Dr. Laura: Wheat & Gluten Sensitivity Testing


There are over 100 proteins in wheat, which includes gluten, but is not limited to gluten.

Every time any of us eats gluten, some damage is done to the small intestinal lining. For most, it recovers and repairs in about twenty minutes . For those who are genetically susceptible it may take up to five hours. Then the next meal comes. Over time, repeated meals containing gluten repeat the damage, with little time of repair and recovery and eventually the body cannot keep up. Some trigger point of stress or illness may make it more difficult for the recovery. Then the signs and symptoms may show up. Not everyone has traditional symptoms of fatigue, weight gain, bowel issues, pain, gas, or bloating. Some have apparently no symptoms at all.

Gluten sensitivity plays a role in things like:

  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • autism
  • schizophrenia
  • cerebellar ataxia
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • fertility
  • autoimmunity
  • celiac disease
  • dermatitis herpatiformis
  • polymyalgia


A lot of gastroenterologists know how to screen for celiac disease, they’ll typically test for antibodies to alpha-gliadin, transglutaminase-2, maybe if they’re current with the scientific literature they’ll also screen for antibodies to deamidated gliadin and endomysium.

If some of these tests are positive, then they might do a biopsy to determine if there is damage in the small intestine. If the tests are negative, the patient’s generally told that they don’t have celiac or gluten intolerance and that’s as far at it goes.

However, research shows that people can and do react to several other components in wheat above and beyond alpha-gliadin, the fraction of wheat that is involved in the pathogenesis of celiac disease, and these include other epitopes of gliadin like beta-gliadin, gamma-gliadin and omegagliadin; glutenin, which is the other major half of the wheat protein; wheat germ agglutinin, which is a lectin in wheat; gluteomorphin; and deamidated gliadin. What’s more, people can react to other types of tissue transglutaminase, aside from tGT-2, including type 3, which is primarily found in the skin, and type 6, which is primarily found in the brain and nervous system tissue.

If this is you, the gluten you eat may affect your brain or your skin, or maybe your muscle, but you will be completely missed by conventional testing. I emphasize – just because the two markers your conventional doc tests your for come back negative, it does not mean you are not free from wheat related damage. Also, just because you do not have symptoms you think are related to wheat, doesn’t mean you are free from its (potential) body-wide damage.

How do I find out?

Enter Cyrex Array 3 testing. It is the most comprehensive form of wheat sensitivity testing available today. It involves a simple blood test and will test for the two markers your conventional doctor sends for plus 22 other markers.  You’ll have to confirm this at time of testing as pricing can vary. You will need an appointment with Dr. Laura M Brown, ND, Certified Gluten Practitioner, before and after your test. Dr. Laura will help interpret the test and proved direction for next steps. Dr. Laura has extended training in diagnosing and treating gluten related disorders.

Now it is important to note that Cyrex Array 3 will not diagnose Celiac, only the gold standard of positive intestinal biopsy will prove that, but it can tell you how strong the markers related to Celiac or other forms of non-celiac gluten sensitive (NCGS).


Here’s what the test results look like:


Test Prep:


This is a blood test that measures antibodies. As such, in order to improve the accuracy of

your test results, you must ensure adequate exposure to wheat beginning 25 to 30 days

before you schedule your blood draw.

Exposure to wheat allows your body to form antibodies if you do have sensitivity. Avoiding wheat before this test could cause a false negative result, meaning that the test states you are not sensitive to wheat when you actually are intolerant.



For more information visit www.cyrexlabs.com or book an appointment with Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND at Forward Health.


Dr. Phil Shares: 8 Yoga Poses for Stronger Knees

8 Yoga Poses for Stronger Knees

Yoga can be daunting for those with knee problems. Unfortunately, that’s a lot of us, myself included. Below are the yoga poses I used to strengthen my knee after surgery.

Three years into my yoga career, I suffered a meniscus tear. Physical therapy, ice, and painkillers were not enough to ward off surgery. I had to go under the knife.

My bones and tendons blocked the doctors from seeing the exact location of the tear in ultrasounds, so exploratory surgery had to be performed before the surgeon could fix the problem. By the time they were done, my leg looked like it had been beaten with a meat tenderizer and my muscles and soft tissue were in a sorry state. Giving up my career as a yoga instructor was not an option for me, so I took the time to learn how to protect my knee by strengthening the muscles that support it.

Here are the exact yoga moves I practiced to strengthen and stretch my knees. However, make sure to always seek advice from your physician before beginning any exercise or rehabilitation regimen, especially if you have any unique or special medical conditions related to your knees.


5 Yoga Poses for Stronger Knees:

1. Supported Chair Pose (Utkatasana)

This pose will strengthen the quadriceps, hamstrings, and abductors. It also increases blood flow to the lower region of the body, which can help with fluidity of movement. Chair pose is typically practiced away from the wall, but that may require more strength than your knees are able to handle at the moment, so use the support of a wall if you need it. Place your feet hip distance apart. Lean your back up against a wall and slide down until your knees and ankles are parallel with each other. You can place your hands on your thighs or reach the arms towards the ceiling. Hold the pose for a few breaths then slide back up. Repeat several times. As your legs get stronger, increase the number of breaths you hold the pose.

Yoga for the Knees Chair Pose

2. Supported Bridge Pose (Setu Bandasana)

Bridge pose is a yoga asana that helps properly align your knees while strengthening your back, glutes, and hamstrings. Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and walk your feet toward your bottom until you can just touch your heels with your fingertips. Step your feet out hip distance apart and place a block horizontally on the floor between your feet. This will help keep everything in place. Press into all four corners of the feet, the inside and outside edges as well as the heel and the balls. Draw your navel in toward your spine and press your lower back into the ground. Tuck your tailbone in and lift your bottom from the ground. Lift as high as you can without compromising your form (your knees should remain hip distance apart and parallel with the ankles). To get an added stretch in the chest, you can roll your shoulders under your body and interlace your fingers underneath you. Hold this pose for a few breaths then release the upper back first, then mid back, then finally lower your lower back and tailbone to the floor. Repeat a few times.

Yoga for the Knees Bridge Pose

3. Supported Half Moon Pose (Ardha Chandrasana)

Balancing poses can be very beneficial when it comes to building the muscles that help the knee. However, if your knee is currently inflamed, you want to avoid anything that will put this much weight on the joint. By using the support of a block, you can work on strengthening the muscles in this pose and stretching the hamstrings without putting stress on your knee. The first time you do this pose, use an empty wall and a block for support. Stand with your back to the wall and rotate your right foot so that the outside edge of the foot is parallel with the wall. Place the block in your right hand, bend your right knee, and shift your weight so you’re balancing on the right leg. Set the block on the floor a few inches in front of your right foot and press your right hand into it to help straight the right arm and leg. Rotate the left side of your body upward so that your back is either in alignment with the wall behind you or leaning on it. Your left leg should be lifted and parallel with the floor. Your left arm should create a straight line with the right arm. Hold for a few breaths and increase the amount of breaths as you get stronger.

