Saturday, August 31, 2019

Digestion: The Mind-Body Connection

by Dr. Leena Athparia, ND, AAWC

The gut is often referred to as our 'second brain'. The Ayurvedic system of medicine has examined the connection of mind-body for thousands of years and now modern medicine is beginning to understand that the gut makes serotonin - an important neurotransmitter also made in our brain that helps us feel good.  So, does what we eat affect our mood or does our mood affect our digestion?

When you are angry or upset - how's your appetite?
When you are happy - how's your appetite?
When you are nervous - how's your appetite?

Everyone has experienced a time when their appetite was instantly affected by a thought, bad news or something someone said to them. There is no doubt a link between your mental state and the quality of your digestion.

In Ayurveda, there is a concept called 'agni' which means fire. This metabolic fire is omnipresent in your body: from your cells, to your mind and your digestive system. An example of this metabolic fire is stomach acid that your body makes to break down food. When you are stressed, the stomach doesn't make as much stomach acid. People who are chronically stressed have hypochlorhydria or lack of hydrochloric acid which leads to a host of other issues such as parasites, yeast and undigested food. Whenever the nervous system gets a jolt, 'agni' immediately dwindles. This happens in every part of your body including your stomach. Just think of what happens when wind (vata) blows your campfire out and you can't cook your hot dogs! This is a rough analogy of what happens in the body as well.

There is a lot of focus on the physical aspect of digestion - digestive enzymes, probiotics, healthy foods - all of which play a very important role in breaking down your food. However, we need to address some of the subtler aspects of digestion and support a balanced nervous system. When you experience stress, your sympathetic nervous system is dominant (your survival response) meaning your body is preparing for fight-or-flight and digestion is not a priority at that moment. IBS is commonly associated with stress leading to abdominal cramping, diarrhea and constipation and it's a common fact that your stomach acid is altered by increased stress levels which has a cascade effect for next stages of digestion. Taking steps to build resilience to stress, support ease of mind are critical aspects to healthy digestion.


Here are a few tips to support digestion from a mind-body perspective:


1. Do a diet diary: track what you ate and any associated symptoms such as digestive upset, gas, acidity and note how you were feeling that day (such as rating your stress levels from 1-10). You can bring it into your ND to help make connections on what factors in your mental-emotional state may be weakening your digestion.

2. Eat in a relaxed environment: when you are in fight-or-flight (sympathetic mode), your body's resources divert away from digestion, and towards your muscles for survival. When you are relaxed, (parasympathetic mode) your body is in a state when digestion is at it's strongest. To support relaxation, minimize talking at meals and focussing on your meal. Keep your phone away, or turn it on silent to minimize distractions. You can play relaxing music or practice mindful eating - bringing awareness to your experience of eating.

3. Have a routine before you eat: say a prayer, a chant, take a few deep breathes or simply close your eyes to give gratitude for the meal you are eating. When you take a minute or two to settle your mind before your eat, this creates a healthy routine to prepare you to eat in a relaxed way. Sit in a comfortable position and avoid eating on the go (walking, in the car). Here's a simple 5 minute yoga practice you can try involving breathing which helps balance your system.

4. Eat food prepared with love and care: many people say their mom (or grandma's) cooking is always the best. Compare that to a take-out meal. Regardless of the recipe, food that is prepared with care, always tastes better! When food is prepared with positive intentions, the food imbibes those qualities. If you are preparing food for your family, try paying attention to what intentions you are putting into your food. When you put your heart into it, everyone will notice it tastes better - and will digest better.

5. Replace food cravings: when you are feeling a certain way (sad, upset, angry, stressed), subconsciously people tend to go for food to feel better. Food cravings are often a sign of a deeper imbalance, rooted in the mind. Instead of looking for food for instant nourishment, work with your practitioner to find other ways to help support and nourish you in a deeper way. This can be through meditation, exercise, healthy food preparation, homeopathics and more. According to Ayurveda, sugar cravings are associated with the feeling of lack of love. Is it a coincidence that sugar intake in modern society has increased dramatically?

