After a chilly spring it seems summer finally made its presence known through the end of June with high temperatures, humidity and heat warnings. While we’re thrilled to welcome summertime, we’ve been reminding our followers of the importance of playing smart in the sun this season. As adults, we know to apply sunscreen with a high SPF, limit direct sun exposure, and be vigilant about signs of heat exhaustion. But it can be more difficult knowing how to protect an infant in the heat. Since babies are so temperature sensitive, some new parents are unsure about how to keep their infant at a comfortable, safe temperature.
Here are some basic guidelines for your baby during the hotter days of summer:
In the sun:
Babies have thin, sensitive skin, so sun exposure should be limited. Cover your baby’s arms and legs in light, cool clothing, and if necessary, use a natural sunscreen that’s formulated for infants and toddlers. Shade your baby with a hat and by draping a light sheet over your stroller if the sun is strong in a clear sky. Watch for clues that your baby is overheating or dehydrated. A red face and hot skin are the first signs that your infant is too warm. Symptoms and markers of dehydration include a sunken “soft spot” on your baby’s head, sleepiness, irritability, and a decrease in wet diapers. Babies don’t have a large fluid reserve and if they have diarrhea it’s easy for them to become dehydrated. Be extra careful in the hot weather!
In the air conditioning:
Remember that AC will affect your baby to a more extreme degree–just like the heat. It’s easy to overlook how chilly air conditioning can be on muggy hot days. While it’s often essential for comfort, air quality and sleep, just be mindful of how cold your home is when dressing your baby. Consider where the AC vent is in your nursery in relation to your crib, and cover babies in light layers for sleep.
Some breastfed infants may need to nurse more frequently in hot weather, but you may notice no change with your baby. Babies don’t have many adjusted dietary needs in the heat, and they get enough water in your milk supply. Make sure your toddler is replenishing fluids by keeping a sippy cup on hand at all times. At intervals in play, make sure to encourage a few sips of water. If your toddler doesn’t like to drink water, try adding frozen fruit in place of ice cubes to add some natural flavour.
Infants release sweat to cool their bodies down, but because their pores are so tiny, they’re susceptible to getting clogged. The result is heat rash, which appears as prickly little red dots, bumps or blisters on the skin. While heat rash is common and not serious, it’s a sure indicator that your baby is overheating. Heat rash isn’t typically painful but your baby may feel uncomfortable, tender or itchy. Try removing clothing in the house and letting your baby play in a diaper. A tepid bath can help to cool your baby’s skin. At bedtime a light fan is an easy way to provide a soothing breeze- just avoid aiming it directly at an infant. Heat rash should clear up fairly quickly.
Babies react to temperature changes differently, but it’s always important to remember that a small infant is much more sensitive to the heat (and cold) than an older child or toddler. Protect your baby and watch for signs that he or she is uncomfortable. Let’s make sure it’s a cool and healthy summer!
Migraines can be a debilitating health problem, triggered by a variety of factors from sleep habits, to diet, to the weather. Many sufferers claim they seem to become more prone to migraines at certain times of year –during the changing seasons, or in the spring and summer when they may also be plagued with seasonal allergies.
The frustrating thing about migraine sufferers is that many don’t take the time to seriously consider all of their options for prevention and symptom relief. It’s definitely worthwhile to explore natural therapies as a means of better understanding, minimizing, and preventing your migraines, not to mention nixing the dependency on potentially harmful medications often used to manage symptoms. Here are just some of the therapies that migraine sufferers frequently respond to.
Many headaches and migraines start in your spine. When your body is misaligned your nerves get very irritated, and communicate quickly with your brain. For some clients, spinal adjustments are an effective way to reduce the pressure on those unhappy nerves. Chiropractic care also helps restore mobility to patients who experience consistent and debilitating muscle tension. Blood flow to and from the brain may also be restricted when muscles are tight in the base of the skull, which can contribute to headache and migraine symptoms. The cumulative effects of rigidity and restriction can lead to severe headaches – so it’s important to target the problem at its source, rather than just treating the resulting migraine. Consider your posture, alignment, and date of your last adjustment. Could a poorly aligned spine, stressed nerves or strained muscles be an underlying cause of your migraine? A chiropractic consultation can help you find out!
