Tag Archives: Healthy Communities

Aside

It is my pleasure to have been asked by the Ontario Association of Naturopathic Doctors Magazine Editor of The Pulse to be profiled in this year’s Summer Issue.  If you happen to pick up this issue, do check out the … Continue reading

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Make Today the Day You Focus On Your Health

Naturopathic Infographic_Hope for Better Health

York Region Character Community Awards 2014

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A week ago, I was honoured to be the recipient of the 2014 Business Person of Character Award.  This award was presented to me by the Character Community Foundation of York Region at the Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts.  The awards gala was attended by Richmond Hill Mayor Dave Barrow and councillors, as well as mayors from the surrounding communities in York Region, with the inspiring evening ending with the delightful keynote speech delivered by 2014 Character Champion Award Recipient, Bill Fisch.  The event recognized more than 155 exceptional York Region nominees for demonstrating exemplary character and contribution to the quality of life of others based on the 11 Character Community attributes: compassion, courage, fairness, honesty, inclusiveness, initiative, integrity, optimism, perseverance, respect and responsibility.  I was touched by what was said and am humbled and grateful to those who nominated me to receive this award.  As a child I dreamed of pursuing a career in medicine, and every day I have been able to practice as a Naturopathic Doctor in our lively community has been a dream come-true.  It is my heartfelt pleasure to contribute to a healthier York Region.  Congratulations to all those who have, and continue, to contribute to our “Character Community”!

For the Health of our Children and our Communities

A special thank you to lovely teacher Wendy Vaiopoulos for inviting me to attend the Children’s Wellness Expo 2012 at the Varley Art Gallery in Unionville.  Candid pictures were taken by talented photographer, Craig Richardson which you can see here.  Cheers to the health of our community!

Your Secret to Staying Disease-Free For Life

After a delightful summer of dragon boat training with Naturopathic Current – the end of summer Regatta is now upon us!  This weekend, you are cordially invited to come out to Marilyn Bell Park in Toronto, Ontario on September 8-9, 2012 for the 18th Annual Great White North Dragon Boat Festivities.  All the proceeds raised are donated to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation Ontario to raise money for breast cancer research, health promotion and advocacy.

And now, after a Naturopathic interlude…your secret to staying disease-free for life: exercise!  Sweaty, heart-pumping, endorphin-releasing, mood elevating, waist-reducing, muscle toning, health-promoting play!  An article was published this August 2012 in Archives of Internal Medicine and featured on the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) Network, which shows that people with higher fitness levels experienced a lower incidence of chronic medical conditions.

The researchers assessed 18,670 healthy participants between January 1, 1999 and December 31, 2009. After adjusting for age, body mass index, blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels, alcohol use, and smoking, they concluded that exercise was significantly associated with a lower risk of developing chronic disease outcomes.

Creating Healthy Food Cravings!

I was recently speaking with a fellow Naturopathic Doctor, whom had noticed the following observation in her interaction with her own patients – that very typically, those who did not seem to enjoy their food, also tended to come from families who did not have the pleasure of having their very own household chef.

Well fret no more, it is easy to create healthy food cravings for even those persons who claim they cannot cook!  Below you will find my delicious tropical mango recipe which requires “no cooking” in the classical sense, but is sure to be a family favourite.

Delicious Mango Salad

Ingredients
2 medium-sized ripened mangoes
1/4 bunch fresh cilantro or mint
1 medium-sized red pepper
1 medium-sized carrot
1/4 cup red onion
2 Tbsp of sesame oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 pinch of fresh ground black pepper
1 Tbsp of crushed cashews or white and black sesame seeds

