Thursday, January 30, 2020

Healthy Habits to Relieve Constipation

By Dr. Ann-Marie Regina, ND

Are you feeling backed up? Bloated? In pain? Constipation can be caused by a number of different concerns. Your body excretes stool for a reason and when the bowels become sluggish health issues can arise. Reabsorption of hormones occur in the large intestine and if bowels are not emptied regularly, this can result in estrogen imbalances. Further, toxins  are processed first through the liver and can become water or fat soluble. Fat soluble toxins are typically eliminated through the bowels.  Toxins such as heavy metals, environmental chemicals, pathogens (viruses, bacteria, fungi) that can be eliminated  through the bowels are also being reabsorbed when there is constipation. The importance of understanding why routes of elimination are not functioning optimally, is integral to overall health.

Repercussions of Constipation

  • Abdominal pain
  • Gas & Bloating
  • Haemorrhoids 
  • Hernia 
  • Varicose Veins 
  • Hormonal Imbalances
  • Intestinal obstruction
  • Acne, Psoariasis & Eczema 
  • Intestinal inflammation
  • Exacerbations of existing symptoms & conditions  

Healthy Habits to Get the Bowels Moving

1. Drink Water! Water is essential for lubricating and hydrating the bowels. If you find yourself straining or having small, incomplete stools you may be dehydrated. Begin each day with a glass of warm or room temperature water to get your bowels moving. 

2. Healthy Fats & Oils. Healthy fats and oils such as olive oil, coconut oil, grass fed butter, nut butters, avocado's will also help to hydrate the digestive tract and get things moving.

3.  Eat Your Fibre! Fibre helps to stimulate stretch receptors in the digestive tract that result in bowel movements. Not all fibre is the same. Ideally majority of fibre will come from vegetables, complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, and to a lesser extent fruit. Avoid processed cereals & grains and dried fruit to stimulate bowel movements on a regular basis. 

4. Eliminate Food Sensitivities. Underlying food sensitivities can result in inflammation in the gut and the whole body. One of the symptoms that they can cause is inflammation among other things. Ask your naturopathic doctor about food sensitivity testing

5.  Eliminate Damp Forming Foods. Foods such as dairy and sugar can result in inflammation in the gut leading to constipation. In Chinese medicine, such foods are termed damp forming. They are difficult to eliminate and slow digestion. A sign that you may be eating too many damp forming foods is when stool stains the toilet bowl. 

6. Manage Emotions. Emotions such as anxiety, depression and stress can result in constipation, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and aggravate other digestive conditions. Your digestive system slows down during stress as the fight or flight response becomes triggered and shunts resources to the muscles rather than focusing on digestion. Further, the large intestine functions to emotionally and physically "let go" meaning, if you are emotionally constipated, that can cause physical constipation as well. 

7. Movement. Lack of physical exercise can result in sluggish digestion. Exercise helps to stimulate food to move quicker through the digestive tract improving constipation. 

8. Optimizing Sleep. When sleep is off, everything in the body can become dysregulated including digestion. Sleep allows for the body to restore and regenerate. If sleep is a chronic issue, symptoms such as blood sugar dysregulation, weight gain, appetite hormone imbalances and heart burn can occur and contribute to constipation.

9. Eating Whole Foods. Eating a whole foods diet will maximize good quality foods and reduce processed foods. Processed foods contain less nutrients that are important for healthy bowel function, and typically are full of additives that result in inflammation in the gut and the rest of the body.

10. Avoid Snacking! Snacking between meals can slow down the body's natural flushing system. A system of nerves called the migrating motor complex (MMC) found throughout the digestive tract functions during a fasted state. The MMC stimulates the bowels to flush things out, but again it can only function when food hasn't been eaten for about 3-4 hours. If you find yourself constantly snacking, this can be contributing to constipation. 

Why Consider Individualized Care For Constipation?

