What is Adrenal Fatigue?
It is the consequence of prolonged stress, which can be physical, emotional, psychological, or a combination of these. Stress ranges from mild to severe but the body responds to each of these the same by releasing cortisol. The dysfunction arises when the stress becomes prolonged and the body is no longer able to respond appropriately.
Common symptoms include feeling tired for no reason, problems getting out of bed in the morning, unexplained allergies, recurrent infections, insomnia, memory problems, indigestion, unable to lose weight, back pain and dizziness.
Recovering from adrenal fatigue involves lifestyle changes, a healthy diet, avoiding food allergies and a regular outlet for stress whether it is meditation, exercise or journaling. It is important to create a lifestyle that helps your body recover from the stress and replenish the various nutrients and vitamins that stress has depleted over time.
Tea is found across the globe and plays an important cultural and historical role. It is the most consumed beverage worldwide next to water and Canadians are no exception to this love. It is estimated Canadians drink 9.7 billion cups of tea each year.
Legend has it that the Emperor of China discovered tea when tea leaves blew into his cup of hot water in 2737 BC. It wasn't until years later that tea was consumed as a medicinal drink. Today there are thousands of different varieties of tea but all tea come from the plant Camellia sinensis. There are 5 main categories of tea: White, Green, Black, Oolong and Herbal. White teas are the purest, least processed and the leaves are picked early and the buds are dried in the sun. Green tea leaves are either steamed or pan fried. Black tea under goes the most processing. The leaves are sun dried, then rolled and fermentation gives it the characteristic black colour. Black tea also contains the most caffeine. Oolong tea is similar to black tea but does not undergo fermentation. Herbal teas do not have any leaves from the Camellia plant making them caffeine free. There are 3 main types of herbal infusions. Rooibos is a red South African bush tea and mate is made from the leaves of a South American shrub while herbal infusions contain pure herbs, flowers and fruits.
Tea is known to reduce anxiety, help with weight loss, headaches, improve digestion, constipation, boost your immune system, helps reduce allergies, improves cholesterol levels, reduces stroke risk, burns fat and helps with insomnia. Tea is high in antioxidants and green tea has the highest levels of ECGC, which has shown to help against the free radicals involved in cancer, heart disease and clogged arteries. Tea also helps you stay hydrated and is great for detoxification.
There are many different brands of tea that when you are trying to choose one it can be overwhelming. However, not all brands are created equal and many are filled with toxins, pesticides, artificial ingredients, added flavors and GMOs taking away from their health benefits. A recent investigation by CBC's Marketplace tested 10 popular brands of green and black tea and found that 9 brands contained pesticide levels and half of these exceed the Canadian standards. 8 of the 10 brands contained multiple pesticides with one brand containing 22 different pesticides. The brands tested were: Lipton, Red Rose, Tetley, Twining’s, No Name, Uncle Lee’s Legends of China, King Cole and Signal. Red Rose was the only pesticide free brand that was tested.
If you think that buying your tea at a health food store or a high-end loose leaf means you're getting a better quality product then you are wrong. Celestial seasonings is a well-known brand but a third party analysis by Glaucus Research found that 91% of their teas had pesticide levels exceeding the U.S limits. In testing by an independent lab, 100% of Teavana's teas were found to contain pesticides to the point that 77% of their teas would be banned from import based on EU important standards for pesticides and 62% contain endosulfan which is a pesticide that is banned by 80 countries including the US and Canada.
Tea companies use natural and artificial flavours to mask the taste of lower quality teas. GMO's are also making their way into teas, which means that corn and soy have been added. David's tea has become extremely popular in Canada but over the last few years they have started to add more flavorings to their teas so be sure to read the ingredients before you buy. Below are some questionable ingredients in popular teas.
The increasingly popular silk sachets and mesh bags are made of plastic. These polyactic corn based tea bag have impressed major companies due to its fancy look and biodegradable claims but the product is made with genetically modified corn. Why does the packaging of your tea matter? The food grade nylon or polyethylene terephthalate (PET) that tea bags are commonly made from are considered the safest plastics in terms of harmful leaching potential. However, the tea bag which holds your tea leafs while you steep it in boiling water starts to break down in hot water leading to leeching out of harmful phthalates if any are present in your tea. The risk of paper tea bags is that they are treated with the pesticide epichlorohydrin, which is considered a potential carcinogen.
Now that you're thinking you can never drink tea again what do you do? Although most of the commonly available brands do have pesticides, artificial flavors and GMO's added to them, there are companies that are devoted to producing clean teas. This chart is a good place to start when it comes to picking a brand.
