Blog

9 Strategies for Staying Healthy at Work

Date posted: August 16, 2012

Let’s face it, most of us eat more meals and spend more time at work then we do at home. With working lunches, parties and stocked snack drawers and fridges, our workplaces can have more food traps and temptations to lead us astray from our diets than anywhere else. At home we have more control of what is brought into our kitchens, at work, not so much. So what can you do to stay on the right nutritional track while at work? Here are some strategies you can implement now.

A little planning goes along way – Take a little time over the weekend to plan your meals and snacks and do any necessary prepping like washing and cutting fruits and veggies. This will save you some time during the workweek. No one wants to get up early to pack lunch or do it the night before. Set aside an hour or two on Sunday afternoon to wash, prep and portion your healthy snacks and meals.

Pack your own snacks and meals – We all know making our own meals from fresh, whole foods is better for our waistlines and wallets than eating out every day. Does your office occasionally order in for a working lunch or meeting? You can take a pass from the takeout by eating what you brought. Also, there are a lot of BPA-free storage containers and bags on the market now, so buy some of those to pack your food in.

Drink lots of water – Avoid the bottled water in the work fridge. Instead, buy a large BPA-free water bottle that you can fill up in the morning with purified water from home and drink from it throughout the day.

Create a buddy system – Find a friend or two at work with whom you can lend and receive support. If you have someone watching your back, you’re less likely to grab that doughnut in the morning or have that piece of cake at the birthday party.

Pack a piece of dark chocolate – Have trouble passing up that piece of cake, as mentioned in the above point? When packing your lunch for the day, add a piece of dark chocolate to your bag and get your sweet fix that way instead of eating a big piece of cake.

Don’t dine at your desk – Never mind that our desks are often filthy, germ-filled areas, but eating at your desk is a distraction to mindful eating. Plus, lunch is meant to give you a break. Hence the term lunch break. So step away from your desk, eat in the cafeteria or break room with co-workers or if it’s nice outside, take your lunch outdoors and enjoy some fresh air and just get out of the office!

Communicate with coworkers – Let your coworkers know that you’re trying to stay on track. If they’re aware then maybe they won’t unknowingly tempt you with sweets by coming to your office or desk with diet derailing treats. Even better, start a healthy movement at work and get everyone involved.

Take a stroll – Grab your buddy and take stroll in the afternoon. It’s good to get out of the office and if you tend to get the 3:00 slump in the afternoon, a short walk will wake you up and energize you. Plus, a walk will help relieve stress and it’s better than grabbing a sweet, a soda or a cup of coffee as a pick me up.

Take the stairs – Why take the elevator when you can take the stairs? Climbing the stairs is good for your heart and helps you burn calories.

12 Ways to Boost Metabolism

Date posted: August 9, 2012

One of the biggest complaints I hear among women, especially those who are perimenopausal and menopausal, has to do with their metabolism. After the age of 35 or so, many women experience a metabolism slowdown. This is mainly because any alteration to your hormones can upset your metabolism – the process of turning digested food, stored fat or muscle into calories that the body uses as energy – and cause you to gain weight.

Here are 12 ways you can give your metabolism a boost and burn more calories throughout the day:

Maintain muscle – Muscle is one of the most metabolically active tissues in your body. It defines your metabolism. With activity, your muscle is eager to stay nourished by burning the calories you’re ingesting. So the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn, whether you’re at the gym, at your desk, or in your bed.

Protein – This one ties in with maintaining muscle. Protein is the building block of muscle, so consume lean proteins in order to maintain and sustain muscle and therefore burn more calories.

Fiber – stabilizes blood sugar levels and keeps your metabolism strong. Loading your plate with fruits and vegetables also protects your cells from free radicals and your body needs healthy cells in order to keep your metabolism going strong.

Cardio – a 45-minute cardio session keeps your metabolism high hours after your workout is over, so relax after a tough workout as you enjoy another 200 calorie burn.

Weight-lifting – as you age, muscle mass decreases that is why lifting weights and strength training is important for maintaining and building upon the muscle you already have so your metabolism stays high.

Sleep – not getting enough sleep messes with your metabolism by increasing levels of the hormone ghrelin, which stimulates hunger, and decreasing levels of leptin, your satiety hormone. Lack of sleep also causes insulin resistance, which will interfere with how your metabolism processes fat, leading to weight gain. Aim to get 7-8 hours of sleep a night.

Supplement vitamins – vitamins are important in many of the steps in metabolic reactions, such as burning sugars and fats for energy. Most people don’t consume an optimal amount of vitamins by diet alone, which will cause your metabolism to run inefficiently and cause you to gain weight. Take a high-quality grade multivitamin daily to maintain a healthy metabolism.

Stress Management – As we’ve talked about numerous times, chronic stress can cause an overproduction of cortisol, which will change how your metabolism stores fat, sending it right to your midsection. So find your outlet for stress relief in order to lower your cortisol and restore metabolism.

Coffee – a cup of black coffee in the morning will help kick start your metabolism.

Green tea – sip a cup of green tea at lunch to help keep your metabolism going strong.

Eliminate toxins – Toxins confuse our metabolisms. Additives and processed foods, such as refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup, create strain on our livers and detoxification systems because our bodies try to handle these foods they were not designed to use. Additionally, many additives don’t contain any nutrients, so we’re eating foods that add calories without providing nutrition.

Avoid trans fats! – Hydrogenated oils, or trans fat, are dangerous to your metabolism because they bind to receptors on your cells that slow fat burning. They also increase cholesterol levels and the risk of insulin resistance. So focus on whole foods when grocery shopping, not the processed foods found in the interior aisles of the store.

How Exercise Can Affect Your Weight

Date posted: August 1, 2012

How many of you are not a fan of exercise or have trouble getting started? Or do you start an exercise regimen only to stop after a few weeks? I know it can be difficult to maintain, but it is important to make yourself exercise because it dramatically enhances your hormone balance and positively affects your energy, endurance and stamina. It’s difficult to imagine the benefits, but once you get started and stick with a program, you’ll start to experience them and then you’ll be a believer, too.

Exercise plays a key role in reversing insulin resistance, increasing activity of glucagon, a fat-burning hormone, increasing testosterone and DHEA and increasing natural HGH. It is also connected to improving cortisol balance. When people are not exercising, it is easy for these important hormones to be out of balance and create a scenario to gain weight.

In addition to hormone balance, exercise increases the amount of endorphins, natural morphine-like biochemicals that help you handle stress and improve your mood. It also raises the brain’s level of serotonin, the neurotransmitter that makes you happy.

If I still haven’t convinced you to get moving, here are even more benefits:

  • Keeps your blood sugar stable
  • Controls your weight
  • Controls your appetite
  • Keeps your bones strong
  • Prevents cancer
  • Improves joint function
  • Reduces the risk of stroke
  • Prevents urinary incontinence

I recommend a mix of interval training, strength training and yoga for the best hormone balancing results. Check out chapter 17 of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Hormone Weight Loss for more information on these exercises and for step-by-step instructions for functional movement exercises.

So start exercising today. For your health and happiness!

Diet and Thyroid Connection

Date posted: July 26, 2012

This week we’ll continue our discussion of how low-fat diets can negatively affect our health and waistlines. Last week I explained how low-fat diets can cause higher cholesterol levels and lead to heart disease. Today I’ll explain how low-fat diets can cause high insulin levels and create a sluggish thyroid that will lower your metabolism and cause weight gain.

Low-fat diets cause high insulin and leptin levels. Leptin has a close relationship with the thyroid. As you eat more sugars and refined carbohydrates, you create insulin resistance and leptin resistance, so even though those levels are high, your body is not listening to them. Therefore, if you’re overweight, your thyroid gland might be directed to keep your weight high because it thinks the leptin levels are low.

Maintaining a healthy thyroid is very important as thyroid controls many functions in your body, including digestion and the rate you burn calories. You can make a great impact on the function of your thyroid by focusing on your toxin exposures, diet, and stress levels, which would improve your metabolism and allow you to lose weight. A diet low in sugars and refined carbohydrates and high in vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats will give you the nutrients you need to support your thyroid.

If your thyroid is underactive, or hypothyroid, you may feel sluggish, have difficulty concentrating, have difficulty losing weight, have cold hands or feet, and experience constipation, among other things. The most common cause is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, which is a disease of the body’s immune system. If you have this condition, it means that your body makes antibodies against thyroid tissue, which makes it difficult to produce enough hormone and for it to attach to your thyroid receptors. The result is that it’s not able to do its job of regulating metabolism, digestion and other functions.

A strong connection exists between thyroid antibodies and gluten sensitivity. Studies have shown that some women who are hypothyroid can return to normal thyroid function simply by removing gluten from their diet. Gluten is a protein found in some grains such as wheat, rye and barley. Consider a six-month trial of a gluten-free diet to see whether you feel better. Even if you still need thyroid replacement, removing gluten from your diet can make your thyroid function and hormone balance even better.

The Good News about Cholesterol

Date posted: July 19, 2012

Many people are afraid of cholesterol because they associate it with heart disease. However, despite extensive campaigns for Americans to eat low-fat, low-cholesterol diets, rates of heart disease remain high.

But before I go into way cholesterol isn’t to blame, let me start by explaining what cholesterol is in the first place. Cholesterol is a waxy substance produced in our bodies and found in our diets. It’s an essential part of cell membranes; bile acids; steroid hormones; and the fat-soluble vitamins A, E, D and K. The typical body normally produces about 1,000 milligrams per day.

Now to why cholesterol isn’t too blame for the high rates of heart disease. The reality is that a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet usually contains a lot of sugar to compensate for the flavor lost by the reduction in fat. Because of insulin resistance, much of this sugar ends up being stored as fat. The increase in stored fat causes a release of cholesterol and triglycerides, which are markers for heart disease, into the blood. Therefore, it is actually excess sugar, not excess cholesterol, that causes an increase in blood cholesterol.

It’s important to know that cholesterol serves many important purposes in your body and is critical for the production of steroid hormones. As a matter of fact, if your total cholesterol level is too low, you may not be making enough hormones! And if you consistently have high cholesterol despite appropriate diet and lifestyle, it may be a sign of hormone imbalances because your body is trying to make enough extra cholesterol to produce hormones.

Artificial Sweeteners are Worse than Sugar

Date posted: July 12, 2012

Despite recent news stories you may have seen stating that artificial sweeteners might help keep pounds off, I’m here to tell you that not only can artificial sweeteners lead to weight gain, but they can also cause serious side effects. Artificial sweeteners are actually worse than sugar because they are man-made chemicals and are not recognized as food.

Aspartame (Equal) breaks down into methyl alcohol, a chemical that is poisonous to the human body. It’s associated with a number of side effects, including decreased vision, hearing impairment, seizures, migraines, memory loss, irritability, anxiety, hives and hyperactivity. Sucralose (Splenda) has been linked to migraines and low thyroid.

The way these zero-calorie sweeteners lead to weight gain is by tricking the brain into expecting more calories, thereby promoting desire for sweet foods. In an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association, one researcher summed up study results this way: “Although low-calorie sweeteners are a dietary staple for many individuals trying to maintain or lose weight, an emerging body of evidence suggests these substances offer little help to dieters and may even help promote weight gain.”

Taking into account the aforementioned side effects and the fact that no one really knows the exact implications of sweeteners on hormone balance, but given the evidence so far, it makes sense to avoid them. That isn’t to say consuming regular sugar is okay either. It is best to start retraining our taste buds and bodies to rely less on sugary foods. Read this article for some tips on cutting back sugar without even realizing it.

The fact is consuming too much sugar is one of the main triggers of hormone imbalance. Instead, try using natural sweeteners like honey, agave or Stevia instead. Stevia comes from a shrub in South America and it has been used by Indians for hundreds of years. Agave comes from the Mexican cactus and has minimal impact on your insulin response and can be used in high temperatures.

Is it time for a pantry clean out?

Date posted: June 27, 2012

One of the key things to do as you get ready to start the Hormone Weight Loss Diet, or any journey for a healthier life, is to get rid of everything in your kitchen that might wreak havoc with your diet and restock with healthy foods, beverages and snacks. If you don’t have forbidden products in your kitchen, you won’t be tempted to eat them in a moment of weakness. Your family might not be happy with you at first, but it’s for your own good, and their own good, too.

Make sure you remove everything that contains hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats, refined carbohydrates like white flour and white sugar, and high fructose syrup. In addition, get rid of and don’t purchase tomato products in cans; buy them in glass bottles. No sodas, sugary cereals, movie theatre buttered popcorn, salty chips and nuts, sugary juices, and the like.

Try to buy organic food that is antibiotic and hormone free as often as possible. A number of food chains such as Whole Foods, Wild Oats, and Trader Joe’s make purchasing organic foods easier. And most grocery chains now carry their own lines of organic foods. Also, make sure that you’re drinking clean, filtered water.

Now that you’ve cleaned out the forbidden products, it’s time to replace your pantry with healthy products to keep you on track to achieve weight loss.

  • Healthy oils for cooking, baking and salad dressings – extra-virgin olive oil and canola oil
  • Flavorful nut and seed oils for stir frys and dressings – toasted sesame oil, walnut oil, flaxseed oil and sunflower oil
  • Vinegars – balsamic, red-wine, white-wine, apple cider
  • Olives – green or kalamata
  • Unsalted nuts and seeds
  • Low-salt canned beans or dry; just give canned ones a good drain and rinse prior to using
  • Lentils
  • Low-salt canned tuna or salmon; even better look for the tuna and salmon in the pouch
  • Steel-cut oats for oatmeal and homemade granola
  • Unsweetened, dried fruits for oatmeal, granola and DIY trail mix
  • Dark Chocolate with 605 cacao or unsweetened cocoa
  • Quinoa is a great replacement for rice and pasta
  • Green tea to brew your own iced tea
  • Honey or stevia for a natural sweetener in place of sugar and artificial sweeteners
  • Natural peanut butter, almond butter or sunflower seed butter
  • Unsweetened nondairy beverages to make delicious fruit smoothies

Headed to the Beach? Put Down that Sunscreen!

