Tagged with 'Reduce Stress'

Fatigue: Why Am I So Tired All The Time?

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 ...

How Stress Affects Your Body in the Long Run?

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 ...

Your 4 Step Guide To A Better Night’s Sleep

I think we all could agree a little more slumber in our lives would be a dream come true, pun intended. Sleep is grossly underrated. In the world of health we have an affinity to talk about exercise, work environment, and food at length but for some reason sleep is an often overlooked topic. Sleep should be as common a touching point as all of these other topics. We spend, or at least we should be spending 7 hours or more every single day sleeping. Anything else in our lives that consumes 7 hours of our day would be heavily discussed so we should be showing sleep that same attention. So without further adieu let us change the conversation and add to our healthy living arsenal. Here is your 4 step guide to a better night’s sleep. MANAGE SCREEN LIGHT AT CRUCIAL TIMES In an era of smartphones, laptops, tablets and televisions in every room it is important to monitor how soon before sleep you are staring down the barrel of your phone screen light. Screen light tricks your brain into thinking it is still daytime. The problem with that is your body continues to dump stress hormones in your body in preparation for the stresses of the day. If your body is busy doing that then it isn’t busy dumping the necessary sleep hormones into your body to prepare you for a good night’s rest. Try decreasing your screen light brightness once the sun goes down and there is no more light outside. Also try shutting down all devices a minimum of 15mins before sleep. These hacks will give your brain enough time to shift the focus to relaxation and slow down brain activity. Resist the urge to pick up your phone during sleep to check it by either leaving it in another room or placing it on its face so you don’t notice any notification lights throughout the night. If you tend to fall asleep to the television being on be sure to set a sleep timer on it. Although you are sleeping the background light is still registered by your brain which makes it confusing for your body resulting in inadequate sleep. A POWER NAP COULD MAKE ALL THE DIFFERENCE The question always comes up on if a power nap is actually beneficial or is it just an excuse to getaway with no real tangible benefit? Well the infamous “power nap” is an effective tool to stave off sleep deprivation. A 20-30min nap can increase alertness, improve decision making and productivity. Anywhere from 1pm-3pm is a prime window to escape for a little while and get in that well deserved nap. WHEN IT COMES TO CAFFEINE TIMING IS EVERYTHING The conversation of caffeine comes up all the time. We’re not here to discuss the idea of caffeine more specifically coffee being good or bad for you. Depending on who you talk to the idea of coffee will either be ridiculed or glorified. Regardless of our love or hate for coffee the fact remains that in Canada we drink a lot of coffee so it’s a topic that needs to be touched on. According to a 2015 CBC report Canada ranks 3rd in the world in coffee consumption only trailing Netherlands and Finland. It is also very accessible with Canadian coffee powerhouse Tim Hortons having one establishment per every 9,000 Canadians. So for you coffee drinkers the timing of your consumption is so important. Getting your coffee fix in a minimum of 6hrs before sleep is so important as the affects of caffeine on sleep cannot be ignored. As a general rule of thumb 4pm should be the cut off for your last sip of coffee. Following this rule will really help your quality of sleep. THE 10-2 RULE No we’re not talking about driving for beginners here. We’re talking about a man or woman’s best friend after dogs and diamonds, your liver. Your liver is responsible for so many body functions and it is imperative that it is getting all the support it needs.  Between the hours of 10pm and 2am is when your liver is in repair and the highest levels of melatonin (a sleep hormone) are available. With that being said the more sleep you get between the hours of 10pm and 2am the happier your liver will be. There you have it. Your 4 step guide to better night’s sleep.  Follow these simple steps and you will wake up more refreshed than you did this morning. Unless it’s a Monday morning, nobody likes Mondays. Enjoy! References Why Canadians drink more coffee than most people in the world http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/canada-coffee-tim-hortons-1.3745971 The secret and surprising power of naps http://www.webmd.com/balance/features/the-secret-and-surprising-power-of-naps#2 https://drnibber.com/your-4-step-guide-to-a-better-nights-sleep/

