Should I go gluten-free?

hotdogGluten-free foods, gluten-free menu options… Gluten-free choices are everywhere nowadays, but does it mean you should go gluten-free?

Consider the following:

  1. If you’ve got celiac disease, then going gluten-free is necessary. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system attacks gluten (a protein found in wheat, barley, rye and other grains). Eating gluten or gluten-containing foods will lead to gut inflammation and destruction of the intestinal tract (in addition to debilitating pain and anemia). This condition can be life-threatening if left untreated. Celiac disease affects about 1 percent of the population.
  2. Some people feel unwell after eating foods which contain gluten. Some patients tell Dr. Yik that prior to removing gluten from their diet, they felt tired, bloated, depressed, they had headaches, they suffered from skin ailments, etc. but once they cut gluten out, the symptoms disappeared. Others say that reducing gluten correlates with feeling better or losing weight. For these people, they may have a gluten/ wheat allergy OR gluten intolerance. Click here to read about the difference between a food allergy or food intolerance.
  3. womanillIf your lab tests are negative (i.e. you don’t have the above conditions), and you still suffer from unpleasant symptoms after eating wheat products, then you may have what’s called non-celiac wheat sensitivity. Many of Dr. Yik‘s patients fall into this category. Medical doctors may be dismissive after seeing that the patient has neither celiac disease nor a gluten or wheat allergy/ intolerance. But the symptoms you experience are real and research presented at United European Gastroenterology Week 2016 in mid-October may shed some light on why you feel unwell. Dr. Detlef Schuppan (who holds faculty positions at Johannes Gutenberg University and Harvard Medical School) and his team have revealed that another protein found in wheat, called ATIs (amylase-trypsin inhibitors), contributes to non-celiac wheat sensitivity. ATIs appear to cause inflammation. This inflammatory reaction can also worsen chronic conditions, such as multiple sclerosis, asthma, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, rheumatoid arthritis, etc. So, for people who fall into this category, avoiding gluten and wheat are crucial to better health.
  4. What if I just want to go gluten-free…? Data from the Rutgers New Jersey Medical School found that while the prevalence of celiac disease remained fairly stable over 2009 to 2014, the number of people who followed a gluten-free diet without having celiac disease more than tripled. woman5Perhaps this surge is due to what I’ve explained in #2 and #3. Or perhaps people have read the recent bestseller books in which the authors argue that gluten and carbohydrates are at the root of Alzheimer’s disease, anxiety, depression, and ADHD. Or maybe some people have jumped onto the gluten-free bandwagon just to follow a trend. If you fall into this group, here’s some food for thought:
    1. Whole grains are an important source of B vitamins, fiber and minerals like iron, zinc and magnesium. For the average person who doesn’t have wheat or gluten issues, it’s not necessary to consume only gluten-free foods. As with all things, moderation is key.
    2. A significant number of people think that gluten-free food products are healthier but often times, they’re not. Gluten-free products and snacks may contain more sugar and fat to make them taste better, so be sure to check the ingredient labels.

If you feel unwell or if you have conditions (e.g. eczema, psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis, migraines, headaches, etc.) that flare up after eating gluten or wheat products, you should get tested. For a holistic approach, find a licensed naturopathic doctor who can help you investigate root causes and navigate through appropriate treatment options to restore proper function of your digestive and immune systems.


