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kidney stones

Kidney Stones – Everything you need to know

If you have suffered from kidney stones you are not alone. According to the Kidney Foundation of Canada, one in ten people will get one kidney stone in their life. That equates to 100,000 people in Ottawa. In this blog, I outline the symptoms, risk factors and natural ways you can help prevent and treat kidney stones.

What are Kidney Stones?

Kidney stones are formed in the kidneys from dietary minerals. The most common of these are composed of calcium oxalate and uric acid. While most stones leave the body without notice, if they are big enough they can become lodged in the ureter and cause symptoms.

Symptoms

Pain is the most disturbing symptom of stones. It usually starts in the back and can travel down to the groin. Other symptoms include nausea, vomiting, fever and chills. The urine may also appear cloudy and or bloody in appearance.

Risk Factors

Factors that increase the risk of developing kidney stones include:

Genetics – if another family member has kidney stones, you’re more likely to develop stones, too.

Hydration – Not drinking enough water can increase your risk of kidney stones. If you live in a hot climate or sweat a lot you may have a higher risk.

Diet – Consuming a diet that is high in protein, sodium or sugar may increase your risk of stones.

Being overweight – Having a high body mass index may increase your risk of stones,

Digestive conditions – Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Crohns or Ulcerative Colitis) or chronic diarrhea can increase the formation of stones by affecting the absorption of water and calcium.

Treatment

If you currently have stones, have had them in the past or have a family history then the following measures may help.

Drink more water

The water will make it easier for the body to excrete calcium oxalate.

Lemon Juice

Lemon juice has been shown to help dissolve stones. Aim for approximately 1/2 cup of lemon juice per day.

Dietary changes

Consider limiting the following foods that have been shown to increase the formation of stones:

  1. Table salt
  2. Grapefruit juice
  3. Calcium supplementation
  4. Soda drinks
  5. High protein foods
  6. High sugar foods
  7. High oxalate foods including beans, nuts, black tea, chocolate, carob, beets, spinach, chard, rhubarb, plantains and sweet potatoes. Avoid these foods particular while symptoms are acute.

Supplementation and Herbals

The following supplements and Herbals are worth considering if you know you have stones and want to help the body excrete them.

  1. Magnesium glycinate
  2. Vitamin B6
  3. Aloe vera juice
  4. Marshmallow root tea

If you have any questions about this article either post them in the comments section below or email using the form on my contact page.

Disclaimer

This article in not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

gout

5 Ways To Help Gout Without Taking Drugs

Gout affects about two per cent of both men over age 30 and women over 50 years old in Canada. In this blog, I outline what gout is, causes and how to treat it naturally with dietary changes and supplementation.

What is Gout?

Gout is a kind of arthritis that is characterised by sudden, sharp attacks of joint pain with redness, heat, and swelling in the afflicted area. It usually affects one joint.

It most frequently affects the joint of the big toe, where it’s also known as podagra, but other toes, as well as knees, can also be affected.

Cause

Gout is caused by a build-up of uric acid crystals in the joints. Uric acid is produced by the body when breaking down proteins known as purines.

Uric acid normally remains dissolved in the blood and leaves the body via the kidneys and urine.

An excess of uric acid in the blood is caused by an overabundance of purines. The kidneys can only excrete so much uric acid at one time and so the remaining uric acid forms crystals that get deposited in the joints and cause painful inflammation.

Purines

Purines are proteins found in almost every cell in the body and most foods. Some foods have higher concentrations of purines, including organ meats like kidneys, fish like mackerel, herring,  sardines, and mussels, and also yeast.

Uric acid – not all bad

Though an overload of uric acid can lead to gout, recent research has shown that, in proper proportions, uric acid acts as an antioxidant and helps protect the body from free radical damage.

Just like with cholesterol, there is a balance to be kept.

How to help?

While an excess of purines is the primary reason for gout, it is important to remember that the food is not at fault here but rather reduced uric acid metabolism. Just avoiding high purine foods is not enough to resolve the problem.

1. Control Your Blood Sugar

Recent research has shown that poor blood sugar and insulin control through excess consumption of carbohydrates and sugars leads to gout, and not the level of purines.

