Dr. Kaitlyn: Support your immune system this fall

It’s that time of the year! Fall is always a busy season with everyone heading back to their routines after a relaxing summer. With the drastic changes in temperature outside it is only a matter of time before we see colds and flus everywhere. At this time of the year, it’s important to support our immune systems and prepare our bodies for a cold winter season.

Here are some simple ways that you can support your body’s immune system.

Good hygiene: Wash your hands frequently, especially before eating and after touching public surfaces (like door handles). If you do happen to catch a virus, sneeze into your elbow (not your hands) to prevent spreading germs to others.

Hydration: Drinking enough water is always important to keep our bodies working their best.

Sleep: There is a well known association showing that those of us who are not getting adequate sleep tend to get sick more often.

Nutrient dense foods: We all know that consuming plenty of fruits and veggies is important for our health. Did you know that choosing warming foods such as ginger, spices and garlic can help your body withstand the switch to cooler temperatures? Eating plenty of warming foods during the change in season is common practice in Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Supplements: There are plenty of important vitamins and minerals that can be taken in supplemental form to help support our body’s natural immunity. While these supplements are widely available, it is important to speak with your naturopathic doctor to choose the right product and dose for you.

Dr. Kaitlyn: Have you tried cupping therapy?

Cupping therapy is a wonderful complement to massage and chiropractic care and could elevate your treatment plan to the next level.

What is cupping?
Traditional Chinese medicine doctors have been using this therapy for a very long time! The practitioner will place suction cups on various parts of the body and either leave them in place or move the cups strategically along the muscles.

According to Chinese Medicine Stagnation=pain so cupping therapy is thought to draw the stagnant blood to the surface of your skin, increasing the flow of nutrient rich blood to your muscles below. Immune cells are also called into the area to help your body heal the inflammation that is causing your pain in the first place.  Cupping also works to physically stretch muscles and the fascia surrounding them.

How can it help you?

Professional athletes often use cupping as part of their muscle recovery program because it is a great way to break up fascial adhesions that could be contributing to pain and stiffness.

By increasing blood flow to the area under the cup we are also increasing your body’s circulation which results in;

• Relief from tension and muscle relaxation.
• Removal of toxins that can cause pain when they are stuck in the muscle.
• Increased flow of fresh, nutrient rich blood to enhance healing.
• Local warming sensation to help soften the tissue.
• Reduced inflammation.

If you are interested in adding cupping therapy to your treatment plan, you can book a FREE fifteen minute consultation with Dr. Kaitlyn Richardson, ND to see how it can take your recovery to the next level.

Dr. Kaitlyn: How to increase lean muscle mass

There are several health benefits associated with increasing lean mass:

Greater basal metabolic rate (amount of energy you use at rest): This means that you use more calories each day which will likely result in decreased fat mass.

Protein reservoir for your immune system: When you get sick your immune system needs significant amounts of protein to help you fight infection. Getting enough from your diet is tough, so your body can pull protein from your muscle in order to create the immune cells that you need.

Bone Health: Adequate muscle mass can help to improve bone density and strength as we age, preventing osteoporosis and decreasing the risk of debilitating bone breaks.

Improves insulin resistance: a study at UCLA school of medicine even found that increasing lean muscle mass by 10% led to an 11% decrease in insulin resistance. (PMID: 21778224)

What is the best way to increase your lean muscle mass?

Start with Resistance/Strength training:
We have all heard the saying “Use it or Lose it”, and it is no different for our muscles. Strength training at least twice a week is important to build and maintain muscle mass. It is important to focus on all the different muscle groups, and remember that the larger the muscle is, the more fuel it will use at rest. Always remember to give your muscles a break between sessions. This is why many people will rotate leg days and arm day. The rest period is very important as it allows your muscles to repair and grow between sessions.

Don’t forget cardio!
Moderate aerobic exercise can help to decrease fat mass, but by ensuring that our hearts are pumping we also improve the delivery of essential nutrients to our muscles. This can help with healing after heavy lifting. Overdoing it with cardio can have detrimental effects on lean mass as well. If we aren’t fueling our bodies adequately, muscle is broken down to fuel our cardiovascular exercise. It is always important to ensure proper nutrition .

