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Why Do We Get Sick When We are Stressed? July 4, 2016

Posted by Dreamhealer in Alternative medicine, best vancouver naturopath, best vancouver nutritionist, Healing, immune system, immunity, stress.
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Your Body & Stress: A Three Part Series (1 of 3)

Written by: Dr. Kaleigh Coolsaet

Everyday in my practice I ask my patients about their stress; what are their particular stressors and how are they coping? I’m interested in knowing how they perceive stress and spend time educating them on how it can negatively impact their health. This allows me to help them create a plan to support their body through stressful times and improve their health and well being.

Stress comes in all kinds of situations in our lives, from an acutely stressful situation (losing a job, losing a loved one, a car accident, etc.) to chronic low-grade stressors like sitting in traffic while you’re late for work, constantly performing to meet deadlines. On top of these external stressors we also need to account that our lifestyle can be stressful for our bodies too: not getting adequate quality sleep, eating on the run or not eating the right foods for our bodies.

When we add up all these little stressors over time, it builds up and can be detrimental to our health. Our stress response is how our body adapts to stress. It’s actually a good thing and our stress response saves our lives and helps us perform better and change to stressors. It’s when we are constantly challenging and pushing our stress response that it can negatively impact our health.

Over the next three blogs I’m going to discuss stress and how it relates to a specific body system (Immune System, Digestive System & Endocrine [Hormone] System). Understanding how it can negatively affect our health can be helpful in implementing simple lifestyle changes to help better manage our stress response and take better care of our bodies. Today we will start with the Immune System.

Do you ever notice that you or the ones around you seem to always catch a bug during periods of higher stress or right after? As we are in our busiest season, when it’s least convenient or right before your vacation the second you give your body a chance to recover, we succumb to the virus that’s been floating around. This is because chronic stress has been demonstrated to exert a significant suppressive effect on immune function (Hu, D. et al). As we move through our busy lives and encounter stressor after stressor, our bodies release cortisol. Cortisol is essential to life and we need it, but if it’s released too much or for too long, it suppresses our immune system and these can leave us vulnerable to acquiring the common cold or flu.

So what can you do to help your immune system during times of high or prolonged stress?

3 Tips You Can Do Today To Help Your Immune System:

  • Get adequate sleep
    • Proper sleeps allows our bodies to repair and regenerate
    • Aim for 8-10 hours per night
    • Ensure your sleeping in a dark room
  • Eliminate Sugar from your diet
    • Sugar suppresses our immune system, leaving you more vulnerable to catching the common cold or flu
    • Sugar decreases our immune response
    • Can cause energy spikes and crashes, leaving you feeling more tired and stressed.
  • Find time for Exercise
    • Helps to boost your immune system
    • Acts as a natural stress reducer

Try and implement one of these tips each week to support your immune system and to help increase your bodies own positive stress response. If you want more stress busting tips stay tuned for the next two blogs exploring how stress affects our digestive tract and hormones. Both will include more tips on how you can support your body through periods of stress.

Best in Health,

Dr. Kaleigh

What You Need to Know about Parabens! June 30, 2016

Posted by Dreamhealer in best vancouver naturopath, Cancer, Healing, Health.
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Every day we are constantly bombarded with with headlines, articles and people giving us advice on what we should and shouldn’t be doing for our health. Often one article seems to directly contradict the one you read last week. It’s a struggle to keep up with whats good and whats not. If you’re like me a lot of it goes in one ear and out the other. Sometimes you will see “paraben free” written on a cosmetic bottle. I never went to too much trouble to avoid them though – mostly because I never bothered to educate myself about why they were something one should steer clear of. I recently took the time to educate myself on this matter. Here is what I learned.

What is a paraben anyway?

Parabens are a preservative found in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and also many food products. They have bacterial and fungicidal properties. Without some sort of preservative your cosmetics would become overloaded with bacteria, fungus and mould which would firstly be gross and also potentially cause infections. The mode of action of parabens is actually not fully understood- it is thought to be disrupting membrane transport processes in cells or inhibiting cells from making DNA and RNA (which cells need to do in order to divide and multiply). There are many different forms of parabens but look out for these ones in particular on your lotion, shampoo, antiperspirant/deodorant, suncream, perfume and baby products etc.- methylparaben or E218, ethylparaben or E214, propylparaben E216, butylparaben, heptylparaben or E209.

Where would I find parabens?

Parabens are everywhere. Recent studies show that parabens are found in 99% of leave on cosmetic products and 74% of wash off ones. Estimates vary but certainly the vast majority of cosmetics (75-90%) contain some parabens. Staggeringly, cosmetics and the chemicals they contain are less regulated and under less stringent testing than other chemicals we are exposed to. This is particularly alarming because cosmetics represent the most common form of chemical exposure for most of us. Adverse reactions to chemicals in cosmetics are surprisingly high at 17.4% for men and 26.5% for women according to one study.

Should I worry about parabens? Why?

Another place to find parabens? In you! It is well established that parabens are present in human urine and serum. They are so prevalent that they have even been found in household dust. When ingested, parabens are broken down into metabolites. However even this route can cause health problems which I will discuss later in this article. Scientists have also recently been able to prove that parabens can enter the body through the skin. When they are absorbed topically through this route from your cosmetics parabens are not broken down by the digestive system and enter the bloodstream, and thus the rest of your body, whole. They have been detected in serum after just one application of cream and in urine within 8-12 hours. They have also been found in breast milk. A 2004 study found the 5 most commonly used parabens were present in human breast cancer cells. This is really what began the whole debate about parabens. There are no studies at this time to directly implicate parabens as a factor in breast cancer and as always more research is needed to prove or disprove this theory. However, there are some things we do know for sure about parabens and their action within the body which would indicate that we should think twice before using a product that contains them.

Parabens have estrogenic properties. Estrogenic means promoting or producing estrogen (female sex hormones). These chemicals mimic estrogen in the body. As previously mentioned there are many different types of parabens and they each have varying effects but all widely used parabens have been shown to possess estrogenic activity. Estrogen is integral to sexual and reproductive health. It also affects many other tissues in the body including skin, bones and cardiovascular system. It has been shown to have a central role in breast cancer.

The presence of alcohol in cosmetics alongside parabens inhibits their breakdown further and ethanol changes methylparaben to butylparaben which is even more estrogenic.

Parabens bind to human androgen (male sex hormone) receptors and antagonize the action of testosterone on gene expression. Studies on rats show that parabens when taken orally caused alterations in male reproductive function. This may be due to their affect on testosterone or the estrogenic effect. There is a confirmed link between male exposure to parabens through the digestive route either during gestation or very early life (remember they can enter the breast milk) and reproductive disorders.In the last 50 years there has been in increase in male reproductive problems including reduced sperm quality and testicular cancer. There is no hard evidence to directly link this to topical absorption of parabens but this certainly warrants further research. Especially considering the ubiquitous use of baby products containing parabens by unsuspecting mothers. Many of these creams and lotions are used on and around the areas where male reproductive hormones are. If topical absorption of parabens is a potential problem then they are being absorbed in the worst possible part of the body.

There is also some discussion around the possibility of parabens’ estrogenic activity in the skin being linked to increasing rates of melanoma. Estrogen activity in the body is linked to cancer and some hypothesize that parabens in cosmetics and particularly those exposed to sunlight which can cause oxidative stress in the skin and could cause cancer. The increasing rate of melanoma in young people and inverse relationship with social deprivation could correlate with greater use of paraben containing products. Remember there are parabens in most sunscreen products so the very product you use to be safe in the sun may in fact be causing cell mutations which can lead to cancer.

It is possible to buy products in the mainstream stores that are paraben free. Some of the alternative preservatives include organic acids such as benzoic acid, dehyroactetic acid, potassium sorbet, sorbic acid, sodium benzoate. Their use is limited and they are not as effective as parabens at killing bacteria. However organic acids are comparable in terms of their anti fungal and mould effects. Other alternatives include plant/herbal extracts, enzyme/substrate systems and antimicrobial peptides. The best way to avoid paragons and other harmful chemicals is to make your own cosmetics, which is easier than you might think and there are lots of websites with easy recipes.

