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Suzanne Ho-Miecznikowski

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Cold & Flu? Support Your Immune System Naturally

Now that January is upon us, it seems that everyone around us is sneezing and coughing. Supporting your immune system is your best defence against upper respiratory infections, whether they are bacterial or viral. 

These are my top five recommendations for immune support:

1. Find a high-quality vitamin A,C,E, selenium and zinc formula in capsule form.    

•    These vitamins and minerals support various components of our immune system - the physical barrier (skin and mucosa), cellular immunity and antibody production.     •    Best food sources of vitamin A include carrot juice, liver, dandelion leaf, spirulina and sweet potato.    
•    Food sources of vitamin C: orange juice, guava, peppers, grapefruit juice and watermelon.    
•    Top sources of vitamin E: sunflower seeds, almonds, pecans, hazelnuts and sweet potato.    
•    Selenium is found in: Brazil nuts, snapper, halibut, salmon and Swiss chard.    
•    Zinc sources include oysters, beef, wheat germ, turkey and Swiss chard.

2. Take a probiotic that contains Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.   

•    These healthy bacteria reduce the duration, severity and frequency of cold symptoms. Concentrated products can be in capsule or powder form.    
•    Healthy probiotics are found in fermented foods such as kombucha, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi. 

3. Consider a herbal or mushroom extract.

•    A few common immune stimulating herbs are echinacea, elderberry, ginseng and reishi. There are also herbs that are anti-bacterial and anti-viral, such as garlic, olive leaf, and goldenseal, so these herbs are often used together.    
•    Take in tincture (liquid) form for better absorption.

4. Avoid sugar in all forms.    

•    Even a tablespoon of simple sugar can suppress your white blood cell response to bacteria or viruses.    
•    Sugar hides under various names on food labels, such as glucose, fructose, brown rice syrup, barley malt, corn syrup, dextrose, maltose, rice syrup, and maltodextrin. So read labels carefully!

5. Try an immune boosting soup.   

•    Such as one on the Healthy Maven website  
•    Change of Season Soup on my website

Natural Treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome

The below article discusses the upper portion of your digestion from your mouth to your stomach.  This issue is about the intestines, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Are these symptoms familiar? 

- Bloating throughout the day
- Cramping after meals
- Irregular bowel movements (normal is at least once a day)
- Chronic diarrhea or constipation
- Excessive gas

These symptoms may occur singly or in combination. For some it's a daily occurrence, while for others it only happens once in a while.

Your digestive system is much more than a simple tube that carries food through your body. The process of digestion starts in your mouth and continues through your esophagus, stomach, small intestines, and large intestine. Along the way, the pancreas and liver produce enzymes and bile to break down food, nutrients are absorbed in the small intestines and waste material is carried through the large intestine and eliminated.
Making a few changes can help to restore proper digestion in your intestines to alleviate your symptoms:
1. Identify possible food sensitivities and avoid these foods.
Action: This can be done by an elimination diet followed by systematic reintroduction of foods, or with a simple blood test for food sensitivities. 

2. Replenish healthy bacterial flora for proper breakdown of food and absorption of vitamins and minerals.
Action: Choose an appropriate probiotic supplement at the correct dosage and incorporate fermented foods to increase the bacterial population in your digestive tract.

3. Balance soluble fibre with insoluble fibre to keep material moving through your intestines.
Action: Balance your intake of grains, vegetables and fruit.

4. Digestive enzymes break down protein, carbohydrates and fats in your stomach. This ensures proper breakdown of food before it reaches the intestines. 
Action: Consider supplementing with a high quality comprehensive digestive enzyme to promote proper digestive function.

5. Decrease inflammation in your intestines by incorporating some herbs. 
Action: Heal your intestines with herbs such as peppermint, barberry, turmeric and ginger. 

If you need guidance to determine which approach is best suited for you, I am here to help you.


Natural Treatment of Indigestion & Heartburn

Do you experience heartburn or indigestion?

Your digestive tract may need help. Naturally.

Are these symptoms familiar?
- Acid reflux, heartburn and frequent belching after eating
- Indigestion or upset stomach after a meal
- Feeling of excessive fullness after eating
- Bloating and cramping

These symptoms may occur singly or in combination. For some it’s a daily occurrence while for others, it only happens once in a while.

Your digestive system is much more than a simple tube that carries food through your body. The process of digestion starts in your mouth and continues through your esophagus, stomach, small intestines, and colon. Along the way, the pancreas and liver produce enzymes and bile to break down food. This newsletter will deal with the upper portion of the digestive tract from the mouth to the stomach. Next season’s issue will deal with the lower portion of the digestive tract which includes the small and large intestines

Make a few changes to restore proper digestion in the upper portion of your system:

  1. Digestion begins in your mouth. Chewing breaks down food to make it easier for your stomach and intestines to digest it. Saliva in your mouth contains the enzyme amylase to break down starches.

