allergies

Seasonal Allergies. Tips for surviving the Spring.

The coming of spring brings new flowers, bright colours, warmer weather and for many people the aggravation of seasonal allergies.

Allergies are an over reaction by our immune system to an otherwise harmless substance called an allergen. In the case of spring time allergies, the allergen is pollen. Pollen initiates an immune response causing the release of chemicals in our body such as histamine and resulting in various symptoms including sneezing, runny nose, nasal congestion, itchy eyes and post nasal drip. This can surely take the joy out of spring.

So let’s take a look at some things that we can do to survive the Spring season.

First and foremost we must pay heed to our gut as the bulk of our immune system resides there and its tolerance is strongly influenced by our gut bacteria and intestinal function.  So we must:

  • Eat a whole foods diet
  • Get adequate fibre
  • Eat fermented foods
  • Avoid sugar and processed foods
  • Chew our food well

When it comes to diet:

  • Increase consumption of foods such as garlic, parsley, apples, broccoli and green & black tea. These are all high in the bioflavonoid quercetin. Quercetin can help prevent the release of histamine
  • Increase foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids. They can help quell the inflammation caused by allergic reactions. Such foods include wild caught salmon, ground flax seeds & chia seeds
  • Increase intake of foods high in Vitamin C such as red peppers, kiwi, broccoli, green leafy vegetable and strawberries. Vitamin C can help to reduce histamine release
  • Have a cup of Nettle tea. It is a natural antihistamine
  • Eat foods high in antioxidants such as blueberries, sweet potatoes and leafy green vegetables as they can help to modulate the body’s inflammatory response
  • Keep hydrated to help the body flush toxins

Supplements to consider in support of the diet recommendations include:

  • Probiotics
  • Vitamin C
  • Fish Oil

On the lifestyle front:

  • Stay indoors first thing in the morning and on dry, windy days. The best time to go outside is after a rain
  • Stay away from cut grass and hand over the gardening chores for the spring
  • Get at least 7-8 hours of good quality sleep
  • Use a Neti Pot for nasal irrigation
  • Try acupuncture to relieve your respiratory distress

Take the time now to prepare your body for the spring time so that you too can enjoy the riches of the season!

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Tips for Keeping Your Immune System Humming During the Holidays

Holiday season is in full swing.  Planning, purchasing, partying.  It’s the one time of year to forget all the rules and just enjoy.  And I am all in for that.  I really am.

So I am not going to harp on the fact that things like stress, lack of sleep, shortened daylight hours and sugar can weaken your immune system leaving you vulnerable to things like colds and flus.   I am not.  There will not be a naughty list.

What I am going to do is write a nice list.  A few easy things that can help you to stay on your healthy track and carry you seamlessly in to 2016.

So here we go.

  • Write yourself lists.  Trying to remember all that you need to do, buy, pick up, drop off is stressful!  Lists are an easy way to take this aspect of stress out of your holiday season.
  • Before your party have a snack to curb your appetite.  A little bit of fullness goes a long way to avoiding the dessert tray.
  • Pass on the mixed drink and grab a glass of red wine.  Mixed drinks are full of sugar.  Red wine is fermented!
  • Drink water under the mistletoe.  Alcohol is dehydrating.  Water is not.  The Ying to the alcohol Yang.
  • Right hand nuts, left hand cookie tray (or vice versa if you are a lefty).  Nuts contain healthy fats, fiber and protein.  Most cookies do not.
  • Grab a plate.  Fill it up.  Move away.  Don’t graze around food table.
  • Stand while you talk.  Sitting too long slows everything down.
  • After a wonderful evening out, go home, shut down all your gizmos, turn off all the lights and get some sleep.  Quantity at this time of year may be wishful thinking so we are going for quality here.
  • When a new day begins, hydrate with water and take your vitamin D.  Our shortened days at this time of year severely impede our ability to get vitamin D naturally.  Vitamin D is essential for immunity.
  • Then recharge with a healthy breakfast and look forward to another great day!

Wishing all of you a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and health and happiness in 2016!

Hand in Hand

I recently had my semi annual check up with my oncologist and although I have been there many, many times before, the drive down Bayview Ave. to Sunnybrook Hospital still fills me with trepidation. It shouldn’t but it does.  The building stirs up such emotions that I think it will be forever thus.  Anyways this is actually a digression from where I want to be going.

