Category Archives: Healthy Expressions!

The Art of Detoxification by Dr. Melissa Lee ND

The Art of Detox (1)In our modern world our food has become refined and processed.  We tend to over consume these foods because they are simple, easy, cheap, tasty and addictive. When we combine bad quality food with a lack of physical activity we feel sluggish, fatigued, moody, sad and bloated.

Every year, how many of us are sick of this feeling and attracted to the concept of detoxification? How many of us have taken part in a detoxification kit and felt fantastic or even worse?  How many of us feel “clean” after a one week de-tox? In this article, we will explore the concept of detoxification, the best way to approach a detoxification routine and absolute no no’s in a detoxification program.

The Art of Detox (2)Throughout history various cultures and religions have documented the practice and significance of cleansing.  Fasting for example has been noted in the Bible, Pagan writings, the Koran, and writings of the ancient Greeks, where it (on water and spring greens) often occurred in the spring time when winter supplies ran low. As the concept of fasting evolved, it also became about health hygiene practices. These included: exposure to sunshine and clean air, drinking clean water, eating a vegetarian diet, moving through exercise, emotional balance and rest.

Today the contemporary concept of detoxification can mean multiple things. Two major terms that come to mind with respect to de-toxing is: fasting and cleansing; what do these mean for us?

  • Fasting is about slowing down normal digestive processes. By minimizing food intake, we reduce the physiological stress of over consuming rich foods allowing our bodies to rest. Sometimes this includes drinking various juices or teas to mildly stimulate our liver, kidney and colon. During a fast we often experience a decrease in body weight, decreased blood pressure and decrease pulse. Our Metabolism (BMR) will also decrease until the body stabilizes at 75% of our original BMR. Fasting should be done under guided supervision by a healthcare practitioner.
  • Cleansing involves active purging of toxins and residues from the body which have accumulated from toxic foods, toxic emotions, and toxic water. You may be familiar with the concept cleansing as it is often viewed as a 1-2 week protocol that involves violent elimination. The main concern with this current concept is it does not consider the normal and individualized circadian rhythms of our body and physiology; and violent expulsion of our elimination products isn’t the most therapeutic.

After a long traditional Canadian winter, how do we safely and therapeutically detoxify our bodies? Do we “cleanse” or “fast”? Your answer is neither. Think about detoxification as neither restricting nor purging the body; but about bringing each organ system back to balance and regulating the elimination processes. As you start to clean up the diet and remove processed foods, your organs “wake up” and function more efficiently. As a result the body will start to detoxify naturally and gently. Two things you need to consider when detoxing is:

  • Detoxification of the whole body does not take 1 or 2 weeks, it takes longer.
  • Food is your medicine. Through using various foods to detoxify and adopting a good foundation of nutrient dense foods, your body will cleanse naturally, gently and on an ongoing basis.

Starting to Detoxify

A detoxification plan can be done using simple health hygiene practices. You don’t necessarily need to get fancy with detox kits. To start a detoxification for yourself, keep three things in mind:

  1. High Quality Nutrient Dense food
  2. Great rest
  3. Great elimination

High Quality Nutrient Dense Food

 Whole foods will now be a big part of your diet. Whole foods meaning: “foods that has been processed or refined as little as possible and is free from additives or other artificial substances.”  Whole foods can be a big category, so start with this simple tip: consume unlimited vegetables and fruits.  Begin with 3 cups of vegetables and 2 cups of fruit per day and work up from there, focusing more on the vegetable intake. The more dark greens, reds, blues, purples and oranges you add into the diet the more antioxidants, vitamins and minerals you consume.  Include vegetables like: collard greens, kale, spinach, bok choy, endive, rapini, asparagus, artichokes, beets, carrots, parsley, lemons, squash, onions, garlic, leeks, mixed greens, watercress. Focus on your dark fruits like blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, pineapple or papaya.

