Saturday, March 10, 2018

It is not about Work-Life Balance; It is about Prioritization and Coherence

by Dr. Iva Lloyd, ND

The concept of Work-Life Balance sounds great. It has been the catch-phrase for the last decade or so.  The lack of work-life balance has often become the justifcation for anxiety, stress, depression, just about anything.

Trying to achieve work-life balance often results in people trying to do more. Trying to put a little of their energy into many different things. The focus often becomes the length of time a person spends in any one task, not whether or not they enjoy the task, whether they are getting something valuable out of it or even whether it is really important to them.

As a naturopathic doctor, I often encounter patients that are struggling to achieve specific health goals, and working to include a healthy regimen into their life.  What I hear all the time is that they struggle because there are "too many things to do". Life has become about doing more, versus enjoying what you do, really experiencing what you're doing and choosing to do things that really matter. The challenge is that what a person often ends up doing does not bring them closer to what they want to achieve.

Achieving anything - whether it be health, success, recognition, etc - starts with knowing what you want to achieve (intention), making sure what you do is consistent with those goals (coherence) and prioritizing your time accordingly.

Intention

Your intentions drive everything; whether you are conscious of them or not. In fact, your subconscious intentions are often more impactful than your conscious ones. Intention is defined as one's purpose, aim, objective or goal. Intentions can be more important than actions. Next month I am going to expand more on the role of Intention in health and disease and in overall happiness and contentment in life.

Coherence

Coherence has two general meanings. It relates to things being logical and consistent and it relates to thing have a unifed focus. We think of it as the waves of your life being in sync. When it comes to health, coherence is about recognizing that there are many internal and external factors that influence health. Such as;

Copyright: Dr. Iva Lloyd, ND
2018
It can look overwhelming, but it is really about appreciating that a person's health is influenced by everything they encounter.  When you see yourself as part of the whole, versus being in "own bubble", it can actually make life easier.

Dr. Lloyd, ND copyright 2008
Coherence recognizes that all aspects of an individual are connected.  That a person's thoughts and emotions (i.e., the psychological) is intertwined with the functional and structural aspects of a person. That a person's thoughts affect how their body functions and likewise, a person's posture influences how they think and feel and how the body functions.

What is "right" for each person, whether we are talking diet, exercise, supplements, sleep, etc, depends on a person's age, their health status, their constitution, even the seasons and time of day.

The more you evaluate things based on their relevance and their applicability to you; the better.  For example, coffee and salt are not necessarily good or bad. It simply matters whether or not they are good for you. Whether or not your body type, your age and your current health status is enhanced or negatively impacted by them.  Too often the focus is on evaluating "things" - whether they be food, exercise, supplements or anything - as good or bad, versus looking at whether they are right, or in coherence, with a specific person.

I encourage you to catch yourself any time you are wondering if something is "good" or "bad" and change your thinking to whether or not it is "right for you" or whether the impact is even "relevant" for you.

Prioritization

There are so many things that can pull on your energy and time. Preparing food, exercise, household tasks, work, email, social media, news, commitments with family and friends, travel, and the list goes on and on. For most people, the issue is there are are too many things to do. And, at the end of a day or a month, there is that feeling that you still didn't do enough or you never got to what mattered.

There are some trues that you want to keep in mind:
  • No matter who you are there is only 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week.
  • Everybody only has 100% of energy and not everybody's 100 is the same.
  • Whatever you focus on gets done!
If you want to know what your priorities are; look at what you do and the order that you do them. What I often find is that when a person is listing their priorities and when they are listing what they do in a day or week, they often don't match. For example, a person will state that exercising or losing weight is their key priority, but they don't find the time to exercise or they still end up stress eating or snacking late at night. 

It is always a good idea to track what you get done and to get a sense of whether or not that is what you want to be defined by. Another good exercise is to make lists and check off what gets done. At the end of each week, check the list and review what got done and what was left unfinished. It is also helpful to highlight different tasks by colour - green for personal tasks, blue for household chores, red for work, etc. That way, you can more easily see where your focus and priorities lie.

There is a saying, "Whatever gets measured; gets done."  If you want to be more successful, in life, health, anything, spend time determining your priorities and then tracking what you do to determine if they match.

Dr. Iva Lloyd, ND is a naturopathic doctor with a special interest in the role of the mind in health and disease. Check out her website to find other articles and blogs that she has written. If you would like to book an appointment with her, please call the clinic at 905-940-2727.




Thursday, March 8, 2018

Recurrent Miscarriages: Is Your Immune System To Blame

By Dr. Beata Skorka, ND

Sadly, 15-20% of human pregnancies end in clinically recognized miscarriages, with the majority of them occurring within the first trimester. Reasons for recurrent miscarriages can vary, but include: parental genetic disorders, infectious diseases, endocrine dysfunctions, autoimmune disorders and uterine anatomical malformations.

