Friday, March 28, 2014

Health Concerns for Active Individuals

by Dr. Jacqueline Cooper, ND

For the past few decades, the health industry has addressed the unique needs of athletes and those who engage in frequent, intense activity primarily by focusing on protein supplementation and carb loading. Recent research highlights that this is only part of the solution. The increased physical demands and unique metabolism of highly active individuals requires increased minerals and additional hydration.

The greater incidence of injury and long term joint & mobility issues often seen in really active individuals can be directly traced to overly acidic pH levels in the tissues and chronic dehydration.

Increased Susceptibility for Active Individuals

Individuals who are highly active are often fit, but fit does not always equate to healthy. Simple evidence of this comes from witnessing elite athletes who have suffered and sometimes died from cardiac events during their sporting careers. Some of the discrepancy between fit vs healthy can be understood by looking at the unique set of health challenges that active individuals face.

The bodies of highly active individuals are typically overly acidic and plagued by chronic inflammation. This is not an inevitable result of high intensity exercise, but instead the physiological process that occurs when individuals undertake demanding training regimens without adequately meeting their increased metabolic needs with sufficient levels of nutrients and hydration. The nutrients most often missed are minerals.  For those who are exceptionally active, there is typically a great disparity between what the body requires and what the diet supplies. This disparity is a significant factor leading to the acidic, inflammatory environment that results in the body.

Groups of individuals most affected include:
  • Children & teens who engage in competitive sports or dance
  • Individuals who engage in moderate to high intensity work-outs 3+ times a week
  • Elite athletes competing at the amateur or professional levels

Metabolic Requirements

The increased metabolic demands of active individuals include:
  • Protein which is imperative to building and maintaining muscle mass
  • Minerals are required for the processing and excretion of acids and toxins (including lactic acid)
  • Hydration lubricates joints and is necessary for the health of all cells and tissues. Optimal hydration helps to ensure the optimal fluidity of blood - this is necessary for delivering oxygen and nutrients to the tissues as well as clearing lactic acid and other forms of cellular waste.  It is important to drink adequate amounts of water, but to achieve proper levels of hydration, this alone is not sufficient. Often dehydration is compounded by electrolyte deficiency, making it difficult for the body to efficiently absorb the water being consumed. Correcting electrolyte deficiencies is imperative to ensuring adequate hydration. Sodium, Potassium and Magnesium are the electrolytes most often associated with dehydration
  • Carbohydrates provide fuel for muscles and assist in signalling the muscles to uptake protein
  • Fat is an important fuel for endurance sports. Body fat insulates muscles and connective tissue thereby conferring protection.

Consequences of Nutritional Deficiencies

  • Increased cellulite (in females)
  • Hair loss (in both males and females)
  • Development or aggravation of skin conditions (acne, eczema, psoriasis) 
  • Increased frequency and/or high reoccurrence of same injury
  • Injuries that are disproportionately worse when compared to the event/impact  
  • Impaired healing 
  • Joint pain 
  • Stress fractures
  • Increased acidity of tissues 
  • Chronic inflammation (contributing to a plethora of chronic ailments including (but not limited to): arthritis, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancer

The Naturopathic Approach 

Below is a list of factors that are imperative to establishing a healthy, balanced system in highly active individuals. While all are important components of health, the degree to which each factor is relevant will always vary from one individual to the next depending on their underlying health issues and the level of activity that a person engages in.

  • Determine nutrient demands and dietary strategy

  • Address metabolic imbalances

    • Balancing pH - each tissue and organ system has an ideal pH at which it functions best. When pH falls outside this range inflammation can be triggered 
    • Optimizing blood sugar control - poorly controlled blood sugar will cause dehydration
    • Ensuring proper oxygenation of blood - nutrient deficiencies inhibit the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood; hypoxia (low oxygen) not only deprives tissues of oxygen but is also a trigger for systemic inflammation
    • Regulating immune status - supporting and tonifying weakened immune systems or moderating overactive immune responses

  • Correcting musculo-skeletal issues

    • Improving posture & alignment to minimize pain, injuries and incidence of osteoarthritis
    • The use of natural anti-inflammatories and joint-healing supplements to support muscle and joint health
    • Acupuncture is an extremely effective tool for muscle and joint pain and to heal musculoskeletal injuries such as rotator cuff injuries, knee problems and sprains and strains.

