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. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Movement - Top 5 Things to Remember

By Dr. Iva Lloyd, ND

When most people think of movement, they relate it to their ability to get around, to physically move. Although that is an important aspect of movement, it is also directly correlated and required for many other functions such as the transfer of nutrients throughout the body and the elimination of toxins. Digestion, respiration, even thinking, communication and thoughts require movement in order to function properly. A person's external movement, that is their ability to physically move, is a mirror of the internal movement within the body.

Being able to move freely is often something that people start to pay attention to once it becomes a problem. The ideal is to ensure that movement, of all types, is part of your everyday life. Of course, if you have any specific health concerns it is important to work with your naturopathic doctor or health care provider and get their guidance on the types of exercises that are best for you.  In general, the top five things to remember about movement are:

#1: Just Move

If you are not that active than the important thing is just start moving. The first type of movement that is important is simply moving your joints through their normal range of motion. This is where basic stretching comes into play. It is important not to overdo it.  Start slow and work on increasing the amount of movement you engage in on a daily basis.  Here are some links to general stretching exercises:

  • Morning stretching:
  • General stretching for seniors:

After you have got the stretching part down pat, the next step is to start walking as it is generally the safest form of movement for most people. Shaking is also a wonderful way to get the body more limber and to "wake it up" from weeks, months or even years of being sedentary.

If your health conditions impact your ability to walk or do all the stretching routines, it is important to engage in movement activities in your chair or on the bed. Stretching any part of the body will provide benefits.

#2: Move Often
Research shows that people that have an active life are generally more fit than those that have a sedentary life and exercise intensely three or four a week for a couple of hours. Bottom line, move often on a daily basis. You don't have to engage in intense exercise routines to reap the benefits,  just  avoid sitting or lying down (other than sleeping) for long periods of time.

#3: Move All The Joints

Every joint has its ideal range of motion. Take time on a regular basis to make sure that you can still reach above your head and behind your back, that you get down on the floor and up again, that you bend forward and backwards with ease.  The goal is to move until all movement is effortless.

Joint health is based on "use-it-or-lose-it." Too often people don't use their full of motion. They don't practice getting on the floor and getting up. They don't reach for things as they have stools and devices that make everything easy. The result is that they lose range-of-motion over time. Maintaining full range-of-motion is pretty natural if you use it.  Regaining range-of-motion once it is lost is a bit more challenging.

Poor posture, whether standing, sitting or sleeping can also impact a person's ability to move their joints freely, especially in the upper body. If you want your joints to move freely and comfortably, you need to provide them with a posture that is aligned.  Weight-lifting and occupations that build up the upper body can negatively affect the range-of-motion of the arms and neck. From an overall health perspective, it is never advisable to choose strength over range-of-motion or flexibility.

#4: Choose Movements That Balance Your Life

The best type of movement or exercise depends on your lifestyle and your job. If you have a job where you are sedentary and sitting a lot than it is best to choose an exercise such as walking to work out the tension in the joints or engage in a more rigorous exercise routine such as dancing, cardiovascular exercises, or movement classes.

If your daily life is hectic, you may find that yoga, pilates and exercise programs that encourage the body to relax and settle are more suited for you and are more beneficial in helping you achieve health.

Tai chi, Qi Gong and other forms of slow, continual movement exercises are ideal for most people. These forms of exercises look easy, but they actually provide a great cardio-workout, help with building muscle tone and most importantly work to integrate all aspect of the body and improvement overall movement, coordination and balance.

There is no one type of exercise that is suited to everyone. The goal is to ensure that your movement and exercise regimens work on all types of movement - flexibility, balance, cardiovascular health, strength training and range-of-motion.

#5: Balance and Flexibility

When many people think of exercise they thing of weight training or intense cardio.  Although there is value to those forms of exercise, if you are truly looking at exercise as a way of achieving long-term health I encourage you to put the greatest emphasis on balance and flexibility.

As a person ages one of the risks to health is falling. The better your balance and flexibility, the less likely you will fall.

A great, simple exercise is to practice standing on one foot. Most falling occurs because your weight shifts to one side and you can't compensate fast enough. Being able to stand on one-foot for 5 to 10 seconds will help not only your balance, but your bone density as well.

As with any exercise regimen, it is important to start slow. Check with your naturopathic doctor if you are concerned about being injured or if you want specific guidance on what is best for you.