Directions
1. Peel the skin of each mango and proceed to cut the fruit as closely as you can to its pit. Don’t worry too much if there is fruit remaining on the pit, you can cut as much away as you are able, and use these pieces in your salad. I often like to cut the fruit off the pit in 2 large sections, after which I can proceed to julienne these sections more carefully, and to your preference. For riper mango, I tend to leave these in larger sections, so as to preserve its shape for visual aesthetics. For less ripe mango, I tend to cut these into skinnier rectangular pieces. Once you have finished preparing these sections, place in a medium-sized serving platter.
2. In a separate bowl, immerse approximately 1/4 of the bunch of fresh cilantro (or mint, depending on your preference) in cool water. You want to completely cover the bunch with water. Depending on the amount of dirt adhered to the roots of the fresh cilantro or mint bunch, you may wish to cut that off before immersing in your bowl of water. Set this aside for later use, allowing any remaining debris from the fresh herbs to gather at the bottom of your bowl.
3. Wash your red pepper and carrot. Slice both lengthwise and proceed to cut each in sizes roughly equivalent to the size of your mango. Place on platter with mango.
4. Remove the outermost peel of your red onion. If you tend to tear up easily when cutting onion, you may wish to lightly rinse off the portion of onion you are using to minimize irritation to your eyes. Proceed to cut your onion in square or rectangular pieces. Layer on platter with mango, red pepper and carrot.
5. Go back to the bowl with your cilantro (or mint). Remove the fresh herbs from the bowl, taking care not to disturb the debris from the fresh herbs at the bottom of the bowl of water. Take a pair of scissors, and begin to cut the cilantro leaves from their stem one at a time. Once you have removed the leaves from the stem, take a handful of the leaves and use the scissors to cut the herbs. I prefer using scissors as opposed to a serrated knife as it tends to cut the herbs in a way that allows them to retain their delicate shape and freshness without looking too handled. Layer this in the serving platter with the mango, red pepper, carrot and red onion.
6. Measure the sesame oil, balsamic vinegar and ground pepper and add to platter right before serving. Give all the ingredients a quick toss with your salad utensils.
7. Garnish with crushed cashews (or mixed white or black sesame seeds) before serving.
8. Enjoy your delicious tropical mango salad and bask in comments of your culinary expertise from your family and friends. Bon appetite!

You Are Cordially Invited to Attend the Children’s Wellness Expo 2012!

Children’s Wellness Expo is this Saturday, June 16, 2012!

This event is to raise awareness of the products and services available in our community that promote the health and wellness of children and their families.  The founder, Wendy Vaiopoulos is a lovely Ontario teacher who is passionate about supporting our children’s academic growth.  She is also passionate about connecting children and their families with professionals in our community who are committed to providing holistic services for health and wellness.  I am very excited to be invited to this community event at the Varley Art Gallery in Unionville, Ontario.

In addition to this event, Wendy is generously donating her hair and raising money for A Child’s Voice Foundation Angel Hair for Kids, an organization which I am also pleased to have contributed to in the past.  These wigs are provided at no cost to under privileged Canadian children who have lost their hair due to illness and/or medical treatment.

Please invite your family members, children, friends and neighbours to attend this year’s Expo.  I look forward to seeing you there!

Fat Genes, Fat Jeans and “Phat” Jeans!

I was reading two fantastic articles discussing nutrigenomics – how nutrients interact with our genes to produce health and disease.  Despite the massive promotion of “low-fat” food labels, as a society we have seen the rapid increase in the prevalence of increased weight, obesity and obesity-related health conditions.  There are many studies which suggest how lipogenesis, the production of fat, may be regulated in people.  It is thought that more than 20 genes are involved in regulating fat storage, appetite, the ability to process glucose and energy use.

When it comes to our waistlines, a protein specifically secreted from our adipose (fat) tissue named leptin is often cited.  Leptin is a protein which is transported to the part of our brain known as the hypothalamus.  It is significant in the discussion of weight reduction and maintenance because its binding of specific receptors in our brain affect neuro/endocrine signaling and elicit the feeling of satiety after a meal.  What we know is that food intake is controlled in part by inhibitory signals such as leptin; when this signal diminishes, this signals our body that it is time to eat.

When you gain weight, your lepin signaling becomes distorted.  In addition to this, your body becomes resistant to insulin.  Insulin is a hormone that is produced by the pancreas, and keeps your blood glucose at normal levels by moving it from the blood stream into the cells of your body.  Conditions such as diabetes arise when your body becomes resistant to insulin, or does not produce enough insulin, meaning you need more insulin to maintain healthy blood sugar levels.  This creates a somewhat vicious cycle – you may be recommended to take more insulin to regulate your blood sugars, gain more weight as a result, and need more insulin use.

