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.






Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Trying To Have a Baby, But Don't Know When To Try

By Dr. Beata Skorka, ND

Have you ever wondered when the right time to have intercourse is in order to get pregnant? Knowing when you need to be sexually active with your partner shouldn't be a barrier in trying to start or grow a family. This article will bring you back to the basics of ovulation and teach you tools you can utilize to help you know when you are about to ovulate, are ovulating and have just ovulated.

In an ideal world, there would be no such thing as premenstrual symptoms (PMS), heavy painful periods, bleeding between cycles, long cycles, short cycles, and the list can go on forever. These types of symptoms may be common, but they are not normal, and could be an indication of hormonal imbalances in your health. We know that the average cycle length is 28 days and that ovulation occurs on day 14. Although this may be true for some women, this is not the case in all women. If you happen to be one of those women who doesn't ovulate on day 14, you could be having sex at the wrong time. 

Ovulation is the release of a mature egg from a woman's ovary. Depending on a woman's health and age, this will happen once a month. Once an egg is released from the ovary, it has up to 24 hours to be fertilized by the male sperm. Dependent on the health of the male sperm, it can remain viable and fertilize the mature female egg within a maximum of 5 days after intercourse.

Hormones within the female body change daily, and even fluctuate throughout the day. Due to these constant, but organized changes, women are able to use various tools to inform them about when they ovulate. 

Below I will discuss three methods that will tell you when you're about to ovulate, are ovulating and have just ovulated. These tools will help you time intercourse for conception.

1.  Luteinizing Hormone (LH) Strips:

In women, luteinizing hormone is a sex hormone that controls the production of estrogen from the ovaries.  It is important in fertility because prior to a mature egg being released from a woman's ovary, LH will surge (increase).  Once your LH surges, an egg is released within the following 24-36 hours, at which point you have up to 24 hours for the sperm to fertilize the egg. 

Testing Your LH: Just like you would use urine to check if you were pregnant, you can use urine to check if your LH is surging (positive strip).  Depending on your cycle length, you will start checking your LH daily anywhere from day 9 and onwards of your cycle. Day 1 is the first day you bleed. 
  • Your LH strips should come with a chart indicating which day to begin checking your LH based on your cycle length. Typically your results from day to day should look like this:
  • Negative - Positive - Negative - Stop checking
  • A positive strip indicates an LH surge.  Intercourse should start now, and continue for the next two days. Once you've done this for a few cycles, and you know on which day you have your LH surge, you can begin having intercourse 1-2 days prior to your surge day. 

2.  Cervical Mucous:

Based on where you are in your cycle, the amount and quality of your cervical mucous will differ. This is due to the ever changing hormones in your body. Cervical mucous is present to either prevent things from entering the cervix (days where there is less mucous and it's thicker) or help transport sperm through the cervix in the the uterus to fertilize (days where mucous is like the whites of a raw egg). Knowing what to look for can help you  know when you are ovulating. When a woman is ovulating, the mucous will resemble raw egg whites and she will typically have more discharge. Assessing your cervical mucous will require you to touch your mucous between two of your fingers to see how sticky or dry it is. 

How you can mark your daily discharge.
P = during period
D = dry
S = sticky
E = egg white - ovulation

3. Basal Body Temperature (BBT):

A tool to let you know that you have ovulated. Needs to be done for a few cycles so you know which day you ovulate and can have intercourse prior to.
  
First things first, to measure your BBT, you will need a thermometer that has a tenth decimal reading (two numbers after the decimal). You can check your local pharmacy or simply order online. Your BBT needs to be the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning, even before getting out of bed. Be patient, this reading can take a bit longer then a normal thermometer for fevers. Once you have your reading, record it on a paper BBT chart (easily found online to print) or via various available phone apps. You want to search for 'ovulation' or 'BBT' when looking for an app. Phone apps will also typically have areas you can record your daily vaginal mucous.

Tips:

  • Take your temperature at the same time every morning
  • First thing you do when you wake: before getting out of bed, eating, drinking, going to the bathroom. You open your eyes, you take your temperature.
  • Be consistent in your routine
What to look for: a sudden increase in basal body temperature on your chart. This sudden increase indicates that you have ovulated. 

Your readings can be affected by the following:
  • Alcohol
  • Drugs
  • Medication
  • Stress
  • Jet lag
  • Illness/infection/fever
  • Sleep disturbances
Knowing when you are ovulating is an important part of trying to conceive. For more information on pre-natal, natal or post-natal care, contact Dr. Skorka at Naturopathic Foundations Health Clinic. 

Dr. Beata Skorka, ND has a special interest in fertility.  To book an appointment with her, please contact the clinic at 905-940-2727 or email b.skorka@naturopathicfoundations.ca


Saturday, November 10, 2018

Is Change Causing Your Anxiety?

by Dr. Leena Athparia, ND

Fall is a season of transition - from warm summer months of outdoor activity to the cold winter season of indoor activities. Change not only happens with the seasons, but is a continuous process with life situations, relationships and work. Take a moment and reflect on what is stable currently in your life right now...and what is changing. How does change feel? Do you cope well with change or does it make you feel unsteady? Do you feel afraid? Are you holding on or letting go?

