Lyme Disease

Last January we travelled to the Caribbean with my husband’s family. After much discussion and debate, we ended up in Barbados. The beaches were lovely, golf courses plentiful, but most important to the consideration of location, incident rates of Malaria and the lesser known Chikungunya were tempered relative to other vacation hot spots. While both conditions are serious and require prompt and appropriate medical care, neither were stirring me away or towards particular beach destinations.  In short, I was just not that worked up about it. I saw it as a controlled risk, one I was willing to take for the sake of my mental health and the opportunity to spend time on the beach (likely is a sprayed area) with my children.

While easily perceived as simply naïve, my tempered concern related to Malaria and Chikungunya were contextualized to a more pressing fear, much closer to home; Lyme disease. It is debilitating, it is poorly diagnosed and it is endemic in Ontario. Forget the drama of tropical mosquito nets and the debate over DEET, understanding Lyme disease and your risk SHOULD be included your vacation conversations this summer.

Lyme disease is becoming more rampant in it’s typical breeding ground in the North Western US as well as Canada. CDC reports indicate that the incidence of Lyme disease have increased by over 320% since 1993. Lyme disease is carried in ticks that were traditionally preyed upon by white mice. With increased clear cutting and a warming climate in areas further north, the ticks travelled rapidly on the backs of dear and found themselves inhabiting the grassy fields prevalent in the northern US and Canada. Lyme disease is transferred to humans when we are bit by a tick carrying Lyme. Lyme infected ticks are in fact transferring a bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi, a potent little bug with a propensity to hide and mimic other common conditions.

What are the symptoms how is it treated? Scenario 1

The symptoms associated with Lyme depend on who you ask. Many common resources will mention, fever, body-aches, malaise, headaches, fatigue and the famous bulls-eye rash. If you are lucky, these are the symptoms you will develop. Luck is paramount, because a classic presentation usually leads to prompt treatment. While more and more physicians will acknowledge Lyme, there remains a subgroup that still “believe” that Lyme is not a condition found in Canada. Oh dear!

What are the symptoms how is it treated? Scenario 2

The more common situation is that people are bit by a tick and don’t notice. Or, they are bit by a tick and don’t develop any classic symptomology. Some resources suggest that up to 40% of infections do NOT develop the bulls-eye rash. For many of my patients, Lyme did not become part of their medical team’s discussion until they had received a battery of tests, seen a plethora of physicians and had exhausted all other possibilities. These people, many of whom are my patients, were given anti-depressants and referred to psychiatrists for “psychosomatic stress disorders.” Many eventually resorted to US physicians for assistance. For these patients, the joint pain, muscle aches, headaches, lack of energy, cardiovascular symptoms, neurological manifestations and chronic illness had become debilitating. Most of these individuals were eventually helped through the assistance of progressive and comprehensive testing from US labs and treatment in US facilities. These expenses were paid for out of pocket.

So why is Lyme not be tested and treated effectively in Canada? Great question. Ontario’s (actually Canada’s) testing for Lyme looks for a very limited profile of Borrelia burgdorferi and is riddled with false-negatives. While “Lyme-Literate” physicians are aware of this shortcoming, many GPs are not. Early detection is critical and the system, as it stands now, is not equipped to detect or treat new cases of Lyme with any significant reliability.

How do I protect myself?

Ticks LOVE long grass and wooded areas – the kind you would lose your ball in on an average day of golfing. The young deer ticks that cause Lyme are most active from mid-May to mid-August and are roughly the size of a poppy seed.

Here is what you need to know:

  1. If you do need to be in the woods or grass, ensure you are wearing long pants.
  2. Check your body and those of your kids and pets EVERY time you come in from having been outside.
  3. Check you legs after sitting on the ground in areas with long grass or against stone walls.
  4. Tie you hair back when gardening.
  5. If you suspect you have a tick, seek the assistance of a walk-in clinic or your doctor as soon as possible.
  6. If you have been experiencing chronic, undiagnosed symptoms such as numbness and tingling, joint pain, headaches or other unexplained symptoms, it may be worth consulting a Lyme literate physician.

I am not a worrier. My last irrational encounter with worry was after seeing jaws – I convinced myself for years that there were great white sharks lurking in Lake Muskoka. While this fear was eventually tempered, the evidence related to Lyme disease is continuing to grow. It is worrisome, it is political and it is not going away. Canada has a “Lyme Strategy” that most experts feel is vastly inadequate to deal with the scope and severity of the disease.

