Episode 138: Top 5 Reasons Why You and Your Kids Need Iron

In this episode, Dr. Toni discusses why it’s so important for perimenopausal mamas and their kids to get enough iron. Iron deficiency is the most common micronutrient deficiency worldwide and is crucial for optimal energy, mental health, sleep and brain function. 

What is the Difference Between Iron Deficiency and Anemia?

Iron deficiency is a broad term and refers to low iron stores that do not meet the body’s iron requirements, regardless of whether anemia is present or not.

Iron deficiency anemia is when hemoglobin levels fall below the laboratory reference range. 

Iron deficiency without anemia is when iron storage falls below ideal levels, but anemia is not present. 

What are the Top 5 Reasons Why Iron is so Important?

  1. Reduce fatigue and increase energy
  • Iron helps move oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body and helps your muscles store and use oxygen
  1. Reduce heavy periods 
  •  low iron can impact your clotting and be a factor in your heavy periods, creating a vicious cycle
  1. Mental Health 
  • Being anemic can increase your risk of a mental health diagnosis and can increase your risk of experiencing an anxiety disorder, depression, psychotic disorders
  • Taking iron supplements if you’re anemic can reduce your risk of developing psychiatric disorders
  • Taking iron supplements of iron if you’re not anemic can decrease the risk of future mental health diagnoses
  • Anemic mothers were less responsive and had negative feelings towards their children than non-anemic mothers 
  • Low hemoglobin is associated with postpartum depression
  • Low ferritin is linked with more severe depressive and anxiety symptoms
  1. Brain and cognitive performance
  • Iron deficiency (with and without anemia) has been connected to poor cognitive performance in adolescents
  • Low maternal iron intake at the time of conception is associated with a greater risk of autism in the offspring 
  • Low iron intake during the second trimester has been shown to increase the risk of schizophrenia in the offspring by 30%
  • Infants born with low serum ferritin have been shown to have poorer recognition memory, poorer school performance, difficulty with planning and attention and a higher risk of cognitive and socio-emotional problems including anxiety and depression into young adulthood
  1. Sleep and restless legs
  • Being anemic can increase your risk of a mental health diagnosis and can increase your risk of experiencing a sleep disorder
  • Taking iron supplements if you’re anemic can reduce your risk of developing a sleep disorder
  • Restless Leg Syndrome is associated with low iron levels

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Iron Deficiency?

  • Pale skin
  • Fatigue
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Slowed growth and development
  • Poor appetite
  • Abnormally rapid breathing
  • Behavioral problems
  • Frequent infections
  • Unusual cravings for substances like ice, dirt, paint or starch

How can you Test your Iron Status?

Blood work can test for levels of:

  • hemoglobin (as part of the Complete Blood Count)
  • circulating iron and transferrin saturation – needs to be above 20%
  • ferritin (iron stores) – needs to be above 35

You can still be iron deficient if your levels of the above fall within the lab’s reference ranges!

How can you prevent iron deficiency in yourself and your kids?

  • Serve iron-rich foods – after beginning your baby on solids 
  • Don’t overdo milk
  • Enhancing absorption – with foods rich in acid like vitamin C (ascorbic acid), such as citrus fruits, cantaloupe, strawberries, bell pepper, tomatoes and dark green vegetables, or apple cider vinegar.
  • Consider iron supplementation – unfortunately, an iron-rich diet does not provide enough iron to correct iron deficiency or anemia
Food Source:Iron content (in mg Fe) per 100 g
Animal sources (bioavailability about 20%)
Liver (pork or veal)18
Dry beef9.8
Shells8.0
Egg yolk5.5
Beef fillet2.3
Trout2.0
Chicken0.7
Plant sources (bioavailability about 5%)
Wheat bran16.0
Sesame seeds14.6
Soy beans9.7
Lentils8.0
White beans7.0
Dried apricots5.2
Spinach (limited due to oxalate content)2.7
Whole grain bread2.4
Green beans1.0

Source: SPOG Pediatric Hematology Working Group

Today’s Mama Must Have:

Dr. Toni is a big fan of aloe gel to soothe the skin.

What’s Else is Happening?

Dr. Toni’s next HypnoBirthing session for expecting parents looking to decrease fear and anxiety to support their natural instincts around labour and birth is happening this fall. Join her at https://www.hypnobirthingcalgary.com/register

Join Dr. Lisa’s new Meetup group Wild Woman Adventures Toronto if you want to get out in nature, connect with other women and push yourself out of your comfort zone. Activities include: sunrise/sunset SUP, tree-top trekking, a new moon workshop and more!

Dr. Lisa’s Wild Collective in Fall 2022: get on the waitlist: wildcollectivetoronto.com

Email us or connect with us on  Facebook  and  Instagram

We’d love you to subscribe, leave us a review and a 5-star rating if you enjoyed this episode.

You can also support us by visiting our Patreon page.

Please tell your perimenopausal mama friends about us, too!

Stay safe and healthy everyone!

Disclaimer: The information provided is not meant to replace treatment with a licensed health care practitioner. It is for informational purposes only. Consult with a Naturopathic Doctor or other licensed health care professional to determine which treatments are safe for you.

Episode 137: Tired and wired? What you need to know about stress, cortisol and your adrenal glands!

In this episode re-release from June 2020, Dr. Toni and Dr. Lisa discuss: the benefits of some stress in your life; how stress becomes toxic; and how it impacts your libido, energy, mood, memory, immunity and more. Discover how to test for stress hormone imbalances and what you can do about is using lifestyle changes, meditation, exercise, nutrition, herbs and more.

In this episode, we cover:

  • What stress is and why you need good stress
  • How your adrenal glands work
  • What cortisol, your main stress hormone, does in your body
  • How you can test your adrenal function
  • How you can decrease toxic stress and the negative impact of stress on your hormones and health

Why is stress important to talk about?

