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Today I would like to take a look inside the most toxic environment to your health.
This week (October 6 – 12) marks the time of observance for National Mental Illness Awareness week, making this the perfect time to discuss this topic.
At the head of all that we are is our brain, receiving, gathering, processing, and sending information and commands to and from every cell in our body.
Our brain is so much more than the primary structure keeping us alive, it is the very essence and center of who we are.
Its power is undeniable; at its command we think, we breathe. We walk, we talk. We are.
It watches over every function within our body. Working endlessly to make sure none of our body’s needs goes unmet.
So, what happens when toxicity takes hold of such a powerful thing?
While it is important to consider external toxicity that can no doubt have a severe impact on our mental health, I would like to shine light on a more discrete toxin. A darkness of the mind with effects further reaching and deeper rooted than any external thing we could encounter; our own thoughts.
Your internal environment is arguably the most impactful environment you are exposed to
Think about it for a second.
Your thoughts and attitudes have a direct influence on your body. A perfect example of this would be the effects on your body during an anxiety attack.
One simple thought can trigger your brain to manifest your feelings as physical symptoms.
Anxiety can present itself as observable symptoms like a racing heart, sweating, gut discomfort, high blood pressure, and whole body shaking.
This is why it is vital to take control of our thoughts and cultivate and internal environment that will help nourish your body.
Many of my patients have expressed to me their concerns about their struggles with issues like depression and anxiety. If you struggle regularly with mood imbalances, please know that you are not alone. In fact, 1 in 5 adults experience some sort of mental illness every year, and the numbers just seem to be rising.
With the physical and emotional toll placed on us daily to work, along with unrealistic displays of life all over social media, and many other things, it is far too easy to succumb to the toxic thoughts these influences can create.
Though difficult, I urge each individual facing difficulty to keep your chin up.
In times of emotional trouble, it is the most important to keep your outlook positive. Your thoughts have a very strong impact on your entire being and your internal environment is the one environment you are constantly exposed to.
So, try to keep in mind when under stress and pressure that your thoughts set the tone and direction for your life.
Your thoughts set the tone and direction for your life
You are what you eat and the same goes for what you think.
Your thoughts, your attitudes, your beliefs shape who you are. We must feed our minds with nourishing and holistic thoughts if we want to truly heal.
As energetic beings, we all have a frequency, a vibe if you will. This vibe sets the tone for what we receive and experience in life.
Albert Einstein once said, “Everything is energy and that’s all there is to it. Match the frequency of the reality you want, and you cannot help but get in that reality. It can be no other way. This is not philosophy. It is physics.”
Our thoughts are powerful.
They have their own vibrational frequency. When in states of lower moods like anxiety, fear, and depression, we vibrate at a much lower frequency than when we are experiencing joy, hope, and happiness. Remaining at a lower frequency for too long can attract illness to our bodies and prevent healing.
Raising the (vibrational) bar
Fortunately, just as there are a multitude of reasons throughout our lives to cause us to struggle emotionally, there are just as many solutions to help us battle back and take charge of our health.
I am a large advocate for counseling. Many of us have experienced trauma and damage to our psyche that can only be healed with the help of a professional. When dealing with feelings bigger than yourself, always seek professional help when trying to manage those deep and traumatic issues.
For day to day help, I’ve made a list of a few practices you can try to clear your energy and promote positive vibes along with seeking proper help:
🌿 Daily meditation – Living in the moment and practicing mindfulness allows you to constructively live through each experience that you have. Mindfulness is a practice that allows you to be aware of where you are and what you are doing without overreacting to the environment around you.
You can practice mindful meditation when feeling overwhelmed by following these simple steps:
- Taking a seat in a calm and quiet place
- Give yourself some time and set aside a few minutes dedicated exclusively to this process – 5 minutes is a perfect window for this exercise
- Notice your body and the sensations you feel in the moment
- Bring your attention to your breath. Follow closely the feeling of each inhale and exhale
- Watch your mind – your mind will wander, and that’s okay. Try your best to sit with whatever thoughts come to you and do not place judgment on them. Just simply be. Return your attention to your breath as often as you can until you’ve fulfilled the time goal you set aside for this practice
🌿 Getting outdoors and Grounding – In this case, it’s good to sweat the small stuff. Studies have shown that hiking and exposure to the great outdoors can significantly boost our mood and reduce feelings of depression and anxiety.