Yoga for the Knees Half Moon Pose

4. Mountain Pose (Tadasana)

Mountain pose will teach you proper alignment that may help ward off new knee injuries and help you become aware of the muscles you need to engage to protect the knee. To get into the pose, stand with your feet hip distance apart, lift all your toes up, spread them wide, and then rest them back down on the floor. Press into the floor with all four corners of the feet to evenly distribute the weight of the body. As you press into your feet, engage your calf muscles. Engage the quadriceps and internally rotate your inner thighs to widen your sits bones. Tuck your tailbone in, and engage the glutes. Tighten your abs. Pull your shoulders back and down. Make sure your shoulders are stacked over your hips and ankles. Lift your chin and pull it back slightly so it is parallel with the floor. Relax the muscles in your face. Take several deep breaths and notice the muscles you have engaged to create proper posture. Hold this pose for approximately 10 breaths.

Yoga for the Knees Mountain Pose

5. Triangle Pose (Trikonasana)

A common problem with those who suffer from knee injuries or weakness is a strong vastus lateralis (the outer part of your quadriceps) and a much weaker, underused vastus medialis (the inner part of your quadriceps). Trikonasana is a pose that will strengthen the muscles that support the inner quad. Step your feet out in a wide stance so your left foot is parallel with the back of your mat and your right foot is turned out at a 90 degree angle, parallel with the inside horizontal edge of the mat. Bend your right knee so it lines up with the ankle and hip. Press into both feet and straighten the right leg, engaging the inner part of your quad and thigh. When this muscle is engaged, you will notice it is impossible to lock your knee. However, when you disengage the muscle, it will hyperextend and lock (you should avoid this). Reach your right arm straight down and rotate upward with the left side of your body. Line up your arms so they’re in a straight line and keep your core engaged. For support, you can place your right hand on a block, but be sure to keep the core engaged as you reach up to the sky with the left side of your body. Hold for a few breaths, disengage, and then repeat.

Yoga for the Knees Triangle Pose

3 Yoga Poses to Stretch The Knees:

It’s important to not only strengthen the knees but also to stretch them. You can make knee injuries worse if the muscles are so tight that they decrease movement fluidity. Here are 3 poses that stretch the knees and the supporting muscles without causing pain. Again keep in mind that each person is different and very few injuries are exactly the same, so make sure to seek advice from your physician before beginning.

1. Wide-Angled Seated Forward Bend (Upavistha Konasana)

Many of the poses that stretch your legs and hips tend to torque the knee in a way that can be quite painful for those who have knee weakness and pain. Konasana is a great pose that will stretch out the whole back of the body as well as the hips, inner thighs, and groin. To get into this pose, straddle your legs out in the widest stance you can comfortably place them. Flex your feet to activate the leg muscles. Place your hands on the ground forward in front of you and slowly walk them forward until you feel the stretch. Keep your spine straight and elongated throughout the stretch. If you find that your spine creates a C shape when you start to fold, place a blanket under the sits bones to lift yourself slightly off the floor. Hold this pose for 8 to 10 breaths. Follow it up by pulling the legs together and the knees into the chest.

Yoga for the Knees Seated Wide Angle Forward Bend

2. Easy Pose (Sukhasana)

Lotus is a common pose that that is held at the beginning and end of each yoga class and can be a real pain in the knee. So, instead of sitting with both feet in the crooks of your thighs, simply cross your legs and gently place one in front of the other. Keep in mind that the deeper the bend in the knee the higher the chance of pain, so you may not have a perfect crossed leg look. That’s okay. You also have the option of sitting on a blanket to make the pose more comfortable and placing blocks on either side of the knees. This pose will stretch your knees and ankles. Sit up tall and breathe deeply for about 8 to 10 breaths, increasing the amount of breaths as you feel more flexible over time.

Yoga for the Knees easy pose

3. Child’s Pose (Balasana)

This is a gentle knee stretch that can be intensified the closer you can move your bottom toward your heels. Props are necessary for those with tight, sore knees. Start on your hands and knees (with a blanket under the knees for protection). In the full, unmodified, pose you’d have your feet together with your toes untucked, knees separated so the belly can rest between the thighs, bottom sitting on the heels, and forehead on the mat with the arms extended out. Modify as you need. Consider decreasing the degree to which you part your knees. Use blankets behind the knees or on the heels. This pose can be held for 8 to 10 breaths and then increased slowly as you become more flexible.

Yoga for the Knees Childs Pose

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph

Dr. Laura: Acupuncture- More than pain relief

Acupuncture releases natural pain killers, promotes blood flow, stimulates hormonal balance, relaxes tight muscles, calms anxiety, lifts depression, and promotes digestion.

This ancient Chinese therapy effects every major system of the body, including the cardiac, gastrointestinal, circulatory, cerebral, genitourinary, endocrine and immune systems.

Traditional Chinese medicine

Get to the point…

Some people explain acupuncture in terms of energy and meridians. While this is not wrong, it would be equally right to explain that the energy is based on nerve conduction and proper firing of the nervous system.

Each acupuncture point is a small area about 1cm in diameter. They are where groups of nerves meet below a small opening in the facia. Needling these points, electronically stimulating or even applying vibrational therapy or direct pressure activates the points. This will help dissipate energy that has built up or, alternatively, stimulate the flow of energy to the area.

Did you catch that? Needles are only one way to stimulate the point. If you don’t like needles and wish to try a needle free way of stimulating the points, there are alternatives.


1. Relieves pain.

2. Reduces inflammation.

3. Brings balance in the body.


What’s in it for me?

Acupuncture is a drug free way to address:

  • TMJ/ jaw clenching
  • sciatica
  • blood pressure
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • inflammation
  • joint pain
  • acute injuries
  • frozen shoulder
  • PMS
  • bursitis
  • arthritis
  • fatigue
  • common cold
  • headache
  • sinusitis
  • insomnia
  • muscle tension
  • PCOS
  • tinnitus
  • ulcerative colitis
  • vertigo
  • weak immune system
  • fertility

Usually relief is found after the first 30 minute treatment. It typically takes 4-8 treatments to restore balance and heal the body. Sessions can be daily, biweekly, weekly. For maintenance, once a month.

Under Ontario regulation, Naturopathic Doctors are able to perform acupuncture. If claiming under your benefit plan, it will be considered as “naturopathic services”.

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

Dr. Phil Shares: 5 Tips For Getting Fit When You’re Plus Size

5 Tips For Getting Fit When You’re Plus Size

Starting a fitness journey is always a challenge, but it may feel even more daunting when you’re carrying a few extra pounds. If it’s been awhile since the last time you laced up your sneakers, you may not be 100 percent sure what you’re still capable of — which can make it a little intimidating to hit the gym alongside people who look like chiseled bodybuilders and aspiring fitness models.

