The Importance of Play

kid playing, play outside

Play Time is for Grown-ups

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

After an afternoon on the skating rink, I thought it might be worthwhile emphasizing the importance of playing. Playing teaches kids coordination, adult roles, social interaction, and basic problem-solving skills. But it’s not just for kids. Play is important no matter what
your age.

Play is good for your health. Outdoor play often involves exercise, relieves stress and releases a whole range of feel-good chemicals in your brain.  A few weeks back, my son and I had some spare time, so we headed out to the playground at his school.  He wanted to play hide and seek. I was all “I don’t want to, it’s for kids, I’m too big, I’m too old, blah, blah, blah…”  I had all the excuses not to, but he was persistent and so I acquiesced.  You know what?  I had a blast, we had fun, we laughed, we played and we bonded because of a game of hide and seek.  Best of all it involved NO electronic devices, no special equipment, no expensive membership or admission fees.

Playing is good for your brain, too. It creates a state of hyper-creativity that literally changes the way you see the world.

It unites your mind and body. In play, the gap between physical sensation and mental sensation is bridged.

Playing creates social bonds. It is a rock-solid foundation for social behaviour. Hence the adage, the family that plays together stays together!

Fortunately, there’s an easy, natural and proven effective remedy for play deprivation: go out and do it!

In this day and age, it’s easy to get caught up in being all adult, serious, busy, goal oriented, getting stuff done, work, work, work, emails etc.  It’s equally important to take some time off to play, have fun, be social and bond with those you are closest to.

The Health Benefits of Avocados

 

how to choose ripe avocados, avocado benefitsAvocado Health Benefits: Guacamole Anyone?

Definitely right up there with the best superfoods, avocados are bursting with health benefits, here are the top nine:

1. Prostate Cancer Inhibition

2. Oral Cancer Defense

Certain compounds in avocados seek out and destroy pre-cancerous and cancerous oral cells.

3. Breast Cancer Protection

Avocado is high in oleic acid, which has been shown to prevent breast cancer in numerous studies.

4. Eye Health

Avocados have more of the carotenoid lutein than any other commonly consumed fruit. Lutein protects against macular degeneration and cataracts, two disabling age-related eye diseases.

5. Lower Cholesterol

Avocados are high in beta-sitosterol, a compound that has been shown to lower cholesterol levels. In one study, 45 volunteers experienced an average drop in cholesterol of 17% after eating avocados for only one week.

6. Heart Health & Stroke Prevention

One cup of avocado has 23% of the recommended daily value of folate. Studies show that people who eat diets rich in folate have a much lower incidence of heart disease than those who don’t. The vitamin E, monounsaturated fats, and glutathione in avocado are also great for your heart.

7. Better Nutrient Absorption

Research has found that certain nutrients like carotenoids are absorbed better when eaten with avocado.

8. Glutathione Source

Avocados are an excellent source of glutathione, an important antioxidant that researchers say is important in preventing aging, cancer, and heart disease.

9. Vitamin E Powerhouse

Avocados are the best fruit source of vitamin E, an essential vitamin that protects against many diseases and helps maintains overall health.

How to choose a ripe avocado:

You don’t want it to be too mushy, but on the other hand you don’t want it too hard.  It should be brownish all over rather than green, slightly soft to pressure but not mushy.

To help you get all these fantastic benefits deliciously there are recipes on our website for Asparagus and Avocado Salad and Spinach, Avocado and Mango Salad.

4 Ways to Get the Most from a Massage

registered massage therapy by a registered massage therapist or RMT

How to Get the Most from Massage Therapy

By Helen Bhavnani, Registered Massage Therapist

Massage therapy offers many health benefits.  Here are a few tips to help you make the most of a massage treatment.

  1. Do the stretches, or other self-care activities, that our awesome massage therapists (Helen, CJ, Sam or Lois) give you at the end of your treatment. We give these exercises to you because we want you to feel better longer!
  2. Ask questions. If you’re unclear about anything, please ask us to clarify.  If you think of something after you get home, call or email us especially if you are not sure about how often you should be coming for treatment.
  3. Come more often. Sometimes we can’t properly treat you in only one session. You will often feel better after one treatment, but find that soon afterward you go back to feeling aches and pains again. This means the underlying cause is not fully resolved. So like anything, give it a little more time. If massage is not helping your condition, we will always refer you to someone who we think will.
  4. Give us feedback. If you want us to change something about the way we do your
    treatment, if you’re not comfortable with something, or if you feel it would be more effective if we did something differently, please tell us. You know your body best. We want you to have the best experience possible, and it’s your treatment. We are there for you!
  5. Hydrate.  Before and after a treatment it’s a good idea to drink plenty of water to help the body flush out waste that has been mobilized by the massage.

