- Dr. Lesley
|Dr. Lesley D'Souza, Naturopathic Doctor Oakville Burlington Mississauga
Welcome to fall! Here are some great fall superfoods to include in your daily diet. Enjoy!
- Dr. Lesley
The time while you are preparing for conception is one of the most important times to create a healthy body in preparation for pregnancy. It is also the best time to do a fertility cleanse. Fertility cleansing is a way to support the body in preparation for conception by cleansing the uterus and liver. A fertility cleanse encourages the liver to cleanse the body of toxins and excess hormones. It also supports the uterus to cleanse itself of old stagnant blood and increases circulation to the uterus while tonifying the uterine tissues.
Why Fertility Cleanse? The time while you are preparing for conception is one of the most important times to create a healthy body in preparation for pregnancy.
Over the years the body can accumulate toxins in the body from chemicals in the air, earth, water and from substances we put into our bodies. Many of these toxins get stored in the fat tissues of the body and can be released quicker through cleansing. Some of these toxins may be left from:
· Birth control
· Cigarette Smoke
· Excess hormones
· Poor diet
· Alcohol, etc
Ideally we would like our bodies to be as healthy as possible during pregnancy, through cleansing we are able to support the body in its natural ability to rid itself of these substances.
While cleansing is beneficial, not just any cleanse is going to be beneficial for fertility. A fertility cleanse is specific to the reproductive system and assists the body in eliminating the additional burden of substances not good for fertility.
A fertility cleanse focuses on three major areas that can help the body to prepare for conception.
The liver helps to filter toxins from the body including excess hormones. If there is an over abundance of estrogen it is the livers job to remove it from the system. Sometimes, due to poor diet, lifestyle or general health, the liver may need some stimulation and support to get rid of these substances.
Uterine health is very important for reproductive health. Every cycle the uterus is supposed to release the lining that was built that month for the embryo to implant. In some cases the uterus is not completely cleansed every cycle, so old stagnant blood remains. As you can imagine, this is not the best environment to house a new embryo.
Through using specific cleansing and uterine herbs you can help support your uterine health, increase circulation and help tonify the uterine muscles, all helping to promote a healthy uterine environment.
Increasing circulation to the uterus
In order for the uterus to function at its best, it requires proper circulation. With proper circulation the communication loop between the uterus and ovaries with the endocrine system is able to function smoothly. This is necessary for proper hormonal balance and all of the functions dependent on it such as ovulation, menstruation, and hormone production.
For more information about fertility cleansing contact Dr. Lesley!
Becoming pregnant can be one of the most wonderful and exciting times in a woman’s life. However, there are a number of problems that can arise during the different trimesters that can make the journey quite challenging.
Because so few medications can be taken safely during these nine months, many women are looking to find natural ways to address their pregnancy symptoms.
Nausea and vomiting
This can affect up to 90 percent of pregnant women in their first trimester.
Causes: Researchers believe that nausea and vomiting is a result of the many physical changes that occur in early pregnancy, including higher levels of hormones.
Also known as vaginal candidiasis, yeast infections tend to be more prevalent in pregnant women. It is not uncommon to have a certain amount of yeast or candida in the vaginal canal; however, it can become a problem when it grows so fast that it overwhelms other competing beneficial micro-organisms.
Causes: It is believed that the high estrogen levels and high glycogen content in vaginal secretions during pregnancy provide an excellent environment for the yeast to grow rapidly.
Stay tuned for common health concerns during the second trimester of pregnancy!
Making a baby seems quite simple. Sperm meets egg, cells divide creating a mini human, wait nine months and voila…baby is born! For many couples, this is a natural process that takes place without any roadblocks. However, sometimes it doesn’t work out that easily and I’ve seen firsthand how frustrating that can be.
