Sleep

What is Emotional Eating and How to Stop It

Emotional Eating
Sometimes our emotions get the best of us; it happens, we’re only human. Though we each have our unique way of dealing with our feelings, as a dietitian, there’s a common strategy I see with many of my clients: reaching for food. If you find yourself eating when you’re sad, bored, or stressed, you’re not alone. Everyone engages in emotional eating at some point in their lives. We can’t expect ourselves to be perfect and never use food for comfort; however, regular emotional eating can become an issue. It often leads to overeating, and “comfort” foods also tend to be high in refined sugar, salt, and saturated fats. Too much unhealthy eating increases our risk of developing chronic health conditions like type 2 diabetes and heart disease. If you have a pre-existing condition, overeating for comfort can end up leading to the opposite result. For example, emotional eating can trigger symptoms if you have gut issues. This habit can also worsen hormonal problems such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) or premenstrual syndrome (PMS). For those who don’t have any health issues, emotional eating can still leave you feeling uncomfortably full and lethargic for the rest of your day. So, what’s an emotional being to do? Though we can’t expect ourselves to eat healthy 100 percent of the time, there are concrete strategies you can use to decrease how often your emotions lead you to eat. What Is Emotional Eating?  The first step to decreasing any kind of negative behaviour is to gain an understanding of it. Emotional eating is when you engage in eating in response to your emotions. Notice how broad this definition is; we’re not just talking about eating a tub of ice cream after a breakup. Emotional eating also includes grabbing a chocolate bar after a frustrating day at work, munching on a bag of chips because you’re bored, or digging into some cake after an argument with a friend. Whenever we let feelings dictate our eating decisions that’s emotional eating. It’s important to understand this definition because sometimes, we confuse emotional eating with physical hunger.  If you are experiencing physical hunger but don’t realize it, this can cause major problems. I have seen clients beat themselves up over their “emotional eating,” when really their body is simply trying to tell them it’s hungry. They interpret their high appetite and overeating as personal flaws and feel guilty. A lot of people respond to this guilt by getting extra strict with their diet; however, this just makes their hunger and cravings more intense, ultimately making them feel like they’re out of control around food. We can prevent this vicious cycle by recognizing and satisfying our physical hunger. Though you might think it would be obvious to you when you are physically hungry, there are a few factors that blur the line between physical hunger and emotional eating. If any of these factors are present in your life, spend some time working on them. You might notice that what you thought was an emotional eating problem goes away. Lack of Sleep  We all feel drowsy when we don’t get enough shut-eye, but did you know that your appetite is also affected? Lack of sleep causes an increase in the hormones cortisol and ghrelin. Cortisol is a stress hormone that affects our metabolism, and ghrelin stimulates our appetite. When these hormones are high, we feel hungrier and crave carb-dense foods like sweets and savoury treats.1 Do you reach for a pastry for breakfast when you have an early start to your day? Do you reach for chips in the evening when you’re feeling burnt out? It’s likely because you’re tired. Decreasing your cravings and overeating often boils down to getting enough sleep. At a minimum, adults need seven hours of quality sleep each night do what you can to make sleep a priority in your life! Undernourishment Your struggles with food might be caused by plain ol’ hunger. If you don’t eat enough, or you have imbalanced meals, this can cause your appetite and cravings to intensify. Many of us skip one or more meals throughout the day because we’re either too busy or we’re trying to lose weight. Regardless of the reason, if we’re not giving our body enough nourishment, it’s going to send us signals so it can get what it needs. These signals feel like ravenous carb cravings and feeling like a bottomless pit when we finally sit down to eat. We can prevent our bodies from getting to that state of desperation by feeding ourselves properly. I suggest eating within two to three hours of waking up, then eating every three to four hours after that. This will prevent you from going too long without eating and provides a game plan so you don’t mindlessly graze throughout the day. Also, make sure your meals are balanced and contain a source of carbs, fiber, protein, and unsaturated fats.  Prevention Strategies  Now that we’ve separated emotional eating from unsatis ...

