The thyroid gland is the part of the endocrine system responsible for producing hormones that regulate metabolism. They also play a role in heart, digestive and reproductive function. Hashimoto's Thyrioditis is the most common cause of hypothyroidism in North America accounting for about 90-95% of the cases. Common symptoms of hypothyroidism are feeling cold, weight gain, brain fog, frequent headaches, hair falling out, depression, IBS and anxiety and it often goes undiagnosed by traditional thyroid testing.
A modified form of the Paleo diet called AIP (Auto-Immune Protocol) has been used with great success to heal auto-immune dysfunction. There is no harm in trying out AIP even for those who suspect an auto-immune condition that is yet to be diagnosed. AIP is a powerful strategy that uses diet and lifestyle to regulate the immune system putting an end to the immune system attacks and giving the body time to heal.
What to Avoid?
All grains and Pseudograins
Nightshades and spices derived from nightshades
Nuts & Seeds
Sugars & Sweeteners
Food Chemicals and Additives
Processed vegetable oils
-Aim for 300 minutes of moderate to high intensity activity per week
-Avoid strenuous/exhaustive activity
-Spend time outside every day
-Keep mealtimes and activity on schedule
-Get between 6-8 hours of sleep each night
-Prioritize family meals
-Sit down at the table and focus on your meal
-Eat 2-3 meals a day at least 4 hours apart without snacking
-Practice mindful leaving and being present
-Leave your work at work
-Have fun hobbies
The word autophagy literally means "self-eating". The process of autophagy is the body's way of recycling dead, worn out material or clearing it out of the system completely. Definition: "consumption of the body's own tissue as a metabolic process occurring in starvation and certain disease". This process is key in preventing diseases such as cancer, neurodegeneration, cardiomyopathy, diabetes, liver disease, autoimmune disease and infection.
Why is Autophagy so important to good health?:
How is Autophagy accomplished?:
These three 'good stressors' on the body can improve autophagy:
"We are all guardians of our genome. The way people live and their lifestyle no longer affects just them, but may have a knockoff affect for their children and grandchildren"- Marcus Pembry, Professor at the Institute of Child Health, London.
I know many people women who change bad habits and decide to eat more nutritiously because they are trying to get pregnant or have become pregnant. They want to give their child the best chance at good health. Science has proven there is something to this!, maybe more than just nourishment for the baby, but nourishing the the DNA and genes of the mother and therefore also of the baby.
Epigentics has proven that everything we eat, think, and breathe can directly or indirectly affect our genes. There are external factors; such as toxins in the environment and nutrient imbalances that can disturb our genetic function, and these need to be addressed. Food is the main way that humans interact with our environment, so what we put into our bodies is of great importance when looking at turning on and off certain genes.
What message are we sending to our body? The human body is immensely intelligent and it is constantly taking notes and course correcting for the various challenges it faces. DNA has the ability to learn. Histones, are the spooled threads of genetic material that make up DNA, and science has proven that they can loosen and make a section of DNA available to be altered by enzymes. 'Epigenetic tags' attach themselves to the double helix or nuclear material and change how the gene is expressed. There are many techniques by which genes change: bookmarking, imprinting, gene silencing, x chromosome inactivation, position effect, reprogramming, transvection, material effects, histone modification, and paramutation. Fortunately, for us if we change our habits and eat nutritious food we can make positive changes to the way genes are expressed.
Click on the links below for more information on the topic of Epigenetics:
Have you ever wondered why some people can eat large portions of food and never gain weight? or why certain foods make you feel awful, while others eat them with ease? We have come to appreciate that we are unique individuals, and we live in an era where uniqueness, and authenticity are celebrated. Finally we have acknowledged that our diets should also be unique and authentic to us. What works for me, may not work for you. We all have different genetics, environments, sleep patterns and stresses and our diets should reflect that.
Robb Wolf states in his book 'Wired to Eat', "research has shed light on the fact that each individual requires a different diet". He sites studies of blood glucose tracked over time, and the findings were that there was a massive variation from person to person in the foods each individual reacted favorably and negatively to.
There are many components of a healthy lifestyle besides food, and 'diet' should not be looked at in isolation. Personal health must be looked at holistically, and individually. We need to understand how to make changes not only to food choices, but also to activity levels, sleep patterns, life stresses, exposure to sunlight, and personal habits in order to reap the full benefits of an individualized nutrition plan.
Honour what makes you feel good!
Each of us has a unique way of eating that makes us feel optimal and this can even change over time. With the number of “fad diets” and categories of different ways of eating (for example; Paleo, Raw, Vegan, Plant Based, Ketogenic) it’s important to really tune into your body and be true to what makes you feel your best.