As your Naturopathic Doctor, nutrigenomics is one important component of your treatment plan that we examine.  Signals such as leptin and insulin affect your ability to turn off your fat genes and reduce your waistline so you can swap your “fat jeans” for your “phat” jeans.

“Phat” – urban dictionary, meaning cool, trendy.

Easing Alzheimer’s-Related Sundowning

I have always had an interest in the workings of the human brain.  While at McMaster University, I completed my research thesis on the ability of vitamins and minerals to off-set cognitive decline, which peaked my interest in the subject matter early on in my educational career.  The combination of my work in retirement homes, my clinical experience working with persons with dementia who are sun downing (a common finding whereby confusion and disorientation in persons with dementia tend to increase when the sun starts to go down, hence its name), as well as my work with their loved ones, has further fueled my interest in the ability to hail the later years of our lives with all of our cognitive faculties in tact and my interest in examining strategies to improve quality of life for persons with dementia as well as our much-loved and appreciated caregivers.

Selected Naturopathic Strategies to Ease Sundowning

Check-in to see if the person is trying to communicate hunger, thirst, discomfort or a need to toilet and therapeutic touch to bring reassurance and remind the person of who you are and your presence.

If the person is ambulatory, or able to walk with assistance safely, try to incorporate exercise earlier on in the day to reduce restlessness later in the afternoon and early evening.

Expose the patient to natural light in order to maintain their vitamin D stores and to help entrain circadian levels needed for sleep-wake cycles. As the sun goes down, ensure the person’s surroundings are well-lighted to reduce shadows that can mask common objects and create confusion or disorientation.

Minimize sugar intake, which can lead to an aggravation in moods due to the fluctuation in glucose levels.

Experiment with soothing herbal teas, including chamomile and passion flower.

Encourage feelings of self-efficacy by providing persons with bite-sized foods, in smaller meal proportions. The act of eating may help soothe agitation.

Ask your Naturopathic Doctor about nutrients including melatonin, which are safe alternatives to sleeping aids because they don’t interfere with REM sleep or produce that groggy “morning-after hangover”.

Are You Overly Acidic?

Find it difficult to concentrate?  Suffer from recurrent viral infections, allergies and respiratory problems?  Fatigue quickly and recover slowly?  Do you feel pessimistic?  Notice a loss of enthusiasm, joy and motivation?  Experience chronic muscle stiffness, soreness or pain?  Have recurring headaches?  Notice areas of inflamed and itchy skin?  Have you been told you have brittle, or thinning bones?  Noticed a change in your perspiration and body odours (towards one that is more rancid)?

We live in a society that is constantly on the go and will unquestioningly pop that prescription “cure-all” magic pill.  Imagine for a moment however, if you could roll back the clock prior to your diagnosis of hypertension, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, heart disease, recurrent headaches, premenstrual dysphoria – and you had someone tell you your prescription could be wholesome food and a healthy lifestyle!  What would you do with that information?

I present to you the original happy meal

The primary force creating, or further contributing to many of the above-listed common illnesses is directly linked to your…drum roll please…you guessed it, diet!  As a Naturopathic Doctor, the vast majority of patients who walk in through our doors are persons with less-than-optimal health and are those who also have an acidic body terrain.

Fortunately, there is much you can do to turn an unhealthy acidic environment into a health-promoting alkaline environment. In fact, the most important step you can take in creating an ideal acid-alkaline balance in your body is to take control of your diet by making smart food choices.

Hind sight is always 20/20. What happens if you had the key to unlocking health and vitality, without the negative side-effects of pharmaceuticals, which consequently also require additional pharmaceuticals to offset your original prescription’s side effects? Would you unlock the door to your potential health and well-being?  Incorporation of an alkaline diet is not just a buzz word used by Naturopathic Doctors.  Ask your Naturopathic Doctor how you can achieve more of an alkaline body balance!