Boost your immune system naturally!

Happy Fall everyone! Check out my video blog with tips to boost your immune system as the cold and flu season kicks off. Feel free to share you own tips below. Enjoy!

3 natural ways to prevent the winter blues

Are the shorter days and colder weather leaving you feeling blue? Winter is coming and with the lack of sunlight comes the winter blues, also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

Common symptoms of SAD include: sadness, irritability, lack of interest in work and social activities, increased appetite, weight gain, increased sleep and decreased energy.

Here’s 3 natural ways to boost your mood this winter and prevent feeling SAD:

1. Supplement with vitamin D: Less sunlight means less vitamin D production in your body.  Vitamin D is required for a positive mood and supplementation has been shown to improve symptoms of depression.  Speak to your naturopathic doctor for the appropriate dose of vitamin D required for your individual health situation.  Increased vitamin D can also be obtained from eggs and vitamin D enriched foods like milk products and orange juice.

2. Supplement with an omega-3 fatty acid supplement:  Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for your nervous system and mood regulation benefiting symptoms of depression.  They are commonly found in fish, seafood, and flaxseeds.  Therefore including these foods in your diet can be helpful to prevent a deficiency.  However, if you do suffer from SAD and other mood disorders a much higher therapeutic dose is required to produce an improvement in your symptoms.  Speak to your naturopathic doctor for the appropriate dose of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation.

3. Get out there and exercise!  Exercise boosts your mood and increases the amount of endorphins (the happiness hormones) in your body.  There are many fun outdoor winter activities to take advantage of such as skating, snowshoeing, cross country or downhill skiing and snowboarding.  If these don’t interest you, investigate options for continuing your favourite summer activities indoors. Of course, there is always the gym and an unlimited amount of other exercise options available so figure out what you enjoy doing, get out there and move!

It is important to remember that the symptoms of SAD overlap with the symptoms of other health conditions such as major depressive disorder and hypothyroidism so it is always important to see your primary healthcare provider to have your symptoms investigated thoroughly.  It is also best to see them before starting any new supplements to make sure there are no interactions with medications you may be on.

Hopefully these tips leave you feeling happier this winter season!

Feel free to share your thoughts and other tips for preventing the winter blues 🙂

8 key factors for successful weight loss that CANNOT be ignored

It is well established that weight management consists of a balance between calories spent during exercise and calories eaten from food.  Increasing your exercise levels while decreasing your food intake will shift the scale in your favour, leading to weight loss.

But exercise and decreasing food intake will only get you so far in the battle to lose weight.  Weight loss is influenced by a comprehensive list of factors and each person’s weight loss challenge is unique.

The following 8 factors CANNOT be ignored because they are essential to SUCCESSFUL weight loss and maintenance:

1. Essential nutrient intake: Decreasing the amount of food you eat will only get you so far if you do not address your diet’s nutrient composition.  Calories from processed foods are considered ‘empty calories’ because these foods provide calories yet are severely lacking in nutrients.  Therefore, your body will never feel full and you will be hungry soon after.  Changing your diet to include more nutrient-rich foods is necessary to prevent overeating.

2. Digestive tract function: Once you start eating nutrient-rich foods, a healthy digestive tract is necessary to optimize absorption of these nutrients.  Having low stomach acid, inadequate digestive enzymes and an imbalance of bacteria in the digestive tract lead to decreased absorption rates leaving you still feeling hungry for more. Nutritional and herbal supplements are effective at restoring optimal digestive tract function.

3. Food sensitivities: Sub-optimal digestive tract function will lead to the absorption of inadequately broken down food particles.  These particles travel through your bloodstream where they meet with immune cells. The immune cells do not recognize these foreign articles and react to them by making immunoglobulins that deposit in tissues causing a variety of symptoms including further weight gain, water retention, inflammation, acne/skin rashes, bloating, gas, constipation and diarrhoea.

4. Blood sugar management: Every time you eat your blood sugar levels rise and your body releases insulin to help use the sugar for fuel.  If you have poor blood sugar and insulin control (any form of diabetes) the extreme fluctuations in these hormone levels lead to increased cravings and storage of calories in the body.

5. Cortisol management: Cortisol is the primary hormone released from your adrenal glands in response to stress.  Stress can be caused by anything such as work, family, positive or negative life changes (eg. marriage or divorce), physical trauma/injuries, lack of sleep,  poor nutrition habits or a pre-existing health condition.  Chronic stress and high cortisol levels are correlated with weight gain.  Therefore, stress management is a key component of any weight loss program.

6. Other hormone levels: An imbalance of other hormones such as estrogen, progesterone, testosterone and most importantly thyroid hormones can negatively influence metabolism and slow it down.  Therefore, any health condition (eg. hypothyroidism, polycystic ovarian syndrome, etc.) where these hormones are affected can be a barrier to weight loss and needs to be addressed before the weight will be lost.

7. Mental and emotional health: Anxiety, depression, grief, and trauma are common
issues leading to ‘emotional eating.’  In these cases, ‘emotional eating’ is a symptom of an underlying emotional issue.  Emotional eating will continue until the emotional cause is addressed and healed.

8. Prescription medications: Certain medications can affect metabolism and lead to weight gain.  Some examples include anti-depressants, the birth control pill, hormone replacement therapy and anti-inflammatory drugs.  Treating the reason you are taking these drugs may allow you to reduce or eliminate their use, thus eliminating this barrier to weight loss.

How can you address all of these weight loss factors and still have time for exercise?

Join our ‘Clean Slate’ weight loss program at Totum Life Science!

My education as a naturopathic doctor combined with Sarah Maughan’s education as a holistic nutritionist make us superiorly equipped to provide you with the necessary tools to ensure success in achieving your exercise and weight loss goals.

We invite you to meet with us for a complimentary 15 minute consultation to discuss how the
‘Clean Slate’ Program can specifically benefit you!

***Please Note: I am currently doing a locum at Totum Life Science and as of September 1, 2011 I will be relocating to Ottawa.  If you are interested in the ‘Clean Slate’ weight loss program,  feel free to start now with me, as the program will be carried on after I leave by Totum’s new naturopathic doctor.