Saturday, March 28, 2020

Food and Immune Health

By Dr. Iva Lloyd, ND

This current crisis is reinforcing the need for a healthy diet as the health of your immune system is strongly linked to what you eat and what you don't eat.  When looking at diet from the lens of immune health it can be helpful to increase foods that support immune function and ensure adequate hydration, and to limit foods that cause inflammation or that impede immune function.

What you eat truly is the foundation of overall health.  But, choosing the ideal diet can be challenging as the "right diet" can vary based on age, health status, food intolerances and other factors. The following is a general guide. For recommendations specific to you or your family members it is always best to work with your naturopathic doctor.

General "Rules"

Although there is not one diet that is best for everyone, here are some general "rules" to keep in mind:

  1. Eat primarily to be healthy
  2. Eat from all the food groups
  3. Ensure proper portions. 
  4. Eat regular meals.
  5. 75% whole foods 

To learn more about these general rules, check out our blog Nutrition - Top 5 Things to Remember.

Foods That Support Immune Function

A balanced diet is essential to proper immune function. The following is an overview of the nutrients that are required for optimal immune health and the foods that contain them:
  • Vitamin C: blackcurrant, broccoli, citrus fruits, kale, parsley, spinach
  • Vitamin A: carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, chicory, dill, dried apricots, egg yolk, kale, liver, parsley, red pepper.
  • Vitamin B6: avocados, walnuts, spinach, nuts and seeds, whole grains
  • Vitamin B12: beef, poultry, fish, dairy, sauerkraut, seaweed
  • Vitamin D: butter, dairy, eggs, liver, sardines, mackerel, oatmeal, oysters, salmon, shitake, sprouts, sweet potatoes, tuna
  • Omega 3 oils: fish such as sardine, mackeral, salmon and tuna, almonds, avocado, beans, chia seeds, linseeds, olive oil, spinach, walnuts
  • Folic Acid: dark leafy greens, asparagus, broccoli, citrus fruit, dried beans, peas, whole grains.
  • Copper: liver, oysters, cashews, soy beans, dark leafy greens, avocados, kale, linseeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, brazil nuts, pistachios, pine nuts, legumes, dried fruits
  • Zinc: oysters, seafood, pumpkin seeds, beef, chicken, cashews, brazil nuts, oatmeal, sunflower seeds, hazel nuts and whole grains.

Foods That Contribute to Inflammation

Avoiding foods that cause inflammation in the body helps with proper immune function, especially if you have respiratory symptoms such as cough, shortness of breath or fatigue.  The following strategies will help limit the amount of inflammation:
  • If you have known food intolerances, it is recommended to limit these as much as possible.
  • Limit refined carbohydrates such as white bread, pastries, cookies, white rice and other "white" highly processed foods.
  • Avoid trans fats, vegetable oils and foods high in sugar.
  • If you have mucous-related symptoms limit dairy, wheat, yeast and bananas. Fruit is healthy, but it is important to limit your fruit intake to a couple servings a day.

Stay Hydrated

Ensuring regular hydration is an important aspect of immune health.  Hydration is a reflection of both water and oils. The following foods can help ensure adequate hydration:
  • Water. Drink about 1/2 your body weight in ounces a day.
  • Herbal teas are a great alternative. There are a number of herbal teas that also support immune and respiratory health.
  • Green drinks and diluted vegetables juices can be beneficial as long as the sugar content is minimized.
For more information, check out our blog on Water - Top 5 Things to Remember.

Foods That Might Weaken Immune Function

Food is required for an immune system to function appropriately, but some food can also impede immune health. To ensure that your immune system stays strong limit the following foods:
  • Sugar. The consumption of refined glucose, fructose, sucrose, honey, pop and high-sugar juices, have been shown to compromise the immune system for three to five hours.
  • Salt.  Avoid high-salt foods such as processed meats and processed foods such as soups and packaged foods. 
  • Junk Food. Most people enjoy a bit of junk food every now and then, but it is important to limit it or avoid it completely when working on strengthening overall immune health. Junk food is generally nutrient deficient and high in salt and/or sugar.
Eating healthy is pretty straight forward it you have a lot of variety and ensure that the majority of food that you eat is whole food.

If you would like any guidance on what is best to eat for you or your family, please work with one of our naturopathic doctors.

Saturday, March 21, 2020


by Dr. Iva Lloyd, ND

A crisis generally evokes confusion, anxiety and for some fear; and this pandemic is no different. To a large degree, the anxiety is due to the fact that there are so many unknowns - which is understandable as this virus is new.

