Tag Archives: Healthy Communities

Forget Me Not – Alzheimer’s Dementia

The World Health Organization recently released a news piece, stating that 35.6 million people worldwide live with dementia.  By 2030, this number is expected to double to 65.7 million, and by 2050 it is expected to triple to 115.4 million (a number which is astonishingly high!)

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia.  Dementia is a progressive, irreversible decline in cognitive function, which is marked by memory and language impairment, behavioural changes, deficits in reasoning, judgment, abstract thought, comprehension, learning and an inability to perform everyday activities.

Some helpful tips on brain health, which I have acquired over the years,
1.  Your brain is a muscle – use it, or lose it!  Give your mind a work out and try to memorize some phone numbers, fill your mind with new bits of information or try using your non-dominant hand to complete a task to flex your brain muscle each day.
2. Detoxify and rejuvenate!  Treat yourself to infrared sauna treatments to sweat out toxins, such as aluminum and other heavy metals in your body.  Speak with your healthcare provider about an appropriate and supervised food-based cleanse at least once per year.
3. Healthier oils, healthier brain!  Omega-3 essential fatty acids can help patients with mild cognitive dysfunction, while you also get the added benefits of lowering blood pressure, reducing low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (I like to think of them as “lousy cholesterol”), while thinning out your blood.
4. “B” smart!  Ensure optimal amounts of vitamin B1 (thiamine) and vitamin B12 (cobalamin).  Thiamine can potentiate the effects of acetylcholine, an important neurotransmitter for the healthy functioning of your brain. Addressing a vitamin B12 deficiency, ensuring the adequacy of vitamin B12 body stores and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) stores.  Speak with your healthcare provider about the most readily bioavailable forms of these vitamins, as all vitamin products are not created equal.  Ask your Naturopathic Doctor about the option of receiving intramuscular (IM) vitamin B12 injections in-office, which can bypass a digestive system that is not able to absorb the B12 you need to feel your best.

Walk for Memories

On May 27, 2012 I will be participating in the 5K Walk for Memories with the Alzheimer Society of York Region. I will be walking with a team of other young professionals who are also passionate about raising awareness for this cause! If you are a young professional in the Richmond Hill, Thornhill, Markham, North York region who is also interested in walking with inspired like-minded young professionals, please feel free to contact me directly to arrange to walk with us.  See you at the finish line!

Your “Brainy” Tip of the Day:  minimize your exposure to aluminum where possible.

Aluminum toxicity appears to play a significant role in the development of the neurofibrillary tangles of persons with Alzheimer’s.  Some ways of minimizing repetitive exposure includes swapping your aluminum foil with glass containers when storing food.  Your antiperspirants, deodorants and makeup can also be sources of aluminum; while present in minuet amounts, can add up over time with continuous exposure over a lifetime.  There are supplements that may be appropriate to chelate aluminum from the body and brain, which you can discuss with your healthcare provider.

Fertility Woes

Just how many people are experiencing this, you ask?  Approximately 7.3 million American couples of child-bearing age have trouble conceiving a child.  This means reproductive concerns affect one out of every eight couples.  The reasons for reduced fertility are numerous and increasing, especially given that many young couples are having to put off starting a family because they are busy pursuing their academic careers and entering into the workforce much later than their parents or their grandparents.

My wife is going through fertility treatments, what can I do?

Your partner needs you!  Your involvement is key, even if you are not the one undergoing a treatment.  Depending on the fertility treatment your wife is undergoing, the procedure can be more invasive.  An easy way to offer support is by attending medical appointments with your partner as a lot of information can be disseminated in an appointment and can be overwhelming for one set of ears to absorb it all in one sitting!  Learning how to administer medications if required can go a long way in terms of support, as well as taking the time to just simply understand what your partner is being prescribed. Be an informed consumer and do your own research about various fertility tests and procedures. Local fertility support groups are valuable resources you may also wish to attend together.

I’m already seeing a Fertility Specialist, can I still work with a Naturopathic Doctor?