The basics listed above can be very helpful for relieving constipation, but everyone is unique and has a different health history. Factors such as medications, health conditions such as diabetes, liver congestion, insomnia, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), IBS, stress, anxiety, depression and others can result in constipation and are treated differently. It is important to find the root cause of your constipation as that will be a much more sustainable and effective treatment. Using things such as stimulating laxatives everyday to ensure bowel movements can result in dehydration and dependancy. And without a proper assessment from a health care provider, it can be dangerous to self treat. Naturopathic doctors can provide other treatment options such as herbal formulations, acupuncture, cupping, homeopathics and dietary counselling if indicated to reduce constipation. 

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."

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

The Naturopathic way to get rid of PMS

Dr. Jessica Nesbitt, ND, CFMP

Symptoms such as cramping, breast tenderness, bloating, mood swings, headaches, changes in bowel movements, anxiety and fatigue are not only annoying, they are often debilitating. 

More importantly, they are not normal and you don’t need to suffer every month.

In my practice I see many women who go through their reproductive years accepting PMS symptoms as “normal”.  Some of these women have tried medications only to find that once the medication is stopped the symptoms return or worse, their cycle stops altogether.  Birth control seems to be the number one-go to for just about any variation of “normal” related to female hormones. If symptom relief is the number one goal, birth control can help some women.  My number one concern with using a hormonal birth control pill is that it does not correct the underlying imbalance. Additionally, over time these hormonal imbalances may make it difficult to become pregnant, cause hair loss, weight gain, changes to mood and headaches.
PMS is a sign of  hormone imbalance and a full work up is needed to determine the root cause of your imbalance.  The two main hormones associated with PMS are estrogen and progesterone. I encourage my patients to test these hormones either through blood, urine or saliva testing in order to get an accurate picture to guide an effective personalized treatment protocol. Common factors that I have found that can influence hormones and contribute to PMS are: a diet high in sugar, simple carbohydrates, non-organic meats, dairy products, caffeine and alcohol. All of which can contribute to hormone imbalances. A diet that is high in healthy fats, clean protein, plenty of vegetables (especially the green leafy kind) and loads of fiber help to balance hormones.  Another factor that need to be considered is the effect of environmental pollutants.  One of the fundamental things I ask my patients to do is evaluate the ingredients in their skin care, make-up, hair products, deodorant and perfumes to ensure that there are no hormone disrupting chemicals in them.  
Other factors such as lack of daily physical movement and lack of daily bowel movement allow for estrogen to be recycled into your blood stream. Drinking alcohol over time may impair your liver’s ability to metabolize estrogen, all of which, again, keep your hormones imbalanced.
When working with my patients to restore hormonal balance and eliminate PMS, I start by reducing symptoms while at the same time looking to find the individualized root cause. These changes are pretty simple and after two to three cycles you should notice an improvement in your symptoms. 

Research has shown several natural agents such as ginger (PMID:31777743, PMID:2617793) help to decrease pain and cramping in students aged 18-25 years of age.  In another study (PMID:2349410) magnesium was shown to have a therapeutic effect on lower abdominal pain and back pain on the second and third day of menses, while also reducing the number of missed days from work due to cramping.

When you are constantly in that “fight or flight” mode because of stress, your adrenal glands will produce cortisol and adrenaline. While this is a healthy and normal process, the issue is, that in order to make cortisol, your adrenal glands need progesterone. When progesterone is down and cortisol is up, you will likely see increased weight gain around the mid-section, breast tenderness, difficulty sleeping, anxiety, painful periods and weepiness.
There is no need to stress about your stress! To read my article about nine ways to break free from stress, click here.

When working with women who are dealing with PMS, my goal is to provide individualized and comprehensive care. This means that I will do a full intake, looking not only at hormones but also addressing lifestyle factors such as sleep habits, diet, stress management and other organ systems such as the liver and gut, all of which can impact hormonal health. 

If you know someone who is suffering needlessly from PMS, please share this article with them or  invite them to schedule their complimentary 15 min consult with me to learn more about how I can help them stop their monthly suffering.

Agni (Digestive Fire) - How Is Yours?