Seeing a massage therapist isn’t a luxury- for many it’s a highly effective treatment option. Headaches frequently result from tension and stress, which are manually targeted during a massage session. Your therapist will also help to improve circulation throughout your body, which can draw blood away from the head, reducing pressure that contributes to headache. It’s also incredible to see the effects of loosening and treating muscle tissue. If you have a muscle injury, chances are you’ve been carrying yourself differently. An adjusted or irregular posture of any kind can cause soreness, stiffness, dizziness and headaches. So give massage therapy a try –the combination of targeted manual therapy and the valuable opportunity to reduce stress might be just what you need to manage or minimize migraines.
Naturopathic and Nutritional Counselling
Food sensitivity and allergies might also be causing your migraines. A holistic health practitioner can help you begin an elimination diet or food diary to uncover patterns in your eating that might cause headaches. Many sufferers of migraines know which foods they need to avoid in order to help prevent a killer headache. Don’t worry- this isn’t arbitrary. A nutritionist or ND can help you identify which ingredients are giving you grief- whether it’s a popular additive like MSG, or a less widely identified substance like tyramine. Tyramine, which is found in aged cheese, processed meat, canned soups and several other foods, has been known to trigger migraines in certain individuals. Without some health counselling however, you might never identify something like this as a potential source of your suffering. It’s worth looking into- The sooner you know your problem foods, the sooner you can begin adjusting your diet and lifestyle so you can enjoy more long-term management of your migraines.
We were recently invited to share this awesome infographic about back pain (scroll to the bottom of the article to see). It highlights many common lifestyle factors that contribute to poor posture and chronic pain. The graphic speaks for itself, but we thought we’d just reiterate some of the considerations presented.
The importance of standing posture: While we’re often reminded of the importance of sitting up straight and applying ergonomic principles to our workspace, it’s also vital that we stay mindful of our standing posture too. What’s your “go-to” stance? Do you tend to stand with one hip cocked to the side? Do you cross one foot over the other, or balance your weight unevenly? These seemingly insignificant physical adjustments can cause accumulated damage over time.
The costs of a poorly aligned spine: The cost of investing in care for your spine is nothing compared to the financial and physical toll of living with spinal degeneration, misalignment and chronic pain. We’re major advocates for investing in your health in the preventative, maintenance phase –rather than seeking treatment when you’re desperate for relief. By investing in your health while you’re young and relatively healthy, you may offset damage that accumulates over your lifetime as a result of injury or aging.
Staggering statistics: Although these are American stats, when 80% of the population is experiencing pain, there’s a problem! It’s true that back pain is one of the most pervasive and persistent health symptoms experienced in our society. Part of the problem is in thinking that your back pain isn’t severe enough to warrant attention. If you have a consistently sore neck and upper back, you may not classify yourself as someone with “back problems.” But pain, stiffness, and a reduced range of motion are always deserving of attention and treatment.
Have a look at the infographic: What postures and habits do you feel need improvement in your life?
Thanks to Top Nursing Programs for sharing!
Source: Top Nursing Programs
Last week Naturally Savvy hosted a fantastic Twitter Party to teach strategies for reading food labels and ingredient lists! We had the pleasure of gate-crashing and offering our two cents to this incredibly informed and well-run chat. We came away inspired to promote label literacy here on the Thrive Health blog.
While there were plenty of label-savvy participants at the party (and some very qualified, awesome hosts and sponsors!) some of the parents present admitted that they don’t really know what to look for when reading food labels, or often neglect to read labels at all. This is very normal. Firstly, we’re all incredibly busy, and nobody wants to double their grocery store time by reading the finely printed ingredient lists on everything they pick up. Secondly, many parents don’t skip the ingredient list out of a willful negligence of nutrition- they are led to trust a product by many other factors that make an impression on shoppers long before the label. Food packaging can trick us into thinking we’re making an informed, “good” choice.
Here are some of the packaging ploys that lead us to believe something is healthy without reading its ingredient list.
Just because a product is fat-free or sugar-free doesn’t mean it’s healthy. At all. In fact many products that have been chemically engineered to be free of fats and sugar have other unhealthy modifications. These products may still contain synthetic flavours, artificial colours, artificial sweeteners, thickeners and more. Additionally, foods that boast a “fat free” claim uphold a societal misconception about fats- that they are all dangerous, unhealthy, or contribute to being overweight. In reality, healthy fats are vital to a balanced diet, and for maintaining a healthy weight.
