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Exercise for your brain?! Heck, yeah!

By Dr. Lindsay Grieve, DC

Becoming a mom has been such a life-changing experience for myself. As a “modern-day” mom I try to be a variety of things for my son: role model, health advocate, provide a loving & nurturing environment and help my son grow up and develop into the person he was meant to be. Oh and did I say fun? I want to do all of the above and also be remembered as the “fun mom”….am I asking for too much?

With all those objectives in mind I make an effort to prepare healthy meals, incorporate fun activities, play dates, get him to bed in a timely manner, teach him to move his body, challenge his mind and exercise his brain. Yes you read that right, exercise his brain!

There is so much growth and development that happens in a child’s first year of life. By the age of 1, the brain grows 2.5-3x it’s size from birth. 1,000 to 100,000 brain synapses are formed in the first year of life alone. By the age of 2, the brain reaches 80-90% of it’s adult volume. And by the age of 6, they have formed almost all of the major sensory and motor pathways they will need for their entire adult life. That is an immense amount of growth and development in a short amount of time! There are a lot of things, particularly in modern-day, that can interfere or hinder a child’s normal growth and development: birth trauma, skipping milestones (ex: going from sitting straight to walking, missing the crawling stage), overuse of “screen-time” (iPad, computer, cell phone, video games, TV, etc), lack of movement and stress.

Did you know movement and brain function are inter-related? A large study conducted in California assessed 1 million students over a 10 year period and found that just 20 minutes of walking improved a child’s ability to concentrate and improved their overall performance on an academic test. Movement and cognition happen in the same parts of the brain and use the same pathways. Our ability to think, control our emotions, pay attention, understand math, learn to spell and use language are all related to our body’s ability to move well.

What if I told you that you can help stimulate your child’s brain by doing specific exercises? When we practice movement patterns we build nerve pathways and establish connections in the brain.  A study was conducted in 2003 that looked at the effect of 6 months of brain-coordination exercises on kids with learning difficulties. The children who were in the exercise group had significant improvements in reading, writing & comprehension, dexterity and speech fluency.  When they followed up with those kids 4 years later the children had still maintained those same improvements….it’s long lasting!

Tonight try these 3 brain stimulating exercises with your little ones. (Some of the exercises may be challenging at first but the exciting thing is, the brain will catch on.) Get down on the floor with your kids and and make it a fun activity.  My son has a blast doing them and some of the exercises are even challenging for me too! We aim to do the exercises every other day.

Log Rolls: great for stimulating the vestibular area of the brain.

Have your child lay on their stomach with their arms out overhead. Keep the body straight and try and encourage them to use their abdominal muscles to slowly roll onto their back. Continue rolling back and forth and work up to 12 rolls to each side.

Inch worms: Great for increasing central muscle tone and overall increasing stimulation to the whole brain. This exercise incorporates cross-body movement which connects the two halves of the brain.

Have you child lay on their back on the floor with their arms at their side, knees bent and their feet flat on the floor. Instruct them to roll one shoulder up and backwards well pushing a little with their feet. This will drag and push the body along the floor. Then roll up the opposite shoulder and do the same.  Continue the exercise for 2 minutes.

CrossCrawling: This is great for integrating the left and right sides of the brain. All actives of the brain require input from both sides of the brain and this movement is essential for optimal brain function for all forms of learning: Reading, thinking, math behaviour, emotional control and planning. Cross-crawling is also essential for training the eyes to cross the midline and for the eyes to focus and track.

Get on your hands and knees. Move the opposite arm and leg forward at the same time. Try to focus on your hands when you do this exercise. Continue for 60 seconds.

For more information and video demonstrations of the above exercises, check out Dr. Lindsay Grieve’s website and blog: www.drlindsaygrieve.com

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4 Essential & Easy Ways to Keep Your Kids Healthy This Fall/Winter Season!

