All Posts in Category: Health Basics

Stand Up For Your Health

Modern life has been developed to put many workers into chairs.  This has led to the ever changing pursuit for the perfect ergonomic chair. If you do an internet search, you will find hundreds of chairs professing to be exactly what you need to improve “insert health condition.” Perspective is important; by reframing, you can actually correct most sitting related health condition. The human body was not made to be seated.  Instead of finding the perfect chair the answer may be found in sitting less.

This might be described as ‘paleo-working’; finding ways to return to a normal body position. Walking, standing, squatting and lying – those are the natural physiological positions for the body. Sitting in a chair does not even come into the equation.  Is sitting making a difference to our collective health?

Connections have been established between the amount of time seated and many chronic health concerns:

  • high blood pressure and heart disease
  • metabolic syndrome and diabetes
  • obesity
  • kidney disease
  • colorectal cancer
  • shortened life span

This list is pretty intangible; on a day to day basis, you don’t notice these things creeping up on you. You do notice the effects of sitting and you may not even realize it. Let me outline some notable daily health effects by way of example.  Recently, we installed an Anthrodesk convertible desk  (allows for standing or sitting) at our front desk for the clinic administrative lead to use.  This a picture of her day; she starts at 7:30 am and works until 4:00 pm, five days a week.  She is busy performing her duties which largely tie her to a computer. Although she gets away from her desk as much as possible, those opportunities amount to only a small portion of her day.

Her convertible work station has been in place for only a couple of weeks and she is so happy with the new ergonomic options it has created.  The desk gives her flexibility; she can raise or lower the desk in under a minute.  This means she can stretch while working. She is not getting up and down throughout the day as much.  She reports less back and neck pain during her work day.  The most notable comment though is an improvement in her sleep. She attributes this to decreased nighttime pain resulting in more restful nights. This also results in improved mood and energy for her.

Couple these experiential results with the above research about the long-term health effects of sitting, makes using a standing or convertible desk a justifiable (even necessary) change that you could easily implement to improve your health and happiness today and in the future. Small changes can make a big difference.


Chronic disease and sitting time in middle-aged Australian males: findings from the 45 and Up Study. George ES et. al. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2013 10:20

Too much sitting – A health hazard. Dunstan, David W. et al. Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice, 97:3 , 368 – 376

Sedentariness at Work: How Much Do We Really Sit? McCrady SK Levine JA. Obesity 2009 17, 2103–2105.

Association of Sitting Time and Physical Activity With CKD: A Cross-sectional Study in Family Practices Bharakhada, Nilesh et al. American Journal of Kidney Diseases, 2012 60:4  583 – 590.

Associations of Recreational Physical Activity and Leisure Time Spent Sitting With Colorectal Cancer Survival. Campbell PT et al. Journal of Clinical Oncology 2013 31:7, 876-885

Sitting Time and All-Cause Mortality Risk in 222 497 Australian Adults. van der Ploeg, HP et al. Arch Intern Med. 2012 172(6):494–500.

Disclosure: The convertible desk mentioned above was provided by Anthrodesk in return for a product review.  The opinions expressed and content is entirely that of the author with complete freedom to provide unbiased feedback. No financial compensation was provided.
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Probiotics: Good for More than Our Guts

Most people are aware of the digestive benefits of probiotics, but research now suggests that probiotics may also stimulate the immune system during times of stress, improve our mood, and decrease the amount of time that flu symptoms are experienced. Probiotics are live microorganisms (or ‘good bugs’) that, when administered in adequate amounts, offer health benefits to the host. More and more health care practitioners are beginning to recommend probiotics; they are often touted as a staple supplement due to their ability to balance the microbiome (the population of trillions of bacteria within our bodies).

One of the best ways to positively influence declining immune health that is due to stress is with the use of probiotics. Stress has a significant influence on the amount of ‘good bugs’ there are in our system relative to the number of ‘bad bugs’. In chronically stressed individuals, bad bacteria (like Enterobacteria and E. coli) tend to increase in number, while good bacteria like Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli decrease. Probiotics can help restore the Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli populations, thus having a positive effect on the immune cells within the gut and the immune system as a whole.

