Dietary Approaches to Balancing Your Hormones

By Dr. Joanna Rosenfeld

1. Include Healthy Fats

Fat and cholesterol provide the precursors to our sex hormones. Ensuring you get enough healthy fats in your diet is critical to hormone balance. Healthy fats help to decrease inflammation in the body, help to maintain a healthy body weight and

Healthy Fats: Olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, fish, nuts and seeds

How to do it:

  • Include 2tbsp of ground flax seed in your diet each day – you can sprinkle it on top of oatmeal, or in a smoothie. Flax seeds provide a good source of anti-inflammatory fats, aid with digestion and also help to balance estrogen levels in the body.
  • Cook with coconut oil – it has a high melting point and provides a good source of medium chain triglycerides – important for brain health and development as well as weight loss.
  • Drizzle olive oil over roasted vegetables and salads.
  • Try to consume fish 2-3 times per week. Smaller fish will accumulate less mercury, for example: anchovies, butterfish, catfish, clam, crab (domestic), crawfish/crayfish, croaker (Atlantic), flounder, haddock (Atlantic), herring, mackerel, oyster, perch (ocean), salmon (fresh, canned), sardines, scallop, shrimp, sole (Pacific), squid (Calamari), tilapia, trout (freshwater), whitefish
  • Use nuts and seeds as a snack. Chia seeds can be made into a pudding and eaten as a nice breakfast, or snack. Homemade trail mix with a mixture of walnuts, almonds, brazil nuts and cashews are a good mid-day snack to be eaten in moderation.

 

2.  Increase your Veg!

Eat all the colours of the rainbow to ensure you are getting the phytonutrients your body needs. Aim for 1 cup of each colour every day: blue, red, green, yellow/orange and white.

The cruciferous vegetables are especially beneficial for helping with estrogen balance and detoxification. These include broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, kohlrabi, mustard, rutabaga, turnips, bok choy, and chinese cabbage. Arugula, horse radish, radish, wasabi, and watercress are also cruciferous vegetables.

Eating more colourful vegetables also helps to maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight can increase estrogen dominance in the body, and disrupt hormonal balance. Veggies also pack a hefty punch of dietary fiber, which helps maintain regularity, and also ensures that excess estrogens are being excreted.

How to do it:

  • Make ½ your plate veggies – lightly steaming or cooking your vegetables makes them more digestible.
  • If you enjoy a morning smoothie, fill up your blender with a mixture of vegetables: leafy greens, avocado, celery, beets and more.
  • When you make pasta sauces or stir fries, make the bulk of the sauce from vegetables, with some additional protein and fats.

3. Pack on the Protein

Proteins form the building blocks of our cells, and are important for creating hormones, maintaining a healthy immune system, achieving an ideal body composition and much more. Proteins (especially when combined with healthy fats and fiber) help to balance our blood sugar levels, which can be extremely important for reproductive health and ovulation.

How to do it:

  • Choose organic meat when possible to decrease the amount of exogenous hormones in our food.  Ensure a palm-sized amount of protein at all your meals.
  • Choose smaller fish (listed above), which contain fewer heavy metals and toxins.
  • When selecting red meat, opt for grass fed meat. The cuts from grass fed animals are less inflammatory and contain more healthy fats than traditional grain fed meats. These animals also generally come from more humane farms.
  • Choose free-run organic eggs to ensure you are getting the highest quality eggs from chickens that are not confined to small cages.
  • Vegetarian sources of protein are also a great choice, and high in additional fiber. Lentils, beans, peas and quinoa are some great options. If you find you have difficulty digesting beans or lentils, you can try soaking them overnight before eating to break down some of the hard to digest fibers. Rinsing quinoa thoroughly just before cooking will also help make it more digestible.

Foods to Avoid/Minimize:

1. Dairy

In addition to being a common allergen, dairy foods tend to upset our hormonal balance. Dairy has been associated with increased hormonal acne, more PMS and menstrual cramps and increased inflammation in the body.

2. Added Sugar

Sugar is the most inflammatory substance we can consume. It disrupts our blood sugar balance and contributes to systemic inflammation. This can wreak havoc on your menstrual cycle, mood, energy levels and immune system. Sugars are addictive, unfortunately. The more we have, the more we want. So keep your sweets to a minimum, and enjoy fresh fruit to satisfy your sweet cravings.

