Hair Loss? Check your hormones!

woman with a full head of healthy hair
Want a full head of healthy hair?

Luscious locks. Flowing tresses. Who doesn’t want to have a full head of shiny, gorgeous hair? Society certainly views beautiful hair as a symbol of youth and beauty.

However, particularly as we age, many of us find that the soft, full hair we may have taken for granted in our younger days starts to fade and becomes thinner and more brittle. These changes happen to both men’s hair and women’s hair.

How Much Hair Loss is Normal?

Did you know that it is considered normal to lose up to 100 hairs per day? While this seems like a lot, the greater concern is to lose this much hair and not have enough regrowth of new hair.

Is Hair Loss Permanent?

Whether hair loss is permanent or temporary depends on the cause of hair loss. Where hair loss is most likely to be permanent is if the scalp is scarred, as in scarring alopecia. If the root cause of hair loss is found and addressed, hair loss can be reversed in most cases. Hair loss treatments like minoxidil are only temporary measures that result in hair loss once they are discontinued because they are not fixing the root cause, only masking it.

As You Age, So Does Your Hair

Of course, it makes sense that our hair is damaged as we age. Your hair only grows less than half an inch every month. Because hair grows so slowly, if your hair is long, the hair at the ends experiences years of damage from hair treatments and the elements. Your hair is also affected by hormonal changes in our bodies. Hormones play a role in hair loss or growth, fine hair, changes in texture, and the presence or absence of those pesky grey hairs!

Searching For The Fountain Of Youth for Your Hair

What’s the solution for thinning hair? The beauty industry tells us the secret to beautiful hair is finding the right “products.” It’s definitely possible to spend hundreds of dollars trying to find something that works.

However, no matter how many shampoo reviews you read, you can only find so much hair magic in a bottle. In fact, many shampoos and other hair products actually damage your hair because they contain harmful chemicals.

The truth is that a full head of beautiful hair starts from within. As a result, a good diet for healthy hair is far more important than topical remedies for hair.

How to Have Stronger, Fuller, Faster-Growing Hair

To fully understand the impact of diet and lifestyle choices on your hair, it helps to know more about your hair’s composition. What is hair made from anyway? The main building blocks that give your hair its strength and structure are a protein known as keratin, and a B-family vitamin called biotin. In terms of molecular composition, your hair is made up of 45% carbon, 28% oxygen, 15% nitrogen, 7% hydrogen and 5% sulfur.

Keratin

Hair strands are composed of a fibrous protein called keratin. In fact, so are your finger and toenails. One of the primary components of keratin is choline. Choline is an essential vitamin-like nutrient with many different roles in your body. It is found in a variety of foods such as eggs, salmon and cauliflower.

What About Doing Keratin Treatments?

There is no evidence that keratin treatments are an effective means of improving hair texture or quality, at least not over the long term. In fact, these products often contain chemicals, like formaldehyde, that are harmful.

Biotin

Vitamin B7, also known as biotin, contributes to the formation of keratin. Because of this relationship, it’s not surprising that scientists have found that being deficient in biotin leads to hair loss. In fact, one study found that supplementing with biotin helps to slow hair fall in women with thinning hair, leading to fuller, shinier hair as well as smoother skin after 6 months. Deficiency of biotin has also been linked with inflammation that adversely affects your scalp, and therefore also your hair.

The Gut Health Connection To Good Hair

Interestingly, scientists have also found that the amount of bad bacteria in our gut affects the formation of biotin. That means that beautiful hair isn’t necessarily as simple as making sure that you have consumed enough biotin. Gut bacteria also play a role in hormone balance. Your microbiome, digestion, and absorption need to be right for great hair too.

Factors that positively influence your gut bacteria, and in turn improve your biotin production, include managing your stress levels, getting good sleep, regular exercise, keeping sugar and refined carbs in check and ensuring your nutrition is balanced.

Common Causes of Hair Loss

The following are common reasons why your hair may be falling out:

  1. Iron deficiency or low iron
  2. Hypothyroidism or low thyroid function
  3. Androgenetic Alopecia, also known as male or female pattern hair loss
  4. Alopecia Areata, this is patchy balding caused by autoimmune disease
  5. Lupus or other autoimmune diseases
  6. Post-partum, losing hair after having a baby is quite common. This is caused by the sudden change in hormones that accompanies childbirth triggering sudden hair loss.
  7. Telogen effluvium that is often triggered by stress, iron deficiency or hypothyroidism.

Top Tips For Healthy Hair

Now that you have a clearer understanding of the factors behind healthy hair, how can you prevent hair loss, and overcome the effects of aging and environmental damage? Check out these natural remedies and diet changes to reverse hair fall, fine or thinning hair and damaged hair.

Hormone Balance and Hair

Cortisol affects hair health, but it isn’t the only hormone that has an impact. If you’re experiencing hair loss or changes to hair texture, you should do thorough hormone testing.

For example, low levels of the thyroid hormone T4 indicate stress or a malnourished thyroid. One of the thyroid’s “lesser” jobs is to regulate hair growth. However, in times of stress your body will focus all of your thyroid’s energies on more vital functions such as regulating your body’s temperature and metabolism. Hence, thinning hair is one of many possible symptoms of low thyroid function.

Low estrogen, which may be a sign of perimenopause or other hormonal imbalances, also leads to hair troubles. While slower growth of pubic and underarm hair might easily go unnoticed, an estrogen imbalance means that androgens or male hormones have a stronger effect on hair follicles. This leads to thinning hair on your head, and even those unsightly, rogue chin hairs. Supporting the healthy function of the endocrine or hormone-producing system helps to maintain optimal levels of estrogen for hair growth.

These are just a few reasons why the best start to improving your hair’s texture and fullness begins with testing to see where your hormonal levels are. Once we have all of the information, we then ensure that the appropriate hormones are balanced naturally.

Make sure that you consume enough biotin

Good food sources of biotin for hair include:

  • Liver
  • Salmon
  • Carrots
  • Bananas
  • Chicken
  • Nuts

As an added bonus, biotin consumption will also strengthen your nails!

Don’t smoke

Smoking increases the speed at which your body breaks down and excretes biotin, reducing the amount of biotin in your blood and leading to weaker hair and nail growth.

Eat plenty of protein

This may seem like a no-brainer since hair is mainly composed of protein. Keep in mind that your protein sources don’t have to be meat-based. The protein found in plant sources is just as effective.

In addition to biotin, the amino acid cysteine assists in the formation of keratin. Good sources of cysteine include garlic, onions, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, oats, sprouted lentils and eggs.

Watch your mineral intake

One of the many roles of minerals in your body is growth. Iron and zinc in particular contribute to keratin formation which helps your hair to grow strong.

Zinc also protects your hair from sun damage just as zinc oxide in sunscreens protects your skin from sunburn. Zinc helps your body reduce excess insulin too. Good sources of zinc include shellfish, beans, egg yolks, beef and pumpkin seeds.

Reduce your sugar consumption

When you eat a lot of sugar or carbs, your blood sugar rises. In response, your body produces more insulin. This increases androgens such as testosterone and dihydrotestosterone or DHT, that have a shrinking effect on your hair follicles. That means that your hair starts growing finer, falls out more easily or becomes more brittle.

Avoid high-mercury foods

Consumption of food with high levels of mercury has been linked to hair loss. Certain fish like tuna, swordfish, and shark all contain high levels of mercury. Large fish like these consume smaller fish. In the process, they concentrate toxins like mercury that the smaller fish have been exposed to. Smaller fish like mackerel, herring, and sardines are safer to eat and contain Omega 3 fatty acids that help keep your hair healthy and shiny.

