Millions of Canadians take gastric reflux medication and now there is a report of how these medications are linked to illness and other health risks. Dr. Laura Imola addresses the concern of prolonged use of pharmaceuticals for common health concerns, the inevitable risks and the ability to resolve health concerns without them.Read More
How is self care, sleep and that nagging pain in the neck all connected? Dr. Nicholas Slowinski is part of our team of Chiropractors who believes in thinking more broadly about health for the good of his patients. Read on to discover Dr. Slowinski’s call to action for everyone seeking more optimal health, and to learn more about how he connects the dots between self care and musculoskeletal health.Read More
By WIN Contributor: Shauna Pierrynowski, PTA, RNCP
As Dr. Nick wrote in his last blog post that most people give up on their healthy new year resolutions within the first fifteen days of making them… Being that it’s January 17th…I’m here to check in to see how your doing with sticking to your goals. Are you making them Stick or have they taken a Slide?
If you are starting to feel that Sticking to your big health goals is starting to Slide… I propose this…
How about setting tiny monthly goals so you can achieve them?
As I sit here to write this blog post for WIN Health Solutions I myself find that I also get stuck thinking about healthy changes. My mind wonders on the endless possibility of what I can change positively in my personal and professional life.
Should it be a goal about health (physical, mental, the whole package)? What about finances? Maybe I should give back to the community? Or maybe just take care of my wellbeing?
Whatever the resolution or goals are, here are some helpful tips on how to keep it small, keep it smart and actually achieve these goals.
SMART Goal Setting 101
S – SPECIFIC these goals address the what, why and how.
M – MEASURABLE this is the part where your goal is concrete and observable.
A – ATTAINABLE this is made up of small goals or changes that are under your control – example you want to lose 20lbs let’s start with eating less CRAP (Carbs, Refined sugar, Artificial, Processed foods) and eat more FOOD (fruits/veggies, organic lean protein, omega 3s, drink water)
R – REWARDING don’t go and set a goal that will make you angry, try small steps like instead of eating chips every night while watching t.v switch it to 5 nights of popcorn rather than the chips and keep going from there replacing the last item with something healthier.
T – TIME BOUND putting an end date or point on a goal will give you’re a clear and concrete target to achieve.
I hope you find these simple goal setting ideas helpful in whatever it is that you choose to change in your life. If you need more guidance, a specific plan and individualized support, visit with one of our team members at WIN Health Solutions Niagara and they can help you Stick to your health goals so that this year brings you more health and happiness!
By WIN Contributor; Dr. Laura Imola, Naturopathic Doctor
I was recently asked* by "Rewire Me" to write an article for their readers that focused on personal transformation which drew from my years of work and life experience. I wrote on a topic that was near and dear to me: how the path toward optimal health, including my own, is not linear.
What does this all mean...not linear? It's really quite simple... think of a zig zag... think... two steps forward, one step back... think the winding path to the top of a mountain.
My hope in sharing my story is that more people are inspired to keep working on getting to their truest and best expression of health. When the going gets tough, to remember to not give up.
If you want to hear my own zig zaggy, back and forth, fall down nine times stand up ten, story about the journey of health... keep reading...
The Winding Path for the Naturopath
For those who know me, many would find it hard to believe that at one time in my life I hated vegetables. It would be especially surprising to know that I had an equally strong aversion to exercise of any kind. It is true that into my early adulthood, I seldom ate my greens, I cursed the thought of physical activity and my passion was sugar. This would be hard to imagine now, since my passion in life is to not only educate others about how to be proactively healthy and prevent illness, but to also live this way.
It wasn’t always like this, and I had a moment in my early adulthood when I realized that my self care had to change. Back then, I felt like an old lady trapped in a young person’s body.
Though I struggled with constant fatigue, I couldn’t fall asleep at night. I was plagued with frequent infections, regular headaches, felt rusty in the mornings and my hair was falling out. I felt unwell, but I just accepted this was normal for me. Deep down inside, I knew my body was breaking down, and I needed to make a change.
