The modifiable risk factors of Breast Cancer that every woman needs to be aware of and how you can reduce your risk.

The most common cancer of women in North America is breast cancer. On average, 1 woman in 7 in North America will develop this cancer in her lifetime. In earlier years the risk was 1 in 20. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death in North American women and the leading cause of death in the age group 40-55 years.

So let's talk about what the risk factors are and how to decrease your risk for breast cancer development. 

Understand what the risk factors are (the factors that increase the risk for developing breast cancer): 

Family history in first degree relative-mother or sister.

Early menarche (start of menstruation below the age of 12 years of age).

Late onset of menopause (after the age 55 year of age). 

Estrogen excess such as estrogen replacement therapy in menopause or use of birth control before age of 35 or longer than 5 years.

Obesity- because fat cells make estrogen via aromatase enzyme.

High fat diet, especially those high in arachidonic acid and saturated fat.

Moderate to high alcohol consumption increases risk 50-100%. Risk is entirely dose-dependent-for example, risk increases 45-50% with consumption of more than half of a glass of wine daily! A study has shown that 25% of breast cancers can be attributed to alcohol. The cancer risk from alcohol consumption can be slightly reduced by supplementing with folate and MMP-2 inhibitors such as green tea.

Cigarette smoking. 

Excess iron load increases risk. Measure ferritin.

Nulliparous-never having a child-risk up 30%

Child-bearing after age 30. First full term pregnancy after 25 puts up risk 40% over those having a child before 20.

Excess exposure to xenobiotics with estrogenic properties such as pesticides and herbicides. For example organochlorine pesticides like DDT increase risk of larger and more aggressive cancers.

Plasticizer bis-phenol A (BPA) accumulates in breast fat and is a potent xeno-estrogen found in soft plastics such as saran wrap, food containers and water bottles.

Exposure to anti-psychotic drugs which are dopamine antagonists, and anti-emetic dopamine antagonists for vomiting, because they elevate prolactin.

Depression has been found to increase risk of breast cancer by 42%

Low intake of calcium, vitamin D and other bone health factors promotes metastasis into the bones. Calcium build-up inside cells (cellular hypercalcinosis) is a powerful trigger of carcinogenesis, and ironically is due to a lack of proper calcium intake and utilization. If you are going to stay out of the sun and use sunscreens, supplementing with vitamin D3 daily is recommended.

A high-glycemic diet-high in sugar and refined starches is associated with higher risk of breast cancer and more rapid progression of the disease.

Insulin, prolactin, insulin-like growth factors and growth hormones are cancer promoters. Even slightly elevated IGF-1 and IGFBP-3 indicate significant risk for breast cancer in the Harvard Nurses Study. A major prognosis indicator for breast cancer patients is the blood insulin level at the time of diagnosis.

Stress hormone adrenaline (epinephrine) blocks cancer cells throwing the apoptosis death switch, Stress reduces the effectiveness of cancer therapies. The psycho-neuro-immunological system or hypothalamic-pituitary axis regulates a number of chemicals which breast cells carry receptors for: insulin, prolactin, vitamin D, estrogen, progesterone, testosterone and other androgens.

Silicone breast implants increase risk 18x of a rare anaplastic large T-cell lymphoma, to 0.2 cases per year per 100, 000 women with implants.


 How to reduce your risk of developing breast cancer: 

High intake of dietary fiber, vitamin C, beta-carotene, lycopenes, legumes, cruciferous vegetables and green tea.

Dietary phytoestrogens such as soy foods modulate estrogen receptors. The dietary targets for isoflavones is 40mg daily, from foods such as miso, tofu and soy milk.

DO NOT EAT GRAPEFRUIT! Even a ¼ of a grapefruit daily inhibits the estrogen-clearing cytochrome P450 CYP3A4 enzyme in the liver enough to increase risk of breast cancer by as much as 30%.

