If you’re wanting to conceive this spring/summer, you’ve got just enough time to focus on your preconception health! Because it takes approximately 100 days to impact egg and sperm quality as they mature, I recommend that both partners begin their ‘trying’ journey by taking 3-4 months to prepare their bodies and minds.
As a women’s health, fertility, and perinatal care-focused ND, my goal is to help you achieve a healthy pregnancy and baby. I struggled with my own fertility and pregnancy issues, so I truly understand the emotional impact as well as the need for a more holistic and integrative approach to preconception healthcare and fertility.
Preconception healthcare can help treat the root cause of fertility issues, can reduce risk of miscarriage or pregnancy complications, and improve fertility treatment outcomes. It can also ensure the best possible start for your baby, as the beginning of a child’s life has been shown to influence his/her health as an adult.
A preconception healthcare approach with me includes the following: lab testing, diet and lifestyle modifications, stress reduction and mindfulness practices, and individualized supplementation protocols.
Lab tests are done to determine thyroid function, hormone levels, nutrient levels such as iron, B12, and vitamin D3, and more depending on my assessment of your current health and health history.
Individualized dietary and lifestyle modifications are essential: they set the foundation for optimal fertility! I help my patients establish a whole foods fertility diet and healthy lifestyle habits such as optimizing sleep and exercise. Stress reduction and mindfulness practices are woven into their plan as stress has a significant impact on fertility.
Finally, individualized supplementation protocols are provided to each of my patients. The supplements I select help to optimize preconception nutritional status, and treat any underlying disorders/imbalances that may impact fertility.
I find it truly amazing how getting diet, lifestyle, stress reduction/mindfulness practices, and supplementation right can make the world of a difference in fertility and pregnancy outcomes. If you or someone you know is beginning their journey, I would be so happy and honoured to help.
Water is one of the most vital things for human life. Without water we would all be dead within 4 days to a week. As morbid as that may be, it shows how essential it is for human life. Collectively the human body is between 60-66% water, that’s a pretty large percentage! This percentage is even larger when the human fetus is developing in the womb (up to 80%). Our bones contain about 30% water, and it is a main component of all fluids in our body.
Water is involved in many important functions such as:
- Body temperature regulation
- Elimination of waste
- Elimination of toxins
- Digestion and absorption
- The carrying of electrolytes
That’s just to name a few. In a 24 hour day we lose 1.5 liters of water through urine only. Also an additional 400ml through the breath, 150ml through feces and 750ml through our skin. That equals 2.8 liters of water loss every single day. The simple answer would be to say that 2.8 liters is the amount of water we should be drinking each day. However, the body can make a small amount of water by metabolizing certain nutrients and we also receive water directly from food. This still leaves us with an average of 1-1.5 liters of water that we need to get from elsewhere.
Why 6-8 glasses?
Why does this magic number ‘6-8’ appear everywhere? It’s because 6-8 cups are an estimated daily intake that stems back to a 1945 US Food and Nutrition Board recommendation. A little outdated if you ask me! Water intake will vary depending on your size, activity level, climate, and your diet. It should be completely individualized to you!
The consequences of not drinking enough water:
With all the functions adequate water consumption supports, there is bound to be a host of negative things that can happen to our bodies when we lack proper hydration. Dehydration can affect both our physical and mental health. Water protects our organs and digestive system. Dehydration can cause gastric ulcers, asthma, allergies, high blood pressure, irritation, migraines, lupus, light headedness, and chronic fatigue. It can even cause things like joint pain since cartilage cushioning requires water to remain fluid and function properly. A lot of these symptoms can be missed or be mistaken to be caused from other ailments.
Is there a maximum amount of water you should intake?
Drinking above around 2 liters daily can be harmful to your body. Too much water can be hard on your kidneys, causing over hydration. In severe cases, you can die. A few cases have been seen in marathon runners or people who take certain drugs, disturbing their thirst reflex. Keep in mind there has been far more people who have died from dehydration than over hydration. It is rare, but it can happen.
How should we get water into our diet?