I like to share with you information, ideas and personal reflections relating to cancer, my cancer story, health and wellness and really anything else that I think you may find interesting.

But nowhere will you find posts intentionally trying to stir up fear.  I don’t believe in it.  I think it is a cowardly way to get one’s point across and it undermines intelligence.  Enough said.

Most of you know that my own treatment for breast cancer was and continues to be a marriage of allopathic/medical treatment in combination with complimentary/alternative therapy.  And by alternative I mean nutrition and lifestyle applications.  I don’t believe that these two approaches go head to head but rather hand in hand.  I feel strongly that my medical team is second to none and working completely for my wellbeing.  I am not told what to do rather I am given my options and I make my decisions.  My doctors treat me with the utmost respect, compassion and intelligence.  During my medical treatments I informed my doctors of what I was doing in the natural realm and if concerns on their behalf arose we discussed and decisions were made.

Perhaps some may not be blessed with such care.  If this is the case I encourage you to search for better because in my heart of hearts I do believe that the future of cancer care is now and it is one of tolerance between Allopathic and  Complimentary Health Care with the ultimate goal being the appreciation in each camp of the outstanding value of both.

I’ll end here with a quick but heartfelt congratulations to my oncologist Dr. Sunil Verma @cancermd for his recent promotion to Medical Director, LouiseTemerty Breast Cancer Centre.

And to Dr. Danny Vesperini @dr_vesi for a great conversation and continued good fortune on the links!

These two guys make going to the hospital much easier.

An Ounce of Prevention

I must say that I am humbled by the overwhelming positive response that I have had in this short time with my Facebook Blog. And although I try to share information from sites and sources that I hold true there is a definite pattern that has emerged. The biggest responses that I get are from my personal posts. With that in mind I am offering up the following to you today.  And this will be a chorus that I sing many times.

An Ounce of Prevention

Depending upon what study you read, only a small percentage of cancer is hereditary. On average reports have been stating 5-10%. What exactly does this mean though? What it means is that our lifestyle choices, including exercise, stress management, hobbies, where we live etc. coupled with what we consume have a direct impact on our overall risk of cancer. In Canada statistics compiled from 2009 state that 2 out of every 5 Canadians will have cancer in their lifetime. Sadly this rate has only increased since then.

But here is the thing that for some reason gets lost in the shock value of those numbers. A vast majority of cancer may be preventable. And it is here that we should have the greatest hope. And it is in this area that I hope to make the greatest inroads to awareness. We can make adjustments now and stack the odds in our favour if we just take the time to understand what is needed for our body to function optimally.

Our body is in a constant state of seeking balance. Disease is the manifestation of the body’s inability to achieve such balance or homeostasis. Throughout the disease path undoubtedly our body has given signs and symptoms that it is struggling; tiredness, pain, lack of appetite, sudden weight loss just to name a few. Too often we turn a deaf ear to the body’s talk instead of listening to it and this is when disease can take a foothold.

Our body speaks to us all of the time. If we fail to learn its language we risk losing the early opportunities to make adjustments and provide the tools needed to prevent diseases such as cancer.

The path of prevention is a much friendlier road traveled than the treatment one.

There is so much wisdom in these words;

‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’

Busted!!

So our microwave caught on fire. I’d like to say that I lit the match but quoting Shaggy “It wasn’t me”. Can’t say I’m sad. I have been trying to get rid of that space sucking nutrient robbing piece of equipment for a long time now but have run in to serious opposition from my co-habitators upon suggesting such a preposterous thing. Looking at me as if I had just been issued a day pass, I get questions like “Well then how would I heat up my Burrito?” “What modern day family doesn’t own a microwave?” “Are you freaking serious?”

My family has actually been pretty good about jumping aboard the nutrition train that I started driving a few years ago. This however appears to be a game changer. Expediency and convenience are trumping my nutrition arguments. And I know they mean business when a family meeting is requested and we have a quorum!

My son has threatened to buy a new one and put it in his room. I guess where a microwave is concerned money is no object. Where to buy one however, seems to be stumping him.

I actually have no idea how this will end. But hoping for it to go my way, I have quietly started to move things in to the space once occupied by our deceased appliance.