  • There are downstream effects in body from stress, including hormonal changes
  • Stress is related to up to 90% of all illness 
  • Chronic stress is linked to the six leading causes of death in the U.S.: heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver and suicide
  • More than 75 percent of all physician office visits in the U.S. are for stress-related ailments and complaints

Your ability to handle stress can be impacted by: events in your childhood; genetics; and tendencies and learned behaviours from your family and loved ones.

How Some Stress Can Serve Us In the Short-Term

Stress can be both physical and emotional. Not all stress is bad!

Why do you have stress? You need it to survive!

If you came across a predator like a bear in the wild, the fight or flight response (sympathetic nervous system response) kicks in the release of adrenalin and results in:

  • Heart rate and blood pressure increases
  • Blood vessels dilate to increase blood flow to large muscles (arms and legs)
  • Pupils dilate to see more clearly
  • Blood flow to your core organs of digestion is shut down since it’s not a priority
  • Reproduction and fertility is on hold so your energy is focused on immediate survival

Ideally, stress is temporary, allowing your stress hormones to go down and your body has time to recover and repair.

When Stress Becomes a Problem

Stress can become chronic when you are presented with one stressful situation after another and don’t have time to recover. It is important to note that it can be triggered by perceived threats or actual threats. Stress can build up and be too much for your system to handle, especially if you’re experiencing a combination from different sources like:

  • Being stuck in traffic
  • Running late for work
  • Doing a presentation at work
  • Not getting enough sleep
  • Managing kids and home life
  • Dealing with sick kids or ill parents

Good stress has positive effects in your body!

When stress is very temporary and you’re looking forward to something that gives you “butterflies” in your stomach, like going for a job interview, writing an exam or going on a date, it can be a good thing for your body!

Good stress can:

  • trigger feelings of reward in your brain after it is over 
  • support your immune system by increasing heat shock proteins 
  • increase your wound healing ability and effectiveness of vaccination
  • increase your resistance to infection and cancer
  • reduce inflammation and allergic reactions
  • boost your energy
  • support your productivity (to a point)
  • control your sleep-wake cycle
  • regulate blood pressure
  • manage how your body uses carbs, fats and protein

Sources of stress can include:

  • Mental (worry, anxiety, depression, past trauma)
  • Chemical (medications, heavy metals, toxic chemicals, mold exposure, chronic bacterial or viral infection)
  • Physical (dehydration, vitamin deficiency, fasting, pain, injury, structural misalignment, lack of sleep, time zone change)

What are your adrenal glands and what do they do?

Your adrenal glands are triangular-shaped glands located above your kidneys that produce your stress hormones: adrenaline and cortisol (among other hormones as well).

  • Cortisol reaches its’ maximum level 15 minutes after a stressful situation occurs and:
    • Increases gluconeogenesis (increases blood sugar levels breaking down glycogen in liver)
    • Decreases insulin sensitivity
    • Decreases growth hormone
    • Decreases T3 thyroid hormone
    • Decreases your immune system and inflammatory response
    • Increases fat and protein metabolism

3 phases of the stress response curve: 

  • Alarm phase – adrenalin increases then decreases after acute stress
  • Resistance phase – cortisol increases and stays high with longer term stress, like work or school deadlines, car accidents, illness or death of loved ones
    • Can have you feeling hot and wired with issues like: 
      • Too much nervous energy and unable to wind down 
      • Feeling warm or hot
      • Sweating at night
      • Different parts of your body feeling red and inflamed
      • High blood pressure
      • Weight gain in the mid-section
      • Needing caffeine or sugar to increase your energy and keep going 
      • Needing alcohol to unwind in evening
      • Getting sick as soon as you relax or go on vacation
  • Exhaustion phase – cortisol decreases as you get into burnout
    • Can have you feeling cold and tired with issues like:
      • Fatigue and exhaustion
      • Feeling weak
      • Get dizzy upon standing
      • Experiencing low blood sugar
      • Dark circles under the eyes
      • Tongue and face appear pale and puffy due to retaining water

Are you stuck in the Resistance phase of the stress response curve?

How do you make the “Resistance” phase of stress tolerable instead of toxic?

  • Chronic stress can be manageable with enough personal resources and support system
    • Tend and befriend
    • Spending more time feeling zen and relaxed in the spa in your mind (parasympathetic nervous system) instead of staying in the emergency room in your mind (sympathetic nervous system)
  • Toxic stress can happen when you don’t have personal resources and/or support system to deal with it and can result in:
    • uncertainty and feeling lack of control
    • physical and mental illness

Your normal daily/diurnal cortisol curve:

  • Cortisol is highest in morning in response to morning light, giving you energy to get up and take on the day
  • It decreases over the day and has an inverse relationship with melatonin (your sleep hormone)
  • If cortisol is high at night, then melatonin can’t be properly produced and released by pineal gland

The World Health Organization (WHO) is bringing attention to the problem of work-related stress. WHO is updating its definition of burnout in the new version of its handbook of diseases, the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) which will go into effect in January 2022. The WHO:

  • specifically ties burnout to “chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed”
  • defines burnout as “feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and reduced professional efficacy.”

Chronic toxic stress causes your brain to change! 

  • It shrinks your hippocampus and impairs memory
  • It weakens the connections in your prefrontal cortex (your rational self) to decrease your concentration, focus, impulse control, decision making ability, regulation of stress response
  • It increases activity in your amygdala resulting in more hypervigilance, more sensitivity and reactivity to stress (like a toddler having a tantrum)
  • It induces cerebrovascular changes and increases: neuro-inflammation, oxidative stress and blood brain barrier permeability resulting in brain fog, mood disorders and accelerated aging of your brain tissue.

