family.
When you’re thinking about ways to keep your body healthy over the holidays, don’t forget that the planet deserves some love too. It’s easy to have a green holiday season (even if it’s snowing). Use recycled wrapping paper, serve food on real plates (not paper), and consider turning the heat down a degree or two for large gatherings (maybe you’ll encourage guests to bring out their tacky holiday sweaters). To conserve electricity, use LED lights only, and defrost your freezer before you load it up with holiday baking. Think about gifting experiences or donations to worthy causes rather than “stuff” that just ends up in a landfill.
Learn to say no
This is a tough one for many patients who come to our office. However sometimes refusing a social invitation ora request to work extra is the healthiest choice for everyone involved. If you find it hard to turn down an invitation or request, remember that you don’t have to apologize. Decline right away and resist the urge to make up an elaborate excuse. Suggest an alternative activity or a later date – but only if you really want to.
Keep your gut healthy
Sugar-laden holiday treats, cocktails and parties galore can really put a damper on your gut health. Extra sugar lowers your immune system and can lead to an imbalance of healthy bacteria in your gut. As insurance, you can takea high-quality probiotic and some digestive enzymes prior to meals. This gives your gut a healthy boost and some assistance dealing withheavier meals than you may be used to.
Start some healthy food traditions
The internet is bursting with healthy holiday recipes. Some of your seasonal favourites may have been re-worked into a healthier alternative. Think about your loved ones’ food preferences and find some yummy dishes to bring to gatherings. For example, here are some outstanding vegan holiday dishes: https://minimalistbaker.com/christmas-recipe-roundup/. Other guests might thank you for providing an alternative to Aunt Betty’s fruitcake! Try replacing carb-heavy side dishes with healthy ones like rutabaga and carrot mash or creamy butternut squash and thyme! Remember it’s OK to say no or have just a spoon or two of your favourites.
The holidays don’t always go as planned. Sometimes we have to go to work instead of making family dinners. Sometimes we miss people who are no longer in our lives. Family gatherings can make their absence that much more poignant. It’s also quite normal to experience sadness at this time of the year. Acknowledge your feelings and be gentle with yourself. Take some time to think of the good things (even if they’re not always picture-perfect). Grateful people experience better sleep, more optimism, and improved relationships. And we could all use a bit of that at this time of the year.
You know you’re having a great day when you feel good and you can easily accomplish the tasks at hand.
Do you bounce out of bed in the morning? Sing in the shower? Do you need that extra cup of joe at 3 pm? Do you have the energy to play games with the kids after dinner?
Now, how often do you feel like that? More importantly, do you remember the last time you felt that way? It’s normal to have periods where life is so busy that our energy has to be directed to specific tasks, where we might feel overtaxed. If you’ve been feeling lackluster for a long period of time and can’t seem to get out of that funk, it’s time to address your energy levels more proactively. Try exploring these tried and true tips for preserving and boosting your energy levels.
Breathe for Energy
While it is a common reaction to stress, shallow breathing prevents the body from receiving enough oxygen and that quickly depletes your body of energy. You may not even notice that your breathing has become quick or shallow until you’re already anxious and exhausted. The trick is to be mindful about your breathing every day so that you can recognize and respond appropriately when you need to.
One powerful and simple breathing technique we recommend is:
Sit down with both feet on the floor. Close your eyes, and press the tip of your tongue against the ridge behind your upper teeth. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a soft sighing sound. Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose for a count of four. Hold your breath for a count of seven, and then exhale through your mouth for a count of eight. Repeat for a total of four breaths. If you’re having trouble sleeping this breathing technique can also help you relax and fall asleep.
Short High-Intensity Exercise
Ideally, about a half hour of exercise, three times a week can help you increase your energy and motivation. The best kind of activity for revving up your energy is short bursts of high-intensity movement. You could take a HIIT class that focuses on interspersing bursts of cardio and strength training, do some jumping jacks beside your desk or you decide to get outside on your lunch break for a brisk walk, swinging your arms and moving vigorously. Bursts of exertion will help you rev up your engine and keep you going for the rest of the day. Extra points if these activities happen outside. You get additional energy boosting effects from being in nature and getting healthy doses of sunshine! Exercise increases blood flow which will deliver more oxygen and nutrients to your body and your brain cells, giving you more energy.
Your body is about 60% water so if you’re dehydrated your body won’t be able to function as well as it should. Headaches, lethargy, dry mouth, irritability, these are all signs that you need to hydrate. When your body is hydrated, your blood can more easily carry oxygen and nutrients to where they need to be and that results in an energy boost.
