• 24-02-2020

    10 reasons for stubborn weight loss

    Are you feeling frustrated by the fact that you are “doing everything right” but the scale isn’t budging? 

    Is it my metabolism?

    Is it my genetics?

    Is it my age? 

     

    You aren’t wrong in thinking that something else must be going on. There are fundamental physiological reasons why you may be struggling to lose weight.  Let’s break it down

     

    10 Reasons You Can’t Lose Weight

     

    ***Before we get into some underlying causes of weight concerns, make sure your fundamentals are there:

     

    1. Portion Distortion - I am not a fan of counting calories per se, but I am a fan of knowing the basics of what you are putting into your bodies… so over time you get to a point where you are conscious of your choices and no longer need to “count”. I love my fitness pal for this reason and encourage all my patients/you to input a week’s worth of food so you can visibly see where you may be going wrong. 
    • People can overdo it 100% on “Healthy foods”. Prime Example: Nuts. Nuts are a healthy addition to your diet- healthy fats, anti-inflammatory, source of protein, fiber etc.  BUT one serving of Brazil nuts is 2 nuts! A serving of almonds… 6 almonds. So, if you are eating nuts like popcorn, you aren’t going to lose weight.  Same goes for other “healthy super foods” like avocado, chia, flaxseeds, hemp hearts, coconut products etc. etc.  Sugar/carbs and sodium matter too, potentially more than calories/fats

     

    1. Mindless eating- Snacking while you are cooking/prepping a meal can translate into eating an entire meal before you sit down for your meal. Stay mindful of this. Along with other downfalls including  licking a spoon, licking the knife you made your PB sandwich with, eating your kids food they didn’t finish ETC

     

    1. Real VS. Fake Ingredients — beyond the amount you are eating, is what you are eating. Many people who are trying to lose weight stick to “low calorie” food items, which are usually loaded with chemicals and ingredients that your body can’t recognize. If your body can’t recognize an ingredient, it will store it. Always remember, when you take an ingredient out to make it “low fat”, “gluten free” “sugar free” etc., other ingredients have to be added in to help maintain the flavor and texture profile… these added ingredients are usually processed. 

    Weight loss is often about moving into a whole food, anti-inflammatory food plan that includes foods your body can recognize and therefore utilize efficiently.

     

    ***Now that we have covered some fundamentals, let’s talk about underlying health concerns that can affect weight loss efforts: 

     

    1. Chronic Stress/ Cortisol and Adrenals — Stress is a major factor for stubborn weight loss. We live stressful, fast-paced lives, more stressful than our body was ever designed or intended to handle. Stress elevates cortisol and adrenaline, hormones responsible for “fight or flight” in what your body perceives as an emergency —this is a healthy stress response. Chronic stress, however, creates a constant increase in Cortisol levels, which cause the body to “store and reserve” resources for a later time when we will need them. This is the Cortisol Belly or spare tire in the midsection people have a hard time losing when they are under stress. 

     

    1. Hormone Imbalances/ Estrogen Dominance-Our Sex Hormones’ are Estrogen, Progesterone, Testosterone and DHEA and all need to properly balanced for adequate weight management. 

    Estrogen Dominance — too much estrogen relative to progesterone (Since balance is key here) plays a role in weight gain. Estrogen is a fat storing hormone, whereas Testosterone is a fat burning hormone. Females who have high Estrogen levels (Xeno-Estrongen exposure in our environment too; Animal Products, Parabens, Plastics and BPA’s etc.) are more likely to hold weight/fat around their thighs, butt, back, arms and bellies. Estrogen dominance can cause increased cravings and decrease metabolism. The balance here is lowering estrogen while increasing progesterone. 

    Low Testosterone — Not only is Testosterone a fat burning hormone, men and women lose it as they age ( Peak levels decline after 25yoa) T is required for muscle mass, and we all know how metabolically active muscle mass is. The drop in T can cause an increase in body fat, insulin resistance, heart disease and even certain cancers. Exercise is crucial here to help build T levels (Along with other support I can provide) but maintaining muscle mass and activity in the gym will maintain these levels quicker. 

