Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Welcome to BBQ Season

Summer Eating

For many, summer is the most social of seasons! BBQ's, bonfires and impromptu patio dates (not to mention weddings!) can lead to very busy days and often times, lots of opportunities for our diets to slide off track! That's not to say we shouldn't have our indulgences but as social calendars fill these 'indulgences' can quickly change to the 'norm.' Here are a few easy to tips to help keep our diets in check!

Skip the Dip
Appetizers are a staple at summer get togethers- veggies and dip, hummus and pitas and the very less healthy cream cheese based dips like Pinterest favourite Buffalo Chicken Dip. Though some of these may seem like healthy options, most people don't stick to the recommended serving size of dip which is only about 1 tablespoon. Also, unless it's homemade, it is likely laden with salt and preservatives. Be sure to plate your appetizers to help keep track of how much you are actually having, keep the dip modest and go crazy on the veggies!

Mind Your Sides
Side dishes are a given at any event. However, without realizing it, these dishes can often become a second dinner. Pasta salad is a quick dish to throw together but tossing a half cup onto your plate is actually a full meal sized serving. The same applies to potato salad and bean salad. All provide tonnes of starchy carbs. Your best bet is to load up on veggie based salads- think green/lettuce and veggie salads or even a chopped Greek salad. Toss in some nuts, seeds or avocado slices for flavour and a dose of healthy fats. Just watch out for processed/preservative laden or calorie heavy dressings!

The Main Event
Burgers, steaks, ribs- these are all common foods tossed on the bbq. Though, red meat has it's benefits- such as a great source of iron and zinc- it should still be consumed in moderation. Switch it up by grilling some chicken, fish or even portobello mushrooms. And remember to always avoid heavily processed meats (think hot dogs) to avoid the preservatives and fillers!

Watch the Alcohol
Alcohol in general provides completely empty calories and many summer drinks
(Sangria anyone?) also provide a whopping serving of sugar. If you do indulge in alcohol be mindful of how much you consume and try to choose a drink that contains less sugar. Try mixing soda water and fresh fruit such as berries for a low calorie, low sugar treat, alcohol optional!

Disclaimer: The information contained in these topics is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, it is provided for educational purposes only. This information shouldn’t take the place of seeing a Naturopathic Doctor or your primary care provider for individualized health recommendations.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Pregnancy and The Coach House Therapeutic Centre

Pregnancy Care At The Coach House

It’s around the time where no matter where you look, there are pregnant women everywhere. Some
are pregnant with their first, others with their second or third. Pregnancy is an amazing experience and often times you'll hear women talk about how great they feel, how wonderful the experience is and even others will comment on that 'baby glow.' Unfortunately, this is not always the case for every pregnant woman. A woman's experience can change from pregnancy to pregnancy and even from day to day, week to week and trimester to trimester within the same pregnancy.  I don't know who ever started calling it 'morning' sickness because at least for me, it was definitely not limited to the morning! (Just ask the team, they will tell you!). Some women could end their pregnancy with severe sciatica and back pain, while others could emerge from the nausea and vomiting to feeling great until the end. Regardless, you are growing a human being inside your body which is incredible, amazing and miraculous, but also hard work and definitely takes a toll on your body.

This is where The Coach House Team comes in. 

We are here to be part of your pregnancy care taking team! Besides your primary health practitioner, such as your doctor or midwife, we are here to help you through all of your pregnancy needs.
Pregnancy is an amazing and wonderful cycle of life. The fact that your own body knows exactly what do before we even know what’s happening, is incredible.  Your body is a machine that needs maintenance throughout, and adding complimentary practitioners will help keep your body feeling the best it can while undergoing these huge physiological changes.

For those of you who don’t know us, we offer Massage Therapy, Physiotherapy, Chiropractic and Naturopathic medicine.  All therapists are wonderful, highly educated and very helpful during all stages of pregnancy.  Some women may be a little hesitant to get treatment while pregnant, but as long as you are healthy, with no high risk issues and are cleared from your doctor or midwife, you should seek treatment during your pregnancy.

Massage Therapy:

Massage is a wonderful way to help get through all of your aches and pains during these nine months of changes to your body. As RMT’s we are taught how to properly treat a woman in all stages of her pregnancy. We can accommodate for the growing tummy using pillowing and specific positioning on the table, to make it as comfortable for you as possible. Trust me, getting massaged while pregnant is awesome! (Especially if your child is head down for 6 months and is constantly kicking you in the ribs, but enough about me!)

First Trimester: Is more about getting massaged for current aches and pains you may already be experiencing. You are still able to lie in prone position (face down). At this stage you may be experiencing some nausea, vomiting and feel exhausted.

