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Four Healthy Ways to Kickstart Your February

I am a huge fan of the month of January. For those of you who just raised your eyebrows and HATE winter, my apologies to you. For me, January has always been a great time for self-reflection and self-improvement -- something I'm a big subscriber to. This is a great time of year to reset, tighten up and re-focus our personal goals on all levels.

With January 2015 all wrapped up, how many of you have kept your resolutions to date? Statistically speaking, almost 50 per cent of us have fallen off the resolution wagon by now despite our best intentions. Hopefully you are not one of them -- but if so, do not despair! I've got some backup resolutions that will help anyone reading this.

I am a huge fan of the month of January. For those of you who just raised your eyebrows and HATE winter, my apologies to you. For me, January has always been a great time for self-reflection and self-improvement -- something I'm a big subscriber to. This is a great time of year to reset, tighten up and re-focus our personal goals on all levels.

No matter what goals are important to you, there is one truth in the world: WITHOUT YOUR HEALTH, YOU HAVE NOTHING.

Here are four powerful action steps that can go a LONG way to helping you improve your overall health and achieve your dreams and aspirations in 2015.

1. Ditch the Sugar

While I'm all about enjoying a balanced life, it is very common to lose some of that balance during the holidays. Is anyone's sweet tooth still in hyperdrive since all of those awesome holiday treats? Yes, my hand might be slightly elevated. This makes sense -- sugar has been demonstrated in labs to be 10x more addictive than the notorious street drug, cocaine. Seriously. Refined sugar is a drug. Don't worry about fruits (with the exception of fruit juice), but time to ditch the refined and processed sugars from your diet. You may think this is an impossible task -- but trust me you can do it. You will 'white-knuckle' it for a few days, but almost all of my patients notice a huge improvement with; energy, weight loss, mood, sleep, skin, digestion, joint pain, etc. As a side, cutting sugar out of your diet will slash your risk exponentially of virtually all chronic disease facing us in droves today (i.e. Cancer, Heart disease, Diabetes, Alzheimer's, etc.). This will help you be the absolute best you can be on many levels. Go for it!

2. Gut Check

"All disease begins in the gut." This timeless quote by Hippocrates has never been more prevalent than now. With the pandemic of a variety of chronic illnesses we are facing globally -- leading researchers are spending more and more time focusing on the terrain of our digestive tract and the impact it plays on our health. Did you know that 75-80 per cent of our immune system is in our gut? Further, 70 per cent of our neurotransmitters (chemicals that make us happy, sad, sleep, perform, think, etc. etc.) are made in our gut as well. Many of us are unaware of potential foods and/or pathogens that can irritate our system. Thankfully, through functional medicine diagnostics we are finally able to accurately identify any foods, microbes, toxins, and nutrient deficiencies that are contributing to accelerated aging and degeneration -- thus increasing our risk for a plethora of chronic illnesses common today. There is no 'one size fits all'. Have these areas investigated by your doctor today. Ever seen an iceberg before? What you see on the surface is likely only a fraction of what's going on underneath... It was for me.

3. Get Stress in Check

Yeah, yeah, yeah...Get more sleep, take a holiday, and count to 10 before I scream... Easy breezy, right? Well we might have to review and re-align this model -- because it's not working. Statistically speaking over 90 per cent of ALL doctor appointments are linked to some form of stress. Researchers at Harvard found that there are plausible connections between unmanaged stress and cancer, heart disease, asthma, immune issues, high blood pressure, and gastrointestinal issues. Know anyone with any those? The adrenal glands are the tiny glands that control the release of many stress hormones that in small doses are important for our health, but in chronic doses this is BAD. These often get ignored until you wake up one morning and don't feel like you can get out of bed.

Let's not wait until this happens. There are many nutrients involved with optimal stress management (best to have an intracellular blood test done to determine this), but one that goes a long way -- Magnesium glycinate. Bringing this into your daily regime will serve many functions, including acting as one of nature's best 'chill pills' around. And, oh,10 deep breaths five times per day has been shown to reduce the strain on those adrenal glands significantly. Breathe away...

4. Take out the Trash

Gang, it's time for an overhaul. While the concept of toxicity is not new, the tremendous onslaught we face globally is (relatively speaking) very new. Considering planet earth is approximately 4.54-billion years old, the majority of man-made toxins in our environment have only emerged in the last 150 years. This is mind blowing if you let it sink in for a moment. The cumulative effects of these toxins are very real and very alarming and we have only just begun to understand the deleterious effects of this problem. As always, where there's a problem -- there are solutions.

