June 3rd is National Health and Fitness Day!

Let’s make Canada the Fittest Nation on Earth!

We write an annoying amount a lot about the many health benefits of exercise.

It really is one of the most important things to do for our overall health, so when we became aware of the Canada’s National Health and Fitness Day we just had to share.

The first Saturday in June, National Health and Fitness Day (NHFD), is an initiative to mark one day to promote Canadians getting out and getting active in any way they wish.

Springboarding off the spirit of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, former MP John Weston and Senator Nancy Greene Raine have worked to involve the 338 MPs and 100 Senators to encourage their local communities to proclaim the day and mark it with local events. Hundreds of communities have already proclaimed the day and the National Health and Fitness Day Act, Bill S-211, became law in December 2014!

Our community is hosting a MOVE walk/run, and a MOVE showcase of booths, demos, and activities. It all shakes down this Saturday, June 3rd from 9 AM to 1 PM at Central Park in Collingwood. Get all the details here!

Maybe you can use this to jump start a year of exercise. It’s the best 30-minute daily investment you can make!

My Experience with Bioidentical Hormone Replacement

I wrote about my experience with peri-menopausal symptoms in this tongue-in-cheek article that focused on the lifestyle changes that can very much help with peri- and post-menopausal symptoms.

But what about when the important lifestyle changes aren’t helping, and the symptoms are really getting in the way of your life?

I’m not much of a complainer and I am an awful patient! It could be my pathological optimism, but I always think whatever I am suffering with will just eventually work itself out. If I just keep getting good sleep, good outdoor exercise and great food, whatever is ailing me is sure to just go away.

With peri-menopause….not so much. 🙂

Good sleep? Forget about it! Great food? Sure, if by great food you mean half a bag of Pirate cookies. Exercise? No way, between being too tired, too achy and frankly too cranky, who wants to exercise? Add on weird skin, brain fog and a strange and intolerable anxiety that never existed before and it was time for me to face it: this just was not going to work itself out.

Enter BHRT, or bioidentical hormone replacement therapy.

Dr. Harry, MD joined our team at the beginning of 2017 and has been working with our patients who we have not been able to help with our usual naturopathic tools. I sat down with him to discuss what to do about my peri-menopausal plight.

One of his main suggestions was DHEA. Short for dehydroepiandrosterone, DHEA is an adrenal hormone. It’s a precursor to the male and female sex hormones testosterone and estrogen. DHEA production peaks in your mid-20’s and then gradually declines with age, therefore, DHEA deficiency is very common.

What are DHEA symptoms? Well they are many and vary from person to person, but the most common ones are ones that I had become all too familiar with:

  • Loss of muscle mass? CHECK
  • Weakness? CHECK
  • Weird fat deposition? CHECK
  • Difficulty losing weight? CHECK
  • Loss of self-confidence? CHECK
  • Problems with memory? CHECK
  • Foggy brain? CHECK
  • Can’t find words? CHECK
  • Anxiety and mood problems? CHECK
  • Decreased sex drive? CHECK

After our visit he suggested I give DHEA a try (along with a few other suggestions). I thought I’d give it a go and see what happened.

After 2 weeks of DHEA on its own, how do I feel? Better, for sure. My body feels stronger, my brain feels clearer and my achiness has decreased. I’m looking forward to seeing how the rest of his suggestions go!

-TO BE CONTINUED-

Dr. Harry is offering complimentary 15-minute “meet the doctor” visits if you would like to learn more. You can book online, or by phone at 705-444-5331. Please note that Dr. Harry’s services at StoneTree are not covered by OHIP, but are fee-for-service.

World Hypertension Day

The international society of hypertension initiated World Hypertension Day in 2005 and has promoted it yearly ever since.

Why?

Hypertension–you might know it better as high blood pressure–is called the silent killer because people who have it often don’t know it. And it’s a big deal, because the risk of stroke is four times greater in those with high blood pressure, and the risk of a heart attack is two times greater. Put it this way: as your blood pressure increases above the normal range, so do your chances of dying.

So what to do?

First of all, understand your risk. Then make sure you know what your blood pressure is. Normal range is 120/80 to 140/90. If it’s over 140/90 visit your health care provider.

Next, prevent or reduce hypertension. The biggest causes are lifestyle factors such as physical inactivity, a diet high in processed and fatty foods, and alcohol and tobacco use.

Hypertension is largely preventable and treatable through lifestyle change. The list should sound familiar:

  • Lose weight
  • Eat foods that nature makes – LOTS of fruits and veggies
  • Exercise regularly
  • STOP SMOKING
  • Drink alcohol sensibly – no more than 2/day for men and 1/day for women

What about salt? The connection between salt and hypertension is a story that’s been told for decades, but, as we’ve written about before, the connection is more complicated than it seems. A better approach? Focus on cooking your own meals and eating lots of whole food–good nutrition and exercise are the best tools you have.

If you’re curious about your cardiovascular health or have questions about lifestyle changes, contact the clinic anytime at 705-444-5331 or feelbetter@stonetreeclinic.com.

Food Matters (And It Only Took 2000 Years!)

Nearly 2500 years ago, a Greek physician named Hippocrates was busy reinventing medicine.

Hippocrates wrote some of the oldest known medical books, and thousands of new physicians are still sworn in each year based on variations of the oath that bears his name. He was the first to describe a number of diseases and conditions and was also the first documented chest surgeon. It’s no exaggeration to say that Hippocrates led the shift that turned medicine into a profession.

What you might not know is that Hippocrates was also the original lifestyle doctor. He believed that diseases were caused by imbalances, not by the gods or spirits, and that lifestyle modifications like diet and exercise were powerful tools in the doctor’s arsenal. Naturopathic philosophy owes much to this ancient Greek doc.