Posted in Allergies, Babies/ Children, Digestive Disorders, General, Immunity, Men's Health, News Update, Nutrition, Skin Ailments, Weight Management, Women's Health | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How to prevent unwanted side effects of antibiotics

pills2Sometimes, pharmaceutical antibiotics are necessary to eradicate bacterial infections. While most side effects such as diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, etc. aren’t serious, some of the stronger antibiotics do come with a risk of more severe side effects. When taking pharmaceutical antibiotics, here are some things to consider:

  1. Choose the right type of probiotic. Many people know that probiotics can reduce the side effects associated with antibiotics. What you may not know is that different strains of probiotics treat different conditions, so it’s important to find the right type. With antibiotic-associated diarrhea, studies show that S. boulardii, and L. rhamnosus GG are effective in preventing diarrhea. These particular strains help to stimulate immune factors and suppress the colonization of pathogenic or harmful bacteria which cause diarrhea while taking antibiotics. If you are unsure of which probiotic supplement to take, find a licensed naturopathic doctor or trained practitioner who can help you find the appropriate one most suitable for your needs.
  2. Prevent organ damage. Strong antibiotics such as aminoglycosides (e.g. gentamicin) can cause ear and kidney damage. A recent study has found that ellagic acid (an antioxidant found in raspberries, blackberries, pomegranates and walnuts) confers protection against kidney damage caused by gentamicin.
  3. Replenish your vitamins. Long-term use of antibiotics can lower levels of certain vitamins in the body, particularly vitamins D, B2, B9 (folic acid), B12, and biotin. Taking photosensitivity-associated antibiotics (e.g. tetracycline) and hydroxychloroquine (an anti-malarial drug) for a long time has been associated with a reduction in vitamin D levels. Get your vitamin D levels checked (read more about vitamin D here). If you are on a tetracycline antibiotic and want to take a B-complex supplement, take the supplement at a different time of day, away from tetracycline, as B vitamins may interfere with the absorption and effectiveness of tetracycline. As always, talk to your licensed naturopathic doctor if you have questions on drug-supplement interactions.
  4. business seriousAre antibiotics absolutely necessary? Are there alternatives? In some cases, antibiotics are needed. In others, there are alternatives. In 2013, the American Academy of Pediatrics released a set of guidelines on how to treat ear infections, recommending that doctors adopt a “wait and see” approach in most cases, and only to prescribe antibiotics if the child’s condition doesn’t improve within 2 days (Click here to read more). For urinary tract infections, antibiotics are not always necessary. In fact, Dr. Yik has seen a number of patients with UTI’s who respond quite well to natural medicines. It is important to talk to your doctor to make sure that you are getting the best form of treatment, with the least amount of unwanted side effects.


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How to get rid of your menstrual cramps

asianwomanAnyone with menstrual cramps knows how dreadful getting your period can be. Dysmenorrhea (the medical term for menstrual cramps) can be intense at times and can radiate to the thighs or lower back. It may even cause nausea, dizziness and vomiting. If you experience severe pain, see your healthcare practitioner to rule out underlying causes of menstrual cramps. Underlying causes of menstrual cramps include endometriosis, uterine fibroids, adenomyosis and pelvic inflammatory disease.

If you are tired of popping painkillers and are interested in taking the natural route, you may try the following (but remember to rule out any underlying causes first):

1. Warmth helps to relax muscles and improve circulation. Put a heating pad or warm packs on your abdomen. Do this for at least 15 to 20 minutes while doing deep breathing exercises.

sad2. Have you tried Chinese herbal medicine for menstrual cramps? 39 clinical trials involving 3,475 women found that Chinese herbal medicine is safe and works effectively for women suffering with dysmenorrhea. These trials were put together in an overall study led by Dr. Xiaoshu Zhu, who works at the Center for Complementary Medicine Research at the University of Western Sydney, Australia. “Chinese herbal medicine gave significant improvements in pain relief when compared to pharmaceutical drugs. It also reduced overall symptoms. The research revealed that Chinese herbal medicine was also better at alleviating pain than acupuncture or heat compression,” concluded Dr. Zhu.

herbal-tea-1410565_1920White peony, Glycerrhiza (licorice), Bupleurum and Angelica (dang gui) are some of the more popular Chinese herbs used to alleviate menstrual cramps. They work by alleviating spasms (i.e. relaxing the uterine muscles), promoting circulation and reducing inflammation. These medicinal herbs are often blended together or with other herbs for synergistic effects. Formulas are tailor made to suit each individual’s needs and constitution. There is rising concern that many herbs sourced from China are contaminated with pesticides, heavy metals and other toxic chemicals. In her practice, Dr. Yik uses top quality herbs (in liquid form) which are tested for purity and adulteration.

