Tag Archives: vitamins

Breaking news: Butter is back!

For all of you who have given up eating butter thinking 1. it is bad for you and 2. eating it will make you fat, take note: we, the American people , have been fed(pun intended) a whole lot of misinformation about what is good for us and what is unhealthy since around the 1970’s, maybe even earlier. As we have discussed in previous posts, it is just so confusing to know what is fact and what is fiction when it comes to healthy eating.  What is someone who needs to , and perhaps loves to , eat to do????

It just gets so confusing sometimes: how to choose healthy foods….

It just gets so confusing sometimes: how to choose healthy foods….

I guess it always comes back to basics, like most things in life. Personally, I have often been quite skeptical that food that comes from a NATURAL source and that is close to that natural state could possibly be bad for us when eaten in moderation. Honestly, how did eggs become so demonized for so long? For a long time, all we heard about in the media was that eating eggs leads to high cholesterol and heart disease. That just never made sense to me. Eggs are loaded with nutrients: one egg contains 75 calories, 5 grams of fat(1.6 grams saturated fat: the good kind, by the way), iron, vitamins, minerals and carotenoids(believed to prevent macular degeneration). It also contains disease-fighting nutrients and choline, which enhances brain development and memory. Hmmm, now how are eggs bad for you, unless you perhaps are allergic to them? Of course, we always recommend that you consume products that are organically raised and locally produced whenever possible for optimal wellness and a smaller environmental footprint.

So getting back to the butter controversy. I grew up in the 1950’s and 1960’s when margarine was all the rage. I never liked it personally and couldn’t wait to go to my Ukrainian grandmother’s apartment in Brooklyn where she kept unsalted butter on a plate in her kitchen: soft to spread and yummy to eat on her freshly baked loaves of Challah: a little slice of heaven. A far cry from margarine spread on a piece of Wonder bread or a Thomas’s English muffin(delicious but devoid of any real nutritional value). Funny thing is, my grandmother also had Velveeta in her apartment: what is that ‘cheese food product’ even made of that it can sit on a shelf unrefrigerated for years??? I did love it though as a kid: there was something almost magical about it, probably because my mom, who did stock margarine and TV dinners , would never allow us to have it at home.  A little bit of parental wisdom here: if you want your kids to eat something, make it a forbidden food: that will almost always guarantee that they will want it: the old reverse psychology trick.

As soon as I moved out on my own, I was able to make my own choices in terms of food purchases and I made the permanent switch to butter: usually unsalted because I love the flavor that comes through. And I have never given it up, despite all of the so-called research warning us of its link to cardiac disease. Again, I just didn’t buy it: it comes from milk, milk comes from a cow: and cows are animals, real live creatures, not products that are processed, wrapped up tightly and put on a shelf.

Mark Bittman, one of my favorite food writers, published a recent article in the NY Times : “Butter is Back” which does a terrific job of explaining why this is so:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/26/opinion/bittman-butter-is-back.html?_r=0

So this is great news for all of you foodies out there and those of you need help making healthy eating choices. Of course, as the article states, eat butter in moderation, especially if you are trying to achieve or maintain a healthy weight.  Always buy the best quality of food that you can afford, because quality really does matter. I always like to use Michael Pollan’s quote about who to eat in a health manner as a simple reminder: “Eat food(whole food), not too much, mostly plants”. If you follow this simple rule, not only will you achieve your optimal weight but you will feel fantastic AND know that you are enhancing your health overall.

3 old favorites: back in your diet again

3 old favorites: back in your diet again

Oh, and before I forget: another piece of wonderful news came out this week: Salt is also okay: more about that later. So I am going to feel really good when I eat my favorite TV watching snack: Freshly popped, on the stove of course, popcorn with butter and salt: I always called it my guilty pleasure but I guess I don’t need to feel so guilty about it after all.

Bon appétit!

 

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Filed under Essentials, Kyle Bell McAvoy, Whole Eating, Women's Health & Happiness

Hormone Balancing for the Man in Your Life – Is there a Male Menopause??

O-h-h-h yes, whether he thinks so or not! Men are no more immune than are their female counterparts to a drop in hormone production with age. The so-called “male menopause” or “andropause” (in medical speak) signifies the natural midlife retreat of the male hormones (androgens), testosterone and DHEA. Testosterone in particular, is the most potent force driving mental and physical energy in men. But the rate at which these hormones decline and how steep the descent has everything to do with work/life balance, diet, stress levels, sleep and lifestyle.