Made with real…
If a food product is bragging that it’s made with real fruit, vegetables or any other ingredient, beware. This is a clever way of getting around the fact that it’s also made with many other ingredients that are not real. Made “with” is not the same as “made up solely of…” By this tactic, a fruit punch containing only 25% real fruit juice can still claim “Made with real fruit!” Unless you see a “100%” check your label to see how much of a product is indeed “real.”
Lots of food products contain claims about their nutritional quality right in their name. But just because something claims to be “smart” “healthy” “light” or “natural” doesn’t mean it’s a nutritionally balanced or beneficial choice. The worthiness of a product can’t be found in its name- it can only be found on that food label.
So what are the top food label culprits?
High-fructose corn syrup: This is a widely used sweetener that appears in many packaged foods especially sweet treats for children. It boosts calorie content, functions as a thick, concentrated sugar substance, and offers no nutritional value to a food product. Avoid low / no calorie alternatives especially if they contain artificial sweeteners. Natural sweeteners like stevia and honey are a better choice.
Artificial flavours: Naturally Savvy makes a great point about artificial flavours: they could contain anywhere from one to fifty different chemical ingredients. Our thought? Why combine dozens of synthetic chemicals to mimic a real, natural flavour? There are so many delicious flavours and colours found in natural foods that there’s no reason to chemically manipulate our tastes.
Nitrates/Nitrites: Typically written as sodium nitrate or sodium nitrite, these are most commonly found in processed and packaged meats. The alternative to using these products is buying fresh chicken or turkey, cooking it in whatever manner you prefer and slicing it up to use in salad form (ie. Chicken salad) or in sandwiches over the following few days.
MSG: Monosodium glutamate is a commonly-used additive in many packaged foods, especially soups, sauces, prepared meals, and frozen foods. As with many of our food culprits, the easiest way to avoid MSG is to try and limit your consumption of pre-packaged foods. If you can’t avoid buying prepared foods, buy them fresh rather than frozen.
If you have any food label questions, drop us a line here, or on our Facebook page –we love to help families make informed choices. Happy (and healthy) grocery shopping to you!
The health industry has definitely gone digital –and now it’s getting mobile and personal too.
In the age of user-centric apps, mobile technology and Google-fueled self-diagnosing, people feel empowered to take their health conveniently (if sometimes problematically) into their own hands. While we definitely advocate for caution and discretion when relying on the vast world of digital health information, there are undeniable ways in which digital and mobile technology have revolutionized personal health.
One of the most fascinating (and fun!) developments we’ve seen is the proliferation of creative mobile apps to help with natural tracking, charting, dieting and motivating. Digital health apps provide a convenient and accurate way to do a variety of health-related behaviours like count calories, take medication on time, record your heart rate, and even time your contractions during labour!
Here are some of the coolest health apps catching our attention right now:
iPeriod: for much more than simply counting out those 28 days. This is an incredibly detailed app which lets women digitally monitor a wide spectrum of menstrual health factors. Its features allow for the tracking of flow density, identifying peak fertility dates, and making notes every time an unwanted menstrual symptom is encountered. There’s even an icon to remind you to get your regular breast exam!
Another nice bonus: there’s a community forum that lets you chat with other women and compare notes. We think this app would be beneficial for any woman, but particularly those who are constantly busy, experiencing unwanted menstrual symptoms, or trying to conceive.
mySymptoms: This is a food diary app for tracking and identifying food symptoms and reactions. While it shouldn’t replace a real diagnosis, it’s a great way to start looking for patterns in your eating habits that trigger unwanted side effects. This gives you a place to start when you’re ready to meet with a holistic health practitioner, nutritionist or allergy specialist. In addition to tracking your diet, you can simply and efficiently record anything from sleep quality to bloating to mood swings. What we love about this app is that it gives patients a great place to record information that they’d otherwise forget. Often when patients come for an initial assessment it can be hard to remember what they’ve been eating and on which dates they experienced recent symptoms. With an app like this, the data recording will already be done by your first appointment –getting you and your health practitioner one step closer to a diagnosis.
