Sad Diet

Why You Must Avoid A SAD Diet

Why is the SAD diet so bad…most of us eat it everyday!

Between work, school, family, and social life our increasingly busy schedules have favored convenient foods that can quickly satisfy our cravings.

In this article Dr. Irina Chan, ND, discusses the research around why you should avoid a SAD type diet. Especially if you are concerned about elevating your risk for cancer.

Maybe we can all relate here. It’s become increasingly difficult to make healthy and nutritious meals all the time. Overtime, we have lost touch with where food comes from and how it’s prepared with the introduction and rise of food processing and widespread distribution, preserved and packaged foods, microwavable meals, drive-thrus, food delivery services, and convenience stores.

It’s important to recognize that it’s not simply a matter of individual choices, but a more complex issue that involves government bodies, societal pressures, businesses, and corporations leading us to eat this way.

We are seeing that over time, fresh and perishable food items have become less accessible and less affordable, meaning that for a lot of people eating healthy every day is not a practical option. Meanwhile, we’re seeing that junk food has become more widely available, more affordable, and very intensely marketed, especially towards lower income communities and children.


The SAD diet or the Standard American Diet (I guess we could call this the Standard Canadian Diet too), is a modern-day diet that has been attributed to poor health.

Some of the issues I have with the standard American diet is that it’s highly processed. The more a food is processed, the less nutrients the food will have. Highly processed foods can literally end up with no nutritional value and cause your body more harm than good.

It’s also pro-inflammatory, meaning that it promotes inflammation in our bodies. Chronic inflammation can damage healthy cells, tissues, and organs over time. Chronic inflammation contributes to a wide range of disease including heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, cancer, obesity, asthma and dementia.

The SAD diet often consists of artificial colorings, which in high amounts can be toxic to the liver as well as other organs. Artificial food dyes may also contain contaminants such as benzidine, 4-amino-bipheny, and p-cresidine that are known cancer-causing substances. Artificial food dyes are associated with hypersensitivity reactions, changes in behavior, mood, concentration, and headaches in humans and tumor formation in rats.

High glycemic foods such as white bread, pasta, sodas, and desserts are low in fiber and high in sugar. This means that when ingested, they are rapidly digested, absorbed through the intestines, and can cause significant spikes in blood sugar. Over time, this can lead to poor blood sugar control and diabetes.

On average, American adults eat 10-15 grams of total fiber a day which is far off from the recommended 25 grams of fiber per day for women and 38 grams of fiber per day for men. Lack of fiber in our diets can promote poor blood sugar control, elevated cholesterol levels, and poor digestive health. A diet high in fiber helps to increase the composition and diversity of our gut microbiome, which enhances our immune response to pathogens and cancerous cells.

Pesticides, which are widely used in agriculture, and hormones, which are often added to animal feed, can be toxic to humans. Pesticides are known endocrine-disruptors and is associated with elevated rates of breast cancer. Furthermore, pesticide exposure during pregnancy is associated with increased rates of leukemia, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and brain tumor in children.

On average, Americans eat more than 3400 milligrams of sodium per day. However, the recommended daily limit for sodium intake is less than 2300 milligrams or approximately 1 teaspoon of table salt per day. Diets high in salt is associated with elevated risk of developing high blood pressure, which is a major cause of stroke and heart disease.

And lastly, the SAD diet is often high in trans-fat and saturated fats, which can lead to inflammation and obesity. It can also lead to buildup of fatty deposits in our blood vessels and the development of coronary artery disease, putting one at risk for heart attacks and strokes.

The graph shown here depicts the rate of cancer incidence and mortality between 1975 to 2018. Between 1975 to approximately 2000 there has been an increase in cancer incidence and mortality in both men and female. This upward trend has been linked to the increased intake of unhealthy fats, cholesterol, and refined sugar.

You will also notice a decrease in rates after approximately 1995. This is most likely due to increased cancer surveillance, advancements in cancer treatments, and cancer prevention programs focused on nutrition, physical activity, and other modifiable risk factors.

Now let’s get into the research involving the cancer risks with certain foods we are consuming.

Studies looking at the incidence of cancer in those who consumed the highest amount of red meat versus those who consumed the lowest amounts had a 9% increased risk of breast cancer, 10% increased risk of colorectal cancer, 26% increased risk of lung cancer, and 22% increased risk of liver cancer.

Similarly, studies looking at the incidence of cancer in those who consumed the highest amount of processed meat versus those who consumed the lowest amounts had a 6% increased risk of breast cancer, 18% increased risk of colorectal cancer, 12% increased risk of lung cancer, and 24% increased risk of stomach cancer.

There is a 12% increased risk of cancer associated with sugar-sweetened beverages like soda and juice. Moreover, consuming high glycemic foods (foods that are high in sugar and low in fiber) can contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes which has been strongly linked to increased risk cancer including cancer of the bladder, breast, colorectum, endometrium, kidney, liver, and pancreas.

In addition, high amounts of dietary salt intake have been shown to increase risk of stomach cancer and esophageal cancer.

Before we end this article, I want to touch on obesity.

Recent work has revealed that overweight or obesity, as measured by weight or body mass index, does not increase cancer risk; rather excess visceral adiposity or the fat that covers our organs, as measured by waist circumference, waist-to-hip ratio, is.

Specifically, abdominal obesity is associated with a 42% increased risk of colorectal cancer, 32% increased risk lung cancer, and 6% increased risk of post-menopausal breast cancer.

Researchers looked at women diagnosed with breast cancer and followed them for 9 years. They found that compared to women who were able to maintain a stable weight, those who gained a median weight of 6 pounds after their breast cancer diagnosis was associated with a 35% increased risk of death from breast cancer. And those who gained more than 17 pounds had a 64% increased risk of death from breast cancer.

Similarly, compared to men who were able to maintain a stable weight, those who gained more than 4 pounds had twice the risk of prostate cancer recurrence.

From such studies we can extrapolate the importance of maintaining a healthy body weight to prevent the development and recurrence of cancer.

There are many health risks associated with the SAD diet, especially when it comes to cancer. While I know how hard it is to change habits, especially when it comes to eating, I think it’s important to try.

There are many healthy ways of eating to choose from. Pick one that suits your lifestyle and start making small changes towards a healthier you!

If you have any questions about your health, cancer prevention, or integrative cancer care, you can always book a free consultation with Dr. Irina Chan, ND by clicking here.


cancer fighting foods

Cancer Fighting Foods

Cancer fighting foods. Which foods, diets, and nutrition help reduce cancer risk.

In this article we’re going to look at:

  • Functional foods for cancer prevention.
  • Foods to avoid, and foods you thought you needed to avoid, but should not!
  • To finish off, a few types of diets and how they can affect your cancer risk as well as help with prevention.

If you want to discuss cancer prevention, or integrative cancer care, you can always book a free consultation with Dr. Irina Chan, ND by clicking here.

What are Cancer fighting foods? Also known as Functional Foods?

Functional foods are foods that have been linked to lowering cancer risks. They work by improving the immune response, reducing inflammation, promoting detoxification, or protecting our DNA from oxidative damage.

In recent years there have been laboratory studies showing that these specific foods have been effective in either indirectly or directly blocking tumor growth.

In fact, you can find these types of food items on almost any grocery store shelf!

Some cancer fighting foods to incorporate into your diet include garlic, and this can also include leeks and onions. Garlic may help to prevent cancer by improving the immune response, reducing inflammation, detoxification, and protecting DNA from oxidative damage. Garlic intake is inversely associated with risk of stomach, colorectal, prostate cancer.

Cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli, kale, cabbage, cauliflower, and brussel sprouts contain sulforaphanes and isothiocyanates that may help to prevent cancer by improving detoxification and limiting the accumulation of excess hormones that can promote breast cancer or prostate cancer.

Cruciferous vegetable intake is inversely associated with risk of breast, kidney, bladder, lung, colorectal and prostate cancer.

Mushrooms, such as shiitake and maitake and even white button mushrooms are great to include in your diet of cancer fighting foods. Higher mushroom consumption is associated with lower risk of cancer stemming from their potent antioxidant properties. Mushrooms also contain β-glucans which have been implicated as having antitumor and immunomodulation properties. By improving our immunity, we are improving our body’s natural defense against cancer.

And lastly, green tea contains catechins, which are powerful antioxidants that have been shown to inhibit the growth and spread of tumor cells in laboratory studies. Green tea consumption has been shown to reduce the risk of oral, stomach, colorectal, lung, breast, ovarian and prostate cancer.

