Jan 9

A Radical Guide to Longevity

In cross-population studies, it has been determined that your genetics contribute 15% to your mortality and functionality, while 85% lies within your epigenetics, behaviour, and environment. Stated another way, you have more control of your health outcomes than you may think.

To further break it down, our health and happiness is based on the interactions between four components: our psychology, physiology, neurology, and environment or, I prefer, ecosystem.

For our environment, it is important for health and growth that it be at least perceived as being safe and challenging. If our brain perceives and associates threat, our physiological response is to shut down as survival is paramount. Conversely, we are mobilized by challenge, even moreso the greater our perception of control within the situation. For example, you are more likely to experience back pain if you have a crappy boss and work that does not ignite your passion, but you are stuck because you have a mortgage to pay and a family to feed.

The more neurologically prepared we are from an evolutionary perspective, the more anti-fragile we become for optimal longevity. A bird’s eye view of an example is how dramatically different our experience of life is from our grandparents. Exploring this example further, we are constantly glued to our screens which is very demanding on our visual system, so our brain is stealing resources from our other senses to help us meet the demands of our work. The breadth of preparedness comes from exposure to challenges of all our senses. Stand on one leg with your eyes closed—it’s simple but not easy!

For our psychology to be supportive of our well-being, the goal is to be stress-resistant. Among other things, this is a process of being impeccably composed in your self-talk and being reasonable in your expectations so you do not become a slave to the momentum of your past and to the avalanche of your present feelings. Recognizing the things in your life which are threats to your psychological balance is incredibly critical. Take a moment and create space.

The brain is described as a non-linear, dynamic system, therefore, we cannot predict the response to a signal—at times it may integrate the input, at times may segregate from it. On a situational basis, there may be pain or injuries; however, internally there may be stressors as well, such as sub-optimal nutrition or psychological stress, for example, which may be taxing the system by occupying much of the resources. If one aspect of the system continues to be stressed, the resources available to sustain the other aspects are depleted. As another example, your lack of sleep will amplify your pain.

With this in mind, your baseline health status is the greatest predictor of recovery. The healthier any ecosystem is as a whole, the more it can handle an acute or chronic threat—the same can be said for the body. The more you are optimizing the aspects of your health that are within your control, the more capable you will be to withstand and recover from whatever stressors and injuries you encounter.

This is not a commercial model of care, rather a bespoke model of a health span; my humble attempt to illuminate the top-down, bottom-up interactions within our body, mind, and environment to create a blueprint for longevity. The dynamics of these four components are the basis of our expression of self- hood—who we are as individuals and as a species.

Getting and staying healthy is difficult, but rewarding. As a science-based, evidenced-informed, clinically-driven clinician, I have achieved magnificent outcomes with discerning patients who accepted the challenge of health optimization and recovery. It is never too late to start your radical path to longevity.

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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Dec 5

Power Labs: Optimize your Potential with the Organic Acids Test

Personalized Testing to Impact your Performance is Pushing the limits with modern research.

Want a competitive edge? This simple urine test will give you unique information to optimize your physiology.  When I have an athlete come into the office, it is not necessarily how fast or strong they are that concerns me.  What I am looking for is optimal physiological functioning.  This is what drives performance.  A thorough intake and physical exam points to physiological systems that maybe functioning at a suboptimal level, hence hindering your potential for success.  In some cases, the answer is not as clear and further testing is required.

Organic Acids Test (OAT)

The Organic Acids Test (OAT) offers a comprehensive metabolic snapshot of a patient’s overall health with over 70 markers.  Many people with chronic illnesses and neurological disorders often excrete several abnormal organic acids in their urine. The cause of these elevated levels could include oral antibiotic use, high sugar diets, immune deficiencies, acquired infections, as well as genetic factors[i].  Patients are sent home with a requisition and a simple urine test kit.  Yes, no needles!

What is tested?

  •  Vitamin and Mineral Nutritional Markers and Deficiencies
  • Signs of Oxidative Stress which may be driving Inflammation
  • Neurotransmitter Levels provide insight to Depression, Anxiety and Insomnia
  • Oxalate Markers which are highly correlated with many Chronic Diseases.
  • Bacterial and Fungal Markers
  • Indicators of Detoxification
  • Ketone and Fatty Acid Oxidation
  • Creatine Levels as an Indicator of Fluid Intake

What Does The Organic Acids Test Do For Athletes?

