• 7 Health Tips

    1. Get rid of that afternoon lull-start your day with a protein dense breakfast- Amino acids found in proteins are essential for the proper functioning of our system; they are required for a wide range of processes and reactions that happen in our body. Amino acids will allow for a better balance of blood glucose levels throughout the day, they will help maintain energy levels throughout the day and decrease cravings for sugar. They will also support the proper functioning of organs such as our liver, which plays a major role in detoxifying harmful compounds.

    1. Watch out for health foods and consume whole foods instead- Many health foods such as vegan alternatives, vegetarian alternatives, gluten-free alternatives and fat-free alternatives that we find in our grocery stores actually contain high amounts of sodium, sugar and sometimes chemicals and preservatives; you are not doing your body a favor by consuming those products and they may cause an increase in blood pressure and blood sugar levels. If you were to look at the labels you’ll find that in many fat-free alternatives, for example, the fats have been replaced with sugar, sodium and chemical flavors. Stay away from pre-packaged foods even if they are vegetarian, vegan or gluten-free. Choose the full fat option because, in moderation, fats are actually healthy for you and always go for whole foods such as raw whole vegetables, whole grains and fermented foods. Stay away from anything refined, especially refined flour and refined sugar. 

    1. If you’re trying to lose weight, do not diet-Eating a very low in calories diet and exercising excessively is actually a recipe for metabolic havoc. The idea of burning more calories than you are eating will cause your metabolism to slow down and will change your body’s composition to contain more fat, less muscle mass and is not sustainable for most people. This type of diet will most often result in gaining all the weight back very quickly and will make it harder to lose weight the next time you try to lose it. When it comes to achieving sustainable weight loss there is no “one size fits all” solution. It is about working with your own unique metabolism, finding out what works best for you and implementing life-long dietary and lifestyle habits.

    1. Recover from alcohol, stress and bad dietary habits-Regular alcohol consumption causes many deficiencies in our body, a major one being a depletion of B vitamins. It also increases inflammation, creates a significant burden on our major detoxification organ, our liver, and increases our risk for many chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease, liver disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension and much more. Stress will result in certain nutrient depletions, hormonal imbalances and an imbalance in blood sugar levels to name a few. Bad dietary habits means that we are not only adding to the toxic burden of our body but also not providing our body with all the nutrients that it requires to function optimally. If our organs are not functioning optimally and we are not providing our system with the nutrients that it needs to function properly a slue of symptoms and conditions will incur. For this reason, I recommend that my patients get tested to evaluate for any vitamin, mineral or nutrient deficiencies in order to correct any deficiencies that exist using both dietary counseling and orthomolecular medicine. In addition, naturopathic medicine has much to offer in order to naturally support our body’s detoxification pathways, starting with making sure you are having regular bowel movements. Examples of botanicals that support the liver in its detoxification function are Sylibum Mariamun, Schisandra chinensis and rosmarinus officinalis. From an orthomolecular perspective N-Acetylcysteine is a very powerful antioxidant that functions to support the liver’s detoxification pathways.

    1. Decrease screen time before bed-Stay away from computer, phone and tablet screens at least 30 minutes before bed. Many of us have issues falling asleep and often the cause can be traced back to screen time right before bed. Looking at a screen will cause photoreceptors in the retina of our eye to detect light and inhibit our natural ability to produce a hormone called melatonin. Melatonin is a neurohormone produced in the brain by the pineal gland; its secretion is stimulated by darkness and suppressed by light. This means that Melatonin is implicated in the regulation of our circadian biological clock, meaning that it signals our body that it is time for bed. Ensuring that you’re getting good quality sleep is extremely important for hormone balance, mood balance, libido and energy.

    1. Take good care of your gut-There are many ways to ensure the health of your digestive tract. Gut health may be at the root of a wide range of diseases such as anxiety, depression, cardiovascular disease, arthritis and skin issues amongst others. The main determinants of gut health include: eating well, removing inflammatory foods that may be causing an issue, making sure absorption and digestion is optimal, healing the lining of our digestive tract and making sure that there is a healthy balance between good and bad bacteria. All those things will go a long way in the maintenance of general wellbeing. Additionally, it is important to remember that there is a great concentration of hormones that reside in our gut and those hormones influence mental health and mood.