To learn more about the benefits of movement and different types of movement 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:

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 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 breathing that you would like us to address, please contact us at We will be posting all answers on the "Breathing" page on our website.

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. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Seasonal Allergies - healing them naturally

It is time to get prepared for allergy season. Those irritating symptoms such as sneezing, wheezing, runny nose and itchy, watery eyes due to pollen from trees, grass, flowers, and plants can be dramatically reduced or even eliminated using natural therapies.

Allergies are one of the most common conditions where people seek natural treatments. That is because natural therapies do not suppress the symptoms. They provide effective symptom relief while strengthening a person's immune system and decreasing their susceptibility, both short-term and long-term.

If you tend to suffer with allergies the following steps can greatly decrease the severity and frequency of allergy symptom and smay help increase your resistance:

Home Preparation: 
Allergies are not only triggered by pollen. They can be caused by or worsened by dust mites, household factors and by pollen that you carry on your clothes and hair. Steps you can take at home include:
  • Limit the use of carpets as they tend to be a breeding ground for dust mites. Bare floors that are vacuumed and damp-mopped frequently is best.
  • Replace your curtains with shades.
  • Dust-mite proof pillow and mattress covers are your first line of defense against dust allergies. It is also helpful to wash bedding, especially pillow cases, more frequently during allergy season.
  • Look into a cool-mist humidifier to lessen nasal congestion and wheezing.  On the other hand, if you have a lot of carpets in your home you may actually need a dehumidifier as dust mites love humid environments. A dehumidifier can also prevent mold, another allergen.
  • Clean your furnace/air-conditioner filter frequently to remove pollen.
  • An air purifier with a HEPA filter (high-efficiency particulate air filters) will help to keep the air inside your house healthier.
  • Unfortunately you are better to keep your windows closed, especially on windy days, to minimize the pollen that comes into the house.
  • Limit access of pets to specific areas of the home. It is best to keep them out of your bedroom to ensure that you get a good nights sleep. It can also help to bathe pets frequency as the dander on pets is water-soluble.
Minimizing Personal Exposure
Minimizing personal exposure is the most important step, although it is not always easy. Some of the following can help:
  • Air pollution can both cause and worsen allergy symptoms. On hot smoggy days it is best to minimize the time you spent outside. It is also best to limit any gardening or outdoor exercise to early morning or cool non-breezy days.
  • Avoid people that smoke. Tobacco is a notorious irritant that increases a person's susceptibility to allergies and worsens existing allergies.
  • When outside choose eyeglasses with side shields to protect your eyes from pollen irritants that are blowing around.
  • If you need to clean out that dusty garage or rake your grass it is best to wear a mask that covers the nose and mouth and to wear goggles to protect the eyes. 
  • Nasal lavage is a must for anyone that suffers with congestion and runny nose. Irrigating the nose with a salt water solution often helps to soothe upper respiratory allergies by removing irritants that become lodged in the nose.
  • Personal hygiene steps. 
    • After you have been outside for awhile it may be beneficial to wash your hair to remove pollen. 
    • A hot shower may help as well as it can lessen symptoms like sneezing and congestion. 
    • Breathing in steam refreshes and soothes irritated sinuses and decreases the mucous in nasal passages.
    • If your eyes bother you try rinsing them with cool, clean water.
  • Other factors that contribute to allergies include:
    • Stress is a trigger for many people. If you recognize that stress is your primary trigger you may find that treating the stress directly is as beneficial, or more, than treating the allergies.
    • Insomnia. Sleep is necessary for healing and repair. For some allergies cause insomnia, for others allergies are worse because of insomnia. Ensuring that you get a good night sleep is critical to allergy management.
Recommended Dietary Changes
Dietary changes are necessary in preparation of and throughout allergy season. During allergy season the immune system is working overtime. As a result, there are less resources available for digestion. The result is that food intolerances are much worse during allergy season. The following recommendations often help:
  • Ensure that you drink adequate water. Water helps thin out the mucous and decreases the feeling of congestion.
  • Eliminate sugar as it suppresses immune function even more.
  • Eliminate dairy as it increase mucous production. Avoiding dairy is critical for anyone who suffers primarily with congestion.
  • Cut out bananas as they are known to increase the production of mucous.
  • Reduce wheat as wheat intolerance is commonly worse in allergy season.
  • Food additives are known to worsen allergies. Most important you want to figure out what foods you reaction to and reduce your consumption of these foods during allergy season. If you are not aware of your food sensitivities than it may be worthwhile to look at doing food sensitivity testing.
  • Foods which may be beneficial include:
    • Peppermint tea has anti-inflammatory and mild anti-bacterial properties. Many people find that it lessens allergy symptoms.
    • A dose or two of horseradish or wasabi can clear the sinuses and increase mucous flow.
    • Honey has been shown to help reduce symptoms. Add it to hot water or other teas.

