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How to Balance the Phases of Your Menstrual Cycle to Get Pregnant: Advice from a Fertility Acupuncturist September 1, 2016

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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.

PHASE 1-MENSTRUATION

MOVE BLOOD

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.

PHASE 3-OVULATION

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 by email info@yaletownnaturopathic.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

What’s the Hype About the Paleo Diet? July 28, 2016

Posted by Dreamhealer in best vancouver naturopath, best vancouver nutritionist, Diet, Healing, Health, Naturopathic Doctor, Naturopathic Medicine.
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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
Vegetables Grains
Fruits Dairy
Lean meats Legumes
Poultry Starches & Sugars
Seafood Processed Foods
Nuts & Seeds Alcohol
Healthy fats 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

Dr. Kaleigh Coolsaet practices at Yaletown Naturopathic Clinic, contact us today to book you appointment by email info@yaletownnaturopathic.com. Get well, stay well.

Staying Hydrated! July 25, 2016

Posted by Dreamhealer in best vancouver naturopath, best vancouver nutritionist, Healing, Health.
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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

Hydration

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,

Dr. Kaleigh

3 Steps to Reduce Stress and Improve Digestion July 21, 2016

Posted by Dreamhealer in best vancouver naturopath, best vancouver nutritionist, Diet, digestion, Healing, stress.
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Your Body & Stress: A Three Part Series (2 of 3)

Written by: Dr. Kaleigh Coolsaet, ND

Welcome back! In the previous series on your body and stress we discussed the general affects of stress on our bodies and mores specifically our immune system. Read here if you missed it. In this second part we are going to focus on how stress can disrupt our digestive system leading to unwanted symptoms such as bloating, cramping, and heartburn.

First, when talking about stress and our nervous system we have two programs that have allowed us to survive: ‘Fight or Flight’ and ‘Rest and Digest’. These two systems are essential to our survival, and are still present in our bodies today.

Fight or flight is geared towards adapting to a current stressor. We divert blood away from our digestive system and send blood to our muscles so we can run away from that bear or to catch our next meal. We also increase our heart and respiration rates, and our vision becomes more precise. Our senses are heightened so we can survive. Our ability to sense stress and adapt has lead to our survival.

At the other end of the spectrum is rest and digest mode. When we are safe, and recovering from our adventures, we can now send blood to our digestive system so we can properly digest our meals. We also decrease our heart and respiration rate to conserve energy. We don’t need to be on full alert, and our bodies are more focused on repair and regeneration.

So how do these two systems affect our lives today? Its true we aren’t hunter-gatherers focused on catching prey to survive, or running away from bears anymore. Our stressors have changed over time, but we are still constantly bombarded with stress everyday, which leads us to live most of our daily lives in ‘Fight or Flight’. Stress can come in many forms including: social pressures, work, technology, noise, lights, news, etc. From the time we wake to when we go to bed, we are constantly on the go, focused on performance and taking care of others.

So how does this relate to our digestive system? A typical day may include eating on the go, multi tasking while taking your lunch break or skipping meals all together. As I mentioned, when we are in flight or fight mode (working, multitasking, etc.) we divert blood away from our digestive system. This shuts down our digestive capacity, and leads to decreased secretion of stomach acid, and enzymes that are required for proper digestion. When we can’t digest our food properly, it leaves us with those nagging symptoms of heartburn, bloating and cramping.

So to help improve our digestion we need to switch gears and get into ‘rest and digest’ mode. The more time we can spend in rest and digest mode, the more time our body properly digest our meals, repair and regenerate.

Three Simple Steps To Improve Digestion:

  • Lemon water or bitters.
    The bitter taste from lemons and digestive bitters stimulates our bodies to prime itself for digestion. You need to actually taste the bitterness, so no capsules or added sugar. Simply incorporate one of these 10-15 minutes before your meals.
  • Breathing
    Taking time before each meal to sit quietly and breathe deeply for 1-2 minutes before meals. This stimulates our vagus nerve, which controls the digestive system. It helps our bodies start to secrete the necessary acid and enzymes for proper digestion.
  • Chew Properly
    Chewing is our first step in digestion. Taking time to chew not only breaks down our food into small pieces for easy digestion, but also sends signals to our nervous system that it is time to start up the rest of the digestive processes in our stomach and intestines.

The above-mentioned tips are simple ways to help switch your body from fight or flight into rest and digest mode. These tools are best used consistently and in conjunction with sitting down to eat your meals, while focusing on the food you are consuming. No TV, no cell phones, no work while eating. This can be a difficult habit to create, but will help you reduce any unwanted and unnecessary digestive symptoms.

If you have tried these tips consistently with no success, it may be time to consult a naturopathic physician to assess your digestive concerns to determine the root cause and prescribe an appropriate treatment plan.

In our next part of the series we will discuss how stress affects our hormones, and more tips on how to combat stress and improve you health.

Best in Health,

Dr. Kaleigh

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

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

Written by: Dr. Kaleigh Coolsaet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best in Health,

Dr. Kaleigh

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Naturopathic doctors – Medically Trained, but Naturally Focused.