Low fat diet (bad fats) being it down to 20% of calories as fat: Monounsaturated such as oleic acid in olive are protective. Omega-3 fatty acids asre protective , as found in the wild salmon, halibut, mackerel, sardines and herring; also in nuts and seeds. This is a big issue for those with estrogen-receptor negative ER- cancers. Risk is lower in those with high HDL- the good cholesterol, and is better in those with high total cholesterol versus low cholesterol. Low tryglycerides and low VLDL “bad cholesterol” predict a better response to treatment.

Low glycemic diet-and this is especially vital if you are sedentary or overweight, or have been on hormone replacement therapy. A low glycemic index reduces risk about 22%, by controlling insulin and insulin-like growth factors.

Beans and lentils twice weekly are protective. In general vegan or plant-based diets provide the lowest risk. I do insist that all animal foods be free of herbecides, pesticides, hormone and drugs. Red meat from grain-fed animals (ususally corn silage) are pro-inflammatory, whereas grass or pasture fed animals are safer, due to a more favorable omega-3 to omega-6 fat ratio.

Regular physical exercise, at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise three times per week. The ideal is to work up to 60 minutes up to 5 times per week. Hypoxia-inducible factor alpha HIF-alpha is associated with reduced survival and increased risk of metastases. Aerobic exercise increases circulation, and also controls blood sugar and this insulin and insulin-like growth factors.

Sunshine and vitamin D: so many people are avoiding sun exposure and using sunscreens to reduce risk of skin cancers, not now Canadians are showing up with vitamin D deficiency, particularly in the winter. In the winter studies have show that you need to take at least 2000 IU daily of vitamin D3 for protective benefits.

Maintain good bowel bacteria with enteric-coated probiotics.

Maintain the health of your thyroid glad: a subtle pre-clinical hypothyroid state is a risk factor for breast cysts, fibrosis and cancer. Iodine, exercise and immune balance are the foundation of thyroid health.

Stress management to moderate cortisol and blood sugar fluctuations.

Avoid the use of anti-perspirants: use natural grapefruit seed extract (GSE) deodorants.

Avoid alcohol and if you must drink take folate and vitamin B6.

 Breast cancer resistance protein BCRP is increased by intake of quercetin, resveratrol, DIM, green tea EGCG,  and other proteasome inhibitors. Therefore eat: Vegetables and fruits such as: apples, onions, grapes, cabbage, broccoli, and drink green tea.Urokinase deficiency increases the spread of breast cancer. This can be controlled with green tea EGCG.

Metastasis of breast cancer to the bones is regulates by STA3, TGF-beta, RANKL, and Src tyrosine kinases which are all targets of an oncology naturopathic protocol.

Detoxify your body of xenobiotics with an annual body cleanse:  many chemicals in plastics, pertecides, herbecides, flame retardants, etc are hormone mimics or hormone disruptors.

Breastfeeding benefits your breasts-the longer the better, for you and for your baby. The breast tissue completes its differentiation and carcinogens are eliminates in the breast milk. The months during pregnancy without periods also are risk reducers, so more kids and more nursing in the past may have helped keep rates lower.

 Specific dietary recommendations that decrease your risk of developing breast cancer:

Ellagic acid is anti-angiogenic and has been shown to be protective: ellagic acid is found in pomegranates, grapes and all berries.

 Eugenol inhibits COX-2, TNF-alpa, PGE-2 and IL-1B: dietary sources of eugenol are spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, basil and bayleaf.

Follow a low-fat diet: breast is mainly fatty tissue, and will accumulate fat-soluble toxins such as xenobiotic pesticides and other hormone-disrupting or hormone mimicking toxins.

A good amount of healthy fast can support better health, but remember fats need anti-oxidant support of they can turn on you. A balance of omega-3 to omega-6 is vital to regulate inflammation and its growth factors.

Folate from green leafy vegetables is protective.

Coloured fruits and vegetables provide anti-oxidants and natural carotenoids. One valuable example is lycopene from stewed tomatoes.

Fish provides omega-3 oils.

 Brown rice provides melatonin.

