Tag Archives: estrogen dominance

Don’t miss it …..here it comes…..

I have had the pleasure of working with an amazing woman in Portland, OR these past 6 months. What you may not know about me is that I am one of those people who love to network and make connections . As a result, I am able to help my patients on a broader level by putting them in touch with other providers and experts who offer different skills that they might need.  My ultimate goal for each of the women I see is for them to achieve optimal health and wellness and this often ‘takes a village’.

Candace has been educating all of us about the links between unbalanced hormones, unhealthy weight, unmanaged stress, poor food and environmental choices and the risks of developing breast cancer and other inflammatory conditions. It is sometimes hard to understand the physiology behind all of this but bottom-line , “You are what you eat” and what you eat eventually catches up with you, either in a positive or a negative way. There is just no avoiding it so the sooner you make a choice to make positive changes in the way you approach food, the sooner you will feel better and be on the path to long term, sustainable health patterns. Believe me, it gets easier as you go! Little changes, big results(please read the post I wrote on Oct 8, 2012 for more about this):……really. I am not kidding. TRUST ME.

So back to the amazing woman: her name is Andrea Nakayama(functional nutritionist and educator) and she is hosting a terrific webinar this weekend that will explain how hormones and diet can help you achieve your weight goals and hormone balance. I am providing the link below to listen to her program. If for any reason the time that she is holding the live webinar doesn’t fit into your schedule, you will still be able to listen to her talk . That information will also be available through the link provided below.

Invitation to: Andrea Nakayama’s FREE 90-minute webinar, Tipping the Scale: The Role Your Hormones play in Influencing Your Health, Happiness & Weight Loss Goals that’s happening THIS Saturday, October 26th at 9am PT/ 12pm ET. This class will help you to learn the tell-tale signs that your hormones are out of whack. Head to the enrollment page to retrieve a free hormone honing handout, plus 2 additional gifts after you register for the call!

If you have any problems connecting to this link, please e-mail me at kylebmcavoy@gmail.com and I will help you. You can also leave a comment on our blog.
Wishing you balance through lifestyle and awareness. Namaste

Wishing you balance through lifestyle and awareness. Namaste

 

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Banishing The Seven Dwarves of Menopause

September is Menopause Awareness Month but if you listen to certain talking heads in the media lately you’d think we were in the midst of Menopause UNAWARENESS month! Just the other day I heard a so-called expert refer to the perils of progesterone, and how it can cause cancer. But what she was really talking about was its evil twin PROGESTIN, the synthetic form known to heighten risks in women who use it in HRT combos. Real progesterone (aka bioidentical) is a far cry from the Fake synthetic stuff, and there is not a shred of evidence – trust me, the science is on our side here – that natural progesterone in the proper balance does anything but protect us against estrogen-driven breast cancers, AND while its at it, can also bring sweet relief from hot flashes.

Before I descend from my soapbox, allow me to persuade you in our national conversation about menopause this month, to doublecheck what you hear about hormones from a reliable source (like Menopausibilities of course, and others, e.g. virginiahopkinshealthwatch.com; womenin balance.org), and refuse to resign yourself to a bad, sad menopause.  I will gladly go out on a limb here to assure you that nine out of ten times, the extent to which we suffer from the itchy bitchy sweaty (let’s not leave out flabby and crabby) dwarves of menopause is the extent to which our hormones are out of sorts, out of sync, out of balance!

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  • So. If you are feeling:
    ITCHY – your estrogen and/or testosterone levels are likely to be less than optimal
  • SWEATY – your estrogen is probably running low and your progesterone even lower causing hot flashes or night sweats or both!
  • SLEEPY – your master stress hormone, cortisol is upsetting your master sleep hormone melatonin, making it tough to get to sleep and/or stay asleep, thus you are sleepy. (Know any other women awake at 3am?)
  • BLOATED – (and cannot lose weight no matter how hard you try) sounds like estrogen dominance
  • FORGETFUL – (and no way, no how, can you keep a number in your head for longer than 2 seconds) your estrogen testosterone and stress hormones may have gone AWOL along with your memory
  • BITCHY – your cortisol and testosterone levels are out of control, and…
  • PSYCHO – chances are good that your hormone levels overall are seriously out-of-whack!