Agni is known as the 'digestive fire' according to Ayurveda - it is the basis of all major functions in the body and is the foundation for health. Agni is what allows us to process nutrients from food while burning off waste products. Digestion is important and elimination of waste is equally as crucial to maintain health.

Agni refers to the principle of processing food, in addition to processing experiences, memories, emotions and sensory impressions. We not only physically digest our food, but we need to "digest" and process our experiences on a daily basis.

In an Ayurvedic assessment, your state of agni is assessed and treated accordingly. When agni is unbalanced, digestion weakens, toxins linger in the body, illness takes a hold and vitality diminishes. Balanced agni is essential for well being !

According to Ayurveda, we are each born with a different constitution - our tendencies in our agni is based on our constitution, as well as environmental and lifestyle factors such as climate, daily routine and the food we eat. Below are the four major types of agni and tips on how to help balance your agni:

Vishama Agni: irregular metabolism 

Often associated with excess vata, vishama agni is erratic with digestive patterns that alternate between fast and slow.  This may be evident in conditions such as IBS, diarrhea, constipation (or alternating between the two), gas and rumbling in the abdomen.  Appetite may be irregular and elimination may be irregular.

How to Balance Vishama agni:

  • Establish routine: regular meal times & avoid overeating in one sitting
  • A pinch of cumin and rock salt can be ground and chewed before meals 
  • Add spices such as ginger and black pepper in the diet
  • Vata care if present in your constitution (Vata pacifying diet & lifestyle)
  • Regular abhyangas or Ayurvedic massage
  • Herbs such as Triphala (dosage and timings should be customized by your practitioner)

Manda Agni: slow metabolism 

Often associated with excess Kapha, manda agni indicates slow, sluggish digestion. Only small meals can be eaten, and undigested food sits in the stomach and intestines leading to heaviness in the body and mind.  There may be associated kapha conditions such frequent colds & coughs, mucous, congestion, swelling, lymph congestion, oversalivation, excess weight, cold clammy skin etc. A thick white coat may be observed on the tongue first thing in the morning.

How to Balance Manda agni: 

  • Tongue scraping in the morning
  • Practise yoga that is invigorating and rejuvenating (surya namaskar, hatha yoga)
  • Chew on fresh ginger before meals to stimulate agni
  • Use spices such as cinnamon, clove, fenugreek, ginger
  • Prepare food that is colourful, fresh and pleasing to all the senses
  • Focus on 2-3 main meals a day: avoid snacking and make lunch the largest meal
  • Kapha care if present in your constitution (Kapha pacifying diet & lifestyle)

Tikshna Agni: fast metabolism

Often associated with excess Pitta, tikshna agni is when digestion is too strong and fast.  Appetite may be insatiable, desiring large amounts of food which may pass too quickly through the digestive tract. Symptoms may include burning sensations, acid reflux, diarrhea, hot flashes, inflammation and low energy.

How to Balance Tikshna Agni:

  • Follow a Pitta pacifying diet
  • Avoid pungent spices such as garlic, chili and stimulants such as caffeine and alcohol
  • Incorporate cooling foods and spices such as cumin, fennel, coriander, mint, dill etc.
  • Drink lassi (Indian buttermilk) after meals - customize with spices suiting your constitution
  • Herbs such as amla, licorice and aloe juice can be beneficial for Pitta balancing
  • Meditation and rejuvenating yoga to balance and calm the system

Sama Agni: the balanced state 

When agni is balanced, you can enjoy healthy digestion and a clear state of mind. Individuals with sama agni can digest a reasonable amount of food in any season and enjoy balanced digestion, absorption and assimilation of nutrients along with a strong immune system and happiness in their lives.  They are also able to process and handle new situations, experiences and emotions with strength and balance. Unfortunately in our modern lifestyle, sama agni is rare : processed food, erratic & high-paced lives throw agni off balance very easily.  However, the earlier an imbalance in agni is detected, the easier it is to correct with ayurvedic guidance. 