As a naturopathic doctor, what I find encouraging is that there have been hundreds of research papers  published in the last few months. Doctors and researchers are madly working to understand how to manage COVID-19.  Rest assured that the information we are gathering is helping the medical profession figure out what needs to be done.  I trust the following answers some of your questions:

Q: What are the symptoms of COVID-19? 
A: The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are a fever, dry cough and shortness of breath or tiredness. A person might have additional symptoms such as aches and pains, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea, but at least two of the three main symptoms are generally present. 

Q: Who can get COVID-19? 
A: Anyone can get COVID-19, but currently older adults that have hypertension, heart disease, diabetes or lung disease are at a higher risk of developing serious complications. It is important that everyone be diligent and take the proper precautions. 

Q: How is COVID-19 spread? 
A: The virus is believed to be spread primarily by person-to-person through respiratory droplets from a sneeze or cough of an infected individual. It can also be transmitted by touching surfaces where infected droplets have recently landed. 

Q: Is the COVID-19 virus airborne?
A: NO! COVID-19 virus is NOT airborne. It is spread through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The respiratory droplets quickly fall to the ground or on a surface. They only stay in the air for a very short period of time. 

Q: How long do the respiratory droplets last on surfaces?
A: Respiratory droplets can last between two to three days on plastic and/or stainless steel.  Keep in mind, the viral-load (concentration) of the droplets decreases quite quickly. Respiratory droplets can appear on other surfaces (e.g. clothing) but they do not last for very long and are not easily transmitted to someone from these surfaces.

Q: Why the 6 Foot Rule?
A: You never know when you may cough or sneeze and the six-foot rule is based on the fact that respiratory droplets from a sneeze or cough may travel up to six feet. Social distancing is primarily about protecting you from a cough or sneeze.  Coughing and sneezing into a tissue or into your sleeve is important to contain the spread of respiratory droplets. 

Q: What is Social Distancing? Why is it important? 
A: Social distancing, quarantines and self-isolation are terms in wide use during the COVID-19 pandemic. Social distancing involves avoiding crowds and keeping a safe distance between you and others when shopping or going for a walk.  It is a preventative measure through limiting inter-personal contact. Until we understand more about COVID-19, it is important to follow the social distancing guidelines set by your government.

Q: How can I protect myself from COVID-19?
A: The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being directly exposed. Four things to keep in mind:
  1. The most important is to avoid close contact with anyone who is showing symptoms of COVID-19 or who has been diagnosed with COVID-19.
  2. Wash your hands frequently especially after coughing or sneezing and being in public places. Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water is not available, use hand sanitizer.  Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands after touching surfaces that others would have commonly touched. 
  3. Practice social distancing. 
  4. Maintain a healthy lifestyle
Q: If you have symptoms or if you have tested positive for COVID-19, is it important to self-quarantine? 
A: YES.  First and foremost, if you have symptoms of COVID-19 it is important to call your local public health for testing. Anyone who has symptoms or has been tested positive MUST self-quarantine as directed by public health, usually for 14 days.  When self-quarantining it is imperative that you stay home, avoid visitors, and stay at least six-feet away from other people in the household. It is also important to avoid sharing things like towels and utensils and that you use standard hygiene measures. Ask friends and family to do your shopping and drop groceries or other supplies outside your door, in order to limit personal contact. If your symptoms worsen, call public health and they will direct you further.

Q: How long is the COVID-19 incubation period?
A: FIVE days! The time between exposure and showing symptoms of the COVID-19 virus can be 1-14 days. Most commonly it is about 5 days. 

Q: What is flattening the curve? Why is it important?
A: Flattening or slowing the rate of infection helps prevent overloading of local healthcare providers. Social distancing helps to spread out the rate of people with severe symptoms so that the hospitals are able to effectively manage the situation and it gives researchers and other medical professions more time to understand how to manage COVID-19.

Q: Can I get the COVID-19 virus from my pet?
A: NO! There is no evidence that pets can carry the COVID-19 virus. However like any surface that an infected person sneezes or coughs on, infected droplets can be carried on pet fur for a short period of time. Anytime you happen to cough or sneeze on your pet, please wipe their fur down with a damp towel before another family member or another person interacts with them.

Q: Who should wear a facemask?
A: If you are sick wear a facemask when you are around other people and before entering a public place or a healthcare provider's office. A facemask minimizes the chance that a cough or sneeze will affect others. If you are unable to wear a mask, or do not have one, it is important to follow the proper hygiene protocol for a cough or sneeze and to avoid close contact with others.  If you are NOT sick it is only necessary that you wear a facemask if you are caring for someone who is sick. 