Choose hair products carefully

Many shampoos, conditioners, and styling products contain ingredients like formaldehyde that are hard on your hair and unhealthy for you. The reality is that many of them don’t address hair problems where they originate, that is, in the protein structure of the hair itself. Instead, they “gloss” over any problems with superficial coatings. Plus, many substances used in hair products are absorbed by your skin, and are linked to cancer. In addition, many are also harmful to the environment. So, avoid products with sulfates, parabens, and silicones. Your hair and the planet will thank you!

Boost your intake of fruits and veggies

To protect your hair, you want to reduce the damage that is caused by free radicals. These are compounds that damage your cells through a process known as oxidative stress. Free radicals are created by environmental factors and your body’s internal processes that are triggered by stress. Vitamin deficiencies cause higher levels of these harmful free radicals.

Free radicals lead to lifeless, gray hair. Antioxidants fight free radicals and restore your hair’s shine. Fruits and vegetables provide the key antioxidants for healthy hair, vitamins A and C, while nuts and seeds provide vitamin E.

Consider collagen supplements

Choline, one of the building blocks of keratin, is found in collagen. Collagen also strengthens the layer of your skin that contains hair follicles. This layer of skin is called the dermis. With a stronger anchor point, hair is less likely to fall out. Collagen is taken as a powdered supplement that is added to smoothies or protein shakes. Collagen is also obtained from bone broth. Another cheap way to get collagen is by using powdered gelatin that is available from the grocery store.

If you’re experiencing issues with your hair, it may be time to test your hormones and make sure your gut health is supporting your hair goals not impeding them!

Give our office us a call at 416-481-0222 or book an appointment online here, we are happy to help.

Authored by Dr Pamela Frank, BSc(Hons), Naturopathic Doctor

Hair Research:

https://academic.oup.com/jnci/article/109/9/djx202/4102324

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4428712/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3509882/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27538002

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4201279/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4174066/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=28813664

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3509882/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4428712/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=27554239

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23725308

Are You Happy?

Did You Know You Have a Baseline Level of Happiness?

It might seem like a simple question, but for many people, happiness feels like an impossible goal. In fact, studies show that only about one in three people consistently identify as “happy.”

If that seems a bit depressing, rest easy. The steps to living a happier life are easy. And no, those steps don’t involve winning the lottery. Believe it or not, most lottery winners have the same level of happiness as they had before hitting the jackpot. Researchers call this the “hedonic treadmill” or “hedonic adaptation”. What it means is that no matter what happens to us, we repeatedly return to a baseline level of happiness. This occurs whether there are positive or negative changes to our circumstances. Crazy right?!

What is Happiness?

Happiness is defined as feeling a sense of joy, well-being, or contentment.

Happiness Comes from Within

The simple truth is that living a happier life starts from within. Becoming happier involves a change in our internal circumstances. That may sound a bit far fetched, but the science of happiness has found consistent patterns in people who live their lives with joy.

What are the Health Benefits of Happiness?

There’s a lot of motivation to become a happy person. In addition to making our days more pleasurable, happiness offers many health benefits, including:

  • Better cardiovascular health through lowering your heart rate and blood pressure
  • Strengthening your immune system
  • Lower levels of the “stress hormone” cortisol
  • A better response to pain

What Makes People Happy?

Research shows that predictors of happiness and well-being include having high-quality social interaction, enjoying a better standard of living, and being satisfied with one’s own health.

Interestingly, a study on whether people equate happiness with social connections like friends, family and love, found that people with lower financial resources do so more than people with greater financial resources.

Another study analysed the association between household income and tendencies to experience 7 positive emotions that are central to happiness: amusement, awe, compassion, contentment, enthusiasm, love, and pride. This study confirmed previous ones showing that income contributes to patterns of attending to oneself versus orienting to others. Higher income was associated with greater feelings of contentment and pride, and with greater amusement. Lower income was associated with more other-oriented feelings of compassion and love, and with greater awe.

The Happiness Checklist

Take a look at this happiness checklist to see the areas of your own life that could provide a happiness boost.

  1. Is your gut healthy and happy?
  2. Are you surrounded by happy people?
  3. Are you connected with nature?
  4. How is your exercise?
  5. Do you get enough rest?
  6. Do you volunteer to help others?
  7. Can you forgive?
  8. Do you practice gratitude?

Is your gut healthy and happy?

When we say happiness starts from within, we mean it literally. More research is finding that our gut bacteria have a profound influence on our moods. Researchers call this dynamic the “gut-brain-axis.” In simple terms, when our gut is inflamed, we experience increased levels of anxiety and depression. That’s because your gut contains microbes that produce substances that control your mood like serotonin. Serotonin is a chemical called a neurotransmitter that helps us to feel happy. More serotonin is produced in your gut than anywhere else in your body, including in your brain. In addition, your gut and your brain are connected by a complex network of nerves. Inflammation in your gut means a great deal of stimulus being sent directly to your brain. It can make it difficult to relax, feel calm and sleep.

Diet Changes for Gut Health and Your Mood

What can you eat to feel happier? Try these 3 steps:

  1. Focus on high-fiber whole foods (broccoli, kale unprocessed grains)
  2. Eat foods with plenty of Omega-3 fats (fish)
  3. Enjoy fermented foods (yogourt, kefir, kim chi, sauerkraut). Fermented foods can positively influence your brain activity!

Are you around other happy people?

You really can catch a good mood. One study found that happiness can go viral. In other words, being around people who are upbeat and feel good about their lives can impact your own happiness levels. The study didn’t just consider the impact of your immediate family’s moods. It also took into account your neighbour’s moods. And being around a happy person has a domino effect. Your own increased happiness then influences those around you, and so on. The whole process is not unlike transmitting a cold – but much healthier!

This viral transmission of happiness may stem from the fact that even if you don’t feel happy, if you force yourself to smile, you will feel happier. Smiling back at those happy people can’t help but make you feel happy.

Positivity breeds positivity!

Do you get a regular dose of Vitamin N (for Nature)?

Spending time in natural environments boosts happiness levels in several ways. In one study, those who were more connected to nature had:

  • a more positive mood
  • greater vitality, and
  • increased life satisfaction

Nature enhances healing and enables growth. Interestingly, the effects of nature are stronger in women than men, and stronger in older adults than their younger counterparts.

Are you moving enough?

You probably know that exercise triggers the release of the feel-good endorphins that improve your mood. However, you may not realize that you don’t have to make a big investment in fitness to reap the benefits. In fact, endorphins can kick in quickly. One study found that it only takes 20 minutes of walking outside to experience a boost in your mood. Exercising outside versus inside, also helps to lower the stress hormone cortisol. High levels of cortisol have been linked to major depression.

Do you get enough rest?

It’s important to note that rest is just as important as exercise. Adequate sleep’s effect on our brain is to help us to focus on the positive. Being sleep-deprived makes us more sensitive to negative emotions. In another study, researchers found that people who don’t get enough sleep recall unpleasant memories much more quickly than people getting enough sleep.

Do you help others?

Acts of kindness are another way that happiness spreads. In other words, by making others happy, you feel happier. Doing something nice for someone else, whether it’s donating to charity, volunteering your time, or simply holding the door for another person, makes us feel better about ourselves. And if you think you’re too busy or too stressed to donate your time, consider this: One study found that 78 percent of people who volunteer say it lowers their stress levels. And in another study, people felt happier after buying something for someone else than they did after treating themselves!

Can you forgive?

Forgiving others may ultimately be a kindness to yourself. By forgiveness, we don’t necessarily mean letting bad behavior slide or turning into a pushover. Instead, focus on letting go of resentment and anger. Those negative emotions are not helping you. They often keep you stuck in the past instead of moving forward. And studies show that a more forgiving attitude leads to multiple physical and emotional benefits.

Are you grateful?

Gratitude for what we have also increases happiness levels. It makes perfect sense if you think about it. For example, if you keep a gratitude journal, you will look for things you’re grateful for to record in it throughout the course of your day. Over time, you’ll find yourself focusing on the positive.