By: Dr. Lindsay Grieve, DC

It’s that time of year again when the nights get shorter, the weather gets cooler and kids are back in school. For me it was an extra-special time this year as my little love monster started his first few days of junior kindergarten, insert mom cry here. Truth be told it’s an exciting and terrifying moment all at the same time. For me, I rejoice as I get a bit more time to myself and at the same time get to watch my little boy grow and flourish in his new school.

The first few weeks are a crucial time for kids as they start new routines, meet new faces, are exposed to “new germs” and experience new stresses.

I’m sure other mom’s,  like myself, are worried how their little ones will manage. Will they get the dreaded never ending snotty nose & nasty cough?!

Here are a few strategies and tips on how to insure your kids are armed with their best to thrive during this fall season:

1- Come in for a spinal checkup. Having a balanced spine and nervous system is essential for anyone who is looking to function at their best. If we think about all the things kids do in a day: run, jump, fall, stumble, it’s not hard to see how their little bodies get out of balance. A chiropractic adjustment is simply about bringing more balance and movement to the body, reducing stress & tension and allowing their nervous system to function with ease. That’s it. By removing interference from the nervous system it boosts the immune system and gives your little ones more energy to fight off whatever “bugs” they are exposed to. Studies show regular chiropractic adjustments boost the immune system by as much as 200%!

2-Minimize their sugar intake.  Did you know the “average” kid consumes 16 teaspoons of sugar every day….that’s more sugar than eating 4 twinkie’s (we all remember twinkie’s, right?) Sugar can cause hyperactivity, difficulty concentrating and lower the immune system.  Just one teaspoon of sugar can lower your immune system for up to 5 hours!!  Of course, not all sugar is evil.  Fruit and starchy vegetables contain naturally occurring sugars combined with important nutrients. You might be thinking, “my kid doesn’t eat a lot of sugar.”.  But remember sugar is hidden in a lot of things: breakfast cereal, yogurt, granola bars, apple sauce, fruit snacks, bbq sauce, pasta sauce, gummy vitamins and juice.

3-Wash your hands with good old soap & water.  It seems simple really but it’s a great way to minimize your family’s exposure to germs.  It’s become a household rule for us, whenever we come back into the house, the first thing we do before anything else, is wash our hands.  If we think about what kids do, they touch anything and everything, put their hands in their mouth, eyes, ears and noses and then touch anything and everything again.  Teaching our kids the importance and easy habit of washing their hands can minimize the potential of spreading “germs” to you and your loved ones.

4-Supplement with a few key vitamins. I know there is a lot of information out there and sometimes it can be overwhelming on what to give our kids. I generally stick to 3 solid supplements and make an effort to be consistent.  My top 3 recommendations for children are: Vitamin D, Probiotics & Omega 3’s. Vitamin D is a must for my son and I give it to him all year round, summer included!  I give him 1200 IU’s a day.  Vitamin D is an extremely powerful immune system booster.  I also make a point to incorporate a quality probiotic into his routine. Generally I sprinkle some in his drink every other day but if he is fighting something or if your child has taken a course of antibiotics I would recommend giving it daily. Probiotics are extremely important for immune health and more and more research shows the health of your gut determines the health of your brain! Omega 3’s are another supplement that is necessary for optimal brain function. Omega 3’s aid in the development of the brain, eyes & nerves, and our mental & emotional well-being.  To get my son a source of Omega 3’s I use hemp hearts or ground flax seed and sprinkle it into various things he eats: oatmeal, smoothies, baked goods etc

Since the school year started I incorporated a product by St Francis Herb Farm called Deep Immune for KidsIt is amazing for helping boost the immune system and can often ward off or minimize any general cold symptoms ( I have been giving him a dose of this 3 times a week to give him that extra boost).

Two products I keep on hand in my cupboard are:

-Elderberry Syrup….it’s amazing for anything respiratory.

-Stodal Honey Cough Syrup….it’s a homeopathic medicine that works great to sooth a cough or sore throat.

