Monday, November 4, 2013

Get Sick This Winter

No, it’s not a typo, we want you to have at least 1 cold per year. When people tell us they haven’t been sick in years, we worry slightly.  Are the body’s defense systems too weak to mount a response? 

Colds, flus and coughs actually serve a very important purpose. These infections are one of the ways the body cleanses itself and how the immune system reboots itself. By producing fever and phlegm the body is able to purge and kill off the infection-causing bugs.

When you suppress these healthy and necessary immune processes with fever reducers or other over-the-counter medication, you are only down-regulating the body’s attempts to get you well; resulting in much longer illnesses and weaker immune systems.

Here are some easy ways you can strengthen your body and boost your immune system this winter:

Immune Boosting Vitamins

Vitamin D: proven anti-viral and anti-cancer effects

Vitamin C: in powder form or chewable tablets, antioxidant, anti-viral

Fish Oil: promotes healthy cellular membranes

Probiotics: healthy gut bacteria keep the digestive and immune systems healthy

Zinc: immune boosting, great as a lozenge for sore throats


Immune Boosting Lifestyle

Sleep: 6 to 8hrs of uninterrupted sleep allows the immune system to recharge

Exercise/Movement: keeps your lymphatic system flowing, crucial for immune health 

Balanced schedules: constantly hectic schedules are not good for your immune system. Recognize when you need to slow down and take a break

Self care: allow your self some “me time” every once in a while to recharge your whole body


Immune Boosting Herbs & Remedies

Natural Flu Remedy Pascoleucyn: given orally to children and as an injection to adults, this is our favourite flu prevention remedy

Deep Immune: a mixture of immune enhancing herbs, great for strengthening the lungs

Echinacea: our well-known immune boosting herb taken at the start of cold symptoms for no more than 10 consecutive days

Pleo-Not: our most favourite anti-bacterial remedy

Pleo-Quent: our most-favourite anti-viral remedy

Immune Boosting Diet

Greens: these vitamin and mineral-packed veggies can be added to smoothies and soups

Berries: full of antioxidants and vitamin C making them the perfect immune foods

Say no to sugar: unfortunately the immune system’s arch enemy. Wonder why the “flu” comes out in full force after Halloween???

Ease up on alcohol: this is where moderation is key. Too much alcohol will not only compromise liver function but it will also deplete the immune system.

Find easier-to-digest dairy and grains: cow’s milk and whole wheat are mucous-forming foods. Look for goat milk or non-dairy milk and cheese alternatives and give sprouted grain products a try.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Living with Intention – Goal setting for weight loss

Today I taught a Bodycombat class at Goodlife.   Before class as the participants were lining up I walked down the line asking everyone their goals.  I like to know what people are trying to get out of the class so I can meet and exceed expectation.  Most of the class sadly didn’t have a goal in mind; a few said to finish the class, fair enough, one to work on form in punches and kicks, one to simply ‘make it’ to the gym, hmmm, already achieved, so now what?

So, when I started the class, I told them my goal for THEM this class, is for them to sweat A LOT.  Wet shirts and small puddles on the floor 60 minutes later told me I met MY goal.  I also wore my heart rate monitor, because before every work out I ALWAYS set a specific goal.

Each action we do, do with intention.  Perhaps your goal is to make a new friend, simply get out of the house and have fun; all wonderful objectives. But, if your goal is to achieve weight loss, than that 60 minutes you’re at the gym, work with intention and have a in mind goal, what are you trying to achieve and why?

Setting specific goals is by far the most important part of any weight loss program and one that is often ignored.  Only 3% of us actually take the time to put our goals in writing.  How can you possibly hit a goal that you can’t even see?  As the saying goes, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The trouble with Bandages….

Almost as traumatic as the initial injury has been the removal of the bandages and tape.  Tape always seems to be stuck to a burn area, pulling off skin in its removal.  The ‘cling’ used at the hospital stuck to everything and was extremely hard to get off, as were the gauze bandages they used.  The doctor tried something different, but I ended up having to hold Samantha’s hands all night long so she didn’t scratch, and the next day she had blisters covering her legs where she reacted to the tape, poor thing.

Figure 1 – Tuesday at Doctors, Day 4. 
Finally, the wound care nurse who truly knows Best Practice, took one look at the bandages that had been used, shook her head and the next day a huge box of non-painful, self-adhesive bandages arrived, hallelujah.  Seriously, why is it so difficult to get proper bandages?  Our doctor didn’t have them, I checked our $50 first aid kit from Canadian tire and all the bandages in there are inadequate.  As the wound care nurse said, they just don’t know best practice, and neither do people who make first aid kits I guess. 

Back to the nurses first visit last Tuesday.  Expecting to fight yet another battle over the Medi-honey (no, the doctors at the hospital had NOT heard about it and I had to bring up a few research articles) I held up the alginate honey bandage, and defiantly said ‘I want to use these, are we going to have a problem?’  She was surprised I had it, told me it was the ‘new big thing’, she had heard of it but they didn’t have any yet and both she and her manager were excited to see the results – again, hallelujah.   She assessed the wound and estimated Samantha would be off school for at least 3 weeks in total, probably 4.


