Preventative Medicine: Cardiologist Breaks Away From Convention

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I recently read this account from Dr. Columbus Batiste, a cardiologist who has embraced proactive heath care and preventative medicine in his approach to Cardiology.  His concise recollection of his journey towards holistic health that breaks away from conventional medicine to better the health of his patients is refreshing and timely.

As the number of people being diagnosed with Heart Disease in North America continues to soar, we need to recognize that a broader approach to heart health, in addition to other chronic illnesses, must be considered.  Dr. Batiste’s concise personal and professional story of taking up a new path in heath is a must read!

Check out Dr. Batiste’s story here:  Why I Abandoned Traditional Cardiology to Become the “Healthy Heart Doc”

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Dr. Laura’s Health Goals for 2015

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Do yoga on a tree stump in the mountains? That would be nice… I’m starting with just doing more of it. 🙂

 

I believe that it is the little things we do 365 days a year that keep us feeling great – body, mind and spirit.  However, it is always fun to consider a few attainable health goals for the new year.  It’s hard to not think of a new year as a fresh start.  So why not recycle, restart, refresh or renew some healthy habits?

Here are the simple healthy little things I’ve resolved to continue working on this year…

1) Drink More Water

Ahhh… water.   You and I are best buds.  Let’s keep it going this year.

2) Get A Regular Shot Of Yoga

The deep breathing and stretching from yoga significantly impacts how I feel physically and emotionally.  I find my joints feel better, my posture is better, my mood feels lighter and I can more easily adapt to the ups and downs that come my way each day.

Before having my first child five years ago I did yoga almost everyday.  After having my darling eldest, I lost that thread for a while and I have been working my way back to a regular practice.  In 2014 I did more yoga than in prior years and I noticed that I felt significantly better when I consistently practiced.

So here’s to 2015… more yoga for me… My Sunshine Vitamin.

3) Skin Brush Before Bed

I have had such positive feedback about those who have taken up skin brushing since reading my blog posts about it or my latest WO Magazine article.  I’m with you!  It’s such a great thing for our health.  This one’s staying in the mix with my bedtime routine.

4) Daily Dose of Fermented Food / Probiotic Supplement

This fall I made my first batch of probiotic rich, homemade fermented sauerkraut.  I’ve been enjoying a serving of it almost daily.  I just picked up two more healthy looking cabbages from the grocery store for my next batch.  My hope is to keep it going year round.

If sauerkraut isn’t your thing, taking a good quality (health food store variety or professionally recommended) probiotic is a great alternative.

5) Stay In The Moment

A patient told me today “Some days seem to go by so slowly until we look back and we realize how fast time has gone.”  Ferris Bueller once said “Life moves pretty fast.  If you don’t stop and look around for a while you might miss it.”  I truly feel that savouring the moment and being in the present is so important.  There is so much beauty in the world and in our lives that is ever so subtle.  It is easily missed when we are hurried or caught up in our day.  When we slow down and clear our minds of the “static” we can take this beauty in and be part of it.

This goes beyond the awesome moments.  Enjoying the easy, breezy, fun in life is a given.  It is equally important to stay grounded, aware and appreciative of even the difficult or mundane things in life rather than rushing through or wishing these moments away.  Even these moments have purpose.

Slowing down and staying in the moment is a very challenging path, but I am going to keep working on it this year.

What are the healthy little things that you are working on this year?  I’d love to hear from you, so post a comment and let’s support each other in our journey toward our best health.

An Aspirin A Day… May Do More Harm Than Good

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As I prepare to take a little break from my blog for the holidays, I am devoting my last hot health topic post of the year to some recent news involving Aspirin.  This is such an important health topic to me because I have always been weary of  “Aspirin A Day” recommendation.  I just could never fully reconcile the daily long term use of something that had such well established toxic effects.

This week Dr. Mercola publicized the recent change of tune by the US Food & Drug Administration (aka the FDA) about the usefulness of taking a daily low dose Aspirin.  After decades of promoting the daily use of Aspirin to help folks prevent heart attacks, their stance now is:

“FDA has concluded that the data do not support the use of aspirin as a preventive medication by people who have not had a heart attack, stroke or cardiovascular problems, a use that is called ‘primary prevention.’ In such people, the benefit has not been established but risks — such as dangerous bleeding into the brain or stomach — are still present.

