Friday, January 1, 2021

Happy New Year!

 Happy New Year!  All the lack of familiarity during 2020 has me looking even more forward to the stabilizing energy of my yearly cleanse!  

Each year since 2001, I have done a cleanse for the month of January.  My regular day to day eating (no meat, no dairy, no eggs, no coffee, no alcohol, no refined sugar, limited gluten, limited processed foods) is pretty plain and simple for the most part, but during the cleanse, I also leave out all gluten, unrefined sweeteners, soy, nightshade veggies (tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, eggplant), and all pre-prepared foods (outside of rice cakes).  This year I will also be reducing my intake of some of the high FODMAP foods (like onions and mushrooms).  

2020 helped to reinforce for me the importance of my internal connection to self and the cleanse always helps to ground me further in my body.  I feel especially grateful for this as I move forward into 2021. 

Sending out wishes for a New Year that is filled with a bit more ease and calm and more love, more peace, and more happiness.  Thank you to everyone who supported my practice in 2020, I am deeply thankful.   

Sunday, March 29, 2020

SIBO Pro Course tidbits!

I have recently signed up for Allison Siebecker ND’s SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth) Pro Course - I am only a few hours into the course material, but have already learned a lot of great info!

Here are just a few of the interesting points:

  • The migrating motor complex (MMC) is like a push broom working to ensure that bacteria, undigested food, and cellular debris are cleared from the small intestine - healthy MMC functioning is critical in preventing SIBO and when it is dysfunctional, it is one of the main underlying causes of SIBO.

  • The majority of people with SIBO have it due to food poisoning - the bacteria responsible for food poisoning produce a toxin that causes cross reactivity with a protein (vinculin) in the cells  (interstitial cells of cajal) in the small intestine lining which control MMC activity - when these cells are damaged, the MMC slows down and can lead to SIBO.
  • We can develop SIBO up to 6 months after having had food poisoning.
  • The MMC requires 3 - 5 hours between eating to be activated (which requires no snacking in between meals) - a snack or a small meal will turn off the MMC for another 1.5 - 2 hours, even a candy will turn off the MMC for another 40 - 50 minutes, as will quickly drinking a large glass of water (aim to drink slowly over 15 minutes to prevent impacting the MMC).  
  • The MMC only functions when we are in a parasympathetic state - chronic stress keeps us in a sympathetic state and prevents proper MMC functioning.

  • Because SIBO involves bacterial overgrowth, it also involves the production of lipopolysaccharides (LPS) or endotoxins which inhibit both phase 2 and phase 3 of detoxification impacting our ability to clear toxins, heavy metals, mold etc.  LPS doesn’t impact phase 1 detoxification (which leads to the production of more toxic compounds which then need to be neutralized and cleared through phase 2 and phase 3 pathways) - these compounds then become backed up and instead get reabsorbed into circulation.
  • LPS also leads to the production of inflammatory cytokines which signal irritation in the digestive tract which then triggers off signals in the central nervous system which can lead to mood and cognitive concerns, especially anxiety and brain fog.
  • SIBO also damages the lining of the small intestine - we have digestive enzymes that sit within the lining of the small intestine, so when the lining is damaged, it impacts our enzyme levels and our ability to absorb nutrients.
  • Bacteria can also compete for nutrients and this can lead to iron, zinc, magnesium, B12 deficiencies.
  • Our DAO enzyme which breaks down histamine is also in the lining of the small intestine - with SIBO, this is also compromised and can lead to an increased risk of developing histamine intolerance. 
  • Hydrogen sulphide based SIBO is more likely to create additional systemic symptoms than hydrogen and methane based SIBO including body pain, bladder irritation, numbness and tingling in the extremities, and people will often feel worse with epsom salt baths, sulphur based supplements (like glucosamine or MSM), and sulphur rich foods.
  • SIBO is often found alongside rosacea, psoriasis, restless leg syndrome, interstitial cystitis, rheumatoid arthritis - people who have found low response to treatment for these concerns will often see improvement in symptoms after being treated for SIBO. 
  • HCL in the stomach is designed to kill viruses and bacteria - with acid reflux medications (PPIs/proton pump inhibitors), our internal production of HCL is reduced which can lead to bacterial overgrowth in the stomach which can then spill over and contribute to SIBO. 
  • Immunosuppressant medications like prednisone reduce the immune system’s ability to kill bacteria and can also predispose to SIBO.
Stay tuned for more interesting info about SIBO as I go along in the course!