With busy lifestyles, it is not always possible to create a perfect atmosphere to eat your food, but as you bring more awareness to your eating habits and as you feel more at ease at meals, you will notice your digestion will also be more at ease. If you are taking probiotics, enzymes and other supplements for digestion but still not noticing enough change, speak with your ND to address subtler aspects of digestion. There are many tools, from herbs to yoga, to help you enjoy your food and digest with a relaxed frame of mind. When you take steps to be mentally at ease in your day, your digestion will thank you for it - and you will feel better!

Dr. Leena Athparia is a Naturopathic doctor & Ayurvedic practitioner at Naturopathic Foundations with a focus on joint health, pain and chronic disease. If you are healthy and looking into preventing disease or learning more about your constitution, Dr. Athparia can help you. Please call the clinic at 905-940-2727 to book an appointment.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Ayurvedic massage for detox and the fall season

by Catalina Rahaianu

Vata season is on its way! Ayurvedic medicine speak extensively about all the prevention steps to take prior the windy season.
The word vata means to blow or move like the wind. Consisting of the elements air and ether, it is the principle force of motion in the body and mind.
When vata dosha is healthy, the movements of the body are graceful, unimpeded, controlled, the mind is quiet and calm.
When disturbed or imbalanced vata dosha increases nervousness, anxiety, fear, twitches, tremors, low energy, persistent fatigue and sluggishness.

Ayurvedic massages follows the principles of Ayurveda in approaching and resolving the symptoms caused by the vata season and to help preventing their development. In that sense the treatment will be adapted to work as lymphatic drainage and to eliminate accumulation of fat, eliminate toxins, fluids and impurities in the body.
Even for those with less vata in our makeup, it is important to take steps to keep vata in balance during this time because of its seasonal influence. 
Regular full body ayurvedic massages are the best therapy for this season.

Please consult with a therapist in our clinic for the ayurvedic body therapies.


How to prevent imbalance and support Vata dosha at home

Self care - Body therapies
Herbal Foot Bath
In this season a foot soak can do wonders! Warm water stimulates your feet and your whole body and softens your skin. The aromas of herbs and bath salts provide relaxation through the sense of smell.
  • Use one quart of boiling water. Make a small pouch of all or any of the following herbs: sage, lavender, rosemary. Place the pouch in a large wash bowl or bucket and pour the boiling water over it. Let it sit for twenty minutes.
  • Add cold water, if necessary, to reach a comfortable temperature between 100-110 °F.
  • Soak your feet in the water for about twenty to 30 minutes. Gently rub the herbs on your feet but do not scrub.
  • Dry feet thoroughly with a clean towel. Add bathing salts for extra benefits.
Foot Massage
By rubbing your feet, you massage your whole body. Massaging your feet helps detoxification, balances emotions, and improves blood and lymph circulation.
  • First wash your feet thoroughly. Neem soap is especially beneficial due to its antibacterial properties. Wipe your feet dry and sit in a comfortable position so you can easily reach your feet.
  • Apply warm sesame seed oil to one of your feet for lubrication.
  • Start by gently rubbing the base of your little (fifth) toe and continue to the big toe.
  • Stretch and pull the toes gently and rub each side of the nail.
  • Massage the ball of your foot in a circular motion. Apply gentle pressure on both sides of your heel below the ankle joint, followed by circling around your ankle joint with both hands in a clockwise motion. This improves circulation and the energy level of the body.
  • Finally massage your calf muscle to release tension. Repeat the same steps on your other foot.

Dress accordingly
Avoid synthetic closing touching your skin directly. Wear natural warming and breathable fibers, scarves around the neck and do not forget about the shoe wear. Cold feet is one of the triggers for the Vata imbalance. Keep your feet warm, wear socks and comfortable shoes.

