Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Eliminating Toxins - Top 5 Things to Remember

By Dr. Iva Lloyd, BScH, BCPP, ND

In its most basic form, the body is like a bucket. The "bucket" stays healthy when it can sort through whatever is put in and keep what it needs and eliminate what it doesn't. Generally speaking there are really only two problems that affect health. One, you don't get what you need to be healthy. That is you are lacking nutrients, clear air, nurture and other essentials to health, or second you cannot, or choose not, to eliminate what you don't need.

The ability to eliminate toxins is a reflection of the body's ability to sort through what it needs and what it doesn't. To keep anything that is essential to health and to excrete what is harmful or unnecessary. The better you are at living a clean live and being an efficient eliminator, the better.

The primary routes of elimination in the body include:

Secondary routes of elimination include nasal discharge, coughing, ear wax, tears, hair, vaginal secretions, phlegm, mucous or blood in the stool, gas or flatulence and sneezing. 

Eliminating waste and toxins is important in order to prevent chronic disease, to aid in the treatment of acute diseases, to support organ function and to decrease aging and the slowing down of metabolic processes.

Proper daily hygiene is an important habit to support the body's ability to eliminate toxins.

Factors that affect an individual's ability to eliminate toxins include:

  • Water is the primary carrier for all toxins. Bowel movements, urine, sweating, menses and even breath require water. If a person is dehydrated, their ability to eliminate toxins is greatly reduced. 
  • Breathing is one of the innate ways that the body eliminates the waste products of cellular metabolism, including carbon dioxide. Learning how to breath properly and efficiently aids the body in eliminating and reducing phlegm, nasal mucous and will help to protect the body from inhaling environmental toxins found in the air.
  • Movement helps to eliminate toxins. Regular movement is associated with better bowel movements and with circulation. When an individual is too sedentary toxins or waste products are more likely to "sit" in fat, lymphatic tissue, muscles and organs.
  • Lifestyle determines your exposure to toxins. Smoking, alcohol and drugs add to the toxic burden of the body and can consume a lot of energy and nutrients as the body tries to negate their toxic effects. Many people have jobs that expose them to toxins, such as mining, construction, certain types of manufacturing, farming and others. Where you live also determines your toxic exposure. Living in the country with a lot of trees and clean air is less toxic than if you live in a densely populated city. The important thing is to understand what your exposure is, and to work with your naturopathic doctor to determine how to support your body's ability to eliminate the toxins.
  • Mood and emotions impact health. We are all going to have good days and bad days.  Having negative emotions or periods of stress primarily affect health when we hold them in. The important thing is to learn how to express emotions and how to eliminate holding onto negative situations.
  • The environment that you live in greatly affects both your toxic exposure and your ability to eliminate toxins. Spending time in nature is beneficial and helps the body to eliminate toxins. Spending a lot of time indoors or exposed to urban life can increase your exposure to toxins. Taking measure to minimize exposure in your direct environment is a beneficial way to decrease your toxic burden.
  • Personal care products, such as cosmetics, perfumes, soaps etc. often contain synthetic chemicals which can be toxic to the body. These toxins accumulate overtime and put stress on the body. Choose natural, chemical free personal care products as a way of decreasing your exposure to toxins and ensuring that your skin is free to work as an organ of elimination.
  • Drugs, such as prescription medications, influence the body's ability to excrete toxins and they, themselves, are often toxic to the body. Most drugs put added stress on the liver and the kidneys, two of the key organs for filtering out toxins in the body.
  • Supplements are often beneficial in assisting the body in eliminating toxins. Unfortunately, many supplements are designed to circulate toxins within the body.  To determine what supplements you require to actually support the elimination of toxins, work with your naturopathic doctor to determine what supplements are best for you.

The Top 5 Things to Remember With Respect to Eliminating Toxins

1. Ensure daily bowel movements

Bowel movements are a major route that the body uses to eliminate toxins. As food is ingested, it passes through the digestive tract and is continually broken down. Ideally, the nutrients that are required for health are absorbed while anything that is not essential is eliminated through the stool. The elimination of toxins and wastes protects the body from accumulating or storing the toxins.

Ideally you want as many bowel movements as you have meals. Aim for at least two bowel movements a day. A normal bowel movement should be shaped like a banana, not too hard, not too soft.  Your bowel movements will fluctuate with your diet.  The aim is to achieve a healthy diet that supports normal and regular bowel movements. An active mind, dehydration and prescription medications are common causes, outside of diet, that affect bowel movements. If these factors are a concern for you, work with your naturopathic doctor to determine a healthy solution.

2. Sweating is good for you.

Sweating is a very efficient way to rid the body of toxins that are stored in adipose or fat tissue. As most environmental toxins are stored in fat, sweating is something that you want to support. Sweating is stimulated by exercise, fever, warm temperatures and saunas or steam rooms. Encouraging the body to sweat is a great way to achieve healthy skin.