Increase Your B12
B-vitamins are also known as the “happy” and “energy” vitamins for their ability to convert dietary nutrients into chemicals that the body can use for energy. While your body needs a few different varieties of B vitamins, one that is especially tied to good energy is vitamin B12. Exhaustion, pallor, anemia, feeling low and tired can all be indicators of low levels of vitamin B12. B12 is primarily found in animal-based foods like meat, dairy, and eggs, but is also available in much smaller amounts in plant foods like mushrooms. Be sure that you’re eating a diet rich in a wide variety of B12-rich foods! For those with severe B12 deficiency, vitamin B12 supplements are vital because if left uncorrected, vitamin B12 deficiency can cause permanent nerve damage.
Increase Blood Oxygen
Bet you didn’t realize that all of the previous four suggestions have one thing in common! They all positively affect your energy by pumping more oxygen into your body. Well-oxygenated blood feeds your body better, helps us think more clearly, and can greatly diminish fatigue and exhaustion. Want another way to help your body get the oxygen it needs? Add fresh plants to your home and office. Plants feed off of the carbon dioxide we exhale and replace it with fresh oxygen in the air. So, while you’re taking time to smell the flowers, take some time to sniff the plants as well. You just might find you’re breathing easier and feeling more lively too!
Consume More CoQ10
Coenzyme Q10 is a substance found in many foods, also known as ubiquinone, because it’s ubiquitous (found everywhere). CoQ10 helps the energy-producing organelles called mitochondria in each of your cells to work normally. As we age, our mitochondria diminish in number and can be damaged by environmental pollutants. Foods that are particularly rich in CoQ10 include organ meats like heart, liver and kidneys, as well as beef, sardines, and mackerel.
Avoid Common Food Sensitivities
If you’re waking up feeling exhausted every morning, despite getting at least 7-8 hours of solid sleep, it may be that your immune system is busy fighting your lunch or dinner from the day before. Food sensitivities can be exhausting because your immune system is doing battle with food, just like it would be battling a virus or bacteria. An elimination diet of some common food sensitivities like dairy and gluten may be warranted, especially if you are also suffering from digestive problems.
Sometimes the only symptom people have of a seasonal or environmental allergy is fatigue. If other causes of fatigue have been ruled out and your tiredness happens to coincide with peak pollen seasons like spring and late summer, it may be a sign of seasonal allergies.
Serious Causes of Fatigue
There are a number of disease states that can present as low energy or fatigue. Iron deficiency anemia, hypothyroidism, multiple sclerosis, lupus, Lyme disease and even cancer can exhibit fatigue as a symptom. If you are concerned, please see your doctor for appropriate testing and diagnosis of the cause of your fatigue.
Ask your doctor to check your thyroid, iron and vitamin B12 levels through blood tests to rule out these common causes of fatigue.
Maintaining healthy energy levels can be challenging when you are faced with the stresses of everyday life, but these tips can help you rev up your engine and keep you humming a happy tune all day long. If you still find that your energy levels seem lower than usual, or you are having difficulty sustaining your energy levels over time, you may need a closer look at what is going on and we are here to help. Book an appointment to visit our clinic and let’s help you get back to your energetic self. Call us at 416-481-0222 or email Info@ForcesofNature.ca.
As I’m leaving on Wednesday to somewhere warm, I’m thinking about keeping my son and I healthy while we’re away and how we can avoid getting sick. With winter in full swing, our minds tend to wander to warmer climates and the opportunity to travel to them. While we often seek out sunny destinations for a brief reprieve during these colder months, if you’re one of those people who always gets sick when you travel then that can create a serious pause in the fun. While we look forward to being whisked away to somewhere new, we often forget that drastic shifts in climate can affect our immune systems. New environments also hold a variety of unexpected or previously unencountered microbes, and experimenting with local cuisines can play roulette with our digestive systems.
In spite of all of this, we love to travel too! That’s why we’ve developed a list of the most important precautions to take prior to taking off for your next exotic destination so you can avoid getting sick and get the most out of your upcoming vacation!
Taking a daily multivitamin to ensure you’re getting the vitamins and minerals you need for optimal health is always a good idea, but it’s extra important when you’re preparing for a trip that could include flying and staying in various foreign accommodations. Be sure to include Zinc, B-complex, Vitamin C, and Vitamin D3 to strengthen your immune system and avoid getting sick before, during and after your trip.
