How to choose the right sunscreen

You may have heard that you should wear sunscreen everyday, but with so many to choose from how do you know that you are choosing the safest and most effective sunscreen? With summer around the corner, now is a good time to start using sunscreen if you haven’t started already. But where to begin?

The best place to start is to read the list of ingredients. Your skin is your largest organ so it’s important that you protect it and use a product that is safe! The products that you put on your skin can be absorbed into your body and this is no different for sunscreen!

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Here are the top tips you need to know when choosing a sunscreen:


1. Choose a mineral sunscreen.

Try and find a mineral sunscreen that contains zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. These active ingredients create a barrier to protect your skin from the sun and can block both UVA and UVB damage. They are safe, effective and don’t break down in the sun.


2. Avoid oxybenzones

Oxybenzones were found in 2 out of 3 sunscreen products in 2019. They commonly cause allergic reactions and are easily absorbed through the skin. They are potentially a hormone disruptor and may be connected to changes in testosterone levels (Ghazipura, et.al., 2017). These ingredients are also harmful to the environment by decreasing egg production in fish at high concentrations (Coronado, 2008) and by bleaching coral reefs (Danovaro, 2008).


3. Avoid aerosols and use sunscreen creams.

The number of sunscreen sprays are on the rise and these sunscreens can easily be inhaled, which can be harmful.


4. Find a sunscreen with an SPF between 30 and 50.

To properly protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays, you must wear a sunscreen that has an SPF (sun protection factor). A Sunscreen with an SPF above 50 is not necessary and may mislead customers with a false sense of security (EWG, 2019). It’s important to apply your sunscreen 30 minutes before going into the sun and to keep reapplying throughout the day! There are two types of harmful UV rays:

a. UVA: which can penetrate into the dermis and can lead to premature aging.

b. UVB: will usually burn the superficial layers of the skin.

The SPF value is a better measure of how well a sunscreen shields the skin from UVB rays, rather than UVA rays, so it’s important to look for a sunscreen that offers protection for both.


Are you curious about how your sunscreen rates against others? Click here to see!


References:

  1. Coronado, De Haro, Xin Deng, Rempel, Lavado, Schlenk (2008). Estrogenic activity and reproductive effects of the UV-filter oxybenzone (2-hydroxy-4-methyoxyphenyl- methanone) in fish. Aquatic Toxicology 90(3): 182-187. Retrieved from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0166445X08002798

  2. Danovaro, et. al., (2008) Sunscreens cause coral bleaching by promoting viral infections. Environ Health Perspect 116(4): 441-447. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2291018/

  3. EWG (2019) Environmental Working Group. Retrieved from: https://www.ewg.org/sunscreen/report/executive-summary/

  4. Ghazipura, McGowan, Arslan, Hossain. (2017) Exposure to benzophenone-3 and reproductive toxicity: A systematic review of human and animal studies. Reprod Toxicol 73: 175-183. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28844799

Is Weight Loss Simply Calories In VS Calories Out?

“It’s just calories in vs calories out.”

While the simplicity of this statement is appealing, there’s a lot more to successful weight loss than decreasing your caloric intake and increasing your exercise to create a caloric deficit. Why doesn’t this theory of simple math hold up?

  1. Not all calories are equal. Fats contain 9 calories/gram and carbohydrates contain only 4 calories/gram, but increasing your carbohydrate intake (especially processed carbs) by 1% increases your risk of obesity, while increasing your fat intake by 1% decreases your obesity risk. Different macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats, proteins) are metabolized differently in the body and set off different chain reactions. Some promote weight gain, while others support weight loss. No single group is strictly good or bad, but processed carbohydrates are more likely to promote fat deposition when eaten in excess.

  2. Your energy expenditure (calories out) isn’t static. Restricting your caloric intake results in a proportional decrease in energy expenditure. This makes you feel cold, tired, and weak, and makes it more likely you’ll regain the weight you do lose.

  3. Your metabolism is also heavily influenced by many hormones. Ignoring a hormonal imbalance and focusing solely on calories alone won’t get you very far.  

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So, if it’s not all about calories, what’s preventing you from losing weight when you’re eating nutrient-rich foods and exercising regularly?

The three of the most common weight loss obstacles I encounter in my practice are: high stress, poor sleep, and eating too frequently.

Prolonged stress increases hormones (namely cortisol) that promote cravings for sugary and fatty foods, and disrupt hormone signalling (of insulin, thyroid, and growth hormones) to increase fat accumulation, especially in the abdomen. Higher cortisol levels also increase your risk of metabolic and cardiovascular disease. Lowering and managing your stress is one of the best things you can do to improve your overall health and support weight loss! Exercise, deep breathing, meditation, and time spent outdoors are all helpful.