  • Strategies for improved recovery 

    • Supporting the body's natural inflammatory response to bring on a quicker and more complete resolution to the healing process. 
    • Organ specific detoxification - liver, kidney, colon, skin, lungs and voice are all important pathways of elimination. If the function of any one organ system becomes hindered it compromises the health of the entire system. 
    • "Brain Detox" -  Head injuries compromise the blood brain barrier, causing individuals who have sustained concussions to be more susceptible to brain damage from environmental toxins. Supplementation with nutrients that have an affinity for the nervous system help to repair residual injury to the brain and strengthen the blood brain barrier.
To learn more about how to cultivate health while enjoying a highly active lifestyle, speak with your naturopathic doctor.  

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

EWG's Most Recent "Dirty Dozen & Clean 15"


by Dr. Jacqueline Cooper, ND

Consumers are constantly being bombarded with messages regarding the optimal approach to food and diet.  The media provides a constant stream of conflicting advice, which can be overwhelming. Inaccurate media soundbites have left some consumers questioning the degree to which eating organic makes a difference. For information regarding the health benefits of organic eating read Dr. Urszula May's blog post Organic Foods are HEALTHIER.

Even for those who are fully aware of the benefits, the cost of organic produce can sometimes be a deterrent. To help you navigate your way through the supermarket and ensure that you are getting the healthiest bang for your buck, here is the 2013 list provided by the Environmental Working Group, identifying which types of produce are most and least contaminated with toxic pesticides.

The Dirty Dozen Plus 
(most contaminated with pesticides and therefore the most important to buy organic)

1. apples
2. celery
3. cherry tomatoes
4.  cucumbers
5. grapes
6. hot peppers
7. imported nectarines
8. peaches
9. potatoes
10. spinach
11. strawberries
12. sweet bell peppers

Plus....
kale, collards, summer squash

**The Plus category identifies produce that does not meet the typical criteria for "The Dirty Dozen". However, the EWG feels these items should be brought to the consumers attention due to the fact that they are commonly contaminated with organophosphate insecticides. Organophosphate insecticides are toxic to the nervous system. While they are not banned, their use has diminished in the past decade due to the issues surrounding their toxicity. Thus their regular presence in the above-mentioned produce items on the Plus list is significant.

The Clean Fifteen 
(lowest in pesticides)
1. asparagus
2. avocados
3. cabbage
4.  cantaloupe
5. sweet corn
6. eggplant
7. grapefruit
8. kiwi
9. mangos
10. mushrooms
11. onions
12. papayas
13. pineapples
14. sweet peas - frozen
15. sweet potatoes

For the full report from the EWG click here.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Assessing Your True Cancer Risk

Assessing your true cancer risk is not just about diagnosing cancer early, it is also about preventing cancer. Cancer prevention requires a belief and an understanding that cancer is logical, it happens for specific reasons. Cancer is not random. Health and disease follow the same laws as nature. A person's body reacts and responds to everything they encounter, they inhale, they ingest and what they think.

At the risk of simplifying the causes of cancer, cancer (like most diseases) occurs because the body can not keep up with the innate repair process. The body, or more specifically, parts of the body start to break down. Where cancer "hits" a person will relate back to the factors in a person's life, and will be affected by a person's specific susceptibilities.

Assessing Risk Involves


1. Susceptibilities 

Each person has their unique susceptibilities and areas of weakness. A person's genetics, constitution, occupational exposures, history of illness, medications, where they grew up, lifestyle habits, etc. all determine the most likely areas of a concern for a person. Assessing your areas of susceptibilities involves working with a naturopathic doctor and completing a detailed intake, laboratory testing and physical exam. A thorough understanding of a person's susceptibilities helps to narrow down the factors that are most likely contributing to a person's health concerns.