But “fit” comes in many shapes and sizes — and you can always nail fitness goals in your own living room with Beachbody On Demand if the gym isn’t exactly your happy place. Here are a few tips for getting in shape, no matter what your shape is.

1. No workout is off limits.

Have you ever seen a workout that looked intriguing, but you were concerned you didn’t have the “right” body type for it yet? Maybe you want to try martial arts, but you’re worried that you lack the mobility, coordination, or power to execute a jab/cross/snap kick combo like a Muay Thai fighter. Or you want to try yoga, but you can barely hold downward dog.

Put those worries aside. If a workout program looks fun, such as Beachbody’s YOUv2 (an upbeat dance-inspired program for beginners), don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and try it — because you’re more likely to stick with a workout program you actually enjoy. Plus, you can always do the modifiers (i.e., the less advanced variations of exercises) in the workouts in programs such as CORE DE FORCE or 21 Day Fix until you build the strength and mobility needed to execute the main exercises. “Be brave enough to try,” says Jericho McMatthews, Beachbody Super Trainer and co-creator of CORE DE FORCE. “Start with the modifier — even if you’re struggling to complete all the repetitions — and stick with it. You’ll get there.”

(Not sure what kind of workout style will motivate you the most? Test some out on Beachbody On Demand until you find one that inspires you.)

2. Don’t underestimate your fitness abilities.

Your weight or BMI (body mass index) can help you determine your starting point, but they’re not the only (or even the best) way to measure fitness.

Instead, gauge your progress by how strong and energetic you feel, and when you notice your workouts getting easier, go harder. “A lot of people get really safe about using modifications,” McMatthews says. “They don’t realize how fit they’re getting, and how fast they’re getting stronger.” If you begin to notice that the modifiers aren’t leaving you out of breath and drenched in sweat by the end of a workout, it’s time to move on to the main moves.

3. Get the right workout gear.

Splurging on workout gear might feel kind of vain, but it isn’t just about taking awesome sweaty selfies — the right gear can keep you comfortable and even help prevent discomfort and injury. A supportive sports bra can keep everything in place during plyometric (jumping) exercises, for example. Moisture-wicking fabric can prevent chafing between the thighs.

Working out with the right shoes is vital for many reasons. Unless you’re running, stop wearing running shoes when you exercise. Their thick treads can trip you up during MMA-inspired programs like CORE DE FORCE, their raised heels can sabotage stability and form in muscle building-focused programs like Body Beast, and their extra cushioning can throw off your balance during dance-inspired programs like YOUv2. Consider purchasing training shoes instead. (Need help picking a pair? Use our guide help you find the perfect shoes for any workout.) “Everyone’s feet are different, so it’s not one-size-fits all,” McMatthews says. “But for anyone — especially anyone who’s plus-sized — make sure you have a shoe that supports the workout you are doing.”

4. Pay attention to your technique.

Proper form is always important. Not only does it help you get the most out of the exercise, but it can also help you reduce your risk of injury. “It’s really important to make sure your technique is there — especially if you’re carrying around more weight, because you need to protect your joints,” McMatthews says. Beachbody’s PiYo (part pilates, part yoga) and 3 Week Yoga Retreat are great programs for those wanting to take it easy on their joints since they are both low impact.

Whatever program you choose, take it slow when you’re first learning a move, and listen to the form cues from the instructor. “Work on proper alignment and proper technique so you’re avoiding injury — and getting better results, as well,” says McMatthews. It can be tempting to go full-throttle from the get-go, but that can backfire — if you get hurt, you won’t be able to work out for awhile.

5. Set non-scale goals.

Don’t let the scale be your only barometer of success — look for other signs that you’re getting stronger and slimmer. Have you lost an inch off your waist? Are you using heavier weights than you were last month? Can you hold a 10 seconds plank longer? Do you see a thinner profile when you look in the mirror? “Focus on non-scale victories, like how you’re feeling during the workouts and if you have more energy during the day,” McMatthews says.

That includes emotional victories, too, such as feelings of pride and confidence following a tough workout. The keys to meeting fitness goals are to stay positive and not get discouraged. Stay consistent and be patient — results will come. “After a tough workout, a lot of people feel like a new and improved version of themselves, regardless of how much weight they have lost,” says McMatthews.



Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health

How to get fit when you're overweight

Dr. Phil Shares: What To Eat To Shed The Pounds

 There’s no getting around it — if you want to lose weight, your nutrition game needs to be on point. As the saying goes, you can’t outrun a bad diet.

But, there’s nothing worse than suffering through a diet that makes you miserable — especially when you still don’t see the results you want. Many fad diets are based on rules that are easy to memorize — No starchy carbs! Fast for 16 hours every day! — but are impossible to sustain.


Eating healthy isn’t supposed to be a temporary blip. If you want to lose weight and keep it off, it takes commitment.

If that sounds daunting, it’s probably because you’re used to diets that kind of suck. But they don’t have to. Eating healthy isn’t about swearing off your favorite foods and nibbling on kale leaves all day. It’s about learning to fuel your body the right way and understand how to eat so you can lose weight without feeling deprived.

One of the most important lessons you can learn from losing weight successfully is how to eat healthfully. For the rest of your life.

We favor nutritionally balanced, long-term approaches to weight loss, but the truth of the matter is that counting calories, calculating macros, monitoring portion sizes, or even cleansing may or may not help you lose weight for a variety of reasons, many of which have to do with sustainability.

So, we’re not going to provide you with a list of 25 foods to eat that are “good” for weight loss. If that’s what you’re looking for, check out the detailed recommended food and beverage lists in the Beachbody Portion Fix Eating Plan or any Beachbody program nutrition guide.

But keep in mind that these are just places to start your healthy eating education. We want to drive home the facts that it’s your weight to lose, it’s your preferences, and it’s your life that should help guide you to what you should eat — not only to lose weight, but also to live a more vivacious life.

This isn’t to say that you won’t need to retrain your palate to accept whole foods without much adornment (ie., lots of added salt, sugar, and unhealthy fats), or that you won’t need to sacrifice the richness of some of your favorite comfort foods (we’re looking at you, mac and cheese) for healthier, slimmed-down versions, or that you won’t need to trim back on portion sizes. You will likely need to do all of these things in order to lose weight.

But, the key mindset to embrace is that you do have choices. You ultimately get to determine what will and won’t go into your weekly meal plans. What you eat to lose weight shouldn’t be all that different from what you eat to maintain your health after you shed the excess pounds. So, yes, you’ll likely need to cut calories to lose weight, but you’ll also need to learn how to eat differently to maintain your results.

No matter which way you prefer to cut calories, you should focus on improving the quality of the calories you do ingest first and foremost. We’ve reduced it to three simple steps you can start today to maximize the calories you do consume when you want to lose weight.


 and Eat Healthy

 1. Drink water first and most.

When you’re trying to lose weight, cleaning up your diet also means watching what you drink. If done right, juices or shakes can be healthy weight-loss tools to enhance your nutrition plan, and Shakeology is a good way to assure you’re getting plenty of nutrients when eating at a deficit (or anytime!). Just try to keep your calories from beverages to a minimum (most Shakeology varieties contain about 160 calories per scoop).