Another way probiotics positively influence our health is through their impact on our mood. There is now evidence that shows gut health to be inextricably linked to brain health. This is called the gut-brain axis and it encompasses bidirectional communication between the gut microbiome and the brain. Altered microbiota, for example, has been linked to depression, anxiety, and autism spectrum disorder. The good news is that when probiotics are introduced to the system they are able to modulate the severity of these mood disorders. Probiotics have also been shown to increase brain activity and improve mood even in healthy individuals.

Trials have also been conducted that assess the effectiveness and safety of probiotics when used to prevent and modulate acute upper respiratory tract infections. At this time, the research is very positive – the use of probiotics for respiratory infections shows beneficial results. Probiotics not only reduce the incidence of an acute infection, but also the duration and severity of an acute upper respiratory tract infection.

As more research becomes available, the consensus is that the gut microbiome appears to have an influence on nearly all systems and levels of the human body. Supplementing with probiotics is a one way to replenish, rebuild, and maintain the gut microbiota. Talk to your naturopathic physician about the specific strains and dosing that would work for your needs.


Ahanchian H, Jafari SA. Chapter 42 – Probiotics and Prebiotics for Prevention of Viral Respiratory Tract Infections. 2016.

Manuel PM, et al. Oral probiotics supplementation can stimulate the immune system in a stress process. Journal of Nutrition and Intermediary Metabolism. 8:29-40. 2017.

Quick M. Cochrane Commentary: Probiotics For Prevention of Acute Upper Respiratory Infection. EXPLORE: The Journal of Science and Healing. 11(5):418-420. 2015

Zhou L, Foster JA. Psychobiotics and the gut-brain axis: in the pursuit of happiness. Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment. 11:715-723. 2015.

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Keeping Yourself Healthy

There are many activities that people recommend. If you are healthy and you would like to stay that way there are a handful of daily activities and nutrients you can make part of your daily routine to ensure on-going high levels of well-being. Go through this list daily and you will be moving toward wellness.


Breathe fully
Breathing with the full volume of your lungs is normal, but most people in western society shallow breathe. The act of breathing deeply has a calming affect by transferring energy away from the sympathetic (fight or flight) nervous system to the parasympathetic nervous system. If you have never learned breathing techniques then you might consider finding someone to coach you through this: a qigong master, a yogi, etc.

Quality Sleep
It is not possible to heal or retain health without deep restful sleep. Sleep disruptions including noise, light, temperature, stress, alcohol, posture (inadequate mattress or pillow support), family relationships (parenting, co-sleeping, primary care giving), medications, poor air quality, pain, food reactions (heartburn, caffeine, etc), shift work, emotional turmoil, and the list goes on. Your pre-bedtime ritual can make a difference too. Looking into a screen (TV, phone, tablet or computer ) prior to turning in gives your primitive brain the idea that you are staring at the sun, and therefore, it is not time to sleep. Your body registers light even if you wear an eye mask. Your bedroom should be free of all light sources, including clocks; if you get up in the night, opt to leave the light off if possible. Just make sure the pathway to the toilet is clear before climbing into bed.

Time spent outdoors helps in several ways. The fresh air invigorates your mind and stimulates your nervous system. Exposure to summer sun promotes Vitamin D production. The bright light, especially in the morning, helps to regulate the circadian rhythm thereby improving sleep.

Promote Digestive Health
We only function well if we are absorbing our food adequately. If you are uncomfortable after eating (bloating, gas, heartburn, cramping) then you are likely not getting the most of the foods that you are eating. If you are not having a well-formed bowel movement 1-3 times daily you are not removing toxins well from your body.

Laugh and Play
These activities improve mood. A strong social network that allows you the opportunity to experience happiness drives away long-standing undesirable moods (depression, anxiety, irritability) from your life.

Sufficient Water
Water is really the elixir of life. Unlike the myth it won’t grant you eternal life, but without it you are decidedly reducing your quality of life. Water is the solvent that our bodies run on. You lose it constantly through your breath, sweat and urine production. This corner of BC has high quality tap water and you should not be afraid to drink it. In many cases, it is better than bottled water which may have extra contaminants from the plastic bottle it comes in. If you are a regular consumer of coffee and/or alcohol then you should at minimum increase your water consumption to compensate for the added requirements these habits contribute.

