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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What to Drink When You Give Up Coffee

What to Drink When You Give Up Coffee

Alexis Reid1 comment

See, I was telling you the truth. The picture with this blog post is of my weekend morning coffee. As I said in last week’s blog post: Coffee, Friend or Foe, there are 3 groups of people who should not be drinking coffee on a daily basis. Unfortunately, I fall into one of those groups. So why am I posting a picture of my coffee then? I took a 1 month total coffee vacation, and now have 1-2 cups/week on the weekend. I find that my body tolerates it much better, and it does not negatively impact my adrenal glands.

I know many of you are wanting to try reducing your coffee intake so that it becomes something you enjoy drinking, not a crutch to help get you through the day. Depending on how much coffee you are currently consuming, you may experience coffee withdrawal symptoms. Going through coffee withdrawal can happen from drinking as little as one cup/day, if that is what you have been drinking for a significant period of time, say 2-3 years. Withdrawal symptoms typically appear 1-3 days after having your last cup of coffee.

Coffee Withdrawal Symptoms

  • Headache, especially behind they eyes. Magnesium can be helpful 
  • Irritability
  • Constipation
  • Reduced concentration/brain fog
  • Fatigue

Withdrawal symptoms tend to last 2-3 days. I always suggest, to my patients who are at risk of suffering from coffee withdrawals, to stop their coffee drinking habit on a Wednesday, so that they can go through the withdrawal symptoms over the weekend.

As an aside, you should not need to have a coffee to have a bowel movement! This sounds like a great topic to cover in a future blog post!

Eating/drinking foods that your “Liver Loves” can be helpful at reducing the withdrawal symptoms. These foods include

  • Lemon/lemon water
  • Beets
  • Leafy Greens
  • Onions
  • Garlic

It is very important to stay well hydrated after stopping coffee. Aim to drink 8-10 glasses of water or herbal tea/day.

Now on to the fun stuff, my favorite coffee substitutes. There are lots of options out there, but these are the 3 alternatives that I have had the best results with for my patients. They all work a little differently to help fill the void from coffee. You can pick and choose between the 3, or you can incorporate all 3 into your daily routine.

My Top 3 Coffee Alternative

  • Dandy Blend – Dandy Blend is an herbal coffee substitute that is designed to have a coffee taste. It works well for people who really like the taste of coffee and miss it when they give it up. It does not provide the “energy boost” of coffee, however. I find, in order for it to be strong enough to taste like coffee, you need to add 1 TBSP of the powder to 1 cup of water as opposed to the 1 tsp they suggest on the label
  • Matcha Green Tea – A super concentrated form of green tea. 1 serving of matcha is the equivalent of 10 cups of green tea. It is very high in antioxidants, which can help to reduce withdrawal symptoms. Most people do experience a similar energy and concentration boost from matcha as they get from coffee. To make a matcha tea, you add ½ tsp of matcha powder to hot water and stir. Matcha can also be made into a latte. I don’t use a bamboo whisk, you can just use a teaspoon.
  • Nettle Infusion- This is my favorite for energy. It provides steady, sustained energy over the course of the day, and gets great results for my patients. Nettle is good source of iron, calcium, silica and phosphorus, vitamin A and vitamin K. It is helpful for supporting both the adrenal glands, and the thyroid. It is one of my favorite tonics for postpartum moms! An infusion is a strong tea. To make a nettle infusion: add 1 cup of dried nettle to a 1L container, a 1L mason jar works well. Pour boiling water over the nettle and allow it to steep on the counter overnight. In the morning, strain the mixture and you are left with 700-800 ml of nettle infusion that can be drank over 2 days. Nettle is an acquired taste, but it is best not to add any sweeteners to it.

 

In my experience, most people find that either the nettle infusion or match green tea helps replace the energy boost they used to get from coffee, and the dandy blend can provide the comfort/similarity they are used to from coffee

Have you quit coffee? What was your favorite coffee alternative? Please post in the comments below

 Dr Alexis

Dr Alexis practices in Kanata and is currently accepting new patients. To schedule your appointment, click here.

