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Before you crawl into bed tonight, turn out the lights and power down your devices. Exposure to artificial light — from sources such as overhead lights, smartphones and televisions — was associated with higher rates of obesity, according to new research published in JAMA Internal Medicine.
The study included almost 44,000 women between the ages of 35–74 over a six-year period and found women who were exposed to artificial light while sleeping had a 17% higher risk of gaining approximately 11 pounds compared to those who slept in the dark; their rates of obesity were 33% higher. Women who fell asleep with a television or light on were also more apt to gain weight and become overweight or obese over time.
LIGHT AND CIRCADIAN RHYTHM
“Humans are genetically adapted to be active during daylight and sleep in darkness at night,” explains lead author Dr. Yong-Moon (“Mark”) Park, MD, postdoctoral fellow at the National Institutes of Health. “Exposure to light at night while sleeping could alter the body’s 24-hour body clock leading to changes in hormones and other biological processes that regulate sleep, appetite and weight gain.”
While the study focused on exposure to artificial light in the bedroom but Park notes that light coming from outside the room — from other rooms or street lights, for example — was also associated with a slightly increased risk of weight gain. The study did not explore whether overall exposure to artificial light, including daytime exposures, had an impact on weight.
THE SLEEP-WEIGHT CONNECTION
Several studies have linked sleep issues, including insomnia, sleep duration and sleep disruptions, to higher rates of obesity. Research published in the journal Sleep Medicine found the incidence of obesity was higher among those who slept fewer than six hours or more than nine hours per night; chronic insomnia was also associated with higher BMI, according to one study.
The link between sleep and obesity is one reason to make improving sleep a priority, says Lu Qi, MD, PhD, director of the Tulane University Obesity Research Center. But sleep is just one of the known risk factors for obesity. Lifestyle factors such as an unhealthy diet, sedentary lifestyle, stress and smoking are also linked to an increased likelihood of being overweight or obese.
“Even if you improve your sleep habits, you still need to pay attention to other risk factors,” says Qi. “We also need to be cautious in interpreting these results; artificial light might be a factor but it could be correlated to other habits that were not part of this study.”
Park agrees, adding, “While our study provides stronger evidence than other previous studies it is still not conclusive. Even so, it seems reasonable to advise people not to sleep with lights on. Turning off the lights at bedtime may be a simple thing we can do to reduce the chances of gaining weight.”
by Jodi Helmer
Vulnerable populations with long term unmanaged blood sugar levels are subject to brain atrophy (shrinkage) and accelerated brain changes including memory loss and cognitive decline.
Vulnerable populations with long term unmanaged blood sugar levels are subject to accelerated brain changes including memory loss and cognitive decline.
Who’s most at risk?
Most at risk are those with Diabetes type I and II monitor sugar regularly and those with metabolic syndrome or cardiovascular disease.
But that’s not all.
Anyone with long term fluctuating blood sugar levels could be at risk for cognitive decline. So those with chronic stress are also at risk. Stress elevates cortisol, which subsequently activates sugar into the blood stream. This is really helpful when we need the energy to physically run from the tiger. However, in our day in age, the tiger is more likely to be the boss, the lack of sleep, the poor diet, or the overscheduled. Stress, namely long-term cortisol release, affects the microbiome. Certain drugs like antibiotics and oral birth control pills can also change the microbiome. Shifts in populations of gut bacteria can evidently impact blood glucose regulation. Overgrowth of candida can make us crave sugars and leave us in a state of flux or what we have now termed “hangry”.
If you are the hangry type, you likely have issues with blood sugar.
A state of blood sugar surges and crashes overtime will lead to unfortunate hippocampus affects, namely sugar induced shrinkage and memory challenges.
Those at risk:
- long term fluctuating blood sugar levels
- history of oral birth control use
- history of antibiotic use
- diabetic patients on metformin
- elevated cortisol
- chronic stress
- poor diet
- lack of moderate regular exercise
- disrupted sleep patterns
What’s a healthy blood sugar level?
Guidelines for healthy levels are subject to some interpretation, however from a functional medicine point of view, HbA1c should be between 4.6 and 5.3% and fasting blood sugar levels are healthiest around 4-6mmol/L. Note that those with red blood cell disease like sickle cell anemia, which change the shape of the blood cell, HbA1c is not a reliable marker and other markers like triglycerides, and fasting blood sugar levels must be taken into account.
