Eating with the Seasons: A Food Tour in Rome

In September, my wife and I celebrated our 10-year anniversary with a wonderful 3-week trip to Europe!  We enjoyed every minute of our visits to London, Paris and Rome!

One of the highlights of our trip was a walking Food Tour in Rome.  It was a 3.5-hour stroll from the lively Campo de’ Fiori market, through the historic Jewish “Ghetto,” to the colourful Trastevere neighbourhood.  Our guide, Francesca, took us to various markets, shops and restaurants to sample authentic Roman foods and explained how these staples were connected to their history and culture.

Our first stop was Campo de’ Fiori (“field of flowers”) and a tasting of fresh “mozzarella di bufala” or water buffalo mozzarella cheese.  It was out of this world!  The cheese is kept at room temperature so that the natural bacteria cultures can flourish.  The summer time produces the best quality cheese because the buffalo have access to abundant phytonutrients.  Francesca explained to us the strict guidelines that farmers adhere to in the production of the milk.  The buffalo are very well cared for, with a grass-fed diet and even time for grooming and massages!    All this is done to ensure that the happy and healthy animals will produce the highest-quality milk, which in turn produces the best-tasting cheese!

Our next stop was to a local “forno” or bakery.  In addition to the breads, pies and sweets that are typically offered, bakeries here also have pizza!  We watched the hand-made pizza dough being rolled and kneaded into shape.  Francesca said that you will not find deep-dish or North American-style pizzas in Rome (except in tourist areas).  For a quick meal or snack, Romans enjoy a slice of either “pizza bianca” (pizza dough with only olive oil) or “pizza rosa” (pizza dough with tomato sauce).  You can see that they eat with the seasons from the variations of these two classics.  When we were there in the late summer, pizza with eggplant was common.  You will also find pizza topped with buffalo mozzarella and basil…yum!

Next, we headed to the Jewish Ghetto.  Here, we find another example of eating with the seasons in a popular summer time appetizer, “fiori di zucca fritti” or fried zucchini flower.  This was my absolute favourite!  The delicate zucchini flowers are stuffed with cheese and anchovies, then lightly battered and deep fried.  We enjoyed this, along with another Roman favourite, “suppli” (a rice, tomato and cheese croquette), in a tiny little restaurant in the heart of the Jewish Ghetto.  This restaurant also prepared fresh meals every day for a group of retired elderly in the community.  Rather than spending time grocery shopping and cooking, Francesca explained how these folks meet up daily with friends and family at the local restaurant, keep a “running tab” and pay for it all at the end of the month!  Great food, good company and no dishes to wash…what more can you ask for?

We made other stops along the way that included delicious pasta and wine tastings, but I thought I’d end with Trastevere (“beyond the Tiber”) and our visit to a local “gelateria” or Italian ice cream shop.  Francesca gave us tips on how to find an authentic gelateria, avoiding the many tourist traps in Rome.  At this particular one, we were allowed to sample as many mouth-watering flavours as we wanted before deciding on two!  Everything was fresh, made on premises and, like so many other foods and dishes here, many of the flavours reflected the season.  Among my favourites was the pear gelato, which tasted like a bite out of a fresh pear! The lemon, my wife’s favourite, was tart and refreshing. The pistachio was sweet and the coffee tasted like a fresh cup of Italian coffee!  What a tasty way to end an amazing tour!

Dr.Carin on Immune Health

Remember last year? That terrible sore throat? Headache? Fever? That cough that just wouldn’t go away? The cold and flu season is here and based on trends from previous years, it’s just getting started.


At this time of year we spend more time indoors making viruses easier to spread. While frequent hand washing is an important way to reduce the risk of exposure to germs, strengthening our own immune system is the best way to reduce the risk of getting sick.

