Tuesday, November 3, 2015

My Best Cold and Flu Tip: Warming Socks

Warming socks are an excellent hydrotherapy treatment for congestion from cold and flu. Hydrotherapy is a fantastic way to stimulate circulation of the lymphatic system and to improve immune system function. This is the very first thing I do when I feel the symptoms of a cold or flu coming on.

Warming socks will improve symptoms such as nasal and sinus congestion, headache, fullness in the ears or head, runny nose and other common symptoms of illness. Many patients also report a better nights rest, which we know is important for proper immune system function.

To do a warming socks treatment:

1. Soak a pair of socks in cold water. Use thin cotton socks if possible, or cotton sports socks. Wring out all excess water.
2. Pull wet socks onto feet. (This is only uncomfortable for a minute or so)
3. Cover with a pair of wool socks (you need to use a sock made of breathable material)
4. Sleep overnight with socks on.

In the morning, you will find that the socks are dry. Throughout the night, your body has worked to heat and dry the socks which has improved your circulation and has also helped to relieve some of the congestion from the head.

Try this treatment for three consecutive nights to reduce the length and severity of your cold or flu.

Note: this is also an excellent treatment for improving blood flow to the lower limbs which is helpful for healing after surgery, varicose veins and complications of diabetes.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

How about a side of probiotics with those antibiotics?

Every now and again there comes along an infection that's just so stubborn that we need to turn to antibiotics for help. Now most of you know that I'm not against pharmaceuticals, but I do think it's important to reserve antibiotics for occasional use. There are many natural ways to support the immune system so that antibiotics are rarely required. There are also many effective natural remedies to be used in place of antibiotics and especially in the case of viral infections for which antibiotics are not indicated. Stay tuned for a post on how to avoid antibiotic overuse, and why it's important.

Now, if there comes a point and time (and these will become few and far between once you start working with your Naturopathic Doctor) where you just need to take an antibiotic, you MUST also take probiotics.

Now this is where the confusion comes in. Since antibiotics work by killing off bacteria many assume that taking probiotics is a waste since they'll just be wiped out by the antibiotics. This is not true!

I'm going to borrow an analogy from Dr. Jason Hawrelak, a practicing ND who does extensive research into the area of probiotics. Think of your digestive tract as a parking lot. Occupying each parking space is beneficial bacteria. We want to have each space occupied with the good bacteria so that no space is left open for the pathogenic "bad" bacteria to park. With each dose of the antibiotic, some good bacteria is wiped out from their space. We want to make sure to continuously re-fill these spaces with the good probiotics so we can keep the parking lot full.

Research continuously shows that probiotics given during the course of antibiotics reduces antibiotic related side effects (think digestive upset and yeast infections to name a couple) and reduces the damage done to the balance of gut bacteria. The benefit of giving probiotics alongside antibiotics is far superior than giving probiotics after the course of antibiotics is finished.

Probiotics should be taken along with antibiotics, but the timing should be separated as much as possible. That is, take the probiotic as far away as possible from the antibiotic.

Keep in mind that not all probiotics are created equal. Be sure to purchase a quality probiotic from your Naturopathic Doctor or from a reputable company that is ensuring the appropriate strain in the appropriate amount is present.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Getting Organized: Meal Planning!!

With our busy lives it can sometimes be difficult to eat as well and we’d like to and recently, I’ve found myself telling a lot of my patients about one of the best organizational things we’ve done in our house, meal planning! I am continuously commenting about how much I LOVE our meal plan and the many ways it saves us time and money.

We started by making a list of all of our usual dinner meals (chili, lasagna, meatloaf, tacos, etc.) and after a couple of days of thinking about it, we came up with around 30 different meal ideas. Some were fairly generic like “quinoa dish”, “squash dish”, “chicken” and “rice dish” which allows for some different recipes to be inserted depending on what we feel like that week but everything else was pretty well one of our regulars.

Cooking 4 times/week works for us. On the other nights we eat leftovers, we eat outside the home, we may just have a large salad or it might be a breakfast for dinner kind of night. Those nights are often when we try out new recipes as well.

So from there, I created a table. 30 meals, with 4 meals/week works out to be an 8 week meal plan!  Now this table became a bit of a puzzle where I filled in the squares and spread around the different dishes so that we weren’t eating the same types of foods all in one week, so that each week has 2 meat dishes (yes, I eat meat) and 2 vegetarian dishes and so that my husband has two meals that he prepares and I have 2 meals that I prepare. The “meat” leftovers are for my husband and the veggie leftovers are for me. This takes care of my lunches for the week as well!

We keep this posted on the fridge and each weekend we have a look at what’s planned for the next week and we grocery shop accordingly and decide who’s cooking and on what night.

We recycle this winter meal plan 3-4 times throughout the winter. For the summer months, the meal list was modified to include grilled dishes and more seasonal foods replaced the root vegetables and warming foods.  Our summer meal plan is 6 weeks and so we recycle that one 3-4 times through the summer months. Since we’re only eating the same dish every 6-8 weeks, we never get tired of a particular meal.

I can’t begin to tell you how much this helps us to eat healthier, more balanced meals! It makes grocery shopping so much more efficient and we rarely throw food away. Food prep becomes much easier since we’re organized and we don’t have to think up a dinner idea each night.  This is my best tip for busy families wanting to make healthy choices!