How Can an ND Help with Happiness?

Our naturopathic doctors help people feel happier by:

  1. Balancing hormones. Healthy hormone balance is crucial to having a healthy mood.
  2. Helping you maintain a healthy gut. We are gut health experts. We can balance your microbiome and fix issues like IBS, leaky gut, Candida, SIBO, Crohn’s and colitis.
  3. Lifestyle counselling. Getting you on track with exercise, eating right, sleeping properly and spending time in nature helps you maintain a positive mind-set.
  4. Helping you achieve your health goals. Whatever your health goals are, we help set out a plan to take you there.

How Can a Psychotherapist Help with Happiness?

If you are feeling stuck, making a change, going through a life transition, having guidance and support can make all the difference. A psychotherapist gives you the tools you need to navigate difficult times successfully.

How Can a Massage Therapist, Osteopath, Acupuncturist or Chiropractor help with Happiness?

Well, if you are living with chronic pain, your mood will be negatively affected. In fact, that’s one of the causes of depression. Non-pharmaceutical pain relief from massage therapy, osteopathy or chiropractic does wonders for mood.

How did you do on the checklist? Are you interested in improving your happiness levels? As you can see, living life happily requires a holistic approach. If you’d like to work together for a happier, more fulfilling life, give us a call and let’s do this together. Science and nature are a powerful combination! Call 416-481-0222 to get started today.

5 Best Happiness Quotes

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” 
― Mahatma Gandhi

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” 
― Dr. Seuss

“For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness.” 
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Love is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.” 
― Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land

“Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.” 
― Abraham Lincoln

Sources

https://www.unitedhealthgroup.com/content/dam/UHG/PDF/2013/UNH-Health-Volunteering-Study.pdf

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/10/161005102254.htm

https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Safaria_Triantoro/publication/275025845_Forgivness_Gratitude_and_Happiness_among_College_Students/links/552f3cf00cf2acd38cbbf270.pdf

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5641835/

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0197458005002769\

https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=97848789https://www.bakadesuyo.com/2011/04/how-to-quickly-and-easiy-feel-happier-and-mor/#ixzz2b36XGs00

https://my.happify.com/hd/forgiving-others-is-the-best-thing-you-can-do-for-yourself/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3839572/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29867302

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25249992

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30123175

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30870075

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29251946

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.

Sources:
https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanpub/article/PIIS2468-2667(18)30022-7/fulltext
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2874911/
https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(18)31310-2/fulltext
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27459455
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26286216

Holiday Health: Top 10 Tips

one of our 10 healthy holiday tips

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.

Play games

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.

Stay mindful

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.

Get moving

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.

Cook up some love

Looking for a unique gift idea? Want to stay away from the mall and its atmosphere of seemingly relentless consumerism? Try baking some holiday gifts. For example, put some homemade sweet and spicy holiday almonds into a jar with a beautiful bow. You can find a good recipe here: https://mywholefoodlife.com/2012/11/28/sweet-and-spicy-holiday-almonds/). Or wrap up a box of vegan hazelnut cups. (This recipe is amazing! https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-16557/like-nutella-try-these-vegan-hazelnut-cups.html). You can even start making some natural soaps or salves as gifts. It’s easy, natural and fun!

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.

Go green

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.

Be grateful

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.

Happy New Year from all of us! We look forward to working with you to create a fulfilling and healthy start to 2019.  If you need an acupuncturist, psychotherapist, osteopath, chiropractor, massage therapist, dietitian or naturopath, we have them all here for you.

Sources

http://neuro.hms.harvard.edu/harvard-mahoney-neuroscience-institute/brain-newsletter/and-brain-series/holiday-stress-and-brain
https://www.healio.com/psychiatry/journals/jpn/2017-12-55-12/%7Ba2fc3f63-4c18-455c-a761-5efae89bb9fb%7D/three-simple-mindfulness-practices-to-manage-holiday-stress#x02793695-20171117-01-bibr26
https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/254796
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21075238
https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/napping/page/0/1

Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity: Fact or Fiction

sunset pic with the symptoms of electromagnetic hypersensitivity or EHS

Can Your WiFi Really Make You Sick?

Understanding the effects of Electromagnetic Radiation (EMR) and Radiofrequency Radiation (RF) on Your Health

Our health is directly affected by a variety of things we cannot see but we know to exist. We don’t see the air, but oxygen is essential to human life. We cannot see UV rays, but we can certainly feel their effects when we get a sunburn. While we cannot see electromagnetic radiation (EMR) or electromagnetic fields (EMF), a growing number of people are reporting symptoms that appear to be caused by electrical hypersensitivity (EHS). Much like how pollen doesn’t cause everyone to have allergy symptoms, EMR doesn’t cause everyone to have EHS. And like how some individuals will have intense seasonal allergies while others won’t, some will have severe EHS symptoms, while others won’t. Data suggests that about 3% of the population are sensitive to EMR. What makes these people more sensitive to EMR? That’s a good question.

Over the last 20 years, physicians with the American Academy of Environmental Medicine have been seeing patients whose symptoms appeared to be triggered by “dirty electricity”. The term dirty electricity refers to the electromagnetic energy flowing along a conductor that deviates from a pure 50/60 Hertz sine wave and has both harmonic and transient properties. It is more correctly termed high-frequency voltage transients (HFVT). Electromagnetic radiation may come from power lines, televisions, computers, and other electrical devices. The health impact of dirty electricity was first discovered in the 1950’s. In rural areas, the behaviour and feeding patterns of animals were negatively affected by stray voltage caused by poor grounding and lack of utility infrastructure.

Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity Symptoms

Humans suffering from EHS might experience symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, chronic fatigue, depression, memory loss and confusion.
Now, more than ever, we are living in a world of luxuries that depend heavily on electricity and have the potential to generate electrical pollutants. We have phones in our pockets, microwaves in our kitchens, and satellite systems in our cars. As science attempts to keep up with the exponential increase in the use of technology, we are only beginning to comprehend the effects that RF waves may have on our health.

What is Radiofrequency Radiation?

The electromagnetic wave spectrum is comprised of two parts: ionizing radiation and non-ionizing radiation. Ionizing radiation includes X-rays and ultraviolet rays, whereas non-ionizing radiation includes radiofrequency (RF), visible light and microwaves. Radiofrequency radiation is the transfer of energy by radio waves. RF EMR is non-ionising radiation, meaning that it has insufficient energy to break chemical bonds or remove electrons (ionisation). RF EMR lies in the frequency range between 3 kilohertz (kHz) to 300 gigahertz (Ghz). For years we have focused on the negative impact of ionizing radiation, but now we are starting to understand that there may be a negative impact from non-ionizing radiation or radiofrequency.

Radiofrequency waves are what allow you to borrow your neighbour’s WiFi while you’re waiting for the service guy to come. Without the need for wires, RF has the power to pass through walls and go just about anywhere, that includes inside our body. In this digital age, many items that we rely upon can be a source of radiofrequency radiation. Our cell phones might seem obvious, but what about our Smart Meters, our children’s gaming systems, the baby monitor and cordless phones? They all use wireless communication, surrounding us in a constant invisible fog of electrosmog.

What is Electrosmog?

According to NASA: “As you sit watching TV, not only are there visible light waves from the TV striking your eyes, but also radio waves, transmitting from a nearby station, and microwaves carrying cellphone calls and text messages, and waves from your neighbor’s WiFi, and GPS units in the cars driving by. There is a chaos of waves from all across the spectrum passing through your room right now.”

As a society, we are pressured to keep up or fall behind. Have you ever passed the Apple store the day a new iPhone hits the market? So many of us are willing to stand in lengthy lines, just to be early adopters of the latest technology. Our priorities are placed on technology as a way to make our lives better. And no doubt, it does in some ways. However, most of us don’t consider how our attachment to technology also impacts our health by inundating our bodies with a constant barrage of radio frequencies.

