There are plenty of good reasons to take an antibiotic, and despite what some people assume naturopathic doctor's must think of them, I am not anti-antibiotics! In fact, I have just finished a 7-day course of antibiotics myself (to prevent infection following a fairly major dental surgery).
But - these meds, while important and life-saving in some situations, are generally widely overused, and have consequences associated with them. Since I've had a recent rendezvous with these drugs, I thought I would share what you need to know if you find yourself in the same boat as me, and want to prevent some of the potential consequences associated with antibiotic medication!
Antibiotics unfortunately cannot enter our body and find the infection they are intended to treat and just kill off those bad bacteria. They kill a lot of innocent bystanders too! I have lots of patients in my practice who account for their health issues starting after finishing a round of antibiotics - and this may very likely be due to the impact that antibiotics have on our microbiome.
Yep, I know. That sounds weird and freaky. Let me explain.
What if I told you that your body contains more cells of microbes than there are cells of YOU?
Well prepared to be shocked and awed, because it's true! If you're like me, you were raised believing that bacteria are bad - they cause illness and sickness and they should be killed. Now don't get me wrong, some bacteria are really bad and can make you incredibly sick. But, there is a huge population of bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites and yeast that live on and within our body that also make us incredibly healthy - this is called our microbiome.
Our microbiome serves a lot of functions - the bugs in our gut help us to digest our food, they play a very important role in the modulation of our immune system, they release happy hormones like serotonin, and they help us to manage our weight. In fact, the microbiome likely plays a role in every system in our body, from our skin to our brain.
Think of the microbiome like a high school full of teenagers. If you are in a nice neighbourhood, the kids that go to the local high school likely go to class, are polite to the teachers, do their homework and maybe even volunteer after school. There might a few "bad kids" but they get peer pressured to be good; the school is a nice place. Every parent wants to send their kids there.
But, if you are in a bad neighbourhood, oh boy. The kids at this school skip class, they vandalize, steal from each other and are super rude. There are a few nice kids, sure, but they can't stop their classmates from behaving badly, they are outnumbered. You should probably move to a different school district.
Lots of things can damage a nice microbiome environment, including stress, a high sugar diet and some medications. The worst offender though, is an antibiotic. When they enter your body, they cannot tell precisely which ones are the bad bacteria making you sick, and which ones are the good guys defending your health, so (generally speaking) they kill whatever they come across.
I know what you're thinking... I thought it too. So much so that I considered not taking the meds at all! Not worth the hassle, I thought. I've had SO many patients in my practice who can definitely link the start of their IBS, anxiety, eczema, or other health concern to a time when they had to take antibiotics.
But I knew better - I knew that this medication was critically important for my health given the circumstances (jaw bone and potentially brain infection... no thank you), and I knew I could do my best to prevent any unintended consequences.
So, if you've been prescribed an antibiotic, here is what you need to consider:
A note on timing - you want to take your antibiotic and your probiotic away from one another (2-3 hours approximately). They don't interact negatively, but if you take them too close together, the antibiotic will kill off your probiotics too. You should also take your probiotic with food. So, for example, if you take your antibiotic morning and night, take your probiotic at lunch. Continue to take your probiotic and focus on eating well for at least a month following the antibiotics.
If you feel like your gut health or general health has been impacted by taking an antibiotic, consult with your Naturopathic Doctor (I am accepting new patients if you don't have one yet!) to get your microbiome back on track! Your entire health depends on it!
I'm so excited to announce that I as of May 1st 2017 I will be joining the awesome wellness team at Toronto Yoga Mamas on Queen East in Leslieville, Toronto! I will be at Yoga Mamas on Mondays from 1pm-8pm and Fridays from 9am-1pm. I will also have weekend appointments available by appointment only.
The Toronto Yoga Mamas wellness team is a one-stop-shop for all your holistic health needs as a mama or mama to be. With amazing chiropractors, acupuncturists, pelvic floor physiotherapists and registered massage therapists, you and your body are well taken care of. At Toronto Yoga Mamas I will be offering Prenatal, Postpartum, Fertility, and General Women's Health Naturopathic Medicine Services.