This test takes a look at the step by step process through which your body produces cellular energy.  Specific vitamins and minerals are required every step of the way.  Identifying which aspects of this production cycle are deficient will allow us to tailor your plan specific to YOU!  This will help us understand your obstacles to energy production.

Why is Understanding Your Energy Producing Pathways Important?

If we can understand the pathway, we can improve your energy production. With results from a test like this, we now have an insight to your biochemical pathways.   I then work with patients to incorporate dietary and neutraceutical changes into their plan.  Supplementing can correct deficient patterns, improve gut bacteria and methylation processes, giving your body the tools to heal and repair.  Patients generally report an improvement in fatigue and energy levels, a smoother mood, sharper mind, a decrease in gastrointestinal complaints, ideal weight loss and an ability to push their athletic limits!   Take your health in your own hands.  Making changes today, can help prevent chronic illness and injury 1, 2, 3 decades from now.

To identify your biomarkers and order your personalized Organic Acids Test with Dr. Jennifer Tanner, ND book below.

Naturopathic Medicine is covered by most extended health insurance plans. Some plans cover testing. Call your insurance company to inquire about coverage for an Organic Acids Test.

  • [i] https://www.greatplainslaboratory.com/organic-acids-test/


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!

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Nov 6

Athletes – Food Sensitivities Slowing You Down?

Can the foods you eat impact your performance?

Absolutely.

So what if your “go to” super food is making you slow?

As a Naturopathic Doctor, I am always looking to find the root cause to your concerns.  If your performance is suffering,  I look to understand the physiological pathways that are functioning sub optimally and ask why?  Many athletes under estimate the impact of food sensitivities on their performance.  When I see an athlete struggle with injuries or when they hit a plateau I get concerned.  I don’t want your superfoods to be what slows you down! It is time to look deeper for answers – it’s time to consider food sensitivity testing.

There is a growing body of evidence to support the clinical benefits of eliminating IgG reactive foods from the diet. When looking at food sensitivities, some are obvious and some are not.  You can grow in and out of food sensitivities at any point in your life.  It is during times of stress, when our immune system is taxed, where these sensitivities begin to develop.

The stress of continuous training may leave athletes more susceptible.

Being creatures of habit, we repeatedly eat the same foods.  I see this time and time again, where it is a patient’s breakfast that is their trigger.  Eating these triggers, irritates the lining of your intestinal tract and promotes a higher inflammatory load.  Even patients with incredibly clean diets can have a food sensitivity since it is not a test to determine healthy foods, it is a test to determine which foods are healthy for you.

The test I run with my athletes is an IgG Food Sensitivity Panel.  It is a simple blood test that measures 120 different foods for an IgG reaction.  IgG reactions are delayed sensitivity reactions produced by your immune system.  When you eat these foods, the inflammatory symptoms may take hours to days to show up.  Some common symptoms may be gas, bloating, IBS, eczema, headaches, fatigue or muscle aches.  It isn’t always obvious to determine which food is responsible, which is why it is important to test. Compare this to a “food allergy” reaction that most of us are more familiar with. Food allergies are IgE mediated reactions. The inflammatory response in this case is much different. IgE reactions are characterized by immediate redness and swelling. IgE reactions produce an anaphylactic response where the trigger tends to be obvious – like a peanut allergy. It is important to make the distinction as the goals of treatment are different. The purpose of identifying IgG reactions is to understand the hidden effects of low grade inflammation and stress that can be holding an athlete back from their optimal potential.

Continued consumption of foods that promote an IgG response diverts our body’s efforts into addressing chronic low lying inflammatory loads.  This can impact an athletes’ performance in the following ways:

Inflammation in the lining of your intestinal tract limits nutrient absorption which can lead to:

  • Fatigue and increased rest times.
  • Difficulty clearing lactic acid and delayed training recovery.
  • Having a higher than normal inflammatory load can leave athletes susceptible to injuries.
  • Inflammation in the bronchioles can make air exchange more difficult.
  • Weight management can become difficult and regular colds can be difficult to kick.

