Resolutions

Posted January 10th, 2011 in Featured, vegetarian by Hannah Yang

I know, I know, I suck at keeping a blog.  I started out strong, but then I fizzled in the end.  As my brother would say ‘’Strong execution, absolutely no finish’’.  And he’s right.

I apologize for the hiatus over the holidays.  I spent the past few weeks moaning and agonizing over the pros and cons of leaving my boutique-start-up-clinic (I like the way that sounds…) and being swallowed up by some large, corporate multinational behemoth of a spa (I have sold out – please see previous blog here). I have finally decided that stability, at this point in my life (and after the past 28 months of leading somewhat of a rock star existence) was exactly what the naturopath ordered.  With the New Year come new beginnings, and a bunch of resolutions that may or may not work out.  But hopefully, unlike this blog, there will be strong starts and an enduring loyalty to these personal commitments I have made. Here they are in no particular order…

a)    Vegetarianism.  Well, Mostly vegetarianism.  After two weeks in France with my in-laws over the Holiday season eating nothing but Fois Gras, Oysters, Lamb, Filet Mignon, Escargot, and more cheese than you could ever imagine with bottles of wine and champagne to wash all of that down (and believe me, I never thought it could possibly come to this given how much I LOVE all of those things) I swore to myself as I was straining futilely over the toilet for the 2nd day in a row and seeing nothing but pathetic pebbles that rabbits would have scoffed at, that I would eat nothing but salad and pulses for the rest.of.my.life. Then, after arriving home and being confronted by two National Geographic magazines in a heap under our mail slot outlining the long lasting devastation of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill on our ocean’s wildlife (there goes canned tuna…aaaaand every other creature from the sea) and the ongoing destruction of all of our natural resources, I promptly lost my appetite for anything with eyes.  But I am going to be realistic, and nobody knows more than a naturopath about setting reasonable, obtainable goals.  I am not going to turn into one of those raw food vegans (egad – I still want to be invited to summer BBQ’s!) and there is no way that anyone can get in between me and a hamburger on Day 1 of my period, Period.  PLUS I am married to a French man (His response to my ‘’Cheri, I am turning vegetarian’’ was ‘’okay, that sounds great – I will join.  Shall we do lamb tonight?’’).  I am going to allow myself 1 day a month (you know which day!) that I can eat whatever I want from whatever species that roams this earth.  That still leaves 353 days of the year that I am going to make educated, sustainable choices about what I put into my mouth.  And if I make exceptions every now and again (Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving and my birthday) I am not going to beat myself up about it, because once you start placing guilt into your feeding regime, that’s when things go very, very wrong.  At least in my experience. https://www.vegsoc.org/

b)   Gardening.  Living in London is much like living inside a green house that keeps it’s internal sprinklers on 24-7.  It’s green and lush and for the most part, the weather is mild, but it’s very, very wet. Like…always.  When I was living in Toronto, rainy days were the perfect days to stay in your pajamas with a great book and a mug of tea, or a bag of maltesers and a movie, or a lie-in and naked time with your significant other.  If you choose rainy days to do those things here, you will be a fat slob, unemployed or pregnant.  Or all of the above.  In keeping with my ‘’save the Earth’’ rampage that I am on (see a) above) I have decided that tending my own garden will not only help reduce my carbon footprint, but will allow me to enjoy the rainy days as more than an excuse to stay indoors – but a reason to take advantage of the outdoors Without needing a garden hose and a sprinkler!  There are very few opportunities in large urban centres to be in close contact with nature – but as inhabitants of this planet, we cannot truly reach our full potential or thrive physically, mentally and emotionally without constant connection with the earth.  We city dwellers often forget that, and gardening is the perfect solution.  It reduces stress, it gets you outdoors and keeps you (somewhat) active, it is a sustainable activity and you literally do reap what you sow. In your own backyard!  I am no gardening expert (in fact, I am pretty good at killing all my house plants) but a dear friend of mine is an expert and has this lovely gardening blog that I find rather inspirational.  I have even started saving our compost so that we can make our own nutritious topsoil for the spring when I really start to get my hands dirty.  Check It: http://growingpeople.wordpress.com/

And if my garden fails, I’ll just blame it on her.  Or get her to come over and help me turn my thumbs green!

