Building Strong Back-to-School Immune Systems

Kids will be heading back into the classroom next week, and after the initial celebration by parents is over and the weather cools, thoughts turn to avoiding the seemingly inevitable “back to school” cold—both in our kids and ourselves!

Here are some of our best tips and tools as you head back into a new school year.

1. Sleep

Kids are chronically under-slept, and homework, extra-curriculars, and excessive screen time can contribute to the problem. Be mindful of this as the school year begins, and guard this aspect of health. Sleep is where we repair and recuperate—not enough of it means your immune system is more easily overwhelmed.  

How much sleep is enough? Here’s a starting point.

2. Keep them Outside

The school year means being inside. It means more sitting and breathing re-circulated air, surrounded by dozens of other kids. Make sure your kids spend daily time outside moving their bodies (and therefore their blood and immune systems) in the fresh air. It’s a critical part of keeping their immune systems strong and healthy.  

3. Eat for Immune System Success

What does that mean? It’s easy: avoid sugar and go for the healthy proteins. Here are some ideas that kids love.  

4. Supplement

We love Fit For School probiotics by Genestra which includes, probiotics, vitamin C and vitamin D, or MetaKids chewable probiotic only. Both are pretty yummy, but if you aren’t sure if your kids will like them, drop by the clinic. We always have a bottle/package open for a sample!

More:

::Back to School Advice from the StoneTree Naturopaths

Lyme Disease: What You Need to Know

With the incidence of Lyme disease climbing in Ontario, and in Simcoe County specifically, we’re getting more and more questions at the clinic about what people can do to keep their families and themselves safe. 

Here are answers to some of the most common questions, as well as info on a new tick removal kit we have available in the clinic.

What is Lyme disease? 

Lyme disease is a disease caused by the bacteria borrelia burgdorferi. It is spread to humans through the bite of an infected deer tick. 

Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle and joint pains, fatigue, and a skin rash, especially one that looks like a red bull’s eye (called erythema migrans). Although rashes are fairly common, only 30% of Lyme patients report experiencing a rash, and only 9% develop the classic “bull’s eye” rash.

How do you test for it? 

Lyme testing is tricky. Testing used in conventional medicine in Ontario commonly shows false negative results, especially in the early stages of the disease.  

There are two reasons for this. First, it takes time for antibodies to develop in the blood (between ten days and a month) so the early tests can miss the diagnosis. Also, Lyme is known for antigenic shifting, meaning the antibodies change, so antibody testing isn’t always effective.

Some international labs, like this one which we use, will do in-depth testing that is more accurate but is not covered by OHIP.  

Is it treatable? 

Lyme disease is treatable. However if the infection is not treated in its early stages it can easily turn into a chronic infection. 

Chronic Lyme disease will not go away on its own over time. There is no evidence to suggest Lyme disease clears the body without treatment. In fact, the opposite research exists.

There are two persistent myths surrounding chronic Lyme disease that affect its treatment. The first is that it doesn’t exist. The second is that there’s no reason to treat chronic Lyme disease since people don’t get much better.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. Most people can return to work and carry on with few limitations on their lifestyle. Lyme disease remains one of the most treatable of chronic illnesses.

What do I do if I find a tick on my body?

You can remove an embedded tick yourself, but it is a lot easier with the right tools, and something to keep it in for analysis. We now carry a tick removal kit at the clinic. It’s a great item for your first-aid kit, glove box, backpack, or purse, etc.

The kit includes tick identification cards, 3 styles of tick removers (ie, if tick is in your ear or a pet’s ear a different tick remover size and style are required), magnifying glass, containers to put ticks into, instructions for proper tick removal and identification, and a container to save the tick in. 

Available online, or at the clinic! 

Tips for Surviving the Summer Heat

Canadians don’t deal well with sustained heat and humidity. Sure, the odd day or two of over 30 gives us something to complain about, because we love to complain about the weather. But day after day of +30C with high humidex? That’s something we don’t adapt to very well.  

Many people around the planet, however, do effectively live in and deal with these high temperatures all the time. Here’s what we can borrow from their experience.  

Slow down. It’s often cold in Canada, so rushing from one thing to another in our day is not only possible, but it also helps keep us warm by generating body heat. That’s the last thing you want to do in high heat and humidity environments. Moving slowly decreases the heat you are generating and keeps your core temperatures down. 

Avoid activity in the heat of the day. In the tropics, the most productive times of the day or in the early morning and late after. Minimize activity and movement when possible. The middle of the day is for finding shade and rest. 

Stay hydrated. This isn’t just about water. Many cultures who live in hot climates have traditional beverages that help manage hydration. Coconut water, cold teas, like yerba mate in South America, lime juice, and water. Drinks like these are refreshing and contain electrolytes as well as water.  

What happens when you don’t manage heat well? You run the risk of heatstroke, also known as sunstroke–a type of severe heat illness that results in a body temperature greater than 40.0 °C (104.0 °F).

Symptoms of heatstroke include:  

  • Throbbing headache
  • Dizziness and light-headedness
  • Lack of sweating despite the heat
  • Red, hot, and dry skin
  • Muscle weakness or cramps
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rapid heartbeat, which may be either strong or weak
  • Rapid, shallow breathing

What to do about it: 

  • Get to a shady or air-conditioned place
  • Cool off with damp sheets and a fan
  • Take a cool shower or bath
  • Rehydrate (with NON-sugary beverages)

If you don’t feel better in 30 minutes, it’s off to the doctor with you! You may need IV fluids.  