Agni is the key to health. It is the force that processes your food, emotions and experiences. The four varieties of agni help you identify a healthy balanced state of agni versus factors that throw your agni off balance. It is important to understand that each individual will have a unique set of symptoms and need a customized approach to balancing agni. In an Ayurvedic assessment, state of agni is determined by looking at the tongue, pulse, abdomen and other key observations in the consultation. Yoga, meditation, wholesome food and state of mind, balance between work and life, relaxation and spending time with friends and loved ones can help keep agni strong through the winter months!

Dr. Leena Athparia is a Naturopathic doctor & Ayurvedic practitioner at Naturopathic Foundations. 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.

Osteopathy For Concussions

By: Darryl Gomes  R. Kin., CAT(C), DOMP, D.Sc.O.

Concussions are often associated with contact sports, due to the forces transmitted between players during a game. As an assistant athletic therapist at Seneca College for 8 years, I treated my fair share of athletes with concussions. It was easily the most frustrating injury to treat, because it was hard to predict when an athlete would be ready to return to their sport.

As an osteopath who treats more of the general public, I am also treating individuals who suffer from concussions in non-sports related manners. Is this surprising? Not really. Concussions can happen at anytime to anyone, and not just athletes. Whether you slip on the ice and hit your head on the ground, bump your head on the lid of your car's trunk or were involved in a car crash, you may have received a concussion.

What Exactly is a Concussion?

A concussion is a traumatic brain injury induced by biomechanical forces (Soomro, Withall, Cohen & Turner, 2018).

Do I Have to Hit My Head to Get a Concussion?

The answer is no. For example, getting rear ended in your car can cause whiplash. The head can move violently forwards and backwards, which causes the brain to impact the inside of the skull which can cause a concussion. Falling on your butt can also cause a concussion, as the force of the impact can travel from the pelvis, up the spine to the head where the brain can impact the skull.

What is Involved with Treating a Concussion Osteopathically?
There are a few areas of the body that I have to assess when treating a person for concussions:
  • Treating the cranium/head is of utmost importance. Your head is made up of 22 bones: 8 cranial bones and 14 facial bones (Anderson & Al Kharazi, 2019). The bones act as a protective case for your brain, and provide attachment sites for the muscles that control the head and face movements. Additionally, the vasculature (blood vessels) and nerves travel along and through various parts of the cranial and facial bones that distribute blood and neurological signals between the brain and various parts of the body. The bones, muscles and vasculature need to work together in order to maintain the health of your brain and body.
  • The entire spine (not just the neck) needs to be assessed for misalignments. Outside of the pain an individual feels in their spine from direct trauma, the spine needs proper alignment in order to maintain the neurological signals to the muscles/organs/glands that they innervate. 
  • The muscles need to be treated in order to remove the muscle spasms that develop from whiplash. The neck is the area where most of the muscles are injured in concussions, but the upper back is also important in maintaining the alignment and support of the neck.
  • The eyes need to be treated, as visual deficits can occur from concussions. Injuries to the occipital lobe of the brain (located at the back of your skull) can affect vision, because this part of the brain is responsible for controlling vision. Also, the muscles that control the eyes are innervated by various cranial nerves. Therefore, eye function can be affected by injuries to the brain. Additionally, the eye muscles need to be working properly (just like any other muscles in your body) in order to work efficiently.

  • The pelvis needs to be centred and balanced, as the sacrum represents the bottom of the spine. Pelvic problems can potentially anchor the sacrum, which can have a direct effect on the top of the spine, which is where your brain is located. 
  • There are other areas of the body that would also need to be treated, and that is usually dependent on the various conditions a person has. However, this is a general outline as to how concussion treatments work osteopathically.

Are There Exercises I Can Do to Get Better?