c)    Be Kind.  To everyone, obviously, but more importantly, to myself.  When you are raised in a borderline insane Korean family, being easy on yourself and being kind (at least in the traditional, Western sense of the word) was something that only happened on birthdays and at funerals.  Or if you were lucky enough to win a Nobel prize or get a full scholarship to Harvard (Princeton and Yale are okay – Oxford and Cambridge are too far away).  Something that bought your parents bragging rights to the other members of the Korean community.  Not to say that my family was downright abusive.  It’s just that there were very high expectations – and if my brother and I did not perform to the highest standard (as in, being number 1 in our class, mastering the violin And the piano, bartering for world peace with our autistic mathematical skills – you know…) then we weren’t doing our best.  To them, there is no concept of ‘’damaging the child’s self-esteem’’ with the constant belittling when coming home with an A minus (A-Minus?  Are You Letahded??).  Belittling is what you deserved if you did not live up to the expectation of being the best – since it was tacitly understood that they would not expect so much if they honestly did not believe that we were the Best.  However, what that has ended up doing is to make me become extremely hard on myself when things do not go my way.  As a result, it makes me hard on those close to me – and that just does not help anyone or the situation.  And so I have decided to try to re-wire the harsh critic inside of me that has developed from years of criticism from my parents.  I am going to allow myself the mistakes of being human, because that is what I am.  I won’t insult or blame myself when I make the wrong choice, gain a few pounds, have a messy house or kill the occasional houseplant.  I will be gentle and be kind to the imperfect sides of myself, and in doing so, be more tolerant of everyone else’s.

Selling Out or Selling Up?

Posted January 10th, 2011 in Uncategorized by Hannah Yang

The Jig is up.  I have been grappling with the idea of either becoming a member of the ‘’stable job’’ community and accepting this full time position at this Wellness Centre that is scheduled to launch in April 2011 in central London, or staying with my own burgeoning (albeit small – boutique, let’s call it) clinic which is, like many start-ups, not as stable.  I am sure that many of you have been in this position before, whether it has been in the form of a career change or relationship break up – where one now has to decide which path to take?  When you are at the proverbial Fork In the Road, how simple is it really to listen to one’s gut and know, like Really Know in the ‘’my heart is telling me that this is the way because I had a dream last night and I woke up just knowing’’ way of knowing and make the right decision for you at that point in your life?

It’s not that simple.  In fact, it’s never really that simple.  I do agree that one does have to pay attention to their heart and their gut, the two largest emotional centres of the body, but one also has to create the appropriate connection between them and the head.  And I feel that for the majority, it’s either over-thinking and making a decision based on what they feel is logical and is expected of them (the head) or they jump in eyes wide shut without any thought to the consequences (the heart – Me).  The highway between those extremes is often closed to traffic and a decision is made that causes a pattern to be repeated in one’s life – either through being too cautious and worrying about how one will look to other people, or not being thoughtful enough and needing someone to bail you out when the fit hits the shan (again…me).  Either way, you end up unhappy.

So that was my conundrum – accept this job and give up everything that I had worked so hard to obtain on my own terms, or turn it down and continue to see where things go as they are?  Opportunity versus Freedom?  But is the stable job really forcing me to give up my independence or would it actually provide me with more options in the end?  Is working for myself really as liberating as I made it out to be given that my salary could be amazing one month and panic inducing the next?   Is this a test to see how devoted I was to my clinic or is this the Universe’s way of letting me know that my hard work had paid off and I am now being recognized for it?

Well, dear Readers and Clients, here it is.  I have accepted the job and I am choosing to see it as an amazing opportunity.  I have listened to both my head and my heart and after 8 lists of pros and cons and several conversations with each and every single one of my confidantes and respected colleagues, a month of sleepless nights and a renewed passion for journal-writing, I am going to be embarking on a new and exciting journey.  My own clinic will be put on hold indefinitely starting February 1st 2011, but I will be transferring my current clients, if they choose to stay with me, to my new location in Trafalgar Square starting April 2011.

Will keep you updated with details as they arise.

Happy New Year, everyone.

It Gets Better

Posted November 9th, 2010 in Homosexuality, It Gets Better, LGBT, Love by Hannah Yang

The recent media attention in the USA surrounding the suicides of young gay boys who were being bullied about their homosexuality has made me feel as though I should at least take the time to write about something that affects all of us in every part of the world, not just in North America.