This is not meant to temper your vacation or desire to frolic in the long summer grass. It is meant to provide an ounce of prevention and awareness for a condition that deserves our respect. Play with awareness and have fun with the full body scans.

Share your comments, feedback or questions below.

About a year ago a patient told me she was putting butter in her coffee every morning. My jaw dropped. I thought that was the worst idea I had ever heard. Fast-forward 12 months. Not only have I tried the latest craze of “Bulletproof” coffee, I thoroughly enjoy it and understand why people feel so great. (dear patient, insert smile here.)

Now, before you think that this ND has fallen off the rails, let me provide some background on what this craziness is all about. [WARNING: conventional butter haters will be crawling in your skin]. While historically demonized, saturated fats are becoming increasingly understood to play an important role in our hormonal and brain health. The more we understand about these fats, the more we realize that the biochemistry is not as simple as whether or not something is saturated. The source of the saturated fat (think avocado vs. bacon grease) has a profound effect on the stability of the oil and it’s performance in our body. Science and common sense will attest to this difference.

Bulletproof coffee came about after the inventor, Dave Asprey, observed a significant spike in cognitive performance and energy levels after having butter added to his tea while travelling. He investigated the science and came up with his own version of the traditional drink by adding GRASS-FED butter to organic, low-mold coffee. According to Asprey, “Grass-fed butter is much healthier than other butter.  It doesn’t make cholesterol levels worse, it optimizes them!  Starting your day with grass-fed butter will give you lots of energy and it will give your body healthy fats that it will use to make cell walls and hormones.”

While I frequently opt for coconut oil instead of grass fed butter, the effects and flavor are the same – delicious creamy coffee and hours of focused brainpower.

I have been so impressed and excited by the work of Dave Asprey that I have started to carry his coffee and oils here in Canada. You can learn more about everything at https://www.bulletproofexec.com and order some of your own through the Shop on my website.

If you are intrigued to try some buttery coffee for yourself, you MUST use organic, grass-fed butter. The only place I know to access this is through Brookers Meats. Incidentally, Brooker’s has an excellent assortment of organic meat…. Delivered right to your door.

Intrigued? Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind.

  1. Do not have buttered coffee daily if you are currently being treated for high cholesterol. Let’s talk about your unique case first.
  2. Do not drink caffeinated coffee if you are pregnancy (I feel like this should be obvious by now.)
  3. Do not drink buttered coffee and an additional large breakfast. A green smoothie will likely suffice, if you choose to have anything else at all. There are a lot of calories in the coffee, for many people, this is all they have.
  4. Do, have a small amount of protein (almond butter, cheese, nuts, etc) before having any coffee. It helps with blood sugar management.

Still scared? I’ve got lots of other options to help get you up and focused throughout the day. Stay tuned… more great brain powered options are coming in the weeks ahead.

Sleep is a big topic. For those who do it poorly, there is a critical awareness of the frustration and stress that can be caused by a bought of insomnia. In stark contrast, there are those who achieve a weird sense of accomplishment for surviving on as little sleep as possible. Regardless of the cause, as North Americans, we are sleeping 20% less than we were 40 years ago.  At either end of the spectrum, you need to fix your problem and you need to fix it fast.

Lack of healthy sleep (by choice, insomnia or a new baby) will wreak havoc on your system. It is a source of stress in an of itself and will directly contribute towards weight gain, inadequate focus, low-grade chronic inflammation and poor insulin sensitivity (pre-diabetes), among other things.

Sleep itself is complex. In fact, we are not yet certain of all of the functionality that sleep facilitates for the body. We do know, that more important than the total hours you sleep, is the depth and quality of your sleep’s cyclicity. For those who “need” 8-10 hours of sleep, or who sleep for that long and never feel refreshed, it is less likely that you need more sleep and more likely that you are someone who poorly cycles within they sleep you do get.