Elimination diets are another way to determine if a food sits well with you.  Embarking on an elimination plan is beneficial if you are reacting to common foods such as wheat, dairy, soy, eggs and peanuts.  When the offending food is from a smaller food group, the test becomes even more valuable.  For myself, pineapples, blueberries and almonds tested high.  These are foods I might not have otherwise removed.  I have had body builders react to ingredients in their protein powders and after removing the offending foods they can lift more.  I have had endurance cyclists react to their on-bike snack and migraine sufferers find relief when their diet became more personalized.

To book your IgG Food Sensitivity Panel with Dr. Jennifer Tanner, ND click here and get on track to push your performance to the next level!

Naturopathic Medicine is covered by most extended health insurance plans. Some plans even cover testing. Call your insurance company to inquire about coverage for an IgG Food Sensitivity Panel.

[i] http://rmalab.com/medical-laboratory-tests/allergy/igg-sensitivity

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!

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Nov 2

SIBO or IBS??

IBS, SIBO, GERD – doctors sure know how to make your digestive tract sound complicated.  But does it have to be complicated?  And do you have to struggle with gas, bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea or constipation?  The answer to both is no.  You don’t have to suffer, and you can be empowered with knowledge to seek out the care you need.

SIBO vs IBS

SIBO stands for small intestine bacterial overgrowth, a condition where abnormally large numbers of bacteria (both the good and bad kind) are present in the small intestine.

IBS is short for irritable bowel syndrome, a condition impacting the large intestine with many potential causes (bacterial imbalance, nervous system changes, poor contraction of the muscles in the intestines, inflammation and immune system issues).

SIBO is a very common cause of IBS-like symptoms – studies have shown SIBO to be involved in between 50-84% of IBS cases.  More importantly, when treated for SIBO, a 75% reduction in IBS symptoms has been found.

Symptoms of SIBO and IBS

While most people who experience digestive issues are given a diagnosis of IBS, the symptoms of SIBO are so similar that I recommend every patient who has been told they have IBS be tested for SIBO.

Symptoms of IBS Symptoms of SIBO
Gas and bloating Gas and bloating
Flatulence (farting) and belching (burping) Flatulence (farting) and belching (burping)
Abdominal pain or cramping Abdominal pain or cramping
Constipation Constipation
Diarrhea Diarrhea
Mucus in the stool Heartburn
Nausea

 

The bacterial overgrowth in SIBO can cause significant gas and bloating – if severe gas or bloating are your main concern, SIBO testing should be considered.  With healthy normal bacteria levels, a single ounce of milk will cause about 50cc of gas to be created.  With SIBO, that same amount of milk will cause up to 5000cc of gas to be created!  And that gas has to go somewhere – filling the intestines and causing pain, or being released as gas and burping.

What Causes SIBO and IBS?

SIBO occurs when the bacteria that should be in our large intestine migrate upwards into our small intestine.  There they produce gases and disrupt nutrient absorption, leading the symptoms often attributed to IBS.

There are some specific triggers that can lead to this movement of bacteria into the small intestine.  Some of those triggers include:

  • A stomach flu or food poisoning
  • Low stomach acid (or use of antacids)
  • Prior bowel surgery
  • Use of antibiotics (especially multiple courses)
  • Moderate or high alcohol consumption (greater than one drink per day for women or two drinks per day for men)
  • Use of birth control pills

The exact cause of IBS is unknown.  It may be that many people experiencing “IBS” actually have another underlying cause, such as stress, hormone imbalances, or SIBO.  Some postulated causes of IBS include:

  • changes in the muscle contraction strength in the intestines – too strong can lead to gas, bloating and diarrhea. Too weak and you’ll have a slower transit of food and resultant constipation
  • nervous system changes – a more reactive pain sensation associated with gas and bloating, or an overactive system that triggers diarrhea easily
  • immune system responses, leading to inflammation
  • infection from bacteria, viruses or yeast
  • imbalance in healthy bacteria in the large intestines
Clues to SIBO

There are some clues that your IBS may in fact be SIBO.  If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, you should invest in SIBO testing now.