Is Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity Real?

While EMR and RF radiation is considered biologically safe according to safety data provided by Health Canada and other organizations, the reality is that the level of our constant low-grade exposure is not reflected in their guidelines.

Some scientists have been researching the impacts of electrosmog on our bodies long before our world became so highly digitized. In 1987, one study proved that exposure to electrosmog (at levels considerably lower than those observed in urban areas today) created changes in human brain waves and behaviour. Further to that, EMR may also affect our mitochondria. These are our cellular energy factories. They are fundamental to every energy-dependent process in our body, including the function of our nervous system. As a result, EMR-induced disruption of our mitochondria may effectively bolster neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. As well EMR may be playing a part in other diseases and health issues where mitochondrial dysfunction is implicated. These include psychiatric disorders, autoimmune diseases, headaches and migraines, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, stroke, diabetes, heart disease, reproductive disorders… the list goes on and on!

So, the question needs asking: If EMR and RF are already having an impact on our health, what are the long-term effects for our children raised in a world choked by electrosmog? Only time will tell.

How to Minimize Your EMR & RF Exposure

While more data is required, the science that’s already in, warrants taking precautionary measures in minimizing EMR exposure, particularly if you are suffering from EHS symptoms.

5 Steps to Protect Yourself from EMF:

  1. Get rid of your cordless phones.
  2. Turn off your WiFi – Internet can be hard wired into your home to prevent WiFi exposure, as can your television “box” and any other things that are wireless and transmitting and receiving signals.
  3. Switch your cell phone to airplane mode or turn it off at night.
  4. EMR-reducing sleep sanctuary or canopies may help block EMR according to renowned doctor Dietrich Klinghardt.
  5. Finally, there is one other thing you can do for EMF protection, and that is to GET OUTSIDE! By simply spending time in nature and grounding yourself so you have direct contact with the earth, you are opening the gateway for an influx of electrons to be absorbed and distributed throughout your body. This transfer of electrons can help to neutralize oxidative stress and minimize any derangements in the electrical activities of your body. So put down your phone and spend time in nature, walking in bare feet. Ever wonder why you come back from vacation feeling so recharged?

If you believe you have symptoms that could be related to electrical hypersensitivity or any other health issues, please book an appointment to visit us at Forces of Nature. We want to help you take control of your health! Call or email us at 416-481-0222 or email Maria@ForcesofNature.ca

To your best health!
The Team at Forces of Nature Wellness Clinic
Chiropractic, Naturopathic, Osteopathic, Massage Therapy, Psychotherapy, Acupuncture/TCM/Craniosacral Therapy, Registered Dietitian

References:

https://www.aaemonline.org/EMR_rf_position.php

Leitgeb N, Schröttner J. Electrosensibility and electromagnetic hypersensitivity. Bioelectromagnetics. 2003 Sep;24(6):387-94.

Trevor G. Marshall and Trudy J. Rumann Heil Electrosmog and autoimmune disease. Immunol Res. 2017; 65(1): 129–135. Published online 2016 Jul 13. doi: 10.1007/s12026-016-8825-7 PMCID: PMC5406447 PMID: 27412293

8 Easy Ways to Up Your Energy

man who has low energy

Top Tips to Increase Your Energy

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.

Stay Hydrated

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.

Identify Allergies

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.

Bonus Tip:

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. 

The Team at Forces of Nature Wellness Clinic

Chiropractic ~ Naturopathic ~ Osteopath ~ Massage Therapy ~ Registered Dietitian ~ Acupuncturist ~ Psychotherapist

References

Hernández-Camacho JD, Bernier M, López-Lluch G, Navas P. Coenzyme Q10 Supplementation in Aging and Disease. Front Physiol. 2018 Feb 5;9:44. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2018.00044. eCollection 2018.

The Scoop on Good Fats and Bad Fats

pic of doughnuts showing bad fats with caption for the top 10 good fats

Do Fats Make You Fat?

If you are trying to lose weight and you believe that means that eating fats and oils is a no-no, you might be in for a surprise. Fat is a vital component of a balanced diet and is necessary for your body to function properly. Inflammation is often involved in preventing weight loss, and the right kinds of fat can help reduce inflammation.  Having said that, too much or the WRONG fats can be a problem. With all the information out there on diet, it’s important to understand not just fads, diets, and tips but the actual needs of your body.

Given how many “experts” purport the benefits of their approach and dismiss the science of others, it can be tricky to figure out which foods are best for our own needs. In fact, it can feel like there’s a new discovery about the best way to eat every week making us question if we’re ‘doing it right’!

Lately, it’s the popularity of the Paleo and Keto diets that has turned prevailing knowledge on its head, largely because of the emphasis these protocols place on eating significant quantities of healthy fats.

No matter what diet you follow, newer science is showing us that there are more benefits to eating higher quantities of healthy fats than we previously thought. In fact, research is showing that the body is built to use these as a major source of energy – some evidence even suggests that fat is a better energy source than carbohydrates! It’s a fact that fat is also vital to a wide variety of normal bodily functions.

What are the Different Types of Fats?

What does monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and saturated mean when it comes to fats?  These terms refer to the molecular structure of the fat.  Fats are made up of long chains of carbon molecules connected to each other by bonds and also bound to hydrogen molecules.  These bonds can be either a single bond or a double bond.  Saturated fats contain only single bonds.  Monounsaturated fats, like oleic acid found in olive oil, contain only one double bond. Polyunsaturated fats, like linoleic acid found in sunflower oil, contain multiple double bonds.

Monounsaturated Fatty Acids (MUFA’s)

MUFA’s are liquid at room temperature.  Because of the double bond that they contain, they can be unstable and prone to oxidation.

Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFA’s)

PUFA’s are also liquid at room temperature and because they contain more than one double bond, can be highly unstable and even more prone to oxidation.  Oxidation creates “free radicals” that can cause damage to our bodies.   Oxygenated derivatives of linoleic acid, known as Oxlams, have been discovered and found to have potent inflammatory effects.  For this reason, it’s preferable to get PUF’A’s and MUFA’s from whole foods, rather than as processed oils.

Saturated

Saturated fats tend to be solid at room temperature.  They are more stable because they do not contain any double bonds and therefore are amongst the safest for cooking purposes.  Excessive intake of saturated fats can increase the amount of insulin your body produces, which would not be good.  While there is no need to avoid saturated fat altogether, it’s best not to overdo it either.

Trans

These are the least healthy form of fat.  Trans fats are those that are artificially produced through a process known as hydrogenation.  It is the process that turns a liquid oil into a solid, such as converting sunflower oil into margarine.  These create inflammation in your body, which is linked to heart disease, strokes, cancer, diabetes, and other chronic conditions.

Rancid

Rancidity refers to when a fat or oil has gone “bad”, meaning it has developed an unpleasant taste or smell.  When unsaturated fats become oxidized they generate peroxides.  The decomposition of peroxides is what causes the rancid taste or smell.  Rancid oils can create harmful free radicals in your body that can damage your cells.

Essential Fatty Acids

Essential fatty acids are healthy fats that we have to get from our diet because our body can’t make them. These are also called Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids.  The signs of an essential fatty acid deficiency include dry, scaly skin, skin rashes, hair loss and low platelet counts. In children and infants, a fatty acid deficiency can cause intellectual disability.  The Omega 6 fatty acids include linoleic acid, gamma-linolenic acid, dihomo gamma-linolenic acid and arachidonic acid. The Omega 3 fatty acids include α-Linolenic acid, Eicosatetraenoic acid, Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Supplementation with essential fatty acids is used at our clinic for skin problems like eczema and psoriasis, allergies, mood disorders and inflammatory conditions like arthritis.

