Stress

Your Inner Child: Rediscovering the Magic of Play

Rediscovering the Inner Child
“Keep in mind that art and play need not be perfect. It can be simple and messy, like playing in sand or finger painting . . .” In the hustle and bustle of adult life where responsibilities, deadlines, and routines dominate our days, the concept of play and imagination might seem like a distant childhood memory. However, as we journey through the complexities of adulthood, it’s crucial to recognize the importance of practicing play and using your imagination even past the age of childhood. It’s not just child’s play; it’s a powerful tool for enhancing overall wellness. “Act Your Age!” Why do most people believe adulthood means giving up things that brought us joy as a child? We’ve been conditioned to associate adulthood with work and responsibilities, leaving “no time to waste” on “childish” things like play, art, and activities that are fun. Do you ever feel guilty for doing something fun for yourself, or shameful for “acting like a child” when you’re expected to be an “adult?” Maybe the phrase “act your age” comes to mind. Why can’t we go on swings or run around the playground, fingerpaint, or buy ourselves a squishmallow, rather than pretending we’re buying it for our kids? With all the complexities of life swirling around us, it’s important no, prudent to slow down and listen to the little voice inside of us silently screaming for us to acknowledge it. That voice is known as our inner child. Social Bonding  The adult in you may be questioning this concept of an inner child (which is your outer adult talking, by the way), and I can understand your skepticism. So, let’s discuss the facts. How does play improve health and wellness? It reduces stress; play triggers the release of endorphins, your body’s natural stress relievers, and helps reduce cortisol levels and promote relaxation. Playing also encourages creative thinking and problem-solving skills.  It can help you approach challenges with a fresh perspective and build mental resilience by encouraging adaptability. Adult “playdates” (like meeting friends at a park or art class) are great for engaging your creativity and connecting with others just like kid playdates. Sharing playful moments with others can strengthen social bonds and create memorable experiences. Engaging in play activates and grows your imagination another important benefit. Imagination is the canvas upon which we paint our dreams and aspirations. Encouraging adults to cultivate their imagination can lead to benefits such as: » evoking innovation  » engaging critical-thinking skills  » improving mood and reducing anxiety  » encouraging self-reflection and self-discovery  » enhancing communication skills  » aiding in expressing thoughts and ideas more effectively Imagination is one of our greatest gifts, yet we forget to use it as abundantly as we once did as kids just like having that imaginary friend who faded from memory as we grew up. Accessing Your Inner Child So, how do we bring back play into our adult lives? First, we need to make time for it. Set aside time for play, making it just as important as work and family commitments. This could be as simple as dedicating an hour each week to engage in creative activities or hobbies. Next, uncover what brings you joy by revisiting the things you loved as a kid, whether it’s painting, playing an instrument, or even building with LEGO. If you need help remembering your childhood likes, talk to family, look back at pictures, or walk through a toy store and see what makes you smile. Playtime can be solo or with companions; make it a sociable event by engaging in group activities, joining clubs, or participating in team sports to combine play with social interaction. You can also have a meditative time to reconnect with yourself and your inner child. This solo play can be a practice in mindfulness and a gateway to fostering imagination and creative thinking. Still at a loss for ways to begin creative play? Do what first comes to mind. It could be as simple as running down a hill, swinging at the park, or making snow angels in a field. If you need some guidance to activate your imagination, try learning a new art skill through video or alongside a friend. Keep in mind that art and play need not be perfect. It can be simple and messy, like playing in sand or finger painting art for the sake of art and just doing something “mindless” for the fun of it. Art and play shouldn’t be a chore or another thing that you need to do; it should be fun, carefree, and just an act of pure joy. As adults, we often underestimate the power of play and imagination. Yet, these fundamental aspects of human experience should not be reserved solely for children. By incorporating play and nurturing our imagination, we can lead more fulfilling, creative, and joyful lives. So let’s remember the magic from our childhood and make space for it, for our o ...

