5 Apps that can Improve your health in Summer 2016

Apps are always changing and improving - so here are my favourite 5 for the summer of 2016 to help you optimize your wellness. Swing by in the Fall for another 5 to make taking care of yourself easy!

For the anxious and stressed:

Head Space - meditation made simple, quick and focused on areas of health that matter specifically to you. The app also includes a "guided recovery process" to help regroup from any “mini meltdown” experienced. I can't think of anyone who wouldn't benefit from this app - download it!

 

For overall health promotion:

Waterlogged- You're not drinking enough water? Keep hydrated this summer. To calculate your minimum water intake use the following equation.

Your weight in LBS  x 2/3  = oz of water to drink per day (divide by 8 to get the number of cups)

 

For decreasing chemical load:

Think Dirty- allows you to check the chemical toxicity level of any cosmetics, shampoos and other products by scanning their barcode - great to double check your sunscreen choice! Chemicals load has been shown to contribute to infertility, increased wrinkles, brain fog and fatigue along with other common ailments.

 

For better sleep:

Long Deep Breathing -  is a simple, no frills app that promotes the practice of deep breathing for better health and battling insomnia.

Using what’s essentially a breath gauge, you simply follow the visual cues for inhaling and exhaling. You can adjust the length of each breath and eventually increase the duration. According to the app, the average person breathes about 12-16 times each minute. By practicing and working that number down, you will reap the benefits and calm the mind. Good information about the benefits of breathing is also included in the app - this includes weight loss!

 

For the mommies-to-be:

What to Expect - an app that is a personalized daily tracker which allows parents to be to track development of their baby day-by-day and week-by-week based on their due date. This includes fruit size equivalents to add excitement even before being able to feel any kicks!

There is no Time to be Sick on your Holidays!

There is absolutely no time to be sick on a holiday! By taking the time to integrate these natural medical supports, you can decrease the potential of falling ill during your holidays and maximize the amount of relaxation, rejuvenation, and enjoyment in each and every day.

Reasons our health becomes unbalanced over the holidays are numerous, however a few of the most common would include:

  • The adrenaline crash after overextending yourself for a long period of time, leaving you vulnerable to developing colds
  • Exposure to foreign viruses or bacteria that trigger your immune system causing illness
  • Lack of sleep due to jet-lag
  • Possible injuries from adventurous activities 
  • Digestive and hormonal changes commonly affected by travel
  • Over consumption and indulgence in alcohol and rich foods

…the list could continue

Continue reading to see Dr. Kate’s staples for travelling.

Healthy Nutrition on the Road:

Coconut water (Zico ® Natural or Grace coconut water are my favourites): Helps to prevent dehydration and electrolyte loss in hot climates

Greens powder/protein powder: Handy for extra nutrition while travelling and in case you miss meals. Common for breakfasts-on-the-go if you are in organized tours.

Healthy convenient snacks:

  • Lara bars ®
  • Almonds, walnuts and small amount of dried fruit for added sugar for immediate energy
  • Fruit (with peels for sanitation)
  • Veggies in ziplocs

Travelling through time zones?

Beat the jet-lag with melatonin and magnesium before bed

Motion sickness holding you back from exploring?

Ginger chews – GinGins are easy to pack, come in several flavours and kids also love them!

Cold & Flu Prevention

·      Probiotics

·      Cold and Flu formulations – usually including a mixture of vitamins, minerals and herbs (to name a few, Zinc, Vitamin C, N-acetyl cysteine, Andrographis, and Echinacea)

Gastrointestinal health

Digestive enzymes: Take with meals to prevent digestive upset if tendency to have upset stomach when travelling

Probiotic – Take with meals to boost the immune system, prevent microbial invasion and aid in digestion. Ensure the product is heat stable for travelling convenience.

Chamomile and Peppermint tea – 1 tea bag of each steeped for 10 minutes covered and consumed 2-3 times per day should help promote a healthy bowel movement if constipated.