3. Caffeine

Caffeine can place an extra burden on the liver’s detoxification process and interfere with Caffeine should be limited to no more than 200mg in pregnancy – this is the equivalent of a “short” drip coffee from Starbucks. Better yet, switch to decaffeinated coffee or green tea, or herbal teas to help with energy levels, mood and hormone balance.

4. Alcohol

Alcoholic drinks can pack on the pounds and disturb your sleep, contributing to hormonal imbalance. Alcohol also places additional stress on the liver, making it work harder to process and break down hormones. Keep alcoholic drinks to 1/day for women, and none during pregnancy.

5. Processed Foods

Processed foods are high in sugar and simple carbohydrates, leading to blood sugar imbalances, digestive disturbances and weight gain. Processed foods are often high in sodium, contributing to high blood pressure and water retention.

Healing Anxiety – An Integrative Approach

By: Dr. Joanna Rosenfeld ND

 

1 in 4 Canadians will suffer from some form of anxiety disorder in their lifetime. Feeling anxiety, or fear, is a normal part of our physiology but it becomes a problem when anxiety interferes with relationships, the ability to go to work or school, and other aspects of daily life.

 

Symptoms of Anxiety

The symptoms of anxiety are diverse, and can sometimes be difficult to recognize. Mental symptoms include excessive worry, insomnia, recurrent thoughts, nervousness and a sense of doom. There are also a myriad of physical symptoms – changes in body temperature, changes in digestion, frequent urination, muscle tension, rapid heart rate, chest pain, excessive sweating and more.

 

Conventional Approach

First line pharmaceutical treatment for anxiety can involve medications to increase levels of “feel-good” neurotransmitters in the body, such as serotonin, or medications that increase the inhibitory neurotransmitter, GABA, to help “chill out”. These can work for some individuals, but medications alone don’t provide a holistic treatment plan. The side effects of weight gain, insomnia or excessive sleepiness and decreased sexual function are often limiting factors in their use.

Naturopathic Approach

Naturopathic Doctors don’t look at mental health as a condition occurring solely in the brain, that doesn’t affect, or have an effect, on the rest of the body. Anyone who has had anxiety before a big test and felt butterflies in their stomach, or felt their heart race, can tell you that anxiety manifests throughout the body.  Below are just some of the ways Naturopathic Doctors can help address your anxiety.

 

Cause: Stress

Stress is a natural response to a perceived threat. During times of stress our body activates the “fight or flight” division of the nervous system. This increases adrenaline and cortisol in the body: creating many of the symptoms listed above – increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, increased breathing rate, muscle tension and mental worry. It’s easy to see how elevated levels of stress can cause, or contribute, to anxiety.

Solution: Increase the amount of time you spend in the “rest and digest” division of the nervous system. Deep breathing, yoga, meditation and low key exercise all help to decrease high levels of cortisol in the body.

 

Cause: Hypoglycemia

You haven’t eaten anything for a long time, and you have been surviving on coffee for most of the day to reach a deadline. Panic sets in, along with irritability and maybe you even start feeling lightheaded. Irregular eating habits, combined with coffee, and surviving on office baked goods can set the stage for erratic blood sugar levels and major aggravations of anxiety.

Solution: You may not have a huge appetite if you aren’t feeling great, but try to consume some nutrient dense foods throughout the day, even if it’s just a few bites every hour. Having proteins and healthy fats, and avoiding processed carbohydrates will help keep your mood and energy levels stable.  Good examples include a protein smoothie, hearty soups or stews, homemade trail mix, veggies with hummus and boiled egg with veggies.

 

Cause: Lack of Sleep

Not getting enough quality sleep can be a trigger for any number of mental health conditions. Feelings of anxiety can also keep you wide awake at night, creating a vicious anxiety/insomnia cycle.

Solution: Create a calming bedtime ritual – journaling, meditation, yoga poses and baths, are just a few examples of ways we can turn on our parasympathetic “rest and digest” nervous system. Dim the lights in your house around 9pm to help signal melatonin production and avoid screens for 1 hour before bed to keep melatonin levels elevated

 

Cause: Nutrient Deficiencies

Many vitamins and mineral are important in the formation and function of neurotransmitters and are depleted by medications, stress and poor diet. These include all of the B vitamins, magnesium, zinc, iron and probiotics. The neurotransmitters are made of amino acids, derived from proteins, so adequate protein levels in the body are important for formation of serotonin, dopamine, GABA and all of the other neurotransmitters. Up to 90% of our serotonin is made in the digestive tract, so you can see how diet is so important in mental well-being.

