Why Use Homeopathy?

why use homeopathy

People often ask me why I focus on the use homeopathy in my practice and what motivates to continue my professional development in this area. The answer to that question is quite simple, “It works.” In my eighteen years of practice, I have yet to witness any supplement or dietary change or combination thereof, to have as profound an impact on a person’s health and well-being as a well selected homeopathic remedy.

Homeopathy is a system of medicine that utilizes the body’s own healing power through a law of cure, termed “Like Cures Like.” This law states that a substance that can produce symptoms in a healthy person will cure similar symptoms in a person who is sick. The therapeutic potential of a substance is explored through giving it in very small amounts to healthy people and a careful analysis is made of its effect on the mind and body of those taking the substance. Thus, the remedy is not so much for a particular disease process as much as it is for a person who expresses disease in a particular pattern. The homeopath’s task is to determine that individual’s pattern of disease expression and then choose a remedy that matches that pattern to bring about relief. The pattern often will resemble a pattern of a substance found in nature, as remedies are usually made from natural substances – typically animals, plants, or minerals.

How does a remedy work?

Homeopathic remedies stimulate the body’s innate capacity to cure itself. They are prepared in homeopathic pharmacies, as homeopathic remedies are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as drugs. Extremely small amounts of these remedies are given, the minimum amount necessary to stimulate a reaction in the body.

My favourite analogy is that of a computer program that has been infected by a virus. The virus distorts the information in the program and causes the program to malfunction. Once the virus is identified and removed, the program goes back to functioning normally. In the case of a person, the program is the body’s innate natural intelligence, or what we call the vital force in homeopathy.

When did homeopathy start and where is it used?

Homeopathy was established in Germany in the 18th century by the physician Samuel Hahnemann. It spread to all continents and is probably the most popular form of holistic medicine in the world. It is practiced by both physicians and non-physicians and is incorporated into the health-care system of many countries. It was brought to the United States in the 1830’s and has been a part of the American medical system ever since.

The fundamental principles of homeopathy and other holistic therapies.

  1. The body heals itself. The human organism has always shown a remarkable ability to adapt and survive. It is the “biological imperative” of the organism to create an optimal level of healthy. The body has a sophisticated immune system and natural intelligence that seeks to maintain health of the whole organism – mind, body and spirit – at all times. Homeopathy works by helping the body heal itself. Healing takes place through the conscious awareness of the body’s own healing power. Only then can the word “cure” be used. This is the goal of homeopathy.
  2. Homeopathy always treats the whole person. All functions of the body and mind are connected. The complex physical and psychological make up of a person creates a unique pattern for each individual. When we become sick, it is the whole body that is sick, even if symptoms express themselves only in one part of the body. Only by re-establishing a total balance will health be restored. Therefore homeopathy treats the whole person, not just the disease.
  3. There is an energetic “thread” that connects all functions of body and mind. Homeopathy belongs to a philosophy of healing that believes that we have an energetic “life force” that permeates all functions of the body. It is this “life force” which maintains health or creates disease through imbalance. This has been understood for thousands of years. In China it is called “Chi”, in India “Prana” and by homeopaths as “Vital Force”. It describes a phenomenon that exists in all nature. Modern physics is now exploring these dimensions of reality. There is a dynamic, living energy that permeates both body and mind. It is a consciousness, like a memory. It is this energy that keeps the body alive and well.
  4. Symptoms of disease are a result of an imbalance in the body/mind. Symptoms may express themselves in many ways. Some are purely physical, some are emotional, and some are combination of the two. However, it is important to know that they are an expression or a result of an imbalance in the whole organism. Symptoms are not the cause of a problem, only to be suppressed by drugs, but are an indication that something is not right in the whole system. They are a warning that something is not in balance and has to be changed.

Why do we become sick?

