Our Favourite Health Tips

I often get comments about how healthy everyone looks here at the clinic. And considering we work with sick people all day, it’s amazing that we rarely if ever get sick.

Part of our job is certainly to walk the talk. We take our own advice and our own medicine, and we work hard to stay healthy. I thought it might be interesting to dive into that, so recently I asked the StoneTree team for their favourite health tips. I hope you find a few here that resonate with you!

 – Dr. Tara

 

“I keep a gratitude journal and try to make entries in it regularly. It helps me stay positive and appreciate the little things in life. My goal is to write down 3 things that happened in the day that I am grateful for. I can’t say I remember to do it every single day, but the more I do it the better I feel. I think I started this after reading Brené Brown’s work showing that the most joyful people are those who actively practice gratitude.”

–Dr. Candice


“The most important thing I do for optimal health is moving my body every day–exercise always improves my mood, attention and overall health. Throughout the week I will change up my physical activity so it doesn’t get boring or repetitive. This is something I have done for a while as I would find myself unmotivated and bored after going to the gym every day and almost dreading it. One night will be a high-intensity workout at the gym, one night a yoga class at a studio in town, another night a spin class, another night a Zumba video at home or an at-home circuit, one day I might swim and the next I might go for a walk or hike. This way of exercise keeps me motivated and excited, there is so much you can do with your body to keep you engaged!”

–Bridget


“To anyone who knows me this is going to be repetitive, but GREEN SMOOTHIE EVERY SINGLE MORNING.

I have been religious about this for the better part of a decade. It covers at least 3 to 4 servings of vegetables and fruit right out of the gate, gives me an energy boost, and all the fibre keeps my digestive tract happy and regular.

Without my smoothie, I would have a hard time reaching my vegetable servings for the day (my goal is 6 servings of veg). Each morning we blend up a big batch in our Vitamix and everyone gets one, including our toddler, he loves it!

Here’s the key: at least HALF of the blender should be greens ex. Spinach/kale/zucchini etc.”

–Dr. Kendra


“I take my T3 pills every morning which is the most important thing for my health!”

–Dr. Harry


“Being balanced is important for me. This means having some quiet time to balance stress, getting things done but having time to enjoy family and friends, eating right but also enjoying “splurge’ foods. Balance in all aspects of my life is key for me to be happy and healthy.”

–Lisa


We saw a facebook message once that stated, “children need 8 snuggles throughout the day”. My morning routine is big squeezes/hugs/kisses with my boys when they wake up. As they get older this is somewhat of a challenge–some days we are doing tons of extra hugs at the end of the day to even get that. So making sure my morning always starts with physical snuggles helps.”

-Angela


“I prioritize good quality sleep. I know this can be a challenge with babies, children, and life in general, but optimizing whatever amount of sleep you do get is so foundational for health. I turn off the screens at least an hour before bedtime, take my magnesium, have an Epsom salt bath, and then it’s off to dream-land. Having a routine is very helpful!”

–Dr. Bronwyn


“Since I changed my career from the medical and radiation oncology profession to Naturopathic Medicine, I changed my whole life. I keep my clear water intake to 3 litres every day, eating a lot of cabbage and broccoli, giving up the bread and pasta (most of the time). I feel much better, with high energy and focus. Even my sleep gets better.”

–Dr. Ehab


“Starting my day out with a green smoothie gets me going. I’ve been doing it every day for 8 years.”

–Julie


“I start my day with a 30 min walk up a hill with my husband. This gets me outside for fresh air and sunshine, it gets me my cardiovascular exercise AND weight-bearing because I am lugging my body uphill, and it gets me connected to my best guy every day.”

–Dr. Tara.


“I am not a very good water drinker, so to stay on top of my hydration I have 3 strategies that I do daily:

1) I bring a water bottle with me every time I leave the house

2) I keep a jug of water and a glass on my desk at work with a sign that says ‘drink me’

3) I bring a glass of water to bed with me every night. Whatever I don’t drink before bed/throughout the night I make sure I drink in the morning when I get up.

By sticking to these strategies every day I am guaranteed to drink more water than my body would ‘naturally’. It’s amazing what staying on top of my hydration has done for my energy, my mood, my concentration and my ability to distinguish hunger from thirst.”