…Pause… It took this long for the FDA to acknowledge the inevitable toxicity associated with the regular use of this medication?  And …strangely… why is this important information not being broadcast by mainstream media.

For decades, tens of millions of well meaning people have been following the guidelines put out by federal agencies to uphold “healthy” practices.  However, it is well known that Aspirin breaks down the lining of the digestive tract and causes bleeding, ulcers and liver toxicity.  Despite this, the FDA has not countered the everyday use of Aspirin until now.

Since the onset of my practice I have been informing patients who subscribe to taking a daily Aspirin that the risks outweighed the benefit.  Health is so central to strong and healthy digestion and detoxificaiton.  In addition, its well documented that heart health is most influenced by diet and lifestyle.  Finally, there are very effective natural remedies that manage chronic inflammation and prevent cardiovascular degeneration, such as fish oil, CoQ10, taurine and magnesium.

You can read Dr. Mercola’s article here:  FDA Reverses Its Position on Daily Aspirin.  He concisely reviews all the information and also offers excellent suggestions for heart health.

If you or someone you know is taking a daily dose of Aspirin a day, share this information with them.  For professional advice regarding a safe and effective approach to the prevention of heart disease feel free to contact me at drlaura@winhealth.ca.

Lyme Disease

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As the snow is melting and we look forward to warmer weather, I thought this would be a good time to post about the Naturopathic treatment of Lyme disease.  Tick populations are high during the warmer months in the Niagara region, and we have had countless patients report tick bites and also show the signs of infection.  Lyme disease is not often focused on in the media, however people do contract the illness very frequently.  I feel that our current state of health is a contributing factor to why people are much more susceptible to developing and suffering with Lyme disease.

What is Lyme Disease?

Lyme disease is an infection by a bacteria that enters the bloodstream through a tick bite given by an infected tick.  Borrellia burgdorferi is the infectious agent, transferred by the tick, that is common to North America.  Ticks have a hard outer shell and when they bite they burrow their heads into the skin.  This often requires the tick to be carefully removed with tweezers or a scraping tool.

Borrellia burgdorferi is a spirochetal bacteria.  Spirochetes are very difficult to treat because they multiply in a way that enables them to shift their genetic make up.  This makes creating a drug to target them very difficult.

What are the symptoms?

1) A tick bite occurs.

target lesion

2) A target lesion may appear at the site of the bite (occurs in 70-80% of those infected).  A target lesion is a sign of localized infection at the site of the bite.  It can be the size of a loonie or larger.

3) Some people will experience a delayed onset of the symptoms.  This is an “incubation” period that can last 1-2 weeks.  This can also vary and be much shorter or longer (months-years later).

4) Early symptoms: target lesion, rash, fever, headache, fatigue.

5) Later symptoms: músculo-skeletal, central nervous system and cardiovascular symptoms.  For example, persistent muscle pain, joint pain, difficulty walking, extreme fatigue, poor memory and cognitive function, insomnia, congestive heart failure.

How Can Naturopathic Treatment Help?

Conventional treatment of Lyme Disease includes the repeated use of antibiotics.  There are a handful of conventional doctors in North America, who specialize in the treatment of Lyme disease, who also suggest nutritional changes to promote health and healing.

In Naturopathic Medicine we have found that those with Lyme disease experience an obstacle to cure this issue because of:

a) Acidic body chemistry is causing the bacteria to thrive in their body and also reduces the ability for the immune system to fight off the bacteria.

b) Inflammatory foods in the diet hinder the body’s immune system to work effectively and also contributes to acidity.

c) Poor detoxification pathways which lead to the build up of waste in the bloodstream and the body’s tissue.  This also contributes to acidity and stifles the immune system from clearing the infection.

d) Dysbiosis, or low levels of healthy bacteria.  When this is the case, unfavourable organisms, like Borrellia,  flourish.

In addition, we have the knowledge to use antibacterial and anti parasitic remedies that are natural and effective, yet do not carry the same depleting effects as antibiotics.

