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Acne, Anxiety,Depression, and Digestive issues

Dr. Jacalyn Sieben – April 2020

It’s ALL connected. It is well-recognized that digestive health issues commonly occur with mental health and skin issues.

The gut-brain axis is now well-established and the influence of digestive health on mental health (and vice versa) has become a huge area of interest in recent years. The proposal of a gut-brain-skin axis through which alterations in gut health affect skin health is now gaining popularity in the literature, though the concept has been around for some time.
The gut microbiome (friendly microbes inhabiting your digestive system) has a significant role in this connection through nutrient & neurotransmitter synthesis, pathogen defence, and immune & endocrine (hormone) signalling. When our guts are a mess from illness, poor dietary choices, stress, lack of sleep, alcohol consumption, or use of certain medications, it can lead to inflammation within the gut and disrupt the normal balance of friendly microbes. Inflammation and imbalance in the gut eventually leads to inflammation and imbalance elsewhere, contributing to anxiety/depression, acne, and other health concerns.

Your gut health is foundational to the proper functioning of all body systems and your skin is an important indicator of your gut health. Topical treatments can work well to keep skin conditions at bay, but a proper work-up to find and treat the cause can help you find a more long-term solution. 


Seasonal Affective Disorder & The Sunshine Vitamin

Dr. Jacalyn Sieben, ND – November 2019 

Vancouver is famous for our rainy weather. Once summer ends, it’s hello to umbrellas and rain gear. The days get shorter, the sky gets cloudier, and for some, our moods change to match the dreary season. If you are prone to getting the “winter blues” when the rainy season begins, you may be experiencing what’s known as Seasonal Affective Disorder.

What is seasonal affective disorder?

Also termed “S.A.D.”, Seasonal Affective Disorder is a form of depression that typically occurs in the winter months when our exposure to sunlight is limited. Approximately 2-3% of Canadians will experience S.A.D. at some point and 15% more will experience a milder version of the condition.

There is a natural tendancy to slow down in winter compared to the high energy lifestyles we tend to carry on in the summer months. However, if you notice you are feeling particularly low or experiencing the following signs & symptoms it might be time to consider consulting a Naturopathic Doctor for an assessment.

Signs & Symptoms

  • Feelings of hopelessness & sadness
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Oversleeping
  • Cravings for sweet or starchy foods
  • Weight gain
  • Fatigue/low energy
  • Decreased physical activity
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Increased sensitivity to social rejection
  • Avoidance of social situations

It is currently thought that a combination of physiologic, psychologic, genetic, and environmental factors play a role in S.A.D., one of them being Vitamin D deficiency.

Vitamin D – The Sunshine Vitamin

Vitamin D, which actually functions more like a hormone, acts on receptors in every tissue in the body including the brain and immune system. As it is a fat-soluble vitamin, we get it through diet from sources such as fatty fish (sardines, salmon, tuna), eggs, and liver; and are also able to synthesize it through our skin when we get sufficient exposure to the sun. As such, Vitamin D levels have been shown to fluctuate with exposure to sunlight. Levels decline from fall to winter, and are naturally lower the further north you live from the equator.

Vitamin D has many functions within the body. It is needed for calcium absorption (healthy bones), healthy immune function, and also has a role in the release of dopamine and serotonin-signalling molecules that, in the brain, are associated with drive, pleasure, and happiness.

So, how much Vitamin D do you need?

Health Canada recommends a daily intake of 600-800 IU’s of Vitamin D daily. However, according to their statistics, most Canadians are not achieving this. While we know sunlight does provide Vitamin D, here in Vancouver, our cloudy climate and northern location are presumably inadequate to make up for the insufficient dietary intake in the winter months. Vitamin D levels also decrease with age, skin pigmentation, liver and kidney disease, obesity, certain medications, genetic mutations, and other conditions.



Genetics and Diet

Can your genes determine your ideal diet?

Dr. Tomah Phillips, ND – August 2019 

There are countless diets to choose from and they all claim to be the best. However, we know that the same dietary regime doesn’t work for everyone – Why is that? The answer may lie in your genes.

 Individual genetic variations can affect how people respond to the foods, beverages, and supplements the consume. Until very recently, it was too costly to sequence an individual’s genome. However emerging technologies have brought the cost down and have allowed us to develop a new field of research known as nutrigenomics. 

Nutrigenomics is the study of how individual genetic variation affects a person’s response to nutrients and impacts the risk of nutrition-related chronic diseases.

We all have what are called single nucleotide polymoprphisms, or SNPs (pronounced “snips”), and these small variations help explain why some people can’t tolerate even a sip of coffee, while others could have a doubles espresso before bed and fall asleep with no problem.

We are pleased to offer the Nutrigenomix 45-gene personalized nutrient panel that answers these questions and many more: 

  • How much coffee can I drink?
  • Should I avoid dairy?
  • Is a gluten-free diet right for me?
  • Do I need to consume more Vitamin C in my diet?
  • Am I at risk of Vitamin B12 or iron deficiency?
  • Is a low carb diet right for me?
  • Am I better suited for endurance or strength exercises? 
  • Should I be supplementing my diet with nutrients like glutathione to optimize detoxification?

The test is simple and non-invasive, only requiring a saliva sample. The report includes a full analysis of 45 genes related to weight management, nutrient metabolism, heart health, food intolerance (genetic likelihood of lactose and gluten intolerance), eating habits and physical activity.

If you are interested in the Nutrigenomix test to optimize your health with personalized nutrition and supplementation, you can book in with one of our Naturopathic Doctors to discuss if it is right for you!



(604) 742-0702


4168 Dunbar Street Vancouver BC V6S 1N8