5 ways to combat Burnout For a Healthier Body and Mind

Healthy Body and Mind
In our fast-paced, results-driven society, it’s no surprise that burnout is an increasing phenomenon for both adolescents and adults alike. There are rising demands placed on individuals to do well in their personal and professional lives. Burnout is a stage that we don't want to reach because it signifies that the body and mind have worked past their limits. It can be easy to put your health on the back burner and just hustle on, as the majority of us have been taught to do. However, burnout can have detrimental long-term effects, especially if it’s left unchecked. The good news is there are ways to help prevent burnout or help us heal from it quicker. 5 Burnout Remedies 1. Set Proper Boundaries In the COVID era, many people had transitioned to working from home wherever it was possible. This meant that separation between work and home was extremely difficult, not only in terms of physical space, but also as the time to commute to and from your destination had also disappeared. People had to train their brains from being "off" at home to being "on" in the blink of an eye.  As more people are returning to their physical workspaces, the separation between work and home has become easier. However, there are still challenges, as many people literally and figuratively “take work home” with them. This has been an easy thing to do with advancements in technology, as well as the systems put in place due to COVID. Consequentially, this increases the demands on your body and mind and creates a recipe for burnout. Periods of rest are required to enhance productivity during work hours. The following are some tips to decrease the risk of burnout for those returning to their physical workspaces: » Use the commute time to do something you enjoy (e.g., read, listen to podcasts/music). » Finish your work at work and leave unfinished tasks on a to-do list for the next workday. » Have strict beginning and end times. » Mute all notifications after work hours. If you are still working from home, have the following parameters set in place: » If possible, work in a space that is separate from where you sleep and where you eat. » Develop a morning routine before starting work. » Change into work clothes during work hours, and into life clothes after finishing work. » Have strict beginning and end times. » Stay disconnected after work hours and days. Boundaries in your personal life are also important. Learn to be okay with saying no to others and yes to yourself. Leave the time and space for proper restoration and things that bring you joy, instead of being driven by obligation. 2. Ask for Help Just because you can do it all, doesn't mean you should. Asking for help not only allows you to decrease your burden, but also allows you the space to only do what you do best. This can result in increased enjoyment and fulfilment, which are some of the best tools to combat burnout.  This applies to both your personal and professional life. Determine what it is that only you can do and what is solely your responsibility, and delegate the rest wherever possible. If you're the type of person who takes care of everyone first, teach others not to need you; do not take on what is not yours to carry. 3. Prioritize Sleep Sleep is one of the most underrated and underappreciated aspects of health; however, it is the most crucial in maintaining a healthy body and mind. Above all else, sleep should take priority. Aim for a minimum of seven to eight hours per night. Do not sacrifice sleep for exercise. If your to-do list is impacting the time you're able to get to bed, either learn to shorten your to-do list for the day, ask for help, or set better boundaries (see Tip 1). Help yourself get a good night's rest by staying away from electronics and artificial light sources in the evening, going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, and avoiding heavy meals or exercise too close to bedtime. 4. Ensure Nutrition Basics Are in Place  Your body and mind need fuel to meet the demands of your day, so don’t skip meals and make sure you're eating at least three solid meals a day. Keep up with your water intake too, and remember that coffee and caffeinated beverages do not count towards hydration. Ensure that your intake of macronutrients (i.e., carbohydrates, protein, and fats) is well-rounded, but if given the option of only one, focus on protein-dense foods to help balance blood sugar levels (e.g., nuts, seeds, chicken, and eggs). For busy individuals, meal prep is your best friend. Spend one day grocery shopping and cook meals for the week so that you have ready-to-go nutritious meals on hand. 5. Be Intentional About Joy  It is far too easy to just "let things happen." We schedule our appointments and we have work hours, but we don't often think about scheduling joy. When was the last time you did something just for you that was fun? How often are you doing thing ...