Oftentimes, I recommend having three to five cups of green tea a day.

Next, I’ll be covering some of the frequently asked questions associated with diet, nutrition and cancer risk.

I’m going to start off with soy. Oftentimes both men and women, are told to avoid soy because of its estrogenic effects. However, when you look into the research, soy consumption is associated with a reduction risk of breast cancer, as well as prostate cancer. Even in those who take it after their breast cancer diagnosis, it was shown to help prevent the recurrence. This is most likely due to soy binding to the estrogen receptors more weakly than estrogen itself. So when soy binds to the estrogen receptor, it actually inhibits estrogen from binding to these receptors. And that’s why we see a benefit here.

What about alcohol intake? Alcohol consumption increases risk for all cancers and the risk increases as you drink more. That means, that there is no safe amount of alcohol that can be consumed. There seems to be one exception. Higher consumption of wine seems to contribute to elevated breast cancer risk; however, lower doses (a third of a cup a day) does seem to have some protective effects, most likely due to the polyphenol and resveratrol content within the wine.

What about coffee? Coffee is good! Black coffee is actually rich in polyphenols which have protective effects against certain cancers like liver, endometrial, prostate, oral, and colorectal cancer. Just be mindful of what you’re adding to your coffee before drinking it (i.e. sugar and cream).

Should you be avoiding dairy? When it comes to cancer prevention, there seems to be inconsistent data on the consumption of dairy products in general. However, there seems to be protective effects associated with the consumption of fermented dairy products such as yogurt and cheese. If you would like to include dairy in your diet, it is best to choose organic products that do not contain residual antibiotics, hormones, and pesticides.

Are carbohydrates really that bad? Another big question is if one should avoid sugar and carbs. When you eat carbohydrates, they are broken down into sugars, which is the primary fuel source our cells use to give us enough energy to sustain our daily activities. But sugar in excess amounts can contribute to diabetes and weight gain, which is associated with the elevated risk of cancer.

Rather than eliminate carbs entirely from our diets, focus on reducing simple carb intake (e.g. white pasta, bread, white sugar, candy, desserts) and incorporate more complex carbs (e.g. fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans) that can stabilize blood sugar levels and have additional cancer-fighting nutrients. If you have a sweet tooth, choose lower glycemic index options (less sugar spiking effect) such as dates, bananas, monk fruit, stevia, xylitol, raw honey, or coconut sugar.

What about eggs? Data is mixed. Some have failed to find an association, but some have found that consuming ≥ 5 eggs/week was significantly associated with an increased risk of breast, ovarian compared with no egg consumption. Men who consumed 2.5 or more eggs per week had an 81% increased risk of lethal prostate cancer compared with men who consumed less than 0.5 eggs per week.

Similarly, those who consumed >3 eggs a week had increased risk of gastrointestinal cancer compared to those who consumed <3 eggs a week. Based on these studies, perhaps it’s best to limit our egg intake to less than three or five a week.  But more research is needed to confirm the cancer risks associated with egg consumption.

Intermittent fasting, is it all that? Intermittent fasting has really become a trend lately. In terms of cancer, preliminary studies have shown that prolonged fasting is safe and potentially capable of decreasing toxicity associated with chemotherapy, as well as having some benefit towards reducing tumor growth. Intermittent fasting may also be considered in adults seeking cancer-prevention benefits through means of weight management. However, intermittent fasting is not suitable for everyone especially if you have diabetes, unintended weight loss, fatigue, a history of disordered eating or mood disorders, or are pregnant or lactating.

Should I be vegetarian? A plant-based diet is best for cancer prevention. However, it is important to eat enough protein to meet your energy needs which may be challenging while on an entirely plant-based diet. Modest amounts of fish or white meats can help you meet your daily protein requirements and provide additional cancer-prevention benefits (such as omega-3).

Lastly, I want to touch on the keto diet. With the keto diet, there is currently no conclusive evidence to support its use for improved survival in cancer patients. There are risk factors associated with being on a keto diet, such as losing weight, headache, brain fog, fatigue, nausea, and constipation. It is also a diet that is challenging to adhere to.

I hope you found this information helpful. If you have any questions about cancer prevention, or integrative cancer care, you can book a free consultation with Dr. Irina Chan, ND, by clicking here. 




PMS. Premenstrual Syndrome is a very real phenomenon experienced by a vast majority of women during their menstruating years.  It is estimated that almost 90% of women experience some premenstrual symptoms!

In this article we’re going to cover:

The premenstrual symptoms
What causes PMS
What natural treatments you can use for PMS
The top 5 things you can do today to help PMS

If at any time you wish to discuss how a naturopathic doctor can help with PMS, you can book a free call with Dr. Keara by clicking here.

PMS is defined as recurrent physical, psychological and emotional symptoms that affect quality of life and occur cyclically during the luteal phase of the cycle (the week or two before your period begins).

While the exact causes of PMS are unknown, it is thought to be related to hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle. Whatever the cause, PMS can be a real challenge to deal with.

Luckily, there are a number of things you can do to help ease the symptoms of PMS. If you or someone you know is struggling with PMS, then keep reading as we are going to cover the symptoms of PMS, likely causes of PMS, treatments, and things you can do right away to help PMS.

Many people think that moodiness and irritability during PMS is all there is to it, but in actuality this can be just one symptom of PMS among many others. There are so many more things you need watch out for!

Some of the most common premenstrual symptoms include:

  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Heart palpitations
  • Bloating
  • Water retention
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating

It’s true that PMS can be pretty uncomfortable and inconvenient. As you can see there is a lot more to PMS that needs to be looked at and addressed. The more you know about your symptoms, the better!

The good news is that PMS can be managed once you have identified the symptoms specific to you.

Before we dive into what you can do to help your PMS symptoms, it is important to understand where your PMS is coming from.

So what causes PMS?

You may have heard that PMS is caused by a hormone imbalance.  This isn’t exactly true, as women with PMS have been shown to have the same levels of hormones compared to those without PMS.

Instead, PMS is believed to be caused by a sensitivity to the fluctuating levels of ovarian hormones.  Since these hormones influence neurotransmitters serotonin and GABA, this sensitivity leads to the symptoms of PMS.

How do we test for PMS? Is it in the blood?

Blood work can tell reveal many things that are going on in the body, but unfortunately not in the is case.

The doctors of yesteryear thought that reviewing blood work could show us different levels when symptoms of PMS were present. As more attention was put on PMS we have seen that when it comes to blood tests, hormone levels are usually found in the normal range.  Blood testing is not helpful for diagnosing and treating PMS.

What is the Best Way to Assess PMS?

The best way to assess for whether hormones are at the cause of your symptoms is to track your symptoms across your menstrual cycle for a full 2-3 cycles/months.

The easiest way to do this is to download a period tracking app like Clue, Period Tracker, or Flo.  Of course, you can also use a paper calendar and pen! The first day of your period is considered day 1 of your cycle, and through the whole cycle (likely anywhere from 24 to 34 days), you want to take note of your symptoms (mood swings, irritability, bloating, breast tenderness, energy, etc.).  The hardest part is remembering to keep track, so I recommend doing this at the same time each day, i.e. before bed, to make it a routine.

Once you have gathered all this information, you want to take it to a Naturopathic Doctor who focuses on hormonal health.

With this information, you can consult your Naturopathic Doctor who will be able to identify trends and see whether hormones may have a hand in the symptoms that are bothering you.

How do we treat PMS?

As Naturopathic Doctors, we take a holistic and comprehensive approach to treatment. In terms of PMS, a naturopathic doctor uses nutrition, nutraceuticals  as well lifestyle changes such a diet or exercise plans in order support hormone balance throughout your entire cycle so you can feel good all month long.

Before I share some general tips that can help you, I want you to remember that each person is unique, and while these can help, it is important that you get to the root of your unique symptoms.

Here are the top 5 ways you can get started today!

1. Consume more whole grains and complex carbohydrates.

This one might surprise you. What if I told you that the most important macronutrient to minimize PMS symptoms is carbohydrates?  The type of carbs matters too! Research shows that the most important macronutrient to minimize PMS symptoms is carbohydrates, and specifically – complex carbs!

Increasing whole grains reduces both the physical and emotional symptoms of PMS.  A quick way to get started is to incorporate foods like wild or brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa, rye bread, sweet potatoes, etc.