Other negative health effects from chronic toxic stress include:

  • Weight gain in midsection
  • Blood sugar issues and increased risk of diabetes
  • IBS including gas, bloating, constipation and/or diarrhea
  • Reflux and heartburn
  • Muscle tension and headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Reduced immunity
  • Mood disorders
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Lower bone density
  • Accelerated aging

How are your hormones impacted by stress?

  • You need the appropriate amount of cortisol for your thyroid to work properly
  • If stress and cortisol levels are high, you can’t make enough of your other sex hormones like testosterone and progesterone causing:
    • Low libido
    • PMS, menstrual cramps, headaches/migraines, irregular cycles

How do you find out what is happening in your body?

Testing for stress hormone imbalances includes:

  • Orthostatic hypotension
  • Pupillary response
  • Questionnaires like Identi-T Stress Assessment
  • Lab tests for adrenal function
    • Urine – DUTCH and CHI testing for cortisol production and breakdown plus other hormones, multiple samples throughout the day (4 or 5 point testing)
    • Saliva – multiple samples throughout the day (4 or 5 point testing)
    • Blood – cortisol AM is of limited value, best for testing thyroid function

How do you keep stress tolerable instead of toxic? How can you prevent burnout?

  • Keep a regular daily routine
  • Sleep – aim for at least 7 hours, avoid screens at night, use blue-blocker glasses 
  • Get enough natural light and sunlight during the day
  • Get in the right types of exercise at the right time of day, avoiding over-exercising
  • Avoid unhealthy coping mechanisms like alcohol, caffeine, sugar
  • Stay hydrated and consider adding pinch of salt in water
  • Practice mindfulness, meditation and journaling to reduce: worry, negative thoughts and rumination
  • Get therapy or counselling from a psychologist or psychotherapist. Also, take advantage of the Government of Canada’s free online mental health portal, Wellness Together Canada, to access free online mental health resources and support, including access to therapy, apps, meditations and more.
  • Talk to your Naturopathic Doctor or licensed healthcare practitioner about taking supplements such as: vitamin C, B vitamins, magnesium, adrenal glandulars, and adaptogenic herbs like: Siberian ginseng, ashwagandha, rhodiola, holy basil, licorice, maca, reishi, cordyceps, shatavari, schisandra.
  • Get outside: walking in nature and practice “Forest Bathing”.

Today’s Mama Must Have – 

Dr. Toni enjoys Traditional Medicinal’s Stress Soother Tea to relax and get into the “spa” state of mind. 

Dr. Lisa likes Traditional Medicinal’s Chamomile with Lavender Tea, and their Lemon Balm Tea to wind down in the evening.

Thank you for joining us today! 

What’s Else is Happening?

Dr. Toni’s next HypnoBirthing session for expecting parents looking to decrease fear and anxiety to support their natural instincts around labour and birth is happening this fall. Join her at https://www.hypnobirthingcalgary.com/register

Join Dr. Lisa’s new Meetup group Wild Woman Adventures Toronto if you want to get out in nature, connect with other women and push yourself out of your comfort zone. Activities include: sunrise/sunset SUP, tree-top trekking, a new moon workshop and more!

Dr. Lisa’s Wild Collective in Fall 2022: get on the waitlist: wildcollectivetoronto.com

Email us or connect with us on  Facebook  and  Instagram

We’d love you to subscribe, leave us a review and a 5-star rating if you enjoyed this episode.

You can also support us by visiting our Patreon page.

Please tell your perimenopausal mama friends about us, too!

Stay safe and healthy everyone!

Disclaimer: The information provided is not meant to replace treatment with a licensed health care practitioner. It is for informational purposes only. Consult with a Naturopathic Doctor or other licensed health care professional to determine which treatments are safe for you.

Episode 136: The Benefits of Taking Cold Showers and Plunges with Lisa Kricfalusi

In this episode, Dr. Lisa chats with Lisa Kricfalusi, of Stay Unbounded, about the benefits of cold water exposure. Did you know that you can use cold water to help boost your mood, immune function and metabolism? Dr. Lisa has been taking daily cold showers for over 1.5 years now and has definitely noticed an improvement in her focus, stress resiliency, outlook, immunity and body composition. Find out why there is almost nothing better you can do in two minutes that is more beneficial for your body than a cold water plunge!

Lisa Kricfalusi’s obsession with water and health started as a young girl swimming in lakes and pools in Ontario, Canada. Her affinity for water only started to grow as she began training nationally at ten years old. This led to an eleven year national swim career in synchronized swimming and traditional racing, eventually coaching provincially as well as nationally. Lisa graduated in 2013 with a Bachelor degree in Kinesiology and Health Science, then became a yoga instructor, breathwork facilitator, hydro therapist, and cold exposure therapist. Since graduating, Lisa has worked with organizations such as the Pan American Games, Red Bull Canada, Republic Live, Canadian Sport Institute of Ontario, Boys & Girls Club, Canadian Physical Literacy Boards and RBC Sports Committee. 

Lisa has been practicing cold exposure since she was a little girl, inspired by spending summers with her family in Finland. She has since developed a unique approach to cold exposure involving intention setting, breathwork, and a progressional practice ending on gratitude. Inspiring cold exposure communities everywhere, Lisa has made it her life’s purpose to dedicate herself to this work making this method available and accessible.

In today’s episode, we cover:

  • The benefits of cold water therapy and why shivering is good for you
    • Hormetic challenge
    • Mood elevation
    • Regulates inflammation
    • Increases immune function and metabolism
  • How to start your cold water therapy with cold water showers
  • The importance of defining your why or purpose behind cold plunging
  • How to use breathing and sound or music to practice your cold water therapy
  • The latest research showing what length of time required for you to get results
  • Who shouldn’t be doing cold water therapy
  • The importance of ending with hot water before bed and not practicing cold water therapy within 3 hours before bed

You can connect with Lisa on Instagram and Facebook @stayunbounded or email info@stayunbounded.com

Today’s Mama Must-Have:

Dr. Lisa is a big fan of this online vacation planner.

