Tag Archives: diet

Gluten: what is all the fuss about anyway????

Isn’t it amazing how hard it is to make sustainable changes in your diet and/or exercise program between all of the holidays and celebrations that just seem to keep coming? Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE holidays, birthdays, parties for no apparent reason, book club meetings, happy hour, after-work get-togethers, lunches with friends: my point is that there never seems to be a ‘perfect time’ to try to create some new habits. I have been thinking about this long and hard as 2014 has started and is now well under way(almost 1/6 th over, how did that happen???). Lately I have been immersing myself into reading about gluten/wheat/inflammation/belly fat. I am just about done reading the excellent book “Wheat Belly” by cardiologist William Davis, MD. In addition, I recently attended a terrific conference on gluten and I am getting more and more convinced that for some of us, gluten can cause some significant health problems.

My beautiful birthday group: yet another celebration!

My beautiful birthday group: yet another celebration!

Candace and I are both fascinated by the links between diet, hormone balance and weight issues. This has become quite a hot topic in the last few decades.  There is so much information that it can be overwhelming for most of us to sort through: which diet is best?:  low-fat, low carb, high protein, no grains, no sugar, vegan, vegetarian, Paleo: the list is endless and the media is constantly profiling contradictory studies about each of these programs, therefore adding more confusion to the mix.

Obviously, there is not one diet type that fits everyone on this planet. Each of us is born with a certain ‘genotype’, or genetic code, that determines about 30% of who we are and how healthy we will be. The great news, however, is that our ‘phenotype'(how we look and who we are, in terms of personality, health and everything else you can think of) is shaped by our environment and the choices we make. In other words, we have a great deal of say in who we become and what level of health we can reach and maintain. 

Making the right choices when you eat is pivotal to how healthy you look and feel

Making the right choices when you eat is pivotal to how healthy you look and feel

Getting back to gluten and wheat: what we now know is that the wheat that we consume now compared to what we consumed 50 years ago is very different. There has been a push to make the grains that we eat grow faster(leading to greater yields of crops, i.e. more profit for the farmers and all involved in the food supply chain). The wheat we now consume has between 50 and 500% greater gluten content than what was available a mere half century ago. Why is this important? Studies have shown that an individual consuming present-day wheat has a jump in blood glucose(sugar) higher than when then that same person eats white sugar. This is very alarming indeed.

Here is a quick overview of what happens when your blood sugar goes up after eating: Your body can do only 3 things with an elevated blood sugar: use it as energy, store it as glycogen in the liver or store it as fat. Well, guess what? If you are consuming more calories than what you are burning, you don’t need the glucose for energy. In addition, your body can only store so much as glycogen, so the majority gets stored as fat. Insulin is the hormone that is released by the pancreas in response to an elevated blood glucose and allows your body to use the glucose(and store it as fat). Over time, if your body is continually bombarded by a rise in blood sugar, your insulin becomes resistant and you need more of it to utilize the glucose, leading to more fat storage: this becomes quite a vicious cycle! Once your body becomes insulin resistant, it is harder to lose weight, something we hear all the time: “I just don’t eat that much and I cannot seem to lose weight, especially around my middle”. Eventually insulin resistance leads to Type II Diabetes, a road that you would rather not go down if you can avoid it.  And you can: that is the excellent news. By changing your diet and your exercise routine, you can return to the path towards optimal weight and hormone balance.

You can look and feel wonderful when your hormones and diet is balanced

You can look and feel wonderful when your hormones and diet is balanced

So is going gluten-free for you? Honestly, I cannot answer that and I don’t know if it has a huge impact on me. What I DO know is that many of the women that I see as patients have given up gluten, either by my or someone else’s recommendation, and the effect for many has been profound. I am going to ask several of them to write some comments about what happened to them individually, as I think that will be more powerful than hearing it from me. Briefly, they have noticed weight loss, clearer skin and thinking, increased energy, loss of belly fat and an overall sense of well-being. If it sounds too good to be true, it is not. For the millions of people who are gluten intolerant, giving it up can be a game changer. My goal is to go off of gluten completely starting March 1st and stay off for 21 days.  Please feel free to join me, as so many of you have in the past with our ‘consciousness cleanses’. It is nice to have company when embarking on a new way of eating and it will be fun to see what we notice individually and as a group.