Figure 2  Wednesday, Day 5.  Nurse predicted 3-4 weeks off school

We had a new nurse today (Sunday), she was surprised that we had been scheduled an appointment with the plastic surgeon.  When I pulled out my camera and showed her the original picture of the wound she gasped, her mouth dropped open and she couldn’t believe how amazing Samantha is doing just over 1 week later, new skin is already growing.  Absolutely amazing she said with a smile.  It really is.  If it weren’t for the doctor’s appointment tomorrow I’d send her to school, as it is, she’ll go on Tuesday.  Only 7 days missed, ¼ of what was predicted.

figure 3 Sunday, day 9.  If it weren’t for an (unneeded now) doctor’s appointment, Samantha would be going back to school tomorrow.  2 weeks earlier than predicted possible.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Honey and Heroes

It started with bedtime, a goodnight snuggle and a scalding cup of coffee.  Next thing I know my daughter is screeching out of her room, with her little brother hot on her tail – both hysterically screaming, I actually thought there was a mouse in their room until I saw my daughter’s leg.  Five hours later we were home from the hospital with another challenge on our hands; how to provide the best care for our daughter who had 2nd degree burns down her leg and buttocks. 

My husband was initially happy with the advice from the doctors and nurses at the hospital, who were wonderful, but unfortunately not fully informed.  It didn’t take me long to bring up the countless research studies, including a systemic Cochrane review, to show him that the Silver Sulforadizine was far inferior to high quality, 100% active leptospermum honey, from Manuka honey. 

We all know that the biggest issue with burns is the likelihood for infection.  A study published in the British Journal of surgery compared Silver Sulfadiazine – what the nurse put on the dressing at the hospital and what I was told is what they ALWAYS use, to honey.  The results are shocking, 91% of the people treated with honey had no infections after 7 days, vs 7% of those treated with Silver Sulfadiazine.  7 vs 91 – seriously, and our docs aren’t noticing this?  Healthy granulation tissue was observed on average 6 days earlier in those treated with honey and finally, 87% of the honey treated group were healed with 15 days vs 10% of the Silver group.   A 2008 article published in Evidence Based Complimentary journal speaks of a case at the Children's Hospital Medical Centre  affiliated with the University of Bonn where a 12 year old was put in isolation after an operation resulting in MRSA (antibiotic resistant) infection.  After 12 days of isolation and all the best tricks to contain the infection, no results were seen, so as a last resort they allowed the honey treatment.  2 days later the child was MRSA negative.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the kind of honey you can get at your local health food store, so it took some serious investigating and calling the best Naturopathic Doctors I know to track it down on a Saturday morning.  I found myself back at +Dr. Eric Marsden’s clinic, my first mentor and where I spent the first 2 years of my practice – a clinic ahead of its time, very cutting edge and the only place to have the supplies I needed.  Thank you Eric for being so prepared that you keep said supplies on hand “just in case”, and for opening your clinic to see us on your Saturday afternoon. Samantha asked if we were at another hospital, and I told her it was better than a hospital.  Eric was more gentle, more thorough and more researched that the nurses and docs at the hospital (though they were lovely) and it really did feel like we were back at the ER.

 So, let’s keep our fingers crossed the honey does the trick and once again, thanks to all the people helping us out.  It’s amazing how supportive the community is when you need it.  Cornell Moms’ have offered assistance, friends going out of there way, Nadine, Jenny, mom and dad, strangers going out of their way, thank goodness for Community, our heros making a nasty situation a little bit sweet.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Medicine for the Mind

Medicine for the Mind
How to beat the Blues, stay focused and keep your mind sharp at any age.

Does our brain really shrink when we’re pregnant?  Is it an inevitable sign of aging that we get cloudy thinking and memory loss?  If your grandmother had Alzheimer’s disease does that mean you’re most likely going to get it too?  Is it normal to feel sad and anxious on a fairly regular basis?

The good news is that with proper nutrition and supplementation most, if not all of our brains ‘hiccups’ can be corrected.

1.       Regulate Blood sugar Levels

Hypoglycemia can cause aggression, brain fog, lower intelligence and decreased concentration.  Worse of all, almost everyone one of us, especially our children start the day in just this state.  Sugary cereals, toast and jam and coffee, are all stimulants that give us an initial boost followed by a crash.

The Solution: Chose complex carbohydrates and balance every meal with protein and fat.   Complex carbohydrate release glucose in a slower rate than processed sugary carbs but even they turn into glucose fairly quickly in your blood stream; so, add almond butter to your whole grain toast instead of jam, oatmeal with nuts and seeds or eggs instead of are all great ways to start the day.  Skip store bought fruit juice as it’s full of sugars, both natural and not, and consider juicing your own vegetables and fruits. *

2.       Lubricate the gears

Low brain fat levels are associated with depression, dyslexia, distractibility, ADD, fatigue, schizophrenia, memory problems and even emotional instability.  60% of the dry weight of the brain is fat, and in our fat phobic society, the chances that you’re getting all you need without proper supplementation are slim to none.  Fact is, your brain really does shrink when you’re pregnant, at least, if you’re fat deficient.  The baby will take what it needs from where ever it can get it, so shrinking your brain to get the fats it needs to build its own neuronal connections.