     

     

    1. Lack of Consistent Quality Sleep —Poor sleep habits and sleep loss can boost cortisol levels and accelerate pre diabetes and insulin resistance. Being on our phones before bed with the bright lights affects our ability to get into deep restful REM sleep. Furthermore, when you’re tired, your body craves sugar for “energy” and calories. Notice when you are tired, you inherently want to eat more. 

     

    1. Food Sensitivities and Inflammation — undiagnosed food sensitivities may contribute to weight gain or the inability to lose weight, fluid retention, increased appetite and Inflammation.  One (of the many) weight loss hormones is called Leptin, which is responsible for regulating your body’s appetite and metabolism. In healthy people, the production of leptin signals the brain to suppress appetite and speed up metabolism—leading these people to feel less hunger, burn more calories and lose the excess fat. Chronic inflammation, however, impairs the brain’s ability to receive leptin’s appetite-suppressing message.

     

    1. Thyroid Dysfunction —One of the more common imbalances I see in my practice is Hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism, a condition where the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone, is characterized by unexplained weight gain and/or difficulty losing weight. To find out if your thyroid gland is functioning properly, we need to do a blood test with all your thyroid markers; TSH, T3, T4, Thyroid antibodies. (Best bet is to do this privately so you get the whole panel) Cofactors are also involved in proper functioning of your thyroid such as Selenium, Iodine, Zinc, B vitamins. The key here is looking for “optimal”. Not “normal” or “in range”. The reference range for Thyroid health is quite large, so getting to an Optimal TSH is key.  

     

    1. Insulin Imbalance — if your blood sugar levels and insulin are off, you may experience intense carb cravings, a rollercoaster highs and lows of hunger/blood sugar and energy levels, difficulty losing weight and excess belly fat. Insulin resistance means your cells can’t absorb the extra blood glucose your body keeps generating from the food you eat, and your liver converts the glucose into fat. Processed foods high in carbs and refined sugars (even natural sugars- think dried fruit) play a role in insulin resistance. Insulin imbalance can give rise to Type 2 diabetes so it is important to get those numbers under control. One of the most helpful ways to reduce blood sugar levels ( aside from the more obvious getting rid of carbs/sugars) is to practice Intermittent Fasting. This 16 hour “fast” helps your body burn off glycogen stores that may be contributing to weight gain. 

     

    *** Lastly, address the mental-emotional and psychological reasons behind your eating, and the effect they are having on your weight loss efforts: 

     

    1. Heart, Head and Habit Hungers VS. Healthy Hunger — the terms I have coined in my practice for the psychological reasons people overeat and turn to food. 

    Healthy hunger: Hunger as we know it

    Heart Hunger: Emotional eating

    Head Hunger: Scheduled eating

    Habit Hunger: Habitual eating

     

    • 19-02-2020

    How to navigate a Keto Flu

    What to expect during your first week on the metabolic ketogenic reset

    Many followers of the keto diet experience rapid weight and fat loss, lower hunger levels, and improved energy levels. Since most high sugar foods are eliminated, controlling your calories becomes effortless. 

    Those who have joined the ketogenic movement can attest that the early weight loss comes with a potential toll. The first week on a low carbohydrate intake can be challening - mentally and physically. As your brain and body adapt to a life without glucose, you may notice minor changes in your mood. 

     

    Brain fog 

    The first major sign – coming 2 or 3 days into your ketogenic transition – will be brain fog. As your body switches from glucose to ketones as its main source of energy, the fog will slowly lift as your body adjusts. Keep active to help keep your circulation flowing. 

     

    Keto Flu & How To Help

    “Keto flu” is a term for the fatigue some people may experience during the first few days of a low carb diet. Your body is withdrawing from carbohydrates and adjusting to running on fat. For some, this adjustment comes seamlessly without many symptoms. For others, the adjustment period can me more intense and come with a series of symptoms. The “flu” usually sets in between day 3 and 7. It typically ends between days 10-14. The symptoms may be exacerbated if you have previously sustained a high carb diet, are dehydrated, not supplementing with electrolytes or under excess stress paired with adrenal insufficiency. 

     

    Symptoms of Keto Flu are:

    ●     Headache

    ●     Dizziness

    ●     Heart palpitations

    ●     Nausea

    ●     Diarrhea 

    ●     Muscle cramping 

    ●     Weakness

    ●     Decreased athletic ability 

     

    The best and easiest place to start with Keto Flu is water and electrolytes. This helps flush the system. Be sure to include electrolytes such as magnesium and pink or white sea salts. 

