Boost your Immune System naturally…

It’s that time of year where sneezes and coughs become part of the background noise. How do you keep yourself immune from the constant onslaught of germs around you? At Aspire, we have some favourite remedies that help keep bacteria and viruses under control. And if you are serious about immune system boosting, consider these top blood tests to give us up to date info on your body’s ability to ward off this season’s offenders.


Flying during the winter season? Prone to bronchitis or other respiratory ailments? Our magic weapon? Xenobioforce. It has a funny name (xeno is pronounced zeno) but it can be your best friend for preventing chest colds and coughs. When you are forced to spend many hours in an enclosed area with little ventilation, you can be exposed to more pathogens. This may be a reality for those of you travelling daily via subway, plane or train. Let’s review the ingredients of our favourite formula:


Astragalus – Chinese medicine herb specific for boosting immune system and targeting respiratory conditions

Vitamin C – Nature’s well-known immune system fighter

Beta carotene – Powerful antioxidant, precursor to Vitamin A, required for proper immune function

Ginger root – Natural anti-inflammatory, increases circulation and assists with healing

Zinc – Often deficient in our diet, this mineral is important for optimal immune system function; assists the body with activating the immune response

Sour cherry– Fights inflammation and is a source of potent antioxidants


And for those of you brave enough to take a remedy that doesn’t taste very good but works incredibly well, we suggest botanical tinctures. At Aspire we can compound various herbal formulas that are specific for your needs. Feeling like an illness is coming? We recommend a tincture of echinacea and goldenseal. Have a sore throat with a headache? We may compound ginger, turmeric and astragalus. The goal? Take these remedies in an ounce of water several times a day and let these herbs work their magic.

As for lab tests to asisst us with knowing immune status, consider the following:

Vitamin D – Studies show that when vitamin D levels are low, one is at an increased susceptibility to infections. Nearing the end of the summer months, your vitamin D levels should be the highest they are all year, thanks to our direct sun exposure. Considering supplementation with vitamin D in the Fall months is generally a good idea to maintain your levels until next summer, but it’s important to know where your starting point is. Through a simple blood test with your ND, you can find out your baseline vitamin D levels so that you know exactly how much to supplement with so you can optimize your levels and your immune system.

Complete Blood Count (CBC) – This is a test that is often run as part of a complete laboratory assessment, however, sometimes it gets overlooked. It includes both your red blood cell count (RBCs) and your white blood cell count (WBC). Our white blood cells are the cells of our immune system and are our first line of defense when we encounter a foreign invader. Therefore, measuring these levels can assess the body’s immune response.

Vitamin B12 – You’ve probably heard us talk many of times about vitamin B12 and that’s because it’s so important when it comes to making sure we have enough energy to perform our daily tasks. Not only is vitamin B12 important for energy production, but it also plays a role in our white blood cell production. Like I mentioned above, these cells are essential for proper immune system functioning. As a lack of vitamin B12 can lower your immunity, we suggest testing your vitamin B12 levels at the beginning of “cold & flu season” to ensure that your levels are optimal.


Come for a visit and we will customize your season’s immune boosting protocol.

New Fertility Supplement

Have you been trying to conceive and told there may be a concern with your egg quality? Have you been diagnosed with PCOS? Do you experience menstrual irregularities or anovulation? If you have answered yes to any of the above, read on….

There is emerging evidence showing that a supplement called Myo-inositol can assist with several fertility concerns. Myo-inositol is produced by the human body from glucose, and therefore it is not an essential nutrient. This nutritional supplement, which used to be considered part of the B vitamin group, has been steadily gaining interest by fertility experts. Myo-inositol has been shown to improve quality of embryos, assist in restoring normal ovarian function (re-establishing menstrual cyclicity and ovulation) and increase clinical pregnancy rates in women undergoing ovulation induction for ICSI or IVF.

