• 16-04-2019

    I am thinking of having a baby soon, is there anything I can do now to get ready?

    • 29-03-2019

    Does My Child Have Food Allergies or Food Sensitivities? What's the difference?

    In the eighties and nineties, going to school with a peanut butter sandwich in your lunchbox was the norm. Now most schools are nut free and parents are hyper vigilant following baby first food best practices to avoid future allergies and food sensitivities. Most of us know a child who has a life-threatening food allergy or some kind of reaction to a particular food. A question that many of us are used to asking when other children to come over to play is, “Does your child have any food allergies?” 
     
    Here to weigh in on food allergies and food sensitivities is New Westminster Naturopathic Physician, Dr. Allana Polo. 
     
    "It’s good that we are aware of the different types of reactions but with the overlap of some of the symptoms, things get a little confusing," says Dr. Polo "One of the biggest questions I get from my patients who are parents is: how do we know if our child has an actual food allergy or if they are just sensitive to a particular food?"

    Food Allergies

    A food allergy is when the body’s immune system reacts as though it needs to fight off disease. The first exposure to the offending food has no outward effect on the body. But on the inside, an antibody called IgE is created against that particular food. The next time that food is ingested, it binds to the antibodies that are now floating around in the system and triggers an actual reaction like cramping, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, gas, hives and even difficulties breathing.

    An allergic reaction takes place immediately after eating or can take up to several hours to manifest. If the reaction is going to be as severe as an anaphylactic shock, it will usually occur within the first hour after ingestion. Anaphylactic shock is deadly and requires immediate medical attention. The symptoms are wheezing, difficulty breathing, swelling of the tongue and throat, and fainting. Usually if someone knows they have an anaphylactic reaction to a certain food they will carry an auto-injector of epinephrine with them to counteract the reaction.

    Some of the more common food allergies in children include peanuts, soy, milk, wheat and eggs. 

    Food Sensitivities or Intolerance

    Generally, the words sensitivity and intolerance are used interchangeably. A sensitivity actually has nothing to do with the immune system. The symptoms in this case stem from an inability to digest the food. Symptoms (commonly nausea, abdominal pain, diarrhea and bloating) usually appear about half an hour after ingestion but can also take up to 48 hours to really show themselves. Heartburn and headaches are also indications of food sensitivity or intolerance.

    Two of the most common food intolerances are dairy and gluten. That’s why, in my practice, dairy and gluten are two substances I ask my patients to eliminate when we are testing to see how their body responds on and off these foods. Not everyone who has sensitivity to gluten has Celiac disease. The latter is completely different, where any gluten consumed actually damages the intestinal lining. 

    Some Key Differences Between Food Allergies And Sensitivities

    An allergic reaction can occur even when only a tiny amount of the allergen is present. For a sensitivity to be detected, generally a normal portion size needs to be consumed. 

    An allergic reaction happens more immediately, whereas a sensitivity can make itself known days later.

    An allergic reaction can be life-threatening but a sensitivity is not.

     
    You can work with your naturopathic doctor to determine what your child is sensitive to and even the extent to which the food needs to be avoided. In some cases, by using an elimination diet and then slowly reintroducing a food into your diet, a food sensitivity can be eliminated! 

    • 18-03-2019

    Detoxification- Is it really necessary?

    What to consider before starting a cleanse.

    I won’t lie, when I was studying nutrition, and was introduced to the idea of detoxification back in my undergraduate days I was not convinced that this was something we needed as human beings. By nature, I am an open minded skeptic, and so naturally I didn’t write the entire idea of detoxification off, but I didn’t understand why people did it, or rather, needed to do it.

    Moving forward many years later, I realize that my hesitation around detoxification was the cookie cutter nature that I witnessed, the replication of celebrities committing themselves to extreme fasts or juice cleanses, and the use of enemas or laxatives without any assessment or supervision. 

    It wasn’t the idea of the detoxification that had me turned off, it was the marketing behind it. 

    In practice I am putting people on detoxes very regularly, but they aren’t called detoxes or cleanses, but are in the form of food elimination diets, IV therapy, hypo-allergenic diets, setting boundaries in relationships, hydrotherapy practices, utilizing botanicals for elimination, regular infrared sauna sessions etc. It is important to recognize that detox comes in many shapes and forms, but an alteration in what you are currently doing is in essence a very gentle detox. However, detox extends beyond diet, it also can mean detoxing from toxic people, toxic habits such as drinking regularly, smoking, using your phone when you are with company and the use of toxic materials such as detergents, cleaning agents, plastics and more. 

    Detox means, getting rid of unwanted toxins, and frankly in a world that is in no short supply of toxic accessibility in all shapes and forms, labelling something as a detox, to force you to have intention and accountability might be one of the best things you do every year. 

    So let’s let go of the word, and focus on the why. There are many reasons why our body needs a break. We are ON, 24/7, 365 a year, for our entire lives. This is a beautiful thing, but depending on the life we choose to live, our exposures mount up. On one extreme, pathologies begin to show up when our toxic burden has reached its max, and on the opposite end of the spectrum, the focus on supporting our body regularly can also be highly beneficial. Ultimately our cups are all different so naturally some people can manage a greater toxic burden than others, and some of us just get used to our baseline of feeling a certain way. This is not just about physiology but about environment- physical, environmental (epigenetic,) mental and emotional. 

    The practice of fasting, which is prevalent in almost all major religions is a form of detox. Lent is a form of detox. Hot and cold therapy is a form of detox. As a society, we have always given our body a break, recognizing that this is what we need.

    Detox for a specific concern such as addressing heavy metals may require chelation and more specific directions. Detox as a form of reset, however, can be tailored to you, for your needs, and what your body can handle.

    So before you begin a detox, there are a few things to keep in mind that will help you be more successful.

    1. Determine what your body can handle
      I regularly will say to my patients, that if you are running on fumes, detox is not the priority. Re-building and nourishing your body is. This is really important, because our personal motivation to cleanse is different, but detox is a stress on the body. If you are already stressed, have poor immune health, feel depleted or low energy, or have medical concerns, your cleanse needs to be tailored to what you can handle. Sometimes, the detox is purging emotions that have been stuck, while focusing on rest and repair. Other times it may be a water cleanse, with rest, a bit of brown rice, sauna and meditation. And even other times it may be the removal of high inflammatory foods. Everyone is different, doing a one-size-fits-all detox is not smart. You really need to do what is going to benefit you, and more extreme doesn’t always mean better. 

    2. Your Emunctories
      You are probably thinking, what is she talking about! We have 5 organs of elimination- maybe 6 if you’re a menstruating female. These are: sweating (skin), urination (kidneys), bowel movements (gut), Lymph (follows blood on a vascular level), and Liver (processing); if you are a female your menstrual cycle is also a method of elimination. Your periods can tell you a lot about what is going on in your body! These need to be working, well. This is the starting point before doing any detox or cleanse, because if your process of elimination isn’t great, then you really should be starting here first. Get your systems warmed up and working first, no athlete runs a marathon without training and a warm up first. The same goes for a cleanse, particularly the more aggressive it is, the more your body needs to be aligned.

    1. Lifestyle
      Detoxification is dependent on what you already do. If you are the type of person who doesn’t pay attention to diet, cannot sweat, has gut concerns and drinks more coffee/soda/juice then water, you need to start with supporting your natural body’s process of elimination. Our body is highly metabolic, there is a process of constant building and breaking down. Understanding that small changes over time can yield great benefit, particularly when lifestyle needs to be addressed, should be the start. Habits take time to form, and also to break. If this is an area that needs support, and you are motivated, set yourself up for long term success. If your lifestyle is inclusive of healthy habits, then you are in a great position to explore other options. The goal is improvement in your health,
      your mindset, the “why,” needs to be explored.

    2. The Mind-Body Connection
      Many detox programs focus on elimination and restriction, but a very important aspect of detox is emotional. We live in a society that is highly motivated, fast-paced, superficial and most of us are carrying emotional energy that has not been dealt with. The compounding effect of this is draining to your spirit, your soul and your sense of self. The most outwardly appearing healthy individuals may not be healthy inside, even though they eat greens, meditate, practice breath work etc. We are more than the physical, and an emotional and mental detox is just as important as a physical one. If you are looking at cleansing, there should be some aspect of personal work included in this. We get accustomed to feeling a certain way, handling things or suppressing them (internally or with medication), and the disconnect between our mind-body continues to get more pronounced.

    Lastly, always remember that your body truly is on your side. Your body wants to help you, and supporting yourself, is a form of self love. 

    Most of us don’t admire how resilient we are as human beings, the amount we can handle, how we can be adaptable and so much more. Support that, embrace it, celebrate it and love your body. If you are thinking about a cleanse, take the time to understand why you need it, from all aspects of your life; and even if you cannot think of why, there is no limit to how much love you can give to your self. You don’t need a reason, but if you have one, then better even to be specific about what your needs are at this time. And always remember, if you don’t know where to begin, that is ok, and actually very normal. Seek a health care practitioner that you resonate with, that can help you cleanse appropriately, that is what they are here for. 

    #Letscleanse

    By: Dr. Mashael Mawji, ND
    BSc. FNH (Hon)

    • 25-02-2019

    Mens Health- Is it more than just testosterone?