2. Don’t Stress!
I know, so much easier said than done.  Higher levels of perceived stress are associated with increased premenstrual symptoms.

The fact is that stress is an inevitable part of our modern-day lifestyle, and trying to remove all stressors is not realistic.  It’s really important to get your stress response under control.

What really matters when it comes to our health outcomes is our perceived stress.  i.e. how well we feel we can manage the stressors in our life.  Here are some things to think about to assess your levels of perceived stress:

-Do you feel confident in your ability to handle issues that come up day to day?

-Do you often feel nervous or stressed out?

-Do you feel like you are on top of things in your life?

-Do you feel easily angered by things that are outside of your control?

A huge first step in managing your stress it to be aware of your stress levels.  It’s important to bring in some practices and strategies to manage the stressors.  That could include exercise, good quality sleep, adrenal support, engaging in hobbies, being in nature, etc.

3. Exercise

Whether you have just started your period or are approaching menopause, exercise is an excellent way to manage PMS symptoms. Not only does it improve mood but can also reduce bloating and the other physical discomfort symptoms associated with your period.

Start by engaging 20-30 minutes of activity 4 days per week so that soon enough these sessions will become part ‘wants’ rather than ‘chores’ because they’re good for us both inside AND out. It can be anything that you enjoy – a brisk walk in nature, a yoga class, sex, weight lifting, etc.

4. Continue tracking your menstrual cycle and know which phase you are in!

 Not only does tracking your symptoms help to diagnose PMS, but continuing to track your menstrual cycle and knowing which phase you are in can help to improve your PMS experience.  When you know that you are in your luteal phase (the week or two before your period) and are more susceptive to symptoms of PMS, this can in and of itself help to make the symptoms feel more manageable.  It is empowering to know what is happening in your body, and is super important and useful and you continue to work on the underlying causes.

5.Consider nutraceuticals like vitamin D, chaste tree, and calcium.  

 A few of the herbs and nutrients that have been shown to be effective for PMS in our tool kit include chaste tree or vitex berry, calcium, and vitamin D. We always recommend working with an ND to determine which supplements and at what dose will be the most effective and safe for you.

Premenstrual syndrome is a group of symptoms that many women experience in the days leading up to their menstrual period. While the exact cause of PMS is still unknown, we do know that it can be caused by a combination of factors including hormone fluctuations, diet, stress, and lifestyle choices.

Fortunately, there are many things you can do to help manage your symptoms. If you’re looking for some immediate relief, start with the five tips you can start using today.

For more long-term solutions, book a free consultation with Dr. Keara, one of our naturopathic doctors – she will work with you to create a personalized treatment plan tailored specifically to your needs. We hope this article has been helpful – please share it!

Here’s to feeling like yourself again – all month long!

Dr. Keara Taylor, ND is passionate about helping women to feel at home and guided by the wisdom of their bodies.  She believes that our symptoms are indications that our bodies and lifestyles are out of balance. Dr. Keara combines comprehensive evaluation with in depth lab testing when necessary to determine the root cause of symptoms.  She uses evidence based and traditional forms of medicine to come up with an individualized treatment plan that may include clinical nutrition, botanical medicine and nutrient supplementation, IV Drip therapy, BHRT and acupuncture.

You can book a free consultation with Dr.Keara by clicking here.




Burnout, what is it and what you do about it.

Burnout is a very real problem in today’s world. A result of constant long term stress either from work, your personal life or a combination of the two. The burden of responsibilities and tasks becomes overwhelming, and there is not enough time to rest and restore to some sense of balance.

Essentially, you are running on empty.

We know that stress is a part of everyday life, for everyone alive. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you live, or what you do, we will all face stress. Your body has an internal system that helps respond and cope with the everyday stress of life.

But what happens when these systems don’t work the way they should? What happens when they break down?

A lot of the recent research has focused on the burnout rates amongst health care providers, working extremely long hours, and putting themselves and their needs last, essentially draining themselves of their internal coping mechanisms.

Let’s face it however; health care providers are not the only people who are vulnerable to burnout.

Everyone is susceptible to burnout.

It’s not just the high achieving, or people with a stressful or demanding job, or parents of young children. More and more people are trying to balance busy lives and giving so much of themselves to everyone else that they don’t realize they are burning the candle at both ends.

How can you define burnout?

Burnout has three dimensions and is described as

  • Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion
  • Increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and
  • Reduced efficacy in all parts of life

When you’re in a state of burnout, it can be difficult to fulfill your job’s demands, while also showing up in your personal life. This may lead to feelings of failure, anxiety, depression, low productivity and strained relationships. Burnout affects mental, emotional, and physical health.

What are the symptoms of burnout?

Burnout can look different for everyone but these are some of the symptoms you may experience. It is important to note that there is both a combination of emotional, mental, and physical symptoms with burnout.

Symptoms may include:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Sense of failure and self-doubt
  • Detached, feeling alone in the world
  • Loss of motivation
  • Increasingly cynical and negative outlook
  • Decreased satisfaction and sense of accomplishment
  • Reduced performance
  • Difficulty with memory and concentration
  • Chronic headaches
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Vulnerability to illness such as colds and flus
  • Anxiety/ depression
  • Alcohol or substance misuse
  • High blood pressure and heart issues

These are some questions we would ask you to ask yourself…

  • Do you feel stuck in your current situation, wanting to make a change, but not having the energy to do so? Unsure where to start?
  • Do you wake up tired, unrefreshed, and unmotivated for the day, unsure how you will get through it?
  • Do you have trouble focusing, and overthink everything leading to overwhelm?
  • Are you beginning to question yourself in everything you do?
  • Do you see other people with abundant energy, and feel disappointment in yourself asking ‘why can’t I do this?’
  • Are you gaining unwanted weight because you’re eating differently to try to increase energy – going to the wrong foods for quick energy, leading to shame, guilt, and inadequacy?
  • Do you worry that feeling this way is a sign you’re getting older faster than you should and that your best years are behind you?
  • Are your relationships with your family, friends and colleagues suffering because you aren’t able to engage with them like you used to?

If you’re nodding your head to some or all of the above  then you may be experiencing burnout.

How do you test for burnout?

When considering burnout, it’s important to rule out other conditions that may mimic these symptoms. Your Naturopathic Doctor will do a thorough health history and investigation, along with some blood work and physical exams to rule out other underlying deficiencies or disorders that may be contributing to your symptoms.

Some common testing that is helpful to help rule in/out burnout includes:

Specifically for burnout, your naturopathic doctor may discuss the 4 point cortisol salivary test, or the Dutch Test’s Cortisol Awakening Test.

This test measure cortisol levels at 4 specific times of the day, to assess the diurnal pulsation of your cortisol, as well as your cortisol awakening response.

In clients who are experiencing burnout, we typically see a blunted or negative cortisol awakening response, as well as low cortisol levels throughout the day.

What are the treatment options for burnout?

You may be thinking, doesn’t everyone suffer from this? Isn’t it normal to feel like this, isn’t that just life to feel exhausted?

Although burnout is unfortunately common, it is not normal to experience, suffer, or endure.

Our Naturopathic Doctors can’t take away the responsibilities and stress that comes with life (although they wish they could). What they can help with is your body’s ability to buffer these stressors, the stamina to cope with them, and provide you with the tools and resources to help you recover.

They will have a thorough discussion with you about the things you can control, like nutrition, exposure to nature, physical activity, and daily habits that can allow your body to recover from burnout in a vary strategic manner.

They may also discuss IV drip therapy to provide your cells with the micronutrients needed to replenish ATP and cellular energy systems contributing to depletion, or supplements such as adaptogens and specific vitamins/minerals which support your body’s stress pathways, hormones (like cortisol, thyroid, melatonin and other), and ability to buffer stress.

The symptoms and experience of burnout is specific to the individual, and therefore the treatment plan should be individualized as well.

If you think you may be suffering from burnout, reach out to one of our Naturopathic Doctors today. Although it may be common, it is not normal to feel this way!

You can book a free consultation by clicking here.



IBS area


IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)

You’ve had a camera up and down both ends, you’ve had multiple blood tests, and some stool tests to rule out every other GI condition. It’s been a long, and invasive process, and instead of leaving with some answers you leave a consult that you’ve waited 3 months for feeling further lost and confused.

At this point, you feel as though you are no better off than when you started the process and wonder, will I ever get better?

