No manual or guidebook can guide us through the natural changes that occur in our body and mind as we mature. So, Naturopathic Doctor Danielle is back with insight into our health concerns after 50.
Dr. Danielle Marchildon ND received her Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Waterloo and her Naturopathic Doctor degree from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine. At the Collective Health Clinic in Orangeville, Ontario she treats all aspects of women’s health, mental health, fertility, digestive concerns, skin conditions, and chronic pain to name a few. She also offers food sensitivity testing, hormone testing, and can run all standard bloodwork.
More from Dr Danielle:
E19 MENOPAUSE - Symptoms, causes, diagnosis, treatment AND BENEFITS!!
E49 Why am I so hot? Hot flashes - causes and symptoms
Connect with Dr. Danielle Marchildon ND at:
Collective Health Clinic
519 941 3100
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[00:04] Debra Jones: Welcome to Own the Gray, a podcast to dispel the notion that aging is undesirable and setting new positive attitudes. I'm Debra Jones, and I believe you can be vibrant and healthy throughout the best years of your life.
Today on OWN THE GREY, we have a returning guest. Dr. Danielle Marchildon is a licensed Naturopathic doctor from the Collective Health Clinic in Orangeville, Ontario, Canada. She shared her wisdom in episode 19 covering the symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment options, as well as the benefits of menopause. If you haven't listened to that, go back and check it out. And then I asked her back in episode 49 to talk about the causes and symptoms of those dreaded hot flashes and their connection to hormone imbalance. Now, both of these episodes focused on women's issues. So today we'll be talking about a subject that will interest both men and women over 50. There's no manual or handbook that is guiding us through the natural changes that occur in our body, in our mind, as we mature. And so I thought it would be useful to get some up to date tips and suggestions from a professional who's on the front lines and who knows what we're dealing with. Dr. Danielle. Welcome back to Own the Gray.
[01:31] Dr. Danielle: Hi, thanks for having me. It's a pleasure to be here again.
[01:34] Debra Jones: Thanks for agreeing to join us again. I wanted to talk about when we reach that halfway mark I call it, age 50 and on, all kinds of things are happening to our body and to our mind. And as I said, we don't have a handbook. So, I was wondering if you would share with us what types of things you're seeing with people that come into your practice, with your patients. What are our concerns today? What are the most common ones?
[02:07] Dr. Danielle: Sure. And I think for those who are listening, anyone that has turned 50 will know that around that 50 year mark, you get the phone call from your doctor's office saying “You're 50. We now get to do a colonoscopy. We start the mammogram screening.” If you have no previous history, they might want to do a stool test. They'll do some blood work, but then it kind of stops after that. Right. You'll get your follow up testing for your scope, your colonoscopy. For example, they'll say, come back in five or ten years. Mammogram come back in a year to two years. But after that, we kind of fall off the radar in terms of, well, what else can we be doing? It's no secret that turning 50, the human body, we start to see decreases in certain hormones, certain functions. Women there's, menopause, men there is something called andropause where testosterone levels can start to decrease. So we all start to, across the board, men, women, every human body does start to decline in certain functions after the age of 50. The interesting piece, I think, within our medical system is, yes, while there are very important screening tools that we should take part in, there's much less assessments, proper assessments being done that can really help, one, not only prevent age declining diseases, but two, increase our well being. By no means should someone by the age of 75, for example, just be written off. And, and sadly, that's sort of and it's not something, it's not a slight against medical doctors, it's a slight against our Western medical system where that's just sort of what happens.
[03:50] Debra Jones: So then let us just pinpoint some of those body changes like you talked about, a couple of them with the hormones and menopause and things like that. So what kinds of things do we notice changes in around this time?
[04:05] Dr. Danielle: Sure. So weight gain? Of course, weight gain and energy levels are two main concerns. Another big one is sleep. Many patients, as we continue to age, they start to notice that they're sleeping less and less and less, or their sleep wake cycle is changing, where they're having really great naps, a solid nap in the afternoon and then nighttime they're awake. And this affects us on a number of levels that disrupted sleep wake cycle, puts us at higher risk for cardiovascular disease. So then all of a sudden blood pressure and cholesterol starts to go up. Right. It's a snowball effect. Bowel habits can change as well. Lots of patients that have been regular all my life and now all of a sudden I'm constipated. Or the opposite, where they're having more looser, urgent stools. And the other thing too, digestively, is that patients do start to complain of upper GI symptoms, where after decades of eating a standard North American diet, they're now noticing either reflux that heartburn indigestion happening and that's really a reflection of just eating the quality of food that we have here that's just our body is finally going enough.