    Beyond Keto Flu, there are a few other potential side effects to note, some may appear rapidly while others have a slower onset. Regardless, these are signs and symptoms of your body talking to you. If ignored, your body will talk louder and louder until you address whatever is going on. Some other things to watch out for are:

     

    ●     Skin changes: your skin is your largest organ and one of the main sites for detoxification. Because of this, any time you dramatically alter your diet or embark on a detox plan, your skin may get substantially worse before it gets better. It might be in the form of acne, rashes, itchiness, dryness or flaking 

    ●     Bowel changes: Any dietary changes can affect the natural digestion and elimination schedule you are used to. FOr some, detoxing and supplementing with MCT oil plus increased fats can lead to loose stools or diarrhea. Some people may also report constipation or more hard stools. The body often needs transition time until things normalize again. When symptoms persists we have many options whether it be herb, nutrient or botanical extract to assist the body in digesting and breaking down the foods you are consuming. It may also be a food intolerance from something new you have introduced. 

    ●     Bad breath: one hallmark sign of being in ketosis is bad breath. It is often temporary and can be masked with proper breath mints or sprays and impeccable oral hygiene. We have many options of mints and gums that will help you get around this during your transition. 

    ●     Hair loss: you may experience hair loss with rapid weight loss. However, there is usually an underlying cause for the loss and once the root issue has been addressed and corrected your hair will grow back quickly. A proper workup for hair loss includes iron deficiency, hypothyroidism and nutrient deficiencies. You must also ensure that you are eating adequate calories and are avoiding any extreme calorie restriction periods. 

    • 13-02-2020

    Reacquainting yourself with Healthy hunger

    Did you know that as babies we were actually born with these hunger and satiety cues? Babies naturally eat when they are hungry. They cry asking for food and innately stop when they are full. Along the way, as adults, these cues have been lost or forgotten, and now we need to reacquaint ourselves with them. Lets bring it back to Healthy Hunger

    1. Establish your why.  This is a very crucial step in your ability to get back to healthy hunger. “why” do you want to do this? It has to go beyond the “ I want to lose weight” piece. Specifically, why do you want to lose weight? This “WHY” will becomes your motivating force and the difference between eating the cooking or leaving it alone. People with a strong why will always be more successful than people who don’t. once you have your “why” determined, write it down and place it somewhere where you can be continually reminded that it is more than just looking good.
    2. Keep a Diary.  I want you to record what you are eating. Everything ranging from breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and beverages.  It would be extra beneficial to write down what times you are eating at as well. Studies show over and over again that people who keep a food diary not only consume fewer calories, but are more accountable to themselves and in tune with their bodies. I want you to take it one step further, and record your moods and emotional responses to the changes you are making. This will help you when you start doing the deeper work to get you through ‘Heart Hunger’. 
    3. Practice mindful eating. Stop and literally chew your food aiming for 20 complete chews. Put your fork down in between bites. Take a breath. Taste the food. Enjoy the textures. Stop eating on the go, on the run, in front of the tv, in front of the computer screen or when talking on the phone. Be present in the moment as you are eating. When you are eating, try making it the only activity you are engaging in. When you make your first sigh of being full, that is your cue to stop. 
    4. First Raid the Kitchen. You are tasked to go through your kitchen with a big old box and a giant garbage bag. In your box goes your unopened canned and perishable goods which you can provide to those in need, a local shelter or community centre or charity. Into the garbage bag goes the stuff that has already been opened and that you now need to get rid of. It isn’t enough to say “ oh my daughter will eat that box of cookies”. Nope! You will! One night four nights from now, when this shift just seems too hard, you will think just one is ok or maybe two. Maybe you will eat the whole bag, maybe you wont, but we want this stuff out of your house, out of your body and out of your life, so throw it out now instead. By not having temptations around you, you will better be able to remain focused and in control and making and sticking to these necessary changes. 
    5. Then love the kitchen. My hope is that your transition to a whole foods sparked a love for being in the kitchen. To stay healthy, you must really make your own food from whole ingredients from the earth. Processed foods contain so much added preservatives, sugar, salt and unnecessary preserving agents, additives and chemicals that we should not be consuming them in the quantities we are. In fact, I can argue that these foods really are the reason we are facing the obesity epidemic we are today. Please take the time to cook homemade meals. They do not need to be elaborate or fancy, all I ask is that they are made from real food and real ingredients that you can pronounce and recognize. It may seem overwhelming at first as we are all busy people with a lot going on, but that is definitely no excuse to frequent a drive through 5 times a week, or indulge in takeout or delivery on a regular basis. It is possible to eat healthy and wholesome every meal of every day, it just requires getting organized and planning a bit at first, until it becomes easier and more manageable to carry out on a regular basis. My trick is to cook up a storm at one time, allowing extras to be frozen and placed into portioned containers for another day that you may in fact be too busy, or too lazy and don’t feel like making something from scratch. I always recommend meal prep on the weekends, when you have one hour, instead of watching tv or while the laundry is running, to make the time. If you wait to find the time, it wont happen. You have to make the time, make it a priority so it actually gets done. Here are a few ideas to prep for the week: 
    • Boil a pot of quinoa- it makes for a great protein rich salad topper in the week
    • Salads in a jar. For quick lunches at work, layer salad dressing, lettuce, kale, veggies and toppings in a mason jar.
    • Hardboiled eggs
    • Chicken breasts sliced for salads or stirfrys
    • Salmon cakes
    • Bean burgers
    • Bean salads
    • Homemade guacamole
    • Homemade hummus
    • Nut butters
    • Sliced fruit and veg 
    • Roasted vegetables
    • Stews
    • Soups
    • Chilis