Of course, water is calorie-free and incredibly good for you. Beachbody recommends you drink your body weight, divided by two, in ounces. So if you weigh 150 pounds — that would be 150 divided by 2, which equals 75. That’s 75 ounces of water you should be drinking every day. To a die-hard soda drinker (even a diet soda drinker) or someone who doesn’t think about hydration much at all, this might seem like a lot of extra trips to the bathroom. To make all that plain water more palatable, try:

  • Carbonated water. Try flavored varieties without added sugar, artificial sweeteners, and caloriesUnsweetened tea. Use caffeine-free tea if desired, and spruce up the flavor with lemon or lime slices, or muddled fruit
  • Adding sliced citrus, cucumbers, strawberries, pineapples, or fresh mint leaves
  • Adding citrus peels
  • Flavoring with natural combos: ginger + cucumber + mint, or pineapples + orange peel, or strawberries + kiwi + basil.

Your mom may have told you as a 5-year-old not to fill your belly with liquid so you’d eat some dinner, but feel free to defy that rule as an adult. In fact, one study published in the journal Obesity asked 84 obese adults to either drink two cups of plain water before their main meals every day for three months, or to imagine the feeling of being full. Those who drank water before their meals lost about 2.6 pounds more than those who didn’t. These findings suggest that drinking water before your meals may be an easy way to take the edge off hunger, and possibly stop you from eating too much.


2. Replace refined, processed foods with whole ones.

It may seem obvious that in order to lose weight and eat healthier, you need to cut way back on fried foods, creamy casseroles, and sugary confections, but it may seem less obvious what to eat instead.

As much as possible, try to cut back on highly processed foods, such as frozen meals, packaged snacks, sugar-laden cereals, bottled sauces, meats with added preservatives, etc. Instead, choose whole foods, such as vegetables, fruits, raw nuts and seeds, lean proteins (ie., chicken, turkey, eggs, tempeh), healthy fats (ie., avocados, hummus, extra-virgin olive oil, nut butters), and whole grains (ie., oatmeal, barley, whole-grain bread, brown rice).

Whole foods provide nutrient-dense fuel that contribute to greater satiety (when compared to processed foods).

The naturally occurring fiber, water (in foods like fruits and vegetables), or protein in these foods can contribute to an increased feeling of satisfaction — often with less food (read: fewer calories).

Protein can help you feel satiated longer than carbohydrates or fat. This may be due to increased thermogenesis (the metabolic process of your body burning calories), which influences that physiological “I’m satisfied” feeling you have after consuming higher amounts of protein.

Fiber, a form of carbohydrate found in plants that humans lack the enzyme to digest, helps us feel fuller on fewer calories. A food diary analysis of successful MyFitnessPal (MFP) users (defined as those who came within five percent of their goal weights) revealed the faithful food trackers who came closest to their goals ate 30 percent more fiber. That may seem like a lot, but really the difference was only three grams per day more than other MFP users — the equivalent of having one small apple or swapping a traditional English muffin for a whole wheat one.

3. Add volume with vegetables.

Volumetrics is a way of eating that may help you feel satisfied by consuming foods with low calorie density, or less calories for any given amount. It’s essentially a fancy way of telling people to eat the majority of their calories from mostly vegetables and fruits.

Low calorie density foods such as apples are higher in fiber and water, so you’re able to eat more in volume for a similar amount of calories (compared to a higher calorie density food such as apple pie). There’s evidence to say that fiber helps you feel fuller faster, and keeps you satiated long after you eat. A small study did find that water incorporated into food (as in the case of soup) did help subjects eat less, but not if that same amount of water was served in a glass on the side.

One study confirms that when people eat foods low in energy density, their total daily calories are significantly less than when they eat foods high in energy density.

If you’re hoping that eating more whole foods will help you lose weight, you’ll want to eat these foods in lieu of processed foods, not in addition to them. Because, in the end, weight loss generally boils down to eating fewer calories.

Dr. Phil Shares: How to Reduce Holiday Stress!

How to Reduce Holiday Stress

The topic I’m going to address today is how to handle holiday stress with greater ease.

If you think about it, we could make “holiday stress” a great opportunity to teach us how to manage “any time” stress. A great place to start is having our priorities straight so you’re clear on what matters and what doesn’t.

5 Tips for Holiday Stress Relief:

1. Write in your journal

Now is a good time to sit down, take a deep breath, and write in your journal to help you get organized and remember what the holidays are really about.

First, write down everything that needs to be handled. Then identify things that you can let go of or delegate to someone else. Even if you need to handle everything, taking the time to write it all down will help you feel less overwhelmed.

Now that you have written down and organized your to-do list, think to yourself, “What will be my state of ‘being’ while I’m doing all of these things? Will I be joyful or stressed, grateful or overwhelmed?” And, write a paragraph on this topic. Asking these questions is really important if you want the holidays to be something you actually enjoy. The busyness of the holidays doesn’t have to cause stress if you choose a calm and joyful way of being as you check off tasks from your to-do list.

Next, let’s get more specific. Write down how you would like certain aspects of the holidays to go. How would you like to experience cooking the holiday meal or having people over? While cooking, will you feel angry that you have to cook such a big meal, or curious and excited about making a new dish for your family? Or, while shopping, will you feel obligated or resentful that you have to buy for so many people, or grateful that you have the means to buy presents to begin with?

Now, make two columns in your journal. In one column, write the names of the people you are buying gifts for. In the second column, write what you are grateful for about this person. Leave out all the things they have or haven’t done, or what they’ve said or didn’t say – all of that ultimately doesn’t mean anything. Instead, write how they contribute positively to your life. Then take this list with you shopping so that the present you purchase is an expression of your appreciation for them. This can help you remember what the holidays are really about: celebration and gratitude for our friends and family.

2. Keep things in perspective

Rather than truly celebrating family and friends, we often get caught up in how things “look.” We worry about the holiday cards, or whether our hair and outfits look alright, or if we ordered enough pies for everyone. When you start to spiral into worry, go back to your shopping list of names and why you’re grateful for these people – does it really matter if your hair looks perfect that day?

I’m not saying to show up to your holiday events in your pajamas, but by choosing what you focus on, you can allow whether a certain situation will create stress or joy within you. Are you going to focus on whether your outfit looks perfect or focus on the joy you experience with your cousin who you haven’t seen in a while? You have a choice. Consciously choosing gratitude and joy will create positive situations and bring you closer to those you love.

And, if you’ve mastered this level of focused decision-making during the holidays, you can easily apply it throughout the year when there are less distractions.