What do “Good” Fats Do?

Good fats:

Help to build a strong cell membrane or outer layer for each of your cells
Help to build healthy sheaths surrounding nerves
Assist in maintaining normal blood clotting
Aid in controlling inflammation
Are essential for absorbing certain vitamins such as A, D, E, and K, and minerals like calcium, chromium, iron, magnesium, and zinc
Can promote weight-loss
Help encourage blood sugar stability
Are a key factor in achieving hormonal balance
Play a critical role in brain function, memory, and attention span
Have a direct impact on the quality of hair, skin, and nail growth
These reasons should be enough for all of us to realize how important it is to include these healthy nutrients in our nutrition plans!

But I thought fats were bad?

For a long time that was a common way of thinking. The reality is that the reason fats have been stigmatized was because our understanding of how they work was still developing and because we’d been eating too much of the wrong ones!

We understand now that not all fat sources are created equal – just like not all vegetables are equal (just compare iceberg lettuce with it’s dark, leafy counterparts, romaine, and spinach). There are different kinds of fats and to make understanding them easier, we like to think of them as being on a continuum. On one end of the continuum are good fats like MUFA’s and PUFA’s (when they are found in whole foods) and on the other end are bad ones like industrial-made trans fats in processed foods. Saturated fats fall somewhere in the middle.

So which fats should you be eating?

Start by choosing mostly fresh monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats found naturally in whole foods, followed by a moderate amount of naturally present saturated fats from whole foods. Those of the trans variety should obviously be avoided – which will probably be easier than you think because they’re mostly present in treats and junk foods that you wouldn’t want to rely on anyway!

Recent studies on coconut oil have found it to be useful in the reduction of body fat in the belly as well as helping to reduce Body Mass index (BMI). Just like any other nutrient, consuming a variety of fat sources is key to finding balance in your nutrition. Not only because variety is important in any diet, but because different foods are more than just a kind of fat, they offer different beneficial vitamins, minerals, and fibre too!

10 Sources of Healthy Dietary Fats

  1. Avocado
  2. Cheese
  3. Dark Chocolate
  4. Whole Eggs
  5. Fatty Fish
  6. Raw Nuts
  7. Chia Seeds
  8. Fresh Cold-pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  9. Coconut & Coconut Oil
  10. Full Fat Yogurt

We recommend adding fats to your diet slowly, especially if you’ve been avoiding them until now. Digesting anything well requires that the body has certain underlying requirements met including healthy gut flora and enzyme production. This is true in the case of fats as well. We’ve talked about gut flora at length in previous blog posts, but enzymes (like lipase, the enzyme that helps break down and digest fats) are also a vital part of healthy digestion – and are the subject for another time.

Are you eating right for your mind, hormone production, your metabolism? Get out of the “fat-free” cycle and into a healthier diet that includes good fats. We have tools to analyze your body’s nutrient needs and can help you experience optimal health every day through nutrition that’s ideal for you. Call us at 416-481-0222.

The Team at Forces of Nature Wellness Clinic
References:

https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-truth-about-fats-bad-and-good

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19437058

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25636220

Gibson RA. Musings about the role dietary fats after 40 years of fatty acid research. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2018 Apr;131:1-5. doi: 10.1016/j.plefa.2018.01.003. Epub 2018 Jan 6.

How to Avoid Getting Sick While Travelling

tips on how to avoid getting sick while travelling, showing healthy fruit

“Every Time I Travel I Get Sick!”

How to Avoid Getting Sick on Your Vacation

By Dr. Pamela Frank. BSc, ND

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!

Pre-Travel Vitamins

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.

Hydration

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!

Travel Supplements

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:

Adaptogens

Taking an adaptogen like reishi, ashwagandha, and holy basil can 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

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

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

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

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
  • Sterile gauze

Sunscreen

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.

Prescriptions

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

Research:

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.

Acree M, Davis AM. Acute Diarrheal Infections in Adults. JAMA. 2017 Sep 12;318(10):957-958. doi: 10.1001/jama.2017.8485.

Lectins – Love Them or Leave Them?

lectins - are they bad for you?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

What are Lectins?

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Symptoms do Lectins Cause?

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

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

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

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

How Can You De-activate Lectins for Better Digestion?

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

Soak Your Legumes and Grains

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

Sprout Beans and Seeds

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

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

Boil or Pressure Cook Legumes or Grains

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

Ferment Beans and Grains

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

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


Yours in good health,

The Team at Forces of nature

References:

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

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

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

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

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

Best Dry Skin

woman wondering about best dry skin treatments

The Best Dry Skin Natural Remedies

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

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)

Gluten

Wheat products

Dairy (particularly cow’s milk and cheeses)

Refined sugar

Processed foods and beverages

‘Junk’ food

‘Fast’ food

Dark, leafy greens

Tomatoes

Berries

Fatty fish

Olive, avocado, and coconut oil

Green Tea

Water

Probiotics

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

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.

Hyaluronic Acid

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.

Coconut Oil

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.

To your good health,

The Team at Forces of Nature Wellness Clinic

Do you have a Leaky Gut?

woman suffering from leaky gut syndrome

What is Leaky Gut?  What Causes It and What Can You Do About It?

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

If you’ve been searching for the root of on-going health issues that just won’t go away, the kind where your doctor – and maybe even your second and third doctor – have tried everything in their arsenals but have come up with only prescriptions that ease symptoms but don’t solve the underlying problem, it’s easy to feel discouraged.

However, if you’ve been keeping up with some of our previous blog posts, you’ve started to realize just how important our digestive system and gut health are to our overall health. In fact, you might be wondering if the root cause of the ‘mysterious illnesses’ from which you or your family have been suffering could actually reside in the gut – and you could very well be right.

From hormone regulation to immunity to enzyme production that keeps the rest of our body in tip-top shape, we keep learning more about how critical gut health is to maintaining overall vitality. One condition we are starting to learn more about, and see a prevalence of, is Leaky Gut Syndrome.

What is Leaky Gut?

Leaky Gut is a condition that is linked to dozens of illnesses. Because Western medicine hasn’t yet learned enough about the gut to fully understand the immense and overarching influence it has on overall health, there are no conventionally recognized methods of diagnosing and treating Leaky Gut syndrome. Understandably, doctors try to resolve the more commonly recognized associated issues a sufferer might be experiencing (see below), without actually addressing Leaky Gut itself. Unfortunately, that often creates a ‘chicken and egg’ scenario, in which doctors treat complaints, but without knowing which illness is the root cause and which is the symptom.

Do you wonder if Leaky Gut might be affecting you? Or whether you should be concerned?

Leaky Gut is often called a ‘phenomenon’ because it covers issues that stem from immunity, gut function, and the effect of modern diets and lifestyles on both of these systems.

In fact, in Canada alone, more than 20 million people suffer from digestive disorders – and that doesn’t cover half of the symptoms associated with Leaky Gut! Because of this, it’s important to understand the broad-reaching effects that the Standard American Diet, chronically high-stress levels, toxin overload, and even bacterial imbalances can have on gut function – and that managing these four elements are the basis of healing your gut.

What symptoms are the symptoms of Leaky Gut?

  • Consistent gastrointestinal issues like bloating, gas, cramps
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • New food sensitivities
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Thyroid conditions
  • Inflammatory skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis

What is going on in a Leaky Gut?

While symptoms of Leaky Gut are broad and varied, they all have a common theme: that they occur from malfunctions of intestinal ‘tight junctions’ (TJs) in the small intestine.

Tight Junctions have one, very important job: to act as a barrier that selectively allows some particles – like vital nutrients – to pass through the intestines to the bloodstream and to make sure that other disease-causing particles – called xenobiotics – do not. Think about TJ’s as preventing holes in the intestine so there is no leaking of bad particles into your bloodstream!

