How Do You Know Your Body is Out Of Balance?

Are you feeling burnt out and overwhelmed? You’re not alone. Let’s face it: We’re all busy, dealing with endless to-do lists and struggling to balance it all. The result is often a day-to-day life that feels too hectic. We feel pulled away from the things that matter – and we may have even forgotten what those things are. 

Many people find their way to my practice at a time in their lives where they feel compelled to take charge of their wellbeing before it gets out of control. Perhaps they’re experiencing health problems that they just can’t shake, or they are ready to take their health to the next level because they know their health is their best asset. By seeking the kind of holistic help a Naturopathic Doctor can provide they’re claiming ownership of their current and future health. 

A Fork In The Road

The inescapable truth is that good health is vital to living a rich and meaningful life. Fortunately our bodies let us know when we’re standing at a health crossroads by giving us warning signs in the form of unpleasant symptoms. However, many of us don’t listen to those signs, leading our health down a slippery slope.

Here’s a key fact: Illness doesn’t develop overnight. It often begins when we’re out of balance and burnt out. We need to pay attention to the warning signs before they escalate into something worse.

Five Signs That Your Body Is Out Of Balance:

1. You Feel Incredibly Stressed

We all feel stressed from time to time. And some stress is necessary to motivate us to get things done. However, chronic stress can lead to many health issues, including muscle pain, cardiovascular and digestive issues, hormonal imbalance, depression and anxiety, and weakened immunity.

From an evolutionary perspective, the “fight or flight” response produced by stress hormones (including cortisol and adrenaline) makes sense. By putting your body into overdrive, those hormones could help you if you were under attack by a predator. However, in today’s world, stress tends to be chronic and relentless. As a result, your hormone levels can be way out of balance. 

2. You are Irritable and Experiencing Mood Swings

Are you ready to fly off the handle at any moment? Do things that used to make you laugh now irritate you? You could have an imbalance of the hormones that affect your mood, such as serotonin. Changes in estrogen levels that are common in perimenopause and thyroid imbalances can also lead to irritability.

3. You are Experiencing Sleep Disturbances and Difficulty Falling Asleep

Sleep problems can become a vicious cycle: We need sleep to refresh our minds and restore balance, but when our bodies are out of balance, it can be difficult to sleep well. If you toss and turn for hours, or wake up in the night with racing thoughts, it may be time to listen to your body and start practicing better sleep hygiene.

4. Your Body is Changing (Rapid Weight Gain, Debilitating Fatigue, Skin Problems, etc.) and you Can’t Figure Out Why

Many patients experience mysterious symptoms that can’t be explained by conventional medicine. Weight gain is a common example. If you find you’ve gained weight without any change to your lifestyle, your body might be telling you it’s out of balance. Similarly, unexplained fatigue or sudden acne (long past the teen years) are symptoms you shouldn’t ignore.  

5. You Rely on External Substances to “Manage” Life

If you feel like you can’t make it through the day without your morning coffee, midmorning macchiato, and afternoon pumpkin spice latte and muffin, ask yourself what purpose those magic drinks and sugar are serving. Relying on a substance, be it sugar, caffeine, or even alcohol or cigarettes is not a sustainable way of coping with life’s difficulties and the short term boost soon gives way to unbalance. It’s important to seek help to nip these habits in the bud.

Does anything on that list sound familiar? You’re not alone! Feeling overwhelmed is often the result of our natural instinct to try to please everyone. The good news is that there’s a better way. 

Recovering From Overwhelm: How To Bring Your Health Back Into Balance

How can you start the process of restoring balance? It’s simpler than you might think and NOW is the time to set yourself up for success in 2023! 

Step One. Reprioritize What’s Really Important. 

What matters most to you? Chances are it’s not the laundry, or your next meeting, your emails or buying a nicer couch, or many of the things that take up space on your to-do list. Ultimately, for most of us, the important things are more intangible: our health, relationships, and family. And in order to prioritize those things, we need to put self-care at the top of the list. Simply put, we can’t devote energy to the really important things if we’re not looking after ourselves. 

Interestingly, many people find that when they adjust their priorities, the other things cease to feel like such a struggle. It may seem like a bit of a paradox, but when we look after ourselves, everything else falls into place. 