When treated by a Naturopathic Doctor, a dynamic, multifaceted plan is created to suit the individual going through Lyme disease.  Every patient’s expression of the disease is different, so we work on the different elements of each patient’s health to more effectively address the disease.

If you have questions or need more information about the Naturopathic treatment of Lyme disease.  Feel free to email me at drlaura@winhealth.ca.

If you are still drinking diet pop…just stop!

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Ok.. easier said than done.

Many people drink diet pop because they are trying to watch their calorie intake, some people use it as a source of caffeine for a pick-me-up while others prefer the taste of diet beverages.  Naturopathic Doctors have always educated the public about the dangers of artificial sweeteners and the detrimental side to drinking pop.

For those who enjoy drinking pop of any kind it may involve a process of gradually replacing it with healthier beverages.  When we drink sweet beverages our taste buds become very interested in that favour.  Pure fluids like water, herbal tea or green juices can pale in comparison.  This makes giving pop up a challenge for many people who enjoy it.

Today’s post features a collection of articles that illustrate the ill effects of drinking pop.  I recently saw an article that linked drinking pop to heart disease (see below), and with the month February, which is heart health month, on our heels I was inspired to post the article and a collection of others.  If you know someone who regularly drinks diet pop share these articles with them so they can be informed!

Thankfully more people are becoming more aware of the link between drinking pop and illness.  Check out this great article that reviews the change we are seeing: Diet Sodas losing popularity…switching to water, juicing.

These article are also worth reading…

1) Diet Soda Linked to Heart Disease Risk: “The researchers found that people who drank diet soft drinks daily were 43 percent more likely to have had a stroke or heart attack, or died of heart disease, than those who did not drink diet soda.”  (!!! = Laura’s reaction!  This was a 10 year study… 43%!!!)

2) Are Diet Soda Drinkers More Depressed?  New Study Says Maybe:  “Soda drinkers — particularly those who chose artifically sweetened diet sodas — were more likely to be diagnosed with depression than those who didn’t drink sweetened beverages.”  Although the article states that diet soda is not a cause of depression, the study seems to point to diet sodas as an aggravating factor.  In addition, although the researchers couldn’t comment on why this is, Naturopathic Doctors and other health care providers see artificial sweeteners as a neurotoxin, in other words, a poison to the brain and central nervous system.  For an overview of this, see Dr. Mercola’s article on Artificial Sweeteners and read the segments after and including “How Aspartame Acts Inside Your Body.”  Aspartame is just one of many problems with low calorie drinks…. see my picture above?  That’s from recommendation #3 (see below).

3) I couldn’t skip this “keeping it real” article from Food Babe.  She doesn’t mince words.  Check out her comprehensive review here: Coca Cola’s Low Calorie Beverages Will Kill You Before They Solve Obesity.

Snake in the Icebox: Laughter Is The Best Medicine

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My life is typically hectic.  I do my best to channel my inner yogi but there are days when I get swept away in the daily goings-on of life.

I noticed this was happening more these days… and I was starting to crave some laughter.  I love to laugh and I laugh often.  When I’m always “doing” it’s easy to forget about laughter.

So I did what any gal would do… I hid a rubber snake in the ice box.

Why did I do this?  Ok… this might not be for everyone, but this plan of mine was going to bring a little levity into our day.

Every morning my husband makes a smoothie with ice.  I knew it would get a big laugh out of him after a small and tolerable shock.

I don’t recommend anyone do this to anyone who has a snake phobia (!!!)… but you get the picture of what I was going for.

And so it goes, he’s moving around the kitchen getting ready for the day.  My oldest son is saying “Mommy, are you going to show daddy the snake!”… as I’m giggling and shushing him, my husband doesn’t have a clue what he’s talking about.

He goes for the icebox and “Surprise”… there it is!  He jumps back in horror!  But it only lasts a second as he realizes it’s a rubber snake.  And the laughter ensues.

Since then, the snake has been popping up in laundry baskets, on the piano, in the car… He’s trying to get me back, you see.  And even though I haven’t had my big “Surprise” moment, it’s making us laugh at the silliness of it all.