Eat to balance
Vata dosha is balanced by regularity in routine.
Warm and cooked are key factors in the Vata-pacifying diet.  Soups and stews, hot cereals, hearty grains, wholesome beverages and desserts like rich rice pudding all feel welcome on cold days.
To keep Vata in balance, favor the sweet, sour and salty tastes and avoid bitter, pungent and astringent foods. All dairy products, for example, pacify Vata. Drink warm teas with a pinch of cardamom or dry ginger in it. Favor sweet, sour, heavy fruits, such as oranges, bananas, avocados, grapes, cherries, peaches, melons, berries, plums, pineapples, mangos and papayas.
Vegetables should be eaten cooked; reduce raw salads. Beets, carrots, asparagus and sweet potatoes are good choices. In moderate quantities, the following vegetables are also fine, especially if they are cooked with ghee or oil and Vata-reducing spices: peas, green leafy vegetables (chopped small, with thick fibrous parts discarded), broccoli, cauliflower, celery, zucchini and potatoes.
Vata-pacifying spices include cardamomcumingingercinnamon, salt, cloves, mustard seed and black pepper in moderation.  Favor foods that are liquid rather than dry, and warm rather than cold.

Please consult with a therapist in our clinic before changing your diet. The above are general rules and on occasion need to be adapted and customized to each individual health conditions.


Catalina is an Advance Ayurvedic Wellness Practitioner, specializing in Ayurvedic massage, Marma therapy and Body Energetic treatments. If you haven’t tried an Ayurvedic massage yet, now is the perfect time to reset your system and treat yourself.  To learn more, contact Catalina at 905-940-2727 or send her an e-mail at catalina@naturopathicfoundations.ca  

To book your appointment, please call the clinic at 905-940-2727.







Monday, August 12, 2019

Reading Labels - a Necessity for Health

By Dr. Iva Lloyd, ND

If you have a sense that it is not as easy to achieve or maintain health today as it was even 10 years ago you are correct. The number of factors affecting health is increasing on a daily basis.

As a naturopathic practitioner I have found one of the most consistent and annoying factors is food. There are just so many variables that come into play - organic versus non-organic, the "hidden" aspect of genetically modified food, the pesticides and herbicides and antibiotics used on  or added to food, food allergies and sensitivities, and the chemicals and additives used in the preparation of food.

Many of the food factors are difficult to deduce unless you are inclined to do a lot of research, which can be a worthwhile and eye-opening exercise, but is not practical while shopping. Reading labels on everything you buy is an easy way to identify and eliminate the chemicals, preservatives, additives and fillers that are added to food. Any food that comes in a box or package is going to include some of these. Getting into the habit of reading the ingredient list of all food is an essential part of achieving and maintaining health.

Food labels include the calories, fat, protein and sugar content as well as key electrolytes such as salt or potassium. This is important information especially if you are managing diabetes, cholesterol, weight or other health issues. What is equally, or even more important, is the ingredient list. The ingredient list is what conveys what has been added to the food. You will be surprised how much of the "food" that is sold on store shelves are actually "chemical cocktails" that contain additives and fillers that negate the health benefits of the "real food". For information on the health impact of food additives and colourings check out the these links:


Often when people are "doing the right things" like avoiding food sensitivities such as dairy and wheat, they are actually substituting foods that have a lot of chemicals and additives.  There is growing concern that many chronic health complaints are associated more with the additives and fillers than they are with actual food sensitivities. For example, there is a link between food colourings and ADD/ADHD behaviour.  The website for genetically modified food looks at the link between genetically modified foods, such as soy and corn, and the rise in gluten sensitivity. Some individuals with a gluten sensitivity find that by cutting out genetically modified foods they are able to handle wheat and other food sensitivities improve.

I encourage you to adopt a "Label-Free Diet" for awhile and get a sense of how your body responds when it  is fed only "real" food. At a minimum you want to avoid the following:
  • soy lecithin
  • carrageenan
  • xantham gum
  • MSG
  • nitrates
  • sulfites
  • all food colourings
For more information on this topic contact our clinic at 905-940-2727 and talk to one of our naturopathic doctors who can guide you to health.


Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Ayurvedic Skin Care for Summer

by Dr. Leena Athparia, ND, AAWC

Do you have dry skin? Oily skin? Mixed skin or sensitive skin? If you pay attention to your skin, you will notice that it will respond differently based on the season, weather, your activities and your diet.  The more you pay attention, the more you will also know what your skin needs.