–Dr. Maggie


“Packing a good lunch for work. Whether it’s leftovers from dinner, or a medley of what I find in the fridge (today it was layers of napa cabbage, tahini sauce, adzuki beans, spicy salad mix, roasted beets, kimchi, avocado, chipotle flakes), or simply running out the door with an avocado (knowing I have a can of quinoa & black bean chili in my locker for emergencies)… I am prepared. Eating a good lunch leads to making better choices when it comes time for dinner.”

–Dr. Shelby


“My favourite advice or health hack would have to be to ‘Sweat More’! Even though “you are what you eat”, the times I have felt the greatest in my life are those when I have been working out and SWEATING regularly.

Strength training has been shown to improve muscle strength, bone density, metabolic rate, cognitive function and reduce the potential for functional decline. In combination with cardiovascular workout activity, it can improve muscle tone, lung capacity, and cardiovascular health. All of this resulting in less risk of metabolic syndrome, inflammatory processes, peri-menopausal symptoms, and improved insulin sensitivity. The SWEAT that comes along with activity is a wonderful pathway of detoxification for the body – after all our skin is our largest organ. So to all our clients … I say “SWEAT MORE” and try to welcome every drop of it.”

–Lori Prest, RN

Lavender: Reduced Anxiety with No Side-Effects

Lavender has long history of use for its calming effect. Anxiety, insomnia, restlessness—they’re all challenges that can often be helped with lavender.

In 2014, a double-blind, placebo-controlled study looked at the impact of the orally administered lavender oil preparation Silexan.

The study divided 539 adults into four groups.

  • A placebo group
  • A paroxetine group (a prescription anti-depressant, commonly known as Paxil)
  • An 80mg dose lavender group
  • A 160mg dose lavender group

The study measured results using the Hamilton Anxiety Scale before and after.

Great Results, No Side-Effects

After ten weeks of treatment, there was a reduction in anxiety in all groups, but lavender was the clear winner:

  • 63.3% in the lavender 160mg group
  • 51.9% in the lavender 80mg group
  • 43.2% in the paroxetine group
  • 37.8% in the placebo group

The best part? Unlike Paxil, which has many demonstrated side-effects, the lavender had none.

Another study comparing lavender to lorazepam showed similar results, and at the end of the trial, the remission rates were higher for the lavender group (40% for lavender, versus 27% for lorazepam).

A great, research-backed win for lavender!

If you’d like more information on the safe and effective use of lavender, contact the clinic.

Functional Hypothyroidism: When Normal Isn’t Normal

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in your neck that’s responsible for secreting a critical hormone called triiodothyronine or “T3”.

T3 is the active form of the thyroid hormone. It’s the body’s “accelerator,” regulating body temperature, heart rate, body weight, and glucose/cholesterol management. T3 is essentially responsible for controlling cell metabolism in every cell in your body, promoting optimal growth, function, and maintenance of all body tissues.

Needless to say, it’s a pretty important hormone.

Enter rT3, the Evil Twin

Your body also has reverse T3 (rT3), T3’s evil twin. This pesky hormone is a mirror image of T3. It can attach itself to T3 receptors, but because it’s shape is different, it doesn’t fit properly and fails to activate them. In doing so, it blocks T3 from plugging-in, thus inactivating the accelerator.

Under normal circumstances, your body produces about 60% T3 and 40% rT3. That means the rT3 is “outgunned” and things work as they’re supposed to.

Here’s the catch: Reverse T3 production increases in direct response to stress of any kind. Cortisol, the stress hormone, effectively inhibits our ability to produce T3 AND promotes the production of rT3– a double whammy. Under high, prolonged stress, so much rT3 is produced that it blocks almost all of the T3 receptors and normal T3 is completely, or almost completely, inactivated.

What happens now? You get all the symptoms of hypothyroidism (low thyroid function):

  • Fatigue
  • Increased sensitivity to cold
  • Constipation
  • Dry skin
  • Unexplained weight gain
  • Puffy face
  • Hoarseness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Elevated blood cholesterol level
  • Muscle aches and pain
  • Pain, stiffness or swelling in your joints
  • Heavier than normal or irregular menstrual periods
  • Thinning hair
  • Slower heart rate
  • Depressed mood
  • Impaired memory

Here’s the critical part. Conventional medical approaches typically don’t measure T3 and rT3 levels, so your lab tests for related hormones like TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) and T4 (the “raw material” from which T3 and rT3 are made) can look normal.

