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Archive for the ‘naturopathic medicine’ Category

Fall Immunity Boosting Secrets

Posted on: October 11th, 2019 by TouchStone Health

By: Melanie Reidl, Naturopathic Doctor

With the start of fall, there is so much beauty to enjoy. However, along with fall colours and apples, cold and flu season has begun.  To help you avoid your Kleenex box, I will share my top 5 tactics to aid in avoiding cold and flu viruses!

1)  Sleep + Minimize Stress –  I’ve seen it time and time again, those who skip on sleep and go through stressful weeks end up sick.  Stick to a regular sleep schedule as much as possible, and incorporate stress reducing activities and mindfulness into your daily routine.

2) Avoid Sugar, Refined Carbohydrates + Alcohol – Sugar and high glycemic index foods cause a depression in white blood cell count within 12 hours of consuming them. This means you’re more likely to fall sick since your body doesn’t have the same defences.

3) Eat Foods with Protein, Zinc, Selenium, and Vitamin C – Each of the nutrients listed has an important role in immunity. A mindfully planned whole foods diet will include them, however if you’d like more direction with this, we can create a meal plan for you that includes the right immunity super foods!

4) Supplement with Vitamin D3 in Therapeutic Doses – With less sunlight and lower UV exposure in the fall/winter, it is important to supplement with Vitamin D3 at a therapeutic dose that will give your immune system what it needs.

5) Keep Your Gut Healthy – Eat probiotic and prebiotic foods, avoid sugar, and supplement with specific probiotic strains to keep your microbiome healthy. The healthier your gut/microbiome is, the better your defences will be against viruses + bacteria.

***If cold/flu symptoms do come on, there are lots of amazing natural remedies that can expedite your recovery and have you feeling better!  Schedule to see Dr. Nevena (who is covering for Melanie’s maternity leave) if you need some naturopathic support to fight a cold/flu or to prevent recurrent infections this fall. 

Lessons Learned from my Fertility Journey

Posted on: February 20th, 2019 by TouchStone Health

By Melanie Reidl, Naturopathic Doctor

2018 was a difficult year for me, to say the least. One of my fears became a reality, I was struggling with trying to conceive and was experiencing significant anxiety and depression about it. I wanted to share a little about my fertility journey in this article, as I have so many patients, friends, and family members who have had their own fertility challenges and I know it can be a very isolating and distressing experience.

Going through my own fertility challenges has given me insight and compassion for others who are also going through it. The extensive testing, frequent appointments, worry, sadness, relationship stress…I’ve been there. But I do know that your experience can really depend on the approach you choose to take toward your fertility journey. When I started going to a fertility clinic this summer, I was overcome with anxiety, fear, and distrust. I didn’t trust in my body, my decisions, the doctor… and the experience became very scary for me.

Life circumstances required me to take a short break from care with the fertility clinic. During this time, I decided that I was tired of feeling like my fertility was out of my control. I took my health into my hands and I started to take better care of myself. I wanted to do what I could to improve my fertility, naturally. So, I nourished my body with whole foods. I moved my body in ways that felt good: yoga and walking. I made sleep a priority. I took high quality supplements to support my nutritional status, egg quality, and hormonal balance. I started meditating to calm my mind at night and practiced mindfulness. I used affirmations and chose to think more positive thoughts.

After a few months, I felt ready to return to the fertility clinic, but this time I decided to go in with a new outlook. I trusted my body more, felt more confident in my decisions, and trusted my great doctor. I began to feel a sense of empowerment over my health and fertility. I no longer felt anxious about the experience, I felt excited about it. After all, it was leading me to (hopefully) conceiving!

With time and patience, my body responded to all of the self-care I had been doing. I started to get regular ovulatory menstrual cycles again. My bloodwork showed that my hormones were doing exactly what they should be. My ultrasounds showed that my follicles were growing and that I was ovulating. With each piece of encouraging news, I started to trust and love my body more and more for the amazing things it was doing for me.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned from this journey is to TRUST. Trust is the opposite of anxiety. When you trust in your body, yourself, your doctors, the universe… you will feel calmer and more at peace with your journey. Feeling calmer and more at peace is also exactly the state you want to be in to allow your nervous system to relax and support healthy conception. 🙂

Please let Melanie know if you have any questions ( MelanieReidlND@gmail.com ).