During perimenopause it is common for women to have hot flashes or night sweats. As one route of eliminating toxins is shut down, i.e., menses, the skin will often act as the overflow route. Similarly, if your kidneys, liver, lung or digestion system are taxed or stressed you will often find that the body reacts with skin lesions or itchiness on the skin. The skin is the largest organ of detoxification. Encouraging sweating, taking Alkabaths, doing hydrotherapy, doing saunas or steam baths are all beneficial at helping the skin support overall health.

3. Express Your Emotions.

Emotions, themselves, are neither healthy or unhealthy. Healthy emotions are those that are felt and expressed. Unhealthy emotions are those that are held in or suppressed. The expression of true emotions and organic feelings through voice allows the body the opportunity to share experiences and to release anything that is "toxic".

Expressing emotions does not always mean talking to (or yelling at) the person that you have an emotion about. Expressing emotions can be done by through breathing, writing, painting or other forms of art, physical activity and emotional release activities. A cleansing breath can be effective in releasing the tension associated with frustration or anxiety. Learning to talk out loud, when you are alone is quite effective. For your health, the person that you have emotions about doesn't have to be in front of you when you express. For your emotions to have less of an impact on your health, you just need to focus on releasing them.

Using voice as a route of elimination is often forgotten when health professionals are listing the routes of elimination for the body. My experience is that emotions are one of the key toxins that people hold on to. Holding onto emotions can subsequently result on holding onto other toxins, resulting in constipation, urinary urgency or increased risk of urinary tract infections (UTIs), chronic cough and other conditions. Working with a health practitioner who can assist you in finding effective ways of releasing your stored up emotions is an essential aspect of overall health.

4. Eliminate Your Exposure to Toxins

In today's society one of the main concerns is the amount of toxins that we are exposed to. There are toxins in food (herbicides, pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, food colourings and additives, genetically modified foods, etc), environmental toxins (heavy metals, chemicals, EMF radiation, polluted water and air, etc), toxins in personal care products (thousands of chemicals, preservatives, fragrances,etc), and then there are toxins or waste products that the body produces through its metabolic and biochemical processes.

Neutralizing, balancing and eliminating toxins requires a lot of nutrients and energy. Many people today are exhausted simply because their body is overwhelmed with dealing with all their toxins. In order to achieve optimal health, and to prevent chronic diseases or cancer, the best thing you can do is to eliminate your exposure to toxins, as much as possible.

5. Look, Listen and Investigate

The body is designed to naturally release toxins. Symptoms are a way that the body gets your attention.  Paying attention to how your body talks to you is your best strategy. If you are constipated, have skin rashes or lesions, a chronic cough, nasal congestion, difficulty breathing, chronic fatigue, or a chronic disease then you are best to work with a naturopathic doctor to figure out the cause of these symptoms.

On an acute basis, look for the cause of periodic symptoms. The acne, cough, itchy skin or constipation that wasn't there today, but has now shown up, is probably a reflection of what you ate yesterday. Any symptom that you have periodically is going to be in response to something that overwhelmed the body. Mentally go through a checklist -- what was different in what you ate, what you put on your skin, your activity level, your stress, your environment that - to help determine what your body is trying to tell you.

 Unfortunately, it is not possible to live a life that is completely clean of toxins. Achieving and maintaining health involves always supporting the body's ability to eliminate toxins on an ongoing basis.

Naturopathic doctors excel at assessing and supporting the elimination of toxins in the body. In our clinic, all of our practitioners focus on this aspect of health.  If you have any questions, please give us a call.

2015 Guide to Health Series

Check out the other topics on our Guide to Health Series. Each month we will he highlighting the top five things you need to know about each topic. The topics that will be covered include:

January - Water
February - Breathing
March - Movement
April - Sleep
June - Elimination of Toxins
July - Alignment and Posture
August - Alkaline lifestyle and personal care products
September - The Power of the Mind
October - Time Spent Outdoors
November - Addressing Environmental Factors
December - Healthy Relationships

As part of our Guide to Health Series, we will be offering in-house seminars on each topic. If you are unable to attend our seminars, we will be providing video highlights of some of the seminars on our website.

If you have any questions about nutrition that you would like us to address, please contact us at 

Let us know if you are joining us on the Guide to Health Series by sending us an email or by hitting the "like" logo on our blog. 

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Update on Naturopathic Move to the RHPA

by Iva Lloyd, ND

In the next few months naturopathic medicine will be moving from the Drugless Practitioner's Act (DPA) to the Regulated Health Professions Act (RHPA) under the College of Naturopaths of Ontario (CONO). The decision to move naturopathic doctors under the RHPA was made in 2007 when the Naturopathy Act was passed.


