Author Archives: candacebwell

About candacebwell

Mid-life woman, health educator specializing in hormone balance and wellness during menopause/perimenopause; mother of two beautiful daughters, Jessica 25 and Ryan 22...still happily married 30 years later to David, a photographer and creative soulmate. Lived in London England for 13 years, where I worked in publishing and as an investigative journalist in the health and consumer affairs field. Served as Director of Education for 8 years at one of the largest hormone testing labs in the country. Now working as Hormone Health Educator for the Body in Balance program at a nationwide weight loss establishment. Loving life in Oregon, long walks, hiking, camping, the weather is just my cup of tea, mistiness, rain, cozy ambience, dry (well mostly) sublime summers Travel, study, sketching, quality time spent with friends and family. My goal with blogging to share my curiosity, knowledge, observations, and study with women like me who are seeking to rebalance their energy, health and zest for life by rebalancing their hormones health and lifestyle. Hormones in harmony, LIves in Balance - this is the aim of Menopausibilities blog.

Ending Breast Cancer: Can balancing your hormones help save your life?

When was the last time you thought about your personal risk for breast cancer? Hopefully it’s been on your mind somewhat during this  autumnal month of  National Breast Cancer Awareness. But let not the disappearance of pink ribbons as October wanes, rob us of the greater message of our hard won awareness. That despite all the money raised and billions spent, we still have no guaranteed treatment for breast cancer. In the meantime, let’s face it, continuing the war on cancer with the latest designer drugs or procedures is big business. Sometimes it works and we survive to race for the cure. But breast cancer keeps catching up, and overtaking too many of us. One in eight women; the numbers have not budged. In North America a woman dies of breast cancer every 12 minutes. Still no cure. Except to prevent it in the first place.  I don’t mean to sound glib, but I have science on my side here. Prevention is Doable.

Not every breast cancer is inherited. In fact, the majority manifest as the end result of risks we knowingly or unknowingly take with our health every day – the overworked, overfed, overstressed, toxic lifestyle, that over time is a breast cancer waiting to happen.  Many of us are living this way. Many of us are at risk. So. What do we do about it? Is it too late to reduce our odds  to slim and none? Can we do something, right now?

Yes. Absolutely. You can start by losing weight and balancing your hormones.

Womanw:fan

As it turns out, these may be two of the most important actions we can take to reduce breast cancer in our lifetime. The evidence is there, and growing. Numerous studies in the medical literature report the association between out of balance hormones and lifestyle to cancers.

For example, a recent study published in Cancer, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society (Dec 2012, vol. 118), found that extra pounds—even within the overweight but not obese range—are linked to a 30 percent higher risk of breast cancer recurrence and a nearly 50 percent higher risk of death despite optimal treatment. Given that the most common type of breast tumors are fueled by excess estrogen, and that fat cells (via aromatase conversion) are mini-estrogen producing factories, pinpointing the hormonal links to weight gain is a key to preventing breast cancers.

Dr. John Lee, M.D. and David Zava, Ph.D. are at pains to make that very point in their groundbreaking book, What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Breast Cancer: How Hormone Balance Can Help Save Your Life. “Experts agree that environmental risk factors, such as diet and exposure to toxins, account for about 80% of breast cancers, and genetic factors account for about 20 percent. Even those who happen to have a genetic predisposition can improve their chances of dodging a breast cancer diagnosis with hormone balance and a healthy diet.”

1619283_700408526658473_1659180964_n

So what are the best ways to dodge a breast cancer diagnosis in the first place? To RAZE (as in demolish) your personal risk for breast cancer it is GOOD to Do These Things:

  1. First test your hormone levels to detect hidden imbalances. Examples such as estrogen dominance or high cortisol stress hormones are associated with weight gain, as well as higher risks for breast cancer.

In case you haven’t heard, ZRT Laboratory just launched a Weight Management Profile that can detect and help correct such imbalances.