Nature possesses a pure energetic vibration. When you’re outdoors next, take off your shoes and feel the Earth beneath your feet. Earthing is a great way to realign your energy.
🌿 Get inside your head – Usually, the advice is the opposite when speaking of how to work through a depression spell, but I have noticed a significant impact how getting to know yourself as a cognitive function stack can help you notice stuck behaviors and reprogram your mind to look at the world in a new light. The Myers Briggs-based 16personalities personality test is a frequently used tool by my own staff when focusing on digging deep internally to get to the core of who they are and personally resolve their mental blocks.
🌿 Be your own friend – We are often our own worst enemy and biggest critic. When looking at ourselves with the lenses tuned to the ideals portrayed on social media and success stories around us, it is easy to succumb to thoughts of self-depreciation.
One of the greatest pieces of advice that has been shared with me in my lifetime is to treat yourself like your own best friend.
Would you criticize or put down your friend the same way you do to yourself? You have value, even if you might struggle to see it.
I invite you to be your own best friend. Grab a piece of paper and write down the qualities you possess as kindly as you would for a friend. Think hard and don’t stop until you have found 10 attributes that you love about yourself. Try reaching out to a friend for help if you have struggles getting started. Practice this frequently until you have truly learned how to love yourself.
While this is one of the most important places to focus on removing toxicity from your life, it is also one of the hardest.
Progress should be measured in small increments because even the most mentally happy and healthy still have room for growth.
We are all on our own journey to better health.
Have patience with yourself. You’re doing better than you think you are.
Mindful eating is a vital component of good health.
Outside of the obvious need of food we have as humans, what foods we give our bodies daily greatly impacts our wellbeing.
Nutrition is linked to many preventable diseases and chronic conditions like hypertension, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, and even some cancers. It also has been shown to largely affect our mental health.
This is why I am very conscious of what foods I nourish my body with.
I strive to make every meal as fresh, clean, and natural as possible. Whenever I can, I buy vegetables, fruits, and meats that are organically grown and raised.
So you could imagine my surprise when several years ago, I found my health declining and noticed an increase in my heavy metal toxicity. Despite all of my careful and conscious efforts to give my body the best support nutritionally, I discovered through testing that I had a toxicity of Thallium in my body that was off the charts.
Thallium is a heavy metal commonly used in things such as rat poison. Tasteless and odorless, it’s near undetectable without the proper tools. Thallium toxicity can present itself in the body as symptoms such as fatigue, neurological issues, nausea, digestive problems, and hair loss.
This example of environmental toxicity is not exclusively my own experience. Over the last several years, I have noticed a steady increase in thallium and other heavy metals in many of my patients, who like myself, strive to eat as holistically and as clean as possible.
My clean diet had not changed for years, so where did this rise in heavy metals come from?
I spent weeks searching every possible route trying to find exactly where the heavy metals were coming from. Finally, I found the source…
My favorite organic superfood had been poisoning me for years and I had no idea!
This discovery led me to look a little closer at the foods I eat. Through my efforts to determine the source, I learned that many organic foods might also not be as clean as we think.
If these foods are certified organic, where is the toxicity coming from?
Use of Fly Ash as a soil amendment in crops has become more prevalent in today’s agriculture. While it is believed to add many valuable nutrients to soil, the hazards of using such ash are hardly acknowledged. Research shows that despite the benefits of using fly ash as a soil amendment, the fertilizer also adds many heavy metals and toxins to soil that ultimately ends up absorbed by the crops it’s used to nourish.
Fracking is the process of injecting fluids at high pressure into rock deep within the Earth’s crust to create larger fissures in already existing faults to extract oil or gas. This poses as risk to our environment as it pulls to the surface many naturally occurring toxins that would otherwise remain settled deep within the Earth and contaminates the topsoil used to grow the crops we eat as well as our local water supply.