And as the name suggests, Toronto Yoga Mamas started as a beautiful yoga studio, and has grown organically to include anything and everything a new mom might need - from educational events, doula services, workshops, a beautiful boutique shop, and more. The studio is such a relaxing place, and I invite you to come by soon for a visit with me!
You can book online, give the studio a call at (416) 406-0116, or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org
Struggling with bloating, gas, abdominal discomfort and weird bowel habits? You might have Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS.
IBS is the most common digestive health concern amongst Canadians! In fact, it is estimated that 4-6 million Canadians are suffering with IBS (that's about 11-17% of us!)
April is IBS Awareness Month, and since this condition is amongst one of the most common things I help people with in my practice, I am committed to spreading knowledge and helping people understand this complex condition. It is important that you know that while IBS is VERY common, it's not normal, and you don't have to suffer. There are a lot of things to consider and investigate after being given a diagnosis of IBS - and you are not necessarily destined to a lifetime of abdominal pain, looking 6 months pregnant, and constantly needing to know where the nearest washroom is.
In this video blog, I share with you the Top 5 Facts about IBS that I think everyone needs to know! Please watch, and of course, let me know if you have any questions! I will post in the future about natural treatments for IBS, and other strategies to help you with IBS, but I also encourage you to come to my seminar this upcoming Thursday, April 20th at Integra Health Centre from 12-1pm where I will be discussing how to Banish Bloating (the Naturopathic Guide to managing your IBS!) We will also be streaming this on Facebook Live - I gave you the instruction as to where to find this in the video, but feel free to follow me on Facebook and I'll post the link to the video as soon as I can!
I hope you enjoyed it!
Do you have questions about IBS? Comment below, send me an email, or feel free to book yourself in for a complimentary 15 minute meet and greet where we can discuss what you've been experiencing in more detail, and I can let you know if I can help you!
If you are having trouble getting pregnant, and you have irregular periods, acne, unwanted hair growth, or difficulty losing weight, you might have a condition called PCOS.
Polycystic ovarian syndrome, or PCOS as I’ll refer to it moving forward, is a common and complex medical condition that can be challenging to diagnose. It unfortunately can affect your ability to get pregnant, and left untreated might lead to other negative consequences to your hormonal and overall health, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The good news is that there are a lot of natural treatments for PCOS available. In fact, the first line therapy for PCOS is not a drug, but diet and lifestyle modification. With the support of your Naturoapthic Doctor, you can reduce the severity of the symptoms, improve your fertility, get pregnant (if that’s what you want right now!), and prevent the long term consequences associated with this hormonal and metabolic health condition.
Do you have PCOS?
To be diagnosed with PCOS, doctors utilize a set of factors called the Rotterdam Criteria, and must identify that you have two of the three following:
In addition to these formal criteria, there are a lot of other signs and symptoms associated with PCOS. To review, the signs and symptoms of PCOS include any or all of the following:
Sound like you?
First of all, don’t panic! When I see a patient in my practice who has concerns about her period or her fertility, we go through a thorough system review to see if we suspect PCOS is playing a role. We may decide to do some hormone testing to see where your levels are at, and I might recommend you speak with your medical doctor about getting a pelvic ultrasound done. Once the diagnosis of PCOS has been made, we can move forward with a individualized treatment plan to address the major factors playing a role.
I am currently accepting new patients in my practice and welcome you to book yourself in for a complimentary 15 minute meet and greet appointment so we can discuss your current concerns and to see if we’re a good fit. I am incredibly passionate about helping women to understand their hormonal health and to support them in finding balance, to reduce both the symptoms associated with PCOS (let’s get rid of those chin hairs!), the impacts of PCOS on your fertility, and the long term consequences on your overall metabolic health.
Stay tuned for future posts about natural treatments for PCOS and other hormonal conditions, including unexplained infertility, endometriosis, PMS and more.