  1. Did your digestive symptoms start, or become worse, after a bout of the stomach flu?
  2. Have you experienced short term improvement in your symptoms after taking an antibiotic?
  3. Do your symptoms get worse when taking a probiotic or prebiotic supplement?
  4. Does eating a high fiber diet worsen constipation or IBS symptoms?
  5. Do you have celiac disease that has not sufficiently improved following a gluten-free diet?
  6. Have you been diagnosed with an iron deficiency, despite having an iron rich diet?
  7. Do you have IBS symptoms and take antacids more than once per month (including Tums, Rolaids, Nexxium or Prilosec)?
  8. Do you experience gas that has a strong “rotten-egg” odour?
Diagnosis

While there is no definitive test for IBS, there is one for SIBO – a simple breath test. The bacteria found in SIBO produce high amounts of hydrogen, hydrogen sulfide, or methane gas.  These gases are not produced by human cells, but only through the action of bacteria on carbohydrates in our intestines.

The most common (and effective) test for SIBO is a combined hydrogen/methane breath test.  This test is readily available from your Naturopathic Doctor.  This is the only test for SIBO – stool tests will not help to diagnose SIBO.

Next steps

If you suspect you may have SIBO, you should see your Naturopathic Doctor for appropriate testing.  Once you have a diagnosis, you can begin your personalized treatment plan, based on the bacteria identified in your test.

The treatment of SIBO is multifaceted and individualized for each person.  Some of the key areas we focus on are:

  • supporting small intestine motility
  • optimizing digestive acids and enzymes
  • healing the lining of the digestive tract
  • eradicating biofilm
  • promoting healthy bacterial balance in the large intestine

Addressing the lifestyle and diet for long term prevention of recurrence is also important.  Discontinuing medications, like antacids and proton pump inhibitors that encourage SIBO must also be considered.

You don’t have to continue to suffer.  Digestive health is essential for optimal health.  Get yourself tested, and get on the path to wellness today.

Dr. Lisa Watson delivers health care that supports balanced and attainable health at all ages and stages of life. Of primary importance is health care that nurtures the body, mind, spirit, family and community. As a Naturopathic Doctor and mother, Lisa believes that health care and a healthy lifestyle are intrinsically linked and that each serves to support the other. Dr. Watson practices at the Integrative Health Institute in Downtown Toronto.

Check out Dr Watson’s blog: www.drlisawatson.com

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Sep 19

Top 3 Ways to Beat Burn Out

Naturopathic Doctor and Clinic Director Erin Wiley shares her insight on burn out.

1. If you don’t want to burn out, stop living life on fire.

Sometimes this is the hardest fact to accept, we’ve all been there. The patterns that have lead us to burn out from overwork and exhaustion lead to more overwork and exhaustion, and yet we often hold onto them. We need a new path if we want to work our way to recovery. That means changing our mindset, changing our behavior patters, refocusing our values, and at our core our health must be integrated into our definition of success.

When it comes to fatigue and addressing overwork we need to value our priorities over endless productivity. We need to value rest and creative exploration as a highly productive time for our body. We also need to understand that movement and exercise are absolutely essential to making energy. From these small mindset changes flows a host of health behavior changes that will nourish your body and restore your energy.

2. Health promotion means being proactive, but it does not mean being perfect.

Taking care of our health needs to be more than just something we do in our spare time, it also can’t wait for the perfect time, perfect recipe, or perfect running outfit. No one has spare time, perfection does not exist and it is a toxic energy sucking stressor. Our actions must reflect our values and be inline with our purpose. We need to set a daily intention to value our self-care, our environment and our community. This means thoughtful attention to our basic human needs such as nutrition, healthy sleep, exercise and social support. We need space for these essentials in our daily routine and we need to celebrate them. A proactive plan can really help focus our intention and make our goals a reality. For most of us that means scheduling our meals, our workouts, our friends and our healthcare treatments with the same emphasis and priority as we schedule our career goals and meetings, because after all they integrate into our success. This also means only scheduling your absolute priorities, keeping our health promotion tasks simple and enjoyable, and getting out of our heads and into our body.

3. Get the support you need.

Sometimes it can be hard to ask for help, but we don’t think so. We value investing in our health because information is empowering and people are more important to us than anything else. If you are feeling burnt out. It’s time to get a professional assessment, run your lab work, and start a treatment plan. We’ve been there, we can help you end the feelings of “overwhelm”, cut through the information overload. Taking care of you is more important than anything else and it absolutely integrates with your success.

