5 Safe & Easy Steps to Starting a Successful Detox

Thinking about doing a cleanse, but not sure where to start? Concerned about what toxins from the environment are doing to your health, your hormones, your fertility?

You’re Designed to Detox

If my degree in toxicology taught me one thing, it’s that the human body is capable of detoxifying nearly any toxin – miraculously, this includes toxins that are man-made and didn’t even exist on this planet just two generations ago.

And, if my clinical training has taught me one thing, it’s that detoxification is complicated. Since the ability to eliminate toxins effectively is absolutely relevant to your health goals: from overcoming infertility to losing weight to clearing your skin to preventing certain cancers…I want to make it easier for you to navigate through the complexity, set aside the hype and unsafe trends, and put in place some everyday habits that can get the detox ball rolling, safely and naturally – right away if you choose to.

Set off on the right track by following these 5 steps to start your detox:

  1. Commit a Bit of “Purgery”

    Hand opening pantryIngestion is the #1 way toxins get into our bodies. Purge your pantry of foods that contain synthetic chemicals, colourings, preservatives, etc. Remember that refined sugar also depletes your body of valuable minerals it needs to detoxify other chemicals effectively. Next, go plastic-free when it comes to food preparation, utensils and storage. Never heat food in plastic or Styrofoam. I recommend glass and stainless steel for anything that comes into contact with your food. You can also use paper bags, bamboo, silicon and good old cotton tea towels to wrap, store and transport various foods.

  2. Clean Up Your Cosmetics

    Your skin is an absorptive surface. As I teach clients in my Love Your Skin Program, assume anything you apply to your skin will reach your bloodstream, so if you wouldn’t eat it, you shouldn’t put it on your skin. Screen cosmetics, sunscreen, deodorant, lotions, makeup, shampoo etc. against the Skin Deep Cosmetics database by Environmental Working Group. As a general rule your products should contain no pthalates, perfumes, petroleum, petrolatum, or parabens.Makeup Brush

  3. Perspiration Prescription

    Sweat it out, girl! You can sweat out toxic heavy metals like mercury and arsenic, and even plastic-derived chemicals like bisphenol A (BPA). Getting your sweat on through exercise will also boost lymphatic drainage, increase your circulation and help you maintain regular bowel function, which are all essential physiological functions for getting those toxins out. Think hot yoga, saunas, steam rooms, and enough of a challenge with your cardio and weights that you break a great sweat. Shower off with cold water after your sweat sesh to close your pores and seal out those toxins you worked so hard to eliminate. NB: Gentleman, talk to your health practitioner before starting a sauna program in the 3-4 months before trying to conceive, as the heat could affect your fertility.Pushup

  4. Ramp Up the Roughage

    Fiber-rich foods like ground flax seeds, chia, whole grains, legumes, fruit and veggies help to bind toxins in your digestive tract and sweep them on out. Aim for 40 grams (yes, I said 40!) of fibre each day. Fibre doesn’t have to be the bland something you have to kind of choke down. Try a fruit smoothie with ground seeds blended in, or munch on unsweetened coconut flakes for a naturally sweet and crunchy fibre-fortified snack when you’re craving a “treat”.Green Smoothie with Fruit

  5. Cleanse Your Medicine Cabinet

    Find out which prescription and non-prescription medicines (including natural supplements!) contain questionable ingredients: the drug itself or the “non-medicinal ingredients” listed on your nutritional supplements or herbs could actually be considered toxic. I recently noted the chemical solvent hydroxybutyl toluene and the hormone-disrupting methylparaben in the list of non-medicinal ingredients of a patient’s superstore-brand prenatal multivitamins! Be sure you’re also avoiding medications that can harm your fertility. For example, when starting or following up on medication most men aren’t told that their antidepressant (SSRI or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) can damage sperm and reduce their fertility, and most women aren’t informed that ongoing use of NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like naproxen have been shown to interfere with ovulation. Speak with your naturopath or family doctor before stopping or starting any new medication or supplement.

When’s It Time to Talk With Your Doc?

Not all detox plans and programs are created equally. Many over-the-counter products send you to the bathroom frequently but aren’t effectively removing stored toxins from your body, and many formulas aren’t safe in pregnancy. Be sure to discuss with your doctor your plans to start any detox program so you can get the proper assessment pre- and post- detox, follow a safe protocol and be confident you’re getting the results you’re looking for.

3 Surprising Health Benefits of Spring Cleaning (and a bonus 4th!)

Spring Cleaning

Is your Spring Cleaning fertility-friendly?

