Friday, January 4, 2019

Autoregulation

by Darryl Gomes, Certified Athletic Therapist, Osteopathic Thesis Writer

Happy 2019 to everyone! I hope that the new year brings about changes that promote a healthier and active lifestyle for you!

In my series of osteopathic blogs, I would like to introduce you to the osteopathic tenet of "Autoregulation". To remind you of the osteopathic tenets, they are:
  • Structure Governs Function
  • The Rule of the Artery is Absolute
  • Autoregulation
  • The Body as a Functional Unit

What is Autoregulation?

Autoregulation is a concept that refers to how the body balances all of the internal chemical and physical processes in order to work at an optimal level. 

What are Examples of Autoregulation?

Let's say you have a stressful day at work, where you have important reports that need to be completed by the end of the day. Mentally, you are feeling the stress of the situation. Your body responds to the stress by releasing the hormone adrenaline which will get your body to raise your heart rate, blood pressure and release glucose (stored energy in your body) so your body has energy. Once the stressful situation has ended, your body will go back to a more relaxed state. 

Another example would be how your body fights off colds during the winter months. When you get infected, your body's immune system will trigger the release of white blood cells and antibodies necessary to fight off the foreign invaders in order for you to return back to a healthy state.

How Does the Body Achieve Autoregulation?

Your body is constantly trying to maintain balance in order for you to function optimally, so it needs to be treated properly:
  • Eating a balanced meal that includes more fresh fruits and vegetables and less processed foods gives your body the fuel that it needs to run efficiently.
  • Making sure to drink lots of water (not just coffee or tea). Anywhere between 2-3L/day is ideal, as your body constantly needs to flush waste by-products.
  • Exercise to strengthen your cardiovascular and muscular systems, so that your body is strong enough to handle physical and emotional stress. You need at least 20 minutes a day of some form of moderate exercise.
Meditation and rest in order to help your mind achieve a sense of stillness and well being.

How Can Osteopathy Help with Autoregulation?

If you are already doing the above mentioned tips, then you are well on your way to achieving a healthier "you". 

However, if your body has been stressed for a long period of time and you have noticed that you experience body aches, headaches, lack of focus, and digestive issues, your body may need osteopathic treatment. Osteopathy can help to:
  • Reduce tensions on any areas of the digestive system, so that the body can properly process food into energy.
  • Help with postural alignment, as spinal misalignments can put pressure & undue stress on the visceral contents through poor weight distribution. Additionally, the nerves that travel from the misaligned spinal segments can prevent signals from travelling to various organs & body parts, creating inefficiency.
  • Cranio-sacral work can help the brain to express itself better if cranial nerves are free of restrictions allowing for better cognitive functions.
If you have any questions about this tenet, or osteopathy in general, feel free to email me at:

darryl@naturopathicfoundations.ca

Thank you for reading my blog. The next blog will be covering the last osteopathic tenet "The Body as a Functional Unit".

Stay active!

Water Element: is Yours in Balance?

by Dr. Leena Athparia, ND

When you think of water, what comes to mind? It may be a river or an ocean, or a glass of water. You may not immediately think of the 60-70% of water that makes up your body. According to Ayurveda, there are 5 elements that exist in nature and manifest in the plants, animals around us, and within our body: ether (space), air, fire, water and earth.

In the winter and early spring when the climate is cool, damp and wet, kapha dosha (which is composed of the earth and water element) is dominant in the environment. Your surroundings impact your body, mind and emotions, so an imbalance in kapha can contribute to common concerns such as weight gain, fatigue, dullness or having trouble getting out of bed in the morning.

Water element reflects the fluidity of movement and manifests as nourishment, growth and lubrication. Some examples of water element in your body are digestive fluids, mucous membrane secretions, plasma and lymphatic system. Water element cools, smoothens, moistens and softens tissues in the body.