When your actions align with your intentions everything changes.

Dr. Erin Wiley is a Naturopathic Doctor with a strong focus on preventative and integrative medicine. She is the Owner and Clinic Director of the Integrative Health Institute, an integrative medical clinic located in downtown Toronto. Erin has a strong clinical emphasis on stress related illness, anxiety, depression and hormone balance. As a naturopathic doctor, Erin is passionate about working with people to help them better understand their health and achieve their health goals.

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Sep 11

Running past the Headache. A case study of how Magnesium may be able help.

“The alarm beeps at 6am. She pours some magnesium powder into one of her three water bottles, straps them to her waist and is off before anyone in the house is awake”.

If you have a performance problem like headaches, case studies are a vital key to discover trends and uncover patterns.  In this runner, I analyzed and documented her symptoms over a span of a two months. The findings: A pattern of running any distance over 10 km would result in a three-day post-run headache. Not fun.

No amount of Tylenol or Advil could alleviate this constant throbbing headache. Something had to change and quitting running wan not an option!

We began supplementing with magnesium.  Please note, it is important to taper the dose to avoid episodes of diarrhea, and you need to do this with the support of your Naturopathic Doctor. With this small change, the headaches never materialized and energy later in the day improved. The musculoskeletal benefits also gave sore joints a break and lessened post-run pain.

By alleviating the headache symptoms, she could continue training and more importantly move on with her amazing life.  Great news for the patient. Let’s find out what was happening on a physiological level.

The body makes energy using the Kreb’s cycle, remember high school biology? Well, magnesium is a part of this cycle which makes it crucial for energy metabolism and ATP production.  Magnesium supplementation is attributed to the afternoon energy perk she was feeling.

A deficiency in magnesium can lead to fatigue, muscle cramps/twitches and reduced performance. Other factors such as posture and gait can come into play. In this athlete, the tension headaches were being created from the additional stress around the neck and shoulders.  By giving the body the tools it needs recovery, it can work in synergy to address these issues.

Serotonin receptors, nitric oxide synthesis and release, and a variety of other neurotransmitters are affected by magnesium concentrations, which may be why it had such profound effects on the post run headaches.

Athletes may put further magnesium demands on their body via strenuous training and sweating. These demands may increase magnesium requirements by 10-20%. Therefore, an adequate intake can reduce athletic fatigue on the nervous system and reduce accumulation of lactic acid.

It is important to understand that this blog is not medical advice, not every case is as straightforward and that not every supplement is beneficial for everyone.  I work with my patients to create individualized treatment plans according to what systems are under stress and which systems require further support.  The big take away is – don’t ignore your symptoms. They are your body’s way of telling you something is wrong.  Let’s work together so you can change, explore and live!


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!

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Sep 3

Consuming Under Stress – Does Your Health Care Provider Match Your Expectations?

It’s Difficult to be a Consumer

It is a confusing time to be a consumer. The volume of decisions, the range of options, and the access to information can create much angst and doubt. When this is further complicated by the fear in a health crisis and the choice is of a healthcare provider, there can be even more stress involved.

Health care has been influenced by the industrial age in terms of thinking of the body as separate parts. As we have moved into the technological age we are now realizing the complexities of an ecosystem that is far more nuanced and beautifully influenced by different things.

When looking at how long histologically it takes a cell to recover with pristine diet and frequency of care, there are some time-lines for tissue healing that can be expected. Muscles take 6-8 weeks to repair; ligaments and tendons 12-16 weeks; nerve cells take 12-16 months. These are the facts of healing. Yet, with the right goal and context we are able to feel pain-free within 2-3 weeks.

When ‘shopping’ for a practitioner, it is important to find someone who understands your needs and shares your values when it comes to putting your puzzle together; not every knowledgeable person will have your answer. Being informed involves acknowledging the importance of timing as, when we find our health compromised, the right person and the right information at the right time is key.

With that in mind, here are five things you should know about me:

  1. You are not just a spine to me and your function and recovery cannot be measured by x-ray or MRI.
  2. I am evidence-informed and brain-centric.
  3. I am inspired by the understanding of mechanism and pursuit of simplicity.
  4. I am poly-influenced in technique and paradigm with no particular loyalty.
  5. I aim to not get distracted by the sizzle, but want the steak/tofu burger.