Biohacking To Enhance Your Child’s Academic Potential

Biohacking
Biohacking has become a popular topic since the early 2000s, referring to intentional changes in one’s diet, exercise, and environment to unlock the mind and body’s full potential. While typically associated with anti-aging and preserving cognitive function, biohacking can also optimize children's mental, physical, emotional, and cognitive performance in school. Epigenetics To understand how biohacking can improve academic performance, let's explore the concept of epigenetics. Identical twins may exhibit different abilities and performance in school due to epigenetic factors, despite being genetically identical. Epigenetics looks at how external factors like nutrition, exercise, and environment can alter our genetic expression, thus promoting change and potentially even preventing disease; it’s the study of these factors that can shape the way our bodies express themselves genetically, and how we can utilize these factors to harness our greatest potential. With that in mind, let’s delve into some of the things that we can do to optimize academic performance. Critical Nutrients When it comes to school-aged children (6-12 years of age),factors such as nutrition, physical activity, sleep, healthy stress, and environmental management have been found to significantly impact academic performance. While adequate nutritional intake is important at all ages, ensuring adequacy at a young age can have especially significant impacts on both short-term and lifelong academic and cognitive performance. Here are a few of the more critical nutrients to consider: Iron: Several recent studies out of the University of Toronto and SickKids Hospital have demonstrated that low levels of iron in the blood can predict poor cognitive development and performance; meanwhile, a TARGetKids study suggests that just over 10 percent of children up to the age of 6 are iron-deficient.1,2 Numerous studies have been conducted to determine whether iron supplementation can improve academic performance, and while not all studies agree, there does seem to be a trend showing that supplementation may improve attention, concentration, performance, and even IQ test scores.3 As dosages across these studies vary, it is imperative that you speak with a healthcare provider before starting any supplement. However, one of the safest ways to improve iron levels is to simply eat a well-rounded diet. Foods high in iron include meats, eggs, fish (e.g., mackerel and sardines), vegetables like spinach and sweet potatoes, fruits like strawberries and watermelon, beans, and even grains and certain breads. Zinc: This is another integral mineral for childhood development; it can impact height, immune system function, and even cognitive development. Intake needs increase with age, and several studies have shown that supplementation can improve multiple intelligence domains in children, including verbal comprehension/fluency and non-verbal skill capacity. Foods high in zinc include beef, lamb, oysters, pumpkin seeds, chickpeas, mushrooms, and spinach. Omega-3 fatty acids: Numerous studies have shown that dietary omega-3 fatty acid intake is associated with improved academic performance. A study of over 17,000 school-aged children found that those who consumed at least eight grams of fish per day performed significantly better in several academic areas, including mathematics and language.6 Supplementation may also be beneficial for attention, memory, and hyperactivity. Dietary omega-3 sources include fish, particularly SMASH (salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, and herring); as well as vegetarian sources, including seeds (chia, flax, hemp, and pumpkin), nuts (walnuts, almonds), beans, spinach, and more. Other Considerations Aside from these commonly studied nutrients, the impact of heavy metals, toxins, and other environmental factors on academic performance is also worth considering. The Environmental Working Group's (EWG) "Clean 15" and "Dirty Dozen" lists can help identify the cleanest and most contaminated foods.8 Heavy metal poisoning has been associated with cognitive decline in adults and reduced IQ scores in children.9 In short, these guides can help you determine which common foods are the “cleanest” and which need serious consideration or avoidance. Aside from achieving optimal nutrition, which is the cornerstone of biohacking for all ages, several other important factors can impact the social, emotional, cognitive, academic, and physical development of children. Physical activity: Daily physical activity may have the capacity to not only aid physical development, but also concentration, cognition, and academic performance. In a recent study that spanned nine years, researchers found that school-aged children who engaged in daily exercise achieved an average of 13.3 grade points higher than those who engaged in physical activity only twice a week.10 They also found that those who engaged in daily exercise were ...

A Herb for Calm: Lavender

Lavender Herb
Lavendula angustifolia is a scent that most of us can recognize perhaps you’ve had the good fortune of visiting a field full of lavender to experience it. At one time, lavender was a natural, wild-crafted crop that could easily be cut and harvested in the hills of the Mediterranean. Over time, it was domesticated and has gradually become one of the major ingredients in the manufacture of perfume and scented cosmetics. The highest-quality essential oil is derived from steam-distilling fresh lavender flowers. The amount of volatile oil found in lavender is often very small; it makes up only 0.005–10 percent of a single plant. To obtain 454 ml (1 lb) of this essential oil, you need 150 lbs of lavender. Knowing this, we might wish to consider using essential oils sparingly, as large quantities of land and plant life are required to produce even small amounts of essential oils. Plant Description  Lavendula angustifolia (English Lavender) is a perennial plant native to Eastern Europe, northern Africa, and the Mediterranean. There are many genotypes, but English Lavender is most commonly grown and used. It has narrow, grey-green leaves and a long spike with purple flowers that attract pollinators. The flowers are covered in star-shaped hairs. The name Lavendula originates from the Latin lavare, meaning washing or bathing; the herb was venerated for its cleansing and purifying properties. The Romans used lavender to perfume their baths, and for centuries it has been infused into laundry water in Europe. The Virgin Mary is reputed to have been especially fond of lavender because it protected clothes from insects and preserved chastity.  Pedanius Dioscorides - a Greek physician, pharmacologist, and botanist posited that the fragrance of lavender surpassed all other perfumes. Herbalists in 16th-century Europe Herbal Profile Lavendula angustifolia (formerly Lavendula officinalis)  Common Name: Lavender, lavendula, lavandin Family: Lamiaceae, mint family Parts Used: Aerial parts—flowers, flower buds, leaves. Collect fully-opened flowers and leaves, usually between June and August. They should be gently dried at a temperature not exceeding 40°C.  Taste: Cool, aromatic, dry Energy: Cool, relaxant ACTIVE CONSTITUENTS: Lavender has over 100 constituents, including: Tannins, 0.5–¹ /5% volatile oil, coumarins (including coumarin, umbelliferon and herniarin), flavonoids (such as luteolin), 0.7% ursolic acid (found in the leaves)³  The essential oil contains: Linalyl acetate, geraniol, cineole, limonene and sesquiterpenes4 , linalool (which has the distinct smell of lavender)  Herbal actions: Nervous antidepressant, anxiolytic, and relaxant; digestive anti-inflammatory, carminative, antacid, and anti-emetic; integumentary anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and cicatrizant SYSTEM TROPISM: Nervous System: Nerves, muscles, neurovascular system  Digestive System: Stomach, intestines, liver Integumentary System Did you know? One of Ontario's loveliest jars of honey comes from a small organic farm in Prince Edward County that grows organic lavender and keeps honeybees. 24 the whole family | Look Inward Early Summer 2023 recognized lavender’s medicinal virtues, and the Italian herbalist, Mattiolus, observed that “it is much used in maladies and those disorders of the brain due to coldness such as epilepsy, apoplexy, spasms and paralysis; it comforts the stomach and is a great help in obstructions of the liver and spleen. Medicinal Properties & Indications  Nervous System  Lavender is a wonderfully uplifting and calming herb. It can lighten the mind, helping us to move through emotional blocks that may present as anxiety, emotional instability, and depression. Herbalist David Winston describes using it for stagnant depression, a situational depression often associated with emotional trauma, where one seems to be “stuck” on an event replaying over and over in their mind. Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the unrelenting grief of becoming fixated on a traumatic event or tragedy (e.g., loss of a child, parent, spouse, pet, or job) fall into this category. Lavender may remedy physical symptoms as well, such as tension, headaches, migraines, trembling, and insomnia. Lavender in the bath, either the herb itself or a few drops of essential oil, can ease a restless child or adult to sleep. It works especially well when combined with Epsom salts. Sleeping with a lavender pillow is an age-old remedy to induce a restful night as well (see recipe at the end of this article). When used for aromatherapy, the essential oil of lavender was found to benefit sleep in studies done in elder care facilities. The residents fell asleep with greater ease and had improved sleep quality. This purple herb may also be used as a strengthening tonic for the nervous system to treat those suffering from nervous debility and exhaustion. Indications: » Anxiety  » Depression&nb ...