HealingFoods: Based on the print encyclopaedia, this app is a useful reference guide for diet therapy. You can enter foods to see a full explanation of their natural healing properties, to better tailor a diet that will optimize your health. There are also tips for how to serve, store and prep each food. Amazing that you can carry so much information with you wherever you eat or grocery shop! This app can help you to shop smart, order wisely at restaurants, and fix a nutrient-dense dinner for your family.
Thanks to Sara Showalter for drawing our attention to such an interesting list of mobile health applications! Check them all out here and choose your favourites.
Do you use any holistic health apps? What features would be most beneficial to you?
When we champion chiropractic care, we consistently mention the central nervous system. For many new patients, this might not mean much (or make any sense). Many people associate chiropractic with bones, rather than nerves, joints, muscles and the brain. We encourage you to learn the basics about the central nervous system, and how it functions to keep our bodies running optimally.
Why is the Central Nervous System Important?
We liked the way this article from Natural News describes the central nervous system’s critical role in the human body’s everyday participation in a fight for survival. Your body is working each day to confront a barrage of assaults –free radical damage to your cells, environmental stressors, chemically reactive molecules, and other toxins. The body’s incredible ability to communicate within itself, protect itself, and heal itself keeps us healthy and thriving in spite of these everyday onslaughts of harmful contaminants. The central nervous system is like a governing body that controls all of the channels by which that healing occurs.
As Natural News points out, the movement of energy from your brain to your nerve systems is fueled by information collected from receptors throughout your body. The brain relies on a process called “proprioception” –the effective movement of information from those receptors in your muscles or joints all the way to your brain. As you can imagine, we want to pave the way for a fast and healthy flow of information.
But this brain-body information exchange can be compromised by nerve stress caused by misalignment and trauma. The accumulation of damage resulting from poor posture, minor injuries and an unhealthy lifestyle can all affect your nerves and stress hormones. As a result, there’s a slight breakdown in communication between your receptors and your brain, and your body’s healing time slows down.
A chiropractor’s aim is to restore your central nervous system so that your body is well-tuned to keep healing itself effectually. By re-aligning the spine and reducing nerve pressure, chiropractic care plays a useful role in decreasing your body’s stress. In this way, chiropractic care shouldn’t be conceived of as a treatment. It’s an important therapy that frees your body to take better care of itself. Too often we overlook the body’s innate ability to heal. When our bodies aren’t functioning optimally or healing properly, we see the symptoms rather than the cause. Chiropractic isn’t just treating your symptoms –it’s adjusting your body’s natural systems and structures so they can do their job.
To learn more about your central nervous system and how chiropractic can benefit you, book an appointment with Dr. Jennifer Wise!
The sunny days between all of the cloudy, rainy ones are giving us some hope for brighter days. Many families are making plans for the summer, and it’s exciting to finally be anticipating more time spent outdoors. We want our clients and community to enjoy a safe and healthy season, so we thought we’d share some basic and natural tips. High temperatures and sunny days can mean adjusted dietary and health requirements for the whole family.
1. Fluid replacement: During day trips, team sports, active play and afternoons at the beach, be sure to drink plenty of water and encourage your children to do the same. But skip the sports drinks-Children don’t often sweat excessively, especially during moderate play. Any fluids your child may lose are easily replaced with plain fresh water. Sports drinks contain unhealthily high doses of sugar, artificial colors and flavors, and chemical additives –so be careful what you reach for to replenish fluids and quench thirst.
2. Choose healthy frozen treats: Popsicles and other frozen snacks are a family favourite during the summer –and they can be enjoyed as part of a healthy diet. Skip the artificially flavoured freezies and sugary ice cream, and make your own snacks instead. Opt for frozen bananas, smoothies, or homemade popsicles that use natural sugars and flavours.
3. Be sun-smart. Choose a high SPF sunscreen and remember to re-apply every 1-2 hours that your family is in the sun. When possible, take refuge in the shade and minimize direct sun exposure to your skin. Have your children wear brimmed hats and light, cool clothing. You may want to avoid sunscreens that contain oxybenzone, a chemical that is thought to affect hormone levels and cellular health. And it goes without saying- children of all skin types and tones need sunscreen. For fair-skinned children, choose an SPF of 30 or higher.
