Is Your Food Making You Sick?

You’re careful about your health. You do your best to eat well, and you pay attention to the ways that your diet affects your energy levels. But something seems off. You’re experiencing annoying symptoms that you can’t explain. You’re often gassy and bloated, your skin may not be clear and glowing anymore, you may be ready for a nap after a meal and you wish you could remember where you put your keys. Why does your memory feel so foggy?

These issues are frustrating (and often embarrassing). They’re also very common. Many patients come to see us with healthy lifestyles, but are baffled by continuing digestive issues, mysterious rashes, and low energy levels. If this sounds familiar, it may be time to take a good look at your diet. Even “healthy” food can make you sick if your body is sensitive to it. For many, the food mystery becomes both frustrating and overwhelming when trying to understand what foods are nourishing you and not making you feel terrible.
But the good news is that you may not have to look very far to make changes that relieve your symptoms. With a bit of detective work, and a bit of help, you can map out a dietary plan that restores your wellbeing.

What are the Symptoms of Food Intolerance?

Food intolerance can be tricky to diagnosis. One reason is that there’s no one-size-fits-all description of the way our bodies react. Symptoms vary from person to person and can even be different depending on what else is happening in your body. For example, you might respond differently at different stages of your menstrual cycle.

Food intolerance symptoms can include:

● Gas
● Bloating
● Bowel problems
● Sore joints
● Migraines
● Dark circles under your eyes
● Brain fog – that annoying forgetfulness and lack of clarity
● Unexplained rashes and skin blemishes

Another reason why food intolerance is often a missed diagnosis is that these symptoms can be delayed up to 24 hours after a meal, so many people don’t make the connection between what they ate and how they feel.

Similarly, it’s difficult to measure how many people suffer from food intolerances because a lot of us don’t seek medical help, figuring that it’s “normal” to feel gassy and tired all of the time. In fact, conventional medical practitioners can be skeptical about food intolerance symptoms, which can lead to frustration for patients. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

What Causes Food Intolerances?

It’s important to recognize the difference between food allergies and food intolerances. Food allergies are immune reactions. After eating a certain food, your body’s immune system launches an attack by making its own protein, called immunoglobulin E (IgE). The next time you consume that food, your body is ready to attack again. But the IgE causes your body to release a chemical called histamine, which triggers the physical symptoms of an allergic reaction.

In contrast, a food intolerance is often the result of our body not being able to process a certain food. We may lack the enzymes necessary to digest a substance that the food contains. For example, some people may develop a lactose intolerance if their small intestine doesn’t produce enough of the enzyme lactase.

If we continue to eat that problem food, we can exacerbate the intolerance and our symptoms can affect more aspects of our bodies. Because our digestive system doesn’t adequately break down elements (for example, lactose) in the food, the lining of the gut can become inflamed and damaged. Eventually, it can become permeable, so the undigested material “leaks” into the bloodstream. Not surprisingly, this is called “leaky gut” syndrome.

Why does leaky gut syndrome make us feel so lousy? There is growing evidence that the microorganisms in our guts exist in a complex relationship with our brains – what scientists call the “microbiome-gut-brain axis.” In other words, a food intolerance and the resulting leaky gut can affect our brains, and, as a result, our moods and energy levels. And that’s in addition to the general discomfort we can feel with digestive difficulties. No wonder patients with food intolerances are often exhausted!

But what is the root cause of food intolerances? And why are they becoming increasingly common? Research is still developing, but there are a few theories, ranging from changes in farming practices to the increased use of antibiotics, which can affect our gut bacteria and make it difficult to digest certain foods.

Which Foods Can Cause Food Intolerances?

Somewhat ironically, many foods that can lead to intolerance symptoms are considered “healthy” foods. As a result, it’s easy to keep eating them, hoping they will improve your health and help you feel better. Yes, it’s a bit of a Catch-22! Common food intolerance culprits include:

Dairy: The lactose found in goat and cow milk, as well as soft cheeses, ice cream and yogurt is difficult for our gut to break down. In addition to the lactose, many people react to the proteins (whey and casein) in dairy.

Gluten: Gluten is a protein (or family of proteins) found in wheat, rye, barley, oats, and other grass-related grains. It’s often a hidden ingredient. For example, many spices and sauces contain gluten.

Fructose intolerance: Fructose is a simple sugar found in many fruits. High fructose corn syrup is found in processed foods like cereal bars and some juices.

Histamine and other amines: Amines are found in strongly flavored foods such as cheese, ripe fruit, chocolate, and processed meats. These foods are often migraine triggers for people with an intolerance.

This is not a definitive list of food intolerance triggers. We’re all different, and there is no universal recipe for food intolerance. That’s one reason why seeing a medical professional is a good idea if you suspect your food may be making you sick. In addition, medical supervision can ensure your approach to food remains healthy and balanced. Research suggests that food intolerances can be a trigger for disordered eating in some people. After all, if food is causing you pain, but you’re not sure which foods are to blame, it’s easy to associate your diet with negative experiences.

How Can You Treat Food Intolerances?

On the surface, treating a food intolerance sounds simple: just eliminate the problem foods. But first, you’ll have to do a bit of detective work. Because of possible delayed reaction times, the troublesome food is not always obvious. There are tests that can be done that will give you a comprehensive list of what is creating a reaction and you can eliminate the culprits allowing your body to heal faster. Alternatively, you can choose to keep detailed records of everything you eat. Then, under medical supervision, you can start eliminating foods, then reintroducing selected foods, carefully tracking your symptoms.

