Natural Relief for Painful Periods

Natural Relief for Painful Periods

Alexis Reid
This week I am going to be giving you my favorite ways to reduce pain and discomfort during your period. It is important to accept that making any major changes to your period can take between 3-6 months so it is good to have some quality natural pain relief options in your back pocket. I am hoping that some of you have already been implementing the changes I discussed last week and are well on your way to much happier periods!

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Are Your Periods Much Worse Since Having a Baby?

Are Your Periods Much Worse Since Having a Baby?

Alexis Reid

Something that has come up A LOT in my office, is how much worse your post baby periods can be. I am not just talking about the first few cycles after you have a baby, but the changes in your periods that last for years! Whenever I come across something that I am seeing in a lot of patients, that is not talked about very much, I make it my mission to get the bottom of it. Today I am going to go over what causes your period to get worse after having a baby and share a few things that you can do to help get things back to being more manageable.

For starters, what is a normal period? Many of us have no idea that what we think is just “a little off” could actually be the sign of an underlying medical concern. While pain, heavy bleeding, terrible mood swings, headaches, bloating, cravings and breast tenderness are common, they are not NORMAL.

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The 3 Most Researched Nutrients for Female Infertility

The 3 Most Researched Nutrients for Female Infertility

Alexis Reid

I am back from a busy week in Vancouver, where I attended the Integrative Fertility Symposium. The Integrative Fertility Symposium brings together health practitioners from many different disciplines including: medical doctors, naturopathic doctors, Chinese medicine practitioners, acupuncturists and nutritionists. I learned many new acupuncture techniques that I will be bringing back to my patients and my practice. In my next few blog posts I will be summarizing the most interesting talks I attended for your learning pleasure!

1) Vitamin D

Vitamin D has been one of the most talked about vitamins of recent years, but did you know that Vitamin D isn’t really a vitamin at all? It is actually a hormone. We are able to synthesize Vitamin D in our skin. With true vitamins, we are not able to make them, we have to get them via food.

Vitamin D is critical in the preconception time period (3-4 months, prior to conception), as well as during pregnancy and breastfeeding. All cells in the body have a Vitamin D receptor. We are uncovering new information about the importance of Vitamin D every day. Fatty fish is the best food source of Vitamin D, however, you would have to eat 1/2lb of fish every day to reach sufficient levels.

65-70% of women in the USA are deficient in Vitamin D. The number are likely even higher in Canada. In Canada, we are not able to synthesize Vitamin D in our skin from October to May, due to the angle of the sun. This means that Canadians, especially those trying to conceive, should be considering Vitamin D supplementation during the winter months.

Vitamin D is known to be important for conception. Interestingly even in women using donor eggs (not their own) pregnancy rates increased from 38% to 78% if they had sufficient levels of Vitamin D.

During pregnancy, Vitamin D helps to reduce the risk of pre-eclampsia, bacterial vaginosis, gestational diabetes and pre-term delivery.

Postpartum, sufficient levels of Vitamin D can help reduce the risk of Postpartum Depression.

You can ask your doctor or naturopathic doctor to test your levels of Vitamin D (it is not covered by OHIP, unless you have certain medical conditions). This blood work should be part of all moms preconception work up.

2) Inositol

Inositol is a well researched “B vitamin like” substance that can help with insulin sensitivity in the body. Insulin resistance is a major issue for people suffering from conditions like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and type 2 diabetes. PCOS is a common cause of infertility in women. Women with PCOS often do not ovulate regularly, have problems with insulin sensitivity, can have cysts on their ovaries, suffer from acne and hair growth on their face and body.

The average women gets 1g/day of inositol from their diet. The therapeutic dose of inositol is 4g/day. You have to be patient with inositol, as it takes 3-6 months to be effective. It helps improve ovarian function, helps reduce BMI and reduces the risk of gestational diabetes.

3) Coenzyme Q10

Is a substance that helps convert food into energy. The process of cell division in the ovary is a process that takes a lot of energy! CoQ10 levels decrease with age, leading to a decrease in available energy for proper cell division within the egg. I suggest CoQ10 supplementation in women over the age of 35 who are trying to conceive. With CoQ10 supplementation, it if important to not take it in a tablet, but in a capsule that is oil filled, as this greatly helps with absorption. Current research suggests that the amount of CoQ10 that should be supplemented is 600 mg/day.

