Prioritizing Your Health This Fall
We are quickly moving into cold + flu season, and still dealing with COVID-19. That’s putting health at the top of many people’s minds – and rightly so. But we’re here to remind you that the Clinic is open and meeting with patients in person and virtually every day. If you’d like to book your appointment, reach out to our Front Desk team today.
This month’s Healthy View features information about using up your benefits before the end of the year, an amazing article about supporting your immune system from Dr. Melissa Cugliari – our naturopathic doctor, and a collaborative article about strengthening your hockey performance this winter from Chris Broadhurst & Dr. Tim Rindlisbacher.
Gift of Health
2020 has been quite the year. For many, our stress and anxiety levels have never been higher. For others, we’ve had to tackle solo workouts at home, which opens us up to more potential injuries.
One thing that hasn’t changed though is that the year is coming to an end, and your window to use up your benefits is quickly closing.
Whether you’re looking for chiropractic, physiotherapy, athletic therapy, registered massage therapy, naturopathy, or orthotics, our team can get you sorted before year end. Appointments can be booked with our Front Desk team here.
Have a friend who may be interested in scheduling their own appointment? Send them our promotion and have them reach out to our team directly.
Simple Yet Highly Effective Ways to Support Your Immune System
Supporting immune function is foundational in overall health; when the immune system is functioning optimally, each system in the body will be supported. Strong immunity lends itself to the prevention of cold + flu and chronic diseases like cancer, as well as cellular repair which leads to graceful aging and longevity.
Naturopathic medicine offers many highly effective ways to support the immune system. Here are my top naturopathic tips to boost immunity.
- Vitamin D: Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that optimizes immunity. Because vitamin D is synthesized by the skin when it is exposed to sunlight unprotected, as Canadians our blood levels of this vitamin start to decline in mid-September as a result of less sun exposure. Generally, 1000IUs of an emulsified vitamin D in supplemental form is sufficient to maintain levels when supplementation starts in September. If not, there is a chance you may be deficient. I recommend having your blood levels checked annually by your naturopath or medical doctor to determine your vitamin D levels, and how much supplemental support you require to achieve adequacy.
- Vegetables: I suggest 8-12 servings of vegetables daily (4-6 cups) to ensure you are taking in a variety of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that support immune health. Eat organic where possible. Variety is key - the more colours you eat, the more nutrients you will receive. Opt for cooked vegetables (roasted, steamed, sauteed, in soups) as we head into the colder weather to optimize digestion.
- Sleep: When we rest is when we heal. Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night. When you are feeling under the weather or burnt out, always opt for closer to 9 hours until you feel restored. Remember, sleep is not a luxury, it is a necessity. If sleep is an issue for you, see your naturopath who can determine the root cause for the sleep disturbance and assist you in rebalancing your system through supplementation and lifestyle medicine so that you are able to sleep restfully.
- Avoid sugar: Studies show that when you consume sugar, your immune function declines for up to 50% in the several hours following consumption. Avoid all processed sugars, syrups, sweeteners, and alcohol, and instead eat naturally sweet, whole foods daily - pomegranates, apples, sweet potato, carrots, squash, and other seasonally available produce to provide your body with the nutrients it needs so that you are not craving other processed sweets.
- Minerals: Minerals are incredibly important fuel for the immune system. Dietary minerals are available primarily through vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and high-quality shellfish or animal products. Consider adding three raw brazil nuts and a handful of raw pumpkin seeds to your diet daily, along with one cup of steamed or sauteed spinach and/or kale daily to increase your mineral intake. Supplementation of individual minerals like zinc, selenium, or magnesium may be considered but always consult a licensed naturopathic doctor to ensure you are choosing the correct minerals, their correct form, the right dosages, and combinations. Minerals are very complex and must be taken in the proper ratios; if we over-supplement with one, we may inadvertently cause a deficiency in the other if we are not careful.
