Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Realistic and Achievable Personal and Family Health Goals for the New Year.


New Year’s resolutions are always set with good intentions but some are harder to implement and sustain than others. Here are some ideas and tips for setting reasonable, achievable and sustainable health goals for 2018 and beyond.

Reasonable, Achievable, Sustainable Health Goals:
Healthy Weight & Exercise
Clean Eating
Sleep


Healthy Weight & Exercise
Perhaps the two areas where most set unreasonable and hence unattainable goals. The dream and desire to get back to that pre-pregnancy or pre-wedding weight or going to the gym at 5am, 4 days per week is admirable but is it doable or even healthy for you? Begin by taking a close look at your personal and your family’s schedule.
Exercise: Based on your schedule, does exercise fit best on Mon/Wed/Fri or Tues/Thur/Sat? Is morning, mid-day or early evening the best time for you (and your schedule)? Aim for 3 days per week at a realistic time of day, keeping in mind that a 5am or “bootcamp” workout may not be the ideal for those suffering from adrenal fatigue.
Healthy Weight: When it comes to weight loss, slow and steady is key and weight loss goals should be realistic and achievable. One or a few of the following strategies may be realistic and achievable for you: Monday to Friday menu planning, not eating past 8pm, avoiding sugar, fasting overnight for 12hrs, Intermittent Fasting.

Monday to Friday Clean Eating
Another achievable and sustainable health resolution is to eat clean, homemade, whole, “non-stressful” foods during the week. Choosing to avoid gluten grains, sugar (including juice and pop), and highly processed and fried foods Monday through Friday can have a tremendously beneficial impact on weight, energy levels, sleep quality, productivity and mood.
Sleep

Adults who are not sleeping at least 7.5 hrs per night are sleep-deprived. Without adequate, restful sleep, optimal health (and weight) is simply not achievable. In order for our brain, nervous system, immune system and detoxification organs to work optimally, the human body requires 5 consecutive 90 min. sleep cycles. This means that for those who need to get up at 6am, bedtime (lights out) should be no later than 10:30pm. While this minimum of 7.5hrs of sleep is required on a daily basis, it may not be achievable or sustainable for everyone based on work or family schedules. If this is the case, consider practicing an earlier bedtime at least 3 days per week (Sun/Tues/Thur) or every other day.

Talk to your ND about which New Year's health resolutions would be best for you for 2018!


Dr. Nadine Cyr N.D. has been working with children, moms and dads for nearly 20 years, helping them set and achieve realistic health goals for optimal health. She believes in setting her patients up for success by creating individualized treatment plans based on moderation and achievability. 
To book an appointment with Dr. Cyr, please call the clinic at 905-940-2727





Keeping the Resolution of Health

Dr. Iva Lloyd, ND

Becoming healthier is one of the most common New Year's Resolutions. It is important to remember that health is a life-long process, not a project that can be accomplished and  then set aside again for a number of months or years. Health is a way of life and a cumulative reflection of your life.

1st Step - Determine Your Areas of Concern
The first thing you want to do if you are on the path to becoming healthier is to take an honest look at your health -- all aspects of your health. Most people have a tendency to focus on the one or two things that are currently bothering them, but in my experience as a naturopathic doctor, many people end up ignoring the aspects of health that are either "feeding" the other areas or those that pose the greatest health risk.

For most people over the age of 30, or for those with a suspected or known health issue, the first step generally involves getting up-to-date blood work and a physical exam. One of the advantages of naturopathic medicine is that laboratory testing it is not controlled by OHIP or other provincial health-care guidelines and we can often offer patients a thorough blood work-up and physical exam. For example, our access to testing for environmental toxins and chemicals and food reactions is very extensive. There are also a range of laboratory tests that can help clarify the best treatment plans for conditions such as high cholesterol, hypertension or diabetes.

2nd Step - Follow the Logic of Healing
Yes, there is a logic to healing and re-establishing health. A lot of frustration, time and money can be spent with very little results if this logic is not followed.  Generally speaking the way the body works is as follows:
  •  Acute Takes Priority -- Acute illness generally take priority.  If you are dealing with an acute situation the "healing energy" of the body will be focused on the acute problem.  This is one reason it is important to allow your body the time it requires to heal acute illnesses, like colds and flus or sprains and strains.
  • Reverse Order - The last symptom will often heal first.  If you have had eczema for years and recently ended up with a cough, it is most likely that the cough will resolve before the eczema improves.  As deeper symptoms "move to the surface", it is common for them to get a little worse before they resolve. 
  • Grouping of Symptoms - Symptoms that started at the same time often are related.  For example, digestive symptoms can cause joint pain, skin issues, mood changes and changes in bowel movements are simultaneously.  Hormone imbalances can contribute to insomnia, anxiety, decreased memory function, dry skin, weight gain and other problems.  One of the main jobs of your naturopathic doctor is to find the core imbalance that is contributing to your symptoms instead of treating each concern as a separate thing. Treating the core imbalance is simpler, more effective and a lot less costly.
  • Top-Down - Symptoms that appear above the waist generally resolve before symptoms that are lower in the body. Chronic patterns are generally held in the lower body, including circulatory problems (peripheral artery disease), or the impact of kidney or liver disease, etc.
  • Inside-Out - The vital organs are located deep within the body. As the body is healing, it will generally heal the deeper organs prior to the joints, skin and other more superficial organs.