Great Rest

Sleep is crucial for our body to rest and recharge. The basic role of sleep as we know is restoration, growth in children, development of the brain, and memory processing.  Recent research has shown that sleep is also responsible for detoxification of the brain. In a recent study published by Science Translational Medicine, researchers demonstrated that during sleep our brain cells change structure. Specifically the glial cells shrink by 60%, allowing the interstitial space between cells to increase. As this happens, the lymphatic system of the brain (aka. glymphatic system) mobilizes and flushes out neurotoxic waste products that have accumulated over the day. How amazing is that?  If you have trouble sleeping, it may be wise to seek guidance from a Naturopathic Doctor. Tip: as part of your bedtime routine drink a warm cup of chamomile tea, lemon balm tea or passion flower tea.

Great Elimination

Pooping, peeing and sweating are important ways to excrete toxins from food, drink, and environmental products.

Pooping: How many of us feel great after a good poo? Ideally we want to have two bowel movements per day which are well-formed. Tip: add more fibre to the diet through adding water soluble and water insoluble fibres (ex. all types of fruits, all types of vegetables, flax seeds, chia seeds, prunes,).  Drinking water is also very important in helping to soften the stools allowing for easier elimination. Tip: make sure as you increase your fibre intake, you increase your water intake.

Peeing: Drinking water helps your kidneys do their job by eliminating water soluble toxins. On average males need to consume about 3 liters of water per day and females need to consume around 2.2 litres of water per day.  This amount can vary depending on our diet, our physical activity and our health, but ask yourself: are you consuming these amounts of water?   If you aren’t coming close to these amounts you may be dehydrated.  Tip: use the colour of your pee as an indicator of your hydration status: the lighter the yellow the better.

Sweating: Your skin is the largest elimination organ, so sweating is a great way to detoxify through your pores.  The best way to sweat is to have a good work out. Tip: three times per week, go for a brisk walk, yoga, the gym, and work up a good heart rate and a good sweat.  These workouts can be limited to 20-30 minutes.

Absolute No No’s when detoxifying:

  1. Do not detoxify during the winter seasons or extreme cold weather. An extended fast or detoxification can be harmful in cold weather.
  2. Do not detoxify during serious physical or mental degeneration.  Detoxification requires energy!
  3. Do not detoxify if one is starving or deprived of proper nutrition. Detoxification will not happen unless certain vitamins, minerals, nutrients and enzymes are present.
  4. Do not detoxify during pregnancy or lactation. Its beneficial to nourish one’s body during these times

Remember: slower, milder “cleanses” with selected whole foods can bring about remarkable healing.

For more information on an in depth detoxification or supervised detoxifications contact Dr. Lee at the Insight Naturopathic Clinic – 550 Eglinton Ave E- Toronto, ON 416-322-9980 |  www.insightnaturopathic.com | www.santehealth.ca

=Respectfully submitted by Dr. Melissa Lee.

Melissa is a dedicated Naturopathic Doctor who Melissa is a dedicated Naturopathic Doctor who is passionate about health. She focuses on understanding people, illness patterns and disease, allowing her and her patients to identify areas of the body that need support. By actively listening and individualizing treatments, she helps people understand their health and addresses the root cause of a condition. As a regular speaker, Melissa loves engaging the community about various health topics and is keen to share her knowledge and the latest scientific research. Melissa welcomes all patients to her family practice, but has special interest in Women’s Health, Sports Medicine, Pain Management, and Digestive Health. Melissa is also member of the Board of Directors of Drugless Therapies- Naturopathic, the Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors and Naturopathic Doctors Ontario. is passionate about health. She focuses on understanding people, illness patterns and disease, allowing her and her patients to identify areas of the body that need support. By actively listening and individualizing treatments, she helps people understand their health and addresses the root cause of a condition. As a regular speaker, Melissa loves engaging the community about various health topics and is keen to share her knowledge and the latest scientific research. Melissa welcomes all patients to her family practice, but has special interest in Women’s Health, Sports Medicine, Pain Management, and Digestive Health. Melissa is also member of the Board of Directors of Drugless Therapies- Naturopathic, the Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors and Naturopathic Doctors Ontario.