Solution: Testing nutrient levels is important and often times correcting nutrient deficiencies can have a huge effect on mood. Your ND will sit down with you and make sure your nutrition provides all the correct nutrients, and that your digestion is working optimally to absorb nutrients from food.

 

Cause: Hormonal Imbalance

Hormones are the body’s messengers and will communicate to all cells of the body. The thyroid hormone, which is responsible for our metabolism can also have a huge effect on our mood – levels that are too low can contribute to depression and lethargy, while elevated levels of thyroid hormones can increase anxiety.

For women, it is important to have a balance of estrogen to progesterone. Due to medications, environmental toxins and food choices it is common to see a relative excess of estrogen and deficiency of progesterone. Progesterone is our calming hormone, so it makes sense that low levels would lead to more anxiety and irritability.

Solution: Based on your symptoms and lab tests recommended by your ND to assess your hormone levels, you can address these imbalances to achieve optimal mental and physical wellbeing.

 

Cause: Cognitive Distortions

The way we view a situation can greatly increase anxiety. These mental patterns and habits are established early in life, and create ways of thinking that are not always helpful. These patterns can be a result of trauma, or conditioning early in life.

Solution: Learning to identify behavioural and thought patterns through techniques such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can be a way to help change well-established mental schemas. A counsellor or therapist can help establish more positive ways of handling situations and relationships to decrease anxiety.

Eat This, Not That

By Dr. Joanna Rosenfeld ND, RHN

Nobody likes feeling deprived, especially when it comes to food.

Restricting your diet has been shown to actually increase your cravings and the chances of overeating.
Instead of  completely removing all your favourite foods, try swapping them instead for more natural options. You’ll likely end up loving the substitutions!

Use coconut oil or olive oil, not “vegetable” oils 
Vegetable oils like canola oil, safflower oil and soybean oil are polyunsaturated fats and high in omega 6 fatty acids, which promote inflammation. Inflammation is linked to almost all chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease, obesity and dementia.
Instead, opt for anti-inflammatory and heart healthy olive oil on salads and vegetables. Make sure you choose cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil to get the highest quality fats and nutrients out of your oil.
If you are cooking at high heat use coconut oil or grapeseed oil. Coconut oil has many health benefits inclduding boosting your immune system, helping your brain function optimally and assisting with weight management.

Eat butter, not margarine 
At one time it was thought that saturated fat was the cause of all heart conditions, so scientists created spreadable oil that was supposed to be healthier and taste somewhat ok. Turns out that during the manufacturing of margarine, a lot of trans fats (the worst kind of fats) were created. Trans fats promote inflammation, slow your metabolism, raise your bad cholesterol, lower your good cholesterol and increase your risk for heart disease, diabetes, stroke and obesity.
If you are having butter, choose grass fed butter (if you can find it) that has more anti-inflammatory fats than traditional butter.

Eat steel cut oats, not cold cereals and granola 
Cereals and granola contain a lot of sugar. It might be disguised as “coconut sugar” or “organic cane syrup” but rest assured – your body doesn’t know the difference. Consuming excess sugar, especially first thing in the morning, predisposes us to imbalances in blood sugar, weight gain, anxiety and more cravings for sugar later in the day. Long term it also sets the stage for diabetes and systemic inflammation.
Instead, make a big batch of steel cut oats and reheat it in the mornings. Steel cut oats are the least processed form of oats so won’t cause a spike in blood sugar and the fiber will help keep you full. Top it with chia seeds, hemp hearts, ground flax seeds, cinnamon and your favourite nuts to provide delicious flavour, protein and healthy fats – guaranteed to keep you full until lunch.

Eat vegetables, not processed carbohydrates 
Consuming lots of pasta, breads and rice provides few nutrients and unfortunately tend to disrupt our blood sugar levels, and set the stage for weight gain and fatigue. There are many ways to get those carbs from veggies instead!
Replace rice with cauliflower rice – simply chop up cauliflower into small pieces and roast in the oven with olive oil and seasoning of your choice.
Instead of pasta, experiment with using spaghetti squash.
Hamburger buns can be replaced by portabella mushrooms for a delicious burger. Get creative! You’ll be surprised at how easy it might be and fun for the whole family.

