What Are The Causes of Estrogen Dominance?

The post What Are The Causes of Estrogen Dominance? appeared first on Annex Naturopathic Clinic.

The Causes of Estrogen Dominance | Annex Naturopathic Clinic Toronto Naturopath

Our last article outlined what estrogen dominance is, and how liver health plays a role in estrogen metabolism and estrogen dominance.

There are a number of other causes for estrogen dominance – many of which are influenced by your day to day lifestyle.

It may be surprising to you to find out that many daily exposures can increase your chance of developing estrogen dominance.

Inflammation

Inflammation is the worst.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals

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

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

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

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

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

Estrogen Dominance Hormonal Imbalance | Annex Naturopathic Clinic Toronto Naturopath

Progesterone Imbalance

This hormone is an important factor in estrogen dominance.

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

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

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

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

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

If you’re curious to learn more about this subject or would like to consult with Dr. Marnie Luck ND feel free to book a visit or contact us.

Book Online

Yours in Health,

Dr. Marnie Luck, N.D

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


References

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

Source: Annex

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

The post Estrogen Dominance: The Hormone Imbalance You’re Told You Don’t Have appeared first on Annex Naturopathic Clinic.

Hormone Imbalance & Estrogen Dominance | Annex Naturopathic Clinic Toronto

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

Hormone imbalances are a complicated thing though.

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

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

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

What is Estrogen Dominance?

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

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

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

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

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

Signs and Symptoms of Estrogen Dominance

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

The typical symptoms of estrogen dominance include:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hormone Imbalance & Hormone Tests | Annex Naturopathic Clinic Toronto

Associated Symptoms

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What causes estrogen dominance?

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

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

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

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

Today we will focus on liver detoxification.

Estrogen and liver detoxification

Estrogen is activated and then detoxified by the liver.

Liver detoxification occurs in phases.

Phase 1 Liver Detoxification

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Phase 2 Liver Detoxification

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you’re curious to learn more about this subject or would like to consult with Dr. Marnie Luck ND feel free to book a visit or contact us.

Book Online

Yours in Health,

Dr. Marnie Luck, N.D

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


References

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Annex

Botanical of the Month – Red Clover (Trifolium Pratense)

The post Botanical of the Month – Red Clover (Trifolium Pratense) appeared first on Annex Naturopathic Clinic.

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

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

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

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

We’re seeing Red Clover (Trifolium pratenseeverywhere!

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

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

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

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

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

Parts Used: Flowers heads

Uses for Red Clover

Edibility

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

It can also be enjoyed as a sweet tea.

Medicine

Red clover exerts its actions best in females and children.

Detoxification and lymphatic drainage

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s also great for single swollen lymph nodes

Women’s health

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Forms

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

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

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

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

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

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

Caution

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

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

Yours in Health,

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


Source: Annex

Does Gluten Deserve its Bad Reputation?

The post Does Gluten Deserve its Bad Reputation? appeared first on Annex Naturopathic Clinic.

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

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

Is it good for me?”

“Is it bad for me?”

The infamous protein explained.

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

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

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

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

What is gluten?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What should you do?

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

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

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

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

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

Yours in Health,

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


Source: Annex

Could You Be Gluten Sensitive Without Celiac Disease?

The post Could You Be Gluten Sensitive Without Celiac Disease? appeared first on Annex Naturopathic Clinic.

Gluten sensitive | Annex-Naturopathic-Clinic-Toronto-Naturopathic-Doctor-in-the-Annex

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is gluten?

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

What is celiac disease?

Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition.

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

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

Why does celiac disease happen?

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

How is celiac disease diagnosed?

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

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

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

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

What is non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS)?

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

Why does NCGS happen?

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

How is NCGS diagnosed?

NCGS is a diagnosis of exclusion.

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

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

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

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


Source: Annex

Top 5 Tips To Stay Healthy In The Summer Heat

The post Top 5 Tips To Stay Healthy In The Summer Heat appeared first on Annex Naturopathic Clinic.

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

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

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

1. Continue to supplement with vitamin D

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

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

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

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

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

2. Get lot’s of vitamin “N”

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

Time spent in natural settings:

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

3. Hydrate with water

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

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

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

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

4. Take advantage of the local harvest

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

Bite into summer by purchasing local food at:

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

5. Take it easy

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

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

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

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

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

Yours in Health,

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


Source: Annex

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

The post 6 Ways To Improve Your Liver’s Function For Better Living appeared first on Annex Naturopathic Clinic.

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

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

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

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

What Does The Liver Do?