For some people, change results in anxiety.  Often, feelings of worry and anxiety are reactions to thoughts of the future or fear of the unknown. You may experience instability, fear and a general sense of "holding on" as you step out of your comfort zone and face the unknown. Anxiety is a natural response to danger - or perceived threat. Your system is trying to protect you with the fight or flight response even though there may not be any actual danger.

It may be a change of season, change in career, change of life stage (ie. puberty, menopause) - whatever change you are going through can lead to anxiety characterized by signs such as running thoughts, chronic worry, elevated heart rate, shallow breathing, sweating, short temper and many other signs. While temporary anxiety is a normal reaction, when it impacts daily activities or continues for extended periods of time, it can be disruptive and reduce quality of life. Chronic anxiety can even lead to other conditions such as depression, irritable bowel syndrome, substance abuse and other conditions.

What are the symptoms of anxiety?

Anxiety can affect anyone at anytime and can be acute or chronic. The most common symptoms relate to:
  • heart palpitations
  • pain in the chest or tightness
  • sighing or hyperventilation
  • muscle tension - causing spasms, headaches or pain
  • excessive sweating
  • dizziness
  • difficulty concentrating
  • sleep disturbances


What causes anxiety?

Anxiety is often a complex issue with more than one factor. Sometimes you may be able to identify the cause, especially when it is related to a specific event, but for many with chronic anxiety, routine daily activities can provoke constant worry. Lifestyle factors and nutrition are a commons causes of nervous system imbalances. In addition, if you are on new medications, speak with your doctor since some pharmaceuticals such as stimulants, thyroid medication and analgesics can have side effects leading to anxiety. Many times, zooming the lens to re-examine your fears can help bring them to the surface so you can start working at the tip of the iceberg.

Ways to treat anxiety:

Naturopathic doctors treat the person, not just the condition, to restore balance. Your age, your health issues, prescriptions medications and symptoms are taken into account when creating a tailored health plan. Below are a few ways to help ease anxiety:

1. Address Lifestyle Factors
First identify any stimulants that may be in your diet or environment and eliminate them. Caffeine in the form of coffee or chocolate stimulates the nervous system and if you are prone to anxiety, cutting caffeine out is a first step. Drugs, alcohol, and even sugar can also contribute to anxiety. Other stimulants in your environment such as loud noise, cell phones, TVs put your body in fight-or-flight more. Reducing stimulants, in addition to adequate sleep, exercise, yoga, meditation and 'down time' support nervous system balance and allows your body to relax. It is also helpful to identify factors in your life which have changed, such as jobs: relationships, homes, routine, outlook on life etc. Write these down in chronological order for the past month or year(s). This can help narrow down some factors contributing to feeling unsettled. When you identify factors, you may notice the anxiety softening by simply bringing it to your attention.

2. Get Grounded through Bodywork
According to Ayurveda, anxiety is predominantly an imbalance of vata dosha, characterized by increased air & space elements and not enough earth element. During times of change, you may feel unsteady or like the ground below you is shifting as you try to hold your footing through life situations. Treating anxiety starts by supporting you to feel more grounded. There are many ways to do this. Grounding foods such as root vegetables, warm liquids, healthy fats and protein nourish and stabilize the body. Sitting, squatting or keeping your feet on the ground help you connect with the earth. Bodywork such as massage, cupping or acupuncture is very effective for treating anxiety by connecting you with your body. Ayurvedic oil massage or abhyanga is an excellent therapy for anxiety since it helps ground you and promotes deep relaxation.

3. Support Nutritional Factors
Common causes of anxiety on a physiological level are through nutrient deficiencies and food intolerances.  Food sensitivities and allergies can also stimulate adrenaline and make you feel anxious. Speak to your naturopathic doctor if testing for food sensitivities is beneficial for you. Many vitamins, minerals and amino acids are lacking in our food and lead to deficiencies. When the nervous system is lacking nutrients, it cannot perform its functions properly. Speak to your ND if supplements such as B vitamins, magnesium, glycine, inositol would suit your symptoms and constitution. There are numerous herbs that promote relaxation such as skullcap, lavender and lemon balm. How much to take, when and how can be tailored to your specific concerns.  

4. Seek Counselling
Managing anxiety on your own can make you feel like you are going in circles. Speaking about it with someone can help give you a different perspective and allow 'rambling thoughts' to find verbal expression. Sometimes speaking with friends and family can be supportive, but can also be a source of worry and fear of judgement. Consider working with a counsellor or psychotherapist to help identify triggers, especially if there is history of trauma or if you are having difficulty going through a life transition. Addressing the mental-emotional causes of anxiety along with supporting the nervous system with nutrients and bodywork can support you in a wholistic way if you are struggling with anxiety.


While temporary anxiety is a normal response and can be managed with self-care techniques, if anxiety is a chronic concern for you or if you find that it is affecting your daily activities, speak with your naturopathic doctor. There are many ways to assess causes of anxiety and develop a treatment plan that is customized using nutrition, supplements, botanical medicine, counselling, acupuncture, homeopathy and other therapies to bring balance to your system. As we wrap up this year, it is a good time to identify your challenges and stressors, and work through old patterns to make room for new growth. Take some time this fall to reflect on ways to stabilize yourself and open up to positive change. For many people, this can be challenging to do fully on your own, so work with your practitioner who can support you through times of change.


