Improve Your Brain Health, Avoid Dementia. Should you be concerned about your cognitive brain health? Consider these facts
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If you follow health-related news, you’ve might have come across the term “biohacking”; however, this practice has been known since the 1980s. The word itself might sound intimidating to the average person, but the concepts behind biohacking are actually quite simple: The goal is to “hack” your body’s natural processes to improve your physical, emotional, and cellular health.
Taken to extremes, biohacking’s “citizen science” approach can lead to unsupervised experiments outside of conventional research facilities. Extreme biohackers pursue activities such as trying to alter their DNA or implanting cybernetic devices into their own bodies. That’s not necessarily a safe or recommended approach!
Fortunately, you don’t have to track every second of your day or spend a small fortune to benefit from biohacking best practices. Biohacking your health can be as easy as applying the latest scientific discoveries to your own life and adjusting as you go. That’s always a good approach to our well-being.
One of the central tenets of biohacking is that the things you put into your body (what you eat, the air you breathe, the sounds you are exposed to) shape your body’s output (your energy, productivity and moods). Your mitochondria are at the heart of this process. Mitochondria are the “batteries” that give energy to every cell in your body. These tiny powerhouses are easily influenced by their environment – in other words, they are impacted by everything your body is exposed to. When you improve their environment, you can improve the energy produced by mitochondria. The results? Far-reaching improvements on your overall health and energy levels.
What does this process look like in everyday life? Well, because we’re all different, what works for one person might not work for someone else. As you make changes to your lifestyle, you should carefully monitor your progress as you go. Biohackers draw on the data they create to come up with solutions that make them feel their best. They avoid “one size fits all” formulas.
That means paying close attention to how you feel, but the results are definitely worth it. By improving cellular function, biohacking your basic daily activities can have noticeable benefits. And it can be fun. After all, who doesn’t want to use science to feel better every day? Check out some easy ways to biohack your own health. The results might surprise you!
Adjusting your nutritional intake is an easy way to start biohacking. It’s a simple concept: Any change to your diet that results in noticeable improvements in how you feel is a biohack.
In general, focus on the fact that what you eat influences your gut bacteria and, in turn, every aspect of your health. By choosing natural, high-fibre foods, you can reduce inflammation. Too much inflammation affects mitochondria, leading to mitochondrial dysfunction, which can impact your entire body.
In general, biohackers focus on the nutritional quality of foods, not the calorie count. Many biohackers follow a gluten-free diet with plenty of healthy fats. Some have good results with intermittent fasting. But ultimately, the key is to pay attention to how your diet makes you feel and make adjustments based on that.
Use natural products.
Even if we’re careful about what we eat, our bodies are still exposed to harmful elements as we go through the day. The water we drink, the substances we clean with, and the beauty and grooming products we use can all hold harmful toxins. These toxins impact our cellular health in ways we may not even realize. Consciously seeking out natural beauty products and non-toxic cleaning solutions can help you assess the impact of toxic ingredients on your body.
By adjusting our night routines, we can improve the quality of our sleep. Biohackers look beyond the standard advice on improving sleep to carefully consider what we surround ourselves with at bedtime. For example, you may have great results by reducing the amount of blue light you’re exposed to at night. Blue light comes from electronic devices. What can be a helpful practice is staying off your devices for 3 hours before bed or switching your devices to “night mode.” Reducing the temperature in your room and minimizing exposure to electromagnetic fields can also lead to the best sleep.
Keep in mind that our bodies (and mitochondria) want to sleep when it’s dark and awaken when it’s light. Make it easier for them by creating a sleep environment that’s as dark as possible. If needed, invest in some blackout curtains or a sleep mask. You can also create a sleep-friendly internal environment by avoiding caffeine at least eight hours before you go to sleep.
Respond to stress.
Some biohackers use complex biofeedback systems to monitor the effect of stress on their bodies, but controlling stress can be as simple as paying attention to your breathing. (One biohack technique is “block breathing,” which means exhaling while counting to five, then repeating the count on the inhale. Do this several times and note how you feel after.) Classic stress reduction techniques such as yoga, meditation, and “forest bathing” (walking in the wilderness) can all contribute to lower stress levels.
It may seem like a bit of a paradox, but some biohackers recommend high-intensity interval training (HIIT) for improving a body’s ability to handle stress. That’s because HIIT emphasizes taxing a body to its maximum capacity, then allowing it to recover. As a result, we teach our bodies to be more resilient. Talk to a healthcare provider if you haven’t tried HIIT training before.
The hormonal balance in your system plays a huge role in pretty much everything. Having a balanced hormonal state is key to maintaining not just good health, but this balance also allows for all of the above-mentioned tips to actually work for you. When our hormones are out of alignment, it affects so many of our daily activities. Trying to even get through the day can be a challenge, let alone trying to take your health to another level.
As you can see, biohacking doesn’t have to be complicated. Ultimately, you’re the best scientist when it comes to your own well-being. Why not make a few simple changes to your lifestyle to see how you feel?
If you’d like to look deeper into your current status of health, find out if your hormones are causing issues in your body or learn how you can take your health to the next level, come into the office and let’s talk. We are experts in looking at the individual as a whole and creating a unique plan to get your body functioning its best.