Complementary Treatments For Asthma Through Vitamins, Minerals and Acupuncture

Asthma Treatment
Asthma is a lower-respiratory disease that cause breathlessness, chest tightness, and wheezing and coughing that can develop in both children and adults. It is due to an inflammatory swelling of the airways and overproduction of mucus, causing narrowing and restriction. While there are helpful “rescue” medications that can relieve the symptoms of asthma (such as bronchodilators), looking at the root causes can help prevent exacerbations and reduce the severity. There exists a correlation between people with asthma and those with allergies; approximately 80 percent of people with one condition also have or will develop the other. Identifying and addressing potential allergies is an important part of asthma management. Common Asthma Triggers  » environmental pollution  » viral infections  » exercise  » certain medications Risk Factors » stress  » smoking  » excess alcohol consumption  » increased body fat Reduce Allergies & Sensitivity  Asthma symptoms can be reduced when a trigger is identified and avoided. Dietary triggers may activate inflammatory pathways; these are different for each person and require some individual assessment, but common drivers include gluten, shellfish, eggs, milk, tree nuts, peanuts, sesame seeds, soy, and sulphite-containing foods. Once the body is sensitized to respond to a particular food, it can become more reactive and harder to manage over time, so early identification is key.  Certain dietary patterns can also predispose vulnerable individuals to an overactive inflammatory response, such as a diet high in processed foods, refined carbohydrates, and excessive omega-6 fatty acids. Meanwhile, a well-balanced, plant-forward diet rich in colourful whole foods is linked with reduced asthma symptoms. Dietary Approaches The two main strategies when addressing asthma are to improve immune system function and decrease excessive inflammation. The following are nutritional approaches that benefit the immune and respiratory systems from the inside out. Fibre-Rich & Fermented Foods: The microbiome (the population of bacteria and yeast that reside in and on the human body) plays a critical role in coordinating appropriate immune responses. Lifestyle factors that modify the microbiome can increase the risk of developing both allergies and asthma, such as excessive use of anti-bacterial products, a highly processed diet, extensive time spent indoors, and lack of physical activity. Encouraging a healthy microbiome through diet consists mainly of eating plant-forward foods abundant in fibre. Fibre feeds beneficial organisms in the gut, which enables them to support a healthy immune system response. Fermented foods such as yogurt (hold the sugar!) and kimchi are also excellent for cultivating a healthy microbiome. Probiotic supplements may also be a good choice for certain individuals with a tendency for asthma and allergies. Doses and strains are highly relevant when it comes to probiotics, so talk to your naturopathic doctor. Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Modern diets tend to contain excessive omega-6 fatty acids, which promote inflammation, compared to omega-3s, which tend to subdue it. By boosting omega-3 intake, tendencies towards excessive inflammation (such as asthma) can be mitigated. The powerful combination of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) found in omega-3s are known to increase the production of the anti-inflammatory chemicals resolvin and protectin.¹ These mediators inhibit the production of proinflammatory cytokines, which can help reduce the severity and frequency of asthma attacks. Fish oils, in particular, have been studied for their protective effect on exercise-induced asthma in a 2:1 EPA to DHA ratio. In one study, the group consuming fish oil experienced improved pulmonary function and a reduction in bronchodilator use compared to those consuming a placebo. The study also found that the fish oil group had a reduction in blood markers of immune system activation. Omega-3 fatty acids are abundant in fish (especially deep cold water varieties such as salmon, mackerel, herring, and sardines), as well as other food products, including algal or flaxseed oil, chia seeds, walnuts, eggs, yogurt, and fortified soy milk beverages. A supplement may be necessary to achieve a therapeutic dose in some cases. Vitamin D: The healthy function of the immune system requires appropriate levels of vitamin D, a nutrient that is deficient among most people in North America. A deficiency of vitamin D is associated with an increased frequency of asthma episodes; correcting this deficiency through supplementation can support the immune system and reduce excessive inflammation. One study demonstrated reduced frequency and intensity of asthma exacerbations and hospitalizations over six months of vitamin D supplementation. Correcting vitamin D deficiency may be particularly important for individuals who also experi ...