2. Manage Your Stress

Stressors, both physical and emotional, can cause the body to excrete excess uric acid.

3. Keep Hydrated

When asked what the most important factor for treating gout was, gout expert Bert Middleton, from thegoutkiller.com, said that if he had to pick one determinant, it was dehydration.

4. Check Your Medication

Some drugs that people take for other medical conditions, such as high blood pressure or heart failure, may cause gout. Such drugs include diuretics, beta-blockers, cyclosporine and low-dose aspirin.

5. Try Nutmeg Oil

If you are suffering from an acute attack then applying nutmeg oil to the affected area can be helpful. Nutmeg oil, which is antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial is traditionally being used for gout in Asian medicine.

Suggested approach

Just like any other inflammatory condition, the way to help gout is no different. Below is a list of steps for you to consider.

  1. Reduce or better eliminate gluten, dairy and sugar from your diet.
  2. Reduce high purine foods – see above.
  3. Manage your stress levels both physical and emotional.
  4. Drink more water!

Disclaimer

This article in not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Now I’d like to hear from you. Do you suffer from gout? Have you tried any of the above recommendations in the past? Did they help? Do you have any other suggestions that have worked well for you? Let us know in the comments below.

 

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bedwetting

Bedwetting: Everything you need to know

If you have a young child who wets the bed at night, you are not alone. Bedwetting occurs in 15 percent of children at or around the age five years old. In this blog, I outline the different causes of bedwetting in children and the various strategies you could try to help this condition.

What is bedwetting?

Nocturnal enuresis or nighttime urinary incontinence, commonly called bedwetting, is involuntary urination while asleep after the age at which bladder control usually occurs. Nocturnal enuresis is considered primary when a child has not yet had a prolonged period of being dry. Secondary Nocturnal enuresis is when bedwetting occurs after an extended period of dryness after the age at which bladder control usually occurs.

What are the common causes in children?

In my practice, bedwetting is very rarely the primary reason parents are bringing their children to see me. Bedwetting is usually a secondary to other health concerns including some mental health issues, such as ADD, ADHD or Hyperactivity. Other causes include:

  1. Drinking too much liquid.
  2. Sexual abuse – this typically a secondary cause. When bedwetting occurs after a period of dryness, this cause should be a consideration.
  3. Neurogenic inflammation – caused by consumption of foods that are causing inflammation to the nervous system controlling the urinary system.
  4. A Small bladder.
  5. Genetics – If a child has one parent who was a bed wetter, they are 40% more likely to do the same. And if both parents were bedwetters this increases that rate to 70% likelihood.
  6. Sweets that are eaten just before bedtime.

How can we help?

When looking to help a child with bedwetting, I suggest considering the simplest possible causes first, including:

  1. Avoid drinking liquids after 5 pm.
  2. Avoid sugary foods at supper time.

If the above measures bring no or only partial improvement, then I suggest looking at foods as a trigger. Consider a three-week trial of removing gluten, dairy and sugar-containing foods from the diet. If symptoms improve, reintroduce one food group at a time and monitor for any return of symptoms. If symptoms, do not improve, consider asking your family doctor or health practitioner, for a food sensitivity IgG blood test. This test may bring to light some other inflammatory foods that may be at the root of the symptoms.

Other Alternatives

Although some of the natural remedies below have not been scientifically proven to be useful for treating bedwetting, anecdotal and clinical evidence, persuades me to share them with you.

Homeopathy

Homeopathy is a form of energetic medicine that stimulates the body to help itself. Homoeopathic remedies come in the form of liquids or small lactose pills. There is some evidence that both Belladonna and Nux Vomica have been helpful in the treatment of bedwetting.

Herbal Medicine

Herbal medicines come in the form of capsules or alcohol-based liquid tinctures. Herbs that are worth consideration include Uva Ursi, Cranberry, Gentian and St Johns Wort.

If you have any questions about this article either post them in the comments section below or email using the form on my contact page.