When the TJs are in optimal condition, you and your gut can be in optimal health! When they are malfunctioning, creating intestinal hyperpermeability (holes), your body will respond with acute inflammation. If left untreated, this acute inflammation becomes chronic inflammation – the underlying cause of the majority of disease.

Diseases associated with a Leaky Gut

Diseases that have been associated with intestinal hyperpermeability are many, some of the most recognized include:

  • Bowel issues including gastric ulcers, infectious diarrhea, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and diseases like Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis
  • Celiac disease and other allergies
  • Acute inflammation conditions
  • Arthritis and chronic inflammatory conditions
  • Obesity and related metabolic diseases like fatty liver, Type I and Type II diabetes, and heart disease
  • Autoimmune disease including lupus, multiple sclerosis, and Type I diabetes
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome

While the concept of ‘intestinal permeability’ has been a conversation in the medical world for over 100 years, the symptoms of Leaky Gut are not unique to the syndrome and are shared with many other possible causes. So, many people’s symptoms go untreated by conventional doctors for months or even years. It’s understandably frustrating and disheartening when doctors are unable to help – both from their perspective as well as from the sufferer!

That’s why working with an integrative health team – one that partners your Western GP or gastroenterologist with naturopathic doctors – can be the most valuable step in taking the time and effort to properly investigate your symptoms.

How Can You Help a Leaky Gut?

Our naturopathic doctors can provide testing for Leaky Gut syndrome (zonulin testing) that can assist your whole health team in creating a holistic plan to get you back to optimal health.

Whether you suffer from Leaky Gut or want to protect yourself and your family from the possibility of it, you can get started by working on the four most important factors that contribute to Leaky Gut:

  1. Remove inflammatory foods and gut-damaging toxins

Common culprits of inflammation and toxins include grains, gluten, sugar, antibiotics, conventional cow milk or dairy products, GMOs, pesticides, and processed foods. Start by eliminating these from your diet and see how much relief you feel

  1. Add gut-healing foods

We’ve talked about prebiotics and probiotics before, but adding other nourishing foods like bone broth, simply steamed vegetables, fermented foods, raw cultured dairy, hormone-free and antibiotic-free animal products, and healthy fats

  1. Reduce stress

We can’t stress this enough! We live with so many competing priorities that we often don’t detect how stress is affecting us until it’s too late. Take time to turn off your brain, and tune into yourself with quiet time, sunny vitamin D filled walks, meditation, or yoga.

  1. Add gut-supporting supplements

Your naturopathic doctor is the best person to consult on the type and amount of supplements that would be best for you. Book an appointment to ask us about L-glutamine, probiotics, digestive enzymes, and plant-derived mineral supplements, all of which can contribute to establishing and maintaining a happy gut!

Yours in good health,

The Team at Forces of Nature Wellness Clinic

Sources:

Li X, Atkinson MA. The role for gut permeability in the pathogenesis of type 1 diabetes–a solid or leaky concept? Pediatr Diabetes. 2015 Nov;16(7):485-92. doi: 10.1111/pedi.12305. Epub 2015 Aug 13.

Gluten Free

picture saying get tested for gluten sensitivity before gluten-free diets

The Goods on Gluten-Free – Should You Try It?

One of the most talked about nutrition topics of the past couple of years has been whether or not gluten should have a place – or be forbidden – in our diets. Until recently, even the word ‘gluten’ would have been used almost exclusively in culinary, confectionary, and severe allergy professions alone. But, due to the recent increase in our understanding of gluten, its properties and health effects, the idea of going gluten-free has gained major popularity.  As an understandable result, this has left many people wondering whether or not gluten-free is the way to go in their own lives.

If you’ve been curious about going gluten-free, or if you’ve already experimented with gluten-free living, it’s important to have a good understanding of the basics so you can make informed decisions about the nutrition you and your family access.

What is gluten anyway?

Gluten is the name of a family of proteins found in wheat and wheat-related grains. Gluten itself is what enables foods made of grain flour ingredients to hold their shape. They act almost like ‘glue’ to give these foods texture and hold it together. It can be found in many foods, even where you might not expect it.

There are six big grains that are known as ‘glutinous grains.’ These include:

  1. Wheat (including wheat berries, durum, emmer, semolina, farina, farro, graham, and einkorn)
  2. Barley
  3. Rye
  4. Spelt
  5. Kamut
  6. Triticale

Things like bread and crackers, pastries, pasta, cereals, beer, soups and sauces (which could contain grains or flours as thickeners), brewer’s yeast, and food colouring are some foods and beverages that contain these grains and therefore naturally contain gluten.  Sometimes, gluten is also used in other foods to act as a binding agent to give texture and structure to other products.

Are most people allergic to gluten?

You may have heard that most people cannot tolerate gluten, or that grains today are different than the grains our ancestors used to eat. However, many studies have shown that in fact, grains and gluten are well-tolerated by the majority of people. That being said, there are three key groups of people who greatly benefit from removing gluten from their diets.

Celiac Disease Sufferers

Celiac disease, suffered by 1% of people, is a condition of the immune system in which eating gluten triggers an intestine-damaging response. Symptoms of celiac disease are serious and uncomfortable and include abdominal pain, skin rashes, headaches, diarrhea, vomiting, and even unexplained weight loss. In cases of celiac disease, it’s imperative for the individual to remove all sources of gluten from their diets.  Also, people with Celiac disease should remove gluten in the form of personal care items.  Some unlikely sources of gluten can include lipsticks and balms, body and hand creams, and cosmetics which could introduce trace amounts of gluten that would trigger a reaction.

Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity or Gluten Intolerance

While celiac disease is rare, the percent of people who suffer from non-celiac gluten sensitivity is unknown and triggers similar symptoms.  The most reliable method to assess for non-celiac gluten sensitivity or intolerance is through blood testing for IgG antibodies to gluten.

Those with Other Gut Disorders

There’s still a third group of people who also benefit from removing gluten – those who suffer from other gut-related illnesses such as IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis and who require a FODMAP diet. FODMAPs are a group of small carbohydrate molecules found in all kinds of foods. While they are extremely common, they may be poorly absorbed in the small intestine of some people with already compromised digestive functions. Taking out glutinous foods is a key way to relieve one of the strains on a weakened digestive system because it naturally removes the FODMAPs that cause them to begin with.

Symptoms of Gluten Intolerance or Sensitivity

If you experience any of the following symptoms, particularly after eating something that contains gluten, you may have a gluten intolerance:

  1. Bloating
  2. Gassiness
  3. Burping/belching
  4. Constipation
  5. Diarrhea
  6. Nausea
  7. Heartburn or Acid Reflux
  8. Fatigue
  9. Headache
  10. Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Colitis, Crohn’s)
  11. Autoimmune disorders
  12. Recurring infections

What do I need to know to go gluten-free?

Whole grains do contain a number of important nutrients, such as fiber, iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc, folate, niacin, riboflavin, vitamin B12, and vitamin D, and some protein. So when deciding to remove gluten-containing whole grains from your diet, be sure create a robust diet that can replace these, and/or take supplements to ensure that you don’t develop a deficiency.

Know too, that many gluten-free substitutes like cookies, brownies, and bread usually contain higher levels of fats, sugar, and salt than their conventional counterparts. If you crave the comfort of baked goods or cereals, we recommend creating your own gluten-free versions at home with almond flour or coconut flour for the healthiest alternative.

Also, if you intend to be tested at some point for gluten allergy or sensitivity, you need to be currently eating gluten to be accurately tested.  If you go gluten-free and feel fantastic, you may be reluctant to go back to eating gluten in order to get tested properly.