Slippery Elm: Healer or Hype?

Slippery Elm
If you’ve ever looked for a natural treatment for heartburn, sore throat, or constipation, you may have come across slippery elm. This large elm tree often flies under the radar, but its inner bark has a slippery mucilage, meaning it contains a polysaccharide that becomes a useful gel when mixed with water. It can be added to teas, supplements, and medicines to soothe skin and mucosal membranes and help facilitate movement in the digestive tract. Mucous membranes exist throughout our bodies. They are the lining of the respiratory cavities (e.g., nose, mouth, and throat), and digestive and urogenital tracts. These membranes can become inflamed after spicy meals or when you’ve picked up the latest daycare virus. With inflamed mucosal linings, you may experience symptoms like heartburn, indigestion, a sore throat, and congestion. Soothing these concerns is often a target for natural treatments like slippery elm. Psoriasis A collection of case studies using nutritional modifications and slippery elm in patients struggling with psoriasis found that all subjects saw improvement in their symptom ranking over a six-month trial, as well as a reduction in markers for intestinal permeability. Many of the studies that mention slippery elm are small and outdated at this point, but new studies are assessing its benefits in digestion and cholesterol, and the results are exciting! Digestion: Constipation  Stress is a significant issue seen in healthcare today that can impact the health of your digestion. One condition often associated with stress is irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). People struggling with this can experience abdominal symptoms like bloating, gas and discomfort, as well as changes in bowel movements (e.g., constipation, diarrhea, or both). Because of its connection to stress and brain function, healthcare providers lean on psychotherapy to address these concerns. Cognitive behavioural therapy, relaxation therapy, and hypnosis may all be worthwhile investments if you are struggling with IBS. Natural options, like slippery elm, may also work.  The fibre content in slippery elm is a bulk-forming laxative which may help with constipation. In patients with constipation-type IBS, the slippery elm formulation was found to significantly improve bowel habits and reduce other side effects. Another small study associated slippery elm with improved digestive symptoms, including indigestion, heartburn, nausea, constipation, abdominal pain, and flatulence. On closer inspection, the stool of participants also showed improvements in healthy bacterial populations and reduced markers for leaky gut. “Because slippery elm contains insoluble fibre, it has become a natural consideration for the treatment of high cholesterol.” The same soothing effect slippery elm provides for people struggling with IBS can also be used to treat heartburn and sore throats. This demulcent coats the throat, easing irritation and coughing symptoms. Some older anecdotal evidence suggests that slippery elm has the ability to soothe inflammation and swelling, improve mucosal irritation, and ease laryngitis and acid reflux—but more investigation is required to understand the mechanism of action and effectiveness. Cholesterol High cholesterol (hypercholesterolemia) is a very common issue in Canada, with 28 percent of people aged 18–79 fulfilling the criteria for diagnosis. While lifestyle changes are helpful recommendations in the management of high cholesterol, many people require medication therapy to bring cholesterol into the normal range and reduce the risk for heart disease.  The first line of treatment is a drug family called statins. As with any medication, statins are not without side effects that may impact results. Because slippery elm contains insoluble fibre, it has become a natural consideration for the treatment of high cholesterol.  A recent randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial demonstrated that patients with untreated high low-density lipoprotein (LDL) who received 500 mg of Ulmus macrocarpa Hance (large-fruited elm) daily for 12 weeks showed a greater decrease in LDL and total cholesterol in comparison to the placebo group. In addition, none of the participants reported any notable adverse events. Having an effective treatment option for managing a prevalent health concern like hypercholesterolemia—without side effects—is very exciting! How To Use Slippery Elm  Slippery elm comes in convenient capsules and teas, but you can also add the powder form to a smoothie or try making your own soothing lozenges. Regardless of the form, always take doses a couple of hours apart. Lozenges Ingredients » ½ c slippery elm powder  » 6 Tbsp honey Instructions Combine the slippery elm powder in a bowl with your favourite honey and mix well.  Roll the mixture into small balls using your hands (use about ½ tsp for each ball).  Roll each ball in a little extra ...