Stay tuned: more info to come on what you can and cannot eat. But don’t worry: there is still an amazing selection of food out there that is without gluten. We will eat well and hopefully we will notice some significant differences in how we look and feel.

That's me inside of a 1000 year old plus tree: now that's sustainable living!

That’s me inside of a 1000 year old plus tree: now that’s sustainable living!

4 Comments

Filed under Essentials, Kyle Bell McAvoy, Whole Eating, Women's Health & Happiness

Hormone Balancing for the Man in Your Life – Is there a Male Menopause??

O-h-h-h yes, whether he thinks so or not! Men are no more immune than are their female counterparts to a drop in hormone production with age. The so-called “male menopause” or “andropause” (in medical speak) signifies the natural midlife retreat of the male hormones (androgens), testosterone and DHEA. Testosterone in particular, is the most potent force driving mental and physical energy in men. But the rate at which these hormones decline and how steep the descent has everything to do with work/life balance, diet, stress levels, sleep and lifestyle.

The 2006 HIM Study found that nearly 40% of US males over 45 years old had low testosterone levels (an estimated 13 million US males), however the majority of men in the study did not recognize that the weight gain, sore muscles, lack of libido, insomnia, and burnout they were experiencing could very well be tied to a hidden hormonal imbalance – instead they put their symptoms down to “just getting old.”

Image

Women get all the attention in menopause…but what about the men in our lives?? They too suffer the slings and arrows of declining hormone levels, but don’t always know what’s hit them!

 

 What causes declining hormones in men?

In his prime, 95% of a man’s testosterone is formed in the testes. The balance, along with DHEA, the precursor of testosterone, is supplied by the adrenal glands. As he ages, brain signals to the testes to ‘make more testosterone’ start to weaken, hence the signal is not picked up and hormone levels start to downsize. By the time the average Joe hits his 40’s, testosterone levels are down forty to 50 percent and the adrenal glands are having to pick up the slack. Sidenote: this is when it becomes more important than ever at midlife to reduce stress so that the adrenals do not become overwhelmed and unable to provide sufficient hormone supplies. Weight gain, poor diet, and lack of exercise on top of high stress demands further lower testosterone, impacting the stamina, competitive drive, and virility we commonly associate with the male of the species.

How’s a Guy to Know?

The first thing a man entering andropause generally notices is a subtle downward shift in strength and energy as hormone levels taper off.   Muscle tone and stamina are the first to go and he starts to gain weight and that “spare tire”.  He may also develop a voracious appetite and food cravings he never had before. As symptoms kick in, hormone testing can identify hidden imbalances that complicate symptoms of andropause and contribute to rapid aging . 

Got symptoms of Andropause?

–       Weight gain in the hips, thighs, waist, and/or breasts

–       Decreased muscle mass/sore muscles

–       Increased body fat

–       Decreased strength/stamina/endurance

–       Poor recovery from exercise

–       Burnout and fatigue

–       Lack of mental clarity

–       Decreased sex drive and/or competitive drive

–       Prostate problems

Image

Muscle tone and stamina are the first to go when male hormones are out of balance….it gets tougher to win at arm wrestling….and those six-pack abs start to slide into a “spare tire” of fat around the middle.

Men with symptoms need to test these hormones for imbalances:

Testosterone –  an anabolic hormone that builds and maintains muscle mass, bone density, strength and stamina. It is also linked to libido, mental clarity, memory and energy.  Low or suboptimal levels are a strong indicator of andropause; deficiencies are linked with loss of lean muscle, increased weight, body fat, and BMI with a corresponding drop in metabolic rate.

DHEA –  the primary source of testosterone and other hormones in the body; DHEA partners with testosterone to build and maintain lean muscle and bone mass, increase metabolism and reduce body fat. Deficiencies are linked with decreased lean muscle mass and increased adipose tissue or body fat. Low DHEA is also linked with adrenal imbalances of cortisol and adrenal fatigue.

Estrogen – promotes growth and healthy cell division; protects the heart, brain, reproductive organs and glandular function.  High estrogen hormone imbalance promotes a female pattern of fat gain in men; it also depletes testosterone levels, and inhibits thyroid to slow metabolism way down. 

