Posted by Dreamhealer in Healing, Health, Supplements.
Written by: Dr. Reuben Dinsmore
I know that I’m preaching to the choir here – if you have been to see a naturopathic doctor, there’s a very high chance you’ve benefitted from the recommendation of certain nutraceutical supplements along your treatment journey. And so I invite you to take a moment to add your voice to the ongoing consultation with Health Canada over whether or not NHPs should be regulated in the same way that drugs are.
I wholeheartedly agree that there needs to be clear regulations over any product that is being marketed for its health benefits. However, there are various reasons why it’s impractical and unnecessary to require manufacturers of NHPs to go through the same procedures as drug manufacturers.
First, drugs are typically single ingredient formulations, with a single or occasionally dual purpose – for example, acetaminophen for pain relief, and also for fever reduction. When combinations are marketed, as in a cold formula, each of the single ingredients undergo their own clinical trials to prove their efficacy in whatever health claim that ingredient is aimed at.
Many supplements, particularly herbal formulations, are designed to take advantage of the synergy between the various ingredients. Less often do we recommend a single remedy for a single purpose, as a main tenet is treating the patient as a whole instead of simply a symptom in a body system.
This becomes difficult, even impossible, to prove efficacy of a formula, as clinical trials are designed around single ingredients, to exclude all possible variables. In addition, supplements are intended to work over a longer time period than drugs – helping the body return to its natural state of health rather than pharmaceutically forcing it into an unnatural place. I’ve often asked patients to be patient – that they’ve often spent decades getting to their current state, so they shouldn’t expect me to fix them in a few weeks. The expense of running a clinical trial is difficult at best, for a product that typically can’t be patented and charged drug company prices for – this onus becomes even more difficult when a clinical trial needs to run over many months to determine efficacy.
Bottom line, changing the regulation requirements will increase prices of NHPs and would likely make access much more difficult – and for what purpose?
Please consider expressing your views, hopefully in opposition to this attempt to fix a system that isn’t even broken. You can read more and find contact information at the following site:
Dr. Reuben Dinsmore, ND
Posted by Dreamhealer in Healing, Health.
Tags: alignment, bones, injury, ligaments, osteopathy, tissue
Many patients have asked us ‘What is Manual Osteopathic Medicine and how can it help me?’ so we decided to create a blog post with all the answers to your questions!
Here is a breakdown of osteopathy and the conditions it can treat:
What is Manual Osteopathic Medicine?
Osteopathy is a natural and scientific way to treat the whole person. It was developed by Andrew T. Still, a frontier physician and American Civil War field surgeon, who grew disillusioned with the failure of conventional medicine and it’s dependence on addictive and often ineffective drugs. Osteopathy is a safe drug and surgery free alternative to treat problems that arise in the body.
Backed by a deep understanding of anatomy and physiology, the practitioner uses highly refined palpation skills to diagnose and treat imbalances. Practitioners use their hands to find problem areas in the body, then manipulate the bones, muscles and connective tissue to restore balance. Rather than simply treating the symptoms, an osteopath seeks to determine and treat the root of dysfunction resulting in lasting improvement.
As well as taking a detailed medical history of your symptoms, osteopaths also take time to look at your general lifestyle, including work, diet and exercise. This allows them to determine the underlying reasons for health problems and offer lifestyle and exercise advice to help prevent problems from recurring.
By bringing the body back into alignment the whole body functions more smoothly. Respiratory, digestive, excretory, hormonal, lymphatic, circulatory and nervous systems function more optimally. Fresh oxygen, blood and nutrients are brought into areas that were previously restricted. Manual therapy improves circulation, reduces swelling, eases pain and helps to restore movement.
As tension is released, energy flows more readily throughout the body allowing the patient to experience a greater sense of well being and balance. Allow osteopathy to guide your body back to a place of total body health, so you can focus on what’s important to you.
Manual Osteopathy is covered by most extended health care plans, please check with your insurance provider for details.
What are the Principles of Osteopathy?