When your water element is in balance, weight is consistent, skin and mucous membranes are soft and moist, joints are well lubricated, emotions are stable and you feel connected to the people around you. When the water element is either too high or too low, this can lead to health issues. Read more to find out signs of excess or deficient water element.


Signs of Excess Water Element

When water element accumulates in your body you may gain weight or experience swelling around your ankles or other joints. Your hands may feel clammy, your skin may feel damp and sticky and you may experience increased urination. Excess water tends to put out your digestive fire so you may experience weak appetite, heaviness after meals, thick coating on your tongue and excess mucous. If you struggle with candida or yeast infections, it's likely that your water element is out of balance. Water element in excess can often indicate that there is an electrolyte imbalance, as electrolytes are responsible for the movement of water throughout the body. Emotions can also affect water levels. Water related to imbalanced water are attachment, fear of letting go, being guarded or excessively emotional, feeling lack of nurturing and relationships that are not flowing.

Signs of Deficient Water Element

What happens if you lack sufficient water? You can relate to this on a day that you don't drink enough water, for example, and feel thirsty, have a dry mouth, dry skin and eyes etc. In Ayurveda, this relates to 'rasa dhatu kshaya' or plasma deficiency. When plasma is well hydrated, your blood and lymph flows smoothly and all the tissues are well lubricated. Deficient water can also lead to health concerns such as dry joints, arthritis, lack of sweating, constipation and overall lack of nourishment in body, mind and emotions. Speak to your ND if you have some of these health concerns to help identify and treat the imbalance.


Tips to Harmonize Water Element

When imbalances are identified, it is easier to treat the root cause. Keeping your water element in balance, along with all other elements is the key to living a life that is harmonized and flowing. Here are some tips to try at home :

  • Exercise: helps unblock channels in the body. It allows the body to sweat, eliminate toxins and regulate water. Sun salutations in yoga are an excellent way to help harmonize the elements in your system and regulate excess water.
  • Hydration: often overlooked but be sure to not miss the obvious. Drink at least 8 glasses of pure water a day. In addition, hydrating herbal teas, coconut water and electrolytes can replenish deficient water element.
  • Diet: foods rich in water such as melons and squashes help you hydrate, while drying foods such as vegetable chips, dry fruit, black pepper and dry ginger powder help regulate excess water. Salty and sweet foods also tend to increase water element and can lead to concerns such as water retention. Each individual has a unique constitution so speak with your ND on which foods and herbs are best for you.
  • Lifestyle: if water element is deficient for you, keeping a water fountain or pictures of the ocean can bring this element back into your life. Swimming is another easy way to connect with water element. If water element is in excess, work with incorporating movement in your day, and finding healthy ways to express your emotions.

According to Ayurveda, health is a balance between body, mind, spirit and environment. When you understand how nature influences your health, you can make subtle but powerful changes to harmonize the 5 elements within you and restore balance. Speak with Dr. Leena Athparia, ND if you would like an assessment to help you find out if your water element is in balance.


Dr. Leena Athparia is a naturopathic doctor & Ayurvedic practitioner at Naturopathic Foundations with a focus in joint health and chronic disease. Please call the clinic at 905-940-2727 to book an appointment with Dr. Athparia.  


Improve Your Health With Water

by Dr. Denis Marier, ND, MA

Are you feeling tired and listless? Do your joints hurt? Maybe hunger has you snacking more? Maybe you've been feelings this way so long, that it just feels "normal," and you've tried supplements and medications, but nothing seems to be helping much.

Perhaps the only supplement or medication you need is water. 

Human beings need three things to sustain life on Earth - oxygen, sunshine, and water. The body can live without food for weeks, or longer, but only minutes without oxygen, and only a few days without water. In fact, 60 to 70% of our body is composed of water. The brain and heart are 73% water, and the lungs are about 83%. The skin contains 64% water, muscles and kidneys are about 79%, and even the bones contain about 31% water.


