Thursday, October 12, 2017

Bloating - Why Is It So Rampant?

by Dr. Iva Lloyd, ND

The rate of bloating is on the rise.  When I was first in practice over 15 years ago, very few people complained about bloating, and those that did were often in their late forties or fifties. Nowadays it is one of the most common symptoms and what is even more concerning, is that it is common even in people in their 20's and 30's.

Bloating is a buildup of gas, fluids or food in the digestive system. In order to end up with bloating you need to have two things, a susceptibility to bloating and exposure to something that triggers it.

What Makes You Susceptible?

Some people seem to be a lot more susceptible to bloating than others. The following factors have contributed to the rise in the frequency of bloating:
  • EMF Radiation:  One ubiquitous factor that is often overlooked is the impact of EMF Radiation on health. The concern is that the onslaught of EMF radiation - wireless networks and cell towers - is disrupting health in a number of ways, including weakening the integrity of the mucous membranes and tight junctions in the digestive tract thus contributing to the significant increase in bloating. 
    • Your naturopathic doctor can give you advice on how to mitigate the impact of EMF radiation on your body, including the use of tissue salts and mineral supplementation.
  • Environmental Factors: There are a number of environmental factors that can contribute to bloating including digestive pathogens (viruses, bacteria, parasites, mold), heavy metals and environmental chemicals.
  • Food additives: There are over 14,000 different food additives.  Some that are known to contribute to bloating in some people include: aspartame, MSG, sulfites and starches such as potato starch and tapico starch.
  • Overuse of Antibiotics: The overuse of antibiotics is a global problem that is recognized by most medical practitioners and by the World Health Organization (WHO). One of the side-effects of antibiotics is that they destroy the good bacteria in the digestive system. The use, and especially the overuse or constant use, of antibiotics can - in and of itself - cause chronic or persistent bloating.  If you have a history of frequent antibiotic use, it is generally advisable to stay on an antibiotic and to work with your naturopathic doctor to determine what other steps are required to strengthen your digestive and immune systems.
  • Chronic Stress: Yes, once again, your symptoms can be contributed to stress. Chronic or intense stress disturbs digestion, increases the release of cortisol and weakens the immune system.  The result is an increase frequency of bloating.

Foods That Trigger Bloating

Food can be a common factor that triggers bloating.  If you suffer from bloating, following the FODMAP diet can often help. I recommend the following:
  • Identify your food intolerances and avoid any foods that are moderate to extreme.
  • Dairy and yeast-based foods often make bloating worse, even if you are not intolerant to those foods. Foods high in yeast include wine, beer, bread and baked goods.
  • Foods high in fructose, such as apples, pears and watermelon, and artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame, sorbitol, mannitol and xylitol.
  • Legumes or beans such as baked beans, chickpeas, kidney beans, lentils and soy beans.
  • Vegetables high in fructans, such as asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, fennel, garlic and onions.
  • Fast foods and processed foods often aggravate bloating.
  • Sodas and bubbly water are best avoided whenever you are bloated. The swallowing of gas makes bloating worse.

Conditions Associated with Bloating

There are a number of digestive conditions and hormonal conditions associated with bloating. If you have chronic bloating, it is important to talk to your naturopathic doctor to determine what the best treatment strategy is for you.

Digestive Conditions:
Hormonal Conditions:
If you have any of the above digestive or hormonal conditions, it is advisable to stay on a good probiotic and follow the recommendation of your Naturopathic Doctor for your specific condition.

When Is Bloating a Concern?

If your bloating symptoms are accompanied by the following symptoms, it is advisable to seek medical care:
  • Significant abdominal pain
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Change in bowel movements not associated with a change in diet
  • Blood in the stool

Next Steps

Like all annoying symptoms, the key to proper treatment is determining the causal factors and your specific susceptibilities. The reason why many deal with bloating for a long-time is that there are a number of causal factors and once your digestive system becomes susceptible, it can take awhile for it to settle down. If you struggle with bloating, I recommend that you see your naturopathic doctor. Below are some general recommendations:

  • Even if food was not your original trigger for the bloating, it is often necessary to change your diet and to avoid any foods that trigger the bloating.
  • Eat more slowly as swallowing air will increase bloating.
  • A good probiotic is often helpful.
  • Your naturopathic doctor will recommend herbs or supplements that will help to strengthen your digestive tract and decrease your susceptibility to bloating.
  • Taking the appropriate steps to reduce stress is always helpful.
Bottom line, if you have chronic bloating that doesn't respond well to diet modification, talk to you naturopathic doctor for advice that is specific to you.

Friday, September 1, 2017

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, March 31, 2017

The Do's and Don'ts of Detoxification

By Dr. Iva Lloyd, ND

Many associate Spring and Fall with a time to detox and cleanse. Although detoxification can be a wonderful healing tool, it is not for everyone and can actually be harmful if done inappropriately or by the wrong person.

