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.

Does Your January Look Like This? If Not, You May Need More of the Sunshine Vitamin

Sunshine vitamin D woman waterAs I write this post, it’s a brisk, cold morning in Guelph and the sun is shining – for what feels like the first time in weeks! This weather has definitely called to mind the importance of the “sunshine vitamin” in your fertility. We make vitamin D from cholesterol when our skin is exposed to sunlight, but if you’re anywhere north of the tropics (or south of the tropics for that matter!) you’re most likely not getting enough sun exposure fall through spring to maintain optimal vitamin D levels. (It’s almost as if we were DESIGNED to live on sun-soaked tropical islands, yes??)

You may know vitamin D as a bone-booster, essential to your calcium absorption. It’s also important for your immune function and is even a mood-booster for people who suffer from seasonal depression or winter blues. Yep, vitamin D is an absolute superstar nutrient and deserves a really bright spotlight when it comes to fertility. Think of vitamin D as a fertility regulator. Unfortunately, vitamin D deficiency is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies that I see in my patients, including men and women who have fertility challenges.
Vitamin D deficiency is very common. Low levels are associated with infertility, PCOS, obesity, poor immune function and poor outcomes with IVF.
Conversely, having enough vitamin D can do the following great things for your fertility:
  • Helps maintain healthy reproductive organs in males and females
  • Associated with good semen quality
  • Supports healthy testosterone levels
  • Reduces the harmful effects of excess estrogen on uterine fibroids (and is a proposed treatment for fibroids)
  • Improves frequency of menstrual cycles in women with PCOS
  • Boosts the metabolism in women with PCOS

Sunshine vitamin D woman water (1)

Why Vitamin D Deficiency is Under-Discussed, Under-Diagnosed and Under-Dosed

Deficiency of vitamin D is under-diagnosed because there are no obvious symptoms, and most physicians and fertility clinics don’t recognize and discuss its importance with you and refer you for the test. Not only is vitamin D deficiency widely under-diagnosed, it’s also commonly under-dosed. Most health authorities like Health Canada recommend a daily dose of 1000 IU vitamin D daily for everyone from infants to elders. Meanwhile, most adults would benefit on many levels from a dose of 1000 IU-4000 IU daily depending on their needs, sun exposure, and metabolism. Due to outdated legislation, doses of more than 1000 IU per day are technically “prescription only” in Canada. Until conventional medical practice AND legislation catch up to the research, you won’t likely hear a daily dose over 1000 IU suggested by your physician and you won’t find more than this per single capsule or tablet. Vitamin D is fat-soluble, so theoretically could build up in your system to toxic levels if you take very high doses over time. Current research shows that doses of 5000 IU taken daily for several months do not result in toxic levels of vitamin D. Always talk to your health care practitioner when deciding about supplement doses. (Note that your Prenatal or general multivitamin will likely provide 1000 IU vitamin D in your full daily dose).

The best way to find out whether you’re low in vitamin D and how much you need to supplement with is to get tested. That’s because vitamin D deficiency doesn’t have specific symptoms you can count on to know if you’re getting enough – until it’s years too late i.e. osteoporosis has set in. Tests are inexpensive (they’re $40-50 through Ontario labs) and can be ordered by your naturopathic doctor or family physician. It will certainly shed some light on whether you’re getting enough of the sunshine vitamin for your fertility and overall health.
Hope this sheds some (warm, bright, sun-) light on the sunshine vitamin + your fertility!

Mild, Missed and Misunderstood: Subtle Hormonal Imbalances & Infertility

Your hormonal health is of utmost importance to your overall health, as well as your fertility.

A Little Means a Lot

Hormones are extremely powerful substances produced in minute quantities in our bodies. Small disruptions in hormonal balance can make a huge difference to how we feel. Just consider the way you or your friends have suffered with PMS, mood swings, acne, menopause, menstrual cramps or infertility and you can appreciate how hormonal health becomes a key factor in our very quality of life.

Check with your naturopathic doctor or functional medicine physician to rule out hidden hormonal imbalances

Check with your naturopathic doctor or functional medicine physician to rule out hidden hormonal imbalances

These all-too-common (but not normal) symptoms are signs of hormonal havoc.

When It’s Not As Obvious

Hormonal issues can also be relatively symptom-free, hiding subtly just below the surface. Sometime, the only outward sign of a hidden hormonal imbalance is infertility.