    Naturally, as men age, their testosterone declines. As human biology dictates, we expect this, and a natural decline in sex hormones occurs in both men and women. Younger men, however, are presenting with symptoms of low testosterone, even in their 20’s. The key word here is symptoms of low testosterone, but when we test their testosterone levels, we often see that they are within the range they should be for age and sex (in many young men.) So why are so many young men showing up with symptoms of low sexual desire, trouble with morning erections or less spontaneous erections, low mood, depression and fatigue?

    I have definitely heard my fair share of gym bro talk, and some of this information is harmful and incorrect. Knowledge sharing is important, but when it comes to our health, I do not believe that a one size fits all approach is ideal. General health recommendations are the starting point for good health, but when there are concerns, identifying the cause should be the beginning. Hormones are powerful, which is why when they are out of balance, low, or even high, we often experience symptoms. Keeping that in mind, there are lots of things to consider before starting on testosterone replacement therapy that you should be discussing with your prescribing physician. 

    So, what are some other reasons you may be feeling symptoms of low testosterone, when in fact your testosterone levels are ok?

    Estrogen

    We live in a world where our exposure to household products, detergents, fillers in food, diet and plastics, promote an estrogenic state in our body. Often times, we supplement with so many things, but do not take time to address our gut microbiome or liver metabolism which play a strong role in the detoxification and elimination of our hormones. Testosterone has many pathways, and one of them is the formation of Estradiol. This is through a process called aromatization. Some men feel that they don’t have enough testosterone, but hormones behave relative to each other. A higher level of estrogen for a man can definitely make his testosterone feel like its low, when it isn’t.

    Stress

    The main producers of testosterone are the testes and the adrenal glands. During periods of stress, our pituitary gland sends out a hormone called adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) that acts on our adrenal glands to produce cortisol. This helps us cope with stress, but the feedback is to inhibit another hormone called Gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH.) This is the relationship between the HPA (Hypothalamic-pituitary axis) and the HPG (Hypothalamic- pituitary gonad axis.)  Recall that stress comes in different forms, and as individuals, our ability to cope is individual. As children we are programmed differently to deal with stress, and some people may have experienced stress earlier in life and now it is impacting them in the present day. Other forms of stress people often don’t think about are when we get sick. Our immune health can also be a cause of stress. Most people today experience stress due to work-life balance and the demands of society. I find many of my patients benefit from support here, particularly using nutrition and botanical medicine! 

    Body fat

    We are all genetically different but depending on your personal baseline, body fat can be contributing to feelings of low testosterone. One reason is because the hormone androstenedione that is made in adipose, breast and axillary fat, can convert to either testosterone or estrogen. Studies show that peripheral aromatization is favored (in both men and women) which means that the favored conversion is to produce estrogen. This is often why people will say that fat is estrogenic. Extra adipose tissue also has an impact on other hormones such as insulin, adiponectin and leptin. Having a healthy body weight is important for so many reasons, not just your hormones!

    Diet

    The focus here really is on diversity. Our gut and liver really are so important for us to process and eliminate effectively. Most people are not getting enough vegetables, particularly cruciferous and leafy greens. A lack of diversity in our diet also has implications on the beneficial bacteria that support our mental health, hormonal health, immune health, digestive health, skin health and more! Eating late at night influences our growth hormone as well, which affects our ability to build, regenerate and repair. I always tell my patients that it is what we do 80% of the time that shows up in our life- this includes our exercise routine, the food we consume (and I am talking about realfood,) the time of day we are eating, the diversity in our diet and so much more! 

    Nutrients

    There are a plethora of reasons that people are low in different micronutrients. There are micronutrient tests which I will sometimes use to understand exactly what the concern is, especially in the patient that seems like they are doing a lot of things right. However, there are common vitamins and minerals that most people are low in, and this can be for a variety of reasons such as: poor diet, gut health, chronic stress, medications they are taking, age, genetically being predisposed to certain deficiencies, other comorbidities, a lack of dietary diversity and more. Re-building requires the right building blocks, and nutrients play a significant role in our ability to produce hormones. 

    This article is meant to be educational, and to provide a perspective that I feel is often missing when we approach men’s health. There are many different ways to treat symptoms, but treating symptoms is not always the right approach. Managing symptoms, starting with foundations in supporting the body and trying to understand where the problem is coming from, I believe should be the primary approach. 

    Written by: Dr. Mashael Mawji, ND
    BSc. FNH (Hon)

    • 09-02-2019

    My Top 5 Nutrients to support your Eye Health

    My Top 5 Nutrients to support your Eye Health

    Eye health is a common concern for many people and can include dry eyes, redness, progressively decreasing eye sight, cataracts, age related macular degeneration and more. In fact, my recent visit with my Ophthalmologist is one of many reasons for this blog post (besides popular request!) Apparently my corneal thickness would allow me to undergo a series of laser eye surgeries, which he doesn’t see too often; and he has definitely evaluated a lot of eyes!!! He was impressed, and wanted me to share what I was doing with him, and so this is just some information on a few things you can be doing to help support your eye health.

    The focus of this will be on nutrients, but remember, secondary conditions, medications you are taking and your lifestyle play a huge role in eye health.

    Your eye contains small blood vessels and relies on tears and certain membranes for nutrients, oxygen, and lubrication. Your body utilizes many of the nutrients you consume for a number of different functions, so lifestyle is extremely important when supporting eye health. Lifestyle habits include a good consumption of fruits and vegetables, wearing sunglasses in bright conditions, proper cleansing of contact lenses, lowering your cell phone brightness, taking breaks from screen time (apply a filter) and not smoking. 

              1.  Vitamin C

    Outside of the adrenal glands, the lens contains a higher level of Vitamin C than any other body organ. The aqueous humor supplies the nutrition to the lens of the eye, and can aid in the prevention of lipid peroxidation and regeneration of glutathione. Remember, Vitamin C is well absorbed but is utilized by the body for immune function, collagen synthesis, glutathione   regeneration and so much more. Some of my favourite sources of Vitamin C include Parsley, Rose hip tea, Bell peppers, and Kiwi.

              2.  Zinc

    I use Zinc a lot, for a variety of concerns including acne, immune dysfunction, taste/smell changes, DNA synthesis, hormone support, and normal growth and development. There is definitely a fine balance between Zinc and copper, so taking the right dose is important. Most of us have been told to “eat carrots” to help with night vision, which is usually focusing on the precursor to Vitamin A, beta-carotene. Zinc, however, is responsible for bringing Vitamin A to the retina from the liver, to make the protective pigment in our eyes called melanin. Often times we don’t link poor night vision, impaired vision or even cataracts to zinc, but this trace mineral is one of my favourites and is so important! My favourite dietary source of Zinc is oysters; it is also one of the highest food sources containing about 74.0mg per serving. Other sources include: pumpkin seeds, shitake mushrooms, squash and beef.

              3.  Omega-3 Fatty Acids

    A lot of people use artificial tears to remedy their dry eyes. Essential fatty acids help for a variety of eye conditions including age related macular degeneration, glaucoma and increased eye pressure. They play a role in promoting proper drainage of intraocular fluid, lubricating the eye and preventing/treating dry eyes. It takes time for omega-3’s to make a significant change in your fatty acid profile, so regular consumption over time is required to notice the benefits. Also, avoiding high omega-6 foods, hydrogenated oils and trans-fats can help improve your omega-3 fatty acid profile. Many sources of omega-3 fatty acids also contain supportive nutrients such as Vitamin A, Vitamin D and Calcium, which are important for our overall health. Dietary sources include herring, sardines, anchovies, and salmon. I find that it can be difficult to obtain therapeutic levels if you are not consuming these regularly, so I   often recommend a good quality fish oil supplement if you are treating a condition, not just preventing it!

              4. Astaxanthin

    Haven’t heard of it? Its cousin’s lycopene, lutein, beta-carotene and alpha-tocopherol are in the same family of naturally occurring pigments called carotenoids. Usually emphasized for their anti-oxidant, free radical scavenging activity, astaxanthin really is a bit unique. I chose to include this for eye health because unlike its cousins it can pass the blood-brain and blood-retinal barrier (so impressive!), allowing it to exhibit its effects specifically to support eye health. It is found in algae, and has a wide variety of benefits such as UVB absorber (UVB I like to think of as the UV rays that “burn,”) protecting the skin from radiation and damage, and supporting brain health. Research around astaxanthin focuses on its use in ARMD (Age related macular degeneration,) diabetic neuropathy, central retinal arterial and venous occlusion, inflammatory eye conditions and glaucoma. 

              5.  Vitamin A

    Vitamin A really does function best in the presence of other nutrients. Surprisingly, many people lack in Vitamin A which I believe is partly due to overburdening of the liver. Some common conditions associated with Vitamin A deficiency include type I diabetes, liver disease, alcoholism, follicular hyperkeratosis (bumps on the back of the arm), and hypothyroidism. Night blindness is often where Vitamin A plays a strong role, because retinal is a key part of rhodopsin which is the pigment responsible for absorbing light and allowing us to seeing in dim light. I strongly believe that Vitamin A is often overlooked, but its role in our body is extensive. Ensuring you are not trying to conceive, and have a healthy liver, are a few reasons to be careful when supplementing Vitamin A. See your Naturopathic Doctor to ensure you are consuming this nutrient in therapeutic and safe doses for your concerns. 

    It is always important to keep in mind that when you take a lifestyle approach or even an orthomolecular one, nutrients are vital for many functions in our body. There are symptoms you exhibit that indicate where you may be lacking in nutrients. 