The body often struggles in eliminating environmental toxins, especially when the exposure is high or prolonged. Detoxification can be an effective way of decreasing the body's burden of environmental toxins such as heavy metals and chemicals.

The theory behind detoxification is that the body consumes (through food, air, soil, water, personal care products, household and garden products, the environment and the senses) substances, particles and energies that it can't always process and eliminate. These toxic waste products, when not eliminated, build up in the body and can contribute to symptoms and disease. The body has six main routes of elimination of toxins: bowel movements, urine, breath, sweat, menses or ejaculate and voice.

The aim of detoxification is two fold:
  1. Reduce or eliminate a person's exposure or consumption of food, substances or energies that do not contribute to health.
  2. Assist the body in the removal of toxins through one of the routes of elimination.

The following are some detoxification guidelines:
  • First rule of thumb, only those in a state of excess are candidates for detoxification. If you are deficient (chronic illness, recovering from chemotherapy or radiation, young, weak or frail) then detoxification is typically not advised for you. You probably need to build your system up, not detoxify.
  • During any detox (ideally all the time) ensure that you drink adequate water, get sufficient sleep and engage in regular exercise and breathing or meditation to assist in moving toxins out of the body.
  • Spending time outside supports detoxification and healing. It is advised to reduce your exposure to cell phones, television, computers and generally to external "noise" and EMF radiation as part of your detox program.
  • The body part that is most important to detox is the one that is struggling or showing signs of toxicity. For example, if your are constipated it is important to support your bowels; if you have shortness of breath, asthma or environmental allergies you want to support your lung function; if your skin is breaking out or has a number of moles or discolouration you want to focus on detoxifying the skin.
  • If you are dealing with any concerning symptoms or a specific disease or condition it is always recommended to work with a naturopathic doctor or other trained health care professional before engaging in a detoxification program -- especially if doing so using herbs or other supplements.
The different types of detoxification include:
  • Dietary. The most gentle "detox" that is safe for most people involves adopting a clean diet:

    • removing any junk or processed food
    • eliminating food intolerances and sugar
    • reducing alcohol and caffeine 
    • increasing fruits and vegetables
    • choosing healthy sources of protein (legumes, nuts and seeds, lean protein)
    • ensuring adequate water intake.
  • Saunas or Alkaline Baths. Sweating out toxins is an effective and safe way to assist in the
    removal of environmental toxins and chemicals. It also provides relief for the kidneys and can improve the overall tone, texture and health of the skin.  Infra-red saunas are preferred over conventional saunas. If you haven't tried the alkaline bath salts, come into our clinic for a free sample of the salts (during the month of May).
  • Homeopathic Detox. There are a number of homeopathic options designed to stimulate detoxification at a cellular level in a gentle and effective way. Ask your naturopathic doctor for recommendations specific to you.
  • Herbal Detox. Herbs can either provide a gentle detox or can initiate a more intense detoxification process, depending on the herbs chosen, the daily dose and the organ systems involved. It is always best to initiate the detoxification of one or maybe two complementary systems simultaneously. Off-the-counter herbal products that work on detoxifying multiple organ systems at once are seldom advised and can cause more harm than good.  Herbs are truly remarkable in their healing and detoxification ability, yet it is advised to work with a naturopathic doctor versus self-prescribing.
There are many different ways to detox. As a general rule of thumb, the more gentle the detox the more it can be done for an extended period of time; the more intense the detox the shorter the time frame.

The idea goal is to establish a lifestyle where what you ingest on a daily basis you can process and eliminate. To figure what type of detoxification is advised for you, talk to one of the naturopathic doctors in our clinic.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Seasonal Allergies - healing them naturally

by Iva Lloyd, ND

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 Carbon and 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.
  • Link to food and allergies. If you have allergies to environmental toxins it is often best to avoid foods that have similar proteins.  For example, 
    • Ragweed: melons, bananas, cucumbers, zucchini
    • Birch: pears, plums, apples, peaches, kiwi, cherries, celery, carrots, fennel, parsley, almonds, walnuts
    • Grass: peaches, melon, oranges, tomatoes, garlic, onions, celery, peanuts, port, egg whites
    • Mugwort: melons, carrots, celery, bell peppers, sunflower seeds
    • Late: apples, bananas, melons, kiwi, avocado, papayas, potatoes, tomatoes, chestnuts
  • 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.

Dr. Iva Lloyd is a naturopathic doctor at Naturopathic Foundations with a focus on identifying the true causes of symptoms and diseases and on treating the whole person. Please call the clinic at 905-940-2727 to book an appointment with Dr. Lloyd, ND.

Naturopathic Doctors
Medically Trained.  Naturally Focused.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Hypertension Basics

by Iva Lloyd, ND

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, affects about 25% of Canadian adults under fifty and over 50% of those over the age of sixty. It also accounts for about 20% of deaths in Canada. Hypertension is considered a lifestyle disorder as it is strongly affected by diet, exercise, stress, smoking and other factors.