How do you find out how seriously out-of-whack your hormones really are? By asking your provider to test them to pinpoint specific imbalances (please see my previous blog:How to find a natural hormone friendly provider) or by ordering a test kit online from ZRT Laboratory www.zrtlab.com AND with test results in hand set about exploring your options for rebalancing your imbalances with a qualified provider or hormone health counselor: www.yourhormonebalance.com Image

 

What most women are all too well aware of – like hot flashes, turning 50, and discovering our first chin hair – is that menopause is normal, natural, inevitable. Right. But when it starts to turn into your very own fractured fairytale and the wicked witch is staring back at you in the mirror – this is NOT normal – and it is most decidedly NOT the menopause you were meant to have. We get it that hormones WILL shift and decline as we age, but what makes the difference between a good or a bad menopause is just how shifty the shifting gets and how swift or steep the decline. What matters to menopause is how we live it: how we eat, exercise, take stress in stride, and expose ourselves (unwittingly or not) to toxins that mess with our hormones. Its about that work/life balance and whether we make sacred time for ourselves and those who matter most to us in all the world. And ultimately, it’s about how we support our natural hormonal foundations by topping up (as needed based upon tested hormone levels) with bioidentical hormones that to mimic mother nature without side effects

This is the GOOD Menopause. A time of life when you can find yourself feeling stronger, back in the swing and better than ever! Who Knew? We do! _DBP0555 - Version 2
Please join the conversation and comment here on the blog to tell us how you’ve kicked the seven dwarves to the wood shed ….

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How do Hormone Imbalances Make us Gain Weight ? Let’s Count the Ways!

In my last post I talked about the hormonal links to unwanted weight gain and immovable belly fat. If you simply cannot figure out why you can no longer shed pounds easily like you used to even though you try to eat right, exercise, and take your vitamins every morning, you might be walking around with an undetected hormone imbalance that is sabotaging your best efforts. How does hormone imbalance contribute to weight gain? Let me count the ways!  Better still I’ll let naturopathic Dr. Amy Shah, boil it down for you here (with a few italicized notes from me in there)….read on:
These are the top areas women neglect, even when they think they’re being healthy.
1. You have an estrogen to progesterone imbalance.

Many women — especially those of child-bearing age — have an estrogen dominance problem. If you exercise daily, it’s likely that you’re using up your progesterone and estrogen is dominating. Other causes of estrogen dominance include environmental factors such as pesticides, plastics, industrial waste products, car exhaust, meat, soaps, furniture and carpet.

Diet, most importantly making sure you eat “hormone-free” (the label should clearly read “these animals were raised without hormones or antibiotics) environmental avoidance of xenoestrogens, and taking supplements can bolster your progesterone and decrease estrogen dominance. Check out the Environmental Working Group on line (www.ewg.org) for the full revelations and actions you can take!

2. You’re not getting enough vitamin D.

Possibly due to our awareness of skin cancer and the use of sunscreen, our levels of vitamin D are lower than they were decades ago. Not to mention that we are spending more time working indoors in front of computers, or exercising inside vs. in the great outdoors. Vitamin D in that is it synthesized by the action of sunlight upon the skin acts like a hormone in our bodies, and deficiency has been linked to allergies, asthma, weight gain, fatigue, food allergies and even cancer. Vitamin D levels can be tested by your healthcare provider, and supplemental vitamin D can be found in various forms.

3. You have high cortisol.

High levels of cortisol (our “stress hormone”) is another big reason we tend to store fat and keep weight on our abdominal area until the stressor is minimized or resolved.. I used to wake up very early to do a spin class or intense run, then race home to get ready for work, then deal with my young kids and chores. That increased my cortisol levels and working against my goals of having a lean body.

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If you feel like you need to be on a caffeine drip at all times, it means you’re having too many highs and lows with cortisol as a big culprit. Cortisol is associated with increased appetite, cravings for sugar, and weight gain, belly fat in particular. You need to unwind everyday with whatever it is that shuts off your hypervigilence — even if it’s for 10 minutes per day.

