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

veggies2According to researchers at Imperial College London, the greatest benefit comes from eating 10 portions of fruit and vegetables per day, which is double the current guidelines of 5 fruit and vegetable servings daily, for adults. It turns out that eating 5 a day is good, but having 10 a day is better and shows major benefit in reducing the chance of heart attack, stroke, cancer and early death.


doctorAs reported in the International Journal of Epidemiology, the researchers analyzed data from 95 studies, involving close to 2 million participants. They studied 112,000 cancer cases, 43,000 cases of heart disease, 47,000 cases of stroke, 81,000 cases of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and 94,000 deaths.

When the amount of fruit and vegetables eaten was increased to 800g per day (i.e. 10 portions), the risk reductions were 13% for cancer, 24% for heart disease, 33% for stroke, 28% for cardiovascular disease and 31% for premature death. This risk was calculated in comparison to not eating any fruit and vegetables.

The study found that apples, pears, citrus fruits, cruciferous vegetables (such as broccoli and cabbage) and green leafy vegetables (such as chicory and spinach) were best for reducing the risk of stroke, CVD, heart disease, and premature death. The intake of green vegetables, yellow vegetables and cruciferous vegetables were best for reducing cancer risk.


Overall, the researchers believe their findings highlight the importance of fruit and vegetables as part of a healthy diet. Dr. Dagfinn Aune, lead author of the research, explained: “We wanted to investigate how much fruit and vegetables you need to eat to gain the maximum protection against disease, and premature death. Our results suggest that although five portions of fruit and vegetables is good, ten a day is even better.”


A portion of fruit and vegetables equals 80g, which is approximately:

  • 1 banana
  • 1 apple
  • 1 pear
  • 1 large mandarin
  • 2 plums
  • 2 kiwis
  • 1 cup of berries
  • 3 heaped tablespoons of cooked vegetables such as spinach or peas
  • 2 spears of broccoli
  • 1 tomato
  • 8 cauliflower florets
  • a dessert bowl of salad


  1. For snacks, instead of a muffin or piece of cake, have an apple or orange. Or try carrot/ celery sticks with hummus.
  2. Add berries or sliced kiwi to your chia seed pudding or Greek yogurt.
  3. Include tomato, avocado and lettuce in your sandwich or burger.
  4. For lunch and dinner, strive to eat your vegetables first.
  5. Add a banana or strawberries to your smoothie or protein shake.
  6. Add a side salad to your lunch or dinner.
  7. Order a side of leafy greens.

Dr. Ardyce Yik ND is trained in nutritional therapy. She uses nutrition to treat and prevent illness. In addition, she helps countless adults and children eat according to their body constitution (traditional Chinese medicine method). For nutritional planning or natural solutions to your health issues, contact Dr. Yik today.



Posted in Babies/ Children, Cancer Prevention, General, Heart Health, News Update | 3 Comments

Anti-aging solutions: prevent premature aging and slow the aging process, naturally

groupWhat if it is possible to turn back the internal clock? What if we do have some control on how quickly we age? Nobel Laureate and molecular biologist, Elizabeth Blackburn, claims that the key to slowing the aging process lies within our cells- specifically in telomeres, which are cap-like regions at the ends of our chromosomes.


dna2It turns out that telomeres play an important role in health and aging. Telomeres are the tips at the ends of our chromosomes that protect our DNA from deterioration. They are like the plastic caps at the end of shoelaces, or like the erasers at the end of pencils. Over time, as our cells divide over and over again, the telomeres become shorter and shorter.  When the telomeres get too short to work properly, cells in your body start to malfunction or die, and the diseases of old age set in. Shorter telomeres are associated with a broad range of aging-related diseases, including various forms of cancer, stroke, dementia, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. Accelerated telomere shortening, which leads to premature aging, can occur with stress, poor dietary choices and inflammation. But increasing telomere length is also possible- In 2015, Stanford researchers found that extending telomere length turns back the internal clock in those cells. And growing evidence is pointing to certain lifestyle behaviours, aspects of nutrition and nutraceuticals/ herbs that can increase telomere length and essentially slow down the aging process.


  1. Get adequate sleep. One study found that telomeres were on average 6% shorter in men sleeping 5 hours or fewer compared with those sleeping more than 7 hours per night. In another study, insomnia was found to be associated with shorter telomere length in older adults. Click here for tips on how to get a better night’s sleep.
  2. run-1342619_1920Regular exercise. A 2008 study involving more than 2400 twins compared the telomere length in those that exercised regularly versus the sedentary ones. The researchers found that after 1 year, based on telomere length, those who exercised in their leisure time on a regular basis were biologically younger than those who didn’t.
  3. sadIntense, unmanaged stress can cause rapid, premature aging. Long work hours, excessive school or work pressure, life crises and relationship issues are among the many stressors we often face in life. A number of studies have linked stress to shorter telomeres. To combat the detrimental effects of stress, try taking adaptogens. Adaptogens are medicinal herbs that help our bodies adapt to stress, resist fatigue and reduce anxiety. They have been used for many centuries in Asia (mainly China and India) to strengthen the body, improve energy and boost resilience in the face of stress. Adaptogenic herbs such as Rhodiola and Astragalus have been reported to prevent telomere shortening and even lengthen telomeres, thereby decelerating the aging process and promoting longevity.
  4. salmonTake your omega-3s. Omega-3 fatty acids not only protect your heart, play a crucial role in brain function (memory, cognition) and benefit eye health, but it turns out this essential nutrient also affects telomere length. Studies have shown that higher blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids are associated with a slower rate of telomere shortening. One particular study showed that in patients with coronary heart disease, those with higher blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids had longer telomeres.
  5. yoga-pose-1082172_1920A Lancet study in 2013 showed that changes in diet, exercise, stress management and social support can result in longer telomeres, even in patients with a history of cancer. In the study, men who had prostate cancer were divided into two groups. After 5 years, the group that adopted the following lifestyle changes experienced an increase in telomere length of approximately 10%:
    1.  a plant-based diet
    2. moderate exercise (walking 30 minutes a day, six days a week)
    3. stress reduction exercises (gentle yoga-based stretching, breathing, meditation)
    4. Weekly support group session