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Eating Healthy on the Cheap: Your Guide to Affordable Healthy Eating for the New Year!

Eating Healthy on the Cheap:

Your Guide to Affordable Healthy Eating for the New Year

By: Dr. Melissa Lee BSc. ND.

Looking back at 2013 there were a lot of changes made within the Whole Foods Movement.  Events like Monsanto’s seed patents created a thirst for understanding genetically modified foods and sustainable farming practices.  An increasing incidence of Boomer diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease led this demographic to take control of their lives with a focus on preventative health measures.  Finally corporate restaurants and fast food chains start to have gluten free menus. We as a population are now curious of what we put into our bodies and we want more for our health.

The major food trends of 2013 had people trying various “whole foods” diets and lifestyles such as gluten free, veganism, Paleolithic, organic and non-GMO. However, these trends have led to a mass production of processed foods catered to these diets. For example gluten free brown rice chips are usually doused in a concoction of flavorings which contain items like: sodium diacetate, hydrolysed soy and/or corn protein, sodium acetate, autolysed yeast extract, citric acid, disodium inosinate and disodium guanylate, silicon dioxide and calcium stearate. Vegan cheddar cheese formulated to contain “natural vegan flavors,” xanthum gums, annatoo, carrageenan, titanium dioxide or vegan enzymes.  Don’t forget the cupcake madness where gluten free cupcakes are presented with an impressive tower of icing.

The concept of “whole food” has become an expensive way of living where chips, cakes and cookies are substituted with its “­­­­­­_______- free” alternative. So let’s clarify: chips are chips and a cupcake is still a cupcake despite it being gluten free, dairy free, or vegan.  Moving along to 2014, let’s refine and remind ourselves the definition of whole foods:

Food that has been processed or refined as little as possible and is free from additives or other artificial substances”

When you choose foods in this manner, healthy eating becomes affordable.  Here are some tips for affordable healthy eating in 2014:

  1. Rice and Beans Baby!

Rice (jasmine, basmati, long grain, Arborio, brown, wild) and beans (lentils, chickpeas, mung beans, adzuki beans, split peas) are a great affordable staple food to add to the diet. By choosing the “heartier” varieties of these plants (as listed), you can add a good amount of plant based protein and a lot of fiber to the diet.  Increasing these foods will help regulate bowel movements, substitute meat proteins, and lowers unhealthy cholesterol levels in body.   Tip: venture into Indian and African cuisine for food ideas and inspiration.  Tip: cook a large batch of dried beans and store them in the freezer.  Use this instead of canned beans.

  1. Where to shop?

 Farmers markets are a fantastic place to find locally grown and seasonally appropriate affordable vegetables.  In the winter time you are looking for warming and hearty vegetables like: beets, cabbage, carrots, ginger, garlic, leeks, onions, parsnips, potatoes, rutabaga, dark leafy greens, sprouts and squash (acorn, pepper, spaghetti, buttercup, butternut, hubbard).  Tip: In the winter season, prepare these vegetables in a quick manner by roasting, steaming, or making a crock pot soup.

Along the perimeter of a grocery store you will find your basic whole foods: vegetables, fruits, meats, fish, poultry, and dairy/dairy alternatives.  You’d be surprised how quickly you can get your grocery shopping done without going in the middle isles.  Tip: use the time you save grocery shopping to plan meals.

  1. Spice it up:

Ketchup: a person’s best friend when it comes to bland food but it doesn’t necessarily make it into the whole food list now does it? Try using spices to flavor your foods and expand your taste buds.  Cumin, turmeric, basil, cinnamon, cardamom, oregano, parsley, sea salt, garlic, ginger, paprika, all taste fantastic and have digestive, anticancer, anti-inflammatory, circulatory and antioxidant properties.

