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Spring Cleaning Starts with the Liver April 25, 2016

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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.

Turning up the Heat on Colorectal Cancer March 17, 2016

Posted by Dreamhealer in Alternative medicine, best vancouver naturopath, cancer therapy, Cancer Treatment, Healing, Health, integrative cancer care, Naturopathic Doctor, Naturopathic Medicine.
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Written By: Dr. Adam McLeod, ND, BSc (Hons)

Loco-regional hyperthermia is an advanced adjunctive cancer therapy which involves heating the tumour immediately after chemotherapy or radiation. Hyperthermia is characterized as the fourth pillar in treating cancer, including surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. This therapy is commonly used in hospitals and clinics across Europe and Asia but it is oddly not used regularly in North America. There are only a few advanced devices which actually have the capacity to significantly heat a tumour located deep within the body1,2. Recently there has been exciting research on a device called Celsius TCS and its use in colorectal cancer.

A recent clinical study in Greece investigated hyperthermia in patients with metastatic colorectal cancer when used in combination with chemotherapy1. In this clinical trial 32 patients diagnosed with colorectal cancer were divided into a control group who just received chemotherapy and the treatment group who received hyperthermia immediately following their chemotherapy infusion. When compared to the control group, the hyperthermia group showed a shrinkage of metastatic spots derived from colon cancer. This is in contrast to the control group which on average showed an increase of size during this time interval. The conclusion of the study was “the beneficial effects of hyperthermia are undeniable. The consolidation of the application of hyperthermia cancer treatment, is now a matter of time.”

I have personally observed the positive benefits of loco-regional hyperthermia many times in my practice with colorectal cancer. In some of these cases the cancer was progressing everywhere except for the specific masses that were being targeted by the hyperthermia. Upon shifting the treatment focus to a different metastasis, these new masses then started to also respond to the therapy as well. The heat that is applied to the tumour adds additional stress to the tumour cells when they are being treated with chemotherapy or radiation.

There are several naturopathic therapies which can be used to potentially help enhance the effectiveness of hyperthermia. Quercetin is a bioflavonoid that is safe to use in conjunction with some chemotherapies. This commonly used remedy is not safe with all chemotherapies and you must have professional guidance before using it. Quercetin has been shown to be a potent inhibitor of heat shock proteins. In other words, it inhibits the proteins that cancer cells use to resist the effects of the heat and thus makes colon cancer cells more vulnerable to hyperthermia3. There is also research to suggest that the diabetes medication metformin may be helpful to enhance the effects of hyperthermia by killing cancer stem cells4. These are just a few of many natural therapies which as starting to show promise as useful adjuncts to hyperthermia.

It is important to point out that hyperthermia is very different from an infrared sauna or the application of a heat pack. A loco-regional hyperthermia device is an advanced medical device that significantly heats the tissues surrounding a tumour2. You will not heat any tumour effectively without these advanced devices, especially if it is a deeper tumour. These are state of the art devices where the patient must be medically monitored during the procedure.

When looking at the evidence there is a clear and consistent trend. Localized hyperthermia has significant potential as an adjunctive cancer therapy. The application of heat using these advanced medical devices increases the effectiveness or chemotherapy and radiation. Hyperthermia reduces the risk of the cancer developing resistance to chemotherapy or radiation5,6,7. At the end of the day the goal is to use every tool at our disposal to increase the effectiveness of conventional therapies and destroy the cancerous cells. Hyperthermia is a potent adjunctive therapy that can help to accomplish that goal.

References:

1) Mandraveli, E., et al. “The action of hyperthermia in metastatic colorectal cancer in combination with chemotherapy.” Progress in Health Sciences 5.1 (2015): 69.

2) Noh, Jae Myoung, et al. “In vivo verification of regional hyperthermia in the liver.” Radiation oncology journal 32.4 (2014): 256-261.

3) Koishi, Mototsugu, et al. “Quercetin, an inhibitor of heat shock protein synthesis, inhibits the acquisition of thermotolerance in a human colon carcinoma cell line.” Japanese journal of cancer research83.11 (1992): 1216-1222.

4) Lee, Hyemi, et al. “Response of breast cancer cells and cancer stem cells to metformin and hyperthermia alone or combined.” PLoS One9.2 (2014): e87979.

5) Group, International Collaborative Hyperthermia, et al. “Radiotherapy with or without hyperthermia in the treatment of superficial localized breast cancer: Results from five randomized controlled trials.” International Journal of Radiation Oncology* Biology* Physics35.4 (1996): 731-744.

6) Uckun, Fatih M., et al. “Radiation and heat sensitivity of human T-lineage acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and acute myeloblastic leukemia (AML) clones displaying multiple drug resistance (MDR).”International Journal of Radiation Oncology* Biology* Physics23.1 (1992): 115-125.

7) Souslova, Tatiana, and Diana A. Averill-Bates. “Multidrug-resistant hela cells overexpressing MRP1 exhibit sensitivity to cell killing by hyperthermia: interactions with etoposide.”International Journal of Radiation Oncology* Biology* Physics 60.5 (2004): 1538-1551.

Seasonal Allergies March 14, 2016

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Seasonal Allergies

Seasonal Allergies

Spring is when Vancouver comes back to life. The days are noticeably longer, the crocuses and daffodils have been around for a little while now, and the plum and cherry blossoms are starting their annual show that transforms our city streets. Unfortunately, for the approximately 1 in 6 of us that suffer from seasonal allergies, or allergic rhinitis – this spring beauty can be associated with a feeling of dread.