Being a self-proclaimed Fruit Fly (sounds much better than Fag Hag…I am NO Hag, ladies and gentlemen..) it angers me that I have to write this.  But more than the rage, the dominant emotion I feel is sadness.  Sad that in this day and age, people still have a problem with someone else’s sexuality.  Sad that it has taken several tragic deaths in order for this to galvanize a semi-global movement for equality.  Sad that this has been cited as a ‘recent pattern’ amongst Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered youth when in fact, statistics show that the rates of suicide amongst the LGBT community has Always been like this.  Sad that people’s children are bullying other people’s children to suicidal limits.  Sad that these children were not born with this sort of hatred towards LGBT individuals, but that they were Taught this intolerance in their own homes by their parents.  Children being Taught to Hate other children.

On the other hand, it’s encouraging to see how well the It Gets Better Project is being received.  Obama’s speech, although a bit flat and lacking the passion that I feel is needed by an issue as contentious as this one, came from a very good place – a place of tolerance, acceptance and Love.  And on some small scale, I hope that by writing my opinion, by showing my support of individuality, strength and Universal Love, this message will continue to be perpetuated.  To all my Gay and Lesbian brothers and sisters, thank you for inspiring me to live and love with fearlessness and with honesty.  And for having excellent fashion sense and a superhero tolerance for vodka martinis (extra olives…we like them D.I.R.T.Y).

Love.   A simple, universal emotion made intensely complicated by the stereotypical images we have attached so rigidly to that word.  A concept that excludes no one – everyone has been a giver and receiver of it, fallen victim to it’s thorns when denied it, been addicted to it, rejected it, praised it and scorned it and everyone undeniably Needs it.  For something that has no limits, no bounds, can never be drained to extinction, it is most definitely treated as though it is a nonrenewable resource, especially nowadays.  To be in the LGBT community is to have to be brave in order to Love.  To LOVE someone else.  And to be intolerant to the LGBT community is to say that you do not support Love in all it’s forms. In a world where true compassion and love is severely lacking between human beings, how dare we have the audacity to pick and choose what we deem to be the ‘’right type of Love.’’

I believe the late, great Bob Marley said it best.

Sickness Blues

Posted October 26th, 2010 in Naturopathy, cold and flu, home remedies, homeopathy by Hannah Yang

I am a really really bad sick person.  I know that most of the time, we women have the pleasure of condescending to our male counterparts when it comes to being able to ‘’suck it up and take it’’ when inflicted with some sort of flu or cold virus.  We place cool caring hands on hot feverish foreheads and make chicken soup from scratch and bring our (lame) boyfriends/partners juice and rent DVD’s when they are feeling sick while inwardly rolling our eyes at the male body’s absolute inability to deal with even the smallest of sniffles without looking for someone to mother them.  Oh…shove a tit in it! I want to say at times when a large, hairy, mouth-breathing, congested crybaby asks for a belly rub.  And then….I hate to admit it, but shamefully, I join the ranks of these young soldiers in the sickness trenches.  I am a freaking whiny baby when I have a cold too.

Everything just seems Wrong in the world when your body is too weak to perform simple tasks without having it scream out against you, like eating, or going to the toilet.  The imbalance that one feels – like when one nostril is completely blocked and the other one is so clear that every inhalation feels like knives whizzing past your sinuses?  I am in awe of my friends who are able to go to work with a runny nose and a rattling chesty cough and a mild fever.  Why?  Why put yourself through that sort of torture?  Why Be A Hero?

Being a Naturopath, I feel I have a bit more leeway with my sick days and how easily I can cave when it comes to cancelling patients and staying home.  I cancelled my patients yesterday a) to avoid leaving the house and the warm confines of my husband’s track pants and b) because it’s just intelligent PR.  Who wants to see a dripping, nasally, sneezy, wheezy naturopath?  It’s like signing up with a fat fitness trainer.

I feel that in our society, one is made far too guilty for calling in sick.  I know that sometimes in life you just do not have the luxury of being able to lie in bed all day, not with deadlines and projects and bills to pay – I get it.  But sometimes that one day you spend in bed with a pot of herbal tea and the latest season of Mad Men will bring your healing time from a dragged out miserable (and not so productive) 2 weeks down to a 4-day recovery slot.  Sometimes it IS just worth it to do yourself a favour.