    Medications can also deplete certain nutrients, for example Metformin and Vitamin B12, Oral-contraceptive pills and Vitamin B6 and B9, and some are known to be side effects for eye health such as statins and cataract development.

    So when using nutrition and nutrient therapy to replete, always remember your body needs these important nutrients for a variety of important processes, and there may be areas that will be prioritized first, before you see an improvement. The priority is always the best outcome for you, whether that means, vitamins, diet, herbs or even pharmaceuticals. 

    Assessing where improvements can be made, safely and effectively, is part of outcome based medicine! 

    By: Dr. Mashael Mawji, ND
    BSc. FNH (Hon)

    • 22-01-2019

    Whats the Dish on Fish Oil?

    With tons of supplements on the market, it can be difficult to determine what you need, the brand, the dose, and how long you should be taking it for. When we usually think of fish oil, the sensory effects like taste and burp back are huge considerations when choosing a fish oil brand.  With all this in mind, why is fish oil so heavily recommended? Whats the Dish on Fish oil?

    Fish oil has been a health recommendation for many years. It is often recommended in conditions ranging from skin health such as eczema, psoriasis, and dry skin to brain health, cognitive improvement/development, ADHD and depression as a therapeutic intervention. Our body has anywhere from 30-60 trillion cells, and each cell has a membrane that is composed of fat and protein. The fat composition in our diet has a tremendous influence on the fat in our cell membranes, which in turn has an influence on our skin, eyes, brain, joints and so much more.

    In todays culture, omega 6 fatty acids are in everything we consume. Packaged foods and conventional cooking predominantly utilize grape seed, palm, soy and vegetable oils which are sources of omega 6 fatty acids. The Standard American diet (SAD) is high in animal foods such as beef, eggs, pork and chicken, and low in cold water fish, nuts and seeds. This leaves many people deficient in omega 3 for a variety of reasons. Omega 3 fatty acids are an essential fatty acid, which means that our body is unable to produce it. A diet that is high in omega 6 fatty acids, such as the SAD, means that we are consuming 20X more omega 6 than omega 3. 

    Just as with everything in our body, the ratio of fatty acids, proteins, neurotransmitters, and hormones need to be balanced for us to be feeling good and in homeostasis. 

    So this does not mean that Omega 6 fatty acids are bad, but it means that our high consumption is changing the ratio of essential fatty acids in our body which can show up as inflammation. This inflammation is not referring to pain inflammation, but inflammation on a cellular level. When we consume nutrients and foods, they need to be processed, assimilated into membranes and, converted to other end products. This requires enzymes, but also messengers called prostaglandins. These messengers on the most basic level, tell our body whether we should induce inflammation or reduce inflammation. Thus, this can show up as dry skin, eczema, dry eyes, stiff and painful joints, trouble focusing, poor cognitive function (memory) and depression. What do all these conditions have in common? They are all inflammatory!

    If you were to try and consume enough dietary omega 3 for a therapeutic effect this would mean eating 5 servings of salmon or 27 servings of tuna a week (per 3oz serving.)

    If you choose plant sources of omega 3 fatty acids the EPA and DHA omega 3 fatty acids need to be formed in the body from alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Depending on your diet, and if omega 3s need to be increased to therapeutic levels, it can be difficult to achieve this from diet alone. This is because the delta-6-desaturase enzyme that converts ALA to SDA which goes on to eventually form the omega 3 fatty acid EPA, is inefficient and is also used in the omega 6 pathway. Thus, a diet high in omega 6 fatty acids, makes it difficult to achieve high omega 3 levels in the body from plant sources that require the conversion of ALA to EPA. 

    Remember, your body cannot make omega 3 fatty acids. There are two main forms of omega 3, EPA(eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexanoic acid.) 

    They are both omega 3 fatty acids, but they serve different roles in the body. For example the most abundant fatty acid in the brain is DHA, which is why consumption for kids and teens is so important for brain development. EPA alternatively, is typically used for reducing inflammation and may also be used in brain health for inflammatory conditions such as memory and depression. Regular consumption is key, because omega 3s are not drugs, they are essential nutrients. It takes time for them to assimilate into your body and change the profile of your cells. Understanding how diet may influence your omega 3 fatty acid profile, the type of fatty acid that is best for you and the dose are all conversations you can have with your Naturopathic Doctor. Just as you would consume Vitamin C to prevent scurvy, remember, Omega 3s are also essential!

    Written By: Dr. Mashael Mawji, ND
    BSc. FNH (Hon)

    • 15-01-2019

    Skin - Is there a quick fix to problematic, aging skin?

    As someone who suffered from eczema, psoriasis, hyper-pigmentation and acne for years, I understand how frustrating it is to have no control over your skin. We aggressively cleanse, over medicate, and apply too many products that really dont remedy the problem as part of the fear response, the fear that if we do not do something it will get worse. Often times we strip the skin or apply so many barriers that our skin cant even breathe. If the placebo or subtle change of it improving begins, its never to last indefinitely, only for the cycle of skin stuff to start again with any sort of stress, change in lifestyle, change in temperature or even change in soap. 

    Let me tell you, my skin journey has included everything from top of the line skin care, laser treatments, facials, chemical peels, at home masks, blu-U light therapy, steroids, antibiotics (topical and internal) and even Accutane in my teens. After each treatment, new antibiotics or anything else, I would have hope, that my skin would improve, and stay better. It never did.

    Today, I go for facials occasionally, take a plethora of supplements, hydrate appropriately, eat well and use very basic skin care. My skin is great, and I often wear little to no makeup, finally being able to show off my skin after envying people for years, who had great bare clean skin. So you might be thinking, is it what I was using that has made this change? Am I seeing a new aesthetician? Was it puberty causing this? (No, this does not last 12 years!) Its none of the above. 

    I believe that superficial facial treatments can enhance your skin and improve your skin, but they cannot change your skin. 

    We spend tons of money on these treatments, expecting a full change in our skin. Some of the more aggressive treatments can definitely changeyour skin, by resurfacing or tightening it, but fundamentally, your body supplies the building blocks for this so your final lasting outcome is dependent on you. You cannot achieve good skin if you are toxic, inflamed, dont drink enough water and have a poor diet or the wrong diet for you (unless you have strong genetics, but trust me that doesnt last forever.) 

    There is no quick fix to changing your skin.

    There are many quick fixes to improvingyour skin, but when your body is producing new cells daily, what you have available and the internal environment of your body will determine what shows up outside. Your internal environment is everything from genetics, other conditions such as PCOS, asthma, food allergies, hormones and more; but it is most importantly your diet. Antiglycation endpoints also known as AGEs arent great for your cardiovascular health, and they show up in the skin as hyper-pigmentation and uneven tone. High aerobic activity and clean eating but not consuming the right type of fat might show up as thin skin, sunken temples, and hard face that looks dehydrated and aged. Consuming high mucus forming foods might be making you puffy, your features undefined, and having the appearance of poor bone structure. Chronic acne can be due to so many things not limited but including, poor gut health, toxic overload from heavy metals, parasites, too much heat in your body (from a TCM perspective), food sensitivities, chronic inflammation or more.  

    The approach you take to skin is dependent on you. 

    Sometimes we need conventional therapies such as accutane, steroids and antibiotics to get things under control, but the burden this puts on the body requires us to also replace, replenish and support what these treatments alter. This can include our liver metabolism, our gut micro biome, nutrient status, and skin thickness and sensitivity to light. Its a double edged sword, where there is no one size fits all approach because the cause of the problem is different for everyone. 

    I have used a a lifestyle approach to skin, and it works. The benefit of this approach is not only that I no longer have acne, hyper-pigmentation, eczema or psoriasis, but my skin texture has improved, I look radiant, my hair and nails are healthier, my gut is happy and I feel good. On my journey to improve my skin, I improved my overall health. There is no perfect, it takes self awareness and when I burden my body too long, things will start to show up, but its not often, its easier to control, and it doesnt last long. 

    So I am not saying dont use good skin care, or not to have enhancement treatments, but what I am saying is that these are the accessories to your skin. 


    Anything that you do that is causing skin cell turnover, micro-inflammation, using your own blood products (PRP), or influencing tightening through collagen formation will benefit from supporting your body first. 

    Ensure you have the right building blocks and co-factors to not only form great skin, but that your body can eliminate waste appropriately so that you look healthy, young and radiant. Take a holistic approach to your appearance, its not a quick fix, and it can take some time depending on the concern,

    but in my experience its absolutely worth it.

