13 Books to Help With Your Resolutions

According a recent poll, many of our top resolutions this year are around our health–three of the top four, in fact:

  • Eat better
  • Exercise more
  • Save more money
  • Increase self-care (more sleep, etc.)

Interestingly, “read more” came in at number five. With that in mind, we thought we’d give you a list of our top health and wellness books. If read and put to use, they could do wonders for your health in 2018.

Here they are, in no particular order. Happy Reading!

Younger Next Year: A Guide to Living Like 50 to 80 and Beyond by Chris Crowley. An oldie but a goodie. I have gifted and recommended this book dozens of times. It is a life changer.

Untangled: Guiding Teenager Girls Through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood by Lisa Damour. If you are living with a teenage girl you can feel like you are going crazy yourself. This great book helps you keep your head on straight as you navigate through this life change.

The Passion Test by Janet Bray Attwod and Chris Attwood. Purpose is a big determinant of our health. This simple read helps you get to yours.

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. When we can understand how and why our habits are there it makes it easier to change them and let them go. This book does that AND gives you strategies to make the change.

The Brain that Changes Itself by Norman Doidge MD. Debunking everything we thought about brain injury and the brain’s ability to heal – it will blow your doors off.

The Upside of Stress by Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D. In a culture that has demonized the stress word, we have forgotten it’s true purpose in our lives. This book reframes our thinking about this word for our betterment.

Healthy at 100 by John Robbins. Just read it – the solutions are simple…if not easy.

In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto by Micheal Pollen. Eat food that nature makes, mostly plants, not too much – it really is that simple

Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It by Gary Traub. This book is a little academic, but worth the read. It will completely de-bunk everything you thought about fat.

The Happiness Project by Gretchin Rubin. A year of happiness – so worth it.

Eat, Move Sleep: How Small Choices Lead to Big Changes by Tom Rath. Can you capture health better in three words?

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown, One of my favorite books of ALL times.   We so often trade our health in our pursuit of more. This book makes a very compelling argument for focusing on what’s most important.

Eat Dirt: Why Leaky Gut Might be the Root Cause of your Health Problems and 5 Surprising Steps to Cure It by Josh Axe. In a germ-phobic world, its good to reconnect with just how critical bacteria are in our lives. More than you might know!

Concussion Treatment and Prevention

Hurray, it’s ski season!

If you or your kids ski for fun, or more seriously in the many amazing race programs in our area, this post is for you. (Hockey players, we haven’t forgotten you either!)

Dr. Maggie, a former nationally competitive skier, and StoneTree Clinic’s resident sports performance guru, wants to make sure you know how to manage the inevitable bonks on the head that come when you “hit” the slopes or the ice.

Bruising Your Brain

Your body has evolved a great system for protecting the brain. On the outside, you have a hard bony layer—the skull—to shelter your soft brain tissue from the outside world. Under the skull, fluid and protective membranes allow your brain to “float” inside your skull, protecting it from damage.

In the case of a serious whack, however—say, falling while skiing, or piling into the boards—your brain can move in unexpected ways, and can actually hit the inside of your skull. We call that a mild traumatic brain injury. There are several kinds, but we often generalize and refer to them collectively as a “concussion”.

While your brain has a remarkable knack for self-healing from damage, it can only do so much. Here are three key strategies for protecting this vital organ.

1. Prevention. Did you know that there are things that you can do before impact to minimize the negative repercussions of a head injury? When you suffer a concussion, you trigger an immune response in your body–your immune system creates inflammation to help protect your brain. If you’ve managed and supported your inflammatory pathways, you can get a jump on minimizing damage and maximizing healing. Remember: if you’re involved in a sport with a head injury risk, there are things you can do in addition to wearing a helmet.

2. Early Treatment – The early days of a head injury are the most vital in terms of neurological and inflammatory changes. The sooner you can begin to get help, the more you speed up and support healing and recovery. Seek help as soon as you can after a head trauma.

For those who are competing competitively:

3. Set up your concussion health care team. Your best support comes from a combination of healthcare practitioners who can help you to a full recovery! Chiropractic, physiotherapy, exercise therapy and naturopathic care are all important components of complete care. In this regard, health care is a lot like sports: the better the team, the better the results.

We use a combination of tools to help support concussion recovery, including a specialized brain recovery diet, targeted supplementation, IV therapy, and acupuncture. For questions and care, Dr. Maggie is in the clinic during the holiday season and beyond. You can book online here, or call the clinic at 705-444-5331.