Second Trimester:That’s when the fun happens! Nausea and vomiting may be coming to an end or has already stopped. You may notice your tummy starting to grow and show.  Some tightness in the glutes and hips may start to occur as with some aches and cramping in the legs even, and your breasts, let me tell you, will be growing again! It’s like you’re going through puberty for the second time. Who knows they may have already starting growing within the first few weeks of becoming pregnant. But here’s the thing, massage can help to alleviate some of the tension. Throughout this stage, you may be feeling more pressure in your abdomen, so lying face down may not be comfortable for you. We do have a special pregnancy pillow to allow you to continue to be face down for your treatment. Or what I like to do is to start treating you in side lying  position. I use pillows to make you more comfortable, and you are still able to get your full body massaged in this position.

Third Trimester: Once you’re further along, we can start massaging your cute growing tummy. It becomes your baby’s first massage as well. They like it! They respond to it. So why not get it done? Once we get closer to your due date, that is where we can really focus on getting you ready for birth. There are pressure points that we can start to stimulate to get the action going. It is definitely safe to continue until your due date and even during your labour. Especially if you are experiencing back labour, it truly helps to alleviate some of the tension.

Post Natal care: Once you have given birth to your beautiful baby, continue with your treatments. Your body goes through changes once again. And with the baby here, you will find you will experience different aches and pains. If you had an epidural, some women find they have lower back pain at the sight of the injection, days or even weeks after birth. Head, neck, shoulders and arm issues appear from holding your newborn while snuggling, feeding, carrying a car seat, bags, diapers etc. Some women may even have trouble breastfeeding due to blocked ducts, breast massage can help release the tension. If you have experienced a cesarean section, working on your scar can really help break down the scar tissue from building up. Massage can help with this, but only after about 6 weeks and there are no issues with your scar. As RMT's we can show you techniques to use at home to help within this areas.

Naturopathic Medicine:

Naturopathic Doctors are trained to treat anything a GP may treat and that includes pregnancy! Whether you are dealing with a specific concern, or just want to ensure a healthy pregnancy, Naturopathic Doctors are a great practitioner to add to your team. From helping with fertility and

  • Decide on the right health team for your birth experience
  • Treat any complaints/conditions that may arise (nausea, constipation, back pain, etc)
  • Ensure proper nutrition and supplement support
  • Help ensure baby is in the best position possible
  • Help prevent a positive Group B Strep Test
  • Help manage blood sugars and prevent gestational diabetes
  • Provide support throughout the experience
  • Provide natural induction support to help promote a healthy and easy labour and delivery.

conception all the way through to labour and delivery and newborn care, we can help ensure you have a positive pregnancy, labour and delivery experience. Though ND's do not replace your midwife or OB, we can treat and support a variety of concerns.
Pregnancy can be a very different experience for everyone. Naturopathic doctors can help you:
Have more questions? Book a 15 minute Complimentary Meet and Greet with Dr Jessica here at The Coach House!

Chiropractic Care:

Chiropractic is just one manual therapy that can help relieve the aches and pains that often come with being pregnant. 
Here at The Coach House Therapeutic Centre, our chiropractor Dr. Mark can help with joint irritation through adjustments, muscle tension through active and passive muscle release techniques, and medical acupuncture to decrease pain and improve muscle function. He will also provide an exercise regime based on your past and current fitness level.

Try the following tips to help minimize your risk of back pain:
  •  Exercise is an excellent way to increase muscle support for your aching back. Always consult a health care practitioner before beginning or maintaining a current exercise regimen.
  • Sleep on your left side to reduce the pressure of the uterus on the large blood vessels in the abdomen.
  • Place a pillow between your knees to take pressure off of your low back when sleeping. (Body pillows are great as well, snuggle with the pillow, helps with upper body too.)  
  • Wear flat, supportive shoes. (Sorry ladies, you may love wearing those cute heels, but lets be real, being comfortable is more important once you're further along in your pregnancy. Heels can wait!)

Have more questions, come on in and meet Dr. Mark  or send him an email at


Pelvic girdle pain, coccydynia (tailbone pain), urinary incontinence, bowel dysfunction, pelvic organ prolapse; these conditions may be common in pregnancy, but they are NOT normal! Pelvic physiotherapy can help to alleviate pregnancy-related pain, minimize strain on the pelvic floor, maintain daily activities and exercise, and optimize pelvic function and health.

Pelvic physiotherapy treatment typically involves education, posture and positioning strategies, movement pattern training, therapeutic exercise, and manual therapy techniques; for some conditions, internal vaginal or rectal examination and treatment may also be utilized.

