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Pelvic Tilt on Ball

Exercises during pregnancy are often focused on easing discomfort and preparing the body for birth. Many women find a birth ball (exercise ball) to be a useful tool during pregnancy and labour, because it provides comfortable support, and encourages movement of the pelvis – allowing a good position for baby.

 

Pelvic tilts are great for people who spend long periods of time in a seated position, especially if they tend to slouch with their bum tucked under. Tucking creates tension in the pelvic floor muscles, which need to be strong and supple for birth. This exercise will encourage “un-tucking” of the bum, which in turn releases and lengthens the pelvic floor muscles.

 

  • The ball can be put near a wall for extra stability
  • Sit on the ball with your feet wide apart (as wide as needed for comfort)
  • As you inhale, gently push the ball backwards (un-tucking pelvis)
  • Exhale, gently moving the ball forward again (tucking bum under)
  • Repeat a few times, as needed for comfort.

 

During labour, sitting on a ball and moving the pelvis forward and back (and side to side) can help encourage baby to descend (with the help of your contractions!).

 

If you do not have a ball to try out this exercise, the cat/cow yoga pose (positioned on all fours) will have a similar effect. You can create extra padding with some folded blankets under your knees – your comfort is key!

 

Medical Disclaimer: It is important to discuss any intentions for exercise with your primary health care provider. Although this is considered a therapeutic exercise that is safe for pregnancy, every pregnancy is different, and sometimes modifications are needed, depending on your health history. If your pregnancy is categorized as high-risk, it is highly recommended that you consult your OB/GYN, midwife, or family physician before starting exercise.

Let’s talk about SEX

It’s that time of year again.  Everywhere you look, you are surrounded by hearts, chocolates and flowers.  It’s Valentine’s day and the pressure is on.  But what if you aren’t feeling that “loving feeling”?

Many people struggle with decreased libido or sex drive but there are some natural ways to help give your sex drive a boost.

Here’s a list of my top 5.

  • Look at your plate.  There are foods that can increase your libido. Consider foods like avocados, watermelon, asparagus and sweet potatoes.  They contain nutrients that support healthy hormones and can increase your libido.  Incorporating these foods daily in your diet while reducing refined sugar, processed foods and fried foods can help support a healthy sex drive.
  • Get a move on. Exercise will boost your testosterone and testosterone can support a healthy libido in men and women.  Pump some iron to get even better results since building muscle by lifting weights can increase testosterone.  Not into lifting?  Consider sprints.  A series of short but intense exercise has been shown to increase testosterone as well.
  • Stress less. We know stress impacts our lives in many ways.  Our sex life is no exception.  It is important to manage stress in healthy way.  Consider better sleep routines, exercise, a healthy diet and meditation.  Dealing with stress with excessive alcohol, drugs, junk food and smoking are not only going to be harmful to your overall well-being, they are also going to further decrease any interest you may have in the bedroom activities.  Stress keeping you from getting in the mood?  Take a bath or do some meditation beforehand to help you relax and get in the mood.
  • Put it on the calendar. We are generally overscheduled so why not add sex to the to-do list?  Admittedly, it isn’t the most romantic thing to do but if it helps to make it a priority and keep you and your partner connected, it might be worth a try.
  • Consider some supplements. Our sex hormones start to decrease as we get older.  A supplement can help.  Omega 3 fats, for instance, can help support sex hormones and improve blood flow.  Maca is a Peruvian herb linked to fertility and sexuality. Many other supplements contain herbs and vitamins that can support our sex hormones and in turn, give your sex drive a little boost.  Keep in mind, it is always important to consult with a health care practitioner before starting a supplement.

If simple measures like these don’t help, consider an appointment with your naturopathic doctor or other health care practitioner.  A review of your diet, medications or supplements and lifestyle may reveal hidden causes for a depressed libido.  Working with a qualified practitioner may help you develop a regimen that helps increase your libido and get you back in the mood for Cupid.

Surviving the Holidays

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I have to admit, stuffing is one of my all time favorite holiday foods and I won’t say no to jam cookies either, but if you follow some simple rules you won’t have to either!

 

The holidays are a time of year that we all look forward to in terms of socializing with friends and family but they should be “just another day” when it comes to what you eat. The mistake a lot of people make is depriving themselves and then overeating, or throwing in the towel and bingeing until their New Year’s resolutions kick in. Don’t undo all the good work of the year by gaining pounds over the holidays and then feeling disappointed with yourself. Also remember, this is not the time of year to try to lose weight or change your eating habits drastically, it’s the time of year to maintain your good habits and remember moderation.

