Transitional Torment

Posted October 11th, 2010 in Nutrition, Organic, Organic Box Delivery by Hannah Yang

As a Naturopathic Physician, one of my favourite things to ask my patients to do when I need for them to quantify certain things, like stress levels or pain intensity, is to put it on a scale of 0 – 10, ten being the highest intensity.  If I were to put ‘’Moving’’ on that scale, it would definitely be about a 0 for enjoyment.  I think that packing up your life, moving large awkward pieces of furniture, twisting one’s body to contort around narrow staircases and sharp corners in order to squish your futon frame into your new home or discovering that the vinyl’s that belong to your husband that once brought you great joy are WAY too heavy to lift more than 25 at a time and thus making you (temporarily) curse the day Marvin Gaye was born (and the birth of disco, jazz, reggae…well, music, really) is about as enjoyable as violent diarrhea on a 10 hour bus ride in a third world country.  It gives me the sweats.  And not in a good way.

We have just moved into our new flat in East London.  It’s a gorgeous flat, with high ceilings, steps away from adorable boutiques and vintage stores, organic markets and great Thai food, and with just enough council housing and gang-related violence to feel a little more ‘’Real’’ here in the east end.  But the amount of time After moving in that passes before you are actually Formally Moved In still astounds me.  And we are nowhere near Formally Moved In.  You know how excited you get when you move into a space that has that extra room?  The very room that you and your partner giggle with glee about when dreaming up all the possibilities it holds?  Yah, you know that room – the ‘’it could be the office’’ or ‘’think about the number of guests we can finally have’’ or ‘’the hobby room’’ or ‘’music room’’ and all it ends up being for about a year after you’ve moved in is Storage?  The “we don’t know what to do with this shit so let’s put it in here and deal with it later’’ room?  It is almost as if having that extra room gives one permission to hold onto the stuff that is not needed anymore.  In fact, that is probably the one thing about moving that I CAN appreciate – the downsizing and throwing stuff out/giving it to charity part of it.  There is nothing more satisfying (at least to me) than filling garbage bags full of things that you no longer need and then donating them to Oxfam or any other local charity shop.

So, what can one do in order to deal with the torment of being in transition?  I could get all metaphysical on you and say be in the moment, live in the now, let go of your worries, appreciate what is here – but NONE of those things are remotely possible for me if I’m covered in sweat and dust and surrounded by boxes.  But what I CAN recommend is to give yourself a reward at the end of it in the form of an alcoholic beverage and a wholesome meal.  And what better way to get yourself settled into a new home than to have a fridge full of wholesome, organic produce that is delivered straight to your front door!!  Abel and Cole and Riverford Organics are just two of the many organics box delivery services there are available in and around London.  There are also organics produce pick up schemes in many of the boroughs in London where everything is grown locally.  Growing Communities in Hackney and Islington is one that is well organized and also has a farmer’s market in Stoke Newington on weekends.  Eating a home cooked meal is probably one of the only ways I can feel some semblance of normalcy and routine when I’m in transition.  Oh…and shoes.

Dysplasia Distress

Posted October 4th, 2010 in Female Health, Female and Hormone Balancing, Gynecology, Nutrition by Hannah Yang

I am obsessed with my vagina. This statement may come as a shock to you, the reader, potential client and/or fan, but for those who know and love me, this is pretty much my M.O. After receiving a letter from the NHS telling me that my last smear showed some ‘mild abnormalities’ and to come back in for another smear, I cannot help but be constantly thinking of what’s going down (even more than usual) in the dark confines of my ‘love box’. Or, as the French so eloquently call it….La Chatte. Meow.

Why do we put ourselves through the discomfort of allowing a person who is not your lover (or might be, but that’s none of my business) look deep into the confines of your kitty kat? Two words. Cervical Dysplasia. This is something that approximately 12 out of 20 women experience here in the United Kingdom. It means that there are some abnormal cells in your cervix that should be monitered and may, if left untreated, lead to something more serious. And yet, they still only allow women to have smear tests done once every three years. Where I came from (Toronto, Canada, to be exact) one had the privilege of marching into their GP’s office and being treated like a finger puppet once a year. And not from the age of 25, like it is here in Londinium, but from the age of 18…or from the age you first had sexual intercourse – whichever came first. Ladies, get a smear test done every year. Pay for it privately if you have to. You only have one La Chatte. And she’s high maintenance and will serve you (very) well if you are good to her.

So, what am I going to do to treat this dyskaryosis (dysplasia is the term used in Canada and the USA) you ask? I am pulling out ALL of my naturopathic tricks, nutritionally, supplementally AND emotionally. Alongside my supplemental regime, I have recruited a juicer, significantly cut down the wheat and dairy in my diet, cut down my alcohol consumption (we naturopaths are functioning alcoholics….or potheads…take your pick. Usually both..) and am also looking into the emotional events in my life that probably contributed to the current state of my cervix. Being stranded in a foreign country while going through a divorce was not one of the highlights of my life (although it definitely made me a much stronger and more grounded individual). Many of the issues surrounding my previous marriage, my relationship with my family, my running away to London, my relationship with ME definitely involved my 2nd Chakra (www.myss.com). For those of you ladies out there who have been in the same situation as I find myself, and for all of you fellow females in the world who may find yourself here at some point in the future, remember to know thyself. Healing doesn’t just come from what you eat and how you treat your body physically, although that does play a large part. How you treat yourself emotionally plays an integral role in our physical health – much more than we all would like to admit. Love yourself. Respect yourself. Honour yourself and others with whom you have relationships, casual or intimate. Most importantly, be honest with yourself. Be prepared to examine all the parts of you, your shadow sides, with scrutiny, with humility and with Love. Only once you have faced your weaknesses can you know them – and only when you know them can you learn from them and grow. This dysplasia is simply sending me a message that it’s time to take a closer look at the role I played in the past two years of my life, and come to terms with it. Watch This Space.

To D3 or Not D3?… That is the Question…

Posted August 5th, 2010 in Nutrition by admin

When you’re in London, in the middle of summer, forget your images of sun, patios and lemonade in a jug.  It’s grey skies, cool breezes and an hourly sprinkle.  Flashback to my youth, with Shannon Hoon’s raspy voice crooning ‘’…and all I can do is just pour some tea for two… and speak my point of view but it’s not saaane… it’s not saaaaaaaayaaane…’’ words from the very single that made them famous before his untimely demise on some bus somewhere, choking on his own vomit.  Oh, to be a rockstar… But I digress.  No Rain?  Yes Rain.  At least everything’s green.

Which brings me to a question that many of my patients, especially here on the island of perpetual rain, ask of me, and that is… am I Vitamin D3 deficient?  And… if I travel to southern Spain for a week to get my sun fix, am I okay for the rest of the year?

Answer – Non.  Absolutement Non.  Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) of Vitamin D3 here in the UK is 400IU, however your body absorbs 10,000IU within 20 minutes (40 minutes for those who have darker skin tones) of exposure to the appropriate wavelength of sunlight (which theoretically happens in London between the months of April and October… but how many sunny days do we actually have here?) which would lead one to believe that 400IU is hardly sufficient enough.  Can you store Vitamin D3?  Only for about a week or two at the most.  So, that lovely all-inclusive summer vacation on Cote d’Azur?  The sun-dependent good mood hormones that the Vitamin D3 gave you will disappear with that tan.

This means that it isn’t surprising when we find out that more than half of UK residents are deficient in Vitamin D3.  Not to mention other risk factors for deficiency, such as poor diet, obesity, institutionalization and overuse of sunscreen, all of which first world countries seem to have in spades.  According to the British Medican Journal, cardiovascular disease, Type 2 Diabetes, cancers and autoimmune disorders have been strongly linked with lack of Vitamin D3.  Vitamin D3’s relationship with calcium absorption in the bones is the most obvious, rickets being a severe form of vitamin D3 deficiency.  With an aging population, Vitamin D3 and bone health should be one of the main priorities in preventative health care.

So, the short and the long of it?  Take Vitamin D3 supplements during the winter months, at least 4000IU per day with meals.  Nutri has just come out with a liquid form of this sunshine vitamin, each drop being 1000IU.  Strawberry flavoured.  Yum.  And you’ll avoid being one of those ashen-faced depressed Londoners on the Central Line in the winter.