Complete Natural Health Care

Herbal Tea – A Protectant Against CoVid

Herbal tea can be calming and soothing, but one herbal tea really stands out as a protectant during these CoVid times.

Stinging nettle tea, which is inexpensive and easy to make, is loaded with minerals and nutrients. It also contains plant compounds that block virus docking in the lungs, reduce inflammation and interfere with the whole series of bad biochemical events in viral infection called “the cytokine storm”.

I am making a strong infusion of stinging nettle daily. Here’s how to do it:

Take 1 cup dried stinging nettle and pour over 1 liter of boiled water. Steep for at least 2 hours and strain. Take 2 cups daily. You can add mint, ginger or lemon for a flavour boost.

From Dr. Baron:

I have been listening to several professional webinars to bring the best current information to my patients. Stay tuned for my clinical pearls.

Firstly, vitamins A, C, D, B2, B6 and B12, as well as minerals iron, selenium and zinc are all needed for a competent and balanced immune response.

Vitamin C is currently being used intravenously to treat hospitalized CoVid patients in hospitals in New York and around the world, for its remarkable anti-inflammatory action. Please ensure you are getting sufficient Vitamin C every day.

Vitamin D plays a huge role in preventing respiratory infection. Deficiency of Vitamin D can contribute to the uncontrolled inflammatory response that causes serious lung damage. Make sure you keep taking your Vitamin D.

If you have questions about your health, I am available for phone consultations. Please call me at 416-385-9277 to book your appointment or order your supplements.

Natural Tips to Strengthen Your Memory

We all have momentary memory lapses. If you’ve ever searched for your lost car in a parking lot, or stumbled for a name mid-conversation, you know that feeling of having an important fact right at the edge of your mind … somewhere. Of course, as we grow older, those temporary memory blips become more troublesome because we tend to wonder if we’re experiencing normal memory problems or bigger issues.

However, it’s important to remember (see what we did there?) that memory loss doesn’t have to be a normal part of aging. You can take many steps to protect your cognitive health. And no matter what age you are, improving your memory can improve your overall quality of life and health.

A Healthy Memory

That’s because having a healthy, well-functioning memory is vital to your well-being, as well as your sense of identity. Just consider how certain scents can trigger emotional responses and memories. That process (called your olfactory memory) is an important part of the way memory manages our perception of the past (and present). In fact, studies have shown that olfactory memories have more power to create a sense of nostalgia than visual memories.

There Are Ways To Improve Your Memory

If you want to improve your memory, it’s helpful to consider the biology of memory and what can affect it. Memories are stored in your hippocampus, which is considered to be “plastic” because it is constantly changing and influenced by many factors. For example, the pathways to the hippocampus tend to lessen with age. Hormonal changes can also affect the cells’ ability to regenerate. As a result, many things can affect the functioning of your memory.

Things That Can Affect Memory Function:

Anxiety

Stress can lead to physical changes in the brain that affect memory function. It’s easy to notice this process in daily life. When you’re overwhelmed, you can feel as if there simply isn’t enough capacity in your brain to take in new information or recall important facts and tasks.

Hormonal Changes

Shifts in hormone levels, particularly the drop in estrogen that can accompany menopause, can lead to molecular changes in the hippocampus that affect memory formation.

Poor Dietary Habits

Your brain needs some “healthy” fats to thrive. However,  saturated fat and too much processed, sugary food can impair memory, in part because too many sweet treats can lead to brain inflammation.

Smoking

You can add “poor memory” to the list of reasons to stop smoking. If you’re struggling with this habit (and let’s face it, quitting isn’t easy), talk to a healthcare practitioner.

Germs

Believe it or not, even germ exposure can affect your memory. Scientists have found that exposure to some viruses (in particular, the herpes simplex 1 virus that causes cold sores) can affect memory.

Prescription drugs

Many commonly prescribed drugs can actually harm your memory. Anticholinergics (often prescribed for cold symptoms, incontinence, or allergies) and benzodiazepines (used to treat things like anxiety and insomnia) carry particularly high risk.  As always, be sure to weigh the potential negative side effects of any medication carefully.

Watching too much television

It’s true: Too many Netflix “binges” can hurt your memory. One study found that watching 3.5 hours of television a day (which is sometimes just a warmup for serious bingers) can negatively affect memory function.

Sleep problems

Recent research suggests that sleep is vital to “consolidating” memories. In other words, our brains aren’t just resting when we’re sleeping, but actually forming and protecting the memories we create during waking moments. When we’re not getting enough sleep, we lose that important processing time.

Thyroid issues

Low levels of thyroid hormone can lead to memory loss and “fuzzy thinking.”

Ways To Help Your Memory

So, how can you help your memory? The list points to potential problems that can be managed. As well, exciting research in neuroscience is pointing to some simple solutions that can help your cognitive health.

1. Practice mindfulness and minimize distractions

Regular meditation can actually alter the physical structure of your brain. Improved blood flow and the creation of more neural connections are some of the paybacks from a regular meditation practice.

However, you also want to make sure your brain isn’t overloaded during the rest of your day. Did you know that we check our phones an average of every 12 minutes? That constant shifting of attention can impact cognitive processes. If you feel uncomfortable when you’re separated from your phone, it may be time for a little soul-searching.

2. Eat for brain health

A great deal of research supports the importance of a healthy diet in protecting brain health. In general, avoid overly processed foods and focus on:

●     Leafy greens

●     Berries and other antioxidant-rich foods

●     Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, walnuts and chia seeds

●     Turmeric (studies have found its anti-inflammatory properties can slow memory loss.)

●     Coconut oil (preliminary research points to a protective effect on memory)

3. Move for memory

Exercise helps more than your physical health. It can also boost your cognitive functioning. And it doesn’t take marathon workouts for exercise to have a positive impact on your memory.  Even short workouts can boost your recall powers.

4. Train your brain

It’s possible to train your brain to be more efficient. Try some of these simple “hacks” to improve your memory.

  • Repeat important information. For example, if you’re introduced to someone, repeat their name back to them. That helps “check in” new facts.
  • Play with mnemonics. You may have learned the names of the Great Lakes through the HOMES acronym. Why not create your own acronyms in order to remember lists of items?
  • Draw maps. If you have a lot of info to keep track of, try creating a map on a piece of paper. Put the central piece of information in the middle, then draw all of the relevant connections from that point.
  • Work with your environment. Don’t hesitate to place little reminders in strategic places. Some people have luck with post-it notes, but they can be more subtle, such as placing a photograph of a loved one who has an approaching birthday beside your bed.
  • Press replay. Immediately after an event, replay the important elements in your mind. That will help imprint the things you want to remember.
  • Create a memory palace. Try picturing a room that you know very well, and associating each object in the room with an important fact you want to remember.

Note that there are many programs out there that claim to help cognitive health and improve your memory. However, this is an unregulated industry so it’s important to do your due diligence before spending any money. And talking to a medical professional first is always a good idea.

If you’d like to discuss ways to support your memory, come into the office. Together we can pinpoint potential problems and work on lifestyle changes that will boost your brainpower!

 

Resources:

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-39354-4

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080311182434.htm

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/estrogens-and-memory-loss-in-women/

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/10/181019100702.htm

https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/two-types-of-drugs-you-may-want-to-avoid-for-the-sake-of-your-brain

https://www.ncbi.nl

m.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4330889/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4264616/

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2018/oct/14/the-lost-art-of-concentration-being-distracted-in-a-digital-world

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0166432816301437?via%3Dihub

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3541490/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28421789

https://www.jneurosci.org/content/35/43/14426

 

Distractions: What’s the Cost to Your Wellbeing?

 

Here’s a challenge: Can you read this article from beginning to end without being distracted? And how will any distractions affect your ultimate understanding of the subject? The answers might surprise you.

We tend to think that distractions are a normal part of life, but it’s often a valuable exercise to take a step back and consider the impact of constant interruptions. Why is this important? Like most people, you have a lot to accomplish every day. You also have goals you want to reach. Perhaps you want to work towards greater health, making a bigger impact with the work you do or improve your relationships. And not being able to focus can impact your ability to reach those goals.

The Hidden Cost of Distraction

Interestingly, many people argue that they are more efficient when they are busy and multi-tasking. And in fact, researchers have found that we do actually work faster when we’re faced with a lot of distractions. That may be because we subconsciously feel that we have to overcompensate for the interruptions.

Higher Anxiety

However, studies have also found that the cost of distractions affects something far more important than your productivity: your wellbeing. That’s because distractions make you feel more stressed and anxious. And higher levels of anxiety can affect every part of your body.

Lower Accuracy

As well, being distracted can affect your accuracy. It makes sense: Your brain can only handle so much input at a time. However, what is surprising is how little it takes to derail your focus and affect your accuracy. As little as three seconds of distraction (the time it takes to glance at your phone after it beeps) can affect your focus and, in turn, your accuracy.

Distraction Recovery Time

The effects of even short distractions like that are startling. One study found that it takes an astounding 23 minutes and 15 seconds to regain your focus after an interruption. Let’s put that in perspective for a moment. How often does your phone ring or beep while you’re doing something else? If it takes over 20 minutes to recover from every notification, how much of your day is spent in “distraction recovery”? And does the loss of that time affect your long-term health and your goals?

Altered Memory Function

Consider what happens when you are looking things up while you watch a movie. Do you really follow the plot as carefully? Do you remember the details of the movie as well? Science suggests that you don’t. In fact, researchers have found that the way we remember things has changed since the advent of the Internet. Our memory functions have been altered.

How To Prevent Distractions

If you would like to minimize the impact of distractions in your life, it’s important to recognize the distinction between a needed break and a distraction. A break can be a good time to recharge and clear your mind. We’re typically more productive after we have stepped away from work for a bit. Breaks that are planned usually provide an incentive to work hard. In contrast, a distraction can come out of nowhere.

Although we tend to think of distractions as out of our control, we can take steps to reduce them.

1.   Take Control Of Your Devices

Yes, we all rely on our phones – but do we really need to be notified every single time something happens? This is a personal preference and will depend on your situation, but it helps to be aware that you can customize your phone’s notifications. For example, parents are often reluctant to turn their phones off in case their kids need them, but you can adjust your settings so that all but a few specific contacts are muted.

It’s ok to let people know that, starting now, you may not respond right away to email or text messages. If you get a lot of email at work, a good habit is to set aside specific times for checking your email, for example once every two hours or in the morning and at the end of the day.

2.   Turn Off Your Notifications

It might feel like an adjustment at first to do away with the little red dot that tells you how much has been happening on Facebook, Twitter or in the news, but you’ll soon realize that you don’t miss anything important. You simply gain more control over when and where you get information. (It might help to remember that the ultimate goal of the apps on your device isn’t to keep you informed – it’s to make money by grabbing your attention.)

3.   Schedule Your Breaks

It’s important to take a break when focused on a lengthy task. You’re less likely to be distracted and stay on task if you schedule a bit of time to relax – see it as a reward if that helps. Regular breaks can actually make you more productive! However, those breaks should mindful ones, not filled with more things begging for your attention. So take a walk, meditate, or even have a quick nap. The important thing is to clear your mind.

4.   Train Yourself To Regain Focus

Now that you understand how long it can take to regain your focus after each distraction, make a conscious effort to get back on task faster!

Does The Way You Live Your Life Make It Harder To Pay Attention When It Matters?

It’s also important to look at how aspects of your lifestyle can affect your focus. If you’re rested and healthy, distractions may not impact you as much as they would otherwise.

Simple adjustments like introducing a 10-minute-a-day meditation practice, or going to bed 30 minutes earlier, can positively impact your ability to focus and improve your response to interruptions.

Outside Influences That Can Affect Your Focus

If you have tried all the tricks and still find it difficult to stay on task it might be a good idea to check in on your health. Many imbalances such as thyroid problems, hormonal imbalances and nutrient deficiencies can lead to “foggy thinking” and slow response times.  The good news is, we can help you to uncover these issues with a proper health assessment that includes lab tests.

How are distractions affecting your health? It’s something to think about.  if you have been making efforts but still find it harder to focus than before – brain fog, forgetfulness, there could be more factors at play so give us a call!

Resources

https://www.ics.uci.edu/~gmark/chi08-mark.pdf

http://www.yalescientific.org/2013/05/is-google-ruining-your-memory-the-science-of-memory-in-the-digital-age/

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/mental-downtime/

Is Alcohol a Detriment to Your Health?

 
A glass of wine with dinner. A beer after a hard day of work. It’s not hard to integrate an occasional drink with a healthy lifestyle. Or is it?
 
In recent years, we’ve read that red wine is rich with antioxidants, and that an occasional beer can raise “good” cholesterol. But results from a new study suggest that even moderate alcohol consumption – the kind we tell ourselves is healthy – may actually be detrimental to our health. In other words, the much-heralded health benefits of drinking don’t outweigh the risks. As a result, there is no safe level of alcohol consumption.

A recently published research study looks at data collected in almost 700 studies, spanning 195 countries and territories. Some of the findings are startling:

●  Alcohol is the leading risk factor for death in the age 15 through 49 age group.
●  Alcohol use was responsible for 2.8 million deaths worldwide in 2016.
●  For women in particular, the health risks increase with age. Alcohol was responsible for over 27 percent of cancer deaths in women over 50.

The authors of the study are firm in their conclusion: “By evaluating all associated relative risks for alcohol use, we found that consuming zero standard drinks daily minimizes the overall risk to health.”

In other words, the only safe amount of drinks is none at all. This finding differs from many earlier studies, which often concluded that moderate drinking was the best approach.

Why did this study reach a more decisive conclusion than previous examinations of alcohol’s effect on health? Several factors come into play. This study was careful to consider the ways they measured consumption. For example, researchers looked at regional variations in alcohol consumption that could be attributed to things like tourism. In addition, the study looked at alcohol’s impact on 23 different health-related problems. For some of those problems (such as heart disease), mild alcohol consumption had a positive effect. But that positive effect was balanced by a greater negative impact on other health issues. Cancer is a strong example of this.

What does this mean for you? If you drink, should you stop? Alcohol consumption is a very personal decision. This study looked at the picture, worldwide. It was not studying individuals, but rather analyzing vast amounts of data previously collected, specifically looking at the risks for the 23 health issues. That data was conclusive. But it’s up to you how you apply it to your own life. This latest study can’t, for example, tell you if it’s OK to have some wine for New Year’s given your own unique genetics and other lifestyle factors.

One thing is clear: If you’ve told yourself that drinking is healthy, you may want to reconsider that rationale. That doesn’t necessarily mean you must immediately quit. However, in deciding whether or not alcohol is something you want in your life, it’s best to be realistic about the health risks.

If you’re wondering about alcohol, talk to a healthcare practitioner. And be upfront about your drinking during the visit. Many people under report how much they drink, but it’s best to be honest. You want to have an open discussion about all of your health concerns. Remember that healthcare providers aren’t looking to judge you: they want to work with you to create your best life.

You also want to look at your own medical history and perhaps check out more specific studies. For example, another recently published study concluded that alcohol is the biggest controllable risk factor for dementia. If you have other dementia risk factors that are out of your control, such as a genetic history, you may want take action on the things you can control.

Similarly, if you have a history of depression, consider alcohol’s impact on mental health. If you are trying to control your weight, the extra calories of alcohol aren’t going to help. Alcohol can also lower your judgment and keep you from making your best decisions.

Whenever you’re confused about a health issue, the best approach is to consider it from a sample study of one: yourself. That means talking to a healthcare provider about your own personal history and choices and your current health concerns. We can help you sort through all of the information you face every day and figure out what’s best for your unique body- in fact we are experts in doing just that! Give our office a call, we are here to help!
 
Sources: Source #1 Source #2 Source #3