Some would argue that the long history of safe use of parabens by the cosmetic industry surely proves that there are no negative effects on our health. This may of course be true. However it goes against my personal instincts that a chemical which has been proven to enter our bodies and mimic important hormones that affect multiple biological systems cannot cause some sort of changes. These may prove to be negligible changes but the fact remains that these effects simply have not been examined by the scientific community so there is no way for us to know. There are no studies to examine the prolonged use of multiple paraben containing products over time which, lets face it, is what the majority of us have been doing all our lives. The steady rise of breast cancer in the upper quadrant of the breast (close to where you apply your antiperspirant) is disproportionate to other areas of the breast. Reproductive health issues and skin cancer are also on the rise. These chemicals are everywhere and we should ensure that they are safe before people are exposed to them. The good news is that once parabens are withdrawn they do eventually leave the body. So if, after reading this article (and maybe more like it) and you do decide to discard all your paraben containing cosmetics you could potentially make a real difference to your health.

Reference List

  1. Paraben esters: review of recent studies of endocrine toxicity, absorption, esterase and human exposure, and discussion of potential human health risks. Darbre, P. and Harvey, W. 2008. Journal of applied toxicology.
  2. New Alternatives to paraben-based blends. Weber, K. 2005.Cosmetic and Toiletries120
  3. Effects of butyl paragon on the male reproductive system in mice. IOC, S. 2002. Arch Toxicol.
  4. Natural Alternatives for Cosmetic Preservation. Schmit, E. and Norris, K. Active concepts Feb 2015.

Naturopathic Doctors – Medically Trained, but Naturally Focused. June 23, 2016

Posted by Dreamhealer in best vancouver naturopath, Healing, Naturopathic Doctor, Naturopathic Medicine, Supplements.
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As we celebrate the advances that naturopathic medicine has been making, we also have to acknowledge the recent negativity being directed at our profession from certain groups within the medical world and their media minions. A recent tragic case in Alberta saw a couple being convicted of failing to provide the necessities of life for their young son, who died of bacterial meningitis in 2012. Over the course of this case, it was revealed that they had contacted one of our Alberta naturopathic doctors by phone, who had instructed her staff to tell them to take the child to seek emergency medical care. The next day, someone (who later turned out to be a member of the same family) came into her clinic to purchase an herbal immune support formula, something that would commonly be available over the counter at any number of natural pharmacies across Canada. However, subsequent to this, a group of Alberta medical doctors took it upon themselves to call for an investigation into the actions of the ND – the same ND who didn’t see the child, didn’t provide any medical advice other than to go to the ER, and didn’t provide any treatment.

Similarly, our friends at the Globe and Mail have been very active in displaying their bias against safe, natural medicine, doing their best to misrepresent facts to distort the truth. This brings to mind a CBC Marketplace “investigation” from a few years back, that claimed to answer once and for all, whether homeopathy was an effective health care modality. Luckily, they made it perfectly obvious that they didn’t consult a single person with any knowledge or training in homeopathy, as they designed their “study” in such a way as to render it utterly useless. An analogy I could make – if they took a prescription sleep aid, rubbed it on their forehead, then went to bed with it under their pillow – then came to the “scientific” conclusion that it didn’t work.

But most alarming was this editorial penned by Peter McKnight, a journalist whose training in anything medically related extends to an undergraduate degree in psychology. He attempts to convince his readers that Western medicine long ago threw out the notion of the “healing power of nature”, implying that the only thing standing in the way of the certain annihilation of the human race by disease is an army of white-coated medical doctors armed with their trusty prescription pads. If you find me one doctor who tells you that the human body doesn’t have the ability to heal itself, I’ll show you a doctor who is either ignorant or lying. Everyone (including every parent in the world) knows that the body will heal itself, as long as you remove whatever factor is in the way of that. And in fact – if that vis medicatrix naturae isn’t present, nothing any doctor does will have any effect on actually healing a patient, save for keeping them alive. If your kid scrapes his knee – you clean it well, keep it clean, and keep your child from picking at the obviously fascinating scab that will form – and it will heal. On its own. Extend that to a multitude of illnesses, and you’ll find that once you remove the obstacles to health (poor diet and lifestyle, lack of sleep, nutritional deficits, chronic assault from environmental toxins, stress, etc), for the most part, patients will return to a state of health.

A common complaint about naturopathic medicine is around safety and efficacy. They say that manufacturers of natural supplements aren’t required to demonstrate efficacy to Health Canada before having them approved for sale. But they are required to demonstrate safety. With regards to safety, I’m not aware of a single case of a patient dying as a result of any medical intervention by a licensed naturopathic doctor. Compare that to the statistic that medical error is now the third-leading cause of death in the US. Let he who is without a single dead patient cast the first stone, I say.

Regarding efficacy – let’s break this down a little. For medical doctors accustomed to using pharmaceuticals to force the body back into line, they typically see results on the order of days to a few weeks. If there’s no clear benefit in that time, you can conclude the treatment is ineffective. Applying that same quantifier to natural remedies is like comparing apples to oranges. As stated earlier, naturopathic medicine focuses on encouraging a return to health, through (for the most part) gentle interventions that gradually shift the body’s health on both a physical and energetic level. Most people I see have spent years or even decades gradually getting to their current state of ill health. Any intervention that claims to return them to health in a few days will not work, simply because once the medication is discontinued, the body will revert to the state to which it has become accustomed.

Furthermore, if you equate the efficacy of a treatment to a cure, we must consider how many classes of drugs actually purport to “cure” anything”. One notable exception would be antimicrobials for a bacterial or fungal infection. Go beyond that, and the cure rate drops significantly. Anti-depressants only work as long as people remain on the medication (assuming they work at all, or don’t make the condition worse). Statins artificially lower cholesterol levels, which return to pre-treatment levels upon discontinuation of the drug. Same with medications for high blood pressure, stomach acid levels, sleep and anxiety, the list goes on. Until the obstacles to health are removed, health will not be achieved.

In this, the stark difference between naturopathic doctors and medical doctors – the question “why?”. Why are these symptoms occurring? Naturopathic doctors aim to find and treat the cause of illness, rather than simply playing whack-a-mole with symptoms by prescribing one medication after another, often to simply treat the side effects created by the original drug.

So in conclusion, happy Naturopathic Medicine Week, to the tens of thousands of happy and healthy patients across Canada who attribute their good health to their naturopathic care, and to the growing group of allies within the conventional medical community – modern doctors and nurses who recognize the benefit to patients of collaborative and complementary medicine. To the rest of you – the dinosaurs who continue their desperate campaign to convince the public that you’ve got all the answers, that pharmaceuticals are the only way to go, and that under no circumstances, should they ever ask you “why” – it’s not too late to join the right side of history. The future of medicine will be found in the middle ground, currently populated with medically-focused naturopathic doctors and medical doctors practicing what they’ve termed “functional medicine” – where through a mixture of modern innovation and traditional healing we create a paradigm of health – instead of treating disease.

Naturopathic doctors – Medically Trained, but Naturally Focused.

In Health,

Dr. Reuben Dinsmore, ND

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/message-to-naturopaths-magic-isnt-medicine/article29929971/

Senior Health – It’s Never Too Late to Feel Better May 30, 2016

Posted by Dreamhealer in best vancouver naturopath, Healing, Health, senior health.
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Written by: Dr. Reuben Dinsmore
At each stage of life, we face different health challenges. From the special care and diet for infants to staying healthy on the go for working adults, our health is always a changing landscape. But the stage of life that is becoming more and more important, health-wise? The senior years.
People are living longer than ever nowadays. Our average life expectancy in Canada is now 82.4 years, an increase of 5 years just since 1986. Advances in medicine play a big part in this improvement – however, just because we’re living longer, are we still living well?

As we enter our sixties, all the aches and pains that have been visiting once in a while suddenly seem like they’re always there. We might get tired more easily, and not recover as quickly from exertion. Our digestion rebels a bit more often than it used to. Our medicine cabinet starts to look a pharmacy; (actually, it kind of looks like our parents’ medicine cabinet).