While you’re following an elimination diet like this, a holistic practitioner can provide ways to support your gut health. And as you work to track down the problem foods, you’ll want to avoid substances that are known to cause inflammation, such as alcohol.

Do you think your foods might be causing your health issues? We have testing and treatment to help you understand which foods are helping you and which ones may be harming you. Contact our clinic, and we will work together to find the potentially hidden causes of your health issues.

Call us at 416-234-1888 or email us at wellnessreception@sympatico.ca

To your best health!

Wellness Institute

References
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28936357
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5603184/
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0277953608002773
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7460264
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41575-018-0064-z
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0306453018303950
https://journals.lww.com/co-gastroenterology/Abstract/2016/03000/A_gut__microbiome__feeling_about_the_brain.7.aspx
https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/10009-food-problems-is-it-an-allergy-or-intolerance

The Dangers of High Estrogen and How to Restore Hormonal Balance

Estrogen plays an important role through the course of our reproductive lives and beyond. It regulates our menstrual cycle, strengthens our bones, controls our cholesterol, and much more. When our estrogen levels drop, we experience menopausal symptoms. But even before menopause, varying levels of this vital hormone can wreak havoc. That’s because estrogen requires a delicate balance with other hormones. When that balance is disturbed, we can experience a wide range of frustrating symptoms.

This hormonal imbalance often occurs during a particularly busy time of our lives, the period from about age 25 through to menopause. As a result, our practice sees many women who are dealing with unexplained weight gain, mood swings, and libido problems. But there is help available. A few simple steps can help you restore balanced estrogen levels and feel like yourself again.

How Do You Know if You Have Estrogen Dominance?

Estrogen dominance can impact many areas of our lives, with symptoms that range from subtle shifts to major disruptions in wellbeing. Many women in this age group assume these issues are a normal part of aging or a consequence of their busy schedules. But even a slight imbalance in hormone levels can lead to a number of problems.

Symptoms can vary greatly by person, but often include:

● Increased weight, especially in the belly and hip area
● Heavier periods
● More severe PMS
● Irregular menstrual cycles
● Fibrocystic and painful breasts
● Uterine fibroids
● An increase in fatigue
● Loss of libido
● Water retention and bloating
● Depression
● Irritability
● Anxiety
● Headaches
● Foggy brain
● Memory troubles
● Insomnia and restlessness

Does that list look familiar? We see many women every month with complaints like these. We understand how frustrating they can be, especially when you’re unable to find effective treatment. And, of course, the complex relationship between estrogen and our emotions can only magnify the frustration. Who wants to feel irritated about feeling irritable?

And it’s not only women who can experience estrogen dominance. You may be surprised to know that men can suffer an excess of estrogen as well. In men, estrogen dominance can manifest a bit differently, with some of these symptoms being common:

● Enlarged ‘breasts’
● Sexual dysfunction
● Infertility
● Depression
● Fatigue
● Midsection fat

What Causes Estrogen Dominance?

To understand estrogen dominance, we have to consider the role of another important hormone, progesterone. Progesterone and estrogen maintain an often tricky seesaw in our bodies. Prior to menopause, the balance shifts at different stages of the menstrual cycle. Estrogen dominance isn’t necessarily a surge of estrogen, but an imbalance in that seesaw. Simply put, estrogen dominance happens when the seesaw tips to one side because there is not enough progesterone to balance out the estrogen. There’s actually no “set” number we can measure that proves an estrogen dominance diagnosis. It’s the overall hormonal profile that is important.

How does estrogen become dominant? A key factor is the timing. Or, to be more specific, the time of our lives. Consider a normal menstrual cycle during our reproductive years: After we ovulate mid-cycle, our bodies produce progesterone to balance out estrogen.

But as we near menopause, we often have some menstrual cycles when we do not ovulate. As a result, there is not enough progesterone to balance out the estrogen. Enter estrogen dominance — and its long list of possible symptoms.

To a certain extent, estrogen dominance is a natural part of our aging process. However, recent years have seen a rise in estrogen-dominance complaints, and our busy lifestyle may be a big factor. Environmental and behavior issues can increase estrogen levels, tipping the seesaw even further. What’s to blame? Take a look at this list.

  1. Excess body fat can increase estrogen levels, since fat cells produce estrogen. Of course, this creates a frustrating cycle for some women, as the fatigue associated with estrogen dominance makes it difficult to lose weight.
  2. Chronic stress will throw off your hormonal balance, often resulting in excess estrogen. In times of stress, your body produces too much cortisol. Cortisol negatively affects progesterone production, so the result is a shortage of progesterone to balance the body’s estrogen.
  3. Hormone replacement therapy that doesn’t take all hormones into account and doesn’t treat with customized dosing, can inadvertently create estrogen dominance.
  4. Environmental sources of estrogen in our environment, particularly with regard to plastics and pesticides can negatively affect hormone levels.
  5. When we’re not getting enough sleep, our melatonin levels decrease. And melatonin helps regulate estrogen levels. In other words, if we don’t have enough melatonin to keep estrogen in check, we can end up in a cycle of sleep trouble.

