Why isn’t my supplement working?

You may be taking a supplement or two, but how do you know if you are reaping the full benefits? What if you’ve been taking a supplement for a while now but it doesn’t seem to be making a difference? Below are 5 possible reasons why your supplement isn’t working:

  1. You take poor quality supplements. Not all products are created equal. Since supplements are largely unregulated, some products don’t actually contain the dosage written on the label (i.e. the active ingredient in the bottle is less than what is written on the bottle)- or worse, these products may contain fillers or contaminants which can be harmful to health. Furthermore, some cheaper products may contain the inferior, less absorbable form of a vitamin or nutraceutical, so it is important to look for well-established brands and products that contain the right vitamin form. Not sure which ones are high quality? Find a licensed naturopathic doctor or functional medicine practitioner who is trained in nutraceuticals and prescribes high quality, third-party tested products.
  2. You consume the wrong food/ drink with your supplements. Did you know that caffeine (in coffee, tea) can inhibit iron absorption? Did you know that fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamins A, D, E and K need to be taken with a meal that contains fats in order to be absorbed by your body? Taking the wrong supplements together can also inhibit absorption. For example, calcium can block the absorption of iron, so these two minerals should be taken separately.
  3. You take supplements at the wrong time. Certain nutrients have different effects depending on the time of day. Magnesium helps to relieve tense muscles and promote relaxation, so taking it at night may support a good night’s sleep. Multi-vitamins in general should be taken in the morning or during the day (with food).
  4. You are on certain pharmaceutical medications. Some medications can affect nutrient absorption, which in turn affects the efficacy of the supplement you’re taking. For example, proton-pump inhibitors (commonly used for heartburn, acid reflux and GERD) reduce the amount of stomach acid made in the stomach lining and can affect the absorption of vitamin B12 and iron. If you take any prescription medications, talk to your doctor about nutritional implications that might come with them. 
  5. You have a medical condition. Certain diseases and medical conditions can affect your body’s ability to absorb nutrients. For example, people with Celiac disease have trouble absorbing some nutrients like iron, calcium, B vitamins and fat-soluble vitamins because they have flattened intestinal villi (which transports nutrients into the bloodstream). If you have a condition that limits your absorption of certain nutrients, you will likely benefit from supplementation, but you may need a higher dosage compared to other people.

Dr. Ardyce Yik ND always recommends meeting nutrient needs through consuming a balanced, nutritious whole foods diet rather than through supplements. However, if you have a diagnosed deficiency or consume a restrictive diet (e.g. vegan, vegetarian), supplements may help to fill certain nutrient gaps. Also, certain life stages may require increased nutrient needs. For example, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfed infants be supplemented with 400IU of vitamin D to prevent vitamin D deficiency. Pregnant and breastfeeding women are recommended to take folic acid, and older adults may be given calcium with vitamin D to keep their bones healthy and strong. If you are currently taking supplements but unsure of its quality or efficacy, seek advice from a licensed naturopathic doctor or functional medicine practitioner with extensive knowledge in nutraceutical supplementation.

SOURCE: https://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/breastfeeding-special-circumstances/diet-and-micronutrients/vitamin-d.html#:~:text=To%20avoid%20developing%20a%20vitamin,first%20few%20days%20of%20life.

Intermittent fasting: is it worth the hype?

Intermittent fasting is becoming a popular weight loss dieting strategy. You may have heard that intermittent fasting is a way to manage your weight and prevent, or even reverse, some forms of disease. But is it all it’s cracked up to be?

What is intermittent fasting?

Intermittent fasting an eating plan that switches between fasting and eating on a regular schedule. The 3 main types of of intermittent fasting are:

  • modified fasting or the 5:2 diet– this protocol involves fasting for 2 non-consecutive days of the week, and eating normally for 5 days.
  • alternate-day fasting– fasting days are alternated with days where foods and beverages are consumed normally.
  • time-restricted eating– a type of intermittent fasting that limits the “eating window” to 4 to 12 hours, inducing a daily fasting period of 12 to 20 hours.

Many people, including celebrities, have touted weight loss benefits from intermittent fasting. Furthermore, promising studies show that intermittent fasting may reduce the risk of developing some chronic diseases.

What are the health benefits?

The following are some benefits of intermittent fasting. Most of these benefits are attributed to daily fasting periods of no less than 14 hours.

