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 2015 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. 
  • 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.