Four Ways to Create A Realistic Family Routine

Routines. They help us stay organized and on-track. A good one can help set the tone for a positive, successful day.  But, routines are not one-size-fits-all.  And sometimes trying to shoe-horn a routine that isn’t right for your family creates more stress than their worth. For some of us, the mornings are where the chaos makes its presence known. Can I get a nod from those who feel like getting everyone in the car with 2 shoes on their feet and food in their hands without being late is a small victory?? For others of us it’s the evenings that the chaos devil comes out. As you work to pick up toys in one area, messes are being made in others, and it’s all you can do to get dinner on the table. It’s a bonus if no one complains about what is being served. Whenever it is that seems to send you spinning, here are tips on how you can create a realistic routine that fits your family and with your schedule.   Establish Your Morning Routine. The Night Before. Back-to-school can make the mornings come back with vengeance. Being dressed, fed and out the door with 2, 3 or more kids in time to catch the bus can feel completely chaotic and exhausting, two things no one wants to face before 8AM.  To make your mornings easier plan ahead by laying out your outfit (kids and adults!), packing lunches (leftover dinner is usually an easy option) and putting backpacks and bags packed and by the door.   (Meal) Plan Ahead Meal planning is an easy way to keep continuity and structure in your days. With a plan you’ll be able to keep your established routine and not feel flustered about what to make for dinner or not having time for breakfast.  Take a few minutes to prep breakfast the night before by doing things such as pre-making smoothie packs that can be tossed and blended in under 5 minutes in the morning, or making a batch of oatmeal that is divided out in the refrigerator for a quick reheat grab and go option. Large batches of muffins and breads that can be stashed in the freezer are also good options. Spend Sunday planning out your meals for the week, using your favorite websites or cookbooks for inspiration. Get your kids involved too!   Doing It Once, Checking It Twice How many times have you gone to the store two times in a night because you forgot something on your original trip? Save time (and brain-power!) by making lists which can help simplify your daily routine and allow you to efficiently tackle everything from your grocery store needs, to returns you need to make, to after school tasks. Buy a notepad that has a magnet and stick it on the fridge or use the notepad function on your phone. You’ll feel like a super hero as you get things done and cross things off!   Follow The Cues Of Your Kids Routines are not one-size-fits-all and what works for your neighbors may not work for you. If your kids are sleepyheads in the morning and you have to drag them out of bed work to get a lot of the morning tasks, like packing lunch and backpacks, done the night before. On the other hand if you’ve got early risers and evenings are a battle, do bath time (or showers), pack lunches, etc. in the morning. Finally, some kids do well with detailed schedules for the day (even when out of school) while others need a bit looser structure. Decide what works best for you and your family.   How do you create realistic routines for you and your family? https://myvega.ca/blog/family-routine/