So what is it about getting older that ages us so much? And is this process absolutely unavoidable? Let’s look at how aging affects different body systems and what we can do to diminish it.

Caution: many natural supplements can interact with prescription medications in various ways. Some supplements can reduce the effectiveness of drugs, and some can actually increase the effectiveness of a medication. Although this might sound like a positive thing, your dose has been carefully selected by your doctor to maintain a certain therapeutic level in the body – a higher level can be harmful. If you are currently taking any prescribed medications, please speak to a health care practitioner who is well-trained in the safety and use of supplements and medications before starting to take anything new.

Energy

You’re not as young as you used to be, but there’s no reason you can’t feel like you are. You all know that one woman, maybe a neighbor or relative, who always seems to have lots of energy. What’s her secret? How can you have the energy to keep up with your grandkids, or just keep up with your own busy life?

The basic formula for more energy – get more, and lose less. Getting more involves a proper diet (including sufficient water) along with good digestion, to maximize the energy received from your food.  Also important is getting enough quality sleep. And how to minimize energy lost? Chronic pain, repeated minor infections, mental and emotional stress – these are all insidious drains on your energy that can leave you feeling wiped out at the end of the day. For an extra boost – Vitamin B12 (along with other B vitamins) is used to produce glucose – the main fuel for the body – from the food we eat. And CoQ10 then helps the mitochondria in your cells turn that glucose into energy.

Skin & hair

Mark Twain said “Wrinkles indicate where smiles have been”. One of the things that contribute to wrinkles are facial muscles flexing in emotional expressions – joy, sadness, anger, excitement – the colours of life that make it worth living.

However, a few other things contribute too, and these are worth controlling. If you smoke, quit! It’s the worst cause of premature aging, both skin deep and throughout the body. Skin structure depends on collagen integrity, and vitamin C and hyaluronic acid are two things that go a long way to maintaining younger looking skin. As well, make sure you get your beauty sleep – it’s not just a phrase, it’s a real thing. And there are even supplements out there that claim to reverse greying by targeting the decreasing levels of the catalase enzyme (that normally prevents the greying of your hair by getting rid of naturally-occurring hydrogen peroxide. The SOD enzyme (superoxide dismutase) also helps prevent that by decreasing oxidative damage from free radical molecules (research indicates it might also be partly responsible for hair falling out). And a bonus – controlling free radicals benefits your health in a lot of other ways.

Bones, Joints and Muscles. 

In general, pain is thought of as a sign of inflammation. So it makes sense that controlling inflammation will help with many of those aches and pains. Focus on foods rich in anti-oxidants and omega-3 fatty acids. Using spices such as cinnamon and turmeric also help. Even more potent are supplements that provide a concentrated form of these foods, like fish oils (for omega-3s) and curcumin (the active component of turmeric).

Long-term suggestions would concentrate on supporting the general health of your bones and the connective tissues that hold your joints together. Having a diet high in calcium-rich fruits and vegetables is much more beneficial than getting your calcium from dairy sources, which can affect the pH level in the body in such a way that it might actually be harmful for bone health. Vitamin C is integral to the health of ligaments and tendons. And we can’t forget the role that exercise plays – regular, moderate exercise that includes a mixture of cardiovascular and weight-bearing will give you the most health benefits overall. For reducing chronic pain from conditions such as osteoarthritis, acupuncture can be very effective.

Cognition – “Use it or Lose it”

Modern medicine has made incredible breakthroughs that can keep our bodies alive longer, but it lags behind in supporting our cognitive health. And how else will you know if you’re actually enjoying your golden years or not?

Studies have shown that the idea of “use it or lose it” definitely applies to your mind, so keeping mentally active is a great idea. Puzzles such as crosswords, Sudoku, or playing challenging games like chess or bridge are a great way to stay busy and keep healthy. Nutrition is certainly important – nutrients like vitamin B12, omega-3 fatty acids (especially DHA), CoQ10 and vitamin E. High blood pressure is also a risk factor for cognitive decline. Finally, certain medications have recently been associated with a higher risk of developing dementia – for example, long-term use of proton-pump inhibitors (a common class of antacid drugs used to treat heartburn and ulcers). Finally, many other medications can cause symptoms of dementia that will often disappear when the medication is discontinued.

Quite recently there has been some extremely exciting work coming from the American functional medicine community (“functional medicine” is what medical doctors call it when they practice like medically-focused naturopathic doctors). One clinical study significantly reversed the effects of Alzheimer’s disease in multiple patients using a carefully-designed protocol that included monitoring certain lab values and optimizing health targets primarily using natural supplements and other interventions.

Sleep

A common misconception is that people need less sleep as they get older. Closer to the truth would be that it’s just harder to get the same duration and quality of sleep. Melatonin production decreases with age (this is the hormone that helps us fall asleep). Joint aches and muscle pains can keep you from finding a comfortable sleeping position (as we saw earlier in this article). And many find they have to get up to urinate more often during the night. Finally, snoring is more common as people age – a variety of factors contribute to this, including increased weight and weakening of the muscles in the throat.

What can you do? A melatonin supplement is cheap, safe, and often very effective. Most come in a standard 3 mg dose; if you find you’re groggy the following morning, try a half dose. Limit your fluid intake later in the day, especially anything containing caffeine or alcohol. If you’re on a diuretic medication for high blood pressure, talk to your doctor about moving your dose earlier in the day (and keep reading to find out how to quit your medication altogether). And maintain a healthy weight – this benefits you in lots of ways other than just sleep. If it’s your partner who snores, get a good pair of earplugs, or consider sleeping in another bedroom if it’s really bad.

Digestion

Let’s start at the beginning – in the mouth. A diminished sense of taste and smell is a common complaint among seniors. This can result in what is called the “tea and toast” diet – food doesn’t taste as good, making it less enjoyable to eat, and so you might be tempted to just go with what’s easy. Unfortunately, this limited diet can lead to nutritional deficiencies – one of which (zinc) might have been the cause of the loss of taste and smell in the first place. Another factor – dental work. Dentures might make it harder to enjoy some of the foods you used to love, including the fresh fruits and vegetables that are so integral to a balanced diet. A popular and easy fix? Smoothies – all your favourites blended up together in an easy-to-swallow meal. Just watch the sugar content.

Next up, we come to the esophagus and stomach, the source of heartburn. Too many people take antacids for this common problem – only thing is, most of the time heartburn isn’t caused by elevated stomach acid, but rather low stomach acid, which means the muscle at the bottom of the esophagus isn’t closing properly. This allows acid from the stomach to contact this sensitive tissue, resulting in that familiar burning sensation. Stomach acid production naturally declines with age, so give it a boost with some digestive bitters just before any larger meals – especially ones containing protein.

Finally – the intestines. Your small intestines continue the digestion process, and carry out most of the nutrient absorption. Healthy levels of beneficial bacteria are vital for this, which come from cultured foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, and more exotic drinks like kombucha and kefir. If that sounds too complicated, just pop a probiotic pill – look for a mix of bacterial strains and a number in the billions. Almost to the end is the large intestine. Problems here include gas and bloating, and the dreaded constipation. Gas usually results from food that hasn’t been properly digested and absorbed in the small intestine. Constipation can generally be fixed by drinking enough water and having plenty of fiber in your diet. If you’re concerned, take a fiber supplement. Psyllium is the fiber in brands like Metamucil, only without the artificial colours, flavours and sugars.

Cardiovascular Issues

According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, in 2012, one person died every 7 minutes of heart attack or stroke. And up to 80% of premature cardiovascular disease is considered to be preventable with simple lifestyle changes.

One of the most recent health myths to fall is cholesterol. For years, cholesterol was the devil, to the point where statins (the class of drugs to lower cholesterol) became the most-prescribed class of drugs in North America. And while it’s true that having elevated cholesterol can be a risk factor for cardiovascular disease – that’s only when there’s inflammation present. Without inflammation, cholesterol acts only as the precursor for making certain hormones. But if there’s inflammation in the blood vessels, your body uses cholesterol to plaster over the damage as a quick fix. The more layers that are applied, the more it blocks your arteries, eventually leading to heart attacks and angina – yet another reason to control inflammation.

