spring newsletter 2010

Spring seems to have arrived early this year! The sun and warm weather are lifting people’s spirits and giving people a chance to spend more time outdoors.

But it’s not summer yet! This is actually a common time for colds and a second wave of flu. So, head out with light layers and a light scarf (Traditional Chinese Medicine points to the back of the neck as a vulnerable spot to external “pathogens”), and don’t forget to keep up the immune-boosting habits you practiced in the winter.

This winter was unusually mild, so we may also be in for an earlier and more severe allergy season. Early spring is the right time to do some preventative work for seasonal allergies. In this newsletter, find out more about our Spring Detox Program – a great way to minimize allergies, get a start on weight loss, or improve your energy and digestion. Whatever your health and wellness goals, we look forward to seeing you at Body of Knowledge this spring!

In this issue, you will find:



March is National Nutrition Month, and marks a time when we can make more conscious choices about what and how we eat. It’s a great time to learn more about healthy nutrition and about how it significantly impacts our physical, mental and emotional health. Check out this month’s article – You Are What You Eat for some literal and figurative food for thought! Or, consider having an expert analysis of your current nutritional status, with advice on how to improve your diet, and a detailed and customized meal plan with tips and recipes, by calling the clinic to book a nutritional consultation with Naturopathic Doctor, trained chef and Registered Nutritionist – Jennifer Baer: 416-783-1800.


A detox is like an oil change for your body! This spring, take our 4-Week Detox Challenge. A medically supervised program unlike anything you will find on the health food store shelf; our Spring Detox Program will guide you through safe and effective options to support the organs of elimination and detoxification. A cleanse can minimize allergies and sensitivities, improve digestion, clear and brighten the complexion, deepen our consciousness and commitment to a healthy lifestyle and act as a jump start for weight loss or dietary change. Read more about detox in this month’s article – The Spring Detox.

The program is on offer from April 20th through May 30th, and can be done as individual one-on-one sessions or in a group setting. Related products will be on sale for 20% off during this period – or purchase a detox kit (3 unda numbers, 1 castor oil pack, 1 custom 100ML herbal tincture and 1 package of Change of Season Soup) for $90 + gst (a 22% savings!).

Indigo Yorkdale, Tuesday April 20th 12:00 pm

Two 30-minute sessions (scheduled at your convenience) with one of our Naturopathic Doctors to guide you through a 4-week program and customized detox plan and diet. Cost: $120

Three 60-minute sessions, each with a 30-minute lecture and handout to guide you through the 4-week plan, and 30 minutes for group discussion and support.Cost $90 per person
Session dates: Tuesdays 6-7 pm; April 27, May 11 & May 25.
A second group may be added on Saturdays with enough interest.


Jaty Tam, ND, will be facilitating a workshop on menstruation at the iconic Toronto women’s sexuality store, Good For Her. Share experiences with other women as we will dispel the myths that stand in the way of fully connecting with our womanhood. Learn techniques for reducing pain and PMS, regulating your period, and reconnecting with your body. Discover alternative menstrual products that are safer for you and the environment.

When: Wednesday April 28, 2010; 7:00 to 9:30 pm
Where: 175 Harbord Street
Workshops must be pre-paid in-store or online. We suggest registering early as many workshops sell out. www.goodforher.com/healing_menstruation


Just a reminder that Jennifer Baer will be away from the clinic April 2nd through April 15th. Please call the clinic to book an appointment before or after these dates. If you need assistance while she is away, please feel free to call Dr. Jaty Tam at the clinic: 416-783-1800.


Interested in learning more about Naturopathic Medicine and how it will help you to attain optimal wellness? Want to know more about our Programs (Spring Detox, Heart Health, Weight Loss)? Call the clinic for your free 15-minute consultation with one of our Naturopathic Doctors. Consults can be done in person or over the phone. Book yours today: 416-783-1800!

*Please note that this service does not include assessment, diagnosis or treatment. It is an opportunity to learn if Naturopathic Medicine is right for you and if you’d like to work with one of our doctors.

The Spring Detox: An Oil Change for Your Body

Jaty Tam, ND

Spring is a time of rebirth, renewal, and rejuvenation.  It’s a time when we start to enjoy the outdoors again, get more active, and do some spring cleaning.  As the weather turns warm and we come out of our winter hibernation, not only is this a time to clean our homes, but also a good time to cleanse our bodies and minds.

