Bowels that move slow or are difficult to pass are not only uncomfortable, they are unhealthy. It is important we eliminate from our bowels at least once, and up to three times per day. Constipation is an issue affecting up to 20% of the population(1).
When the stool stays in the colon for extending lengths of time, toxins and hormones that have been packaged and processed for elimination are at risk for re-absorption back into the body. Not passing stool frequently enough will lead to a feeling of toxic overload.
What is constipation?
- Irregular bowel movements
- Pass less than 3-5 stools per week.
- Difficulty passing stool.
- Hard stool, requires straining,
- Insufficient, unsatisfactory, incomplete stool
21 Reasons You Might be Constipated
- Diet lacks fibre and vegetables
- Diet too high in proteins and carbs, especially in sugar & starch
- Dairy or wheat sensitivity
- Too much dairy (cheese)
- Other food sensitivities
- Insufficient microflora
- Dysbiosis (overgrowth of the wrong kinds of bacteria in the intestines)
- Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) (root cause may be hypothyroid and migrating motor complex)
- Hypothyroid affecting the migrating motor complex
- Lack of regular daily exercise
- Insufficient water intake
- Supplements such as iron, calcium
- Overuse of laxatives
- Side effects of prescription drugs- painkillers (opioids), anti-depressants
- Irritable bowel syndrome or diseases
- Colon cancer
- Diabetes mellitus
- Nervous system disruption as in spinal cord lesions, MS & Parkinson’s.
Best ways to “get moving” –> relieve your constipation
Laxatives are okay occasionally. Too much use will lead to dependence, which is not how nature intended and don’t fix what’s really happening. Have a look at some of the possibilities of what may cause constipation and see what you can correct. Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND can help you access and interpret many different types of testing.
- Get enough water and get enough soluble and insoluble fibre in the diet.
- Make sure you eat enough vegetables.
- Watch your gluten intake
- Do a food sensitivity test
- Do a comprehensive stool analysis
- Flourish your flora
- Manage your stress
- See if your thyroid is to blame
- Get the full hormone picture
- Test for SIBO
- Look at your iron levels
- Move your body!
- Try acupuncture
- Portalatin M, Winstead N. Medical Management of Constipation. Clinics in Colon and Rectal Surgery. 2012;25(1):12-19. doi:10.1055/s-0032-1301754.
Menopausal weight gain is troublesome and annoying.
Menopausal weight gain can increase risks for cardiac events and insulin dysregulation.
5 Major factors in menopausal weight gain:
- Sex hormone changes
Figure out what’s going on in your body! Learn how hormone levels, including the thyroid estrogen and progesterone, sleep hygiene, physical activity, diet and stress play a role in menopausal weight gain.
Sex hormone changes trigger menopausal weight gain
- When the years leading to menopause set in, ovulation slows down before it stops. Ovulation is required before progesterone can be released. If you don’t ovulate, it creates irregular balances of estrogen and progesterone in the body.
- Chemicals like BPA (plastics), cadmium, phthalates (soaps, detergents), and pesticides contribute to estrogen dominance.
- Low progesterone against pre-declining estrogen makes for relative estrogen excess compared to progesterone. This means estrogen dominance for a time.
- Estrogen dominance leads to poor thyroid hormone availability, reducing metabolism
- If thyroid function is sluggish, this leads to poor estrogen clearance, more estrogen builds up in the body
- Poor thyroid function can lead to weight gain and increase in LDL cholesterol. Elevated LDL cholesterol is linked to increase risk in cardiovascular disease.
- As menopause progresses, estrogen declines. Estrogen decline leads to deposition of fat around the mid section.
Contributing factors to thyroid dysfunction:
- Sagging adrenals (chronic stress)
- Estrogen dominance
- Low iron, selenium, iodine or zinc
- Poor liver function
- Poor intestinal flora.
Factors in sleep disturbance that contribute to menopausal weight gain
Poor sleep leads to disruption in balance of hormones and time for healing in the body. Lack of sleep itself can contribute to weight gain. The years of menopause are riddled with hurdles to a good night sleep:
- decline in estrogen can disrupt sleep due to hot flushes
- Hormone rhythm imbalance from changes in LH, FSH, estrogen and progesterone are thought to contribute to disrupted sleep patterns.
- From a Chinese Medicine point of view, the Liver Yang rises in menopause, which explains why the sleep is typically disrupted between the hours of 1-3 am. This is why, naturopathically, we look to calm the liver, cool the body and build Yin. Acupuncture and specially blended plant medicines can be very helpful.