 

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Coffee: Friend, or Foe?

Coffee: Friend, or Foe?

Alexis Reid

The question I get asked most by my patients these days is, “are you going to want me to give up my coffee?” That my friend is a loaded question. It is not one that I can give an easy yes/no answer to, as it is dependent on so many factors. To start things off, I will say that I am not 100% against coffee. I actually quite like coffee myself. What I do find concerning is when people are using coffee as a crutch to get through the day. I recently saw a colleague post that when it comes to coffee it should be 1 coffee and 5 meals, not 5 coffees and 1 meal, which I think is a great way to look at things. Coffee has a number of benefits including: improvements in athletic performance and mental alertness, source of antioxidants, and it also may reduce the risk of colon and liver cancer.

It is true the HOW of how you coffee is a huge factor. One of the most common mistakes I see in my practice is people who have a coffee, and just coffee, for breakfast. This is the WORST way to consume coffee. Coffee spikes blood sugar levels. Spiking blood sugar levels is not what we want to be doing first thing in the morning. If you have been following my blog for any period of time, you should know by now that one of the most important factors for blood sugar control over the course of the day is having protein at breakfast. This protein helps to stabilize blood sugar helps. If you are having only a coffee for breakfast, you are sending your blood sugar soaring. When your blood sugar crashes, in about 2-3 hours, you are going to be left starving, shaky and looking for a carbohydrate and sugar fix.

If you are drinking coffee, I want it to be working for you, not against you. The number 2 most common mistake I see in my practice with people drinking coffee is the time of day they are drinking it. I recommend no more coffee after noon. Why is this? Coffee has a half-life, the time it takes for half of it to get out of your system, of 12 hours. That coffee you drank at noon can still be effecting you and your mental alertness at midnight. I have had numerous patients resolve or greatly improve their insomnia by not drinking coffee past noon. If you want to make sure that coffee is not a factor in with your sleep problems, stop the coffee at 9 am.

For most people, 1-2 cups of coffee is ok to consume, with protein, and before noon. By 1-2 cups, I mean 1-2, 250 ml servings, not a Venti from your favorite coffee shop. I am also not including those mocalicious caramel Frappuccino’s. That is a milkshake, not a coffee. There are 3 groups of people who do not suggest consuming coffee on a daily basis 1) Anyone with hormonal problems (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, Irregular Periods, Infertility) 2) Highly Stressed/Overworked People (Mom’s I am looking at you!) 3) Women with Low Iron/Anemia

Coffee and Polycyclic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) do not mix because it causes a spike in blood sugar, which triggers the release of insulin. Many women with PCOS already have trouble with their insulin control, and coffee makes the problem much worse. If you have irregular periods, this can be a sign of PCOS. When it comes to fertility, the research is still inconclusive with respect to coffee. There have been studies that have shown an increased risk of miscarriage and an increased risk of ovulatory dysfunction. It is best to avoid coffee, if you are having difficulty getting pregnant

Coffee acts as a stimulant to the central nervous system and increases cortisol levels (our main stress hormone) to levels similar to those that we experience during an acute stress event. In other words, coffee makes your body think you are stressed, being chased by a bear, and makes it release stress hormone. This has a negative impact on someone who is “stressed out”, as your body has to work overtime to keep up with your cortisol needs. The rapid increase in blood sugar caused by coffee is also seen by the body as a stress event, and results in even more cortisol getting released. Cortisol is released from the adrenal glands and over time this can lead to your adrenal glands (the batteries of the body) getting drained. For women with hormonal or adrenal issues, I suggest fully stopping coffee for 1 month, and then re-introducing 1-2 cups/week of coffee. 

Finally, coffee and women with low iron do not mix. Coffee binds to iron and makes it even more difficult for your body to absorb. Iron supplements should not be taken within 2 hours of having a cup of coffee.

