When Acne Hits in Your 20's and 30's

When Acne Hits in Your 20's and 30's

Alexis Reid

I am guessing that you never expected to still have acne in your late 20’s and 30’s? Many of my patients sailed through their teens and early 20’s with perfect skin only to be saddled with what we call “late onset adult acne”. I have a confession to make, I am one of those people. I always had great skin, which is really helpful when you have a skincare line! Then suddenly when I started my practice, my face broke out and didn’t stop for close to 3 years. Why was this happening?!  There I was a “skincare expert” with a face full of acne. I needed this to get fixed, and fast.

 

My research into adult acne over the last 5 years has lead me to a few conclusions about adult onset acne. The most important of which are that it is either

  • Hormone Related
  • Food Related

Allow me to expand, hormones play a critical role in skin health and there are a lot of things working against women from a hormonal perspective in their late 20’s and early 30’s. This is often one of the most stressful times in their lives. They are either working their tails off to establish themselves in their career, having and raising small children, or doing both at the same time. There are often financial struggles that come from paying off student debt while trying to get your first mortgage. The bottom line is this additional stress wreaks havoc on hormones. The stress hormone cortisol rises when we are under stress, it is linked to the fight or flight response. Increased cortisol leads to increased insulin. If you are under chronic stress, then your cortisol is constantly elevated. This means your insulin frequently elevated, which in turn, elevates your testosterone. Testosterone increase acne by increasing oil production on the skin, the acne’s food source.

Acne that is related to increased testosterone tends to develop on the chin and jawline area. Think of the area of a man’s face that is covered by a beard, that is where your testosterone linked acne will be. If it is not bad enough that all this stress is increasing cortisol and increasing testosterone, in your late 20’s and early 30’s your progesterone levels start to naturally decline. When your progesterone levels decline, your estrogen levels “look higher” this also makes your insulin levels spike. Having your hormones starting to work against you makes it all the more important to avoid foods that aggravate acne prone skin.

I also see a number of women who are diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome in their late 20’s and early 30’s. Symptoms of PCOS include: acne, weight gain and hair growth. These are all symptoms of elevated insulin and testosterone. Your acne could be the first sign that you are headed down the path to PCOS. For more about PCOS and how to help reverse it, click here.

 

So how does food play into all of this? Well as I mentioned last week, foods that increase your blood sugar, increase insulin and increase testosterone. But that is not the whole story. When your body has been under stress for many years, this stress causes damage to your digestive system. There is a layer of cells that line your intestines that are supposed to keep proteins within the digestive track. Stress aggravates this layer, leading to it having gaps in it, known as “Leaky Gut”. When your gut is leaky, proteins that are supposed to stay in the digestive track make their way into the bloodstream. These proteins are very inflammatory and can lead to acne.

So What Should You Do

  • Stress Reduction: this does not have to mean yoga and meditation. The best stress reduction is whatever works the best for you. That could be hiring a house cleaner, delegating certain tasks, a night out once a week or exercise. What’s most important is that you implement some strategy to lower your stress
  • Eat the Right Foods: Food is fuel. Don’t give your body garbage
  • Lift Weights: Weight bearing exercise is one of the only ways, besides eating better, to lower your blood sugar. This in turn lowers your insulin and testosterone levels.
  • See a Naturopathic Doctor: I have helped many patients find the ideal eating patterns and exercise for themselves, as well as, prescribing targeted supplements for stress and hormonal balance. I also usually do acupuncture on these patients as it works quite well with helping to regulate hormones.

I hope you found this post helpful. Please share it with your friends and family who may be dealing with adult acne. It can be fixed!

 

Dr Alexis

Dr Alexis practices in Kanata, and is currently accepting new patients

Naturopathic Medicine is covered by most extended insurance benefits

 

 

Read more →

Is What You Are Eating Not Agreeing With Your Breastfed Baby?

Is What You Are Eating Not Agreeing With Your Breastfed Baby?

Alexis Reid

 

Something that I have been seeing in my practice a lot lately, that is not as well-known as I think it should be is the foods you eat while you are breastfeeding can cause food sensitivity reactions in your baby. Before I dive into this topic, I want to start by saying that obviously breast milk is the optimal food for babies, but what you eat does impact the quality and nutritional content of your milk.