- sleep apnea (in you or your partner) more prevalent in those who are overweight
- too much technology before bed, or worse yet, in the bedroom inhibits natural melatonin let down. Relative excess of cortisol as it is unopposed by melatonin disrupts sleep and contributes to midsection weight gain
Factors in depression that contribute to menopausal weight gain
Low mood and lethargy generally lend to poor motivation for exercise and healthy habits, which leads often to weight gain.
Here are some common factors in depression and menopause:
- declining estrogen
- sluggish thyroid
- poor nutrient intake
- imbalance in the intestinal bacteria
- inflammation in the brain (usually as a result of imbalance in the intestinal bacteria)
How Stress Relates to Menopausal Weight Gain
In menopause, the ovaries retire and hand over their hormone duties to the adrenal gland. This is why it is important to support the adrenals at this time. How healthy the adrenals are will dictate how well our bodies will manage the stress and the change in hormone levels. Areas we may not think about in stress that could contribute to adrenal fatigue:
- sleep disruption
- inflammation from infections, intestinal dysbiosis, autoimmune conditions
- too much or too little exercise
- poor eating habits
- conditioned stress response (post traumic stress disorder)
- relationships with others
- alcohol intake
- medications and drugs
- not enough fun & play time
How diet affects menopausal weight gain
- Generally with age, metabolism slows down and less caloric intake is required. If activity slows or stays the same and intake is not adjusted, subsequent weight gain is likely.
- Our intestinal tract flora changes as we age, and this changes how estrogen is metabolized.
It is evident that menopausal weight can happen for a lot of reasons. Some of it is a bit of a chickened an egg, like the estrogen dominance and poor thyroid function. It doesn’t matter what comes first, but if not corrected, they build on one another. A naturopathic doctor’s role is to look at the individual as a whole, remove obstacles, rebuild the body and stimulate natural mechanisms of healing. Women who maintain a healthy habits, hormones and weight will help stave off risks for osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Solutions to menopausal weight gain include healthy diet, exercise, sleep hygiene, hormone balancing with acupuncture and plant medicines, nutritional and hormonal supplementation.
Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND
Jung SY, Vitolins MZ, Fenton J, Frazier-Wood AC, Hursting SD, Chang S. Risk Profiles for Weight Gain among Postmenopausal Women: A Classification and Regression Tree Analysis Approach. Hsu Y-H, ed. PLoS ONE. 2015;10(3):e0121430. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0121430.
Franklin RM, Ploutz-Snyder L, Kanaley JA. Longitudinal changes in abdominal fat distribution with menopause. Metabolism. 2009 Mar; 58(3):311-5.
Gietka-Czernel M. The thyroid gland in postmenopausal women: physiology and diseases. Przegla̜d Menopauzalny = Menopause Review. 2017;16(2):33-37. doi:10.5114/pm.2017.68588.
Van Pelt RE, Gavin KM, Kohrt WM. REGULATION OF BODY COMPOSITION AND BIOENERGETICS BY ESTROGENS. Endocrinology and metabolism clinics of North America. 2015;44(3):663-676. doi:10.1016/j.ecl.2015.05.011.
Williams LT, Hollis JL, Collins CE, Morgan PJ. The 40-Something randomized controlled trial to prevent weight gain in mid-age women. BMC Public Health. 2013;13:1007. doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-1007.
Zheng Y, Manson JE, Yuan C, et al. Associations of Weight Gain From Early to Middle Adulthood With Major Health Outcomes Later in Life. JAMA. 2017;318(3):255-272. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.7092.
Karvonen-Gutierrez C, Kim C. Association of Mid-Life Changes in Body Size, Body Composition and Obesity Status with the Menopausal Transition. Parthasarathy S, ed. Healthcare. 2016;4(3):42. doi:10.3390/healthcare4030042.
FRESH, WHOLE & NATURAL
Our bodies are designed with a blueprint made many hundreds of years ago. Our lifestyles and environment have changed a lot since then, but our bodies have not. We need whole, real foods. This means preparing ahead, especially things like our complex carbohydrates. We need to look to root vegetables more and breads or packaged/fast food less for our carbohydrate intake.
- Ultra-processed foods contribute over 90 percent of all added sugars to the diet
- A 10% increase in the consumption of ultra-processed food leads to a 12% increase in the risk of cancer.