Living Younger: Health-span vs. Lifespan

More than twenty years ago, before phrases like "obesity epidemic" and "metabolic syndrome" entered our lexicon, two doctors introduced an online mechanism for determining one's biological age based on health in comparison with chronological age. Using information from insurance actuarial tables, the self-administered questionnaire in the site provided a "real age" vs. a chronological age and guided better health choices. The theory, of course, is that the same information that allows insurance companies to determine rates based on risk behaviors tells us a lot about what we should and shouldn't do.  Healthspan vs. Lifespan What are those choices we can make toward a better "health-span" vs. "lifespan?" What makes us age? What are some causes of aging and premature death? How do we address these causes so we can live not only longer but healthier? In "Live Long Live Healthy," Progressive Nutritional’s holistic nutrition expert and Director of Education Nelson Narciso, reviews the factors that cause premature aging and death in Canada and tells us how we can reverse current trends. Health Challenges One of the report's tables, "Leading Causes of Death," demonstrates something surprising. Years ago, infectious diseases caused most premature deaths. Western medicine met this health challenge in the last millennium, however, and today, very few deaths are the result of an infection. In fact, among the top ten causes of death in Canada in 2009, influenza and pneumonia accounted for just 5,000 cases, less than 3% of the total. Excluding from the count another 9,000 resulting from accidents and 3,000 from suicide, this leaves more than 90% of deaths an illness or cluster of illnesses that science terms preventable lifestyle diseases. Many diseases are on the rise. Two million Canadians live with osteoporosis. In 2012, 186,400 Canadians received a cancer diagnosis, and health officials anticipate a 60% increase in the rate of diagnosis over the next two decades. 31% of Canadian children 5-17 years of age suffer from obesity, a problem that unaddressed, puts them at risk for an associated cluster of diseases called "metabolic syndrome," issues that decrease life quality and cause premature death. These health challenges not only threaten our life quality and cause premature death, they place an insupportable burden on public health systems. "Medical care costs for people with chronic diseases account for 42% of total direct medical care expenditures, or $39 billion a year in Canada." Further, "the indirect costs of chronic illness due to productivity losses are particularly high, accounting for over 65% of total indirect costs – $54.4 billion annually." 7 Causes of Aging & Illness There are things we can do to fight back, and it is our responsibility to ourselves and as citizens to do that! Our goal is to live a long life that is disability-free, and with good nutrition, supplementation and some lifestyle changes, we can do that! Let's look at seven specific causes of aging and illness: Genetics Free radicals Glycation (sugar-damaged proteins in your cells, like browning in cooking or rusting) Excessive calorie consumption Nutritional deficiencies Stress Inactivity The good news is that genetics are not determinative! While they predispose us to some things, how we live triggers (or doesn't) those effects. Our level of activity, what and how much we eat, our stress levels and environmental toxins increase or decrease processes like free radicals (highly reactive cells that "steal" from healthy cells) and glycation. Our objective, as we strive for the vibrant good health that slows our aging process, is to decrease these processes. 7 Steps to Living Younger   Ensure a good activity level. The numbers don't lie. Get a pedometer. If you aren't exercising regularly, start slowly, but work toward 10,000 steps per day, a little less than five miles -- and not all at once. You want to avoid long periods of sitting, so punctuate your day with shorter walks. Build stress reducers into your day: a few moments of meditation periodically through the day that allow you to step back, walking (10,000 steps, remember?) mindfully, play some music, write in a journal, paint.  Reduce your exposure to environmental toxins wherever you can: household cleaning and laundry supplies, vehicle emissions, pesticides and more. Remove unhealthy food items from your diet and keep them out of your home: sugar and all added sweeteners, refined and highly processed food items and junk food, juices, soda pop, GMO foods, certain oils. Bring healthy food items into your diet and home: The Environmental Work Group (ewg.org) provides a helpful Dirty Dozen list, revised yearly, of which foods are most heavily treated with pesticides. It's a good resource if you can't buy all organic. Stock up on real food ...

Getting To Know Your Thyroid: Supporting Thyroid Health Naturally

What is the Thyroid Gland?The thyroid is a small butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of the neck. It weighs only approximately 20 grams, but the hormones it secretes control growth and metabolism. The primary circulating thyroid hormones – thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) – are essential regulators of crucial body functions such as heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature. Adequate level of T4, and its efficient conversion to T3, also ensures that we have energy and burn carbohydrates and fats at an optimal rate. How Prevalent are Thyroid Diseases?According to the Thyroid Foundation of Canada, about 200 million people in the world have some form of thyroid disease. Thyroid disorders are found in 0.8-5% of the population and they are 4 to 7 times more common in women. What are the Types of Thyroid Diseases?There are many types of thyroid diseases. The main conditions present in most thyroid illnesses are hypothyroidism (the thyroid is under active) and hyperthyroidism (the thyroid is over active). The thyroid can also be affected by nodules and cancers. Are Thyroid Diseases Treatable?For the most part, thyroid disorders are treatable and if left untreated, thyroid diseases can produce serious consequences in other parts of the body. Hypothyroidism What is Hypothyroidism?Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland isn’t producing enough hormones, and the symptoms occur because all metabolic processes in the body “slow down” as a consequence. How Prevalent is it?By in large, hypothyroidism is the most common form of thyroid disorder, affecting approximately 2 individuals in 100. According to another source[2] and based on my clinical experience, as many as 10% of women may be suffering from some degree of thyroid hormone deficiency. Although the problem can usually be identified with a simple blood test, millions of women still remain undiagnosed. Signs & Symptoms of HypothyroidismIf you experience some of these symptoms, you need to discuss them with your clinician. Signs & symptoms of Hypothyroidism Fatigue Weakness Weight gain or difficulty losing weight Coarse, dry hair Dry, rough pale skin Hair loss Cold intolerance Muscle cramps and aches Constipation Depression Irritability Memory loss Abnormal menstrual cycles Decreased libido What are the Causes of Hypothyroidism?There are two main causes of hypothyroidism. The first one results from an inflammation of the thyroid gland, affecting its cells’ capacity to produce sufficient hormone. The most common form of thyroid inflammation – Hashimoto’s thyroiditis – is an autoimmune condition in which the immune system attacks the thyroid gland, with the resulting inflammation leading to an underactive thyroid gland. Grave’s disease is another type of auto-immune thyroid diseases (AITD) but in this case, the thyroid gland becomes overactive. What Can I do to Support My Thyroid’s Health?Even if you are currently taking thyroid medication such as Synthroid, you can bolster thyroid function with a well-balanced diet that includes lots of protein and healthy foods, certain supplements and a good lifestyle. Let’s explore some of these natural allies. Diet: The Gluten Connection Several studies have shown a strong connection between AITD and gluten intolerance. The explanation behind this process seems to be one of ‘mistaken identity’ in which the person’s antibodies to gliadin – the protein portion of gluten – cause the body to attack the thyroid tissue when gliadin breaches the protective barrier of the gut to enter the bloodstream. The confusion occurs due to gliadin’s molecular resemblance to the thyroid gland. Since standard lab tests aren’t very accurate in diagnosing gluten intolerance, it’s usually better to remove gluten from the diet. Cutting gluten off may appear scary at first due to its prevalence, but the truth is it usually results in a wider variety in our diet and there are no nutrients in gluten-containing foods that you can’t get from foods that don’t contain it. Certain clinicians even recommend eliminating all grains, soy and dairy as well in order to prevent cross-reactivity and reduce antibodies. On a side note, white bread often contains bromine which can cause iodine deficiency and interfere with thyroid gland function. The Stress Connection Whether we’re talking about the usual emotional stressors or the ones that disturb the body’s natural balance (homeostasis) such as food intolerances, gut dysfunction, chronic infections and inflammation or blood sugar swings, stress has a major impact on thyroid health. When we experience stress, our adrenals glands secrete the hormones cortisol, epinephrine and norepinephrine that regulate the stress response and play other key roles, some of which directly ...