A Naturopathic Approach to Infertility

Posted on: January 22nd, 2019 by TouchStone Health

by Melanie Reidl, Naturopathic Doctor

For those of you struggling with infertility, I understand the pain. As an ND who has gone through it, I understand the worry, sadness, and stress it can cause. Even finding the right practitioners and the right treatment approach can be a challenge. From my own fertility journey, to the many patients I’ve supported on theirs, I have seen the magic of naturopathic medicine alone or alongside conventional fertility care.

In this article, I wanted to outline the assessment and treatment approach, and modalities that I use when a patient comes to me for fertility support.  In some cases, a specific diagnosis for the infertility has been made, and we would start treatment. In other cases, patients come to me with ‘unexplained infertility’ and I will spend the time necessary to help uncover reasons for the infertility.

In the case of ‘unexplained infertility’, I often run some laboratory tests to more thoroughly check thyroid function and hormones such as cortisol, estrogen, and progesterone. This helps to determine if there are subtle abnormalities with the thyroid or hormones that are impacting fertility. I also have these patients track their BBT (basal body temperature) and ovulation signs so that we can monitor the cycle and increase fertility awareness.

Once a diagnosis has been established, we focus on treatment. As far as treatment goals, they include the following:

1) Optimize egg/sperm quality,  

2) Balance hormones

3) Treat the specific cause of infertility

4) Support mental-emotional health (a very important piece!)

Treatment modalities that I frequently use with my fertility patients include the following:

1) Nutritional Medicine

2) Lifestyle Medicine

3) Herbs/Botanical Medicine

4) Acupuncture

5) Counselling & Mindfulness techniques.

Nutrition involves a dietary assessment, individualized dietary guidelines, and nutrient supplementation. Lifestyle medicine involves an assessment of one’s current lifestyle and introducing changes that support fertility such as exercise and sleep recommendations, and specific stress reduction strategies. Herbs can be very powerful in the treatment of infertility. There are several that have been studied and found to regulate the menstrual cycle and improve conception rates. Acupuncture has also been well studied and has been found to be a great supportive treatment in infertility. I find that acupuncture, in addition to mindfulness techniques can really improve patients’ mental-emotional health and support the relaxation of the nervous system that is needed for healthy conception.

An individualized approach to infertility is so important, since there are so many possible causes and reasons for it. This is why seeing and ND can be so helpful; the holistic and individualized assessment and treatment approach lends itself to fertility care. As an ND who has been there herself, I strive to be a compassionate practitioner who sees and supports you as a beautiful person going through a challenging time, not as an infertility diagnosis.

 

A Promise…

Posted on: January 13th, 2019 by TouchStone Health

Written by: Amanda Cressman, N.D.

The New Years is generally a time of reflection and creation of goals and plans for the coming year.  20 years ago I created a resolution of sorts with myself and have been asked to share it here.  It’s one I have spoken about numerous times in my office and I hope it may be of interest to you, if you’re reading this.

When I was 19 years old, I was in my first year of university and was doing my best to be successful in all aspects of life.  I was in a science program that was challenging, living in a dorm with lots of people and away from home for the first time.  To give you more context, I didn’t know it then but I was a perfectionist…or at least on the spectrum – expecting the best from myself and frustrated and embarrassed when this wasn’t achieved.  I had a ton of friends…I literally was invited to 50 weddings in 7 years.  I was that girl…the girl everyone was friends with, who floated easily between cliques and groups of friends and somehow made connections in them. I was about 30-40 lbs heavier than what I am now and I went to each of these weddings alone…single which was difficult but was my reality.  I share these details to help you gain more understanding as to why this resolution was created.

So, one day in the Math Building at University of Waterloo, I got back a calculus test and didn’t do well.  I did ok, but ok was never enough for me, it needed to be great.  I was known as the ‘smart’ girl growing up and not achieving well in school shattered this core part of my identity.  Upon getting the mark, I did what I always did in times like that….I went for it…and began criticizing and basically yelling at myself.  My inner dialog was mean, harsh, shaming and malicious.  And it didn’t just stop at not achieving the mark I thought I should have, it was relentless and began attacking my body, my personality, every shortcoming it could see, it attacked.  In those moments I would freeze, almost like a child receiving punishment, waiting for it to be over….for my sense of worth to be trampled on before moving on with my day.  But for some reason, something was different this day.  I was struck with a new thought, that this behaviour was hypocritical…that if I were to talk to any of my friends the way I talked to myself, that they would be appalled and I would have no friends.  For some reason, this dissonance was very unsettling and wasn’t ok.  I have always strived to be authentic as best I can and this was the opposite of that.