That was a lot of info! To recap

HOW to Coffee

  • Drink your coffee with a protein rich breakfast (20-30g)
  • Stop drinking coffee at noon
  • Take a 30 day coffee vacation if you
    1. Have hormonal problems (PCOS, Irregular Periods, Infertility)
    2. Are under a lot of stress
    3. Have low iron

For this week, keep track of your regular coffee habits. In next week’s blog post I will cover “coffee hacks” to make your coffee work overtime for you, as well as, good coffee alternative for those who fit the criteria of needing a 30 day coffee vacation.

How many cups of coffee you drink/day? Post in the comments below.

 

Talk Soon,

Dr Alexis

Dr Alexis practices in Kanata and is accepting new patients. To schedule your appointment, click here.

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Eating Protein at Breakfast is the Key to Increasing Energy and Reducing Belly Fat

Eating Protein at Breakfast is the Key to Increasing Energy and Reducing Belly Fat

Alexis Reid

I know what you are thinking, that sure is a bold title! I don’t usually use such bold titles, but these are the results I see time and time again from my patients when they make this one simple switch.

How many of you don’t eat breakfast? Be honest, and no a cup of coffee doesn’t count as breakfast. Not eating breakfast, and having a cup of coffee is one of the worst ways you can start your day. Why? Because of blood sugar control. Your blood sugar increases significantly after you have a carbohydrate heavy meal. So you see, I am not anti-coffee, but I think you should have your coffee in a way that works for you, not against. What kind of carb heavy meal am I talking about? The typical North American breakfast of either a bagel, cereal, muffin, just a coffee and orange juice, you get the idea. After this type of breakfast, your blood sugar will significantly increase as your body burns through these foods quickly, converting them to sugar and in turn increasing your blood sugar. This helps you to feel full and satisfied for a short period of time (1-2 hours) but then your blood sugar crashes. What happens when it crashes? You feel ravenously hungry, shaky, anxious, irritable, and unable to focus. To make these feelings go away, you reach for the next quick energy source, which is usually a piece of fruit, chocolate bar or another cup of coffee.

This pattern of spiking and crashing your blood sugar all day zaps your energy. My patients are always shocked at how much better their energy gets from simply adding protein to their breakfast. Having protein at breakfast, regardless of how much carbs and sugar you have for the rest of the day, is the best way to help stabilize your blood sugar all day long.

Another undesired effect of big fluctuations in your blood sugar is that it causes the body to release more insulin deal with the excess sugar. Over time, this could cause insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is associated with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and Diabetes. When your body has to release excess insulin, it also releases excess cortisol, our main stress hormone. Cortisol is the main hormone responsible for fat gain in the abdominal region. If you are the type of person who tends to gain weight in your stomach first, you should definitely take a look at your blood sugar patterns over the day and add more protein in the morning.

Ok so now you know why you should be eating protein in the morning

  • Reduces cravings for sugar and carbohydrates all day
  • Reduces irritability and shakiness
  • Helps combat brain fog and anxiety
  • You will be less HANGRY
  • Helps reduce insulin, which lowers your risk of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and Diabetes
  • Helps to lower your stress hormone cortisol, reducing abdominal weight gain

Now here is how to make that happen!

Good sources of protein for breakfast

  • Smoothie- Containing berries, avocado and a non-dairy milk with a scoop of non-whey, non-soy protein. Ones I like (no affiliation) pumpkin seed protein, Iron Vegan Athlete’s Blend, Sun Warrior, Pea Protein and Manitoba Harvest Hemp Protein
  • Chia Seed Pudding- Chia seed pudding is a great breakfast as it is high in good fats and fibre. You can increase its protein content by adding, nuts, pumpkin seeds or hemp seeds
  • Eggs- Eggs got a bad rap in the 90’s but newer guidelines state that for most people it is ok to consume up to 2 eggs/day. Eggs are a great source of protein and fat. You can have eggs on their own or in a veggie scramble, with avocado or smoked salmon. The options are endless here
  • Meat- Save a piece of chicken or beef from the night before and have in a morning, as a quick and easy source of protein
  • Homemade Granola- Great for breakfast on the run. You can mix together nuts and seed and even throw in some chocolate chips
  • Power Balls- Made from nut butters, seeds and cocoa powder, these are easy, convenient and designed to keep you full until lunch

Here are some of my favorite websites for healthy breakfast ideas

Against All Grain

Elena’s Pantry

I advise my patients to aim for 20-25 grams of protein at breakfast.