Disclaimer

This article in not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Urinary Incontinence

Urinary Incontinence: Everything you need to know

If you live in Ottawa and suffer from Urinary Incontinence, you are not alone. According to the Canadian Continence Foundation, approximately 12% of Canadians experience urinary incontinence, which equates to 120,000 in Ottawa. In this blog, I outline the different types of Incontinence, the risk factors and different strategies you can use to help your symptoms.

What is Urinary Incontinence?

Urinary Incontinence (sometimes called leaky bladder) is the involuntary discharge of urine. It is more common in women than men.

What are the risk factors that lead to Urinary Incontinence?

One risk factor is vaginal birth, particularly greater than one birth. Another risk factor is menopause when there is a weakening of tissues around the vagina due to a drop in estrogen.

There is also a genetic link to incontinence as population studies suggest that women whose other family members have incontinence are more prone to the same.

Types of incontinence

The first type of incontinence is called Stress Incontinence (SI). This type occurs when you’re doing something physical, like coughing, or sneezing, laughing, standing up, and exercising. SI is an anatomical problem due to the weakening of the tissue in and around the vagina and the bladder.

The second kind of incontinence is called Urge Incontinence (UI). UI is categorised by a sudden urge to go to the bathroom, but you just can’t make it in time. This kind of incontinence is more of a neurological problem as opposed to an anatomical problem.

The third kind of incontinence, which is the most common of all types, is called Mixed Incontinence (MI). This is a combination of SI and UI.

The final form of incontinence is called Overflow Incontinence (OI). OI happens when the bladder is full and can’t hold its contents any longer. Then it just releases urine on its own, and this can happen to any of us at any time when we ignore the urge to go.

How can we help Incontinence?

If incontinence is a problem for you then below is a list of steps you could take to help manage your symptoms.

Remove Diuretic Foods

Consider removing diuretic foods from your diet and see if that improves symptoms. The two biggest food diuretics are alcohol and caffeine. If there is little or no change, then you might consider removing all other diuretic foods, which includes: Apple cider vinegar, Artichokes, Asparagus, Brussel Sprouts, Cranberry juice, Cucumber, dandelion, green tea, fennel, lettuce, nettle, oats, parsley, and melon.

Remove Inflammatory foods

Consider removing inflammatory foods starting with gluten, dairy and sugar, and eating a whole foods diet avoiding processed foods as much as possible. These foods may be causing irritation to your urinary tract.

Evaluate water intake

Of course, too much water intake is going to worsen incontinence in some individuals, but so is too little. Too little water causes the urine to be highly concentrated, and this too can irritate the bladder lining, leading to problems of incontinence. Also, if nighttime leakage is a problem, then try stop drinking water within two hours of bedtime.

Consider medications you are taking

Certain medications especially blood pressure pills can act as diuretics. If you are taking any medications consider asking your doctor or pharmacist whether they might be causing your incontinence.

Pelvic exercises

If incontinence is the result of pelvic muscle weakening then pelvic strengthening, known as Kegeling, can help. To exercise these muscles, just pull in or squeeze your pelvic muscles as if you were trying to stop urine flow and hold this squeeze for about 10 seconds, then rest 10 seconds. You can do sets of 10 to 20 contractions per day.

To learn more about kegeling, check out this video:

If you have any questions about this article either post them in the comments section below or email using the form on my contact page.

Disclaimer

This article in not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

diarrhea

Diarrhea: Everything you need to know

If you live in Ottawa and you suffer from Diarrhea you are not alone. Each year, 4.5 billion people contract diarrhea worldwide. This blog will help you understand what are the common causes and how you might help your symptoms.

Your stool is typically composed of three-quarters water and one-quarter solid matter. With diarrhea, the moisture content is, of course, higher. Diarrhea is a symptom of an underlying condition. Determining the cause is essential for finding the right solutions to correcting the problem. Most diarrhea resolves itself when the cause is addressed. The loose stools are a way that the body can expel something it doesn’t need or is otherwise toxic.

Symptoms

  1. Loose or watery bowel movements.
  2. More bowel movements per day than normal (1-3x per day is normal).
  3. Urgency with elimination.
  4. Cramping or discomfort in the abdomen.
  5. Undigested food in stool.
  6. Fatigue and brain fog.