In this article we’re going to cover:

  • What Causes IBS
  • The Symptoms of IBS
  • Top 5 things you can do to treat IBS

Before you get into this article, if at anytime you want to book a free consultation to speak with a Naturopathic Doctor about IBS, click here.

You can book a free consultation by clicking here.

So you’ve been diagnosed with IBS…Do you want the good news or do you want the good news?

Good news is that Naturopathic Doctors love talking about poop.  The other good news is that we are REALLY good at treating functional gastrointestinal disorders, especially when you’ve been told there really isn’t any other options for treatment.

IBS shouldn’t be a diagnosis of exclusion that takes months to be identified, you deserve to be diagnosed more quickly with an earlier adoption of treatment to help relieve the symptoms that are causing you distress as soon as possible!

What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

IBS is an extremely common chronic functional gastrointestinal disorder, which affects about 20% of North Americans. That means for every 1 in 5 people, they will receive the label of irritable bowel syndrome. It affects women almost twice as much as men, and can severely impact one’s quality of life.

A group of gastroenterology experts have actually developed the “Rome Criteria” to classify IBS and other functional gastrointestinal disorders.

In the conventional setting, in order to receive a diagnosis of IBS you must meet the following criteria:

Recurrent abdominal pain on average at least 1 day/ week in the last 3 months, associated with two or more of the following criteria:

  1. Related to defecation
  2. Associated with a change in frequency of stool
  3. Associated with a change in appearance of stool

And then in small print they state that the criteria must be fulfilled for the last 3 months with symptom onset at least 6 months prior to diagnosis.  This means that typically individuals suffering with symptoms have to wait a long time before they begin to get answers.

There are different classifications of IBS including IBS-C: characterized by chronic constipation, IBS-D: characterized by chronic diarrhea, IBS-M: a combination of both diarrhea and constipation, and IBS-U: known as undefined IBS.

People with IBS may experience bloating, intense abdominal pain, stool changes, and extra intestinal symptoms such as anxiety, depression, fibromyalgia, chronic pelvic pain and chronic fatigue. Symptoms can be so severe and unpredictable, it can prevent us from going out for dinner, attending social events, going on vacation, or even attending school lectures or going in for work.

IBS can be frustrating, embarrassing, and exhausting to deal with. I’m here to tell you that IBS does not have to be controlling your life and there are effective ways to help manage IBS so that you can start living your life!

In naturopathic medicine we always ask but is it really just IBS?  What’s causing the IBS? Is there an underlying factor that could be contributing to these patient’s symptoms?

What Causes IBS?

The short answer is… we don’t know exactly. The long answer is it that it could be due to combination of many things, and that combination is different for every individual.

The pathophysiology of IBS unfortunately is not black and white. What we do know is that some of these factors include impaired gut motility, increased gut permeability, visceral hypersensitivity, altered intestinal flora and gut dysbiosis, small-intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), altered enteric neurotransmitters, inflammation, diet and food sensitivities, genetics, maladaptive stress response, and more.

Not so simple huh?

A Naturopathic Approach to Treating IBS- Finding the Root Cause

Naturopathic Doctors are like gut health detectives searching for the root cause of your IBS, and investigating how a combination of the above factors may be contributing to your specific gastrointestinal symptoms.

We know that every person is unique, so what aggravates one person’s gut and IBS will not be the same as the next person.

Naturopathic Doctors are trained to look at the whole person, including how different systems communicate with one another, and how the brain communicates to the gut and vice versa.

We may ask questions like how is your mood? How is your stress? Have you had any prior infections? Antibiotic usage? Any past surgeries? What is your diet like? What does your lifestyle look like? Have you noticed any foods that make it better, or make it worse? Aside from altered bowel movements do you have any indigestion? Do you have gas or bloating immediately following a meal? Do you get any acid reflux or heart burn?

The questions help your naturopathic doctor uncover all the relevant information to know the next steps that will help you.  Naturopathic doctors on average spend at least 60-90 minutes per visit with their clients, that means they get into the nitty gritty questions that you’ve probably never even thought about.

Various Treatment Options for IBS


Based on the totality of symptoms and a careful diet history, several different dietary strategies may be suggested.

Food sensitivity testing may be discussed to help explore whether any food intolerances (note not allergies) may be exacerbating your symptoms, and a tailored elimination diet followed accordingly. This does not mean you have to eliminate such foods for the rest of your life though! Another critical aspect in working with a Naturopathic Doctor to address your IBS includes helping to heal your gut so that you can eventually eat without having to compromise the foods that you enjoy eating.

A low-FODMAP diet, which stands for foods containing fermentable, oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols, may be recommended. High FODMAP foods such as broccoli, peas, garlic, onions, wheat, dairy, beans, added sugars, and even apples can be poorly absorbed in the small intestine leading to digestive complaints. They contain small and osmotically active molecules that can rapidly draw excessive fluid into the intestine (hello diarrhea), and they can be rapidly fermented by bacteria into various gases that can cause excess flatulence, abdominal pain, and bloating.

While the type of foods you eat are important, the time you eat is also as important! For those who are affected by IBS, it is important to eat small and frequent meals rather than large and irregular meals, which can worsen symptoms.

IV Therapy

IV drips have been used for years to help people with digestive disorders. They work by bypassing the stomach and intestines, which means they can be safer than other treatments because there’s no contact time for harmful substances to build up in your system like food allergies or sensitivities do when you eat something new – it just goes straight into circulation!

IV Drip for Digestion has a few key objectives with each treatment: 

·        Anti-inflammatory which reduces inflammation and helps you absorb nutrients

·        Targeted nutrients specific for GI healing

·        Helps reduce GI pain & cramping

Mind-Body Therapies

IBS is strongly linked to anxiety and mood disorders. You may have noticed that at times of stress, your bowels start acting up leading to endless trips to the bathroom. Unfortunately, experiencing such symptoms can make you even more stressed and it can quickly turn into a vicious cycle.

To help calm your digestive symptoms, we want to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which is your body’s rest and digest response. This includes practicing mindfulness and meditation, deep belly breathing, and taking time for yourself on a regular basis to relax.

Gentle movement such as walking, yoga, or swimming can not only help reduce stress levels but also help improve bowel function. Those who incorporate more movement into their daily lives have found a reduction in the frequency and severity of their IBS symptoms.

It is also important to note that high-intensity exercises such as jumping, running, or HIIT workouts can aggravate your IBS symptoms.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can also produce significant and long-term GI symptom improvement for patients with IBS, influencing the gut-brain axis, mental-emotional health and stress management.


Enteric coated peppermint oil is one of the most widely studied supplements in the management of IBS. It has antispasmodic properties which can help soothe and relax the intestinal wall, as well as normalizing transit time, acting on certain receptors to modify the gut.

L-glutamine is an amino acid that is useful in healing the intestinal lining in those that may have inflammation in their gut. L-glutamine acts as the primary and preferred energy source of intestinal cells helping to promote proper growth and function, maintain the integrity and protective function of the gut lining, suppress pro-inflammatory signaling pathways, and protect cells against oxidative stress.

It has been noted that patients with IBS have altered concentrations of certain microorganisms in their gut compared to those without IBS. Probiotics can have a positive effect to help regulate the microbiota composition within the gut, which can lead to improvement of abdominal pain, distention, and altered bowel movement. Prebiotics are carbohydrates, specifically plant fibers, that serve as a food source for microorganisms in our gut. Current research suggests beneficial alteration of the gut microbiota as well as relief of IBS symptoms through a combination of both probiotics and prebiotics.


Research looking at acupuncture has been shown to be an effective treatment option for those suffering from IBS symptoms by regulating the gut-brain axis, helping to re-establish a smooth mind-body connection, and improving visceral hyperactivity.

This is not an exhaustive list by any means, but it provides a general overview of some of the treatment options available.

What’s Next?

As with any treatment, it is imperative to discuss your treatment options with a health care team that has vast experience in gastrointestinal disorders. Our team at Higher Health Naturopathic clinic uses individualized medicine, looking at the totality of symptoms to determine a treatment plan that’s the right fit for you.

Let’s work together to help you feel better, sooner. Book a free consultation with one of our naturopathic doctors today.


Adrenal Gland

Adrenal Gland

Adrenal Gland. Do they Need a Little TLC?

In this article we are going to cover…

  • What is a adrenal gland?
  • What is adrenal gland fatigue?
  • The top symptoms of adrenal fatigue.
  • What you can do to improve your adrenal health.

if at anytime you want to talk to one of our Naturopathic Doctors about your adrenal health, you can book a free consultation by clicking here.

