Some words of wisdom from the Vitallife team.
Some words of wisdom from the Vitallife team.
by Cheryl Cooper, ND
We know that sunscreen can protect us from getting burnt and ultimately from skin cancer, but, while we’re so busy not getting burnt, we’re slathering our skin with known toxins like benzophenones, PABA and PABA esters, cinnamates, and parabens to name a few. (Go to http://www.skinbiology.com/toxicsunscreens.html for more detailed information on the toxins in suncreen.) As a porous organ system, we know that everything we put on our skin is absorbed, at least to some degree, into our skin and then into our bodies. There is evidence that demonstrates that many of the chemicals in sunscreen are known to produce free radicals in the body which, in turn, can lead to an assortment of other illnesses including cancer.
Now that we’ve clarified some of the more salient issues about the sun and sunscreen, here are some guidelines for gaining the benefits from the sun without increasing your risk of skin problems:
1. Always protect your face from the sun. Wear a hat or put sunscreen of at least SPF 15 on your face. Your face has fragile skin and is very susceptible to sun damage of all kinds. Nothing will age your face faster than having it exposed to the sun. So cover up to keep you face safe and young.
2. During the day, expose your arms or legs to the sun during a walk or any time you are outside for about 10-15 minutes. This short amount of time is enough to get your daily dose of vitamin D. If you can’t spend this time every day or in the winter months, you should be taking a supplement of Vitamin D3.
3. For any amount of time greater than 15 minutes, cover your skin up with clothing or non-toxic sun screen of at least SPF 15. Even if there is a light haze in the sky, cover up – the sun’s rays can penetrate through and cause damage.
4. Protect your eyes by wearing good quality sunglasses and a hat! The ultraviolet rays of the sun can damage your eyes as well.
5. Never allow your skin to get burned!
by Cheryl Cooper, ND
Vitamin D is essential for the human body to function properly. It regulates over 200 genes, in cells all over the body – including the brain, heart, kidney, bone, intestine, skin, gonads, prostate, breast, parathyroid gland, and immune system.
Vitamin D is important for bone health because it regulates calcium and phosphorus levels in the blood. It can suppress the immune system, to fight against conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and multiple sclerosis, or, can activate the immune system, to fight cancer and infections like tuberculosis, pneumonia, and the flu, and decrease the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Vitamin D helps to prevent diabetes by modifying the release and response to insulin.
Although the exact rate of vitamin D deficiency in Canada isn’t known, I recommend that everyone get tested. So far, all the patients I have tested who not taking a supplement or in the sun regularly throughout the year are deficient.
In order to get enough vitamin D to ensure that there isn’t a deficiency, we should either take 1000 IUs of Vitamin D every day or spend 10-15 minutes in the sun with as much skin exposed as possible. For those with highly sensitive skin or who don’t get out much into the sun, a Vitamin D supplement is essential.
Everyone should have their levels tested. A simple blood test can tell you what your levels are. If you are low, you should be retested until your levels are in the recommended range. I like to see my patients at 120 to ensure a good functional safety margin.
To book an appointment, please call 613 695 8482.
by Cheryl Cooper, ND
We’re told that we should wear sunscreen to protect us from the sun’s harmful rays which may ultimately cause skin cancer. On the other hand, we’re told that 90% of Canadians are Vitamin D deficient and the best way for our bodies to get Vitamin D is to get exposure to the sun without sunscreen. Then, of course, there is the ongoing debate over whether sunscreens, with all of their chemical ingredients, are even safe to be applying continuously to our skin whenever we are in the sun. Which is worse: sun exposure, vitamin D deficiency, or slathering ourselves with harmful chemicals?
Confused? That’s no surprise. As when I address any problems with my patients, let’s take one at a time. Let’s start with what we know.
Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun is the number one cause of skin cancer, and UV light from tanning beds is just as harmful. Exposure to sunlight during the winter months puts you at the same risk as exposure during the summertime.
Cumulative sun exposure causes mainly basal cell and squamous cell skin cancer, while episodes of severe sunburns, usually before age 18, can cause melanoma later in life. Other less common causes are repeated X-ray exposure and occupational exposure to certain chemicals.
Although anyone can get skin cancer, the risk is greatest for people who have fair or freckled skin that burns easily, light eyes and blond or red hair. Darker skinned individuals are also susceptible to all types of skin cancer, although their risk is substantially lower.