Here are three essential steps to avoid the cold and flu this season:


1.    A Healthy Gut In Cold Weather

With 80% of our immune cells residing in our digestive tract, a healthy gut equals a healthy immune system. In addition, cooler weather requires us to make a few changes to our diet. These cold weather adjustments make a huge difference to strengthening your immune system, increasing energy and reducing digestive symptoms like gas and bloating.


a.     choose easy to digest and nutritious foods

       i.     bone broth – easy to digest, healing to your gut lining, containing calcium, magnesium, glucosamine and more, it’s a home-made multivitamin! 

      ii.     cooked/warm seasonal vegetables


b.    avoid excessive

       i.     dairy and sugar as they build up phlegm and inflammation

       ii.     raw/cold foods and drinks - In Chinese Medicine, our digestion is thought of as a fire that burns up foods to digest it. Too much raw or cold foods can snuff out this fire and slow digestion resulting in low energy, a heavy sensation in the body and bloating.


2.    Cover the back of your neck

As the weather cools down, you’ll often see me wearing a scarf. This is because in Chinese Medicine, colds and flus are a result of “wind” getting into your body and this most often happens through the area at the back of the neck (also called the “wind gate”); keep your neck covered especially when there is a breeze.

3.    As soon as you start to feel the initial stages of a cold or flu such as a sore/scratchy throat and fever take ColdQuell right away. This Chinese herbal formula reduces excess heat in the body and quickly reduces symptoms. They are in capsule form so they are easy to take without any unpleasant taste. I keep a bottle handy at home for the first sign of symptoms in myself or my family.

Happy Healthy Tummy Tips


Happy Healthy Tummy Tips for this Thanksgiving 

Dr.Dhiman has some great tips for keeping your tummy happy and healthy for the Thanksgiving meal ahead of us.


1.       Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) - a distressed stomach's best friend.  One to two teaspoons in 1/2 a glass of water 15 minutes prior to meals.  ACV will aid in digestion, decrease gastric reflux, decrease bloating and abdominal pain.  Use as needed


2.       Try to avoid Antacids - we have been programmed to think that symptoms of acid reflux is a result of too much stomach acid production, however, in our clinical observation, the problem is usually too little stomach acid production.  Stomach acid production can decrease when the body is stressed.  Overeating can absolutely be a stressor to the body.  Again, ACV will normalize stomach acid levels.


3.       Peppermint Tea - Peppermint (Mentha piperita) can calm a distressed tummy almost immediately.  This can rid the body of symptoms of dyspepsia.  If peppermint tea does not quite do the trick, Peppermint Oil Capsules are an excellent supplement as needed.


4.       Fennel Seeds (Foeniculum vulgare) - Have you ever noticed at the end of a delicious Greek meal, you will often get a tiny bowl of fennel seed candy?  This is not a random offering as fennel can ease abdominal pain, gas and bloating almost immediately.  Simply chew on a small amount and swallow.  The seeds can also be boiled in water to drink as a tea.


5.       Try to avoid beverages with meals - Have you also noticed at most Asian restaurants you will not receive ice water with your meal unless it is requested?  You will however, receive small cups of warm tea.  Small amounts of warm tea aid digestion.  Ice cold drinks place stress on the digestive system, dilute digestive enzymes and stomach acid levels.  For optimal digestion, try to limit beverages to half an hour before or after meals.  If you have a dog at home, watch how he/she has meals.  Foods and liquids are always separate.  This principle follows the laws of nature. 

Dr.Lee's Europe Bound this September

In September, my wife and I will be traveling to Europe for a 3-week vacation to celebrate our 10-year wedding anniversary.  We have been planning for this trip for several years and I can’t believe we are only a few days away!  My patients have been truly excited for me, offering information, personal travel tips and links to useful websites.  Others have asked: “What do you do (health-wise) to prepare for an extended vacation?”  I thought I’d share my answers in this blog.  


First off, the most important thing is to have a consistent sleep routine.  It is very tempting to stay up late to research all the exciting places that we will be visiting, but I have kept a strict bedtime.  My body and mind work the best when I get about 7.5 hours of sleep.  I cannot emphasize enough how important sleep is in the regulation of our immune and nervous systems and in the repairing of our bodies.