We become sick when we can no longer adapt appropriately to the circumstances of life. These circumstances may seem to be due to external factors, such as allergies, the weather, stress, germs, etc or may just seem to be an inability to feel well. In homeopathy, we look at both the internal factors and the external ones, seeking to understand the circumstances of life that may be influencing the health of the whole person. Much of modern medicine focuses on the external causes of disease – germs for example – and drugs are given to kill them. While that serves an important role, homeopaths also ask the questions “why do some people get sick while others do not?” and “what can be done to help the body’s own immune system fight off germs (or other factors) more effectively?” Merely killing the germs does not always lead to great health as the body has not cured the problem itself and some drugs merely suppress, which can sometimes make things worse in the long run. In this case, the same or more serious symptoms tend to recur and the problem may become more chronic and difficult to cure. Homeopathy and other holistic systems of healing seek to establish a higher level of health and in so doing prevent illness as well as helping to cure it.

What conditions does homeopathy treat?

Homeopathy is able to treat most physical and emotional conditions – such as asthma, allergies, skin rashes, acne, depression, lupus, tinnitus, rheumatoid arthritis, anxiety, insomnia, gas and bloating, just to name a few. A homeopathic consultation involves an analysis of the whole person. Each person is unique and the homeopath needs to understand as much as possible about all the concerns a person has. This allows the homeopath to understand the underlying causes of any disease state. The correct remedy choice will allow the whole person – body and mind – to realign to a more optimal state of health. An overall wellness should be the result, including any particular condition a person is experiencing.

What does a homeopathic treatment involve?

The initial interview takes place between 45 to 90 minutes. During this time, the homeopath begins to investigate the particular features of your nature as well as the conditions that the patient experiences. Sometimes, the patient doesn’t feel that we are talking medicine anymore! But rest assured, it is all relevant in finding the best remedy to improve your health. Once a homeopathic remedy has been chosen, another appointment will be made 3-6 weeks after the first visit.

6 Lifestyle Hacks for a Healthier New You

With the New Year comes the optimism and desire to turn over a new leaf for better health, success and prosperity.  Most resolutions, while set in good intentions, usually require big changes and as such, are usually not sustainable.  A much more effective strategy is to implement smaller changes that you can incorporate into your daily life with ease.  Today, I would like to remind you of an often overlooked component to optimal health.  The lymphatic system is a critically important body system that most people don’t appreciate or know much about, yet it is key for optimal immune function, circulation and detoxification.

Your lymphatic system is your body’s largest circulatory system.  It consists of the superficial vessels near the surface of the skin that branch out from the main circulatory system.  Its primary functions include:

  • carrying away the metabolic waste products of every cell, tissue and organ
  • absorbing & delivering fats and fat-soluble vitamins
  • maintaining proper fluid balance
  • fighting infection and producing white blood cells

Garbage In = Garbage Out

Imagine how it might feel to live in a house where there was no garbage collection.  At first, it might seem manageable, but day after day, month after month, you might not think so.  That is exactly what happens to each one of the trillions of cells of which your body is comprised.  The metabolic waste products from each cell is excreted from the cell, but there is no flow to carry it away.  So the cell ends up sitting in their own waste – resulting in fatigue, swelling, infection, inflammation and degeneration. Once the lymphatic flow starts again, you can experience rapid and significant improvement in your overall sense of well-being.

Signs & Symptoms of Lymphatic Congestion:

  • allergies/headaches/recurrent colds & flu
  • swollen lymph nodes
  • swelling of the feet
  • brain fog/lack of energy
  • ear popping/ringing
  • mucus draining
  • inability to lose weight
  • constipation
  • soreness/stiffness on waking
  • swollen breasts/uterine fibroids/ovarian cysts
  • heaviness in extremities
  • arms/legs “fall asleep”
  • itchy/dry skin
  • cellulite

 Six Easy Ways to Improve Lymph Flow

1. Deep Breathing

Fact:  The physical act of breathing creates movement that helps to mobilize lymphatic fluid.  Many of us are shallow breathers without realizing it. Proper breathing is the most important facilitator of lymphatic function, especially in the chest region.

Tip: Breathe in slowly through your nose (over a count of 4), deeply pushing the stomach out. Hold for a count of 7 and slowly let your breath go out through your mouth (over a count of 8). Try doing 4 rounds of this 4-7-8 breathing 3-4x/day (I recommend just before meals and before going to sleep, as it also relaxes your nervous system for better digestion and sleep) will oxygenate the blood, circulate the lymph especially around the liver, and provide many other benefits. Whenever and wherever possible, do this exercise outdoors in fresh air.

2. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

Fact: Water is important medium make your lymphatic fluid well, more fluid.  Only good quality drinking water (I recommend using a water filter for municipal tap water) can adequately rehydrate the body.  Monitor your hydration levels by checking on the color of your urine output – if clear, you are probably overdoing it.  A pale or straw colored urine is best for hydration, without overtaxing your kidneys.

Tip: I find starting the day with water first thing turns “on” my thirst sensors and ensuring I have good quality water in a thermos, stainless steel or glass bottle with me at all times makes it easy to keep my water intake levels up.  Avoid drinking bottled water, as it is contaminated with chemicals that can cause hormone disruption that leach from the plastic, as well as having no sanitation requirements and not being environmentally sustainable.

3. Dry Skin Brushing

Fact: This is perhaps my favorite, but most overlooked lifestyle hack for improved lymphatic flow.  Use gentle pressure to move lymph fluid in the direction of the heart.  Dry skin brushing promotes lymphatic drainage of toxic waste, which results in many other benefits such as improved immunity, glowing skin, and cellulite reduction.guide-to-dry-brushing

Tip: Start a habit of dry skin brushing a few minutes before your shower or bathe using an inexpensive natural bristle brush. Start with every alternate day (it is quite stimulating) for 3-4 weeks before brushing everyday.   It feels fantastic!

4. Alternate Hot and Cold in Your Shower

Fact: All blood/fluid vessels contract when exposed to cold, and dilate in response to heat. Using hot and cold in the shower is a type of hydrotherapy that uses these properties of water to move stagnant lymphatic fluid (and blood) to  increase circulation, boost immune function and improve metabolism.

Tip: After dry skin brushing, super charge your morning shower experience by alternating hot and cold water for between 90 seconds and several minutes at the end of your morning shower, taking care to always end on cold.  The greater the temperature difference between the two, the greater the stimulation on the circulation.  Note: Avoid this if you are pregnant, or if you have a heart or blood pressure condition.

5. Movement

Fact: The lymphatic system depends largely on muscle activity in the body for its circulation. One needs to move in order to activate lymph flow.

Tip: The good news is any movement helps – whether it is one minute of jogging in place, knee bends, jumping jacks, stretching or going for a brisk walk at lunch, it all counts, so find something you enjoy and can fit in your schedule.  I personally favor body squats – 1 minute 2-3 x/day to get the blood (and lymph) going and to get a nice tush in time for summer weather 😉

6. Eat Whole Foods, Especially Vegetables, Healthy Fats, & Fruit (in moderation)

Fact: Chlorophyll (found in all plant-based food, especially green ones) purifies the lymph and blood.  Eating whole foods will naturally decrease your intake of processed foods.  Plant based foods also have a higher water content, which adds to your overall hydration status.

Tip: Have at least three different colored vegetables make up half of your plate volume-wise at each meal.  Eat fruit in moderation (I recommend 1-2 pieces/day as they are still high in natural sugars) and be sure to consume healthy fats as nuts and seeds, avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, palm oil, organic ghee and butter to support hormone production, immune function and nervous system health.


An active lymphatic system will help to reduce your body’s toxic load, improve circulation and revamp your immune function.  Pick two to three of these suggestions that work for you and put them into practice for 10 days and experience the benefits it creates to making a happier, and healthier you!

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5 Breast Screening Methods That Every Woman Should Know

breast health

Breast cancer is the leading type of cancer in women, affecting one in nine women in Canada. Lifestyle factors as well as minimizing environmental influences can certainly reduce your risk.  Performing regular breast exams and getting screened regularly will decrease your risk even further.

The key to successful recovery from breast cancer (as with any cancer) lies in early detection.  Participating in a detection program will increase your chances of detecting breast cancer in its earliest stages.  Screening is recommended for all women over the age of 40, even earlier if there is strong family history, though some are easy to adopt even earlier.

Here are the five screening techniques available for breast cancer detection:

Mammography

Mammography is likely the technique with which people are the most familiar.  It involves x-raying the breast tissue to identify any abnormalities.  The breast is pressed between two plates – pressure is applied to get a clear picture. Usually, two x-rays are taken of each breast, one from the top and one from the side.