Tips for Your Best Year Ever!

health tips 2016

5 Tips for a Healthy & Happy 2016

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

  1. Find a new passion. Take yourself out of your comfort zone to try something you’ve always wanted to or something you’ve admired from afar.  Take up knitting, golfing, belly dancing, cricket, extreme frisbie, wake boarding, skateboarding, badminton, karate, learn circus feats or Mandarin the list goes on and on. Variety is the spice of life and keeps it interesting and fun.
  2. Challenge yourself.  Along the lines of #1, you never know whether you might be the world’s best juggler or rock climber if you never try. Setting new goals and accomplishing them provides you with a sense of self-satisfaction and confidence.
  3. Never overindulge two days in a row.  Everybody has a binge now and then, but the key is to regroup right after and get back on track with healthy eating habits. The gross feeling the next day helps reinforce the benefits of taking good care of yourself the rest of the time.
  4. Exercise your mind and body every day.  Physical activity reduces stress, and improves every aspect of your health.  Even 5 minutes per day of exercise is better than none, although a good goal is 6 hours per week of exercise.
  5. Plan adventures. Life can get mundane without something exciting to look forward to.  Planning a trip and finding interesting out of the way things to do while you are there adds to the anticipation and the end experience.  Happy memories are one of life’s greatest riches.

Foot Pain

woman with foot pain in her foot ankle or heel

How to Reverse Foot Pain for Happy, Healthy Feet

The human body is like a house, it needs a stable foundation. Our feet are our foundation and problems in them may result in foot pain as well as problems throughout the rest of the body.

Your feet are supported by three arches of fascia, muscles or ligaments – the transverse arch, which runs across the ball of your foot and two longitudinal arches, from the toes to the heel.

We spend a great deal of time standing, walking and running on hard surfaces in ill-fitted shoes. Therefore up to 80% of us may at some point have troubles with our feet. One of the most common problems is the collapsing of the arch. The result is “overpronation” or inward rolling of the ankles and feet when we walk. Daily activities such as walking, standing, jumping and running pull on the plantar fascia causing microscopic tears, inflammation and pain known as plantar fasciitis. There may be sharp pain in the heel or along the arch of the foot and it is often worse first thing in the morning or after periods of inactivity.

Over-pronation can also result in increased strain along the inside of the knee, internal rotation of the hip, and/or un-leveling of the pelvis all of which may affect the back. Improper alignment can lead to early wear and tear and cause conditions such as arthritis, bunions or hammer toes.

Helpful Hints for foot pain:

  • Soft tissue techniques and joint alignment by your chiropractor will help
    with correction and healing of the problem.
  • Proper arch support is also very important. For mild problems, shoes with built in arch support or a good pair of over the counter inserts should be enough. In moderate to severe cases, custom fitted orthotics will offer greater benefit.
  • Be consistent with orthotic use. You will benefit most by wearing them in all of your shoes. In the summer, wear custom orthotic sandals whose foot bed is comprised of your own custom made orthotic.
  • Run on proper surfaces. Grassy surfaces or running tracks are ideal. Dirt paths tend to get packed hard, so try running along side of them. Pavement and cement are very hard on our feet; surfaces such as these should be avoided.
  • Proper hydration – your whole body benefits

Strengthening exercises and preventative measures for foot pain:

  • In bare feet place a hand towel on a smooth floor.Use your toes to scrunch and pull the towel toward you. This strengthens the muscles that naturally support your arches.
  • Stand with feet hip distance apart. Press big toes into the floor while lifting the other eight toes, then press those eight toes into the floor while lifting big toes.
  • While sitting, roll your entire foot over a tennis ball, or in very acute cases you can use a frozen water bottle.

By Dr. Kim Macanuel, BSc, DC.

For help with foot pain, musculoskeletal problems or orthotics contact Dr. Macanuel at 416.481.0222 or by email at KMacanuelDC@ForcesofNature.ca

Vitamin B12

vitamin B12 rich foods

Vitamin B12

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

Vitamin B12 is necessary for energy production, blood formation, DNA synthesis and myelin formation.

