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The Nervous System and Cardiovascular Disease Risk

If you’ve ever found yourself in a state of panic or anxiety and tried slowing your breathing, controlling and lengthening the exhales, you know that it’s possible to use that breath to slow a quickened heart rate and calm the nervous system. Our brain controls the cardiovascular (CV) system, but how we react when we feel stress can also instruct the heart and blood vessels on how to respond. Long-term when we don’t cope well, when chronic stress or anxiety cause the sympathetic nervous system (“fight or flight”) to stay turned on all the time it changes how the CV

Thirty, Flirty and Thriving: Supplements to Optimize your 30s

It’s not surprising that our health focus changes as we age. Cellular aging (ongoing cell division) combined with environmental exposures, genetics and diet and lifestyle choices, all play a role in health outcomes, how we feel and even our appearance. You might notice physical changes after having children or just with time. Your body might look and work great at 30 but at 35+ it’s not uncommon to notice that smile and laugh lines are more prominent. Skin texture can change, hair can become thinner. Our joints might start making more creaking and cracking sounds as we move. And our

Balanced Fats and Brain Function

One of the biggest health concerns as we age is a decline in cognitive function associated with dementia. A condition that describes changes in cognitive function without a change in consciousness and is the result of underlying neurodegenerative diseases. Dementia can be classified as Alzheimer’s disease (AD), frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD), vascular dementia (VD), dementia with Lewy bodies and Parkinson’s associated dementia (PD). With each type of dementia there is a distinct pathophysiology with different genetic, metabolic and lifestyle risk factors. While dementia is difficult to treat once symptoms begin to appear it is important to consider preventative measures and

It Don’t Mean A Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing… Supplements for Your Own Roaring 20’s

Our 20s are often a time for self-exploration, growth, career and social development. Often considered our physiologic peak, our 20s are often overlooked as a time to actively engage in self-care and develop healthy practices, not only to help us thrive during this time but also in the future. In fact, major predictors of health in your 60s and 70s are initiated decades earlier. These decades-long observational studies can help guide young adults by establishing the clear correlations between health behaviours and future outcomes. Some of these common correlations include low calcium intake and risk of osteoporosis, toxin exposure and

Sugar and the Microbiome

The idea that our bodies are inhabited by trillions of bacteria is no longer a farfetched Sci Fi scheme. We now know that our colon is home to critters of all kinds – friendly and not so friendly microorganisms doing their part to stay alive. Moreover, they help us survive, aiding everything from our digestion to immunity. Studies have linked our gut microbes to mood regulation, tendency towards obesity1, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular health2, colon cancer3, Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome4. On a daily basis, these microbes help us metabolize foods and ascertain key nutrients, producing their very own

Antibiotics Don’t Play Favourites

Many of us have had to take antibiotics for one reason or another. They are often necessary to avoid or treat a serious infection. While they are great at targeting the bacteria that can harm us, they are unable to differentiate between the good bacteria and the bad. Millions of good bacteria live in our intestines and are vital to the digestive process. These bacteria colonize in the gut shortly after birth and are comprised of approximately 1,000 different species. They supply and synthesize essential nutrients like vitamin K, aid in the breakdown of various foods and play an important

How the Western Diet Causes Gut Inflammation

With multiple documentaries highlighting the negative effects of eating fast food, it’s not surprising that consuming processed foods – including the ones in your grocery store – contribute to inflammation and poor health. You might wonder, how exactly does that happen? If we are consuming foods made with grains and protein, why does this affect us so badly? We’re finding multiple mechanisms at play here, which is likely why we see such drastic changes when individuals attempt to live exclusively off fast foods in as little as days to weeks. First, consuming overly processed foods negatively impacts our gut microbiome,

Potassium and Constipation – The Forgotten Mineral

Have you ever felt backed up and received the advice to eat a banana or perhaps, some well-meaning friend tells you to avoid bananas at all costs when constipated? The truth, of course, lies in the details. You see, the regular functioning and regulation of our bowel movements is a multifactorial complex process. Constipation is defined as any difficult, incomplete, or unsatisfactory and/or infrequent defecation. Meaning that there can be many causes and many treatments – therefore, a banana may make good sense for some and not for others. Since constipation can be acute or chronic it’s important to note

Starting the Year Stress Free: Five Stages of Burnout

As the new year approaches it is a good time to take stock of where you are at on the burnout scale.  We are constantly bombarded by societal images of what success looks like and the pressure to attain it.  In our capitalist society, the view of the masses is that the more money you have, the more successful you are.  Though not all individuals share this perspective, that is still the bar of success and even happiness in the minds of many.  While trying to attain this “success,” people find themselves caught up in the rat race to get

All Work No Play Makes Us All a Little Cray

The chaos and challenges presented over the last two years have certainly shifted the norm in many ways both expected and unexpected. We are seeing a mental health crisis sweeping across nations and generations. An interesting phenomenon over the last year has been the radical reassessments of how society values time- what, who and how are we experiencing stress in our lives? And more importantly how do we move ourselves towards a more content and purposeful life? For some it may have been re-evaluating their personal relationships or living situations, their health, environment and certainly in their work. Sociologists have also described a growing dissatisfaction brewing in workplaces across North America, known as “the great resignation.” This mass movement to resign is apparent in corporate, retail and

