Dr. Shalini Bhat

  • 5 THINGS ABOUT DAIRY YOU SHOULD KNOW

    myths about dairyWhat’s the deal with dairy? Should we eat it? Is it really unhealthy? What are the best alternatives? There’s a lot of confusion surrounding whether or not you should keep dairy in your diet, so let’s dive in!  Dairy is one of the top inflammatory trigger foods, alongside gluten, corn, soy, and sugar. In many people, it causes an inflammatory response, often leading to digestive problems like bloating, gas, constipation, and even skin issues like acne, dry skin and eczema.

    The Ugly Truth

    Believe it or not, less than 40% of people around the world can consume dairy products without showing some kind of symptom. This is in large part due to current (horrible) commercial farming practices worldwide, that only seem to get worse with time. In other words, it’s important to recognize that milk today is totally different than what your grandparents grew up drinking.

    So, as you navigate whether or not dairy is appropriate for your own personal diet, here are some facts we thought you should know:

    1. Dairy cows are injected with hormones and antibiotics

    Unfortunately, similar to other conventionally raised animals, most cows in North America are injected with growth hormones and antibiotics that consequently end up the in dairy we buy at grocery stores. Moreover, they live in terrible conditions and are fed GMO corn and grains that are covered in glyphosate (toxic pesticide), rather than grass that they would naturally eat in the wild. We recommend that if you’re having dairy, choose dairy that is 100% grass-fed and organic. These cows are drug-free and have been fed organic (pesticide-free) grass. OR, choose alternatives, like coconut yogurt and nut milk!

    2. Dairy is highly processed

    Raw dairy is a living food that contains beneficial enzymes and antibodies. For those who tend to feel bloated, raw dairy is often a better option as it’s generally better tolerated in the digestive tract. You can find raw cheeses from your local cheese shop. Unfortunately, most of the dairy we buy at the grocery store has been pasteurized and processed to kill germs, also killing off its nutrients. Don’t even get us started on other dairy items, like yogurt and pre-shredded cheese. Shredded cheese contains cellulose to keep the shreds sticking together, which comes from particle board or cotton (FYI cotton is one of the most highly pesticided crops). Yogurt is often loaded with added sugars, artificial sugars, colours and flavouring agents!

    PRO TIP: For those of you who are prone to bloating after consuming cheese, stay away from “newer” cheese like mozzarella, ricotta, cream cheese and whipped cream and stick to aged cheese such as fresh Parmesan (not the processed shakers off the shelf!).

    3. There are alternative foods just as high in calcium

    Calcium is essential not only for bone and dental health, but also plays a part in maintaining healthy blood pressure, heart health, body weight and more. For a long time, marketers and even doctors lead us to believe that milk was the best source of calcium we could get our hands on. The truth is, there are many other natural sources of calcium out there! Some examples you could add to your diet are almonds, almond milk, kale, collard greens, broccoli, spinach, coconut milk, and sesame seeds.

     

    4. Dairy consumption can cause respiratory issues

    Consuming milk and other dairy products has long been associated with an increase in mucous production and asthma. Studies show that A1 milk stimulates the gut glands and respiratory tract glands to produce excess phlegm, irritating the back of the throat. The research and opinions here are mixed, but these respiratory symptoms are often reported by those with dairy allergies/sensitivities, so it’s best to avoid dairy altogether for these groups.

    5. Skim milk is not a healthy choice

    From skinny lattes to low fat yogurt to half and half creamers, skim milk is a popular choice for some health and weight conscious people. But it’s not as healthy as you might think! Not only is skim milk the higher sugar choice, but it’s also highly processed and doesn’t contain any nutritional value. The vitamins found in milk (A, D, E + K) are fat soluble, meaning they need fat to be present to have any positive effect on our body. If you’re going to put cream in your coffee, for example, use a small amount of full fat cream. The skim versions (even half and half creamers) contain things like carrageenan and skim milk powder which are bad for our health!

    If you’re someone who experiences negative symptoms after dairy consumption, it’s worth looking into and taking it out of your diet. Optimizing digestion is one of Dr. Bhat’s favourite topics, especially as she herself has suffered from digestion woes! If you or someone you know is suffering, check out our 21-Day Clean Gut Detox program where she goes in depth with all her tips and tricks on bio-hacking digestion!