I recently watched an excellent documentary on CBC’s Nature of Things on the topic of sleep.  In this episode, David Suzuki examines the importance of sleep and, more specifically, how artificial light affects our quality of sleep.  The documentary is called Light’s Out, and you can find it through this link: (

Boosting the Immune System

Traveling can put stress on the body and can expose you to pathogens from all around the world.  As many of my patients know, I talk about the herb Astragalus all the time, especially around the fall season.  Astragalus is an immune modulating herb that can strengthen a deficient immune system and regulate an overactive immune system.  In preparation for my trip, I have been taking the formula Jade Windscreen on a regular basis.  I will also be bringing this along on my travels.   I have written several blogs in the past about this great herb.  (link)

Probiotics, etc.

I love eating local foods when I travel.  One of the ways I protect my digestive tract is by taking a high-quality probiotic (Pro = good, biotic = bacteria).  Probiotics are healthy bacteria naturally found in our digestive systems.   Healthy bacteria can protect you from traveler’s diarrhea and strengthen the immune system.  My favourite probiotic for travel is HMF Intensive.  I simply take 1 capsule a day and it comes in a convenient blister pack.  I also take Phytogreens, a supplement that combines a variety of green vegetables (spinach, wheat grass, broccoli, etc.) with spirulina and chlorella.  It is packed full of nutrients and enzymes. 

Recently, I have been growing my own microgreens and sprouts, incorporating more of them into my diet.  Microgreens are baby plants and have a high concentration of vitamins, minerals and enzymes.  They also taste great!  I’ll share more about microgreens in a future blog.  


Bon voyage, Dr.Lee! 

Please note: Dr.Lee will return to the office on Tuesday October 7th. Do not hesitate to contact the office for product refills, or appointments can be booked with Dr.Matsushita.

Images in order, credit of:

Image credit of:

Image credit of:

Images credit of:

Benefits of the Sunshine Vitamin

Wow, what a summer we have had here in Vancouver.  It has been absolutely beautiful.  We really did deserve it after that winter, and hopefully everyone has taken advantage of being outside and enjoying how beautiful BC really is.  Even though we are nearing the tail end of summer, we thought we would shed a little light of one of the most powerful healers out there.  The sun.  

The blue skies, bright sun are quite energizing.  The sun helps increase mood, serotonin levels and this weather brings about an overall sense of well-being.  I encourage everyone to take advantage of this weather and spend at least thirty minutes to one hour out side everyday.  Aim to be barefoot as much as possible.  Whether it be a walk, a light jog or sitting in the backyard with a book.  Just being outside will do. 

In recent years the sun has received a bad reputation for being dangerous to our health, when in fact this information is grossly misinformed.  When traveling to most traditional cultures across the globe, they will spend most of their time working, playing, living outdoors more so than being indoors.  Consider as well our ancestors, most of the time was likely spent surviving outdoors.  The sun is actually very healthy. 

Sun exposure can be unhealthy under extended periods of time, causing repeated burning and healing of the skin.  This is not what I am referring to.  I am referring to exposure to the sun without sunscreen, so that the skin becomes pink.  I would generally advise to start out with five to ten minutes per day in the sun, exposing skin without sunscreen.  This amount of time will release the essential Vitamin D, also known as, “The Sunshine Vitamin”.

Vitamin D is found in the skin and is released when Ultraviolet B rays hit the skin.  Utraviolet B or UVB rays are generally highest around mid-day or 10am to 2pm.  UVB rays are lowest in the morning and evenings.  Therefore, to get the most release of Vitamin D, when the sun is hotter is the best time.

In recent years, Vitamin D has been the subject of much media attention.  Vitamin D is a hormone, and is released as UVB rays from the Sun hit the skin.  The body is programmed to produce Vitamin D by exposure to sunlight, and so I am hesitant to prescribe in the summer.  Vit D should be sufficient as we should be getting outside.  However, in the winter during darker months, Vitamin D is an extremely beneficial and necessary supplement, especially living in the North West.