  1. If estrogen dominance is identified through testing, take steps to correct it ASAP. An estimated 97% of breast cancers are linked with excess estrogens unbalanced by adequate progesterone.
  2. Fill up on high fiber, cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts that help promote proper estrogen metabolism.
  3. Get your “good fats” in avocados, olive/coconut oils, nuts and seeds to help inhibit tumor growth, boost immunities, and reduce inflammation.
  4. A daily dose of 64 oz. of water can flush out free radicals and toxins that invite cancers.
  5. Avoid bad “xeno” hormones with hormone-free meat/dairy/poultry. Also make sure to microwave in glass or ceramic vs. plastic containers, drink from non-plastic water bottles, and choose “green” household, garden and personal care products.
  6. Minimize stress to stabilize cortisol, blood sugars and insulin levels. When those levels are elevated, they provide raw fuel for tumors. Prioritizing time to de-stress, eat right, get enough sleep, and exercise are HUGE when it comes to  boosting your immune reserves against cancer.

So there you have it!  Seven lifesaving steps to balancing your hormones which in turn will reduce your own personal risks for breast cancer, which in turn will help to prevent it ever happening in the first place,  to you or to anyone else, which in turn will eventually put an end to this dread disease we don’t deserve.

What we do deserve is for the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and all the other prestigious scientific bodies out there to prioritize prevention. (Note: NCI still spends the majority of its entire budget on treatments and diddlysquat on research into prevention.)  Time to take the pink earbuds out and turn all that awareness into action.

3perisHere’s another blog that gives you more information on hormone balancing. Just click on the link: http://menopausibilities.com/2012/05/23/you-could-be-walking-around-with-a-hormone-imbalance-and-not-even-know-it-oprah-said-that-but-what-did-she-mean-hormone-imbalance-defined/

2 Comments

Filed under Women's Health & Happiness

Aging is Not a Botox Deficiency!

I recently attended an ANTI-aging conference in Denver dedicated to the concept of helping people deny the inevitable through any and every means possible…from perfectly sane approaches like optimal nutrition to less sane so-called cures for growing older, like ‘secretotropins’ meant to magically turn on growth hormone,* or hyperbaric oxygen chambers, and every sort of face fixer and filler in between. Stop the BS (bad science)…I want to get off! This idea of being against getting older is more than ridiculous…I mean it’s not like we have a choice in the matter – aging is inevitable. What is NOT inevitable is looking and feeling old before our time.

Image

Let the stress and the years fall away….

Hidden hormone imbalances at work behind the scenes can speed up the aging process, sabotaging our best efforts to maintain youthful energy and appearance. Our bodies are teeming with hormones from head to toe, so when they fall out of balance, we feel the effects all over – mentally, physically, emotionally. For example, did you know that there are more receptors for estrogen in facial skin than just about anywhere else on the body? So imbalances of estrogen are likely to show up first on our face in the form of fine lines, wrinkles, and crow’s feet. And what about acne when you’re a teen and now again at 40-something you’ve got breakouts… Tested your hormones lately? a surplus of androgens to estrogens and progesterone can trigger acne at any age. asianw:flowerSpeaking of androgens, testosterone and DHEA are the key building hormones for bone and muscle, so when these levels drop from high to low, we start to lose much more than our libido – think bone and muscle mass, firm skin, strength, and stamina. Now we get a backache just carrying a couple of grocery bags from the car to the house. Now our hair is thinning, that outer eyebrow gone, cracking, brittle nails, old looking hands…an under-active thyroid might well be the culprit, but who knew? Then there’s cortisol, the stress hormone that can sabotage sleep by disrupting the production of melatonin at night. Many studies have uncovered the relationship between stress hormones, lack of sleep and weight gain, but the impact of chronically high cortisol from too much stress, too much of the time, is a body burnout that can make us prematurely ill and aged before our time.

Image

Ageless aging in style… look how good it can look…if you can guess the age of the gorgeous silver-haired woman on the left and her gorgeous red-haired amie on the right…I’ll send you a free John Lee MD book on Hormone Balance Made Simple…just comment here on the blog.

During the years I lived in London I happened upon a book that drew some hilarious comparisons between the ways Brits and Americans think…one that stuck with me was to whit that Americans seem to believe that death is optional “given their penchant for juicing copious amounts of carrots and running endless marathons.” (Well…she was writing in the late 70s, when the average European’s idea of exercise was a Sunday stroll along the promenade or lining up to watch Tour de France bikers pedal by)…sure much has changed…we’ve progressed from carrots to coconut water and Europeans boast fountain of youth luxury spas known to pump fetal cells from the likes of sheep into women’s faces (sidebar alert: my own mother actually had that done …an expense that set her back from experiencing life in its fullness for a short-lived fullness in her face).

