Health Latest Research Lifestyle

Tired? How Chronic Sleep Issues Affect The Brain

No matter how many hours you’ve been in bed, you find yourself continuing to hit that snooze button to get a few more winks in before you have to start your day. You drink multiple cups of coffee just to get by, and you dream of your bed at 2pm. You toss and turn all night. You have trouble falling asleep. You have trouble staying asleep. You’re an insomniac.

If any of these issues describe you, you may have chronic sleep issues. Chronic sleep issues seep into your daily life, causing fatigue, daytime sleepiness, clumsiness, issues with weight, and has now been linked to a decline in cognitive function.

 

A new study from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis shows that lack of sleep increases amyloid beta, a protein linked to Alzheimer’s. Researchers posit that when levels of this protein are frequently high, they may collect into plaques in the brain. The brains of Alzheimer’s patients are dotted with these plaques, which likely impair with adjacent neuron function, causing long term damage.

The amyloid beta protein is a byproduct of normal brain activity, and is eliminated throughout the day. At night, the brain produces much less of the protein, reducing the chance for build up. Without proper rest, the brain continues to produce the protein at a rate that accumulates over time.

Researchers point out that the occasional all nighter isn’t something to worry about. The concern is the long term sleep disturbances and sleep issues that are keeping you from getting enough sleep regularly. They also point out that further studies are needed to determine if eradicating sleep problems reduces risk of Alzheimer’s.

However, if you find that you’re not getting adequate rest, we can help. Our doctors can work with you to identify the reason for your sleep issues, and help you get better sleep. Your brain needs it! Call us at 604-575-7275 or contact us to book a consultation.

Read the study here.

Latest Research Lifestyle

Boost Brain Power in just 10 Minutes

A new study shows that just 10 minutes of exercise can measurably improve your brain power. If you have trouble with focus, or have a “foggy brain”, this could help you.

While there is a lot of research on the multitude of benefits from long-term and prolonged exercise, Researchers from Western University, have discovered that even a short 10 minute burst of exercise can improve cognitive function, particularly in decision-making, problem-solving, and focus, at least temporarily.

Young healthy adults participating in the experiment were subject to 10 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise, and then assessed, with immediate results. A control group that did not exercise showed no marked improvement in cognitive function.

The results preliminary, but may be important in the research of elderly patients with dementia, especially if they are not very mobile.

About to write a test, write your dissertation, go into a meeting, or just need to focus? It can be as simple as putting on your runners, and doing jumping jacks, skipping, or power yoga. All you need to do is get that heart rate up for 10 minutes. Try it and tell us if it worked for you!

Read the full study here.

Lifestyle

The Surprising Reason Why You May Have Difficulty Losing Weight

weight loss, overweight, difficulty losing weight
Difficulty losing weight? The reason may surprise you.

You’ve been doing everything right. Eating pretty well, and you’re moving your body a few times a week, but you haven’t experienced any weight loss. Worse still, you may have even gained weight and your pants feel tighter! So you tweak your diet even more, and work harder at the gym, and that number still doesn’t go down. It’s been months and you’re nowhere near your reasonable goals. Does this sound familiar?

It’s been ingrained in you through magazines, television ads, and even school. Your health class with the food pyramid and fitness tests.

A healthy weight is achieved through moderate exercise and a healthy diet. What that diet looks like has changed as much as fashion has. Low fat, no fat, low carb, no carb, no sugar, vegan, gluten-free, paleo, keto, and the list goes on.

But what if you’ve changed your diet and are exercising moderately, or even heavily without much change? Or maybe there are changes, but they are happening so slowly. Even worse, what if you’re gaining weight, the opposite of your goal?

What if you think you’re doing everything right, but you’re just not losing weight, even after months of trying?

At the root of it is just math. Calories in and calories out. A deficit in calories means weight loss. Although exercise has incredible benefits for the whole body, it is not entirely necessary for managing weight, but it does make that deficit bigger and encourages loss sooner if that is the main goal.

For the weight loss math to work, your body already needs to be in great condition, which means that the chemistry is balanced, and this has to do with genetics. Generally speaking, these bodies tend to be in good physical condition purely based on their balanced chemistry.

That doesn’t mean you can’t lose weight, it just means that the way that you’ve learned about weight loss isn’t going to work with your body.

Our bodies are controlled by a number of hormones that regulate the systems inside of us. Women notice this the most every month as the hormones shift, causing changes like moodiness, water retention, pain, and fatigue. But women aren’t the only ones affected by hormonal changes. All men and women are affected by hormones and they can affect everything from stress, sleep, mood, and even metabolism and weight.

