Hair Loss: A Common Female Health Concern

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Did you know that hair loss is a common female health concern.  This is something that I find many women that seek my help for the first time are struggling with.

Normally we should lose about 100-150 strands of hair a day.  Some women notice that the number of hairs they are shedding gradually increases to an amount that is not typical for them.  Other women notice their hair volume feels less, or thinner, than in the past.

The clinical term for an alteration in the hair cycle, leading to excess shedding is known as Telogen effluvium.  The causes of this state include excess emotional or physical stress, hypothyroidism, dieting or malnutrition, anemia, adverse effect from some pharmaceutical drugs and chronic illness.  Having a diagnosis of telogen effluvium does not necessarily lead to an effective hair loss prevention pill.

Many women wonder if taking vitamins will help slow the progression or prevent hair loss.  However, most women need an individualized approach to find an effective solution.

Here’s a review of why digging deep and getting to the fundamentals of health is the best way to cure, reverse and address this concern.

  1. Emotional or Physical Stress 
    • Hi, I’m a North American Woman.  I’m certain we’ve met.  You, know… I’m the multi-tasking juggernaut.  I got 99 daily duties and a bubble bath ain’t one.
    • The daily demands that women face are at an all time high.  The emotional and physical stress this puts on our bodies can alter our body chemistry, the way we absorb nutrients and the balance of our physiology.  This has many inward implications with regard to health, and an outward expression of that can be hair loss.
  2. Hypothyroidism
    • An underactive thyroid can result in increased hair loss.  However, women who have not been diagnosed with a thyroid condition, or who have normal thyroid tests, can also experience hair loss related to thyroid health and function.  There are many effective non-prescription options for thyroid support.
  3. Dieting, Malnutrition, Anemia
    • A deficiency in the amount of nutrients taken up by the body can cause structural components, like hair and nails, to become weak.  When calories are restricted, this can lead to a reduction of the supply of the essential building blocks required for hair structure.
    • Anemia can be a symptom of poor nutrient absorption due to poor digestive function.  Women with poor nutrient uptake can also lack the essential building blocks for hair structure.
  4. Pharmaceutical Drugs
    • Certain prescribed and over the counter (OTC) medications can cause hair loss as a side effect.  If you are required to take a prescription medication due to a health concern, there are often natural options that can be safely done alongside a prescribed medication to lessen their side effects.  When it comes to OTC medication, consider consulting a Naturopathic Doctor to discuss natural alternatives that can reduce the need for OTCs.
  5. Chronic Illness
    • Many women suffer with chronic health concerns such as arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel syndrome, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, migraine headaches, skin conditions and/or allergies.  Did you know that the root cause of these illnesses can also be the cause of hair loss.  Tackling a chronic health concern may seem daunting, but there are ways to help optimize health.  Improved hair quality is just one reflection of balanced health.

If you are seeking a non-prescription approach to improving the quality of your hair, or if you have any questions or would like more information about this topic, feel free to email me at drlaura@winhealth.ca.

Exhaustion & Burnout: Accepting New Lows?

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tired woman with coffee and air horn

Was your summer restful?  Did you recharge your batteries while soaking up the sun and enjoying time in the great outdoors?  Feeling ready for the change of seasons and change of routine that September brings?

Hopefully your answer to those questions is: Yes!  Bring on Back To School and the Canadian Winter!!  But for some, that might not be the case.

Is it possible that some North Americans find the summer to be more stressful?  That’s what this report claims.

The media often reports on how stressed, burnt out and exhausted we are.  People often admit their busy schedules make them feel tired and run down.  This can happen even during our warmer summer months, and is typically worse in the winter.

Seeking help for fatigue with the medical doctor can be lost in translation because there is often not enough time for this discussion and/or unless there is a treatable concern there isn’t a medication for fatigue.  That being said, many people who are on medication for a treatable concern can still struggle with nagging fatigue.  In addition, many people are found to have normal test results and are otherwise healthy but also fight exhaustion.

It seems that we have come to accept fatigue as a new normal.  Surrendering to it as we continue to take on the go-go-go of our lifestyles.  Is this really how it has to be?  Drag ourselves out of bed, feel that mid-day slump, count on that coffee as a pick me up and then crash at night* (* but chances are many exhausted people don’t sleep well, either).

