Why Am I so Tired? Key Points to Boost your Iron Levels

Frustrated Woman at Computer With Stack of Paper

Fatigue is a very common complaint I receive from my patients. There are various reasons why one may be tired and ruling out low iron stores is an important step in helping my patients feel more energized!

Iron is a key player in the body, leading the way for several imperative physiological functions, including carrying oxygen to your red blood cells and producing adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is vital for cellular energy. Low levels of iron are associated with fatigue, decreased athletic performance, concentration, mood and even increased hair loss.

Before supplementing with iron it is best to have your blood levels checked via blood. This can be done by having your health care provider request a ferritin blood test.

Why Boost Iron Levels?

Aside from fatigue, low iron has other implications in the body:

  1. Depression: A recent study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found an association between depression and decreased ferritin levels!


  1. Thyroid: Adequate iron levels are also necessary for proper thyroid production (a major component to your metabolism).


  1. Weight gain: According to recent research low iron levels can also have an impact on your waistline. A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, looked at adolescents between 9 and 13 years of age for body fat and visceral fat (otherwise known as fat around the organs in the abdominal area), along with measurements of iron status. The subjects with the highest percentage of body fat and visceral fat mass were over two times more likely to have low iron stores.


  1. Determining your risk factor: Ferritin is considered an iron-storage protein that keeps the iron in a dissolvable and usable state, which also makes the iron non-toxic to cells around it. A blood test for ferritin measures the iron that is readily available for use. Although ferritin levels above 12 are often considered “fine”, optimal levels in women should be close to 70 and 100 for women. Women with heavy menstrual bleeding are more susceptible to low iron levels, which makes it one of the top must-have blood tests.

How to Increase Iron Absorption

Taking iron away from meals (20 minutes before or 2 hours after) can enhance the absorption of iron. Additionally, taking 1000mg of vitamin C at the same time iron is taken, significantly improves the absorption of iron.

If you are taking calcium supplementation, take your iron at lunchtime and your calcium before bed. This schedule works even if you are on thyroid medication and take it in the morning, since both iron and calcium will reduce the effectiveness of your medication if they are taken to close together. It may take months to get your ferritin levels up, so diligence is key.

Did you Know?… There are many other ways to get your iron aside from red meat! Take a look at the chart below for other great sources of iron.


Vegetarian Sources of Iron

Source Serving Size Amount of Iron per serving
Spirulina 1 tsp. 5 mg
Cooked Soybeans ½ cup 4.4 mg
Pumpkin seeds 1 ounce 4.2 mg
Quinoa 4 ounces 4 mg
Cooked Spinach ½ cup 3.2 mg
Lentils 4 ounces 3 mg
White beans ½ cup 3.9 mg
Blackstrap molasses 1 tbsp 4 mg
Swiss Chard 1 cup 4mg
Kidney Beans 1 cup 3.9 mg
Tempeh 1 cup 4.5mg


 Want to know more? Book an appointment with a Naturopathic Doctor!

What Exactly is Naturopathic Medicine?

As Naturopathic Doctors, we understand that many people are slightly confused as to how we practice. We are not homeopathic doctors (a common misconception) nor are we herbalists or nutritionists.  However, as Naturopathic Docotors we can offer you a tremendous benefit in improving your health by using Nutrition, herbs, diet & lifestyleDSC_0638.

What is Naturopathic Medicine?

Naturopathic medicine is a distinct primary health care system that blends modern scientific knowledge with traditional and natural forms of medicine.Naturopathic medicine is the art and science of disease diagnosis, treatment and prevention using natural therapies including: botanical medicine, clinical nutrition, acupuncture, and prevention and lifestyle counselling. Naturopathic Medicine is covered by many medical insurance and benefit programs.

 What is the Education required to become a Naturopathic Doctor?

Becoming a licensed Naturopathic Doctor (ND) requires at least seven years of academic study. Licensed NDs will have completed a relevant undergraduate degree, followed by four years of rigorous training and practicum at an accredited North American institution for naturopathic medicine.. Once they become registered professionals, NDs are then required to maintain their competency with ongoing continuing education courses that must be approved by the regulator.