Water serves a number of essential functions in the body

  • It is a vital nutrient to the life of every cell
  • It regulates internal body temperature by sweating and respiration
  • Carbohydrates and proteins are metabolized and transported by water in the bloodstream
  • It assists in flushing waste mainly through urination and sweating
  • Acts as a shock absorber for the brain, spinal cord, and fetus
  • It the primary component in saliva, lymph fluid and blood
  • Lubricates joints

Be Careful of Dehydrating Food and Drink

  • Be careful of caffeinated beverages and foods that are dehydrating, especially those high in sodium such as movie theatre popcorn (1500mg without any toppings!), and soy sauce (try the low sodium variety). 
  • Alcohol is dehydrating. It can be helpful to drink an extra glass of water for each alcohol-containing beverage.
  • Interestingly, there is one vegetable that is dehydrating - white asparagus. The aspartic acid in white asparagus stimulates the kidneys which encourages dehydration. 
  • There are some common herbal teas that have diuretic properties as well and are encouraged for urinary tract infections and kidney stones, but it's important to drink an extra glass of water for every cup of tea. When the body is in diuretic mode, the water has to come from somewhere and will start leaching from your tissues, including your brain and joints. 
  • Feeling hungry? Try drinking a glass of water instead to ease those hunger pains, as sometimes thirst manifests as hunger. 

Humidity is Important

Finding the correct humidity balance in your home is also important. High humidity can encourage the growth of mold, bacteria, and dust mites. Signs of low humidity include dry, cracked skin, bloody noses, chapped lips, and dry sinuses to name a few. Also, low humidity can aggravate pre-existing conditions such as asthma and bronchitis. 

How much is enough?

The answer to this question is generally 1 1/2 to 2 litres per day to prevent dehydration. But if you're compensating for an active lifestyle, a lifestyle high in caffeine or other dehydrating foods / drink or if you are trying to improve brain function, reduce fatigue, reduce joint pain, and lose weight, then you may need closer to 2 to 3 litres a day, depending on your health status. And while there is such a thing as drinking too much water (water intoxication), it is an extreme situation and drinking an extra 2-4 glasses of water per day generally won't be a problem. 

As a Wilderness Therapy Guide, I have participated in many vision questing programs, several in Death Valley, CA. I am always a little worried during these programs, having a history of herniated discs and kidney stones. So I drink A LOT of water during those programs. And I am always surprised to realize that after a few days of drinking extra water, my back doesn't hurt, my mind is clearer, and I have a lot more energy than I usually have because of my increased intake of water. And I silently remind myself, again and again, to drink more water in my everyday life back home. Even naturopaths need to remind themselves to drink more water!

Dr. Denis Marier, ND, MA is a naturopathic doctor and ecopsychologist at Naturopathic Foundations Health Clinic. To book an appointment with Dr. Marier please call the clinic at (905) 940-2727.


Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Tweaking the Rules

by Dr. Iva Lloyd, ND

Living a "naturopathic lifestyle" can seem daunting at times, especially as there is new and conflicting research and information available all the time.

Part of the wonderful thing and the challenge in today's world is that there is so much information on health and the "best thing" to do to achieve your health goals.  Hopefully the following sheds some light and provides some clarity:

What Hasn't Changed

Some healthy habits are still true, even though they are overlooked.  For example:

  • Drink adequate water. Dehydration remains a common symptom associated with most conditions. Most people associate dry skin or eyes and dry throat with dehydration, but other symptoms that are generally caused by or aggravated by dehydration include heartburn, muscle pain, fatigue and mental fatigue.  A general rule of thumb is 1/2 your body weight in ounces per day.  You also want to take into consideration your exercise level and your diet. Individuals with kidney disease may need to limit the amount of water that they drink so that they do not overwork the kidneys.
  • Eat your vegetables. Many people find vegetables boring or they are unsure what to do with them, but adequate vegetables are an essential component to any healthy diet regimen. Vegetables are full of minerals, fiber and water.  The aim is a minimum of three (3) cups a day. You really can't eat too many vegetables.
  • Don't avoid any food group.  One of the biggest areas of conflicting information on the internet is about what diet or food is best.  Some diets recommend avoiding carbs (starch), others encourage avoiding most forms of protein and others suggest that avoiding fat is best. Often the rationale for these diets is about weight loss, not about health. The healthiest diet includes all food groups. Every nutrient has a specific role to play in the body and you can not maintain health if you do not include all of them.  Check out this website to learn more about the benefits and role of the different components of food.  For example, diets low in starch (grains, bread, root vegetables) are also generally low in fiber and fiber is essential for helping the body eliminate toxins and for maintaining normal bowel movement.  It is all about balance and proportions of each one.  