Issues losing belly fat, and difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep can be associated with high cortisol. So is massive sugar cravings. High cortisol is due to predominantly to stress, which is an epidemic in today’s society. Who isn’t stressed? Because of how cortisol affects other hormones, it can really mess with the balance of other hormones in your body.

If you feel like you’re struggling to get your weight under control, you’re not the only one. Many people come through our practice who are doing everything right according to science, but they’re still not seeing results.

Weight and hormone imbalance can become a vicious cycle. The more excess weight you carry, the more of an imbalance happens to your body chemistry as it fights to maintain the right levels. Finding that perfect balance for yourself so that your body doesn’t have to work extra hard is key.

We can help. It may be as simple as a few tweaks to your already healthy diet, or it may require more adjustments. Schedule an appointment with one of our Naturopathic doctors to tailor a plan to suit your individual needs to see real results.

Lifestyle Nutrition

3 Good Fats You Need Right Now!

you need healthy fats to lose weightFats have long been cast as evil and deadly, especially if you’re trying to lose weight. But no all fats are created equal. Your body really needs fats to survive, function, and thrive. Diets that restrict fat intake to lose weight can be dangerous to your health.

Eliminating fat from your diet to lose weight is harmful as certain beneficial fats are essential for your body to function properly.

For example, fats are critical for brain and nervous system function because the myelin (a sheath around nerve fibers that that electrical impulses are transmitted) is made of essential fatty acids.

Fats are also needed for producing hormones, blood clotting, skin and hair, as well as maintaining proper thyroid and adrenal function, and weight. Low fat diets that restrict fat to lose weight can actually slow down your metabolism as the body tries to hang onto calories and energy.

As a part of a healthy diet, these fats pack a nutritional punch by feeding your brain and your body, help you maintain a healthy weight, and keeping you feeling fuller longer.

  1. Flaxseeds or flax oil. Flax is a high source of one of the fatty acids the body does not synthesize on its own. Omega-3 fatty acids are not as readily absorbed as Omega-6 fatty acids, so getting more of this fat in your diet is necessary. Try flax oil in your homemade dressing and add flax seeds to your salad. A tablespoon or more of flaxseed in most baked goods increases this fat and fiber with little change to the end product. Add it to your smoothie, cereal, or oatmeal for a great way to start your morning.
  2. Walnuts are also a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids. They are also a rich source of heart-healthy monosaturated fats and l-arginine the amino acids. These awesome nuts also contain polyphenol antioxidants to prevent damage to cells. Try walnut oil in place of olive oil as a finishing oil because it doesn’t tolerate heat very well and can get bitter. Eating walnuts whole is the best way to obtain the antioxidants as they are mostly contained in the skin. Try adding them to salad, smoothies, parfaits, as well as in a granola mix for a snack.
  3. Avocados are a great source of a carotenoid, lutein, which protects your eyes from getting cataracts or macular degeneration. One of the reasons might be that carotenoids need fat to maximize absorption. Leafy greens and orange colored foods are high in carotenoids, but their absorption is greatly reduced without consuming them with a fat. Avocados are also high in fibre.

Good fats are as vital to a healthy body as protein and vitamins. The key is to balance these, as they are all necessary for healthy function.

If you’re struggling to lose weight and you’re not sure why, our Naturopathic Physician can help you discover the reason for your challenges. Whether you’re fed up that nothing is working, or just need some guidance, our clinic can get you on the right track. Contact us today for more information.

Lifestyle Nutrition

How To Keep Your Gut Happy On Your Summer Vacation

digestive issues - keeping your gut happy

Nothing ruins a vacation faster than having to spend all of your time in the bathroom. Severe digestive issues keep you stuck indoors and miserable for days after it’s ended. Then you spend the rest of the time wondering if it’s really over.

Keeping your gut happy is key, and it actually starts way before you even pack your suitcase.