When Bedtime is a Nightmare: How to Create A Peaceful Sleep Routine?

Peaceful Sleep Routine
If this title caught your attention, let me  start  by saying: “you got this.” Tricky bedtime phases are common, and you’re not alone. They can feel looming as that time approaches and leave you fried at the end of your day. But they can get better; you and your little one can end your day peacefully. Work with your child(ren) as a team. Let them know you want bedtime to be one of the nicest parts of the day and allow them to understand the changes you would like to make so they can look forward to it. Push the “reset button” together and become their coach, rather than their opponent. No matter what age we are, most of us live in a state of go-go-go. We are mentally and physically in motion, and this can create a state of stress throughout the day—even if it is just busyness. Then, we lie down in our beds, close our eyes, and expect our bodies to sleep. Without a proper transition from this busy, alert state, it can be difficult for the body to initiate sleep. The same is true for kids. When this happens, their little bodies may be experiencing overtiredness, a wired feeling, or ruminating thoughts. This can present behaviourally as hyperactivity, tears, anger, chattiness, and resistance. In this article, I’ll give my recommendations to create a peaceful pre-sleep routine that will help tell the body and mind that sleep is coming. “Too Early Or Too Late Can Make It Difficult to Fall Asleep. One Way to Tell Is By Watching For Signs Of Sleepiness During the Routine, Such As Yawning And Becoming relaxed.” So, why have a routine? Kids thrive on routines because it helps them to know what is coming next; most of the time, they’re not in control of things like that or aware of time. Cognitively, a routine will cue them that they are approaching the “time for sleep.” Aspects of the routine can also cue the nervous system that it’s time to switch from our sympathetic fight or flight state to our parasympathetic rest and digest state. A Smoother Bedtime Timing - Assess if your child’s sleep routine duration and bedtime are age-appropriate and right for them. A routine that starts too early or late can make falling asleep difficult. One way to tell is by watching for signs of sleepiness during the routine, such as yawning and becoming relaxed. We all have a natural window of time when our body is ready to initiate sleep. If we stay up past this window, we are likely to experience a period of hyperactivity—the same goes for our little ones. Getting the timing right can significantly impact your child’s ability to fall asleep peacefully. Cue the Senses - When designing the pre-sleep routine, try to incorporate aspects that involve many senses, such as: » Touch - Soft cozy clothing and bedding, cuddles, and back rubs » Smell - Lotions or diffusers with essential oils that calm us, like lavender or chamomile » Sight - Low, soft lighting, such as lamps rather than over- head lighting » Sound - Soft music or singing the same sleepy song, read- ing in a quiet voice, or using white noise » Connection - The ultimate sense. It’s imperative for a child to feel a sense of connection before sleep. This allows them to feel safe, lay their worries down, and fall asleep in their most restful state. All children deserve love, especially as the last thing they hear and feel before sleep. Take this time to fill their buckets right to the top by letting them know you see them, love them, and are grateful for them. Power-Down - Although a little screen time in the evening can seem like it’s slowing our kids down or helping them re- lax, the light from screens (e.g., TVs, tablets, computers, or smartphones) can contribute to difficulty with falling or stay- ing asleep. The light from these devices is an issue for sleep in two ways. Light input suppresses our brain’s release of melatonin, a hormone involved in maintaining our sleep-wake cycle. Blue light suppresses melatonin for longer than other types of light and shifts our brain activity towards a very alert and busy state. This effect lasts long after the device has been turned off and disrupts the quality of sleep that follows. Try to limit screen time overall and schedule it for earlier in the day. Stay Cool - A cooler room triggers the brain to release melatonin and initiate sleep easier. We don’t want our little ones chilly, especially if they don’t tend to stay under their blankets; the ideal temperature for a room is around 20–21°C. Assess pajamas and bedding as well to make sure your little ones are comfortable at a cool but cozy temperature, and ready to drift off calmly. Food as Medicine - Refined sugar must be taken into account with your kid’s nutritional considerations during the day, but especially in the evening. Most children in Canada are consuming as much as five times the ideal limit for refined sugar (which needs to be less than 25 g per day). When the intake of refined added sugar is high, ...

