Sleep: Too Much of a Good Thing?

Woman can't sleep due to insomnia

Can You Sleep Too Much?

A good night’s sleep is essential for health. But oversleeping has been linked to a host of medical problems, including:

Diabetes:People who sleep less than 5 hours per night or more than nine hours each night have a 50 percent greater risk of diabetes than people who sleep seven hours per night.

Obesity:One recent study showed that people who slept for 9 or 10 hours every night were 21 percent more likely to become obese over a six-year period.

Headaches:Sleeping longer than usual can cause head pain. Researchers believe this is due to the effect oversleeping has on certain neurotransmitters in the brain, including serotonin.

Back pain: No more lying in bed if your back hurts and make sure your mattress is in good shape.

Depression:Roughly 15 percent of people with depression sleep too much. This may in turn make their depression worse, because regular sleep habits are important to the recovery process.

Heart disease:The Nurses’ Health Study, which involved nearly 72,000 women, showed that women who slept nine to 11hours per night were 38 percent more likely to have coronary heart disease.

Death: Multiple studies have found that people who sleep nine or more hours per night have significantly higher death rates. No specific reason for this correlation has been determined.

So be sure to get your zzzzzz’s, but not too much!

Pigging Out Provokes Inflammation

Woman overeating causing inflammation

Can You Reduce Inflammation by Eating Less?  Yes!

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

Overeating can make your brain go haywire, prompting a cascade of damage that may lead to inflammation and subsequently diabetes, heart disease and other ills.

Eating too much activates a normally dormant immune system pathway in your brain, which sends out immune cells to attack and destroy invaders that are not there. This finding could help explain why obesity causes or contributes to so many different diseases.

Studies that have shown that obesity causes chronic inflammation throughout the body. This inflammation is found in a range of diseases related to obesity, including heart disease and diabetes.

Suffering from chronic pain and inflammation? Maybe you need to look at your portion sizes.

4 Tricks to Reduce Portion Sizes

  1.  Use smaller plates
  2. Keep serving dishes off the dinner table
  3. Drink 2 glasses of water before each meal
  4. Start your meal with a bowl of soup

Raw Honey vs Antibiotics

bee on a calendula flower collecting pollen to make raw honey

Raw Honey Beats Antibiotics – Yes Please!

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

Ottawa University researchers found that certain types of honey kill bacteria that cause sinus infections, in most cases better than antibiotics.

The researchers have tested raw Manuka honey from New Zealand, and raw Sidr honey from Yemen. The two killed all floating bacteria in liquid, and 63-91 percent of biofilms — microorganisms that sometimes form a protective layer in sinus cavities, urinary tracts, catheters and heart valves, protecting bacteria from normal drug treatments and often leading to chronic infections. I have often recommended raw honey to help kill off Helicobacter pylori, the bacteria responsible for stomach ulcers.

The most effective antibiotic, rifampin, killed just 18 percent of the biofilm samples in the tests.

NOTE: Raw honey should never be given to children under the age of 1 due to their increased risk of contracting botulism.

You may want to check here to make sure your honey is good quality, there have been issues with honey imported from China and with overly processed honey:

http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2011/11/tests-show-most-store-honey-isnt-honey/#.VkT0U3arS70

If you’re looking for other alternatives to antibiotics, we have many natural treatment options to fight infection and prevent recurrence.  See one of our naturopathic doctors.

Afraid of Germs?

germs like bacteria and viruses are everywhere

Germaphobes – Look Away Now

As we roll into cold and flu season, did you know that many of the surfaces and objects you come in contact with every day are covered in bacteria and viruses?

Here are a few of the worst culprits:

Purses and Wallets

Purses pick up the bacteria from wherever they’re placed — from the soiled ground to the bathroom floor. Wallets pick up bacteria from what goes into them.

Remote Controls

If you’re lucky, different people get to handle the remote controls.

Laundry Machines

There is about 0.1 gram of fecal material in a piece of underwear.(Yuck!)That amounts to approximately 100 million E. coli bacteria in an average undergarment load.

Cutting Boards

There are 200 times more fecal bacteria on a cutting board than a toilet seat.(Double Yuck!) The reason is that many people rinse off their cutting board rather than thoroughly washing it.

Your Phone

The telephone provides a convenient meeting place for two different sources of germs — your hands and your mouth.

Water Fountains

The moist surface area on the average water fountain is an ideal breeding ground for bacteria and viruses.

