detox

Stop Sneezing and Start Breathing! A Guide to Spring Allergies

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Well the sun is finally starting to come out along with warmer temperatures (please please stay!!), but that doesn’t mean all happy times for those who suffer from spring allergies. Pollens and other allergens are starting to come out and cause sneezing, itching and runny noses. Naturopathic medicine can be very helpful in battling these spring allergies, so you don’t have to rely on over-the-counter, or even prescribed, anti-histamines forever! 

I know what it is like, I have been there. When I was younger I would get chronic hives if I didn’t take Reactine daily. I also could barely function without Reactine, eye drops AND Flonase in the morning one summer when at camp, especially when there was fresh cut grass! Fast forward to a year or so later with no allergies at all, after seeing an ND myself and working through some of the suggestions below. 

3 Main reasons for chronic allergies:

  • Poor adrenal function - The function of your adrenal glands are very much connected to your immune system. I see it time and time again, that if someone is drained due to chronic stress they start to have more sensitivities, allergies or just get sick more often. 

  • Poor liver detoxification - Think of your body as a bucket. If there is too much toxicity going into the body but poor detoxification from the liver, that bucket is going to overflow and symptoms such as allergies start to occur. We need to empty the bucket somewhat by aiding in liver function. 

  • Poor digestion - The digestive system is a main organ of elimination. It also makes up about 70% of our immune system. When we are eating food we are sensitive to, too much sugar or processed foods we damage the gut and its proper function. The digestive system is also affected by such things as chronic stress and chronic use of antibiotics. More damage to the gut leads to a poor immune system and poor elimination. It is that simple. 

Solutions for your allergies:

  1. Clean up your diet - If you suffer from spring allergies every year I would advise you to start cleaning up your diet at least 3-4 weeks before allergens start to affect you. This means decreasing the amount of sugar you eat, decrease processed foods and takeout and figure out other food sensitives you may have to avoid for now. Just that will strengthen your immune system and proper detox. Your body can focus on controlling inflammation elsewhere instead of your gut. Add heathy foods such as fresh veggies, fruit and even a little local honey will benefit your digestive system, liver and immune system. 

  • Add a probiotic - This is especially important if you suffer from digestive concerns or you have had multiple rounds of antibiotics throughout your life. We want to repopulate the gut with those good bugs to support the immune system. Not all probiotics are created equal though so please come see me if you are unsure what to take. Start with one with at least 11 billion units, try coconut kefir or include fermented foods into your diet. 

  • Introduce Urtica diocia (Nettle leaf) - This mineral rich herb acts to revitalize the liver as well as inhibits masts cells (an important part of your immune system) from releasing allergens. This makes it very helpful for spring allergies. It can be taken as a tea or added to a supplement. 

  • Quercetin - This is a plant flavonoid found in foods such as apples, kale and onions, which was a key player in eliminating my allergies. It has a low bioavailability in food so a good quality supplement is necessary to do the trick. Quercetin helps to down-regulate histamine release from mast cells, instead of completely blocking it like over-the-counter anti-histamines do. That means you may need higher doses at first but will not have to take it long term, unlike Reactine or Aerius. 

  • Take vitamin C - Not only is vitamin C a powerful anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory, it helps support the adrenal glands as well. The can be given in a Myers IV in clinic or in a buffered supplement form.

With these few suggestions you can minimize or even completely resolve your chronic sneezing and itching! Depending on the severity of a patients allergies, I tend to give a combo of these suggestions. If your allergies are chronic and severe you may need a more comprehensive liver detox program. This is something I can guide you through at the clinic. 

In health & happiness, 

Dr. Karen

Celery Juice: Fad or Real?

My attempt at celery juice.

My attempt at celery juice.

I’ve been asked many times about the 2019 wellness trend celery juice and whether the health claims are actually valid. So I did a little digging to find out if it really is all that it is cracked up to be. Is it the ultimate detoxer? Can it actually cure chronic disease, bloating, heartburn, acne, eczema etc? Let’s break it down.