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.


Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Winter Is Coming! Feed Your Fire

By Dr. Denis Marier, ND, MA

With the beautiful season of Autumn upon us, our minds, bodies, and spirits are making the adjustment to lower light levels and a change in temperatures. Many prepare for the winter season of drawing inwards and settling into periods of less activity. Some even come close to hibernating.

The phrase, "Winter is coming!" brings dread for some, as well as excitement for others. The cues from nature that we receive are brilliant at helping us to adjust, and it is important to pay attention to them. Food has a lot to do with these cues in order to function optimally and keep us healthy. In this day and age of easily accessible food from all over the world, year round, we can forget how important it is to eat seasonally, locally, and mindfully for our health. Here are some gentle guidelines:

Eating Seasonally

Our bodies have adapted brilliantly to the cues from nature for getting all that we can from the nutrients in our food.
  • For instance, spring and summer fruits and vegetables are high in sodium and low in potassium. When we eat an abundance of these foods, the sodium-to-potassium ratio sends a signal to our bodies that we must be in Spring/Summer where sunlight levels are highest, therefore, there is plentiful access to vitamin D so the body doesn't have to store as much.
  • Conversely, root vegetables are higher in potassium and lower in sodium, and that higher potassium-to-sodium ratio in our diets tells our bodies that we are in Autumn/Winter when sunlight levels are lowest, and therefore it needs to store vitamin D.


Eating Locally


  • The best way to explain this concept is to compare apples and bananas, which contain similar amounts of vitamin C (otherwise I would have used the aphorism "comparing apples and oranges," but oranges have about ten times the amount of vitamin C found in apples or bananas). Now let's consider the two individuals - one from Canada, and one from the Tropics. Even though the available vitamin C content is similar in both fruits, the person from Canada will biologically absorb more vitamin C from the apple, whereas the person from the Tropics will more easily absorb the vitamin C from the banana. Bodies naturally adapt to get the most nutritional value from local foods. 
  • Eating locally is also good for the environment as the production and shipping costs of bringing in food from far away is drastically reduced. Local food is fresher, and nutritionally better as most tropical food is picked green and left to ripen in containers transported thousands of miles to their destination.
  •  Sure, it's nice to have a banana once in a while or some strawberries from California in the winter months, but consider these as treats. In York Region, we are surrounded by great agricultural richness, and Farmer's Markets are plentiful. Autumn is harvest time, and traditionally the time to make "preserves" for the long, cold, dark winter months when the smell of fresh apple pie baking on a blustery day fills the Soul as well as the stomach.


Eating Consciously


  • There is a difference between good food, and food that is good for you. Making better choices at the grocery store and in meal preparation goes a long way in improving your health and vitality. Working with a naturopathic doctor to investigate food intolerances and ways of eating is an excellent way of optimizing your nutrition. 
  • Fad diets come and go but learning to choose the foods that work best with you and your constitution and ways to eat them are the cornerstone of optimal wellness. "You are what you eat," is more than just a catchy slogan. It is the truth. 
  • Having nearly twenty years of experience as a naturopathic doctor has made this point clear to me time and again. I've even seen it said, that every bite of food you put into your mouth is either medicine or poison. I like to take a more moderate approach in helping to empower my patients to consistently make better choices, armed with a whole lot of information.
  • Another important consideration in eating consciously is eating mindfully. Because when we take the time to truly enjoy our food, savouring each bite and flavour, the truth is we become satiated faster and tend not to overeat. Chewing our food starts the whole digestion process in the mouth, making food easier to digest and nutrients more easily absorbed. But the truth is, digestion really begins with our eyes and noses - the sight and smells of yummy food starts the whole digestion process by getting our digestive system ramped up and excited for the nutrition we're about to ingest!
  • Being thankful for the food we eat, taking a moment to acknowledge the numerous lives and labours that have combined to bring this food to our table so that we may be nourished is important, even if we only acknowledge it privately before tucking into a great meal. Although, I've yet to see a cook/chef balk at being thanked for preparing a meal.
   Naturopathic doctors are experts at nutrition, digestion, and optimal wellness. If you are looking for easy, tasty ways to improve your energy, vitality, and overall wellness, talk with me.

To book an appointment with Dr. Denis Marier, ND, MA to talk about how you can be making more personalized and better nutritional choices and ways of eating, call the clinic at 905.940.272 or email me at d.marier@naturopathicfoundations.ca.