[05:18] Debra Jones: So I've noticed that sometimes I'm eating foods that cause more gas, for instance, than they did in the past and I'm trying to pinpoint what the cause is and it seems to be baffling me. So does that body digest food differently as we get older?
[05:36] Dr. Danielle: Yes, particularly a really interesting piece and it's really still emerging. I mean, we've just hit the tip of the iceberg here. But the research around the microbiome okay, so I'm talking about the good bacteria that humans have head to toe and things that affect and degrade the microbiome pollution, poor quality of food, lack of hydration, too much sugar, stress, which is a huge one, affects our microbiome. So if we don't start supporting microbiome young, then it's largely going to be affected in our aging years. Right. So microbiome, that's one of the first things I get a patient over 50. Have you ever taken a probiotic? If the answer is no, we're starting, that is you will be leaving the office on a probiotic. Right. That's so important. If their microbiome has never been supported. And they live here in North America. They need that kind of support. Otherwise we will see a digestive issue show up.
[06:38] Debra Jones: Right. So we talked a little bit about the sleep pattern as well. And is it normal for us to wake more times in the middle of the night needing to go to the bathroom?
[06:50] Dr. Danielle: Oh, yes. It's so common right herein. Brings the importance of adjunctive treatments, right. Things like pelvic floor physio. Even for men, it's a highly regarded female practice. But as we age, organs start to fall, the bladder being one that's just at high risk of doing that. As it sort of falls, we can't hold as much urine. There are, of course, other confounding factors here, depending on if you have high blood pressure, if you're on diuretic medication that is telling your body to pee. There is also a type two diabetic drug that a lot of aging people are on that also throws sugar into the urine and tells us to pee. So there's other dynamic factors here. But if you're not on any medication, you're starting to notice more frequent urinating, then yes, you want to look at the structure. It's something that we just forget to even assess, make sure that the bladder is in a good place, right. And that there's nothing we can't do to help improve that. We also want to make sure that there is no diabetes going on in the background, that kind of thing. Actually, it's a really good example. Frequent urinating at night is a really good example of a symptom of potentially something that's just disregarded. The answer to that is, well, you're getting older. So that's going to happen right, when we should be doing more of an assessment there to see if there's something we can do to help.
[08:16] Debra Jones: Yeah, I know. And I've heard people saying about how they feel about what the doctor says about it, it's because you're over 50, it's because you're getting older. But that doesn't help.
[08:27] Dr. Danielle: No, no, no. And that's that piece, that dismissive piece, right, that they look at your age and go, what do you expect?
[08:34] Debra Jones: Yeah.
[08:36] Dr. Danielle: What do you expect? And the conversation around what's common is not normal. This is something I probably say twelve times a day. And it's something I would encourage you to say to your medical doctor if you feel you are being dismissed as saying, look, I know you're looking at my age going, well, that's common, but that's not how my body normally functions. So I would like to look into this and see if there's something we can do to reverse this. Right.
[09:03] Debra Jones: Nice.
[09:03] Dr. Danielle: But you hold them accountable a little bit in that space.
[09:06] Debra Jones: Nice. And that's why I think the work that you do and I've come to see you and I know how you approach the situation is a more complete whole approach, asking lots of questions that seem irrelevant. But we're not just our physical ailment or our physical body. We are a whole person that has emotions, that has mental aspects. Our thoughts can create a lot of things that are going on for us as well. And what can you share with us about that aspect that isn't taken care of usually in the medical doctor's office, but that emotional and mental state? Have you noticed a difference in our mental state?
[09:54] Dr. Danielle: Yeah, and I think an aside to this too, is that I have a lot of patients whose medical doctors will treat their lack of sleep, their high blood pressure, their constipation, without once ever asking what stress is like and how they're managing that. I find that's a missing piece. Anyhow, to answer your question, the pandemic has been very dynamic for a number of reasons on all levels. When we talk about that, the shift I've noticed in mental health patients who the pandemic really planted that seed of anxiety, who are now no longer fearful of COVID whether they've had it or they it's been in their household and it was, you know, it was a cold for them and they recovered really quickly. They're no longer scared of that. But that seed is still here, but now it's applying to other things. The pandemic has shifted so many things for people, and one of these residual effects of this is this mental health. And I know there's a lot of dread happening. I think we've chatted around that sense of impending doom, but not being able to properly articulate that this is important to start discussing. We need to walk through what this means or where it's coming from and not just dismiss it as, well, it's been a pandemic because that's not helpful.
