The menopausal transition is a common time to see a change in digestive health and weight. Our gut bacteria plays a role in estrogen metabolism so it is often one of the first steps we take to re-balance the hormones. Check out this article for more on the human microbiome and menopause:
I have always been pretty reserved when it comes to recommending fasting to my patients as it can be a pretty challenging intervention for most people, and medical practitioners tend to shy away from aggressive treatments that are unsupervised (mostly for liability reasons). However, the evidence for the positive impact of fasting on long-term health markers is so strong that I would be negligent to not include it in my tool kit of beneficial interventions when appropriate.
Fasting, in its various forms, is a fascinating, inexpensive, natural and do-able medical/lifestyle intervention that many of us can add to our health-promoting choices. You can choose to adopt one, or multiple styles of fasting based on your lifestyle, and likely even a small shift will have a significant long-term positive impact on your longevity.
Of course it is best to consult your MD or ND to be sure this is the right path for you.
Here is an example of a shotgun approach that may work in your life:
- Daily time restricted eating: limit your eating to 8-10 hours per day (giving you a 16-14 hour fasting period for your body to heal).
- Weekly fast day or the 5:2 fasting schedule: eat normally for 5 days of the week, and 2 days of the week reduce your caloric intake to 800-1000 calories per day.
- Annual 3-5 day periodic fasting: to enter into autophagy and really reset your cells and mitochondria
- Annual 1 month period of a diet that mimics fasting (like the ketogenic diet)
Dig into the research to peak your curiosity:
We are all looking for our health care providers to have wisdom and experience. When I moved to Ottawa very pregnant and with a 1.5 year-old, I booked an appointment with a local experienced Naturopathic Doctor just to get a second opinion and make sure my pregnancy brain wasn’t letting any detail fall through the cracks. It was a great appointment and reassured me that I was on track, however booking a follow-up proved to be problematic. Her schedule was packed for months. I went back to her website a few times over the past few months hoping there was an opening, but no luck.
This is the downside to seeing a good experienced naturopath. Accessibility and continuity of care suffers because of a jammed calendar. Luckily I am healthy with no major issues to correct, but for those who need an actual treatment plan complete with follow-up and accountability, they are left out in the cold! Brrr…
Good news! I’ve got 7 years experience practicing as both a Naturopathic Doctor as well as a clinic owner, so I’ve learned how important it is for patients to have access to their health care practitioners. As I have closed my Sudbury practice and am starting fresh here in Ottawa, I have lots of room in my calendar and a well rested medical brain keen to dig into tricky cases.
You can easily book online. I’m looking forward to meeting you!
Wednesdays (@Beechwood) 11am to 4pm
Thursdays (@Newell Physiotherapy) 10am to 4pm
Fridays (@Newell Physiotherapy) 9am to 1130am
Saturdays (@Beechwood) noon to 4pm
One of my New Year’s resolutions is to reduce my environmental burden. I know better, I should do better. There are times when I have definitely been lazy about the smaller details, but I’m now trying to change my ways.
Here are a few things that we can do to minimize our environmental burden:
Eat less meat
“Transitioning toward more plant-based diets that are in line with standard dietary guidelines could reduce global mortality by 6–10% and food-related greenhouse gas emissions by 29–70% compared with a reference scenario in 2050” (Springmann et al.).
But be careful not to consume too much processed foods or fruit, as those food choices can ramp up the environmental toll of your diet.
Soy is fine to eat in moderation, but be sure to buy organic to avoid ingesting chemicals. Soy production is known to be hard on the environment, but in reality eating beef costs more soy than eating the soy directly.
Grow your own food when possible
Sprout instead of buying greens (especially those boxed in plastic) during the winter months.
Grow your own herbs.
Keep house plants to clean your own micro-environment
Some plants are better than others for filtering the air inside your home.
Look at where your fruit comes from in the winter months. Is it better to live on apples in the winter or to ship exotic fruits from South America? You decide. I’m constantly debating about this in the produce aisle.
End food waste
Plan your meals and update your plans based on what is actually in the fridge. Leftovers can force you to creatively create amazing meals.
Turn down your water heater
Put everything you plug in on a power bar and turn it off at night.
Reduce your impact as a consumer
Take care of things so that you don’t have to replace them so much (from small items like clothing to bigger purchases like vehicles).
Buy pre-loved instead of new when possible (which also contributes to your local economy).
Buy in bulk to save on packaging.
Stop buying books. Use the library (again another way to be out in your local community).
Reusable grocery bags of course. Say no to straws.
Eat out less. And definitely don’t get take-out.