Making sure you’re well-hydrated is critical to prepare for your trip, as dehydration is a major factor in travel. Since travel often involves conditions such as traveling in dry, pressurized airplanes, being in hot or arid climates, or exerting more energy than usual; we need to ensure that our hydration levels are optimized to maintain healthy bodily functions. When the flight attendant asks for your beverage order take it as a signal to have a glass of water and avoid those dehydrating cups of coffee or glasses of wine. And – never be shy to ask for refills. If anyone knows in-flight dehydration, it’s the cabin crew!
It’s not just fun to experience new places, travel can be so exciting that it can send your body into high gear. Think for a moment about your last vacation. How many new situations, thrilling moments, and unexpected occurrences did you experience? While you worked through each of them, your body’s coping mechanisms were in full effect, helping you to experience joy, exhilaration, and stress – all heightened by brand new circumstances. When you consider it that way, it’s clear that everything including your digestive system, immunity, circadian rhythm, and even your adrenal glands are on active duty even though you are on vacation. Help your body to manage these ups and downs with these natural supplements to avoid getting sick:
Taking an adaptogen like reishi, ashwagandha, and holy basilcan help fight stress, anxiety, and fatigue. Begin taking your preferred adaptogen at least a week before you travel. Natural supplements take time to build in order to reach peak efficacy.
Antimicrobials are proven pathogen killers that can assist your digestive and immune systems in warding off new strains of bacteria to which your body might not be accustomed. Sometimes our best efforts to avoid foods like washed salads and raw vegetables that cause common stomach bugs still don’t keep us safe. In that case, it’s good to know you can start early and ward off traveler’s tummy and diarrhea with antimicrobials like oil of oregano, grapefruit seed extract and colloidal silver.
Melatonin helps your body rebalance its circadian rhythm, or find homeostasis in its wake and sleep cycle. This is the supplement of choice for fighting jet lag! Most melatonin supplements suggest taking the dose before going to bed in your new destination, and to do so for a couple of days until you feel you’ve adapted. Good sleep is so important to avoid getting sick!
Probiotics we talk about the benefits of these good bacteria often – and for good reasons! Keeping your gut flora nice and strong is of extra importance when traveling since there are many instances when you could encounter new or different foods and beverages. Even a seemingly innocent salad could harbor a surprise when eaten in a foreign land, since bacteria in water differs greatly around the world, as do food care standards! Help your gut to be as healthy as possible prior to and during your trip by supplementing with a great probiotic.
Ginger is world renowned for easing nausea, stomach upset, indigestion, and even motion sickness. Sometimes there’s no need to try over-the-counter medications when a good natural supplement can also do an effective job. Keep some natural ginger chews with you at all times for when those unforeseen moments strike.
What to Put in a Travel First Aid Kit
A classic first aid kit is always welcome when going away. You can purchase a travel sized one at any pharmacy or make your own. We always include:
Adhesive bandages (multiple sizes) and tape
Alcohol-based hand sanitizer (remember it has to be less than 100 ml if you take it in your carry-on)
Antiseptic wound cleanser (like alcohol or iodine pads, again less than 100 ml)
Blister pads or moleskin
Safety pins and scissors
Whether you’re going surfing or snowboarding or something in between, you always need to protect your skin from sun exposure. The reflective glare from sea and snow can make your skin more prone to burns which not only make your trip less enjoyable but it can also be dangerous in the long run. Look for natural ingredients such as zinc oxide which is a mineral used to create a physical block from the sun. Additional ingredients such as vitamin E or C are also nice ways of giving your skin a nice boost of topical antioxidants. With sunscreen, it needs to be less than 100 ml if you are taking it in your carry-on luggage, otherwise, it will have to go in a checked bag.
Sunstroke or Heat Stroke
Remember that prolonged exposure to high temperature can lead to heat stroke or sunstroke. Avoid getting sick with heat stroke by limiting your time in the sun, particularly during peak hours between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. The symptoms of sunstroke include a throbbing headache, dizziness or light-headedness, a lack of sweating despite the heat, red, hot, and dry skin, muscle weakness or cramps, nausea and vomiting, rapid heartbeat, and rapid, shallow breathing. Sunstroke is a medical emergency and you should call 911 if you suspect that you or someone you know has it. Meanwhile, cooling methods like cool clothes, cool bath or ice packs can help to restore normal body temperature while medical care arrives.