Monday, September 10, 2018

Benefits of Ayurvedic Massage for the Fall


While each season manifests differently in each part of the world, Ayurveda considers fall as a season where the Vata dosha is dominant. The ancient medical system of Ayurveda explains how the qualities of nature and the environment manifest in the human system. For example, when it’s cold outside, you naturally feel more cold. These qualities are categorized as Vata, Pitta & Kapha bio-energies or doshas. The qualities of Vata dosha are cold, dry, rough, mobile, subtle, and light. When we shift from summer, which is hot and sticky, to fall which is usually cool, windy and dry, this can increase Vata in your body and contribute to you feeling unbalanced. Symptoms of Vata imbalance, such as excess bloating, gas, anxiety, dryness and uneasiness, can become exacerbated in the fall if we aren’t careful.
When the temperature, humidity and length of days start changing as a new season begins, you may respond to these changes in nature by desiring different foods and daily routine. As the weather cools in fall, you may notice you feel like warmer foods and different tastes – if you are in tune with what your body is telling you. When you tune into nature's intelligence and your own body's needs, then you will naturally crave the foods and daily routine that will support you as the seasons change. 
To read more about diet & lifestyle support for fall season: http://blog.naturopathicfoundations.ca/2015/10/balancing-vata-in-fall.html
One of the best ways to support balance during fall is Ayurvedic massage or “AbhyangaThis therapeutic massage is a traditional form of massage which supports the nervous system, promotes relaxation while detoxifying the body during this transitional season. Warm, medicinal oils are customized to your body type and health condition and are applied to the full body. As we move into fall, these massages are incredibly soothing and will better prepare you for the winter season.
Abhyanga massage will help with overall blood circulation and stimulation of the internal organs, will calm the mind disturbed by the winds and the changes in temperature, will facilitate the elimination of impurities from the body. Read more about how abhyanga massage can benefit you:

Benefits of Full Body Abhyanga

• Relieves and prevents sinus and chest congestion due to cooling weather
• Improves sleep, strengthens and improves vision
• Strengthens your Ojas (immunity)
• Tones our tissues, bringing vigor and vitality to the body
• Improves circulation to extremities and internal organs
• Calms Vata (air and space) and Pitta (fire and water) while helping Kapha (water and earth) flow


What to expect?

An Abhyanga treatment lasts 3060 or 90 minutes, can be done daily, weekly or monthly depending on your health concerns.  It is most beneficial when a few are done close together. It is best to wear comfortable clothes and come on a light stomach (avoid eating a heavy meal right before treatment). Hydration before and after treatment is essential to support detoxification. Your practitioner may advise herbal teas or certain foods customized to your body type. Treatments are done in quiet to optimize your healing.

How is Ayurvedic massage different from conventional massage?

Abhyanga massage uses warm oils which are infused with herbs and essential oils that work medicinally when absorbed through the skin so it is considered a therapeutic massage, with relaxation benefits. The head, face and sinus treatments are unique to abhyanga and very helpful in revealing headaches, sleep problems as well as sinus conditions. 

Pressure is generally on the lighter side since abhyanga massage targets the lymphatic system and circulation of blood and prana or chi. If you have specific muscle tension, your therapist may use more pressure to target muscles and ligaments. Abhyanga also incorporates “marma points” or acupressure points which supports healing on a physical, mental, emotional and spiritual level. This treatment also emphasizes massage around the joints so is excellent for joint stiffness, arthritis or other issues. It is safe and therapeutic to do both types of massage and many people find benefits with a schedule of abhyanga and conventional massage. Please speak to your therapist to learn about what is best for you.

If you haven’t tried Ayurvedic massage, fall is the perfect time to reset your system and treat yourself. If you would like to know more about Ayurvedic massage, please contact Catalina at catalina@naturopathicfoundations.ca  

To book an appointment, please call the clinic at 905-940-2727.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Are You Concerned About Your Memory?

By Dr. Iva Lloyd, ND

Do you ever think that your memory is not as strong as it used to be?  You're probably right. Memory loss is becoming one of the greatest concerns in the 21st century. No longer is memory loss something associated just with those that are older, it is becoming a growing concern for those middle-aged and even younger.

According to the 2019 World Alzheimer's Report, memory loss - and Alzheimer's Disease specifically - is the most significant social and health concern of the twenty-first century.  With all the money spent on research, the one factor that everyone agrees on is that you want to focus on prevention and supporting overall brain health as much as you can, because there are really no prescription medications that work once memory loss becomes a problem.

How is Memory Loss Diagnosed?

True memory loss is difficult to diagnose. Most people have moments of forgetfulness. The challenge is knowing when those moments become too frequent or signify a deeper problem. Tools that are used to diagnose memory loss include:

  • Observation. Paying attention to those moments of forgetfulness and determining whether or not they are concerning is generally the first step. Family and friends can be helpful in identifying a problem. 
  • Questionnaires are often used by health professionals as a way of determining whether or not concerns of memory loss indicates an underlying pathology.
  • Lab tests can help to identify metabolic conditions that contribute to memory loss such as chronic inflammation, high blood sugar or signs of chronic stress.  Common lab tests that are helpful to ask for include Vitamin B12Vitamin D, Ferritin, HbA1C, Homocysteine and CBC. Testing for heavy metals, fatty acids levels, hormone levels and for the levels of mold in the body can also provide key information.
  • Electroencephalography is generally reserved when an underlying problem is suspected.
  • Brain scans are not very accurate at determining memory loss or dementia, but can identify if an underlying brain pathology is contributing to signs of memory loss.
It is important to remember that forgetting is, in some ways, healthy. Also, memories are a strange thing. They can be implanted, rehearsed, refurbished and modified over time. Not all memories are real and sometimes forgetting is the natural way that the body "prunes" memories that are not required or not accessed frequently.