In our practice, we previously limited Myo-inositol to patients with PCOS but with recent studies, we have begun incorporating this supplement in many treatment plans and have added it to our prenatal supplement regime. With promising research in the area of assisted reproduction treatments, we are eager to see further research on the benefits of inositol in natural fertility treatments. This gap in research has not limited our use of Myo-inositol as it appears to be a promising treatment in cases of ‘unexplained fertility’.

If you or any of your friends have been told they have ‘unexplained fertility’, this supplement may be worth trying. Before this can be prescribed by our Naturopathic Doctors, a thorough health history must be performed. If appropriate, women may be prescribed this at either their first or second visit. Bloodwork and ultrasound reports are helpful if available to bring to initial consults. Any fertility patients would have these tests performed prior to cycle monitoring. This information is not essential but can be helpful. For more information about fertility support, feel free to book a complimentary 15-minute session. Initial visits are 1 hour in length.

It is our wish to guide women with as many natural tools as possible. Besides fertility acupuncture, the addition of nutritional supplementation is very beneficial. We look forward to working with you.

References:

Zheng X, Lin D, Zhang Y, et al. Inositol supplement improves clinical pregnancy rate in infertile women undergoing ovulation induction for ICSI or IVF-ET. Medicine (Baltimore). 2017;96(49):e8842. doi:10.1097/MD.0000000000008842

Make-up Clean-up

Fall is the perfect time to do a make-up swap. Did you know that companies are not required to put an expiry date on your cosmetics? Beauty experts agree that there are guidelines to follow. Consider replacing your cosmetics with these timelines in mind:

eyeliner – 6 months to 1 year

eyeshadow – 6 months to 1 year

mascara – 3 months

blush – 6 months to 1 year

lipstick – 6 months to 1 year

foundation – 6 months to 1 year

And if you are in the process of replacing some products, why not consider a ‘cleaner’ product in general. We are fortunate that the evolution of greener and cleaner products is here. For many reasons, natural skincare is good for you. Its also good for the environment and your family. This translates to less toxins in us and in our world.

Consider switching to health-conscious brand names like Epic Blend, Green Beaver, Druide, Graydon Skincare, Kaia Naturals & Beautycounter. These exciting lines make it their mission to avoid the use of harsh chemicals, fillers, artificial fragrances & more. Take a glance at BeautyCounter’s Never List. They have taken a stance to avoid the worst offenders seen in commercial beauty products.

While I spend a lot of time with patients discussing their inner beauty, I don’t often have those extra minutes to review outer beauty practices. This is a very important topic that I will try to shed light on in the future via workshops, blogposts and deeper dialogues! To move this conversation along, Aspire has begun taking orders for Beauty Counter products. If you want more info, feel free to delve into this the next time at Aspire. In the meantime, do your best to take another look in your make-up bag. Fall is the time for change. You deserve to make the changes about your own health and beauty. Making informed choices is step #1.

What is a Food Sensitivity Test?

Food IgGFood sensitivity is not a disease. However, it may play a role in causing disease or worsening certain symptoms. A protein called zonulin regulates the permeability of the connection between cells in the digestive tract. Zonulin is up-regulated by gluten and pathogenic bacteria, leading to increased intestinal permeability; also called “leaky gut” [1]. With increased permeability in the gut, larger molecules that normally stay in the gut can cross into the bloodstream and induce an immune reaction. Chronic irritation to the digestive tract from a highly reactive food (IgG reactive food) can accelerate the inflammatory process in the gut wall and make matters worse.

 

Your body can react to different foods in a variety of ways. There is growing evidence to support both the short-term and long-term benefits of eliminating IgG reactive foods from an individuals diet. Migraine headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, fatigue, weight gain and eczema have all been associated with continued consumption of reactive foods. Undiagnosed food sensitivities can also present as:

  • Rashes
  • Mood and memory disturbances
  • Behavioural problems
  • Bronchitis
  • Asthma
  • Joint pain
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Gas
  • Bloating

 

It can be difficult to determine what specific food is responsible for a given reaction. An IgG Food Sensitivity test is an effective way of determining which foods are causing an individuals reaction. IgG food sensitivities can present hours to days after the consumption of a food, further illustrating the desire to test.

