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childhood wellbeing

Diet and childhood wellbeing

For well over two decades, research has been correlating diet with childhood wellbeing.

Studies have shown that diets containing high quantities of sugar, food additives (preservatives and artificial colouring) or common allergenic foods can have a negative impact on their behaviour and state of health. There was one expert that came up with the best diet for your health.

Some food related symptoms can be attention-deficit disorders (ADD, ADHD), hyperactivity, destructive aggressive behaviour, restlessness, fits, headaches, abdominal pain, and/or skin disorders.

Nutritional deficiencies may also be contributing to these behaviours and symptoms.

Common deficiencies in children

The two most common deficiencies in children are:

An iron deficiency which can cause anaemia and symptoms of tiredness, weakness, weak immune system and impaired brain function (less oxygen reaching the brain). And iron deficiency could also affect growth and development.

Lack of Vitamin D which may cause growth delays in children, rickets (soft bones), and contribute to a weakened immune system.

Other deficiencies may include:

Vitamin B1, thiamin-deficiency which is known to cause aggressive behaviour

Fatty acids deficiency which causes mixed/oily/dry skin and small bumps on the back of the upper arms among other skin-related issues.

Food allergies in children

Research has also shown that changes in diet such as eliminating the culprits and including whole foods (greens, vegetables, and unprocessed foods) can help to correct most of the behavioural issues, food-related health issues and nutritional deficiencies.

Related studies have found that participants who had reported physical symptoms such as abdominal pain and headaches, noticed significant improvements when eliminating food preservatives, food colouring, sugar and allergens from their diet.

Moreover, participants would also relapse into their symptoms during the reintroduction of these foods.

When seeking to determine the root cause of behaviour or other related symptoms, potential food allergens should be eliminated from the diet.

These allergens include milk, eggs, cheese, corn, wheat, pork, beef, peanuts, soft drinks, high fructose syrup, refined/white/brown sugar, chocolate and ketchup among others.

Keep in mind that foods you might consider ‘healthy’ may still contain with food preservatives, food colouring, high quantities of sugar and/or allergens. Always make sure to read the list of ingredients of anything you intend to feed your child to avoid being fooled by marketing strategies and labels.

Ways to improve childhood wellbeing

Four Things you can do now to improve your childhood wellbeing:

1. An Elimination Diet

Your child could benefit from an oligoantigenic diet, also known as the elimination diet, or a modified version of it. Remember, there are foods that contain essential vitamins and minerals needed for optimal growth and development. Always consult with your Naturopathic Doctor before starting these nutritional changes.

2. Add supplementation

Some children may benefit from the supplementation of Omega 3’s, greens, vitamins and minerals.

It’s not always easy to convince children to eat their vegetables and some may be more selective with the foods they want to eat.

Children may need additional supplementation for iron, vitamin D, zinc and more. Consult your Naturopathic Doctor for appropriate supplements and dosage.

3. Active play time

Allowing a child to burn energy is vital.

If a child doesn’t use their energy reserves they can become restless and hyperactive. Focus and sleep patterns can be disrupted.

Children need at least 60min of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily. Including vigorous-intensity activities 3 times a week, and bone and muscle strengthening activities 3 times a week. Find sports and activities that your child really enjoys.

4. Read all ingredients lists

Labels and advertisements can be deceiving.

Stay away from processed products that have the words “fat-free” and “sugar-free”. These words just mean they are replacing fat or sugar with chemicals.

Keep in your cart products with ingredients you can read and are 5 or fewer ingredients.

Some of the ingredients to watch out for are blue 1, blue 2, green 3, red 3, red 40, yellow 5, FD&C lakes (combination of colours or dyes), orange B (in sausages and hot dogs casings), BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene) & BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole), Sulfites, artificial sweeteners (Aspartame, Acesulfame-K, Saccharin), added sugar (High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), Corn Syrup, Dextrose), Propyl Gallate, Potassium Bromate, Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), Olestra (Olean), Heptylparaben and Sodium Nitrate.

This is not an exhaustive list but will help get you started. Have this list accessible when go grocery shopping.

Many behavioural issues and uncomfortable symptoms can be eliminated through dietary adjustments.