It is also natural for accessing memories, words or events to take longer as you age. The struggle sometimes is determining whether or not signs of memory loss are natural or indicate a deeper problem.


Factors That Contribute to Memory Loss

Memory loss is not inevitable. There are a number factors that contribute to memory loss and many of them are things that you can easily address with lifestyle and dietary changes. Environmental factors require more effort both from an assessment perspective and treatment approach. Some of the common factors include:
  • Over-medication and drug interactions
  • Environmental toxins including heavy metals, environmental chemicals, proximity to cell-phone towers and the growing impact of wireless networks.
  • Chronic dehydration
  • Vitamin and nutritional deficiencies
  • Diet high in sugar or simple carbohydrates
  • Alcholism or excessive drinking
  • History of frequent falls, head injuries or difficulty with balance
  • History of recreational drug use
  • History of chronic insomnia or poor sleeping patterns
  • Excessive depression, stress or anxiety
  • Multi-tasking and being active but not attentive
  • Underlying infections
  • Chronic conditions such as thyroid imbalances, diabetes or heart disease
  • Chronic inflammation
  • Family history of cognitive impairment, stroke, Parkinson's disease or dementia - especially if the onset was before the age of 60.

Your naturopathic doctor can assist in determining the best treatment options to address each factor that is relevant for you.

How Do You Prevent Memory Loss


For many people, memory loss can be prevented or at least delayed and slowed down.  The key is to address the factors that are relevant to you and to follow these simple steps:

  • Stay active. Ongoing movement ensures adequate blood flow to the brain. It also helps to flush out toxins. Staying active is essential, not only for memory loss but every other health condition.
  • Get adequate deep sleep. Sleep is essential to health. If you are struggling with your sleep, talk to your naturopathic doctor.
  • Challenge your brain. Use-it-or-lose-it really does apply to cognitive health. Use your brain in as many ways as possible - solve puzzles, take a class, play board games, play cards, read, be creative and learn something new. There are a number of on-line programs that can also help. My favorite is www.lumosity.com 
  • Stay engaged. Socialization is really important. Dementia is strongly associated with isolation and loneliness. The mind needs to engage with others. If you don't share those memories and stories you will lose them a lot faster.  
  • Healthy nutrition. Nutritional deficiencies will always make memory loss worse. Your naturopathic doctor can assist in determining if you are eating adequate nutrients and if you are able to properly digest and metabolize them.
  • Address underlying problems. Working with your naturopathic doctor to assist in the detoxing those environmental toxins and/or properly healing from head trauma, concussions and other factors that may be affect your memory over time.
Other treatment recommendations that your naturopathic doctor may recommend include:
  • Antioxidants - there are specific antioxidants that cross the blood-brain-barrier and can assist in "cleaning up" the brain. Some common ones include: l-Carotine, melatonin, glutathione.
  • Anti-inflammatories - if chronic inflammation is a problem, then it is important to include supplements that will decrease inflammation.  Turmeric, or Curcuma longa has been found to be effective in the prevention of dementia. 
  • Omega- fatty acids - the brain is primarily fat. Ensuring adequate healthy fats, such as Omega-3 Fatty Acids is essential.
  • Herbal remedies - there are a number of herbal remedies and gemmo-therapies that can assist with cognitive function including: Ginkgo (Gingko biloba)Turmeric (Curcuma longa) and Ginseng (Panax ginseng) and Gemmotherapies such as Alnus glutinosa
  • Other therapies - acupuncture, homeopathy and other naturopathic therapies may also be beneficial.

Bottom Line

The bottom line is to take a look at your life and determine whether or not you are at risk of memory loss. Prevention is the key.  Once memory loss is really apparent it is difficult to reverse. For those that are young, I strongly encourage you to have our environmental burden assessed and addressed. If you have a history of contact sports it is important to be on an anti-inflammatory and to address any postural alignment concerns. If you know that your lifestyle is not great then start there. There is a lot that can be done - but, you want to start before symptoms become too severe.

For more information on preventing and treating memory loss talk to your naturopathic doctor.  Dr. Iva Lloyd, ND has a special interest in cognitive health.  If you have any questions, please contact her or call the clinic to book an appointment.


Sunday, August 5, 2018

Obstacles to Healing - Ayurvedic Do's & Don'ts

by Dr. Leena Athparia, ND

Health is a natural state of balance of harmony - anything that gets in the way of this is an obstacle to healing. You may be doing many things "right" to be healthy, but have you looked at what might be "in the way"? For example, maybe you prepared a delicious, well-balanced meal and suddenly, you get a call from a friend that is upset with you...and you have a tummy ache the rest of the day.