So, I did something that was very un-me.  I went out shopping and spent money on myself.  I bought myself a ring as rings had represented something very special to me – the symbol of worth.  And instead of waiting for someone to give me this gift, it was time to give it to myself.  So, I bought myself a promise ring and made a commitment to work at being my own friend.  Each time I would catch myself criticizing or judging myself, I would rub my ring and say, “What would you want your best friend to say to you?” and I would say it to myself.  It was actually really hard for the first bit and was challenging as trying to be an authentic person…the compliment felt very inauthentic.  But I kept with it and 20 years later, I’m on my 3rd ring with the compliments finally feeling easy and becoming more of my natural narrative.  It’s still a process, one that needs attention and care but changing anything is just that…a process.

New Years Resolutions are a wonderful symbol of the desire to change but a game plan is needed to implement the change on a day to day basis, especially when it really counts.  I am so grateful for that moment in the Math Building when the realization that the narrative had to change to ensure I was being authentic and able to lead a kinder and happier life.

Happy New Years to you and hoping whatever resolution you have created, that it’s one that creates health and well being for you on all levels.

Amanda Cressman, N.D.

 

What are your big rocks?

Posted on: December 10th, 2018 by TouchStone Health

Change of season often brings with it just that…change.  The easy going energy of summer and transitionary time of fall have passed and we often find ourselves busy with routine once again.  Amongst the winter season brings physical and emotional stressors…particularly the months of December-February.  Kitchener Waterloo is a busy city with very busy people.  I see many people in my office trying to juggle a lot and often come in when the stress has become too much, resulting in anxiety, depressed mood, insomnia, etc.  For many, prioritizing self and our health can be tricky when so much is asked of us.

It’s a time to ensure care for self is a priority as this season often brings increased expectations and busyness.

I once heard this great story about a teacher from an elementary class who wanted to remind his students about the importance of priorities.  Apparently this is a true story.

Each kid was given:

  • a gallon jar with the lid
  • a pile of sand
  • 4 large rocks
  • a pile of gravel
  • handful of little rocks
  • a pitcher of water

The teacher asked the students to fit everything into the jar and they attempted to do so.  Many combinations were tried but after 10-15 minutes they gave up, saying it was impossible.  The teacher then showed them how to strategically fit everything into the glass jar, proving it wasn’t impossible.  First the large rocks went in, staggered upon each other.  Next were the little rocks, that fit in between the empty spaces, then the gravel, then the sand and finally, the water.  Each smaller item filled the spots that were left open and finally the lid was put on.

The teacher then shared with his class, the point of the exercise: Life is always going to be very full…with demands and expectations from various areas of ones life and our job is to figure out what the ‘big rocks’ are and ensure they are a priority.

I was told this story about 25 years ago and have remembered it.  As I have grown, the prediction of that teacher proved true – that life is full with expectations coming from so many places.  But when I have identified what my ‘big rocks’ are and ensured they fit into my jar/life first – everything else seems to sort itself out.  The key for me though, was remembering that my ‘big rocks’ change from time to time….some weeks/months demand something different where a former ‘big rock’ has needed to become a ‘small rock’ in this analogy.

This simple example reminded me that there needs to be fluidity in our lives with our goals/ideals.  Life is full of varying experiences and we need to support ourselves amongst that diversity.

I hope this simple story is helpful, reminding you to honour what your ‘big rocks’ are and knowing that nothing is set in stone, per say…things can change from time to time.  But give space for honouring them and seeing if everything you desire fits in the jar more easily and readily thereafter.

