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5 Tips to Have a Healthy Summer!

Relax. Refresh. Renew

Summer vibes are in the air. The sun is feeling warmer and the nights are getting longer, which we must take advantage of. Beach days, pool parties, BBQ fun and late night summer breezes is sure to put us in a “chill mood”…or at least it should. Let’s make sure that you are not “too chill” this summer, where your health goals fall to the wayside…

The truth is, there is never a good time to stop taking care of yourself. Your body will always remind you to get back on track before it’s too late. I see too many people get into bad habits over the summer and have regret once it is over, hence my motivation for writing this blog. Prevention is the best medicine. Let this read act as your warning 😉

Here are a few things to stick to. I call them my non-negotiable health actions.

  1. STAY HYDRATED: I cannot emphasize enough the importance of drinking pure water. If you are unsure how much you should be drinking, I will tell you MORE than you already are. Take your weight in lbs and divide it by 2. This is the amount of water in ounces that your body needs to maintain optimal function. Now, for every cup of coffee/tea/alcohol you drink, you must drink an extra 2 glasses (16 ounces). Take some time to do the math and ensure you are drinking enough water. The other thing to consider is water lost through perspiration. If you are active in the sun and sweating, you must add more water to match the deficit. Dehydration is a risk factor in the summer months. Headaches could be your first sign. Don’t take this risk lightly.
  2. EXERCISE DAILY: With the weather being nicer and days longer, it is natural to want to be out more and to have a bit more energy. Use these summer days to commence or continue an exercise routine. Some outdoor activities for you to try: bike rides, hikes (choose different locations to keep you engaged and exploring new terrain), tennis, basketball, rollerblading, outdoor runs, walks, and any sport that you love to play. Some of my favorites are soccer and tennis. You can be sure to find me on the soccer field and tennis court! With the extra calories burned while being active, you can enjoy a few treats without the guilt.
  3. KEEP SUGARS/CARBS TO A MINIMUM: Bathing suits, crop tops, dresses, shorts and tanks all reveal more skin than winter months. A sure way to cut weight and bloating is to minimize sugars. Try to cut out all refined sugars, breads, pastas, baked goods, pop etc. These foods can be consumed occasionally, if you desire, but not a daily basis. You will feel lighter and more confident in your clothes if you do this during the summer.
  4. ALCOHOL NEEDS TO BE LIMITED/AVOIDED: Are you someone who drinks a beer a day or a glass a wine a day? Are you someone who binges on the weekend or at parties? Ask yourself why? Any amount of alcohol in the body creates stress in the liver and other organs, and gets metabolized as sugar. From my experience, alcohol intake, at any rate, can increase weight gain, bloating and increased fatigue. Drink responsibly and be aware of alcohols’ negative impact on your well-being.
  5. PROTECT YOURSELF FROM THE SUN: The allure of having bronze, sun kissed skin seems tempting. The sun today is much more damaging than 20 years ago. Sun burns increase your risk exponentially of getting skin cancer. Please invest in some SPF 60 and be sure to apply this everyday, even if you are not directly in the sun. Catching rays while driving is a thing. If you are going to be outside for extended periods, wear a hat. If you have sensitive skin, please wear protective clothing to ensure that you won’t get burned. Rates of skin cancer are on the rise and no one is immune. Please do your best to protect yourself from the harmful effects of the suns damaging rays. Your future self will thank you! BONUS * Best way to prevent aging prematurely*

Hope these 5 tips help keep you healthy this summer. If you require a bit more motivation, feel free to reach out to set up an appointment. I am available throughout the summer. I am happy to help you feel your best!

In good health,

Dr. Jen Cisternino, ND

416-301-3477

Have you explored “adrenal imbalance” as a cause for your health concerns?

Each and everyday we are calling upon our adrenal glands to help us cope with the wide arrange of physical and psychological stressors- work demands, raising a family, lack of sleep, poor nutrition, excess caffeine consumption, dieting, unresolved emotional stress etc.

Let me be clear about what these glands are. In the human body, we have two adrenal glands. They are triangular in shape and located above the kidneys. These glands help the body cope with stress and among the many hormones that are released by the adrenals, the most commonly known is cortisol.

