Articles & Workshops

Select a Topic

Articles & Workshops

Winter Workshop Series

Unless otherwise noted, all workshops are held free of charge at Kingston Integrated Healthcare, located at 541 Palace Road, near the Kingston Centre.

Kindly call to register early! We request 24 hours notice if you must cancel.

Please contact us for detailed information about our workshops. We welcome your suggestions for workshop ideas and improvements.

Managing Holiday Stress

Facilitated by Dr. Christina Vlahopoulos, ND
Kingston Integrated Healthcare
Wednesday, November 24th, 7 to 8pm

We all know we should take the time to relax during the holidays… But few of us actually do. Please join Dr. Christina for some helpful, realistic, tips.

Healthy Heart

Facilitated by Dr. Jennifer Wheeler, ND
Kingston Integrated Healthcare
Tuesday, November 30th, 7 to 8:30pm

Know your risk of developing cardiovascular disease! Create a unique plan that addresses your particular risk factors. Dr. Jennifer will lead a discussion of various risk factors and advanced laboratory testing that can help to put your heart health potential into perspective.

Advanced Reiki Therapy

Facilitated by Carol Belanger, BA, RM
Kingston Integrated Healthcare
Wednesday December 1st, 7 to 8:30pm

Many wise medicines teach that every disease has a physical and emotional component. Whether you’re familiar with reiki or new to the concept, this is your chance to explore the kinds of therapies that excel at supporting the emotional component of physical illness. Carol has studied with many advanced teachers and brings more than 10 years of experience to her practice.

Anger Expression is a Risk Factor for Heart Disease

A recent Canadian study was published in the American Heart Journal that evaluated different methods of expressing anger in 785 men and women, and the associated outcomes for heart health. Anger expression was evaluated by trained health professionals who conducted detailed surveys and video-taped interviews with participants. Types of anger expression included constructive, goal-oriented expression, and destructive expressions that included self-justifying behaviour (e.g. removing oneself from blame for the angering situation), and brooding behaviour (e.g. where an individual might hold a grudge and feel more anger over time).

Relative to participants who had high constructive anger expression scores, participants with low constructive anger scores were more likely to feel depressed. Those with high destructive anger scores were more likely to be hostile and have diabetes. Both types of people were more likely to smoke, and both genders in both categories of poorer anger expression had increased risk (31% for those with high destructive anger scores), for developing coronary heart disease in 10 years.

Interestingly, of participants demonstrating a high ability to express anger constructively, only the men were benefited by a reduced risk of for coronary heart disease of 41%. The authors of the study suggest that this gender difference might be societal, given that women and men are taught to express anger differently. Regardless, the end result is clinical evidence that emotions do impact heart health, and that learning to express anger in a healthy way may benefit your heart in a measurable way.

Vitamin D More Effective than the Flu Shot

From Integrated Roots e-newsletter, October 2010

Multiple studies demonstrate the relationship between vitamin D deficiency and increased susceptibility to catching the cold and flu. In fact, one recent study found adequate vitamin D levels to be more protective against the flu than the flu shot! The Canadian Health Measures survey by Statistics Canada estimates that only 35% of Canadians have adequate vitamin D levels. Are your levels adequate?

Many of us spend quite a bit of time indoors and aren’t surprised to learn that our vitamin D levels are low. However, many people who work regularly outside are still vitamin D deficient. Some of this may be explained by our avid avoidance of sun and use of sunscreen given well-known cancer risks associated with increased sun exposure. Some research actually blames sunscreen use for a greater incidence of Rickets disease, in which vitamin D deficiency causes poor bone development in children.

Low vitamin D levels may also be explained by how often you… bathe! Some research suggests that natural oils on our skin are essential for efficiently absorbing vitamin D from sun exposure, and daily bathing may put us as increased risk of vitamin D deficiency by washing away these oils. Possible solutions to this problem though understandably create other challenges!