Buttons

The buttons found on ATMs, elevators, telephones and drink machines are located in areas that are not often cleaned and disinfected to kill bacteria and viruses.

Yoga Mats

Sweat and microbes can cover an exercise mat during a workout. This may not be a problem if the mat was cleaned and disinfected before and after each use. But if the mats are not cleaned, germs can linger for days.

Airplane Bathroom

Airplane bathrooms get cleaned, but the high volume of people they must cater to in a short amount of time leaves them very dirty very quickly.

Shopping Carts

One test found E. coli on almost half the shopping carts examined.These microbes are transferred from the cart to your hands, to the food you select and then to your face if your hands touch it.

Most of these micro-organisms shouldn’t instil fear, however, on the contrary, regular contact with low levels of non-disease causing organisms can help keep your immune system working normally.  The hygiene hypothesis of allergies, suggests that lack of exposure to bacteria due to being too clean is what is causing a rise in allergies.  Keeping your immune system healthy with good food, low stress, healthy sleep and select vitamins and minerals means that you can touch all the shopping carts you want with confidence.

By Dr. Pamela Frank, BSc (Hons), ND. For help with maintaining a healthy immune system to defect any of these bacteria as well as cold and flu viruses, talk to one of our naturopathic doctors.  Call us at 416-481-0222 or book online now.

Swiss Ch…

swiss chard

Swiss Ch…Fill in the Blank

With Halloween just behind us, you thought I was going to talk about Swiss Chocolate didn’t you? Sorry to disappoint, but this week it’s about Swiss Chard – yummy!  With kale getting all the glory lately, this more delicious (IMHO) leafy green is taking a back seat.

I’m always touting the benefits of dark, green leafy vegetables like Swiss chard. It’s essentially a beet, but it’s grown for the green leafy top. It’s low calorie, no fat, high in fibre, iron, magnesium and calcium as well as lutein which is good for eyesight. Chard is also good for beta carotene and vitamin C.

You can make low carb, gluten free tortillas by using the leaves in place of tortillas for wraps. You can also chop it up and sprinkle it in a salad uncooked. Or you can steam it and squeeze a lemon over it to help with iron absorption. Keep it loose or in a paper bag in the fridge for a couple of days.

There’s a recipe for Crispy Kidney Beans & Swiss Chard in our healthy recipes section on our website to check it out click here.

Are You Getting Enough Iodine?

picture of a thyroid gland

Iodine, Thyroid and Pregnancy

Research shows that women from iodine-deficient areas should use iodized salt for at least 2 years before becoming pregnant to prevent thyroid problems during pregnancy and to protect the fetus against the harmful effect of iodine deficiency on brain development.

The thyroid gland, a butterfly-shaped organ in the neck and a key part of the endocrine system, produces hormones and helps regulate the body’s metabolism.

There is an increased risk of neurological development problems in infants born to mothers who had low levels of thyroid hormone in early pregnancy. Even mild isolated thyroid problems can interfere with fetal brain development.

Researchers found that the rate of thyroid failure was nearly 6 times higher in short-term users of iodized salt compared with long-term users.

In the clinic, I often see people whose concerns include low energy, sluggish metabolism, can’t lose weight or gain weight easily, hard to get out of bed in the morning, thinning hair and feeling cold even in the summer. While there are many possible explanations, low thyroid function could be one reason for these symptoms. I will often ask if they are consuming iodized salt. Sea salt, while it’s healthier than regular table salt, is often NOT iodized. Supplementing salt with iodine was a public health initiative designed to top up everyone’s iodine intake in areas where the soil is particularly iodine deficient. Those on salt restricted diets or who are using salt that is not iodized, run the risk of an iodine deficiency. My recommendation is to ensure that everyone is using a little iodized sea salt each day or you can also get iodine naturally by consuming seaweed like kelp, wakame or bladderwrack.

There are several other nutrients that are essential for healthy thyroid function, including copper, zinc, selenium and tyrosine.  Supporting these nutrients can sometimes turn around an underactive thyroid, but more often than not, a sluggish thyroid is due to Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune thyroid problem.  Treating that successfully is a whole other, bigger kettle of fish!

Warning:  Too much iodine can also be bad for your thyroid, so only supplement with iodine under the supervision of a naturopathic doctor. 

To increase your iodine intake there’s a new recipe for seaweed salad in the healthy recipes section on our website to check it out click here.