Your skin is the largest organ in the body and it breathes. It removes waste from inside the body through sweat as a route of elimination. Your skin also absorbs what you put on it – creams, oils, lotions etc. So what you put on your skin should be clean to the extent you could eat it! Just take a look at your bathroom counter and see if you would eat any of your skin creams.  If not, it may be time to re-evaluate your personal care products.

According to Ayurveda, skin can be qualified by dosha type. The five elements in nature are also at work in your body: space, air, fire, water and earth. For example, if you have excess fire element, your skin may be triggered by hot weather or internal changes like too much spicy or fried food. Inflamed, red or breakout skin can be prevented by taking steps to keep your skin clean and cool.

Ayurvedic Skin Types

Although each person’s skin is unique, most people have a dominant skin type. Read below to see which skin sounds most like yours:

Vata skin:

This skin type tends to be dry, rough, thin, cool and worse with dry, cold, windy weather. Vata skin is most affected in the winter. This skin type does best with nourishing oils such as sesame or almond oil, warm oil massage, thicker creams topically along with frequent hydration, and a diet rich in healthy oils.

Pitta skin:

Pitta skin type tends to be red, inflamed, oily and warm with sensitivity to the sun and hot summer weather. Treatments for pitta skin types include cooling oils or creams such as coconut or olive oil, pitta balancing diet and bitter herbs to clean the skin from the inside out.


Kapha skin:

Individuals with kapha skin tend to have naturally moist skin that can get cold, clammy or oily easily. This skin type is worse with humid weather. Treatments for kapha skin involve oils or creams that are very light and warming such as mustard or almond oil, herbal scrubs, dry skin brushing and toners that are astringent.


Treatments for Summer Skin Health

In the summer, heat and humidity can easily push your skin out of balance leading to common concerns such as: acne, hives, rashes, rosacea, sun spots, redness and sun-sensitive skin. In addition, a diet rich in spicy, oily food and acidic foods (such as excess red meat, alcohol, caffeine and sugar) can cause pitta imbalance in the digestive system to ‘overflow’ into your circulatory system and out through the skin as the body attempts to detox excess waste. Spending too much time in the sun or overdoing your work can add to skin breakouts. You can read more about pitta imbalance and ways to keep cool in the summer here. Below are some tips on a few natural compounds in skin products for pitta skin:

Neem

Neem is a tropical plant with so many uses. For skin, it is found in soaps, creams and shampoos. It has cooling qualities so assists the body in removing excess heat. It is very anti-microbial so good for conditions such as fungal skin infections. It is available as an oil but has a strong odour so is more manageable mixed with other ingredients. It can be also taken as a capsule internally to clean the skin inside out. Speak with your naturopathic doctor on how to take neem based on your health concern.

Aloe

Aloe is a well-known plant that grows in the desert, but very versatile to keep at home to heal burns or inflamed skin. It is very soothing for sensitive skin and makes a great base for skin gels and creams. Try taking a small piece of aloe gel from your plant and apply it to your skin – observe how it feels. Great for pitta and vata types in the summer.

Rose

Rose is known for its aromatic scent associated with love, romance and feminine qualities. As an herb, it is cooling and rose water or hydrosol is extremely refreshing. Rose oil or creams work well with pitta skin types to help calm and cool the skin and refresh the mind. Rose mist can be kept handy in the car or at work to spray at the hot times of the day to refresh you, or used as a toner as part of your skin care routine. Rose hip oil, from the fruit of the rose, has a slightly different quality but is also very beneficial for healing burns and scars.

Clay

Clay comes from the earth and is rich in minerals. There are many different types of clays that will have different qualities but essentially clay works well in soaps or cleansers due to its exfoliating nature. Clay is drying and tightens the skin due to its astringent qualities. It is excellent to detoxify the skin by pulling out toxins. It is great to use as a cleansing mask in the summer. Great for all skin types but vata skin types may need a moisturizer after using clay as it can dry out the skin.

Calendula

Calendula is a flower which has been used traditionally in healing burns and rashes. It is commonly found in diaper rash creams, salves for burns, or as an oil infusion to apply on the skin. It is excellent in pitta skin conditions especially where there is irritated or red skin as it is an antiseptic and anti-inflammatory. It can be used as a cream, oil, ointment or infusion.