  1. Thinking and memory. Studies discovered that intermittent fasting boosts working memory in animals and verbal memory in adult humans.
  2. Heart health. Intermittent fasting can improve blood pressure and resting heart rates as well as other heart-related measurements. It can also improve cholesterol levels.
  3. Physical performance. Young men who fasted for 16 hours showed fat loss while maintaining muscle mass. Mice who were fed on alternate days showed better endurance in running.
  4. Diabetes and obesity. In animal studies, intermittent fasting prevented obesity. And in six brief studies, obese adult humans lost weight through intermittent fasting.
  5. Tissue health. In animals, intermittent fasting reduced tissue damage in surgery and improved results.

Is intermittent fasting for everyone?

The following groups of people should avoid intermittent fasting:

  • Children and teens under age 18.
  • Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • People with diabetes or blood sugar problems.
  • Those with a history of eating disorders.

As always, you should talk to your doctor before starting any dieting regimen.

Tried everything, including intermittent fasting, but still can’t lose weight? There may be underlying reasons. Click here to discover 5 hidden causes to weight gain.

SOURCES:

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/intermittent-fasting-what-is-it-and-how-does-it-work#:~:text=Intermittent%20fasting%20improved%20blood%20pressure,showed%20better%20endurance%20in%20running.

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/intermittent-fasting-is-it-all-its-cracked-up-to-be

Nitrosamines, linked to cancer, have surfaced in common pharmaceutical drugs

Nitrosamines, which are known carcinogens, have recently been found in pharmaceutical drugs including in Zantac, Januvia, and generic valsartan. Experts believe that they come from chemical reactions and form in drugs during manufacturing. A recent report from Morgan Stanley says trial judgments over nitrosamines against the makers of Zantac, including GSK and Sanofi, could reach $45 billion alone. But other big companies such as Merck and Pfizer have also found nitrosamines in their drugs, and the Zantac trials could turn attention on them.

“What’s troubling is the number of drugs where this is showing up,” says Michael Carome, director of the health research group at consumer advocacy group Public Citizen. “If there’s a large settlement brought against the makers of Zantac, it’s possible that could trigger lawsuits against other drugs that have been contaminated with carcinogens.”

A trial against Zantac’s manufacturers is scheduled to begin in California in February, and others will follow later in 2023. But as tainted drugs keep being discovered, the real impact of nitrosamine contamination could take much longer to become clear. Merck & Co. was the latest to add to the list, confirming on August 9th that nitrosamines had been found in its blockbuster diabetes drug, Januvia. The US Food and Drug Administration has allowed Merck to keep selling the medicine for now, saying that potential shortages outweigh the risk. Many other medications have been pulled from the market.

Nitrosamine contamination in everyday drugs didn’t come to light until 2018, when tests at Swiss drugmaker Novartis AG on an active ingredient used in generics of one of its blockbuster blood pressure medications revealed a chemical called NDMA, a nitrosamine once used in rocket fuel and classified by the World Health Organization as a probable carcinogen. Similar pills, known collectively as angiotensin II receptor blockers, or ARBs, were found to be tainted with comparable chemicals, and a string of recalls was announced.

The FDA allows drugs to contain 96 nanograms of NDMA based on the agency’s calculations that this level would approximate a 1 in 100,000 cancer risk for people who ingest the nitrosamine chronically over a lifetime. Some of the earliest recalled blood pressure pills contained as much as 20,000 nanograms of NDMA. Neither the agency nor the drug industry has released nitrosamine levels related to more recent contaminations.

Over the next couple of years, nitrosamines were found in the diabetes treatment metformin as well as Zantac. After the FDA instructed all drugmakers to test their products for the potential carcinogens in 2020, they started popping up in more medications: Pfizer Inc.’s smoking cessation drug Chantix, blood pressure pills and muscle relaxants from Pfizer and Novartis’s generic unit Sandoz and most recently the Merck diabetes drugs. One difference with the more recent recalls is that companies are finding nitrosamines that have never been identified before, meaning there’s no clear understanding of their toxicity.

Drug companies have filed more than 250 nitrosamine-related recall reports with the FDA since 2018—not including the drugs containing nitrosamines below levels deemed dangerous, or the ones the FDA has allowed to stay on the market to ensure supply.

