How Semaglutide Works For Weight Loss

How Semaglutide Works For Weight Loss

In June 2021, the FDA approved semaglutide (Wegovy), a once-weekly injection, for chronic weight management in adults when used in combination with a healthy diet and exercise. The medication had made headlines before its approval when the manufacturer reported 15% to 18% weight loss findings during clinical trials


Not everyone is eligible for treatment with semaglutide. Doctors can prescribe it for adults who have obesity, with a body mass index (BMI) of greater than 30; or overweight, with a BMI greater than 27 accompanied by weight-related medical problems such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, or high cholesterol.

But there is significant demand for the drug. In 2019, more than 11 percent of the population was diagnosed with diabetes, while more than four in ten adults classified as obese in 2020.

What Is Semaglutide

Semaglutide is an injectable medication that belongs to a class of medications called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) agonists. GLP-1 is a hormone that affects the regulation of blood sugar by stimulating glucose-dependent insulin secretion. Insulin is a hormone that promotes sugar uptake by the cells, stores sugar as glycogen, promotes the building of fat, and signals the body to build skeletal muscle.


GLP-1 inhibits the release of the hormone glucagon, which slows down the release of sugar into the blood so that you burn more fat and slows down gastric emptying to make you feel full longer while reducing the desire for food intake.


How Semaglutide Works

Semaglutide mimics the GLP-1 hormone in your body, which helps to control your blood sugar by blocking the liver from releasing sugar into your bloodstream, slows down how fast your stomach empties food, and causes your pancreas to release insulin.


Like GLP-1, Semaglutide prevents fat storage, improves glucose control, and helps the body to better absorb food, use insulin and reduce blood cholesterol levels. It also works by inhibiting the action of ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates appetite. Ghrelin is produced by the stomach and is released when you are hungry. It has been found to be very similar to GLP-1, only it doesn’t help control blood glucose levels.

Ghrelin and GLP-1 are used together by the body to regulate blood sugar levels. They operate in tandem to help control hunger.  When you eat, both hormones are released and secreted into the bloodstream. When your blood sugar levels drop, ghrelin is released to stimulate the release of GLP-1, which then goes in to help raise your blood glucose back up. The result: you are less hungry. While GLP-1 is a bit more complex, ghrelin can be credited for helping regulate hunger and keep you on track with your diet.

Semaglutide helps insulin to work more effectively in the body. It stimulates the release of insulin from the pancreas, which improves glucose control. Semaglutide works by helping your body break down and use long-term stores of fat to produce the insulin it needs for proper blood sugar control.

What Semaglutide Is NOT

Semaglutide is not a type of insulin or a substitute for insulin. Semaglutide simply stimulates your pancreas to release insulin when glucose (sugar) is present. Because semaglutide relies on your body’s own insulin to be released from the pancreas, semaglutide isn’t used when your pancreas can’t make insulin, such as in patients in type 1 diabetes.


Semaglutide is not a stimulant. While other weight loss medications, like phentermine, have stimulating effects that help curb your appetite, Semaglutide works differently. This means that it is safe for more people, especially those with high blood pressure, sleep issues, anxiety and more.


Semaglutide Side Effects

What you should avoid while on semaglutide:


  • Foods to Avoid: It is recommended to limit sugar, fast-digesting carbs, and processed foods. Fried foods and fatty foods, such as fast food, processed foods, carbonated and sugary drinks, and foods high in sugar and saturated fat are likely to make you nauseous while on semaglutide.
  • Alcohol: Limit how much alcohol you’re drinking while taking semaglutide, especially if you are diabetic. Alcohol can have an effect on your blood sugar, and there is a risk that it may drop too low in combination with semaglutide, especially if you are drinking on an empty stomach. Alcohol can irritate your stomach, too. This might make you feel worse in combination with some of the GI side effects from the medication.

Semaglutide Safety

Semaglutide is considered to be safe and effective when used as indicated. “Safe” doesn’t mean that there aren’t risks. Semaglutide is FDA approved for weight loss in the branded version Wegovy.


The common side effects of Semaglutide are:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach pain
  • Constipation

Semaglutide is not recommended for those with a history of thyroid cancer,  type-1 diabetes, history or pancreatitis, people who are pregnant, or if on other blood sugar lowering medications. Studies show a clear benefit of adjunct treatment with semaglutide in post-bariatric patients. However, consultation with your healthcare provider is necessary to determine if it’s right for you.


Losing The  Weight On Semaglutide

Weight loss will be gradual since you will slowly work your way up to the target dose of semaglutide, at which time you will see the most amount of weight loss.


This was the case in the clinical trials, where participants had their dose adjusted until they reached 2.4 mg once weekly. In the phase 3 trial that measured outcomes at 20 weeks, most participants were able to reach the full dose and also lost weight as their dose was increased. They saw additional weight loss over the remaining 48 weeks at the full dose. Study participants received treatment for a period of 68 weeks (about 1.5 years) during each of the four trials conducted by the company.


It is important to keep in mind that weight loss can take time, and you’ll see the best results when you are using your medication in combination with a healthy diet and exercise. Sometimes the medication may not work for you, or you may not be able to tolerate the full dose due to side effects.

Keeping The Weight Off After Semaglutide Treatment Stops

Studies do not currently have data past 68 weeks. However, an effective medical weight loss program is designed to help you begin adopting healthy lifestyle changes that will promote lasting weight loss where medication is no longer needed. Being on semaglutide can help you learn to control your portion sizes. However, if you go back to how you were eating once off semaglutide, and do not adopt the necessary lifestyle changes to maintain the weight loss, it is likely that you will gain the weight back.  Using semaglutide can be one piece of the weight-loss puzzle.  Other areas that could affect weight are hormone balance, thyroid function, nutritional balance, lifestyle changes, and medications.

Beating Burnout And Restoring Balance in Your Life

Beating Burnout And
Restoring Balance in Your Life

Are you feeling burnt out and overwhelmed? You’re not alone. Let’s face it: We’re all busy, dealing with endless to-do lists and struggling to balance it all. The result is often a day-to-day life that feels too hectic. We feel pulled away from the things that matter – and we may have even forgotten what those things are.

Many people find their way to our clinic at a time in their lives where they feel compelled to take charge of their wellbeing before it gets out of control. Perhaps they’re experiencing health problems that they just can’t shake, or they are ready to take their health to the next level because they know their health is their best asset. By seeking the kind of holistic help a Naturopath / Integrative / Functional Medical Doctor can provide they’re claiming ownership of their current and future health.

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A Fork In The Road

The inescapable truth is that good health is vital to living a rich and meaningful life. Fortunately our bodies let us know when we’re standing at a health crossroads by giving us warning signs in the form of unpleasant symptoms. However, many of us don’t listen to those signs, leading our health down a slippery slope.

Here’s a key fact: Illness doesn’t develop overnight. It often begins when we’re out of balance and burnt out. We need to pay attention to the warning signs before they escalate into something worse.

Five Signs That Your Body Is Out Of Balance:

1. You Feel Incredibly Stressed

We all feel stressed from time to time. And some stress is necessary to motivate us to get things done. However, chronic stress can lead to many health issues, including muscle pain, cardiovascular and digestive issues, hormonal imbalance, depression and anxiety, and weakened immunity.

From an evolutionary perspective, the “fight or flight” response produced by stress hormones (including cortisol and adrenaline) makes sense. By putting your body into overdrive, those hormones could help you if you were under attack by a predator. However, in today’s world, stress tends to be chronic and relentless. As a result, your hormone levels can be way out of balance.

2. You are Irritable and Experiencing Mood Swings

Are you ready to fly off the handle at any moment? Do things that used to make you laugh now irritate you? You could have an imbalance of the hormones that affect your mood, such as serotonin. Changes in estrogen levels and thyroid imbalances can also lead to irritability.

3. You are Experiencing Sleep Disturbances and Difficulty Falling Asleep

Sleep problems can become a vicious cycle: We need sleep to refresh our minds and restore balance, but when our bodies are out of balance, it can be difficult to sleep well. If you toss and turn for hours, or wake up in the night with racing thoughts, it may be time to listen to your body and start practising better sleep hygiene.