There is a tremendous amount of health research linking poor nutrition and lifestyle habits to the rampant chronic illness rates in North America. In addition, over recent years we are seeing more studies, such as the one published in the journal Circulation in 2013, that links sedentary lifestyles and poor nutrition in teens to an increased risk of developing heart disease in their forties.
Some people may think I just jumped right into a healthy lifestyle and kept on going. I wish that was the way it happened but for me, like most people, I found that the journey of health was not linear. I see many people stuck in a state of mediocre health who start out with great energy to revolutionize their lives. But as they face challenges or are put outside their comfort zone, their enthusiasm can fizzle out.
"When we are not aware of the fact that the gift of health is earned over time, it is easy to become discouraged and discontinue our efforts."
The path towards our best expression of health is a zig-zaggy, up and down, steps forward and steps back kind of path. When we are not aware of the fact that the gift of health is earned over time, it is easy to become discouraged and discontinue our efforts. It is important to remember that there is substantial growth, self-awareness, realizations and time required to transform our health.
"Starting out by making small changes counts just as much as the big jumps into a health kick."
Wading through the healthy options, trying them on, failing sometimes, making mistakes and experiencing the big wins are all rolled into this journey. Some things we may enjoy, and other things we may not.
This is completely normal.
It’s part of the process.
In today’s age of perfectionism and instant gratification, this can be incredibly challenging to accept at times. Sadly, these two factors often hold people back from making progress and reaching their goals. However, letting go of expectations while walking this uneven road frees the way to higher ground.
Starting out by making small changes counts just as much as the big jumps into a health kick. When we take these steps to do good things for our mind, body and soul, the net result is always positive. It may at times be a climb but the view from the top is worth it.
*Acknowledgment: Many thanks to Kaitlin Vogel and the team at Rewire Me for the opportunity to contribute to their great site! You can see the published article for Rewire Me here.
By WIN Contributor: Dr. Laura Imola, Naturopathic Doctor
Are you a honing your immune super-strength yet for the winter? Do you have a little superhero at home that needs to develop their cold and flu busting potential? This is the time to put our germ fighting super-suits on and boldly trek forward into the cold and flu season.
Right now, I'm dusting off my immune boosting gear for myself and my kids. And because I believe that everyone has a superhero inside waiting to be discovered, I'm sharing how to make your immune system faster than a speeding bullet.
FIVE FAST IMMUNE BOOSTING GERM BUSTERS
1) Drink Plenty of Water - Keeping yourself, and especially your kids, hydrated with pure fluids is essential to a healthy immune system and respiratory tract. Limit or avoid drinks such as coffee, pop, fruit juice and alcohol to significantly improve immune response.
2) Wash Your Hands - Good old fashion soap and water when washing hands was prevents the transmission of germs. Hand washing with soap isn't just for bathroom breaks. Remember this before preparing meals, eating, after time spent in a public place (germs live on handrails, table tops, other surfaces and toys) and if you're under the weather (blowing your nose, sneezing or coughing frequently) or tending to a loved one who is.
3) Eat Well - Consuming a variety of plant foods, especially dark green vegetables and brightly coloured vegetables and fruit, boosts your defences. The pigments that create these deep and vibrant colours contain antioxidants, which provide a super charge to the immune system.
4) More Specifically... Ditch Sugar - Consuming sugary beverages or foods can stifle immune cell activity. This means less "BOOM," "KAPOW," "SMASH" when they go after the bad guys.
5) Regular Sleep - Even superheros need their rest. It's great to want to save the world and all, but getting a good sleep every night will fortify your immune system.
So whether it's Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Spidey or one of the X-Men that you envision for your super-fantastic immune system, keep these Five Fast tips in mind for your best defence.
Looking for extra "Super" support for you or your little ones during the cold and flu season? Meet with me for a Naturopathic visit and we'll go through the most effective natural cold and flu options so you have everything you need to find your superhero strengths within. I share the best of what I've seen work, and use in my own life on a daily basis, to help you take your health to the next (Super*) level.