Carbohydrates provide energy to think, move and build our body. Focus on slow carbs, not low carbs. This means selecting carbohydrate foods rich in fibre, a critical nutrient that slows the release of sugars into our bloodstream and helps us eliminate waste. Skip the gluten– research is clear is affects most all of us to one extent or another. It’s not always about the intestinal tract – gluten can affect skin, brain and muscles too.
Good sources of carbohydrate & fibre: Hummus/beans/lentils, sweet potato, yucca, yam, quinoa, coconut, teff, psyllium, flax, wild and brown rice, squash, celery, gluten free oats, and whole fruits like berries, apples and pears.
Preparing roasted vegetables is one of my favourite ways to get my good carbs into my daily routine. I’ll do a tray like the above about 2x a week. Then I can place the veggies in a pyrex container and pull a few from it and chop up to top a salad or warm up to have with fresh steamed greens and my pick of protein. It’s really quiet easy- wash them up, chop them how you’d like and toss in a little olive oil. Throw a sheet of parchment paper (I buy mine at Costco) on the cookie tray for easy clean up. Place the veggies on the tray and put some salt and pepper on them. Sometimes I will add Italian spice, rosemary or maybe some fennel seeds. Convect bake at 350F for 30-40 minutes (depends on your oven and how much you liked your veggies cooked).
Pretty cool that if you eat the cooked and cooled potatoes – white or sweet – you will not affect your blood sugar the same as if they are hot. This is because a potato cooked and cooled forms a resistant starch which slows the stream of sugars into the system. The resistant starch is fantastic food (prebiotic) for the good bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract too! So even more reasons to chop and put on some greens and take for lunch. Also the asparagus is good prebiotic as well.
There are more than 5,000 phytochemicals identified plus many we suspect still remain unknown. 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
- Stimulating effects
- Relaxing effects
- Provides many vitamins and minerals
From the heart and kitchen of Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND
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.
3 STEPS TO
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.
Do you know there is a spectrum of root causes of fatigue, chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia?
Are you aware of the classic deep central pain processing that affects the brain’s pattern for dealing with sensory information?
Did you know that the mood, digestive and sleep issues that can go along with fatigue may be keys to resolving your issue?
7 things to help boost your energy!
Your body loves Routine! Try to go to bed, wake up and eat at the same time each day. We are elements of this earth and are not only susceptible, but need to harmonize with the rhythms of nature.
Create something. It engages your mind and your soul.
Let your food be your medicine! Eat lots of leafy greens and colourful vegetables, a few fruits (berries are superb), responsibly raised meat & fish, variety of nuts, seeds, whole grains and healthy fats like olive oil, coconut oil, flax seed oil & avocados.
Optimize your energy conversion: digestion, metabolism, circulation and other systems work to ensure proper nutrient absorption. Efficient transformation of these raw materials into energy means more energy for you.
Exercise regularly. You don’t have to move mountains, just your body. Everyday. Multiple times a day.
Personalize your treatment plan. Understanding your story, timeline and individual physiology can help create a treatment plan that maximizes your energy and your health.
Encourage the Heart Research has shown that when we think about experiences that are warm and loving and positive, it changes our physiology for the better.
While this does not constitute individual medical advice, general guidelines for better health can certainly be engaged with your personalized treatment plan.
From the heart and research of Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND.
What are the Signs of Food Sensitivities?
People with long-term complaints who have tried many treatments and dietary interventions, with limited or no success may find it beneficial to investigate their individual food intolerance.
Do you experience any of the following?
WEIGHT: difficulties losing or gaining weight.
SKIN: eczema, skin rashes, psoriasis, dermatitis.
JOINTS: pain, inflammation, difficulties moving.
BRAIN: difficulty concentrating, fatigue.
Gastro Intestinal: “IBS”, pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation, damage to the mucosal lining, perforation & “leaky gut”. This can make it difficult for nutrients and vitamins to absorb into the body and the person over time can become deficient in things like iron, zinc, and B12.
How it works
Here’s how it works. Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND will see you for a brief 15min appointment to setup your profile, and collect your medical history prior to your food sensitivity testing. If you prefer, a regular 1 hour upfront full Naturopathic intake, is highly recommended. In a separate (or following) 45min appointment, The Electro Dermal Screening (EDS) KORU testing will be done. No needles are involved. The testing is based on physics, rather than blood chemistry. Sometime in the following week, you will meet again for about 30 min with Dr. Laura M. Brown to receive your personalized guidance and food sensitivity report. This testing is open to any age. Unfortunately we cannot test people who have pacemakers. Call the clinic at (519) 826-7973 to arrange your KORU package and appointments. You are welcome to see Dr. Laura beyond the KORU package for further guidance on diet, lifestyle, B12 injections, acupuncture, medications and supplements however you are under no obligation to do so.