4. Your Body is Changing (Rapid Weight Gain, Debilitating Fatigue, Skin Problems, etc.) and you Can’t Figure Out Why

Many patients experience mysterious symptoms that can’t be explained by conventional medicine. Weight gain is a common example. If you find you’ve gained weight without any change to your lifestyle, your body might be telling you it’s out of balance. Similarly, unexplained fatigue or sudden acne (long past the teen years) are symptoms you shouldn’t ignore.

5. You Rely on External Substances to “Manage” Life

If you feel like you can’t make it through the day without your morning coffee, midmorning macchiato, and afternoon pumpkin spice latte and muffin, ask yourself what purpose those magic drinks and sugar are serving. Relying on a substance, be it sugar, caffeine, or even alcohol or cigarettes is not a sustainable way of coping with life’s difficulties and the short term boost soon gives way to unbalance. It’s important to seek help to nip these habits in the bud.

Does anything on that list sound familiar? You’re not alone! Feeling overwhelmed is often the result of our natural instinct to try to please everyone. The good news is that there’s a better way.

Recovering From Overwhelm: How To Bring Your Health Back Into Balance

How can you start the process of restoring balance? It’s simpler than you might think.

Step One. Reprioritize What’s Really Important.

What matters most to you? Chances are it’s not the laundry, or your next meeting, your emails or buying a nicer couch, or many of the things that take up space on your to-do list. Ultimately, for most of us, the important things are more intangible: our health, relationships, and family. And in order to prioritize those things, we need to put self-care at the top of the list. Simply put, we can’t devote energy to the really important things if we’re not looking after ourselves.

Interestingly, many people find that when they adjust their priorities, the other things cease to feel like such a struggle. It may seem like a bit of a paradox, but when we look after ourselves, everything else falls into place.

If you want to reconnect with your priorities and figure out what really matters, mindful meditation can help. You can also try journaling – writing down your thoughts can be a great way to sort them out. In fact, writing down your emotions can be the outlet you need to ease the harmful physical effects of stress – and remember to take time for gratitude daily.

Step 2: Recognize Where you Need Help and Ask For It.

This step can be hard for many people. After all, as adults, we’re supposed to be self-sufficient, right? However, consider this: Many successful people have help. Athletes have health and fitness coaches; musicians have teachers; many business owners have mentors. And they often credit their success to that support and guidance.

The real strength is in identifying areas of your life that feel out of control, and admitting that you could do with a helping hand.

A good first step is to book a thorough review of your health and wellness status with your Naturopath / Integrative / Functional Medical Doctor. We’re here to help you better understand where these feelings of overwhelm and bothersome symptoms are coming from, and give you the tools you need to find balance again. Functional testing is available to remove the guesswork and identify any possible underlying physical issues, such as hormonal imbalances. This holistic approach allows us to support you with an effective plan of action for your health and wellbeing that’s tailored specifically to you.

If you are ready to dive deeper into your health and rebalance your life, give us a call!

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Chronic Stress Can Affect Your Immunity

Chronic Stress Can Affect
Your Immunity

If you’re like most people, you’ve read a lot of tips on avoiding COVID-19. You likely know the basics: Wash your hands; keep a safe distance from others; avoid travel and quarantine yourself if you have traveled; and don’t go out at all if you experience any symptoms.

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Staying Healthy Starts On The Inside

However, it’s also important to acknowledge that staying healthy starts on the inside. The defense system we all need to take care of in these crazy times is our immune system.

Yet here’s the irony: When we are stressed, our immunity becomes weaker. And right now, we’re all stressed about sickness among other things. Just when we all need a strong immune system, chronic stress has the potential to weaken our defenses.

How Stress Affects The Immune System

Why does stress weaken immunity? The process makes perfect sense if you think of how we lived for most of human history.

Not too long ago, if we perceived a threat, such as a predatory animal in the wild, we had to respond – and quickly! In that sense, our body is primed to protect us.

Fight Or Flight

Let’s take a look at the “flight or fight” response and how stress changes us on a physiological level.

All of these changes are designed to make sure that you have enough energy in the right places – ie the arms and legs – to respond to stress appropriately – ie fight or run.


Resource Hoarding

That’s because your body wants to put all of its resources into dealing with the immediate threat. This response is actually very helpful – if you need to escape a predator. However, in today’s world, stress is typically more chronic and, let’s face it, unrelenting.

And that’s where the problems start.

Adaptive Physiology

Our body’s ability to respond to stress is called “adaptive physiology.” To understand this, it might help to think of your nervous system as actually two systems:

  • Your sympathetic nervous system powers the Fight or Flight response that you need in the face of danger.
  • Your parasympathetic nervous system is behind the “Relax and Recharge”, aka “Rest and Digest” response you need in between periods of stress. Without this response, your body’s systems would stay in overdrive.

Essentially, the way in which these two systems work together is not unlike the brakes and gas pedals in your car. One speeds you up, and the other slows you down.

Ideally, your body adapts depending on the situation. The Relax and Recharge period is essential to restoring balance in mind and body.

Putting The Breaks On Stress

Right now, many of us feel like the “gas” is always on, which is a perfectly understandable response when faced with a global crisis.

However, that kind of constant stress can lead to a long list of health problems if the sympathetic nervous system never turns off.

What happens to a car if you only touch the gas and never use the brakes? There’s a high likelihood of a crash.

Don’t Crash Your Immune System

Not surprisingly, your immune system suffers when you’re heading for a crash. All the things that happen during your flight or fight response can lower your immunity. And that’s exactly what you don’t want to happen right now.

6 Ways To Switch Your Body To A Parasympathetic State

So, what can you do? Isn’t stress inevitable at this moment in history? A good starting point is thinking of the two states of your immune system and doing what you can to reach a state of rest and restoration.

1. Look at your mindset.

How you perceive a stressful situation will affect your body’s response to it. Perhaps you’re social distancing and feeling trapped and restless inside your home. That’s stressful. However, consider the difference between feeling stuck at home and feeling safe at home. That simple mental shift can help your nervous system remain in a restorative mode.

Don’t forget: You always have the opportunity to change your attitude.

2. Seek connection.

In times of stress, you should be close to people who restore your sense of wellbeing. It’s important to feel connected and accepted, because a feeling of connection can boost your immunity.  However, how can you connect to others while also social distancing?

Fortunately, we’re lucky to live at a time with many options for video chats. Set up virtual coffee dates and regular meetings to touch base with those people who make you feel connected.

3. Honour your body’s natural rhythms.

Many people are having trouble sleeping right now. However, it’s more important than ever to try to get between seven and eight hours a night. Even if your normal routine is disrupted, try to stick to a regular sleep schedule. That means going to bed at the same time every night (yes, even on weekends). As well, don’t dismiss the restorative powers of a good nap.

4. Don’t overcommit.

We’re all under a lot of pressure right now. Take a close look at your commitments and think of how you can eliminate any unnecessary stress. Remember that the goal is to rest your nervous system.

What makes you feel refreshed and restored? Those are the activities to focus on.

5. Eat to optimize your immune system.

Many studies backup the importance of essential nutrients in protecting your immunity. The ideal diet and supplements for you will depend on your unique health profile, but important nutrients include selenium, zinc, and vitamins A, C, and D. In addition, don’t overlook the importance of maintaining a balance of “good bacteria” in your gut. More and more research points to the connection between a healthy gut and a healthy immune system.

In fact, up to 80 percent of your immune cells are found in your gut. The interaction between your gut microbiota and your immune system helps protect you against foreign pathogens.

6. Move your body.

Exercise can help your body’s nervous system maintain equilibrium. It can slow down the release of stress hormones and increase the number of disease-fighting white blood cells. As well, movement helps to regulate the communication between your brain and your body.

However, it’s important to move in a safe way – any irregularities in your body’s alignment can affect this process. Focus on doing something you love and making exercise a part of your daily routine. Consistency is the key! If you’re not sure exactly how to work out with gym closures, check out the multitude of workouts you can find online.

Prioritize Self-Care

Even in stressful times, it’s possible to optimize your immune system. Focus on your body’s need to restore and repair itself and prioritize your self-care. Taking steps towards staying healthy can help you gain a sense of control in an uncertain world. And that will ultimately strengthen your response to stress.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, please reach out. We can work together to create a plan that fits your unique needs!