Naturopathic Medicine Month Continues! Lab Tests, and Healthy Eating Made Simple

Naturopathic Medicine Month – Week #3

Here we are in our third of four weeks spreading the word about Naturopathic Medicine. As with our last two posts, we have a myth, an FAQ, a solution, and a tip!

Myth Buster: “Naturopathic Doctors put everyone on a restrictive diet.”

It’s true that all Naturopathic Doctors believe that food matters when it comes to your health.  

Most modern, chronic disease is strongly linked to poor diet, sedentary lifestyles, and smoking.  The evidence in the medical literature is overwhelming. So, with that in mind, just about every visit you have with an ND is likely to touch on what you eat. 

That can take a number of different forms. It might be dealing with inflammatory foods through food intolerance testing, or simply changing a diet high in “food-like substances” to one high in actual food.  

That doesn’t, however, mean that everyone needs to be gluten-free, or dairy-free, or vegan, or paleo, or keto, or whatever the latest sexy diet plan is.  

Each individual is different, and the diet that works for each person is also different. Getting to the root of that for each person is a cornerstone of naturopathic medicine.  

We have written many blog posts about nutrition that touch on our philosophy–here are a couple from the archives:

FAQ: “Can Naturopathic Doctors order lab tests?”  

Just like MD’s, Naturopathic Doctors can and do order labs tests.  There are, however, a couple of key differences: 

  • OHIP does NOT cover lab tests ordered by ND’s. The upside is that patients pay for their own labs, they get to have more control of their testing which keeps them in the driver’s seat for their health.    
  • ND’s look at labs differently. Although ND’s are trained to recognize abnormal labs, we are most interested in determining if there is a functional problem or pre-disease marker in lab results. Diabetes, for example, shows up as PRE-diabetes long before diabetes shows up. Staying on top of labs and dealing with problems ahead of time is true preventative medicine. 

Solution: Hormones!

Imbalances in hormones might be the single biggest root cause of the symptoms that bring patients to StoneTree Clinic. 

Symptoms like

  • persistent weight gain 
  • fatigue 
  • mood issues 
  • poor sleep 
  • brain fog
  • headaches 
  • menstrual issues 
  • PMS
  • Menopausal symptoms.  

The root cause of hormone imbalances are different for every patient, and we use specialized testing to figure out what the imbalance is.  We then use our awesome toolbox of herbal medicines, nutritional supplements, and diet and lifestyle changes to get things back where they belong. 

Tip: Healthy Eating Made Simple

This hilarious video really captures the confusion that most people feel about what they eat:

  • Eggs are good for you, then they are bad for you, then they are good for you again. 
  • Fats are bad, now they are good. 
  • Carbs are good for you, then they are not. 
  • You should eat meat, not eat meat, avoid gluten, eat more fiber….

It’s hard to keep it straight!

The best advice we can give holds true no matter what the new fad diet is:

Eat foods that nature makes, mostly plants, not too much. 
(Thanks, Michael Pollan)

It really is that simple.  

Seasonal Allergies and IV Vitamin C

A new piece of research is telling us what we have seen for years clinically: IV vitamin C works for seasonal allergies.  

This wasn’t a random, clinically controlled trial, but as the authors suggest, it will hopefully encourage just that.

As with most studies, this one isn’t exactly a page-turner. In a nutshell, after getting vitamin C intravenously 2-3 times a week, symptoms improved in over 90% of participants.

Better yet, the treatment was very well tolerated. Only 1 of the 71 patients had an adverse reaction (twice), and the reactions weren’t terribly serious–“repeated unpleasant sensation of cold a few hours after infusion” and “tiredness the next morning.”

This is similar to what we see clinically, and more research on this would be great–in particular, a double-blind, placebo-controlled study.  

There are, of course, many over-the-counter meds out there that can work for seasonal allergies. But when those don’t work, or if you experience side-effects, IV vitamin C may be a treatment worth trying.  

Allergy-related posts from the StoneTree archives:

Spring Cleaning–Inside and Out

It’s time for SPRING CLEANING!

The sun is shining, the snow is melting, it’s still daylight at 7:30 PM. HURRAY! It turns out we actually aren’t living in Game of Thrones after all. Winter is over (mostly) and spring has sprung.

As we emerge from our caves, thoughts turn to cleaning our spaces both internal and external.

Spring Cleaning the Outside

Spring cleaning has a long tradition in many cultures.  

In northern climes, before we had such things as vacuums and steam cleaners, March was the best time to open windows and doors, get the dust out of the house, and clean the soot from a winter of burning coal or wood.

Many cultural and religious traditions involve a deep cleaning of our spaces as part of spring.

  • The Catholic tradition is to thoroughly clean everything before Good Friday. 
  • Chinese New Year involves a thorough cleaning of your house to get rid of the bad luck of the past year, and makes room for the good luck of the new year. 
  • In the Middle East and Central Asia, Nowruz celebrations in the spring begin with the spring cleaning ritual known as Khaneh-Tekani, which literally means “shaking house.”
  • In Thailand, Songkran, the new years day, is mid-April and involves a festival of cleansing with water.   
  • Jewish tradition at Passover is to clean the entire house to get rid of all grains.

From whatever tradition your spring cleaning comes from, cleaning out your spaces feels great.

(Marie Kondo is the spring cleaning guru. Check out her Series on Netflix, “Tidying UP”. )

Spring Cleaning the Inside

We’ve written about this before.  Doing a “spring cleanse” is always a good idea.

There are many ways to do it and many products to use. Connect with your ND to determine the one that’s best for you.

In the meantime, here is a yummy detox salad to get you started!

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!

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!

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