The Real Plant-Based Diet

Everyone, all the time: You're a Naturopathic Doctor, you must be vegan?

Me: No, I am not… And here’s why:

It's all in the semantics.

I do eat a plant-based diet, however, the plant-based diet that I eat, may be different than what you think.

Eating a "Plant-based diet" means that the majority of food you eat comes from plants. Simply put, the “base” of your diet is made up of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, some grains and other substances grown from the ground. I eat this way and I recommend that my patients eat this way.

But what about meat?

Most people can benefit from having some animal products, while leaving plants as the "base" of their diet.

For example, beef can be healthy, especially if you eat your beef with a pile of green leafy vegetables. Dairy can also be healthy, especially if you eat it with a ton of berries, seeds, and/or nuts. Eggs can be healthy as well, especially if eaten with some blanched spinach or kale… The list goes on.

The caveat of the above healthy plant-based (and non-vegan) options, is that by volume, you should be consuming far more plant than animal products. The more plants the better, really.

Another way to re-frame your thinking when prepping your next plant-based meal, would be to use animal products as a condiment or side-dish to your plant-based plate, rather than the staple of the meal. For instance, instead of having "pork-chop Tuesday", have "roasted beet, arugula salad with almonds and a side of pork Tuesday". By changing the way you think about food in prepping your meals, you can change the way food impacts your health.

If plants aren't the base of your diet, I recommend that you make them the base of your diet. Your arteries, liver, digestive, immune system and more will thank you.

Happy plant-based eating!

Dr. Oake

Recovery Sleep Doesn't Work

Are you one of those people who burns the candle at both ends all week and then sleeps until noon on weekends, “just to catch up”? 

Well, there’s been recent research which clearly says you should reconsider this strategy.

One of the known risks of chronically poor sleep (which includes weekend binge sleeping, or “recovery sleep") is a decrease in metabolic control. By that, I mean hormonal and behavioural changes. These include the way your body handles sugar, poorer decision making, increased food intake, higher smoking rates, and greater alcohol consumption [1]. In other words, it’s the reason you hit the diner down the street on Saturday afternoons for the “bacon, eggs and half-price bloody caesars”.  

Unfortunately - and perhaps not surprisingly -  your risk for diabetes and obesity increase [1,2] with these changes. 

So poor sleep leads to more than just a feeling of being tired. Way more.

If you’re wondering "why can't I make up for poor weeknight sleep on the weekends?". Unfortunately there isn't a concrete answer, but we do know the impairment in blood sugar control isn't remedied if you "make-up" for your sleep [3]. Not surprisingly, this study saw implications for hormonal control and behavioural changes in participants, providing more evidence that multiple factors are in play. 

Another proposed factor is a disruption in the bodies natural sleep-wake cycle, or the Circadian Rhythm. Humans are not nocturnal, despite generations of club-goers trying to make themselves believe they are. We are hardwired to live by the sun - thousands of years of hunting and gathering made us this way. Messing with that schedule confuses our bodies. So when the sleep phase is delayed, you may have a hard time initiating or maintaining sleep. 

The best fix is a good sleep routine throughout the week, especially if you want to improve your blood sugar regulation. 

Happy sleeping y'all,

Dr. Oake


"Moo"ving Towards Better Bone Health

Love them or hate them, dairy products are a food staple for many different cultures around the world. Specifically, milk; that sweet, thick, nectar that just a generation ago was labeled as one of the healthiest beverages for all aged individuals to consume. Milk is commonly thought to help "maintain healthy bones". But really, how true is that statement?

      One of the main reasons milk is believed to benefit bones is because of its calcium content. However, the "calcium for bone health" myth has been fairly well debunked. Dietary calcium has been shown -- in the form of dairy specifically -- to have no effect on the risk of bone fractures. Yes, you read that right, dietary calcium does not play a role in preventing bone fractures[1]. If you drink milk just because you think the calcium is helping your bones, you might as well stop. 

  Some studies do show a positive trend toward better bone health with dairy consumption, but I will argue that it's likely from protein in the milk, and not the calcium. Long-term consumption of good quality protein sources (poultry, fish, eggs, and legumes) leads to decreased bone fracture risk [2, 3]. 

    So, we've determined that milk isn't that great for bone health, but are you ready for the real kicker? High milk consumption can increase overall mortality in women by 93% compared to low milk consumption. This works out to a 15% increased risk of death (from any cause) per cup of milk per day [4]. Of course these study results should be interpreted with caution since self-reported milk consumption measurements are less-than-ideal for research accuracy.

    The question remains, how do I improve my bone health? The best way to prevent fractures and improve overall bone health is to stay active. Weight bearing activity helps build bones and prevent falls by improving balance and improving muscular strength. Stick to a Mediterranean-style diet (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, poultry, fish, nuts, legumes) as this has been linked to lower fracture risk [5]. Also, stop thinking that you need to get calcium for your bones, and start thinking you need to live an overall healthy lifestyle, with a whole foods-based diet and lots of exercise. 

    Think twice about your milk consumption; it's not as helpful to your bone health as you may have thought.

Thanks for reading!


Sugar Makes Kids Hyperactive?

April fools! (albeit a bit late)

Despite popular opinion, sugar does not make kids hyper. 