Yes! Your Naturopathic Doctor is quite happy to work with you and all other members of your healthcare team, so you can achieve all your goals.  The real benefit to seeking Naturopathic medical care even if you are skeptical, is that we can discuss strategies to improve your overall health, which in turn can only improve your chances of conceiving.

Supporting Husbands and Partners in the Quest to Overcome their Fertility Fear Factors

Reduced fertility in men today is far more common than people realize — the great news is that people are speaking about their health concerns more openly.  We are moving into an era where people are recognizing that reduced fertility in male partners is by no means indicative of a person’s virility or manliness – and this change in perception is freeing people and allowing them to seek care.  If you are someone who suspects you might have difficulty conceiving a child, both you and your partner are encouraged to seek Naturopathic Medical care, which at the very least, will be able to improve your overall health.

I have compiled a list of questions and answers for you, particularly since knowing what to expect and what questions to ask at your appointment can help you feel more at ease as you prepare for your appointment. Remember, whatever you discuss with your Naturopathic Doctor is kept confidential. There are no embarrassing questions you could possibly ask – so don’t hold back, and ask them all.

When should I see a healthcare provider?

Both partners should consider getting tested if pregnancy fails to occur after a year of regular, unprotected sexual intercourse.  A comprehensive work-up with your Naturopathic Doctor, Family Doctor or Fertility Specialist can can help uncover the causes of infertility, and can also detect other potentially serious medical problems as well.

What topics might my ND want to speak with me about?

There are several factors that may affect fertility that will be important to discuss.  Your Naturopathic Doctor will likely ask you about frequency and timing of sexual intercourse, duration of infertility and any previous fertility events, childhood illnesses and any problems in development, past or current illnesses (diabetes, cancer, previous surgeries), sexual history (including any sexually transmitted diseases), any exposure to toxins (such as chemicals or radiation in the workplace or home), history of any medications and allergies and any family history of reduced fertility.

What treatments may be prescribed?

Treatments are geared towards understanding what the cause of your problems are.  Your Naturopathic Doctor will offer many suggestions, some of which will include an examination of your nutritional intake, and a discussion around lifestyle and environmental factors that may be contributing to decreased fertility (ie. quitting smoking, reducing heavy drinking).  You may be counselled to incorporate the following nutrients  to increase sperm count, improve sperm quality and motility as needed: essential fatty acids, zinc, vitamin E, selenium, glutathione and arginine.  If you have a low sperm count, it may be recommended that you pace your sexual activity to accumulate sperm.

Going for a fertility evaluation can provoke a lot of anxiety, however your fertility issues can only be dealt with by seeking help.  Don’t let a fear of having your suspicions confirmed deter you; it is in your best interest to know what it is you are up against and what it will take to overcome those obstacles, particularly if you or your partner are in a time-sensitive situation.  You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by exploring your fertility care options – so do just that!

The Daddy of All Problems: Focusing on Sperm

What are the most common causes of reduced fertility in men?

A common question male patients have is whether fertility testing is invasive.  Let’s face it, for many men, medical testing (nevermind fertility testing) can conjure up some invasive, faint-worthy examination procedures. Testing, however, is usually no worse than a regular medical check-up with your family doctor. Depending on the specifics of your case, your Naturopathic Doctor may recommend, if you haven’t had it completed already, routine blood work check, a sonographic evaluation of your scrotum (which checks for any physical signs that may be causing reduced fertility), and a semen analysis (which checks sperm concentration, morphological features and sperm motility).

A Sanctuary for Life’s Travellers: Hill House Hospice

This past weekend it was my pleasure to help with the Richmond Hill Beaded Art Gallery Spring 2012 Show and Sale at the Thomas Boyton House whose proceeds were being donated to York Region’s Hill House Hospice.

As you enter the house, there was literature and pamphlets displayed by the door.  I was able to read some of their stories, and was really moved by the various written accounts. This palliative care home constantly has events running and I encourage you to get involved in whatever capacity you are able.

Are Genetically Modified Foods, Modifying Health?