Drink green tea, not coffee 
Don’t hate me for this one, but I welcome you to give it a try. We live in a coffee-addicted world, where we don’t think twice before having another cup of coffee. However, depending on your metabolism, even drinking coffee in the morning can disrupt your sleep that night. Coffee also exacerbates anxiety, can cause digestive upset and revs up your stress hormones.
Green tea still contains some caffeine but also loads of antioxidants and an amino acid called L-theanine, which helps promote calming brain waves,  focus and concentration.

Kick Your Sugar Cravings

By Dr. Joanna Rosenfeld ND

Sugar addiction is very real, and with sugar being added to most food products, it is becoming nearly impossible to avoid. The numbers are alarming – on average Canadians consume 110g of sugar per person each day, and children aged 1-3 derive 27% of their calories from sugar! (Statistics Canada).  Sugar and high glycemic foods trigger your brains pleasure centre, which makes you feel good and drive you to seek more of that feeling.

It’s not news that sugar consumption causes obesity and is linked to most chronic health conditions, so what can you do to stop the vicious cycle and break the addiction?

Add in Real Food

Processed foods, simple carbohydrates and sweets will all spike your blood sugar, giving you an immediate boost of energy. But just a short while later, your blood sugar crashes, leaving you feeling tired, lethargic and foggy. In order to get your blood sugar back up, and quickly, our body starts to crave sugar and carbs. So how do we break this cycle?  Focus on eating protein, healthy fats and fiber at every meal and snack. This will stabilize your blood sugar, and keep you feeling full for longer.

  • Protein: fish, eggs, lean meat, quinoa, beans, lentils, nuts and seeds
  • Healthy fats: fish, olive oil, coconut oil, flax, avocado, nuts and seeds
  • Complex carbohydrates: root vegetables, quinoa, brown rice, amaranth, millet

 Cold Turkey

To break the vicious cycle of sugar addiction and retrain your taste buds, eliminate all forms of processed sugar from your diet for 3-4 weeks. Soon fruits and vegetables will begin to taste sweet, and your sugary morning cereal will taste much too sweet. It’s important that you start reading food labels so you can recognize “sugar” in all its various forms. One of the easiest ways to identify sugar on a food label is by seeing the -ose suffix. When you find words that end in -ose, there’s a good chance it is sugar.

Sugars ending in -ose include: Sucrose, Maltose, Dextrose, Fructose, Glucose, Galactose, Lactose, High fructose corn syrup, Glucose solids. There are many others as well, and don’t be fooled by “organic” sugar or cane syrup – they are all processed in the body the same way.

 Get 7-8 hours of Sleep

Lack of sleep increases cravings for sugar, because it will provide an instant energy boost when you are feeling tired. The hours you get before midnight are the most restorative, so try to go to bed early for increased benefits. Adequate sleep also helps to manage the stress response, which is important because our stress hormones can wreak havoc on blood sugar.

 Address your Stress

During stressful times, you are more likely to reach for processed and sweet foods, as these foods trigger our pleasure centres in the brain and provide an often much needed distraction. Chronic stress also causes elevations in cortisol, which increases our blood sugar levels. Stress reducing activities include exercise, yoga, meditation, or even just taking a few deep breaths when you are feeling overwhelmed.

 Sugar busting supplements

There are several safe and natural supplements that will help to curb your sugar cravings. Minerals like chromium and magnesium can have beneficial effects on blood sugar levels and cravings. Supplementing with certain strains of beneficial bacteria can trigger our reward circuitry in the brain, and decrease our reliance on sweets for pleasure. Supplementing with glutamine, an amino acid and the primary fuel source for intestinal cells, can halt sugar cravings dramatically.  Lastly, herbs that help to lower cortisol levels such as relora and rhodiola can also have beneficial effects on sugar cravings. Every person is different and some supplements will interact with medications, so make sure you consult your Naturopathic Doctor before taking any supplements

Healthy Halloween Recipes

Pumpkins are not just for decorating! Pumpkins are high in antioxidants, boosting your vision, skin health and immune system. They are also an excellent source of dietary fiber and help to lower cholesterol levels and aid in weight loss.