The odds of getting pregnant in any given cycle are only 20%! This might sound like too low of a number if you are ready to start a family! While half of couples will be pregnant within 3 months of trying and 85% within 1 year, if you and your partner have been trying to conceive and aren't having success as quickly as you'd like to, you might consider adding acupuncture into your routine. As a Naturopathic Doctor, I use acupuncture daily in my practice, and often suggest that my patient's consider it as part of their health toolkit. Make sure to read to the end to get the answers to the many frequently asked questions I get about this therapy (no, it doesn't hurt!)
Acupuncture has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years to improve health and treat disease. It's traditional use is well established, and modern research is confirming for us that it is a safe and effective tool. While the precise way in which it works is still not crystal clear, it's been proposed that there are multiple mechanisms through which an acupuncture needle works it's magic. Most notably, when it comes to fertility and pregnancy, it is thought to help:
The thing I love the most about using acupuncture with my patients who are trying to get pregnant is that it is safe to use even if you are already working with a fertility clinic doing cycle monitoring, or if you are using any assisted reproductive technology (ART) like IUI or IVF. Also, unlike some of the awesome fertility supporting supplements available to us, acupuncture doesn't interact with any medications you might be taking to stimulate ovulation or the growth of your uterine lining!
You should consider acupuncture if:
I get it though - you're nervous! I'm suggesting sticking needles into your body to help you get pregnant. So, to ease your worries, let me answer some of the common and frequently asked questions I get about acupuncture!
Does it hurt?
The needles should not be painful or uncomfortable. When I am putting them in, you might feel a slight pinch and a little bit of an achy sensation, but definitely nothing sharp or stabbing. A lot of my patients tell me that they don't feel anything at all! I want you to be able to relax while the needles are in, and if you are in pain then you can't do that very effectively! So, if the needle hurts, I'll move it or take it out entirely. You are in control the whole time!
Where do the needles go?
Since acupuncture can be so highly individualized, the answer really depends! But typically needles will get put in your arms, legs and abdomen. Sometimes I also put needles on your ear or head (these ones are powerhouse points for calming your mind!)
How big are the needles?
The needles I use for fertility acupuncture range in size from 15-40mm. The size of the needle depends on the location which it's going in. A needle into the muscles of your thigh can be a bit longer than one going into your wrist, for example. They are about 0.2 mm in diameter. To give you context, a sewing needle is about 1mm in diameter, and the needles used to draw blood from your vein or to inject an immunization into your arm is about 25mm in diameter - a huge difference!
My partner and I are going to do IVF (in-vitro fertilization), can acupuncture help in this situation?
ABSOLUTELY! In fact, some studies have suggested that pregnancy rates are increased in women who have acupuncture pre- and post-IVF vs. those women who do not have acupuncture. I am available to travel to fertility clinics in the GTA to provide this service on site! Get in touch with me if this is something you are interested in! Having acupuncture on the day of your embryo transfer can not only help to improve your chances for a positive pregnancy test, but it can be very helpful to reduce stress, and reduce pain or cramping associated with the procedure.
How often should I get acupuncture?
Again, the true answer is "it depends!" In an ideal world, you would get a treatment once per week. If we have reason to suspect you are not ovulating or your menstrual cycle is really wonky, then this really is the best course of action to see success with acupuncture. If we are confident you are ovulating, then I might just see you once or twice after you ovulate for a treatment. The majority of my patients see me once pre-ovulation and once-post ovulation.
If you're interested in learning more about how acupuncture might help you, then please reach out to me to book a complimentary 15 minute meet and greet (these can be done in person or by phone.) We can discuss your individual health history and goals in more detail, and I can give you some more information about how acupuncture might help you!
And of course, if you have any questions - shoot me an email or comment below!
The holidays are just around the corner and if you're like me, you haven't got started on your shopping. Don't you worry, I've got you covered! I love the act of giving gifts, and in the spirit of wellness, what better gift could you give to those that you love than that of the gift of health?! Read below for my top 12 Naturopath-Approved holiday gift ideas for 2016 that are sure to wow those nearest and dearest to your heart!