Weight Loss is More than Just Cutting Calories

It is not uncommon to hear a friend or family member say that they are trying to lose weight. In fact, the vast majority of us spend our entire lives struggling to maintain a weight that is healthy or desirable. There are certainly many people that are over-eating or under-exercising for their caloric requirements. But what about the rest of us? For some individuals, it doesn’t matter how little we eat because the weigh scale doesn’t seem to budge! Weight loss can be quite complex with many contributing factors and the simple reality is that cutting calories is not a clear solution for losing weight. Here’s why. Calorie Counting Is Good… In Theory: When we eat food, we are consuming energy. When we exercise or create movement, we are burning energy. When attempting to lose weight, the simplest goal is to eat less energy relative to the amount of energy that your body outputs. In fact, it has often been stated that an energy deficit of 3500 kcal will lead to fat loss of exactly one pound because that’s how much energy is provided when you break down fat. And this will work in many people. But this simple equation does not take into account the type of macronutrients or micronutrients that you are actually consuming, nor does it consider the strong influence of hormones as we’ll discuss below. A Calorie is Not Just a Calorie: Most people that have done their own dietary research know that the human body does not respond to refined carbohydrates (ie. added sugars) the same way that it does to protein, fats or even complex carbohydrates. When we eat natural sugars found in fruit that are paired with the high fibre content, we have a blunted rise in blood glucose and insulin. If you eat the same number of calories from a donut, your sugar spikes and excess sugars become converted and deposited into fat. Similarly, low-carbohydrate diets have consistently shown greater weight loss when compared to low-fat diets with equal caloric intake. Physiologically, the body treats fats, proteins and carbohydrates quite differently. What About Hormones? The thyroid is largely responsible for maintaining a proper metabolic rate, meaning that it dictates how fast or slow our cells burn energy. This explains why those with low thyroid function can present with weight gain or the inability to lose weight. If you haven’t had your thyroid function checked by your doctor, this is a great place to start. However, just as your thyroid needs to be balanced to maintain a healthy weight, so does your estrogen, progesterone, testosterone and cortisol. Factors such as stress, poor liver function and nutritional deficiencies can all imbalance these crucial hormones. The Importance of Stress: When we are stressed, our body releases cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone that tells the body to release sugar into the blood. This is great to provide energy to get through a short stressful event, but what about when cortisol is elevated for days, weeks or months at a time? Imbalanced sugar levels can lead to fat deposition over the long haul! Stress management is so important, in fact, that some research has found stress-management programs with no dietary changes to be more effective for weight loss than dietary changes alone. Sleep and its role in Weight Management: A large-scale study examining sleep habits in over 86,000 postmenopausal women found a strong association between both lack of sleep and excess sleep with obesity risk. Other studies have found shorter and longer sleep durations to be associated with greater body mass and greater abdominal fat measurements. Sleep deprivation’s association with obesity appears to be due not only with behavioral changes (such as exercising less when you’re tired), but also to hormonal dysregulation. Sleeping less than 6 hours per night results in blood sugar imbalances, insulin resistance and, ultimately, widespread inflammation in the body. Environmental Toxins: There is now a mountain of evidence to show that toxins in our environment can play a great role in body size. Ongoing exposure to chemicals with names like hexachlorobenzene, polybrominated biphenyl and phthalates can wreak havoc on your hormones and your weight loss attempts. Start eliminating the plastics and use glass containers or water bottles instead. Reduce your daily makeup and cosmetic exposure when possible. Avoid unnecessary air-fresheners, chemical-laden cleaners and pesticides. These small changes will all add up.         As you can clearly see, there is much more to consider than just calories in and calories out when it comes to weight loss. Eating real food, getting restful sleep, avoiding toxic chemicals, improving relationships and minimizing stressors in your life will all help to normalize your hormones and improve your weight in the long-run. Got some weight loss t ...