The Solution

Most medical doctors do not recognize rT3 dominance theory or functional hypothyroidism, and will not prescribe T3. Conventional medicine only recognizes thyroid gland deficiency.

This isn’t a thyroid gland deficiency. It’s an imbalance of T3 to rT3, most often caused by prolonged stress. This is easily treated with stress management and a prescription for T3.

Questions about your thyroid or any of the symptoms above? You can have your rT3 and T3 levels measured by contacting the clinic.

Dr. Kendra is Back November 5th!

Dr. Kendra is back in the house on November 5th. She is already booking up fast!

Her hours this fall/winter are:

  • Monday 2-6
  • Tuesdays 9-5
  • Thursdays 10-1

A big welcome to baby Rowan! We are all so excited to have another baby in the StoneTree Clinic family.:)

You can book an appointment with Dr. Kendra here, or by calling 705-444-5331.

Food as Medicine: Moonshine Mama’s Turmeric Elixir

Turmeric has received a lot of coverage in health media of late, and for good reason. The active ingredient in turmeric, curcumin, has been shown in studies to be useful for a wide variety of health concerns, from inflammation, arthritis, and mood to heart disease and even cancer.

The trick is getting enough in you in the right form to make a difference.

To get the benefit of the active ingredient in turmeric, the supplement companies extract the curcumin out of the root using ethanol. They then package the curcumin in fats to increase absorption.

However, if you want to do it the old-fashioned way, you can add turmeric to coconut oil with some black pepper, and heat it up. This releases the curcumin and increases the absorption of it.

The maker of Moonshine Mama has a personal reason for its development–she was diagnosed with Stage 3 cancer.  During exhaustive research, she kept finding four foods that were consistently connected with good outcomes for cancer patients: ginger, lemon, honey, and turmeric.

She wanted an easy and delicious way to get this into her diet every day, and voila, the Moonshine Mama’s Elixirs & Tonics brand was born. They are available in many locations around the Collingwood – Press Market, Wild Stand, Farm to Table Market and, of course, here at StoneTree.

Wanna try one? Come into the clinic and sample one of the 4 delicious flavours we have in the fridge!

5 Ways to Support Breast Health

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. According to the Canadian Cancer Society, an estimated 26,300 women were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2017. This represents 25% of all new cancer cases in women in 2017. The same year, 5,000 women died from breast cancer. This represents 13% of all cancer deaths in women in 2017.

The number of women and families impacted is enormous.

In that spirit of prevention, we wanted to focus on the most important things you are can do to prevent breast cancer before it begins.

1. Make time for regular exercise

Adopt an active lifestyle. Aim for 30 minutes or more of moderate aerobic activity at least five days per week. The average risk reduction when comparing the highest versus lowest levels of physical activity is 25%. <source>

2. Minimize or avoid alcohol

Alcohol is one of the most well-established dietary risk factors for breast cancer. Women who consume more than two glasses of alcohol a day are at higher risk. <source>

3. Eat more veggies

Consume more cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower), dark leafy greens, carrots, tomatoes, citrus fruits, berries, and cherries. Cruciferous veggies help the body detoxify excess estrogens and chemicals that are associated with increased breast cancer risk. <source>

4. Maintain a healthy body weight

If you can consistently connecting to the three lifestyle factors above, then you’ll have a much better chance of maintaining a healthy body weight. Plenty of moderate exercise, a plant-based diet, and avoidance of alcohol is usually a slam-dunk in this area.

Maintain a BMI less than 23 throughout your life. Weight gain and obesity may increase your risk of breast cancer. <source>

What does a BMI of 23 mean? Here’s how to calculate yours. This way of evaluating weight isn’t perfect–it doesn’t take into account body composition or structure–but it is a place to begin evaluating if weight loss is an area you need to focus on.

5. Quit smoking

The risk of breast cancer (and many others) increases if you smoke. Smoking is associated with a modest but significant increased risk of breast cancer, particularly among women who started smoking at adolescent or peri-menarcheal ages. The relative risk of breast cancer associated with smoking was greater for women with a family history of the disease. <source>

Is Your Teen Struggling With Mental Health Issues?

StoneTree welcomes a guest writer today. Eve Clements is a grade 12 student at CCI, and the daughter of Dr. Tara. Here she is with her perspective on teen mental health. Thanks, Eve!