1. A beautiful bottle of local red wine.
Ontario is home to some amazing wineries - so why not shop local this season and pick up an anti-oxidant rich bottle of red vino.
My fave: Norman Hardie from Prince Edward County
2. Healthy/clean lip balm.
Beauty products are one of the biggest sources of chemical exposure in our day to day life. Give the gift of clean beauty with some chemical free, naturally sourced products.
My fave: Hurraw Tinted Black Cherry
3. Carbonated beverage maker.
I'll be the first to admit that water can become boring. Spritz things up a bit with some carbonated water. This is a great way to help your loved one wean off their soda addiction.
My fave: Sodastream
4. A fitness tracker.
It tracks movement, sleep, and so much more. To help inspire healthy change, your loved ones need to know how they measure up!
My fave: FitBit Alta in Pink
5. Herbal Tea
A cup of tea is such a universal way to enjoy company with those you care for. Be careful to avoid tea that tastes like cake - though it might taste delish, it likely has a bunch of added sugar, flavours or artificial ingredients.
My fave: Traditional Medicinals
6. A high powered blender.
Smoothie addicts will totally get this. A good blender takes your breakfast game from chunky to smooth. No one likes chewing bits of kale while trying to enjoy their blended bevy. (p.s. This is one of the best gifts I've ever received... )
My fave: Vitamix
7. A reusable water bottle.
If I had a dollar for everytime I heard someone tell me that they don't drink enough water, I would be rich! Gift your dehydrated friend a water bottle so they have no more excuses. Opt for stainless steel or glass to prevent the bottle from leaching chemicals into the water itself.
My fave: S'well
8. Dark Chocolate
It wouldn't be the holidays without some chocolate! Give your friends and family dark chocolate that is 80% or higher cocoa - it is actually good for their health!
My fave: Giddy YoYo Organic Raw Salt & Vanilla 82% Dark Chocolate
9. A veggie spiralizer.
Spiralized vegetables were definitely a 2016 food trend! For your pals that have not yet jumped on board, expand their pasta and side dish horizons with this neat kitchen tool.
My fave: Starfrit Spiralizer
10. A slow cooker.
Heading home from work on a dark, cold evening is made so much better knowing that dinner is waiting for you at home, cooked and ready to eat! A slow cooker can change everything when it comes to batch cooking, meal planing and healthy eating.
My fave: Hamilton Beach Set 'N Forget Programmable Slow Cooker
11. A health care gift card
For the person who already has everything and maybe isn't into gadgets, give the gift of health-care. Integra gift cards can be redeemed for any wellness or rehab services, including massage therapy, physiotherapy, chiropractic, osteopathy or a Naturopathic visit with yours truly!
My fave: Integra Health Centre
12. Your favourite cookbook.
Whether your loved one already loves to cook, or doesn't know a spatula from a serated knife... cookbooks can help inspire those from expert to beginner to make healthy homemade meals. I love simple and straight forward recipes that are easy to follow.
My fave: Jamie Oliver's Super Food Family Classics
What are you gifting to your loved ones this year? Or what are you hoping might be under the tree for you? Let me know in the comments section below!
Have a Happy & Healthy Holidays,
Here is the link to the intro post from last week, in case you missed it!
"Eat more vegetables," they say!
"They are good for you! I swear!"
"But you have to have kale, it's a superfood."
But you hate kale... and tomatoes make you cringe. Or maybe you detest how celery always gets stuck in your teeth, or the fact that spaghetti squash just doesn't taste like spaghetti.
