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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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.

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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. 

 

               

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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.

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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. 

 

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