“The nitrosamines issue is real, and I would expect we may see more recalls,” says Ed Gump, vice president for small molecules at US Pharmacopeia, an organization that works with the industry to help control impurities.

The recent spate of contaminations isn’t the FDA’s first brush with nitrosamines. The chemicals showed up in cosmetics in the late 1970s, a few years before Zantac won regulatory approval. Researchers in Massachusetts flagged potential contamination, which led the FDA to test 252 products in the US; they found a form of nitrosamine in 110 of them. Guidance was issued to help companies avoid the processes that can lead to the chemicals being formed, but cosmetics are much less stringently regulated than drugs and don’t require FDA approval to be sold to consumers.

The challenges drugmakers now face are more complicated and compounded because it’s not always clear how nitrosamines develop in medications. The contamination is unique to each drug: In the generic blood pressure medication valsartan, for example, regulators determined the cause to be chemical reactions during manufacturing or the use of tainted ingredients recycled from drugs that had undergone nitrosamine-forming chemical reactions. Other cases, like Zantac, can depend on how a tablet is stored or what inactive ingredients are used. Big companies have teams of as many as 50 people looking at how contamination happens, and the FDA has a task force within its Center for Drug Evaluation and Research dedicated to the issue.

In the meantime, the uncertainty around how many drugs contain nitrosamines- and how much is safe to consume- makes it difficult to calculate risk. That’s especially true among people who might be taking multiple drugs that contain the chemicals, compounding the impurity levels, says George Gray, a professor of environmental and occupational health at George Washington University who specializes in health-related risk analysis. Humans also are exposed to nitrosamines in other ways, largely through foods such as processed or cured meat, like bacon. “It really is hard to say just how big the risk of these medications might be,” Gray says, “especially given the benefit they might confer on people.”

SOURCES:

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-09-01/drug-recalls-for-nitrosamines-could-cost-big-pharma-millions

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-08-11/investors-flee-pharma-giants-as-zantac-cancer-trials-approach

https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/neuroscience/nitrosamine#:~:text=Nitrosamines%20and%20N%2Dnitroso%20compounds,to%20be%20carcinogenic%20to%20mammals.

Long COVID: what researchers have discovered so far

A research team at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine and at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai has found that prolonged inflammation after SARS-CoV-2 infections causes permanent damage to lungs and kidneys, affects the brain, and is correlated with behavioural changes. Led by Dr. Benjamin tenOever and Dr. Venetia Zachariouset, the researchers set out to understand the underlying biology of Long COVID, and concluded that unresolved inflammation may explain the mechanism responsible for symptoms of Long COVID in people. 

Furthermore, research presented at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases in April 2022 suggests that damage to the vagus nerve (which extends from the brain down the torso and is responsible for the regulation of internal organ functions, such as digestion, heart rate, and respiratory rate, as well as vasomotor activity, and certain reflex actions, such as coughing, sneezing, swallowing, and vomiting) is behind many Long COVID symptoms. After studying almost 350 patients with Long COVID, the researchers found that 66% had symptoms indicative of vagus nerve damage, including abnormal heart rate, dizziness, and gastrointestinal problems.

Other studies argue that tiny “microclots” in the blood may cause many Long COVID symptoms by preventing oxygen from reaching the body’s tissues. Intolerance to exercise, experienced by Long COVID sufferers, may be related to poor oxygen delivery.

Other researchers believe that remnants of the COVID-19 virus may linger in the body, potentially causing lasting symptoms. It is also possible that, for some people, COVID-19 pushes the immune system into a hyperactive state, essentially causing it to attack itself.

Researchers have, so far, found 4 key risk factors associated with developing Long COVID:

  • a type 2 diabetes diagnosis
  • genetic material from the SARS-CoV-2 virus in the blood
  • evidence of Epstein-Barr virus in the blood
  • the presence of autoantibodies- molecules that attack the body’s own tissues, instead of foreign pathogens like a virus

Experts now believe Long COVID is part of a much wider network of chronic diseases. It seems to overlap significantly with myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), a condition that can manifest after viral illnesses and leads to debilitating exhaustion. Some experts believe that some people with Long COVID meet the diagnostic criteria of ME/ CFS.

Is there anything we can do to prevent severe infection or Long COVID?