Allergic rhinitis is a hypersensitivity mediated by your IgE antibodies, the same ones responsible for true food allergies (like life-threatening anaphylaxis caused by exposure to peanuts). Allergens (in this case, pollen) bind to these antibodies, causing the release of histamine and other inflammatory molecules stored in mast cells.

The severity of your symptoms depends on a lot of factors outside your control – the type of plants in your area, your particular sensitivities, how early and how long they bloom. Another thing about living in a city – particularly Vancouver – is that city planners typically plant only male flowering trees, to avoid the inevitable fruit and the resultant mess. But the male trees are the ones that produce all the pollen that causes your allergies.

All that aside though, there are also lots of factors that you CAN control, to help minimize your suffering.

  1. Determine what you are actually allergic to. This can be done by a skin-prick test, where small amounts of different allergens are injected just under the skin. This is very accurate, but it’s limited in how many different substances are available, and how much space you have on your forearm. Another, more complete option is getting a blood test done that measures IgE levels in the blood to allergens. This allows dozens or even hundreds of potential allergens to be assessed with a few milliliters of blood – at Yaletown Naturopathic Clinic, we offer allergy panels specific to the most common species in your area.
  2. Minimize exposure to the offending substance. As much as you might be tempted to call in sick for the next few months, that’s just not practical. But if you know what you’re sensitive to, the next step is finding out what time of year it’s at its worst, so you can step up your avoidance strategies. Also, pollen counts for most species are highest between 5 and 10 am, so stay indoors if possible during that time. If you have to go outside, face masks can be a very effective (if not the sexiest) option.
  3. Keep it out of your house. If you have to go out, try not to bring it home with you. Take outer clothes off at the door and put them in the laundry – even running them through a dryer cycle can blow off much of the pollen. Rinse your face well, gargle often, and consider using a neti pot to flush out your sinuses. And be especially careful to keep it out of the bedroom, where you probably spend most of your time when you’re at home. Rinsing your hair before going to bed will keep a lot of the pollen off your pillow.
  4. Get a good air purifier, with a HEPA filter. At the very least, get a small one for the bedroom.

Even after doing all this, you will probably still experience the symptoms of allergies. But as you know, these symptoms are not all or nothing – sometimes they’re bad, sometimes they’re quite tolerable. So what else might be contributing?

Allergies are a form of inflammation – and if you already have a lot of underlying inflammation, then it doesn’t take much more to push your symptoms over the tipping point. Diet and lifestyle can have a lot to do with it. Smoking, undiagnosed food sensitivities and a diet high in processed foods, refined carbohydrates and trans fats are all major causes of inflammation. In particular, certain foods are high in histamine (that inflammatory molecule at the center of seasonal allergies). Ways to reduce inflammation include moderate aerobic exercise and a diet high in organic fruits and vegetables.

And if after all that you’re still experiencing symptoms, it’s time to sit down with a naturopathic doctor for a personalized treatment plan. This will involve all of the above suggestions, as well as things to support your body’s elimination of the allergens and reduce the severity of the reaction.

Finally – look into long-term treatments to desensitize your allergies. It’s too late to do it for this year, but there are various treatment techniques that act to train your body not to react as violently in the future when it’s exposed to the same species that have tormented you all these years. These treatments include SLIT (Sub-Lingual Immunotherapy), NAET (Nambudripad’s Allergy Elimination Technique), and LDA (Low Dose Allergen) Therapy.

Make an appointment with one of the naturopathic doctors at Yaletown Naturopathic Clinic today, and make this the year you can stop and actually smell the roses!

Is Your Gut Friend or Foe? January 28, 2016

Posted by Dreamhealer in Healing, Health, immunity, Integrative Medicine, Naturopathic Doctor, Naturopathic Medicine, nutrition.
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Reprinted by permission from the Gastrointestinal Society. Originally published in the Inside Tract® newsletter, Issue 193, 2015. ©Gastrointestinal Society

All disease begins in the gut

Hippocrates made this statement more than 2,000 years ago. Since then, much has changed in medicine. However, this theory remains of great interest in the medical community, especially when considering the terrain of the individual, how robust their immune system may or may not be, and determining ways to treat our modern day chronic illnesses.

We live in an age when having a diagnosis of some kind is almost as common as having a job. We hear the terms IBS, IBD, autoimmune disease, hormone imbalance, arthritis, allergies, migraines, MS, asthma, neurodegenerative disease, eczema, depression, obesity, and so on.

Having a definitive diagnosis can certainly be beneficial for us to have an understanding of what is going on in the body and how it might be causing symptoms, but none of these diagnoses actually tell us why.

What if understanding the gut is the key to understanding why disease occurs? What if Hippocrates was right? This would mean that for almost all diseases and diagnoses out there, the root cause is in the gut, that what is going on in the gut has ripple effects in the body and that the gut is always a factor in determining disease or health, either partially or completely.

In my practice as a naturopathic doctor, I see a wide variety of health conditions, and more often than not, when we treat the gut, along with making sure all other ‘pillars of health’ are in place, such as sleep, nutrition, exercise, stress management, etc., the symptoms of disease diminish and often go away altogether.

How can that be? What does your gut have to do with your headache or your skin rash or your joint pain?

The Importance of Having Guts: A Genetic Potluck

Not only is the gut our second brain (and some would argue it to be our first), due to the multitude of neurons in the enteric nervous system and the amount of neurotransmitter production that takes place in the gut,[1] it contains the majority of the microbial DNA that dictates our complex functioning as humans. That delicate balance of the good and bad bacteria in the gut, also known as the microbiome, plays a large role in the health of the whole person. We are even more aware of this since scientists mapped out the human genome early this century. Researchers were amazed at the unexpectedly small size of the human genome, which is roughly equivalent to that of a dragonfly. As it turns out, later research has shown that only 1 in 10 cells in the body are human. The other 9 (or 90%) are microbial. This 90% contains the DNA from the microbes that live in and on the body and provides essential functions for the human as a whole.