4. You’re eating processed “healthy.”

Excess sodium, GMOs and sugar are all hidden ingredients that are both inflammatory and causes of excess weight gain. Just because it’s at a health food store and it’s “gluten free” or “low fat” or “natural,” DOES NOT mean it’s good for you. It took me a long time to get over this, because packaging with the words “natural” and “healthy” are very enticing.

5. You’re eating too much fat.

Paleo and other higher-fat diets work for some people, but many women, such as myself, don’t do well with them. Our bodies may do well with fat — especially when added to greens — but be careful not to go overboard.

6. You’re skimping on quality sleep.

This still remains tried and true. Your hormones need it. Your muscles need it for repair, and your brain needs it. The two hormones that are key in the relationship between sleep and weight loss are ghrelin and leptin. These hormones operate on the sleep-wake cycle so when you get less than 7 hours a night appetite hormones are disrupted. Put very simply, leptin tells us when to stop eating and when you’re sleep deprived it plummets so you have less. Ghrelin is the hormone that tells you when to eat, and when you’re sleep-deprived, you have more ghrelin and more appetite but may never feel full.

Often when I am having sleep disturbances or jet lag, I use melatonin and magnesium (an all too common deficiency associated with sleep disturbances AND chocolate cravings) as supplements to get me on the right track.

7. You’re not eating your cruciferous vegetables.

Cruciferous vegetables from the vegetable family Brassicaceae include cabbage, kale, cauliflower, bok choy, broccoli and other similar green vegetables. Not only are they good for you because of the feeling of fullness you get from the fiber, but they’re also good for estrogen metabolism through a compound called indole-3-carbinol (I3C). It is a natural source of DIM (3,3-Diindolylmethane) that helps promote estrogen balance AND helps clear the body of the toxic xenoestrogens we pick up from the environment. This is the cheapest, easiest way to get your hormones — and your weight — in balance.
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http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-10296/why-so-many-healthy-women-cant-lose-weight.html

 

 

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Preventing Breast Cancer: Balancing your hormones and your weight can help save your life!

Learning how to lose weight and balance our hormones is one of the most important things we can ever do to help reduce breast cancer risks in our lifetime. I’ve got science on my side when I say this; in fact in a very recent study, researchers at Montefiore Medical Center looked at outcomes in patients with breast cancer and found that despite women receiving the most up-to-date treatment, being overweight or obese increased their risk of breast cancer recurrence by 24 percent and death by 37 percent! The increased risk was specifically linked to women whose tumors were fueled by estrogen – this is significant, given the fact that fat cells are mini-estrogen producing factories (thanks to the action of the aromatase enzyme in fat cells) – so the more body fat we have, the more fat cells we have churning out estrogen – and raising our risks for breast cancer or its recurrence. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) tell us that this is the first time in history more adults are overweight than average sized (!) so needless to say, maintaining an ideal weight is top priority not only in the fight against diabetes and heart disease, but a necessity to protect against breast cancer.

Staying informed about breast cancer prevention is the key to dodging that diagnosis in your lifetime.

The medical literature is full of studies linking hormones and lifestyle to cancers (for an up-to-date archive visit: www.theseventhwoman.org). In the penultimate guide to preventing breast cancer: What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Breast Cancer, How Hormone Balance Can Help Save Your Life,” Dr. John Lee and David Zava, PHD, reiterate the point: Experts agree that environmental risk factors, such as diet and exposure to toxins and pollutants, account for about 80% of breast cancers, and genetic factors account for about 20 percent. Among the environmental risk factors for breast cancer, diet is probably as important as exposure to toxins. 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.

This is exactly why the motto during breast cancer awareness month AND all year long needs to morph into Prevention is the Cure! (see Pinkwashing blog, Oct. 2011 www.menopausibilities.wordpress.com).