Aside from complexion, other risk factors include having a family history or personal history of skin cancer, having an outdoor job and living in a sunny climate. A history of severe sunburns and an abundance of large and irregularly-shaped moles are risk factors unique to melanoma.
by Erin Whyte, Registered Massage Therapist
It’s not a topic that often comes up in a massage room. It can be mildly embarrassing and may seem inappropriate to share as part of your health history. But did you know that your Registered Massage Therapist is trained to help with digestive issues, in particular constipation?
As we all know, elimination is (or at least should be) a regular and important part of our digestive cycle. Byproducts of the breakdown of our food become waste and need to exit our bodies, as they can be toxic and uncomfortable if they remain in our intestines. Our bodies are built to protect our bowels from harmful agents as they pass through, but when the bowels become blocked, these toxins begin to accumulate. The accumulation creates an unbalanced environment in our intestines which can lead to more difficult situations.
For reasons ranging from low fibre intake to inflammatory bowel disease (IBS), the elimination of waste can be slowed down or even briefly stopped altogether. It can leave the belly feeling bloated and cramped and the entire body may feel sluggish or mildly unwell.
Massage works in two ways: As the smooth muscle that surrounds the intestines becomes more relaxed and less “gripping,” the coordinated movements of the therapist’s hands encourage the natural movement and flow of material to be eliminated.
As your therapist, I am more than happy to discuss whether you might benefit from this type of massage as part of your treatment and to ensure that you feel comfortable at all times. Comfort is likely what you seek and it can be addressed if brought to the table.
By Priya Prakash, ND
It’s almost ragweed and mould allergy season, and to many allergy sufferers, that means a lot of sneezing, itching, congestion, runny nose, fatigue, and generally feeling unwell. Instead of being able to enjoy the last month of nice hot summer weather, most ragweed sufferers are dreaming of the colder months and wishing for the first frost to hit us to put them out of their misery.
Is there a natural solution?
Naturopathic medicine looks at balancing the immune system instead of just suppressing the allergic response. While antihistamine medications are very useful, chronic use leaves us feeling drained. Even the non-drowsy formulas have this effect over time.
There are many natural options available, including botanicals, nutritional supplements, homeopathic remedies and dietary changes, all aimed at balancing and modulating the immune system. Naturopathic treatments for allergies are generally more effective when done preventatively – a few weeks to a few months prior to the season. There are also some things that can be done acutely to help reduce symptoms.
While it’s always best to be evaluated by a Naturopathic Doctor before taking any supplements or herbs, here are a few very safe and effective natural allergy treatments (most effective when combined):
Quercetin is a bioflavonoid found primarily in onions and apples. It acts to stabilize mast cells, the immune cells that release histamine into the bloodstream in response to an allergen, thereby preventing the allergic response. A dose of 1500 – 2000 mg is effective at reducing allergic symptoms, and works best when started a few weeks before the season hits.
Vitamin C acts as a natural anti-histamine and prevents the release of histamine by mast cells. A dose of 1000 mg – 3000 mg daily has been shown to reduce allergy symptoms.
Stinging Nettle is a plant that grows as a weed across North America. The leaf has an anti-inflammatory effect on the body, and studies have shown a significant reduction of seasonal allergic symptoms. It can be taken as a tea, and works best when 2 cups of a strong infusion are consumed daily a few weeks prior to and during the allergy season; however, it can also have an acute effect. It actually contains histamine, which may seem counterintuitive, but this small amount of histamine works as a negative feedback signal, preventing further histamine release by the body.
Saline nasal rinsing through a neti pot filled with a buffered saline solution, can help flush out inhaled pollens and spores, thereby reducing nasal symptoms like congestion, runny nose, sneezing and itching.
Food sensitivity elimination (through a hypoallergenic/elimination diet or food sensitivity testing) is effective at reducing hay fever symptoms. There is research showing that in some people, a hypoallergenic diet alone during allergy season was enough to remain symptom-free, without the use of any other allergy medications. Food sensitivities can trigger immune reactions that can predispose an individual to reacting to other environmental allergens, such as pollen. The biggest culprits seem to be dairy, wheat, corn, eggs, soy and citrus fruits.