Q: Is it helpful to wear gloves?
A: Gloves are necessary for those in the service industry, especially with those involved with food preparation or handling. For the general population, gloves are not necessary.  Gloves, whether they are latex, cloth or winter gloves, can all carry the virus. When you touch a surface that has respiratory droplets from the virus then the virus may be transferred to your gloves. My experience is that people are more likely to touch their face while wearing gloves than they are to touch their face if they are hanging onto a disinfectant wipe or tissue.  Keep in mind, healthcare workers have an increased risk of exposure and wearing gloves is important for them.

Q: What is the overall mortality rate of COVID-19?
A: It is going to take awhile to figure out the actual mortality rate (the number of people who may die if they catch COVID-19).  The World Health Organization (WHO) currently suspects that the mortality rate is around 3.4%. It currently appears higher in some countries (such as Italy), but is also much lower in other countries.  As the testing for COVID-19 has primarily focused on those that have symptoms, there is a chance that the mortality rate will decrease as we learn more about this virus.

Q: How many people who get infected will have significant symptoms?

A: Research currently indicates that about 80% to 90% of those that have the virus will be asymptomatic or will have mild or moderate symptoms. Which means that about 10% to 20% will have concerning symptoms that will require medical intervention or hospitalization. That being said, it is important for everyone to practice proper hygiene and social distancing.

Q: How many people will someone who is sick infect?
A: Reproductive rate is a measurement of how many people an infected person will infect. For example, the reproductive rate for the common flu (Influenza) is one - which means that for each person that is sick they will infect one other person. Recent research is indicating that the reproductive rate for COVID-19 is between 2 and 2.5.  There is speculation that as we learn more about COVID-19 the reproductive rate may actually decrease closer to that of the flu. 

Q: How long is someone who is infected able to infect someone else?
A: It is generally believed that someone who is showing symptoms can affect someone else for about 10 days. The term viral shedding relates to the ability of the virus to move from one part of the body to another (i.e., from your hands to your mouth) and from an infected person to the environment (i.e., from an infected person's hands to a hard surface) where it can affect others.  The current research indicates that it less likely that someone who is symptom-free will affect others with the virus.

Q: What is the difference between COVID-19 and SARS-CoV-2?
A: COVID-19 stands for Coronavirus Disease 2019. It is the name of the disease. SARS-CoV-2 stands for SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) Coronavirus 2 and it is the name of the virus.

Q: What is the source of SARS-CoV-2?
A: Based on the analysis of the virus, the source is from a dead animal. The transfer from animal to human would have occurred at a meat or fish market when humans were interacting with meat - NOT a live animal and NOT from a pet. At this time, the actual animal source has not been found but many are working tirelessly to figure it out. Part of the "unknown" factor for SARS-CoV-2 is that it originated from an animal and hence humans do not have the same natural immunity to this virus.

Q: How can your naturopathic practitioner help?
A: The naturopathic community is here to help you through this pandemic. Check out our blog "A Crash Course on Respiratory Health" The focus of naturopathic practice is to provide:
  • Health Promotion: guidance on a healthy lifestyle
  • Prevention: reinforcing the importance of hygiene and social distancing
  • Supportive Care: providing guidance on how to support your overall health. Currently there are no proven treatments - conventional or naturopathic - for COVID-19.
  • Recovery: helping patients recover and reestablish their health if they have had any symptoms.
Q: What is best to do when home in self-isolation or quarantine for a couple of weeks?
A: Situations like this are a good reminder of the importance of a healthy lifestyle. Here are some tips while in self-isolation:
  • First and foremost, create a routine. Plan out your day. Avoid the tendency to sit around and watch movies or television all day.  
  • Exercise is important. This might be a great time to focus on stretching, walking (even if it is around your house) or other activities you can do at home.
  • Work on a project. Take the time to clean out the garage, paint a room in the house, clean out those closets that you never get to, or other tasks at home.
  • Eat healthy.  This is a time to focus on healthy eating. Avoid filling up on junk food and high starch foods. To help the body stay healthy, eat your fruit and vegetables, adequate protein and healthy starches. 
  • Keep in touch with friends and family. Self-isolation and quarantine can be quite uncomfortable for may people. It is important to reach out to others. 
  • Mindfulness and meditation are very helpful in times of stress.  If you are not familiar with these coping strategies there are a number of apps that you can download and enjoy.
  • Limit the amount of time that you are listening to the news. Think of news, especially "bad news" as a challenging workout for your mind. Like any muscle, it can handle a bit, but it can't handle too much!
By ensuring a holistic approach to this problem, we will get through this pandemic together. As new information and research is available the global health care community will master this infection as it has all others.


Saturday, March 14, 2020

A Crash Course on Respiratory Health

by Dr. Iva Lloyd, ND

We recognize the distress that the COVID-19 crisis is causing many people.  We do hope that you and your loved ones are safe, healthy and following the advise from public health officials.  Is there reason for concern - Yes.  Is there reason for panic - No.  Often the difference between the two is information and reason.  I hope the information below provides you with both.