 – The StoneTree Team

Rates of depression and anxiety in teens have risen 70% in the last 25 years.We’re in the grips of a mental health crisis, and as hard as it is to hear, in many cases, parents are doing the wrong things. Here are six signs to watch for in your teen.

1. Isolation

It is common for teens to become more withdrawn as they step into a teenage lifestyle. However, if your child avoids things they used to love like sports and social events, or cuts off friends so they can stay home in their room, you may want to check in.

2. Changes in Eating Habits

Be aware of both binge eating and reduced eating. Social media has got a grip of much, if not all, of teenage brains, and can cause serious disordered thoughts around food. Small changes can be nothing, but catch them before they get out of hand, as these thoughts can be very hard to reverse.

3. Preoccupation with Appearance

Social media comparison is common with teenagers, and a preoccupation with appearance can be consuming. This can lead to social anxiety, and can go hand-in-hand with changes in eating habits.

4. Self-Harm

This can be hard to catch, but is very important and very serious. It needs immediate professional attention, as it goes hand in hand with suicidal thoughts and can lead to attempted suicide.

5. Drastic Changes in Grades

For sufferers, depression is like a dark hole that can consume everything in life, including motivation. School can be hard enough on its own, without the burden of mental illness. Slipping grades can be a sign of deeper troubles. Watch for changes and try and create a solution… together!

6. Substance Abuse

Experimenting with alcohol or drugs isn’t unusual for teens, but when it reaches the point that it is no longer an experiment or fun, but an abusive relationship, things have gone too far. This abusive relationship can be seen in changes in mood or personality, unexplained injuries or weight loss, or extreme fatigue or other unusual behaviours. If this is the case, confront, talk calmly and openly, and create boundaries and a solution.

Remember that raising healthy and happy teens is about a healthy balance of teaching the child to make choices on their own, while passing on your own experience and wisdom. Both sides of the relationship need to be equally validated and understood.

Hormone Replacement 101

A hormone is a molecule that is produced by a gland. Hormones are chemical messengers; they’re carried in your blood to other organs, where they control how those organs behave.

Like all delivery systems, hormones aren’t perfect. Messages can be disrupted by all kinds of things, including your lifestyle, your age, and your genetics, to name a few things. When that happens, you can get any number of crazy symptoms, some of which can be pretty troublesome. Menopause is just one example of the changes brought on by shifting hormones.

To deal with these hormonal changes, doctors sometimes prescribe hormone replacement therapy. Conventionally, that means using synthetic hormones. The drawback of those is that they can be very powerful and carry more risk and side-effects.

Here at StoneTree, we use bio-identical hormone therapy (BHRT) to help optimize your hormonal balance using hormones that are compounded to be identical or very close to the ones in your body.

You have some 50 or so hormones carrying messages in your body. Here are the most common ones prescribed in BHRT:

  • DHEA, or dehydroepiandrosterone, is a hormone produced by your body’s adrenal glands. It functions as a precursor to male and female sex hormones, including testosterone and estrogen. It is sometimes called the “anti-aging” hormone.
  • Progesterone is most known for its role in fertility and pregnancy, but in BHRT it has important applications to cognition, sleep patterns and mood.
  • Estrogen is an important hormone for healthy function of the reproductive system in adult humans.  It is most often used in BHRT to manage symptoms of hot flashes, night sweats, and libido issues in women.
  • Testosterone, the “body-building” hormone, is a sex hormone that regulates sex drive (libido), bone mass, fat distribution, muscle mass and strength in men. Because of its pesky tendency to convert itself into estrogen, it’s uncommonly prescribed in BHRT.
  • Thyroid hormone is the body’s “accelerator. The thyroid hormones make everything GO!  If your thyroid hormone isn’t working, you feel tired, fat and cold.
  • Melatonin is produced in the pineal gland in the brain and is an important hormone for regulating circadian rhythms. In BHRT, it is most commonly prescribed alongside progesterone to support restful sleep.

If you’re curious about your hormones and would like to learn more, you can book a 15-minute “meet the doctor visit” with our resident BHRT expert, Dr. Gervais Harry, MD. Just click here, or call 705-444-5331.

What’s Your Mindset for Aging?