In fact, subtle hormonal imbalances are one of the most common hidden causes of “unexplained infertility” in the women I see in my practice.

For example, let’s look at what it can mean if you have sub-optimal or “missed” low progesterone.

Suboptimal Progesterone 

Progesterone is known as “pregnancy hormone” because it prepares your uterus for implantation and early pregnancy. It’s produced in your ovaries, adrenal glands, and once pregnancy occurs, it’s produced by the placenta.

The current definition of low progesterone is less than 35 nmol/L (He et al. 2015). However, in practice, I have found that women with even lower progesterone levels have been told their low result is “nothing to worry about” or even that “it’s normal”.

Low progesterone can cause of infertility and miscarriage (Andrews et al. 2015). And if pregnancy does occur, low progesterone in the first trimester of pregnancy predicts higher risk of high blood pressure during your pregnancy and of having a baby with low birth weight (He et al. 2015). (Low birth weight places your child at risk of several other future health problems).

Regardless of why it gets missed, low progesterone is one of the most common hidden causes of infertility because it gets missed.

Fortunately, like other hormonal imbalance issues, there are ways to successfully treat low progesterone naturally and/or with conventional medicine.

4 Signs You Could Have Low Progesterone Function – Even If Your Blood Work Is Normal

1 – lower than expected BBT (basal body temperature) spikes, or no spike, at the beginning of the second half of your menstrual cycle

2 – unstable BBT readings in the second half of your menstrual cycle

3 – spotting between periods

4 – spotting just before your period

Treating Low Progesterone/Luteal Phase Deficiency

If your progesterone level is recognized to be low, you may receive the diagnosis of luteal phase defect or luteal phase deficiency. This means your progesterone level isn’t high enough to keep the second half of your cycle healthy enough to sustain early pregnancy.

To boost progesterone production naturally, we may consider one or more of the following treatments:

Chaste tree – also known as Vitex agnus-castus, this medicinal plant is an effective, first-line therapy for low progesterone, luteal phase deficiency, PMS and irregular periods. Some naturopathic doctors recommend chaste tree in the luteal phase or 2nd half of your cycle only, although it can be used safely throughout the cycle especially if you have PMS, irregular periods or PCOS.

Adrenal support – the adrenal glands’ priority is stress survival. They produce progesterone from the hormone precursor, pregnenalone, and then covert it into cortisol – stress hormone. When you’re under stress, your adrenals will steal more pregnenalone to make cortisol, so there’s less of it available to make progesterone (McCulloch 2012). We call this the “Cortisol Steal” and it’s really important to dampen it down with proper care for your adrenals, along with stress reduction especially while you’re trying to conceive.

Nutrition – starting from a whole foods Fertility Diet foundation with plenty of clean protein and healthy fats to build hormones, studies have shown that B vitamins, magnesium, vitamin C and fish oils effectively support increased progesterone production (McCullogh). Higher dietary selenium intake has been associated with reduced risk of luteal phase deficiency (a product of low progesterone) (Andrews et al. 2015). Melatonin (1-3mg) taken at bedtime has been used to boost progesterone (McCulloch), and is also of great benefit to healthy sleep.

Acupuncture – studies have shown that acupuncture treatment can effectively restore hormonal balance, regulate the menstrual cycle, and promote the body’s ability to support early pregnancy.

Be sure your physician or naturopath takes a look at your luteal phase progesterone before you try to conceive so that you can take the appropriate steps to optimize your levels of “pregnancy hormone” from the outset.

Other Hidden Hormonal Havoc-Wreakers

There are a few other hidden obstacles that I commonly see in my practice. One of them is environmental toxicity. For more on this, see this post.

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References

McCulloch F (2012). Supporting the luteal phase with integrative medicine. NDNR. Available at: http://ndnr.com/womens-health/supporting-the-luteal-phase-with-integrative-medicine/

He et al. Association of maternal serum progesterone in early pregnancy with low birth weight and other adverse pregnancy outcomes. J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 2015 Sep 3:1-6. [Epub ahead of print]

Andrews et al. Dietary factors and luteal phase deficiency in healthy eumenorrheic women. Hum Reprod. 2015 Aug;30(8):1942-51. doi: 10.1093/humrep/dev133. Epub 2015 Jun 16.