In addition to cortisol, a lesser known fact is that the adrenals also secrete sex hormones like progesterone, testosterone, estrogen and DHEA. When a woman enters menopause, the severity of her symptoms are often linked to the health of her adrenal glands. If a woman’s adrenal glands are healthy and balanced, she will experience minimal symptoms in the transition. Those women who have long standing adrenal imbalance, tend to suffer greater symptoms like hot flashes, vaginal dryness, mood changes, weight gain, sugar cravings etc. I see this pattern a lot in my practice. Recommending adrenal support in these cases has shown to improve symptoms of menopause while eliminating the need for hormone replacement therapy.

The adrenal glands also affect sleep, energy, temperature, stress coping abilities, mental clarity, immune system function, hormones, libido, food cravings, blood pressure and weight management. As a result of their multiform effects, there can be many signs and symptoms of adrenal imbalance that you may perceive. Our bodies are always trying to speak to us so that we may restore balance. Whether you listen or not is up to you. Be aware that there can be an overlap of signs and symptoms with other conditions, so adrenal imbalance may not be the root cause but it sure can be a contributing factor to your illness.

If you suffer with any of the conditions listed below, know that you can help yourself by getting your adrenal glands assessed and treated to improve outcomes: Arthritis, Allergies, Anxiety, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromylagia, Depression, Anxiety, Weight Gain, Insomnia, Hypotension, Hypothyroidism, Premature Menopause.

Adrenal insufficiency is often an overlooked condition by most medical practitioners. Naturopathic Doctors do a fantastic job at helping patients better understand the role of stress on the body and how to mitigate its effects and support the adrenals for overall well-being. I am hoping to shed some light on these amazing glands by writing this blog. If you would like to get your adrenal glands assessed and properly treated, reach out to book an appointment so we can get started.

In good health,

Dr. Jen, Naturopath

416-301-3477

Is exercise in your schedule? Let’s do this activity to help you

Exercising is by far one of the most amazing activities for health of the mind, body and soul. Surmounting research outlines the numerous benefits of activity, but why are most people not active? Here are some reasons as mentioned by my patients in my office: sedentary jobs, longer hours at work, lack of interest, fear of gyms, increased time spent on children’s extracurricular sports and increased time spent on social media.

Whatever the excuse, we must “make” time for exercise and keep it a priority in our lives. Did you notice that I used the word “make” instead of “find”? This is something I always tell my patients and coaching clients. If you don’t make the time, time will not be on your side.

Let’s do this now. Pull up your calender/agenda for the month. Look at windows of opportunity to get 30 minutes of activity in 3x per week to start. Mark it down. If you plan on joining a gym, you may want want to look at a 1 hour window 3x per week to take into consideration travelling time. I would try to alternate days so that you are spreading out your workouts every other day at least.

Are morning or evening workouts best? My answer is “when are you most likely to stay committed and have the time”. If evenings get busy and you find many interruptions and/or fatigue sets in, then you may want to choose early morning. If you are not a morning person then you may want to look at afternoon or evening workouts. I would warn you about working out too close to bedtime as this can raise cortisol levels and affect your ability to sleep. I would suggest leaving a 2 hour window between your workout and bedtime. Sleep is just as important for over all well-being.

Now that you have your 3x a week exercise times slotted, decide what you want to do in your time. I always tell my clients, if you like to box, then box. If you love to run outside, then run. If you love to dance, then dance. It is a well known fact that if you enjoy what you are doing, you are more likely to stick to it and get a positive endorphin release that leaves you wanting more!

Team sports is another great way to be active and social. I have always been involved in team sports, specifically soccer and let me tell you, playing 90 minute games is the best workout for my entire body! Team sports can keep you motivated and active (just say “no” to the beers after the game) 😉

Another thing I want you to do is let the people you live with know that this is what you are doing and that their support is going to go a long way. You may even have your family join you in this healthy change to being more active. This may also mean delegating responsibilities like dinner prep and clean up to afford you more time to get healthy.

You are all set! Let me know how you do. Commit to yourself. You will have no regrets! If you require any more help or have questions regarding exercise programs and weight loss, reach out. I used to be a personal trainer for many years and loved motivating people to push their limits, reach new goals and challenge their bodies for optimal results.