I get it, veggies can be tough. At the recommended 8-10 servings per day, it might feel like getting all of that in means you're chomping on veg all day. But - fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your perspective, vegetables are actually really (really!) good for you. Chalked full of vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants, and fibre - regardless of the type, there is not a single one that I would tell you to avoid. The same cannot be said of our other 3 food groups - protein, carbs and fat, where there are more rules to follow (coming up on the blog over the next 3 weeks!) All of the research concretely tells us that the people who eat the most vegetables as a proportion of their overall diet have the lowest rates of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, cholesterol and all of those other awful chronic diseases. Not to mention a diet rich in vegetables is going to provide you energy, help to keep anxiety levels down, support a healthy mood and keep those hormones in check. Hook this girl up with a salad, ASAP.
But how do we make this practical? I have two great lists in this post, but first, I want to set some ground rules.
Yup - I mean it. No more calorie counting! The old notion that to maintain your weight you need to ensure that calories in = calories out might not make sense anymore. What might even be more detrimental is that if you are trying to LOSE weight, it's not as simple as making sure that you're burning more than you're putting in - turns out that the balance of your meal matters, in a big big way!
With March being Nutrition Month, I want to take you back to basics to understand why the balance in your meals matters. We're going to talk about creating a balanced meal, which in my opinion can be divided into 4 main groups - Vegetables, Protein, Carbohydrates and Fat.
In addition to maintaining or losing weight, following these simple guidelines is going to help with many other health conditions or help you achieve other health goals. Specifically, eating a meal that contains each of these 4 food groups is going to be helpful if you are:
Meet the Healthy Plate!
Looks simple right? And guess what? It actually is. There is no catch, there is no surprise - this is it. I'm not going to tell you that you also need to be consuming 4 cups per day of some random superfood, there is no juicing or cleansing or fasting involved - it really can be this simple.
Over the next month I want to clarify for you what foods fall into each of these 4 categories so that you will be empowered to make the right decisions whether you are at home cooking for yourself, getting take out for lunch, or going out for dinner with friends - with these guidelines in mind I'm confident you can always make an informed choice about what to eat that is going to help you feel GOOD and stay aligned with your goals.
I'll be back next week for our 1st lesson on vegetables!
Happy Nutrition Month!
Smoothies are one of my favourite go-to quick and healthy breakfasts or snacks. They are a fantastic way to add nutrition to your diet - especially protein (which women often fall short of getting enough of). Protein is an absolute must at breakfast to help keep your blood sugar levels stable, give you energy, and keep cravings at bay. What I love about this smoothie is that it's creamy, packed with protein and is good for your heart! The secret ingredient to make this so? The very aptly named Hemp Heart!
Only 3 tbsp of hemp seeds (or Hemp Hearts) contain a whopping 10g of protein, and 2.5g of heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids. They add a bit of a nutty flavour when blended into a smoothie (which is deeee-lish) but I also love to sprinkle them on top of a salad, Greek yogurt, or oatmeal to give those foods a heart-healthy boost.
Omega-3 fatty acids are highly anti-inflammatory, which protects your heart and blood vessels from damage in the long term. They are also very helpful for conditions like menstrual cramps, anxiety, or irritable bowel syndrome which all have an element of inflammation involved.
Make this smoothie for yourself or double it to share it with someone who's heart you care for!
These beauty little seeds above are hemp seeds - since they are so small they blend really well into your smoothie and leave no hint of grittiness or odd textures.
Ingredients (makes 1 smoothie, double as needed!)
Happy February Everyone!
I hope you have had a wonderful start to 2016 and have gotten yourself back into a bit of a groove since the holidays. It's hard to believe that it's already February - especially given the unseasonably warm weather we've been having here in Toronto. It's been nice to not have to bundle up too much or trudge along in the snow for my walks to and from work, but it also isn't leaving much room for ski days or snow angels!
This month we'll be focusing on HEART HEALTH and LOVE - given that February is, in fact, Heart Month according to Health Canada, but also the month where we are inundated by Valentine's Day propaganda (no heart shaped boxes of chocolate for me, thank you!) So what will we be focusing on? Here's what you can look forward to on the blog and on social this month:
If you want to keep up with all the action, be sure to follow along here on the blog, but also on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!