3. Consider the past

Here is another topic to write about in your journal: What are the memories that get stirred up during the holidays? Which memories create a clenching in the pit of your stomach, or a fear-based emotion, or that feeling of “here we go again.” What creates that in you? Write them all down, be very real about it. Don’t let your mind take hold of the negative emotion and spiral you down into the same old pattern – nothing will change that way.

So write these memories down in your journal and what they stir up in you, then write whether they really matter in the grand scheme of things – get some perspective. And then consider whether you should communicate with someone so that this pattern doesn’t happen again, or just let it go. In either case, make that change internally to change that pattern. Do it now before it’s too late and suddenly it’s Christmas Eve and the same situation occurs. Also, write down enjoyable holiday memories and prioritize doing those activities again this year.

4. Learn to say “no”

If you have always lived the holidays with great stress, but have not done anything about it (as if the outside world will suddenly shift for you and make it all good), then nothing will change because at the end of the day nothing and nobody makes you feel in any way other than how you choose to feel, what you choose to allow in your field. That is very important to remember.

Because there are so many challenges, the holidays present so many amazing opportunities to take control of your life and to empower yourself. Let’s say you’ve cooked the turkey for your family for 30 years but never enjoyed the task, this is your opportunity to finally say “no.” You’re not a victim, you don’t owe anything, so don’t disempower yourself. If you don’t like having 50 people over every Hanukkah, but you allow it to happen because you’re not willing to experience the consequences of saying “no,” then you are allowing resentment to exist in you, once again. Am I saying that changing a pattern is easy? Of course not, but you must always remember that your life is under your control.

If spending quality time with your husband and children during the holidays is important to you, then make the time. Be more organized about the shopping, start way ahead as opposed to waiting to the last minute. Choose the events that you want to attend, and say “no” to the rest. Be empowered in what you are deciding to celebrate this year.

5. Make it a holiday for YOU

It is crucial for your well-being to learn what is important to you, and to prioritizing these things during the chaotic holiday season. It’s important to be very real and honest about the things that you never enjoy doing and yet, you still do them over and over again. You allow these situations to destroy your peace every single year. What is up with that? What would happen if you spoke up and said, “stop”? Make the holidays something different this year; make it a holiday for you, for how you feel.

Every day of this celebration, actually celebrate by having the courage to eliminate that which is not important to you. This allows a clearing for what does bring you joy. For example, if you’re not spending days in the kitchen preparing a meal for 50 people, you’ll have more time to play games with your children.

Try it and do your best not to feel obligated. If you feel guilty, engage with that experience with compassion and kindness for yourself. Remember, everybody is caught in the whirlwind of the holidays and the guilt of it all. We are all doing the best we can, so it’s nobody’s fault. But, you are in charge of what this holiday season could be for you and your family.

So, I invite you to be in a state of celebration for yourself this holiday season. In your journal, write: “What if this holiday was exactly what I wanted it to be. What would that look like? What if I had the courage to sit down with my family and discuss what we wanted to do and what we did not want to do this year?” Wouldn’t that be nice?

With these intentional actions – which are ultimately actions of love for yourself and the people who are important to you – you can make this year a true celebration, a true holiday, a true honoring of each other, peace, joy, and well-being. I hope this was helpful, thank you.

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph

Dr. Phil Shares: 10 Ways to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

10 Ways to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

Do you find that the scale moves up a few pounds during this time of the year? During summertime, we’re focused on our bodies, given we know we’ll be wearing the revealing clothing that goes with the season. But when fall and winter come around, that mindset falls away like autumn leaves. Maybe it’s our primitive instinct to bulk up when the weather gets colder; it probably also has a lot to do with our busy holiday shopping and social schedules interfering with our regular workouts, and with all the tasty holiday treats lying in wait to tempt us everywhere we turn, regardless. But don’t let the layers of clothing become layers of fat. These tips can help you avoid holiday weight gain this season.

Avoid Holiday Weight Gain With These 10 Simple Tips

Staying healthy and fit during the holidays isn’t impossible. You just need the right tools! With convenient workouts you can do at home on Beachbody On Demand, and a craving-crushing drink like Shakeology, it will be easier than ever to end the year on a healthy high note.

1. Travel smart

Many people find themselves traveling during the holiday season, but that’s not an excuse to eat unhealthily and avoid exercise. Plan your meals in advance, and pack snacks when you are either on the road or in the air. Good travel snacks can include nuts or dried fruit. To help you be a happier traveler, get a good night sleep before you leave to increase your mood and alertness. Eating a heavy meal before traveling can make you sleepy, so eat a small, low-fat meal before you head out the door.

2. Get enough sleep

Try to keep a regular sleep schedule and get a full night’s rest as often as you can. If you fail to get a good night sleep, it can make you grumpy the next day and make it harder to focus on your healthy goals. No one wants to travel with a grouchy person, so do everyone a favor and get some shut eye. Sleeping well can also help you reduce your calorie consumption, because it inhibits the release of the appetite-stimulating hormone ghrelin while promoting the release of leptin, another hormone that limits hunger. And keeping that hunger in check is a good idea when you find yourself surrounded by holiday goodies. Check out these natural sleep remedies to help you get some shut-eye.

3. Drink enough water

You’ve probably heard it before, but we’ll say it again: drink water! During the busy holiday season it can be easy to forget to fill up enough cups with H2O, but it can do wonders with keeping you healthy. It helps regulate your body temperature, helps with the digestion of food, and it can help you limit your caloric intake. How? Try drinking a glass of water before each meal, and you’ll likely feel more satisfied on less food because your stomach already has some liquid in there. And if you alternate alcoholic drinks with a glass of water, you’ll slow down your consumption of high-calorie beverages. If you don’t think a glass of plain old H2O is appetizing enough, here are 10 tasty ways to add flavor to your water.

4. Approach cocktails with caution

We’re not telling you to avoid alcohol completely – wine is allowed in Portion Fix after all! But do pace yourself by having at least one glass of water in between each drink (see tip #3). Remember that one gram of alcohol contains seven calories, and yet it yields virtually no energy or health benefits. Calories from alcohol can add up quickly, so be mindful of how much you are drinking. Also, drinking may reduce inhibitions at the dessert buffet, which can lead to a few too many sugar cookies. If you do indulge in eggnog, which is super-high in calories in its traditional form, try this lighter version that clocks in under 150 calories.

5. Get an accountability partner

The holidays are filled with temptation, and it’s your job to stop it in its tracks. But…that can be really tough to do on your own. If you need some assistance in fighting the temptation of cookies and cocktails and candies (oh my!), don’t be afraid to ask for help. An accountability partner can help you stick to your goals when your willpower gets a little shaky. Tell a family member that you’re trying to eat healthier, so they can give you a gentle reminder when you’re eyeing that second slice of cake. Or, get a group of friends and do morning workouts together. You’ll probably find that power in numbers is a key part in avoiding holiday weight gain. And if you can’t confide in someone in person, then try reaching out to a Team Beachbody Coach, who can help you stay on track even from afar.