  1. A healthy diet with plenty of dietary fiber and water will clear your digestive system and keep things regular. A few weeks before your vacation, you want to add some extra fiber to your diet. Oatmeal, chia seeds and celery are easy ways to naturally increase fiber, and as a bonus, they help lower cholesterol. Vacation often means fast food that’s high in fat and sugar, so keep that fiber in check to keep things moving.
  2. Probiotics will help to increase the amount of good bacteria to maintain healthy intestinal flora. We need a lot of good bacteria in the intestines to break down food. This ensures we absorb all the good stuff we’re eating. When there is a disruption in this system, things like fungus (candida) can flourish, causing bloating and other unpleasant symptoms. You can also add fermented foods, like pickles, sauerkraut, and miso to your diet daily to get the naturally occurring probiotics present in these foods.
  3. Eliminating dairy helps to reduce the body’s production of mucous. Mucous forms in your respiratory system and can cause infections, but it also forms in the gut. When it does, it prevents food from absorbing properly and can speed up the digestive system. Food is then eliminated before it is completely broken down, causing gas and bloating, as well as irritating the bowels.
  4. Drink bottled water and avoid iced drinks if possible. Ice is directly handled frequently and by numerous people where the weather is warm, and the tourists plentiful. Utensils and/or hands that are not clean frequently and can transfer food borne diseases easily. In countries where the water is not potable, ice should be avoided as there is no guarantee that the water is purified.
  5. Reducing stress is vital to gut health. Stress can wreak havoc on your digestive system, causing diarrhea and dreaded constipation. Balance getting enough sleep and being active to keep your digestive system moving.

If you end up getting sick, avoid over the counter anti-vomiting or anti-diarrhea medications. These only temporarily stop the symptoms, which is trying to physically purge the virus/bacteria out of your system. Resting and staying hydrated (even if it keeps coming up) will help your body fight off the illness.

Chronic digestive issues include frequent constipation, diarrhea, excess gas and bloating, acid reflux, and abdominal pain, especially after eating. There are many reasons for chronic digestive issues, like poor diet, frequent use of antibiotics and/or NSAIDS, inefficient waste removal or an imbalance in intestinal flora, just to name a few.

If you have chronic digestive or bowel issues, contact our Naturopath’s. They can help resolve these digestive issues.

 

Lifestyle

How To Escape A Pesky Summer Cold

escape a pesky summer coldThe summer season is finally here, and the weather will be warming up. Your schedule is probably already filled with activities to enjoy that ample Vitamin D boost from the sun. What you’re not planning for is a pesky summer cold.

Enteroviruses spread more during warm weather, as opposed to their cold weather loving counterparts. You’ll still get the fever, sore throat and cough, but these viruses can also cause skin rashes and diarrhea. They seem to last longer as well.

They spread the same way common colds do through respiratory secretions through coughing, sneezing and contact with contaminated surfaces. So practicing good hand washing techniques is key. You should always wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, making sure to get underneath your nails and in between your fingers.

For some healthy adults, you may experience no symptoms, but can still pass on the cold virus!

Staying on track with your diet will also help to maintain a good working immune system. Summer time can be laden with high fat BBQ’s and sugary treats, which keeps the digestive system sluggish. Keep up with your fiber and stay hydrated! A happy gut is essential for good immune function. If you’re not already taking a high quality probiotic, now is the time to start. Probiotics help to maintain healthy intestinal flora.

Drinking ginger tea is great for the digestive system, but did you know that it is also anti-viral? A cup of warm ginger tea throughout the day will keep the fire in your belly going, but helps to keep you cool.

If you’ve got plans, like a trip you just can’t miss – try Vitamin IV therapy. It gives your immune system a big boost of vitamins to support its natural function. If you end up with a pesky summer cold, Vitamin IV therapy may also help shorten the length and severity of the symptoms.

In BC, the summer months are so amazing, but it doesn’t last very long! If you’d like to optimize your health this summer, and throughout the year, talk to one of our Surrey Naturopaths.

 

Lifestyle Nutrition

Always Choose Organic for These 12 Foods

healthy dietChoosing organic produce is not always cost effective, and when you are on a budget, you want to make the best choices when it comes to diet.

Buying organic produce local and in season usually garners the best prices.

Even then, it can be difficult when the price difference between conventional and organic prices vary by so much.

Pesticide contamination is a real concern, especially when these powerful pesticides continue to linger in food (and inside of you) for a long time. Workers that handle pesticides for conventional growing can experience acute side effects, like dizziness, headaches, nausea, vomiting, and skin and eye issues. Some pesticides utilize heavy metals which are toxic to the body.

Some products remain contaminated for longer periods of times than others. Some products get natural protection from thick or hard skins.

So when does organic matter the most? Here is a list of 12 products to always get organic (in order from most contaminated):

  1. Apples
  2. Celery
  3. Sweet bell peppers
  4. Peaches
  5. Strawberries
  6. Nectarines
  7. Grapes
  8. Spinach
  9. Lettuce
  10. Cucumbers
  11. Blueberries
  12. Potatoes

Here’s 15 produce items that are the least contaminated with pesticides that you don’t have to buy organic (in order of least contaminated):

  1. Onions
  2. Sweet Corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Avocado
  5. Cabbage
  6. Sweet peas
  7. Asparagus
  8. Mangoes
  9. Eggplant
  10. Kiwi
  11. Cantaloupe
  12. Sweet Potatoes
  13. Grapefruit
  14. Watermelon
  15. Mushrooms

If you’re concerned with pesticide contamination or heavy metal intoxication, please talk to one of our Naturopath’s.