We’ve all heard people say these things before, “I wake up tired, and go to bed tired”, or “I feel exhausted, but as soon as my head hits the pillow my mind starts to buzz”.  Our bodies were built to handle stressful events, for example our ancestors needed their stress activated nervous system to be able to run away from predators.

In these acute situations stress is a good thing, it helps us to survive, to fight. Once these acute situations are over, our body is designed to return to harmony in its normal hormonal balance.

However, when we are exposed to ongoing stress, this response doesn’t get shut off as it should be. Our bodies think it is constantly in danger, and hormones shift to respond to these constant perceived stressors. This is what can burn our adrenal glands out.

What is Adrenal Fatigue?

Our adrenal gland are tis a tiny gland that sit on each of our kidneys. They are responsible for producing our stress hormones such as epinephrine, norepinephrine and cortisol. Cortisol is secreted in a very specific manner, lined up with our circadian rhythm. It spikes in the morning to act as our “get up and go” hormone to help with waking, and slowly decreases throughout the day to eventually prepare for sleep.

It has an inverse relationship with melatonin, our “sleep” hormone. This means that in the morning when we wake up, cortisol should be high and melatonin should be low. The opposite is true of in the evening when we go to sleep, cortisol should be low, and melatonin at its highest. The term adrenal fatigue is often used to describe the pattern we see when there is an imbalance in this cortisol rhythm.

For example, we may see cortisol spiking at night leaving individuals with this “tired but wired” feeling, or we may see it low in the morning making it difficult to get out of bed.

The term adrenal fatigue can be confusing, since the problem isn’t isolated to the adrenal glands. The issue is actually along the communication line with something called the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis.

In our brains, the hypothalamus releases a hormone called corticotropin-releasing hormone, which then signals to the anterior pituitary gland to secrete adrenocorticotropic hormone, which then signals to our adrenal glands to release cortisol. Our adrenal glands themselves do not alter the production of cortisol because they become “fatigued”, they alter the production of cortisol due to a dysfunction within this communication pathway.

What are the symptoms?

Some of the most common symptoms of HPA axis dysfunction include:

  • Difficulty getting up in the morning, or waking feeling unrested
  • Cravings for salty or sugary foods
  • An afternoon slump or fatigue
  • A second wind in the evening when you should be preparing for sleep
  • Afternoon headaches
  • Difficulty staying asleep throughout the night
  • Lowered libido
  • Changes to mood
  • Difficulty losing weight
  • Other hormonal imbalances

Do any of these symptoms sound familiar? You may be experiencing stress-induced HPA axis dysfunction.

How do you get it?

Often times when we talk about stress, people think solely about mental/emotional stress. However, there are all sorts of stress our bodies are continuously processing, handling, and responding to. This includes perceived stress from our environment, blood sugar dysregulation, inflammatory signaling, sleep disturbances, chronic infections, autoimmune diseases, toxin exposure and feedback inhibition problems along that communication pathway.

When our bodies are constantly exposed to these stressors, it can affect how our brain communicates to our adrenal glands.

What can you do about it?

First and foremost we recommend talking to your naturopathic doctor about diagnostic labs that can assess your cortisol levels, at the appropriate times of the day. This can include either a 4-point salivary test, or through dried urine using the DUTCH test.  In addition to this, your doctor may look at additional lab testing to see if other factors are at play, for example inflammation, chronic infections, or food intolerances. It is essential to pinpoint and identify which stressors may be playing a role in your symptoms, so that a treatment plan can be individualized to you.


  • A focus on real whole foods should be recommended to ensure your body is getting the nutrients it needs to function properly, while minimizing processed and refined foods. Encouraging the consumption of healthy fats from sources such as olive oil, salmon and avocados, dark leafy green vegetables that are rich in magnesium and b-vitamins, and quality protein sources like grass fed meats are recommended. Your Naturopathic Doctor can further make individualized dietary recommendations for you.


  • Adaptogenic herbs such as: Ashwagandha, Rhodiola, Holy Basil, and Schisandra can help our bodies adapt to stress, regulating our cortisol rhythm. Always discuss supplementation with your Naturopathic Doctor before starting these.
  • Magnesium: Magnesium is a mineral that often gets used up and depleted while exposed to chronic stress. It is important for helping to calm our brain, relax our muscles, and to promote a restful sleep.
  • B-vitamins: B vitamins often become depleted in times of chronic stress, and as a result can often affect our energy, mood, and sleep. In addition, B-vitamins are important for supporting our methylation pathways which play a role in the melatonin-cortisol rhythm.
  • Vitamin D: Optimizing Vitamin D levels helps to support a healthy immune system, balance hormones, support energy, and regulate mood. Most Canadians are deficient so it’s important to test, then target supplementation accordingly.

IV therapy:

  • IV Drip Therapy has targeted nutrients including but not limited to magnesium, B-vitamins, glutathione, NAC, carnitine, zinc and Vitamin C delivered directly into the blood stream, bypassing digestion so that it can directly impact cells can help replenish depleted nutrients, and regulate cortisol imbalances.

Mind-Body therapies:

  • Breathing exercises that help us become aware of our breath, and shifting our nervous system from a sympathetic “fight or flight” to a parasympathetic “rest and digest” can be very powerful for helping to regulate our stress response. Mindful meditation is also a great tool to help activate our parasympathetic nervous system.


  • Prioritizing sleep to allow your body to recuperate and recover overnight. Turning off electronics, including your phone a few hours before bed, sleeping in a dark cool room, and trying to sleep and wake at the same time each day are excellent sleep hygiene practices.
  • Exposing ourselves to natural light in the morning helping to regulate that cortisol/melatonin relationship, and spending more time in nature to help stimulate our parasympathetic nervous system and de-stress.
  • Learning to say “no” to things when our plates are already full, practice healthy boundaries, and doing things that are going to fill your cup and not empty it.

These small but mighty glands are involved in so many body functions, that supporting our adrenals and our HPA axis is critical for higher health.

Do you feel pressure to always be striving?

Achieving and taking on more?

Do you find it difficult to relax during down time?

It may be time to look at alternative ways to change your lifestyle, support your stress pathways, and provide your body with the support and rest it needs. If you need some help with that, you can always book a free consultation and speak to one of our naturopathic doctors.


Brain Fog

Brain Fog

Brain fog is a term used to describe a wide variety of symptoms that can include feeling forgetful, mentally sluggish, and having trouble concentrating. It can be caused by many different things such as stress, anxiety, poor diet, and sleep deprivation.

If you’re experiencing brain fog there are some things you need to avoid and there are many things you can do to help clear it up.

The symptoms are pretty clear, so let’s dive into how you can avoid brain fog and then some things you can start doing right away if you do have brain fog!

How to Avoid Brain Fog.

If you’re looking to prevent brain fog, it’s important to identify the root cause of your symptoms. Here are the five most common causes of brain fog and how you can avoid them:

Poor Diet

A poor diet is one of the most common causes of brain fog. If you’re not eating a balanced and healthy diet, your brain won’t be getting the nutrients it needs to function properly. This can lead to symptoms like brain fog, fatigue, and mood swings.

To avoid issues caused by poor diet, make sure to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. Avoid processed foods, sugary drinks, and excessive caffeine.

Lack Of Sleep

If you’re not getting enough sleep, brain fog is one of the most common side effects. When you don’t get enough rest, your brain isn’t able to function at its best. This can lead to problems with concentration, focus, and memory.

To avoid brain fog due to lack of sleep, make sure to get at least seven hours of sleep each night. Establish a regular sleep schedule and avoid using electronic devices before bed. A pro tip is to make sure you get outdoor light exposure first thing in the morning, even if it’s cloudy. This will set your circadian clock.

Stress And Anxiety

Stress and anxiety can be a major cause of brain fog. When you’re stressed out, your brain is working overtime to produce cortisol and other stress hormones. This can lead to problems with focus, concentration, and memory.

To avoid brain fog caused by stress and anxiety, make sure to practice relaxation techniques like meditation and yoga. Make time for self-care tasks like massage, aromatherapy, and journaling. And make sure to talk to a therapist if you’re struggling with anxiety or stress.

Medication Side Effects

Certain medications can cause brain fog as a side effect. If you’re taking medication and you’re experiencing brain fog, talk to your doctor about possible alternatives.

Environmental Toxins

Exposure to environmental toxins can also cause brain fog. Things like air pollution, cigarette smoke, and chemical fumes can all have a negative effect on your brain health.