Rosemary is a great spice that balances hormones.

Two tablespoons of ground flaxseeds daily have been shown to reduce the rate of growth of breast tumors, and is significantly effective at preventing the spread of breast cancer. Flaxseeds lignans bind estrogen in the bowel, preventing re-uptake, and stimulates production of sex hormone binding globulins SHBGs, removinghormones from the blood stream. Flaxseed works best with a low fat diet high in other lignin fibre from fruit, berries, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains.

Grapeseed extract: the oligomeric proanthocyanidins OCPs in grapeseed extract have a profound effect on breast cancer, as a cytoxic, aromatase inhibitor, and anti-angiogenic. Similar anthocyanidins are found in red, or purple grapes, pomegranate, bilberry, raspberry cranberry, black berry and blueberry. 

A naturopathic physician can guide you with diet, orthomolecular and botanical medicine protocols that are  appropriate for your specific case. We can avoid many risk factors by eating organic foods, choosing natural/organic personal hygiene products and home cleaning products, and generally reducing our dependance on synthetic chemical products. However, even a perfect lifestyle does not protect us against certain exposures that are out of our control. Therefore, supporting your body by priming its natural elimination and detoxification pathways to reduce your body's toxic burden should be considered an important component of a healthy lifestyle routine.


Source: Naturopathic Oncology by Dr. Neil McKinney, BSc, ND. 



Start 2017 the right way: recomendations that will have you feeling balanced, energized and happy.

Are you looking to feel healthier, happier, more rested and more energetic in 2017?

Follow these 6 simple health habits that I recommend to all my patients who live busy lives. 

1. Take an adaptogen to support your stress response: We all live very busy lives, we’re always on the go and worrying about the next thing we have to do. Taking a medicinal botanical extraction with “adaptogenic” properties shifts your stress response away from constantly being in overdrive. An over-stimulated stress response can have very harmful long-term consequences on our health: 

  • Lowers our immune function and our ability to fight off pathogens
  • Lowers our metabolic function and decreases our digestive abilities
  • It makes us more prone to food sensitivities because of a decrease in production of an antibody called IgA, which protects our gut.
  • Causes us to feel sluggish, tired and foggy because high levels of cortisol decrease our thyroid gland’s ability to function optimally.
  • Negatively impacts the production of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine which make us feel happy and motived.
  • Causes us to gain weight especially around the mid-section, due to the effects of high levels of cortisol and insulin resistance.

For this reason, I recommend supporting your system with an adaptogen, especially if you are anticipating a stressful period at work or even in your personal life. When used correctly, at the right dosages and when using professional grade therapies, adaptogens can be a great adjunct to your daily self-care routine.  They help prevent disease and help restore your body’s optimal function and they can even help reverse disease. They help your body adapt to stress and do so by normalizing the chemicals that get secreted at high concentration during the adrenal stress response. They help your system adapt and cope with daily stressors such as being over-worked, constantly worried and always on the go. Adaptogens induce a sense of sustained calm yet give you a boost of energy, boost your immune system and help calm down the stress response. They balance your blood sugar, decrease cholesterol storage and decrease insulin dysregulation. They also help to keep inflammation at bay, decrease pain and resolve brain fog. My favourite adaptogen is called Ashwagandha. Therapeutic dose is between 500-600mg daily, however, this may vary from product to product based on the botanical extraction ratio and the individual’s clinical manifestations.

2. Exercise 3-4 times per week: Exercise can help prevent excess weight gain or help maintain weight loss. Regular exercise helps prevent chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease, it helps to increase “good” cholesterol  (HDL) levels and decreases unhealthy triglycerides. This will allow for healthy blood flow in your vasculature decreasing your risk of cardiovascular diseases such as high blood pressure. Regular exercise helps prevent and at times reverse a wide range of health conditions including stroke, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes and depression to name a few. Exercise improves mood, it supports the production of various brain chemicals that make you feel happy and calm. Regular exercise also boosts your energy levels, improves muscle strength, stamina and endurance. When you’re first starting to get back into an exercise routine you want to focus on movement, walking/stretching/yoga. Incorporate resistance training/weights (lower body) 2-3 times a week for 30 minutes. Include an hour of cardio on alternating days when you don’t do weights/resistance training.