Whether you choose to treat your hypertension with prescription medication or natural therapies it is important to be aware of the impact that caffeine and salt have on your blood pressure.

There is a lot of debate as to the long-term risk and/or benefits of consuming caffeine on cardiovascular health, but what is known for sure is that for many individuals with hypertension there can be a significant short-term (roughly 3 hours) spike in blood pressure after drinking a coffee or having a caffeine drink (cola). The spike in blood pressure generally affects both the systolic and the diastolic aspects of blood pressure.

Consuming too much salt can not only spike blood pressure but it can put additional strain on the heart, arteries, kidneys and the brain. The impact of a high-salt meal on your blood pressure can last for hours or even a day or more.

Measuring The Impact of Caffeine on Blood Pressure

To measure the impact of caffeine on your blood pressure follow these steps:

  1. Either first thing in the morning (ideally) or three hours after a meal (without caffeine) take your blood pressure.
  2. Have your cup of coffee or other caffeine drink (cola).
  3. Thirty (30) minutes later take your blood pressure again.
If your blood pressure increases more than 10 points you may have caffeine-induced hypertension.  If you have been diagnosed with hypertension and if your blood pressure rises with caffeine you may want to reduce your caffeine consumption. The more profound the spike in blood pressure the more cautious you need to be with your total caffeine consumption.

Measuring The Impact of Salt on Blood Pressure

To determine the impact of salt on your blood pressure follow these steps:

  1. Ensure that you have at least two days with minimal salt and no caffeine in your diet.
  2. First thing in the morning take your blood pressure.
  3. Have a meal with added salt.
  4. Thirty (30) minutes later take your blood pressure again.
  5. Continue taking your blood pressure twice a day to determine how long it takes for your blood pressure to return to normal.  
If your blood pressure increases more than 10 points you may have salt-induced hypertension. If you have been diagnosed with hypertension and if your blood pressure rises with salt you may want to reduce your salt consumption.

Because both salt and caffeine are known to spike blood pressure it is helpful if you test them separately.  When determining the impact of caffeine, avoid salt.  When determining the impact of salt, avoid caffeine.  Generally you only have to do the test once. A person's response to salt and caffeine is fairly consistent.  If your blood pressure rises due to consumption of either one, it will generally always rise when you consume them.

The Perfect Storm

Most heart attacks and strokes occur due to a sharp rise in blood pressure over a short period of time due to multiple factors that have a cumulative effect. The more that you are aware of the factors that increase your blood pressure, the more control you will have over your blood pressure.

It is not always advisable or feasible to take your blood pressure multiple times a day, or even frequently during a week, but if you have been diagnosed with hypertension it is important to know your typical blood pressure and what affects you. Unless advised otherwise by your doctor, monitoring your blood pressure means taking your readings once or twice a month under the same conditions - i.e., same time of day.  Whenever you change medication or change a treatment plan for hypertension it is important to monitor more frequently (often daily or at least a couple times a week) to understand the impact of the new treatment on your blood pressure. 

To really understand what affects your hypertension, I recommend that you take a couple of weeks and do the following:
  • Monitor the impact of caffeine and salt on your blood pressure.
  • If you work out, take your blood pressure before and after a normal workout.  A "good" work-out will decrease your blood pressure as you are improving the circulation of blood throughout the body.  If your exercise regimen is too intensive, too focused on weights versus cardio or if you are dehydrated after your workout you may find that your workout is actually increasing your blood pressure. 
  • Stress can have a significant impact on blood pressure. During an acute stressful situation take your blood pressure so that you know the impact that it is having on your readings.
  • Being dehydrated will generally increase your blood pressure. If you have a day that you know was more dehydrating -- lack of drinking water, higher stress, diet that was dehydrating, a busy day, etc - take your blood pressure at the end of the day and monitor the impact.
  • Whenever you feel lightheaded, have a strange headache or feel weak, take your blood pressure and see if there is any correlation.  If you suffer with any of these symptoms frequently, you are best to talk to your naturopathic doctor.
The value of knowing the impact that different lifestyle factors have on your blood pressure is that you can avoid doing multiple things that increase your blood pressure simultaneously.  For example, when under stress you would know whether or not to avoid that extra cup of coffee and the high-salt meal.  You would know whether going to the gym will add to the problem or whether it would be beneficial. 

Knowing the impact that different lifestyle factors have on your blood pressure also allows your naturopathic doctor to tailor a treatment plan specifically for you.  For example, hypertension that is driven more by stress than by dietary factors would benefit from herbs or nutraceuticals focused on stress management.  Treating chronic dehydration (a common cause of hypertension) requires a different treatment approach than if the cause of hypertension if due to a high-salt diet or chronic stress.

Other Resources

To learn more about hypertension check out the following other resources:
Talk to your naturopathic doctor to learn more about how to manage your hypertension and to receive a treatment plan tailored specifically to you.

Naturopathic Doctors
Medically Trained.  Naturally Focused.