Ultrasound

Ultrasound detects breast changes by sending high -frequency sound waves into the breast. The pattern of echoes from these sound waves is converted into an image of the breast’s interior. Ultrasound may be helpful in distinguishing between solid masses and cysts (fluid-filled sacs). Unlike mammography, ultrasound cannot detect small calcium deposits that may be present in the breast and that sometime indicate cancer, nor does it identify small tumors. Ultrasounds is very useful to confidently diagnose benign conditions and can reduce the need for an immediate biopsy.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) takes cross-sectional images through different parts of the body, and is a very sensitive imaging tool for finding breast cancer. MRI technology is better than either mammography or ultrasound in determining the extent of the cancer and its exact location, but it can be expensive which makes it less practical. It is the best tool for women with silicone implants.

Breast Exam

Clinical breast exams are shown to be as effective as mammography in reducing breast cancer mortality. The American Society of Breast Surgeons says that breast self exam is “as accurate as mammograms and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) at detecting new breast cancers in high-risk women.”

Thermography

Thermography is a painless, non invasive, early detection method that gives women of all ages the opportunity to detect breast disease at an early stage without exposure to radiation. It uses a digital infrared camera and a high speed computer for imaging and measurement of body tissue heat energy. Tumors and areas of concern typically show high temperatures due to increased blood flow and elevated metabolic activity.  A single mammogram exposes you to 1000X the radiation of a regular chest x-ray, which can lead to new cancer formation as well as heart damage.

Thermography is particularly useful for younger women, under fifty years of age, whose breast tissue is denser which typically makes it more difficult for mammography to identify suspicious lesions. Thermography does offer these distinct advantages:

  • greater comfort – no contact or squeezing of the breast tissue is required.
  • earlier detection – problems with tissue function can be found before structural abnormalities are seen on x-ray
  • examination of the whole chest, breast and armpit areas, and is good for all breast types – young, dense, fibrocystic, and women on hormone replacement therapy.
  • improved chances for early detection of fast-growing, active tumors between traditional mammograms.

Information gathered from thermographs may also be used to supplement clinical breast examinations and mammograms, as it can guide doctors to the specific area of the breast that may need particularly close examination.

About mammograms…A controversial review published in the Lancet stated that mammographic screening likely reduces breast cancer mortality by a mere 0.5%. This means that for every 2000 women invited for screening over a 10 year period, only one will have her life prolonged.  Screening also leads to overdiagnosis and overtreatment, with an estimated 30% increase of treatment in women who would not need it otherwise.  For the same 2000 women, 10 healthy women, who would not have been diagnosed if there had not been screening, will be diagnosed with breast cancer and will be treated unnecessarily.

Another study stated that one fifth of cancers seen on mammogram spontaneously disappear. Another research study that followed 110,000 women who underwent periodic mammograms with the same number of women who did not. At the end of 5 years, everybody was screened, and the surprising finding was that the mammogram women had 22% more invasive cancers than the non-mammogram group. These findings suggest that perhaps mammography screening does more harm than good.

Regardless of what you choose to be your best option, you should be informed of all screening methods available to you, with their respective advantages and drawbacks. Breast exams, at a minimum, are of benefit to every woman and should be performed monthly, a few days into the beginning of each cycle (when hormone levels are at their lowest).

5 Flu-Busting Strategies to Keep You Healthy this Fall

sick teddyA recent CBC report stated that last year’s flu vaccine had an effectiveness rate of around 50%, up from “essentially zero” the year before.  Earlier this year, a Canadian study showed that people who were vaccinated consecutively from 2012-2014 appeared to have a higher risk of infection.  The article also states, “Canadians who had received a flu shot in late 2008 were between 1.4 and 2.5 times more likely to contract an H1N1 infection,” compared with those who did not.

Yet every year, the flu vaccine is advertised as the best (& only) prevention strategy.  Is this truly the best we can do?

The flu can be a very serious illness- especially in the very young, the very old and people who have any compromise to their immunity.  However, our current shot in the dark strategy of  vaccine production based on “our best guess” principle falls radically short of offering real protection for Canadians.

The state of your immune system is the strongest predictor of whether or not you will get sick this winter.  The good news is that there are sound yet simple immune-boosting strategies that need not be expensive, require no injections, come with no questionable fillers and actually will improve your resistance to all viruses and bacteria. So try some of these suggestions to keep your immune system supported and strong for a healthy winter season.

