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Healthy Holiday Guide for Mind, Body, and Spirit

Posted by on Dec 20, 2017 in Blog, Dr. Dana Marshall, Dr. Susan Joyce, General Health, Uncategorized | 0 comments

For many, the holiday season is the ‘most wonderful time of the year’ because it brings about family and social gatherings, opportunities to bring people together, outings and events, parties, and presents! At the same time, the holiday season also brings added stress, pressured work deadlines, year ends, extra household and entertaining duties, changes to your nutrition and alcohol habits, and even a lack of sleep!

So, the most wonderful time of the year, can also be accompanied by many factors that can put your health at risk – physically, emotionally, and mentally.

We all want to enjoy this time of year. Here are our tips for how to manage all of the extra demands being made.  We feel it is critical to being able to relax, have fun, and truly be present this holiday season.

Body

  1. Wash your hands often to help prevent the spread of germs.

Holiday season is also cold and flu season. And with all of your family and friends in close proximity, regular hand washing isn’t just a good health practice for yourself, but it’s also a way to help your most vulnerable loved ones (children and the elderly) stay clear of viral and bacterial germs. Wash your hands with soap and clean running water for at least 20 seconds and follow up with an nice natural hand cream to keep your skin moisturized and free of harmful dryness and cracks.

  1. Bundle up to stay dry and warm.

Even if you’re just running outside to toss out the recycling, or picking up the kids from school, be sure to wear appropriate outdoor clothing: light, warm, loose layers keep you comfortable and insulated, while winter accessories like gloves, hats, scarves, and waterproof boots prevent you from rapid loss of body heat.

  1. Be food aware, choose wisely.

Holiday foods then to be full of extra delicious things like butter, sugar and wheat and while indulging in this festive season is not altogether bad, you must learn to choose your indulgences wisely to prevent bloating, weight gain, hormonal imbalance, dehydration, digestion issues.

  1. Make holiday treats healthy by sneaking in veggies

It might sound strange, but we love finding ways to hide vegetables in sweet treats. Feel better about serving your family its favourite cookies and cakes by finding recipes that use healthy pumpkin, zucchini, avocado, or even almond meal to replace wheat flour and/or sugar. You won’t taste the difference but you’ll all be healthier as a result!

 Mind

  1. Set limits

Performing well at work, caring for yourself and your family, AND pulling off a holiday feast can become extra daunting over the holiday season when more demands both personally and professionally are made on you. It’s time to learn that it’s good to say “No” to some things that spread you too thin, make you anxious, put you on edge, or  stress you out. Concentrate on doing fewer things – and ask others to take on tasks to support the bigger picture – and not only will they come out better, but you’ll be able to enjoy the fruits of your labour too!

  1. Take a break

When you feel stressed out, overwhelmed, or out of control – it’s time to breathe deeply and take a break. When all of the tasks at hand seem to carry the same weight and gravity, stepping back to get some perspective is a healthy and supportive way to manage stress. Figure out what you can let go of, find support from others for things that need to get done (but maybe not by you, this time), take time for social connection, and get plenty of sleep and don’t forget to breathe! Deep breathing and paying attention to your breath is a great way to lower stress and balance the body.

  1. Wander

Let your mind wander! Turn on some of your favourite music, make yourself a hot bath and close the door, read a novel just for the pleasure of it. Even if it’s only for 15 minutes, giving your mind time to wander off allows your brain and body to process everything you’re experiencing throughout the day and leaves you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

 

Spirit

  1. Block off time for fitness and sleep – and make it non-negotiable

Extra stressors may not seem like a big deal at the beginning of the season but I bet you remember how harried and exhausted you were by the end of the season last year! NO-ONE can sustain a holiday rush without taking time for themselves to regenerate. This time is just for you. Make a promise to take yourself to the gym or on a run at least three times a week, and set a sleep schedule to make sure you have enough nighttime rest. Then? Keep that promise!

