Best Dry Skin

woman wondering about best dry skin treatments

The Best Dry Skin Natural Remedies

By Dr. Pamela Frank, BSc(Hons), Naturopathic Doctor

Beautiful, healthy, glowing skin on your face and body – is there anyone who doesn’t want that? A balanced complexion isn’t just beautiful, it can also signify the state of your health, youthfulness, even your happiness or stress level. Of course, these messages are happening on a subconscious level, but they are so pervasively accepted, that taking care of your skin is a drive that has become a billion dollar industry – all working from the outside in, and not usually working as well as we are lead to believe.

Achieving truly healthy skin isn’t as simple as buying expensive, chemical-filled creams and committing to invasive procedures. In fact, the key to getting what you want on the outside isn’t on the outside at all! Getting the healthy happy skin you’ve always wanted starts by focusing on the inside out!

Our skin is our largest organ and its health is threatened all the time. Between exposure to the elements, stress, pollution, poor nutrition, dry air and of course, natural aging, our skin is constantly fighting for its health.

So how can we maintain healthy, glowing skin when the odds are stacked against us? By giving our skin the nourishment, attention and care it so rightly deserves.

5 of the Best Dry Skin Remedies for Healthier Skin Everywhere

Reduce inflammatory foods

Inflammation isn’t just the root of disease, it can also be the root of many skin ailments including acne, eczema, and psoriasis. Just as reducing inflammatory foods can positively affect your other systems, the effect of reducing inflammatory foods can be read on the surface of your skin! Try removing common inflammatory foods for at least 4 weeks to start to see an improvement in your skin’s health.

Remove these Inflammatory Foods (that make skin dry and flaky)

Best Dry Skin Foods that Fight Inflammation (to reduce skin redness and dryness)

Gluten

Wheat products

Dairy (particularly cow’s milk and cheeses)

Refined sugar

Processed foods and beverages

‘Junk’ food

‘Fast’ food

Dark, leafy greens

Tomatoes

Berries

Fatty fish

Olive, avocado, and coconut oil

Green Tea

Water

Probiotics

Increase your water intake

We know that water is essential to helping our bodies function best, but did you know that it is the best way to ensure that nutrients are delivered effectively, and toxins are flushed out? Especially if you’re experiencing dry skin conditions, it’s important to make sure that you’re helping your body to rid itself of toxic residues and inflammatory chemicals that could be causing these symptoms.

Start your day with a glass of water first thing and make sure that you’re getting enough hydration every day by eating and drinking adequate amounts.  Remember that there’s water present in everything you eat and drink, especially if you’re juicing or consuming lots of fruit and veggies.  Drink water whenever you feel a thirst coming on. In spite of the classic “Drink 8, 8-ounce glasses” per day advice, there’s really no magic amount of water everyone needs to consume per day to stay hydrated. But, new research suggests that women could safely consume a total of approximately 2.7 litres (91 ounces) of water from all beverages and foods each day and that men could safely drink about 3.7 litres (125 ounces) daily. 

Collagen

Collagen is what gives your skin support and firmness, and most of us are deficient in collagen! Daily collagen consumption will help to maintain internal collagen levels. Try bone broth soup made with a high collagen base like chicken feet, or add some hydrolyzed collagen powder in your smoothie!  Increasing your intake of vitamin C can help your body to make more collagen.

Hyaluronic Acid

As much as we can influence our skin health from the inside out, you can – and you should – also take care of your largest organ from the outside in too. That way you can meet in the middle, so to speak. Hyaluronic acid is an incredible hydrophilic (water-loving) chemical that is found naturally in our bodies, particularly in our eyes and joints. Its moisturizing, hydrating properties are why it’s so often used to treat arthritis, cataracts, and even dry eyes. Because of this, hyaluronic acid is also one of the best dry skin treatments. Here’s why:

As we age, our skin’s ability to preserve moisture slows down, and we start to lose firmness, elasticity, and fullness. Hyaluronic acid has an incredible ability to replenish the moisture we lose, helping skin to look and feel softer, smoother, and glowy because of is super hydration effects.

Because it’s one of the most studied and best dry skin ingredients, you can find many topical skin care products and anti-aging treatments that feature hyaluronic acid. Along with wearing a suitable SPF, topical hyaluronic acid is a fantastic way to heal your skin from the outside in while you increase your glowing health from the inside out.

Coconut Oil

Plain old coconut oil is one of our favourite moisturisers to reduce inflammation and help your skin retain moisture.  Plus it’s edible so you’re not introducing anything toxic into your system.

The Best Natural Skin Care Products

While it’s important to have a good skincare regimen, it’s also important to know what’s in the products you put on your face. Seek out quality ingredients that will enhance your health and not add a toxic burden to your system. We like organic skin care lines like Ilya, Eminence, and natural Canadian skincare brands like Buck Naked, and Living Libations. There are lots of good natural care products for your skin, please choose wisely. The Environmental Working Group website is a good resource for researching ingredients and their safety or toxicity.