Your Cold and Flu “GO-KIT”

It is not uncommon for the ND’s at StoneTree to get emails or messages over the weekend, after hours, or when they are away from home, from patients who are coming down with cold or flu symptoms and want to get on top of them right away. No one wants a full-blown cold or flu!

Of course, the first thing we always recommend is to get in as soon as you can for in IV Vitamin C drip.

(To learn more, check out this “60 Minutes” documentary on the benefit of Vit C in resolving infection, or this interview with Dr. Marik, MD on the value of vitamin C and sepsis.)

When patients can’t get into the clinic for the “big guns” the first question we ask is, What supplements do you have at home?

As you might imagine, not everyone has a fully stocked cold- and flu-fighting pharmacy at home, and most people didn’t have the best tools at their disposal when they really needed them.

Here is what we wish you had:

  • Zinc. Studies show that taking zinc at first sign of cold symptoms can decrease the duration of the illness. We have definitely seen evidence of this in practice. It’s important to note, however, that more zinc is not always better. Taking too much for too long can create trouble, but taking it acutely for a short period is okay.
  • Oil of oregano. It tastes like a spaghetti monster exploded in your mouth, but this herb is AWESOME at killing all things microbial!
  • Echinacea and Goldenseal. These two herbal medicines together are a double threat to winter illness! Echinacea is the immune booster and goldenseal is anti-microbial. Taking them at first sign of symptoms can often stop a cold before it even starts.
  • Vitamin C. Can’t get in for an IVC? Taking Vitamin C orally can help, too. Taking a 1000mg every hour to bowel tolerance is the way to go. Some people may get an upset tummy but for those who tolerate it, get a chewable option–it feels like you are popping like sweet treats all day.
  • Castor Oil. This magical oil moves lymph, which means it helps the immune system move around. Sore throat? Apply cast0r oil and cover with a scarf. Ear infection? Castor oil to the neck, topped with a gentle heating pad, gets the lymph moving and moves the congestion out.

Now You Can Have the Wishlist On Hand!

For the cold and flu season, we’ve put together a cold and flu “GO-KIT”. It contains:

  • Zinc
  • Oil of oregano
  • Echinacea-Goldenseal tincture
  • An immune booster called Pascoleucyn that is safe and effective for all ages

You can pick up your “GO-KIT” at the front desk for $74.99 + HST. (Bought individually the kit works out to $104.81.)

Questions? Stop by to pick up your kit, or contact the clinic at 705-444-5331.

‘Tis the Season…

…to be stressed?

…to be sick?

…to have interrupted sleep?

…to be cranky?

…to have tummy troubles?

The holiday season can be a lot of fun, but it can also be pretty hard on our physical and mental health!

That makes December a great time to check in with your ND.

We can help support your immune system
No one has time to be sick over the holidays. Preventing illness is ideal, but in the event that a virus is starting to take hold, try getting on top of it with an immune-boosting IV and/or supplements as soon as symptoms show up. When you feel the onset, kick that critter fast!

We can help support your digestive system
The holiday season is filled with over-indulging. Sugar, booze, and late nights are fun, but they can wreak havoc on your tummy. ND’s have many tools in our tool-box to help you manage these symptoms over the holidays so you can enjoy the season!

We can help you cope with the stress
There’s a lot to do over the holidays–parties, shopping, cooking, wrapping. At times, it can be overwhelming. Add those “challenging” family relationships and it can lead to many sleepless nights. ND’s are pros at helping you rebalance and support your stress hormones.

This season is also a great time of year to get started with an ND if you have unused benefits. Naturopathic care is covered by most extended benefit plans–that lets you save your money for presents. 🙂

Booking on-line makes it easy to book that IV or visit when it is convenient for you. If you can’t sleep – get in the next day for help. If your throat feels a little scratchy when you wake up, you can book that IV right away.

Welcome to December!

World Diabetes Day: What’s Your Sugar Status?

World Diabetes Day started in 1991 and has been celebrated on November 14th every year since. It was initiated by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) in response to the rapid rise of diabetes incidence around the world.