If you have been exercising for some time and notice no changes in your health or weight, there may be an underlying condition that needs to be assessed. I am happy to assess your hormonal health and thyroid function to ensure your body is balanced and you are not doing more damage by pushing yourself to work out.

Wishing you an active month ahead!

Dr. Jennifer Cisternino, ND

Is Instagram Good for your Health? 5 reasons I say “NO”.

Scroll Responsibly
@zen_drjen

Instagram scrolling has become a full time job/obsession for some people. I have cautiously used instagram to grow my following, but primarily I use it to educate and inspire people to take better care of their health. Thank you if you follow me.

For this weeks blog, I thought it would be a good idea to take a look at some things that may not be good for your health when it comes to instagram.

#1: Instagram can make you feel inadequate. This social media platform can be too much about “wanting what someone else has”. You may be knowingly or unknowingly in competition with others and yourself. This can create unnecessary stress on your mind and body. Now you may say that this does not bother you, but we are all humans and the effects of constantly seeing what others have and do can make you feel less than or wanting more, which breeds feelings of inadequacy. No matter how strong willed you think you are, it has some effect. This may make you feel anxious or even unhappy with your life. If you have made such a connection, then maybe it is time to “unfollow” some people who might make you feel this way and/or lessen the amount of time spent scrolling each day. I urge you to reconnect with yourself, your unique goals and stay focused on your well-being.

#2: Instagram has made people more sedentary. Instead of heading out to go to the gym or for a walk, most people have made instagram scrolling a hobby. Take a look at the daily average time you spend on instagram (found at top right of your profile page). If it is more than 30 minutes a day, I consider this excessive. Nevertheless, ask yourself if you can cut your time in half and use it to better your health and well-being. Some activities that I suggest are meditation, exercise, spending quality time with family and friends, picking up the phone and talking, going for a hike, reading, cooking healthy meals etc.

#3: Instagram can make one feel more anxious. As a culture, we have become technology obsessed. We want to be connected to the latest news, trends, videos and happenings in today’s world. This seems like a full time job. We already multi-task beyond our bodies capabilities and this can seem, for some, a chore to keep up and to be “in the know”. This can provoke feelings of anxiousness or addiction to the phone. Try taking an instagram holiday and see how you feel.

#4: Instagram scrolling can create back and neck pain. Looking down at your phone for an extended period of time can create improper posture and neck stiffness. If you suffer headaches and neck tension, you may want to consider how long you hold your head down in that position as it can be contributing to your pain.

#5: Instagram can affect your sleep. We all know the health damaging effects of not getting enough sleep. Most people like to scroll on instagram right before bed. Do you find you go to sleep later than you want because you are checking in with all your friends, celebrities and anyone else you follow? In addition, the bright screen on your phone decreases melatonin synthesis, which makes falling asleep difficult. I advise you to plan ahead and keep instagram out of the bedroom. The last thoughts before bed should be “Thank you God” not what other people are doing with their lives.

Now, I am not saying that Instagram is all bad, but I am noticing the damaging effects it can have on people when they are not conscious of their scrolling habits. I noticed some of the above effects personally and had to “check myself” to ensure that I was not affecting my health in any way. I hope this blog made you think about your instagram habits and if you find benefit in making any of the changes above, reach out and let me know.

In good health, Dr. Jen Cisternino, Naturopath

Could Stress be affecting your Thyroid Health?

Could Stress be affecting your Thyroid Health?
What you need to know to help you.

We are all aware of how chronic stress is bad for us, but most do not consider the implications it has on the thyroid gland specifically. Let me explain this process in your body.

Hormones are molecules released from one area of the body to carry messages to another area of the body. The main job of the thyroid is to produce the right amount of thyroid hormone to tell your cells how fast to burn energy. When the body is under stress, the adrenal glands are primarily responsible for producing the right amount of stress hormones that allow you to respond to stress.

