Concentration and Memory Improved with B Vitamins

B vitamins are necessary for proper brain functioning and they also help improve concentration and memory. There are different studies relating the role of B vitamin to brain health. In a recent study, British researchers from Oxford University showed that high doses of selected B vitamins (namely folic acid, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12) can significantly slow down the rate of brain shrinkage in elderly people suffering from mild mental decline. The double blind controlled trial followed 168 volunteers aged 70 or over with mild memory problems. Half the participants took B vitamin supplements for two years, while the other half took placebos. The results were astonishing, the brains of those taking vitamin B tablets shrank at a rate of 0.76 per cent a year, while those taking placebo experienced brain shrinkage at a rate of 1.08 per cent a year. It was concluded that B vitamin supplementation helped lower the concentration of brain damaging homocysteine levels.

If you want to give your brain a boost, make sure your diet is high in B vitamins. B vitamins are found in foods such as beans, oats, spinach, brown rice, eggs, turkey, avocados, potatoes, lentils and whole grains. Even a simple step such as switching from white rice to brown rice can considerably enhance your vitamin B intake.

Always consult your naturopathic doctor before initiating a new regimen.

Wellness Naturopathic Centre, North Vancouver, BC
www.wellnessnaturopathic.com

The information on this website is for educational purposes only. It does not substitute for proper assessment and treatment by a licensed health care provider.

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B Vitamins Help with Stress, Mood and Sleep

B-vitamins are water-soluble vitamins that play an important role in immune and nervous system function, cell growth and metabolism, energy production, mental health and stress management. Since water soluble vitamins are not stored in the body, the excess being excreted in the urine, they can be quickly depleted from the body and must be replenished regularly. B vitamins are a group of eight individual vitamins, often referred to as the B-complex vitamins, including B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B7 (biotin), B9 (folic acid), and vitamin B12.

B-complex vitamins are essential for mental and emotional wellbeing because of their significant role in regulating the nervous system and affecting mood. The brain operates by millions of neurons (brain cells) communicating with each other. Neurons communicate with each other through neurotransmitters. Among these neurotransmitters, the neurotransmitter “serotonin” plays a complex role in the way you eat, sleep, behave, and has a great influence on your overall sense of well being.

Serotonin is sometimes referred to as the “happiness hormone”. It helps to regulate mood, anxiety, relieve depression and promote healthy sleep patterns. When the level of serotonin in the brain is changed, a person’s behavior is also altered. A normal level of serotonin promotes feelings of happiness, but sometimes during periods of stress, the body uses higher levels of serotonin to compensate for being overwhelmed. Accordingly, the levels of serotonin begin to drop causing irritability, depression, anxiety and sleep problems. By facilitating the function and manufacture serotonin, B vitamins help fight stress, insomnia, depression, nervous disorders and migraines among other conditions.

Melatonin is another neurotransmitter in the brain that helps regulate the body’s circadian rhythm, the 24-hour internal clock that plays a critical role in the time you fall asleep and the time you wake up. It is sometimes referred to as the “darkness hormone” because when it is dark, melatonin production is increased, and in the morning the production of melatonin drops considerably. Since B vitamins enhance the production of melatonin, they facilitate healthy sleep patterns.

When the body is exposed to long periods of stress, B vitamins become depleted. This can manifest as anxiety, irritability, restlessness, fatigue, headaches, sleeplessness and inability to concentrate. This is why it is important to replenish the body with B vitamins especially during stressful times. Since B vitamins tend to work together synergistically, it is best to take a well balanced vitamin B complex formula to maximize benefits.

Always consult your naturopathic doctor before initiating a new regimen.

Wellness Naturopathic Centre, North Vancouver, BC
www.wellnessnaturopathic.com

The information on this website is for educational purposes only. It does not substitute for proper assessment and treatment by a licensed health care provider.

Low Thyroid and Iodine

Hypothyroidism also known as underactive thyroid is when your thyroid gland is not producing enough thyroid hormones. Signs and symptoms such as dry skin, hair loss, achy muscles and joints, constipation, cold hands and feet, weight gain, fatigue, and depression may be present.

The two main hormones produced by the thyroid gland are T3 and T4. T4 is the most abundant thyroid hormone in the body which makes up 80% of body’s thyroid hormones and it is also the precursor to T3 which makes up about 20% of body’s thyroid hormones. T3 is the more active form of thyroid hormone. T4 acts more as a stored hormone, used as needed to be converted to active T3. In the case of an underactive thyroid, we often see T4 levels diminishing which in turn also eventually lead to low levels of T3. There are however other cases of hypothyroidism where there is sufficient levels of T4 but because it is not being properly converted to T3, we see low levels of T3.

