• 05-10-2016

    Happy? Avoid S.A.D

    Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D) affects many people each fall and winter. Dr. Andrew Eberding explains what this is, what symptoms you might be experiencing and what to do to help yourself.

    You have probably noticed that the days are shortening rapidly. This decrease in daylight can lead to something that you might have heard of called Seasonal Affective Disorder, otherwise known as SAD.  The long dark winters in our great northern country can be associated with particular feelings like fatigue, low moods, increased irritability, decreased sex drive, indifference to life and overeating. Then, almost magically, when spring comes, all of these negative feelings fall away.

    This occurs so commonly that it is recognized within the medical field with a well-defined diagnostic set of parameters.  For some, the feelings are so strong that they can be admitted to hospital.  Most people, fortunately, experience it to a much lower extent.  It is best to take a proactive approach and do what you can to minimize these feeling before they become overwhelming.  The time to do that is now.  Here are some things that I recommend to ward off SAD.

    Get Some Light

    If you know that winter brings an great sense of gloom, you should be strongly considering light therapy.  Not everyone needs this degree of commitment, but for those who do suffer every winter, light therapy can make a world of difference. The following factors are important considerations:

    - Lux Level: try to get 10,000 lux (equivalent of full daylight).

    - Spectrum: Full-spectrum (visible wavelength) light is also crucial

    - Size and proximity: small lamps may have 10,000 lux light but may not work at a comfortable distance.

    - UV Output: UV light is important to generate Vitamin D excessive amounts are damaging in several ways. Balance is the key. Know what you are getting.

    Eat a Supportive Diet

    Comfort foods (simple carbohydrates, salt and processed fats) are detrimental and are not beneficial any time of year, but are the worst possible choice in the dead of winter.  Instead choose to eat soups and stews with plenty of protein and vegetables. Beans, legumes, nuts, healthy lean protein and hearty fruits should also be regular fare.

    Promote the Release of Endorphins

    Endorphins are the feel good chemicals that your body produces.  There are many ways to promote production:

    - Vigorous exercise: If you can do something that gets your heart pumping and quickens your breath. Simple walking may help, but if you can push a little harder the results will be much greater.

    - Laugh: Along with laughing comes positivity, so spend time with your joyful friends, watch a comedian or join a laughter therapy group.

    - Strengthen your social network, support others and be supported. Share caring interactions.

    - Experience sexual pleasure: the sensation of having an orgasm is primarily due to endorphins

    Plan a Vacation

    If you can financially and realistically afford a getaway to a tropical region then strongly consider taking one. This provides two different benefits.  Firstly, this gives you a boost of mid-winter sunlight. Secondly, it gives you something to look forward to in dark days of winter.  I find most people do best taking this trip between mid-January and mid-February.  After the holiday season has past, but spring is not too far away once you return.

    If Necessary Supplement

    Certain nutrients, especially if they are lacking in your diet, can be useful to include in your regimen.  Consider adding Vitamin D, Vitamin B complex, Polyphenols, Omega 3 oils, L-Theanine and Tryptophan.  There are herbals that can also be supportive like Licorice root, Rhodiola, and Ashwaganda.

    Don’t wait until you get down before you do something to support yourself, especially if you have a history of low moods in the winter.   Take care of yourself because you deserve it!

    • 28-09-2016

    16 Ways to Beat the Cold and Flu this Season

    The cold and flu season is hitting early this year. The rhinoviruses, the most common viral infections, like colder temperature. Here in BC it has been a colder September than usual giving these guys a great breeding ground and causing us to experience an early start to the dreaded sniffles, cough and worse. How do you protect yourself from those germs that are everywhere, as people increasingly head indoors, and treat the cold and flu well so you can get back on your feet sooner? I’m going to share 17 germ-fighting strategies that will keep you healthier this cold and flu season.

    1. Avoid Germs from Surfaces

    Be sure to wash your hands regularly with soap and water to minimize ingested germs from public surfaces like ATM pin pads, computer keyboards, grocery store carts, money and doors. Flu viruses can live on surfaces for 24 hours! At home keep your surfaces clean and free of germs with a regular wipe with hot water and soap. Avoid antibacterial wipes and sprays. These create superbugs, and are unnecessary too as soap and water does a great job.

