Increasing Your Healthspan

With advancements in medicine and public health, the average lifespan has continued to climb over the last century. Now, it’s projected to hit 95 by 2040.  

But just because we are living longer doesn’t necessarily mean we are living well-er. In fact, according to the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation, we are living longer, but the number of years we spend in disability is also increasing.

At this year’s Integrative Health Symposium in New York City, Dr. Tara heard Dr. Robert Rountree, MD talk about “Pathways to Longevity.” In his lecture, there were three “hacks” that came up over and over again.  These are activities that help slow one or more of the basic mechanisms of aging–things like shortened telomere length, increased oxidative stress and decreased mitochondrial capacity.

1. Regular exercise. No need to run a marathon, the real magic is in HIIT (high-intensity interval training)–small bursts of high-intensity exercise followed by rest periods. There are many different programs available online. Start low and go slow if you are new to exercise, or work with an experienced trainer. And if you don’t feel up to HIIT? Remember there’s plenty of magic in any exercise.

2. Calorie restriction. Calorie restriction is NOT dieting. It’s about eating fewer calories (up to 30%), while at the same time getting sufficient vitamins and minerals. This means avoiding high calorie “empty” foods like simple carbs and increasing low-calorie, nutrient-dense foods like fruits and veggies.

3. Social supports. Humans are pack animals. We are happiest and healthiest when we are together. Turn off the screen and connect to someone.

In addition, based on the research, two supplements kept coming up as winners for supporting your biochemical pathways: green tea and curcumin

Whether you decide to incorporate these two substances into your diet or decided to take them in a supplement form, the evidence would suggest they are worth considering!

Here’s to a longer and healthier life!

Bonus: this chart summarizing the impact of different factors on aging is a great visual!


Collagen for Skin, Joints, and Cellulite

Collagen is a supplement that is getting a lot of hype at the moment. It’s being touted as a miracle solution for joint pain, digestive health, fat burning, cellulite reduction and decreased skin aging.   

As one of the most abundant proteins in the body, collagen is responsible for the elasticity of your skin. It also holds your bones and muscles together, protects your organs, and strengthens connective tissue–including that in your guts. It could be that all the hype is warranted.  

Your body produces collagen on a regular basis because it is so important in all your tissues. As you age, however, that natural production slows down, resulting in those tell-tale signs of aging: sagging skin, wrinkles, weak and sore joints, and cellulite. 

There are some promising preliminary studies linking collagen peptide intake to cellulite reduction, and increased health for skin, muscle, and joints.

This might be a nutrient worth considering for daily intake. So how do you get it in you? 

1. Take it. Supplement types abound for this nutriceutical. At StoneTree Clinic we carry two forms: 

  • Collagen Peptide Liquid 
  • Pure PaleoProtein protein powder.  

2. Eat it. Bone broth, which is different then “stock,” is a great source of collagen. When bones are cooked for 24-48 hours, the gelatin (a broken down form of collagen) and minerals come out of the bones, making a daily dose of bone broth a nutrient-packed way of getting more collagen into your system.  

You can find a great bone broth recipe for your stovetop, Instant Pot, or slow cooker here.

Interested in trying a supplement? Both forms we carry are delicious and deliver a therapeutic dose of collagen. Come into the clinic for a taste!

“I’m satisfied…”

“Happiness is self-contentedness.”
– Aristotle

If you have spent any time hanging around the front desk at StoneTree, you may have heard our amazing admin staff saying, “I’m satisfied with…” or “That is satisfying.” 

The phrase is a thought exercise they have been practicing in order to decrease stress and increase happiness. If you ask them if it’s working, they would say yes–and the research would agree with them.  

In Western culture, we are inundated with messages of discontentment. Advertisers deliberately attempt to awaken wants and desires for what we don’t have. Ad copy and commercials show a “better” life and apparent happiness…but only with the newest phone, TV, car, or home

It might be good for business, but it’s lousy for humans.