There are five main aspects of healthcare to address which includes:
  1. Health Promotion / Healthy Lifestyle
  2. Prevention
  3. Self Isolation / Quarantine Recommendations
  4. Supportive Care
  5. Recovery
To understand what is required for each of these steps we have to look at what we currently know.  The World Health Organization (WHO) has over 325 clinical trials going on with respect to COVID-19.  The results of these studies will help guide every aspect of how this virus is managed. It is also important to keep in mind that our understanding of this virus is growing and changing daily.

What Is The Risk

  • The reason for concern is that the COVID-19 virus has a higher mortality rate than the seasonal flu.  It is also spreading  significantly faster than the seasonal flu. 
  • It is important to keep in mind that ONLY about 6% of people that get COVID-19 experience significant symptoms - which means that 94% of individuals that get the virus will have mild symptoms.
  • Of the 6% that have significant symptoms, 50% are recovering when they receive proper medical treatment.
  • We also know that when someone has severe symptoms it is important that they get oxygen and medical care quickly.

  • According to the current research, the people at greatest risk are those over 70 years of age AND that have compromised immune function, diabetes and/or hypertension or cardiovascular disease.  
  • Children and young people may be carriers, but they do not appear to be overly affected by this virus.
  • Studies have also showing that in pregnant women that are affected with COVID-19, their newborns are not being affected.
  • Research is suggesting that the warmer weather may actually decrease the spread of the virus.

  • How COVID-19 is approached depends on addressing both factors - the virus and its impact to lung function, especially as it relates to oxygen carrying capacity.

    Health Promotion / Healthy Lifestyle

    From a naturopathic perspective the impact to health of any infection depends on two things - the first is susceptibility and the second is exposure.  Health promotion is about adopting a healthy lifestyle which contributes to decreased susceptibility.  The one thing that this current crisis has reminded us is the importance of choosing a healthy lifestyle.  The following guidelines may be beneficial in supporting overall health. For specific recommendations it is important to work with your naturopathic practitioner or medically trained health care practitioner.
    • Stay hydrated: Ensure adequate hydration. It is important to drink healthy fluids throughout the day.
    • Clean balanced diet: Limit known food intolerances; ensure balanced nutrition including lean protein, vegetables and whole grains; and limit foods that contribute to mucous (such as excess bread, dairy, yeast and bananas).  Limit processed food and foods high in salt and sugar.
    • Spices: Many warming spices have anti-microbial and anti-viral properties. Spices such as garlic, ginger, thyme, oregano and sage are easily added to teas and food dishes. 
    • Sleep: Ensure adequate sleep. When you have symptoms of a cold or flu it is common to require more sleep.
    • Stress Management. Reduce and manage stress.  Immune function and breathing are closely linked to stress. Focusing on stress reduction techniques are always beneficial.
    • Indoor pollutants. Address indoor pollutants such as mold as they can worsen lung related illnesses.
    • Avoid smoking. Smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke can increase your susceptibility of lung-related illnesses.
    • Exercise: Moderate exercise enhances immune function and lowers the risk of respiratory infections. Intensive exercise can suppress normal immune reactions and is best avoided if unwell.


    Prevention is about decreasing exposure. In the last few weeks we have all had a crash course on hygiene and preventive measures.  According to the CDC, we are still learning about how this specific virus is transmitted.  The main preventative steps (taken partly from the World Naturopathic Federations's Update) include:
    • Greeting Someone: When greeting someone (yes, even children!) is it important to keep distance.  Instead of hugging, kissing or shaking hands, use an elbow bump or acknowledge with a nod or a slight bow. 
    • Hygiene: Wash your hands often with soap and water. Always wash your hands before preparing food and before eating. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands. Use your knuckle to touch light switches, elevator buttons, etc.  Open doors with your closed fist or hip - do not grasp the handle with your hand, unless there is no other way to open the door - or use a paper towel or wipe when touching public surfaces.
    • Cough hygiene: Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands. If you don’t have a tissue, it is better to cough into your shirt sleeve; not your hands and always wash your hands after coughing or sneezing.
    • Food hygiene: Avoid sharing water, food, or products (glasses, cutlery, hygiene products) with someone who has a respiratory infection.
    • Clean surfaces: Whether grocery shopping, flying or exposed to something new, clean and disinfect all objects and surfaces that you touch. 
    • Avoidance: Avoid close contact with people who are sick. If you have a cold or flu stay home to limit your risk of spreading the infection to other and to support the healing process. Avoid large crowds when the risk is high. If you choose to wear a mask, choose a mask that covers both your nose and mouth.