Probiotics May Make You Happy!

  By David Perlmutter, M.D.   You’ve heard of the term probiotics and likely prebiotics as well, but now we are hearing about what are called, “psychobiotics.” These have been defined as “a live organism that, when ingested in adequate amounts, produces a health benefit in patients suffering from psychiatric illness”. That’s a pretty impressive new term, and claim for that matter. But the reason that scientists have developed this terminology is because new research clearly demonstrates that certain probiotic organisms have a dramatic effect in terms of regulating mood. In recent double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trials, it has been demonstrated that people taking a combination of two fairly common probiotic bacteria, including lactobacillus helveticus and bifidobacterium longum, had a dramatic reduction in their level of psychological stress as compared to people given a placebo. In addition, researchers demonstrated that the level of cortisol, the so-called “stress hormone”, was much lower in those receiving these probiotics as opposed to those who received placebo. We know that certain probiotic bacteria have an effect on the level of various neurotransmitters that can affect mood, like serotonin and dopamine. In addition, inflammation is a cornerstone of depression, and current research clearly identifies the stability of the bowel lining as a regulator of inflammation throughout the body. This stability is regulated to a significant degree by the level of good bacteria living within the intestines. These are just two proposed mechanisms whereby specific probiotic bacteria can affect mood. That said, well beyond just the idea of intervening with probiotic supplements as an attempt to help with mood, an important take-home message from this research should be that we should do everything we can to preserve and protect our gut bacteria today by reassessing our food and medication choices, as well as various other lifestyle factors like sleep, stress and exercise. It makes sense that if we compromise the levels of these and other probiotic bacterial species within us, it may well pave the way for debilitating mood disorders.   References: https://www.gardenoflife.com/content/probiotics-may-make-happy/

Running out of steam? 3 reasons you may need a multivitamin.

BY: PLATINUM NATURALS Vitamins and minerals perform hundreds of roles in your body. From converting food into energy, building your bones, healing your wounds, and boosting your immune system, you may not be getting enough of these critical nutrients in your daily diets. Let’s see why. 1. You are not perfect. Let’s face it; most of us don’t consistently eat a healthy diet. Sure, some days we eat better than others but if we’re honest…there are at least a few days a week or month that we opt for the drive thru on our way to or from work or snack on a cookie instead of a carrot. And despite our best efforts on our “good” eating days, studies show that many of us are still falling short of getting the nutrients our bodies need to function at their best.   2. Your food is not perfect. The fruits and vegetables we eat are often sprayed with pesticides or picked before they are ripe and shipped to us – which can deplete important nutrients. Nearly every food preparation process reduces the amount of nutrients in food. In particular, processes that expose foods to high levels of heat, light, and/or oxygen often cause the greatest nutrient loss. B vitamins are essential for helping our bodies use energy, but are easily destroyed through cooking and food processing.   3. You take medications from time to time. Many medications can deplete nutrients, for example: •  Birth control pills deplete B-vitamins.•  Antacids deplete calcium, vitamin D and vitamin B12.•  Anti-inflammatory drugs deplete vitamin C and folic acid.•  Diuretics deplete potassium, calcium, magnesium, vitamin C, B1 and B6. Vitamins and minerals are called micronutrients because your body needs only tiny amounts of them, yet they have powerful effects. Taking a multivitamin ensures you get all the essential nutrients you need to function at your best.