What do I say to all of this… a loud and resounding: SNAP OUT OF IT EVERYONE!  

Living in an exhausted, fatigue, sleep deprived, hair falling out, burned out state does not have to be your new normal.

Create a state for yourself that includes optimal health.  This is possible for everyone.  If you have a lot to do in your life and want to live life to the fullest, your energy level is a game changer.  There are many factors that can help optimize energy and improve resiliency.

Here are my TOP 5 focal points for fatigue:

  1. Nutrition
  2. Body chemistry (i.e. acidity levels vs alkalinity levels)
  3. Digestive Strength & Nutrient Absorption
  4. Stress Protection
  5. Thyroid/Adrenal Balance  (Note: Did you know that people who have had normal thyroid tests can still need thyroid support?)

Putting these focal points into perspective and determining how they fit into your health picture is something Naturopathic Doctors do everyday with their patients who suffer from ongoing fatigue.  We are a pretty unique group of health care provider who will take on this comprehensive approach to help you.  From there, designing strategies that are a good fit, and providing guidance along the way as people work towards optimal health, is how we help reclaim their best expression of health.

Feeling like you need a boost?  Feel free to email me at drlaura@winhealth.ca for more information about how Naturopathic Medicine in your health care can help.

 

Refuel With Whole Foods

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I’m on a nutrition kick.  Last week I posted about nutrition reporting that can go horribly wrong.

This week I’m featuring an article that gets it right.  I came across this great article that looked at how to properly refuel after exercise.

Check it out here: How To Properly Refuel Your Body After Working Out

This article offers great guidance about what we want to achieve after a work out and what foods address:

  1. Reducing Inflammation
  2. Immune Support
  3. Muscle Replenishment
  4. Tissue Repair
  5. Hormonal Support
  6. Re-Hydration

I am often asked about what to eat before and after exercise.  This is so important.  I’ve had just as many conversations with people who exercise and feel it’s counterproductive to eat before or after.  This couldn’t be farther from the truth.  Your body needs specific nutrients as fuel for your body.

If you are looking for guidance with your exercise nutrition free free to email me at drlaura@winhealth.ca.  Providing individualized nutrition strategies is something that I am passionate about, as I believe that the foundation of optimal health comes from diet and exercise.  I’m always happy to help answer questions and lend clarity through health education.

When Online Nutrition Reporting Goes Wrong

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So many people are conflicted and confused when it comes to healthy eating.  It’s no surprise after reading an article like this:

9 Alarmingly Caloric Foods You Never Would’ve Expected

This article is an excellent example of nutrition reporting gone horribly wrong.

Don’t believe the hype.  Talk with an expert in individualized nutrition, like a Naturopathic Doctor, to get straight advice on healthy eating.  When you work with a Naturopathic Doctor you can get nutrition guidance and also work on specific health concerns with safe and effective natural remedies.

Check back next Wednesday for a nutrition article that was well done.

I work with people to create customized nutrition plans based on their health goals.  If you would like more information please feel free to email me at drlaura@winhealth.ca and I’d be happy to help.

Wring Out The Stress: The Holidays are coming!

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Before you “Ring in the New Year” take time to wring out the stress.  The change of pace this time of year inevitably effects everyone in some way.  Some feel it more than others.

During the “regular” (i.e. non-Holiday) weeks of the year I feel my best when I get a weekly dose of yoga.  I always hope that the holiday bustle doesn’t sway me to skip my stretching because it can start to make a big difference in the way I feel, my energy, my sleep and my management of stress.

Stretching is a very effective way to release tension and detoxify the muscles, joints and organs.  When we combine that with deep breathing, even for just a few minutes, this can significantly balance our stress hormones (aka cortisol).

Taking in a regular yoga class is great, but there are some very simple and easy stretching exercises that you can do at home.  Check out this great example: How To Stretch The Toxins Out Of Your Body.

In the upcoming weeks and months, be sure to watch for more posts that feature the simple, easy, yoga inspired strategies that help detoxify and reduce stress.  These days I’m all about making the old school new again…those yogis truly knew what they were doing.