All you need:
-40 drops of Turmeric extract
-1 tablespoon of grated ginger root
Living in a colder climate, it’s important to keep your body warm during the long winters. I have recently found a tea that warms me from my head to the tips of my toes. Turmeric, ginger tea is my answer to a cold winter day, and my bodies lethargic response to the dark days. I have been adding it to my smoothies, but I quite like the taste of turmeric and thought it was a shame I couldn’t really taste it over the other blended ingredients.
So, I decided to pour boiling water over about 40 drops of the turmeric extract and make a tea. It didn't quite have the kick I was looking for so I grated up some ginger into the tea as well. After steeping for about 2 minutes, I had a delicious spicy winter beverage!
I am all about simplicity and this tea is such a simple treat!
Both herbs also have quite a few health benefits:
Turmeric has been known to help treat indigestion, combat colds and increasing research is being done on its’ effects against cancer. Turmeric is also a great anti-inflammatory herb, and can help heal inflammation throughout the body. Studies on turmeric as an anti-inflammatory show that it works as good if not better than conventional drugs, and has fewer side effects.
Ginger has a lot of important functions. It can be used to help with menstrual pain. It has been used to relieve motion related sickness and nausea. It is known to be an anti- inflammatory, and can help the body heal from inflammation. Ginger has been shown to have antibiotic effects. I personally notice ginger helps my digestive system relax and can help my a spastic colon. Ginger has also been shown to have antibiotic properties and can help against the common cold.
With the great taste and all the health benefits of Ginger Turmeric tea, there is no reason not to make this part of your daily routine.
Throughout my studies of Holistic Nutrition the disease prevention attributes of fasting, cleansing and detoxifying programs is continually acknowledged. So, for my 34th birthday, I decided to give myself a gift; a three-day birthday cleanse. Three days to myself, to focus on my physical, mental and spiritual being.
Why do people cleanse?
Cleansing is the perfect answer for anyone who needs motivation to start down a more nutritionally healthy path. Physically, the process helps clear us congestion, illnesses, and disease potential. Often people feel lighter and more energetic after a cleanse which can inspire them towards continued healthy changes. The process is rejuvenating and preventative. As doctor Elson M. Hass puts it, “taking a break from things is a great way to assess our relationship to them”. During the process of cleaning out, avoiding and eliminating comes the chance to assess old habits and create new healthier habits that can transform you physically and spiritually. On a spiritual level, many people claim to find clarity or a greater sense of purpose.
I would suggest anyone looking to embark on a cleanse first ask yourself, ‘why? ‘Why do you want to do a cleanse? And what are you hoping to achieve? Answering these questions will create a basis for what you are doing and you are much more likely to follow through. Three day detoxes are a great start, but it’s the evaluation of your habits and making long term changes that you will really benefit from.
How to do a cleanse?
A cleansing program comes down to habits, and the longer you can stick to a cleanse the better chance you have of altering your negative habits. You might think doing a cleanse means going to the store and spending thirty dollars on a ‘Detox kit’, taking a couple pills and avoiding certain foods for a certain amount of time, but the real goal of cleansing is to clear out old toxins and start fresh with new habits and healthy changes. You are cleaning out the old to make room for the new, not to simply replenish your body with newer versions of the junk you just detoxed a couple days later. Cleansing and Detoxifying programs have become a billion-dollar industry and the kits you can buy in the store claim to help you cleanse within couple of days by taking a few pills that will rid your body of toxins. There is some merit to these kits and they are probably more helpful than not doing anything at all, but as with everything there is not a one size fits all approach. We are all incredibly different individuals with different backgrounds, stresses and genetics and we need to tailor our cleanse to our lifestyle. The key to a good cleanse is to individualize your program to your personal needs.
Below, I briefly outline what I did and encourage everyone to create their own plan.
Simple Authentic Wellness 3 Day Birthday Cleanse:
Vitamins & Supplements:
This part of the process will be very different for everyone. My goal with this was to eliminate the external distractions and allow myself to focus on a few things that bring me great joy.
1. Unplug: Turn off your cell phone and refrain from using social media. If there is anyone who might worry if you don’t respond right away, make sure to notify them of what you are doing.
2. Read & Write: With work and school, I find it hard to find time to read something just out of pleasure, so I decided I was going to focus my three days on reading a book that during a normal busy day I would not have had time for. Also, writing is something I enjoy. It doesn’t really matter what I am writing about, essentially it is a calming and relaxing practice for me.
With our busy twenty first century lives, it’s important to take a break from everything around us and reconnect with ourselves. The daily bombardment of toxins we experience due to air, water and electromagnetic pollution, not to mention the plethora of toxins we take in from our food, and personal hygiene products requires that we cleanse and detoxify to maintain health. There are more elements to a cleansing program than simply avoiding food and eliminating bodily toxins. There are emotional, psychological and spiritual aspects that you can incorporate into the days you have designated as ‘cleansing’ days.