Before you get all, "Well, when my kids have sugar they go off the wall", on me, let me point out what the majority of research on this topic says: for otherwise "healthy" children, sugar does not play a role in behaviour changes or cognitive ability [1]. However, for children who have been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), sugar and other foods may play a role in behaviour changes or cognitive ability [2]. 

But what about those parents that swear sugar makes their kids hyper?

It's an "expectancy effect". Let me explain using an example from the research: there are two groups of children with their mothers separated into two groups. The mothers of one group were told that their children were receiving a sugary snack, while the other group was told that their children were receiving a placebo snack (something that tasted sweet but was free of actual sugar). However, both groups received the placebo snack. The results showed that the mothers who expected their children to have consumed sugar rated their children as being more hyperactive [3]. Hence, the "expectancy effect"; parents generally expect that sugar leads to hyper kids, so they perceive their children’s behaviour as hyper.

I'm not saying that your kids behaviour doesn't change surrounding sugar intake. I'm saying it's not the actual sugar that's causing it. It's actually the birthday party, the trip to the movie theatre, or getting dressed up like their favourite superhero that changes their behaviour and causes them to have a bit more positive energy. 

I'm also not saying that sugar is a healthy option; there are many other reasons not to give your child sugar, like obesity, diabetes, and fatty liver disease to name a few. 

So, the next time your child has some sugar, don't blame the sugar for their increased mood. Blame the happy circumstances that brought about the occasional unhealthy treat. 

Thanks for reading!


The Healthiest Diet in the World


Vegetarian? Vegan? Low carb? Low fat? Ketogenic? Paleolithic?

There are arguments for each of these being the healthiest diet, and proponents of each will be quick to point them out. But who is right? Which diet is truly the best?

Unfortunately, the answer to this question is "it depends". My patients hate hearing it, my friends hate hearing it, and I assume you hate hearing it. This is the closest thing to the truth we have in the diet and nutrition world. How healthy a diet is completely depends on the person. For instance, one person may do well on a diet that includes whole grains, fish, and red meat while the next may feel terrible eating these same things. It depends on each person's metabolism. 

With that caveat out of the way, I am going to propose Dr. Harrison Oake’s Best Diet in the WorldTM. 

1) No Processed Foods

Go back to the list of eating styles above and think of what each of them have in common: first, they limit - or completely eliminate - processed foods. Processed foods are bad - just ask anyone who works in the healthcare system. Processed foods are bad for a myriad of reasons, starting with their ingredients. Salt, for instance, has been vilified for a long time and over-consumption of it has been associated with increased mortality. And guess what?  High sodium levels is a marker for high processed foods intake (it's not necessarily the salt that's bad though). 

2) Caloric Restriction

There’s lots of research that shows the majority of us consume more calories than we need. So cutting calories should be a major part of any healthy diet. It alone can lead to weight loss, which although not the only marker for health, it's one of the big ones. Caloric restriction has also been shown to increase lifespan in animal studies. 

One thing low carb, low fat, ketogenic, and Weight Watchers, all have in common? Caloric restriction.

3) Eat More Plants

Even if you think you're eating enough vegetables and fruit, eat more. Organic, non-organic, whatever - just eat more of them. I don't think I need to go into the specifics as to why, since we've been told by grandmothers for generations to eat our greens.

4) Enjoy Your Food

Finally, and potentially the most important, enjoy your food. If you love cheesecake, have some every once in a while. If you love chocolate, by all means have some. (Just take it easy with these things). Lots of people will set unrealistic goals for their diets. These people are prone to fall off the wagon in short order.  Eat what you love. Just don’t overdo it.

There you have it, Dr. Harrison Oake’s Best Diet in the WorldTM. Eat this way and you're sure to feel better and live longer. You’re welcome.

Dr. Oake


When Exercise Fails You - The Answer You Never Thought You'd Receive


Let me present you with a scenario:

You're in or approaching your 30's. Despite your efforts to be healthy you've always struggled with your weight. Over the last few years you have made dramatic changes in your life, and reached a ton of fitness and health goals. But still, you can't seem to lose those daunting extra few pounds. You keep pushing yourself to eat less, exercise more, but it's to no avail. You start to think: "Have all of the internet fitness guru's been lying to me?" 

In short the answer is no. They aren't lying to you. Believe it or not, sometimes the answers to your wellness woes don't lie in the bottom of an empty protein shaker bottle or a sweat covered treadmill. Sometimes the answers lie in your body's unique physiology (ie. the inner workings of your cells and tissues). 

Let's take a step back for a second, and look at this through an evolutionary lens. Your body is designed to be really, really good at storing excess fuel (hence the obesity epidemic in developed countries). Back in early Homo Sapiens evolution, our body's proficiency at storing excess fuel helped us along during tough times. Think food scarcity and famine. Without this ability, humans as a species would have been just a part of evolutionary history ... kind of like the dodo birds. 

Still looking through this evolutionary lens, over the years our physiology hasn't changed that much. Our response to stress is the same, whether we're running away from lions or rushing to meet a deadline. One of these responses is a burst of cortisol - our stress hormone.