When most mom’s think of a food they are eating causing irritation to their baby the first thing that comes to mind is colic. Colic is defined as repeated bouts of excessive crying in a baby who is otherwise healthy. Colic is very common with 28% of infants between the ages of 0-4 months experiencing it. Just because it is common, does not mean it is normal. The exact cause of colic is unknown at this point in time, but many people hypothesize that it could be related to food sensitivities. A study in the Journal of Pediatrics from 2005 showed that mom eating a low allergen diet, one that excluded diary, wheat, eggs, soy, peanuts, tree nuts and fish resulted in a “reduction in distressed behavior among breastfed infants with colic presenting in the first 6 weeks of life”. In addition to removing allergenic foods from your diet, a study from the Journal of Family Medicine in 2011 showed that supplementing baby with probiotics, specifically the strain Lactobacillus reuteri significantly reduced daily crying time in infants with colic.

However, colic is not the only sign that your baby maybe reacting to something that you are eating

4 Signs Your Breastfed Baby May Be Reacting To a Food You Are Eating

  • Reflux- Some amount of “spitting up” is normal (1/2 of all 3 month old babies spit up once a day) and it usually occurs right after eating. If spitting up is more frequent it can be a sign of a food sensitivity. The most common offender is dairy
  • Constipation- This is usually seen once the baby starts solids and can be an indication that they are sensitive to a food that they have been given
  • Diaper Rash- Persistent diaper rash is a common sign of a food sensitivity. Common offenders are: dairy, eggs, tomatoes and citrus
  • Eczema- Common symptom of a food sensitivity in both babies and older children. Usually caused by: dairy, eggs or gluten

Most Common Foods Known to Cause Food Sensitivities in Infants

  • Dairy- This means all dairy: milk, cheese, and yogurt. Buying lactose-free does not make a difference as the sensitivity is to the proteins whey and casein.
  • Soy- Many people who are sensitive to dairy are also sensitive to soy
  • Eggs- Can be an inflammatory food, usually presents as skin reactions (eczema and diaper rash)

Foods That Can Cause Gas in Infants

  • Chocolate- usually OK in small amounts
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Cabbage
  • Onion
  • Garlic

In addition to removing the offending foods from your diet and giving your baby probiotics, you can drink a tea with herbs that help to reduce gas like ginger and fennel. A tummy massage can be helpful to keep things moving along in the intestines. To do a tummy massage on your baby stand at baby’s feet and rub a penny sized amount of castor oil in the clockwise direction on the tummy.

Did your baby suffer from colic?

Talk Soon,

Dr Alexis

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

Naturopathic Medicine is covered by most extended insurance benefits.

Read more →

Resources to Help You Thrive During Postpartum

Resources to Help You Thrive During Postpartum

Alexis Reid

Being a new parent is very overwhelming! There is so much that people do not tell you/you are not prepared for. While most moms feel very happy and joyful the first few days, these feeling often change into overwhelm, anxiety and sadness. A big part of the emotional shift is due to the rapidly changing levels of hormones that occur in the first 6 weeks postpartum.

Another reason that many new moms are suffering, often in silence, is lack of family and community support in our modern culture. In generations gone by, it was common place for the new mom’s mother, aunts and sisters to live close by and be available to help look after and support the new mom on the roller coaster ride of parenthood. The role of the other women was to take care of the new mom and the day to day workings of the house (laundry, cooking, grocery shopping) so that mom and baby can learn baby’s cues and bond. Today it is common for new parents to come home with little to no help or support and find themselves having to do all of the regular day to day household chores, while mom tries to recover and bond with baby. To make matter worse, dad or mom’s partner, usually doesn’t get much time off before they have to go back to work, leaving mom home to understandable get overwhelmed and anxious.

