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Supplements: good or bad? Are they a total waste of money, or do we actually need them? (more…)

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Our quality of life is greatly determined by how we feel every day. If we feel stressed and tired everyday, our quality of life will reflect this general feeling. An endless to-do list and deadlines can get us feeling like we’re in a rut with no way out. And this, of course, doesn’t even take into consideration any other conditions or situations we may be dealing with on top of our daily life challenges.

If all our time is taken up with these preoccupations, there is no space left for cultivating health happiness. These things don’t happen overnight; they are the result of daily practices that create these outcomes. This means that the most powerful way to change this is by changing how you live each day. As Aristotle wisely said:

“We are what we repeatedly do.

Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

 

Health and happiness, just like excellence, are the outcomes of habits.

Now, starting new habits isn’t always the hard part; maintaining them is the hard part. This is why we have a hard time maintaining New Year’s resolutions. They say it takes 21 days to create a new habit, and 4 months to solidify it. So if you want to create new habits, you’ve got to be committed for the long run.

Here are four things to remember when you are creating new habits. Use all of these, and you will be much more likely to be successful!

Figure out what works for you

Has anyone told you that they’ve been trying out this new diet and it’s working great, so you hop on board just to find out that it doesn’t work for you at all? The same applies when it comes to creating healthy habits. We are all unique, so we must all find what works for us. Of course, there are a few habits like drinking enough water and getting enough sleep that we all need to solidify, but when it comes to other habits such as exercise, nutrition and relaxation, we have to try them out different ones to find out which ones work. Remember that creating a habit should challenge you, but it should also be enjoyable.

Give it a fair chance though, try something out for a couple of weeks before deciding if you like it or not.

If you’re interested in creating a habit of deep breathing, you can use this heart to guide you and keep you focused!

via GIPHY

Set small, attainable goals

If you want to create a new habit, set yourself a goal you can maintain. For example, if you want start exercising regularly, start with a goal of exercising two to three times per week. Once you’re comfortable with this, increase the frequency to four to five times per week, and so on.

The logic behind this is based on the internal reward system. When you achieve a goal, your internal reward system is activated and you produce endorphins. These make you feel good about yourself and motivated to keep going, so you’re more likely to continue keep up your new habit. With the exercise scenario, if you set yourself the goal of exercising twice in the week and you end up exercising three times, you’ll feel great about yourself and motivated to keep going.

On the other hand, if you set a goal and don’t reach it, you feel quite disappointed in yourself and will want to give up. Keeping the same example, if you set yourself the goal of exercising five times in the week and only exercised three times, you’ll feel disappointed in yourself and won’t want to continue with this new habit as it leads to a negative outcome, even the amount of exercise is the same as in the first scenario.

Start your day off right

Creating a new habit can be hard as it requires you to do something that doesn’t feel natural to you. This means that you need to consciously make the effort to practice your new habit every day, or every couple of days, until it becomes second nature to you.

A little trick to make this easier is to start each day off with a healthy habit to get you motivated to keep going for the rest of the day. If you put it off until the end of the day, you’re more likely to put it off for tomorrow, or even worse, next week. If you get it done first thing in the morning, you can cross it off your list, you’ll produce those endorphins as you’ve reached your goal, and you’ll feel good about yourself for accomplishing an important task.

Find a supportive community

Having a person you trust or a supportive community backing you makes it much easier to carry through with your new habits as you’ll have support and motivation to keep going.

Tell someone about your new habits and goals, and get them to join your help keep you accountable. If you’d like, you can also join the My Soul Challenge Facebook group to keep you motivated. You’ll find new challenges to try and a community of people who are motivated to create great habits so they can feel their best and reach their greatest potential!

Click here you join: https://www.facebook.com/groups/142793173079789/

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Inflammation is a major player in all chronic diseases. Acutely, inflammation has 4 symptoms: redness, heat, pain and swelling. It’s the body’s normal healing response to injury. When it becomes chronic is when we run into health problems.

Whether we look at cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, autoimmune conditions, dementia, arthritis or weight loss, inflammation is always a factor. On blood tests, we can measure is a CRP (C-reactive protein), which is a general marker for inflammation. But even if it isn’t elevated on a blood test, it doesn’t mean there isn’t any inflammation in your body. 