  1. Get a head start on the new year with Holiday Resolutions!

There’s no need to wait for January 1st to start looking forward to the year ahead. In fact, when life is stressful, looking forward is a great way to increase your feelings of optimism and hope. In fact, you could try committing to just one or two of the suggestions in this post to help you feel your best during the holidays and you’ll already be on your way! We suggest the practice of gratitude for what you have now in the present and remind yourself of all the things that are amazing in your life. We waste too much time waiting for the next thing to make us happy when really happiness starts with you every single day.

  1. Give yourself the gift of self-compassion

You deserve to enjoy the holidays as much as anyone in your family but it can be hard to accept that our realities rarely mimic a ‘Very Martha Stewart Holiday.’ Focus on self-kindness instead of self- judgement and accept imperfections with sympathy rather than critique or shame them. Let go of notions of perfection and enjoy what has been accomplished.

  1. Make time for reflection and worship

This is a common time of year for reflection, but making a habit of it can help keep our mind and spirit connected and content. If you hold faith near, make time to experience community-based worship. The feeling of being together with your community is unparalleled for feeling connected, safe, and spiritually sound.

From all of us at Healthy Foundations Naturopathic Clinic, we wish you all the best for a healthy and happy holiday season!

 

 

Resolutions are all wrong! Set yourself up for success instead!

Posted by on Dec 13, 2017 in Blog, Dr. Dana Marshall, Dr. Susan Joyce, General Health | 0 comments

Every New Year the “R” word kicks into full force. RESOLUTIONS. We evaluate the past year, how we ‘performed’, what we ‘lacked’, and what we are committed to doing 100% the next year. The trouble is that only about 8% of people actually keep their resolutions. For the rest of us, resolutions serve to remind us of what we didn’t follow through on, what we might have ‘failed at’ again, or what we fell short of achieving. In the end, resolutions create a measuring stick that sets most of us up for failure.

So this year, what if you let go of the “R” word and focus on intentions instead?

There’s a difference between these words, though we tend to use them interchangeably. A ‘resolution’ is similar to a ‘SMART goal’: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely, except that when it comes to making personal resolutions, the most common ones usually miss out on the measureable and realistic parts. Unfortunately those are the two aspects of resolution making that make most of us give up or fall short!

These were the top 10 New Year’s Resolutions for 2017:

 

1 Lose Weight / Healthier Eating 21.4%
2 Life / Self Improvements 12.3%
3 Better Financial Decisions 8.5%
4 Quit Smoking 7.1%
5 Do more exciting things 6.3%
6 Spend More Time with Family / Close Friends 6.2%
7 Work out more often 5.5%
8 Learn something new on my own 5.3%
9 Do more good deeds for others 5.2%
10 Find the love of my life 4.3

 

When you read these themes, I bet you can imagine how they’re translated into ‘resolutions’ like: “lose X lbs by Y date” or “save X amount of money by Y date”. Can you see how much pressure and expectation there is on finding one acceptable and final outcome for these resolutions – and how discouraging it would be to not meet them? Just reading them makes my heart sink with the expectation of it all! Why do this to ourselves – and at the start of a brand new year, too?

 This is where intentions can be more useful, more positive, and more sustainable.

In his book, The Power of Intention, Wayne Dyer defines intention as “a strong purpose or aim, accompanied by a determination to produce a desired result.” Rather than focusing on a problem to be solved, intentions focus energy on a gradual shifting towards change, a continual checking in with one’s Self to remember and activate inner motivation to live with the intention set.

This New Year, try the following:

  1. Write a “Letter of Intention” to yourself. Consider a maximum of FOUR intentions you want to live with and guide your life by over the next year and beyond. The idea is to choose four things that will become themes to live by, that you can cultivate rather than a goal to be ticked off a list.
  2. When you select your four intentions choose one based on the physical body, one on the emotions, one on the mind, and one on the spirit. Allow these four intentions to be broader than a specific end-goal, and more of a theme or quality to which you can tend.
  3. Re-read your letter and sit with it for a while. Come back to it and distill the content into four intention statements beginning with “I want…” Hang onto that full letter though!
  4. Use these four statements as a daily personal mantra when you arise in the morning, and let them be the way you begin each day – excited and content in the intentions you’re planting. You can even write them on cue cards, or print them on a poster to keep where you’ll be able to read them each morning.