For more information, check out Dr. Lindsay Grieve’s website and blog: www.drlindsaygrieve.com

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Spotlight On: Osteopathy

This month we thought we would introduce you to the world of Osteopathy.  Osteopathy is a non-invasive manual therapy that works on the muscles, joints and spine to enhance your body’s natural health.  In other words, an osteopath will stretch your body for you, allowing the muscles and joints to move more freely.
What can it treat?
Almost anything!
Ok, ok, we’ll be a bit more specific.  Osteopathy is great at treating any and all sports related injuries as well as that chronic pain (read headache) that just doesn’t seem to go away.But beyond that osteopathy can help those things you may not think about when it comes to manual therapies.  Our osteopath Marine is able to treat things such as insomnia, gastrointestinal problems and varicose veins!  Definitely something to look into!
And for all you breastfeeding Moms out there- Marine has techniques that could help stimulate milk production!  To me, this sounds much better than downing Domperidone and Fenugreek!So if any of this sounds like something you might need help with book with Marine today!She is available on:
Tuesdays 8:30am-2pm
Wednesdays 8:30am-12pm, 3:30pm-7pm
Fridays 8:30am-5pm

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Welcome Back Fall!

As the temperatures begin to cool and our schedules begin to look hectic, we can all succumb to that first seasonal cold.  Cold and Flu season may not be here yet, but we know that it is on its way!

We at Thrive wanted to give your immune system a little boost by giving you some ideas on what you can incorporate into your diet that might help you fight off those nasty germs.

Immune Boosting Foods:

Garlic
Add some garlic to your dishes and not only enhance the flavours of your foods, but also allow your white-blood cells (aka. The Cold Fighters), to flourish and increases the efficiency of antibody production.  This means your body is able to fight off any virus more easily, and makes the long cold and flu season a bit shorter.  Have trouble digesting garlic?  Try taking out the green root in the centre of each clove to make those garlic burps a bit less potent.
Citrus
Lemons, limes, grapefruit, oranges- you name it- if it’s a citrus, it has Vitamin C.  Increasing your Vitamin C intake naturally increases your immune efficiency, which is exactly what we need for this time of year.  If you need an easy way to add a bit more Vitamin C into your diet, as well as help increase your water intake, try adding lemon to your morning glass of water.  Not only do you instantly have flavoured water, you start off your day right with a bit of Vitamin C!
Turmeric
Have you been noticing this spice everywhere these days?  Us too!  But for good reason- turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory and more recent studies show that it also might be good for reducing fever.  So drink up those Turmeric lattes and eat up some Indian curries and you may be helping your health!
 Bell Peppers
These beauties have twice the amount of Vitamin C as citrus, and the added bonus of beta-carotene which is great for healthy skin.  Add some to your stir fry or simply eat as a snack with hummus (perhaps garlic hummus?) and your body will thank you!
Ginger
Ginger works in the same way as Vitamin C and can help you avoid a cold.  It can also help if you are just starting a cold by relieving your sore throat. Feel a tingle in your throat?  Boil some ginger and lemon to make a natural tea that soothes the throat and boosts your immune system.  Add a bit of honey and you have a sure fire way of fighting those cold systems.
For an easy way to combine some of these great immune-boosting ingredients (and some not mentioned here), check out this Turmeric Pineapple Kiwi and Kale recipe:


Ingredients:
2 cups frozen pineapple
¾ cups unsweetened almond milk
½ tsp turmeric
2 kiwis
1 banana
2 cups Kale

Blend all ingredients and enjoy!

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2018 Consumer Choice Award!

Thrive is thrilled to announce that it has been selected as the 2018 Consumer Choice Award winner in the category of Naturopathic Medicine in the Toronto Central Region!

It has always been Dr. Kristin Heins’ mission to provide individualized and holistic care where her patients receive truly specialized treatments that support both their mental and physical well-being. Dr. Heins is extremely grateful to be recognized for her work and will continue to provide current and future patients with optimal care to help them feel their absolute best.