How Can You Restore Hormone Levels?

Our practice can work with you to re-balance your hormonal havoc. Starting with an accurate diagnosis, we can create a lifestyle plan that works for you. As a starting point, these changes are recommended:

  1. Increase your intake of fiber. Insoluble fiber can bind with estrogen in our digestive tract. As a result, excess estrogen is eliminated with a high-fiber diet.
  2. Go organic. Many pesticides have been identified as estrogen disruptors. That means they disturb the natural balance of estrogen. Research is still being done in this area, but the connection is becoming clear. Plus, organic food is delicious!
  3. Get enough sleep. We know – you’re busy. But sleep will help restore your melatonin levels and, subsequently, your estrogen balance.
  4. Choose your health and beauty products wisely. Xenoestrogens have a similar molecular structure to estrogen. Bisphenol A (BPA), which is often used in plastics, is an example of an xenoestrogen. When these substances enter our bodies, our system reacts as if they are actual estrogen. Some simple steps, such as avoiding plastic food storage containers and products with artificial scents, can help reduce your exposure to xenoestrogens.
  5. Get moving. Exercise will relieve stress levels and could help reduce body fat. Strength training and yoga are great activities.
  6. Decrease stress. Again, we realize this is easier said than done! But an estrogen-dominant diagnosis might be the wake-up call you need to take a step back and assess your stress levels. Are you doing too much?

Do you think you might have a hormonal imbalance? Do the estrogen dominance symptoms sound a bit too familiar? Please contact our clinic and we’ll get to the bottom of what’s going on and create a plan of action to bring your body back to good health.

Call us at 416-234-1888 or email us at wellnessreception@sympatico.ca

To your best health!

Wellness Institute

References
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC313802
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10188197
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15276966
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11602005
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12644393

Headaches and How to Avoid Them

What gives you a headache? I’m sure any number of factors come to mind. The most common type of headaches are tension headaches which are often brought on by stress. And who hasn’t felt the stuffy sting of sinus pain? Then there are those awful migraines, the angriest of the headaches, accompanied by a suite of symptoms including nausea or vomiting, stomach pain, and/or sensitivity to bright lights, loud noise and strong odours. Sometimes smells can even trigger a migraine!

Did you know there are 150 different types of headaches?

A headache is always a good indicator that something is off with your body. They can be triggered by a wide variety of factors that are usually easy to pinpoint by simply tuning in to your body and its needs.

Common Headache Triggers

Dehydration
Research shows that water-deprivation headaches are among the most common types of headaches people experience. Just think, how often do you fall short of the daily recommended eight glasses of water? Staying hydrated not only helps to keep headaches at bay, but it also improves concentration and extinguishes irritability.

Stress
Chances are, at some point in your life, you’ve experienced a stress or a tension headache. You’re barely treading water, with too much to do and not enough hours in the day. Your baby just won’t stop screaming, but you need to get the grocery shopping done. Your boss is in a foul mood — again. Your head begins to pound. Stress happens. It’s not always easy to avoid a tension headache, but taking a mindful approach to life, whether through yoga, meditation or gratitude journaling, can help us to manage stress better when those tricky moments arise.

Food Intolerances
We all know how alcohol can trigger a headache – especially when combined with dehydration, resulting in the ever-dreaded hangover. But have you ever been drinking diet pop and suddenly felt headachy afterward? You wouldn’t be alone. Aspartame and caffeine can also act as dietary triggers that lead to headaches. Other food intolerances known for influencing headaches include Monosodium glutamate a.k.a. MSG, nitrates found in processed meats, tyramine — a natural chemical that’s also found in processed meats, as well as aged cheese; pickles and olives; snow peas, fava and broad beans; and nuts.

Other foods that can trigger migraines include bread and pastries, cultured dairy products and yes, even chocolate. Moderation is key, as well as taking note of what you were eating before a headache occurred.

Hormones
Oh, those hormones sure have a way of impacting all areas of our bodies, don’t they? So, is it any wonder that they could also be to blame for headaches too? Truth is, elevated estrogen levels can have an impact on the frequency and severity of headaches in both women and men. This is why women are 3X more likely to experience a migraine than men. If you experience headaches or migraines on a regular basis, it is worth speaking to your healthcare practitioner about getting your hormone levels tested. Getting back into balance won’t only help your headaches, it can also change your life.

Natural Headache Treatments

Essential oils – A wide variety of essential oils can have a calming effect on headaches and also help to soothe migraines. Some good options include lavender, peppermint and eucalyptus oils.

Herbs – Butterbur and feverfew are two herbal remedies that have long been used to help treat headache pain; however, like with most herbal supplements, it is important to consult the guidance of a healthcare professional to ensure you are taking them safely and effectively.

Yoga – Yoga is proven to be among the most effective forms of self-care to help reduce headaches. In fact, one study actually demonstrated a significant reduction in migraine headache frequency when yoga was practiced regularly over a period of just three months.

Visit our Osteopath – Sometimes the root of your issue starts well below the neck and you just need to get your body back in alignment.

Acupuncture – If you suffer from frequent headaches and want to avoid popping pills on a regular basis, you might wish to consider acupuncture. One study showed that after 3 to 4 months of treatment, patients receiving acupuncture had higher response rates and fewer headaches, with results that were possibly more effective than prophylactic drug treatment – and with fewer adverse side effects.