Click Below For An Epic Victory This Cold & Flu Season
*Sorry for that last "Super"... I couldn't resist! ;)
By WIN Contributor: Dr. Laura Imola, Naturopathic Doctor Niagara Falls
I have an eclectic approach and use a variety of therapeutics in my Niagara Falls Naturopathic practice to help optimize the health of my patients. However, I have been committed to a journey in nutrition both personally and professionally. Dating back to my early days as a student of Naturopathic Medicine I realized that people had many questions around eating health. This led me to study, test, research and observe the nutritional concepts, strategies, fads, belief systems, you name it, all to get to the kernel of truth when it comes to food. Most importantly, to truly understand individualized nutrition because we are, after all, each incredibly unique with our own health histories, biochemical make up and lifestyles.
Over the years I have been a contributing writer for WO Magazine. For their recent edition I was asked to write on a great Nutrition topic: Which is better... Three Meals A Day or Frequent Small Meals (also known as "Grazing"). It one of many nutrition topics that I discuss during patient visits.
Does eating frequently through the day speed up metabolism? Is three meals better than grazing? Is eating three meals a day enough food for my body? Which is better for my health?
I'd like to share my original article here in full. Learn more about this topic and discover which approach to meal planning is the best fit for you. To view the edited WO Article click here.
With the abundance of differing information and philosophies out there about how to eat, it can lead to much disenchantment. My mission is to shine a light on the path and encourage others to simply get back to eating fresh food. If you have any questions or would like more information, feel free to email me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Food For Thought: Three Squares vs Grazing
Most people have experienced a time when they feel like their appetite had a mind of its own. The work day, stress levels, hormone balance and energy reserves can be strong influences on appetite and food choices. Because of this, many people try different meal frequencies to support them through the day. Meal frequency has been the subject of ongoing debate for a couple of decades. More specifically, which is best: three main meals or small frequent meals?
When it comes to the opinion of fitness experts, health care professionals and researchers there remains a divide of those in favour of one approach over another. Three balanced meals a day is ideal for many individuals. However, there are just as many individuals who feel better when replenishing every 2-3 hours. This is a good example biological uniqueness. Everyone has different needs that are rooted in their physiology, lifestyle and everyday practicality. However, there are many sides to this topic.
A commonality toted by both methods of meal planning involves eating at regular intervals and not skipping meals. There are countless health benefits associated with eating regularly.
Three Balanced Meals
Three meals a day was common practice up until a couple of decades ago. Our ancestors rarely had access to extra food, so they would eat what they had at two or three points in the day. Their food consisted of what they farmed and quantities changed given the season. Moving into the decades of modernization, the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s, three meals where the mainstay and people where in better health then than they are today.
In 2007 the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that reduced meal frequency without caloric restriction improved body composition and cardiovascular health. In addition, the journal Metabolism published an article that same year that also looked at reduced meal frequency. They found that participants eating just three meals a day maintained optimal blood sugar levels.
Our history and research shows that three balanced meals a day offer adequate nourishment. In addition, three meals can keep us healthy.
Frequent Small Meals
Eating frequent small meals, also know as “grazing,” can be an ideal pick-me-up and appetite stabilizer. Proponents of grazing feel they achieve better blood sugar balance, energy levels and subsequently better moods. Eating frequent small meals can assist in portion control and prevent over eating or skipped meals. Furthermore, eating regularly can help curb food cravings.
A review of the research available on high frequency meals was published in a 2011 journal for the International Society of Sports Nutrition. Noteworthy benefits included improved insulin levels and appetite control.
By nature of physiology, some individuals exhaust faster than others. In these cases, refuelling more often may lead to better stamina, mental alertness and optimal mood.
Food Quality Can Make Or Break The Benefits of Both
The effectiveness of both strategies hinges on one major factor: food quality. Regardless of what meal pattern is chosen, if there are not enough nutrient dense foods included, such as vegetables, healthy oils and fats, lean or plant based protein and complex carbohydrates, then individuals are more apt to feel hungry and tired.