Cortisol –  secreted by the adrenal glands, it has a variety of functions including: regulating the stress response, energy, blood sugar levels, and the immune system. High or low cortisol levels disrupt blood sugar and insulin levels which decreases metabolism and increases fat storage.

 

How hormone imbalances trigger weight gain in men

 Undetected hormonal imbalances can cause unwanted pounds that are difficult to shed especially as men get older. When testosterone or DHEA levels decline below optimal levels, men start to lose lean muscle mass, which is readily replaced by body fat, and those much vaunted six-pack abs start to slide into a spare tire of fat. The more body fat, the more estrogen is produced – a vicious cycle that depletes male testosterone by actually converting it to estrogen in fat cells. And it doesn’t end there. Imbalances of estrogen and related hormones like cortisol (the master stress hormone that helps to regulate blood sugar and insulin levels) not only suppress available testosterone, but also slow down thyroid metabolism…. while the pounds pile on.

How can men balance their hormones naturally to boost energy, stamina, libido, and lose that “spare tire” for good?

As aging and bad health habits put the brakes on hormone production,  the decline can be more precipitous in some men than others. Testing male hormone levels is the first step to understanding why, and what you can do about it. My first suggestion is to order either a Male Hormone Test kit, the new Weight Management Profile, or Advanced Plus profile (all of these comprehensive home collection kits test levels in saliva and or bloodspot) from Canary Club at www.canaryclub.org. When you get your hormone results back, (usually within 3-5 days from the time the lab receives your hormone samples) you can book a  consult with your physician (go to Find A Provider at http://www.zrtlab.com) of if you prefer a phone consult, you can book one with me, Candace at www.yourhormonebalance.com  In an hour coaching session we will review and discuss your results, and your what next options. You will also receive a follow-up personal hormone balance plan within a week of our consult.

Image

Back on track – Men just as much as women need to balance their hormones to maintain their moods, memory, mental clarity and mojo!

 

Men in balance do this:

-Determine their symptoms of hormone imbalance from the list above. Two or more moderate to severe persistent symptoms indicate a problem. 

– Test their hormone levels to detect and correct imbalances linked to symptoms.

– Followup with a physician or health coach.

-Losing weight is key to rebalancing hormones. Fat cells contain aromatase, an enzyme that robs available testosterone by converting it to estrogen. That is when men start to get a female pattern of fat distribution in the hips, thighs, bottom and breasts (anyone heard the term “moobs”)!

-Stick with a program!  A Mediterranean style diet that is  low glycemic, low carbohydrate, low fat, high protein, high fiber (whole grains, cruciferous vegetables, legumes, seeds, etc.)  can go a long way towards balancing your hormones to balance your weight.

-Throw out testosterone robbers like caffeine, alcohol, cigarettes, and unnecessary stressors like overbooking yourself, etc.

-Take up strength training or weight bearing exercise to boost testosterone and DHEA levels naturally by building up lean muscle mass.

-Counteract stress (the higher the stress levels, the lower the testosterone) with regular exercise – 45 minutes is optimal but even 10 mins. 3x a day adds up to 30 minutes and that is GOOD.

-St-r-e-t-c-h and breathe deep to release tension held in the muscles and lower stress hormones

-Hit the sack earlier – less than 7 hours sleep disrupts appetite hormones to increase cravings and feelings of hunger

-Take time to do the things you enjoy! Stress reduction is the key to normalizing cortisol levels.  

Image

Consider these hormone support supplements to rebalance your levels: 