Amanda Cressman, N.D. Naturopathic Doctor

Finding Balance

Posted on: April 5th, 2018 by TouchStone Health

This past season I have found it very difficult to find balance…something that I strive for and value deeply.  I can struggle with the cold weather, particularly if that cold weather makes it difficult to be outside and definitely if it involves a lack of sun.  It’s been a hard and long winter season for a variety of personal reasons too and with that comes thoughts and reflections about behaviours and patterns that I often do throughout the winter season that don’t always do a great job of creating balance.

Solitary Stool
If you’ve spoken with me before, you know I speak about the stool analogy when it comes to balance….the four legged wooden kind of stool, not to be confused with speaking about bowel movements, although that is an important and helpful discussion, as well.  I love this analogy, as many people understand it and often connect well to it. I often say, if you and your well being are the seat of the stool, you are held up by 4 legs – the mental leg, the emotional leg, the physical leg and the spiritual leg. Sometimes we make the stool a tripod, if that last leg is not a match for the individual.  And my job, as a Naturopath is to figure out why the stool is toppling. In this analogy, maybe one stool leg is extra long, making it topple over, or maybe one leg is incredibly short and thin. For some, the mental leg takes the brunt, for others it’s the physical leg. Regardless of what it is, I find it fascinating to see how we all work at doing our best to create balance amongst adversity and stress.

Many people come to see me for physical reasons and as we begin dialog, the focus is on the physical leg of the stool, but as we dive in deeper to the root cause of the problem, we often uncover other legs of the stool to be at the root of the problem.  Let’s use me for an example. In previous years I have created a wonderful habit of running almost each morning. I wake up early and run with my dog to clear my head, feel nature and get some physical exercise. I work at eating a clean diet…clean meaning no gluten and dairy for me with my specific health concerns and limiting sweets, even fruit as I love sweet food, but can struggle with insulin regulation.  Everything in my world feels and works better if I maintain exercise and clean eating. I physically feel great, emotionally am more stable and mentally am sharp….I love this place, as it’s me feeling something I adore, balance. But, at the end of January someone very close to me passed away when I had a few other stressful things happening at the same time, it felt like the emotional leg of the stool got yanked out from under me and I was flustering to achieve balance in the other legs.  The mental, spiritual and physical legs of the stool were doing their best to compensate to ensure I stayed upright but life changed. I stopped running as I didn’t have time/ability to do so daily, my clean eating went out the window as I physically couldn’t grocery shop easily or have energy to food prep and I started getting into old patterns of behaviour to compensate for my heart feeling broken.

As a culture, we are notorious for avoiding being present with difficult situations/pain.  We distract and numb ourselves through television, food, social media, etc. and all the while our emotional leg of the stool is not actually being nurtured while the other legs of the stool are suffering, desperately working at creating balance for the whole.  These distractions and changes in behaviour can have a time and a place, but the tricky thing is catching when the compensation becomes a pattern and then a habit. For me, this past winter, I started watching tv shows at night – positive, lovely shows but it was distraction from feeling what was real for me.  I stopped journaling regularly, as it was hard to be real with the hurt and I started baking often as this is a comfort for me. Even if my baking choices are raw vegan desserts and technically “healthy”, they are still desserts and connecting to a pattern I developed as a child, that when I was sad, food would numb the hurt.

The body is an amazing thing, always striving for balance or homeostasis, a medical term for essentially the same thing. I see many people in my practice where the physical leg of the stool is in rough shape – but if that’s happening for you, consider thinking about the stool analogy and what events got you to where you are today.  Yes, that physical leg of the stool will need care and support but as that leg gets stronger, the other legs can be nurtured and are often the real reason we are off balance in the first place.

For me, I know the warmth and sun of next week will help.  I have supported my adrenals the past few weeks which have helped give energy and motivation to consider cleaning up my diet and food patterns.  I have good supports that I have used to help sort out the past events and I have once again, run daily. My runs are slow and not super long, my diet could be even cleaner with better prep work, but I’m feeling more balanced and stronger again with an improved inner resilience.

This past season has been hard for many and this culture we live in, particularly, the culture of Kitchener-Waterloo is unbalanced.  We are driven, busy and stressed out people. See which leg of the stool in this analog needs nurturing for yourself and seek out that balance.  Whether it’s doing more social events, improving your physical exercise regime, taking up a creative hobby, clean eating, meditating, having alone time…work at creating the specific balance you need.  The journey is much easier when the stool is not toppling.