If you prefer blood chemistry analysis, Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND can line you up with this as well. In this case, please setup a regular initial assessment with Dr. Laura and she will provide you with the lab requisition that best suits your needs.
Are Food Sensitivities Real?
Food sensitivities are real. Often sensitivities go undiagnosed because the reaction is gradual and will happen 24hours- 3 days of consuming the food irritant; this makes it more difficult to pinpoint which food is the trigger. The body’s immune system can respond to food like an enemy. This stimulates inflammation, pain, bowel changes, headaches, and sometimes skin reactions. Being sensitive to a food may mean the person needs to avoid it completely, or be able to have a small amount occasionally. Sometimes after months of abstinence, a food may be reintroduced without an issue.
Who is at risk?
- Often affiliated with autoimmune disease (SLE/lupus, thyroiditis, Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), toxic exposure to heavy metals, molds & family history.
- Aggravated by alcohol, extended periods of stress, strenuous exercise and NSAIDs (Advil, Ibuprofen)
What foods typically cause IgG reactions?
- Dairy, Wheat, Egg, Corn, Sugar & Soy
- Some with Rheumatoid Arthritis find the nightshade family harmful: (potatoes, tomatoes, bell peppers, eggplant)
How do I learn if I have an allergy or sensitivity?
From the heart and mind of your local Naturopathic Doctor, Dr. Laura M. Brown ND.
Ever think you could be addicted to sugar?
Here’s what could be driving your cravings for sweets:
HANGRY = Hungry and Angry!!
Dips and spikes in blood sugar can wreak havoc on your moods. When you have a sugary drink or sweet it spikes your blood sugar and then the body rushes to put that sugar into the cells, resulting a drop in blood sugar and – you guessed it – craving for more sweets to bring the blood sugar back up again.
Let’s face it, we are pleasure seeking beings and when we use sweet treats to reward ourselves for a job well done, it changes our brain so that we look for sugar as a reward. Dopamine is a reward chemical that gets affected in sugar addiction as well as cocaine addiction.
Bacteria and Yeasts
The microbes in your GI tract can preferentially feed themselves by communicating to your enteric nervous system by sending signals for “more carbs please” or specific foods to provide the nourishment they require. Candida is a yeast that occurs naturally in our intestinal flora but overgrows during periods of stress, long term use of birth control pills or use of antibiotics. An imbalance of Candida can increase cravings for carbohydrates (sugar) – driving them from yeast to fungal form which can cause things like headaches, sinus problems, skin rashes, bloating and indigestion.
Effects of Too Much Sugar
Blood sugar dysregulation can lead to mood swings, weight gain and lack of energy. Long term it can lead to diabetes type II, inflammation, nutrient deficiencies, yeast overgrowth and non-alcoholic fatty liver.
Help to Kick the Habit
Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND has tools to help you kick you sugar cravings, loose weight, avoid or even reverse type II diabetes.
Book for your free 15 minute consult to learn more on how Dr. Laura may be able to help you or get started right away. Call (519)-826-7973 to set up your appointment.
These brainy nut balls are an anti-inflammatory powerhouse full of vitamins, minerals, protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats. Fuel your brain and your body… a couple of these are great before a work out or a mid-day work snack. Once you get the hang of making them you can alternate the type of nuts and seeds you use to help get variety into your diet.
They are dairy and gluten free if the ingredients you purchase say so. All nuts are raw and have no other coating on them (watch ingredients).
Dr. Laura’s Ginger Nut Balls
8-10 dried figs, stems removed
1c walnuts or almond or hazel nuts
1/3 cup hemp hearts
1/2c ground flax
¼ c fancy molasses
2-3tbsp olive oil
1-3 tbsp ground dried ginger (depends on strength)
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
Food process until it looks like cookie batter (starts to clump a bit but is well mixed).
Roll/press into balls a little small than a Timbit size.
Best eaten in 3-5 days, store in fridge.
From the heart, mind and kitchen of your local naturopathic doctor Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND.
Picture complements of seastoke.com