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The Ikkuma Smoothie

ikkuma smoothieI’m always on the hunt for great smoothie recipes.  This recipe is a real super-smoothie with carefully selected functional foods to optimize your health.  Thanks Gary LeBlanc and the team at Ikkuma for sharing!!!

I have been experimenting with smoothies for decades. This recipe may seem daunting but it really isn’t that hard if you stage all the ingredients. I’ll try to make it as clear as possible. First I will list what needs to be staged, and then I will give you the recipe.

To be staged (prepared):

“Fruit & Vegetable” Staging: Clean and chop, beets, apples, purple cabbage, broccoli, celery, ginger, kale and garlic (one clove). You can effectively use whatever vegetables you want but I stress a good variety. Chop enough for about one week’s worth of smoothies (use trial and error for this one). My experience is that chopped vegetables, placed in a sealed container with one or two paper towel sheets at the bottom, can effectively keep relatively fresh for about one week. This will save a ton of time when making your smoothies.

“Seeds of Life” Mixture: Using a coffee grinder, grind sesame, chia, and flax seeds. Place them in a small Ziploc bag and store in your freezer. Try to keep it relatively fresh by only staging two weeks worth of the mixture, though the seeds should stay fresh in the freezer for longer than that.

The recipe:

Add the following ingredients to your high powered blender and blend until desired consistency. One small caveat: if you don’t have a VERY powerful blender, vegetables from the brassica (cabbage, broccoli and kale) family may promote gas. Try to introduce them slowly and if it doesn’t work simply substitute with other fruits or vegetables such as spinach, and avocado.:

¼ cup of organic almond or coconut milk

2 cups of the “Fruit & Vegetable” already prepared

1 heaping tablespoon of the Seeds of Life mixture

25-35 grams of high quality natural whey protein (or a vegan protein powder, such as sprouted brown rice, pea, or hemp)

½ cup of organic frozen berries and 1 tablespoon of shredded coconut

2 heaping tablespoons of organic yogurt (coconut yogurt can be used if you have dairy intolerance)

¼ tsp cinnamon to stabilize blood sugar and ¼ tsp of turmeric powder to load it with cancer fighting compounds

1 tsp of maca root powder for an energy kick (find this at any health food store)

1 heaping teaspoon of glutamine for muscle repair (if desired)

You can also add a serving of your favorite fish oil

2-3 ice cubes (if desired)

Check out the Ikkuma Blog for more great recipes and health tips:

One word: AMAZING!! This has incredible body repairing, immune system boosting, gut populating, cancer fighting, age reversing, and antioxidant flooding goodness!

What is Naturopathic Medicine?

Christine-1Navigating the world of complementary and alternative health can be confusing and daunting. It’s difficult to understand what different practitioners can offer and how they are trained.  Unfortunately, this gap in education and awareness can lead many people to miss out on the care they want and need.  I will start by breaking down the mystery that is Naturopathic Medicine.

The Premise:

Naturopathic Medicine is a primary health care system that integrates modern science with traditional, natural medical practices. The principal objective is to treat the underlying root cause of disease and to promote health and vitality as a preventative, lifelong goal.  It is also a way to treat common health concerns in a gentle, natural manner.

The Training:

In Ontario, licensed Naturopathic Doctors have at least seven years of post-secondary education, graduate from an accredited educational institution, receive their professional licensing from the Board of Directors of Drugless Therapy-Naturopathy (BDDT-N), and complete and pass rigorous international licensing exams (NPLEX).

Naturopathic Guiding Principles:

The primary goal for a naturopathic doctor is to determine and treat the underlying cause of disease rather than simply managing the symptoms. The symptoms are viewed as expressions of the body’s natural attempt to heal and are important indicators of where the body needs to be supported rather than suppressed.

Naturopathic Doctors seek to treat the individual. Rather than treating only one organ or system, the naturopathic doctor treats the whole person. Your physical health, family history, nutritional status, lifestyle, environmental and emotional stresses are all carefully evaluated to devise a treatment plan that is unique to you.

The body has a remarkable ability to sustain and heal itself.  Naturopathic doctors respect the power of the body to heal and seek to facilitate the body’s innate healing capacity. This may include removing obstacles to healing or using tools to strengthen and build up the body.

Naturopathic Treatment:

Naturopaths are trained in lifestyle medicine. By working with you, they can find a nutrition, exercise and lifestyle plan that elevates your health while fitting into your routine. By analyzing your diet, NDs are trained to address areas of deficiency and to find simple, sustainable ways to improve your energy and overall health.

