Tuesday, August 15, 2017

How To Treat Estrogen Dominance Through Diet And Lifestyle

Annex Naturopathic

How to treat estrogen dominance | Annex Naturopathic Clinic Toronto Naturopaths

Estrogen dominance is a sinister hormone imbalance that typically isn’t caused by one single factor.

Our previous two articles - What Are The Causes of Estrogen Dominance?, and Estrogen Dominance: The Hormone Imbalance You’re Told You Don’t Have - outlined the main reasons why someone may have estrogen dominance and the health conditions associated with having poor estrogen metabolism.

Understanding that liver health, diet, inflammation and environmental exposures all play a crucial role in your estrogen health, here are a few simple changes you can make in order to optimize your estrogen status

1. Support liver health

We have a whole article on why liver health is important, and now we know that liver health is also important in preventing estrogen dominance.

Improve your liver health by eating clean, emphasizing consumption of bitter leafy greens, drink a good amount of water and reduce your toxin load by reducing preservative-laden foods.

2. Eat Brassicae family (Cabbage) vegetables

This food group is particularly important in estrogen dominance.

Brassicae family vegetables contains a compound called Indole-3-carbinol (I3C), which has been found to favour healthy phase 1 conversion of estrogen to 2-OH-estrogens in women, which we know is protective against estrogen dominant conditions, while decreasing other metabolites (16-OH-estrogens), known to exacerbate estrogen dominant conditions (1-3).

This group of veggies are a great source of fibre, which is also great for binding and clearing estrogens, contain tonnes of antioxidants that help protect the liver against oxidative damage.

Members of this family include:

  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Kale
  • Rutabaga
  • Rapini
  • Kohlrabi
  • Bokchoy
  • Collard Greens

I always suggest lightly cooking these vegetables before consuming - raw forms can be hard on the stomach and can also slow down thyroid function.

3. Reduce stress

Practicing stress-relieving activities is good for overall health.

The stress hormone cortisol, when secreted in excess, will alter blood sugar metabolism - increasing glucose and insulin.

High insulin states perpetuate inflammation, and promote obesity, two risk factors for estrogen dominance.

Imbalanced cortisol on its own has been linked to higher inflammatory states.  Progesterone, the hormone that balances estrogen and regulates its effects, is also lowered by high cortisol and inflammation.

Try reducing stress by exercising, practicing mediation and mindfulness.

You can read more about how to reduce stress from a previous article.

How to treat hormonal imbalance | Annex Naturopathic Clinic Toronto Naturopaths

4. Eat clean meats and reduce meat consumption

Diet full of poor quality saturated fat and trans-fats promote inflammation - poor quality meats tend to be riddled with high amounts of these type fats.

Animals fed grain and corn aren’t as lean and tend to be fed antibiotics and injected with hormones to increase their weight for greater profit.

These added chemicals not only increase the chemical load on our body when we consume these foods, the added hormones add estrogen to our bodies, promoting estrogen dominance!

Go with grass-fed, pasture-raised meats, or at least try to pick meats that are raised hormone and antibiotic-free.

Compounds found in well-cooked meat (heterocyclic amines and metabolites) can bind to and active estrogen receptors (4).To control levels of inflammation related to increased meat consumption, try eating 4-5 ounces, high quality red meat 1-2x a week, poultry up to 3x/week, and fish 2-3x/week.

Focus on legumes and eggs to fill the protein for the rest of your meals.  If you go with soy, pick organic soy, and eat 1 cup cooked 1-2x/week for a balanced phytoestrogenic effect.

Dairy should be avoided as many people are sensitive to dairy and it’s proteins (not just lactose), and milk from pregnant cows are very high in estrogen.

If you choose to eat dairy, go for ethically raised, organic cheeses and yogurt as they are better for the digestion, and stay away from liquid milk forms as a whole.

5. Avoid chemical products

As we saw, there are a number of chemical compounds that mimic estrogen in the body, increase aromatase, are liver toxic, and in general are carcinogenic.

Chemicals specifically found to lead to estrogen-dominant conditions, specifically cancers, include (4):

  • Found in cosmetic products and soaps:
    • metalloestrogens such as aluminum salts
    • parabens
    • cyclosiloxanes
    • triclosan (found in hand sanitizer)
    • phthalates
    • musk
    • UV sunscreens
  • Plastic packaging:
    • Styrene - a widely used plastic for food packaging
    • Bisphenol-A (BPA): the WORST - found to activate aromatase, lower progesterone effect, bind and activate estrogen

6. Balance your progesterone

Many women are walking around with low levels of progesterone, typically due to stress - which could be the biggest reason why estrogen dominance is present.

Symptoms of low progesterone include

  • PMS symptoms such as depression (intense), breast tenderness in the upper outer quadrants of the breast, acne, migraines and night sweats
  • Pre-menstrual spotting or spotting throughout the cycle (breakthrough bleeding)
  • Many women come in feeling that their PMS symptoms start long before 1 week before their menstrual flow - typically starting right after ovulation. This is a classic sign progesterone deficiency.

If you suspect that you might have estrogen dominance, progesterone deficiency, or you’re unsure, book with one of us - we are able to provide a thorough assessment on your hormonal health.

We also offer testing to assess estrogen dominance through measuring the different estrogen metabolites (such as 2-OH, 4-OH, 16-OH) through urine testing.

If you’re curious to learn more about this subject or would like to consult with one of our NDs feel free to book a visit or contact us.

Yours in Health,


Annex Naturopathic Clinic
572 Bloor St W #201, Toronto, ON M6G 1K1
-https://goo.gl/maps/uVRBvcyoUa62


References

  1. Rogan EG. The natural chemopreventive compound indole-3-carbinol: state of the science. In Vivo. 2006 Mar-Apr;20(2):221-8.
  2. Michnovicz JJ. Changes in levels of urinary estrogen metabolites after oral indole-3-carbinol treatment in humans. J Natl Cancer Inst. 1997 May 21;89(10):718-23.
  3. Reed GA., et. al. A phase I study of indole-3- carbinol in women: tolerability and effects. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2005 Aug;14(8):1953-60.
  4. Fucic A et. al. Environmental exposure to xenoestrogens and oestrogen related cancers: reproductive system, breast, lung, kidney, pancreas, and brain. Environ Health. 2012 Jun 28;11 Suppl 1:S8

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Tuesday, August 8, 2017

What Are The Causes of Estrogen Dominance?

The Causes of Estrogen Dominance | Annex Naturopathic Clinic Toronto Naturopath

Our last article outlined what estrogen dominance is, and how liver health plays a role in estrogen metabolism and estrogen dominance.  There are a number of other causes for estrogen dominance - many of which are influenced by your day to day lifestyle.  It may be surprising to you to find out that many daily exposures can increase your chance of developing estrogen dominance.

Inflammation

Inflammation is the worst.

This chronic condition has been tied to basically all disease - heart disease, cancer, mental health conditions, to name a few.  Inflammation plays a crucial role in the development of estrogen dominance.

As we know from the previous article, proper liver health is crucial for proper estrogen metabolism, and one way inflammation can impact estrogen dominance is burdening liver function.

However, there’s another way inflammation can directly affect estrogen dominance - through activation of an enzyme called aromatase, a cytochrome P450 enzyme active in the liver, skin, bones, ovaries, adipose tissue, adrenal glands, brain and breasts - everywhere where estrogen has an effect on the tissue.

Aromatase is an enzyme that is key for estrogen synthesis in a healthy biological female and works in regulation with the body to keep estrogen conversion from androgens healthy and limited.

Estrogen dominant conditions, such as endometriosis, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, are associated with increased and dysregulated aromatase activity(1).  There has been direct relationship between inflammation and aromatase activity, with much of the research looking in to how obesity, a disease of chronic inflammation, activates aromatase.

The link between inflammation and increased aromatase is a vicious cycle - increased adipose tissue is riddled with inflammatory structures (crown-like structures) which secrete pro-inflammatory signals.

These inflammatory signals increase aromatase activity in the adipose tissues, which in turn increases estrogen production.  Excessive estrogen can cause problems with blood sugar (insulin resistance) and can mess with your hormone leptin, the hormone that makes you feel full - therefore promotes obesity.

These inflammatory crown-like-structures were not only found in adipose tissue but in breast tissue in overweight-obese women undergoing surgery for breast cancer.(2).