3rd Step - Open the Routes of Elimination
Being able to eliminate what the body doesn't require is essential to health.  In traditional systems of medicine, such as Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine, opening the routes of elimination is the most important single step to achieving and establishing health.

For example, having proper bowel movements every day and breathing effectively need to be part of every health-building plan. Many people find that once they are able to eliminate toxins from their body, many other symptoms resolve.  Check out my blog on Eliminating Toxins - Top 5 Things to Remember for more information.

4th Step - Regular Movement
Movement is essential to health. Most people are much too sedentary in their jobs and at home.  Regular movement is required not only for proper functioning of muscles and joints, but movement is an integral part of cardiovascular health, blood sugar control, mood regulation and other aspects of health.  Check out my blog on Movement for more information.

5th Step - Eat For Health
What you eat will strongly impact your ability to heal. Knowing how to choose what food is best for you is the single most important factor that a person has to ensuring health, next to positive thinking.

There is no magical healthy diet. It generally boils down to ensuring that you eat more vegetables, adequate protein, complex carbohydrates, good fats and 1 or 2 pieces of fruit a day. Some additional general guidelines are as follows:
  • Identify and address your personal food allergies and sensitivities.  Identifying the foods that your body reacts to and then avoiding or limiting those foods is a great first dietary step to achieving health.
  • Address your personal weakness and indulgences. Most people are aware of their specific weaknesses and the "bad" habits that they have that affect their health. One of the best ways to achieve your health goals is to be honest with yourself and commit to addressing your "bad" habits and making more healthy choices.
  • Avoid the "feast then famine" phenomenon. The solution to eating too much is not to spend the next couple of weeks or months eating too little.  Keep in mind that January and February are often the coldest months of the year. Dramatically changing the amount that you eat will often increase the chance that you will come down with a cold or flu. Major fluctuations in dietary intake often worsen underlying conditions such as thyroid conditions, diabetes and other metabolic conditions.
  • Get rid of the sugar and the "white processed food". Those chocolates, sugary sweets, morning danishes, muffins or bagels are packed with calories, but offer very little nutrients.  The increase in sugar and empty carbohydrates is one of the main reasons for those added pounds that creep on over time.  If you are serious about getting back on track with your diet, it is time to get rid of the sugar and the calorie-dense, nutrient-deficient foods.  To learn more about the health impact of sugar, click here. 
  • Drink water -- lots of water.  Sweets, alcohol and many other "treats" are dehydrating.  Ensuring that you are drinking sufficient water is a safe and effective way of helping the body re-balance and rid itself of the excesses that it has accumulated.  Click here for tips on how much water is ideal for you. 
  • 4 to 6 cups of vegetables a day.  Increasing your consumption of cooked vegetables, especially those dark green vegetables like swiss chard and kale, is a great way to help the body detox. Vegetables are also the primary source of minerals and nutrients.
  • Cut out the snacking.  Only children and those with low blood sugar need to snack between meals.  Unless advised otherwise by your naturopathic doctor, stick to three meals a day.
Check out my blog on Nutrition for more information.

6th Step - Adequate Sleep
The body heals while you sleep. Ensuring adequate restful sleep is essential to establishing and retaining health.  There are many reasons why sleep can be a concern.  It is important to identify the reason before engaging in any treatments.  Check out my blog on Sleep for more information.

7th Step - Work with Your Naturopathic Doctor
If you are serious about becoming healthier, then book an appointment with your Naturopathic Doctor. They will be able to help you determine what steps are best for you and will help you stay on track. For more information visit our website at: http://www.naturopathicfoundations.ca/



Monday, January 1, 2018

11 Self-Care Tips for the New Year

By Dr. Leena Athparia, ND

How many of you find yourself motivated to make New Year's resolutions, only to drop them and end up feeling discouraged ? Maybe you want to lose weight, exercise more, eat a healthier diet or have more time for yourself. When you start integrating simpler, more manageable healthy habits into your daily routine that you do consistently, it is much easier than making ambitious goals. The small things that you do for your health add up, allowing you to prevent disease and feel better every day.

There are many self-care routines that you can incorporate this year. These are practices that you can do on your own such as: self-oil massage, dry skin brushing, baths with therapeutic salts or morning stretches. Self-care also means tune-ups with your naturopathic doctor - depending on your state of health, this could mean monthly acupuncture sessions, regular massages or body work to realign yourself. Just like you go to the dentist every 6 months and brush your teeth daily for oral health, self-care is essential for optimal health and prevention of disease. Many people often go to the doctor when they are sick or have pain however, the naturopathic approach helps identify and prevent illness before you feel symptoms, saving you time and money in the long term.