Contact Dr Frances Pierantoni, ND for more information on receiving a personalised assessment and strategy for you and your family.

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Disclaimer

This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

allergies children ottawa

Children – Why so many allergies?

The number of allergies is on the rise, but why are we seeing more people, and especially children with allergies?

Allergies and auto-immune disorders occur when our immune system mistakenly identifies an otherwise harmless substance as a threat. It then attacks these inappropriate targets. In the case of an allergy this may be a food, dust, mould, pollen etc or in the case of an autoimmune disease the body is attacked.

So why are there more food allergies?

The medical profession does not really have any definitive answers as to why the number of allergies is on the rise. There are however several theories.

The Hygiene Hypothesis speculates that we are not exposed to enough pathogens, parasites and other microbes giving our immune systems too little to do. This hypothesis has been around for several decades.

Digestive Health and Leaky Gut – around 80% of our immune system is in our gut, if the gut is not healthy, then we will not be healthy.

Lifestyle factors such as warmer, drier homes and a more sedentary lifestyle.

The Hygiene Hypothesis

Population studies have found that there is a much lower incidence of allergies, asthma and anaphylaxis in developing countries. It is also known that children who grow up on a farm, around animals and spending a lot of time outside have fewer allergies.

The theory is that these children are exposed to parasites and other microbes, which is much more in line with the way that we evolved.

During evolution our bodies adapted to the constant presence of these parasites and other microbes. Now that they have been removed from our environment we have a very active immune system that is effectively itching for a fight.

In other words, our living conditions and food are so clean they don’t offer our immune systems enough to do, so our systems overreact to harmless allergens instead.

Nick Furnham at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and his team have also found similarities between the proteins in parasitic worms and those in pollens. He suggests that our parasite defenses will naturally attack the pollen leading to seasonal allergies.

So what can we do?

We are simply too paranoid about “GERMS”

If your house is generally clean it is acceptable for your child to play on the floor. Allowing your child to play outside and to be exposed to dirt is beneficial for the immune system. (Avoid areas that may be contaminated with animal waste)

Also exposure to animals including pets will have benefits for their immune system and your child’s mental well-being.

Digestive Health and Leaky Gut

It is estimated that 80% of our immune system is found in the gut.

When damage is caused to our gut lining by food allergies and intolerances, reactions to antibiotics or pesticides, or illnesses such as gastro-enteritis it allows bacteria, metabolic wastes and undigested proteins to enter our blood stream.

These foreign substances in the blood stimulate the immune system into attacking and trigger inflammation, allergies and auto-immune diseases.

Allergies are also more prevalent in C-section children. Baby’s digestive tracts are sterile. During a natural birth they will be exposed to the flora found in their mother’s gut. Studies are suggesting that these babies should deliberately be exposed to a swab from their mother in order to populate their gut with the necessary ‘good’ bacteria and other microbes.

So how do we fix this?

“Healing and sealing” your gut has been shown to help alleviate allergy symptoms. The key lies in altering your diet to eliminate any offending foods and introducing healthier choices that will support a proper balance of bacteria in your gut.

It is becoming more generally understood that processed foods, “junk food”, GMO products and synthetic ingredients in foods can decimate the beneficial bacteria in your gut, thereby having a negative effect on your immune system.

A registered nutritionist can give you individualised advice on which foods to eat.

Antibiotics should be avoided unless absolutely necessary. Following any course of antibiotics it is essential to take a good quality, preferably soil based, probiotic to repopulate the gut with ‘friendly’ bacteria.

Lifestyle factors

Human beings are designed to be active for a greater portion of their day. In our modern world we too often spend many hours sitting down. Our lack of fitness impacts many systems in the body.
We also evolved to be outside in all weathers and temperatures. We live indoors in clean, warm and dry conditions. We are not exposed to challenging conditions and temperature changes that strengthen our bodies.

One study in the UK found that people who took a swim in cold water (sea, river or a lake) daily or several times a week, actually had stronger immune systems, were sick less often and had fewer allergies.

What can we do?

The answer is easy – move more and get out into the fresh air…. If only it were that simple!

Take your child outdoors throughout the year, they will come to no harm in the cold or heat as long as they are properly dressed and protected.