Because vitamin D levels are poorly correlated with dietary intake and sun exposure, blood tests are a favourable method for assessing vitamin D status. Vitamin D can be measured with a simple blood test called 25-hydroxy vitamin D that costs $51.70, and may be covered by your extended health insurance plan if ordered by your naturopathic doctor. The test is fortunately covered by OHIP when requisitioned by your medical doctor… but perhaps not for much longer. New legislation was recently proposed that will de-list OHIP-insured vitamin D testing for most people in Ontario, in part because of a 2500% increase in OHIP billing for vitamin D over approximately 5 years (i.e., it’s considered too expensive for our healthcare system to manage). This is of concern not only because of the importance of vitamin D for immune health, but also because vitamin D is an essential nutrient for bone and heart health, cancer prevention and treatment, and treatment of some forms of autoimmune disease, asthma, muscle pain, and mood disorders. If Canadians were to have adequate vitamin D levels, estimates include cost savings in the billions. The proposed legislation has been criticized as another indication of how a politically-oriented healthcare system is incapable of exercising true disease prevention.

If your vitamin D levels are low, discuss with your health practitioner how much vitamin D supplementation is recommended to bring your levels back to a healthier range. Many practitioners recommend supplementing with at least 1000IU of vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) daily. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is best taken with a meal.

5 Tips to Help your Child Focus at School

~ Dr. Sonya Nobbe, ND

1. Ensure adequate daily intake of Essential Fatty Acids.

If including EFAs in your family’s diet is a challenge, consider purchasing a high quality omega 3 supplement that guarantees purity. Some good brand names include Nutra-Sea, Nordic Naturals, and Genestra. Please read our article below for more information about how EFAs are essential for young brains.

2. Manage blood sugar.

Low and high blood sugar spikes in children are surprisingly common and can be responsible for fatigue or angry outbursts that are not conducive to learning. To help maintain balanced blood sugar levels, send your child to school with healthy low-sugar snacks, such as vegetables with hummus or guacamole (avocado) dip, organic plain yogurt (if not intolerant) with added fruit and cinnamon, and an apple (with the skin) with cheese slices. Older children may enjoy lentil salad or green salads with leftover chicken or fish, nuts and seeds, and feta cheese.

3. A healthy breakfast improves learning.

Avoid sugary cereals and baked goods, and choose breakfasts that include protein, whole grains, and good fats. Good breakfast options include homemade oatmeal with berries, yogurt with fruit, eggs, and whole grain toast with almond butter or avocado spread. Adequate protein in the morning makes learning easier throughout the day.

4. Encourage routines.

Not only is routine important for a child’s happiness and sense of security, it is also very important for growth and development. The body has a built-in biological clock called a circadian rhythm that coordinates sleep, wakefulness, body temperature, and more. Research suggests that routine positively impacts mental performance.

5. Encourage good sleep hygiene.

In addition to maintaining a good sleeping routine, rejuvenating sleep happens when light in the bedroom is minimized. Light interferes with the body’s ability to produce melatonin, an essential sleeping hormone. Avoid turning on the overhead bathroom or hall light when your child wakes up in the night. Nightlights in the bedroom could be put on a timer, and older children who are afraid of the dark might be comfortable with a bedside flashlight instead of a nightlight.

Alternative Thyroid Treatments in the News

Perhaps you heard the recent CBC Radio report about an alternative treatment called “desiccated thyroid” for people with hypothyroidism (low thyroid function). This treatment is in fact an old treatment, often called “Armour Thyroid”, or simply “Thyroid” in Canada, and used by many naturopathic doctors in states and provinces where prescribing rights exist. Following is an explanation of why desiccated thyroid is sometimes more effective than the commonplace synthroid prescription, and why perhaps neither prescription is ideal for weight-loss and a healthy thyroid gland.

Hypothyroidism is commonly diagnosed when blood tests show that a brain hormone called TSH, is too high. TSH rises when the thyroid gland slows its production of a hormone called thyroxine, or T4. Most physicians treat this condition with a synthetic form of T4, commonly known as Synthroid, Eltroxin, or Levothyroxine. Your body should convert this T4 into a more active form called T3. Desiccated thyroid contains both T4 and T3, such that your body isn’t required to convert the T4 into T3. Some health practitioners report that desiccated thyroid may treat hypothyroid symptoms in patients who fail to feel the benefits of synthroid even though their blood work appears normal.

A safety concern exists when you bypass the body’s regulatory mechanisms by providing it with an active hormone, such as T3. Where circumventing the need for conversion can be helpful for some people, it can also be harmful for others. (The same argument applies to the use of most synthetic hormones used in medicine, including the birth control pill and hormone replacement therapy.) The matter is further complicated by the consideration that by offering the body a synthetic hormone, you encourage the gland to stop producing its own hormone, making the body arguably dependent on the use of a daily prescription.