 

I hope you found this blog post helpful! Next week, I will cover what I learned about ovulation disorders.

 

Dr Alexis

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Why You Are Waking Up Between 1-3 am

Why You Are Waking Up Between 1-3 am

Alexis Reid

Hopefully, after reading my last few blog posts, you have learned why sleep is so important to our health and wellbeing, the most important steps to integrate into your night time routine, and what “hacks” you can use to get a good night’s sleep when all else fails. Today I am going to cover a problem that I commonly see amongst my patients. My patients often tell me that they have no problem falling asleep, many of them literally fall asleep as soon as their head hits the pillow! Unfortunately, this sleep doesn’t last too long, and they find themselves wide awake at some point between 1-3 am! There are many different reasons this can happen.

Top 5 Reasons You Wake Up Between 1-3 am

  • Low Blood Sugar- Also called hypoglycemia, this is the #1 cause of night waking that I see in my practice. The theory behind this is fairly simple. Many people, especially those who are trying to be careful about what they are eating, eat dinner somewhere around 6 pm and then do not eat again before bed. That means if you go to bed between 10-11 pm you have already gone 4-5 hours without food. If you plan to wake up between 6-7 am, you will have gone 12-13 hours without food! Even people who do eat food in the evening, it tends to be a carb heavy snack. When we eat snacks that are high in carbs and do not have much protein and fat the body burns through them fairly quickly. What should happen when we go to sleep is our stress hormone cortisol starts off low and should gradually rise over the night until about 6 am when it signals your body that it is time to wake up and “break the fast”. Waking up between 1-3 am can be caused by a premature cortisol spike. When we run out of food or fuel, our body starts secreting cortisol, which signals your body to wake up. The most effective way to overcome this is to have a snack that contains protein and fat a half hour to an hour before bedtime. Good snack options are
    1. Pumpkin Seeds- Contain both protein and fat and are also high in magnesium, nature’s muscle relaxant
    2. Cashews
    3. Almonds
    4. Small Piece of Meat and ¼ Avocado

 

  • Waking to Urinate- You should not have to wake up during the night to go to the bathroom. If you do wake up, it should be one time max. There are many reasons people wake to urinate, but the most common I see is that they are drinking a lot of water in the evening. It is a good idea to slow down water intake in the evening after dinner. Frequent urination can also happen when you are drinking a lot of water, but do not have adequate salt/sodium intake. If you are making most of your own food and not adding salt you are at risk for a sodium deficiency. This can make it feel like water “goes right through you”. To combat this, add salt to taste to your food. If you have high blood pressure, speak to your doctor or naturopathic doctor before adding more salt to your diet.

 

  • Chinese Medicine- In Chinese Medicine, waking between 1-3 am is related to the liver. The liver starts rebelling and waking you up if you have been under a lot of stress, eating fried fatty foods, drinking too much alcohol, feeling extra irritable and having a shorter fuse than usual. The best time to help the liver get back on track is spring. Doing a detox is very beneficial, as is starting your day with lemon water, and exercising for 10-30 min/day.

 

 

  • Your Children- Many of my patients are not waking up on their own, but are being woken up by their children. Stay tuned for next week’s post on how to get your child to sleep through the night!

Do you wake up during the night? Post in the comments below.

Dr Alexis

Dr Alexis practices in Stittsville/Kanata at Living Science Wellness Centre and is currently accepting new patients. To schedule your appointment, please call 613.836.7901.

 

 

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6 Hacks For a Better Night's Sleep

6 Hacks For a Better Night's Sleep

Alexis Reid

I get it. You want to get better and deeper sleep, but you find that you can’t consistently stick to your bedtime routine. There is always something that comes up to keep you from getting into bed, and too much on your mind once you get there to allow for sleeping. This week I am going to show you my favorite hacks to get the best quality of sleep, even if you are short on time.