About one in five couples in Canada are affected by fertility challenges. There are a number of factors that can contribute to difficulties in conceiving. Some conditions that can affect fertility include physical blockages in the ovaries, fallopian tubes, or uterus, uterine fibroids or polyps, thyroid conditions, endometriosis, problems with sperm count, motility, or morphology, a menstrual cycle that is out of balance (may be indicated by irregular timing, spotting between periods, PMS symptoms, amenorrhea, difficulties with ovulation, polycystic ovaries, painful periods, heavy periods), stress, and dietary habits. Wow, those seem like a lot of road blocks, but now let’s talk about different ways to enhance fertility naturally.
As Naturopathic Doctors we use various modalities including Chinese medicine and acupuncture, nutrition, botanical medicine and homeopathy in order to rebalance the hormonal system, treat the conditions that give rise to suboptimal fertility and to maximize a couple’s ability to conceive.
Improve health of both partners prior to conception
Many people think of infertility as a woman’s problem, but it takes two to tango. In fact, studies indicate that the cause of infertility is equally divided between the female and the male, so both partners need to be evaluated and treated.
Chart and understand your cycle
Using natural family planning, you can learn your body’s fertility signs, identify underlying problems, and time intercourse for optimum results.
Balance your hormones
The endocrine system is very complex, and it is important to have proper functioning of thyroid, adrenal and reproductive hormones.
Optimize your digestion
This may not be the first thing you think of for fertility, but digestion plays a central role in your overall health status. Your body’s ability to absorb nutrients, balance blood sugars and eliminate wastes determines the state of your internal environment.
Enhance your nutritional status
Ensuring proper intake of nutrients helps to produce healthy eggs and sperm, as well as provide the nourishment for the developing fetus. Choosing organic, nutrient dense, whole foods will provide your body with a good foundation, and supplements can be used as recommended by your Naturopathic Doctor.
Cleanse and detoxify your body
This should only be done prior to conception and can help prepare both the man and the woman. Most of us carry around accumulated toxins which can interfere with fertility and overall health. Detoxification decreases this burden and makes for a healthier environment for your baby since after all; your body will be its home for 9 months!
Manage your stress
Infertility can be one of the most stressful experiences in a couple’s life. Expressing your feelings, taking control and seeking support from qualified professionals can be life savers for you and for your marriage. There are quite a few infertility support groups that run weekly meetings.
Increase success rates of conventional infertility treatments
The Naturopathic approach is commonly combined with assisted reproductive technology (ART) procedures, including intrauterine insemination (IUI), in vitro fertilization (IVF), and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), to enhance success rates. Numerous studies have showed that the use of acupuncture as an adjunctive therapy to ART significantly improves reproductive outcomes
Whether you are planning on trying to conceive in the near future, preserving your fertility as you hear your biological clock ticking, or are actively treating your infertility, there are many treatment options available to help you along your journey.
If you have any questions about Naturopathic Medicine & Fertility, please contact Dr. Lesley.
Dysmenorrhea, or “painful periods,” is one of the most common problems that women face, affecting more than 50 percent of those who menstruate.
The most common treatment for menstrual pain is the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and aspirin. Although these drugs can be effective for many women at reducing pain, they come with a number of side effects. This is why more and more women are looking for safe and effective natural treatments to help relieve painful periods.
Diet and nutrition
A healthy diet is essential in the treatment of dysmenorrhea. Many women experience relief from menstrual cramps just by switching to healthier nutritional habits. Firstly, it is important to decrease the intake of foods that may be contributing to the actual condition.
Reduce omega-6 fatty acids
In the case of dysmenorrhea, eliminating foods high in arachidonic acid is often the key to dealing with the pain. Arachidonic acid is derived from omega-6 fatty acids and is used to synthesize pro-inflammatory prostaglandins (specifically PGE2), which increase inflammation within the body.
Menstrual pain is believed to be associated with an elevated level of PGE2 prostaglandins, especially within the uterine wall. Animal products such as dairy, pork, beef, chicken, turkey, and lamb are all high in arachidonic acid, so try to limit intake of these foods, especially around the time of menstruation.