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

Try this delicious smoothie to ramp up your antioxidant intake, and enjoy a sweet treat with less sugar and fewer calories!

Blend ingredients in your blender:

  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree (Not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1 cup almond milk, or coconut milk
  • 1/2 banana
  • Honey to taste (about 1tsp)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg

roasted-pumpkin-seeds-copy

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Once you have finished carving your pumpkin, keep your seeds to make a tasty snack! Pumpkin seeds are especially high in zinc, which naturally boosts your immune system, and zinc is also really important for men’s health and testosterone levels.

  1. Clean the pumpkin seeds. To separate the seeds and the pumpkin guts, add it all to a big bowl of water, and separate with your hands.
  2. Boil pumpkin seeds for 10 minutes in salt water. Add seeds to a pot of water with 1tsp salt, allow to boil and then reduce to simmer for 10 minutes. This process will increase the digestibility of the seeds, and make them more crispy. If you are short on time, or patience, this step is definitely optional.
  3. Drain the seeds and pat dry. Spread on a baking sheet.
  4. Add olive oil – amount depends on how many seeds you have, but 1tsp should be plenty. Massage the seeds and coat with oil.
  5. Sprinkle with salt and spread the seeds out as much as possible
  6. Roast seeds at 325F for 10 minutes, remove from oven and stir. Roast for another 8-10 minutes, but they will have to be watched closely to ensure they don’t burn.
  7. During the last 5 minutes in the oven, remove a few seeds to make sure they are not burning. To check: crack them open – you don’t want them to be brown. The inner seed should only have a golden tinge when they are perfectly done.
  8. Let cool and enjoy! You can have them as a snack on their own, or add them to your salads!

Questions about this article? Email Dr. Joanna at [email protected]

More of Dr. Joanna’s healthy recipes available here!

Posted in Diet & Nutrition, Health, Holiday, Naturopathic Medicine, Recipes

Why Should I See A Naturopathic Doctor?

– by Dr Joanna Rosenfeld, ND

I get asked this question a lot, and I have rarely given the same answer twice.

This is both a benefit, and a difficulty, with Naturopathic Medicine. Naturopathic Doctors (NDs) have such a large scope of training in a variety of modalities, that it is hard to give a succinct answer to this question.

FIRST OF ALL, WHAT IS A NATUROPATHIC DOCTOR?
The easiest place to start is to describe what it takes to become an ND. Naturopathic Doctors have completed a Bachelor’s degree, with pre-requisites in basic science courses, and then finished 4 years of Naturopathic College, including 1 year of residency and 2 sets of board exams. Passing these board exams allows us to use our modalities in practice: nutrition, acupuncture, herbal medicine, physical medicine, hydrotherapy and homeopathy. We also learn diagnostic skills, how to interpret lab results, and when to refer out for a more emergent, or serious conditions. In British Columbia, an additional set of exams allows us to prescribe pharmaceuticals.

Naturopathic Doctors have a unique philosophy regarding healthcare. We are focused on treating the root cause of disease when possible, and not only masking the symptoms. Although sometimes it is important to treat the symptoms, such as pain, we do so while at the same time trying to understand the reason the pain exists in the first place. For example, people with painful periods often take painkillers to help manage their cramps. As NDs, we explore why the cramps are there in the first place? What are your hormone levels? How could your diet be contributing to the pain? How could stress or lifestyle be a factor in your cramps? As part of this exploration, we address the whole person – both mental and physical aspects of their health.

Whac a mole

6 (OF MANY) REASONS TO SEE AN ND:

1. You aren’t feeling your best, and nobody can tell you why.

Maybe you are feeling run down, and more tired than usual. You’ve been gaining weight and can’t seem to lose it. Or maybe you keep getting sick and it’s taking you a long time to recover. Or you get bloated seemingly randomly throughout the day or month. These are symptoms that people tend to live with and eventually start thinking that they are normal. Symptomatic treatments may have helped initially, but now you just don’t know where to go. This is where a Naturopath will work with you by taking a thorough history, performing physical exams and ordering lab tests, to help tie your symptoms together and find a root cause.