Furthermore, choose an organic & non-GMO certified brand of tea. Then check the ingredients to avoid added flavours (natural or artificial) and GMO ingredients like soy lecithin and cornstarch. In terms of packaging, buy loose leaf tea and use a stainless steel or glass strainer or buy from a company that has stated they do not use harmful ingredients (Numi and Traditional medicinals have publicly stated so). If you do decide to use a tea bag then don't let it step longer than recommended.
Some good quality and easily available teas are Traditional Medicinals, Numi, Rishi and loose-leaf teas from Tealish (based in Toronto). I highly recommend finding a loose-leaf tea place near where you live and don't be afraid to ask them questions since you are putting this into your body.
A detox is not living on the toilet and eating nothing for 2 weeks. Detoxification is a natural process in our bodies that eliminates toxins acquired from our food, water, air and metabolic processes. The body eliminates these toxins through the skin and breathing, solid waste through the intestines, liquid waste through the kidneys and immune system waste through the lymphatics. The liver is our main detoxifier but over time toxins can build up. A detox involves dietary and lifestyle changes as they reduce the intake of toxins while improving their elimination over a period of 2-3 weeks. Certain foods help with different phases of detoxification while others impair it. In order to optimize the body’s detoxification abilities a dietary combination of the appropriate foods along with herbs and vitamins that support these processes is needed.
The juice of half a freshly squeezed lemon in warm waters first thing in the morning can help your liver detoxify. The lemon water helps flush out toxins and helps hydrate you in the morning when you are the most dehydrated as well.
“Breakfast” is your body breaking its fast from not eating the entire night and your metabolism having been slowed down to conserve calories. Eating wakes up your metabolism and starts burning those calories to lose or maintain a healthy weight. By skipping this meal you are left hungry, grumpy and unable to concentrate. At lunch you are more likely to choose foods high in sugar or fats. Research has found that by eating breakfast your overall appetite is decreased; you snack less; you lose weight; improve your concentration and have improved blood sugar control. However, the “nutritious” label does not always mean healthy so it is important to read labels as some cereals have more sugar than desserts. A balanced breakfast should include protein, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates. Protein smoothies complete with fruit and vegetables can be made the night before if you’re rushed in the mornings.
Are women at less risk for heart disease?
False! Heart disease and stroke is the number one killer of Canadian women over the age of 55. Seven times as many women die from heart disease than breast cancer.
The number one sign of a heart attack is still chest pain but women will describe their pain differently. More often, the warning signs go unnoticed in women as their symptoms can include vague symptoms such as fatigue, nausea and vomiting and general weakness.
Heart disease takes many years to develop hence it is ideal to make healthy changes before symptoms occur. Risk factors like family history, menopause and ethnicity cannot be changed. However, diabetes, smoking, physical inactivity, high cholesterol, hypertension and obesity can all be improved. The first step towards a healthy heart includes an active lifestyle with a well balanced diet to maintain a healthy body weight. This does not mean you need to start training for the next marathon. The key is to make realistic permanent changes in both your diet and physical activity. You do not want to put yourself on a drastically reduced calorie diet since the minute you start eating more the lost pounds will reappear. Start by making healthier options. Decrease your intake of sugars, processed foods and empty calories. With regards to exercise, you want to initially increase your activity level compared to what you are doing now. This could mean a brisk 30 minute walk when currently you've been doing nothing. Also be patient with yourself since you are looking at correcting years of damage and it is going to take more than a few weeks to do so.
Research has found that there is immense benefit in quitting regardless of your age. The benefits increase the longer you’ve been a nonsmoker. Most smokers lack the practical tools to quit smoking rather than lacking the knowledge about the health risks of smoking. However, deciding to quit smoking is not an easy decision. In order to effectively quit smoking, mental, physical and emotional aspects all must be addressed. The ideal approach includes addressing the physical withdrawal, breaking old habits and replacing them with healthier ones especially when it comes to stressful and tempting situations and, supporting the body to detoxify the negative effects of smoking. This multi level support occurs through a combination of acupuncture, botanicals, dietary guidance and counselling If you’ve decided this is your year to quit smoking, take the first step towards giving yourself the gift of better health by setting your quit date.
On January 28 Bell's fourth annual "Let's Talk" day raised almost $5.5 million for Canadian mental health programs. The campaign was simply to start the conversation surrounding the stigma of mental health disorders. You maybe thinking that this will never affect you but that is part of the stigma.
Mental health disorders impact every Canadian. Approximately 20% of us will experience a mental illness while the remaining 80% will be affected by the illness in the form of a family member, friend or colleague. It affects people of all ages, educational, income levels and cultures. The negative connotations associated with mental health have left it vastly misunderstood especially in younger individuals. Adolescents are considered to be young and healthy but it is estimated by the World Health Organization that 10-20% experience a mental health issue. Poor mental health is strongly related to other health issues and poor development outcomes including lower educational achievements, substance abuse, violence, and poor reproductive and sexual health. Unfortunately suicide is the most common cause of death in these young individuals.