Modification Of "The Rules"

Hopefully the following helps you follow "the rules" a little easier:
  • Avoid eating salads in the winter. One of the "rules" is that the temperature of your food should be opposite to the temperature outside.  This generally means that you should avoid cold, raw salads in the winter.  For many people, salads are their way of ensuring that they eat enough vegetables and some of the foods added to salads, like cucumbers and tomatoes, are also high in water and help with hydration. For those where dehydration is a common problem, avoiding cold and raw food may still be the best strategy. For those that feel better with salad, we would recommend that you stick to winter greens like cabbage and brussel sprouts or more bitter greens such as arugula, spinach or kale and add foods and spices that increase the warmth to the salad such as onions, ginger, radicchio, black pepper, grilled vegetables and cooked protein.  Sprouts are nutrient dense and have a high water content. Adding sprouts to your salad is a good idea, even in the winter.
  • Minimize your consumption of fruit. Many of the "rules" around fruit are still true - you should eat three to four times more vegetables than fruit; don't end your day with fruit; if you struggle with blood sugar concerns ensure that your fruit is always part of a meal, not as a snack.  Some slight modifications include:
    • The best fruit for most people includes berries (especially those that are blue or black) and apples (especially local apples)
    • Bananas are best used if you have concerns with diarrhea or vomiting. There are much better fruit options that are lower in sugar and less likely to cause mucous and congestion.
    • Choose fruit that is local, as much as possible

New Research

There is always new research and it can be confusing and conflicting. Here are a few of the highlights:
  • Coffee can be good for you.  It is true that coffee is dehydrating and that it can deplete the body of needed minerals, but there are also some advantages including: helping with constipation, improving memory and cognition. Keep in mind, for many coffee can be a cause for insomnia, hypertension and mineral deficiency. Also, some people can not breakdown coffee and it can be associated with irritability, heartburn, dehydration and other symptoms. Some research promotes 3 or more coffee a day. I still believe that it is best to limit coffee to one or two a day, preferably before 2 pm. If you are going to drink coffee, it is important to know the full impact that it has on you. If you have hypertension, anxiety, insomnia or chronic dehydration you are probably best to find an alternative.
  • Food reactions may be because of the chemicals in food.  There is a growing body of research that is linking people's reaction to food to the pesticides, herbicides and other chemicals sprayed or used on food. For example, there is a growing concern that many people that react to wheat-based products may in fact be reacting to the roundup or other chemicals used in the growing of the wheat.  
  • Organic is better.  Some research has shown that the nutrient value of organic and non-organic is similar or the the same.  The main reason for choosing organic meats and food is to decrease your exposure to chemicals and environmental toxins.
  • Choose antibiotic-free meats and dairy. 80% of the exposure to antibiotics comes from food; not from taking antibiotics. When choosing meats and dairy, ensure that they are grown / raised without any antibiotics.
Everyone is different and the best advice is to work with your naturopathic doctor to determine what is best for you, but I hope that the information above makes it easier to live a healthy life.

To book an appointment with Dr. Iva Lloyd, ND please contact the clinic at 905-940-2727.






Saturday, December 1, 2018

Squeeze Some Life Back Into Your Legs


by Dr. Denis Marier, ND, MA

Do you have tired, heavy legs from working on your feet all day? Do you have varicose veins? While gravity is essential for life on Earth, it can also play havoc with your veins.

