Mar 31

Immune Food Shopping List

Grocery stores right now can be a bit intense to navigate, Dr. Tanner has put together a list of Immune boosting foods to help support your immune system. With some tips on how to incorporate each of these foods in your meals.

Root Veggies

Root vegetables have an extended shelf life in comparison to other vegetables. Onions are high in Vitamin C, fiber and anti-oxidants. Sweet potatoes offer Vitamin A. Turnips also have Vitamin C which has been shown to shorten the severity of respiratory infections. Beets can help dilate blood vessels lowering blood pressure. Other root veggies to stock up on: garlic, ginger, celeriac, carrots and rutabaga.

Purple Cabbage

Purple cabbage can improve your immune defenses by stimulating the activity of white blood cells. You can shred a few strips and add to salads, coleslaw, stir fries, or make fermented foods like sauerkraut or kimchi. Fermented foods are chocked full of probiotics. These health microbes provide support for your immune system and tummy. Besides, I don’t think there is a line up of people waiting to buy cabbage!

Blueberries

Frozen blueberries can allow you to buy in bulk. Blueberries are rich in Vitamin C, Vitamin A, potassium, dietary fiber and mangnanese. Blueberries also have an antioxidant called flavonoids. This feature can help reduce damage to cells and boost your immune system. Add 1/2 cup to smoothies, yoghurt parfaits, breakfast foods or just as a snack on their own. I use them to make eyeballs on my kids pancakes.

Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds offer a source of plant based protein, zinc, and magnesium. Zinc plays a central role in the development of neutrophils and natural killer cells – crucial for ideal immune functioning. Add 2 tbsp to a trail mix or salad and spread pumpkin seed butter on toast. If you are ambitious roast the pumpkin and harvest the seeds for roasting! Add 1 cup of pumpkin puree to smoothies, pancakes and muffins for additional nutrition.

Dr. Jennifer Tanner, has a broad, evidence-based practice with a focus on sports and performance-based medicine. Being a marathon runner and having been a competitive equestrian, an active lifestyle is important. Dr. Tanner uses a variety of tools including Acupuncture and Clinical Nutrition, putting an emphasis on “food as medicine” and addressing the root causes of inflammation. In conjunction with the Integrative Health team, Dr. Tanner is thrilled to help people achieve an optimal state of health and pursue their performance based health goals!

Follow Dr. Tanner @DrJenniferTannerND  

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Mar 2

Moving Forward

One of the recurring themes that my patients bring to our work together is the idea of feeling stuck. Rather than feeling that they are actively moving in the direction of their life goals, they experience the opposite. They experience a feeling of stagnation. My motto is to “get my patients out of the trunk and into the driver’s seat.”

There is something wrong when previously ambitious, talented and motivated individuals feel they are motionless, lacking energy, and that they are spectators to their own life. If they wish things could be different but are not finding a way of acting on it, getting help is a great idea! Taking the first step, they start the journey by getting the help of a psychotherapist to find the tools to get into motion. How do I help?

The reasons why people lose their inspiration and energy are many, so the first thing is to ask many questions. My belief is that we all have a deep source of wisdom that guides us through life, yet sometimes life pushes us in directions that we lose touch with the source. My goal sis to align you with the internal wisdom and to help you see and remove encumbrances. 

James Hillman, in his book “The Soul’s Code,” writes that each one of us comes to the world with a unique combination of gifts. He reminds us that the ancient Greeks called that source of gifts, drive and inspiration the “daimon.” It has nothing to do with the idea of a demon. You can think of this daimon is a sort of metaphor for what drives us and acts as a source of liveliness. It is a huge source of energy and what pushes us towards movement in life.

As we go through life, the challenge is to anchor that image into the living world and make it “real.” This means that for each person, the path is unique, and that the embodied image can take many different manifestations. This is where circumstances and life paths impact the outcomes.

Often, individuals come to get my help because they somehow are no longer in touch with the internal force that drives them. Sometimes, burnout is the culprit. Many folks have the wrong image of what burnout is. 

Many younger professionals imagine a person with burnout as someone who is “down and out”, old, dressed in tired clothing and haggard. The truth could not be different. Most burnt-out people I know are young, good looking and incredibly well-dressed. Inside, they are lost.

Burnout is what happens to anyone after undergoing relentless and continued stress. It is gradual, so most people do not realize they in the throes of it. The condition results in feelings akin to depression, lack of energy, moderate anxiety, and a sort of existential crisis. 

It also results in feeling trapped and jaded, often losing track of one’s internal sources of motivation, thanks to the feelings of doubt and insecurity it creates. Many who suffer burnout do not even recognize themselves. A common goal I hear is “I want to feel like myself again.” I see that as good news. Something brings them to therapy, and that something is their internal drive.

Once they come to seek my help, we start moving. There is nothing more stagnating than not trying. The first thing is to actually start exercising and doing active things to engage in radical self-care. 