    These all make for quick and easy meals or snacks that you can take on the go, or freeze for a lunch or dinner at a later time. Making meals ahead of time, grocery shopping, chopping, planning and prepping both meals and snacks will become an extremely important factor in your success. When we are busy, and don’t have anything prepared, we reach for what is quick, easy and convenient. 

    1. Use the Hunger scale daily. The hunger scale is a tool that will help aid you and guide you toward your goals by avoiding mindless eating. This should keep you in touch with your hunger and satiety centres. 
    2. Starving- weak, lightheaded, irritable
    3. Uncomfortably hungry- hard to concentrate
    4. Very hungry- ready to eat now, stomach is rumbling
    5. Slightly uncomfortable- starting to feel signs of hunger
    6. Comfortable and satisfied
    7. Perfectly comfortable
    8. Full- a little bit uncomfortable
    9. Uncomfortably full- starting to feel bloated. “I ate more than I should have”
    10. Too full- need to loosen pants
    11. Stuffed - food coma, thanksgiving dinner full, Christmas dinner full, cant breathe full

     

    Realistically, you should only eat if you are feeling 1, 2 or 3. Put your fork down at 5 and wait until the next meal to eat again. If you are trying to lose weight, stopping at 5 allows you to eat less than your body is burning. Don’t wait for 1 or 2 to start eating. By this point, all rational decision making has gone out the window and the likelihood of you reaching for a salad is overwhelmed by a biologically propelled craving for calorie dense food. Start eating at number 3, when you are very hungry and ready to yet, yet not desperate enough to eat anything and everything in your path. You want to have enough hunger pangs that your cue to eat is evident and clear, but still being able to stay in control of what and how much you are eating, making the right choices for both. Once again, don’t wait until you are weak, light headed, dizzy, shaky or irritable. If you do, your next steps will take you further away from your goals and habits that we are trying to positively change. Always ask yourself, is this taking me steps closer to my goal or taking me backwards away from my goal? Is this helping me or hurting me? Is this in alignment with what I want? 

    Now, the next part of this hunger scale. When to stop? Stop eating at number 6, when you are perfectly comfortable and satisfied. You may feel like you could or would want to eat more, but could quickly shift to too full, bloated and reach to loosen your pants. It takes 20minutes after you have eaten, for your brain to register full and have the satiety signals kick in. so if you stop eating slightly before you are too full, 20 minutes later you will likely be there. Staying on the hunger scale between number 3 and number 6 should be your goal. This will ensure you don’t starve and don’t stuff, it will also ensure that you feel lighter and more energetic as opposed to lethargic and heavy. If you need to check in mid meal, and see where you are at on the scale, go for it. Actually, I encourage you to do so. Put your fork down, take a breath, and check in with yourself. Over time, practicing this routine will become a sure habit and healthy hunger will be established. 