High blood pressure is pretty much ubiquitous among seniors. In the 60 to 79-year-old group, 52% of people have a diagnosis of hypertension (compared to 22% in the 40 to 59-year-old group). Lifestyle changes including a healthy diet, regular exercise and meditation can be very effective at controlling blood pressure. Add to that supplements like garlic, magnesium, and CoQ10, and you can certainly reduce your blood pressure medications, or possibly even quit them altogether.

Immune System

This is another system that just naturally decreases with age, for a few reasons we already talked about. That low stomach acid that gives you heartburn? It also means that your first line of defense for bacteria and parasites could be compromised. That tea and toast diet? Not the optimal nutrition that your immune system needs. And the lack of sleep only makes it worse. The last thing to consider is stress – which has a huge negative effect on the health of your immune system. It’s never too late to learn how to really deal with your stress (instead of just pushing it down and pretending it doesn’t exist – more on that below).

But general immune support involves getting your vitamin D levels checked and supplementing if necessary; using proven immune boosters such as astragalus or medicinal mushrooms; or for minor acute illnesses like a cold or the flu, herbs like Andrographis and Echinacea and minerals such as zinc and selenium can get you back on your feet sooner.

Mood

After statins, anti-depressants are the second-most prescribed class of drug in North America. And according to some experts, they’re also the drugs that are the most-often wrongly prescribed. When a neurotransmitter imbalance is at the root of those symptoms of depression, then anti-depressants can be a lifesaver.

But what about when depression is secondary to other things? Stress over health concerns or financial problems, loneliness following the death of a partner or lifelong friend, nutritional deficiencies from a poor diet, decreased activity level, or even having less sex – these are all things that can cause symptoms of depression. And in most of these cases, an anti-depressant will have a minimal effect, if any at all. But adaptogenic herbs and B-vitamins help your adrenal glands cope with chronic stress. And meditation is easily the most ignored yet most effective self-care for stress. Other things to rule out – low hormone levels such as thyroid, testosterone, estrogen or progesterone.

Men’s Health

Two problems are just for the men who are reading – prostate issues and erectile dysfunction. First, a quick anatomy lesson – your prostate is a small gland located inside the body approximately between the testicles and anus. The urethra passes directly through it before entering the penis to carry urine out of the body. So if you’re experiencing a delay in starting urination, or stopping and starting, or dribbling, there’s a good chance (about 75% if you’re over 70) that you have an enlarged prostate. This is either BPH (benign prostatic hypertrophy) or prostate cancer. Obviously the second one is worse, but even that might not be as bad as you think. Many forms of prostate cancer are very slow-growing, so depending on your age and the severity of your symptoms, you might not need to have it treated at all. Tests for this include PSA and having a DRE done by your doctor.

On to erectile dysfunction – this could be from decreased testosterone (called andropause). More likely it’s caused by one of the conditions we already looked at: high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, or simply from being overweight (fat tissue produces estrogen, further skewing the hormone balance). Fix those things, and the problem will likely be dramatically improved. Now how to treat your wife’s chronic headaches…

Women’s Health

After surviving menopause, all sorts of other issues come up from the sudden decrease in hormones. Osteoporosis is one of the most common health issues among older women, resulting from lower estrogen levels. This can also lead to decreased libido and vaginal dryness. Hormone replacement therapy is something that can help dramatically, but should be considered carefully on an individual basis.

A gentler solution can be herbs that contain phytoestrogens – “plant estrogens” – which act as hormone modulators. These compounds resemble hormones closely enough that they can interact with estrogen receptors and weakly stimulate them. But in cases of estrogen being too high, they can also decrease the effects of estrogen by occupying those same receptors – hence the “modulatory” effect. Soy products and flax seeds are two of the most well-known examples of phytoestrogens. Equally crucial for protecting bone density is regular, weight-bearing exercise to stimulate bone growth.

Final words: am I claiming that by using natural medicine, you can get off every one of your medications and solve all your health problems? Absolutely not. But I can guarantee that working with a properly-trained naturopathic doctor can improve your health, decrease your need for certain medications and leave you feeling better. Because what’s the point of living longer if you can’t enjoy it?

In Health,

Dr. Reuben Dinsmore, ND

IBS – But What CAN I Eat? May 12, 2016

Posted by Dreamhealer in best vancouver naturopath, best vancouver nutritionist, Diet, Healing, Naturopathic Doctor, Naturopathic Medicine, naturpathic medicine, stress.
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Written by: Breanne Dunlop, RHN

Suffering from abdominal pain, cramps, bloating, and gas? You’ve likely been told it could be IBS. Irritable bowel syndrome is the diagnosis often given to people who suffer from uncomfortable symptoms regarding the gut and bowels, and is distinct from Irritable Bowel Disease as the cause of irritation is unknown. IBS as you can imagine is extremely uncomfortable for those who suffer from it. Symptoms can be chronic or sporadic but are typically triggered by certain foods or during periods of stress. Some individuals are more prone to constipation while others may experience diarrhea. Whether you are chronically dealing with gut pain or have anxiety about being out in public during a flare up, IBS can be very crippling for many of its sufferers.

Since the cause of irritation is unknown and is likely different for everyone, the remedies to help provide some relief will be different too. The only sure way to know what may help you is through trial and error. Food is meant to be therapeutic and nourishing but for IBS sufferers it can be a nightmare trying to figure out what you can tolerate and what brings you agony. Right now there are three diets recognized to help with IBS: SCD, FODMAP or GAPS.

Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) is a whole foods diet that avoids processed foods, sugars, starches and grains. The belief here is that complex carbohydrates are slow to digest and the pathogens bad little critters in our gut feed off of them. Only monosaccharides (simple sugars) are permitted on this diet as they are easier on the digestive tract. When food is properly digested and absorbed, there is nothing left in the gut for the bad little critters to feed on.

FODMAPs stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides Disaccharides Monosaccharides and Polyols and aims to starve the bad bacteria by limiting foods that are poorly absorbed in the small intestine. FODMAPS has been further researched since SCD was introduced and therefore limits more foods (including monosaccharides) that are now known to be troublesome for an irritated gut. Foods are rated as low, medium or high FODMAP and the goal is to limit as much as possible high FODMAP foods because when eaten in excess these foods feed pathogens in the gut.

Gut And Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) is more restrictive than the previously mentioned diets, especially in the introductory phase. GAPS has more of a therapeutic approach to heal the gut versus just eliminating foods that are causing damage. The introductory phase, which lasts three to six weeks, consists entirely of homemade meat stock and vegetables with added probiotic rich foods such as sauerkraut – so hopefully you love soup!

Tired of suffering with your IBS? A holistic nutritionist can provide guidance on how to successfully eliminate trigger foods and incorporate foods and supplements that will help repair and nourish your gut. No more gut pain = a healthier and happier you. Book an appointment with Breanne today for assistance on how to implement one of the above diets into your lifestyle.

What is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist? May 2, 2016

Posted by Dreamhealer in best vancouver naturopath, best vancouver nutritionist, Diet, Food, Healing, Health, nutrition, Nutritionist, vancouver, Vancouver Nutritionist.
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Written by: Breanne Dunlop, RHN

What is a R.H.N.?

R.H.N. stands for Registered Holistic Nutritionist and is the designation given to nutrition students who have graduated from Canadian School of Natural Nutrition with a diploma in natural nutrition.

What does it mean to be ‘holistic’?

Practicing from a holistic perspective allows one to look at the body as whole, understanding how everything is intertwined and how a deficiency or lack of harmony can disrupt our equilibrium and the body’s delicate balance. People may think the term ‘holistic’ sounds hokey but it really just takes into account the intimate relationship between physical symptoms and how it affects us on a mental and deeper, spiritual level.

When should I see a R.H.N.?