Lisa likes using a positive reward system of stickers to encourage good habits. 

What’s Else is Happening?

Dr. Toni’s next HypnoBirthing session for expecting parents looking to decrease fear and anxiety to support their natural instincts around labour and birth is happening this fall. Join her at https://www.hypnobirthingcalgary.com/register

Join Dr. Lisa’s new Meetup group Wild Woman Adventures Toronto if you want to get out in nature, connect with other women and push yourself out of your comfort zone. Activities include: sunrise/sunset SUP, tree-top trekking, a new moon workshop and more!

Get your ticket for Dr. Lisa’s 5-Day Virtual Cold Shower Challenge HERE! Starts Aug 8th and kicks off with a workshop held by Lisa Kricfalusi of Stay Unbounded!

Dr. Lisa’s Wild Collective in Fall 2022: get on the waitlist: wildcollectivetoronto.com

Email us or connect with us on  Facebook  and  Instagram

We’d love you to subscribe, leave us a review and a 5-star rating if you enjoyed this episode.

You can also support us by visiting our Patreon page.

Please tell your perimenopausal mama friends about us, too!

Stay safe and healthy everyone!

Disclaimer: The information provided is not meant to replace treatment with a licensed health care practitioner. It is for informational purposes only. Consult with a Naturopathic Doctor or other licensed health care professional to determine which treatments are safe for you.

Episode 135 – How Trauma May Be Impacting Your Parenting (and Your Life) with Jinelle Watson – Part 2

In part 2 of a 2 part episode series, Dr. Toni continues a conversation on the impact of trauma on parenting with social worker Jinelle Watson. They discuss triggers for experiencing trauma responses, automatic reactions that can impact parenting, and how guilt, shame and judgment can follow. Listen in to learn what therapy can look like and how you can take the first steps towards shifting your parenting and trauma responses.  

Jinelle Watson is a registered social worker who holds a Masters in Social Work with a clinical designation in Calgary, Alberta. She has been working in the field of mental health for over 8 years. During her pregnancy, she developed a passion for understanding the impacts of pregnancy and postpartum on gestational and non gestational parents and their families. With her daughter being born in 2020 she has developed a special level of empathy for life with a new baby during a global pandemic. Prior to the birth of her daughter in 2020, Jinelle specialized in sexual trauma therapy and she has built on this experience by completing her perinatal mental health certification. 

Jinelle’s approach to therapy comes from an anti-oppressive, and person-centered lens. She is experienced in supporting individuals and families through areas including but not limited to depression, anxiety, big T and little t trauma, PTSD, addictions, grief and loss, sexuality, gender identity, self-image and self-worth. Jinelle primarily uses techniques from Mindfulness Based Therapy, Sensor Motor based Psychotherapy, Art based therapy, Dialectical Behaviour Therapy, and Feminist Therapy.

In today’s episode, we cover:

  • Potential triggers for a trauma response
    • Including specific pitch, tone, level of sound, possibly created by one or more of your kids
    • Interactions with your own parents, especially if they are part of your support network as a parent
    • Social media and mainstream media
  • How your instincts and automatic default reactions can create different feelings, including shame, guilt and judgment
  • How you can use rupture and repair to shift how you parent 
  • The importance of giving yourself permission to make mistakes in parenting
  • How to find the right mental health professional for you 
  • The importance of safety and stabilization, in addition to processing and healing, in trauma work
  • The importance of not forcing therapy on yourself or your kids if they are not ready
  • How you get to decide your growth or gain from working on your trauma responses
  • The importance of being curious about your behaviour, thoughts, body sensations without judgment or analysis
  • How curiosity towards yourself can be the first step to increasing your window of tolerance
  • The importance of boundaries and saying no

You can connect with Jinelle at https://www.jinellecounselling.com/ for a free consultation or Moss Postpartum House on Instagram @moss_postpartum_house

Today’s Mama Must-Have:

Dr. Toni is a big fan of RuPaul’s Drag Race and their quote at the end of each episode: “If you can’t love yourself how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else?”

Jinelle finds building community to experience love and support from others essential. 

Dr. Toni’s next HypnoBirthing session for expecting parents looking to decrease fear and anxiety to support their natural instincts around labour and birth is happening this fall. Join her at https://www.hypnobirthingcalgary.com/register

Join Dr. Lisa’s new Meetup group Wild Woman Adventures Toronto if you want to get out in nature, connect with other women and push yourself out of your comfort zone. Activities include: sunrise/sunset SUP, tree-top trekking, a new moon workshop and more!

Dr. Lisa’s Wild Collective in Fall 2022: get on the waitlist: wildcollectivetoronto.com

Email us or connect with us on  Facebook  and  Instagram

We’d love you to subscribe, leave us a review and a 5-star rating if you enjoyed this episode.

You can also support us by visiting our Patreon page.

Please tell your perimenopausal mama friends about us, too!

Stay safe and healthy everyone!

Disclaimer: The information provided is not meant to replace treatment with a licensed health care practitioner. It is for informational purposes only. Consult with a Naturopathic Doctor or other licensed health care professional to determine which treatments are safe for you.

Episode 134: How Trauma May Be Impacting Your Parenting (and Your Life) with Jinelle Watson – Part 1

In part 1 of a 2 part episode series, Dr. Toni discusses the impact of trauma on parenting with social worker Jinelle Watson. They review how both big T and little t trauma can create different stress responses, and how the pandemic, hormone fluctuations and different aspects of parenting (hello, sleep deprivation!) can lower your window of tolerance. Whether you know you are experiencing the impact of trauma or are not sure, this episode is a must listen!