It teaches us to equate happiness external things, reinforcing the “I’ll be happy when” philosophy that keeps us on a treadmill of always wanting more. More house, more pay, more job. New love, new jeans, new body. Whatever it is you currently don’t feel you have.  

The “I’m satisfied” exercise is about being content with what you have right now and appreciating what is, instead of what isn’t. It’s about practicing gratitude for the people, purpose, and health you do have.

What are you satisfied with? 

The Case for Cooperative Cancer Care

Cancer is a scary proposition.  No one wants it in their orbit, but the stats are sobering. During their lifetime, nearly 1 in 2 Canadians will be diagnosed with cancer, and 1 in 4 will die from the disease.

This week we recognized World Cancer Day, which was born on February 4, 2000, as part of the Paris Charter Against Cancer. The charter aims to promote research, prevent cancer, improve patient services, raise awareness and mobilise the global community to make progress against cancer.

Part of the charter reads:

“Since cancer knows no boundaries, and individual countries cannot address the challenges of cancer in isolation, a new co-operative approach to research, advocacy, prevention and treatment must be established.”

The ideas of “cooperative approach” and “prevention” speak volumes to naturopathic doctors. While conventional medicine works toward the best plan of management for a persons disease, it almost always leave out a solid and robust plan to manage and optimize a patient’s health during their treatment process. It’s a missing piece in the fight.

Research is showing that complimentary therapies that are focused on the health of the patient seem to consistently result in better outcomes, for example:

  • Stress management techniques like meditation and yoga to manage the emotions challenges of the disease and its treatment
  • Acupuncture for pain management and nausea
  • Diet interventions to decrease the body wasting that can happen with cancer and cancer treatment
  • High doses of nutriceuticals both orally and via IV to increase quality of life and overall treatment tolerance so patients may complete their chemotherapy treatment plan

For links to the evidence to support these therapies check out the Ottawa Integrative Cancer Centre.

How to Stay Well During Air Travel

Getting away to the sun and warmth is such a pleasure when it is so cold and bleak in a deep February freeze. But how do you make sure you don’t pick up a nasty bug on the plane surrounded by all the other coughing and sneezing Canucks trying to get the sunshine?

Below is what the StoneTree team recommends. We’ve used this plan on ourselves and our patients for many, many winter trips. It’s simple and it works great!

The day before you get on the plane:

  • Book in for an immune-boosting IV.  This infusion of vitamins and minerals is high in vitamin C, and super-charges your immune system

The day of the flight:

  • Upon waking drink at least 500ml of water
  • Take 2 capsules of Echinacea (a double dose of a liquid preparation)
  • (For those who cannot take Echinacea you can use oregano oil)

When you get to the airport:

  • Once through security buy two 500ml bottles of water
  • Put a packet of Emergen-C into each of them.  (If you do not have Emergen-C, you can use any other vitamin C at a dose of 1000mg)
  • While waiting to board drink one of the bottles

During your flight:

  • Take 2 more Echinacea upon boarding
  • Drink the 2nd bottle of vitamin C water during the flight.
  • Drink as much water as you can throughout the flight. Doing your best to keep your mucous membranes hydrated keeps them strong. 
  • Avoid sugar, which suppresses the immune system. 

Once you arrive at your destination:

  • Take your last dose of 2 capsules of Echinacea
  • ENJOY your trip!

On the flight home:

  • Repeat the same routine as the flight down. 

Upon arrival home:

  • If you were seating next to a “typhoid Mary” on the plane, you partied more then you rested on your vacation, or you just have that feeling you are fighting something, book in for an immune-boosting IV as soon as you can. 

Enjoy your happy, healthy and safe travels!

H1N1 is Back–Here Are Our Best Prevention Tips

This year’s flu season is in full swing, and according to authorities, it’s the worst since 2009. The predominant circulating strain this year is Influenza A-H1N1 (swine flu), and it seems to be hitting kids the hardest.