Symptoms of deficiency include:

  • Mental fogginess or difficulty concentrating
  • Problems with your memory
  • Mood swings
  • Lack of motivation
  • Feelings of apathy
  • Fatigue and a lack energy
  • Muscle weakness
  • Tingling in your extremities

You are at greater risk of B12 deficiency if you:

  • Are a vegan or vegetarian
  • Are over 50
  • Take antacids or anti-ulcer medication
  • Take Metformin for diabetes
  • Take antibiotics, anti-cancer medication, anticonvulsants, anti-gout
    medication, blood pressure medication, antipsychotics, birth control pills,
    cholesterol lowering drugs, potassium replacement medication
  • Drink four or more cups a coffee a day
  • Have or had an H. pylori bacterial infection
  • Had weight loss surgery
  • Have been exposed to laughing gas
  • You suffer from indigestion, heartburn or GERD

What foods contain vitamin B12?

B12 is found mainly in animal foods.  Eggs, dairy products, beef, chicken and pork all supply ample amounts of B12.

How can I test to see if I’m B12 deficient?

There is a simple blood test your doctor can do for B12, although this test is not the most accurate means of detecting B12 deficiency.  A better test is a urine methyl malonic acid test.

How can I fix a B12 deficiency?

Vitamin B12 levels can be replenished through sublingual supplements or through intramuscular B12 injections.

Our naturopathic doctors can help you determine if you have a B12 deficiency and how best to treat it.  It’s important that B12 deficiency is detected and treated early as long term deficiency can cause permanent nerve damage.

Sprouts and Stomach Cancer Bugs

broccoli sprouts that can help fight h pylori and stomach cancer

Broccoli Sprouts and H. Pylori

Eating broccoli sprouts can help keep stomach cancer-causing bacteria at bay, research from Japan shows.  This study supports the emerging evidence that they may be able to prevent cancer in humans.

Broccoli and broccoli sprouts contain glucoraphanin, a substance the body metabolises into the powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant sulforaphane, Dr. Akinori Yanaka of Tokyo University of Science and his colleagues note in their report.

Sulforaphane can kill Helicobacter pylori, a bacterium strongly associated with stomach cancer. The researchers had 48 people who were already infected with H. pylori eat 70 grams per day of broccoli or alfalfa sprouts (which don’t contain sulforaphane) for eight weeks. In the men and women eating broccoli sprouts, markers of gastric inflammation were significantly reduced. Markers indicating the amount of H. pylori in gastric tissue also fell, but neither changed in the people eating the alfalfa ones. Once the study participants stopped eating them, their markers of inflammation and H. pylori levels returned to pre-study levels.

Researchers conclude: “The findings in this study strongly suggest that sulforaphane has promise both as an antibacterial agent directed against H. pylori and as a dietary preventive agent against the development of human gastric cancer.”

SOURCE: Cancer Prevention Research, April 2009.

Chinese Medicine & Food

how to eat healthy according to chinese medicine

Eating Well According to Chinese Medicine

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, food is heavily relied upon as medicine. What and how you eat affects the function of your digestive organs which in turn influences the qi (energy) and function of all of the organs.

Here are the key rules for eating according to Chinese medicine principles:

  1. Timing – it is best to eat at the same time every day.  7-9 a.m. is considered to be the “stomach” time, while 9-11 a.m. is the “spleen” time.  Both organs are essential to digestion in Chinese medicine.  Eating a hearty breakfast between 7-9 a.m. works with the timing of the internal organs.
  2. Weather temperature – External cold temperatures dictate the consumption of warmer foods like soups and stews, external heat calls for colder foods like salads
  3. What you are doing while eating – You should be focused on eating, not watching TV, talking on the phone, surfing the internet, driving, walking etc.
  4. Quantity – You should eat to the point of 2/3 satiety, to allow some reserves in the digestive tract for the process of digestion.
  5. Cooked vs Raw – in Chinese medicine, consumption of too  many raw foods (lots of salads and raw fruit) is damaging to the spleen (considered one of the organs of digestion in Chinese medicine).  This is why salads aren’t on the menu much in Chinese restaurants.  It’s better to eat foods lightly cooked like steamed or stir-fried to avoid damaging digestion.

Probiotics for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

woman with chronic fatigue

Can Probiotics Help Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)?

Probiotic (good bacteria) supplements can help some people with chronic fatigue syndrome feel better report Swedish researchers who conducted a small study. Evidence is increasingly pointing toward the need for individualized treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome. The cause of this condition, characterized by debilitating fatigue that doesn’t get better with rest and may be worsened by physical or mental activity, remains unclear, although there is evidence that dysfunction in the neuro-hormonal system or the immune system could be involved.

Why Would Probiotics Help CFS?