Tips for Adult Acne and Why Is Adult Acne on the Rise? Increasing numbers of women are dismayed to discover they didn’t leave acne behind when they finished high school. Yes, it might seem like a cruel joke, but it’s possible to have pimples and wrinkles at the same time. In fact, 54 percent of women over 25 experience some acne. And the numbers are expected to increase, with some skin care experts calling the increase in outbreaks in adult women “an epidemic.”
What’s behind the rise in problem pimples?
Although we tend to associate acne with the angst-ridden adolescent years, in actuality many of the factors that contribute to teenage acne are still at play in older women’s lives. In particular, stress and hormonal fluctuations can wreak havoc on our skin – and many women these days do experience that magical combination of hormonal changes and lifestyle stress.
Stress and acne: a vicious cycle
The relationship between stress and breakouts can quickly become a vicious cycle. When our bodies feel stress, our adrenal glands respond by producing more of the stress hormone cortisol, as well as small amounts of testosterone. These can cause the oil glands in the skin to produce more sebum, which can raise the risk of skin infections and pimples. Of course, when we notice pimples appearing, we feel more stress. Add to that the fact that many of us can’t resist the temptation to pick and spread any bacteria present, and you have the formula for ongoing acne outbreaks.
The emotional and financial burden of adult acne
Finding a solution for adult acne can feel like a quest for the impossible. Consider this: Acne costs Americans an astounding $15 billion a year in related products and services. Perhaps ironically, we seem to be surrounded by skin care marketing that promises to clear up all skin issues and restore a flawless, youthful glow. But many of these products can actually worsen inflammation.
It all adds up to frustration. It’s no wonder that 95 percent of people with acne say the skin condition has affected their lives, with 63 percent citing lower self-confidence.
How can you treat adult acne?
The simple truth is that treatment has to start from within. Instead of seeking a “magic bullet” skin cream, it’s often best to start with a bit of self-reflection. For example, try tracking outbreaks to see if they coincide with your hormonal cycle, with other symptoms, with specific foods, or with stressful periods in your life.
Reduce stress to tackle breakouts
Think of ways you can reduce the stressors around you. Yoga and meditation have been proven to reduce stress, and ayurvedic tradition holds that many yoga poses can help with acne.
In addition, don’t forget one of the most essential parts of stress management: adequate sleep! To keep your skin extra fresh while you sleep, make sure your pillow cases are always clean.
The food you eat affects your skin
Much research remains to be done on the impact of diet on acne, but it’s been confirmed that the quality of the food we eat is reflected in our skin. Ultimately, you’re the best test study for which foods affect your complexion, since people can react differently to various foods. Keeping a food diary and reviewing it with your healthcare practitioner is a good starting point.
A sensible approach is to eat a healthy, whole-foods based diet, opting for antioxidant-rich foods whenever possible. Yes, that can include dark chocolate! Antioxidants can reduce inflammation and destroy harmful free radicals.
In addition, studies have shown the following nutrients may have a positive effect on the health of your skin:
• Zinc: The anti-inflammatory properties of zinc can help relieve the irritation of acne. Some research shows that taking a zinc supplement can even reduce acne scars. Zinc can also be applied topically, but it usually won’t be as effective. When it comes to your diet, zinc rich foods include beef and shellfish, especially oysters, and vegetarian sources like hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, beans, nuts, and whole grains.
• Omega-3 Fats. Not only do omega-3 fats soothe inflamed skin thanks to their antioxidant properties, they can also help regulate hormones. Omega-3 fats can be found in nuts, flax, hemp seeds, and many types of fish. Supplements containing fish oil or a vegan blend are also an excellent way to benefit from the acne-fighting powers of Omega-3. It might seem as if oil will make acne worse, but remember that the goal is to tackle hormonal imbalance, and healthy fats are vital building blocks for hormones.
• High fiber foods. Eating food with a lot of fiber can help control your blood sugar by slowing down sugar absorption and keeping you fuller longer. This helps to curb acne breakouts since healthy blood sugar levels can influence cortisol production. Aim for plenty of green veggies with each meal!
• Stay Hydrated. You may have noticed that your skin loses some luster when you’re dehydrated – It’s important to drink plenty of water to keep your skin cells healthy and nourished.
• Green Tea. In addition to water, don’t hesitate to pour yourself a cup of green tea. Studies show green tea can decrease sebum production. Plus, this delicious beverage is high in antioxidants!
Acne creams that work
A more natural approach to moisturizing and nourishing your skin may be helpful, as many people react to the chemicals, perfumes and preservatives in skin creams. Natural oils such as Jojoba, which has similar properties to the sebum produced by your skin, may work better to keep your oiliness in check than the drying benzoate creams of your youth.
Be cautious when adding essential oils to your regimen as some can be a little harsh on sensitive skin. Talk to your healthcare provider for guidance if you are having difficulty finding the right skincare solution. A number of effective remedies are available, but you want to make sure to pick a treatment that works for your particular skin.
Hormonal Adult Acne
Treating adult acne at the root cause can help you deal with this often-frustrating issue in a more permanent way, and often the more stubborn cases come down to a hormonal imbalance. Whether you’re in your 20’s or firmly in perimenopause, working with an Integrative medical practitioner or Naturopath can help you look at your full hormonal picture, and find the right plan to bring your hormones, and your skin, back in balance.