Now that you’re ready to take care of your largest organ from the inside out and the outside in, there’s one more thing – and that’s enjoying the self-care process of maintaining beautiful, healthy skin! After all, skin care should be pampering as well as effective. Here’s one of our favourite DIY masks to help you on your journey to your most healthy skin:

Anti-Inflammatory, Anti-acne Mask to soothe redness and calm reactive skin:

1/4 cup whole grain oats

2 tablespoons warm water

1 teaspoon honey

Pinch ground turmeric

Blend together in a blender and spread on cleansed skin.  Leave on for 15-20 mins rinse off with warm and then cool water followed by a natural lotion or pure coconut oil.

To your good health,

The Team at Forces of Nature Wellness Clinic

Do you have a Leaky Gut?

woman suffering from leaky gut syndrome

What is Leaky Gut?  What Causes It and What Can You Do About It?

By Dr. Pamela Frank, BSc(Hons), Naturopathic Doctor

If you’ve been searching for the root of on-going health issues that just won’t go away, the kind where your doctor – and maybe even your second and third doctor – have tried everything in their arsenals but have come up with only prescriptions that ease symptoms but don’t solve the underlying problem, it’s easy to feel discouraged.

However, if you’ve been keeping up with some of our previous blog posts, you’ve started to realize just how important our digestive system and gut health are to our overall health. In fact, you might be wondering if the root cause of the ‘mysterious illnesses’ from which you or your family have been suffering could actually reside in the gut – and you could very well be right.

From hormone regulation to immunity to enzyme production that keeps the rest of our body in tip-top shape, we keep learning more about how critical gut health is to maintaining overall vitality. One condition we are starting to learn more about, and see a prevalence of, is Leaky Gut Syndrome.

What is Leaky Gut?

Leaky Gut is a condition that is linked to dozens of illnesses. Because Western medicine hasn’t yet learned enough about the gut to fully understand the immense and overarching influence it has on overall health, there are no conventionally recognized methods of diagnosing and treating Leaky Gut syndrome. Understandably, doctors try to resolve the more commonly recognized associated issues a sufferer might be experiencing (see below), without actually addressing Leaky Gut itself. Unfortunately, that often creates a ‘chicken and egg’ scenario, in which doctors treat complaints, but without knowing which illness is the root cause and which is the symptom.

Do you wonder if Leaky Gut might be affecting you? Or whether you should be concerned?

Leaky Gut is often called a ‘phenomenon’ because it covers issues that stem from immunity, gut function, and the effect of modern diets and lifestyles on both of these systems.

In fact, in Canada alone, more than 20 million people suffer from digestive disorders – and that doesn’t cover half of the symptoms associated with Leaky Gut! Because of this, it’s important to understand the broad-reaching effects that the Standard American Diet, chronically high-stress levels, toxin overload, and even bacterial imbalances can have on gut function – and that managing these four elements are the basis of healing your gut.

What symptoms are the symptoms of Leaky Gut?

  • Consistent gastrointestinal issues like bloating, gas, cramps
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • New food sensitivities
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Thyroid conditions
  • Inflammatory skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis

What is going on in a Leaky Gut?

While symptoms of Leaky Gut are broad and varied, they all have a common theme: that they occur from malfunctions of intestinal ‘tight junctions’ (TJs) in the small intestine.

Tight Junctions have one, very important job: to act as a barrier that selectively allows some particles – like vital nutrients – to pass through the intestines to the bloodstream and to make sure that other disease-causing particles – called xenobiotics – do not. Think about TJ’s as preventing holes in the intestine so there is no leaking of bad particles into your bloodstream!

When the TJs are in optimal condition, you and your gut can be in optimal health! When they are malfunctioning, creating intestinal hyperpermeability (holes), your body will respond with acute inflammation. If left untreated, this acute inflammation becomes chronic inflammation – the underlying cause of the majority of disease.

Diseases associated with a Leaky Gut

Diseases that have been associated with intestinal hyperpermeability are many, some of the most recognized include:

  • Bowel issues including gastric ulcers, infectious diarrhea, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and diseases like Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis
  • Celiac disease and other allergies
  • Acute inflammation conditions
  • Arthritis and chronic inflammatory conditions
  • Obesity and related metabolic diseases like fatty liver, Type I and Type II diabetes, and heart disease
  • Autoimmune disease including lupus, multiple sclerosis, and Type I diabetes
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome

While the concept of ‘intestinal permeability’ has been a conversation in the medical world for over 100 years, the symptoms of Leaky Gut are not unique to the syndrome and are shared with many other possible causes. So, many people’s symptoms go untreated by conventional doctors for months or even years. It’s understandably frustrating and disheartening when doctors are unable to help – both from their perspective as well as from the sufferer!

That’s why working with an integrative health team – one that partners your Western GP or gastroenterologist with naturopathic doctors – can be the most valuable step in taking the time and effort to properly investigate your symptoms.

How Can You Help a Leaky Gut?

Our naturopathic doctors can provide testing for Leaky Gut syndrome (zonulin testing) that can assist your whole health team in creating a holistic plan to get you back to optimal health.