Hoping that you are able to feel supported and balanced into the coming season.

 Amanda Cressman, N.D.

Golden Milk

Posted on: November 13th, 2016 by TouchStone Health

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You may have heard about this in recent months/years but for some it’s new.  Golden Tea – or Turmeric Tea as it’s also known is a delicious (honestly, delicious) warm beverage to consider for this winter season.

I love warm drinks but sometimes grow tired of watery tea and want something more full and robust in flavour.  I secretly love hot chocolates and cafe mocha’s but need to drink on rare occasions as caffeine and I are not great friends.

So, why choose turmeric in your warm milk beverage?  Here are some reasons:

-it’s a strong antioxidant

-decreases inflammation

-supports liver detoxification

-aids in digestive function

-great for sports injuries

-it’s an anti-microbial

-cardiovascular support

-great at whitening teeth

So, it’s pretty fantastic and wonderful when used in a delicious recipe.  There are many recipes out there for Golden Milks/Lattes, etc but this is my favourite.  Turmeric Tea/Golden Tea Recipe from Wellness Mama

This tea may not be right for you, so always check with your Naturopathic Doctor before drinking (especially if frequently) to ensure it’s the right match for you, your health condition or medications you are currently taking.

Hope you enjoy.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this website is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice or instruction, it is provided for educational purposes only. This information shouldn’t take the place of seeing a Naturopathic Doctor on any matter relating to health or well-being.

My Favourite Gluten Free Recipes to help you create your Menu

Posted on: July 6th, 2016 by TouchStone Health

Going Gluten-free (GF) can be intimidating and many people don’t know where to start.  Whether you’re trying it out to see how you feel, needing to do so for health reasons or trying to cook/bake for someone who is GF…it can feel overwhelming.

Here is a list of some tried and true recipe ideas that I have enjoyed.  If you know me, you know I’m not a great cook…I don’t enjoy spending a lot of time in the kitchen and the last thing I want is needing to go to various stores to get different ingredients.  These recipes are generally – easy to make and you can buy most ingredients from either your local grocery store (Zehrs health section is usually the best match for me) and Bulk Barn.

See what you think and I hope these recipe ideas taste great for you too. (And most of these recipes are dairy free as well or allow for dairy-free substitutions.)

Breakfast Ideas

Grain-free Berry Granola – Healthful Pursuit

Banana Oat Blender Pancakes – Kitchen Treaty

Coconut Flour Chocolate Crepes – Healthful Pursuit

Sweet Potato Hash – Healthful Pursuit

Carrot Cake Baked Oatmeal – Oh She Glows

Soft and Chewy Sugar Free Granola Bars – Oh She Glows

Almond Flour Pancakes – Comfy Belly

Fluffy Coconut Flour Pancakes – Comfy Belly

Quinoa Granola – Comfy Belly

Blueberry Syrup – Nourishing Meals

Gluten Free Raspberry Scones – The Roasted Root

Mochaccino Chia Breakfast Pudding – Joyous Health

The Life-Changing Loaf of Bread – My New Roots

SMOOTHIES – here are Greatist’s 54 Top Smoothie Recipes

SMOOTHIE BOWLS – here are Greatist’s Top Smoothie Bowl Recipes  and some more that are Dairy Free Top Smoothie Bowl Recipes