Common Causes

  1. Food allergies or sensitivities
  2. Lactose intolerance
  3. Sugar intolerance
  4. Leaky gut/damaged mucosal lining of the intestines
  5. Impaired digestion and absorption
  6. Trouble digesting fats
  7. Parasites
  8. SIBO
  9. Prescription drug use
  10. Antibiotics
  11. Lack of“good” bacteria nth gut
  12. Stress or anxiety
  13. Excessive magnesium or vitamin C
  14. Viral infection
  15. Food poisoning

Note: If diarrhea is or becomes chronic, check with a physician as malnutrition can ensue.

Treatment of Acute diarrhea

If you develop acute diarrhea, the following suggestions may be helpful for controlling your symptoms.

  1. Recline on your back with a pillow under knees
  2. Place a hot water bottle on a towel over the abdomen
  3. Drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration
  4. Try green juices, coconut kefiran tea
  5. Avoid dairy, fat, sugar and excess meat

Treatment of Chronic diarrhea

Dietary modification

If you have experienced diarrhea or loose stools for more than 2-3 weeks, then you have chronic diarrhea. This is the most common type I see in my practice. When considering any digestive symptom, I always look first to whether what you are eating is causing your symptoms. Below is a list of the diets that I consider in ascending degrees of complexity:

  1. Remove all Gluten, Dairy and Sugar-containing foods.
  2. Institute of Functional Medicine Elimination Diet: Remove all gluten, dairy, corn, soya, red meat, shellfish, and peanuts.
  3. Paleo Diet: Remove all grains, dairy, and legumes.
  4. Paleo Autoimmune diet: Paleo diet less eggs, nightshade vegetables, nuts and seeds.

Supplementation

In my practice, supplements are used as a supplementary measure alongside dietary modifications. Below is a list of common supplements I use in my practice when treating diarrhea.

  1. Soil-based probiotics
  2. L-glutamine
  3. Aloe vera juice (2-4oz)
  4. Increasing amounts of ground flaxseed
  5. Deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL)
  6. Psyllium husk
  7. Bentonite clay
  8. Zinc
  9. Digestive enzymes
  10. Ox bile if fat digestion is an issue

Functional Testing

If dietary modification and supplementation do not resolve symptoms, then I look to lab testing to uncover the root of symptoms. Below is a list of the most common tests I use in my practice.

  1. IgG food sensitivity testing
  2. Comprehensive Stool Analysis Test for Candida and Parasites
  3. Organic Acids Test for yeast, metabolic and overgrowth concerns
  4. Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) Lactulose breath test
  5. Lactose Breath Test (or just remove dairy!)

If you have any questions about this article either post them in the comments section below or email using the form on my contact page.

Disclaimer

This article in not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

bloating

Bloating and Gas: Everything you need to know

Intestinal bloating is caused by an excessive build-up of gas in your small intestine. There are two varieties of gas – either regular/chronic gas or severe/acute gas. Gas can be nothing more than a sign that you have swallowed some air but it can also be a sign that you are not correctly assimilating your food.

Chronic gas typically composes of methane. Methane has the adverse impact of exhausting particular short-chain fatty acids that line a healthy large intestine. The prolonged exposure to methane can raise the probability of disease in the colon such as polyps or even cancer.

Symptoms of bloating include distention of the abdomen, abdominal pain, excessive discharge of gas (i.e. farting), and heartburn.