Need some ideas for themes? Here are a few to start you off…

I WANT A LIMBER, COMFORTABLE BODY (body theme)

I WANT A NOURISHED BODY (body theme)

I WANT A CALM HEART (emotions)

I WANT SOFTNESS (emotions)

I WANT EQUANIMITY, MENTAL COMPOSURE (mind)

I WANT OPTIMISM (mind)

I WANT GRACE IN BE-ING (spirit)

I WANT LIGHTNESS (spirit)

Intentions are done in partnership with the Self, with personal creativity, and inner motivation. When you design them, you do so from a place of desiring improvement – not a measurement or pass/fail – which allows you the freedom to grow, shift, and evolve as your intentions take on practical meaning in your life. There is an embedded mindfulness to this kind of intention-setting that is neither demanding nor particularly foreign to how most of us move through our days, making it simple to incorporate into your morning routine.

Over time, with this practice, you’ll nurture your intentions to become a part of your daily actions – and in that way you’ll see them develop and grow into the way you now live!

  1. Periodically throughout the year, revisit your Letter of Intention and see how much more able you are to notice your success in bringing those themes into your world – and how much prouder you are than when trying to live up to those impossible resolutions of the past. Then, give yourself a pat on the back, because you’re doing great!

We want to be a part of your personal care team. No question or curiosity is too small for us to address together. So don’t be shy to give us a call! Our door is always open and your road to optimal health is just a phone call away.

From all of us at Healthy Foundations Naturopathic Clinic,

We wish you success, happiness, and good health for 2018!

 

References:

https://www.statisticbrain.com/new-years-resolution-statistics/

It’s All In Your Gut!

Posted by on Nov 27, 2017 in Blog, Dr. Dana Marshall, Dr. Susan Joyce, General Health, Healthy Eating | 0 comments

It’s all in your gut!

There’s a lot to talk about when it comes to your gut. And that’s for good reason. While we’re still learning a lot about how the interaction between the digestive system and the rest of the body works, we do know that the delicate balance of intestinal flora in your digestive system can affect the body’s ability to perform the critical functions that affect our overall health, such as:

  • Absorbing and producing vitamins and minerals,
  • Regulating hormones,
  • Digesting effectively,
  • Responding to the immune system, and
  • Eliminating toxins

For those of us who already suffer from gastrointestinal or bowel disorders such as IBS, Celiac disease, or leaky gut syndrome, the link between gut and mental health become more pronounced.  And, our gastrointestinal (GI) health may be the root cause of many symptoms throughout the body – including your mental health!

Given how extensive the influence of the gut is on these essential bodily functions, it’s clear that gut health is one of the most important ways we can look after our overall health. While there are MANY ways to take care of your gut, there are two factors that influence gut flora directly: prebiotics and probiotics.

How does the connection between gut and body work?

Well, in between the layers of your digestive tract is something called the enteric nervous system (ENS), which is made of two thin layers of over 100 million nerve cells lining your GI tract literally from top to bottom.

The ENS sends messages between the gut and the brain. That’s why the gut is often called the “second brain.” And as you’ll see from the symptoms listed below, the messages that the second brain sends can be very persuasive!

How can you tell if your gut is imbalanced?

The ideal balance of gut bacteria is about 85% good bacteria to 15% bad bacteria. And that’s out of about 100 trillion bacteria that naturally live in our gut all the time!

But this balance can be upset in the course of daily life, by caffeine, processed foods, stress, long-term use medications and antibiotics. In fact, one course of antibiotics can leave your gut bacteria weaker for years!

And as we age, the natural decrease in our stomach acid – which plays an important role in the growth of good bacteria – enables bad bacteria to get stronger.