Naturopathic medicine has been regulated in Ontario since 1925. Since that time it has been regulated under the DPA.  In 1991, the RHPA was created. Most health professions, both those that were previously regulated under a different Act and those newly regulated health professions, have been moved under the RHPA. Naturopathic doctors are one of the last health professions to move under the RHPA.

Naturopathic doctors have been looking forward to moving under the RHPA. There are many advantages and opportunities for intra-professional collaboration; and the move should benefit patient care. The Naturopathy Act, 2007 was passed with the understanding that naturopathic doctors would maintain their full scope of practice.

Current Status

The Transition Council for the College of Naturopaths (tC-CONO), the Ontario Association of Naturopathic Doctors (OAND) and the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) have spent a tremendous amount of time over the last eight years, with input from various stakeholders, on ensuring that naturopathic doctors maintain their scope of practice and that their regulations fit within the framework of the RHPA.

When proclamation happens in the next few months we will have a clear definition of the scope of naturopathic medical practice and the parameters under which naturopathic doctors will be allowed to practice. Under the current draft Controlled Acts Regulation naturopathic doctors will continue to be able to do the following:

  1. Naturopathic diagnosis
  2. Gynecological exams
  3. Rectal exams
  4. Naturopathic manipulation
  5. Acupuncture
  6. Administering, by injection or inhalation, a prescribed substance
  7. Taking blood samples for the purpose of prescribed naturopathic examinations
Overall, naturopathic doctors are being recognized as primary care practitioners under the RHPA and the draft Controlled Acts Regulation includes all the controlled acts that naturopathic doctors require in order to maintain their scope of practice.


The concern is around access to laboratory tests and drawing blood samples in the clinic. For the last 50 years, naturopathic doctors have had full access to all laboratory tests provide by external laboratory companies. Additionally, they have had access to the full list of laboratory tests offered by Ontario licensed laboratories for the last 20 years.

Although naturopathic doctors will have the controlled act of taking blood samples, the recommendation of the MOHLTC is that there be a defined list of laboratory tests that naturopathic doctors will be able to access.  Instead of having full access to all laboratory tests, NDs will be restricted to a limited number of laboratory tests.

The focus of the MOHLTC has been on laboratory tests already offered by Ontario licensed labs. These tests include labs such as Complete Blood Count (CBC), testing for cholesterol, blood sugar, inflammation markers, liver enzymes, etc; general blood work that NDs use all the time.

Our concern, and where we need your help, is the following:
  1. External laboratories offer a full range of testing for environmental toxins, metabolic testing, detailed hormone testing and leading-edge tests. We are concerned that the access to external laboratory testing will either be extremely limited, or will be removed altogether.
    • Without these tests naturopathic doctors are limited in their ability to access testing required for a full assessment, to properly diagnose the causal factors of disease and to create and monitor an effective treatment plan.
    • Patients are limited in their ability to work with their naturopathic doctor to determine the role that environmental toxins are having on their health and how they can improve their overall health. Patients will also be extremely limited in their access to testing for cancer risk or aging factors.
  2. Naturopathic doctors currently have the ability to take blood samples in their clinic and then send them directly to either an Ontario licensed lab or an external lab for analysis. There is a concern that drawing blood and taking specimen samples will be taken away.

Our Ask

The deadline for responding to the draft Controlled Acts Regulation is May 15th. We require your support to influence government so that your rights and your access to the full spectrum of naturopathic care are protected.

Please send an email, or a letter, to the MOHLTC and the tC-CONO this week and let them know that you support our concerns.

There has been a lot of tremendous amount of work done to move the naturopathic profession under the RHPA. Please support us in this last step.

If you have any questions, please give me a call or email us at

Thank you for your support,

Iva Lloyd, ND

Friday, May 8, 2015

Nutrition - Top 5 Things to Remember

by Dr. Iva Lloyd, ND

It really should not be this difficult to figure out how to eat. Yet for many individuals, it is an ongoing struggle. Part of the problem is that food and eating have been driven more by media and marketing lately than research or common sense.

Although there are a lot more factors impacting the quality of food, the basics of how to eat healthy and how to ensure that you get the required nutrients from food have remained the same for years. They are:

#1: Eat Primarily To Be Healthy

To a large degree, many people associate food and eating with socializing or cravings, more so than with health. Too often food choices are made based on convenience, calories, colour, design and taste versus the nutritional value of the food.  It is very rare to find a cooking show or any food advertisements that highlight the nutritional value of the food, and often when they do it is more marketing than it is fact.

Food is the fuel for the body. It is the building block for every muscle, cell, tissue and fluid within the body. The saying "You are what you eat" is quite true.