Protect your brain
Protect memory and cognition with adequate blood supply, high levels ofanthocyanins, appropriate levels of B vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids and a diet low in sugar and high in fibre, protein and healthy fats. Caution with drugs like metformin, which help regulate blood sugar in diabetics and is associated with cognitive decline. Apparently, this could be due to a number of factors, and not just the drug directly; it is therefore important to monitor B2 (riboflavin), B6, B12 when on metformin.
It is important to include in the diet:
- high levels of anthocyanins
- plant powers found in dark blue and purple fruits and vegetables
- consistent intake of B-vitamins
- egg yolks, red meat, liver, clams, mussels, avocados and dark leafy greens
- daily dose of omega-3 essential fatty acids
- cold water fatty fish like salmon and sardines
- flax, hemp and walnut
Is diet alone enough?
Is diet enough to keep up with the demands of cognitive decline? It is difficult to know as diets of many individuals need to be followed for years and it is difficult to control what people eat on a daily basis for any length of time. First and fore most get what you can from the diet, yes, this is critical as the body knows best how to get nutrients from food. Insulin sensitivity is an important factor in blood glucose regulation and a short-term keto diet and or fasting is proven to be effective method to reset it.
Reduce the risk factors as indicated above and get help to re-set the microbiome. That means create a sleep routine where you go to bed and wake up at the same time every night. Move your body every day for about 30 minutes. It means to have space in the day that is not filled with tasks and demands. Take appropriate supplements where diet falls short or medications deplete.
Memory and cognition decline over time. It doesn’t happen overnight. So too should your changes and lifestyle reflect a long-term plan. If you feel you need help, Naturopathic Doctors are trained in lifestyle and laboratory analysis, diet, nutrition and nutraceuticals.
Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND is a registered naturopathic doctor with a functional medicine approach. She has advanced training in pharmaceuticals, is a certified HeartMath Practitioner and a Certified Gluten Free Practitioner and holds the designation of ADAPT Trained Practitioner from Kresser Institute, the only functional medicine and ancestral health training company.
Cui X, Abduljalil A, Manor BD, Peng CK, Novak V. Multi-scale glycemic variability: a link to gray matter atrophy and cognitive decline in type 2 diabetes. PLoS One. 2014;9(1):e86284. Published 2014 Jan 24. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0086284
Zhao X, Han Q, Lv Y, Sun L, Gang X, Wang G. Biomarkers for cognitive decline in patients with diabetes mellitus: evidence from clinical studies. Oncotarget. 2017;9(7):7710–7726. Published 2017 Dec 14. doi:10.18632/oncotarget.23284
What you’ll learn
Build your immune super powers to stay strong and healthy. Once you get a cold or flu virus, most remedies only lessen the severity of symptoms. The real trick is to build an army of defense and prevent the invading virus or bacteria from taking hold. This is important year-round, but especially as the cold and flu season emerges. In this one-hour educational seminar meet your 38 trillion partners in health and learn the most important nutrients, medicinal plants and personal habits that will increase your stamina all winter long.
Call 519.822.8900 to reserve your spot for September 25th at 5:30pm.
Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND is a registered naturopathic doctor with a functional medicine approach. She has advanced training in pharmaceuticals, is a certified HeartMath Practitioner and a Certified Gluten Practitioner and holds the designation of ADAPT Trained Practitioner from Kresser Institute, the only Functional Medicine and ancestral health training company.
Since the body is 60% water, drinking H20 is “crucial for so many of the most basic biologic functions. Cells need to be hydrated with water or they literally shrivel up and can’t do their job as efficiently,” says Robin Foroutan, MS, RD, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. That includes an impaired ability to expel environmental waste and detox; if you’re dehydrated you may feel cloudy-headed, have headaches or feel constipated, among other ills.
Plain water should always reign as your drink of choice. “It has a better capacity to usher out metabolic toxins from the body compared to liquid that already has something dissolved in it, like coffee or tea,” says Foroutan. However, there are certain additions that can make the once-plain sip seem more interesting and deliver health benefits, too.
Here, alternative hydration boosters to try (and which ones to skip):
Not only does a slice of lemon provide a refreshing taste, but “it’s alkaline-forming, meaning it helps balance out things that are naturally acidic in the body,” says Foroutan. This can have an added post-workout benefit “it can reduce lactic acid, an end product of exercising muscles,” she says.