As for treating the individual, naturopathic doctors look at your unique symptom pattern, identify health risks and devise a nutritional plan that matches your constitution. They can augment this by using targeted nutritional supplements to achieve better health.

Naturopathic Doctors have many other “Tools in their Toolbox.” These include: traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture, herbal medicine, homeopathy, hydrotherapy, massage therapy and chiropractic manipulation.  As well, most naturopaths participate in continuing education which may broaden their scope to include other therapies such as intravenous vitamin infusions, Bowen therapy, reiki, dark field microscopy and more.

A common question asked of naturopathic doctors is… what do naturopathic doctors treat? NDs are primary healthcare practitioners, and can treat the same conditions as a family doctor, including acute and chronic health conditions. In the event that an ND is unable to treat your condition, they will refer you to someone who can. Naturopathic Doctors often work on either end of the health spectrum. They are experts at helping those who are proactive and want to achieve optimal well-being by improving their diet and augmenting their health with targeted nutritional supplements and therapies such as acupuncture and hydrotherapy. Naturopathic Doctors also treat many individuals whom the conventional medical community is unable to assist (e.g. chronic disease cases). Naturopaths can be helpful in many different conditions; it is difficult to put them in a box. Instead, I will provide you with an example of how naturopathic medicine can help.

Meet Joe:

“Joe was having stomach difficulties.  For years, Joe had experienced bloating, gas, diarrhea and abdominal cramping.  After extensive medical investigation, his doctor diagnosed him with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). IBS is a diagnosis of exclusion, meaning that he doesn’t have any identifiable organic cause for the symptoms he is experiencing.  As a last resort, Joe decided to visit a Naturopathic Doctor who looked at all of the testing he had already been through and performed an intake and physical exam. During the intake, Joe admitted that many of the symptoms originated when he was at university. Joe’s stress levels rose dramatically and his nutritional intake diminished. Upon further examination, it was determined that two factors were at play here. Joe was identified as having a milk allergy.  All the pizza and ice cream he was consuming in residence was not helping. Secondly, Joe was experiencing a lot of stress, especially around his exam periods. By eliminating dairy, healing his gut, teaching Joe stress management techniques and using targeted nutritional supplements to improve his stress… Joe’s symptoms entirely disappeared. Joe was relieved and shocked that simple changes to his diet and lifestyle could make such impressive changes in the way he felt. Not only were his stomach symptoms resolved, he also slept better and had significantly more energy than he had previously.”

By looking at Joe as an individual, his Naturopathic Doctor was able to address the root cause of Joe’s problems. His symptoms were representative of a multifactorial problem, involving stress and diet.  Given that everybody is unique, the diet and lifestyle strategies had to be catered to his unique constitution. Joe now understands why he is experiencing these symptoms and how to better manage them himself.

How does Naturopathic Medicine fit into my current healthcare?

Naturopathic doctors are considered primary care practitioners, meaning they can be a first contact in any health concern.  However, I believe in integrative care, meaning Naturopathic Doctors can work with your team of healthcare practitioners to augment any treatment you may be receiving.  For example, if you are working with a Medical Doctor, NDs can work with your MD to help achieve optimal health.

John has been diagnosed with high blood pressure. His medical doctor is recommending medication, but John wants to examine if there are other ways to improve his condition. By working with a Naturopathic Doctor, John has addressed his diet, exercise regime and stress concerns which were contributing to his high blood pressure.  John’s Naturopathic Doctor was able to coordinate care with his Medical Doctor and slowly reduce his need for medication.

For more information on naturopathic medicine and how it can help you attain optimal health for life, visit the Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors (CAND):; Naturopathic Doctors Ontario (NDO):; The Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM):; The Board of Directors of Drugless Therapy – Naturopathy (BDDT-N):

– See more at:

The Ottawa Integrative Cancer Centre

By Dr. Christine Davis, B.Sc., Naturopathic Doctor, Magna Health Centre, Aurora, Ontario

Today, it is challenging to find someone whose life hasn’t been touched by the effects of cancer.  Cancer is immensely prevalent and it permeates all cultural and social divides.  The Canadian Cancer Society estimated there were 177,800 new cases of cancer (excluding 74,100 non-melanoma skin cancers) and 75,000 deaths from cancer in Canada in 2011.[1]  Despite this immense impact, cancer still poses a massive health risk. Not only is cancer a debilitating disease, but cancer treatments are often uncomfortable and incapacitating.

