Keep New Year’s Resolutions

 

woman thinking about fitness resolutions

7 Tips to Keep Your Fitness Resolutions in 2017

New Year’s resolutions date back to ancient Rome and the mythical King Janus, from whose name January derives. Janus became a symbol for resolutions because he had two faces and could look simultaneously back on the past and look forward to the future.  This January, look back on the past to see what you could do better, then look forward to a new and improved future.

Here are some pointers to help you keep your fitness resolutions in 2017:

  1. Set attainable goals and have realistic expectations.  If you’re new to exercise, planning to run a marathon may be a bit too ambitious.
  2. Find the sweet spot of balance between too much exercise and too little.  What that means is that you want to find the balance between where you get the benefits of exercise without overdoing and winding up injured or burning yourself out.
  3. Make a resolution along with a friend or spouse. Research shows that having someone you’re accountable to can almost triple your likelihood of sticking with exercise.
  4. One study showed that motivation to be physically active was higher when sports – instead of just exercise – were involved.  Sports can make exercise less like drudgery and more like fun. Plus there’s an added social benefit to team sports.
  5. Having a goal in mind helps.  For example, register for a 5 km run then train to achieve it or keep working on achieving your next belt in martial arts.
  6. Get the resources you need to achieve your goals, whether it’s a day planner, gym membership, group classes, fitness tracker app or a personal trainer to keep you in line.
  7. Establish a routine that you enjoy and stick to it.  Consistency is key with exercise.  If your work requires you to travel, do some kind of exercise that is portable like walking, running or stay in hotels that have a fitness room.

Prevent Colds

woman trying to prevent colds and flus

How to Prevent Colds and Flus

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

Looking to waltz through cold and flu season unscathed and prevent colds and flus?  Here are 5 tips to stay cold and flu free this year:

  1. Up your vitamin D intake.  This time of year you want to be taking more than your usual dose of vitamin D to make up for shorter days and very little exposed skin to sunlight. A trip south may also help increase your vitamin D but also help fend of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).  Personally, I can’t wait for March Break and some warmth and sunshine.
  2. Cut food sensitivities out of your diet.  How can your immune system fight off viruses if it’s busy fighting off your lunch?  If you know you have a dairy sensitivity, avoid dairy. Ok, well maybe after the holiday parties are over.
  3. Eat more ginger – Ginger helps protect against viruses by blocking viral attachment and internalization.  Ginger tea and curries are good ways to incorporate more ginger. There are lots of healthy ways to add some extra ginger to your diet on our recipe page: Gingerbread Cookie Tea, Apricot Ginger Chicken, and Ginger Pear Energy Bars are just a few.
  4. Reduce your intake of sugar sweetened beverages – pop, energy drinks, lattés, chocolate milk, fruit drinks, shakes, and anything else with added sugar. We know sugar suppresses the immune system for at least 3 hours after consumption.  Drink this Cinnamon Chai, Gingerbread Cookie Tea, or New Year’s Resolution Smoothie instead.
  5. Drink green tea. Green tea is the perfect immune system boosting drink. Green tea contains a substance called epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG. This substance can fight bacteria and prevent viruses from multiplying. Green Tea Cheesecake anyone?

Wanting more advice about how to prevent colds or flus, what to take or do if you get a cold or flu or what to do if you are feeling the first signs of a cold or flu?  See one of our licensed naturopathic doctors today.

Want to know when to see a doctor about a cold or flu?  Want to know what should be in your cold and flu prevention tool box? Download and save Dr. Pamela’s handy infographic here:

prevent colds and flu

 

Looking for even more information about colds and flus, natural remedies for colds and flus, tips to stay healthy, herbal remedies for colds and flus, quizzes and immune system assessments?  Purchase the full Cold and Flu ebook here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/595481

 

Massage Therapy Fitness

man having massage therapy for fitness

Massage Therapy for Improving Fitness

By Helen Harris-Bhavnani, RMT

Massage Improves Circulation

One of massage therapy’s many benefits is an increase in the body’s circulation. This occurs simply due to the mechanical massaging of muscles, blood and lymphatic vessels.  The blood gets “pushed” through the muscles and tissues and directed back toward the heart.  The lymphatic vessels help your muscles to repair and help to heal injuries.