When the body is under stress, the brain releases a hormone called corticotrophin-releasing hormone (CRH). This hormone tell the pituitary gland in the brain to send a message to the adrenal glands to make cortisol (the stress hormone). Both cortisol and CRH can inhibit thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) and the conversion of T4 to T3. Every cell in the body uses T3 for healthy functioning. A decrease in T3 would yield these symptoms:

Fatigue, cold intolerance, weight gain, memory loss, poor concentration, depression, infertility, hair loss and more

This inhibition of your thyroid hormone takes place quietly, “behind the scenes”, for years without causing overt symptoms and change to your TSH. This is why so many women are caught off gaurd when they are diagnosed with a thyroid disorder. Everything seems to be going fine until they wake up and feel horrible. The reality is, if you have been experiencing chronic stress for years, stress hormones may have been inhibiting your thyroid. Some patients that I see remain in a subclinical hypothyroid state. This is a state in which your lab results are within normal but you appear to have all the symptoms. Thankfully there are ways to reset your stress response and re-establish healthier connections between your adrenals and thyroid gland.

The common test I order for my patients is a Comprehensive Thyroid Panel: This involves a reading of TSH, T4, T3, rT3, Thyroid Antibodies.

Reach out to get tested, so you may begin my thyroid recovery program.

Thank you for reading. Knowledge is Empowerment!

Dr. Jennifer Cisternino, ND

416-301-3477

[email protected]

9 signs you need a Detox

I have learned and intuitively felt that spring was a great time to help your body rid itself of toxins and chemicals that may have accumulated over the winter months. For some people, not all, the winter season can bring inactivity and an increase in comfort foods, which is a breeding ground for toxicity. Listed below are some signs your body is asking for a detox.

Weight gain is an all too common complaint for most people. Weight gain is a sure sign you need a detox. With added weight, it is safely assumed that increased sugar, fat and processed foods have been consumed which is placing excess stress on the body and is being stored. A detox is always a fresh start and kick start to weight loss.

Headaches or “brain fog” is also a common sign that there can be an overload of chemicals/toxins in your body. I once had a patient that had symptoms of “brain fog” and found it difficult to function each day. I did a heavy metal test and found high amounts of the heavy metal mercury in her body. Once we cleared this out of her system, she reported increased clarity, focus and memory.

Constipation is another sign that your body needs a detox because it is not removing excess waste from your body. Sluggishness of the bowels can be rooted in many underlying conditions, and after this is sought out, regulating the removal of waste is important. A healthy detox is a great way to stimulate the bowels and push out toxic waste.

PMS and Hormonal Imbalance is another reason to detox. Did you know that a healthy liver promotes healthy excretion of hormones? Estrogen excess, a common hormonal concern, can be caused by an over-stressed liver and an excess of exposure to xenoestrogens- estrogen linked chemicals. Most women who come to see me with hormonal imbalances are started on a gentle cleanse to reset the body and it works beautifully.

Fatigue and Stress is a common complaint for most people. We live in a fast pace world. We have become busier and busier and most find it hard to relax and de-stress. Stress on the body places stress on the organs which makes it harder for detoxification. I attended a recent lecture on detoxification and the take home message for all the physicians listening was “make sure your patient is focusing on relieving stress for any detox to work”.

Irritability is another sign that you and your body are overwhelmed with toxicity. When the body is overwhelmed, it shows us signs that we need to take a break and take better care of ourselves, not only physically, but mentally and emotionally as well.

Skin Reactions (hives, acne, psoriasis, eczema) to name a few are sure signs that your body needs to detoxify. Did you know that your skin is the largest organ of elimination. Sweating is a great way to release toxic buildup. The more toxins you have, the more likely you are to suffer with skin problems.

Insomnia is another sign that your body is in need of a cleanse. Toxic buildup can sometimes create anxiousness and restlessness which can impact sleep. I had a patient come in with a complaint of insomnia and very little hope that it would ever go away. I put her on a 3 week detox regimen and when she returned to the office, post detox, she was amazed at how well she was sleeping.

Tics and Hyperactivity are signs that the body may be burdened with heavy metals. I have seen on several occasions, especially with children, that heavy metals such as aluminum and copper can affect the nervous system. With detoxification and removal of these metals, the body can restore balance and this is seen in the removal and lessening of tics as well as a calmer affect.

If you are interested in having yourself tested for Heavy Metals, we can get you tested with a Hair Mineral and Heavy Metal Test in the office. It is a very simple test, yet very effective.

If you have any of the concerns listed above and would like a detox, it would be my pleasure to meet you and help you.

Dr. Jennifer Cisternino, ND

416-301-3477