What does Vitamin D actually help?  Vitamin D is essential to optimal health.  North of the Equator the occurrence of cancers are higher as well as cases of Multiple Sclerosis.  One key difference from the equator to up north is lack of Vitamin D exposure.   Rates of some cancers and cases of Multiple Sclerosis are higher in the Northwest, due to darker weather and lack of Vitamin D.  Researchers at the Moores Cancer Centre at the University of California, San Diego found that 600, 000 cancers could be prevented per year just by increasing Vitamin D levels.  This unbelievable study would likely not be found in the media, as pharmaceutical companies cannot profit from recommending the sun.

Vitamin D is also beneficial for:  optimal blood pressure; osteoporosis, healthy teeth and bones; diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease; rheumatoid arthritis and prevention of most autoimmune diseases; optimal cholesterol levels; healthy immune system.  These are just a few of the many functions of Vitamin D in the body.    

Researchers and scientists are now reporting that covering the body in sunscreen is more harmful than good.  The sunscreens will block the release of Vitamin D preventing all of the cancer fighting benefits as well as the above-mentioned functions of Vitamin D.  As I mentioned it is important to expose as much skin as possible daily, until the skin becomes pink.  At that point you can return inside, or apply a natural sunscreen.   Try to work your way up in small increments to thirty minutes per day without sunscreen; this recommendation is completely dependent on skin pigment.  Fairer pigment may only get up to 5 minutes per day of sun exposure, and a darker pigment skin may be completely fine with 30 minutes per day.  Never stay in the sun long enough to burn, pink skin is the goal. 

We only have a few more weeks to benefit from this amazing sunshine vitamin so try to take advantage of it.  In Vancouver, the majority of the year is spent in darker rainy days, indoors.  For the remainder of the summer try to take advantage of backyards, family picnics and outings.  The sun is not the enemy, it is even worshiped by some traditional cultures, it is beneficial for spiritual growth and it elevates the mood.  One popular example would be for all you yogi's our there.  Case in point the "Sun Salutation" routine!  Lastly, the Sun helps to release Vitamin D; your body produces it; it is free; and the body knows exactly what to do with it.  Enjoy it while you can! Happy Summer!

Dr.Neetu Dhiman, ND

Recover from Stress this Summer

For many of us, summer continues to be a busy time of “things to do” and although this to-do list may involve activities in the sun, they can build up stress and deplete our energy reserves just the same.

What about a holiday?

Where to go? How do we get there? How much time do we have? What’s our budget? What will I wear?! Will we have time to relax? If you’re like me, just planning a holiday can be stressful. Even if we go on holiday, we often return drained. So how do we reduce stress and build up our energy reserves? While we’re at home and on vacation?

Meditation and acupuncture are good options for switching the body to that relaxed (parasympathetic) state where our repair-and-recover systems kick-in. But enjoying coffee or dark chocolate are also great options for, what I like to call, soul-nourishing moments.

Steps for a Soul-Nourishing Moment with Coffee:

1. Pour hot coffee into your favourite mug and sit in a peaceful spot in your home – by the bay window, on the patio, etc.

2. Hold your warm mug with both hands and take a deep breath into your belly taking in the roasted aroma.

3. After some slow sips of coffee, lower the mug, let out a sigh or ‘aaah’ and notice the warmth of the coffee as it moves down your throat and to your belly. You may close your eyes or allow them to soften their focus.

In 10 seconds (and only two sips of coffee), stress hormone production decreases. This, in turn, improves stress tolerance, mood, energy, sleep, sex hormone balance, blood glucose levels and blood pressure.

Of course, this doesn’t have to be done with coffee. Bringing your focus to observing your body in the present moment makes a daily habit into a soul-nourishing moment. For your adrenal glands (stress tolerance organs) and nervous system, a soul-nourishing moment is like a rejuvenating trip to the spa.

If you’ve been ‘running on fumes’ or experiencing major stress recently, you’re adrenal glands and nervous system have been working on overdrive. Replenishing essential nutrients with adrenal support or B vitamin injections also help to improve stress tolerance and energy.

If you are traveling this summer, include soul-nourishing moments into your daily plans. I think you’ll find those moments will be the best memories of your vacation.