Today I want to cover ways to break this cycle and how to set new moms up to thrive by providing them with the resources that they need

  • Postpartum Doula- Many people have heard of a birth doula, but many do not know what a postpartum doula has to offer. A postpartum doula is trained to understand what new babies and new moms truly need. They provide emotional support for mom, can help with chores around the house, are experienced at soothing babies, breast and bottle support and can help reassure mom and dad about newborn behaviors. Having a doula can help to reduce anxiety for mom and help her to get more sleep.
  • Lactation Consultant- Yes, breastfeeding is natural, but that doesn’t mean it is easy! It is a different experience for every mom and baby duo and many moms experience difficulties with their second baby even if things were smooth sailing with the first. It is important to see a qualified lactation consultant to get assessed if you are having pain or difficulty with breastfeeding. Causes of pain/difficulty include a tongue or lip tie, improper/inefficient latch and candida.
  • Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy- Many women will experience pain, urinary incontinence or organ prolapse after giving birth. A common misconception is that if a woman had a caesarean section that her pelvic floor should be in tip top shape. Adhesions from the birth can cause problems for the pelvic floor. All women should be assessed at 6-8 weeks postpartum and receive appropriate treatment. A pelvic floor physiotherapist can also assess for diastasis recti and can help to rehab these muscles.
  • Massage- Massage can help speed postpartum recovery. It is a good way to help reduce anxiety, stress, swelling, and pain from sitting in awkward positions feeding and carrying baby. Studies have shown it can help with hormone regulation resulting in better success with breastfeeding and better sleep. Most massage therapists who focus on postpartum are totally ok with baby coming along for the visit. A postpartum massage definitely makes a great gift for a new mom.
  • Meal Preparation- Being a new parent is exhausting. Having proper nutrition can help reduce mom’s stress levels, help with breast milk production, and facilitate better sleep and energy. Preparing healthy, easy to digest meals before baby is born is one simple way to ease the load once baby arrives.
  • Naturopathic Doctor- A Naturopathic Doctor can help the new mom for problems with their thyroid, nutrient deficiencies, anxiety, stress and helping the body to recover. Your ND can run lab tests to check on thyroid, iron and B12 to name a few. They are a great resource for which nutrients and herbs you should be taking to optimize your recovery and will make sure anything you are taking is safe while breastfeeding.  

List of Resources for New Parents both global and Local (I am located in Ottawa)

Postpartum Doulas- Dona, National Capital Doulas, Bell’s Babies, Ottawa Bliss Doula, Ottawa Postpartum Doulas, Ottawa Family Doula

Lactation Consultants- Newman Breastfeeding Clinic, City of Ottawa Breastfeeding Supports, Ottawa Valley Lactation Consultants, Milkface, Mothercraft, Robin’s Nest Family Care

Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy- Core Connections, Lisa Flanders, Andrea Plitz, Pelvienne Wellness

Massage- Anna Belanger and Associates, Kneaded Touch

Meal Preparation- Healthy Freezer Meals, Slow Cooker Freezer Meals, Supperworks

Naturopathic Doctors-  Dr Alexis Reid,  Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors, Ontario Association of Naturopathic Doctors 

 

I hope you found this blog to be helpful for feeling your best postpartum!

What did you find the most helpful for recovering after baby?

 

Talk Soon,

Dr. Alexis

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

Naturopathic Medicine is covered by most extended insurance benefits. 

 

               

Read more →

Getting Through The First 6 Weeks- Your Postpartum Survival Guide

Getting Through The First 6 Weeks- Your Postpartum Survival Guide

Alexis Reid

You made it! You got through pregnancy, labour, birth and now you are in the “postpartum period.” Many women find that this is the time that they have a knowledge gap. You did a lot of reading during your pregnancy on what to expect at each stage, what steps you could take to optimize your health, what foods and drinks you needed and needed to avoid, what vitamins and minerals you needed more of. You get the picture. Same thing when it comes to labour and delivery. You most likely took a pre-natal class where you learned what to expect during labour, different options for your birth and how to care for a newborn. But who here took a postpartum class? My guess is no one. No one prepares you for what to expect for yourself postpartum. The focus is all on the pregnancy and birth with the assumption that things will just go back to normal once the baby is born. This thought process couldn’t be further from the truth. Many women are shocked at just how exhausted they are postpartum. You may encounter issues with your thyroid gland, or be left with low levels of iron after delivery. You may not realize how much you need to rest and are pushing yourself too hard. In today’s blog post I am going to go over some simple steps you can take to help your body function optimally during the postpartum period.

