Build your best mood this summer season

It’s almost July, and that means warm temperatures, holiday travels, and hopefully more time spent with family and friends! Although we hope that you’re feeling a sense of joy and positivity as this season approaches – you may instead be feeling irritated or sad. 

Let’s dig into what 'mood' means, and the three ways you can build your most positive, buoyant mood this summer season.   

Understanding your Mood

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Mood is a temporary state of mind or feeling. We usually associate mood with emotions and use descriptive words to define our mood. 

Positive Mood descriptors:

  • Blissful
  • Cheery
  • Joyful
  • Mellow
  • Silly

Negative Mood descriptors:

  • Annoyed
  • Cranky
  • Grumpy
  • Irritated
  • Sad

Happiness researcher, Sonja Lyubomirsky, has identified 3 influences of mood. She reports that personality traits predispose our particular moods, which account for 50% of our "set point" of happiness. 40% is influenced by what we do deliberately to make ourselves happy while the remaining 10% is attributed to life circumstances.

Mood disorders affect over 20 million Americans, with major depression and bipolar disorder being among the most common types of mood disorders. Genetics are known to play a major role in influencing susceptibility to mood disorders. While we can’t influence our genetic predisposition, there are medical and natural methods for boosting mood.

Once diagnosed with a mood disorder, please keep in mind to always follow your doctor’s advice, and only use alternative therapies if they are appropriate for you.

 

Ways to build your best mood

If 50% of our happiness is determined by genetics, that means the other 50% is something we can influence!

Lifestyle choices are the biggest influencer we have control over.

#1. Food

Surprisingly, what we eat can affect our mental and emotional health. Certain foods can bring about changes in our brain structure (both chemically and physiologically), which can lead to altered behaviour.

What we eat impacts us in both a positive and negative way. We need food as fuel, however different nutrients have different effects on mood!

NUTRIENTS TO GET MORE OF:

  • Omega-3
  • Tryptophan
  • Vitamin D
  • Selenium

FOODS TO AVOID:

  • Caffeine
  • Sugar
  • Unhealthy fats

 

#2. Sleep

The amount of sleep we get each night also impacts our mood. There’s nothing worse than being sleep-deprived while trying to maintain a positive outlook during difficult times.

Sleep and mood are inherently connected as poor sleep can cause irritability and stress, and stress can cause sleeplessness. Adopting regular sleep habits is crucial to getting the proper amount of sleep your body needs, and the following are a few steps you can take starting today:

  • Keep a regular sleep-wake schedule
  • Avoid caffeine too late in the day
  • Start a calming pre-sleep routine
  • Exercising regularly and early on in the day

 

#3. Physical activity

Physical activity and its mood-boosting effects have been the subject of numerous studies. The results of these studies indicate that exercise can:

  • Trigger positive emotional processing
  • Reduce negativity
  • Resist stress
  • Reduce anxiety by increasing serotonin levels
  •  Improves body satisfaction, leading to overall satisfaction

There is strong evidence that physical activity improves both short-term and long-term mood. Studies further show people who exercise regularly exhibit general overall happiness.

As such, physical activity is especially important for those vulnerable to depression or seasonal affective disorder.

Since this is a beautiful time of year, try walking outdoors each day. This activity is two-fold! You get the benefits of released endorphins by walking while enjoying nature which is also a natural mood booster. If you’re not sure what local parks or nature preserves are around, ask locals or look on the internet.

Other places to look for include botanical gardens, beaches, historical neighbourhoods, and walking trails. There are more places to explore on foot than you’d think!

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5 Ways to Increase Water Intake

Water intake is a struggle for so many.  I constantly have to remind myself to drink my water. Thirst naturally decreases with age, and this means it is easier to become dehydrated as we age.  