     

    Written by: Dr. Mashael Mawji, ND BSc. FNH (Hon)

    • 14-01-2019

    Pregnancy cravings explained

    There are a lot of theories why pregnancy cravings occur including hormonal changes, altered sense of smell, and nutrient deficiencies. In reality it’s likely that all three factors play a role and these cravings are trying to tell you something about what’s going on in your body. Some of the more common cravings include: 

    • Sweets and chocolate:
      • Sugar cravings may partly be related to the increased caloric requirements that occur with pregnancy.  You’re growing a human being and keeping yourself going so more calories will be needed. The other reason for sugar cravings is the changes in insulin sensitivity. Blood sugar levels can become erratic and this can influence your desire for sweet foods. 
      • Chocolate cravings in particular may be related to magnesium deficiencies. During pregnancy magnesium contributes to fetal development (Bone, nerves, muscle) and prevention of leg cramps and pre-eclampsia. Alternative food sources of magnesium include oats, quinoa, brown rice, spinach, kale, nuts, and seeds. 
    • Salty foods:
      • During pregnancy there is 40-50% increase in blood volume. This means that you gradually produce more blood throughout pregnancy to make sure your baby is receiving all of the oxygen and nutrients that it needs. Salt is an important component of blood so it makes sense that this is a common craving. Unfortunately salty foods are often unhealthy ones such as chips, fast food, and condiments. 
    • Meat:
      • Sometimes cravings come in the form of steak and burgers. This can possibly be pointing towards the body’s need for more protein or iron. Requirements for both nutrients are higher in pregnancy to help the growth of the baby. 
    • Ice and non-food items:
      • This might sound shocking but it isn’t uncommon to hear about women craving ice, sand, gravel, and other non-food items. The medical term for craving non-food substances is pica and can mean nutrient deficiencies are occurring, specifically iron, zinc, and calcium. If this is occurring it is important to discuss these cravings with your doctor so that appropriate testing and supplementation can be done. 

    Usually cravings aren’t concerning (Unless it is pica) but can contribute to unintended weight gain. During a normal pregnancy 25-35 pounds of weight gain should be expected although this will vary from person to person. If too much weight is gained gestational diabetes, high birth weights, and higher rates of cesarean sections can be seen. Because of this it is important to eat nutritious foods that may help prevent cravings from happening in the first place. 

    Healthy foods for pregnancy:

    • Nutrient dense foods: Dark leafy greens, berries
    • Healthy fats: Nuts, seeds, avocados, fish
    • High quality protein: Organic meats, fish, eggs, lentils, 
    • Complex carbohydrates and fiber: Various fruits and vegetables, flax, chia

     

    • 11-01-2019

    Travelling while pregnant

    Getting pregnant doesn’t mean traveling is out of the question and with babymoons becoming more popular it’s important to talk about how to travel during this time. With a growing belly travel can be even more stressful and uncomfortable than usual but there are natural ways to handle it. The general rule for travelling while pregnant is that it’s safest in the second trimester. Make sure you check in with your practitioner beforehand to ensure there are no complications preventing you from going on the trip. It’s also a good idea to check in with the airline to see if they have any rules surrounding pregnancy. 

    Choosing the destination: 

    • It’s a good idea to do some research into where you might be going. Some places carry a higher risk of Zika, hepatitis, and other infections. This doesn’t mean you can’t go there but it does mean you can be better prepared. Sticking to flights under 6 hours helps to decrease your chance of developing blood clots as well.  

    Stress:

    • Whether you’re flying or going on a road trip traveling is usually stressful. Don’t be afraid to ask for help with your bags and make sure to give yourself lots of time to get everywhere. Check in with yourself periodically and continue your favorite stress relieving activities. They may include taking naps, deep breathing, meditation, or light yoga. 

    Muscle cramps and swelling 

    • Common concerns in pregnancy are muscle cramps, varicose veins, and swollen feet which can all worsen during travel. Compression stockings support blood flow and prevent blood from pooling in your legs so you can still fit in your shoes. Walking and stretching the legs every 30 minutes will also help so getting an aisle seat is always a good idea.  

    Hydration

    • This goes for anyone who is traveling but is especially important in pregnancy. It’s natural to try and avoid drinking water because you may be avoiding using that tiny bathroom. However, adequate water intake is important for fighting fatigue and for the health of your baby.   It is recommended to drink 8-12 eight ounce glasses of water during pregnancy (Around 2-3 liters per day). Try to limit coffee, black tea and sugary drinks as these tend to be less hydrating. 

    Nausea

    • Although the nausea experienced in the first trimester might be gone travelling can make it return temporarily. Pack lots of small snacks that aren’t fried or spicy such as fruit or trail mix. Ginger tea, ginger capsules, or ginger chews are also amazing for combating nausea. Lastly, sea bands are wrist bands that use acupressure which is a safe and side-effect free way of dealing with nausea. 

    Don’t get sick

    • Between the stress of traveling and being stuck in a plane with sick people it can be hard to avoid catching a cold. Pack lots of hand sanitizer and avoid touching your eyes, mouth, and nose as much as possible. A good quality probiotic before and throughout your trip will help to support the immune system. Good quality sleep and frequent naps also jump starts the immune system and will help keep you healthy. 

    • 23-08-2018

    How To Differentiate Between Food Allergies and Food Sensitivities

    I, and certainly my colleague Dr. Steph Peltz, get many questions from parents about children and food! From the time their babies begin taking in solid foods, our clients want to know which foods are best at which stage, why certain foods seem to upset their little ones and whether their child has a food sensitivity or an allergy. In fact, there is a lot of confusion over this last bit.
     
    It's really important that parents understand the difference between an allergy and an intolerance (or sensitivity) as they mean completely different things and require different preventative measures and treatments. To help my clients, and the readers of Westcoast Families magazine, I wrote an article shedding some light on the issue and I hope you enjoy the read. 
     
    Head over to the article published on the Westcoast Families site and be sure to share it from there if you think it could benefit others.
     
    Have any specific questions for us about your child? Call the clinic at 604-544-7656 to book an appointment - we'd be happy to help!

    • 13-08-2018

    Parasympathetic VS Sympathetic Systems

    Let’s take a trip down memory lane to Junior high biology class. Do you remember learning about our nervous system? Parasympathetic VS sympathetic systems? 

    These 2 nervous systems explain everything you need to know about weight gain and fatigue! Why when you are stressed, you have digestive problems and get more gassy and bloated. Why, when you are stressed, you gain weight- especially around your midsection and belly no matter what weight loss efforts you have implemented, nothing seems to battle the bulge.  Why, you feel and look exhausted no matter how much sleep you get. Why you are constantly getting injured or are in chronic pain and it isn’t healing as it should.  And most importantly, what we can do about all of this. 

    Sympathetic Nervous system otherwise known as “ Fight or Flight”. 

    When we are stressed, or are put under stressful situations ( Even though we can’t admit we are necessarily stressed, and we are good,  and we got this, and we are fine and we will be ok) our body releases cortisol and adrenaline from our adrenal glands. The role of these hormones are to keep us going in the midst of stress. We are however only equipped with so many resources to allow us to keep going for so long, until we crash and burn because our cortisol and adrenaline levels can no longer be kept up with. This is known as the adrenal fatigue we have touched on previously. We are not equipped to run from a bear 24/7. God hasn’t built us that way, to have the organs and hormones  on endless supply to accommodate this crazy world we live in. We run out of resources very quickly if we push and push our bodies to no end. This is when we begin getting injured and end up with chronic diseases as a result of too much “stress” on the body without the ability to cope with it. No different than your car breaking down after you ran on it without changing the oil, getting it serviced, etc tec.  WHY this is of relevance to you, is because, when we are under stress our blood vessels dilate, our core body temperature increases, our digestive system shuts down, our repairing and restorative mechanisms are halted and we are running on pure adrenaline to survive. When we are surviving, we are hoarding all our resources and food and fuel to store it in times of need for quick energy. Everything we eat becomes stored in case we will need fuel at a later date. We are literally wired to survive. 

    Parasympathetic Nervous system otherwise known as “ Rest and Digest”. This is the complete opposite of the sympathetic system. This is where we are meant to rejuvenate, relax, repair and regenerate. Our body replenishes nutrient stores, hormone levels, neurotransmitters, growth hormone and more while we are in this state. Our digestive system is working, HCL is flowing, enzymes are working to help us break down our food, our intestines and bowels are undergoing peristalsis and movement and all is well. We are balanced here, calm, our muscles are relaxed, heart rate and breathing rate and pulse rate are low. We aren’t hoarding resources here, our bodies aren’t holding onto food and calories, pressure is taken off our heart and our adrenal glands are having a holiday. 

    Now, the kicker is, we cannot be in both systems at once. We cannot be running from a bear and eating while we run and expect our digestive system to work for us. This is why when we are stressed and go go go and eat on the run, we get heartburn and acid reflux along with gas and bloating and perhaps diarrhea or constipation.  Why when we are stressed we get injured and our body doesn’t heal- because we haven’t given it the restorative and regenerative attention our body needs. Why when you are running on very little sleep or are tossing and turning, that you wake up exhausted. You haven’t allowed the body ample time to get out of 1 nervous system and into the next system properly so both functions of the body and nervous system could be appreciated. It is so important to appreciate the two systems for what they are, and respect the processes and bodily functions that take place in each. We need our bodies to respond under a state of stress, but we also need to place an importance on the value of good restful deep sleep. We must respect our digestive system and the enzymes that are responsible for breaking down our food and assimilating it so we use it for energy. It would be a shame to compromise this process because we are too busy.  All this requires is 10 minutes to sit down, focus on eating, on chewing your food properly and give your mealtime the quiet it deserves. In the midst of a stressful situation, simply go to a quiet room, heck a bathroom will suffice if you are out and about, turn the lights off and do 10 deep belly breaths. This calmness will allow a dial down of sympathetic to parasympathetic system and help recharge those batteries. 

    • 12-08-2018

    Releasing the weight

    A good friend of mine and I had a discussion about this topic, and I can truly say this was an “A-HA” moment for me in that it makes so much sense and is so inspiring and motivating,  I just had to share the concept with you to help us better understand weight and changing your mindset about weight loss, along with the judgement from others that comes when you mention you are “losing weight”. This is a touchy subject, and many people feel ashamed to admit they are on a diet for fear of judgement, or conversely, people continue to have negative self body images and negative self body talk when it concerns the topics of weight loss. 