One common problem with sleep that I see all the time with my patients is that they can’t get into bed. They have a list a mile long of tasks they want to accomplish before turning in for the evening. It is hard to prime the body for sleep if you are running around like a chicken with its head cut off right until bedtime. My first hack has worked wonders for people who just can’t seem to get to bed….let’s see if it can work for you too!

6 Hacks For a Better Night’s Sleep

  • Set an Alarm- For the time you want to GET INTO BED. Yes, you heard me right. The sleep problem so many people have is getting to bed, not falling asleep. There is always going to be something to watch or read on the internet, or one more chore to do. Setting an alarm that tells you it is time to go to bed makes it a commitment and gets your “going to bed” process started at a decent hour. Try this: set your alarm for 10 pm for 1 week and see if it helps you get to bed earlier. We often push to get things done at night and end up sleep deprived. If you do the task in the morning, after a good night’s sleep, it likely won’t take you as long to complete.
  • Amber Glasses- While amber glasses may look funny, they are very helpful for people who, for whatever reason, cannot turn off all electronic devices 1-2 hours before bed. Amber glasses help to block the blue light, which is what tricks your brain into thinking it is still daytime. I suggest my patients put their amber glasses on for any TV/computer time that they do once the sun has gone down. Amber glasses can be found on Amazon.
  • Epsom Salt Bath- I talked about the benefits of having a hot shower in my bedtime routine post. Having an Epsom salt bath has added benefits to help relax muscles and encourage a state of sleepiness due to the magnesium in the salts. I recommend having a bath about 2 hours before you want to fall asleep and to stay in the tub for at least 20 min. Some of my patients watch their favorite show on Netflix in the tub, while wearing their amber glasses of course.
  • Bedtime Snack- A bedtime snack helps to keep your blood sugar stable all night. This is especially important if you are someone who wakes up during the night. You could be waking up because your body has “burned through all of its fuel” and thinks it is morning. My favorite bedtime snack is a handful of pumpkin seeds.
  • Wear Socks- It is not uncommon for circulation to slow down a bit at night causing cold feet. So many of my patients report lying in bed awake at night because they have cold feet. Put some socks on! Once your feet are warm, it makes it easier to drift off. Similarly, if your feet get too hot at night, stick them out of the blankets to regulate.
  • Open the Curtains First Thing in the Morning- This helps your body to recognize that it is indeed morning, and helps stop the production of melatonin. Looking out the window into the sun for 10-15 minutes can help get your energy up in the morning and helps to solidify your circadian rhythms.

This week I would like everyone to try setting an alarm for when they are going to get into bed. Please just do it! It makes a huge difference in the quality of your sleep.

Dr Alexis

Dr Alexis practices in Stittsville at Living Science Wellness Centre and is accepting new patients. To schedule your appointment, please call 613.836.7901.

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Do Adults Need A Bedtime Routine?

Do Adults Need A Bedtime Routine?

Alexis Reid

A bedtime routine may be something you haven’t thought about since you were in elementary school. Back then taking a bath, unwinding, and reading a few books were likely an important part of your evening. Bedtime routines tend to take a back seat as we get older, but with the number of patients I see in my office every week with sleeping problems, it may be time to bring them back.

Why are bedtime routines a good idea for adults? For starters, our body likes routine. You may find that your body works the best when you go to bed and wake up at the same time, eat at the same time the list goes on and on. Our bodies like predictability. A bedtime routine can serve as a great trigger for the body that it is time to start unwinding. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, and can be flexible, but integrating some steps to help you “wind down” before bed can be better than the best sleeping pill.

We cannot expect our bodies to be go go go and then suddenly fall into a deep sleep. We need some time to unwind. Still not a believer? Try implementing a bedtime routine for the next week and see what a difference it can make for the quality of your sleep.