3. Consume green tea on the daily: Use a green tea extract to boost your metabolism, help kick start weight loss and ensure that you are getting a healthy dose of antioxidants for the maintenance of good health. Green tea is loaded with pylophenols, which increase fat oxidation (ie fat break down and metabolism). Catechins found in green tea reduce the formation of free radicals in the body, protecting cells and molecules from damage. Free radicals play a major role in the development of chronic illnesses. One of the more powerful compounds in green tea is the antioxidant epigallacatechin gallate (EGCG) which has been evidenced to have anti-cancerous effects. Green tea can help regulate glucose levels and will help with wrinkles and has anti-aging effects because of its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits. Green tea also helps to reduce bad cholesterol (LDL) in the blood. You want to aim for 6-8 cups of green tea per day. Additionally, a professional-grade EGCG supplement can be extremely beneficial if indicated in your specific case. 

4. Support a healthy gastrointestinal microbiome: take a good probiotic. Stress, bad dietary habits and inflammation all influence your gut flora and cause the “good” gut bacteria population to die off. Our “good” gut bacteria are extremely important for the prevention of chronic disease, immunity, gastrointestinal health, weight loss and mood. Dosage and strains are prescribed based on the individual case. Different strains are characterized in the literature to have different therapeutic benefits. Research has also established the benefits of different dosages being beneficial for different types of clinical issues. As a rule of thumb, however, I do not recommend taking a product that contains any less than 10 Billion CFU per strain for therapeutic benefit, in practice, I may go up to 450 Billion CFU depending on the case.

5. Drink Water: 8-12, 8oz glasses (2-3L) a day minimum and add lemon slices to support liver detox. Staying hydrated is essential for our health. Keep a bottle of water with you during the day, if you sit at a desk all day keep it at your desk in front of you and you’ll automatically drink more water. If you don't like the taste of plain water, try adding a few slices of lemon,  a few berries or mint leaves to your water. Be sure to drink water if you’re a coffee drinker, coffee is a diuretic and will dehydrate you. You want to avoid fluids-water/teas 2 hours before bedtime in order to avoid interrupting your sleep.

6. Sleep: aim to be asleep between 10-10:30pm. Keep your room as dark as possible. You should get between 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night. When we sleep our body repairs itself, protein breakdown slows down and the rate at which fats and carbohydrates are being broken down increases. Studies show that a good night's sleep helps to optimize learning and problem-solving skills. Studies have also shown that sleep helps you pay attention, make decisions, be creative and lose weight. Additionally, getting a good night sleep will help you control your emotions, as well as your behaviour and help you cope with change. Sleep deficiency has also been linked to depression and anxiety.

By Dr. Nadine Khoury, ND


Healthy Shopping: How to make healthy choices at the grocery store

Organic Foods

Organic: farm systems employ management practices that seek to nurture ecosystems in order to achieve sustainable productivity

       DO NOT contain any genetic engineering

       DO NOT use any synthetic pesticides

       DO NOT use any fertilizer

       DO NOT use any veterinary drugs including antibiotics

       DO NOT use sewage sludge as soil amendment

       DO NOT use synthetic growth regulators

       DO NOT use synthetic processing substances and food additives

       DO NOT use ionizing radiation

       ALL equipment, packaging materials and storage containers or bins DO NOT contain any synthetic fungicide, preservative or fumigant

Certified organic symbol means that products that are at least 95% organic


·      Organic: must use more than 95% organic content.

·      % organic product: must contain 70-95% organic content

·      Multi-ingredient products with less than 70% organic content may only contain organic claims in the product’s ingredient list.

·      Natural’ or ‘free-range’ - NOT organic!