Regular Movement
Your body was made to move constantly. If you are like many of the worker bees in our society, you will find yourself seated for large sections of your day. Look for opportunities to add more movement. This is part of the detoxification process. It pumps the cellular waste from the extremities and prevents them from damaging your tissues. Lack of movement leads to breakdown of muscle tissue. When you lose muscle, your posture suffers and you will develop health issues as a result.

Complete Diet
A healthy diet consists primarily of whole foods (not packaged or processed). If you prepare them yourself in your home then you have the most important part of a healthy diet in order. The rest is about balance of nutrients and moderating excesses.

At the end of each day if you have taken care of these areas of your life you can expect to be moving your health in a positive direction.  These things underlie all others components of healthy living. If you feel you could use help with any or all of these items or other health challenges please arrange an appointment with me and we will work through your challenges together.


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Get Ready for the Viruses

As August turns to September, every year, without fail, there is an increase in the number of colds and flus that people endure. With the kids going back to school there seems to be a fresh group for each virus to infect.  Even if you do not have children, the people around you likely do and this, in turn, affects you.

BackpackThere are things that you can do to decrease the likelihood that you will contract one of these viruses. Even if you do contract one, your body will more quickly and readily fight it off.

Stay Hydrated

As summer turns to fall, we are less aware of the need to drink water. Just because you are no longer overheating doesn’t mean you don’t need to drink water. You still require one ounce of water for every two pounds of body weight.  When you are well hydrated your body can produce ample mucus your primary barrier to incoming microbes like viruses.  When your membranes dry out, not only are you less comfortable but you are poorly protected.

Watch your diet

Summertime provides us with many fresh fruits and vegetables.  Continue focusing on eating these and other whole foods to provide you with the best spectrum of nutrients to ward off viruses. Some of the most important foods are:

  • Garlic and onions: These related species have components that are both anti-viral and anti-bacterial.
  • Mushrooms: most edible mushrooms, except the common white button mushrooms (sorry), contribute immune health by increasing white blood cell production and activity.
  • Honey: Raw honey is both a food and a medicine. It contains small amounts of bee pollen which stimulates lymphocytes, the foot soldier of your immune system.
  • Citrus fruits and dark leafy greens: these have high levels of vitamin C, which is a plus for immune function.
  • Brazil Nuts, Oysters and Chia seeds: A strange combination of foods but these some of the best sources of selenium, a mineral that your immune system requires for optimal function
  • Spinach, Pumpkin Seeds and Lamb: These foods are high in zinc, a mineral that supports immune health.

Supplement Your Vitamins

The most potent nutrients to protect against infection are:

  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin D
  • Selenium
  • Zinc 

Get Daily Exercise

The amount of exercise that you get on a daily basis greatly affects your ability to fight off viruses.  By exercising daily, you will improve your sleep, increase your metabolism and improve overall health. Even if you can’t exercise every day, try to get at least 150 minutes per week. 


By drinking Echinacea tea, you are promoting immune health by warding off and fighting microbes that you become exposed to during the course of the day.  You can take Echinacea throughout the winter months and in large doses (contradictory statements have been proven false). Some people with ragweed allergies should avoid this herb.


This Chinese herb can stimulate white blood cells to both prevent and fight infections. Astragalus works at protecting you over the long term; it takes 6-8 weeks before it reaches its full effect.  It can easily be added to any soup or stew that is simmering over a long period of time.


Mostly people think of probiotics as supporting digestive health but it has a broader scope than the local gastrointestinal effect.  Probiotics eliminate unhealthy bacteria and fungi from the digestive tract. This helps to alleviate the overall number of challenges that your immune system is managing at any given time. This, in turn, frees up a substantial amount of immune cells to protect you in other areas of the body.

Stress and Sleep

Quality sleep and reduced stress are two other very important factors for immune health.  Insomnia increases internal stress and stress depletes the energy in your body.  Reduced energy weakens immune function.

Bathroom SinkHand Washing

The biggest protection you can give yourself though is consistent hand-washing throughout your day.  Anti-bacterial soap is more harmful than it is helpful; these products build resistance in bacteria and truly are unnecessary.  It is best to thoroughly wash your hands for TWO minutes with a gentle soap.

Individualized Care

There are always dangers in generalizing care, for an approach that is best suited to your needs, please contact my clinic and book an appointment.

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