Obstacles to healing can be for example, emotions such as anger or jealousy or lifestyle habits such as eating inappropriate food for the time of day or season. Ayurveda has long recognized the importance of daily routines (dinacharya) and seasonal routines (ritucharya) to prevent disease. While some of these routines may have been considered as superstitious or old fashioned, there are many which have a scientific basis. You might be doing all the right things - eating organic, eating healthy, exercising, taking your supplements but, if certain lifestyle habits are out of alignment, it could be slowing you down. Let's look at a few of the lifestyle habits below and what to avoid:

Ayurvedic Don'ts


1. Ice Cold Smoothies

Smoothies seem like a convenient way to pack in fruits, veggies and proteins in one meal, but when they are loaded with ice or frozen berries it will put out your digestive fire. Digestion requires heat, provided by your metabolic activity and blood circulation to the stomach. Ayurveda considers the digestive fire (jatharagni) to be a driving force in breaking down food in your stomach so when you eat anything cold, digestion quickly slows down. If you are a vata or kapha type, it's like you already struggle from gas or bloating and cold will worsen it. In the morning, your digestive fire is just beginning to wake up. When you eat anything cold, it will take around an hour for it to return to normal temperature depending on your body type. It is best to have smoothies that are room temperature (thaw out berries the previous night or keep the ingredients out of the fridge before blending). Other suggestions include avoiding cold fruits in the morning for breakfast, ice water with meals, or ice cream after meals.

2. Eating While Distracted 

You digest best when you are relaxed. When you eating on the go, while walking, driving, or watching tv, your body is in sympathetic mode where the nervous system is activated. When you're distracted, you're less likely to pay attention to your chewing, notice signals from the body that you are full and enjoy the experience of the meal. Ayurveda suggests eating meals when relaxed, sitting down with minimal conversation to digest at your best. How often do you do this? The more you try this, the more likely you will feel satisfied from your meal.

3. Suppression of Natural Urges

How often to you stifle a sneeze, hold your bladder until it's bursting, hold back a yawn in public? Due to hectic schedules or social situations, you may find yourself holding back natural urges until a convenient time or until the urge is gone.  Natural urges like going to the bathroom, sneezing, yawning, crying, coughing, feeling hungry, thirsty or tired are natural signs from your body. Ayurveda has actually identified how suppressing specific urges can lead to imbalance and specific illnesses over time by disturbing the flow of doshas in the body and allowing toxins to accumulate (read more). In some cultures, belching after meals is considered a sign that you have eaten well and in other cultures, passing gas goes unnoticed in public. While it may seem unpleasant or socially inappropriate, it is important that you pay attention to what your body is telling you and allow a natural release when possible. Next time you feel like sneezing, try allowing it to happen and see how you feel.

4. Improper Food Timing

You might be eating the "right" food for your body type or health concern, but are your timings off? Your body is tuned to the natural cycles of the day. As the sun rises and reaches peak, so does your digestive strength. As the sun sets and night rolls in, metabolic activity slows down. Tuning your mealtimes according to your digestive strength allows the body to work at its best. When you eat when you are not hungry, or eat large meals at times when digestion is weak, or ignore hunger when you are busy, you are working against the natural forces of nature.

The recommendation is to eat a wholesome breakfast before you start your day, followed by a well balanced lunch between 11-1pm (largest meal at the peak of the day when digestion is at peak) a light afternoon snack, and an early dinner before sunset. For many people, breakfast and lunch are light and quick and they are starving by the evening and either end up eating a very heavy dinner, or snacking before dinner. If you consistently skip breakfast because you don't have time or are not hungry, this creates havoc with your stress hormones. Heavy and late dinners are difficult to digest and lead to bloating, sluggishness and weight gain. By simply adjusting the timings of your meal to optimize your digestion, you will notice that you feel lighter and healthier. Speak with your ayurvedic practitioner who can help guide you on an eating regime customized to you while supporting your digestion

5. Overstimulation of the Sense Organs

Your 5 sense organs are constantly receiving information from your surroundings through vision, hearing, taste, smell and touch. While the senses are crucial for survival, your body's resources are constantly processing this information. When the senses are overstimulated, you may experience sensory overload, and divert energy needed for healing the body. How do you do this? It means reduce screen time, computer games, tv, bright lights and anything which stimulates vision and consequently the the nervous system.

We live in an era where we constantly need to respond to sounds - such as cell phone beeps and calls which easily puts you into sympathetic mode where the body is unable to relax. Impressions through our senses are processed by the brain and leave an impression on the mind. When there is imbalance, this can lead to anxiety, ADHD, hyperactivity and general disturbance. In yoga and Ayurveda, there are several techniques to help you gain control over the 5 senses and currently, "float tanks" (which minimize noise, light and other stimuli) are becoming very popular due to their relaxation benefits.


When you can identify and remove obstacles in your diet and lifestyle, you are allowing the vital healing force of nature doing it's work. Living in disharmony with the environment, the people around us and within ourselves, is the first step of dis-ease. Work with your naturopathic doctor or Ayurvedic practitioner to help you identify obstacles to your health and find harmony in your daily routine.

Dr. Leena Athparia is a naturopathic doctor & Ayurvedic practitioner at Naturopathic Foundations with a focus in chronic disease. She applies Ayurvedic treatments to help you realign to your state of healthy balance. 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.




Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Constipation? Get Moving Naturally

by Dr. Leena Athparia, ND

Let's face it - most people don't pay much attention to their bowel movements or make elimination a top priority in their day. A large percentage of people have unhealthy bowel movements and don't even realize it unless symptoms become uncomfortable. For many, constipation means not going to the bathroom for many days and straining. However, chronic constipation is more common than you might think, and is an indication of imbalance, so it is important not to ignore it.