The Good, the Bad, and the Commensal

When talking about the balance of good (beneficial) and bad (pathogenic) bacteria in the gut flora, there is one more category of microbe to be aware of when thinking about the gut’s influence on the rest of the body and, prior to that, the influence of the environment on the gut. Commensal bacteria are those bacteria that can go either way; they are neither fully beneficial nor are they pathogenic, they act neutrally. This is where much of our own lifestyle influences come into play in the development of health or disease. If we eat a clean and healthy diet, manage stress well, get lots of sleep, fresh air and activity, these commensal bacteria are inclined to go over to the good side. If the opposite is true, then they can turn bad. The stronger one side is over the other, the more influence it has over these commensal microbes, just like a game of red-rover, the side with the strongest hold grows and wins.

To add complexity, we require all these types of microbes in the right amounts to benefit the body. The beneficial bacteria provide the body with nutrients and help remove waste. The pathogenic bacteria, in a balanced amount, train the immune system. When the pathogenic bacteria overtake and overwhelm the beneficial bacteria things can go awry in the body. Dysbiosis, or an imbalance in the microbiome, has effects on the gut such as increasing permeability and integrity of the gut lining, leaving the body more susceptible to autoimmunity and inflammatory disorders.[2]

In short, our microbiome influences our health, and we influence the health of our microbiome.1

From the Gut to Disease

So if something is going wrong or is out of balance in the gastrointestinal tract, how does this translate to symptoms in areas of the body that, seemingly, have nothing to do with the gut?

The common analogy I use to illustrate for patients how some health care professionals believe gut health affects health of the entire body is that of a clogged kitchen sink. Imagine the things that end up in your kitchen sink every day, and imagine it all building up. That drain eventually clogs.

In the body, the main drain is analogous to the gut and your liver, your main detox pathways and means for waste elimination. Should their function become impaired to some degree due to being overwhelmed with the quantity or quality of what it is trying to eliminate, the rate at which your body (the sink) can eliminate potentially toxic by-products of metabolism slows.

Now imagine this continues for years. The level in that clogged kitchen sink begins to rise, eventually reaching the point of spilling over. Each individual exhibits unique symptoms when this spillover occurs. Early research suggests that these symptoms of spillover can be anywhere from fatigue, mood disorders, developmental disorders, skin rashes, allergies, asthma, to serious complications such as multiple sclerosis (MS) or other severe immune dysregulation or autoimmunity.

This seems to depend on the degree of impairment in function of the drain, the quality of what is accumulating in the kitchen sink (what we put in and what we are exposed to, whether it be the food we eat, the medications we take, the environmental toxins we take in, or other factors), and what tools we use to assist the drain with the elimination of waste and toxicity.

Essentially, the integrity of the gut is analogous to the integrity of a drain, responsible for allowing everything to flow through the body with ease.

The Gut, the Brain, and the Gut-Brain Axis

Do you ever get a gut feeling: something you know in your gut even before your brain can explain it? What about butterflies in your stomach when you’re anticipating something? Perhaps when you experience stress you feel it in your gut without necessarily thinking about it.

Research continues to show us the strong links between the brain and the gut. For example, some small studies show that a leaky gut could imply a leaky brain. ‘Leakiness’, or hyperpermeability, in the gut, in part due to an imbalance in the flora, creates a playground for inflammation that cascades systemically throughout the body. Inflammation occurring in the gut might lead to inflammatory processes in the brain.[3] By the same token, what is occurring in the brain could affect the gut via the vagus nerve,[4] altering motility, function, and secretions.

In neurodegenerative diseases such as MS, one study identified hyperpermeability in the blood-brain barrier (BBB), as well as in the tight junctions of the intestinal wall.3 Another study linked this similar leakiness to the autoimmune response in the myelin sheath, or protective fatty layer wrapped around the nerves, causing a breakdown in function.[5]

The gut can also exhibit localized symptoms such as gas, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation among others, which can be transient and benign, or involve disease processes that penetrate deeper into the gut wall. “The clearest correlation between dysbiosis and disease has been found with inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD)…”,7 including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, in which strictures[6] and obstructions are among some of the serious complications.[7]

Effects on the gut-brain axis can cause changes to gut flora in conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).[8] Recent research also links depression and anxiety to an inflammatory reaction in the gut.8,[9]

Individuals with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), pediatric acute-onset neuropsychiatric disorder associated with streptococcal infections (PANDAS),[10] and neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism and attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD) have all shown alterations in gut flora.1,[11]

Understanding the gut’s influence on the brain as well as the brain’s influence on the gut is a fascinating step toward treating the person as a whole, and not exclusively by symptoms.

The Gut, Allergies, and Atopic Disease

While an obvious allergic reaction or anaphylaxis clearly allows you to identify its cause, the increasingly more common delayed food sensitivities can cause an array of symptoms anywhere from local abdominal pain and bloating to migraines, body pain, skin issues like rashes or acne, and so on.[12] These symptoms may not show up for hours or even days, making it tricky to figure out what is causing the reaction.

