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Resources

  • Women's Health - Pelvic Organ Prolapse

    Keira Wetherup Brown is a Life Coach specializing in supporting women living with the condition of pelvic organ prolapse or POP. Through her support services she inspires women with pelvic organ prolapse to reclaim the health, joy, and grace in their lives.  She is an advocate for educating women about POP through her writing and speaking.

    www.livingwithprolapse.com

     

  • Case Study on Adrenal Fatigue

    Feeling stressed, fatigued and having difficultly losing weight? You may be experiencing adrenal fatigue.

    Background

    A thirty-five year old female by the name Kate came to see me with the concern of feeling constantly stressed and fatigued.  She was having difficulty getting up in the morning even though she slept eight hours every night.  In addition, she was having difficulty with weight loss, especially around her midsection. This was extremely frustrating for her because other than the five coffees she needed daily to keep awake, her diet was quite balanced and she exercised  for an hour five times weekly.  Lately she had been feeling irritable and a little depressed which was something she had not felt in the past. She had recently gone through some difficult life transitions - a divorce, moving homes and a change in her job.   

    Diagnosis

    After taking Kate’s health history, administering a physical exam, analyzing a questionnaire she had completed and taking a salivary cortisol sample, it was clear she was suffering from adrenal fatigue.

    Adrenal fatigue (or hypoadrenia)  is a state your body undergoes if you are exposed to constant amounts of high stress.  When you are in this state your adrenal glands (two little glands that sit on your kidneys), release high amounts of the hormone cortisol.  This can cause a variety of symptoms such as fatigue, difficulty losing weight, depression and a general lack of wellbeing. Testing cortisol levels through saliva is an excellent medium for measurement as blood and serum testing can cause an anticipatory rise in cortisol where saliva does not.

    Treatment

    I provided a plan for Kate that included adjusting her diet and including some trace minerals she was deficient in, such as zinc.  I prescribed the adaptagen (a herb that acts as a rejuvenating tonic for stress, anxiety and fatigue) Ashwagandha, TAD by Genestra and some simple stress reduction strategies.  I also gave her several sessions of acupuncture to balance her “Qi” which in Chinese Medicine means “life energy”. 

    Outcome

    After a few weeks Kate felt like herself again.  Her weight loss efforts were no longer in vain and she was able to get up in the morning without great difficulty. Overall she felt a sense of renewed energy and a brighter outlook on life.

    Symptoms of adrenal fatigue:

      • Excessive fatigue or exhaustion
      • Difficulty getting up in the morning
      • Insomnia
      • Difficulty losing weight (especially around the midsection)
      • Strong cravings for salty and/or sweet things
      • Low blood pressure
      • Low libido
      • Excessive thirst and urination
      • Caffeine dependency in the morning
      • Excess hunger or lack of appetite
      • Irritability

     

     

  • The Benefits of Vitamin D - Women of Influence (Winter issue)

    My main role as a naturopathic doctor is to look at each individual patient in a holistic manner to help them reach their optimum health goals.  This includes looking at diet, lifestyle, stress, exercise, etc.  That said, given the busy and full lifestyles that my patients lead, I am constantly asked what are some easy things that can be done to stay healthy. Although there is no quick fix for all health concerns, one way you can take care yourself is to ensure you are getting adequate amounts of vitamin D.  

    Studies have shown that vitamin D can not only prevent many chronic diseases, but can also be beneficial in weight loss and many believe this is just the tip of the iceberg of what this vitamin can do.

    BENEFITS OF VITAMIN D

    Maintains bone, joint and muscle health

    Vitamin D is well known for its ability to regulate calcium and phosphorous levels in the blood to aid in bone growth and remodelling. Studies have shown that supplementing can help maintain strong bones, muscle and joint health, and also reduce hip fractures by 60-70%.
    Cancer prevention
     
    Research shows that appropriate levels of vitamin D can help prevent breast, ovarian, prostate and colorectal cancer.  One four-year clinical trial that involved 1,200 women, discovered that those taking vitamin D had an astounding 60% reduction in the incidence of cancer compared with those who did not take the supplement. 
    Weight loss
     
    Recent research suggests that vitamin D levels may be correlated with ones ability to loose weight.  One study showed that low levels of vitamin D in the body at the start of a low-caloric diet were able to predict weight loss success.  For each nanogram per milliliter increase in vitamin D precursor in the blood, it was observed that an extra half pound loss in weight was able to be achieved with the appropriate diet plan.

