Tag Archives: Phytoestrogens

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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Don’t Let Hot Flashes Warm Up Your Holidays…Stay Cool This Christmas!

How well I remember a certain Christmas season in Idaho about 15 years ago ….I was in my late 40s then and had just moved back to the States from England – a culture shock and-a-half. My daughters, Jess and Rye were still little, 9 and 6 years old, and having a hard time making friends who could understand their English accents. My husband was setting up a photography studio in our garage (bad idea).  I was looking for work in health publishing where there was none. It was a tough transition and to top it off, my hormones were in full revolt. Between the mood swings and hot flashes every 20 minutes, no amount of holiday cheer could cheer me up. In the dead of winter I kept opening up the windows, and gawd help anyone who complained of frostbite. “Try putting on another sweater,” I would bark at my shivering little ones… Needless to say, my family was beginning to hate me…. That Christmas Ebenezer Scrooge had nothin’ on me!

Christmas coming on – not hot flashes! Daughters Rye and Jess (not pictured) and hubby Dave like mom much better in rather than out of balance!

I guess I should have built an igloo in the back yard and moved in… that might have helped. But when it came to helping myself, I was my own worst enemy…drinking too much caffeine, eating all the wrong things, and not getting enough sleep! Forget hitting the pause button – I was in  full-throttle Peri-menopause and letting it get the best of me.

The night before Christmas, the only creature stirring all through the house was I, woken by the sound of night sweats dripping on the floor (well it was almost that bad). Around 2am, I went outside to stand on the deck (in minus 10 degrees… ahh relief) when I heard a noise behind me. Was I about to meet the jolly man himself? Would he wag his finger in my face for scarfing all his cookies and for being a mostly naughty, not nice, peri-menopausal person? He would have been perfectly within his rights to say so. But no, it was Ryan, my little one, too excited to sleep. “Mommy, has Santa been here yet?” She looked over at the tree and then up at me, crumbs trailing down my PJ’s. “Mommy, did you eat the cookies we made for Santa!!” She started to wail; “now he’ll never come! You’re a mean mommy!”  A mean (hot, sweaty, flabby, crabby, itchy, bitchy) mommy, that’s what I was. But I didn’t want to be. I didn’t want to be that person. And I never wanted to see that look on my child’s face again!! That Christmas was the beginning, the eve of my journey back to balance.

I hit the books, starting with What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause, by Dr. John R. Lee, the bible for women in menopause. (A couple pages in, I started to cry, he was speaking to ME!) Hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, weight gain, the dreaded belly fat in particular, nervousness, irritability, i.e. behaving like the wicked witch of the west to those you love best in all the world? I could blame it on my hormones. The extent to which I was out-of-sync had everything to do with the extent to which my hormones were out-of-sync. Yes, I could expect my hormones to significantly shift in mid-life, but however steep or  rapidly the shift occurred was clearly up to me. I could stop the rollercoaster and get off. So I did, and so can you! In fact it’s one of our essential guiding principles: You can get off the rollercoaster and get your mojo back!

                                        Christmas Cool…Practice Balance!

Start now:1) Buy Dr. Lee’s book and read it cover to cover. (Stay tuned for other selected books that Kyle and I love, and that will be available for you to order in the New Year right here on our blog.)
2) Get your hormones tested (www.zrtlab.com) to determine whether and to what extent your hormones are out of balance.
3) If testing reveals imbalances requiring hormone support insist on bioidentical vs. synthetic hormones (HT).
4) Find a provider to partner with for prescribed hormone therapy
5) Support your adrenal glands! They have to manage your stress response, energy levels, immunities AND take over all hormone production in mid-life so these mighty little glands need all the help they can get: optimal nutrition, exercise, stress control, sleep and pursuit of meaningful work and ME time.

For specific tips about how to quell the hot flashes please keep reading:
• Avoid alcohol, caffeine, sugar, spicy foods, hot soups and drinks that can trigger hot flashes and worsen mood swings.
• Steer clear of unnecessary, avoidable stress since it is one of the biggest causes of hot flashes and night sweats. Your body reacts to constant stress by raising cortisol levels, which alters the normal balance of hormones in the body. Vow not to let stress take center stage in your life. Start to banish it
now by breathing deep to get oxygen to the brain, an instant stress reliever. Make time to read, relax, soak in the tub, take a 20-minute walk, or a 10-minute catnap, cancel at least one appointment a week.
• Reset the temperature in your house to 68 degrees.
Studies show that sleeping in a cooler room can lead to deeper sleep. Night sweats can be triggered by changes in room temperature, so if you start off cool and use minimal covers, you are less likely to wake in a sweat as your body warms up through the night.
• Daily exercise can release held tension in the body, so you can truly relax. It also triggers endorphins; the “feel good” hormones that help you feel calmer and increase your overall sense of well being. Studies tell us that woman who make exercise a part of their daily routine have fewer hot flashes, night sweats and other symptoms of imbalance.
Supplements that can help relieve hot flashes:
Bioidentical progesterone (balanced by bioidentical estrogen as need be) may dramatically reduce the strength and frequency of hot flashes by keeping estrogen and progesterone balanced and less prone to fluctuate erratically. Studies have shown up to 80 percent relief from hot flashes in women using bioidentical progesterone in a ‘Goldilocks’ dose – no more and no less than the body needs.
Multivitamins and Trace Minerals (zinc, selenium, etc), B-complex, Vitamin E, and Flax seed (grind your own and sprinkle on salads, oatmeal, in smoothies etc.) help to optimize hormone production and metabolism, and diminish hot flashes and night sweats.
Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) are essentials for balanced estrogen production and GOOD for hot flashes
Soy protein in moderation has been shown in studies to relieve hot flashes and night sweats. Asian women with soy-rich diets are famous for their lack of hot flashes and menopause symptoms. (Best sources of soy are fermented as the Asians take them in, e.g. tofu, tempeh, miso, etc. vs. overdoing it with soy lattes, chips and bars.)
Phytonutrients found in plants and herb supplements, such as magnolia, red clover, dong quai, black cohosh, rhodiola, etc. and other “weak plant-based estrogens” can cool hot flashes and help you refocus.

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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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