These 10 sleep hacks address both sleep depth and cycles:

  1. Lock out light. All light – real or artificial will interfere with your ability to produce Melatonin. Melatonin production shuts down when light hits the back of the retina. Use blackout curtains or a facemask and avoid, if possible, turning on the light when you get up to pee.
  2. Lose the phone. Increasing research suggests that Wi-Fi can impact brainwaves and most definitely, the associated light will disrupt your sleep. Err on the side of caution and move your cell phone away from your head at night. Before cell phones there were these amazing little devices called alarm clocks, get one (without a bright interface).
  3. Clenching? My holistic dentist, Dana Coulson, is obsessed with jaw clenchers. She is convinced that half of the insomnia we see in practice is due to consummate teeth clenchers. Stress and anxiety will only worsen this problem. Check in with your dentist or ask your partner if you are grinding your teeth at night.
  4. Lose technology before bed. Stop watching TV, checking Instagram or responding to email right before bed. All of these activities excite your sympathetic (fight or flight) component of your nervous system. This part of your nervous system was meant to keep you alive in face of roaming sabre tooth tigers. No one sleeps well with roaming tigers. Turn off technology.
  5. 1 tbsp of flax oil – One of the reasons people often wake up or are roused at night is due to dropping blood sugar. Try taking 1 tbsp of flax seed oil before you head to bed. It will help to stabilize blood sugar levels throughout the night (and hopefully prevent some night grazing).
  6. Create Routine – the opposite of your sympathetic nervous system is your parasympathetic nervous system, responsible for rest and repair. Creating a consistent bedtime routine will start to trigger parasympathetic dominance before your head hits the pillow. Tea, candles and a great novel (not self-help) are an excellent way to start.
  7. Supplementation – some, but not all people benefit from some gentle supplementation to help with sleep. Melatonin is a favourite of travellers or occasional insomniacs. It is important that your supplement of choice be treating the cause of the problem. If this is something you want to look at, we should sit down to discuss. As a word of caution, if you have a history of night terrors, melatonin has been known to make them worse.
  8. Exercise – no one goes to bed at night saying ‘I wish I hadn’t exercised today,’ and for good reason. Exercise has been shown to increase the depth and quality of sleep cyclicity. If you are a poor sleeper and not exercising, you are in for a real treat when you start moving your body.
  9. Magnesium – this incredible little mineral is masterful at helping the body to relax. Safe for everyone, taking some non-addictive magnesium before bed is an extremely helpful addition to your evening routine. Start with 250mg.
  10. Meditation – No, I am not talking about an hour each day in a silent lotus position. Research has shown that as little as 3 minutes of guided meditation daily can assist with the quality and depth of your sleep. Think you may need a little extra help. Check out the cool new meditation device, The Muse. It provides biofeedback to help you maintain your focus. Headspace is another great meditation training App that I frequently use with my patients.

Good sleep means good brain function, but it is not the whole picture. If you are interested in learning more about brain health and mental clarity, join me for a free webinar next Thursday, May 7th at 8pm.

People want to know how to be healthier, not through supplementation, but through lifestyle choices, am I right?

There is a time and place to push one’s physiology in a certain direction, to stop a disease process or override inflammation, but once we have those things under control, it is nice to coast a little bit – to reinforce the positive changes we have made with lifestyle choices that support optimal health.

My goal for everyone I work with is to optimize their performance. We are striving towards a goal that has one waking refreshed, eating without pain and thinking with clarity. Achieving this state does not require endless supplements, it requires consistent work. This past weekend I spent Saturday afternoon in a Kombucha making class. It was amazing. For those of you not familiar, Kombucha it is fermented black or green tea. Fermented foods, produced with the assistance of bacteria and yeast, are incredible for helping to maintain the normal healthy state of one’s microbiome (good bacteria in their body). Examples of fermented food include tempeh, kimchi and sauerkraut. For those looking to reduce their probiotic budget, or support their investment, fermented foods are an excellent choice.

In the spirit of healthy lifestyle choices, aka, doing it without supplements, I wanted to invite you to two upcoming opportunities.

Fitbit Community.

As many of you know I have a mild obsession with technology. With wearable devices available at reasonable rates, there are ample opportunities to begin to make movement more fun and accountable. For those of you who may be thinking of or using a Fitbit to track your steps and exercise, I have started an online Fitbit community, to help hold us accountable to one another. This group is open to everyone and accessible through the Fitbit Dashboard. (So far I am walking the least of anyone in the group. I need to get a move-on.)

Join our Fitbit Community.