A clearer understanding of meal composition is required. People are not often choosing vegetables, real food or home-cooked food for their meal or snack options. Energy bars, protein powder mixes, crackers, sweetened yogurt, muffins and granola bars are popular choices. These foods may not have enough nutrient density to support optimal blood sugar balance, energy needs or satiety.
In fact, foods that break down easily to sugar such as bread, pasta, potatoes, grain based bars, crackers, cookies and sugar containing snack food stimulate hunger, cravings and fatigue because they are quickly metabolized and cause blood sugar to spike. When there is a consistent lack nutritious foods then all well meaning meal strategies can backfire.
Grazing Not Advantageous For Weight Loss
Much of the attention around high frequency meals came from fitness experts promoting this as a way to build lean muscle and lose fat. However, if weight management or weight loss is a health goal, studies have repeatedly shown that grazing is not any better at achieving this than a breakfast-lunch-dinner schedule.
Researchers from the School of Human Kinetics at the University of Ottawa set out to discover if participants eating frequent small meals a day would experience a metabolic acceleration when compared to those eating the same number of calories through less meals. The study, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, in 2010, concluded there was no boost in metabolism among the small frequent meal group of participants. Similarly, the literature review referenced earlier from the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that increasing meal frequency did not favourably change body composition, nor did in increase caloric expenditure or metabolic rate.
And while high frequency eating may control appetite and curb cravings it has also been associated with the overconsumption of the daily recommended calories, especially for those who are sedentary. Healthy weight management involves a number of factors, with the most basic one being the balance between calories in and calories out.
This is a hot topic in nutrition that boils down to individuality and health goals. Which ever option is favoured, good nutrition practices like eating regularly, choosing nutritious food and creating balanced meals, along with regular exercise, will positively impact health for the three squares and grazers alike.
By WIN Contributor: Dr. Laura Imola, Naturopathic Doctor
Stress can be a major influence on chronic illness, especially heart disease. A great way to neutralize stress is to find ways to increase our feeling of wellbeing and happiness day to day.
The little things we can do each day may seem like David going up against Goliath... but we know how that story ends. It's true that the small things do count. Stress can be cumulative through the day or week. Taking stress out at the knees with small karate chops can have a tremendous effect on how you feel in addition to protecting and preserving your heart health.
1) Drink Water
Staying properly hydrated is health promoting, but it can also make a difference in our disposition. There have been studies that link bad moods and dehydration.
2) Yes! Do That Thing You Want To Do!
Is it a cooking class? A yoga class package? A camping trip? Skiing? A trip to the beach?
Pick something you want to splurge on that is an experience that you would love. Make plans and provisions to see it through. The anticipation of attending that musical you've always wanted to see, that super fun excursion, that ballroom dancing class, is enough to dramatically lift your mood.
3) Smile In Your Mind, Smile In your Heart, Even Smile In Your Liver
Ok... I got that Liver part from Ketut in Elizabeth Gilbert's "Eat Pray Love"... but this is a very authentic statement. When we smile like we mean it, and this might involve putting that smile not only on our face but also where it resonates most with us (e.g. our heart, our mind and yes, some of us could do with some smiling in our Liver, which in Traditional Chinese Medicine is the organ that is said to store Anger).
This helps our own feeling of wellbeing and it can also completely change another persons's day, even a stranger's, for the better.
4) Hit The Gym
Countless studies have found that regular exercise helps release endorphins, our happy hormones, from the brain.
5) Stop Networking
In the age of social media, email and instant messaging, it is easy to get caught up in constant virtual communication. This is not humanistic. Humans thrive on actual relationships and conversation. Filling up our sense of wellbeing through time spent with friends, talking about life in person, making our kids laugh, even spending time with our pets can help us destress and re-connect.
6) Do Something Selfless
Maybe it's scraping the snow off a co-worker's windshield before you leave for work, volunteering to help the elderly, offering to bring a working mom some food or helping out at the humane society. Giving back in a way that you truly enjoy can help build a strong sense of meaningfulness for you and for others.