Whether or not you decide to get the flu shot there is much you can do to prevent the virus from taking hold in your kids and in yourself.

1.Decrease your exposure to the virus:

Influenza is a respiratory infection and is easily spread. Wash your hands often, and if you can’t, use hand sanitizer (triclosan-free please). Cough and sneeze into your elbow or a tissue. But most important: if you are sick, STAY HOME. Missing a day or two of work or school is better than spreading the virus around, but more important, it will help you heal.

2. Increase your body’s ability to fight potential infections:

  • GET LOTS OF SLEEP if you are feeling a little dragged out.
  • Get outside and go for a gentle walk in the fresh air. Clear out those lungs!
  • Drink lots of water and eat lots of soups, stews, and curries. Avoid sugars and white carbs. 
  • Supplement with daily vitamin D and vitamin C.

3. Boost your immune system, preventively:

Research during the last H1N1 pandemic demonstrated the value of the herbal medicine Echinacea for the possible treatment of influenza. In-vitro studies showed a decreased uptake of the virus by the human cells, and in mice models, the infected animals getting Echinacea got less sick.  

The research is not conclusive, of course, but Echinacea is a remarkably safe herb in both kids and adults. A daily dose through the cold and flu season may have some benefit.

If You’re Sick

If the flu has already got you, the best tool we have is IV vitamin C. This dramatic case study of its effectiveness in a case of swine flu in 2009 made it all the way to prime time:

We have seen IVC do wonders for all kinds of viral infections and it is a big player in our cold and flu season tool-box. 

Supporting your immune system can be different for each person. Book an appointment with your ND to determine the best plan for you.

The Math of Habit Change

The start of a new year marks a new beginning–it’s a compelling time to make a change for the better. Of course, those changes can be easy to promise but tough to deliver. Now, as mid-January approaches, many of us are finding our resolutions put to the real test!

Interestingly, resolutions often take the form of what you might think of as subtraction—things like cutting out sugar, curbing spending, or reducing screen time.

On the surface, this makes sense. Why not cut out the “bad stuff”? We seem to have an innate knack for demonizing things, and it’s only natural to want to get rid of the things we see as negative.

The problem with subtraction, however, is that it’s hard–particularly when it comes to ingrained behaviours like eating and drinking. Habits are essentially stored in the brain as neural connections, and that makes them easy to repeat, but difficult to eliminate. And habits that give us pleasure of some sort, like eating, shopping or screen-bingeing, are particularly difficult to break; when we don’t do them, our body’s neurochemistry prompts us to fire them back up again.

That doesn’t mean you can’t kick a bad habit. Not at all. But it might be worth considering whether adding might be more effective than subtracting in getting the job done.

For example:

  • If you commit to and focus on eating 8 serving of veggies a day, your belly might be so full of fibre that you aren’t really thinking so much about the chocolate bar.
  • If you commit to and focus on saving $5 a day in a jar, you might start to feel excited about your growing vacation savings instead of struggling with feelings of denial over the caramel macchiato.
  • If you commit to and focus on going for a 30-minute walk each day, that half-hour might just replace some of the time sitting on the couch watching Netflix.

Is this a magic bullet for change? Not at all. But if you find you’re struggling with your resolutions now the new year is really underway, it might be worth asking yourself whether addition might deliver better results than subtraction.

Gratitude and 2018

Last year was a big one for StoneTree Clinic. Our team and our patient community grew a lot! Here are a few highlights from 2018:

  • One new naturopathic doctorDr. Bronwyn Hill, ND. She started her ND career as a volunteer student over a decade ago, helping out Dr. Shelby and me when we were practicing over on Erie Street. She graduated from the Canadian College of medicine five years ago (she and Dr. Maggie were classmates) and after a few years in the city, she decided to make the move up north. We couldn’t be happier.
  • With well over 2200 IV’s being done in 2018 we needed some help, and added two new faces in the IV suite:
    • Sahar El Awady (Dr. Ehab’s wife). She brings both her history as an anesthesiologist in Eygpt, and real passion for patient care. She started in the IV suite this fall and is eagerly learning the naturopathic approach to health care.
    • Deb Chatwin, nursing assistant extraordinaire. You will see her as Angela’s right hand this January, learning the ropes and helping out.
  • One new face behind the front deskBridget McMaster joined us this summer as a student intern and we get to keep her until she heads off the Naturopathic College in the fall of 2019.
  • Three maternity leaves, which added 3 new babies to the STC family!
    • Dr. Kendra welcomed Rowan into her family in April of this year. She is now back to work and reconnecting with her patients and we get to snuggle with Rowan during case conference every week.
    • Dr. Maggie and her family welcomed a daughter, Rose into her family in October and Dr. Candice welcomed her son, Owen into the world just in time for Christmas this December. Both moms will be back to patient care in the late spring. Dr. Bronwyn is looking after their patients and loving it.

And most importantly….

  • Over 800 new patients came to the clinic for the first time! That means that in January we’ll kick off the new year by welcoming our 7,000th new patient! As always, we’re grateful for your trust in us and feel truly privileged to be a part of your health journey.

Thanks to all of you for a great year, and for growing with us as we find our way. As always, if there’s any way we can serve you better, let us know.

From the team at StoneTree Clinic, we wish you all a healthy and happy 2019!

It’s Even Easier to Use your Extended Benefits Before 2019

It’s easy to forget about your health–especially if your body hasn’t yet decided to remind you. And it’s particularly easy at this time of year when you’re running around dealing with holiday commitments and other stressors.

But now might be the most important time of year to remember to support your immune system and shore up your stress hormones.

This time of year we usually do a shout out to our patients to ensure they are:

  1. Taking care of themselves during the stressful holiday season
  2. Maximizing the use of their extended benefits package before the calendar turns over 

This year, STC has made it even easier for our patients to take care of themselves and use up the extended benefits they are entitled to – especially in times when cash flow is tight. We now offer direct billing to extended benefit insurance companies.

Simply bring in your policy card and let the front desk know you want to direct bill–they’ll do their best to get it done for you!

What Dr. Tara Learned at Convention

I was recently at a naturopathic convention, and one of the speakers put up a slide that I thought was worth sharing:

 

YOU CAN’T OUT-SUPPLEMENT A SHI**Y DIET AND LIFESTYLE

 

This may not be the news you want to hear as we head into the holiday season, but…it’s the truth. In almost every lecture at the three-day conference, which covered health issues from heart disease to cancer to infertility, all roads invariably led back to one problem: too much inflammation.

There are many great supplements, backed by lots of research, that help the body deal with inflammation – curcumin, fish oils, berberine, bio-flavanoids, olive oil. The list is long.

But taking a mitt-full of these supplements doesn’t help if you are living a standard North American lifestyle. Too much sugar, not enough greens. Too much stress, not enough sleep. Too much sitting, not enough movement. Too much screen time, not enough people time. It’s a perfect storm for making inflammation.

The basics are the most important, and the prescription is the same for everyone.

Eat generous helpings of produce every day. One easy way to get started is a daily green smoothie. There are recipes abound. Here is my current favourite:

  •  ½ frozen banana
  • 1 peeled orange
  •  1 handful curly kale
  •  1 handful spinach
  •  1 cup almond or coconut milk
  •  1 scoop isolated whey protein

Commit to getting into bed earlier. NO TV in the bedroom. Read, journal, meditate or…. but no TV!!!

Move every day. Yes, every day! Everyone has a few minutes. Get outside at lunchtime. Meet a friend after work or in the morning. It’s a kind of miracle.

Turn off the TV, the computer, the iPad and TALK TO A PERSON. Commit to eating as a family. If you’re living on your own, start up a weekly dinner group.

You can spend a fortune on supplements, but just remember: they won’t make up for not taking care of yourself.