Upcoming Webinar

I will be hosting an upcoming Webinar on May 7th called Banishing Brain fog…. Forever. This webinar is completely FREE and will serve as a lead-up to my up-coming May Detox… called Clarity Cleanse. (More on this next week)

Brain Fog or lack of mental clarity is a significant challenge to managing life and performing at your highest capacity. Whether you are a new mom or a busy executive, your lifestyle choices are either helping or hampering your symptoms. This FREE webinar will focus on:

The top 5 foods that contribute to brain fog
The best nutrition for optimal brain functionality
Lifestyle hacks to optimize focus and energy
Strategic supplementation to optimize your creative genius

May 7th, 8pm EST

Count Me In. I totally want to banish brain fog

I look forward to hearing about your adventures with Kombucha, watching you start to move with your Fitbit and joining us on May 7th for the Banishing Brain fog webinar.

Warmly,

There is something incredibly cruel about a naturopathic doctor who removes chocolate from someones diet just before Easter. Who would do such a thing. Have no fear my chocolate and sugar free friends…. my good friend and Holistic Nutritionist extraordinaire, Jesse Lane, has come to the rescue. Jesse originally introduced me to this recipe at Christmas time when we were filing an episode of Bright Almond TV. It is addictive and it can be modified for any season and occasion based on your preferred toppings. The best part – there is no sugar!

Carob Bark aka [Healthy] Candy Craving Bark

3/4 cup candy cane bits (or walnuts or whatever you want)

3/4 cup carob powder

2 Tbs Lacuma powder (you can leave this out. It is just a way to increase the vitamin C content)

1/8tsp stevia (the stevia should be raw or green. It will taste soon much better)

1/2 – 3/4 C Coconut oil (melted)

5-10 drops peppermint extract

Directions

1. Line a brownie pan with parchment paper

2. Mix carob, lacuna and stevia

3. Add peppermint oil (don’t include if you are using peppermint or candy cane pieces)

4. Add coconut oil

5. Top with candy canes, walnuts or your whatever

6. Freeze for 2 hours.

Store in the refrigerator.

You life will never be the same.

Apr 01

Digital Detox

Digital Detox

This cleanse is really the easiest thing I have ever done. I chose to do it while I was on vacation with my family, but it is equally amenable to a cooler, snowier climate. It helped me shed pounds, increase my focus and re-invigorate my passion for career and family. Do you want in?

Here is the general overview of a typical “cleanse” day. Following water and a quick workout, we ate breakfast, had a coffee and structured our day around the beach, lunch, and our children’s napping schedules. In the afternoon we sat by the pool, drank blender-based libations and read, real books, on paper. This routine repeated itself for a little over a week.

Given that all goods cleansing systems have acquired a name, I have called mine, Control-Alt-Delete. My beach cleanse was not defined by a deprivation of calories, it was hallmarked by the removal of technology. I unplugged. For up to 4 days at a time, I ignored email, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. I didn’t respond to texts and I pretended voicemail didn’t exist. At first it felt weird. I was a little bit light headed. As my body acclimatized to the change in mental demands, my brain became creative and my legs were inspired to get up and actually move. It was an incredible feeling.

The epidemic of sitting and screen time is not benign. According to a 2012 study in the Archives for Internal Medicine, occupational sitting is correlated to an increase in “all cause mortality.” In other words, the more time you spend in front of a screen, the higher your chances of dying from any or all forms of chronic disease. Just as most of us would think better of smoking in front of our children, turning off your phone and spending face-to-face time with your kids could be life changing for both of you.

Despite our consistent efforts to discredit the inconvenient association between children’s screen time and the development of obesity, metabolic syndrome and diabetes, the evidence suggests that all of these preventable diseases are highly correlated to children’s engagement with technology.

Regardless of the genre of your cleanse, the motivation to “start fresh” or re-set your lifestyle habits is profoundly impactful. The evidence around juice, coffee and whole-food cleansing is limited. The purported benefits however, may have more to do with the capacity to induce behavior change than to re-orient physiological processes. In their review of habit formation and lifestyle behavior change, the British Journal of General Practice noted that lifestyle changes (which includes screen time by the way), requires the pairing of behavior change with external cues. A simple example would be using the toilet and then washing your hands. In my own practice, the removal of unhealthy foods paired with the sense of motivation of having completed “the cleanse” nearly always leads to an increased desire to exercise or honor the body in a physical way. Physicality reinforces the sense of success and the juice and or food detox not only felt successful, it was successful in realigning the set point for healthy choices.