7) Do Nothing
In this wild, busy, messy and full modern day life it's hard to disengage from it all. However when we do, and we allow time for calm, we can recharge our batteries. What springs forth from this if we allow ourselves to feel it? A Happy Heart.
By WIN Contributor: Dr. Matthew Bird, Chiropractor
In the spirit of Heart Health month and Valentines Day, here are the top 6 ways I promote a healthy heart in my life and advise to those I inspire everyday in clinic. Cardiovascular disease is still one of the top issues we as North Americans face leading to early death. This type of disease is a lifestyle disease meaning you have many options to help ward of this silent killer.
1) Heart healthy foods - Veggies mmmm so good. A colourful plate will help increase those plant sterols that help prevent plaque build up leading to vascular turbulence and vascular disease.
2) Regular physical activity and walks with my family, yes even in the cold!
- Deep snow walking (ok mostly with my dog) to help improve joint health and muscle activation
- Resistance training (resistance bands or weights)
- A combination of Pilates and Yoga
Couples/families that train together, stay together for positive motivation to push one another to achieve their goals/dreams.
And for those that really know me, you guessed it, I also really enjoy Volleyball and Snowboarding!
Finding those activities that truly inspire you to move and stay active during the winter months makes them much more enjoyable.
3) Rest! Just as important as exertion for the restoration and repair of stressed tissues.
4) WATER! The essence of life. Regular water intake will help hydrate your body and improve cellular communication for cognition and tissue function and repair.
5) For those that enjoy the finer things in life, a nice glass of red wine. A glass is all you need to take in those antioxidants, which help ward of those damaging free radicals.
6) Regular WIN Health chiropractic adjustments. Restoration of spinal mobility improves the neural connection to all internal organs including your heart.
There are many ways and things you can do to help improve your heart health and the WIN Health Solutions team is here for you!
By WIN Contributor: Scott Paul, BSc, MSc (Candidate), Personal Trainer
Well, a new year has come, and along with it came all those resolutions. I am going to focus on a couple of familiar resolutions. The ones such as “this year, I will workout every morning”, or “I’m going to lose this belly and cut out the desserts”. Then, two weeks in, you feel you’d rather sleep in, or a friend comes over for dinner and you feel obligated to have a piece of apple pie.
These types of resolutions aren’t just seen at New Year’s. These health goals are made all year round. Everyone makes those resolutions. However, these types of goals and resolutions are just setting you up for failure. But why? I’ll tell you why. A person who is inactive and sedentary on December 31st is not going to all of the sudden become a new person on January 1st, waking up early to workout. Just as the person who is a little overweight and loves desserts, isn’t going to all of the sudden totally cut out the foods they love.
One of the reasons these resolutions almost always fail is because they are unrealistic. You need to take things one step at a time.
Let’s start with the inactive person. Their resolution should be to become more active...and that’s it!! Try parking a little further away, so you have to walk more. Maybe you can start taking the stairs instead of the elevator. It doesn’t have to be big. These initiatives makes you more active. Then a couple months down the road you can start taking it a little further, like getting a gym membership or seeing a personal trainer at WIN. ;)
And what about that person who loves desserts...or food in general, for that matter. This is the same idea as above. BE REALISTIC. If you’re going to lose a little bit of weight, do it right. Do it in a way that is healthy and in a way that will last a lifetime. You didn’t gain weight by eating desserts; you gained weight by eating too much dessert. This goes along with what I have always said and what many of you hear me say. Calories in need to be less than calories out in order to lose weight. I’m not going to go into it any more than that, because it’s as simple as it sounds. Just be realistic. If you’re use to having three cups of coffee a day with two creams and two sugars, cut it down to one cream and one sugar. If you’re having two helpings at dinner, try for one.
To make a New Year’s resolution last isn’t rocket science. You just have to be realistic. Don’t set yourself up for failure. Set yourself up to SUCCEED!!
