Lazy: A Manifesto

“Life is too short to be busy.”
Tim Kreider, We Learn Nothing

This essay from author Tim Kreider speaks for itself and is absolutely worth the listen.

Our addiction to “busyness” as a culture does not make our lives better. It keeps us away from the people and things we love. It gives us a sense of purpose that is often purposeless, and keeps as in the dark about what our true art is.

It’s summer holiday time. Book an hour, a day, a week–whatever you can–and revel in your laziness. Rediscover, as the Italians say, dolce far nientethe sweetness of doing nothing.

After all, doing nothing IS doing something!

Enjoy,

The StoneTree Team

Reflux Meds: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Last month, the medical journal BMJ Open published research linking the use of PPI’s, or proton-pump inhibitors, with increased risk of death.

PPI’s are frequently used to treat serious gastrointestinal issues like ulcers, GI bleeds and reflux, and are one of the most commonly used classes of drugs. They’re a powerful tool, but research continues to show that long-term use is a bad idea.

PPI’s are generally meant to be short-term prescriptions, but people often end up taking them for months or years to control symptoms, especially in the US where they’re available over the counter in various forms.

According to the study, however, the longer the drugs are used, the higher the risk of mortality. Past research has also linked this class of drugs to kidney damage, dementia, and bone fractures.

The moral of the story? Take it when you need it and no more!

But My Digestive Issues are Ruining My Life!

GI issues can be extremely challenging to live with. It’s no wonder people turn to whatever works. But there are other solutions for many sufferers. Issues of the gastrointestinal tract are where naturopathic medicine shines, and there are many ways to treat upper GI complaints without prescription medications.

The place to start, of course, is your diet. That may seem obvious, but astonishingly, this is still frequently discounted in conventional medicine. Despite the fact that your entire GI tract exists to deal with food, we seemed determined to not see food as a GI issue. It is.

Here are a few suggestions from the naturopathic toolkit:

  • Food intolerances and inflammatory foods are real culprits here. Get yourself tested, and avoid reactive foods strictly.
  • Avoid coffee, cigarettes, and booze. They all stimulate acid secretion and an inflammatory response. If you are doing these things and also NOT eating, that makes things worse. You are stimulating the digestive tract and not putting anything in it–a double whammy.
  • Cultivate a healthy flora. Probiotics and foods that support healthy flora, like fermented foods, keep the digestive tract working well and help prevent H.pylori and other imbalances of GI bacteria that can cause trouble.
  • Talk to your chiropractor or osteopath. Sometimes the “valve” that keeps the contents of the stomach in the stomach gets stuck open. This can be made worse by sitting too much. An adjustment can get things back in line.
  • Better still, as always, stay active and maintain a healthy weight for your body type.

Digestive issues are among the most challenging to diagnose, and they often mean difficult lifestyle changes, at least in the short term. But compared to the side-effects of long-term PPI use, the sacrifices are small!

To uncover your food intolerances, or get to the root cause of your digestive troubles, book an appointment with one of our Collingwood naturopathic doctors. 

Whooping Cough Prevention and Treatment

In the last week, we have seen a couple of little ones show up with confirmed cases of whooping cough.

Whooping cough, or pertussis, is an infection of the respiratory tract caused by the bordetella pertussis bacteria. It starts out looking like the common cold–runny nose, fever, mild cough. This is then followed by severe coughing fits, sometimes with the characteristic “whoop” sound at the end of the fit. These coughing fits can go on for 10 weeks, giving it the nickname “the 100-day cough”.

You can hear the sounds of pertussis here.

But…I thought we had vaccines for pertussis?

Whooping cough is actually the second most common infectious childhood disease in Canada, after influenza. It’s endemic, meaning it’s always around, but it usually doesn’t show itself much–just in minor periodic outbreaks.

This isn’t unusual–the vaccine isn’t perfect. It’s estimated to have about an 80-85% effectiveness after three doses, and that effectiveness wears off over time. As a result, whooping cough re-emerges occasionally.