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 ...

Fatigue: Why Am I So Tired All The Time?

Fatigue
Our bodies are great at sending us signals when something is wrong. We just have to learn to read them. Whether you wake up exhausted, feel like you're dragging your feet throughout the entire day, or always hit that afternoon energy slump, there are reasons to investigate further. Nutrient Deficiencies  The standard North American diet is full of opportunities for improvement. With an emphasis placed on simple carbohydrates (white bread, pasta, and rice); sugar (juices, sodas, and baked goods); and saturated fats (deep-fried items, meats, and butter); it comes as no surprise that overall nutrient intake is low. In the busy lifestyles of our fast-paced "go-go-go" society, quick and easy meals are often the norm These quick and easy meals are usually void of substantial healthy nutrients, but high in calories. This means that although we feel full, our bodies still crave nutrients, and this will trigger a hunger response that doesn't have to do with being hungry. When we fuel our bodies and mind with the right nutrients, energy is more balanced and cravings are kept in check. Having a diet full of fruits and vegetables is a great way to ensure nutrient intake is high. Poor digestion is another big cause of nutrient deficiencies. Even if you are eating all the right foods, your gut has to be able to break down your food properly and absorb nutrients from it. The phrase "you are what you absorb" is a much better analogy to the commonly heard "you are what you eat." Symptoms such as frequent bloating, excess gas, constipation, diarrhea, and acid reflux are indications that your digestive tract may not be functioning optimally.  Common nutrient deficiencies include iron, magnesium, vitamin D, and vitamin B12 (especially if you are a vegan/vegetarian). Although water isn't a "nutrient" per se, inadequate intake can also cause fatigue. Be sure to compensate for caffeine items such as coffee, which can dehydrate you further. Thyroid Concerns  The thyroid is a small but mighty gland that sits at the base of your throat. This gland is involved in numerous processes in the body, including metabolism, body temperature, digestion, period health, cognition, and skin health. A low-functioning thyroid (hypothyroidism) can be a big contributing factor to fatigue, sensitivity to cold, dry skin, heavy and/or irregular periods, resistant weight loss, and anxiety/depression. Often, the thyroid will become dysfunctional due to stress, impaired gut health, and autoimmune conditions.  There is a genetic component to thyroid dysfunction, so it may be a good idea to get assessed if you have a family history. If you have reason to suspect a thyroid concern, speak to your healthcare professional about getting a full thyroid panel checked through blood work.  Mental Health  Health is comprised of your physical, mental, and emotional realms. Unfortunately, our physical health often takes precedence over our mental health, sometimes simply because it’s more externally visible. As such, it's important to distinguish mental and emotional energy from physical energy. For example, an excess mental load can result in burnout fatigue. This can cause mood fluctuations (including being quick to anger and impatience), feeling "wired but tired," and feeling overwhelmed when decision-making. This can also cause difficulties sleeping, which in turn results in poor mental, emotional, and physical energy because our bodies aren't able to properly restore from the previous day. Sometimes, what we deem as fatigue is actually mental and emotional exhaustion from depression or anxiety. A key question to ask yourself would be, "Am I lacking motivation or the physical capacity to do what I want to do?" The latter describes a lack of physical energy. Lack of motivation and disinterest in things that used to bring you joy are signs that your mental health may need tending to. Many physical concerns, such as unrestful sleep despite adequate hours of shut-eye and brain fog, can be signs of depression or anxiety. Although it can be scary to face, you are not alone. Mental health concerns have skyrocketed throughout the young and old alike, and have been increasingly evident throughout the COVID pandemic. Stress (Hpa Axis)  The hypothalamus–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis describes the link between the brain and the adrenal glands. While stress impacts all body organ systems, the adrenal glands are a key player in regulating the stress hormone called cortisol. Stress is not inherently a bad thing. It’s a great driver for productivity and allows our senses to heighten in dangerous situations to get us to safety. When the body's stress response is activated, it quickly mobilizes resources so that they are readily available for use. However, when stress becomes chronically high without adequate support for restoration, it begins to rapidly deplete the body's resources to keep up with demand.  “When we don ...