  1. Ensure your have adequate levels of Vitamin D.

    As the weather gets colder, we need to ensure adequate vitamin D status.  In one study, children taking just 1,200 IUs of vitamin D3 per day, were 42 percent less likely to come down with the flu.

  2. Eat well. 

    Focus on eating good quality fats (think coconut oil, nuts, avocado), lean protein, vegetables (frozen is the next best to fresh) and whole grains and fruit sparingly (due to their sugar content) for a well-balanced whole foods diet that promotes healthy immune function. Add fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut and/or kombucha to provide sources of probiotics, or supplement a good probiotic as well.  One study of 3 to 5 year olds indicated that ingestion of probiotics 1-2x/day resulted in:

  • Reduced fever by 53 percent and 73 percent respectively
  • Decreased coughing by 41 percent and 62 percent
  • Reduced runny noses by 28 percent and 59 percent
  • Reduced antibiotic use by 68 percent and 84 percent (which is a major gain in and of itself because antibiotics are vastly overused in children and also devastate your gut flora)

Adding garlic, onion and honey into your daily foods can help ease symptoms of congestion, sore throat and cough.  Warm foods like soups and stews are always easier to digest in the winter months.

  1. Limit contact.

    Washing your hands frequently is perhaps the simplest measure we can do to stop the spread of the virus.  Just plain soap and water will do.  Take the time to wash thoroughly, between fingers and under nails.  Make a point to limit contact at the office/classroom by staying at home for much needed rest if you do get sick.

  2. Increase your body temperature.

    A warm body temperature is less likely to harbour the virus that causes the flu.  Short, intense bursts of exercise (like running in place as fast as you can for a minute) several times a day are enough to stimulate your metabolism and your immunity. Another option would be to perform warming socks – a wonderful,simple and effective method to use in both prevention and treatment of acute flu/cold.  Or sit in a sauna regularly to enjoy its immune-boosting benefits (and warmth).

  3. Manage stress.

    In a recent cold study, participants who had reported being under stress were twice as likely to get sick. Prolonged stress will, over time, decrease your immune response.  Conversely, skilled relaxation results in a corresponding increase in protective antibody production.  Balance your life between work and play, spend quality time with loved ones, practice deep breathing/yoga/meditation/prayer, exercise, and/or journal to help keep stress in check.

There is no guaranteed way to prevent the flu.  The best approach for staying well this winter is to have a robust and well-functioning immune system.  I hope these tips help you and your families stay well this upcoming season.

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Ward off Germs with Garlic Honey

Garlic honey is super easy to make and ready almost immediately to treat sore throats, colds, the flu, lung congestion, and sinus problems.

Use a small jar (4-8 ounces/125-250ml) with a good lid. Fill it with unpeeled garlic cloves (you can peel and chop the cloves if you prefer), then pour honey over it all, using a chop stick to poke the honey down into the garlic. After screwing on the lid, label the jar with the contents and date.  Overnight, so it seems, the garlic and honey combine to create a divine elixir that may be taken by the spoonful right out of the jar.

As it ages, both the honey and the garlic darken. After a couple of months, the garlic is suffused with honey and is lovely to eat.  Garlic honey keeps indefinitely at room temperature, but should not be given to children less than one year old (as per any honey).

Healthy Food, Fresh & Fast

They say that 80% of our healthcare starts in the kitchen.  Yet, there are many barriers to being able to ensure that there are always healthy options available.  Aside from the cost of healthy foods, there is also the time required, not only to source quality ingredients, but then to prepare them before they spoil in a way that preserves their nutrition. I think it is one area where area, though critically important, continues to challenge people everyday.  I found myself in a similar situation, how do I find the time and energy needed to feed my family in a way that I could feel good about it?

I started researching last fall, looking for a new gadget or appliance that would facilitate my goals.  I was looking for something that would allow me to cook from frozen, should I forget to defrost the night before.  That is when I came across the Instant Pot.

What is the Instant Pot?