    Self-Isolation / Home Quarantine

    With the aim of containing the virus, governments are increasingly encouraging self-isolation or home quarantine for individuals that have symptoms, have traveled to high risk areas or where the rate of infection is high.  It is important to follow the guidelines of your region.   For information on self-isolation guidelines here is the link from Canadian Ministry of Health.  The focus of this blog is on how to maximize health while at home. 

    First and foremost, if you have symptoms it is important to call your local Public Health authority.  Here is the link with the numbers. 

    If you are at home I encourage you to take it as an opportunity for some self-care for you and your loved ones.  I encourage you to review the health promotion guidelines listed above and the supportive treatment guidelines listed below.

    Supportive Care

    There is no current treatment specifically for COVID-19.  As stated above there are over 325 clinical trials that are in progress.  They include the use of Intravenous Vitamin C, different herbal formulation and other natural therapies. We will let you know the outcome of those trials as they become available.

    Although the large majority of people will have mild symptoms, it is important that anyone with significant symptoms (fever, shortness of breath, strong cough) notify Public Health and follow their guidelines.

    If your symptoms are mild, to accompany the recommendations from Public Health, naturopathic supportive care may include addressing immune and respiratory function, especially as it relates to oxygen carrying capacity. As with any condition it is always best to talk with your naturopathic doctor or health practitioner to determine what is best for you specifically, but some general recommendations include:

    • The importance of food when supporting health can not be overstated.  It is always an important aspect to staying and achieving healthy.  Increase foods high in oxygen and nutrients, which includes fruits and vegetables. Dark green leafy vegetables are a great source of oxygen.  Fruits and vegetables also have the vitamins and minerals needed to support healthy blood formation.  Specific foods that may be helpful include spinach, kale, broccoli, sprouts, berries and citrus fruits, watermelon, sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, avocado, fresh fish, onions, garlic, ginger, cinnamon and turmeric.
    • Reducing alcohol, sugar and refined foods would be advised.
    • As this virus affects lung capacity, avoiding foods such as dairy, wheat, yeast, bananas would be beneficial.  If you are aware of any specific foods that cause you mucous or other symptoms, it would be beneficial to avoid them at this time.
    • Stay hydrated.  Water carries oxygen to the cells. Increasing the intake of healthy fluids (water, green drinks, vegetable juices) may be beneficial.
    • Regular exercise.  Take the time to exercise everyday.  Walking is ideal. Focus on exercises that support cardiovascular system.  
    • Spend time outside (if not in isolation). On a nice day, go for a gentle walk outside.  Spending time in nature is beneficial to the immune system, the respiratory system and can help decrease stress.
    • Stay calm.  This too will pass!!  Practice deep breathing, relaxation, meditation and other exercises focused on stress reduction.
    • There is some indication that reducing your exposure to Wifi may also be beneficial in supporting overall health. For further information on wireless technology, check out my blog on Wireless Technology - 5 Safety Tips.

    Other supportive therapies for immune or respiratory health or to assist in managing the stress associated with this crises such as:
    • Nutraceuticals that help support oxygen carrying capacity of the lungs such as Chlorophyll or NAC.
    • Herbs specific for the immune and/or respiratory function such as Cordyceps, Ginkgo biloba, Ashwaganda
    • Vitamins such as Vitamin A, B, C or D
    • Mineral supplementation such as zinc lozengers
    • Tissue salts, essential oils and /or homeopathics may also be beneficial for some individuals


    Ensuring that you recover from any acute infection is always important, and often overlooked.  The steps to recovery include those of a healthy lifestyle and include individualized recommendations outlined in the supportive treatments section above.

    It is always best to work with your Naturopathic Doctor or other trained health care provider to ensure that you fully recover from any acute illness.

    When everything is said and done the best advise is to be diligent, informed and reasonable.  Understand your personal risk.  Take steps to stay healthy.  If you have symptoms act quickly and follow the guidelines in your local area.

    Remember that Canada has a very strong health care system.  It also have a lot of open spaces and access to healthy foods.  As new information becomes available we will share it with you.

    If you have any questions please call to book with one of our Naturopathic Doctors.

    Please remember, if you have symptoms or suspect you have COVID-19, please contact your local Public Health authority.  