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 ...

Xymogen’s Bio C 1:1 Formula – Potent Vitamin C with Citrus Bioflavonoids for Antioxidant & Immune Support

Xymogen’s Bio C
Xymogen’s Bio C 1:1 formula contains (combines) a high-potency vitamin C (ascorbic acid) with full-spectrum citrus bioflavonoids.  Both have been thoroughly researched and are understood to be important for supporting antioxidant and immune system function.  Not only is vitamin C incredibly important for fighting against illness or stress, but research depicts vitamin C’s important role in the synthesis of collagen, the amino acid carnitine, and neurotransmitters for cognitive function. Citrus bioflavonoids support a healthy metabolism and neurological health by functioning as cell-signaling agents + supporting the enhanced absorption and utilization of vitamin C.  This formula by Xymogen contains 500 mg of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) + 500 mg of citrus bioflavonoids per capsule in a one-to-one ratio. One capsule is recommended daily, although both have a high safety profile and tolerance. The only side effect people tend to notice with increased amounts of vitamin C or bioflavonoid intake is diarrhea until their body adjusts. Vitamin C is, of course, a well-known antioxidant vitamin and water-soluble vitamin that is essential to humans and important for overall wellness. While we only need a very small amount of vitamin C to prevent ‘scurvy’ or deficiency, high amounts of vitamin C intake have been correlated with improved health markers and better immune response during times of illness.  The amount required by the body to support physiological functions becomes increased when we undergo stress, have poor dietary habits, smoke, drink alcohol, undergo radiation, are exposed to pollution, or are ill.  Vitamin C protects against free radicals and oxidative stress produced from bodily processes and external factors, and also contributes to collagen synthesis/production and adrenal gland support. It is an important support for the immune system and a cofactor for metabolic enzymes.  Vitamin C and The Immune System Immune cells absorb and concentrate vitamin C – vitamin C’s role in immune system function has long been known and reported in the medical literature. The T-cell function is known to be enhanced by vitamin C. While the “recommended” amount of vitamin C intake for optimal function has long been debated, Dr. Linus Pauling, in his research on vitamin C, recommended an intake of 2,300 mg per 2,500 calorie intake for humans as a “minimum.” However, this was way back in the early 1970s. The NIH (National Institute of Health) determined at around 400 mg per day is required for young and healthy non-smokers to attain saturation of vitamin C, but do not know how much is required for those in older adults, or those with infection/chronic stress.  It is already known that the elderly or those under stress conditions require a substantially higher intake of vitamin C to maintain or attain plasma concentrations that provide benefit.  As this one study reads: “vitamin C deficiency results in impaired immunity and higher susceptibility to infections. In turn, infections significantly impact vitamin C levels due to enhanced inflammation and metabolic requirements. Furthermore, supplementation with vitamin C appears to be able to both prevent and treat respiratory and systemic infections. In contrast, treatment of established infections requires significantly higher [gram] doses of the vitamin to compensate for the increased inflammatory response and metabolic demand.”  Energy from dietary fatty acids also requires vitamin C because it depends on the synthesis of carnitine, which helps shuttle along long-chain fatty acids into mitochondria. Vitamin C, as we mentioned previously, is required for the synthesis of carnitine. Vitamin C is also abundant in the brain and helps with the conversion of dopamine to norepinephrine and regulates intraneuronal communication.  Citrus bioflavonoids are perhaps more widely known and used in Europe and are phytochemicals derived from plants/food (commonly citrus fruits) that are biologically active compounds associated with cardiovascular health, inflammation, and cognition.  Healthcare practitioners, namely naturopaths, commonly use bioflavonoids independently to support joint health and inflammation. However, they can also be used for blood vessel support, lymph system support, respiratory health, eye health, and cardiovascular health. These bioflavonoids are able to cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and are neuroprotective. 

How Stress Affects Your Body in the Long Run?