For an in depth look at the research on this, Dr. Suzanne Humphries, MD does a good job of outlining the issues. It is a long article but worth the read if you are a worried parent.

Prevention of Pertussis

Vaccination is currently the prevention method of choice. It is part of the infant vaccination schedule, which is important. There is a 0.5% mortality rate in infants under 1 year of age who contract pertussis. Before regular pertussis vaccination, moms who contracted the infection in childhood would be immune to it when they had their babies (a natural infection confers immunity for over 30 years). When they breastfed their babies they little ones would get the benefit of that immunity from their mothers.

Many mothers now have been part of public vaccination programs and their immunity is likely to have worn off, resulting in increased risk. A blood test can show if mom is immuno-competent.

Treatment

Conventional treatment is generally antibiotics, but they generally have very little positive effect. In fact, more and more evidence is coming forward about the negative effect of using antibiotics, especially when they are not needed. We’ve written about this before.

As naturopaths, we like to support the immune system in its efforts to deal with the infection, and Vitamin C is the core treatment tool.

The pertussis bacteria makes a “toxin” that is at least partly responsible for the lung symptoms. Vitamin C does a pretty good job of neutralizing that toxin. Again, Dr. Humphries does a great job discussing this issue. In our little ones, we use oral dosing, but in our teens and adults with the “100 day cough” weekly to bi-weekly treatments can decrease the duration of the illness.

Remember: If you are suspecting whooping cough in your child it is very important to seek assistance from a regulated health professional.

It’s Here! The Pantry at StoneTree Clinic

We are so excited to introduce the newest service here at StoneTree Clinic!

The Pantry at StoneTree is a food resource for our patients who need to make diet changes, and for anyone who wants to find healthy food ingredients and pre-made meals that they can trust.

Improving nutrition is one of the cornerstones of what we do as Naturopathic Doctors. We almost invariably use diet change with our patients, and it’s great to see that the popular opinion is shifting to the realization that food is indeed medicine.

Of course, the idea of diet change is simple. But actually doing it? It’s one of the hardest things we ask our patients to do. Ask anyone who’s done an anti-inflammatory diet, or gone gluten- or dairy-free for any period. It’s not easy.

To help, we wanted to give our patients a resource to help make diet change a little easier.

The Pantry at StoneTree is a food store where ALL the things for sale are gluten-free, dairy-free and egg-free. In addition to cooking ingredients and snacks, there are pre-made freezer meals that have all been taste-tested and are delicious. Now, you can have a week of meals ready to go that are filled with the right ingredients to get you started on your diet change.

Drop by the clinic to watch The Pantry grow, to try some delicious and healthy food, and to give us ideas for new foods. We’ll be adding new products all summer, filling the shelves with helpful ways to support your healthy changes!

Vitamin C and Sepsis (& Other Infections!)

Sepsis is a life-threatening illness caused by your body’s response to an infection that has gotten out of control.

Sepsis develops when the chemicals of the immune system that are released into the bloodstream to fight an infection instead cause wide spread inflammation throughout the entire body. When sepsis turns into septic shock things get really serious. Organs start to fail and 30-50% of patients will die.

Dr. Paul Marik MD, a critical care doctor, found something completely by accident: using high doses of vitamin C in septic patients seems to change outcomes quite a bit for the better.

After reading a paper on Vitamin C given to him by a colleague, Dr. Marik came across a patient in the ICU with septic shock who was in critical and not expected to live. Remembering the paper on vitamin C, he gave the women a dose of it–a last-ditch effort that he didn’t expect to work.

When Marik arrived back at the hospital the next day he found his patient still very much alive, and in fact improving! This lead him to use the therapy again and again with similar results.

Dr. Marir published his research in the medical journal Chest. The results are astonishing.