Date posted: June 20, 2012

Yes, you read that right. Getting the perfect glow this summer can be hazardous to your health – and not because you may overdo it and get burned. The sunblock you so liberally apply to yourself and your children – thinking that you’re protecting your skin – may be chock full of chemicals that can make you sick.

Thankfully, we can arm ourselves with some knowledge about which chemicals to avoid when we head to the store to stock up on sun protection this season. The Environmental Working Group’s 2012 Sunscreen Report evaluates over 1,800 SPF products including sunblock, lip balms, moisturizers, and makeup and identifies potentially harmful toxins that you should avoid if possible. Among the chief offenders to look for on the ingredient list of your favorite products:

Oxybenzone – This ingredient’s primary purpose is to absorb ultraviolet light. However, some research studies indicate that the chemical is absorbed through the skin and is linked to hormone disruption. It is also known to trigger allergic reactions. Even though the FDA rates this chemical as safe, I’d suggest that everyone –children and pregnant women especially – avoid it. Why risk your health and the health of your family by introducing this controversial chemical into your body when safer alternatives are available?

Retinyl Palmitate – In 2009, a study by U.S. government scientists suggested that retinyl palmitate, a form of vitamin A, may speed the development of skin tumors and lesions when applied to the skin in the presence of sunlight. While these studies were done on mice and not humans, and the results were inconclusive, many manufacturers began voluntarily removing the ingredient from their products.

Sunscreens with greater than SPF 50 – these are simply a waste of your money. The FDA is on the record as saying that products with SPF values higher than 50 would be “misleading to the consumer,” given the absence of proven efficacy beyond that number. There is also a potential for harm to consumers who are led to believe that the higher SPF will protect them from burning and encourage them to stay in the sun longer.

So what ingredients offer a healthier choice for sun protection?

  • Choose products labeled with broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection.
  • Look for products that contain zinc and titanium minerals as key ingredients. These perform best when it comes to filtering UV rays. These are also not considered hormone disruptors.
  • Make sure that your kids wear a hat and shirt whenever possible to protect their delicate skin. Moms and dads should follow suit!

12 Belly Busting Strategies for the Summer

Date posted: June 14, 2012

We all hate our belly fat, mostly because it is unsightly; however, scientists also have a special interest in belly fat because it is so different than the fat in other parts of our bodies. The major problem with belly fat is that it is actually its own endocrine organ. It can produce hormones and inflammatory molecules, and it has enzymes that turn testosterone into estrogen. In small amounts, that’s ok, but if there is a lot of belly fat and the majority of testosterone is being turned into estrogen in men or women, the result is reduction in the amount of lean muscle mass created, which contributes to weight gain.

Here are 12 strategies you can put into action today in order to bust your belly fat and lose weight this summer.

  1. Cut liquid calories – Don’t waste calories on high sugar, high caloric beverages like soda and juice. Instead, drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, to flush fat and salt from your system and to fight bloat. Add a few slices of lemon or lime to your water for a dose of Vitamin C, which helps fight ab flab. In the summer, it is easy to reach for the fruity alcoholic beverages like daiquiris and margaritas, but those drinks are like liquid sugar and alcohol is high in calories, so limit your intake.
  2. Eat healthy protein sources – Make sure to eat some type of protein source with each meal or snack to keep blood sugar stable. Protein also sends a satiety signal to the brain so you stay full for a longer period of time. Just balance out the protein by adding some vegetables and healthy fats to aid the liver’s capability to process the protein.
  3. Change up your workout – A mix of strength training and interval exercises, workouts that alternate high-intensity effort with low-intensity effort, is the best combination for balancing hormones, losing weight and building muscle mass. It’s summer though, so switch up your workouts with some outside activity like hiking, rowing, swimming, water polo or biking.
  4. Fill your plate with high fiber fruits and veggies – Summer is primetime for fruits and vegetables, so fill your shopping carts with these high fiber foods. Fiber slows the absorption of sugars from your digestive tract to your bloodstream. Fiber also helps you feel full and aids in digestion and elimination of waste. When you eat a lot of fiber, you help shrink your waistline.
  5. Nix the bottled water – In the summer it is important to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, but ditch the plastic water bottles. Instead, fill an eco-friendly reusable bottle like nalgene brand with filtered water and carry that with you throughout the day. The chemicals in the plastic are endocrine disrupters and mimic estrogen, contributing to hormone balance and weight gain.
  6. Relax – high levels of the stress hormone cortisol cause an increase in the production of belly fat. When you’re stressed, your body releases cortisol, which slows down your metabolism and encourages the storage of abdominal fat. The abdominal fat in turn starts sending more cortisol into your bloodstream and the whole process starts over again. Learning how to relax is the only way to break this cycle. Find a stress management technique that works for you – deep breathing, journaling, personal time, meditation, yoga, massage, etc.
  7. Get enough sleep – A good night’s sleep is important to reversing adrenal fatigue. Not getting enough sleep disrupts our sleep hormones melatonin and prolactin and makes us gain weight. Steps to improve your sleep include making sure your room is quiet, dark and the adequate temperature; going to bed early; avoiding refined sugars and caffeine close to bedtime; refraining from using the computer or watching television 30 minutes before bed and do something relaxing before bed like reading or taking a warm bath.
  8. Grill out – Take advantage of the warm weather but cooking out on your grill. It’s a relatively healthier way to cook and you can throw lean meat, seafood and veggies on the grill. Just avoid sugary or salty marinades. If using a marinade, make your own with olive oil, vinegar and herbs.
  9. Shop the farmers market – buy your fruits and vegetables at your local farmers market or produce stand. The produce at these places tends to be more local, which means it had to travel a far less distance, so it is fresher, will last longer and usually less expensive. Look for organic varieties to limit the number of pesticides you consume.
  10. Plan ahead – A little planning can make a big difference. Spending some time planning your snacks and meals will keep your eating on track and you’ll be less reliant on eating out or grabbing something unhealthy.
  11. Find a friend – Having a friend, significant other or family member to eat healthy with and work out with will help you stay on track. You’ll motivate one another and keep each other accountable.
  12. Take advantage of the longer day – After dinner, enjoy the extended daylight by going for a walk or swim, of course just wait 30 minutes before jumping into the pool.

Men’s Health Week: What’s Robbing Your Testosterone

Date posted: June 7, 2012

National Men’s Health Week kicks off Monday, June 11. During this week, we need to work to heighten the awareness of preventable health problems as wellas encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys. Many individuals, families and communities are involved. As we saw during Women’s Health Week, most of the focus needs to be put on eating healthy, getting check ups, managing stress and getting exercise. We talk a lot about women’s hormone issues in this newsletter, so I’d thought this would be a good time to focus on our men and their hormone issues as they age.

Testosterone is considered the “life force hormone.” It supports sex drive and sexual function, helps to maintain lean muscle mass, protects against bone loss and is associated with overall sense of well-being. In studies of men, low levels of testosterone have been associated with depression, heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease and prostate cancer.

Although testosterone levels do drop naturally as men get older, we are now facing a new challenge. We are starting to see levels of the hormone decreasing prematurely among men in their late 30s and 40s, and decreasing more intensely than nature intended among many older men. This is a symptom of our way of life. Stress, lack of sleep and poor diet increase the demand for our stress hormone, cortisol. The same building blocks that make cortisol also make testosterone. So, if your body is busy making cortisol, it won’t make as much testosterone as you need.

Research has shown that the biggest testosterone robbers include weight gain and a large waist. This can lead to symptoms like low sex drive, erectile dysfunction, osteoporosis, sleep disturbances, depressed mood, lethargy and diminished physical performance. Additionally, many men experiencing erectile dysfunction don’t need medications; they just need to lose a little weight. Smoking and overall poor health also increases the risk for this condition. Since ED is associated with heart disease, researchers conclude that treating the condition with lifestyle changes, rather than medication could produce far-reaching benefits for men’s overall health.

Important diet changes include, eating lean proteins, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates like vegetables and high fiber fruits every two to three hours. Also, it is important to avoid refined foods, artificial sweeteners and trans fats. Lifestyle changes include sleep, exercise that you enjoy, and stress management techniques such as a gratitude journal or deep breathing – anyone can fit those in! Improvements in nutrition, stress management and exercise and reductions in toxin exposure will benefit most – if not all – men.

The Health Benefits of Spices and Herbs

Date posted: May 31, 2012

Eating healthy to balance our hormones and promote weight loss doesn’t have to be boring, despite what you may think. It’s amazing what the addition of herbs and spices can do to pump up the flavor of a meal and make it more interesting. In addition to flavor, many herbs have excellent health benefits. You can find a full list of acceptable condiments, spices and herbs in chapter 13 of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Hormone Weight Loss, but I have outlined a few, along with their health benefits, for you below.

Cinnamon – known to help stabilize blood sugar and reduce insulin resistance

Turmeric and Garlic – both are wonderful anti-inflammatory agents

Parsley – inhibits tumor formation; is a good source of folic acid and B vitamins, which promote heart health and it has rich sources of antioxidants including flavanoids, Vitamin C, and beta-carotene

Oregano – the oils in this spice are an effective anti-bacterial agent, it contains numerous phytonutrients that function as potent antioxidants, and is a very good source of fiber.

Fennel – provides antioxidant protection and immune support from Vitamin C; the fennel bulb is a good source of fiber, which may help to reduce elevated cholesterol levels and prevent colon cancer and its good source of folate and potassium have additional benefits for heart health

Cayenne Pepper – the high concentration of capsaicin has been studied for its pain-reducing effects, its cardiovascular benefits and its ability to help prevent ulcers.

Ginger – has multiple health benefits including gastrointestinal relief, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and relief of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy.

Lavender – essential oils from this herb are extracted for its medicinal purposes. Add lavender essential oil to your moisturizer or a spray water bottle to relieve chaffed, irritated or burned skin. Lavender has natural antiseptic properties so use lavender oil instead of harsh rubbing alcohol to treat cuts and scrapes.

On the other hand, condiments you should avoid include:

  • Barbecue sauce with high fructose corn syrup
  • Fat-free salad dressings with partially hydrogenated oil
  • Ketchup with high fructose corn syrup

 

Get Summer Beautiful Skin

Date posted: May 25, 2012

The official start of summer is right around the corner! The dry, cold air of winter is behind us, so it’s time to prepare our skin for the warmer weather. Let’s face it; we can’t hide under long sleeves and pants anymore. Summer is all about shorts, sundresses, open-toed shoes, sleeveless blouses and, dare I say… bathing suits. So, I have put together some tips to get your skin ready for summer and how to keep it beautiful all summer long.

Preparing Skin for Summer

Exfoliation/Detoxification – First things first, you’ve been cooped up all winter long and probably neglecting your skin a little bit, so it’s time to get rid of some of that dry, winter skin by exfoliating. Grab a body scrub and hit the shower to shed some skin cells to reveal glowing skin. If you don’t exfoliate, you’ll be left with skin that makes you look dull and dry. Now is also a good time to detoxify your skin. Head to a sauna or steam bath and sweat out all those toxins.

Manage stress – Stress can lower your body’s levels of estrogen and thyroid hormone, which can lead to dry skin. Find at least 15 minutes of time out of every day to unwind and decompress. Go outside and take a walk, practice yoga or tai chi, go get a mani/pedi, sit on your porch with a good book, whatever it is that you enjoy.

Eating well – Beautify your skin from the inside by eating a well-balanced diet and taking a high-quality multivitamin to give your skin a nutritional boost. Foods rich in antioxidants and protein, such as fresh produce, fish and eggs, can stimulate collagen growth, which keeps the skin elastic and helps prevent wrinkles. Vitamin E helps keep skin glowing, protects skin from ultraviolet light, improves the effectiveness of sunscreen and helps with stretch marks, so look for vitamin E-rich foods like sunflower seeds, greens like spinach, almonds and asparagus.

Topical treatments with key ingredients – Products that contain vitamins A and C improve skin with their antioxidant effects. Have a little cellulite you’d like to minimize? Look for creams with collagen, a naturally-occurring substance that keeps skin firm. (Or check out Louisa’s feature below for a home remedy to blast and prevent cellulite.)

Maintaining and Protect Your Skin in the Summer

Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen – The most obvious way to protect your skin in the summer is to use a high-quality sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. Don’t grab last year’s bottle though, sunscreens do have expiration dates. So, go out and get a new bottle that has broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection. Sunscreen isn’t just for the days when you’ll be spending a lot of time outside. Everyone should apply a daily moisturizer with SPF all year long. And, obviously if you’ll be outside for a long period of time, use a sunscreen on other exposed areas of skin and reapply every couple of hours. You should also wear a hat and sunglasses and apply a lip balm with SPF protection.

Apply aloe – A day at the beach or in the pool can be harsh on your skin. Chlorine can dry out skin, hair and nails. So be sure to rinse off after a dip in the pool and apply a moisturizer with aloe to replenish dry skin as well as to relieve any potential sunburns.

Hydrate your skin – The beating sun can dry your skin, and not to mention cause you to sweat more, so staying hydrated is very important. Drink lots of filtered water to keep your body and skin hydrated.

