Archive: Digestion

The Wild Collective: A Community Health Initiative

Sisterhood is the medicine I never knew I needed.

I had read up on all the research and on an intellectual level it made sense.  But I didn’t realize it was the missing link for my health until I had my son, Stuart, 3.5 years ago, and felt so alone.

I went through some pretty serious breastfeeding challenges, which left me feeling isolated and like a failure as a mom and as a Naturopathic Doctor. The breastfeeding challenges eventually led to severe sleep deprivation, which quickly turned into postpartum anxiety. I remember the thought of getting out of the house was fraught with stress so severe, that sometimes it was just worth it to stay inside all day. I isolated myself from my friends and family and blamed it on being “busy” and “tired”. Eventually, I hit rock bottom when I suffered from burnout and low mood. I remember reading to Stuart before bed, trying to put on a happy face, but really feeling too tired to even read the words on the pages. I would sing him bedtime songs and do my best not to cry.

Eventually, I reached out for support from a psychologist, my medical doctor, my Naturopathic Doctor and my family and friends. I got the help I needed and allowed myself to be vulnerable and supported by others. I also found out that my thyroid was under-functioning and my adrenals were out of whack; things that can be treated using naturopathic medicine. I joined mom groups and devoured “real mom” podcasts, which led me to co-create the Perimenopausal Mamas podcast to support other moms going through challenging times to let them know they are not alone and that there are solutions out there for them.

And then, when I came across The Wild Collective, a revolutionary women’s health and community initiative, I knew I had to become a facilitator.

The Wild Collective is a perfect blend of health education, empowerment and community support. Not only do I get to help women uncover the blockages and imbalances that may be interfering with their ability to live their best life; I also get to facilitate the creation of a community of like-minded women that helps each other out and reclaims their wild.

This is how you can meet your people.  People who love and accept you for who you are, so life can get a little sweeter and a lot more fun. 

Be prepared to be a part of something raw and real and to see transformations in your health and in your life.

As a clinician it is often hard to get women to face the obstacles to cure that are seriously getting in the way of thriving health.  Negative self talk, sadness, projected expectations and hanging out with energy vampires all impede your ability to heal. It is my experience that sisterhood is the answer.

It is such an honour to be a part of the Wild Collective. I look forward to travelling on this journey with you, in sisterhood, as we each allow each other to stand in our light, gain clarity on purpose, and take bold action. 

When I say sister you are home, I take that very seriously.

When I say reclaim your wild, I mean that wholeheartedly. ‘

When I say your community awaits you, I mean it. 

You deserve sisterhood that feels like soul food; you deserve a safe space to grow and thrive.

The Wild Collective is starting very soon. Join me for the info session and learn why this is the medicine you never knew you needed.

Space is limited. Sign up for one of the free Info Sessions (the week of Jan 25th, 2021) HERE.There are some EPIC bonuses if you attend live!

In Sisterhood,

Lisa xo

If you have any questions about the Wild Collective, or want to reserve your spot, contact me HERE (even if you can’t make the info session).

LEAKY GUT, LEAKY WHAT? It May Be The Root Cause of Your Pain, Digestive Issues and Skin Rashes

Did you know that seemingly unrelated symptoms, such as headaches, joint pain, eczema, irritable bowel syndrome and autoimmune diseases may actually be caused by a digestive disturbance called leaky gut? And that by healing that condition, you may become free of these symptoms? abdominal-pain-2821941_640

You are probably wondering just what leaky gut is, what causes it and how you can heal from it.

What is Leaky Gut?

You can picture your digestive system like a large tube with small holes in it, like a net. This net allows the beneficial nutrients from your diet to pass through and enter into your bloodstream, to be delivered to cells, organs and tissues for use. This net should also be able to prevent harmful substances from getting through, thereby protecting your immune system and the rest of your body from negative reactions.