I recently had a conversation with an ER doctor who frankly stated that he didn’t have the proper knowledge or management skills to treat back pain unless there was direct trauma to the spine. This is not a criticism of hospital care, rather a reminder to consumers to understand what services you are accessing and manage your expectations appropriately. It is also a reminder to myself and other professionals to understand our roles with the skills and limitations that we bring to the table.

They say you can’t judge a snail by how it climbs a tree. So, if you’re having a heart attack, don’t book with your chiropractor.

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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Aug 29

An Honest Portrayal of What it Means To Face Eosinophilic Granulomatosis

Just over a year ago I was released from the hospital. I had spent nearly a month in a bed, barely able to walk. Weighing in at just over 100 lbs, I had lost 30% of my body weight which left me so incredibly weak that I could not lift my legs and walking to the bathroom left me winded. I had suffered sensory nerve damage in my back, legs, and feet, but those were only miniscule issues compared to the median nerve damage that rendered my left hand completely lifeless, useless, and numb. The cause was vasculitis.

If we want to be specific, I have a form of vasculitis called eosinophilic granulomatosis with polyangiitis (aka EGPA or Churg-Strauss Syndrome). It’s an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation in the blood vessel walls all over my body and often affects organs and nerves.

While in the hospital, I saw seven different specialists, and did 14 different types of test (many were performed multiple times), including a bone marrow biopsy and a lumbar puncture (spinal tap). I was poked and prodded all in the name of ruling out other possible diagnoses. In my already weakened state, this was unbelievably tiresome and difficult, yet completely necessary.

My medication treatment primarily consisted of high doses of steroids (prednisone) to get the disease into remission. Once we gained control of the inflammation, I did 5 months of chemotherapy (cyclophosphamide) to suppress my immune system. Since that time, I have been on an oral immune suppressant (azathioprine) which I continue to use today.

Due to my extensive muscle loss, I required a walker to get around. At first, I used a wheel-less model to get to and from the bathroom, but eventually graduated to a wheeled version, and then to a cane. Being 33 years old at the time and depending on a walker to get around was not only a blow to my ego and previous physical stature (I had once been a two-time MVP on a varsity rowing crew), but more significantly to my mental health.

Prior to my vasculitis, I would have classified myself as having a very good psychological and emotional wellbeing. Since my illness my mental health has been a roller coaster of ups and downs. I get overwhelmed with sadness out of nowhere and without warning. I am floored with emotion when I think back to my experience. What’s worse, I can’t get through a Disney movie without balling my eyes out! I watched Disney’s Inside Out, and Sadness got me real good, right in the feelers (Sadness is a character. If you haven’t already, watch it). All jokes aside, this past year has been an eye opener to me with regard to my mental wellbeing. What I once took for granted, is now something I think about on a daily basis.

You may be wondering where I am today? Only a short year after being released from the hospital, I am now back to work, playing sports, and more or less doing everything I used to! My neurologist says I’m the poster boy for vasculitis and I’ve been told by many health care providers that my recovery could not be going any better.

What is my secret? I honestly do not know, but I will share a few things that definitely helped.

  1. I had good health habits before I got sick.

I’m not saying I was the epitome of health, but I did have good habits that included making good food choices and being active. Having good habits prior to getting sick made my recovery exponentially easier once discharged from the hospital. It meant the only things I needed to do in my recovery, were the things I already knew. I didn’t have to learn new habits or train myself to do things differently.

When it comes to food, I love my vegetables! If any of you have ever eaten hospital food you know what I mean when I say the food is terrible. Vegetables consisted of frozen corn, peas, and carrots, or the occasional iceberg salad (literally nothing else but iceberg lettuce). This is why I couldn’t wait to get out of the hospital and eat real food again.

When it came to physical activity, I used to do everything, including, hockey, ultimate frisbee, snowboarding, surfing, standup paddleboarding, running, cycling, and much more. When I came home, I was itching to be active. I couldn’t wait till I could run again. I desperately wanted to regain my body and do the things I love. I was on a mission.