    Action: Set aside 20 minutes for each meal, eat mindfully (enjoying flavours and textures) and chew thoroughly before swallowing.

  2. After swallowing, the food travels to the stomach via the esophagus. The stomach churns food while adding hydrochloric acid and digestive enzymes to further breakdown food into a puree.

    Action: Avoid drinking liquids with meals as this dilutes stomach acid and enzymes that are required for proper food breakdown.

  3. Stomach acid facilitates digestion and kills potentially harmful bacteria and microorganisms. Many people believe that stomach acid is bad and that too much causes heartburn, but low stomach acid can result in decreased nutrient absorption, gastrointestinal infections, food sensitivities, heartburn and reflux, indigestion, fullness and bloating, flatulence, and constipation or diarrhea.

    Action: Ensure that you have sufficient stomach acid production. It would be best to work with qualified healthcare practitioner to determine your best options.

  4. Digestive enzymes such as pepsin break down protein in your stomach.

    Action: Consider supplementing with a well-designed comprehensive digestive enzyme to promote proper digestive function.

  5. When you experience recurrent heartburn or reflux, the mucous membranes in your esophagus are often irritated and inflamed as they are not designed to handle the acidity.

    Action: Heal irritated mucous membranes with herbs such as meadowsweet, marshmallow (the herb!), slippery elm, liquorice (the herb!), or chamomile.

Contact Suzanne if you would like to discuss your specific digestive issues in greater detail.


Naturopathic Medicine in Canada- Regulation Update

“As of July 1, 2015, Naturopathic Doctors in Ontario are regulated under the Regulated Health Professions Act (1991), similar to other health care professions such as physicians, chiropractors, pharmacists and dentists. The newly formed College of Naturopaths of Ontario (CONO) will regulate Naturopathic Doctors in the province, ensuring high quality primary health care. The profession was previously regulated by the Drugless Practitioners Act of 1925.

Please make sure that your Naturopathic Doctor is licenced and registered by contacting the College of Naturopaths of Ontario. More regulation information.




Vitamin Supplements - To Take, Or Not To Take: That Is The Question

I am often asked whether dietary supplements such as vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids or probiotics are really necessary. This is a complex question that depends on your lifestyle and your level of health.

You probably don’t need supplements if:

- you have no current health concerns and feel energetic,
- have a healthy digestive system for optimal nutrient absorption (no discomfort and daily bathroom visits),
- experience minimal stress (and have good stress management habits),
- get enough sleep (wake feeling bright eyed and bushy tailed).
- don’t take medications (short or long-term),
- aren’t predisposed to any serious health conditions (no family history of diabetes, heart disease, cancer, thyroid conditions, high cholesterol, mental health disorders), and
- eat 3 home-made meals that are loaded with fresh vegetables and fruit, and balanced with healthy protein.

You might need supplements if a few of the items from the list above are true for you and you probably need supplements if none of the items on the list are true for you.

Other reasons for using vitamin supplements:

• They work well in the short term to address your health concerns while you are working on improving your diet (which often requires more learning, effort and commitment while new habits form).
• They work well when your lifestyle and work-style doesn’t allow for big dietary changes (i.e. travel)
• If you prefer a more natural approach to resolve your health concerns, it is often difficult to reach the therapeutic dosages of certain vitamins/ minerals/ probiotics/ fatty acids from diet alone.
• In the long run though, once you resolve your health concerns it is wiser to focus on eating well and use supplements occasionally on an as needed basis.

Not all supplements are made equal.

What’s your best choice?

1. Supplements in capsule form, instead of caplets and tablets.
2. Products that do not contain chemical binders, lubricants or fillers (i.e. magnesium stearate, lactose, colouring,
sweeteners, etc.)
3. Products that contain the most absorbable and bio-available forms of vitamins and minerals. For example, choose minerals bound to citrate or malate instead of oxides or carbonates.
4. Probiotics with multiple strains of bacteria and a greater number of colony forming units (CFU) (e.g. 10 billion at least.)
5. Choose fish oils that are highly purified (3rd party certified) and are from sustainable fish sources.

If you need any guidance with what supplements might be best
suited for you, I am here to help you achieve optimal health,

Contact Suzanne





Stressed? Tired, but Wired?

Your adrenal glands may need support. Naturally.

Are these symptoms familiar?