3. Magnesium is a nutrient that can help ease muscle cramps. It is found in many foods such as nuts, seeds, beans, leafy vegetables and whole grains. To treat muscle cramps, magnesium supplements are often taken along with calcium.

4. Western herbs such as cramp bark and black haw help to reduce uterine cramping, pain and tension during menstruation. It is best to seek a licensed naturopathic doctor for a herbal formula that is personalized to your individual needs and constitution.

5. A lumbosacral mobilization session before and/ or during your period helps to relieve pain in the lower back and pelvic areas. These mobilization sessions are offered by trained osteopaths, chiropractors and naturopathic doctors.

Posted in Fertility, Hormonal (Endocrine) Imbalances, Nutrition, Women's Health | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Top back-to-school concerns (and solutions)

backpackIt’s back-to-school season again, and with it come a variety of issues that parents and kids face. Here are a few of the most common concerns that arise at the beginning of the school year:

1. PRESSURE TO SUCCEED: Kids nowadays often feel pressured to get top grades, earn numerous awards and trophies as well as participate (and excel) in a range of extracurricular activities. Constantly comparing themselves with peers may result in negative self-image, over-competitiveness and even burn-out.

child blackboard2WHAT TO DO: While an appropriate level of competition and extracurricular participation can be beneficial, be on the lookout for over-scheduling. Over-scheduled kids may feel tired or anxious/ depressed, complain of stomachaches or digestive issues (a common complaint found in Dr. Yik‘s practice- often linked to stress or skipped meals) or see a drop in their grades. If this happens, take a step back and ensure that your child is not on the verge of a burn-out. When enrolling your child in extracurricular activities, be mindful of your child’s age, interests and abilities. Remember to stay balanced and allow time for your child to relax and play. Let your child know that you are always available for them: listen to them, engage them in conversation, support them with love and positive reinforcement. Help them understand that there is much more to life than just winning and being number one.
liverLastly, as parents, ask yourselves, why is your child doing this activity or participating in this event? Is it to foster self-discipline, sportsmanship, creativity, etc.? Or are you trying to “keep up with” or “out do” your neighbour? If your answer is the latter, you may be contributing to the excessive pressure your child feels. Too much stress over a period of time may cause the child to suddenly become unmotivated or even burn out, which then becomes another common problem seen in kids who’ve been pushed too much, too early.

childapple2. NUTRITION: Whether or not their child is getting enough nutrients for optimal growth and development is a common parental concern when school begins. Some parents may find that their child’s appetite plummets around this time. Others are dismayed when they find their child’s lunch box or thermos still half full after school. Inadequate nutrition or excessive junk food can lead to decreased immunity (i.e. more sick days), lower school scores (e.g. iron deficiency is the most prevalent hematologic disorder in childhood and it’s linked to lower school scores. Click here to read more) and hormonal imbalances.

kid3WHAT TO DO: Discuss with your child his/ her meal routine and for the older child try to accommodate to his/ her food preferences- within healthy and reasonable range. Explain to them the importance of eating healthy. Pack extra (healthy) snacks and prepare a healthy after-school meal for them to come home to. Avoid buying junk food and be a good role model for your kids. Dr. Yik helps children regain appetite and improve digestion through natural remedies and traditional Chinese medicine, resulting in weight gain, stronger immunity and better health. She is also trained in nutritional counselling and meal planning.

3. FITTING IN:  When a new school year begins, many kids worry about meeting new friends and fitting in. If they don’t have a peer network they belong to, they may feel isolated and anxious. Bullying is also a concern for some kids (Click here to read more on bullying).