    1. Build repair times into your life-It is of utmost importance that you schedule time for yourself. We all lead very busy lives and making sure you make time for yourself has become increasingly difficult. Making time to do something that you love will provide you with a healthy outlet for stress and impact your internal physiology for the better. Making time for yourself at least once per week to do something relaxing, enjoyable and fulfilling is a very healthy way to manage your stress and will keep you healthy long-term. This will help you be more productive and efficient because you’ve taken the time to nourish and refresh yourself. Whether it is meditation, journaling, painting, playing a sport, exercising, taking a hot bath, playing an instrument or being creative; find whatever it is that relaxes you and makes you feel like you are doing something for yourself, do it and do it as often as possible.
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  • Reduce pain when cycling

    Reduce pain when cycling

    As summer approaches you may be thinking about getting that bicycle out of the garage, dusting it off, and going for a nice ride around the city! Here are a few tips to help the ride be as enjoyable as possible:

    1. Make sure the bike is the right fit for your needs.

    There are many different types of bikes out there, and there is one for every type of rider. From the occasional city rider to the hardcore mountain biker, make sure you are getting a bike that fits your needs. The type of terrain you are riding on, the length and distance of your rides, whether you are seeking comfort of speed, these factors will help determine the type of frame that is best for you. For example, if you are looking to do the occasional ride around the city, a simple cruiser may be all you need. But if you are looking to tackle some dirt trails, a mountain bike or hybrid might be a better option.

    2. Get your bike adjusted to your frame.

    Once you’ve selected the right type of bike, you will want to get it adjusted to your body. Minor adjustments can make a huge difference. The position of your seat and handlebars will determine how efficient your body will be when pedalling. It will also determine how relaxed and comfortable your posture will be. Getting it fitted properly before your first ride will help reduce joint and muscle pain down the road.

    3. Posture.

    Whether you have a straight bar or a drop bar on your bike, you should always ride with a neutral spine. This means bending at the hips and avoiding hunching your mid-back. If you are on a drop bar and find yourself needing to hunch your mid-back to be comfortable, you may need to adjust your hand position or replace your bar entirely with something that will allow your hands to rest comfortably without reaching forward.

    As you ride it is important to engage your core and limit excessive upper body movement. Your abdominal and back muscles help support your body as you ride and proper engagement will allow you to use your back as a fulcrum rather than swaying your body to gather momentum. 

      4. Engaging your hamstrings.

        A properly fitted bike will allow you to engage the back of your legs so that you are not just pushing down on the pedals (which can cause knee pain) but also pulling upwards.

        5. Take it easy.

        Especially with the first ride of the season, make sure you don’t overdo it. Warm up before your ride and remember to hydrate and take breaks.

        6. Enjoy yourself.

        Remember that cycling is fun! Stress can lead to further injury and reduces reaction time, so choose paths you will be comfortable with and don’t push yourself.

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      1. Vestibular Physiotherapy