 

Upon receiving your individual test results, an elimination diet of the reactive foods along with a gut healing protocol are suggested to ensure proper healing of the digestive tract. Most people see improvements within a few weeks of their protocol, however as with any treatment results may vary from individual to individual.

 

References:

[1] Hanna Karakuła-Juchnowicz, Patrycja Szachta, Aneta Opolska, Justyna Morylowska-Topolska, Mirosława Gałęcka, Dariusz Juchnowicz, Paweł Krukow & Zofia Lasik (2016) The role of IgG hypersensitivity in the pathogenesis and therapy of depressive disorders, Nutritional Neuroscience, 20:2, 110-118, DOI: 10.1179/1476830514Y.0000000158

 

 

 

 

 

 

When To Seek Fertility Care By Erin Enns

Learning and understanding when to seek care for conception health can be a grey area for women. Naturopathic Doctors focus on identifying potential physical, emotional and environmental risk factors for adverse pregnancy outcomes early in order to optimizing health outcomes for mom and baby. Through education and counseling, Naturopathic Doctors help you get to know your body and prepare it so that when the time comes, you can optimize your chances of conceiving naturally.

Biological clock, family planning

(1) Are you thinking about conceiving within the next year?

If you and your partner are ready to conceive in the near future it is important to make sure that your body is ready to support itself and baby. Cleansing your body allows for restoration of health and preparation for conception. Look to remove dietary allergens through IgG Testing or an Elimination Diet to reduce inflammation in the body that could negatively impact fertility. Manage your stress. Not all stress can be avoided, however focus on eliminating the stressors in your life that you can. By doing this, you will create space in your life for you to have fun and relax. Implementing these early will give your body to have the time and support it needs for healthy conception.

(2) Have you discontinued oral contraception?

When discontinuing any oral contraceptive pill (OCP), many nutritional deficiencies are often seen. This is a result of long-term use of the OCP. Deficiencies of these vitamins and minerals can lead to fertility issues, among many others. A Prenatal Vitamin is advised for women who are looking to conceive as they contain a number of vitamin and minerals that are protective against birth defects. Naturopathic Doctors recommend taking a Prenatal Vitamin a minimum of 6 months before trying to conceive. Additional testing and supplementation may be required for women to re-fill their levels.

(3) Do you have irregular or absent periods?

Absent or irregular periods can be due to a number of different factors. Naturopathic Doctors offer support to promote healthy monthly menstrual cycles. They have numerous tools in their toolbox that they can access, including herbal medicine and acupuncture, to assist your body in supporting a natural menstrual cycle. Work with a Naturopathic Doctor to regulate your menstrual cycle and enhance your chance of conceiving naturally.

(4) Do you have a known reproductive issue?

There are different endocrine disorders that can affect ones chances of conceiving. A diagnosis of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, Endometriosis, Premature Ovarian Failure, to name a few, may lead to troubles conceiving. This is often a result of hormonal imbalances or deficiencies, along with a dysregulation in the immune system. Naturopathic Doctors can provide treatment to optimize the body’s ability to process hormones, as well as support the immune system. Dependent on the condition, implementation of dietary and lifestyle approaches are done to best support the individual.

(5) Do you have a thyroid condition?

Thyroid Disorders are one of the most common conditions affecting pregnancy. Both an under-functioning or over-functioning thyroid can impact fertility. Naturopathic Doctors can request more extensive thyroid lab tests, which may not be done by your family doctor. The thyroid panel investigates TSH, T3, T4, and anti-TPO levels, which gives more information about thyroid health. It is recommended women have their thyroid assessed 6 months prior to conceiving.

Seek the care that you need! Naturopathic doctors work in collaboration with your health practitioner to improve maternal and fetal outcomes by offering preconception care when you need it.