Whether you suffer from Leaky Gut or want to protect yourself and your family from the possibility of it, you can get started by working on the four most important factors that contribute to Leaky Gut:

  1. Remove inflammatory foods and gut-damaging toxins

Common culprits of inflammation and toxins include grains, gluten, sugar, antibiotics, conventional cow milk or dairy products, GMOs, pesticides, and processed foods. Start by eliminating these from your diet and see how much relief you feel

  1. Add gut-healing foods

We’ve talked about prebiotics and probiotics before, but adding other nourishing foods like bone broth, simply steamed vegetables, fermented foods, raw cultured dairy, hormone-free and antibiotic-free animal products, and healthy fats

  1. Reduce stress

We can’t stress this enough! We live with so many competing priorities that we often don’t detect how stress is affecting us until it’s too late. Take time to turn off your brain, and tune into yourself with quiet time, sunny vitamin D filled walks, meditation, or yoga.

  1. Add gut-supporting supplements

Your naturopathic doctor is the best person to consult on the type and amount of supplements that would be best for you. Book an appointment to ask us about L-glutamine, probiotics, digestive enzymes, and plant-derived mineral supplements, all of which can contribute to establishing and maintaining a happy gut!

Yours in good health,

The Team at Forces of Nature Wellness Clinic

Sources:

Li X, Atkinson MA. The role for gut permeability in the pathogenesis of type 1 diabetes–a solid or leaky concept? Pediatr Diabetes. 2015 Nov;16(7):485-92. doi: 10.1111/pedi.12305. Epub 2015 Aug 13.

Gluten Free

picture saying get tested for gluten sensitivity before gluten-free diets

The Goods on Gluten-Free – Should You Try It?

One of the most talked about nutrition topics of the past couple of years has been whether or not gluten should have a place – or be forbidden – in our diets. Until recently, even the word ‘gluten’ would have been used almost exclusively in culinary, confectionary, and severe allergy professions alone. But, due to the recent increase in our understanding of gluten, its properties and health effects, the idea of going gluten-free has gained major popularity.  As an understandable result, this has left many people wondering whether or not gluten-free is the way to go in their own lives.

If you’ve been curious about going gluten-free, or if you’ve already experimented with gluten-free living, it’s important to have a good understanding of the basics so you can make informed decisions about the nutrition you and your family access.

What is gluten anyway?

Gluten is the name of a family of proteins found in wheat and wheat-related grains. Gluten itself is what enables foods made of grain flour ingredients to hold their shape. They act almost like ‘glue’ to give these foods texture and hold it together. It can be found in many foods, even where you might not expect it.

There are six big grains that are known as ‘glutinous grains.’ These include:

  1. Wheat (including wheat berries, durum, emmer, semolina, farina, farro, graham, and einkorn)
  2. Barley
  3. Rye
  4. Spelt
  5. Kamut
  6. Triticale

Things like bread and crackers, pastries, pasta, cereals, beer, soups and sauces (which could contain grains or flours as thickeners), brewer’s yeast, and food colouring are some foods and beverages that contain these grains and therefore naturally contain gluten.  Sometimes, gluten is also used in other foods to act as a binding agent to give texture and structure to other products.

Are most people allergic to gluten?

You may have heard that most people cannot tolerate gluten, or that grains today are different than the grains our ancestors used to eat. However, many studies have shown that in fact, grains and gluten are well-tolerated by the majority of people. That being said, there are three key groups of people who greatly benefit from removing gluten from their diets.

Celiac Disease Sufferers

Celiac disease, suffered by 1% of people, is a condition of the immune system in which eating gluten triggers an intestine-damaging response. Symptoms of celiac disease are serious and uncomfortable and include abdominal pain, skin rashes, headaches, diarrhea, vomiting, and even unexplained weight loss. In cases of celiac disease, it’s imperative for the individual to remove all sources of gluten from their diets.  Also, people with Celiac disease should remove gluten in the form of personal care items.  Some unlikely sources of gluten can include lipsticks and balms, body and hand creams, and cosmetics which could introduce trace amounts of gluten that would trigger a reaction.

Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity or Gluten Intolerance

While celiac disease is rare, the percent of people who suffer from non-celiac gluten sensitivity is unknown and triggers similar symptoms.  The most reliable method to assess for non-celiac gluten sensitivity or intolerance is through blood testing for IgG antibodies to gluten.

Those with Other Gut Disorders

There’s still a third group of people who also benefit from removing gluten – those who suffer from other gut-related illnesses such as IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis and who require a FODMAP diet. FODMAPs are a group of small carbohydrate molecules found in all kinds of foods. While they are extremely common, they may be poorly absorbed in the small intestine of some people with already compromised digestive functions. Taking out glutinous foods is a key way to relieve one of the strains on a weakened digestive system because it naturally removes the FODMAPs that cause them to begin with.

Symptoms of Gluten Intolerance or Sensitivity

If you experience any of the following symptoms, particularly after eating something that contains gluten, you may have a gluten intolerance:

  1. Bloating
  2. Gassiness
  3. Burping/belching
  4. Constipation
  5. Diarrhea
  6. Nausea
  7. Heartburn or Acid Reflux
  8. Fatigue
  9. Headache
  10. Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Colitis, Crohn’s)
  11. Autoimmune disorders
  12. Recurring infections

What do I need to know to go gluten-free?

Whole grains do contain a number of important nutrients, such as fiber, iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc, folate, niacin, riboflavin, vitamin B12, and vitamin D, and some protein. So when deciding to remove gluten-containing whole grains from your diet, be sure create a robust diet that can replace these, and/or take supplements to ensure that you don’t develop a deficiency.