The Dirty Dozen: The Fruits and Vegetables that are the most important to buy organic


  • Peaches
  • Apples
  • Nectarines
  • Cherries
  • Pears
  • Grapes
  • Strawberries
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Celery
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Carrots


Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)


  • Based on the idea of "substantial equivalence”

—  Animal studies:  immune dysregulation, infertility, accelerated aging, insulin dysregulation, changes in liver, spleen, kidneysGI tract

—  Allergenicity: Introducing a new gene to a plant can create new allergens, or pose a health threat to already susceptible individuals

—  Health Canada claims that genetically modified foods are no different than conventional foods

—  No long term studies have been done to assess the effects of modified foods on human health

—  Soybeans and corn are the top two most widely grown crops (82% of all GM crops harvested in 2000), with cotton, rapeseed (or canola) and potatoes trailing behind.

—  Over 35 countries require Genetically Modified Foods to be labeled…..Canada does not.




       Animals are treated with Antibiotic as a form of prevention and treatment of  disease

       Antibiotic resistance increases the chance of antibiotic resistant bacteria developing, making it more difficult to treat human disease

·      Canadian beef: the Canadian Food Inspection agency has approved use of growth hormones and synthetic derivative à estrogen, progesterone, testosterone

·      Canadian chicken: not fed hormones

·      Free range: not legally defined

·      88% of chicken feed is made of grain

·      Organic meat: hormone free, anti-biotic free, additive free


When buying meat…

       Look for key words such as lean.  Lean beef includes round, chuck, sirloin or tenderloin.  Lean pork or lam includes tenderloin, loin chops or leg.  Lean poultry is white meat from the breast without skin.

—  Check percentages. When buying ground beef, look for packages with the highest percentage of lean meat — 90 percent or higher.

—  Check the ground. Ground poultry can have as much fat as ground beef has, or more, because it often includes dark meat and skin. To make the leanest choice, choose ground breast meat, or look for low-fat ground chicken or turkey.

—  Prime usually means more fat!

—  Trim the fat.   Trim any visible fat on the meat , this includes the skin on poultry.

—  Avoid processed meat. Processed meat contain preservatives, additives, salt, and are often smoked.  


Omega-3 Eggs


—  These eggs are produced by hens fed a diet that contains 10 to 20 percent flaxseed.

—  Omega-3 enhanced eggs contain 0.4 g omega-3 fatty acids compared 0.04 g found naturally in classic eggs.

—   The cholesterol and total fat contents are about the same as in classic eggs.




—  Nearly all fish and shell fish contain levels of mercury

—  Some fish carry more mercury than others. Larger fish that have lived longer and who are also predator fish have the highest levels of methylmercury because they've had more time to accumulate it.

—  Methylmercury is a known neurotoxin, and has the potential to harm an unborn fetus or a developing child’s neurosystem. 

—  Fish can become a concern depending on the type of fish you’re eating, and how much fish you’re eating.

—  Predator fish are most toxic. Avoid swordfish, shark, tilefish, sea bass.

—  Lowest mercury levels usually in smaller fish like herring, salmon, sardine and shrimp

—  Wild is always better than farmed

—  Tuna accounts for up to a quarter of the country’s fish consumption

—  Some brands of tuna contain more mercury than others

—   Avoid Albacore tuna

—   Prefer light tuna

—   Limit tuna consumption to max twice a week…remember bioaccumulation!


Nuts and Seeds


—  Nuts and seeds are filed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

—  High in monounsaturated fatty acids and omega-6 which lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease

—  When you roast nuts and seeks the heat causes these good oils to go rancid producing free radicals which can be harmful to our health


Seasonal, Local Foods

·      Benefits: Cost effective; decreased travel time for food (so it is fresher and there is less environmental impact from vehicles used for transportation); and supports the local economy

·      A full list of Ontario fruit and vegetable seasons can be found at:  

Fair Trade

·      Products include: bananas, cocoa, coffee, cotton, rice, sugar and tea.