This amino acid supplement is in a powder form, so it dissolves nicely in water and has a lemon-like taste, says Foroutan. “Acetyl L-Carnitine is a mitochondrial booster. Your mitochondria, the powerhouses of the cells that make cellular energy, help the body use fat for fuel more efficiently,” she says.
Vitamin B12 is crucial for overall health and plays a key role in keeping the brain and nervous system working. “It’s mainly found in animal products, meaning many vegetarians and vegans need to supplement with it, but even some meat eaters have trouble absorbing it,” says Foroutan. “You can have the best kind of diet and even feel OK but have a B12 level that’s less than optimal. When we bring those levels up, people tend to feel more energetic and their mood is better,” she says. Try adding a dropper-full of B12 to your glass of water once a day, suggests Foroutan.
Many grocery stores now stock bottled hydrogen water, but a less expensive solution is purchasing molecular hydrogen tablets to add to your drink. “These can be used to help balance inflammation in the body,” says Foroutan. While inflammation is a normal body process — it happens during exercise, too — low-grade chronic inflammation is damaging. One review in the International Journal of Sports Medicine concluded hydrogen may also boost exercise performance, though researchers are still examining potential mechanisms.
If you have trouble getting enough water because you don’t like the taste, then a bubbly drink (one that contains zero artificial or real sweeteners) can be a healthy way to motivate yourself to drink more. Research in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found sparkling water was just as hydrating as regular water. Still, there’s some concern these drinks may wear away at tooth enamel, (although the American Dental Association says they’re far better than soda), so consume carbonated water in moderation.
If you’re active, you lose electrolytes in sweat and it’s important to replace them, but in a smart way, says Foroutan. Many bottled electrolyte waters contain just a trace amount and are often loaded with added sugars, notes Foroutan, so it’s important to read the labels carefully. You can also skip the sugary drinks altogether by buying electrolyte tablets and dissolving them in water. What’s more, “you can get electrolytes from leafy greens (Think: a handful of spinach in your smoothie or a chicken-topped salad),” says Foroutan.
Alkaline water has a higher pH than regular water, but alkalized bottled water is expensive, and there just isn’t enough research to support making the investment, according to the Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic. Foroutan agrees there’s no reason to buy it bottled, but if you really want to try it “you can add a pinch of baking soda to water to create alkaline water.”
Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph
Perhaps your thyroid needs a check-up? It does if you feel sluggish, tired, constipated, have difficult concentration, and are a wee bit depressed.
Subclinical hypothyroidism is when a patient with sluggish digestion, cognition, fatigue and weight issues has a high TSH but normal T4. It is important to look at the reasons for the symptoms, which could have multiple causes, before reaching for the thyroid hormone replacement drug.
What nutrients help the thyroid?
Nutrition is a factor. Consider levels of zinc, iodine, selenium and iron as they all play a role in thyroid function. B12 is also an important one to look at and easy to run the labs to determine its status. Also the health of the gut microbiome and liver needs to be healthy as a large amount of the inactive T4 converts to the active T3 thyroid hormone in the liver and the gut. So many people have issues with the balance in their microbiome.
Does stress play a role?
Another area of thyroid health to consider is the stress axis. This involves the hypothalamus, pituitary and adrenal, or HPA. Chronic long term stress can make it difficult for optimal thyroid function. In addition to mineral level attention, it is highly important to support the adrenals and provide opportunities for stress management.
Are there natural thyroid medications?
Finally, there are other options to synthetic thyroid. Natural desiccated thyroid (NDT) may be something to consider if diet and lifestyle changes don’t break through the fog. NDT provides both T4 and T3, which is good if there is an issue with conversion.
How can a naturopathic doctor help?
Naturopathic doctors are medical trained and naturally focussed. They can run labs for the nutrient levels, thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), T4, T3, and any antibodies to help rule out autoimmune thyroid disease. This helps determine what nutrients might be missing and what foods or nutraceutical dose to suggest and for how long. Naturopathic doctors with education in pharmaceuticals are able to prescribe natural desiccated thyroid. They are also very good at stress management and adrenal (HPA-axis) support with both nutrition, lifestyle and stress management programs.
Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND is a board certified naturopathic doctor with advanced training in pharmaceuticals, functional medicine and stress management. She is a Heart Math Certified Practitioner, a graduate of the Kresser Institute’s Adapt Level 1 functional medicine training and is a Certified Gluten Practitioner.
Swelling, tenderness, redness in the legs, shortness of breath and or chest pain are all signs of a blood clot. This is an emergent condition and needs to be addressed immediately. To prevent a blood clot, there are plenty of natural remedies that will help.