So, let’s talk about best ways to improve your odds of dodging that diagnosis in the first place:

  1. First test your hormone levels to detect hidden hormone imbalances such as estrogen dominance, low progesterone or high cortisol stress hormones, that are strongly associated with higher risks for breast cancer. You can order a saliva hormone test kit at lowest prices online through www.canaryclub.org

2. If estrogen dominance is identified through hormone testing, take steps to correct it a.s.a.p. An estimated 97% of breast cancers are linked with excess estrogens unbalanced by adequate progesterone, its’ critical balancing partner. Supplementing with natural/bioidentical progesterone is the first line of defense against breast cell growth fueled by an excess of estrogens relative to other hormones. Losing weight to stop estrogen production in fat cells is every bit as important to reverse this vicious cycle. (The Body in Balance program at MRC Weight Loss Centers emphasizes natural hormone balancing to achieve weight loss goals:  www.emetabolic.com )

3. To lose weight and reduce estrogen dominance choose hormone-free, organic foods, fruits and vegetables as often as possible – reject simple sugars, carbs, and caffeine in excess. Think not that you can’t have them, think instead: I don’t want them! This gives YOU back your power!

4. Eat plenty of cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussells sprouts (and supplement with the active ingredient DIM) that promote proper estrogen metabolism AND actually clear and rid the body of xenoestrogens that dangerously raise estrogen levels. (see “The Cruciferous Connection” Feb. 1st, blogpost: www.menopausibilities.wordpress.com)

5. Get your EFA’s (Essential Fatty Acids – fish oil is the best source) and “good fats” in avocados, olive/coconut oils, nuts and seeds vs. trans/fake fats. Good fats help regulate cell reproduction, inhibit tumor growth, boost the immune system and reduce inflammation.

Whole foods prevent breast cancer

An apple a day still keeps the doctor away…high fiber fruits and vegetables are full of anti-oxidants that keep cancer at bay.

6. Drink at least 64 ounces of water every day to flush out fat, free radicals, and other toxins that invite cancers.

7. Avoid bad estrogens not only by choosing hormone-free foods, but by heating/microwaving in glass or ceramic (never plastic), using stainless steel or BPA-free water bottles, and switching to GREEN household, garden, and personal care products. (see March 3rd blog “Got Milk”, www.menopausibilities.wordpress.com)

8. Normalize cortisol/stress hormone levels that raise blood sugar and insulin levels which provide raw fuel for tumors. Prioritizing ME time to unwind and counteract stress with deep breathing and tension releasing exercise (stretching, yoga, swimming, walking, etc.) can prevent breast cancers triggered by uncontrolled stress. So too can we protect ourselves from the cancer inducing effects of toxic stress by doing the things we love to do and spending time with the people, pets, projects that calm, relax, engage, and ignite our energy, zest for living, and immunities against cancer. Prevention IS the Cure! It’s simply a no brainer.

Love the one you’re with – Studies tell us that the more engaged with life and love we are, the longer we will live, disease-free!

In subsequent posts during breast cancer awareness month I will provide you with specific information about the hormonal links to breast cancer. Meanwhile, if the prevention motto moves you, comment on our blog and tell us how you maintain your weight, balance your hormones, reduce estrogen dominance and protect your girls against breast cancer! 

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Top 10 Hormone Rebalancing Tips: 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.

Return to Balance

No one likes being out of balance, especially when the hot flashes, foggy thinking, and mood swings of menopause leave us feeling like a pale reflection of our former selves. During this hormonally challenged time its important to realize that the extent to which we suffer from troublesome symptoms has much do with the extent to which our lives – and our hormones – are out of balance.

Picture if you will synchronized swimmers all pointing their toes in perfect petal formation at the exact same moment. Suddenly, one of the swimmers takes off in a different direction, let’s call her progesterone, another dives to the bottom of the pool (call her testosterone), a few more decide to make waves (call them cortisols) while the last but not least of swimmers (call her estrogen) takes over the whole routine. All that beautiful synchrony, gone.