However absurd, the death is optional concept has always stuck with me as an irony in practice, particularly in respect to the ANTI-aging movement. Is that what we’re striving for? Frozen in time with a frozen face?? Can we realistically expect to look and feel great for our age if instead of eating, exercising, and sleeping well, we overwork, overeat, overreact, and overdo it most days. All that “crazy busy” stuff – it takes its toll. We can’t expect to hate aging and find happiness in face fillers.

Image

All the expensive luxury creams and moisturizers in the world (and by the way, many of these contain unregulated amounts of “endocrine disrupting” chemicals that in themselves can trigger imbalance) won’t solve an unaddressed hormone issue that’s undermining your best efforts to maintain youthful well being.
Dare I repeat myself: aging is NOT a Botox deficiency! No amount of lifting, filling or implanting (who wasn’t shocked at the sight of 81-year old Kim Novak’s once gorgeous face at the Oscars, distorted by plastic surgery gone terribly wrong!) can rescue us from unnecessary stress and other bad hormone habits that accelerate aging. Instead of being ANTI-aging, lets be FOR it. When you make the changes in your lifestyle that bring back inner balance, your outer vibrancy is restored, and it’s that reflected vitality that keeps us young, no matter our age. People will exclaim, “Wow you can’t be…40? 50? 60? really??” and you will smile inwardly and say to yourself…yes, really!

Image

The author and ageless colleague (rt) practicing PRO vs. Anti-aging…can you guess how old we are??? Another free book awaits the one who comes closest.
Scroll down or visit our archives where Kyle and I blog about every aspect of health, hormones and living in balance.
*(how apt that the the first few letters of the word secretotropin, spell ‘secret’* given that few of these costly potions disclose their true ingredients (although in fairness they mean ‘secretory’ but nevertheless… I hope I make my point.)

 

 

4 Comments

Filed under Women's Health & Happiness

True Food awarenesss: Nutrition Month slogan tells us ‘eat foods that taste good’ – but do we like the taste of food that’s GOOD for us?

Eat what you like the taste of..…That’s pretty much the main message for this months National Nutrition Awareness….but wait a minute…so much of what we have all grown to like the taste of is over-sweetened/salted, hormone-injected, denatured, genetically modified, hyper-glutenized fake food that has stifled our taste buds and lost its power to nourish us. No wonder we are confused and bored with the Food Pyramid, USDA food guidelines and the same old messaging which among other guidelines that miss the mark is STILL telling us to eat plenty of grains. Even though we now know that wheat is not wheat as we once knew it, but thanks to better living through chemistry, a high-yield grain overloaded with gluten, a wheat protein that in excess messes with our intestines.

Image

USDA food guidelines are still not hip to the glut of gluten in our food supply since the genetic modification of the staff of life made us stuffed for life…

 

In the last 20 years “the staff of life” (and its carbohydrate cousins – cereals, pastas, pastries etc.) has hybridized into an insulin/fat raising food that has engulfed us in a tide of obesity and diabetes. Why is it that every other person you meet these days seems to have gut problems and/or gluten intolerance? It is not a plague, but it is a plot of sorts… read (Kyle’s past few blogs charting her experience of going gluten-free), and the groundbreaking book she shared with us: Wheat Belly, by William Davis, M.D., which explores the proposition that the health problems of Americans, from fatigue to foggy thinking and belly fat, originates with the innocent bran muffin you down with your coffee every morning.

Image

We’re not talking Breakfast at Tiffanys anymore….that was before Monsanto increased the gluten in your sweet roll 30-50 times…Hard to imagine the ever svelte Audrey Hepburn with belly fat, but if then was now with a croissant and coffee habit every day, no way she’d have slipped so easily into that little black dress.