Did you know that a good old fashioned spring cleaning can actually boost your health?
I recently did the biggest Spring Clean of my life (with plenty of help from my hubby). It wasn’t easy, but I chose to let go of many “things” that I’ve been carrying with me for years. I’m slightly embarrassed to say, I cleared out bins that even contained journals from high school. Yikes! Don’t need those anymore!
I also processed a whole lot of emotion as I worked my way through some of the boxes of my dad’s things, including his collections. As a super sentimental person I also adopted some of my dad’s natural sentimentality after he passed away. Needless to say, it was difficult to let go of anything that reminded me of him, but with plenty of support I accomplished the feat I had been putting off, and dreading, for years.
Through that process I noticed a few things about my personal health journey that I though you might find valuable. So here in this video, I’m sharing 3 Surprising Health Benefits of Spring Cleaning that may give you a whole new level of appreciation for this annual (or, at least I hope it will be!) ritual.
Click to see the video!

3 Surprising Health Benefits of Spring Cleaning: Are You Ready to Clear Your Path to Health?

Never thought I’d be the one to say this, but Happy Cleaning!!!
Dr. Liz

Why Chocolate is Fertility-Friendly (+3 Recipes)

WHYWith all this holiday chocolate lying about, you may be wondering whether chocolate fits into a healthy fertility diet?
The sweet news: YES, the healthy Fertility Diet I’ve developed for my clients (based on review of years and scads of research) includes chocolate!
The not-so-sweet news: the SUGAR part of the chocolate needs to be given the boot!
The health benefits of dark chocolate and raw cacao beans are due to the minerals and antioxidants these products contain. In fact, raw cocoa beans are one of the richest food sources of magnesium, a mineral that’s essential to 300 biochemical reactions in our bodies, helps our muscles relax, and facilitates natural production of our “happy hormone”, serotonin, and our “deep sleep hormone”, melatonin.
Raw cacao is also a rich source of antioxidants. It’s been used traditionally by South American peoples as an energy tonic and aphrodisiac. The antioxidants in cocoa beans are protective to our blood vessels. And who DOESN’T want to enjoy a delicious food that boosts our energy, helps deliver plenty of healthy blood flow to our reproductive organs AND gets us in the mood?? No one. RIGHT! 🙂
Make That Chocolate Work for You
The key is to go for as dark a chocolate as possible (i.e. low to no sugar) or – even better from a health perspective – use raw cacao nibs (pieces of cacao beans) or raw cacao powder. Each of these forms of cacao capture the minerals and antioxidants we want in our Fertility Diet.
Note that conventional cocoa powder (i.e. “alkali processed” or “Dutch process”) does not contain high levels of these nutrients because they are stripped away during this kind of processing.
Here are a few delicious ways to integrate chocolate into your Fertility Diet. I created these recipes just for YOU so please let me know how you like them!
Choco-Cherry Superfood Smoothie
Blend until smooth:
1 cup frozen dark sweet cherries, 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk, 3-4 tbsp hemp hearts, 2 tsp raw cacao nibs, 1 tsp chia seed, 1 tsp ground flax seed, 1/2 tsp natural vanilla extract
Pour into a glass and top with a sprinkle of another 1 tsp cacao nibs for garnish (pictured below).

Makes 2 snack or dessert smoothie servings.

Cherry smoothie

Dr. Liz’s Choco-Cherry Smoothie is a Fertility-Friendly Treat

Chocolate Monkey in the Morning Smoothie
Blend until smooth: 1.5 cups almond milk, 2 tbsp almond butter, 1/2 banana, 2 tbsp raw cacao powder, 1 tbsp raw seeds (e.g. flax, chia or hemp), 1 scoop vanilla or unflavoured protein powder, 1/4 tsp natural vanilla extract, 2 tsp raw honey
Makes 1 meal size or 2 snack size servings.
Chocolate Avocado Mousse
This dessert is amazing and 100% guilt-free!
Blend until completely smooth: flesh of 1 mashed, ripe avocado, 1/2 ripe banana, 3 heaping TBSP raw cacao powder, 1/2 tsp natural vanilla extract, 3 tsp honey or stevia extract to taste. 
Divide into 2 parfait glasses or dessert bowls, garnish with fresh berries, mint leaves or cacao nibs as desired.
SIDE NOTE:
Feeling just a little TOO perky? Cacao and chocolate contain caffeine so please enjoy in moderation 🙂

Weathering It: How Winter Healed Me + 3 Great Spots for Outdoor Winter Fun in Guelph

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This gallery contains 7 photos.

When I was 14 years old, I healed myself from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome with one natural treatment. I’ll tell you what that was and why it worked. I’m also excited to show you 3 of my favourite places in Guelph where … Continue reading

Cholesterol Controversy: Shifting Cholesterol out of Scapegoat Status (& 3 Under-Appreciated Nutrients for Heart Health)

Every 34 seconds, someone in Canada will suffer from a heart attack. Heart disease is a complicated condition to predict – there are over 200 known risk factors, and possibly many more that we don’t know about yet. Cholesterol has become a favourite scapegoat for heart disease. Most of us have heard at some point that we should avoid foods that are high in cholesterol in order to help keep our hearts healthy. In fact, if you google “cholesterol and heart health,” most of what comes up relates to lowering cholesterol in order to avoid heart disease. Unfortunately, this belief has led to claims that even some very healthy whole foods, like eggs, are bad for our heath. Given that half of the people who have a heart attack or stroke have normal cholesterol levels, why does this particular molecule get such a bad rap?