Women’s Health Week – It’s Your Time!

Date posted: May 17, 2012

It’s National Women’s Health Week and this year’s theme is “It’s Your Time!” I am thrilled that we’re recognizing how important it is for you to start making your health a top priority. So often, women put themselves last behind everyone else: their spouse, children, parents and even neighbors! This week is dedicated to empowering and encouraging women to take the much needed steps to improve their physical and mental health and lower their risks of certain diseases. Those steps include the following:

  • Visit a health care professional for a regular checkup and schedule preventive screenings like mammograms, pap screenings, blood pressure and cholesterol tests, bone mineral density tests, diabetes screening, and more.
  • Give yourself a break! Spend at least 15 minutes a day doing something just for you (read a magazine, take a bath, take a walk, call a friend, smell the flowers, have a piece of dark chocolate and really taste it). Most importantly, give yourself permission to spend the time. No guilt allowed!!
  • Get active – start a regular exercise regimen. It can be anything that you enjoy that gets you moving. And, you can do different things on different days. The more you enjoy it, the more likely you are to stick with it. Exercise has many great benefits: to help balance hormones, prevent unhealthy weight gain, help with weight loss, improve cardiorespiratory and muscle fitness, improve bone health and improve mental function.
  • Eat healthy – Eat as many whole foods as possible, avoid processed foods, avoid trans-fat, eat small portions of low-GI foods every three hours, avoid eating refined flour and sugar, avoid artificial sweeteners.
  • Pay attention to mental health – Get enough sleep and manage stress! These are fundamental to preventing hormone imbalance due to increased cortisol demand or adrenal fatigue
  • Avoid unhealthy behaviors such as smoking, binge drinking, not wearing a seatbelt or bicycle helmet
  • Avoid and reduce exposure to environmental toxins. Here is one that I have added to the list. Take a look at the cleaning and beauty products that you use on a daily basis. Avoid heavily fragranced cleaning products, air fresheners, body products and cosmetics. Look for BPA-free cans and plastic products.

Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month

Date posted: May 10, 2012

May is Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month. This is a very important health issue for women and men. Osteoporosis is related to the loss of bone mass that occurs as part of the natural process of aging. It can be accelerated when hormones are out of balance. Although osteoporosis can occur in men, it is most common in women who have gone through menopause.

There are three factors essential for keeping your bones healthy throughout your life: adequate amounts of calcium, adequate amounts of vitamin D and regular, weight bearing exercise. Calcium and vitamin D are especially important after menopause.

Foods high in calcium include almonds, dark green leafy vegetables (collard greens and kale), beans (navy, kidney and pinto), tofu, tahini and calcium-fortified cereals. Vitamin D is necessary for the body to absorb calcium. Sunlight is a good source of Vitamin D, but it poses other risks. I recommend taking 1,000-2,000 IU from a supplement.

Physical activity also plays a major role in prevention. Regular strength training and aerobic exercise can improve muscle mass, balance and bone strength. Strength training including the use of free weights, weight machines, resistance bands or even gravity exercises can directly affect your bones to slow mineral loss. Aerobic exercise like dancing and low-impact aerobics, work directly on the bones in your legs, hips and lower spine. Swimming and bicycling are good for your muscles and cardiovascular system. Mix it up to reap the benefits of different types of exercise and to prevent boredom from occurring. Oh, and don’t forget to stretch before and after exercising. It helps increase flexibility, which helps with balance and posture.

Herbal Beats Pain Medication in New Arthritis Study!

Date posted: May 2, 2012

Guest article by JacobTeitelbaum, MD, www.endfatigue.com

A new study reported at this year’s annual Arthritis World Congress (Osteoarthritis Research Society International, or OARSI) showed that a natural remedy — a special mix of the anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving herbs curcumin and boswellia found in Healthy Knees and Joints by EuroPharma was much more powerfully effective at relieving arthritis pain than the medication Celebrex.

“Wear-and-tear” arthritis (called osteoarthritis ) is one of the most commonly seen conditions afflicting Americans. A staggering 27 million in the U.S. have arthritis, usually in the joints of the knees, hips, neck, lower back, feet or hands. That includes two out of every three people over age 65!

To combat the pain of osteoarthritis, many Americans use over-the-counter and/or prescription Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin, Motrin, Celebrex or Naprosyn. And they take a lot of them! Doctors write 70 million NSAID prescriptions every year, and over 30 billion OTC NSAID tablets are sold annually. But these are very risky drugs — they can cause stomach ulcers and GI bleeding that hospitalize more than 100,000, and kill over 16,000, people each year!1

In addition, these drugs dramatically raise the risk of cardiovascular disease. In one major study, NSAIDs doubled the risk of heart attack and tripled the risk of stroke!2 It’s reasonable to estimate that, all told, there are at least 30,000 unnecessary and largely preventable U.S. deaths from NSAIDs every year. Unnecessary, because natural remedies and other drugless treatments have been shown to be far more effective than NSAIDs at treating arthritis — and are far safer and cheaper, too!

Arthritis Study

The study was conducted by researchers on 28 people with osteoarthritis, who were divided into two groups. One group took Celebrex (100 mg, twice a day). The other group took a twice-daily dosage of 500 mg of an herbal combination containing a special, highly absorbable mix of curcumin and boswellia, which is sold in the U.S. under the name Healthy Knees and Joints (by EuroPharma).3

The researchers took measurements at the beginning of the study, and then after 12 weeks, of joint pain, joint tenderness, range of motion, crepitus (a crunching sensation in arthritic knees), and walking distance without pain. After 12 weeks, the difference in pain relief between the two groups was amazing.

Results Show Herbal Better Than Celebrex

At the beginning of the study, 79% of the people taking Celebrex were in moderate to severe pain. And after 12 weeks 50% of them were still in moderate to severe pain.

Now compare that to the folks who took Healthy Knees and Joints. At the beginning of the study, 86% of them were in moderate to severe pain — but after 12 weeks, only 21% were still in moderate to severe pain.

The bottom line is that taking the herbal remedy, as compared with taking Celebrex, helped many more people move from moderate/severe to mild pain!

The herbal remedy also worked far better than Celebrex in lessening joint tenderness, slightly better than Celebrex in increasing walking distance, and just as well as Celebrex in improving range of motion and crepitus (a crunching sensation in arthritic knees).

I think it’s flat out insane that doctors are continuing to prescribe deadly NSAIDs when all-natural, safe, lower cost, and more effective alternative treatments like Healthy Knees and Joints are available.

To read more about my four-step natural treatment for arthritis, please see Arthritis Pain — Effective Natural Therapies.

References
1″Gastrointestinal Toxicity of Nonsteroidal Antiinflammatory Drugs,” Wolfe MM, Lichtenstein DR and Singh G, New England Journal of Medicine, Volume 340, Number 24, pages 1888-1899.

2″Cardiovascular safety of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs: network meta-analysis,” BMJ 2011; 342 doi: 10.1136/bmj.c7086 (Published 11 January 2011)

3″Clinical evaluation of a herbal formulation, Rhulief® in the management of knee osteoarthritis,” Anthony, B and Kishakedath R, study presented at the 2011 World Congress of OARSI (Osteoarthritis Research Society International).

Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, is medical director of the national Fibromyalgia and Fatigue Centers and Chronicity, author of the popular free iPhone application “Cures A-Z,” and author of the best-selling books From Fatigued to Fantastic! , Pain Free 1-2-3—A Proven Program for Eliminating Chronic Pain Now, the Beat Sugar Addiction NOW! series, and Real Cause, Real Cure. Dr. Teitelbaum does frequent media appearances including Good Morning America, CNN, Fox News Channel, the Dr Oz Show and Oprah & Friends. He lives in Kona, Hawaii

Spring Fruits and Veggies I Can’t Get Enough Of

Date posted:

One of the reasons I love springtime is because of the variety of fruits and vegetables that are at their peak. It’s a perfect time to spring clean your diet. The weather is getting warmer so we can start moving away from those heavy stews and casseroles we turn to for comfort in the cold winter. We can start eating cleaner, lighter meals that are chock full of these gorgeous and nutritious fruits and vegetables.

The list below describes many of my springtime favorites. They can usually be found in many stores year-round. However, when they are at their season’s peak, they reap the most nutritional benefits and are more economical as well.

Artichokes – Low in calories, artichokes are also high in fiber, iron, potassium, magnesium, folate and vitamin C.

Asparagus – At their peak from March through June, asparagus is high in fiber and a good source of iron, B vitamins, and Vitamin C. To retain freshness and nutrition place them in cool storage, but the soonest you eat them after buying, the better. I love to roast asparagus in the oven with a drizzle of olive oil and sodium-free lemon pepper.

Blueberries – The typical harvest season for blueberries begins in May. Blueberries pack a potent bunch of antioxidants, fiber and vitamin C while low in calories. Try to go for organic since blueberries are the Dirty Dozen list of fruits and vegetables with the most pesticides.

Peas – English, sugar snap and snow peas are all at their peak from April through July. Like most legumes, peas are high in fiber and are a good source of plant protein. Nutritional benefits vary depending on variety, with English peas providing more B vitamins and zinc, while snow and snap peas offer more vitamin C. Peas make a great side dish, but are also great in salads, stir frys, even dips.

Radishes – An excellent accoutrement to salads, radishes are low in calories but pack a vitamin C punch.

Strawberries – these juicy berries are an ideal mid-morning snack or guiltless dessert as they are packed with fiber and just 1 cup meets 100% of your daily Vitamin C needs. Also on the Dirty Dozen list, it’s worth picking up organic strawberries.

Put your Metabolism into Spring by Eating to Increase Glucagon

Date posted: April 25, 2012

Glucagon is a hormone you probably haven’t heard a lot about, but it plays a major role in breaking down fat and allowing your body to have the right energy levels. Glucagon counterbalances insulin, and is also produced in the pancreas, along with insulin. While insulin has the job of helping nutrients get into cells, the job of glucagon is to release the stored nutrients to be used for energy as needed.

Glucagon promotes the release of stored glucose from the liver and the release of free fatty acids from your fat store. Therefore, this hormone actually breaks down fat. Since glucagon counterbalances insulin, they aren’t present at the same time. The pancreas either is releasing insulin in response to sugar or releasing glucagon in response to protein foods. However, neither is released when nonstarchy vegetables and fats are consumed. The ratio between insulin and glucagon determines whether food is used as building materials and fuel or stored as fat. A higher proportion of glucagon means that more food is used as building material or fuel.

A high carbohydrate diet will cause people to overproduce insulin and not enough glucagon. You can heal your metabolism and encourage glucagon to burn fat by balancing your insulin. When you eat natural fats and adequate amounts of protein, eliminate refined carbohydrates and exercise, you naturally increase your levels of glucagon, which encourages your body to use nutrients as fuel and building blocks for muscle and other important tissues in your body and to not store them as fat.

The following factors increase glucagon:

  • Diet low in sugar and low blood sugar
  • Exercise
  • Increased blood amino acid levels (eating protein)
  • Protein foods

The following factors decrease glucagon:

  • Free fatty acids in the blood (from too much sugar)
  • Frequent meals
  • High blood sugar
  • Insulin
  • Refined carbohydrates in diet
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Detoxifying your Body to Improve Hormone Balance, Increase Metabolism and Help Lose Weight

    Date posted: April 18, 2012

    Detoxification is a process by which your body transforms toxins and medications into harmless molecules that can easily be eliminated from your body. In order to be healthy and achieve weight loss, your body has to have the ability to detoxify well. We’ve talked a lot about toxin exposure – BPA and pesticides in our food and phthalates and parabens in household and cosmetic products – and how to reduce exposure to these toxins. But how do you help your organs and body remove these toxins? That’s what we’ll discuss today.

    It’s possible that toxic exposure is as big a contributor to obesity as poor diet and sedentary lifestyle. Understanding the best way to keep your detoxification organs healthy and to overcome problems associated with exposure to high levels of toxic environmental chemicals will help with weight loss. With simple lifestyle choices and utilizing some appropriate nutrients, you can keep your detoxification organs working well and increase your body’s ability to remove toxins. Common symptoms of toxin buildup in your body include headache, fatigue, muscle aches, asthma, allergies, skin disorders, and chronic infections.

    Your body has four main detoxification organs: the kidney, the liver, the skin, and your gastrointestinal tract. Each of these has a different ability to break down the toxins and to detoxify medications. These abilities are based on your genetic makeup but are also modified through your diet, lifestyle, and environmental exposures.

    Detoxification is mainly accomplished in two phases in your liver. In phase I, enzymes change the toxic compounds or medications into intermediate metabolites, or compounds. This is the first line of defense, and if it’s not functioning well, you’ll have toxic buildup in your body. In phase II, other enzymes convert the intermediate metabolites created in phase I into molecules that dissolve in water and can easily be removed from your body. This is where the kidneys and gastrointestinal tract come into play. Your skin, the fourth detoxification organ, is the body’s largest absorptive organ. It lets water, minerals, medications, and toxins in and out of the body. Its main goal is to protect the body from invaders, let in water to maintain hydration, keep you cool by sweating and remove toxins.

    There are many nutrients you can take in supplement form to aid detoxification, and those are listed in chapter 12 of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Hormone Weight Loss. Some common nutrients like herbs, green tea, vitamin C and B vitamin complex can make a big difference in the health of your liver. Saunas and steam baths and colon hydrotherapy are also good ways to detoxify your body.

Just in Time for Spring! Achieve Rapid Weight & Inch Loss, Muscle Toning, Balanced Hormones, Uplifted Mood, Bone Loss Prevention, & More!