Triphala – an Aurevedic herb which helps to maintain consistent bowel movements and alleviate gas

An important note on diarrhea: if you experience food poisoning, there is a reason your body is experiencing diarrhea – it is trying to eliminate the bug from your system. Usually it passes within 24-48 hours. The most important consideration is keeping sufficiently hydrated and replacing electrolytes.

Heat Exhaustion – what to look out for….

  • moderately high core temperature (the temperature of the body's internal organs, best measured with a rectal thermometer) of up to 39°C (102°F)
  • cool, pale, clammy skin
  • muscle cramps
  • headache
  • nausea
  • fatigue and weakness
  • dizziness or lightheadedness
  • possible fainting, but can be revived
These are the signs leading up to Heat Stroke. Be sure to pay attention to them and prevent further development.

Homemade electrolyte replacement solution 

– also helpful in dehydration due to diarrhea - 

Ingredients:

  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • 1 Tbsp agave nectar (or maple syrup or honey)
  • Juice of a ½ lemon
  • 1L water
  • 1-3 tsp berry concentrate (to taste) (I like Proberry 3 ® liquid)

Directions:

  • Be sure the water is sterilized if questionable (boil for at least 15min)
  • Add the first four ingredients to the water and stir until dissolved.
  •  Add berry concentrate to taste.

Natural Bug Spray Alternatives

* not recommended to be used in places where there is high likelihood of mosquito-borne disease

  • Essential oils: lemon grass, cedar and citronella (mix in another oil - olive oil, etc)
  • Need to reapply every 30 min
  • NO DEET in kids younger than 3 years – generally best avoided (considered a neurotoxin, this age group has extremely rapid development of their neurological system)
  • NOTE: avoid floral shampoos

Kids on the Go!

Arnica (homeopathic and cream) : Shown to help decrease pain, swelling and recovery time from physical trauma.

*Remember to always RICE (rest, ice, compress and elevate) as a first step.

Pulsitilla (homeopathic) : Has been shown to help alleviate painful plugged ears on the plane.

* Remember distraction techniques, suckers (to promote the swallowing action to relieve pressure), and chamomile tea to help calm the nervous system during a stimulating flight can also be implemented to help children with altitude changes.

Before you leave…

1.     Leave your last day of work free – avoid using your last day of work to frantically try to finish a project which will spike your stress levels and make it more difficult to wind-down on your vacation

2.     3 week countdown – life can be so busy that we do not give ourselves time to get excited and anticipate a well deserved vacation. By taking this time to acknowledge vacation is approaching, you will exponentially appreciate your time off away from the daily grind

3.     Come home a day early – allow yourself a day to unpack, regroup and relax before readjusting to everyday life. Try to avoid setting yourself up to return to the same levels of stress which you left from.

 

 A few last notes:

* Everyone is an individual and depending on personal health history there may be other recommendations that would be more effective to alleviate certain travel-related conditions. Consulting with a naturopathic doctor for guidance is recommended and the knowledge gained can be used for many holidays to come!

*Destination of travel can also change the recommendations based on level of risk during travel

* These recommendations do not replace the need to have a basic first aid kit for when indicated. It is recommended to locate the nearest medical facility in case of an emergency and to seek medical advice if degree of illness is severe and debilitating.

By: Dr. Kate McLaird, ND

 

 

Indulge in a Healthy Halloween!

Whether you are at a staff meeting on october 31st, salivating over the table of cupcakes and orange popcorn your colleagues have brought to enjoy the festivities; or perhaps you are preparing your very own goblin for a night of trick or treating - both scenarios will result in an excessive amount of candy that you can enjoy at your leisure. 

What can we do to experience a healthy halloween that does not involve eating orange coloured carrots and mandarins as our celebration?

Read below for 8 ways to enjoy the holiday in a healthier way…it is possible believe it or not!

 

1)  Encourage your children to donate 1/2 of their treats to those who didn’t have the opportunity to trick or treat!