Are we doing all we can to help to prevent cancer and keep those people with cancer as healthy and comfortable as possible? Are we taking the necessary steps to prevent cancer before it takes hold?

There are ways that we can help to make cancer treatment less debilitating and cut down the probability of recurrence. I think we need to look outside the box of traditional cancer prevention and cancer care and ask how we can better serve this population.

“Integrative cancer care enhances conventional therapies and bolsters the prevention of recurrence. In addition, integrativeoncology provides systematic strategies to prevent cancer through lifestyle modification, such as nutrition and exercise. Recognizing synergy from a whole systems approach, integrative oncology provides new models for dealing with the epidemic of cancer.”

-Stephen Sagar, BSc (Hons), MB, BS, MRCP, FRCR, FRCPC, Radiation Oncologist, Past President, Society of Integrative Oncology, Professor of Oncology, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario

In November 2011, the first oncology center in Eastern Canada was opened: the Ottawa Integrative Cancer Centre (OICC), a not- for-profit organization that is governed by the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine. The OICC seeks to treat the whole person, using complementary therapies alongside conventional treatments. It works to provide education about prevention, support during treatment and prevention of cancer recurrence. The OICC works to optimize patients’ wellness, using innovative integrative treatment approaches.

The OICC provides evidence-informed integrative and preventative cancer care, research and education across the spectrum of prevention and survivorship. OICC emphasizes quality of life, care of the spirit, and active prevention of the disease.

The OICC is not only a center for clinical practice and education, but also a research facility striving to find the most effective and innovative evidence-based strategies to manage cancer.  Unlike pharmaceutical companies, natural health product manufacturers and practitioners of alternate therapies do not have the money to fund large clinical trials. This has often been a major deterrent, as the language of the conventional medical community is based on Randomized Clinical Trials.

The OICC is taking the lead on this, providing clarity and confidence to those searching for alternatives and sifting through the maze of alternative options to better improve patients’ well-being and to optimize their health. The OICC is also a trusted resource for health care practitioners looking to provide answers to their cancer patients on the safety and efficacy of the complementary treatments they are undergoing. Lack of understanding and often fear in the conventional medical community can deter patients from getting the alternative treatments they desire. The OICC is providing a model of integration that can be extrapolated to the entire medical community.

“I applaud the OICC’s commitment to being a leader in integrative oncology research. From interactions with mutual patients, I realize that the clinical care provided by the OICC has real value to the people under our care, and that this care can and should be expanded to others. With the research that we’ve done together already and the approach you take in science and clinical care, I believe the OICC will achieve great prominence as a valuable resource for patients.”

-Andrew J.E. Seely, MD, PhD, FRCSC, Associate Scientist, Ottawa Health Research Institute, Associate Professor of Surgery, University of Ottawa, Research Director, Division of Thoracic Surgery and Critical Care Medicine, The Ottawa Hospital

Seminars focus on information about nutrition, lifestyle factors, and stress management. OICC also works with the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation, providing workshops, seminars and online learning.  As well, the OICC has a special focus on environmental contributors to cancer and educates people on how to avoid this exposure.

The team of regulated health care practitioners at the OICC is truly integrative.  Specialties include naturopathic oncology, family therapy, physiotherapy, psychiatry, nutrition, acupuncture, massage therapy, exercise therapy and yoga. The OICC helps to decrease the side-effects of cancer treatment; improve energy, well-being and overall quality of health; balance the body’s immune system; and support the mind, body and spirit in the healing process. The OICC uses natural non-toxic therapies in collaboration with allied health care providers, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists and surgeons.

As well, the OICC seeks to bridge the gap between conventional and complementary oncology services. It is estimated that over 50% of cancer patients embrace complementary therapies, but most don’t communicate choices with conventional oncologists. The OICC has partnered with the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation and the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute to make integrative medicine a reality.

An Overview video of the OICC

For more information on how to become a patient at the OICC, cancer resources or cancer research, visit

Published by Ottawa Life Magazine:

Should We Be Warning People about the Dangers of Their Chair?

Check Out This Great Article from Dr. Craig Liebenson
On September 13, 2010, in Activity & Musculoskeletal Health, by Craig Liebenson ….Pr Janda’s Warning About Modern Lifestyle Proves Prophetic

The great Czech neurologist Pr Vladimir Janda stated that we are designed to take over 20,000 steps/day. Yet the average American takes less than 10,000 steps/day ! In fact, Pr Janda probably underestimated how much humans are designed to walk as the Amish typically take over 30,000 steps a day. We can say with certainty that 200,000 years of evolution have designed us to walk at least 3x as much as we now do. Our modern lifestyles have led homosapian into becoming homosedentarius. Or, as our German colleagues say homo erectus vulgaris.