Common Causes of Bloating

  1. Excess intake of caffeine, sugar, alcohol or processed oils
  2. Nutrient insufficiency
  3. Absence of adequate enzymes
  4. Food allergies or sensitivities
  5. Inadequate bile production
  6. Stress
  7. Dysbiosis or bacteria imbalances
  8. Candida
  9. Parasites
  10. SIBO (small intestinal bowel overgrowth)

Treatment for Gas and Bloating

Step One

If you want to try and help reduce your gas and bloating think about how and what you are eating before reaching for a supplement or medication. Here are my top 8 suggestions:

  1. Make sure you chew your food well
  2. Massage your colon, following the line of the colon
  3. Consider removing all dairy products
  4. Soak beans and grains before cooking
  5. Avoid sugar alcohols such as sorbitol and xylitol
  6. Try a low FODMAP diet
  7. Do an elimination diet to detect food triggers
  8. Use herbs such as ginger, fennel, anise and cardamom in cooking

Step Two

If step one only partially helps you might want to try supplementation. It is important only to try one supplement at a time so that you know what is working. Here are my top 6 suggestions:

  1. Soil-based probiotics
  2. Digestive enzymes
  3. Enteric coated peppermint oil
  4. Activated charcoal
  5. Fennel ½-1 tsp; 3x per day
  6. Fermented apple cider vinegar with meals

Step Three

If you are still suffering from gas and bloating, after steps one and two, it is time to utilise some functional lab testing. The two most common tests I use in my Functional Medicine practice are:

  1. A Stool Test is looking for Candida and parasites.
  2. A Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) breath test.

If you have any questions about this article either post them in the comments section below or email using the form on my contact page.

Disclaimer

This article in not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

elimination diet

Elimination Diet: Everything you need to know

You may not be aware of it, but the foods you’re consuming every day could be gradually damaging your health and cutting your lifespan. But how do you know? For numerous people, toxic foods are hard to detect, particularly for those who’ve already cleaned up their diets and believe they are eating healthy. For example, I recently saw an old client who came in because she was getting headaches. She had already gone gluten-free, was a trained nutritionist, and overall had a very healthy diet. But examining her, I found that she had signs of chronic low-grade inflammation. This client came in because she wanted food allergy testing. But what she left with was an elimination diet. Here’s why.

Allergy Testing can be illuminating, but the “gold standard in figuring out if foods are causing inflammation, is to cut out the suspect foods for about a month and see how you feel when you reintroduce them.

I suggest that everyone do an elimination diet at least once.

So how do you do an elimination diet and not make it difficult?

Here is my easy 6-step plan for doing an elimination diet. You might be shocked by what you learn!

1. Take a step back. It’s difficult to know where you’re going unless you know where you began

Do you, like my client also get headaches? Do you have skin problems? Digestive symptoms like gas, bloating, or constipation? Allergies? How’s your energy? What about your mood? Do you feel like you suffer from brain fog? Joint pains? These are just a few of the symptoms of food sensitivities.

So, before you begin an elimination diet, scan your body from top to bottom, and make a list of everything you notice, however, subtle or long-standing the symptom has been. This process sets you up to see significant changes when they occur.

2. Eliminate the usual food suspects for 30 days.

The primary elimination I use in my practice was developed by the Institute of Functional Medicine (IFM). This includes:

No gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, corn, peanuts, red meat and shellfish for 30 days.

Why 30 Days?

Antibodies, which your body produces when food allergens are present, take approximately 30 days to leave the body. So if you don’t eliminate things that you’re sensitive to for at least 30 days that time, you will not get an accurate picture.

3. What can I eat?

If this is your response, do not panic! You can do this. The diet requires a little grocery shopping and taking a few extra minutes a day to prepare food.

We’re all habituated to fast-food, easy preparation, and taking two seconds to eat a meal. The problem is that typically food made and consumed this way makes us unhealthy over time.

New habits take 21 days to form, which is also why we’re doing a 23-day elimination diet! We want these new habits to die hard.

This is what you can eat:

30% lean chicken, lamb, pork, and fish.
70% vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and gluten-free grains like quinoa.

Simple!

4. Do’s and Don’ts

DO …

DO eat fish. (But beware of fish high in mercury like tuna and swordfish.)
DO eat lots of fibre, fresh whole foods, and homemade meals.
DO eat lots of healthy fats including olive oil, ghee, coconut oil, and avocados.

DO NOT …

Do NOT eat packaged or processed foods if possible. They are often full of additives, preservatives, and sugar.
Do NOT replace gluten products with gluten-free bread, cereals and crackers. After all, a muffin is a muffin whether it is gluten free or not.