Varicose veins are veins that become twisted, lengthened and dilated as a result of poor circulation, appearing predominantly in the legs. They often develop in the lower extremities because of the effects of gravity on venous pressure due to valves in the veins not working.

Varicose veins start out as small, visible spider veins but can grow into twisted, bulging veins and lead to lower limb swelling and even leg ulcers.

Symptoms Of Poor Venous Circulation

The most common symptoms of poor venous circulation include one or more of the following:
  • tired, heavy legs
  • calf pain/cramps
  • spider veins/visible veins
  • varicose veins
  • lower limb swelling
  • skin discolouration
  • dermatitis
  • dry or weeping eczema
  • leg ulcers

Compression Therapy Works!

The concept of graduated compression therapy lies on a simple and efficient mechanical principle: the application of an elastic garment around the leg. Depending on the pathology, medical compression therapy can be applied in different forms: socks, stockings, tights/pantyhose or bandages. Graduated compression therapy is medically different from just wearing tights or purchasing simple compression garments at the pharmacy.

By compressing the limb with graduated compression - strongest at the ankle and decreasing up the leg - the compression stocking helps with:
  • venous return and decreases venous pressure
  • prevents venous stasis, reduces edema and deterioration of venous walls
  • and efficiently relieves aching and heavy legs by aiding the body in moving blood up the leg.
Compression therapy also prevents venous issue during pregnancy and long distance travel and is recommended for athletes for optimal performance and recovery.

If no contraindications like severe arterial insufficiency are present, you may even buy compression stockings of lower pressure without prescription. Most extended health care plans cover compression therapy as it is viewed as medical therapy.

Compression Therapy Treats

Compression therapy can help to prevent and treat a number of conditions including:
  • varicose veins
  • lymphedema
  • phlebitis
  • thrombosis
  • surgery after-care 
  • sclerotherapy
  • all conditions of chronic venous disease (tired, heavy legs, lower limb swelling, leg ulcers)

How Do You Choose The Best Compression Therapy?


If you are looking for medical-grade compression therapy, it is best to work with a professional trained in determining the compression strength and style that is best for you.

When choosing socks and stockings for compression the following are the points you want to consider:

  • to address circulatory concerns, you want to choose socks or stockings that have graduated compression versus the same degree of compression throughout.
  • there are a number of different fibers including merino wool, cotton and microfibre.
  • the length of the compression - socks versus stockings depends on the symptoms that you have and what you want to achieve.
Medical-grade compression stockings also protect your legs from extreme heat and cold with their moisture-wicking technology in the heat, and warm, comfortable natural fibres for the cold weather. 

If you want to treat your varicose veins, or if you have more advanced circulatory concerns that you want to manage better, consider adding compression therapy into your treatment regimen. 

Dr. Denis Marier, ND is a certified compression therapy fitter for Sigvaris. Call the clinic at (905) 940-2727 or email Dr. Marier, ND at d.marier@naturopathicfoundations.ca to book an appointment to get fitted for the best compression socks, stockings, pantyhose, and limb-wraps for you.



Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Trying To Have a Baby, But Don't Know When To Try

By Dr. Beata Skorka, ND

Have you ever wondered when the right time to have intercourse is in order to get pregnant? Knowing when you need to be sexually active with your partner shouldn't be a barrier in trying to start or grow a family. This article will bring you back to the basics of ovulation and teach you tools you can utilize to help you know when you are about to ovulate, are ovulating and have just ovulated.

In an ideal world, there would be no such thing as premenstrual symptoms (PMS), heavy painful periods, bleeding between cycles, long cycles, short cycles, and the list can go on forever. These types of symptoms may be common, but they are not normal, and could be an indication of hormonal imbalances in your health. We know that the average cycle length is 28 days and that ovulation occurs on day 14. Although this may be true for some women, this is not the case in all women. If you happen to be one of those women who doesn't ovulate on day 14, you could be having sex at the wrong time. 