A 2002 report on Mental illness in Canada defined Mental illnesses as being characterized by alterations in thinking, mood or behaviour (or some combination) associated with significant distress and impaired functioning over an extended period of time. The symptoms of mental illness vary from mild to severe, depending on the type of mental illness, the individual, the family and the socio-economic environment.
Despite how prevalent mental health disorders are there is still a strong stigma and shame that surrounds it. The stigma arises in part due to lack of knowledge and empathy but also because of superstition, old belief systems, societal fear and exclusion of those with mental disorders. The stereotyping, fear, embarrassment, anger and avoidance leads to those affected with a mental disorder to stay quiet about their illness, delaying seeking treatment, not being compliant with their medications or follow-up care.
A 2008 study by the Canadian Medical Association found just how prevalent and shocking the stigma of mental illness in Canada still is. Some of the key findings are:
Be mindful that we all know more than one person with some mental illness who silently struggles each day as an estimated 500,000 Canadians miss work each day due to some form of mental illness (Mental Health Commission of Canada). When stigmas such as the above exist, it makes it very difficult for someone who has a mental illness to be open and honest about their battle or to even seek help. Awareness of the stigma exists and steps are being taken to help break it down. Bell's "Let's Talk" day is one step in the right direction. The next step starts with you opening that conversation and having it all year long. Mental health disorders simply do not disappear that fast without the proper help, love and support of family and friends.
There's no denying it, we are in the thick of cold and flu season. If you're not sick then chances are at least one person around you is: a family member; someone at work; someone at the store you were just at or even someone at the gym.
Since the flu virus is not the cartoon version commonly seen in commercials, it is hard to tell when you are being exposed to it. Other times, despite your best efforts, you still get sick. So what do you do when you finally admit that you're sick?
Hydration, hydration, hydration! A glass of water may not be all that appetizing when you're congested and feeling unwell. A glass of orange juice may seem like a good idea but when you're sick, it is better to avoid it. Yes it does contain vitamin C but it also has a lot of sugar, which hinders the body's ability to fight an infection. On the other hand, a cup of hot tea will provide the hydration you need, soothe your throat and ease your congestion. Depending on the type of tea, it can be full of antioxidants and other immune boosting herbs. If you feel vitamin C helps you then you can always add some fresh squeezed lemon to your tea for the benefits. If tea is not something you keep in the house then hot water with fresh squeezed lemon, honey and ginger is soothing and therapeutic.
It is common to lose your appetite when you're sick and the thought of food isn't that appealing. However, food is important to help your body fight your infection. Chicken noodle soup is a favorite comfort food for many of us and it is an excellent choice. The broth is warm and soothing and the chicken provides protein, which our bodies still need in an easily digestible form. Garlic and onions are great to have in your soup, as they are antimicrobials.
Sweating is important to help aid your body. This does not mean going to the gym and continuing with your regular work out while the very thought of movement is exhausting. Rather, the steam room or sauna are excellent ways to help your body sweat out the toxins. If those are not easily accessible then a hot shower or a bath can be helpful and soothing for those body aches too!
Rest is essential. Your energy levels are not the same as when you are healthy and the smallest tasks can leave you exhausted. In your typical daily life you may be a superhero but when you're sick you need to rest and that doesn't mean working from home for the day. It means sleeping as much as you need and doing nothing. You may have a lot going on in your life that taking a sick day seems difficult but by pushing through it when you're sick, it will take you longer to recover. Give yourself the few days to sleep and rest so you can return to your old superhero self faster.
It is also important to remember the simple things we do to avoid getting sick. Cover your mouth when you sneeze, wash your hands often and avoid touching your face. The last thing you want to do is pass your germs to those around you. It is no fun being sick but it is also stressful being around other sick people when the constant fear of getting sick again remains so to avoid being ill again limit the spread of your germs.
Probiotics can help boost your immune system and fight your infection. They are thought to stimulate the immune system, inhibit pathogens thus reducing their colonization. Probiotics are strain and dose specific but you always want to look for one that is a live culture and requires refrigeration. There are numerous natural products on the market for colds and flu's and certain ones are better for specific symptoms. Rather than relying on the internet to figure out which one might work for you, be sure to talk to someone who knows natural health products to ensure you are taking the right one for you. If your symptoms worsen or you are not getting better after a few days, then consult your health care provider.
The hype and attention surrounding the super food Kale has been persistent. But what exactly is Kale?
It looks like lettuce but is far more nutritious than it. It is a leafy green vegetable belonging to the brassica family, which also includes cabbage, broccoli, collard greens and brussels sprouts. It comes in various varieties and commonly is seen with green or purple leaves. The versatility of Kale allows it to be consumed raw, cooked, baked, juiced or in a smoothie.