Jinelle Watson is a registered social worker who holds a Masters in Social Work with a clinical designation. She has been working in the field of mental health for over 8 years. During her pregnancy, she developed a passion for understanding the impacts of pregnancy and postpartum on gestational and non gestational parents and their families. With her daughter being born in 2020 she has developed a special level of empathy for life with a new baby during a global pandemic. Prior to the birth of her daughter in 2020, Jinelle specialized in sexual trauma therapy and she has built on this experience by completing her perinatal mental health certification. 

Jinelle’s approach to therapy comes from an anti-oppressive, and person-centered lens. She is experienced in supporting individuals and families through areas including but not limited to depression, anxiety, big T and little t trauma, PTSD, addictions, grief and loss, sexuality, gender identity, self-image and self-worth. Jinelle primarily uses techniques from Mindfulness Based Therapy, Sensor Motor based Psychotherapy, Art based therapy, Dialectical Behaviour Therapy, and Feminist Therapy.

In today’s episode, we cover:

  • What is little t and big T trauma
  • How little t trauma can impact you to a greater extent than big T trauma
  • The pros and cons of getting a diagnosis of PTSD
  • What it can look like to get counselling to address your trauma
  • How your personality can impact you might experience trauma 
  • What is the window of tolerance and how parenting, hormone fluctuations, sleep deprivation and the pandemic lowers your window
  • The different trauma responses you could experience, how you don’t anyways get to choose what you experience and how those responses are helpful
  • Why you can’t prevent trauma experiences and how helicopter parenting negatively impacts your kids
  • How to you can reduce how your kids experience trauma with communication
    • For more info on conversations with your kids about sex, see Episode 98

You can connect with Jinelle at https://www.jinellecounselling.com/ for a free consultation or Moss Postpartum on Instagram @moss_postpartum_house

Today’s Mama Must-Have:

Jinelle likes the Instagram account @kids.eat.in.color to support her kid’s nutrition.

Dr. Toni is a big fan of the grief-focused podcasts Healing with David Kessler and Here After with Megan Devine.

Dr. Toni’s next HypnoBirthing session for expecting parents looking to decrease fear and anxiety to support their natural instincts around labour and birth is happening this fall. Join her at https://www.hypnobirthingcalgary.com/register

Join Dr. Lisa’s new Meetup group Wild Woman Adventures Toronto if you want to get out in nature, connect with other women and push yourself out of your comfort zone. Activities include: sunrise/sunset SUP, tree-top trekking, a new moon workshop and more!

Dr. Lisa’s Wild Collective in Fall 2022: get on the waitlist: wildcollectivetoronto.com

Email us or connect with us on  Facebook  and  Instagram

We’d love you to subscribe, leave us a review and a 5-star rating if you enjoyed this episode.

You can also support us by visiting our Patreon page.

Please tell your perimenopausal mama friends about us, too!

Stay safe and healthy everyone!

Disclaimer: The information provided is not meant to replace treatment with a licensed health care practitioner. It is for informational purposes only. Consult with a Naturopathic Doctor or other licensed health care professional to determine which treatments are safe for you.

Episode 133: Is It Hot in Here?! What You Need To Know About Hot Flashes

In this re-released episode from 2020, Dr. Lisa and Dr. Toni are talking about a hot topic: hot flashes! Whether you call it a hot flash or hot flush, they can be an annoying and uncomfortable symptom that you may start to experience in perimenopause. We discuss: what hot flashes are and why they happen; the potential causes and triggers for your hot flashes and night sweats; and what you can do about them so you don’t have to suffer.

According to research, anywhere from 35%–50% of perimenopausal women suffer sudden waves of body heat with sweating and flushing that last 5–10 minutes.

What is a hot flash?

A hot flash or vasomotor flush can vary from feeling slightly warm to more like a fire from the inside out. They can come on rapidly and last anywhere from 1-10 minutes. 

You may get them anywhere from a few times per week to more than 10 times during the day and night. They can be combined with visible flushing with your chest, neck and face turning red, with a little bit or a lot of sweat.

Hot flashes often continue for a year or two after menopause, but in up to 10% of women, they persist for years beyond that. They can disrupt your sleep, which can worsen: fatigue, irritability, anxiety, metabolism, weight control and immune system function.

Why do you get hot flashes?

Although hot flashes have been studied for more than 30 years, no one is absolutely certain why or how they occur. The Centre for Menstrual Cycle and Ovulation Research (CeMCOR) at UBC attributes hot flashes to “estrogen withdrawal”, as their research has found that hot flashes closely resemble an addict’s drug withdrawal due to the hormonal associations and brain effects seen.

Your level of estrogen while in perimenopause is fluctuating and can be unpredictable. When your estrogen level drops from normal to low or high to normal, it can trigger a hot flash in your body.

Estrogen drops can trigger the release of your stress hormone norepinephrine, as well as other stress hormones and brain neurotransmitters. Norepinephrine narrows the range of body temperature where you feel comfortable (also called your thermoneutral zone) so you’re more sensitive to both heat and cold. 

A hot flash is a vasomotor symptom where your blood vessels dilate to release more heat because of the narrowing of your thermoneutral zone.

Causes of hot flashes can include:

  • Blood sugar imbalances that can trigger your stress hormones, resulting in you feeling hot and wired
  • High stress and cortisol levels that can worsen night sweats
  • Inadequate detoxification through your organs of elimination or emunctories. Things that can make your hot flashes worse by negatively affecting your body’s ability to detox include:
    • smoking, constipation, being overweight, not exercising and not sweating (via exercise and sauan usage)
  • Triggers are different for each women. It is useful to keep a hot flash journal, tracking your potential triggers such as:
    • Hot drinks, caffeine, alcohol
    • Sugar, spicy foods, garlic
    • Nightshades like tomatoes, eggplant, peppers
    • Perceived stress or stressful situations

What can you do about your hot flashes?