To avoid brain fog caused by environmental toxins, try to limit your exposure to these things as much as possible. Install a quality air filter in your home, avoid smoking, and steer clear of chemical-laden products.

What can you do to help alleviate brain fog?

There are many different things you can do to help clear brain fog and improve your cognitive function.

Get Enough Sleep

One of the most important things you can do for brain health is get enough sleep. When you don’t get enough sleep, your brain fog is likely to worsen. Aim to get 7-8 hours of quality sleep each night.

Manage Stress And Anxiety

Chronic stress and anxiety can take a toll on the brain and lead to brain fog. To reduce stress and anxiety, try practicing relaxation techniques like yoga or meditation. A simple breathing exercise you can do almost anywhere is; breath in your nose counting to 4. Hold it for a count of 7. Let it out through your mouth at a count of 7. Do this 3-5 times and it will lower your stress response.

Avoid Brain Fog Triggers

If you know that certain things trigger your brain fog, try to avoid them as much as possible. This might mean avoiding caffeine, nicotine or alcohol, or steering clear of large crowds or stressful situations. Once you’re aware of your brain fog, you will start to notice what makes it worse

Eat A Healthy Brain First Diet

A healthy diet is essential for brain health. Make sure to include plenty of brain-boosting foods like omega-3 fatty acids, probiotics, B vitamins, antioxidants and herbs like ginkgo biloba and gotu kola.

Take Supplements

If you’re struggling to get all the nutrients you need from food alone, consider taking supplements. There are a number of supplements that can help improve brain function.

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for brain health. They help protect the brain from damage and improve cognitive function. Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in foods like salmon, walnuts, and flaxseeds

Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that help keep the gut healthy. They’ve also been shown to improve brain function. Probiotics can be found in foods like yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut.

B vitamins are essential for brain health. They help improve cognitive function and protect the brain from damage. B vitamins can be found in foods like beef, poultry, eggs, and legumes.

Herbal supplements like ginkgo biloba and gotu kola are known for their brain-boosting effects. They help improve cognitive function and protect the brain from damage. Herbal supplements can be found in health food stores and online.

One of our fastest treatments for Brain Fog is IV Drip Therapy.

Our clinic offers IV drips for brain fog and mental performance that are made up of the highest quality ingredients available at therapeutic doses.

The key benefits of an IV Drip for brain fog and mental performance are:

  • Decreases neuroinflammation, which is often a cause of brain fog
  • Nutritive for brain health – improves cellular health and provides building blocks for neurotransmitter production
  • Supports detoxification; clearing waste from your system

Unless specified, every IV Drip at Higher Health starts with the following base ingredients before we add on for your specific goal:

  • Vitamin C
  • Magnesium
  • Calcium
  • Trace Minerals (Chromium, Copper, Manganese, Selenium, Zinc)
  • B Vitamins (B1,B2, B3, B5, B6, B12)
  • Amino Acids (which promote cellular repair and optimal function)

To help with  brain fog and mental performance, an IV drip will also include the following:

Vitamin C – Vitamin C is a strong antioxidant and plays a large role in supporting mental performance. Low levels of vitamin C have been correlated with an impaired ability to think and remember. In addition, several studies have shown that individuals with dementia may have lower serum levels of vitamin C. Increasing intake of vitamin C has shown a protective effect on thinking and memory during aging.

Glutathione – Glutathione is our master antioxidant and helps reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in the body. Research suggests that oxidative stress and inflammation near the brain, spine, and nerves (central nervous system) can increase the risk of dementia. Supporting detoxification helps reduce brain fog associated with free radicals and increases mental clarity.

NAC – Working as glutathione’s sidekick, n-acetyl-cysteine supports the antioxidant pathway, neutralizing free radicals that contribute to brain fog. It regulates glutamate levels in the brain, which is an important neurotransmitter involved in memory, learning, and behaviour.

Carnitine – Acetyl-l-carnitine can help improve memory and mitochondrial function. It has shown to prevent age-related cognitive decline and improve aspects of learning. Carnitine supplementation improves mental functioning in older individuals experiencing memory loss.

Vitamin B12 – Vitamin B12 deficiency has been associated with memory issues, confusion, and dementia. It is involved in the development of the brain as it maintains healthy blood cells and nerve cells. Vitamin B12 supplementation has shown to improve cognitive function in individuals who are deficient.

B6 – Vitamin B6 is an important cofactor in the production of several neurotransmitters that have an effect on memory and cognitive function. Research has found high doses of vitamin B6 to be beneficial for inattention associated with ADHD, demonstrating its effect on mental performance and focus.

B5 – Vitamin B5 is essential for healthy brain function and has shown to slow the progression of memory loss. It has shown to improve memory and support the nervous system through the production of neurotransmitters. Vitamin B5 is important for mitochondrial health which ensures the production of ATP (energy) for our brains.

Magnesium – Magnesium is a critical nutrient in support of brain health. It has shown to improve both short and long term memory, as well as reduce the risk of memory loss associated with advanced age. Research has found an association between magnesium deficiency and neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s.

If you have any questions about how we can help you with brain fog or your health in general, please book a free intro consultation with one of our naturopathic doctors. *available only for Ontario residents.


Hormone imbalance

Hormone Imbalance

Hormone Imbalance, Why Does It Happen And What Can You Do?

A hormone imbalance can turn your life upside down. Some people think certain things happen just because we get older and excuse them away. That is not always the case. If you have a hormone imbalance, chances are there is A LOT you can do about it!

In this article we’re going to look at:

  1. What are hormones.
  2. The top 5 things that cause a hormone imbalance.
  3. The symptoms to look for in a hormone imbalance.
  4. How to check your hormones.
  5. What can you do to balance again?

Hormones are critical chemical messengers that control our body’s communication pathways, affecting many aspects of our health. Every part of our body has a job it needs to get done, and our hormones help ensure that job gets completed.

Hormones are secreted by exocrine glands such as the pituitary gland, the adrenal glands, the thyroid, the ovaries/testes, pancreas, etc. They work together to form one large communication center within our body, called the endocrine system.

Without hormones, our body would be unable to grow, to use energy from the food we eat, to regulate our mood or reproductive processes. Even a minor hormone imbalance can lead to widespread symptoms, similar to when we drop a stone into a body of water and watch the ripple effect.

Let’s Look At The Top 5 Causes Of A Hormonal Imbalance


Our bodies are designed to respond to stress acutely by activating our “fight or flight” sympathetic nervous system. One of the main hormones in this reaction is cortisol, one of our steroid hormones. Unfortunately, we tend to see people who are under constant sources of stress, putting this nervous system into overdrive. 

In our for our bodies to meet the demands of this chronic stress, it preferentially uses cholesterol to make cortisol instead of some of our other stress hormones like progesterone. This may lead to symptoms like changes in mood, weight gain, and PMS like symptoms. 

Women are more sensitive to a hormonal imbalance than most men, and chronic stress can negatively impact fertility since our body does not feel reproduction is a priority in times of stress. Our adrenal glands, which secrete cortisol, have a distinction relationship with the hypothalamus and anterior pituitary gland as well, called the HPA axis. When we see this relationship altered, we also see other hormones affected as well like thyroid hormones, melatonin, and insulin.

Irregular Sleep Habits

Most of our bodily functions are synched with our sleep-wake cycle, our hormones included. This means that the release of certain hormones naturally fluctuate throughout the day. Hormones that are under clear circadian control include melatonin, cortisol, our sex hormones, thyroid hormones, and epinephrine. 

Unfortunately, it’s all too common to see people get caught up with day to day tasks, and put sleep on the back burner. This can not only cause a hormone imbalance, but also affect almost every physiological process in our body! Quality sleep needs to be a priority for happy, healthy hormones. We cannot reiterate this enough!


In regards to nutrition, one of the major things that can affect hormone imbalances in blood sugar levels. When we eat a meal high in sugar of refined carbohydrates, we see both a spike in insulin, and a decrease in sex-hormone binding globulin. Sex-hormone binding globulin’s main role is to bind excess hormones in the blood; therefore, when this goes down, free hormones go up. One of the major ones in this case is testosterone (hello androgen excess). 

Androgen excess is something that we see often in individuals who have PCOS, or polycystic ovarian syndrome. If you feel that you rely on processed carbohydrates or sugary foods to provide energy throughout the day, you may have dysregulated blood sugar.