  • In the control group (patients managed with the usual sepsis approach), 40.4% of the group died.
  • In the Vitamin C-treated group, only 8.5% of those in the treated group died.

Of course, we all know by now that stats can be deceiving. Here are the real numbers:

  • In the control group,  19 of 47 people died.
  • In the Vitamin C group, 4 out of 47 people died.

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Vitamin C. It’s a tool we use all the time. But people should be shouting these results from the rooftops! I don’t know of many treatments that get those kind of success rates.

If you’re interested in digging in more.

The Long History of Vitamin C and Infection

Really, I shouldn’t be surprised by these results. Vitamin C has been a vitamin of interest to treat various infections for decades. Medical Doctors in the 1930’s were using it to treat polio and counter diptheria toxiod

This was important stuff–at the time there were no vaccines for these diseases and very few good treatments.

Andrew Saul, PhD is one of North American’s leading experts in vitamin therapy, and he does a good job of presenting the old and lost research on the value of Vitamin C for various infections and diseases. If you have any interest in the awesome little vitamin, this 53-minute lecture is definitely worth your time.

How to Decide What to Eat

North Americans are obsessed with figuring out what is or isn’t the BEST food or diet.

Reports in the media like this one report on a single food that is magic for a specific health complaint–in this case nuts and colon cancer. No doubt some media outlet will post an article the soon that nuts are bad for you because they are too fattening, too contaminated or likely to cause diverticulitis.

It seems like there is just no knowing what is good for you and what isn’t.

In fact, the International Food Information Council Foundation’s annual Food and Health survey this spring reported that 78% of those surveyed reported they encountered conflicting information about healthy food, and the follow-up questions indicated that 58% of respondents reported that this conflicting info created doubt in the food choices they were making.

We’re confused, in other words, and we don’t know what to do.

How To Decide What To Eat

Knowledge is power…expect when it isn’t. The way that health and nutrition is reported in western media is not making us healthier and more empowered. It’s doing the exact opposite.

The best resource I have found to take the confusion out of healthy food and healthy eating is Michael Pollen’s book, In Defense of Food.  He digs into lots of great detail to support his thesis which is simple, easy and NOT confusing: eat food, not too much, mostly plants.

By “food”, Pollan means things your great-grandmother would recognize as food. Whole foods. The more processed a food becomes the less it should be eaten.

  • Strawberries? Yes. Strawberry jam…less so.  “Strawberry” milkshake from McDonalds? No.
  • Non-GMO corn? Yes. GMO, round-up ready corn…less so. Organic corn chips even less so. High fructose corn syrup? No.
  • Sunflower seeds? Yes. Sunflower oil…less so. Commercially produced, low-fat salad dressing with sunflower oil? No.
  • Grass fed beef. Yes. (Assuming you eat meat.) Commercially farmed corn feed beef…less so. Processed beef patties with fake cheese and simulated bacon flavouring? No.

It’s a good rule of thumb. Eat food, not too much, mostly plants. If you want to learn more, you can watch the documentary “In Defense of Food” on Netflix.

By they way…Pollan followed up In Defense of Food with Food Rules, a guide to answer the question, “What should I eat?” Guess what the last rule is?

“Break the rules once in a while.”

Worth considering. All these years of study and worry and research and media don’t seem to have made us any healthier!

Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.

Happy Birthday Canada!

We have a lot to celebrate!

  • Canadians are living longer than ever with an average life expectancy of 82 years.
  • Almost 90% of Canadians reported feeling in good to excellent health—the highest proportion of people among G7 countries.
  • 70% of Canadians considered their mental health to be either very good or excellent.
  • The proportion of Canadians who smoke is decreasing overall. Just under 4 million Canadians currently smoke – in 2002 there were 5.4 million.
  • More Canadians are completing their high school and post-secondary education than ever before—in 2015, 90% finished high school and 66% were a post-secondary graduate.

For this and so much more we are grateful to call this great country home.

Keep up the great work!

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!