Stress
When was the last time you felt stressed? Perhaps not too long ago – we live in a world where we are dealing with chronic daily stressors. You may not even realize the number of stressors in your life or the significant impacts they can have on your health. The Effect of Stress on the Adrenals The adrenal glands are two little glands that sit on top of your kidneys. They control your stress response and as a result, can affect almost every system in your body. When your stress hormones are imbalanced, you may find yourself feeling unwell, tired, and irritable. When it comes to the effects of stress, you are more likely to be familiar with the fight-or-flight response. When you are in danger, your adrenals will kick in and use your body’s resources to help you fight or flee. Nowadays, the stress that we face doesn’t always require us to fight or flee, but your body still uses the same response. Modern-Day Factors that Can Trigger the Stress Response Emotional stress Lack of sleep High sugar and white flour products Acute and chronic infections Lack of nutrients Trauma Lack of exercise or excessive exercise Fasting Lack of relaxation Overexertion Toxins When the stress response is activated, we release a hormone called cortisol. This hormone helps us increase our heart rate and blood flow in order to handle the stressor. However, if the stressors are not addressed or removed after a short period, the adrenals are pushed into overdrive. This can lead to burnout and exhaustion. Cortisol is an essential hormone, but when it is overproduced, can lead to miscommunication between the adrenals and the brain. Over time, your body can stop producing enough cortisol, leading to low cortisol instead. Both high and low cortisol levels can have harmful effects on the body. Signs that Your Body is Affected by Chronic Stress You have low levels of thyroid hormone You are gaining weight around your midsection You catch colds easily and have a difficult time recovering You are quick to anger You are frequently anxious or irritated You experience severe PMS symptoms each month You have trouble concentrating on simple tasks You are tired throughout the day, especially around 2 pm The stress response is designed to help you get through short-term stressors, though that is rarely the case for most people today. When the stress hormones are imbalanced, normal body functions are not prioritized. This includes the immune and digestive systems. Have you ever noticed that you tend to get sick during periods of stress? Or that your digestive symptoms become worse? It is because when cortisol is not balanced, your body has a difficult time focusing on other functions. 3 Important Steps to Healing Your Adrenals Incorporate Adaptogenic Herbs Adaptogens help the body adapt and cope with stress. They help to nourish and replenish the adrenals, whether they are in overdrive or fatigued. Ashwagandha helps to calm the mind, while Rhodiola helps to decrease fatigue. Both are highly studied herbs used to combat the effects of stress. Holy basil is another herb that can be used for extra immune support and reducing anxiety.  Ashwagandha: Himalaya Ashwagandha 60 Capulets, NFH Ashwagandha SAP 60 capsules, Botanica Ashwagandha 60 Liquid Capsules Rhodiola: AOR Rhodiola 60 Veggie Caps, Natural Factors Rhodiola 150mg 60 Capsules, St. Francis Rhodiola 50mL Holy Basil: New Chapter Holy Basil Force 60 Capsules, Living Alchemy Holy Basil Alive 60 Capsules, Organic Traditions Organic Holy Basil Tulsi Tea 200g Protect Your Bedtime Sleep is essential for overall hormone health. Your cortisol levels are closely intertwined with your sleep hormone, melatonin. When the sun rises, cortisol should be at its highest, and when the sun sets, it should start to decrease. As cortisol lowers, melatonin levels increase, allowing you to feel tired as you reach your bedtime. However, if you are constantly stimulated by blue light or other activities during your bedtime, you may have a more difficult time keeping your cortisol balanced. Winding down with a book or journaling before bedtime can signal your body to regulate cortisol levels. Use Relaxation Techniques Techniques such as meditation and mindfulness are powerful activities that can activate your parasympathetic nervous system (relaxed state) and deactivate your sympathetic nervous system (fight-or-flight) system. They help your body to release fewer stress hormones when they are not truly needed, so your adrenals can restore themselves. Start by incorporating 5 minutes a day, and slowly increase as it starts to become a habit. The Importance of Stress-Reducing Habits Your body is smart and can adapt to some stress. But when the stressor is not addressed, you may find yourself experiencing more signs and symptoms. The goal is not to reduce all stressors, but to equip your body in handling the stress. Healing your adrenal glands takes time and there is no ...