When you take care of yourself, you will naturally be able to take care of the things around you that matter most: kids, family, career etc. Some people feel guilty taking time for themselves; it's not about being selfish, but instead it's about nurturing yourself. When your body, mind, emotions and spirit are in harmony with each other, you will not only feel great, but you will feel fulfilled with your life purpose.

Self-Care Tips

According to Ayurveda, dinacharya is a term used to describe daily routine and self-care practices which restore balance and attune ourselves to the natural fluctuations of nature. Below are a few suggestions for you in the new year and beyond.

1. Start the day with a warm glass of water. Sounds so simple, but how many of us actually do it regularly? This will help flush out accumulated toxins after the night and stimulate the digestive system to cleanse. For some individuals, lemon-water or light herbal teas may be advised.

2. Eliminate. No matter how much good food your eat or quality supplements you take, if you are not emptying your bowels in the morning regularly, you are accumulating waste material. Spending the time in the morning to eliminate is a basic healthy habit. If you struggle with constipation, you should speak with your naturopathic doctor as it is a sign of imbalance.

3. Care for your body. Depending on your constitution and the season, self-oil massage or dry skin-brushing can help nourish and cleanse your skin. For example, if you have a vata constitution, a warm oil self massage prior to showering can promote circulation and be a grounding to start the day. If you have a kapha constitution, dry skin brushing can also help stimulate lymphatic drainage.

4. Exercise and/or meditate. It may initially seem difficult to do, but starting the day consciously with even 5 minutes of meditation will enhance the quality of your day. Kapha body types need more vigorous exercise, while vata types need gentler movement or meditation and pitta types need moderation.

5. Start the day with a nourishing breakfast balanced with enough protein - don't skip it before rushing out the door or replace it with a sweet beverage that will spike your blood sugar levels and leave you feeling depleted. Aim for lunch to be the largest meal of the day, and dinner to be early and lighter for digestive health. Try to learn more about your Ayurvedic constitution so you can make dietary choices more aligned for your body. (Learn more about seminars on this topic here).

6. Hydrate! Seems easier said than done, but it is crucial to have adequate water during the day to keep your skin soft and support cellular detox.  Aim for 7-9 glasses of water per day. Drinking warm or adding lemon, ginger or other herbs can make it more palatable for those who don't like to drink water. There are also many herbal teas in the clinic that are therapeutic. Preparing a warm cup of tea can be very healing in itself, in addition to the therapeutic benefits of the herbs which work gently but effectively.

7. Schedule in appointments for self-care ahead of time rather than waiting until symptoms come up. If you struggle with body pain, regular bodywork can be very effective at preventing issues from worsening. For example if you suffer from tension headaches, monthly acupuncture can keep them at bay. If you have arthritic pain, regular Ayurvedic oil massage can nourish the joints and prevent poor circulation in the winter. These treatments can be done weekly, monthly or at every season transition. Cupping can also be done monthly or every 3 months for maintenance for muscle tension, scar tissue or detox. Speak to your naturopathic doctor on what would be the best maintenance treatment frequency for you depending on your health status.

8. Castor oil packs are very effective for reducing inflammation and detoxifying the liver. If you struggle with digestive complaints, menstrual issues or have a sluggish liver, speak with your naturopathic doctor on how often you can do castor oil packs. Adding this to your daily routine will feel good.

9. Treat yourself to a hot bath with alkaline salts and essential oils. Your skin is the largest organ of elimination, and in winter time we barely sweat. Soaking in a hot tub with ease tight muscles, allowing minerals to nourish your skin and eliminate toxins. If you have skin issues, you may need to soak 3x/week, otherwise a weekly bath can wash away physical and mental emotional residue. 

10. Sleep on time. Most people find themselves in a vicious cycle of struggling to get up and get everything done in the day, and sleeping later than planned. Quantity and quality of sleep are equally important, and can be promoted by simple sleep self-care routine such as: foot baths or massages before bed, screen-free time, meditation or listening to soothing music. If you end your day with a restful sleep, you will find your quality of day will improve, leaving you more time to do the things you love to do.

11. Regular appointments with your Naturopathic Doctor. Remember that the conventional medical system is geared to treat disease and while it can be effective in acute situations, it is not as preventative in nature. The naturopathic approach involves identifying signs of imbalance even before you feel symptoms or before your bloodwork results come out abnormal. Regular wellness checks are an important aspect of self-care and will enable your ND to work with you to identify imbalances early on and guide you on how you can prevent certain disease that you may be susceptible to. For healthy individuals, yearly wellness checks that include a physical exam may be sufficient for health promotion, just like you would for your family doctor. For most people though, appointments every few months may be required just like you would with your dentist or any health care provider.

Try introducing 1-2 of the self-care tips into your day this week until it's established, before introducing another routine. Once healthy routines become healthy habits, it will seem less daunting and easier to do. Remember, when you take care of yourself, you will be able to improve the quality in many aspects of your life, so it pays off. If you are feeling challenged with any of the tips above or want to know what self-care routines are best for you, speak to your naturopathic doctor. Support and guidance can help you stay on track, and keep you inspired to make this year healthier than ever before!

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.