Now that we have looked at how these two hormones work, the role of iodine in thyroid health can be better understood. Iodine is an essential mineral that contributes to the formation of thyroid hormones.  Three molecules of iodine are needed to make T3 and four molecules of iodine to make T4. This is why the thyroid gland is dependent on iodine in order to produce thyroid hormones.

Iodine can be found in seafood such as cod and sea vegetables such as wakame, dulse and nori. Kelp supplements are also available as a source of iodine.

Although iodine is useful for many cases of hypothyroidism, there are some cases (specifically if there is an autoimmune component involved) that may not require iodine. Always consult your naturopathic doctor before initiating a new regimen.

Wellness Naturopathic Centre, North Vancouver, BC
www.wellnessnaturopathic.com

The information on this website is for educational purposes only. It does not substitute for proper assessment and treatment by a licensed health care provider.

The Role of Digestive Enzymes in Gut Health and Overall Health

Proper digestion is one of the body’s most important physiological functions in maintaining overall health. The digestive system transforms food into energy for the body’s use by breaking down proteins, fats and carbohydrates into smaller, simpler, and more usable forms. Without this transformation, digestion and assimilation of nutrients is difficult if not impossible.

Digestive enzymes are extremely important in everyone’s diet, since they are responsible for the proper breakdown of major food groups, and eventually the absorption of vital nutrients through the intestinal wall. Fresh fruits such as pineapple and papaya are particularly rich in these enzymes. Pineapples provide the body with bromelain which helps in the digestion of proteins, and papayas contain papain, another enzyme involved in breaking down proteins.

Every day the pancreas secretes about 1.5 litres of pancreatic juice in the small intestine. This juice contains digestive enzymes which are essential for the proper digestion and absorption of food. These digestive enzymes secreted by the pancreas include lipases which help in the digestion of fats, proteases which digest proteins, and amylases which help in the digestion of starch molecules.

While healthy foods provide the foundation for optimal health and vitality, even the healthiest foods are of little use if they are not properly digested. When the pancreas is not producing enough digestive enzymes, the essential nutrients from food are not properly digested and absorbed leading to nutrient deficiencies and symptoms such as bloating and abdominal discomfort. For instance, insufficient amounts of lipase (responsible to break down fats) may cause diarrhea, fatty/floating stools or fat-soluble vitamin deficiency. Incomplete breakdown of carbohydrates can exhibit as gas, bloating, diarrhea and cramps. Other problems with incomplete digestion of food include the development of food allergies. In simple terms, an allergy is a hyperactive response of the immune system to certain substances which are foreign to our bodies. These substances are called allergens. Incomplete/partially digested protein particles may be considered by the body as allergens and thus can trigger some type of immune response. This is one of the reasons why supplementation with digestive enzymes can reduce and improve the allergy symptoms in patients with food sensitivities. Digestive enzymes can help with food allergies by improving digestion. Digestive enzymes taken with meals will supplement the body’s digestive enzymes to ensure a more complete breakdown of the foods.

If the body cannot extract all the nutrients from food, the overall health is at risk, and this can result in a wide range of diseases. That is why proper digestion is so important for the proper functioning of the body, and digestive enzymes become vital for overall health.

What is Bach Flower Therapy and How Can It Benefit You?

What are Bach flower remedies?

Bach flowers remedies/essences originate back to the 1930’s and were discovered by British physician and bacteriologist Dr. Edward Bach. In his pursue to treat the person rather than the disease, he researched and discovered 38 flower remedies to address and remove the emotional roots that give rise to physical manifestations of disease. The mind-body connection was of utmost importance in his treatment approach. In essence his belief was that the physical symptoms and discomforts are always preceded by emotional imbalances and worries. This belief very much resonates with what we see today as the root of different diseases. Studies after studies have linked different stress factors and traumas as the origin to many diseases. For instance, irritable bowel disease is strongly linked to anxiety and stress and often when these emotional disturbances have been treated, the disease itself also dissipates.

How do Bach flower remedies work?

The remedies are made from infusion of different wild flowers and plants. These essences help to restore the balance in the system and treat the individual on a holistic level. They gently remove negative emotional patterns and feelings of fear, worry, anxiety and sadness. This allows the body to revert to its natural state of peace and stillness which allows the body to heal itself of any physical symptoms/dis-ease.

Is it just a placebo effect?

No. The effectiveness of Bach flower therapy has been seen in both animals and children who are not susceptible to placebo effect.

What conditions would benefit from Bach flower therapy?