What is Raynaud’s Disease? (Pronounced: Raz-nohz)
What are the symptoms?
Fingers and toes go white and numb in response to cold temperatures and stress. The main noticeable effects are a discoloration of the fingers or toes, often just effecting the end of the appendage. As they are warmed, the numbness disappears and you are left with a prickly or stinging type of paid (depending on how long the occurrence).
What is happening in your body?
The small arteries narrow and constrict the blood flow to the affected area (vasospasm). I couldn’t find a reason why some people are affected with this, but it is basically cause by the body’s overreaction to cold and stress. It is not linked to other diseases or a precursor to anything else, as far as I found through my research.
I still remember the first time I experienced this phenomenon two years prior. I was bringing groceries in the house on a particularly cold day and as I set them down I noticed the tips of my fingers had turned white and I could no longer feel them. The sensation is strange; the top half of two of my fingers became lifeless and instead of being able to perform nimble precise movements, it was having two corpses attached to the end of my fingers. Essentially, the areas effected turn a deathly white colour, become lifeless and you lose your dexterity. I immediately called my dad, but he had no idea what I was talking about. He could tell I was upset and calmed me down like dads’ do best; with logic and distraction. As we talked the colour and feeling started to come back with an awful stinging pain.
Raynaud’s disease is more of an annoyance than anything else, especially when living in a cold climate like Canada. It has prevented me from being able to rock climb outdoors on crisp September mornings. It also was a huge factor in me having to abandon my attempt to summit Island Peak, in Nepal. Some of the people in our group’s hands were sweating in their gloves, yet my hands froze and I had to turn around a couple hours from the summit. Better gloves can help, but they are not always a solution, and I find that even just brief exposure from taking off a glove can cause the effect to quickly set in and putting the glove back on will not make it go away.
Combat Raynaud’s by:
'Kavala' and 'Gundusha' is an ancient Ayruvedic dental technique that involves swishing a tablespoon of oil in your mouth on an empty stomach for around 20 minutes. The action of swishing supposedly draws out toxins in your body primarily to improve oral health, but also to improve your overall health.
Some of the benefits of oil pulling are:
Firstly, make sure you only use one tablespoon! I made the mistake of not measuring and I think I was swishing about 2 tablespoons which was hard on my jaw. I decided to oil pull while in the shower, so I was getting two things done at once. In my opinion it was greasy feeling and quite unpleasant swishing around the thick coconut oil. The oil started to feel thinner as time went by. I managed to get through 30 minutes of swishing and I'd had enough. I accidentally spit the filmy coconut oil down the bathroom sink and rinsed my mouth out with hot water. Just a reminder, do not do spit the oil down the sink! I felt no different after the experience, and can't say my mouth felt any cleaner. I will give it another try, but I have a feeling I will give this particular wellness practice a miss.
Time is precious and we all lead extremely busy lives, you can only do so many health practices on a regular basis. You may want to incorporate this practice once in awhile, but I personally will not be making it part of my regular routine.
Try it out and post your experience below in the comments section.
Yesterday was officially the first day of winter. I couldn’t believe it when my coworker mentioned it to me. Was she kidding?, “what were those last two weeks of -20 degree weather then?!” After a quick Google search, it turns out she was correct, yesterday was December 21st; the first day of winter. I had been so proud of myself during Calgary’s recent cold snap. I had signed up for hot yoga and thought I was making my way through winter in stellar fashion, yet winter hadn’t even begun. Momentarily, I was struck with the blues, as I pondered the dark days ahead (literally). But, it doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. It may take a little bit more deliberate thought and action on our part, but we Canadians must make the most of winters!
A few easy ways us average non-skiing folks can stay positive and healthy this winter:
For a lot of us, exercise is a part of our regular wellness routine no matter what the season. During the winter it is cold and dark outside, so we may need to be a bit more creative and persuasive to get motivated.
For those of you that enjoy the gym setting, just try and stick to your routine, don’t let the darkness fool you into thinking it is time for bed. If you are like me and gyms aren’t for you, then those cold days can be particularly difficult. Hot yoga is a great winter activity. I like yoga, but am by no means a yogi and usually only get a membership in the winter, because that hot room is so appealing during those cold winter days. Challenging yourself can also be motivating, so get an unlimited month pass and try doing a 30 day yoga challenge. Thirty days of yoga goes by quick, you will knock an entire month of winter off, and feel rejuvenated and detoxified after.