What worked in high school for clearing up your pimples might not be as effective as an adult, because as we get older the reasons for breakouts change. So if you see pimples developing, remain calm and take a focused look at the lifestyle factors that could be contributing.
If you have done what you can and are ready for professional analysis and guidance on skin-friendly treatments, come into the office! Together we can look at your diet, coping mechanisms, and other possible contributors. Adult acne doesn’t have to be frustrating.
We are now OPEN as of June 2, 2020. We have resumed non-essential, in-person services with COVID-19 precautions. We want to ensure that not only will our clinic continue to be a safe environment, but that it will still be the same patient-centred HealthSource experience that we‘ve been providing our patients for years.
We are continuing to encourage our patients who do not need in-person service to use our virtual services. We offer both phone and secure video consults to serve our patients. Please call reception at 519.954.7950 or email us at info@HealthSourceIMC.com to book an appointment or set up a time to speak with your provider to determine how your needs can be best met.
Here are some of the changes you will see to keep you safe:
- Prior to your appointment, you will be given a pre-screening form. If you are experiencing any signs or symptoms of COVID-19, we ask that you call to reschedule your appointment. To support you we are suspending our cancellation policy at this time.
- To minimize traffic in the clinic, please wait in your vehicle until your scheduled appointment time.
- Our friendly reception will be welcoming you and communicating from behind a plexiglass shield.
- Given we are normally a high volume clinic, we have designated “STAND HERE” locations in reception to ensure everyone is standing 2 meters apart. We will continue to thoroughly disinfect rooms, common areas and surfaces of greater contact to comply with guidelines set by the Ministry of Health and our regulatory college.
- Practitioners at HealthSource will be wearing face masks and although you cannot see it, we will still be greeting you with a warm smile.
- Patients coming into the clinic will be asked to wear a face mask. If you forget your mask no need to worry as we will provide masks for you to wear during your visit here.
- You will see signage throughout the clinic educating patients on how to sanitize their hands, wear masks and recognize the symptoms of COVID-19.
- If only needing supplements we have you covered – please call or email to let us know which supplements you need and please allow up to 24 hours for your supplement order to be processed.
If you have any questions please email or call in before your appointment. We’re here for you and look forward to seeing you soon.
Reducing Inflammation (and Pain) Naturally
Pain, swelling, redness, immobility, and heat — these are all common signs of inflammation, but these signs only go skin deep. Chronic inflammation also manifests on the inside of our bodies and can present itself in other ways. When inflammation triggers sensory nerve endings, it can result in symptoms such as fatigue, rashes, and chest, abdominal, and joint pain.
What is Inflammation?
Inflammation is a natural function with a bad reputation. It’s a word most of us associate with pain, discomfort, and poor health — but would you believe inflammation is really there to help us? Without inflammation, injuries could fester and infections could turn deadly!
When the body is injured, inflammation is a signal to the immune system to send white blood cells to begin the healing process. Unfortunately, when inflammation continues for too long, it has the potential to trigger a host of other chronic health issues in the body including cancers, depression, and asthma. In fact, some say inflammation is the “new cholesterol” due to its direct link to heart disease.
In some cases, inflammation occurs when the immune system revolts against us and attacks our own bodies. Autoimmune diseases include rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes, and IBD, among dozens of others. There are, in fact, over 80 different autoimmune diseases.
Top Tips to Reduce Inflammation
First, let’s take a quick look at inflammatory foods that you definitely don’t want to put into your body. You probably already know all the usual suspects by name – sugar and artificial sweeteners, fried foods and saturated fats, processed meats and grains, dairy, caffeine, and alcohol. These foods can disrupt gut bacteria, spike insulin levels, and bolster inflammation. Definitely not the foods you want to be consuming if you’re prone to inflammatory responses!
So just what are anti-inflammatory foods? We’ve got a whole list of suggestions for you…and they’re delicious!
- Eat Raw, Organic Fruits & Veggies
Organic foods are a great place to start when looking to adhere to a more anti-inflammatory diet. Grown in mineral-dense soil, organic foods tend to be more alkalizing and have a higher vitamin and mineral content.
In order to keep those vitamin and mineral levels high, it’s also helpful to eat raw fruits and veggies, which are known as life-giving foods. Cooking can deplete minerals, which is why it’s important to take every opportunity you can to get eat fresh and raw so you get to enjoy the full nutritional benefits. For example, Vitamin K is found in raw, dark, leafy greens like broccoli and spinach, and is excellent for reducing inflammation.
- Add in lots of Alkaline foods
In addition to fruits and vegetables, nuts and legumes are also alkaline foods that can help balance your pH and reduce acidity. Surprisingly though, take note that acidic foods like tomatoes and citrus actually aren’t the source of acidity in the body. Instead they may actually help to restore your pH balance. Even apple cider vinegar is alkaline-forming (however, other vinegars are not).
- Fish & Plant Proteins
Believe it or not, most high protein foods, like meat, can be the culprits in building up acid in the body. In this case, plant proteins, such as almonds and beans, are great alternatives to reduce acidity and inflammation.