Foods that Contain Gluten

Aside from foods made from rye, wheat, spelt, kamut, barley and triticale, there are a number of other foods where you may unintentionally encounter gluten.  Watch out for soy sauce, imitation crab meat, soups, stews, sauces, sushi, Chinese food, breaded foods, bread, cookies, cakes, muffins, crackers, buns, crusts, pancakes, ice cream (think cookie dough!), desserts and many other flour containing products.  If you are serious about being gluten-free, you really have to read labels or prepare your own food.

Going gluten-free will take time, patience, and practice – we know, because we’ve helped dozens of families do it with success! Sometimes you don’t even realize how much gluten is affecting your system until you eliminate it. Check our Facebook page where we feature monthly gluten free recipes and you’ll find a few tried and true favourites to get you going.  There are also lots of gluten-free recipes on our website here.

If you suffer from symptoms such as constant stomach pain, headaches, bowel issues or other symptoms that could be related to gluten sensitivity, please book an appointment so we can properly test you for celiac disease. We want to make sure you’re living your healthiest life possible! If not, but you’d still like to explore the health benefits of removing gluten, we’d love to help you make a plan to get your health back on track by managing your gut health.

For more advice on going gluten-free, optimizing your diet or checking for food sensitivities like gluten, see one of our naturopathic doctors.  Book an appointment here or call us at 416-481-0222.

To your good health,

The team at Forces of Nature Wellness Clinic

Chiropractic for Children

Boy laughing with quote about chiropractic for children

Is Chiropractic Safe for Children?

Chiropractic care addresses children’s health conditions associated with the nervous and musculoskeletal systems.  Spinal adjustments for infants and children are not the same as those used on adults. They are tailored to the size of the child and the stage of development of the child’s musculoskeletal system.

Why Do Children Need Chiropractic Treatment?

During the first few years of life we grow and change at an astonishing rate. Traumas, sprains and strains incurred, and/or poor postural habits formed during these years have the potential to affect us later on in life. Within the first 12 months of life approximately 50% of babies will have had at least one fall onto their heads from a high place. As babies learn to walk they will suffer from hundreds of falls onto their bottoms. As children get older they may start participating in sports. It is estimated that 3.5 million children under the age of 14 receive medical treatment for sports injuries every year. The Centre for Disease Control and prevention did a study which showed chiropractic and osteopath manipulation were the most common form of doctor directed complementary or alternative medicine used by children. The percentage of chiropractic patients under the age of 17 has increased at least 8.5% since 1991.

Does Research Support the Safety of Chiropractic Treatment for Kids?

Recent research by the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association (ICPA) found spinal manipulative therapy to be safe and effective in treating children of all ages.

What are the Benefits of Seeing a Chiropractor for Children?

Dr Hewitt , past president of the American Chiropractic Associationʼs (ACA) Pediatrics Council states that the majority of patients report that their children enjoy their chiropractic adjustments and look forward to subsequent visits. They also report that their children experience a greater level of health while under regular chiropractic care. Parents surveyed by the ICPA reported behavioural improvements for kids who saw a chiropractor, as well as improved sleep and stronger immune systems. Scientific evidence in these areas is still inconclusive, however, the large increase in the number of children under chiropractic care appears to be a positive endorsement of its benefits.

What is a Chiropractic Adjustment?

A chiropractic adjustment is the application of a specific force through a restricted joint. The adjustment restores normal joint movement, reduces muscle tension and allows your nervous system to function properly again. The results are a decrease in your pain, increased mobility and flexibility, restored function and a renewed sense of vitality.

Improved health and a better quality of life for your children is just around the corner.

By Dr Kimberley Macanuel, BSc(Hons), DC

Massage Therapy & Parkinson’s Disease

massage for Parkinson's disease by a registered massage therapist or RMT

Parkinson’s Disease and Massage Therapy

Parkinson’s Disease is a central nervous system disorder which affects the body’s motor function. This dysfunction is due to a lack of dopamine which is a brain chemical or neurotransmitter produced in the brain. Dopamine enables motor function (or muscle movement). Parkinson’s will often result in symptoms including rigidity in the muscles and joints, uncontrolled movements, and tremors. Difficulty with slow controlled movements such as holding a glass of water is common, as well as difficulty walking.

Massage in general plays a great role in reducing muscle soreness, and improving range of motion, so in the case of those suffering from Parkinson’s where severe muscle tightness and restriction in movements are an everyday issue, regular massage is very beneficial. Massage also decreases sympathetic nervous system firing, which is essential to reducing high tone in muscles.  Massage therapy has also been shown to be beneficial for constipation in people with Parkinson’s.

If massage therapy can help such extreme muscle rigidity and stiffness, imagine how it can also help those with everyday muscle tension. Our skilled registered massage therapists are usually covered by your insurance and can help relieve symptoms of Parkinson’s disease such as muscle stiffness and constipation.

Sources:

McClurg D, Walker K, Aitchison P, Jamieson K, Dickinson L, Paul L, Hagen S, Cunnington AL. Abdominal Massage for the Relief of Constipation in People with Parkinson’s: A Qualitative Study. Parkinsons Dis. 2016;2016:4842090. doi: 10.1155/2016/4842090. Epub 2016 Dec 8.

Casciaro Y. Massage Therapy Treatment and Outcomes for a Patient with Parkinson’s Disease: a Case Report. Int J Ther Massage Bodywork. 2016 Mar 4;9(1):11-8. eCollection 2016.

McClurg D, Hagen S, Jamieson K, Dickinson L, Paul L, Cunnington A. Abdominal massage for the alleviation of symptoms of constipation in people with Parkinson’s: a randomised controlled pilot study. Age Ageing. 2016 Mar;45(2):299-303. doi: 10.1093/ageing/afw005. Epub 2016 Jan 29.

Keep New Year’s Resolutions

 

woman thinking about fitness resolutions

7 Tips to Keep Your Fitness Resolutions in 2017

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:

  1. Set attainable goals and have realistic expectations.  If you’re new to exercise, planning to run a marathon may be a bit too ambitious.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

Massage Therapy Fitness

man having massage therapy for fitness

Massage Therapy for Improving Fitness

By Helen Harris-Bhavnani, RMT

Massage Improves Circulation

One of massage therapy’s many benefits is an increase in the body’s circulation. This occurs simply due to the mechanical massaging of muscles, blood and lymphatic vessels.  The blood gets “pushed” through the muscles and tissues and directed back toward the heart.  The lymphatic vessels help your muscles to repair and help to heal injuries.

It also helps (through this increased circulation) to maintain proper nutrition of your muscles. Your blood and lymphatic circulation helps to deliver nutrients, white blood cells and oxygen to your muscles. After exercising, your muscles need those nutrients and white blood cells in order to repair and grow as well as to maintain their health. Manual therapies are a great way to increase blood flow, which in turn delivers the nutrients and oxygen your body needs to help repair itself.

Massage Helps Post Workout Recovery

Your RMT can also help you to relax and rejuvenate after a work-out. Muscles that are well nourished and relaxed grow better, function better and are less prone to injuries that may threaten to derail your fitness regimen.  A 2016 study found that massage therapy was significantly more effective than no intervention on the post-race recovery from pain and perceived fatigue in long-distance triathlon athletes.  If it helps triathletes recover, it can help you too.

So get out there, get your body moving, and take care of yourself by seeing your RMT afterward.

Massage Research Sources:

Kojidi MM, Okhovatian F, Rahimi A, Baghban AA, Azimi H. Comparison Between the Effects of Passive and Active Soft Tissue Therapies on Latent Trigger Points of Upper Trapezius Muscle in Women: Single-Blind, Randomized Clinical Trial. J Chiropr Med. 2016 Dec;15(4):235-242. Epub 2016 Oct 11.

Emtiazy M, Abrishamkar M. The Effect of Massage Therapy on Children’s Learning Process: A Review. Iran J Med Sci. 2016 May;41(3 Suppl):S64.