    Additionally, a higher baseline of vitamin D levels (both the precursor and active forms) predicted greater loss of abdominal fat. These results suggest that the addition of vitamin D to a reduced-calorie diet will lead to better weight loss.

    The list goes on…
     
    Vitamin D also supports brain and nervous system health. Studies show that high circulating levels of vitamin D were linked with lowering the risk of MS and reversing inflammation associated with Parkinson’s and age-related dementia.  Low levels have also been linked to high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.  Vitamin D can decrease depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and strengthen the immune system for cold and flu prevention. A dose of 800 IU daily can reduce the incidence of cold and flu and 2000 IU daily, can reduce the incidence even further. Vitamin D also supports the health of mother and child during pregnancy and lactation. A study showed that children born in the winter when the mothers D3 levels are the lowest have an increased risk of developing diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, MS and some cancers in the future and it is essential for mother to prevent bone loss and preeclampsia.

    WHERE DO WE GET VITAMIN D FROM?

    It is clear that vitamin D is an essential part of our overall health.  But where do we get this super nutrient? Our main source of vitamin D is from sunlight. Exposing the skin to the sun's UVB rays for short periods of time triggers the synthesis of vitamin D. The limited sun exposure to the skin may explain why the incidence of cancer is higher in northern latitudes than at the equator. The fact that Canadians do not get enough vitamin D from sunlight from October through March prompted the Canadian Cancer Society in June 2007 to recommend adults take 1000 IU of vitamin D per day in the fall and winter. Adults over 50, people with dark skin, those who do not go outdoors often, and those who wear sunscreen daily should take the supplement all year round.
     
    Vitamin D can also be found in small amounts in some foods. Certain fish such as Salmon, can provide 300-500 IU per serving, milk provides 100 IU per glass and egg yolks as well as mushrooms also contain minimal amounts. Given this information, health authorities may move towards implementing a substantial increase in food fortification to affect the research study results.
     
    If you are deficient in vitamin D, the best way to increase your levels is to supplement with vitamin D3. Initially a high dose may be necessary to bring your levels to an optimum range. Once your levels are stable, supplementing with 1,000 to 2,000 IU per day depending on the time of year, your ethnicity, health, size and lifestyle is a good idea. 
    It is best to speak with your medical or naturopathic doctor to discuss what amount would be suitable for you.

    I recommend to all of my patients to keep their vitamin D levels at an optimal range using diet, supplements and regular, safe sun exposure to maintain bone health, decrease the risks of certain serious diseases such as cancer, to potentially help with weight loss, and to increase their immune system.

    View this article on page 18 in the Women of Influence magazine - Winter Edition

     

     

     

  • The Scoop on Detox

    WHAT IS A DETOX?
    A detox is exactly what it sounds likes;it is the process of removing toxins from your body. Toxins are eliminatedfrom the body via emunctories which are the organs or ducts that are involved in detoxification, i.e., liver and skin. When you do a detox you are supporting your emunctories to do this.

    WHY SHOULD I DO A DETOX?
    Internal and external toxins are impossible to avoid as they are found in the air we breath, the water drink, the food we eat, the paint and carpets in our homes, and many consumer products. We also create many toxins as a result of metabolism and are
    exposed to toxins as a result of our environment.

    WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF DOING A DETOX?
    • Feel young, look great
    • Increase vitality, energy and stamina
    • Reduce allergies
    • Improve digestive functions
    • Improve concentration, clarity and mental focus
    • Increased immunity and resistance to illness
    • Reduction in risk for many chronic diseases
    • Weight loss

    WHO SHOULD DO A DETOX?
    Anyone who is experiencing any of the following, may want to consider doing a detox:
    • Fatigue
    • Poor skin and skin tone
    • Dark circles under the eyes
    • Yellow-coated tongue
    • Bitter taste in the mouth
    • Headaches
    • Irritability
    • Premenstrual tension
    • Arthritis
    • Inability to digest fats
    • Loss of memory or inability to focus
    • Insomnia
    • Difficulty loosing weight