Need your meat? Then eat more fish. Fish oils, as well as other foods rich in healthy fats like omega 3, are proven to have a variety of health benefits, including significant anti-inflammatory effects.
Fish is also a great source of Vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with a wide range of inflammatory conditions.
- Antioxidant-Rich Foods
Those susceptible to chronic inflammation may also benefit from supplementing their diets with food sources that contain bioactive molecules. For example, curcumin is the compound found in turmeric root that gives curry its bright yellow color. A powerful antioxidant, curcumin’s ability to reduce brain inflammation has been shown to be beneficial on both Alzheimer’s disease and major depression. Curcumin has been shown to not only prevent memory problems from worsening, but also to improve memory health!
Complement your curry with a little watercress salad on the side, including pears, dill weed, onion, and chives – all sources of the antioxidant known as isorhamnetin.
Add a little red wine and some berries for dessert, which are rich in resveratrol, and you’ve got yourself an anti-inflammatory party. Resveratrol is an antioxidant produced by certain plants in response to injury or when under attack by bacteria or fungi. This is what makes dark-coloured grapes and berries such excellent health boosters for your body.
And of course, you can’t forget the dark chocolate! Not only is it a treat, but the flavonoids found in cacao are extremely potent antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents, which are great for your brain and your heart. New research also shows that consuming dark chocolate with a high concentration of cacao (minimum 70% with 30% organic cane sugar) has a positive effect on stress levels and inflammation, while also improving your memory, immunity, and mood. You read that right – chocolate really is good for you (but make sure its good quality and that you are not over doing it).
- Going Beyond Diet- get your stress in check!
While diet definitely plays a role, stress is also a major contributor to inflammation in the body. Stress can be triggered by lack of sleep, lifestyle changes, or any other number of factors. Getting a good night’s rest and making time to meditate or practice other stress-reducing activities, like yoga or Tai chi, are also very effective ways to promote good health and reduce inflammation.
All it takes is a few conscious decisions about your diet and lifestyle and you are on your way to a healthier you.
Are you dealing with chronic health issues triggered by inflammation? Do you still have more questions about how you can make greater changes towards a pain-free life? Would you love support in developing a customized approach to managing your inflammation and preventing disease? Please feel free to contact us, and we can find your best solutions together. Call us at (519) 954-7950 or email info@HealthSourceIMC.com.
To your best health!
The Team at HealthSource Integrative Medical Centre
Alcohol: Is it healthy in small doses?
A glass of wine with dinner. A beer after a hard day at work. It’s not hard to integrate an occasional drink with a healthy lifestyle…is it?
In recent years, we’ve read that red wine is rich with antioxidants, and that an occasional beer can raise “good” cholesterol. But results from a new study suggest that even moderate alcohol consumption – the kind we tell ourselves is healthy – may actually be detrimental. In other words, all those health benefits you’ve been hearing about still don’t outweigh the risks of alcohol consumption. Which means there really is no safe level.
A recently published report looks at data gathered from almost 700 studies, spanning 195 countries and territories. Some of the findings are shocking:
● Alcohol is the leading risk factor for death in those aged 15 through 49.
● Alcohol use was responsible for 2.8 million deaths worldwide in 2016.
● For women in particular, the health risks of drinking increase with age. Alcohol was responsible for over 27 percent of cancer deaths in women over 50.
The authors of the study are firm in their conclusion: “By evaluating all associated relative risks for alcohol use, we found that consuming zero standard drinks daily minimizes the overall risk to health.”
In other words, the only safe amount of drinks is none at all. This finding differs from many earlier studies, which often concluded that moderate drinking was the best approach.
Why did this study reach a more decisive conclusion than previous examinations of alcohol’s effect on health? Several factors are at play. This study was careful to consider the ways they measured consumption. For example, researchers looked at regional variations in alcohol consumption that could be attributed to things like tourism. In addition, the study looked at alcohol’s impact on 23 different health-related problems. For some of those problems (such as heart disease), mild alcohol consumption had a positive effect. But that positive effect was balanced by a greater negative impact on other health issues (cancer is a strong example).
So what does this mean? If you drink, should you stop? Alcohol consumption is a very personal decision. This study looked at the picture, worldwide. It was not studying individuals, but rather analyzing vast amounts of data previously collected, specifically looking at the risks for the 23 health issues. That data was conclusive. But how you apply it to your own life is up to you. This latest study can’t, for example, tell you what impact a glass of wine at New Year’s will have on you with your own unique genetics and lifestyle.
One thing is certain: If you’ve told yourself that drinking is healthy, you may want to reconsider that rationale. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to stop right this moment. However in deciding whether or not alcohol is something you want in your life, it’s best to be realistic about the health risks.
If you’re wondering about alcohol, talk to a healthcare practitioner. And be upfront about your drinking during the visit. Many people underreport how much they drink, but it’s best to be honest. You want to have an open and fruitful discussion about all of your health concerns. Remember that healthcare providers aren’t looking to judge you: they want to work with you to create your best life.
You also want to look at your own medical history and perhaps check out more specific studies. For example, another recently published study concluded that alcohol is the biggest controllable risk factor for dementia. If you have other dementia risk factors that are out of your control, such as a genetic history, you may want take action on the things you are under your control.
