Tag Archives: obesity

Gluten-free for 19 days and what have I noticed?

First of all, I cannot believe how quickly these last few weeks have gone by. The first day of my gluten-free journey I found myself at a wonderful Italian restaurant with my husband Joe and son Conor: dilemma #1: don’t reach for yummy warm focaccia and dip it into spicy extra virgin oil, as I would normally do. Temptation averted, the rest should be easy! I chose polenta and sausage for my entree, thus avoiding pasta and felt quite satisfied sipping on a glass of full-bodied red wine and walked away not feeling quite as stuffed.

Red wine, Pinot noir in particular, is rich in resveratrol, an antioxidant protector of healthy cells against aging. When taken in moderation (no more than one glass a day)  it also is known to have hormone balancing benefits.

Red wine, Pinot noir in particular, is rich in resveratrol, an antioxidant protector of healthy cells against aging. When taken in moderation (no more than one glass a day) it also is known to have hormone balancing benefits.

It’s those first few days of making a change that are always the hardest and most daunting but once I settled in to my new routine, I found it easier every day to not reach for the pretzels….or grab a piece of whole grain toast for breakfast….sneak a bite of a cookie that someone(usually me!) brought in to work….grab some pita chips to dip into my hummus….order pizza for dinner or bagel and cream cheese for breakfast(these are some of my favorite foods, by the way).  Instead I made up a big batch of quinoa which I would have for breakfast with some cheese or eggs( in lieu of toast) or some polenta to have with roasted veggies and some protein for lunch or dinner. I often had thin rice cakes with hummus or nut butter for breakfast and I found some very tasty quinoa chips at our local New Seasons Market.  It took a little bit of planning and an occasional , ” oh right, I can’t have that right now” moment but it has been  fairly easy to eliminate gluten and wheat from my daily diet.

So what have I noticed? I don’t feel as full or bloated after a meal, my waist is at least 1 inch smaller, I haven’t felt as hungry between meals, my blood sugar feels more even and I haven’t had as big an energy dip after lunch. That last one is huge as I usually get up at 4:30 am during the week so I can get to the gym and walk my dog before work…so when 2:00pm rolls around, the temptation to take a nap can be pretty big(those Latin cultures with their afternoon siestas are ONTO something). Sleep has also been deep and restful , another substantial  plus as we all know how important getting adequate sleep is for restoring our adrenals and keeping cortisol levels balanced, equating to less belly fat: wow , this stuff really does make sense, doesn’t it? Avoiding gluten/wheat not only helps to even out our insulin production but it also helps to regulate our cortisol levels, both of which then help to reduce that dreaded belly fat/muffin top/menopot which we all are trying to avoid or diminish.

That dreaded belly fat! Reducing consumption of gluten-containing foods can help you to lose it

That dreaded belly fat! Reducing consumption of gluten-containing foods can help you to lose it

Now that I can see the finish line of this experiment, I am left wondering how I will apply what I have learned from these 21 days to my future diet and lifestyle.  As I suspected, my digestion, mood  nor skin haven’t changed so I don’t think I personally have gluten intolerance.  But I do think I will benefit from minimizing its consumption on a regular basis so I will treat eating wheat and gluten-containing products like I do sweets: small amounts, occasional consumption more like a condiment than a staple of life. That way I can indulge in a piece of pizza, a nice hot piece of focaccia, a warm chewy cookie from time to time.f

And that is the way we should eat, the way Michael Pollan has so eloquently laid out for us: “Eat food(whole), not too much , mostly plants”. If we all followed this advice, our level of obesity, diabetes, cancer, heart disease , inflammatory diseases, and even mental illness would drop greatly. Adapting a whole foods, plant-based diet leads to optimal health and wellness, hormone balance and an improved quality of life. What could be better than that???

Spring is in the air and flowers are popping up everywhere: definitely adding to our quality of life...

Spring is in the air and flowers are popping up everywhere: definitely adding to our quality of life…

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

Weight Loss Winners

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

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

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

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

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

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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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4 days til our “Fall Consciousness Cleanse” starts : are you ready???

As many of our faithful readers know, I have been trying to set aside two separate times each year during which I turn my attention more fully to the things that I eat and drink for 10 days.  I have called these time periods  ‘ a consciousness cleanse’ as opposed to a true cleanse (or a detox), which is usually quite a bit more entailed and rigorous.  The goal of setting aside 10 days each fall and spring for cleaner eating and drinking is more aimed towards increasing our awareness of what we consume,  in hopes that by doing so, we can slowly change our habits in the long term.

The rules for OUR cleanse are simple: eat whole foods, avoid alcohol, the whites(see end of post for link to specifics), and caffeine for 10 days. Benefits? Decreased belly fat, improved sleep, increased energy,clearer thinking, balanced mood and the satisfaction of doing something absolutely incredible for your body!! One more thing: there is something so satisfying of sticking to a wellness program for the entire duration, just knowing that you CAN.

Some healthy and delicious food choices, packed with powerful nutrients

Some healthy and delicious food choices, packed with powerful nutrients

This fall the kick-off begins Sunday , November 17th and runs through Tuesday, November 26th and is designed to increase our consciousness right before the superbowl of holiday feasting(Thanksgiving day) arrives, with all of the subsequent festivities that occur between that day and the coming of the new year. Did you know that the average American gains up to 12 # during said famed holiday season? That is an alarming thought indeed, as anyone watching the news knows how the epidemic of obesity is causing a plethora of chronic health problems in our country(see some of our previous blogposts on this subject).

Some of my favorite herbal teas and sweetener to enjoy during the cleanse

Some of my favorite herbal teas and sweetener to enjoy during the cleanse

The best part of doing the ‘cleanse’ at this time of year is that you will have some excellent company. This year both Candace and I will be doing it together, along with at least 10 others.  It really is so much easier(and fun) to take on a challenge like this with some support. As an extra added incentive, if you sign up as a follower AND post at least 2 comments during the 10 days about YOUR experience on the cleanse, we will enter your name into a drawing for a copy of the wonderful book, “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin.  She offers some wonderful ways to take inventory of your life and make changes, all designed to bring more happiness and balance to your life.

Here are some more specifics about the cleanse from a previous post that I wrote:

http://menopausibilities.com/2013/01/05/preparations-for-our-cleanse/

Please refer back to that post and the several that follow it as you get ready to join us. And don’t forget to sign up as a follower(if you haven’t already done so) and comment along the way: you might just win that book for some terrific fall and winter reading. Plus we love to hear from you….

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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.

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 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.

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*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.

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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

 

 

 

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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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Back to that gut feeling, remember???

Eating a wide variety of whole foods helps diversify your micro biome

Eating a wide variety of whole foods helps diversify your micro biome

A few weeks back, I wrote a post about the importance of paying attention to the ‘micro biome’ of our intestines. I mentioned that just about everywhere you turn these days, there is somebody talking about this: the links between our micro biome and health issues, such as our immune system, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, depression: the list goes on.

I would like to share this excellent piece that just aired on NPR(National Public Radio, for you uninitiated into the wonderful world of public radio….). You can choose to listen to and/or read the transcript. The information is presented very clearly and should provide additional insight into this important and timely topic. Bottom line, pay attention to the health of your gut. The implications are enormous.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2013/07/22/203659797/staying-healthy-may-mean-learning-to-love-our-microbiomes

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