The social aspect of eating is important, yet I encourage you to make the nutritional value of food as the most important quality. To eat for health involves following the other 4-guidelines and it involves listening to your body. If a food causes you gas, bloating, acne, diarrhea or other physical symptoms, it is probably not the best thing for you to eat.

#2: Eat From All The Food Groups

One of the most common trends right now involves people avoiding a specific food group, such as grains, vegetables or fats. This is especially true for younger children who are fussy eaters. Every food group has its value and the different food groups are not interchangeable.

It is virtually impossible to achieve overall health if you completely remove one of the main food groups. Healthy eating, at its most basic, involves eating food from all the different food groups. These different food groups include:

  • Protein
    • sources of complete protein include meats, eggs, dairy, nuts and seeds
    • incomplete sources of protein include legumes (beans), rice and some grains
    • required for structural component of cells and tissues, hormones, enzymes, immune system and basic building block of DNA. 
  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
    • include pears, apples, berries, grapes, bananas, oranges, etc.
    • provide the body with the required vitamins and minerals, especially the vitamins, which are required for every cellular function.
    • provide needed fiber for the body
  • Grains
    • include rice, wheat, oats, rye and other grains 
    • provide needed fiber and other nutrients
    • whole grains are healthier than refined grains (in other words - "avoid white flour and processed foods made from white flour")
  • Fats and Oils
    • good sources include nuts, seed, fish, butter and plant-based oils such as avocado oil, coconut oil, olive oil.
    • choose unsaturated fats and oils and avoid trans fats (mostly in processed foods)
    • oils are essential for joint health, healthy skin, brain function and many other essential bodily functions.

#3: Ensure Proper Portions of Each Food Group

The ideal portion for each food group is roughly the same for everyone. It is based on the nutrients that the body requires to function, repair, build and support health. The guideline is:

  • Breakfast: 1/2 carbohydrates, 1/4 lean protein, 1/4 fruit
  • Lunch: 1/2 vegetables, 1/4 lean protein, 1/4 starch (grains or starchy vegetables)
  • Dinner: 1/2 vegetables, 1/4 lean protein, 1/4 starch (grains or starchy vegetables)
  • Snacks, if needed, should be focused on vegetables, nuts and seeds. As much as possible, avoid snacks, especially for children, that are mostly grains or sweets.
  • You also require adequate water and the consumption of healthy fats and oils each day.
There are some health conditions that may require a different ratio of the food groups. Your naturopathic doctor will tell you if you require different portions of the food groups.

#4: Eat Regular Meals

Eating regular meals is required to balance blood sugar, to sustain energy and to assist with metabolism. The body functions better when it can count on you eating on regular schedule.

Ideally, most adults should eat three meals a day.  Snacks are primarily required for growing children, active younger adults and those individuals that require additional support balancing blood sugar. Older adults, and those that have difficulty digesting food, may require smaller meals, more frequently throughout the day. Some other general guidelines:

  • Keep the timing of your meals as consist as possible.  It can vary within a week, i.e., you always eat late two nights of the week, but week-over-week, try and maintain a schedule that the body can rely on.
  • Avoid "unconscious eating".  You know, the snacking that happens when you are bored or reading.  Many extra calories can be attributed to "unconscious eating".
  • Stop eating at least two hours before bedtime.  The body needs sufficient time to digest the food.  Late eating and unconscious eating are probably the two biggest factors associated with weight gain. Eating late is also associated with insomnia, disrupted sleep and heartburn.
  • Eat breakfast. Some people never eat breakfast and they seem to do just fine, but the majority of people will have more energy, will think better and will be more productive, if they eat breakfast AND if the breakfast is balanced (i.e,, has healthy grains, protein and fruit). 
  • For many reasons - weight, blood sugar, balance mood and nervous system, overall health - do NOT start or end your day with sugar.  

#5: 75% Whole Food

Ideally 75% of the food you consume should consist of whole foods. Whole foods include fresh fruits and vegetables, using the raw forms of grains and legumes (i.e., cooking rice from scratch) and choosing non-processed meat.

Packaged food generally will contain more additives, more salt or more sugar- things you don't want!
As much as possible avoid the following:
As much as possible choose foods that are;
  • Local. Food that is locally grown will be fresher and will have higher nutritional value. The nutritional value of fruits and vegetables decreases the longer the time between when the fruit and vegetables are picked/harvested and when they are consumed.
  • Organic. Organic food will always have less pesticides and herbicides and will not have added hormones or antibiotics.
There is a difference between healthy food and food that is healthy for you. Each person has their unique constitution and health concerns.  If you are allergic or intolerant to any foods, you are best to avoid them. If you are unsure of the foods that you react to, ask your naturopathic doctor for a blood test to determine the foods your body reacts to.