Natural Allergy Pharmacy
The following supplements and herbs are known to effectively reduce the frequency and severity of allergy symptoms.

  • Vitamin C acts as an antihistamine, which means that it can reduce the severity of allergy reactions. It is most effective when taken prior to the onset of allergies and continued throughout allergy season. 
  • Nettle is a wonderful and safe herb for all ages. It is  considered a general health tonic as it is high in carotene, vitamin K and quercetin. It is well known as an effective herb for lessening the severity of allergies and for strengthening the immune system.
  • Magnesium is a good choice when allergies affect breathing function. It is also a good muscle relaxant and is known to support many aspects of health.
  • Vitamin D deficiency is associated with increased allergy symptoms. If you are concerned about being deficient it may help to take Vitamin D.
  • Quercetin is a bioflavonoid with anti-inflammatory properties. It is generally used at the onset of allergy symptoms as it acts similar to an anti-histamine in that it blocks histamine and hence reduces allergy symptoms.
  • Bromelain is known to decrease nasal swelling and it thins mucous. It is effective in cases of sinus infection and congestion.
  • Homeopathic remedies, such as BIO84, Luffeel and Aller-gen can all support the body's ability to prepare for allergy season. They are like the "natural alternative" to over-the-counter allergy medications. They are great to have on hand for when allergies start as many people find them an effective way to lessen allergy symptoms. There are also some great single homeopathic remedies such as allium cepa or euphrasia that are specific for addressing allergies.
Other Natural Therapies:
For those stubborn allergies or if you want to decrease your allergy symptoms in a hurry the following treatments may also be beneficial.
  • Acupuncture is effective in reducing the severity and frequency of allergy symptoms.
  • Intravenous therapies can be helpful for severe allergies or when allergies have exhausted a person.
  • Check out the link on the breathing blog that illustrates a specific breathing technique to clear congestion.  Ensuring that you are breathing properly can be one of the easiest and most important factors in allergy management.
No one needs to suffer with chronic allergy symptoms. By scheduling an appointment with one of our naturopathic doctors we can help you figure out the best treatment plan for you. It is time to stop suppressing symptoms and actually get a handle on your allergies.

To schedule an appointment call our clinic at 905-940-2727 or visiting our website at 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Breathing - Top 5 Things to Remember

By Iva Lloyd, ND

Breathing is the second part of our Guide to Health. Breathing defines life.  It is the first sign of life when you are born and the absence of breath is generally what defines the end of a person's life. Breathing is linked to every function of the body and its importance is often overlooked.

There are a number of conditions that are associated with improper breathing, including: insomnia or poor sleep, decrease in energy, poor concentration, wheezing, coughing, snoring, anxiety, ADHD, hypertension, stress incontinence and others.

Proper breathing involves the following: breathing into the belly, slowing down the rate of your breath, decreasing the volume of your breath and breathing through your nose instead of your mouth. The top five things that you want to remember about breathing are the following:

#1: Slow down your breathing.

Over-breathing has become as habitual as over-eating.  Increased respiration rate or rapid breathing causes an imbalance in the oxygenation of tissues. There is a false belief that when you breathe more rapidly you are taking in more oxygen, when in fact you are limiting the body's ability to properly use the oxygen that you are inhaling.

Learning to slow down the rate of your breathing is beneficial in a number of ways. It helps the nervous system relax which decreases anxiety and stress and provides increased emotional control.

The rate of your breathing should match the rate of your activity. When you are sedentary your breathing rate needs to be slow and your volume needs to be low. When you are more active it is natural for your breathing rate and volume to increase. The goal is to return to a slow regular breathing pattern as quickly as possible after exercise.  By learning how to control the rate and volume of your breathing you can alleviate a number of chronic health conditions.

#2: Breathe through your nose.