Thursday, January 23, 2020

SNP Analysis Webinar Tidbits

I attended a great SNP (single nucleotide polymorphism) Analysis Webinar last night presented by Penny Kendall-Reed ND.  SNPs are single nucleotide (gene building blocks) differences in the structure of the gene that change the way that the gene expresses itself/works.   Here is a summary of a few of the interesting tidbits:

- More than 170 of our genes' functioning is impacted by stress and some of the impacts include deceased wound healing, increased inflammation, increased weight gain, and decreased sleep quality
- TSH levels (which measure our thyroid health/function) can increase by up to 140% from morning to night and fluctuate throughout the day
- Estrogen can deactivate T3 (our active thyroid hormone), increase TSH levels, and falsely elevate T4 levels (our other thyroid hormone) - this impact is especially seen while on oral contraceptives (the birth control pill) or during the mid part of our cycle/ovulation
- TSH levels are higher in the winter/colder months and lower in the summer/warmer months
- Stress increases TSH levels and the production of auto immune mediated thyroid antibodies 
- Our SNPs can help determine whether we are a good candidate for hormone replacement therapy (HRT) - the optimal SNP combination when taking HRT is genes that encourage the conversion of estrogen into the C2 form (the 'good' form/non carcinogenic form), that do not encourage the conversion of estrogen into the C4 form (the 'bad' form/ the carcinogenic form), and that encourage proper clearance of these estrogen breakdown forms through phase 2 liver detox pathways 
- Increased stress and the resulting increased cortisol (stress hormone) production causes inflammation of melatonin receptors which prevents melatonin from binding and prevents us from getting into the deep sleep phase of our sleep cycle 

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Happy 2020!

Happy 2020!  2020 marks 30 years since I graduated from high school and 20 years since I graduated from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine!  As of October this year, I will have been in practice since 20 years!  Where has the time gone?!
I also started doing my yearly January cleanse in 2001, so 2020 marks my 20th cleanse!   My regular day to day eating is pretty basic (no meat, no dairy, no eggs, no coffee, no alcohol, no refined sugar, limited gluten, limited processed foods) outside of dark chocolate and Friday night frozen pizza, but for January, I also leave out chocolate and any other sweets, gluten, soy, nightshade veggies (tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, eggplant), and all purchased pre-prepared food (like restaurant smoothies, restaurant meals, prepared hummus, bagged popcorn etc).
For me, my January cleanse is always a good way to enter the new year in a simple, quiet, and grounded in my body way.  It serves as a good reset after the out of routine nature of the holiday season and I look forward to it each year.
My first meal for the 2020 cleanse is a smoothie (which is my regular breakfast even when not on a cleanse!)!  I lost my taste for green smoothies in mid 2019, so my smoothie contains a green apple, frozen blueberries, frozen cherries, chia seeds, almond butter, coconut oil, and water.  It always tastes delicious and, for me, feels like a perfect way to start the new decade!
Sending wishes for our new year and new decade to be filled with continued growth and learning and love and discovery!  

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

AANP 2019 Convention

I attended the AANP 2019 conference in Portland this past weekend and I learned lots of great info including:

From Carrie Jones' lecture on estrogen detox, Phase 1 liver detox (via cytochrome P450) is dependent on healthy iron levels, so  those of us with low iron have compromised liver detox - another reason to ensure our iron levels are well balanced (for women a balanced ferritin is between 100 - 150).  Also indole 3 carbinol supplements depend on healthy stomach acid to be broken down into their more active counterpart, DIM.  Because low stomach acid, proton pump inhibitor/gerd medication dosing, and tums usage is quite pervasive, taking DIM rather than indole 3 carbinol is a better choice.

From Michael Traub's lecture on SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth), SiBO can present without any digestive symptoms, this is especially seen with rosacea.  Also within hours of a traumatic brain injury (TBI), including concussion, there is disruption of the normal vagal innervation of the small intestine and a significant increase in intestinal permeability.  Because of this, TBI is a major risk factor for SIBO.

From Nirala Jacobi's lecture on SIBO, methane based SIBO is less commonly associated with a previous episode(s) of food poisoning.  Also integrating 2 Kiwi fruit per day can increase digestive motility and is also a low FODMAP food (so easier on the digestive system in general and during/post SIBO treatment).  People with elevated methane at baseline and then no significant increase on their SIBO breath test fit into the category of methane positive constipation (IBS-C) and respond better to a more vegetarian based SIBO/bi phasic diet.  Tofu, tempeh, and miso are all generally low FODMAP veggie foods and can be part of this protocol.