  • Waking up tired in the morning despite getting a good night's sleep.
  • Feeling groggy until 10 am, exhausted around 3-4 pm and then energetic in the evening.
  • Having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep.
  • Feeling like it takes 10X the effort than it should to do every day tasks.
  • Feeling light-headed or dizzy if you sit or stand up quickly.
  • Having trouble focussing and making decisions.
  • Gaining weight around your waistline.
  • Decreasing ability to tolerate exercise.
  • Getting repeated colds, flus or infections and taking a long time to recover.
  • Having trouble making it through the day without frequent coffee and starchy/sugary snacks.
  • Worsening PMS, peri-menopause or menopausal symptoms.

How are your adrenal glands involved?

Your adrenal glands produce steroid hormones to regulate many body systems, including your response to stress.This means that when you experience too much physical, emotional, mental, or environmental stress, it can deplete your adrenal function leading to decreased hormone production and symptoms of adrenal fatigue. 

Having one of these symptoms does not give a definitive diagnosis of adrenal fatigue, but collectively, they strongly suggest it’s presence. If many of these symptoms seem familiar to you, then you are probably suffering from some level of adrenal fatigue, and something needs to change if you want to feel better again.


Make a few lifestyle changes.

1. Get enough sleep. Be in bed and asleep at 10:30 pm before you catch your second wind. Staying up late further exhausts your adrenal glands. Create relaxing evening habits and turn off all screens an hour before bedtime.

2. Emphasize the activities that make you feel good and minimize the ones that drain your energy.

  • Make a list of things that make you feel good and a list of things that drain your energy. Identify the top FIVE good things and see how you can emphasize these things in your life, and lessen the top five bad things to lessen their impact.

3. Add some physical exercise. Exercise normalizes levels of cortisol, insulin, blood glucose, growth hormone, thyroid, and several other hormones, and puts more oxygen into your brain.

Find an exercise that you enjoy, that is not highly competitive or grueling. Yoga, tai-chi, swimming, fast walking, and dancing are a good way to start getting active.

Look at what and when you eat.

4. Combine a high quality protein (e.g. organic grass-fed meat, organic free range eggs, cold water fish, beans, organic dairy products, nuts and seeds) and colourful vegetables at every meal.

5. If you are vegetarian and have adrenal fatigue, include eggs, miso, sea vegetables, and yogurt into your diet.

6. Eat 6 to 8 servings of a wide variety of vegetables per day, especially colourful ones (green, yellow, red, orange, purple). Vegetables provide vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and a high amount of fibre. Make sure you have at least three highly coloured vegetables with each of your noon and evening meals.

7. If you have adrenal fatigue, timing of meals is extremely important:
  • Eat breakfast before 10 am to replenish your nutrient stores from not having eaten all night.
  • Lunch should be eaten between 11-11:30 because at this point in the day your body has used up the morning nourishment.
  • A nutritious snack sometime between 2-3 pm helps to get you through that cortisol dip around 3-4 pm.
  • Then you should have an evening meal around 5-6 pm.
  • Before bed, a couple of bites of a good quality snack with a whole grain and small amount of protein will ensure that you don’t wake up in your sleep due to low blood sugar.

8. Decrease your caffeine and sugar intake. People with adrenal fatigue often crave caffeine or cola because of their stimulant effect. However, caffeine over-stimulates the adrenal glands, which leads to further fatigue when the caffeine wears off. Green tea is a better choice.

Take a few high-quality supplements.

9. Take a high-quality vitamin B-complex supplement as these are our "anti-stress" vitamins. They support adrenal hormone production and cellular energy production.

10. Magnesium is like the spark plug for your adrenal glands and is essential for cellular energy production.

11. Calcium settles the nervous system and creates inner calm.

Consider a few herbs.

12. Try some herbal adrenal support such as Ashwaganda (an Ayurvedic herb that modulates the body’s stress response), Rhodiola (a herb that modulates the adrenal gland function, reduces anxiety and enhances brain function), or Siberian Ginseng (a herb that supports adrenal gland function).

How can a naturopathic doctor help?

I am here to help you figure out what dietary and lifestyle changes will have you feeling more energized and feeling heathy. Some supplements may interact with medications or health conditions, so please seek advice from a qualified naturopathic doctor.

Contact Suzanne



5 Ways to Stay Healthy Through the Holiday Season (and still have fun!)

At this time of year, the focus is on enjoying all the festivities rather than on health. But all the rich foods, cocktails, late nights and stress can lead to weight gain, low immunity, and exhaustion. Here are five ideas to help you stay healthy while still having a great time.