Nutrition provides the needed building blocks for health. If you would like to learn more about what you can do to eat for health, work with your naturopathic doctor.  To learn more about nutrition, checkout  

Check out our website for a number of additional handouts on food and healthy eating. Including handouts on acid-alkaline diet, energetic properties of foods, food introduction schedules for infants, and many others.

2015 Guide to Health Series

Check out the other topics on our Guide to Health Series. Each month we will he highlighting the top five things you need to know about each topic. The topics that will be covered include:

January - Water
February - Breathing
March - Movement
April - Sleep
May - Healthy Eating
June - Hygiene and the Ability to Eliminate Toxins
July - Alignment and Posture
August - Alkaline lifestyle and personal care products
September - The Power of the Mind
October - Time Spent Outdoors
November - Addressing Environmental Factors
December - Healthy Relationships

As part of our Guide to Health Series, we will be offering in-house seminars on each topic. If you are unable to attend our seminars, we will be providing video highlights of some of the seminars on our website.

If you have any questions about nutrition that you would like us to address, please contact us at 

Let us know if you are joining us on the Guide to Health Series by sending us an email or by hitting the "like" logo on our blog. 

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Therapeutic Role of Diet in Patients with Cancer

by Dr. Kimberley Ramberan, ND

Individuals living with cancer  or actively going through conventional cancer treatment (surgery, chemo and radiation), will often find that they have to stop their cancer treatments because their body is not able to tolerate the treatment.  An integrative naturopathic approach offers additional complementary strategies that can improve both toleration and efficacy of conventional cancer treatment and further improve survival statistics.  


Modifying your diet during active cancer treatment can often help increase the tolerance to the treatment. Diet is also an important health aspect to consider in regards to improving cancer outcomes and quality of life for individuals with cancer. Cancer is now viewed as a symptom of abnormal cellular processing and signalling rather than as a static lump of abnormal tissue. This is why dietary changes can help to normalize cellular function in order to reduce or reverse dysfunctional cell changes, which in part can yield more favourable outcomes for patients.

Optimizing diet also has the potential to enhance tolerance to conventional cancer therapies which assist patients in being able to physically complete treatment.  There is evidence that suggests patients who undergo conventional treatments without receiving nutritional support have higher complication rates.  

Diet can be used to:

1. Support optimal weight
2. Prevent weight loss during treatment
3. Support bowel regularity 
4. Reduce pain & inflammation that cause symptoms like headache, muscle and joint pain, and inflammation of mucous membranes which all happen as side effects of chemo and radiation.

Dietary Patterns

The optimal diet for each patient with cancer differs based on current health status, the type of treatment they are undergoing, blood markers, other health conditions, food sensitivities and a person's overall ability to digest what they are eating.  A naturopathic doctor will take a  look at ALL factors affecting a person's health and put together a comprehensive therapeutic diet plan that is individually tailored for desirable outcomes.  

As a start point, plant-based diets have been shown to be very important in cancer treatments.
Fruits, vegetables and certain components of plant foods, such as fiber, have significant research supporting the anti-cancer effects.

An increase in fiber has been shown to alter the enterohepatic recirculation of estrogens, leading to lower concentrations of circulating estrogens.  This is especially important for people who are at risk of developing, or who have already developed, a hormonally driven cancer, like breast, uterine or ovarian.  

Another beneficial effect of fiber shown in clinical research is its ability to decrease inflammatory markers.  One study showed that women, after being diagnosed with breast cancer and increasing their dietary intake of fiber, had a 49% decrease in likelihood of having elevated  CRP levels. This suggests an anti-inflammatory effect of fiber consumption which, in turn, improves treatment toleration and is associated with improved survival.  

In males, a dietary reduction of saturated fats and an increase in consumption of vegetables has been shown to slow PSA doubling time which reflects a decrease in cancer progression.

Colon cancer development and progression is also heavily influenced by our diet.  The SAD diet, which stands for the standard american diet, is high in red meat, refined carbohydrates, dairy and eggs.  This type of diet is associated with an increased risk for developing colorectal cancer.  In the case of colon cancer, vegetable fiber seems to be more protective than fruit or grain fiber.  


It is now estimated that 2.4%-3.9% of cancer deaths can be attributed to obesity. The role of obesity in the progression and mortality risk of several cancers, including breast, prostate, and colon , is becoming well established and supported by emerging research.  

Work with an ND to bring down your body fat percentage and address insulin resistance (which is a problem that can affect people at any weight, but affects a high incidence of those who are overweight).  Optimizing your weight, body fat percentage and insulin activity all decrease your cancer risk.