Stressed Out? Here’s What to Do

Contrary to popular belief, stress is not always a negative thing. Stress is designed to help your body prioritize saving your life when a dangerous situation arises. It is your body’s alarm system. If a bear were to attack you, your body would immediately release adrenaline to boost your heart rate and blood flow, as well as cortisol, to increase blood sugar as an energy resource. However, cortisol, the stress hormone, will also suppress other systems that are not needed for immediate survival – digestive, reproductive, growth.  The problem occurs when stress is not caused by truly dangerous situations – for example, stressing about a due date, studying for exams, traffic jams, relationship complications. These are all common stressors, but they will not cause your body physical danger immediately. They are an inevitable part of life and can easily affect your body long-term. Cortisol should lower automatically after a period of stress, but chronic stress prevents cortisol and other stress hormones from lowering. Chronically high stress hormones can result in: Feeling fatigued or burned out  Anxiety  Difficulty falling/staying asleep  Feeling tired but wired at night  Brain fog  Difficulty concentrating  Muscle tension and/or pain  Rapid heartbeat  High blood pressure  Nausea/vomiting  Diarrhea  In today’s world, it is almost impossible to get rid of all stress. But you can better prepare your body to adapt to stress, as well as replenish nutrients that are easily lost during periods of stress.  Adaptogens for stress Adaptogens are herbs that support the body’s ability to cope with stress. Whether your cortisol is high or low, these herbs will meet the specific needs of your body. They are a great supplement for anyone going through a stressful period that they cannot control, such as exam periods or busy work schedules.  Rhodiola  Rhodiola is one of the most well-known adaptogens for stress. It has been shown to enhance the body’s physical and mental capacity to improve productivity.[1] Rhodiola is particularly helpful to fight stress-related fatigue, also known as the common “afternoon slump”.  Ashwagandha This herb supports the body by helping to trigger the proper physiological response to stress. In a study with 64 subjects, ashwagandha has been shown to reduce cortisol levels and improve resistance to stress, even in those with chronic stress.[2] Siberian ginseng  Ginseng is a medicinal herb that has been used for thousands of years. It is involved in regulating hormones during stress and can help your body reach homeostasis after abnormal physiological changes caused by the stress of everyday life.[3] Did you know that stress can increase the risk of many inflammatory diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes? Ginseng is anti-inflammatory and can protect against inflammatory cytokines induced by anxiety, depression, oxidative stress and disease. Nutrients for stress Vitamin C Vitamin C is needed to make stress hormones. During periods of stress, this vitamin is rapidly depleted. When vitamin C levels are low, your body will also view that as a stressor and release more stress hormones. A vitamin C deficiency can easily become a chronic stress cycle.  Vitamin B5 Vitamin B5 is needed for proper function of the adrenal cortex. B5 prevents the body from releasing too much cortisol at once, to prevent the harmful effects of chronic stress in the body.[4] There are many supplements on the market that are designed to help your body adapt to stress. Many of them will have a formula containing a variety of the adaptogens and nutrients listed above. An example is Ortho Adapt Vegan by AOR – it is efficient and effective!  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.   References Li, Y., Pham, V., Bui, M., Song, L., Wu, C., Walia, A., Uchio, E., Smith-Liu, F., & Zi, X. (2017). Rhodiola rosea L.: an herb with anti-stress, anti-aging, and immunostimulating properties for cancer chemoprevention. Current pharmacology reports, 3(6), 384–395. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40495-017-0106-1 Chandrasekhar, K., Kapoor, J., & Anishetty, S. (2012). A prospective, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of ashwagandha root in reducing stress and anxiety in adults. Indian journal of psychological medicine, 34(3), 255–262. https://doi.org/10.4103/0253-7176.106022 Lee, S., & Rhee, D. K. (2017). Effects of ginseng on stress-related depression, anxiety, and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. Journal of ginse ...

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 ...