6. Use screen time wisely

Who says the TV can only be used to watch classic holiday movies and rivalry sports games? Take over the screen for a few minutes and turn on one of your favorite Beachbody On Demand workouts. Don’t worry, you won’t have to be using precious TV time for hours at a time, there are plenty of workout that are less than 30 minutes! You can even get the whole family involved with the kid-friendly Double Time program, or the fun dance routines in Country Heat. And you don’t have to hog the TV. You can also cue up Beachbody On Demand on your computer, tablet, or phone. And when you you do decide to cozy up for a made-for-TV holiday film, encourage your family to get up in between commercials for some jumping jacks or push-ups. Make it a competition to see who can do the most during the break and watch the sibling rivalry do some good for once.

7. Make recipes healthier

Most recipes can be made healthier without compromising the recipe. Just check out how Autumn and Bobby Calabrese do it on FIXATE, Beachbody’s healthy cooking show. With a few substitutions, you can limit unnecessary salt, sugar, and fat in some of your favorite holiday recipes…and we doubt that your guests will notice. Here are some of our personal favorite holiday recipes made healthier, like Gingerbread Protein Pancakes and Herb-Crusted Beef Tenderloin.

8. Avoid serving food family-style

When food is placed right on the dining table, it’s much easier to grab a second helping. So make it harder: Keep the extra food away from the dining room. If you leave it in the kitchen, out of sight, it forces everyone to think about getting up to grab another helping. Here’s a tip: If you still feel hungry after your first plate, wait for 15 minutes and drink a full glass of water, then decide whether you want more food.

9. Eat smaller amounts more often

Instead of starving yourself all day so you can overindulge in that one, giant meal, have smaller meals throughout the day. At family holiday gatherings in particular, it’s asking too much to resist the lavish aromas of the kitchen, so being mindful of your portion sizes is important. You can still enjoy all your family-favorite recipes – just enjoy them in moderation. You’ll likely feel much better at the end of the meal that way.

10. Stay active

Whether you cue up a workout on Beachbody On Demand or gather up the troops for a walk around the block, regular exercise can help with so many of the challenges you face during the holiday season. It can help you cope with the stress of traveling by releasing endorphins that help boost your mood and energy. At the airport, if you have time, walk beside those moving sidewalks instead of standing and letting them carry you to your terminal. If you’re traveling by car, take frequent breaks, get out of the car, walk around, and get some fresh air. If you’re staying home for the holidays, get the family involved! Depending on the climate, go ice skating, hiking, sledding, skiing, biking, or walk the dog. And go for a walk together after your big meal—it’ll help you all digest better.

Wrapping Up

We’re not asking you to deprive yourself of any holiday cheer. Just be aware of your body and the temptations and pitfalls it faces this season. Because the holidays have a way of testing your self-control, it’s a good idea to have a plan in place well in advance for dealing with them. That way, you’ll have a better chance of avoiding holiday weight gain and remaining on your regular regimen of exercise and dieting. You can even make it your New Year’s resolution to keep a healthy lifestyle and continue working toward your goals.

Shared By Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph

Dr. Phil Shares: 7 Common Low-Carb Diet Mistakes

7 Common Low-Carb Diet Mistakes


There’s an equal amount of confusion and hype surrounding a low-carb diet.

Research shows low-carb diets can be an effective way to shed pounds — although not necessarily superior to weight-reduction results achieved by other diets, such as a low-fat or reduced-calorie diets.

But a low-carb diet plan isn’t as straightforward as the name might have you believe.

“A low-carbohydrate diet can have a wide, unclear definition,” says Holly Klamer, M.S., R.D., “but in general terms, it means following a diet that has less than 45–65 percent of [total daily] calories from carbohydrates.”

(For reference, the recommended carbohydrate range for adults, according to the 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, is 45–65 percent of total daily calories.)

Some low-carb diets, like the modern Atkins diet, for example, limits trans fat and sugar in addition to carbs, while a ketogenic diet drastically reduces carbs and replaces them with fats.

In general, however, most low-carb diets focus on limiting refined grains and starches (like white bread, pasta, and potatoes) in favor of lean protein, whole grains, non-starchy veggies, and low-glycemic fruits.

But with so much varying information out there, it can be easy to misinterpret a low-carb diet or to implement its principles in an extreme or unsustainable way.

The intention behind the diet — to reduce the amount of unhealthy carbs you consume on a regular basis — isn’t inherently a bad idea, but you need to be smart about how you execute it. Here are seven common mistakes to avoid.

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7 Common Low-Carb Diet Mistakes

1. Ignoring the nutritional value of carbs

Carbs aren’t the enemy. There are plenty of nutritious and super yummy carbohydrates you can and should be eating in moderation. Think: fruit, whole grainsbeans, and vegetables, to name a few.

These foods provide our bodies with the natural, sustained energy we need to function and stay active. “A carbohydrate-dense fruit such as a banana can give you the fuel you need to increase the intensity of your workout; [you might] burn more calories [as a result],” says Klamer.

High-quality carbs are also chockful of vital nutrients like B vitamins, potassium, fiber, and vitamin C. Klamer says reducing your carbohydrate intake to super low levels puts you at risk for deficiencies in these areas.

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2. Eating too much unhealthy fat

Eating low-carb isn’t an excuse to go nuts on beef, pork, eggs, butter, cheese, and other foods with high trans or saturated fat content.

Eating a diet high in trans fat isn’t heart-healthy, says Sharon George, M.S., R.D., C.D.N. Consuming high levels of trans fat may cause your liver to produce more LDL cholesterol, the “bad” cholesterol.

According to the American Heart Association, too much “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and not enough “good” cholesterol (HDL) may put you at risk for certain types of disease.

In fact, one study carried out by the Harvard School of Public Health found that a low-carb diet high in animal protein (dairy and meat) was associated with higher all-cause mortality, while a low-carb diet high in plant protein (veggies, tofu, lentils, etc.) and lower in trans fat was associated with lower all-cause mortality rates.

Monitoring saturated fat intake is also an approach to maintaining good cardiovascular health. One review of research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition investigated the issue of what to replace saturated fat with in the diet.

Researchers found that substituting saturated fats with polyunsaturated fats and limiting consumption of refined carbohydrates may be beneficial for overall health.

The overall takeaway: Cut back on trans and saturated fat consumption, while also reducing refined carbs (think: white bread, pasta, rice, sugary pastries, cookies, etc.).

Instead, eat healthy fats, such as mono- and polyunsaturated fats, as well as omega-3 fatty acids. Great sources of these types of fats include salmon, flaxseeds, walnuts, avocados, seeds, nuts, and extra-virgin olive oil.

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3. Misunderstanding portion sizes

If you don’t have a basic idea of portion sizes — say, what a single portion of brown rice or steel-cut oats actually looks like — you’re likely to either over- or underestimate how much food you need.

Understanding portion sizes can help prevent overeating while also ensuring you consume enough nutrients to fuel your body properly.