Date posted:

By Louisa Graves

IN JUST 10 MINUTES A DAY GET INTO THE BEST SHAPE EVER!

With our lives being busier than ever, many of us simply don’t have the energy to get to the gym. Aging and stress reduces our natural production of HGH resulting in weight gain, sagging skin, and loss of muscle tone – especially around the waist, arms, buttocks and thighs. But the great news is….in just 10 minutes a day, you can improve how you look and feel – faster than ever before with age-defying whole body vibration technology – in the privacy of your own home!

Compared to traditional training methods such as weight lifting, aerobics or jogging, vibration plate technology achieves BETTER muscle toning, weight and inch loss results in FAR LESS TIME and with LESS EFFORT!

Affordable BODY VIBRATION PLATE THERAPY is Used by Celebs, Models & Rock Stars including: Madonna * Courtney Cox * Elle MacPherson * Mark Wahlberg & Claudia Schiffer, Professional and Olympic athletes, doctors and astronauts, to name a few! And now it’s affordable so everyone can enjoy the benefits.

vibration-plate

How Does a Vibration Plate work?

Simply stand or sit on the whole body vibration plate for JUST 10 minutes a day and squeeze each muscle group for 60 seconds each to quickly reduce fat, inches, and toxins, help balance hormones, uplift mood, reduce stress, increase bone density, reduce cellulite, improve overall well-being, and much more! Scroll down for my raid toning & inch loss exercise routine.

Check out the extensive list of benefits below.

Using a “BODY Vibration plate machine” JUST 10 minutes a day…

  • is equivalent to jogging 5 miles on a track — Jogging uses only 50 -70% of the muscle fibers! But standing or sitting on body vibration plate utilizes almost 100% of the muscle fibers. –Fat cells are dormant, but with rapid body vibration, the fat “drops” and quickly firms, sculpts, tones, and defines muscles far FASTER than most other conventional exercises
  • Body Vibration Machines are used by Olympic and professional athletes. Astronauts use body vibration machines after space missions to help re-build muscle and bone loss
  • In just 2 weeks, see muffin tops and inches around the waist reduce AND experience toned stomach muscles FASTER than doing crunches or sit-ups
  • The vibrations help QUICKLY reshape the arms, hips, waist, abdomen and legs.
  • Can help tighten skin on the body, face – even helps tone facial muscles!
  • Reduces and smoothes dimply cellulite by enhancing collagen production & promotes lymphatic drainage to improve the skin’s texture and tone
  • Chiropractors recommend vibration therapy to help prevent bone mineral loss
  • Excellent for preventing Osteoporosis
  • Increases Human Growth Hormone output by up to 361%, thus helps rejuvenate the body – a safe option to costly HGH injections
  • Enhances metabolic rate and increases energy and wellbeing
  • Reduces stress and decreases cortisol production (stress hormone) to help tone the tummy or middle-aged spread
  • Helps uplift mood and sense of well-being
  • Helps balance hormones whether post-baby, PMS, or menopause
  • Can help reduce menopausal issues such as irritability, mood swings, hot flashes and night sweats
  • Helps reduce insomnia and increases libido
  • An excellent choice for those with fibromyalgia or asthma
  • Can increase muscle strength up to 50% in as little as three weeks.
  • Promotes blood circulation and helps strengthen immune system
  • Increases joint mobility and helps stimulate body’s natural stretch reflex

Vibration Plate Therapy is THE ULTIMATE solution for busy women and men on the go! Below I’ve noted a very effective weight loss and muscle toning routine that I perform.

For your first workout begin by drinking a large glass of water. Set the timer to10 minutes and set the vibration to level 10, 15, or increase to level 20 if you have been exercising regularly. As you get stronger and more lean, increase the vibration level every few days or every week. Once you reach level 30 or 35, you may remain there or increase gradually if you want even more vibration. After over one year of use, I remain at level 35. It’s plenty of vibration for me I continue to achieve excellent results. Below I’ve noted my favorite exercises…..

Stand on the plate with knees slightly bent, while holding the arm straps up. Tightly squeeze the bicep muscles of the arms for 60 seconds. Engage the stomach muscles, holding them in while doing all exercise for faster tummy toning.

Watch the timer on the LCD screen. After 60 seconds, move to the next position.

  • Next, stand with knees slightly bent and do a pelvic tilt while holding and squeezing the bum muscles tight for 60 seconds.
  • Next, hold a deep squat position and squeeze thigh muscles for 60 seconds. Be sure to engage your stomach muscles while holding ALL positions to provide even faster stomach toning.
  • Next, stand with feet hip width apart, stand on toes, squeeze calves, legs, bum and hold tummy in at the same time for 60 seconds.
  • Next, step off the plate and hold a lunge with one leg resting on the vibration plate, holding the lunge for 60 seconds. Hold stomach in at the same time. Then repeat the lunge position on the other leg, squeezing and holding the position for 60 seconds. Hold stomach in at the same time.
  • Next, sit on the vibration plate with legs straddled apart, toes pointed, and squeeze leg muscles tight. This helps reduce cellulite on back of thighs and tones the legs quickly. Engage stomach and sit tall to reduce muffin tops at the same time. Within two weeks of daily use, your muffin tops will have noticeably decreased.
  • Then hold an abdominal crunch pose for even faster tummy toning results.
  • Roll onto one side of the thigh and squeeze. This addresses cellulite/saddle bag areas. Roll onto the other side of the thigh and repeat.
  • Lay with tummy on the plate and legs and arms extended out. Point toes and fingers while holding tummy in and squeezing bum and legs tightly for 60 seconds.
  • Next, hold a push-up position and feel the vibrations up the arms, down the back and down to the tummy. Hold stomach in while doing this exercise too. There are so many positions you can hold so you never get bored and you’re constantly working your muscles, burning fat, reducing inches, balancing hormones, and more.
  • You can even do push-ups or squat repetitions if you’re in good shape to begin with. As you get stronger, you can incorporate more gym exercises on your vibration plate machine and even increase the time to 20 minutes for 20 positions. SEE more exercises in the User Manual. And be sure to drink a big glass of water before and after your workout!

Skin Care Tips with Louisa: Regain Lost Volume in Skin

Date posted: April 12, 2012

THE NEW BUZZ in age-proofing skin care is a scientifically proven ingredient called Epidermal Growth Factor (EGF). It’s perfect for women 40 and up, or for those going through menopausal changes and are experiencing dryness, wrinkles, loss of elasticity, and lost volume in the face and neck. EGF helps increase lost volume in the face, hydrates, thickens, and firms thinning or sagging skin.

I have spent several years consulting with skin care manufacturers looking to create new cosmetic formulations. In fact, one year ago, I helped create a very popular face cream, called De-Aging Solution. It contains the maximum percentage of EGF allowed in a topical formulation, along with antioxidants and super hydrators. It’s designed for women with sensitive, mature, dry or menopausal skin as well as for those who prefer skin care products that are free of parabens, fragrance, color, peptides, or retinol. EGF helps regain lost volume in the face, increases elasticity, hydrates, smoothes, and thickens thinning, mature skin.

De-Aging Solution is a “sensitive skin”, alternative EGF cream that offers more hydration and antioxidants to protect, nourish and repair the skin. Apply De-Aging Solution onto clean face, neck, around eyes, and tops of hands both morning and evening. Mention Dr. Stanton’s newsletter when you order and I’ll include some free skin care samples in your package.

De-Aging Solution with EGF, Antioxidants & Super Hydrators is for dry, sensitive mature skin and is free of peptides, parables, fragrance color and retinol.

Spring Cleaning Your Home from Toxins

Date posted:

Spring has sprung and many of you may be getting ready to spring clean your home. Before you do so, it’s important to know that many household cleaning products contain chemicals that could be harmful to your family’s health. Phthalates are one class of these harmful chemicals. They are found in many types of cleaners, air fresheners and plastic products. As a matter of fact, “new car smell” and vinyl shower curtain smell are due to their phthalate content. On the label, phthalates are often listed as “fragrance”.

Phthalates are currently being studied as anti-androgens. This means that they work against hormones like testosterone. Low testosterone is connected to weight gain and decreased muscle mass in women and men. Studies have shown that the U.S. population has a chronic exposure to numerous phthalates. The studies have linked the chemicals to birth defects in boys, reproductive problems in men, and thyroid problems in both men and women. Low thyroid means lower metabolism with an increased chance for weight gain.

The immune system is affected by phthalates. They create an increase in inflammation in the body because of cell damage and hormone imbalance. This inflammation can also be associated with illnesses such as allergies, asthma and contact dermatitis. In addition, the increase in cortisol demand created by the inflammation causes an increased risk of belly fat, weight gain, and severe hormonal imbalances.

Now that we’ve discussed some of the problems these chemicals can cause, let’s cover a few options you can use to spring clean your home without toxins. Essential oils, derived from plants, are incredibly versatile: antibacterial, antifungal, wonderful air fresheners and excellent cleaners. In chapter 12 of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Hormone Weight Loss I outline the different essential oils and their specific household uses.

It is also possible to make your cleaners at home with a minimal amount of energy, effort and cost while significantly reducing your family’s toxin exposure. A basic shopping list includes baking soda, distilled vinegar, organic liquid dish soap, hydrogen peroxide (35% food grade from a health food store), borax, lemons, spray bottles, white vinegar and essential oils. Chapter 12 also includes some recipes for making your own cleaners, and I’ve included one example for you below. An excellent source of organic dish soap and other organic cleaners is the Vermont Soap Company.

I would suggest that you throw away air freshener sprays and plug-ins; they’re loaded with phthalates. Instead, freshen your home naturally with essential oils, organic candles, potted plants and fresh cut flowers. You can mix an essential oil with distilled water and put it in a spray bottle to spritz on your carpet, drapes and linens for a fresher-smelling room.

Glass cleaner:
½ cup distilled white vinegar
2 to 3 drops lemon oil
Distilled water

Put the white vinegar and lemon oil into a 32-ounce spray bottle. Finish filling the bottle with distilled water. Shake to mix ingredients, and use.

Are you Sensitive to Gluten?

Date posted: April 4, 2012

It seems like “gluten-free” is the marketing buzz term of the moment. It’s in the news and labeled on products all over the grocery store. But, what is gluten and why is it affecting so many people? We’ll address the issue of gluten in this issue, help you determine the symptoms of gluten intolerance and suggest what you do to determine if you are sensitive to gluten.

Gluten is a protein found in some grains such as wheat, rye, and barley. Though it was once thought to be very rare (1 in 2200 people), Celiac Disease, a genetic intolerance to gluten, has become more common over the past few decades (1 in 100 people). In certain Western European populations, Celiac Disease is found 3 to 6 times more commonly (up to 1 in 17 people)! Blood tests can determine if you have genetic Celiac Disease.

The issue with gluten intolerance is that it creates irritation and inflammation in your small intestine which damages the lining. This prevents the small intestine from absorbing adequate nutrients to keep us healthy. In addition, it creates a break in the barrier between our intestines and the rest of our body. Food proteins that our body is not used to seeing get into our bloodstream and cause our body’s defense system to think that we are being invaded by a dangerous enemy. These food proteins may look very similar to our organs such as thyroid, pancreas and nerve cells. We make antibodies against those proteins because we think we need to protect ourselves. However, these antibodies can start attacking our healthy cells and create a number of problems.

Symptoms of gluten intolerance are varied and depend on what organs are being attacked by the antibodies. Many people experience diarrhea, gas, bloating and fatigue. However, severe untreated Celiac Disease can cause symptoms like failure to thrive in children, other autoimmune illnesses, osteoporosis, infertility and neurological diseases. Treatment is recognizing the disease and removing all gluten from the diet.

You don’t have to have the gene for celiac disease to have problems tolerating gluten. An estimated 10-15% of the population has a form of gluten intolerance called nonceliac gluten intolerance. This is not a true food allergy so the symptoms are more subtle. They may include: sinus congestion and stuffiness, fatigue, “brain fog” or difficulty concentrating, headaches, stomachaches, rashes, joint aches and autoimmune diseases. Also, there is an increase in nonceliac gluten intolerance in those with autoimmune thyroid disease due to cross reactivity of the anti-thyroid antibodies with those produced by antibodies to the various food proteins seen in gluten intolerance. In addition, there is an increase in Celiac disease and nonceliac gluten sensitivity in those with Type 1 diabetes AND their families (mom, dad, siblings and children). If you’re being treated for thyroid disease or Type 1 diabetes and are finding, even with the right medications, that the disease is difficult to control, you may have a superimposed gluten intolerance.

The best way to determine your sensitivity is to completely stop all gluten for 30 to 60 days and pay close attention to how you feel. Many people realize that they no longer have headaches, gas, bloating or the other symptoms previously listed. I have had a number of patients lose 5-10 ponds as well! Then, you can reintroduce a food that contains gluten and see how you feel. Keep in mind you need to consume gluten only 10 to 15 days to maintain symptoms of gluten intolerance, so if you don’t see a difference in the way you feel, make sure that you’re extremely careful about reading labels. Gluten is contained in many things, particularly prepared foods and sauces, so it’s easy to accidentally take in gluten without knowing it.

The best way to avoid gluten is to focus on whole foods such as meats, fruits, veggies, healthy fats, nuts and seeds. Additionally, look for foods labeled “gluten-free.” There really is a much wider selection nowadays, but be careful to read the labels for additives. Acceptable grains include: amaranth, brown rice, gluten-free oats, quinoa and sorghum. Grains and foods to avoid include: bagels, breads, breakfast cereals, cookies, foods containing refined white or wheat flour and sugar, pastas, pastries and processed grains.