The Solution: Eat nuts and seeds, supplement with a good quality fish oil and stop being so afraid of fats.  Unfortunately, due to our current state of ocean affairs, you will be unable to obtain sufficient quantities of fish oil from diet alone – there’s just too much contamination to make it safe.    Phospholipids are our intelligence fats, used for both structure and function and this is what’s most likely robbed from moms’ minds by their babes. Ever notice that wild animals eat the brains and organs of their pray?  That’s the best place to get these vital fats, but if organ eating turns your stomach, consider adding lecithin granules to your diet, eggs, or a supplement with brain friendly phospholipids such as phosphotidylchoine, serine and or DMAE.

3.       Protein is Brain Power

Lack of motivation, anxiety, depression, inability to relax, poor memory and concentration are all associated with amino acid deficiency.  Amino acids make up neurotransmitters, the signals used to allow the brain to ‘talk’ to itself and the rest of the body.

Depression and anxiety are never caused by a Prozac deficiency, but they may be due to a serotonin or GABA one.  A nick name for ADD is adrenaline deficiency disorder, as many kids with this affliction have been shown to have low levels of adrenaline and / or dopamine in the frontal cortex of the brain. 

The Solutions: Eat a wide variety of proteins to ensure you’re getting all the essential amino acids, and make sure you’re getting enough.  The average person needs a minimum of 50g of protein a day, that equivalent to 5 eggs, or 9 cups of brown rice at a minimum.  A typical day for a man might be 1 egg for breakfast (10g), a 200 g salmon steak for lunch (40g) and a serving of beans with dinner (20g).  A vegetarian might have a small tub of yogurt and a heaping tablespoon of seeds on an oat based cereal (20g), with 1 cup quinoa (20g) with vegetables for lunch and beans and rice for dinner (20g).

4.       Minimize the Metals

Mercury exposure caused the mad hatter in Alice in wonderland to go crazy.  Even low levels of heavy metals such as lead, mercury, cadmium, copper and aluminum can affect concentration, IQ, mood, cause aggressive outbursts, fussiness about food, headaches, sinus problems, confusion, anxiety, insomnia and other neurological problems.

The solution: Ensure adequate mineralization to block the binding of metals and consider having a hair mineral analysis to see your body’s mineral status and how good it is at detoxifying.

5.       Avoid Brain Pollutants –Alcohol, Oxidants and Stress

Alcohol consumed at higher levels than your liver can detoxify cause harm to your brain.  It dissolves those oh so pressure fats, specifically DHA and replaces it with a poor substitute, DPA.  Furthermore, it blocks the conversion of fat to prostaglandins, hormone like substances that are involved in numerous functions from regulating blood pressure to neurotransmitter production.  It also causes leeching of many vitamins including your B’s, probably why you get that hangover.

Oxidants are the equivalent to rust in your system.  They damage DNA, fats, mitochondria, speed up the aging process and impair function overall.  Fried foods, smoking and pollution are f 3 of the body’s main oxidants.

Stress:   Parts of your brain cells actually shrivel up when exposed to high levels of stress hormone leading to decreased memory and learning ability.

The Solution:  Once you notice your gait getting wobbly and speech slurring from alcohol, back off, your liver has reached its capacity.  Increase levels of antioxidants such as dark berries and fruits and consider an antioxidant if you’re over the age of 40.  Watch out for fried food and ensure adequate nutrition to help the body detoxify and most importantly of all, find ways to de-stress.

6.       Brain Nutrients

a.       B Vitamins: help turn glucose into fuel for the brain, improve memory, help you deal with stress, regulate hormones, curb depression and are necessary in the methylation process, which plays a vital role in genetic expression, neurotransmitter formation, memory and detoxification. 

b.      Vitamin C: Balances neurotransmitters, reduced depression and schizophrenia symptoms, aids memory, supports the immune system and is a weak heavy metal chelator.

c.       Maximize minerals:  Calcium and Magnesium deficiency can lead to nervousness, irritability, aggression, insomnia, addiction and depression.  Zinc followed by magnesium are the two most depleted nutrients in people today, due to increased need, low intake and poor absorption.  Zinc deficiency is associated with depression, anxiety, anorexia, delinquency, hyperactivity and autism.  Poor mineralization decreases the body’s ability to detoxify successfully increasing body burden of heavy metals and neurotoxins.  This combination of low minerals and high toxins can cause havoc to numerous body function but definitely compromising intellectual performance and emotional stability.

Listen to your body and trust in the healing power within, when given the right tool your body will enable you to live beyond what is ‘normal’ now.

By Dr. Debbie Smrz

As well as being clinic director and Naturopathic doctor at NatLiving, Dr. Debbie teaching optimum nutrition for the mind at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition.

*We love juicing so much we’ve started selling juicers right here.  Call us to find out more.