In Health,

Dr. Reuben Dinsmore, ND

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

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

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

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

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

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

Energy

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

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

Skin & hair

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

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

Bones, Joints and Muscles. 

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

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

Cognition – “Use it or Lose it”

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

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

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

Sleep

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

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

Digestion

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

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

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

Cardiovascular Issues

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

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

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

Immune System

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

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

Mood

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

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

Men’s Health

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

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

Women’s Health

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

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

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

In Health,

Dr. Reuben Dinsmore, ND

What is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist? May 2, 2016

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

What is a R.H.N.?

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

What does it mean to be ‘holistic’?

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

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

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

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

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

How often will I need to see a nutritionist?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Free-Range Organic Eggs

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

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

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

2.  Leafy Greens

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

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

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

3.  Chia Seeds

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

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

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

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

4.  Coconut Oil

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

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

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

5.  Avocado

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

*Wild Fish

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

So You’ve Decided to Quit Smoking (Again!) February 1, 2016

Posted by Dreamhealer in addiction, best vancouver naturopath, cigarettes, Healing, Smoking.
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How-to-quit-smoking-vancouver-naturopath-reuben-dinsmore-710x400One of the most common New Year’s resolutions that people make is that they will finally quit smoking.

Whatever your reasons for doing so (for your health, financial reasons, providing a good example for your kids, no longer wanting to go around smelling like an ashtray), they are your reasons, and they’re crucial to your success. Unless you truly want to quit, you probably won’t be successful. Even IF you truly want to quit, you might not make it. But the single more important contributing factor to your success? Turns out it’s the number of times you try! If at first you don’t succeed…

Now, if this is your first time trying to quit, good luck! If you’ve tried before, but it didn’t stick – try again! But first – think back on that last time you tried, and see if you can figure out what it was that made you start smoking again – and this time, do what you can to prevent that from happening again.

If you need a little encouragement, consider these facts about your body’s amazing ability for healing:

  • 20 minutes (after the last cigarette of your life): your heart and blood pressure drop
  • 12 hours: the carbon monoxide in your blood returns to normal
  • 48 hours: nerve endings start to regenerate, allowing you to taste and smell more clearly
  • 2-12 weeks: circulation and lung function improve
  • 1-9 months: cilia (protective “hairs” in the airways) regrow, helping reduce chance of infection
  • 1+ years: steadily decreasing risk of stroke, coronary heart disease, lung and other smoking-related cancers

So how are you going to make this happen?

The Smoking Cessation Program (aka “Quit Now, Quit Forever” or “Ditch the Nic”) here at Yaletown Naturopathic Clinic is a multi-faceted 6-week program designed to gently wean you off nicotine, curb the cravings and break the behavioural aspect of your smoking habit, as well as providing general health support to get you back to optimal health as quickly as possible. We’ll use a combination of acupuncture and behavioural modification, along with supplements that support the body’s natural detoxification pathways and help your body start getting back to its healthy pre-tobacco state.

As of January 1, 2016, the BC government introduced a new programthat covers part or all of the cost of either nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) or prescription smoking cessation medications.

Nicotine replacement therapy is just what it says – a way to get nicotine into the body that doesn’t involve smoking (or vaporizing) it. They provide a tailored approach starting with the amount you currently smoke, which is then gradually decreased over a period of weeks to months. If followed correctly, this can be very effective. It provides nicotine to the body, which helps to prevent cravings when you stop getting the drug through smoking. Over time, the mental attachment to the act of smoking gradually diminishes as you no longer perform that action.

Prescription medications to help quit smoking are another option. Bupropion (brand name Wellbutrin or Zyban) acts on the nicotine receptors to make them less receptive to the actions of nicotine, as well as moderating the dopamine and norepinephrine systems. Varenicline (brand name Champix) similarly partially blocks the action of nicotine, as well as decreasing the pleasure perceived from smoking by its actions on the dopamine system. How effective are they? Compared to a placebo, taking either of these medications (based on a 12-week treatment period) increases one’s chances of remaining smoke-free by at least 50%, measured at the one-year mark. Some official side effects reported were nausea and sleep disturbances. However, varenicline has also been suspected in contributing to deaths of 44 people in Canada since it was approved in Canada in 2007, 30 of which were by suicide. “Increased depression and suicidal ideation” has been much more common, reported by over 1300 patients. So if you have ever suffered from even a mild mood disorder, you should consider carefully before choosing this option. Ensure you have substantial personal support in the form of friends and family who can be on the lookout for any behavioural changes while on this medication.

Your last option for quitting: going cold turkey. Some people can do it. Many people have done it. Can you? Well, that’s up to you.

Whatever option you choose, I wish you all the best. There is almost nothing else you can do for your health that provides a bigger potential benefit than quitting smoking. And you deserve it.

All the physicians at Yaletown Naturopathic Clinic have their Prescription Rights and are able to prescribe and implement all of the protocols mentioned in the article.

Written by: Dr. Reuben Dinsmore

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