If you’re taking any prescription medication, please be sure to have enough for the duration of your trip, plus a couple of extra doses, in case of unanticipated travel changes. Always make sure that your prescriptions are in labeled bottles and that you also have a doctor’s note if necessary, as some medications might not be universally understood or accepted in different countries. You might also consider bringing a valid prescription for a refill of your medication as a “just in case” measure.
Travel is exciting and has so many benefits from providing a well-deserved break from routine to exploring history and learning about different cultures to taking on new challenges and building new skills. We want you to get the very most out of your adventures, no matter how relaxed or extreme they might be.
If you’re traveling soon and want to review how to best prepare you and your family before heading away, please call or email us at 416-481-0222 or Info@ForcesofNature.ca and book an appointment. Together we can make sure that you’re ready for all the excitement that lies ahead in good health!
Here’s to your next adventure!
The Practice Team at Forces of Nature Wellness Clinic
Palatty PL, Haniadka R, Valder B, Arora R, Baliga MS. Ginger in the prevention of nausea and vomiting: a review. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2013;53(7):659-69. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2011.553751.
Beautiful, healthy, glowing skin on your face and body – is there anyone who doesn’t want that? A balanced complexion isn’t just beautiful, it can also signify the state of your health, youthfulness, even your happiness or stress level. Of course, these messages are happening on a subconscious level, but they are so pervasively accepted, that taking care of your skin is a drive that has become a billion dollar industry – all working from the outside in, and not usually working as well as we are lead to believe.
Achieving truly healthy skin isn’t as simple as buying expensive, chemical-filled creams and committing to invasive procedures. In fact, the key to getting what you want on the outside isn’t on the outside at all! Getting the healthy happy skin you’ve always wanted starts by focusing on the inside out!
Our skin is our largest organ and its health is threatened all the time. Between exposure to the elements, stress, pollution, poor nutrition, dry air and of course, natural aging, our skin is constantly fighting for its health.
So how can we maintain healthy, glowing skin when the odds are stacked against us? By giving our skin the nourishment, attention and care it so rightly deserves.
5 of the Best Dry Skin Remedies for Healthier Skin Everywhere
Reduce inflammatory foods
Inflammation isn’t just the root of disease, it can also be the root of many skin ailments including acne, eczema, and psoriasis. Just as reducing inflammatory foods can positively affect your other systems, the effect of reducing inflammatory foods can be read on the surface of your skin! Try removing common inflammatory foods for at least 4 weeks to start to see an improvement in your skin’s health.
Remove these Inflammatory Foods (that make skin dry and flaky)
Best Dry Skin Foods that Fight Inflammation (to reduce skin redness and dryness)
Dairy (particularly cow’s milk and cheeses)
Processed foods and beverages
Dark, leafy greens
Olive, avocado, and coconut oil
Increase your water intake
We know that water is essential to helping our bodies function best, but did you know that it is the best way to ensure that nutrients are delivered effectively, and toxins are flushed out? Especially if you’re experiencing dry skin conditions, it’s important to make sure that you’re helping your body to rid itself of toxic residues and inflammatory chemicals that could be causing these symptoms.
Start your day with a glass of water first thing and make sure that you’re getting enough hydration every day by eating and drinking adequate amounts. Remember that there’s water present in everything you eat and drink, especially if you’re juicing or consuming lots of fruit and veggies. Drink water whenever you feel a thirst coming on. In spite of the classic “Drink 8, 8-ounce glasses” per day advice, there’s really no magic amount of water everyone needs to consume per day to stay hydrated. But, new research suggests that women could safely consume a total of approximately 2.7 litres (91 ounces) of water from all beverages and foods each day and that men could safely drink about 3.7 litres (125 ounces) daily.
Collagen is what gives your skin support and firmness, and most of us are deficient in collagen! Daily collagen consumption will help to maintain internal collagen levels. Try bone broth soup made with a high collagen base like chicken feet, or add some hydrolyzed collagen powder in your smoothie! Increasing your intake of vitamin C can help your body to make more collagen.
As much as we can influence our skin health from the inside out, you can – and you should – also take care of your largest organ from the outside in too. That way you can meet in the middle, so to speak. Hyaluronic acid is an incredible hydrophilic (water-loving) chemical that is found naturally in our bodies, particularly in our eyes and joints. Its moisturizing, hydrating properties are why it’s so often used to treat arthritis, cataracts, and even dry eyes. Because of this, hyaluronic acid is also one of the best dry skin treatments. Here’s why:
As we age, our skin’s ability to preserve moisture slows down, and we start to lose firmness, elasticity, and fullness. Hyaluronic acid has an incredible ability to replenish the moisture we lose, helping skin to look and feel softer, smoother, and glowy because of is super hydration effects.