- Structure governs function
Structure and function are thought to be intricately entwined. The structure must be able to move freely and not impinge on nerves and blood vessels. A body that is structurally sound is much less likely to be a vessel for disease.
- The body functions as an integrated unit
Everything is connected and interdependent. If one part of the body is compromised or compensated it will affect the whole.
- The body has the ability to self regulate
When structurally aligned the body has the inherent ability to self regulate. Once the fluid channels and nerve pathways are opened, the body is better able to self heal.
What are some techniques an Osteopath might use to treat me?
Trigger Point Release
Releases painful muscle contractions using the activator gun as well as manual methods
Releases restrictions in the connective tissue using soft tissue techniques
Soft Tissue Massage
Melts tension at all levels to create an overall feeling of relaxation
Gently brings the joints back into alignment, creating more space. The mobility of the joints is increased by passively moving skeletal joints, allowing the body to move with more fluidity and ease
Muscle Energy Techniques
Strengthens and stretches the muscles, tendons and ligaments through guided active and passive stretches
This gentle therapy can be helpful with headaches, stress and fluid retention. The practitioner treats subtle imbalances by tapping into the primary respiratory mechanism to clear blockages in the cerebrospinal fluid
Demonstrate stretches that can be practiced at home to create more lasting improvement
What conditions can Osteopathic medicine treat?
- Sore or pulled muscles and joints
- Chronic pain, fibromyalgia
- Postural problems
- Repetitive strain injuries
- TMJ syndrome and jaw problems
- Sprains and strains
- Whip lash, frozen shoulder
- Headached (tension, migraine)
- Digestive problems
- Post surgical pain, scar tissue
- Stress and anxiety
- Pinched nerve, sciatica
- Herniated or slipped disc
- Tendinitis or carpal tunnel
Interested in booking a treatment or want to learn more about Osteopathic medicine? Contact us today at 604-235-8068 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org to book an appointment or a free 15 minutes consultation to see if you would benefit from Osteopathic treatments.
Posted by Dreamhealer in Acupuncture, fertility, Healing, Health.
Tags: acpuncture, fertility, Health, menstruation, pregnancy, womens health
Written by Heidi BrockMyer
Just like nature cycles through four seasons during the course of the year, your body cycles through four phases during each menstrual cycle. As you tune into the changing seasons of the year, you eat different foods and switch clothing to support your body as it adjusts to the environmental changes.
These adjustments are intuitive. You instinctively know to eat in-season produce, drink warm teas during the winter, and eat refreshing watermelon to stay hydrated during hot summer months. However you may not be as in tune with the needs of your body during each phase of your menstrual cycle. Supporting each phase helps you to maintain a regular healthy menstrual cycle, balance your hormones and sustain the health of your eggs and uterine lining.
In our culture, we aren’t taught much about our reproductive systems, let alone about the phases of our menstrual cycle. Many women don’t know what fertile cervical mucus is until they start learning to chart their cycles.
Most of us don’t know that a healthier cycle is the prerequisite for improving fertility and creating a healthy pregnancy. I compare it to tilling the soils to prepare for an abundant harvest. By gaining insight into the rhythms of your cycle, you can influence the health of your cycle and your fertility, which is where the wisdom of Chinese medicine has so much to offer.
Each phase typically lasts about seven days if you maintain a regular 28 day cycle. The first phase of your cycle begins with the first day of your period. Although you may only have flow for one to three days, this first week is considered the first phase.
The primary goal during this phase is to completely shed your uterine lining. Energy needs to be flowing in the right direction, which is down and out of your body. This is a delicate phase. A lot of movement is taking place and so your body should rest and be allowed to do it’s thing.
It takes energy for the body to release the lining. If energy flow is weakened or disrupted, you may not fully shed the lining. Old stagnant blood can stick around and cause clots.
Acupuncturist’s Tip: Stay hydrated and drink additional electrolytes. If you crave red meat, you likely need the iron. Otherwise avoid eating heavy and greasy foods.
During your period, avoid exercising. Gentle stretching and light walking are acceptable.