This year, World Diabetes Day focuses on Women with Diabetes, and for good reason:

  • There are currently over 199 million women living with diabetes. This is projected to increase to 313 million by 2040.
  • Two out of every five women with diabetes are of reproductive age.
  • Diabetes is the ninth leading cause of death in women globally.
  • 1 in 7 births is affected by gestational diabetes.
  • 2% of live births to women in 2015 had some form of hyperglycemia in pregnancy.
  • Approximately half of women with a history of gestational diabetes go on to develop type 2 diabetes within five to ten years after delivery.
  • Half of all cases of hyperglycemia in pregnancy occur in women under the age of 30.

These are some sobering statistics, and they don’t begin to cover it all. Diabetes can lead to nerve damage, kidney failure, and blindness. If you have diabetes, your risk of developing heart disease is twice that of the rest of the population, and you’re more susceptible to depression and infections.

Diabetes is dangerous. But it’s also a largely treatable and more importantly preventable disease. In fact, according to the IDF, more than 70% of type 2 diabetes could be prevented through the healthy lifestyle.

Where do you begin? Diabetes is a lifestyle disease, and naturally, food and movement are key.

Eat right. Eat foods that nature makes, mostly plants, not too much. It really is as simple as that. If a food package is making a health claim, be suspicious. The foods sitting in the veggie aisle with no claims and no packaging are where your diet should be focused.

Start with these 10 recipes that will save your life!

Exercise regularly. You don’t need to be a marathon runner to get the diabetes prevention benefit of exercise. Walk every day for 30 minutes. It’s all you need to do to make an enormous difference.

Test your blood sugar. Find out if your blood sugar is a problem before it’s a problem–testing your blood sugar regularly can give you an idea if your body is heading down the diabetes track.

Blood sugar tests look at the following:

  • Fasting blood sugar. This is the test we are all very familiar with. We fast overnight and get our blood taken first thing in the morning. Any value over 6.0 mmol/L should get your attention that you may be heading down the wrong track.
  • Hemoglobin A1c. This test measures how much sugar is attached to the red blood cells. The more that is attached, the more likely you are not getting the sugar out of your blood fast enough. Because the lifespan of the RBC’s is around 3 months, this test gives us an idea of what your AVERAGE blood sugar has been over a 3 month period. Values over 6% are a sign that things are not going well.
  • Two-hour post-prandial blood glucose. This test measures how well your body deals with sugar within 2 hours of eating it. If your blood sugar is over 7.8 mmol/L 2 hours after eating the sugar, you could be heading down the wrong track.

Interested in learning about your blood sugar levels? Tests are inexpensive, and we can take your blood sample right here in the clinic! Book online, or call 705-444-5331 for more information.

Ten Recipes to Save Your Life

I love this Ted Talk. Jamie Oliver, chef, food and health activist, gives an unsettling talk on the absolute crisis we are in with respect to our health and food.

In this impassioned talk, he reports:

  • In the 18 minutes of his talk, 4 Americans will be dead from the food they eat.
  • Two-thirds of Americans are overweight.
  • American children will live 10 years shorter than their parents.

As Jamie says, “Diet-related disease is the biggest killer in the United States, right now, here today.”

Lest you think we’ve escaped the problem here in Canada, we haven’t. Our rates may be lower, but we’re headed to the same place–we’re just a decade behind. Our main streets are clogged with fast food and sugary drinks. Our homes are no longer a place for cooking and eating together, and our schools make food decisions based on economics, not nutrition.

Perhaps the most staggering moment in the talk is Jamie showing clips of young school children who are unable to identify vegetables like tomatoes, potatoes, and broccoli.

How do you deal with a problem this big? Jamie gives many suggestions, but the one I like the best is this: Every child, before they leave school, should be taught to cook 10 recipes that will save their life.

A great idea. And here they are: http://www.cookingmanager.com/jamie-oliver-teach-ten-recipes/

Commit to one a week. One a month. Hell, you could commit to one a year if your kids are young. Do it with your kids, and then have them do it for the family, or even better, for their friends!

 

Are You Addicted to Your Phone?

Tens of thousands of years ago, when we homo sapiens were just getting started, we had to be able to effectively meet our goals in order to survive–we had to find water, get enough to eat, seek shelter, and generally get things done. Unlike now, if we just lay about all day not accomplishing anything, we’d die. We had to be goal-oriented.

The key driver for this goal-seeking behaviour was, and is, a neurotransmitter called dopamine. Dopamine is the reward chemical–it provides the little hit of “goodness” we feel when we accomplish a goal. (That delightful feeling of crossing something off your to-do list? Dopamine.) It’s an evolutionary gift from a long line of ancestors that helped us survive. It helps us see rewards, and take action to get them.