Top 10 Tips to Feel Your Best in the First 6 weeks Postpartum

  • Easily Digestible Foods- Nutrient rich foods that do not make the digestive system work over time are your friend. Reach for soups, stews and bone broth (high in iodine, magnesium and calcium).
  • Ditch The Coffee- Before you throw something at me, hear me out. Coffee (and other higher sources of caffeine) can put a strain on your adrenal glands, cause blood sugar spikes, jitters, increase irritability and negatively impact the little sleep you may be getting. Coffee can also be irritating to baby’s digestion. Alternative to try include: green tea, nettle tea, red raspberry and mother’s milk tea if supply is an issue.
  • Fluids- Staying hydrated is important for breast milk production and your recovery. Drinking plenty of water is helpful (6-8 glasses/day). It is also a good idea to add some lemon to water and/or drink cranberry juice in water as it helps to alkalinize the urine and reduce the risk of UTI’s.
  • Keep Taking Your Prenatal Vitamins- Your body has just gone through a hugely stressful event. If you are also breastfeeding, your nutrient demand is way up. Continuing on your prenatal vitamins helps to ensure you have your bases covered.
  • Fish Oil/Omega 3’s- Can help reduce the risk of postpartum depression. They are also a great anti-inflammatory and can help support your thyroid postpartum.
  • Probiotics- Are helping for regulating your digestion and immune system postpartum. Newer research is linking a lack of bacterial diversity in the intestines to an increased risk of anxiety and depression.
  • Vitamin C- Vital for tissue healing and maintaining your immune system. This can be taken as a supplement, or obtained via foods. Foods that are high in vitamin C are: oranges, red pepper, kale, strawberries and raspberries. Smoothies can be a great way to get these foods into your diet and makes them easier to digest
  • Iron- If you had a lot of blood loss with your delivery, it could have impacted your iron levels. If you are feeling very tired (more than you think you should be) it is a good idea to get your ion, vitamin B12 and thyroid levels checked. A Naturopathic Doctor can do this for you.
  • Prunes- Yes you read that right! Prunes are your friend the first 6 weeks postpartum. Your first bowel movement post birth is something everyone dreads. Eating 1-2 prunes/day along with inulin fibre, will make it smooth sailing
  • Sitz Bath Soak- Although not mainstream yet, you definitely want to get your hands on one. A Sitz Bath Soak is a blend of herbs that you steep and add either to a sitz bath or to your bath tub. They are designed to help tissues heal faster, reduce inflammation, and help ease discomfort.

So there you have it! How were your first 6 weeks postpartum? Was it what you were expecting? Please leave a comment below.

Talk Soon!

Dr Alexis

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

Naturopathic Medicine is covered by most extended healthcare benefits.

Read more →

What To Do When You Are Pregnant And Have A Cold Or Flu

What To Do When You Are Pregnant And Have A Cold Or Flu

Alexis Reid

This is an appropriate post for today, as we are experiencing one of our coldest days this fall here in Ottawa. The change of season is a common time for people to get a cold or flu as the body is under extra stress from the outside environment. In today’s blog I will cover natural ways to reduce your risk of colds/flus and how to get feeling better quickly if you are under the weather. While these tips are directed at pregnant women, many of them apply to the whole family.

One of the things many women don’t think about before they are pregnant is, what they are going to do when they get any number of their “normal” complaints, colds, flus, headaches, allergies etc. I am calling them “normal” because it is not normal to be getting multiple colds and flus anytime and indicates that your immune system could use some TLC. Don’t worry, I will cover ways you can work to support your immune system today. When you are pregnant, you can’t simply reach for your favorite over the counter medication, which leaves many people feeling stranded and desperate. Pregnancy is a time when you are forced to look for alternatives and you may be pleasantly surprised with what you find!

As always, the best medicine is prevention and this is no different when it comes to colds and flus.

Top 5 Ways to Prevent Colds and Flus While Pregnant

  • Hand Washing- This should be a no-brainer as it has been hammered home since childhood. Reducing the amount of bacteria/viruses on your hands, reduces your risk of becoming sick. Do not use antibacterial soaps. A natural, castile based soap and water, washing for 20 seconds is just as effective.
  • Reduce Stress- Stress is well known to lower your immune response, making you more susceptible to colds and flus. Incorporate deep belly breathing, 10 breaths 3 times a day into your day. You can also use pregnancy as a time to start delegating tasks and lightening your load before baby arrives.
  • Sleep- Similarly to stress, lack of sleep lowers the immune system. You may have read on my blog post on adrenals that the most restorative sleep happens between 10 pm and midnight. Aiming to be sleep by 10 pm helps to support your immune system.
  • Fruits and Vegetables- Yes fruits and vegetables contain vitamin C, which can help reduce the duration of colds and flus, but they contain phytochemicals beyond just their vitamin and mineral content that can help keep you healthy. Soups and smoothies are a good way to get plenty of fruits and vegetables into the diet.
  • Vitamin D- Not only does it reduce your baby’s risk of eczema and food sensitivities, it has been shown to help keep your immune system functioning optimally