The problem arises when too much cortisol is secreted for too long. Back in the days of Neanderthals, if you were hunting for your weekly food supply, your stress was increased (which helps in the hunt), but once the hunting was done, your stress went down. Compared to nowadays with our daily and even hourly deadlines, maybe you meet them, maybe you don't -either way, there is always another deadline. Our body's response is the same in these two instances, except one is prolonged. 

To understand why this is an issue, you must understand the role cortisol plays in a normal functioning system. We have cortisol receptors on almost every tissue in the body, so it's effects are very diverse. Notably, it has an effect on our immune system, controlling salt and water balance and most importantly in this case, regulating metabolism. Too much cortisol in the system for too long can lead to increased fat accumulation, skin changes, and low energy. 

The caveat here is elevated cortisol, or a disruption in it's normal cyclical pattern, can cause dysfunction. Commonly, cortisol is increased with stress from work, life, AND ... Too much exercise with too few calories. I bet you didn't see that coming!

This is something I have seen many times in clinical practice - someone who keeps pushing the boundaries of caloric intake vs expenditure. 

To put it simply, here's the fix: exercise less, eat more, but you really should consult your Naturopathic Doctor before doing so. 

So, did exercise fail you? 

No, it was the millions of years of evolutionary prowess built into your genes getting the best of you. 

Thanks for reading,

Dr. Oake


Beat the Holiday Hang-Over with The Pre-Game IV

Vitamin Mineral nutrient IV's

It's official, the holiday party season has started. From boozy egg nog to candy cane daiquiris (I assume this is a thing), the holiday season is not short of libation. But that doesn't mean you have to suffer. 

Gone are the days of raw eggs and a "hair from the dog that bit you" the morning after. Here are the days where prevention is the name of the game. 

My first suggestion is to take it easy on the mulled wine and "White Christmas Martini's". However, if you're not interested in taking it easy, try a pre-game-hangover-prevention-nutrient IV bag. 

It's full of high doses of B-vitamins, electrolytes, and a bunch of other good stuff to help your body process the extra brews you may consume. 

Why do it before you ask? First, who wants to leave their house after a long night of festivities? And second it's good to make sure you are topped up with these important nutrients before you start sipping the gin and juice. 

Disclaimer 1: You must have lab work and a visit with one of the Certified Naturopathic Doctors here at Valero Wellness before you can receive treatment. 

To book an appointment call the clinic at (226) 774-5888.

Happy holidays!

Insect protein: The real deal or just crickets?


How about a big bowl of toasted crickets for breakfast?

The first time I heard of insect protein as a dietary supplement was a few years ago. At that time it was said to be much more economical than any other protein sources: it's renewable and may be just as good as other sources (more on that in a moment).

First of all, insects have been a part of the diet in many cultures for a very long time - we're talking thousands, if not tens of thousands of years. Take a walk through the night markets of Bangkok or Seoul, and you’ll find a variety of bugs on offer - like crunchy fried scorpions or steamed silkworm larvae.

But for most North Americans, the idea of scarfing back a cup of bugs as an on-the-go snack is disgusting. Fortunately, there are now insect protein options available that are more appealing to our palates.

In the case of insect protein supplements, crickets are the mainstay. According to one Canadian company appropriately named "Crickstart", crickets are easy to farm, provide lots of protein, and most importantly require fewer resources to grow. Crickets prefer to live in tight quarters, piled on top of one another, something that would never work in the cattle industry. So the process of producing insect protein is much better for the environment.

But how effective are insects as a source of protein?

Whey protein has been shown to be the best source of protein followed by caseine, egg and soy. For more on this, check this great resource. A recent study of insect protein looked at amino acid blood levels, an indicator of how well a protein is absorbed, and compared it with whey and soy. The study found insect protein raises blood amino acid levels at a level comparable to soy protein.  

So it’s good, but not as good as whey. But if you are dairy sensitive and want to try something other than the terrible tasting vegan proteins available, consider insect protein. (And don't try to tell me they taste good, I won't believe you). 

Happy cricketing!

Dr. Oake


The Truth About Sports Drinks


I live near a high school and the start of the school year inevitably brings more traffic to my neighbourhood. The other morning, while walking my dog, I passed a young man on his way to school. He was guzzling a Gatorade, at 7:30 in the morning.

I wonder if he thinks Garorade is healthy?  Many people think these sport drinks are good for them thanks to aggressive marketing that relates these beverages to athletic performance.

But the fact is, a bottle of this drink contains 35g of sugar. That’s almost 3 tablespoons in a single serving.

Granted, there have been studies showing that carbohydrates-laden sports drinks help athletic performance[12]. Which makes sense since carbs provide fuel for exercise. In this case the carbohydrate comes in the form of sucrose and dextrose. Your body absorbs this type of sugar very quickly, which results in a relatively immediate energy boost.

But the benefits end there.

We do know that the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages leads to an increase risk of type 2 diabetes [3], obesity [4], non-alcoholic fatty liver disease [5], and cardiovascular disease [6]. We know consumption of sports drinks specifically leads to an increase in BMI[7] and that adolescents accessibility to them also leads to higher BMI [8]. So why are parents still willing to buy these for their kids? And let them drink it for breakfast?