Know too, that many gluten-free substitutes like cookies, brownies, and bread usually contain higher levels of fats, sugar, and salt than their conventional counterparts. If you crave the comfort of baked goods or cereals, we recommend creating your own gluten-free versions at home with almond flour or coconut flour for the healthiest alternative.

Also, if you intend to be tested at some point for gluten allergy or sensitivity, you need to be currently eating gluten to be accurately tested.  If you go gluten-free and feel fantastic, you may be reluctant to go back to eating gluten in order to get tested properly.

Foods that Contain Gluten

Aside from foods made from rye, wheat, spelt, kamut, barley and triticale, there are a number of other foods where you may unintentionally encounter gluten.  Watch out for soy sauce, imitation crab meat, soups, stews, sauces, sushi, Chinese food, breaded foods, bread, cookies, cakes, muffins, crackers, buns, crusts, pancakes, ice cream (think cookie dough!), desserts and many other flour containing products.  If you are serious about being gluten-free, you really have to read labels or prepare your own food.

Going gluten-free will take time, patience, and practice – we know, because we’ve helped dozens of families do it with success! Sometimes you don’t even realize how much gluten is affecting your system until you eliminate it. Check our Facebook page where we feature monthly gluten free recipes and you’ll find a few tried and true favourites to get you going.  There are also lots of gluten-free recipes on our website here.

If you suffer from symptoms such as constant stomach pain, headaches, bowel issues or other symptoms that could be related to gluten sensitivity, please book an appointment so we can properly test you for celiac disease. We want to make sure you’re living your healthiest life possible! If not, but you’d still like to explore the health benefits of removing gluten, we’d love to help you make a plan to get your health back on track by managing your gut health.

For more advice on going gluten-free, optimizing your diet or checking for food sensitivities like gluten, see one of our naturopathic doctors.   Book an appointment here or call us at 416-481-0222.

To your good health,

The team at Forces of Nature Wellness Clinic

Want a Fast Metabolism?

words tips to kickstart your metabolism for a fast metabolism

Want a Fast Metabolism? 10 Easy Tips to Kick Start Your Metabolism

By Dr. Pamela Frank, BSc (Hons), Naturopathic Doctor

Now that we’re through December and heavy, holiday foods have left us feeling bloated and sluggish, it’s time to figure out how to get back into the swing of things. If you’ve set New Year’s Intentions that include healthier eating and activity, then enabling a fast metabolism can help make the difference to living your intentions well.

Fast Metabolism Tips

These are some of our favourite ways to get your metabolism back into gear:

Stay Satiated

Even if you’re trying to lose a few extra pounds that appeared over the holidays, staying fairly full is key to your success in managing your metabolism and your weight. Eat slowly, until you’re about 90% full, and then stop. This will allow you to determine if you really do need more sustenance or if you’re just eating out of habit. Even if you’re aiming to reduce your caloric intake, starving will only make your metabolism slower.  Your body will try to store the limited energy it’s being provided – and that’s the opposite of our goal.

Commit to Breakfast

It’s not surprising that those who don’t eat breakfast actually tend to gain more weight over time. That’s because those who skip this meal tend to make up for it (and more) by overeating at lunch, snack times, and dinner. After a good night’s rest, your body is primed to accept the fuel it needs to move through the day. In fact, it needs more fuel because it has spent hours with your metabolism in resting mode! Try a breakfast that’s high in protein, and has some complex carbohydrates and a bit of fat to jumpstart your metabolism and keep you satisfied until lunchtime.

Up The H20

Whether via glasses of water, herbal teas or broth-based soups, giving your body quality fluids is essential to having a well-hydrated metabolism. Water helps keep nutrients flowing into your cells, carries toxins out of your body, and is key to a happy digestive system. It also keeps you feeling full, and can help you burn more calories by supporting a fast metabolism! Moreover, the extra nutrients found in broth-based soups are ‘soup-er’ ways of digesting much-needed vitamins and minerals with minimal taxing of your digestive system. And, after a season of indulgence, that’s something from which we can all benefit!

Add Tea or Coffee

The antioxidants and small amounts of caffeine found in black, green, and white tea, as well as coffee, support a fast metabolism and keeping it chugging along healthily. One cup per day can provide beneficial amounts without going overboard. And, even better, adding herbal teas such as fennel, mint, or ginger tea after a meal can assist your digestion processes, helping meals to settle better and digest more easily – without added caffeine.

Spice Is Extra Nice

Studies show that adding spicy hot peppers or hot pepper sauces can help to increase your metabolism! Studies are showing that the thermogenic properties of peppers and capsaicin, a compound in chiles, can temporarily increase your body temperature, helping it to burn more calories in short bursts of time. So, try adding some extra spice to those soups or other foods, and see what benefit you might derive!

Include Intervals

Any form of exercise can be bolstered by the addition of the short bursts of cardiovascular activity also known as ‘Interval Training’. Adding in 2-5 minute bursts of jumping jacks, skipping, vigorous dancing or burpees seem like they’re ‘in the moment’ kick starts but they’re all great ways of building long-lasting metabolism increases.  Personally, I have made a commitment to crank up my favourite song every hour and just dance!  It’s a great stress reliever and ups your heart rate and metabolism.