Breathing through your nose is the optimal way to breathe. The hairs in the nose are designed to filter the air and ensure that toxins do not get into the lungs. Nasal breathing also warms the air before it hits the lungs, resulting in relaxation of the lungs and improvement in respiratory conditions such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Breathing through your nose, with your mouth closed, ensures that your blood is saturated with oxygen. Mouth breathing increases the exhalation of carbon dioxide, but it can often be too much. Carbon dioxide is important in that it helps to regulate the rate of breathing and also plays a role in relaxing smooth muscles.

Mouth breathing is often a vicious cycle. Nasal or sinus congestion contributes to the tendency to mouth breathe.  The concern is that mouth breathing also increases the amount of nasal congestion. Another cause of nasal or sinus congestion is food intolerances, especially to dairy and/or wheat or yeast. If nasal congestion is a concern, identify the foods that may be contributing, ensure that you are drinking adequate water, use a nasal salt rinse and ask your naturopathic doctor about herbs or homeopathics that may be beneficial. Click on this link for a breathing exercise that is also very beneficial in relieving nasal congestion.

People that breathe rapidly or through the mouth often end up over-breathing. This condition is referred to as hyperventilation syndrome (HVS) or breathing pattern disorder. Over-breathing results in a lack of carbon dioxide in the blood, which in turn results in constriction of smooth muscles and the airways. Over-breathing can lead to a number of health issues, including: sleep apnea, snoring, insomnia, wheezing, irritable bowel syndrome, stress incontinence, anxiety, panic attacks, pain, asthma, allergies, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, angina and other cardiovascular conditions. People that engage in a lot of sports and/or yoga activities are more likely to over-breathe. Below are some research articles showing the link between breathing and symptoms:

#3: Breathe into your low abdomen.
It is important to remember that "taking a deep breath" is about breathing deep into the body; not about taking a big or large breath.

When you breathe into the belly the diaphragm drops, which in turn pumps the liver and gallbladder ensuring that bile doesn't build up and also helps keep the stomach in the correct position. Chest breathing causes a number of problems. First, it uses the neck and shoulder muscles to breathe versus the diaphragm contributing to chronic neck tension. Second, it pulls the stomach and the liver / gallbladder too close to the diaphragm. The result is an increase risk of heartburn, GERD, gallstones and liver congestion.

Check out this link for a guide on how to breathe properly, or better still, plan to join us for our monthly seminar on proper breathing.

#4: Breathing can reduce anxiety and stress.

Incorporating breathing exercises into your regimen is extremely important, especially if you suffer from anger, anxiety, panic attacks, or a feeling of breathlessness. Breathing through the nose with a focus on slowing down the breath is often the most effective way of calming the nervous system. Breathing exercises that intentionally focus on increasing the length of the exhalation can be beneficial in helping a person let go of whatever they are hanging onto. Meditation and other mindfulness exercises focus on increasing the length of the rest period which helps a person become more relaxed and more settled.

To learn more about the mechanism of breathing, check out this link. I personally find that the cleansing breath is a wonderful way to let go of the tension in a day.  It is also helpful in increasing the depth of breath that you can take. There are a number of breathing techniques that are helpful to learn. The Buteyko breathing technique is useful as is mindfulness breathing.

#5: Recognize the lifestyle factors that affect your breathing.

Breathing is influenced by a number of factors, including what you eat and drink and your posture. Being well hydrated and eating fruits and vegetables are required for proper breathing and only impact breathing if you are intolerant to them. Foods that are acidic, such as processed foods, fried food, junk food and diets high in protein and grains, often contribute to over-breathing and an increase in respiration rate. The lungs are responsible for helping to maintain the proper pH in the body. If your diet or lifestyle is acidic, it requires the lungs to work harder to help blow off the excess acid. Caffeinated beverages or drinks high in sugar affect breathing in two ways. First, they are acidic and impact the pH of the blood and second they stimulate the nervous system, resulting in an increase in the rate of breathing and other potential changes, such as an increase in blood pressure, dehydration or feelings of anxiousness or being unsettled. I recommend that you pay attention to how your breathing changes based on what you eat and drink. Check out this link to learn more about the importance of breathing and the factors that affect breath.

Rounded shoulders and a slouched posture affect breathing as they limit the ability of the lungs to expand when you are inhaling. If there is limited space to expand, due to a contracted or rigid posture, it can affect your ability to take a full breath. The body works as a unit.  When the chest is concave and is limited by a person's posture, it reduces a person's ability to breathe easily. Improving breathing often includes addressing postural imbalances at the same time.