How To Create A Bedtime Routine

  • Turn off The TV/Get off Your Phone- At least a ½ hour before bed, ideally 1 hour, do not be on your phone or watching TV. Exposure to the light from the screen makes your body think that it is daytime. This is a great time to do some reading, talk with your partner, or do some gentle stretching. I recommend putting your phone on nightshift mode, as it reduces the brightness of the screen after dark.
  • Have a Snack- Do you wake up during the night? One of the reasons this happens is due to your blood sugar crashing. Having a handful of pumpkin seeds before bed can help you get a good night’s sleep. Pumpkin seeds are high in magnesium, nature’s muscle relaxant, are a good source of protein and provide healthy fats.
  • Have a Shower/Bath- Did you know that your body temperature dropping makes it easier to fall asleep. Having a shower or bath 1-2 hours before bed increases body temperature and then lowers it by 1-2 degrees, preparing you to cool down to sleep.
  • Keep Your Room Cool- Being too hot makes your body not go into as deep of a sleep. Keep your room cool (around 18-19°C).
  • Sleep in a Dark Room- Similarly to how watching TV tricks your body into staying awake, so does sleeping in a room that isn’t dark. Your room needs to be very dark (can’t see your hand in front of your face) to facilitate proper melatonin production.
  • Lavender- If you have trouble sleeping, new research as shown that inhaling the scent of lavender can help. You could have a diffuser in your room and use lavender essential oil, or add a few drops of lavender to your bath or shower.
  • Deep Belly Breathing- Taking 10 deep breaths when you get into bed, the kind where your stomach goes out and your chest stays in, helps to lower the stress hormone cortisol. If cortisol is high at night, it can make it more difficult to fall asleep.

Try to implement these suggestions into your routine this week and see for yourself the huge benefit they can have for sleep!

Do you have a bedtime routine? Please post it in the comments below

Dr Alexis

Dr Alexis practices in Stittsville at Living Science Wellness Centre and is accepting new patients. To schedule your appointment, call 613.836.7901

 

 

 

 

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14 Ways to Naturally Heal Your Adrenal Glands

14 Ways to Naturally Heal Your Adrenal Glands

Alexis Reid

Two weeks ago post I went over 8 Signs That You May Have Adrenal Fatigue. Last week I talked about how this adrenal fatigue could be causing you to not see results from your exercise program, and how you should exercise to both get results and allow your adrenals to heal. Now that you have the framework of what adrenal fatigue is I am going to talk about easy changes that you can make today to help your adrenals recover.

For anyone who is not up to speed on what adrenal fatigue is here is a quick recap. In adrenal fatigue, your body loses its ability to appropriately respond to stressors. In modern times we are bombarded by a tonne of low to medium level stressors on a day to day basis: rushing to pick the kids up from daycare, getting stuck in traffic, an unreasonable boss, having to answer emails at all hours of the day etc. Our bodies also interpret many physiological changes as stressful events: big blood sugar fluctuations, exercising too hard and not getting enough sleep, to name a few. For more info on the different stages of adrenal fatigue and to learn more about how your stress hormone cortisol works, click here.

It is estimated that up to 80% of women suffer from some degree of adrenal fatigue over the course of their lives. Common times that I see adrenal fatigue as a problem are

  • Students- Both high school and college/university, although it tends to be worse in post-secondary students as the increased stress and demands of school are often coupled with moving away for the first time, poor eating habits, poor sleeping patterns and increased caffeine consumption.
  • Young Professionals- They are often completing school already with some degree of adrenal fatigue that gets compounded by the stress/demands of trying to find their place in the workforce.
  • Women Who Have Difficulty Getting Pregnant- These women have often gone through the demands of school and the workplace, recently planned a stressful wedding and now have the added stress of not getting pregnant quickly.
  • New Mom’s- It is hard to find a new mom who is not suffering from some degree of adrenal fatigue. As I have said many times before, babies are “parasites” and will take whatever they need from mom. This often leaves mom very depleted nutritionally. Coupling this with the stress of new parenthood, sleepless nights and caffeine is a perfect recipe for adrenal fatigue.

 

The #1 issue I see patients for in my office is “not having the energy that they used to” AKA Adrenal Fatigue

 

14 Ways to Naturally Heal Adrenal Fatigue

Diet

Remove/Eliminate Foods That Put Added Stress On Your Adrenal Glands

  • Coffee- If you have adrenal fatigue, coffee is working against you. In this article I go over why you should reduce/eliminate coffee, why it is so important, and how long you need to do it
  • Remove Food Sensitivities- If you are eating foods that your body is reacting to, it adds unnecessary stress to your system. By identifying and removing these foods from your diet, you allow your digestive system to function much more efficiently.
  • Reduce Sugar- This includes all forms of artificial sweeteners (they are a definite no), refined grains (think white bread) and a reduction of natural sugars. You can still eat fruit and have small amounts of maple syrup and honey
  • Eat Regularly- You should be eating at least every 4-5 hours. Skipping breakfast and/or lunch is detrimental to your adrenal glands. Eating breakfast helps to stabilize blood sugar all day