For us runners, it’s just a matter of getting the right shoes, a head lamp and bundling up. Sometimes people make excuses about not being able to run in the winter because it’s cold and dark, but don’t let that stop you! Bundle up and generate tons of body heat by doing intervals (when it’s not too slippery of course), and a head lamp can light your way so you aren’t twisting an ankle. Headlamps are light weight and cheap, so no excuses!
There are also lots of winter specific sports, like the obvious skiing and snowboarding. But, also snowshoeing, cross country skiing, skating, tobogganing, and for the really adventurous ice climbing.
Be creative; and don’t let the winter pass you by.
2.Vitamin D & 'happy foods':
The best way to absorb vitamin D is to get out in the sunshine. This can be difficult for those that work the typical 9-5, and spend most of their personal time during the week in the dark. So, try your best to get out on the weekends, or walk at lunch on a sunny warm day. Research has shown that vitamin D may play a role in regulating our mood, so not only is it hard to get during the winter, but it is vital at this time of year when things can seem gloomier than they are. Food sources include: salmon, eggs, sardines, tuna, mackerel, and mushrooms. Another option would be a vitamin D supplement, but I really encourage you to try and get it from natural sources.
Daily recommendations for vitamin D are:
Some research has shown that light therapy can help with a condition known as SAD; Seasonal Affective Disorder. Light therapy boxes, or light visors can give off a light that mimics outdoor light. I have used a visor like this in the past, my advice is; be to be careful where you are walking and don’t wear it out of the house. It shines the light just down towards your eyes from the brim of the visor which makes it harder to tell where you are going, and they look completely dorky. However, I do think it helped. It only takes about 20 to 30 minutes a day of exposure to this type of light to help with mood, and some studies have shown it can even increase energy levels.
I still think getting outside in the fresh air is the best cure for most ailments, but for those cloudy, cold days supplementing the real deal with these light treatments could be quite beneficial.
4.Oxytocin: Cuddle up to stay warm
And, finally my favourite tip to shake off those winter blues. Cuddle up on the coach with your favourite person, or snuggle with your puppy. Oxytocin, is often call the ‘love’ hormone and is released when you hug someone. Research has shown that hugging someone, shaking their hand or even just thinking fondly about someone can release oxytocin. This hormone has been shown to reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and lift your mood!
Winter is the perfect excuse to get the fireplace going and get cozy with someone you love!
When it’s cold and dark outside, creat warmth and light from within!
For more information on S.A.D, and ways to combat the winter blues check out this article:
How to Fight the Winter Blues Effectively
Craniosacral therapy is an alternative therapy using gentle touch to manipulate the immovable joints of the cranium. A practitioner of craniosacral therapy may also apply light touches to a patient’s spines and pelvis. The therapy does not involve any spinal adjustments, but focuses on light touches to rebalance the body.
The underlying theory behind craniosacral therapy is the belief that everyone is born with a ‘vital force’ energy (commonly referred to as ‘chi’ in Chinese medicine). This is the energy is carried throughout your body through the nervous system and is vital for optimal health and body function.
The main job of craniosacral therapy is to correct imbalances that may be hindering the flow of this energy throughout the body.
What is a session craniosacral therapy session like?
Generally, you begin by talking with your therapist about your health concerns and discuss a brief health history. During the session you will be fully clothed and lying on a massage table. It is important that you are able to relax, so it is important to take time to just let yourself get comfortable. The therapist usually starts at the feet with light touch. Session work involves very light touch and is very gentle. Depending on your concerns the therapist may focus on a localised area. During the session the therapist will gently hold parts of your body, listening to the subtle rhythms and tracking changes. It often takes a few sessions to see noticeable results.
How might I feel after the session?
Where can you get this type of therapy done?
Many massage therapy clinics now have at least one masseuse that is also trained in craniosacral therapy, also referred to as CST.
I have used craniosacral therapy along with visceral manipulation therapy to help relieve my IBS symptoms and have seen amazing results. It is hard to say which therapy helped the most because I did both therapies simultaneously, but I know that it greatly improved how I felt physically and surprisingly it completely transformed my mood. I believe that this therapy is what made the difference in my recovery from a severe prolong battle with IBS.
If you live in Calgary, Alberta and are considering this type of therapy I would recommend you see Kimberley Conrad, at her practice Essential Balance Healing.
*Kimberley may no longer be taking on new patients because of her amazing healing abilities, but she is a fantastic therapist and lovely person.
Healing the Thyroid
Forever Young (Autophagy)
What is Epigenetics?
Why is Personalized Nutrition so important?
3 Day Birthday Cleanse
Ginger Turmeric Tea
What is Raynaud's Disease?
What is oil pulling?
Beat the Winter Blues
What is Craniosacral therapy?
Photo by Nick Haycock