2. You have a chronic condition and have been told there is no treatment available

As NDs, we often see patients after they have been struggling with a health issue for a long time, and been told there is no treatment or cure available. Common examples include irritable bowel syndrome, allergies, eczema, psoriasis, acne, depression, anxiety, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, and autoimmune diseases. Although there may be no cure available for some of these conditions, NDs can help to manage chronic conditions by balancing the immune system, decreasing inflammation, using specific herbal treatments and prescribing therapeutic diets.

3. You are experiencing side effects from medications

Pharmaceutical medications can be very effective for managing certain conditions, but often come with side effects. Your ND can tell you which nutrients or vitamins are depleted by your medication, and give you safe options for managing side effects. In some cases, your ND can help you replace medication with effective natural alternatives, with fewer side effects.

4. You are in pain

A common reason for chronic medication use is chronic pain. However, chronic use of pain medication is associated with liver and digestive problems. Chronic pain, especially joint pain, can be associated with specific foods you are eating in your diet, being overweight, or generalized inflammation in the body. Naturopathic Doctors can help identify the cause of your pain and help to minimize it through the use of acupuncture, diet, herbs and other treatment options.

5. You would like a more integrative health care plan

Naturopathic Doctors like to work as one part of your health care team, and that is why you will often see NDs working in multi-disciplinary clinics. We aim to communicate our evidence-based approach with your other health care providers and doctors to ensure you are receiving a comprehensive and safe treatment plan. Although generally safe, supplements can still interact with medications and an ND is an expert in prescribing the right supplements in the right form and at the right dose for you.

6. You would like a “health coach” and want to learn more about preventative medicine for you and your family

Naturopathic Doctors are trained in health. Symptoms are your body’s way of communicating that certain systems within your body need some attention, and a Naturopathic Doctor can help get you back to optimal health and symptom-free living. By managing symptoms when they first occur, and optimizing your diet, body weight and lifestyle, you can prevent a variety of health conditions and your ND can show you where to start!

Questions about this article? Contact [email protected]

Posted in Acupuncture, Allergies, asthma, Diet & Nutrition, Fertility, Healing, Health, Naturopathic Medicine

The Perfect Diet?

-by Dr. Joanna Rosenfeld, ND

There are so many diets out there – vegan, vegetarian, macrobiotic, paleo, primal, Mediterranean – the list goes on. But which one is the best? Your best friend swears that the paleo diet changed her life – she lost 50 pounds and her skin cleared up, but when you try it – nothing! Well that’s because diets and food choices need to be individualized! Integrated nutrition is all about learning to be more connected with what you eat, and how your body processes food.

eat right

Following a strict diet that you have read in a book may seem easy at first, but I can guarantee it’s not going to be the perfect diet for you. In order to understand how to eat, you have to first learn to listen to what your body is telling you and feed it nutritious foods. These 7 principles lay the foundation of the “perfect diet”

1. Drink More Water
Drink 2 cups of water first thing in the morning when you wake up. This will help to re-hydrate the body and set you on a good track for drinking water throughout the rest of the day. You can try adding freshly squeezed lemon juice, or sliced ginger to warm water, if you typically need some warming up in the morning.

Signs that you need more water include fatigue, sluggish digestion, headaches and frequent food cravings, or even just feeling thirsty!

2. Make your Own Meals
It is virtually impossible to eat well if you are relying on restaurants or take-out food to eat well. There is a lot of added sugar, salt and fat to make the food taste delicious, and portion sizes are often too large. Some of the most nutritious food is easiest to make, such as vegetables, fish and whole grains. You can even make your favourite “take-out” foods at home – swap the Macdonald hamburger and french fries for a homemade burger and roasted yams

3. Experiment with Whole Grains
Carbohydrates have been demonized, but there is a lot of benefit in eating healthy whole grains as part of a balanced diet. Whole grains provide energy, satiety, and a high source of fiber. This doesn’t include white bread or muffins, but start using quinoa, amaranth, and millet. If you have trouble digesting grains, try soaking them overnight in water – this makes the grains easier to digest and also neutralizes phytic acid , which is a component of grains that can block the absorption of other nutrients. How to cook different grains.

4. Include Naturally Sweet Vegetables
Craving sweets is natural, so try including healthy sweet foods instead of turning to preocessed sugar. Naturally sweet foods also contain beneficial nutrients and fiber to help balance your blood sugar. Certain foods become very sweet when cooked, and eating these foods will reduce your cravings for sweets! Carrots, onions, beets, winter squash and sweet potatoes are all great options.