If you are eating foods that you are not digesting properly, these larger food particles cause micro-tears and damage to this net, allowing harmful food particles, toxins and bacteria to pass through and enter into your bloodstream. Your immune system actually sees these substances as threats, like it would to viruses or bacteria, and mounts an immune/inflammation reaction that can impact not only the digestive tract, but other areas of the body. You build antibodies to the food particles, which then can travel around the body and deposit in areas such as the joints, brain, and skin, causing not only digestive symptoms but also joint pain, headaches, brain fog, acne, eczema, and rosacea. It is important to note that digestive symptoms don’t always manifest with leaky gut…your warning sign that you may have it could be your recurrent headaches or arthritic symptoms. Each person reacts in their own unique way and you don’t have to have all of the above symptoms to be diagnosed with leaky gut.

Food Sensitivities vs. Food Allergies

Most people know someone who has an allergy to peanuts. If that person were to ingest anything with even a trace amount, they would go into anaphylaxis; meaning that their airways would constrict, their tongue would swell up and they would struggle to breath. If they didn’t get a shot of epinephrine within minutes, they could even die.

A food sensitivity reaction is much milder but still harmful to health. If you eat a food that your immune system reacts to (in a different way, producing what is called IgG antibodies, as opposed to the immediate-release IgE antibodies in a food allergy), a delayed reaction (up to 3 days after eating that food) occurs. Common food sensitivity reactions include: skin rashes, such as eczema, acne and rosacea; digestive issues, such as bloating, gas, abdominal pain, constipation or diarrhea;  and pain that can manifest in the joints or as a headache or migraine. Food sensitivities can also affect the immune system negatively, making it more likely that you get sick or suffer from an autoimmune condition. If you continue to eat the foods you are sensitive to, over time, you can develop leaky gut.

Additional Causes of Leaky Gut

Eating foods that you are sensitive to is not the only cause of leaky gut. Taking antibiotics can wipe out your good gut bacteria which are there to act as a protective lining to your digestive system. Toxins can damage your protective net, as can stress.

What You Can Do About It

  1. Identify and remove with foods you are sensitive to. This can be done by a simple blood test that your Naturopathic Doctor can order for you. This is the easiest way to determine your food sensitivities. Or, you can complete a month-long elimination diet, after which you would re-introduce the commonly offending foods and note any reactions.
  1. Repopulate your good gut bacteria. This involves eating fermented foods (such as kimchi and sauerkraut), eating organic and plain yogurt (I prefer homemade coconut milk yogurt, but you could eat either sheep or goat milk yogurt if you can tolerate them), and taking a high-potency, human-strain probiotic daily. If you suffer from leaky gut, food sources won’t give you enough; you will need to take a probiotic supplement.
  1. Repair the damage that has been done. Bone broth provides collagen and gut-healing amino acids. Herbs and nutrients, such as collagen powder, slippery elm, DGL and glutatmine are soothing and healing to the digestive tract.

After a period of at least 3 months of avoiding your food sensitivities and following this gut-healing program, you may be able to tolerate the foods you were sensitive to, eating them occasionally without eliciting a reaction. Some people may need to avoid their food sensitivities indefinitely to avoid reactions; each person is different.

Dr. Lisa Weeks, Naturopathic Doctor can order the food sensitivity blood test for you or prescribe an elimination diet and then create a unique gut-healing plan to heal your leaky gut to help get rid of headaches, joint pain, skin rashes and digestive complaints.

CONTACT Dr. Lisa to find out more TODAY.


The Power of Cleansing

Well, it’s that time of year again…the days are shorter, the temperature is dropping and the leaves are starting to change. Summer definitely flew by!

For most, summer is a time of indulgence. Barbecues, drinks on the patio or dock, and ice cream are staples of many while at the cottage or camping. The long bright days and warm weather keep us energized and active. Fall is the time for us to prepare for the shorter and colder days of winter, when energy is typically lower and our immune function is greatly depressed. The climate of fall is moderate, which is perfect for a cleanse. If we attempt to cleanse during the extreme heat of summer or the extreme cold of winter; added stress is placed on the body, and we are more likely to get sick or experience unfavourable effects.