    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:

    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 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 breathing that you would like us to address, please contact us at We will be posting all answers on the "Breathing" page on our website.

    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. 

    Monday, January 19, 2015

    Breathe and Improve Your Metabolism

    By: Dr. Anthony Moscar, BSc, ND

    Increasing breath increases metabolism
    I love testing patients for their peak expiratory volume.  Think of it like the strong man game that you see at a fair except for your lungs.  It is done by taking a deep breath and breathing out as fast and hard as you can.  The result of this test tells you the maximum speed that you can breathe out. The better your overall health and lung function the higher your score.  So how does that relate to metabolism and weight loss?

    A study published this past year puts exact numbers behind how we get rid of fat when we break it down for energy. The main place where fat break down occurs is through CO2 as we breathe out.   If you follow the molecules in 10 kilogram of fat as they are broken down for energy, 8.4 Kg are exhaled as CO2 through the lungs and the remaining 1.6 Kg becomes water excreted through bodily fluids.

    Proper breathing is only one aspect to weight loss but you can read about a complete approach in last month's blog on the subject.

    What is getting in the way?

    1. Everybody is unique and may have their own reasons for poor breathing.  Some common examples include working at a desk all day.  Does that sound familiar?  When you are seated with arms stretched in front of you, your shoulders and back roll inward decreasing the capacity of your lungs. You may not be working at a desk, but poor posture in any setting will have similar effects.
    2. Another reason is that in order to breathe properly, people must relax their stomach muscles allowing the diaphragm to expand and with our desire for slim midsections people are reluctant to let that part of the body relax and expand.  If we can get over the feeling of a relaxed stomach our breathing will improve as we accommodate for proper movement. 
    3. Another common issue impacting people's breath is from mechanical issues with sore or tense muscles, painful joints and decreased mobility. An out of place lower rib is the easiest to understand as movement will cause direct pain.  When someone compensates for an injured part of their body they use muscles that shouldn't be used.  This causes strain on supporting muscles and improper lung function.

    By identifying what issue is getting in the way of improving your breathing you will be on your way to improving oxygen exchange and increasing your metabolism.  I have incorporated breath work with many patients who had previously never considered the impact breath can have and it is one of the practices that makes a huge difference over time.

    Improving your breathing will improve overall health
    Using your diaphragm - the muscle that helps you breathe -  has a side effect of massaging the organs that sit below it.  As you move your diaphragm, your liver, pancreas, spleen, kidneys and digestive tract all get massaged with the movement and benefit from increased blood flow.  Any toxic breakdown products in the body are moved out by increased circulation.  When your breathing improves the available oxygen supply is increased to every cell in your body improving their function.  Muscle cells won't cramp as much, and vision improves.  No mater what cell it is, every cell in the body will be able to repair and work better when increased oxygen is made available.

    Start breathing right now!
    If you're looking to make use of a breathing technique right away, my favorite is the stop light breath.  Whenever you're at a stop light or stop sign, use that as a reminder to relax your stomach, drop your shoulders, and take 1 deep breath into your lower lungs. Allow your stomach to expand as your diaphragm pushes down on your abdominal organs and your lower lungs are filled.  As you continue to practice this, you will find over time that your deep breaths become more frequent and you can choose other triggers that remind you to take a deep breath.  This exercise should feel comfortable and if you are experiencing any dizziness, you should decrease the number of deep breaths you are taking.

    If you have any questions or would like to improve your breathing and start loosing weight, read about the Healthy Weight Program, and speak with Dr. Anthony Moscar  to find out what treatments are best indicated for your personal health goals.

    Thursday, January 1, 2015

    Water - Top 5 Things to Remember

    By Iva Lloyd, BScH, BCPP, ND

    Water is the first part of our Guide to Health. 3/4 of the earth's surface and about 65% of the human adult body is composed of water. When we are born we are about 90% water. Water is one of the most fundamental aspects to health and healing.

    The top five things that you want to remember about water are the following:

    #1: Start and end your day with water 

    During the evening the body detoxes and cleans up the waste and toxins that have accumulated throughout the day and over time. To assist the body in eliminating the toxins and waste products, it is beneficial to start your day with water.