Here are my top 10 tips to bring your inflammation down:

1. Turmeric

This is the strongest natural anti-inflammatory we know. Traditionally used in Indian cuisine, this delicious spice brings down inflammation, supports the liver and is a good anti-oxidant. I like adding it to rice, to a smoothie or enjoy it as a turmeric latte or golden milk.

2. Fish

offers important anti-inflammatory fats – omega 3 fatty acids. We need these for brain health, cardiovascular health, skin and hair health, joint health and mood. Countless studies have shown the benefits of omega 3 fatty acids over and over. You’ll find especially high doses in salmon, trout, sardines, anchovies, mackerel and herring. Try adding fish to your diet at least twice per week or taking an Omega 3 fish oil supplement.

Ginger

 

3. Sugar

Tasty and addictive, it’s got to go. Sugar is a major cause of inflammation and removing it from your diet can change your life. This means all processed sugar, even artificial sweeteners. It doesn’t mean fruit, but fruit should be limited to 2 servings per day. It means cane sugar, coconut palm sugar, agave, white sugar, brown sugar. Maple syrup and honey may be kept in small quantities if needed. Stevia and xylitol may also be used sparingly. 

4. Fat balance

A balanced fat intake is crucial to keeping inflammation low. We all know how bad trans fats are for us, and those have be mostly eliminated from grocery store products. The fats I want to talk about here are the inflammatory omega 6 fatty acids we find mostly in meat.

I’m not pro-vegan or vegetarian, but I am pro good quality meat consumption. Micheal Pollan very wisely says: “You are what you eat eats”, which means that we consume whatever the animal we are eating ate – hormones, antibiotics, etc. The quality of the fatty acids in our meat also depends on what we are eating ate. If an animal is fed a corn or grain diet, the result will be a very high content of inflammatory fat. But if an animal is left to graze and eat it’s natural diet, the result will be meat that is much higher in omega 3 fatty acids and a much lower inflammatory fat content. 

So if you’re a meat eater, I encourage you to be picky about the meat you’re eating. Look for smaller butchers or farmers who can tell you exactly what their animals we’re fed.

5. Probiotic

The bulk of inflammation in our body comes from our digestive system. Many suggestions on this list revolve around food and the digestive system because it’s what needs to be targeted in order to heal inflammation. Probiotics are crucial in decreasing inflammation and usually, they need to be taken in a capsule form, for at least a while.

I like using food as medicine, but this is one of the places that food doesn’t always do the trick. If we look at traditional diets around the world, they all include a fermented food as a source of probiotics. Some examples include sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, yoghurt, kefir, fermented fish, etc. Now, it’s important to add some of these foods to our diet, but it’s also important to remember that our bodies are also under the pressures of stress, environmental pollution, medication, antibiotics and processed foods – which are highly disruptive to the gut flora or microbiome. This is why a higher dose of probiotics is important and can be achieved by taking a probiotic supplement.

Please note though that not all probiotics are the same and there are specific strains for specific conditions, so not just any probiotic will do. This is a whole topic on its own though!

6. De-stress

Chronic Stress is actually a huge cause of inflammation. Stress also actually causes cholesterol to go up. When we are under constant stress, our cortisol levels go up, our blood sugar gets out of balance and inflammation goes up. 

Most of us are under constant stress and we may think that we just have a normal amount of stress, but the fact of the matter is that most of us are under way too much stress – and we’re all in it together.

It’s important to have moments of “vacation” in your day. I call it this because the idea is to re-create the feeling of being relaxed and on vacation, even if it’s just for 10 minutes a few times per day. This is so important for our stress hormones to get balanced and for inflammation levels to come down. 

You could also try:

  • Breathing exercises
  • Yoga (especially Yin Yoga)
  • Herbal tea such as chamomile, passionflower or oat straw
  • Essential oils in a diffuser (my favourite for a sense of calm is Lavender)

I also love using herbal tinctures for this as they are much stronger and act more quickly. I make two blends that I find especially effective and use often: Focus and Ground.

7. Make sure you’re regular

Regular bowel movements means at least one per day. Anything less is considered constipation. It’s our body’s way of getting rid of what is no longer needed and when this stuff hangs around too long, the bacteria of our large intestine start to metabolize that matter and it’ll go back into our blood circulation. This leads to hormone imbalance, our liver working overtime and inflammation. 