Explaining that there are children who are too unwell to be able to participate in all the fun and activities often inspires a sense of giving and charity to share their happiness. Allow your family to get acquainted with the local charities and services and your children will become passionate and excited to donate their treats to an organization of their choice. If kids are excited about what they are doing, their passion will be shared with all of their friends and more children will be inspired to do the same! 

Examples: Ronald McDonald House, Sick Kids...

2) Participate in the Trick or Eat Program!

This program is incredible for all ages and even more so for older kids who love the creativity of dressing up, but are not interested in collecting candy anymore. Trick or Eat is a youth-led national event where thousands of Trick or Eaters across Canada go door to door to collect food for local community organizations to actively show they want to make a difference on the issue of hunger.

Did you know that 1 in 8 Canadian households experience food insecurity, meaning that they don’t have sufficient access to the food they need to meet their dietary needs!? Inspiring children to contribute to a charity on a day that they are excessively receiving treats/food is humbling and a great experience to add to their Halloween memories. It is predominately organized through university and college campuses, but there is no reason why you cannot participate as a family or in high school!

For more information, check our their website at Trick or Eat

 

3) Enjoy treats only following a meal (excluding breakfast!) or in combination with a healthy food choice to balance blood sugar levels

When adults or children alike consume a sugary treat, a hormone called insulin is released in proportion to the amount of sugar consumed to ensure the calories are absorbed. After eating the treat, the body experiences a spike in blood sugar levels which is associated with a multitude of physiological changes, including hyperactivity and an inability to focus which may be a top concern at school or at work. This blood sugar high is followed by a blood sugar low caused by the hormone insulin triggering high levels of sugar to be absorbed into your cells and this is associated with inattentiveness, extreme fatigue, irritability, anger management issues, amongst others. 

By ensuring treats are consumed after a meal containing protein, the high’s and low’s of blood sugar with be dulled, as will the associated unfavourable symptoms. Furthermore, establishing an accepted understanding that with a treat, you also must have a healthy snack (containing protein) and a small glass of water, should it not be eaten after a full meal. Empowering children to understand types of food is integral for life long understanding of a balanced diet. If you an adult reading this article, it is never too late to learn!

 

4) Be a role model

Simply put, be as concerned with your personal health as your children’s health. Serve as a role model following your own guidelines you have instilled for your family and consume in moderation.

Dangers of eating too many sweets for both children as well as adults include:

   Raised insulin levels which can contribute to diabetes and heart disease

   Elevated LDL (unhealthy cholesterol) levels and lower HDL (healthy cholesterol) levels

   Severely fluctuates energy levels which is directly related to productivity

   Induces hyperactivity and impulsive behaviours

   Suppresses the immune system (which is the last thing the body needs during cold and flu season!)

 

5) Have fun with the Halloween Spirit in the kitchen

Enjoy the holiday by being creative in the kitchen and creating snacks with a halloween theme. Children would love to help you in the kitchen as well - teaching them how healthy food can be fun!

64 Non-Candy Halloween Snack Ideas can be found on my Pinterest

 

6) Avoid using sugary treats as rewards

It is easy to use treats as incentive to accomplish a set of tasks or complete a gruelling list at work; however, it is also very easy for this "treat" to become habit as the lists are steadily completed on a daily basis. Try developing a different reward system involving healthy self care activities, spending time with loved ones, relaxing with a movie or spending time outdoors.

As parents, although it is tempting to use treats as incentive to have chores completed, beds made, and homework completed, this can create an association with accomplishment and reward with sugary sweets and furthermore create an expectation that basic everyday tasks deserve a reward after completion. Of course positively reinforce your children with praise and love, perhaps a healthy activity (example going to the park), but try to refrain from using a treat.

 

7) Stash out of sight, out of mind

Can you relate when you pass a billboard with a Pizza Pizza advertisement showing steaming, cheesy delicious pizza and you automatically crave pizza for dinner? The same thing can happen with sugary sweets. If the bag of Halloween candy is visible, even if there isn’t a craving for a treat, the brain will start to associate the delicious flavour, happy moments when eating treats and induce a desire for a treat.