Nunes GS, Bender PU, de Menezes FS, Yamashitafuji I, Vargas VZ, Wageck B. Massage therapy decreases pain and perceived fatigue after long-distance Ironman triathlon: a randomised trial. J Physiother. 2016 Apr;62(2):83-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jphys.2016.02.009. Epub 2016 Mar 23.

Do you have these Common Symptoms?

man wondering if symptoms are common or normal

Symptoms: Are You Common or Normal?

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

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.

Supplement Quality: What’s Really in Your Supplements?

smiling woman holding pill of high supplement quality

Supplement Quality: Do You Know What you are Taking?

At Forces of Nature, we take the greatest care to source out only the purest, best and highest quality supplements to recommend to our patients.  Did you know that supplement companies are not required to test for mold residue, heavy metals, pesticides or solvents? Few companies do.  Even fewer use good quality labs or have the expertise to properly do this kind of testing with their in-house labs.

What Does “Best By” Really Mean?

Did you know that as long as they don’t use the words “expiration date” on the label, a company is not required to make sure their product is stable until the “best by” date? Most companies simply make this date up. Almost no one actually does the testing and so many products won’t actually say “expiration date”.

Does It Really Contain What It Says it Does?

Another problem is that companies are only required to test 1-4 components of a multi-ingredient product?  Therefore, this means that in a product with 15 ingredients, you are really only assured that 1-4 of them are actually there.

Supplement Quality According to Health Canada

In Canada, Health Canada requires natural health products (NHP’s) to have a natural product number (NPN).  The application process is lengthy, but the main information the manufacturer has to provide is:

  1. For each medicinal ingredient of the natural health product:

(i) its proper name and its common name,

(ii) its quantity per dosage unit,

(iii) its potency, if a representation relating to its potency is to be shown on any label of the natural health product,

(iv) a description of its source material, and

(v) a statement indicating whether it is synthetically manufactured;

2. A qualitative list of the non-medicinal ingredients that are proposed for the natural health product and for each ingredient listed, a statement that indicates the purpose of the ingredient.

3. Each brand name under which the natural health product is proposed to be sold;

4. The recommended conditions of use for the natural health product;

5. Information that supports the safety and efficacy of the natural health product when it is used in accordance with the recommended conditions of use;

6. The text of each label that is proposed to be used in conjunction with the natural health product;

7. A copy of the specifications to which the natural health product will comply

None of these requirements obligates the company to test for aflatoxins (mold residue), heavy metals, pesticides or solvents.

The Importance of Seeing a Naturopath

Does your supplement brand test their herbs for heavy metals, pesticides, solvent residues or active ingredients at the expiration date?  Our naturopathic doctors are supplement quality experts and only recommend brands that meet the highest standards for purity, freshness, efficacy, and potency.

Sources:

Shim WB, et al. The occurrence of aflatoxins in herbal medicine distributed in South Korea. J Food Prot. 2012 Nov;75(11):1991-9. doi: 10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-12-190.

Genuis SJ, et al. Toxic element contamination of natural health products and pharmaceutical preparations. PLoS One. 2012;7(11):e49676. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0049676.

Want to read more?  There’s a great graphic on the Thorne Research website here.

It’s Cranberry Time!

cranberry in the shape of a heart

The Health Benefits of Cranberries

It’s the time of year that you can find cranberries easily in the grocery store. They aren’t readily available year round and they freeze well so it’s a good time to pick up a few bags and throw them in the freezer for future use. Here are some of the amazing health benefits of cranberries:

  • Prevention of Urinary Tract Infections

The proanthocyanidins found in cranberry appear to block E. coli bacteria from sticking to the cell walls of your uterus and bladder.  Most of us are aware of this by now.  The most effective way to get the benefits of the proanthocyanidins for this is through cranberry capsules.  Drinking copious amounts of cranberry juice to fend off a bladder infection may be counter productive, even if it is unsweetened, because cranberries although tart in taste do contain sugar.

  • Reduction of Dental Plaque

It is believed that the juice from eating cranberries can inhibit the aggregation of bacteria in your mouth that cause dental plaque.

  • Anti-Cancer Activity

The same proanthocyanidin compounds that help prevent bladder infections, may have some cancer fighting (anti-carcinogenic) activity.

  • Heart Disease

Cranberry extract has been shown to inhibit low density lipoprotein oxidation thereby reducing your risk of heart disease.

  • Kidney stones

Quinic acid, which is abundant in cranberries, may help to prevent the development of kidney stones.

Want to prevent bladder infections, keep gums and teeth healthier, reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease and kidney stones?  Try these recipes:

Mulled Apple Cranberry Cider

Gluten-Free Apple Cranberry Cake

Mango Lime Salsa

Grain Free Granola

Cupping

woman having cupping treatment

Cupping or What are Those Bruises on Olympian Michael Phelps?

If you watched the Olympics you noticed circular marks that looked like bruises on US swimmer, Michael Phelps.  No one beat him with a circular object, those marks are the effect of a Chinese medicine technique known as cupping.

What is cupping and what are the benefits?

Cupping is an ancient technique that improves and restores blood flow.  It reduces swelling and pulls waste from body tissues.  It allows for fresh, oxygenated blood to flow through tight muscles, stubborn knots, and irritated fascia.

How is cupping done?

For this technique, a flaming cotton ball is placed into a special glass cup. The cup is then quickly placed on the skin. This causes the underlying tissue to be raised partway into the cup. In some cases, such as acute injury, the cups are simply left in place for 15 minutes. For other conditions, such as colds or allergies, they are placed on an area for just a few moments. Then they are moved to another site of stagnation. For more chronic pain the practitioner applies an oil to the skin and then slides the cups over an affected area.

Does cupping hurt?

It does not have to hurt. The amount of suction can easily be adjusted to the tolerance of the individual. In fact, people report that the tightening sensation in the area of the cups often feels very good on tense, aching muscles.

What conditions does this therapy help?

It treats pain in the back, neck, and shoulders, legs (quads, IT band, calves) as well as colds, flu, allergies, asthma, and even cellulite.

Why does Michael Phelps have bruises from cupping therapy?

The technique can cause the skin to turn red, blue or purple if there is a blockage of energy or blood stagnation under the cups.  In the case of Michael Phelps, for example, these blockages are due to the strenuous exercise and training he does to prepare for the Olympics.

Is it safe?

Absolutely, if done properly by a well-trained and experienced practitioner.

How long does a cupping treatment take?

A cupping treatment generally takes 30 minutes, including assessment.

How long does it take for the marks to go away?

The skin discoloration lasts anywhere from a few days up to two weeks.

How does cupping help?

Think of this treatment as an inverted deep tissue massage. Instead of pressing down on sore, aching muscles, cupping pulls the skin, fascia, and muscles upward. This movement stretches the tissue, breaks up stagnation and also draws fresh blood to the area.  This allows the tissues to soften and relax. It also helps with lymphatic drainage.  When white blood cells enter the area to clean up the bruising, they also release compounds that are antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiproliferative, and neuromodulatory.

Is there any research to support this therapy?

Yes.  In 2018 a systematic review found that it is beneficial for perceptions of pain and disability.  It also increases range of motion when compared to untreated control groups.

Want cupping just like Michael Phelps and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau?

Book an appointment with Joy Walraven or by calling 416-481-0222 or book now online.

Authored by Joy Walraven, TCMP, acupuncturist, craniosacral therapist

Research

J Altern Complement Med. 2018 Mar;24(3):208-219. doi: 10.1089/acm.2017.0191. Epub 2017 Nov 29. Effects of Cupping Therapy in Amateur and Professional Athletes: Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials. Bridgett R1, Klose P2, Duffield R3, Mydock S1, Lauche R4.

Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2017 Nov;29:162-168. doi: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2017.09.008. Epub 2017 Sep 14. Cupping therapy: An analysis of the effects of suction on skin and the possible influence on human health.
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