The men in the control group who were not asked to alter their lifestyle had measurably shorter telomeres. “Telomere shortening increases the risk of a wide variety of chronic diseases,” co-senior author Dr. Peter Carroll said. “We believe that increases in telomere length may help to prevent these conditions and perhaps even lengthen lifespan.”

hand-1549135_1920Click here to read more about natural anti-aging strategies.

A healthy lifestyle and diet are vital to preventing premature aging. But often times, it’s easier said than done. If you need help in restoring optimal health or are interested in personalized anti-aging solutions, talk to your licensed naturopathic doctor. Click here to learn how Dr. Yik can help you.

The Telomere Effect: A Revolutionary Approach to Living Younger, Healthier By Elissa Epel and Elizabeth Blackburn
Posted in Anti-Aging, Cancer Prevention, Emotional/ Psychological Health, General, Immunity, Men's Health, News Update, Nutrition, Stress Management, Women's Health | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Help- I can’t fall asleep!

alarm-clock-1193291_1920Hong Kong, one of the world’s most densely populated and busiest metropolises, is often dubbed “a city that never sleeps”. And rightly so. Nearly 40% of Hong Kong Chinese adults suffer from insomnia, according to a study by the European Sleep Research Society. Not being able to fall asleep every evening is not only frustrating but can lead to a number of health issues if left untreated.


  1. Consuming caffeinated beverages (e.g. coffee, tea) or foods (e.g. chocolate) in the afternoon or evening
  2. Going to bed at a different time each night
  3. access-1867690_1920Exposure to bright light in the evening or before bedtime (click here to read more about this and melatonin)
  4. Exposure to blue light emitted from electronics and energy-efficient lightbulbs in the evening or before bedtime
  5. Hormonal imbalances such as hypothyroidism, menopause, pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) or high levels of cortisol, an adrenal hormone
  6. Depression/ Anxiety
  7. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)


  1. Avoid looking at bright screens beginning two to three hours before bed. In Hong Kong adolescents who were addicted to internet use, 51% reported having sleep disorders.
  2. children-1922580_1280Expose yourself to bright light during the day. Minimise use of bright lights in the evening. Once it gets dark outside, your pineal gland begins to produce and secrete melatonin, a hormone which controls your sleep-wake cycle. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day. When you have a regular routine, your body will learn when to wind down in the evening to prepare for sleep. Going to bed and getting up at the same time every day will help to establish a proper sleep-wake cycle.
  5. flowerTension-reducing techniques. While you lie in bed, take a few deep breaths using your nostrils. Exhale slowly and fully before taking the next deep breath. Try the alternate-nostril breathing technique where you plug one nostril and slowly inhale through one side, then switch/ plug the other nostril and exhale completely through the other side. Another stress-reducing technique: clench your fists for 3 seconds, then slowly release them. Gently shake loose your hands. Repeat these steps several times.

It’s important to treat the root cause. Dr. Ardyce Yik ND helps people investigate and address the underlying causes of health concerns. Whether it’s anxiety, an overactive mind, hot flashes waking you up at night or cortisol imbalances preventing you from getting restful sleep, Dr. Yik is determined to help you overcome your insomnia.

Click here to contact Dr. Yik. Click here to read more tips on how to get better sleep, naturally.


Posted in Emotional/ Psychological Health, General, Hormonal (Endocrine) Imbalances, News Update, Stress Management, Weight Management, Women's Health | 2 Comments

Handful of nuts a day keeps the doctor away!

nuts-1703663_1920New research released this month found that eating a handful of nuts every day cuts the risk of a wide range of illnesses. Researchers at the Imperial College of London and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology concluded that people who eat around 20g (around a handful) of nuts 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%. 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.

“We found a consistent reduction in risk across many different diseases, which is a strong indication that there is a real underlying relationship between nut consumption and different health outcomes,” said Dr. Dagfinn Aune, the study’s co-author from the School of Public Health at Imperial College. “It’s quite a substantial effect for such a small amount of food.” 29 previously published studies involving over 819,000 subjects were analyzed. The research included all kinds of tree nuts- walnuts, cashews, almonds, macadamia nuts, etc.

Rich in unsaturated fatty acids (i.e. good fats), fiber, protein, vitamins, minerals and various antioxidants, it’s no wonder nuts are considered a “superfood”- they are one of the healthiest foods and most nutritious snacks out there. So, go ahead and indulge in your daily handful this holiday season!



Posted in Anti-Aging, General, Heart Health, Immunity, Men's Health, News Update, Nutrition, Pregnancy, Women's Health | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

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.


Posted in Babies/ Children, General, Immunity, News Update, Women's Health | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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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