Similarly, if you have a history of depression, consider alcohol’s impact on mental health. If you are trying to control your weight, the extra calories of alcohol aren’t going to help. Alcohol can also lower your judgment and keep you from making your best decisions.
Some patients express frustration at the different results they see in various health studies: One minute something is good for you, the next, it’s something we’re told to avoid altogether! Studies on alcohol use can be proof that when we read an eye-catching health-related headline, we need to look beyond the numbers.
One thing to keep in mind is that the media will typically seize the most dramatic sound bite, although it’s impossible to always convey the nuances of a well-run scientific study in a short headline. For example, a news story doesn’t always mention who funded the study. For the record, the Lancet study on alcohol safety was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, while some others that emphasized alcohol’s benefits were funded by companies who sell alcohol. That doesn’t necessarily mean the studies are false, but we should all remember the funders have a vested interest in how the results are positioned and presented.
As well, correlation doesn’t always equal causation. That’s sometimes hard to capture in reporting large studies. In fact there are studies that show that Resveratrol, an antioxidant found in red wine, is beneficial to your health however if you have other health issues like, poor gut function, low energy, or sleep issues, alcohol will likely have negative impacts and could make your health issues worse.
Whenever you’re confused about a health issue, the best approach is to consider it from a sample study of one: yourself. That means talking to a healthcare provider about your own personal history and choices and your current health concerns. We can help you sort through all of the information and competing arguments out there and figure out what’s best for your unique body – in fact, we do just that! Give our office a call, we are here to help 519-954-7950.
Top 10 Tips for Staying Healthy Over the Holidays
Are you loving these last few weeks of the year? It’s a fabulous and festive time of the year. Unfortunately, it’s also a difficult time for maintaining healthy habits. Check out our list of the top 10 ways to stay healthy and happy over the holiday season.
1. Rethink your holiday expectations. Think about it – if you position the holidays as an exhausting test of your endurance, and holiday treats as evil temptations to be resisted with all available willpower, how will your body react? Okay, that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but many patients do come into the office at this time of the year showing signs of anxiety and tension. In fact, one study found that 90 percent of adults feel stressed over the holidays…which does line up with how joyous the holidays are supposed to feel!
These high stress levels certainly may come in part as a result of all that is going on at this time of year, and all the unique responsibilities we take on. Because we have more tasks to keep track of (even if those tasks are fun things like going to parties and buying gifts), our prefrontal cortex (in our brain) is overtaxed. This can affect our memory and overall ability to cope. Add in the extra pressure of attempting to maintain a perfect diet and workout schedule, and you have a recipe for sleep problems, digestive difficulties, and tense muscles – all of which can add to our stress. And when we’re stressed, we tend to overeat. It may be becoming clear why holiday stress often creates a vicious cycle of guilt…
Reframing our expectations of a “perfect” holiday while staying disciplined can end the frustration. So don’t beat yourself up if not everything goes according to plan. In the long run, our happiest memories are sometimes the ones when things didn’t go as we’d pictured them, or the times we slowed down to take in the moment. Letting go of visions of perfection (whether impressed on us by ourselves or others) will ultimately help our health.
2. Play games. If you get together with family or friends in the next weeks, why not introduce a low-tech way to have fun by playing board games? Board games also tend to offer cognitive benefits – not that you need an excuse to start rolling the dice.
3. Stay mindful. A mindfulness practice has obvious benefits when we’re extremely busy. Even if you’re not a regular meditator, just five minutes a day of meditation can help you cope with holiday stress. And why not share the love? Suggest a short meditation you can share with family before holiday meals, to help set the tone for a peaceful celebration. Studies show that meditation in groups can have powerful results.
4. Get moving. Fitting in some exercise can be easier when you mix it up by engaging in physical social activities with loved ones. Snowshoeing, making snowmen, skating…or if you’re not a cold-weather person, try bowling or a trip to the pool. You may not end up with six-pack abs, but it could be the start of a great, new holiday tradition. Suggesting fun activities for social gatherings also helps take the focus off food.
5. Cook up some love. Looking for a unique gift idea? Want to stay away from the mall and its atmosphere of seemingly relentless consumerism? Try baking some healthy holiday gifts. For example, put some homemade sweet and spicy holiday almonds into a fancy jar (you can find a good recipe here: https://mywholefoodlife.com/2012/11/28/sweet-and-spicy-holiday-almonds/). Or wrap up a box of vegan hazelnut cups. (This recipe is amazing! https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-16557/like-nutella-try-these-vegan-hazelnut-cups.html) or even start making some natural soaps as gifts, it’s easy, natural and fun!
6. Go green. When you’re thinking about ways to keep your body healthy over the holidays, don’t forget that the planet deserves some love, too. It’s easy to have a green holiday season (even if it’s snowing). Use recycled wrapping paper, serve food on real plates (not paper/plastic), and consider turning the heat down a degree or two for large gatherings (who knows – maybe then you’ll see some amazingly ugly Christmas sweaters!). To conserve electricity, use LED lights only, and defrost your freezer before you load it up with holiday baking.