PHASE 2-FOLLICULAR PHASE
BUILD YIN AND BLOOD
Phase two begins around one week after your period starts and lasts until ovulation.
The primary goal during the second phase is to rebuild blood and nutrients to nourish a healthy uterine lining and support the maturation of a healthy egg for ovulation. As soon as your flow stops, you can begin nourishing your body to build up blood and fluids again.
This is considered the yin phase (versus yang) of your menstrual cycle. Yin is the substance and fluid material of your body, while yang is energy that fuels movement and function.
Although it’s important during all four phases of your cycle to get a good night’s sleep, your body especially needs it during this time. By missing out on quality sleep, you may not replenish your blood supply adequately, which can affect the health of your lining and eggs, especially if this is a chronic habit.
Acupuncturist’s Tip: : During this phase, eat plenty of nourishing foods, like soups and stews, iron-rich cooked vegetables and organic animal protein to rebuild your blood supply and mature an egg for ovulation.
Avoid excessively sweating and overly vigorous exercise during this time. Get plenty of sleep.
PROMOTE YANG (WARMTH AND MOVEMENT)
Phase three begins with ovulation and lasts for one week following ovulation. This phase begins when the “yin” (blood and fluids) comes to a climax and transforms into yang as the body signals that it’s ready for ovulation.
The yang phase embodies warmth and movement. This is why your basal body temperature should rise immediately after ovulating. The hormones released during this phase of your cycle warm up the body to promote the release of the egg-containing follicle.
The warmth encourages dilation and blood flow so that the egg can be released from the follicle and travel unobstructed down the open fallopian tubes. Yangenergy catalyzes the follicular shell to transform into the corpus luteum.
Acupuncturist’s Tip:During this phase, keep your feet, lower back and abdomen warm. Stretching the hips, lower back, and pelvic area can help increase blood flow and movement in the reproductive organs while relieving congestion.
Avoid cold foods, raw vegetables, and phlegm producing foods, like sugar and dairy during this phase as these can cause congestion and fluid buildup in your tubes and uterus. Congestion makes it difficult for the sperm to reach the eggs and for an embryo to make the journey down the tubes.
PHASE 4-IMPLANTATION OR PRE-MENSTRUAL PHASE
REGULATE THE FLOW OF QI (PREMENSTRUAL PHASE) OR PROMOTE YANG (IMPLANTATION)
This phase begins about one week after ovulation and ends the day you get your period or a confirmed pregnancy with the first day of your late period.
This phase sustains the warmth and movement of energy or “qi”. Your temperatures should continue to stay high during this phase and typically drop off right before you begin your period. If implantation took place (usually between 7-10 days after ovulation), then warmth and blood flow will continue to be the main priority as you nourish a growing embryo.
If you are not pregnant, the yang energy gathers to a peak then transforms back into yin with the onset of your period. Your hormones adjust before you start shedding the uterine lining. When this energy bottlenecks, it may result in a variety of PMS symptoms like moodiness, bloating, and headaches.
Acupuncturist’s Tip: During this phase to minimize stress, as it disrupts the flow of qi and can worsen the symptoms. Caffeine and alcohol should also be avoided, while exercise and stretching helps regulate the flow ofqi.
Your body performs infinite miracles every moment of every day in every cell. The better you understand your body, the better you can support it. The more in tune you are with your cycle, the more you can till the soils of your fertility.
To book your appointment contact us today at 604-235-8068 or email email@example.com for more information on how we can help you on your path to wellness.
Article Retrieved from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/how-to-balance-the-phases-of-your-menstrual-cycle-to_us
Posted by Dreamhealer in best vancouver naturopath, best vancouver nutritionist, Diet, Healing, Health, Naturopathic Doctor, Naturopathic Medicine.
Tags: Diet, grain-free, Health, Nutrition, paleo, protein
Written by: Dr. Kaleigh Coolsaet
The Paleolithic diet, shortened to the ‘Paleo’ Diet, is becoming more popular and more people are starting to adapt it into their healthy lifestyle. Most patients come in asking what exactly is a paleo diet, is it healthy, and is it right for me?