     

    About The Movement Boutique in Toronto – Pilates, Chiropractic, Functional Medicine

    TMB The Movement Boutique Located on Yonge Street in Toronto, The Movement Boutique serves the areas of Summerhill, Rosedale and Yorkdale with Pilates classes and much more. Our philosophy is centred on a holistic, multimodal approach to health, grounded in the latest therapeutic techniques and clinical research. Our approach: Optimal health cannot be attained through a single therapeutic lens; injuries are often the result of a constellation of lifestyle issues, including dysfunctional movement patterns, trauma, nutritional deficiencies or destructive habits of mind.

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  • BUG OFF: 7 Natural Bug Prevention Strategies!

    In the height of summer, many of us will be spending more time outdoors on patios, in backyards or up at the cottage. Sounds lovely, doesn’t it? But, don’t forget about our summertime friend: The mosquito! These pesky bugs can be a real BUZZ-kill when it comes to enjoying outdoor activities. Especially if you’re prone to getting “eaten alive”! Here we dive into these “skeeters” and discuss ways to avoid bites naturally as well as highlight the caution with which conventional bug repellents should be used.

    Pass (or pass on) the bug spray?

    In an effort to avoid mosquito bites, many people turn to conventional bug sprays, which contain toxic chemical-based ingredients, like DEET. DEET is widely available and might be considered the king when it comes to mosquito repellents, but it has a major downfall. Many studies show that it has harmful effects not only on our health but especially our children’s health. Studies show it can contribute to leaky gut, add to our toxic burden, and can irritate our skin and eyes.

    Fortunately, there are plenty of prevention strategies and natural alternatives to keep mosquitoes away that don’t involve ingesting and absorbing harsh chemicals into your body:

    1. Wear light coloured clothing:

    Light coloured, loose fitting clothing offer the greatest protection. Not only are mosquitoes more attracted to dark/bright colours, but tight clothing is also easier for them to bite through. Cue, more itchy bug bites!

    2. Stay indoors at dawn and dusk:

    Mosquitoes are most active at these times, so avoid being outdoors if you can. If you are going to bite the bullet, just make sure to wear a long sleeve shirt, pants and socks to protect your skin.

    3. Keep in mind that bugs are attracted to sweat:

    There’s a chemical in our skin that’s released when we perspire that these bugs seem to be drawn to, so avoid exercising or doing any strenuous physical activity when mosquitoes are most active.

    4. Drain any stagnant water:

    Mosquitoes require water to breed, so make sure to drain any sources of standing water around your house like pet bowls, gutters, garbage bins, bird baths and so on. Plus, stay away from ponds, fountains etc.

    5. Try a wearable:

    There are wearable repellents on the market like patches, bracelets and even stickers made with natural essential oils. At least with the patches, you wear them on a piece of clothing, so you’re not touching it. Another (totally not cute) wearable… a bug jacket made of a thin netting material.

    6. Change the air:

    Turn on a fan! When a fan is on pretty high, the mosquitoes can’t fly toward you! You can also try something like a natural citronella candle, a scent they don’t like!

    7. Try an all natural bug-spray:

    Try an all natural bug-spray:
    In combination with the above prevention strategies – try looking for bug sprays made with natural ingredients like essential oils, witch hazel, aloe etc. If you can’t find one in your area, try making one. There are plenty of natural “DIY” bug repellant recipes online. Who needs toxic chemicals when there are plenty of essential oils and plant-based ingredients that do the trick?

     


    About The Movement Boutique in Toronto – Pilates, Chiropractic, Functional Medicine

    TMB The Movement Boutique

    Located on Yonge Street in Toronto, The Movement Boutique serves the areas of Summerhill, Rosedale and Yorkdale with Pilates classes and much more. Our philosophy is centred on a holistic, multimodal approach to health, grounded in the latest therapeutic techniques and clinical research. Our approach: Optimal health cannot be attained through a single therapeutic lens; injuries are often the result of a constellation of lifestyle issues, including dysfunctional movement patterns, trauma, nutritional deficiencies or destructive habits of mind.

