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Vitamin D to the Rescue! Your Secret Weapon During the Cold & Flu Season

Posted by on Jan 8, 2013 in Featured, Health, How-To's | Comments Off on Vitamin D to the Rescue! Your Secret Weapon During the Cold & Flu Season

Vitamin D to the Rescue! Your Secret Weapon During the Cold & Flu Season

(Image: “sunflowers” by Exsodus / FreeDigitalPhotos.net) We have been hearing more and more about the impressive benefits of Vitamin D intake. In particular, we are now finding out that Vitamin D can help boost your immune system to better ward off colds and flu, especially important for Canadians during the winter months. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is actually more like a precursor to steroid hormones. It is made by our skin from exposure to UV light from the sun. Decreased exposure to sunlight in the fall and winter months in Toronto means that our bodies are producing less Vitamin D naturally. There are multiple forms of Vitamin D, but the one that is best used in the body is Vitamin D3. Recent research supports the theory that low sunlight exposure and secondary deficiencies of vitamin D underlie susceptibility to colds and influenza. It turns out that the anti-microbial cells that line the respiratory tract are dependent on Vitamin D. As a result, by acting on these immune cells, Vitamin D prevents lung infections associated with influenza. So how to do you make sure that you’re getting enough Vitamin D? Individual Vitamin D requirements can vary considerably so it’s best to have your Vitamin D levels tested through a simple blood test done by either your Naturopathic or Medical Doctor. The best lab test is 25-hydroxy-Vitamin D. Based on your blood testing and medical history, your Naturopathic Doctor can assess and make recommendations to meet your individual Vitamin D needs. Once you have determined your Vitamin D status, there are several options to increase your levels. These include sunshine exposure, food sources and supplementation. Most people meet at least some of their Vitamin D needs through sunlight exposure. UV radiation penetrates the skin and is converted to Vitamin D. The amount of Vitamin D made by your body can depend on the level of cloud cover, sunscreen use, time of day and season. It has been suggested that for the average person, without an existing Vitamin D deficiency, 30 minutes, 2-3 times per week of sun exposure between 10am and 3pm leads to adequate vitamin D synthesis. In addition to sunshine, fortified foods tend to provide most of the Vitamin D in the Canadian diet (milk and margarine are fortified by), but the best natural food sources are fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel) and fish liver oils. Small amounts can also be obtained from beef liver, cheese, egg yolks and mushrooms. In some cases, food sources and sunshine are not adequate and supplementation with Vitamin D3 may be required. There a number of good Vitamin D3 supplements available. The dose can range from 2000IU to 5000IU per day. Drop form is more convenient and slightly better absorbed than capsules or...

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Healthy Habits for Travel, Office and Home

Posted by on Jan 4, 2013 in Featured, Health, How-To's | Comments Off on Healthy Habits for Travel, Office and Home

Healthy Habits for Travel, Office and Home

In my previous two posts [ post 1 | post 2 ], I wrote about my amazing experience of Beijing. I still think fondly of my 45 degree climb up the Great Wall of China. Reconnecting with family on our walking tours and over meals was wonderful and rejuvenating. Sharing meals with my new friends made the trip even more joyful. And practising simple healthy habits made it possible to enjoy the experience and feel energetic, happy and relaxed. On my previous post, I mentioned regular Network Spinal Care, daily yoga and healthier food choices were 3 ways that I stayed healthy on my trip. With NSA, I arrived in Beijing with a healthy nervous system and a healthy spine. Daily yoga helped me limber up and start my day with more energy. Healthy meals provided clean-burning fuel to sustain my well-being. The key to health was to continue practising my daily healthy habits and modify them to suit my day. Without further ado, the last of my healthy habits during my Beijing trip!   Early to bed Our days usually started with rising early at 6:00am. I typically need 8 hours of sleep nightly to feel refreshed the next day which meant I was in bed by 10:00pm. This was not the easiest goal as we would return to our hotel room as late as 8:30pm. I got to bed quickly by cutting down on the electronics: namely the television and cell phone. This helped me to maximize my time to wind down from the day with a nice slow shower and personal care. Stay hydrated Experts say that we need at least 2-3 litres of water every day to stay properly hydrated. When counting your intake, remember that beverages and foods are both sources of water. Our tour guide and bus driver provided bottled water during our trip which was very considerate in light of Beijing’s questionable drinking water safety (http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/722561.shtml). A combination of bottled water and lots of fruits and vegetables – both water-rich foods – made it easy for me to stay hydrated.   Keep moving, especially when seated! Do you know what children do after they sit for more than a brief moment? They get restless and move around! This is a perfect reflection of our body’s intelligence to keep tension under control. Every few minutes on my trip, I would lean from one side to the other. Then I’d slouch forward for a few minutes, and then sit upright. I would twist one way, and then twist the other. And of course, if I could safely stand and move around I would do that too. Moving around is important to manage tension. Whether it be on vacation, at home or at the office, if you sit still for more than a few minutes certain tissues in your body will start to compress, stretch and strain. The only way to counteract the load is to switch positions regularly so that the strained tissues get a break and share the load with other parts of your body.   SRI SRI stands for Somato Respiratory Integration (click to read more) and is an incredibly effective tool for enhancing the breath and releasing built-up tension. It’s so simple and that anyone could learn it in a single session and enjoy right away the benefits of regular practice. I used it to help me to sleep each night as well as whenever I felt tension build up. There are 12 different stages of SRI that can be practised, and the simplest and most frequent stage I practice is stage 1. See below...