So what does this have to do with your cell phone?

Because accomplishing goals like “find food” were so critical, dopamine became a pretty addictive chemical in the brain. We LIKE the feeling of dopamine, and are driven to do what creates the release of it. We’re  easily addicted to things that deliver it.

The problem is that some things that have nothing to do with creating a meaningful life create dopamine for us. Things like alcohol, nicotine, gambling and yes, that delightful little “ding” your cell phone makes when you get a text.

Every time you hear the sound of a new message or see the tiny alerts or badges onscreen, your reward system swings into gear. Almost all of this happens below the level of your awareness. All you know is that you simply can’t resist checking your phone.

How Do You Know if You’re Addicted?

The same brain chemistry that casinos hijack to keep you sitting at a slot machine for hours is being hijacked to keep you staring at a screen. Your phone has been doing a remarkable job of training you. And not just to respond to whistles and signals like a trained seal, but to find it intolerable to suffer even a few moments without stimulation.

Here are some questions to ask yourself?

  • When you wake up in the morning do you check your phone before you go to the bathroom?
  • Do you walk from room to room holding your phone all the time?
  • If you get a text while driving, do you find it impossible to wait the ten minutes until you get home to look at it and respond?
  • Do you regularly respond to texts while reading your kid a bedtime story?
  • Are you unable to leave your phone in the car when you are having dinner out with friends?
  • Are you incapable of sitting quietly for ten minutes without looking at your phone?
  • Do you use your phone while watching TV or eating?

Why is it important to ask ourselves these questions? Here are a few things you might find interesting about high cell phone use. It’s been linked to:

  • Higher anxiety
  • Lower grades
  • Decreased happiness
  • Lower quality sleep
  • Poor posture
  • Lower relationship satisfaction
  • Reduced activity
  • Less time outdoors
  • Less time spent with others

Are those weather alerts and social media updates really that valuable?

What to Do?

Every recovering alcoholic will tell you that the first step to fixing a problem is to admit that you have one in the first place. If you can do that, what do you do next?

  • Turn off your alerts. Those little badges and sounds and flashes are designed to trigger your reward system. You don’t need to get alerts from every app.
  • Use “do not disturb” mode. Most devices will allow you to shut down your phone’s alert systems, while still letting through calls from a specified list of people. That way you can still get a call from your teenager or spouse, for example, but not from anyone else.
  • Set time periods in which you shouldn’t use your phone (i.e., 9 p.m. to 7 a.m.).
  • Designate activities in which your phone is forbidden (e.g., driving, dinner time).
  • Schedule break times to access your phone or social media.
  • Practice being bored. Your phone is gradually eroding your ability to simply be. Try taking longer and longer periods away from it. Reclaim your ability to live without constant digital stimulation.

If you find you can’t do these things, or instinctively push back against them, that might be the most powerful indicator of all that you have a problem.

Are you using your phone, or is it using you?

Why Healthy Eating is Hard

This video is perhaps the funniest way we’ve seen to capture the confusion around food that the health industry has managed to generate over the years.

So funny, but also so true. It feels like nutritional advice is constantly shifting and contradicting previous advice. What to do?

For us, nutrition falls squarely into the category of simple but not easy. It’s simple to eat better: Eat food, not too much, mostly plants

The trouble is that following that advice is not always easy. That’s where we come in:

  • Need to understand how your diet is affecting your health and how changing it can dramatically change how you feel? Book an appointment with a Naturopathic Doctor.
  • Want some insight into what specific foods you might feel better avoiding? Get a food intolerance test to find out.
  • Looking for access to gluten- or dairy-free foods and other specialty nutritional items? Check out the new Pantry at StoneTree.

Changing how you eat isn’t easy. But it is simple, and it is possible. And we can help!

Decreasing Heart Attack Risk by Tackling Inflammation

Recent research in the New England Journal of Medicine looked at 10,000 patients who had had a heart attack AND a positive hsCRP result. (This is a blood test for inflammation.)

All of the patients received high doses of statins, which is the present standard of care, then they were split into two groups. Half of the patients received an injection every three months of a drug called Canakinumab, the other half received a placebo injection of normal saline. This trial went on for four years.

Canakinumab is a form of anti-inflammatory medication. It’s used predominately in those with rheumatoid arthritis. But according to the research, when you give it to people with heart attack risk you get some interesting results:

  • 15% reduction in risk of a cardiovascular event like a fatal or non-fatal heart attack or stroke
  • 30% reduction in the need for expensive interventional procedures like bypasses or stents
  • No change in death rates in the 2 groups.