5. How do I reintroduce foods the right way?

This process is also much simpler than people make it out to be.

On day 31, choose one food you eliminated but not more than one, and eat it.

See how you feel over the next four days. If you have no reaction after four days, eat that same food again, and for a second time, notice how you feel. From there, it’s up to you whether or not to re-incorporate that food into your diet on a regular basis.

Once you have decided whether a particular food is good or bad, pick another one and follow the same steps.

6. This process works best when you are self-aware.

During the elimination diet and the reintroduction process, be aware of how you feel. Maybe you’ll see changes you weren’t anticipating. Maybe your sleep quality or your energy level is better. Maybe the redness in your skin is gone, or your belly is flatter.

No blood test can tell you what life will be like without a particular food. When you find out for yourself by doing an elimination diet, you could be saving yourself a lifetime of annoying symptoms, and in some cases, even life-threatening diseases.

If you have any questions about this article either post them in the comments section below or email using the form on my contact page.

Disclaimer

This article in not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Heartburn

Heartburn – Everything you need to know

If live in Ottawa and you suffer from heartburn you are not alone. In Canada, 14% of the population suffer from heartburn each year. In Ottawa, that equates to 140,000 people. This blog will help you understand what are the common causes and how you might help your heartburn symptoms.

Most people assume that heartburn is the result of too much acid in the stomach. However, researchers now understand that heartburn is the consequence of too little acid in the stomach. Either the food has been sitting in the stomach for too long because there is not enough acid to properly break it down or the oesophagal valve is not working correctly and fails to prevent the contents of the stomach from rising into the oesophagus.

Symptoms of Heartburn

  1. A burning feeling in the chest usually behind the breastbone, burning in the throat
  2. A hot or sour taste in mouth
  3. Difficulty swallowing
  4. A sense of food being ‘stuck’ in the throat or chest a chronic cough, sore throat or hoarseness

Common Causes of Heartburn

  1. Low stomach acid
  2. Overeating
  3. Eating too fast
  4. Consuming too much coffee or caffeine
  5. Consuming too much sugar or refined carbohydrates
  6. Smoking
  7. Drugs
  8. Food allergies and sensitivities
  9. Certain health conditions such as ulcers, gallbladder problems or
  10. IBS
  11. Stress or anxiety
  12. H. pylori
  13. Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth or SIBO
  14. Histamine Intolerance

Treatment for Heartburn

If you have heartburn, I suggest the following four-step process that I use in my practice to identify and resolve the cause of your symptoms.

Step One – Modify your eating habits

  1. Don’t eat late at night
  2. Don’t over consume fluids with meals
  3. Eat more slowly and chew food thoroughly
  4. Avoid eating just before exercising

If the above suggestions give you no or partial relief then it is time to consider whether your diet is causing your heartburn.

Step Two – Modify your diet

  1. Avoid cold drinks
  2. Increase vegetables
  3. Avoid caffeine and sugar
  4. Increase probiotic foods
  5. If excessive, avoid chocolate, citrus, tomatoes, onions, peppers and peppermint temporarily
  6. Food combining can work well as it creates less work for the stomach
  7. Try a Food Elimination Diet to identify potential triggers.

If the above suggestions give you no or partial relief, then it is time to consider introducing supplementation.

Step Three – Try supplementation

Below are the most common supplements I use in my practice for constipation. When using supplements introducing one at a time is best.

  1. Soil Based Probiotics
  2. Aloe vera juice
  3. Apple cider vinegar
  4. Betaine HCl treatment
  5. Deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL)
  6. Slippery elm or marshmallow root to help soothe oesophagal tissue
  7. Vitamin A, beta-carotene and zinc to help heal the mucosa membrane
  8. Fennel tea

Step Four – Functional Lab Testing

If steps one to three does not help, then consider the following functional lab tests, which you can obtain from your family physician or a functional medicine practitioner.

  1. H. pylori testing (stool)
  2. SIBO Breath Test
  3. IgG food sensitivity testing
  4. Barium swallow (Physician only)
  5. Endoscopy (Physician only)

If you have any questions about this article either post them in the comments section below or email using the form on my contact page.

