Perhaps you had a routine physical exam and blood testing with your Medical Doctor or Naturopathic Doctor and discovered that your blood sugar was uncomfortably high. Maybe you’re concerned about your family history of diabetes or heart disease and already recognize that prevention is key. It’s a common scenario in my office, perhaps because an estimated 22% of Canadians have pre-diabetes. For the most part, type 2 diabetes is a lifestyle illness, but not always in the way we think it is.
(3.5 min read)
Patience is a virtue.
That’s how the saying goes.
And a virtue, according to Oxford Living Dictionaries, is a quality considered morally good or desirable in a person.
Did you know that, according to Statistics Canada, nearly a quarter of all Canadian adults rate their daily stress levels as moderate to high? And, did you know that stress accounts for lower quality of life and can have significant negative impacts on your physical and mental health?
If ongoing stress is playing a role in your life, or if you would otherwise like to practice slowing down the fast pace of your busy world, then this is the course for you!
Join Lindsay Dupuis, Mental Health Counsellor, for this 4-week course in which you will learn how to take control of your mind and gain energy back through a series of educational lessons and guided meditations…
(4 min read) Everyone has a morning routine as unique as the house they live in.
Some are long and complex. Others are quick and to the point. I’d be willing to bet, though, that just about everyone’s morning routine involves making themselves look more presentable. Showers wash away flat morning hair, toothpaste strips away bad breath, make-up covers flaws, and clothing camouflages bodily imperfections. For a society that values physical appearances, many of us make this a priority in order to put our best faces forward.
Ever wonder why your seasonal allergies vary in intensity from year to year? What made them so much worse last year, and suddenly so much better this past season? It’s not as simple as environmental fluctuations that change how plants bloom. Our immune reactions against otherwise harmless things like pollen fluctuate and adapt according to what else is happening in our bodies. And unlike the growing season, our body’s reaction to this environmental stressor is one thing we have more control over than traditionally considered.
Fatigue and low energy is one of the most common concerns that patients come to see me for. Sometimes the fatigue is a new symptom but for the majority of people, it is something they have been struggling with for years. In many cases it presents itself gradually, like a slow but steady decline. Now they find themselves with so little energy they can’t do the activities that they want and it is affecting their quality of life. There are many different root causes for low energy but one’s hormonal state is usually a major player. I want to briefly cover two hormonal issues that can lead to low energy.
Post-holiday season, usually around mid-January, I have patients coming into my clinic showing signs of extreme fatigue and exhaustion. They sigh, “The holidays just wiped me out and I have no energy left”. Their immune systems are weak, they have gained a few extra pounds and barely have enough stamina to put the holiday decorations away. Sound familiar? Avoid a holiday melt-down this year by following these simple pro-active suggestions.
Join KIHC’s Dr. Angela Hunt ND and Physiotherapist Christine Campbell for their integrative health series for proactive women. This series is designed to empower women to effectively address targeted aspects of their physical, mental and emotional wellness. Topics include heart health, healthy weight, fatigue, insomnia, strength, pain, exercise, arthritis, and stress management.
Please enjoy one or more of the following four workshops. Workshop participants are asked to contribute a $5 donation to a local charity. Please call KIHC to register, as space is limited.
By Dr. Angela Hunt ND
Let us start this off by reminding everyone that menopause is NOT a disease but a natural cycle in a woman’s life. This life cycle can be a bit rough for some, but there are ways to navigate through it more easily. The definition of menopause is one full year without any menstruation[i]. It is important to note that numerous women start to experience menopausal symptoms even before their period has completely stopped, a time called “peri-menopause”. Peri-menopause can start up to a decade before menstruation stops, making this whole process a drawn out affair. I want to cover some of the natural options women have for managing symptoms during their menopausal years but first, let’s review the most common symptoms.
The immune system is one of our most precious resources for good health. Seasonal allergy symptoms are an indication of an overactive immune response against harmless pollens and are a useful sign that our immune system requires some support. Here are some simple strategies to reduce your seasonal allergy symptoms and improve your immune system health.
By Holly WhiteKnight, ND
It’s that time of year again. Parking lots are packed, stores are blaring holiday music and your schedule may be packed with gatherings and endless holiday engagements. Even for those who love and fully embrace the season, it can be a stress filled time of year. The holidays can also be a sensitive time for many, especially those who have lost a loved one or those who suffer from depression. Here are some ways to set yourself up for the most relaxed and present holiday season yet:
– Try to prevent stress and depression in the first place. It is often difficult to stop and backtrack when at the peak of holiday stress. Know yourself and reflect on past holiday stressors or depression triggers, jot them down and come up with ways to avoid them this year or tackle them from a different angle. Be thoughtful and deliberate, choosing to spend your time in meaningful ways and to eliminate irrelevant tasks. Get your holiday armour ready, whatever it may be: a polite excuse to get you out of a dreaded commitment, a long walk after a congested family meal to have some alone time (maybe Fido really needed to have some extra sniffs!). If you suffer from depression,
~ Dr. Christina Vlahopoulos, ND, MSc (cand.)
With spring just around the corner it means we will start opening windows to let the fresh air in. It is also a very damp time of year with a lot of rain – for those who suffer from mould allergies, it can be challenging. There is a lot of strong evidence suggesting that dampness outside can change indoor air quality. But how does moisture make us sick? Unfortunately it is not the water and rain that make us sick, but rather they create the perfect environment and conditions for mould to grow.