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How To Support Your Immune System And Navigate COVID-19

How To Support Your Immune System And Navigate COVID-19

With many of our clients glued to the news of the spread of the novel coronavirus, we want to address the questions we’re receiving daily. Preventing illness altogether may be out of our control, however preparing our bodies, minds and homes can help us to navigate this era with more confidence. Our goal is to give you some clear and actionable tips to support your immune system and reduce the impact this virus has on your health.

Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood.
Now is the time to understand more so that we may fear less.

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What Are The Symptoms Of COVID-19?

COVID-19 is the name given to a contagious respiratory illness caused by a virus of unknown origin which is currently spreading quickly throughout the world. Symptoms can be similar to a mild cold, or may exacerbate to pneumonia. A lot is still to be learned about the defining symptoms of this particular virus.

Known Symptoms:

Who is at risk of catching COVID-19?

Like other coronaviruses, such as those which cause the common cold, this year’s novel coronavirus spreads easily. Unlike the common cold however, because this virus is new, no-one is immune to catching it. In fact, the virus causing COVID-19 seems to have a slightly longer incubation period than most, which means that individuals may unknowingly carry and spread the virus for a few days before symptoms appear. Herein lies the reason for the vast reach this virus is having.

Who is at risk of more serious complications?

As with all illnesses, certain individuals are at a higher risk of serious complications related to COVID-19. This includes anyone over the age of 65 with compromised immune systems and with underlying medical conditions.

In fact, any underlying health condition is a reason to take extra precautions to avoid catching the virus and to support your immune system to fight it off more effectively should you catch it.

Many individuals who contract COVID-19 will have minimal symptoms and some may not even realise they have it.

Keeping A Safe Physical Distance

“Social Distancing” means staying physically far enough away from people you don’t live with to avoid catching, and subsequently passing on, a virus. This is a tried and true technique for quelling epidemics, and it is of the utmost importance for all of us to follow the instruction to self isolate in order for the technique to work.

Make sure that you stay up to date with the recommendations of your local public health department with regards to what types of movement outside of your home are and are not acceptable.

8 Simple Habits To Support Your Immune System

As with anything, there are things that you can do to minimize your risk and help protect or reduce the severity of symptoms from catching a cold, the flu, or the current Coronavirus.

1. Hand Hygiene

This one may seem obvious, but wash your hands well and frequently using warm water and soap. Here is a link to the World Health Organization’s recommended hand washing technique. A good strategy is to implement a policy of everyone washing their hands as soon as they enter your home. It is also a good idea to regularly sanitize high traffic areas around your home such as door knobs, light switches, TV remotes etc.

2. Rest & Sleep Properly

Even though we are all extremely busy, make sure you are getting enough sleep. When you sleep your body goes through natural healing and detox processes that are important for maintaining a strong immune system. It is important not to deprive yourself of that healing time.

Good sleep habits include:

3. Eat Nutrient-Dense Whole Foods

“You are what you eat” is a phrase that almost feels outdated. But guess what? It is true. Make sure that you are eating a healthy diet full of whole foods and avoiding too much packaged food.

Good options include lean protein, high fiber vegetables and fruits (complex carbohydrates), as well as nuts and seeds. Cook with plenty of garlic for added protection from colds.

Here are also some foods that are considered supportive of a healthy immune system. If you are unable to find them fresh, frozen is the next best thing.

4. Take Your Supplements

Almost all nutrients in the diet play a crucial role in maintaining an “optimal” immune response, however some have been specifically researched for their role in supporting the immune system.

Now is a good time to use some of those supplements that are cluttering up your cupboard before they go out of date!

Vitamin C

Simple vitamin C is a powerful protective antioxidant which helps to strengthen the body’s defense against pathogens. Studies show that supplementation with vitamin C helps in the prevention and treatment of respiratory infections.

Vitamin C is abundant in foods such as tomatoes and red peppers, leafy green vegetables and citrus fruit.

Adding a daily vitamin C supplement is a good start when you are looking to support your immune system.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D has historically been used, sometimes unknowingly, to treat infections due to the role sunlight plays in increasing the body’s vitamin D levels. In sanitoriums, Tuberculosis treatment included exposing patients to sunlight which was thought to directly kill the tuberculosis.

A 1994 study of 190,000 subjects showed that individuals with lower vitamin D levels were more likely to self-report a recent upper respiratory tract infection than those with sufficient vitamin D in their system.

10 – 15 minutes of time spent outdoors with the sun on your skin (taking all usual precautions to avoid sunburn) can help increase your body’s natural vitamin D levels, and supplements are readily available as well.


If you’re not already taking a probiotic, look for a high quality version containing multiple strains. L. rhamnosus is a strain of probiotic which is often studied for its protective effect in respiratory infections.


Zinc is the second most abundant trace mineral in the body (after iron), and it is present in every cell. It’s fundamental to wound healing, skin health, brain health, DNA synthesis and protein production, and it supports over 300 enzymes that aid in metabolism, digestion, nerve function and many other processes.

Zinc’s roles in immune cell function and cell signalling make it an indispensable mineral when we aim to reduce the risk of infections and promote immune response.

As well as being readily available as a supplement in the form of tablets, sprays and lozenges, zinc is plentiful in the following foods:

5. Stay Hydrated

One of the things people find the hardest to do when stressed is remembering to drink enough water. The rule of thumb is that if you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated.

What you should aim for is at least 8 – 10 glasses of water per day. This is so beneficial to every aspect of your well-being. Water helps those vitamins & micronutrients to move around between cells, helps your cells clean themselves out at night, and your lymphatic and urinary systems to flush the bad stuff out so that you feel refreshed and healthy. Being properly hydrated helps your immune system, skin, nails, hair, muscles… the list goes on!

If you are someone who just doesn’t like water; try adding in a squirt of lemon. Not only does it add a more palatable taste but it contains vitamin c and has liver cleansing properties as well.

6. Reduce Stress

Stress reduction is top of the list of healthy lifestyle habits, and is particularly important at times like these. Find small ways to calm things (and yourself / kids) down throughout the day, and definitely try to avoid blasting CNN 24/7.

When we are feeling stressed out our body feels it too. This is not just a psychological issue, it’s physiological as the stress hormone cortisol changes the body’s reactions to food, sleep and immunity.

Use hydrotherapy (bath, swimming, showers) break up the day with some outdoor time, try an infrared sauna, take up meditation, read a good book, move your body (exercise is key to reducing stress), or sing a little karaoke… the list is endless – whatever feels calming, make a little time for it daily.

7. Reduce Your Sugar Intake

Consuming too much sugar – sugary drinks being a common culprit – can have a negative effect on the cells in your immune system that target pathogenic bacteria. The effects of sugar on immunity are immediate and can last for a few hours after consumption.

Pay attention to your sugar intake, and if cravings start to hit do your best to curb them with strategies such as eating a handful of berries or fruit, or drinking a big glass of water.

8. Keep Alcohol To A Minimum

Research indicates that excessive drinking may impair the function of the immune cells in your lungs. This means that a binge drinking session could lower your defences for a few hours, leaving your respiratory system less efficient at identifying and destroying invading pathogens.

Drinking also affects your gut health. The balance of your microbiome is affected with an overgrowth of potentially harmful bacteria and a reduction in beneficial bacteria.

Drinking and depression have a long history together too. If you are one of the 264 million people who suffer from depression, alcohol consumption only makes things worse.

So have the occasional glass of wine, but be careful to avoid starting new bad habits that can affect your body’s innate ability to heal and be strong.

What To Do If You Think You Have COVID-19

Despite your best efforts, the novel coronavirus might still infiltrate your home or community. For most of us, this will mean a mild to moderate bout of illness, whereas for others it may be more severe and require hospitalization. If you feel your symptoms may be consistent with COVID-19 there is no need to panic, it is always best to deal with the facts of the situation calmly.

First Contact Your Family Doctor Or Local Public Health Service

First and foremost, telephone your family doctor or your local public health department / telehealth service to find out what your next steps are. This may include specific instructions to go to a local testing centre, rather than going to a clinic or emergency department.

If You Are Advised To Stay Home

Should you be advised to stay home, make sure to keep tabs on your symptoms and re-connect with public health if things change. Here are some things you can do which may help keep your illness as short and painless as possible:

1 - Stay Well Hydrated

You likely will not be overly hungry during this time so sticking to soups and/or bone broth is a good plan. Drink plenty of water, and add some apple, blueberry or pomegranate juice to help with your electrolytes.
Herbal teas such as Ginger, Peppermint, Rooibos and Chamomile can be soothing as well as hydrating to help you feel better.

