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By Dr. Mercola
Skin is your body's largest and fastest growing organ, used to protect your body from bacteria and germs, regulate your temperature, get rid of waste products and house a nervous system that allows you to feel and sense your environment.1 Your skin is what others first notice about you, and is an indicator of both internal and external aging.
Skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in the U.S.2 Estimates suggest nearly 20 percent of all Americans will experience some form of skin cancer during their life. Non-melanoma skin cancers affect nearly 3 million Americans each year and more than 1 million are living with melanoma. The rates of diagnosis of basal cell (BCC) and squamous cell carcinomas (SCC), non-melanoma skin cancers, have been rising...
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I'm going to be writing more on the new research that I read on the microbiome.
The existing and emerging research continuously reinforces the fascinatingly strong influence these bugs have on our current health and heath outcomes.
I will get in to specifics in future blogs, but today I wanted to give a brief synopsis on how the microbiome influences our health.
This dynamic, complex system (technically, organ) of bacteria, known as the Microbiome, that resides all over and inside our bodies has been found to have such an important role in our health and the way we adapt to our external environment.
The largest portion of the human microbiome is housed in the large intestine (the gut), containing over 10 trillion bacteria (to put that in to context, that is about 10 times more than the amount of human cells in your body).
One of the most important roles of the gut microbiota is the influence on our immune system.
The our immune cells read “codes” called Pathogen Associated Molecular Patterns (PAMPs) on the bacteria that tell our immune systems what to do - these codes are specific to each bacteria - good “commensal” teaches our immune system to be balanced, and pathogenic bacteria contain codes that signal dysregulation.
Imbalances in the immune system play a role in virtually every disease.
Many seemingly separate conditions have been tied to the same imbalances of the immune system; inflammation and it's role in hypertension, mental health and the development of cancer, and autoimmune processes and their affinity on multiple organ systems in the body.
What's interesting about the microbiome is that these bugs are what teach our immune systems how to react and adapt to the given environment.
We have a mutualistic interaction with our microbiome, especially the gut microbiome. When the microbiome is well-balanced, nourished and overall healthy, we are the same.
The interactions of a healthy microbiome with the “host” (us) results in immune regulation/balance, efficient energy production and metabolism, great digestive health and a well-functioning liver.
Healthy microbes teach the immune system how to properly adapt to the environment, preventing unnecessary inflammation, and they also produce biochemicals and vitamins that help our bodies function efficiently.
A healthy microbiome will also protect you from invasive pathogens that want in on the real estate.
When the microbiome becomes “dysbiotic” (which means overgrowth with bad kinds of microbes, or even too much of a good type), it sends the immune system the wrong signals, promoting inflammation, and producing noxious metabolites that burden our bodies rather than helping it.
Dysbiosis of the gut microbiome in particular has been linked to many diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer, allergies, autoimmune disease and asthma.
Dysbiosis can be caused by many different factors.
For many people it actually starts from birth.
It's been established and well-accepted by the scientific community that babies born via C-section, or who are not breast-fed, have a different, dysbiotic, gut microbiome than babies who were born vaginally or are exclusively breast fed, leading to higher rates of asthma, allergies, Celiac disease and obesity.
This is why it's important to intervene early with probiotics a child is not born vaginally or is not breast-fed for many reasons.
Dysbiosis can also be caused by taking multiple rounds of antibiotics, especially if not counteracted by using probiotic during and after using the antibiotics.
As antibiotics wipe out the infective bacteria, it wipes out some of our good bacteria with it, leaving space.
This type of dysbiosis makes us more susceptible to catching bad, invasive bacteria and parasites that now have opportunity to occupy this space.
Dysbiosis can also occur if you've caught a parasite, or some invasive bug while drinking water in a different part of the world, or if you eat something not quite cooked.
Most importantly, dysbiosis is highly promoted by an unhealthy diet.
Just like us, your microbiome needs to be fed the right substances to be healthy, strong and efficient.
If you feed it bad food, such as refined sugars and starches, transfats, a diet full of meat, and nutrient-void foods, your microbiome will not be strong, leading to poor health.