Increase omega-3 fatty acids
Another way to decrease PGE2 prostaglandins is by increasing intake of foods high in omega-3 such as salmon, sardines, tuna, flaxseeds, and pumpkin seeds. Omega-3 fatty acids are used to synthesize “good” prostaglandins (PGE1 and PGE3), which are anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic.
A fish oil supplement high in omega-3 would be a good addition along with dietary changes to decrease menstrual pain. Studies have found that supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids can be effective in alleviating symptoms of dysmenorrhea such as abdominal pain and low back pain.
An important mineral, magnesium has also been shown to be effective in reducing menstrual pain. This is most likely due to its ability to act as a muscle relaxant, thereby relieving the spasms of the uterine muscles which can lead to menstrual cramps.
Stay tuned next week when I will discuss how different naturopathic modaltties can help with painful periods!
- Dr. Lesley
So last month we talked about the benefits of detox and how simple it can be to start. Cleaning up the diet is essential to any detox program as well as incorporating certain foods to aid in the detoxification process. Here are some of the top foods to help you detox:
Green leafy vegetables: Kale, spinach, watercress, arugula, chard are all full of chlorophyll which not only aids the liver in detoxification but also helps the body eliminate harmful toxins that we are exposed to on a daily basis. Whether they are eaten raw, thrown into a broth or added to juices, leafy greens are important for detox.
Citrus: Lemon, limes, oranges are extremely high in vitamin C, which helps flush heavy metals such as lead, mercury, cadmium, and aluminum out of the body. They also help to stimulate digestive processes. To increase detoxification, start each morning with a warm glass of lemon water.
Beets: Beets are extremely effective for liver detoxification. They help digestion and stimulate both the kidneys and lymphatic system.
Fresh fruit: Full of vitamin C, fibre, nutritious fluids, and an endless supply of antioxidants, fruits are an important part of any detox program. Apples are great for detoxifying the bloodstream and supporting the lymphatic system. Pectin, a type of plant fibre found in apples, is especially helpful in maintaining healthy digestion. It helps prevent the absorption of toxic heavy metals, such as aluminum, mercury, and cadmium, in the intestinal tract and ensures they are quickly eliminated from the body.
Garlic: This pungent bulb stimulates the liver in producing detoxification enzymes that help filter out toxins in the digestive system. Also, allicin, a compound found in garlic, is extremely effective in killing a variety of bacteria, viruses, yeasts, and parasites.
Green tea: Green tea is high in catechins - a flavonoid — which speeds up liver activity and increases the production of detoxification enzymes. Green tea is also packed full of antioxidants which help to wash toxins out of the body.
Broccoli sprouts: Extremely high in antioxidants, broccoli sprouts can help stimulate the detoxification enzymes in the body. The key component responsible for these actions is called sulforaphane and spouts can contain up to 100 times more sulforaphane than mature broccoli. These small but nutritionally powerful veggies can be found at your local health food supermarket.
Parsley: Parsley has a wonderful detoxifying effect on the bloodstream. It is beneficial for the health of the colon, lungs, liver, kidneys, and spleen. It also provides the body with many vitamins and nutrients, such as vitamins A and C, as well as chlorophyll.
Along with consuming some of these foods, make sure you are hydrating your body with plenty of water which a very important part of detox!
With the change in weather and beautiful fall colours comes a time that we have grown to dread…cold and flu season! Here are some tips to help support your immune system.
Improve Stress Levels:
Stress (of any kind) causes an elevation in cortisol levels. If exposure to cortisol is prolonged, there is an inhibition of our immune cells from eliminating pathogens. Stress reduction techniques such as deep breathing, yoga, meditation and even massage can be beneficial. Naturopathic doctors also have some great tools to help with stress relief including acupuncture, herbal medicine, counselling and nutritional supplements.
Wash your Hands!
Might sound basic but washing hands is the easiest way to prevent the spread of infection. Try to wash for at least 20 seconds, with warm water and soap, and make sure you don’t miss the areas between your fingers.