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Similarly, lack of sleep can throw a wrench in the works. Even just one week of insufficient sleep can increase fat mass. Over the long term, too little sleep promotes increased hunger, disrupts blood sugar regulation, and promotes loss of muscle-mass rather than fat-mass. So, what’s the magic number? This can vary, but 7 hours nightly is a good rule of thumb.

And finally, when you eat is as important as what you eat. Our bodies rely heavily on insulin to regulate blood sugar levels and fat storage. Eating too frequently – snacking consistently or eating late into the evening – leads to chronically elevated insulin (and eventually insulin resistance) which promotes weight gain and impairs weight loss. Your body needs breaks between meals. Cutting out snacks and fasting overnight for a 12-hour period can be good places to start. Although, certain conditions (eg. diabetes, hypoglycemia, and pregnancy) can require more frequent nutrient intake, so be sure to discuss this with your doctor.

If you’ve been working hard to lose weight with little success, take a look at your stress level, sleep, and meal timing. And if you’d like some additional support, seek out a Naturopathic Doctor, we’re always here to help.

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What do I do after a car accident?

One inherent risk of driving on our roads is the possibility of having an accident. Although they happen daily, the majority of people do not end up with injuries that require treatment. However, if there are aches and pains that do not appear to be resolving or improving week to week, or if you’re having difficulty returning to work and other activities of daily living, it’s best to seek out a care plan from a rehabilitation professional.

There have been several recent landmark changes to ICBC’s health coverage for those injured in a motor vehicle accident no matter who is at fault. There is now treatment coverage that is pre-approved for all the following services for 12 weeks post accident: Physiotherapy, Chiropractic, Massage Therapy, Counselling, Psychology, Kinesiology, and Acupuncture. Importantly there is no longer a user-fee to access these allied health professionals, meaning, there is absolutely no cost to those injured in the accident. 

You do not need a referral for these services, you can access them directly. What this really means is that it will take you less time to find a practitioner who can go through a thorough examination with you, determine a diagnosis, and most importantly a plan of care. During your session, you can expect to be provided education, advice, and movement strategies to get your injury on the road to recovery. Many of these injuries have a two to three-month recovery timelines, so patience, perseverance, and a bit of work is to be expected. Nonetheless, it is now easier than ever to access the services you need to reach your goals.

Should I stretch before I run?

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Running is a safe and effective form of exercise that results in endless amounts positive health benefits. There are often questions though on how someone should warm-up prior to the run and historically this has been a no-brainer to answer. Many of us were taught that you need to do a proper warm-up prior to running and that required us to thoroughly stretch the lower body prior to hitting the road or the trail. But does the evidence back this up? Does stretching truly prevent running injury or increase performance?

The short answer no. There have been a large number of reviews since the late 1990’s that attempt to answer this question and found that there is no reduction in injury risk with static stretching immediately before running. In fact, some reviews have suggested that there might be a slight increase in injury risk due to reduction in performance measures. Why the reduction? One theory is that stretching temporarily reduces pain with end of range positions and could cause us to overstretch without realizing during exercise. Further, authors suggest that static stretching doesn’t seem to help with running tasks since we don’t need to reach end of range positions, but might be more helpful when you need maximal flexibility (think gymnastics or dancing).

“there is no reduction in injury risk with static stretching immediately before running”

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How does stretching affect running performance? Again, there isn’t great news for static stretching immediately before running. There seems to be a reduction in various measures of performance - speed, strength, jumping ability and endurance. Why are there potential reductions in performance measures? Stretching may temporarily reduce the stiffness of tendons in the lower body and some stiffness is actually advantageous for runners! Think of having a stiff versus a loose trampoline spring, which one would provide more bounce? Likely the stiffer the spring. Again a certain degree of tightness is actually helpful for running providing more spring and forward propulsion in runners steps.

“Think of having a stiff versus a loose trampoline spring, which one would provide more bounce?”

Well now the question becomes: what should we do prior to running? What is an effective warm-up? Doing some dynamic exercises may be more helpful in increasing blood flow to the muscles that are being utilized during running. This could be done using slow controlled mid-range movements such as squats, lunges, calf raises, high knees, butt-kickers, etc. Another effective warm-up is to simply go for a slow (sub-maximal) jog prior to going on your normal run. For example, if your normal pace is 5 minutes per kilometre, you could start with a short run at a slower pace - 6 minutes per kilometre - and then start at your normal pace. Always keep it simple, the most important thing is to get your body moving and warm prior to any exercise routine.

For all runners, very effective strategies that reduce the risk of injury come in the form of good training load monitoring and muscle strengthening exercise which has been written about in more detail here. Does that mean we completely discard static stretching? I would argue not. To be clear, the above recommendations are specifically for stretching immediately prior to running. There is reason to believe that having a general stretching routine is helpful for reducing injury risk to muscle, ligaments and tendons. One such protocol suggests stretching key muscle groups for 30 seconds at a time, which I believe is a good starting point if you are wanting to start a stretching program.