Recently, we had the absolute pleasure of chatting with Doctor Laura Belus, an inspiring Naturopathic Doctor working out of Mississauga. Laura first became passionate about healthy living many years ago and has since turned that passion into a full-fledged career. Laura specializes in hormone balance, detox and weight loss and has some extremely valuable insights to share on how to live your healthiest and most balanced life. In this article, she also shares her thoughts on birth control, hormonal health and what she keeps in her First Aid Kit (a.k.a. what you should be keeping in your’s 😉 .) Keep reading for some extremely interesting insights and helpful tips!
SH: Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself on a personal level and also what inspired you to become a Naturopathic Doctor?
I think I’ve been a bit of a health nut for as long as I can remember, taking after my grandmother. I would read books and magazine articles about how to eat & exercise, way before it was trendy to be healthy. In my early twenties, while I was juggling school and a full-time job, I noticed acne appearing out of nowhere. I also had a long history of headaches. I tended to ignore them or simply popped an Advil to get through my day. But it was really the acne that became my main source of concern since my skin was clear throughout my teenage years. I knew something was definitely going wrong within my body. I knew I was getting these symptoms for a reason.
It took me several months of self-treating (and lots of money spent at Sephora) to get to the bottom of my skin concerns. It turns out I needed to detox my liver (thanks to my first naturopath’s expert advice). I did that and within a few weeks my skin was clear and I was literally headache-free. At that point, I switched gears away from business/finance and towards studying to become a naturopathic doctor. I was so inspired to help more people get to the root cause of their health concerns for good, just like I had.
SH: What do you love most about what you do?
The best part about being a naturopath is ‘doctor as teacher’, or docere (if we want to get back to the Latin terminology of medicine). I absolutely love educating women and my community about how to understand their bodies. I love helping them learn what their symptoms mean and what steps to take to get real results that last. With the invention of social media, I’ve been able to expand my reach to help more people get answers to their health questions and concerns. It continues to inspire me to increase my knowledge base and to share what I know with more people that really want to make a change.
SH: We noticed you have expertise in hormones. We understand everyone is unique, but are there are general recommendations that are helpful for our overall hormonal health?
Hormones are such a big topic and one that is very often misunderstood because it is so complex. I see a lot of women with reproductive hormone issues (estrogen, progesterone) but looking at hormones doesn’t stop there. Other important (and often overlooked) hormones that affect the entire body include insulin, thyroid and cortisol (the famous stress hormone). Women need to remember that treating the whole body is what yields the best & most lasting improvement.
I have a few different recommendations that women can follow. I encourage reducing stress and eating more plants (such as hormone balancers like broccoli, flax seeds, healthy fats). The next thing I would suggest is knowing your numbers. Testing your hormones allows you to better create a customized plan with your naturopath around how to get things back into their optimal state. This means less guessing about what’s the best treatment for you. This is probably one of the most common reasons why women will come to see me virtually or in person. We do a thorough lab workup on all of their hormones.
SH: There are so many health conditions that are reversible and preventable. Which do you tend to see the most? Do you have any simple recommendations for our readers of anything they could do, high level to focus on preventative health?
In my private practice, I see a lot of blood sugar dysregulation. It doesn’t mean it’s full-blown diabetes. It means people are having a difficult time losing weight and craving carbs and/or sweets. This definitely goes hand-in-hand with a higher stress lifestyle. People won’t come in complaining of blood sugar dysregulation. Instead, they will say things like “I can’t lose weight especially from my midsection”, or “I’m wired but tired”.
If I could suggest just one thing to help with overall health it would be to better manage your stress levels and set good boundaries around downtime. This means a minimum of seven hours of good quality sleep per night, limiting over-consumption of caffeine, alcohol and refined sugars. We’ve seen a shift lately in social media towards encouraging more self-care, but people are not taking it as seriously as they really should! Other foundational basics of health include getting a minimum of 8 glasses of clean, filtered water and 4 – 5 servings of veggies daily.
SH: We’ve noticed you write a lot about the pill and its adverse effects. Can you share some thoughts here?