Xymogen’s 5-HTP CR (Controlled Release) – Healthy Serotonin Levels and More Restful Sleep

Xymogen’s 5-HTP CR
Available in a 60 Tablet formulation  Supports the normal biosynthesis of serotonin  Supports a normal and regulated appetite Supports a more restful and healthy sleeping pattern Supports a normal, healthy mood  Xymogen’s 5-HTP CR is a formulation of 5-hydroxytryptophan in a controlled release tablet. 5-HTP is well known as a precursor to production of serotonin. Within the body, the amino acid tryptophan converts to 5-HTP and subsequently to serotonin to elevate extracellular serum levels. Supplementing with 5-HTP or tryptophan bypasses the limited amount of conversion that occurs from dietary amounts of the amino acid being converted to 5-HTP.  Dosage and Recommended Use of 5-HTP (CR) Dosage may depend upon the use in mind for supplemental 5-HTP. Doses of 150 mg are commonly used/studied in trials to help regulate hormone levels and sleep patterns, while a high dose 300 mg is often used to regulate appetite or control weight.  We generally always recommend only using one tablet (100 mg) two times per day (taken with a meal) unless monitored by a healthcare professional, naturopath, or physician.  Given the ability of 5-HTP to impact serotonin levels and regulate brain activities, it is important for those that are on any prescription drugs for mood disorders (depression, BPD, etc.) or other psychiatric disorders completely avoid use unless cleared by a professional. 5-HTP is not for use by children or those under 18 years of age. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should also avoid the use of 5-HTP.  Each tablet contains 100 mg of 5-HTP and 27 mg of calcium (dicalcium phosphate dihydrate). This product does not contain any wheat, gluten, animal products, dairy products, fish, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, or artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives.  5-HTP CR for Regulating Mood, Hormone Levels, and Sleep Xymogen’s formulation of 5-HTP releases it slowly and steadily over a more prolonged period of time compared to traditional 5-HTP supplements that may cause a ‘peak’ and ‘valley’ rise + fall in serotonin levels. This 5-HTP is a completely prescription drug free product, derived from the amino acid content contained in a plant.  This 5-HTP will naturally increase the levels of serotonin within the body, which play a vital role in emotional regulation, mood, behavior, sleep, and appetite.  5-HTP has been demonstrated to effectively cross the BBB (blood-brain barrier) and displays efficacy when orally ingested without being degraded by the enzymes that degrade tryptophan.  Serotonin production is important for regulating norepinephrine and dopamine levels, and plays a role in normal mood and behavior. Normal levels of serotonin are commonly associated with being calmer and more relaxed.  Published scientific studies support a dosage of 100 mg – 600 mg per day for supporting healthy hormone levels, mood, and restful sleep.  Given that serotonin can also be converted to melatonin (sleepy after that turkey dinner – this is why) to help support longer REM sleep and a more peaceful sleep.

Xymogen’s Melatonin – Increase Quality Sleep Time Naturally and Reduce Daytime Fatigue