So what if a parent only gives sports drinks to their kids when they are participating in athletic activities?  Most children aren't highly trained endurance athletes, running 15 km time trials in the heat - those people might benefit from the electrolytes or whatever else Gatorade claims to provide. But I should point out that Gatorade doesn't supply the ideal form of carbohydrates and electrolytes nor does it provide nearly enough of them.

Alternatively, you can make your own sports/electrolyte beverage. Here is a great recipe. 

The takeaway: A child attending gym class or playing a game of hockey should stick to water. As should everyone.

If you have any questions about how you can reach your greatness, don't hesitate to book an appointment, contact me, or stop by the clinic.

Thanks for reading,

Dr. Oake


Bright Lights, Big Fatigue


We all go through periods when we don't quite get enough sleep: a new baby, a busy period at work, exams…there are as many different reasons as there are people. 

The best fix is making sleep a priority - set a sleep schedule, establish a bedtime routine, and learn some pre-La-La-Land relaxation techniques. But let’s face it, with today’s lifestyles, it isn’t always possible to prioritize sleep.  So what can you do?

First off, with less sleep, the first thing to go is mental capacity, or cognition. You process information slower, you are less creative, and you may notice mood changes. If you are losing sleep from something that is unavoidable and hopefully short term, there are some things you can do to minimize some of the cognitive deficits. 

Our natural sleep-wake cycle, or circadian rhythm, is at the heart of it. The physiological basis for this lies with two hormones: melatonin and cortisol. Melatonin is the trigger for sleep, cortisol is the trigger to wake up. Our eyes are intimately related to this cycle, and specifically to our exposure to light and darkness. Melatonin is stimulated by exposure to darkness; minimizing your light exposure at night (including TV and cellphones) is a great idea. If you have a hard time turning off your devices at night, a less-than perfect alternative is using some blue light blocking technology; the iPhone has something called "Nightshift" built in that changes the colour of light the screen emits. On my computer I have an app called "f.lux", which does the same thing. 

Falling asleep in the dark is not a foreign concept to a lot of people, but exposure to bright light in the morning often is. Bright light in the morning can help stimulate proper levels of cortisol and improve mental functioning [2]. If you’re a late riser and the sun is up, it can be as simple as going outside or opening your blinds. If you are an early riser, getting some bright artificial light might be enough. You could go as far as purchasing an alarm clock that mimics the sun rising, it wakes you up slowly with light, or light therapy glasses

Regardless if you had a poor night sleep or not, many people will still get the dreaded mid-afternoon energy dip. It typically happens after you've eaten lunch and need to get back to work. Bright light can help here too. Before or during that post-lunch dip, getting some bright light exposure (either artificial or natural) can help mitigate that cognitive decline [3]. 

In a nutshell, bright light (blue light) during the day, and dim light (orange light) at night can have a profound impact on your sleep. Try it for a week and let me know how you feel. 

If you have any questions about how you can reach your greatness, don't hesitate to book an appointment, contact me, or stop by the clinic.

Thanks for reading,

Dr. Oake


Why High Performance Athletes Need Naturopathic Doctors


High-level performance athletes have teams of people to support them. I'm sure it’s no surprise to you that trainers, physiotherapists, or chiropractors are on those teams. But it may be surprising to you to learn that, more and more, Naturopathic Doctors (NDs) like myself are playing integral roles in the team helping athletes achieve peak performance. Here's why

1. We Are Experts in Nutrition

Nutrition plays a big role in reaching athletic goals, but there is a huge disconnect between what athletes are doing, and what we know works. To confuse matters, not every diet will work for every athlete. No, the Ketogenic diet isn't for everyone. Personalizing your diet to fit your individual goals, needs and wants is something NDs excel at. 

2. We Are Experts in Supplementation

There are very few athletes out there who don't take supplements. The unfortunate part is many aren't taking the right things, at the right dose. NDs are trained to know what works, how much of it works, and how it applies to your individual case. For example, you may be taking a supplement that works for a 400-800m sprinter, but you're a strength athlete; I see it all the time. A Naturopath is one of the only professionals with a deep knowledge of supplements. Get a Naturopath's opinion before you start taking a supplement, you'll save time and money. 

3. We Don't Just Work on the Physical

Many professionals gear their service towards the physical nature of sports. By that I mean designing an awesome training program, providing exercises to help improve muscle imbalances, and treating injuries as they arise. As a Naturopath I do all of those things, but I also work on your body on a smaller scale; from a physiological level. Helping you absorb more nutrients from your food, using those nutrients more efficiently, and improving your performance from the foundations right up to the peak. 

4. We would rather prevent an injury than treat one

The best treatment is no treatment, by that I mean prevention. There are many specific strategies that can help you decrease your risk of injury; lifestyle, training, diet, and supplements all play a role. NDS can help you stop the things that might cause injury before they become issues. 

5. We know what to do if you get injured

Despite our best efforts, sometimes injuries are unavoidable. When that happens, an ND can help decrease your recovery time and get you back to fighting strength sooner. An ND will use our wide knowledge of nutrition and supplements coupled with physical therapies to get you better, faster. 

Naturopathic doctors fill a void in the sports and athletic industry.  We provide evidence-based performance enhancing care that is hard to come by but crucial if you want to perform at your best. Let an ND help you become the best athlete you can  by having one at the heart of your sports therapy team. 