 

Important things to remember

  • Always eat breakfast – I will never get tired of saying that! Studies have shown that individuals who start their day with a healthy protein-rich breakfast consume fewer calories throughout the rest of the day.
  • Avoid going out when you’re hungry; you’ll be more inclined to overeat. If you are going to a cocktail party have a meal or a light snack beforehand. This way, you will not fill up on fatty finger foods.
  • Avoid recreational eating! Don’t stand by the food. Make your selection and move away; you can come back later if you are still genuinely hungry. Learn to recognize and acknowledge your true hunger and appetite.
  • Be physically active every day. Physical activity (brisk walking, jogging, bicycling, etc) can relieve stress, regulate appetite, and burn up extra calories.
  • If you indulge in dessert, share with someone (it’s much cozier that way, as well!).
  • Reduce the fat in holiday recipes. There are plenty of low fat and low calorie substitutes that are amazingly tasty. Try using applesauce in place of oil in your favorite holiday breads; use egg substitutes in place of whole eggs; try plain nonfat yogurt in place of sour cream.
  • Choose your beverages wisely. Alcohol is high in calories and after a few drinks you also eat more. Use non-alcoholic mixers such as water and soda water and drink a glass of water for every glass of alcohol.
  • The important thing to remember is balance and moderation. It’s OK to eat too much once in a while. The key to maintaining your weight is to go back to your normal routine after indulging, don’t use one indulgence as a way to continue with unhealthy eating.
  • Elevated stress hormones can cause your body to pack on the pounds so most importantly try to relax, enjoy the holidays, and remember what this time of year is all about.

Happy Holidays!

Dr. Rahima, ND is a Naturopathic doctor at the Dundas University Health Clinic.  She has a special interest in weight loss, fertility, women’s health and autoimmune disease.  She is also licensed in Intravenous Therapy.  To learn more, book a free 15 minute consult today!

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Beating the Cold and Flu Season

beat-cold-and-flubogAs the temperature begins to fall, many people find themselves feeling less than their best. Fall and Winter can be a challenging time of year with cold and flu season at its peak. Regardless of whether or not you decide to vaccinate against the flu, naturopathic medicine can help you ensure that your immune system is working at its best. This will help protect you and your loved ones from the cold and seasonal flu.

Some of the most important things you can do to boost your immunity this season and ensure your family’s health are:

1. Wash your hands: We have all heard this over and over. That’s because it is one of the most important things you can do to avoid transmitting germs. It is also important to avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with your hands as this can encourage the spread of viruses and bacteria. Encourage your children to wash their hands often and especially when they get home after school.
2. Get a bottle of sunshine: Vitamin D supplementation is particularly important for those of us living in North America. With shorter days and longer nights, we don’t get enough sun exposure, which in turn means we don’t produce enough Vitamin D. This vitamin is typically known for its effect on bone development and calcium absorption. But in recent years, it is getting more attention for its effect on the immune system. Many studies have shown that individuals with decreased serum levels of Vitamin D are at an increased risk of developing a cold or flu.
3. Eat a colorful diet: Different colored foods have different phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are chemicals that are present in fruits and vegetables and other foods like whole grains and legumes. Making sure you get a variety of different colored foods in your diet will ensure that you get a wide variety of phytonutrients to support your body’s immune system and stay well. These foods also contain vitamins, minerals and fiber, which are added benefits to ensure optimum health. Make it fun for you kids by telling them that you are going to try to eat all the colours of the rainbow. Look at their lunches. If it’s all crackers and bread, add some colour with different sweet peppers, carrots, blueberries, avocados and cucumbers. Get them involved by helping you pick out the colours of the day.
4. Cut out the sugar: The Standard Canadian Diet is high in fat, low in fiber and high in processed foods. It is also particularly high in sugar. If you want to avoid getting sick, reduce your sugar intake and check your labels carefully. Many foods disguise sugar by using alternative names like sucrose, fructose and maltose, just to name a few. Sugar is an immune depressant. When white blood cells are exposed to high levels of sugar in the bloodstream, they show a decreased resistance to infection. If you must, use natural sweeteners like honey, agave and xylitol but use them sparingly. Especially avoid sugar in lunch boxes, as this will make your child more susceptible to infections at school.
5. Not all bugs are bad: Probiotics are the healthy and necessary bacteria that hang out in your gut. These little guys are your body’s natural defense against infections. Many people have an imbalance in their guts due to overuse of antibiotics, poor diet and stress. Supplementation has shown to decrease the incidence of both gastrointestinal and respiratory infections. You can also get probiotics from fermented foods like yogurt and kefir, but at this time of year, it is best to supplement to ensure that you get adequate amounts.
6. Get moving: Exercise in moderation has been shown to increase immune cell function. However, too much of a good thing is not necessarily better. Intense or prolonged exercise actually decreases your immune response.
7. Get some ZZZZ’s: Not getting enough sleep has been shown to reduce the body’s resistance to infection. According to a study conducted by the Archives of Internal Medicine, people “who slept an average of fewer than seven hours a night … were three times as likely to get sick as those who averaged at least eight hours.”
8. Manage your stress: The Mind-Body connection cannot be overlooked. Stress has a very powerful effect on your body. Although acute stress can boost immunity, chronic, unrelenting stress suppresses the immune reaction leaving you vulnerable to infection. Combat the negative effects of stress with some good relaxation techniques like deep breathing, guided visualization and meditation. Children are not immune to stress either. If you child is getting sick often, perhaps he/she is overscheduled or has some anxiety. Watch your little one carefully and make lifestyle adjustments accordingly.