The paleo diet is a nutrient dense way of eating based on eating a variety of quality meats, seafood, vegetables, fruits, eggs, nuts and seeds. It focuses on eating whole foods that have not been processed, while avoiding nutrient poor processed and refined foods.
When eating a paleo diet, and focusing on nutrient rich foods this in turns improves our health by helping improve digestion through healing our digestive tract and feeding the healthy bacteria. It also has other benefits for our bodies as it can improve our immune function, improve our ability to regulate hormones and boost our metabolism.
The foods that are avoided in the paleo diet including grains, legumes, dairy, alcohol, sugar. These foods are pro-inflammatory to our system. These foods tend to be calorie rich, and nutrient poor; what we call “empty calories”. They can also cause irritation to our digestive tract. So by eliminating these foods from our diet, we are able to focus on more nutrient dense, and healing foods to help us improve energy and nourish our bodies.
|Foods to Include
||Foods to Avoid
||Starches & Sugars
|Nuts & Seeds
||Highly refined & processed fats
On a metabolic level the paleo diet helps improve lean muscle mass, reduce excess body fat and maintaining stable blood sugar levels. It provides your body with all the nutrients for maintaining stable energy levelsthroughout the day and can help improve your sleep quality.
In summary, the paleo diet is a nutrient dense and anti-inflammatory diet, which can help improve many conditions including: Allergies, IBS, Diabetes, Skin conditions (ex. Eczema, Psoriasis), Depression, Cancer, Obesity, Infertility and more.
Is the paleo diet right for you? Before starting any dietary changes it is always recommended to speak to your healthcare practitioner to make sure you are eating and maintaining a balanced diet.
Best in Health,
Dr. Kaleigh Coolsaet practices at Yaletown Naturopathic Clinic, contact us today to book you appointment at 604-235-8068 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org. Get well, stay well.
Posted by Dreamhealer in best vancouver naturopath, best vancouver nutritionist, Healing, Health.
Tags: Health, hydration, Nutrition, water
Written by: Dr. Kaleigh Coolsaet
Now that summer is fast approaching its time to think water! During the summer months, we tend to be more active. Add that with warmer temperatures and we sweat a lot more. Keeping properly hydrated is important for optimal health as well as preventing heat stroke and dehydration.
Easy ways to incorporate more water into your days is to prepare fruit or herbal tea infused water. Try carrying around a water bottle with you to all your summer activities to remind you to drink plenty of water while on the go.
Refreshing Fruit Water:
- 2-3 Litres of water (depending on the size of your water jug)
- 2 Lemons
- ½ cucumber
- 10-12 mint leaves
Add all ingredients into your water jug and place in the fridge or add ice
Stay hydrated everyday with drinking a minimum of two litres of water per day. Increase that amount of water on the days you exercise to replenish the water lost from sweat. Drinking an electrolyte solution is also important to replenish salts lost and helps to keep your cells hydrated.
Electrolyte replacement beverages:
Coconut water is a refreshing source of naturally occurring electrolytes.
Homemade electrolyte drink:
- 1 litre of water
- Juice of one citrus fruit (lemon, lime, or orange)
- 3 Tbp honey
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
Note: Most commercial brand electrolyte drinks contain artificial colours and/or sweeteners which can have negative health effects. Look for products that are naturally sweetened with glucose, fructose, sucrose and don’t contain artificial colours.
Best in Health,
Posted by Dreamhealer in best vancouver naturopath, best vancouver nutritionist, Healing, Health, nutrition, Nutritionist, summer.
Tags: beach, beach body, fruit, meal prep, Nutrition, summer, vancouvernutritionist, vegetables
Written by: Breanne Dunlop, RHN
Fast forward to a sunny Saturday afternoon in mid-July.. where is it that you want to be? For many of us, it’s at the beach. As the days are getting warmer, you may be among the many who’s primarily focus is getting ‘beach body ready’ for the summer.
