Kick the Flu Bug FREE Webinar!

I’ve teamed up with Sonia from Kick Ass Nutrition to bring you a FREE webinar called ‘Kick the Flu Bug!”

We’re going to show you…

  • What foods to eat to help you stay strong and healthy.
  • The 5 things you should know about proboitics!
  • What really happens when you are exposed to flu germs
  • Learn about our 30 day Kick the Flu online program.

Sign up today! Don’t end up on the couch with a box of tissue this winter, kick the flu bug forever!

Natural remedies for ringworm

Sneak peak at my upcoming blog post for the Ottawa Mommy Club!

Ringworm is not actually a worm!

It is a fungal infection of the skin known as a ‘tinea’ infection, commonly contracted from close contact with others such as at day cares, swimming pools and the gym.

Tinea can occur anywhere on the body and starts off as red, raised, very itchy bumps.  Then it becomes dry and scaly as it heals from the inside out creating the appearance of a bright red ring, hence the common name ringworm.

How can you prevent a tinea infection?

1. Keep skin clean and dry.  Be sure to towel off thoroughly after a shower and to change wet, sweaty clothing as soon as you can.  Tinea thrives in dark, warm and moist environments.

2. Minimize sugar intake.  Often internal imbalance of yeast can manifest as tinea outwardly on the skin.  Sugar feeds the tinea and supports its growth.

3. Support a healthy immune system through a diet high in fruits and vegetables, ensuring your child has adequate sleep and exercise.  A strong immune system will deal with tinea exposure before it has a chance to manifest as ringworm.

Once my child has a tinea infection what can I do?

1. Avoid direct contact with others as much as possible to avoid the spread of tinea.

2. Mix 2-3 drops of tea tree essential oil into 1 tbsp of coconut or olive oil. Apply 2-3 times per day until the rash disappears and store the remainder in the fridge to use as needed.  Tea tree is anti-microbial, meaning it has the ability to kill fungus, bacteria and viruses.

3. Botanical tinctures of echinacea and goldenseal help support your child’s immune system so it can deal with the tinea infection.  Botanical tinctures are available at health food stores, be sure to use as directed based on your child’s age and weight.

4. Eat more raw garlic, raw onions and oregano.  These are natural anti-microbials and support the immune system to balance yeast levels from the inside out.

5. Incorporate omega-3 containing foods to the diet for their anti-inflammatory and skin healing properties.  Small fish such as anchovies, sardines and herring are super packed with omega-3 fatty acids.  Or you could add a tablespoon of chia seeds, hemp hearts or freshly ground flaxseeds into your child’s cereal, otameal or smoothie for a plant based omega-3 boost.

Feel free to share your experience or tips for other natural methods for resolving tinea!

Image purchased from www.dreamstime.com

Image purchased from http://www.dreamstime.com

Prevent cold and flu with these 3 supervitamins

It’s that time of year when the days get shorter and the temperature goes down signalling the beginning of that dreaded cold and flu season.

Whether you are a professional who wants to avoid missing a crucial work day, a parent who wants to keep their child healthy and in school, or an athlete who can’t miss a day of your strict training schedule, these 3 supervitamins can help boost your immune system to prevent the cold and flu this winter.

These 3 supervitamins are crucial to supporting a healthy immune system.  You can easily maintain their levels through changing your diet to incorporate foods containing high amounts of these vitamins.

*If considering taking these vitamins in supplement form, it is best to speak to your health care provider first because these vitamins in high doses can cause adverse effects and interfere with certain medications and medical conditions.

1. Vitamin A/beta-carotene: You can find vitamin A in foods as well as beta-carotene which your body turns into vitamin A.  Anything orange and yellow coloured contains vitamin A. Try adding some warm autumn foods like squash, sweet potato and carrots to your diet.  Red peppers, green kale and spinach contain high amounts of vitamin A.  Eggs are also high in vitamin A and are a source of complete protein.

Check out this Sweet Potato Salad recipe! It includes red peppers, and you can easily add some spinach and a boiled egg to increase the vitamin A content.

2. Vitamin C: This supernutrient is well-known for boosting the immune system.  Vitamin C is easily found in foods such as berries, oranges, grapefruit, apples, kiwis and green leafy vegetables, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, herbs and spices.