    2. Stop Eating Sugar

    I know you didn’t want me to say it, but I have to! Put away the sugary treats. Sugar suppresses the immune system. It is why so many kids get sick after Halloween! Try to eat “clean”: reach for whole foods including plenty of vegetables and protein. Avoid processed food (anything that does not occur naturally).

    3. Get Your Sweat On

    Physical activity that raises your body temperature and induces that amazing sweat response is so great for strengthening your immune system. It helps to kill off bacteria, and the sweating releases toxins from your body. I recommend you get your heart rate up for more than 30 minutes each session.

    4. Avoid Dairy

    Dairy creates mucous and phlegm in the body. Say no to milk, cheese and yogurt while you are experiencing symptoms.

    5. Increase Your Protein Consumption

    Increase your protein consumption to give your body more of the building blocks it needs to fight the bad guys and keep your immune system in fighting form. Protein is needed for xx and this is why it is even more important when facing cold and flu bugs.

    6. Watch What You Drink

    You want to reach for hydrating beverages like water and herbal tea to flush the system. Stay away from dehydrating beverages like caffeine and alcohol.

    7. Get a Good Night’s Sleep

    Tired people are more susceptible to developing colds and flu symptoms from the germs they encounter. If you are not getting adequate sleep, your immune system will be weakened. When the bad guys attack, your good guys don’t have a chance. Strengthen your immune system by getting plenty of sleep and see our post here for tips.

    8. Control Your Stress

    Stress can also decrease the immune system, making you more susceptible to infections; it prevents healing and slows recovery. Look for outlets for reducing stress, like exercise, yoga, meditation or any soothing rituals (not food please) that help you to relax. Build in plenty of time in your schedule for alone time, romantic time with your partner and play time.

    9. Try Oil of Oregano

    It tastes awful but it works! At the first sign of cold or flu symptoms, take Oil of Oregano.

    10. Eat Immune-Boosting Foods

    Stock up on the following immune-boosting foods and let yourself overindulge in them! Echinacea, foods that are high in vitamin C like oranges (or try a supplement), ginger, garlic, oregano, onion and hot sauce.

    11. Try Natural Lozenges or Cough Syrup

    A lozenge or natural cough syrup can help you alleviate symptoms in the short-term. I recommend elderberry lozenges or cough syrup and zinc lozenges.

    12. A Spoonful of Honey Helps the Symptoms Go Away

    Honey contains anti-bacterial properties and helps combat germs when inside the body. Try a spoonful of honey on it’s own or with a spoonful of crushed garlic.

    13. Salt Water Gargle

    Gargle for a few minutes with salt water. It will help clear mucous and bacteria from the mouth and throat.

    14. Try Contrast Showers, Dry Skin Brushing and Steam Inhalation

    Not only are these three things very good for helping your body shed bad toxins, they also feel really good. A contrast shower involves switching from a hot temperature to a cold temperature during the duration of the shower. Dry Skin Brushing is completed with a loofah brush used in a circular motion on the skin while it is dry. And anything from a sauna (try our infra-red sauna) or simply inhaling steam over a bowl with eucalyptus will help evict the bad germs.

    15. Try Warming Socks

    This is a wonderful treatment for clearing congestion. The first step is to warm your feet, such as in a bath of warm water for 5 to 10 minutes. Soak a pair of socks in ice cold water and put them on your feet (stay with me, you will enjoy this I promise). Put dry heavy, preferably wool, socks over the wet ones and leave on as you go to bed. This treatment helps to clear congestion and increase circulation. It can also be quite soothing and sedating, making it effective for pain relief as well.

    16. Avoid Pain Relieving Medication

    These medications work to suppress a fever. But fevers are actually good for us; they work to kill off bacteria and they signal that the immune system is working. To find pain relief, try a cool bath, followed by lying down in a dark room.

    With these 16 tips you are well armed to face cold and flu season head on! Remember to make investments in wellness everyday; it’s the best preventative medicine. If you do become sick, try our tips here and be sure you rest. Sometimes we do need to take a day off.