Friday, February 1, 2019

Breathe Better with Self Care Techniques

By Dr. Leena Athparia, ND

How often do you tune into your own breathing? Have you noticed that your breathing changes depending on what you are doing and how you are feeling - happy, angry, excited? Are you breathing more through your right or left nostril? Shallow or deep?

Breathing involves more than just providing oxygen to the lungs; it provides qi or prana (life force) to your entire system and is a bridge between the body, mind and consciousness. From the moment you are born, until your last breath, breathing is an automatic activity that goes on continuously whether you are aware of it or not. The more you can bring it into your awareness, the more you can pick up on cues that your body is telling you. For example, if your nose is always stuffy after meals, it could indicate that you have sensitivities to certain foods or that digestion is sluggish. If your breathing is often shallow and rapid, this could be a reflection of tension in your body and mind.

The quality of your breathing determines your quality of life. Here are some self-care techniques that you can incorporate into your daily routine to help you breathe better. These can be adjusted based on your state of health, climate and current concerns.


Self Care Tips for Breathing


Neti Pot

Neti, which means "nasal cleansing", is an Ayurvedic technique that dates back to ancient India and was used by yogis to improve breathing. This is a daily cleansing routine that involves gently irrigating the nose and sinuses with warm saline water to help flush out excess mucous, dust particles and waste from the sinuses. It can reduce congestion, prevent colds, reduce dryness and open up your breathing. Neti practice can be done in the morning, daily or weekly and can be customized with antimicrobial herbs, homeopathics and even probiotics to help restore balance in the sinuses. If the neti pot intimidates you, or if have never tried neti pot, your ND can show you how to do it safely and effectively.

Nebulizer

For individuals who suffer from lung concerns such as chronic cough, sinusitis, COPD, mucous in the chest and asthma, the nebulizer is a tool to help deliver medicine directly to the lungs through inhalation. Glutathione is used in the nebulizer and is considered the best antioxidant to quench free radicals, increase immune function and decrease mucous in the respiratory tract. Glutathione is absorbed best through nebulized form or IV. Homeopathic remedies can be added to the nebulizer to relieve specific symptoms. This is a treatment that is done in clinic initially under supervision by your naturopathic doctor, and can then be done at home. It is painless, easy to administer and can be done even for children to open up the respiratory tract.

Steam Inhalation

One of the most popular DIY treatments for colds and coughs is steam inhalations. To do a steam inhalation, boil water, place into a bowl and sit with a towel over your head and inhale the steam through the nostrils for 5+ minutes. Warm steam helps relax breathing muscles, opens the bronchioles, lubricates the mucous membranes and loosens phlegm. Adding additional essential oils, such as eucalyptus, camphor or pine, can enhance the therapeutic effect. A short cut version can be done in the shower by applying a few drops of diluted essential oil into the tub and inhaling the steam in the shower in the morning. Essential oils can be customized based on your concerns. Oils with antimicrobial properties, such as tea tree, are good for fighting infections, and oils, such as camphor and eucalyptus, help open up breathing. In the clinic there are a variety of specific blends that can be used for infections, sinus issues and other respiratory issues. An add-on to the steam inhalation is the Ayurvedic nasya treatment which involves applying warm oil to the nasal passage and is often preceded or followed by steam inhalation to enhance the effect. Read more about nasya here.

Pranayam 

Exercises to help breathing are not a new concept. In the eastern traditions of yoga, Ayurveda and martial arts, specific techniques were refined over thousands of years to harmonize prana or qi and direct life energy to specific areas. This mastery over the breath is called pranayam. Alternate nostril breathing is one of these techniques which has become popularized and has been studied to reduce anxiety, promote mental clarity and much more. Increased energy, clarity, balanced breathing are some of the benefits. Pranayam can be practised by anyone, including children. If you can incorporate a minimum of 5 minutes in your daily routine to dedicate to bringing awareness to your breathing, the quality of your health will reflect the investment in your health. You can learn pranayam through many yoga or meditations instructors, or learn on your own with videos such as this one: Nadi Shuddhi

By paying more attention to your breathing and incorporating these tips, you can experience better breathing. If you have questions on your breathing, your ND can do an assessment and customize treatments and self-care techniques that you can do at home. Self care is the basis of a healthy lifestyle and the investment in wellness.


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



The Body as a Functional Unit

By Darryl Gomes, Certified Athletic Therapist, Osteopathic Thesis Writer

This is the 4th and final blog relating to the osteopathic tenets I have been writing about for the past few months. Just to remind you of the osteopathic tenets:
  • Structure Governs Function
  • The Rule of the Artery is Absolute
  • Autoregulation
  • The Body as a Functional Unit


What Does Body as a Functional Unit Mean?

Much like a car, the body is composed of many different systems that allow it to work efficiently. The musculoskeletal, circulatory, digestive, neurological, respiratory, lymphatic, endocrine, urinary, reproductive and integumentary (skin) systems all work together in harmony.


Why is it Important for Me to Understand this Tenet?

If any of these systems don't work properly, the body can experience problems such as bloating, swelling, and inflammation as examples. Understand that all problems start acutely and eventually develop into chronic problems when they are not attended to in a timely manner. 

The human body compensates for a problem from the moment it first occurs. The body will try to deal with the problem for as long as it can by doing things such as: 
  • making other areas more mobile/overworked to make up for restricted joints
  • having the heart pump harder to push fluid that stagnates in areas like the lower leg
  • shifting weight onto one limb more than the other to avoid painful movements
The body handles problems like this on a daily basis for a long period of time without you even noticing it. However, once the body loses the ability to compensate for the original problem, individuals usually start to feel pain and notice problems that they never noticed before. 


How Does this Apply to Me?

It's simple: ask yourself what are your compensations. Did you sprain an ankle a year ago, and now notice that you get headaches? Do you type a lot at work and notice how much your neck and upper back hurt? Maybe you have been under a lot of stress for a very long time, and you notice that you get burning (anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours) after eating a meal?

Sometimes the compensations are easy to recognize, but some others aren't. Your body doesn't have to make sense of the compensations: it does what it needs to do in order to work as a functional unit.


How Can Osteopathy Help Me?

Osteopathy involves finding the compensations and removing them so that the body can return to working optimally, as it did before the original problem occurred. 

If you have any questions regarding this tenet, or osteopathy in general, feel free to email me or call for a free consultation.

darryl@naturopathicfoundations.ca

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog.

Stay active!

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.