PROTEIN!
There are multiple studies that have shown that when combined with resistance training, increasing protein intake leads to a significant improvement in body composition by increasing lean muscle mass. Athletes and active individuals have a higher protein demand than sedentary individuals, so it is important to ensure you are getting enough. Most of the recent studies have also shown that consuming significantly higher amounts of protein than the recommended intake will not have the detrimental effects on weight gain or kidney function as was originally believed. Of course, it is still important that you consult a healthcare provider before consuming very large amounts of protein to ensure that it is something that will work for you, especially if you have a pre-existing medical condition.

Address underlying causes of Inflammation:
One of the most important things that we can do for our bodies (and our figures) is to remove any obstacles that may be preventing us from reaching optimal health. These could be things like correcting hormonal imbalances or promoting a healthy digestive system. It is very important to understand and address why we may be having trouble losing weight or gaining muscle, so that we can look and feel our best.

If you are interested in learning more about increasing muscle mass, losing fat or simply just feeling better every day, now is the time to start! To book an appointment with Dr. Kaitlyn Richardson, ND call 519.826.7973 or book online.

Dr. Laura: The Science of Eating a Rainbow

The colours that our foods employ are very functional and serve a purpose. Phytonutrients are vast and the last time I counted, there were over 5,000 known.

Allow me to introduce Dr. Deana Minich, MD. She has dedicated her career to express why, in scientific means, we should “eat” a rainbow. In the chart below she simplifies how different coloured foods serve our body.

image

What makes this even more interesting is that this chart also closely reflects the colours that relate to the energy centres of the body called chakras. This makes eating polyphenol rich foods easy to prescribe!

Eating a variety of vegetables and fruits is critical to good nutrition. Try 6 cups of vegetables a day and 1-3 cups of fruit per day. Choose foods for their vital nutrient function in ways that serve the needs of your body.

Plant Power!

Turns out, mother nature has packed a punch of power in the plant kingdom. Many plants contain one or more of these 5,000 nutritional perks that helps us:

  • Defend against pathogens, parasites, and predators.
  • Protect against chronic disease, including cardiovascular disease, neurodegeneration, and cancer.
  • Purify and renew the blood
  • Nourish
  • Cleanse body of toxins
  • Stimulate effects
  • Relaxing effects
  • Anti-inflammatory

So next time you are in the grocery store, hit the fresh produce aisle and think “Eat a Rainbow”! You just might find the gold that exists at the end of it…your good health.

From the heart and research of Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND.

Dr. Laura: Is Your Thyroid Tired ?

Perhaps your thyroid needs a check-up? It does if you feel sluggish, tired, constipated, have difficult concentration, and are a wee bit depressed.

Subclinical hypothyroidism is when a patient with sluggish digestion, cognition, fatigue and weight issues has a high TSH but normal T4. It is important to look at the reasons for the symptoms, which could have multiple causes, before reaching for the thyroid hormone replacement drug.

Don’t let the sunset on your thyroid…

What nutrients help the thyroid?

Nutrition is a factor. Consider levels of zinc, iodine, selenium and iron as they all play a role in thyroid function. B12 is also an important one to look at and easy to run the labs to determine its status.  Also the health of the gut microbiome and liver needs to be healthy as a large amount of the inactive T4 converts to the active T3 thyroid hormone in the liver and the gut. So many people have issues with the balance in their microbiome.  

Does stress play a role?

Another area of thyroid health to consider is the stress axis. This involves the hypothalamus, pituitary and adrenal, or HPA. Chronic long term stress can make it difficult for optimal thyroid function. In addition to mineral level attention, it is highly important to support the adrenals and provide opportunities for stress management.  

Are there natural thyroid medications?

Finally, there are other options to synthetic thyroid. Natural desiccated thyroid (NDT) may be something to consider if diet and lifestyle changes don’t break through the fog. NDT provides both T4 and T3, which is good if there is an issue with conversion.

How can a naturopathic doctor help?

Naturopathic doctors are medical trained and naturally focussed. They can run labs for the nutrient levels, thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), T4, T3, and any antibodies to help rule out autoimmune thyroid disease. This helps determine what nutrients might be missing and what foods or nutraceutical dose to suggest and for how long. Naturopathic doctors with education in pharmaceuticals are able to prescribe natural desiccated thyroid. They are also very good at stress management and adrenal (HPA-axis) support with both nutrition, lifestyle and stress management programs.

Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND is a board certified naturopathic doctor with advanced training in pharmaceuticals, functional medicine and stress management. She is a Heart Math Certified Practitioner, a graduate of the Kresser Institute’s Adapt Level 1 functional medicine training and is a Certified Gluten Practitioner.

Naturopathic Medicine Week

Join us in celebrating the goodness in life!

Root Cause Medicine

Do you want to figure out the root cause of your problems?

Need to remove obstacles to health and support the body’s natural mechanisms of healing? Naturopathic medicine might be a good choice for you. Look below for the oath we take as naturopathic doctors. Learn about some of the extras Dr. Laura M.Brown, ND has under her wings of expertise and find out how to get the care you need.

Naturopathic Doctor’s Oath

I dedicate myself to the service of humanity as a practitioner of the art and science of naturopathic medicine.

By precept, education and example, I will assist and encourage others to strengthen their health, reduce risks for disease, and preserve the health of our planet for ourselves and future generations.

I will continually endeavour to improve my abilities.

I will conduct my life and practice of naturopathic medicine with integrity and freedom from prejudice.

I will keep confident what should not be divulged.

I will honour the principles of naturopathic medicine:

  • First to do no harm.
  • To co-operate with the healing power of nature.
  • To address the fundamental causes of disease.
  • To heal the whole person through individualize treatment.
  • To teach the principles of healthy living and preventative medicine.

Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND helps people better digest food and the world around them.


Certifications

Registered Naturopathic Doctor

Certified HeartMath® Practitioner

Certified Gluten Practitioner

ADAPT Trained Practitioner

Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND is a registered naturopathic doctor with a Functional Medicine approach.  She has advanced training in pharmaceuticals, is a certified HeartMath Practitioner and a Certified Gluten Practitioner  and holds the designation of ADAPT Trained Practitioner from Kresser Institute, the only Functional Medicine and ancestral health training company.

The Healing is Within

Your physical, emotional, cognitive and spiritual aspects are wholly considered.

You will engage in skills that lead to long-lasting health and wellness.

Community Engagement

 Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND engages regularly in opportunities to speak and teach at various community events.

Need More to Feel Comfortable?

 www.naturalaura.ca

 ca.linkedin.com/in/laurambrown 

Book a 15 min free consult by calling 519.826.7973

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Dr. Laura: Understand PMS

Premenstrual Syndrome, or PMS can come in a variety of patterns. A whirlwind of emotions, cravings and weight gain often come in tote with the monthly menstrual cycle. Better understand the impacts of the monthly swing in hormones and get the help you need to live a more balanced life.

PMS-A: Anxiety

Anxiety or irritability can come from estrogen excess or progesterone drops. This imbalance in the two major female hormones can make some feel like they want to crawl out of their own skin. Increased levels of estrogen in the second half of the period can allow adrenaline to build up and alter the serotonin balance. Natural treatment includes supportive measures for estrogen clearance, progesterone building herbs, regular moderate exercise, a healthy diet and stress management.

PMS-C: Carbohydrate Craving

Cravings for sweets and refined carbohydrates, feeling hangry, tired or having a headache all fall under the category of PMS-C. Abnormal variations in blood sugar may be a factor of magnesium levels – and this gives into the common cravings for chocolate as dark chocolate is high in magnesium. Noteworthy: a change in serotonin levels can also increase sugar cravings. Therefore, factors in insulin regulation are key and are a focus of treatment. Finally, herbal formulas are also available to reduce the satisfaction of sweets and crush the cravings.

PMS-D: Depression

In addition to anxiety, mood changes throughout the cycle can also lean towards depressive states. Symptoms that suggest the need to modify the stress response include crying, fatigue, headaches, feeling overwhelmed or out of control, and difficulty sleeping. Adaptogenic herbs may be helpful to support the stress response. Chinese formulas and botanical medicine formulas that include nerviness, anxiolytics and antidepressants can be very effective in PMS-D treatment. Certainly, nutraceuticals may also be helpful to modulate levels of serotonin, GABA, and dopamine and thyroid hormone levels should also be monitored, especially if the periods are heavy. Neurotransmitter hormones can be evaluated with take home urine tests called Organic Acid Tests (OATs).