If you have any questions about how to reach your full potential, don't hesitate to contact me, book an appointment, or stop by the clinic.

Thanks for reading,

Dr. Oake


Is It IBS or Not?


So you've been given a diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Beyond emergency bathroom visits, what does that mean? And what can you do about it?

First of all, your diagnosis was most likely based on something called the ROME IV criteria, a set of rules used by clinicians to classify a diagnosis of a patient with a gastrointestinal disorder. ROME IV is the latest iteration of the criteria, produced by the Rome Foundation, an independent, not-for-profit organization dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of gastrointestinal disorders.

Your IBS diagnosis is based on a constellation of common symptoms that together define the syndrome. According to the ROME IV criteria, the signs that define IBS include abdominal pain at least one day per week related to defecation (i.e. pooping) accompanied by frequent diarrhea or constipation and changes in bowel habits. Symptoms usually are experienced as acute attacks that subside within one day, but recurrent attacks are likely. There may also be urgency for bowel movements, a feeling of incomplete evacuation, and bloating.

While the cause of these symptoms varies from one person to the next, there are some common themes among IBS sufferers.

The first is dysbiosis, meaning, a disruption in the healthy bacteria that live in the digestive tract. Over the past few decades we have learnt more about the crucial roles those bacteria play in a robust digestive system.

Dysbiosis includes the potential cause of many IBS cases, Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO). In a nutshell, the small intestine is supposed to have small amounts of bacteria, while the large intestine holds the bulk of the bacteria. When too much begins to grow in the small intestine, you may experience bloating, diarrhea, or constipation (sounds a lot like IBS right?)

Other themes include inflammation, nutrient deficiencies, food sensitivities, and gut motility issues. All of these likely play a role in the cause of many IBS-like symptoms.

So where do you go from here?

Well, the best place to start is figuring out the leading causes of your symptoms; this includes considering a combination of your medical history, lab tests, and physical exams.

Once the cause or causes have been determined, a treatment plan can be developed.  Treatment for GI dysfunction almost always includes a lifestyle change: stress management, diet, exercise, all of it. It’s not a magic pill, but it gives you your best chance of long-lasting relief. Also, there are some specific naturopathic strategies, like herbal preparations, supplements and acupuncture that can be very helpful. 

For more information, don't hesitate to contact me by phone or email, book an appointment, or stop by the clinic.

Thanks for reading,

Dr. Oake


I've Got Some Big News


I am all about constantly learning, improving, and challenging yourself. This has been a big part of my practice, for my clients and myself.

That's why I am happy to announce that I will be teaming up with 3 other fantastic Naturopathic Doctors at a brand new clinic in Lakeshore, Ontario (see the bottom of the post for the full address). The new clinic is called Valero Wellness. 

I love the idea of having access to three other perspectives; when it comes to patient care, collaboration is always the best for the patient. 

What's changing?

Apart from the change in location, I am adding some new and exciting therapies. 

Intravenous Infusions

IV infusions are a great therapy for a wide array of people and conditions. The infusions include vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, and can be included in any health and wellness plan. They are especially helpful for stress, immune support, energy, and performance optimization. Specifically, they can be a part of treatment plans for chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, Lyme disease, cancer, irritable bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and so much more. 

I am very excited to be able to offer IV infusions to my patients. 

Infrared Sauna

Saunas have been used for hundreds of years and their truly amazing health benefits are just starting to be discovered. They have been shown to improve recovery after endurance exercise (1), can help improve pain in rheumatoid arthritis (2), can improve cholesterol levels (3), and can decrease your risk of a heart attack (4). All from what is widely considered a relaxing spa-like activity. 

Fully Stocked Natural Dispensary

I'll have access to a much wider range of products than what I can carry currently. This makes treatments easier for you and me. It also gives you choice; we can decide on the perfect option for you all conveniently located right at the clinic. 

Community Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a great therapy that can help a wide array of people. With all of my therapies, I try to make them as financially friendly as I can. With acupuncture, the more frequent the treatments, the better the results, driving the price up pretty quick. A fantastic solution is community acupuncture; it involves many people receiving acupuncture at the same time. The ultimate goal is to make acupuncture more accessible.

With these changes and additions, I hope to continue to grow, but more importantly, I hope to help more people reach their desired level of health. 

For all booking inquiries call: 226-774-5888 or contact me directly with the button below. 

Thanks for reading,

Dr. Oake, ND


P.S. The new address is:

480 Advance Blvd - Unit 200                                                                                Lakeshore, ON                                                                                                                    N8N 0B7                                                                                                                                    P: 226-774-5888

Instead of caffeine, try this


Caffeine is the most widely used substance for performance enhancement, in sports and everyday life. Most people have used it at some point for a short-term energy boost. For good reason too, the science backs it up for endurance, strength, and mental performance (123). Unfortunately, we don't all process caffeine to the same degree; some of us are "fast metabolizers" and some of us are "slow metabolizers".