But it’s not just related to weight - both obese and non-obese women with marked inflammation (detected on bloodwork), and conditions of inflammation such as insulin resistance (high blood sugar) are at higher risk of developing breast cancer through increased aromatase activity (3,4).

Pain occurs typically in response to inflammation, so it makes sense that if estrogen dominance is an inflammatory condition, why symptoms are centred around pain (painful periods, painful breasts).

Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals

There are a number of environmental causes for increases of aromatase activity.  Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical commonly found in plastic that has been found to increase both aromatase and inflammation.

BPA has been deemed an ovarian, uterine and reproductive toxicant - therefore do not consume! (5)  Other causes such as alcohol, chemical home care products, the birth control pill, smoking and pesticides (glyphosates) all increase aromatase activity (1).
BPA has also been found to increase the production of the “bad” estrogen metabolite, 4-OH-estrogen, compared to 2-OH pathway, which we know increases risk of estogen-dominant conditions (remember the last article?)

Not only do these chemicals increase aromatase activity, they can directly bind to estrogen receptors, stronger than actual estrogen, causing excessive estrogen-like effects on the tissue.

These are called xenoestrogens, can play a large role in the development in estrogen-related cancers such as breast cancers, uterine and ovarian cancer (7).

Xenoestrogens are a group of chemicals found in environmental pollutants (pesticides), chemical products (BPA in plastic) cosmetic products [parabens, metalloestrogens (cadium, aluminum), phathlates, musk etc].

Estrogen Dominance Hormonal Imbalance | Annex Naturopathic Clinic Toronto Naturopath

Progesterone Imbalance

This hormone is an important factor in estrogen dominance.

Progesterone is responsible for “balancing” estrogen, so appropriate levels of progesterone are important for preventing estrogen-dominant conditions.

Just like estrogen, progesterone is affected by inflammation - an inflammatory molecule called prostaglandin-E2 (PGE-2), not only stimulates aromatase, but also blocks progesterone receptor expression, therefore reducing the progesterone effect.

Progesterone can also be reduced in the face of high stress - this is because progesterone and the stress hormone cortisol, are made from the same ingredient, pregnenolone.  When you’re stressed, your body needs to make more cortisol, so progesterone production suffers.

High cortisol also encourages inflammation, as we know further encourages estrogen dominance by increasing aromatase, and blocking progesterone.

So now that we know environmental factors, stress and inflammation can also contribute to estrogen dominance, the next article will centre around how we can improve estrogen, progesterone balance and reduce inflammation through diet and lifestyle methods.

If you’re curious to learn more about this subject or would like to consult with one of our NDs feel free to book a visit or contact us.

Yours in Health,


Annex Naturopathic Clinic
572 Bloor St W #201, Toronto, ON M6G 1K1
-https://goo.gl/maps/uVRBvcyoUa62


References

  • Patel S. Disruption of aromatase homeostasis as the cause of a multiplicity of ailments: A comprehensive review.J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2017 Apr;168:19-25.
  • Morris P et. al. Inflammation and increased aromatase expression occur in the breast tissue of obese women with breast cancer. Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2011 Jul;4(7):1021-9.
  • Brown KA et. al. Menopause Is a Determinant of Breast Aromatase Expression and Its Associations With BMI, Inflammation, and Systemic Markers.J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2017 May 1;102(5):1692-1701.
  • Iyengar NM., et. al. Metabolic Obesity, Adipose Inflammation and Elevated Breast Aromatase in Women with Normal Body Mass Index.Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2017 Apr;10(4):235-243
  • Peretz J et. al Bisphenol a and reproductive health: update of experimental and human evidence, 2007-2013.Environ Health Perspect. 2014 Aug;122(8):775-86
  • Kim EJ et. al Association between urinary levels of bisphenol-A and estrogen metabolism in Korean adults.Sci Total Environ. 2014 Feb 1;470-471:1401-7
  • Fucic A et. al. Environmental exposure to xenoestrogens and oestrogen related cancers: reproductive system, breast, lung, kidney, pancreas, and brain.Environ Health. 2012 Jun 28;11 Suppl 1:S8

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Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Estrogen Dominance: The Hormone Imbalance You’re Told You Don’t Have

Hormone Imbalance & Estrogen Dominance | Annex Naturopathic Clinic Toronto

As a female naturopathic doctor, I have a a great deal of experience in women's health issues. Much of it treating conditions like hormone imbalances and their effects on our quality of life.

Hormone imbalances are a complicated thing though.

Often times women will feel that their hormones are off, but after blood work and basic analysis, it’s likely that everything will come back “normal”.

So how is it that hormones are normal, yet one day your body feels completely off, or that you one day find that you have fibroids? or endometriosis? or fertility issues?

What are some of the signs and symptoms that could lead you to potentially prevent and actually treat these conditions, instead of coming up with band-aid solutions to cover up the symptoms?

What is Estrogen Dominance?

Estrogen dominance is a hormonal condition that is often never detected in conventional medicine - the term dominance may indicate that a high level of estrogen would be detected on routine blood work, but this is not often the case.

In fact, estrogen typically comes back “within normal range” in women who have estrogen dominance - how is this so?

This is because estrogen dominance is a functional hormonal imbalance and is not a “excess” condition.

A functional hormonal imbalance indicates that while the body is clearly performing daily as it should, there are signs and symptoms that one experiences, whether it be mild or debilitating, indicate that the overall system is compromised.

This may not be a big deal, but if undetected and left untreated, can lead to chronic disease.

Signs and Symptoms of Estrogen Dominance

The interesting thing about estrogen dominance is that it’s highly common in our society - many women experience symptoms of estrogen dominance monthly, some more severely than others.

The typical symptoms of estrogen dominance include:

  • PMS symptoms such as irritability, breast tenderness/swelling, premenstrual pain, acne, constipation, bloating, headaches
  • Painful periods
  • Irregular periods
  • Insomnia
  • Cyclical moodiness

Many women experience these symptoms and are told they are “normal”.

They are considered normal because these symptoms are a “societal norm”, meaning that many people have these symptoms so therefore it’s normal, but from a health perspective, this is not normal!

If you have mild symptoms, it’s likely that you’re fine, but if any of these symptoms become  severe and affect your day to day living, you definitely should consider being assessed for estrogen dominance.

Mainstream treatment for these symptoms usually involve being on hormonal contraception (birth control), anti-depressants, or pain-medications, and while these may help control your symptoms, none of these solutions actually target the root cause.

If the root cause isn’t treated, it can lead to chronic disease

Hormone Imbalance & Hormone Tests | Annex Naturopathic Clinic Toronto

Associated Symptoms

When you have increased amounts of estrogen in your body, this can highly affect estrogen-sensitive tissues.

The tissues that are most affected are in the breast and uterus.

Why is breast tenderness and swelling caused by estrogen-dominance?

It’s because your breast tissue is hyper-stimulated.

Why do you feel pain during your menstrual flow, or experience extremely heavy flows when you have estrogen-dominance?

This is because your uterine lining is hyper-stimulated by estrogen dominance.

When these tissues are hyper-stimulated, that leads to “cell proliferation” - long term cell-proliferation in the breast can lead to breast cancer.

Long-term cell proliferation in the uterus is called endometrial hyperplasia, which is a risk factor for uterine fibroids, endometriosis and uterine cancer.

What causes estrogen dominance?

Estrogen dominance is when there is an abundance of estrogen wrecking havoc on the body that isn’t being balanced by other hormones, or properly cleared by the liver.

Reasons for why someone can have estrogen dominances are stemmed from:

  1. Biochemical imbalances and genetic-related dysfunction of liver detoxification
  2. Increased estrogen production due to chemical exposure and inflammation
  3. Relative excess due to another hormone deficiency
  4. Environmental and dietary exposure to xenoestrogens.

I will go through each of these reasons in detail in upcoming articles.

Today we will focus on liver detoxification.

Estrogen and liver detoxification

Estrogen is activated and then detoxified by the liver.

Liver detoxification occurs in phases.

Phase 1 Liver Detoxification

Phase 1 is responsible for exposing a hydroxyl-group (OH) to the estrogen (estrone E1 for this discussion) molecule, which breaks it down to many different estrogen “metabolites” with this OH group.

Each metabolite has it’s own impact and function on the body.  When the liver is working properly, it breaks estrogen down so the ratio of these metabolites favour optimal estrogen effect: an abundance of the protective 2-OH-E1 metabolite.