2. Lifestyle Habits

Lifestyle factors that are most commonly linked to cancer include such things as smoking history and alcohol intake, but it also includes dietary habits and level of hydration. Smoking is a known cause or contributing factor for many types of cancers such as lung cancer or pancreatic cancer. A diet low in fiber is associated with colorectal cancer. Dehydration impacts the body's ability to get rid of toxins and weakens the protective membranes of the body.  The importance of addressing lifestyle factors increases dramatically when a person has cancer or is undergoing cancer treatments.

3. Infections

Severe infections or lingering infections can cause cancer if they are not properly managed. For example, Helicobactor pylori (H. pylori) can be a contributing factor to Stomach Cancer, Epstein Barr virus (Mono) has been linked to different lymphoma-type cancers, hepatitis virus has been linked to liver cancer.  If you have had a history of severe infections then it is important to ensure that you are addressing the immune system (such as taking herbs) as part of your treatment strategy.  Severe infections can contribute to cancer primarily if the infection was never properly resolved.  For example, having H. pylori and treating the symptoms with a prescription for heartburn versus identifying and addressing the underlying infection can leave you at risk for stomach cancer.

4. Environmental Toxins

Exposure to heavy metals and environmental chemicals is increasingly becoming associated with various types of cancers, such as breast cancer, lung cancer, skin cancer, ovarian cancer and bladder cancer. Environmental toxins disrupt cellular functions, decrease the absorption of needed minerals and alter the normal activities in the body. Identifying and addressing your environmental toxic load is one of the most proactive steps that you can take to decrease your cancer risk. Talk to your naturopathic doctor about heavy metal testing and environmental chemical testing. Assessing environmental toxin risk can be one of the most preventative steps that you can take to limit your risk of cancer. For example;


5. Medication History and Medical Tests

Specific medications increase a person's risk of developing cancer. Knowing the side-effects and contraindications to all of your medication is an important preventative step. For example:

  • proton-pump inhibitors such as omeprazole which are taken for heartburn or GERD, are associated with an increased risk of stomach cancer
  • HRT (hormone replacement therapy) and other hormone-type medications have been associated with many different cancers including breast cancer and liver cancer
  • diuretics such as spironolactone are associated with increase occurrence of tumors
  • immunosuppressants such as Elidel which is a topical cream for eczema or opioids are associated with lymphoma and skin cancer
  • calcium-channel blockers such as nifedipine or amlodipine are associated with increased risk of breast cancer
  • medications taken for diabetes such as metformin increases a person's risk of pancreatic cancer
  • statin medications taken for high cholesterol are often associated with a decreased risk of some cancers, such as colorectal cancer; but there is also a concern that statins increase the risk of breast cancer.


X-radiation and gamma-radiation have been linked to a number of cancers including thyroid cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer and leukemia. The risk of developing cancer depends on a person's age and the degree of exposure. Younger children, for example, are at greater risk for thyroid cancer whereas the risk for lung cancer increases with age.  The use of X-rays and other radiation exposure should be minimized.

6. Activity Level

A sedentary lifestyle has been associated with increased cancer risk for specific cancers such as thyroid cancer.  The body needs to move on a regular basis in order to assist in the removal of toxins and to ensure that nutrients are distributed throughout the body.  It is also important to move on a regular basis to ensure that you can continue to move throughout all your life.

7. Stress

Although stress is associated with increased risk of cancer, it is not just about being busy or having too much too do.  When looking at the stress in your life, I encourage you look at it from three perspectives - intensity, duration and impact. Stress is generally a concern when the intensity, duration or impact are severe.  It is not the stress itself that contributes to cancer, but how it is handled.  Learning how to handle stress versus suppressing it or distracting yourself from it can dramatically improve health and prevent all types of diseases, including cancer.