Top 5 Ways to Naturally Manage Colds and Flus

  • Reduce Your Sugar Intake- Sugar substantially reduces the ability of white blood cells to kill bacteria and viruses. At the first sign of illness, take a sugar hiatus
  • Probiotics- Probiotics have been shown to boost your body’s white blood cell response to invaders. Probiotics can also help reduce your risk of yeast infections
  • Garlic and Ginger- Both have antibacterial and antiviral properties. Add raw garlic to your food, and make yourself a ginger tea. Ginger tea can also help with nausea
  • Honey and Onions- You are going to smell great! Just kidding, the onions actually don’t smell as they are masked by the honey. Take raw honey, preferably one from a farmer’s market so that it is local to you, and cut up a white onion. Cover the onion with honey and keep in the fridge. You can take a tablespoon of this mixture over the course of the day up to 5 times. Both onions and honey have antibacterial and antiviral properties. This is helpful for sore throats as well. Raw honey is safe for use during pregnancy, as adults have the bacteria in their intestine to neutralize the botulism toxin. Raw honey is not safe for infants under 1, as their bacteria are not mature
  • Echinacea- Can help to reduce the duration of colds/flus when taken immediately at the first sign of symptoms. Research on Echinacea has not shown any adverse effects during pregnancy, but the research is still limited. Motherisk is a great resource for what is safe during pregnancy.

As always, it is a good idea to talk to your health care practitioner if you have any questions or concerns about what is safe to take when you are pregnant.

You may have noticed that I have left vitamin C off of the list. Vitamin C in the amount you would get from food or from a prenatal vitamin has been shown to be safe. At higher levels (2000-3000 mg) there have been studies that show it can increase the risk of premature rupture of the membranes. Other studies have not shown this correlation. Until the research is more definitive it is a good idea to avoid high dose vitamin C during pregnancy.

Did you have a cold or flu when you were pregnant? How did you manage?

Talk Soon,

Dr Alexis

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

 

Read more →

Leg Cramps, UTI’s and Headaches? Welcome to Your Second Trimester

Leg Cramps, UTI’s and Headaches? Welcome to Your Second Trimester

Alexis Reid

By now most you are most likely starting to feel some relief from the morning sickness and fatigue that has plagued you during your first trimester. Just when you think you are going to be feeling like your old self again, these second trimester surprises can pop up: Leg Cramps, Urinary Tract Infections and Headaches.

I know what you are thinking, you had always heard that the second trimester was smooth sailing! For some women it is, but for many their ailments just change form. Rest assured though that many second trimester complaints are easily managed by naturopathic medicine. In today’s blog, I will go over the best natural treatments for Leg Cramps, Urinary Tract Infections and Headaches

The Second Trimester

Leg Cramps

The leg cramps I am talking about here are the kind that make you jump out of bed screaming in the middle of the night. I have had multiple patients who would have to stop dead in their tracks, unable to walk, the cramps were so bad. So why do these intense leg cramps happen? Leg cramps tend to start between 22-24 weeks because that is the time when the baby’s skeletal growth really takes off. The baby is needing more calcium and magnesium to form its bones and takes from the mother’s stores. If mom’s stores are not sufficient she will begin to experience intense leg cramps. These cramps can be easily remedied by supplementing with calcium and magnesium. It is important to always discuss dosages and supplements you are taking with your health care provider. Magnesium must be discontinued by 36 weeks, as it can decrease the strength of uterine contractions.

Urinary Tract Infections

During the second trimester there can be a lot of hormonal changes to the urinary tract. In addition, a growing uterus presses on the bladder, preventing its complete emptying. Urine that stays in the bladder for an extended period of time can become a source of infection.