    • 10-02-2020

    The Scary Facts About Heart Disease and Women That Will Get Your Blood Pumping

    I bet when you think of a heart attack, you imagine an older, larger man clutching his left arm before crashing to the ground. You probably don’t immediately think of your Aunt Susan or your best friend Kim, or your son’s teacher Mrs. Dhaliwal. Maybe because Auntie Sue always seems to have so much energy and Kim is young and Mrs. Dhaliwal…well, she’s a woman and women have 99 health issues but heart disease isn’t one of them. Right? Wrong! 

    Here are some scary statistics you need to know about, straight from the Women’s Heart Health Report of 2018:

    Every 20 minutes a woman in Canada dies of heart disease.

    Heart disease is the leading cause of premature death for Canadian women.

    5 times more women die from heart disease than breast cancer.

    Early heart attack signs were missed in 78% of women.

    Women who have a heart attack are more likely to suffer or die from a second heart attack than men.

    Why the gender bias then when it comes to heart disease? 

    The bias begins in research. Two thirds of clinical research on heart disease focuses on men and is then applied to the entire population. This makes no sense when women’s hearts are anatomically different from men. Our research is sub-par, and our testing methods follow suit. You can’t get accurate information about a woman’s heart from a machine that is designed to test a man’s. According to Yves Savoie, CEO of Heart & Stroke, “Women’s hearts are still misunderstood. We are decades behind in our knowledge of the differences between men’s and women’s hearts.”

    The Women’s Heart Health Report http://www.heartandstroke.ca/-/media/pdf-files/canada/2018-heart-month/hs_2018-heart-report_en.ashx?la=en&hash=3BBC7F1DD1DA3EDC6B2B0E9BB31E855268C051EB put out earlier this year by Heart & Stroke is telling and terrifying – but important to read and understand. Ladies, knowledge is power. And teaming up with a medical professional you trust is a great part of advocating for your own best health.

    In my practice, my focus is on preventative care for this life-giving organ. Each patient is different and requires a customized plan but there are some general things you can do to keep your heart happy. 

    HERE ARE 5 TIPS TO HELP YOU LOVE YOUR HEART

    1. Eat a low-sodium diet that is loaded with fruits and vegetables. Remember, not all vegetables are created equal – swap a Caesar salad for a quinoa and black bean salad the next time you are out for lunch. Think of it as making one choice at a time. When you feel hungry next, make the best choice you can. 
    2. Work that muscle! And do it in a sustainable, fun way that is perfect for you. That might mean starting out twice a week with a personal trainer. Or it could mean looking up videos on how to use the stairs at home to work out your glutes and quads. Throw in some music! Choose to make this your time. And if you start out slowly and then build up, you’re more likely to continue working out over a longer period of time than if you burn yourself out at the gym 6 days a week. 
    3. Look for ways to reduce stress. Ok, easier said than done, you tell me. I get it. I’m a mom and I work and I do everything I can for my family. But I know that if I don’t take some time for myself, I start to lose my edge. Working out helps me reduce stress but so does saying ‘no’ to things I really don’t want to invest my time in. It’s going to look different for everyone but if you can work in one way to reduce stress at this point, that is a great start! It’s amazing what an hour in the garden by yourself can do if you’re someone who loves to connect in Nature. Lowering stress reduces your blood pressure which significantly decreases your chance of a heart attack.
    4. Take heart-healthy supplements to support everything else you do. There are many different brands and products that you can find in health food stores; it’s best to check with your naturopath to decide what would work for you. In general, CoQ10, magnesium and omega 3’s are noted for their heart-healthy properties. CoQ10 can increase levels of HDL (also known as the ‘good’ cholesterol) tipping the ratio in favour of a happy heart. If you experience palpitations, you may be deficient in magnesium which is responsible for innervating the nerves that keep the heart beating regularly. And if you haven’t jumped on the omega 3’s bandwagon, you may want to look into this. Fatty oils from fish like salmon, mackerel and herring are known to decrease triglycerides and lower blood pressure among other amazing benefits. 
    5. Keep a record of any symptoms that bother you. Sometimes by the time we get in to see a medical professional, we forget the details of the incidents we want to talk about. Like how long a palpitation lasted, or when it occurred, or what else was happening at the time. These could be important details to mention so it’s best to keep track somewhere. Along the same vein, if you are dissatisfied with your visit or didn’t feel ‘heard,’ advocate for yourself by speaking up again. And if you are still not feeling comfortable with the results of a visit, try a second opinion. 