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Key hormone players achieve balance through synchrony

And so it goes with us. When our hormones are out of sync, we are out of sync – physically, mentally, emotionally. And because hormones are so mutually dependant (a deficiency of one creates a surplus of another), there are countless opportunities for imbalance. As Oprah put it at the opening of her show on women and hormones, “You could be walking around with a hormone imbalance and not even know it!” Knowing the signs and symptoms of a hidden hormone imbalance is your first big clue, testing and exploring your options is next  …. But before we go any further, let me explain what a hormonal imbalance is…. It’s what happens when one or more of the key hormone players (see Kyle’s most recent blog): estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA and/or Cortisol, fall out of proportion to each other, (or like our synchronized swimmers above, swim off in different directions) that we are left with excesses of one hormone and deficiencies of another, a working definition of hormone imbalance. These unwelcome but inevitable shifts in hormonal milieu can be handled but until we learn how, they can seriously disrupt our  moods, memory, mojo, and zest for living. It can happen to the best of us …I would describe myself during my early experience of imbalance as feeling addled, exhausted and unloving…in a word or two: basket case.  Here now are some of the more common (preventable – seize on that word ladies) doozies:

Estrogen Dominance (flabby, crabby and fed-up) – this mother of all hormone imbalances results from high estrogen levels relative to low progesterone as a result of erratic ovulation, normal aging, hysterectomy (particularly if estrogen therapy is prescribed post-surgery in the absence of its balancing partner, progesterone), and exposure to environmental chemicals known as “xenoestrogens” (see my Feb 1st post: the Cruciferous Connection). Too much estrogen triggers multiple symptoms like weight gain, mood swings, heavy periods/no periods, lost libido, lost pzazz, lost YOU…. It typically begins at Perimenopause (early to mid-40s) when hormones wax and wane, and ends with Menopause (early 50s) when cycles cease and the ovaries stop making hormones for good. Younger women who don’t ovulate regularly (note that lack of ovulation = lack of progesterone) can also be estrogen dominant, plagued by PMS, monthly migraines, tender breasts, water retention and painful periods. So when it comes to hormone imbalance, too much estrogen is just as much an issue as too little. Having said that….

Estrogen deficiency (hot, sweaty, weepy) – low levels of estrogen can trigger that hot flash in the middle of an important meeting, or night sweats in the middle of the night, as well as other bedevilments like vaginal dryness, thinning skin, brittle nails, bones, heart palpitations, fragile emotions, muddled mind….

Imbalances of Testosterone/DHEA and Cortisol (no longer lean, just mean) are a bad combination that deplete energy, metabolism, mental clarity, stamina, and the strength of our bones, muscles, and libido. When for instance, the stress hormone cortisol goes up or stays up, testosterone goes down along with our enthusiasm, drive, and zest for living.

Adrenal Imbalances (tired, wired, and bummed-out): Lows and/or highs of cortisol resulting from unresolved stress, junk food, lack of sleep and exercise, can cause rapid aging and belly fat bigtime – not to mention allergies, insomnia, and chronic fatigue.  This under-recognized imbalance generally makes an appearance in mid-life when the adrenal glands have to pick up the slack in hormone production. The once and future energizer bunny no longer hops but plops, her sunny mood submerged under a black cloud. This is the time when the flack hits the fan if we don’t take better care of ourselves; tired, overworked adrenals eventually burnout and so do we…

Fluctuating hormones at perimenopause when hormone production becomes erratic are usually behind the hair-raising symptoms known to everywoman as the “emotional roller coaster.” That’s when all hell breaks loose and we’ll do anything for relief!

Fortunately we have a lot more control over these ups and downs than we might think. Consider these Top 10 Tips  to empower yourself and return to balance:

1.   Determine your symptoms of hormone imbalance http://www.hormonesynergy.com/women.asp  or http://www.theseventhwoman.org

2.   Test your hormones to detect hidden imbalances http://www.canaryclub.org or http://www.zrtlab.com

3.   If you have an imbalance and need to supplement insist on bioidentical hormones – they are better and safer!

4.   Learn how and when to use natural progesterone, the “great balancer.” http://www.theseventhwoman.org

5.   Support adrenal health with optimal C and B-complex, D3, and herbal tonics such as Dong Quai, Astragalus, Maca, Rhodiola, etc.

6.   Avoid xenoestrogens – eat “hormone free” foods, go GREEN with home, garden, bodycare; microwave in ceramic/glass; reject synthetic hormone replacement (HRT) and any products with unpronounceable ingredients, exercise in the open air whenever possible.

7.    Counteract stress by releasing tension: stretching, deep breathing, yoga, pilates, zumba, walking. Strength train to boost hormones naturally.