Let’s start with a bit of background. Cholesterol is an oil-based substance that is manufactured in our bodies (via a complex, 37-step process), and can also be absorbed from foods we eat. There are two types of cholesterol: low-density lipoprotein (LDL), often referred to as the “bad” cholesterol, and high-density lipoprotein (HDL), often referred to as “good” cholesterol. LDL and HDL are not cholesterol in and of themselves, but sort of like cholesterol taxis – moving cholesterol itself from one place to another in the body. Most of our blood cholesterol is made naturally in the body, not absorbed from our food. Cholesterol is essential to our health: we need it for our cell membranes, bile production, hormone synthesis and to make vitamin D in our skin. Finally, cholesterol also plays a role in the healing of injuries – and the way it does this may be part of the key to why it is considered a dangerous substance.

Inflammation is beginning to be understood as the root of all chronic disease. When our bodies suffer from chronic inflammation, we sustain microscopic injuries to the inner linings of our blood vessels. The liver produces LDL and blood delivers it to the site of injury where, similar to how a scab forms to cover a cut on our skin, the tiny cuts and nicks are covered over with waxy plaque which protects them while they heal. There is reason to believe then that high LDL levels may reflect the body’s rescue response to chronic internal blood vessel injury. So, blaming heart attacks on cholesterol is like blaming the firefighter for the fire – LDL is the body’s way to put out the flames of inflammation inside our blood vessels. Cholesterol, then, is better thought of as a potential marker of inflammation, not a disease agent in and of itself. For that reason let’s begin to shift our focus onto how we can reduce our exposure to the causes of inflammation. Common sources of inflammation include consuming to many carbs (like bread, pasta and sugar), smoking, alcohol, fried vegetable oils, environmental toxins, foods that you’re sensitive to, infections and chronic disease processes. Your naturopathic doctor can help with a personal assessment of anything in particular that you should watch out for, since every body is different.

For more on the saturated fat and cholesterol controversy, listen to this podcast with journalist Nina Teicholz, as she explains why it may be time to drop the misguided war on cholesterol…and eat more fat instead.

So if we can’t rely only on targeting dietary cholesterol and saturated fat, what else can we consider in our diet instead to improve our heart health? One strategy is to try introducing more antioxidants.

To understand why antioxidants are so great, we need to start by understanding something about free radicals. Free radicals are molecules that have an “unpaired” electron. Imagine a room full of 5-year olds holding a nice treat in each hand. As you look closer, it turns out that some of these kids only have a treat in one hand – these are the free radicals, they’re missing a treat. These kids who are missing a treat are prone to stealing a treat from one of the other kids. If they steal from a child who only has two treats, that child is likely going to create quite a fuss in that room. However, there is a third type of child in the room – those who have an extra treat they can give away without ending up with an empty hand. These are the antioxidants. When a free radical kid gets a treat from an antioxidant child, each ends up happy and a potentially volatile situation is averted.

We all have free radicals in our bodies and these create inflammation, oxidative stress and speed the process of aging – so we all could use a good serving of antioxidants to help deal with them! A healthy diet includes a broad range of antioxidants, which come chiefly from vegetables and fruit (especially brightly coloured ones like berries, cherries, kale, broccoli, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, green tea, raw chocolate, etc.). Your naturopath will happily lend a helping hand with balancing oxidants and antioxidants for heart health.

Eating well and keeping active are absolute foundations to maintaining a healthy heart. There are three heart-protecting nutrients that you may want to consider supplementing with because they are difficult to get in sufficient quantities in the diet alone: coenzyme Q10, vitamin K2, and omega 3’s.

Coenzyme Q10: This is a powerful natural antioxidant that’s found in the heart.  It reduces blood pressure, reduces blood clots, improves tone in artery walls, and has anti-inflammatory effects. People with higher cholesterol levels have been found to have lower coenzyme Q10 levels. Coenzyme Q10 can be taken for prevention, and it’s an absolute must if you are taking a statin medication because these drugs deplete the body’s natural levels of coenzyme Q10.

(As a bonus for those of you working on fertility, think of coenzyme Q10 like an anti-aging supplement for your eggs. More on this in an upcoming edition!).