5 Signs That You’re Ready for Natural Fertility Treatment

I’ve been pleased to welcome many new patients into my office in downtown Guelph lately who’ve been asking the same question in one way or another: “How do I know if natural fertility treatment is right for me?”

“Should we try natural fertility treatment?” 

Couple talking_bicyclesWhether you’ve been struggling with infertility for years, or you’ve just started trying to conceive, there’s a broad range of natural treatment choices to help you improve your chances of having a healthy baby. If you’re ready to start a family and have wondered how, when or whether to integrate natural medicine into your plan, here are some signs you may be ready to jump in.

1. “My fertility specialist referred me.” We’ve been receiving more referrals from fertility clinics. I think more fertility specialists are sending their patients our way because they’ve read the research studies showing the clinical benefits, and they’ve seen the positive results in their own patients who have used naturopathic support or acupuncture and had more relaxed and more successful IVF or IUI cycles. Some fertility clinics are going the extra mile and having naturopathic doctors or acupuncturists on-site to perform acupuncture treatments immediately before and after IVF transfer.

2. “I need a break from the medical stuff.” As much as fertility clinics can be necessary and helpful for many couples, even one round of infertility treatment can take a lot out of you. It’s OK to rest your body, mind and pocketbook if and when you need to, and re-balance your health with some safe, gentle, non-invasive – and even relaxing – natural fertility care while you decide on your next course of action. While on “breaks” from conventional treatment cycles, we’ve helped couples conceive naturally even after several failed IUI and IVF attempts.

3. “We want to try naturally first.” The vast majority of pregnancies are achieved spontaneously without medical intervention, so why not invest a couple of months in self-care, good nutrition, your relationship and your emotional well-being, even as you try to conceive? Become as healthy as you can be, and often, fertility will follow.

4. “I’m thinking about the next generation.” As a Naturopathic Doctor with a pre-medical degree in Toxicology, I hear you when you share that you’re concerned about the impact that environmental toxins, second-hand smoke or the birth control pills your doctor once recommended to regulate your period may have on your ability to conceive as well as your future baby’s health. I’ve designed our natural fertility clinic program around building up your health and removing obstacles to your fertility, your future pregnancy and your baby’s future health. These obstacles include toxins that can be assessed and removed from the body safely and naturally before you conceive.

5. “The price is right.” With each round of IVF costing about $5000-8000, plus up to $7,000 for medications, some couples consider the addition of natural fertility clinic services as a strategy to improve the return on their investment by improving their chances of conceiving sooner, preventing miscarriage, and investing in the health of their future child – all while feeling less stressed, more supported and less affected by medication side effects. Typical consultation and treatment packages start at $750-1500 for visits, fees which are often reimbursable by employee health insurance. You may also need to set aside an additional $50-$200 per month for recommended natural medicines such as herbs, teas or supplements.

As with the overarching philosophy of naturopathic medicine, when working with your Naturopathic Doctor or Registered Acupuncturist, natural fertility care is unlikely to be harmful, and may offer you significant physical, mental and emotional benefits that enhance your chances of conceiving the healthy baby of your dreams.

Ready to learn more? Get in touch with us and find out if we’re a good fit for your fertility goals.

Reference: The cost of infertility. Financial Post 2013

Nurtured Fertility Program

Isn’t it amazing? Before they are even conceived, your children’s and grandchildren’s health will be influenced by your (and your partner’s) state of health today. This fact inspires me every day to invest in the health of future generations by helping couples improve their health naturally and live their dream of conceiving a healthy child.

FertilityThe Nurtured Fertility Program is designed to help you:

  • Feel empowered and take ownership of your fertility
  • Discover and recover from hidden fertility obstacles
  • Know when you’re ovulating and how to improve your chances of conceiving
  • Restore your fertility after The Pill
  • Enjoy regular cycles and hormonal balance
  • Reduce toxins that may affect your fertility and baby
  • Build the best possible health potential for your future pregnancy and child
  • Relieve stress
  • Work with your conventional infertility treatment and increase chances of success with IVF
  • Receive expert clinical care and online support throughout your fertility journey
  • Enhance your overall health, energy and (bonus!!) libido

Visits are covered by most extended health benefits plans. Dr. Cherevaty is a licensed Naturopathic Doctor (ND) and Registered Acupuncturist (R.Ac).

Questions:

Contact us with any questions or to book your free, 15-minute meet-and-greet visit. We are excited to help you begin or continue your natural fertility journey!