We should get water from water, and we should never try to obtain hydration simply from sugary pops and coffee. Water is the simplest form of hydration. There is a ton of debate about what water is best. However, a high elevation spring water seems to be the cleanest and purest source but realistically it is not attainable for all. Tap or city water can contain a horrible amount of toxins. It can be hard to know what dangers can be found in our tap water, for this reason, I recommend water that has had some type of filtration. Installing a reverse osmosis tap would be a great option. Cost wise this may not be an option for many, in that case I recommend the Santevia jug filters. Any filtration is better than none!
In summary, water is absolutely life sustaining. Sadly, I feel that much of the world’s Western population lives day to day unknowingly dehydrated. If you haven’t already, add proper hydration to the top of your health goals and you will soon see the difference it can make in your daily life!
Bonnie enjoys working with people of all ages to promote movement, healing and relaxation. She works with a firm touch but likes to work with clients to find a comfortable depth of massage for each individual.
by Jill Jackson, CNP
You may have heard the term “adrenal fatigue” as it is slowly gaining popularity in the media, but what is it? How can we fix our adrenals? Today we will briefly be discussing just that!
The purpose of the adrenal glands is to respond to stressors. This includes all types of stress whether it be physical, emotional, or environmental. The adrenals enable your body to deal with stressors ranging from the common cold to relationship problems. Your energy, endurance, vitality, and your very life depend all on well-functioning adrenals.
Underactive adrenals can be labeled as “adrenal fatigue”. While not generally considered a life-threatening medical emergency by conventional doctors, there are still a handful of life changing side effects. It is often caused by an excess of stress over a period of time. Stress can be cumulative, and everybody has a different tolerance to stress.
Some of the symptoms include generalized extreme fatigue (despite adequate sleep), general feeling of unwellness, eyes that are sensitive to light, fluctuating blood pressure (often too low), mood swings, suppressed immune system, excessive perspiration, prone to crying, and emotional upset causing complete exhaustion, the list could go on and on.
However, if that list sounds like you, the good news is with proper guidance and nutrition the adrenals can be repaired to a highly functioning state. You may want to try some of these suggestions:
- Remove caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol.
- Make sure you are getting adequate sleep. The more sleep the better.
- Talk to a nutritionist or naturopath about trying restorative supplements like ashwagandha, rhodiola or acerola cherry for adrenal health.
- Exercise! The key here is balance as both over and under exertion can act as a stressor.
- Limit or remove dairy, processed foods, white sugars, artificial sweeteners, and fried foods. Swap them out for a diet filled with fresh fruits and veggies!
- Stay hydrated. Aim to drink 1.5-2L of water a day.
- Focus changing your attitude and having a positive disposition on life!
Adrenal fatigue may sometimes be scary, but restoration is possible with a little time and dedication to healing. It is a condition far more common than you may think, you are not alone! Once again, my biggest recommendation is taking guidance from a professional (a Nutritionist or Naturopath) and educating yourself on adrenal health. One of my favorite resources for all
things adrenal health is the book “Adrenal Fatigue – The 21 st Century Stress Syndrome” by James L. Wilson. It is an easy yet informative read. Please contact me if you would like more information on this important topic and remember healing is possible.
Jill Jackson, CNP, NNCP
By: Amanda Cressman, N.D.
It’s been awhile since I have posted anything as there has been much change these past few months for me. I have taken my own advice when it comes to self care and have given myself the gift of time, to think, to feel, to reflect and wish to share some of those reflections with you.
It’s interesting as the last post I wrote was affirming Glennon Doyle’s words…”we can do hard things” which has been an especially important message for me these past few months. Since I last wrote, we are in the midst of another lockdown, we are in the middle of winter in the longest yet shortest month of the year, it’s so cold that it’shard to be outside and active and it’s a time when many are struggling with anxiety, depression, lack of motivation and sadness. It’s been a lot once again.
And since September, I have attempted to write an article on burnout five times. This is very uncharacteristic of me because when I set out to do something, I usually do it. Yet, each time I was about to publish an article another thing happened in my life, preventing me from completing it. I felt I couldn’t publish it because the truth was, I was spiraling into burnout myself, so it didn’t feel authentic to speak about it when I was experiencing it.
Let me explain. A word that has been spoken about a lot in the past year is grief. The Harvard Business Review published an article in March of 2020 called, That Discomfort You’re Feeling Is Grief. I think for a lot of people that
article was helpful in identifying a big part of what they were experiencing but possibly not knowing what it was. For many people the grief they felt was loss of freedom, loss of income, loss of certainty, loss of stability…the list was long. So much change, so much loss…so much for our bodies and minds to process. That article was helpful for me in naming what I was experiencing but also was foreboding with what was to come.