8.   Take your vitamin Zzzs – power nap!

9.   Make more ME time

10.  Act the way you want to feel! ( The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin, order at http://menopausibilities.com/womens-health-shop.html)

How do YOU rebalance? Have you got a top 10, or 5, or a Numero UNO all-time best tip you can share? We’d love to pass it on!

Rebalancing amongst the Rhododendrens

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The Cruciferous Connection: Brussels sprouts and the Good Estrogens

You might ask what Brussels sprouts and “good” estrogens are doing in the same sentence, and I am going to endeavor to explain it here in 250 words or less….well, let’s give it at least 500 …this is too important! In my last blog I posted a plea for help in making the humble Brussels sprout taste good, why? Because eating more cruciferous vegetables, which by the way, also include cabbage, broccoli, kale and cauliflower, (plants that have been cultivated for centuries and were originally used as medicines) are super foods that can help me (and YOU)  turn our  bodies into temples of hormonal health and balance!

Brussels sprouts vs. Bad estrogens - a recipe for natural hormone balance

But how, you might ask, is it that the humble Brussels sprout has suddenly taken on this lofty purpose? Well, it’s called the “cruciferous connection,” and it boils down to biochemistry: the active ingredient in crucifers (a plant compound called DIM) when added to one’s daily diet, can right the balance between good and bad estrogens, in favor of the GOOD. Studies show that DIM acts by promoting more efficient estrogen metabolism in the body, multiplying the chance for it to be broken down into its healthy or “good” metabolites ( a.k.a. the “2-hydroxy estrogens” for you biochem buffs) vs. the “bad” metabolites responsible for estrogen’s many undesirable actions like unwanted weight gain, mood swings/depression, and higher risks for breast and uterine cancers.

The GOOD pathway to healthy estrogen metabolism

Most of the benefits attributed to estrogen – protecting our breasts, skin, bones, blood vessels, heart and brain against rapid aging and disease, are known to come from these good estrogens. So back to the brussels sprout – it is that active ingredient in crucifers that ferries our estrogens down the “good pathway” AND at the same time clears excess estrogens due to hormone imbalances like estrogen dominance, or “xeno-estrogens” in the environment. “Xeno” means from the outside, or foreign, and they are about as unnatural and toxic to the body as pouring sugar down the carburetor of your car would be…. they wreak havoc on normal hormonal operating systems by pretending to be an estrogen, mimicking its action but in a negative way. Where do they come from? The pesticides we spray on our rosebuds, the hormone-injected beef, chicken and dairy we eat, (did you know that some milk products can have 11 different kinds of synthetic estrogens?), the face creams, makeup and hair dyes we absorb into our pores, the harsh household chemicals we wash, spray, wipe and flush away into the water supply, the plastic containers we microwave in, soft plastic water bottles we drink from, and synthetic hormones and other drugs we swallow. They are called HRT, RBST, PCBs, PVCs, laureth sulfates, benzene, xanthine and all those other names that get harder to pronounce as you read down the label.

Toxic Xenoestrogens  are like the unwelcome house guest who doesn’t know when to leave. How do we get rid of them? We switch to hormone-free protein sources, from synthetic hormones to bioidenticals, go “green” with household, gardening and personal care products; microwave in glass or ceramic, drink from stainless steel or BPA-free water bottles, exercise in the open air whenever possible. (see Kyle’s most recent blog) AND to take us full circle back to where I began, eat plenty of cruciferous vegetables! (btw: You can also supplement with their extract, DIM, the active ingredient available in health food stores, compounding pharmacies or MRC weight loss centers.)

You’ll be off to a great start right here with all the mouthwatering recipes for B.sprouts provided by YO’ followers: menopausibilities.wordpress.com/category/candace-burch) Brussels sprouts with sea salt, with onions and garlic, with apple and bacon, and even curry and horseradish tossed… (that last one courtesy of Pamela Bateman, visit her stellar website on hormone balance and breast cancer prevention: www:theseventhwoman.org)

"You've Always Had the Power!" Glinda, the good witch (www.davidburchphotography.com)

Next stop on the cruciferous connection: Cauliflower crust pizza… really! Can’t wait to taste it, and any other creative cauliflower recipes out there that you can share, knowing their higher purpose  ….the power to turn bad estrogens into good …and imbalance to balance.