We each need to define the lifestyle habit that most significantly interrupts our capacity for healthy decision making. For me, a naturopathic doctor running a start-up, it was indeed the technology that needed the boot. So while my beach-inspired tech cleanse lacks the objective metrics to redefine public health policy, it has already inspired our family to limit our engagement with email, social media and television when we are hanging out together. Control – Alt – Delete, true to its name, has served as a critical re-orientation of my focus on family, physical movement and my career. Look out juice cleanses, I think I’m onto something.

So I was really hoping to kick the year off with something incredibly motivational, but instead, I want to send along something more pressing, a flu protection protocol. My patients and my family are falling victim to a nasty stomach flu that is circulating throughout North America and the GTA in particular. It appears to be indiscriminate to those who have received or not received the flu shot and my advice is relevant to everyone.

For everyone, including kids, I am recommending the following.

Adults:

  1. Multi-strain probiotic (i.e more than just acidophilus). Take one with at least 25billion CFU
  1. Vitamin D – 2000i.u daily until spring. If you get sick, increase to 6000-8000i.u daily for up to 5 days.
  1. General immune support. I generally recommend Deep Immune (made by St. Francis Herb Farm). Follow the directions on the bottle. You can take this for up to 6 weeks.

Kids:

  1. Multi-strain probiotic (kid version). Take one with at least 10billion CFU
  1. Vitamin D – 400-500i.u daily. If they get sick, increase to 1000-2000i.u daily for up to 5 days.
  1. General immune support. I generally recommend Deep Immune for Kids  (made by St. Francis Herb Farm). Follow the directions on the bottle. You can take this for up to 6 weeks.

If you get sick, pick up a bottle of Saccharomyces boulardii. This is a probiotic designed specifically for loose bowel movements. It works really well. For kids, open a capsule and dip the tip of a banana in it or put on yogurt (but generally avoid dairy with digestive upset).

Everything should be available at a local health food store or via my online apothecary. (passphrase: inspiredwell)

Welcome to 2015! It can only get better from here.

Wishing you happiness and good health for 2015.

Need to shake up your morning smoothie routine? Me too. My personal smoothie rut is precisely why I joined forces with Bright Almond to get Naturopathic Students from across the country to share their favourite creations. You be the judge… tell me what you think in the comment section below.

Vegan Eggnog Smoothie – just in time for the holidays

Contributor: Laura Hughes ND (cand)

1 C almond or coconut milk

1/8 tsp vanilla extract or a scoop of vanilla protein powder

1 ripe banana, frozen

1/4 avocado

1/4-1/2 tsp cinnamon

1tbsp flax seeds

1/2 tbsp chia seeds

Blend and enjoy.

Dash or two of ground nutmeg for décor.

 

Protein-Berry-Blast Smoothie

Contributor: Mandy Milliquet ND (cand)

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

1 1/2 cups frozen berries (PC Organics Power Fruit Blend)

1/4 or a ripe avocado

1 tbsp flax seed (ground or whole, see note)

1 scoop Vanilla or Unflavoured Whey Protein Isolate (Kaizen, Precision or Progressive)

Handful of spinach

Blend all ingredients together and enjoy!

Note: if using a powerful blender such as a Vitamix or Blentec, can use whole flax seeds.  If using a magic bullet or regular blender, will likely need to grind the flax seeds before adding them to the mix.  Always store ground flax seeds in the freezer as the unsaturated fatty acids go rancid VERY quickly.

 

Hot Chocolate Chai Smoothie

Contributor: Kamala-Devi Sivasankaran ND (cand)

1 cup hot brewed chai tea (black or rooibos)

1 cup heated milk/milk alternative

2 tbsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground cinnamon

Pinch nutmeg or allspice

Small splash vanilla or almond extract

1 tbsp. almond butter (or two, if not adding protein powder)

1 scoop chocolate protein powder (I like Thorne’s Vegalite, it blends well)

(Optional) 1 tsp raw honey

Blend and enjoy!

Swish or stir a bit before drinking or you’ll get a big clump at the bottom.