Given that there is a close connection between the gut and the immune system, as well as the central nervous system it’s not surprising that probiotics can help relieve chronic fatigue syndrome.  I would particularly expect this type of treatment to be helpful in patients who have required antibiotic treatment, who have digestive issues as well and/or who suffer from recurring yeast infections.

3 Ways to Help Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

  1. Reduce your stress level.  Stress negatively influences the immune system, and depletes the adrenal glands.
  2. Restore healthy levels of vitamin C, B5, B6, Magnesium and Zinc. These vitamins and minerals are in high demand under stress, become depleted, negatively affecting the function of the adrenals, the production of neurotransmitters and muscle function.
  3. Support healthy gut bacteria with the right probiotics. The benefits in CFS were seen with a specific strain known as Bifidobacter infantis.  Good quality probiotics will guarantee the bacteria count until the time of expiry (not the time of manufacture).  FOS in probiotics will often cause an aggravation and I would recommend avoiding supplements that contain FOS.

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

Probiotics and Chronic Fatigue References:

Galland L. The gut microbiome and the brain. J Med Food. 2014 Dec;17(12):1261-72. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2014.7000.

Groeger D, O’Mahony L, Murphy EF, Bourke JF, Dinan TG, Kiely B, Shanahan F, Quigley EM. Bifidobacterium infantis 35624 modulates host inflammatory processes beyond the gut. Gut Microbes. 2013 Jul-Aug;4(4):325-39. doi: 10.4161/gmic.25487.

 

CoQ10

structure of CoQ10
What is CoQ10?

CoQ10, also known as coenzyme Q10 or ubiquinone, is a naturally-occurring compound found in every cell in the body and is vital for healthy heart and muscle function, among other things.

Why is Coenzyme Q10 Important?

CoQ10 plays a key role in producing energy in the form of ATP in the mitochondria – the energy powerhouse of the cell. Every cell in your body needs adequate levels of this coenzyme to have sufficient energy to work properly. Low levels of CoQ10 have been found in patients with heart failure, cardiomyopathy, Parkinson’s disease and those on cholesterol lowering medications called statin drugs.  CoQ10 supplementation has been proven to improve these conditions as well as helping diabetics improve their blood sugar control and blood pressure and topical application can help with periodontal (gum) disease.

Statin medications can reduce levels of ubiquinone, and cause fatigue, muscle pain, muscle tenderness, muscle weakness, night time cramping, and tendon pain.  We always recommend supplementation if you are taking statin drugs.

Recent research has also suggested a role for CoQ10 in infertility.

Best Food Sources of CoQ10 (mg per serving)

Pork heart (24 mg)

Beef heart (4.8 mg)

Chicken leg (2.0 mg)

Herring (0.7 mg)

Trout (1.1 mg)

What are the Best CoQ10 Supplements?

Not crazy about those food options? Quality supplements are available through excellent manufacturers like Metagenics, Douglas Labs and Xymogen.  Metagenics has formulated a nanomicelle CoQ10 that delivers 1,000 times smaller molecules than other formulas, which places the active ingredient closer to cell membranes. It has been demonstrated in a study to be more bioavailable, increasing plasma levels by 25-50%, so less supplementation is required.  Douglas Labs offers a lozenge that may help gum disease.  Xymogen’s CoQMax has been shown in clinical trials to be over eight times more absorbable than powdered CoQ10 and more than twice as bioavailable as other oil-based or so-called “nano”-dispersed formulas on the market.

CoQ10 References:

Skarlovnik A, Janić M, Lunder M, Turk M, Šabovič M. Coenzyme Q10 supplementation decreases statin-related mild-to-moderate muscle symptoms: a randomized clinical study. Med Sci Monit. 2014 Nov 6;20:2183-8. doi: 10.12659/MSM.890777.

Wang LW, Jabbour A, Hayward CS, Furlong TJ, Girgis L, Macdonald PS, Keogh AM. Potential role of coenzyme Q10 in facilitating recovery from statin-induced rhabdomyolysis. Intern Med J. 2015 Apr;45(4):451-3. doi: 10.1111/imj.12712.

Ben-Meir A, Burstein E, Borrego-Alvarez A, Chong J, Wong E, Yavorska T, Naranian T, Chi M, Wang Y, Bentov Y, Alexis J, Meriano J, Sung HK, Gasser DL, Moley KH, Hekimi S, Casper RF, Jurisicova A. Coenzyme Q10 restores oocyte mitochondrial function and fertility during reproductive aging. Aging Cell. 2015 Oct;14(5):887-95. doi: 10.1111/acel.12368. Epub 2015 Jun 26.