You'd be surprised how many of our everyday foods actually are considered “prebiotics” and aid in the health of our gut microbiome.
You won't be surprised to hear that colour fruits and vegetables, healthy fibres from non-GMO grains, and colour spices are great sources of prebiotics.
Fermented foods such as saurkraut, kimchi, kefir, and properly made yogurts are major sources of prebiotics if you want to get serious about feeding the microbiome.
Naturopathic doctors have been aware of and treating the microbiome for decades - we are excellent sources for dietary recommendations on how to maintain the health of your microbiome as well as strategic treatments on how to rebalance your gut microbial flora.
Obvious signs that you might have problems with the balance of your microbiome include digestive problems, or recurrent infections of any sort - if you suffer from these afflictions, it would be helpful to consult with a doctor that can help you rebalance your flora and prevent chronic disease.
Stay tuned for more up-to-date information and interesting research on the microbiome and its affect on your daily health.
Yours in Health,
Dr. Tanya Lee, N.D
To see additional ideas on health, wellness, and alternative medicine, please visit us here: naturopath toronto
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30 Tips in 30 Days Designed to Help You Take Control of Your
This article is part of the 30 Day Resolution Guide series. Each day a new tip will be added designed to help you take control of your health. For a complete list of the tips click HERE
By Dr. Mercola
Did you know the energy from the Earth can help you live a healthier life? The concept is known as earthing or grounding, which is no more complicated than walking barefoot.
In "Down to Earth"1 - which received the IndieFEST Award of Excellence for a documentary short in January 20172 - I speak alongside other experts to shed light on this super simple yet commonly overlooked way to protect and improve human health. As cardiologist Dr. Stephen Sinatra, author of "Earthing: The Most Important Health...
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As a naturopath, when I think of Gingko biloba, I think of words such as hope, vitality, resiliency, and patience.
This majestic tree has shown us that it embodies these exact words in the most horrific circumstances - 1945 Hiroshima atomic bomb destroyed everything within its epicentre, except six Gingko biloba trees, which even sprouted new greenery days after the terrible event.
This example of the resilience and vitality of this beautiful herb is translated in to its medicinal use and how it can help us become representations of these words.
Gingko biloba produces fruit that has been used in traditional Chinese medicine.
When they fall and start to decay, they produce a very unpleasant odour, one could compare to a pair of stinky feet.
So many who front this tree on their lawns must bare with this one downfall of having this tree in their presence.
This downfall, however, is completely superseded by the amazing beauty, elegance and medicine benefit of being around such a remarkable creation of nature.
Leaf, (seeds in Chinese medicine, not typically used in Western Medicine)
Astringent, Bitter, Warming, Moving
Ginkgo is not considered an edible plant
The actions of Gingko biloba on the human body can be represented as low and slow, and requires patience.
The medicinal properties of this tree are the strongest when used over a course of time.
Memory and circulation
The most commonly known medicinal property for Gingko leaves is its effect on memory, making this herb a “nootropic”.
Gingko has been heavily marketed to the public to be used to “improve and strengthen memory”, as people bought in to this claim, it's not surprising the feedback that many found that they didn't feel this at all worked.
Gingko indeed does improve memory but the application of this herb in this context is flawed.
This herbs works slow - expectations that this herb will work within a few weeks is not accurate - so if you're a student looking to strengthen your memory in a week for an exam, gingko is NOT the herb for you.
Ginkgo has it's best effect when used over a long period of time to establish its effects in the body and it works on memory in two ways: 1) Vasodilation and 2) Reducing blood viscosity.
This means that the biochemicals in Gingko will help open up the blood vessels as well has thinning the blood, allowing blood to flow more freely within the vessel, increasing microperfusion to the brain - more blood flow to and within the brain means more oxygen and protection to the brain.
Gingko also protects the brain through antioxidant biochemicals, protecting the brain from tissues damage caused by lack of oxygen, and increasing mitochondrial function therefore increasing energy production in the brain.
There is a plethora of research supporting the effect of Gingko in the improvement of memory and cognitive function in those with dementia and Alzheimer's disease, especially if these conditions are a result of vascular insufficiency.