Tips for Monitoring Portion Sizes and Servings

Date posted: March 28, 2012

Over the past 20 years, Americans have witnessed an increase in portion sizes as we have watched our waistlines bulge. Restaurant meals, whether at fast food chains or fancy restaurants, have gotten larger as we equate the quality of the restaurant with getting more food for our money. Restaurant meals aren’t the only culprit; packages containing snack foods and soft drinks are getting larger and now contain multiple servings per package. This has made it more difficult for people to know what a normal serving size is and even more difficult to eat only that amount.

Here are some guidelines for the most confused serving sizes:

  • 2 tablespoons of nut butter = the size of a ping-pong ball
  • 3 ounces of cooked meat = the size of a palm or deck of cards
  • 3 ounces of grilled fish = the size of a checkbook
  • 1 ounce of nuts = the size of one handful or 2 shot glasses

In The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Hormone Weight Loss, I cite two studies, one in relation to meal size and one in relation to snack consumption, that both showed Americans have a tendency to eat more when offered. You can avoid overeating due to “portion distortion” in many ways. One of the best tips you can follow is learning to read food labels to determine the actual serving size and the number of servings per package. What you read might surprise you. It also goes back to the topic of conscious eating, which I shared in last week’s issue; instead of being distracted when you eat, be aware of where you are, what you’re eating, and how you’re feeling.

Here are some strategies for controlling your calorie intake with smaller portions:

  • At restaurants, ask for the meal to be divided in half, plating half of it and putting the rest into a doggie bag to take home.
  • At home, serve reasonable portions of food on individual plates, and keep the rest of the food in the kitchen and off the table. Also serve food on smaller salad plates.
  • If eating in front of the television, put a reasonable portion of food into a bowl and leave the rest in the kitchen. An even better strategy is to restrict the food you eat in front of the TV.
  • Because you tend to consume food more easily when you have easy access to it, keep healthy options like high-fiber fruits and nuts out in front.

Head-to-Toe Benefits of Argan Oil

Date posted: March 20, 2012

Our age-proofing expert Louisa Graves shares organic, paraben-free alternatives to help us look and feel our best. For myriad ‘head to toe’ challenges Louisa recommends raw, Certified Organic, 100% pure, Argan Oil. A product from the Moroccan Argan tree, Argan Oil is considered one of the rarest oils in the world due to the small and very specific growing area.

Argan Oil can be used on skin, hair and nails. It is very rich in essential fatty acids, and contains almost twice as much vitamin E as olive oil. It is rich in saponins, which restore the skin’s water lipid layer so skin becomes instantly hydrated without clogging pores. You’ve likely heard about argan oil for revitalizing hair, but I bet you didn’t know that it can be used to strengthen brittle nails, dry scalp, acne, eczema, psoriasis, and more.

Some of the many benefits and uses of Organic Argan Oil include:

FOR WRINKLE REDUCTION & REJUVENATION: Three nights a week, after cleansing apply two drops of Argan Oil onto face, around eyes, and on neck. You can apply a night time moisturizer overtop. This regimen helps hydrate and soften skin, reduces appearance of wrinkles and alleviates chapped, cracked, or rough winter skin.

QUICK REGIMEN: Before a special event, massage Argan oil onto clean face, on neck, body, hands, hair and scalp. Leave on for 20-30 minutes and then shower, and shampoo/condition hair as normal. Your skin and hair will look and feel amazing.

FOR ACNE or OILY Skin: Every other night, apply Argan Oil onto face. It moisturizes while keeping acne and blemish-prone skin in check.

FOR BEAUTIFUL, SHINY HAIR: Argan Oil is an excellent capillary mask for beautiful hair. It nourishes and revitalizes hair, adds lustrous shine, natural softness and silkiness. Apply Argan oil onto scalp and hair. Massage and wait at least 30 minutes before shampooing or leave on overnight.

FOR DANDRUFF, DRY SCALP: For those with flakes, dryness, eczema or psoriasis on the scalp, at night massage Argan Oil onto scalp and throughout hair. Leave on overnight, then shampoo in the morning. Argan Oil will not stain your pillow case.

FOR ECZEMA or PSORIASIS on the skin: Massage Argon Oil sparingly onto red, flaky patches for all day relief.

FOR NAILS: To help strengthen soft and brittle nails combine equal parts Argan Oil and fresh lemon juice and dip nails into this preparation for 10 minutes.

A few drops of Argan Oil are sufficient for applying on the skin. It’s cold-pressed, paraben and fragrance-free, grown without chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and tested free of any chemical residue. Refrigeration after opening is recommended.

Top Beauty and Age-proofing Expert, Louisa Graves, is one of the most highly sought-after experts in the media. She reveals scientifically proven, non-invasive “look and feel good” alternatives on TV, radio, magazines, and more. Louisa is the author of doctor-recommend book, “Hollywood Beauty
Secrets: REMEDIES to the RESCUE”, revealing age-proofing tips that don’t cost a fortune.

No More Meals on the Run, Time to Practice Conscious Eating

 

Meals on the run, fast food, energy bars and TV dinners are all part of today’s culture. In fact, the average American eats five meals a week in the car! Does this sound like you? Poor digestion, high cortisol levels and distracted driving are the consequences of this fast-paced, on the go lifestyle.

Nowadays, people rarely take the time to make a healthy meal, eat together and enjoy the food that is in front of them. When you aren’t paying attention to what you eat, it’s easy to consume too much. Not to mention much of the food you eat on the run has little nutritional value. Therefore, you remain hungry.

It might be time to practice conscious eating, a nutrition philosophy based on the idea that listening to the body’s natural hunger signals is a more effective way to reach a healthy weight than keeping track of the amounts of energy and fats in foods. It’s intended to create a healthy relationship with food, mind and body. Conscious eating means eating slowly, chewing well and savoring every bite. Conscious eating and digestion start in the mouth, so it’s important to chew your food slowly. Additionally, it’s important to remove as many sources of stress as possible while enjoying your food. (That means no driving while eating!) If your body is focusing on fight or flight, it’s not focusing on the pleasure of eating and digestion.

When you start to slow down and listen to your body, it becomes easier to determine whether you’re truly hungry or actually stressed, bored or thirsty. In order to learn to listen to your body again, start paying close attention to the food you’re craving, often the basis for cravings is due to lack of necessary nutrients.

National Nutrition Month

Date posted: February 29, 2012

March is National Nutrition Month, so I thought this was a good opportunity to review the essential nutrients our bodies need and tips for staying on track with your healthy eating and way of life.

All humans require essential nutrients, which are nutrients that the body cannot manufacture in sufficient amounts but are necessary for survival. The essential nutrients we need include carbohydrates, some amino acids, essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals and water. Vitamins are chemicals in foods that perform specific functions in the body. For example, Vitamins C and E are antioxidants, preventing and repairing damage to cells due to oxidation.

Minerals serve as the body’s source of electrical power to do things like stimulating your muscles to contract, your heart to beat and your nerves to carry nerve impulses. You get minerals from different foods. For example, calcium comes from dairy products, but also broccoli and dried beans. Phosphorous can be found in dairy products, meat, seeds and nuts. Water is one of the most important nutrients because it provides the medium in which most chemical reactions take place in the body. It also plays important roles in metabolism, energy transformation, removal of toxins and wastes, and temperature regulation.

Carbohydrates are used as a source of energy. They can be simple or complex. Focus on complex carbohydrates from plant sources, which contain nutrients and fiber. Fruits, legumes and whole grains are also more favorable carbohydrates because they tend to convert to sugar more slowly and are more slowly absorbed into the bloodstream.

Tips to stay on track with your healthy eating:

Record what you eat
Drink water
Eat breakfast every day
Eat every three hours
Don’t drink your calories
Eat healthy foods 80 to 90 percent of the time
Monitor portion sizes and servings

Using Food as a Drug

Date posted: February 23, 2012

Sunday kicks off National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, so I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about the behavior of using food as a drug, which can lead to food addiction, a type of eating disorder.

Many people use food as a drug to feel better, but eating and drinking excessively for pleasure can lead to food addiction, a serious problem and form of self-sabotage. Additionally, the interval voices that chide you as you have another plate of pasta or another glass of wine adds to your stress level, which of course, increases your cortisol demand and contributes to hormone imbalance.

Food addiction is a vicious cycle. For example, if you eat a sugary or starchy breakfast, you might crash midmorning leading you to reach for caffeine or sweets to jack up your sugar levels again. Then the cycle repeats itself in the afternoon. The carb overload creates imbalances with insulin and cortisol, as well as depletes the natural chemicals that allow for communication between the cells in your brain that help you feel good. The feel-good neurotransmitters, dopamine and serotonin, are especially susceptible to sugar spikes, and when your diet is poor, they won’t function well. When these brain messengers are affected, you’re vulnerable to depression and more sugar cravings. If you can’t handle the low between your fixes, you have a food addiction.

In her book, The Truth About Beauty, Kat James discusses signs that can help you determine whether you’re addicted to food:

  • You need a sugar or caffeine fix to get you from lunch to dinner.
  • You think about food a lot when you’re not eating.
  • You reward yourself with large amounts of food and then feel guilt or shame.
  • You feel the urge to binge when you are upset.
  • You skip meals on purpose and then gorge in one sitting.
  • You get a buzz from food.
  • You salivate over food advertisements.
  • You prefer to eat alone, so you can eat all you want in peace.
  • You obsess about your next meal even you are full from the previous one.
  • You deal with your out-of-control appetite by having nonfat frozen yogurt, large plates of vegetables, or fat-free chips.
  • You worry about getting enough food when you have to share.
  • You keep eating even after you experience physical discomfort from an overly full stomach.

The Role CoQ10 Plays in Heart Health

Date posted: February 15, 2012

In keeping with Heart Health Month, I’d like to discuss the role CoQ10 plays in maintaining heart health. CoQ10 is found in every cell and is essential for the production of energy that keeps people alive. Levels of CoQ10 start to decline around age 35, contributing to the development of heart disease and other debilitating conditions. At a minimum, low CoQ10 levels make it difficult for the body to produce enough energy for the heart, other organs, and muscles to function well.

Supplements are the practical way to replenish levels of this nutrient, because organ meats are the only significant food source, but very few people eat organ meats. Numerous studies have found that CoQ10 significantly improves the health of people suffering from heart disease and aids in recovery from a heart attack. Other research has shown that CoQ10 can help reduce blood pressure, improve blood sugar control among diabetes, aid in breast cancer treatment, help to heal gum disease and improve capacity to exercise.

So how much should you take? After age 35, I recommend taking 50 milligrams, however, if you’re overweight or have high blood pressure, fatigue, diabetes, or any form of heart disease or other illness, take 100 to 200 milligrams.

Top Foods to Prevent Heart Attack

Date posted: February 2, 2012

February is National Heart Month. With more than 2 million Americans suffering heart attacks and strokes each year heart health is of vital importance. As a country, our poor eating habits are taking a huge toll on our heart health.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, not one state in the U.S. had an obesity rate under 20 percent in 2010. Thirty-six states had populations with obesity rates of 25 percent or higher. Approximately one-third of U.S. adults (33.8 percent) are obese, and about 17 percent of kids aged 2-19 years are as well. In the last 30 years childhood obesity has tripled, setting children up for future health problems that can dramatically shorten their lives: diabetes, heart disease, stroke, hypertension, and certain types of cancer.

Embracing a heart-healthy diet can and should be a family affair. Focusing on eating whole, fresh foods instead of processed ones can help your family beat the battle of the bulge without feeling deprived.

Here is a list of top foods to incorporate into your diet to keep your heart healthy and to prevent a heart attack:

  • Fruits and Vegetables – the high fiber content in fruits and vegetables decreases the buildup of plaque in the arteries and less plaque means decreased blockages to the heart.
  • Nuts – Walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans and pistachio nuts are rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids that can reduce blood cholesterol. All nuts are high in calories, so a handful will do.
  • Oats – eaten daily, oats can clean arteries better than some medications.
  • Salmon and Flaxseed – rich in omega-3 fatty acids, salmon and flaxseed lower triglycerides.
  • Garlic – numerous studies have shown benefits of regular garlic consumption on blood pressure, platelet aggregation, triglyceride levels and cholesterol levels.
  • Berries and cherries – these fruits are high in polyphenols, which prevent cell damage that creates unhealthy blood vessels and heart.
  • Quinoa – this tiny seed is an excellent source of magnesium, the mineral that relaxes blood vessels. Low levels of magnesium lead to hypertension, heart disease and arrhythmias.

The Importance of Strength Training as You Age

Date posted: January 20, 2012

Practicing strength training as we age is important because it helps us maintain muscle mass. When we lose muscle mass, we lose strength, gain weight and become frail. The good news is that strength training can reverse these effects, and quite quickly.

At age 30, people who are physically inactive lose anywhere from 3 to 5 percent of their total muscle mass per decade. After the age of 50, the rate of loss doubles. This is the biggest reason why elderly people become frail, and, because muscle dictates metabolism, is the basic cause of weight gain.

As muscle mass declines, due to inactivity, the body needs less fuel from food. Therefore, even if you don’t eat more, as you lose muscle, more and more of your calories will be stored as fat. On top of that, with age, your body becomes less efficient at converting the protein you eat into muscle tissue, which worsens the muscle-wasting process.