Have more questions, contact Jillian at

And there you have it! A full team of great practitioners to help you through one of the most exciting, nerve wracking and wonderful events in your life. If you have any questions please feel free to contact us.

The Coach House Team 2017

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Busting Stress

Busting Stress

It's a question I ask during every initial visit, "Tell me about your stress." Often times, people don't even recognize their stress, as stress. We are so conditioned to think being "go-go-go" all the time is 'normal,' that we don't even realize it's not. More and more, I am convinced that stress is the epidemic of our time.

Back to the Basics

During hunter-gatherer days, we would see a wild animal, our stress would peak, our adrenals would put out adrenaline and cortisol, our bodies would shunt blood from our inner organs to our limbs and muscles and we would run away. This is fight-or-flight, also known as Sympathetic Mode. The sympathetic nervous system increases heart rate, increases blood flow to extremities, diverts sugar to the blood (increases blood sugar levels), increases blood clotting, increases inflammation.

We would get back to the fire and safety, our stress would decrease, our adrenals would relax, our bodies would deliver blood back to our inner organs and we rest. This is rest-and-digest, also known as Parasympathetic Mode. The parasympathetic nervous system stimulates digestion (enzyme production, stomach acid production, peristalsis (the movement that moves food the intestines), absorption), regulates deep sleep (stage 4), stimulates sex organs (libido and fertility).

Cortisol is known as our stress hormone and we should have a regular rise and fall in cortisol throughout the day, which is countered with melatonin. In the morning, cortisol peaks while melatonin hits it's lowest. Then throughout the day cortisol slowly decreases and hits it's lowest before bed, while melatonin starts to spike which signals sleep. This constant interplay between cortisol and melatonin creates our circadian rhythm. Our ideal cortisol graph would look something like this:

After each stressor, we are able to return to a relaxed, parasympathetic state and the stress resolves. However, more and more this rhythm is disrupted with stress. Usually, when I am told that, 

"I'm not stressed, I'm just a busy person, I like it though, I can't just sit there"

I follow up that question with, okay, tell me about your day. The response usually looks something like this:

"Well, I wake up at 6 am, I get the kids up, make them breakfast, pack their lunches, drop them off at school, head over to the office, we are really busy at work so I usually work through the day, sometimes I forget to have lunch or i'll just have a quick snack at my desk. Then after work I pick up the kids, get them a snack, drop them off at hockey/music/dance/soccer/etc. Then I go to the gym for a bit then I pick them up we have a quick dinner, I clean the house, put the kids to bed and I sit down to watch something but often times I fall asleep right away. Then I'll wake up and go to bed."

(Imagine this said as quickly as possible with few breaths...)

That go-go-go is stress. Aging, food, alcohol, coffee, other stimulants, working long hours, lack of bonding is all stress as well. That is being in sympathetic mode all. day. long. With a graph that tends to look more like this,

This means we are rarely getting into parasympathetic mode and that will take a toll on our body.

Stress and the Body

It probably comes as no surprise that chronic stress will take a negative effect on the body, but some of the stats and facts might actually surprise you.
  • 79-90% of all visits to primary health care practitioners in North America are due to stress-related illnesses. (Perkins 1994, Saving Money by Reducing Stress. Harvard Business Review 72(6):12)
  • 68% of women say they are chronically stressed, yet only 25% say they are doing anything about it. (Statistics Canada)
  • 11% of Americans age 12 or older report taking antidepressants. (CDC data)
  • Both effects (acute and chronic stress) increase HPA stimulation and result in greater hippocampal and amygdala atrophy, biphasic alterations in structure increasing swings from depression to anxiety in women as compared to men. (Without clinical diagnosis of bipolar). (Bruce McEwen, Glucocorticoids, depression and mood disorders: Structural remodelling in the brain. Metabolism, May 2005, Vol 54, Issue 5, page 20-23).
The last fact regarding anxiety and depression may be the most 'shocking' but under chronic stress, our bodies and adrenal glands get taxed and coping decreases, which includes regulating mood.

So, what should you do?