 

Thyroid Health: The Big Picture

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Last week I presented a WIN Webinar on the topic of Optimizing Metabolism.  I thought this was a really important health topic to present on because I find in my practice I talk with so many people, mostly women, who are suffering with one or a combination of symptoms related to metabolism.  Many of the people I speak with tell me their experiences and there are two common situations that they share.  Some are being treated for a thyroid condition but still struggle with symptoms, while others feel unwell despite normal lab tests.

People who suspect they have a thyroid issue can experience fatigue, weight gain, difficult weight loss, hair loss, constipation and/or intolerance to the cold weather.  It can be frustrating to patients who are not feeling their best even though they are doing all they can through conventional health care to be well.

A recent article reviewed how the conventional route of testing for thyroid issues may not be the most ideal.  In North America, thyroid conditions are a top chronic health concern.  To diagnose a thyroid condition medical doctors will request patients have a blood test to evaluate their TSH levels.  However, leading experts feel concern about using this test as the gold standard.  Furthermore, this is just one of a number of testable hormone levels that can be used to more fully understand what is happening metabolically.  For example, when I work with a patient expressing concern and we have gone on to test other thyroid markers through blood work, or adrenal status through salivary hormone testing, imbalances may be found that were not previously discovered and we understand more clearly what is happening metabolically.

Read more here: Sick of being tired? Sneaky signs your thyroid is slacking off.

As a Naturopathic Doctor I think about the Endocrine System as a whole when anyone seeks my help for a thyroid condition.  Taking in the totality of a person’s metabolic function is important if we want to find a treatment plan that is effective for that individual.  Addressing each person’s unique health picture will help re-establish efficiency in the way their body works, which results in the resolution of symptoms.

To catch an encore of my WIN Webinar on metabolism or for more information about the naturopathic treatment of metabolic concerns feel free to email me at drlaura@winhealth.ca.

 

*** Don’t miss tonight’s FREE Webinar on Boosting Your Immune System.  Register here: REGISTER ME! ***

Goitergenic Greens: Don’t Believe The Hype

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I have many patients who have been informed by the media or other health care providers that they should limit their intake of certain vegetables because it can affect their thyroid health.  The vegetables in question are those of the brassica family such as broccoli, kale, cabbage, brussel sprouts and other vegetables.  The message is that these vegetables should be avoided.  Those with a thyroid dysfunction may also read, or are told, to not consume these vegetables at all.

This is the kind of information that feeds into food confusion and causes folks to avoid eating food that is perfectly nutritious for them.  Most of us don’t get enough green, non-salad, vegetables on a daily basis, so let’s not limit these awesome, health promoting, cancer fighting vegetables if we don’t have to.  We really don’t have to worry about this… and I’ll tell you why.

What is a goitergen?

Goitergens occur naturally in certain foods or are chemically synthesized, such as in certain pharmaceutical medications.  These ingested forms, once broken down in our bodies, may interfere with thyroid function.  A prolonged interference with thyroid function may lead to an enlargement of the thyroid called a “goiter.”

What are goitergenic foods?

The foods that contain goitergens include:

Brassica family veggies: Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, Kale, Kohlrabi, Nappa, Rapini, Turnips, Collard Greens

Spinach

Flax Seed

Pine nuts, peanuts

Soybeans

Millet

Sweet Potato

Peaches, Pears, Strawberries

Now… doesn’t that look like a list of some of the most healthy food in our diet?  It certainly does!  Which is why it would be a shame to limit them.

Most notably because all the Brassica family veggies and Flax Seed (ground) are tremendously protective against breast cancer, in addition to liver and colon cancer.  Moreover, these non-salad greens help fight inflammation in the body and provide the body with a healthy dose of minerals which protect our bones and cardiovascular system.

 

Goitergens are denatured when the food they contained is cooked

For the vast majority of individuals, brassica greens can be enjoyed on daily basis.  It is healthy to have small amounts of raw brassica vegetables every day in combination with a good variety of cooked brassica vegetables.  When we cook brassica vegetables the goitergenic compounds are deactivated.  Like any food, we get the most benefit when we rotate the types of greens we are eating.  When these vegetables are steamed, cooked or fermented the goitergenic compounds are reduced and these foods can be enjoyed as part of a healthy diet.

 

To get the facts about thyroid health, be sure to catch my FREE Live Webinar on Wednesday November 12th at 7:00pm.  Click Here To Register: Optimizing Metabolism: Thyroid & Adrenal Balance