If you’re not having regular bowel movements, you can try:

  • drinking more water
  • eating more fiber like psyllium husks, ground flax seeds or chia seeds
  • take magnesium citrate at night
  • move more
  • use a gentle laxative tea like Senna (reserve this for occasional use)

*If constipation is an ongoing concern, it should be addressed by a naturopathic doctor to get to the bottom of it.

8. Remove food sensitivities

Food sensitivities are a major cause of inflammation. When our body is sensitive or intolerant to a food, our immune system mounts a chronic low grade reaction to this food causing a whole myriad of symptoms, including water retention. Although we all react to different foods, the most common food sensitivities are gluten, dairy, eggs and soy. Once they are removed, our body has a chance to rest and the inflammation can go down.

I have 2 ways of identifying food sensitivities: Food Sensitivity Testing and an Anti-Inflammatory Elimination Diet Protocol. These are two very different approaches that lead to the same outcome – they are both very effective!

 

Dr Renée Purdy is a naturopathic doctor in Moncton, New Brunswick. In her practice, she values making health achievable and long lasting. She likes to explore the mind, body, spirit connection in health, and her approach includes using food as medicine, herbal medicine, acupuncture and lifestyle counselling. Her focus is on digestive health, hormone balance, thyroid health and adrenal fatigue.

 

 

 

 

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Change of season means beautiful colours, fall harvest, cooler weather and…. cold and flu season. In Chinese Medicine, each season is associated with two organ systems, and fall is a time associated with the Lung and Large Intestine. These organs represent the Yin and Yang and are closely related. (more…)

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September means a fresh start. After enjoying a slower pace, longer days and warm weather, the cooler mornings and night and return to school mean getting back to routine. This also means there are 4 months left before the new year. For me, September is always like a new year. I associate this with going to school for so long that September is engrained as a new beginning – new schedule, new routine and new motivation to make some positive changes. Here are a few tips to make the most of the September New Year:

Review your goals for this year

When we came into the new year, what were your goals? Have you accomplished them? Have you completely forgotten about them? Take an honest look at where you are compared with the beginning of the year. Sometimes we don’t even realize what positive changes we’ve made until we reflect back. Acknowledge your hard work and recognize where you need to focus.

Create a plan

Based on your evaluation, identify your (new) goals and the “why” – we always have to have a reason. Create a plan of how you’re going to achieve this goal. If it’s exercising more, put it in your schedule and commit to it. If it’s eating healthier, get on a nutrition plan that works for you. Make sure you have a way of knowing when you’ve reached your goal. I like to set a large goal with several smaller goals so I have some achievements along the way!

Plan ahead

Similarly to creating a plan, it’s important to plan ahead. Make a list of what you need to do – it’s much easier to focus on getting things done when they can be crossed off a list. A little trick is to do the hardest or most annoying things first to get them out of the way.

If eating healthy is part of your fall plan, make sure you plan you meals and snacks ahead of time. If there’s nothing healthy accessible, we’ll automatically turn to something unhealthy. This does take more time, so make it fun. Put some music or a podcast on, try a new recipe. Something I find helpful is to cook extra – I’d rather eat the same thing for a few days than make a whole new meal three times a day.

Find an accountability partner

If a tree fall in the middle of the forest with no witnesses to hear it, does it really make a sound? The same goes for our goals. If we don’t tell anyone about them, it’s much easier to drop off as no one will know if we don’t reach them. It’s human nature to work with others and when we have an accountability partner we have to report to, we are much more likely to stick to our goals and do what we said we would do. Find someone who trust and someone who is going to keep you accountable to your goals.

 

Fall is also a great time to get back on track with our health, the perfect time to finally get to those little things we’ve let slide. A diet clean-up, adrenal fatigue and immune system boosting and complete health reset are especially on our minds this time of the year. Now’s the time to get a head start and finish the year feeling amazing! 

Get some tips of how to help your body transition into the Fall.