Over the next few months of spring, you may walk into a health food store and see products on the shelves promoting spring cleanse or detox programs.  What are these detox programs and how does one navigate through this sea of products?

Toxins aren’t a new development.  We are exposed to toxins all the time; through food, the environment, and even within our own bodies.  We constantly create waste products that can be toxic and need to be neutralized and eliminated.

The term “detoxification” describes a process where toxins are neutralized and eliminated from the bodyToxins disrupt normal function of the body by entering cells and displacing essential minerals which can disrupt cell function and cause damage to cells and blood vessels. Since these toxins move in the blood, they can reach all cells and organs systems, including the brain, and thus, can cause a host of problems that affect our health on many different levels.

To maintain balance, the body has a self-detoxification process, which involves mainly the liver, but also the skin, spleen, lymphatics, kidneys, digestive tract and lungs.  In our modern day world, we are increasingly subject to larger and larger amounts of toxic compounds in our daily lives, and while the body has these built in detoxification pathways, they are subject to a much greater burden than ever before in human history. Through high exposure, the body’s detoxification and elimination systems can get “backed up”.  Toxins that can’t be eliminated immediately are stored in fat cells and joint cavities, and the organs of detoxification and elimination themselves can get damaged, decreasing their capacity to do their jobs effectively.

A “cleanse” or “detox program”, when administered appropriately,  helps the organs of detoxification and elimination to heal and repair, and to catch up on clearing accumulated toxins from the body.  As a Naturopathic Doctors, we don’t subscribe to trendy products or extreme diets.  A cleanse or detox program should be integrated into our daily lives with healthy dietary and lifestyle choices.

Many of the products on the market contain a variety of antimicrobial herbs, liver supporting herbs, and laxatives.  It is always prudent to consult a health practitioner before you embark on any type of over-the-counter medication (pharmaceutical or “natural”) to make sure it’s right for you.  The components of these products may interact with existing medication(s) you are on, may cause side effects, or may worsen health concerns you are experiencing.  A Naturopathic Doctor can customize a detox program to:  focus on dietary and lifestyle changes that minimize exposure to toxins, provide safe and appropriate herbs, homeopathic preparations or nutritional supplements which support the body’s ability to neutralize and eliminate toxins, and take into account your unique needs.

A safe and individualized detoxification program under the guidance of a Naturopathic Doctor is generally well-tolerated and beneficial. There is no “typical” response, as individuals’ experiences will vary, according to personal biochemistry, physiology, and previous dietary & lifestyle habits.  Many people report increased energy and alertness, decrease in muscle or joint pain, improved digestion and sleep, reduction in allergies, or an overall sense of well-being.  Much like a tune-up for your car, a spring detox program can help make sure your body is in good working condition by cleaning out waste and ensuring the organs are working properly, which will help to prevent disease and keep your body healthy for the future.

For more information on the Group Spring Detox Program, or the individualized one-on-one Spring Detox Program, please see the Announcements section of the newsletter or call us: 416-783-1800.

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You Are What You Eat: A meditation on literal & figurative meanings
In honour of National Nutrition Month

Jennifer Baer, ND

“Nutrition” has been defined as: “the organic process of nourishing or being nourished (by food)”, and “the provision, to cells and organisms, of the materials necessary to support life”. I would add: nutrition is the mechanical and chemical process of digesting, absorbing and making available for use, energy and nutrients necessary to sustain life (and health), from food. Would it be fair, then, to say that we are what we eat?

This idiom has its origins in the 1826 work: Physiologie du Gout (The Physiology of Taste) by lawyer-politician turned gastronome Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, who writes: “Dis-moi ce que tu manges, je te dirai ce que tu es.” (Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are). Others cite 1860’s German philosopher Feuerbach’s: “Der Mensch ist, was er ißt.” (The punny: Man is what he eats/Man eats what he is).

The English phrase, as we have come to know it, became popularized by doctor and nutritionist Victor Lindlahr, who in 1942 published You Are What You Eat: how to win and keep health with diet. (Side note: Victor was the son of Dr Henry Lindlahr, considered one of the fathers of Naturopathy in North America.)

Regardless of origin, the meaning was not literal – but pointed to the idea that what you eat affects your state of mind and health. In some instances the meaning was more political; highlighting differences in diet according to socio-economics.

More recently, author, Michael Pollan, illustrates in his illuminating book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, that we have, in fact, literally become what we eat. And what we eat, apparently, is a lot of corn.