It’s good to be a little silly some times.  Especially if it makes you laugh a little (or a lot).

Here’s a fantastic article that I wanted to also share with you about how laughter has health promoting effects.  You can read it here:  Laughter: The Best Medicine.

Laugh well and laugh often, my friends.

Coconut Oil

I have a recipe for next week’s post for delicious gluten free, dairy free and sugar free carrot zucchini mini muffins (wow thats a mouthfull!) but I wanted to write about coconut oil first, which is one of the ingredients for the muffins.

Natural, unprocessed, coconut oil is one of those up and coming healthy food items.  Some people already know about it and use it often.  Some people have never used it before and are unsure about how to use it and why they should use it.

Natural coconut oil is more widely available in grocery stores, whereas just a few years ago I could only find it at a health food store and sometimes at bulk food stores.  It is more expensive than regular refined oil, but it is worth it and in most recipes a little will go a long way.

It is a saturated oil, which makes the FDA, WHO, and various heart and nutrition associations, advise against the consumption of large amounts.  Unfortunately, their views may be based on studies that looked at coconut oil in its hydrogenated form.  Any hydrogenated oil is NOT a good thing, whether it comes from olive oil (like the olive oil margarine that is marketed to be a natural alternative to regular butter or margarine), soy, dairy, coconut, etc, etc.  Hydrogenated oils and trans fats are very toxic to the human body and should be avoided.

Studies have shown that unprocessed “virgin” coconut oil is a very healthy oil to consume in the regular diet.  It is a plant based saturated oil, which behaves differently in the body than animal based saturated oil (like from bacon).  Many studies have shown that, although it is a saturated fat, natural coconut oil does have a very different health profile than saturated fats from animals and is not concerning when included in the diet in appropriate amounts.

There is a great article that was written in the New York Times by Melissa Clark in March of this year.  She explores the science and art behind using coconut oil in Once A Villain, Coconut Oil Charms the Health Food World. 

Some of the heatlh benefits include:

– Nourishes skin

For those of you who read my post on “Belly Butter” you might remember that I used coconut oil on my ever expanding belly during my first pregnancy and found it to be a great moisturizer.  🙂  Moreover, when it’s eaten (e.g. added to a smoothie) it can really help to nourish skin from the inside out.

– Protects the heart

Despite the concern from the established associations about how coconut oil may impact cholesterol levels, coconut oil is made up of 50% lauric acid, which is a component to healthy oils that have been shown to be protective of the heart.  The body does need good fats, especially for the cardiovascular system.  Good fats from plant sources (like flax, walnuts, olive oil and coconut), in addition to fish oil, helps to keep vessels flexible, supports the repair of injury and inflammation in the body and keeps vital organs protected.

– Supports metabolism

A misconception is that all fat should be eliminated when trying to acheive weight loss goals.   However, we need good fats to support the creation of hormones related to metabolism.  Hormones are fats!  If we have good fats in our diet, the body will have what it needs to make the hormones necessary for metabolic functions.

What does coconut oil look like?  How can I use it in cooking?

Coconut oil is actually a solid at room temperature.  Because of this consistency it can be used as a substitute for butter on toast.

Other uses:

– added to smoothies

– melted and added to recipes that call for oil

– used to grease baking pans or in frying pans instead of crisco, butter, margarine or other oils

– on the baking pan, veggies can be roasted with it

– use it to sauté vegetable in a pan with a little water

– added to desserts – there are many raw vegan desserts that are absolutely delightful that utilize natural coconut oil because it adds delicious flavour, it can help hold the treat together, it’s a wonderful essential component to raw vegan chocolate sauce (which I’ll post about someday), and it’s a healthy oil for our bodies.

How much coconut oil is ok to have everyday?

If you are using straight coconut oil (e.g. added to a smoothie or toast) I’d recommend anywhere between 1/2 to 1 tablespoon.

When using coconut oil in baking or cooking, just substitute the amount of oil called for with the coconut oil.  Also, I’ve found that at times I even used a little less coconut oil than what was called for because coconut oil can be a bit denser than regular liquid oils.