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The Doctor's in the House!

Such exciting things happening at More Life headquarters! I am going to start bringing my readers and followers guest health professionals to share their knowledge and expertise with you. There's so much information out there and I'm determined to bring you the best!

First to the podium is a very dear friend of mine. Natalie and I met when we worked in the education system back in Vancouver, which feels like many moons ago. The first day I met her, I knew we would be friends for life. She is one of those people that has that special something. She's warm, genuine, brilliant, authentic and wildly spirited. What more could I ask for in a friend! We worked together for 4 years before Natalie decided to move on and become a Naturopathic Doctor. And I'm so grateful that Natalie has chosen this path. She is a gifted physician. I have seen and experienced it first hand.

I am so thrilled to share her expertise and knowledge with all of you. But first I want you to get to know her. She's amazing!

What inspired you to become a doctor?

To be honest I didn't grow up thinking or dreaming about being a doctor. I actually, for much longer than I ever thought about becoming a doctor, I saw myself as an educator or a social worker, or some combination of those. I had always had a lot of compassion and empathy and understanding for people, which naturally led me to want to be in a helping profession. I spent many years in special education and mental health, working with children and young adults and their families. So when I finally encountered naturopathic medicine, it was the best right fit. I could work with people on an individual basis and connect in a way that allowed me to assist a person who was struggling with their health, teach them, empower them and provide the kind of care that I always felt I had a lot of to give.

What is the focus in your practice? What is your area of expertise?

I have a few areas of focus. About 1/3 of my practice is focused on the biomedical treatment of children with complex pediatric conditions, such as autism spectrum disorder and other neurodevelopmental disorders. This involves in-depth testing and intervention through functional nutrition and individualized care based on optimizing the systems and detox pathways in the body. I would say I have the greatest extra training and expertise in this area, since it has also enhanced how I treat my other patients. In the rest of my practice, I focus a great deal on the connection between the gut and the brain, so I see a lot of neurodegenerative diseases such as multiple sclerosis, parkinsons, autoimmune conditions, etc. I treat stress and mental health concerns such as OCD, bipolar disorder, panic disorders, depression, anxiety. I treat women with preconception care and hormone balancing and getting them TLC (so important!).

I am always looking for the root cause of illness or dis-ease. I work to ensure that all the main pillars of health are in place, so that obstacles to healing are removed, and so the body can tap into it's innate power to heal itself. All this while helping it along the way when needed with tailored nutrient supplementation, body therapies such as acupuncture and herbal medicine, as well as exploring the mental emotional spiritual factors that lend great clues and power in a person's healing.

What motivates you to do the important work that you do?

I think my biggest daily motivator is that there is always more to learn, more to understand about the body in general, but also about the particular individual I am working with in the moment. There is always another layer to sift through and the body throws us curve balls at times, but this only gives us further clues as to what's going on, especially when there isn't a perfect lab test to tell us. So basically I get to do this work and I get to be taught all the time by it. That, and watching how this journey to a more balanced state of health transforms a person, how unique each patient's path really is and how many challenges, but also how many rewards there can be along the way. I get to be the passenger with the complex road map!

What's one thing you wish everyone knew about health?

That there is no magic pill.

And that sometimes very simple changes to what we eat (or don't eat) and lifestyle make all the difference in setting a good foundation for feeling good everyday.

Health is really about looking at the whole person...with patience and a clear but flexible plan.

What's one thing you will teach your children about nutrition?

The main big thing I will teach them is, quite simply, what is food and what isn't. Also to value and understand where their food comes from. But just as important, I plan to teach them the habits around nutrition that are so important, so not just what they should or shouldn't eat, but how to be ready to receive nutrients. Making sure that eating is the only thing they are doing when they do it, except for talking and laughing with family around the dinner table for all meals, and I mean ALL meals :). Turning off distractions and devices. Chewing! Savouring! Bringing joy to the table and, really, to have a beautiful, reciprocal and robust relationship with food. And how to have what a patient of mine has named "balance days" (to replace the initial term "cheat days"!), so that food really becomes about pleasure and enjoying life and culture and travel and all styles of eating while also being well nourished.

If you were stranded in a deserted island with only three items of food, what would they be and why?

This is a tough one! I love food!

I guess if we're talking sustaining me long term I'd have to go with eggs, chocolate and brussel sprouts.

Eggs because I really find they are the perfect food. Good fats, protein, choline, B vitamins and cholesterol for building reproductive and stress hormones for adapting, and blood sugar balancing.

Chocolate, good chocolate. Dark chocolate or raw cocoa. High in antioxidants, been used for centuries to help a person adapt better to certain climates or altitudes, provides mental alertness and good blood flow to the brain.

Brussel sprouts are my ultimate favourite veggie. Being in the Brassica family, or a cruciferous vegetable like broccoli or cabbage, it is great for the liver, it balances hormones and provides many phytonutrients that help with DNA protection and protect against cancer.

What is your dream for the future?

To bring naturopathic medicine to communities that might not otherwise have access to it. To have an approach to creating programs that is inclusive of all communities. In the past I have worked in various 3rd world countries as a lone volunteer or as part of a small group, as well as working in aboriginal communities in northern BC, all on a short term basis.

I hope to create something that is ongoing. For example, I am currently volunteering in the Downtown Eastside Womens' center of Vancouver, BC, which provides services to Vancouver's most vulnerable population. I am exploring sponsorship from various companies, as well as setting up group acupuncture treatments in my own practice, to allow similar services to be offered at the women's center. This is to promote community awareness as well as community cross-over.

For more information about Natalie including her services, visit her website. She'll be posting here in the next few weeks so stay tuned for more juicy information that you can use!

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