Insulin Resistance

One of the main drivers of malignant cancer cell growth is an increased expression of insulin and insulin growth factor (IGF-1). The levels of both of these hormones in the blood are largely determined by dietary patterns. Insulin and IGF-1 stimulate cellular proliferation in malignant cells. Some cancers rely exclusively on insulin and IGF-1 for their growth, including an estimated 27% of breast cancer cases.  As a consequence, patients' diets should centre around decreasing the release of insulin by decreasing dietary glycemic load.  This means keeping dietary sugars and simple carbohydrates to a minimum.   This can be done by looking at meal composition and timing, which can be determined by your naturopathic doctor based on individual needs.  Insulin levels and blood sugar levels should be monitored as a starting point and then monitored during and after treatment.

Dietary strategies vary from patient to patient,  but the overall concepts remain constant. A diet high in fiber intake, rich in whole foods and that is low in high glycemic load needs to be the foundation of a cancer-fighting approach.

For guidance and advice on the dietary strategy best suited to you, or someone you know who is dealing with cancer, contact Dr. Kimberley Ramberan, ND.  Dr. Ramberan, ND has a special focus on cancer care and her approach involves addressing the dietary, lifestyle and emotional factors. Dr. Ramberan, ND is certified in Intravenous Therapy and offers a range of complementary cancer care treatments.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Nutrition for the Skin

by Jacqueline Cooper, ND

The skin requires a wide range of nutrients in order to maintain a healthy appearance and function properly.  This makes healthy eating habits an absolute must for healthy skin.

Avoiding processed foods, and sticking to a whole foods diet high in vegetables is a general guideline that benefits everyone. However, when looking to optimize the health of your skin, you want a diet that matches your body's unique needs. The appearance of your skin can provide clues as to what those needs are.

If you suspect that you are deficient in a particular set of nutrients, I encourage you to work on correcting those deficiencies through you diet, not self-supplementation.  Self-supplementation can actually do more harm than good. The reason being is that the body can selectively absorb what it requires from a food source. Conversely, supplementation drives nutrients into the body at an unnatural rate of absorption. This is a good thing when actual deficiencies are being corrected in a balanced way under the care of a health practitioner. However, often by self-selecting nutritional supplements, individuals can up regulate certain physiological pathways without supporting others. This leads to more stress on the body and commonly an aggravation of symptoms.

For example, the liver has two phases of detoxification. Each require a unique set of nutrients. By taking nutrients that speed up the first phase of detoxification, without adequately supporting phase II, a build up of unstable intermediate substances develops. These intermediate substances are actually more toxic and can create more damage than the original toxins in their initial form.

Below are some skin symptoms that might provide clues as to what foods to incorporate more of in your diet.

Skin Symptoms

Bruising that occurs frequently, with minimal impact can be a sign of B12 or vitamin K deficiency. Vitamin K plays an important role in the sequence of events leading to coagulation (aka clotting), while deficiencies of B12 are correlated with low numbers of platelets. Platelets are blood cells that help to form "the plug" at the site where bleeding occurs.

Fine Lines/Wrinkles 
A lack of sufficient nutrients accelerates the aging process in a number of ways. Decreased levels of vitamin A can hinder formation of hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid is a major component of skin that binds water and maintains hydration (and therefore plumpness of skin). It also is important in tissue repair. Levels of hyaluronic acid decrease with age, contributing to the development of wrinkles.

Loss of collagen is another important factor that contributes to the formation of fine lines and wrinkles. Low levels of vitamin C and amino acids  (particularly glycine and proline) are associated with decreased formation of collagen. Both glycine and proline are nonessential amino acids, meaning they do not necessarily need to be obtained through diet, as the body can synthesize them from other amino acids.

Fine lines or wrinkles always involve some level of dehydration. When the body is chronically dehydrated, imbalances in electrolytes develop. Magnesium and potassium are the two electrolytes that most commonly become deficient. Being deficient in these two minerals ironically impedes the body's absorption of water. Therefore, it is important to correct deficiencies in order to maximize the hydration of the skin. Read Dr. Lloyd's  blog for more information on water and optimal hydration practices.

Hives or urticaria, as it is also known, is often associated with an overgrowth of yeast and/or an overabundance of heat in the system.

From a dietary perspective, an overgrowth of yeast can best be balanced by purchasing antibiotic-free meat and incorporating probiotic food sources (foods that help populate the gut with bacteria that is beneficial to the health of your digestive tract).

In addition to its nutrient value, each individual food has energetic qualities regarding how it affects the body's temperature. Foods can be classified as warming, cooling or neutral. For more information on the inherent "warmth" or "coldness" of foods, visit our webpage and download the handout 'Energetic Properties of Foods'.

Liver/Age Spots
Liver or age spots develop when there is accumulation of toxins. This accumulation occurs when a person's exposure to toxins and/or metabolic waste, exceeds their ability to clear them. From a dietary perspective, liver/age spots do not point to a deficiency in any specific nutrient, but instead point to an overall mineral deficiency.  A generalized mineral deficiency can stem from a lack of minerals in the diet, an inability to sufficiently absorb them, or a pathological process that is draining what should be a sufficient level of minerals.

