lemon water

My Daily Detox Habits


Happy New Year!! Well, the first few days of 2017 have been pretty beautiful here in Nova Scotia with the sun shining and good vibes flowing! I hope everyone had a wondering holiday and looking forward to the year to come.

As I am sure I am not alone, I did do a little indulging over the holidays. I can never turn down my Mom’s christmas cookies and champagne with my family. However, I did not have any food guilt about these choices as I made sure to do some daily detox rituals while on vacation, then amped them up after the holidays were over, especially on January 1st. These detox habits are part of my daily routine, are not time consuming and make me feel my best! I wanted to share the mains ones with you to start you off on the right foot for 2017! I will be doing a talk downtown on February 1st, at the Four Points Sheraton, on my daily detox habits so be sure to look for more information about that coming soon.  

My Daily Detox Habits:

  1. Drink Lots of Water - Every morning I drink a full glass of water as soon as I wake up, followed by a mug of warm water with lemon before breakfast. Water is vital to every cell in our body. We are even made of 60% water. Without it we can feel dehydrated, dry, fatigued and possibly leave us with a headache or other aches and pains. Water helps to turn on our digestive juices in the morning, especially with added lemon or apple cider vinegar, cleanse us of stagnant toxins accumulated over the day and ultimately wake up our skin and body. I probably drink about 3 litres in a day, but don’t necessary keep track. There are apps now to help remind you to drink water, including growing a garden for yourself if you are drinking enough :)

  2. Eat something green - It is now just habit to eat something green everyday. I usually have lots of fresh leafy greens in my fridge or already prepped to eat in a mixed salad or stew. On New Years Day I amped it up and had a tropical green smoothie as well as a delicious kale salad with beets and carrots. Leafy greens such as spinach, kale, arugula, swiss chard and cruciferous veggies, such as cabbage, brussel sprouts and broccoli, are full of detoxing enzymes and nutrients to support your liver and kidney. Broccoli sprouts are a super food when it comes to liver health and are so easy to grow yourself.

  3. Exercise - I try to do some kind of exercise everyday to get my blood moving and me sweating. Both of these bodily functions are vital to detoxification. It could be a 20 minute walk, an at home workout, or a hot yoga class - my favourite! You can start small, but I promise you will feel the benefits very quickly. Try out apps such as Nike+ Training, MapMyRun or YogaStudio for at home workouts or programs with YogaWithAdriene, Evolve Fitness or Shanti Hot Yoga. 

  4. Breathing - Breathing is another innate detoxification function of our lungs and something I am mindful of everyday. Meditating every morning with my Calm app gets me in the groove to continue to take deep breaths throughout the day. I recommend setting out at least 5 minutes 2x/day to focus on your breath and be thankful for this detoxification process of your lungs!

  5. Dry skin brushing - Before I jump in the shower I use by handy dry skin brush to stimulate lymphatic flow, a system that helps rid the body of toxins and waste, and slough off dead skin. Brushing towards the heart in a circular motion is key as this is the direction of lymph flow. It takes me an extra two minutes while waiting for the shower to warm up. You can find dry skin brushes at most health stores or online. 


Bonus Habit!

Sauna Nova Scotia.jpg
  • Sauna’s - I just recently heard of Sauna Nova Scotia, which is a mobile wood fired sauna set up on Windsor St at the moment for your detox pleasure. I will be trying it out on Wednesday and likely making it a new habit. I will keep you posted via Social Media. 


There you have it, my daily detox rituals, which are easy, make me feel my best and can do the same for you!

Looking for more tips on how to feel your best in 2017? I offer free 15 minute consults for new patients to discover how Naturopathic Medicine and I can best help you (check out your Naturopathic Visit to see all the conditions I address in my practice). Also be sure to check out my Detox Talk on February 1st downtown (more info to come).

In health & happiness,

Dr. Karen 

ps. Some popular posts in the past that might peak your interest - 3 Natural Ways to Improve Digestion, Anxiety - 6 Ways to Conquer Your Mind

Sticking to those New Years goals

Happy first snow day of 2016!! Are you as excited to see the snow as I am? 

Below are little reminders of tips I mentioned over the past year to help you stay motivated, remain on track with your goals and ultimate climb higher on the mountain that is life. 