 

8) Gluten free and/or peanut/nut free and don’t know what treats are safe to enjoy?

These websites have very extensive lists to provide many options to choose from.

  Click here for a Peanut and Tree Nut Free list

Click here for a Gluten free list from CSA Celiacs and GlutenAway updated October 2015

 

Above all have an incredibly memorable,

happy, safe and health Halloween!

 

Yours in good health,

 

Dr. Kate McLaird, ND

Optimizing Pregnancy with the Mediterranean Diet and Fish Oil

So how important is nutrition during pregnancy? Some women take this time to eat whatever they desire….after all, they are eating for two people right?! Some find the endless nutrition recommendations anxiety provoking and feel like they need to track exactly what they consume for the next 9 months to optimize their baby’s health in 2015’s nutrient deficient culture. This article will highlight research supporting the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet (minus the red wine recommendation) and the importance of fish oil during pregnancy.

The Mediterranean diet has received a great deal of media attention over the past decade – and for good reason! Research has shown on several occasions that following the Mediterranean diet during pregnancy was protective for (or decreased the risk of developing) asthma and eczema (both increasingly prevalent conditions particularly in North America), not only during the first year of life, but also confirmed for lasting effects into the 6th year of life!

The Mediterranean diet includes (but is not limited to):

1.     Fish twice per week (minimum) (ensure it is a low risk fish for heavy metals)

2.     Use of olive oil (at least 2 tbsp daily- make your own salad dressing and you have it covered!)

3.     5 or more fruits/veg per day

4.     Red meat maximum twice per week

5.     No more than 2 small cups of coffee per day (varies based on individual)

6.     *No red wine recommended*

Recommendations vary depending on individual circumstances. A naturopathic doctor is trained to accommodate recommendations based on your health history and pregnancy progression.

Fish oil is a critical component of the resulting health benefits of the Mediterranean diet during pregnancy; moreover, the research has identified EPA and DHA ratio (ingredients of fish oil) to be the most revealing via supplementation.

Benefits proven in repeated studies show:

·      Superior performance on cognitive an neurological tests

·      Better hand-eye coordination

·      More advances problem solving performance

·      Better visual maturation associated with DHA status

·      Decreased risk of anaphylactic food allergy

·      Decreased incidence and severity of eczema

·      Decreased risk of developing asthma

·      More likely to have a balanced immune system

Additionally, fish oil has shown to have mood enhancing effects when provided with a higher EPA ratio. Considering it is a natural food derived supplement, this form of support would be highly recommended as a safe pro-active approach to women with a history of a mood disorder in decreasing their risk of developing post-partum depression.

There are many dietary specifics recommended for optimal nutrition during pregnancy which are not disqualified in the least in certain circumstances; however, to simplify into a single set of guidelines – the Mediterranean diet, with added fish oil supplementation (to ensure adequate intake) combined with emphasis on eating from whole foods, avoiding processed/pre-packaged foods and increasing protein and fruits/vegetable intake is a fantastic place to start.

By adopting these dietary habits, along with a naturopathic doctor’s medical advice regarding added nutritional supplementation catered to your specific pregnancy, you can decrease the risk of your baby developing certain health conditions and lay the foundation for a healthy future.

 

This article is not a prescription; it is solely provided for informative purposes and is not all-inclusive. Your Naturopathic Doctor will conduct tests as well as physical exams in order to provide you with an individualized prescription based on your specific needs which may include other recommendations not listed within the article above.

Back to School Nutrition

Can you believe it that it is that time of year again!? Your children are eager and excited to head back to the classroom for another school year. You’ve focused on backpacks, notebooks and pencils to make it the best year yet... but have you thought about how important healthy food choices can influence your child’s ability to maintain focus, their ability to learn and maximize their success?