    Friday, March 6, 2020

    Everything you need to know about protein

    By Dr. Ann-Marie Regina, ND

    What does it mean to eat enough protein? Getting enough protein in your diet can be challenging for some people. Your needs change based on your age, sex, health conditions, weight and how much you exercise. But the bottom line is, you need protein. Without it, life would not be sustainable. Unfortunately, it's not as simple as just having a protein shake or a peanut butter sandwhich. All protein sources are not the same. What really matters when it comes to protein is the amino acid profile, so not just the total protein content. Of the 20 amino acids, 9 are essential meaning that your body cannot synthesize them. Therefore they must be consumed through food. The other 11 are non-essential amino acids can be made by the body. Animal based proteins will have all the amino acids needed for life. If you consume meat regularly the major concerns would be more related to quality, variety and amount of total protein intake. Plant based protein can be an important part of the overall protein  in your diet, but they lack some key amino acids. This means that your diet must be able to provide the rest. In short, protein can get complicated.

    Benefits of Protein 

    Function in the Body. Protein is used in the body to support the immune system in antibody production. Skeletal muscle is composed of protein and dietary intake of protein will maintain strength and prevent wasting. This is especially necessary in the elderly and paediatric population, but is beneficial for those looking to gain muscle mass from exercise. Protein is also used in the body to carry and make hormones, maintains cellular health, is a necessary building block for bone, cartilage, skin, blood and enzymes. So a deficiency in protein can negatively impact a wide range of processes in the body.  

    Essential Nutrients in Protein. Protein from meat also contains iron, B12 and vitamin D and other vitamins & minerals necessary for health. Deficiencies in any of the above can result in weakness, fatigue, depression and increase risk of other diseases. If you are on a vegetarian or vegan diet, testing these vitamins every 6 months is important to see if you need further dietary support and supplementation.  

    Protein for Weight Loss. Protein is also used in the body to maintain a healthy weight and lose excess weight. When you eat anything, your body actually uses energy and burns calories to break down your food. This is called the thermic effect of food. Your body burns more energy digesting protein than it does with carbohydrates and fats. However, increasing protein in the diet has a negligible effect on actual calories burned. But, increasing protein can result in weight loss in other ways. 

    Satiety. Protein keeps you feeling full, meaning that if you eat enough of it you shouldn't feel the need to snack or overeat. Overeating itself can be a sign that you may not be getting enough protein. When there is a lack of protein or amino acids in the diet, your body will tell you to eat to reach your protein goal. If you are vegetarian or vegan, it can be difficult to reach an adequate amount of necessary protein, resulting in the potential to overeat carbohydrates or other foods to attempt to satisfy your needs. Unfortunately, you may not reach those goals even with overeating. Remember, protein intake is really about the amino acids. 


    Your Health Conditions. Part of the job of the kidneys are to filter and reabsorb protein. If you have damaged kidneys, your protein intake should be monitored. A high protein diet can accelerate kidney damage. If you have healthy kidneys, no need to worry. Having your kidney parameters tested yearly is recommended and more frequently if you have diagnosed kidney disease. Liver diseases will also result in difficulty digesting protein and filtering their by-products like ammonia. If you have liver disease make sure you speak with a naturopathic doctor or other medical professional about how much protein you should be having. 

    Acidity. Chronic consumption of acidic foods such as red meat, coffee and carbonated drinks can result in changes to body pH. Short term the kidneys work to neutralize the acidity. But long term your bones release calcium and other important building blocks for bone health to neutralize the acidity created. This can lead to osteopenia and osteoporosis in the future which increases risks of fractures and breaks. 

    Quality. The quality of the protein you consume is critical achieving a healthy lifestyle. Processed meats are high in salt and nitrates which are carcinogenic and pro-inflammatory and should be avoided. Favouring organic, antibiotic free, grass fed and hormone free meats are preferable as they are less likely to disrupt the natural processes of your body. Again, not every protein source is the same. The protein you get from homemade chicken legs will be different than the chicken you get from Mcdonalds. 

    Variety & Balance. Eating a variety of protein sources will ensure that you are having all the amino acids and nutrients needed for health. It will also decrease risk of developing food sensitivities. Rotating your protein sources between fish, poultry, dairy, beans paired with complex carbohydrates, nuts &  seeds, other plant based sources and red meat will keep you satisfied and healthy. Ideally, at least one of your protein sources will be from an animal product each day. But if you are vegetarian or vegan it is still possible to get all your amino acids, it will just be more challenging. Remember, a healthy diet contains a balance of vegetables, fruits and carbohydrates as well as protein. 

    Your Protein Needs

    Individual protein needs are based on your weight, exercise level, sex and health concerns. Your protein intake will also vary depending on goals such as maintaining muscle mass, gaining muscle mass or loosing fat. In order to calculate and meet your specific protein requirements, it is important to seek help from your naturopathic doctor. Naturopathic doctors have the ability to incorporate your health concerns with your goals and provide you with the tools to succeed. You don't have to guess when it comes to your health care. If you are unsure about what your body needs, seek the help you deserve.