[11:18] Debra Jones: Yeah, it's not helpful and it doesn't really get to really what's going on. If I kind of just step back for a minute and I think about the topic that we're talking about, and it is about these changes that are happening to our body that they weren't there before. Some things are different, some things are declining, as we mentioned, and it's a feeling of lack of control and loss that it can relate to how we react to any kind of loss, for instance, if we lose someone and what the body goes through as we find our balance again in that. So I'm likening the changes that we experience as we get older to the idea of when we do lose a loved one, even, like, that's major. And the feelings that we have are no less significant than if something like that happened in our life. So when people are coming to see you, is there like a level of anxiety? Like, for instance, where was it, say, pre pandemic, and where is it now and where do you see it going? If there's a trajectory?
[12:34] Dr. Danielle: I think one of the biggest things I've noticed is that majority of patients would come in with a very specific symptom in their minds. It was very localized. So it could be joint pain or heartburn or constipation. Now, when I go through assessments with my patients, those are still there. I always get that piece of well, also, though, I really like to sit in a more preventative space, right. So, yes, I have heartburn, but can you just make sure that my cholesterol is okay and my liver is okay? Like, I'm getting more of a global concern. So this is the silver lining, is that threat of loss of autonomy, right? That sense that things are out of control and you're losing who you thought you were. The loss of vitality again, it's that aging piece of it is what it is. Right. And you kind of feel like, what do you mean, I have no control over this. It has sparked motivation in my patients to start to think more globally in their health. I mean, I'm the one, typically that is saying, I hear you, you are here for heartburn. I want to make sure that everything else is in check. Right. I don't have to do that as much anymore because they're coming asking for that already. This makes me super excited. I think the part that terrifies me a little bit, prior to the pandemic, there was a general feeling amongst my profession that our medical system was heading more towards preventative health. And this was an exciting…the pandemic hit. And now I feel like we're farther away from the preventative model than we ever have been. So I have this population of people, of aging people coming to me wanting global assessments and a medical system that seems this isn't towards every medical doctor. I'm really speaking about a medical system that really seems to be pulling away from the global, even more so and away from the preventative health. And really, it's a system that we're kind of being told to use only if absolutely necessary. So only if you're no longer tolerating a symptom.
[14:43] Debra Jones: Right?
[14:45] Dr. Danielle: I have patients go to their family doctors all the time to say, when's the last time you had … a 55 year old male, right? Let's say he's a smoker, heavy drinker, very sedentary life. And I say, when's the last time you had physical type blood work where we looked at your cholesterol and your blood sugar? And the answer is “I don't even remember. Ten years ago, maybe.” Right. “Oops” is what I say. We're failing you because this should have been done years ago as a baseline, and now we can check in and see what has happened in the past five years. It's a preventative model, right, but I'm working against a system that doesn't want to do that. I'm in Ontario. NDS can run blood work, which has been a savior for me. Downside, it's not covered by OHIP. So patients are either utilizing their benefit dollars or paying out of pocket for the proper testing. Albeit it's affordable given the amount of information we get. It's an investment, but it's not a lot of money, and it gives us the information we know to really set you on the right path so that by 75 you're not a walking time bomb.
[16:00] Debra Jones: Right, that's a really good point. So then it's better to start now than never, that's for sure. Right. So then get the blood work done and get your baseline, and then you can keep track of that for sure. So are there any specific tests you have mentioned? A few. You talked about the Mammogram screening that are really things that you think are essential for us to do.
[16:29] Dr. Danielle: Yeah, I think all the provincially funded screening programs are really important to take part in. They are designed and largely backed by research and evidence whether that's PAP Mammogram colonoscopy, the stool test where they're checking for blood. I have a lot of patients who say, well, I did the stool test and it was negative for blood, so I don't have to do the colonoscopy. I highly disagree with that statement. That one piece of stool you sent in may not have had any blood, but the ten days leading up to it, you might have that only a colonoscopy would identify. So the provincially funded screening tests, 100%, you take part in those. The worst part, by the way, of a scope, is the prep day. So if you can get through that, you can get through anything. Otherwise, in terms of blood tests, it's the organ function test that we want to check in on. Right. So we want to check your liver function, your kidney function, your lipid panel, cholesterol, these signs for cardiovascular disease. I also want to check my patients for levels of inflammation. We spend so many research dollars on heart disease and stroke and cancer, which is important. I am not saying that is not, but what we really need to focus on culturally is inflammation and stress because we can track all of these things that are affecting our mortality back to inflammation and stress. So those are two things I also assess with patients that aren't. I mean, yes, there's a blood test to check for how much inflammation is in your system, but I'm always assessing. Over 50 patients start to consider retirement, which is a stress in and of itself because it changes your financial situation significantly. So I have some patients who can't retire, yet they're 65 and say, I've got to go another five years, and they're feeling it. Right. I need to protect them from that stress. Or patients who have retired and say, I hate it, I'm miserable, and that's a stress I need to protect them from that. That's important.