At times, there are ways to effectively treat hypothyroidism without the use of synthetic hormones. These methods view low thyroid function as a symptom rather than the problem to treat. Sometimes blood tests are required, and these can be ordered by a medical doctor (MD) or naturopathic doctor (ND). Your symptoms often provide the most significant clues in the determination of the root cause, which might be in another gland or tissue connected to thyroid function, such as the liver, kidneys, and adrenals. Your body may be deficient in any one of multiple nutrients required to make, convert, or respond to thyroid hormones, including iodine, zinc, copper, selenium, tyrosine, and vitamin A. Sometimes utilization of these nutrients is affected by environmental exposure to pesticides or foods, such as soy or cabbage. Stress, allergies, and menopause can also negatively impact thyroid function. For some dietary tips on managing low thyroid function, please read an article I wrote for Within Kingston magazine last year, posted here on my website.

Sometimes the most effective and successful medical intervention for low thyroid function is a prescription for synthetic hormones. At other times, if the thyroid gland is given the right tools, it could work without the use of a pharmaceutical, and the condition could heal. All too often a thorough assessment for the presence of these tools is lacking… and the opportunity is presented for a thorough examination by a health practitioner skilled in the use of whole body healing.

Butter vs. Margarine: Not just a debate for dieters

Back when the latest research supported the idea that “fats make us fat” and likely caused heart attacks, functional food manufacturers cleverly re-framed the old idea of margarine as the new heart-healthy and weight-friendly butter alternative. The Dieticians of Canada, the American Dietetic Association, and many mainstream health professionals currently recommend consuming non-hydrogenated margarine products. However, the evidence is not as clear-cut as you might expect, and it’s worth taking a second look at whether margarine is a healthier alternative to butter just because it’s lower in saturated fat.

Until rather recently, most margarine products underwent a manufacturing process called hydrogenation that changed the chemical structure of unsaturated oils to saturated fats, which are harder at room temperature. This process uses potentially toxic metal catalysts such as nickel and cadmium, and creates a by-product called trans-fats that many of us now know are associated with heart disease and cancer. Some research also links trans-fats with the development of Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and infertility, and is the reason for numerous health warnings from such institutions as the World Health Organization and the National Academy of Science. Consequently, health experts recommend that you avoid any product with “hydrogenation” or “partial-hydrogenation” in the ingredient list.

More recent margarines are manufactured by a different process (contributed to by research at Guelph and Dalhousie universities), and may be labeled “trans-fat free” (i.e. less than 0.2 grams of trans-fats per serving). However, margarine still contains manufactured saturated fats. Data from a well known study called the Framingham study (among others), indicates that consumption of margarine actually statistically significantly increases a man’s risk of developing heart disease. Some experts suggest that this relationship exists not because of the manufactured saturation per se, but likely because the high-heat and high-pressure manufacturing process creates oxidized (rancid) oils that cause cellular damage. (By contrast, vegetables contain “anti-oxidants” which protect against cellular damage.) Margarine also generally contains multiple chemical additives and preservatives with broad negative health impacts, and may be created with various chemical solvents and emulsifiers.

Butter from pasture-fed cows contains a natural trans-fat called vaccenic acid that is actually healthy for us. Our bodies convert it to something called conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which research shows may actually have weight-loss, anti-cancer, and cholesterol-lowering properties. Butter also contains healthy fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamin A and D.

How is it possible for rigorous science to demonstrate that margarine is both superior and inferior to butter? When research isolates one chemical, such as saturated fat, and evaluates it against a health risk, such as heart disease, the study result may be inappropriately extrapolated and applied against whole foods that contain the isolated ingredient. So, just because butter contains saturated fat, and because some research demonstrates a link between saturated fat and heart disease, we can not assume that butter causes heart disease. Many population studies suggest that butter consumption is in no way related, or even possibly protective, against heart disease.

That said, relative to other whole, nutrient-dense foods, butter is near the bottom of the list for heart health and weight management. For whole body health, the research comes down to this: When consuming healthy amounts of good dietary fat (20% to 30% of total daily calories), focus on plant sources, whether saturated or not. Avoid animal fats (except wild, cold-water fish), and avoid synthesized/manufactured fat sources, including margarine. This will improve overall health and reduce risk of numerous chronic diseases.