First Essential Truth: Hormones in harmony and living in balance is an attainable goal.


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The GOOD stress: Doing what comes naturally, deliberately.

Contemplating the colors in Oregon wine country (www.davidburchphotography.com)

...not being particularly busy or productive... just being

My 32nd wedding anniversary landed smack on Thanksgiving this year so our celebration was going to have to take place on a different day, crammed into an already crammed family weekend.  So little time all the time. Wednesday before the big feast it was noses to the proverbial grindstone from early morning on. Around lunchtime the sky cleared and the sun (to borrow a few great Joni Mitchell  lyrics), poured in like butterscotch and brought us to our senses. When this happens in the Pacific Northwest in late November you know you are being self-destructive or for that matter courting Vitamin D-deficiency to remain indoors. If you know what’s good for you,  you drop what you’re doing  and get out there. In any way, shape or form you can maneuver or will it to happen ….Otherwise you miss out on one of the all-time great stress reduction opportunities: the unabashed partaking of unstructured time. I repeat UNstructured time. The kind that allows you to spend some time in your life not being particularly busy or productive – just being. Say to yourself or aloud something like… I am going to do what comes naturally for a change, what feels good to me, relaxing, engaging, comforting and nurturing of my mind and spirit and I don’t care who knows it! ( btw: whether you are your own boss or not, rest assured that your stressed adrenals need this break as much as you do and that all you have to lose is your lethargy!)

Evidently, I know what’s good for me because on this day I said first to myself, and then out loud to my husband, let the anniversary begin! It goes without saying that I had a willing accomplice. The decision that we should stop what we were doing, jump in the car this minute, drive to a stellar spot, preferably a vista overlooking grapevines and peaking autumn hues, whilst sipping a heart healthy glass of red wine, was taken unanimously and without regret….  it felt a little like ice-skating on Lake Michigan at night as a kid in Chicago.

Speaking of the fermented grape, not to be sniffed at is the long-term scientific evidence that red wine has a protective effect against heart disease (Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2004 Jun;28(6):829-47). This is due in large part to it’s many plant compounds especially the celebrity antioxidant resveratrol, known to have powerful anti-inflammatory and cancer fighting properties. In recent studies resveratrol has been found to act upon specific genes to protect cells against aging, and also to slow the developmental stages of cancer. (Journal of Immunology 2000;164:6509-19; Journal of Biological Chem 2005;280:17038-45.)

Red wine, pinot noir in particular, is rich in resveratrol, an antioxidant found in the skin and seeds of the grape (which is why the reds have more of it) that protects healthy cells against aging. It is also known to have hormone balancing benefits, YAY!

Most promising when it comes to women, wine, and hormones, is the fact that red wine is medically classified as a phyto-(plant) estrogen thought to enhance natural hormone balance! Evidently, unlike other types of alcohol red wine also  inhibits the action of aromatase (Ann NY Acad Sci. 2002 Jun;963:239-46), an enzyme that increases estrogen conversion in fat cells and can lead to estrogen dominance and thus, increased risks for breast cancer (www.theseventhwomanfoundation.org) But lest you conclude that the best way to balance your hormones naturally is to drink more red wine, keep in mind that we are talking about moderate consumption here, no more than one glass a day according to the experts. Of further note is that the reported health benefits of red wine in particular are significantly enhanced when consumed with meals, especially as part of a Mediterranean diet. This is news we can use to explore our options!

But I digress. Once the anniversary countdown began I never skipped a beat in moving myself towards balance.  The feeling of lightness from within. Of not living in my head for a change. I felt calm and energized all at the same time and saw it for what it was: the absence of stress. And I knew that I would have to do this again sometime, maybe not on a working day, but some other time, again, SOON.

What is your personal balance plan?  Jump in the conversation and please leave a comment right here (scroll down) on our blog so that we all can learn and share best practice for engaging in guilt-free, unstructured time. This is another of our essential truths:  You are unique. What’s right for your friend, mother or sister is not necessarily right for you. But we can all explore the paths to balance together.

Doing what comes naturally (www.davidburchphotography)

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