Collagen: Debunking Myths

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Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body. It is now touted as the best anti-aging product available. Collagen can be injected into the face and lips to give a more plump and youthful appearance. It is often added into creams but it has become increasingly popular as a nutritional supplement. As ND’s we like to focus on beauty from the inside out so we thought we would give the facts about this trendy supplement.

 

As with any new health product on the market, we know there is much confusion about its benefits. So, let’s debunk some of the myths about collagen…

 

Myth #1: Collagen is only good for joint health.

Collagen has many more benefits than joint health. It has been shown to:

  • Improves elasticity of the skin
  • Reduces fine lines & wrinkles
  • Improve physical performance
  • Supports gut health

 

Myth #2: Collagen is only good for the elderly.

There is lots of emphasis around collagen being useful in aging joints. However, once we understand the diverse benefits of collagen, it becomes extremely attractive to people of all ages. Recent studies have shown that collagen stimulates cells located in the layers of the skin to improve skin health. Looking for better looking skin? Collagen may be your new best friend!

 

Myth #3: Collagen is only available from animal sources.

You’ve probably heard the word “bovine” tossed around when talking about collagen. This means that the collagen is derived from a cow. Don’t eat meat?! You can also get your collagen from a marine source, more specifically from fish scales. It may not sound all that tasty, but it can work wonders!

 

If we’ve convinced you of the benefits of collagen, there’s one more thing you should know. Not all collagen supplements are created equal. Make sure you find a collagen that is from grass-fed cows or wild-caught fish, and that it has been hydrolyzed (easier for your body to absorb!). In addition watch for those products with numerous non-medicinal ingredients. As Collagen has many benefits for the inside and outer appearance of our body, it tops our list for supplements!

 

Spring in your step!

Naturopathic Doctor Bloor West

Want more Spring in your step this season? Well, read on!

Here are my top 5 tips on how to do this adapted from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) traditions.

 

  • Eat your greens (and not the light green iceburg lettuce kind). Spring is fueled by the energy of the Liver. This is the time when many health gurus begin their spring cleanses. All cleanses incorporate a wide variety of greens. It is a vital time to eat foods that are sprouting. Try adding sprouted microgreens to any of your salads. Add foods like garlic, onions and peppermint which support the body’s desire to be invigorated this season.

 

  • Get on the move! Sometimes I believe the more we think about exercising, the greater the chance it won’t happen! Early morning routines work best for me where I don’t have time to find an excuse yet! My body takes the lead and then my mind once awake responds with ‘I am so glad I went for that run!’ The season supports the movement of Qi. Stagnation of Qi often occurs during the winter months when we are least active. Acupuncture can also assist with the movement of sleepy Qi.

 

  • Cover your head and neck. According to TCM tradtions, a change of season can bring ‘pathogens’ via the wind. On windy days, take cover. On really windy days, you will find me wearing a scarf at the clinic. Its a reminder to keep my head and neck covered in case of an unexpected draft. Want to avoid those spring colds? Drink tea, wear your favourite Lululemon hoodie and avoid the wind.

 

  • Clean your favourite space! See how I only mention ONE space? Most of us get overwhelmed by the idea of spring cleaning around the house. This means taking down drapes, replacing heavy winter linens, dry cleaning, removing unworn clothing, etc….So what I mean here is, choose ONE space. Choose one space where you spend most of your time at home. I have a home office so this is where I begin. This is where I write and need to be inspired. Any clutter around me can create clutter in the mind and usher me into working out of another space. So, give away any unused books, remove anything in your line of sight that creates confusion. Add some vibrant colours, fill a small bottle with pink tulips and place on your desk. You get the idea. Who says Spring cleaning can’t be fun? I make it fun and that begins with adding a renewed energy to my surroundings.

 

So get going! Be inspired. Begin to flow with the energy of the season and you will be rewarded. When you need more inspiration come and see your ND for an acupuncture tune-up.

 

 

 

Unexplained Infertility: Biofeedback as a Tool

One of the most frustrating diagnoses I encounter in my practice is “Unexplained Infertility.” Most couples that come to my office with this new medical label are despondent and teary-eyed. My role as a Naturopathic Doctor is to inform them that besides ultrasounds and hormone tests, there are other ways to evaluate fertility. What about the role of stress? What about dietary deficiencies? What about the role of the mind and the countless messages we send ourselves daily? Do you love your body? Do you believe you can get pregnant? Naturopathic medicine aims to uncover the “unexplained” with a new paradigm of understanding the human body and fertility.