To combat this, here are my favourite tips to help keep your body well hydrated:  

  1. Drink the biggest glass of water first thing in the morning: This is my best tool for hydration.  I find it helps to initial my thirst response and it feels good getting so much of my water goal into me before my day begins.  Often, I will pour it the night before and put it on my night stand so it's right there and ready to drink first thing in the morning! This is a simple habit to incorporate into your daily routine beyond the cleanse.  Getting a good start on hydration is always beneficial.  
  2. Keep track of your water intake: purchase a reusable stainless steel bottle (1 - 1.5L) and fill it up in the morning and challenge yourself to finish it before the work day is over at 6pm.
  3. Add flavour: squeeze some lemon, lime, orange or cucumbers to your water for extra flavour (avoid Crystal light and other aspartame based sweeteners).
  4. Add ice: cooler water seems to go down easier for some people.
  5. Include herbal tea, freshly squeezed juices or bone broth to keep your hydration strong: check out  Distinctly Tea for amazing tea and their very own Detox Tea; Goodvibes Juice & PURE Juice Bar + Kitchen delicious freshly squeezed juices and Bone Broth can be found at better health food stores and grocers. 

Support Your Cleanse with Water, Water, and More Water

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Optimal water intake is essential during a cleanse!  It's one of those habits you want to exercise and plan to keep up beyond the cleanse.  So many unhealthy symptoms can be improved simply by increasing water: better skin, less constipation, reduction in headaches, and increased clarity.  

Water helps to move toxins out of our body either through our skin, bowel, urinary, or respiratory organs.  Since cleansing increases the mobilization of toxins, it's important that we do everything possible to support the elimination of toxins.  When toxins are not being eliminated properly they just stay in our system.  So drink water - lots of water.

You maybe wonder how much your body needs?  Well, it all depends on your size and level of activity and how much you’re sweating.  A general guideline is approximately 2L or 8 glasses of water, herbal tea, or broth per day. 
 
If you are exercising or sweating a lot you will need an additional cup of water for each 15 minutes of exercise/sweat.

Always listen to your body.  When I am dehydrated I start to bite my lips.  Others may experience increased headaches.  The easy way to assess if you're hydrated is to look in the toilet bowl!  If your urine is quite clear and odourless, you are well hydrated!

CLICK HERE for your Toilet Bowl Hydration Chart.

The Power of Colour and Phytonutrients

Simply aiming to include a rainbow of colours at each meal can significantly change the way you enjoy your food.  Not only is a colourful plate of food very beautiful and appealing to the senses, but it also will ensure you're getting the wide array of phytonutrients in your diet.  

Plant foods (fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts, beans, and tea) contain thousands of natural chemicals. These are called phytonutrients or phytochemicals. "Phyto" refers to the Greek word for plant. These chemicals act like a natural pesticide and help protect plants from germs, fungi, bugs, and other threats. Phytonutrients also give plants their rich colour and flavour.  In fact, when crops are sprayed with commercial pesticides it stunts the natural production phytonutrients.  You may have noticed that organic foods tend to be more flavourful and deeper in colour then conventionally grown food.   

Phytonutrients help prevent disease and keep your body working properly.  More than 25,000 phytonutrients are found in plant foods. Some examples include:  Carotenoid, Ellagic acid, Flavonoids, Resveratrol, Glucosinolates, Phytoestrogens.  Check out the list below for top phytonutrient rich foods!

  • Berries
  • Apples
  • Red and purple grapes
  • Red wine
  • Tea (green, black, oolong and white teas)
  • Cocoa - aka dark chocolate (at least 70%)
  • Cruciferous vegetables - cabbage, cauliflower, kale, bok choy, brussel sprouts, broccoli, arugula, collards, radish, watercress, sprouts
  • Yellow onions and scallions 
  • Celery 
  • Turnip 
  • Citrus
  • Garlic
  • Parsley, thyme, mustard, tumeric
  • Chickpeas and legumes 

 

 

Love Your Liver

The liver plays a very important role in cleansing the body. 

In fact, every minute the liver filters 2L of blood.  Everything you eat and drink is absorbed by the intestines and transported directly to the liver via the Portal-Venous System for filtering before it can move into the circulation of the body.  After we absorb food and drink, the liver decides what is excreted through the bowels and urine and what remains in the body.  

When the liver is overloaded, it is simply not able to properly filter and immediately remove toxins. Nor is it able to keep up with general housekeeping in the body.  When we eat clean and reduce alcohol, however, the liver has so much more energy to dedicate to filtering and detoxifying.  

There are many factors that stress the liver and overwork it. 