    You have many people counting on you to live a long, healthy life but there’s no one more in control of that than you. It’s important that medical research catch up to the point where more is known about a woman’s heart and what makes it tick – and what makes it not – but in the meantime, there is a lot you can do to advocate for yourself and take care of your precious heart.

    • 02-02-2020

    8 Ways To Combat High Blood Pressure In The Kitchen

    The Silent Killer. Sounds like the title of a movie you don’t want to watch alone, late at night; it conjures up the image of a dark shadow lurking by the living room window, looking in on the unsuspecting babysitter. Unfortunately, the silent killer we’re talking about here relates to your health and isn’t something you can switch off or ignore. 

    High blood pressure, or hypertension, has earned this nasty nickname because it can be present without any symptoms. It’s also one of the leading causes of death in North America. Unlike a horror movie, however, you have some control over how the scenes play out! Knowledge is power and there is plenty of information out there that is helpful, encouraging and even life-saving. I’m dishing out the goods here, like a handy cheat sheet for you to embark on a path to a heart-healthy lifestyle. 

    To begin with, it’s important to understand what blood pressure is and why you don’t want it to be high. Basically, as your heart pumps blood throughout your body, it pounds against the sides of your blood vessels. Your blood pressure is the strength of that pushing. So, you can see that if your blood pressure is too high, it’s bad news for your arteries and your heart; they all become weaker. This can lead to heart attack and stroke.  

    As with most matters of the body, what you eat is vital! Let’s take charge by understanding how nutrients affect our body so we can combat high blood pressure with some good eats!  What you want to focus on is the relationship between potassium and salt in your body. These two must live in balance to keep your kidney happy. Your kidney eliminates fluids by filtering your blood, then sends the extra fluid to your bladder so it can see itself out. The kidney’s job is important because if we retain too much fluid, our blood pressure goes up. Unfortunately, when we eat salt, we disrupt the kidney’s work. But our friend, potassium, solves that problem by balancing out the effects of salt. It’s like its superpower! Thankfully, we can get potassium from a variety of fruits, vegetables and other foods so we can create a delicious plan of action that starts in the kitchen. 

    8 Foods That Combat High Blood Pressure That Need To Be On Your Grocery List

    1. Leafy greens. Get creative with your dark green lettuces, kale, swiss chard, mustard greens, spinach and cabbage! You can enjoy them in a salad but why not throw them in a smoothie? Frozen greens have just as many nutrients as fresh, and they help create the perfect texture for a creamy smoothie. Add a handful to your wrap or sandwich or wilt some on the stove with some balsamic vinegar to dress up your plate. Throw a little baby spinach into your tomato sauce in the last few minutes of cooking before you serve it on your whole-grain pasta. There are so many ideas out there that make eating at least one serving a day super easy. https://lesliebeck.com/articles/2017/04/24/7-ways-to-eat-more-leafy-greens
    2. Berries. These are also great fresh or frozen. A delicious addition to any smoothie or topped on cereal, granola or non-dairy yogurt, it’s not hard to get in a handful of blueberries, raspberries or strawberries. Berries also make a tasty dessert or snack, so if you can’t throw them in to a regular meal, you can have a guilt-free treat at some point throughout the day!
    3. Beets. Also known as ‘nature’s candy’ and with good reason! They are so tasty simply roasted. They have a natural sweetness and are totally versatile in how you can serve them up. 
    4. Oatmeal. Remember when you went to your grandma’s house for sleepovers and she served you a comforting bowl of warm oatmeal in the morning? She knew what she was doing! It’s a high-fiber, low-sodium way to start the day, and very easy to prepare. Try this overnight oats recipe and then add in your berries for extra heart-healthy goodness. http://ohsheglows.com/2015/07/22/vegan-overnight-oats/
    5. Bananas. Have you heard of the Potassium Bullet before? That would be your average banana, super high in potassium and just as easy to eat, even on the go. Just another reason to love this natural sweetener!
    6. Salmon and other fish with Omega-3s. There are so many good things to say about eating fish like salmon, mackerel, trout and others. They do wonders for your heart health because their omega-3 fatty acids lower blood pressure and triglycerides. The ways in which you can prepare them are countless and they can easily be paired with leafy greens for a complete meal that you can feel good about. 
    7. Garlic. It makes sense that widening your arteries can lower your blood pressure, and superfood garlic does just that by increasing the nitric oxide in your body. Garlic is found in plenty of tasty (and aromatic!) dishes or if you’re brave, you can swallow it raw after chopping a clove and letting it sit exposed to the air for a minute. Chase it down with a glass of water and carry on with your day, knowing you just did something awesome for your hard-working heart!
    8. Olive oil. Last but certainly not least, it’s easy to get in your good fats with some olive oil in your homemade salad dressing. You can make a simple vinaigrette like this one https://www.kitchentreaty.com/how-to-make-a-simple-vinaigrette-salad-dressing/ to dress up those leafy greens, or toss some plain olive oil and chopped herbs onto pasta for a nice light lunch.