Headaches are common, but they don’t have to be. If you feel like you’re getting more than your fair share and are having trouble pinpointing the issue, please do not hesitate to contact our clinic by calling 416-234-1888 or emailing wellnessreception@sympatico.ca and we will work to identify your triggers and solutions together.

The team at Wellness Institute

References:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23832131
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14979888
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2708042
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22517298
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23196150
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23030536
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15623680
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11276299
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17501846
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8775024
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3099267/

Low Libido? What Went Wrong and How to Fix it!

You love your partner, but your libido is low. Between late nights, early mornings, work stress, family obligations, and a million other things on the go, there is little time and energy left for sex. But relationships change, and sex drive softens as we age… so, it’s perfectly normal, right?

Not necessarily. In fact, some reports suggest that our best love-making years are the ones that may lie ahead of us. A recent survey of 5,000 singles of all ages, ethnicities and income levels across the U.S. revealed that the best sex happens at age 66 for women and at 64 for men. It is at this time that our youthful self-consciousness wears off, communication becomes more comfortable, and greater creativity is embraced. So, if others are having the best sex of their lives as they grow older, perhaps it’s worth considering why you’re not enjoying sex at all?

There are a number of factors for a low libido. One of the biggest influences is our hormones. Hormones affect so many different parts of the body that when one chemical is out of sync, it can cause a nasty brew of issues. Hormones that specifically have an impact on libido include estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone.

Estrogen & Progesterone

When our bodies slow down on progesterone production, it can lead to an estrogen dominance, which causes low libido in women. This can happen naturally during perimenopause, or it can also be brought on by stress.

Yes, stress can actually throw your hormonal balance out of whack. When we’re running top speed on life’s hamster wheel, we produce an excess of cortisol – our stress hormone. The spike in our cortisol levels can then end up blocking our progesterone receptors. The irony is that sex can usually be a huge stress buster.

Symptoms of a progesterone deficiency can include decreased clitoral sensitivity, vaginal dryness, loss of vaginal muscle tension, as well as more general mood killers like fatigue, weight gain, headaches, and depression. Interestingly, a lack of estrogen can also cause similar symptoms. If any combination of these issues sounds familiar to you, it might be your hormones blocking your path to pleasure.

Testosterone

If you’ve always thought testosterone was only important for men, think again. Reduced testosterone levels can have an impact on libido for both sexes.

In women, testosterone is what gives orgasms their oomph, heightening the sexual experience. As you can imagine, low testosterone is going to have the opposite effect, reducing sexual desire and satisfaction. Low testosterone levels in women can also result in lethargy, depression, and muscle weakness. In post-menopausal years, reduced ovarian function and hormone imbalances can reduce the amount of testosterone a woman produces.

Meanwhile, testosterone levels in men gradually decline with age. Testosterone deficiency in men not only diminishes libido and cause erectile dysfunction, but it can also result in a wide range of other symptoms including anxiety, depression, irritability, insomnia, poor memory, and reduced muscle and bone mass. Low testosterone levels can now be found in men of all ages.

Low Energy

Another one of the reasons people often associate a low libido with aging is due to the decrease in energy that comes with getting older. The same could be said about life after kids. As we age or when we become parents, our sleep patterns are interrupted with more frequent awakenings. The libido-crushing effects of a poor-quality sleep does not only impact seniors and parents, but feeling sleepy and irritable can happen to the best of us. Those who suffer from insomnia, irregular sleep patterns, or have sleep apnea may also relate.

In one study, sleep apnea was shown to have an impact on testosterone levels in men. And as mentioned before, fatigue and lethargy can also be a result of hormonal imbalances in women. You see, when it comes to our bodies, everything is connected, which is why it is so important to think of our health as a whole and not in separate parts. In order for us to get better, we need to identify and treat the cause, not the symptoms.

Solutions for a Low Libido

  1. Get Your Hormone Levels Checked
  2. Our bodies are constantly changing, and the longer we ignore symptoms, the more out of balance we can get. When it comes to conditions brought on by our hormones, there is no reason why we have to “learn to live with it.” Start by getting your hormone levels tested properly in order to identify if an imbalance might be at play. Natural hormone replacement options exist and can help get you back on track to feeling like yourself again.

  3. Practice Mindfulness
  4. Sure, “mindfulness” might sound like a cure-all buzzword, but there is a lot of truth to its power. Mindfulness, whether practiced through meditation, yoga or other means, helps us to reduce stress. When we reduce stress, we lower our cortisol levels. And as we already know, when our cortisol levels spike, it has a way of messing a lot of things up inside our bodies.

    A moment of prevention is worth a pound of cure. By starting each morning with a few minutes alone in quiet reflection, we can set the stage for a better day, and more easily ground ourselves when life begins to get busy.

    Let’s not forget that a more mindful day can also help lead to a more restful night. According to the Journal of Sex and Medicine, getting just one more hour of sleep per night could increase your libido by 14 percent.

  5. Dietary Supplements
  6. Maca Powder

    Have you heard of Maca before? This interesting Peruvian plant has become a popular natural aphrodisiac and fertility booster, reputed to boost sex drive in both women and men. In one study, men reported heightened sexual desire after taking Maca for 8 weeks. In another study, men and women who took 3g of Maca daily reported an increase in libido, normally diminished by their prescribed antidepressants.