These are only two of many heavy environmental hitters that pollute the ground we use to grow our food. In our industrial world, there are many sources of toxins to be mindful of when considering from where you should purchase your food.
But which certified organic foods are affected by this pollution of heavy metals in our soils?
I’ve created a list of which foods to pay special attention to when making your selections.
The “organic” foods potentially containing higher amounts of heavy metals like Thallium include:
- Collard greens
- and other common greens
Now that you know what toxic hazards to look out for, what can you do to protect your health?
Shopping local is the first and best step you can take towards taking control of your health, but always ask your local farmers if their produce is grown in fields that have been fracked, or if the water used to irrigate those fields has been contaminated with fracking water. If their sources are clean, frequenting your local farmers market is a great alternative to shopping industrially grown produce at your nearby grocery store. There are many reasons to shop for your food locally, but the number one reason being that eating fresh, holistically grown food from your home environment is proven to be incredibly beneficial to your health.
Once I had determined my heavy metal toxicity was caused by all of the contaminated kale I was eating, I quickly took action to eliminate the source and chelate my body of the metals poisoning my body. Completely detoxing my body was not a quick process as I was severely toxic, but after following the proper chelation protocol, my thallium levels are back to normal. The body can truly heal if we practice full awareness of our environment.
Let’s talk a little more about hormones.
Hormones play an essential role in growth and development. They are fundamental for every cell to function, thrive, and age gracefully.
Hormones allow our bodies to balance metabolism, cope with stress, regulate our immune system, provide physical energy, amongst many other things.
For many of us, hormone talk is quite common. Often it can be a great source of tension, especially when we’re attempting to manage our hormones and the symptoms that come with hormone imbalance, like:
- Hot flashes
- Low libido
- Brain fog
- Weight gain
- Hair Loss
You may frequently see articles or journals about hormones with a stock photo of a woman either in pain or showing some sort of discomfort, alluding to the idea that hormones and their natural cycles are something to dislike or view in a negative light.
Certainly no one enjoys the symptoms that accompany hormonal imbalances and while it’s completely valid to feel as though something is wrong and begin making strides to address the problem, it’s also important to know that not all hormone fluctuations are bad.
As women, we naturally experience monthly fluctuation of hormones, as well as daily hormone shifts. Our bodies are meant to do this.
These fluctuations are part of the body’s natural rhythm — your body is always adjusting.
For example, when speaking about menstruation, estrogen increases during the first half of your cycle and progesterone increases during the second half of your cycle. All hormone levels decrease right before menstruation begins.
Similarly, estrogen levels are higher in the morning, progesterone levels are higher at night. Cortisol is also higher in the morning and decreases at night. These shifts serve a very specific purpose, but if they become even slightly off track, they can produce the less than desired symptoms of hormone imbalance.
That said, balancing hormones is a very complex art.
It’s hard to balance something that is meant to fluctuate, but we do the best that we can by adding or increasing the hormones that are missing, working to reduce the hormones that are being produced in excess, and supporting the liver in cleansing the body of toxic hormones.
So what can you do to show your hormones a little love and find balance?
Listen and reflect on what they’re trying to tell you.
Your hormones are special chemical messengers created by your body to bring purpose, structure, and life to every function in your body.
I find that it is helpful for my patients to journal and reflect during times of hormone imbalance. I recommend that they connect and reflect on each hormone and ask for their guidance in how to improve their health. I also suggest examining what might be missing in their lives. Everything is connected. A missing hormone could be an indication that something is missing in life — the young, lively, strong energy of estrogen and testosterone; or the calming, soothing, yin energy of progesterone.
Take the proper steps to help your hormones get back into alignment.
This means more than just simply recognizing that your hormones might be off track. It means diving deeper by testing your levels and learning exactly where your hormones are. It means supporting your hormones through natural hormone replacement therapy and assisting your liver in ridding your body of all of the toxins blocking your path to health.