    Dr. Ann-Marie Regina, ND focuses on optimizing digestion and providing individualized nutritional counselling. She works with patients to make healthy lifestyle choices that are specific to them. Dr. Ann-Marie is now offering 30 minute nutritional consults focused solely on creating sustainable and effective dietary adjustments that address your concerns. During the nutritional counselling visits, Dr. Ann-Marie will assess your nutrition & diet with an assessment tool, review weekly food diary and provide meal plans if necessary. The assessment will also take your health concerns, activity level, hormones, food intolerances, age and sex into consideration. Most importantly, nutritional consults provide the support and education that will allow you to establish an eating regime that works for you that you can maintain long term.

    To address your digestive concerns, please call the clinic at 905-940-2727 to book an appointment with Dr. Ann-Marie Regina, ND or to schedule a complimentary 15 minute "meet and greet."

    Saturday, February 29, 2020

    Common Weight Loss Myths Busted

    By: Dr. Jessica Nesbitt, ND, CFMP

    Weight loss advice is so common (and contentious) these days. There are competing opinions everywhere. 

    I say, forget about "who's right" and let's focus on "what's right." Because what gets results is what I'm focusing on in this post.

    There are too many weight loss myths out there. I’m going to tackle the top ones I come across in my practice.

    Myth 1: Calories cause weight gain, and fewer calories are the path to weight loss

    Calories are important for weight loss. If you eat and absorb a ton more than you use, then your body’s wisdom will store some for later. Calories matter.  But, they are not the “be-all and end-all" of weight loss; they're important, but they're the symptom, not the cause. Let's think about the reasons people eat more calories. Let's focus on the causes.

    Often times people eat too many calories, not because they're hungry, but because they feel sad, lonely, or bored. Or maybe because they are tired or stressed. Or maybe even because they're happy and celebrating.  And all these feelings interact with our gastrointestinal, nervous and hormonal systems; all of which influence our calorie intake.

    Myth 2: “Eat less move more” is good advice

    Well, then we're all in tip-top shape, right? Because people have been doling out this advice (myth) for years.  The premise of this is based on the above myth that calories in minus calories out equals your weight. So, eat fewer calories, and burn off more calories (because human physiology is a simple math equation, right?).

    Even if people can happily and sustainably follow this advice (which they can’t!); it completely negates other factors that contribute to weight problems. Things like the causes of overeating we mentioned above. Not to mention our genetics, health conditions we're dealing with or our exposure to compounds that are "obesogenic.”

    Myth 3: A calorie is a calorie

    Can we please put this one to bed already?

    Science has confirmed several caloric components of food differ from others. For example, the “thermic effect of food” (TEF) is that some nutrients require calories to be metabolized. They can slightly increase your metabolism, just by eating them.  For example, when you metabolize protein you burn more calories than when you metabolize carbohydrates. Proteins and carbohydrates both have 4 calories/gram; but, the TEF of protein = 15–30%; and the TEF for carbohydrates = 5–10%.

    Here’s another example of a calorie not being a calorie. Different fats are metabolized differently. Medium chain triglycerides (fats) (MCTs) have the same 9 calories/gram that other fats do; but, they're metabolized by the liver before getting into the bloodstream and therefore aren't utilized or stored the same way as other fats.

    Myth 4: Buy this supplement/tea/food/magic potion to lose weight

    There is no magic pill for weight loss. No supplement, tea, food, or other potion will do the trick.

    There are products that make these claims, and they're full of garbage (or shall I say "marketing gold?"). The only thing you will lose is your money (and possibly your hope). So, please don’t believe this myth. There is a reason most people who lose weight can’t keep it off. The real magic is in adopting a sustainable holistic and healthy approach to living your life. What you need is a long-term lifestyle makeover, not a product.


    Weight loss can be challenging!  But, it doesn't have to be.

    In my practice I help motivated women and men that want to work from a root cause perspective. They are interested in investigating the real cause for their weight gain, or their inability to drop excess weight. Several areas that we explore to develop an individualized treatment plan are;
    1. Mindset, emotional state and stress reduction techniques 
    2. Toxic load the body is carrying
    3. Healthy metabolism
    4. Hormonal Imbalance
    5. Food Sensitivities
    6. Gut Health
    If you or someone you know is looking to not only drop some excess weight but have an increase in energy I invite you email me at for more information or call reception at 905.940.2727 to book your appointment today!!

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    Saturday, February 15, 2020

    Beat Winter Lethargy with Ayurveda

    Have you every wondered why it’s hard to feel energized in the winter? Do you make excuses to avoid the gym or to avoid stepping out?