On December 31st many of us set intentions for the New Year. These could be to loose weight, decrease stress, or accomplish something big at work. How quickly do we loose track of these resolutions because life gets in the way? It is important to dream big, but in order to be successful at achieving our goals and avoid defeat, we need accountability and simple steps to take to keep us on track. Here are 7 steps I suggest:

  1. Break goals down: Goals that are too big to achieve all at once can overwhelm us, leading to a higher chance of failure. I find that breaking them down into more achievable goals is key. For example, if your goal is to loose 15lbs by the summer, break it down into 5lb increments and work towards that every 2 months. Or even smaller if needed.
  2. Set positive intentions daily: Expanding from the last point, setting intentions every morning, whether it be eat your greens or thank someone today, provides motivation and focus for the day and ultimately decreases stress and improves mood. Try the 5-minute journal.
  3. 5-minute meditation: Meditation has been proven to the decrease the stress hormone cortisol, decrease blood pressure and improve sleep, among other things. It will ultimately make you more productive and closer to your goals. Try headspace, calm app or simple start by listening to a song you love and try to remain present. 
  4. Drink lemon water: If weight loss or proper digestion is a goal this year, warm water with lemon in the morning will stimulate digestion and improve liver function, prepping your body for the day.
  5. Sleep: Sleep is one thing that tends to suffer, the busier life is. Sleep is when we detox, repair tissues and eliminate toxins. Lack of sleep decreases immune function, increases cortisol and increases anxiety/inflammation. Aim for 7 hours of sleep a night. Try lavender essential oil or turning off electronics an hour before bed. 
  6. Write things down: We are always more accountable when things are written down. I was taught to create to-do lists for everything! It always feels good to cross something off the list, knowing you are closer to your goals. This goes for resolutions, what you want in life, or your daily tasks.
  7. Seek advice: Finally, if you need support or accountability, please reach out. There are a variety of services available to you and people happy to help. I am one of them :)

In health & happiness, 

Dr. Karen

(Photo credit: www.ted.com)

The healing power of food - Using food as medicine

If you did not catch me on CTV last week, check it out by clicking the photo above or read all about it and more below.

If you are like me and do not like to take too many pills in a day, putting the emphasis on food to give you the nutrients you need and using its medicinal properties to heal your body is ideal. The quote "eat your medicine" rings true here. Food is more than just calories to fill us up. It is full of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. 

Some simple ways to use food as medicine:

  •  Lemon – Add lemon to water to stimulate the digestive track. Great for liver health and to regulate your bowel movements (especially if you suffer from constipation). Try infusing water with lemon in the fridge overnight or drink a cup of warm water with a lemon slice before breakfast. Be sure to use fresh lemon instead of lemon juice. 
  • Apple cider vinegar – This stimulates your stomach acid before meals to aid in digestion. As we age, or if we have been struggling with stress (and who hasn't!), our level of stomach acid starts to decline, which can impede digestion. This creates symptoms such as heartburn, gas, bloating and constipation. Taken before meals, a little goes a long way! You only need about 1 tsp-1tbsp in a little water.
  • Fermented foods – There are several studies recently showing the connection of fermented foods to improved health, including improved immune system, digestive health and mood - including anxiety and depression. The fermentation process produces beneficial probiotics. There are several types of fermented food available such as sauerkraut, kombucha tea, kefir, kimchi, and of course yogurt. Have you tried a variety of these? You can even make your own! 
  •  Ginger root – The phytonutrient in ginger acts to soothe the stomach, if there is any digestive concerns. It is also very warming for people who tend to always be cold like me. Finally it helps to improve your immune system. Make ginger tea by boiling a few slices of fresh ginger in water.
  • Tumeric root – You can find this as the root, the spice or in capsule form. The curcuminoids in turmeric act as a natural anti-inflammatory. They target any type of inflammation, including joint pain, muscle pain and even digestive issues. I use the capsule form a lot in my practice for joint pain and injuries. Research shows a higher dose is most beneficial so a capsule with a least 250mg 3x/day is suggested. However, you can add the spice to food or make turmeric tea with the root - just be careful as it can stain everything yellow!
  • Flax seeds – We have heard a lot about flax seed in terms of its fiber content, however I use it a lot in my practice for many gynecological issues, such as cramps, irregular period and menopause. Flax contains lignans, which act as a phytoestrogen to help balance estrogen. 1-2 tbsp ground flax seed is great for females of all ages.
  • Mushrooms – Their polysaccharides in mushrooms improve and balance your immune system. They are great for a poor immune system, fatigue or any immune condition. Try adding more shiitake mushrooms to stir-fries or  try chaga tea. 
  • Cruciferous veggies – This is a large group of veggies, including broccoli, cauliflower and greens. They contain I-3-C, which is needed in both phases 1 and 2 of liver detoxification. By adding these vegetables to your diet, you improve your livers function, ultimately improving your overall health. 
  • Finally think colour! - The more colour you have in your diet, the broader spectrum of phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals you are getting. A good question to ask yourself is, how many colours are in my diet today?