. Once we learn the truth behind the fabrication of our present food supply, the first thing one wants to do is dump everything out of the cupboards and find a new approach to the care and feeding of our unwitting bodies. Consider this quote from a USDA nutritionist on how the food pyramid came about: Where we called for a base of 5-9 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables a day, it was replaced with a paltry 2-3 servings (changed to 5-7 servings a couple of years later because an anti-cancer campaign by another government agency, forced the USDA to adopt the higher standard). Our recommendation of 3-4 daily servings of whole-grain breads and cereals was changed to a whopping 6-11 servings forming the base of the Food Pyramid.” She goes on to say that many of her colleagues warned that obesity and diabetes would be the ill-considered result of such a move, which was in fact, “a concession to the processed wheat and corn industries.” No one listened at the time. Since the epidemic of obesity that has risen in tandem with the early food guidelines, the pyramid morphed into the new MYPlate.gov elevating vegetables to the largest portion, though grains are close behind.

Image

The amber waves of grain that nourished us for generations are under assault ….This is not wheat as we knew it and our GI tracts are saying NO to GMOs in the only way they can ….with gluten intolerance, inflammation and imbalance.

 

Finding our way back to True Foods. The question is: How do we not end up obese, diabetic, heart-diseased and afflicted with Alzheimers.) How to reverse this preventable panic….? By jumping aboard the true food train. Dr. Andrew Weil who has written a great cookbook and opened two restaurants by that name says, “True Food is not just for vegans and vegetarians, but for people who are trying to eat healthy, and people who want a good meal that happens to be good for you. The first point was always, it has got to taste right.”

Start with organic fruit and vegetables, good fats, lean proteins free of hormones and antibiotics, gluten-free grains like quinoa, forbidden rice etc. (see Kyles blogs on this) and the known SUPERFOODS, particularly: low-fat plain yogurt, -eggs, -nuts, -kiwis, -quinoa, -beans, -salmon, -broccoli, -sweet potatoes, -strawberries and blueberries. These standouts among food sources make excellent balancing partners with phytonutrients for hormone balancing! And since hormone balance is achievable (one of Menopausibilities essential truths) read on…..

Image

Superfoods; the nutritional powerhouses, rich in fiber, vitamins, antioxidants and plant nutrients will restore tastebuds that had long forgotten natural flavors….always best when organic of course…reject those sprayed with herbicides and pesticides that bankrupt their nutrient stores.

Normalization of  key hormone players in the body can be achieved by balancing hormones naturally with superfoods and phytonutrients, plant hormones found in whole foods and grains such as soy and flax seed. Eating cooked (not overcooked) cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, brussels sprouts and cauliflower, (and judicious amounts of crucifers in the raw), can encourage proper metabolism of estrogens in the body and help to clear excesses and xenoestrogens (chemicals from the environment that mimic estrogens to a toxic extent in the body) from the system.

Other phytonutrient-rich foods known to support hormone balance include (in order of amount): flax seed and breads; beans and legumes, soy milk, yogurt and tofu (again, in judicious amounts); sesame and sunflower seeds; multigrain (in moderation and or gluten-free alternatives) and flax breads; hummus; garlic; mung and alfalfa bean sprouts; dried apricots and dates; olive oil; almonds; green beans and blueberries.

Phytonutrients, have been used for centuries for relief of menopausal and/or hormone imbalance symptoms in women.

Image

May we never lose our taste for true foods….they are nature’s gift…just make sure you buy them organic!

 


 

Leave a comment

Filed under Women's Health & Happiness

Hormone Hijack! Women and Weight Loss – Free Webinar – Tomorrow morning – Sign up right now – below…

Weight Loss Winners

If you’ve spent another January battling with your new diet regime only to find your resolve, rather than your weight, deflated you may be experiencing a hormone hijack.In tomorrow morning’s webinar, Dr. Alyssa Burns-Hill, PhD, will help you identify your trouble spots. She will share practical advice about how you can override your hormone saboteurs for an immediate sense of success that can aid weight loss as well as long term weight management – for men and women alike. You will learn:

  • How your willpower can be so easily challenged
  • How your mood can be changed by what you eat
  • How going to the gym might be making things worse
  • How stress and lack of sleep can sabotage your best intentions
  • Why your metabolism may have slowed, making weight loss an almost impossible dream

Date: February 27, 2014 at 11am PT
Presented by: Dr. Alyssa Burns-Hill

alyssa cropped
Dr. Alyssa Burns-Hill, PhD, MSc, FRSPH, MIHPE has clinics in London and the Channel Islands, as well as an international virtual clinic where she helps people overcome imbalance problems naturally. Alyssa’s patients find that stubborn weight, and weight that has changed their shape, effortlessly falls away as a result of learning some key facts about their hormone health.

