Sunday, March 29, 2009

Healthy and Active Program

Went to an interesting seminar today!

I especially love going to seminars when Anna goes too! It's like the good ol' days when we were still at school, going to seminars as poor students, excited about the free food, and of course catching up.

We were both interested in going to this particular seminar because we both see a lot of patients that come in for weight loss. So it's always great to get the latest research and see what others are doing for success with their patients. Another interesting point made was that it's not necessarily ONLY for people that need/want to lose weight. It is used to improve metabolism overall - so someone with severe PMS or depression, or night sweats or anyone could benefit from eating from such an individualized plan.

One topic I spend time explaining to most of my patients, but especially weight loss patients is the importance of balancing cortisol and insulin. These two hormones are key - you want to keep insulin from spiking throughout the day. That's why I've always said eat 3 meals and an afternoon snack.

Today was interesting because their goal is for the patient to eat ONLY 3 meals a day, no snacks, based on 40 blood markers. So each nutritional plan is unique and individual according to these markers.... things like cholesterol, liver enzymes, iron, sodium, potassium etc.

I'll have to test it out on myself (after vacation!!!) and my parents and friends and see what happens!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

What is Bee Propolis?

If you have ever read a health magazine or wandered through a health food store you probably have come across bee propolis. It is usually touted as a detoxifier and a supplement great for energy. But what is it?

Worker bees actually collect resins that 'leak' from leaf buds and bark of certain trees. These worker bees then mix the resins with wax, honey, and enzymes and propolis is made.

The bees then use this great compound to repair their honeycombs, seal cracks, etc.

Propolis is one of the most concentrated botanical liver detoxifiers known.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Lettuce Eatery

Has anyone been here? I've walked by several of them around Toronto but never eaten at one, until last night.

One of my patients this week told me she eats at Lettuce Eatery downtown every day for lunch. She creates her own salad (the same one!) each time - this intrigued me so last night since Chris was going to be late I decided to stop at Sherway Gardens on my way home and give it a try.

Delicious and great concept. You can pick from 5 or so salads on their menu that they have put together or you can create your own. You pick the 'leaf' - spinach, romaine, or mixed, and then pick your toppings and your dressing.

The serving you get is pretty big and the dressing is already mixed into the salad which is wonderful. My salad was $7.06. I had a mixed green salad with sunflower seeds, carrots, broccoli, red peppers, avocado, grilled tofu, chickpeas, with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Definitely will go back.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Garden of Vegetables

Last week First Lady, Michelle Obama, dug up a section of the South Lawn of the White House to plant an organic vegetable garden.

I thought it was fantastic to have some local children come to the White House and help dig up a garden. Word on the street is that they are even going to plant kale!!!

I wish every child had a chance to see where real food comes from. I was fortunate by growing up on a farm, my parents had a HUGE garden filled with rows of potatoes, peppers, tomatoes, carrots, kale, cabbage, and everything in between. I remember countless springs planting everything and countless summers hoeing and weeding, and countless autumns running to the garden to get something for dinner.

When I talk about healthy food I don't mean organic. A lot of people assume healthy = organic or that organic means local. Organic just means that the food, wherever it came from, has met the 'standards' to be able to be labelled that way i.e. least amount of pesticide possible as an example. When I talk about healthy I mean fresh or whole, not packaged. As I've said before you shouldn't really need to shop in the aisles of the grocery store, shop around the perimeter and you ensure that you are eating healthy.

So congrats to Mrs. Obama for leading by example. If more children understood where food comes from and what 'healthy' really means there would less obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Cod for Dinner

Last night we had cod for dinner. We've actually never bought cod ... it looked really fresh on Sunday so we thought we'd give it a try.

Found a great recipe that was easy and quick to make. I didn't have all the ingredients so I improvised and it turned out to be detox- friendly too!

I put the cod fillet on a piece of parchment paper and preheated the oven to 400 degrees. I shaved (used a mandolin slicer!) some white onion and shaved half a bulb of fennel on top, sprinkled some sea salt and pepper and some parsley, poured a few teaspoons of olive oil on top and folded the parchment paper to make a little package with the cod inside and put it in the oven for 20 minutes.

Took it out, sprinkled some fresh lemon juice on top and served it with some salad.