When the liver is having problems with phase 1, then it may favour the production of other estrogen metabolites, ones that have carcinogenic (cancer-causing) effects on the estrogen-sensitive tissue - these metabolites are 16-OH-E1 and 4-OH-E1.

The reason why the liver may favour the production of some metabolites versus the other comes down to which enzymes are activated.  2-OH-E1 is produce through the CYP1A1 enzyme, 4-OH-E1 through CYP1B1 and 16-OH-E1 CYP3A4, all of these are part of Phase 1 enzyme system called the Cytochrome P450 system.

One could have a genetic abnormality in the enzyme for 2-OH-E1 (CYP1A1), or could be lacking the essential “cofactors” to the enzyme, rendering the enzyme more sluggish and unable to keep up with 2-OH-E1 production.

One could also be exposed to environmental toxins that can also render the enzyme functionally slow, or simply have a diet that isn’t rich in foods that favour the production of 2-OH-E1.

Or for some reason, the enzymes for 4 and 16-OH-E1 can be upregulated, favouring their production over 2-OH-E1.

Phase 2 Liver Detoxification

Phase 2 is all about conjugation - binding the now hydrolyzed estrogen to a methyl-group to exert further effects of the body and to prepare the estrogen for excretion out of the body.

2-OH-E1 and 4-OH-E1 are conjugated by the same enzyme called COMT - this enzyme is essential for turning these in to 2 and 4 -methoxy-E1.  2-methoxy-E1 is protective to the body, while 4-methoxy-E1 is neutralized by this process.

COMT is also important for producing antioxidants by the liver, which are protective against cancers.  Therefore, if this enzyme is dysfunctional (for reasons as suggested for the other enzymes above), then the protective and neutralizing effects are diminished.

In fact, studies found that women who have genetic abnormalities in the COMT gene had higher risk for estrogen-related disease, such as uterine fibroids, endometriosis, breast and uterine cancer (see below for references).

This genetic susceptibility also has been found to be dependent on ethnicity - for example women of African descent being the one of the most susceptible groups for uterine fibroids.

What we do know is that liver health is important for regulation of estrogen-metabolism and can play a significant role on how we develop estrogen-related disease.

Our phase 1 and phase 2 health decline as we age, our exposure to environmental pollutants and our nutrition.  Take a look at our article on Liver Health to find out ways we can improve the strength and functionality of our detoxification processes, potentially improving our estrogen health.

Next week we will go through how inflammation, and other hormone imbalances can be associated with estrogen dominance and nutritional and herbal strategies to improve our overall hormonal health and to prevent chronic disease.

If you’re curious to learn more about this subject or would like to consult with one of our NDs feel free to book a visit or contact us.

Yours in Health,

Dr. Tanya Lee, N.D
Annex Naturopathic Clinic
572 Bloor St W #201, Toronto, ON M6G 1K1
-https://goo.gl/maps/uVRBvcyoUa62


References

1) Shen Y et. al. Role of single nucleotide polymorphisms in estrogen-metabolizing enzymes and susceptibility to uterine leiomyoma in Han Chinese: a case-control study.J Obstet Gynaecol Res. 2014 Apr;40(4):1077-84. 

2)Huang CS et. al. Breast cancer risk associated with genotype polymor- phism of the estrogen-metabolizing genes CYP17, CYP1A1, and COMT: a multigenic study on cancer susceptibility. Cancer Res 1999. 59:4870–4875

3) Al-Hendy A, Salama SA., Catechol-O-methyltransferase polymorphism is associated with increased uterine leiomyoma risk in different ethnic groups.J Soc Gynecol Investig. 2006 Feb;13(2):136-44.

4) Zhao XM., et. al. Polymorphism of catechol-o-methyltransferase gene in relation to the risk of endometrial cancer. Zhonghua Fu Chan Ke Za Zhi.2007.42:116–119

5)Juo SH, et. al., CYP17, CYP1A1 and COMT polymorphisms and the risk of adenomyosis and endometriosis in Taiwanese women. Hum Re-prod 2006. 21:1498–1502

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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Botanical of the Month – Red Clover (Trifolium Pratense)

Botanical of the Month - Red Clover | Annex-Naturopathic-Clinic-Toronto-Naturopathic-Doctor

As a Toronto naturopath, I like to educate my patients on how to incorporate local herbs and foods into their lifestyles for long term health.

Each month I’ll be highlighting a local, seasonal, Ontario herb in order to help you understand and familiarize yourself with useful medical herbs and food that grow right outside your door.

You will be able to recognize these otherwise known “weeds” as powerful medicine that grow in harmony with your everyday surroundings.

We’re seeing Red Clover (Trifolium pratenseeverywhere!

My friend and I spotted these flowers earlier this July on one of our hikes and since then I’ve been seeing them on neighbour’s lawns, parks, along the west Toronto railpath, even in one coming up through a sidewalk crack.

This is one of my favourite herbs to use in practice.

Red Clover is a perennial plant originating from Europe, Africa and West Asia, but has been naturalized all over the world.

It’s characterized by its dark pink-purple flowering head, and trifoliate leaves, and grows to be about 20-80cm tall.

This plant is actually considered a legume/bean plant, being part of the Fabaceae/Papilionaceae family, which is home to many commonly known legumes such as peas, chickpeas, lentils and many beans.

Parts Used: Flowers heads

Uses for Red Clover

Edibility

Trifolium pratense flowers can be pulled off and eaten.  The flower parts stimulate the salivary glands, making it great for chewing on when you’re thirsty, or parched and don’t have immediate access to water.

It can also be enjoyed as a sweet tea.

Medicine

Red clover exerts its actions best in females and children.

Detoxification and lymphatic drainage

Traditionally, red clover has been considered a “blood purifier” or “alterative” meaning that it cleans out and regulates the body.

This action refers to the specific ability of red clover to remove unwanted toxins (dead tissue, inflammatory molecules) from the blood through lymphatic stimulation, and breaks up thick blood through anti-coagulant actions.

Basically, it helps fluids to move efficiently throughout the body.  This action makes Red Clover particularly useful in the treatment of chronic skin conditions, such as eczema, psoriasis and acne, particularly in children.

Red clover is also known to be used in coughs and bronchitis, particularly helpful in suppressing uncontrollable coughs, and in aiding the lungs to expectorate stubborn and accumulated mucus (Another pediatric application - is useful in children who catch the dreadfully persistent whooping cough).

It action on the glands of the neck and sinuses also help clear post-nasal drip (stubborn mucus dripping down the throat from the sinuses).

As mentioned above, red clover gently stimulates the salivary glands, making a great remedy for side effects of radiation or any condition where saliva production is compromised.

It’s also great for single swollen lymph nodes

Women’s health

Red clover is useful in the treatment in women’s health conditions with either estrogen deficiency and estrogen excess.

Red clover contains chemical called “phytoestrogens” (isoflavinoids) that actually binds and activates the estrogen receptor.  This make Trifolium pratense useful in mitigating menopausal symptoms, a life-stage for females characterized by declining estrogen.

Symptoms such as hot flashes, sleeplessness, weight gain, vaginal dryness and anxiety, can be directly linked to estrogen deficiency.  However, the small amount of research studies on the effect of Red Clover on menopausal symptoms show mixed results in efficacy.

Maybe it’s because the shape of phytoestrogens in red clover do not exactly fit the receptors in the vasomotor system (system responsible for many symptoms in menopause).  What if it fit perfectly in the other systems of the body with all different types of estrogen receptors? There is almost zero research on this effect of red Clover, but it's a possibility.

Estrogen plays a protective role in many aspects of female health, so when females go through menopause, they are at higher risk for cardiovascular disease, and osteoporosis.

Not only can the phytoestrogenic effect potentially prevent these conditions, but the added antioxidant (flavinoids), and blood-thinning properties (coumarins and salicylates) also help.

Here’s the controversy - if red clover contains phytoestrogens, wouldn’t that increase your risk for estrogen-dependent cancers?

This is the question asked all the time when it comes to plants with phytoestrogen compounds, such as red clover and soy.  The answer isn’t simple, but if you want a simple answer, it’s probably not.

Phytoestrogens do bind to estrogen-receptors, but they’re actually considered protective against estrogen-dependent cancer, such as breast and uterine.  This effective has been found in soy, another phytoestrogenic plant.