Make sure that they get plenty of exercise and active time – you will benefit too if you play with them.

As an adult, try to make time to be outdoors most days, and plan a time to exercise 5 days a week if you can, even if it is a 30min walk. Find an activity that you enjoy, whether playing ball with your child, building a snow man, going to the gym, a team sport or a regular walking group.

By putting your exercise time into your schedule you will find it easier to achieve. The benefits will be worth the effort!

hidden signs of food sensitivities in children

Hidden signs of food sensitivities in children

Food sensitivities are on the rise in Canada and most worryingly among children. In my practice, the most common food sensitivities I see are to wheat, dairy, corn, eggs and soy. If I were to ask you what symptoms you would expect to see from a food sensitivity, I would suspect you to say digestive. Beware, this is not always the case. In this blog, I talk about the hidden symptoms of food sensitivities in children, what causes them and how best to identify them.

Peter is ten years old and has been brought to see me by his mum and dad complaining of lower back pain. They found me by looking for a local osteopath on Google and had been recommended osteopathy by a family friend. All osteopaths are trained to look for and treat physical causes of pain. Physical causes are usually the result of some trauma such as a fall. Peter’s pain had begun two months previously without any trauma. He noticed the pain only when he was playing hockey and running.

When physical pain, of any kind, develops for no apparent reason it makes me very suspicious and leads me to suspect that there may be an underlying factor at play.

On examination, I found that Peter’s muscles were very tight, and his lower back muscles were not functioning very well. These two clinical findings, to me, are a sign of chronic low-grade inflammation. There are four main causes of inflammation:

  1. Food sensitivities
  2. Infection
  3. Toxins
  4. Stress

Symptoms of Hidden Food Sensitivities

The most common cause of inflammation in children is food sensitivities. Peter had no digestive symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, constipation or diarrhoea. Despite this fact, I asked whether he experienced any of the following extra-digestive or hidden signs of food sensitivities. These symptoms include:

  1. Recurrent ear and throat infections
  2. Canker sores
  3. Frequent nosebleeds
  4. Unexplained muscle and joint pains sometimes diagnosed as “growing pains”.
  5. Black circles under your eyes, known as “Shiners.”
  6. Insomnia
  7. Hyperactivity and ADHD
  8. Anxiety
  9. Rash and other skin complaints
  10. Fatigue

Peter had some these other symptoms, which confirmed my suspicions and prompted me to suggest to his parents that we investigate whether he does have any food sensitivities.

Testing

There are three different ways I recommend to determine food sensitivities including:

Elimination diets

A food elimination is the scientific “gold standard” method for determining food sensitivities. Foods are avoided for 30 days. If symptoms improve then each food is reintroduced, one at a time, to determine which are the triggers.

Blood Food sensitivity testing

Blood food sensitivity testing in Canada measures IgG food antibodies to different foods. The problem with this testing is that there are two other antibodies, IgA and IgM, that your bodies immune system might produce. More comprehensive testing is available through Cyrex Labs in the US that measures both IgA and IgG antibodies.

Muscle testing

Muscle testing or applied kinesiology measures the response of your body’s nervous system to a substance. Muscle testing has not been validated by any scientific research however I have found a very reliable way of screening in clinical practice.

I always give my clients the option of what method of testing they would like me to use. For Peter, we used only muscle testing and identified dairy as a problem.

After three weeks of avoiding dairy, Peter returned my office and reported that he could now play hockey and run pain-free, and many of his other symptoms had lessened.

Disclaimer

This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

cystitis

Cystitis, Urinary incontinence, Urgency and Allergies

Do you suffer from bladder problems such as cystitis, incontinence or urgency, or perhaps have pain, itching or bleeding with intercourse?

You are not alone!

Did you ever consider that allergies may be triggering your cystitis?

I want to tell you about a client of mine, let’s call her Sarah.

She came to me with Interstitial Cystitis, a chronic condition which causes intense bladder pain and frequent urination. On a good day her pain level was 6 or 7 out of 10, and many days it was 9 / 10. She was getting up numerous times in the night to drink water as it helped to keep her urine dilute and therefore lessened her pain.

She was also finding that she often had abdominal pain after sexual intercourse and sometimes itching and bleeding.