Loss of age-related muscle mass and strength is known as sarcopenia, and becomes a huge problem for elderly people who become frail to the point that they cannot get out of a chair or walk across a room without assistance. This also increases the risk of for falls and broken bones as a result of those falls. Getting in the habit of practicing strength training in your 20s or 30s is good, but no worries if your pass that mark. As I mentioned before, you can quickly reverse the effects of muscle loss with strength training. Studies of nursing home residents found that as little as two weeks of strength-building exercises, with weights or other resistance, can produce dramatic changes in their ability to function. Imagine what it can do for you!

Thyroid Awareness Month

Date posted: January 4, 2012

January is Thyroid Awareness Month and with millions of Americans suffering from either an underactive or an overactive thyroid, I thought this was a perfect opportunity to discuss the foods you should incorporate into your diet to sustain a healthy thyroid.

But first, some background information on the thyroid. As one of the largest glands that produce hormones in the body, the thyroid is critical to your metabolism as well as regulating other functions in the body, including energy and heat production, tissue repair, regulating protein, carbohydrate and fat metabolism, and muscle and nerve action.

Your diet can create a sluggish thyroid that will lower your metabolism and cause weight gain. For example, low-fat diets cause high insulin and leptin levels. You can make a great impact on the function of your thyroid by focusing on toxin exposures, diet and stress levels, which would improve metabolism and allow for weight loss. A diet low in sugars and refined carbohydrates and high in vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats will give you the nutrients you need to support your thyroid.

There are some studies that show a connection between gluten sensitivity and thyroid antibody production. You don’t have to have Celiac Disease to have sensitivity to gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. Many people are sensitive to gluten and may experience bloating, cramps, weight gain, difficulty concentrating, skin rashes when they eat foods containing wheat, rye or barley. Those with sensitivities may make antibodies that cross-react with the thyroid and reduce thyroid function. Consider a gluten-free diet for eight weeks and see if you feel a difference.

Tips for improving thyroid function through what you eat:

  • Incorporate foods high in selenium such as seafood, shellfish, eggs, beef liver and beef kidneys. Sesame seeds, Brazil nuts, mushrooms, garlic and onions are other good sources.
  • Zinc can improve thyroid function as well. This mineral is especially important for middle-aged to elderly people since thyroid concerns and zinc deficiencies become more frequent with age. Good food sources of zinc include beans, nuts, crab, lobster and whole grain.
  • Thiamine is a mineral important to maintain optimum thyroid function. It is found in fortified cereals, milk, enriched whole grains and vegetables.
  • Avoid eating cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli and Brussels sprouts in raw form as they can negatively impact an unhealthy thyroid. However, cooking these vegetables reduces the effects of the ingredients that harm the thyroid.
  • If you’re taking thyroid medications avoid eating any dairy products, soy products, walnuts or high-fiber foods within four hours of taking the medication as they can interfere with the medicine absorption. Studies have shown that there is no difference in the effectiveness of thyroid medication if it is taken at night instead of in the morning. Taking thyroid medication two hours after eating at night might be easier than trying to wait an hour to eat breakfast if you’re taking it in the morning. Either way works – it just depends on what works best for you.

Supplements to Aid Weight Loss

Date posted: December 14, 2011

Vitamins and minerals ensure that thousands of reactions take place in the body to maintain a healthy metabolism, balanced hormones, and good health. A deficiency with just one vitamin can create a chain reaction that slows your metabolism and brings your health down along with it. Nutrients in our food can be depleted by any number of factors, so it’s important to make up for this depletion with supplements such as a quality multivitamin.

To support hormonal balance, weight loss, and good health, there are some key ingredients to look for when choosing a multivitamin.

  • Vitamin A, which supports thyroid function, enhances your metabolism and allows for weight loss.
  • B vitamins, which have many weight-loss qualities including helping metabolism, keeping adrenal glands healthy, converting carbohydrates into energy and breaking down fats and protein.
  • Vitamin C, an antioxidant that is important during times of stress and vital for virtually all aspects of wellness, including healthy metabolism. Low levels of Vitamin C correlate with excess weight and might promote cravings for sweet or salty snacks, or beverages that are sugary or contain stimulants, such as caffeine.

Multivitamins don’t contain adequate Vitamin D, and it is estimated that only four percent of Americans consume enough Vitamin D, so taking Vitamin D in supplement form is important. Vitamin D plays a major role in overall health, but in weight loss terms, it helps the pancreas release insulin and endocrinologists have discovered that weight-loss success is more likely for those taking Vitamin D.

Other vitamins and minerals for weight loss include:

  • Chromium, an essential nutrient involved in the regulation of carbohydrate and fat metabolism. Chromium has been recognized for its beneficial effect on reducing blood sugar levels, burning calories, decreasing sugar cravings, reducing fat and decreasing cortisol.
  • Selenium, acts as an antioxidant and is required for proper thyroid function.
  • Zinc, another trace mineral, is good for your metabolism, helps insulin do its job and necessary for healthy thyroid function.
  • Calcium, is required for breaking up fats and energy production. Too much though can reduce thyroid function and make it more difficult to lose weight.
  • L-Carnitine, is helpful for weight loss by converting stored fat into energy.

Enhance Hormonal Balance: How Unbalanced Hormones Can Affect Your Weight

Date posted: November 30, 2011

We talk a lot about the best ways to maintain balanced hormones – eat appropriately, get enough sleep, exercise, eliminate toxins and reduce your stress levels – but what happens around age 40 when our hormones start to naturally decline?

In the years leading up to menopause, known as perimenopause, women start having hormone fluctuations starting with lower progesterone. Add in some stress and your progesterone lowers even more because your body will use it to help make more cortisol. Once menopause hits, your estrogen will begin to fall significantly, and you might notice an increase of fat around your belly. This happens because some of estrogen’s functions are to increase metabolism and insulin sensitivity. As perimenopause and menopause progress, symptoms might increase including hot flashes, weight gain, difficulty sleeping and a host of other problems. Some women can relieve these symptoms with lifestyle changes, supplements and herbs, while other women might choose to replace missing hormones with replacement therapy.

Men can’t escape weight gain due to hormone imbalances either. As men age, testosterone – a hormone with many functions to help maintain weight – starts to decline. And due to lifestyle habits, many men under the age of 40 have low testosterone levels for their age. Low testosterone leads to increase fat mass and weight gain, which then sets off a chain reaction that often leads to fatigue, depression, inflammation, and further weight gain.

We’ve talked a lot about how stress can lead to hormone imbalances and weight gain, but another side effect to stress concerns the thyroid. The thyroid is in charge of metabolism. If your cortisol is high due to stress it tells your body to conserve energy, therefore your thyroid secretes less active hormone and reduce your metabolism, leading to weight gain.

If you’re still having trouble overcoming symptoms of hormone imbalance even after making lifestyle changes, you may want to consider hormone replacement therapy. However, it’s very important to find a physician that specializes in hormone testing and is dedicated to treating the underlying cause of your symptoms and not just your symptoms. A physician who understands bioidentical hormones is also important because they have the correct shape to fit into all the receptors on the cells in your body.

Steps to Improve Sleep

Date posted: November 16, 2011

One of the most common symptoms of hormone imbalance is trouble sleeping, and stress is probably the number one culprit because it sets off a chain reaction starting with increased cortisol to insulin resistance and adrenal fatigue, which then affects our sleep. We’ve talked about the two hormones that are related to sleep and weight gain in a previous issue, so today I’d like to focus on the steps you can take to improve sleep.

Making sure your sleeping conditions promote a good night’s sleep is the first step. This includes having a quiet room because if you’re woken up by sound it will disrupt your sleep cycle and make it difficult to fall back to sleep. If you live in a noisy city, consider earplugs or a sound machine. Set your thermostat to an appropriate temperature, not too hot or too cold. Keep your room as dark as possible since any light will disturb the production of melatonin, your sleep hormone. Lastly, make sure your room is comfortable and inviting.

One of the most important things about getting a good night’s sleep is making sure your blood sugar level stays stable throughout the night. If your blood sugar level drops during the night, your body interprets that as stress and releases cortisol, which wakes you up and then you have trouble falling back to sleep. Avoid eating refined sugars or drinking caffeine, especially close to bedtime. Despite popular belief that alcohol helps you fall asleep, it actually creates a drop in blood sugar during the middle of the night.

Set yourself up right by doing something relaxing before bed like reading a book, meditating or taking a warm bath. If you get up frequently in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, monitor how much you’re drinking in the evening. If it isn’t that much, speak to your physician because it could be a bladder issue or diabetes.

Finally, if you’ve followed all of the steps and you’re still having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, there are a few supplements out there you can take – 5-HTP, GABA, Inositol, Magnesium glycinate or Melatonin. I suggest checking with your physician to see if any of these are a good fit for you.

Control Emotional and Stress-Induced Eating this Holiday Season

Date posted: November 1, 2011

Author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Hormone Weight Loss, Alicia Stanton, MD, offers tips to reduce emotional eating

Enfield, Conn. (November 1, 2011) – The holiday season is meant to be a time of joy, but for some it can be stressful. There’s so much to do and never enough time to do it, and money is tighter than ever for many people. It’s enough to stress out even the calmest personalities and trigger emotional eating. To avoid this annual trap, Alicia Stanton, MD, leading hormone health expert and author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Hormone Weight Loss, provides some tips to regain control of eating habits and manage stress during the holidays.

“Stress wreaks havoc on our cortisol and insulin levels, which is why during stressful times our bodies crave sweet and starchy foods,” said Stanton. “People who are normally restrained eaters are more likely than others to eat more during times of stress. Stress eating is a way to soothe or suppress negative emotions, but it can really derail weight loss efforts.”

Dr. Stanton offers these tips for combating stress eating:

  • Tame your stress – if stress contributes to your emotional eating, try a stress management technique like yoga, meditation, etc.
  • Check to see whether you’re really hungry – Is your hunger physical or emotional? If you ate recently and your stomach is rumbling then you’re probably not really hungry. Give the craving a little time to pass.
  • Keep a food diary – Writing down what you eat, when you eat, how much you eat and how you’re feeling when you eat, may show a pattern over time revealing your connection between mood and food.
  • Get support – You’re more likely to give in to emotional eating if you lack a good support network. Lean on family and friends or join a support group.
  • Remove temptation – Don’t keep supplies of comfort foods in your home if they’re hard to resist. And if you are feeling stressed or sad, postpone your trip to the grocery store until you’re sure that you have your emotions in check.
  • Don’t deprive yourself – Let yourself enjoy an occasional, small treat to help curb cravings.
  • Get enough sleep – If you’ve tried self-help options, but still can’t get control of emotional eating, consider therapy with a professional mental health provider.

Using the Glycemic Index to Balance Hormones

Date posted: October 4, 2011

The next Hormone Weight Loss Principle I’d like to discuss is Eat Right. More specifically, how we can use the glycemic index to balance our hormones.

The speed in which carbohydrates are converted into blood sugar is one of the determinants for whether or not a food promotes hormone balance or imbalance and whether the food increases or decreases the risk for disease. The glycemic index is a system of measuring the conversion speed of individual carbohydrate foods and the rate at which they increase your blood sugar.

The more rapidly a food is absorbed and converts to glucose, the faster and higher it raises the level of blood glucose. Foods ranking low on the GI index do the best job of keeping blood sugar level stable, but that doesn’t mean you can never eat foods with a higher GI ranking. You can lessen the impact of eating a high GI food, like pasta, by combining it with low GI foods like vegetables, protein, fat and fiber, since those all slow down the body’s absorption of the sugar from the pasta.

Here is a list of some popular foods and where they fall on the GI Index:

• Most vegetables are almost 0 GI
• Root vegetables, except potatoes, are usually low to medium GI
• Potatoes generally have high GI
• Fruits from northern and Mediterranean climates are low GI
• Fruits from tropical climates tend to be medium GI
• White and whole wheat breads are both high GI in any form
• Sourdough breads have a low GI because acidity slows down digestion
• Dense breads made with whole grains other than wheat and dough made with spelt flour have a low or medium GI
• Acidic ingredients, such as balsamic vinegar used to dip bread, will reduce the GI
• Nuts and seeds are low GI
• Brown and white rice are high GI
• Basmati rice is medium GI
• Quinoa and pearled barley are low GI
• Sweetened sodas and sugary drinks are high GI
• Beans and legumes, such as lentils and peas, are very low GI

How Toxins Make Us Gain Weight

Date posted: September 21, 2011

This week, the hormone weight loss principle I’d like to focus on is “Eliminate Toxins.” This one is important because I don’t think people realize all of the environmental toxins we come into contact with every day. In addition to contributing to weight gain, they are dangerous to our overall health.

Toxins destroy our hormone balance and often act as endocrine disruptors – substances that change the way our hormones usually work. Toxins can be found in many places in our homes and disrupt our hormones in many ways. They may increase, decrease or change the activity of a hormone by mimicking it, blocking it, changing the amount of hormone that is produced or changing the speed at which the hormone works. The hormones most often affected are estrogen, thyroid, testosterone, cortisol and insulin. But since hormones all work together, a problem with one has a domino effect on the others.

