It’s my favorite season of all – finally, a good excuse to unbuckle my belt a couple notches, pour a stiff rum and eggnog, and indulge in as many sweet treats as I can before the New Year rolls in, along with pangs of guilt. Does this sound familiar to you? I think it’s safe to say that this probably describes the majority of us.
As long as we stay within the limits of moderation, and make some attempts at cleansing our bodies in January, I like to think we circumvent permanent damage from our yearly holiday indulgences. Most chronic, degenerative disease can be traced back to improper detoxification and the consequential inflammatory changes that follow, as our bodies struggle to maintain homeostasis. Over the long term, with excessive indulging (alcohol, cigarettes, sweets, deep fried foods, caffeine, even medication and supplements) our detoxification capabilities tend to grow sluggish. When I encounter patients with vague symptoms (fatigue, energy crashes, chronically sick, allergies, poor memory, aches and pain, multiple chemical sensitivities, mood swings, etc.), I know it’s time to open the emunctories and help unburden the toxic load. I do this through different means – exercise and saunas to help induce sweating, dietary and lifestyle changes to move the bowels, herbs to help stimulate a sluggish liver and kidneys, and supplements to unregulated phase I and II detox pathways in the liver.
Another common issue that tends to arise with the chilly winter weather is cold and flu season. I like to take the preventative approach when it comes to viral and bacterial infections, and I do this by looking at the common denominators that drag down our immune system. This includes adequate sleep, fluid intake, exercise, fresh air, a nutrient-rich, antioxidant-dense diet, and stress management. After this, I zone in on the immune system and possible causes that could be tying it up. I first look to the gut. Over 75% of our immune cells reside in lymph tissue surrounding our gastrointestinal tract to protect what is coming across the gut barrier. Having an intestinal tract full of healthy, natural flora and devoid of pathogenic strains of bacteria, yeast, and parasites is paramount to a healthy, well-functioning immune system. I find that food sensitivities, blood sugar irregularities (crashing after carb-rich meals is a good example of blood sugar imbalances!) and worn out adrenal glands all contribute to a weakened immune system, and luckily, all can be improved with a good dose of naturopathic medicine.
Extended health insurance plans often cover naturopathic medicine under the ‘paramedical services’ branch. As the year-end is approaching fast, and extended health coverage doesn’t carry over to the new year, take advantage of this opportunity to put together a comprehensive individualized treatment plan and get a head start on your New Year’s resolution to improve your health!