In practice it is quite common to have patients test positive for a few-to-many food allergens, when testing for serum immunoglobulins, only to have them eliminate those foods and find that 3 to 6 months later, they now test sensitive to foods they did not initially test sensitive to. This leads some practitioners to suspect that intestinal hyperpermeability (leaky gut) is a factor and may play a role in developing food sensitivities.[13]

Dysbiosis might also be a contributing factor. In infants, the development of food allergies and sensitivities could be related to an overabundance of certain types of pathogenic bacteria, such asClostridiae along with fewer good bacteria.[14]

One study found that in atopic disease such as atopic dermatitis (eczema), the skin microbiome, which the balance of the gut microbiome indirectly alters, is very different from that of healthy skin. The study found the same to be true for psoriasis.[15]

Other symptoms of atopic disease, such as asthma, also relate to gut health. Functional and structural abnormalities, specifically in asthma, relate to persisting inflammation in the lungs and link to altered gut flora. This predisposes an immune response to occur when allergens are present, causing sensitization to these allergens and subsequent symptoms of asthma.[16]

The Gut and Joint Pain

Dysbiosis and intestinal hyperpermeability might play a role in joint inflammation. When an antigen, such as an offending food or toxin enters the blood stream from the gut, the immune system kicks in. An antibody, plus its target antigen, bind together to form a ‘complex’. This complex circulates, causing other cascades of inflammation as it goes, finally depositing in places like the joints. The joints are particularly susceptible because there is low blood circulation to flush the inflammatory complexes out.

A toxemic theory, proposed at the turn of the 20th century, alluded to a build-up of this toxicity in the body from infectious agents ultimately promoting joint inflammation.[17] In a recent study, researchers have correlated an overgrowth ofPrevotella copri to an increased susceptibility to rheumatoid arthritis.[18]

The Gut and Obesity

Alterations in the gut flora may play a part in the development of obesity.[19] (See the Inside Tract® issue 192.) Reduced bacterial diversity is common in obese individuals, which researchers believe may be interfering with metabolic pathways, since the gut harbours many microbes responsible for regulating metabolism and extracting energy from otherwise indigestible elements of the diet. One study reviewing the microbiome diversity of obese and lean mice suggests that microbes play a role in the efficiency of calorie use and calorie storage in the body.[20]

The Gut and the Immune System

Have you ever been the only person in your household who doesn’t get sick, or are you the first to get sick?

The gut is our main route of contact with the external world; 70% of the immune system is located in the gut. This is mediated through the gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT), which is responsible for orienting immune response to contents in the gut and for the production of 80% or our main first immune response, that of Immunoglobulin A (IgA) in the mucous layer.

In a study on the effect of the gut microbiome on the flu virus infection, the immune modulating effects stretch far beyond the gut to the respiratory mucosa, acting protectively.[21]

Increasingly, some health care professionals recognize that disruptions in the commensal microflora may lead to immune dysfunction and autoimmunity.[22]

So Is Your Gut Friend or Foe?

It’s your friend!

If the gut is the root of all disease, as Hippocrates suggested, then, it could also be the root of all wellness.

In other words, if it is true that disease does begin, or has something to do with some amount of disruption, in the gut environment, then this could mean that the root of all health also lies in the gut and in healing the diversity of this environment.

What to Do?

Thus begins your journey of healing the gut.

First, when looking to protect and nourish a healthy gut, think basics: think slow food, single ingredient, whole food, colourful food, and think fresh, unprocessed, and seasonal food, live and fermented foods, and nutrient-dense foods.

As for what to minimize or avoid as much as you can, think medications such as antibiotics, oral birth control, NSAIDs, caffeine, alcohol, processed and genetically modified foods, processed sugar, foods you are sensitive or allergic to, food dyes, packaged, and pasteurized foods.

There is also much talk around seeding the microbiome of a baby’s gut before, during, and after birth. This promotes the development of a healthy immune system, through prenatal health care and preparation of the mother and father, natural vaginal birth, and breastfeeding, along with ongoing exposures to the environment through childhood to train the immune system and increase the diversity of the child’s microbiome.[23]

These basic things are a great start to help the gut move to a state of greater health, and therefore help the whole person establish or maintain health.

Keep in mind that once a disease state is already in process, testing and stronger treatments are required. These might include high dose nutrient supplementation, medications, or natural methods of assisting the body with eliminating accumulated toxins. Naturopathic doctors and functional medicine doctors are the experts in holistic care to help get you on track, deal with the root cause of illness, and address your individual needs. We work closely with your conventional medicine team to ensure a smooth, effective treatment plan.

Reference

[1]       Hadhazy, A. Think Twice: How the Gut’s “Second Brain” Influences Mood and Well-Being. The emerging and surprising view of how the enteric nervous system in our bellies goes far beyond just processing the food we eat. Scientific American. February 12, 2010.

[2]       Cho I et al. The human microbiome: at the interface of health and disease. Nature Reviews Genetics. 2012;13:260-70.

[3]       Deretzi G et al. Gastrointestinal immune system and brain dialogue implicated in neuroinflammatory and neurodegenerative diseases. Current Molecular Medicine. 2011;11(8):696-707.

[4]       Fasano A. Leaky Gut and Autoimmune diseases. Clinic Rev Allerg Immunol. 2012; 42:71-8.

[5]       Nouri M et al. Intestinal Barrier Dysfunction Develops at the Onset of Experimental Autoimmune Encephalomyelitis, and Can Be Induced by Adoptive Transfer of Auto-Reactive T Cells. PLoS ONE. 2014;9(9):e106335.

[6]       Gumaste V et al. Benign and malignant colorectal strictures in ulcerative colitis. Gut. 1992;33(7):938-41.

[7]       Martin R et al. Role of commensal and probiotic bacteria in human health: a focus on inflammatory bowel disease.Microbial Cell Factories. 2013;12:71.