2 - Humidify To Relieve Congestion

Using a neti-pot or humidifier can help to relieve chest congestion. If you don’t own either, try closing the bathroom door and running the shower as hot as possible to create a makeshift steam room. A few drops of Eucalyptus oil in the bathtub can help bring some relief to the lungs as well.

3 - Get lots of Sleep

Sleep allows your immune system to do its job. Any respiratory illness can bring with it a deep exhaustion, and Covid-19 is no exception. Listen to your body and allow it to have the rest it needs to heal.

4 - When It’s Over, Sanitize Everything… Again

Once your symptoms ease up and you are feeling more like yourself, it is generally a good practice to sanitize everything that you can. Make sure you change your bedsheets and your toothbrush.

When To Seek Urgent Medical Help For Your Symptoms

Pneumonia is a real risk with COVID-19, so it is important to keep tabs on your symptoms.

If your fever climbs to 39° C or higher, you have trouble breathing with only slight exertion, feel chest pain or pressure, sudden dizziness, confusion, or severe vomiting – these are all symptoms which warrant a call to 911 or your local public health department’s telehealth number.

We hope this information helps you to feel calm and confident in your ability to navigate your health at this complex time. Remember, supporting your immune system is always your best first line of defense against all illnesses. If you would like to discuss a long term plan to keep your health and immune system in the best shape possible, please give our clinic a call, we’re here for you!

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Why Meditation Is Vital Right Now

Why Meditation Is Vital Right Now

Tense muscles. Obsessing about the news. Anxiety about the future. Difficulty sleeping. Do all of these sound familiar? You’re definitely not alone. There’s no doubt that we are living with a lot of uncertainty right now.

How can we cope?

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Doing Nothing To Cope With Everything

The answer might be as simple as doing…. nothing. Simply sitting still and mindfully clearing your thoughts through meditation has an astounding number of benefits that are vital right at this point in history.

In fact, fostering an ongoing meditation practice can change the structure of your brain, providing benefits that continue when you have finished meditating.

In short, meditation may be one of the best things you can do for yourself in troubled times.

The Benefits Of Meditation

Some of the many positive things that can happen when you meditate include:

Lower Blood Pressure

Meditation can decrease the “flight or fight” hormones in your body. As a result of this relaxation response, your blood vessels open up, which in turn improves your blood pressure.

Less Stress-Induced Inflammation

Excess cortisol, one of the central stress hormones, can lead to inflammation in many parts of the body – a common example of this is the gut, with digestive issues being common during times of high stress. Because meditation can lower the amount of cortisol you produce, inflammation is reduced.

Embracing Uncertainty

Despite all of the health benefits, the ultimate goal of meditation isn’t necessarily focused on physical results. It’s more a process of learning to embrace uncertainty.

A More Positive Outlook

Who doesn’t need a more positive outlook right now? Meditation has been found to actually alter (in a good way) the parts of your brain responsible for positive thoughts. As well, by becoming more aware of your thoughts, you can fend off negativity.

Reduced Anxiety And Fewer Obsessive Thoughts

It’s perfectly normal to be experiencing anxiety and obsessive thoughts when faced with a pandemic. However, those thoughts can spiral out of control and negatively affect family members as well as your health. High cortisol levels even lower your immune response, and we all want a strong immune system right now.

How Does Meditation Help With Negative Thoughts?

It can be difficult to imagine gaining control over the thought train when world events, and the changes to our daily lives, seem so overwhelming.

However, meditation teaches us how to experience and sit with those thoughts – without panicking or feeling like we need to repress them. With a little practice, you should be able to just sit with your thoughts and feelings, without judgement or analysis, and start to process them without spiralling out of control. You can be present in the moment without projecting into the future or ruminating on the past.

And right now, faced with so many unknowns, that’s particularly important.

Why Start Now?

You might feel that now is not a good time to start meditation. After all, you’re likely stuck at home and perhaps feel antsy and confined. Who wants to sit still? However, mediation has proven to be an effective mental health treatment and right now we need to be focusing not just on our healthy body but also…a healthy mind.

How To Start Meditating

Many people find the thought of taking up meditation a bit intimidating. After all, it has had an esoteric reputation through the ages. It’s important to know that you don’t have to “master” meditation. It’s OK to be imperfect. Your mind will probably wander, and you may feel uncomfortable at first. That’s perfectly normal.

Setting Up Your Practice

The good news is that it’s surprisingly simple to get started. In basic terms, you just need to:

How Long Should You Meditate?

You may have heard of people going on week-long meditation retreats. That’s great – but it’s not really necessary. Just a few minutes a day is a good start. In fact, studies have found that just five minutes can have significant benefits.

And who doesn’t have five extra minutes?

How Often Should You Meditate?

Consistency is a key component of a successful meditation practice. Try to carve out a few minutes a day to dedicate to your mental health. Some people find that it helps to make it the same time every day.

Resources To Get Your Meditation Practice Started

There are quite a few wonderful resources available to help you get started with meditation should you need a little help – here are a few of our favourites:



Wherever You Go, There You Are

Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics 

There are many reasons to start meditation. Why not start now? Let us know how you get on – and remember that we are here to support your health and wellness.

Our clinic is still (virtually) open via telehealth – phone or video call – and our practitioners are available for essential care appointments. Simply send us an email or book online.

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This is the year to get seasonal allergies under control

This is the year to get seasonal allergies under control.

You’ve been careful for over a year now. Social distancing is so ingrained in your consciousness that you do a double-take when you see old concert footage on TV. You’ve grown to appreciate the benefits of face masks (no need to worry if there’s a bit of spinach in your teeth, protection from the wind or that random pimple on your chin). Your bubble is airtight, and you’ve finally figured out the most flattering Zoom camera angle.

So why do you feel like you’re sick, when you’ve done everything right? Watering eyes, runny nose, sneeze attacks? Is it time to self-isolate? What if you sneeze in the grocery store line-up? After all, there is no bigger social faux right now than an unexpected public sneeze. Should you have a COVID-19 test?

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An Unusual Year for Allergies

Even at the best of times, seasonal allergy symptoms are inconvenient and annoying. Add in the very understandable fear of COVID-19, and allergy sufferers experience extra stress, which is never a good thing when trying to stay healthy. It’s more important than ever to practice a seasonal allergy reducing lifestyle this spring, to alleviate stress and keep yourself healthy and strong. Plus, many of the lifestyle measures that reduce allergies improve your overall health and wellness.

The sneakiness of seasonal allergies

It’s not surprising that allergy sufferers worry about COVID, since some of the symptoms are very similar. Seasonal allergies can cause:

These symptoms often appear in the spring, when trees begin pollinating. Pollen in the air can trigger our bodies to release the powerful chemical histamine, which leads to allergy symptoms.

Invisible Spring Pollen

Contrary to popular belief, allergy triggers at this time of the year are usually tree pollen, not pollen from flowers, and they’re often not visible to the naked eye. To further complicate matters, the start of spring allergy season can vary by year, so allergy sufferers often don’t realize it has begun until symptoms appear. It’s also important to note that allergies of any kind can develop later in life, so if you’ve sailed through spring in the past, but suddenly notice you’re sniffling, seasonal allergies could be the cause.

Regional Variations

The types of pollen in the air vary by region, with different types of trees contributing. Birch, oak, and ragweed are common culprits, each producing its own distinct pollen. As a result, there’s no single catch-all solution, or even one simple diagnostic procedure, for pollen allergies.

Changing Times

Interestingly, seasonal allergies seem to be on the rise. Climate change may be to blame, as higher temperatures can increase pollen production. A 2019 study in the Lancet showed significant increases in the pollen count and a longer pollen season across the northern hemisphere, and although the average in North America hovers between 10 and 25 percent of the population, pollen seasons vary between locations and from year to year. In fact, a 2017 Statistics Canada study found that 40 percent of Canadians reported pollen or grass allergies – that’s a lot of congested people.

5 Steps to Help Reduce Seasonal Allergy Symptoms

Fortunately, science is providing more information about preventing and reducing seasonal allergy symptoms. Check out some easily adapted lifestyle tips below.