C-L-OT-S Awareness Campaign
Spread the word on the CLOTS awareness campaign. A clot in blood is the underlying cause of the top three cardiovascular killers: heart attack, stroke and venous thromboembolism (VTE). If symptoms of chest pain, lightheadedness, shortness of breath, leg tenderness and or leg swelling emerge, a visit to the emergency room is best to rule out anything serious.
C – Chest Pain
O– Out of breath
T- Leg Tenderness
S– Leg Swelling
Natural ways to help thin the blood
Did you know there are a number of natural health products that help thin the blood? Things taken regularly in substantial enough quantities or in combinations like fish oil, curcumin, Dong quai, dan shen, onion, reishi, papain, devil’s claw, garlic, ginkgo, feverfew, ginger, clove oil, horse chestnut, bilberry, kava kava, evening primrose oil, borage, black current, dandelion root, cayenne fruit, green tea, and vitamin E all inhibit platelet aggregation (thin the blood). These natural remedies also have other actions on the body so you must seek professional advice for what products are right for you. Taking natural remedies to help thin the blood may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular events, and reduce the need or amount of prescription medication.
Naturopathic doctors are trained are medically trained and naturally focussed. Need relief from swelling, pain or fatigue? Call 519 826.7973 or book your appointment online.
Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND is a Naturopathic Doctor, a Certified Gluten Practitioner, a HeartMathCertified Practitioner and is a graduate of Adapt Level 1 at KresserInstitute of Functional Medicine. Essentially, Dr. Brownhelps people better digest their food and the word around them.
Our lymphatic system is made of fluid from the intestines and our immune fighting cells. It is like the drainage, filter and sewer pipe for the body because it provides immune cell circulation and collects cellular waste. It includes the spleen, thymus, lymph nodes and lymph channels, MALT or mucosal associated lymphoid tissue, as well as the tonsils and adenoids.
Signs of lymphatic back up
- Constipation and sometimes diarrhea
- Body aches
- Puffy, swollen areas
- Sore breasts at onset of period
- Chronic ear/throat/tonsil issues
- Cysts, fibroids and adhesions
- Stiff muscles, frozen shoulder
- Low back pain, especially early in the morning
How to improve lymph flow
From latin name of a Roman city, Lympha. It means deity of fresh water. Our lymphatic circulation helps our body-water-balance. Lymphocytes are one of the types of white blood cells in the lymph and the complete blood count (CBC) with white blood cell (WBC) differentiation is a way to quantify the lymphatic immune response. 70% of the lymphatic system, and thus your immune response, is wrapped around the gastrointestinal tract. As well there are lymph channels and nodes all through the body.
The lymphatic system doesn’t have a heart to pump it or synapses like the nerve to transact messages. Lymph relies on gentle exercise, light pressure massage or skin brushing and healthy diet. Additionally there are herbal creams and oils that are most beneficial to move lymph.
Get relief from pain, swelling or fatigue
Naturopathic doctors are trained in whole body therapy. Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND has extended training in lymphatic drainage through herbs, lotions, oils, homeopathic and hands on therapies (yours and hers!). Need relief from swelling, pain or fatigue? Call 519 826.7973 or book your appointment online.
Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND is a Naturopathic Doctor, a Certified Gluten Practitioner, a HeartMathCertified Practitioner and is a graduate of Adapt Level 1 at KresserInstitute of Functional Medicine. Essentially, Dr. Brown helps people better digest their food and the world around them.
You may already suspect your metabolism slows as you age. According to research published in the Public Health Nutrition journal, you’re right. In a review of data on energy expenditure, researchers found simply getting older is associated with progressive declines in basal metabolic rate. On top of that, there are many daily habits that can drain your metabolism even further.
But you don’t have to go down without a fight. Cut out the below habits and watch your metabolism and energy levels improve.
Eating a nutritious breakfast is always a good way to start your morning. Because your metabolism slows down during sleep, eating can fire it up and help you burn more calories throughout the day. According to Rush University Medical Center, “When you eat breakfast, you’re telling your body that there are plenty of calories to be had for the day. When you skip breakfast, the message your body gets is that it needs to conserve rather than burn any incoming calories.”
OK, so it’s about more than just eating something in the morning. If you grab a sugary donut or eat a muffin in the car, you’re setting yourself up to crash later. Instead, choose something with filling protein and fiber like eggs, yogurt and berries or whole-wheat toast topped with peanut butter.