The 2006 HIM Study found that nearly 40% of US males over 45 years old had low testosterone levels (an estimated 13 million US males), however the majority of men in the study did not recognize that the weight gain, sore muscles, lack of libido, insomnia, and burnout they were experiencing could very well be tied to a hidden hormonal imbalance – instead they put their symptoms down to “just getting old.”

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Women get all the attention in menopause…but what about the men in our lives?? They too suffer the slings and arrows of declining hormone levels, but don’t always know what’s hit them!

 

 What causes declining hormones in men?

In his prime, 95% of a man’s testosterone is formed in the testes. The balance, along with DHEA, the precursor of testosterone, is supplied by the adrenal glands. As he ages, brain signals to the testes to ‘make more testosterone’ start to weaken, hence the signal is not picked up and hormone levels start to downsize. By the time the average Joe hits his 40’s, testosterone levels are down forty to 50 percent and the adrenal glands are having to pick up the slack. Sidenote: this is when it becomes more important than ever at midlife to reduce stress so that the adrenals do not become overwhelmed and unable to provide sufficient hormone supplies. Weight gain, poor diet, and lack of exercise on top of high stress demands further lower testosterone, impacting the stamina, competitive drive, and virility we commonly associate with the male of the species.

How’s a Guy to Know?

The first thing a man entering andropause generally notices is a subtle downward shift in strength and energy as hormone levels taper off.   Muscle tone and stamina are the first to go and he starts to gain weight and that “spare tire”.  He may also develop a voracious appetite and food cravings he never had before. As symptoms kick in, hormone testing can identify hidden imbalances that complicate symptoms of andropause and contribute to rapid aging . 

Got symptoms of Andropause?

–       Weight gain in the hips, thighs, waist, and/or breasts

–       Decreased muscle mass/sore muscles

–       Increased body fat

–       Decreased strength/stamina/endurance

–       Poor recovery from exercise

–       Burnout and fatigue

–       Lack of mental clarity

–       Decreased sex drive and/or competitive drive

–       Prostate problems

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Muscle tone and stamina are the first to go when male hormones are out of balance….it gets tougher to win at arm wrestling….and those six-pack abs start to slide into a “spare tire” of fat around the middle.

Men with symptoms need to test these hormones for imbalances:

Testosterone –  an anabolic hormone that builds and maintains muscle mass, bone density, strength and stamina. It is also linked to libido, mental clarity, memory and energy.  Low or suboptimal levels are a strong indicator of andropause; deficiencies are linked with loss of lean muscle, increased weight, body fat, and BMI with a corresponding drop in metabolic rate.

DHEA –  the primary source of testosterone and other hormones in the body; DHEA partners with testosterone to build and maintain lean muscle and bone mass, increase metabolism and reduce body fat. Deficiencies are linked with decreased lean muscle mass and increased adipose tissue or body fat. Low DHEA is also linked with adrenal imbalances of cortisol and adrenal fatigue.

Estrogen – promotes growth and healthy cell division; protects the heart, brain, reproductive organs and glandular function.  High estrogen hormone imbalance promotes a female pattern of fat gain in men; it also depletes testosterone levels, and inhibits thyroid to slow metabolism way down. 

Cortisol –  secreted by the adrenal glands, it has a variety of functions including: regulating the stress response, energy, blood sugar levels, and the immune system. High or low cortisol levels disrupt blood sugar and insulin levels which decreases metabolism and increases fat storage.

 

How hormone imbalances trigger weight gain in men

 Undetected hormonal imbalances can cause unwanted pounds that are difficult to shed especially as men get older. When testosterone or DHEA levels decline below optimal levels, men start to lose lean muscle mass, which is readily replaced by body fat, and those much vaunted six-pack abs start to slide into a spare tire of fat. The more body fat, the more estrogen is produced – a vicious cycle that depletes male testosterone by actually converting it to estrogen in fat cells. And it doesn’t end there. Imbalances of estrogen and related hormones like cortisol (the master stress hormone that helps to regulate blood sugar and insulin levels) not only suppress available testosterone, but also slow down thyroid metabolism…. while the pounds pile on.

How can men balance their hormones naturally to boost energy, stamina, libido, and lose that “spare tire” for good?

