Recipes From the StoneTree Summer BBQ!

The StoneTree team spent a glorious Friday evening enjoying some delicious food and excellent gin. We though you might enjoy the recipes!

Napa Cabbage Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 lb. napa cabbage chopped
  • 2 scallions thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • Freshly ground pepper

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350°. In a pie plate, bake the almonds for 5 minutes. Let cool.
  • In a bowl, mix the oil, vinegar, soy sauce and sugar. Add the cabbage, scallions and cilantro and toss. Add the almonds and season with pepper. Toss again and serve.

Source

Lentil Salad with Sundried Tomatoes and Feta Cheese

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp Olive oil
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/3 cup sun dried tomatoes
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 1 can lentils
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese

Directions:

  • Mix in a bowl
  • Add quinoa or other grain if desired, but double the dressing if you do!

Celery Salad with Feta and Mint

Ingredients:

  • 6 large celery stalks, cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 1/4 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta
  • 3 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh mint leaves

Directions:

  • In a large bowl, combine celery and red onion. Add olive oil, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with feta and mint.
  • Wanna cheat on the dressing? Try Paul Newman’s Family Italian!

Source

Black Bean and Corn Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels
  • 1 avocado – peeled, pitted and diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 6 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

Directions:

  • Place lime juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, and cayenne pepper in a small jar. Cover with lid, and shake until ingredients are well mixed.
  • In a salad bowl, combine beans, corn, avocado, bell pepper, tomatoes, green onions, and cilantro. Shake lime dressing, and pour it over the salad. Stir salad to coat vegetables and beans with dressing, and serve.

Source

Vitamin B12 Deficiency: What You Should Know

Vitamin B12 is one of eight B vitamins in your body. (Yes, the numbering is strange. There used to be more labeled B vitamins, but scientists short-listed almost thirty of them down to eight.)

Of all the vitamins in the B-complex, though, B12 is the most complicated and arguably the most important. B12 is involved in the metabolism of every cell in your body, and it’s critical for producing red blood cells and keeping your nervous system running.

With that kind of resume, it’s no wonder that a deficiency in B12 can lead to a crazy list of symptoms such as:

  • Weakness, tiredness, or lightheadedness
  • Heart palpitations and shortness of breath
  • Pale skin
  • A sore, red, smooth tongue
  • Constipation, diarrhea, loss of appetite, or gas
  • Nerve problems like numbness or tingling, muscle weakness, and problems walking
  • Vision loss
  • Mental problems like depression, anxiety memory loss, or behavioral changes

How common is a B12 deficiency?

B12 deficiency isn’t some oddball condition that House, MD would diagnose. It’s very well-known. The problem is that it’s a lot more common than we thought. For example:

  • Up 40 percent of people between the ages of 26 and 83 have plasma B12 levels in the low normal range.1 That’s a range where many people can still experience symptoms, even though they’re considered “normal”.
  • In people over 60, some 6% are deficient and 20% are marginal in their status.2 Levels tend to decrease with age.
  • In vegans and vegetarians, the number are considerably higher.

How are we getting it so wrong?

First, conventional medical professionals don’t test serum B12 routinely. Second, even for those that do test, the test they typically use isn’t ideal. It will only show a B12 deficiency in those who are VERY deficient and have been so for a long time.

But long term deficiency is problematic. B12 is critical for a healthy nervous system, and chronic low levels can lead to irreversible nerve damage. That’s not a place you want to go. Naturally, what we want to do as practitioners is to determine if a deficiency exists before things reach that stage.

Laboratory tests like urine MMA or serum homocysteine can give use information about your B12 status sooner, at a time when most people are asymptomatic. Good screening with the proper testing is simply good preventive medicine.

Who should worry about B12 status?

B12 deficiency may be under-diagnosed, but that doesn’t mean you’re at risk. Certain groups of people are more likely to develop a deficiency:

  • Vegetarians and vegans
  • People taking PPi’s or other stomach acid medications
  • People with digestive issues and tummy troubles
  • People with a family history of B12 deficiency

What should you do about it?

  1. Test your levels with your health care provider.
  2. Eat B12 rich foods like shellfish and liver (organic only please). There are no plant-based sources of B12.
  3. Supplement if you’re low.
  4. If you are over 60, get a B12 shot once a month. It is cheap, safe and easy.
  5. If you’re vegan or vegetarian, consult with your health care professional.