Whether you want to bulk those biceps, tone your tummy or simply feel good in your own skin, there’s no time like to present to do so. If loosing a few lbs is your goal then great news for you, nature’s on your side to lose weight this time of year. With the longer days we naturally want to be outdoors and be more active; our appetite is reduced and we lean towards eating lighter and cleansing foods. Many people find it easier to achieve their health and fitness goals in the summer time, so get ready to feel fabulous!
Spring and summer are the seasons when our bodies naturally want to cleanse; eating smaller meals and generally less food is typical during this time of year. Summer is a great time to give our digestive system a healthy and often much needed break. Winter is when we typically build and physically prepare for the cold weather, which often means eating more calories and heavier meals. As we move away from the cold weather we also gear more toward lighter meals and raw foods compared to heavier dishes like stews, pastas, and starchy vegetables. Some of us may even naturally fall into a rhythm of intermittent fasting (stay tuned for more information on this topic), and may even find ourselves going extended periods without food or eating very minimally.
Take a look around your favourite farmer’s market or grocery store and you’ll begin to notice there’s more of an emphasis on fresh and local produce. As we move into summer you’ll see everything from broccoli, zucchini, green beans, tomatoes, kale and spinach to strawberries, blueberries, cherries, peaches. Take advantage of all that nature has to offer in beautiful BC at this time of year and make sure to load on up on the abundance of fresh produce! Eating locally and seasonally not only supports your community and agriculture, but provides you with optimal nutrition as the produce requires very little transit (if any) to reach you. Generally less sprays are required and the produce can be picked when it is ready and full of nutrients versus prematurely (and ripened in transit) when it’s being transported around the world. Another perk to eating seasonally is that many of these foods can be eaten as is or with very little preparation. So for those of you who don’t care to spend too much time in the kitchen, summer is your season.
Despite clean eating and extra movement, if summer equals sangria patio season for you, then don’t forget to send some extra love to your liver. Staying hydrated is key to overall good health, promoting vital energy, youthful looking skin and a happy digestive system. Make note to gently cleanse your body of toxins on the daily. Add a healthy squeeze of lemon to your water first thing every morning. And make sure to get your daily dose of greens. You can add spinach or kale to smoothies or even wrap your leftover BBQ’d chicken in collards or romaine.
For more ideas on foods to rev up your metabolism or on meal prepping the summer, feel free to contact the Yaletown Naturopathic Clinic by telephone 604-235-8068 or email email@example.com to book a consultation with Breanne Dunlop, RHN.
Posted by Dreamhealer in best vancouver naturopath, Cancer, Healing, Health.
Tags: Chemicals, hormones, makeup, parabens
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.
- 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.
- New Alternatives to paraben-based blends. Weber, K. 2005.Cosmetic and Toiletries120
- Effects of butyl paragon on the male reproductive system in mice. IOC, S. 2002. Arch Toxicol.
- Natural Alternatives for Cosmetic Preservation. Schmit, E. and Norris, K. Active concepts Feb 2015.
Posted by Dreamhealer in best vancouver naturopath, Healing, Health, senior health.
Tags: Aging, digestion, energy, hair loss, Health, skin, sleep, stress, supplements, vitality
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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?
Posted by Dreamhealer in best vancouver naturopath, best vancouver nutritionist, Diet, Food, Healing, Health, nutrition, Nutritionist, vancouver, Vancouver Nutritionist.
Tags: Diet, Food, Health, Nutrition
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 with Breanne today contact us at 604-235-8068 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org! Talk to you soon. Get well, stay well.
Posted by Dreamhealer in best vancouver naturopath, Healing, Health, organic, stress, stress reduction.
Tags: Alcohol, castor oil, lemon water, liver, liver support, organic, tcm, tlc
Written by: Dr. Natalie Rahr
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
Dr. Natalie Rahr practices at the Yaletown Naturopathic Clinic in Vancouver, BC and has a strong focus on complex pediatric conditions such as Autism, Women’s Health, Autoimmunity and Gut-Brain Health, as well as Integrative Mental Health. To book an appointment contact 604-235-8068or email@example.com