The immune system is a complex body system that requires knowledge and specialized skill to bring back to balance. Naturopathic doctors can guide you through the proper individualized dietary program, nutritional and botanical supplementation, as well as provide food sensitivity testing and more for allergy prevention and relief. If you want to be symptom-free this allergy season, so you can enjoy your summer, an early assessment and treatment is the best solution.
by Heather Resvick, RHN, ROHP
With the prospect of warmer weather and lots of glorious sunshine always has me anxious to do some spring cleaning. I am not only referring to those items around the house and the yard that need some revitalization! I am also referring to ourselves, and removing the build-up and excesses from the long winter season. We are exposed to toxins daily from food, water, air, the products we use and even as a by-product of our metabolism.
I often recommend detoxification in the spring (and the fall) as a means of getting a jump start on health and wellness. I could chat for pages on the various detoxification programs but today I would like to focus on those foods that support our liver and its natural ability to detoxify.
To begin, water, preferably filtered, is a must to aid in the elimination of toxins. Here are my top 10 picks:
1. Lemons – these sunny fruits stimulate digestion, are alkalizing to the body and stimulate liver enzymes responsible for the conversion of toxins to water soluble wastes. Start your morning with a large glass of room temperature water with the juice of 1/2 a fresh lemon.
2. Beets – deep red and yellow delights that are nutrient dense with B vitamins (B3 & B6), vitamin C and beta-carotene. They are also good sources of iron, magnesium, zinc and calcium. These nutrients support the liver and gallbladder as well as the detoxification process and promote elimination. Beets are also high in fibre and aid in digestion and elimination. Try adding roasted or steamed beets to your next salad.
3. Garlic – a staple in any kitchen, the pungent garlic has multiple benefits. Garlic has antibacterial, anti fungal and antiviral properties giving the immune system support and by ridding the body of these microbes you eliminate the toxins they produce. Garlic also contains sulfur which is highly supportive to the detoxification process. Use liberally!
4. Green Tea – the antioxidant rich beverage is a welcome alternative to your cup of coffee, rich in the phytonutrient catechin that rev-up liver enzyme activity and the detoxification process.
5. Brassica Family of vegetables – this family includes some of my favourites such as broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, kale, collards, cabbage, watercress and the list goes on. These vegetables are among the most beneficial foods you can eat. They contain the potent anti-cancer compounds sulfuraphane and indoles. These powerhouse vegetables are low in calories, nutrient dense, high in fibre and support both phases of liver detoxification. Aim for 2-3 1/2 cup servings of these veggies/day.
6. Sea Vegetables – loaded with minerals and a have powerful antioxidant properties while they are alkalizing to the body and support thyroid function. Compounds called aligns found in sea vegetables absorb toxins in the digestive tract. Dulse is my personal favourite.
7. Apples – ” an apple a day”. These high fibre nutrient dense fruits have many phytochemicals that are necessary for the detoxification process. Pectin is a soluble fibre found in apples that is helpful in the detoxification and removal of heavy metals and food additives from the body. With so many varieties it is easy to enjoy every day.
8. Tumeric – contains curcumin which gives it the bright yellow colour and has anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and antioxidant properties. Curcumin has a positive effect on the liver by speading up the detoxification process and stimulating the production of bile which is necessary for the elimination of toxins.
9. Dandelion – while some believe it is trouble for your lawn, dandelion has a many benefits for your liver and detoxification. As a powerful antioxidant and full of nutrients like B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, zinc and vitamin C, try dandelion in the form of fresh leaves on your salad or steeped in tea. Dandelions acts to cleanse the blood and liver while increasing bile production important for the elimination of toxins.
10. Flax Seeds – These tiny seeds are a great source of the health smart Omega 3 essential fatty acids and a perfect combination of soluble and insoluble fibre. Fibre in the diet is great not only for hormone, blood sugar and cholesterol balance but also for the elimination of toxins. Enjoy ground flax in your breakfast soomthie, on your oatmeal or yogurt as a great way to start your day.
The addition of some or all of these foods in your diet on a regular basis with go a long way to supporting your liver and the detoxification process. Yours in good health….
by Erin Whyte, RMT
Biking: There are many aspects of bike positioning that will ensure a comfortable ride. To start, make sure you are buying a bike that actually fits you. Go to a reputable store with knowledgeable sales people who can fit you properly. The most common thing that I see while out biking is people who have their seat too low. This may be because they don’t want to be leaning forward or down onto their handle bars in the mistaken belief that this position might protect their lower back, but in fact it does the opposite. Having the seat too low puts a great deal of added force on the hamstrings, quadriceps and hip flexors, all of which affect the low back when standing.