Whether you’re vacationing in Bora Bora or at home this summer, take advantage of daily soul-nourishing moments to reduce stress, optimize health and enjoy summer.


Dr.Carin Matsushita, ND, RAc.

Dr. Neetu's Perspective on how to treat Summer Pains and Strains!

After a long hard winter, Summer has absolutely arrived in Vancouver.  It always amazes me how simply one day of Sun in Vancouver can vanish every trace memories of cold and rain from the season prior.  

It also amazes me how absolutely gorgeous BC is.  A simple drive home is just stunning!
Along with summer and sun in the lower mainland, comes and increase in activities. There are many things to satisfy the outdoor craving, just a few examples include: bike rides, walks, swimming, soccer, and golfing and gardening are big ones.
With this new found energy the sun provides, to allow for these activities, sometimes the body is not adequately prepared.  And during the summer months, at Brio we quite often see Golfing and/or Gardening pains and strains.
  • require bending resulting in lower back strain
  • they may result in dominant use of one side of the body more so than the other, creating an imbalance in the upper and lower back, and also the hamstrings
  • can result in shoulder pain
  • twisting and hip pain
  • golfers elbow or repetitive strain on the wrists/forearms from twisting and pulling in the garden
  • headaches and disrupted sleep
Issues generally arise if both sides of the body are imbalanced.  They can also arise if the hips are imbalanced.  Issues can also arise if muscles are stronger on one side of the body versus the other.
The Bowen Technique is a simple, fast, non-invasive way to quickly treat any or all of these issues and get you back onto the putting green or back into the garden.
The Bowen Technique involves gentle movements over the muscles of the body, stimulating the relaxation of the entire nervous system.  
When the nervous system is relaxed the body can then re-set, re-balance and correct any pains or strains.
The majority of the time we are stressed during the day and even stressed when we sleep due to the pain.
The 60 minute Bowen session, is designed to break the pain cycle and allow the body to finally relax.
The body can only heal and detoxify in a relaxed state.
Many other treatments may focus solely on the painful part of the body.  If the shoulder is painful; the shoulder is treated.
However,  with the Bowen Technique, if the shoulder is painful, the goal is to treat the entire body, and relax the nervous system, break the pain cycle, and the body will naturally reverse the shoulder issue.  The whole body must be treated in every patient case.
Painkillers may offer temporary relief, to mask the pain, however, the pain cycle and nervous system are not treated.  They both must be treated to have a reversal of symptoms and become pain free.
Don't be surprised if an emotion or two is also released.  Pain in the body can often be the result of stored emotional pain.
This is an amazingly effective yet simple little technique, call Kyra for more information, and click on our Bowen Therapy link for more info.  If you're in pain, there really is no need to suffer or miss out on your favorite activities. 
Dr. Neetu is a Certified Advanced Bowen Therapist since 2002;  She has also taken the advanced training and was one of the first advanced Bowen Therapist in the Lower Mainland.
Her instructor Manon Bolliger was responsible for bringing the Bowen Technique to Canada. 
The Bowen Technique originated in Austrailia.

Dr. Lee's interview with Harold Steves

Dr Lee: Hello Mr. Steves, tell us a bit about your farming background:

Mr. Steves:

I studied genetics at UBC and I am a practicing geneticist.   Our family established the first seed company in BC in 1888. We are still growing, saving, improving, and selling seed from over 50 vegetable varieties adapted to the BC climate.


Dr. Lee: Tell me more about this picture of Victory Garden

Mr. Steves: 

That’s a picture of myself on the far left as a youngster. During WWII people still knew how to grow their own food. We dug up back yards, lanes and roadsides. We grew 42% of our food in Victory gardens. Everything was recycled. Manures and compost were returned to the land. Crops were rotated. Cow pasture was plowed under to grow vegetables, then oats cover crop, then legume hay to add nitrogen, then pastures again.


Dr. Lee: How has the city of Richmond responded to pesticides and GMO?