Both physical and emotional conditions would benefit from flower essences. Bach flower remedies are prescribed based on emotional disharmonies which often manifest as physical conditions. When these emotional states are harmonized, the physical components also heal. Some of the conditions treated with this therapy include anxiety, insomnia, depression, irritable bowel syndrome, headache, panic attack, menstrual problems, chronic fatigue and more.

How do I know which Bach flower remedy is right for me?

The remedies are chosen based on your current emotional state as well as temperament and personality traits. Each remedy is specific to a pattern emotions and personality characteristics; making Bach flower therapy a very individualized treatment. The correct remedy is determined through a consultation with a naturopathic doctor/other health care provider that is trained in prescribing Bach flower remedies.

Do Bach flower remedies have any side effects?

The remedies are gentle and safe for adults, children and pregnant women. In fact, Bach flowers work very well for pregnant women who experience any irritability, mood changes, or tension during their pregnancy or have anxiety and worrying around birthing. And since many herbs are contraindicated during pregnancy, Bach flower remedies are one of the treatments of choice during this time.

How Does Weight Affect Fertility? Looking at Both Sides of the Scale

A healthy body weight plays an important role in fertility. Being overweight or underweight can make achieving pregnancy more difficult mainly because of its effect on ovulation.

Excess weight can lead to anovulation (absence of ovulation) which often manifests as irregular menstruation. The good news is that losing weight can restore regular menstruation and bring about healthy ovulation whereby increasing the likelihood of pregnancy.

The same goes for those who are underweight. In this case, either anovulation or irregular ovulation can be an issue. With irregular ovulation, the uterine lining may not become thick enough for the fertilized egg to sufficiently implant and grow and even if it does implant, sustaining the pregnancy under such circumstances is difficult, making miscarriage a likely occurrence. In a study published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, women whose body mass indexes were below 18.5 were 72% more likely to miscarry in their first trimester.

The bottom line is that too much or too little body fat will disturb the normal hormonal balance and subsequently affect menstruation and ovulation. Reaching a healthy weight can help reverse these issues and create a healthy environment for conception to occur.

With a proper daily diet plan and lifestyle modifications, both these issues can be resolved. To lose the excess weight, following a tailored weight loss dietary plan with a focus on eating whole, unprocessed foods and regular exercise can make a big difference. A 5 to 10 % weight loss can greatly impact ovulation. For those individuals who continue to have a difficult time losing weight despite all efforts, further investigation is warranted as other conditions may be involved such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) which may be the cause of infertility and the difficulty behind losing the excess weight.

For those who are underweight, a healthy nutrient rich weight gain program will help bring about a healthier weight that supports fertility. Making healthy fats such as nuts and seeds, olive oil, and flaxseed oil part of every meal is an important part of this process.

Although weight is only one of the factors affecting fertility, it is an important one which should not be overlooked. Aside from optimizing the chances of pregnancy, having a healthy weight will also mean an advantage in all facets of overall wellbeing: more energy, better mood and less likelihood of pregnancy-related complications such as gestational diabetes, miscarriage as well as low birth weight.

How Do I Know if I Have A Cold Or if It Is Seasonal Allergies?

If you have had seasonal allergies for a number of years now, chances are you know it is related to change of season and exposure to seasonal allergens and that it has nothing to do with having a cold. But for some people, it may be a new phenomenon and seasonal allergies may be mistaken as a cold as there are some symptoms that overlap. Here are some ways to differentiate between the two.

Onset

Cold: any time of year, more common in winter time

Allergies:  during specific seasons usually spring, summer or fall, though it can be during any season or experienced all year around

Duration

Cold: up to 2 weeks

Allergies: months or as long as exposed to the seasonal allergens

Symptoms

Note some of these symptoms may overlap. The most common symptoms pertaining to each is listed.

Cold: mucous usually has a yellow tinge to it, sore throat (often), aches and pains (sometimes)

Allergies: itchy watery eyes, itchy/irritation in nose, clear and often copious amounts of mucous, sneezing usually repeatedly within a short time, tickle sensation in throat or nasal passages

Fever

Cold: sometimes

Allergies: never (unless have a secondary infection)

Family history

Individuals with seasonal allergies may have other family members with seasonal allergies/allergic tendencies

Knowing if you have the cold or seasonal allergies is important because the treatment for each is different.  Sometimes too, cold and allergies can occur at the same time. Severe seasonal allergies and subsequent mucous formation can be a breeding environment for bacteria to grow and lead to a cold.

Wellness Naturopathic Centre, North Vancouver, BC
www.wellnessnaturopathic.com

The information on this website is for educational purposes only. It does not substitute for proper assessment and treatment by a licensed health care provider.