Disclaimer

This article in not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

constipation

Constipation: Everything you need to know

Constipation is a big problem for millions of Canadians each year. When a person doesn’t eliminate entirely and daily, their body is in a toxic state. Persistent constipation is a symptom that should not be ignored.

What is Constipation?

Constipation is a lack of daily bowel movement (normal is 1-3x per day), straining to eliminate or hard stools or unfinished elimination.

Symptoms of Constipation

Constipation can cause a number of different symptoms including:

  1. Fatigue and brain fog
  2. Aches and pains elsewhere in the body
  3. Chronic headaches

Typical Causes

  1. Food allergies or sensitivities
  2. Lactose intolerance
  3. Leaky gut or increased intestinal permeability
  4. Impaired digestion and absorption
  5. Parasites
  6. Prescription drug use
  7. Reduced Friendly Bacteria
  8. Lack of dietary fibre
  9. Dehydration
  10. Not enough exercise
  11. Lack of sunshine
  12. Stress or anxiety
  13. Magnesium deficiency
  14. SIBO
  15. Hypothyroidism

Treatment

If you have constipation, I suggest the following four-step process that I use in my practice to identify and resolve the cause of your symptoms.

Step One – Practical suggestions

  1. Eat more mindfully. Avoid eating on the run or while watching the television. Remember to chew your food.
  2. Bring more movement into your life. This can be as simple as taking a regular walk in the morning or consider joining a yoga or pilates class.
  3. Check side effects of medications you are taking. More than 150 prescriptions and many regularly used over-the-counter medications can induce constipation. These can include certain acid blocking, antidepressant, cold, painkiller, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol medication.
  4. Manage or reduce the stress in your life. Exercise and mindfulness techniques such as meditation have been scientifically proven to reduce stress.
  5. Consider what you might be ‘holding on to’ or not releasing in your life. Emotions can have a powerful effect on how our bodies work. If you are holding on to loss or sadness from your past then this can affect the functioning of your intestines.

If the above suggestions give you no or partial relief then it is time to consider whether your diet is causing your constipation.

Step Two – Dietary changes

This step has two parts. Part 1 is adding in foods that can help speed up bowel movements, and part 2 is removing foods that may be causing constipation.

Part 1

  1. Consume more fibre in the form of vegetables.
  2. Drink more water – at least 2 litres per day.
  3. Consume probiotic foods
  4. Add ground flax seed or chia seeds
  5. Flaxseed oil(unheated)can be used in salad dressings
  6. Eat more garlic
  7. Soak dried figs or prunes overnight; drink the soak water
  8. Papaya can stimulate bowel activity
  9. Eat more probiotic and prebiotic-rich foods
  10. Dandelion root tea

Part 2

  1. Avoid hydrogenated and processed foods
  2. Eliminate dairy

If the above suggestions give you no or partial relief then it is time to consider introducing supplementation.

Step Three – Supplementation

Below are the most common supplements I use in my practice for constipation. When using supplements introducing one at a time is best.

  1. Soil Based Probiotic
  2. Magnesium
  3. Digestive enzymes
  4. Aloe vera juice (2-4 oz)
  5. Slippery elm or marshmallow root
  6. Psyllium husk
  7. Vitamin C

Step 4 – Functional Testing

If the above suggestions give you no or partial relief then it is time to consider using functional lab testing. The most common tests I use in my practice are the following:

  1. IgG food sensitivity testing
  2. Comprehensive Stool Test for Candida and Parasites
  3. Organic Acids Test for yeast, metabolic and overgrowth concerns
  4. Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) breath test
  5. Comprehensive serum thyroid panel

If you have any questions about this article either post them in the comments section below or email using the form on my contact page.

Disclaimer

This article in not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

parasites

Parasites: Everything you need to know

Finding out you have parasites can be disturbing, but you’re not alone; they are far more prevalent than you would imagine. It is a myth that parasites only exist in third world countries. In fact, many of the clients I see in my practice have a parasite. Thay can cause a countless number of symptoms, only some of which are digestive.

What are parasites?