However there are many trials that do not support this, resulting in review studies performed between 2003-2014 concluding the research is too inconsistent to support Gingko in this context.
The varying results come from inconsistencies in dosage, administration and inclusion criteria set out by each trial.
One of the most recent meta-analysis on Gingko biloba research performed by Tan et. al (2015) took in to account these flaws and came to the conclusion that 240mg of standardized Ginkgo daily improved cognitive function and prevented decline in patients with dementia after 24 weeks, especially for those who also exhibited neuropsychiatric symptoms.
Another recent review study by Yuan et. al (2017) also concluded similar results that Gingko biloba improved cognitive function in those with Alzheimer's at a dose over 200mg/day if taken for at least 5 weeks.
These review show promise and exemplify the need for higher quality, larger-scale studies in order to demonstrate the efficacy of Gingko biloba in the treatment of dementia.
Prevention of cognitive decline in healthy individuals is still not well represented in the research, but traditional use and anecdotal evidence supports the use of this herb for this purpose.
The effect of Gingko on blood flow doesn't just stop at memory.
These properties translate in to effects on the peripheral body as well.
There are promising outcomes represented in the research of using Gingko in the treatment of cerebral insufficiency in stroke victims, peripheral artery disease, prevention of coronary artery disease by reducing plaque formation, diabetic neuropathy, Raynauds and thrombosis (blood clots).
There are claims that Gingko can be useful in the treatment of tinnitus, though studies are limited and results are inconsisent.
The most recent Cochrane Review on Gingko and Tinnitus found Ginkgo only to be beneficial when tinnitus is associated with dementia, not when tinnitus is the sole symptom.
This reflects back to the circulatory actions of gingko - when tinnitus is a result of poor cerebrovascular circulation, appears to be effective.
If it's due to other reasons, the effects of Gingko appear to be less impactful on tinnitus symptoms.
Traditionally Gingko biloba taken through infusion (tea) - this application is best for people who want to use Gingko for daily prevention of cognitive decline.
Tinctures of Gingko leaf also provides a gentle and supportive effect.
I typically use these forms for healthy, older individuals who want to keep their memory sharp and encourage blood flow to the brain.
Much of the research on Gingko biloba use and support standardized extracts of Gingko at dosages of 120-240mg/day.
Extremely potent extracts of Gingko (50:1) are considered pharmaceutical grade substances and should not be dosed unless monitored by a health care professional.
Gingko biloba is considered a safe herb to use if used at the standard recommended dose (see above)
The blood-thinning effects of Ginkgo has made many clinicians weary about using this herb with blood thinning pharmaceuticals.
However, it has been found that the blood-thinning effects of Gingko are not related to reducing platelet count, but inhibiting platelet aggregating factor (PAF), so the that use with blood thinners may not be as detrimental as previously thought, with many studies demonstrating using Ginkgo (up to 240mg) in conjunction with blood thinning medication does not increase bleeding risk or influence coagulation time.
Nonetheless, do no use Gingko if you are on blood thinners and consult with a physician that is familiar with herb-drug interactions before use of this herb - one of the only cases of increased bleeding is when using the extremely potent extract (50:1) in combination with blood thinners
Do not use with drug exhibiting monoamine-oxidase activity (such as certain antidepressants), or anti-epileptic drugs.
Always consult a physician familiar with herb-drug interaction if you're on medication and are considering using this herb.
Yours in Health,
Dr. Tanya Lee, N.D
To read additional tips on health, wellness, and alternative medicine, please visit us here: best naturopathic doctor
Winter squashes and pumpkins are robust “fruits” that are harvested in the fall so we can use them throughout the winter.
Keeping them in a dark cool place will preserve these foods to give us nutrient-packed meals that are warming, healthy and delicious.
One of my favourite things to eat during the winter are winter squashes - particularly acorn squash, due to it's abundance in vegetable markets in Ontario and for it's sweet, buttery taste.
I use these in casseroles, bakes, mash them in place of white potato or simply bake them in the oven.
Acorn squash is a great source of low glycemic-load carbohydrates - this means that despite it being a source of carbohydrates, it won't spike your blood sugar (therefore insulin) to the extent other carbohydrates such as wheat-based carbohydrates (and other grains) will increase your blood sugars after eating.