[8]       O’Mahonya S et al. Early Life Stress Alters Behavior, Immunity, and Microbiota in Rats: Implications for Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Psychiatric Illnesses. Biological Psychiatry. 2009;65(3):263-7.

[9]       Dinan T et al. Melancholic microbes: a link between gut microbiota and depression? Neurogastroenterology & Motility. 2013; 25(9):713-9.

[10]     Rees JC. Obsessive–compulsive disorder and gut microbiota dysregulation. Medical Hypotheses. 2014;82(2):163-166.

[11]     Gilbert JA et al. Toward Effective Probiotics for Autism and Other Neurodevelopmental Disorders. Cell. 2013;155(7):1446-8.

[12]     Gaby AR. The role of hidden food allergy/intolerance in chronic disease. Alternative Medicine Review. 1998;3(2):90-100.

[13]     Liu Z et al. Tight junctions, leaky intestines, and pediatric diseases. Acta Paediatrica. 2005;94:386–93.

[14]     Ling Z et al. Altered Fecal Microbiota Composition Associated with Food Allergy in Infants. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 2014; 80(8):2546-54.

[15]     Zeeuwen P et al. Microbiome and skin diseases. Current Opinion in Allergy & Clinical Immunology. 2013;13(5):514-520.

[16]     Huang YJ et al. The microbiome and asthma. Ann Am Thorac Soc. 2014;11(1):48-51.

[17]     Brusca S et al. Microbiome and mucosal inflammation as extra-articular triggers for rheumatoid arthritis and autoimmunity. Curr Opin Rheumatol. 2014;26(1):101-7.

[18]     Scher J et al. Expansion of intestinal Prevotella copri correlates with enhanced susceptibility to arthritis. eLife Sciences, November 5, 2013.

[19]     Tsai F et al. The microbiome and obesity: Is obesity linked to our gut flora? Current Gastroenterology Reports. 2009;11(4):307-13.

[20]     Turnbaugh P et al. A core gut microbiome in obese and lean twins. Nature. 2009;457:480-4.

[21]     Ichinohea T et al. Microbiota regulates immune defense against respiratory tract influenza A virus infection. PNAS. 2011;108(13):5354-9.

[22]     Fung I et al. Do Bugs Control Our Fate? The Influence of the Microbiome on Autoimmunity. Current Allergy and Asthma Reports. 2012;12(6):511-9.

[23]     Torrazza R et al. The developing intestinal microbiome and its relationship to health and disease in the neonate.Journal of Perinatology. 2011;31:S29-S34.

Prepare for Flu Season with these Immune Boosting Foods January 21, 2016

Posted by Dreamhealer in best vancouver naturopath, Healing, Health, immunity.
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Written by: Breanne Dunlop

Once again, it’s almost time to kiss the sunblock goodbye and pack away the bikinis for another year. As the cold weather sets in, our immune systems begin to struggle, providing opportunity for bugs and bacteria to take over. For this reason, it is important to give our immune systems some extra TLC; one way to do this is through our diet.

It’s pretty amazing to think that 80% of our immunity lies in our gut, and so it makes perfect sense that in order to build our immune systems, we must protect and bring into balance the healthy bacteria in our gut. Supplementing with a high quality probiotic is always a good idea and there are also certain foods that can be added to our diet to give our immune systems a boost.

Consume more Fermented Foods

One area of focus should be on incorporating fermented foods. Our ancestors traditionally enjoyed fermented foods in abundance as it was and is a great way to preserve food. The real benefit, and why these foods are so encouraged, is that fermentation results in food that is alive with enzymes, B-vitamins and even strains of probiotics! Examples of fermented foods include sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi, kombucha, tempeh, miso, apple cider vinegar and yogurt (preferably a high quality organic and grass-fed).

Eat your Antioxidants

Antioxidants are also important for strengthening our immune systems. Antioxidant nutrients include vitamins A, C, E, Selenium and Zinc. Foods high in these nutrients include your dark leafy greens, orange fruits and vegetables, citrus fruits, nuts and seeds.

Next time you go to the grocery store be sure to pick up some of these immune supporting foods:

  • Fruits – papaya and strawberries
  • Vegetables – red bell pepper, broccoli, brussels, tomatoes, sweet potato, carrots
  • Butternut squash
  • Dark leafy greens – swiss chard, spinach and kale
  • Seeds and nuts: sunflower, pumpkin, almonds and cashews
  • Mushrooms (shiitake, maitake and reishi are the most potent!)
  • Spices: cinnamon, cloves, rosemary, sage, oregano, thyme and turmeric
  • Onion and garlic
  • Ginger
  • Honey

Here’s how to work some immune boosting foods into your daily regime!

  • For breakfast try adding organic berries, yogurt, honey and cinnamon to your favourite smoothie or on top of your oatmeal.
  • Swap a glass of kombucha for your mid-morning coffee.
  • Add a spoon of sauerkraut or kimchi to your salad or with your protein.
  • Replace white vinegar with apple cider vinegar in homemade salad dressings.
  • Use honey to sweeten tea rather than table sugar or stevia.
  • Enhance casseroles or rice/quinoa dishes with miso instead of salt.
  • End your day with a comforting cup of tea that will not only give your immune system some TLC, but will also promote a deep and restful night’s sleep.

For more information on how to boost your immune system or book an appointment to prepare for fall and flu season contact Yaletown Naturopathic Clinic at info@yaletownnaturopathic.com.