Why is Kale a super food? Just one cup of chopped kale has only 33 calories, 5 grams of fiber and 0 grams of fat making it high in fiber, zero fat and a low calorie food and it contains no cholesterol. Fiber is important for proper digestion, it helps with detoxification of the body and liver and it binds bile, which in turn lowers blood cholesterol levels thus reducing the risk of heart disease. Kale is also packed full of various vitamins, minerals, copper, potassium, iron, manganese and phosphorus.
Kale is high in iron. 100g of beef has 1.6 mg of iron while 100g of raw kale has 1.5 mg. Iron is important as it transports oxygen in our bodies, builds blood and is needed for many proteins in the body. Kale is also high in calcium, which keeps bones and teeth healthy, stabilizes blood pressure, plays a role in clotting and contributes to normal brain function. A 100g serving of 2% milk has 120 mg of Calcium while 100g serving of kale contains 150mg; meaning gram for gram, kale has more calcium than milk. Omega 3 fatty acids are also found in kale which are anti inflammatory in nature and important to decrease the inflammation found in arthritis, asthma and allergies.
Kale is loaded with antioxidants in the form of Vitamin A, C, E, K, carotenoids and flavonoids. Vitamin A is important for vision, skin and supporting the immune system. One cup of kale has 134% of the daily recommended vitamin A. Vitamin C is important for the immune system, a natural antihistamine and important in collagen formation. That same cup of kale has 134% of your daily recommended vitamin C while a medium orange has 116% of the daily vitamin C. Vitamin E plays a role in red blood cell formation, supports the immune system and prevents the formation of blood clots. Kale has 684% of the daily-recommended amount of Vitamin K, which is important for normal blood clotting and bone formation. Kale also contains lutein and zeaxanthin, which are important for promoting eye health.
Kale is delicious as a pizza topping, in a salad with balsamic vinegar and carrots, tossed with pasta with olive oils or as kale chips.
Here's a recipe for Kale, Beet, Carrot and Avocado Salad
• 1 bunch kale, stemmed and finely chopped
• 2 carrots grated
• 3 beets grated
• 1 avocado, peeled, pitted and cut into halves
• 1/2 of pomegranate's seeds
In a large bowl add the chopped kale. Using your hands massage the avocado into the kale as thoroughly as possible. Once the kale is coated, add the grated carrots, beets and pomegranate seeds. Toss as evenly as possible.
• 2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice freshly squeezed
• 3 tbsp. olive oil
• 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
• Pinch of salt
• Ground pepper to taste
Combine above in small bowl. Toss salad. Serve chilled.
Please note if you are on warfarin/ Coumadin avoid large amounts of kale due to it's high vitamin K content. As well, raw kale is goitrogenic so consume with caution if at risk.
A new year; a new you! A clean slate and a fresh start! The New Year brings the promise of a brand new year filled with new adventures, goals, accomplishments and self-growth. This is also the time of year that most of us make New Years Resolutions after a season of over indulgence, family gatherings, extravagant dinners and drinks. Self-reflection is an important part of our lifelong self-growth and resolutions can play an important role towards this. However, does it seem that you make similar resolutions each year without success?
This year approach it a bit differently.
First of all, BE REALISTIC with your resolutions. If you want to lose weight or get into better shape but hate the gym then joining the gym to exercise is not going to be a lasting change. The key is not to start training for a marathon from day one but to increase your level of activity compared to what it was before. If your normal level of activity is not very active then you just need to increase that. We all think that the gym is the only way to exercise or get into better shape yet this is not true. Approach your resolution as making changes that you find realistic and can stick with 3 months, 6 months or a year from now. They do not need to be big or drastic changes but realistic ones.
Secondly, BE PATIENT! You did not gain the weight over night so it is going to take some time to lose that weight or break that bad habit you are trying to change. Be patient with yourself even if you do not immediately see the results you expect. Remember you have just made a change towards better health and that is an accomplishment on it's own. In terms of weight loss a goal of losing 1-2 lbs. a week is realistic. Anything more than that, increases your changes of regaining that weight. You want your resolution to be a lifelong change and not a temporary one.
Thirdly, BE OPEN to the possibility of new things. If your goal is to get into better shape this year, then why not take 2014 as the year to figure out what you like to do? Pick a new activity every month and try it. You already know what you do not like to do, now make this about figuring out what you enjoy. Once you find that activity you enjoy then better fitness becomes easier to achieve. Why not try Zumba, a spin class, Aquafit or hot yoga?
On that note, instead of having New Years Resolutions for the entire year, have 12 goals; one for each month. Something big or small that you would like to work on but make it a realistic goal that you can work towards comfortably and then build on it from there.
Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine in Okotoks and Calgary.
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