Curious about your B12 levels? Contact the clinic for information on testing, supplementation, and B12 shots.

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.

Unscreening: How Screens Affect Child Sleep

Like almost every mom, I’ve had the frustrating experience of trying to do a task or have a conversation with a “busy” toddler by my side. When my daughter was little, tablets and phones weren’t quite so readily available to distract her when I needed to get things done, but I can’t help but think that if they were, I would have used them with wild abandon.

Recent research published in the journal Nature, strongly suggests that as tempting as it is, this should NOT be the distraction strategy of choice.

The study looked at 715 infants and toddlers aged 6 months to 3 years of age. In these kids, sleep quantity decreased as touchscreen use increased–kids took longer to get to sleep and spent less time asleep. In fact, for every additional hour of tablet use the child experienced 15.6 minutes less total sleep.

Sleep Matters

Sleep is important for everyone, but it’s especially critical for children. During sleep, blood supply to the muscles is increased, energy is restored, tissue growth and repair occur, and important hormones are released for growth and development. Less sleep can jeopardize these critical activities.

For proper mental and physical development, children need about 12-14 hours sleep.

Unscreening: Entertainment Options in the Real World

So what to do? The best advice is likely to avoid screens altogether for the first two years of life, at least.

If that seems like a terrifying concept, here are some of the things we used to distract and entertain our little one when I was trying to get stuff done:

  1. Low cupboards and drawers filled with things she could safely play with. She would just love to pull all the dish towels out of the cupboards and drape them all over the kitchen. As she got older she could “help” put them away.
  2. A Kleenex box. She would pull every single one out I’d repack it and she would do it again.
  3. A purse or diaper bag. Everything in it would be safe for a toddler’s mouth and depending on how full it was she would play with it for ages.
  4. Boredom. This one took me a bit to figure out. As a parent, I thought it was my responsibility to entertain and stimulate her learning all the time. Eventually, I realized that if I gave her a minute to be bored on her own, she would figure it out and engage herself by herself in ways I could not have figured out for her.

The last one is probably at the heart of all of this. Unscreening isn’t just about one toy versus another. It’s about whether boredom is good for kids, and whether screens have a tendency to steal that essential growth opportunity from them.

If you’ve seen those wondrous moments of pure joy and creativity that arise in kids when they’re exposed to a little boredom, you’ll know exactly what I mean…

Exercise Lowers Blood Sugar

Yet another study to show the value of exercise.

Researchers discovered that patients who increased their daily step count by 2,000 steps saw decreases in both their blood sugar and insulin resistance levels.

The decreases aren’t huge–only 0.4 points for blood sugar and 1 point for insulin resistance–but neither was the increase in steps. If you work it out, 2000 steps is about 1.5 km. That’s a 10-15 min walk. We’re talking pretty small lifestyle changes. What if you doubled that to 30 minutes a day?

We’ve shared this video many times, but it can’t be shared enough. It does such a great job of illustrating the great things can come from a 30-minute daily commitment.

It’s spring! Get outside, walk around, and improve your health!

Free Meditation Night at StoneTree

The team at StoneTree is excited to welcome Lanee Brown for an evening of mindfulness and meditation.

Mindfulness has left the fringes, and gained incredible traction in recent years. Research has shown that meditation can:

  •  Improve mental focus and increase short-term memory
  •  Reduce the risk of heart disease and lower blood pressure
  •  Improve sleep and reduce anxiety
  •  Increase self-confidence and self-esteem

Many of these benefits seem to be associated with how meditation changes the brain–something that’s now well-researched.

Please join us at the clinic this Wednesday, April 5, 2017. from 4-6 PM.

This evening is an opportunity to discover a taste of what mindfulness meditation offers. There’s no charge, and no experience required. Here are a few details:

  • 4-5PM – arrival, tea, talk and gentle movement in preparation for our meditation
  • 5-6PM – meditation & discussion
  • Doors will be locked at 5PM sharp as we will start the meditation at that time.
  • There will be some chairs available, but you may want to bring a cushion if sitting on the floor isn’t comfortable for you.

Please RSVP and let us know if you will be joining us by calling the clinic at 705-444-5331, or emailing feelbetter@stonetreeclinic.com.