Radical self-care is an attitude of putting yourself first so you can be of service to your goals and to others. It requires to be militant about caring for your health, what you eat, how much you sleep and getting the help you need when it is available. While I did not invent the idea, I have become a fan of it not only for myself but for any ambitious individuals who want to stay in the game of achieving their goals.

Once we manage the level of stress using mindfulness practices and other easy techniques, and connect with other health providers that may have useful contributions (think acupuncture, naturopathy, massage, physio…) we engage in value clarification to bring the person back from the land of confusion and hopelessness. Each one of us has a set of values that guides us in life and making those clear helps a lot. We then look at what is going on and whether what is going on is in line with those values.

We look at habits of mind, at work habits, and at any behaviours and psychological mindsets that are obstacles to the individual’s goals. If we find any that need adjustment, we fine tune them and redirect efforts in the right direction. 

The idea is optimizing life habits so life becomes sustainable, rewarding, and fully enjoyable. The idea is to help each person to recover from inaction, feeling lost, and unhappy and find joy and rewards in the motion of moving towards one’s life goals. That is what we are here for.

Ariel Blau has a formidable passion for helping his clients energize a joyful, loving and creative life. He has more than 30 years of experience helping people bloom. His formal education includes a Master’s degree in Social Work from New York University, a Master’s in Fine Arts from Brandeis University, and a great number of workshops, certificates and seminars. He has been studying mindfulness and how to bring compassion into the world for more than 15 years. His passion for helping others is matched by his enormous drive for continuous learning. Ariel completed his professional clinical training at Yale New Haven Psychiatric Hospital and served as  Lead Clinician at the Jewish Family Service of Greater New Haven.

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Mar 2

Successful Life and Aging Starts With Movement

Movement is medicine.

Wrong.

Movement is life.

Movement is what separates us from plants. While they exogenously produce chemicals to keep predators away, we have the freedom to move.

In our most primitive form, we had the flight or freeze response—that is something that we share with other mammals. The fight response emerged later as it was learned to be evolutionarily beneficial; however, fighting is a high risk, high reward behavior.

Beyond our most primal system, though, humans are more complicated in terms of our thinking, in that we can have a direction and intentionality with regards to our metaphorical or actual movement. In terms of our health, we are capable of setting targets and planning the actions to meet them.

Exercise is generally viewed as a subset of movement, yet this highlights a mismatch between how our bodies were evolved and the environment we are living in. We evolved with the necessity of movement for survival, but that is no longer the case in terms of having our basic needs met. We have a dopaminergic system which rewards us and combats our tendency for inaction, yet, if we look at our bodies with the flow of blood and the lymphatic system, we see that movement is always occurring within us.

When considering types of movement and exercise there are some areas that are non-negotiable for prehabilitation, and also some extra considerations:

1. Stengthening

Lean muscle mass is predictive of longevity. While it is important to strengthen our large muscle groups for general mobility, it is also good to be strategic. Strengthening the posterior rotator cuff, for example, can help combat our usual protracted postures where our shoulders round in.

2. Endurance

To meet our cardiovascular demand for function and health, anything that gets your heart rate up will do. It can either be in short bursts of high intensity, like doing 10 sprints; or longer duration of lower intensity, like a half hour conversational jog. Bearing in mind that everyone starts at a different level of fitness, and small, incremental progress is good!

3. Subtractive Movement

This is about being aware of our habitual movements and minimizing unnecessary compensation. For example, using your arms to push up from a chair. Do you need the boost, or are you unnecessarily straining your shoulders? These are things to notice.

4. Sociogenomic Axis

This refers to the social aspect of health. Whether in organized sports or dancing, playing with friends can also be beneficial to our overall well-being.

5. The X-Moves

These are the moves that test your limits. The goals that may scare you a little and may even seem unattainable. They allow you to expand your idea of what your body is capable of, and experience gratitude for it. Climbing that mountain, running the half marathon, or being seen in a bathing suit, everyone has different lines that they feel they cannot cross that are worthy of working towards.

This is the buffet of options—feel free to take a bite. But instead of singular sophistication in one thing, become a generalist virtuoso in which you try new things.

The term ‘movement is medicine’, is used in the context of our musculoskeletal system, in keeping our bodies healthy, but it is a concept that can be expanded even further to the totality of the human experience as a way to intellectual curiosity, creativity, and emotional stabilization.

When we look at movement metaphorically, in terms of moving forward in life, we note that momentum and friction play a role in the obstacles that we face and the friction within our emotions as we move toward a goal. As we become more self-aware, we can see emotions as a way to inform us rather than simply reacting negatively toward them.

From a Brainfullness perspective, we can think about movement as anything that regenerates, optimizes, and allows you to organize your thoughts. While this is a brain-centric view, we can also include that the mind or soul is embodied, and that the mind emerges as the interaction in the brain, body, environment interface.

And, when we formulate a wellness model for ourselves where movement is embodied and our notion of health expanded, we can even recognize forgiveness as a way to moving on for inherent peace for ourselves.