If you want to reconnect with your priorities and figure out what really matters, mindful meditation can help. You can also try journaling – writing down your thoughts can be a great way to sort them out. In fact, writing down your emotions can be the outlet you need to ease the harmful physical effects of stress – and remember to take time for gratitude daily.

Step 2: Recognize Where you Need Help and Ask For It.

This step can be hard for many people. After all, as adults, we’re supposed to be self-sufficient and find all the answers on Google, right? However, consider this: Many successful people have help. Athletes have health and fitness coaches; musicians have teachers; many business owners have mentors. And they often credit their success to that support and guidance. 

The real strength is in identifying areas of your life that feel out of control, and admitting that you could do better with a helping hand. 

A good first step is to book a thorough review of your health and wellness status with your Naturopathic Doctor. I’m here to help you better understand where these feelings of overwhelm and bothersome symptoms are coming from, and give you the tools you need to find balance again. Functional testing is available to remove the guesswork and identify any possible underlying physical issues, such as hormonal imbalances. This holistic approach allows us to support you with an effective plan of action for your health and wellbeing that’s tailored specifically to you.

If you are ready to dive deeper into your health and rebalance your life…

Book your appointment today to get started! New patients can book a FREE Meet & Greet with me HERE and existing patients can book a consultation with me HERE.

References

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120402162546.htm

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/raising-happiness/201609/9-ways-ease-overwhelm

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3341916/

Chronic Stress Can Affect Your Immunity

If you’re like most people, the holiday season can bring on a lot of stress with joy and cheer. When we are stressed, our immunity becomes weaker. Just when we all need a strong immune system to spend time with loved ones safely, chronic stress has the potential to weaken our defenses. 

How Stress Affects The Immune System

Why does stress weaken immunity? The process makes perfect sense if you think of how we lived for most of human history. 

Not too long ago, if we perceived a threat, such as a predatory animal in the wild, we had to respond – and quickly! In that sense, our body is primed to protect us.

Fight Or Flight

Let’s take a look at the “flight or fight” response and how stress changes us on a physiological level. 

  • Blood pressure goes up.
  • Heart rate goes up.
  • Serotonin levels drop, because you need to stay awake.
  • Insulin sensitivity is impaired.
  • Digestion slows down to preserve energy.
  • Cholesterol goes up.
  • The body pumps stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol into your bloodstream. 

All of these changes are designed to make sure that you have enough energy in the right places – ie the arms and legs – to respond to stress appropriately – ie fight or run. 

Resource Hoarding

That’s because your body wants to put all of its resources into dealing with the immediate threat. This response is actually very helpful – if you need to escape a predator. However, in today’s world, stress is typically more chronic and, let’s face it, unrelenting. 

And that’s where the problems start. 

Adaptive Physiology

Our body’s ability to respond to stress is called “adaptive physiology.” To understand this, it might help to think of your nervous system as actually two systems: 

  • Your sympathetic nervous system powers the Fight or Flight response that you need in the face of danger.
  • Your parasympathetic nervous system is behind the “Relax and Recharge”, aka “Rest and Digest” response you need in between periods of stress. Without this response, your body’s systems would stay in overdrive.

Essentially, the way in which these two systems work together is not unlike the brakes and gas pedals in your car. One speeds you up, and the other slows you down. 

Ideally, your body adapts depending on the situation. The Relax and Recharge period is essential to restoring balance in mind and body.

Putting The Breaks On Stress

Right now, many of us feel like the “gas” is always on, which is a perfectly understandable response when faced with a global crisis. 

However, that kind of constant stress can lead to a long list of health problems if the sympathetic nervous system never turns off. 

What happens to a car if you only touch the gas and never use the brakes? There’s a high likelihood of a crash.

Don’t Crash Your Immune System

Not surprisingly, your immune system suffers when you’re heading for a crash. All the things that happen during your flight or fight response can lower your immunity. And that’s exactly what you don’t want to happen right now.

6 Ways To Switch Your Body To A Parasympathetic State

So, what can you do? Isn’t stress inevitable at this moment in history? A good starting point is thinking of the two states of your immune system and doing what you can to reach a state of rest and restoration.

  1. Look at your mindset. 

How you perceive a stressful situation will affect your body’s response to it. Perhaps you’re feeling over-extended at work and home or that your social calendar is too full. That’s stressful. However, consider the opportunities you have in daily life to be kind to others in your path. That simple mental shift can help your nervous system remain in a restorative mode. 