1 - Reduce Stress

We get it: Life is stressful right now. However, the irony is that stress can exacerbate allergy symptoms, which in turn creates more stress. To end this cycle, take proactive steps to bring down the pressure.

Studies have found that meditation and yoga have a positive impact on allergy symptoms. Getting enough sleep is also important. Of course, allergies can also interfere with sleep, since it’s hard to fall asleep with a stuffy nose. Sleeping with the windows closed can help keep pollen out to preserve your indoor air quality.

2 - Keep Indoor Pollen Under Control

In addition to keeping your windows closed, small changes in your daily routine can help reduce the amount of pollen in your home. Consider this: When you’re outside, you’re often surrounded by tree pollen which can rest on your clothes, hair, and skin, so you need to take special measures to get rid of it.

Have a quick shower when you first come home at the end of the day, and launder your clothes frequently after spending time outside. Investing in a portable high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) air filter and vacuuming with a HEPA filter will also help keep the air cleaner.

Although we want to avoid pollen, getting outside is still important for mental and physical health, particularly while we’re still avoiding indoor gatherings. Try to schedule walks following a rainfall, when the air will be clearer.

3 - Reduce Other Airborne Irritants

Perfumes, air fresheners, scented candles, aerosol sprays, conventional cleaning products, dust and cigarette smoke are all irritants commonly found in the home that can make your nasal passages and eyes more vulnerable to reactions to pollen. Keeping your home with natural, non-toxic cleaners or even steam-cleaning will help reduce the overall load on your mucus membranes.

4 - Eat Antihistamine Superfoods

Certain foods can help bring down systemic inflammation and slow the production of histamine. Eating a well-balanced, whole foods diet with plenty of vegetables, healthy fats and low in sugar is a great starting point – and including some of these antihistamine superfoods can be effective too:

Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids

Foods high in omega-3, such as fresh salmon, chia seeds, and flax seeds.

Pineapple and Papaya

Vitamin C found in many fruits can inhibit histamine and support the immune system, but some fruit contains enzymes that actively reduce antihistamines in the bloodstream. Pineapple contains the enzyme bromelain, and papaya contains papain.


Certain spices can act as decongestants. Ginger, in particular, is effective in reducing nasal symptoms. Early research suggests that curcumin, which is found in turmeric, can also ease the symptoms of seasonal allergies.

5 - Consider Nutritional Supplements

Research is uncovering new beneficial treatments for seasonal allergies and rediscovering the benefits of traditional remedies.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D deficiency is prevalent worldwide, and with its roles in anything from inflammation to immune support and bone health, supplementing with vitamin D is widely recommended. Recent studies looking at the effect vitamin D supplementation has on seasonal allergies found that participants who took vitamin D reported a reduction in symptoms compared to those who took a placebo.

Herbal Remedies

Stinging nettle is a herb that is often used in natural medicine for its anti-inflammatory properties. In a 2000 study, half of the participants who took a stinging nettle supplement reported a reduction in seasonal allergy symptoms, and almost 2/3rds felt better.


Quercetin, an antioxidant flavonoid found in brightly coloured produce like berries and kale, also helps reduce the body’s production of histamine.

If you’re struggling to get seasonal allergies under control, give us a call. A Functional Medicine practitioner can run lab tests to gain specific information on your allergies. Together, we can create a customized plan that will give you peace of mind as we move into spring and summer.

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Perceived stress predicts allergy flares – Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology – Amber M. Patterson, MD, Vedat O. Yildiz, MS, Maryanna D. Klatt, PhD, William B., Malarkey, MD Published:August 08, 2013

Sleep and allergic disease: A summary of the literature and future directions for research – Daphne Koinis-Mitchell, PhD,a Timothy Craig, DO,b Cynthia A. Esteban, MSN, MPH,a and Robert B. Klein, MDa, J Allergy Clin Immunol. Dec 2012

Antihistamine effect of supplemental ascorbic acid and neutrophil chemotaxis, Journal of the American College of Nutrition, April 1992

Immunomodulatory effects of curcumin in allergy, Sep 2008, Food Res. Molecular Nutrition & Food ResearchViswanath P Kurup 1, Christy S Barrios

Inhibitory effect of honeybee-collected pollen on mast cell degranulation in vivo and in vitro, Journal of Medicinal Food, Mar 2008, Yasuko Ishikawa 1, Tomoko Tokura, Nobuhiro Nakano, Mutsuko Hara, François Niyonsaba, Hiroko Ushio, Yuji Yamamoto, Tadahiro Tadokoro, Ko Okumura, Hideoki Ogawa

Temperature-related changes in airborne allergenic pollen abundance and seasonality across the northern hemisphere: a retrospective data analysis – The Lancet Planetary Health, March 2019 – Lewis H Ziska, PhD , Prof László Makra, PhD, Susan K Harry, AAS, Nicolas Bruffaerts, PhD, Marijke Hendrickx, PhD, Frances Coates, MS, et al.

Vitamin D in allergic disease: Shedding light on a complex problem, The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology – Feb 2013 – Beda Muehleisen, MD, Richard L. Gallo, MD, PhD

Quercetin with the potential effect on allergic diseases, Allergy, Asthma & Clinical Immunology May 2020 Morteza Jafarinia, Mahnaz Sadat Hosseini, Neda kasiri, Niloofar Fazel, Farshid Fathi, Mazdak Ganjalikhani Hakemi & Nahid Eskandari

Vitamin D and the development of allergic disease: how important is it?
Hooman Mirzakhani, MD,1,2 Amal Al-Garawi, PhD, MMSc,1,2 Scott T. Weiss, MD, MS,1,2,4 and Augusto A. Litonjua, MD, MPH

Statistics Canada Health Fact Sheets – Chronic Conditions, 2017

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Top 10 Tips for Good Digestion

Top 10 Tips for Good Digestion

A good digestion turneth all to health.

Good digestion is essential to our health – and our mood – and when it’s all working smoothly, we tend to take it for granted. It’s not until things go wrong that digestion moves to the forefront of our minds.

If you are someone who suffers with digestive issues such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, bloating, and nausea, you know that it can quickly become all we think about, affecting every moment of the day. And the discomfort is only the tip of the iceberg. If we’re not digesting food properly, we’re at risk for nutritional deficiencies. That’s because the digestive system is our central “distribution center”, breaking down what we eat and shipping nutrients out to the cells that need them.

Like any supply chain, any broken link can have far-reaching consequences. In addition to the many far-reaching effects of nutrition deficiencies, poor digestion can lead to emotional stress, and even depression due in part to the gut’s role in producing serotonin (our happy hormone).

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Digestive Disorders are Increasingly Common

Digestive disorders have risen dramatically in recent years, likely because our fast-paced lifestyles contain many elements that contribute to problems, such as high stress levels, too much time sitting, and poor quality sleep. The good news is that it’s possible to get your digestion back on track.

By getting to know your own digestive system and experimenting with different lifestyle habits that are known to make a difference to many people, you can figure out that funny tummy, reclaim your social life and feel confident that what you eat is truly nourishing your body.

10 Proven Ways to Help Improve Your Digestion

1. Eat whole, natural foods

Choosing whole foods means opting for the least-processed version whenever possible. Choose an apple over apple pie, for example, or whole grains over refined flour. Not only is this the best way to get all of the essential nutrients, but the additives and excess sugar found in many processed foods can feed the bad bacteria in your gut, contributing to gut irritation, bloating and cramps. Artificial sweeteners are another culprit of poor digestion, since even the so-called “healthy” sweeteners like xylitol have been linked to bloating and diarrhea.

2. Focus on fiber

To understand the myriad of ways fiber promotes digestive health, it’s helpful to distinguish between the two types of fiber:

Soluble fiber

As the name suggests, soluble fiber dissolves in water. When it passes through your body, it absorbs water and other fluids to form a gel-like substance that feeds the good bacteria in your gut. Good sources of soluble fiber include beans, apples, oats, and strawberries.

Insoluble fiber

Because insoluble fiber doesn’t dissolve, it helps provide bulk to stools, which helps them move along the digestive tract more easily, contributing to regularity and that sometimes elusive feeling of complete elimination. Good sources include vegetables and many whole grains.