Lesser-Known Stress Relieving Herbs

In the arena of stress relieving herbs, ashwaganha is having a moment in the limelight (with good reason) and cannabis stores are popping up everywhere. But the botanical world is overwhelmingly bountiful and provides a plethora of healing herbs shown to reduce anxiety, alleviate symptoms of stress, and get relaxation vibes going.   May we introduce you to some lesser-known stress relieving herbs shown to have promising results in the reduction of mental anguish:   Valerian:  For those familiar with valerian, it can smell funky. Like sweaty socks according to some. However, for those looking to alleviate anxiety, combat stress and get to sleep quicker at night, valerian can help. For centuries (since ancient Greek and Roman times), the herb valerian has been used as

Metabolic Syndrome and Weight Management

Weighty Matters Dear readers the topic of weight loss is a deeply personal and challenging topic for me both personally and professionally. So please note that the purpose of this blog is to bring greater awareness and understanding to the public regarding how our bodies regulate and store energy. While the tone is strictly academic, please remember that reality is much more complex and multifactorial. At the core of any weight discussion are humans who are multifaceted, as is our relationship with health. Always discuss with YOUR healthcare practitioner what long-term health considerations are best for you. A reductionist approach

Natural Treatment of Metabolic Syndrome and Heart Disease

Metabolic syndrome refers to the “perfect storm” of hypertension, dyslipidemia, poor blood glucose regulation, and the presence of intra-abdominal adipose accumulation. Having metabolic syndrome increases the likelihood of developing atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease (CVD), in addition to Type 2 diabetes.   Prevention and treatment of each of these disorders includes dietary and lifestyle changes, including decreasing intake of sugar and simple carbohydrates, and regular physical activity. However, many individuals find these changes too difficult, or may need additional support if areas such as blood pressure, glucose, insulin or cholesterol aren’t coming into normal range within a reasonable amount of time.   Conventional treatments often cause side effects that dissuade patients from

Natural Treatment of Metabolic Syndrome and Cardiovascular Disease

Metabolic syndrome refers to the “perfect storm” of hypertension, dyslipidemia, poor blood glucose regulation, and the presence of intra-abdominal adipose accumulation. Having metabolic syndrome increases the likelihood of developing atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease (CVD), in addition to Type 2 diabetes. Prevention and treatment of each of these disorders includes dietary and lifestyle changes, including decreasing intake of sugar and simple carbohydrates, and regular physical activity. However, many individuals find these changes too difficult, or may need additional support if areas such as blood pressure, glucose, insulin or cholesterol aren’t coming into normal range within a reasonable amount of time. Conventional

Signs and Symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic syndrome (MetS) is a group of conditions that include too much fat around the waist, elevated blood pressure, high triglycerides, elevated blood sugar and low HDL cholesterol. These conditions pose a threat of increasing your risk for heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. The term “metabolic” refers to the biochemical processes involved in the body’s normal functioning. Metabolic syndrome is caused by an unhealthy lifestyle that includes being overly sedentary, eating too many calories and gaining weight, particularly around the waist. According to a 2014 study published in Chronic Diseases and Injuries in Canada, 19.1% of all Canadian

How Does Menopause Affect the Brain?

I don’t know if men are really from Mars and women from Venus, but I think that the one thing we may all agree upon in this time and age of controversies is that women’s brains differ from men’s brains. Among those differences, we know that women are definitely more often diagnosed with an anxiety disorder or depression,[i] headaches and migraines[ii] and certain conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD).[iii] In fact, two thirds of all persons with late-onset AD are women.[iv] A key determinant of sex differences in cognition and brain function is sex steroid hormones.[v] This fact, along with two decades accumulating

Heart Health After Menopause – Is HRT the Answer?

There are many curious and complex occurrences that take place during menopause as any post-menopausal woman can attest. Most of these changes occur because of the changes in estrogen production1. Menopause marks the natural progression from reproductive to non-reproductive phase of life. This transition is initiated by the gradual reduction of ovarian estrogen output1,2. This has a systemic effect, and these changes can come with certain challenges such as unexpected hot flashes, alterations in libido, and mood changes2. An area that often goes overlooked are the changes in the cardiovascular system that accompany the drop in estrogen1-3. Interestingly, while men

Debunking Five Myths About Hormones

PMS Doesn’t Exist PMS is not a myth! PMS affects up to 12% of women. Psychiatry and gynecology have developed distinct diagnoses. Symptoms of PMS develop in the luteal phase, which is the phase following ovulation. Ovulation usually occurs around between day 12 to 14 of the menstrual cycle.  Symptoms of PMS are both psychiatric and physical, and they can develop at any time in a woman’s life, from the beginning of menstruation to menopause.  Women who experience at least one of the symptoms of PMS (listed below), which leads to significant impairment during the luteal phase and with resolution

Staying Active with Arthritis

Joint pain and inflammation caused by arthritis can cause people to fear exercise.  However, lack of movement can lead to greater pain and long-term immobility.  Maintaining an active lifestyle, especially when you have arthritis, is very important for joint health.  One of the well-known benefits of exercise is that it helps individuals maintain a healthy weight.  Carrying extra weight increases the stress on joints and can lead to further deterioration of the tissue.  Exercise also strengthens the muscles around joints, which reduces the load or impact on the joint.  Further, it helps to maintain bone health and promote balance.  Below

Arthritis and Mental Health, What is the Connection?

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic, progressive and disabling autoimmune disease affecting six million Canadians, their caregivers, their families and their friends.[i] It occurs when a person’s immune system mistakes the body’s healthy tissues for foreign invaders. As the immune system responds, inflammation occurs in the target tissue or organ such as the joints, lungs, eyes and heart. RA is also a systemic disease, which means it can affect the whole body. Rheumatoid arthritis is the most common long-term health condition in the country, affecting Canadians of all ages, interfering with both physical and mental health and diminishing quality of

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