She underwent extensive medical testing which showed no physical problem, everything was apparently ‘Normal”, and no infection was present. Her doctor had given her pain meds and suggested avoiding a few foods. Not wanting to take the pain meds on a regular basis she had found avoiding some foods to help a little, anti-histamines also brought some relief.

Natural Allergy Testing identified one of her main triggers as an allergy to salicylates. This is a compound naturally found in most fruits and vegetables. She considered her diet to be healthy, consuming foods such as olive oil, coconut oil, berries, herbs and spices, avocado and various other fruits, all of which are high in salicylates. A simple change in her diet to reduce the intake of salicylates brought a noticeable improvement in her symptoms.

She also had a problem with latex and spermicide. Changing her condoms to a non-latex version almost eliminated her pain after intercourse.

So how does this affect you?

Many women as they get older experience bladder urgency and incontinence. And it’s not always a case of “I am just getting older”! Visit a women’s health center like the one here.

One aspect that should be always considered is allergies. Allergies could be directly affecting your bladder, however, whether you have seasonal allergies or food allergies exposure to these allergens causes generalised inflammation in the body including the bladder and can increase urgency. This is why Sarah noticed an improvement with anti-histamine allergy meds.

What about foods?

One way that the body eliminates unwanted substances is through the urine. If you are allergic to a food it may cause increased thirst and / or bladder urgency as the body seeks to expel it from your system.

How do you know if food is the problem?

Research into the link between food and bladder issues such as interstitial cystitis is very limited, and at this time, there is no special diet recommended for these issues. There are, however, several ways to identify any food triggers.

Elimination diet

You avoid any suspected food allergens for a period of several weeks to a month. Once you feel better you re-introduce them, one every 2 weeks and observe any reactions.

In Sarah’s case, this would have been hard as salicylate is in so many foods. (Click here for information on salicylates in foods)

Allergy testing

This can be done by your Family Doctor, a Naturopathic Doctor or a Natural Allergist. Once you have the results you can use these to do your own elimination diet. This will give you the opportunity to determine which foods are worst and which you can tolerate and in what quantity.

Low Histamine Diet

Certain foods will always trigger Inflammation in the body, in the form of Histamine, whether you have an allergy to them or not. By avoiding these foods you will lower your general level of inflammation and improve any symptoms. This diet can be used as a way to‘re-set’ your body or to reduce symptoms at any time that you are experiencing an inflammatory response such as seasonal allergies or cystitis. The diet is used for a limited period of a few weeks to a couple of months.

Remember, you do not have to suffer, even if the medical profession say that everything is ‘Normal”. There is always an underlying reason for your health concerns so keep looking till you find it. There is no such thing as “I am just getting old”!

Disclaimer

This article is not meant to diagnose or treat any health condition. It is important that you do seek advice from a Medical Doctor to eliminate the possibility of infection or any other more serious issues.

 

L’incontinence urinaire

L’ostéopathie et l’incontinence urinaire d’effort chez la femme

L’incontinence urinaire d’effort se caractérise par l’impossibilité de retenir l’urine lors d’efforts tels que tousser, éternuer, rire, monter les escaliers  ou soulever des objets lourds.

Bref tout ce qui provoque une augmentation de pression dans l’enceinte abdominale suite à une faiblesse musculaire du plancher pelvien.

Même si les pertes sont relativement bénignes dans la majorité des cas, elles n’en créent pas moins un sentiment de gêne, de frustration ou de découragement chez celles qui en souffrent.

Les grossesses, les accouchements, la ménopause, l’obésité et le tabagisme sont  des facteurs prédisposant à l’incontinence urinaire d’effort parmi les plus fréquents.

Voici quelques explications permettant de mieux comprendre :

Grossesse: le haut niveau hormonal influe sur le relâchement du système sphinctérien en modifiant le tonus des tissus.

Accouchement : il comporte un risque d’endommagement des tissus musculaires, conjonctifs et nerveux dû à la distension du plancher pelvien.

Ménopause : l’arrêt de la sécrétion d’œstrogène accentue les effets du vieillissement tissulaire en entraînant la diminution du tonus musculaire du périnée et du plancher pelvien.