    Weight “Loss” has such a negative connotation if you think about it. Loss has a negative meaning, in that you have no control over what has been done. You lose your keys, you lose the remote, you lose your favorite scarf, and as a result you lose your mind~! This word not only denotes a lack of celebration, but it amplifies a total lack of control. When you lose something, it is without thought, intention and usually more often than not, by accident. You lose something, you don’t know where it went, you are often upset and bothered. Why are we using this word to support a change in weight!?

    The choice to lose weight is a very intentional one, a process that has required strength, determination, hard work and in fact, complete and total control. The highest level of control actually. This should be celebrated with positive words and mention that  YOU are the one that made the change and success happen. Perhaps if we did this, weight loss wouldn’t be viewed as such a negative thing and in fact, more people would celebrate as opposed to pass judgment, as you are able to relay how proud you are of the results. How it was by choice, intention and control. 

    Releasing the weight is a much better expression in my opinion. Why? Because it is a personal choice, that you have decided that you no longer want to hold on to the excess weight you have on your body, and have consciously decided to release something that no longer serves you or benefits you in your life. I have chosen to release the weight. Release the shame, release the burden that comes along with being overweight, release the stress and emotion linked to the weight, releases the physical weight off your shoulders. Release is such a positive word, letting something go is so refreshing and unburdening and freeing. Releasing something into the universe that you are letting go of and all that comes with it. 

    What have you been doing? “I am changing my body”. I have decided to change the shape of my body. Again, you are in control of your shape and wanting to change what the shape looks like as opposed to losing the weight. 

    Numbers are merely that, a number. Yet we are so controlled by this number. Nobody cares if the 1.5L of water you just drank weigh 3 pounds, or that you haven’t had a bowel movement in a couple days, or that you ate a large meal and have the weight of the food in your stomach. People are judged by a number and a loss of that number dictates success. 

    We need to change the focus and take control back of the intention and work and dedication and power it takes to embark on a weight releasing journey. 

    • 19-06-2018

    10 Carry-On Essentials You Don't Want To Leave Home Without

    Summer break starts in just a few short weeks and that means that Canadians everywhere will be hopping on planes, jumping in cars and even catching trains to travel the great wide world. New Westminster Naturopathic Physician, Dr. Allana Polo, is here to make sure you make it to your travel destination happy and healthy with her recommendations of her favorite carry on essentials. 

     
    "Spring break, summer break and Christmas break are the busiest travel times of the year," says Dr. Allana Polo, ND. "You want to spend your vacations enjoying time with your family making memories from beginning to end! Nobody wants to get sick or find that they are unprepared for a time when they should be happy, healthy and enjoying life! Naturopathic medicine shines in prevention and as a naturopath I always make sure my travel bag is packed with these essentials for good health!" 
     
    10 Carry-On Essentials You Don't Want To Leave Home Without
     
    - Healthy Snacks: The temptation to load up on airport chips, candy and fast food is high. Avoid it by pre-packing snacks with you like nuts, seeds, dried fruit, granola bars, lara bars and even cut up fruit and vegetables if you are travelling domestically. Pro Travel Tip: If taking a trip where you are going through security, pack snacks in ziplock bags or clear containers so everything can be easily seen if security needs to go through it. 
     
    -Water Bottle: Avoid pop, coffee and alcohol which is sure to dehydrate you while your on route to your destination. Pack an empty water bottle that you can fill once you get through security. Electrolyte packets that you can add to water are also a great thing to pack. If purchasing beverages at the airport look for coconut water which is packed with electrolytes. Pro Travel Tip: If travelling with a filled water bottle, make sure to take a few final sips of water and then dump out the rest before heading into the security lineup. 
     
    -Hand sanitizer/disinfectant wipes: Have you ever noticed that you get sick after flying? Between the recycled air, passing your passport back and forth between multiple hands and people touching everything, it's not uncommon to pick up cold germs. Keep your hands clean and your area germ free with hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes. 
     
    -Aspartame Free Gum: Chewing gum while flying not only helps with the air pressure buildup in your ears, it also tricks your brain into not being tempted to boredom eat and mindlessly snack while you're watching that inflight movie. 
     
    -Zinc Lozenges, Vitamin C Lozenges and/or Elderberry Lozenges: Keep your immune system up, even if you're sitting next to Mr. Sneezy McCoughing by sucking on these immunity boosting lozenges while enroute to your destination. 
     
    -Oil of Oregano: Speaking of boosting your immune system, let us introduce you to our secret weapon-- Oil of Oregano. Take 5 drops before your flight and 5 drops once you land. It will stop those cold germs in their tracks! 
     
    -Shaker Cup With Protein Powder: No one enjoys a hangry traveller! Give yourself a protein boost by being prepared to whip up a shake during your travels! Just add water to your cup already preloaded with protein powder and you'll be good to go! 
     
    -Melatonin: It's not uncommon to find sleep a challenge while traveling. Interrupted sleep leads to a low immune system and no one wants to get sick on vacation. Melatonin helps with circadian rhythms which will help you sleep like a baby once you reach your travel destination. 
     
    -Sleep mask, ear plugs, travel pillow and comfy clothes: Speaking of sleep, if flying overnight be prepared! Block out the light and sound and let the gentle rhythm of travel rock you to sleep as you snuggle up with your travel pillow in your comfy clothes. 
     
    -Rescue Remedy: Last but not least, if you are an anxious traveller, calm those feeling naturally with Rescue Remedy. Rescue Remedy is available in tea bags so you can get a cup of hot water from the airport or flight attendant, enjoy a soothing cup of tea and say goodbye to those bad vibes. 

    • 19-06-2018

    6 Common Summer Health Concerns And How to Prevent Or Treat Them

    The Weather Network is expecting a hot and dry summer across Western Canada. If the last few days are any indication we are definitely in for a hot one! Many of us Vancouverites spend the winter months complaining about rain and counting down the days until we see beautiful blue skies and warm weather. As much as we love the summer, many of us aren't quite prepared and our health can suffer! Luckily, New Westminster Naturopathic Physician Dr. Allana Polo is here to address some summer health concerns.

    "Summertime is my favourite time of year, the sun is shining and people are outdoors getting active," says Dr. Polo. "As fabulous as Vancouver summers are, they also brings quite a few common health concerns that can be dangerous if left untreated. Luckily most of these concerns can be prevented before even happening and if you miss preventing them, there are some great natural remedies that will get you back feeling 100%."

    6 Common Summer Health Concerns And How to Prevent Or Treat Them:

    1. Sunstroke
    Prevent It: Plan out your outside time by looking up the UV index for your city by the hour. This is a great website for doing that. Seek shade or plan to be indoors during peek UV times and enjoy sun time during hours where the UV Index is lower.
    Home Remedy For Sunstroke: Drink lots of fluids including water and beverages like coconut water that are high in electrolytes, potassium and magnesium. Place cold towels on the neck.

    2. Sun Induced Headaches-
    Prevent It: Stay hydrated and wear hats that will block the sun from your eyes and UV protecting sunglasses.
    Home Remedy For Sun Induced Headaches: Rehydrate your body. Spend time in a cool dark room with a cool compress over your eyes.

    3. Mosquito Bites-
    Prevent It: Make natural bug spray using oils that repel mosquitos which include cinnamon oil, lemon, eucalyptus and citronella. Eat foods high in vitamin B1 which are thought to change our smell and repel female mosquitos.
    Home Remedy For Mosquito Bites: Dot bites with oil of oregano or tea tree oil. Rub with a wedge of lemon. Reduce inflammation with ice.

    4. Sunburns-
    Prevent It: Avoid peek UV index times and stay covered in sun shelters, with cool loose clothing and sun hats.
    Home Remedy For Sunburn: Take a cool bath with oatmeal or baking soda. Apply aloe vera gel. Lay cool compresses that have been soaked in black tea on the affected areas of your skin.

    5. Food poisoning-
    Prevent It: Practice food safety and food handling best practices when preparing food for BBQ's and other summertime parties. Take note of how long food has been sitting out and if it's been properly chilled or heated.

    Home Remedy For Food Poisoning: Drink ginger tea. Don't take immodium, let your body pass it. Alkanize your digestive system by mixing 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with hot water and drinking. Load up on probiotics to restore the harmony of your gut health.

    6. Bacterial Infection from public hot tubs or pools
    Prevent It: Avoid going in the water if you have an open cuts or sores. Know the hot tubs you are using and how they are cared for. If they aren't cared for properly, avoid them.
    Home Remedy For Bacterial Infection: Treat topically with natural antibacterial agents like tea trea oil and oil of oregano. Treat internally by consuming garlic and probiotics.

    • 05-06-2018

    Dr. Polo's Healthy Travel Tips

    Now that summer is almost here, many of us are hitting the road and roaming the world. In all the excitement of booking travel plans, packing and dreaming about adventures to come, it can be easy to forget about sticking with healthy habits. Travelling doesn't mean you have to give up on your health goals! New Westminster Naturopathic Physician, Dr. Allana Polo is here with her favorite tips for staying healthy while on vacation!