What are the culprits? According to a recent summary – Too Much Sitting: The Population Health Science of Sedentary Behavior: Objective Assessment of Sedentary Time: New Findings

■Prolonged sitting
■TV watching
■Computer or internet useage
What is the effect of all this sitting? How about the big one – increased mortality!

If we look at the different modifiable risk factors that shorten life span –

■high blood pressure
It took billions of years before life on earth was able to evolve an upright species. Just 200,000 years ago that became possible. And, now in just the last few decades we have polluted this!

Sedentarism affects lifespan more than any of the other risk factors! Yet, prevention strategies more frequently focus on the others.

This is inline with the just launched “Designed to Move – A Physical Activity Action Agenda” from which the following are taken.

■‎”As economies grow, physical activity is systematically designed, innovated and engineered out of daily life.”
■World Health Organization’s definition of physical inactivity: “Percent of defined population attaining less than 5 times 30 minutes of moderate activity per week, or less than 3 times 20 minutes of vigorous activity per week, or equivalent.”
■2X the Federal Budget of DOE is spent on costs associated w/ inactivity.
■“Betz cells in the brain are essential to the development of fine motor skills” Between ages 7-11 we lose 50% of them!
■“Human beings are designed to move and be active. Our bodies evolved to meet the demands of human existence. And yet, research shows us that, as economies develop, their populations’ levels of activity become dangerously low. The human and economic costs of progress are staggering. Physical inactivity is a looming and dangerous threat to everyone’s health, well-being and quality of life. But most importantly it results in an erosion of human potential. Now, more than ever before, it is time for urgent action.”
■ China’s 1.3 billion citizens are becoming less physically active, at a higher rate, than any other nation: in less than a generation—only 18 years—physical activity declined by 45 percent.
■ “Today, physical inactivity is linked to approximately 5.3 million premature deaths worldwide each year— more than tuberculosis, lung cancer, HIV/AIDS or traffic accidents.”
■“Physical Activity: An Underestimated Investment in Human Capital?” by Bailey, Hillman, Arent and Petitpas (forthcoming, 2012).
■Compared to their inactive peers, physically active childrenwill be significantly healthier and wealthier.
■ Increased physical activity has been shown to lead to reductions in functional decline (frailty), coronary heart disease (CHD), and disability prior to death along with increased life expectancy have all been demonstrated.
More Warnings

■The Surgeon General has reported that only 22% of adults in the United States are active enough to derive benefits from activity. Inactive men 60 years of age who become active have a mortality rate 50% lower than their peers who remain inactive. A study of Harvard University alumni confirmed this result. Men who were initially sedentary, but later began engaging in vigorous sports had a 23% lower rate of mortality than their inactive counterparts (Paffenberger, 1993). A Honolulu Heart program found that retired men who walked >2 miles/day had half the mortality rate (22%) than those who walked <1 mile/day (43%) (Hakim).
■Many physicians counsel patients about smoking and body weight, but not about inactivity (Caspersen, 1985).
What is the primary function of human beings?


A Pain In Your Neck?

When we sit our muscles are active at about 4% of their maximum voluntary contraction ability (MVC). Yet, if maintained for over 10 minutes a negative metabolic state is established (Andersson, Sato). Such low levels of muscle contractions during static work loads can trigger fatigue and pain in the neck. (Hamilton, Jensen, Veiersted). Jensen suggested that any sustained static work load of greater than 10 minutes should not exceed 2% of MVC (Jensen).
Andersson GBJ. Occupational biomechanics in Wienstein JN, Wiesel SW, eds. The lumbar spine: the international society for the study of the lumbar spine. Philadelphia, WB Saunders, 1990 p 213.

Back Pain From Just Sitting?

Prolonged sitting is one of the most deleterious activities most people engage in. After only 3 minutes of full flexion of the spine ligamentous creep or laxity occurs which persists even after 30 minutes of rest! (Gunning, McGill). These ligaments are responsible for protecting our discs so it is no wonder that trivial early morning flexion (putting on socks) or bending after sitting for a prolonged period (picking up a pencil) can lead to a severe disc problem with nerve irritation (Adams and Hutton)

According to Bogduk and Twomney, “After prolonged strain ligaments, capsules, and IV discs of the lumbar spine may creep, and they may be liable to injury if sudden forces are unexpectedly applied during the vulnerable recovery phase.” Once a tissue is strained, it has difficulty returning to its original length.