 

 

Dr Renée Purdy is a naturopathic doctor in Moncton, New Brunswick. In her practice, she values making health achievable and long lasting. She likes to explore the mind, body, spirit connection in health, and her approach includes using food as medicine, herbal medicine, acupuncture and lifestyle counselling. Her focus is on digestive health, hormone balance, thyroid health and adrenal fatigue.

 

 

 

 

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I love coffee, most of us love coffee. It’s part of a daily ritual of starting the day and the calm before the rush of the day. To be completely honest, I could drink coffee all day, 3 or 4 cups of it, easy. I’ve spent lots of time living in Colombia and I love how they drink coffee after lunch and take a break in the afternoon to sit down and drink coffee. Despite this deep love for the drink, I stop myself from drinking too much and I periodically take long breaks from coffee. 

Ask yourself the question (and answer honestly): “Do I need coffee?” In other words, are you addicted to coffee? If the answer is yes, then you need to take a break from it. In fact if you have any of the following, you should take a break from coffee:

  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • PCOS
  • Hormone imbalances
  • Insomnia
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure

Coffee acts as a stimulant, stimulating adrenaline and cortisol production, giving us a feeling of alertness. Coffee also stimulated dopamine production, leaving us feeling motivated and ready to take on the day. These are all great, but if you’re body is already in adrenal fatigue and you feel like you can’t function without coffee, then it’s like using your credit card knowing you can’t pay it off – you’re getting energy your body doesn’t actually have. The result of this will be blood sugar imbalance with cravings later in the day and an afternoon crash. Coffee can also make PMS symptoms worse, increase breast tenderness associated with the menstrual cycle and worsen hot flashes. 

Sure, coffee has lots of health benefits and it’s actually a superfood. Coffee is full of antioxidants and runners use it before a race to improve their performance. These are great effects, but what’s even greater is to take coffee for these effects and not use it as a crutch.

 

Does giving up coffee seem scary? I know, trust me, I’ve done it several times and it’s just as painful each time. I would suggest weaning off slowly and even switching to decaf for a week. Check out the method I use here. Make sure you’re drinking lots of water to help prevent headaches during the few days of withdrawal.

Here are my favourite go-to’s when I’m not having coffee:

  • Green tea (still has caffeine but is balanced with L-theanine, which has a calming effect)
  • Turmeric Latte
  • Macaccino (by Organic Traditions) – this does contain coconut sugar though
  • Green smoothie
  • Hot water with lemon

Are you ready to take the challenge? Your hormones and adrenal glands will thank you!

 

Dr Renée Purdy is a naturopathic doctor in Moncton, New Brunswick. In her practice, she values making health achievable and long lasting. She likes to explore the mind, body, spirit connection in health, and her approach includes using food as medicine, herbal medicine, acupuncture and lifestyle counselling. Her focus is on digestive health, hormone balance, thyroid health and adrenal fatigue.

 

 

 

 

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Bowls are my ultimate go-to for a tasty and nutritious lunch or dinner. You may have seen them called Goddess Bowls, Buddha Bowls or Dragon Bowls, and just like the creativity in the name, the beauty of bowls is that you can create them the way you like. I love this flexibility as I usually like to prepare several of the ingredients in advance so I can use them for at least a few meals throughout the week. This way, I can combine them different ways without feeling like I’m eating the same thing over and over! (more…)

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If the title of this article makes you role your eyes, then you’re in the right place. Lets face it, the Internet is filled with lists and articles all saying pretty much the same thing about living a healthier life: eat more vegetables, cut back on sugar and processed foods, drink more water, get enough sleep, exercise more, etc. These are excellent tips and important health habits for us to adopt. But with access to so much information, why are we so unhealthy? Why are the leading diseases in the world ones of diet and lifestyle? (more…)

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I think it’s safe to say that I get asked this question on most days. Being diagnosed with a food sensitivity can be pretty devastating, especially when it’s a food you love. It usually means that a huge dietary overhaul is needed because the foods we are most sensitive to tend the be the foods our body wants the most (you can read more about this here). But to answer the question, yes, a food sensitivity can be healed. Let me explain. (more…)

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You may be wondering what’s the big deal with Vitamin B12 “shots” (injections). Lots of people are talking about them these days – I certainly get asked about them frequently. What are they good for? Do they really give you more energy? Do they hurt? Can anyone get them?

(more…)

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