  • Bioidentical* forms of testosterone (gel, patch,pellets or injections) in appropriate amounts as prescribed by a physician and/or Progesterone in low doses to keep estrogen levels in check, thereby increasing active and available testosterone supplies. NOTE: progesterone inhibits the action of “bad estrogens” as well as testosterone by-products that can lead to enlargement of the prostate gland. Note: men use less than women and should discuss dosage with a doctor.
  • DIM (an extract of cruciferous vegetables) – promotes “good estrogen” metabolism and rids the body of excess/or toxic xenoestrogens to free up available testosterone and correct imbalance
  • DHEA the precursor of male testosterone boosts levels through natural conversion in the body. It is best used along with DIM and a men’s multi-vitamin with trace minerals like zinc, selenium, etc. to promote active thyroid hormone production, and inhibit loss of testosterone through conversion in fat cells
  • 7-Keto DHEAa metabolite of DHEA acts upon lean muscle mass to reduce body fat and rev up your metabolism
  •  Chromium and adaptogenic herbs (e.g. garcinia cambogia, banaba leaf, gymnema slyvestre) formulations –  help normalize cortisol levels, regulate glucose and insulin levels, tame appetite, sugar cravings, and deflate that spare tire
  • 5HTP (the natural precursor of melatonin) – at bedtime if you have trouble sleeping
  • Cal-Mag and Vitamin Ddeficiencies are linked with increased body fat
  • EFAs (essential fatty acids, like Omega 3) and Ubiquinol (spark plugs of cellular energy) – support hormone production, reduce inflammation and protect the heart
  • Vitamins C and B-Complex (B1-12) – to boost energy, and strengthen/support adrenal function and adaptation to stressors.

 Note: all supplements to be taken as directed.  Talk to your physician or pharmacist about appropriate dosages. Retest hormone levels in 3 months to track progress.

*bioidenticals are hormones made from plant based compounds that duplicate natural hormone structure and function without the side effects of synthetic versions.

For more on this heady subject see my April 8, 2013 post on Low T ads- boosting testosterone boils down to balance

 

 

 

3 Comments

Filed under Women's Health & Happiness

Hormones: The Hidden Truth About Weight Gain

What’s the hormone weight gain connection?

 Well, for starters hormones are f-u-n-d-a-m-e-n-t-a-l when it comes to women and weight, key players in regulating how many pounds we put on and where, our rate of metabolism, blood sugar, insulin, AND whether or not the body decides to burn fat or store it.  Thus it can be notoriously difficult to maintain a normal healthy ideal weight if an undetected hormone imbalance is silently sabotaging your best efforts to stay slim.

 As we age, shifting hormone levels trigger imbalances that cause numerous symptoms, chief among them increased fat deposition in the hips, thighs, bottom and belly ( the kind that won’t budge no matter how many crunches we kill ourselves doing), not to mention sugar cravings and/or a raging appetite that induce one to overeat of all the wrong foods leading inevitably to weight gain in all the wrong places. Maddening! So it is no coincidence that the highest prevalence of obesity (as reported by the Centers for Disease Control) is found among midlife men and women over 40, those folks in the very throes of the hormonal woes.

 The Typical Symptom Picture

Women in  perimenopause, (the transitional years starting in our late 30s, early 4Os that end with the end of  periods at menopause)  are the first to notice the encroachment of surplus adipose  and may be WAY frustrated that they can’t shed pounds as easily as they used to. These are the women who simply can’t abide the stubborn belly fat they never had before and will do just about anything to get rid of it. Trouble is doing anything and everything if it does not include detecting and correcting a hidden hormone imbalance will ultimately prove fruitless. These are the women who say that since they hit menopause they can put on pounds just looking at a sweet roll.

Image

 Men over 40 whose hormones are downsizing as they move into andropause (a.ka. the male menopause) may notice a drop in strength stamina and the slow slide of ‘six-pack abs’ into an abdominal ‘spare tire’ of fat.

 Younger women and adolescents, particularly those whose dietary and sleeping habits are seriously lacking, are also  at risk for hormone imbalances that encourage excess weight gain or obesity. The CDC tells us that obesity rates among teens and adolescents are also at epidemic levels.

 Can’t Lose Weight? Blame it on your Hormones!

 Do the following symptoms sound familiar?

  • weight gain in hips, thighs, breast (known as gynecomastia in men)
  • belly fat
  • water retention or bloating
  • premenstrual weight gain
  • PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome)
  • increased appetite/hunger/a sense of never feeling full
  • sugar cravings
  • decreasing lean muscle being replaced by increased body fat
  •  low thyroid symptoms: can’t lose weight, stalled weight loss, sluggish metabolism,
  • tend to regain weight once lost (sometimes more)
  • can’t get to sleep/stay asleep

 Got two or more (troubling or persistent) symptoms? These are hallmarks of weight linked hormone imbalances that could be thwarting your ability to lose weight, and/or control your weight over time. There is no better approach to avoiding serious obesity-related diseases such as Type2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and breast cancer, than maintaining a healthy weight.