A healthy person should have around 1-3 bowel movements daily with the consistency of a ripe banana. Healthy elimination starts with a bowel movement in the morning. According to the classical Ayurvedic definition, when the body doesn't eliminate naturally first thing in the morning, it is considered a sign of imbalance - a mild form of constipation. If addressed with balancing diet, lifestyle and herbs, this can be corrected before it turns chronic and leads to more serious conditions such as hemorrhoids, rectal prolapse and bowel disease.

While conventional medications or laxative herbs such as senna can give quick relief for blockages, they can cause cramping and discomfort and are not a long term solution since the bowels become dependent on laxatives. Many people will find that a morning coffee does the trick, but are unable to go without a stimulant such as coffee, meaning your body is not doing the job on its own.
Naturopathic medicine works with providing relief and removing obstacles to healthy elimination, while reminding the body to do its job.

Some causes of constipation are related to diet (lack of hydration, inadequate fibre, food sensitivities, refined food), lifestyle (lack of exercise), stress and anxiety, and other conditions such as hypothyroidism, IBS, depression, cancer and nervous system disorders.  Increasing fibre or drinking more water may not always fix constipation for many people, so you need to look at what is out of balance and treat it accordingly.  Read below for an overview of different types of constipation according to Ayurvedic body types and ways to correct imbalances.

Ayurvedic Body Types & Constipation


Elimination is governed by apana vayu, think of this as the force of the wind which helps expel things from the body.  This force regulates the "urge" to go, and can be easily thrown off balance with stress, anxiety, overthinking, poor eating habits and excess activity. Have you ever had to go, but then you had to rush to work or run to do something and lost the urge? Elimination is natural so listening to your body is crucial. When you know your body type, you can understand which factors in your daily life will throw off your digestion and elimination. 

What kind of constipation you experience will depend on your constitution (vata, pitta, kapha), the season and symptoms with which you present. Additionally, tongue and pulse diagnosis can pinpoint what kind of imbalances are manifesting.

Vata Constipation

There is an essential connection between the nervous system and elimination. When you are relaxed and at ease (parasympathetic mode), it is much easier to eliminate. When you are in fight or flight mode, blood and energy shunt away from your digestive system to your muscles in order to flee from what the body sees as potential danger. Chronic constipation develops quickly in individuals who have a Vata imbalance and is characterized by a dry colon with hard, dry stools. Eating too much fiber, such as raw vegetables, in Vata constipation can actually worsen constipation because it is rough and drying.

Tips: 
Increase your water intake and healthy omegas to help lubricate the intestinal passage. Make time in the morning to eliminate without rushing. Avoid suppressing the natural urge to go, and avoid eating on the go. The nervous system plays an important role in the digestive system, so spending time to eat in a relaxed environment and eating at regular times can improve regularity. Working with your ND for a customized diet, soothing demulcent herbs and natural lubricating suppositories can help with Vata constipation.


Pitta Constipation

Constipation in these body types is not as common as in Vata & Kapha, because of their innate digestive strength.  However, elimination issues manifest from excess heat in the body, particularly in the colon, leading to mucus, inflammation, burning sensation and hemorrhoids. These body types tend to be "doers", often pushing their body's limits to get work done and ignoring natural urges.

Tips:
Hydration in key for Pittas and so is slowing down. Following a Pitta balancing diet with cooling foods such as abundant leafy greens, salads and fruits can help treat constipation. Acupuncture can also help reduce heat in the body and stimulate movement in the colon. Cooling herbs such as aloe vera work well to soothe the intestines and work as a natural laxative.

Kapha Constipation

Kapha body types can struggle with elimination, in addition to fatigue and weight gain. This type of constipation is characterized by slow, sluggish bowels and mucous. Bowel movements tend to be large and oily. Eating heavy foods such as deep fried, excessive oil, cheese and creamy foods or eating late meals can aggravate this kind of constipation. Lighter food rich in fibre and vegetables are helpful to address this kind of constipation. If constipation is not addressed in a Kapha body, toxins can accumulate quickly and lead to weight gain, fatigue and other diseases.


Tips:
Exercise and gentle self massage or dry skin brushing can help stimulate movement in the colon. Fibre and dry foods support elimination and reduce mucous and heaviness in the intestines. Warming digestive spices such as ginger and black pepper can help as well as drying, astringent herbs and food (such as leafy green veggies). Triphala is a great herbal formula to address constipation in all types, including Kapha constipation. There are various ways and dosages to take this herb so speak with your ND to find out if this will help you.

Other Naturopathic Tips

Regardless of your body type, there are some foundational factors to ensure that your bowels move well. You can work on these tips with your naturopathic doctor to help identify your imbalances and what approach to take for your treatment.
  • Adequate water intake
  • Healthy fibers (such as vegetables, chia seeds, psyllium)
  • Probiotics to restore gut flora and promote healthy bowels
  • Healthy oils such as fish oils, ghee, coconut, seabuckthorn and olive oil
  • Food sensitivity testing: many people suffer from food sensitivities to dairy, wheat and other common foods. Identifying which foods are triggers for digestive health can make it easier to treat constipation.
  • Posture: the colon is meters long and muscle tension and poor posture can obstruct the route for healthy elimination.
  • Letting go: identifying emotional blockages or areas where you feel "stuck" in your life - in relationships, career etc. Working with your practitioner with counselling, homeopathic remedies, acupuncture and body work can help you release unprocessed emotions which often coincide with physical symptoms such as constipation.