7. Learn to say no. This is a tough one for many people; but sometimes refusing a social invitation or a request to do work is the healthiest choice for everyone involved. If you find it hard to turn down an invitation or request, remember that you don’t need to apologize. Decline right away and resist the urge to make up an elaborate excuse. Suggest an alternative activity or a later date – but only if you really want to.
8. Keep your gut healthy. Sugar laden holiday treats, cocktails and parties galore can really put a damper on your gut health. Rightfully so an imbalance of extra sugar lowers both your immune system and can lead to an imbalance of healthy bacteria in the gut. Take some high quality probiotics and some digestive enzymes prior to meals to give your gut a healthy boost and some likely much needed assistance!
9. Start some healthy food traditions. The internet is bursting with healthy holiday recipes. Think about your loved ones’ food preferences and find some yummy dishes to bring to gatherings. For example, here are some outstanding vegan dishes: https://minimalistbaker.com/christmas-recipe-roundup/. Other guests might thank you for providing an alternative to Aunt Edna’s special salad! Try replacing carb heavy side dishes with healthy ones like Rutabaga and carrot mash or creamy butternut squash and thyme! Remember it’s OK to say no!
10. Be grateful. The holidays don’t always go the way we expect or hope. Sometimes we have to go to work instead of eating great meals. Sometimes we miss people we’ve lost over the years. It’s normal to experience sadness at this time of the year. Acknowledge your feelings and be gentle with yourself. Take some time to remember and be grateful for the good things (even if they’re not always picture-perfect). Grateful people experience better sleep, more optimism, and improved relationships. And we could all use a bit of that at this time of the year.
Happy New Year from all of us! We look forward to working with you to create a fulfilling and healthy start to 2019!
Say Goodbye to Headaches! What gives you a headache? I’m sure any number of factors come to mind. Stress is the most common answer and leads to “tension headaches.” And what about the familiar stuffy sting of sinus pain? Then there are those awful migraines, the angriest of the headaches, accompanied by a whole host of symptoms including nausea or vomiting, stomach pain, and/or sensitivity to bright lights, loud noise and strong odours. Sometimes smells can even trigger a migraine!
Did you know there are 150 different types of headaches?
Getting a headache is always a good sign that something is off in your body. They can be triggered by a wide variety of factors that are usually fairly easy to identify once you tune into your body and familiarize yourself with what it needs.
Top Headache Triggers
Research shows that water-deprivation headaches are among the most common types of headaches people experience. Just think, how often do you fall short of the daily recommended eight glasses of water? Staying hydrated not only help limit headaches, but it also improves concentration and significantly decreases irritability.
Chances are, at some point in your life, you’ve experienced a headache in response to stress or tension. You’re barely treading water, with too much to do and not enough hours in the day. Your baby just won’t stop screaming, but you need to get the grocery shopping done. Your boss is in a foul mood — again. Your head begins to pound. Stress is a fact of life. It can be hard to avoid a tension headache, but taking a mindful approach to life and prioritizing peace and wholeness, whether through yoga, meditation or gratitude journaling, can help us to manage stress better when those tense moments do show up.
We all know how alcohol can trigger a headache – especially when combined with dehydration, resulting in the ever-dreaded hangover. But have you ever been drinking diet pop and suddenly felt headache-y afterward? You’re not the only one, and it’s not a coincidence. Aspartame and caffeine can act as dietary triggers that lead to headaches. Other food intolerances known for influencing headaches include Monosodium glutamate a.k.a. MSG, nitrates found in processed meats, tyramine — a natural chemical that’s also found in processed meats, as well as aged cheese; pickles and olives; snow peas, fava and broad beans; and nuts.
Bread and pastries, cultured dairy products and yes, even chocolate, have also been known to cause headaches at times. As usual, moderation is the key, as well as taking note of what you were eating before a headache occurred so you can identify your own unique sensitivities.
Oh, those hormones sure have a way of impacting all areas of our bodies, don’t they? So, is it any wonder that they could be to blame for headaches, too? Truth is, elevated estrogen levels can have an impact on the frequency and severity of headaches in both women and men. Because of naturally heightened estrogen levels, women are 3X more likely to experience a migraine than men! If you experience headaches or migraines on a regular basis, it is worth speaking to your healthcare practitioner about getting your hormone levels tested. Getting back into balance won’t only help your headaches, it can also change your life in a lot of other positive ways.
Natural Ways to Treat Your Headaches
Essential oils – A wide variety of essential oils can have a calming effect on headaches and also help to soothe migraines. Some good options include lavender, peppermint, and eucalyptus oils.
Herbs – Butterbur and feverfew are two herbal remedies that have long been used to help treat headache pain; however, like with most herbal supplements, it is important to consult the guidance of a healthcare professional to ensure you are taking them safely and effectively.
Yoga – Yoga is proven to be one of the most effective forms of self-care to help reduce headaches. In fact, one study actually demonstrated a significant reduction in migraine headache frequency when yoga was practiced regularly over a period of just three months.
Visit your Chiropractor – Sometimes the root of your issue starts with getting your body re-aligned – literally. Headaches can be caused by misalignment in your spine and overall musculo-skeletal structure, and enlisting the help of a professional can be life changing. Encouraging results have been seen in a variety of studies, suggesting that a visit to your Chiropractor can help to reduce migraines. Participants in these studies have rated the results between good to excellent (compared to the results when using no treatment, mobilization, and ice).