As aging and bad health habits put the brakes on hormone production,  the decline can be more precipitous in some men than others. Testing male hormone levels is the first step to understanding why, and what you can do about it. My first suggestion is to order either a Male Hormone Test kit, the new Weight Management Profile, or Advanced Plus profile (all of these comprehensive home collection kits test levels in saliva and or bloodspot) from Canary Club at www.canaryclub.org. When you get your hormone results back, (usually within 3-5 days from the time the lab receives your hormone samples) you can book a  consult with your physician (go to Find A Provider at http://www.zrtlab.com) of if you prefer a phone consult, you can book one with me, Candace at www.yourhormonebalance.com  In an hour coaching session we will review and discuss your results, and your what next options. You will also receive a follow-up personal hormone balance plan within a week of our consult.

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Back on track – Men just as much as women need to balance their hormones to maintain their moods, memory, mental clarity and mojo!

 

Men in balance do this:

-Determine their symptoms of hormone imbalance from the list above. Two or more moderate to severe persistent symptoms indicate a problem. 

– Test their hormone levels to detect and correct imbalances linked to symptoms.

– Followup with a physician or health coach.

-Losing weight is key to rebalancing hormones. Fat cells contain aromatase, an enzyme that robs available testosterone by converting it to estrogen. That is when men start to get a female pattern of fat distribution in the hips, thighs, bottom and breasts (anyone heard the term “moobs”)!

-Stick with a program!  A Mediterranean style diet that is  low glycemic, low carbohydrate, low fat, high protein, high fiber (whole grains, cruciferous vegetables, legumes, seeds, etc.)  can go a long way towards balancing your hormones to balance your weight.

-Throw out testosterone robbers like caffeine, alcohol, cigarettes, and unnecessary stressors like overbooking yourself, etc.

-Take up strength training or weight bearing exercise to boost testosterone and DHEA levels naturally by building up lean muscle mass.

-Counteract stress (the higher the stress levels, the lower the testosterone) with regular exercise – 45 minutes is optimal but even 10 mins. 3x a day adds up to 30 minutes and that is GOOD.

-St-r-e-t-c-h and breathe deep to release tension held in the muscles and lower stress hormones

-Hit the sack earlier – less than 7 hours sleep disrupts appetite hormones to increase cravings and feelings of hunger

-Take time to do the things you enjoy! Stress reduction is the key to normalizing cortisol levels.  

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Consider these hormone support supplements to rebalance your levels: 

  • Bioidentical* forms of testosterone (gel, patch,pellets or injections) in appropriate amounts as prescribed by a physician and/or Progesterone in low doses to keep estrogen levels in check, thereby increasing active and available testosterone supplies. NOTE: progesterone inhibits the action of “bad estrogens” as well as testosterone by-products that can lead to enlargement of the prostate gland. Note: men use less than women and should discuss dosage with a doctor.
  • DIM (an extract of cruciferous vegetables) – promotes “good estrogen” metabolism and rids the body of excess/or toxic xenoestrogens to free up available testosterone and correct imbalance
  • DHEA the precursor of male testosterone boosts levels through natural conversion in the body. It is best used along with DIM and a men’s multi-vitamin with trace minerals like zinc, selenium, etc. to promote active thyroid hormone production, and inhibit loss of testosterone through conversion in fat cells
  • 7-Keto DHEAa metabolite of DHEA acts upon lean muscle mass to reduce body fat and rev up your metabolism
  •  Chromium and adaptogenic herbs (e.g. garcinia cambogia, banaba leaf, gymnema slyvestre) formulations –  help normalize cortisol levels, regulate glucose and insulin levels, tame appetite, sugar cravings, and deflate that spare tire
  • 5HTP (the natural precursor of melatonin) – at bedtime if you have trouble sleeping
  • Cal-Mag and Vitamin Ddeficiencies are linked with increased body fat
  • EFAs (essential fatty acids, like Omega 3) and Ubiquinol (spark plugs of cellular energy) – support hormone production, reduce inflammation and protect the heart
  • Vitamins C and B-Complex (B1-12) – to boost energy, and strengthen/support adrenal function and adaptation to stressors.

 Note: all supplements to be taken as directed.  Talk to your physician or pharmacist about appropriate dosages. Retest hormone levels in 3 months to track progress.

*bioidenticals are hormones made from plant based compounds that duplicate natural hormone structure and function without the side effects of synthetic versions.

For more on this heady subject see my April 8, 2013 post on Low T ads- boosting testosterone boils down to balance

 

 

 

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Filed under Women's Health & Happiness