Fast metabolizers are those whose liver processes caffeine twice as fast as slow metabolizers. Think of the person who can drink coffee before bed and still sleep like a baby, that's a fast metabolizer. However, the slow metabolizers are actually at an advantage; they can consume caffeine and get the full performance benefits. Fast metabolizers might not get a mental or physical boost. 

If you think you're a fast metabolizer, get unpleasant gastro-intestinal side effects from caffeine, or just want to try something else to get that quick energy boost, consider Rodiola rosea

Although the research isn't as robust for Rhodiola as it is for caffeine, it's been used for thousands of years. One of its first uses was to help combat altitude sickness in those who lived in the mountains of West Asia. Since then it has been categorized as an adaptogen, which is a herb that helps you adapt during stressful situations. 

Rhodiola has been seeing an increased use in sports performance circles and the science backs it up too. Rholdiola may be most effective if you use it for an extended period of time (2-4 weeks), however, it has been shown to work short term with benefits on physical and mental endurance (4567). Don't think of it as a replacement for your morning espresso (nothing replaces that!), think of it as an add-on before your workouts, as a boost before a big meeting, or to combat those afternoon energy dips.


I'd recommend making an appointment with your favourite Naturopath to make sure Rhodiola is right for you. I carry a liquid version, but you can find it at most supplement stores or buy it from me here: 

The next time you find yourself reaching for that extra cup of coffee, maybe consider Rhodiola rosea instead. 

If you have any questions about how to reach your full potential, don't hesitate to contact me, book an appointment, or stop by the clinic.

Thanks for reading,

Dr. Oake


Complementary versus Alternative Medicine


Many people describe what I do as “alternative medicine". While this is somewhat true as it is indeed an alternative approach to medicine, it also creates some incorrect perceptions to what I do as a naturopathic doctor.

For one thing, “alternative medicine" leads one to believe a choice needs to be made between naturopathic medicine and conventional medicine. This could not be farther from the truth. Every well-trained naturopathic doctor (ND) will prefer to work hand-in-hand with a medical doctor (MD); conversely, every good MD should be willing to work with an ND; the end result is the best care for our shared patients. There are things MDs can provide that NDs cannot, and things NDs can provide that MDs cannot.

For example, NDs spend more time with each patient to get to know your individual needs and the nuances of your situation. An initial appointment with an ND like me is typically up to an hour. MDs face system-imposed time pressures that NDs do not. We will spend time discussing diet, lifestyle, and many other things that may be missed in an MDs office due to these time constraints.

An MD on the other hand, can take advantage of our OHIP system and get much needed lab tests, imaging, and prescribe life saving medication and treatments when needed. 

When it comes to actually describing what I do, I prefer the term “complimentary medicine"; I provide care that complements what you may be receiving from your MD. Although certain conditions can be treated solely with naturopathic medicine, it is best to have both sides working in tandem to get the best results. 

There are those who argue that complimentary medicine is best, and those that argue conventional medicine is best. I don't argue this point - I argue that both are necessary to give my patients the care they seek and deserve.  

If you have any questions about how to reach your full potential, don't hesitate to contact me, book an appointment, or stop by the clinic.

Thanks for reading,

Dr. Oake


BCAA's: Are They Worth the Hype?


Go on any health or body-building site and you'll read about “branched chain amino acids" (BCAAs). They're a sports supplement used by many and touted as a required supplement in your "stack”. 

But what are BCAAs? Do they work? Should you buy them? 

Before we get into BCAAs specifically, it's important to understand what amino acids (AA) are. They are the building blocks for basically everything in our bodies. If you think that sounds a lot like protein, you’d be right. That's because amino acids are protein - protein is just a bunch of AA attached to each other. In general there are two types of amino acids, non-essential and essential. Our bodies make non-essential amino acids on its own, whereas essential amino acids are required in our diets. Of the essential amino acids, there are 3 that have a branched structure - these are the BCAAs. 

BCAAs have received a lot of attention in the medical, health, and fitness industries over the years. 

It started with the observation that the three BCAAs are mainly metabolized in the muscle tissue, not the liver like the other AA. This got researchers interested in determining what role they play in muscle function. Eventually, the BCAA leucine was found to have a stimulating effect on muscle protein synthesis, or in other words, it is a direct signal for your muscle to grow. 

Of course this mechanism is of huge interest to the health and fitness industry, but is there any evidence to back it up?

Unfortunately, not much. 

When you compare BCAA to placebo use after exercise, you do see a benefit in terms of muscle soreness, recovery time, and muscle performance [1, 2]. This does make sense, since its compared to doing nothing. Once you compare them to doing something else, like a carbohydrate or protein for example, you see there is actually no difference [3, [4] . Which also makes sense. 

The lack of strong scientific support for an additive effect of BCAA to a regular healthy exercise routine is not surprising. You get all the amino acids you need (branched and other essentials) from a healthy diet and supplementing with a protein if you choose.

The biggest claim to fame for BCAA is that they stimulate muscle protein synthesis (MPS). The secret to MPS is keeping yourself fed so you have the substrates for building. Leucine signalling alone is not enough to build muscle, you need all of the other amino acids along with the signal. Again, a real food source of protein is better. 

If you have ever tried an unflavoured BCAA you’ll know it's unpalatably bitter. That's why most of the BCAA supplements on the market are heavily flavoured, coloured, and sweetened. 

