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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.

Boost the Odds After Cancer by Reducing Stress and Focusing on Healing December 17, 2015

Posted by Dreamhealer in Cancer, cancer therapy, Cancer Treatment, Healing, integrative cancer care, stress.
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Reducing stress and making lifestyle changes can yield remarkable results.

Written By: Dr. Adam McLeod, ND, BSc (Hons)

The diagnosis of cancer is a scary experience. Patients are often immediately thrust into aggressive conventional therapies without fully understanding how the therapy works or why it is necessary. We live in a culture where we put the responsibility of our health into someone else’s hands. We are told to trust that they know what is best and patients are often discouraged from doing their own research. Patients often feel that from the first day of diagnosis they are put on a conveyor belt and shuffled from one appointment to the next with no other options available. Once the treatments are complete and the patient is declared cancer free, they are abruptly discharged from the cancer agency and it is expected that they continue on with their life as if nothing had happened.

The reality is that this experience is so stressful for patients that it often leaves them traumatized emotionally and physically. Treatment does not end the moment that someone is given the “all-clear”. That is the time to focus on keeping your immune system strong and changing factors in your lifestyle to reduce the risk of recurrence. Patients need guidance to make these physical and emotional changes to reduce the chances of the cancer coming back. The good news is that there is a lot that can be done and there is substantial research to back these therapies.

You can help your body fight cancer by reducing stress and focusing your intentions on healing. One of the most comprehensive intervention studies in cancer research evaluated the effects of stress management techniques, such as relaxation on cancer recurrence following removal of malignant melanoma2. Not only did the relaxed group experience reduced psychological distress, they also had more active immune systems than the control group not practicing relaxation. A six-year follow up of these patients showed a trend toward greater recurrence and higher mortality rates in the control group, compared to the relaxed group1. The bottom line is that patients who focus on reducing stress and focus their minds on healing not only have a better prognosis, they also have lower rates of developing cancer in the first place. Given what we know about the connection between immune function and stress, this conclusion is not surprising.

The aggressive conventional therapies that patients go through often do a good job of killing cancerous cells. The problem is that these same therapies also leave the immune system severely weakened at a time when you need the immune system to be strong. You must have a functioning immune system to patrol your tissues and identify abnormal cells before they have an opportunity to manifest as a clinical disease. The first year after being given the “all-clear” diagnosis is the most important time to support your immune system. There are many natural therapies and lifestyle changes that can be done to help support your immune system at this critical time period.

Mistletoe therapy is just one example of a therapy that can be used to effectively stimulate the immune system. Mistletoe has been shown to stimulate increases in the number and the activity of several types of white blood cells3. Immune-system-enhancing cytokines, such as interleukin-1, interleukin-6, and tumour necrosis factor alpha are released by white blood cells after exposure to mistletoe extracts4,5. It is also possible to make simple dietary changes that can significantly reduce inflammation and further support immune function.

Patients want and need continued support after they are treated for cancer. They need to be supported mentally and physically in order to help further reduce the risk of recurrence. Naturopathic doctors excel at providing this much needed support to patients and help them get back on the path to wellness.

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

This article was also published in the Georgia Straight Vancouver.

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

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

3) Büssing, A., A. Regnery, and K. Schweizer. “Effects of Viscum album L. on cyclophosphamide-treated peripheral blood mononuclear cells in vitro: sister chromatid exchanges and activation/proliferation marker expression.” Cancer letters 94.2 (1995): 199-205.

4) Hajto, Tibor. “Immunomodulatory effects of Iscador: a Viscum album preparation.” Oncology 43.Suppl. 1 (1986): 51-65.

5) Hajto T, Hostanska K, Frei K, et al.: Increased secretion of tumor necrosis factors alpha, interleukin 1, and interleukin 6 by human mononuclear cells exposed to beta-galactoside-specific lectin from clinically applied mistletoe extract. Cancer Res 50 (11): 3322-6, 1990.

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