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  • 6 Tips for Safer (Healthier) Water Habits

    How to address toxins in water (and avoid them)

    Although we know that proper hydration is important to our health, most of us don’t put too much thought into our drinking water. If it’s the public water supply, then it MUST be regulated, right? And they wouldn’t sell bottled water if it was bad for our health, would they? Let’s take a closer look…

    What you don’t know about water

    The fact is, our public water supply is dangerous, and many people don’t know that it contains many toxins, heavy metals, pesticides, plastics, pharmaceuticals and other harmful compounds that can affect you and your family. In 2009, The Environmental Working Group conducted a 3 year study examining tap water throughout the United States. The results detected a shocking 316 chemicals, 202 of which were either not regulated or didn’t follow legal guidelines/regulations. These chemicals include heavy metals, pesticdes, plastics and even pharmaceuticals like pain killers, birth control and antibiotics..YUCK!

    Water health is more than what we drink

    Beyond the water we drink, there are many other ways we interact with water on a daily basis. It’s important that we consider all of these factors when deciding on what kind of water to use. Here are our top hacks to make sure you are using clean, healthy water:

    TMB’s 6 tips for safer water

    1. Switch to filtered water

    As we’ve mentioned, tap water is high in toxins such as heavy metals, pesticides and BPA’s that negatively impact our health. Contrary to popular belief, boiling is NOT the same as filtering; it does not kill the harmful substances in your water, so the next time you’re making a cup of coffee or steaming some veggies at home, remember that filtered water is the safer option. Don’t forget to use filtered water when making ice too!

    2. Opt out of using plastic bottles

    Not only are plastic water bottles an added expense, but they’re also bad for you AND our oceans. The industry is poorly regulated, which may help explain why a single bottle of water can contain up to 24,000 chemicals. Additionally, the plastic itself leaches into the water which is estrogenic and hormone disrupting. If you’re driving up to the cottage, or traveling, be extra careful about leaving plastic bottles in the heat of the car as this can enhance this process. Consider switching to glass bottles to lower these risks and to be more environmentally conscious.

    3. Avoid chlorinated pools

    Chlorine is a strong oxidizing agent and irritant used to disinfected swimming pools that has been linked to various health problems, including respiratory conditions and allergies. We recommend avoiding chlorinated pools as much as possible to reduce exposure. Chlorine acts like an antibiotic, so if you do swim in chlorinated water, shower off right after so doesn’t sit and absorb into the skin and disrupt your skin and gut’s microbiome.

    4. Use spring water when available

    Fresh spring water comes from a natural source in the earth that flows to the surface and is free of contaminants and is rich in minerals. Mineral-rich water often has a neutral or slightly alkaline pH, which has been shown to help neutralize acidity in the body, reduce free radical damage and help keep bones/teeth strong and healthy. If you’re a cottage owner, double check to see if you have access to spring water!

    5. Choose “alive” water vs. “dead” water

    Living water is water that has tumbled over rocks, waterfalls, streams etc, causing it to flow in specific ways and absorb the minerals & energy of the ground underneath it. As a result of this process, the water becomes more fresh, vibrant and energetically alive. Research shows that living water has anti-aging properties, can increase cell performance, enhance your energy levels and can benefit your overall health. If you don’t have access to spring water, you can throw a pinch of pink sea salt into your water to re-mineralize it since it comes from a natural, living source.

    6. Drink sparkling mineral water

    As you may have guessed from it’s name, sparkling mineral water contains a variety of health-promoting minerals, such as magnesium, calcium and potassium. It also contains bicarbonate which helps buffer acidity. Alkalinity has been associated with disease prevention and helps with blood sugar regulation. For all of you soda drinkers out there, opting for a sugar-free, unflavored sparkling mineral water (ideally in a glass bottle!) is a much healthier and safer alternative.

     


    About The Movement Boutique in Toronto – Pilates, Chiropractic, Functional Medicine

    TMB The Movement Boutique

    Located on Yonge Street in Toronto, The Movement Boutique serves the areas of Summerhill, Rosedale and Yorkdale with Pilates classes and much more. Our philosophy is centred on a holistic, multimodal approach to health, grounded in the latest therapeutic techniques and clinical research. Our approach: Optimal health cannot be attained through a single therapeutic lens; injuries are often the result of a constellation of lifestyle issues, including dysfunctional movement patterns, trauma, nutritional deficiencies or destructive habits of mind.