The ancient Mayans and their descendants used to refer to themselves as “the corn people” or “corn walking”, owing to their reliance on corn as the staple food they held sacred. Even now, about 40% of a Mexican’s caloric intake purportedly comes from corn, while North Americans favour wheat as a dietary staple. And yet, if the Mexican calls himself “corn walking”, Pollan asserts, North Americans could be called “processed corn walking”. In light of corn’s unique chemical make-up and technological advances, scientists can identify just how much of the carbon in our tissues comes from it. And, it turns out, North Americans are significantly “cornier” than Mexicans.

To what do we owe this shift in our composition?

Surplus. American. Corn.

So much corn, in fact, that we’ve had to create a whole industrial food industry (not to mention petrochemical industry) to support it. Virtually all processed food is made from fractions (re-imagined by-products) of industrial grade surplus corn (or soy) – that wouldn’t be deemed fit for human consumption as its corn-self. A full 60% of this surplus corn goes towards feeding livestock – formerly grass-eating cattle, chief amongst them. And, as Pollan points out, you aren’t only what you eat, but what you eat, eats too. (Side note: Recent studies have demonstrated that grass-finished beef has a much higher ratio of Omega 3: Omega 6 fatty acids relative to it’s corn-fed counterpart. The health & nutrition implications of this may be far-reaching.)

And we can’t stop there! The ingredient list of a typical processed food reads like a veritable corn-ucopia: hydrogenated fat, lecithin, corn meal, MSG, citric and lactic acid, glucose, fructose, maltodextrin, sorbitol, mannitol, xanthan gum, dextrins, modified and unmodified starches, ethanol (both alcoholic and fuel), viscosity control agents, vegetable oil, margerine, shortening, and the ubiquitous HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) are all derived from industrial corn.

If we are what we eat (figuratively and literally), and what we eat, eats, shouldn’t we spend a little more time thinking about the quality of the food we consume? We have a seemingly insatiable obsession with the type and quantity of food we eat, and an aesthetically-driven culture that values thinness above fitness and health. And yet, in the past decade, nearly 50% of the adult population is either overweight or obese. We must re-examine our values, and find a new, more holistic way of looking at food, if we are to overcome the chronic diseases of our time.

March is National Nutrition Month, April 24th is International Earth Day, and the 1st week of May is National Naturopathic Medicine Week. In honour of these three events, I entreat you to spend a little bit of time this next month or so considering the following:

  • Where does the food I eat come from, and how was it grown or raised?
  • How did it get to my local supermarket?
  • What options do I have to include organic, seasonal, local and sustainable foods in my diet?
  • How does the quality of the food I eat affect my health? The environment?
  • How can I become more educated about the food choices I make and the local resources available to me?

For guidance and resources on any of these topics, please check out the links on our website, or consider a nutritional consultation.

In the same spirit, we are offering a Spring Detox Program at the clinic April 20th – May 29th. The program is an opportunity to become more mindful of the choices you are making with regards to diet and lifestyle, and of the interactions between our food, our environment, and our health. The program differs from a kit you might purchase at a health food store (which may not be right for you), in that it is medically supervised, and focuses on dietary and lifestyle changes that are safe, effective and sustainable.

Pollan, Michael, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Penguin Books, 2006.

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Oil Your Hinges:
Exercise at Your Desk for Better Posture

Kathleen Trotter

Sitting at a desk all day can cause numerous postural problems including rounding in the upper back, tightness in the chest, arm bones that sit too far forward in the shoulder socket, forward head position, and wrist and elbow pain and/or weakness.

In the last few years, people have become more aware of the negative relationship between poor posture, lack of core strength and back pain. I consistently get told by new clients that they want to improve their posture when they sit at their desk. They want to learn to use their core and upper back muscles properly so they don’t slouch.

People don’t realize that sitting at a desk and working on a computer all day does not just affect the upper back and core. Postural problems are all interconnected. Sitting at a desk and working on a computer for long amounts of time can have huge negative effects on the wrist, hand and elbow. Don’t wait until injury occurs. Try incorporating some of the exercises below into your daily routine. They can all be done at your desk every hour or two.

Exercises for the Wrists and Hands
Take a break from typing once an hour and spend 2 minutes going through the wrist and hand exercises. Moving your wrist and hands in all directions will promote blood flow and increase neurological awareness to that body part. If as you type your wrist sits higher then your fingers, focus more on the extension exercises. If as you type your wrists sits bellow your fingers, focus on the flexion exercises.