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Sunshine Breaks

Posted by on Dec 28, 2012 in Featured, Quotes & Thoughts, Short Entries | Comments Off on Sunshine Breaks

Sunshine Breaks

Winter is upon us and as the evening dusk descends earlier, it is imperative that we take what I like to call ‘sunshine breaks.’  On the smallest scale, my daily sunshine break is taking a midday walk outside, enjoying a warm dose of afternoon sun as it warms the earth.  It is very important to have exposure to sunlight as it affects the production of vitamin D and its role of helping to absorb calcium in the body.  The combination of fresh air, break from work, and daylight sun (even if it’s just for ten to fifteen minutes) can help provide our bodies with a subtle boost!    Mid-winter mini sunshine breaks are good too, especially post-holiday season.  Going away for a weekend and getting a hit of sun can be very refreshing and good for the soul.  Of course if you can take a fuller, longer vacation away, that’s even better!  Being immersed in sunshine can lift spirits, cause feelings of rejuvenation and allow us to get away from the everyday routine.  It can provide us with a sunny escape to feel like we’ve been gone away for a long time, only to be welcomed back happily to our daily lives.   So go ahead, take your Sunshine Break!   [Image...

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New Holiday Rituals

Posted by on Dec 13, 2012 in Events, Featured, Uncategorized | Comments Off on New Holiday Rituals

New Holiday Rituals

The prospect of holidays can be dismal for some of us. Especially when we’ve lost someone near and dear to us. This is the situation facing my family and I as we head into December without mom. Our holiday season starts on December 19th which marks the day of the family’s patron saint, St. Nicholas (following the Julian calendar) and it continues through until Christmas Day on January 7th (One could count it even further to the new year marked on the 14th of January). Quite honestly , the holidays always ran a tad overlong for me. I did, however, enjoy cooking with mom and preparing the feast for St. Nicholas as it was a (mostly – fish being permitted) vegan occasion. It began with brainstorming what we wanted to cook as in later years she was quite open to trying new dishes (yay!) instead of simply eliminating the meat and dairy from the usual fare (thereby eliciting complaints and feelings of deprivation from the carnivorous food critics in the clan). Think baked beans and cabbage rolls minus the greasy pork that most claimed was the necessary, and missing, piece. Last year, mom and I left dad at home and did all of our grocery shopping, just the two of us. And for the first time, because she was in pain, she allowed me to do much of the work. When it came time for the meal, she actually sat down with all who had come to join us. This was a first, that she didn’t hover and keep filling plates, and keep working to feed all of her guests. It’s how we all saw that she really wasn’t doing well and that in likelihood she wouldn’t be around next year. And here we are. As I spent the time with her last year, I felt this would be the last time for us and I felt driven to promise silently that I would continue this tradition of cooking on this day and honouring the spirit of her patron saint, whose spirit is one of spreading kindness and generosity. And so, facing the holidays without her, I feel the need to create new rituals to honour and remember her. My sisters and I will gather and craft a simple yet nourishing and inspired meal. We’ll probably make the baked beans, maybe there will be some fish. The key piece will be the cabbage rolls. Mom was an intuitive cook and liked to be spontaneous and in doing so was capable of crafting some truly delicious dishes (and then never be able to recreate them because she couldn’t remember all that had gone into them!). In that spirit, the cabbage rolls will be made and brought to Source Centre to share with all who come. Alongside some other nibbles, apple cider and more. I hope you will be able to join us and share a toast this holiday...