Check out the American Cancer Society's website for a listing of known and probably human carcinogens.


Laboratory Testing

The confirmation of cancer is generally done by scans, MRI, or other detailed diagnostic tests, but there are simple low-cost laboratory testing that can help determine your cancer risk including:

  • Carcinoembryonic Antigen (CEA) markers are specific for cancer.  CA15-3 is often used to assess or stage breast cancer, CA19-9 is used when assessing for pancreatic or colorectal cancer.  CA-125 can indicate risk of ovarian cancer.
  • Complete Blood Count (CBC) is a standard blood test that is used to assess for infections, anemia, red and white blood cell status, and it can indicate the presence of specific cancers such as leukemia.
  • Liver Function Tests including AST and Alkaline phosphatase.
  • Environmental testing using urine or hair can indicate if environmental toxins are a risk factor that needs to be addressed.
  • Cancer tumor markers are available to assess for a wide range of different cancers.  An area of tremendous research over the last 10 years has been on early cancer diagnosis. As such there are a number of different lab tests that have been developed to provide insight in the mysterious field of cancer diagnosis. Talk to one of our naturopathic doctors about the lab tests that are available. 

Cancer Prevention Steps


  1. Take a good look at your unique susceptibilities and your lifestyle. Addressing your susceptibilities is often the first step. For example, if you have a history of digestive issues it is important to ensure that you know how to probably support your digestive health and ongoing healing. Improving your lifestyle may not prevent cancer, but it can go a long way in the treatment and recovery from cancer.
  2. Assess for environmental toxins, including heavy metals and environmental chemicals.  Avoid exposure to these toxins as much as possible in your home and work environment.  If you do have ongoing exposure, or a history of exposure, work with your naturopathic doctor to address this concern.
  3. Support you immune system on an ongoing basis.  If you have a history of severe infections or have a weakened immune system work with your naturopathic doctor.
  4. Take a look at your medications and ensure that you are well informed of the risks associated with each one.  If possible, look for healthier alternatives if there is a concern.
  5. Talk to your naturopathic doctor about the laboratory tests that may be beneficial for you.

To learn more about cancer prevention or assessing your individual cancer risk talk to one of your naturopathic doctors.  If you or someone you know has cancer, check out our website on our approach to supporting and treating those with cancer.


Friday, January 31, 2014

Staying Active During the Winter


The cold winter months can make the prospect of hibernating seem quite appealing. Hence, many people tend to become more sedentary during the winter. Cultivating health however, cannot be put on hold. Staying active is something that has to become a year-long habit.

A sedentary lifestyle carries with it many health risks including: chronic fatigue, worsening of pain symptoms, weight gain, increased blood pressure, poor regulation of blood sugar, and increased incidence of certain cancers.

Conversely, there are numerous benefits to regular exercise. If you are not active, establishing a regular exercise routine may seem daunting. It does not have to be though.  The following are some simple steps to follow when it is too cold to get outside:

leaf.jpg  Go to your local mall and walk for a least twenty minutes three times a week.
leaf.jpg  Avoid sitting too long.  At commercials or at least once or twice an hour get up and get yourself a glass a water, or just take a few minutes to walk around your room.
leaf.jpg  Stretch on a daily basis.  Do arm circles, leg circles and bend to each side.
leaf.jpg  Shake. Shaking your body is a good way to get things moving. Whenever you have been sedentary for a long period of time (1 hour or more) it is good to give the hands, arms and legs a shake before moving.
leaf.jpg  The most important thing is to find opportunities to walk on a daily basis.