Instant Pot is a multi-function small appliance that can replace your slow cooker, electric pressure cooker, rice cooker, steamer, yogurt maker, sauté/browning pan, and warming pot. Since one of my first criteria is that an appliance has to “earn” its countertop real estate, I was intrigued, as now I could replace my beloved slow cooker.  I read the reviews online, and quite honestly, thought it is too good to be true.  The people who wrote about it seemed almost overly fascinated, overly enthusiastic, was it possible that one little appliance could transform one’s life so radically?  Well, I have to admit, I am a convert.

Why do I love my Instant Pot?

The ability to cook meat from frozen was just the tip of the Instant Pot journey for me.  Suddenly, I was able to make enough soups/stews to feed my family for about a month in a matter of hours.  I would use it to make lunch and again supper in the same day.  I think the best part of it is you can cook everything in one pot, with the incredibly handy saute function, add your vegetables and stock, set it and walk away.  And when you return, voila, lunch/dinner is ready to serve, with enough for leftovers for another day.

Other advantages were I no longer threw out vegetables that were past their prime, but instead, trimmed them and froze them for my next batch of soup.  I also quickly learned I no longer had to source out BPA-free canned beans and lentils, as now I had a time effective way to make beans from scratch. I really like the idea of making homemade yogurt, which can be a real health promoting food, when it is not full of sugar, thickener and stabilizers.  For people sensitive to dairy, this feature also offers a much more cost-effective way to make dairy-free yogurt.

People use it for all sorts of things, including making cheesecake (not yet something i have tried).  But having cooked chicken breasts, seasoned, and shredded for wraps, salads and soups on hand was incredibly convenient.  And don’t get me started with how easy it is to make bone broth – rich, satisfying and nourishing bone broth in a matter of an hour.

Now don’t get me wrong, I have no financial incentive to promote this product. Just a zeal for tasty and healthy nutrition.  There is a learning curve in how to use it, but tons of resources online from Facebook Recipe groups, Pinterest, and good old Google, I am sure you will have no trouble.  I hope you find it as useful and as rewarding as I have.  With the arrival of the autumn harvest, it feels time to dust off my Instant Pot (I didn’t use it much in the summer) and get busy.  Yum, yum.

Spicy Curry Lentil Soup

Another fall favourite, hearty and filling.  Freezes well too. Can also be made in a pressure cooker.

Ingredients:

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Onion, Diced
3 Garlic Cloves, Minced
1 Jalapeno/Serrano Pepper, Seeded and Diced (optional), or Madras Curry Paste (also optional)
2 teaspoons ground Turmeric
2 teaspoons ground Cumin
2 cans lentils – green or brown
2 Cups Broth
15 oz Diced Tomatoes
15 oz Full Fat Coconut Milk
5 oz Fresh Baby Spinach or other greens like kale
1 Tablespoon Fresh Lime Juice
Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Add olive oil to your pot and saute onion, garlic and jalapeno if using with a pinch of salt. Saute until your onion is translucent. Add in the turmeric, cumin and curry paste (if using), stirring cook until fragrant about 30 seconds. Add the lentils and broth, stir being sure to scrape the bottom of your pressure cooker. Pour the entire contents of the diced tomatoes on the top and stir.  Cook on medium about 15-20 minutes.

2. Add the coconut milk, baby spinach, lime juice and salt and pepper to taste. Puree with hand blender for a less chunky, creamier consistency, if desired.  Heat and stir until the greens are wilted.

5 Simple Strategies for Radical Health

5 simple strategies for radical healthThe busyness of the holiday season has come and gone…and many of us find ourselves wanting to make a fresh start for the New Year. It is easy to get lost in all of the confusion, as the newly promoted diet/workout/health strategies all compete for our attention.   However, the basic tenets of good health actually do not change much.  Here are the ones that are tried and true:

  1. Sleep.

    Sleep is the healer of all things, and few of us manage to get regular decent, uninterrupted sleep. Aim to get eight hours for best health.  Studies show that sleep deficits are cumulative and that we often underestimate sleep deficits in our performance.

  2. Eat well.

    A plant-based foods diet is one that will sustain your health long-term. I tend to follow the 80-20 rule – I aim to eat super well 80% of the time, and give myself some leeway for the other 20%.  When in doubt, eat more vegetables – they are truly the diet underdogs, and deliver the most nutrition of any food group.  If you desire weight loss, it doesn’t really matter which “diet plan” you choose.  Just be consistent in making healthy eating choices and reducing processed food intake. Water is also important for optimal health – be sure to drink a minimum of at least eight glasses of good quality (preferably filtered alkalized) water daily.