  1. Prevent unnecessary inflammation/ Promote optimal inflammation response. An overexuberant immune response to COVID-19 can cause excessive inflammation in the lungs and other parts of the body. MIS (Multi-system Inflammatory Syndrome) is a rare but potentially life-threatening condition associated with COVID-19 in which various body parts become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes and/or gastrointestinal organs. MIS can affect children (MIS-C) and adults (MIS-A). Research has found that inflammation and cell damage can reach even the testicles in men. Long COVID patients are found to have sustained inflammation and activation of the immune response for at least 8 months after initial infection. If you suffer from Long COVID or dysregulated inflammation, talk to your healthcare practitioner on ways to lower unwanted inflammation naturally and to promote an optimal inflammation response.
  2. Gut health is key. More than two thirds of immune cells in the human body reside in our gut so it makes sense that our gut microbiome directly impacts our immune system. The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) found that that certain strains of bacteria (including Bifidobacterium adolescentis) were missing in the intestines of patients with Long COVID. CUHK has since developed a special microbiome immunity formula including those strains. A clinical study by CUHK showed that COVID-19 patients who received the microbiome immunity formula had complete symptom resolution, reduced proinflammatory markers, increased favorable gut bacteria and neutralizing antibody compared with subjects who did not take the formula.
  3. Protect your lungs and brain. Studies show that NAC (N-Acetyl-Cysteine) can boost the immune system, break up mucus (so the body can cough it up easily) and reduce inflammation. Safe and well tolerated, NAC is a precursor to glutathione and regulates glutamate levels in the brain. Glutathione is a potent antioxidant that helps reduce brain cell oxidative damage, while the neurotransmitter glutamate is involved in a broad range of learning, behavior and memory functions. COVID-19 patients with more serious infections have increased levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and free radicals, often presenting with glutathione depletion, which can prompt a cytokine storm. Studies in 2020 and 2021 found that NAC is a promising molecule that can help prevent severe COVID-19 infections as well as protect the lungs and brain. There are several ongoing clinical trials in progress determining the potential use of NAC in treating COVID-19 infections. The FDA is currently looking to ban the sale of NAC as a dietary supplement (and potentially sell it as a drug).
  4. It’s the terrain!” Researchers have discovered that people with certain pre-existing conditions have a higher risk of developing Long COVID. How healthy our body (“terrain”) is will determine how well it will fight off COVID- and the next pathogen. Click here to read more on how to support your immune system. As part of the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic guidance, the Scottish government has recommended that people start getting a daily dose of vitamin D. Click here to read the role of vitamin D in immune function.
  5. Get vaccinated. Studies show that COVID-19 vaccines can reduce the likelihood of Long COVID after infection.

If you are concerned about Long COVID or want to know more ways to support your immunity, find a healthcare practitioner who is up-to-date on the latest research and trained to help your body function optimally.

SOURCES: https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/long-covid-symptoms-linked-inflammation#:~:text=The%20olfactory%20epithelium%2C%20the%20lining,as%20in%20emotion%20and%20learning.

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-022-01453-0

How to prepare your body for a healthy, optimal pregnancy

Planning to have a baby soon? Dr. Ardyce Yik ND offers the following tips to help you get started on your pre-pregnancy journey.

  1. Irregular periods or extremely painful periods? You need to ovulate to fall pregnant, and a regular menstrual cycle is an indication that you are ovulating when you’re supposed to. Excruciating pain during menstruation can be an indication of an inflammatory or underlying condition that can affect your fertility. If you have irregular periods or extremely painful periods, now is the time to seek medical attention. Do not wait for one year of trying to conceive before you seek help from a doctor.
  2. Take a folic acid (folate) supplement or prenatal supplement at least one month prior to trying to conceive. Your body uses folic acid for DNA synthesis and repair. Folic acid is a vital nutrient for healthy growth and development, and it is especially important for pregnant women. If you’re pregnant, folic acid is crucial in the development of your baby’s nervous system and neural tube.
  3. Consume less alcohol (or better yet, none at all), stop smoking, say no to recreational drugs. All these things can affect fertility including your egg quality and your partner’s sperm, not to mention increase the risk of birth defects, miscarriage and preterm labour.
  4. Visit your doctor for a health-check. Your doctor will run blood tests, do a PAP smear, assess your weight, check for STDs, test for heart-health issues like high blood pressure and cholesterol, make sure you are up-to-date on your vaccinations, as well as monitor any chronic conditions (such as diabetes, asthma, or thyroid problems).
  5. Overweight or underweight? Talk to your doctor if you are overweight or underweight, since either one can impede your ability to get pregnant.
  6. Concerned about toxins and wondering if you should detox? Experts are now discovering the link between toxic chemicals and a variety of different illnesses and conditions including infertility. Chemicals found in the air, household cleaners, laundry detergents and pesticides can potentially be harmful to our bodies, and research shows that increased exposure to these toxins may be affecting your chances of becoming pregnant. Furthermore, many health conditions that are adversely affecting children today can be traced back to environmental toxin exposure, according to Dr. Aviva Romm, a board-certified family physician who specializes in women’s health and obstetrics- who spent twenty-five years as a midwife and had four children before getting her M.D. at Yale University (she is also an herbalist). Talk to your doctor about any health concerns you may have prior to trying to conceive.