Fat Glossary

Most foods contain a combination of many fats. These fats may be categorized according to their degree of chemical “saturation” (i.e. the number of double bonds present), which determines whether the fat is solid or liquid at room temperature. Here is a quick review of the somewhat complicated fat terminology.

Saturated fat: Chemically, no double bonds exist so that carbon molecules are saturated with hydrogen atoms. The molecules fit tightly together, producing a solid at room temperature. Includes most animals fats (e.g. butter) and tropical oils (e.g. palm and coconut). Is associated with heart disease, however, much research indicates that coconut oil may protect the heart and inhibit weight-gain. Also includes some “short-chain fatty acids” which are anti-microbial, protect the immune system, and are a primary food source for healthy intestinal cells.

Unsaturated fat: Chemically, double bonds exist, so that the molecules are not able to pack tightly together, creating a liquid or semi-solid product at room temperature. Includes poly-unsaturated (e.g. vegetable oil), mono-unsaturated (e.g. olive oil), and essential fatty acid (e.g. omega-3) varieties.

Trans-fat: A chemically “flipped” fat that is a byproduct of the hydrogenation manufacturing process. Healthy trans-fats also exist naturally in some animal fats.

Hydrogenated fat: Unsaturated fats, such as liquid vegetable oils, that have undergone a manufacturing process whereby the oils are chemically infused with hydrogen molecules to become “saturated” and solid or semi-solid at room temperature. Relative to naturally-occurring animal fats, these partially-hydrogenated or hydrogenated fats are often less expensive, have a longer shelf-life, a more desirable consistency for commercially baked products, and a may include a harmful byproduct called trans-fats.

Clean Water Essentials

Most of us know that water is essential for life, and makes up between 50% and 90% of our bodies. Even bone tissue is approximately 22% water. Water is critical for oxygen transport throughout our body, cellular energy production, and even regulation of genetic material. Symptoms of dehydration include irritability, constipation, headaches, and fatigue. Chronic, even minimal dehydration can lead to weight-gain, depression, allergies, heart disease, chronic low energy, hormone imbalances, and chronic pain. Clean drinking water is one of the most simple, yet powerful components of an optimal wellness plan.

Water intake recommendations vary. My general recommendation is to drink 35mL of water for every kg of body weight (16mL per lb), in addition to the water you consume in food. More water is recommended for those who eat a high-protein diet, consume diuretics, experience frequent diarrhea or vomiting, and who regularly exercise strenuously. Less water may be required for individuals who consume more than 7 servings of fresh fruit and vegetables in a day.

Drinking this much water can also be dangerous: Water can be the trojan horse that carries toxic chemicals into our body. A trusted water filtration system is an important part of a general health or wellness plan.

Most sources agree now that bottled water carries numerous health risks, including exposure to cancer-causing chemicals and poor safety regulation by government authorities. The Environmental Working Group has published some of their own research, here.

Kingston tap water is drawn from Lake Ontario and is heavily chlorinated to protect us from bacterial and viral contamination. With the exception of CFB Kingston, Kingston does not add fluoride to its water. Kingston tap water is susceptible to seasonal fluctuations of algae, and some homes still receive their water from old lead pipes or from copper pipes with lead solder. Most of this information may be found on the Utilities Kingston website, here. The new Canadian Drinking Water Standards recently lowered the acceptable lead concentration in drinking water from 50 parts per billion, to 10 parts per billion.

Some sources estimate that 20% of a person’s exposure to lead comes from their drinking water. Lead is a heavy metal that is difficult for the body to excrete. The body may find it easier to store small amounts safely in bone tissue, which may only become a concern bone starts to degenerate, such as in osteoporosis and during menopause, causing a slow leak of lead back into the bloodstream.

The Santevia water unit available at KIHC removes organic chemicals such as chlorine, and heavy metals, from your tap water. The unit is environmentally friendly, unlike a reverse osmosis water filtration system that produces up to 3 litres of waste water for every litre of water consumed. The Santevia system also produces alkaline water, which is essential for prevention and treatment of numerous chronic degenerative diseases, including osteoporosis, arthritis, and possibly cancer. Brita filters by comparison produce acidic water that may aggravate chronic health conditions.

The unit is available at Kingston Integrated Healthcare for $179.99, which includes all three filters.