  • Avoid your known triggers
  • Manage your temperature
    • Turn your thermostat down, put on a fan or A/C 
    • Sleep naked or in loose-fitting breathable cotton
    • Under-dress during the day and wear layers
    • Use a breathable weighted blanket like ZonLi, Chilipad or gel pillow
    • Drink cool or ice water
    • Use an essential oil spray with peppermint, clary sage, geranium
  • Manage your stress
    • Have stress-releasing time EVERY DAY! Be proactive to improve your response to stress
      • Meditation, yoga, deep breathing, singing, humming
  • Get a sweat going during the day with exercise, sauna or a hot bath
  • Eat nutritious food to:
    • Balance blood sugar levels – see Episode 10: What to Eat? Nutrition Tips for Hormone Balance
    • Include liver-detoxifyng and phyto-estrogenic foods
      • Ground flaxseeds (can add to chia pudding, smoothies, cereal, yogurt)
      • Organic fermented soy like miso soup or tempeh
      • Brassica vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts
  • See a Naturopathic Doctor for hormone testing and individualized treatment including:
    • Herbs like maca, vitex, black cohosh, sage, red clover, pueraria (Thai kudzu), hops, milk thistle, dandelion, artichoke
    • Nutrients like berberine, plant sterols, N-acetyl cysteine, magnesium, vitamin E, L-glycine
    • Acupuncture
    • Homeopathy
    • Bio-identical hormone creams
      • Natural progesterone has been shown in recent research to be safe and effective for hot flashes and night sweats, avoiding some of the adverse effects of classic estrogen therapy or synthetic estrogen with synthetic progesterone (progestin)

Today’s Mama Must Have:

Dr. Toni has a favourite oat and fruit bar recipe for a quick and easy breakfast or snack that Frankie loves:

Dr. Toni’s Banana and Fruit Breakfast Bars

  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 1 cup chopped apricots, cranberries, dates and/or prunes
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup sunflower and/or pumpkin seeds
  • 1 cup milled flax seed
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Mash bananas and combine with fruit and oil. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Spread onto a pan or cookie sheet and flattened with a fork. Bake at 375oF for 10-15 minutes until slightly browned.

Dr. Lisa found a tasty gluten-free beer called Glutenberg to enjoy in moderation on hot summer days.

Thank you for joining us today! 

Email us or connect with us on Facebook and Instagram. We’d love you to subscribe, leave us a review and a 5-star rating if you enjoyed this episode.

Please tell your perimenopausal mama friends about us, too!

You can also support us by visiting our Patreon page.

Stay safe and healthy everyone!

Disclaimer: The information provided in this presentation is not meant to replace treatment with a licensed health care practitioner. It is for informational purposes only. Consult with a Naturopathic Doctor or other licensed health care professional to determine which treatments are safe for you.

Episode 132: How to Work Through Overwhelm and Guilt as a Caregiver with Stephanie Muskat of Compassion in Caregiving

In this episode, Dr. Lisa chats with Stephanie Muskat from Compassion in Caregiving how to navigate the challenges that come along with looking after a child, parent or loved one with a chronic illness or medical diagnosis. Stephanie shares ways to move through the guilt and overwhelm, along with support systems and programs out there for caregivers themselves. She also reviews creating an active care plan to do before a loved one becomes ill or passes away to prevent unnecessary stress and decision fatigue.

Visit Stephanie’s website here: https://www.compassionincaregiving.com/

Follow her on Instagram @compassionincaregiving

Episode 131: Is Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (aka SIBO) the Cause of Your IBS?

In this episode, Dr. Lisa and Dr. Toni are discussing a potential root cause for digestive symptoms like bloating and gas called Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth, otherwise known as SIBO. 

SIBO = Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth

-abnormally large numbers of commensal bacteria are found in SI

-bacteria is fed by carbohydrates and produces excess amounts of gas – hydrogen, methane, hydrogen sulfide

-bacterial overgrowth interferes with proper digestion and absorption of nutrients

-gas interferes with proper bowel motility, resulting in constipation and/or diarrhea

Up to 84% of people with IBS also have SIBO, so it’s thought to be an underlying cause 

Symptoms of SIBO can include:

  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Abdominal pain/cramps
  • Constipation, diarrhea or alternating
  • heartburn/reflux
  • Nausea
  • Food sensitivities
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Joint pain
  • Brain fog
  • Malabsorption issues like anemia, chronic low ferritin (iron stores), fat soluble vitamin deficiency like vitamin D deficiency
  • Skin issues like eczema, rosacea
  • Inflammatory conditions like pancreatitis, interstitial cystitis, prostatitis

What causes SIBO?

  • Conditions affecting intestinal motility and damage to MMC (migrating motor complex), including thyroid issues, concussions, head injuries, chronic high blood sugar
  • Acute gastroenteritis from food poisoning or “stomach flu”
  • Use of proton pump inhibitors (PPI) acid inhibiting medications
  • Low stomach acid, pancreatic enzyme and bile secretion
  • Ileocecal valve dysfunction, resulting in reflux of colonic bacteria into small intestine
  • Complications of abdominal surgery, including gastric bypass for obesity and gastrectomy to treat peptic ulcers and stomach cancer, postoperative loop, stricture or fistula

How do you know if you have SIBO?

  • IBS symptoms get worse when you take a probiotic, especially with a prebiotic
  • IBS symptoms might get better after antibiotic treatment for another infection
  • Symptoms worse after eating more fibre – veggies like broccoli, fruit like apples

How can you test for SIBO?