From John Neustadt's lecture on sleep, the average optimal length to sleep is now considered to be 8.2 hours per night, but the average is actually 6.9 hours per night.  As well, the use of blue screen e readers before bed is associated with having a harder time to fall asleep, taking hours to feel refreshed in the morning, and it also reduces/delays melatonin production.  If we are waking at the same time every night, it is often related to low blood sugar and eating 8 -10 g of protein before bed can be helpful. 

From Decker Weiss' lecture on cardiology, hot flashes are related to not only lower estrogen but also lower serotonin (via causing inflammation in the lining of the vessels which makes us more prone to hot flashes/vascular instability).

From Eric Yarnell's lecture on herbal medicine, both eleutherococcus and boswelia are over harvested herbs that aren’t currently being grown/worked with sustainably and it is best to move away from working with these herbs.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Nutrition For Stress Relief

I had a wonderful time presenting at Yoga at the Lake's ( A Self Care Day Retreat: Yoga and Nutrition for Stress Relief this past weekend!  Studio owner, Janelle Ford, has created such a warm and therapeutic space and there was such good energy and flow with the group of people who attended.  Thank you to Janelle for inviting me and for organizing this great event and thank you to everyone who attended for sharing their energy and time and wisdom.  
Here is some of the info we covered during our Nutrition for Stress Management Session:
Our HPA (hypothalamic pituitary adrenal) axis manages our stress response in our body,  It activates a cascade of hormones that ends with the production of cortisol.  Cortisol is our primary stress hormone, it is produced by the adrenals, and it drives our fight or flight response.  When our HPA axis is over engaged due to high levels of stress of any type, our cortisol levels become imbalanced, causing us to function in a chronically stressed state.  From a nutritional perspective, there are a number of choices we can make to help manage our levels of stress and support balanced cortisol levels.

Balanced blood sugar - imbalanced blood sugar is a significant stressor for our body and contributes to disrupted cortisol levels, so it is important to maintain healthy blood sugar balance throughout our day.  Protein is critical in maintaining balanced blood sugar levels and it is important to ensure we have protein with each meal.   Protein sources in our diet include meat, dairy, eggs, legumes, nuts, and seeds.  Protein powders can also be helpful as an additional option - yellow pea, hemp, pumpkin, rice, egg white are all good bases to look for.

Minimizing sugar intakerefined sugar is also a significant stressor for our body and it also contributes to imbalanced blood sugar which again contributes to disrupted cortisol levels.   It is important to minimize refined sugar (which includes white and brown sugar and artificial sweeteners) consumption and instead focus on unrefined sweeteners (which includes pure maple syrup, agave, brown rice syrup, cane sugar etc).  It is also important to have sweets as a treat (1 - 2 times per week) rather than every day or as a regular part of our diet. 

Minimizing inflammatory foods - chronic inflammation is also a significant stressor for our body and it also contributes to disrupted cortisol levels.  Foods high in saturated fats (which includes red meat, dairy products, and eggs), processed foods, sugar, caffeine, and alcohol all can contribute to inflammation in our system.  Citrus fruits (especially oranges and grapefruit) and nightshades (which includes all colors of tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, and eggplant) can also contribute to inflammation.   It is especially important to limit our intake of these foods if we have any chronic inflammatory condition, like asthma, allergies, eczema, joint pain/arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease.

Minimizing coffee/caffeine - coffee is an adrenal stimulant and a significant stressor for our body and also contributes to disrupted cortisol levels.  It is important to either remove coffee or to drink no more than 1 cup of coffee per day.  Green tea places less stress on the body and can be a good replacement for some or all of the coffee we drink.

Focusing on a whole foods diet - additionally a diet rich in saturated fats and low in fruits and vegetables has been found to contribute to disrupted cortisol levels.  In general, focusing on a whole foods diet will support balanced cortisol levels.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

EPL Great Stuff Guest: Top EPL Picks for a New You!

The Edmonton Public Library has reposted the Top EPL Picks for a New You Book List I created a few years ago!  Here is an excerpt from the post:

Working on building and strengthening our overall health is a great goal to have at any time of the year! Making long term improvements in our health is most often done by making small and simple changes in our daily routines. Slowly and steadily working with the foods we eat, the amount of exercise we get, the way we think, and how we manage stress will generally help to improve our overall health. The following resources offer practical and easy to integrate suggestions to help us work with these areas of our lives. And remember making even one change on one level makes a difference to our bodies and will help us become healthier than we were before we made that change!
Check out to see the list of books I suggested!