The main culprit of a bacteria imbalance, though, is over-consumption of sugars. To make a real and immediate positive impact on your gut health, it’s essential to limit simple carbohydrates like sugars found in sodas, desserts, and processed foods like breads and flour products.

There are all kinds of indicators of an imbalanced gastrointestinal system – we just have to pay attention to them. Symptoms like:

  • Bloated, gassy and distended abdomen
  • Extreme bowel movement patterns like diarrhea or constipation (or a fluctuation of both)
  • Skin conditions including acne, irritations, and eczema flare-ups
  • Constant fatigue despite getting an adequate amount of sleep
  • ‘Down’ or sad emotions, irritability, anxiety
  • Candida or yeast overgrowth
  • Weight loss due to lack of an appetite or gain weight due to cravings for food lacking nutrients

How can we help our gut communicate best?

By providing it with what it needs to keep the balance of necessary good and bad bacteria we can help the gut take care of its biggest job – regulating digestion. That way, the gut’s messages to the body and mind are clear, efficient, and healthy.

But how? There are MANY things we can do to aid in gut health and healing, but some simple things it comes down to are maintaining a healthy diet, getting regular exercise and high quality rest, and supporting your gastrointestinal health with both prebiotic and probiotics!

Prebiotics vs Probiotics – What’s the difference?

Probiotics: Strains of healthy, “good” bacteria that naturally live in the colon of our digestive systems. When consumed in the right amounts, probiotics can have great benefits to our health overall. Once in the colon, probiotic bacteria multiply, helping to regulate the balance between the good and bad bacteria that live there. You might be familiar with certain kinds of probiotics, as there are a few that have specific health benefits – and that’s why it’s important to consume a variety of strains of healthy bacteria.

Because they’ve been made so popular over the past few years, we know there are a variety of natural food sources for probiotics, largely stemming from fermented foods. A few fantastic choices are:

  • Kimchi
  • Sauerkraut
  • Kefir
  • Yogurt
  • Kombucha
  • Miso
  • Pickles

Prebiotics: Prebiotics are nondigestible carbohydrates that help probiotics grow and remain in your digestive system, which is why they’re known as “food” for probiotics.

Less information has been publicized about where you can find prebiotics, but that could be because you’ve been eating them this whole time! Prebiotics are a non-digestible fibre source that’s plentiful in lots of raw foods:

  • Garlic
  • Leeks
  • Onions (which still contain prebiotics once cooked)
  • Chicory root
  • Dandelion greens
  • Asparagus
  • Jerusalem artichoke
  • Jicama
  • Under-ripe bananas
  • Chamomile tea

Taking probiotics alone is a good beginning, but because we want to encourage the colonies of bacteria to grow and support a healthy gastrointestinal system, it’s important to eat properly to ensure that the probiotics can multiply and do their work effectively.

The key is consuming a combination of prebiotic and probiotic foods on a daily basis, to help replenish and maintain a healthy digestive system for overall health.

Is a supplement necessary to have enough prebiotics and probiotics?

Getting your nutrition from whole foods is always the preferred route to optimal health, but due to our lifestyle and diet choices, we often need a little help. In that case, look for:

Prebiotic supplements: Prebiotics are actually really easy to get in a well-balanced diet, and due to the nature of the fibre they contain, that’s really the best way to get them. But if you are looking for a little extra push, try using chicory root as a coffee substitute.  Having these kinds of foods in your diet can assure you that your gut bacteria is well fed and well cared for.  Also, a lot of probiotic supplements will have some prebiotics added in, to support the growth of the bacteria in the bottle.

Probiotic supplements: You should be looking for a supplement containing CFU (Colony Forming Units) in the billions.  We generally recommend a maintenance dose of about 10-30 billion.  And of course, aim to supplement with different stains of good bacteria.

You can stay on probiotics indefinitely and we often recommend switching up the different strains of bacteria now and then.  We always recommend probiotics if you’re on, or coming off, of antibiotics, the birth control pill, or radiation treatment.