·      Fair trade products promise that the farmers and workers producing the crops are paid prices that will at least cover the cost of sustainable production, as well as a fair trade premium, which is used to support education, healthcare, and improvements to production methods.

·      Fair trade certifiers encourage environmentally sustainable practices and discourage use of GMOs. However, it is important to note that not all fair trade products are necessarily organic. 

Can the Canned Foods

·      Not a good substitute for fresh fruits and vegetables

·      Often contain bisphenol A (BPA), which is a hormone disrupting chemical related to increased risk of breast and testicular cancer, diabetes and obesity.

·      Canned foods are high in sodium  

Plastic and Styrofoam

·      Plastics contain phthalates which can affect thyroid hormone, which is important for energy, weight and temperature regulation. Phthalate consumption has also been related to increased BMI and waist circumference

·      Styrofoam is a styrene polymer made from benzene (a carcinogen). Styrene is neurotoxic and mimics estrogen and thyroid hormone.

·      Absorption of styrene is increased by high fat content foods, alcohol, lemon juice and heat. 



Weight-loss friendly recipe!

Halibut with roasted tomatoes (serves 2)

3 Roma tomatoes, diced

1 onion, diced

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

2 halibut fillets

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme 

fresh lemon (juice)

Preheat the oven to 375 F. In a baking dish, mix together the tomatoes, onion and garlic. Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Season well with salt and pepper. Roast for 8 to 10 minutes until soft. 

Season the halibut with salt, pepper and thyme. Spray a large skillet with non-stick spray. Over medium-high heat, sear the halibut on both sides until lightly browned. 

Transfer the halibut fillets onto the roasted tomato mixture and bake for an additional 8 to 10 minutes. Squeeze the lemon Juice on the halibut after it is cooked. Serve with 1/2 cup of brown basmati rice or serve with baked acorn squash or side salad. 

calories: 305, protein: 28g, fat: 10g, carbohydrates: 28g, fibre: 4g. 



Source: the super-charged hormone diet by Dr. Natasha Turner, ND. 

Which blood tests should you be asking your doctor for?


Comprehensive lab Testing:


1.     Full CBC panel.

2.     Ferritin serum levels.

3.     Full lipid panel including: Total Cholesterol, LDL, HDL, Triglycerides and Cholesterol/HDL ratio.

4.     Inflammation markers: HS-CRP & ESR.

5.     Kidney function tests: Creatinine, eGFR, BUN.

6.     Liver function tests: ALT, AST and Bilirubin.

7.     Glucose levels: HA1C and Fasting Blood Glucose.

8.     Hormone levels (female): Estradiol, Estriol, Estrone, Progesterone, LH and FSH (on day 3 of menstrual cycle if possible and if still menstruating), Total & Free Testosterone, Prolactin and SHBG. 

9.     Anti-Mullerian Hormone serum levels for females in their reproductive years.

10. Hormone levels (male): Total Testosterone, Free Testosterone, Estradiol, Progesterone, LH, FSH, Prolactin and SHBG.

11. Thyroid function tests: TSH, Free T3 and Free T4.

12. Proteins: Serum Albumin levels and Total Protein.

13. 25-hydroxy Vitamin D serum levels.

14. Trace minerals: chromium, copper, zinc, magnesium, fluoride, iodine, selenium, copper and molybdenum.

15. Calcium serum levels, Phosphorus serum levels (if indicated) and PTH serum levels (if indicated).

16. Vitamin B12 serum levels and Folate serum levels.

17. Electrolyte serum levels: Sodium, Potassium, Chloride and CO2.

18. Urinalysis: To screen for metabolic and kidney disorders as well as for urinary tract infections (UTIs): uric acid, glucose, protein, bilirubin, red blood cells, white blood cells, crystals, and bacteria.

19. Uric Acid serum levels (if indicated).

20. Kidney Stone Evaluation (if indicated): Blood and 24-hour urine tests for calcium, uric acid, creatinine, oxalate, citrate, phosphate, and/or cysteine. 

