New Year’s resolutions… Believe it or not, I’m not a huge supporter of the concept of making goals and resolutions in January. I would much rather see my patients (and myself) make changes and improve themselves on an ongoing basis, moment to moment. It’s great to have a vision for your new year, however I believe it’s essential to be flexible and continually reassess and modify our habits & goals throughout the year, as it unfolds. Nonetheless, here are three general principles I’m committing to for 2020.
1) BEING MORE PRESENT, MINDFUL & INTENTIONAL.
2) BEING MORE GRATEFUL.
3) BEING MORE POSITIVE & RESILIENT.
The reason I chose these three ‘resolutions’ for 2020, is that they can apply to all aspects of my life: family, community, career, and extra-curricular. I want to focus on living by these three principles so that I can enhance each aspect of my life in positive ways. They are SO essential for our mental health as well, and I will expand on this in a future post. These three guiding principles will be my compass as I navigate the successes and challenges that 2020 will inevitably bring!
Do you struggle with maintaining your energy and a positive mood thoughout the fall & winter? Do you have trouble falling or staying asleep?
Here are our top 5 recommendations to help with these common concerns.
1) Serotonin-Boosting Foods – Foods that contain the amino acid, tryptophan, help the body produce more of the hormone serotonin. Serotonin is important for energy, sleep, and mood. Eat salmon, chicken, turkey, eggs, nuts and seeds, and spinach to make more natural serotonin!
2) Sunlight Exposure Daily (and Vitamin D3!) – Getting daily exposure to sunlight, especially in the morning, can support your serotonin levels and sleep-wake cycle. Also, make sure to take a Vitamin D3 supplement to get its energy supportive benefits!
3) Exercise – Regular exercise stimulates the release of the hormones serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. These hormones support energy, sleep, and a more positive mood.
4) Supplements that Increase Serotonin or Lower Cortisol – There are several vitamins and herbs that support serotonin production or lower the stress-hormone, cortisol. These include: vitamin B6, magnesium, St. John’s Wort, Ashwaghanda, and other adaptogenic herbs. We can help you choose the best ones and correct dosages for your body.
5) Nervous System Support – Other therapies and practices can positively impact your energy, sleep, and mood hormones. These include: acupuncture, meditation, yoga, and mindfulness practices. We hope you have a healthy, happy winter season. Dr. Nevena Jovanovic, N.D. would be happy to see you to help with any energy, sleep, or mood concerns that present.
Written by: Amanda Cressman, N.D.
This time of year holds a lot – a lot of excitement and anticipation for festivals, parties, celebrations and events. Amongst all this, there can be many who are feeling overwhelmed and stressed from the expectations placed upon them by others and most importantly, by themselves.
This past week has been an interesting one for myself and for many that I’ve spoken with. The changing of the season to real Autumn weather has been hard – many have colds and coughs, the reminder that a new season is now here, where the nights are quickly dark, the wind is sometimes harsh and the temperatures are dropping, making it a little less easy to be outside.
This is a wonderful time to come back to centre, back to self and remember some key things you can do to support your health for a healthier and more comfortable winter season.
This week we are talking about healthy food choices, but I want to take a moment to highlight some key foundational pieces to health that will be highlighted in the coming weeks.
Healthy Food Choices
Digesting your Food/Choices
Digesting your Emotional Experience
Detoxifying your World
Giving your Body the Rest it needs
Moving Stress Out
Although these may seem obvious, they are surprisingly hard to do and even more surprisingly have been forgotten by many amongst our busy world. I’m always amazed at how many of us, myself included have forgotten simple truths, such as – ensuring you are outside, daily…even for a few moments, taking at least one deep breath in a day, ensuring you are eliminating your food regularly, having a daily bowel movement, letting yourself feel emotions when they come up or at least soon after to honour what has been, sweating regularly, doing something you enjoy every day, remembering your body needs to sleep and loves routine of familiar bedtimes, etc…the list goes on and on. When things are off in our health, it can be a great opportunity to reflect and reassess priorities and goals for oneself. For many of us, we know what to do but the doing can be difficult. Like Dr. Seuss said, “Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.”