PMS-H: Hyperhydration

Fluid retention is a common PMS complaint. Breast tenderness and distension, bloating, weight gain, swollen hands and feet can all be classified under PMS-H. An increase in circulating aldosterone levels is linked to decreased progesterone and magnesium with increased estrogen. Reduce salt and sodium intake (bread and cheese) and increase sources of potassium (bananas, baked potato with the skin, dandelion leaf tea). Treatment of Liver Qi stagnation with acupuncture and Chinese formulas are often very good at reducing PMS-H.

Naturally Navigate PMS

Naturally navigate your health with Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND

Naturopathic doctors can provide individualized treatment to manage hormones. The whole body is considered, the physical, emotional, cognitive and spiritual. When it comes to hormone balance, the naturopathic tool box is rich. Bring balance to your hormones and bring balance back into your life.

Start your evaluation on your own!

Start your evaluation on your own! Use Clue, the period and ovulation tracker, which is a free Ap for iPhone and Androids. Take note of your diet with the use of aps that help you track dietary, lifestyle and nutritional habits. Bring all this to your first appointment. You may also be a good candidate for a take home urine test. Stress and reproductive hormone can be assessed with an at home urine test, (DUTCH), available and interpreted with your naturopathic doctor.

Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND is a Naturopathic Doctor, a Certified Gluten Practitioner, a HeartMathCertified Practitioner and is a graduate of Adapt Level 1 at KresserInstitute of Functional Medicine. Essentially, Dr. Brown helps people better digest their food and the word around them.

Dr. Laura: Boost your energy

The energy powerhouses of cells are called mitochondria. These tiny organelles are derived solely from our mother’s DNA and are reposible for generating the energy our bodies need to run.

Mity Mitochondria

  • Make up about 10% of our body weight
  • 200-2000 per body cell
  • relies on the fats, carbohydrates and proteins we eat
  • loves to run on ketones
  • Needs nutrients like calcium, B vitamins, CoQ10, N-Acetyl-Cysteine, Magnesium, Alpha lipoid acid, lysine

Energy Drains

Fatigue comes from drains on the mitochondrial function. This can happen with any type of toxic burden:

  • long term nutrient deficiency
  • poor sleep habits
  • hormonal disruption
  • eating too much in general
  • eating too much sugar
  • excessive exercise
  • heavy metals
  • viruses and spirochetes (Lymes)
  • pesticides
  • plastics, PCB’s
  • drugs
  • mold

Signs of Mitochondrial Dysfunction

Unexplained fatigue, the need for more than 8 hours of sleep on an ongoing basis, poor exercise recovery, impaired sense of smell or taste, headaches, poor motivation, depression, anxiety, brain fog, forgetfulness, extra sensitive to light and noise – are all indicators of poor mitochondrial dysfunction. While other things may be at play like poor thyroid function, hypothalamus, pituitary or adrenal function, it is important to also consider the mitochondria.

Boost Your Energy

Support the mitochondria and reclaim your energy. An initial naturopathic appointment will start the process to understand the source of your energy drain. Together a same day plan could initiate the changes required to boost energy.

Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND

Dr. Laura on Potassium Levels

Potassium is a mineral that dissolves in water and carries and electrical charge. Easy to see how it can act as an electrolyte.

Nerve, muscle, and heart function all depend on the appropriate level of potassium.It is absorbed in the small intestine and excreted mostly in the urine, and some in the sweat and stool.

The kidney is the main regulator of potassium levels, so if it is healthy and you are getting regular food sources of it, there likely is no reason to be concerned about the levels of potassium in the body.

Potassium’s role in the body.

  • fluid and electrolyte balance
  • maintains nerve and muscle growth
  • balances pH (acid/base balance)
  • contributes to heart function
  • assists in the use of carbohydrates and proteins
  • interacts with blood pressure
  • supports healthy metabolism and blood sugar regulation.