Your diet should contain both types of fiber to promote good digestion and regularity. To increase your overall fiber intake, increase your consumption of whole grains, fruits and vegetables. There are numerous ways to sneak more fiber into your diet, like leaving the peel on potatoes, adding a handful of nuts to a salad, and sprinkling a little freshly ground flaxseed on yogurt. However, if you currently eat a low-fiber diet, be careful not to ramp up your intake too quickly, which can lead to gas and discomfort. And as you introduce increasing amounts of fiber, make sure you’re also drinking more water as the fibre itself absorbs a lot.

3. Stay hydrated

One of the most common culprits for constipation is dehydration. Water helps move things along through your digestive tract in a wave-like muscle movement called peristalsis. However, if your body senses that you need more water elsewhere in the body that takes priority. The lower intestine draws water from your stools to redirect it to other parts of your body such as your muscles or brain, making your stools harder to pass.

Choose your fluids wisely. Sipping on water and herbal teas throughout the day are great options to keep you hydrated. Avoid alcohol, which acts as a diuretic and further dehydrates, as well as sweetened beverages. The jury is still out regarding coffee’s effects on digestion. Some people find it leads to heartburn, but scientists haven’t found a direct causal effect. Coffee does have a laxative effect for many people, and it’s best consumed in moderation.

4. Choose healthy fats

Toss a fiber-rich salad with a bit of olive oil, and stay clear of fat-free dressings. Healthy fats such as olive oil, avocados, and nuts actually help your body absorb nutrients, so don’t be afraid to add them to a meal. In addition, omega-3 fatty acids may help prevent digestive disorders like Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis. Foods high in omega-3 include fatty fish like salmon, chia seeds, hemp hearts and nuts.

5. Reduce stress

Yes, this is easier said than done. But consider this: Your gut has millions of neurons receiving messages from your brain. When you’re under chronic stress, you’re more vulnerable to stomach aches and other upsets. Plus, when you’re stressed, your adrenal glands release more of the fight-or-flight hormone cortisol, which can lead to cramping as the body redirects hydration from your intestines to your arms and legs.

Try to create a calm atmosphere for meals, and keep dinner conversation pleasant. Tackle long-term stress by introducing more stress-busting mindful activities such as yoga or walks. Many people have success with meditation, especially practices geared towards digestive issues.

6. Eat mindfully

Part of making mealtimes less stressful can simply mean slowing down. Avoid eating on the go and try to make a policy of eating while sitting down, at a table, instead of in your car or while running to another activity. Turn off the TV and pay attention to the pleasure of a good meal.

Use your senses throughout a meal – taste, smell, textures – food should be enjoyed after all. Savour every bite instead of absent-mindedly snacking while thinking of something else and you’ll improve digestion by preventing overeating to the point of feeling too full.

7. Chew your food well

What’s the rush? When you chew your food, you’re starting the digestive process, so it follows that more chewing breaks down your food more thoroughly. Plus, chewing slowly helps you to focus on your food in a more conscious manner and, in turn, reduces stress. Aim to chew your food 20 – 30 times before swallowing to aid the digestive process.

8. Get moving

It’s simple: When you move, your digestive system moves. That might sound overly simplistic, but scientists have found that exercise can improve the rate at which you digest food. The peristalsis process speeds up with the increase in blood flow and the triggering of various movement receptors in your colon, pushing food through the digestive tract at a regular pace. Exercise also reduces stress, boosts energy, improves mood and heart health.

9. Clean up your habits

You can add “better digestion” to the many reasons to quit smoking and cut down on alcohol consumption. Some smokers feel that smoking helps them stay regular, but like caffeine, that is due to a stimulant effect that can be irritating. Smoking also greatly increases the risk of acid reflux, peptic ulcers, Crohn’s disease, and cancer of the colon. If this is you, we can work with you on creating a health plan to help you cut out smoking – while practicing other good digestion habits – so you won’t feel the need to rely on cigarettes.

10. Maintain the microbiome

Your digestive tract contains trillions of bacteria supporting gut health. Maintaining that microbiome is essential for avoiding digestive problems like gas, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea. A healthy gut microbiome is also essential for mental health, as the gut is the main site for the production of our happy hormone, serotonin.

These tips can help your maintain balanced levels of the right kind of gut bacteria:

Don’t let digestive problems hold you back from enjoying life. If you’d like to talk about further strategies, or want help creating a plan to implement these tips, give us a call!

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Anderson JW, Baird P, Davis RH Jr, Ferreri S, Knudtson M, Koraym A, Waters V, Williams CL. Health benefits of dietary fiber. Nutr Rev. 2009 Apr;67(4):188-205. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-4887.2009.00189.x. PMID: 19335713.

Everhart JE, editor. The burden of digestive diseases in the United States. US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office, 2008; NIH Publication No. 09-6443.
Boekema PJ, Samsom M, van Berge Henegouwen GP, Smout AJ. Coffee and gastrointestinal function: facts and fiction. A review. Scand J Gastroenterol Suppl. 1999;230:35-9. doi: 10.1080/003655299750025525. PMID: 10499460.

Oettlé GJ. Effect of moderate exercise on bowel habit. Gut. 1991 Aug;32(8):941-4. doi: 10.1136/gut.32.8.941. PMID: 1885077; PMCID: PMC1378967.

McFarland LV. Use of probiotics to correct dysbiosis of normal microbiota following disease or disruptive events: a systematic review. BMJ Open. 2014 Aug 25;4(8):e005047. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2014-005047. PMID: 25157183; PMCID: PMC4156804.

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Get a Handle on Bad Breath

Get a Handle on Bad Breath

Been smelling your own breath lately with all the mask-wearing? The harsh realities of the odors coming from our mouths have come front and center these days. Tic Tacs, mints and chewing gum… can’t fix a true breath problem.

While bad breath (also known as halitosis) isn’t often a symptom of disease per se, it can affect our overall well-being as well as our psychology, work life and relationships. So let’s look into why you (or someone you know) may be dealing with halitosis — and how to fix it!

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6 Reasons You Might Have Bad Breath

There are several potential causes of bad breath. Commonly, it’s very simply down to a lack of oral hygiene which may be easy enough to fix. But sometimes there are deeper issues at play. We’ll start by exploring the more benign reasons for bad breath, then cover how and when it may be a red flag for more serious issues.

1 - You May Be Eating Pungent Foods

This will not come as a surprise, but certain foods are linked to transient oral malodor (or temporary bad breath). Garlic, onions and spicy food are common culprits. Sulphur compounds in these foods are particularly high, and when chewing, the bacteria in your saliva release these sulphur compounds from your food.

Volatile Sulphur Compounds (VSC)

Released by the mechanics of chewing and chemically by digestive enzymes, and no longer bound up in the food you ate, these volatile sulphur compounds quickly turn gaseous. Once able to mix with the air, volatile sulphur compounds (VSC) can exit your mouth via the breath.

Tobacco, coffee and alcohol may also perform this foul-smelling trick. It varies, but you may notice a change in breath odour for several hours. (And likely so will your family members, friends and co-workers…)

2 - You May Have Food Sensitivities

Food sensitivities can also contribute to halitosis – and lactose intolerance is a perfect example of this. When the body can’t digest the sugars in milk, the microbes that feast on those particular undigested sugars put off a sulfurous pungent odor that can be smelled on the breath.

Leaky Gut

Further down the system, improperly broken down food can make its way into your bloodstream. Normally, the gut lining works to prevent this. But in situations of chronic food sensitivity and ongoing inflammation, the protective mucosal lining of the digestive system becomes permeable.

Toxins in the bloodstream

Escaped food particles act as toxins in our blood. As the accumulation of toxins builds, we may start to notice symptoms that include bad breath. Your naturopathic /functional /integrative doctor can help you identify any existing food sensitivities, work with you to restore your gut lining, and (as a welcome side effect) get rid of chronic bad breath.

3 - The Bacteria in Your Mouth May be Out of Balance

The mouth is an area rife with microbes and bacteria. Many of them play important roles in the first step of the digestive process. Others, such as gram-negative bacteria (like Enterobacteriaceae) take up residence under the tongue, in plaque and in the deep creases between our teeth and gums where they interact with each other, giving rise to halitosis.