Medicine is usually something that you take externally, but movement must become something that is your natural state and is generated internally. We are made to move. If you stop someone’s eyeballs from moving, they will go blind because they can’t perceive the world. Likewise, if we stop moving, we can gain no new perspective to view the world or to see the possibilities for our lives.

As the brain works as an action-perception system, movement is required if we are to reach the targets that we set to create a new reality for ourselves. Understanding how deliberately you can do your daily activities is going to be the spring board from which you can be more clear in your thoughts, more focused on your goals, and more able to move through life’s challenges with confidence and resilience.

People generally do things either out of fear or because they want to be more. Getting you to experience minimal disability and fluid movement would be a starting point I could help you with.

Dr. Tabrizi is a chiropractor, osteopath and a passionate member of both the local and scientific community, whose goal is to teach that the pursuit of optimal health and wellness is much more than being symptom-free. His practice is rooted in the philosophy of treating the person rather than just treating the illness or ailment. As a result of his interdisciplinary training, Dr. Tabrizi has developed a neuroscience-based therapeutic education approach to treating his patients, focusing on healing illness from a wider perspective, placing equal responsibility on patient as well as practitioner. Dr. Tabrizi aims to educate his patients and provide them with the tools and framework needed to integrate pain management and healthy living into the fabric of their everyday lives.

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Feb 1

Teens and Fertility

No I am not here to promote teens trying to conceive! But what I would like to discuss is what are the signs of fertility and why are they so important for our female teens?  (even when NOT looking to conceive)

Why should you care? You’ve heard of vital signs before – Key indicators that you are alive and well – blood pressure, heart beat/rate, breathing rate, and temperature…..they sound important right? Well signs of fertility (ie ovulating) IS a vital sign for females of all ages. The female cycle is complex and involves numerous systems in the body working together – when we have signs of fertility we have a very clear indicator of health.

Plus I am a firm believer that the more a person knows about fertility and how to assess it, the more control and empowerment they also have. Education really is power!

SO let’s look over the signs that your teen is having a healthy cycle.

1. Signs of a healthy cycle:

Regularity: Your period should show up on a ‘regular’ cycle…meaning that it comes at the same time interval. The interval will vary between individuals  – but it can range from 21 to 35 days. Anything longer or shorter means there is an irregularity that needs to be talked about with your healthcare provider. HOWEVER in teenagers (especially in the first 2 years of menstruating) cycles can be much longer – and it is still considered healthy up to 45 days long, but still no shorter than 21days.

Spotting: this is when you have blood spotting in between your periods – light spotting on the day of ovulation is common and normal – but if there is spotting between periods that is not related to ovulation then it needs to be investigated and could be indicative of a gynecological condition.

Flow: meaning the amount of blood in which you lose during your period. The total amount from start to finish should be about 50mL (3 tablespoons). Less than 25mL is considered scanty, more than 80mL is considered heavy; both should be brought to the attention of your health care provider. Unless you are using a diva cup, these measurements are hard to decipher. You can estimate though by the number of pads or tampons you use: one soaked regular pad or tampon holds 5mL (1 teaspoon). A super tampon holds 10mL.

2. Signs of Ovulation:

Cervical Mucus: So here is where we talk about vaginal discharge (aka Cervical Fluid), you know that white stuff in your underwear….it is supposed to be there! Fluid is made by your cervix, it has a huge role in fertility, but also vaginal discharge keeps your vagina moist and healthy and free from infection!

Healthy discharge is white or light yellow and can have a mild salty odor.

If your discharge has a bad smell or causes discomfort or itching, you may have an infection and should see your healthcare provider.

Your cervical fluid changes throughout the course of your cycle – and how it changes is one main indicator of ovulation. After your period you may have some dry days or you may have sticky or creamy discharge – as you approach ovulation (roughly mid-cylce) this will change to what is known as fertile mucus – it has the consistency of raw egg white – it feels wet and slippery. It can sometimes occur in fairly large quantities. This fertile mucus is actually essential for sperm survival!

Other signs of ovulation: a regular period, a rise in basal body temperature and an increase in progesterone (measured by blood test) or a surge in luteinizing hormone (measured in urine)

BUT a period is not a definite sign of ovulation – you can still have a period without ovulating – this is known as an anovulatory cycle. Hence why we look at all the factors listed above to predict the health of your cycle.

3. PMS

“Premenstrual syndrome” – cramps, irritability, breast pain, acne, headaches, anxiety, depression, weepiness….these are the commonly reported symptoms associated with menses. These are COMMON, but they are not a sign of a normal or health cycle. If you suffer from any of these symptoms it’s time to come in and get your cycle assessed! PMS does not need to be a part of your cycle!!

PMS has been used to trivialize women’s emotions – this is a problem. Your emotions should not be dismissed by anyone as simply ‘hormonal’.

WHY DOES IT MATTER?