By using this process of natural hormone treatments, detox protocols, and spiritual reflection, I’ve been able to help my patients maintain balanced hormones 80-90% of the time. However, they can’t be completely controlled, so 10% of the time they are naturally fluctuating — being guided by your body’s inner intelligence.
Remember that there’s no such thing as perfect.
This is true even for me. I do everything I can to keep my hormone levels balanced, but I also know that despite my best efforts, I will still retain some amount of water during my period. I will also experience breast tenderness and fatigue which is normal and natural as hormones change. I observe these symptoms and flow with them, rather than fight against them.
Embrace change and learn to speak your truth.
As women, our regular cycle gives us the opportunity to cleanse and start anew each month. Our menstrual cycles serve as an opportunity to let go, literally and figuratively — we release an unfertilized egg, but we can also consciously make an effort to let go of anything that isn’t serving us in life.
The hormone fluctuations that occur during our menstrual cycles also create space for us to feel more deeply, every emotion from sadness, anger, and frustration to joy and peace.
Instead of fighting these fluctuations when they happen, it’s important to simply ride it like a wave. There is a natural ebb and flow, with natural highs and lows.
Honor where you are in this flow when it happens.
Understand that there will be times when you’ll need to rest, often before your cycle. Make space for that. On days when you’re feeling clearer and more energized, honor that as well and use that time to work on things that feel meaningful to you.
If you’ve moved past menstruation and are menopausal, you can honor this cycle with gratitude — thank your body for everything it’s taught you from youth until now. Be grateful that you no longer have to experience monthly cycles and all that comes with them.
We live in a society where the natural fluctuations that occur in women’s bodies are often misunderstood and unappreciated, but as women it’s important for us to know that even if we have the most perfect lab work, we will still experience some of the symptoms that come with natural hormone fluctuations.
As women, it is those natural hormonal ebbs and flows that give us the sacred ability to create life and sustain it. This is truly a beauty beyond comprehension and often overlooked.
When we talk about being “balanced” it means letting your hormones be in the flow, not necessarily achieving a certain number on paper and making it stay there indefinitely. If you stop fighting against your hormones, you will find more fulfillment, peace, and joy as you flow with them. I’ve seen it first hand – the more we speak negatively of our hormones, the more we’re frustrated and angered by them – the more out of balance they become.
Honor your body and its wisdom, everything that occurs (even the imbalances) are there for a reason.
Your hormones are trying to tell you something. In order to hear their message, you must be still and listen for the subtle signals your body is sharing with you.
Though no matter how in tune you might be with your body, sometimes it takes a little more than your intuition to understand exactly what your hormones are trying to say without the proper translator.
This is why testing hormone levels is key to discovering exactly what their message for you is.
Hormones is a topic that we discuss frequently here at Vitality Natural Health Care. I’ve shared insights on adrenal and thyroid health as well as the how to be sure that your female hormone levels are optimal, but there still seems to be some mystery around testing.
I often find that when patients come to me their doctors haven’t run all the tests needed to fully understand what’s happening with a patient. Whether you’re being seen at Vitality or another health care facility, I want you to have the knowledge you need to advocate for yourself when it comes to hormone health.
These are the tests you need in order to gain a full understanding of your hormones:
A Comprehensive Thyroid Panel
The thyroid tests that your doctor orders should include the following:
- Free T3
- Free T4
- Reverse T3
- Hashimoto’s Antibody Panel
- Iodine Urine Test
Often thyroid testing will include some of these elements, but rarely all. This combination of tests will provide you with the information you need to know if your hormones are balanced but will also indicate if there is an autoimmune issue, like Hashimoto’s or Graves’ disease present.
Additionally, if there is cause for concern after testing, knowing your iodine levels will be helpful for treatment as this is sometimes a supplement used in treating thyroid issues.
Be sure to request testing of the free forms of T3 and T4, the active forms of thyroid hormone. Often doctors will order the total amounts, but as this includes both the hormones that are active and bound, it doesn’t provide a full understanding of the health of your thyroid.