Walking 

Walking is a low impact activity that conveys numerous health benefits.

leaf.jpg Boosts energy levels - by increasing circulation walking improves oxygenation of cells throughout your body.
leaf.jpg Improves mood - by releasing endorphins exercise helps alleviate anxiety and stave off depression (particularly important in winter months when people's moods can be dampened due to lack of sun exposure).
leaf.jpg Preserves cognitive function - regular activity is associated with lower incidence of dementia in the elderly population.
leaf.jpg Strengthens bones - any form of weight bearing exercises (walking included) helps to strengthen bones, thereby preventing fractures and the development of osteoporosis.
leaf.jpg Ensures long-term joint mobility - If joints are not used on a regular basis they tend to become stiffer and the result is decreased range of motion or arthritis.
leaf.jpg Increases lymphatic circulation - unlike the circulatory system, the lymphatic system does not have a pump like the heart. Instead, the lymphatic system relies on contraction of the muscles to pump the lymph

There are many health benefits to be gained from establishing a simple daily routine of movement.  If you are limited by your ability to move due to pain or other health concerns talk to one of our naturopathic doctors for advice.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Keeping the Resolution of Health

Becoming healthier is one of the most common New Year's Resolutions. It is important to remember that health is a life-long process, not a project that can be accomplished and  then set aside again for a number of months or years. Health is a way of life and a cumulative reflection of your life.

1st Step - Determine Your Areas of Concern
The first thing you want to do if you are on the path to becoming healthier is to take an honest look at your health -- all aspects of your health. Most people have a tendency to focus on the one or two things that are currently bothering them, but in my experience as a naturopathic doctor, many people end up ignoring the aspects of health that are either "feeding" the other areas or those that pose the greatest health risk.

For most people over the age of 30, or for those with a suspected or known health issue, the first step generally involves getting up-to-date blood work and a physical exam. One of the advantages of naturopathic medicine is that laboratory testing it is not controlled by OHIP or other provincial health-care guidelines and can offer patients a much more thorough blood work-up and physical exam. For example, our access to testing for environmental toxins and chemicals and food reactions is very extensive. There are also a range of laboratory tests that can help clarify the best treatment plans for conditions such as high cholesterol, hypertension or diabetes.

2nd Step - Follow the Logic of Healing
Yes, there is a logic to healing and re-establishing health. A lot of frustration, time and money can be spent with very little results if this logic is not followed.  Generally speaking the guidelines are as follows:
  •  Acute Takes Priority -- Acute illness generally takes priority.  If you are dealing with an acute situation the "healing energy" of the body will be focused on the acute problem.  This is one reason it is important to allow your body the time it requires to heal acute illnesses, like colds and flus.
  • Reverse Order - The last symptom will often heal first.  If you have had eczema for years and recently ended up with a cough, it is most likely that the cough will resolve before the eczema improves.  As deeper symptoms are healing, it is common for them to get a little worse before they resolve.
  • Top-Down - Symptoms that appear above the waist generally resolve before symptoms that are lower in the body.  
  • Inside-Out - The vital organs are located deep within the body. As the body is healing, it will generally heal the deeper organs prior to the joints, skin and other more superficial organs.

3rd Step - Open the Routes of Elimination
Being able to eliminate what the body doesn't require is essential to health.  In traditional systems of medicine, such as Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine, opening the routes of elimination is the most important single step to achieving and establishing health.

For example, having proper bowel movements and breathing effectively need to be part of every health-building plan. Many people find that once they are able to eliminate toxins from their body, many other symptoms resolve.

4th Step - Regular Movement
Movement is essential to health. Most people are much too sedentary in their jobs and at home.  Regular movement is required not only for proper functioning of muscles and joints, but movement is an integral part of cardiovascular health, blood sugar control, mood regulation and other aspects of health.

5th Step - Eat For Health
What you eat will strongly impact your ability to heal. Knowing how to choose what food is best for you is the single most important factor that a person has to ensuring health, next to positive thinking.