Top 5 Ways To Reduce Your Risk Of Urinary Tract Infections

  • Drink Plenty of Water- helps to flush out bacteria. Aim for 1.5-2L/ day
  • Unsweetened Cranberry Juice- Cranberry juice disrupts the ability of the bacteria to adhere to the urinary tract
  • Wiping from Front to Back- Prevents bacteria from the anus from spreading to the vagina and urethra
  • Probiotics- Provide “good bacteria” which makes it more difficult for the bad bacteria to adhere to the urinary tract
  • Avoid Drinks That May Irritate the Bladder- Coffee and citrus juice can cause bladder irritation that can be mistaken for the symptoms of a urinary tract infection.

Headaches

How to manage headaches during pregnancy is often of the greatest concern to my patients. Headaches are one of those ailments that often get “fixed’ by popping an Advil or Tylenol which is not the best choice when pregnant.

Top 5 Headache Remedies For Pregnancy

  • Stay Hydrated- Dehydration is a leading cause of headaches. Aim for 1.5- 2L of water/day
  • Magnesium- If your headache is caused from tension, magnesium can help to relax the muscles
  • Acupuncture- Helpful for both migraine and tension headaches
  • Cool Compress- Applied to the back of the neck can help ease pain
  • Avoiding Mucous Forming Foods- If you have a sinus type headache, avoiding foods that cause more mucous like dairy, banana and avocados can help to relieve some pressure.

Did you experience leg cramps? Post in the comments below

To Your Health,

Dr Alexis

 

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

Naturopathic Medicine is covered by most extended health insurance benefits.

 

 

 

 

 

Read more →

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.

 

Read more →

Is Dairy the Devil?

Is Dairy the Devil?

Alexis Reid4 comments

I grew up in a family of dairy farmers, and was always a milk drinker. It’s hard to come of age during the “Got Milk” era and not think that dairy is the best thing since sliced bread. Back in 1994, if it was good enough for Doug Gilmour and his cow legs, it was good enough for me. I didn’t just have a little dairy. I was a 3-4 glasses of milk a day plus yogurt and cottage cheese kind of teenager. It wasn’t until I was in Naturopathic School that I started to question dairy. I had long standing sinus congestion and post nasal drip and when I stopped drinking 3-4 glasses of milk a day these symptoms magically disappeared.

Fast forward to today in my practice and the subject of “Is Dairy the Devil” is something that comes up on a daily basis. One of the first things I like to talk about with patients is the different components of dairy that people can be sensitive to. There is lactose intolerance and then there is sensitivity to the proteins in dairy; whey and casein.

Lactose Intolerance vs Dairy Sensitivity

  • Lactose Intolerance- happens when people are deficient in the enzyme lactase making them unable to properly break down lactose, the sugar in milk.
  • Whey and/or Casein Sensitivity- Casein is the main protein found in dairy products. When someone has a sensitivity, the proteins can get through the permeable and inflamed gut wall and the body attacks the protein, as it is not supposed to be there

One of the most common misconceptions I find with my patients is they think that by switching to lactose-free dairy they can negate any of the sensitivity issues with dairy. This is not the case, as both whey and casein are still present in lactose-free products.

Dairy and Calcium

In North America we have been told for years that we need to consume dairy to make sure we have adequate calcium intake and to reduce the risk of osteoporosis, especially for women. While dairy does contain a good amount of calcium, the correlation to reduction in fractures and osteoporosis has not been seen. In the Nurse’s Health Study the opposite effect was observed. Those who consumed the most dairy had 50% more fractures. From an epidemiological standpoint, countries with the lowest rates of dairy intake, like those in Africa and Asia, also have the lowest rates of osteoporosis. You may have also noticed recently or been told by your doctor, naturopathic doctor or pharmacist to reduce the amount of supplemental calcium you take on a daily basis. This is due to a study released in 2013 by the National Institutes of Health showing that taking more than 1500 mg of calcium/day was associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. The current guideline is supplementing with no more than 1000 mg/day.

Bone Health

Dairy and calcium are not the be all and end all for bone health either. Newer research has shown that Vitamin D (which many people are deficient in in Canada), Vitamin K2, and magnesium all work together with calcium to support bone health.