Dial Down Stress

It’s been long understood that high levels of stress hormones like cortisol can result in a slowed metabolism and eventual weight gain. The opposite is also true: by turning down the stress in our lives we can help our brains, hormones, and bodies relax, a natural reboot for our metabolism.

Stimulate Your Stomach

If you consistently experience symptoms like heaviness after a meal, acid reflux, or bloating, food allergies, undigested food in stool, flatulence, or even nausea after taking supplements you might be suffering from low stomach acid which, in turn, can result in lowered metabolism. Stomach acid, or HCL (hydrochloric acid) is a core requirement to digest effectively.  Good digestion is one of the essential building blocks of a fast metabolism. Try stimulating your stomach acid with beneficial celery juice and see how much better you feel.

Excel With Enzymes

Sometimes there are particular foods that make us feel sluggish, heavy, bloated, or uncomfortable. In that case, it might be time to consider digestive enzymes to help break down food to make it more digestible and the nutrients within it more absorbable. Try adding enzyme rich foods like fermented foods, papaya (which contains papain), pineapple (which contains bromelain), mango (which contains amylase), and honey (multiple enzymes). Interested in supplements instead? Look for the ones that help with your food difficulties: protease for proteins, amylase for help with carbohydrates, lipase for help digesting fats, cellulase for breaking down fibre, and maltase to help convert complex sugars from grains into glucose.

Sleep Soundly

The quality of your sleep doesn’t just affect your moods and alertness, it also has a profound effect on your metabolic state because deep REM sleep, is the body’s time for rest and repair – and that includes how the body manages stress hormones, blood sugar levels, and growth hormones – all of which play critical roles in a fast metabolism. We’re still learning much more about how important consistent sleep and rest are for our health, but what we do know for sure is that a sleep deprived body is slower and more lethargic which means weight management is harder. So if you choose just one of these tips to follow, make it to get more sleep, more often, first!

Looking for personalized assistance in maintaining a fast metabolism? Our naturopathic doctors can help you navigate this and provide you with a fully customized plan for your metabolism. To book your appointment call us at 416-481-0222 or email us at Info@ForcesofNature.ca.  Also you can book your own appointment online anytime at https://forcesofnature.janeapp.com/.

 

To your good health,

The Team at Forces of Nature Wellness Clinic

Research:

Sahin K, Orhan C, Tuzcu M, Sahin N, Ozdemir O, Juturu V. Ingested capsaicinoids can prevent low-fat-high-carbohydrate diet and high-fat diet-induced obesity by regulating the NADPH oxidase and Nrf2 pathways. J Inflamm Res. 2017 Nov 13;10:161-168. doi: 10.2147/JIR.S149087. eCollection 2017.

Vitamin A: Rabbits Have it Right

picture of vitamin A food sources

What is Vitamin A?

It is the name used to refer to several fat-soluble vitamers such as retinol, retinal and four carotenoids (pro-vitamin A) including beta-carotene. These carotenoids are plant pigments that give plants red, yellow and orange colors.  There are some 600 different carotenoids, the most common and well understood are alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein, zeaxanthin and lycopene.

What foods are rich in Vitamin A?

Carotenoids (or building blocks) are found in foods such as:

  • Carrots
  • Dark, leafy green vegetables such as spinach, kale, mustard greens, etc.
  • Butternut squash
  • Apricots
  • Cantaloupe
  • Sweet potato
  • Pumpkin

In order to ingest actual, pre-formed vitamin A you could consume:

  • Turkey or chicken liver
  • Cod liver oil
  • Salmon
  • Eggs

What Does Vitamin A Do?

It is required for the proper development and functioning of the eyes, skin, immune system and mucous membranes.  Mucous membranes are the tissue that lines the entire digestive tract, the respiratory tract, and vagina.

What is Vitamin A Good For? What are the Benefits of it?

It is beneficial for the following:

  • Improving vision and treating eye disorders
  • Treat or improve skin conditions including acne
  • Treat acute infections
  • Women often take it to help with heavy menstrual periods, PMS, cervical dysplasia or to prevent breast cancer
  • Men can take it to raise sperm count
  • Boosting the immune system
  • Protecting the heart and cardiovascular system
  • Promoting healthy bone growth
  • Slowing the aging process

What are the Signs of Low Vitamin A?

The following signs and symptoms may indicate a need for more vitamin A:

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Weight loss
  • Dry eyes
  • Poor vision at night or in dim light
  • Skin scaling
  • Brittle fingernails and hair
  • Respiratory infections
  • Urinary tract infections

How Much Do I Need?

The average multivitamin has about 1000 IU of pre-formed vitamin A and about 3000 IU of beta-carotene.  Depending on the particular health condition, we may choose to supplement anywhere from 10 000 IU to 50 000 IU per day for short periods of time, up to 3 months.  Because of the risk of toxicity, supplementation other than through a multivitamin should only be done under the supervision of a naturopathic doctor and should never be done while pregnant, breastfeeding or trying to conceive.

Can You Overdose on Vitamin A?