[18:40] Debra Jones: So then you're talking about where our head is at and where the stress is coming from. What kinds of things do we need to hear? What puts your patients at ease? What kinds of things do you share with them that puts them at ease.
[19:00] Dr. Danielle: I think having me on their team tends to put them at ease because they know that I will help manage their health. Right. So I'll make sure that the proper screening tests are being done. I'll motivate them and give them reasons why it's important. It's that education piece and the empowerment piece, right. That medical doctors just don't have the time to explain. At the end of the day, there's just no time. Right. So explaining the importance of preventative health and how we, like, what are the steps to preventative health? And proper assessment is one that's step one empowering them around what's in their control, right. Because we're so busy being told that this declining health is out of our control.
[19:43] Debra Jones: Okay.
[19:44] Dr. Danielle: So let's put the focus on what is in your control. And that's very motivating to them. Right. When I tell them that increasing more healthy fats in their diet is a surefire way to decrease their risk of dying of a heart attack, for example, 95% of my patients come back and they have incorporated the healthy fats that's motivating to them. They just need to know what changes to make that have big impact.
[20:10] Debra Jones: Yeah.
[20:11] Dr. Danielle: Right.
[20:11] Debra Jones: I read something this morning, and it's about a Yale professor, Becca Levy, and she's shown that ‘transitioning to a positive mindset on aging adds seven and a half years to your life. More than stopping smoking or starting exercise.’
[20:30] Dr. Danielle: Yes. I just had this conversation with the patient yesterday about because neurodegenerative conditions like MS, ALS, a stroke recovery, these conditions respond so well to positive Affirmations, positive feedback. Right. Look at you walking even that the body responds positively to that. And we have evidence around this. So now the evidence is starting to build. Right. And I believe it. I totally believe it, that positive outset, positive Affirmations 100% will improve your outcome 100%. It's so important.
[21:08] Debra Jones: Yeah. So I see that as one of the main medicines to help us age more easily and more gracefully into a stage of life that is a celebratory stage, not a dreaded stage. As a listener, you might be thinking to yourself, well, I don't see anything good about this. But that's what this podcast is about. So if you're not sure yet, listen to a few more episodes and you'll kind of get the gist that it is a time to celebrate who you are becoming. You have been a certain person, you've been a child, you've been a young adult, you've been a young person, and then you've been a middle life person. And now you're going into the elder realms and each one of them, it's really interesting because in one of the red tents that I did recently, we talked about how, I think it's in Africa there's a group or I guess it's a philosophy called Ubuntu. And Ubuntu is about that no one can be healthy if the community isn't healthy, if the community is sick. And so all the things that we're doing, what you and I are doing today about talking about empowerment and how to get some of that power back so that you can feel better, so that you can be more positive, is going to affect all of the community, all of the society that we live in. So just that one little step of you taking some time to maybe go see a naturopathic doctor and get your health in check so that you can feel that you've got a partner that can support you, just making that kind of a move is going to have a ripple effect.
[23:01] Dr. Danielle: Oh, yes, absolutely. And actually, you brought up really that sense of community. Another part of aging is that as we age, we start to feel isolated and we lose our sense of community. And I have many patients where I'll ask about who's in your community, and I kind of get a look like, “what do you mean?” Where's your sense … define your sense of community for me, and the older they are, I hear, “well, my kids visit me,” right? But we lose that camaraderie, that companionship, because if we can relate to someone else, it's so soothing. It's so soothing to say, “oh, we're both we're both in the same sort of life stage. So we can relate to each other, we can share our fears.” You've got to eat, right? Like, it's so important. So it's also really just, again, as an aside, that sense of community, we've got to find it. We've got to either maintain it or we've got to reestablish it.