Dr. Yik uses a whole-body, personalized approach to help you optimize your health and prepare for a smooth, healthy pregnancy. She developed and is in charge of the Natural Fertility Enhancement Program and the Prenatal Care Program at IMI clinic in Hong Kong. She offers heavy metal testing, blood lab tests, DNA/ genetic testing, detoxification protocols, tailored pre-pregnancy/ prenatal programs and over 15 years of expertise to help you prepare your body to carry a healthy baby to term.

References:

Jorge E. Chavarro, Janet W. Rich-Edwards, Bernard A. Rosner, and Walter C. Willett. Diet and Lifestyle in the Prevention of Ovulatory Disorder Infertility. Obstetrics & Gynecology (2007) Vol. 110, No. 5

Toft G, Hagmar L, Giwercman A, Bonde JP. Epidemiological evidence on reproductive effects of persistent organochlorines in humans. Reprod Toxicol (2004) 19:5–26.

Haagen-Dazs ice cream recalls over pesticide concerns

The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department said that two kinds of ice cream from Haagen-Dazs were found in Taiwan with ethylene oxide, a pesticide that is not authorized by the European Union.

The affected batches are “Vanilla Ice Cream Pint” (473 millilitres) with the best-before date of April 13, 2023; and the “Vanilla Ice Cream Bulk” (9.46 litres) with the best-before date of October 26, 2022.

Initial investigation showed that the above-mentioned batches of products had been imported to Hong Kong. The importer has stopped sales and removed the affected batches of the products from shelves upon CFS’s instructions and has initiated a recall.

The spokesman urged the public not to consume affected batches of the products. The trade should also stop using or selling those concerning batches of products.

SOURCE: https://www.thestandard.com.hk/breaking-news/section/4/191455/Haagen-Dazs-vanilla-ice-cream-recalls-over-pesticide-concerns

Too much salt in our bread and inconsistency in meal plan subscriptions: Hong Kong Consumer Council

Photo by Marianna OLE on Pexels.com

Hong Kong Consumer Council looked into 28 samples of prepackaged white and wheat bread on the market and found that eating two slices of bread could mean a sodium intake of over 20 percent of the daily limit recommended by the World Health Organization.

An over-consumption of sodium increases the risk of high blood pressure and stroke, Consumer Council’s chief executive Gilly Wong Fung-Han warned. The Centre for Food Safety set voluntary reduction goals for white bread and wheat bread in 2019 at 490mg and 470mg of sodium for 100g of bread respectively.

White bread from SimplyLife had the highest sodium level at 567mg sodium per 100g. And wheat bread from Saint Honore contained 503mg of sodium per 100g of bread.

White bread from 759 Bakery had the lowest level of sodium in the latest check, with 298mg of sodium in every 100g, while wheat bread from Costini had the lowest sodium content at 208mg in every 100g.

The latest test results confirmed that wheat bread has higher dietary fiber and mineral contents than white bread.

On another front, it was found that healthy meal plans that cost up to HK$14,000 on monthly subscriptions for three meals have inconsistent counts of calories, carbohydrates and protein compositions.

“Based on the test results the biggest risk is the discrepancy between the claimed nutritional value and the actual value that came from the tests,” Wong said.

Out of nine meals prepared by different service providers, eight had at least one nutrient that did not comply with the amount claimed on labels. The watchdog said this might mislead consumers, interfere with health plans and even incur health risks.