This is because phytoestrogens can competitively bind to estrogen receptor, blocking cancer-causing Xenoestrogens (found in plastics, pollution, chemical cleaners, hormone-laden meats) from binding and overstimulating the receptor.

When phytoestrogens bind to the estrogen receptors, the signal is less intense, more regulating (just like our own endogenous estrogens), and some phytoestrogens can actually block the signal, exerting an antagonistic estrogen effect.

There hasn’t been enough research to confirm this clinically, however preliminary research studies has found taking red clover for a year does not seem to increase endometrial growth (leading to uterine cancer).

However, due to the lack of strong evidence, it’s suggested that women with a history of estrogen-positive breast cancer, or uterine cancer, should avoid the use of Red Clover.

Field of Red Clover | Annex-Naturopathic-Clinic-Toronto-Naturopathic-Doctor

Forms

You can get red clover as a standardized capsule in powder form, basically taking it as a pharmaceutical drug.

There are many products on the market that will sell Red Clover in this form for the use of mitigating menopausal symptoms.

Because of the lack of consistent in the evidence of whether red clover helps menopause, the abundance of other herbs that treat these symptoms really well, and the lack evidence on the safety of this herb in estrogen-positive cancers, I don’t generally tend to rely on Red clover to treat these conditions, especially at these higher doses.

I like using Red Clover as a tea or as a low-dose tincture.  With the alterative “regulating” nature of the herb, and the consistent traditional use of Red Clover as a lymphatic stimulator, blood thinner and affinity to the neck and head glands , I generally tend to use Red Clover for these conditions.

In children, teas and low dose tincture have a strong effect but tend to be gentle enough to prevent any unwanted effects.

I do recommend red clover tea to menopausal women as a daily drink/food item, and although there is no strong evidence to support the strong phytoestrogenic, immediate effect on menopausal symptoms, the phytoestrogenic compounds in the herb may still be beneficial as a nutritional food to keep the system healthy and strong post-menopause and prevent long term health problems associated with estrogen-deficiency.

Caution

Do not use Red clover if you have history of estrogen-positive breast cancer or uterine cancer, if you’re on blood thinners, or have a clotting disorder.

If you’re curious to learn more about this subject or would like to consult with one of our NDs feel free to book a visit or contact us.

Yours in Health,

Dr. Tanya Lee, N.D
Annex Naturopathic Clinic
572 Bloor St W #201, Toronto, ON M6G 1K1
-https://goo.gl/maps/uVRBvcyoUa62


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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Does Gluten Deserve its Bad Reputation?

Is Gluten Bad? | Annex-Naturopathic-Clinic-Toronto-Naturopathic-Doctor-in-the-Annex-July03-01

At our naturopathic clinic in Toronto, in recent years especially, our naturopathic doctors are being asked about gluten more regularly.

"Is it good for me?"

"Is it bad for me?"

The infamous protein explained.

Gluten-free is definitely fashionable- but is it functional? Many people are opting to eliminate gluten from their diets- often with no diagnosis of celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.

Unfortunately, “gluten-free” is not synonymous with “healthy”.

Many gluten-free products are high in sugar, preservatives and unlike wheat flour, they are not fortified with vitamins and minerals.

Nonetheless, many people feel better when they take gluten out of their diet.

What is gluten?

Gluten is substance found in the endosperm of wheat, rye and barley grains. It is comprised of the proteins “Gliadin” and “Glutenin”.

Grains, and how we consume them, differs from that of our ancestral history.

Today grains make up a major part of our diet- remember the food group pyramid you learned in school- where the foundation was grains?

Well, that food pyramid is not something we share in common with our early human ancestors who ate almost no grains at all. The domestication of wheat happened about 10,000 years ago.

In more recent history, composition of wheat has changed due to hybridization of strains which has increased wheat’s gluten content dramatically.

Gluten Sensitivity | Annex-Naturopathic-Clinic-Toronto-Naturopathic-Doctor-in-the-Annex-July03-01

What is it about gluten containing grains that irritates our gut?

Gluten can increase “zonulin”, a protein in the gastrointestinal tract that can cause leaky gut. Leaky gut, or intestinal permeability, occurs when the tight junctions (the connection) between intestinal cells open up, allowing larger molecules that shouldn’t cross the intestinal barrier, to go into the blood stream causing inflammation.

It may not be the gluten alone, but the herbicides used in conventional farming are likely contributing to intestinal imbalances.

Glyphosate is a commonly used herbicide used in grain farming. If a substance can kills weeds and bugs- think about what it could do to the microflora in our gut (our healthy bacteria).

Glyphosate is known to kill beneficial bacteria and decrease the absorption of certain vitamins and minerals.

We do not definitively know the reason for the rising prevalence of gluten sensitivity.

It may be that a combination of increased wheat consumption, increased gluten content of wheat, and rising glyphosate residues in conventional grain products are contributing to dysbiosis, intestinal inflammation, and ultimately gluten intolerance.

What should you do?

Recommendations, in terms of complete gluten elimination, need to be made on an individual basis via comprehensive assessment by a qualified healthcare provider.

However, here are some recommendations that will benefit most individuals:

  • Reduce consumption of grains so that your diet favours protein and vegetables.
  • Eat organic and ancient varieties of wheat (einkorn or emmer) which would reduce pesticide residues and gluten content.

See a naturopathic doctor to assess if you have celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity in order to have a comprehensive plan that allows for optimal nutrition and overall health.

If you’re curious to learn more about this subject or would like to consult with one of our NDs feel free to book a visit or contact us.

Yours in Health,

Dr. Marnie Luck, N.D
Annex Naturopathic Clinic
572 Bloor St W #201, Toronto, ON M6G 1K1
-https://goo.gl/maps/uVRBvcyoUa62


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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Could You Be Gluten Sensitive Without Celiac Disease?

To eat, or not to eat wheat? That is the question.

The avoidance of gluten continues to be a hot topic in the media.

More and more people are opting for a gluten-free diet. For some people, eliminating gluten from their diet may be essential to not only maintaining the integrity of their gastrointestinal tract, but optimizing their overall health.

Digestion is the cornerstone of good health. If a person’s digestive capacity is impaired, many other areas of a person’s health can be adversely affected.

Not everyone who has a bad reaction to gluten has celiac disease. Non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) also negatively affects on the body, but does not produce the same disease process or complications that celiac disease does.

The naturopathic doctors at Annex Naturopathic Clinic are able to assess, diagnose and treat celiac disease and NCGS.

Dr. Luck and Dr. Lee can help determine whether or not you can include gluten in your diet and what treatment needs to be in place to heal the gut.

What is gluten?

Gluten is a protein found in wheat and some other grains including rye and barley.

What is celiac disease?

Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition.

Gluten causes the immune system to destroy intestinal cells. When intestinal cells are destroyed they lose their capacity to absorb nutrients causing chronic diarrhea, nutrient deficiencies and weight loss.

Celiac disease is associated with a much more serious risk profile than NCGS including neurologic dysfunction, osteoporosis, infertility, and other autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.

Why does celiac disease happen?

Genetics plays a strong role in whether or not someone will have celiac disease.

How is celiac disease diagnosed?

Serology (blood) testing for the antibodies against the intestinal tissues (endomysial antibodies (IgA EMA) and tissue transglutaminase antibodies (IgA tTG)).

If the antibodies are more than twice the normal limit, the patient likely has celiac disease.

Duodenal biopsy, tissue samples taken from the small intestine (which can only be ordered by a gastroenterologist), can confirm the serology testing.

These tests will only be accurate if the patient has ingested gluten consistently over the past 6 weeks.

What is non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS)?

NCGS is a reaction to gluten that does not involve the immune system and does not cause intestinal cell destruction. Gastrointestinal symptoms include abdominal pain, bloating, constipation and diarrhea. NCGS can also contribute to joint and muscle pain, skin rash, anemia and depression.

Why does NCGS happen?

The working theory as to the increased prevalence of NCGS is a combination of increased wheat consumption and the hybridized gluten content of wheat- today’s wheat contains far more gluten than it’s ancient ancestor.

How is NCGS diagnosed?

NCGS is a diagnosis of exclusion.

When celiac disease has been ruled out, there are no signs of malabsorption and the individual has improves on a gluten-free diet, a diagnosis of NCGS can be assumed.

If you are experiencing adverse reactions to gluten it is important to have a thorough work-up.

If you’re curious to learn more about this subject or would like to consult with one of our NDs feel free to book a visit or contact us.