By WIN Contributor: Dr. Laura Imola, Naturopathic Doctor
A new year, a fresh start. So many of us use the new year as motivation to fine tune or evolve the way we take care of ourselves. We resolve to eat better, exercise regularly, get to bed earlier and much more.
I find that the best way make healthy changes that stick is to integrate small things that you can easily do each day. This is how we can make a mountain out of a mole hill, but in a good way. Small changes can create a footing so we can keep climbing towards optimal health.
Here are some of the little things that can help you keep your footing and stick to your health goals.
1) Drink Water - Replace as many beverages that you can with pure water or herbal tea. Adequate hydration with pure fluids (i.e. water) helps with energy, skin integrity, mood, joint health, proper digestion and good metabolic function.
2) Pre-package your food - Consider pre-packaging your smoothie ingredients in zip-lock bags or containers and store 1-2 weeks worth in the freezer. This makes getting a breakfast or snack smoothie quick and easy, and it guarantees you're getting a good dose of plant food that day.
Dr. Laura's Packaged Smoothie: 1 banana, 1 handful of frozen berries, 2 tbsp hemp seeds, 2 tbsp chia seeds, 1 tbsp coconut oil, 1 handful greens/veg (e.g. kale, spinach, swiss chard, collard greens, shredded carrots, etc., or a combination).
Also consider taking an hour on a day off to do a big cookout for the week's lunches. Again, use containers, cook up 2-3 veggies and 2 types of protein sources. Then package these in a container for each day of the week. This ensures you get a healthy lunch and saves time.
3) Create some downtime OR Teach yourself how to have downtime - Whether it's the go-go-go pace of the day or need to be "doing" something, this state of restlessness is causing stress to be an obstacle in reaching health goals.
Productivity is important. However, to be truly productive there must be a balance between "doing" and downtime. Your body will thank you, your memory will be sharper and you will be happier. Carve out some time regularly to practice something that restores, recharges and replenishes. This can be reading a book, being creative (e.g. music, artwork, colouring, dancing), knitting, meditation, prayer, an epsom salt bath, a massage, yoga, time with a pet, time with children, time outdoors, time in nature... the list of possibilities are endless.
These are just a few small things to help you stick to your health goals. Working with people on this journey towards optimal health is my passion. If you would like to take a more proactive health care and utilize preventative medicine, together we can develop a plan that will help you optimize your health and reach your goals.
If you are looking for a quick, easy, veggie packed meal, check out my recipe for Chickpea Curry. It's a nutritious one pan recipe that is sure to fit the bill when it comes to comfort food. I paired this with Cauliflower Rice, a grain-free option that serves as great base for this curry that also boosts the veggie content even further.
At WIN we see nutritious food as an important part of natural health care Niagara! Enjoy this comforting nutritious dish for dinner during these cool November nights!
2 tbsp olive oil or coconut oil
1 onion, diced
6-8 cups chopped kale, stems removed (this is roughly one bunch of grocery store kale)
2 cups of veggie broth
1 cup pureed raw tomato or pure tomato juice
3 cups chickpeas, rinsed well if from a can
1 cup coconut milk
2 teaspoons curry powder
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
Sautee onions in olive oil over medium heat until tender. Add kale and continue cooking, mixing kale and onion together. Kale will reduce as it cooks. Keep cooking over medium heat for 5-7 minutes. Add veggie broth, chickpeas, tomato puree, coconut milk and curry powder. Stir well to combine and simmer on medium heat for about 20 minutes. Stir occasionally as the curry thickens to prevent sticking to pan. Add sea salt to taste if needed. Serve over Cauliflower Rice.
*Spice Note: This is a 0/5 on the spice scale. To kick this recipe up a notch, add black pepper or cayenne pepper to taste, or stir in Franks Hot Sauce.
1 head of cauliflower, roughly chopped
1 medium onion, cut into quarters
1 tbsp olive or coconut oil
In food processor, dice onion. Then add cauliflower a few pieces at a time and process until grainy. Scoop out grainy cauliflower. In a hot pan, throw the grainy mixture in and quickly stir fry for a few minutes until warmed through.