You may be wondering why I have emphasized “non-dairy” milks and protein powders. New research has shown that even dairy that contains a lot of protein, for example Greek yogurt, causes a large spike in blood sugar, which then increases insulin and cortisol. It is best to avoid and/or reduce dairy. For more on dairy, check out my blog post “Is Dairy Really The Devil”

Does this sound like an easy switch you can make to your daily routine?

 Protein at breakfast has been one of the major keys to increased energy, feeling less stressed and of course weight loss for my patients.

 

Talk Soon,

Dr Alexis

Dr Alexis practices in Kanata and is currently accepting new patients. To schedule your appointment, click here.

 

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Do You Get HANGRY?!

Do You Get HANGRY?!

Alexis Reid

 

Do you or someone you love get Hangry? Maybe you are wondering what hangry is? Hangry is when you get angry when you are hungry. This can be a sign of unstable blood sugar. When you are hungry, your blood sugar is low. Low blood sugar can trigger a whole host of symptoms including:

  • Mood Swings (aka Hangry)
  • Shakiness
  • Anxiety
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Sweating
  • Rapid Heart Beat
  • Headache

Some people find themselves having these symptoms and feeling very hungry multiple times a day. This can be a sign of unstable blood sugar. Blood sugars being unstable is something that is more common around the holidays, as people are eating more sugar and may go longer periods of time between meals due to busyness.

My favorite trick that I use with my patients to help stabilize their blood sugar is to have a protein rich breakfast. Having protein in the morning, helps to set the blueprint for good blood sugar control all day long. What consists of a protein rich breakfast?

Favorite Protein Rich Breakfasts

  • Chia Seed Pudding
  • Smoothie with non-whey and non-soy protein powder
  • Eggs
  • Meat and Veggies

This time of the year it can be hard to reduce your sugar intake. One of my favorite things to do before going to a holiday party or dinner is to have a protein and fat rich snack like a handful of nuts to help reduce sugar cravings. If you are going to be eating a lot of sugar, it is best to eat it along with some protein to slow down the raise in blood sugar which should help prevent against blood sugar crashes Another way to reduce the impact of sugar, it is to eat your sugar not drink it! Drinking pop, juice and sugary alcoholic beverages causes a fast spike in your blood sugar, and should be avoided.

Do you find you crave sugar more this time of year? Do you have any of the symptoms of unstable blood sugar? Post in the comments below.

Happy Holidays!

Dr Alexis

 

Dr Alexis practices in Kanata and is accepting new patients. To schedule your appointment, click here. 

 

 

 

 

 

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Why Your Chocolate Cravings Are Out of Control

Why Your Chocolate Cravings Are Out of Control

Alexis Reid

This is a difficult time of the year for someone who craves chocolate! It’s everywhere! Do you find that you crave more chocolate in the winter or near Christmas? In today’s blog post I am going to go over the reasons why you are craving chocolate. Once we get your cravings under control, it will be much easier to actually enjoy the chocolate you eat, instead of feeling as though you need it and scarfing it down.

For starters, no you are not suffering from a chocolate deficiency, those don’t exist!