Lifestyle Nutrition

8 Reasons to Change Your Diet Now!

chronic health issuesWith chronic health issues, the reasons might elude you because of how long they’ve been occurring. Many chronic issues stem from diet because food and beverages are a daily constant in our lives.

When you have chronic health issues, one of the first things our Naturopaths look at is the diet. The effects of unhealthy eating habits can literally weigh on you and be the result of years of nutritional neglect.

Changing your diet has immediate effects, and a long term lifestyle change with a commitment to healthy eating can have dramatic changes, even eliminating chronic health issues.

Here are 8 reasons to change your diet now:

  1. Whether you experience seasonal allergies or all year around, allergies are a sign that your body is hyper sensitive. Allergies can appear as respiratory issues, watery eyes and/or skin issues like eczema. Identifying allergens can help to ease and even eliminate allergy symptoms.
  2. Digestive Issues. Chronic constipation or diarrhea? Acid reflux or indigestion? Digestive issues are commonly relieved by a change in diet, and the changes can usually be felt quickly.
  3. Body Odour. Changes in body odour can be a result of an unhealthy diet. Fungus like candida, or yeast, thrives in diets with high sugar and gluten. So do the bacteria that cause body odour.
  4. Lack of Energy. Can you sleep for hours but still wake up feeling tired, sluggish or exhausted? Toxic build up from an unhealthy diet can keep you from being effectively using the energy in your body. Changes in diet can rev up your engine again.
  5. Sleep Issues. Without a balanced diet, your body might have issues managing your energy requirements properly. You might wake up at night due to hunger or late/difficult digestion.
  6. Depression/Mood Issues. Food acts as a fuel for your body, supplying it with the necessary items like vitamins, proteins and minerals to run efficiently. Without proper diet, your body could be missing key elements to keep your nervous system stabilized. Being deficient in certain vitamins can affect your hormones and even your mood.
  7. Chronic Pain. An unhealthy diet could be causing you pain. Certain foods can be deadly for joints. Frequent headaches are commonly associated with issues with diet.
  8. It isn’t just about calories! A balanced and healthy diet takes into account everything your body needs to run properly, including healthy fats. If you’re eating a healthy diet and you still aren’t losing weight, you might actually be missing something vital, or a seemingly healthy food might be disastrous for your unique needs.

To jumpstart a change in diet, a cleanse or detox might be beneficial.

Colon hydrotherapy can help to quickly ease some of the above chronic health issues, along with a change in diet.

Never attempt a cleanse or detox without advice from your physician.

Ready to feel better? Ask our Naturopath’s how you can change your diet now.

Lifestyle Nutrition

6 Reasons to LOVE Mint

naturopath love mintA wonderful perennial herb that is so easy to grow, it grows like a weed! As a part of a healthy diet, mint has a variety of health benefits, from promoting digestion to clearing skin and easing pain.

Our Naturopath’s love mint. Here are 6 reasons why you’ll love mint too:

1. Aids digestion. Soothes the stomach and promotes enzymes to help you digest your meal. It calms and relaxes the smooth muscles of the stomach and reduces flatulence. Try a cup of mint tea or a few drops of peppermint oil rubbed into the belly.

2. Helps oral health. Mint freshens your breath by inhibiting the growth of bacteria. Chew a few mint leaves after your meals.

3. Eases cold symptoms. Mint is a natural expectorant and can help to remove mucous from the airways. Try a few drops in a humidifier, bath, or on the chest and sinuses.

4. Skin cleanser. Although peppermint oil is too strong for your skin, fresh mint leaves applied to the skin regularly is an effective way to combat acne. It is naturally antibacterial. Try crushing a few mint leaves with purified water and apply to the skin for 1 minute before rinsing thoroughly.

5. Eases pain. Mint has analgesic properties due to it’s cooling effects when applied directly and is used in many topical pain creams. Peppermint oil can even ease headaches. Try adding a few drops of peppermint oil to a warm bath and breathing deeply.

6. It’s cooling. Mint helps to cool down the body, which is why it makes a great summer time treat. Try adding mint to your favourite summer time drinks, like lemonade.

Talk to one of our Surrey Naturopath’s, to learn more about a healthy diet.

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