Many couples trying to start or grow their family experience the painful and devastating end of a pregnancy, with some experiencing it multiple times. A miscarriage is recognized as a loss of a baby before 24 weeks of gestation. Recurrent miscarriage is seen as having had three or more consecutive miscarriages.  Below I will discuss one of the reasons for which miscarriages can occur- autoimmune and abnormal immunological responses.

Immune Conditions that Impact Fertility

When we think of our immune system, we often recognize it as a beneficial system in our body's that protects us from foreign invasion. However, our bodies ability to recognize what is self from non-self can either help or hurt us.  When functioning optimally, our immune system is protective. Problems arise when it sees parts of our bodies as non-self or foreign and attacks.

A woman's body must be able to recognize what is going on within itself and nurture the growing fetus.  Pregnancy is threatened when the body sees the placenta, uterus, fetus or blood as foreign and attacks, creating problems with fertility and/or miscarriage.

  • Antiphospholipid Syndrome (APS):  This condition in which the body makes high concentrations of antiphospholipid antibodies (APAs) in the blood, can increase the chance of blood clots. Antibodies are protective proteins made by the immune system in response to a 'foreign' substance. Multiple miscarriages can be the result of having this syndrome.  They are associated with both early and late fetal loss miscarriages, pre-eclampsia and poor growth of the fetus.  If recognized, treatment can significantly decrease the risk of miscarriage anywhere from 40-70% vs 10% if left untreated.
  • Anti-Nuclear Antibodies (ANA):  These antibodies are related to females suffering from autoimmune conditions such as Systemic Lupus Erythematous (SLE) and/or Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), but can also be found in healthy individuals.  ANAs attack the cells of the uterus and the placenta, leading to inflammation which can affect implantation and cause early miscarriage.
    • SLE:  This is a chronic inflammatory autoimmune condition in which the immune system attacks healthy tissues.  Some symptoms to look out for include: butterfly-shaped rash across the cheeks and nose; raised red patches on the skin known as discoid rash; photosensitivity to sunlight resulting in rash; mouth and nose ulcers which are typically painless; arthritis; blood disorders; too much protein in the urine; disorders of the nervous system; heart and lung disorders.
    • Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA): An autoimmune condition that affects the joints, causing swelling, stiffness and pain.
  • Autoimmune Thyroiditis:  Thyroid antibodies can be present and affect a woman's ability to conceive and carry a baby.  Autoimmune thyroiditis can lead to either hypo or hyperthyroidism.  Alongside the thyroid, gluten reactivity needs to be addressed.  Celiac disease (immune reaction to gluten) is closely associated with autoimmunity and can be a compounding component of fertility.  Undiagnosed Celiac disease can lead to severe nutritional deficiencies that can cause infertility, recurrent miscarriage, stillbirths, poor growth of the fetus and unexplained infertility.
  • Natural Killer (NK) Cells:  NK cells are a type of white blood cell that acts as the immune system's first line of defence against infections and life threatening diseases such as cancer.  They are the main type of immune cell found in the uterus.  During pregnancy, they increase in number in order to facilitate the development of the placenta.  However, too much NK cells can be toxic and lead to fetal cell death and miscarriage.

Naturopathic Approach to Recurrent Miscarriages

Autoimmune conditions are just one cause of recurrent miscarriage and infertility.  We are all unique in our health, genetics and lifestyle and, therefore, our health needs to be addressed in this way.  A thorough assessment and treatment is vital to a woman's and man's fertility outcome.  A naturopathic workup would likely include:
  • Thorough current and past health history
  • Food intolerance testing and dietary monitoring
  • Antibody testing
  • Standard blood tests for fertility (thyroid levels, inflammatory markers, hormone levels etc.)
  • Standard and naturopathic physical exams

Naturopathic Treatment Options to Fertility Success

As a naturopathic doctor, I address the physical, emotional and structural issues associated with fertility. To complement diet and lifestyle recommendations, the following are often beneficial when working to optimize fertility:
Everyone's journey to starting a family is different.  Sometimes a little extra support is needed.  In subsequent blogs, I will explain the health benefits of the treatments listed above.

If you or someone you know is having difficulty conceiving, has unexplained infertility or has experienced the devastating loss of losing a baby and would like to book an appointment with Dr. Beata Skorka ND, please call Naturopathic Foundations Health Clinic at (905) 940-2727. 

Dr. Beata Skorka, ND is a licensed Naturopathic Doctor practising in Ontario.  She has an interest in fertility and is certified in Intravenous Therapy, which she utilizes in practice.


Wednesday, March 7, 2018

March Is Colon Cancer Awareness Month. We've Got Your Backside!