5. Increase Leafy Greens!
Leafy greens are high in vitamins and minerals, fiber, and many other micronutrients and phytochemicals. They really are the super-hero food, and there are so many delicious ways to consume them. Try sauteing them, making a kale salad, or using a collard green leaf as a “bun” in your sandwich. Greens can also be easily added to your morning smoothie! Start experimenting by rotating your greens: bok choy, napa cabbage, kale, collards, watercress, mustard greens, broccoli rabe and dandelion are all great options. Here are some ideas on how to cook, and store, your leafy greens!

6. Include Protein
Protein, and it’s building blocks amino acids, are important for so many functions in the body. Protein is required for enzymes and hormone synthesis, as well as building muscle mass (thereby increasing our metabolism) and developing strong hair and nails. Protein also helps to stabilize blood sugar, reducing cravings and keeping us feel full for longer. Good sources of protein include fish, organic poultry, grass fed meats, lentils and eggs. Aim for a piece of protein the size of your hand, with the rest of your plate being colourful veggies and high quality fats.

7. Don’t Fear Fats
We are thankfully moving away from low fat diets, but people are still hesitant to include fats and oils in their diets. Fats are essential for increasing our feeling of satiety after a meal, improving our absorption of many fat-soluble nutrients and producing healthy hormones. Modern diets have an over-abundance of pro-inflammatory fats (omega 6) and low levels of anti-inflammatory fats (omega 3). Our cell membrane is composed of fat, so including anti-inflammatory fats in our diet, will help to reduce inflammation systemically. If you are cooking with oils, use ones with a high smoke point such as coconut oil, avocado oil or grapeseed oil. Olive oil and flaxseed oil should only be consumed cold, as they burn at a lower temperature. Other good sources of fat include nuts and seeds, fish (and fish oil), hemp seeds, chia seeds, flax and avocado.

Choose one of these principles to include next week. If you are able to stick with it, then try adding another. Make small, sustainable, changes and soon you will see drastic changes in your diet and your health!

Talk to your Naturopathic Doctor about your specific symptoms to individualize the best nutrition plan for you.

Questions about this article? Contact [email protected]

Posted in Diet & Nutrition, Fertility, Healing, Health, Inspiration, Naturopathic Medicine

Naturopathic Smoothies!

Spinach, Pear & Ginger Smoothie

By Dr. Joanna Rosenfeld, ND

This weather definitely signals the start of Spring, which can serve as a good indication to change up our diet a little bit. According to Chinese Medicine, it is important to “eat with the seasons”. Spring represents a transition from winter foods such as stews and soups, to more summer foods such as salads and raw vegetables.

Smoothie
Photo courtesy of Joanna Slodownik

When the weather warms up, I transition from warm breakfasts to smoothies. Smoothies are a great way to increase your intake of fresh produce, but you have to make sure you are still enjoying a balanced meal. Many smoothie recipes are overloaded with fruits, which sets you up for a major sugar rush first thing in the morning. Instead, try this cleansing Spring smoothie, high in nutrients, protein and fiber.

Recipe Courtesy of Dr. Joanna Rosenfeld, ND

1-2 stalks of full leaf organic spinach (washed)

Handful of parsley

Juice of ½ lemon

1 organic pear

Thumb sized amount of fresh ginger – add less or more depending on your tastes!

½ tsp of sea vegetable, such as E3live (optional)

1tbsp of ground flaxseed

1 scoop of protein powder (optional)

Filtered water – to your desired consistency

Eating with Qi

By Meghan Trompetter, Rhn
Healing Chicken Broth

Ingredients:

4 lbs organic grass fed chicken or beef necks, back, wings (or combination)

4 quarts of pure water, cold

3 celery ribs, coarsely chopped

2 carrots, coarsely chopped

1 onion, coarsely chopped with skin on

1 head of garlic

1 bouquet garni ( 4 sprigs thyme, 4 sprigs flat or curly parsley, 4 sprigs dill, and 1 bay leaf tied with kitchen string)

2 tablespoons vinegar

PREPARATION:

Recipe image 1

1. After you thoroughly clean the chicken pieces, make sure to cut the neck and wings into several parts (cut the joints of the wings to expose the collagen of the bone).