Going from your office chair to your car to your couch can lead to a very sedentary routine. And sitting for extended periods puts your body into energy-conservation mode, which means your metabolism can suffer. According to the UK’s National Health Service, “Sitting for long periods is thought to slow metabolism, which affects the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar, blood pressure and break down body fat.”
Cardio is great, and it can quickly burn calories, but once you’re done running or cycling, your calorie burn quickly returns to normal. When you do HIIT and resistance-based workouts, however, your calorie burn stays elevated for longer as your muscles repair themselves. Per the American Council on Exercise (ACE): “Strength training is a key component of metabolism because it is directly linked to muscle mass. The more active muscle tissue you have, the higher your metabolic rate.” And, according to ACE, a pound of muscle burns an additional 4–6 calories each day compared to a pound of fat.
Protein feeds your muscles, promotes satiety and is an important component to sustaining a healthy weight. Eat too little, and you may have trouble building or maintaining muscle mass — and per the above, we know muscle’s importance to metabolism. Also, protein requires more energy to break down than carbs or fat, so you’ll actually burn more calories during digestion.
One bad night’s sleep is enough to leave you feeling sluggish and impair your cognitive processing. String together several nights in a row — or a lifetime of inadequate sleep — and science shows decreased metabolism and hormonal imbalances may follow.
In a study published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, researchers found drinking 500 milliliters of water (about 2 cups) increases metabolic rate by 30%, and that spike lasts for more than an hour. So, drink water throughout the day to stay hydrated, and you’ll get the added benefit of a boosted metabolism.
When stress levels increase, your body produces a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol leads to increased appetite, makes us crave comfort foods, decreases our desire to exercise and reduces sleep quality — all things that negatively impact metabolism. So, while you can’t always control your stress levels, managing stress can go a long way toward protecting your body’s internal fire.
by Kevin Gray
There are mixed reviews on dairy consumption in hormone based cancers.
Fortunate for Canadians, their milk supply is protected from added hormones, where the US supply is not. If you go for organic, is it better? Organic dairy is GMO-free which should technically then be free of hormone mimickers like organophosphate and glyphosate. Is this all we have to worry about?
Insulin growth factor
There’s more to the story of dairy and hormones. Insulin growth factor (IGF-1) is in all dairy products, naturally. Even natural organic milk will have it. IGF-1 both protects aging bones and has the potential to aggravate hormone based cancers. It seems that IGF-1 prevents cells from dying when they should and thus has the potential to promote the spread of existing breast cancer cells. From this we might conclude that less IGF-1 (less dairy) in the diet may reduce the spread of an existing hormone based cancer. Research continues.
“A 3 serving increase in milk consumption per day is associated with an 18.6% (95% CI= 0.9% to 39.3%) increase in free IGF-I levels.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3978780/
For breast cancer survivors research says to reduce dairy. At 1/2 c a day of yogurt, this may be enough to have reduced, but this is a decision you will have to make for yourself, given the facts we know and the ones we may not yet know.
What about the bones?
After estrogen deprivation therapies, the bones are often weakened. For protection, protein (about 1g per kg of body weight per day), weight bearing exercise as well as your mineral matrix is important.
Calcium supplementation should not exceed 500mg. Daily recommended intake of calcium is about 1200-1500mg per day. Many dairy alternatives like almond or cashew milk are supplemented with calcium. Food sources include canned salmon with the bones in it, sesame seeds, broccoli, dark leafy greens, chia seeds and molasses. Although spinach is high in calcium it not easily available as it is also high in oxalates that bind it.
Decisions about health are personal. We make the best decisions we can with the information we know at the time.
Here are some other related links you might like to check out:
Canada protects its milk supply from added hormones: https://albertamilk.com/ask-dairy-farmer/ive-started-buying-organic-milk-based-on-the-assum/
For GMO free: http://organicmeadow.com/ENGLISH-FAQ.htm
“IGF-I is an essential factor for longitudinal bone growth. IGF-I can also exert anabolic effects on bone mass during adulthood.” https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/99/5/1256S/4577510
Effective inhibition of IGF signal transduction should be included in combinations of targeted drugs designed to treat metastatic oestrogen receptor-positive breast cancers.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4722749/
About the author: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 a graduate of Adapt Level 1 at Kresser Institute of Functional Medicine. Essentially, Dr. Brown helps people better digest their food and the word around them. More at www.naturalaura.caand www.forwardhealth.ca