 

Common environmental and lifestyle factors that put extra strain on liver function include:

  • Food additives/processed foods
  • Alcohol
  • Pesticides
  • Medications
  • Cleaning products
  • Water pollution
  • Air pollution
  • Personal care/beauty products

Your liver is working especially hard during this cleanse to help rid your body of toxins.  In addition to eating clean and reducing alcohol, there are other great tools that you can use to support your liver function.  


Eat foods which supercharge your liver, including: 

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  • Cruciferous vegetables (collard greens, brussel sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy, kale, cabbage)
  • Glutathione rich foods (avocado, asparagus, walnuts)
  • Garlic
  • Beets
  • Turmeric
  • Lemons
  • Leafy green

 

Teas that support the liver include: 

  • Dandelion
  • Milk thistle
  • Peppermint
  • Turmeric 

 

Castor oil packs and your liver
Castor oil packs over the liver are a great way to draw more blood and nourishment toward your hard working liver.  You can find castor oil at Fiddleheads, and they also sell full castor oil kits.  For instructions on how to do castor oil treatments CLICK HERE.  It's cheap and easy to do!  I recommend doing it while reading, watching your favourite TV show or relaxing.  

For best results, do castor oil treatments 3 - 4/week for 30 - 45 min.  You can continue to do this treatment all year through! For your information, your liver is located under the bottom half of your right ribcage.  

Turmeric Latte aka Golden Milk

  • 1 tbs turmeric
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 1 cup milk alternative
  • Sprinkle of ground pepper (to help absorb the turmeric)

 

Liver Juice
If you have a juicer this is a great liver-loving recipe!  If you don't have a juicer, a high powered blender can allow you to create the same recipe - just add approximately a cup of water to create a juice.  

  • 1 large beet root
  • 4 leaf red cabbage
  • 3 medium carrots
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1 apple
  • 1/4 pineapple - 1/4 fruit
  • 2 handfulls spinach

 

Sweat to Your Health

Whether you're participating in the Annual KW Cleanse or you're looking to optimize your health all year round,  getting your sweat on is essential to support your body's inherent need to cleanse and eliminate toxins.

Skin is the body's largest elimination organ. It plays a very important role in the elimination of toxins from the body.  Some toxins can only be released through sweat and sweating is especially beneficial for the release of heavy metals such as mercury.

Enjoy the many benefits of a good sweat: 

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  • Eliminates toxic from the body
  • Boosts endorphins 
  • Prevents colds and the flu
  • Pain relief and treatment for arthritis
  • Weight loss 
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Purifies skin
  • Stress reduction
  • Temperature tolerances (it's actually great to sweat during the summers to help you handle the ambient temperature better)

 

Boost Your Health with Sweat

Wondering how you can get your sweat on? There are a few different ways you can go about this, for example: infrared saunas, hot yoga, and fitness training.

 

Why infrared saunas?
Infrared saunas have been shown to have even greater health benefits than conventional saunas because of infrared's ability to stimulate a greater effect on circulation and the sweat response so you are able to sweat out even more toxins.  

In the KW community, Moksha Yoga Waterloo powers its hot yoga rooms with infrared heat! This yoga practice activates your sweat as well as supporting resistance exercise and stretching. All wonderfully beneficial to optimal health! 
 


What if you don't have access to a sauna? 
No sweat, you just have to go back to good old exercise!  Sweating is so important for good health. If you don't have a sauna, then do other activities which you enjoy and help you to get your sweat on - like dancing, resistance training, or cycling. 
 


Remember to monitor your hydration levels!
In addition to your daily water needs (approx 2L/day), when you're working up a good sweat aim to consume an extra 220 ml of water for every 15 minutes of sweating! 

Vitamin N: The New Prescription 

Today's cleanse tip is brought to you by Dr. Jen!
 

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Cleansing is a time to restore our bodies and remind ourselves how good we can feel.  

It's also a great time to start some new habits that will keep you healthy all year round.  This year, we want you to consider adding some vitamin N to your daily prescription.  Some of the benefits you can expect are increased feelings of calm and peacefulness, improved focus, a sharper short-term memory and even lowered mortality rates.  

If fact, the results are so staggering that this vitamin is starting to make the most savvy doctors prescription sheets. The best part is that this one is side effect free and costs nothing. 

As you may have guessed, vitamin N is Nature.  Research shows that spending regular time outside in a park, green space or the forest can boost our wellbeing more than a $20,000 raise and the spring is a perfect time to start this healthy, stress busting habit.  