Yes, there certainly are. The exercises I give help to reinforce the areas that are being treated. For example:
  • Neck exercises: various stretches and strengthening of the neck need to be performed in order to give it better support
  • Upper back exercises: in conjunction with the neck muscles, a lot of the upper back muscles help to stabilize the neck
  • Core exercises: stabilizing the pelvis and lower back requires a person to do Kegel exercises along with stabilizing their TVA (transverse abdominus) muscles before performing things such as planks and bridging
  • Eye exercises: a series of specific tracking and other visual tasks are given in order to improve the eye muscles and overall visual field perception
  • Cardiovascular exercise is also encouraged, so long as it is done at the right time under the proper conditions

How Do I Know if I Can Return Back to Work?

There is a return to work protocol that I follow, which is very similar to a return to play protocol that is used for athletes returning to their sport. The idea is that you gradually get a person doing things (whether it's reading/writing/typing on a computer) a little bit at a time over a few days to see how their body handles the tasks. If the person gets no symptoms, then they can potentially do more tasks for longer. If they experience symptom flare ups, then either their rest time is increased or some tasks are scaled down or removed. A modified schedule can help a person to integrate back into their regular work schedule. For example, working shorter days (say 4 hours) followed by a day off is ideal for allowing the brain and body to acclimate. Eventually, a person can work back up to their regular shifts. This is a general outline, but would be made more specific for every person.

If someone is experiencing concussions symptoms that linger for a long time, I will recommend the person follows up with a certified sports medicine physician. Sports doctors are trained to assess concussions and can determine if any medical imaging or other strategies need to be implemented.

Ultimately, a person has to be able to perform at their pre-concussion abilities without any lingering symptoms in order for them to be healed from their concussion.

If I Get a Concussion, When Should I Come and See You?

The sooner you can come in, the sooner we can start treatment and implement some strategies for your recovery. If you are experiencing symptoms, you should get someone to drive you to the clinic for safety reasons.

If you have any questions about how osteopathy can help you, call the clinic at 905-940-2727 to book a free 15 minute consultation or email me at:

Feel free to share this blog with someone you know!

Stay active!!


Anderson, B. W., & Al Kharazi, K. A. (2019). Anatomy, Head and Neck, Skull. StatPearls. StarPearls Publishing.

Soomro, M., Withall, A., Cohen, A., & Turner, R. (2018). The evolving definition of Concussion over time. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 21, S96.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

New Year ... New You?

By: Darryl Gomes  R. Kin., CAT(C), D.O.M.P., D.Sc.O.

Happy 2020 to all of you!!
Image result for gandhi your thoughts become your beliefs

Another year has come and gone. The beginning of the year represents a time for change and renewal. The quote by Mahatma Gandhi is a good way to implement change in your lives:

It takes a lot of willpower and time to cease the old habits and implement the new ones. It is ok to "fall off the wagon" ... you just need to get back on. You can fall once or fifty times, keep getting back up. Your body and mind time to adjust to the changes. This is a natural part of change.  Remember, you need to make the change for yourself ... because you want it.

What Do I Focus on to be Healthier?

Mind: This involves taking the time to plan out your day, so you are not rushing around. Taking the time to organize your closet/kitchen/home office can help not only to de-clutter your living space, but can help to de-clutter your mind. Solving crossword puzzles, memory games or pleasure reading are good ways to keep your mind sharp.

Spirit/emotional: Meditation is a great way to not only calm the mind, but it can help to keep your stress levels down, which will help you to become emotionally centered. Religion is also helpful for enriching our spiritual lives. Making the effort to socialize with friends and family (ideally over the phone or face to face) can also give you that emotional lift.

Body: A combination of cardiovascular exercise, weight training and eating the right foods is ideal for getting the body into optimal condition. Treatment to heal acute or chronic problems you are  dealing with is also important.

Besides Working on the Body, How Does Osteopathy Help Me?

The mind, body and spirit are incorporated into every osteopathic treatment. One cannot exist without the others.