Include Foods That Help With Adrenal Gland Repair

  • Protein and Healthy Fats- Have protein and fats at every meal. This is particularly important for breakfast
  • Water- Make sure to drink 6-8 glasses of water/day
  • Bone Broth/Collagen- Packed with nutrients and helpful for reducing damage to the gut lining
  • Foods High in Vitamin B5- Vitamin B5 is used by the adrenal glands to make hormones. Foods that are a good source of B5 include: sunflower seeds, salmon, avocado, broccoli, mushrooms and cauliflower
  • Foods High in Vitamin C- Also use to make adrenal hormones. Good food sources: papaya, bell peppers, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, strawberries, pineapple, and oranges

Lifestyle

  • Reduce/Eliminate High Intensity Interval Training- see last week’s blog post for why
  • Rest When You Feel Tired- Listen to your body, and do not push it too much
  • Sleep- Getting to sleep between 10-11 pm is what to aim for. According to Chinese medicine, this is the time when the most adrenal repair happens
  • Deep Breathing- 10 deep belly breaths, 3 times/day has been shown to lower cortisol levels
  • Self-Care- Taking time out of every day to do one thing that is just for you. It doesn’t need to take long, even 5 minutes. Epsom salt baths are a great self-care activity because magnesium is known as natures muscle relaxant and can help to promote better sleep.

As a starting point, pick 2-3 of these tips to implement into your daily life.

More information on food sensitivities and the available testing can be found here

Do you think you are suffering from adrenal fatigue? Post in the comments below

 

Dr Alexis

Dr Alexis practices in Stittsville at Living Science Wellness Centre and is accepting new patients. To schedule your appointment please call 613.836.7901

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This From of  Exercise Gives Tired, Stressed Mom’s The Most Bang For Their Buck

This From of Exercise Gives Tired, Stressed Mom’s The Most Bang For Their Buck

Alexis Reid
One of the areas that I see the most guilt around with moms in my practice is exercise. Many of my patients know that they “should” be exercising, but they either do not have the energy to even think about starting an exercise program, or they have started exercising and it is making them feel worse. The MOST important thing I want to emphasize regarding moms and exercise it LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. No really listen. Pushing through and trying to do very intense exercise is not going to do you any favors. One of the questions that I ask all of my new patients is “How is your energy after exercising”. This question provides me with a tonne of valuable information. If you are exercising at the right intensity for you, you should feel a tired, but have increased energy about a half hour to an hour after you finish your workout. If you are left feeling exhausted, and feel tired for a day or two after, you are doing too much and need to listen to your bod

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8 Signs You Have Adrenal Fatigue

8 Signs You Have Adrenal Fatigue

Alexis Reid
Do you wake up in the morning feeling refreshed, full of energy, and confident that you can take on the challenges of the day? No? Let me tell you, you are not alone. One of the questions I always ask in my new patient intake is “Do you feel refreshed when you wake up?” Most of my patients give me a “is she for real?!” look. While it may have been a while since you have felt refreshed in the morning, especially if you are a mom, please know that you can feel that way again.

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Natural Electrolyte Drink That is Great For Kids

Natural Electrolyte Drink That is Great For Kids

Alexis Reid

With this constantly changing weather knocking people down with colds, and flu season right around the corner, I thought it would be a good time to start thinking about how to manage the symptoms of these illnesses more naturally. As most of you probably already know, preventing dehydration is very important, especially with young children and pregnant women. Drinking water is a good way to help with this, but when people are vomiting and having diarrhea, they are not only losing water they are losing valuable electrolytes as well. Electrolytes are substances such as potassium, sodium, chloride, calcium and magnesium. These electrolytes are essential to proper body functioning as they help send messages in the cells that keep your heart beating correctly, help your muscles to contract and maintain your blood pressure amongst other things.

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