    Saffron

    This pretty little herb has been proven to safely and effectively improve some sexual problems in women, including arousal, lubrication, and pain. Saffron has shown a positive effect on men with erectile dysfunction as well. In one study, men who took a 200mg tablet of saffron for only ten days showed an increased number and duration of erectile events.

    Watermelon

    Tasty, refreshing, and full of libido-boosting phytonutrients. A juicy slice of watermelon isn’t just nice to share on a romantic picnic, it also contains various beneficial compounds that have been shown to relax blood vessels and enhance your sex drive.

    Are you worried that you’ve lost your mojo? Fear not. We can help you get it back. If you have been experiencing a low sex drive or suspect imbalanced hormones might be at play in other areas of your life, please do not hesitate to contact our clinic at 416-234-1888 or email wellnessreception@sympatico.ca . We can help rebalance your system naturally. A low libido can affect your enjoyment of life and your relationships. There is no reason you should have to settle for less.

    The team at Wellness Institute

    Resources:
    http://www.bumc.bu.edu/sexualmedicine/publications/testosterone-insufficiency-in-women-fact-or-fiction/

Intermittent Fasting for a Longer, Healthier Life

Fasting is one of the oldest therapies in medicine, recognized for its ability to help heal and prevent disease. When done under the proper guidance of a healthcare professional, intermittent fasting can lead to effective weight loss and long-term health benefits.

Fasting Versus Starving: A Big Difference

So, you might be wondering, what’s the difference between intermittent fasting and starvation diets? Well, for starters, starving yourself is dangerous! This isn’t a competition of “less is more.” Our bodies still need fuel to function.

Starvation deprives our body of essential nutrients, so it begins eating itself by burning muscle. Fasting differs from starvation because it can be practiced for 12, 16, 24, 36 or even 48 hours without the body kicking into starvation mode. Fasting flips the metabolic switch safely and effectively by using one fuel source instead of another.

Typically, our bodies are fuelled by glucose, which is a simple sugar. However, through diet restriction or intermittent fasting, that energy source gradually becomes unavailable. As a result, the body begins to convert its stored fat into fatty acids that are easily absorbed by the bloodstream. Fatty acids produce molecules called ketones. (This may ring a bell if you are familiar with the ketogenic diet.) After 8 – 12 hours of fasting, our metabolism shifts to replace glucose with ketones as our new source of energy.

In a world of fad diets and weight loss gimmicks, studies show that intermittent fasting may be better for you than other dietary strategies. This is because ketones put less stress on our cells compared to the by-products of other dieting methods.

Studies also show that intermittent fasting can produce benefits no matter how it’s accomplished!

In one study, participants were allowed to fast for any number of hours a day, and then eat whatever they desired during the remaining hours. In another study, dieters alternated fasting and feasting days. On their non-fasting days, dieters either restricted their diet or ate to their hearts’ content. In both cases, results showed significant weight loss, no matter the approach!

Furthermore, participants in both studies did not lose any significant amount of lean tissue (which includes bone, muscle and organ tissue). This is in contrast to other dieting strategies which can sometimes cause the loss of both fat and lean tissue, impacting health negatively in the long run.

Speaking of the long run, did you know that intermittent fasting helps you to live longer too?

It’s true! New research from Harvard shows that intermittent fasting manipulates the mitochondrial networks inside our cells, which may increase lifespan!

Sure, that sounds great! But how does it work?

Simply put, inside our cells we have energy-producing mitochondria that dynamically change shape in relation to our body’s energy demand. Over time, their ability to produce energy gradually declines, eventually leading to age-related diseases. While fasting is often recommended as a way to promote healthy aging, the connection between metabolism and mitochondria has always been unclear… until now!

The Harvard study shows that low-energy conditions, such as periods of intermittent fasting, can help maintain the flexibility and youthfulness of mitochondrial networks. These youthful networks then communicate with other parts of the body (organelles called peroxisomes) that modulate fat metabolism, which as a result, helps to increase lifespan.

Fasting does not only help you live a longer life, it improves your overall health too! Further studies suggest that fasting can help::

  • Boost the immune system
  • Enhance physical performance
  • Protect cognitive function
  • Reduce inflammatory disorders
  • Slow the progression of tumours
  • Protect against cardiovascular disease

Steps for Effective Fasting

As mentioned, there are numerous different ways to fast that are equally effective. Below are a few fasting tips to help you on your way.

  1. Set a fasting schedule and stick to it. If you’re a beginner, meal skipping is an excellent way to introduce yourself to fasting. If you choose to do a 12 or 16 hour fast, arrange your fasting window during sleeping hours to help the time pass by more easily. Fasting for 24 hours once a week or alternating day fasting are other options to try. Be sure to consult your healthcare professional to determine what might work best for you.
  2. Stay hydrated. You might be limiting your intake of food, but you certainly shouldn’t limit your consumption of calorie-free beverages. Be sure to drink plenty of water or switch it up with herbal teas.
  3. Relax your body and your mind. During fasting days, don’t participate in strenuous activities or spend your time obsessing over the food you can’t eat. Go easy on yourself by finding things to keep your body and mind occupied in a productive, gentle way. Take a walk or do light exercise that won’t exhaust you, like yoga. Spend a few hours binge-watching your favourite TV show or catching up on emails. Your next meal will come before you know it!
  4. Make your calories count. Between fasting windows, enjoy nutrient-dense foods that provide protein, fibre, and healthy fats. Learn how to increase flavours without sacrificing calories by adding garlic, herbs, spices, and different types of vinegar to your dishes.