It would be awesome if we could all just quit the stress in our lives, move to Mexico and lay on a beach, but unfortunately, that's not reality. So it's about finding ways to cope and manage stress. As a Naturopathic Doctor, I will often use nutrition, herbs and nutrients to help support your body and correct depletions. Chronic stress takes a serious toll on the adrenal glands and those don't bounce back quickly as they won't ever get a real 'break'. However, without the tools to mange stress, even supplements are a bandaid and not a solution. My main recommendation at combatting stress is working on getting your cortisol down and into parasympathetic mode and thankfully, there are a bunch of different ways to do this. Here are my top 5 easy to incorporate ways to manage stress:
Photo Courtesy of Fearless Heart Yoga Waterloo
  1. Yoga: In yoga, physical postures and breathing exercises improve muscle strength, flexibility, blood circulation and oxygen uptake as well as hormone function. In addition, the relaxation induced by meditation helps to stabilize the autonomic nervous system with a tendency towards parasympathetic dominance. (Europe PMC) In one study, researchers evaluated the effects of yoga in females subjects who participated in a 3-month yoga program compared to those on a waitlist and found that those who participated in the yoga program demonstrated pronounced and significant improvements in perceived stress, anxiety, well-being, vigor, fatigue and depression. Physical well-being increased, headaches and back pain decreased and even salivary cortisol decreased significantly after participation in a yoga class (compared to before the class). (
  2. Guided Meditation/Breathing: This is an easy one to incorporate throughout the day. I will often recommend a quick 2 minute breathing exercise before each meal to help move towards parasympathetic mode and improve digestion. I also love guided imagery. A subscription to Apple Music or Spotify will provide you with a HUGE selection of various guided imageries that can be downloaded and listened to. This type of mindfulness has been shown to improve mood, decrease stress, improve, boost the immune system, even improve fertility. Studies are also showing there is huge benefits in children as well. My own daughter has a full playlist on Apple Music of children's guided imagery that we will use after school, before bed or any time we need a bit of calm.
  3. Adult Colouring: I know it's all the rage right now, but for good reason. In a recent
    study, participants had their salivary cortisol measured before and after 45 minutes of adult colouring/art making. The results showed a statistically significant decrease in salivary cortisol levels and participants reported feeling much more relaxed and lower stress. It makes you wonder why we adults ever stopped colouring in the first place!
  4. Sleep Hygiene: We can't look at stress and cortisol without also looking at sleep and melatonin. If cortisol becomes unbalanced/spiking improperly then the interplay between melatonin and cortisol will also become unbalanced and sleep often times gets affected. Making sure you have a good sleep routine helps to keep those circadian rhythms in check and allows your body to know when it should be producing more cortisol and when it should be producing more melatonin. Make sure you are following these basic sleep hygiene practices:
      • Keep a regular sleep and wake time (as much as possible) to keep your circadian rhythm regular.
      • Keep your room completely dark- remove clocks, use black out blinds etc. this helps signal your body that it's time for sleep and to produce melatonin.
      • Avoid electronics before bed- this plays into the dark point above but even more, electronic screens (tvs, phones, e-readers, etc) emit blue light which further disrupts melatonin production so make sure you are avoiding it before bed. You can also download blue light blocking apps or on iPhones you can change set your screen to "night mode" which removes the blue light.
  5. Assemble your team: You've heard it before, "It takes a village" and this rings true for your stress and mental health as well. The majority of our stress these days is kind of unavoidable- we have to get to work (traffic), we have to take care of kids, we have to have jobs, etc. so to say remove your stress is not realistic but it is important to find ways and tools to manage your stress. 
      • Find a counsellor or therapist that you click with. I know often times there is still some lingering stigma around seeing a therapist when there really shouldn't be. These are skilled practitioners who are well trained to provide an outlet to work through stress and an array of coping mechanisms and tools to help manage or reframe stresses. 
      • Get a massage. Multiple studies show the benefits of massage. It has actually been shown that massage can decrease cortisol levels and actually increase dopamine and seratonin levels!
      • Participate in mindfulness. Whether through a yoga class/instructor or finding a mindfulness or meditation coach, working on retraining your body to get into parasympathic mode is a huge step in reducing stress and cortisol. There are even group meditation classes in Uptown Waterloo!
      • Talk to your Naturopathic Doctor. Optimizing diet, nutrients and lifestyle goes a long way in dealing with stress and coping. Herbs and supplements can also help support those adrenal glands and give them the nourishment they need after chronic stress. 
However, it's not just finding tools, it's also allowing yourself to make self care a priority. How many people feel 'guilty' sitting down in the afternoon or evening, thinking about all the 'other' things they should be doing (dishes, laundry, errands, emails, tasks, etc.)? Many times, these moments of just relaxing are thought of as 'wasted' time. Working on shifting that mindset to view those times as important moments of self care will be an important way to allow yourself to truly get into parasympathic mode. Remember, self care is never wasted time. If you are feeling stress or overwhelmed, it is never too late to reach out and start making changes.

In Health,

Dr Jessica, Naturopathic Doctor

Disclaimer: The information contained in these topics is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, it is provided for educational purposes only. This information shouldn’t take the place of seeing a Naturopathic Doctor or your primary care provider for individualized health recommendations.