WHAT TO DO: Once again, an open line of communication is key. Always be available to talk with your child. For younger kids, setting up play dates with new classmates (or old ones) can help to build friendships and foster social skills. For older ones, show them that you care by listening to them and supporting them. Be calm and rational even if you’re worried that your child is unhappy. Of course, if there is an issue of safety, then more parental involvement would be needed.

4. SLEEP: Due to later sleep times during the summer, many kids find it difficult to get back on an earlier routine for school. Some may experience difficulty falling (and/ or staying) asleep while others may chronically lack sleep due to a busy schedule.

WHAT TO DO: The more consistent the sleep routine, the easier it will be for the child to fall asleep and wake up at the appropriate time. Set up an evening schedule- and stick to it. Avoid stimulating activity and bright lights during the evening hours (click here to read more). To wind down after a stressful day, try prayer, meditation and relaxation before bedtime. Avoid caffeinated food/ beverages such as coffee, tea, chocolate, chocolate chip cookies, coke/ cola, etc. which can keep you awake at night. If insomnia persists, you may try natural medicine that works gently and is non-addictive. A licensed naturopathic doctor would be able to prescribe appropriate natural remedies safely and effectively.

Addressing these concerns early on will ensure a great school year ahead! Click here for 3 simple back-to-school reminders for boosting immunity. Click here to read how to boost your child’s health, naturally.


Posted in Babies/ Children, Emotional/ Psychological Health, General, Immunity, News Update, Nutrition, Stress Management | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Can I take melatonin for jet lag or insomnia?

What is melatonin?

Melatonin is a hormone that helps control our sleep-wake cycle.
It is made by the pineal gland, a small gland in the brain. Normally, melatonin levels begin to rise during mid- to late evening, stay high for most of the night, and then decrease in the early morning. As we age, melatonin levels tend to drop. Some older adults make very small amounts of it or even none at all.

sleepMelatonin is useful in treating jet lag, sleep problems, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and controlling sleep patterns for people who work night shifts. Melatonin is also helpful for patients with chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia by improving sleep and reducing pain. Some research studies have demonstrated the role of melatonin in protecting healthy cells during cancer treatment, reducing the side effects of chemotherapy as well as slowing the development of cancer cells.

Can we boost our body’s melatonin levels through diet and lifestyle?

To maximise your body’s production of natural melatonin, there are several things you can do:

sleep31) Minimise use of bright lights from around 7pm onwards. Once it gets dark outside, your pineal gland begins to produce and secrete melatonin. Continuously being exposed to light during the evening will affect melatonin levels and sleep. One study showed that melatonin was suppressed in preschool children who were exposed to bright light in the evening. In the study, one hour of bright-light exposure in the evening suppressed the children’s melatonin secretion by around 90% and these levels remained suppressed for up to 50 minutes after light exposure. This study was presented in June 2016 at the SLEEP 2016: 30th Anniversary Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies.

2) Sleep in total darkness. Do not use night lights and get black-out blinds if you need to. Any light during sleep will disrupt your body’s melatonin production and stimulate the production of cortisol, a stress hormone, which has the opposite effect of melatonin.

3) Exercise regularly. Try to exercise during the daytime or at least 3 hours before bedtime.

4) Melatonin-boosting foods include cherries, walnuts, corn, oats, bananas and rice. Calcium is needed for melatonin production. Foods rich in calcium include green vegetables (e.g. kale, broccoli), almonds, dairy products, quinoa and fish with bones (e.g. sardines).
flight msg board

How can melatonin be taken as a supplement?

Melatonin is generally indicated for short-term use only. For jet lag, 2mg to 3 mg of melatonin can be taken around 1 hour before the desired sleep time. When purchasing melatonin, look for a sublingual melatonin supplement (i.e. a pill that dissolves under the tongue). Melatonin taken sublingually is directly and immediately released into the bloodstream. It has a higher bioavailability and faster onset of action. Melatonin should not be taken when eyes are exposed to bright light or the sun- This can disrupt the body’s biological clock because the body clock will receive conflicting daytime light signals and dark signals from melatonin. To treat other conditions, always consult a licensed naturopathic doctor or health care practitioner who is trained in nutraceuticals so that the appropriate usage and dosage can be given.  If you are experiencing insomnia or sleep problems, always consult your health care practitioner before using nutraceuticals or pharmaceuticals.