Don’t forget: You always have the opportunity to change your attitude. 

  1. Seek connection. 

In times of stress, you should be close to people who restore your sense of wellbeing. It’s important to feel connected and accepted, because a feeling of connection can boost your immunity.  

  1. Honor your body’s natural rhythms. 

Many people are having trouble sleeping right now with extra “to-do lists” on their minds. However, it’s more important than ever to try to get between seven and eight hours a night. Even if your normal routine is disrupted, try to stick to a regular sleep schedule. That means going to bed at the same time every night (yes, even on weekends). As well, don’t dismiss the restorative powers of a good nap. 

  1. Don’t overcommit. 

We’re all under a lot of pressure right now. Take a close look at your commitments and think of how you can eliminate any unnecessary stress. Remember that the goal is to rest your nervous system. 

What makes you feel refreshed and restored? Those are the activities to focus on.

  1. Eat to optimize your immune system. 

Many studies backup the importance of essential nutrients in protecting your immunity. The ideal diet and supplements for you will depend on your unique health profile, but important nutrients include selenium, zinc, and vitamins A, C, and D. In addition, don’t overlook the importance of maintaining a balance of “good bacteria” in your gut. More and more research points to the connection between a healthy gut and a healthy immune system. 

In fact, up to 80 percent of your immune cells are found in your gut. The interaction between your gut microbiota and your immune system helps protect you against foreign pathogens.

  1. Move your body. 

Exercise can help your body’s nervous system maintain equilibrium. It can slow down the release of stress hormones and increase the number of disease-fighting white blood cells. As well, movement helps to regulate the communication between your brain and your body. 

However, it’s important to move in a safe way – any irregularities in your body’s alignment can affect this process. Focus on doing something you love and making exercise a part of your daily routine. Consistency is the key! If you’re not sure exactly how to work out with gym closures, check out the multitude of workouts you can find online. 

Prioritize Self-Care

Even in stressful times, it’s possible to optimize your immune system. Focus on your body’s need to restore and repair itself and prioritize your self-care. Taking steps towards staying healthy can help you gain a sense of control in an uncertain world. And that will ultimately strengthen your response to stress. 

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, please reach out. We can work together to create a plan that fits your unique needs!

Book your appointment today to get started! New patients can book a FREE Meet & Greet with me HERE and existing patients can book a consultation with me HERE.

Resources

https://www.karger.com/Article/Abstract/107673

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2869337/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3150158/

https://neurohacker.com/how-the-gut-microbiota-influences-our-immune-system

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2095254618301005

Cocoa Matcha Energy Bites

At the start of 2022 I was in a food rut- I was bored with my food and unenthused for many reasons. Our eating habits changed in 2020 because of shortages, lack of time and not being able to rely on restaurants as much and then moving in 2021 put a wrench in things – I focused on making meals quick and easy (and healthy, of course) and didn’t focus on variety, especially as I was getting accustomed to CA and the grocery stores here. 

So, in January this year I decided to spice things up a bit. I came up with my own list of “22 New Foods for 2022”. Now, they weren’t all new foods to me, but they were foods I didn’t eat often anymore or foods that I wanted to revisit other ways to prepare them. One of my 22 foods was MATCHA and sure, I could have had a matcha latte each morning but I decided to try matcha in foods for a different experience. 

Why matcha? 

  • High in EGCG, a compound that aids your liver in balancing estrogen levels
  • EGCG may be why green tea consumption may prevent breast cancer
  • The caffeine is balance by a relaxing amino acid called l-theanine
  • Anti-oxidants

Cocoa Matcha Energy Bites

½ cup soft dates, if your are too dry you can soak them in water for an hour before using

½ cup almonds

¼ cup cocoa powder

1 T match powder

1 T almond milk

Pinch of sea salt

1 T sesame seeds and a pinch of match powder in a separate bowl

In a food processor, combine the dates and almonds. Scrape down the sides of the processor.

Then add the cocoa powder, matcha, almond milk and sea salt. Process again to make a dough, add more almond milk if needed.

Roll the dough into tablespoon-sized balls and then roll the balls in the sesame seed mixture.

Refrigerate for one hour and then enjoy!

Energy bites will keep in the refrigerator for 2 weeks.