No single bacterial species is to blame for bad breath, but together these bacteria cause Volatile Sulphur Compounds to be released. Some of the bacteria that thrive in the depths of the gum line can cause gum diseases such as pericoronitis or periodontal abscess, which can increase the volume of Volatile Sulphur Compounds released even more.

The Diamine Difference & Gum Disease

As we dive deeper under the gums, we see less oxygen and a lower (i.e. more acidic) pH. This acidic pH creates those smelly diamines. When food-trapping gum pockets arise due to gum disease, regular amino acids from the trapped food are converted into diamines.

When that happens, we (and those close to us) smell the difference.

4 - Your Mouth May Be Chronically Dry

Having a dry mouth, no matter the cause, is a serious issue. It’s not only uncomfortable but if the condition is ongoing it prevents the important cleansing function whereby saliva flushes bacteria out of the mouth.

Why We Get A Dry Mouth

Oral dryness can cause discomfort for a number of reasons beyond the obvious (and easy to rectify) dehydration. Mouth breathing is a common culprit, often arising from an obstruction of the sinuses and nasal cavity, and causing increased airflow and subsequent dryness in the mouth. Salivary glands may be infected, blocked or malfunctioning. And many medications also have a dry mouth listed among their side effects.

The Role of Saliva

Saliva is your mouth’s best friend. It helps wash out the mouth, reducing bacteria and preventing tooth decay, gum disease and plaque formation in the mouth. As oral bacteria have been found to have made their way to the arterial plaque of heart disease patients as well as causing issues in the mouth, we know that avoiding a chronically dry mouth is a whole-body problem – with bad breath acting as a red flag.

5 - You May Have a Yeast Overgrowth

If a candida yeast overgrowth appears in the mouth, deeper factors are often at play in the body. A healthy immune system prevents this fungus from taking root and growing. The candida species is commonly found in and on your body, but it seizes the opportunity to grow when the immunity is vulnerable.

In the case of bad breath, this underlying immune dysfunction alters the balance between your immune system and oral microbes. Candida and other microbes proliferate. Volatile Sulphur Compounds and methyl mercaptan (another player in the malodour scene) are then produced and released.

6 - You May have Ear, Nose and Throat Problems

While 90% of halitosis cases arise from the mouth alone, other systems can also be involved: Calcium deposits in the tonsils can cause a 10-fold increase in Volatile Sulphur Compound levels if they are overloaded; foreign bodies in the nose (often seen in children) are slowly dismantled by bacteria, resulting in breath odour; and infected sinuses can leak pus on the back of the tongue.

While bad breath is typically transient (think: morning breath) it can linger. For those dealing with chronic halitosis, you know just how impactful it can be.

But don’t worry. Your naturopathic/ functional/ integrative doctor can help you battle your bad breath.

The Importance of Oral Hygiene

Oral hygiene is paramount when treating halitosis. Brushing, flossing, and regular dental check-ups are the foundation of good oral health. Unchecked cavities, gum disease and other dental pathologies must be addressed if you want to achieve better-smelling breath and the health benefits that come with it.

But it is important to remember that the mouth is a delicate area, it is the starting point of a carefully balanced digestive system which requires a fine balance of moisture and bacteria to work optimally.


Gurgling with mouthwash is a powerful tool in your halitosis arsenal. Anti-bacterial agents flush unwanted microbes from the crevices of your teeth, tongue and gums. However, conventional products typically include an array of irritating ingredients as well.

Irritating Ingredients in Conventional Mouthwash

Artificial food dyes make mouthwash look good on a shelf, but these components can be detrimental to your mouth (and body). All nine FDA- approved artificial food dyes are linked to various health concerns. These range from sensitivities all the way to cancer.

Meanwhile, acidic stabilizing agents and alcohol can strip your teeth of and temporarily soften the enamel (make sure to brush before using mouthwash and not after for this reason).

A Better Way to Rinse

Herbal mouthwash is a safer (yet effective) approach. The right combination of botanicals can deliver multiple beneficial medicinal actions. Peppermint, for instance, is antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and helps to increase salvation. A handful of herbs and essential oils can combat bad breath on multiple fronts.

Additionally, unlike the antibacterial agents found in conventional mouthwash, these herbal ingredients don’t kill as many of the good bacteria, preserving a balance.

Oil Pulling

Oil pulling – a traditional remedy originating in India – has many therapeutic benefits. An organic oil, such as coconut or sesame, is swished around in the mouth for about 20 minutes. During this period, antioxidants in the oil break down the cell walls of harmful bacteria, effectively killing them. These bacteria stick to the oil and are “pulled” out of your mouth.

There are many benefits to oil pulling. By reducing the formation of plaque, this technique can help prevent dental cavities, gingivitis, periodontitis and, of course, bad breath.

Tongue Hygiene

While odorous bacteria are often in the gums, poor tongue hygiene also poses a problem.

The back of the tongue in particular is a source of concern. Large papillae (bumps on the tongue often containing multiple taste buds) trap particles and microorganisms that lead to bad breath. A backlog of white blood cells, saliva constituents and flakes of dead cells may all be found here – even in those with otherwise good oral hygiene.

While tongue scraping gives some short term relief, recent studies show the benefit over time is minor. Cleansing your tongue (gently and regularly) won’t cause any harm. If you’re struggling with bad breath, it may be worth a shot. But remember: there are other options.

Healthy Habits To Reduce Bad Breath

For many cases of chronic bad breath, sticking to a few simple lifestyle habits can achieve great benefits:

In some cases, further investigation may be warranted. Underlying medical conditions — like sinus infections, acid reflux and diabetes — may be contributing factors to halitosis, so it is important to check in with your naturopathic/ functional/ integrative doctor for the right testing and to tailor a health plan specifically for you.

Let’s face it. Chronic bad breath can put a damper on social life without you even knowing it!


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Koga, Chihiro & Yoneda, Masahiro & Nakayama, Keisuke & Yokoue, Satoru & Haraga, Mariko & Oie, Tomoko & Suga, Arisa & Okada, Fumiko & Matsuura, Hiroshi & Tsue, Fumitake & Taniguchi, Nao & Hirofuji, Takao. (2014). The Detection of Candida Species in Patients with Halitosis. International journal of dentistry. 2014. 857647. 10.1155/2014/857647.

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Fight Fall Allergies from the Inside Out

Fight Fall Allergies from the Inside Out

Are you excited for fall? Many people love the vibrant colours of this beautiful season. It’s a time to get out our cozy sweaters, enjoy the crisp fall air, and for some people, sneeze a lot. Yes, unfortunately, many people experience watery eyes, sinus pain and other allergy symptoms when fall arrives. This annoying phenomenon can occur even if you made it through spring without sneezing.

That’s because even though the symptoms of fall and spring allergies are the same, the triggers are different. So it’s definitely possible to enjoy one season allergy-free but suffer through another. And because there are more culprits to blame for fall allergies, many people experience the adverse effects.

The good news is that fall allergies can be avoided, In fact, new research in immunotherapy and nutrition has made it easier than ever to get through autumn sneeze-free.

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The Symptoms of Fall Allergies

We tend to hear more about spring allergies, but fall allergies can be just as unpleasant. Symptoms often include:

These symptoms can appear when you’re exposed to an airborne allergy trigger. Common sense would suggest that the best solution may be to avoid the trigger, but, of course this isn’t always possible.

Because allergies are often due to weaknesses in the adrenal, immune, or the digestive system, sometimes a more lasting – and practical – approach is to treat allergies from the inside out, by getting to the root cause within your body.

Fall Allergy Triggers

The environment goes through seasonal cycles, and observing those changes is one of the pleasures of the great outdoors. Who doesn’t love to see the leaves turn to bright colours every fall?

However as a seasonal allergy sufferer, changing seasons can often mean the start of unpleasant symptoms. As a result, just when you thought you had things under control, the natural cycle of our environment creeps up to create a whole new set of sensitivities and reactions.

Some of the allergy challenges specific to fall include:

4 Natural Ways to Control Fall Allergies

Instead of moving to the southern hemisphere every fall, you can gain control of fall allergies by working with your body’s immune system and adapting your environment.


No matter how careful you are with keeping outside pollution from getting into your home, allergens can still get into your home. After all, you have to open the door many times a day, so they can easily enter uninvited. Using an air purifier with a HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filter can significantly reduce airborne allergens like dust, dust mites, pollen, mould spores, and pet dander. HEPA filters trap these allergens and lock them away. If you’re particularly sensitive to allergens, it could also be helpful to use a vacuum cleaner that also has a HEPA filter so that you can allergen-proof your home even more.