I just watched an absolutely mind-blowing movie found on YouTube called The Future of Food.  This movie comments on gene patenting and the introduction of genetically-modified foods (perhaps more correctly so, its integration), into our food chain.

The initial intent of introducing genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) was to assist the speed and cost-effectiveness of growing crops to help feed the world.  One alarming consequence that arose from the work on GMOs, however, was that genetically-modified plants led to the development of the terminator gene, whereby crops have been programmed to “commit suicide” after one harvest season.  These genetically-modified plants produce sterile seeds that cannot be used the following season.  Scarily enough, this movie raised important questions for consideration – what would happen if these terminator genes contaminated other crops around the world?  What long-term effects do GMOs cause when consumed by our livestock?  What happens to the insects that pollinate these genetically-modified plants?

Epigenetics is the study of heritable alterations in gene expression caused by mechanisms other than changes in DNA sequence.  To relate this idea back to the discussion of our agriculture, while organic produce may be loosely “indistinguishable” from GMO produce at quick glance, there are undeniable differences between it and our organic produce and this is seen in subsequent generations of genetically-modified plants (it may look like “regular” crop and produce seeds, but seeds from these genetically-modified plants are not viable and therefore unable to produce future crop).

The food we are consuming is often over-looked as playing a contributory role in the progression of disease.  Remember, the body is amazing at being able to take a high-level of “abuse” before it reaches a tipping point, whereby illness manifests.  Just because you are able to buy it off the store shelf, does not mean it is a food you should be eating.  The fact of the matter is that we do not know what the long-term effects genetically-modified foods will have on our bodies, on our health or the health of our families.  Unfortunately, we cannot forecast what unintended consequences may come from these food choices.

My advice: choose quality foods over quantity.  Purchase the best quality food you are able, opting for a food that is not genetically-modified (as indicated by its SKU code), and is local and organic.  You owe it to yourself to consider the effect GMOs will have on human epigenetics and epigenetic inheritance, which means that what you eat can affect the health and wellness of your grandchildren, great grandchildren and great great grandchildren.  A major advantage of choosing locally-produced crop is that it is harvested when it is at its peak nutritive value.  According to this movie, local food travels an average of 50 miles (80 km), whereas food in the average supermarket is said to travel an average of 1500 miles (2414 km).  To give you a better appreciation of what that means, the longest east-west distance of Toronto is approximately 43 km, and for Ontario it is 1690 km.  The bottom line – the nutritional content of your food decreases the further your food has to travel before it reaches the produce isle at your grocery store and subsequently, your family’s dinner table.

Navigating the Journey of Menopause, Naturally!

Dr. Judith Ancheta, Naturopathic Doctor cordially invites you to attend an enlightening, casual discussion on “Navigating the Journey of Menopause, Naturally!” with Whole Woman Network at their April 23, 2012 meeting. Please join us to learn more about the signs and symptoms which indicate you are transitioning into the next, exciting life-changing stage and about the hormonal changes, which are driving many of the symptoms you may, or are currently, experiencing (hot flashes, vaginal dryness, libido changes, urinary tract changes, mental and emotional changes). We invite you to learn about naturopathic strategies including the best medicinal foods, dietary strategies to employ, and a teaser on controversial topics such as menopause and hormone replacement therapy. As women, we naturally tend towards being life-giving towards others, and as a result of this, can put off well-deserved self-care. Aging women today are more wise, beautiful, active, happy, saucy and sexier than ever before! Join us as we celebrate one of life’s milestones and embrace aging, redefining together what this stage means in a woman’s life.

Details: Loblaws, 2nd Floor Meeting Room, 301 High Tech Road, Richmond Hill
Date: April 23, 2012
Time: 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Cost: Complimentary!

Love Your Body, Change Your Life

I attended the Ontario Association of Naturopathic Doctors (OAND) Spring Conference and Annual General Meeting last weekend.  Naturopathic Doctors from all over Ontario gathered to discuss the changes surrounding the set up of a new College of Naturopathic Doctors, with expected proclamation in March 2013.  The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLT) recognizes the care Naturopathic Doctors are providing to their patients is helping alleviate many issues associated with our publicly-funded health care system and Naturopathic Doctors everywhere are proud to be part of the solution!