A R.H.N. is a great addition to your team of healthcare practitioners. Nutritionists primarily focus on the diet but also offer areas of support in other avenues such as lifestyle changes and supplementation. Whether you are trying to build, repair, strengthen or restore nutrient status, there are many factors that take part in finding the right foods for your body. What you felt good eating a year ago may be different from what your body needs for fuel today. Depending on what stage you are in your life and your health goals and concerns, your dietary needs are constantly changing throughout your life.

Want more spring in your step in the mornings? Wondering why by bedtime your belly is bloated to five times the size it was that morning? What about those pesky food sensitivities that seemed to appear overnight. Not feeling as good as you once did on that vegan diet? Maybe you’re curious if you are meeting your nutrient needs. Maybe you’re simply looking for ways to incorporate more fresh vegetables into your diet; or wondering how to make better choices when dining out at restaurants. Whatever your needs or concerns, a nutritionist can help!

Many people often assume that the typical client who sees a nutritionist is one that is struggling to lose weight. While this is a common health concern for many people, nutritionists can help a variety of conditions and concerns beyond weight struggles. And if losing weight is what is most important to you and you’ve tried everything in your means, perhaps uncovering the root cause of why you are struggling with weight loss is how a nutritionist can help you. This can simply be finding foods to help balance metabolism and other hormonal functions, or even tips to help promote better sleep patterns (an essential ingredient for weight loss).

How often will I need to see a nutritionist?

Change does not happen overnight but is a daily process. Most people will choose to see a nutritionist and follow up when they feel they have questions, but again, everyone is unique and will require different degrees of support. Some people may even just have some questions they want to verify or minor dietary tweaks and that’s it!

Are R.H.N.’s covered under extended health care plans?

The importance of a healthy diet on your overall health is now something that is being widely recognized. Most extended benefit providers offer coverage to visit a holistic nutritionist.

What can I expect from a consultation with a R.H.N.?

At the initial intake, your health history and current health concerns will be reviewed in detail. This gives the client ample opportunity to express their beliefs and concerns and ask any questions they may have. A holistic nutritionist will use all of this information to develop a protocol for the client, as well provide further support and guidance with meal options or a menu plan. The protocol usually focuses primarily on dietary changes but often includes lifestyle changes and supplementation.

Prior to the first meeting you will be asked to fill out a week long diet diary and health questionnaire. This is very helpful in determining what is and isn’t working for you. And if you’re nervous about being honest about what you ate or drank, put your worries at rest. I am a firm believer in the 80/20 rule and remind clients not to feel any guilt or shame if they feel they’ve slipped up on their health protocol. Putting yourself through the stress of feeling guilty is more harmful than the indulgence itself!

To book an appointment contact us at info@yaletownnaturopathic.com! Talk to you soon. Get well, stay well.

Spring Cleaning Starts with the Liver April 25, 2016

Posted by Dreamhealer in best vancouver naturopath, Healing, Health, organic, stress, stress reduction.
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Spring has sprung. As you clear through old clothing and items in the attic or garage, shaking off the general heaviness of winter, it’s also the perfect time to move any stagnation of energy in the liver. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), spring is liver time and it’s the perfect time to support its many complex functions.

What to expect if we support the liver well?

  • Allergies improve
  • Sleep better and through the night
  • Clearer skin
  • Smooth digestion
  • Energy and mood improves
  • Hormones are in better balance

Here are some of my favourite ways to support liver function:

Avoid over-consumption of alcohol

The liver is a detoxing organ. Alcohol increases the demand on the liver and can slow its function, especially in large amounts. If you’ve avoided that hangover, your liver is free to do other things for you!

Castor oil

This is Grandma’s oldest remedy! And I’m not talking about taking it internally. Castor oil is a fantastic way to improve circulation when used topically over joints, muscles AND over the liver. An easy way to do this is rub a thick layer of castor oil over the lower ribs on the right side (where the liver is), cover with an old towel and apply a hot water bottle for about 20-30 minutes a few times per week. This draws circulation to the area and flushes the liver, improving digestion and detoxing the body of anything that is in excess.

Lemon water

Generally this is a great way to start the day, particularly hot water and lemon because this allows priming of the digestive tract for the day. I love it also before EVERY meal because this sends a signal to the gut and the brain that digestion is needed and liver function is best when the gut is not backed up, but flowing freely.

Organic fresh fruits and veggies, particularly cruciferous

Eat your broccoli, eat your cabbage, eat your kale, eat your cauliflower, eat your brussel sprouts, eat your bok choy, etc. Cruciferous vegetables provide the liver detox pathways with essential phytochemicals to help clear waste from the body. Organic is important because, like alcohol and some medications, pesticides and herbicides wreak havoc on the gut and burden the kidneys and the liver, because they need these organs to show them the way out.

Stress reduction

This is always a good idea. According to TCM, stress, anger and frustration cause and are a sign of Liver Qi (energy) stagnation, which in turn contributes to irritability, muscle tension, hormone imbalances and other health concerns. Think of a traffic jam in the city. We want the energy flowing freely through the whole body and not stuck unhappily in one place.

Get the blood flowing

Getting the blood flowing through the whole body gets it moving through the liver. Get a good sweat going everyday to prevent stagnation of energy and help things flow. Things like yoga, tai chi and Qigong can help move the Liver Qi gently and powerfully.

Liver supportive herbs such as turmeric, milk thistle and dandelion root

Talk to your naturopathic or herbal healthcare practitioner about some of my favourite herbs, and others that may be right for you. Herbs such as these support the liver detox pathways in regulating inflammation and clearing toxins from the body.

TLC

Always my favourite prescription!

Particularly for supporting the liver, here are a few ideas to give your liver some tender loving care:

  • Abdominal massage can be very powerful because it can help move waste out of the body more effectively and help bring essential circulation to the organs
  • Acupuncture is very effective for moving Liver Qi
  • Meditation (remember in “Eat, Pray Love”, when she’s told by the guru to meditate and smile to her liver :). Do that.
  • Laughter and joyful activities

A joyful spring to you and your families, and lots of smiles to your liver!

 

Positive Period. April 21, 2016

Posted by Dreamhealer in Alternative medicine, best vancouver naturopath, best vancouver nutritionist, Emotion, exercise, Healing, Health.
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“Women complain about premenstrual syndrome (PMS), but I think of it as the only time of the month that I can be myself.”
Roseanne Barr

The Monthlies, Aunt Flo, TOM, The Crimson Curse, Shark Week! We all have our own euphemism for our “monthly visitor”. I won’t bore you or insult your intelligence by explaining what happens in your body to bring about your monthly friend (though if you are interested here is a link to short informative video http://ed.ted.com/lessons/how-menstruation-works-emma-bryce). Instead, my intention is to maybe tell you some interesting and hopefully useful facts that you may not already know and hopefully open up a dialogue about this topic that takes up so much of our lives but that we are still a little shy about. For instance did you know that humans, monkeys, apes and bats are almost the only species known to go through a menstrual cycle like ours? Or that during the three to seven days you have your period, you lose about 30-40mLs of blood? This is only about 2-3 tablespoons, although up to 80mLs (5.4 tablespoons) is still considered normal. A lot less then you thought right? Well, we actually loose four to six tablespoons of menstrual fluid but only some of this is blood. The rest is made up of cervical mucus, vaginal secretions and flora and endometrial tissue and uterine lining- sorry if you find that gross but that’s the human body for you!

Let’s get serious for a second now though. Worldwide up to 90% of women use a homemade device in the place of a sanitary pad or tampon because they are too expensive to buy every month. In parts of the world girls miss 20% of school days (4.5 days per month) due to their periods. This is not simply crying off school due to PMS, but because schools lack the basic hygiene facilities for a girl to keep herself clean during her period. Another reason is the stigma and taboo that surround menstruation. In different cultures around the globe women are segregated from their own society during this time. In some cultures they are not allowed to even drink from the same water source as the rest of their village. Apart from being oppressive this practice of isolating women from society during their period (which incidentally makes up about 7% of your life) is damaging to women psychologically and to society as a whole. When women are isolated like this they cannot contribute to society in the ways they normally would through work etc. “Well that’s a shame but it doesn’t effect me” you might be saying to yourself. Well actually, it does. The stigma surrounding menstruation is not confined to developing countries. Naturally those of us lucky enough to live in the Western world enjoy a whole lot more privilege than our counterparts in different parts of the globe, but how many times have you lowered your voice when talking about your cycle? Or hidden your sanitary pad or tampon in your pocket when going out  to the washroom? We are taught from a young age that periods are shameful and we share a learned embarrassment about periods with women everywhere. So what can we do to counteract this? Of course education is key. Educating both boys and girls about menstruation from an early age is the first step in removing the misconceptions and stigma surrounding the topic. We can also contribute in our attitude towards the issue. Try to change your thinking and do not shy away from talking openly about your period. Perhaps use less of the hushed tones and circumlocution around the subject- although I will admit, some of those euphemisms are pretty funny.