What can Naturopathic Medicine do for you?

In Ontario, Naturopathic Doctors offer alternative avenues for access to primary health care and health promotion. Naturopathic Doctors can provide early diagnosis of and treatment for many health-related conditions. Naturopathic Doctors can:

  • Requisition blood tests
  • Perform physical examinations
  • Create a personalized health plan for you
  • Order additional lab testing such as allergy, hormone (saliva) and urine testing
  • Vitamin B12 injections (upon completion of the prescribing examination)
  • Treating the patient with natural substances such as supplements, botanical medicines and nutritional foods
  • Acupuncture

How are Naturopathic Doctors Regulated?

Naturopathic doctors are regulated in Ontario under the Regulated Health Practitioners Act 1991, and Naturopathy Act 2007. As of 2015, The College of Naturopaths of Ontario is the regulating body for Naturopathic Doctors in this province.

Are you interested in exploring Naturoapthic Medicine? Or having an informative & fun wellness lecture at your place of work? Contact Infusion Health at info@infusionhealth.ca










This past Friday, I had the pleasure of talking to some wonderful woman at RBC about stress management and thyroid health. It still amazes me that so many people do not know about the MANY different tests available to investigate thyroid health. These tests help doctors and patients completely understand the functioning of this important gland. TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) is not the only test to investigate thyroid health, even though it is typically the only test run for thyroid.  If you would like to know more about the 6 informative tests read here: http://www.infusionhealth.ca/category/thyroid-health/.

As always, many people are interested in how to manage stress, but so many individuals (myself included at one time in life), despite knowing exactly what to do, choose not to take care of themselves. WE MUST PRACTICE SELF CARE!!! Stress, eventually, catches up with people. And long term stress can increase pessimism, anxiety and depression.

Interestingly enough, work appears to be the #1 source for Canadians.

The majority of highly stressed workers (62%) identified work as their main source of stress. Clustered far behind were financial concerns and not having enough time (both at 12%), family matters, and personal and other issues such as relationships, health and generalized worries These proportions are very similar to those reported in 2005(Stats Canada 2011)

A little stress can increase performance and help us carry out our necessary daily activities. However, long term stress can decrease our performance and can have significant effects on our mental and physical health.







By practicing self care and managing our stress we become happier, healthier more productive individuals.

Infusion Health specializes in helping corporations learn how to properly manage stress with diet and lifestyle interventions. We offer interactive seminars and provide in house Naturopathic Doctors (covered by most benefits plans:)

For more information, please email info@infusionhealth.ca

In Health,

Dr. Lipinski, ND

Natural Ways to Decrease Estrogen


Estrogen dominance has become common amongst many woman today. We are constantly exposed to toxins and pesticides that can disrupt on hormone balance, namely by increasing estrogens (or “xenoestrogens”) in our bodies. Read below to find out ways to naturally decrease estrogen/



  1. Increase Fiber Intake

A low-fiber diet causes estrogen levels to be higher, while a diet high in fiber results in decreased estrogen levels in the bloodstream. This is because excess estrogen is excreted in the bowel. When stool remains in the bowel for a longer time, as in constipation, the estrogen is reabsorbed. Studies have shown that women on a high-fiber diet have lower levels of circulating estrogen. High fiber foods: fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, chia seeds and flax seeds.


  1. Avoid Toxins (Xenoestrogens)

Xenoestrogens, such as PCBs, phthalates, pesticides and DDT, cause estrogenic effects. Although banned in 1972, DDT, like its breakdown product DDE, is a xenoestrogen, which is still present in the environment. Chlorine and hormone residues in meats and dairy products also can have estrogenic effects. In women, it may lead to an epidemic of female diseases, all traceable to excess estrogen/deficient progesterone. It is critical to incorporate a pure, clean diet consisting of organic foods whenever possible in an effort to decrease exposure to harmful xenoestrogens. Additionally, it is important to avoid these harmful chemicals in beauty care products, detergents, perfumes and deordorants. Do not use plastic containers to store food in.