Yes.  It is a fat-soluble vitamin, which means that it can be stored in fat tissue in your body.  Too much can cause toxicity symptoms such as:

  • Hair loss
  • Confusion
  • Liver damage
  • Bone loss
  • Hemorrhage
  • Coma and even death

For herb, vitamin and supplement advice, please schedule a consultation with one of our naturopathic doctors.

No More Resolutions

picture saying no more resolutions

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

By Dr. Pamela Frank, BSc, ND

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 measurable 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 distil 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 outside or 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!

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 Forces of Nature Wellness Clinic:

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

References:

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

Healthy Tips

picture top tips to stay healthy

Healthy Holiday Guide for Mind, Body, and Spirit

By Dr. Pamela Frank, BSc, ND

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, the 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 healthy tips on how to manage all of the extra demands being made is critical to being able to relax, have fun, and truly be present this holiday season.

Body

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

The 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 emollient hand cream to keep your skin moisturized and free of harmful dryness and cracks.

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.

Be food aware, choose wisely.

Holiday foods tend 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, and digestion issues.

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 their 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

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!

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 for others 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.

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

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!

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 real happiness starts with you every single day.

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.

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 our practice to you and your family, we wish you all the best for a healthy and happy holiday season and a wonderful New Year.

happy holidays

 

How to Drink More Water

picture of a man trying to drink more water

5 Ways to Drink More Water

By Dr. Pamela Frank, BSc (Hons), ND

Commonly heard phrases at Forces of Nature:

“I know I need to drink more water!”

“I know I don’t drink enough water”

“I’m terrible at drinking water”

Why don’t we drink more water?

Here are some of the reasons given:

  1. Then I have to pee too often
  2. There won’t be a washroom nearby
  3. I don’t have water with me
  4. I can’t drink tap water
  5. I never get thirsty
  6. I don’t like the taste of plain water

While we can’t make a washroom be nearby when you need one, but we can help with most of the rest.

Why Do We Need to Drink More Water?

Dehydration can cause every system in your body to work at less than it’s full capacity. Your brain doesn’t work well, your joints and muscles aren’t well lubricated, skin cells aren’t as plump and full, your stool is drier and harder causing constipation, your kidneys can’t flush waste effectively, toxins build up in your body, your metabolism slows down and so on.

What Are the Benefits of Drinking Water?

  1. Your brain works better when it’s well hydrated.
  2. Your joints have more cushioning.  Did you know that the discs that cushion the ones of your spine are 80-90% water?
  3. Your muscles function better.
  4. Your skin looks plumper and less dry.
  5. Your stool is softer and easier to pass.
  6. Your kidneys can remove toxins from your system more efficiently.
  7. Your metabolism works better.

Six Solutions to Common Water Conundrums

  1. Drink more water for a week. The initial frequent trips to the bathroom often subside once your body becomes accustomed to regular water/fluid intake.
  2. Plan your water intake.  You should be fine to have a couple of glasses of water as you are going out the door in the morning on your way to work.  By the time you get to work you may need to use the facilities.  During the day when you’re at the office should be fine, then in anticipation of the commute home, you may want to cut off water an hour before you leave and use the facilities before you go home regardless of whether you feel you need to.
  3. Invest in a good water bottle.  I’m not a fan of plastic water bottles.  I think that regardless of the type of plastic, some plastic chemicals end up in your water and also the bottles themselves are an environmental nightmare. A good stainless steel or glass water bottle is a good investment and if you take it with you it allows regular access to good water.
  4. Tap water or dehydration? Despite everything we hear about tap water, I think it’s still better to drink that than to be dehydrated.
  5. Start your day with water.  For those who don’t get thirsty, your poor body may have given up on you providing it with water. Start the day with 2 cups of water.  Most people tell me that they then feel more thirsty throughout the day, so they don’t have to “force” themselves to drink.
  6. Read my tips below to make water more appealing.

Five ways to make it more interesting and enticing so you drink more water:

  1. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon, lime or orange into it.
  2. Slice some citrus up and add it to a pitcher of water, along with a few crushed mint leaves.
  3. Make iced herbal teas. Raspberry, peach, mint, lemon balm, green tea and strawberry all make cool, refreshing drinks for a hot day and don’t require any added sugar.
  4. Use unsweetened juice to make ice cubes, then pop one in a glass of water to keep your water cold and add a bit of fruit flavor to it.
  5. Add cucumber or melon slices to a pitcher of water for cool, refreshing water.

If you’re looking for more ways to optimize your diet or health, see one of our naturopathic doctors.  If you’re looking to optimize your overall health, consider incorporating acupuncture, Traditional Chinese Medicine, chiropractic, massage therapy or psychotherapy to your health plan.

Hormones: Common Symptoms

picture of glands that produce hormones

Are your Hormones the Cause of your Health Issues?

Have you been experiencing nagging symptoms, affecting your daily life that you just can’t shake? It may be that the balance (or imbalance) of your hormones is the culprit.

Often we think of hormones as only being related to sexual function, but the truth is that a variety of hormones govern all of our body’s functions in some way or another because of the interplay of messages they relay to the body through the glands that produce them.