The menstrual cycle which gives rise to your period is 28-35 days for most women. It begins for most women around 12-14 years of age and ends somewhere between the ages of 48-55. The average woman has about 450 periods in her lifetime and there are about 300 million women having theirs right now. One key thing to note about your period is that it does not just affect you the week you are menstruating. It’s not even just the week before when your suffering from the dreaded PMS. Your menstrual cycle, or rather the organs and hormones that control it, are at work constantly throughout the month to create the correct conditions within the body for follicular development, ovulation, implantation or menstruation. That is not to say that between the ages of 12 and 55 all women are on a hormonal rollercoaster that they have no control of. Looking at it in a different way we can see the positives associated with each phase of our cycle. At different times throughout the month our body is doing everything it can to get us in the perfect state for pregnancy- and this affects our brain too. Rather than surrendering to the unstoppable force that is nature/evolution/your own body there is no reason why we can’t ride the wave (so to speak) and harness all this power.

Follicular Phase- This is when the Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and Luteinizing Hormone (LH) are secreted by the pituitary gland in the brain. Neurochemically this is the time of the month that women have the most access to creative energy. It’s the perfect time to begin new projects. So as your body begins it’s new phase, so can you!

Ovulatory Phase- This is when when we have the most energy and highest communication skills. Try channeling this by having important talks with loved ones or professional colleagues during this time.

Leutial Phase- This is when the lining of your uterus is thickening. This is the time when our minds become most detail orientated. Use this time to organize! Your desk, your house, your mind, your life.

Menstruation- This is when there is the most communication between the right and left side of your brain. It’s a time to evaluate. Rather than harbour negative feeling about this time I like to use my period as my time to hibernate and give myself some TLC. This can be different for everyone. To some it might be slobbing it on the couch in PJs, to others its the time when they allow themselves those treats that they avoid the rest of the month. I like to think of it as my body physically reminding me that it’s there and it needs to be taken care of. It’s a good time to check in with yourself, in every sense. Here are some ways that I found helpful to “check in” with myself during my period (or anytime).

Step 1. Exercise!

Don’t get me wrong I’m the least motivated person in the world when it comes to getting myself to the gym. But if you can muster the willpower you know it will feel great. It doesn’t have to be a 10k run or a power turbo max blast crossfit workout (that’s not a real thing but you get my drift). Do a relaxed restorative yoga class -or youtube video if you don’t feel like leaving the house.  Take an evening stroll in the park. When have you ever exercised and thought afterwards “Well I would have been so much better off sitting at home eating a cookie”?. That’s right, never. And you can still have the cookie after if you really want it. You are on your period after all.

Step 2. Alone time

There is so much to be said for, closing your door and just being with your own thoughts and feelings. Hibernate. For some people this can be meditation or prayer. Some people like to go for a walk. Some like to light some candles and have a bath. Personally I like to listen to my favourite music and clean the house, because cleaning the house helps me to clear my mind too (but that’s just me). Whatever it is you like to do when you are totally by yourself- make some time and do that. And yes, you do have to switch your phone off for this one.

Step 3. Eating

You betcha! Every girl’s all time favourite thing to do when the reds are playing downtown. In keeping with the theme of self care during my period it’s a good time to try out some new healthy recipes that are also gonna be delicious. Taking the time to cook something yummy for yourself is a great way to be kind to you. If you’re not into that- get someone else to do it for you. Remember, red letter days are our excuse to make the rest of the world pick up the slack! Just try to give your body some wholesome, nutritious fuel during this time. No one is saying you can’t have chocolate AND kale.

Step 4. Think positive!

If you dread your period it’s going to be dreadful. Try and change any negative feelings you have around your period and think of it as your body’s automatic reset. Out with the old and in with the new! Consider this your time to reconnect, reevaluate and reassess. Of course not everyone has the best time during their period and there are physical and emotional hurdles to be overcome. You might feel like your body is your enemy during this time but it’s not, it’s the closest friend you’ll ever have – awh! So if you’re not feeling the best during this time find something that always cheers you up and make some time for that. Maybe catching up with friends you haven’t seen in a while or seeing that movie you wanted to watch. If you really can’t face being social then at least make plans to do something nice next week so you can feel happy about that.

References

https://www.ted.com/talks/robyn_stein_deluca_the_good_news_about_pms?language=en#t-120387

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9vKRj9yV8pI

To learn more on how to balance hormone or treat yourself with natural remedies contact us today at info@yaletownnaturopathic.com.

How Can Integrative Oncology Prevent Cancer? April 14, 2016

Posted by Dreamhealer in best vancouver naturopath, Cancer, cancer therapy, Cancer Treatment, Healing.
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Written By: Dr. Adam McLeod, ND, BSc (Hons)

It seems that every week there is another headline talking about the importance of preventative medicine. These articles often focus on how much money governments could save if people were adequately screened to treat disease before it manifests into a complex clinical pathology. Clearly improved screening is important in the context of preventative medicine but this approach only allows us to detect disease at an earlier stage. What is frequently neglected is the fact that much can be done to modify your risks so that the disease will not develop in the first place. This is particularly relevant in the context of cancer.

Every day I see patients who were treated by the cancer agency before being declared cancer free. Upon being declared cancer free they are quickly discharged from the cancer agency and they are given no tools or information about how to prevent the recurrence of cancer. In fact, when patients inquire about what they can do to prevent future cancers they are directly told “nothing”. This could not be further from the truth and [the scientific literature does not support] this bizarre statement. Any doctor who claims to be practicing evidence based medicine must stop telling patients that there is nothing that they can do because this is not what the scientific literature says on the subject. There are many things that can be done to prevent the recurrence of cancer and often the proper application of only a few simple natural therapies can substantially reduce the risk of recurrence.

In this article I will break down a few simple lifestyle modifications and natural therapies which when used appropriately can help to prevent the recurrence of cancer. There are of course additional strategies that can be used to reduce the risk of recurrence and this article only discusses a couple of approaches. You must have professional guidance when implementing these therapies as they must be used in the proper clinical context. Not all cancers are the same and completely different strategies are used with different forms of cancer.

Reducing your intake of simple sugars

Study after study has demonstrated a direct connection between sugar intake and cancer risk14,15,16,17,18. Cancer cells often have significantly more insulin receptors than normal cells. Therefore they respond rapidly to insulin and they will always be more effective at grabbing sugar from the blood stream and utilizing it as an energy source.

Patients often get confused about what this information means and how it can be integrated appropriately into their diet. There is a big difference in the metabolism of a food rich in simple sugars compared to a food that contains complex carbohydrates. When you eat a food rich in simple sugars such as candy, the body rapidly absorbs the sugar. This causes a rapid and significant elevation of the sugar concentration in your blood. In response to this sugar spike, the pancreas secretes insulin, which circulates through the entire body in an effort to bring the sugar levels back to normal.

Insulin interacts with the receptors on the surface of both normal and cancerous cells. Upon interacting with the cells, it triggers them to pull sugar in from the blood until the blood sugar level drops back to a normal level. Cancer cells have more insulin receptors, so they will always take advantage of this insulin spike more effectively than normal cells. It is this spike in insulin and insulin-like growth factors that stimulate the growth of cancerous cells15. In other words, it is not the sugar content that is stimulating growth; it is the response to sudden increases in sugar levels.