Posted in Babies/ Children, Cancer Prevention, Emotional/ Psychological Health, Hormonal (Endocrine) Imbalances, Men's Health, News Update, Women's Health | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Male infertility: what’s killing your sperm?

male_inf_testing_zoaIt is estimated that about one in seven couples faces difficulty conceiving.  If you’ve been having regular unprotected sex for more than 12 months (or less, if you’re over 35) and you’re still not pregnant, you may begin to wonder if you have a fertility problem. While people think that most fertility problems involve the woman, around 40% of infertility cases are actually attributed to the male partner.  Male infertility can stem from a variety of reasons including low sperm count, abnormal sperm shape (morphology), suboptimal movement (motility) and/ or function. And with up to a fifth of young men in the UK being diagnosed with low sperm count, many couples may wonder, what affects sperm health?

Why Do I Have Low Sperm Count or Poor Morphology?

  1. Do you sit for a long period of time (e.g. long-distance driver) or are you an avid bicyclist? Do you use hot tubs or heated car seats?  Or wear tight underwear? Heat can have a detrimental effect on normal sperm production. This is the reason why the testicles are located outside the body in the scrotum rather than in the abdomen like the ovaries. Studies show that actions or activities that raise testicular temperature can decrease sperm count.
  2. If your semen analysis reveals abnormalities, visit a urologist to rule out a varicocele, which is a fairly common condition among men. Varicoceles are enlarged/ dilated veins in the scrotum which results in an elevated temperature in the testicles, which can lead to fertility problems.
  3. Sperm health can be affected by overexposure to certain environmental elements such as industrial chemicals (e.g. benzenes, toluene), pesticides and heavy metals. fruits-320136_1280A 2015 Harvard study revealed that men who ate fruits and vegetables with higher levels of pesticide residues (e.g. strawberries, spinach, peppers) had lower sperm counts and lower percentages of normal sperm than those who ate produce with lower pesticide levels.
  4. It turns out that processed meats such as bacon and sausage may also decrease sperm count. In another Harvard study, researchers found that men who ate between one and three servings of processed meats salmon-518032_1920per day had worse quality
    sperm than those who ate the fewest servings. In comparison, sperm quality was better in men who ate the most white fish (e.g. cod, halibut).
    And men who ate the most fatty fish like salmon, bluefish or tuna had a 34% higher sperm count than those who ate the least amount of fish. Note that soy can also negatively affect sperm quality as it contains isoflavones which mimic estrogen, a primary female sex hormone.
  5. Smoking over 20 cigarettes a day has been shown to reduce both sperm count and sperm motility.
  6. Heat and radiation from mobile phones have an effect on sperm health. Studies show that using Wi-Fi can decrease a man’s fertility by decreasing sperm motility and increasing sperm DNA fragmentation. Click here to read more.
  7. Exposure to radiation from X-rays or cancer therapy can reduce sperm production. With high doses of radiation, sperm production can be permanently reduced.
  8. If you are overweight, it’s time to shed those extra pounds. Yet another Harvard study found that overweight men are 11% more likely to have a low sperm count and 39% more likely to have no sperm in their ejaculate. fat tummyObesity can reduce fertility by lowering testosterone levels (greater fat storage can end up turning testosterone into the female hormone estrogen, leading to a slowing or cessation of sperm production), directly raising testicular temperature due to extra insulating fat tissue and increasing the risk of erectile dysfunction.
  9. Skipping sex for too long may reduce fertility. Men with normal sperm counts who are abstinent for 11 or more days may experience significant decreases in the percentage of sperm motility and normal morphology.
  10. Untreated infections can decrease sperm count and quality, or cause scarring that blocks the passage of sperm. These include inflammation of the epididymis (epididymitis) or testicles (orchitis) and some sexually transmitted infections (STI), including HIV and gonorrhea.