Pros:

  • What I love about this trend is that it is pushing people to first drink more fluids in the morning and eating (or drinking in this case) more vegetables. This is key is my book! I try to get my patients to eat 2 cups of veggies 2x/day so if you can cross a cup or two off your list in the morning that it a bonus!

  • Celery is full of vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin K (although not nearly as much as what is in other greens such as kale, spinach or broccoli). Most of its nutrients are still intact in the juice form, except for the fibre, so you are still reaping the benefits if you drink the juice.

  • Celery can decrease inflammation as it contains many antioxidants, which decrease overall oxidative stress in our body. This can ultimately decrease chronic disease such as hypertension, cancer and digestive concerns.

  • Due to certain non-starchy polysaccharides, especially one called apiuman, celery protects against inflammation in the digestive tract as it improves the integrity of the stomach lining (although only tested in animals). This can lead to decreased bloating, heartburn and inflammatory bowel conditions. This helps in the Repair portion of my 4 R’s in gut health.

  • Celery reduces water retention due to phytonutrients called phthalides, ultimately leading to decreased blood pressure or edema/bloating (however only the blood pressure effects have been researched).

Cons:

  • Studies on celery, as I have eluded to above, have mostly been on animals only, and not much research has been done. I could not find a study on just celery juice as well.

  • The studies on the effects of phthalates for water retention are only on celery seeds, celery oil and celery extracts and not the whole plant (or just juice in this case).

  • Finally, some stores are running out of celery!! What are we to do?!

Confusing claims:

  • This wellness trend seems to have been initiated by the medical medium Anthony William. He claims all the above pros as well as the ability of celery juice to kill pathogens in the body, which could be causing GI upset, acne, UTIs etc, by its sodium cluster salts. What are sodium cluster salts you ask? I don’t know! He even states that science and research has yet to discover them. He also claims that these sodium cluster salts get neutralized and therefore are inactive if you add anything else (even water or lemon) to your juice and do not drink it on an empty stomach. He may be correct, but as he said this has not be proven or even discovered yet!

Final thoughts:

Is celery juice healthy for you? Yes! Is it a must to incorporate into your morning routine? No.

Although there are several health benefits of celery (the whole plant, not the just the juice), research is lacking on the health claims that have been shared. That said, I don’t see any negatives to adding it to your healthy diet, as long as you are already getting other veggies in your diet including the fibre.

Those that have tried it have told me they have seen great benefits in their digestive system and skin mostly. So it may be worth giving it a shot!

Have you tried 16oz of pure celery juice, first thing in the morning on an empty stomach? I’d love to hear your experience!

In health & happiness,

Dr. Karen

p.s Any other health trends you are curious about? Let me know :)

Food Friday: Colourful Broccoli Salad

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Why buy pre-made "salads" coated in calories when you can made your own with delicious ingredients that are oh so good for you and that is very easy to make! I love this salad for lunch as a side dish with salmon salad, roast chicken or really anything. I aim to get at least one serving of greens a day and this easily covers me. Try mixing up the recipe to your liking with different nuts like roasted cashews, shallots instead of red onion or even a little shredded cheese if your stomach permits. However, even my broccoli hating guy was pleasantly surprised how good this version was. 

Broccoli is chalk full of nutrients with so many health benefits! This is a powerful cruciferous vegetable, meaning it contains I3C which aids in liver detoxification. It is anti-inflammatory from its sulphoraphanes and omega 3s and has shown in studies to decrease the blood inflammatory market CRP. It is an antioxidant with the plethora of vitamins, nutrients and phytonutrients. With all that in mind, broccoli is a unique food in terms of cancer prevention, with a recommendation of 1/2 cup a day. Finally, with a high fibre content broccoli is helpful for most digestive concerns. What's not to love! So what are you waiting for? Get mixing :)

Ingredients:

  • 1 Head broccoli, chopped in bite sized pieces 
  • Handful of shredded carrots (I prefer pre-shredded in this recipe as they can be thicker strands)
  • 1-2 tbsp raisins
  • 1/4 or so diced red onion 
  • 1/4 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
  • 1.5 tbsp avocado mayo (more if needed for desired consistency) 
  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp or so of honey (optional)
  • Salt to taste

Directions:

Pretty simple! Just mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Add more mayo or olive oil to create consistency you like. Enjoy!