Complex carbohydrates are metabolized very differently in the body. They do not cause a sudden spike in blood sugar levels. The sugar in complex carbohydrates is slowly released as the food passes through the gastrointestinal tract. As a result, it is not necessary for the pancreas to secrete as much insulin because there is no spike in blood sugar that needs to be controlled. Often by making just a few simple dietary changes it is possible to dramatically reduce these sugar spikes and eliminate hidden sources of these simple sugars.

The correlation between high glycemic diets and cancer risk is well established. It is essential that patients looking to prevent recurrence of cancer adhere to a low glycemic diet. In one study researchers looked for a connection between fasting blood glucose levels and risk of cancer recurrence. There was a strong correlation between high fasting blood glucose levels and cancer recurrence20. In other words, the women who consistently had high levels of sugar in their blood had a higher risk of developing cancer. This is not surprising given what we know about the relationship between sugar and cancer.

Supporting the Immune System

After removing cancer it is critical that your immune system remains strong to patrol the body and attack any residual cells prior to them manifesting into a clinical disease. There are many naturopathic therapies which can be used to effectively support the immune system. The first year following the removal of cancer is the most important time to stimulate the immune system.

It is absolutely essential that you have professional guidance when developing a treatment plan to support the immune system. Every cancer is different and in some cancers this is completely contraindicated. You do not have to be on many different supplements to stimulate the immune system. In fact, less is more when it comes to natural immune supports.

I always recommend that patients keep their treatment plan dynamic and simple when trying to stimulate the immune system. The reason I say this is due to the biochemistry behind these natural immune supports. Essentially we are throwing a molecule at the immune system which it does not recognize and as a result the immune system gets excited. In the process of getting excited in response to these new supplements, it also gets excited against any cancer cells that remain. The problem is that if you keep using the same supplement repeatedly for a long period of time (ie. years) then your immune system simply stops reacting to it. If you throw everything at your immune system right away then your immune system will eventually stop reacting to everything.

Natural therapies such as astragalus, coriolus versicolor and mistletoe have a long history of safe and effective use for immune stimulation. They work very well to stimulate the immune system and when used appropriately it can give your body the tools that it needs to fight of any residual remains of the disease.

Exercise and Cancer

Everyone has heard that exercise is good for your well-being. Exercise has been shown to elevate your mood and increase energy levels. Patients who regularly exercise are statistically less likely to develop a number of serious health conditions. The effectiveness of exercise is not questioned in the medical community; yet when it comes to cancer care, patients often forget about the benefits of exercise. Instead, they focus their attention on more exotic treatment plans. Exercise is an important part of any integrative cancer program.

There are several reasons why exercise has such a positive impact on cancer patients3. The immune system becomes more active during exercise as the monocytes increase the concentration of specific receptors on their surface1. Exercise also significantly helps patients with their sleep and it is well known that the majority of healing takes place during sleep. When you get better quality sleep, your cells will be less stressed and this will significantly boost the strength of your immune system.

Not only is exercise important during cancer therapies, it is also effective at preventing cancer recurrence7. Although some researchers dispute the significance of recurrence prevention, no one disputes that regular exercise decreases overall mortality in cancer survivors5,6. Women with estrogen positive breast cancer after a successful surgery will be put on tamoxifen for a minimum of five years to reduce the risk of recurrence by only a few percentage points in some cases8. In one large study of women with a history of breast cancer, it showed that women who walked three to five hours per week were 43% less likely to develop recurrent breast cancer and 50% less likely to die from breast cancer. This exercise group was compared to women who engaged in less than one hour of physical activity per week9. This study clearly demonstrates the importance of exercise in the context of cancer prevention. I find it amazing that some patients will readily comply with taking a drug for five to ten years, yet are resistant to regular exercise.

The exercise program does not need to be an extreme and rigorous routine, nor does it have to be a specific activity to prevent recurrence. All that matters is that your cardiovascular system gets a good workout from regular aerobic activity. Even a moderate cardio workout for less than 30 minutes, five days per week, can be very helpful. Make the time for this activity because it can make a significant difference in your response to treatment.

At every phase in cancer treatment, regular exercise is a powerful adjunctive therapy. Regular exercise helps to prevent the development of cancer and it also helps patients to get through the aggressive cancer therapies necessary to kill cancer. More cancer patients need to be aware of the simple fact that regular exercise makes a significant difference when fighting cancer. This is a simple yet effective adjunctive therapy that should be actively encouraged in every patient capable of regular exercise.

Meditation

You can help your body fight cancer by reducing stress and focusing your intentions on healing. One of the most comprehensive intervention studies in cancer research evaluated the effects of stress management techniques, such as relaxation on cancer recurrence following removal of malignant melanoma11. Not only did the relaxed group experience reduced psychological distress, they also had more active immune systems than the control group not practicing relaxation. A six-year follow up of these patients showed a trend toward greater recurrence and higher mortality rates in the control group, compared to the relaxed group. The bottom line is that patients who focus on reducing stress and focus their minds on healing not only have a better prognosis, they also have lower rates of developing cancer in the first place10. Given what we know about the connection between immune function and stress, this conclusion is not surprising.

If there was a drug which had a similar effect on reducing cancer recurrence, you can bet that every patient who had a melanoma surgically removed would be on that medication. The great thing about this is that you don’t even need a pill, you can make a measurable difference by reducing stress and focusing your intentions. When fighting cancer it is essential that the patient use every tool at their disposal to increase the chances of a successful recovery. The immune system must be strong to fight off any serious disease. Our minds can dramatically influence how our cells respond to stress and this is intimately connected to the function of the immune system13. We all need to take control of our health and use this mind-body connection to our advantage. By reducing stress and focusing our minds on healing we will live longer and happier lives12. This is a powerful tool that we can all use to our advantage.

Dr. Adam McLeod is a Naturopathic Doctor (ND), BSc. (Hon) Molecular biology, Motivational Speaker and International Best Selling Author. He currently practices at his clinic in Vancouver, British Columbia where he focuses on integrative cancer treatments. http://www.yaletownnaturopathic.com

References:

1) Peters, C., et al. “Exercise, cancer and the immune response of monocytes.” Anticancer research 15.1 (1994): 175-179.

2) Mock, Victoria, et al. “Effects of exercise on fatigue, physical functioning, and emotional distress during radiation therapy for breast cancer.” Oncology nursing forum. Vol. 24. No. 6. 1997.

3) Burnham, Timothy R., and Anthony Wilcox. “Effects of exercise on physiological and psychological variables in cancer survivors.” Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise (2002).

4) Courneya, KERRY S. “Exercise in cancer survivors: an overview of research.” Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 35.11 (2003): 1846-1852.

5) Irwin, Melinda L., et al. “Randomized controlled trial of aerobic exercise on insulin and insulin-like growth factors in breast cancer survivors: the Yale Exercise and Survivorship study.” Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention 18.1 (2009): 306-313.

6) Irwin, Melinda L., et al. “Influence of pre-and postdiagnosis physical activity on mortality in breast cancer survivors: the health, eating, activity, and lifestyle study.” Journal of clinical oncology 26.24 (2008): 3958-3964.

7) Loprinzi, Paul D., et al. “Physical activity and the risk of breast cancer recurrence: a literature review.” Oncology nursing forum. Vol. 39. No. 3. Oncology Nursing Society, 2012.

8) Early Breast Cancer Trialists’ Collaborative Group. “Relevance of breast cancer hormone receptors and other factors to the efficacy of adjuvant tamoxifen: patient-level meta-analysis of randomised trials.” The lancet 378.9793 (2011): 771-784.

9) Holmes, Michelle D., et al. “Physical activity and survival after breast cancer diagnosis.” Jama 293.20 (2005): 2479-2486.

10) Bovbjerg, Dana H. “Psychoneuroimmunology. Implications for oncology?.” Cancer 67.S3 (1991): 828-832.

11) Fawzy, Fawzy I., et al. “Malignant melanoma: effects of an early structured psychiatric intervention, coping, and affective state on recurrence and survival 6 years later.” Archives of General Psychiatry 50.9 (1993): 681-689.