 The Missing Link: Hormone Testing

 Attempting to maintain a healthy weight without taking hormone levels into account, is like starting a weight loss program without ever stepping on a scale or measuring your waist line. Sidebar: for the average women, a waist circumference over 35″  (in men, over 40″) is an important marker of insulin resistance* /metabolic syndrome**  harbingers of Type 2 diabetes.

Image

*when muscle cells become desensitized to the actions of insulin they shut down and resist taking up glucose for energy and calorie burning. So what happens instead is that sugar is shunted into fat, particularly around the waist! Mon dieu!!
**that cluster of metabolic mishaps that include: high blood pressure, high Triglycerides, low HDL,  insulin resistance, and abdominal obesity as the primary determining factors.

Your Best Efforts to Control Your Weight  can be derailed by undetected imbalances of:

Estrogen

-Progesterone

-Testosterone

-DHEAs

-Cortisol

-Vitamin D

-Thyroid hormones

-Insulin

Eating whole, hormone- free foods, exercising, reducing stress and exposure to environmental toxins, getting enough sleep, and using natural hormone therapies and supplements as needed can help you raise the bar to ultimate weight control.

Image

So ……IF:

  • You’ve tried every diet
  • You eat healthy, whole foods for the most part
  • You workout or get regular exercise
  • You weigh yourself every morning
  • For gawd’s sake you even ran a marathon last week….and STILL cannot lose weight !!!

Have you considered testing your hormones?

I trust that by now you are all ears,  and if so I encourage you to keep them perked, listening and  learning at our webinar, “The Hidden Truth About Weight Gain and Hormones”, coming up this Wednesday, the 16th of October, at 9am. ZRT Laboratory will be hosting the webinar as they have recently developed a special hormone test collection (a.k.a. The Weight Management Profile), that detects hormone imbalances linked to weight gain as well as major risk markers for insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome and diabetes. As the past director of education at ZRT and now a consultant, yours truly will be presenting. Join me for some life changing edutainment. The webinar is of course free to all comers (and who knows we might just give away a hormone test kit).  Here is the link to sign up for the webinar, coming up very soon, this wednesday in fact, Oct. 16th, just a week away: http://www.zrtlab.com/specialty-profiles/weight-management

 

 

 

1 Comment

Filed under Women's Health & Happiness

Ready, set , go(!) back to cleaner eating

I spent the last week traveling to NYC to attend my third IFM(Institute of Functional Medicine) Integrative Health Care symposium. The focus this year was on how our lifestyle can have a far-reaching effect on our health, particularly what and how we eat, how active we are and how we manage our stress.

What a perfect segue to our next ‘cleanse’! And as always after this type of conference, I walk away with a renewed awareness of and commitment to eating a cleaner, more nutritionally balanced and life-sustaining diet. I will be sharing with you many of the ‘pearls’ that I gleaned from attending this symposium so do stay tuned.

In case you don’t know what functional medicine is, briefly it is a shift in how we view the body. Often in Western medicine, we focus on the symptoms an individual presents with, which usually occur in a constellation of sorts, leading us to a particular diagnosis of pathology or disease. Functional medicine goes beneath the symptoms and tries to understand what mechanisms are ‘broken’ or altered so that the focus of treatment is more on correcting the imbalances and  the changes , and by supporting the various components of the immune system.  One of the main distinctions of functional medicine is a comprehensive evaluation of the individual’s lifestyle and careful attention is aimed at improving this. Studies have shown over and over again that many of the diseases that are prevalent in our western culture are directly linked to poor and inadequate nutrition(whether it be due to overeating of processed foods or simply not getting the correct balance of micro-nutrients).  Chronic stress is linked to the development of cardiovascular disease, cancer, mood disorders, and many others.

Poor diet, chronic stress and lack of exercise are also associated with hormonal imbalances, which we have talked about in many of our previous blog posts.  Whenever I meet with my patients who is obviously struggling with symptoms of hormonal imbalances, I always stress that along with testing and treating the obvious indicators, we will also devote quite a bit of time addressing dietary, activity(or lack thereof!) and life quality factors. Otherwise, hormonal treatment will only work for awhile and soon the patient will be back to square one.