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  • 5 Easy Ways to Practice Mindful Eating

    dr bhat mindful eatingThe challenge of practicing mindfulness in the modern world

    For many of us, after a long, stressful, calendar-packed day, our instinct is to make a cocktail or snack and sit in front of the television to “relax” when we get home. In reality, this doesn’t help our mind or body unwind or de-stress at all. In fact, it can make us even more restless, keep our sympathetic nervous system activated and cause us to have difficulty falling/staying asleep. If we really want to feel optimally relaxed, we need to practice mindfulness.

    What is mindfulness?

    Many people associate mindfulness with zen, structured yoga & meditation sessions. Although meditation is widely-used and can be a big aspect of mindfulness, it’s not the “be all and end all” of it. Simply put, mindfulness can be defined as the physiological process of being present, un-reactive, and aware of your surroundings & experiences.

    Mindfulness trains our brain to find a place of calmness and focus so we can be more present in our daily lives. It can come in the form of writing in a journal, deep breathing, taking a walk, or simply being still and pausing what we’re doing to connect ourselves with whatever is infront of us. It’s being “unplugged”, living in the “now” and expressing gratitude, and more and more, science is showing that there are significant physical and mental benefits attached to it.

    How can mindfulness be applied to everything we do

    Mindfulness can be applied to everything we do. You’ve heard of “living in the moment” and sure, it might sound a little cliche, but it’s actually extremely powerful. By being present and “in the moment”, we can dramatically enhance our quality of life. One of the areas that we recommend using this approach and cultivating a mindful and intuitive practice is eating. When you think about it, we eat so often and have such abundant access to food resources that it’s often something we take for granted in our culture.

    Dr. Bhat’s top five tips to start implementing a mindful eating

    1. Prepare your own food

    Cooking for ourselves and preparing our own meals is a great way to teach our body to eat mindfully. During the process of chopping, peeling, sauteing etc, the visuals and smells will alert our brain which will signal the rest of our body to prepare for nourishment. When we prepare our own food, we’re usually also more grateful for it because we can better understand that it took time and effort to make.

    2. Put away electronics

    You know those ringtones, beeps, e-mails, and emojis? Well having those in front of us with food in the mix can lead to overeating and eating too quickly, which can have a negative impact on digestion. Take the 15 minutes out of your day while eating a meal to put away electronics!

    3. Sit down while you eat

    Studies show that when we sit down while we eat, we’re more likely to pay attention to the actual food that’s infront of us and express gratitude. It gives us the space we need to tune it with ourselves, recognize our hunger signals, and eat intentionally & slowly.

    4. Take in the food with all of your senses

    The next time you sit down for a meal, ask yourself the following questions: What is the colour of your food? What are the sounds you hear? Does it smell sweet or savoury? What does the texture feel like when you chew? Are there any ingredients or flavours you can identify? Doing this can not only give you a deeper appreciation for your food but also prepare your body for digestion.

    5. Practice “hara hachi bu”

    This is a Japanese practice used by the Okinawan people that promotes eating until you are 80 percent full. How many times do you finish a meal and say to yourself “I’m full!” – The goal of hara hachi bu is to stop eating BEFORE you reach this point. The Okinawan are known to be one of the longest lived, healthiest communities on the planet!

     


    About The Movement Boutique in Toronto – Pilates, Chiropractic, Functional Medicine

    TMB The Movement Boutique

    Located on Yonge Street in Toronto, The Movement Boutique serves the areas of Summerhill, Rosedale and Yorkdale with Pilates classes and much more. Our philosophy is centred on a holistic, multimodal approach to health, grounded in the latest therapeutic techniques and clinical research. Our approach: Optimal health cannot be attained through a single therapeutic lens; injuries are often the result of a constellation of lifestyle issues, including dysfunctional movement patterns, trauma, nutritional deficiencies or destructive habits of mind.

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  • 5 Myths About Sugar that You Need to Know

    What you don’t know about sugar and your health

    Sugar has a confusing reputation and it can be overwhelming to decipher what types are and aren’t healthy. Consuming sugar can affect everything from your mood, energy levels, quality of sleep, brain health, weight, and skin.