(Pro tip: For a crash course in proper portion sizes, Portion Fix’s color-coded containers make it super easy to meal plan and lose weight.)

Denis Faye, M.S. and Beachbody’s executive director of nutrition, says the Portion Fix plan advocates for a healthy balance of macronutrients: 30 percent of your total daily calories from protein, 30 percent from healthy fats, and 40 percent from carbs — the majority of which should be unprocessed and unrefined.

“By going with 40 percent carbs, we’re able to make the majority of carbs [in the plan] produce-based without crushing people [who are] new to healthy eating under a kale, broccoli, and mixed-berry avalanche,” says Faye.

There are three containers for carbs in the system: Purple is for fruits, green is for veggies, and yellow is for other carbs like whole grains. You fill each one up with its corresponding foods anywhere from two to six times a day, depending on your predetermined calorie target range; no measuring or overthinking necessary.

Faye also notes that the 40 percent carbs guideline isn’t a hard-and-fast rule: “Starting your diet at 40 percent carbs allows you to experiment and increase your carbs to a level that best works for you, which is much easier than trying to slowly reduce carbs to find your sweet spot,” he explains.

4. Eating too much protein

“Getting enough protein is hugely important for both health reasons and because it aids muscle recovery,” says Faye. (Protein breaks down into amino acids, which are the building blocks of muscle.)

Eating less carbs certainly means you’ll need to eat more protein (especially if you want to crush your workouts), but it’s important not to go overboard.

“When [your] carbohydrate intake is significantly decreased, the body starts breaking down stored carbohydrate sources [glycogen, for energy],” says Klamer. “When these stores get depleted, the body will start altering fat and protein to make carbohydrates.”

Gluconeogenesis (which means “creating new sugar”) is the metabolic process by which the liver converts non-carbohydrate sources (like fats, amino acids, and lactate) into glucose to regulate blood sugar levels.

Gluconeogenesis usually occurs when your body doesn’t have sufficient carbohydrates to properly fuel your brain and muscles.

Amino acids (the building blocks of protein) can’t be stored for long-term energy, which means the body has to convert this excess protein into either glucose or fat storage, possibly negating the effect of eating low-carb and making it more difficult to lose weight.

To avoid getting too much of a good thing, aim for protein to make up a solid 30 percent of your diet, not half. For ideas, check out these healthy, high-protein snacks for when you’re on the go.

5. Not considering activity level when determining carb intake

“Carbs are fuel. They’re massively important and the body is super efficient at processing them, which is a blessing and a curse,” says Faye. “If you get the right amount [of carbs], they’re the ideal fuel for exercise, health — even for fueling your brain.”

But what’s the ideal amount? That depends, in part, on your level of activity and how much weight you want to lose. If you exercise a few times a week and make a point to move often throughout the day, you probably don’t need more than 40 percent of your daily calories from carbs. This amount ensures you get enough carbs to energize and fuel your body, but not so many that you can’t burn them off through regular exercise and your daily 10,000 steps.

Just remember, the carbs you eat should be of the clean, whole-grain variety: fruit, vegetables, quinoa, sweet potatoes, or wild rice, for example.

6. Eating too many carbs

Just as it’s possible to eat too few carbs when starting a low-carb diet, it’s also possible to eat too many.

What constitutes an excess of carbs varies for each individual depending on metabolism and activity level, but in general, consuming more than 45 percent of your total daily calories from carbs isn’t technically a low-carb diet plan, according to the 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

If carbs make up half or the majority of your food consumption, you may be missing out on other essential macronutrients like lean protein and healthy fats. Protein is necessary for building muscle, and healthy fats provide our bodies with energy, aid in nutrient absorption, and facilitate cell growth and function.

7. Eating too many processed low-carb foods

Just because a food is low-carb doesn’t mean it’s automatically healthy. Highly processed foods like bacon, certain deli meats, and low-carb snack bars don’t have many carbohydrates, but they’re often loaded with excess sodium, trans fats, and other additives.

Eating low-carb foods with refined and processed ingredients may not provide you with the nutrients you need to feel satisfied and energized. Before you load your shopping cart or plate with any item that has a low-carb label, consider the quality of the food in front of you.

If a food contains refined grains, artificial additives, added sugar, or ingredients you can’t pronounce or wouldn’t cook with at home, it’s probably highly processed.

Whenever possible, choose whole or minimally processed carbs. “Naturally occurring carbohydrates like the ones found in whole foods such as whole grains, dairy like yogurt and milk, and fruits and vegetables, provide important nutrients,” says Gorin.

How to Reduce Your Carb Intake in a Healthy Way

Go slow

Adopting new eating habits takes time and patience, which is why it’s important to go slowly and be realistic about your expectations for weight loss.

“Many people get discouraged when starting a low-carb diet because it can take weeks to see results [from actual fat loss],” says George. Though you might see a lower number on the scale in the first week of eating low-carb, this change is probably a result of losing water weight.

The process of shedding fat and gaining muscle, however, might be more gradual. If that’s the case, remember that slow and steady wins the race.

Cut back on less-healthy carbs first

“If you’re looking to reduce carbohydrate intake,” says Gorin, “I recommend reducing the types of carbs that aren’t beneficial — [like] processed foods that contain added sugars and refined [grains].”

Items such as soda, candy, desserts, chips, and other processed foods don’t supply your body with enough vital nutrients. You don’t need to completely nix these foods from your diet, though (unless you want to!).

Instead, aim to enjoy them sparingly and with smart modifications. With Beachbody’s Portion Fix Eating Plan, for example, you can indulge in the occasional treat made at home using whole foods and natural ingredients, such as unsweetened applesauce, pure maple syrup, or extra-virgin coconut oil, to make treats like peanut butter chocolate chip cookiesstrawberry lemonade bars, or red velvet cupcakes.

Eat carbs with more nutritional value

“If you are choosing to eat less carbs, it is important to make the carbs you do eat as nutritious as possible,” says Klamer. Try to eat low-glycemic, high-fiber carbs whenever you can.

Low-glycemic carbs such as legumesnutssweet potatoes, berries, and green apples help stabilize blood sugar levels and provide longer-lasting energy, says Klamer.

For more fiber and nutrients, Klamer recommends whole-grain bread, whole-wheat pasta, and brown or wild rice. Other fiber-rich foods include black beans, lentilsbroccolibarley, artichokes, and raspberries.

(Pro tip: Need ideas on how to lose weight and get fit? Download our free “100 Ways to Lose Weight” guide here!)