Are Electromagnetic Fields Dangerous? January 11, 2016

Posted by Dreamhealer in Cancer, Cell Phones, Healing, Health, oncology.
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Written By: Dr. Adam McLeod, ND, BSc (Hons)

For those of us who live in the city, we are constantly surrounded by electromagnetic fields. This is simply unavoidable in modern society yet this is a recent change. We are exposed to substantially more electromagnetic radiation than our ancestors. In fact, most of us are completely surrounded by these electromagnetic fields 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The obvious question is, are these electromagnetic fields safe to be around?

There is a common belief in the general population that powerful magnetic fields do not affect living organisms. Perhaps this originates from movies such as Terminator where robots shut down in the presence of these fields while humans seem unaffected. Although the effects may not be as dramatic as a machine interacting with these fields, living organisms are most certainly effected by electromagnetic fields. When you take the time to break down what electromagnetic fields are and how cells interact with them, the reasons are obvious.

What is an electromagnetic field? An electromagnetic field is a physical field produced by electrically charged objects. It extends indefinitely through space and affects the behaviour of charged objects in the vicinity of the field. The chemistry that drives life is dependent on subtle interactions between charged particles. For example, it is the distribution of charged amino acids in a protein that ultimately determine the structure and function of that protein. Your brain functions by creating a distinct yet delicate distribution of charged ions. This is how a nerve impulse moves through your body. These subtle interactions are critical for all living organisms.

It is clear that these fields will influence the biochemistry of any living organism but the implications of this interaction are poorly understood. There is some evidence to suggest that electromagnetic fields are dangerous. In one large Norwegian study, electrical workers with 10 or more years of working experience were 41% more likely to develop leukemia and brain tumours1. A different study indicated that there is a connection between exposure to electromagnetic fields and the development of male breast cancer2. Although numerous studies indicate a connection between cancer and electromagnetic fields, there is still some controversy about how significant this interaction is3.

When I was a teenager my mother was diagnosed with a brain tumour. Thankfully it was successfully removed surgically with no major complications. After the surgery my mother always proclaimed that there was a connection between cell phone use and her tumour. She was suddenly more sensitive to the radiation from a cell phone and she could not even talk on a cell phone unless she put it on speaker phone. At the time there was no evidence to support this connection, but there is now an abundance of evidence that supports a connection between regular cell phone use and the development of brain tumours4,5,6,7. Perhaps what is most convincing about this data is that there is a consistent pattern of association between mobile phone use and ipsilateral glioma and acoustic neuroma. In other words, these people are consistently developing tumours on the same side of their head that they hold their cell phone.

As I was writing this it forced me to look at my own habits and reassess my own exposure to electromagnetic fields. I am constantly surrounded by computers, laptops and cell phones. This is unavoidable for those of us who work in the city and the reality is that I am not prepared to eliminate these items from my life, not yet at least. I have however made several small changes in my life when it comes to electronic devices. Whenever I sit down at a table I will always take my phone out of my pocket and put it on the table. I also make en effort to put my phone on airplane mode whenever possible. When sleeping I always make sure that my phone is as far away from me as possible (ie on the other side of the room rather than beside my bed). These are small changes but I believe that they will significantly reduce my exposure to electromagnetic fields.

The purpose of this article was not to scare people about every electronic device or encourage people to hide from cities. It is important that as a society we become aware that we do not fully understand the significance of how these fields influence our health and that they may be dangerous. Perhaps by recognizing this interaction we can one day make changes as a society to reduce our exposure to these fields.

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 oncology. http://www.yaletownnaturopathic.com

References:

1) Tynes, Tore, Aage Andersen, and FrØydis Langmark. “Incidence of cancer in Norwegian workers potentially exposed to electromagnetic fields.” American Journal of Epidemiology 136.1 (1992): 81-88.

2) Demers, Paul A., et al. “Occupational exposure to electromagnetic fields and breast cancer in men.” American Journal of Epidemiology 134.4 (1991): 340-347.

3) Heynick, Louis N., Sheila A. Johnston, and Patrick A. Mason. “Radio frequency electromagnetic fields: cancer, mutagenesis, and genotoxicity.” Bioelectromagnetics 24.S6 (2003): S74-S100.

4) Khurana, Vini G., et al. “Cell phones and brain tumors: a review including the long-term epidemiologic data.” Surgical neurology 72.3 (2009): 205-214.

5) Hardell, Lennart, et al. “Long-term use of cellular phones and brain tumours: increased risk associated with use for⩾ 10 years.” Occupational and Environmental Medicine 64.9 (2007): 626-632.

6) Hardell, Lennart, et al. “Cellular and cordless telephones and the risk for brain tumours.” European Journal of Cancer Prevention 11.4 (2002): 377-386.

7) Hardell, Lennart, et al. “Meta-analysis of long-term mobile phone use and the association with brain tumours.”International journal of oncology 32.5 (2008): 1097-1103.

The Scoop on Sugar: Is it Always Bad? January 7, 2016

Posted by Dreamhealer in Detox, Diet, Healing, Health, Nutritionist.
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Written by: Breanne Dunlop, RHN

Why we Need Sugar

Many people have become conditioned to fear sugar like it’s the plague. In reality, our body needs sugar. At the cellular level, glucose is utilized by our body to produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP) which provides a direct source of energy for various cellular functions. Though a rather small molecule itself, ATP is utilized to make larger molecules such as hormones. Our brains sole fuel source is glucose. In essence, we need sugar for our body to function, the trick is knowing what kinds of sugar to eat – refined versus complex, and when throughout the day our body uses sugar the most.

Though our body does need sugar to function, it is important to bear in mind both the type of sugar as well as the quantity we consume. Continuously having high amounts of sugar in our diet puts us at risk for many diseases and unwanted health conditions such as diabetes, obesity, hyperglycemia, heart disease, and various nutrient deficiencies.