The physiological processes that lead to age/liver spots are complex. For more information, read my blog that specifically talks about the factors related to their development.

Stretch Marks

Like liver/age spots, stretch marks are a sign of an overall mineral deficiency.  They can vary in pigmentation. Lighter shades are indicative of an overall cold or deficient constitution. Darker pigmentation can point to hormonal imbalances, specifically an excess of estrogen. Stretch marks that are purple-red in colour signify stagnation. 

It is important to work with a naturopathic doctor to determine whether the root of the problem is a lack of intake/absorption of minerals, or perhaps an increased requirement of minerals due to an underlying pathological process (i.e. a high body burden of heavy metals). 

Food Based Nutrient Sources

Beta Carotene - sweet potato, carrots, kale, butternut squash, apricot, romaine lettuce, red peppers, mango, swiss chard, bok choy, spinach

Glycine - fish, meat, beans, soybean, spinach, pumpkin, kale, cabbage, cauliflower, cucumber, kiwi , banana

Iron - liver, kidney, beef, poultry, fish, eggs, pumpkin, sunflower seeds, raisins, legumes, green leafy vegetables

Magnesium -  bran, oats, brown rice, mackerel, spinach, almonds, swiss chard, lima beans, blackstrap molasses, hazelnuts, okra, banana

Probiotics - miso, kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, tempeh, yogurt
Here is a link to an article from that outlines in more detail the benefits of some of the foods listed above, and how to incorporate them into your diet. They also have another article on some lesser known fermented foods. 

Proline - meat, asparagus, avocados, beans, brewer’s yeast, cabbage, dairy products, eggs, fish, nuts, seaweed, seeds, soy, spinach, watercress, whole grains

Potassium - coconut water, fish, bananas, cantaloupe, dried apricots, peaches, oranges, avocados, legumes, brown rice, spinach

Selenium - brazil nuts, garlic, onions, broccoli, fish, chicken, liver

Vitamin A - liver, kidney, butter, egg yolk, fish oil (herring, sardines, cod)

Vitamin B12 - liver, kidney, eggs, fish, cheese, sea vegetables (dulse, kelp, comb, nori), soybeans

Vitamin C - yellow peppers, guava, kale, kiwi, strawberries, broccoli, oranges, tomatoes, peas, papaya, brussel sprouts, cabbage

Vitamin E - polyunsaturated vegetable oils (wheat germ, sunflower, grapeseed, pumpkin, flax), almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, legumes, avocado, spinach, swiss chard  

Vitamin K - dark leafy greens, green tea, broccoli, cabbage, asparagus

Zinc - oysters, beef, pork, chicken, cocoa powder, pumpkin, sunflower seeds, cashews, mung beans, spinach, mushrooms

Other Things to Consider

Keep in mind that the body can develop an immunological reaction to ANY food, even the most healthy. I often see healthy foods like almonds, bananas, cranberry, oranges, pineapple rank high on food sensitivity panels that I run for patients.  Ruling out an immunologic reactions to foods is an important step in determining your skin's individual dietary needs. 

To find out more about how naturopathic medicine can help you achieve healthy skin, contact me via email at to arrange a free 15 minute meet and greet, done in person or via telephone. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Sleep - Top 5 Things to Remember

By Dr. Iva Lloyd, BScH, BPP, ND

Sleep is the fourth aspect of the Guide to Health. Sleep is essential to health. It is the time when the body heals, repairs and recovers from the stresses of the day.  Getting adequate sleep is associated with better overall health and vitality. It decreases the rate of aging and improves mental and cognitive function. It is also associated with decreased weight gain and a decreased risk of chronic disease and cancer.

Yet, in our society, sleep is often viewed as a waste of time. There are so many other things that people would rather do than sleep. To add to the problem, the more a person has poor sleep habits, the more difficult it is achieve adequate restful sleep.

If you would like to improve your quality or duration of sleep, I encourage you to follow these five steps:

#5: Track Sleep Patterns

There are a number of reasons why people have disrupted sleep or insomnia.  The reasons include: pain, anxiety or worry, poor sleep hygiene, poor sleep environment, dietary factors, smoking, specific health conditions and others. Sleep apnea, for example, is often associated with food intolerances. By identifying and removing the offending foods, you can often resolve the sleep apnea and achieve a more restful and healthier sleep.