Starting position for all exercises: bend your both arms to 90 degrees at the elbows, with your forearms parallel to the floor. Through all the exercises try to limit the motion of the forearm, upper arm and elbow. Make the motion only from the wrist.

  1. Wrist flexion: starting in the above position have your palms facing up. To perform the exercise hinge at the wrist to bring your palms and fingers towards you. Try not to bend the fingers. Only break at the wrist. Repeat 10-20 times.
  2. Wrist extension: starting in the above position have your palms facing down. To perform the exercise hinge at the wrist to bring the top of your hands and fingers towards you. Try not to bend the fingers. Only break at the wrist. Repeat 10-20 times.
  3. Radial deviation: starting in the above position have your palm facing up. To perform the exercise break at the wrist and move your entire hand away from the mid line of the body (sideways towards the thumb) . Try not to bend the fingers. Only break at the wrist. Repeat 10-20 times.
  4. Ulner Deviation: starting in the above position have your palm facing up. To perform the exercise hinge at the wrist and move your hand towards the mid line of the body (sideways towards your pinky finger). Try not to bend the fingers. Only break at the wrist. Repeat 10-20 times.

Exercises for the Neck
Sit tall in your chair. Engage your abdominals by pulling in your low abs and imagine you are trying to zip up a tight pair of jeans. Place the back of your right hand against the small of your back. Slide your hand across and up toward your left shoulder as far as you comfortably can. Without moving your upper body or shoulders:

  1. Lateral flex: Try to touch your left ear to your left shoulder. Hold 8-10 seconds. Return head to neutral position.
  2. Forward flex: Try to touch your chin to your chest. Hold 8-10 seconds. Return head to neutral position.
  3. Lateral rotation: Try to turn your head so that your nose lines up with your left shoulder. Hold 8-10 seconds. Return head to neutral position.

Switch arms and repeat all 3 exercises on the right side.

Exercises for the Upper Back and Chest
Sit tall in your chair. Engage your abdominals by pulling in your low abs and imagine you are trying to zip up a tight pair of jeans. Have your hands by your side, palms forward. Arc your arms up towards your ear like you were making a snow angel. Lower down and repeat 10 times. Feel your shoulder blades more.

Next, straighten your arms in front of you, horizontal to the floor at shoulder height. Keep your arms straight and use the muscles in-between your shoulder blades to retract your arms. Imagine you are “cracking a walnut in-between your shoulder blades”. Repeat 10-15 times.

Kathleen is a guest writer for this issue of our newsletter. Kathleen Trotter is a certified personal trainer, pilates specialist, fitness expert, Iron(wo)man, and Masters student. To learn more about Kathleen’s services please visit: http://kathleentrotter.com/about-me

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Jennifer Baer, ND & Trained Chef


These fast & easy kale chips are crunchy, nutritious and surprisingly addictive. A great way to introduce some greens to picky eaters!

1 (or more) head kale
1 Tbs olive oil
1-2 cloves pressed garlic
sea salt to taste
1-2 Tbs freshly grated parmesan (optional)

Optional Seasoning:
¼ cup tahini
2 Tbs apple cider vinegar
2-3 Tbs lemon, juiced
2 Tbs nutritional yeast (or parmesan cheese)
Olive oil, sea salt & garlic, as above

Mix all thoroughly in separate small bowl.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Tear leaves away from tough stalks and break into pieces up to 2 inches in length. Wash well, and dry thoroughly in a salad spinner. In a large bowl, toss kale pieces well with oil, garlic, salt, and parmesan (if desired). Spread out on several cookie sheets, and bake for 10-15 minute s,turning several times until starting to brown and crisp. Serve in bowls like potato chips!

For Optional Seasoning version: Use 1/3-1/2 cup of seasoning per head of kale. Mix well with hands to coat kale. Follow the steps above, but bake for 25-35 minutes in a 275°F oven.

Jennifer Baer, RHN, ND, is a Naturopathic Doctor, trained chef and Registered Holistic Nutritionist, with a passion for educating people about making healthy dietary choices that are realistic, appealing and delicious. In addition to naturopathic care, Jennifer offers nutritional consultations and customized meal plans with recipes. For more information about her training, programs and services, please visit: www.bokhealingarts.com

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