Thank you from the entire team here at Thrive for this incredible honour!

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Cleaning up our Intake through the Indulgent Summer

Summertime carries with it an energy of excitement, enjoyment and freedom. The days are longer, the weather inviting. For many, we translate this energy into a lifestyle that includes more barbeques, social events, alcohol and often less nutritious food choices. With so few months to enjoy social time comfortably outside with friends, I think switching our mindset from “avoidance” to “improved” is a great way to approach food and alcohol consumption this summer. Many patients come in and ask how to make reasonable improvements to their summer routines and so decided to share a few tips and suggestions in this month’s newsletter:
•    Loading up on creamy side dishes and red meat barbeque is not great for heart health or our waistline. Opt instead to grill vegetables on the bbq and experiment with salmon and fish recipes that cook in a flash and are part of the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet.
•    Alcohol intake is typically a calorie exploder in the summer. Try and clean up your drinking, to the extent this can be true, by using clear alcohol (vodka, gin, tequila) and mixing with low sugar and low sodium options like soda stream water with lemon and lime slices or low sodium San Pellegrino. Remember also that most beer and many vodkas are wheat-based …. so if this is a food group you try and avoid in food form it is typically best avoided as an alcohol also.
•    Most of us are more social in the summer. Try making socializing and connecting with family and friends the “treat” and not use social events as a reason to have two plates of dessert.
•    Bring nutritious and seasonal fruits and vegetables to parties or have them out at your own! Opting to pick at these as snacks between meals is a great way to fill the urge while also being good to your body.

A Word on Blood Services and Our Community:

Many of us know that donating blood can save lives. Medical advancements make it so that today, a number of blood related diseases like leukemia, aplastic anemia, certain metabolic disorders and inherited immune system diseases can also be treated with donated stem cells.
In September, Thrive has decided to have information available at the clinic for patients looking to learn more about donating blood services. We want to offer patients more detailed information on steps and facts about blood donation and registering to be stem cell donor. Keep your eyes and ears open and don’t forget to pick up your fact sheet when in the clinic.
If you want more information today, start by checking out www.blood.ca

By: Dr. Kristin Heins ND, RP (qualifying)

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Allergies – Why They Happen and How You Can Help Stop Them

I wanted to share an article on allergies as many this time of year suffer seasonal allergy symptoms. At a fun time of year to enjoy the outdoors, no one wants to be overwhelmed with congestion and low energy!!
Allergies occur when the body mounts an immune system response to substances inhaled or ingested from the environment. For allergy sufferers, these substances (called allergens) enter the body and then the body sends out an immune particle (called an immunoglobulin)  to  attack the foreign substance! An inflammatory cascade is then set in motion. For allergy sufferers, the rest is known and seen through their symptoms!

Common Allergy Symptoms:
Runny nose, runny and / or itchy eyes, sinus inflammation and headaches, generalized fatigue, shortness of breath, asthma.  Skin conditions can include rashes or darkening around the eyes “allergic shiner” is also common. For some ingested allergens we can have anaphylaxis or severe swelling in the throat, hives and for less severe sensitivities you may have indigestion, gas, cramping or bowel changes (not considered an allergy but still a cause of immune response).
What we also now know is that allergen / immune complex binding can have mood and brain involvement causing symptoms like agitation, irritability and / or depression.
Allergy Triad: allergies, asthma, eczema – all signs of a hyper responsiveness of the immune system.

Tip #1: Eat Plenty of foods rich in antioxidants as well as minerals essential to the immune system.