But how about those times where you cannot afford to miss work?  Well, make sure you have these things in your medicine cupboard at all times – powdered Vitamin C (Metagenics Ultra Potency-C Powder – 1000mg per quarter teaspoon – it’s potent stuff), a good quality Zinc (Biocare – 30 mg capsules), a good probiotic (BioKult – www.bio-kult.com) and tons of raw ginger, good honey (manuka if you can afford it) and lemon (organic, preferably).  What do you do with all of this?  At the ONSET of the sniffles, take about 4000mg of vitamin C – this potent antioxidant will help boost your immunity and clear out any toxins.  Then every hour, take another 1000mg until you start getting the farts (oh beware these farts – they WILL clear a room) or loose stools.  Then you stop.  Throughout the day make a HUGE pot of Lemon/Ginger/Honey infusion and drink as much as you want.  Lemon supports your liver to flush out the toxins, ginger is good for your lungs and is warming and honey (especially Manuka) is nature’s antibiotic and will help fight off whatever has invaded your body and made you feel like a heaping pile of steamy poo.  Keep hydrated, so drink lots of water too.  Take 2 capsules of the probiotics at every meal to help your immunity as 80% of your immune system is along your gut and without probiotics, no immunity.  Before you go to bed, take 60 mg of Zinc – another immune booster and cell-healer.  In the morning, you should feel about 60% – 100% better (depending on how early you started this regime) – enough to be able to make it through a day of work.  If you catch it early enough, botanical treatments such as Echinacea purpura or Red Korean Ginseng can give your immune system the boost it needs to fight it off before it turns you into a zombie.  Aconite 30CH homeopathically can also help – but only if caught at the Very Beginning – like when you start feeling like you’re About to turn into a blood-sucking zombie.

In the meantime, learn to listen to your body before it breaks down on you.  If you’re getting sick more than twice a year, or if it’s taking you more than a week to get over something, it’s probably high time that you change something in your life to support your immune system.  You can start by going to see your friendly neighbourhood Naturopath.

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.

This Too Shall Pass

Posted September 14th, 2010 in meditation by Hannah Yang

Feeling slightly depressed at the moment. Not quite sure what is bringing on this feeling of emotional malaise. Everything in my life is amazing. I have an unbelievably sexy husband who lives life with the kind of fearlessness that makes me believe that everything will always be all right, I live in one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world, I am surrounded by kind-hearted and interesting friends and I would say that I am fortunate enough to laugh on an hourly basis. The Full Moon is not for another few days, so I know it’s a bit too early for me to be feeling the pre-menstrual blah’s. Perhaps it’s not about looking for a reason for why someone as privileged as I am should not (or is not allowed to) be feeling this way. Perhaps it’s just about accepting that sometimes, you can have one of those days, and that’s okay. I find that way too many of us are avoidant of our bad emotions and more than happy to find the next quick fix to the good ones, no matter how temporary (and they are always temporary) they can be. Which often leads to unhealthy patterns of seeking instant gratification, whether it be retail therapy or a martini. The most valuable lesson I learned while I was traveling through India in 2008 was that everything is temporary. It was during a Vipassana meditation course that I embarked upon in Dharamsala – ten days of complete silence (if you don’t count the screaming voice in your head desperately looking for ways to either drive you insane or get yourself out of the prison grounds) and meditation and self-reflection. And everyday I was reminded in every evening lesson that all things come to pass. At first I found those words irritating, like being told ‘’I told you so’’ by someone who always seems to know better.

But WHEN is the pain in my leg from sitting in the same position for the past 4 hours going to pass? And when am I going to get over the anger I feel towards my past relationships, past decisions, past past past past…

anichaaaa anichaaa… all things are temporary…

AHHHHHHHHHH!!!!

And now, here I am, 2 years later – in an emotional place worlds away from where I started when I first moved to London. And the one thing that got me through was knowing and believing that This Would Pass.

So, I guess tomorrow will be a new day. And if I’m in a better mood, then great – and if not, that’s okay, because it won’t last forever. It can’t rain all the time. In the meantime… chocolate.

Organic vs. Biodynamic

Posted August 12th, 2010 in Organic by Hannah Yang

Today is Day Two of my vacation in France with my gorgeous husband and what is the first thing that I do after a luxurious lie in? I log into my blog and start typing. I guess the fresh air and biodynamic food (and, erm, wine) has not done much to melt away the London pace from my weary bones, but I do not think I will need much coaxing away from my laptop over the next few weeks. I have found out that we are going to be visiting his parents (I must preface any reference to his parents with this fact – they are Absolutely lovely) for a couple of days in their house in the woods for some dinner and wine. His parents’ English vocabulary consists of ‘’hello’’ and ‘’thank you.’’ My French lexicon is pretty much limited to food, wine, bodily functions and swear words. Did I mention that we are going to be in the middle of the woods, far away from civilization (and escape)? I did, however, bring this upon myself. I boldly told my husband a few days before our month long escape to France that while we are in France, we are to speak nothing but French. Ha! Only a day into my vacation and I’m being thrown into the deep end. Français Lesson avec Les Parents-in-Law. I’ll keep you posted.