Adrenal Saliva Test
To test the health of your adrenal glands I recommend a 24-hour saliva test. The saliva test measures your cortisol levels at four points throughout the day. Based on these measurements, we can determine whether or not your body is producing cortisol as it should be throughout the day.
In addition to testing cortisol, it’s important to also test DHEA and progesterone as they both impact adrenal gland function. When testing DHEA be sure the values that are being tested are the sulphate form of DHEA. This testing can be done using standard blood work.
Sex Hormone Panel
After 10 years of working as a naturopathic doctor, I’ve learned that there is more that goes into hormone balancing than meets the eye. In order to get an accurate understanding of hormone levels, it’s important to go beyond the standard testing and dig deeper.
With that in mind, these are the blood tests that I recommend and order when accessing sex hormones:
- Estradiol, estrone, estriol
- Testosterone, free and attached
- DHEA sulphate
These are baseline tests and fairly standard for men and women. The only difference is that I would also order a test of the prostate gland for men. When ordering these tests, it’s common for women to get them done at particular points during their cycle. For example, days 3-6 of their menstrual cycle when testing for estrogen and days 18-21 when testing for progesterone.
While there are definitely advantages to getting tested during those time frames, it is also possible to access hormone health outside of those time frames — there are certain values that are expected depending on the day of testing.
If the values of these tests are not optimal, I will order additional testing to ensure that you are able to metabolize and use the good forms of estrogen and testosterone as well as detox and remove the toxic forms.
These tests include:
- Sex hormone binding globulin
- Estrogen Metabolism
- Dihydrotestosterone (DHT)
- Methylation Panel
In addition to these tests, I often like to assess whether my patients are aging well as this is related to hormone health. The testing that can give me an accurate picture of this is:
- IGF-1, a growth hormone
- FSH or follicle stimulating hormone
- LH or luteinizing hormone
Hormone balancing is an art and one that I know well after 10 years in practice. Through following this testing path, I’ve had such great success with helping my patients learn to understand and love their hormones.
If your doctor is only ordering the baseline tests, they are missing valuable information, which means you are missing valuable information. Hopefully, the information here will give you some of the tools you need to advocate for yourself and your health.
General Wellness | 0 Comments
As we begin to understand our health and what makes our body happy, vacation or any kind of travel can present some unavoidable challenges. That’s why when I’m looking to reset and replenish myself, I choose energizing vacation destinations. So while relaxing by a pool in the hot sun for days with bottomless mimosas may sound enticing to some, I can guarantee that it will most certainly leave you in need of another vacation to recover.
It’s important to note that wellness on vacation doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Personally, I love to indulge in food I don’t typically eat, or have an occasional cocktail, but it’s all about moderation. So when I want to eat clean food, be in nature, be active, and most of all, relax, I go to one of my three favorite wellness-approved vacation destinations.
Sedona is a place that’s well worth the trip whether you’re lucky enough to live close by or if you’re coming from far away. Energetically, this is the most activated vortex in the world. We all have a field of energy and when we are in a place that’s in alignment with that energy it’s extremely healing.
- Hiking the red rocks, there are low and high-intensity hikes perfect for any fitness level
- Meditation and prayer
- Moon and sungazing
- Disconnect from devices
- This is an amazing location for healers and energy workers—I always do a massage at Enchantment!
- Mariposa: Latin-inspired cuisine with a stunning view of the red rocks. All of the food and drinks are absolutely amazing.
- Mii Amo Cafe: This is a farm-to-table style restaurant that’s located at Enchantment spa. They use organic, locally sourced, delicious, ingredients. It’s truly one of my favorites!
Rocky Point or Puerto Penasco, Mexico
Whenever I’m in need of an ocean getaway, I love going to Rocky Point on the Sea of Cortez in Mexico. It’s just a few hours from our home and it’s so worth it. The ocean is incredibly cleansing, and not only are the beaches astoundingly beautiful, but there is so much to do here. We buy our produce beforehand and rent a condo so we can cook our own plant-based meals. When I want to indulge in a cocktail, I use clean, clear alcohol like vodka or gin, with lots of herbs and soda water.