Wilder showed that the motor control signature associated with low back pain involves – a slow reaction time, decreased peak torque output (power), and increased after discharges when irregular load is handled (sustained elevated muscle tension). Prolonged sitting was shown to further disturb these variables and a brief walking break to improve them again.

Solomonow et al have demonstrated that the creep reaction may be much more stubborn than previously believed. Reduced muscle activity with spasms were found during static flexion periods during a 7 hour recovery period. Multifidus spasm and acute inflammation of ligaments were noted. The dysfunction was reported to outlast the period over which strain occurred by 60X!

Most people when they have a problem or as they age tend to associate activity with risk. Yet, doing “too little too late” is often more dangerous than doing “too much too soon”. If a person has a problem with activity they should seek a health care professionals advice. But, when people are sedentary they often do not have symptoms until it is too late.

Fall prevention is an obvious example. The mortality risk in an elderly person is greater than from cancer or heart disease! Simple exercises such as basic Tai Chi have been shown to reduce fall risk and thus mortality in the coming year in seniors.

Berry Sneaky Green Smoothie Recipe

Smoothies are a great way to pack in the nutrients. They are chock full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. As well, adding a protein supplement will improve blood glucose control and keep you satisfied until your next snack. Flax seeds will also reduce hunger, keep you regular and can improve hormonal imbalances. Once you get the hang of it, smoothies are a quick, ready-to-go breakfast that is easily digestible great tasting, and satisfying. This recipe requires a good blender. I recommend the Vitamix or Blendtec. If you have a sub-par blender, try substituting the spinach with a greens supplement.

1 cup baby spinach (or more if you like)
1 cup of almond milk (water, rice milk, soy milk can be substituted)
1 cup of berries (blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, or a mix)
½ frozen banana
1 Tbs. of ground flax seeds (or 1 Tbs. flax oil)
1 serving of a powdered protein supplement

1. Blend the flax seeds until ground
2. Add the almond milk and baby spinach, starting with the blender at low speed and increasing until smooth
3. Add berries and frozen bananas and blend until smooth
4. Add powdered protein and blend briefly
5. If smoothie is too thick, more almond milk, water or ice can be added to achieve your desired consistency.
6. Enjoy as soon as possible to maximize nutritional benefits

Optional additions:

1 Tbsp. coconut oil (great source of healthy saturated fats)
1 Tbs. almond butter (great source of monounsaturated fats, vitamins, minerals, protein and fiber)
2 open capsules of probiotics (for healthy digestive and immune function)
liquid vitamin D (especially important in the winter for healthy immune function)
ice (helps to make the smoothie more palatable)
¼ cup cranberry or pomegranate juice (packs a fruity punch)
Pinch of cinnamon (for blood glucose control)

Walnuts Give Sperm an Extra Kick!

Researchers have found that a couple handfuls of walnuts a day can make a man’s sperm stronger, faster and better looking. It is possible that this will lead to further investigations examining walnuts as a natural solution to male fertility problems.

The researchers recruited 117 healthy men – none of who were infertile – ages 21 to 35, who were eating normal Western diets.Half the men got a batch of snack-sized packs of walnuts to eat every day on top of their normal diets, while the others just continued normally. The researchers tested their sperm at the beginning and after three months.

Results showed that the men who were eating the walnuts had more sperm that had normal shapes compared to men just on the regular diets. This is attributed to the walnut’s healthful omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins such as folic acid, and minerals such as zinc and selenium which are all known building blocks for sperm development.

Because nuts are high in fat, the dose of walnuts had to be considered. The study used about 75 grams a day which was an amount high enough to raise the omega-3 fatty acid levels in the blood, but did not result in weight gain or elevated cholesterol.

About 20 percent of the men in the study had lower than normal sperm counts, although they hadn’t been diagnosed as infertile. The sperm of these men, it turned out, improved the most after eating walnuts every day for three months.

Other studies in the past have shown that taking fish oils with omega 3 fatty acids also raise a man’s sperm count, however this study wanted to test this phenomenon through real, sustaninable foods like the walnut, rather than from fish based supplements.

The next wave of research will likely look into men with fertility problems, to see if the same elevation in sperm quality and quantity exists.

