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Top 5 Natural Health Tips to Get Ready for 2014!

Dr Tasreen Alibhai, ND
Get Ready for 2014

Can you believe its already 2014! The holidays are behind us, kids are back at school, it’s the first week of “getting back to reality”.

Did you overindulge over the holidays?. Are you ready to make a change and get back to a healthier routine including diet, exercise and quitting/cutting back on some of your old unhealthy habits?

During the last few years we have seen an alarming rise in serious health conditions such as diabetes, obesity, and cancer. This can be the year we make more long term changes and live a healthier longer life. Benefits include feeling more vibrant, having more energy, losing weight, less colds and flus, and of course preventing serious health conditions.

Here are my top 5 natural health tips to help get you back on track after the holidays and ready to start the new year!


The best dietary change that you can make to lose weight, increase energy and improve you immune system is to cut out sugar!

The average Canadian consumes 73 lbs of sugar a year!!!!! The average child under 12 consumes 49 pounds of sugar per year, according to the USDA Economic Research Service.

Sugar is linked to obesity, diabetes, cancer and more…. Make small changes. Swap your soda for sparkling water or plain water. Pop contains 10-12 tsp of sugar per can

Better choices for sugar include Stevia, Fresh fruit, Agave, Brown rice syrup and molasses.

If you crave sugar, there are some great supplements to help reduce your sugar cravings:

  1. L-Glutamine is an amino acid that reduces cravings for sugar and alcohol. I suggest 500mg three times a day, or open a 500mg capsule and let it dissolve on your tongue when you have the sugar craving. It works great!
  2. Chromium is great at stabilizing your blood sugar, preventing the ups and downs of blood sugar. By balancing blood sugar, your sugar cravings will go down. I suggest 200mcg a day.

Don’t forget to investigate the underlying causes of your sugar cravings such as food sensitivities, insulin sensitivity, emotional eating and gut flora imbalances (especially if you have digestive problems like gas and bloating). Our naturopathic doctors can work with you to determine and treat the underlying causes of your sugar cravings.


The most common request I hear in January: is from people who want to detox from the over-indulgences during the holidays.

If your holiday season included a lot of sugar, alcohol and other indulgences, then a detox is a great idea to help get you back on track. A detox doesn’t have to include expensive products or products with laxative effects. Use foods and herbs you have in your kitchen to detoxify and support your organs.

Dr Alibhai’s sample 7 Day Detox:

Follow the guidelines below for 7 days…….

  1. Diet

    Avoid the following foods

    • Corn, Gluten (Wheat, Rye, Barley, Oats, Spelt, Kamut), Soybean products, tuna, halibut, swordfish, shellfish, beef, pork, all dairy products, sugar, coffee, black tea, honey, condiment sauces that usually contain sugar and preservatives. Avoid fried foods and processed foods.
    • Focus on colorful fruits and vegetables, organic chicken, organic turkey, salmon, cod, snapper, beans, brown rice, quinoa.
    • Include good fats like fish oil, flax oil, avocado, nuts, and seeds.
    • Drink at least 2 liters of clean filtered water per day.
    • Avoid all white products including white potatoes. Eat yams or sweet potatoes instead.
    • Avoid alcohol and tobacco
    • Include cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflower as these provide nutrients for liver detoxification.
    • include root vegetables such as turnips, artichokes, beets, garlic and onions to aid liver detoxification
  2. Include detoxifying supplements

    Choose a combination of nutrients to support all organs of elimination:

    • Milk thistle for liver support
    • Probiotics for healthy digestive system
    • Turmeric in supplement form or fresh for liver detoxification
    • Antioxidants such as lipoic acid, NAC, Vitamin C, Magnesium citrate
    • Drink green tea for antioxidant support
    • B complex
    • If constipated, include magnesium citrate in powder form to cleanse the bowels.



Hands down the best thing you can do to increase energy, improve your immune system, slow down aging and heal your body is SLEEP.

The general recommendation is 7-8 hours of sleep a night.

Your body heals itself physically between 10pm and 2am. This is when levels of Growth Hormone, Testosterone and Melatonin are high. The amino acids in your bloodstream are used to repair muscles, bone and organs.

Your body heals its mental state or psyche between 2am and 6am. This is your recovery from mental exhaustion, depression etc.

Sleep deprivation leads to reduced energy, body pain, getting sick easily and essentially ages you. Your skin also regenerates during sleep. That is why we all need our “beauty rest” to look youthful.