- De-Stress: This is easier said than done, but is of the utmost importance. Stress reduction looks different for each person, but implementing stress management practices daily is a must. When we are in a calm state, the nervous system allows the immune system to function optimally. One tool I recommend is breathwork; this is incredibly effective at calming the nervous system and exercising lung function. Start with three minutes first thing upon waking; set a timer and, either sitting up or lying in bed with the eyes closed, take long deep breaths in for four counts, hold for four, and exhale for four. Continue for the duration of your timer. You can repeat this any time during the day or again before bed.
The immune system overall can be very well supported with the proper diet and lifestyle techniques. Although there are a variety of immune boosting products on the market, be weary: not all supplements are created equal and ultimately, no supplement or product can make up for a poor diet and lifestyle. Always consult with your naturopathic doctor or medical physician before beginning any new supplements or making drastic changes to diet and lifestyle.
Dr. Melissa Cugliari
Take this Pandemic Time to Build Your Hockey Performance
Whether it’s the dressing room pre-game banter, the thrill of the on-ice competition, or the comradery of the post-game refreshments, we’ve all been missing our hockey norms this year. Across the GTA, certain regions are closer to or further from our expected norms and the restrictions many of us are experiencing can be frustrating, to say the least.
Thankfully, a silver lining exists, according to the Sport Medicine Clinic’s Chris Broadhurst, who was a former head NHL trainer for 20+ years. The pandemic has offered up the perfect opportunity to improve your hockey performance.
Movement Preparation replaces traditional pre-workout stretching in order to not only improve your current workout but to serve as the foundation to long-term tissue quality. Through these exercises, you’ll lengthen and strengthen muscles with perfect posture and decrease injury potential by improving tissue quality. Add these exercises into your existing routine for 5-10 minutes a day and you’ll enjoy more benefits in less time.
Equally as important is Pillar Prep - Pillar Strength, which is the foundation of all movement. It consists of the hip, torso (or core), and shoulder stability. Movement starts from the very centre of the body, the core area of the torso. We want the hub to be perfectly aligned and stable, so we can draw energy from it and effectively transfer energy throughout the body. Click here to check out a quick Pillar Prep - Pillar Strength workout you can add to your routine.
For those looking for on-ice opportunities, we have more good news. The Clinic’s new Sports Medicine Physician and NHLPA consultant, Dr. Tim Rindlisbacher, suggests keeping up your skating for the sake of injury prevention, “We used to think the body needed to rest each off-season. But for several years we’ve known groin strains can be prevented by participating in on-ice sessions throughout the year.”
Broadhurst, an expert on hockey injuries, also sees the pandemic restrictions as an ideal chance to fix our nagging injuries once and for all rather than stick with the typical pain/rest (ignore) cycle we all tend to follow. He remarks, “Athletes are known to train and play through pain but this causes compensations or “energy leaks”. The number one precursor to injury is previous injury which means that we’ve probably not completely rehabilitated and corrected the issue before returning. We have the ability to assess and screen the players today to ensure that they are not returning to play with these compensations. My advice would be to not believe the injury is healed simply because the pain has subsided. Athletes compensate (cheat!) better than most but at what cost to their overall health and performance? Their bodies believe the old adage, “If you’re not cheating, you’re not trying hard enough”.” Take the time now to eliminate your “energy leaks”. Seek out expert professional care to build your hockey performance.
Lastly, many hockey players, especially those playing in older adult leagues, are justifiably concerned about returning to the hockey environment this season. As the Chief Medical Officer for the Ontario Hockey Federation, it is Dr. Tim’s task to provide advice regarding the safest ways to return to the game, “In terms of outbreaks on hockey teams, there’s a growing body of evidence to show that on-ice interactions may not be the risky culprits they were once thought to be.” He says, “Sitting on the bench shoulder to shoulder, or not wearing masks at all times in the dressing rooms are likely a much larger issue than the very brief times we come within 2 m of other players during a game.”
We all know exercise has a broad range of health benefits. Many hockey players have found other ways of staying active during this “rest” period. While it’s wise to keep moving, it’s also clear that this passive approach to hockey specific demands on our bodies is likely to catch up with us eventually. So, if strapping on the blades is your passion, snatch this ideal time to move closer to your optimal playing status. Your body and your buddies will thank you for it.
Dr. Tim Rindlisbacher
Consultant Sports Medicine Physician