Coconut oil

Coconut oil is cooling for the skin and is great for pitta skin issues. It has been used for centuries to strengthen skin and promote healthy hair growth. It grows in tropical climates so it often suits hot climates – best to avoid using in the winter or those with very vata skin since it cools the body down but great in the summer.


These are just a few of the herbs that are used in naturopathic & Ayurvedic treatments to heal skin. These systems treat not only by condition, but by the underlying constitution of the person. Different care is needed for each skin type. If you have chronic skin concerns, topical skin care may not be enough – you may need internal approach to cleaning skin from the inside out. Triphala, burdock, neems are just some of the cleansing herbs used for skin conditions. Use these tips for healthy, glowing summer skin or speak to your ND if you have chronic skin issues that you would like to address. And don’t forget – hydration is the foundation to healthy summer skin!

Dr. Leena Athparia is a Naturopathic doctor & Ayurvedic practitioner at Naturopathic Foundations with a focus on joint health, pain and chronic disease. If you are healthy and looking into preventing disease or learning more about your constitution, Dr. Athparia can help you. Please call the clinic at 905-940-2727 to book an appointment.


Sunday, June 30, 2019

Wireless Technology - 5 Safety Tips

by Dr. Iva Lloyd, ND

 Copyright: https://ehtrust.org/
Are you concerned about the impact of wireless technology on your health?  The research is strongly indicating that we need to be more aware and take precautions in order to protect our health.  Wireless technology is ubiquitous.  It is almost impossible to find a spot that is not connected to the wireless world.  Even most of the provincial parks now have wireless technology. The problem with something that is all around us is that it's impact on health is often ignored.

Symptoms associated with wireless technology are diverse and include:
  • Neurological: headaches, migraines, dizziness, nausea, difficulty concentrating, decrease in memory, irritability, anxiety, fatigue
  • Cardiac: pain or pressure in the chest, low or high blood pressure
  • Respiratory: sinus infections, bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma
  • Metabolic: digestive problems, thyroid issues, decreased sexual function and/or infertility, adrenal fatigue, problems regulating blood sugar
  • Other symptoms: skin rashes, burning in the eyes, deteriorating vision, nosebleeds, ringing in the ears, sleep disturbances, numbness, dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, bulging veins in the hands
  • Other conditions: multiple chemical sensitivity, increased risk of cancer and/or autoimmune disease, rapid aging syndrome.
Some people don't feel the impact of wireless technology, others can end up with very debilitating symptoms which can significantly decrease their quality of life.  Whether you think you are impacted or not; the following tips will help to protect you:

1. Avoid Wireless in the Bedroom

  • It is important to keep ALL wireless devices out of the bedroom.  Wireless technology can disrupt sleeping and the body's ability to heal.
  • It is important to not have your cellphone or wireless tablet near you when you sleep.  If you must have it in your bedroom - for example when you are travelling - put it on airplane mode or turn it off completely.
  • If you need an alarm clock, choose one that is wired.

2. Keep Wireless Away from Children and Pregnant Mothers

  • Children are very susceptible to the harmful impact of wireless technology. Their skulls are thinner than adults and their brains are still developing which can result in the radiation penetrating deeper into their developing brains. There is growing concern that wireless technology is contributing to ADD, ADHD, anxiety and proper development of children.
  • Keep cell phones and tablets away from small children other than in an emergency.  
  • If you are pregnant, avoid wireless devices.  Don't put tablets or any other wireless device on the belly.
  • Replace wireless baby monitors and other wireless devices with wired devices.

3. Keep All Wireless Devices Off The Body

Copyright www.ehtrust.org 
  • When it comes to wireless technology it is helpful to remember the simple rule, "Distance is your friend".  Do NOT carry any wireless device, such as a cell phone or iPhone, on any part of your body. That is, don't carry your cell phone in pocket, in your bra or waist band.  If you have to carry them on your body, it is important to power them 100% off even if you don't intend to use your phone.
  • When speaking on your phone use the speakerphone mode positioned as far away from you as possible.  The electromagnetic field (radiation impact) is one-fourth the strength at a distance of two inches and fifty times lower at three feet.  Text messaging is a better option than a phone call.
  • Avoid personal "wearable" wireless device, such as wireless earpieces, smart watches and Bluetooth devices.