Natural Ways To Support Your Infant's Immune System

Probiotics and the Developing Immune System

Recently, there has been immense interest in the medical research regarding probiotics and how they influence the health of the body. Apart from helping heal gastrointestinal complaints (including Crohn’s, Ulcerative colitis, IBS and Celiac disease), probiotics have been shown to relieve anxiety and stress, lower blood pressure and also prevent antibiotic resistance to name a few. We are only beginning to understand the potential of our gut flora, and some of the most beneficial and promising research relates to newborns and how we can help optimize their health for their futures to come!

Probiotics and newborns: where it all begins…

The newborn gut is a perfect environment for microbes to live with food, moisture, and warmth. Its first inoculation of bacteria comes from the environment the baby is born into. It has been shown that vaginally delivered infants harbour bacteria resembling their own mother’s vaginal, rectal and skin microbiota which are Lactobacillus, Prevotella or Sneathia spp. dominant. To the same effect, infants born by C-section acquire bacteria similar to those found on the surface of the skin, such as Staphylococcus, Corynebacterium and Propionibacterium spp. as well as the hospital environmental microbiotia. The bacterial balance may also be influenced by antibiotic treatment as well as feeding choices (breastmilk, formula, food introduction, types of foods eaten)

The varying bacterial balances, have been shown in the literature, to influence the development of certain health conditions later in life. Children born by C-section, for example, have been shown to have a 2-fold higher prevalence of atopy (a tendency to develop allergic diseases such as allergic rhinitis, asthma and eczema) than those born by vaginal delivery. Furthermore, there is evidence that more than 50% of young children with severe atopic dermatitis will develop asthma and approximately 75% will develop allergic rhinitis. This suggests a possible correlation between the type of bacteria in the gut and the presence of atopy. Several studies have been conducted to prove this theory correct using probiotics.

Probiotics are “live organisms” which when taken orally, provide significant benefit by rebalancing the good and bad gut microflora. The gut has 400 trillion good bacteria and is up to 3000 square feet in surface area (as an adult). The good bacteria in the gut are responsible for healthy post-natal development. There are estimated to be 10,000-40,000 strains of good bacteria required to support healthy development of the brain, immune system and detoxification pathways with the research continuing to discover more interconnections. The numbers and types of bacteria in the gut is ever-changing due to their fast division rate and is strongly affected by the food we consume. In one particularly large study (215 infants aged 6-12 months), a comparison between formula milk with probiotic supplementation and formula milk alone was made and a series of health markers were monitored closely. Infants who received formula with probiotics showed a 46% reduction in the incidence rate of GI infections, 27% reduction in the incidence rate of the common cold and a 30% reduction in the total number of infections at the end of study period when compared to infants who were only fed formula (Maldonado et al J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr 2012).

Another large trial (454 mother-baby pairs), the Swansea Baby – Allergy Prevention Trial, was conducted to investigate the effect of probiotic administration in the prevention of allergy development in infants over 6 months and following up after 2 years. The results showed a 57% reduction at 2 years. This study was the first of this kind to show supplementation of good microbiota, for only the first 6 months of life, can positively shift the developing immune system to acquire the microflora as its own ultimately creating long lasting health benefits into adulthood. This finding is groundbreaking, as when starting to supplement with probiotics as an adult, the health benefits only last with continual probiotic supplementation (as seen in the research thus far.

Cough and colds are the most common infections we experience – often being a matter of “when” rather than “if”. Commonly adults catch a virus 2-3 times per year and children 3-8 times per year and probiotics have been shown to profoundly alleviate several aspects of inevitable annual sickness. The PROCHILD study evaluated 57 children aged between 4 and 6 years in a pre-school setting for 6 months and monitored illness. Total number of days with cold symptoms (sneezing, sore throat, cough, runny/blocked nose) had a 51% reduction in the probiotic group! The frequency of occurrence of cold symptoms reduced by 33% in the group taking probiotics. Most importantly, there was a 30% reduction in absence from preschool in the children taking probiotics! (Garaiova I et al 2014 Eur J Clin Nutr, doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2014.174)

The increasingly recognized profound impact that the microbiome has on human health cannot be underestimated – with impacts on virtually all aspects of human physiology.