If you are a man and would like to know more about your fertility status, get a comprehensive semen analysis done. A comprehensive semen analysis gives specific details on sperm count, sperm motility and sperm morphology (and if there are defects, where the defects lie- in the head, body, tail, etc.). It also rules out possible infection.

Dr. Ardyce Yik ND offers the comprehensive semen analysis for men at IMI clinic. Click here to read about Dr. Yik’s Natural Fertility Enhancement program. Click here to contact Dr. Yik.



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World Health Organization: Processed meat causes cancer

wurstplatte-668676_1920In October 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the cancer agency of the World Health Organization, classified processed meat as a carcinogen, something that causes cancer. A report released by the American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund in April 2016 also concluded that eating processed meat can increase the risk of developing cancer.

Processed meat refers to meat that has been treated in some way, e.g. salting, smoking, curing or fermenting. Processed meat includes hot dogs, bacon, luncheon meat (SPAM), sausage, ham, salami and pastrami.

It turns out that eating 50 grams of processed meat every day increases the risk of colorectal cancer and stomach cancer by 18%. That’s the equivalent of about 2 strips of bacon or 1 hot dog.

Though an occasional hot dog or pastrami sandwich won’t likely cause much harm, try to choose beans, poultry and fish more often than processed meat for your source of protein.

SOURCE: from Carcinogenicity of consumption of red and processed meat. Published early online October 26, 2015 in The Lancet Oncology. First author Veronique Bouvard, International Agency for Research on Cancer Monograph Working Group, Lyon, France.


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Study: Daily vitamin D improves heart function

A recent study has found that daily vitamin D3 supplementation can improve heart function in people with chronic heart failure.

In the study, researchers gave one group of patients 4000IU of daily vitamin D, and gave the other group a placebo. They found that those who took a daily vitamin D supplement showed improvement in cardiac function while those who took the placebo showed no improvement. heartbeat-163709_1280The study involved over 160 patients who were already being treated for chronic heart failure using treatments such as beta-blockers, ACE-inhibitors and pacemakers. Chronic heart failure occurs when the heart is unable to pump enough oxygen-rich blood around the body to support other organs. Around 50% of people diagnosed with the condition die within 5 years of diagnosis. This study was presented at the American College of Cardiology 65th Annual Scientific Session & Expo, in April 2016.

Vitamin D is not only known to have bone strengthening effects by helping the body deposit calcium in the bones, but it also plays an important role in immune function, emotional health, insulin release and aging. Patients with cancer, osteoporosis, depression, autoimmune conditions, premature aging and diabetes often have a vitamin D deficiency.

Click here to read more about vitamin D deficiency.


Posted in Cancer Prevention, Emotional/ Psychological Health, General, Heart Health, Immunity, Men's Health, News Update, Nutrition, Women's Health | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Healthy children, naturally

happy girlsDid you know, a recent study showed that children given vitamin D daily were less likely to catch the flu (influenza A)? And that children taking probiotics were half as likely to develop eczema (atopic dermatitis) than those who didn’t? How can parents empower their child to stay healthy into their adolescent years (and beyond!) and reduce the chances of their child turning to alcohol and drugs? Read on to find out how you can support your child’s health… naturally!