Richmond banned cosmetic pesticides in 2009 and GMO’s on May 28, 2012

• After over 50 years of monoculture soils are depleted. It’s scientifically impossible to produce more food with minerals and microbes that no longer exist in the soil. Yet that is the GMO claim

• GMO’s do not produce more food to feed the world. GMO’s are designed to kill weeds with round-up or 2-4-D. That is all.

• To feed the world we need to maintain our genetic diversity, and replenish our soils.

Dr. Lee: What is an anaerobic digester and the compost trial?

Mr. Steves;

Through the green can program, residential yard and food waste are taken to a facility on Westminster highway and put into these large tall structures called anaerobic digesters.  These anaerobic digesters help turn the food waste into organic matter called compost. 

Our compost has been tested and showed to be so clean that it can be used to put back into our organic farm soil and gardens to help nourish the soil.   This is a very exciting project. 


Dr. Lee: Are there other exciting projects that are happening in Richmond?

Mr. Steves:

Yes, there are!  You will soon hear some exciting news about the Garden City Lands and the proposed land use.  Also, near the Brio clinic, the new development called The Gardens will also have community gardens and dedicated farm land that Kwantlen University students will be using to do research and learn more on organic farming practices.


Take Some Time For Stretching !


Here comes the season when you can just leave your jackets in the closet while heading outdoors to enjoy the longer, warmer days ahead.  With summer on the horizon, many of us are already engaged in physical activities made better by the fresh air, whether it be going for a run, playing a game of tennis, soccer, golf or beach volleyball.  Some of us can get a little rusty over the winter and think a good long stretch before pounding the pavement is the thing to do, but be mindful of the type of stretching you do!

  Recent studies have come to the conclusion that it is best to do a warm-up that complements the type of movements you'll be doing in your workout or game, but with a slightly greater amplitude of range of motion.

 Dynamic stretching is considered to be far more beneficial than the standard old static stretching our high school gym teacher used to tell us to do.  Dynamic stretching consists of controlled movements of your limbs and trunk taken in ease to the limits of your range.  It improves body awareness, neuromuscular control and functional flexibility. Furthermore, it increases body temperature far more effectively than static stretching. some examples of these are knee ups, butt kicks, side lunges arm swings etc. etc. There are many examples available on You Tube but use your common sense and if in doubt, talk to your fitness or health care provider.

As for static stretching, which can be defined as stretching a muscle until there is resistance and holding that stretch for a specific amount of time ( usually 20-40 seconds) , studies show that it tends to have a negative impact on athletic performance, by hindering the capacity of the muscle to produce force* for even up to an hour!  Holding a stretch position doesn't help prepare for exercise as much as it does for increasing your potential range of motion. Static stretching is best done after the workout, as part of the cool-down, or as just an activity by itself.

 Sometimes muscles feel restricted to the point where any amount of stretching just doesn't provide relief.  Areas of adhesion in the tissues can restrict normal physiological movement and be resistant to lengthening.  This is when you need to bring out the foam roller to provide a little massaging compression. Fascial release products like "The Stick" and "Acuball" and many such others are readily available in stores now and are great for self- care at home.

 And of course, your Massage Therapist can help too! Try scheduling a massage treatment near or on the day of your most intensive workouts. A massage afterwards can help reduce post- exercise inflammation ans speed recovery**

Cheers to health!

Linda McLaren RMT

Navigating GE Foods Part 2: Pesticides, GM crops in Canada















Dr. Lee: What about pesticides found in foods? 

There are studies showing pesticide residues in children fed a conventional diet compared to an organic diet.  Of these 84 papers in total, at least 80% of them show a POSITIVE association between pesticide exposure and various cancers.   


Dr.Lee: What are Genetically Modified Crops grown in Canada?

A good website to know is  Below you will see a chart taken from the cban website showing a list of GM crops grown in Canada and the GM foods imported to Canada. 


Dr.Lee: Can you provide us with a list of hidden GM ingredients in our everyday foods?

Below is a very detailed list of invisible GM ingredients. 










Dr.Jeff: Thank you so much for sharing your information with us.  To learn more about Richmond Food Security, please visit

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