Mark the time! Tomorrow at 11am free webinar presented by an expert on the subject who lives in Britain and just wrote a book on the very subject …you will love learning tomorrow, not to mention listening to Dr. Alyssa Burns- Hill’s lovely as can be British accent! Here is the link to register now: http://www.zrtlab.com/weight-loss-winners

Leave a comment

Filed under Women's Health & Happiness

Thyroid Games Part II: Protecting Your Thyroid

In Part 1 of Thyroid Games, I zeroed in on the enemies of healthy thyroid function.  In Part 2 we target the best ways to arm ourselves against the worst offenders (listed below) to boost and protect thyroid health.

Keep Estrogen dominance at bay– this imbalance of high estrogen/low progesterone can suppress the active thyroid hormones that drive metabolism. Your best defense: if testing reveals a problem, consider supplementing with natural progesterone to rebalance and keep estrogens in check. Also key is avoiding xenoestrogens, the environmental toxins found in everything from soup cans to shampoos (see below) that increase the body’s estrogen burden. 

Boost low androgen levels (testosterone and DHEA) – deficiencies of the anabolic hormones that build bone and muscle can cause the metabolic rate to implode. Your best defense:  Exercise, particularly strength training to increase lean muscle mass and boost natural androgen production. Also supplementing DHEA at physiologic levels (e.g. the amount naturally produced in the body) or androgen therapy (with physician guidance) can boost levels.

Image

Normalize stress hormones – high cortisol levels run interference on active thyroid conversion leading to weight gain and other common symptoms of thyroid deficiency. Your best defense: Turn down the volume. Are you overworked, overbooked, over caffeinated?  Obviously we can’t avoid all stress, but we can develop strategies to limit the damage.  Deep rest is the opposite of the stress response so taking up meditation, yoga, T’ai Chi, deep breathing walking, and/or creative pursuits, can lower stress hormones on overdrive and free up thyroid. Cutting out the junk foods and caffeine that spike cortisol levels is another key to easing the stress response.

When in China you see women and men doing Tai Chi everywhere in the public parks and along the rivers...these are time tested paths to finding balance

When in China you see women and men doing Tai Chi everywhere in the public parks and along the rivers…these are time tested paths to finding balance


Correct Iodine deficiency
– Enzyme conversion of thyroid hormone depends on adequate mineral levels, particularly of iodine and selenium. Iodine is an essential component of thyroid hormones, T3 and T4, and when levels drop, the thyroid gland is unable to make enough hormone to drive metabolic processes. Dietary shifts away from iodine-rich foods, and vegan diets, have resulted in lower iodine consumption over time. Your best defense: If testing shows a deficiency, consider thyroid hormone and/or iodine therapy. Good food sources are sea vegetables (e.g. kelp, kombu), yogurt, cranberries, strawberries, navy beans, potato (with skin), and Himalayan (gray) salt.

Image

Maintain Selenium levels – though found in minute amounts in the body, a deficiency of this essential mineral (due to denatured soil, poor absorption, and heavy metal exposure), disrupts thyroid hormone synthesis and action. Your best defense:  Test for arsenic and mercury exposure (www.zrtlab.com) that can reduce selenium’s bioavailability in the body. To minimize the bad effects of these heavy metals, consider supplementing adequate selenium (200-400mcg) for anti-oxidant defense and thyroid hormone conversion. Good food sources are found in organ meats, brewers yeast, fish, grains, cereals, and dairy products.

Essential vitamins – Deficiencies of C, D, A, E and B12 vitamins have been shown to be lower in individuals suffering from thyroid disorders. Your best defense: Take your vitamins. Correcting a deficiency through optimal nutrition and supplementing as needed, can go a long way to improving thyroid function. 