  1. Do what the doctor says!

I cannot believe how many people see their doctor or healthcare provider and do not follow through with the treatment plan! If they tell you to do your exercises, do them! If they give you drugs, take them! If they tell you to come back in two weeks, go see them in two weeks! I built a large healthcare team to support me and they say they wished all patients did what they were told. It blows my mind that people don’t listen, then complain when they don’t see results!

*My only caveat here is that I built a healthcare team I trust. You must advocate for yourself and if something doesn’t feel right, seek a second opinion.

  1. “What it takes”

This is my new life motto. Once I knew I could recover from my illness, I knew I had to do everything and anything to get better. There wasn’t room for excuses. There wasn’t any time to waste. I had all of the support one could ask for from family and friends, and it was now up to me to do “what it takes”. If I wanted to get my old life back, it had to start with me.

I have one last thing I must acknowledge before I end. While I say this is my journey, and I say that I had to overcome obstacles to be here today, none of this, I repeat, none of this, would have been possible if it were not for the love, support, and sacrifice provided by my family and friends. Whether it was a phone call, a text, a prayer, or a visit, my people came through for me big time! They were the driving force behind me and made my recovery a reality.

It took me a long year before I was ready to share my experience with the world. Truth be told, I still don’t think I’m ready. Building up to this moment, there were so many things flying through my mind. Most significantly, was the fact that I have yet to properly thank everyone who supported me. Every time I try to do so, I get swept up in the painful emotion and memory of how my illness impacted me and those around me. To everyone who helped me, thank you. Thank you times infinity! You got me through the toughest part of my life. I am eternally grateful and am unsure if I can ever truly repay you (but I’ll try).

This article is not meant to be a sob story about how my health hit rock bottom. Nor is it meant to be a boastful story of how strong I am. Instead, it is an honest and cathartic portrayal of my journey. When I was in my darkest place, I was surrounded by many people but yet I still felt alone. I felt like nobody else could understand. I was later connected with an old friend who truly understood and shone light in my time of need. I can only hope that my story reaches someone who needs it.

Greg

Follow my journey to living life on Instagram: @ghummer

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Aug 24

Is your energy gel actually slowing you down?

As an active runner and Naturopathic Doctor, I hear a lot of talk about energy gel and goo’s especially from my running and cycling clients. The challenge they find is that there is so much information and marketing out there, they don’t know which ones to choose? And what if that little package of power was causing more harm than good?

I remember the first running convention I went to and how excited I was to check out all the products on the market.  My excitement slowly diminished as I went from vendor to vendor reading labels and claims. It seemed that every gel or energy supplement included maltodextrin in its ingredient list…even the organic name brands!  Perplexed, I made a mission to find a healthier alternative.

Maltodextrin is most commonly derived from corn or wheat depending on the manufacturing origination.  It is a polysaccharide starch.  This carb is attractive. It’s glycemic index far surpasses that of white sugar which makes it easily and quickly absorbed into the system without dehydrating endurance athletes.  This coupled with it’s affordable manufacturing costs leaves it a very desirable ingredient in everything from energy gel to, nutrition bars, and many meal replacement shakes. While it can have big benefits for quick energy, it can also be harmful to the digestive system with major performance side effects.

When a patient comes to see me, my goal is to help them improve their health complaints.  Through physical examination and consultation, I often find that the digestive system is overlooked when it comes to athletic performance and that what we ingest can be a major contributor to our symptoms.  When an athlete thinks of becoming stronger, faster and preventing injuries it is essential to look at their musculoskeletal system, but what will really drive results is looking at their health in the context of their entire body, specifically the neurophysiological connections and the health of the gastrointestinal system.

Many people in today’s world are sensitive to genetically modified corn and wheat.  When these foods are consumed, inflammatory pathways are stimulated.  This can both hinder our absorption and performance.  A 2015 study by Nickerson, Chanin and McDonald stated the additive maltodextrin “impairs cellular anti-bacterial responses and suppresses intestinal anti-microbial defense mechanisms”.  This study was geared towards those with irritable bowel syndrome, but what does this mean for the general public? Part of the anti-microbial defense system that is being suppressed is our natural gut flora, or probiotics. These warriors help to modulate inflammatory cytokines IL-1 and IL-2. Without this regulation, our inflammation levels are harder to control, leading to increased injuries and longer healing times.