Here are a few toxins you should be aware of and how they can lead to weight gain:

  • Phthalates – Included in the ingredients found in many scented air fresheners, candles, detergents and beauty products. These toxins are known to reduce testosterone and females can see reduction in muscle mass that contributes to weight gain.
  • Bisphenol A, or BPA – Found mainly in the lining of canned goods and in plastic bottles, is known to increase estrogen as well as insulin levels. More insulin in the body leads to insulin resistance and that means your body won’t utilize your blood sugar properly.
  • Pesticides – Sprayed on crops, pesticides end in our food and drinks and therefore our bodies. Many researchers believe that pesticides in food increase risk for insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, diabetes and obesity.
  • Artificial sweeteners – These are worse than sugar because they are man-made chemicals and linked to many possible side effects including low thyroid (which can contribute to further weight gain).
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup – Causes changes in the liver by increasing the amount of glucose or sugar it absorbs, making the liver hungry for more sugar. This process accelerates insulin resistance and obesity, and it leads to resistance of the hormone leptin, which helps control the appetite.
  • Hydrogenated oils – Also called trans fats, may seem good for you since they come from soy, but aren’t! They are manufactured in laboratories into toxic foods that are not recognized by the body. They are dangerous to metabolism, increase cholesterol levels and increase risk of insulin resistance.
  • Refined sugars and carbs – These foods are quickly absorbed into the bloodstream causing a rapid increase in blood sugar and high demand for insulin. During the refining process, grains lose their fiber, vitamins and minerals, so you’re left with a food with minimum nutritionals value.

Many people with high levels of toxins in their body are obese. This is because toxins are stored in the fat cells and as you accumulate more and more toxins in your body, more storage space is needed and your body holds on to the fat cells. Keep this in mind as you’re losing weight, because as you lose fat, you may release some of these toxins, so it’s important to drink plenty of water to flush your kidneys of these toxins and continue the weight loss.

Hormone Weight Loss Principle: Enlist the Help of Others

Date posted: August 31, 2011

In my forthcoming book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Hormone Weight Loss, I outline seven principles to losing weight by putting your hormones to work for you. Here is one of those principles, Enlist the Help of Others.

Having a partner to help with your diet and fitness goals keeps you on track and leads to successful, long-term weight loss. Studies have shown that people with emotional support during the time of weight loss and after are more likely to not only lose weight, but keep it off as well, and those who go it alone are twice as likely to fail in their efforts.

A Gallup Poll conducted for USA TODAY and Discovery Health of 769 Americans, ages 18 and older, who have tried to lose weight shows:

  • 68% say their circle of friends and relatives has done more to help than hinder their efforts to slim down.
  • 88% say they’ve been complimented on their successes when they’ve been able to drop pounds.
  • 57% say it would be helpful to them to partner with a friend or relative when trying to lose weight

If you have tried and failed at losing weight, you are in good company. Up to 95 percent of dieters fail within a year and more than 70 percent of gym-goers quit in less than 90 days. Often, it seems easier to just give up or try the next fad diet again and again. This can lead to a sense of failure, increased stress levels and further hormone imbalance with weight gain. The truth is, having a partner will lead you to better weight loss success as well as improved health as compared to trying it on your own and running the risk of failing. Accountability is key to ensuring your weight loss efforts stay strong, sensible and successful. You are more likely to let yourself down than a partner, so losing weight really does take a village!

Reader Question About DHEA and Energy Levels

Date posted: August 23, 2011

A male reader recently wrote Dr. Stanton for advice on DHEA and how to help his energy levels.

Q. I’ve started taking DHEA. I used to take 7 keto DHEA and it helped me get rid of ice cold feet…so I figured it helped my thyroid. I don’t feel the energy effects of co enzyme q 10 anymore. What could be my problem? Also brisk 20 minute walks are not helping my energy anymore, do you have any suggestions that would be helpful thru your newsletters for men?

A. The 7-keto DHEA you have been taking may be helping you by supporting your adrenal glands. Your adrenal glands produce DHEA and cortisol which are part of your “fight or flight” response. I you have had stressors of any kind (emotional, physical such as an injury or surgery, food allergy, etc) it can tax your adrenal glands. This can produce fatigue, difficulty concentrating, weight gain, low libido and a number of other symptoms. Your adrenal and thyroid glands are closely connected so, by supporting your adrenals, you may have helped your thyroid which would have improved your cold feet.

The reason the CoQ10 and brisk walks may no longer be “working” is that your adrenals may need even more support. I would encourage you to continue the CoQ10 and walks. However, you may want to consider hormone testing to evaluate your adrenals (www.ZRTLab.com) and see if they need more support.

Sincerely,
Alicia Stanton, MD

What is the Connection Between Hormones and Breast Cancer?

Date posted: August 12, 2011

There is a great deal of confusion regarding the connection between hormones and breast cancer. I believe that breast cancer can be related to an imbalance between hormones such as estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. As I have said before, many things can lead to these imbalances such as stress, poor diet, lack of exercise and toxin exposure. One of the interesting experiences I have had since my breast cancer diagnosis is wondering what I “did wrong” to develop breast cancer. I have realized that it is an exercise in futility to beat yourself up over “how” you get something like this; you just move forward and optimize as many parts of your life as you can.

Another interesting thing about breast cancers is that there are different types. Breast cancers are typed by what hormone receptors they express. Some breast cancers express estrogen receptors (known as estrogen receptor positive). These are the breast cancers that are sensitive to estrogens and women with these types of cancer should reduce their estrogen exposure. Other breast cancers express receptors to the hormone progesterone and to HER2 receptors. In normal, healthy breast cells, HER2 receptors receive signals that stimulate their growth. With too many HER2 receptors, however, breast cancer cells grow and divide too quickly. Depending on the receptors expressed, the breast cancers can be classified as positive or negative for estrogen, progesterone and HER2. Treatment options are based on which receptors are positive on the breast cancer cells.

Approximately 10-20 percent of breast cancers do not express any of these receptors. They are known as triple negative breast cancers (TNBC). This is the type of breast cancer I have. It is not hormonally sensitive (so I could take hormones if I needed them). These types of breast cancers tend to occur in younger women (under the age of 40 or 50), black and Hispanic women and women with genetic mutations such as BRACA 1 and 2. Some of the main issues with triple negative breast cancers are that they are harder to treat and more aggressive. However, there are many therapies that show promise in treating TNBC and it is a very hot area of cancer research. I have an amazing team in my corner and am positive that I will overcome this challenge and be around to share information with you for decades to come.

My Planned and Unplanned Summer Adventures

Date posted:

It has been a really busy summer and I wanted to let you know about the latest adventures I have going on in my life right now. I have been planning the first one for over a year and am very excited to announce the release of my new book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Hormone Weight Loss, on September 2nd! It will be available in book stores like Barnes and Noble and it can be preordered on Amazon.
My second adventure came as a bit of a surprise. On June 1st, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. My immediate thoughts were that I live and I am able to use this experience with cancer to help myself and others. It has been a challenge for me, my husband, Rob, and my sons, Eric (age 15) and Evan (age 11) to come to terms with the changes in our lives. However, we have been overwhelmed by the amount of support we are receiving from everyone: family, friends, neighbors, and strangers. Over the next six months, I will be treated with chemotherapy, surgery, radiation and an intensive IV nutrition program. In addition, I am focusing on healing my body and learning to slow down.
As I heal over the next months, I will focus on keeping you up to date on the newest information on nutrition and hormones through my blogs and radio show, Aging Without Limits. This week, I will start a two-part show with Marge Piccini, a fantastic life coach, on transformation. What happens when things are going well in your life and you have an involuntary event that creates a major change in your otherwise wonderful life situation? My obvious change was a breast cancer diagnosis but many of us have involuntary changes such as divorce or job loss. Learn how to move through these situations to make the most of your experience. I will make sure to keep you up to date with my progress and success in overcoming this challenge.

What Took America from Fit to Fat

Date posted: July 28, 2011

The annual U.S. obesity report issued by Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Report came out this week and some of the findings are downright shocking. For instance, adult obesity rates rose in 16 U.S. states over the past year, and NOT ONE state decreased. Twelve U.S. states now have obesity rates above 30 percent, versus just one state four years ago. With a direct and indirect cost of $147 billion annually, obesity is anything but just an aesthetic issue. Obesity is a cost to our personal health and our health care system.

Dr. Joseph Mercola, a New York Times best-selling author and osteopathic physician, posted some comments to this report on his Web site , which align with many of the points I make in my books about the causes of hormone balance and weight gain. Dr. Mercola mentions that severely restricting carbohydrates (sugars, fructose, and grains) and increasing healthy fat consumption are the two keys to curb out-of-control obesity.

Dr. Mercola points out that fats, even saturated fats, provide a concentrated source of energy that is far more ideal than carbohydrates. The only really dangerous fat out there is trans fat. Saturated fat is the preferred fuel for your heart and fats slow down absorption of your meal so that you feel satiated longer.

So how is fructose causing America to be overweight? Dr. Mercola explains how it tricks your body into gaining weight by fooling your metabolism, as it turns off your body’s appetite-control system. Fructose doesn’t appropriately stimulate insulin, which in turn does not suppress ghrelin (the hunger hormone) and doesn’t stimulate leptin (the satiety hormone), which together result in eating more and developing insulin resistance. And as I have pointed out many times, insulin resistance leads to hormone imbalance and is the underlying cause of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and many cancers.

I have a feeling it will take awhile for the food industry to come around, so it is up to you to take control of your diet. The easiest way to cut back on fructose is leaving the sugar-laden processed foods on the shelf.

Eating Well but Weight Still Creeping On? Pay Attention to Portion Sizes, Snacking

Date posted: July 14, 2011

Two disturbing news items about adult obesity in America have come out this month that should encourage us to re-examine the kind and amount of food we consume each day. The first is the just-released report F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2011 from the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. According to the report, the obesity rate in America continues to rise, and 16 states saw an increase in the percentage of obese citizens within the past year alone. Every state with the sole exception of Colorado now has an obesity rate of over 20%, and twelve states – mostly in the South – have obesity rates exceeding 30%.

The costs of the obesity epidemic – to our individual health as well as our nation – are monumental. Policymakers are calling on everyone from the medical community to the food and beverage industry to help reverse this public health crisis.

How is it that we’re getting fatter and fatter despite the constant barrage of information about diet, exercise, and healthy eating habits?

One clue can be found in another study released this week from researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The study, which examined US population and diet data dating back to 1977, looked at the contributions of the energy density of foods, number of eating occasions and portion sizes over time. It was discovered that the average American today consumes about 570 more calories each day than back in 1977. Without any commensurate increase in daily activity to burn those extra calories, that could translate to up to a pound a week in weight gain!

Dr. Barry Popkin, lead author of the study, concluded that larger portions and more frequent snacking are major contributing factors to the increase in our daily caloric intake. “First, the food industry started ‘super sizing’ our portions, then snacking occasions increased and we were convinced we needed to drink constantly to be hydrated,” Dr. Popkin explains. “This study shows how this epidemic has crept up on us. The negative changes in diet, activity and obesity continue and are leading to explosions in health-care costs and are leading us to become a less healthy society.”

So even if you’re making positive changes to your diet and eating well- balanced, nutrient dense foods, the amount of food you consume and the calories you burn up each day will determine your ability to maintain a healthy weight. What can we conclude from all this? Nothing you haven’t heard before: Move more, eat less.

Relieving Hot Flashes this Summer

Date posted: June 30, 2011

Last week marked the official start of summer, as if you weren’t hot enough. If you’re experiencing hot flashes, the summer heat probably isn’t giving you any relief, but below is a list of tips that might help relieve your pesky hot flashes.

  1. Keep cool. Any slight increase in your body’s core temperature can trigger a flash. Keep your air conditioner flowing and your ceiling fan turned on to lower the room temperature. When you feel a flash come on, sip an ice cold drink. In hot weather, wear all cotton clothes to allow your skin to breathe.
  2. Avoid dietary triggers. Hot and spicy foods, caffeinated beverages and alcohol can all trigger hot flashes. If your hot flashes seem worse after consuming these foods, eliminate the offender and see if the flashes diminish.
  3. Herbal and dietary supplements such as black cohosh and Vitamin E have been shown to reduce the occurrence and severity of hot flashes and night sweats.
  4. Exercise at least 30 minutes every day. Walk, ride a bicycle, run or do some other activity, but don’t exercise within 3 hours of going to bed to help prevent night sweats.
  5. Speaking of bedtime, eliminate hot showers or baths before bed.
  6. Relax with yoga, meditation, abdominal breathing or other stress-reducing techniques.
  7. Quit smoking. Yet another reason to stop smoking: research has shown that smoking increases the occurrence of hot flashes.
  8. If your hot flashes are really severe and don’t seem to be getting better with these lifestyle and dietary adjustments, you may need more assistance. Speak to your doctor about taking natural progesterone as it has been found to provide relief for hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms.

I hope these changes provide you with some relief. Here’s to keeping cool and enjoying your summer!

Top Summer Superfoods – Get Them in Season!

Date posted: June 19, 2011

Summer is a great time to put superfoods center stage in your diet. Superfoods are designated as such because of their powerful antioxidant content and disease-fighting properties.They help boost immunity, reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer, and contribute a host of health benefits to protect and strengthen your system. Here are a few superfoods that are in season now or make especially good additions to your diet during the warmer months:

Blueberries. Blueberries are in season right now, and if you can find them, make a beeline for the tiny wild ones. These little blue powerhouses are packed with antioxidants and polyphenols, plus heaping doses of potassium and vitamin C. Wild blueberries are even more potent sources of antioxidants than their conventionally grown cousins, and are readily available in the freezer section of most health food stores and supermarkets. Toss some of these on your cereal or in your morning smoothie, eat them out of hand, or combine them with other fresh berries for snacks and desserts. When possible, opt for organic to avoid pesticide residue or be sure to rinse very thoroughly before eating.