Because it’s one of the most studied and best dry skin ingredients, you can find many topical skin care products and anti-aging treatments that feature hyaluronic acid. Along with wearing a suitable SPF, topical hyaluronic acid is a fantastic way to heal your skin from the outside in while you increase your glowing health from the inside out.
Plain old coconut oil is one of our favourite moisturisers to reduce inflammation and help your skin retain moisture. Plus it’s edible so you’re not introducing anything toxic into your system.
The Best Natural Skin Care Products
While it’s important to have a good skincare regimen, it’s also important to know what’s in the products you put on your face. Seek out quality ingredients that will enhance your health and not add a toxic burden to your system. We like organic skin care lines like Ilya, Eminence, and natural Canadian skincare brands like Buck Naked, and Living Libations. There are lots of good natural care products for your skin, please choose wisely. The Environmental Working Group website is a good resource for researching ingredients and their safety or toxicity.
Now that you’re ready to take care of your largest organ from the inside out and the outside in, there’s one more thing – and that’s enjoying the self-care process of maintaining beautiful, healthy skin! After all, skin care should be pampering as well as effective. Here’s one of our favourite DIY masks to help you on your journey to your most healthy skin:
Anti-Inflammatory, Anti-acne Mask to soothe redness and calm reactive skin:
1/4 cup whole grain oats
2 tablespoons warm water
1 teaspoon honey
Pinch ground turmeric
Blend together in a blender and spread on cleansed skin. Leave on for 15-20 mins rinse off with warm and then cool water followed by a natural lotion or pure coconut oil.
New Year’s resolutions date back to ancient Rome and the mythical King Janus, from whose name January derives. Janus became a symbol for resolutions because he had two faces and could look simultaneously back on the past and look forward to the future. This January, look back on the past to see what you could do better, then look forward to a new and improved future.
Here are some pointers to help you keep your fitness resolutions in 2017:
Set attainable goals and have realistic expectations. If you’re new to exercise, planning to run a marathon may be a bit too ambitious.
Find the sweet spot of balance between too much exercise and too little. What that means is that you want to find the balance between where you get the benefits of exercise without overdoing and winding up injured or burning yourself out.
Make a resolution along with a friend or spouse. Research shows that having someone you’re accountable to can almost triple your likelihood of sticking with exercise.
One study showed that motivation to be physically active was higher when sports – instead of just exercise – were involved. Sports can make exercise less like drudgery and more like fun. Plus there’s an added social benefit to team sports.
Having a goal in mind helps. For example, register for a 5 km run then train to achieve it or keep working on achieving your next belt in martial arts.
Get the resources you need to achieve your goals, whether it’s a day planner, gym membership, group classes, fitness tracker app or a personal trainer to keep you in line.
Establish a routine that you enjoy and stick to it. Consistency is key with exercise. If your work requires you to travel, do some kind of exercise that is portable like walking, running or stay in hotels that have a fitness room.
First some definitions: Common: Occurring or happening regularly or frequently. Normal: Healthy, not sick or ill.
Here’s why I’m making this distinction. I often have patients comment that “oh, I have to take Advil the first two days of my period every month, but that’s normal”. Or “I have a bowel movement every day or two, but that’s normal”. I would like to point out that, neither of the above is normal, common yes, but not normal. We commonly make assumptions about something that we’ve been living with for a long time or have always had, or our mothers always had, or our best friend has too, is “normal”. Sometimes we need to examine these assumptions in order to move forward and achieve better health. Here’s a brief list of some things that I find are common symptoms but not at all normal:
Common Symptoms Constipation i.e. bowel movements less than 1-3 times per day Headaches with change in weather, stress, PMS Menstrual cramping PMS Hot flashes, night sweats, depression at menopause Heartburn or the need to take antacids Exhaustion when you get home from work Cravings for salt and/or sugar Up 1-3 times per night to the washroom Back pain on waking
Normal Bowel movements 1-3 times per day, every day, typically after eating No headaches or excess muscle tension Pain-free periods Other than the date, no sign that your period is due At menopause your periods just stop No heartburn or antacids Energy to be active in the evening until at least 8 p.m. No food cravings No night waking or need to urinate at night Free and easy movement any time of day
I could go on, but you get the picture. As a society we make assumptions about what is normal based on what everyone has or does, but true health requires ongoing assessment of where we are at and where we would like to be and then making use of all the tools at our disposal to get there.