Lunch Ideas

Spiralized Thai Salad Recipe – Against All Grain

Sea Salt Rosemary Zucchini Chips – Joyous Health

 My Favourite Detox Salad – Eat Yourself Skinny

Veggie Summer Rolls with Peanut Sauce – Avocado Pesto

Soft Gluten Free Sandwich Bread – A Little Insanity

10 Minute Grain Free Paleo Bread – Shiny Happy Food

Dinner Ideas

Coconut Cauliflower Rice – Healthful Pursuit

Sweet Potato Chickpea Buddha Bowl – Minimalist Baker 

Spicy Buddha Bowl – Crazy Vegan Kitchen

Sweet Potato Pizza Crust – Blissful Basil

Cauliflower Pizza Crust – Detoxinista

Zucchini Noodles with Creamy Avocado Pesto- Eat Yourself Skinny

Curried Cauliflower Soup – Cookie and Kate

Dessert Ideas

Black Bean Chia Brownies – Joyous Health

One Bowl Jumbo Chocolate Chunk Cookies – Oh She Glows

Fudge-tastic Brownies – Healthful Pursuit

Grain-free and Vegan Flourless Fudge Cookies – Healthful Pursuit

Raw Chocolate Cheesecake – Comfy Belly

Real Deal Chocolate Chip Cookies – Against All Grain

Fudgy Chocolate Tarts – Against All Grain

Banana Bread – Comfy Belly

Flourless Chocolate Pumpkin Muffins – Running with Spoons

Flourless Banana Bread Muffins – Running with Spoons

Fudgy Paleo Beetroot Brownies – The Roasted Root

Chocolate Avocado Pudding – Pop Sugar

Cassava Banana Bread – Paleo Running Momma

Pumpkin Bread with Chocolate Chips Paleo – Paleo Running Momma

Sweet Potato Brownies – Paleo OMG

Snacks

Chocolate Gelatin Bars – The Healthy You Project

Crunch Raw Protein Balls – The Healthy Family and Home

Homemade Gummy Candies – Healthful Pursuit – Use a juice of your choice

Date Energy Balls – Detoxinista

Mint Chocolate Truffle Bites – A Virtual Vegan

Classic Almond and Cacao Energy Balls – Deliciously Ella

Dr. Amanda Cressman, N.D.

Need Help Eating More Veggies? Spiralize!

Posted on: June 19th, 2016 by TouchStone Health

Have you been in a slump with finding new and exciting ways of eating more veggies?  I can fall into a pattern of eating the same vegetables, prepared in the same way and it can get boring.  I was recently given a spiralizer and have had a lot of fun discovering new ways to enjoy more vegetables.  For some reason creating noodle like cuts of vegetables makes them more exciting and fun to eat.  And not just for my kids…it seems to work that way for everyone.  We all love playing with the long noodle-like carrot/beet/cucumber/zucchini cuts of vegetables.

If you want to learn more about spiralizing, check out this website, Inspiralized with information about what vegetables to spiralize and cooking techniques.

And I’d like to share a great recipe that tastes fantastic and will help increase your vegetable intake while decreasing your grain consumption.  It’s fantastic and comes from Eat Yourself Skinny.   See what you think and let me know if it was a hit in your home too.

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By: Amanda Cressman, ND. Naturopathic Doctor.

 

A Delicious Green Smoothie

Posted on: April 29th, 2016 by TouchStone Health

I have been on the hunt for a delicious green smoothie.  And, they are actually a bit hard to find.  I have made some weird concoctions with all types of vegetables (cabbage included) that have promised to be delicious but weren’t.  But I finally found one.

A patient introduced me to The Minimalist Baker.   She has delicious recipes with 10 or less ingredients and this Creamy Pineapple Cucumber Smoothie was a great find.

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So, why are green smoothies great?

  • They are nutritious with offering vegetables alongside their fruit counterparts.  Most green smoothies have about a 60/40 ratio of fruit/vegetables but if you’re comfortable you can aim for 50/50.  Some smoothies can rack up calories and sugar with only having fruit in them.
  • You have a more nutritionally dense smoothie that offers more vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
  • The alkalinizing benefit of the greens.  The body is always striving for balance, including its pH.  The Standard American/Canadian Diet is very acidic in nature (meat, animal products, processed foods, sugar).  A green smoothie is very alkaline, offering a better balance to your pH.
  • They are easier to digest due to being pulverized and blended.  Some people can’t digest raw greens well but in a smoothie, you can consume your raw greens, enjoying the benefit of their nutrition without compromising a bloated tummy with gas.
  • Great for your bowels.  Liquid food is notorious for helping with constipation and adding greens accentuates this.  The added fiber and water content of the greens helps keep you hydrated and ensures your bowel movements are easier to pass.
  • Who should avoid green smoothies?  If you have a history of kidney stones, particularly oxalate stones, talk to your healthcare provider before consuming too many of these.

It’s not too difficult to add spinach or kale to a smoothie without altering the flavour.  Try this recipe and see if green smoothies are something you’d want to incorporate into your diet.  This one is so delicious, you’ll forget how healthy it is.

*This website is for information purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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