It also helps (through this increased circulation) to maintain proper nutrition of your muscles. Your blood and lymphatic circulation helps to deliver nutrients, white blood cells and oxygen to your muscles. After exercising, your muscles need those nutrients and white blood cells in order to repair and grow as well as to maintain their health. Manual therapies are a great way to increase blood flow, which in turn delivers the nutrients and oxygen your body needs to help repair itself.

Massage Helps Post Workout Recovery

Your RMT can also help you to relax and rejuvenate after a work-out. Muscles that are well nourished and relaxed grow better, function better and are less prone to injuries that may threaten to derail your fitness regimen.  A 2016 study found that massage therapy was significantly more effective than no intervention on the post-race recovery from pain and perceived fatigue in long-distance triathlon athletes.  If it helps triathletes recover, it can help you too.

So get out there, get your body moving, and take care of yourself by seeing your RMT afterward.

Massage Research Sources:

Kojidi MM, Okhovatian F, Rahimi A, Baghban AA, Azimi H. Comparison Between the Effects of Passive and Active Soft Tissue Therapies on Latent Trigger Points of Upper Trapezius Muscle in Women: Single-Blind, Randomized Clinical Trial. J Chiropr Med. 2016 Dec;15(4):235-242. Epub 2016 Oct 11.

Emtiazy M, Abrishamkar M. The Effect of Massage Therapy on Children’s Learning Process: A Review. Iran J Med Sci. 2016 May;41(3 Suppl):S64.

Nunes GS, Bender PU, de Menezes FS, Yamashitafuji I, Vargas VZ, Wageck B. Massage therapy decreases pain and perceived fatigue after long-distance Ironman triathlon: a randomised trial. J Physiother. 2016 Apr;62(2):83-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jphys.2016.02.009. Epub 2016 Mar 23.

Do you have these Common Symptoms?

man wondering if symptoms are common or normal

Symptoms: Are You Common or Normal?

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

First some definitions:
Common: Occurring or happening regularly or frequently.
Normal: Healthy, not sick or ill.

Here’s why I’m making this distinction. I often have patients comment that “oh, I have to take Advil the first two days of my period every month, but that’s normal”. Or “I have a bowel movement every day or two, but that’s normal”. I would like to point out that, neither of the above is normal, common yes, but not normal. We commonly make assumptions about something that we’ve been living with for a long time or have always had, or our mothers always had, or our best friend has too, is “normal”. Sometimes we need to examine these assumptions in order to move forward and achieve better health. Here’s a brief list of some things that I find are common symptoms but not at all normal:

Common Symptoms
Constipation i.e. bowel movements less than 1-3 times per day
Headaches with change in weather, stress, PMS
Menstrual cramping
PMS
Hot flashes, night sweats, depression at menopause
Heartburn or the need to take antacids
Exhaustion when you get home from work
Cravings for salt and/or sugar
Up 1-3 times per night to the washroom
Back pain on waking

Normal
Bowel movements 1-3 times per day, every day, typically after eating
No headaches or excess muscle tension
Pain-free periods
Other than the date, no sign that your period is due
At menopause your periods just stop
No heartburn or antacids
Energy to be active in the evening until at least 8 p.m.
No food cravings
No night waking or need to urinate at night
Free and easy movement any time of day

I could go on, but you get the picture. As a society we make assumptions about what is normal based on what everyone has or does, but true health requires ongoing assessment of where we are at and where we would like to be and then making use of all the tools at our disposal to get there.