  1. Time and preparation

Healthy eating may take a little time to learn, but you will learn. Give yourself permission and patience to learn at your own pace.  Tip: start with a prep day. For example my prep day is Monday where I plan meals, chop vegetables for the week, make nut and seed mixtures, make snack packs and essentially set the week up for a grab and go lifestyle. This may be a Saturday or Sunday for you. When I first started this preparation it took me 4 hours and now it takes me 1 hour.  Be confident that you will find your cadence in food preparation and cooking.

Eating whole foods is very rewarding and you will benefit physically, mentally and emotional. Remember:

Whole Foods:Food that has been processed or refined as little as possible and is free from additives or other artificial substances.”

Happy Healthy Eating for 2014

In Health,

Melissa Lee BSc. ND-Insight Naturopathic Clinic – 550 Eglinton Ave E, Toronto, ON

416-322-9980 |  www.insightnaturopathic.com | www.santehealth.ca

 

Mindful Eating for the Holidays

Mindful Eating for the Holidays

By: Melissa Lee BSc. ND.

It’s that time of year again!  The Carolers, the Christmas Markets, Mistletoe’s and delicious almond milk hot chocolate… Personally, the holiday season gets more exciting as a real winter kicks in with giant snowflakes and a perfect crisp in the air.

Despite these special moments, the holiday season has generally become an overindulgent one.  We find ourselves consumed with buying the best gift, spending a lot of money on the best dinner and spirits, or eating as much as we want and whatever we want.  Particularly, food around the holidays can be quite stressful for some people physically and mentally.  From a health standpoint, overeating and eating processed/refined foods can aggravate the digestive system and cause systemic inflammation.  Depending on one’s body the result could be bloating, diarrhea, constipation, weight gain, skin rashes, and the stress of self deprecating thoughts. Often times we find ourselves in a variety of scenarios leading us to overeat:

Scenario 1:

The holiday season has already started and just around the corner is the start of the marathon: family and friend dinners, work potlucks, and company Christmas parties.  You love going to all these events, but do you really want to feel bloated, uncomfortable and constipated for the next couple of days?  Suddenly you find yourself with your second helping of a delicious shortbread cookie in one hand and your third glass of red wine in the other.  It’s the holidays! Might as well enjoy right?

Scenario 2:

The holiday season has already started and just around the corner is the mad stress of buying presents and the anticipation of “disagreeable” relatives. You have to buy presents for person A, B, C, D, E, F, G,…Z.  You have to cook this dish and clean this specific way.  Oh no! You’re going to have to see that mother in law! Suddenly you find yourself with your second helping of a delicious shortbread cookie in one hand and your third glass of red wine in the other.  It’s the holidays! You need a drink!

Scenario 3:

The holiday season has already started and just around the corner is the start of the marathon of family and friend dinners, work potlucks, and company Christmas parties.  You are worried because you have been eating really well, you have lost weight and you are making a conscious effort to NOT eat any processed foods and desserts. Food is a struggle for you. Suddenly you find yourself with your second helping of a delicious shortbread cookie in one hand and your third glass of red wine in the other.  It’s the holidays! You feel a social pressure to eat and you are afraid of gaining weight.

The various scenarios can continue on and whether food anxiety is because of a stress response, social pressure, or an unhealthy relationship with food, there is one of many things that can help you: Mindfulness.  Mindfulness is about building and focusing on awareness of the body through paying attention to your thoughts and feelings (without a judgment statement).  Incorporating mindfulness in your eating practices will have a dramatic effect on decreasing symptoms of stress and overall improve your holiday experience.

So How Do We Mindfully Eat During the Holidays?

Mindful eating is about paying attention to the experience of drinking and eating.