Parasites are organisms that exist and feast from another organism. Intestinal parasites are usually worms that feed off of the food you eat.

Examples of intestinal parasites include roundworms, tapeworms, pinworms, whipworms, hookworms, and more. Parasites can cause a very wide range of problems:

  1. Some eat your food, leaving you feeling empty after every meal and not able to put on weight.
  2. Some feed off of your red blood cells, leading to anaemia.
  3. Some lay eggs that can produce itching, irritability, and even insomnia.

If you have attempted many strategies to heal your gut and alleviate your symptoms without any resolution, a parasite could be the underlying reason for several of your unexplained and vague symptoms.

How do you get a parasite?

There are a plenty of ways to catch a parasite. First, parasites can invade your body via infected food and water. Undercooked meat is a well-known place for them to hide, as well as contaminated water from third world countries, lakes, ponds, or streams. Meat is the not the only offender. Polluted or contaminated fruits and veggies can also hide parasites. Some parasites can even invade the body by moving through the sole of your foot.

Once infected with a parasite, it’s very easy to pass it on to somebody else. If you have a parasite and don’t clean your hands after using the bathroom, you can easily transfer microscopic parasite eggs onto anything you touch such as a door handle, salt shaker, phone, or anybody you feel. It’s also very easy to catch a parasite when around animals. Ensuring you was your hands can help prevent parasite infection and transmission. Going overseas is an added way that parasites can enter your body. If you drank any contaminated water during your travels, you have probably acquired a parasite.

12 Signs You Might Have a Parasite

  1. You have unexplained constipation, diarrhoea, flatulence, or heartburn.
  2. You travelled abroad and remembered getting traveller’s diarrhoea.
  3. You have had food poisoning in the past, and your digestion has not been right since.
  4. You have difficulty falling asleep, or you wake up multiple times during the night, particularly
  5. between 2 and 3 pm.
  6. You get unexplained rashes, hives, rosacea or eczema.
  7. You grind your teeth at night.
  8. You get pain in your joints and muscles.
  9. You experience tiredness, weariness, sadness, or frequent feelings of indifference.
  10. You never feel satiated or full after your meals.
  11. You’ve been diagnosed with iron-deficiency anaemia or low iron that does not increase with supplementation.
  12. You experience a crawling feeling underneath your skin.
  13. You drool on your pillow while asleep at night.
  14. You get nightmares – especially children.

The symptoms of a parasite can often seem independent and unexplained. As I stated previously, there are many diverse types of parasites that we are exposed to in our environments. I typically see parasites prompting more constipation than diarrhoea. Insomnia, skin rashes, mood swings, and muscle aches can all be produced by the toxins that parasites release into your body. These toxins often cause anxiety, which can display itself in different guises. For example, waking up in the middle of the night or grinding your teeth at night are signs that your body is feeling anxiety while you rest. When these toxins mix with your brain chemicals or blood, they can cause mood swings or skin rashes.

How to Test for Parasites

The best route to test for a parasite is to do a stool test. In Ontario, parasite testing is covered under OHIP through your family physician. This one major drawback of this testing is that the lab only asks for one stool sample. Parasites can be difficult to detect so taking more than one sample significantly increases the chance of detection. In my practice, the lab I use (Biohealth) ask for three different samples collected on separate days.

Stool testing is the best scientific method for testing parasites sometimes it can produce false negative results even though all the presenting symptoms point towards parasites being present. In such cases, I way up all the presenting data and may treat even though the stool test may be negative.

How to Treat Parasites

Any positive stool test will tell you which type of parasites are present. You can then use specific herbal medications to target those particular parasites. If, however, the parasites cannot be distinguished, you can use a combination of herbs, comprising magnesium caprylate, berberine, Tribulus, sweet wormwood, grapefruit, bayberry, bearberry, and black walnut. You can typically find herbal mixtures at any health food store or my practice. In general, these herbal formulas afford a broad spectrum of action against the most prevalent pathogens existing in your GI tract, while not damaging the beneficial gut bacteria.

If you have any questions about this article either post them in the comments section below or email using the form on my contact page.

Disclaimer

This article in not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.