Top 5 Reasons Your Chocolate Cravings are Out of Control

  • Magnesium Deficiency- Magnesium is involved in over 300 reactions in the body and is one of the most common deficiencies I see in my practice. Why are we magnesium deficient? Our soils have become depleted so our fruits and vegetables have less magnesium than they used to. Also, if your gut flora is disrupted (most people’s is) your ability to absorb magnesium is greatly reduced. Chocolate is a good source of magnesium, and it also helps the brain to release dopamine, the neurotransmitter in the brain that is increased in addiction.
  • Blood Sugar Fluctuations- When your blood sugar is unstable, going from high to low to high again, your body craves easily accessible energy. When blood sugar crashes we instinctively reach for food that will raise our blood sugar quickly, and chocolate fits the bill.
  • Lack of Protein- Not eating enough protein can also make blood sugar unstable. Protein and fats helps to keep you feeling full longer and help to reduce cravings for simple sugars like chocolate.
  • Stress- Chocolate stimulates the release of our feel good hormone dopamine. When we are under stress not much dopamine is being released. We evolutionarily want to be able to make ourselves feel better so this will often lead people to reach for chocolate for that dopamine spike.
  • Eating Too Much Processed Food- In Chinese Medicine, cravings for chocolate are related to the spleen, the organ of digestion. Eating processed/unhealthy fat laden foods puts extra strain on the digestive system leading to chocolate cravings.

How to Calm Chocolate Cravings

  • Supplement with Magnesium- Magnesium Glycinate is the best option for supplementation. It is easily absorbable, and does not cause loose stools to the same degree as Magnesium Citrate. Magnesium also helps to reduce muscle tension, anxiety, insomnia and PMS. Most people can benefit from supplementing between 200-600 mg/day.
  • Go No Longer Than 5 Hours Between Meals- When we go long periods of time between meals and snacks, blood sugar drops and makes us crave foods that are quick fuel sources. Chocolate fits the bill.
  • Eat Protein and Fat- Both protein and fat help to stabilize blood sugar and keep you feeling full. Every meal and snack should contain protein and fat.
  • Cinnamon- Cinnamon helps to stabilize your blood sugar, preventing those blood sugar crashes that result in sugar cravings. You can add cinnamon to hot drinks, smoothies and oatmeal.
  • Eat Dark Chocolate- It seems counter intuitive to reduce chocolate cravings by eating chocolate, but dark chocolate, at least 70% cocoa, is a good source of magnesium and can help to take the edge off of chocolate cravings. Have the dark chocolate with some protein and fat, such as nuts.

What foods do you crave? Post in the comments below

I hope you found some good tricks to help manage your chocolate cravings over the holiday season.

Talk Soon,

Dr Alexis

 

Dr Alexis practices in Kanata and is accepting new patients. To schedule your appointment, click here.

 

 

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Are You A New Mom Who Is Exhausted, Anxious, Depressed, Struggling With Low Milk Supply And Losing Your Hair? It Could Be Your Thyroid

Are You A New Mom Who Is Exhausted, Anxious, Depressed, Struggling With Low Milk Supply And Losing Your Hair? It Could Be Your Thyroid

Alexis Reid

Thyroid dysfunction is commonly missed or overlooked in new moms. It’s easy to see why. Having a baby is exhausting, can cause changes in mood, and challenges with breastfeeding are all too common. How do you know when it is going beyond just normal postpartum exhaustion and into the realm of “there could be something wrong with my thyroid”? That is the question we are going to answer in today’s blog post.

Many thyroid conditions are caused by autoimmunity. Both Hashimoto’s, when you thyroid is underactive, and Grave’s Disease, when your thyroid is over active are autoimmune in nature. There is a spike in autoimmune conditions after giving birth because your body has been having to work overtime for the last 9 months to keep itself from attacking the baby as a foreign object. After birth, there sometimes can be some crossed wires in the body adjusting back to only having to look after itself and not having to protect baby. Autoimmune thyroid conditions tend to occur within the first 12 months after giving birth. Your chance of developing a thyroid problem postpartum is higher if you already have an autoimmune condition.

Similarly, if you had problems with your thyroid after a previous birth, you have an almost 50% chance of developing thyroid problems with your subsequent births.