By: Dr. Kimberley Ramberan, ND

According to The Canadian Cancer Society, colon cancer is the second leading cause of death from cancer in men and the third leading cause of death from cancer in women in Canada.  The silver lining to that statistic is that colon cancer is one of the most preventable types of cancer and, if caught early, over 90% of cases can result in a full recovery.

Instead of focusing on the "CANCER" part of this month we are going to focus on the "AWARNESS" part so that this knowledge can be the power you need to hear what your body could be trying to tell you sooner than later.

Listening to the Signs and Symptoms

When something is wrong, our body usually tries to give us clues that draw our attention to the problem.  These signs and symptoms can start off as a gentle whisper but,  when ignored for too long, can end up screaming so loudly that we have no choice but to pay attention to the disruption.

The most important advice I can give you is to pay attention to a sudden change in your body that doesn't make sense.  When you have changed nothing about your lifestyle/diet/environment and all of a sudden something changes or a new symptom comes up DON'T IGNORE IT.  Talk to your Naturopathic Doctor as soon as possible.

Image result for listen Here Are The Top 8 Signs and Symptoms YOU Should Be Aware Of

  1. Change in bowel habits - If you have had the same bowel habits for a majority of your life and that starts to change to either diarrhea or constipation for more than a couple of weeks, a follow up visit to your ND is needed to rule out a pathological cause.
  2. Blood stools - This is the most commonly experienced colon cancer symptom.  Blood found in stool can mean other issues but anything that it could be requires the attention of your ND.  Blood in a stool can sometimes be seen, but it is more common for the blood to be hidden inside the stool.  The blood may also be separate from the stool in the toilet bowl or on the toilet paper. Take home message - LOOK BEFORE YOU FLUSH.
  3. Narrowing stools - The way the stool looks when it leaves the body can provide clues to what is going on inside.  For example, pencil thin or ribbon-like stools can sometimes indicate that the stool had to squeeze by some sort of obstacle (like a tumour) on its way out.  
  4. A sense of fullness - If the sensation is not linked to eating too much or not having a complete bowel movement,  a sense of fullness can be felt due to a tumour that is growing toward the end of the colon or in the rectum.  The sensation of fullness or "having to go but nothing is coming" is because your body senses that there is something present near the exit.
  5. Abdominal pain or cramping - Sometimes a tumour can block the stool and even gas from passing through the colon on its way out causing a partial or complete bowel obstruction.  This can lead to abdominal pain and discomfort that can range from mild to severe.  If there is a blockage, pain will also worsen as time goes by and more food in ingested.
  6. Unexplained weight loss/loss of appetite - Weight loss, without any change to your routine, should be mentioned in a visit with your ND.  Loss of appetite could be a result of a cancer-related increase in metabolism.
  7. Gas & bloating - Any prolonged periods of bloating that do not resolve with diet changes or bowel movements should be looked at in a physical examination. A pattern of gas and bloating may be an indication that a tumour is growing in the colon and occasionally causing a blockage.
  8. Fatigue - Feeling exhausted can have many reasons and should be evaluated through comprehensive blood work and proper history taking.  Bleeding caused by a tumour can cause iron deficiency anemia which can leave you feeling exhausted.  Low blood levels can sometimes be the only sign we have that something is wrong.  
Too often in my line of work do I hear patients say to me " I wish I knew".  If you have digestive symptoms that are new for you or you "just don't feel like you", there is no point in waiting to get yourself properly evaluated by a Naturopathic Doctor.

Image result for hand in hand Know the Risk Factors

As stated by the World Health Organization, a risk factor is an attribute, characteristic or exposure of an individual that increases the likelihood of developing a disease or injury.  Below is a link to ND Health Facts that goes over the main causal factors for developing colon cancer.  Risk Factors- ND Health Facts

It is important to remember that just because you may have risk factors, disease is not necessarily imminent.  Some risk factors you cannot control and some you definitely can!  Knowing how to change is sometimes where we need help from others. Naturopathic Doctors aim to teach you how to prevent and treat disease in a way that promotes healing on a physical, emotional, and spiritual level.

Naturopathic Treatment Plan

Creating a treatment plan with a patient that focuses on the strategies listed below is one of the ways I support my patients.                                                                              
  • Assessing individual risk factor
  • Comprehensive laboratory testing
  • Creating an individualized anti-inflammatory diet
  • Supplement protocol 
  • Supporting the Gut-Brain connection
  • Improving the health of the microbiome

Just remember, Cancer is just a word, not a life sentence!

If you or someone you know would like to book an appointment with Dr. Kimberley Ramberan, ND, please call Naturopathic Foundations Health Clinic at 905.940.2727.  Dr. Kimberley Ramberan, ND is IV Therapy certified and has a special interest in cancer care.