Vitamin K2: We have only understood this essential nutrient since the late 1990s, and it’s not found in most multivitamins on the market. This forgotten vitamin is made by bacteria and is naturally found in certain fermented foods and in the fat of grass-fed beef. The main benefit of vitamin K2 is that it may help to prevent calcification of the arteries. Vitamin K2 activates the delivery of calcium from the blood and arteries into our bones – making it equally essential in the prevention of osteoporosis as heart disease. Vitamin K2 also promotes the beneficial effects of vitamin D.

EPA and DHA: Also known as eicosapentanoic acid and docosahexanoic acid, these omega 3 fatty acids are the key constituents in fish oils. EPA and DHA are essential to a healthy cardiovascular system. They reduce blood triglyceride levels, reduce inflammation, support healthier blood vessels, and can reduce blood clots. Omega 3’s are called “essential fats” because they body can not produce them, so they must be provided from the diet.  The Standard American Diet (SAD) is deficient in omega 3 fats because we don’t eat enough seafood, raw seeds and nuts in our daily diets. We need 2-5 grams of EPA + DHA combined to get the best benefits that these omegas have to offer.

Well there you have it – trade in carbs for fats…savour some fabulous colourful, whole foods with your valentine of choice…and love your heart with real food this month!

With love,

Dr. Liz

 

Healthy Holidays: 3 Strategies for Keeping It Real (even if it isn’t your “most wonderful time of the year”)

This is such a beautiful time of year. I love the cozy feeling of reconnecting with family, friends, and fantastic food…the snuggly darker nights that promise deep rest (if we can get it!)…and that special energetic “sparkle” of the holiday season. Yet we’ve all had our brushes holiday stress. Even when we appreciate the holidays, we can still be plagued by holiday anxiety, disappointment or exhaustion. We may feel overscheduled, over-obligated, and overwhelmed. Add to this mix year-end work overload, relationship tensions or illness and we’re left missing out on the meaningful moments we desire and deserve. The holidays have a way of amplifying both the positive and the negative aspects of our life and health.

As your naturopathic doctors, we want you to experience the joy, love and renewal of the holiday season, without the stress, burnout, or immune system shutdown. To exchange Christmas chaos for keeping calm, cool and collected, take a deep breath and check out Dr. Katie’s  10 Ways to De-Stress Your Holidays.

I’ve also taken stock of the approach we are taking in our own home to maintain the enjoyment of the holidays. Here’s how we’re going about it:

1.      Keeping it real (with our feelings). The holiday season can be thick with all kinds of emotions. When emotions aren’t expressed, they tend to create physical symptoms. We intend to schedule some unscheduled time to allow for opportunity to connect meaningfully with loved ones, to experience and honour the emotional and spiritual sides of the holidays.

2.      Health comes first. This may sound typical for a naturopath to say, but we, too (as full on, actual humans) get caught up in the end-of year deadlines, tempting indulgences, and immune system risks of the holidays! To give ourselves a buffer of preventive medicine, we’ve activated our good-night’s-sleep plans, booked our health check-ins (I’m especially excited for my i.v. nutrition and immune boost with Dr. Turk!), calendared a grounding “stay-cation” weekend, and have our 2015 health strategies planned and ready to go. (We’re getting married in April and we want to go into our marriage de-stressed and in super-awesome health!)

3.      Create ritual: turn mourning into dancing. When you’re grieving a personal life event or the loss of a loved one, the holidays can be one of the most difficult times of the year. After my dad passed away last year, I felt heartbroken in trying to plan a Christmas without him, and I didn’t need to. On Christmas morning I filled his mug with coffee (just the way he liked it) and put it by the place setting reserved for him at our table. This small gesture proved to me that my dad was still “invited”, and that my life hadn’t filled in all of the spaces he had occupied all of my life. Where we can create ritual we can free ourselves to honour what’s good, even in the midst of mourning.

Wishing you and your family the very best of health for the holidays.

Dr. Liz

 

Better health in 90 days: our special holiday gifts to you

Dear friends,
As your naturopathic doctors, Dr. Katie and I care especially about your health and couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate the holidays than to create a special gift for you to help you enjoy the season and ring in 2015 with all of the energy, vitality, and intelligent strategy you deserve! This is for YOU if you have a health concern you want to address, or if you’d like to re-activate your health journey in a supported way, or if you have a friend or family member who could benefit from our help.
We also wanted to take this opportunity to express our sincerest gratitude for the opportunity to work with you on your personal wellness journey. We could not be more honoured to be here for you as you take these steps to improve your health and your life. We learn from and are humbled by our interactions with you every day we are in clinic.
So we’re especially excited to help you get STRATEGIC about the next steps in your health care journey, and to RE-INSPIRE your health with all of the capacities we can offer.
Here are the details of our special Healthy Holidays Package and Better Health in 90 Days – FREE Strategy Sessions – yours to enjoy (’til January 31, 2015!).

Our hearts are with you this holiday season,

Dr. Liz