Rahima Hirji, ND is a Naturopathic Doctor certified in Intravenous Therapy at the Dundas University Health Clinic. She has an eclectic practice has a special interest in womens’ health, infertility, gastrointestinal and autoimmune diseases.

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Falling Back Into Routines

falling-into-success
Falling Back into Routines….

– By Dr. Rahima Hirji, ND

It’s that time of year again.  Although I love Summer, I always find this time of year energizing. The crisp air, the Fall harvest, the return to routines and the excitement of the holidays around the corner makes Autumn one of my favorite seasons.

But it is also a hectic time of year.  Kids go back to school.  Parents try to re-establish routines while conquering homework and activities and then before you know it, the holidays creep up and people are left feeling stressed, sick and perhaps a little depressed.

Here are a few tips to help you stay healthy and active through the Fall without adding too much to your already overloaded plates (no pun intended!).

Get active

This time of year is a great time to be walking outdoors.  The weather is nicer and the trees are stunning. Find ways to make walking regularly even more appealing by getting an MP3 player and taking your smart phone with you.  Listen to your favorite music, audiobooks or podcasts as you walk.  The time will go by quickly and you will find yourself looking forward to your walks more and more.

If the outdoors don’t appeal to you, plan to watch your favorite show while on the treadmill or devise an exercise routine to do while watching television. You can also involve the family and help get the kids more active by planning activities like hikes and apple picking.

 Embrace the Fall Bounty.  Eat in season.   It will make sure you get the vitamins and minerals you need to stay healthy and it will help you support local farmers.

Think about incorporating some of the following foods:

  • Squash is high in Vitamin A and makes a great soup with carrots, onions, chicken broth and ginger
  • Apples are at their best this time of year and high in fiber. Buy organic if possible, as apples are heavily sprayed.
  • Parsnips are great for soups and stews and are high in potassium.
  • Rutabagas can be roasted with herbs and lemon.  They are high in fiber and vitamin C.
  • Sweet potatoes are high in vitamin A and iron and are great roasted or can be combined in different recipes.

If you are stuck in a rut and always buying and preparing the same vegetables, think about signing up for an organic food box that gets delivered to your door regularly.  It will make sure you get a ton of healthy food every week and you can try some new recipes too.  One of my favorite companies doing this is Live Organics.

Clear out the junk food.  Holiday season is around the corner so you really want to focus on eating well and avoiding junk foods, processed foods and alcohol at home.  In the summer, we all tend to indulge in extra wine and ice cream so it’s a good time to try to reign in some of those bad habits before the festivities begin.

It’s also a great time to clean out the kitchen of any of these foods and stock up on healthy fruits and vegetables in your refrigerator and freezer.  Stock your pantry with healthy snacks like nuts, dried fruits, canned fish, whole grains like brown rice and quinoa and legumes and lentils to throw into soups.  If you are well stocked, it is easy to pull out the crockpot and start making some hearty soups with chicken broth and beans from the pantry.  Add your favorite veggies and some spices and you are set.

Get enough sleep.  This time of year it can be easy to fall off track when it come to sleep schedules.  Kids have activities and homework, and the holiday season is around the corner so it can be tempting to stay up later and get things done.  But sleep is very important to stay healthy and alert.   Getting enough sleep also helps control your appetite so it’s important for weight control as well.  Really focus on healthy habits, especially in children.  This means no televisions or computers in the bedroom, regular bedtime routines, establishing firm sleep and wake times and a nice dark bedroom that isn’t too warm.

Take your supplements. I can’t emphasize this enough.  Now is the time you want to focus on cold and flu prevention.  Vitamin D and probiotics are a minimum and a must.  You may also want to keep some vitamin C and oil of oregano on hand for when you feel a tickle in your throat or a sniffle coming on.

With a little preparation and discipline, these tips can help you establish some good habits to help you breeze through the coming months.

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