Tag Archives: hormone imbalance

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.

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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.

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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.

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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…..

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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.

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

 


 

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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.

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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

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Menopausal Mother of the Bride Takes It Lying Down – Decompress to Destress

My daughter Jess was over this afternoon and insisted that I change the cover photo on my hormone consulting site: Your Hormone Balance (www.yourhormonebalance.com) to this one below…tell me, do I look like I’m in balance?

ImageActually this pic was taken the day after Jess got married …and that is me, the formerly shattered, out of balance, menopausal mother of the bride, ensuite at the Nines Hotel in Portland, a gift of dear friends who weeks before the wedding sent a lifeline..if you and Dave perchance could use a “decompression chamber” after W day we’d love to gift you a night at the NINES … interested? A full 3 seconds later I had forsaken my filial obligations for ME myself and I-time! What better way to destress but to decompress in style, and just let it all go: the internal chatter, the planning, the worrying over who might not speak to whom, or not show up, or go missing ….

So how does one regain balance when summer is done, the days are growing dark, your kids are married and moved away and you’re an empty nester now, a woman of une certain age still seeking balance in head, heart and hormones….what do you do?

Contemplating the message of balance at ground level beneath the third tallest tower in the world: Guangzhou City

Contemplating the message of balance at ground level beneath the third tallest tower in the world: Guangzhou City


You practice what you preach, that’s what you do! You calm down and carry on:
-cleanse your mind and body with outdoor exercise every day you can get out there (and when the weather turns gray take your Vitamin D3)
-walk the excess weight off, rain or shine
-strength train your way back to strong and lean
-ingest healthy, hormone-free foods, pure water, plenty of fiber and fresh vegetables and fruits (most Americans eat half as many vegetables and fruits as we should, that being 4 or more servings a day)
-detox to give your gut a break from overconsumption of caffeine, sugar and bad fats – as all who are following Kyle on her cleansing fast this week are doing, and bravo to you! 0

To truly deeply decompress you will need to block (especially before bedtime) the blue light beaming into your retina from an avalanche of electronic media we expose ourselves to (an estimated 7+ hours a day), those seemingly benign blue rays that raise stress hormones and deplete sleep hormones. No more taking your IPhone to bed with you. Sink into a warm bath instead, or slip into your comfiest clothes, light the candles, rub in your bioidentical hormones, and FLOP… on an aquamarine velveteen couch should one appear, or wherever you can Str-r-r-etch. Sigh. And B-R-E-A-T-H-E out all that good and bad stress in one big WHOOOSH … keep breathing and whooshing, deep and focused, to release the tension you’ve been holding in your body, dislodge the clutter in your mind, and clear your path back to balance!

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Fall cleansing is in the air

We have been truly blessed with a warm and sunny ‘Indian summer’ here in the Pacific NW this year but 2 days ago, the autumn switch turned on, dropping the temperatures down into the 50’s by day and 40’s by night. Any illusions of an endless summer were quickly abandoned, so back indoors we go for the majority of our waking hours.

I imagine many of you, like me, find yourself purging your house of excess things, rearranging cupboards and closets, raking up the fallen leaves and turning over the soil in the garden. There is something about the transition from living outdoors as much as possible to nestling inside that makes me want to simplify my surroundings before adorning the house with decorations for our fall and winter festivities. One of my fall rituals is moving all of my spring and summer clothes(after taking all of the ones I still didn’t wear to Good Will for a better home) from my bedroom closet to my spare one,  in exchange for my fall and winter wardrobe.  Doing this always makes the seasonal change so definite for me.  I actually enjoy this ritual as it makes me reflect on the activities of the past few months while thinking ahead to the upcoming holidays.

Fall lights add to a warm and cozy atmosphere: I can't resist!

Fall lights add to a warm and cozy atmosphere: I can’t resist!

For those of you who are faithful MP blog followers, you know that fall also means thinking of ways to be more conscious and mindful about the food and beverage choices we will be making in order to stay balanced despite the holiday festivities. This can be a huge challenge to many of us: avoiding unwanted weight gain, getting inadequate sleep, feeling stressed out about shopping(perhaps on a more limited budget than in years past), getting burned out by the extra demands placed upon us, all of this leading to cortisol overdrive and its many associated symptoms(irritability, insomnia, anxiety, depression, belly fat, salt and sugar cravings, to name a few).

So we will be hosting another “Consciousness Cleanse” starting on Sunday, November 17th and will run for 10 days, ending just in time for Thanksgiving. As in years past, there are 4 major food/beverage groups that we will avoid during the ‘cleanse’ . These are caffeine, alcohol, sugar and ‘the whites'(white flour, rice, potatoes, pasta and again white sugar).  Some of you who want to do a deeper detox/cleanse of sorts may also want to eliminate gluten and/or dairy and/or soy, particularly if you suspect a sensitivity to a particular food type.

Some examples of the kinds of food you CAN eat and that will make you feel wonderful

Some examples of the kinds of food you CAN eat and that will make you feel wonderful

Last year we had approximately 60 people participating in our fall ‘cleanse’ and it was pretty remarkable to listen to the various comments people had about their personal experiences.  To view these, please go to ‘Kyle’s blog’ and scroll back to Oct 2012 and March 2013 blogposts to learn more about the cleanse and the reactions of the participants.  We are excited to be doing this again and we hope that you will join us.

For those of you who are interested in a longer term detox, please click on this link

http://bit.ly/HkqEyt

to work along with Andrea Nayakama and her staff of functional nutritionists for 21 days starting on Monday November 4th. Once you click on the link, you can listen to the  webinar she did yesterday: Tipping the Scales. This which was a really nice overview of the link between what we eat and our hormone balance and I recommend that all of you take the time to listen to it. We have written quite a bit about the importance of hormone balance and health/ optimal weight over the past 2 years so some of the content will be familiar to many of you, but I know that no matter how much I learn about this amazing and complex topic, I inevitably take away another ‘pearl’ with every new talk or article I come across.

Stay tuned. We will be posting more in the upcoming weeks to help you get ready for your 10 day fall cleanse. I promise you that if you partake in either the deeper detox or the 10 day mini-cleanse, you will gain a new awareness that what you put into your mouth  really matters . More about the details and benefits in upcoming posts. For now, remember to drink tea(all types but green is great for weight control and immune system), plenty of water, choose organic foods as much as possible, exercise  a minimum of 4-5 days a week and get at least 7 hours of sleep every night for optimal health and wellness.

Fall morning walk at sunrise: a lovely way to get daily exercise

Fall morning walk at sunrise: a lovely way to get daily exercise

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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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Menopause Awareness Month: Banishing The Seven Dwarves of Menopause

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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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