Wednesday, September 25, 2013

High-dose Vitamin D Supplementation: Is it safe and effective?

By Dr. Iva Lloyd, ND

There has been a lot in the media over the last couple of years encouraging people to take high doses of vitamin D. The potential benefits of supplementation include:
Not that long ago the recommended dosage for vitamin D supplementation was 400 IU / day.  Currently it is not unusual for individuals to be dosing at 10 to 20 times that amount. Lately it has been questioned whether or not the benefits of vitamin supplementation are still achieved at high dosages. The concerns include:
There are some conditions, such as Celiac disease, Crohn's, multiple sclerosis and some cancers where dosing high with vitamin D may be advantageous.  The new research indicates that 800 to 1200 IUs / day is generally effective for most people. Ideally, the best way to ensure adequate vitamin D status is to enjoy 5-15 minutes of sunlight exposure 2 to 3 times a week between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.  For the majority of people living in Canada vitamin D supplementation is advisable between October and March when the amount of sunlight is limited.

If you have any questions about the optimal amount of vitamin D supplementation for yourself, talk to your naturopathic doctor.

Reference:
Gaby, Alan 2011 Controveries in Nutrition. Presented at the Ontario Association of Naturopathic Doctors annual Conference.

Prevention and Management of Colds and Flus

By Dr. Iva Lloyd, ND

The change of season from summer-to-winter is a common time for people to come down with a cold or flu. The following steps will decrease your susceptibility and speed your recovery:

  • Stay warm. Getting a chill will decrease your defenses and increase the likelihood of catching a cold or flu. It is best to dress for the coolest temperature of the day and layer your clothing as the temperature changes. If you do come down with a cold or flu try and bring on a fever to help the body naturally fight off the infection.
  • Eat warm food. As the temperatures drop below 10° C it is better to consume primarily warm food and drinks. Warm food is easier to digest and will aid in the body in staying warm.
  • Increase spices. Onions, garlic, ginger, thyme, oregano, sage and other warming spices typically contain anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties that will help prevent and fight-off infections.
  • Limit or avoid offending foods. Foods such as sugar, caffeine, alcohol and "white" products, as well as fried and processed food have minimal nutrients and typically suppress the immune system. Viruses and bacteria will feed on sugar, so if you are sick you are best to maintain a clean diet.
  • Avoid dairy. If you are prone to sinus infections or if you have an infection that is accompanied with a lot of mucous avoid dairy, bananas and yeast as they are all mucous forming.
  • Drink adequate water. Your body requires water for all bodily functions and to assist with the elimination of toxins. In the fall and winter it is best to choose warm or room temperature water versus cold.
  • Ensure adequate sleep. Avoid getting run down and exhausted. An exhausted system is more susceptible to colds and flu. Also, keep in mind that the body heals primarily when you sleep.  If you want to fight off an infection plan to get more sleep.
  • Reduce your stress.  Often easier said than done, but chronic stress is one of the main factors for susceptibility to infection. Find outlets for stress such as exercise, meditation, journaling, reading or listening to music.
  • Exercise weekly.  Regular, moderate exercise decreases stress and boost the immune system. If you are dealing with an infection avoid heavy or exhaustive exercise.  If you are exercising outside, stay warm. You are better to sweat because you are dressed warm than you are to have too much skin exposed and get cold. If you are playing / exercising outside and you do sweat, change into dry warm clothes as soon as you finish.
At the first sign of an infection:
Naturopathic First Aid Kit for Colds and Flu
The following supplements are typically beneficial to have handy over the holiday season:
If you do catch a cold or flu, visit our walk-in-clinic and talk to one of our naturopathic doctors.


Friday, September 13, 2013

Key to a Strong Mind

A strong healthy mind is something that everyone seems to desire. For many it is taken for granted until there are signs of decline. Memory loss and cognitive decline is not inevitable. It is not a natural part of aging. Achieving and maintaining a strong mind requires work and constant attention.

Mental health and cognitive function is strongly determined by the strength of the blood-brain barrier (BBB). The BBB is a tight barrier that surrounds the brain and ensures that only the nutrients, water and other elements that are meant to get into the brain, do. When the BBB becomes damaged or weakened, signs of mental decline, decreased sensory and cognitive function start to appear. The factors that impact the integrity of the blood brain barrier include:
Other factors that are associated with decreased integrity of the BBB include:
The key to a strong mind is to:

Address the factors that impact the integrity of the BBB, such as:
  • Ensure that you continue to drink adequate water on a daily basis. Generally speaking you want to drink half your body weight in ounces a day.
  • Your diet is one of the key contributing factors to your ongoing cognitive function. It is also the one that you have the most direct control of. Ensuring that food sensitivities are addressed is a great place to start. It is also important to ensure that your diet is balanced with adequate lean protein, vegetables and healthy fats.
  • Ensure that you take the steps necessary to ensure that your blood sugar and cholesterol concerns are addressed with natural solutions. Simply taking medications, without addressing the underlying causes may actually increase your risk of cognitive decline.
  • Ensure head injuries are adequately addressed. The main threat to the BBB is unresolved head trauma and chronic inflammation. There are a number of natural therapies that can effectively decrease chronic inflammation and that can minimize the impact of sport injuries.
  • Work with your naturopathic doctor to determine if heavy metals are a factor. Heavy metals disrupt the normal functioning of the brain, they decrease the body's ability to absorb nutrients and they cause a more dramatic decline than other lifestyle factors.

Other factors that are essential to a strong mind include:
  1. Use it or lose it. The mind, in many ways, is like a muscle. If you want a strong mind you have to work every aspect of it.  To the mind, memory, speed, problem solving, attention, flexibility (multi-tasking) are all different aspects. Numbers, words and names are all processed in different aspects of the mind. Working the mind on an ongoing basis is key to health. Some options include:
    • Ensure that you continue to read, preferably not on a computer or e-book (too much computer time can actually contribute to weakening the BBB.
    • Work whatever aspect of the mind is a concern.  If you have problems finding words then do word searches and cross word puzzles. If you have problems remembering names then practice by going through old pictures and saying the names of people out loud when you meet them.
    • Check out www.lumosity.com  It is a website geared to working all aspects of the mind.
  2. Decrease anxiety. Chronic anxiety is exhausting. It is also dehydrating. There is a strong link between chronic anxiety and decreased overall cognitive function.
  3. Be positive. A positive mind is associated with increased cognitive function and decreased memory loss. 
  4. Take care of your senses. There is a strong link between hearing, seeing and cognitive function, as well as mental health.
Most importantly, don't wait until you have a problem. Like most health issue, your best chance of being healthy is to prevent disease. It is about being proactive and recognizing that most health issues, especially as you get older are simply an accumulation of your life. It is like a life-long balance sheet that weighs the impact of the positive and negative factors.

If you would like to learn more about what you can specifically do to achieve a strong mind book an appointment with Dr. Iva Lloyd, ND.  To learn more about how the breakdown of filters in the body contributes to disease check out the presentation that Dr. Lloyd, ND gave at Health Fusion in June 2013.