Become aware of how much time you spend in natural environments and you will see that most of us actually spend more time in our vehicles than enjoying this precious commodity.   It's no wonder that depression is now the leading cause of illness and disability worldwide.   In our over-stressed society, consider giving yourself the gift of a walk through the trees as often as possible!

4 Ways to Stimulate Your Lymphatic System

Don't know much about the lymphatic system?  Don't worry, you’re not alone! It's a new concept to most people.

The lymphatic system is a network of tissues and organs that primarily consists of lymph vessels, lymph nodes and lymph. The tonsils, adenoids, spleen and thymus are all part of the lymphatic system.  

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The primary function of the lymphatic system is to transport lymph, a clear, colourless fluid containing white blood cells that helps rid the body of toxins, waste and other unwanted materials.  The lymphatic system is vital to cleansing the body.  

There are 600 to 700 lymph nodes in the human body, and these nodes filter the lymph before it returns to the circulatory system.  The volume of fluid in the lymphatic system is twice the volume of blood and it consists of 80% water.  Proper hydration is essential for optimal function of the lymphatic system.  

An unhealthy lymphatic system can lead to an impaired immune system and serious health problems such as fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, chronic fatigue syndrome, cancer, obesity, aches and pains, bloating, digestive problems.

 

Why you Need to Stimulate the Lymphatic System


Unlike the cardiovascular system, which has the heart to pump the blood through the blood vessels, the lymphatic system has no pump so it needs to be stimulated manually to work properly.  

The lymphatic system works best through regular muscle contraction.  The pumping of the muscles help to move the lymphatic fluid through the body and ultimately removing toxins from the body.  

 

How to Stimulate your Lymphatic System

 

1. Exercise 30 minutes daily
The skeletal muscles are particularly important to stimulate the lymphatic system.  All forms of exercise help to move lymphatic flow, even brisk walking!

2. Trampolines are not just for kids
Light bouncing on a trampoline is fantastic for lymphatic stimulation.  This is also know as REBOUNDING.  You can use any size trampoline and just 5 minutes daily is a great place to start. This is a fantastic way to jump-start your day and bring energy to your morning routine.  

If you don't have a trampoline and want to get started right away, skipping rope, jumping jacks and running give similar results.

3. Dry skin brushing
This not only stimulates your lymphatic system but is also great for your skin!  CLICK HERE  for instruction on how to make your skin glow and lymphatics flow.

4. Lymphatic massage
Lymphatic message is a special techniques that supports healthy lymphatic drainage.  Ask your massage therapist about lymphatic massage at your next appointment. 

Cleansing your Makeup Bag

Today's cleanse tip is brought to you by Dr. Ben!

DetoxMe App

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Download this app to help track your paraben exposure - find it on your smart phone and start your journey to reducing your toxic exposure to parabens and other common chemicals found in cosmetics.   

Here are some tips to making a smooth and cost-effective transition to chemical free cosmetics:

  1. Take inventory of your makeup bag and get rid of toxic items that you rarely use.
  2. Replace frequently use items as they run out with less toxic options.
  3. Take advantage of the amazing deals our cosmetic and beauty sponsors are offering!  15 - 30% WOW!  And treat yourself to a couple of new products! CLICK HERE to check out the deals

Dr. Ben speaks on parabens - their danger, how we're exposed and how to protect yourself!

This Spring, Give Your Sugar Cravings the Boot

If you’ve ever grooved to Nancy Sinatra’s 1966 hit, These Boots are Made for Walkin’, you have probably taken to heart the message to walk out on something (or someone!) that is hurting you.

This spring, put on your walkin’ boots, and break up with sugar.

The average North American consumes 26 teaspoons each day. This figure should scare you! The World Health Organization (WHO) has released a new guideline which recommends that adults and children reduce their daily intake of free sugars to less than 10 percent of their total energy intake.

A further reduction to below 5 percent or roughly 25 grams (6 teaspoons) per day would provide additional health benefits. Reducing to six teaspoons of sugar includes any refined, added sugar, as well as naturally occurring sugars.

Sugar has proven to be eight times more addictive than cocaine. This means that cutting back on sugar consumption will result in some obvious withdrawal symptoms.