Doing a cleanse is ideal to clean out all of the “gunk” that has accumulated over the previous season/year and to get our bodies tuned up for winter. Unfortunately, we are exposed to toxins in our food (pesticides, herbicides), water, cosmetics, body care products, plastic products and in the air that we breathe. In Chinese medicine, fall is the time when the lung and large intestine are most active. If we don’t clean out the toxins from the body before winter, we are more susceptible to illnesses in these organs, such as colds, the flu, bronchitis, asthma flare-ups, and digestive concerns. Not only can a cleanse help to boost energy levels and mood, clear up skin issues, resolve digestive problems, and jumpstart metabolism and weight loss, it will also give the immune system a much-needed boost to prevent those dreaded colds and flus that commonly start as the temperatures drop.

A cleanse typically involves at least 2–3 weeks of dietary changes to give the body a rest from foods that are harder to digest and have negative effects in the body. You will most likely need to cut out all gluten, dairy, non-organic meat, peanuts, shellfish, corn, soy, alcohol, added sugar in any form, artificial colours and flavours, preservatives, and caffeine (except for green and white tea in some cases). Foods that may be avoided include potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants, peppers and mushrooms (as they can cause inflammation in the body). It is advisable to discuss your individualized food plan with your Naturopathic Doctor to ensure you are getting the appropriate nutrients.

In addition to dietary changes during the cleansing period, it is beneficial to include homeopathic remedies, herbs and nutrients to support the body’s detoxification pathways. Be sure to consult with a licensed healthcare practitioner (such as a Naturopathic Doctor), as we all are unique and require different supplements for proper detoxification. The Naturopathic Doctor will make sure that what you are taking will not interact with any medications you take or any conditions you may be suffering from. He or she will also focus on where you need the most support. Some patients may need extra fibre and herbs to help eliminate through the liver and digestive tract, others may need more support for the kidney, lung or lymphatic system. It is really important to make sure you are cleansing in the right ways. If done improperly, you can activate and accumulate toxins in your body, when the goal is to eliminate them completely. Following the right meal plan and cleansing protocol are needed to make sure you reap the most benefits and avoid any negative side effects.

Expect to feel a little cranky and agitated in the first several days. You may notice some digestive changes, mild headaches and some fatigue. After about 3–5 days, you may notice that your energy levels have increased, your mood has improved, and your body is more balanced. Your body and mind will be better suited to deal with the harsh days of winter.

Here are some easy ways to gently detoxify on a daily basis. For a complete and individualized cleanse, please consult with a licensed healthcare practitioner for the best results.

  1. Avoid exposure to toxins in the first place.Eat organic producelow-mercury fish and organic/free-range meats whenever possible. Make sure the cosmetics you are using are safe, limit your use of plastic, and ensure you are drinking pure water and breathing clean air.
  2. Fresh lemon or lime in water 5 minutes before meals.This sounds too simple to help, but the sourness of the lemons and limes really help the liver to detoxify and get the digestive juices flowing.
  3. Sweat it out.Many toxins can be eliminated through our sweat. Plus, exercise has so many other wonderful benefits. Detoxifying is just one more great reason to get out there and get active!
  4. End your shower with 30 seconds to 1 minute of cold water.This stimulates circulation and lymphatic flow to help move toxins out.
  5. Get enough fibre.We eliminate toxins through our bowel movements. If you are constipated, the toxins can be reabsorbed into the body. Increase your consumption of hemp hearts, salba or chia seed, ground flaxseeds, sweet potatoes, and vegetables. Ensure you are having at least one complete bowel movement a day, ideally 2–3 per day.
  6. Drink enough water.Our kidneys are a major route of elimination, so it is important to stay hydrated. Aim for approximately 2–3 L of water per day, more if you are sweating and exercising intensely.
  7. Breathe deeply.Our lungs are a major detoxifying organ. It is important to take complete breaths to fill the lungs with fresh air and to exhale any airborne toxins, including carbon dioxide. Make sure you breathe using your abdominal muscles and diaphragm for maximal effects. Inhale for four counts, hold for four counts and then exhale for four counts.
  8. Deal with emotional issues.Toxins are not only found in our external environment. The body produces toxins as byproducts of many metabolic processes. Negative emotions also act as toxins in the body, impairing hormone balance and interfering with normal physiological functions. Anger, sadness, jealousy and resentment are all emotional toxins that need to be dealt with. Make sure you journal, talk about your feelings, and/or see a psychologist or psychotherapist to work through these emotions.