Can help to increase total overall sleep time, which is an important aspect of sleep quality and ensuring you feel well-rested Can help relieve the fatigue associated with shift work (night shifts) or jet lag Can help to reset the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle as part of one’s circadian rhythm Can help to reduce the overall time it takes to fall asleep – in those with sleep disturbances or sleep disorders  Dosage and Directions for Use Serving Size: 3 mg per lozenge.  Available in 60 lozenge size.  We would always recommend consulting with a healthcare practitioner, naturopath or healthcare professional for use extending beyond 4 weeks.  The recommended dosage is 1-2 lozenges per day, once a day, at bedtime or directly before bedtime.  If taking any sort of hormonal medication, mood disorder medication, or blood pressure medication, you need to consult a healthcare professional prior to use. Those with a seizure disorder, kidney disease, liver disease, hormonal disorder, diabetes, depression, or hypertension might be contraindicated for use of melatonin.  Under no circumstances should you drive or use any sort of machinery/operative tools ~5 hours after taking melatonin.  If you continue to experience any sort of sleep disturbances for more than 4 weeks (insomnia), you should also consult a health care professional.  Xymogen’s Melatonin to Regulate Sleep Quality and Improve Restfulness Xymogen’s melatonin is a synthetic formulation to ensure those that are vegan or vegetarian can take the product without worry of it being mammalian derived. Many people may not be aware that there are a number of melatonin supplements commonly derived from the pineal gland of animals (often ‘porcine’ or pig).  Many people with negative experiences related to melatonin often experience these sides because of the production quality of melatonin itself – given that melatonin is a hormone, it must be USP pharmaceutical grade and manufactured at the highest quality standards. This is something you can be assured of when purchasing Xymogen products.  Xymogen’s melatonin is a patented synthetic form that follows the same chemical pathway as natural melatonin that is also pharmaceutical grade and completely free of biological contaminants. Naturally sourced melatonin derived from animals will always pose a risk because it can be contaminated with biological impurities.  As the pineal gland is quite sensitive, and melatonin is utilized by the pineal gland for producing serotonin, triggering such as gland that controls the sleep/wake cycle, ensuring a high-quality melatonin supplement is vital.  Melatonin is not the kind of supplement you’d want to skimp or save on.  What about melatonin itself, as a compound? What are the benefits from supplementation? Melatonin is naturally produced in our pineal gland, but also in the gastrointestinal tract and lymphocytes. It is present in other parts of mammalian tissue. It plays a key role in helping to regulate circadian rhythm and sleeping/waking. It also supports hormone production (serotonin) and antioxidant activity.  Normal melatonin production is suppressed by light and stimulated by periods of dark. Supplemental melatonin can help to support sleep patterns in certain populations like those with irregular work hours, those travelling, or elderly populations with reduced natural melatonin production.  Melatonin has also been studied for its role in supporting antioxidant activity, with concentration in the mitochondria. Thus, it has been proven to support glutathione production, and stimulate production of superoxide dismutase – scavenging free radicals and reducing inflammation from pro-inflammatory cytokines.  Doses of higher than 5 mg do not appear to display any benefit, and we would recommend sticking with the prescribed dosage of 3 mg per day at bedtime. 

How to Improve Your Sleep Quality

Improve Your Sleep Quality
Sleep is often left on the back burner. But when you improve your sleep quality, your health will benefit tremendously. If you knew all the benefits of sleep, prioritizing your bedtime would be a no-brainer! Though there are supplements that will help you fall asleep or stay asleep longer, getting 7-8 hours of quality sleep each night will be more beneficial than any supplement. Actively working on improving your sleep quality will do wonders for every aspect of your life – energy, stress, hormones, hunger, brain health – you name it.  Why is Sleep Important?  Without enough sleep, cortisol, the stress hormone rises. There is also an association between decreased sleep duration and increased risk of obesity. In fact, short sleep duration may be a predictor of weight gain, as well as insulin resistance, diabetes and heart disease. Sleep is needed for your body to fast and “reset” your metabolism depending on changing environmental factors. For example, a lack of adequate sleep will decrease leptin and increase ghrelin hormone levels,which makes you hungrier the next day – have you ever noticed how hungry and less satiated you feel the day after a rough night of sleep? Not to mention, insulin response is shown to be decreased by 30% after just 6 nights of sleep restriction! Needless to say, aiming for better sleep should be at the top of everyone’s priorities. Tips for better sleep Control your Blue Light Exposure  Your body needs blue light to keep your circadian rhythm in check. Blue light from sunlight tells your body it’s time to wake up. We have sensors in our skin cells that can sense this light exposure.   Too much blue light exposure from screens at night can send signals to your body that it is not time for bed yet because it mimics natural sunlight. Thus, it is important to prioritize increasing blue light exposure in the morning and reducing it at night.  When you wake up, get outside or sit in front of a large window for 15 minutes. At night, consider using candlelight or salt lamps instead of bright white lights. You can also use blue light blocker glasses if you cannot get away from your screens! Protect your Sleep Environment  Your sleep environment can make or break your sleeping quality. The best environment is one that is completely dark, somewhat cold (18-19℃) and has no disturbing noises.  Take a moment to think of your bedroom – is there anything you can improve? Perhaps you need to lower the thermostat at night, invest in blackout blinds, remove electronics from the bedroom or even use earplugs for a noise-free night. Whatever it may be for you, every small change can make a significant impact in your sleep quality.  Supplements to Improve Sleep Quality Magnesium  Magnesium is a critical mineral needed for sleep. Due to today’s poor soil quality, it is very difficult to get enough magnesium from food sources alone. Even in developed countries, almost 50% of the population are not consuming the required amount. Magnesium supports deep sleep by maintaining healthy levels of GABA, a neurotransmitter that promotes sleep and calmness. Do you have a difficult time staying asleep? People with low magnesium levels often wake up frequently during the night. To help you stay asleep at night, we suggest a magnesium supplement in its bioavailable form. Magnesium bisglycinate is one of the most effective and absorbable options! Melatonin  Melatonin is a well-known sleep hormone that your brain produces in response to darkness. It acts on receptors in your body to prepare for sleep. Melatonin is naturally produced when the sun sets and as you wind down for bed. However, in today’s society, not everyone follows a 9-to-5 work schedule. Taking melatonin supplements can help the body adapt to new sleep schedules, jet lag and night shifts. To help you fall asleep faster, we suggest a melatonin spray that will be absorbed quickly. Spray it 30 minutes before bedtime for optimal results! Author  Grace Tien is a dietetics and holistic nutrition grad. She creates sustainable, delicious meal plans to help clients with their health goals. Grace specializes in nutrition for healthy periods, you can find out more at @gracetien.ca on Instagram.