Having a regular, healthy, ovulatory cycle is a KEY indicator in female health. Understanding what a true healthy cycle looks like is the first step. Identifying trouble areas is the next. The final step is where some big issues lie: how do we regulate or treat menstrual complaints. It has become VERY commonplace that young females with ANY complaint are immediately prescribed hormonal birth control. Here are the issues with this:

  1. The birth control pill does not CURE any of these complaints – it simply masks them.
  2. It actually shuts down key hormones necessary for a healthy female body – which then leads to the following symptoms/side effects: depression, loss of libido, hair loss, weight gain, high blood pressure, nutrient deficiencies, reduced thyroid function, digestive problems, yeast infections and abnormal PAP smears, and it can prevent young females from forming healthy bones.

Having a Health Cycle means increase chances of:

  • Healthy Metabolism and Body Weight
  • Healthy Hair
  • Healthy Bones
  • Healthy Mood

Disclaimer: This does not mean I don’t support the use of birth control – there is a time and a place, and for some it’s the right choice. But it needs to be made from an informed perspective. Understand the ramifications of using it. If it’s something that is needed than work with your naturopath to build a plan that can at least help support some of the negative effects that come with the hormonal birth control pill.

Join Dr. TeWinkel for another Webinar this Thursday February 6th at 8pm alllll about teenage periods! We will talk more about:
-what a healthy period looks like
-birth control
-period products

Also please email us at info@integrativehealthinstitute.ca if you have specific concerns/questions you would Dr. TeWinkel to cover.

Dr. TeWinkel is on a mission to improve teen health and build it’s foundations so they can own their health for the rest of their life.

When a teen is supported in their health early on, the stage for success can really be set.

Teens and their families are often given limited choices to deal with their health concerns. Whether it be hormonal struggles, acne, painful periods, anxiety and depression, dieting and healthy weight management or sexual health – all of these can be addressed with a tailored plan to each teen.

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Feb 1

Be A Hero In Tri-Zero: Exploring Men’s Health In Fertility

They say that you can’t pick your parents—including their behaviors and habits, not just the genes.

Procreation and survival have been the common thread throughout human history, so it is natural that we apply what we know now to optimize these most basic elements of life.

In considering fertility and fetal development, the focus is most often on the mother for obvious reasons. Trying to optimize the mother’s health and environment of the uterus is important as this is our first home, and her behavior and lifestyle during pregnancy are key drivers for brain development. From birth to around age two, from a neurodevelopmental standpoint, the cultural environment and the relationship to the mother are key in how the brain decides to wire itself.

But the role of the father is less often discussed in the fertility conversation, beyond sperm count and motility. Research by Sergio Pecorelli has shown that in the 90-104 days pre-conception—referred to as the zero trimester—the man’s health-related activities can affect the genes that are expressed, and 24 weeks of exercising for 150 minutes a week impacts genes that influence schizophrenia and Parkinson’s.

While that news certainly provides incentive for exercise, I think it can also be a diving board from which we consider how basic nutrition and stress management may also make a difference in sperm quality. In addition to the disease aspect, research also shows there are links to other aspects of self, including self-control, perseverance, educational attainment, and longevity, that are also impacted by the father’s state of health.

When we look at health and wellness across the lifespan, we often are considering successful aging. But, if we are to broaden our lens in viewing health optimization and lifespan, we can apply some of this knowledge to the earliest phase of life as well. The brain’s primary role is to predict and protect, yet if we can use it to become predictive and protective of our genetic expression, that is the ultimate in proactive health action.

This is not about putting additional pressure on prospective parents, rather looking at the agency that you have in maximizing your genetic potential. The pre-conception period can be a time when you fully put yourself in the center of all experiences, looking at how your health behaviours can contribute to your ‘reproductive fitness’, while considering a more 360o wellness model where we can look at other aspects that may be contributing factors.

In considering that, these are some basic tips for men to improve your own environment for reproduction:

1. Move often

As mentioned above, there is research-backed evidence for exercise. Pick what you enjoy and what works for your level of fitness.

2. Eat well

Even basic nutritional improvements are an actionable way to create better health.

3. Address any unhealthy habits

Quitting smoking and limiting alcohol consumption are always good health decisions.

4. Embrace the process

Creating healthy habits for yourself is a process itself. Fertility is also a process for many couples, so being able to apply that approach to both can be beneficial in managing the ups and downs.

It is refreshingly optimistic to take this vantage point as it democratizes the outcomes for everyone. There are a lot of considerations and stressors that come with approaching parenthood, whether it be the process of fertility, the financial aspects, or the responsibility, yet having the multi-pronged approach to your own health is going to be key to your own adaptability in these circumstances.

The practices you build in this pre-conception period also creates a scaffolding for better bonding. Using this time in the zero trimester to build better health habits sets you up for, not only a better life for yourself, but equips you with the capacity for the growth and resilience that parenting requires. Rather than making it about whether your kid goes to the fanciest school, you can look at things that are more within your immediate control in terms of making it an empowering process that develops your own anti-fragility and manages your own anxiety—and it is important and reassuring to note that managing even that aspect of the process can help you to have a healthy child.