There is no magical healthy diet. It generally boils down to ensuring that you eat more vegetables, adequate protein, complex carbohydrates, good fats and 1 or 2 pieces of fruit a day. Some additional general guidelines are as follows:
  • Identify and address your personal food allergies and sensitivities.  Identifying the foods that your body reacts to and then avoiding or limiting those foods is a great first dietary step to achieving health.
  • Address your personal weakness and indulgences. Most people are aware of their specific weaknesses and the "bad" habits that they have that affect their health. One of the best ways to achieve your health goals is to be honest with yourself and commit to addressing your "bad" habits and making more healthy choices.
  • Avoid the "feast then famine" phenomenon. The solution to eating too much is not to spend the next couple of weeks or months eating too little.  Keep in mind that January and February are often the coldest months of the year. Dramatically changing the amount that you eat will often increase the chance that you will come down with a cold or flu. Major fluctuations in dietary intake often worsen underlying conditions such as thyroid conditions, diabetes and other metabolic conditions.
  • Get rid of the sugar and the "white processed food". Those chocolates, sugary sweets, morning danishes, muffins or bagels are packed with calories, but offer very little nutrients.  The increase in sugar and empty carbohydrates is one of the main reasons for those added pounds that creep on over time.  If you are serious about getting back on track with your diet, it is time to get rid of the sugar and the calorie-dense, nutrient-deficient foods.  To learn more about the health impact of sugar, click here. 
  • Drink water -- lots of water.  Sweets, alcohol and many other "treats" are dehydrating.  Ensuring that you are drinking sufficient water is a safe and effective way of helping the body re-balance and rid itself of the excesses that it has accumulated.  Click here for tips on how much water is ideal for you. 
  • 4 to 6 cups of vegetables a day.  Increasing your consumption of cooked vegetables, especially those dark green vegetables like swiss chard and kale, is a great way to help the body detox. Vegetables are also the primary source of minerals and nutrients.
  • Cut out the snacking.  Only children and those with low blood sugar need to snack between meals.  Unless advised otherwise by your naturopathic doctor, stick to three meals a day.
6th Step - Adequate Sleep
The body heals while you sleep. Ensuring adequate restful sleep is essential to establishing and retaining health.  There are many reasons why sleep can be a concern.  It is important to identify the reason before engaging in any treatments.

7th Step - Work with Your Naturopathic Doctor
If you are serious about becoming healthier, then book an appointment with your Naturopathic Doctor. They will be able to help you determine what steps are best for you and will help you stay on track.

New Year, New Diet

by Dr. Jacqueline Cooper, ND

Indulging over the holidays motivates many people to start the New Year with a healthier regimen.

A person's health status is a reflection of their life. Establishing a healthy lifestyle is the best way to achieve good health. Doing a complete overhaul of your diet can be overwhelming and challenging to sustain. It is important to make moderate impactful changes that can be maintained. As, yo-yo diets and dramatic shifts that shock the system can actually be detrimental to one's health.

One of the ways to achieve significant results is to ensure you are adopting the healthiest diet for you. There is a difference between eating healthy food and food that is healthy for you. Eating well is complex, and involves a number of factors:
  • portion control & proper proportions of food groups
  • food reactions (eliminating allergies & sensitivities) 
  • optimizing your regimen (balanced meals and snacks spaced appropriately throughout the day to maximize your metabolism and meet your individual needs).
When adopting new dietary practices, addressing food reactions is best place to start for maximal impact.

What Is the Difference Between a Food Allergy and Food Sensitivity?

The difference between a food allergy and a food sensitivity is in how the immune system responds to the ingested food. Food allergies are immediate and atopic. Atopic responses are mediated by IgE and result in the release of inflammatory mediators like histamine, which trigger a cascade of symptoms such as: itchy skin, hives, runny nose, red itchy eyes, and in extreme cases result in anaphylaxis.

Food sensitivities on the other hand, are mediated by IgG and have a more delayed, gradual, response. There is a wide array of symptoms that are caused or aggravated by an IgG food sensitivity. See list below.

Why Are Food Sensitivities Becoming So Common?

Food sensitivities have become increasingly common for a number of reasons.