If you notice any changes in your bowel movements, it is important to bring it up with your naturopathic doctor as they could be a sign of a more serious health issue such as hypothyroidism, bowel obstruction, IBD or side effects of medications. While constipation is common, it isn't normal or healthy. You don't have to live with constipation - there are natural treatments that can bring relief. Healthy elimination means the body is able to dump out toxins and help your body work much more efficiently!

Dr. Leena Athparia is a naturopathic doctor & Ayurvedic practitioner at Naturopathic Foundations with a focus in joint health, pain and chronic disease. She has a special interest in Ayurvedic nutrition. 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.



Spring Cleaning: Your Home

by Dr. Leena Athparia, ND & Marie Lennox

Spring is a time for renewal. The body does its clean up after the winter and begins to detoxify. Externally, it is also a good time to clean up your environment – at home, work or even in the car. Removing old clutter makes space for new things and can help you feel more at ease in your space. Physically cleaning your environment can go a long way in helping you feel reenergized this season.

When you clean with conventional products, unfortunately you are exposing yourself to chemicals that interfere with health - often unknowingly. Common products that contain chemicals are laundry detergent, softeners, dish soap, air fresheners, bathroom cleaners, drain cleaners and many more common household cleaners. These chemicals can enter through your skin, eyes or respiratory tract and can be very toxic to adults, children and pets. You can read more on common contaminants here.

During spring, the body is naturally trying to detoxify so you want to minimize toxins in your food & environment. Even if you are eating organic, exercising and keeping up with a healthy lifestyle, you could be getting unhealthy chemicals through household cleaning products. At Naturopathic Foundations, we use natural cleaning products and techniques, and thought we would share some healthy and easy spring cleansing tips that you can use at home.

Natural Cleaning Tips


Fridge Cleaning:
While your fridge may store many of your nutrient-rich foods, it is one of the most common places that harbours rotting food and unhealthy mold. Start by clearing out food shelf by shelf. Check for expiry dates, and throw food in compost and recycle glass jars in the blue bin.
  • Wipe shelves and inside of fridge with a touch of natural dish soap and baking soda on a damp cloth. This lifts and softens hardened drips and spills. Rinse with white vinegar and water solution (1/2 c. vinegar to 1 c. water) which will deodorize and disinfect your fridge.

Laundry solutions:
Washing your clothes with conventional detergents and softeners leaves residue on clothing and bedsheets which gets absorbed through the skin. This increases the toxic burden on the body and can eventually lead to hormonal imbalance, autoimmune conditions, cancer, and more.
  • 1/2 c. white vinegar in the rinse compartment to soften and deodorize your clothes and replace softeners. This is especially great for baby clothes and will not leave a vinegar smell. Choose natural laundry detergents which are environmentally safe and natural (unscented is best).
  • Essential oils placed on a damp cloth and placed with clothes in the drier will give a natural scent to your clothes. Choose essential oils such as lavender, jasmine, eucalyptus or any other blend you like. Check out the wide variety of essential oils in the clinic that you can use for this.
  • Drier balls can be used to reduce the time of your load by creating more space in the load. We have some available at the clinic at the front.

Surfaces & floor cleaners:
Tables, counter tops, floors pick up dust, grease and grime and cleaning with water won't always cut it. When you use conventional surface cleaners, chemical residue sticks to the surface and can be picked up by crawling infants, pets and adults through the skin. Keeping a bottle of homemade surface cleaner in a spray bottle will come in handy for regular use.

  • 1/4 c. hydrogen peroxide (as a disinfectant) and 10-15 drops of essential oils (such orange, grapefruit) and few drops of natural dish soap in 1 bucket of hot water. Use a mop or cloth to clean floor surfaces. (If cleaning granite or stone surfaces, rinse again with warm water.)

Home-made drain cleaner:
This non-toxic solution can clear drains clogged with grease and residue and is much safer than corrosive drain cleaners.
  • 1/2 c. of baking soda sprinkled in a clogged drain, followed by 1 c. of white vinegar. Let the mixture bubble for a few minutes and then pour boiling water. 

Natural Air Freshener:
Essential oil diffusers break up aromatic oils into small volatile particles in the air and add a wonderful fragrance on the home that is non-toxic. You can choose oils that you like for their scent or even their therapeutic properties. Lavender and floral scents tend to be calming, while citrus scents tend to be energizing and invigorating. We carry diffusers in the clinic that you can use at your home or office.


You will find that if you can replace your conventional household cleaners with natural alternatives, you will reduce the toxic burden in your home and support the healing of you and your family.  We carry a variety of natural cleaning products and essential oils at the clinic which you can come in to learn about anytime. You can speak with any of the naturopathic doctors at Naturopathic Foundations to find out more about ways you can help reduce toxins in your home, food and body care products, and improve your body’s ability to detoxify.