    When you are armed with this knowledge and a heart-smart grocery list, the ‘silent killer’ has got nothing on you! Get your culinary creative juices flowing in the kitchen and write the plot of your healthy life.

    • 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! 

    • 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!

    • 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.

    • 19-06-2017

    A New Member of the Polo Health Family

    We are used to welcoming new practitioners to our professional team, but this summer we welcome a smaller sweeter addition: a new baby in our family.

    Dr. Allana Polo is expecting her first child this August, and will be leaving for maternity leave on July 20th.

    During her absence, which at this time will be through the fall, Dr. Safia Kassam will take over working with all of Dr. Polo’s patients and any new weight loss referrals.

    If you would like to see Dr. Polo for an appointment about your health, before she leaves to have a baby, please book your appointment now (they are filling up fast).

    After July 20th, Dr. Kassam looks forward to working with you to meet all of your health needs. The rest of the team is also available, and while Dr. Polo takes care of her family, others will be taking care of patients and the clinic. Business is as usual, with our regular hours and services being offered.

    Please join us all in congratulating Dr. Polo and her husband on this impending arrival!

    To make an appointment with Dr. Polo, Dr. Kassam or another team member, call our office, or use the button below to book your appointment online. 604-544-7656.

    ** Dr. Safia Kassam, Naturopath

    ------------------------------------------------------------

    Dr. Safia Kassam is a licensed Naturopathic Physician certified in intravenous therapy, Bowen therapy, acupuncture, and holds pharmaceutical prescription rights in BC. At present, Dr. Kassam has a focus in digestive disorders, including SIBO, as well as hormone imbalances, and weight management. Dr. Kassam is a professional member of the Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors (CAND) and BC Naturopathic Physicians Association (BCNA). Dr. Kassam is a sports enthusiast. She grew up playing competitive fastpitch softball, floor hockey, and basketball and is an avid Vancouver Canucks and Seattle Seahawks fan. She also enjoys spending time with her nieces and nephews, and traveling.

    • 02-12-2015

    Holiday Wellness Tips from Vancouver's The Wellness Show

    Our own Dr. Andrea Gansner will be talking about skin health at the upcoming Wellness Show in Vancouver. What a great event for learning more about bringing health into your life. We are pleased to share wth you some tips for the Holiday Season, provided by other practitoners and businesses involved in The Wellness Show.

    Traditionally, December 1st kicks off the official beginning of the Holiday Season. This is a wonderful time of the year filled with family gatherings, parties, special events and wonderful food and drink. However, there can be stress associated with this time of the year. For some, stress and tension between family members and friends becomes more prevalent. There is also the temptation to spend more than we had planned on gifts and end up with huge credit-card bills in January. Additionally, we exercise less, eat and drink more throughout the month of December, leading to holiday weight gain. 

    We asked some of our 2016 Wellness Show exhibitors to share some tips to help you get through the holiday season unscathed. Here are some Healthy Holiday Tips from all of us here at The Wellness Show: 

    Get plenty of rest: Sleep-deprived bodies tend to gain weight more easily. This means not having alcohol later in the evening as it disrupts your sleep flow; avoid caffeine later in the day, and also foods that are high in protein, since your body has to work harder to digest them.