    HOW DOES OUR BODY DETOXIFY?
    Through 7 organs and ducts:
    1. The Liver converts toxic substances to a more soluble state (either fat or water soluble) so that other organs can remove the toxins from the body
    2. The Kidneys take water soluble toxins that are excreted via the kidneys in urine.
    3. The Lymphatic System removes toxins from the immediate cellular environment and delivers the toxins to the circulatory system
    4. The circulatory system carries toxins in the blood that are eventually filtered out as blood passes through the liver
    5. The colon takes fat soluble toxins that are excreted in bile, made by the liver, and incorporates this in the feces which leaves the body via the colon
    6. The skin removes toxins via sweat and the scuffing off of old skin cells
    7. The lungs removes toxins via exhaled air

    WHAT TYPES OF DETOXES ARE THERE?
    There are many different types of detoxes. Some involve just using juices, some involve changing a persons diet, some use specific diet plans and supplements or herbs to help pull toxins from the body, and for those that are too busy to change their diet, there are even detoxes that simply use homeopathic drops in some water to be taken daily.

    HOW LONG DOES A DETOX TYPICALLY LAST FOR?
    It depends on the detox program, but typically for 2-3 weeks.

    WHAT CAN I DO DAILY TO DETOXIFY?
    1. Drink plenty of clean and pure water
    2. Drink warm water with a squeeze of lemon first thing in the morning and dandelion tea to help support your liver
    3. Exercise regularly
    4. Breath properly
    5. End your showers in cold water to increase circulation
    6. Eat healthy foods, especially vegetables which are low in toxins (e.g., organic produce)
    7. Decrease your exposure to external toxins found in cleaning, cosmetics, skin care, and hair care products

     

     

    Selene has appeared on the Steven and Chris show on CBC. Here is her show on demystifying detox:

    Watch the full episode on CBC

  • Food Allergy Testing

    Do you suffer from bloating, gas, IBS, unexplained weight gain, skin conditions, headaches or mood disorders? If so, it may be time to look into food allergy testing.

    By: Dr. Selene Wilkinson, ND

    IgE versus IgG food allergies

    While most people are familiar with IgE food reactions, the type that have rapid reactions and occur within minutes of consumption of a specific food and can cause life-threatening allergies (e.g. peanut allergies), we can also have IgG reactions to food that may take hours or days to develop.  In an IgG reaction, the IgG antibodies attach themselves to the allergen and create an antibody-allergen complex. These complexes are normally removed by special cells called macrophages.  However, if they are present in large numbers and the allergen is still being consumed, the macrophages can’t keep up. The allergen-antibody complexes accumulate and are deposited in body tissues.  Once in the tissue, these complexes release inflammation causing chemicals that may contribute to both acute and chronic disease.

    The AllerGSpot Test

    The AllerGSpot tests for possible sensitivities to a minimum of 96 different foods.   If you are experiencing symptoms such as, IBS, digestive discomfort, headaches, extreme fatigue, skin conditions, recurrent illness or depressed immune function, you should consider this test. With this test, I can help you determine foods that your body agrees with and foods that you are sensitive to and should avoid.

    How is the test performed?

    Only a small amount of blood from a prick on your finger is required to complete the test.  Once completed, the blood sample is sent to the laboratory for analysis.  Results are returned to the clinic within approximately three weeks.

    When the food sensitivities are determined, I work with my patients to create a customized, balanced diet which may resolve uncomfortable symptoms. Foods which are "reactive" are to be avoided for a period of time, while the gut is given a chance to heal and then eventually the foods can be slowly reintroduced. In some cases, it may be necessary for the patient to permanently avoid the reactive food(s).

    Leaky Gut Syndrome

    An allergy test report that shows high reactivity to most of the foods the patient regularly eats is suggestive of leaky gut symdrome, which is caused by an overload of antibody-allergen complexes that can cause inflammation in the lining of the gut.  The inflamed gut allows food particles to leak through the gut lining into the peritoneal cavity, provoking production of antibodies to attack the perceived foreign invader (the food particle).  Leaky gut syndrome can also be caused by stress, anti-inflammatory drugs, candida overgrowth, EFA deficiencies, and excessive alcohol consumption.  This can also be treated by removing the food allergens for a period of time, healing the gut and then slowly re-introducing the foods. 