    "Going on vacation does not mean you are going on vacation from your healthy habits and lifestyle ways," says Dr. Polo. "If you view vacation as a free for all, you’re more likely to come home feeling lethargic, up a few pounds and not rested from your trip, when you should be returning feeling the complete opposite. Don't be one of those people who comes back from their travels saying that they need a vacation to recover from their vacation. Stay on track with your goals so you're sure to come home feeling energized and motivated that you can be healthy no matter where you are in the world."

    Dr. Polo's Healthy Travel Tips:

    Plan ahead- Scope out healthy restaurants and grocery stores, view menus and create a "meal plan" before heading on vacation.

    Book a place to stay with a kitchen- Preparing some of your meals yourself will allow you the freedom to eat the way you eat at home, eat local produce, and save yourself thousands of hidden calories.

    Scope Out The Hood- The first day you arrive, take a walk around the neighborhood and check out your cafe, restaurant and grocery shopping options. Also ask staff at the hotel about their favorite healthy places to grab a bite!

    Be Active Whenever You Can- It''s tempting to grab an Uber or hop on a sightseeing bus when visiting a new city, but consider doing exploring by foot! Rent a bike or strap on a pair of sneakers and get that calorie burn up while travelling.

    Schedule Workouts- Just because you are on vacation, doesn’t mean you have to skip your workout. Most hotels will offer a pool or gym. Try for 30-minute workouts where your heart rate is elevated and you work up a sweat. That’s all it takes!

    Find the Other Pleasures- Remember why you are travelling in the first place. Whether you are exploring ancient ruins, or lying on a beach in Costa Rica, focus on the pleasures of vacation that have nothing to do with food and everything to do with relaxation and new experiences.

    Kick Your Sight Seeing Up A Notch With Added Weight- Whether your visiting the Eiffel Tower or strolling the beaches of Maui looking for sand dollars, strap on a pair of ankle weights or wrist weights while walking and sight seeing for an extra metabolic boost!

    Practice 80/20... or 75/25- Chances are you've heard of the 80/20 rule. Eat healthy 80% of the time and treat yourself the other 20. When on vacation nutrition is often the first thing to fly out the window, often as soon as we get to the airport. Don't deprive yourself, enjoy your vacation, but treat yourself 25% of the time and make healthy choices the rest of the time.

    Skip Tapas and Appies in Favor of Backpack Snacks- Stock up on healthy snacks at a local grocery store or health food store when you arrive at your travel destination. Pre-plan your snacking for throughout the day. Eat a healthy snack 30 minutes to an hour before you go out to eat. You are much more likely to order too much food an unhealthy choices when you look at a menu while starving versus when you have a bit of food in your tummy.

    Take the stairs- Make a game of taking the stairs wherever you go. Skip the elevator at your hotel and go up and down the stairwell instead. Even if you are staying on a high floor and you can't imagine walking all the flights up, walk down the stairs to burn a few extra calories.

    • 24-04-2018

    Dr. Polo's Tips For Spring Cleaning Your Health

    1. Set S.M.A.R.T. Goals- Specific. Measurable. Attainable. Relevant. Time-based. 

    2. Replace habits, don’t eliminate- Instead of cold-turkey quitting potato chips, replace them with something healthier that satisfies your crunch cravings. Like almonds or roasted chickpeas. This also helps you navigate social settings where there might not be a healthier option. Having a few potato chips at a party is no big deal if you have replaced them in all the places you can control, like your kitchen pantry.

    3. Remember your WHY- Coming back to your ‘why’ in your moments of doubt or deflation can be the thing that sets you back on track. Are you working toward better health so you can enjoy watching your kids grow up? Put a nice family picture up near your treadmill at home. A visual reminder can sometimes be more effective than a mantra or vision in your head. But decide what works to help you remember your why.

    4. Find support- Perhaps it’s an online community, family members, friends or colleagues. Find sources of support that you can check in with or who will check in with you as you journey toward your goal. Better yet, enlist them to join you and be in accountability partnership!

    5. Stay accountable to yourself- Keep track via apps, a diary or a chart to track your progress. I find that those who monitor their own behaviour ultimately do a better job of sticking to their initial plan.

    6. Limit your goals- Choose 1 or 2, not 10. This keeps you from getting overwhelmed and gives you enough time to make progress. Successfully modifying even 1 or 2 areas of your life can have a positive effect on other areas. Your quality of life can change with just a couple simple moves in the right direction.

    • 26-03-2018

    Let's Talk Poo

    Imagine you are handed a note every day with a message about your health. It indicates how well your digestive system is working, if there are signs of growths or other abnormalities in your intestines, if you are drinking enough water and much, much more. Now imagine not even looking at that note and flushing it down the toilet instead.

    You wouldn’t do that, would you? So then, don’t flush your poop without taking a peek! New Westminster Naturopathic Physician, Dr. Allana Polo is here to explain.

    "Your stools tell you a lot about what’s happening inside based on their colour, size, shape, frequency, texture and smell. There are many factors that affect your ‘number two’: your diet, your hormones, medications you are taking, and how much sleep and exercise you’re getting," says Dr. Polo. "Learning what is ‘normal’ for you based on some of these factors is a vital part of living an optimally healthy lifestyle. For example, you don’t need to be alarmed if you have a red tint in your stool if you recently ate a lot of beets, or cranberries or had something that had a red food colouring in it. However, if you are not accustomed to eating those foods and are suddenly finding red in your stools, you should speak to your healthcare professional."

    Take a peek at this poop chart:

     

    If you’re on the constipated side, there are a number of things you can do to soften your stools. Drinking more water and being more active are common options to start with. I would recommend those two action items as overall beneficial for you anyway. As well, take a look at your fibre intake. Are you eating enough fruits, vegetables and legumes to keep your stool soft and easy to pass?

    On the other side of the spectrum, you may have diarrhea more often than you realize. Diarrhea isn’t always just water passing through without any solids. It’s also the solid matter that falls apart when it hits the water and is really mushy. This is saying something as well and it’s important to know what could be going on. Some really common issues could be an overgrowth of yeast in the gut and large intestine, bacterial overgrowth, food sensitivities, difficulties with digesting certain nutrients, eating a diet high in fat or grease, or even a lifestyle that induces too much stress.

    Did you know that the gut is where the immune system ‘resides’? It's true! So that's why it's extra important to take good care of yours.

    A naturopathic physician can get to the bottom of your poop problems by running food sensitivity and IgG blood tests, creating an elimination diet, and suggesting probiotics, digestive enzymes and glutamine which are restorative and healing for this incredibly important system.

    Our body relies on the strength of our digestive system to fuel the rest of it so this is never something we should take lightly. Even when it’s embarrassing to talk about poop, it is an insightful conversation to have with a naturopathic physician. When you’re in the habit of looking before you flush, you have a lot to bring to the table for your own health.

    • 22-03-2018

    Dr. Polo's Take on Ketogenic Diet and Intermittent Fasting

    Halle Berry, Kim and Kourtney Kardashian, Kobe Bryant, Gwyneth Paltrow and Vanessa Hudgins... What do these people have in common (besides being gorgeous, rich, celebrities)? They are all shouting from the rooftops how they've never felt (or looked) better thanks to the popular eating trend-- The Ketogenic Diet. 

     
    The Ketogenic Diet and Intermittent Fasting have taken over the health and fitness world with promises of rapid weight loss without restricting calories-- who doesn't love a diet where you aren't going hungry? Those following the program are touting improved energy, mental clarity, regulated blood sugar levels and a rapid drop in blood pressure among other benefits. 
     
    Chances are you know someone who is raving about the Ketogenic Diet or Intermittent Fasting. It's hard not to jump right in when so many people are seeing such success, but how do you know if these eating trends are right for you?  Thankfully New Westminster Naturopathic Physician and weight loss expert, Dr. Allana Polo, is here break down who should try and who should steer clear of Keto and Intermittent Fasting!
     
    Dr. Polo's Take on Ketogenic Diet and Intermittent Fasting- What it is, who it works for and who should steer clear:

    The Keto Diet is all about getting your body into a state of “ketosis” which is an efficient fat burning state. You shift your calories to a high fat, moderate protein, low carb diet where your body no longer runs of glucose for fuel, but rather fat for fuel.

    Who Keto Works For: Keto is perfect for someone who wants rapid weight loss, hates to be hungry, is tired of counting calories, is ok sticking with the recommended foods without cheat days to keep body in a state of ketosis (aka no going back and forth between carbs and no carbs), is a big meat eater and loves foods high in healthy fat like salmon, avocado, nuts and coconut oil fat. People who love planning meals ahead of time and experimenting with new recipes will love the Keto Diet. It is also recommended for people with blood sugar problems, pre-diabetes or diabetes because it works great for balancing blood sugar levels. 

    Who Should Steer Clear of Keto: If you can’t tolerate fat, are vegan, vegetarian or almost entirely plant based, have a hard time sticking with a list of foods you can and cannot eat, or have issues with gallstones or have had your gallbladder removed keto probably isn't right for you. 

    What a Keto Day Looks Like:  A typical day may begin with eggs and bacon, with a side of avocado or tomato, along with a bulletproof coffee. Lunch may be a salad or steamed veg with a piece of protein and an olive oil dressing with shredded cheese on top. Dinner could be roasted salmon and broccoli with a low carb cheesecake for dessert!

    Intermittent Fasting (also known as IF) IF is very different than Keto, but may offer the same benefits. Your sleep is better, your skin clearer, your mood happier, your digestion smoother, but it always involves some level of shortening or restricting your daily “eating window” so that your body is constantly pulling energy from the food you are taking in, forcing your body to use stored fat for energy. 