  • Oxidation increases as our body fights off germs. Help offset this reaction with antioxidant foods.
  • Foods containing beta- carotene, including dark green, yellow, and orange vegetables. Eat at least two servings of one or more of these vegetables daily.
  • Vegetables and fruits that contain vitamin C, such as broccoli, green/red peppers, cabbage, collard greens, and citrus fruits. Eat at least one-2 servings daily. Vitamin C is especially important for those with allergies as vitamin C plays a major role in modulating the histamine response which plays a major role in allergic congestion and skin irritation.
  • Foods containing vitamin E, especially seeds and nuts, brown rice, sweet potatoes, and beans.
Tip #2: Reduce Allergen exposure by using a salt water (saline) nasal rinse daily during allergy season.
Tip #3: See a specialist to devise an individualized plan to optimize your immune functionality and support organs of elimination (liver, bowel, lymph, kidneys) that may be under functioning. Dr. Heins or a licensed Naturopathic Doctor can customize a supplement approach based on your specific symptoms and allergy (immune) presentation.
Written by: Dr. Kristin Heins, ND
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Practice Safe Gardening

Dr. Jennifer Wise, D.C.

300_family_garden

I know it’s been a long time since we’ve thought about many outdoor activities, but the exciting truth is that it’s finally almost time for those “May flowers”!  If you’re planning on gardening, keep these tips in mind to avoid injury:

1. Warm-up

Try going on a short walk to loosen up your muscles and get your blood circulating before beginning gardening.

2. Stretch before and after your gardening session.

The Ontario Chiropractic Association recommends starting with these stretches to avoid injury.  Hold all stretches for 15 to 20 seconds. Stop if it is painful.

  • Thigh Stretch: With one hand on the wall or a tree, bend your left knee then reach back and hold your ankle with your right hand. Pull your heel toward your buttocks and hold for 30 seconds. Relax and repeat with the other leg. To stretch the back thigh muscles (hamstrings), with one hand on the wall or a tree put one foot on a chair, stump, or step. Slowly bend forward from the waist until you feel the pull at the back of your thigh. Hold for 30 seconds. Relax and repeat with the other leg.
  • Back Stretch: Sit on a chair and slowly bend your body forward from your hips, putting your head down and resting your hands on the floor.  Hold, then relax.
  • Shoulder Rolls:
    With your arms hanging loosely at your sides, slowly rotate your shoulders in a circular motion forward, then backward.
  • Wrist Extension: Hold one arm straight out as if you were giving a ‘stop’ signal, use your opposite hand to hold this position. Hold. Repeat with the other hand.
  • Wrist Flexion: Hold one arm out in front, palm down. Bend your fingers until they point toward the ground. Use your opposite hand to hold this position.

3. Lift with Care.

For any heavy lifting always try to recruit some help.  If you must lift alone, please remember these basic rules:

  1. Stand close to the load to be lifted
  2. Place your feet shoulder-width apart
  3. Keep your back straight
  4. Squat down to the object’s level and test the weight of the load
  5. Use the strength of your leg and arm muscles to smoothly and slowly lift the load
  6. Keep the load close to your body
  7. Pivot to turn and face the intended direction of travel. Proceed with the load
  8. Avoid twisting your body while carrying the load
  9. Bend your knees and slowly lower the load to its intended place

Remember to have your spine checked by your chiropractor- you may not always feel a subluxation, but if you are starting with a spine that is misaligned or not moving properly, you will be much more likely to experience an injury.  Come in and see Dr. Wise for a Spring tune-up

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How to Manage High Stress Periods…Like the Holidays!!

By Dr. Kristin Heins

I came across an article on the Mayo Clinic website (www.mayoclinic.org) on stress management around the holidays and really liked it. It may be especially helpful during the hectic and emotion-filled holiday season; but, is also a useful life approach to stress management. Most of us know that stress and feeling overwhelmed does not limit itself to holidays!! When stress is at it’s peak, it’s hard to stop and regroup. The feeling is often one of overwhelm vs. support. Below are ten ways to try and shift the balance back to a more supportive experience:

headache1. Acknowledge your feelings: If historical or present day loss and sadness exist, accept that it’s normal to feel sadness and grief. It’s OK to take time to cry or express your feelings.