Obésité : elle augmente les forces de pression sur les organes du petit bassin et du périnée.

Tabagisme : Les cigarettes ont des effets aggravants, entre autre, par la toux qu’elles provoquent. Le tabac a aussi un effet anti-œstrogène qui altère les structures de soutien des organes du petit bassin.

Une consultation ostéopathique type suite à une incontinence d’effort

Pour votre première consultation l’ostéopathe va procéder à un bilan de santé, aussi appelé anamnèse pour réunir l’ensemble des renseignements pertinents sur votre historique et ainsi obtenir un diagnostic ostéopathique.

L’ostéopathe évaluera ensuite les structures du corps en dysfonctions à l’aide d’un examen postural et d’un examen de mobilité adaptés.

L’équilibre, la marche, la posture ou la mobilité lombo- pelvienne seront des paramètres sur lesquels le thérapeute va s’attarder afin d’obtenir un schéma ostéopathique.

Le traitement ostéopathique ciblera généralement le bassin, la colonne lombaire, le plancher pelvien, l’utérus et la vessie. Différentes manipulations sur les structures tissulaires, musculaires et viscérales en tensions seront alors proposées et adaptées.

Comme le thérapeute cherche à traiter la patiente dans sa globalité, il pourra s’intéresser à d’autres sphères comme la sphère crânienne ou thoracique si elles présentent des dysfonctions. Ainsi, chaque structure pourra récupérer la mobilité et la motilité qui lui est propre.

Après la séance des conseils et exercices préventifs seront proposés.

Ce sont des exercices à effectuer à la maison basés sur une maitrise de la  respiration abdominale, couché ou assis, simple à réaliser permettant la tonification des muscles de la sangle abdominale et du plancher pelvien. La musculature ainsi tonifiée améliorera la continence à l’effort.

osteoporosis menopause ottawa

Osteoporosis and Menopause

As most of you know, Menopause causes several physiological changes within the female body. It is important to be aware of these potential changes so that you can prevent damaging effects and ultimately live a long, healthy life. Unfortunately, one unpleasant truth about menopause is that it is directly linked to osteoporosis, something that most people associate with ageing.

But what exactly is osteoporosis? It is the term given to the condition where the bones gradually become more porous (we get little holes in the tissue) and overall bone mass is lost. The end result is bones that have become fragile and weak, raising the risk of spontaneous fractures/falls. Osteoporosis is known as a silent killer because no pain is associated with this weakening of the bones.

As you approach menopause the levels of the hormone estrogen becomes lower  and your periods will occur less frequently. This usually occurs between the ages of 45 and 55. Due to the lack of estrogen, the bones cannot maintain their strength because they use this hormone as a building block.

It is estimated that the average woman loses up to 10 percent of her bone mass in the first five years after menopause.

Although bone loss and menopause are linked, there are several things you can do to actively reduce your risk of developing it in the future. There are medications on the market to help treat osteoporosis, however, your goal should be to prevent it from happening in the first place.

Ways to help Osteoporosis

Weight-bearing exercises: Lift things! Start strength training before you hit menopause so that you are strong. Weight bearing exercises and resistance training is proven to increase bone density due to the load placed on the bones during movements. For bone health, walking has just as many benefits as a higher intensity workout, so you do not have to go crazy in order to reap those benefits.

Diet: Your diet should contain enough vitamins and minerals to feed your bones the nutrients they need. A diet high in sodium (table salt and processed foods) will cause calcium to leach out of the bones. It is best to limit salt intake and to use sea salt / rock salt which contains a better balance of minerals.

You should also avoid carbonated drinks as they have a similar effect on bone loss. There is mixed research on Soy products, but some studies show it may also contribute to weaker bones.

Supplements: Take calcium every day (this can be found in your diet but supplementation is also recommended). Our bones also need Vitamin D to stay strong. Make sure you have adequate levels. See your nutritionist or health practitioner for recommendations on how much of these supplements you should be taking.

Don’t Smoke 

Limit alcohol and caffeine consumption

The best way to prevent osteoporosis is to be aware of it before it starts. Start with healthy lifestyle changes from a younger age. This will ensure strong bones prior to menopause and good lifestyle habits that are easy to maintain as you age.

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