Though sugar is an energy source for our body, it also fuels pathogens in our body that we don’t want to feed, such as Candida and parasites. An overgrowth of pathogens can further hinder our energy levels, as well as our mood, stamina and cognitive functioning, all while increasing the need to supplement with a high-quality probiotic to help rebalance the flora in our gut. Finally, there is outstanding evidence to show that sugar plays an integral role in feeding cancer cells in oncology patients. The intention of this message isn’t to cause alarm but rather to make one aware that the effect of sugar on our body is far more serious than simply adding a few inches to our waistline.

Different Types of Sugar: Simple vs. Complex 

Often we hear people say, “I’m avoiding all carbohydrates because they’re full of sugar”. Yes, it’s true that all carbohydrates will breakdown to sugar in the body, but as mentioned, our body needs this energy for human metabolism and cellular function. The real concern is the rate at which the sugar is broken down and how fast this sugar is absorbed into our bloodstream. Simple sugars are mostly isolated from other macronutrients – protein, fat and fiber – that help to slow down the rate at which the sugar is broken down and absorbed. Simple sugars spike blood glucose levels immediately, and though this ‘sugar high’ may be initially pleasant and even euphoric for many, it is typically followed by a crash in energy and mood.

When you think of simple sugars think of processed foods like candy bars, ice cream, baked goods, pasta, and white bread. More often than not these foods have little to no nutritional value. One exception is honey – it is classified as a simple sugar as it still spikes our blood sugar, however, it has health benefits when enjoyed raw and unpasteurized.

A helpful guide to follow is the glycemic load. The glycemic load is a measure that roughly estimates how much your blood sugar rises after eating particular foods. Complex carbohydrates tend to have lower glycemic loads and therefore less of an impact on blood glucose levels.

Complex sugars are also referred to as unrefined carbohydrates as they have not been stripped of other nutrients that help to slow down the rate at which the sugar is broken down and enter the bloodstream. Some great sources of complex carbohydrates come from starchy vegetables, squash, beets, legumes, lentils, nuts, seeds and whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa or rolled oats. These foods have fibre, fat and protein to help slow down the rate at which our body breaks down the food, allowing for a gradual release of sugar into the bloodstream. This is why having a breakfast and lunch with complex carbohydrates helps us to sustain energy throughout the day and avoid the afternoon energy lull. This also promotes mental clarity by helping to avoid the brain fog we experience when our blood sugar is low.

Blood Sugar Balancing at a Glance

The notion that breakfast is the most important meal of the day isn’t an old wives tale. Even while we sleep we are still expending energy to repair our bodies as this is when our body repairs. Breakfast is the first opportunity we get to refuel our bodies and energize us for the day. Because we are in a fasting state and have likely not eaten anything since dinner time – as much as 10-12+ hours prior, the choices we make at breakfast time can really impact how we feel for the rest of the day. Sadly, breakfast is the meal that often gets neglected as people either choose to eat sugar ladened processed cereals or opt to skip it altogether. It is no surprise that when people clean up their eating habits and start their day with a nutritious and balanced meal that they experience an improvement in energy levels and mood and even have a tendency to see weight loss (should the body need it).

‘Breaking the fast’ with complex carbohydrates coupled with some protein and healthy fat helps to keep you satiated and energized. Some healthy breakfast ideas are a warming bowl of large flake or steel cut oats with a tablespoon of coconut oil or nut butter and sprinkle of cinnamon and hemp hearts or two poached eggs with sautéed greens or avocado on sprouted grain toast.

Lunch is another time to enjoy complex carbohydrates. For fall try homemade bean chili and brown rice or a medley of roasted root vegetables (beets, carrots and onions) on a bed of greens.

Dinner is a time when you may choose to have fewer carbohydrates. This makes sense not only for your waistline but this is also typically the time when you are winding down for the day and require less energy. Consuming sugar in the evening time, even if it’s converted from grains, can potentially interfere with a deep and restful sleep. For dinner try having a source or protein with non-starchy vegetables such as wild salmon and arugula salad or curried chickpeas and cauliflower.

Just Make Sure You Eat A Vegetable: A Holiday Survival Guide December 24, 2015

Posted by Dreamhealer in Healing, Health, holidays, Naturopathic Doctor, Naturopathic Medicine, stress.
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Many of my patients have recently been telling me they know their progress will go out the window, now that the holidays are coming. For some of them, they’re excited to give themselves permission to indulge. For the others, they strongly judge themselves for being “weak” and they worry about the consequences.

And their worries are not just about the food! They also worry about the stress. House guests, parties, dinners to plan and prep for, travel, traffic, shopping, late nights and little sleep, responsibilities, keeping everyone happy, getting all the right gifts, and, most importantly, not getting any time for themselves.

Here’s my simple guide to treating yourself well during this season:

DON’T OVERPLAN

It can be tempting to say yes to every invitation that comes along. If you thrive on this, great! If you’re like me, you love the idea of getting cozy at home and staying there. Be aware of what the right amount of planning is ok for you, and what amount is too much. Maybe you pick your top 1,2 or 3 events to attend (again, how many is the right number for you?). Maybe you do say yes to every invitation, but only commit to staying for a short time. Maybe you plan your own event that allows all your loved ones to come to you. Whatever you decide, be ready to say a wholehearted yes or no and keep the overwhelm off the table.