They are also easier to digest than grains, which makes it suitable carbohydrate source for people who experience a lot of bloating and bowel movement problems.
Acorn squash is rich in antioxidant vitamins C and A (beta-carotene, hence the orange colour!), potassium (great for lowering high blood pressure) and a great source of fibre (valuble for those with diabetes and cardiovascular disease).
Yours in Health,
Dr. Marnie Luck, N.D
To find additional info about health, wellness, and alternative medicine, please visit us here: natural health doctors
Most people are aware that they should supplement with vitamin D.
Few people are actually taking the appropriate dose to correct for vitamin deficiency or attain optimal levels.
Here are the facts about vitamin D.
What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is very different from other nutrients because unlike other vitamins, it is NOT naturally occurring in most of the foods we eat.
Very small amounts can be found in fish, beef liver, egg yolks and fortified foods.
Alternatively, humans (and other mammals) require the sun's UVB radiation to synthesize Vitamin D in the the skin.
Here's how UVB radiation from the sun to makes contact with our skin and produce vitamin D:
Factors that influence Vitamin D conversion via the sun.
When we take vitamin D supplements, we are orally ingesting “cholecalciferol” or “Vitamin D3” and thus we no longer require the sun's help for conversion.
However, the “cholecalciferol” is not the end point for vitamin D as there are a few more steps to get to the active form vitamin D.
Conversion of Cholecalciferol to 25-Hydroxy-Vitamin D
The Cholecalciferol (Vitamin D3) travels to the liver and is converted to “Calcidiol” (aka 25-Hydroxy-Vitamin D.
25-Hydroxy-Vitamin D is the component in our blood that is used as a marker for Vitamin D status.
Conversion of 25-Hydroxy-Vitamin D to Calcitriol
The calcidiol, or 25-Hydroxy-Vitamin D, is like a blank piece of paper and must be converted by the kidneys and other tissues to the active form “calcitriol”.
It is is this form of vitamin D that exerts different effects on the body - acting more like a hormone than a vitamin in the way that it interacts with different receptors.
Actions of Calcitriol- the biologically active form of Vitamin D
Vitamin D plays an essential role in calcium utilization and metabolism of calcium and therefore is important in the maintenance of healthy bones.
As more research emerges, there are many “non-classical” actions vitamin D exerts on the body including:
Therefore, it is not surprising that Vitamin D deficiency is associated with:
Importance of Testing for Vitamin D Status
Health Canada recommends a daily intake of 400 IU for infants, 600 IU for children and adults, and 800 IU for adults over 70.
Supplementation at these amounts will not correct for deficiency, let alone maintain adequate status during the winter months.
Implementation of high dose vitamin D may be required to achieve optimal levels to improve overall health.
It is important to assess Vitamin D status by running blood work that includes 25-Hydroxy-Vitamin D prior to implementing high dose supplementation.
This test is not covered by OHIP, nor is it routinely run by MDs.
Naturopathic doctors routinely run serum Vitamin D in order to safely prescribe high doses (often up to 10 000 IU daily) in those individuals who are deficient.
What should you do?
Most people can safely supplement with up to 4000 IU daily.
However, to achieve optimal levels and ensure safety it is important have a thorough assessment done, including testing for vitamin D.
Seeking guidance from a local naturopath is an effective option.
Yours in Health,
Dr. Marnie Luck, N.D
To learn more info about health, wellness, and alternative medicine, please visit us here: naturopathic clinics toronto
The new year is a great time to reset and create intentions for the following months.
Health is the foundation of life.
Our health is not limited to our physical parameters.
It also includes our emotional and spiritual health.
Here are some resolutions alongside specific actions that you can implement this year.
1. Create healthy boundaries with technology and social media.
2. Increase your vegetable (especially GREEN vegetable) intake.
3. Begin the day with a big glass of water.
4. Focus on what's going “right” in your life.
5. Spend more time in nature.
Hopefully some of these resolutions - or intentions- resonate with you.