SOURCE: https://www.thestandard.com.hk/section-news/section/47380338/242701/There’s-too-much-salt-in-our-bread

Men’s Health Week- 6 Tips to Improve Your Health

International Men’s Health Week 2022 runs from tomorrow to Sunday (Father’s Day). Many men may have health concerns but few seek the support that they need. Did you know that men are about twice as likely as women to have a heart attack? Men’s health matters, too! Here are a few tips to stay healthy:

  1. What’s your blood pressure? Knowing your blood pressure and keeping it in the healthy range are key to staying healthy. High blood pressure, i.e. hypertension, is often called the “silent killer” and can cause damage in the arteries, heart, kidneys, eyes and brain. The ideal blood pressure is less than 120 over 80. Slightly high blood pressure? Exercising more and cutting back on alcohol can have an immediate beneficial effect.
  2. Cut back on sodium in your diet. The American Heart Association recommends that the adequate intake of sodium for healthy, young men is 1.5 grams per day, but usually men take more than twice that amount per day. Most of this comes from eating fast foods, processed meats, canned or pre-packaged foods and restaurant food. Try to avoid these types of foods and focus on fresh, whole foods. Men who consume as much potassium as sodium have lower risks of heart disease, so add more high potassium foods like bananas, tomatoes and spinach into your diet.
  3. Eat your vegetables and fruit! It turns out that eating 5 portions of fruits and vegetables a day is good, but having 10 a day is better. Time and time again, studies show that eating vegetables and fruit helps the chance of heart attack, stroke, cancer and early death.
  4. Go nuts! People who eat around a handful of nuts (approximately 20g) on a daily basis have a lower risk of heart disease and cancer, as well as respiratory conditions, diabetes and infections. Munching on nuts reduced the risk of heart disease by nearly 30%, the risk of cancer by 15%, and the risk of premature death by 22%. Researchers at the Imperial College of London found that most of the reduction in risk was associated with an intake of approximately 15 to 20 grams per day, and no further reduction was noticed if the intake was increased. Click here to read more.
  5. Stay active. Head outside to play a sport with friends, swim some laps or take a long walk to listen to that podcast you downloaded. Create your own workout routine and make an effort to keep it. Exercise has numerous benefits for your physical, mental and emotional health.
  6. Get checked for colorectal cancer. If you are age 50 or older, it is time to get screened for colorectal cancer (get checked sooner if you have a family history of colorectal cancer). Of the various cancer screenings available to men, this one is the best deal because it can prevent, not just diagnose, cancer. A colonoscopy can find and remove precancerous colon polyps.

Stay healthy. Happy Men’s Health Week!

SOURCE: https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/throughout-life-heart-attacks-are-twice-as-common-in-men-than-women#:~:text=Researchers%20found%20that%20throughout%20life,mass%20index%2C%20and%20physical%20activity.

Study: eat 10 portions of fruit and veg per day to cut risk for early death

When you or someone you love has an eating disorder

Eating disorders are characterized by persistent, altered eating behaviours that negatively impact a person’s physical and mental health. They can significantly impact your body’s ability to get appropriate nutrition and lead to complications or other diseases. The most common eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge-eating disorder.

Eating disorders often develop in the teen and young adult years, although they can develop at other ages. With treatment, you can return to healthier eating habits and sometimes reverse serious complications caused by the eating disorder.

RED FLAGS THAT MAY INDICATE AN EATING DISORDER

If you think you may be struggling with an eating disorder, or if you suspect a loved one is, look out for the following signs:

  • Skipping meals or making excuses for not eating
  • Adopting an overly restrictive vegetarian diet
  • Excessive focus on healthy eating
  • Persistent worry or complaining about being fat and talk of losing weight
  • Frequent checking in the mirror for perceived flaws
  • Repeatedly eating large amounts of sweets or high-fat foods
  • Making own meals rather than eating what the family eats
  • Withdrawing from normal social activities
  • Use of dietary supplements, laxatives or herbal products for weight loss
  • Excessive exercise
  • Calluses on the knuckles from inducing vomiting
  • Problems with loss of tooth enamel (may be a sign of repeated vomiting)
  • Absence during meals (e.g. to use the washroom)
  • Eating much more food in a meal or snack than normal
  • Expressing depression, shame or guilt about eating habits
  • Eating in secret