Eat whole pieces of fruit every day, loaded with nutrients and full of fiber

Eat whole pieces of fruit every day, loaded with nutrients and full of fiber

Rule out heavy metal toxicity –the environmental pollutants arsenic and mercury, when present at high levels deplete iodine and selenium – key players in thyroid hormone activation.  Your Best defense: Adequate dietary or supplemental selenium which binds tightly to mercury, will help prevent the harmful effects of prolonged mercury exposure. Consider the removal of dental amalgam surfaces strongly associated with mercury toxicity. If you drink well water, have it tested for contamination.

Avoid Xenoestrogens – environmental chemicals disrupt proper hormone metabolism, leading to an accumulation of estrogens that thwart thyroid action. Best defense: choose organic hormone-free meat, poultry, dairy; heat foods in glass or ceramic vs. plastic; switch to BPA-free water/baby bottles, and go “green” with household, gardening and personal care products. Cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, kale) or their active ingredient DIM (when supplemented) help to promote proper estrogen metabolism. Note: moderate intake of crucifers (especially cooked, and judicious amounts of raw used in salads, etc.) is not known to compromise thyroid function.

Breathe deep. Get out in the fresh air. Walk. Run. Play. Paint. Cultivate stillness. Blow bubbles!

Balance is attainable.

Image

 

 

4 Comments

Filed under Women's Health & Happiness

Thyroid Games: The 2014 month-long awareness campaign needs to include hormone balance in the big picture of thyroid health

The average person who can’t lose weight – despite eating right and exercising – is generally frustrated and frankly stumped.

Image

For many, diet and exercise have generally proven effective, and yet now – for some reason – they don’t. Sometimes just a little. Sometimes not at all.

Those who dig deeper often find that weight problems could be due to a sluggish thyroid. Feeling an inkling of hope, many ask their doctors to run a test, and lo’ and behold the results often come back normal.  How can this be?

These results tend to stun – especially when weight gain continues to be an issue and/or we suffer from other hypothyroidism hallmarks – feeling cold, old, stressed and depressed.

Given that so many symptoms of low thyroid overlap with other hormone imbalances, we may not get the answers needed unless we find a healthcare provider who goes beyond the standard TSH test to address thyroid disorders in the broader context of hormone imbalance.

Our bodies produce more than one thyroid hormone. The most abundant is thyroxine (T4), which converts to triiodothyroinine (T3), the most active thyroid hormone in the body. We need our bodies to make plenty of these two hormones since we rely heavily on them for an active metabolism. Image

So one clarifying answer to the original question about that so-called “normal” test result is that testing TSH alone is not going to give us the whole story because it fails to take active thyroid levels into account.

Nor can a single thyroid test identify imbalances of the steroid or adrenal hormones that serve to seriously inhibit thyroid function.

Discovering how well our thyroid is actually working requires a bigger picture assessment of all the hormone levels that matter, not just TSH, T3, and T4, but estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA and cortisol.

It should also include an assessment of iodine, zinc, selenium and other mineral levels that if out of balance can run interference on thyroid hormone production. That’s because when it comes to a healthy thyroid, the efficient conversion of T4 to T3 is imperative – a must occur – if we want an active vs. sluggish metabolism. So, anything that interferes with that crucial conversion process will decrease thyroid function, slow metabolism (to make weight loss even harder), and trigger a raft of low thyroid symptoms.

From hormone imbalances to mineral deficiencies and environmental pollutants, a range of factors can interfere with thyroid production and testing can help identify the worst culprits.*

At the top of the list:

Estrogen dominance – Thyroid problems are far more prevalent in women, particularly those in the menopause transition. That’s because an overstock of  estrogens has the effect of binding up active thyroid hormones on their way to the cells that need them, so it may not necessarily be a failing thyroid gland that is the issue, your thyroid may be working just fine but is encountering the estrogen roadblock! Similar barriers are raised by:

Elevated cortisol stress hormones
Iodine deficiency
Selenium and zinc deficiency
Vitamin D deficiency
Arsenic or mercury toxicity
Xenoestrogen burden
– those big bad environmental chemicals that effectively disrupt estrogen metabolism

Taking action to target and take out these hidden saboteurs of thyroid health can help us master the thyroid games. I’ll talk more about natural ways to win the battle and defeat the enemies of a healthy thyroid function in a follow-up post next week.
*ZRT Lab just recently launched a new Thyroid-Elements test profile available online at http://www.zrtlab.com or http://www.canaryclub.com

Image

 

2 Comments

Filed under Women's Health & Happiness

Can’t Sleep? You Could Have an Undetected Hormone Imbalance!