    There are certain reasons why you might be feeling lethargic and slow in the winter. According to Ayurveda, an ancient system of wellness, the forces and principles found in nature also exist in humans.  For example, when it is cold outside, you feel cold more easily.  If you pay attention to your body, you will notice that you feel different during the various seasons. You might notice that health issues resurface more in one season than another, or you might notice that you feel more energetic in the spring than in the summer.

    Ayurveda outlines three fundamental energies (doshas) that govern the outer environment and influence one’s physical and mental constitution: vata, pitta and kapha. In the winter season, kapha is dominant, characterized with these qualities: cool, slow, heavy, stable and soft. These qualities exist in nature but also within you, influencing your body and mind. You are more likely to feel the qualities of accumulating kapha during the winter which may manifest in different ways such as: difficulty getting up in the morning, low energy, low mood and other concerns.

     Signs of Kapha Excess :

    • Lethargy: Do you have difficulty getting out of bed?
    • Dullness: Do you feel like watching TV all evening?
    • Lack of motivation: Do you make excuses to put off exercise?
    • Cold: Do you need to wear lots of layers?
    • Cravings: Do you crave sweet, salty, oily, creamy or heavy food, or bend towards emotional eating?
    • Weight gain: Do you put on weight more easily in winter?
    • Low mood: Do you feel more down, depressed or sad in winter?
    • Respiratory or sinus issues: Do you have a tendency towards coughs, colds, sinus infections?
    If kapha isn’t addressed, it can accumulate and lead to more serious health concerns. Think of it as a leaking faucet – one drop can go unnoticed, but once the bucket is full, it overflows and spreads. This same analogy happens in the body as well. When the first signs of imbalance are noticed, you need to act on it before it turns into a more serious health issue.

     Tips for Balancing Kapha :

    Winter is the time when you need to play a close check on kapha. The good news is that if you take care of balancing kapha, you can prevent winter lethargy and minimize health concerns such as weight gain, low mood and lack of motivation. To restore balance, kapha management is centered around the qualities of warming, drying and lightening. Read below for more tips. 

    • Eat a kapha balancing diet: To beat winter lethargy, avoid foods that are heavy, cold, damp and hard to digest (deep fried food, dairy) and include warm foods that are easier to digest (soups, broths, grilled veggies). Flavours that are spicy, bitter and astringent can help you feel lighter and more energized in winter. Some examples of spices that you can include in your cooking are: turmeric, fenugreek, garlic, ginger, black pepper, thyme, cloves and cinnamon. Speak to your naturopathic doctor to learn more about a customized diet for you in winter.
    • Stay active: Schedule exercise daily - ideally early in the morning to move the stagnant quality of kapha. If you find yourself making excuses to put it off, join an exercise or yoga class that you can commit to, or make a plan with a friend to go together. Once you get moving, you will feel more flexible, energized and you will feel good about it. If you can get moving outdoors, you will have the added benefit of sunshine to boost your vitamin D levels. 
    • Wear bright colours: Winter colours tend to be dark and heavy (brown, grey, black). Notice how you feel with the clothing you are wearing. Adding bright colours into your wardrobe can help you feel more energized and motivated. How do you feel in yellow, orange or red? If you're hesitant about making a bold change to your wardrobe, try adding a splash of colour such as a scarf, a tie, socks, a hat, etc. 
    • Get motivated: This is a good time of the year to start a new project or hobby to help you get motivated. Find something that you are excited about. This is also a great time of the year to plan for the upcoming months and book appointments. For example, putting off your appointments with excuses such as "it's too cold" or "I'll wait until spring to detox", may be further adding to your lethargy.  If you plan your appointments now, you will feel more committed and motivated to stepping out.
    • Declutter: You might be putting off your cleaning until spring, but winter is a good time to change things. You may want to change furniture around to create more space in your home. This helps cut through the dullness you may be experiencing, and remove old baggage from the past as you start the new year. 

    Wellbeing, according to Ayurveda, is a delicate balance between the body, mind, spirit and the environment. If your constitution is dominant in kapha, try making some changes this winter and you will notice more energy and vitality! A kapha diet and lifestyle should be lively, full of energy and stimulation - this is the time to beat winter lethargy, start exercising, wearing bright colours, adding spices to your food and staying warm.

    If you have tried the above tips and are still struggling with health issues such as low mood, weight gain, lack of motivation, it is best that you work with your practitioner to identify your imbalances and treat them. What you should eat and when you should eat, along with daily routine suggestions and therapies, can all be customized based on your unique constitution. Maintaining balance is essential to feeling healthy and enjoying the winter season!

    Dr. Leena Athparia is a naturopathic doctor with advanced training in Ayurveda and can help you identify your constitution to guide you on a customized health plan – whether you have specific health concerns or just want to promote general wellness. Please contact Naturopathic Foundations Health Clinic at 905-940-2727 to book an appointment.