A New Face At Aspire Health – Erin Enns, Naturopathic Intern

erin-enns

Hi, I’m Erin! I am a playful yogi, chocolate fanatic, and Naturopathic Intern at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in Toronto. I love spending time with my family, being outdoors and empowering individuals to achieve and maintain sustainable lifestyle changes to optimize their health. I am thrilled to be joining Aspire Health on January 10th through to April 25th, working under the supervision of Dr. Odessa Gill, Naturopathic Doctor.

 

My personal passion for integrative medicine has exponentially grown over the years. Recently, I had the opportunity to travel to Nicaragua to an established medical clinic to provide health care to local underserved communities. This trip molded me into the person I am today. Our advocacy work created space for members of the community to come together as change makers working towards solutions for health.

 

As one of the eldest in my family I embrace the responsibilities of looking after my younger siblings. This instilled in me a natural desire to work with children. I value families’ concerns and want to ensure that parents get the answers and solutions they need to optimize their children’s health effectively and safely. Alongside the pediatric population, I thoroughly enjoy managing Fatigue & Stress, Immune Health, Digestive Health, Women’s Health and Skin Concerns.

 

I believe in supportive and collaborative health care. If you are looking to feel better, and receive effective treatments at a student rate, or have family and friends who are seeking this, I can help! I look forward to providing honest, collaborative and quality care to allow you to reach your health goals!

 

 

 

Tips for Conscious Gift-Buying

The holidays are here again and so we are ushered into shopping season. I thought I would share some of my tips for gift-giving to help promote a more relaxing and conscious holiday spirit.

Clean Cosmetics

I like to focus on what I think people need with a touch of something they don’t need. For example, my mom loves trying new shampoos and conditioners. In drug stores it is often hard to find the SLS and phthalate-free options, so I purchase many types from health food stores that don’t contain these harmful ingredients.  Druide, Weleda, Green Beaver are good hair care options. Shampoo and Conditioner may seem like odd gifts but I know this is something my mom needs and they are products better for her health. If hair-care products are not a fit, opt for cleaner make-up. Lipsticks can be full of carcinogens so do your research. A website I refer to is www.ewg.org which has a cosmetic database that lists better cosmetic lines. Gift the gift of healthier make-up to a friend or family member and they will pass on this important message too.

Start now!

My husband often laughs at me when he sees the pile of wrapped presents taking over a section of our living room in the last week of November. I feel proud! It means I have carefully thought of my purchases and picked gifts unique for each person well in advance of the Christmas rush. I have avoided long line ups, busy parking lots and the frenetic energy of malls. Starting early has benefits. I can be sitting at home watching all those fun Christmas movies instead of being in the malls. I also encourage on-line shopping that can be done in your pj’s and be shipped for free!!! Avoid the last minute to do your shopping as it could lead to overspending and random gift-buying.

Gift Card? Yes!

I used to be on the fence with this but now I am a believer! My husband has always encouraged me to pick up gift cards. My response in the past has been, ‘That person may think I did not have time to get them a real gift!’ and now I am convinced that it is a real gift. A gift card takes out the guesswork and now after the holidays the gift cards can be used to buy at better pricing and have the person do the choosing. Bonus.

Thrills and Giggles

My favourite gift to share is one that gives an experience. I like to give tickets to musicals or ballets, or even to good restaurants. I always give for 2 people and hope the recipient chooses me! No, just joking. It is usually meant to give to a couple who don’t take time for themselves. This is a unique gift that is often met with a smile and the ‘how did you know I needed this’ expression. This is a gift meant to be shared with a friend or loved one and as I say, give some thrills and giggles.

I hope these gift ideas inspire you and turn this often challenging part of the season into one met with wonder and grace.

 

Superfoods for a Healthy Prostate

Superfoods for a Healthy Prostate

Did you know that prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers in men? With November being prostate cancer awareness month I wanted to share with you my top Superfoods to boosting your prostate health at any age!

