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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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Menopause Awareness Month: Banishing The Seven Dwarves of Menopause

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How to Find a Natural Hormone (bioidentical) Friendly Health Care Provider

In the ten years since the the Women’s Health Initiative put the kabosh on HRT, millions of women stopped using PremPro, the combination of horse-derived estrogen and synthetic progestin found to literally be causing all the problems it was supposed to be protecting us against! When the higher risks for heart disease, stroke, blood clots and breast cancer were revealed as outweighing the so-called benefits of the billion dollar drug too many of us had trusted for decades, the researchers halted the the study immediately – three years early.

European women use bioidenticals for balance

In the ensuing years while many women have successfully migrated to bioidentical hormones made from plant substances, millions of other women who chucked their HRT into the bin are still out in the cold, afraid to use any type of hormones at all. This is a crying shame given the fact that hormones govern our every motion and emotion, protect our bones, blood vessels, hearts, brains, and breasts from disease, decay and rapid aging, AND that too many of us are missing out on the benefits of bioidenticals that our European counterparts have enjoyed for decades.

Part of the challenge is that when the bad news about hormones hit the headlines in 2002, many providers had to jettison the old one-size fits all approach to menopause with nothing in place to take its place. Dr. JoAnn Manson, the new director of NAMS (North American Menopause Society), and one of the WHI’s lead investigators underlined this in a recent interview alluding to the “many, many clinicians who no longer prescribe, or know how to prescribe.” She goes on to say, “this isn’t a good situation for women who are having severe menopausal symptoms. They’re going to have trouble finding clinicians who will help them make the most informed decision.” Not a good situation indeed, but for women still seeking safer solutions ten years on from the WHI, Kyle and I can assure YOU that the situation is improving by the minute.

To put this into perspective …. when I became the Director of Education at ZRT Laboratory (one of the largest hormone testing labs in the country) in 2000, just 25 per cent of our clients were health care providers; the rest were consumers looking for answers on their own. Eight years later licensed health care providers had climbed to 75 per cent of our client base, a number that signalled a paradigm shift  from hormone replacement to hormone balance. Pretty promising huh! Not to mention the growing numbers of health educators like me and lifestyle counselors/coaches coming on line to help women explore their options for safe, natural symptom relief.

So, if you are one of those women still feeling confused or out of the loop when it comes to your hormones, we have resources aplenty for you starting with your local compounding pharmacist. The majority of these brainy biochemists really get it when it comes to the whys and wherefores of hormone action in the body and are trained in BHRT (the bioidentical hormone restoration model). Not only are these folks themselves fountains of information, they can usually point you in the direction of health care providers who will test your hormones and are trained to prescribe natural hormone therapies tailored to individual needs. So that’s your first port of call, a face to face with your friendly local compounder, or you can find them by visiting www.iacprx.org.

Next stop are the excellent online resources that enable you to find a provider in your area by simply popping your zipcode into the required field. The best of these can be found at: www.womeninbalance.org, or www.zrtlab.com
Just go to their “find a provider” referral tab. If you need to lose weight you can get a head start on the process by identifying the hormone imbalances that contribute to weight gain through MRC weight loss centers around the country www.emetabolic.com. Their Body in Balance program is the first ever to address hormone imbalance in a nation-wide weight loss program. Awesome!

Meanwhile, if you happen to be in the vicinity of Portland, Oregon you can get in touch with Kyle or myself to explore your options for finding balance in your hormones and in your lives! This is a Menopausibilities essential truth:

Finding, being and staying in balance is a work in progress – take the first step NOW!

Being in balance.

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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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From One-size-fits-all to Individualized Hormone Therapy: North American Menopause Society in a long-awaited position shift finally drops their old school stance!

The earth has moved under our feet!! Last month the North American Menopause Society, aka “NAMS” that august body of expert clinicians and researchers in the medical mainstream who (in lock step with the pharmaceutical industry) have steadfastly supported synthetic, ‘one-size-fits all’ hormone replacement therapy, finally, amazingly, have modified their position on HRT .

In the 2012 Hormone Therapy Position statement

(www.menopause.org/aboutmeno/consensus.aspx), the NAMS-sayersnow say that individualizing of hormone therapy (HT) may in fact be the best way to go: “Tailoring the dose to a woman’s individual needs represents an appropriate strategy in HT management” – not only, they say, in respect to quality of life but especially for women concerned about personal risks for heart disease, stroke, blood clots, and breast cancer risks. Time out: aren’t all women concerned about their personal risks for blood clots, breast cancer and all the above? These are the very same diseases that HRT was found in the Womens Health Initiative  (WHI) to be causing, rather than protecting us against, as we had been led to believe by NAMS and big-Pharma for far too long.

It was the WHI in 2003 that finally delivered the slam-dunk truth many researchers had been pointing to for decades – that HRT, specifically the synthetic combination of estrogen and progestin, is dangerous – period. When the bad news hit the headlines, an estimated half of the 15 million women who were on the stuff flushed their poison pills down the loo and started looking for more natural alternatives. In the face of the evidence (followup data from WHI has revealed more invasive breast cancers than previously thought) and women’s continuing rejection of old school tactics,  NAMS has had no choice but to drop their outdated stance on what’s best for women and get real. Their new position reflects a grudging acceptance that this train has left the station and its time to get on board with the new normal: hormone balance vs. replacement with bioidenticals not synthetic hormone therapies. But we are not there yet. NAMS still supports synthetic HT and refuses to recognize compounding pharmacy practices, but nevertheless they have heard that whistle blowing ….

Another breath of cobweb clearing air in the 2012 statement was that transdermal hormone therapy (the method by which most bioidentical hormones are delivered through the skin and directly into the bloodstream, thus mimicking mother nature) could conceivably be an improvement over taking hormones orally: “With transdermal therapy, there is no significant increase in triglycerides, C-reactive protein … little effect on blood pressure…and … growing observational evidence that transdermal ET may be associated with a lower risk of deep vein thrombosis.”

Two steps forward. YAY! And in a nod toward the benefits of bioidentical hormone therapy (BHT), the position paper does make mention of micronized progesterone and low dose bioidentical estradiol patch therapies. Yet at the same time the NAMS-sayers cannot resist the urge to invalidate: “In the absence of efficacy and safety data for BHT….” Wrong! There is plenty of substantiated evidence in the scientific literature pointing to the superiority of bioidenticals (www.womeninbalance.org), much of it from the European Union (EU) where they have been way ahead of us on the bioidentical front for decades…and oh, by the way, the EU does not allow synthetic growth hormones to be injected into their cows chicken or pork proteins either…but I digress (please see my March 3rd blog post on that subject: www.menopausibilities.wordpress.com

To sum up, it’s a good day for women when the immovable, moves. The NAMS shift spells real progress for women’s hormonal health and research.  Millions of women who have switched from HT to BHT are already finding safer solutions and symptom relief by testing for hormone imbalances (www.salivatesting.com) and rebalancing with bioidenticals and optimal aging approaches. Recently, Dr. Oz the omnipotent, stuck his neck out to proclaim the “BS or bad science” behind synthetic HT . “Hormones are better now,” he said, “and women should insist on the bioidentical versions especially estrogen and natural progesterone,” which in the right amounts and unlike their synthetic imposters can effectively protect us against heart disease and breast cancer (www.theseventhwoman.org) and the madness of menopause.

Join in the conversation and tell us your experience of  getting off HRT and on to bioidenticals…how you felt then and now.  How you forgot how good you could be feeling until NOW!

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