Some of my favorite herbal teas and sweetener

Some of my favorite herbal teas and sweetener

By embarking on a mini-cleanse like this, you are doing your body a favor on so many levels. Remember to eliminate alcohol, caffeine(green tea is okay, as it has so many health benefits), sugar(other than stevia, small amounts of honey/agave or coconut sugar) and whites: pasta, rice, flour and potatoes. I will be on this starting Monday, March 4th , going through Friday March 8th and then I will resume on Monday, March 18th through Friday March 22nd. Please join in for the 10 days of your choice and as always, join in the conversation by posting a comment on the blog or on the Facebook page of Pearl Women’s Center. For more suggestions and information on how to do the cleanse, please refer back to my previous posts.

Eat a wide variety of fruits: the best 'dessert' of all, full of life-sustaining nutrients

Eat a wide variety of fruits: the best ‘dessert’ of all, full of life-sustaining nutrients

Kudos to all of you who are joining me!

2 Comments

Filed under Hormone Imbalance, Kyle Bell McAvoy, Whole Eating, Women's Health & Happiness

On my way in to work this morning, I heard an interesting and provocative piece on NPR re: the link between WHEN you eat and weight loss or gain. Remember the old adage: “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper”?

Apparently there is some truth to this!

“A new study published in the International Journal of Obesity builds on previous studies that suggest it’s best not to eat too many calories late in the day.

The Spanish study finds that dieters who ate their main meal before 3 p.m. lost significantly more weight than those who ate later in the day. This held true even though the early eaters were eating roughly the same number of calories during the five-month weight-loss study as their night-owl counterparts. ”

Here is a link to the rest of the study:

http://www.nature.com/ijo/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/ijo2012229a.html”>study</a>

It is so interesting to me that over the years, we have seen a rollercoaster of viewpoints on the best ways to eat to maintain a healthy weight. I remember that when I was younger, we were told that the kinds of calories we ate mattered: so we counted how much of our calories came from sugar, fat, proteins and carbs. Then we were told ” a calorie is a calorie is a calorie” and that it really didn’t matter what we ate, just how many calories we consumed. That doesn’t even make sense!!! Imagine eating 300 calories of green leafy veggies throughout the day versus eating 300 calories of M and M’s: how can it NOT matter where the calories come from? One food source is loaded with nutrients and fiber while the other is loaded with sugar and artificial chemicals and clearly has an impact on how much insulin is released to try to negotiate just how that ‘food’ is metabolized???

Also when I was younger, we learned that one shouldn’t eat late in the day, that by doing so, the food could more easily be stored as fat because( as I best remember this!) ‘ our metabolism had slowed down by day’s end resulting in slowed breakdown and resulting in more calories being stored that burned’. I am not convinced that this is truly the reason but it definitely makes sense to me that it does in fact matter when we consume food during the day. But in recent years, we were told(back to the rollercoaster: hang on for dear life!!) that it didn’t matter when we ate. Thankfully this new study does point to evidence that when we eat does have an impact on our ability to maintain our weight.

One thing that has remained constant in ‘diet lore and wisdom’ is that people who eat a nutritious breakfast tend to be leaner than those who skip it or eat poor choices early in the day. So do make sure that you eat a well-balanced breakfast, as it will set the tone for the rest of your day in terms of metabolism, energy and brain functioning.

As always, we would love to hear from you about your own experiences, both good and bad, in terms of achieving and maintaining(or not!) a healthy weight. This is one of the essentials for balanced living and for hormone balance. More to come in the upcoming weeks.

1 Comment

Filed under Essentials, Hormone Imbalance, Kyle Bell McAvoy, Women's Health & Happiness

“What if one small change could improve your WHOLE life”(tagline on cover of October issue, Whole Living)

October is here and with its  arrival comes that wonderful transition between the lazy days of summer and the arrival of cool crisp days, colorful fall leaves(depending of course on where you live!), digging through your ‘winter wardrobe’ and getting re-acquainted with life lived more indoors than out. It is also that time before the arrival of ‘the holidays’ and the onslaught of celebrations, busier schedules, over-indulgence of food and libations, often less sleep and feelings of being overwhelmed.

So this is a perfect time to hit the pause button(for those of you new to our blog, go back to my post from December 9, 2011: “Hitting the Pause Button”) and regroup.  Although summer markets offer wonderful fresh fruits and vegetables and the daylight hours seem endless and filled with activities,  I often feel as though I need a break from my food and beverage habits of the summer before the start of the holiday season: too many late night barbecues and perhaps an over-surplus of happy hour get-togethers(Portland is famous for its selection of happy hours, in case you don’t live here).

