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. Laura: How Sugar Ages the Brain

Vulnerable populations with long term unmanaged blood sugar levels are subject to brain atrophy (shrinkage) and accelerated brain changes including memory loss and cognitive decline.

Memory Lapses?

Vulnerable populations with long term unmanaged blood sugar levels are subject to accelerated brain changes including memory loss and cognitive decline. 

Who’s most at risk?

Most at risk are those with Diabetes type I and II monitor sugar regularly and those with metabolic syndrome or cardiovascular disease. 

But that’s not all. 

Anyone with long term fluctuating blood sugar levels could be at risk for cognitive decline. So those with chronic stress are also at risk. Stress elevates cortisol, which subsequently activates sugar into the blood stream. This is really helpful when we need the energy to physically run from the tiger.  However, in our day in age, the tiger is more likely to be the boss, the lack of sleep, the poor diet, or the overscheduled.  Stress, namely long-term cortisol release, affects the microbiome. Certain drugs like antibiotics and oral birth control pills can also change the microbiome. Shifts in populations of gut bacteria can evidently impact blood glucose regulation. Overgrowth of candida can make us crave sugars and leave us in a state of flux or what we have now termed “hangry”. 

If you are the hangry type, you likely have issues with blood sugar. 

A state of blood sugar surges and crashes overtime will lead to unfortunate hippocampus affects, namely sugar induced shrinkage and memory challenges. 

Those at risk:

  • long term fluctuating blood sugar levels
  • history of oral birth control use
  • history of antibiotic use
  • diabetic patients on metformin
  • elevated cortisol
  • chronic stress
  • poor diet
  • lack of moderate regular exercise
  • disrupted sleep patterns

What’s a healthy blood sugar level?

Guidelines for healthy levels are subject to some interpretation, however from a functional medicine point of view, HbA1c should be between 4.6 and 5.3% and fasting blood sugar levels are healthiest around 4-6mmol/L. Note that those with red blood cell disease like sickle cell anemia, which change the shape of the blood cell, HbA1c is not a reliable marker and other markers like triglycerides, and fasting blood sugar levels must be taken into account. 

Protect your brain

Protect memory and cognition with adequate blood supply, high levels ofanthocyanins, appropriate levels of B vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids and a diet low in sugar and high in fibre, protein and healthy fats. Caution with drugs like metformin, which help regulate blood sugar in diabetics and is associated with cognitive decline. Apparently, this could be due to a number of factors, and not just the drug directly; it is therefore important to monitor B2 (riboflavin), B6, B12 when on metformin. 

It is important to include in the diet:

  • high levels of anthocyanins
  • plant powers found in dark blue and purple fruits and vegetables
  • consistent intake of B-vitamins 
  • egg yolks, red meat, liver, clams, mussels, avocados and dark leafy greens
  • daily dose of omega-3 essential fatty acids
  • cold water fatty fish like salmon and sardines
  • flax, hemp and walnut

Is diet alone enough?

Is diet enough to keep up with the demands of cognitive decline? It is difficult to know as diets of many individuals need to be followed for years and it is difficult to control what people eat on a daily basis for any length of time. First and fore most get what you can from the diet, yes, this is critical as the body knows best how to get nutrients from food. Insulin sensitivity is an important factor in blood glucose regulation and a short-term keto diet and or fasting is proven to be effective method to reset it. 

Reduce the risk factors as indicated above and get help to re-set the microbiome. That means create a sleep routine where you go to bed and wake up at the same time every night. Move your body every day for about 30 minutes. It means to have space in the day that is not filled with tasks and demands. Take appropriate supplements where diet falls short or medications deplete. 

Memory and cognition decline over time. It doesn’t happen overnight. So too should your changes and lifestyle reflect a long-term plan. If you feel you need help, Naturopathic Doctors are trained in lifestyle and laboratory analysis, diet, nutrition and nutraceuticals. 

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 Free Practitioner  and holds the designation of ADAPT Trained Practitioner from Kresser Institute, the only functional medicine and ancestral health training company.

References:

Cui X, Abduljalil A, Manor BD, Peng CK, Novak V. Multi-scale glycemic variability: a link to gray matter atrophy and cognitive decline in type 2 diabetes. PLoS One. 2014;9(1):e86284. Published 2014 Jan 24. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0086284

Zhao X, Han Q, Lv Y, Sun L, Gang X, Wang G. Biomarkers for cognitive decline in patients with diabetes mellitus: evidence from clinical studies. Oncotarget. 2017;9(7):7710–7726. Published 2017 Dec 14. doi:10.18632/oncotarget.23284

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: Strengthen Super Powers of the Immune

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What you’ll learn

Build your immune super powers to stay strong and healthy. Once you get a cold or flu virus, most remedies only lessen the severity of symptoms. The real trick is to build an army of defense and prevent the invading virus or bacteria from taking hold. This is important year-round, but especially as the cold and flu season emerges.  In this one-hour educational seminar meet your 38 trillion partners in health and learn the most important nutrients, medicinal plants and personal habits that will increase your stamina all winter long

Register today!

Call 519.822.8900 to reserve your spot for September 25th at 5:30pm.

About

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.