The beginning of the year was marked with a lot of change in my personal life with a friend losing a sibling, followed by a friend being given a terminal diagnosis, followed by a pandemic that changed my home and work life. It was a lot within 5 weeks. It’s interesting when we are faced with stress, what our bodies do. I usually go into ‘doing’ mode…I start making to-do lists, I have projects, I wake up early, I stay up late to get things done. It’s like the dial on my nervous system gets turned up a few notches and I respond with doing. That doing can easily translate into what I call, a Wired but Tired adrenal response but with time and with grief, I couldn’t keep continuing on at that intensity. My usual way of being and doing wasn’t possible anymore. My nervous system was too overwhelmed and I felt it through lack of motivation, through fatigue, through brain fog and sadness. But life does what life does, it moves on, requiring us to evolve, to adapt and I did that…perhaps more reluctantly than usual, but I did it. With time, I adjusted to our ‘new normal’ but it was all a lot heavier than before. And, in June my friend passed away which knocked down most of the resiliency I had left and as I was attempting to rebuild myself back up, my father died by suicide…and the collapse into burnout happened.
I’m not one who writes a lot about myself or my personal journey. It’s something I don’t readily do, but in this case, I felt it was important. A common theme discussed in my Naturopathic appointments that has been augmented this past year, is that people feel very alone. Although this may seem obvious, as many people are physically alone, it extends beyond this – that even when people are in dialog with others through video chats, phone calls, texts and through their work, many people don’t feel seen, don’t feel heard and ultimately, don’t feel understood. This is one of the most heartbreaking experiences of this pandemic, how alone people feel.
Brene Brown has highlighted for us the importance of vulnerability, of authentically showing up. This is tricky in the best of times, but especially difficult when things are hard. For me, as a healthcare provider, this is particularly difficult and why I feel it is important to share. Our usual Canadian greeting of, ‘how are you doing?” with the expected response of ‘fine’ or ‘good’ is no longer working, which I’m grateful for. It’s important to show up and let others know how we are doing…how we are really doing, especially when it’s hard.
Many people are not doing well. They are genuinely struggling and fear that in sharing this with others, it will be unwelcome, perceived as negativity or complaining. We can very easily compare our grief and our struggles to
others…assuming that if someone else is going through something hard that we perceive to be bigger than our own, then we are not able to share openly about our struggles. Although perspective is important and discernment has a place, we can’t compare the struggles of others to our own because we never know what that means for them and how their unique personality is processing it. More so than ever, we need to open up to others, to honestly dialog about where we are at.
To be understood, to feel seen and heard by others are the building blocks to trust, to friendship and to community. To not have these, leads to loneliness, to isolation and can lead to the plethora of symptoms that are under the umbrella of mental health. The Loneliness Epidemic, that is now being researched and explored more intensely has come out with shocking information…that loneliness and social isolation can be just as damaging to our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. It’s real, the level of pain and disconnect that others feel and the negative implications this has on our whole being.
The point of this article, my intention in writing this, is to let you know, I have been burnt out. I have a lot of wonderful tools in my toolbox and I thought I was doing everything ‘right’ but amongst it all, my life circumstances were too much and my body and mind communicated through the symptoms of burnout. I’ll speak more about burnout in an article to come but for now, please know, you are not alone and that there is value in opening up about your experience, no matter how hard or difficult that may be. When we do so, it empowers others to do the same. That even though your grief and your life experience are unique to you…they matter. If you are struggling, please reach out to get the support you need. For me, it was through the help of a really great counselor and work with a wonderful Naturopath that built back my body and mind…a process that is ongoing. With time and the support from trusted friends, I am beginning to build myself back up. 2020 threw me around like a bag in a windstorm that then got hailed on. I’ve been broken apart, I’m torn, I’m different than I was before and I’m sharing that with you in hopes that if you are feeling broken, alone or misunderstood, that you have the courage to reach out to those that you feel can help.
Grief can rip us open and with time and with the help of others, we can put the pieces back together. Please know your experience matters, that you matter and I hope in me sharing this, that you know you are not alone.
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