If you think you are thinking about fasting but have never tried it before, I invite you to please reach out to our clinic so we can discuss which options might be best for you. Please feel free to book an appointment with us by calling 416-234-1888 or emailing wellnessreception@sympatico.ca and we can help you get back on track with better weight management and a healthier, longer, and happier life!

The team at Wellness Institute

References:
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321690.php
https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2017/11/intermittent-fasting-may-be-center-of-increasing-lifespan/
https://www.osher.ucsf.edu/patient-care/self-care-resources/cancer-and-nutrition/frequently-asked-questions/cancer-and-fasting-calorie-restriction/
https://news.yale.edu/2015/02/16/anti-inflammatory-mechanism-dieting-and-fasting-revealed

Will Organic Food Really Change My Health?

How would you describe “organic food” quickly in three words or less? Good for you? Or expensive? Neither is a wrong answer.

We often hear in broad terms about how organic food is good for you and good for the environment. And, although we want to do the right thing for our bodies and our planet, the premium prices hardly seem fair. Walk into any grocery store, and you’ll see how organic food is priced significantly higher than conventional produce. Sometimes nearly double! So, why is that?

Unlike conventional farming, which uses synthetic fertilizers to boost crops with an instant punch of nutrients, organic foods are fertilized by organic matter. The difference is that compost and animal manure slowly build the soil, releasing their nutrients naturally over time. This slow and steady approach generally means that an organic crop will yield approximately 20% fewer crops than their conventional competitors.

So what’s a health and eco-conscious shopper to do? Do you buy into the hype without really knowing, or is the difference truly worth it?

According to a new study in Nature Plants, yes, it’s worth it!

Organic agriculture has been proven to be sustainable in numerous key areas, including its ability to:

  • Benefit soil quality and the environment,
  • Provide economically viable jobs to farmers,
  • Support social well-being with meaningful interactions between farmers and consumers.

These are all great reasons to make a difference with your dollars by supporting the organic food movement. But chances are you’re still wondering….

How does organic food actually benefit me?

  1. Organic food has more vitamins and minerals. Without the use of pesticides, organic fruits and vegetables must fend for themselves. They do so by producing more of their own antioxidants to guard against harm. Studies show that organic foods contain 18 – 69% more antioxidants than conventionally grown crops. This means that organic eaters consume nearly twice as many cancer-fighting, age-reversing, immune-boosting antioxidants every day!
  2. In addition to those awesome antioxidants, one study also shows that organic foods have higher levels of vitamin C, iron, phosphorus, and magnesium than conventionally raised crops.

    Meanwhile, remember those synthetic fertilizers we mentioned earlier? Well, they get that big boost of energy via high levels of nitrogen. This causes conventionally grown crops to have higher levels of sugars and starches as opposed to the protective antioxidants found in organic foods.

    So, which would you rather be eating?

  3. Organic food is less toxic than conventionally grown crops. It’s probably something we all assume when we think of “organic,” but it’s good to know that there is scientific proof backing that assumption. A meta-analysis of 343 peer-reviewed studies conducted by the British Journal of Nutrition found that conventional crops have higher levels of the toxic metal cadmium as well as pesticide residues.
  4. As you may have heard, researchers also found an increased cancer risk in children near California strawberry farms that use pesticides. And in recent news the large agricultural corporation, Monsanto which manufactures a well-known pesticide, just lost a lawsuit with a cancer patient, and now owe him 289 million dollars. He simply applied Monsanto’s weed killer pesticide regularly on the school lawn he was in charge of caring for.

    To learn more about which crops you should always buy organic based on pesticide levels, there is a great resource created annually by EWG, a nonprofit organization that advocates for policies that protect global and individual health. The EWG Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce” ranks the pesticides levels in 47 different fruits and vegetables. Talk about leaving a bad taste in your mouth! Speaking of which….

  5. Organic food tastes better! At some point in your life, you’ve likely compared strawberries from the grocer to those fresh from the garden. Even without considering that toxic tidbit above, which would you honestly say tasted better? Odds are it was the berry from the garden.

When plants are grown without pesticides, their taste is naturally improved. The higher antioxidant levels found in organic foods also impacts how we detect flavour through organoleptic qualities such as taste, aroma, and mouth-feel. Plus, organic foods carry the distinct flavours of a region’s soil, which further enhances their natural taste.

When we look at the long-term effect of toxins in our system, we see an increase in autoimmune disease, hormonal imbalances, and nutrient deficiencies that lead to more significant health issues. In Naturopathic Medicine we seek to remove the factors affecting the body from healing itself, and in most cases that includes enhancing the body’s own ability to eliminate toxins. The more we know about how pesticides and other chemicals harm us, the more we can stay away from things that are not serving our longevity, our daily health and the health of our families.

They say you get what you pay for, and that statement holds true with organic foods. Buying organic might cost a bit more, but consider it an investment towards improved health, greater flavour, and more sustainability!