Lifestyle
  •  Eating foods in high frequency promotes the likelihood of developing a sensitivity. 
  • Early introduction to common food allergens (dairy, wheat, rye, yeast, nuts, chocolate, eggs, sugar, nightshade vegetables, soy, pork, beef, corn, and potatoes) increases one's chances of developing a senisitivity.  
Environment
  • Environmental toxins - weaken the immune system 
  • Food modification - whether it is genetically modified foods or generally processed foods, the further removed a food is from its natural state the greater the chances that the immune system will respond to it inappropriately.
  • Anti-biotic exposure - especially early in life weakens the immune system and disrupts the microflora of the digestive tract. When the bacteria in the digestive tract is disrupted inflammation results, further increasing the development of food intolerances

Physiology
  • Incomplete digestion of food due to hypochlorhydria, compromised integrity of the intestinal wall  or other physiological processes can increase the premature absorption of large proteins, which triggers the immune system - leading to the development of a food intolerance.
  • Dehydration weakens all mucous membranes, including the intestinal wall. Most individuals need to increase their daily water consumption. If you are drinking 2 L of water and still feeling dehydrated this may be a sign of internal inflammation and/or an electrolyte imbalance.  
  • The weaker a person's immune status the more susceptible they are to food intolerances. Signs that indicate your immune system may not be operating optimally: a tendency to get sick frequently or conversely, never getting sick; experiencing colds or flus that have a tendency to drag on, a white blood cell count below 4.  If you are concerned or unsure about your immune status you should work with your ND. 
Genetic Predisposition 
  • Some food intolerances have a strong hereditary link. If you have a known food sensitivity it is probably wise to have your children screened, or vice versa. Likewise, if there is a family history of allergies (food or environmental), asthma or arthritis it would be wise to rule out food sensitivities for yourself and other family members.

Symptoms & Conditions Associated with Food Sensitivities 

Below is a list of conditions commonly associated with and/or aggravated by IgG food sensitivities.
In addition to contributing to the above conditions, food sensitivities result in difficulty or inability to lose weight. This is due to the inflammation they cause within the system. When the body is stressed and in an inflammatory state it will tend to conserve and accumulate - hence working in direct opposition to any weight loss efforts being made.

How Do You Identify What Foods You Are Sensitive To?

Food Challenge - This involves removing one or two common food allergens for a number of weeks and then monitoring for improvement of symptoms. This can be useful in cases where there is a single symptom of concern i.e. headaches.  The drawback is that it is rare for a single food sensitivity to exist in isolation. Often when an individual has food sensitivities there are multiple foods that trigger an immune response.  

Elimination Diet - This approach requires removing all common food allergens for 3-6 weeks and then reintroducing them one by one and watching for which ones cause a worsening of symptoms. Items removed from the diet include: ]wheat, dairy, eggs, soy, corn, nuts, caffeine, alcohol, refined sugar, food additives, tomatoes, and citrus fruits. In addition to these common food allergens, the elimination diet should be customized to include any other foods that are eaten frequently (more than 3-4 times a week). This is more comprehensive and therefore more effective at diagnosing multiple food sensitivities than the Food Challenge. The drawback for this approach is patient compliance. Removing all food allergens can be overwhelming process for many individuals. 

IgG Food Sensitivity Panel - This is a blood test that measures whether a person has developed anti-bodies to commonly eaten foods. The benefit of doing the IgG Food Panel is that it provides clear, concrete information regarding what foods are triggering an IgG mediated inflammatory reaction in the body. The only drawback to this method is that the cost can be prohibitive for some individuals (approximately $250). 

It is important to note that if you have developed a sensitivity to a particular food it does not mean you cannot eat that food ever again. If you remove it from your diet and work with a naturopathic doctor to heal your digestive tract and reset your immune system. After a period of time you will in all likelihood be able to reintroduce back into your diet.

If you are looking to improve your overall health in the coming New Year contact me via email at jcoopernd@naturopathicfoundations.ca or call the clinic at 905-940-2727 to set up a consult.