Figuring out the best treatment approach for you starts with tracking your sleep regimen and sleep patterns. Pay attention to what you notice first when you wake up. Some of the questions that you want to ask yourself include:

  • Do you feel wide awake or are you drowsy?
  • Are you in pain?
  • Do you wake up thinking of something?
  • Do you feel uncomfortable?  Are you too hot or cold? Are there any sounds or lights that are bothering you?
  • Do you have to go to the bathroom?
  • How long does it take you to fall back asleep?
  • What did you eat or drink that day?
  • How you started any new medications or supplements?
  • What was going on in your life?
  • How active were you?
Finding the right solution to any sleep concern starts with really understanding what is causing the problem. Working with a naturopathic doctor is generally the best initial step. Your naturopathic doctor will often be able to assist you in figuring out the cause of your sleep problems and prevent you from relying on sleeping pills.

#2: Consistent Schedule

Natural sleep follows the circadian rhythm. There is a time, generally between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m., that the body is programmed to go to sleep. Staying in sync with the circadian rhythm not only improves sleep, but it is associated with better hormone balance and enhanced overall health.

The sleep that you have before midnight has increased health benefits. As much as possible, plan to be asleep before 11 p.m.  If you are night-owl, I encourage you to gradually move your sleep time to before midnight. If you find that you tend to be wide-awake in the evening, request a 4-point saliva test to see if your cortisol is too high. In the evening melatonin, the sleep hormone, rises which is responsible for inducing sleep. At the same time cortisol, the stress hormone and the hormone that is responsible for waking you up, should be a low level.  If your cortisol level is too high, you will feel awake versus sleepy.

Shift work has been associated with a number of health concerns. If you happen to work shifts, it is best to try and be on the same shift as much as possible.  The constant change in shifts tends to be more disruptive to health than shift work itself. Read more about Sleep Work Disorder and Circadian Rhythm Disorders.

Overall, the goal is to have as consistent a sleep schedule as possible. The more that the body can get into a sleep rhythm, the better.

#3: Limit Stimulants

One of the most common reasons why people wake up in the middle of the night, especially between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m., is because their nervous system is overstimulated. Food stimulates include coffee, tea, chocolate, alcohol, sugar and even fruit. Other things that stimulate the body include intense exercise and excessive worry.

Limit coffee and tea to one in the morning and avoid the consumption of other stimulants after 3 p.m. High cardio workouts are generally best in the morning or early afternoon. The best type of workouts in the evening include stretching, yoga and gentle walking. If you think that worry or an active mind are waking you up, work with your naturopathic doctor to figure out strategies that work for you.

The body's tolerance for stimulants changes with age. For many people, their tolerance is the lowest in their 40's and early 50's.  Perimenopause and andropause are a common time for insomnia and sleep problems to start. It is also an important time to ensure adequate sleep. Dietary and lifestyle changes are often necessary during this time of life.

#4: Avoid Eating Late

Ideally you want to stop eating two to three hours before you go to sleep. Eating too close to bed time not only can disrupt sleep, it also impacts your ability to properly digest your food. Snacking after dinner is also a problem for some people. Late night snacking has a number of health impacts - it contributes to disrupted sleep, it is associated with increased weight gain and it impacts overall digestive function.

On the other hand, going to sleep hungry can make it more difficult to fall asleep. Most people sleep better when they have an evening meal that is easy to digest and filling.

#5: Proper Sleep Environment

Sleep is a time when the body is supposed to be relaxed and is focused on internal processes such as repair and recovery. If there are too many stimuli, including sound, light and extreme temperatures, the focus of the body is on processing the stimuli versus sleeping.

Cellphones, televisions and anything wireless in a bedroom can also affect quality of sleep.  For a number of health reasons, it is best to remove anything wireless from the bedroom.

Most people find that they sleep better when they use their bedroom only for sleep and sexual activity. Avoid watching television, working on your computer or reading in the bedroom, as they generally have a more stimulating affect on the body.

Sleep problems often impact the body's ability to recover or heal from other conditions.  If you are having problems with sleep, work with your naturopathic doctor to determine the best approach to achieving restful sleep.

To learn more about sleep checkout 

2015 Guide to Health Series

Check out the other topics on our Guide to Health Series. Each month we will he highlighting the top five things you need to know about each topic. The topics that will be covered include:

April - Sleep
May - Healthy Eating
June - Hygiene and the Ability to Eliminate Toxins
July - Alignment and Posture
August - Alkaline lifestyle and personal care products
September - The Power of the Mind
October - Time Spent Outdoors
November - Addressing Environmental Factors
December - Healthy Relationships

As part of our Guide to Health Series, we will be offering weekly tweets and in-house seminars on each topic. If you are unable to attend our seminars, we will be providing video highlights of some of the seminars on our website.  Follow us on twitter  for weekly updates.

If you have any questions about sleep that you would like us to address, please contact us at 

Let us know if you are joining us on the Guide to Health Series by sending us an email or by hitting the "like" logo on our blog.