It was a very mild fish and the fennel and onion really gave a 'boring' fish some flavour.

Apparently the Portuguese love cod - salted cod - so I guess we'll have some of that in our near future as we leave in a couple of weeks for Portugal!!!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Okra, Green Bean Dinner

Well what's for dinner tonight?

This delicious vegetable dish that we're putting on top of quinoa.

Heat a little olive oil with a pinch of red chili flakes and 2 crushed garlic cloves. After 5 minutes add a box of cherry tomatoes and let them sear and then simmer for 15 minutes. In the meantime wash and cut a couple of cups of green beans into 1 inch pieces and cut the tops off the okra and cut in half.

Add the okra and green beans, some sea salt and cracked black pepper and cover and let cook for 30 minutes. Once everything is cooked and all the flavours have melded together put on top of quinoa and enjoy!

There was one time where I had a bit of roasted red peppers that were left over and threw them in there as well - it was delicious as well.

Enjoy the rest of the beautiful sunshine!

How Can I Be Mad?

Chris just emptied out his work bag - he was taking out some paper, some pens and out rolled out 10 or 15 little homeopathic pellets all over the living room hardwood.

We looked at each other and I must have had an annoyed look on my face because he said, "How can you be upset... it's homeopathy! You should be pleased I'm using it!!!" He proceeded to rant about how difficult the dispensers are to get the silly pellets out of the bottle.

True enough....

Friday, March 13, 2009

Short Arms, Short Memory?

Ok this study is random.

I'm always trying to keep up-to-date with new studies that are being published. I have a few journals that are sent to me as well as a few email newsletters that give a quick synopsis on the study.

In Neurology, a recent American study of 2800 older subjects, concluded that the risk of dementia was significantly higher among women with short arms and legs. In men, only arm length correlated with dementia risk.

A possible explanation suggested by the researchers is that poor nutrition and lack of medical care in childhood might not only produce shorter limbs but also increase the risk of dementia in later life.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Headaches and Weather

For the first time a large scale study has been published in the Journal of Neurology confirms that my husband and MANY patients are not joking when they have a headache with weather changes!

There has never really been alot of concrete evidence to back up claims until now. The study found that for every 5 degree increase in temperature there is an 8% increase in risk of headache.

In the Globe and Mail today the study was explained:

"The study found that of all the environmental factors tested, higher air temperature in the 24 hours before a hospital visit was most closely associated with headache symptoms.

Lower barometric pressure also appeared to be a trigger, though the association was not as strong. There was no evidence that air pollutants played a role in sparking headaches, but bigger studies are needed to exclude this as a problem, the researchers added."

Acupuncture is one of the best treatments for chronic headaches or migraines alleviating alot of pain and even preventing a headache from happening. More and more patients are coming every week for acupuncture, preventatively, knowing that their headaches cause them pain and days off work.

Friday, March 6, 2009

A True Rice Pilaf

A lot of the times when I cook lately I'm just throwing things together to see what combinations will work.

However today I actually followed a recipe that was a true rice pilaf with the addition of swiss chard.

What makes a pilaf? Cooking the rice in butter or oil (I used olive oil) and often onions or other vegetables, before adding other ingredients like stock.

I started by heating some olive oil (about 3 Tbsp) in a medium-sized pot and then added 1 cup of chopped onion and 2 cups of chopped swiss chard. I cooked the onions for 5 minutes before adding 1 1/2 cups of basmati rice and 2 minced garlic cloves. I stirred everything coating the rice with the olive oil and onion mixture then added some sea salt and pepper and turned the heat to low and added 2 1/2 cups of vegetable stock. I let everything cook with the lid on for 15 minutes or until most of the liquid was absorbed, then turned the heat off and let the pot rest for another 30 minutes.

It was delicious.... so flavourful!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Lecture to Medical Students

Well yesterday was an eye-opening experience for me. I went to the University of Toronto, downtown campus to speak to some of the first year and second year medical students about what naturopathic medicine is, and how I treat patients clinically. It gave me a better sense of how medical doctors are 'bred' and their fears and concerns with naturopathic doctors.