 

Green Machine

Contributor: Maisam Hasan ND (cand)

2 cucumbers

1 apple

2 slices of pineapple

2 kale stems

Blend and enjoy. (Note, this makes a lot of smoothie… give some to your kids, it’s good for them). Add 2 Peppermint leaves to top it off.

 

Green Chai Latte

Contributor: Rupa Salwan ND (cand)

1 ½ cup almond milk

1 banana

2 cups spinach

1 celery rib

¼ cup parsley

1 large, pitted date

1 tbsp ground flax

1 inch ginger root

1 tbsp ground cinnamon

1 ½ tsp ground cardamom

1 tsp ground nutmeg

1 tsp ground allspice

1 tsp ground cloves

Blend all ingredients in a Vitamix blender and enjoy!

If you find the spices are too much, half the amounts for cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, allspice and cloves

 

Tangy & Tropical Smoothie Bowl

Contributor: Tiffany Cheung ND (cand)

1 banana (frozen or fresh)

1 mango

2 tangerines

1-2 golden kiwi

1/2-3/4 cup unsweetened coconut water

Blend till smooth or till desired consistency.

Toppings (optional): maca powder, hemp hearts, cacao nibs, chia seeds,

 

Rock Star Smoothie

Contributor: Amanda Satov ND (cand)

1/2 cup full fat coconut milk

1 cup wild blueberries

2 tbsp ground flax

2 tbsp hemp hearts

1 tbsp maca powder

1 tbsp matcha

1 tbsp raw cocoa powder

Filtered water as needed

Blend and enjoy.

 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Protein Smoothie

Contributor: Noah Litvak ND (cand)

This is a delicious, nutrient filled shake with lots of protein

400ml milk (almond, coconut or another favourite)

1/2 frozen banana

1 scoop chocolate protein powder

1 teaspoon cocoa

1 tablespoon natural peanut butter

1 tablespoon plain Greek yogurt

1 big handful of spinach

Pour half the “milk” in your blender, and then the rest of the ingredients. Pour the rest of the “milk” on top and blend until smooth. Enjoy!

*For a dairy free option, remove the Greek yogurt, and replace the milk with unsweetened almond milk and use a dairy free chocolate protein powder (I like chocolate vegan protein by genuine health)

 

Choco-Cherry Green Dream Smoothie

Contributor: Laura Von Hagen ND (cand)

Makes 1 large or two small smoothies

1 cup frozen cherries

1/2 medium very ripe avocado, frozen

1 cup organic baby spinach

1 tsp maca

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 scoop chocolate protein powder (I use Vega energizing smoothie)

1 tbsp raw cacao powder

1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk

3 ice cubes

Optional: add 1 scoop organic unsweetened Greek yogurt. For a caffeine boost, replace ice cubes with coffee ice cubes (brew 1/2 cup double strength then freeze coffee in ice cube tray) for a delicious and refreshing treat.

Blend all ingredients in high powder blender and enjoy!

 

Smooth and Simple Smoothie

Contributor: Ryan Lewis ND (cand)

1 cup mixed frozen berries

½ cup frozen mango pieces

1 tbsp ground flax

¾ cup almond milk

Water – as needed

Blend and Enjoy.

 

Ginger Pear Smoothie 

Contributor: Samina Mitha ND (cand)

1 banana

1 ripe pear

2-3 cups of water

3 tbsp coconut oil

2 tsp maca root powder

3 tbsp hemp seeds

2-3 tsp of fresh or ground ginger

This smoothie is well balanced with some healthy fat (coconut oil), protein (hemp seeds) and fiber (pear). The maca root gives the smoothie some added stamina you need to get through the morning! The pear provides a smooth texture and the ginger kicks it up a notch while providing some added warmth and immune support to help get you through the winter months.

 

 

On Tuesday I experienced one of the most profound medical appointments I have ever sat through. It was not with a fellow ND or MD, but it could easily have been. My appointment was with a medical geneticist, Dr. Mansoor Mohammed of Younique Genomics. Two weeks prior I submitted a blood sample to test 14 genetic markers. These markers were not for specific diseases, such as with the “breast cancer gene” (BRCA1,2), but rather, for functional genes, genes who’s blueprint lays out instructions to manufacture ingredients that support pathways related to detoxification, heart health, metabolism and the neurobiology of performance, anxiety and depression.