Have you tried one or more of these foods for their medicinal benefits? Which is your favourite?

Also, if there is a topic you are curious about please let me know in the comments below and I'd be happy to shed a little more light on it.

In health & happiness, 

Dr. Karen

Giving the body a break: Spring Cleanse

We recently completed our first Spring Cleanse at Symmetry Wellness Centre and it was a success! The cleanse was two weeks focusing on healthy whole foods, eliminating the more inflammatory and processed foods, including gluten, processed sugar, alcohol and coffee. Although not everyone has repercussions from some of these foods, ie coffee, it is good to give the body and liver a break at least once a year. We stuck to a whole foods cleanse, instead of the more aggressive cleanses, as our bodies still need nutrients and fibre to function optimally and several people participating had never done a cleanse before. 

Who should cleanse? Everyone! Even if our diet is super clean, we are bombarded with toxins everyday from multiple sources. Some examples are processed food, pesticides, pollution and radiation. It is a good idea to do a cleanse at least once a year to support your body's natural detoxification processes and empty our "bucket". 

Body as a bucket: Think of our bodies as a bucket. When we are born, is it a empty - a clean state - then we start to fill up the bucket. If we are not careful, overtime it will overflow, creating symptoms. These could be eczema, asthma, high blood pressure or cancer, to name a few. What we want to do is promote an ebb and flow to the bucket, preventing it from overflowing. To do this we need to decrease the amount of stress we put on our bodies, food stressors and/or emotional stressors, but also ensure the healthy functioning of our "organs of elimination" - liver, bowels, kidneys and skin. This means, eating a whole foods diet, exercising and focusing on emptying our bowels at least once a day. What comes in...must come out (except for the nutrients that we DO absorb)! If this is an issue for you, consider liver support, more fibre or water. Consult an ND if more support is needed. 

Why Spring? In chinese medicine, spring is the time of the liver, therefore the perfect time to support its detoxification function. The change of the seasons is a new beginning for the nature around us. We can implement this new beginning to our bodies as well, giving it a fresh start. Nature is helping us do this with new buds, sprouts and herbs flourishing. Nutrients is more concentrated in light, fresh foods. No need for larger, heavier meals to hibernate for the winter, but fresh salads and cooler foods to put a "spring" in your step :)

Healthy habits: During a detox, one goal of mine is to help implement healthy habits to carry forward into the summer. Here are some easy ones you'll hear me mention a lot:

  • Drinking more water! Especially during the hotter months to replenish that which we have lost during the day. Hungry? Reach for water first.
  • Warm water with lemon and castor oil packs - The pack at night over the liver and lemon water in the morning helps to get those bowels moving and stimulate digestion. 
  • Apple cider vinegar and honey - 1 tsp ACV + 1 tsp local honey in 1 cup hot water. The bitter and sweat together is the perfect combination to use food as medicine to stimulate the liver, and even combat seasonal allergies.
  • Tumeric - The spice of many names. "Curcuma longa" in latin, is a powerful spice with many actions including anti-inflammatory, immune regulating and liver supporting. I higher dose taken in capsule form has the best results. 
  • Light fresh meals - Click on the photos above for some fresh ideas.

What have you done to support your liver this spring?

Join us next year for our 2nd annual spring cleanse!

In health & happiness,

Dr. Karen