So why are so many thyroid problems being missed?  Many women become hyperthyroid first and then transition to hypothyroid. If the woman’s thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) is tested at her 6 week check up, it is highly likely that her thyroid problems haven’t started yet or are just beginning to start. Similarly, if TSH is tested 3-6 months postpartum, when most women start to experience hair loss, there is a good chance the woman is transitioning from hyperthyroid to hypothyroid and therefore her TSH will come back as normal.

The other reason many of these cases are missed, in Canada in particular, is most often TSH is the only marker tested. I will talk more about proper testing a little further down.

Stats on Postpartum Thyroid Problems

  • Approximately 25% of women become hyperthyroid 1-4 months postpartum
  • 25% of women stay hyperthyroid for 2 weeks- 6 months, then go hypothyroid
  • 40-50% of women just become hypothyroid 2-6 months postpartum

Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism

  • Weight Loss
  • Fatigue
  • Palpitations (Irregular Heartbeat)
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Heat Intolerance

Symptoms of Hypothyroidism

  • Fatigue
  • Weight Gain
  • Decreased Milk Supply
  • Depression
  • Hair Loss
  • Cold Hands and Feet
  • Constipation
  • Joint Pain

Testing For Your Thyroid

As I mentioned above, in Canada, most doctors only test TSH. TSH is the signal from your brain to your thyroid to release thyroid hormone. The thyroid hormone that gets released is T4. T4 is the less active (utilized) form of thyroid hormone. The body needs to be able to convert T4 to T3, which is 5x more active.

  • TSH- will come back low in women with hyperthyroidism and high in women with hypothyroidism. Many practitioners in Canada only treat when TSH is higher than 5 mU/L. The optimal level is between 1-2 mU/L.
  • Free T4- High in hyperthyroidism
  • Free T3- may be low or normal in hypothyroidism
  • Anti TPO (antithyroid peroxidase antibodies)- This is the test that tells you if your thyroid problem is autoimmune. If autoimmune, your levels will be elevated.

Natural Treatment Options

  • Autoimmune Thyroid Conditions- Gluten is a known trigger for autoimmune thyroid problems. If you are suffering from an autoimmune thyroid problem, you need to do a 100% elimination of gluten. Reducing inflammation is also critical in autoimmune conditions. Two ways you can do this safely while breastfeeding is by taking a good quality fish oil that contains 1000 mg DHA. DHA also helps reduce the risk of postpartum depression and helps with baby’s brain development. Adding Turmeric to foods or drinking golden milk is also very anti-inflammatory. Ginger is also a great anti-inflammatory
  • Stay on Your Prenatal Vitamin- There are 10 key nutrients that your thyroid needs to function properly. Speak to your naturopathic doctor to make sure you are getting enough. The 10 nutrients are:
    1. Iodine
    2. Zinc
    3. Selenium
    4. Magnesium
    5. Vitamin B12
    6. Vitamin B2
    7. Vitamin C
    8. Vitamin D
    9. Vitamin A
    10. Tyrosine
  • Nettle Tea- is particularly helpful for those with hypothyroidism, as it helps to prevent iodine deficiency. It is also a good tonic for the adrenal glands
  • Vitamin D- Helpful for mood for everyone. Tends to be low in autoimmune conditions
  • Uncooked Brassicas- The brassicas which include Broccoli, Cauliflower, Brussel Sprouts, Kale, Collards, can reduce thyroid function if eaten raw. They are perfectly healthy to eat cooked

Most women can recover from postpartum thyroid problems within 6-12 months postpartum

If your thyroid problems are often the root cause of postpartum anxiety, depression, fatigue and low milk supply. If thyroid problems are properly treated, the above mentioned symptoms usually improve on their own.

What Should Be Your Next Step?

Make an appointment with your Naturopathic Doctor. They can order TSH, T4, T3 and Anti-TPO and get to the bottom of what is going on. Dr Alexis practices in Kanata and is accepting new patients. To schedule your appointment, click here.