With these small changes and an individualized cleansing protocol from your licensed healthcare practitioner, you will be well on your way to a healthier and happier you!

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

We Can All Use a Little Spice in Our Lives: Why Not Ginger?

Ginger, oh how I love thee…

This root, I find, is underutilized and overlooked for some reason. It offers a vast array of health benefits, from boosting immune system function, and reducing pain and inflammation to reducing gas, bloating, nausea and digestive upset. It is cheap, and full of potassium, magnesium, copper, vitamin B6, manganese and gingerols, which are powerful anti-inflammatory substances.

It is a carminative, which means it reduces gastrointestinal upset, as well as an intestinal spasmolytic, meaning it reduces spasms and cramping in the digestive system. It has been shown to prevent or reduce the symptoms of sea-sickness, as well as to reduce nausea and vomiting in pregnant women.

It is a powerful anti-inflammatory and reduces the pain and inflammation associated with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. If you are suffering from knee pain or a sport’s injury, it can help you recover faster and reduce your suffering.

Who wouldn’t benefit from ginger?

Ginger is a warming herb and supports healthy sweating. It boosts immune system function, and can help prevent colds, flus and sore throats. If you do get sick, ginger can reduce the severity and duration of your symptoms. It is great to drink in a tea (see recipe below) on a cold winter’s day, but you can also prepare it as an iced tea to refresh and replenish you after a hot day in the sun.

And it tastes great, too! It’s pungent and spicy flavour kicks up any meal several notches, and you get the added benefits to your health as well.

You can chop it up and add it to stir-fries to bring out some heat, or you can put it in the water that you are using to steam broccoli. Simply peel a 1- to 2-inch cube of ginger (with a spoon is easiest), slice it up, add it to a pot of water, bring to a boil, then place the steam basket with the broccoli in it on top. Cover with a lid, reduce the heat and simmer for about 5–10 minutes until the broccoli is done to your liking. If you are using organic broccoli, you can even use the leftover ginger water for ginger tea (see recipe below).

Here is a recipe for a Ginger, Honey and Lemon Tea. It is one of my favourites to drink when I am starting to feel sick, when I am feeling run down and cold in temperature, or if I am sore after a long, hard workout or run. You can drink it iced in the summer. Prepare as instructed below, let it cool in a glass jug on the counter and then put it in the fridge.

Ginger, Honey and Lemon Tea

1–2 inch cube of fresh ginger root

1/3 fresh lemon, sliced

Boiling water

Honey, to taste (optional)

Add slices of ginger to a pot, measure out 2–3 mugs of water and pour into the pot with the ginger. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add honey, squeeze the juice of the lemon into the mug, and then add the lemon slices as well. Pour in the hot ginger tea, then enjoy! You can drink this tea with the ginger root and lemon slices still in the mug, or can strain if you prefer.

Here is an even quicker and easier recipe, if you are feeling lazy:

Peel and slice the fresh ginger root. Place in a mug. Pour boiling water over the ginger slices and squeeze the juice of the lemon into the mug. Add the lemon slices to the mug. Allow it to steep for 3–5 minutes. Add honey to taste.

Aim to drink 2 cups a day.

Drink up and enjoy!

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