Covid Curves: 6 Tips to Jump Start Spring

Over the past several months most of us have experienced a “Home Life” comparable to Groundhog Day.  In the beginning of CoVID, you may have felt the desire to kick-start a new healthy eating plan, or tackle those in home workouts with a vengeance.  However, as time has waged on, the motivation may have started to dissipate and your daily exercise consists of a multitude of trips to the fridge to check if the light is still working (FYI: It is.) Then throw in fashion consisting of daytime and nighttime stretchy pants with no buttons or zippers, and it is safe to say most of us are experiencing a CoVID 15lb weight gain. But it’s not all our fault. When we are faced with a stressful situation our bodies release the hormone called cortisol. This reaction causes our blood sugar levels to rise resulting in a craving for foods high in fat, sugar and salt in order to replenish the glucose. Yet now as we prepare to go back out into our “New Normal” we are finding our skinny jeans are not so skinny anymore; our shorts from last year must have shrunk and with little chance of a new wardrobe on the horizon, weight loss is something we may need to seriously consider for our healthiest selves. However, we know diets do not work, restriction leads to binging, and truthfully finding balance in an unbalanced world seems impossible. So what can we do right now that will get those buttons done up and bring some consistency back into our days?   Here are 6 Weight Loss Tips you can start implementing today to deal with the COVID 15lbs.  Tip #1: Make a Plan:We technically all know what we should be doing, drinking those 8-10 glasses of water a day, choosing lean protein, whole grains, healthy fats, high fibre, and nutrient dense foods. Start reading the ingredient profiles of the foods you buy, aim for food lower in sugar and refined carbs. Making choices that support your goals is essential. However, when faced with the plethora of tasty treats, we can often forget our commitment to removing the new curves we have adopted. So the next time you make a trip to the grocery store, be prepared and take a list. On that list write your health and wellness goals on the top and plan out your meals for the next couple days. Then if you hear the box of cookies calling your name you can remember your “Why.” And maybe instead of buying a box of 24 deluxe chocolate chip cookies, head to the bakery section and settle on one or two. Even better, pick yourself up an antioxidant rich, dark chocolate bar. As you cruise the store stay on the perimeter and avoid the inner aisle that mostly consists of packaged, processed foods. Remember, a healthy immune system relies on both the Macro (protein, fats and carbs) and Micro (vitamins and minerals) but we must make sure we choose the right kinds.   Tip #2: Am I Really Hungry?How many times have you caught yourself elbow deep in a bag of chips or pint of ice cream only to realize that you can’t remember when you started. Often when we find ourselves mindlessly eating it is important to stop and ask  “Am I REALLY hungry? Or am I bored, lonely, upset?” Finding comfort in food is common and refereed to as emotional eating. Given the current state of the unknown, food can easily become our comfort and friend. The best way to start connecting to your hunger cues is to start being mindful of when you are eating, why you are eating, and how your food tastes. Take the time to savour your food and enjoy each bite.  There is no prize for she/he who finishes first.  Another way to bring mindfulness to your hunger cues is first thing in the morning. If your morning schedule is to eat first thing, hold back a bit and wait until you feel a little hungry. Then enjoy your first meal.  The purpose behind this is to set the tone of the day by honouring what you need. Start the day by tuning in to what your body needs and then responding to it.  As the day progresses continue to pay attention if you are hungry or looking for comfort. This is not about restriction but about connecting.    Tip #3: Use Your Hands:Now, we all know our parents have told us to use our utensils when we eat so this concept may throw you off but one issue I have seen time and time again is portion control. And with serving sizes becoming increasingly larger it is no wonder our waistbands are following.  Make a point of serving your food on plates and dishes; stop snackin ...