4. Support your immune system, particularly before big day trips or family vacations. Eat a vitamin-rich diet that features lots of vegetables and probiotics, and be sure to get plenty of vitamin C, even during warm weather. If you know your children are picky eaters during travel, plan ahead when you pack. Take multi-vitamins and easy-to-grab nutritious snacks. Front-load their diet on busy days by sneaking some extra fruit and veggies into a breakfast smoothie.
Wishing you and your family a safe and healthy start to summer!
Sara Vartanian, founder of Green Moms Collective, recently hosted a Twitter chat about the benefits of shopping at local farmer’s markets. While her #GreenMom chats are always interesting and informative, we thought we’d take the opportunity to expand on the fun and relevant topic of buying local, especially as farmer’s market season kicks off.
Why buy local?
Shopping at a local market is a great way to be more involved and informed as you set an example for your family’s food choices. As the #GreenMom discussion demonstrated, simply visiting or discussing local food market vendors encourages us to think more critically about our food sources.
Local, Organic & In Season
For many people the decision to shop at a local market has a lot to do with the integrity of the produce and meat they want to buy. But as Sara Vartanian points out, it’s easy to assume what you’re buying is organic, when in fact it may not be. Just because you shop locally doesn’t mean you’re shopping organically. This is why it’s important to chat with the vendors you buy from. Ask them about their farming practices to ensure your purchases meet your personal standards. Questions that you may want to ask include:
- Does the vendor use chemical pesticides?
- How many different crops does the vendor grow?
- Are the farm animals given antibiotics or hormones? What are they fed?
Inspiration and Food Literacy
Shopping at a local farmer’s market can also help you get out of a food rut because so many different fresh choices are laid out before you. Aviva Allen, Registered Nutritionist, recommends leaving your list and recipes at home, and seeing where inspiration leads you! You might end up basing a meal or a dish around whatever item looked the freshest or was offered at a great price.
The experience of shopping at a farmer’s market with your family also helps to instill positive habits in children. Let them smell, touch and sample the food you buy, and learn about how it is farmed or raised. This establishes the practice of thinking about our food sources and quality, and being an active participant in food shopping.
Clean, Green Family Fun
Let’s not forget to advocate for the richly enjoyable experience of visiting your favourite market on a regular basis! Shopping locally, chatting with vendors and getting out in the open air of the market can be a really rewarding way to connect with your children and community. The sunshine, exercise, music and snacks all help to make food shopping an overwhelmingly positive experience, rather than an errand or a chore. Without the resource-demands of the supermarket (scanners, electric lights, and checkouts), the market also provides a greener way to shop. Bring your re-usable bags and your good old-fashioned cash for a simpler exchange and a fun family experience.
Do you shop at a farmer’s market? What’s your favourite thing about buying local?
A juicy burger. Salty fries. A cold, sugary soda.
Have we sparked a craving? Food cravings are unfortunate road blocks in many people’s diet plans. While some cravings are circumstantial and easier to resist (like salivating at the smell of a bakery) others can be persistent, frequent and much more physical by nature (like craving a cup of coffee in the morning). For those who eat a balanced, nutrient-dense diet, cravings should be minimal and controllable, but of course this isn’t always the case. Here are a few common cravings, what they mean for your body, and how you can deal with them.
Your body requires a very small amount of salt each day. As an electrolyte that helps your body maintain regular, consistent fluid levels, salt is an important ingredient in your biological balance and health. Often we crave salty snacks, or foods that have an exorbitant sodium content that we may not even be aware of (check your canned soups as an example!)
Why do we crave it? Cravings for salt are often the result of your body’s conditioning. A high-sodium diet makes your body accustomed to lots of salt. When you try to cut back, your body reminds you. Excessive perspiration and dehydration can also trigger salt cravings, since our bodies lose sodium and other minerals when we sweat. It is also possible that salt cravings can be an indicator of more severe consitions associated with our endocrine / hormonal system so make sure to speak with a Health Care Professional if symptoms are unexplained or persistant.
How to manage the craving: Drink an electrolyte beverage after heavy exercise. Learning about proper endurance exercise hydration and electrolyte protocols are helpful for routine exercise. If your salt craving isn’t related to sweat, try something crunchy and flavourful like seasoned rice crackers, a small handful of nuts, an algae product or dill pickle. Follow up your snack with a big glass of water.
Sugar is another ingredient that hides in many foods and habits. Minimizing your sugar intake isn’t just about avoiding sweets like pastries and candy. It means being mindful of the sugar content in everything that you eat-from granola to peanut butter to juice.