    Who Intermittent Fasting Works For: Intermittent fasting is perfect for someone who wants to lose weight rapidly, is tired of counting calories, tends not to be hungry in the morning and skips breakfast most days, who prefers to eat a few larger meals instead of grazing on smaller meals and snacks throughout the day, is ok being hungry and not giving into the temptation of nighttime grazing in front of the tv.  

    Who Should Steer Clear of Intermittent Fasting: Steer clear of IF you have blood sugar or hypoglycaemia problems or concerns, if you have a high metabolism that needs to be fired with small meals and snacks throughout the day, if you can't imagine going without breakfast, if you tend to get hangry or have a hard time going hungry. Night owls might also struggle with this way of eating if they tend to consume a large amount of calories in the late evening and very early morning.

    What an Intermittent Fasting Day Looks Like: The most popular way to intermittent fast is called the 16/8 MethodMost people do this by fasting (aka not eating) after 8pm. They would skip late night snacking along with breakfast the next morning and then start eating again at 12:00pm with lunch and then dinner. All calories would be consumed within a 8 hour window between 12:00pm and 8:00pm. You can drink water, black coffee and other non-caloric beverages during your fasting window which can help with the hunger. People who do best with intermittent fasting tend to eat low carb, healthy meals during their eating window. 
     
    Other IF methods are the 5:2 method where you eat 5 days of the week and fast 2 days of the week, consuming just 500-600 calories on those days. The Eat. Stop. Eat. Method involves eating normally for 5-6 days a week and fasting by consuming no calories for 1-2 days of the week. The Alternative Day Method has you alternate between eating eating normally one day and consuming just 500 calories the next. 

    • 15-03-2018

    Spring cleaning your health goals

    January is a promising month, isn’t it? We check out of reality before Christmas and indulge, indulge, indulge during December, while looking forward to the new year the whole time. We know we have a fresh start when we switch out the calendar, and that extra reassurance gives us the confidence we need to jot down all the changes we will make to live healthier, happier lives. Whether you wrote down your thoughts secretly in a journal, shared them with an online accountability group or declared them to your loved ones on New Year’s Eve, there was something magical about anticipating the best year ever.

    And then came January. You fought in frustration for a parking spot at the gym (where did all these people come from?), made a meal plan the first week but by Wednesday realized you didn’t have enough ingredients, and signed up for a language class only to feel stressed out by this extra commitment in your daytimer. And on it goes.

    Did you know that 92% of people who make New Year’s resolutions break them within weeks? https://www.forbes.com/sites/dandiamond/2013/01/01/just-8-of-people-achieve-their-new-years-resolutions-heres-how-they-did-it/#71dba3e4596b So, if you’re on the brink of abandoning yours at this point in February, you are there with a lot of other people. But crumpling up your page of resolutions isn’t something to be ashamed of. The problem isn’t you but likely the types of goals you are setting! Before you throw in the towel, hit the reset button and be smart about it. Make sure the goals you set are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based. Apply each term to your goals, and read my tried-and-true tips below for a greater chance of success this year.

    Specific – Know exactly what you would like to achieve. Be specific when you describe it. For example, “I want to be stronger” becomes “I want to increase the weights I lift by 5 lb every 8 weeks for the next 12 months by training 3 days a week (Mon, Wed, Fri) with my trainer. I will re-evaluate this goal after 6 months.”

    Measurable – How will you know you have achieved this goal? In the above example, there is a clear outcome. If you are lifting 30 pounds more by the end of the year, then you have achieved this goal.

    Attainable – If you were to implement this goal, what is the cost to you? Do you have to sacrifice too much? Is it too much of a leap from where you are right now? It’s not a bad thing to aim high because as you work toward that goal, you will moving forward from where you are right now and therefore, still ahead of the game at the end of the year. But, being too far away from the end goal can be discouraging.

    Relevant – Is this what you actually want? Is this really important to you in YOUR life? Just because ‘reading more’ is on the list of Top New Year’s Resolutions of 2018  https://www.statista.com/chart/12386/the-most-common-new-years-resolutions-for-2018/, it doesn’t mean it’s for you. Before coming up with resolutions, come up with a list of your values and then choose goals that suit you.

    Time-based – Set a realistic timeline for when you want to accomplish each goal and sub-goal. This spurs action. However, the emphasis here is on ‘realistic.’ Setting a timeline that is stressful can negate any of the positive outcomes you want to see. The whole idea is to make your year more enjoyable, healthy, and prosperous. Give yourself a deadline but also enough time.

    5 Tips For Greater Success In Achieving New Year’s Resolutions

    Replace habits, don’t eliminate. Instead of cold-turkey quitting potato chips, replace them with something healthier that satisfies your crunch cravings. Like almonds or roasted chickpeas. This also helps you navigate social settings where there might not be a healthier option. Having a few potato chips at a party is no big deal if you have replaced them in all the places you can control, like your kitchen pantry.

    Remember your WHY. Coming back to your ‘why’ in your moments of doubt or deflation can be the thing that sets you back on track. Are you working toward better health so you can enjoy watching your kids grow up? Put a nice family picture up near your treadmill at home. A visual reminder can sometimes be more effective than a mantra or vision in your head. But decide what works to help you remember your why.

    Find support. Perhaps it’s an online community, family members, friends or colleagues. Find sources of support that you can check in with or who will check in with you as you journey toward your goal. Better yet, enlist them to join you and be in accountability partnership!

    Stay accountable to yourself. Keep track via apps, a diary or a chart to track your progress. I find that those who monitor their own behaviour ultimately do a better job of sticking to their initial plan.

    Choose 1 or 2, not 10. Limit the number of goals you set so that you give yourself enough time to make progress. Successfully modifying even 1 or 2 areas of your life can have a positive effect on other areas. Your quality of life can change with just a couple simple moves in the right direction.

    Yes, January is a fresh start. But really, so is today. If your resolutions aren’t coming together for you, today is a great day to sit down and figure out why. Use the smart method and the above tips to really nail your goals this year. Good luck and may 2018 be your best year yet!

    • 05-03-2018

    Food Sensitivity with Dr. Allana Polo

    I'm going to start this off by saying that what works for me, may not work for you, and it's best to work with a certified naturopath if you want optimal results with your overall health. Most of the procedures at Polo Health are covered by extended health if you have insurance!

    Although I've done a food sensitivity test years ago a lot has changed since then (I'm no longer a Paleo Crossfit Competitor for one) and I knew it was time to visit Dr.Allana Polo again for another check on my digestion. The thing about food allergies is that they don't always present themselves as a typical "rash" or visible inflammation. I noticed my food allergies presenting on my skin. 

    Skin is the largest organ and the toxins created by my inability to digest certain foods were unable to escape and cleanse my body properly. I noticed severe acne to the point that it physically hurt to touch my skin. I saw dermatologists and specialists, but I neglected to look within. I tried all the expensive lotions but I had to look at what was going on inside my body to properly take care of myself. 

    There are two ways you can determine what foods you may be sensitive to. One way is the Food Sensitivity test. It's a simple test where Dr.Polo pricks your finger, collects a small amount of blood, sends it away, and results are back in 7 days. Your blood is then tested against 120 of the most common allergens. 

    The second way is an "Elimination Diet", which is exactly as it sounds. You eliminate all foods that are known to cause issues in our digestion, then you reintroduce them one at a time for a duration of three days to see how you feel. 

    Whichever route you go, the most important part of the equation is that you're committed. That's the only way to achieve results with either of these options. Success meaning that you're feeling your absolute best. Digestive issues can present themselves as headaches, skin problems, gas, bloating and more. 

    Another tip I learned after my visit with Dr.Polo is that you can develop digestion issues if you keep eating the same food over and over again. A huge crutch for people who are heavily involved in the fitness industry is to meal prep, creating the same meal every day. Maybe your taste buds aren't getting bored, but your digestive track sure is. Make sure you keep things interesting when cooking for yourself or you may find that your "go to" meal is now making you feel sick your body isn't absorbing the nutrients it needs to. 

    The two most common procedures that Dr.Polo does at Polo Health is the Food Sensitivity test and hormone testing. Click HERE to book an appointment with Dr.Polo. I have a few more appointments lined up with Dr.Polo and I'll keep you posted on my journey. I'm looking forward to showing how you can let food by thy medicine. 

    Health is Happiness!
    Mandy Gill

     

    • 15-07-2015

    How Stress Causes Weight Gain

    By Francesca Tomas

    Have you been trying to lose weight but you just aren’t seeing any results?

    This may be because of a culprit called stress. If your life is full of stress, your body is responding by cranking up your stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol can undo all of your weight loss efforts. It increases your appetite and cravings, it causes you to lose muscle mass, impacts your sex drive, and your bone density. It also can contribute to depression and memory loss. What's the take home message? Chronic stress makes you soft, flabby, and old before your time.

    Can you actually see the effects of cortisol? Yes, take a look at your waist. Cortisol causes abdominal fat – even in people who are usually thin. The link between cortisol and increased storage of abdominal fat has been confirmed by science.

    Extra belly fat is not just a bad fashion statement. It slows your metabolism and increases your risk for heart disease and cancer.

    The good news is that the answer to this problem is easy and it costs you nothing.