Ovulation is the release of a mature egg from a woman's ovary. Depending on a woman's health and age, this will happen once a month. Once an egg is released from the ovary, it has up to 24 hours to be fertilized by the male sperm. Dependent on the health of the male sperm, it can remain viable and fertilize the mature female egg within a maximum of 5 days after intercourse.

Hormones within the female body change daily, and even fluctuate throughout the day. Due to these constant, but organized changes, women are able to use various tools to inform them about when they ovulate. 

Below I will discuss three methods that will tell you when you're about to ovulate, are ovulating and have just ovulated. These tools will help you time intercourse for conception.

1.  Luteinizing Hormone (LH) Strips:

In women, luteinizing hormone is a sex hormone that controls the production of estrogen from the ovaries.  It is important in fertility because prior to a mature egg being released from a woman's ovary, LH will surge (increase).  Once your LH surges, an egg is released within the following 24-36 hours, at which point you have up to 24 hours for the sperm to fertilize the egg. 

Testing Your LH: Just like you would use urine to check if you were pregnant, you can use urine to check if your LH is surging (positive strip).  Depending on your cycle length, you will start checking your LH daily anywhere from day 9 and onwards of your cycle. Day 1 is the first day you bleed. 
  • Your LH strips should come with a chart indicating which day to begin checking your LH based on your cycle length. Typically your results from day to day should look like this:
  • Negative - Positive - Negative - Stop checking
  • A positive strip indicates an LH surge.  Intercourse should start now, and continue for the next two days. Once you've done this for a few cycles, and you know on which day you have your LH surge, you can begin having intercourse 1-2 days prior to your surge day. 

2.  Cervical Mucous:

Based on where you are in your cycle, the amount and quality of your cervical mucous will differ. This is due to the ever changing hormones in your body. Cervical mucous is present to either prevent things from entering the cervix (days where there is less mucous and it's thicker) or help transport sperm through the cervix in the the uterus to fertilize (days where mucous is like the whites of a raw egg). Knowing what to look for can help you  know when you are ovulating. When a woman is ovulating, the mucous will resemble raw egg whites and she will typically have more discharge. Assessing your cervical mucous will require you to touch your mucous between two of your fingers to see how sticky or dry it is. 

How you can mark your daily discharge.
P = during period
D = dry
S = sticky
E = egg white - ovulation

3. Basal Body Temperature (BBT):

A tool to let you know that you have ovulated. Needs to be done for a few cycles so you know which day you ovulate and can have intercourse prior to.
  
First things first, to measure your BBT, you will need a thermometer that has a tenth decimal reading (two numbers after the decimal). You can check your local pharmacy or simply order online. Your BBT needs to be the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning, even before getting out of bed. Be patient, this reading can take a bit longer then a normal thermometer for fevers. Once you have your reading, record it on a paper BBT chart (easily found online to print) or via various available phone apps. You want to search for 'ovulation' or 'BBT' when looking for an app. Phone apps will also typically have areas you can record your daily vaginal mucous.

Tips:

  • Take your temperature at the same time every morning
  • First thing you do when you wake: before getting out of bed, eating, drinking, going to the bathroom. You open your eyes, you take your temperature.
  • Be consistent in your routine
What to look for: a sudden increase in basal body temperature on your chart. This sudden increase indicates that you have ovulated. 

Your readings can be affected by the following:
  • Alcohol
  • Drugs
  • Medication
  • Stress
  • Jet lag
  • Illness/infection/fever
  • Sleep disturbances
Knowing when you are ovulating is an important part of trying to conceive. For more information on pre-natal, natal or post-natal care, contact Dr. Skorka at Naturopathic Foundations Health Clinic. 

Dr. Beata Skorka, ND has a special interest in fertility.  To book an appointment with her, please contact the clinic at 905-940-2727 or email b.skorka@naturopathicfoundations.ca