Heart Disease in a Can

can of red bull like energy drink

Why You Should Avoid These “Energy” Drinks

I know that none of my dear readers would ever drink it, but maybe someone you know indulges in the occasional can of an “energy” (caffeine and sugar) drink.

In 2008, Australian medical researchers found that just one can of such beverages can increase the risk of heart attack or stroke, even in young healthy people.

The caffeine-loaded beverage causes the blood to become sticky, a precursor to cardiovascular problems such as stroke.

One hour after they drank a well known energy drink, the study participants’ blood systems were no longer normal. They were abnormal like you would expect in a patient with cardiovascular disease.

This particular drink is banned in Norway, Uruguay and Denmark because of health risks listed on its cans. One can contains 80mg of caffeine, around the same as a normal cup of brewed coffee.

Researchers concluded that this drink could be deadly when combined with stress or high blood pressure, impairing proper blood vessel function and possibly elevating the risk of blood clotting.

There’s a recipe for caffeine-free chai tea in our healthy recipes section on our website to
check it out click here.

Source: Reuters, Aug 18 2008

by Dr. Pamela Frank, BSc(Hons), ND.  For heart disease prevention and health promotion, our naturopathic doctors can provide guidance as to what to have and what to avoid.  Call us at 416-481-0222 or book online now.

Why is a Food Journal Important

woman writing in a food journal

Why Keep a Diet Diary?

One of the more “painful” things everyone does when they first come and see me is fill in a one week diet diary or food journal detailing everything they put in their mouth for that one week. They often return with comments like “I was on vacation this week” or “I had 3 parties to go to so this isn’t how I usually eat” or the classic “I forgot”.

It turns out that researchers have proved diet diaries to be an effective means to help people lose weight. The study looked at more than 1,500 people over six months and found that those who kept a food diary and updated it regularly lost about twice as much weight as those who did not.

The average weight loss for study participants was about 13 pounds. But those keeping food diaries six or seven days a week lost about 18 pounds, compared to just 9 pounds for those not regularly keeping a food diary.

As human beings, we have a tendency to underestimate how much we eat and over-estimate our physical activity.

There is a method to my madness!

By Dr. Pamela Frank, BSc(Hons), ND.  Our naturopaths can help with healthy weight loss with food journals, but also healthy diet recommendations, lifestyle suggestions, exercise tips, and supplements that may help you stay on track.  Call us at 416-481-0222 or book online now.

6 Steps to Increase Longevity

older woman trying to increase her longevity

Add More Years to Your Life and More Life to Your Years

  • Live life to its fullest everyday and don’t sweat the small stuff.
  • Live in moderation with little or no stress.
  • Walk everywhere you can.
  • Eat as little as possible of freshly prepared food, three times per day.  Reduced caloric intake increases longevity.
  • Drink six to eight glasses of water every day.
  • Share at least one meal per day with another person – our souls need a daily dose of another’s spirit to truly thrive.

Looking for more ways to turn back the years and thrive for as long as possible? Our naturopathic doctors can help. Call us at 416-481-0222 or book online now.

B is for Bone Health

picture of B vitamins that are important for bone health

B Vitamins and Bone Density

Older adults who are low in B vitamins or who have elevated levels of a blood protein called homocysteine are at increased risk of suffering a hip fracture. Elevated homocysteine levels are also linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Homocysteine levels go up when B vitamin levels go down. In this study, researchers found that homocysteine and certain B vitamins were each independently linked to hip fracture risk.

Men and women with vitamin B6 or B12 deficiencies were 60 percent more likely than those with normal levels to sustain a hip fracture.

High homocysteine levels lead to a 50 percent to 70 percent increased risk of a hip fracture — regardless of their B vitamin levels.

Lab research suggests that B vitamins play a role in maintaining bone density, and studies have linked low blood levels of the vitamins with low bone mass. As B6 declines, bone loss accelerates. Although homocysteine was related to hip fracture risk, it is not due to bone loss.  Diet changes and vitamin supplements are easy and effective methods for controlling B vitamin and homocysteine levels.

Vitamin B6 is found in foods like potatoes, bananas, beans and fortified cereals; vitamin B12 is found mainly in meat, eggs, fish and poultry.

Relevant blood work: vitamin B6, vitamin B12, folic acid, fasting homocysteine

Yours in health,
Pamela

SOURCE: Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, June 2008.