Overall, BCAA's are not as an important for your exercise, fitness, or health routine as many people think. You'd be better off putting the money you spend on BCAAs into high quality food or protein powder. 

If you have any questions about how to reach your full potential, don't hesitate to contact me, book an appointment, or stop by the clinic.

Thanks for reading,

Dr. Oake


Bone Broth: Good For You, But How Good?


Bone broth. Some say it's the elixir of the gods, with benefits ranging from healthy skin to improved immune function. But how good is it? And what is bone broth anyway?

First off, bone broth is different than stock and regular broth. The most important difference is the length of cooking; stock is cooked up to 2 hours, broth 4-6, and bone broth 24-48 hours. The reason for the long cooking time is to get as much of the nutrients out of the bones as possible. This is believed to be the reason it confers all of the health benefits you'll read about. 

This long cooking time makes the bones leach out high amounts of collagen, the main structural protein in our bodies responsible for making healthy joints, skin, and all other connective tissue including your digestive tract. It's also thought to be a good source of glucosamine and chondroitin, the classical joint support supplements, as well as vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes.

For these reasons, bone broth is being toted as one of the healthiest things to consume.  

Unfortunately, there really isn't evidence to support many of the claims for bone broth specifically. 

Most of the research you will see investigates individual components included in bone broth, like collagen supplements for example. There is research to show that collagen can improve skin health (123), but no evidence to show bone broth has this ability. There is research to show that collagen, chondroitin, and glucosamine can help with arthritic joint pain (4), but again no empirical evidence to show bone broth does.  Finally, there is also research to show that gelatin may have an effect on human digestive tract cells (5), but again no evidence that bone broth helps in this regard. 

It's not that I don't love bone broth or think it is an extremely healthy food to consume. I do, but I also think there is too much hype - as is often the case with these “superfoods” (see the recent fuss about apple cider vinegar). 

As a naturopathic doctor, I counsel my patients to be realistic. It's not a miracle cure for whatever ails you; it's a great part of a more complete treatment plan, and a really easy way to catch the cooking bug. Whenever I recommend it, I am honest about the benefits; it is a long-term lifestyle change and the benefit may be very subtle yet important. 

Three tips for making your own bone broth:

The key to a good bone broth is choosing the right type of bones; the really cartilaginous bones like knuckles are great since they have a lot of collagen. 

It’s okay to mix the type of bones in your broth - beef, pork, venison, etc. More types, more better!

Add some vinegar or lemon juice and cook for at least 8 hours (24-48 hours is generally recommended) to elevate the pH in your broth [6]. 

If you have any questions about how to reach your full potential, don't hesitate to contact me, book an appointment, or stop by the clinic.

Thanks for reading,

Dr. Oake


The Key To Our Digestive System


Digestive issues are one of the most common complaints seen in any doctors office. They also tend to be very complicated. That's why seeing a Naturopathic Doctor can be so helpful; we spend the time to figure out your complex issues. Since it's a complicated system, certain aspects can get missed. 

One aspect of the digestive system that often gets overlooked is the mucous lining. It's exactly what it sounds like: a lining of mucus that covers the inside of your digestive tract. I know, sounds appetizing, but it's a bonafide superstar of your digestive health and therefore your entire health. 

The mucus lining is the unsung hero of your digestive tract: Why is this slimy structure so important?

It houses your good bacteria.

Gut flora, or good bacteria, has been a hot topic in health and medicine for a while now. Like any living thing, they need to be nourished and given a place to live. That's where the mucous lining comes in; it's where they reside. If there isn't a healthy lining, fewer will be able to live happily. It won't matter how many billion you take, what strains you take, or how much money you spend, if your lining isn't healthy, they won't survive. 

It's where your immune system interacts with the "outside world”.

The mucus lining also provides a space for the immune system to interact with pathogens.  Specialized cells will "sample" molecules and either initiate an immune response (so they can recognize it the next time they come across it) or develop tolerance. If this mucus membrane isn't healthy, this interaction is subpar; the pathogens could easily slip past the immune cells, causing allergies, sensitivities, or intolerances. 

It's your first defence against harmful pathogens.

Our immune system is made up of many different types of cells; one of the first-line defenders is Immunoglobulin A or IgA. It is one of the most abundant immune cells, and is present on all mucous membranes. It functions by attaching itself to potentially harmful molecules and preventing them from entering circulation. This is one way your gut lining is connected to your immunity - poorer mucous membrane means less space for IgA to function. 

How do you fix a dysfunctional gut lining? Like anything else, in order to build it, you have to take away the things that will knock it down. In the case of the mucous lining, food sensitivities, processed foods and certain medications are the major demo crew. So avoiding or limiting those things are a good idea. 

If you're one of those people who have a hard time digesting raw fruits and vegetables, it may have something to do with your gut lining. Although they are considered a healthy food, if they aren't being absorbed they aren't helping. Allow your gut to heal by eating well cooked veggies and avoid bothersome fruit for a while.

You can make some food choices that can help repair your gut lining. One of my favourites: bone broth. Either chicken or beef, homemade or responsibly purchased. It is a great option to help replenish electrolytes, provide cofactors for growth, and support the immune system. Watch my blog for a piece in the coming weeks on this amazing food.