  • Breath test = most common method of testing for SIBO

-fasting after fibre restricted eating day before

-provocation with lactulose non-absorbable sugar

-breath sample every 20 minutes over 3 hours, tested for levels of hydrogen, methane, hydrogen sulfide in the gas in the sample tube

  • Small intestinal aspirate culture = currently the gold standard test for bacterial overgrowth. To obtain the fluid sample, doctors pass a long, flexible tube (endoscope) down your throat and through your upper digestive tract to your small intestine. A sample of intestinal fluid is withdrawn and then tested in a laboratory for the growth of bacteria.
  • Possible alternative: a course of specific antibiotics to see if you’re successful in reducing your symptoms may also be a way to assess if you have SIBO

Comprehensive Approach to Addressing SIBO:

  1. Liver and gallbladder support eg. NAC, dandelion, artichoke, beets, green tea
  2. Herbal or specific prescription antibiotic to lower bacteria levels eg. rifaximin, specific garlic, oregano extracts, berberine, myrrh, thyme, goldenseal, enteric coated peppermint oil
  3. Digestive support for stomach acid, pancreatic enzyme, and bile production, leaky gut eg. bitters like gentian, L-glutamine, NAG, lemon water or D-limonene, topical castor oil pack
  1. Motility support – prescription or nutritional eg. prucalopride, ginger, 5-HTP, acetyl L-carnitine, Iberogast, spacing at least 3+ hours between eating

Mindful raisin-eating exercise 

Other treatment options: 

Elemental diet – liquid diet for at least 2 weeks to starve and kill off bacteria

Biofilm disruptors like NAC, black cumin, ALA

Today’s Mama Must-Have:

Dr. Lisa loves using apple cider vinegar before meals, as well as adding lemon and lime zest to salads, coleslaw and in water to support her digestion.

Dr. Toni is a big fan of the wet sock treatment to support immune health, especially at the first sign of a cold. 

Dr. Toni’s next HypnoBirthing session for expecting parents looking to decrease fear and anxiety to support their natural instincts around labour and birth is happening this summer. Join her at https://www.hypnobirthingcalgary.com/register

Join Dr. Lisa’s new Meetup group Wild Woman Adventures Toronto if you want to get out in nature, connect with other women and push yourself out of your comfort zone. Activities include: sunrise/sunset SUP, tree-top trekking, a new moon workshop and more!

Dr. Lisa’s Wild Collective in Fall 2022: get on the waitlist: wildcollectivetoronto.com

Email us or connect with us on  Facebook  and  Instagram

We’d love you to subscribe, leave us a review and a 5-star rating if you enjoyed this episode.

You can also support us by visiting our Patreon page.

Please tell your perimenopausal mama friends about us, too!

Stay safe and healthy everyone!

Disclaimer: The information provided is not meant to replace treatment with a licensed health care practitioner. It is for informational purposes only. Consult with a Naturopathic Doctor or other licensed health care professional to determine which treatments are safe for you.

Episode 130: Lose Your Cool Less: Parenting with Educator Tara Gratto

In today’s episode, Dr. Lisa discusses everyday tools for feelings and kindness with educator Tara Gratto to support parents. As parents, we have a whole range of feelings and our patience is tested over and over. Social and emotional intelligence is a skill like learning a language – it needs to be practiced! Listen in to learn more.  

Tara Gratto M.S.Ed, MA, OCT is the founder of Raising Resilient Children. A long time educator and former preschool owner, she supports parents with tools and skills for feelings, kindness and everyday mental well-being. Her signature framework, the Language of Kindness makes parenting easier while fostering connection and building essential life skills with children. Tara focuses on supporting busy parents with tools for today, tomorrow and life. 

In this episode, we cover:

  • How to lose your cool less
  • What you can do in the moment when you are losing your cool
    • Awareness of triggers (where and when?)
    • Breathe and counting backwards from 10 or 5 (model tools for emotional regulation to your kids)
      • Five Finger breathing, Butterfly breathing or Dragon breathing
    • Name it to Tame it
  • The principles of the Language of Kindness
  • kindness to self (your inner voice and self-confidence)
  • kindness to others (how we treat each others in calm and conflict)
  • kindness to the planet (to encourage thinking about food and consumption)
  • Setting yourself up for an action plan to deal with big feelings

Connect with Tara and access her free workshops for parents HERE.

Today’s Mama Must-Have:

Dr. Lisa is a big fan of having a public library card to get books and DVDs 

Dr. Toni’s next HypnoBirthing session for expecting parents looking to decrease fear and anxiety around labour and birth is happening this summer. Join her by registering HERE.

Join Dr. Lisa’s new Meetup group Wild Woman Adventures Toronto if you want to get out in nature, connect with other women and push yourself out of your comfort zone. Activities include: sunrise/sunset SUP, tree-top trekking, a new moon workshop and more!

Dr. Lisa’s Wild Collective in Fall 2022: get on the waitlist: wildcollectivetoronto.com

Email us or connect with us on  Facebook  and  Instagram

We’d love you to subscribe, leave us a review and a 5-star rating if you enjoyed this episode.

You can also support us by visiting our Patreon page.

Please tell your perimenopausal mama friends about us, too!

Stay safe and healthy everyone!

Disclaimer: The information provided is not meant to replace treatment with a licensed health care practitioner. It is for informational purposes only. Consult with a Naturopathic Doctor or other licensed health care professional to determine which treatments are safe for you.

Episode 129: What You Need to Know About Hair Loss in Women

In this re-release episode from January 2021, Dr. Lisa and Dr. Toni discuss: the different types of hair loss, causes, lab tests to consider and solutions that can work for women in perimenopause who are experiencing hair loss. It’s important to recognize that some hair loss is normal but unfortunately, abnormal hair loss is common. Up to 50% of women will experience significant amounts of hair loss in their lifetime.

What is Normal?