  3. Move.

    Our bodies were designed to move.It doesn’t have to be CrossFit – you can go for a humble walk, plant a garden, play with a child, or clean the house.  Consistency is key, aim to do something active every day.

  4. Socialize

    We are social creatures and our busy days can make it easy to forget to stop and say hello. Pick up the phone for a long overdue chat with a friend, or find the few minutes it takes to just sit with a cup of tea with your spouse and discuss your day. Chronic loneliness has been shown to reduce longevity by up to eight years. Interpersonal relationships are critical not only in creating longevity, but also happiness.

  5. Be grateful

    An attitude of gratitude seriously impacts both physical and psychological health. As a result, we are happier, more likable, have better career aspirations, and less stress.  One popular strategy is to journal three things or events for which you are grateful on a daily basis.

How do we know these practices work? When we examine “blue zones” (areas in the world noted for their remarkable longevity), these are the practices that stand out as part of their daily lifestyles.  These communities are:

  • Okinawa, Japan
  • Ikaria, Greece
  • Sardinia, Italy
  • Nicoya, Costa Rica
  • Loma Linda, California

People in these communities often live well beyond 100 years. Let’s adopt their tried and true wisdom for very, very long purposeful and joyful lives.

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Are you a Toxin Superhero?

detox

With the first signs of spring comes the natural desire to do some spring cleaning – both inside and out.  People talk of doing a “cleanse” or a detox, perhaps not realizing that the body is detoxifying all of the time  If it didn’t, all bodily functions would cease.

Detoxification is the primary function of your body’s liver, which is the largest organ of the body.  Though the liver is a multi-talented organ, not to be taken for granted.   Located just under the right end of your rib cage, the liver performs over 200 vital functions, including fat and cholesterol metabolism, hormone excretion, and bile production (for digestion).

Think of the liver like a filter.  Any filter, over a period of time, can get congested.  For example, in the case of premenstrual symptoms, a truly healthy woman would have no symptoms at all.  As the liver becomes compromised, symptoms may be mild and start the day before, or just before the onset of flow. With time,  symptoms will come on earlier and last longer – why?  Because the liver is having a progressively more difficult time properly eliminating the elevated levels of hormones in the bloodstream.  Therefore, the hormones circulate in the bloodstream longer, causing the discomfort associated with PMS.  This holds true for all hormones (and neurotransmitters), not just those associated with a woman’s monthly cycle.

Another analogy to help picture it is to think of your liver like your own personal dumpster.  Your genetic background will dictate how big your dumpster is.  Some very sensitive people have a very small capacity to handle toxins, and there are others who seem like Toxin Superheroes.  Most of us, fortunately, fall somewhere in between.  As the dumpster gets progressively fuller (with time), there is less space and things start to seep back into general circulation.  The result?  You start to feel like a walking, talking dumpster (and smell like one too.)

Here are some signs that your liver may be struggling – how many of these apply to you?

  1. Cholesterol metabolism.

Most people do not realize that about 80% of cholesterol is actually made by the liver.  If your liver is not working efficiently, it may show up as:

  • Increased low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad cholesterol”
  • Lowered high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, or “good cholesterol” which is the precursor for your hormone production
  • High triglycerides
  • Elevated ALT and AST liver enzymes
  • Weight gain
  • Heart disease
  1. Altered Digestion.

One of the primary functions of the liver is to produce bile, which helps to break down dietary fats.  Without adequate bile production, you may experience:

  • Abdominal bloating
  • Constipation
  • Inability to digest fatty foods
  • Loss of appetite
  1. Skin issues/allergies

The skin is one of your body’s four exits from the body (the other three are the bowels, the bladder and the lungs).  Your liver filters the blood, and prepare waste products for elimination.  If the liver or any of the exits are compromised, you may experience:

  • Unexplained rashes
  • Psoriasis
  • Eczema
  • Boils, acne, or moles
  • Itching
  1. Changes in blood sugar levels