        What is a Vestibular Disorder?
        Do you experience dizziness, balance problems or vertigo?  If so, you are not alone.  It is estimated that at least half of the overall U.S. population is affected by a balance or vestibular disorder sometime during their lives.  On a daily basis, we utilize 3 systems to balance:  vision, sensory and vestibular (inner ear).  When an individual experiences a disruption in the vestibular system, they could have difficulty with balance and/or dizziness.  Some of the more common symptoms of vestibular dysfunction are vertigo (spinning sensation), dizziness(lightheadedness or floating sensation), imbalance (frequent falls or difficulty walking in a straight line), visual difficulties (inability to focus or track, sensitivity to light or moving objects, nausea when reading), hearing changes and difficulty concentratingMost Common Vestibular Dysfunction Diagnoses.
        • benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)
        • post-concussion syndrome
        • unilateral vestibular hypofunction (vestibular neuritis, labyrinthitis)
        • bilateral vestibular hypofunction (ototoxicity, vestibular deficits secondary to head trauma and aging)
        • Meniere’s Disease.
        Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy (VRT)?
        Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy utilizes evidence-based interventions to "retrain" the brain to properly process input from the vestibular, visual and sensory systems.  By doing VRT, your brain will learn how to reduce faulty or incorrect signals leading to balance and vestibular disturbances.  VRT improves vestibular function through mechanisms of adaptation, habituation or substitution.  Once the brain begins to improve recognizing and processing input properly, patients will see their symptoms begin to improve.
        Benefits of VRT
        • a reduction in feelings of dizziness and vertigo
        •  improvements in standing balance and steadiness when ambulating leading to a reduction in falls
        • improved coordination and ability to adapt to perturbations or challenges to balance
        • reduction of headaches, double or blurred vision
        • improved ability to concentrate and read without experiencing vertigo
        Are you suffering from inner ear dysfunction?
        • Do you experience dizziness or vertigo?
        • Do certain movements, positions, or environments provoke your dizziness?
        • When the symtoms are present, how would you best describe them?
          • imbalance
          • environment spinning
          • feeling that you are spinning
          • lightheadedness
          • swimming or floating
          • headache
          • nausea & vomiting
          • blurred or double vision
        Have you fallen or stumbled in the past 6-12 months secondary to dizziness/symptoms?
        • Do you have difficulty walking in a straight line?  If so, what best describes your symptoms?
        • unsteadiness
        • feeling that ou are being pulled to one side
        • spinning sensation
         Are your symptoms provoked by any of the following?
        • turning over in bed or looking down or up overhead
        • turning your head to look at something to the side of you
        • walking in dark rooms, at night or on uneven surfaces
        • moving your head to look at objects while walking
        • watching moving objects in periphery
        • being in crowded areas or supermarkets
        • watching television or reading
        Jennifer Shiflet McConvey, PT, DPT is a physiotherapist in the Toronto area with multiple years of experience in vestibular and concussion physiotherapy. If you suffer from a vestibular disorder or feel that you may have a vestibular disorder, call Lemon Water Wellness today for a consultation with Jennifer.
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      2. The science behind smoking

        CAMH provides great resources for smoking cessation strategies as well as a link to Dr. Mike Evans’ illustrated video of what does and doesn’t work when thinking about quitting smoking.

        So what is this post about if not about ways you can quit smoking? I want to reveal to you the science behind smoking in hopes that this will help you understand why some can quit cold turkey while other’s can’t, understand why you feel the way you do during withdrawal, and the benefits you gain from quitting earlier. My hope is to empower you with knowledge so that you can take back control of your life.

        Why is it so difficult to quit smoking?

        In a healthy individual, a sympathetic response (aka. the “fight or flight” response) is initiated when neurotransmitters called acetylcholine bind to receptors (specifically, cholinergic receptors) in our body, often in response to a stressful situation. However, nicotine within cigarettes can initiate that same “fight or flight” response by binding to those receptors in the absence of acetylcholine. With constant stimulation of these receptors, nicotine will bind and in-activate them, thus causing your body to adapt by up-regulating the production of this receptor. This up-regulation means that over time, it will take more nicotine in order to fill all the receptors. If that doesn’t happen, cravings intensify because your body is tricked into thinking that it needs that constant sympathetic stimulation from nicotine, but isn’t getting it.

        So, physiologically speaking, depending on how much up-regulation of the receptor has occurred, some will experience far more intense withdrawal symptoms than others. Some may find that using a patch and/or slowly decreasing the number of cigarettes per day is the best way to quit while controlling the symptoms of withdrawal.

        Of course, if it was as simple as using a patch to control nicotine dosage Canada wouldn’t still be seeing a smoking prevalence of 14.5%.

        We’ve already identified what happens to your body when you smoke. But what about your brain? Never mind the physical changes; what are the reasons we smoke? Your brain is a pretty amazing thing- with enough repetition, your brain can adapt to anything. For example, if every time you walked out of your office you had a cigarette, your body would start associating walking out of the office with needing a cigarette. By simply identifying when you have cravings to certain environments, objects, or people, it can help you manage your cravings.

        And of course, motivation is key to quitting. You have to be ready for change. Here are a couple of facts to get you thinking about quitting if you are not already ready:

        • In just 8 hours after quit, excess carbon monoxide is out of your blood.
        • After just 1 week, your sense of taste and smell improves.
        • After 2-12 weeks, your circulation improves and your lung function increases.
        • 1 year after you quit, your risk of coronary heart disease is about half that of a smoker’s.
        • If you were a pack-a-day smoker, you’d save over $4,000 in 1 year.
        • After 5-15years, your stroke risk is reduced to that of a non-smoker.
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