As I head into my late 40’s, I am struck by how much of the conversation in my peer group is about getting older:

  • My joints are sooooooooo achy.
  • I can’t remember anything. I must be starting to lose it.
  • My fortune to be able to sleep like a teenager again.
  • What the heck happened to the skin on my neck?!!!

All these symptoms are chalked up to “getting older,” and then the conversation moves on to investments, aging parents, or troublesome teenagers.

I think we’re missing something in the conversation.

As an ND, I spend a lot of time thinking about disease prevention and optimum health. In my many years of practicing in the Georgian Triangle I’ve met many people who are shining examples of healthy aging.

I know 50-year-olds who look like they are in their 30’s. I’ve worked with 60-year-olds who are starting up wildly successful businesses. We have 70-year-olds in the clinic who are shredding up the ski hills, and 80-year-olds who are biking with the local cycling clubs and setting the pace.

These people inspire me and mirror that healthy aging is indeed possible and it’s not magic.

The Three Mindsets of Aging

But what’s different about those people? One of the consistent qualities in all these healthy people is their mindset. Over the years of working with thousands of patients, I have found three predominant mindsets as people age. Two that do not serve them, and one that serves very well.

The first is the “ignore it and it will go away” mindset. These are the patients who continue to believe that they have the biochemistry of the 20-year-old. They eat junk, drink too much, don’t get enough sleep and play the odd hockey game in the belief that it’s enough to support good health. Their body is SCREAMING at them with various symptoms, and they simply ignore it all and carry on. The end game? A heart attack, stroke or worse.

The second is the “I’m getting older and I must accept it” mindset. These patients believe that there is nothing to be done about the symptoms of aging. They are doomed to painful movement, increasingly chubby bodies, and lapsing memories. They will retire, golf and slowly lose the function of their bodies and their minds, and there is simply nothing that came be done about it. Aging is an inexorable tide, so why bother swimming?

The patients who inspire me that healthy aging is possible, however, share neither of these two internal stories. Their mindset is different.

Theirs is the “I’m going to live my best life as the years pass” mindset. Do they think they are 20 still? No way. They know their body and biochemistry does not work the same as it did in those younger years. But they also know that there is much that can be done, and that maintaining and even improving their health as they age requires something different than it did decades before.

They know they need:

  • Consistent exercise. No more weekend warrior stuff will do. Daily movement is mandatory.
  • Consistent healthy eating. 80/20 is key here. You used to get away with 80% junk. Now it’s time to flip the ratio to 80% or more real, whole food.
  • Consistent rest. Rest is when we repair, and this takes a little more time as we age. We have to make more time for it.
  • Consistent reality checks. How much are you really doing the things above? How much are you really drinking? What’s your language around aging? How much are you challenging your mind and your body as time passes?

Changing your mindset about aging doesn’t mean you ignore your changing parts, but it also doesn’t mean you accept infirmity as the only end game.

Do your genetics matter? Of course. But they’re only part of the story, and probably a smaller part than you think.

Besides, what sounds more appealing: believing you can’t do anything, or believing that you can consciously engage with your body, listen to its signals, and support it to give you the vibrant health it wants to in your 70’s, 80’s and beyond?

Upcoming Workshops: Cancer Care, Sleep Habits

Cancer Care: Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Approaches

Tuesday, September 25, 2018
6:00PM-7:00PM
FREE
Call or email the clinic to register

Join Naturopathic Doctor, Dr. Ehab Mohammed ND to learn about the best evidence to support the use of complementary intervention in the care of those with cancer. Whether you are engaging in conventional cancer care or not this open session will be of value to you.

Dr. Ehab spent over 20 years practicing and researching oncology at the University of Cairo as a medical doctor. He is now training and licensed as a Naturopathic Doctor and is passionate about the integration of complementary and conventional care.

Learn more about Dr. Ehab here.

Healthy Sleep Habits For Kids: A Workshop for Parents

Wed, 3 October 2018
7:00 PM – 8:30 PM EDT
FREE
Register here

Join Naturopathic Doctor, Dr. Bronwyn Hill ND and Jessica White, a Certified Integrative Sleep Consultant, to learn how to create lasting changes in your house that will positively affect your family’s sleep.

Enjoy and informative session to learn the latest on sleep science, nutrition, and take home strategies to help children ages 3-10 get their recommended sleep hours for optimal health.

Learn more and register for your spot here.