- Swimming in the ocean at Encanto Beach
- Yoga on the beach
- Floating in the ocean—healing for not only your mind but also your nervous system and the salt is incredible for your body and skin
- Beach walks morning and night
- Cooking—here’s a link to my favorite refreshing and cleansing cabbage salad
Staycation At Home
Going away can be stressful, between the planning and packing, I often prefer to do a staycation instead and spend the weekend at home. I like to stock up on fresh, locally sourced fruits and veggies, turn off all of my devices, and take the weekend to relax without any obligations. I cannot stress enough how important it is that your home is always a sanctuary of comfort. Feng shui is key to creating this, I also suggest investing in quality, cozy bedding, and organizing your space so that your home is always a relaxing place you look forward to.
- Trying new recipes and cooking things we don’t typically make like paleo and gluten-free pizza
- When we’re not in the mood to cook, we order in from Flower Child
- Long walks morning and evening
- Swim and sit by the pool
- Find a good book—currently reading “Toxic: Heal Your Body From Mold Toxicity, Lyme Disease, Multiple Chemical Sensitivities, and Chronic Environmental Illness” by Neil Nathan.
It’s important that when we take a break from our daily routine, we make an intentional effort to replenish our mind, body, and soul. Wellness, while we travel, is just as important as wellness in our day to day lives, and if you can incorporate just a few of the tips I’ve shared, it will make your transition from vacation back into your everyday routine that much easier.
Digestion is a big issue for many of my patients. This can be difficult to regulate in your daily life, let alone while you travel.
Bloating, constipation and gas are common after sitting for an extended period of time, or while on vacation and indulging in new food, alcohol, or even a different water source. Another issue I see in my patients while traveling is anxiety and I find that these two conditions are often linked.
Here are a few of my favorite tips for common issues while traveling:
Water, water, and more water. I can’t stress enough how important it is to stay hydrated. Most digestion issues stem from not enough water (which is common after traveling on an airplane) and can clear up quickly with proper hydration.
- Stay especially hydrated a few days before you travel rather than after.
- Find a reusable water bottle that is NOT plastic. I like stainless steel or a glass bottle will also do!
Probiotic For Regularity:
A probiotic can help strengthen your gut flora and regulate your immune system. When the gut is unbalanced with unhealthy levels of certain bacteria, you are more susceptible to diarrhea and other health problems. Taking a daily probiotic can help keep your gut in check.
- Flora Max: Our clinic’s #1 best selling supplement.
- It’s vegetarian, gluten and dairy-free and contains 100 billion CFU per capsule.
- No refrigeration necessary so it’s great for traveling.
- Take one capsule per day.
Magnesium For Constipation:
Constipation is common when traveling and can cause a lot of discomfort.
- Breathing exercises like this one called “Breath Of Fire” is great for easing anxiety that can often trigger constipation.
- Papaya is another fiber rich food known to relieve constipation, and its seeds are anti-parasitic, so they’re great for adding to a smoothie.
- Mag Citrate: A magnesium supplement we carry that’s great for promoting regular bowels and relaxing the nervous system.
- Take 2-4 capsules at night.
Prevent & Treat Food Poisoning
New cuisine is fun to try, but it can also cause your body stress when you’re not used to consuming it.
- Hista-X: A histamine blocker that protects against exposure to foods you may not typically eat.
- These enzymes break down food in the digestion track and help prevent and treat an intestinal infection.
- Take two capsules a day.
Sun exposure is high in the summer and skin protection is crucial. There’s nothing worse than a sun burn on your first day of vacation. Too much sun is not only bad for your skin but it is also very dehydrating.
- Always wear a hat, preferably one with a wide-brim.
- Wear proper sunblock (SPF 30 or higher) that protects against UVA and UVB—I love this all-natural one from Coola.
- Apply and reapply sunblock LIBERALLY every two hours. You should use about a tablespoon on your face, which sounds like a lot, but that is what you need to make it effective.
As always, remember to have fun while you travel. Embrace the culture, take care of your body and trust the process.
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