The silver lining in this will be his father’s impeccable taste in French Biodynamic wine. Ah wine… the Elixir of Life, Liquid Courage and whatever other titles of invincibility it has been bestowed with. I lose any and all inhibition when attempting to speak my horrible French when I drink wine and I will inevitably ramble on and on in broken French while inwardly congratulating myself for being so clever and already bilingual only two days into my vacation in France. And the beauty of the Biodynamic part of it all? No Hangovers. For Serious.

So… what is the difference between Organic and Biodynamic? Well, from the reading that I have been doing, it seems that Biodynamic Agriculture has predated Organic methods by a few decades and is much more stringent in its rules and regulations in terms of maintaining soil integrity without chemicals, encouraging a completely self-sustainable/self-contained ecosystem balancing harvesting and growth with processes such as crop rotation, specific fermentation in their manure to act as fertilizer and harvesting in accordance to the Lunar cycle. The term ‘’Organic’’ was coined by J I Rodale and it is more of an Americanized term whereas Biodynamic farming was based on Rudolf Steiner’s approach to the farm and the earth’s relationship and thus it is much more popular in Europe. What do I think? Regardless of whether something has been labeled Organic or Biodynamic, make sure that it’s up to a standard that is regulated properly.Organicconsumers.org is a great site that helps you to understand labels and regulation. Biodynamic.com is another good resource. At the end of the day, the food industry is one that thrives on making money and labeling is under policed (or self-policed) and not necessarily to be trusted at first glance. For more eye-opening facts, watch Food Inc. and be thoroughly appalled. Pour yourself a large glass of biodynamic wine while watching it – you’ll need it.

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.

Healthy Hormone

Posted August 5th, 2010 in Female and Hormone Balancing by admin

Went to see the much anticipated Sex and the City 2 movie this summer with my “Goils’’ which consisted of one legitimately female friend and 3 of my main Gays.  Two words.   Train Wreck.  Not only was the wardrobe completely disappointing, (which let’s be honest, is 90% of the draw.  Nobody watches this for the writing) but the characters all came across as whiny, spoily, overly-American prats! Half the movie takes place in the Middle East – the colours, the desert, the scenery – there was so much to work with, so much potential!  I was picturing Missoni-esque colours mixed with flowing veil-like fabrics done tastefully, not like the garish carnival depicted on the big screen in HD.  And I knew that Samantha Jones’ character was over-the-top, but that was what made her funny.  In this movie, she became…trashy?  Samantha rubbing estrogen cream on her punany in the office (which had glass walls, by the way)? Samantha rubbing mashed yams on her punany?  Samantha rubbing everything and anything on her punany? Really?  REALLY???

YamsSpeaking of yam-rubbing on the nether-regions, there is something to be said with phyto-estrogenic foods and their balancing affect on the endocrine system in women.  Wild Yam, Black Cohosh, Soy – these are all effective natural substances that help balance out the female endocrine system.  And this is not to say that these are sure-fire treatments.  The key here, ladies, is prevention.  We all know how emotionally intense things can become before each monthly menstrual cycle – but it’s almost as if the body is giving its final reproductive swan song once menopause hits, and if you haven’t done all the legwork with healthy eating, exercising and emotional cleansing by the time perimenopause hits, you’re in for quite a roller coaster ride of hot flashes and vaginal dryness.

What can one do to maintain the appropriate hormone balance? Be good to your liver. Exfoliate your skin on a regular basis. Detoxify through exercise, drink at least 2L of water a day and eat plenty of dark green leafy vegetables.  Juice as much as you can.  Consume soy in its cultural context (fermented forms such as miso and tempeh) not as a vegetarian burger option.  Stay away from plastic as much as you can.  And most importantly, do not ignore the emotional messages your body throws at you premenstrually – these are signs that there are things that need to be dealt with.  I highly recommend reading Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom by Christiane Northrup, MD.