High-Quality, Nutrient-Rich Carbs

Not sure which carbs to enjoy? Here are some examples of totally delicious and Portion Fix-approved carbs to add to your diet:

*Yellow container:

  • Sweet potato
  • Quinoa
  • Beans (kidney, black, garbanzo, white, lima, fava, etc.)
  • Lentils
  • Edamame
  • Peas
  • Brown rice
  • Wild rice
  • Potato, mashed or ½ medium
  • Corn on the cob, 1 ear
  • Oatmeal, rolled
  • Pasta, whole-grain
  • Couscous, whole wheat
  • Bread, whole-grain, 1 slice
  • Pita bread, whole wheat, 1 small slice (4-inch)
  • Bagel, whole-grain, ½ small bagel (3-inch)
  • Tortilla, whole wheat, 1 small (6-inch)

*Green and purple containers:

  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Peppers (sweet)
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Cabbage
  • Winter squash
  • Raspberries
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries
  • Watermelon
  • Orange
  • Mango
  • Peaches
  • Pineapple
  • Figs

The 20-Second Takeaway

Many people who start low-carb diets take them to extreme measures, and can end up drastically reducing their carb intake, consuming large amounts of unhealthy fats, or not incorporating enough nutrient-rich carb sources into their meals.

That doesn’t mean low-carb diets are bad, though — they can be an effective weight-loss strategy, but you need to be thoughtful about the approach you take.

In general, focus on limiting processed and refined carbs, and eating more high-quality carbs from whole grains, fruits, and veggies. You’ll gradually lose weight and get all the nutrients you body needs to thrive.


Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @Forward Health Guelph

Dr. Laura: Is it aging or low B12?

B12 deficiency has been estimated to affect about 40% of people over 60 years of age, and about 40% of the general population are on the lower end of normal.

Vitamin B12 deficiency can look like the signs and symptoms of diseases that are commonly associated with aging such as Alzheimer’s, dementia, cognitive disorders, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, and other neurological problems; depression and anxiety; cardiovascular disease; cancer; and low libido. If someone you love has these symptoms, best to get there B12 levels checked and supplement if help reduce the symptoms.

Supplementing with an active form of B12 can help reduce inflammation, which has improved symptoms of arthritis and eczema.

Vitamin B12 works with folate to make DNA, red blood cells and the insulating sheath around the nerves to help with nerve signalling. This is why when I inject B12, I always include folate with it.

Causes/Risks of B12 deficiency

  • Vegan/vegetarianism
  • Intestinal malabsorption due to low stomach acid
  • Celiac disease
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Pernicious anemia (an autoimmune condition affecting our ability to absorb B12)
  •  Atrophic gastritis (usually H. pylori infection in the elderly)
  • Long term use of Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPI’s)
  • People on Metformin therapy

If someone you know or love fall into any of these categories, best they get tested even if they don’t have symptoms, as deficiency can start before the symptoms show up.

Symptoms of B12 Deficiency

  • not much if  it’s mild
  • weakness
  • fatigue
  • strange sensations
  • numbness, or tingling in hands, legs, or feet
  • difficulty walking such as staggering or balance problems
  • anemia
  • a swollen, inflamed tongue
  • yellow skin
  • jaundice
  • difficulty thinking and reasoning
  • memory loss
  • paranoia or hallucinations

Testing for B12

It is easy to run a B12 test, however there are other blood and urine markers that can provide a more complete picture, such as methylmalonic acid (MMA) and homocysteine. Homocysteine may be more sensitive and accurate for detecting the early stages of B12 deficiency. When I run tests, I look at things from a functional medicine perspective and this may involve the more complete profile.

If there is an absorption issue suspected, we need to identify and correct that, if possible. Further testing and treatment may be required to do that.

The results of the tests are also interpreted differently when you come to see me. I look at things from a functional range – your optimum level of performance- not the point at which you have disease. The conventional medical system in North America regard a low B12 to be below 200 pg/mL. This is the point where irreversible neurological damage can happen. I prefer to go at the guidelines set out by Europe and Japan – somewhere over 550 pg/mL.


Best to get B12 from animal based sources – strongest providers are the organ meats (liver, kidney) and seafood like oysters and clams. To get ahead quickly or to supplement a vegan or vegetarian diet, you will need activated B12, so hydroxy or methyl based cobalamin are the best. If there is intestinal absorption issues, then you’ll need a pill to dissolve under the tongue or an injection to provide the boost. What I carry in the clinic is an activated form of B12/B complex so it absorbs easily and we see good results on the before and after blood work, or we can go for the injection – usually weekly for a month and then once a month for a few months. Then we re-test.


Dr. Laura M. Brown ND is a Naturopathic Doctor with a Functional Medicine approach. She is a Certified Gluten Practitioner, A HeartMath Certified Practitioner and is engaged in ongoing education with the Kresser Institute of Functional Medicine.

Dr. Laura: Surprising Number of Conditions Linked to Celiac Disease

I just received this post… hot off the press from the World Congress of Gastroenterology. We learn about all the conditions that are linked to Celiac disease. This means if you have migraines or anxiety attacks, more people with Celiac have them than not. Or, if you have a specific type of rash called dermatitis herpatiformis, you are pretty well guaranteed to have celiac. Have a look at the chart below and see if you have any of the following conditions and then look at the odds ratio that you may have Celiac Disease.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition related to the ingestion of gluten, or wheat. Wheat has over 100 proteins in it and gluten and gliadin are just two of these proteins. Your body can launch an immune attack to any of these proteins, then these could cross react with tissues in your body including your brain, liver, pancreas, skin muscles, or as in Celiac, your small intestinal villi. If your villi are damaged, then you are not absorbing vitamins, minerals and nutrients. So this can additionally lead to things like B12 deficiency (depression, brain fog, neuropathy) iron deficiency (dizzy, weak, pale), or osteoporosis.

Conventional medical testing will look at 2 markers for these proteins immune reactions. Functional Medical tests that I run will cover 24 markers, including these 2 from conventional means. You have to pay for both tests out of pocket, so I figure you may as well run the more complete test to get the bigger picture of what’s going on in your body. The broader testing means we can catch wheat related diseases – non-celiac gluten related disorders like cerebellar ataxia (problems with balance and walking) or wheat addiction (it’s like opioid addiction!) or tell it if is reacting with you muscles (polymyalgia?) or skin.

Table 1. Prevalence of Diagnoses in People With and Without Celiac Disease (P < .0001 for All)

Diagnosis With Celiac Disease, % Without Celiac Disease, % Odds Ratio
Migraine 18.6 4.1 5.5
Anxiety disorder 25.9 8.7 4.0
Arthritis 28.9 8.4 4.9
Dermatitis herpetiformis 1.3 0.0 4563.5
Liver disease 23.2 4.2 7.1
Gastroesophageal reflux disease 36.8 13.0 4.5
Eosinophilic esophagitis 0.6 0.1 8.8
Atrophic gastritis 3.9 0.1 8.0
Glossitis 0.4 0.1 4.4
Pancreatitis 15.8 0.7 25.0
Disorder of the pancreas 17.2 1.1 19.0
Cerebellar ataxia 0.1 0.0 4.1
Autism 4.0 0.2 19.9
Colitis 25.9 4.2 8.4
Turner syndrome 0.1 0 17.8
Down syndrome 0.6 0.1 8.1
Common variable immunodeficiency 0.2 0.0 10.2