    Today we’re busting five popular myths about sugar that you might be surprised to learn!

    Myth #1: If it says “sugar-free”, it’s healthy.

    From children’s snacks to “health food” bars, many products out there are labeled as “sugar-free”. Keep in mind that just because it’s marketed this way, it doesn’t mean it’s necessarily healthy, which is why it’s essential to carefully read labels.

    Often when packaged foods are classified as “sugar-free”, sugars have been replaced with artificial sweeteners (such as aspartame which is a known neurotoxin and often found in gum) and fruit juice concentrates that can increase blood sugar, sometimes even more than sugar itself.

    Myth # 2: All sugar is bad, even fruit.

    Fruit can be a sneaky sugar source because it contains fructose, but it’s also full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that nourish our bodies. Like anything else, it should be consumed it moderation, but if you’re debating between eating a candy bar or an apple, go for the apple!

    If you have any insulin-resistance or aches and pains, look for deeply pigmented, smaller-sized fruits that are higher on the NDI (nutritional density index) and lower on the glycemic index such as berries and seasonal fruits. If choosing higher glycemic fruits such as mangoes and grapes, choose smaller portion sizes to avoid spiking blood sugar.

    Myth #3: Natural sweeteners are always a healthier alternative.

    While natural sweeteners, like honey and maple syrup, contain health enhancing amino acids and antioxidants, it’s important to make sure that you are buying high quality products coming from a reliable source that vigorously test their products. As there is little government regulation, beware of low-grade commercially produced honey found in most grocery stores, as it is often stripped of it’s nutritional value, and can even be laced with high fructose corn syrup which is detrimental to our health. Erythritol, on the other hand is a TMB approved option – It’s 100% natural, sourced from monk fruit and has zero impact on our glycemic index (aka it won’t raise our blood sugar).

    Myth #4: Stevia is better for you than sugar

    Stevia (the herb) has been used medicinally for centuries, but it has only been used as a sweetener alternative in recent years. Although it’s natural form is generally considered healthy, stevia in the white powdered form goes through almost a dozen steps to turn it into what we use it for, including chemical processing and bleaching.

    Myth #5: Fruit juice is a healthy drink

    At the end of the day, sugar is sugar, and whether or not it’s from a natural source, it’s still going to spike your blood sugar and be processed by the same metabolic pathways in our body. Fruit juices contain high amounts of sugar, and even though they may contain vitamins, minerals and other healthy components, they should be consumed in moderation. Moreover, many brands even ADD sugar to their juice! As an alternative , eat whole fruits, which are generally lower in sugar and a much healthy option.

    Busting sugars about myth can help improve your health

    We hope you can take these myth-busting facts with you the next time you head to the grocery store! Remember, when it comes to sugar, don’t believe everything you hear, do your research, and always read labels.

     


    About The Movement Boutique in Toronto – Pilates, Chiropractic, Functional Medicine

    TMB The Movement Boutique

    Located on Yonge Street in Toronto, The Movement Boutique serves the areas of Summerhill, Rosedale and Yorkdale with Pilates classes and much more. Our philosophy is centred on a holistic, multimodal approach to health, grounded in the latest therapeutic techniques and clinical research. Our approach: Optimal health cannot be attained through a single therapeutic lens; injuries are often the result of a constellation of lifestyle issues, including dysfunctional movement patterns, trauma, nutritional deficiencies or destructive habits of mind.

     

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  • The Secret to a Flatter Stomach Plan and Improved Fitness

    How to get a flatter stomach and lose weight with less effort

    Ever feel like you’re putting so much effort into counting your calories and getting your cardio in? What if we told you that when it comes to your fitness, less can be more? And when it comes to calories, more can be less! Intrigued? We thought so!

    A popular myth when it comes to fitness is…

    Everyone likes to exercise differently but if you’re a high intensity cardio junkie, avid spinner, or bootcamp addict, you may be surprised to learn that repetitive high intensity workouts might not be doing you any favours when it comes to losing weight or achieving your fitness goals. Moreover, counting calories can sometimes make us avoid nutrient-dense foods necessary for building muscle tone/repair and helping our body burn fat for fuel.