Stay well-hydrated - Alcohol and caffeine are both very dehydrating. So to prevent the morning after headache by drinking one large glass of water between each glass of wine or cocktail (likewise for the coffee). Keep in mind too, that drinking one large glass of water 20 minutes before a meal (but not during a meal as this dilutes stomach acid and enzymes thus weakening digestion) has the added benefit of helping you feel full faster so that you don’t overeat.

Choose nutrient-rich food - when you face a giant spread of food, avoid the deep-fried, processed, and packaged foods that are full of saturated fat, salt, and sugar. Instead, choose homemade foods, high quality protein sources, colourful vegetables and fresh fruits that contain nutrients to nourish your body, thus giving you enough energy to enjoy the party.

Breathe - Take 5 minutes first thing in the morning and throughout the day (in the car to the next gathering) to be mindful your breathing. This exercise promotes physiological relaxation that can protect your body from the harmful effects of too much stress. An easy breathing exercise is taking a deep breath down to your navel to a slow count of four, holding the breath for a count of four and exhaling slowly to a count of four.

Schedule unstructured time - Set aside some time every week that you do not have any planned activities or goals to accomplish. It is this time that you can putter around the house, take a leisurely stroll, or do anything you enjoy so that you take an emotional and mental break.

Get active - Physical exercise (preferably outdoors) normalizes levels of stress hormones in our bodies and puts more oxygen into your brain. Make plans with your friends and families to go skating or hiking together.

I hope you have a happy and healthy holiday with your friends and families. See you in the New Year!

- Suzanne




Seasonal Allergies

Allergic reactions occur when your immune system becomes overactive and attacks harmless substances such as certain foods or inhaled particles. This reaction is caused by the release of two antibodies, which cause histamine and leukotrienes to be released into your bloodstream, inflaming nasal passaallergies natural remediesges, sinuses, eyelids and producing other symptoms such as sneezing.

You are likely experiencing allergies if you have:

Itching of the nose, eyes or mouth
Runny nose
Sinus congestion, leading to frontal headaches or sinusitis
Coughing or wheezing
Hives or eczema
Dark circles under the eyes
Low energy
Chronic digestive complaints

Seasonal allergies are caused by tree pollens (e.g. oak, elm, maple, alder, birch, juniper, olive) in the spring; grass pollens (e.g. Bermuda, timothy, sweet vernal, orchard, Johnson) and weed pollens (e.g. Russian thistle, English plantain) in the summer; and other weed pollens (e.g. ragweed) in the autumn.

Perennial allergies are caused by year-round exposure to indoor inhaled allergens (e.g. dust mites, cockroaches, animal dander, mould), or by strong reactivity to plant pollens from the previous season.

It is important to realize that food intolerances are entwined with seasonal allergies. By eliminating foods that provoke a mild sensitivity, such as occasional hives or even stomach upset, you can lighten the burden on your immune system, which in turn may help reduce the impact of seasonal allergic reactions.

Diagnosis & Treatment of Allergies

Suzanne offers several tests to determine allergies, and will help you manage your allergies, both seasonal and perennial, using clinical nutrition, supplements, herbal medicine, homeopathy and acupuncture, depending on your symptoms. The following is a brief description of some treatments:

Homeopathic treatment -- Instead of simply addressing physical complaints with drugs, homeopathy uses minute amounts of plants, minerals or animal substances to cure a variety of ailments by promoting inner healing - called the vital force. Remedies are diluted so no side effects occur but healing does.

The more common allergy remedies are Allium cepa (best for watery eyes and lots of clear, acrid nasal discharge), Euphrasia (watery, irritated eyes and dripping nasal discharge), and Sabadilla (sneezing fits with red eyes).

Herbal medicine -- Many studies find that herbal medicines can control allergy symptoms without the traditional side-affects. For example, a group of Swiss researchers showed that just one tablet of European herb butterbur (Petasites hybridus) four times daily was as effective as a popular antihistamine drug in controlling symptoms of hayfever -- without the drowsiness that sometimes occurs.

Nutritional medicine -- In addition to herbs, certain nutrients can be helpful in quieting seasonal symptoms. Among the most popular are grapeseed extract and a flavonoid compound known as quercetin. Although both occur naturally in many foods, when used in supplement form they can be extremely helpful in reducing allergy symptoms when used in conjunction with vitamin C. There is evidence that quercetin may control the release of histamine and other chemicals that help initiate the allergic response.
Hot and spicy foods may also help to clear nasal passages by thinning mucous
secretions. Among the most frequently recommended spices for this purpose are cayenne pepper, hot ginger, and fenugreek, as well as onion and garlic.

Allergies can affect your life profoundly. Suzanne can help you manage them and reduce the symptoms that you are experiencing. Please call her at 416.993.5059 or email her at to book an appointment.

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