Yes, addressing postural problems will allow the body to function optimally, which can reduce a lot of the acute and chronic problems you experience. Pain can prevent us from living our lives the way we want. Therefore, osteopathic treatment can help to remove those physical barriers that stand in our way. However, osteopathic treatment involves looking globally at all aspects of health. 
  • Receiving the right exercises in your sessions is required to maintain corrected postures and muscle imbalances. The body needs that constant reinforcement, via exercises, in order to work efficiently. 
  • An individual needs to be eating the right foods in order to provide the body with the necessary nutrients and fuel the body requires.
  • Understanding that a person has outlets (eg. hobbies/friends they socialize with/counselor they can speak to about private affairs) that keep them going and motivated
  • Sometimes physical problems have emotional components attached to them that need to be released. Whether through trauma (such as a car accident) or the loss of a loved one, our mind and emotions can stunt our bodies ability to function and heal. Often, people will get emotional releases when they receive osteopathic treatment, big or small. These releases need to happen in order to allow for a healthier mind and spirit.
Remember, your body isn't like a car that just needs mechanical/body work performed on it in order to keep running. All aspects of health need to be addressed for true health.

If you have any questions about how osteopathy can help you, call the clinic at 905-940-2727 to book a free 15 minute consultation or email me at:

Stay active!!

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

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:

Achieving Optimal Digestion

By Dr. Ann-Marie Regina, ND

Proper functioning of the digestive system is essential for achieving optimal health. The digestive system is much more then just a place where your food gets broken down and absorbed.

Hormones and enzymes necessary for health are activated during the digestive process. Your digestive system can protect you from infections and detoxify your body from harmful chemicals that are being ingested.

If you experience digestive concerns regularly, you are at risk of developing nutrient & mineral deficiencies, hormone imbalances, increased toxic burden, aggravations of preexisting conditions and the triggering of new symptoms.

Signs and Symptoms of Suboptimal Digestion

The following are some of the typical signs and symptoms experienced when digestion is not functioning optimally:
  • Gas & bloating
  • Abdominal pain
  • Poor appetite 
  • Constipation &/or diarrhea
  • Nausea &/or vomiting
  • Low energy & weakness 
  • Low immunity & frequent colds and flu's
  • Hormone imbalances
  • Anxiety & depression
  • Joint pain & inflammation 
  • Autoimmune conditions 
  • Skin conditions such as acne, eczema or psoriasis 
  • Diabetes 

The Basics for Promoting Healthy Digestion

1. Brain Gut Connection. During times of stress or anxiety, your body shunts blood and resources away from the digestive tract towards your muscles. Your brain perceives that there is a threat and is preparing the body for fight or flight. In this state, when you eat, digestion is not as effective since your body's natural mechanisms for breaking down food is diminished. You can stimulate digestion by relaxing your mind as your gut is connected to your brain by the vagus nerve which promotes rest and relaxation.

You can help your digestion by relaxing before meals and taking deep breaths to soothe the nervous system. Also, take time to smell your food as this stimulates the salivary glads to secrete enzymes that are a part of the digestive process. Lastly, chewing your food adequately helps to break down food and to prevent you from overeating. Overeating can slow down and put stress on digestion, not to mention contribute to excess fat storage in the body. By creating a soothing environment during meals, you can promote healthy digestion.

2. Elimination. An essential aspect of digestion is the elimination of waste. The aim is to ensure proper bowel movements every day.  Constipation leads to the re-absorption of toxins. This can result in symptoms such as gas, bloating and abdominal pain.  It can also lead to hormone dysregulation and other metabolic imbalances.  To address constipation it is important to stay hydrated, and to ensure adequate fats and fibre are part of your diet. Adding healthy oils such as olive oil, avocado, coconut and fish oil to your diet helps to lubricate your digestive tract. Foods high in fibre such as vegetables, psyllium, chia seeds, flaxseeds bulk up stool and stimulate the stretch receptors in your intestines which will trigger a bowel movement.  Fibre in the diet also can bind to excess cholesterol and hormones helping eliminate them from the body.

Conditions such as (but not limited to) hypothyroidism, diverticulitis, leaky gut, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), hypochlorydria (low stomach acid) and irritable bowel syndrome can result in constipation. Speak with your naturopathic doctor if you have any of these conditions as they often require additional treatment recommendations.