Dairy, Calcium and Cancer

The research on whether having a high intake of dairy increases your risk of cancer has been mixed. Dairy contains relatively high levels of Insulin Like Growth Factor 1, (IGF-1), which is a known cancer promoter because it is a stimulus for high cell growth rate. Recent studies have shown that dairy may be linked to hormonal cancers such as prostate, testicular, breast and ovarian.

Calcium Alternatives

Once my patients have been determined to be sensitive to dairy, the next question is always about other ways to get their calcium. Foods that are good sources of calcium are:

                -Dark Leafy Green Vegetables

                -Sesame Seed and Tahini

                -Salmon with the Bones

                -Sea Vegetables

Aside from all we have already talked about regarding dairy, it is a food that many people are sensitive to. For those who are lactose intolerant, they usually experience digestive symptoms like bloating, cramps, gas and diarrhea. The symptoms however of a sensitivity to whey or casein (the proteins in dairy) are much more varied.

Signs You Could Have a Dairy Sensitivity

  • Gas/Bloating- Can happen with both dairy sensitivity and lactose intolerance
  • Post Nasal Drip- Dairy is a mucous forming food
  • Sinus Congestion/Infections- From the increased mucous production
  • Acne- Dairy contains IGF-1 which increases insulin and inflammation. People will often get acne around their mouth and on their chin with a dairy sensitivity
  • PCOS- IGF-1 increases insulin which causes the ovaries to make androgens like testosterone
  • Eczema- Dairy is inflammatory, and can cause eczema flares
  • Insomnia- This is especially common in children

Everyone responds a little differently to dairy. To find out how your body is responding, remove all forms of dairy for one month and see how you feel.

Do you consume dairy? Share in the comments below

Talk Soon,

Dr Alexis

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

Naturopathic medicine is covered by most extended health care benefits. 

Read more →

Magnesium, The Mineral Superstar!

Magnesium, The Mineral Superstar!

Alexis Reid1 comment

 

When it comes to minerals, there is one clear cut superstar, magnesium! Magnesium is involved in over 300 reactions in the body.

Magnesium plays a major role in:

  • Bone Development and Maintenance
  • Blood Sugar Control
  • Heart Rhythms
  • Muscle Contractions
  • Blood Pressure Regulation
  • Regulating Stress Hormones

50-60% of the body’s stores of magnesium are present in the bones, with the remainder being found in the soft tissue. This makes levels difficult to assess via a blood test. How do you know if you are low in magnesium?

10 Signs You Could Have A Magnesium Deficiency

  • Under A Lot of Stress- This is a double edged sword, as stress causes magnesium deficiency and being deficient in magnesium amplifies the body’s stress response.
  • Anxiety and Insomnia-The nervous system needs adequate amounts of magnesium to function properly.
  • Muscle Cramps/Spasms/Pain and Eye Twitches- Magnesium is required for muscle relaxation.
  • More than 7 Alcoholic Beverages/Week- Alcohol increases magnesium excretion by the kidneys.
  • Taking Calcium Supplements Without Magnesium or Without Magnesium in a 1:1 Ratio- When magnesium levels are low calcium supplementation may further lower magnesium. Magnesium helps calcium to get absorbed into the bones and helps prevent excess calcium from forming plaques in the arteries.
  • Chocolate Cravings- It’s not just the sugar your body is craving, it’s the magnesium
  • Taking a Diuretic, Heart Medication, Asthma Medication, Birth Control Pills, or Estrogen Replacement Therapy- These types of drugs increase magnesium excretion by the kidneys.
  • Drinking Coffee or Tea Daily- The caffeine in coffee and tea causes the kidneys to excrete more magnesium.
  • Regularly Eating Desserts, Candies and Other Sweets- Refined sugar also increases the body’s excretion of magnesium.
  • Drinking Carbonated Beverages Regularly- Phosphates in carbonated beverages bind with magnesium in the digestive track making it not able to be absorbed by the body.

 Foods That Are High In Magnesium 

  • Pumpkin Seeds- 1/4 cup provides 48% of daily needs.
  • Spinach- 1 cup provides 39% of daily needs.
  • Swiss Chard- 1 cup provides 38% of daily needs.
  • Sesame Seeds- 1/4 cup provides 32% of daily needs.
  • Cashews- ¼ cup provides 29% of daily needs

 In my practice, I see many patients that benefit from magnesium supplementation. I routinely use magnesium to help treat

Magnesium has minimal side effects. The one major side effect to look out for is loose stools. If someone is getting lose stools, it means that they are taking too high of a magnesium dose. I generally recommend starting with 200 mg of magnesium bisglycinate before bed and increasing to 800 mg over a few days, as long as stools have not become too loose.