Yours in Health,
Dr. Marnie Luck, N.D
Annex Naturopathic Clinic
572 Bloor St W #201, Toronto, ON M6G 1K1
-https://goo.gl/maps/uVRBvcyoUa62


To learn additional ways on health, wellness, and alternative medicine, please visit us here: Naturopathic Clinic, Annex Toronto


Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Top 5 Tips To Stay Healthy In The Summer Heat

top 5 tips to stay health in the summer | Annex Naturopathic Clinic | Naturopathic Doctor in Toronto

July and August are much anticipated months in Toronto. The summer season is short- optimizing your health can help you make the most our our short but ever so sweet summer.

Here are the top 5 tips from naturopathic doctors in Toronto to help you stay on your A-game.

1. Continue to supplement with vitamin D

You are probably thinking that because the sun is out longer, you are getting more vitamin D.

However, how much vitamin D your body synthesizes from the sun depends on a few factors: how much time is spent out side and at what time of day, the amount of skin exposed to the sun and the colour of your skin.

In order to get a good dose of vitamin D from the sun you need to be outside, in minimal clothing (bathing suit), when the sun is high in the sky.

You are synthesizing vitamin D in your skin if your shadow cast by the sun is shorter than your height.

If you have darker skin, you require more time in the sun to get the same amount of vitamin D as someone with lighter skin.

2. Get lot’s of vitamin “N”

You’ve never heard of vitamin N? It’s vitamin “nature”! Summer is a great time to get outside.

Time spent in natural settings:

  • Improves mental health.
  • Provides an opportunity for cognitive rejuvenation.
  • Reduces blood pressure.
  • Reduces cortisol our “stress” hormone.
  • Increases our parasympathetic tone- the “rest and restore” part of our nervous system.

3. Hydrate with water

We inherently need more water in the summer. Our bodies lose more water in the warmer months- we sweat more, and for some, consumption increases of diuretics like iced coffee and alcohol (patio season!).

Aim to drink 2-3 litres of water daily with these tips:

  • Start each morning with a big glass of water (option to add lemon).
  • For every cup of coffee or alcoholic drink have one big glass of water.

 top 5 tips to stay health in the summer | Annex Naturopathic Clinic | Naturopathic Doctor in Toronto

4. Take advantage of the local harvest

Local produce is in abundance during the summer months. Local food tastes better and it’s better for you and the environment.

Bite into summer by purchasing local food at:

  • Farmer’s markets.
  • Basket programs.
  • Grocery stores.
  • Farm stands outside the city.

5. Take it easy

With all of the additional daylight hours summer brings, schedules can fill up as we make the most of our short summer.

It’s important to open up some time to relax and reset.

After a busy weekend or travel make time to take it easy by:

  • Working from home (if possible).
  • Plan an additional day off as a home reset day.
  • Saying “no” when necessary.

If you’re curious to learn more about this subject or would like to consult with one of our NDs feel free to book a visit or contact us.

Yours in Health,

Dr. Marnie Luck, N.D
Annex Naturopathic Clinic
572 Bloor St W #201, Toronto, ON M6G 1K1
-https://goo.gl/maps/uVRBvcyoUa62


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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

6 Ways To Improve Your Liver’s Function For Better Living

6 Ways to improve your liver function | Annex Naturopathic Clinic | Toronto Naturopathic Doctor

Naturopathic doctors recognize that one of the most important organs of the body, but likely least known by their patients for its function, is the super organ - the LIVER.

The liver has so many functions, many of which are not obvious to us physically, unlike other major organs (lung= breathing, or stomach = feeling full/hungry).

When one thinks of the liver, one should think of the term DETOXIFICATION.

What Does The Liver Do?

The liver is a super organ that pretty much cleans out our entire body. The liver is the largest reservoir (storing blood and iron) and filtering system for blood, ridding the blood of impurities, before it is pumped back in to the bloodstream.

It is a major secretory organ, producing and releasing bile, which is necessary for proper digestion and absorption of fat-soluble nutrients, as well as the excretion of waste products. As a metabolic organ, the liver metabolizes and stores our everyday basic macronutrients such as carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.

The liver also activates/deactivates medication, hormones (such as estrogen), and toxic environmental chemicals (such as pesticides, BPA, food additives), through three stages of detoxification.

The liver is essential for the production of antioxidants, molecules that protect the body from oxidative damage from the toxins listed above.

Many health conditions, such as mood disorders, cardiovascular disease, hormonal disorders, cancer, and inflammatory disorders are started by oxidation, highlighting the importance of liver function to our long term health.

How Does An Unhealthy Liver Impact Me?

There are a number of daily habits that can slow down liver function.  The consumption of large amount of saturated and trans fats, excessive caffeine, sugar, and alcohol use, and foods high in preservatives can overwork the liver, draining the liver of its resources to function.

Also, these types of toxins do not provide anything useful to regenerate and rejuvenate the liver. Our daily exposure to environmental pollutants will do the same thing.  Once the liver function is compromised, many people can experience a number of symptoms such as fatigue, skin eruptions, poor digestion, and headaches.

For example, a congested/sluggish liver can also be related to digestive problems due to the poor production and secretion of bile necessary for digestion and breaking down fat soluble substances; after many years of sluggish bile, that stagnant bile can form in to stones.

The skin is also an organ of elimination and when the liver is unable to process toxins, and metabolic by-products, they will find other routes to be excreted, such as through the skin, manifesting as conditions like eczema and acne.

Poor liver function can also increase cholesterol levels, as regulatory mechanisms to stop endogenous production become compromised.

What Can I Do To Improve My Liver’s Function?

As our exposure to toxic environmental chemicals increases, we will be relying on the strength and health of our liver to keep us healthy and energetic.  Micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) we get through our diet are ESSENTIAL for our livers to function optimally.

If we continue to feed our bodies foods that do not possess any use for our bodies other than quick sugars and sustenance, and turn away foods that offer a melange of vitamins, minerals, our livers will not be able to keep up with toxic burden and our health will decline.

Improve Your Liver Function With Diet | Annex Naturopathic Clinic | Toronto Naturopathic Doctor

Along with a healthy, vegetable-rich diet, here are 6 ways to make sure you liver is functioning at its best.

  1. Lemon water

    It enhances liver enzyme function, encourages bile production, and is a good source of the antioxidant, vitamin C. Antioxidants protect oxidative damage of the liver by the very toxins the liver is required to process.

  2. B vitamins

    They serve as cofactors for enzymatic/metabolic processes in the liver, allowing the liver to function optimally. Food high in B vitamins include whole grains, legumes and of course veggies.

  3. Dark Leafy Greens

    Kale, dandelion greens, rapini, collard greens, swisschard, broccoli, are the superfoods for the liver. These vegetables exhibit a number properties that make them essential for optimal liver function.

    They tend to be bitter, a taste that stimulates the secretion of gastric/digestive juices. The general rule of thumb is the more BITTER the veggie is, the BETTER for your liver.

    They are rich in folate, vitamin C, vitamin K, magnesium, calcium and potassium, micronutrients important for liver function.  Lastly, leafy greens contain a rich amount of fibre, which takes some of the toxic burden off the liver’s back.

  4. Castor oil packs

    Applying castor oil over the liver with heat (instructions here) allows the oil to be absorbed through skin, and positively stimulates the liver function.

    It also enhances immune function, and promotes lymphatic drainage, both important in detoxification.

  5. Herbal medicine

    Sometimes, the toxic burden on the liver may be larger than what you can handle from just a healthy diet.  That’s when herbs come in to play.

    Hepatic herbs such as Milk Thistle, Dandelion root, Artichoke, Schisandra, Chelidonium, and Goldenseal, all have properties to protect the liver from environmental damage, repair damaged liver cells, as well as optimize liver function by directly enhancing metabolic processes of Phase I and II detoxification.

    It is important to consult with your healthcare practitioner before using these herbs.

  6. Eat and Be Clean

    At the very least, makes sure to check out the Dirty Dozen, a list of vegetables and fruits recommended to be consumed organic due to the heavy pesticide use in their non-organic farming practices.

    Also, make an attempt to eat hormone and antibiotic-free meats, and reduce your saturated and trans-fat intake by cutting out deep fried and processed foods.

    Try to avoid plastic use, heavy-chemical household cleaners and body products - there are a number of natural, organic and plant-based cleansers on the market these days that a fantastic job.