Try this to ensure the proper height for your seat: with shoes on, put your heel on the pedal and pedal backwards to the lowest point. Your leg should be straight. Now with the ball of your foot on the pedal (normal cycling position), pedal forward and you should have a slight bend in your knee. This is exactly what you want.
Paddling: Paddling, whether in a canoe or kayak, is all about upper body strength. This does not mean just the arms; it is more about pulling and rotating through your torso. The muscles in your abdomen are larger than the muscles your arms and can therefore supply more force than your arms alone. As you are initiating your stroke, think about winding your body to the opposite side of your reach; then as you pull through the water, unwind towards the paddle. Feel your abs (specifically your obliques) as you do this. Yes, your arms are still part of the process, but less so, which will allow you to paddle further and with less muscle fatigue the next day.
by Erin Whyte, RMT
Summer is here! Like heating molecules, we are starting to vibrate with activity and are getting the urge to move, move, move! Here are some tips to having a safe, fun-filled summer with your friends and family.
Camping: Do you love getting out into nature but dread coming home with a stiff lower back or sore neck from lying on the hard ground with minimal cushioning? Ease the strain on your lower back by tucking clothes into a bag and then under your knees. Sleeping on your side? Use the same bag to prop your upper arm and reduce shoulder strain. Ensure good neck support. If you are back-country camping and don’t have your cushy pillow, bring a pillow case and again, stuff it with your fleece or other bulky clothing items. On cold nights, this also keeps your change of clothes for the morning nice and toasty!
I would be remiss not to mention that in all your outdoor activities you need to stay hydrated and be protected from the sun. Both are safeguards from the onset of muscle cramping, headaches, fatigue, and the dangers of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
Check out the blog next week for adjustments for biking and paddling.
Have fun this summer and be safe!
by Dr Priya Prakash ND
It’s spring cleaning time, and if you are thinking of having a baby or have been trying to get pregnant for some time, it’s time to do a fertility cleanse.
Preparing for conception is one of the most important aspects of ensuring a healthy pregnancy and improving your chances of getting pregnant, as well as maintaining that pregnancy.
A fertility cleanse helps to rid your body of stored and accumulated toxins, which interfere with proper functioning of your hormones and reproductive organs. It can boost your fertility, and help to improve the many conditions that cause infertility such as ovarian cysts, endometriosis, menstrual irregularities, recurrent miscarriages, lack of ovulation, thyroid dysfunction, and more.
With a supervised herbal and nutritional protocol that is designed to your unique body, a fertility cleanse can improve your health in just 30 days. During the one month long cleanse, specific herbs and nutritional supplements are used to help speed up the liver’s natural detoxification process, mobilize stored toxins and eliminate them, eliminate excess hormones that interfere with conception, promote proper circulation to the reproductive organs, support a healthy uterine lining, stimulate balanced hormone production and improve your overall health too.
The time to do this cleanse is BEFORE conception, as the toxins released during a detoxification program can harm the fetus. The optimal time to do a fertility cleanse is during the spring season. According to the ancient wisdom of Traditional Chinese Medicine, spring is the season of the liver, which is the body’s primary organ of detoxification, so its function is naturally enhanced during this time of year. Take advantage of this season of regeneration and renewal, and come in for a fertility consult to start your path towards a healthy pregnancy.
Contact Dr Priya Prakash at our Glebe location: email@example.com or 613 695 8482.
by Heather Resvick, RHN, ROHP
Pain is often debilitating and can be exacerbated or helped by the dietary choices we make. Nutritional approaches to pain management often involve both dietary changes and nutritional supplement use.
Dietary manipulation in the form of an elimination diet can identify food sensitivities that activate the immune system and inflammatory response, both of which can increase pain. Vitamin deficiencies are associated with many diseases, some of which can cause pain; minerals are needed for wound healing, and reduce not only pain, but also inflammation. Ensuring that you are eating a variety of vegetables, fruits and whole grains, as well as lean meats, will protect against deficiencies.
In addition to the above suggestions, increasing your intake of omega 3 essential fatty acids will also help to decrease inflammation and pain. Food sources of omega 3’s include cold water fish such as salmon, sardines and halibut, walnuts, hemp, and flaxseeds.
To book a complimentary 15 minute introduction with Heather Resvick, Registered Holistic Nutritionist and Registered Orthomolecular Health Practitioner, call Vitallife at 613 798-9994 or email firstname.lastname@example.org