Craniosacral Therapy

woman relieving neck pain with craniosacral therapy

Craniosacral Therapy and Neck Pain

By Joy Walraven, TCMP, Acupuncturist, Craniosacral Therapist

Is your chronic neck pain cramping your style? Tired of getting relief for a day or two and then being right back where you started? Craniosacral therapy (CST) is likely the answer for you. According to recent research published in The Clinical Journal of Pain, 8 weekly treatments of craniosacral therapy significantly reduces neck pain, even three months after treatment is over. As a health practitioner, these kind of long-term results are what I want for everyone who comes to see me.

CST is a gentle, manual therapy that relieves restrictions in the head, spine, sacrum and fascia. Fascia is a web of tissue that connects all the parts of your body; it wraps around each of your bones, muscles, internal organs, nerves, and blood vessels and links them to each other. The web is designed to allow for smooth, gliding movement between all of these body structures. However, injury, inflammation, and scar tissue, among other things, can cause the fascia to become stuck together. This creates a ripple effect, where other parts of the web get pulled out of alignment and you have pain in multiple places. So, for example, you might start out with a shoulder injury, and end up with neck pain as well.

During a craniosacral treatment bones and fascia are slowly and subtly shifted in order to help the body to untwist and release areas of tension that are causing pain, stress, and dysfunction in the muscles, joints, and internal organs. The technique also enhances the flow of cerebrospinal fluid around the brain and spine, which optimizes the functioning of the central nervous system. In addition to pain reduction, people almost always report that they feel a greater sense of well being and deep relaxation after treatment.

Other conditions such as post-traumatic stress, post-surgical dysfunction, scar tissue, back pain, depression and anxiety, chronic headaches, and motor coordination impairment respond very favorably to craniosacral as well.

Craniosacral Therapy Research:

Clin J Pain. 2016 May;32(5):441-9. doi: 10.1097/AJP.0000000000000290.
Craniosacral Therapy for the Treatment of Chronic Neck Pain: A
Randomized Sham-controlled Trial.
Haller H1, Lauche R, Cramer H, Rampp T, Saha FJ, Ostermann T, Dobos G.
Author information
Abstract
OBJECTIVES:
With growing evidence for the effectiveness of craniosacral therapy (CST) for pain management, the efficacy of CST remains unclear. This study therefore aimed at investigating CST in comparison with sham treatment in chronic nonspecific neck pain patients.
MATERIALS AND METHODS:
A total of 54 blinded patients were randomized into either 8 weekly units of CST or light-touch sham treatment. Outcomes were assessed before and after treatment (week 8) and again 3 months later (week 20). The primary outcome was the pain intensity on a visual analog scale at week 8; secondary outcomes included pain on movement, pressure pain sensitivity, functional disability, health-related quality of life, well-being, anxiety, depression, stress perception, pain acceptance, body awareness, patients’ global impression of improvement, and safety.
RESULTS:
In comparison with sham, CST patients reported significant and clinically relevant effects on pain intensity at week 8 (-21 mm group difference; 95% confidence interval, -32.6 to -9.4; P=0.001; d=1.02) and at week 20 (-16.8 mm group difference; 95% confidence interval, -27.5 to -6.1; P=0.003; d=0.88). Minimal clinically important differences in pain
intensity at week 20 were reported by 78% within the CST group, whereas 48% even had substantial clinical benefit. Significant between-group differences at week 20 were also found for pain on movement, functional disability, physical quality of life, anxiety and patients’ global improvement. Pressure pain sensitivity and body awareness were significantly improved only at week 8. No serious adverse events were reported.
DISCUSSION:
CST was both specifically effective and safe in reducing neck pain intensity and may improve functional disability and the quality of life up to 3 months after intervention.

Hangover Remedy

picture of grilled asparagus as a hangover remedy?

What’s the Best Hangover Remedy?