    Alcohol in moderation: When you decide you want a glass of wine or a rum-and-eggnog, drink a large glass of water first. For a festive cocktail, we love this holiday-themed Matcha Madness Martini, made with green tea powder from My Matcha Life. Matcha has been proven to aid in weight loss as it is packed with antioxidants and may also help to reduce stress. 

    Keep your exercise routine: Even if you're too busy to hit the gym or your yoga class, you can still exercise in other ways. Go for a brisk walk with the family or hike up in the hills in search of a Christmas tree. Lift bags of groceries! If you can stay active 3-4 days a week throughout the month of December, you will be light years ahead of those who don't, says Jennifer Browne of Fresh + Fit Vancouver. And you'll already be in a great routine in time for January's inevitable health kick.

    Portion control: Everything over the holidays looks delicious and we want to eat everything, says Kim Szymanski, in-house nutritionist for Nesters Market. The trick is to take smaller portions and then you can try a variety of foods.

    Eat a good breakfast: It really is the most important meal of the day! On days when you have a party to go to, feeling full of good, healthy foods will help you to stay on track at the buffet. These Banana Walnut Chocolate Chip Muffins are refined sugar free, vegan, and gluten free. The recipe comes from our friends at Hooray Truffles. As a bonus dark chocolate is packed with antioxidants and may help with depression.

    Supplement: With the lack of natural light and the incessant rain this time of the year, it's easy to get a case of the blues. Try supplementing with Omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish oil, avocados and Alligga Flaxseed cooking oil) and Vitamin D. Great for your brain, and will elevate your mood!

    Tame the frizzies: Cold, dry winter air can play havoc on our hair at a time of the year when we really want to look our best! Here's a tip from Carina Organics: Warm water opens your hair cuticles, enabling shampoo and conditioner to enter so that it can do its job. On the downside, too much heat can strip your hair of its natural oils and cause frizz. It will also leave your cuticles open, making them more susceptible to damage. A better idea is to start your shower with warm water and finish with a blast of cold. This helps to close the cuticle after you have washed your hair and seals in the moisture from your conditioner. It also helps to use a leave-in conditioner, such as Carina Organics Sweet Pea Leave-In Conditioner. 

    Moisturize: Our skin also suffers in the cold, dry air. Argan oil is truly versatile and can be used in many ways as a simple solution for all your rehydration needs, says Elizabeth Lesztak, Pharmacist at Pure Pharmacy. Naturally rich in antioxidants, essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals, it can be used as a facial serum, or add a drop to your favourite foundation or bronzer to add a more dewy glow to your holiday look. You can also use it as a hydrating exfoliator for dry lips: add a few drops to a sugar scrub, gently massage on the lips and rinse off. Instant silky smooth lips!

    Give the gift of experience: It's easy to get caught in the 'need more stuff' trap, but it creates more waste and is not good for the environment. Set budgets around Christmas gifts and stick to them. Consider giving the gift of an experience rather than an object; take your loved ones skating on an outdoor pond and bring along a thermos of hot chocolate. Time and attention are also powerful gifts focus on fun!

    Plan healthy meals in advance: When your schedule heats up in December, making sure that you are getting healthy meals on the table can be a big challenge. Take some time earlier in the month to plan, shop for and prepare healthy dishes that you can freeze. All you have to do is take one out and pop it in the oven. Alternatively, create pre-bagged and frozen ingredients for your slow cooker. Soups, casseroles and stews are all great options.

    If healthy living is on your 2016 to do list, we'd love to see you at the Wellness Show!

    The Wellness Show, Western Canada's biggest trade show dedicated to holistic living, takes place from February 12 to 14, 2016, at the Vancouver Convention Centre East, Exhibit Hall B & C, 999 Canada Place in downtown Vancouver. Tickets are $14.50 General Admission, $12.50 Seniors 65+ / Students with valid ID, $6.00 Children (5 and under free), and $30.00 3 ­ day pass. Tickets will be available online at thewellnessshow.com, or at the door.

     

    Photo Copyright: sarunyufoto2010 / 123RF Stock Photo

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