Breast Implant Illness: What You Should Know

The choice to get breast implants is highly personal, and most women don’t make the decision lightly. Whether it’s cosmetic or reconstructive, implant surgery is a major procedure, with important health implications. Women who have implants, and women considering the surgery, should be aware of the possible side effects and arm themselves with science-backed information.

Researchers and practitioners are signaling a rise in what is now being referred to as Breast Implant Illness (BII) – a potential complication of silicone breast implants. Unfortunately, the symptoms are quite diverse, and most medical practitioners don’t always connect the dots to breast implants as a possible cause. 

Signs and Symptoms of BII

The medical community does not yet fully understand BII, and it can be difficult to diagnose in traditional medical practices.

The hallmark signs include a cluster of symptoms such as joint pain, unexplained fatigue, and memory loss. These symptoms are similar to many autoimmune disorders, but not all women who show signs of BII are diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder. That’s one factor that makes BII difficult to confirm. Many autoimmune disorders are difficult enough to diagnose on their own, and BII symptoms don’t follow clear patterns. Women can experience a mix of symptoms that could be due to disorders such as scleroderma, rheumatoid arthritis, Sjögren’s syndrome, hypothyroidism, or lupus.

More symptoms of BII can include:

  • Muscle pain
  • Headaches
  • Hair loss
  • Sleep problems
  • Vertigo
  • Dry skin
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Cognitive impairment (“fuzzy thinking”)
  • Dry eyes

These symptoms can be linked to many health problems, and even simply everyday stress. As a result, healthcare practitioners may not make the link between implants and a patient’s concerns, and instead treat each symptom separately.

What causes BII?

More research needs to be done on the link between autoimmune disorders and silicone breast implants, but current findings suggest silicone leaks from the implants to trigger an inflammatory response in the body.

Silicone implants are most likely to rupture after about six to eight years, and ruptures aren’t always noticed. Women who have previous autoimmune disorders, or a family history of them, seem to be more prone to developing BII. 

Treatments for BII

Removing silicone implants and any surrounding scar tissue results in an improvement for between 60 to 80 percent of women with BII. Women experiencing symptoms of BII could consult with their healthcare provider about alternatives, such as autologous implants (implants composed of a woman’s own bodily tissue) following a mastectomy. BII has appeared in women with saline implants, but it appears to be much less common. Also, because a saline implant “deflates” faster than a silicone one, a rupture is more noticeable and therefore more likely to be addressed right away. 

Lifestyle changes that reduce inflammation can help improve outcomes after implant removal. Reducing stress, following a natural-foods diet, and avoiding triggers like alcohol and excess sugar are all suggested following removal of the implant. 

A Link to Autoimmune Disorders

More research needs to be done with regards to the link between specific autoimmune disorders and breast implants. However, initial findings do suggest a possible link. One study found that up to 26 percent of women with implants develop an autoimmune disorder. Other women, however, experience many of the symptoms without a formal diagnosis, and researchers haven’t confirmed that the implants cause the disorders or the symptoms. Nonetheless, a woman with silicone implants is eight times more likely to be diagnosed with Sjögren syndrome and six times more likely to be diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.  

Many women have compelling reasons to have breast implant surgery, but it’s important to be armed with information on possible complications. It’s also important before you undergo any surgery to enhance your immune system for faster recovery.

Turmeric & Pumpkin Spice Granola

It’s finally pumpkin spice season! You’ll love how delicious and comforting your home smells when this granola is in the oven. Plus, the added anti-inflammatory benefits of turmeric and hormone balancing seeds are a bonus.

Granola is plant based, vegan and can be gluten free if you use gluten free oats.

Turmeric & Pumpkin Spice Granola

1 cup rolled oats (gluten free, optional)

1/2 cup buckwheat groats

1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes (or shredded)

1/3 cup raw pumpkin seeds

1 T sesame seeds

Spices: 2 tsp turmeric, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice, a pinch of salt

1/4 – 1/3 cup maple syrup (amount depends on how sweet you want it to be)

3 T coconut oil, melted

2 T tahini

1 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 275 F and line a baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper.

Combine oats, buckwheat, coconut, seeds and spices in a large bowl, mix well.

In a separate bowl, whisk together maple syrup, coconut oil, tahini and vanilla extract. Pour this mixture over the oat mixture and toss to coat everything.

Spread the mixture on the lined baking sheet and bake for 40-45 minutes, stirring every 15-20 minutes. Let cool completely before braking up clusters and storing in an airtight container.