A century ago most people slept nine to 10 hours a night, a healthy normal for rest and replenishment, but these days we tend to live by the You snooze, you lose maxim. Now most of us are working ten hours a day and getting by on half that much sleep – not nearly enough to recharge our batteries, much less replenish hormone levels. In fact, researchers have a name for those of us who get by on less than five to six hours of sleep a night – “short sleepers” – who not only have a serious fatigue problem but may also suffer from anxiety, food cravings, “stress eating”, AND, get this, higher body fat.
A number of studies out of Stanford and the U. of Chicago attest to the strong association between sleep deprivation and weight gain – particularly belly fat!

Can't sleep at night and can't stay awake during the day? It could be your hormones...

Can’t sleep at night and can’t stay awake during the day? It could be your hormones…

A major cause of our chronic lack of sleep is the fast track stressful culture we live in which leads to overstimulation of the hormones that govern all physiological activities, including sleep. Hormones are meant to follow their own rhythm and diurnal curve. Take for example cortisol, the master stress hormone. It should be at its highest level in the morning to get us up and attam, and decline gradually over the course of the day to lowest levels at night – right before sleep. But what we often observe in the test results of those who list sleep disturbances as moderate or severe, is the absolute reverse where cortisol is low in the morning when it should be high, and high at night when it should be low.

Cortisol levels that are elevated at night seriously interfere with the body’s natural production of melatonin, the sleep hormone. So we toss and turn all night then drag ourselves out of bed in the morning relying on alarm clocks, caffeine, and chocolate to get through the day. By the time bedtime rolls around again, we find ourselves too wired to fall asleep and stay asleep – a classic case of hormone imbalance that has probably been overlooked for years.

Living on a caffeine drip...have you tested your hormones lately?

Living on a caffeine drip…have you tested your hormones lately?

Given that hormones work in tandem with one another to maintain balance, shifting levels of estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and DHEA can also negatively impact the nature and quality of sleep, particularly at midlife.
For example, women in menopause who no longer ovulate have plummeting levels of progesterone and thus become low in this natural sleeporific hormone. Deficiencies of estrogen can cause hot flashes that wake us up in the night, and low testosterone in both men and women can cause muscles aches and pain that make it hard to get to sleep in the first place.

Testing for hormone imbalances that sabotage our slumber is easy enough to do. A convenient home collection kit combines non-invasive (no-needles) saliva testing of steroid/sex and adrenal hormones with dried blood spot testing for thyroid hormones. Results can identify specific hormone imbalances linked to sleep disturbance, chronic fatigue, sugar cravings, stress and other health issues related to a healthy sleep.

To sleep is to be balanced in all ways

To sleep is to be balanced in all ways

You can order a test kit at http://www.canaryclub.org for easy at home collection and return of hormone samples (by regular mail) to the lab for analysis. Test results are not a diagnosis, but can be used by practitioners to facilitate correction of sleep specific hormone imbalances. Always partner with a provider. If you need one, go to ZRT Laboratory’s website:www.zrtlab.com and click on Find a Provider, OR, if you live in or around Portland, Oregon, book an appointment with Kyle at Pearl Women’s Center, www.pearlwomenscenter.com, or if you prefer phone consult/coaching you can book with me at http://www.yourhormonebalance.com to review your test resuts, connect the dots to your symptoms, and design a personal rebalancing plan.

A good nights restorative sleep is waiting in the wings for you – what greater gift can we give ourselves in this season of giftgiving, than that… AND how better to start the New Year than with a long winters nap!
P.S. No cellphones or Ipads allowed by the bedside – the blue light that emits from electronic devices is a serious disruptor of natural sleep hormones!!

Leave a comment

Filed under Women's Health & Happiness