This goes back to the same principle about educating my patients and my community. So many women are on hormonal birth control pill and are completely unaware of its side effects. For example, the oral birth control pill depletes women of very necessary B vitamins, magnesium and zinc (who knew?). These are really important for healthy hormone balance, weight, energy, and mood.
Sadly, many women don’t feel the effects until they decide to come off the pill. This means more work has to be done to correct an issue that’s probably been going for years. A simple piece of information that almost no doctor is telling their female patients on the pill is to take a high-quality, activated B-Complex. This will help minimize the damaging effects of some of these nutrient depletions. This is exactly why I created the Healthy Hormone Reset Program. I really feel that more women need to know how to get their hormones back in balance or prevent them in the first place.
SH: What do you keep in your First Aid Kit?
I always have an arnica cream to help with sprains strains and bruises. I also keep an anti-inflammatory lymph drainage cream called Lymphdiarol, which is excellent for swelling. A bottle of pure tea tree oil for any infections or topical issues that might require a mild antibacterial action is also a staple in my cabinet. Plus, I always have a set of go-to supplements that I can take for pain, recovery or infection. Oregano oil, cucurmin, magnesium, electrolytes and silver make great options… to name just a few 😉
SH: Do you have any go-to health recommendations for everyday issues (cold prevention, getting over a hangover, anything many ppl mind find handy?)
I think prevention is key when it comes to any health concern. With that being said, most people should be on a good quality multivitamin and vitamin D supplement most days out of the year. This can actually keep your immune system a bit better equipped to handle any infections that might come it’s way. For those that want a bit of extra detox or energy support, I always suggest adding some vitamin C and a quality activated B-Complex to their routine (this works great for hangover prevention too!)
SH: What surprises your patients the most?
I think a lot of people feel that getting healthy needs to be hard. This is simply not the case. Even small changes such as removing wheat from the diet, or starting the day off with a higher protein breakfast can create almost instant boosts in energy & a reduction in weight. Slow and steady really wins the race on this one.
SH: What are your WOWs (words of wisdom) for someone trying to improve their general health and wellbeing?
I like to look at overall health in four sections: diet, exercise, sleep, stress. When I work with patients one-on-one in my private practice we tend to focus on the one or two areas that need more support first. So, to put it simply, I would encourage people to really reflect on where they are with their current state of health. If one or two of those areas that I mentioned are weaker than this is where they should put their focus. We want to avoid getting overwhelmed with doing a dozen new things or falling off the wagon after a month or two on a new health program.
SH: If you could make any dessert healthy, what would you choose?
I have always had a serious sweet tooth. Chocolate has always been my go-to. It’s still a challenge to give up some of these sweets during my annual 21-day whole body detox! But I truly believe that it is possible to create desserts that contain more of the good quality ingredients that support a healthy lifestyle. So any dessert that contains chocolate and has a healthy ingredient list is a winner for me! Peanut butter cups, chocolate covered almonds and brownies are my favourites!
SH: Well, it’s a good thing we make healthy brownies, in that case ;). So many people turn to alternative health when they’ve tried everything else. We’ve heard some pretty inspiring stories of health transformations. Do you have a story you’d like to share?
This is absolutely true and was the case for me over a decade ago as well. I recently worked with a young female patient who was diagnosed with anxiety, fibromyalgia and IBS for a decade. However, she was still experiencing symptoms despite harsh prescription medications having no real effect. After investigating her case a little bit further, we focused on cleaning and rebalancing her digestive system. Within 4 weeks her pain was gone, she was sleeping better and her mood was much more stable. I will never forget how much gratitude she expressed to me for ‘giving her her life back’, when really, all we did was get to the root cause of her problem. Unfortunately, conventional doctors are not trained to deal with a lot of the issues that cause chronic disease. This is exactly why everyone needs an ND alongside their MD for optimal health!
Thanks so much Laura for taking the time to provide us with such insightful thoughts (and amazing first aid kit recommendations!) To learn more about Doctor Laura Belus, please head to www.drlaurabelus.com. Follow her on Instagram at @drlaurabelus.