So, today’s focus is healthy food choices. This is one that we are all confronted with daily, yet continues to be hard to accomplish in a world where food prep takes more time than what most people have and the convenience of prepared foods is becoming easier and more affordable.
So, I don’t like to cook. It doesn’t come naturally, I’m not super good at it and I just haven’t ever enjoyed it. I don’t enjoy grocery shopping and find it always just takes way more time than I allot for it and thinking about new and exciting foods is stressful for me. I am working at changing this because when healthy food choices don’t work out, the following takes place.
BAD FOOD CHOICES = IMBALANCED BLOOD SUGAR = INCREASED CRAVINGS FOR CARBOHYDRATES = INCREASED INTAKE OF CARBOHYDRATES = LACK OF DRIVE/AMBITION = MOODINESS = SHAME AND SELF LOATHING FOR BAD FOOD CHOICES.
Obviously, not a great place to be but one that many experience, sometimes daily. And it can be avoided but it takes looking at your day/week honestly and prioritizing healthy food choices to ensure blood sugar is balanced, helping mood, mental focus, digestion and all the other systems that are positively supported when good foods come in to your body.
I could go on about the benefits of eating local or in-season or organic or non GMO foods…that is all great, but first, looking at the foundations of health, I think it’s important to focus on eating regularly and to do so with whole foods…ideally foods that you or someone you know have prepared.
There are many ways to do this. In our house we have a weekly menu chart with foods picked out for each day and the designated cook who will make it. This ensures all foods are purchased for the week on Sunday, as coming to Wednesday night and seeing no vegetables left in your fridge is a sure fire way to eating poorly and generally thereafter feeling poorly. When we do this, everything is easier and less stressed when it comes to food choices.
Many apps are available to help with this and luckily we live in an era of phenomenal online recipe bloggers, creating new and healthy recipes for all different types of dietary plans and preferences. I am so grateful for this as I need real recipes and real advice to ensure I can serve something that is edible and delicious.
One thing we enjoy doing at TouchStone Health is putting together meal plans to help with this. Melanie Reidl, N.D. and myself put together meal plans for those wanting support. We can put together plans for various dietary needs, health or weight goals. My favourite parts of the plan are knowing it’s all figured out for the week, so no extra mental work is needed trying to be creative mid-week. And the best part is the shopping list, knowing all that is needed before the week begins is purchased or available, brings peace to my mind. I’ve attached below a 3-day Paleo Plan to show how it works. Please use it, hoping the recipes are easy to work with, delicious and create a more peaceful experience in the kitchen, even if just for 3 days.
We can put together these plans for existing patients, with more information about the meal plans, here.
Even doing just this – ensuring you are eating Whole, healthy foods is a major piece in the bedrock of your foundation of health. Your body, your mind and your emotional health will all benefit…helping you digest the rest of this busy world we live in more easily.
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.
As the colder air and shorter days of Fall arrive, our patterns of exercise, diet, and sleep change. We are more prone to colds and flu. These seasonal changes can affect our immune system and it is therefore important to adjust our daily patterns during this season:
Diet——> Eating warmer foods (soups, stews, etc) helps strengthens the immune system. Stay away from raw vegetables and cold foods at this time of the year as it will weaken the immune system. Limit your sugar intake but incorporate “sweet and warm” foods like squash, pumpkin, and cinnamon. Make sure you are drinking enough water.
Stay Warm ——> Make sure your head, upper back neck, and feet especially stay warm. A warm body helps protect itself from outside “pathogens”.
Manage Stress ——> Stress weakens the immune system
Exercise ——> During the colder months most people tend to exercise less. Add Yoga and stretching into your exercise routine. Exercise help keep the circulation moving and helps decrease stress levels.
Sleep——> As the daylight hours get shorter, it is important to allow yourself to get more sleep. Getting adequate sleeps is very important to help manage stress, keep your body strong, and therefore keep your immune system strong.
-Help prevent colds and flu by boosting your immune system
-Can help you recover from a cold or flu faster if you are already sick
-Reduce chills, fever and body aches
-Relieve sore throat and congestion
-Can help relieve stress
-Can help stop or reduce upper respiratory symptoms
-Can help strengthen the immune system
-Calms the Nervous System
-Improves Blood and Lymphatic circulation
-Can help clear sinus congestion and sinus headaches
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