For people experiencing constipation, I recommend they take magnesium citrate as it is even more likely to cause loose stools.

Another way to get magnesium into the body, and to practice some vital self-care, is by taking Epsom Salt baths. Epsom Salts are magnesium sulphate and they are quite effective at reducing muscle and joint pain. To get the full effect from the bath, add 1-2 cups of Epsom Salts to the bath and soak for at least 20 min.

Magnesium is generally well tolerated, and has a low risk of interaction, but you should talk to your health care provider before taking it if you are taking and medications

 

Talk Soon,

Dr Alexis

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

 

 

Read more →

How To Feel Less Stressed Today

How To Feel Less Stressed Today

Alexis Reid

 

Let’s face it stress is everywhere. Something that I find myself telling my patients on an almost daily basis is that your body cannot tell the difference between different kinds of stress. All it knows is things are not good! The causes of tress on the body can take many forms: lack of sleep, too much exercise, poor nutrition, relationship problems, work deadlines, the list goes on. There are also surprising causes that many people don’t consider; you may think that you are doing something positive for your health by exercising A LOT and eating a super restrictive diet, but that plan could be backfiring.

 

What happens to our bodies when we are stressed?

  • A hormonal cascade initiating a sequence that ends with the stress hormone cortisol
  • Cortisol is our fight or flight hormone- essentially your body thinks it is being chased by a bear
  • This causes an increase in
    1. Blood Sugar (Not good for PCOS and Diabetes)
    2. Heart Rate
    3. Blood Pressure
    4. Inflammation
  • Reduced Immune System
    1. Frequent colds and flus
  • Digestive Upset that leads to
    1. Heartburn
    2. Diarrhea
    3. Bloating
  • Female Hormonal Changes
    1. Reduced Fertility
    2. Painful Periods
    3. PMS
    4. Reduced Libido
  • Lack of Focus/Concentration/Memory

 

Another common cause of stress I see is doing everything for everyone else and putting yourself last. As they say on airplanes, you have to put on your own oxygen mask first. If you implement the following simple changes, you will have more energy to do all the things you want to do. But, you have to make yourself and your health a priority. Are you ready to put you first?

If stress is unavoidable, does that mean that there is nothing that can be done about it? Not at all. Having a baseline level of stress is good, it is when stress gets too high that problems arise.

5 Ways to Lower Your Stress Today

  • Deep Breathing- The kind in which you expand your stomach when you breathe in has been shown in studies to lower cortisol, due to stimulating the vagus nerve. To get maximum relaxation effect: take a deep breath in for 4 counts, hold for 5 counts and breathe out for 6 counts. Aim for 10 of these breaths/day.
  • Sleep- According to Chinese Medicine, being asleep between the hours of 10 pm- midnight allows for the adrenal glands (where cortisol is made) to repair and regulate themselves. Can’t make it there for 10 pm? Be sure to get to bed by 11 pm to take advantage of this window.
  • Take a Cold Shower- Try ending your shower with a 30 second blast of cold water. You can then alternate between hot and cold three times, ending on cold. This helps to stimulate circulation and lymph and reduces cortisol. Can’t stand the cold? It just needs to be a temperature difference. Start with going from hot to luke warm and work your way up.
  • Have a Sleepytime Tea….during the day- The strength of the herbs in sleepytime teas aren’t strong enough to be sedating, but they do work well for relaxation purposes, which lowers cortisol
  • Pop Some Magnesium- Magnesium Bisglycinate is known as nature’s muscle relaxant. It also helps combat the effects of stress and improves sleep. Start with 200 mg, ½ hour before bed and can increase to 800 mg. If you are taking too much magnesium you will notice looser stools.

 

Are you suffering from too much stress? Have you found anything that works well for you? Please post it below in the comments

 

Talk Soon,

 

Dr Alexis

 

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

Naturopathic Medicine is covered by most extended health insurance benefits 

 

Read more →