Yours in Health,
Dr. Marnie Luck, N.D
To discover more info on health, wellness, and alternative medicine, please visit us here: naturopaths
Many people wish they had more energy.
Chronic fatigue and generalized low energy are common concerns that naturopathic doctors excel in treating.
People feel “tired” in different ways. Some people feel sluggish and lethargic in their body, while others may feel mentally fatigued.
Identifying and addressing the root causes of fatigue and implementing targeted treatment enables people to have a significantly better quality of life.
Here are some reasons you may be tired:
1. Nutritional Deficiencies
Iron is the component of red blood cells that brings oxygen to all parts of your body.
Low iron can leave you tired, pale and irritable.
Many women have low iron because they menstruate (bleed) monthly.
Vitamin B12 is a nutrient primarily found in animal products.
B12 plays a role in energy production, nerve health and red blood cell synthesis.
Vegan diets (purely plant based) are very low in B12 and require supplementation.
Additionally, people who have digestive concerns or take certain medications may not be able to properly absorb B12 and can become deficient.
Low Vitamin D
Most Canadians have insufficient amounts of circulating vitamin D.
Vitamin D is necessary for many different processes in the body, one of which is its role in bone and muscle health.
People who are vitamin D deficient may have weakening of the muscles which can make someone feel tired and heavy in their body.
Some people may not be getting enough protein, fat or carbohydrates (also known as macro-nutrients) to meet their energy requirements throughout the day.
When there is insufficient calorie intake, the body will not be able to burn fuel and produce energy effectively.
2. Thyroid Problems
The thyroid regulates metabolism and energy production. When our thyroid is “under-active” or “hypo-functioning” fatigue is the hallmark symptom.
Certain factors can adversely affect the thyroid:
When someone is under chronic stress, cortisol increases and it signals to the thyroid to decrease thyroid hormone production.
Further more, when our body is persistently under stress, our body begins to convert “T4” (the abundant, yet inactive thyroid hormone) into “Reverse T3” instead of the active “T3” hormone.
When the immune system becomes dysregulated due to inflammation present in the body- often because of irritation in the gut, obesity, poor diet, stress and infections- autoimmunity against the thyroid can occur.
This is referred to as Hashimoto's Thyroiditis which can cause the thyroid to stop producing adequate amounts of hormone.
The thyroid depends on certain nutrients to produce hormone.
Tyrosine, an amino acid found in protein sources, serves as the backbone of T3 and T4.
Iodine is the other essential component. Adequate amounts of zinc and selenium are also needed for the transport and production thyroid hormones.
3. Adrenal Fatigue
Amongst other functions, our adrenal glands release cortisol and adrenaline into the bloodstream in response to stress and energy requirements.
Cortisol has many functions.
When the adrenal glands are overworked, inadequate and inconsistent production of cortisol can lead to adrenal fatigue, and thus, low energy.
These are the major contributing factors:
Chronic or repetitive stress will result in prolonged elevation of cortisol that ultimately exhausts the adrenal glands.
This leads to overall low cortisol production which can result in chronic fatigue and extreme difficulty getting out of bed in the morning.
Our bodies rely on a diurnal (daily) rhythm including sleep pattern that remains relatively consistent.
This ensures that our cortisol rises in the morning, reaching its peak midday, and drops slowly, reaching its lowest point at night.
People who work night shifts, or go to bed and wake up at inconsistent times, dysregulate their diurnal pattern and cortisol pattern.
If you're feeling tired- there is likely a reason.
The Naturopathic Doctors at Annex Naturopathic are experienced at treating the root causes of low energy.
Our NDs complete a compressive assessment and routine and specialized testing to identify thyroid and dysfunction, as well as nutrient deficiencies.
Yours in Health,
Dr. Marnie Luck, N.D
To read additional info about health, wellness, and alternative medicine, please visit us here: naturopathic toronto
Happy Holidays from us at Annex Naturopathic Clinic!
It's a shared feeling amongst most people that this is a crazy, hectic time of year.
This typically leads to most of us neglecting our good healthy habits and trading it up for stress-coping indulgences from the vast number of treats the holiday season has to offer.
While as naturopathic doctors, we understand and encourage giving in to the season, letting loose and participating in some of these indulgences.