    Make A Commitment Today to Begin One or More of These Proven Daily Relaxation Techniques

    If you practice at least one of these techniques daily, you will begin to shift your body from the stress response to the relaxation response. When you do, your cortisol levels will drop and your body’s self-repair mechanisms get back to work healing you. You'll be able to say goodbye to abdominal fat.

    Set Up A Healthy Sleep Schedule

    Decide on a bedtime that will guarantee you will sleep 7.5 to 9 hours per night. Sleep deprivation makes us wake up with higher amounts of cortisol. Cortisol fuels appetite and increases our cravings, particularly for refined sugar and carb-laden treats, even when we've eaten enough. Poor sleep packs on the pounds.

    Researchers at the Stanford School of Medicine found that subjects who slept only five hours per night experienced an increase in their Body Mass Index regardless of diet and exercise. Good sleep actually helps you to lose weight by influencing the hormones that control your appetite and increase your metabolism. Sleep boosts leptin, the hormone that tells you it's time to stop eating.

    Laugh More

    Laughter and humor increase the release of your feel good hormones – endorphins and dopamine. Laughing increases relaxation and reduces pain, stress, and depression. Think of what tickles your funny bone and plan to see it, do it, or read it.

    Play with Animals

    Getting up close and personal with your pets releases your oxytocin, endorphins, and other healing hormones that support your body’s healing mechanisms. This is why pet therapy is so effective, both mentally and physically. It's now been proven to have the same positive effect on our pets. Pet your kitty or brush your dog every day to lower your cortisol dramatically. 

    Move Your Body

    Exercise is a powerful, well-studied way to burn off stress chemicals and heal the mind, so commit to the exercise you can stick with. A good workout has been proven to be better than or equal to prescription meds for treating depression. If you have physical issues that prevent you from vigorous exercise, you're not off the hook. Other powerful stress busters include body massage, yoga, meditation, and guided imagery.

    Optimize Your Nutrition

    Commit to a healthy diet. Make a list to take with you when you buy groceries. Avoid junk food, refined sugar and carbs, and fast food. Eat regularly to avoid the short-term stress of starvation on your body.

    Express Yourself Creatively

    Creative expression releases endorphins, improves your immune function, relieves physical pain and depression. It also lowers your cortisol, your heart rate, and your blood pressure, and slows your breathing down.

    Have a Healthy Sexual Relationship

    Those with healthy sex lives have lower cortisol levels. They also tend to live longer, have lower risk of health problems, look younger, have higher fitness and less pain, and enjoy an improved quality of life.

    Strengthen Your Social Network

    Connect with others by taking a class, joining a support group or an organization. Research suggests that having friends and a social network is more important to a healthy lifestyle than quitting smoking or starting to exercise. Joining a group is an easy first step to reduce your stress.

    Try to Resolve Stressful Situations 

    Don't let stressful situations continue on and on. This includes present dilemmas and remnants from your past. Decide to let go of grudges and past conflicts even if you were wronged. Forgiveness is a powerful stress reliever. 

    Practice Gratefulness

    Keep a gratefulness journal and use it every day. Write down three things you're grateful for in your life. Research has now shown this simple practice can reduce your cortisol by 23%.  

    These are a few ideas to get you started.  I hope you commit to practice one or more of these to ramp up your health and to accelerate your weight loss. 

    If you think one-to-one counseling might help you to transition to a less stressful lifestyle, I invite you to have a counselling session with me.

    Contact me anytime:

    Francesca@polohealth.com

    604-544-7657 or 604-314-8063

    Also by Francesca: Are you an emotional eater?

    9 Ways to Reduce Stress

     

     

    Photo Copyright: rostislavsedlacek / 123RF Stock Photo

    • 08-07-2015

    3 Embarrassing Summertime Problems

    As health professionals, we've heard it all. There isn't a question that hasn't been asked, or a way you can make us feel squeamish. There is no reason to be embarrassed to come with all of your questions, about chafing, gas and all perfectly normal bodily processes.

    Dr. Allana Polo shared a post on Huffington Post recently that features solutions to three common (and often embarrassing) summertime problems. Be sure to check out her tips for dealing with gas, chafing and foot odour.

    Read: How to Manage 3 Embarrassing Summertime Problems

     

     

    Photo Copyright: jannoon028 / 123RF Stock Photo

    • 29-06-2015

    Now on the Huffington Post: Secrets to Glowing Skin

    Welcome to summer! And to the renewed opportunity to embrace healthy eating, an active lifestyle, and healthy glowing skin. Not quite sure how to get that glow? Allana is sharing tips for summer skin care over at Huffington Post Living. It is her first submission there, but stay tuned for more great articles featured on the Huffington Post.

    Find out how to care for your skin this summer and achieve that glow! Read the post.

    Photo Copyright: rido / 123RF Stock Photo

    • 28-04-2015

    How to Get Rid of Foot Odour

    by Dr. Allana Polo, ND

    Mother Nature is turning up the heat here in New Westminster, BC and with the warmer weather comes sandal season. Baring your toes, and getting sweaty under the sun, also means that a certain something else can surface … embarrassing foot odour. This topic came up recently when a patient asked me this question,

    My son has the worst foot odour I have ever experienced! What can we do to help keep his feet, stuck inside runners all day, smelling a little bit sweeter?

    I shared the following prescription with this hopeful mom, and I know it can work for you too. Get rid of foot odour, for good, with these tips.

    Wash the shoes.

    I recommend putting the shoes through the dishwasher for a cycle. This will cleanse the shoe of existing odours and they should come out smelling quite fresh. Once you eliminate the existing odour, it is time to ward off future stink.

    Wash the feet.

    Soak the feet in diluted apple cider vinegar. The acidity of the vinegar will neutralize odour and cut through the bacteria that is causing the stench. You can do this every night as part of a maintenance routine.

    Coat the feet in a natural deodorant, coconut oil combination and try natural tea tree oil powder.

    Right out of the soak, I recommend coating the skin in coconut oil. This is a natural way to boost the skin’s own defenses against odour-causing bacteria. Each morning you can also coat the feet in a natural deodorant which will, in a similar way, work to protect the skin from the bacteria that causes a smell. Tea Tree Oil in a powder form is also a natural odour-fighter because it combats the bacteria. I recommend coating the skin in this powder each morning.

    Grab some off-the-shelf foot odour solutions for your shoes.

    Having your feet stuffed inside the same shoes all day creates the growth of odour-causing bacteria. Keeping the shoes smell-free is another good way to make sure you are protected from embarrassing smell. There are a lot of over-the-counter solutions at the drugstore, like sneaker balls, which fit into the shoe and act as a kind-of air freshener.

    There really is no secret to combating odour, on any part of the body. Regular cleansing, and the help of natural odour-fighting products like coconut oil and apple cider vinegar, will keep any embarrassing stench at bay. The best part of this prescription, I haven’t recommended anything that may contain harmful chemicals not right for yourself, or your children.

     

    Have any tips of your own. Be sure to share them with me!

     

    Photo Copyright: / 123RF Stock Photo

    • 17-04-2015

    hCG Cooking Series

    You may have recently stumbled upon a notice about an upcoming cooking series for clients following Dr. Polo’s Pound a Day Weight Loss Program. Before talking about the cooking series and some tips for being successful in the kitchen on a calorie-reduced diet, I thought I should briefly explain this weight loss program in case you have no idea what we’re talking about!

    Dr. Polo’s hCG weight loss program is designed to help reshape and redistribute the body’s fat deposits. It also establishes a new set point for the body, making one less likely to return to their previous weight only if new dietary choices and lifestyle changes are implemented. The most controversial part of the program is the actual 500-calorie per day diet that consists of regular food that can be found at any local grocery store. Don’t be afraid of this! Because of the hCG, which is consumed as part of the program, your body is actually mobilizing up to 3000 calories a day. You won’t feel hungry, and your body won’t experience the symptoms you would go through if doing only a 500-calorie per day diet. Please also know this program is medically supervised. Don’t try anything like this alone. Here’s a link to someone (Crystal) who has done the program, and shared information about it. She’s also my partner in the cooking series!

    Eating delicious foods on just 500-calories a day requires some creativity. Here’s where the cooking series comes in…

    Crystal and I teamed up to host several cooking classes that tap into where clients are in the weight loss program, as there are different phases throughout the plan. In other words, depending on where you are in the program, we have a class for you! One of the main frustrations clients report while being on the diet is the lack of variety, which is why variety is the main focus of the cooking series. Crystal’s brilliant and creative recipes allow taste buds to soar on a very restrictive diet. The cooking series also allows clients to meet other people following the same weight loss program so they can form connections and support each other through tips and tricks, or even provide emotional support for one another, as clients can feel isolated while following this program.

    Whether or not you’re following Dr. Polo’s weight loss program, here are 5 general tips for being successful in the kitchen on a calorie-reduced diet.

    1. Play with spices.

    2. Drink lots of water! Sometimes we think we’re hungry, but in fact we’re actually thirsty.

    3. Homemade all the way – your wallet and heart will thank you, as you’ll be decreasing your salt consumption considerably.

    4. Avoid temptation while cooking as we tend to munch while in the kitchen, so get rid of all the junk and comfort foods that are easy to grab.

    5. Ice, gum or mints can be your friend (no gum or mints if on hCG) as this will prevent munching.

    If you’re in the neighbourhood feel free to drop by the clinic to check out our kitchen where all the magic happens, or to ask any questions you might have about the cooking series. Click here for information about the classes and how to register.

    See you soon!

     

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