Chronic Inflammation

When we think about inflammation, we most often think about what happens to our tissue post-injury. This kind of inflammation; however, is very different. Chronic inflammation is a systemic level of inflammation that occurs throughout the body in response to prolonged periods of stress, alcohol, toxin exposure, and food sensitivities to name a few. 

Acutely, inflammation is a good thing to help initiate healing and protect the body; chronically however it can lead to many problems. There is an area in our brains that regulates our hormones, and these receptors respond to inflammatory mediators that are being released in inflammatory states. 

For example, in response to this, our brain sends signals to the adrenal glands to pump out more hormones, like cortisol. Our body typically likes to be a tightly regulated system, with everyone in balance to operate at its best. When we get an overproduction of one hormone, we often see other hormones suffering as a response leading to a hormonal imbalance. 

Environmental Toxins

Our environment is a major source of chemicals that have been found to have endocrine disrupting properties. One of the most common endocrine disrupting chemicals are xenoestrogens. Xenoestrogens mean that they have the ability to modulate estrogen’s activity throughout the body by binding to estrogen receptors. 

These chemicals can be found in your personal care products, make-up, plastics, receipts, and other products that touch our food and skin. These include known xenoestrogens such as parabens, BPA, phthalates and triclosan. It’s hard to avoid these chemicals completely in today’s day and age but there are some things that we can do to lessen our exposure, and chemical burden. 

This includes looking for products that are made without these ingredients, ditching plastic for glass, and avoiding the handling of paper receipts. In addition, using apps such as “Think Dirty” and “EWG” can help to identify products without these endocrine disruptors.

What Exactly Does A Hormonal Imbalance Feel Like?

You might have a combination of some of these symptoms…

  • You feel wired but tired at night
  • You feel anxious, have difficulty focusing, or feel like you have brain fog
  • You feel your mood is all over the map
  • You are losing your hair more than normal, or you start to notice clumps falling out
  • You may get food cravings for chocolate, chips, or sweets that feel difficult to manage
  • Acne along the jawline and lower cheeks
  • Rashes or hives for no reason
  • You feel constantly drained, fatigue, or that your ability to bounce back is not what it once was
  • Your back, joints, and muscles ache or joints are inflamed without an apparent cause
  • Your menstrual cycles are irregular, painful, heavy, or you’re no longer ovulating at all
  • You may be premenopausal or post-menopausal and may be suffering from hot flashes, night sweats or mood swings
  • You may wake each night, typically between 1-4am, with racing thoughts and difficulty falling back asleep
  • You feel your sex drive is non-existent, and have no desire for intercourse
  • You have been gaining weight or have difficulty losing weight even though your routine has not changed
  • Your digestive system has been out of whack, ranging from difficulty passing bowel movements to very loose stools

Did you find yourself doing a mental checklist of one, or more of these things? Then you’re in the right place. 

Have you been told that these things are “normal”, part of aging, part of being a woman, etc. but want more for your health? We want you to feel better than fine, to challenge the status quo. We want you to aim for higher health, and to feel fantastic doing it.

Some of these symptoms can be linked to other health conditions as well, we recommend speaking with your naturopathic doctor to identify the root cause of your issues.

How Can I Check For A Hormone Imbalance?

There are 3 types of hormone tests available.

  • Saliva-This hormone test kit can be delivered and done at home.
  • Blood-Requires a lab visit or we can send a lab tech to your home.
  • Urine-This hormone test kit can be delivered and done at home.


The DUTCH test is one of our favorites and stands for the Dried Urine Test for Comprehensive Hormones. It measures several different hormones, their metabolites, and certain neurotransmitters, by collecting a small amount of urine on a piece of filtered paper four times a day. 

This package is then mailed to the lab, and the results will be received by your Naturopathic Doctor in approximately 4-6 weeks. A comprehensive assessment, and tailored treatment plan will then be made by your Naturopathic Doctor to get your hormones back in synch. An individualized treatment plan may include dietary + lifestyle recommendations, supplementation, and herbs.

The main hormones measured in the test include:

  • Cortisol
  • Cortisone
  • Estradiol
  • Estrone
  • Estriol
  • Progesterone
  • Testosterone
  • DHEA
  • Melatonin

Blood test:
Many hormones including but not limited to estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA, fasting insulin, and thyroid hormones can be tested through blood tests. Some of these hormones are taken on certain days of your cycle for the most accurate results, while others can be taken at any time.

Salivary testing:
Some hormones such as cortisol can be tested via salivary testing, at different points throughout the day to assess the rate and rhythm at which your body is secreting them.

Hormone imbalances can change your life! That’s why it is important to pay attention when you start feeling different. There are many things that could be causing these hormonal changes, so don’t just assume its part of getting older.

The right diagnosis will help put everything into perspective for YOU.

From there you need a plan to addresses where your hormones are too high or too low that will include:

  • Lifestyle recommendations and expert education to help you balance your hormones as fast as possible.
  • Check in and coaching calls. We’re there as you need support and guidance. You will not be doing this alone!
  • A supplement plan focused on your hormonal health balance.
  • Possible Red Light and IV Therapy as well.
  • A custom meal plan that focuses on balancing your hormones while tasting great.

Are you ready to take control of your hormones? Book a free consultation with one of the Naturopathic Doctors at Higher Health today.



Naturopathic Doctor or a Medical Doctor?

When it comes to your health, it’s important to make sure you’re seeing the right kind of doctor. So should you try naturopathic medicine  instead of a medical doctor? Here’s what you need to know.

When people are first introduced to me, I am often asked if seeing me will replace their medical doctor.

A medical doctor’s job is primarily to fix. The medical doctor works within a system designed, above all, to triage and treat symptoms and sicknesses.

Medical doctors trained in a specialty will treat a symptom or sickness depending on their specialty’s training. That means the treatment occurs in isolation—your treatment for the most part, begins and ends with the symptom or sickness treatment.

Once a year you have your annual medical doctor appointment and you discover your cholesterol is high. Most people will leave that appointment with a prescription to help lower their cholesterol with a pharmaceutical medication.

And this is better than not addressing it at all. In an ideal situation, the time would be taken to understand the root cause of the issue and try to fix it from there.

This is a huge challenge for medical doctors working within the government health care system. They do not have the time and are doing what they can within the constraints they are working in.

Meanwhile, a naturopathic doctor’s job is primarily to care, support and optimize your health. The naturopathic doctor addresses your overall wellness. The benefit is that we look at your health through a wellness lens, helping you answer: How can I feel my best?

If someone is getting sick a lot. Naturopathically, we are interested in understanding all contributing factors to catching the cold. We ask: How often does the person get sick in a year? If frequently, we would want to build up their immune resistance. We would also address any digestive health concerns, which often correspond with a cold or flu, as well as adrenal health, which correspond to stress, sleep, hormone balance, and more.

Nutrition (including micronutrient status) and lifestyle are likewise key in any naturopathic consultation, even if you “just have a cold.”  At our clinic we would also discuss how IV drip therapy could help as well.

The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians notes, “Naturopathic doctors are educated and trained in accredited naturopathic medical colleges. They diagnose, prevent, and treat acute and chronic illness to restore and establish optimal health by supporting the person’s inherent self-healing process. Rather than just suppressing symptoms, naturopathic doctors work to identify underlying causes of illness, and develop personalized treatment plans to address them.”

The good news is we don’t have to pick one or the other!

Naturopathic medicine and conventional medicine are complementary, not mutually exclusive. They are both primary care providers. They both rely on the same science, research, and evidence-based foundation to medicine. The advantage comes from not choosing one or the other, but from having both options to support our wellness.

One of the draw backs that keep more people from seeing a naturopathic doctor is that it’s not covered by government health plans like OHIP in Ontario.

People going to a naturopathic clinic are often paying out of pocket. Fortunately, more and more insurance companies have naturopathic medicine as part of their coverage. Depending on your plan that amount can range from $500 to $2500 a year.

You would also want to check with your accountant as in some cases you can deduct health related expenses from your income tax.

What I like best about being a naturopathic doctor is that I get to really connect with my patients, spending the time needed to understand all aspects of their wellness—their main health concerns, past experiences, and overall life goals, as applied to their health.

An initial consultation lasts approximately 90 minutes, and forms the foundation of our work together. It is a health discovery session where we fully investigate all aspects of his or her health, lifestyle, and medical and family history. It’s important to investigate and understand all health concerns rather than look at them in isolation.