Flushing the nose and sinus with saline solution twice a day goes a long way in ensuring that congestion-causing allergens like pollen, spores, dust and dander are expelled before they can settle in and cause the symptoms that make it hard to enjoy the change of seasons.

Since your eyes, nose, and throat are connected, nasal irrigation or using a Neti Pot is a great way to naturally remove allergens. If you choose to make your own saline solution it’s important to make sure the water you use is distilled or purified so no microorganisms are present.


If your allergies are unbearable and the above solutions fail to provide relief, it might be time to try an elimination diet, temporarily removing common inflammatory foods to provide your gut the opportunity to heal. Optimal gut health can give your body the strength to better deal with allergens.

As well, sensitivity to airborne allergens and sensitivity to certain foods may be related. At the very least, when the body is already on high alert coping with one form of sensitivity, it can be more reactive overall, making it harder to fight off multiple allergens. The result is often a worsening of any already-present allergy symptoms.

Elimination diets can be challenging and are best implemented under the care of your integrative health team. Speak to your practitioner about whether an elimination diet could help you better manage your allergy symptoms this season.


Often allergies are the result of weakness or exhaustion in the adrenal, immune, or digestive system. There are a number of nutritional supplements that are known to support and strengthen each of these systems. That means you’ll be better prepared to deal with allergens when they appear.

Bioflavonoids and Vitamin C

While onions make our eyes tear up, they also contain the bioflavonoid quercetin – a natural antihistamine – that can treat allergy-related itchy, watery eyes! Quercetin also has antiviral properties and can help reduce other symptoms including asthma, hay fever, and even cold sores. Onions aren’t the only source of quercetin; apples, berries, cruciferous vegetables like cabbage & cauliflower, and black tea are all good sources.

Bioflavonoids work best when taken with Vitamin C. That’s because they work together to amplify their effects, keeping the immune system strong and prevent the formation of histamine (rather than interfering with the histamine the body produces like over-the-counter antihistamines do).

Probiotics (such as lactobacillus acidophilus)

When you take care of the good bacteria in your gut, your digestive system and your immunity can benefit. And a strong digestive system can combat allergies by keeping inflammation at bay. Probiotics occur naturally in fermented foods like yoghurt, kimchi and sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha, pickles, and miso soup.

Local Honey

The allergens you’re exposed to in the fall will reflect the pollens that are circulating in the air where you live. Honey produced in your area can contain these same pollens (thanks to local bees). Some studies have found that consuming this honey can reduce allergy reactions, possibly because you build up immunity to the allergy-triggering pollen.

Fish Oil

Omega-3 fatty acids offer an effective defense against inflammation. Because inflammation plays a big role in allergy symptoms, fish oil, which is rich in omega-3, can help reduce those annoying autumn allergy symptoms.

Vitamin D

Some research suggests that having low levels of Vitamin D in your body can make you more susceptible to allergies. So it may not be a coincidence that as the number of people deficient in Vitamin D has gone up, so has the number of people developing allergies.


You may know that zinc lozenges are great for the scratchy throat that can accompany a cold, but did you know that getting enough zinc can help reduce your allergy symptoms, too? Zinc plays an important role in how histamine is kept in check. A deficiency means that more histamine can be released throughout the body, increasing your sensitivity to allergens.

Immunotherapy for Allergies

This cutting edge allergy-reduction strategy centres around exposing patients to small amounts of an allergen from their environment and gradually building up their immunity. At first glance, immunotherapy may seem counter-intuitive. Why would you willingly expose yourself to the cause of your symptoms? However, when done carefully, your body can become less sensitive to allergens and build up its natural immunity.

Many people experience lasting relief from symptoms over the course of treatment (Which can often last a few months – this is a gradual, but effective, approach.) Of course, immunotherapy should only be done under close supervision from an experienced healthcare provider.

Final Thoughts

Natural treatments for seasonal allergies often take longer to take effect than typical medications. So it’s wise to begin natural treatments one or two months before the season starts to help prepare your body ahead of when allergens are at their most severe.

Not sure you can wait that long for relief? Try pairing nasal irrigation or HEPA filter air purifiers with your nutritional supplement of choice for speedier results.

Just remember: good health begins in the gut and we recommend starting with ensuring your gut is balanced. If you’d like to get tested to see what imbalances you may have, what foods and allergens you may be sensitive to and get a clear picture of what’s going on so you can reduce the risk of bad allergies, give us a call we can help!

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Secrets of Aging and Longevity

Secrets of Aging and Longevity

What really causes aging, and what can we do about it? The mystery of aging is yet to be fully solved. There are many compelling theories on the subject of how and why we age.

Free Radicals and Their Effect on Healthy Aging

One theory is that aging can be the result of free radicals which cause damage to our cells. Free radicals are the toxic by-products of normal, day to day cellular breakdown. This creates a vicious cycle in which free radicals cause damage to cells, which in turn produces more free radicals. This unavoidable side-effect of cell production leads to cell death, the result of which are the signs of aging.

Free radical damage can also be caused by certain foods such as highly processed and refined foods, processed meats, red meat and alcohol. As such, these should be avoided or consumed in moderation. There are foods, however, that can help offset and fight free radical damage, known as antioxidants. Antioxidants can be found in berries, citrus, dark leafy greens and even dark chocolate! Be sure to include these as part of your healthy aging diet.  Studies are still ongoing as to exactly how and why we age. However, we do know that the food we eat can have a great impact on our longevity by either promoting or fighting free radical damage.

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The Effect of Environmental and Physical Stressors on Aging

Stressors, both environmental and physical, can impact our healthy aging process and longevity. Studies have shown that stress can have negative effects on our longevity. Both environmental as well as our lifestyle choices can impact stress levels in the body. Environmental stressors can come from heavy metals from polluted water, EMFs, chemicals in everyday products, alcohol, cigarettes. All of these stressors contribute to the production of cortisol. More cortisol equals more stress.   

People who suffer from chronic stress, depression, anxiety, trauma, and social isolation have similar damage in common at the cellular level. Studies show that stress shortens the length of a part of cells called telomeres. Shortened telomeres are a leading cause of cellular death and aging. The good news is we have some control over how we deal with these environmental and physical stressors. To reduce physical stress in your daily life, you can try meditation and deep breathing. Meditation makes a world of difference and doesn’t have to be intimidating! Take 5 to 10 minutes to center yourself before starting your day. There’re many apps available for free if you need help with guided meditations. Take deep breaths during stressful situations. Breathe in for 5 seconds, hold, breathe out for 5 seconds. To reduce environmental stress, try to limit your exposure to toxins. Avoiding toxic materials, such as using plastic for food storage, is an easy way to start reducing toxicity in the body. Instead, use glass storage containers or silicone bags. Reducing stress by reducing our physical and environmental toxic load can make a world of difference on how quickly we age.

Lifestyle Factors for a Long and Healthy Life

When it comes to healthy aging, we must first look at what we can do in our daily lives to extend our health and longevity well into our golden years! Living a healthy and stress-free lifestyle is the key to a long and happy life.   The challenge, should we choose to accept it, is committing ourselves to making changes! So what are some tools we can use to improve longevity and manage and eliminate stress, one day at a time?

Eating a healthy diet. Be sure to include fresh organic vegetables, whole grains, and nutrient-rich proteins in your diet. Eliminating sugar and processed foods is a must for anyone concerned with living long and well.  Implementing an exercise routine is essential for our mental and physical wellness. Physical activity releases powerful stress-reducing endorphins in the brain – happy hormones!

Yoga is especially helpful, as it combines meditation with exercise, naturally relaxing the body and mind.  Living a purposeful life is probably the most important thing we can do to extend our longevity. One thing centenarians all have in common? The feeling they have lived a life worth living Studies show that people who live with a greater sense of purpose experience better quality sleep which helps contribute to cellular regeneration!

A healthy nutrient dense diet, active and stress-free lifestyle and a sense of purpose are some of the keys in doing so.

Always remember that you can contribute to your body’s healthy aging and longevity by making lifestyle changes today.

Contact our clinic if you need help with establishing your anti- aging diet and lifestyle.

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