Talk Soon,

Dr. Alexis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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How to Naturally Manage Common Ailments Of The First Trimester

How to Naturally Manage Common Ailments Of The First Trimester

Alexis Reid

 

From the moment you get a positive pregnancy test your whole world changes! Excitement, fear, worry, most women run the gauntlet of emotions. It can be hard to even believe or conceptualize that you are actually pregnant because you still feel like your normal self. Then suddenly it hits. The morning sickness and fatigue. Why did no one warn you about this? One of the hardest parts about being pregnant for some women is that they can no longer use their go to medicines. It is a time in life when you are forced to try a more natural approach. It is a good idea to have your natural tool kit stocked for any aliment that pregnancy may throw your way.

In today’s blog we are focusing on the first trimester. Stay tuned for how to naturally manage the concerns of the second as third trimester as well as dealing with colds/flus and other illnesses during pregnancy.

The First Trimester

Morning Sickness

Did you know that up to 80% report some level of nausea in the first trimester? Many of my patients have said I don’t know why they call it morning sickness when it happens all day! Approximately 40% of women also experience vomiting and 20% of women continue to experience some level of morning sickness beyond the first trimester. This is no laughing matter.

5 Ways To Combat Morning Sickness Naturally

  • Eating Smaller and More Frequent Portions- For some women fluctuations in blood sugar can trigger their nausea. Eating more frequently helps to combat these fluctuations.
  • Deep Breathing Before Eating- Taking 5-10 deep belly breaths, the kind where your stomach goes out not your chest, before eating helps to shift your body to the parasympathetic (or rest and digest state). This helps to prepare the stomach for food and can reduce symptoms of nausea
  • Ginger- Taking ginger at a dose of 250 mg up to 4 times a day was shown by Motherisk to have no associated fetal risks and helps reduce nausea. Ginger can be taken in a capsule, in the form of ginger chews or can be grated and made into a tea that can be sipped throughout the day
  • Pyridoxine (Vitamin B6)- Taking vitamin B6 at a dose of 25 mg 3 times a day has been shown to reduce the frequency of nausea and vomiting. Vitamin B6 can also be helpful for energy
  • Acupuncture- Acupuncture is my go to for women who’s nausea and vomiting has not responded to the above mentioned treatments. One acupressure point that can be helpful is PC 6. It is the point that is stimulated with Sea-Bands, directly above the wrist.

Fatigue

Many women are surprised at how tired they are during the first trimester. Some of this fatigue can be attributed to the hormonal changes associated with pregnancy.

Top 5 Causes of Fatigue in the First Trimester

  • Iron Deficiency- Anemia is common in the first trimester. Taking a high quality prenatal vitamin can help. Foods that are high in iron include: red meat, spinach, lentils, sesame seeds and swiss chard
  • Vitamin B12 Deficiency- Vitamin B12 deficiency is associated with weakness and fatigue and can also cause tingling in the nerves. Foods that are high in Vitamin B12 include: meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and nutritional yeast.
  • Stress- Finding out you are pregnant, even if it was intended, can be a very stressful event. Stress increases your cortisol which can result in fatigue. Deep breathing, self-care, and gentle exercise can help to reduce stress
  • Poor Nutrition- A lack of protein or overall calories can result in fatigue. In the first trimester caloric needs increase by 300-400 cal. Women should be eating 75 g of protein/day to keep energy up
  • Poor Sleep- Stress and increased urinary frequency can lead to a poorer quality of sleep. Try to avoid drinking for 2 hours before bed and implementing stress management techniques.

 

Did you have morning sickness? How bad was it? Post in the comments below

 

To Your Health,

Dr Alexis

 

Dr Alexis practices at Living Science Wellness Centre in Stittsville. She is currently accepting new patients. To book your appointment call 613.836.7901.

Naturopathic Medicine is covered by most extended health insurance benefits.