A great tool to calculate your environmental impact is the
I have officially moved to Ottawa, expecting baby number two to arrive any day now. My Sudbury patients are in the very good hands of Dr. Cayla Bronicheski ND, and we will continue to consult on patient cases as needed, both for the benefit of our patients, as well as for mutual learning. I will be taking a short maternity leave and expect to start practicing naturopathic medicine in the Beechwood neighborhood in January. Stay tuned for more updates coming this fall 🙂
It is very important to ensure adequate folic acid intake from 3 months before conception to the end of the first trimester. For most of us that means taking a prenatal vitamin (tricky because that’s usually when we are the LEAST interested in popping pills). My question, however, is how important is it to take folic acid supplements in the second and third trimester?
It is well documented that folic acid supplementation and food fortification reduces the incidence of neural tube defects such as spina bifida. The research about the importance of folic acid supplementation beyond the first trimester is less clear, and in fact, there is a little research to show that perhaps we don’t want extremely high levels later in pregnancy. It may increase the risk of allergy, and also may be correlated with increased risk of autism. There is definitely not enough research yet to draw any conclusions, but I would say that it’s safe to get a little sloppy with your daily prenatal supplement after the first trimester. Dosing of 3-5x per week seems to be safe, and the baby is really growing LOTS later in the pregnancy, so you want to make sure the little one has access to all of the other nutrients needed for development.
The best bet is to skip a couple doses of prenatal vitamins each week (after the first trimester), and be sure that you have a very nutrient dense diet to act as a safety net.
Here are some dietary sources of folic acid to include in your diet:
|Food||1 Food Guide Serving||Micrograms of folate as dietary folate equivalents (µg DFEs)|
|Lentils and romano beans||175 mL||265-270|
|Black beans||175 mL||190|
|White beans||175 mL||125|
|Asparagus and spinach, cooked||125 mL||120|
|Salad greens, such as Romaine lettuce, mustard greens and endive||250 mL||80-110|
|Pinto beans, kidney beans and chickpeas||175 mL||70-100|
|Pasta made with enriched wheat flour||125 mL||90|
|Sunflower seeds, shelled||60 mL||80|
|Bagel made with enriched wheat flour||½ bagel (45 g)||60-75|
|Brussels sprouts, beets and broccoli, cooked||125 mL||70|
|Bread made with enriched wheat flour or enriched corn meal||1 slice or ½ pita or ½ tortilla (35 g)||45-65|
|Spinach, raw||250 mL||60|
|Orange juice from concentrate||125 mL||60|
|Peanuts, shelled||60 mL||45|
|Green peas||125 mL||40|
|Raspberries, strawberries, blackberries||125 mL||15-35|
|Enriched ready to eat cereal||30 g||10-35|
|Broccoli and cauliflower, raw||125 mL||30|
|Snow peas||125 mL||30|
|Pineapple juice||125 mL||30|
|Walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts, shelled||60 mL||20-30|
|Baby carrots||125 mL||25|
Other important supplements in pregnancy include:
- Omega 3 fatty acids for brain development (DHA in particular)
- Vitamin D if you are deficient (mostly to ensure adequate levels in breastmilk postpartum)
- Calcium and magnesium after the first trimester to support bone development and to protect mom’s bones, as well as prevent leg cramping later in pregnancy
Most of us spend a lot of time with eyes locked on a screen of some sort – computer at work, TV to unwind, smartphone or ipad to keep us busy while we unwind… This excessive percentage of open-eye time dedicated to blue light emitting screens is unhealthy in a few ways. Beyond that, we are exposed to lighting sources such as LEDs and fluorescent lamps which also emit blue light. There’s some evidence emerging which suggests that the blue light that we’re exposing our retinas to may be causing long-term damage and lead to age-related macular degeneration.
So what do we do about it? Like anything else, I believe that if it’s at low cost to us, it’s worth investing in preventative measures to protect our long-term health, even if the research is still unclear at this point.
Steps you can take to clean up blue light:
- Reduce your screen time! If possible clear your life of some of this clutter. Read books… REAL books! Reserve scanning social media to small sections of the day. Watch less TV. Listen to more radio or music!
- If you can’t reduce your screen time, make sure to use the 20/20/20 rule. For every 20 mins in front of a screen, look away for 20 seconds at something 20 feet away. This gives the eye muscles that had been working hard a break, and exercises the other muscles a bit. It’s like having a balanced workout instead of only working your biceps at the gym and letting your triceps wither away.
- You can purchase light screens that cover your device and filter out the damaging light rays. And there are now apps that will do this automatically – twilight app.
- You can also get eye glasses with both UV and blue light filters.
To read more in depth about blue light – The Lowdown on Blue Light: Good vs. Bad, and Its Connection to AMD