[24:02] Debra Jones: Yeah. You talked earlier about that seed that was planted when the pandemic started, that seed of fear. And what it has grown into, and I've seen this in my practice too, is that sense of impending doom. There's something underlying that we feel that we're not as solid as we'd like to be and that idea of being isolated. So if you can imagine, you're feeling all of these fears and you've got nobody to share that with or nobody to talk to, and so one thing that is available to you is to go see your naturopathic doctor and share those fears with them because it does relate to your health.
[24:50] Dr. Danielle: Yes, 100%. You need to have that safe space too, right, and there are a lot of people eye rolling, right, because it's as terrified as you. And as real as these feelings may be, there is a percentage of us who are sort of over this fear based narrative, and you can get an eye roll that's so dismissive and not helpful. Right. So, yeah, you've got to find those people. You've got to find those people that are on your health care team, which also, that doesn't necessarily mean that they have to be … I'll bring this up. It doesn't mean they have to be a regulated practitioner. It could be someone in your field. It could be someone … I've got a patient who loves their podiatrist, like it's their podiatrist who has given them a sense of comfort. Right. So you've got to build the healthcare team and your health care team is about connection more so than what their title is.
[25:53] Debra Jones: Very much. And I find it's also that someone's going to listen to you.
[25:59] Dr. Danielle: Yes, yes. They will. Yes. Listen and then really hear you and then help you walk through that.
[26:10] Debra Jones: That's right. And that has some tools and some new ideas or new perceptions or thoughts or things to try. I find that my success is all about you come to me with where you're at and I show you there are some doors of opportunity, doors of possibility, roads that you might not have gone down had you not shared that with me.
[26:33] Dr. Danielle: Absolutely. New pathways which bring hope.
[26:36] Debra Jones: That's exactly it. And so what my thought of our conversation today is all about is we need to start talking about these uncomfortable things that are going on that we might keep to ourselves because maybe we're embarrassed about it or in denial of the fact that we are getting older and things are changing and we might want to cling on to who we used to be and be young forever. You can certainly be young forever in your mind. But your body is going to follow a path that is going to naturally follow. Right.
[27:14] Dr. Danielle: Yes, of course. And just taking … like acknowledging right. Acknowledging both your physical and emotional well being. Once you acknowledge it, then you build the insight and then you get help.
[27:31] Debra Jones: Exactly. And then when you get help, you feel more empowered and then you can then land yourself in this new state of being. This is the transition. We're transitioning from the way we were to the way we are becoming. And we find ourselves in a whole different situation. Scenario. Different feelings, different thoughts and different conversations that are happening. But it's not that there's something wrong with us because aging is a natural process. This is all totally natural.
[28:05] Dr. Danielle: Absolutely. Yeah. It's going to happen to everyone. We want it to be abundantly, joyful and not terrifying. Right. And we want you feeling well while you do it.
[28:20] Debra Jones: When you are feeling that you've done a really good job in helping your patients get a handle on their health situation and get a handle on their emotions and their mental state, what do you get out of helping your patients?
[28:41] Dr. Danielle: That's a good question. I have goosebumps. My motivation for being in this profession, what really motivates me is just the human body. So I am astounded by the human body on all levels. There are tiny miracles happening within cells. The fact that it …right. So when I get a patient who comes to me, whose body, which is the one thing they know better than anyone else, and they say to me, there's something off if I can help identify if I can help identify where it's going off and set that right. I have just reignited those miracles that happen within the human body. I know that I've provided them so much peace. I mean, I'm sure you can relate to this. I just don't know how else I'd spend my days. I don't yeah, I just don't know. Right. My job is very validating and rewarding and I get to sit in that human biology all day, every day and then help people. I can't properly articulate it. But no, I am head to toe right now. So thank you for asking.
[30:01] Debra Jones: You're very welcome. Because I do get feedback on podcasts and our listeners do love you. They love your honesty. You come right out and say what it is we need to say. But I think what I hear most is your passion for what you do. And so I really love having you on here because that passion really does shine through.
[30:23] Dr. Danielle: Oh, I'm so pleased. I'm so pleased. I do. I'm like stumbling over words right now. I'm so grateful. I'm so grateful I'll say that.
[30:34] Debra Jones: You can now find my podcast, my book, and soon my classes on www.Babyboomer.org. The ultimate, most trusted source for news, information, and community. They've curated all the resources on the things that interest you. Check it out today at www.Babyboomer.org.