12) Fawzy, Fawzy I., et al. “A structured psychiatric intervention for cancer patients: I. Changes over time in methods of coping and affective disturbance.” Archives of General Psychiatry 47.8 (1990): 720-725.

13) Veenhoven, Ruut. “Healthy happiness: Effects of happiness on physical health and the consequences for preventive health care.” Journal of happiness studies 9.3 (2008): 449-469.

14) Augustin, L. S. A., et al. “Dietary glycemic index and glycemic load, and breast cancer risk: a case-control study.”Annals of Oncology 12.11 (2001): 1533-1538.

15) Franceschi, S., et al. “Dietary glycemic load and colorectal cancer risk.” Annals of Oncology 12.2 (2001): 173-178.

16) Michaud, Dominique S., et al. “Dietary sugar, glycemic load, and pancreatic cancer risk in a prospective study.” Journal of the National Cancer Institute 94.17 (2002): 1293-1300.

17) Gnagnarella, Patrizia, et al. “Glycemic index, glycemic load, and cancer risk: a meta-analysis.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 87.6 (2008): 1793-1801.

18) Qi, Lu, and Frank B. Hu. “Dietary glycemic load, whole grains, and systemic inflammation in diabetes: the epidemiological evidence.” Current opinion in lipidology 18.1 (2007): 3-8.

19) Turina, Matthias, Donald E. Fry, and Hiram C. Polk Jr. “Acute hyperglycemia and the innate immune system: clinical, cellular, and molecular aspects.” Critical care medicine 33.7 (2005): 1624-1633.

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5 Foods You Should Eat More of in 2016 April 7, 2016

Posted by Dreamhealer in best vancouver naturopath, best vancouver nutritionist, Healing, nutrition, Nutritionist.
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Written by: Breanne Dunlop, RHN

Looking to improve your health through diet? Here are five foods you should eat more of in 2016:

  1. Free-Range Organic Eggs

One of the most wholesome foods you can eat is an egg in its whole form. Eggs are a great way to start the day, providing the body with a nice balance of protein and fat to fuel you until lunchtime. As a complete protein, eggs contain all nine essential amino acids that we must obtain through our diet as our bodies can not make them. Eggs are extremely easy to incorporate into your diet as they are easy and quick to make in the morning scrambled into an omelet or simply poached on toast – hard boiled eggs also make a good protein rich snack for on the go. If you don’t have much time in the mornings, try making up ahead of time a frittata or egg cups for a grab and go breakfast you can enjoy throughout the week.

For those of you on the egg white bandwagon.. stop throwing out those yolks!  The yolk is the tastiest part when enjoyed over-easy or poached and is the nutrition powerhouse of the egg. Separating the egg yolk from the egg white disrupts the synergy of the egg and removes all of the healthy fat (which is satiating and curbs your appetite) and lots of other nutrients.

Many people avoid egg yolks and other sources of fat due to the former belief that fat = high cholesterol; we now know this isn’t true.  Though dietary cholesterol shouldn’t be ignored, it is important to note that much of our cholesterol is produced by the liver which is why those on plant-based diets may still have issues with managing their cholesterol.  Unless you are eating copious amount of eggs every day, enjoying the yolk is not something to stress over. Bottom line – don’t mess with nature and eat your yolk! 

2.  Leafy Greens

Many people believe that we need to eat meat to get iron and drink milk for calcium but we should be paying more attention to our leafy greens which are great sources of both these important minerals. Green veggies are also great for detoxification as they are rich in fibre which not only helps to rid your body of toxins but also aids in weight management by keeping you feeling fuller for longer.

Even if you aren’t one for having a raw salad every day (which actually isn’t beneficial in Vancouver’s winter season), leafy greens are still very easy to incorporate into your diet.  Add your favourite greens to your morning smoothie in the summertime or roast up some seasonal squash, root veggies and top with sautéed greens for a hearty winter salad.  You can play it safe by sticking to common greens like lettuce, romaine, spinach or kale or get adventurous with mustard greens, endive and radicchio. I strongly recommend to buy your greens organic as most conventional alternatives are heavily sprayed with pesticides.

Right now my favourite way to enjoy greens is sautéing black kale in my cast iron pan (added benefit for those who need a boost in iron) along with fresh crushed garlic and lemon juice and topped with fresh avocado and sea salt.

3.  Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are another source of complete protein but are vegan friendly. Though small in size, chia seeds pack a punch and are high in healthy fat and fibre. Chia seeds have 10 grams of fibre per two tablespoons, with most of it being soluble fibre.  When mixed with water it forms a gel-like substance, similar to ‘flax eggs’, and this is why it is very important to drink lots of water when eating foods high in soluble fibre.

Chia seeds are highly concentrated with the omega-3 Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) which is important to combat the high amounts of omega 6 we see in westernized diets.  While both types of omega fats are essential in our diet, it is the ratio (and quality) of our omegas that we need to pay attention to. Omega-6 is found in high amounts in processed seed and vegetable oils and so it is best to avoid these whenever possible. Omega-6 is pro-inflammatory while omega-3 is anti-inflammatory.  Sources vary but most agree that having a ratio of 4:1 omega 6: omega 3. Those eating a westernized diet are having much more omega 6 with a ratio as high as 25:1 or even 40:1.  When you understand the health implications of chronic inflammation, it is no surprise that we are seeing exponentially more cases of inflammatory conditions from GI disturbances, such as IBD, Crohn’s Disease to asthma, arthritis and even cancer.

Again, rather than relying on dairy products that are often heavily processed and hard for many of us to properly digest, look to chia seeds to help you meet your calcium requirement – a two tablespoon serving offers 15% of your daily need.  This along with chia’s high phosphorous content contribute to optimal bone and oral health.

Due to their size and neutral flavour, chia seeds can be easily incorporated to any meal. Sprinkle them on your salad, in with your homemade granola or smoothie, as a binding agent replacement for eggs in baked goods, or make a chia seed pudding by blending with almond milk, honey and top with berries for a grab and go breakfast.

4.  Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is all the rage these days and it is no surprise why when you look at all the benefits this superfood has to offer.  Coconut oil is a healthy saturated fat that is both practical and flavourful. Coconut oil is primarily made up of medium-chain triglycerides which makes it an easy fat to digest and gives it many of its favourable properties. Coconut oil is a thermogenic food which means it helps to boost and support our metabolism while acting as an instant energy source by helping to burn fat for energy. For these reasons, coconut oil is big in the fitness world. With high amounts of lauric acid, coconut oil has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties and when ingested can help support our immune systems by fighting off the bad bacteria and keeping our gut health in line.  It’s high smoke point makes coconut oil ideal for cooking in comparison to olive oil which has a low smoke point and is better suited for salad dressings as it easily turns rancid when exposed to heat.

On top of it’s internal benefits coconut oil has many external uses. Enjoy it as a natural body moisturizer or as hair serum to tame dry ends. If you really want to get creative and take control of your personal care products, coconut oil can be used to make homemade products like toothpaste and deodorant. Some sources say that to reap all the benefits of coconut oil it is best to consume about three tablespoons per day of organic cold-pressed oil. 

Whether you get on board with the trend of bulletproofing your coffee or simply stir a tablespoon of coconut oil into your morning bowl of oats, make sure you’re taking advantage of this tasty superfood that’s at our fingertips.

5.  Avocado

If you’re like me, avocados added to just about anything can add insta-enjoyment to just about any dish.  Enjoy it on the side of your morning omelette, for lunch sliced into your sandwich or soup, for dinner on top of your salad or even for dessert made into a decadent avocado chocolate mousse (trust me on this one). Not only is avocado rich in healthy fat, it is high in fibre and water – both critical in keeping our digestive systems moving, Vitamin B5 which is important for energy production, and Vitamin K which supports bone health and blood clotting.

*Wild Fish

While I enjoy fish and choose to have them as a regular part of my diet, this recommendation may be seen as controversial due to the problems that can arise from fish farming and overfishing. The choices we make can have a big impact on marine life. For guidance on healthier options, look for the Ocean Wise symbol or click here for a list of sustainable choices.

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