Minimize Refined Sugars:
Refined sugars decrease the ability of white blood cells to attack bacteria, and can also contribute to imbalances in the good and bad bacteria of the gut, leading to decreased immune function. Avoiding pop, baked goods, candy, and other foods and drinks high in refined sugars will help keep your immune system working strongly.
Life is busy and sometimes we cut down on sleep to provide some extra time to finish the things we need to do. Studies show that people who don't get quality sleep or enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus, such as the common cold. Lack of sleep can also affect how fast you recover if you do get sick.
Homeopathic Flu Prevention:
The flu prevention shot contains 2 homeopathic remedies derived from mineral and plant sources that activate the body’s immune defenses against viruses and bacteria. When used in combination, these homeopathic medications have been shown to increase the infection fighting capabilities of white blood cells by 41%. This flu prevention shot is safe and effective and can be administered if the patient is already ill. Also available in oral tablets.
Increase Consumption of Immune Boosting Foods:
These tips will help strengthen your immune system and get you through the cold and flu season in one piece!
After a summer full of barbecues and over eating I’m sure we all feel like we could lose a little weight! Here are some ways to help boost your metabolism and kick start your weight loss journey.
Increase protein intake:
Metabolism is the process by which your body converts what you eat and drink into energy. You can increase your metabolism by eating foods that require extra energy to digest and metabolize such as protein. Your body burns twice as many calories digesting high-protein foods compared to foods that are high in carbs or fat. When you consume protein a hormone called glucagon is released which signals fat cells to release fat into the blood so it can be used for energy. So when you eat more protein, more fat is burned which is what we all want when trying to lose weight! Good sources of protein include: nuts and seeds, lean meats such as turkey, chicken, fish, eggs etc.
Eat more often:
Eating smaller meals throughout the days (every 2-3 hours) helps to feed muscles and starve fat because this ensures your body that it isn’t going to starve. When you skip meals (especially breakfast) or don’t eat throughout the day and then pig out at dinner, your body gets scared and begins to store fat because it isn’t sure when the next meal with come. Eating throughout the day also helps to balance blood sugar levels which decreases cravings for sweets.
Avoid refined grains:
Breads, pastas, cookies, cake all contain refined grains which cause an over-secretion of the hormone insulin due to the spike in blood glucose levels. This tells the body that there is enough energy available from the glucose so it should stop burning fat and store it instead. Constantly high levels of insulin can also lead to insulin resistance which can lead to diabetes. Complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, brown rice, fruits and vegetables result in a more steady release of glucose into the blood which doesn’t result in the secretion of excess insulin.
Eat more fiber:
Fiber is a non-digestible carbohydrate, but the body tries hard to break it down, using up energy and thereby increasing metabolism. Fiber makes you feel full sooner and stays in your stomach longer than other foods which helps slow down the rate of digestion and keeping you feeling full longer. Be sure to increase water intake as you add more fiber into your diet to prevent constipation!
Switch up your workout routine:
Maximize the calories you burn with exercise by integrating high intensity intervals into your workout. A good starter routine is alternating walking for 2 minutes with running as fast as you can for 1 minute, repeating this 3 minute interval 5 times for 15 minutes. This can help burn more fat and calories than walking on the threadmill for 1 hour!
Losing weight can be difficult but with the right diet and exercise routine, you will be shedding those excess pounds in no time!
I found this great article about reasons why people should see a Naturopathic Doctor. One of the reasons I really like and can be seen in my practice is that we build relationships with our patients. Our visits are longer so we have time to really get to know our patients and figure out what factors are contributing to their case in order to develop an effective treatment plan. Our patients trust us, trust that they are getting the best care possible. That is something I really take pride in.
I hope you find the article interesting!
Dr. Lesley D'Souza
Dr. Lesley is a Naturopathic Doctor practicing in Oakville, Burlington and Mississauga, Ontario.