     

  • Top 10 Organic Foods to Buy

    By choosing organic food we decrease our exposure to pesticides and other chemicals, all while supporting a sustainable and environmentally friendly agricultural community. Unfortunately the cost of organics can be upwards of 50% higher compared to conventionally grown food. The issue then becomes affordability.

    Considering the impact pesticides and other harmful substances have on our health and environment, should the question then be – can we afford not to buy organic?

    Luckily there are options. By carefully choosing the food we purchase both organically and non-organically, we can decrease our exposure to pesticides and other chemicals while not placing a burden on our bank account.

    The following is a list of the top ten products that contain the highest level of chemicals and therefore should be purchased organically.

    1. Peaches
    Peaches are the number one fruit that should be purchased organically. This juicy fruit has been shown to contain ten times the amount of pesticides than any other fruit. The contaminants include the cancer-linked fungicides captan and iprodione, and the neurotoxin pesticide methyl parathion. Pesticide levels on peaches are shown to be repeatedly above legal limits. That should be enough to convince you to buy organic when you reach for that peach.

    2.Apples
    Conventional apples can be sprayed with up to 36 different types of pesticides. Furthermore, 91% of tested apples in Canada were shown to be contaminated. Peeling an apple decreases the amount of pesticides absorbed, but will not completely eliminate the chemical residue. To get all the fibre and vitamin C without the pesticides, buy organic apples.

    3. Bell Peppers
    Bell Peppers have thin skins and are heavily sprayed with pesticides which make them the most contaminated vegetable available. When eating these vegetables that are packed with vitamin A and C, go organic to get all of the nutrients without the toxins.

    4. Strawberries
    Some conventional strawberries are colour enhanced with a substance containing the fungicide captan, as well as containing a number of other pesticides. Imported strawberries contain the highest amount of chemicals, as the pesticide regulations may not be as strict in other countries. The next time you dive into a bowel of the most popular berry fruit in the world, make sure they are organic.

    5. Celery
    Celery lacks a protective outer layer, which makes the many different chemicals required for conventional growth almost impossible to wash off. Stick with organic celery to add more crunch and flavour to this healthy snack that can decrease blood pressure.

    6. Grapes
    Grapes are high in both antioxidants and chemicals. Vineyards can be sprayed with over 30 different types of pesticides throughout the growing seasons. Because grapes have an extremely permeable, thin skin, even peeling will not eliminate the residues. Also remember to keep organic in mind when you are indulging in your favourite glass of wine.

    7. Spinach
    This super green food can be sprayed with over 20 different types of pesticides before it reaches your dinner table. Buying organic will give you all the strength of Popeye, without the absorption of toxic chemicals.

    8. Pears
    Although the fungicide methyl parathion was banned from use on pears (but continues to be used on both strawberries and peaches) studies show it is still a common residue on these sweet smelling fruits. Choose organic when it comes to pears to absorb all of the vitamin C, copper and fibre, without the toxins.

    9. Cherries
    These sweet little treats are not only full of powerful antioxidants, beta carotene, and vitamin C, but also numerous chemicals. Eat organic cherries to skip the toxins but gain the therapeutic properties which treat ailments such as gout, heart disease, and diabetes.

    10. Animal products
    Due to antibiotics and other chemicals such as the bovine human growth hormone (rbGH) found in conventional milk, dairy products, eggs and meat, these products should be purchased organically where possible to reduce the amount of pesticide exposure.

    If buying organic is not an option, the following list of foods have the lowest levels of pesticides and therefore are the safest non-organic nutritional foods to eat:

    • Asparagus
    • Avocados
    • Bananas
    • Broccoli
    • Cauliflower
    • Kiwis
    • Mangoes
    • Papayas
    • Pineapples
    • Onions

    Eating organically is extremely important to decrease your exposure to harmful chemicals. Even though it may cost you a little more, by choosing your food carefully you can remain close to your food budget. Your body and the environment will thank you for it.

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