If you choose to supplement, we recommend to take it at breakfast when the bacteria have the best chance of surviving the acidic environment of the gut. And – whether or not supplementation is a regular part of your nutrition remember that taking probiotics after a course of antibiotics is one of the best ways to ensure your full and healthy recovery from the inside out.

Just as we take care of our muscles and our minds by feeding them the things they need to stay strong and healthy, so too must we take care of our “second brain”, our gut health, by feeding it what it needs to perform in optimal health.

Prebiotics and probiotics are two of the primary ways of keeping your gut healthy, happy, and functioning optimally! Remember, while everyone should be taking prebiotics and probiotics, from children to pregnant people, to the elderly – everyone is unique.

We would love to help you determine which foods and supplements are best for you and your family. If you have questions about your gut health, please book an appointment to ask Dr. Joyce or Dr. Marshall for their recommendation of what would be best for you.

 

 

The Trouble with Stress

Posted by on Nov 16, 2017 in Blog, Dr. Dana Marshall, Dr. Susan Joyce, General Health, Uncategorized | 0 comments

We often underestimate the power of stress. We like to see stress as natural, and even helpful, in being productive in our day-to-day lives. But the positive effects of stress, like goal orientation, motivation, and even intensified memory or cognitive responses are most beneficial in small doses.

Many of us have built up tolerances to living with constant, heightened stress levels, and the temptation to see this as a positive or heroic trait has reduced our natural desire to respond to it. Instead of recognizing and reacting to the core ‘fight or flight’ survival response that stress provides, many of us function with heightened stress for long periods of time without realizing that living under continued high stress can have dire health consequences.

How stress works:

You’ve probably heard this before, and you’ve certainly felt it: the pounding heart, the rushing sounds in your ears, and an acute and intense desire for action when something has caught you completely off guard.

When your brain perceives some kind of stress, be it your move in a basketball game, a heated argument, or stepping off a busy street, it starts producing an influx of epinephrine, norepinephrine and cortisol hormones. This flood of chemicals produces a variety of reactions to respond to the stress: increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, and an acute focus on taking whatever action is necessary to stay safe.

Stress can be brought on by a variety of internal and external factors, and it can be a very healthy reaction and necessary to maintain our survival. It’s when you remain in a state of heightened stress for prolonged periods of time, that the effects of stress on your system can become a real medical problem.

How much stress is too much stress?

Life events, changes in lifestyle, work, family, or even shifting responsibilities such as child or parent care, relationships, and work can directly affect feelings of overwhelm. When the amount on our plate reaches a place of critical mass, we experience overwhelm. That experience can present itself in many ways that signify stress. Emotional stressors like these that remain for a period of weeks, months, or even years can become detrimental to your immune system, and your overall health. Being able to recognize our own stress signals is the first step to finding ways to cope with stress, and dissipate it, to return to a healthy state that will enable you to work through the demands placed on you.

Recognizing Stress Responses:

There are many ways that stress expresses itself. While some might be more familiar to you than others, a person can experience some or all of these at different times. But, multiplied sources of ongoing stress can lead to larger health issues. If chronic stress is not dealt with effectively, it can become debilitating, leading to an inability of what we want to do most: thrive at work, and in life with our family and friends.

Being able to recognize the sensations of stress is the first step to being able to discuss them with your professional health team. Then, they can help you find ways to cope with stress effectively.

Stress can feel like:

  • Frenetic energy or restlessness
  • Fatigue, or trouble sleeping or staying awake
  • Digestive issues, changes in appetite, over or under eating
  • Change in use of addictive substances like alcohol, tobacco, or drugs
  • Inability to concentrate or complete tasks
  • Increased frequency of colds or other illnesses like autoimmune disease flares
  • Heightened anger or impatience
  • Headaches, migraines, body aches
  • Increased irritability, anger, or anxiety
  • Lack of motivation, depression, sadness
  • Inability to catch your breath, panic attacks
  • Change in sex drive, social withdrawal
  • Feelings of being ‘burnt out’

That’s me! What should I do?

First, know that everyone experiences high stress at one time or another. You are not alone.