Bottom line: If you are trying to conceive, add just less than 2/3 of a cup of walnuts to your daily diet. You can eat them plain, or put them over your morning cereal or yogurt.

The New Wave of Chiropractic Medicine

Cosmetic Acupuncture now being offered at the Magna Health Centre!

Cosmetic acupuncture helps to eliminate fine lines and makes deeper lines appear softer.  It can also help to minimize dark circles, puffy eyes, double chin, sagging skin, and drooping eyelids.

Other benefits include:

  • Increases circulation and therefore oxygenation of the skin
  • Increases collagen production
  • Tightens the pores, and brightens the eyes
  • Keeps acne skin under control
  • Nourishes the skin, giving you a healthy complexion with a natural glow
  • Moisturizes the skin from the inside, and gives rosy cheeks to people with dull, tired looking skin

The course of the treatment is between 10-12 sessions.  This will be done 1-3 times a week for best results.  Each individual will respond differently to the treatment depending on their age and lifestyle.  Visible results will be noticeable after 6 -7 sessions.  Maintenance maybe needed once every month.  In addition, Cosmetic Acupuncture will maintain the effectiveness of Botox, so it will save you a couple injections per year.

For more information, call the Magna Health Centre at (905) 726-7470.  Or come in for a free 15 minute consult to learn more!

Dr. Milley interviewed at The International Laser Therapy Conference!

Keep Cortisol at Bay for Better Health

Christine Davis, Naturopathic Doctor

We all know that stress isn’t good for our bodies… so what can we do about it? Stress can come in many forms. Many of us think only of the psychological stress, caused by family, work, life events or persistent worrying. However, physical stress is just as real and just as dangerous for our bodies. Lack of exercise, poor diet, food allergies or even weather changes can be a physiological stressor for our bodies. In contrast, excessive exercise can also be a major stressor for our bodies.

So why is stress bad for us? Stress can impact a multitude of physiological reactions in our bodies. Symptoms of excessive stress can be; insomnia, fatigue, weight changes (especially an accumulation of fat around the abdomen), headache, respiration problems, heart irregularities, digestive disturbances (e.g., bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation), and psychological upsets (e.g. anger, irritability, rage, depression, anxiety). These stress responses can result in further complications. For example, stress can disrupt sleep, which can result in hormonal imbalances and will also trigger more stress. Many hormones are up-regulated during sleep, including growth hormone and melatonin. Growth hormone is an anabolic hormone that helps to build muscle and decrease fat mass.

Acute stress produces the hormone cortisol in the adrenal glands. Cortisol serves the body in non-stressful times and when called to respond to an acute crisis, however, it can cause damage when levels are high during chronic stress. Cortisol suppresses the immune system, in particular white blood cells, which is why it is used as an anti-inflammatory medication. Cortisol is also a catabolic steroid hormone, meaning it breaks things down (versus anabolic hormones, which are building hormones). It is known to break down collagen, bone and muscle. This can result in osteoporosis, joint pain and in severe cases, abdominal obesity and loss of muscle mass in the extremities.

How do we combat stress? There are many strategies to help cope with stress. Firstly, it is important to recognize what causes you stress and try to reduce or manage this stressor. If the stress is modifiable (e.g. time management), then take steps to manage this. For example, if your stress is caused by a busy lifestyle, make sure to create lists, assume tasks to reasonable expectation and to delegate whenever possible. Participating in relaxing activities, such as yoga, pilates, baths, singing, baking, laughing, and journaling can also help. Seek out care when necessary including massage, acupuncture or body-work. Take regular vacations, even media vacations from blackberries and e-mail can be helpful.

Another useful relaxation practice is deep breathing. Breathe in for a count of 7, and out for a count of 11. Breathe into your belly and expand you diaphragm, rather than your chest and shoulders. Repeat as often as needed- ideally 10-15 min 3 times per day.

There are also nutrients and supplements that can help. Magnesium supplementation can help to reduce cortisol after aerobic exercise. Omega-3 Fatty acids can help manage psychological stress. Vitamin C and B-vitamins dampen cortisol release in response to mental and physical stressors. Licorice (glycyrriza glabra) can help to build up the adrenals after chronic stress (don’t take this if you have high blood pressure). Herbs such as Ashwaganda and Rhodiola are known as adaptogens, meaning they can help you adapt to stress. L-Theanine supports normal brain alpha-wave activity, resulting in a calming effect to the sympathetic nervous system. It is always best to consult a medical professional when beginning a new supplement regime.