  1. Increase Indole 3 Carbinol

Many studies have demonstrated that specific compounds isolated from these cruciferous vegetables—including diindolylmethane (DIM) and its precursor, indole-3-carbinol (I3C)—have unique cancer-fighting benefits and help to lower xenogenous estrogens. I3C appears to be effective in shifting the metabolism of estradiol from the dangerous 16-alpha-hydroxylase pathway to the 2-hydroxylase pathway.43-46 As a result, consumption of I3C boosts the ratio of 2-OHE1:16a-OHE1, which correlates with reduced risk of breast and other cancers, including cervical, prostate, and even head and neck cancers. Cruciferous Vegetables: Broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts, cauliflower and kale. Supplementing with 13C may also be beneficial.


  1. Decrease Alcohol Consumption

Drinking too much alcohol can impair liver function. Since estrogen is metabolized by the liver, failure of the liver due to excess alcohol consumption may lead to increased estrogen levels. It is best to limit one’s alcohol consumption to one glass per day or even less.


  1. Perform Aerobic Exercise.

Research shows that physical activity curtails overproduction of estrogen. Walking and swimming are great forms of aerobic exercise.





Could the Birth Control Pill be Interfering with our Attraction to Others?








We all know the birth control pill alters the levels of hormones in your body, but did you know that the pill may actually alter how attracted you are to your partner?

A recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that women who use oral contraceptives may change who they find good looking, or who they find most attractive.

The study looked at 70 heterosexual couples for one year and an additional 48 heterosexual couples during four years of marriage. The researchers asked the couples about their birth control use and their marital and sexual satisfaction. They also asked impartial judges to rate the attractiveness of the husbands’ faces based on photographs.

The researchers found that the women who started their relationships while on the pill became less satisfied with their relationship after they stopped taking it, but only if their husbands had scored low in attractiveness. In contrast, the women who married the men who were ranked higher in attractiveness were more satisfied in their relationships after they stopped oral contraceptives.

Although this information is interesting, and the researchers were able to control for many factors that might affect women’s marital satisfaction ( ie if she was pregnant or her husband’s satisfaction in the marriage) Study leader Michelle Russell still warns that the study’s design makes it hard to prove that the hormones were the direct cause of the change in satisfaction.

This research however, is similar to previously published results on hormonal pills and attraction.

We know that the type of man a woman is drawn to is known to change during her monthly cycle, when a woman is fertile, for instance, she might look for a man with more masculine features. Taking the pill or another type of hormonal contraceptive seems to change this natural dynamic, making less-masculine men seem more attractive, according to a small but growing body of evidence. The findings have led researchers to wonder about the implications for partner choice, relationship quality and even the health of the children produced by these partnerships.

Researchers have long been interested in factors that lead to people’s choice of mates. One influential study in the 1990s, dubbed the “T-shirt study”, asked women about their attraction to members of the opposite sex by smelling the men’s T-shirts. The findings showed that humans, like many other animals, transmit and recognize information pertinent to sexual attraction through chemical odors known as pheromones.

Studies have also shown that women seemed to prefer the scents of men whose immune systems were most different from the women’s own immune-system genes known as MHC. Scientists believe that children should be healthier if their parents’ MHC genes vary, because the offspring will be protected from more viruses and bacteria.

These natural preferences appear to be wiped out when the woman is on hormonal birth control, research has shown. Females on the pill no longer experience an increased desire for traditionally masculine men during ovulation. Their preference for partners who carry different immunities than they do also disappears. And men no longer exhibit changes in interest for women based on their menstrual cycle, possibly because those cues signaling ovulation are no longer present, scientists say.

All forms of birth control come with advantages and disadvantages, however if you are concerned about possible side effects of using hormonal contraceptives talk to your Medical or Naturopathic Doctor about other options for birth control.