Dr. Laura: New tests in mental health

Are imbalances in your brain chemicals and hormones affecting your sleep, work and pleasure in life?

Check each of the following that apply to you:

  • I wake feeling unrested
  • Sleep is difficult for me
  • I am always tired, fatigued or lack lustre for life
  • Concentration and focus are a challenge
  • My motivation is low
  • I am always forgetting things
  • I am often irritable and grumpy
  • My sex drive is low
  • Weight control is difficult and my love handles or muffin top are embarrassing
  • Hormones drive me crazy (PMS, menopause)

There are possible safe, painless and natural non-prescriptive drug solutions to help!

Break free!

Did you know?

  • Increased cortisol may cause insomnia, hyperactivity and decreased thyroid function and poor memory
  • Low dopamine may result in poor focus, low libido, and depression with exhaustion
  • High glutamate may contribute to anxiety, sleeplessness and irritability
  • Lower serotonin levels may lead to depression, anxiety and insomnia
  • Epinephrine and norepinephrine may increase anxiety, hyperactivity, insomnia and insulin resistance
  • Low GABA may lead to increased anxiety, insomnia and irritability.

How does imbalance occur?

Many factors contribute to disruption in our delicate system balance. Poor diet, stress, environmental factors, lack of or too much exercise and sleep, stimulants, genetics, even medications can deplete and offset the harmony.

How do you fix this?

Take home lab kits from Sanesco and Precision Analytical are now available for neurotransmitter and hormone analysis. The tests collect the urine breakdown products of serotonin, dopamine, GABA, epinephrine, norepinephrine, glutamate, melatonin, cortisol, estrogens, progesterone, androgens and more. The kit is shipped and the lab company runs the tests and provides the results back to the doctor. Nutritional analysis through lab drawn blood work is also available to evaluate vitamin and mineral status. Laboratory results will guide clinical decisions with clarity and focus.

Results above are an example from Sanesco’s urine test.
Results above are an example of the DUTCH hormone test

Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND can help evaluate where to start, access the tests kits and provide blood requisitions for you and subsequently interpret the results. Individualized protocols are the heart of naturopathic medicine. Diet and lifestyle adjustments are first and foremost, then where needed, vitamins, minerals, and nutraceuticals may be added to help balance the body and get you back to feeling yourself.

Dr. Laura: Opioids have lasting affect on the microbiome

Pain medications that include opioids have a lasting negative affect on the gut microbiome. Have you ever taken a Tylenol #3 with codeine? Had an operation and needed pain killers like meperidine (Demerol) or morphine? Or a prescription for oxycodone (OxyContin®) or hydrocodone (Vicodin®) to help relieve intense pain? Opioids are a class of drugs that also include the illegal drug heroin, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl.

Consequences of opioid use are well known. If overdosed, it suppresses breathing function. Also commonly experienced at prescribed levels are: constipation, nausea, vomiting, bloating and “leaky gut” (gut barrier dysfunction). There is an evident change in bacterial colonies and bile acid production is also affected. Bile acids are used to break down fats and digest food. Gut barrier dysfunction can lead to multiple food sensitivities and chronic inflammatory patterns like headaches, joint pain and brain fog. All of this disruption can increase risk of infectious disease.

Support of the microbiome with probiotics is key to health maintenance. Research continues on which would be most beneficial during opioid therapy. Critical is the restoration of a healthy microbiome post surgery, opioid pain medications or even addiction.

Naturopathic doctors excel in identifying food sensitvities, removing unwanted microbes, repairing and restoring gut function.

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.

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5827657/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26906406

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27895265

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.

Dr. Laura: Signs of Blood Clot

Swelling, tenderness, redness in the legs, shortness of breath and or chest pain are all signs of a blood clot. This is an emergent condition and needs to be addressed immediately. To prevent a blood clot, there are plenty of natural remedies that will help.

C-L-OT-S Awareness Campaign

Spread the word on the CLOTS awareness campaign. A clot in blood is the underlying cause of the top three cardiovascular killers: heart attack, stroke and venous thromboembolism (VTE). If symptoms of chest pain, lightheadedness, shortness of breath, leg tenderness and or leg swelling emerge, a visit to the emergency room is best to rule out anything serious.

C – Chest Pain

L– Lightheadedness

O– Out of breath

T- Leg Tenderness

S– Leg Swelling

Natural ways to help thin the blood

Did you know there are a number of natural health products that help thin the blood? Things taken regularly in substantial enough quantities or in combinations like fish oil, curcumin, Dong quai, dan shen, onion, reishi, papain, devil’s claw, garlic, ginkgo, feverfew, ginger, clove oil, horse chestnut, bilberry, kava kava, evening primrose oil, borage, black current, dandelion root, cayenne fruit, green tea, and vitamin  E all inhibit platelet aggregation (thin the blood). These natural remedies also have other actions on the body so you must seek professional advice for what products are right for you. Taking natural remedies to help thin the blood may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular events, and reduce the need or amount of prescription medication.

Naturopathic doctors are trained are medically trained and naturally focussed. Need relief from swelling, pain or fatigue? Call 519 826.7973 or book your appointment online

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. Brownhelps people better digest their food and the word around them.