While I am a big believer of a customized detoxification program, here are three easy things you can do on a daily basis that will help to reduce your toxic burden:

1) Begin your day with a large glass of water with ½ lemon squeezed into it upon waking. Your liver and kidneys will love you for this.

2) Get a sweat on. Physically activity helps your lymphatic system flow optimally, your bowels to move, and increases blood flow to your detox organs -- all of which are essential for optimal detoxification.

3) Increase your green vegetable intake -- simple way to do this is have ½ your plate covered with green veggies at lunch and dinner, no advanced math required! Green veggies are nutrient powerhouses that will provide the fuel for you detoxification pathways. Without these nutrients and the accompanying fibre, trash builds up faster than a garbage truck strike!

Yours in health,

Dr. John Dempster, ND, FAARFM, ABAAHP


In the morning, tune into Swell
Remember the day you discovered Pandora? You plugged in Arcade Fire. Then heard The National. And so on down the indie-fabulous rabbit hole. Now you can have that same exploratory experience, but with podcasts. Talk-radio fans, meet Swell. Swell is a free app that streams content (as short as one minute and up to two hours) from NPR, iTunes, the BBC and more, learning over time what you do and don’t like and making selections accordingly. When you sign up, Swell will start with fairly wide-ranging stuff. We got a 15-minute TED Talk about stress followed by a 17-minute BBC segment on the G20 summit followed by a one-hour This American Life episode about rest stops.
While you’re at work, stream Focus@Will
Did you know that most people can stay focused for only about 20 minutes at a time? And for those of us who live on the Internet, it’s more like a millisecond before... you... must... mustard... Dijon... Beyoncé... Wait, what were we saying? Oh, right. Life is distracting. And here to help is Focus@will, a new music streaming service ($4 per month after 100 free minutes) that’s designed to make you buckle down and concentrate. To get started, plug in your desired work time and preferred musical genre (classical, up tempo, “alpha chill,” etc.). The app will then stream a seamless playlist of focus-ready jams. We tried it for the recommended 100-minute cycle and were completely sold. We found a groove, stayed on task and hardly thought about Beyoncé at all.
Or, channel your energy with Soundrown
Oh, the joys of working from a coffee shop: The aroma of freshly brewed espresso. The sounds of cash registers and tapping keyboards. The wildly caffeinated energy that seems to scream, “This is 1994, and you are totally welcome to borrow my Collective Soul CD!” But in the sober light of 2013, who actually has time to camp out at Starbucks for hours on end? Don’t you kind of just want the coffee-shop vibe without having to go to an actual coffee shop? Well, now your house or office can at least sound like a busy café, thanks to a free new streaming website: Soundrown. Think of Soundrown as the Spotify of background noise. Just click on the channel of your choice and stream the ambient sounds you find most appealing -- say, a chugging train or a trickling fountain (not recommended on a full bladder). Each channel runs for about 30 minutes, and your computer can have other sounds going at the same time.
After work, blow off some steam with TempoRun
Scenario: You spent all day making what you thought to be the ultimate workout playlist. Yet, as soon as you set out on that brisk after-work jog, you realize that Diana Ross is much too fast. And Diddy? Surprisingly slow. Soon, you’re dragging your feet and wasting far too much time hitting “skip.” Don’t let your music drag you down. Instead, turn to the TempoRun app. Here’s how it works: Upon downloading, TempoRun ($3) assesses your phone’s music library and categorizes all your songs into levels: 1 (slow walk; adagio) to 10 (full-out sprint; allegro). Then, using the app’s sleek and easy-to-use interface, you can choose the level to which you’ll be running and Tempo Run seamlessly creates a playlist that perfectly matches your pace.
As you wind down after dinner, relax with
Hey you...giant ball of stress wrapped in a neat little casing of “keeping it all together.” Maybe it’s time to put down the latte, call off the micromanagement and treat yourself to a few moments of genuine relaxation. No, we don’t mean an ashram getaway or tantric drumming class. Thanks to, meditation can be as easy as popping on your headphones For two, 10 or 20 minutes, you’ll be treated to the sounds of forest rains, lapping tides or chirping birds (your choice from a list of blissful surroundings) as the world’s most soothing voice-over actress guides you through a series of breathing and visualization exercises. (Sense your arms becoming heavy… Allow your mind and body to meet in the moment…)
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