For example, imagine you are in a far off land where food is known to be fantastic – let’s say Italy.  You find yourself with a few friends or a loved one at a restaurant overlooking a bright blue sea.  You are so relaxed that your senses are heightened to your surroundings. As your plate of pasta arrives, you suddenly find yourself curious: What do you smell? Is your mouth starting to salivate? What are the colours of the food presented to you? As you lift your fork for your first bite of Authentic Pasta, you hear only joy and laughter in the background which reminds of you of your childhood holiday dinners. You smell your pasta and take the first bite. Curiosity provokes you: What are the textures that you feel in your mouth? What are the flavours that you taste? And suddenly you chew your food ever so slowly to savor every bite hoping to deconstruct the flavours.  After swallowing you pause in appreciation: How do you feel? How does your stomach feel?

This is an example of mindful eating.  In the holiday context, sometimes this can be difficult in a loud and boisterous environment, so here are 5 tips for you to eat mindfully during the holidays:

1.     Identify Hunger

Are we hungry or are we thirsty? On average males need to consume about 3 liters of water per day and females need to consume around 2.2 litres of water per day.  This amount can vary depending on our diet, our physical activity and our health, but ask yourself: are you consuming these amounts of water?   If you aren’t coming close to these amounts you may be dehydrated.  A sign of dehydration is hunger.  So if you are hungry drink some water or a hot tea and observe your body’s response.

2.     Chew your food

Our saliva contains digestive enzymes like linguinal lipase and salivary amylase.  When we chew these enzymes start to breakdown food. This breakdown does two things: (1) stimulates our stomach to release more hydrochloric acid in anticipation of the food coming its way and (2) it signals our brain to release hormones which gives us a sense of how full we are.  By chewing your food 15- 20 times per bite, your brain will be able to process the signals that your stomach receptors send to the brain.  This eating practice allows you to feel how full you are so that you can eat until you are 80% full.

3.      Sit down to Eat

You weren’t made to eat on the run so make an effort to sit down and eat!  In the midst of running errands, getting dinners ready, cleaning the house, or meeting deadlines at work, give yourself time and permission to sit and eat.  Sitting will help activate that parasympathetic nervous system: your rest and digest phase, which further improves the digestive process.  If this is hard to do at every meal, then pick one meal at a time to sit down at and gradually increase the amount of meals you sit and eat.

4.     No multitasking at meals

Eat in silence for the first 5 minutes of your meal as a family practice or self practice.  This will build your awareness to your surroundings rather than being distracted by a television, a book, or a computer.

5.     Stress management: Breathe!

Stress can be a big trigger for grabbing a piece of chocolate, cookies, or bag of chips. When you feel the stress response come, take a moment to breathe.  All you need is two minutes! Two minutes!  Focus on breathing into the lower belly to activate a calming response.  Here is an example of a breathing exercise you can do.

When you catch yourself in the stress response, pause and don’t reach for that snack.   Then:

i.     Find a comfortable place to sit or lie down.  Place one hand on your abdomen and the other hand on your chest.
ii.    Gently exhale the air in your lungs through your mouth.
iii.   Inhale slowly through your nose pushing out your abdomen slightly and concentrating on your breath (4 counts)
iv.   Hold for 4 counts
v.    Slowly exhale through the mouth and gently contract your abdominal muscles to completely release the remaining air in the lungs (8 counts).
vi.Repeat this until you feel the stress response calm down.

Eating doesn’t have to be stressful.  It can be fun and nourishing with a little bit of mindfulness. I wish you all the best during the Holiday Season! If you have any questions come visit me at the Waterdown Clinic of Naturopathic Medicine.

In Health,

Dr. Melissa Lee ND

Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine

Insight Naturopathic Clinic – 550 Eglinton Ave E – Toronto, ON  – 416-322-9980

www.insightnaturopathic.com | www.santehealth.ca

We thank Dr. Lee for her article. We hope our readers find some great advice and decide to take it.  Enjoy your holiday season.

Warm Holiday thoughts

Karen Aquino
Go Cooking Coordinator

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