 

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What Has Happened To Me?! Understanding Your Postpartum Body

What Has Happened To Me?! Understanding Your Postpartum Body

Alexis Reid

 

First off, I want to start by saying your body has just done something truly remarkable! Let’s take a second to think about and acknowledge what you have managed to do in the last 9 months….grow a human! Think about how much energy that took, how many nutrients the little guy or girl drained from you, and how much harder your body had to work for the last 9 months.

New moms are constantly bombarded with the idea of “bouncing back” and how long that is going to take, all while being given the message, the sooner the better by the media. But the truth of the matter is it took 40 weeks for your body to adjust to your pregnancy, and it takes at least that long for your body to recover. Also, there shouldn’t be the assumption that your body will ever go back to the way it was before. It is not assumed that your body will be the same when you are 60 as it was when you were 20! Similarly, after having a baby, your body has gone through a huge life change and may not return exactly to its pre-pregnancy state. Many women’s ribcages expand, their feet grow, or their hair changes texture and these are all normal.

With that being said, there is still a tonne that can be done to help you feel your best postpartum! One of the biggest barriers to feeling like yourself is lack of sleep. Take a minute to think about how you felt when you didn’t get enough sleep pre-baby. Maybe you were up late studying for exams or getting work done. Chances are that you didn’t feel so great! That was only one of the challenges you are facing now, so don’t be so hard on yourself.

How to get Better Quality Sleep

1) Sleep in a cool and 100% dark room

2) Avoid Screens for ½ hour before bed. Screens stimulate your body to make              cortisol, which hinders sleep and can increase the risk of postpartum depression

3) An Epsom salt bath can help you feel more relaxed, by allowing your body absorbing magnesium, which helps with sleep

4) Have the baby sleep wherever you get the best rest, be it in your bed (safely), beside your bed or in another room (if they are old enough)

5) Go to bed when you are tired. Do not try to “push through” and get things done in the evening as often this leads to a second wind which keeps you awake.

 

How to Have More Energy and Get Back to Feeling Like Yourself

1) Seek Help! Don’t try to do it all yourself. A great shower gift for a new mom is some prepared meals, or help with cleaning. Looking after a new baby is a full time job.

2) Drink Plenty of Water. This will help you feel better and also helps with breast milk supply.

3) Bone Broth is your friend. Bone broth contains an abundance of minerals and is easily digestible. Check out one of my favorite easy ways to make bone broth here. The beef bones can be easily substituted for chicken. 

4) Eat Whole, Easily Digestible Foods. Soups, stews, and cooked veggies are great in helping with recovery and helping to make sure your body is getting what it needs.

5) Keep taking your prenatal vitamins. Your body needs those extra nutrients for at least the first 3 months. After 3 months you should be assess by your health care provider to see if you should continue with single supplements (iron, B12, fish oil are commonly needed).

6) Enjoy a Nutritive Tea. This nutritive tea is high in calcium, iron, selenium, chlorophyll and helps uterus return to its pre-pregnancy state. It is safe with breastfeeding and you can have up to 3 cups a day. To make this tea mix together equal parts: Alfalfa (helps promote breastmilk production), Nettle (high in iron), Red Raspberry (helps tone the uterus) and Oatstraw (high in minerals). Take 1 tsp of the blend and steep it in 1 cup of water for at least 10 min. Strain and enjoy.

7) Deep Belly Breathing. Taking deep breaths, where your stomach goes out, not your chest, can help to lower the stress hormone cortisol. Lowering cortisol helps you to get better sleep, reduce the risk of postpartum depression and encourages breastmilk production.

 

This is the first in a series of posts I will be doing on all things postpartum. I hope you found this informative and have left with some tips that are easy for you to implement.

 

If there is anything relating to postpartum that you would like me to write about in a future post, please leave a comment below.

 

Talk Soon,

Dr. Alexis

 

Dr Alexis practices in Kanata and is accepting new patients. To schedule your appointment, click here.  

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