In health & happiness, 

Dr. Karen

How To Holiday Right - Tips to Enjoy the Holidays Without the Side Effects

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As the Holidays approach it is usually hard to avoid overindulging, over drinking, under sleeping and over stressing! Routines may go out the window to make way for holiday parties, last minute shopping or hosting family. On average people gain 1-2 pounds during the holidays and while this doesn’t sound like much, if we are not careful these 1-2 pounds can start to accumulate. Our liver and gut also tend to take a beating this month which ultimately suppresses our immune system and ability to detox. I want to share some simple tips and reminders to keep you on track with your health. 

1. Remember it is a Holi-DAY not Holi-MONTH!

Even though your holiday parties may have already started or coworkers are bringing holiday baking to the office, be careful not to overindulge throughout the whole month and reserve that to the actual holiday you are celebrating. Cave into small cravings but keep a mental record of how many sweets or drinks you’ve had that day or week. Writing it down could be helpful. Festive alternative could be pomegranates or clementines and don't forget that there are actually health benefits to eating a few pieces of dark chocolate! 


2. Find Balance!

Holding out for the party food this evening and avoiding calories during the day? That is setting you up for disaster as you will be starving when you actually get there and end up eating much more than your body needs. I suggest sticking with balanced meals throughout the day and even eating something small before a party to avoid the ravenous hunger hands. For example, an omelet with veggies in the morning, a protein shake or bar late morning, a healthy salad or soup with hummus and crackers for a late lunch, then a handful of almonds before the party. Sound delicious?! 


3. Don’t stray from your Routine.

I say it time and time again, our body LOVES routine and when we stray from that for late nights out, or missed exercise for family or shopping our body suffers. I see this leading to fatigue, depression, weight gain etc. Commit to a brisk walk, a 20 minute HIIT workout or yoga in the morning to start your day off on the right foot. Exercising on an empty stomach can help boost metabolism and aid in weight loss. Try to head to bed at a decent time as well even though I know another Christmas movie is tempting. You may want to try magnesium bis-glycinate, melatonin or cortisol reducer to help you sleep, which I carry at the clinic.


4. Save your Gut.

For those bigger holiday meals we don't want to avoid try boosting enzymes and stomach acid to aid in digestion and prevent bloating. Some things that could help are a basic digestive enzymes, bitters in liquid tincture form, or simply sipping on apple cider vinegar before your meal. These things will help with detoxification as well! If you have strict food sensitivities, stick with them as best you can to ensure you feel well for the rest of your holidays. 


5. Day after support.

I am not immune to a few too many drinks over the holidays but I make sure to support my body before and after. If you are heading out to a holiday party, think about drinking more clear liquids instead of heavy booze and sugary drinks. The less sugar the better. Enjoy cocktails? Have 1 then switch to something lighter. During that night be sure to drink plenty of water. For food, instead of reaching for greasy food the next day, make yourself a big salad filled with healthy greens, cruciferous veggies and fat, such as olive oil, nuts and seeds, or avocado. Join me January 2nd-5th for a short Holiday cleanse! (Details will be posted on Facebook and blog soon!) Some supplements I suggest the day before and after are B vitamins, liver support and antioxidants! 


6. Pamper yourself!

There are 2 reasons I suggest this. One is to ensure stress levels do not rise too high, which suppresses our immune system. The other is to aid in detoxification after our Christmas cocktails. Find a hot sauna (infrared is best), a hot yoga class, take a hot bath with epsom salts, or invest in a dry skin brush to create a mini spa experience before jumping in the shower. These ideas increase circulation, sweating and ultimately detoxification - they are relaxing as well!

There you have it, my top solutions to survive the holidays and support your body! Any questions, let me know! 


Happy Holidays! 
Dr. Karen