3. Healthy Gut Bacteria. The human gastrointestinal tract (GIT) alone contains 10x14 microorganisms including bacteria, viruses and fungi. That's approximately 100 times more bacterial cells than human cells which shows how much of an impact they have on human health. The human GIT provides a home and food for the bacteria and in return the bacteria protect the lining of the gut and regulate your immune system by turning carbohydrates into byproducts that are anti-inflammatory and even anti-cancer. Your gut bacteria also plays a role in regulating blood sugar by promoting insulin release, satiety and reduced gastric emptying. This is just the tip of the iceberg, the microorganisms residing in your digestive tract, have significant impact on your health and disruptions to them can result in a wide host of symptoms. Some factors influencing the state of the microbiome found in your digestive tract include: the type of food you consume as it will also feed the microorganisms, antibiotic use and GIT diseases such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn's, celiac disease and IBS. To mitigate the negative impact of healthy bacteria disruption, follow the three P's: probiotics, prebiotics and polyphenols.

Oral probiotics are live microorganisms supplemented to the GIT that confer the same benefits of the microorganisms already in your gut. There are strain specific probiotics for particular conditions or multi-strain options, but please discuss which is best for you with your naturopathic doctor as your body's needs are individual. Fermented foods such as tempeh, miso, kimchi and sauerkraut are also another source of live microorganisms and are considered to be probiotics as they confer the same benefits to health. Prebiotics are a type of dietary fibre that feed the gut bacteria that are already present and contribute to increasing the abundance of the healthy bacteria. Polyphenols such as flavanols are found in vegetables and fruits. They too will increase the abundance of bacteria with a "health promoting profile" such as Bifidobacteria and lactobacilli. Vegetables and fruits also contain dietary fibre that can also act as prebiotics as well as provide minerals and nutrients that are necessary for optimal health.

To learn more about the gut microbiome here's a link to my blog on "The Gut Microbiome and Health."

Other Considerations

Though the basics are important for maintaining a healthy digestive system, the human body is complex. There are so many factors that can affect your digestion. Your hormones, age, mental health, diet, sleep regiment, health conditions can impact and be impacted by your digestive system so it is also important to address other aspects of health as well. Digestive concerns are not treated the same, for example conditions such as SIBO can be aggravated by probiotics and IBS can be aggravated by prebiotics. Exploring any underlying food sensitivities that stimulate an immune reaction locally in your digestive tract and distally throughout the body can cause many different symptoms and aggravate preexisting conditions. Even environmental exposure to things like heavy metals, plastics, pesticides, antibiotics and hormones in meats, dyes in food and many more can disrupt your digestive health. Naturopathic doctors have the training and medical knowledge to look at your health comprehensively and find the root cause of your concerns, as there are many factors that influence health.

Dr. Ann-Marie Regina, ND focuses on individualized nutritional counselling and helping patients 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 with an assessment tool which investigates your water, protein, fat, starch, vegetable, fruit and fibre intake. The assessment will also take your health concerns, activity level, hormones, food intolerances, age and sex into consideration.

To learn more about nutritional counselling and which foods work best with your body, please call the clinic at 905-940-2727 to book an appointment with Dr. Ann-Marie Regina or to schedule a complimentary 15 minute "meet and greet."

The S.M.A.R.T. way to achieve your health goals in 2020!!

By: Dr. Jessica Nesbitt ND, CFMP 

Happy New Year, and welcome to 2020!!

It’s that time of year again! Time to start thinking about what you want for this new year ahead.

Making New Year's resolutions seems to be the "in" thing to do each year, but do they really work? The answer depends upon how serious you are when you make the resolution. Sometimes it can be hard to settle on just one resolution, which often leads people to make lots of small ones. The problem with this is that it's too difficult to truly focus on so many resolutions, and by the end of January, your motivation will be sorely lacking. 