Second, understand that stress is manageable and that there are many tools we have at Healthy Foundations Naturopathic Clinic to help hone in on treatments and actions that will support you in managing yours.

There’s no need to wait until stress is overwhelming to start practicing stress management techniques. In fact, the Mayo Clinic recommends including a few key practices to help manage everyday stress, so that if major stress should arise, you’ll have a few great tools already in your tool box.

Some people find great benefit in:

  • Effective, gentle breathing and stretching techniques
  • Tai Chi or gentle yoga (such as Hatha, Yin, or Restorative)
  • Exercising regularly, choosing gentle forms of movement and temporarily reducing cardio intensive exercise (which increases the cortisol response)
  • Allotting quiet time for yourself, to think, journal, meditate, or engage in a creative activity that you enjoy
  • Implement a restful sleep routine that makes a conscious effort towards reducing screen-time and stimulants before bed, and gives you the opportunity to regulate the amount and timing of your sleep hours – the mind and body heal when at rest.

Let the mind and body work together:

Remember that stress starts in the brain, and then exhibits in the body. It is not a form of weakness; rather, it is a normal psychological and physical response to situations that require our attention. And, the way that we can best manage stress is by paying attention and caring for the mind as well as the body, holistically. Some potential stress diagnostic and stress management tools Dr. Marshall and Dr. Joyce could suggest include:

  • Hormone testing and re-balancing with herbs, or Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy
  • Methods of identifying and eliminating stressors
  • Natural, non-addictive, sleep training and support
  • Acupuncture for stress relief
  • Natural nutritional supplements such as:
    • Magnesium glycinate
    • B vitamins
    • Adrenal support and adaptogenic supplements (like ashwaganda, Korean ginseng, licorice root, or schisandra)

It’s never too early to start learning how to identify and cope better with stress. After all, life is full of surprises and sometimes stress is a part of that. Have you tried any of these stress management tools? Which ones have worked best for you? Which new ones will you try?

Dr. Marshall and Dr. Joyce are here to help you. If you find that your stress management toolkit isn’t providing what you need, please call us. We would love to support you to finding your best health.

 

Welcome to Healthy Foundations Naturopathic Clinic!

Posted by on Mar 26, 2015 in Blog, Dr. Dana Marshall, Dr. Susan Joyce, General Health | 0 comments

Healthy Foundations Naturopathic Clinic was founded on a very simple principle – to provide our patients with the foundations for good health.

Why do we feel that Healthy Foundations Naturopathic Clinic is unique?

We are dedicated. We are committed to providing our patients and their families with the tools and guidance they need to develop their own individualized health plan.
We educate. We feel that in order for people to take control of their own health and get involved in their own healing process, they need to be informed. We strive to teach and empower our patients, both during our in-office visits, as well as through handouts and take home resources.
We care. We are hoping to create a long term relationship with our patients. We know that one’s health is continually evolving, and we wish to be there to support our patients through these changes.
We are passionate. We feel very strongly that the body has the ability to heal itself. We invest wholeheartedly into helping people feel their best.
We are diverse. We know that not all people have the same needs, so we use a variety of modalities including: herbal medicine, acupuncture, homeopathic medicine, diet and nutrition, cleansing and detoxes, exercise, and lifestyle counseling.
We listen. We spend a lot of time with each patient. We really want to understand and attend to what that individual needs at that time.
We investigate. We use a variety of different tests to help us gain a better understanding of a patient’s health. Some of the tests we find to be helpful are the IgG Blood Spot Allergy test, Hair Mineral Analysis, Salivary Hormone testing and Comprehensive Digestive Stool analysis.
We understand. We are both moms, wives, daughters, siblings, aunts, friends and business owners. We know how busy life can get and how hard it can be to find balance.
We love what we do! When it all comes down to it, the heart of the matter is that we are both completely devoted to what we do. We love Naturopathic Medicine. We live it, breath it, eat it and believe it. Over time, we hope that we can instill this enthusiasm in you.

Yours in health,
Dana Marshall, ND and Susan Joyce, ND