    This will reduced the daily toxic burdens on your liver, reserving it’s energy for chemical compounds you can’t avoid.

You can encourage optimal liver function by adding these few things in to your daily life.

It’s most important that we consume clean, low-processed, fresh, vegetable-rich diets in order to keep our health in this increasingly toxic world.

The key to health is maintaining optimal liver function as liver function affects every other organ in the body.

If you want to know more about how to clean up your daily lifestyle, and to optimize your liver function, book an appointment with one of our naturopaths and we can guide your way to a longer, healthier and energetic life.

Yours in Health,

Dr. Tanya Lee, N.D
Annex Naturopathic Clinic
572 Bloor St W #201, Toronto, ON M6G 1K1
-https://goo.gl/maps/uVRBvcyoUa62


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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Get your Vitamin D this Summer to Keep Colds and Flus Away in the Fall and Winter

Get Your Vitamin D | Annex-Naturopathic-Clinic-Toronto-Naturopathic-Doctor-in-the-Annex-June03-01

With summer finally here, you have the next 3 months to stock up on the important essential Sunshine vitamin, otherwise known as Vitamin D.

What Is Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is actually not a vitamin but is a hormone with beneficial effects on the immune system. It is widely known that we are able to synthesize Vitamin D on our own with the help of the wonderful summer sun, but in the dreary fall and winter months, achieving optimal levels of this “miracle” vitamin is difficult for us living in the Northern Hemisphere.

Vitamin D is commonly known to aid in the absorption of calcium, which leads to optimal bone health and function, but new research demonstrates that this hormone does much more.

Along with calcium regulation, Vitamin D is also a powerful immune and hormone modulator, which makes it useful in treating conditions such as hypertension, cancer, depression (especially seasonal), and prevention of the common cold and flu.

It has been demonstrated that those with low vitamin D levels have a greater risk of catching cold and flu bugs, and with limited amounts of sun exposure during the dark winter months, your levels of D will significantly drop.

Vitamin D helps your body fight off these infections by reinforcing the protective surface barriers of the skin, lungs, and the gastrointestinal tract, preventing unwanted microbes from entering the body through these routes.

This is especially important in those who are most susceptible to infection, such as people with weak lungs, (asthmatics, smokers, etc..) and those with general immune dysfunction, usually stemming from poor diet and lifestyle habits.

Vitamin D also modulates the immune system by activating T-cells, cells which help recognize and promote the destruction of microbes, while decreasing inflammation caused by an over-active immune system.

How Much Vitamin D Should You Take?

So what are adequate amounts of Vitamin D? According to Health Canada, recommended adequate intakes of Vitamin D is set at 200 IU daily (400 – 600 IU for those >50 years of age).

However, recent research has found that 200 IU/day (even up to 800 IU) is ineffective in achieving adequate levels of vitamin D in the bloodstream. Therefore higher dosages of vitamin D (at least 1000 IU) should be recommended by health care professionals to obtain adequate levels in the blood stream.

While sunlight is one of the best ways of achieving optimal vitamin D levels so stock up this summer as optimal levels are difficult to achieve in the winter months, or if you’re stuck in the office all day.

All you need is 10 minutes in the mid-day sun in shorts in a T-shirt (without sunscreen) to get a mighty dose of vitamin D (10 000IU), but make sure to limit your time in the sun without sunblock to prevent skin damage.

For darker skinned individuals, it’s more difficult to produce vitamin D through sun exposure alone, therefore vitamin D should be obtained through diet, longer sun exposure (but not too long to avoid skin damage, likely around 15-20 minutes maximum) and/or though supplementation.

Get Your Vitamin D | Annex-Naturopathic-Clinic-Toronto-Naturopathic-Doctor-in-the-Annex-June03-01

Other Sources Of Vitamin D

For the month with low sun exposure, there are various sources of vitamin D you can obtain through diet, such as though fish, eggs and fortified dairy and soy products.

However, it is recommended to also use high quality vitamin D supplement in conjunction with diet, as diet alone may not reach the optimal dosage and/or some of the fortified foods (dairy and soy) may not agree with your digestive system.

This summer, make sure to spend some much-needed time in the sun to optimize your vitamin D levels for the fall and winter season, when sunlight is sparse and darkness prevails.  This will keep your immune system strong and protect your body from cold and flus.

Talk to a naturopathic doctor if you’re curious about how to supplement vitamin D in the winter.  Vitamin D testing is done in October in order to see what your status is going in to the low-light seasons, and a proper dose of vitamin D supplementation can be recommended based on your serum levels to maintain what you obtained in the summer

If you’re curious to learn more about this subject or would like to consult with one of our NDs feel free to
book a visit or contact us.

Yours in Health

Dr. Tanya Lee, N.D
Annex Naturopathic Clinic
572 Bloor St W #201, Toronto, ON M6G 1K1
-https://goo.gl/maps/uVRBvcyoUa62


References:

  1. Health Canada [homepage on the Internet]: [updated 2006 June 29; cited 2010 Feb 2]. Available from: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/nutrition/vitamin/vita-d-eng.php
  2. Rucker D, Allan JA, Fick GH, Hanley DA:Vitamin D insufficiency in a population of healthy western Canadians. CMAJ. 166(12): 1517–1524, 2002
  3. Heaney RP, Davies KM, Chen TC, Holick MF, Barger-Lux MJ: Human serum 25-hydroxycholecalciferol response to extended oral dosing with cholecalciferol. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 77: 204-210, 2003
  4. Schwalfenberg GK. A review of the critical role of vitamin D in the functioning of the immune system and the clinical implications of vitamin D deficiency. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2010 Sep 7. [Epub ahead of print]
  5. Harris SS Vitamin D and African Americans.J Nutr. 2006 Apr;136(4):1126-9.

 

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Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The Negative Effects of High Cortisol Levels

Annex-Naturopathic-Clinic-Toronto-Naturopathic-Doctor-in-the-Annex-June01-01

Cortisol is a commonly known hormone produced in the adrenal gland that sits on top of the kidney. Cortisol follows a daily pattern in which it rises rather rapidly in the first 10-30 minute after waking, increasing energy, then gradually decreases throughout the day so that it is low at night for sleep.

The cycle restarts the following morning.

In addition to being a factor in establishing diurnal rhythm, the production of cortisol is increased when the “fight or flight” response is triggered. This response is triggered in stressful situations.

What does cortisol do?

Cortisol effects metabolism by increasing blood sugar from the body’s stores. It also influences the immune system by preventing the release of substances in the body that cause inflammation.

When individuals are under chronic stress, cortisol can become persistently elevated and lead to symptoms including:

Anxiety, depression, irritability.

  • Elevated cortisol influences enzymes and receptors for neurotransmitters which have effects on mood and emotion.

Carbohydrate, fat and/or salt cravings.

  • Cortisol is one of the hormones that raises blood pressure, it modulates brain regions that stimulate hunger for sodium and energy rich food. High sugar and high fat foods quiet the stress response because they trigger a dopamine release as a way to self-soothe by making us feel temporarily better.

High blood sugar and insulin resistance.

  • Cortisol raises blood sugar by signalling the production of blood sugar by the liver while at the same time opposing the action of insulin. This means that although there is high blood sugar, the body isn’t able to use it.

Weight gain, especially in the abdominal region.

  • Cortisol opposes the actions of leptin, the hormone that tells us we are full after eating. At the same time, excess in blood sugaris converted to fat.

High blood pressure.

  • Cortisol triggers increased ingestion and retention of salt.

Annex-Naturopathic-Clinic-Toronto-Naturopathic-Doctor-in-the-Annex-June01-02

Insomnia and sleep disturbances

  • Cortisol can become dysregulated, rising in the evening (“10pm second wind” and difficulty falling asleep) and failing to spike in the morning (struggle getting up in the morning).

Hormonal imbalances and infertility.

  • Cortisol can inhibit the production of ovarian estrogen and progesterone. It can also decrease the frequency of ovulation.

Irritable bowel syndrome

  • Cortisol can cause decreased intestinal blood flow and altered movement of the gastrointestinal tract which leads to changes in the gut microflora.

If you suffer from any of the above symptoms and have a moderate degree of stress in your life- your cortisol levels may be a contributing factor.

Along with thorough intake, the naturopathic doctors at Annex Naturopathic Clinic use a specialized diagnostic test called an adrenal hormone profile to objectively assess cortisol production and metabolism.