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

As we’re coming up to the festive season and the libations flow, I thought it an opportune time to pass on this little hangover remedy tidbit.  I know that you personally would never overindulge but perhaps you could pass this on to your husband, brother, aunt who tends to overdo it during the holidays. 😉

A study found that asparagus is a great food for helping to cope with hangovers. We don’t generally think of vegetables as herbs, but Asparagus officinalis is an herb that is used in the treatment of several conditions.  One 2016 study, found obvious anti-tumor effects of one compound in asparagus (asparinin A) and another found that components of asparagus combat liver fibrosis.

The part of the plant that we usually consume is the young shoot, but the leaves of the asparagus plant can be eaten as well and are much higher in amino acids and inorganic minerals. A 2009 study found that the two key enzymes that increase the breakdown of alcohol are more than doubled after ingestion of an extract of asparagus shoots and leaves. That means that asparagus can be a safe, effective means of treating alcohol hangover and protecting the liver from other toxins too.

Post holiday party you should also drink lots of water to rehydrate and get your blood sugar stabilized by eating lots of veggies, including asparagus, good protein and healthy fats.

Sources:

Li XM, Cai JL, Wang L, Wang WX, Ai HL, Mao ZC. Two new phenolic compounds and antitumor activities of asparinin A from Asparagus officinalis. J Asian Nat Prod Res. 2016 Sep 13:1-8.

Zhong C, Jiang C, Xia X, Mu T, Wei L, Lou Y, Zhang X, Zhao Y, Bi X. Antihepatic Fibrosis Effect of Active Components Isolated from Green Asparagus (Asparagus officinalis L.) Involves the Inactivation of Hepatic Stellate Cells. J Agric Food Chem. 2015 Jul 8;63(26):6027-34. doi: 10.1021/acs.jafc.5b01490. Epub 2015 Jun 19.

Kim BY, Cui ZG, Lee SR, Kim SJ, Kang HK, Lee YK, Park DB. Effects of Asparagus officinalis extracts on liver cell toxicity and ethanol metabolism. J Food Sci. 2009 Sep;74(7):H204-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1750-3841.2009.01263.x.

Dry Skin

woman with dry skin

Healthier Skin from the Inside Out: Natural Solutions for Dry Skin

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

You’ve applied a ton of moisturizer and still you have dry skin? That’s because the health of your skin is determined by internal factors as well as external factors like cold, dry winter air. Maintaining healthy, soft skin means addressing the internal and external factors that affect your skin.

Water

Water moisturizes your skin from the inside out.  Every one of your skin cells is like a little bag of water.  If you don’t take in enough water, your skin cells may look more like dry, shriveled up raisins instead of plump, moist grapes.

EFA’s

The shell of  your skin cells is an oily layer that helps hold water in and selects what is allowed to enter and exit your cells. Taking in healthy fats, called essential fatty acids, helps build a healthy shell that keeps moisture in. Eating Omega 3 fatty acids from whole foods like eggs, nuts and seeds and fish are especially important when dry winter air hits.

Vitamin A, C & E

Because of their antioxidant value, vitamins A, C and E are important for healthy skin. The antioxidant effect helps fight free radicals and oxidative stress that can damage your skin. Topical vitamin C cream has also been shown to improve skin quality and fight aging.

Make it edible

I always recommend that you only use products on your skin that you would put in your belly. At least 25% of the chemicals that you apply to your skin are absorbed into your blood stream and the liver must then detoxify them and remove them. The chemicals in moisturizers can have unwanted estrogen like effects.  I like extra virgin organic coconut oil to protect my face and lips from winter’s dryness and wind because it’s edible (hello, it’s going on my lips!) and it has anti-inflammatory effects.

Exfoliation

Scrubbing your skin can damage it because it strips off protective oils that keep moisture in, creating redness and inflammation. Exfoliation also removes superficial layers of skin before the underneath layers are ready, exposing tender new skin cells to the elements before their time.  Gently cleaning your skin with a washcloth and water and following that with an edible moisturizer is more soothing and gentle on your skin.