In Health,

Dr. Emily Lipinski

Thyroid Health: Keed to know info! and the 6 thyroid tests you need to ask for from your Doctor

thyroid-gland (tuberose.com)






(adapted from Dr.Aviva Romm, MD, 2014)

I see a lot of patients that complain of weight gain, fatigue, constipation, dry skin, PMS, and complaining of always being cold. All these symptoms point to the possibility of hypothyroidism, or under active thyroid function. Sometimes, their TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone), the most common test for thyroid function, has been tested and may still fall into the “normal range”. However, TSH is only one of the markers for abnormal thyroid function, and many patients are unaware that there are other tests that can give a much better picture of thyroid health and function.

Statistically, hypothyroid is an under diagnosed condition. In fact, in the US only ½ of Americans that have hypothyroidism know it.

What is the Thyroid?

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland that sits at front of your neck and controls your metabolism. It therefore controls your weight, energy levels and also plays a role in cholesterol and hormone production.

When the thyroid is out of balance and not functioning optimally you can gain weight, have sluggish bowels, experience dry skin, have fertility problems, brain fog and feel tired…even if you have a great diet and activity level!

The Key Thyroid Tests

Thyroid tests should be easy to obtain from your primary doctor, naturopathic doctor or functional medicine doc. However thyroid tests do take some skill to interpret and some docs may be reluctant to order more than a TSH test. If this is the case, consider getting a second option by a doctor that is familiar with thyroid health and testing.

Thyroid Test #1: TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone)

TSH is the commonly order thyroid test. This hormone is produced by the pituitary gland (a small gland in your brain). TSH communicates with the thyroid to tell it to produce more thyroid hormones T3 and T4. When all is going well in the body, TSH is in a normal healthy range and so is T3 and T4. When T3 and T4 (those important thyroid hormones produced by the thyroid gland) are LOW, TSH starts to INCREASE, telling the thyroid gland to produce more T4 and T4.

The “healthy TSH range” has become a somewhat controversial topic in medicine. Most Canadian labs consider the upper range of TSH to be 4-5mU/L. However, many experts, including many conventional endocrinologists, consider the upper limit of TSH should be no higher than 2.5-3mU/L. This is based on the data collected on Americans without any hypothyroid symptoms. When they have a TSH test done, this is the common upper range.

Thyroid Tests #2 and #3: T3 (Triiodothyronine) and T4 (thyroxine)

As mentioned above, T3 and T3 are hormones produced by your thyroid gland. T4 is produced in much higher amounts by your thyroid gland, and then is converted into T3 in the periphery. This is important because T3 is the more active form of thyroid hormones and is necessary for proper metabolic function.

Thyroid Tests #4 and #5: TPO and TGAb (Thyroid Antibodies)

As mentioned previously, autoimmune hypothyroidism is the most common cause of hypothyroid. As with any other health condidition, to achieve optimal health we must look at the underlying cause of the problem. If a patient has hypothyroidism, but does not address the autoimmunity (if present), the problem will not be addressed at the root cause. Thyroid antibodies can also be measured every 6-12 months to gauge how thyroid treatment is progressing.

Thyroid Test #6: Reverse T3 (RT3)

Although there is some controversy over the usefulness of this test, I have personally found it of benefit in my practice, especially if hypothyroid symptoms are persisting despite treatment. Sometimes, when the T4 is being converted to T3, it can be converted into RT3, a less active form of T3 that the body cannot use as well as T3. This can happen is one is under a large amount of stress or is sick. If the patient it producing a large amount of RT3, certain medication or supplements can help replenish the body with T3 and encourage the body to produce T3 over RT3.

If you have an inkling that your thyroid health is sub-optimal and your doc is not open or familiar with thyroid testing, consider switching docs or having a second opinion.

Yours in Health,

Dr. Emily

Infusion Health Stress Reduction Techniques for Corporate Culture: A recap from our corporate wellness seminar in Toronto last week









Last week Infusion Health had the pleasure of working with BHP Biliton, providing helpful stress reduction tips and tricks.  Here is a recap of some important points from our interactive workshop.