    The idea that we need to be going hard with cardio workouts and limiting our calories is outdated and old school! Excessive cardio and limiting your calorie intake can tax your adrenals and cause a shift in cortisol levels, which signals your body to enter “fat conservation mode”. We’re not saying your workouts shouldn’t include cardio – they definitely should! But there are factors we need to be mindful of to ensure we’re getting the most of it and reaping the benefits.

    7 simple ways to optimize your workouts and get a flatter stomach

    Here’s what you can do to optimize your workouts and support your fitness goals as we get closer to summer:

    1. Practice active recovery

    In order to repair micro-tears, restore glycogen fuel stores, and ensure our muscles are recovering properly, it’s essential for our body to rest. If we don’t, our muscles can actually weaken from being tight and overused. This makes us more susceptible to injuries and depleted of energy when it’s time for our next workout. With that being said, a rest day doesn’t have to mean being a couch potato – It can still include moving our body, but we can engage in lower intensity physical activities such as walking, gentle Pilates, yoga, stretching or foam rolling – This is what we call active recovery!

    2. Work smarter, not harder

    This is our philosophy at TMB. It means incorporating slower, more focused movements that activate multiple fascial sleeves and muscle groups simultaneously, which will help you tone and sculpt three dimensionally. You can blow through 500 calories in a spin class, but it will also cause your cortisol levels to shift and for those of us who are already stressed, this can put the body in a catabolic state, which means it will start breaking down the muscle you’ve been trying to build.

    3. Get into a “Gain” mindset

    Let’s be honest, cardio culture is often built around tapping into our body insecurities to get us to lose more, get skinnier and sweat ourselves away. What if instead of focusing on losing, we focused on gaining? If cardio is something you truly enjoy doing, try switching your mindset away from that negative “less-than” self-talk to empowering reasons like building endurance, releasing endorphins and fostering mobility.

    4. Stress less

    Stress leads to a rise of cortisol in the body and when cortisol metabolism is imbalanced, you could have a tougher time losing weight. One way to balance your cortisol levels is by engaging in daily relaxation techniques that put you in a calm, meditative state. Research shows that simple things such as meditation, yoga, an Epsom salts bath, and breath work are all beneficial ways to de-stress and put your mind/body at ease. Try setting a timer on your phone to remind yourself to take 3 deep breaths daily!

    5. Schedule your workouts appropriately

    Did you know that regular exercise can also promote a deeper, more restorative sleep? The problem is, we have to be careful of the timing of our exercise. If we exercise too close to bedtime (especially if it’s a high-intensity workout like cardio), it will get our adrenaline pumping, which can actually keep us awake and interfere with our sleep. While we always promote moving your body on a daily basis, try to exercise earlier in the day to prevent adrenaline and cortisol from affecting you at night and save the lighter exercises, like yoga and stretching, for the evening.

    6. Choose the right exercise for your cycle phase

    Ladies, listen up! Did you know that you can have more successful workouts if you plan them according to your cycle? The type of exercise you should be doing when you’re ovulating is different to what you should be doing in the days before your period. Studies show that days 7-14 of our cycle are when we have the most energy, so this is when we should engage in more intense workouts. Days 1-7 (menstruation), we’re better off practicing low intensity movements and sneaking in some active rest days.

    7. Acupuncture Treatments

    Many athletes and active individuals rely on acupuncture to support the function of their body. Not only does it minimize muscle and joint pain, but it also reduces inflammation, improves circulation, enhances energy, builds endurance and shifts us from our sympathetic state into a parasympathetic state. The former is the part of the nervous system responsible for our “fight or flight” functions, whereas the latter is our body’s “rest, digest and heal” mode.

     


    About The Movement Boutique in Toronto – Pilates, Chiropractic, Functional Medicine

    TMB The Movement Boutique

    Located on Yonge Street in Toronto, The Movement Boutique serves the areas of Summerhill, Rosedale and Yorkdale with Pilates classes and much more. Our philosophy is centred on a holistic, multimodal approach to health, grounded in the latest therapeutic techniques and clinical research. Our approach: Optimal health cannot be attained through a single therapeutic lens; injuries are often the result of a constellation of lifestyle issues, including dysfunctional movement patterns, trauma, nutritional deficiencies or destructive habits of mind.

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