Boost Metabolism

woman exercising to boost metabolism

Rev Up Your Engines! 3 Effective Ways to Boost Metabolism

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

Your metabolism dictates how quickly and efficiently you burn calories to use for fuel and maintaining your body temperature.  The higher your metabolism, the more calories you can consume in a day without gaining weight.  Many of the patients that I see, complain of a sluggish metabolism – they don’t feel like they overeat, they consume healthy food, exercise regularly and yet they gain weight easily.  Let’s take a look at three ways you can boost metabolism to help with weight loss.

Nourish Your Thyroid

Your thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland in your neck that regulates your metabolism.  Think of it like the gas pedal for your body.  A sluggish thyroid means a slow metabolism  In order to do it’s job, your thyroid needs iodine, zinc, selenium, copper and tyrosine to build thyroid hormones.

Our main food source of iodine is iodized salt.  As a public health measure, iodine was added to table salt as a means of gently supplementing everyone with a little extra iodine, to stave off underactive thyroids.  However, excessive salt intake is considered unhealthy, so people have either stopped using salt in food preparation or shifted to using sea salt instead.  Those of you strictly avoiding salt or using sea salt may not be getting the benefit of the iodine added to regular table salt. I recommend switching to iodized sea salt, which is readily available at most health food stores.

Selenium is a trace mineral that is vital to healthy thyroid function.  Brazil nuts are a rich food source and consuming as little as 3 Brazil nuts per day supplies plenty of selenium for your thyroid.

Zinc is found naturally in beef, pumpkin seeds, egg yolks and shellfish.

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, so protein rich foods like beans, eggs, nuts, seeds, beef, fish and chicken will supply the amino acid, tyrosine, that is also crucial to healthy thyroid function.

Restore Your Adrenals

The adrenal glands are your stress glands; they help your body cope in times of stress. They assist the thyroid hormone to function properly by enabling transfer of the hormone into the tissues where it works to increase metabolism. The adrenal glands need substantial amounts of vitamins B5, B6, C, potassium, magnesium and zinc especially while under
stress.

To nurture healthy adrenals:

  1. Eat lots of leafy green veggies like kale, spinach, Swiss chard and spring mix salad greens.  These are chock full of B vitamins, C, zinc, potassium, magnesium and zinc, everything that the adrenals need, all in one food.
  2. Get adequate rest and sleep.  Stop working by 8 p.m. and relax.  Aim to be in bed by 10 p.m..  The adrenals operate on a daily schedule that is regulated by daylight.  They peak in the morning and taper off to their lowest between 8 p.m. and 4 a.m..  Try to work with their schedule, not against it.
  3. Reduce your stress.  Easier said than done, but whatever you can do in this regard will help your adrenals and help to maintain a healthy cortisol level.  Excessive cortisol contributes to weight gain around your waist.  Stress reduction through psychotherapy, exercise, yoga, tai chi and massage therapy can all help if stress is the problem.

Exercise

Exercise can boost metabolism for up to 48 hours afterward, so get off the couch and walk briskly, dance, go on the treadmill, do something active for 30 minutes 5-7 times per week.  Exercise, but not to the point that you feel exhausted after, you should feel energized after exercise.  It’s also the best stress reliever there is.  Weight training and high intensity interval training (HIIT) are particularly good for building muscle mass.  Muscles burn more calories than non-muscle tissue, so muscle can boost metabolism even while you are sleeping.

Supplement Quality: What’s Really in Your Supplements?

smiling woman holding pill of high supplement quality

Supplement Quality: Do You Know What you are Taking?

At Forces of Nature we take the greatest care to source out only the purest, best and highest quality supplements to recommend to our patients.  Did you know that supplement companies are not required to test for aflatoxins (mold residue), heavy metals, pesticides or solvents? Few companies do and even fewer use quality labs or have the expertise to properly do this kind of testing with their in-house labs.

Did you know that as long as they don’t use the words “expiration date” on the label, a company is not required to make sure their product is stable until the “best by” date? Most companies simply make this date up. Almost no one actually does the testing and so many products won’t actually say “expiration date”.