Your liver plays an important role in blood sugar regulation.  Blood sugar imbalances symptomatically may manifest as:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Weakness or dizziness, better after eating
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  1. Hormonal imbalance

Any symptom related to hormone imbalance definitely implicates poor liver function.  The liver is responsible for filtering out hormones and neurotransmitters from the blood.  An inability to do so might manifest as:

  • Poor sleep quality
  • Mental disturbance/confusion and/or depression
  • Sensitivity to chemicals, fragrance, pharmaceuticals
  • Heavy/clotted or irregular periods
  • Cystic breasts, ovarian cysts, uterine fibroids
  • Hot flashes, mood swings or any menopausal symptoms
  1. Other symptoms

Someone with impaired liver function may also exhibit any of the following symptoms:

  • Intolerance to alcohol or coffee
  • Swollen feet or abdomen
  • Easy bruising
  • Yellowing of the eyes
  • Dark urine and stool
  • Bad breath, body odor
  • Heartburn

The good news is – the liver is capable of regeneration, given the right support.

Here are three easy steps to get improve your liver function and stimulate your metabolism:

  1. Improve your digestion.  Increase your hydrochloric acid (helps your stomach break down protein) production by taking 1 Tbsp of apple cider vinegar or 1/2 lemon in a glass (8 oz) of water consistently upon rising; wait 30 minutes before eating. Ideally, replace processed foods with a whole, plant-based diet which are easier to break down and place minimal burden on the liver and digestive tract.  At minimum, take periodic breaks from eating highly processed foods (I like to recommend a minimum of a one week commitment as the weather changes from winter to spring, and again from summer to fall).  Supplement with digestive enzymes, or carminative herbs (like peppermint, clove, star anise, papaya, ginger, pineapple) at meals.
  2. Facilitate efficient elimination.  Include a minimum of 2-3 Tbsp of insoluble fibre in your diet daily – preferably in the form of freshly ground flaxseed (helps to excrete environmental estrogens out of the body and heal the GI tract).  If you cannot tolerate flax, you may also use chia seeds or psyllium husk as an alternative.  Be sure to drink a minimum of 8 glasses of quality water daily.
  3. Ensure you have good co-factors!  A good quality Vitamin B complex (remember, you get what you pay for) is key to opening up and facilitating phase two of the detoxification process (added benefits include nervous system support during times of stress, and improved carbohydrate metabolism).  Be sure to choose the methylated forms of folate and B12, to ensure maximum efficacy.  If you have any questions, let me know and I would be happy to make an appropriate recommendation for you.

 

 

 

12 Tips To Enjoy The Holidays

enjoy winter

 

    1. Breathe.

      Focus on taking deep and relaxing breaths all day. Feeling rushed – take a minute or two to breathe deeply and then set about your day.

    2. Simplify.

      Just because you did it last year (and the year before and the year before), it doesn’t mean you have to still do it. Let go of the things that do not bring you joy.

    3. Slow down.

      The pressure is on this time of year, honor yourself and trust that the world won’t end if you ease the pressure.

    4. Take time out.

      Practice just being, whether alone or with your family.

    5. Have funEmbrace your inner child – be silly, let go, and have some fun. You’ll be surprised how good it feels.
    6. Move

      There are so many reasons to exercise. It helps to relieve stress, up your metabolism and energy, and increase your feelings of self worth. Whether is it is a simple walk, a favourite yoga class, or dancing in the living room. Feel like you have too much to do? Get moving – it will give you the perspective you need to get through it all.

    7. Read

      Who doesn’t love a good (e)book? We are all storytellers and listeners at heart.

    8. Be Generous.

      Exercise compassion. Practice patience and kindness. Be purposeful and intentional.

    9. Practice gratitude.

      Remember to express gratitude for everything in life. Practice gratitude throughout the day.

    10. Water.

      Drink a glass or two. Make your favourite tea. Have a relaxing shower or bath.

    11. Eat well.

      Eating balanced meals will help you from overindulging in sugary treats/alcohol, and give you the energy and the mental stamina needed for the extra holiday festivities & activities. Do it all, in moderation, of course.

    12. Connect

      Share thoughts and ideas with each other. Reflect on the events of the year and the goals for the future.  Watch a movie together or better yet, play a game.

 

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