I had a powerpoint presentation about the basics of naturopathic medicine like the principles (doctor as teacher, do no harm, treat the whole person, find the root cause, the healing power of nature, etc) and the therapies (acupuncture, nutrition, homeopathy, herbs, lifestyle counselling, physical medicine). I spoke about the education that I received at CCNM: 3 years of courses that include basic medical sciences like anatomy and physiology, and clinical courses like physical diagnosis, obstetrics, pediatrics, and of course the naturopathic courses like nutrition, acupuncture, etc. I also spoke of how I would treat typical conditions I would see in my practice like chronic ear infections in children, dysmenorrhea, constipation, and of course the elusive 'fatigue'.

After the presentation I answered some of their questions and spoke to a few afterwards. Many were surprised that people would pay for health care and one great question was if I thought there was a deficit in the present conventional medical system that drove patients to come see me and potentially pay for bloodwork. I can only speak from my 6 years of experience in seeing patients and listening to their complaints of their 'conventional healthcare experiences'. Most patients are frustrated in trying to find a medical doctor, then finding a medical doctor that listens to them, then being frustrated in having 5 minutes to discuss 1 health concern and feeling rushed, frustrated with waiting over an hour for a scheduled appointment....... the list goes on.... When patients come to see me they have time to talk about all of their health concerns and they also receive great education in what potentially is going on with their health. When people come to see me for high cholesterol and we do bloodwork, or they bring in a copy of bloodwork from their MD, I sit down and actually explain their results and explain potential problems and their risk factors for heart disease.

Granted these students have not seen any patients and haven't been exposed to the healthcare system in action, they certainly had preconceived thoughts regarding naturopathic medicine and how NDs treat. I think the key is that they really don't understand the education we receive and how we are trained to know when to refer. I know what I can and can't do as an ND. If I received bloodwork and thought cancer was likely I would write a letter to their MD regarding my findings and refer the patient back to their primary care physician.

Do I think my education is adequate? Most definitely. I would like to see the program become a 5 year program with more of a compulsory residency program but I have every confidence that I can be a primary care giver and know when to refer. I gave the example yesterday of how I broke my wrist 2 years ago. A ND doesn't know how to cast.... I went to the ER, got xrays, my wrist was set properly and casted and then did follow-ups with the orthopedic surgeon. But did I use any pain medications? None. I used different homeopathic remedies along my recovery as well as traditional Chinese herbs.

I think it's fascinating to be able to step into another person's world and see where they are coming from .... I also think if both 'worlds' had a better understanding of the potential of working together a huge burden would be lifted off the present healthcare system and patients would be happier and healthier overall.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


Totally not health related.... Last night's 24 episode was great. There is something about Jack Bauer that makes him such a great character!!!!

Ok I'll make this at least a little health related ....

Last night is what happens alot of the time at our house. I finished work at 6:30, got home at 7, cut up some brussel sprouts (put olive oil, Herbamare and pepper and some dijon mustard on them) and sweet potatoes (olive oil, Herbamare, pepper, rosemary, and oregano), placed them on 2 baking sheets in an oven at 450, and then went to pick up Chris at the subway. We got home at 7:40 took out the 2 sheets of veggies and put a rainbow trout fillet (olive oil, dill, and pepper) on HI broil for 5 minutes. We ate, caught up on each others day and were ready for Jack Bauer.

So yes you can get home even at 7 pm and still have a healthy homemade dinner with time to spare so you can watch your favourite 8 pm show whether it's 24 or Campbell Brown's No Bias, No Bull on CNN.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Home Energy Audit

Yesterday Chris and I got a home energy audit. What a great thing to do!

It cost $325 and there is a rebate of around $100 from the Ontario government. We got the company Enwise to come in and complete the 2 hour energy audit.

There was some picture taking, some measuring of house dimensions, etc... The most fascinating was when the guy, opened our front door and created a new door frame and placed a fan in the middle of it to create a negative pressure. After a certain pressure was reached we walked through the house to see where all of our 'drafts' were.

A couple of spots we knew were bad but then there were some areas, like the electrical outlets throughout the house that were blowing lots of cold air in. Another surprise was some of our windows (all new) had a few cracks in the frames (from a dry environment) that were blowing cold air!

Well worth it and hopefully after sealing a few things we can save a bit of money on our energy bills!