It's also important to be mindful of HOW MUCH you're indulging and whether the extent of the indulgences is negatively affecting the both your physical and mental health.
Here are 5 tips that allows you to let loose and indulge, while maintaining healthy weight and stable mental health during this busy time of year.
Not only is keeping hydrated important for maintaining healthy skin during these DRY winter months, it will also keep your stomach full, preventing your from NEEDING those 3-5 extra cookies available in the lunch room, or from getting “too tipsy” and then “too hungover” from the holiday parties.
Staying hydrated doesn't mean drinking only water - you can keep hydrated by sipping on herbal teas as well, as long as they aren't caffeinated.
Drink at least 2L (8 cups) of water or tea daily (6 cups of water, 2 cups of tea) to keep yourself hydrated.
You can drink your water warm, squeeze some lemon in to it, or use teas like chamomile, ginger, lemon balm and peppermint to keep yourself warm and strengthen your digestion and help you cope with stress (two things that are typically imbalanced during this time of year).
When attending a holiday lunch or dinner, try sticking to meals that are low in carbohydrates (especially wheat-based carbs) and higher in protein, fats.
Also make sure to get a healthy dose of vegetables (greens in particular) with your meals, despite if the other foods are not as healthy.
The vegetables will ensure you're getting SOME nutrients with these meals, bind excess fat, and provide fibre.
Avoiding the carbs will make your full quicker which will help keep the weight down, prevent blood sugar spikes and dips, and maintain your energy.
Cutting out the carbs during your meals also gives you some more wiggle room for sugary treats that are offered during this season.
Limit your Sugary Snacks:
It's not realistic to avoid the vast amount of sugar that is served up this season - especially if you happen to have a sweet tooth.
By reducing your carb intake at your meals, it allows you to have a bit more room in your body for the pretty cookies and chocolate.
But don't go overboard. Have ONE cookie, ONE piece of chocolate and wait - this allows you to taste the sweet, enjoy, and it won't send you in to a frenzy of sugar highs and lows.
Blood sugar stabilization is extremely important in maintaining good energy during the day, maintaining weight and coping with the stress around us.
Sudden blood sugar spikes from indulging in too much sugar leads to sudden blood sugar drops, which make us tired, irritable, messes with our hormones that maintain our circadian rhythms, and makes us CRAVE more sugar in the long run!
Stick to low sugar drinks:
Starting off your night with a cold beer, nice glass of wine (or 2) with dinner, or a fancy cocktail its totally fine but if you decide to have a few drinks that night, it's always wise to switch to drinks with a lower sugar content.
Not only will this prevent a nasty hangover, but it will also keep the waistline from expanding.
Mixing clear alcohols (like vodka, gin, tequila ) with club soda (not tonic!) with some lemon/lime, and ordering it in a “tall glass” with a “single shot” (therefore a higher club soda to alcohol ratio) will help you pace your alcohol so you don't get too tipsy too quick, and keep you hydrated at the same time.
And most importantly NO POP - it's not worth it.
Keep your indulgences to happy times, not stressful times:
This is an important aspect of mindful eating - you associate eating and drinking/indulging during times of socialization, relaxation and fun, instead of using sugar and alcohol for times when you're stressed, need break or bored (eating sugar during in between work, or binging afterwork for no occasion).
This helps you disassociate from using these indulgences as a way to cope with stress and to “relax”, breaking the hard cycle that leads to ill-health in the long run.
Also, when you limit your indulgences to happy times, you're less-likely to over-indulge, as you're feeling happy, content and satisfied for many reasons, not just from food and drink.
These tips will allow you to enjoy your holiday indulgences guilt-free and let you start 2018 on a healthy path!
Yours in Health,
Dr. Tanya Lee, N.D
To find additional information on health, wellness, and alternative medicine, please visit us here: naturapath near me
Annex Naturopathic Clinic is a clinic in downtown Toronto that offers integrative healthcare solutions. Toronto naturopathic practitioners Dr. Marnie Luck, ND and Dr. Tanya Lee, ND offer a variety of treatment plans using a range of modalities individualized to each patient which can complement conventional health care.
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