Furthermore, NDs can help restore balance through lifestyle recommendations, herbal medicine and targeted nutritional supplementation.

Related Articles:

 

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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Understanding Your Body’s Stress Response System

Annex-Naturopathic-Clinic-Toronto-Naturopathic-Doctor-in-the-Annex-May05-01.jpg

Chronic stress is detrimental to health. Our modern lifestyle is fast paced and dynamic. It can be hard for our bodies to keep up.

Stress is one of the root causes of many health concerns. The naturopathic doctors at Annex Naturopathic Clinic assess their patient’s stress and make connections to how it may be affecting other areas of their health.

Stress Response - Stage 1

Let’s begin by understanding the stress response.

First we must acknowledge that the human body and its physiology has not changed significantly from that of our ancestors 50 000 years ago. However, the environment that humans live today is drastically different from hunter-gatherers.

To ensure the survival of our species, upon encountering a threat- let’s say a bear- our “fight or flight” response creates a hormone cascade- including adrenaline- that would enable out body to fight the bear or run away as quickly as possible.

This initial response is called the “alarm” stage.

Stress-Response-Stage1-Annex-Naturopathic-Clinic-Toronto-Naturopathic-Doctor-in-the-Annex.jpg

Stress Response - Stage 2

The second stage of the stress response is the “resistance” phase.

The body responds to the inflammatory environment created by the “alarm” stage . At this point, the brain signals to the adrenal glands to increase the production and release of cortisol. Cortisol, a hormone with anti-inflammatory properties (amongst many other actions), acts to quiet the immune response.

Once a certain amount of cortisol is reached in the blood stream, the brain stops singling the adrenal glands to respond, and cortisol production is normalized.

Stress-Respone-Stage2-Annex-Naturopathic-Clinic-Toronto-Naturopathic-Doctor-in-the-Annex.jpg

Stress Response - The Problem

The stress response outlined above is protective and beneficial if activated sporadically.

The problem that we encounter is modern society is that our stress response doesn’t know the difference between encountering a bear and being in a high stress work environment.

Deadlines at work, traffic, finances, relationships, overextending ourselves socially,  and information overload via technology are repeated and chronic stressors that leave the stress hormone cascades turned on and levels of cortisol and adrenaline higher than appropriate.

Stress-Response-Annex-Naturopathic-Clinic-Toronto-Naturopathic-Doctor-in-the-Annex.jpg

Our bodies are only meant to see surges in these hormones in fleeting glances.

When we are exposed to repeated stressors, too close together our hormones become out of balance (notably, chronically elevated cortisol) and negative health outcomes ensue including altered circadian rhythm, elevated blood sugar, gastrointestinal concerns and altered immune response.

Naturopathic doctors are able assess stress and its effects through specialized testing and comprehensive intake and offer solutions that can make the body more resilient in the face of modern living.

If you’re curious to learn more about this subject or would like to consult with one of our NDs feel free to book a visit or contact us.

Yours in Health

Dr. Marnie Luck, N.D 
Annex Naturopathic Clinic 
572 Bloor St W #201, Toronto, ON M6G 1K1 
-https://goo.gl/maps/uVRBvcyoUa62


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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Health Benefits of Collagen and how to Incorporate this in to your Daily Diet

health benefits of collagen jello | Annex Naturopathic Clinic Toronto Naturopathic Doctor in the Annex

There is so much talk these days about supplements like; vitamins, minerals, protein powders, etc., that you're supposed to consume if you want to be considered healthy. But you hear very little about the health benefits of collagen and it's role in proper health. As a naturopathic doctor, I feel that there isn't enough being taught about this important nutrient's role in our health and well-being. So...

What Is Collagen?

Collagen is a naturally occurring protein in our body and is the most abundant protein of connective tissue.  Collagen is in our skin, bones and teeth, eyes (corneas) joint tissues (such as cartilage, spinal discs and ligaments), blood vessels and organ tissues.

Collagen can be supplemented through our diet; however, typical western meat-eater diets usually don’t contain these parts of an animal, so our dietary sources can actually be quite limited.  Dietary collagen intake has been shown to have a number of health benefits.

Collagen is a rich source of the amino acids, mainly:

Non-essential amino acids

  • Glycine - most abundant
  • Proline
  • Alanine
  • Hydroxyproline
  • Glutamic acid
  • Arginine
  • Aspartic acid
  • Serine

Essential amino acids:

  • Lysine
  • Valine
  • Threonine

Healthy intake of these amino acids provide strength to our connective tissue and aid in tissue repair. As you can see, most of the amino acids that make up collagen are non-essential (meaning our bodies can make our own), so why is it important to have a dietary source?  As our bodies age and wear down, the need for these amino acids can become greater than our bodies can produce.

There are a number of health benefits to supplementing collagen.  Dietary collagen is absorbed by our digestive tract (small intestine), in to the bloodstream, and accumulated in to the skin for up to 96 hours.1  Collagen supplementation improves your body’s own production of collagen through stimulating the cells that make collagen (fibroblasts)1,2

  • Skin hydration and elasticity: Collagen is a natural protein that is responsible for providing elasticity to our skin.  Healthy collagen production will improve elasticity, flexibility, and firmness of the skin.  Studies have found that supplementing with oral hydrolyzed collagen powder can improve skin elasticity within 8 weeks1 reduce the formation of fine lines and wrinkles after 8 weeks,2 and can reduce cellulite after 6 months use.3  Collagen supplementation has also been found to accelerate wound healing.4
  • Joint strength and pain relief: The effect of collagen has been detailed by one significant study. The results of this study found that collagen supplementation in young active individual significantly improved joint pain at rest, walking, standing, running in a straight line and making quick directional changes while running, compared to those receiving placebo.

    This study also explains that collagen supplementation may help reduce joint deterioration in those who are at high risk.5  Collagen absorbed through the digestive tract accumulates in the cartilage and stimulate the production of type II collagen, the main protein of joint cartilage.  Other studies have found dietary cartilage supplementation improves pain in those suffering from osteoarthritis6

  • Other tissues: Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body.  Although there hasn’t been extensive research on collagen in other parts of the body, the positive effect it has on the skin and cartilage may also translate in to other connective tissues.  Areas where collagen can play a positive role
    • Building strength and durability in the hair and nails
    • Improving the elasticity and repairing damage to our blood vessels - so helping those with cardiovascular disease
    • Improving digestion by restoring the epithelial lining of our intestines (repairing inflammation and leaky gut!)

Also by having a good source of these amino acids, the liver can function more efficiently as the rich level of glycine of collagen provides support to phase 2 detoxification!

health benefits of collagen chicken soup | Annex Naturopathic Clinic Toronto Naturopathic Doctor in the Annex

Collagen sources

I have historically recommended that my patient get collagen naturally by making your own bone broth.  Boiling the bones of organic chicken, beef or turkey bones to extract collagen after you’ve consumed the meat is an excellent way to use the whole animals for all the nutrients they have to offer.  Also not only do you get collagen this way, you also extract many vitamins and minerals!  However it isn’t always the most convenient way to get a daily dose of collagen, which is when supplementation is useful.

Hydrolyzed collagen peptides has been the form of choice by most research studies.  This form is almost tasteless, can dissolve in any type of liquid (hot and cold), or snuck in to recipes to up protein content without anyone being the wiser.  Make sure you get a form from a reputable company that practice ethical farming produces (such as grass-fed cows) to avoid any negative influences that can make the collagen sub par.

Gelatin is also a form of dietary collagen - this is best used when you want to make something “jelly-like” such as making jello, or marshmallows, because it gels up when added to liquid.  This form has been touted the best for digestive problems as it has the ability to coat the digestive tract.

None of the studies cited reported any adverse or negative effects of collagen supplementation.

Also, collagen production by our bodies REQUIRES vitamin C so ensuring that your diet is also rich in this vitamin is very important to note when supplementing with collagen.

Though studies are limited, the pool of research out there has nothing but positive things to say about this dietary supplement.  Considering the impact and abundance of collagen in our bodies, this is a great protein addition to our diet, and can help improve the quality, strength and health of our connective tissues.

If you’re curious to learn more about this subject or would like to consult with one of our NDs feel free to book a visit or contact us.