If you’re looking for a doctor that can help you fix an immediate issue, a medical doctor is probably your best bet. However, if you’re interested in working with someone who can care for and support your overall health, naturopathic medicine may be the right choice for you.

If you want to work with a Naturopathic doctor and cannot pay of pocket,  be sure to check with your insurance provider to see if they are accepted.

You can also book a free call with one of our team to find out more about how we can help you achieve optimal health.


Fountain of youth sign

Anti-Aging Tips

We all know that we age – but have you ever wondered what you can do to slow down the process, and to live both well and longer?  What if there were therapies and tools that existed that could drastically slow down the aging process, perhaps even reverse it. Reversing aging by removing wrinkles, helping blood vessels and skin become elastic again, and recharging our mitochondria. Intrigued?

Many people believe that we age because our bodies wear out. The theory goes that because our bodies operate 24/7, day in and day out, that eventually this causes wear and tear, degeneration of our cells throughout many organs and body parts, and inevitably death. 

The problem with this theory however, is that it is way too simple. Here is a Toronto Naturopathic Doctor’s perspective on aging and what you can do about it. 

So…What causes aging?

Aging is a natural part of being a living species, but we have come to understand that there are a lot of factors that accelerate and contribute to the aging process. The effects of aging are what most do not look forward to – frailty, immobility, wrinkles, skin damage, and the cascade of chronic and degenerative illnesses. 

While we cannot stop aging process altogether, we most certainly can seek health and vibrancy well beyond the years of what we anticipate. The idea of glowing skin, shiny hair, and a flexible strong body that is capable of what we still want to do.

Here are the top 9 common and leading causes of aging:

  • Shortening of telomeres: Telomeres are protective protein structures found at the ends of chromosomes to help prevent degradation. Shortening of telomeres is associated with aging, but we have research to suggest we can modify how quickly the telomeres actually shorten.
  • Loss of energy production from the mitochondria: One of the main roles of the mitochondria is to produce energy for our cells all throughout our body. As we age, our mitochondria becomes less efficient in producing energy for a variety of reasons. There are a lot of modifiable risk factors we can control to help keep our mitochondria healthy longer!
  • Loss of stem cells: Stem cells are extremely important to help replace lost cells due to turnover, injury and disease. However, as we age their function declines and this factor contributes to degeneration and dysfunction. It’s a fascinating area of up and coming research!
  • Accumulation of senescent cells: Think of senescent cells like “zombie-cells”. They are non-functioning cells that linger in the skin and other tissues. Although they can be protective in some instances, the accumulation of these cells has been linked to aging and preventing healthy cell turnover and repair.
  • Aggregation of proteins: This is the process of misfolded proteins, and causes the proteins to cluster affecting their ability to properly function. This is involved in aging, but also a number of neurodegenerative diseases as well. We have clean-up crews that would help clean up these misfolded proteins, but the older we become the less efficient these clean-up crews work, perhaps our environment is accelerating the amount of misfolded proteins we have, and all of a sudden our body can no longer do its job properly leading to an accumulation of these proteins.

    They have been linked to Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s and Parkinson’s disease when accumulated in the brain, slower reflexes in the nerves, heart failure in the heart, strokes when accumulated in the vessels, and decreased elasticity in the lungs.
  • Collagen Breakdown: Both the quality and quantity of collagen plays a major role in the skin’s appearance, the health of your hair and nails, as well as your joints. As we age, the body starts to produce less collagen. This can appear as the skin becoming thinner, drier, and less elastic. Targeting treatment to slow down the breakdown of collagen, and support its quality can help make you look younger again!
  • Glycation: Glycation occurs as a result of too much sugar intake, and these excess glucose (sugar) molecules link to structures like collagen and elastin in the skin. Glycation causes the skins proteins (collagen, elastin) to lose their ability to function normally. The fibers become rigid, and have a reduced ability to regenerative contributing to cracking and thinning skin.
  • Inflammation: Acute inflammation is needed to help fight against foreign invaders such as bacteria and viruses. However, chronic inflammation has become a hot topic amongst many chronic conditions we see in clinic, including accelerated aging. Chronic inflammation impairs the cells ability to heal and regenerate, it promotes inflammatory pathways and can lead to redness, irritation, sensitivity, and damage to the tissue all which affect the process of aging.
  • Oxidative Stress: Oxidative stress occurs when the amount of free radicals exceeds what are body is able to neutralize via antioxidant pathways. Free radicals are very reactive small molecules, and can damage virtually any molecule or cell in the body. Our bodies have been designed with internal antioxidants, but often due to our environment, and lifestyle it is not enough to protect our skin, mitochondria, and organs from damage. We have the ability to reduce our oxidative stress by making conscious lifestyle decisions, and also supplementing with extra antioxidants to help our body’s defense.

As you can probably guess, although a lot of these processes are a natural part of aging, what we do and what we expose ourselves to can affect the rate at which they happen. 

This is where Naturopathic medicine shines, and can address your internal physiology, lifestyle and environment, to give you the tools to help your anti-aging process.

IV Therapy and Anti-Aging

IV Therapy can be a big help with your anti-aging through two main processes:

  • By Providing a high dose of antioxidants which can have a direct anti-aging benefit

  • IV Therapy Contains several key ingredients which can act as a nutritive for cellular health, slowing down aging and promoting cellular repair. 

Let’s take a look at some of the specific anti-aging ingredients more closely.

Vitamin C : Vitamin C slows down age related telomere shortening in human skin cells. It is a cofactor for elastin and collagen production in blood vessels, tendons, ligaments, and skin. Vitamin C helps reduce oxidative damage in the body, which plays an important role in aging. Applying it topically has shown to improve skin elasticity and hydration. 

Magnesium : A deficiency in magnesium has been correlated with accelerated aging of human endothelial cells and fibroblasts (cells that help make collagen and repair the skin). Magnesium helps with cell regeneration and repair, an important component of anti-aging. 

B Vitamins : B vitamins have shown some benefit with skin aging, specifically with age spots and hyperpigmentation. Deficiencies in B vitamins can cause dry skin, acne, and wrinkles. 

NAC : N-acetyl-cysteine is a go-to nutrient for anti-aging, as it helps replenish glutathione levels in the body. Glutathione is considered the master antioxidant. By supporting the antioxidant pathway, it can help reduce aging at the cellular level.

Glutathione : Glutathione helps reduce oxidative damage to brain cells associated with aging. Its detoxification action improves the health of cells helping to slow the process of cell aging. Glutathione helps protect the skin from damage that can cause wrinkles and has shown to improve skin elasticity. 

MSM : MSM helps reduce inflammation which is associated with cellular damage and can cause premature aging. It has shown to reduce visual signs of aging such as wrinkles. MSM plays a role in collagen production and works well when taken alongside vitamin C.

Carnitine : Acetyl-l-carnitine has shown to protect cells in the body from age-related degeneration. Research demonstrates its effects on the brain, where it improves memory, cognition, and mood. Carnitine supports the function of our mitochondria which often declines throughout the aging process.

Lifestyle Modifications and Anti-Aging
Here is a list of things you can start doing today to help with your new anti-aging regiment. 

#1. Don’t smoke, or quit smoking. The chemicals used in making both cigarettes and smoking alternatives such as vaping  damages our cellular DNA, and accelerates the aging process.

#2. Intermittent fasting can help turn on longevity genes. This doesn’t mean skipping meals, or under-eating, but it does include time restricted eating (typically a 8-10 hour eating window) which gives our body time to repair and regenerate instead of using its energy to consistently digest and breakdown food. Make sure to talk with your Naturopathic Doctor first before starting intermittent fasting.

#3. The food we eat and use to fuel our bodies is crucial. A diet rich in healthy fats, anti-oxidants, can help activate our longevity genes, battled oxidative stress and inflammation, and slow down the aging process. This also goes to say that minimizing/avoiding processed foods and refined sugar can also help us achieve the extended vibrant health we seek.

#4. Prioritize a good night’s sleep. Sleep is the time for which our body takes to restore and repair itself. Lacking quantity and quality sleep can severely impact the rate at which we age. If sleep is something you’re struggling with, our team of Naturopathic Doctors can help figure out the root cause, so that you can wake feeling rested and refreshed.

Although we can’t prevent aging altogether, there are lots of tools we have to slow down the aging process. Have you considered adding in IV therapy as part of your anti-aging tool box? We encourage you to book a free consultation with one of our Toronto Naturopathic Doctors at Higher Health to how IV therapy may be beneficial for you.