1. VITAMIN D: Researchers in Japan have found that besides getting the annual flu shot, vitamin D is also a potent flu-fighter. In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial comparing vitamin D3 supplements (1200 IU/day) with placebo in school-aged children, researchers found that the children receiving the sunshine vitamin had a 42% reduction in contracting influenza A compared to those not receiving it. The study also found that the group not getting the vitamin D had six times more asthma attacks.

kid2Vitamin D plays a very important role in supporting the immune system. “Vitamin D helps your body produce a protein called cathelicidin that fights bacteria and viruses,” says Carlos Camargo, M.D., an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. Other studies show that people with adequate levels of vitamin D are less likely to get the flu, and when they do, they tend to recover faster compared to those who are deficient. In Dr. Yik‘s practice, she finds many adults and children in Hong Kong who are deficient in vitamin D. Before you start taking vitamin D supplements though, get your level checked so you can supplement at the correct dosage. Too much vitamin D puts you at a higher risk for kidney stones. Click here to read more on how to boost your immune system to prevent the flu.

2. PROBIOTICS:  Probiotics are the friendly, healthy bacteria that reside in your gut. In a study published in The Lancet, infants whose family members had a history of eczema or allergies were either given probiotics prenatally (i.e. the mother took probiotics while she was pregnant) and until they were 6 months old, or they were given a placebo. It turns out that the children who took probiotics were half as likely to develop eczema than those who took the placebo.”Studies have shown that probiotics can be helpful with eczema flare-ups triggered by milk allergies,” adds Alan Greene, M.D., a clinical professor of pediatrics at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

Since up to 80% of our immune system lies in our gut, it makes sense to support immunity through the gut. Studies show that probiotic supplementation increases T-cell count, which makes you less vulnerable to infections. In a study involving 3- to 5-year-olds, daily probiotic supplementation for 6 months reduced fever, runny nose, cough and antibiotic prescription incidence, as well as the number of missed school days attributable to illness. Yogurt and kefir are popular foods that contain these gut-friendly bacteria, but to target specific health problems, you’ll most likely need to find probiotic supplements at higher doses since foods do not contain nearly enough probiotic CFUs to be considered therapeutic. Furthermore, different probiotic strains (types of bacteria) help to improve different conditions. Talk to your licensed naturopathic doctor to determine the appropriate probiotic supplement for your child’s individual needs.

FamilyBaby3. NURTURING RELATIONSHIPS: As a parent, your capacity to love and nurture your child is an important variable in predicting positive developmental outcomes. Studies show that parents who are attentive, non-restrictive and warm foster intellectual development and positive social behaviours in their children.

In one study, warm feelings of closeness with parents are characteristic of adolescents who abstain from drugs. Researchers in that study found that fathers who developed and maintained warm relationships, compared with those that did not, experienced greater success in terms of preventing future drug involvement.

So, maintain a close and healthy connection with your child. Talk with and listen to your child everyday. Ask questions about their school day, what they did during recess/ outdoor play and ask about their peers. Be available for them and let them know you’re listening (i.e. drop the phones/ laptops and give them your undivided attention). Fathers (and mothers), get involved. Engage your child in activities that bring enjoyment. Affirm your child’s worth. Show respect, encourage often and set appropriate boundaries. Children who experience a nurturing home environment are more likely to develop into healthy, capable, fully functioning adults.

girls reading4. IRON: Iron deficiency is the most prevalent hematologic disorder in childhood- and it’s linked to lower school scores! One study found that iron-deficient school-aged children and adolescents (including those with iron deficiency without anemia) had lower standardized math scores compared with those without iron deficiency. Iron stores in the body are often depleted during a period of accelerated growth. Adolescent girls may be more susceptible to iron deficiency due to poor dietary intake and heavy menstrual blood loss. An iron deficiency is associated with the following symptoms:

  • unexplained fatigue
  • dizziness
  • chronic headaches
  • leg pains
  • shortness of breath
  • unexplained weakness
  • ringing in your ears

To test for iron deficiency, get the ferritin test done (not the iron test). Ferritin is the major iron storage protein in the body. It is stored in the body’s cells until it’s time to make more red blood cells.

5. SLEEP: Children need adequate sleep to recharge and grow. When their bodies don’t get enough time to rest, they will be tired, cranky, irritated and finding it difficult to concentrate at school. A lack of sleep will also hinder the immune system from functioning optimally.