He’s often quoted as having said, “Let food be your medicine,” and a couple of millennia later, it looks like modern medicine might finally be catching up. This week, NPR ran a story about the “Fresh Food Pharmacy” which is blowing the doors off the standard management of type 2 diabetes in the US:

In its new incarnation, it looks more like a grocery, with neatly stocked shelves filled with healthy staples such as whole grain pasta and beans. The refrigerators are full of fresh produce, greens, low-fat dairy, lean meats and fish.

The participants meet one-on-one with a registered dietitian. They’re given recipes and hands-on instruction on how to prepare healthy meals. Then, they go home with a very different kind of prescription: five days’ worth of free, fresh food.

The program was piloted it in a community with a very high incidence of type 2 diabetes, but with a low income, where eating healthy can be harder to do.

The result? Blood sugar, blood pressure and weight all went down in participants. Perhaps more important, their quality of life went up.

But how can they afford to give away fresh food for free? The company spends about $1000 on each Fresh Food Pharmacy patient. But treating diabetic patients conventionally costs many thousands more–costs associated with diabetes in the US now top 240 billion dollars (yes, that’s billion) annually. Plus, as the article points out, about 1 out of every 2 deaths from heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes in the U.S. is linked to a poor diet.

The real question, then, is how can you afford not to give away fresh food?

The Cost of Chronic Problems

Among the many things Hippocrates pioneered was categorizing progressive, long-term health conditions as chronic. In his day, I would imagine those conditions were relatively rare. Now, as the CDC points out for the US:

  • Seven of the top 10 causes of death in 2010 were chronic diseases. Two of these chronic diseases—heart disease and cancer—together accounted for nearly 48% of all deaths.
  • Eighty-six percent of all health care spending in 2010 was for people with one or more chronic medical conditions.

Many, many chronic conditions are incredibly responsive to lifestyle interventions–both in prevention and treatment. But while we still have the writings of Hippocrates to remind us of the value of lifestyle medicine, our culture has largely lost touch with the philosophy.

It’s said that Hippocrates lived into his 80’s or 90’s (some even say to 100). I imagine he’d be shocked to know just how chronic, and costly, our health problems have become. But I like to think he’d be cheered by our dawning shift to “food as medicine.” It might have taken a couple of thousand years, but better late than never.

Why Not Create Your Own Fresh Food Pharmacy?

You don’t need a special program to build your own Fresh Food Pharmacy. You just need to get started. Check out these documentaries for inspiration. Many are available on Netflix! If you need help, contact us anytime.

Food Matters

Hungry for Change

Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead

Fed Up

Do You Know These 6 Possible Causes of IBS?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS, is a diagnosis of exclusion. That’s a fancy way of saying IBS is a bunch of symptoms that aren’t being caused by any known pathology. When everything else is ruled out for those symptoms, IBS is what you’re left with.

In the case of IBS, those symptoms include:

  • Stomach pain and cramping
  • Diarrhea, constipation, or sometimes both
  • Bloating and swelling of your stomach
  • Excessive gas
  • Urgency of bowels
  • A feeling that you have not fully emptied your bowels
  • Mucus in your stool
  • A lack of energy
  • Feeling sick
  • Backache
  • Bladder problems, such as urgency to urinate or difficulty emptying bladder
  • Pain during sex

IBS is a real pain in the butt (no pun intended) for patients, but it’s also a hassle for conventional docs to treat because there is very little understanding as to the cause and there are very few drug therapies that work.

Although there is some evidence to suggest diet change can help, and there is research looking at the effectiveness of probiotics, no one solution resolves all cases.

That is where Naturopathic Medicine comes in. Complicated cases with no clear cause are often where naturopaths can shine because we simply have the time and experience to dig deeper into case histories.

In clinic, we’ve found that IBS symptoms can result from many different, yet common, body imbalances. Here are six that tend to reveal themselves in our practices frequently:

  1. Food intolerances. The immune system in our guts is very strong, and when it’s working properly it shouldn’t react to the foods we eat. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work properly. When this part of our immune system gets out of balance, the proteins in our diets can start causing problems. Gluten and dairy proteins are the most common culprits and testing can be easily done to figure out others.
  2. Dysbiosis. The flora in our digestive tract is a very important part of staying healthy. When those little critters get out of balance they can cause many of the unpleasant symptoms of IBS.
  3. Parasites. It’s easy to pick up one of these little bugs and carry it around for years. Our immune system in our gut usually takes care of most exposures, but stress, poor diet, and exposure to drugs and chemicals can help parasites evade the immune system. That means they can stick around and cause tummy trouble.
  4. Nutrient deficiencies. One form of IBS is a spasm of the muscles in the colon. This can be the result of magnesium deficiency and can be corrected with supplementation. Taking magnesium by mouth, however, may not work at first. Sometimes the intestinal tract can’t absorb it, and in that case, the result is MORE loose bowels. Using IV magnesium is a better way to calm down the intestinal muscles.
  5. Toxic exposures. Many toxins are eliminated from our bodies through our bowels. All of the fat-soluble toxins like solvents, plastics, pesticides, heavy metals like mercury come out this way. If a person is overexposed and/or has a genetic susceptibility to poor detoxification, these toxins can build up and cause trouble.
  6. Stress and mood imbalances. We think that the neurotransmitters that impact our mood only operate in our brains, but there are receptors for these chemicals all through the body, and there are PLENTY of them in our guts. Chronic stress and anxiety can really wreck havoc with these receptors and cause IBS-like symptoms.

Teasing out which one (or more) of these is the culprit can be tricky work, but lab testing, case histories, physical exams and treatment plans that target possible causes can help us narrow it down. For more info, contact the clinic at 705-444-5331, or book online anytime.