Instead of relying on the claims on the package, monitor your own performance. The next time you pop an energy gel, pay attention to your symptoms, especially your digestive system:

  • Do you feel gassy or bloated?
  • Has your energy changed?
  • Do you have a mental or physical crash shortly after?
  • Has your mood changed?
  • Do you have a headache?
  • Has your performance changed?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may want to consider other options, such as making your own energy supplement.  It isn’t as hard or time consuming as one might think.  Simply adding 2 tbsp’s of 100% Maple Syrup to your water or even putting it in a ziplock bag, or reusable squeeze pack.

Why maple syrup?  Not only is it Canadian, but you can check out the nutritional charts from www.purecanadamaple.com

Many people report, that 100% pure maple syrup provides energy support with less of a crash.  It proves vitamins and minerals such as manganese, riboflavin, zinc and in lesser quantities magnesium, calcium and potassium and upwards of 65 antioxidants!

You can get creative with your energy gel recipes.  Try adding lemon or lime, a pinch of Himalayan Sea Salt and a pinch of Turmeric!

The point is, we need to look beyond the symptoms and look for physiological connections.  I can help you assess your environment for performance limiting factors like maltodetextrin. Improving your gastrointestinal absorption will allow your body to circulate the tools it needs to recover and excel!

References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25738413

http://www.purecanadamaple.com/benefits-of-maple-syrup/maple-syrup-nutrition/

http://fitnessfortravel.com/is-maltodextrin-bad-for-you/



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!

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May 30

Pee a little when you run?

Peeing a little when you run is a very common symptom. While the severity can range for an annoying, possibly embarrassing, inconvenience to a huge obstacle in participating in your favourite sport. As a Naturopathic Doctor I care about health promotion and am invested in the quality of your health. For me, running is a wonderful tool for a health promotion and disease prevention and when I hear clients are “peeing a little” I get concerned. Not only because I want you to be happy, healthy and running freely but mostly because “peeing a little” is a sign of pelvic instability, putting you at increased risk for other injuries.

Supporting our pelvic floor and internal organs isn’t something we tend to think about…until things go wrong.  New moms, post surgical patients and those suffering from constipation are just a few who may be suffering more than others.  During delivery, the muscles of the pelvic floor are stretched and can be weakened.   Possible bruising, tearing and residual pain can contribute to incontinence and as well as prolapsed organs. The chronic downward pressure from years of constipation can also wreak havoc on this region.  What does that mean?  You might pee a little when you run!

Medications and surgical procedures are available for over active or weak bladders but are generally reserved for more severe cases and do not often fully address your risk of injury or love of running.  There is often a huge gap in prescribing therapy and without the right medical advice, we might feel we are left to accept the fact that we have to manage peeing and running, and for me this is unacceptable.

As with any condition, it is important to understand your options and address why you may be suffering.  In regards to incontinence, your practitioner needs to know, are your muscles too weak and you need to support your pelvic floor? Or are these same muscles too tense and in a constant state of contraction?  For some, the root of their problem might stem from a mental emotional platform, or even be attributed to certain foods or bladder stimulants commonly in the environment.  A thorough diagnosis and assessment should be complete and pelvic instability should not be ignored.

Treatment options are available and we believe an integrative model provides the most comprehensive support. Your options might include pelvic physiotherapy, nutrition advice to decrease stimulation from irritation or constipation, and even acupuncture.

In fact, studies show acupuncture is a safe and effective method of reducing the amount of leakage we may experience.  Whole-body benefits are received with acupuncture in which other ailments and imbalances such as post partum depression and constipation can be addressed at the same time.  Often patients feel relaxed and refreshed post treatment.  Four or more weekly acupuncture treatments have been shown to significantly improve symptoms.

Rest assured it certainly is OK to “pee a little” but it’s not ok to settle when you have options and your future running self is at risk. Regaining bladder control is empowering and can reward us with the confidence to maintain an exercise program and active lifestyle.  Naturopathic Doctors are trained in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture.  Making use of your extended health care insurance can help you live the life you want!

For more information on how to support your pelvic floor, sign up for this months complimentary seminar and Pelvic Floor Program!


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!

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