Maybe you can’t afford to buy all organic all the time – most people can’t. But that doesn’t mean it needs to be all or nothing. Throw a few organic items into your cart now and then, or better still, make friends with the farmers at your local market. As with anything in life, small actions add up to make a real difference.

So yes, organic food is worth it!

If you have other questions about nutrition or natural ways to improve your health, detoxification from environmental pesticides or other chemicals, please feel free to contact our clinic. We would be happy to help. Just give us a call at 416-234-1888 or email wellnessreception@sympatico.ca . We would love to hear from you.
The team at Wellness Institute

References:
https://www.nature.com/articles/nplants2015221
https://news.wsu.edu/2014/07/11/major-study-documents-benefits-of-organic-farming/#.U8AkH41dXA3
https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/107555301750164244
https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/dirty-dozen.php

How your thoughts affect your health



Our mind-body connection is far more powerful than we realize. Our thoughts influence our emotions by the way we experience the world around us. Even when we imagine future situations or visualize potential outcomes, our bodies physically respond to our thoughts.

Think of how you react when someone cuts you off in traffic and nearly causes an accident. The incident may only last a moment, and, at that instant, your body immediately prepares for the potential outcome, triggering a surge of adrenaline, which is the body’s hormonal response to a fight or flight situation. This sort of physical reaction isn’t limited to a release of adrenaline. Our thoughts can trigger our bodies to experience all types of physiological responses from changes in blood pressure and heart rate to chemical alterations in the brain. These changes can be harmless, or, over time, they can be detrimental to your health.

The Placebo Phenomenon

In 2013, a study was conducted on 270 patients looking to alleviate severe arm pain. Half of the subjects received acupuncture treatments, and the other half received pain-reducing pills. Some side-effects experienced in both groups included an increase in pain, sluggishness, swelling, and redness. Both groups found relief with treatment, but those who received acupuncture reported feeling even better than the group that did not receive this treatment. However, the study was not designed to measure the effectiveness of acupuncture versus pain pills — the needles had retractable shafts and never pierced the skin, and the painkillers were made of cornstarch — it measured the power of placebos.

Imagine! Even without any actual treatment, the body still reacted according to what each patient expected. Of course, you cannot think yourself better to remove a tumour or cure a virus, but researchers have found that the power of the mind can have a physical impact when it comes to pain, depression, anxiety, fatigue, and even some symptoms of Parkinson’s.

Our brain chemistry is also affected by those around us.

In another study conducted at the University of Turin Medical School, 100 students went on a trip to the Italian Alps with the researcher Fabrizio Benedetti. Shortly before the trip, Benedetti told one individual in the group that the thin air may cause migraines. A few days passed, giving the rumour time to make the rounds to one-quarter of the travellers – all of whom experienced horrible headaches. Saliva tests on the “socially-infected” individuals also revealed low oxygen conditions beyond what was expected.

Now, apply that study to our everyday lives and how gossip and social media snark can poison our minds. What happens when family and friends fuel your negative expectations, worries, and doubts? It feels horrible, doesn’t it? And what about the opposite – what happens when you’re loved ones surround you with warmth and encouragement? It feels amazing and makes life’s challenges feel more achievable.

Embracing positive social support makes a difference to your health!

Change your thoughts. Change your life.

Play along for a moment and allow yourself to take in a long conscious breath.

Feel how the air moves through your body as you inhale and exhale.

Now take another full deep breath.

And another.

One more.

How do you feel? Did time slow down a little? Did you enjoy a brief moment of peace? Or did you not play along at all, anxious to move on to the next thing?

If only we lived breath by breath instead of task-by-task. Our to-do lists will never be empty, so we must schedule time in our day to reconnect with ourselves. We act like finding time to meditate is beyond our control. It isn’t. And the results are worth it!

Spending a moment in meditation each morning is one of the best things you can do for your health and well-being. Even if only for ten minutes, it is an investment of time you’ll never regret. By starting your day on the right track, it makes it that much easier to get yourself back on track whenever life goes off the rails.

The Benefits of Meditation

  • Meditation deepens your self-connection on a physical, mental and spiritual level.
  • Meditation helps to release suppressed emotions by giving you space to reset.
  • Meditation enhances our overall health and wellbeing by increasing positive emotions and improving immune function.

Studies have also shown that when we work on our emotional awareness and self-compassion, we can experience a healthier response to rejection, improve eating behaviours, and effectively manage weight loss.

No matter your struggle, success always begins with a positive frame of mind.

Perspective is everything.

A few key points to remember…

  1. Stress is not inherently negative – it all depends on how you look at things. If you perceive something as a threat, then your health will deteriorate. However, if you simply change your mindset from threat to challenge, then you enhance your health! So, ask yourself — are you running away from a lion or are you embracing the beast?
  2. Emotions are only energy in motion. Instead of thinking of your emotions as a hindrance, consider them the currency required for the motivation to change. Unresolved feelings don’t atrophy or disappear – their dammed-up energies accumulate. Like an untreated health condition, if your emotions are allowed to fester inwardly, they will eventually cause physical conditions and behavioural issues.
  3. Both negative and positive emotions left unresolved will deplete the body’s immune system. Acknowledge your feelings and learn how to manage them effectively. Managing emotions leads to homeostasis in the body, centeredness of mind, and spiritual connection. Remember, if there are no peaks or valleys, you’re flatlining!