Yours in Health

Dr. Tanya Lee, N.D
Annex Naturopathic Clinic
572 Bloor St W #201, Toronto, ON M6G 1K1
-https://goo.gl/maps/uVRBvcyoUa62

  1. Proksch E et. al. Oral supplementation of specific collagen peptides has beneficial effects on human skin physiology: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study.
  2. Proksch E et. al. Oral intake of specific bioactive collagen peptides reduces skin wrinkles and increases dermal matrix synthesis.Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 2014;27(3):113-9
  3. Schunck M. et. al., Dietary Supplementation with Specific Collagen Peptides Has a Body Mass Index-Dependent Beneficial Effect on Cellulite Morphology.J Med Food. 2015 Dec;18(12):1340-8
  4. Lee SK et. al. Pressure ulcer healing with a concentrated, fortified, collagen protein hydrolysate supplement: a randomized controlled trial.Adv Skin Wound Care. 2006 Mar;19(2):92-6.
  5. Clark KL. et. al. 24-Week study on the use of collagen hydrolysate as a dietary supplement in athletes with activity-related joint pain.Curr Med Res Opin. 2008 May;24(5):1485-96.
  6. Zuckley L. et al. Collagen hydrolysate improves joint function in adults with mild symptoms of osteoarthritis of the knee. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2004;36(Suppl):S153-S4

 

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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Digestive Problems Got you Down? You May have SIBO and therefore a Solution

Annex Naturopathic Clinic Toronto Naturopathic Doctor in the Annex
Have you been diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome?  Have your digestive concerns been worked up though ultrasounds, endoscopies and colonoscopies, only to come back completely normal?  Have you been told that your digestive problems are “just are what they are” and are left to just fend for yourself, avoid all the food, and live your life always worrying about how your stomach will react?
There might be an actual name for your nameless digestive problems, and it might just be called Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO).  At the Annex Naturopathic Clinic in Toronto, we can help you identify the source of your digestive problems and discover if you actually have SIBO or not.

What is SIBO?

In a healthy intestine the majority of bacteria resides in the large intestine, with minimal amounts present in the small.   SIBO occurs when an abnormal amount of bacteria colonize and grow in the small intestine, creating digestive problems that can affect the entire digestive tract including the intestines (small and large) stomach, liver, gallbladder and pancreas.
SIBO has well-documented in medical literature for a number of years, but it’s not until now that it’s becoming a well-accepted CAUSE of irritable bowel syndrome and chronic digestive concerns.  Studies have found that up to 85% of those diagnosed with IBS have test positive for SIBO  - this is a significant number that shouldn’t be ignored.

How does one develop SIBO?

Past gastrointestinal infections

Many cases can start with a simple stomach infection - this could have been on a trip to an all-inclusive resort, drinking pond water, or eating dirt as a child, and/or eating an undercooked burger.  A self-limiting, seamlessly harmless infection can disturb the normal intestinal flora, affecting and “reprogamming” the nervous system of the digestive tract, subtly causing dysregulation that can eventually becoming clinically significant as the years roll by.

Poor eating habits

Another reason why someone may be susceptible to developing SIBO is eating too frequently.  The contractions of the small and large intestines to move food forward are tightly timed to when you last ate.  It actually takes up to 2-3 hours for food to be pushed in to the large intestine from the small, and eating before this can actually halt this process.  This habit can eventually confuse the normal digestive program, and can eventually lead to improper signals and contractions in the intestines which can push bacteria around, flushing it in to the small intestine.
SIBO Digestive Problems | Annex Naturopathic Clinic Toronto Naturopathic Doctor in the Annex

How to detect SIBO

SIBO is diagnosed through a simple breath test.  We offer this test at our office and many other functional medicine practitioners do as well.  Symptoms are major clues as to whether we determine if testing for SIBO would be appropriate for your case.  These include:
  • Long-standing Diarrhea and/or Constipation
  • Heartburn
  • Pain or discomfort after eating
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Excessive gas and belching
  • History of appendicitis
Existing digestive conditions that can also contribute to the development of SIBO
  • Chronic pancreatitis
  • Iron deficiency
  • Pancreatic enzyme deficiency
  • Celiac disease
  • Crohn’s disease, Ulcerative colitis
It’s important to treat SIBO as there are a number of conditions that can arise from untreated SIBO, such as
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency
  • Magnesium deficiency
  • Acne and Rosacea
  • Leaky gut syndrome and food sensitivities
  • Chronic pancreatitis
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Appendicitis

What do we do about it?

Treatment is based on wiping out the overgrowth using natural (but strong) herbal antimicrobials, as well as supporting the body’s natural detoxification centers (such as the liver).  We then botanicals, nutrients and dietary approaches to tone and strengthen the muscles and the nervous system of the digestive system, to create a system that is healthy, efficient and properly colonized by beneficial bacteria.

How long before I feel better?

SIBO Treatments if done properly, give people relief within TWO WEEKS and full treatment of SIBO typically lasts for 4-6 weeks in total (this can vary case by case).  If implemented properly, treatments are simple and straight forward.
If you’re curious to learn more about this subject or would like to consult with one of our NDs feel free to book a visit or contact us.
Yours in Health
Dr. Marnie Luck, N.D
Annex Naturopathic Clinic
572 Bloor St W #201, Toronto, ON M6G 1K1https://goo.gl/maps/uVRBvcyoUa62



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Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Why Working With a Naturopathic Doctor can Benefit your Health

naturopathic doctor can benefit your health | Annex Naturopathic Clinic Toronto Naturopathic Doctor in the Annex
In the spirit of Naturopathic Medicine Week, we wanted to write an article that lets you know why a naturopathic doctor is a great addition to your healthcare team.

The body has an amazing ability to adapt to its surroundings - this is why we are able to fight off viruses, regulate to changing weather and deal daily stressors.

The problem is that when our bodies are forced to adapt to chronic unhealthy situations, these adaptations can result in unfavourable systemic changes that lead to chronic disease.  Disease doesn't "just happen"- if you have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism in June, it doesn't mean that the disease started in June.

The body’s ability to adapt allows us to function in disease-promoting environments  for months to years - we often don’t know this is happening until symptoms become too unbearable to cope with in our daily lives.

Multiple factors that lead to chronic disease include poor dietary choices, chronic stress, lack of proper sleep and exercise (to name a few).

During this transition, we actually have many symptoms that warns us something is off, many of which we think are “normal” symptoms - feeling unhealthy or unwell, even if mild, is not normal if it becomes a consistent feeling.  Symptoms are the body's way to alert us that there may be something about our health that requires tuning and treatment.

If these signals are ignored then disease will continue to flourish.  Many of these symptoms are non-specific, such as:
  • chronic headaches
  • low energy, low concentration, low moods
  • sleep problems
  • weight gain
  • gas/bloating
  • trouble with bowel movements
  • severe PMS
  • joint pain
  • weak immune system
If you have any of the symptoms, it’s time to see a professional that can help you manage these symptoms and prevent chronic disease. As a society, our ability and awareness to detect if our body is out of balance has been greatly lost, and we are led to believe that these symptoms are "fixed" by popping a pill that makes symptom go away.

Annex Naturopathic Clinic Toronto Naturopathic Doctor in the Annex

Benefits of Seeing a Naturopathic Doctor

Seeing a naturopathic doctor can benefit anyone who is determined to take control of their health, whether you suffer from chronic illness (disease state), or if you feel slight imbalances in your health (imbalanced state).

Naturopathic doctors have a reputation of being the "last resort" to many people - usually after failed attempts with conventional treatment, and realizing the impact nutrition and lifestyle can have on health, many people seek out our care without realizing that they could have been doing this from the start!

Our treatments compliment what you are doing with your family physician and specialist, so you don’t have to choose one system over the other.

The primary goal of naturopathic treatments is to awaken and encourage the body's natural and innate system of healing by treating the ROOT CAUSE of the complaints.Naturopathic medicine works BEST when we are treating the "imbalanced" state - the further in to the "disease state" you are, the longer it may take to see results.

The length of time it takes to see good results using naturopathic treatments depends on 1) the severity of disease 2) the compliance of the patient.

So no matter if you have mild digestive issues or have been diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis, naturopathic medicine as well with your determination and commitment can drastically improve your health!

If you’re curious to learn more about this subject or would like to consult with one of our NDs feel free to book a visit or contact us.

Yours in Health
Dr. Tanya Lee, N.D.
Annex Naturopathic Clinic
572 Bloor St W #201, 
Toronto, ON M6G 1K1
https://goo.gl/maps/uVRBvcyoUa62



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