Are you ready to start walking a new direction in your life, away from your sugar habit? Here are 5 steps to helping you kick your sugar addiction.

 

1.Quit cold turkey

Remember that sugar is proving to be the most addictive substance in the world!

To break you sugar addiction, it is best to go cold turkey for three weeks. You will likely experience some withdrawal symptoms (e.g. headaches, sugar cravings). You may find your cravings are most frequent during the three to five days after cutting out refined sugar.

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After the three-week sugar detox, you can reintroduce sugar back into your diet for a maximum of six (6) teaspoons per day.

Avoid the foods in the list at right. Reintroducing sugar in moderation to the diet gives you the flexibility you need to enjoy an ice cream cone on a hot summer day or a crème brule at your favourite restaurant.

You may also find that some days you need no sugar, and that’s great. Moderation is always key to living a balanced and healthy life.

 

2.Rethink your drink and avoid liquid sugar

Liquid sugar is where most of us get our ‘discretionary’ or ‘empty’ calories. Sugar is hiding in the following beverages: flavour shots for coffee, pop, fruit juices from concentrate, chocolate milk, energy drinks, smart water, sports drinks, alcohol, and more! Instead, choose water, carbonated water, and caffeine-free herbal tea.

 

3.Avoid artificial sweeteners

Although artificial sweeteners don’t contain any sugar, they do increase insulin levels and have shown to contribute to weight gain.  Artificial sweeteners are chemicals. They are known to poison the brain and contribute to cognitive decline (e.g. Dementia and Alzheimer’s).

Natural alternatives include Stevia and Xylitol.

 

4. Read your labels

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When choosing convenience foods (e.g. cereal, snacks, crackers), make sure to read the label for total sugar content. Cross-reference this with how many times sugar is mentioned in the ingredient list.

You must check all foods that come packaged and have a label to read. You’ll be surprised how many foods have unexpected amounts of sugar. Remember four grams is equal to one teaspoon of sugar! Check the list of ways to say sugar at right for more information.

Start with inventorying what is currently in your pantry and fridge. When at the grocery store, critically consider whether you want to bring sugar-rich foods into your home.

 

5.Make sure your first meal of the day is high in protein

Eating a high-protein breakfast will help you stabilize your blood sugars and insulin at the start of your day. This means fewer sugar cravings and over eating later on.

People who eat a high-sugar breakfast are likely to eat 80 percent more throughout the day.

 

This spring, put on your walkin’ boots, and break up with sugar. You will find it results in plentiful health benefits and gives you more natural, sustainable energy levels.

Digital Detox

Today's cleanse tip is brought to you by Dr. Ben!

The tip of the day is the power of Digital Detox!

dig-it-al de-tox 
noun informal
noun: digital detox; plural noun: digital detoxes

  1. A period of time during which a person refrains from using electronic devices such as smartphones or computers, regarded as an opportunity to reduce stress or focus on social interaction in the physical world. 
"Break free of your devices and go on a digital detox"

Meditation

Today's cleanse tip is brought to you by Dr. Jen!

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Meditation is a technique that has been used for thousands of years and its effectiveness has now been proven by an impressive stack of research. And yet, when I tell my patients that meditation can provide extensive health benefits I often get the same responses: 'I don't have time', 'I can't quiet my mind', 'It's too hard to stay still'. 

Interestingly, these are the exact reasons I have prescribed a dose of meditation in their otherwise busy lives. 
 
Taking the time to sit still, take a few deep breaths and focus on how we feel can have wonderful health benefits. I have seen this practice drastically improve the wellbeing of my patients.  In fact, we now know that meditation doesn't just help us feel calm, it actually changes the structure of the grey matter in our brains and reduces our stress response, protecting us from future stress.
 
Not to worry if you're short on time or struggle to quiet the busy chatter in your brain.

Meditation takes practice and can be started in very small doses.  You can begin by taking five deep, slow breaths as you transition between the parts of your day, reducing that busy feeling we often consider 'normal'.  You can also try a meditation app like Headspace or Insight Timer that provide lots of options for short, guided practice.

For me, a few quiet minutes before I pick up my kids, start a busy day at the office or sit down to answer emails helps me stay present and connected with the people and experiences I am giving my time to and makes a world of difference in my wellbeing.

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