You can read some mainstream coverage of the news here, including the impact on cancer rates.

The short story? Reducing inflammation is good for your health, in particular your heart.

What’s the Catch?

All of this sounds like good news, and in theory, it is. But nothing comes for free. The problem with Canakinumab is that it decreases inflammation by suppressing the immune system. That means patients who take it may be more susceptible to infections, require increased healing time if injured.

Enter the Better News

Chronic inflammation is often lifestyle-related. A poor diet, being sedentary, being over-stressed and under-slept, smoking and/or exposures to other toxins—all of these things contribute to your overall inflammatory set point. And the magic of lifestyle issues is that they can often be fixed without medication.

Dealing with inflammation is a big part of what Naturopathic Doctors do. We have written about it often, and dealing with it in some form or another is a common part of our treatment plans.

It stands to reason that dealing with and improving your inflammatory lifestyle challenges would be helpful in decreasing inflammation. If you could reduce your risk without the need for intense anti-inflammatory medicines that suppress your immune system, wouldn’t you want to?

The starting point is easy. Finding out if inflammation is a problem for you is as simple as a quick and inexpensive blood test called hsCRP–the same one used in the study. All you need to do is get started!

For information on hsCRP testing or inflammation reduction, book online or call 705-444-5331.

Why You Should Consider Natural Feminine Hygiene Products

Our menstrual cycles are a fact of life. In our early teens we were taken aside by our moms, aunts, big sisters, teachers or friends. We were told the facts of life and given a box of pads and/or tampons to start our journey into womanhood.

After that, dealing with our cycles month after month eventually became routine. Most of us buy whatever product we were either first introduced to, or whichever one is on sale. Not much thought is given to it, other than, “I hope it doesn’t interfere with my next beach holiday”.

So why consider changing now, especially to an all-natural feminine product? Here are a few good reasons, and a few great product suggestions.

Your Health
Pads and tampons are made from cotton, synthetic rayon, and other synthetic fibers. Cotton has been called “the world’s dirtiest crop.” It’s heavily sprayed with pesticides, and along with pesticide residues, the material these products are made with are bleached with chlorine dioxide, creating dioxin as a byproduct. Add to that anti-bacterial agents, fragrances and many other chemicals, and you get quite a toxic soup that we are exposing our lady parts to on a monthly basis.

These contaminants are carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, and allergens. The tissues of the vagina are sensitive, and these chemicals can cause real problems. In fact, in women with irritations in this area, one of the main treatment options is to change to an all-natural product. After that, the problem often resolves with no further treatment.

The Environment
According to The National Women’s Health Network, 12 billion pads and 7 million tampons are dumped into U.S. landfills each year. That’s A LOT of garbage, not to mention to chemicals used in the growing and manufacturing processes.

Cost
The average woman will spend an average of $150 per year on feminine hygiene products. That’s well over $5000 in a lifetime–no small potatoes. Choosing a re-useable option cuts that down considerably.  For example a Diva Cup costs $45 and you can use it for a decade or even longer.

All Natural Options

Disposable, organic pads and tampons

Although this option is not less expensive nor does it solve the environment problem entirely, they are MUCH healthier for your lady bits. The organic, unbleached cotton eliminates the exposure to toxins. Natracare products are available for purchase at The Pantry at StoneTree Clinic.

Diva Cup

This option is awesome for your health, the environment, and your pocket book. The diva cup, or a menstrual cup, is a silicon cup that can be used over and over again. It sits in the vagina and is emptied at regular intervals throughout your cycle. It takes a little getting used to but is absolutely worth the effort. Available for purchase at The Pantry at StoneTree Clinic.

Cloth Pads

This option also hits all three reasons for making the change to all natural products. Just like reusable, cloth baby diapers, you can make or buy reusable cloth menstrual pads.

Sea Sponge

Again, this reusable option is beneficial in all three areas. This absorbent sponge is placed in the vagina like a tampon, removed at regular intervals, cleaned, and re-inserted.

There have been some reports of cases of toxic shock syndrome as a result of using sea sponges because of dirt, grit or bacteria left in the sponge. However, it is important to keep in mind that this can happen from conventional tampons as well.

Drop by The Pantry at StoneTree to see our selection of natural feminine hygiene products!