 

Food sources of potassium

  • acorn squash
  • artichokes
  • bananas
  • citrus
  • dried fruits
  • dark leafy greens
  • dried beans
  • legumes
  • nuts
  • potatoes (white and sweet)
  • soy
  • tomatoes
  • cod
  • salmon

Low levels of potassium

Potassium deficiency, or hypokalemia may be noted by fatigue, weakness, muscle cramps, heart palpitations, cardiac arrhythmia’s, hypertension, and postural hypotension. Trouble is, low potassium looks very much like high potassium, however it is more likely to have low levels

Low serum potassium can be caused by inadequate dietary intake, certain drugs, dialysis, plasmapheresis, increased potassium entry into the cells, decreased potassium exit from cells, and increased losses in the urine, gastrointestinal tract, or sweat.

High levels of potassium

Hyperkalemia rarely produces physical symptoms. Excessive potassium can disturb heart and skeletal muscle function, cause nausea, fatigue, muscle aches and weakness and increased respiratory rate.

Some medications can lead to higher than normal potassium levels:  ACE (angiotensin-converting enzymes), some antibiotics, anticoagulants, ARBS (angiotensin-receptor blockers), beta-blockers, COX-2 inhibitors, cyclosporine, antifungals, NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs- Advil, Motrin), and potassium sparing diuretics.

Fasting, high blood sugar, metabolic acidosis, kidney insufficiency are all contributors to high levels of potassium.

Measuring potassium

Unless there is a state of severe deficiency, it can be difficult to assess proper levels of potassium. Blood serum levels may be normal, while blood cellular levels deficient. Beyond this, levels in the muscles may not reflect either the levels of blood cell or serum.

So long as the kidneys are functioning well and no drugs (as mentioned above) interfere,  there is generally no need to worry about higher intakes of potassium, as it will be sufficiently excreted.

References:

Kresser, Chris. 2018 Adapt Level One Blood Chemistry Manual. www.kresserinstitute.com

Lavalle, James. 2013 Your Blood Never Lies. Square One Publishers Garden City Park, NY.

Gaby A. 2011 Nutritional Medicine. Fritz Perl Publishing Concord, NH.

Dr. Laura: 5 ways to strengthen your immune system

Immune system need a boost? Support it with one or a combination of these top five natural ways. A strong immune system means less colds and flu, especially through this winter and early spring season.

As a start, be sure to wash your hands regularly with soap and water keep indoor humidity around 45-50%. Then, visit your naturopathic doctor to find what is the best combination of these five following things you need to strengthen your immune system.

1. Probiotics

2. Adaptogens

3. Medicinal Mushrooms

4. Vitamins

5. Minerals

 

Probiotics

We know that 70% of your immune system resides in the gastrointestinal tract, so it makes perfect sense to keep a healthy balance of your microflora. Research in probiotics is very active and there may be new strains available to help you balance yours.

Adaptogens

The adrenal glands are little hat like glands that sit atop the kidneys.  When you think of cold weather, think of hats and think of adrenal support. Resilience to stress can keep illness at bay but when we are constantly under stress at work, at home and toxins build up from pesticides, environmental factors, drugs, allergens – we need help. There are a number of adaptogenic herbs like holy basil, ashwagandha, ginsengs, liquorice, schisandra, codonopsis, astragalus and rhodiola that can be custom blended to support your needs.

Medicinal Mushrooms

Medicinal mushrooms can be an amazing support for the immune system. Helpful are hot water extracts of mushrooms like maitake (Grifola frondosa), reishi (Gandoderma lucidum), Cordyceps, shitake (Lentinus edodes), turkey tail (Coriolus versicolor), and sun mushroom (Agaricus blazei). It is possible to get these in different combinations and even in packets to make a “tea”.

Vitamins

Vitamin A, C, E top the list for immune support. Oranges, citrus and bell pepper provide Vitamin C.    The beta-carotene in orange and red vegetables will convert to Vitamin A in most people. Cod liver oil is a viable direct source of vitamin A.  Wheat germ oil and almonds pack a punch of vitamin E. There are formulas available that combine these vitamins with some minerals and they can often be a sure way of getting the support you need every day.

Minerals

Zinc, Selenium and Magnesium are truly critical for the immune system to function. A varied diet will often provide enough. Bone soup broths are a great, as are pumpkin seeds for the zinc, brazil nuts for the selenium and dark leafy greens for the magnesium.

 

This blog does not constitute medical advice. Natural products can interfere with existing medical conditions and prescription drugs. Be safe and get the knowledge and advice of a naturopathic doctor.

From the heart and mind of Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND