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Iron: the most common nutritional deficiency in women

December 4, 2017
iron deficiency

The most common nutritional deficiency in women is iron, as most women and people who menstruate lose blood each month. In fact, iron deficiency is the most common cause of heavy periods. Iron is a necessary part of our body as it transports oxygen throughout the body, and helps with thyroid production.

As mentioned, you’re at risk for this deficiency if you experience heavy periods. If you use a cup to track blood loss, anything over 80mL is considered a risk. Similarly if you are changing pads or tampons every 2 hours or less, you are at risk for deficiency. 

Signs & Symptoms of an iron deficiency

An iron deficiency can lead to many symptoms including:

  • Mental and physical exhaustion

  • Hair loss

  • Brittle nails

  • Mouth ulcers and oral tongue 

  • Headaches

  • Paleness

  • Shortness of breath

  • Cold hands and feet

Testing your iron status

Finding out your iron levels is very simple. A doctor will run your serum ferritin levels (the storage form of iron), and ensure that they are optimal. Depending on if you choose to supplement or increase dietary sources of iron, your ferritin levels may take more than 3-6 months to improve. 

Food sources of iron

There are two types of iron – heme and non heme. Heme iron is found in animal products, such as meat – and is generally better absorbed. While non-heme is found in plant-based products like lentils and leafy greens. Iron is best absorbed with vitamin C. So if you’re going to make yourself a kale salad, squeeze some lemon on top! Dairy can actually inhibit iron absorption, so try to avoid pairing these two. 

Moreover, if your iron levels are quite low, it’s usually best to supplement with a quality iron product. Iron bisglycinate is a highly absorbable and is quite gentle on the stomach.

Final Thoughts

If you are experiencing heavy periods and are noticing any signs and symptoms of iron deficiency, getting your iron tested and ensuring that it’s optimal (not normal!) – it would be a great idea to get your ferritin levels tested! 

If you love learning about your hormones and your period, be sure to sign up for my monthly newsletter called The Flow for great and informative content like this. 

Sugar, a carb of many names

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November 2, 2015
56NamesofSugar

November is National Diabetes Month. Why is this important? Well more than 60% of Canadians are overweight or obese, thereby increasing their diabetes risk. Moreover, not only have diabetes rates doubled over the past decade, it’s been estimated that diabetes and its health impact will cost our nation about $16 BILLION dollars by 2020.

Diabetes can occur due to various reasons and can have various health impacts on the body, but studies have shown that the best way to prevent and treat diabetes is through diet and exercise. So before you get up to take a walk and enjoy the beautiful autumn weather, let’s talk about sugar – the seemingly biggest perpetrator of this disease.

Sugar, a carbohydrate, can come in many forms, and go by many names – 56 in fact. Oftentimes it’s one of the top 3 ingredients in processed foods – and will occur more than once on food labels. One of my family members started to change their diet (which is wonderful), and proceeded to purchase products that where advertised as healthy. However, a simple look at the ingredient list was shocking as sugar (in its many names) was found multiple times in the list.

I’m privileged to have sat through many hours of nutrition class to learn about vitamins and minerals, types of fat, optimal proteins, and the different names of sugar. Many people don’t have that luxury – making it incredibly important to learn about what you are buying and eating to help make the best and healthiest choice for you and your family.

My primary message is this: Question what you eat and drink – is this something you can reproduce at home? (where you have better control over the ingredients). Analyze the ingredients list (if there’s one readily available). I like to indulge in a sweet treat (read: chocolate + peanut butter), every now and then – but I try to do so in moderation. Have you though of incorporating more whole foods into your diet – since added sugars can be found in so many forms in packaged and processed foods.

For more information, please watch this video below. I personally love TED videos, and this educational piece is no exception. And if you love to read, may I suggest this article that breaks down the various forms of sugar.

Whole Body Detox

December 30, 2015
whole body detox, detox guide, naturopath toronto, toronto naturopath

We all know that the liver is our main detoxification organ. But did you know that the body has 6 detoxification organs in total? Today I’m introducing and taking you through each organ, and how you can support it’s detoxification process!

Skin

The skin is the body’s largest organ and has a variety of functions including excretion. Waste products that are water-soluble can be eliminated through the sweat glands. When we exercise, our circulation and lymph move, our breathing rate increases, and we consume more water in the process. My favourite way to sweat is via app!

Lungs

Our lungs are exposed to many toxins on a daily basis – from indoor and outdoor pollution to cigarette smoke. A mucus lining from the nose to the bronchi protects the lungs. As toxins become trapped on the mucus membrane, hair-like structures will constantly move the dirt and toxins back up the lungs to be coughed up or exhaled. Deep breathing from the belly is a simple way to get fresh oxygen into the lungs and exhale unwanted toxins.

Lymph

The lymphatic system is part of both the circulatory and immune system, as it contains many lymphatic glands, nodes, organs, and vessels. The vessels also carry lymph fluid throughout the body. Its main function is to cleanse toxins and protect our bodies from invaders. The lymph will in fact work to carry the waste away from the tissues and into the bloodstream where it then passes through the spleen. The movement of lymph fluid relies on our muscles and joints. When it becomes stationary, it can affect immunity. An easy way to help lymph fluid circulate is by dry-brushing the skin – start at the feet and move up towards your heart.

Liver

The liver is the body’s main detoxification organ, as it’s involved in over 400 enzymatic reactions. The liver filters everything (good and bad) that happens to be in our blood. The liver begins its function at ‘Phase 1 Detoxification,’ where enzymes and nutrients are used to neutralize toxins so they become water-soluble. At the ‘Phase 2 Detoxification,’ amino acids will attach to the toxins rendering them harmless and help guide them out of the body. The toxins will then permanently leave the body through the colon or kidneys.

When we are exposed to more toxins than normal, the liver may become burdened and becomes ineffective at doing its job. Castor oil packs over the liver can help absorb nutrients, remove toxins, and stimulate circulation. Keep in mind that if you are pregnant or on your period, castor oil packs should be avoided.

Intestines

As food travels from the stomach to the small intestine, the latter will absorb nutrients while letting the wastes and toxins pass to the large intestine and colon. Sometimes, toxins can actually stick to the colon. Fibre can pull the stuck toxins off the colon wall and help permanently eliminate them from the body. Thus, increasing our fibre intake in the form of fruits and vegetables is a great idea. If you have issues with your digestive function, please consult your health care provider before increasing your intake of fibrous foods as they may aggravate symptoms of conditions like inflammatory bowel disease.

Wonder what your stool is telling you? Check out this infographic!

Kidneys

The final organs associated with detoxification are the kidneys. They function to remove wastes (including waste from our liver) which have passed through the bloodstream. Water is a key ingredient to key function as it clears waste out of the body and keeps the kidneys healthy. Thus it’s critical to drink enough water (skip the dehydrating caffeinated and alcoholic beverages) to help the kidney work optimally.

Squeezing the juice of half a lemon in your morning glass of warm water will help stimulate the liver, as well as encourage the kidney to rid the body of toxins.

Final Thoughts

Detoxification doesn’t need to be difficult, in fact it can be incredibly easy when you have the right support! If you’re looking for the best detox supplements, book an appointment with a Naturopathic Doctor!