WHAT YOU CAN DO (the last 3 tips are more for parents)

  1. Consult a doctor or psychologist. Discuss your concerns with a trusted practitioner. Often times, a team of healthcare practitioners (a psychologist, family doctor or paediatrician, dentist, dietitian/ ND, etc.) is needed for support.
  2. Check for nutritional deficiencies. Testing for nutrient deficiencies is often helpful to prevent or correct certain conditions caused by the eating disorder. For example, Dr. Yik finds that many patients with eating disorders have a vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D is an important nutrient not only for calcium absorption and healthy bones but also for mental and emotional health. If you are deficient, supplementation can help prevent or correct bone loss, osteoporosis and depression. Vitamin B12 deficiency is another common finding among patients with eating disorders, possibly because this vitamin is only found in foods of animal origin. Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to a loss of appetite, anxiety, depression and painful paresthesia (a burning or prickling sensation usually felt in the hands/feet but can be in any other part of the body). Dr. Yik also often tests for zinc, selenium and electrolytes such as sodium, potassium and chloride.
  3. Avoid dieting around your child. Family dining habits may influence the relationships children develop with food. Eating meals together gives you an opportunity to teach your child to eat a balanced, healthful diet in reasonable portions.
  4. Talk to your child. Correct any misperceptions that may be found on the internet or social media. Keep the communication lines open and talk to your child about the risks of unhealthy eating choices.
  5. Reinforce a healthy body image in your child. Talk to your child about self-image and reassure them that body shapes can vary. Avoid criticizing your own body in front of your child. Messages of acceptance and respect can help build healthy self-esteem and resilience.

If you know someone who is struggling with an eating disorder, be patient and let them know that you are there to support them. Remember to give them space to talk about how they’re feeling and what’s going on for them without judgment.

If you are struggling with an eating disorder, know that you are not alone. Reach out to someone you trust who can help you on the road to recovery.

When should I check for hormonal imbalances?

Photo by Pham Khoai on Pexels.com

Are you struggling with any of the following?

  1. Exhaustion/ fatigue, sleep or stress issues, decreased libido/ sex drive
  2. Fertility problems
  3. Poly-cystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), ovarian cysts, breast cysts, breast fibroadenoma
  4. Irregular periods, peri-menopause
  5. Acne associated with the menstrual cycle
  6. Painful periods, endometriosis
  7. Fibroids, adenomyosis
  8. PMS (pre-menstrual syndrome) with symptoms such as (but not limited to) bloating, breast distension, weight gain, acne, moodiness, anxiety, depressed mood, food cravings, headaches/ migraines, etc.

If you have any of the above, it may be prudent to get tested for hormonal imbalances. While hormone blood tests are a useful tool and most often recommended, sometimes they don’t give us adequate information about what is happening inside the body. Blood and saliva hormone tests do not measure cortisol rhythms, the different levels of estrogen (in relation to progesterone and testosterone) and how estrogen is metabolised. In cases involving the reproductive system, understanding estrogen metabolism is important so we know how the body is clearing estrogens. If you don’t metabolise estrogen well, you may be at risk for estrogen dominance, as well as risks of hormone-related cancers such as breast, cervical and uterine cancers.

DUTCH TEST- Comprehensive Hormone Testing

The DUTCH test stands for Dried Urine Test for Comprehensive Hormones and involves collection of a small amount of urine on filtered paper four times a day. The DUTCH TEST measures a variety of hormone metabolites from the dried urine samples. The hormones measured in the test include:

  • Cortisol
  • Cortisone
  • Estradiol
  • Estrone
  • Estriol
  • Progesterone
  • Testosterone
  • DHEA
  • Melatonin

What makes the DUTCH test better than blood or saliva tests is the comprehensive information. It gives you a clearer picture as it tells you not only the hormone levels that affect the menstrual cycle and overall wellbeing but also how your body is clearing the hormones. Furthermore, the DUTCH test includes the adrenal hormones, which provides specific information about how to support stress and sleep issues by specifically looking at the the HPA axis (hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal) adrenal-brain communication.

Dr. Yik sees many women in clinic who experience hormonal issues and are stressed or exhausted. She recommends the DUTCH test in cases where hormonal imbalance is suspected.

SOURCE: https://dutchtest.com/