SLEEP AND PLAY

The best medicine. This probably goes hand in hand with not over-planning. Take the opportunity to sleep in, laze around in bed, snuggle with the kids for long mornings, have leisurely breakfasts and coffee that take you well into the afternoon. There’s no need to be productive. Put that urgency down and pull out the board games, the Wii, run through the park, play in the snow (or rain, that is, if you live in Vancouver), laugh lots, catch up on movies, dance just because the family is all in their pj’s and the music is on loud. Shake off the end of this year, shake off work and shake off the “shoulds”.

GO OUTSIDE

Rain or shine or snow or sleet. Get out into the fresh air every day. Get in some long or short walks and keep the blood flowing. You may not be able to honour your regular gym or yoga class schedule, but that’s ok. Work in a brisk walk to the store, take a detour into the mountains and woods if you can, or just wander through your neighbourhood with a hot chocolate and your loved ones. Then get right back to the wintry festivities once refreshed.

SNEAK AWAY TO TREAT YOURSELF!

This could entail a number of things. My favourite thing to do is finally schedule that much needed massage or sauna session. Take the opportunity to use up your extended medical benefits if you have them! This means paying your naturopathic doc a needed check in for acupuncture, a nutrient IV (we may have something for that hangover) or a plan for the new year. Give yourself a gift or two by getting some TLC. You’ve taken care of so many and so much all year, it’s your turn too.

SCHEDULE RECOVERY DAYS

This is planning at its best. For those with food restrictions, it’s probably inevitable that you’ll get gluten-ed or dairy-ed or sugar-ed… or all of the above. A recovery day for this kind of offence can involve doubling those probiotics and digestive enzymes, keeping meals light and easy to digest, like broths and smoothies.  For recovery from everything else, sleep, rest, play and do all the other things you need.

DON’T SHOW UP HUNGRY

If you’re worried about packing on those holiday pounds, showing up famished will likely work against you. Have a smaller meal before you show up to that dinner party so that you can still enjoy the treats without overdoing it.

JUST MAKE SURE YOU EAT A VEGETABLE

If all else fails, let go and enjoy fully what you have in front of you. Just make sure you also do some of the things that help your body feel good and recover well, like eating as many vegetables as you can. Make sure that plate of turkey and potatoes slathered in gravy also includes many colors of the rainbow, particularly green.

Warm Holidays to you!

To book an appointment contact info@yaletownnaturopathic.com

How to Make Your Holidays Stress-Free! December 21, 2015

Posted by Dreamhealer in best vancouver naturopath, Healing, Health, stress.
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Just kidding! There’s no way to completely eliminate stress from a busy life, especially around the holiday season. But there are ways to reduce stress and lots of tricks for helping you manage the unavoidable.

1. Start a daily meditation. If your first thought is “I don’t have time for that”, then that’s enough reason in itself. If your life is so hectic that you actually don’t have 7 minutes a day to give your mind a break, then maybe it’s time to take a serious look at what is really important to you. Getting into a meditation practice shouldn’t be complicated. At its most basic, meditation is simply taking a mental break. When you’re feeling physically tired, you might rest for a few minutes. Doing the same for your mind helps you glide through your busy days with ease. My favourite guided meditation app is called “Buddhify” ($2.99 for Apple or Android). It provides more than a dozen situations (ie “Work Break”, “Feeling Stressed”, “At Home”) each of which has multiple guided meditations of various lengths. There are lots of free ones available, too. But for the price of a cup of coffee, you can start down the path to a peaceful mind.

2. Keep to your routines. The holiday season is when routine can go right out the window. Work schedules change, you might be traveling to visit family (or having family travel to visit you), holiday get-togethers have you out later than you might be used to. But having routines can help you stay anchored despite all the other changes. In particular, your new daily meditation – this can be done while traveling, in your parked car in between holiday shopping, almost anywhere. As much as possible, stick to your regular sleep habits. Make time to get to your usual exercise class or training session. You feel more grounded if you can keep your familiar routines.

3. Plan ahead, and be sure to leave time to accomplish everything. Stores are busy, traffic can be unpredictable, and you have more on your to-do list than usual. Don’t expect to fly through that list as you might at another time of the year, and above all – don’t blame yourself if outside circumstances derail your carefully-made plans. You’re doing the best you can, and you have a lot to do. That said…

4. Keep it simple, sweetheart. Be realistic about what is actually necessary. Step back and look at the big picture. Bigger is not always better, and the little details you’re stressing about now are quite likely things you won’t even notice once the holiday events are underway. The perfect napkins, the cute holiday craft you saw on Pinterest, the hard-to-find wine that was recommended to accompany your seafood charcuterie appetizer platter. Assess the ratio of “how much work something is” to “how much lasting joy it will provide”, and choose accordingly

5. Finally – gifts. Refer to #4 and KEEP IT SIMPLE. Everyone has a few close family and friends who warrant putting some time and thought into finding that perfect gift. But for the vast majority of people on your list, gift cards are the way to go. If your immediate reaction is that they’re too impersonal, think again. People like getting gift cards. They get to choose exactly what they want, which they can always do better than you can (sorry!) You can buy them all in one place (like the supermarket) or online. No wrapping involved, cut down on shipping costs if you’re mailing presents, no need to lug an extra bag of presents home across the city (or even the country) after spending holidays with family. However, if you’re absolutely set on coming up with a personalized gift, choose an experience over an object. Give something that you and your friend or family member will do together sometime after the holidays are over – tickets to a show, a cheese-making workshop, day at the spa – connection is built on shared experiences, and memories last longer than sweaters.

There are lots of tips out there for keeping yourself physically healthy over the holidays. As important as that is, supporting your mental health and well-being is even more important. A happy and grounded you means being able to enjoy the holidays to their fullest.

I wish everyone a safe, happy and healthy holiday season.

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