Where men may have previously wondered about our contribution to the earliest phases of life, we have more influence than we may have thought, and our efforts in improving our own physical and mental landscape can be very impactful in optimizing the potential of future offspring. The better your baseline of health, the better you are able to perform at anything, and I am here to help with that.

Dr. Tabrizi is a chiropractor, osteopath and a passionate member of both the local and scientific community, whose goal is to teach that the pursuit of optimal health and wellness is much more than being symptom-free. His practice is rooted in the philosophy of treating the person rather than just treating the illness or ailment. As a result of his interdisciplinary training, Dr. Tabrizi has developed a neuroscience-based therapeutic education approach to treating his patients, focusing on healing illness from a wider perspective, placing equal responsibility on patient as well as practitioner. Dr. Tabrizi aims to educate his patients and provide them with the tools and framework needed to integrate pain management and healthy living into the fabric of their everyday lives.

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Feb 1

Preventing Miscarriage: The One Test You Should Ask For (That rarely is done)

Pregnancy is one of the most significant events in a woman’s life, and as an expert in women’s health it is one that I spend a lot of time talking about. 

And one major issue I see, is how few women are tested for this common – and preventable- cause of miscarriage. 

Lack of Lab Testing

In Ontario, where I run my women’s health practice, the standard of care is for women to receive only basic testing when they discover they are pregnant.  Women are screened for sexually transmitted illnesses (chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis), public health testing (rubella), blood type and Rh factor. 

Comprehensive Testing

The one test I insist all women in my practice have at the first sign of pregnancy is a comprehensive thyroid panel.  The thyroid, a butterfly shaped gland sitting in your throat near your voice box, is one of the most important hormone producing glands in your body.  Thyroid hormones are essential for metabolism – creating energy in our cells to meet the demands of our body.  In pregnancy we need to be able to make a lot of energy – making a whole new human is hard work! 

In pregnancy our requirements for thyroid hormones increase – and if our body isn’t able to meet that demand, the result can be early pregnancy loss (miscarriage).  We can identify women who may be at risk for this by running a simple TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) test and treating women who fall outside the normal range with thyroid replacement hormones during pregnancy. 

TSH Isn’t Enough

But TSH isn’t the only important thyroid test for a pregnant woman.  Testing thyroid antibodies, especially anti TPO antibody is also essential for preventing miscarriage.  Thyroid autoimmune disease is the most common autoimmune disease in women who are in their childbearing years – impacting up to 15% of women.  Many of these women have no symptoms of thyroid disease and their TSH levels are totally normal.

Having TPO antibodies however, is a major risk factor for miscarriage.  There is a strong association with TPO antibodies and miscarriage, preterm delivery, and other negative outcomes in pregnancy (such as low birth weight and smaller head circumference). 

The Lack of Testing

Despite all the evidence, known to doctors since the 1990s, comprehensive thyroid testing still isn’t available as a screening test for most women in early pregnancy.  But that shouldn’t stop you from seeking it out.  Available from your Naturopathic Doctor at the Integrative Health Institute, this test could make all the difference in your pregnancy.

And since this cause of miscarriage is completely treatable, I encourage you to have the test done as soon as possible after you discover you are pregnant.  Miscarriage is all too common already, no woman should suffer from one that could have been prevented with early diagnosis and treatment. 

Dr. Lisa Watson believes that you don’t have to be perfect to be healthy.  Lisa encourages her patients to take a proactive approach to their health – taking meaningful steps towards achieving their goals for balanced and vibrant health.  An expert in women’s health and hormones, Lisa is a passionate advocate for women’s health and strives to educate all the women in her practice on how to achieve lifelong abundant health.  Dr. Watson practices at the Integrative Health Institute in downtown Toronto and writes regularly about women’s health on her website at www.drlisawatson.com

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Feb 1

The Runner’s Fertility Journey

Let’s imagine Jane.  Jane is a 36 year old Spartan athlete and a marathon runner.  She loves the weekend long runs with her Toronto running group.  The people are great and keep her motivated.  She normally laughs and jokes with her fellow runners but lately her mind has been elsewhere.  For the last six months her and her husband have been actively trying to have a baby.  Every month on the 23rd her period comes and goes. Every month on the 23rd her hopes seem a little less bright.  Her mood just doesn’t quiet seem as light hearted as she once felt.  “Will I ever be able to have a baby?”, she finds herself asking. Should I stop running?  At this point Jane is starting feel moments of despair.

If you are like Jane, and you are thinking of or actively trying to have a baby, there are solutions for you.  Runners are unique people.  You do not have to give up your love for running.  What you need to understand is that the demands placed on your body are different than the average person.  Therefore, a women’s fertility treatment plan should be different too.

Jane met with her running group every week to train for her marathon.  This is how you need to approach your fertility goals.  Think of your fertility journey like you training schedule.  You don’t run a marathon without training.   

Creating a schedule for your Runners Fertility Journey will set the platform for your fertility success.  A proper training protocol will give your body time to prepare to host a beautiful baby.

What might my Runners Fertility Journey look like?