Mould spores can be found everywhere – from food to drywall to leaf litter and the soil on the ground. In fact, mould and the enzymes they secrete, are needed for the normal breakdown and decay of organic material. But the problem begins when there are higher concentrations of mould indoors than outdoors. The problem gets worse when the perfect conditions are met for it to grow. All mould needs is increased moisture or water accumulation and/or the indoor relative humidity level to be above 60% – the higher the moisture content, the faster the mould growth. The greater the mould growth, the higher the risk for poor indoor air quality and the greater the chance of breathing problems or other respiratory illnesses.
One type of mould called “black toxic mould”
Dr. Sonya Nobbe, ND
So you’ve been told that you have a deficiency of the “happy” brain chemical serotonin, and that a drug will help you feel better by increasing your body’s response to serotonin. But what caused that serotonin deficiency in the first place? And what will happen if you neglect to address this underlying cause by relying solely on the medication?
Research clearly demonstrates that chronic stress can cause serotonin deficiencies and depression. Many of us would agree that spiritual or emotional stress incurred during childhood or in our jobs and relationships, can lead to depression. But chronic ‘stress’ also applies to physiological (body) stress. Stress from chronic illness can stimulate biochemical processes (e.g. inflammation), in the body that “steal” nutrients otherwise used for serotonin production, thereby contributing to depression symptoms. This stress biochemistry is a survival strategy that our bodies have used theoretically since the caveman age, and we haven’t adapted yet to our fast-paced North American culture.
Our bodies are built to manage short bouts of high stress, such as what you might feel if suddenly attacked by a wild animal. Our bodies are not biochemically equipped to manage any amount of chronic stress, no matter how low grade, and no matter whether emotional, environmental, or physical. When “healthy” biochemical processes are put on hold in favour of those that support our stress response, nutrients are depleted, normal wear and tear on our bodies is not repaired, our bodies switch to inefficient energy production processes (i.e. we feel tired and ‘old’), and chronic disease progresses.
What common health conditions can cause this shift in our body’s biochemistry and drop in serotonin?
~ Brooke Vlachos, RMT
“Live in each season as it passes; breathe air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each. Let them be your only diet drink and botanical medicines” Henry David Thoreau
Hurrying is often associated with unpleasant tasks. We rush through things we feel we have to do thinking: “I just HAVE to get this finished”. What should be a blessing: picking out or creating the perfect gift for a loved one, making homemade egg nog, or cleaning a house that will soon be filled with family and friends, becomes a begrudging chore, a TASK. We are so busy rushing from task to task, especially at this time of year that it’s very easy to miss out on enjoying what makes this time so special.
My advice for the healthiest of holiday seasons is simple:
~ Dr. Sonya Nobbe, ND
Our ability to enjoy good quality sleep is one of the ultimate indicators of balance in our lives. Sleep is a reflection of our relationship with our external environment and it enables us to connect internally to our subconscious mind in the form of dreams. Many ancient medicines use dreams and a person’s sleep habits to help identify imbalances so that a prescription for whole mind-body wellness can be determined. Conventional medicine considers restorative sleep to play a critical role in the proper functioning of our mood, hormones, and immune system. Disordered sleep is a risk factor for a multitude of health conditions, including breast cancer and heart disease.
~ Dr. Christina Vlahopoulos, ND
Sleep disturbances can be one of the more prevalent complaints in people with chronic pain. Of course it is hard to relax and get to sleep when you cannot get into a comfortable position. However, what if it was your lack of sleep that was making your pain worse? Or maybe it was the lack of sleep that caused your chronic pain in the first place?
Recent research has shown a reciprocal relationship between chronic pain and sleep. Some studies showed that sleep deprivation indeed caused an increase in pain perception in previously healthy adults. The participants felt overall muscle and joint pain, tenderness and fatigue. Therefore, the less sleep a person got, the more pain they felt.
In 2003, Dove soap commissioned a global study in which only 2% of women described themselves as beautiful. Dove followed this with an advertising campaign called “Campaign for Real Beauty”, which defied the fashion and beauty industries by promoting “real women” as beautiful. Their ads contrasted the “tighter… firmer… younger…” media messages with messages such as “beauty has no age limit”. Dove criticized the popular anti-aging movement and put pro-aging on the map. Unfortunately, the company that owns Dove, Unilever, was later criticized for the digital photographic touch-ups of their “real” women models, and for the absolute contradictory message promoted in their women-objectifying Axe Body Spray ads (available on youtube). Marketing analysts suggest that Dove didn’t really believe that a truly pro-aging approach could work.
Beauty, youth, and “anti-aging” are often central concerns for women transitioning through hormone changes known as menopause. Misguided cultural and medical perspectives categorize menopause as a disease state characterized by hormone deficiency, which can be “fixed” with treatment. In her book The Wisdom of Menopause, Dr. Christiane Northrup outlines our “cultural inheritance”, in which Hormone Replacement Therapy was advertised by doctors in the 1960s as “the pill that would keep your husband from understandably leaving you for a younger, more beautiful woman”. Decades later, facets of this perspective still affect our culture, our medicine, and the women currently experiencing menopause. Some geographers believe that this negative cultural definition of menopause is exactly the reason why we experience significantly more serious menopausal symptoms than most cultures.
Though menopausal symptoms are common and sometimes severe, menopause is a normal and healthy part of growing older that can be symptom-free.