  • Loss of 50-100 hairs on average per day
  • No change in hairline/scalp you can see; pony tail still same size
  • 3-4 months postpartum: 
    • you don’t lose hair during pregnancy; make up for it at this time
    • normalizes at around 6-12 months postpartum

The Stages for Hair Follicles:

  1. Anagen – active growth phase lasting 2-7 years
  2. Catagen – brief transitional phase where fibre stops growing
  3. Telogen – rest phase lasting 3 months where old hair pushed up to skin surface then shed

What is Abnormal?

  • Losing more than 100 hairs per day when not postpartum
  • Change in your hairline with more scalp visible
  • Telogen effluvium: temporary hair loss after stress, shock or traumatic event

Type of Hair Loss:

  1. Genetic – progressive gradual reduction in your hair volume, can make your hair follicles more susceptible to reactive hair loss
  2. Reactive – also known as telogen effluvium, temporary hair loss

Causes of Hair Loss:

  • Nutrient deficiencies: low iron, vitamin b12, protein intake
  • Low thyroid function: Hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s autoimmune thyroiditis
    • Your thyroid gland helps to regulate your body’s metabolism by controlling the production of proteins and your tissue use of oxygen. Any thyroid imbalance can therefore affect your hair follicles. 
    • If hypothyroidism is left untreated it may result in anemia or iron deficiency
  • Stress, shock or traumatic event
    • Can negatively impact your estrogen levels which can impact hair loss
    • Raises your androgen levels, disrupts your scalp health causing dandruff, negative impact on your digestion
    • Can negatively impact your thyroid function
  • Leaky gut, celiac disease and eating gluten – see Episode 8 for more info on gut health
  • Damaging hair dye or other hair care products that weigh your hair down
  • Traction alopecia: caused pulling hair back tightly (eg. ponytail, bun or braids) and weakening hair follicles
  • Hormone changes and imbalance
    • Perimenopause with lower estrogen
    • PCOS with high androgens and insulin resistance
  • Caloric restriction:
    • Excessive fasting
    • Cleanses with low protein intake
    • Eating disorders
    • No or low carb intake

Laboratory Testing You Can Consider To Determine The Cause of Your Hair Loss:

  • Nutrient testing
    • Iron panel – hemoglobin, ferritin, iron and transferrin saturation levels
    • Vitamin B12
  • Celiac screen
  • Food sensitivity testing
  • Thyroid panel (TSH, free T4 and T3 plus thyroid antibodies) – see Episode 42 for more info
  • Autoimmune testing
  • Hormone testing
    • adrenal/cortisol
    • hormone panel with estrogens and androgens
  • Blood sugar testing
    • Insulin and glucose levels when fasting
    • Hemoglobin A1C
    • Glucometer or continuous blood sugar testing at home

What you can do about it?

  • Biotin:  does it really work? 
    • Found in eggs, fish, meat, seeds, nuts, sweet potatoes, broccoli and cauliflower
    • Can impact accuracy on certain lab testing like thyroid hormone tests 
    • Too much can worsen cystic acne and affect your absorption of vitamin B5, which is needed for skin health
  • Your hair is made of protein, so adequate intake of protein rich foods is essential 
    • Palm sized portion with lunch and supper
    • Aim for a total intake of 1 gram per kilogram of body weight daily
  • Complex carbohydrates provide your hair with the energy it needs to grow
    • Carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, greens
  • Other minerals and vitamins: iron, copper, zinc, selenium, vitamin C, B12, D3, essential amino acids l-lysine and l-methionine 
  • Supporting scalp circulation 
    • Head/scalp massage
    • Exercise, yoga, headstands
  • Essential oils applied topically to scalp
    • Thyme, rosemary, lavender, cedarwood in carrier oil of jojoba and grapeseed has been shown to support hair growth in people with alopecia areata
  • Hair oils can make your hair stronger and protect hair follicles and strands to prevent breakage
    • Ayurvedic oils and herbs like amla, ashwagandha, brahmi and dashmool can be applied to dry hair for a pre-wash treatment
  • Work with naturopathic doctor or other medical professional to support hormone and blood sugar balance, improve digestion and leaky gut
  • Reduce stress: sleep, say no, rest, get help…

After you start a treatment plan, the more you can be calm and patient, the better. Due to the nature of your hair growth cycle, it takes at least 6 weeks to see an improvement. Do your best and give your body some time to regain balance.

Today’s Mama Must Have:

Dr. Toni has been using her bullet journal to get thoughts and to-do lists out of her head so she isn’t thinking about them in the middle of the night! See Episode 11 for more info.

Dr. Lisa loves Cheeks Ahoy unpaper napkins and reusable paper towels to reduce her use of single use products to clean up spills. 

Upcoming Events:

Dr. Toni’s next HypnoBirthing session for expecting parents looking to decrease fear and anxiety around labour and birth is happening this summer. Join her at https://www.hypnobirthingcalgary.com/register

Join Dr. Lisa’s new Meetup group Wild Woman Adventures Toronto if you want to get out in nature, connect with other women and push yourself out of your comfort zone. Activities include: sunrise/sunset SUP, tree-top trekking, a new moon workshop and more!

Get on the waitlist for Dr. Lisa’s Wild Collective Fall 2022 enrollment: wildcollectivetoronto.com

Thanks for joining us today!

Email us or connect with us on  Facebook and Instagram

We’d love you to subscribe, leave us a review and a 5-star rating if you enjoyed this episode.

You can also support us by visiting our Patreon page.

Please tell your perimenopausal mama friends about us, too!

Stay safe and healthy everyone!

Disclaimer: The information provided is not meant to replace treatment with a licensed health care practitioner. It is for informational purposes only. Consult with a Naturopathic Doctor or other licensed health care professional to determine which treatments are safe for you.