And then there is the supplement side of things: it depends on the individual. I always focus on the lifestyle options first, and add supplements if we think they could help.

Key takeaways: Don't ignore the symptoms of poor digestion, consider all parts of digestion, and remember Rome wasn't built in a day, it takes time to reach your full potential. 

If you have any questions about how to reach your full potential, don't hesitate to contact me, book an appointment, or stop by the clinic.

Thanks for reading,

Dr. Oake


The Saturated Fat Myth


As a Naturopathic Doctor, whenever I talk to patients we always end up talking about their diet, and inevitably get into a conversation about the three main macronutrients: carbohydrate, protein, and fat. When we get to fat, I frequently encounter patients who misunderstand the connection between its intake and health. This misunderstanding has a lot to do with erroneous media reports, based on a legacy of bribery and fraudulent research practices. 

First, the truth about fat: With the exception of trans fat, all fats are a healthy part of a balanced diet, including saturated fat.

Trans fat, or trans-unsaturated fatty acid, is an artificially created fat and was originally designed to keep food from going rancid. The terms “hydrogenated" or "partially-hydrogenated" are often used in conjunction with trans fat as that's what the process involves, adding hydrogen. These fats are created by pumping hydrogen molecules into vegetable oils. This process makes the fat shelf-stable. That’s why it’s usually found in fast food and pre-made desserts. This is good for business, but not good for your health. Research has linked it to heart disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, arthritis and numerous other diseases [1].

Saturated fat is naturally occurring and found in all of those foods you used to be told were bad for you, like animal products such as beef, pork, full-fat dairy, and coconut oil. These also happen to be some of the most delicious. They are called “saturated" since all of the molecular bonds are occupied, saturated with hydrogen. 

The misunderstanding that saturated fat is bad began in the 1960's when research was done into the connection between dietary factors and cardiovascular events. Early research concluded saturated fat and cholesterol were the main culprit in heart disease. August institutions like Harvard University and respectable journals like The New England Journal of Medicine published the research, lending it credibility.  This research carried on until the early 90’s.

During that 30-year span, dietary guidelines were released recommending avoiding all saturated fat, and replacing it with carbohydrates and food laden with sugar. Seems crazy now, but this is what following the best evidence looked like at the time. 

But this research shouldn't have been trusted. Why? The sugar industry was funding it.

In November 2016, The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) released documents which showed that researchers were being paid by the sugar industry to obscure the relationship between sugar and heart disease, pushing them to blame saturated fats instead.

Don't believe me? Here’s an account of what happened [2]. It reads like a crime novel. 

But the widespread belief that fat is bad is hard to erase. The sad fact is, the sugar industry’s diversionary strategy was successful.

But the current science shows that the main culprit in heart disease is sugar consumption. And many of us get too much sugar from sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) [3,4]. SSBs include popular brands like Coke, Sprite, sweetened iced teas, and even juice. To compound the problem, those who drink SSBs may have a less-than ideal diet in other ways, like high trans fat consumption. 

What should you conclude from this story?

Consume as little trans fat and pop as possible (none preferably), and don't be afraid to eat red meat, butter, and any other saturated fat. It's as much a part of a healthy diet as fruits and vegetables - just enjoy everything in moderation. 

If you have any questions about how to reach your full potential, don't hesitate to contact me, book an appointment, or stop by the clinic.

Thanks for reading,

Dr. Oake


The Science Behind ZMA is MIA


Walking down the sports aisles of your favourite supplement store, it's not hard to get over-whelmed with all the different products boosting unbelievable advantages. One of the products that many websites and some experts will endorse is ZMA. The ingredients are zinc monomethionine aspartate (hence the name), magnesium aspartate and Vitamin B6. 

It's not a supplement I recommend, and here's why. 

ZMA burst onto the market in the late 90's and came armed with some research to support its use. This research found that those who took it had a 33% increase in both total testosterone and free testosterone, and a 15% increase in muscle strength. These results sounded pretty good. But a closer look reveals there is definitely a bias in the research, not to mention a questionable cast of characters behind it.

One of the research authors was Victor Conte. If you followed the Major League Baseball steroid scandal in the 2000's, you may recognize his name. Conte was the man behind the BALCO lab that was implicated in the doping of Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi, and Marion Jones among others. He also had a trademark on the "ZMA" name, so he had a direct financial gain by finding positive results for his formulation. A big red flag in the world of research. 

The other author, Dr. Lorrie Brilla, worked for a ZMA manufacturer. Can you say, "conflict of interest”?

Assuming these results were found without bias, they should be reproducible; one of the most important aspects of the scientific research method. In this case, the same results were not found when the study was replicated. There were no enhancements in blood magnesium, zinc, testosterone, or any other hormones measured. Nor was there a strength benefit. And the group doing this research also had a reason to find positive results, it was funding by Cytodyne Technologies Inc, a company that manufactures sports supplements. This makes the results much more trustworthy. 

ZMA, although endorsed by many, is likely not all it's chalked up to be. Be aware.

If you have any questions about how to reach your full potential, don't hesitate to contact me, book an appointment, or stop by the clinic.

Thanks for reading,

Dr. Oake