1. Cell phones can impact stress levels!

A study by the Families and Work Institute found that 1 in 3 US employees’ feels chronically overworked? Cell phones and email are partly to blame: “Better technology hasn’t meant that we can work from anywhere, anytime,” says Ellen Galinsky, president and cofounder of the institute. “It’s meant that we can work everywhere, every time.” (Families and Work Institute, 2014)

Turing off your phone for even 1 hour can help one to relax and improve mood.

2. Work is stressing Canadians out!

Work appears to be the #1 source of stress for Canadians

The majority of highly stressed workers (62%) identified work as their main source of stress. Clustered far behind were financial concerns and not having enough time (both at 12%), family matters, and personal and other issues such as relationships, health and generalized worries These proportions are very similar to those reported in 2005(Stats Canada 2011)

3. Try herbal teas, such as holy basil, instead of coffee.

Holy basil (Ocimum sanctum) can help the body’s natural response to physical and emotional stress. Multiple scientific studies have found that supplementation with Holy Basil tea have helped lower cortisol levels in the body (the hormone that is associated with stress). This tea is easily found at most grocery stores in the natural foods section


3. Integrate relaxation techniques into your daily life.

It can be deep breathing, meditation, exercise, yoga or another technique to help you relax. Whatever it is, these techniques that help us calm down are so important for our health! Read on for steps on Progressive Muscle Relaxation- this technique has been proven to help relax and improve focus in treatment groups.

PMR is a two-step process in which you systematically tense and relax different muscle groups in the body. PMR brings awareness to tension and relaxation in different parts of your body. Combined with deep breathing, this awareness can help you counterbalance the feelings of stress in your body.

***Warning: Consult with your doctor if you have a history of muscle spasms, back problems, or other serious injuries that may be aggravated by tensing muscles before trying PMR.

Most progressive muscle relaxation practitioners start at the feet and work their way up to the face. Follow the steps listed below for a complete PMR body sequence (adapted from http://ndarc.med.unsw.edu.au/sites/default/files/ndarc/resources/AppendicesCC.pdf)

  • Loosen your clothing, take off your shoes, and get comfortable.
  • Take a few minutes to relax, breathing in and out in slow, deep breaths.
  • When you’re relaxed and ready to start, shift your attention to your right foot. Take a moment to focus on the way it feels.
  • Slowly tense the muscles in your right foot, squeezing as tightly as you can. Hold for a count of 10.
  • Relax your right foot. Focus on the tension flowing away and the way your foot feels as it becomes limp and loose.
  • Stay in this relaxed state for a moment, breathing deeply and slowly.
  • When you’re ready, shift your attention to your left foot. Follow the same sequence of muscle tension and release.
  • Move slowly up through your body, contracting and relaxing the muscle groups as you go.
  • It may take some practice at first, but try not to tense muscles other than those intended.
  • Lower Legs (Left foot/ Left Calf) – point feet towards face, and then curl them downward all toes at the same
  • Thighs – Clench them hard
  • Hips and Buttocks – Press your buttocks together lightly
  • Stomach – Suck it into a tight knot ( looking at the chest and stomach for tension)
  • Back – Arch your back up and away from the chair (or floor)
  • Shoulders – Shrug them ( raise toward your ears)
  • Biceps and Upper Arms – Clench your hands into fists, bend our arms at the elbows, and flex your bicep
  • Wrists and Forearms – Extend them, and bend your hands back at the wrist.
  • Hands – make fist and clench them
  • Chest – Take a deep breath, and hold it
  • Front of the Neck –touch your chin to your chest
  • Back of the Neck – Press Neck against floor, or imagine pressing against a car seat
  • Mouth – Press your lips together tightly ( use only your lips – check your face for tension)
  • Cheeks and Jaws – Smile as widely as you can
  • Eyes and Bridge of the Nose – Close your eyes as tightly as you can ( remove contacts first)
  • Forehead – Wrinkle it into a deep frown

We would love to hear from you! How to you relax?

For more information on Infusion Health’s wellness workshops and seminars please email info@infusionhealth.ca or visit http://www.infusionhealth.ca

In Health,

Dr. Emily