  • The onset of your journey will begin 3-6 months before you want to conceive.
  • Lab work and functional hormone testing can identify areas that require more support.  Optimal references ranges for athletic women are different than the general public.  It is important to have someone review your labs who understands your needs.
  • Specific Nutrition Protocols, including strategic detoxing, can help maintain your running demands and prepare your body to grow a baby.  In this journey, it is vital to build up the reserves of the mother.
  • Personalized Supplement Regime to support both your running and fertility needs.
  • Weekly Acupuncture Treatments.  Acupuncture is a process-oriented method of medical intervention.  Patients are commonly treated for three to four months before progressing to natural conception, IVF or IUI.  When used as a treatment for fertility, expected benefits are boosting blood flow to reproductive organs, balancing hormones and relieving stress.   Some studies have shown an improvement in conception by up to 70%. 
  • Booster options can be added to your Runners Fertility Journey such as IV Vitamin Therapy which provides additional nutrients to support egg quality, anxiety and replace deficient nutrients.

When considering specialized testing, one question I am often asked is – Can you measure your eggs?

  • If you are over 30 you might be thinking, do I have enough eggs left to get pregnant?  Thanks to modern medicine there is a blood test that can help you measure your eggs.  AMH, or Anti-Mullein Hormone, is a test of ovarian reserve. It is used to estimate the level of growing follicles a woman has in her remaining egg supply. Many woman (especially those over 40) who are considering conception with a fertility clinic may be asked to run this test. These levels naturally decrease as we approach menopause. If you are curious about your levels, our Female Fertility blood test Panel includes AMH.  If you have low AMH levels, do not despair, you only need one egg to get pregnant and I have developed protocols to support your fertility needs!

Does Running have an Impact on Fertility?

Studies have showed that moderate physical activity is associated with improved egg specific levels of ovarian reserve markers[i].  That’s good news for you!  In extreme situations, lowered body weights and intense training schedules (5-7 days of training per week[ii]) can cause amenorrhea (lack of a period).  This correlation would have a negative association on fertility and AMH levels[iii].  If you find yourself to be underweight and not cycling, this would become the main focus of our Runners Fertility Journey.  Supporting your body with nourishing foods and hormone protocols can help runners regain a regular hormonal pattern.

What did I do to support my fertility?

Often people ask, if I was in this situation what would I do?  Well, I did all of the above.  I am now a mother of three rambunctious kids!  Now it is my mission to maintain an active lifestyle which includes my children.  I would like to think that my active lifestyle played a role in my fertility and child birth. Was I just lucky? Maybe, but I wasn’t about to cross my fingers and hope everything went smooth. I ate clean, whole foods and plant-based meals. I took high quality supplements to benefit myself and my unborn baby. I went for walks in the valley. Bike rides along the board walk and hit the gym. I didn’t have any pain but I saw supportive professionals such as a registered massage therapist and chiropractor to ensure my hips and joints could move freely during childbirth. I had what is called Precipitous Labour, meaning fast! There is only so much we can control when it comes to conception and delivery, but we can choose to make healthy changes to our diet and lifestyle. As someone who has been in your shoes, I am here to help you make that change today!  Book online to start your Runners Fertility Journey.


References

[i] The Effect of Moderate Physical Activity on Ovarian Reserve Makers in Reproductive Age Women Below and Above 30

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nig.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5405647/

[ii]http://www.researchgate.net/publication/333425676_Analysis_of_anti_mullerian_hormone_levels_of_female_athletes_and_sedentary_women

[iii] The Effect of Moderate Physical Activity on Ovarian Reserve Makers in Reproductive Age Women Below and Above 30

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nig.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5405647/

Dr. Jennifer Tanner, has a broad, evidence-based practice with a focus on sports and performance-based medicine. Being a marathon runner and having been a competitive equestrian, an active lifestyle is important. Dr. Tanner uses a variety of tools including Acupuncture and Clinical Nutrition, putting an emphasis on “food as medicine” and addressing the root causes of inflammation. In conjunction with the Integrative Health team, Dr. Tanner is thrilled to help people achieve an optimal state of health and pursue their performance based health goals!

Follow Dr. Tanner @DrJenniferTannerND  

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Dec 30

Keeping Teen’s Energized and Fuelled for Exams

Best Brain Fuel Practices

There are lots of tips and tricks to aid the study process – trust me I’ve tried a lot of them! 8 years of post secondary education has taught me a few things about preparing for exams. A lot of this was trial and error…so I’m here to help give the best tips to your teen for this years exam period.

Out of all the different methods I tried the ONE THING that always made the most consistent and noticeable impact was food. But, not only WHAT fuel, but when!