4.  Limit Your Exposure In Your Home

  • One of the biggest exposures to wireless technology in the home is cordless phones. Replace cordless phones with wired ones and use your wired phone as much as possible. Consider forwarding your cell phone to your wired home phone when you are at home.  Corded landlines have no radiation emissions and are the best choice.
  • Replace wireless home Wi-Fi with wired options.  Consider turning off the wireless technology in your home at night. Ensure the router for your home Wi-Fi is away from high-use and sleeping areas.
  • Limit your exposure to wireless devices such as e-readers, wireless games, wireless keyboards, speakers, microphones etc.
  • Opt out of smart meters.  If possible, keep your analog utility meter or request its return. Avoid using 

5. Avoid Using Your Cell Phone When the Signal is Weak
  • When the signal is weak the amount of electromagnetic radiation is significantly higher as the phone or device repeatedly attempts to connect to the nearest network antenna.
  • Signals are weakest when you are in a remote area or when moving at high speed, such as in vehicles (car, bus, train or airplane) and elevators.  In metal enclosures, such as cars or trains, the metal reflects the electromagnetic waves increasing your exposure.  Avoid using your cell phone or wireless devices in these environments.
It is important for everyone to become more informed about the impact of wireless technology and its impact on health. To learn more check out the following resources:
Talk to your naturopathic doctor to learn more about what you can do to support your health and decrease the impact of wireless technology on you and your families health.

To book an appointment at Naturopathic Foundations Health Clinic please contact us at 905-940-2727.




Friday, June 28, 2019

Homemade Sunscreen Recipe

by Catalina Rahaianu

Avoid full body sun exposure between 11 a.m. and at least till 3 p.m. Make sure you apply the oil every 30-60 min as needed. Always have with you a spray bottle containing aloe vera gel (you can add rose water to it) to cool off the skin after sun exposure. 

Ingredients

  • ½ cup almond oil
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • ¼ cup avocado oil
  • 1 tsp red raspberry seed oil
  • essential oils  - use 30 drops of each lavender, geranium and frankincense (if allergic use either/or, or none). 

Never use citrus base essential oil

  • 2 TBSP non-nano zinc oxide (optional)
Instructions
  1. Combine the oils (not the essential oils) except zinc oxide in a pint-sized or larger glass jar.
  2. Fill a medium saucepan with a couple inches of hot water and place the jar in it.
  3. Stir in the zinc oxide (optional).
  4. Leave for 5 min.
  5. Add the essential oils.
  6. Shake or stir the jar to mix the ingredients. Place liquid in a spray bottle.
  7. Store at room temperature or in the refrigerator to increase shelf life.

Notes

  • This sunscreen is not waterproof and will need to be reapplied after sweating or swimming.
  • Make sure not to inhale the zinc oxide. Use a mask if necessary!
  • Remove the non-nano zinc oxide and this makes an excellent lotion recipe!

*Raspberry seed oil offers UVA + UVB protection like titanium dioxide with an approximate  
28-50 SPF protection factor against UVB rays and 8 SPF against UVA rays. It is not suggested to use red raspberry seed oil by itself as your sun protection for a full day in the sun due to its low UVA coverage.
*Red raspberry seed oil may be all you need to protect your skin from everyday, minimal sun exposure. But for extended sun exposure a natural mineral sunscreen with non-nano zinc oxide as the active ingredient is recommended.

As always, check with your health professional or dermatologist before using any new products.

Catalina is an Advance Ayurvedic Wellness Practitioner, specializing in Ayurvedic massage, Marma therapy and Body Energetic treatments. If you haven’t tried an Ayurvedic massage yet, now is the perfect time to reset your system and treat yourself.  To learn more, contact Catalina at 905-940-2727 or send her an e-mail at catalina@naturopathicfoundations.ca  

To book your appointment, please call the clinic at 905-940-2727.