Optimizing your child’s gut bacterial balance can be one of the most important things you can do to provide a foundation for health into their future. It is encouraged to talk to a naturopathic doctor or another health care professional who is educated in the latest research to help guide probiotic supplementation based on individual health needs. We are only beginning to understand the potential of this manipulation of gut flora and it provides a huge level of promise for the future.

Botanical Medicine and the Developing Immune System

 Herbal medicine has been used for centuries all over the world and contrary to some belief it can be very effective in supporting a newborn’s immune system in a very gentle and safe manner. The best way to prevent infection in an infant is to grow a healthy baby during pregnancy. A healthy baby is likely to have a well-functioning immune system with optimal resistance to illness. Good nutrition during pregnancy is one the most important factors in decreasing a baby’s susceptibility to infection.

An effective way to stimulate a newborn’s immune system as they fight off a general infection is the use of botanical herbs, which have the ability to do so in a safe and gentle way without taxing the body. Botanical herbs will decrease the duration and severity of symptoms during an infection while still allowing the normal immune response to take place without suppressing it. 

The following is a brief description of two herbs that the literature has found to be effective when treating general infections in newborns:

St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum): mainly known for its use as an antidepressant, antimicrobial, sedative and anti-inflammatory. In addition, to it’s commonly recognized use as an antidepressant, St. John’s Wort is also known to be a sedative and restorative nervine with a potent calming effect. Its antimicrobial properties make it very effective in the treatment of upper respiratory and intestinal infections. This herb is also particularly useful in the presence of inflammation. It may also be used as an earache oil to treat the pain as well as the infection associated with ear conditions in infants.

Echinacea spp.: Well known for its immune stimulating effects, it is also a very potent anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antioxidant. It can be very useful in treating upper respiratory tract infections as well as eye infections. As an alternative to providing this herb to the baby directly, a nursing mother can also take an Echinacea tincture some of which will pass through her breast milk to the baby.  Echinacea decreases the duration of colds and reduces inflammation both internally and externally, and enhances overall resistance to illness. This herb is safe for young children as long as the dose is appropriate for their weight.

The previous descriptions of probiotics and botanicals are not meant to serve as a prescription, please see your Naturopathic Doctor to learn more about safety and dosages.

Dr. Nadine Khoury, ND and Dr. Kate Mclaird, ND. 


Antibiotic resistance: Plummer et al 2005, Int J Antimicrob Agents 26; 69-74

 Anxiety: (Messaoudi et al 2011)

GI: ((Orel et al World J Gastroenterol 2014, Ghouri et al Clin Exp Gastroenterol 2014)

Blood pressure: (Khalesi et al, Hypertension 2014)

(Spergel JM et al, Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol 2010; Spergel JM et al, J Allergy Clin Immunol 2003)

 Atopy 2 fold (Pistiner et al, J Allergy Clin Immunol 2008)

 Naturally Healthy Babies and Children (Aviva Jill Romm; Pownal, Vt.: Storey Books, 2000, 2003).

 Medical Herbalism The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine (David Hoffmann, FNIMH, AHG; Healing Arts Press, 2003).


Protein Smoothies

I always recommend that my patients start their day with a healthy protein smoothie packed with nutrients, protein and fiber! This will balance your glucose levels throughout the day, it will support the detoxification pathways of your liver and you'll feel like you have more energy all day, not to mention help induce weight loss and kick start your metabolism for the day! 

My favourite protein powder is called Dream Protein-pure whey protein isolate. 

If you're someone who doesn't digest whey very well or if you are intolerant to lactose try hemp or green pea protein. 

My favourite green pea protein powder is called Paleo Cleanse by designs for health. 

Follow my Smoothie Recipe Board on Pinterest for my favourite smoothie Recipes!