2. Place chicken pieces and vegetables in a stock pot, cover with pure cold water and vinegar. Let stand for 30 minutes.

3. Bring to a gentle boil, skim scum that rises to the surface and reduce to heat to a gentle simmer. Cover and simmer for 6-24 hours.

4. Remove from heat and immerse the bottom of pot in an ice bath until cool.

5. Remove bones and strain broth with a fine mesh colander into wide-mouth mason jars or glass containers. When cool, the stock should gel.

Recipe image 2

recipe from S. Fallon Nourishing Traditions 2001

To Learn more, Visit Meghan here
http://www.meghantrompetterrhn.com

5 Ways Naturopathic Medicine Approaches Weight Loss Differently

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by Joanna Rosenfeld, ND

Do you make a New Years resolution to lose weight every year but never quite accomplish your goal? Resolutions are set with the best of intentions, but somewhere around mid January gym attendance has already dropped off, and many of those foods you have decided to ban forever have started creeping back into your diet.

Naturopathic Doctors approach weight loss differently, which can achieve real and lasting results. Here are a few examples how to make 2015 the year you achieve your resolution.

  1. Stabilize your Blood Sugar

When we eat, our body converts carbohydrates into glucose, our main source of energy. In order to get this glucose out of our bloodstream and into our cells where it can be used for energy, our pancreas releases insulin, which acts as a glucose transporter. Insulin tells our body that we have plenty of glucose for energy, so we can hold onto our fat. Foods high in simple carbohydrates will spike blood sugar quickly, and cause a subsequent insulin surge, leaving our cells full of glucose, but our blood levels of glucose low. Low blood sugar makes us feel cranky, hungry and lethargic. So we eat more carbohydrates to feel better. Welcome to the vicious cycle of blood sugar imbalance and weight gain. Protein, fiber and healthy fats such as fish, nuts and avocados, help to stabilize blood sugar, so include them at every meal and your body will learn to let go of its precious fat stores.

  1.     Stress Management

Cortisol is another hormone involved in weight gain, and is released during times of stress. Stress causes a spike in cortisol which increases our blood pressure and heart rate, while also increasing our blood sugar levels, and therefore insulin levels – telling our body, once again, that it is time to store fat. This is not problematic in the short term when we are preparing to run away from a bear, but our lives are full of  long term chronic stress from our job, family, relationships, kids, finances etc. As a result, cortisol keeps pumping from our adrenal glands, and our body does everything it can to hold onto that valuable fat. Proper stress management involves incorporating such things as regular exercise, meditation, yoga, adequate sleep, acupuncture and proper breathing techniques to name a few.

  1. Balance hormones

In addition to insulin and cortisol, thyroid hormones are largely responsible for metabolism, and the thyroid hormone can be underactive in many people. Symptoms of underactive thyroid include weight gain, dry hair and skin, lethargy and fatigue. Additionally, fluctuations in our sex hormones  (estrogen, progesterone and testosterone) can all contribute to stubborn weight gain.

Naturopathic Doctors ensure your hormones are at an optimal level, which varies from person to person. All of the hormones in your body communicate with one another, so it is critical to ensure they are all working effectively, to enable the best conditions for weight loss.

  1. Identify Food Sensitivities

Typical North American diets as well as our lifestyle and increased use of antibiotics affects the microbial balance in our gut. The abundance of unhealthy gut flora damages the gut lining, which allows partially digested food particles to enter the bloodstream, a condition known as leaky gut. The immune system reacts to these food particles in the bloodstream, leading to systemic inflammation in the body, weight gain and disruption in hormone balancing. The most common food intolerances are wheat, dairy, soy, eggs and corn. Naturopathic Doctors will help identify your food sensitivities and promote healthy digestion.

  1. Learn to Love Moving

Exercise is important for regulating your mood, hormones and metabolism, as well as preventing many diseases. Naturopathic Doctors can help identify and remove barriers limiting physical activity and provide motivation for initiating an exercise program. Remember – any movement is better than nothing – benefits in blood sugar control and weight loss are seen by merely walking 10 minutes, 3 times a day. Incorporating exercise into your daily life may be difficult initially, but becomes easier and more enjoyable every day you stick with it, so start today – we’re here to help you!