If you thought that the only hormones we have are estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone, well, you’d be in a majority. In actuality, a number of other chemicals that we talk about all the time at Forces of Nature are also hormones and have a lot to say in helping our bodies to experience optimal health.

There are several hormones that, depending on their current balance, most readily affect your overall health.

Some common symptoms and their hormones:

Our hormones are like an orchestra.  They play together to synchronize and harmonize our beings to create optimal health patterns throughout the day and night. Their job is to keep us healthy and balanced, physically and emotionally. Sometimes, our modern lifestyle creates habits and workloads that can disrupt our body’s natural ability to control and balance our hormones.

So, when we start to exhibit symptoms that just won’t go away, such as long-term anxiety or stress, brain fog, sleep or weight management issues, mood swings, and long-term shifts in libido, investigating and caring for the glands that produce our hormones could address and solve the root of the problem.

Symptom Glands Associated Hormones
Adult Acne/Cystic Acne Ovaries

Testes

Estrogen and Androgens (Testosterone, DHT, DHEAs, Androstenedione)
Anxiety/Stress Adrenals Epinephrine/Adrenaline, Norepinephrine, Glucocorticoids, Mineralocorticoids,  Cortisol, Cortisone
Concentration Issues/Brain Fog Pineal, Enterochromaffin Cells in the Gastrointestinal Tract, Hypothalamus, Pituitary, Thyroid, Ovaries, Testes Melatonin, Serotonin, Dopamine, Epinephrine, Norepinephrine, Estrogen, Testosterone, T4/T3
Digestive Issues Thyroid, Pancreas  

Thyroxine (T4), T3, Insulin

 

Libido Adrenals, Testes, Ovaries Estrogen, Progesterone, Testosterone, DHEAs, DHT
Mood Swings Pituitary, Enterochromaffin Cells in Gastrointestinal Tract, Ovaries, Testes Endorphins, Serotonin, Dopamine, Estrogen, Testosterone, DHEAs, DHT
Sleep Issues/Insomnia Pineal, Adrenals Melatonin, Epinephrine, Norepinephrine, Aldosterone, Cortisol, Cortisone
Weight Maintenance  

Adrenals, Adipose tissue, Pancreas

 

Cortisol, DHEA/DHEAs (as a precursor to Estrogen and Testosterone), Leptin, Insulin

How you can help your hormones

Your General Practitioner will have many suggestions to help treat the symptoms you’re experiencing.  But working with your whole health team including our integrative medicine practitioners (naturopathic doctors, chiropractor, acupuncturist, massage therapists & psychotherapist) will yield the greatest benefits because the therapies can complement each other.

For example, your GP might prescribe antidepressants or sleep aids to help manage your symptoms and ‘get you over the hump’ and on your way to recovery. Our Naturopathic and Integrative Health Practitioners will work on utilizing nutrition, supplements, stress reduction, exercise, lifestyle changes, acupuncture, massage and herbs to get at the root cause of the problems you’re experiencing and get your hormones back into balance.

Naturopathic medicine looks extensively at the whole body to determine what is causing your problem.  We often uncover a myriad of issues that all work together to create the person’s current health condition. Hormones often play a role but we also must uncover why they are imbalanced.

What Causes Hormones to Become Imbalanced?

There are a number of factors that may cause or contribute to hormone imbalance:

  • Chronic stress
  • Nutrient deficiencies – particularly vitamins B5 & B6, magnesium, zinc, L-5MHF (active folic acid) and vitamin B12
  • Poor diet – diets high in carbs and sugar provoke the need for plenty of insulin that then creates hormone imbalance
  • Lifestyle – lack of exercise, lack of sleep, working long hours, lack of exposure to sunlight, exposure to artificial light in the evening
  • Environmental pollutants – BPA from plastic, dioxin, PCB’s etc are all endocrine disruptors

How can we help your hormonal imbalance?

Once you’ve had a chance to share with your naturopathic doctor or integrative health practitioner the series of symptoms, situations, and concerns you’ve been experiencing, we can then start putting the pieces together to outline the best options for treatment just for you.

The first set of treatment and care options that your healthcare team will look at are nutrient deficiencies and habit patterns. It’s amazing how many maladies can be remedied when we have greater focus and dedication to providing our bodies with the right nutrition, nutrients, hydration, stress management, exercise, and adequate sleep.

The next set of options could be supplements and herbs. When you’ve begun to line up a more healthy routine of nutrition, exercise, and sleep, supplementation of key nutrients, minerals and herbs could yield even greater results. We have many tools in our toolbox to help get you on the right path to a balanced system, which in turn means a balanced life!

We’re here to help you. If you’re experiencing symptoms that you just can’t beat, it’s a good time to call us to investigate your hormones and provide you with a pathway to health. Our door is always open and your road to optimal health is just a phone call (416-481-0222) or email away.

Hormones Research

Schwartz DH, Romans SE, Meiyappan S, De Souza MJ, Einstein G. The role of ovarian steroid hormones in mood. Horm Behav. 2012 Sep;62(4):448-54. doi: 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2012.08.001. Epub 2012 Aug 8.