Another problem is that companies are only required to test 1-4 components of a multi-ingredient product – which means that in a product with 15 ingredients, you are really only assured that 1-4 of them are actually there.

Supplement Quality According to Health Canada

In Canada, Health Canada requires natural health products (NHP’s) to have a natural product number (NPN).  The application process is lengthy, but the main information the manufacturer has to provide is:

  1. For each medicinal ingredient of the natural health product:

(i) its proper name and its common name,

(ii) its quantity per dosage unit,

(iii) its potency, if a representation relating to its potency is to be shown on any label of the natural health product,

(iv) a description of its source material, and

(v) a statement indicating whether it is synthetically manufactured;

2.  a qualitative list of the non-medicinal ingredients that are proposed for the natural health product and for each ingredient listed, a statement that indicates the purpose of the ingredient

3.  each brand name under which the natural health product is proposed to be sold;

4.  the recommended conditions of use for the natural health product;

5.  information that supports the safety and efficacy of the natural health product when it is used in accordance with the recommended conditions of use;

6.  the text of each label that is proposed to be used in conjunction with the natural health product;

7.  a copy of the specifications to which the natural health product will comply

None of these requires testing for  aflatoxins (mold residue), heavy metals, pesticides or solvents.

Does your supplement brand test their herbs for heavy metals, pesticides, solvent residues or active ingredients at the expiration date?  Our naturopathic doctors are supplement quality experts and only recommend brands that meet the highest standards for purity, freshness, efficacy, and potency.

Sources:
Shim WB, Kim K, Ofori JA, Chung YC, Chung DH. Occurrence of aflatoxins in herbal medicine distributed in South Korea. J Food Prot. 2012 Nov;75(11):1991-9. doi: 10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-12-190.

Genuis SJ, Schwalfenberg G, Siy AK, Rodushkin I. Toxic element contamination of natural health products and pharmaceutical preparations. PLoS One. 2012;7(11):e49676. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0049676.

Want to read more?  There’s a great graphic on the Thorne Research website here.

Pregnancy Back Pain

woman experiencing pregnancy back pain

Pregnancy Back Pain: Chiropractic Care Offers Safe & Effective Relief

A woman’s body undergoes numerous changes during pregnancy. One of the most pronounced of these is the shift in the location of her centre of gravity. This shift creates added stress on her spine leading to possible pregnancy back pain, muscle tension and headaches. Many women prefer not to take any form of pain killers while pregnant in which case chiropractic offers a safe alternative.

Chiropractic care helps to keep all of the joints in the body properly aligned and moving freely. This is especially important for pregnant women as the baby grows. Full movement in the pelvic joints allows sufficient room for the baby to assume the proper birthing position. Specific chiropractic adjustments help some breech babies move into proper position, allowing for a natural birth and avoiding a C-section.

Regular chiropractic adjustments restore normal joint movement, reduce muscle tension and allow your nervous system to function optimally. Chiropractic care during pregnancy cannot only help you stay more comfortable, but studies have shown that women who are under chiropractic care during pregnancy tend to have shorter, easier deliveries. First time moms averaged a 24% shorter labor and women who already had children averaged a 39% reduction in delivery time.

Chiropractic care after delivery is also a good idea. One Italian study showed that postpartum pain was relieved in 90 out of 120 patients who received chiropractic adjustments.

Healthy Back Tips for Moms and Dads

  1. Don’t bend from the waist when you lift your child. Bend at the knees and keep your back straight.
  2. Try to alternate the side that you carry your child on.
  3. Adjust stroller handles to an appropriate height so that you do not need to bend forward as you push.
  4. Adjust surface heights to a comfortable level. For example, if you are tall you may need to put something under the legs of the changing table.

Chiropractic care is a safe and gentle form of care to keep moms and moms-to-be as healthy and stress free as possible during this amazing time.