Colourful Berries

Brightly coloured berries – strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries – are high in antioxidants, especially Vitamin C. In one cup of strawberries alone there’s about 90 mg of vitamin C and 14 mg in one cup of blueberries. These micronutrients help the body to repair oxidative damage (which comes from every day stressors – pollution, eating out, lack of sleep) that can increase cancer risk. Not only that but they can also help to reduce any symptoms of swelling if you are experiencing an enlarged prostate.

You can eat them raw, throw them in a fruit salad or top off your morning oats with a good handful of berries!

Legumes (Beans & Such!)

Legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas) are an amazing vegetarian source of protein and a great alternative to meat. Research suggest that the fibre in legumes may promote healthy prostate. When it comes to protein and fibre, 1 cup of black beans as a meat alternative gives you 15 grams of protein and 15 grams of fibre! You can use beans in salads, wraps, as spreads and dips! 

Cold Water Fish

Fish is an incredible source of omega 3 fatty acids. Cold water fish (and especially the smaller ones such as wild freshwater trout, anchovies, herring, sardines lower in mercury) are beneficial for so many reasons beyond prostate health. They will lower cholesterol, support healthy cardiovascular system, nourish hair and moisturize your skin to name a few! While you want to keep to a diet low in animal fat to support healthy prostate function, the omega 3s in these cold water fish are amazing for their anti-inflammatory properties and may actually help lower cancer risk.

Raw Nuts

Another source of healthy omega fats are raw nuts! They have several nutritional benefits and are one of my favourite on-the-go healthy snacks. Lowering cholesterol, promoting healthy brain function and being packed with healthy prostate nutrients are just some of the benefits. For example, brazil, almonds, walnuts will give you doses of selenium, vitamin E and calcium all supportive for prostate health. Ideally, you want to eat them raw (not roasted). Throw them in a trailmix, on their own or sprinkle them into your salads!

Apricots

Did you know apricots are not only vitamins A and C, but also fuelled with lycopene? Research suggests that lycopene may help to lower prostate cancer risk. Great on their own as a dried snack, on top of oatmeal, or as a jam! You can also find this in tomatoes, watermelon, guava and papaya. Aim for at least 10mg of lycopene per day. Half cup of tomato puree has about 25 mg of lycopene and 1.5 cups of watermelon has up to 13 mg.

If you can add a daily dose of these superfoods – whether you pick one or include them all – into your diet it will give your prostate a healthy boost!

10 Reasons to see a Naturopathic Doctor (ND)

Why choose to see a ND? Consider these points below:

1) Another view on health. ND’s provide a holistic view of health – one that encompasses the mental, emotional and physical aspects of self.

2) Lengthy visits. A patient has 1 hour on average to discuss ALL their health concerns.

3) A non-drug prescription approach. ND’s use vitamins, herbs and other nutritional supplements as a form of treatment as well as acupuncture, counselling and lifestyle modifications.
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4) Specialized Testing. A ND can order lab testing for all the standard bloodwork given by their family doctor, including testing for cholesterol and blood sugar levels. ND’s can also test for Food Sensitivities, Saliva Female hormones, Comprehensive Stool analysis, Vitamin testing and more…

5) Individualized care. ND’s investigate a patient’s lifestyle. Poor diet and sleep quality, increased stress levels, emotional strain and other factors can play a role with a person’s overall health. Modifications, even small ones, can make a big difference overtime.

6) A partner in health. ND’s incorporate their patients in the decision-making process when deciding treatment outcomes and goals.

7) A second set of eyes. ND’s can request past bloodwork and medical reports from family doctors and specialists to review whether certain tests are in optimal range or also consider other tests that may be required.

8) Prevention. Patients are increasingly seeking a proactive approach to their health. For example, if there appears to be a trend toward elevated blood sugar over the years, a ND will focus on diet and other supportive therapies to help prevent diabetes.

9) Quick access. Usually a patient can get a booking to see a ND in a relatively quick amount of time. In addition, standard lab results are usually obtained within 24 hours allowing for quick results and treatment.

10) Health advocate. Your ND is willing to work with all your healthcare partners. A ND will advocate for you and help guide you on your journey toward optimal health.