Acupuncture – If you suffer from frequent headaches and want to avoid popping pills on a regular basis, you might wish to consider acupuncture. One study showed that after 3 to 4 months of treatment, patients receiving acupuncture had higher response rates and fewer headaches, with results that were possibly more effective than prophylactic drug treatment – and with fewer adverse side effects.
Headaches are unfortunately common, but they don’t have to be. If you feel like you’re dealing with more than your fair share and are having trouble pinpointing the issue, please do not hesitate to contact us at (519) 954-7950 or info@HealthSourceIMC.com and we will work to identify your triggers and solutions together.
The Team at HealthSource Integrative Medical Centre
Sitting Can Cause Death
On average, how many hours a day do you spend sitting…with no breaks? One hour? Two hours? Three…or more?
Long ago, our ancestors spent much of their time on the move, hunting and gathering to serve their basic needs. Obviously, the balance between movement and fuel has shifted dramatically over time. Technology is incredible, but it has revolutionized our lives…sometimes in ways not so helpful to our health…
Unlike our ancestors, we no longer search for food. Instead, we search for time, spending hours each day hunched over a keyboard. On an average day, many of us are likely sitting more than we are moving and consuming more calories than we are burning. Many of us regularly put in eight-hour workdays seated at a desk – sometimes even more! We then go home and unwind on the couch, binge-watching our favourite shows, mentally exhausted but physically not much different than we started our day. The hours begin to add up.
Maybe we make a little time to fit in some exercise each day; however, with more conveniences at our fingertips, it’s simply reality that we can do a lot more while moving a lot less. The longer we sit, the more our bodies begin to feel tight, tired, and sore. It’s clear that too much sitting isn’t good for us. But did you know that it can even lead to earlier mortality?
Sitting and Premature Death
That’s right…too much sitting can kill you! In fact, some are saying that “sitting is the new smoking” because its impact is so significant. According to recent research from the Journal of the American Heart Association, prolonged sitting presents health risks similar to those of smoking – heart disease, lung cancer, and diabetes. It also increases premature death by a whopping 50 percent! Even more surprising, too much sitting increases your risk for an early death regardless of your fitness level or other lifestyle habits.
But sitting isn’t just bad for your heart or metabolism; it is also bad for your brain! Researchers at the University of California have discovered a connection between sedentary behaviour and thinning regions in the brain that is critical to new memory formation.
So, what if your job requires you to be at a desk, all day, every day? Are you supposed to quit? Well, of course, that’s not practical. But here are a few simple things you can do to ensure that you keep your body moving regularly…towards a longer, healthier life.
Tips to Sit Less & Live Longer
- Fit in Exercise Whenever Possible
Bottom line, the more frequently you work out, the more you reduce your risk of premature death. Adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week. While exercising 10 minutes or more at a time is ideal, shorter but frequent bursts of exercise, like taking the stairs, can also be an excellent way to keep active.
- Move Every 30 Minutes
Research shows that people who sit for less than 30 minutes at a time have the lowest risk of early death. Meetings and deadlines don’t always offer the freedom to move, but ideally, you don’t want to be sitting for any longer than three hours at a time. Setting a timer on your phone can be a helpful reminder to pause regularly for “movement breaks.”
- Use a Fitness Tracker
Fitness trackers are an effective way to ensure you’re getting enough activity in your day. As health and fitness wearables grow in popularity, there is an increasing number of options available for every budget and lifestyle. There are also a wide variety of exercise apps out there to track your progress and monitor your success with motivational milestones to keep you moving.
- Try a Standing Desk
As awareness grows about the health concerns associated with chronic and prolonged sitting, more companies have already begun re-examining ways they can improve employee wellness. In some environments, adjustable desks are offered to provide workers with opportunities to stand instead of sitting if they so choose. If a standing desk is not an option for you, try moving your laptop to a tall counter or table as a means to squeeze in more standing.
- Opt for Less Convenience
We live in a world of many technological conveniences, and yet, we take so many of them for granted — and in some cases to our detriment. Instead, opt for “less convenient” choices in your day. Walk over and have a conversation with your colleague instead of sending an email. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Bike to work instead of drive. Small activities can make a significant impact!
Do you know you spend excessive amounts of time sitting? Do you experience any health problems that you think could be related to a sedentary lifestyle? Let’s chat and get to the root of your health issues. Book an appointment with our clinic, and together we will find ways to improve your overall health and well-being so that you can live your life to its fullest.
Call or email us at (519) 954-7950 or info@HealthSourceIMC.com.
To your best health!
The Team at HealthSource Integrative Medical Centre
Treating Depression: Have you ever suffered from depression? If so, you’re not alone. The World Health Organization estimates that 350 million people worldwide suffer from depression – it is also a leading cause of disability. Fifteen percent of adults will experience depression at some point in their lifetime.
Depression doesn’t respect boundaries. It can impact anyone at any point in their life, regardless of age, gender, medical history, or socioeconomic status. While depression may seem like an invisible condition, there are warning signs to watch out for – stay alert!