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When It Rains It Pours

Posted by on Dec 10, 2012 in Featured, Health, How-To's, Quotes & Thoughts | Comments Off on When It Rains It Pours

When It Rains It Pours

I have personally been dealing with a lot of potentially stressful challenges  lately.  Now, the reason I say “potentially” is because nothing is actually stressful until it is perceived by the nervous system as stress.  That said, I have also noticed that many of my clients and friends have been experiencing an abundance of potential stressors recently.    The expression “when it rains it pours” comes to mind in these situations.  It is interesting how this can often be the case in our lives where challenges are concerned.  They can often pile up leaving us feeling overwhelmed, helpless, anxious or drained of energy.  The cumulative effect of compounding experiences can have a significant impact on our health and wellbeing and on our ability to manage our stress  When I have a lot to deal with, I am especially grateful to be able to call upon the strategies I have learned in my body and life through my process of healing.     What I know about stress in the body is that if we want to be able to handle stress and actually process and learn from our experience of it, we need to create an environment of peace within the body.  When the body is at ease then it has the chance to be able to process stress.  If the body is in a state of overwhelm, this capacity is significantly diminished.  It is also very difficult to process things with only the mind.  When we can use the whole bodymind to process we have much more capacity.  This is why choosing actions to help us move into our bodies at times like these are especially valuable.   When I am faced with a lot of potential stress, it is vital for me to choose actions that will help me stay present and connected to myself and my body, which takes me out of thinking and worrying and into feeling and processing.  Here are some strategies I use for connecting with my body and processing potential stressors:    Increase my frequency of Network Chiropractic Entrainments Increase my frequency of Somato Respiratory Integration Exercises Doing whatever actions are necessary to deal with the practicality of my situation(s) Practice other body centered techniques I have learned (i.e. meditation, focusing, body scan, pelvic awareness, grounding) Practicing faith, trust and surrender Exercise Yoga, especially restorative yoga Journaling Spending time in nature Connecting with family and friends and sharing my situation and feelings with them Dancing Playing guitar Doing anything creative Getting good rest Eating clean and healthy food   Certainly, there can be times when I am so overwhelmed that I feel like I don’t have access to any strategies.  This is when it is the most difficult to take actions like I am suggesting above because when we are in overwhelm, or fight or flight, we do not think clearly.  However, when I choose to utilize my strategies I am more able to harness the pouring rain and use it to nourish my healing process to allow myself to...

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Healthy Travels

Posted by on Dec 3, 2012 in Featured, Health, How-To's | Comments Off on Healthy Travels

Healthy Travels

Want to enjoy the sightseeing, the company with fellow travelers, and the local cuisine while staying healthy along the way? I found myself in this very scenario while travelling to Beijing in October 2012 (and wrote about it on my previous blog post here). Beijing is an amazing place full of countless opportunities for touring, shopping and enjoying the local food and culture. There’s the Great Wall of China, numerous palaces and tombs of emperors and empresses past, Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City and more. For the destinations that were nearby, the commute was swift and effortless. The destinations that were further off, however, were much more of a challenge and needed a little more attention.  Add the 12 hour flights to and from Beijing, and you can really imagine what impact such a vacation could have on well-being! Staying healthy in Beijing was easy, simple and rewarding. The key was to continue practicing my daily healthy habits and modify them to fit the circumstances. Here’s are 3 ways I stayed healthy during my week-long trip through Beijing:   Regular Network Spinal Care before and after the trip Drs. Allison, Anita, and I all benefit from getting regular Network Spinal Care. Kiva Bottero, Natural News (link), calls Network Spinal Analysis (NSA) “an innovative approach to chiropractic that focuses on communicating with the nervous system in order to release the underlying tension that keeps the spine misaligned.”  NSA is a powerful way for us to have a well-functioning nervous system and a body that is resilient, flexible and free to heal itself naturally (read more from our website here). During my week of travels, I still benefited from all the NSA Care that I have received. My body-mind has strategies to stay calm and connected, and to practice healthy travel habits needed by my body.   Yoga during the trip During the trip, I practiced 15-20 minutes of yoga each morning before breakfast. I performed a short routine that includes standing postures and floor poses for strength, endurance and flexibility. Yoga is great for awakening our bodies and for preparing us for our first meal of the day. I find it always helps me clear out my lungs and airways of anything accumulated the day before. It’s also easier for me to be still physically and mentally on long bus trips after moving my joints, breathing deeply and stretching my tissues in yoga. With a bit of practice it can be very easy to do your own yoga practice! Stay tuned for a future article on building a personal yoga practice. In the meantime, our Monday night yoga class (click here for schedule) with Rupel Pandya is a great step to having more yoga in your life.   Make healthier food choices Beijing is brimming with food choices that span the entire spectrum of healthy nutrition. I looked for plant-based whole foods wherever possible – vegetables, fruits, legumes and grains and leaned towards dishes that were lightly seasoned and oiled (or even better unseasoned and un-oiled). That meant I was enjoying dishes such as millet congee, freshly made unsweetened hot soy milk, stir-fried vegetables and tofu, and plain white rice. On some days, I’d eat a meal of simply watermelon, Chinese Hami Gold melons, Chinese fresh dates, and mandarins / clementines. Eating whole foods helped me maintain steady energy levels and regular elimination. It also helped me ensure I was getting all the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that are so abundant in plant-based foods.   Staying active, eating well and getting regular Network Spinal Care are 3 of the ways I got the most out...

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