Biofeedback is yet another tool that may be able to support women on this journey.

What is Biofeedback?
Biofeedback is a treatment technique in which people are trained to improve their health by using signals from their own bodies. It is a therapeutic tool that may help people to change the way their bodies respond to a variety of conditions, including stress and anxiety.
The National Institute of Health has approved biofeedback for the management of pain and insomnia. Biofeedback has applications for the use of many health concerns including anxiety disorders, constipation, fibromyalgia, ADHD, headaches, mild depression, stress, PMS and other conditions.

Role in Fertility Management?
Research indicates that women who are trying to conceive often experience elevated levels of stress. One study revealed that women who had higher levels of alpha-amylase (a biomarker for stress) showed a 29% decrease in the ability to conceive. Another study suggested that reducing levels of cortisol (another biomarker for stress) prior to IVF could improve the chances for conception.

At Aspire Health, our goal is to support fertility and to promote a healthy pregnancy naturally. One of the ways that we seek to achieve this is by reducing stress levels. Biofeedback is a recognized therapy for addressing stress and anxiety. Biofeedback may be beneficial for fertility support, particularly when there is a diagnosis of unexplained infertility.

 

 

 

‘Unexplained Fertility’

medical-563427_640I have practiced Naturopathic Medicine in Bloor West Village for over 12 years now and the most frustrating diagnosis that I encounter is that of ‘unexplained fertility.’  What does this mean? Generally, it translates to a Fertility Specialist informing a couple that there is no specific problem detected in a Western medicine evaluation. In these cases, all hormone levels are in the normal range, ultrasounds reveal no abnormality with the ovarian follicles, and ovulation seems to be occurring properly. It also suggests that all the reproductive organs appear to be functioning normally, and the endometrial lining is building adequately. In addition, there are no male factors at issue; sperm count, morphology and motility are all within normal limits. So for a couple, it means, ‘Now what?’

At this point, many patients come to my office. They hear that acupuncture is a great tool in fertility treatment and can be used in conjunction with IUI and IVF procedures. From a Naturopathic Medicine perspective, I inform patients that reproductive health is not separate from overall health. It is part of a woman’s health and thus should not be treated in isolation. If you are searching for more answers when you are diagnosed with unexplained fertility, consider other options for treatment. For example, if you also have concerns of gas, bloating or heartburn, I would recognize that there is an imbalance with the digestive system. This may also point to nutrient deficiencies. How is this addressed and what does this have to do with fertility? Good question! By increasing the vitality of one’s overall health we can improve fertility outcomes. In this case, I would test for food sensitivities, inflammatory markers and determine vitamin status by doing blood tests. The goal is to reduce inflammation, increase antioxidants, and also create a more favourable internal environment, one that would be more receptive and allow for conception to occur.

Another area of interest for me is that of ‘environmental toxins.’ Did you know that chemicals such as phthalates and bisphenol A have been implicated in the rising rates of miscarriage and male and female infertility? Phthalates are found in many personal care products such as soap, shampoo, hair spray and nail polish. How many of these have you used today? These factors are usually not considered by a Fertility Specialist. As an ND, I believe these external environmental factors require more evaluation. ND’s can test for heavy metal burden and toxic elements.

For many of my female patients, this diagnosis is the hardest to hear. They are told by their Fertility Doctor that there is no immediate solution. I believe this is where Naturopathic Medicine treatment may be beneficial. It helps to create a clear path.  As your health partner, it is my role to help reduce that stress burden. I offer many recommendations. For example, I encourage you to eat healthier, to take that dance class you have been considering, to stop talking to that co-worker who gives unwelcomed advice, to say ‘no’ to that everyday latte. Reducing your stress levels is the key to fertility treatment. Therefore acupuncture and counselling are part of my Fertility prescription.

If you have been told there is no medical reason why you and your partner cannot conceive, I urge you to meet with a Naturopathic Doctor. An ND will work with you to elevate your body to a better state of health.  If you have been told that your age is the assumed problem, I urge you to seek a second opinion. For many reasons, Naturopathic Doctors are in a unique position to be an effective health care provider for the couple with the diagnosis of ‘unexplained fertility.’