Why do we crave it? When we consume a lot of sugar it causes a spike in blood glucose levels. You’ve likely experienced this- you eat something sweet and immediately feel good. Your energy rises and peaks and you may even feel happier. But shortly afterwards, your blood sugar dips again. This is the unfortunate reality of refined sugar; it sends your body on a roller coaster. When your blood sugar drops, your brain starts thinking it needs more refined sugar. Your craving returns. The cycle continues.
How to manage the craving: Read your labels! Avoid products that have sugar added. Choose natural sweeteners like stevia or a touch of honey. You may also try satisfying cravings for sweetness with flavours. Add a pinch of cinnamon to your coffee instead of a sweetening agent. Use vanilla or nutmeg in oatmeal instead of brown sugar. And if you need a sweet fix, choose a tasty fruit like strawberries or watermelon. Remember to always balance out sweet fixes, even healthy ones, with some protein or healthy fat. This helps keep your blood sugar more stable and avoid the rollercoaster effect.
For you coffee-addicts, you may find that your caffeine intake requires much more willpower to control than those cravings for sugar and salt. In truth, a single caffeinated drink triggers a significant reaction in your body, producing for many people a “rollercoaster effect” similar to that of sugar.
Why do we crave it? Caffeine triggers neural activity that stimulates the release of hormones. These stimulate your adrenal glands to produce that burst of energy you might experience after a dose of caffeine. When the “high” ends however, you may experience lethargy, restlessness, and an inability to concentrate. It’s a combination of taste and effect that brings most of us back to caffeinated beverages on a regular basis. With enough consumption however, your body will reach a state of adrenal exhaustion. It will require more caffeine to reproduce that desired high.
How to manage the craving: Ensure that you are getting enough sleep so that you aren’t depending on caffeine as a major source of energy. Try alternatives like herbal tea and natural coffee alternatives such as chicory. Any caffeinated beverage should be taken in moderation, to avoid putting your body through the unnecessary stress responses that caffeine can produce. Speaking to a Naturopath is a good way to identify if your adrenal glands need support and the best way to use herbs and lifestyle modification to help get your energy levels back up…sans caffeine!
It’s overwhelming caring for a new baby, particularly with so much advice about the best health practices for newborns and infants. One of the reasons we advocate for infant chiropractic is its offer of a gentle preventative care that helps at reducing and improving such a wide range of common infant health problems. Rather than offering up another trick or treatment for a specific infant health concern, chiropractic can be a smart way to support overall development and health in your baby. Here are some of the major benefits of chiropractic care for infants and children.
Optimizing the Nervous System
It’s no secret that the importance of chiropractic has much to do with the nervous system. When the nervous system isn’t in optimal condition, its communication channels break down, affecting the health of various areas of the body. The same is true for babies- as they develop, the health of their nervous systems is critical. When the nervous system isn’t able to command the body properly, that biological communication-breakdown can result in a number of symptoms that are common in babies: colic, fussiness, poor sleep habits and difficulty breastfeeding to name a few.
Alleviating Nerve Irritation
We tend to think that babies and children are free of nerve and muscle irritation, but this isn’t always the case. Sure, many lifestyle factors accounting for nerve irritation don’t affect babies (like stress, bad posture and poor ergonomics), but emotional stressors, difficult births and use of forceps during delivery can all affect an infant’s nerves too. In fact, some studies suggest that there’s potential for nerve irritation to the baby while still in the uterus, as a result of problematic movement and positioning.
Fostering Cranial and Spinal Development
Many babies experience cranial trauma during birth as well. As a result, chiropractic care in early infancy is important to gently encourage proper growth following the physical impact of birth, and to foster healthy spinal and cranial development. Another important consideration: during the first year of your child’s life, the spine is developing faster than at any other life stage, as it shapes and lengthens by 50 percent. It’s best to make sure that your child’s spine is properly aligned and prepared for this major growth spurt.
Many parents recognize early infancy as a critically important time for a child’s development. Chiropractic care can offer a gentle, effective course of treatments to best support babies’ healthy growth by both targeting specific symptoms and optimizing overall health. For more information from Dr. Jennifer Wise about chiropractic for infants and children, check out her article on TogetherMoms.ca here.