    For one month have a large glass of water before breakfast and before any coffee, tea or juice and notice the difference that it makes to how you feel. Ending your day with water assists the body in detoxing and cleaning up during the night. Ending your day with water can also add to a more restful sleep. Ensuring that you have adequate water consumption is one of the most important steps to ensuring that the body can eliminate toxins. Starting and ending your day with water is one of the simplest and most effective steps you can take towards health.

    #2: Consume 1/2 your body weight in ounces

    Water serves a number of functions in the body including moistening tissues, protecting organs and tissues, increasing overall energy of the body, cellular transmission of nutrients, cellular communication of thoughts and emotions, regulation of body temperature and the elimination of toxins. Every cellular and metabolic function relies on water. One of the most common questions that I am asked as a naturopathic doctor is "how much water do I need to drink?". The accepted rule-of-thumb is that you require 1/2 your body weight in ounces. So, if you weigh 160 pounds you would need to consume 80 ounces or equivalent to 10 glasses of water a day.

    1/2 to 1/3 of your water consumption can come from food, if you are consuming foods high in water such as fresh fruit (dried fruit and fruit that has a high sugar content - bananas, pineapple, mango, etc - can actually be dehydrating), fresh vegetables that grow on a vine or that grow above the ground (i.e., tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, swiss chard, lettuces, celery, etc) and broth-based soups and stews (soups with dairy are less hydrating). The main beverages that are dehydrating include caffeinated drinks (coffee, tea, cola and other soft drinks), juices and other beverages that have added sugar. The main food that is considered dehydrating is sugar and foods high in sugar such as pastries, cookies, candies, chocolate, etc. Diets that are high in grains and protein without adequate fruits and vegetables can also result in dehydration.  The more dehydrating drinks or food that you consume, the more likely you will be dehydrated unless you are compensating by increasing the amount of water that you drink. Check out this link to learn more about the importance of water on overall health.

    #3: Avoid drinking water with your meals

    One of the worst habits that people have is drinking water with their meals. The stomach secretes hydrochloric acid which is responsible for breaking down food. The hydrochloric acid has a pH of 3.5, which is necessary to ensure that the food is properly broken down. When you drink water with your meals two things happen - first, the pH of the stomach acid rises as the pH of water is higher than the stomach acid and second, the water dilutes that stomach acid. Both of these can give rise to hypochlorhydria which is a condition that causes poor digestion, malnutrition and is associated with a number of other conditions.

    One of the signs of of hypochlorhydria is heartburn or reflux.  Many people associate heartburn with high stomach acid when, in effect, both high stomach acid and low stomach acid have similar symptoms especially as one ages. Taking a prescription for heartburn increases the likelihood and degree of hypochlorhydria, Check out this link for more information on hypochlorhydria. If you feel that you need to drink something with your meals, consider tomato juice, or even better still, increase the amount of water-based foods in your meal and you will often find that you don't need to drink water.

    #4: Drink water before and after exercise 

    Dehydration due to extensive exercise is quite common. Any activity that results in sweating not only can contribute to dehydration but to a loss of electrolytes. It is important to ensure that you increase your water consumption and you replace electrolytes before and after exercise. To learn more about staying hydrated when active, read Dr. Cooper's blog on Health Concerns for Active Individuals.

    #5: Avoid drinking water that has been stored in plastic 

    Plastic containers, especially those that have Bisphenol-A (BPAs), will breakdown whenever there is a change in temperature.  Historically, most soft plastics contained BPA - even baby bottles and baby toys were high in BPA. BPAs are one of many environmental chemicals that are known to disrupt health and to contribute to disease. The link between BPA and hormone disruption and breast cancer has been proven and has resulted in many BPA-free choices, especially as it relates to baby bottles and baby products.

    An area that is lagging behind is bottled water. Between when the water is bottled and when you buy it, it probably has withstood many changes in temperature and hence, the BPA in the water bottles is continually being leached into the water that you drink. Besides the terrible environmental impact of millions and millions of plastic bottles, I encourage you to avoid drinking water that has been bottled in plastic that is not BPA free and ensure that whatever you choose to carry your water in does not contain BPA.  Good choices for carrying water include glass or stainless steel containers.

    2015 Monthly 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 - Hygiene and the Ability to Eliminate Toxins
    May - Healthy Eating
    June - Sleep
    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 water that you would like us to address please contact us at We will be posting all answers on the "Water" page on our website.

    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.