If you want to check your child’s nutrient status or find natural solutions to your child’s health issues, Dr. Yik can help. She is in charge of the “Boost Your Child’s Health” program at OT&P clinic and sees children in her practice on a regular basis. Her goal is to help each child achieve and maintain optimal health. Click here to read more about Dr. Yik and how she can help you and your child.



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Food allergy or food intolerance? What’s the difference?

childSome people think the terms “food allergy” and “food intolerance” are interchangeable, or variations of the same thing. However, the biological processes behind them, how they affect you and hence forms of treatment are markedly different.What’s the difference between a food allergy and a food intolerance?
FOOD ALLERGY: During an allergic reaction, the body’s immune system produces IgE (Immunoglobulin E) antibodies to fight off the particular food/ food ingredient it mistakenly considers to be harmful. The body’s response is immediate, varies from mild to severe and can affect one or more systems in the body. In some cases, the immune system sets off an inflammatory response throughout the whole body, resulting in a systemic reaction (i.e. anaphylaxis) which is potentially life threatening.

nuts-1703663_1920FOOD INTOLERANCE: A food intolerance usually involves a physical or biological reaction to the food/ food ingredient it mistakenly considers as a threat. This immune response is not life threatening. One form of intolerance is delayed onset food intolerance, which may affect digestion, skin, joints, energy levels and weight.

Delayed Onset Food Intolerances

With delayed onset food intolerances, the body produces a variety of inflammatory responses but unlike immediate allergic reactions, these IgG immune responses can be delayed for up to 72 hours, are often more subtle and vary in severity.
burgerFor example, if you have an intolerance (food-specific IgG reaction) to gluten, your body produces an inflammatory response to gluten proteins, and the reaction may manifest as bloating, acne, etc. after ingesting gluten or gluten-containing foods (Note: this is different from Celiac Disease, an autoimmune disorder where ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine). Another example: If you have an intolerance to dairy, your eczema may flare up every time you drink cow’s milk or eat cheese (Note: this is different from lactose intolerance, a condition where you lack the enzyme lactase to break down the milk sugar, lactose).

These delayed onset food intolerances aren’t necessarily lifelong. Avoiding the trigger foods and correcting gut function can help to mend the immune system and ultimately overcome these IgG reactions.
Common conditions/ symptoms linked to food-specific IgG reactions:

  • eczema/ atopic dermatitis
  •  acne
  • IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), diarrhea/ constipation
  • bloating, abdominal pain, feeling “gassy”
  • tiredness, fatigue
  • joint pain
  • headaches/ migraines
  • inability to lose weight, water retention

Should I test for food allergies, or food intolerances?

needleIf you experience immediate reactions, such as hives, after eating certain foods/ drinks, then you most likely have a food allergy. But if you have any of the above symptoms and cannot quite pinpoint which foods, if any, may be triggering your symptoms, then you may benefit from getting a food-specific IgG test done.

A licensed naturopathic physician can help you determine which test is appropriate according to your symptoms. Dr. Ardyce Yik ND offers allergy and intolerance testing in her practice.

What are the treatments for both?   

For food allergies, it is best to avoid the food you are allergic to. Treatment includes anti-histamine drugs and for anaphylactic reactions, epinephrine via an auto-injector (i.e. Auvi-Q™, EpiPen® or Adrenaclick®). Natural medicine for minor allergic symptoms includes quercetin. Allergy shots, also called “immunotherapy,” help your body get used to the allergen/ food that triggers an allergic reaction.

For food intolerances, avoiding the trigger foods for a period of time will help. During this period, Dr. Ardyce Yik ND prescribes to her patients natural medicines to help restore gut function and correct immune response. Patients often find that after treatment, they are able to eat the foods they were once intolerant to without experiencing previous symptoms. Click here to contact Dr. Yik.




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