Check out my quick and easy Blueberry Smoothie recipe. It is high in vitamin C and you can add in some orange juice or apple sauce to increase the vitamin C content.

3. Vitamin E: Not only is vitamin E good for your skin, it also supports a healthy immune system! You can find vitamin E in avocado, nuts (almonds, peanuts), sunflower seeds, dried apricots, paprika, basil and oregano.

Check out this delicious Ultimate Guacamole recipe! Guacamole makes a great dip or spread and you can sprinkle your nuts and seeds on top or tweak the taste by adding paprika, basil and oregano.

A home-made trail mix of raw almonds, peanuts, sunflower seeds and dried apricots also make a healthy vitamin E packed snack for those of you on the go.

Feel free to share other recipes containing these 3 immune boosting supervitamins!

The ABC’s of skin cancer prevention

By now most of you have watched the viral melanoma prevention campaign video, “Dear 16 year old me” put out by the David Cornfield Melanoma Fund.

If not, you can watch it here:

This video is very powerful and really makes you think about what you can do NOW to prevent a serious disease in the FUTURE.

As a naturopathic doctor, I always advocate for prevention of disease and education on prevention is an important part of my practice philosophy.  Therefore, I feel this is an important issue to discuss.

Prevention of melanoma and other skin cancers can be done by checking your skin for moles and freckles on a regular basis, preferably once a month.

Skin checks are especially important if you are fair skinned, work outdoors, or have a family history of cancer.

The following is a summary of the ABC’s of skin cancer prevention:

A is for Asymmetry

What shape is your mole? Is it a circle, an oval, or just a blob? If you draw a line down the middle do both sides match or is one larger than the other?

If both sides are not the same shape and size, it should be looked at by a doctor.

B is for Borders

Look at the edges of the mole. Is it red, jagged, or poorly defined?

If you answered yes to any of the above, it should be looked at by a doctor.

C is for Colour

Moles are typically an even brown colour throughout.

Is your mole darker in some parts and lighter in others? Is it black, red, white or blue? Does it bleed?

If you answered yes to any of the above, it should be looked at by a doctor.

D is for Diameter

Take a ruler and measure the diameter from one side of the mole to the other.

Melanoma is usually greater than 6 millimetres (the approximate size of a pencil eraser).

If your mole is larger than 6 mm or smaller but has other changes, it should be looked at by a doctor.

E is for Elevation or Evolution

If your mole is flat and unchanging it is less likely to be cancerous.

If it is elevated or is changing in any way mentioned above, it should be looked at by a doctor.

The story of my mole

When I was little, I had a brown mole on my nose. As I grew older, it grew in size as well as elevation.  The borders were always well-defined and it was a perfectly symmetrical circle.  I didn’t pay much attention to it because it was just a part of me.

Except in grade school when my nickname became ‘Holy Moley’. But looking back now even I think this is funny LOL!

Then one day in university I noticed that the mole started to change colour.  It was becoming darker and almost black on one side.

This alerted me to the fact that perhaps I should seek the advice of a medical doctor.  I was referred to a dermatologist who asked me about my history of sun exposure and family history of cancer.  He also evaluated all of my other moles.

He suggested I remove the mole. The procedure took less than fifteen minutes and because he was a cosmetic dermatologist (the ones that specialize in botox and collagen injections) he took extra care so that I would not have a large scar left on my face.  Those who have met me post-mole removal cannot believe I ever had one!

After the mole was removed, the tissue was evaluated and they told me that it was not dangerous and I did not have skin cancer. What a relief!

Checking your moles is very quick and easy.  The 10 minutes you spend checking your moles each month can save you many years of your life so why wouldn’t you check them?

Great tools on how to check your skin can be found on the DCMF website

I’d love to hear your experience with your mole and skin cancer prevention. Please share your stories in the comments section!

February is Heart Month

Last February I wrote an article for the Bloor West Village SNAP Newspaper for the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s annual Heart month to raise awareness about heart health.  Below I’d like to share that article as well as a great slide show about foods that can improve your heart health. 

Heart month is about promoting healthy living to prevent heart disease as well as raising money for research into treatments for heart disease. 