Many of you have heard me say that I will never run testing unless it changes the course of treatment. This test was a game changer for me in this way. In the category related to neurobiology, I showed markers associated with balanced stress management. In the cardiovascular category, an area for which I have a strong family history, my markers suggest optimal lipid metabolism and oxygen utilization in cardiac cells. While I did inherit one of 2 genes that predispose me to excessive weight gain, I learned that my metabolism favours cardiovascular exercise over lifting weights. The implications for those looking to lose weight, in this respect are profound. In the detoxification category however, I did receive a surprise, a big one. Two critical genes blueprint the manufacturing something called glutathione. Glutathione is an important antioxidant and a vital ingredient involved in the detoxification of innumerable toxins. While several backup pathways can produce small amounts, the glutathione produced via the two primary paths is responsible for removing the oxidative stress and chemicals implicated in aging and many cancers. In my case, I am missing the genetic information that codes for glutathione in not one, but both of these pathways.

The results of this test were a game changer for me. Today, I started supplementing glutathione as well as nutrients involved in the synthesis of glutathione. I have chosen to include substances that support adjacent pathways and it has allowed me to practice preventative medicine in its truest and most individualized capacity. It has provided me with insight, not only into my own health and risk factors, but potentially, my children as well.

I have been using aspects of genetic testing in my practice for some time, but this particular panel changes everything. Of all the information and resources I have had the opportunity to access, I feel that this one has the potential to help more people in a most profound way.

I have testing kits in my office. If you would like to learn more, please let me know.

I am off to drink a green smoothie, wishing you a fabulous week,

Dr.MegsSignature

 

I am hoping that the drop in temperature on the first day of October is just a coincidence. Until now, the sky, trees and temperatures have been making up for Mother’s Nature’s lackluster performance this summer.  Despite my optimism however, I know that cooler days are just around the corner. The change in temperature means that routines and physical requirements change as well. In many cultures, the change of season marks an important transition of the body from a warmer to cooler state. Foods correspondingly become warmer and the body begins to thrive with heartier offerings. It is interesting to observe that this time of year frequently correlates with an increased number of bookings from my vegan and raw clients. Uncooked foods are considered “cool” foods according to some healing traditions such as Traditional Chinese Medicine, and the digestive system tends to thrive when your food does not compound external conditions. With an increase in patient visits related to digestive health and back-to-work routines in full-swing, I thought I would use the transition to October, to point out some helpful changes that you may want to consider.

Change of Season Check-List

Include “warmer” foods. Cold, raw foods frequently cause increased bloating and discomfort this time of year. Soups, stews, stir-frys and steaming are great ways of warming vegetables prior to eating. (Microwaving is not an ideal option. There is increasing evidence that it destroys many of the important nutrients in your foods).

Start taking vitamin D3. Adults should be supplementing at least 1000i.u of liquid (or gelcap) vitamin D3 daily. You should be supplementing vitamin D from the time the leaves fall until they come out in the spring. You cannot get sufficient D3 from food or winter sunbathing. D3 is vitally important to support mood, immune health, bones and hormonal systems throughout your body.

Get some sleep. Not all the time, but in accordance with a good routine. The body thrives on routine. Set a series of pre-bed activities that you do every night. Even if you know you will be sleeping less or differently due to work or travel, keep your pre-bed routine the same. If you have trouble turning off your head, try (among other things) reading fiction before you go to sleep. Unless you are truly gifted at shutting off your head before bed, absolutely avoid ‘work’ related reading before you sleep.

Start on a multivitamin. There is much debate about whether you NEED a multivitamin. Studies that look at requirements for multivitamins are not looking a cold-dwelling Canadians and are not focused on markers of performance. I do not recommend a multi-vitamin to keep you from acquiring scurvy, your diet is more than capable of doing that. I am looking at the role that a high-potency multivitamin can play in optimizing your lifestyle performance. My interest in this respect is around providing you with an advantage when it comes to your physiology and performance related to mental focus, stress resilience and physical stamina. (More on this in the coming weeks).

For many, Fall is a time of renewed productivity, excitement and positive change. When you create a strong foundation, you can take on your world as a parent, creator, student and empire builder. Now go make it happen.

What do you add to your routine now that the days are getting cooler? I’d love to hear what you are up to. Share in the comment section below.