1. WHAT Foods Fuel the Brain?

Fat

Our brain is actually made of fat and it is necessary to get enough healthy fats in our diet to support all the functions of the brain – especially for memory and learning! An added bonus is that fat is an optimal source for energy body wide. By ensuring each meal and snack involves some sort of healthy fat, we ensure we have sustained energy (ie. avoid energy crashes!) – much needed during extended study sessions! Top 3 Healthy fats: avocado, wild caught alaskan salmon, walnuts

Protein

Whether animal or plant based, having adequate protein is absolutely necessary for optimal brain health (and overall health!). Our body needs 9 “essential” amino acids from food because we cannot make them on our own – and we get these amino acids from protein. These amino acids are necessary for building neurotransmitters – these are the communication tools of the brain. There are a few neurotransmitters that are known to be especially important in learning and memory- the top one being glutamate. It can be found in all meat-based proteins, but also found in broccoli, mushrooms, tomato sauce and walnuts.

Sugar

Our brain does need glucose as a fuel source – but where we get this glucose from is key! Processed sugars like high fructose corn syrup, or any white sugar will increase inflammation both in your brain and the rest of your body. This can actually impair your learning abilities. Finding naturally sweet foods is the best place to start when looking for a healthy source of carbohydrates/sugars – apples, pears, berries, sweet potatoes, beets and whole grains are excellent options. 

Added bonus- Colourful fruits and vegetables are packed with antioxidants, providing protective benefits to the brain along with fuel.

Each meal and snack during your teen’s busy study schedule this month needs to incorporate each of these key macronutrients (Fat, Protein and Carbohydrates).

2. WHEN to fuel the brain:

Studying is hard work. It doesn’t seem that way from the outside looking in, but from the inside out, energy demands are incredibly high. Smaller and more frequent complete whole-food meals and snacks will keep their energy up. As I said above – our brains use glucose for fuel – so it’s easy to gravitate towards sugary snacks- your teen may have the munchies A LOT during this time period. So ensuring that high quality nutrient dense options are available is KEY.

Timing wise – be sure that every 2 hours a healthy snack or meal is happening based on the 3 main food groups I mentioned above.

3. HYDRATION

I would be remiss if I left out the importance of water! Staying hydrated is ESSENTIAL for optimal brain functioning. Ideally your teen is getting in 8 glasses per day – perhaps getting them a reusable water bottle that they love to help keep them motivated.

It’s also important to try to stay away from things that dehydrate! Energy drinks, coffee, pops, juices…not only are they counterproductive to hydrating us, they also lead to more energy crashes and less of the sustained energy that’s needed to get through exams.

4. SLEEP

Sleep is another form of fuel- without it, your body can’t optimally use all the other fuel sources to build the memories and processes your teen is trying to with all their hard work. Also, if they’re studying from screens later at night, blue-light blocking glasses are an excellent idea. These lenses reduce the melatonin-draining effects of blue-light and help negate the impact this blue-light has on sleep quality (and hence, memory improvement!).

Other ways to Optimize the Exam Period:

1. MOVE YOUR BODY

Study intervals should be no longer than 45min each time. Break up study intervals with a 5-15min break that includes physical activity.

Physical activity Increases blood flow – more blood flow also means more brain power – which means more capacity for focus and learning. Bouts of high intensity exercise has been proven to improve memory retention and mental performance.

2. DEEP BREATHING

Not only does this increase oxygen levels, which in turn increases brain power, deep breathing puts the body into a more relaxed state. From this relaxed parasympathetic state, we conserve energy and put our brains into a better position to absorb and retain information. Making time for 10 deep breaths every study session will increase the effectiveness of your teen’s studies.

If your teen needs extra support don’t be afraid to reach out! Book a call to see how we can optimize your teen’s brain health…and health over all!

Dr. TeWinkel is on a mission to improve teen health and build it’s foundations so they can own their health for the rest of their life.

When a teen is supported in their health early on, the stage for success can really be set.

Teens and their families are often given limited choices to deal with their health concerns. Whether it be hormonal struggles, acne, painful periods, anxiety and depression, dieting and healthy weight management or sexual health – all of these can be addressed with a tailored plan to each teen.

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Dec 30

A Guide to Powering up Your Energy.

If you are like most, January flies in with a wave of fatigue.  The holidays are fun but they are full of excess sugars, booze and late nights.  Let’s get you back and running early in the year by starting with what you are putting in your body.  Level up and design your plan with the following guide.

Structure your Macros.

Start with breakfast and lunch.  Choose power proteins and clean fats as your first bite of the day.  Eating carbs early in the day, encourages carb cravings later in the day.  Eating proteins and fats early for breakfast can help curb those ongoing carb cravings.  If you have a hard time winding down in the evening, save your carbs for dinner meals.

Helpful tips.

  • Choose free range meat products and grass-fed butter
  • Choose wild fish
  • Choose organic or pesticide free produce
  • Keep soy produces/tofu to a minimum unless you are of menopausal years.
  • Choose low glycemic vegetables such as broccoli, zucchini and asparagus.

Track your Habits.

  • Create benchmarks to measure your success.
  • Maintain or begin an exercise protocol to encourage muscle development and endorphin release.
  • Curb sugar and salt cravings with extra proteins and fats.
  • Schedule your feeding times.
  • Drink a minimum of 2L of water per day.
  • Get 7-9 hours of sleep for optimum recovery and mental performance.