Many people will set a New Year's resolution that focus on health, wellness and fitness goals.  Today, I want to share with you the SMART system of goal setting, in order to help you stick with your New Year's resolutions and accomplish your health goals.

Why Do We Set a Goal?
Studies show that having a defined goal that you can plan, measure the progress of and eventually achieve gives a sense of accomplishment and raises our self-esteem.

Avoid the Biggest Goal Setting Mistake
The most common goal setting mistake people make is setting a goal but not thinking about how to achieve it. Now that you know that, you can avoid becoming part of the group of people who break their New Year’s resolution! 

The 3 Keys to a Successful New Year’s Resolution:
  1. Clearly defining your goal
  2. Creating an action plan
  3. Measuring your progress

How to Set a SMART Goal
Since its inception in 1981, George T. Doran’s SMART acronym has taken on many different meanings, but the main logic still stands - make goals that you can achieve! Here’s how you do it.

S – Specific
Your goal should be clear and precise so you can focus your energy and efforts on achieving it.  Think about:
  • What you want to achieve
  • Why it’s important to you
  • What resources you’ll need
  • If there are any limits
Thinking about these points will mean the difference between a vague goal like “I want to be healthier” and a specific goal like “I want to increase my daily activity so that I get a clean bill of health at my next physical”. One sets a clear path to get to your end goal.

M – Measurable
You need to track your progress to stay motivated, meet your deadlines, and in the end celebrate achieving your New Year’s resolution! When setting your goal, think about:
  • How will I know I’ve reached my goal?
  • How much or how many?
  • Do I have a way to track this?
Thinking about how you’ll measure success will help you come up with an action plan. For example, if your goal is to walk 10,000 steps a day, you’ll need a pedometer or other way of tracking your steps. Don't forget that many goals can be measured with non-scale victories. If you are wanting to eat cleaner foods you will know that you are on the right track by how much better you sleep, improved digestion, clearer skin, etc. 

A – Attainable
One of the most critical elements of goal setting is being realistic about your abilities and setting an achievable goal for yourself. That doesn’t mean choosing a ridiculously easy target. It means thinking about the following:
  • Do I have the mindset to achieve my goal?
  • Is my goal realistic based on my current situation?
  • Do I have the resources or support needed to achieve my goal?
  • Is this goal directly influenced by me and my actions?

R – Relevant
Choosing a goal that is exciting and relevant to you is important as well. You must be motivated by your target to work towards it. Ask yourself these questions about your goal and see if it’s still relevant to you:
  • Is achieving this goal a worthwhile effort?
  • Is it the right goal for me at this point in time?

T – Time-bound
Finally, you want to make sure you set a deadline to meet your goal. It helps you to plan out how you’ll achieve your goal and set priorities if needed. You want to consider thinking about:
  • When do I want to achieve my goal by?
  • What can I do today to meet my goal?
  • What can I do in the next six months to meet my goal?

Now that we’ve gone through the SMART system let’s look at our starting goal of “I want to be healthier”. After applying the SMART system, a more specific goal might be “I want to lower my blood pressure and cholesterol to recommended levels by August 31st".  "In order to do this, I will walk 10,000 steps a day”.  By using the SMART system, you now know what you’re aiming for and what you need to do to achieve the goal set.

Want Help to Achieve Your Goals?
Weather you want to lose weight, improve your energy, sleep, mood and more in 2020, I can help you make your goal a reality more quickly, easily and effectively than trying to do it alone.  A very common underlying issue that contributes to issues with low energy, sugar cravings, bloating/indigestion, PMS/hormonal imbalance, weight gain and low immunity is an overgrowth of Candida in the intestines. After the holiday season many of my patients take the time to book a Candida Check with me to make sure that their normal healthy levels of Candida have not overgrown from indulging in sweets and alcohol.

If you would like to learn more about Candida you can read my previous blog here. If you are ready to get the New Year off to a fresh start, I invite you to book your 45 minute Candida Check where you will be tested and given a personalized protocol to lower yeast so that you can feel better faster.