2. Reach out: If you feel lonely or isolated – seek out community, faith-based or other social events as they can offer support and companionship. Volunteering may also lift your spirits and broaden friendships.

3. Be realistic: The holidays may not (likely won’t) be perfect or just like last year. As families change and grow, traditions and rituals often change as well. Choose a few to hold on to, and be open to creating new ones. For example, if adult-children can’t come to your house, find new ways to celebrate together, such as sharing pictures, emails, videos, skyping.

4. Set aside differences: Set aside familial grievances during gatherings until a more appropriate time for discussion. Try and find understanding if others get upset or distressed when something goes awry – chances are they’re feeling the effects of holiday stress just like you may be.

5. Stick to a budget: Before you shop, decide how much money you can afford to spend. Then stick to your budget. Ways to manage budgets:

  • Donate to a charity in someone’s name.
  • Give homemade gifts.
  • Start a family gift exchange

6. Plan ahead: Set aside specific days for shopping, baking, visiting friends and other activities. Plan your menus and then make your shopping list. That’ll help prevent last-minute scrambling to buy forgotten ingredients. Ask for support for party prep and cleanup.

7. Setting Limits: Saying yes when you want to say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. If you can’t participate in a project or activity, try and be clear about which ones you can say no to and take that time for other activities like rest and self -care.

8. Keep healthy habits: 

  • Have a healthy snack before holiday parties so that you don’t go overboard on sweets or drinks.
  • Get plenty of sleep.
  • Incorporate regular physical activity into each day as it helps with both physical and emotional wellbeing.

9. Take a breather: Make some time for yourself. Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you enough to handle everything you need to do. Find something that reduces stress by clearing your mind, slows your breathing and restores inner calm.

10. Seek professional help if you need it: Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself feeling persistently sad or anxious, plagued by physical complaints, unable to sleep, irritable and hopeless, and unable to face routine chores. If these feelings last for a while, seek help from a professional.

I hope that this helps make the holidays more enjoyable for you and yours. Happy Holidays!

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Natural Pest Control Options for Your Summer Garden

By Dr. Kristin Heins

 

Heather Rhodes wrote a useful article on her website “Gardening Know How” that I thought would be worth sharing. It contained a few great recipes to allow you to make natural pesticides for plants that may be under attack by bugs this summer. Organic garden pest control is a popular topic since as consumers we are becoming more and more aware of the benefits of exposing ourselves and the earth to the least toxic materials possible. Natural home pesticides are not only easy to make, they are cheaper and safer than many products you can buy on store shelves. Remember that there are benefits to many of the little critters in your garden and you always want to be sure the damage a bug may be causing is worth using the pesticide for.

Rhoades points out in her article that garden pests are repelled or killed by a surprising number of safe and natural products. Here are a few natural insect repellent recipes she includes on her site:

Garden Pest Control Recipe #1

1 head of garlic
1 tablespoon dish soap (Note: do not use a dish soap that contains bleach)

2 tablespoons mineral or vegetable oil 
2 cups water 

  • Peel the garlic cloves and puree the cloves along with the oil and water. Allow to sit over night and then strain the mixture. Add the soap and mix thoroughly. Pour into a spray bottle and use on pest infected plants.

Organic Garden Pest Control Recipe #2 

1 tablespoon vegetable oil 
2 tablespoons baking soda
1 teaspoon dish soap or Murphy Oil (Note: do not use a dish soap that contains bleach)

2 quart of water

  • Combine ingredients and pour into a spray bottle. Use this organic bug spray on your affected plants.

BEFORE USING ANY HOMEMADE MIX: It should be noted that anytime you use a home mix, you should always test it out on a small portion of the plant first to make sure that it will not harm the plant. Also, avoid using any bleach-based soaps or detergents on plants since this can be harmful to them. In addition, it is important that a home mixture never be applied to any plant on a hot or bright sunny day, as this will quickly lead to burning of the plant.

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