Do you find yourself entrenched in negative thought patterns? Do you think some of your health concerns might be related to your outlook on life? Let’s discuss and see if we can uncover the triggers behind your health issues and develop strategies to overcome them together. Contact our clinic, and we’ll start working on bringing you back to your best.

Call or email us at 416-234-1888 or wellnessreception@sympatico.ca.

To your best health!

Wellness Institute

Research:

https://www.nejm.org/doi/10.1056/NEJMp1504023
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26164587
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12883106
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/316737540_Stomaching_rejection_Self-compassion_and_self-esteem_moderate_the_impact_of_daily_social_rejection_on_restrictive_eating_behaviours_among_college_women
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/324225709_A_qualitative_analysis_of_the_role_of_emotions_in_different_patterns_of_long-term_weight_loss


What is SIBO and Do You Have It?

    Despite its name, the small intestine is actually a whopping 20 feet of very important business. Working alongside your stomach and large intestine, the small intestine has the important job of digesting food and absorbing nutrients to keep us in good health. As if that wasn’t significant enough, our little intestinal friend is also a key contributor to a healthy immune system.

    The small intestine plays host to specific beneficial microorganisms that help protect our bodies against bad (pathogenic) bacteria and yeast. These good bacteria also do their part to produce vitamins and nutrients like vitamin K and folate. They are the keepers of the small intestine, ensuring that it continues to do its thing, muscling waves of food through the gut.

    What is SIBO?

    Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth or SIBO occurs when there is an increase of bacteria and/or a change in the type of bacteria present. Most often SIBO is caused by an overgrowth of the wrong types of bacteria that actually belong in the colon (the large intestine).

    SIBO is like a bad tenant. It invites all its rowdy friends in for a party and damages the cell lining of the small bowel. This can lead to leaky gut, allowing large protein molecules to move through the intestinal barrier and escape into the bloodstream. As you can imagine, this causes a number of problems, including general inflammation, immune reactions that cause food allergies, and autoimmune diseases.

    These havoc-causing bad bacteria are also responsible for poor digestion, diarrhea and malabsorption. Patients with SIBO may suffer from nutritional deficiencies, particularly iron, vitamin B12, and fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, as well as unintended weight loss, and even osteoporosis.

    How do you know if you have SIBO?

    SIBO is considered an underdiagnosed condition as many people do not seek medical care for their symptoms.

    Common SIBO symptoms include:

    • Bloating and abdominal swelling
    • Abdominal pain or discomfort
    • Diarrhea
    • Constipation
    • Gas and belching
    • Weakness and fatigue

    In the most severe cases, patients experience weight loss and vitamin deficiency-related symptoms.

    Are you at risk for SIBO?

    While the elderly may be the most vulnerable to developing SIBO as its prevalence rises with age, there are multiple other risk factors that can increase your chances, no matter how old you are. These include:

    • Medication, especially antibiotics
    • Gastric acid suppression or Low Stomach Acid (due to stress, medications, lifestyle factors)
    • Fibromyalgia
    • Celiac disease
    • Crohn’s disease
    • Prior bowel surgery
    • Diabetes Types I & II
    • Irritable bowel syndrome
    • Organ system dysfunction

    Studies also indicate that moderate alcohol consumption — that’s one drink a day for the ladies and two for men — not only promotes the overgrowth of certain types of bacteria, but it can also impair vital functions resulting in small bowel injury and decreased muscle contractions.

    If you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above or think you might be at risk, then we encourage you to make an appointment to assess your symptoms and get tested. Specialized testing can be accomplished through a breath test. This breath test measures your hydrogen and methane gas levels produced by the bacterial metabolism and can be a very helpful indicator to determine if you are suffering from SIBO.

    How can you treat SIBO?

    Despite multiple courses of antibiotics being a risk factor, antibiotics are still most often used to treat SIBO. However, studies show that SIBO returns in nearly half of all patients within only a year!

    Successful treatment of SIBO must be handled just like any other health condition – not with a temporary Band-aid solution, but by addressing the underlying cause! Intestinal bacteria can be influenced by numerous factors beyond what we eat and how much. Environmental effects, drugs, alcohol, and lifestyle factors such as stress can all be contributing factors to poor gut health. Therefore, the treatment must be unique to the individual.

    Once you have identified the cause, treat SIBO symptoms through a healthy diet, nutritional supplements and positive lifestyle changes that help return the body to balance.

    Tips for dealing with SIBO

    1. Eat three meals a day 4-5 hour apart and avoid snacking. We need to give our body time in between meals to improve our intestinal motility. More often than not, motility becomes an issue with people suffering from SIBO.
    2. With guidance from your holistic practitioner try an elimination diet for two weeks to get your body back on track by reducing inflammation and bacteria overgrowth.
    3. Enjoy foods that assist digestive health like fresh pineapple which is rich in bromelain and can also help lower inflammation, and bananas which are an excellent source of potassium and manganese that your stomach lining needs for healing.

    Do any of the above symptoms or risk factors sound familiar? Do you think you might be suffering from SIBO? Our clinic can help! Please contact us, and we’ll get to the bottom of what’s going on and create a plan of action to bring your body back to good health.

    Call or email us at416-234-1888 or wellnessreception@sympatico.ca.

    To your best health!

    Wellness Institute

    References:
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3099351/
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22109896
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2890937/