Although there are factors contributing to heart disease such as family history which you cannot change, there are many factors which you are in control of such as diet, exercise, stress level, weight, alcohol and tobacco intake. Be proactive when it comes to heart health by regularly visiting your primary health care provider to screen for high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes which are all key risk factors for having a heart attack or stroke in the future.  Forming a partnership with your primary health care provider to implement lifestyle changes now is a wise investment for a healthy heart in the future.

Naturopathic Doctors work with other health care providers in offering evidence-based lifestyle interventions for preventing heart disease by utilizing clinical nutrition, exercise prescription, botanical medicine, and stress reduction techniques making them an ideal choice for people looking to improve their heart health.

Here are 3 simple ways to improve your heart health:

  1. Get up and move! Walking, swimming or dancing for 30 minutes five times a week will not only reduce stress and make you feel good, but will exercise your heart muscle to increase its strength and efficiency in pumping blood to your vital organs.
  2. Increase your fibre intake. Eating oatmeal for breakfast or snacking on a handful of almonds has been shown to significantly lower your cholesterol and blood pressure; both important for a healthy heart.
  3. Choose to practice stress reduction techniques such as deep breathing or yoga instead of reaching for a glass of wine or a cigarette when you feel anxious. Receiving a massage treatment is also an effective way to unwind after a workday and will keep your blood pressure low.

Take charge of your health and make the changes necessary for a healthy heart during the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s Heart month this February.  For more information on Heart month visit www.heartandstroke.ca

This is a great slide show I found showcasing heart healthy foods! The only thing I would change is to choose smaller fish such as anchovies and sardines to get your omega-3 fatty acids from instead of tuna which can bioaccumulate mercury. http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/slideshow-foods-to-save-your-heart

The guiding principles of naturopathic medicine

One thing that really attracted me to the field of naturopathic medicine is the philosophy of practice.  These are the guiding principles of naturopathic medicine:

1. First do no harm – I always choose the least invasive, safest and yet effective forms of treatment with my patients.  I also try to avoid suppressing a symptom which can lead to further complications or more serious disease.

2. Identify and treat the cause – most often people complain of symptoms on the physical or mental/emotional plane.  Usually a person’s chief complaint for seeking help is a signal from the body that something else is not right.  Through detailed questions about the history of the symptom we are usually able to figure out the cause.  For example, someone recently asked me what the cause of the skin rash eczema is.  I told him that many people have the symptom of eczema but the cause is different for each person.  Some possible causes of ezcema are environmental exposure to something irritating the skin (like a change in laundry detergent or body lotion), it could be an issue of diet where the person is not ingesting the appropriate nutrients to maintain skin health, it may be genetic factors, it may be a stressful event or a change in life situation, it may be an issue with the digestive tract or perhaps a reaction to a pharmaceutical or botanical medicine.  As you can see, determining the underlying cause of the ezcema would then determine the treatment approach based on the needs of the individual.

3. Support healing power of nature – everybody knows if they bump their knee and get a bruise, the body inherently knows how to heal the bruise without intervention from the outside.  Naturopathic doctors believe that this innate ability to heal applies to every health condition and we support this natural process with our treatments as well as identify and remove obstacles to achieving cure.

4. Treat the whole person – Although it is important to isolate parts of a person in order to study specific disease processes, it should not be forgotten that all parts of a person are constantly communicating through thoughts, emotions, neural impulses and chains of chemical reactions.  It is important to remember the interconnectedness of the mind, emotions, physical body, external environment, genetics and social relationships of a person in treatment.  Naturopathic doctors do not treat disease, we treat people who are expressing disease.

5. Doctor as teacher – I really like this principle because I love empowering my patients through knowledge of how they can implement healthy habits today.  Therefore over the long run they can prevent disease in the future.  Educating patients about their healthcare options, the importance of regular screening and blood tests, and symptoms which they definitely should see a doctor about is a great way to help patients become aware and proactive  their health.

6. Disease prevention and health promotion – The previous principle of ‘doctor as teacher’ leads into this principle very nicely.  By teaching patients healthy habits in order to prevent disease, they can live longer, healthier lives and there will be less of a strain on the overburdened  healthcare system.  I believe its important to emphasize preventive medicine in order to decrease the rising cost of reactive medicine.