Naturopathic Medicine Week in Ontario this year May 7-13, 2012!


I am excited that Dr. Natasha Turner, ND will be speaking about her new book, The Carb Sensitivity Program to help patients discover which carbs will curb cravings, control appetite and banish belly fat to stave off chronic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Dr. Turner is the best selling author of The Hormone Diet and The Super-Charged Hormone Diet, two must-read books.

Details:  Glenn Gould Studio, Toronto, Ontario
Date:  May 9, 2012
Time:  7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Cost: $15 (it’s a steal!)

For tickets, you can purchase them at the Roy Thomson Hall Box Office or call the Box Office at (416) 872-4255.

Suffer from Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS)? Another Reason to Go Green!

The rate at which people are experiencing a barrage of health problems such as rashes, allergies, respiratory problems,  difficulties focusing mentally due to fragrances and a gambit of other chemical sensitivities to cleaning supplies, off-gassing clothes, furniture, varnishes, new carpets etc., is rising substantially.

There are at least two good reasons to consider purchasing organic clothing:  one, your clothing is intimately in contact with the largest (and arguably, most neglected) organ of the body, your skin!  Organic clothing has not been treated with harmful pesticides, insecticides and dyes, and is therefore not contributing to the pollution of your own body’s biological terrain.  Two, organic clothing made from natural fibers and materials are eco-friendly, are from renewable resources and is also *hopefully, socially conscious.

Persons who might benefit the most in making this conscious change are persons who have itchy, irritated skin, are constantly sneezing, coughing or congested, or persons who have multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS).  These persons may find organic clothing is an essential component of their self-care plan in reducing their exposure to the vast array of toxic chemicals that we are unknowingly (and now knowingly) exposing ourselves to every day.

When I think of organic clothing, the first eco-friendly material that pops into mind is hemp.  It was the original eco-fabric incorporated into t-shirts and denim.  It grows quickly and does not require the use of pesticides.  It is an environmentally positive crop, which means it actually improves the condition of the soil it grows in!

Organic cotton is grown without the use of herbicides, fertilizers or pesticides resulting in finer, naturally softer fabric with higher thread counts.

Jute, likely more commonly known to you as burlap or hessian, is produced from a plant that matures in less than 6 months and is therefore highly renewable.  Moreover, it is biodegradable and recyclable and a great alternative to plastic.  While this may not be your first choice for eco-friendly fibers against your skin because of its coarse texture, it is durable and breathable and is used in bags, shoes and jackets.  The camouflage suit (known as a ghillie suit) was initially used in the military for concealment.  For civilians, this material is used in camo jackets worn by hunters and serious paintball or airsoft participants.

Clothing (I digress a moment – as well as flooring in our homes) made from organic bamboo is another growing hot commodity amongst contemporary green clothing line designers.  It is a plant which you know grows readily in our households, without the need of harmful fertilizers and pesticides.  Material made from bamboo, does however undergo some degree of chemical processing by the time it gets to your wardrobe.

Lyocell fibers, whose trademark name is Tencel, are made from wood pulp cellulose.  Cellulose is a natural polymer found in the cells of all vegetation.  Although it is generally eco-friendly and environmentally sustainable, its soft and durable qualities making it desirable, it can undergo the same harsh chemical treatment conventional clothing undergoes from its natural fibers to your garments.

Other natural fabrics which are increasingly “all the rage” and are being incorporated into luxurious clothing designers’ green lines (and eventually percolates into the average persons’ wardrobe) include: aloe (Germany, Spain and Italy), modal (Beech tree cellulose), soy (“vegetable cashmere”) and yak (long-haired bovine that is indigenous to the Himalayan mountains).

We are becoming increasingly aware of the food we put into our bodies.  Perhaps it is also time we become conscious of the clothes we place against our skin.