Challenge yourself. 

Within 30 days your energy should elevate and you might even shed a few unwanted pounds.

Not sure?

  • Not every dietary change is for everyone.  If you have questions about what you are eating and how to improve your energy I will help you design a diet that will set you up for success.

Dr. Jennifer Tanner, has a broad, evidence-based practice with a focus on sports and performance-based medicine. Being a marathon runner and having been a competitive equestrian, an active lifestyle is important. Dr. Tanner uses a variety of tools including Acupuncture and Clinical Nutrition, putting an emphasis on “food as medicine” and addressing the root causes of inflammation. In conjunction with the Integrative Health team, Dr. Tanner is thrilled to help people achieve an optimal state of health and pursue their performance based health goals!

Follow Dr. Tanner @DrJenniferTannerND  

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Dec 30

Health is a State of Action

In saying ‘when you do better, you know better’, there must be an acknowledgement that doing requires an expenditure of energy. As we head into resolution season, there are some important things to know about the brain and its correlation with energy if we are to maximize and properly allocate our energetic resources.

First, the brain likes to conserve energy. It’s why we have habits. It’s why we spend so much time in our default mode. It likes to run in those patterns and programs because it is economizes our resources, so the attention it requires to change things up does require some energy.

We must also note that your brain is evolved to predict and protect, first and foremost, and that new learning and empathy are the two most energetically expensive processes for your brain to run. The anterior insula is responsible for empathy, while the posterior insula is involved in the perception of pain. Interestingly, research has shown that the posterior insula is activated both in someone who has a broken leg, and in someone who has a perceived deficiency or frustration—like difficulty with math or technology.

Physiologically, we can define energy in terms of where you are activating your blood flow, glucose, and neurotransmitter recycling or uptake mechanism.

While the sexy new kid on the block is the brain-gut axis, the old school axis was that your skin is your second brain. Culturally we are becoming more auditorily and visually dominant, yet those systems take a lot of energy to decode and interpret any input, versus the tactile and proprioceptive systems which are more reflexive in nature as they have evolved over thousands of years. If I stub my toe, for example, it will go through my spinal cord and brain stem which will soften and try to make sense of that input. Though your brain is only 2% of your body weight, it consumes about 20% of your caloric intake and, disproportionately, the visual system consumes 50% of the brain’s blood flow!

So, an additional Brainfullness hack is to give your over-worked visual and auditory systems a break. Closing your eyes for 30-90 seconds or using noise cancelling headphones can reduce some of the external stimuli, giving you a better download of information from your other senses—tuning in to those tactile and interoceptive signals that require less energy.

So how do we know where to focus our energy and how to maximize it?
As you set your goals for 2020, these are the 5 things that would improve your energy:

1. Sleep

Getting adequate, restful sleep is key to cellular repair and rejuvenation of energy to all physiological systems.

2. Exercise

While one of the primary benefits of exercise is to create better blood flow into the system, it is important to choose a form of exercise that is also emotionally enjoyable and meaningful to you so that it does not become an additional stressor!

3. Social network

Likewise with friendships and family members, it is beneficial to socialize with people who are positive and optimistic—through mirror neurons we mirror the other person’s state, so choose wisely.

4. Nutrition

While food is obviously important as a fuel source and there are any number of strategies to follow, if we are to look beyond content and calories, awareness of how food makes you feel is also part of the equation in maximizing your health. When you are stressed while eating food, it is equivalent to consuming an extra 104 calories.

5. Breathing

Breath is like the electrical system that allows you to shift your autonomic nervous system. Extended nasal inhalation stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, increasing blood flow and revving you up, while extended exhalation will down-regulate the system in parasympathetic mode.

It is also important to note that continual focus and expenditure of energy are not sustainable. For most people, the first two or three hours of the day tend to be more productive, but energy naturally has its ebbs and flows. Certain changes in life, such as menopause, can also naturally affect our energy and changes in season are also known to affect how we feel. Taking action on our goals gives us the new feedback to create a new perspective. But, we must also take a strategic pause on occasion to encode this new information and adjust to other events.

Try to gauge your energy not just based on how productive you are at work, but rather on how fast you can recover from a set back. Neurophysiological resiliency is where you want to improve.

While it can be difficult to gain energy, if we can become aware of places where we leak it or spend it, that becomes a better roadmap from which we can act.

Dr. Tabrizi is a chiropractor, osteopath and a passionate member of both the local and scientific community, whose goal is to teach that the pursuit of optimal health and wellness is much more than being symptom-free. His practice is rooted in the philosophy of treating the person rather than just treating the illness or ailment. As a result of his interdisciplinary training, Dr. Tabrizi has developed a neuroscience-based therapeutic education approach to treating his patients, focusing on healing illness from a wider perspective, placing equal responsibility on patient as well as practitioner. Dr. Tabrizi aims to educate his patients and provide them with the tools and framework needed to integrate pain management and healthy living into the fabric of their everyday lives.

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