Feeling Blue? 10 Ways to Beat the Winter Blues, Naturally

Feeling Blue? 10 Ways to Beat the Winter Blues, Naturally By: Doctor Marita Schauch, BSc, ND. When the clocks turned back at the beginning of November and the days started to grow shorter & darker, winter seemed on the horizon. Then, even the best of us can get a little down. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), also known as winter depression or winter blues, is a mood disorder in which people with normal mental health throughout most of the year experience depressive symptoms in the winter months, when the days are shorter, darker and full of unpredictable weather. Experts say that SAD affects 40 million North Americans, and 75 – 80 percent of those afflicted are women. SAD has also been observed in children, who may be irritable, have difficulty getting out of bed, and experience problems in school during the fall and winter months. The lack of sunlight can cause symptoms like fatigue, oversleeping, overeating, carbohydrate cravings, mild depression, irritation and loss of pleasure and interest in life. The Biology of SAD The specific cause of SAD remains unknown, but there are several theories proposed that might come into play: One theory is the reduced level of sunlight in fall and winter may disrupt the body’s internal “biological clock” (circadian rhythm), causing hormones, sleep and mood to be unbalanced. Melatonin seems to be one of the players in this imbalance, as this hormone plays a role in sleep patterns and mood. A drop in serotonin, a brain chemical (neurotransmitter) that affects mood, might also play a role in SAD, as reduced sunlight can cause a drop in serotonin levels leading to feelings of depression. Whatever the cause of your SAD, there are many natural approaches that can provide considerable relief for suffers of the winter blues. 10 Natural Ways to Un-SAD Yourself 1. Light Up Your Life Light therapy is one of the easiest, most non-invasive and natural ways to treat SAD. There are numerous research studies supporting the beneficial effects of light therapy for SAD. Special light boxes which provide 10,000 lux are used to stimulate light exposure and are available online and at various stores. The daily goal is 30 to 60 minutes of direct facial exposure in the morning, as this has the added bonus of resetting the circadian rhythm and stopping daytime melatonin secretion. Performed in this way, light therapy has been found to be as effective as fluoxetine (Prozac) in relieving SAD. 2. Get Moving Exercise increases the body’s production of endorphins – chemical substances that can relieve depression. It can be tough to exercise in the winter, but find an exercise buddy to encourage daily movement and to help keep you motivated. Join a gym, climb stairs, walk at a mall, swim at an indoor pool, or sign up for one of the many fitness programs offered by your local community centre. 3. Up Your Vitamin D Research supports a connection between low vitamin D levels and SAD. Vitamin D, actually a hormone, needs UVB sun exposure in order to be processed in the body. Most data supports daily doses of 2000 IU of vitamin D3. Food sources include cold water, fatty fish like cod, salmon, sardines, herring and fortified cereals and milks (Milaneschi Y. et al. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2010). 4. Try 5HTP A supplement called 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is the precursor to serotonin, our “happy hormone.” When taken orally, 5HTP helps increase serotonin levels in the brain, thus alleviating many of the symptoms of SAD (W.F. Byerley et al. Clin Psychopharmacol. 1987). 5. Balance Your Blood Sugar Carbohydrate cravings and bingeing can aggravate feelings of depression by altering blood sugar levels. Eat healthy protein sources such as organic free-range meats, nuts and seeds, eggs and legumes, and eat more frequently during the day (5 smaller meals instead of 3 larger ones). Choose complex carbohydrates such as fruits, whole grains and vegetables instead of simple carbohydrates like white flours and refined sugars. 6. Omega 3 Fatty Acids Fish oils (which contain very high levels of Omega-3s) have been shown to be deficient in people who suffer from SAD. Omega-3s are important for all around brain function, inflammation, skin/hair/nails and heart health (J.R. Hibbeln and N. Salem. Am J Clin Nutr. 1995). 7. Mind your B’s and Seratonin Cues B Vitamins are also effective in maintaining adequate serotonin levels. Be sure that the B-complex supplement contains all the essential B vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, B6, B12, folic acid and pantothenic acid (B5). 8. The Wort you Want St. John’s Wort has been shown to have a positive effect on serotonin, dopamine and melatonin, thus improving symptoms of depression and SAD. Although St. John’s wort extract is effective on its own, when combined with light therapy there seems to be an even more significant improvement in symptoms o ...