Signs of Depression
A major depressive episode is defined as a depressed mood lasting at least two weeks or more. Life seems filled with darkness or heaviness, and there is a loss of interest or pleasure in almost all activities. Depression also comes with the baggage of other symptoms that can interfere with your work, school, or social life. These symptoms include:
- Abnormal sleep rhythms — either sleeping too much or having difficulty falling asleep
- Low energy or daily fatigue for seemingly no reason
- Inability to focus, make decisions or think clearly
- Slower movement than usual or unintentional motion that is noticeable by others
- Changes in weight and appetite, with an increase or decrease of more than five percent in body weight per month
- Recurring thoughts about death or suicide, a suicide attempt, or a specific plan in place for suicide
If you are or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, it’s important to start a conversation right away, get professional help to identify the cause, and find some appropriate solutions.
What Causes Depression?
What makes depression so elusive is that there is no one single cause. Hormones, brain chemistry, family genetics, life experiences, and physical health are all possible factors that can trigger a depressive episode. While some types of depression can be attributed to conditions such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or postpartum depression, for many the source might not be so easily identifiable.
Unfortunately, in many situations, doctors prefer to medicate rather than investigate, prescribing antidepressants instead of exploring the cause of the condition. Antidepressants have their time and place, but with a myriad of possible side-effects, they are not the best option at all times for all people. Also, a lifetime prescription to antidepressants is only a Band-Aid solution that fails to address the underlying problem.
Research shows that high levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of inflammatory disease, have been documented in subjects with depression. In fact, results from a national health and nutrition examination survey showed that subjects with depressive symptoms had CRP levels that were 46 percent higher than those of non-depressed subjects. Studies also suggest that subjects with a depressed mood have low levels of fractional exhaled nitric oxide (FeNO), which is an indication of airway inflammation.
Over time, depression can also lead to significantly more inflammation in the brain. Inflammation is our body’s response to injury or illness, and when left untreated, it can cause chronic illnesses like heart disease and potentially even neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. So not only is identifying the cause of depression early on important for your mental health; it’s also for your physical health!
This is why visiting an integrative health clinic can be so crucial. Depression is a serious condition not to be taken lightly. There are a lot of possible influences and a 360-degree assessment is often required to effectively determine the cause. The first thing you need to ask yourself is “Why am I feeling depressed?” Then take it from there.
Ways to Treat Depression
For those with mild to moderate depression, there are a variety of natural options that can help fight the blues effectively, without pharmaceuticals.
- Sunshine & Exercise
It may sound trite to suggest a little fresh air and exercise; however, you can never underestimate the value of a brisk walk in the sunshine. Activity pumps up serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins, which are our “feel-good” chemicals. Go for a run to experience a truly natural “high.”
And don’t forget, the sun can lighten up your mood with feel-good rays of vitamin D. Invest in a therapeutic light box to brighten up those cloudy days and winter months.
- Create a Regular Bedtime Routine
Depression and sleep issues are intimately connected. For those who have trouble falling asleep, a nighttime routine can help ease you into a more restful slumber.
Set a regular bedtime and unplug from all devices at least two hours beforehand. Use that digital downtime time to take a bath, read a book, listen to music, meditate, or unwind in whatever low key way you prefer. By eliminating sources of constant stimulation and slowing down your evening habits, you will set your brain and body up for a better sleep. If you’ve been dealing with insomnia for a while, melatonin is also a helpful natural supplement to reset your internal clock.
Keep yourself on a consistent schedule by setting your alarm to go off after 8 hours. If you need a nap later in the day, then, by all means, take one, but try to resist the urge to sleep your life away.
- Natural Supplements
Serotonin is a vital chemical and neurotransmitter. It regulates our moods, behaviour, libido, sleep, and memory. Keep your serotonin levels elevated by getting your fill of healthy omega-3 fatty acids ─ the kind you find in fish, walnuts, chia seeds, flax seeds, and more.
L-theanine, an amino acid that has a relaxing effect. L-Theanine boosts neurotransmitters and helps to alleviate stress and anxiety.
Rhodiola rosea and St. John’s wort are other natural supplements that many individuals have had success with for treating depression. That said, St. John’s wort may interfere with birth control or other medications. This is why it is always important to get professional guidance on which supplements and what dose is likely to work best for you.
- Get Your Hormones Balanced
Our hormones have an impact on our entire bodies. They can be the reason behind depression, chronic fatigue, weight gain, and more. Think of your adrenal, sex and thyroid hormones as Jenga blocks. When certain blocks become imbalanced, it can send our whole life tumbling out of control. The longer you take to correct the imbalance, the more difficult it will be to heal. Getting your hormones tested is an easy and effective way to assess the issues so that you can effectively identify what your options are to get back into balance.
- Talk to someone
While you may feel vulnerable or uncomfortable at first, opening up to friends and family may be the relief you need to get through dark times without feeling so alone. If you don’t feel comfortable sharing your burdens with the people you know, then seek professional counselling, in the form of a therapist, life coach, or trusted doctor. They are there to help and can offer you a new perspective on things.
If you think you might be dealing with depression, I invite you to reach out to our clinic. Please feel free to book an appointment with us by calling (519) 954-7950 or emailing info@HealthSourceIMC.com. You don’t have to battle depression alone. We can help you get your life back on track!
The Team at HealthSource Integrative Medical Centre