Lets talk about your iPad

The bright light from your iPad seriously suppresses melatonin. Melatonin tells your body its time to go to bed. It gets your body ready to release all the hormones that heal at night. It’s the light in the blue and white range that is the problem.

Research shows using your iPad for 2 hours suppresses your melatonin by 22%. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2272615/

Chronic use wreaks havoc on your hormone cycles and interferes with the recovery that is supposed to take place at night.

We need to heal our body at night from the wear and tear of the day. If we don’t do this, we wake up tired, need coffee to get our day started, by 2 or 3 pm our energy is crashing, we may reach for sugary foods to keep us up, then at night we stay up late on our iPad and do the same thing all over again the next day. Then we end up exhausted!!!!!

If you simply cant live without being on your iPad at night here are some suggestions: http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/news/20120831/

  1. Invest in a filter to block out the melatonin lowering blue light.
  2. Dim the light. Study based on full brightness
  3. Distance yourself from the tablet.
  4. Children really should not be playing on the iPad at night as it really affects their hormone systems and can affect learning and behavior.

Study done on iPad but phones emit the same blue light. I suggest avoiding 1 hour before bed if you can.


If you are used to exercising, get back to the gym or outdoors. Exercise is one of the best ways to increase your energy, improve your immune system, elevate your mood and of course lose weight.

If you are not used to exercising, even a 30min walk a day has great health benefits. Even 30 min of moderate exercise can significantly reduce your risk of heart disease. (walking the dog, stairs at work, park further, bike ride; it all counts))

Focus on foods and nutrients that increase energy. (Energy draining: refined foods (bagels). Energy building: protein, complex grains, nuts)

Don’t forget to include protein with every meal as these are the building blocks for your muscles. We all know how important exercise is in a healthier lifestyle.


Support your body as you start your new year with the right vitamins. Here are my top picks:

* The information provided is not intended to diagnose or treat any health condition. Please consult with your doctor or naturopathic doctor before starting any new supplement program as they may have interactions with certain medications. *
  1. Multivitamin: A good quality multivitamin that contains all the basic vitamins/minerals to provide your body with a good foundation for energy production.
  2. Fish oil: Our brain is about 2/3 fat. Fish oil is one of the building blocks to a healthy brain. It supports clear thinking, and increased focus. Keep your brain sharp! I recommend 1000mg EPA/DHA combination daily.
  3. Magnesium: Magnesium is one of the most important minerals needed by the body. About 350 enzyme reactions in the body require Magnesium. Unfortunately, most North Americans are severely deficient in Magnesium. Standard North American diets (low fruits and veggies, high starches and sugar) puts you at a risk for low Magnesium. I recommend 300-400mg a day of Magensium aspartate or glycinate.
  4. Vitamin D: There is so much on-going research on the immune boosting benefits of Vitamin D. We mostly get this nutrient (technically a hormone) from the sun. Living in Vancouver in the winter months, we don't get that much sunshine so we are at a higher risk for vit D deficiency. So a good vitamin D supplement can help boost your immune system and provide anti-cancer benefits. The list of the benefits of Vitamin D is long. I always suggest this nutrient to my patients both in summer and winter months.

Harvard School of Public Health has some great information on research connecting Vitamin D levels and immune system. Please visit http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vitamin-d/#vitamin-d-influenza-colds references.

During the winter, 2000 IU (up to 4000 IU) per day is a good dosage. Again, discuss this with your naturopathic or family doctor as some people should avoid Vitamin D if they are taking certain medications. Fish oil is also a good source of vitamin D.

What can Vitalia Health Care offer you?

What can Vitalia Health Care offer you

Vitalia Health Care offers medically supervised detoxification programs individualized for your specific health needs. Through a 1 hour assessment, our doctors will customize a detoxification program for you based on your current health, genetic history, occupation, and toxic exposure.

We offer state of the art diagnostic testing to determine your levels of toxic metals, vitamin/mineral needs and how well your body is able to detoxify.

Body Composition Assessment

The body composition assessment is a great place to start if you want to achieve a healthier you!!
This is a 15 min non-invasive test to determine the health of your body.

In 15 min we can determine:

This can help you set your health goals.
Can also re-assess at a later time to see what progress you have made.

Many extended benefit programs provide coverage for Naturopathic Medical Care. Please consult with your benefits provider to find out if you are covered!

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