 

Boost Your Immune System

woman with a weak immune system

Boosting Your Immune System: The Most Unexpected Way to Beat Cold Season

There are lots of seasonal changes that mark the start of cold and flu season. The season where we need to focus on maintaining a strong immune system. There is a natural response to this change of season to change our diets to include more hearty root vegetables and satisfying ‘stick to your ribs’ meals.  Our focus moves inward to indoor activities. We bundle up to go out to enjoy the cool weather wearing warm scarves, hats, and warm socks to cover our vulnerable spots!

We take all kinds of precautions to avoid colds and flus. Because really, no-one wants to lay around with no energy, missing work and fun. Or endure the coughing, sneezing, sniffling, feverish annoyances that come with getting sick.

But what effect, if any, do these activities and changes have on safeguarding your immune system from the cold and flu viruses during cold weather months?

They’re all important, but it turns out that the most important thing you can do to boost your immune system comes from nourishing your gut!

What Does Your Gut Have to do with Your Immune System?

Believe it or not, your ability to combat viruses and bacteria are directly affected by your nutrition. So what better time than the start of cold and flu season to start building up a healthy meal plan for you and your family?

According to an Australian study, about 70-80% of your body’s immunity lives in your gut.

Wow! We know the expression “Mind over Matter” but in this case, it’s really “Gut over Matter”. The better care we take of our gut health, the more likely we will be to fortify our immune system and stave off potential sickness this season.

There are areas all along your small intestine called “Peyer’s Patches”. These are responsible for building up your immune system and developing the antibodies that fight off disease. These Peyer’s Patches also help to regulate good and bad gut flora which are the bacteria we house to maintain our health. You can see already why it’s so important to take good care of our gut to protect ourselves from illness!

So what can you do to build up your immunity this Fall and Winter? It can be as simple as adding a few of these into your diet every day:

Immune System Enhancing Foods:

Perhaps the most important nutrient for fighting off viruses and bacteria is zinc! This mineral is abundant and is easily found in multiple food sources including:

  • Red meat
  • Poultry
  • Oysters
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Egg yolks
  • Beans and nuts

If you choose to add supplements to your diet, it’s best to take them with a good amount of food to avoid stomach irritation. Zinc lozenges can provide immense relief from cold symptoms too, sometimes reducing the duration of your viral infection by 50%!

Too much zinc can, in fact, be too much of a good thing and can cause adverse effects particularly in pregnant women, those with zinc allergies, and those with HIV. If you are an existing patient, please give us a call if you’re considering increasing your zinc intake and we’ll be happy to consult with you on your ideal dose. If you are not an existing patient, we are legally required to see you in person and perform a full first assessment before we are allowed to provide any advice.

Other well-known immunity-boosting foods to add to your recipes this season include garlic, onions, mushrooms, and raw, unpasteurized honey.

Anti-Inflammatory Foods:

Foods that fight inflammation keep our tissues in virus-fighting shape. By choosing to eat plenty of these, you can help your immune system keep all kinds of infections at bay.  This can even help to calm down any inflammation that might be teetering on the brink of flaring up.  Inflamed tissue is weak and provides an easy entry for bacteria and viruses to cause infection.

Try omega-3 rich anti-inflammatory foods like:

  • Salmon
  • Tuna
  • Halibut
  • Herring
  • Mackerel
  • Oysters
  • Sardines
  • Trout

Leafy greens, berries, turmeric and green tea are known for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, so be sure to include plenty of these too!

It’s easy to add these foods into your everyday menus in any meal of the day.

For breakfast, try oatmeal + flaxseed porridge sprinkled with walnuts, cinnamon and blueberries to get a boost of immunity-enhancing and anti-inflammatory foods at the start of your day.

A mug of green tea instead of coffee is a great way to warm up to the day ahead…

For lunch, how about sliced grilled chicken with sauteed spinach and mushrooms with some fresh garlic?

Or for dinner, why not baked salmon fillets with a red pepper stuffed with brown rice and broccoli florets?

And to wind down, try a mug of golden milk, chalk full of antioxidants! Check out our facebook page for our favourite recipe.

Other Immune System Measures:

Reduce Sugar:

While the relationship between sugar and viral/bacterial illness is still largely unknown, we do know that overconsumption of sugar has negative effects on gut health. For that reason, reducing your intake of sugar particularly during cold and flu season is a good idea because it will allow all of the positive steps you’re taking towards better gut health and immunity to shine through!

Probiotics:

Taking a good probiotic is always a good idea, no matter what the season! But, it’s particularly important at this time of year when environmental changes and an increase of viruses and bacteria require us to be more vigilant about protecting our gut health. Remember too, that antibiotics can be necessary to cure some forms of infection, but a side effect is always reduced healthy gut flora. To combat this, remember that if you or a loved one does require antibiotics, to follow the prescribed course with a course of probiotics to bring your gut flora back up to tip-top shape.

So, this cold and flu season, keep up with your warm woolly knits, your cosy nesting habits, and your enjoyment of Fall’s outdoor activities! But remember to add the most unexpected way of beating cold and flu season – by upping how you nourish your gut!

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 or shoot us an email! Our door is always open and your road to optimal health is just a phone call or email away.

Immune System Research:

1) Wu, E., and Wu, HJ (2012). The role of microbiota in immune homeostasis and autoimmunity. Gut Microbes 3 (1): 4-14.