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

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

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

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

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

How Does An Unhealthy Liver Impact Me?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Lemon water

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

  2. B vitamins

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

  3. Dark Leafy Greens

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

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

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

  4. Castor oil packs

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

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

  5. Herbal medicine

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

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

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

  6. Eat and Be Clean

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yours in Health,

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


Source: Annex

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

The post Get your Vitamin D this Summer to Keep Colds and Flus Away in the Fall and Winter appeared first on Annex Naturopathic Clinic.

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

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

What Is Vitamin D?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How Much Vitamin D Should You Take?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other Sources Of Vitamin D

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

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

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

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

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

Yours in Health

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


References:

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

 

Source: Annex

Top 5 Ways To Improve Your Sleep Quality

The post Top 5 Ways To Improve Your Sleep Quality appeared first on Annex Naturopathic Clinic.

Improve your sleep | Annex-Naturopathic-Clinic-Toronto-Naturopathic-Doctor-in-the-Annex

Are you getting enough sleep?

We’ve all felt the effects of poor sleep- fatigue, decreased cognitive function, craving for carbohydrate foods and caffeine, low motivation and mood.

Let’s face it- everything’s compromised when we are not sufficiently rested.

Most often, it’s the small lifestyle changes that improve your sleep the most.

As naturopaths, the following are our top five recommended ways to help our patients increase the quality of their sleep.

Top 5 Ways to Improve the Quality and Quantity of Your Sleep

1. Maintain a consistent wake-up and bedtime.

We can help establish a regular circadian rhythm by encouraging a healthy cortisol pattern. When our body is used to winding down at the same time each night our cortisol level drops appropriately. When we rise from bed at the same time each morning our cortisol level spikes to give us energy.

2. Eliminate the use of electronics (mainly anything with a screen) for 1-2 hours before falling asleep.

Many people spend their hours before bed doing work on their laptops, watching Netflix or catching up on social media on their smartphones. These activities can be very stimulating to the brain (and it’s stress response). While at the same time, the blue lights coming from the screens themselves decrease the secretion of melatonin which is essential for restorative sleep.

Improve your sleep | Annex-Naturopathic-Clinic-Toronto-Naturopathic-Doctor-in-the-Annex

3. If possible, make your bedroom and electronic free zone.

About 8 hours of your day, or 1/3 of your life, is spent sleeping. The time you spend asleep (where there isn’t any need for gadgets) is a great time to reduce exposure to electromagnetic fields- the frequencies/signals that are emitted by our electronics. Additionally, you won’t have to lay beside a phone lighting up, buzzing or beeping with notifications.

4. Buy an old school alarm clock.

To respond a common rebuttal for the last point – “but my phone is my alarm clock” – you can buy a good old simple alarm clock to wake you at a consistent time everyday. Furthermore, if you wake up to check the time- you’re not checking it on your phone where you may be tempted to check your notifications.

5. Write out what’s on your mind.

Going to bed anxious and cycling through lists of things to do and open loops in your mind can undoubtedly reduce sleep quality and quantity. Getting what’s in your head out on paper allows you to rest assured that you won’t forget anything and you can look at it the next day when it is a more appropriate time to take action.

Although these recommendations are simple, creating new habits requires time and perseverance. The rewards of these habits, waking up refreshed and having improved health, are worth the effort!

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

Yours in Health

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


Source: Annex

Weekly Organic Food Baskets at Annex Naturopathic

WeeklyOrganicBaskets_CSA_OrganicProduce

“Let food be thy medicine, and Medicine be thy food”
-Hippocrates

Although naturopathic treatments can get fancy (I’m talking herbal tinctures, high dose vitamins, B12 injections, bioidentical hormones and acupuncture protocols- just to name a few), the foundation of care is ALWAYS healthy diet and lifestyle. This is why I’m so excited to be collaborating with an amazing organic farm located just outside the city.

This year I’ve paired up with Clearwater Farms in Georgina and my Annex clinic space is will be a neighbourhood hub for their weekly food basket program from June to November.  ClearWater Farms’ food production supports their mission to enhance experiential learning through school and camp-based youth-focused programs. Their vegetables are just beautiful – delicious, nutritious and grown using organic and regenerative practices that showcase the creative potential of sustainable agriculture. You’ll deal directly with them on the order and then come on over to my Annex clinic to pick it up each week.

Local organic food tastes better- and it’s better for you and the environment.

What: “Organic Local Food Basket” that comes directly from the farm!
Where: Annex Naturopathic Clinic – Bloor and Bathurst (572 Bloor St. West suite 201).
When: Every Wednesday.
What time: Pick-up between 3pm and 7pm.
Price: $25- $40 per week (depending on size).
How to order: Head on over to CLEARWATER FARMS’ WEBSITE.

Don’t forget the “Marnie discount” when you order. Enter in “EBIRD10” to get 10% off. Clearwater Farms has other pick-up locations in Toronto- see where is most convenient for you!

Here’s to health and good food!