Barbecue with great friends, Manzanita, July 2012

Last fall I went on a ‘cleanse’ of my own design for 10 days and I felt so empowered and healthy that I decided to do it again this October. This is not your usual cleanse filled with special drinks and supplements, but rather a very simple one that eliminates specific food and beverage groups. It was designed to make me more conscious of the food and beverage choices that I was making and led me to a better awareness of what I was putting into my body.  I loved how I felt afterwards and its effects lingered long afterwards. Of  course, here it is a year later and I am badly in need of a tune-up.

During some of my recent conversations about this with family, friends and patients, people have expressed an interest in joining me on this 10 day cleanse and have asked me to share this on the blog.  So here goes: starting on Sunday, October 14th , I am going to eliminate caffeine, alcohol, sugar and ‘whites’ from my diet. I plan to do this for 10 days in a row so that Tuesday, October 23rd will be my final day. I chose these dates because they work for ME and my schedule.  If you would like to join me and those dates are not optimal for YOU, play around with the starting and stopping dates but start when you can: the more the merrier!!  I have several friends in my book group who are going to ‘take the challenge’ and we are excited to have the camaraderie and support of one another.

Kyle making better food choices

Ah,  you ask: how did I pick these 4 main groups to eliminate? Essentially all of them have an effect on the adrenal glands and liver, as well as your insulin levels.  As always, it is extremely important to support your adrenals as well as giving them a break from time to time as well!! In addition,  we need to strive for a more steady insulin balance in our daily lives.  The health benefits of maintaining a steady insulin/glucose balance are far-reaching: decreased risk of breast cancer, diabetes, heart disease, dementia….the list goes on and on.

I could have included other food groups, such as dairy, gluten and animal proteins but these have so many health benefits and are not problematic for me. I choose to eat a diet that is primarily plant based in general and when I do eat animal protein, it is always raised organically. Feel free to include other groups to eliminate that will benefit you : modify and individualize this cleanse so that you get the most out of it.  Perhaps you will choose not to eliminate caffeine. I have heard many concerns about caffeine-withdrawal headaches, which are valid: you might try gradually decreasing the amount of caffeine you take in rather than going cold turkey.  You could try substituting herbal teas at times which might help you become ‘caffeine-free’ by the end of 10 days.

In terms of ‘sugar’, I plan to eliminate any item that contains simple sugar and focus on foods that contain natural sugars instead. I  like to use stevia or Truvia as a sweetener, as it comes from the stevia plant and has no impact on glucose levels. I suppose one could make an argument that honey and agave are naturally occuring sugars, which in fact they are. They do affect blood sugar levels but the rise is not as steep, so  I will leave that up to you whether you would like to eliminate them or perhaps include them in small doses.

And what do I mean when I say “the whites”? White rice, white flour, white potatoes, white pasta, white sugar…..sorry folks, although some of the foods that contain them are often comfort foods and childhood favorites, they are so devoid of nutritional value and are huge culprits in terms of raising glucose levels, they have to go for awhile. There is a great deal of evidence that an excessive level of sugar(glucose) is one of the primary causes of all types of diseases: dental disease, cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases are some of the primary ones. So anything we can do to minimize the amount of sugar we consume will have a powerful impact on our health, as well as our hormone balance.

It always comes back to balance…and hormones...remember insulin is a hormone as well. And all of them work together to help you to feel your best. When one or several of your hormones are out of balance, whether this is caused by stress, diet, lifestyle, aging, genetics or environment, the rest of your hormones will strive to get back to balance but often the ‘new balance’ doesn’t feel that way at all.

A feeling of balance and beauty

So mark October 14th on your calendar and do the cleanse with me . I will include more details about what to include as well before I start so stay tuned. As always, we love to hear from you. Please be sure to comment on the blog as well as on Facebook as some of our readers may not be your ‘friend’ and don’t get to see what you are writing.

See you soon. I look forward to your company during these 10 days.

10 Comments

Filed under Essentials, Kyle Bell McAvoy, Women's Health & Happiness, Women's Work/Life Balance