Beans. Humble, inexpensive beans are versatile nutritional superstars. Red, kidney, pinto and black beans are tops in total antioxidant capacity, so be sure to include plenty of these beans in salads, spreads, and side dishes all summer long. Dried are best, so soak a few bags of beans in cold water overnight and then cook up a batch to use all week. Dress them up with herbs and vinaigrettes for a cold side dish, sprinkle them on tacos and salads, or whiz them in the food processor with your favorite seasonings for a tasty alternative to chick pea hummus. (Hummus, by the way, is fine, too!).

Wild Salmon. Gorgeous, deep pink or coral colored wild salmon can be found fresh in most supermarkets from June – August. Wild Salmon is superior in every way to farm raised in terms of taste and nutritional benefits. It’s an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids, which help keep your heart healthy and your skin glowing. Wild salmon also delivers healthy amounts of vitamin D and selenium, a mineral that is increasingly linked to optimal brain function and also protects your skin from the negative effects of sun exposure. Grill it, broil it, poach it – however you prefer to enjoy this delicious fish, be sure to consume lots of it!

Tea. Green or black, be sure to drink lots of freshly brewed iced tea to keep you cool and hydrated and amply supplied with antioxidants all summer long. Green tea has a slight advantage in terms of antioxidant content over black, but both pack an admirable free-radical busting punch. Be careful not to go overboard since both green and black teas contain caffeine, and make sure you choose small amounts of healthy, natural sweeteners or fruit juices if you prefer your tea on the sweet side. Adding spices such as ginger and herbs like mint give a nutritional and flavor boost to plain tea. Go ahead and experiment with your own concoction!

Sunflower Seeds. Heading to the ballpark or an air conditioned movie theater to escape the summer heat? Bring along a big bag of sunflower seeds (in the shell) for everyone to enjoy. Sunflower seeds are fun to eat and can keep your mouth occupied for a long time without delivering as many calories as the shelled variety. These little seeds are loaded with vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant, heart healthy Omega-3 fats, and bone building phosphorus and B vitamins.

Getting these foods into your diet each day isn’t hard and will help keep you in top form all summer. Happy Father’s Day to all the dads who make our lives that much more special.

Restoring a Sense of Calm and Balance

Date posted: June 11, 2011

Summertime, and the living is easy, right? Or so we’re told. But for many of us, this has been a more stressful time than usual. Tornadoes and wicked storms have been devastating many parts of the country, and watching scenes from Joplin last weekend made us all heartsick. Tornadoes ripped through the town next to mine a few days ago, wreaking havoc on homes and businesses I visit all the time. Adding fears about how to protect your home and family from situations over which you have little control to an already high stress load can take a toll on your health. And while stress reduction is a theme we address often here, I think it makes sense to offer a few more tips for restoring a sense of calm and balance:

  1. Regain your sense of control. Some of the most common stressors are triggered by a sense that we’ve lost control of something. Beating yourself up over money worries, time management issues, poor eating habits, or work challenges can become habitual and contribute to poor self worth. Empower yourself by working on one challenge at a time, and forgive yourself for letting the other things slide. For example, if poor eating is an issue, write down what you plan to eat tomorrow (three healthy meals plus two snacks). Prep-make whatever you can the night before, and keep it simple. Tick off all the healthy things you’ve consumed as you move through your day, and praise yourself each time. Not having to think about food gives you a sense of freedom and the ability to focus on other tasks, and keeping your focus on one day at a time helps you avoid feeling overwhelmed.
  2. Claim at least 15 minutes for yourself every day. Schedule time on your calendar each day to do whatever you want – go for a walk, sit in a quiet spot to meditate, or grab a magazine and curl up in your favorite chair. Make sure everyone in the family knows you are “off the clock” for at least 15 minutes and expect no interruptions. Enjoying some daily “me time” is one of the most important gifts you can give yourself, and helps you get into the habit of making sure you get to be your number one priority at least once every day.
  3. Have sex! Way too many Americans who are married or in relationships don’t make time every day to reconnect with the person they love. Complaints of being too tired or too stressed out are common excuses people make – and then suddenly months and even years roll by without their having been intimate with their partners. This, of course, is not healthy and can add tension to a relationship. But couples who make regular sex a priority enjoy a host of health benefits – with stress reduction topping the list. Check out WebMD’s rundown of the top 10 health benefits here.

Remember that stress is something all of us have to live with. Learning how to manage stress instead of letting it manage you is key. Got great tips for managing stress? Share them with us by posting a comment!

Dealing with Stress in Times of Uncertainty

Date posted: May 16, 2011

Lately a lot of events have taken place across the world that could leave anyone, even the most laid back person, a little on edge. Earthquakes, tornadoes, the war on terrorism; and if that isn’t enough, hurricane season is right around the corner. Having anxiety in times of uncertainty is understandable, but worrying about things you have no control over isn’t doing any service to you either. Below are some techniques that can help you deal with stress in times of uncertainty. These will keep you physically and mentally healthy.

Deep Breathing Technique – You can do this anywhere (traffic, a tense meeting) and you don’t need any equipment. Take a deep breath through your nose to the count of six. Make sure that your belly distends so the air goes all the way into the base of your lungs. Hold the air in for a count of six. This allows the oxygen to go through your body. Release the air through your nose for a count of six. Repeat 4 to 6 times, at least 3 times per day.

Pay close attention to what is bothering you, and then ask yourself – “Is this my business, someone else’s business or God’s business?” If it is something you truly have control over (taxes), decide what you can do to alleviate the stress and do it. If it is someone else’s business (a relative’s drug problem), let them handle it. You might ask if there is anything you can do to help. However, if it’s not yours to handle, don’t try to. Lastly, if it’s God’s business (hurricane, terrorism), realize that there is nothing you can do to control it and that worrying about it won’t improve the situation.

Preparation – You can’t control events like terrorism or natural disasters that are out of your hands, but you can prepare for them. Have a home kit of supplies in case of a disaster or emergency – water, batteries, radio, food, etc. Pick a place for your family to meet in case phones are out of service.

Know your sources of stress – One of the first things that you need to do when you begin thinking about stress management or stress reduction is to appreciate what creates stress in your life. One way to do this is to get out a piece of paper and write headings that correlate with various aspects of your life: your home life, your job, your family, your relationships, your hobbies, etc. Under each heading, write down the things that create stress for you whether it’s your boss, your commute, not feeling satisfied at work, a family issue or any number of other things. In order to start creating solutions, you have to truly understand what the problems are. As your problems and stressors become clearer, it will be easier to set goals and establish boundaries that will reduce your level of stress.

Gratitude Journal – It is impossible to feel stress and gratitude at the same time. When you stop focusing on what you don’t have and start focusing on what you do have, you will immediately feel more peaceful. That is the beginning of your attitude of gratitude. As you continue to write in your gratitude journal, the attitude of gratitude will become natural to you and you will experience less stress in your life and more freedom. There is no specific way that you have to write in your journal. You can write long descriptive paragraphs about your activities of the day and what you appreciated about them. You could make a journal that just lists the things your grateful for a year, choose a preset number or leave it open to write as much or as little as you want that day. Your main goal is to be in a state of mind that reflects gratitude as you write in your journal. The best way to be successful in keeping a journal is to create a schedule and stick to it. The more often you write in your journal, the more likely you are to continue doing so.

The Hormonal Impact on our Skin

Date posted: May 11, 2011

Did you know that our skin is an organ in our body that depends on hormones too? The skin has three layers; the dermis, epidermis and subcutis. Cells within these layers actually have receptors for the hormones estradiol, progesterone, testosterone, human growth hormone (HGH), thyroid, melatonin and Vitamin E. This is why hormone imbalance in our bodies can show up in our skin.

Estrogen provides the skin with a number of benefits including improving inflammatory skin disorders and protecting against skin photo-aging from the sun. It has the ability to protect from free radical damage similar to antioxidants like vitamins C and E. Estrogens help to build up the dermis by increasing cell division and growth of the skin. They also hydrate the dermis and epidermis which makes the skin look fuller and reduces wrinkle depth. There are variations in skin thickness consistent with the variation in our hormones during the menstrual cycle. During menopause, as estrogen levels drop, your skin becomes thinner, drier and less firm with an increase in number and depth of wrinkles.

Progesterone is considered the hormone of wisdom. It tightens connective tissue by remodeling collagen, the tissue that supports our skin structure. Progesterone also stabilizes and regenerates the epidermis which keeps skin looking younger. On the other hand, testosterone is known as the hormone of power. It tightens skin structures, stimulates the breakdown of fat and strengthens the collagen strands that support the skin. This stabilizes the connective and fat tissues within the skin which creates a firmer looking skin.

So what can you do to protect and improve your skin? Start with a well-balanced diet supplemented with a quality multi-vitamin. The B vitamins are also good for healthy skin. Quit smoking! Use skin products that contain vitamins A and C for their antioxidant effects and creams with collagen help firm the skin. Use a high quality daily sunscreen or moisturizer with an SPF of at least 30. Stress can lower your body’s estrogen, progesterone and testosterone so try to unwind a little bit. Get some sleep! And of course, hydrate your skin by drinking lots of filtered water.

Fat is Your Friend

Date posted: April 20, 2011

You’re probably thinking right now, what?! Fat is our friend – since when? This statement comes as a shock because for decades we’ve been told that fat is bad and that low fat is the way to go.

The hype around low fat diets first began in the 1960s. By the 1980s low-fat foods were widely promoted as healthy options and America jumped on the bandwagon. We started eating more processed foods and refined carbohydrates like pasta, rice cakes, cereals, bagels and other baked goods. But to appeal to taste buds, low-fat foods compensated with refined flour and sugar, which has triggered a host of health problems including obesity and diabetes.

Now we know that one of the most basic links between diet and hormones is this: consuming too much refined flour and sugar disrupts hormonal balance by increasing insulin demand. Chronically high levels of insulin contribute to insulin resistance which leads to fat storage. However, eating fat does not trigger the release of insulin. And, contrary to popular belief, eating fat does not cause you to store fat. Healthy fats are necessary for cell function, reduce inflammation, help balance hormones, reduce the risk for heart disease and diabetes, support healthy function of the brain and nervous system and protect against mood swings and depression.

You know about the healthy sources of fat like fish, nuts and olive oil, but here some other sources of fat that you’ve probably cut out, but really aren’t necessary to:

  • Avocado – yes, avocadoes are high in fat, but high in healthy, monounsaturated fat. Avocadoes have shown to reduce cholesterol.
  • Egg yolks – stop throwing away your egg yolks and stop eating just the whites. Egg yolks are the richest source of choline, which boosts brain function and reduces inflammation. Eggs also promote weight loss and protect eyesight.
  • Milk – it’s okay to have some fat in your milk. You don’t have to limit yourself to just skim milk. Studies have shown that drinking whole milk may be better for building muscle and both – skim or whole – improve cholesterol levels.
  • Red meat – red meat does have health benefits and you don’t have to cut it out entirely. Stick with leaner meats of beef and try to go for grass-fed beef when possible, but it is okay to consume red meat. And don’t forget about other red meats like venison and bison, which are naturally leaner than the cow.
  • Butter – while a healthy oil is a better alternative, I’d rather you use real, unsalted butter than margarine. Margarine has trans fat, which is much worse that the saturated fat found in butter. You can incorporate butter or other healthy oils such as organic ghee (clarified butter) into your meals.

Now I don’t want you to think all fat is good – because it isn’t. You want to focus on high-quality fats, eat saturated fat in moderation and avoid trans fat at all costs. Trans fat is man-made and the human body has absolutely no physiological need for it. So if you see “partially hydrogenated” oils or shortening listed on an ingredient label put that item back on the shelf and walk away.

Dr. Stanton’s Upcoming Speaking Appearances

Date posted: March 31, 2011

Today, Dr. Stanton is speaking at the Connecticut Women’s Conference on a panel about Women and Vitality. In the next coming months, Dr. Stanton will be travelling all over North America, and even a trip to Germany, to speak at various medical and business conferences. Here’s a sneak peek of her schedule:

April 1-2 Toronto, Ontario for PCCA (physicians and pharmacists)
April 7-9 Orlando, FL for A4M (physicians)
May 2 Las Vegas, NV for Raymond James (financial professionals)
May 7-8 Frankfurt, Germany for Receptura Pharmacy (European physicians)

A New Way to Exercise to Improve Hormone Balance

Date posted:

When it comes to exercise, it is usually recommended that we partake in 30-40 minutes of cardio alternated with strength training sessions. However, studies are showing that interval training and strength training using complex, functional movements, rather than isolated movements, provides better fitness results in better hormone profiles.

A functional movement is one that mimics the nerve and muscle patterns that we use in everyday life. One of the benefits is that they create a high neuroendocrine response, which means they are helpful in boosting the hormones that we want boosted, such as testosterone and natural human growth hormone.

Today, I’d like to pay particular attention to a form of exercising called Tabata Exercises. Named for Dr. Tabata of the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Japan, Tabata Exercises consist of intermittent training using 8 sets of 20 seconds at maximum intensity and then rest for 10 seconds between each bout. Dr. Tabata found that this high intensity intermittent training improved both anaerobic and aerobic supply systems significantly. And what is really great is that within 4 minutes you get an incredibly intense workout. I often use this method with squats, sit-ups or pushups, but you could do it with almost anything; sprinting, rowing, cycling, pull-ups, jump rope, etc.

These short bursts of exercises, followed by 10 seconds of rest allows the body to recover and doesn’t put too much strain on cortisol.

How Poor Sleep Effects Our Health, Hormones and Weight

Date posted: March 15, 2011

In this country, it is normal for us to work at least 10 hours a day, try to exercise a few hours a week and try to get by on 5-6 hours of sleep a night. We use alarm clocks, coffee, chocolate, soda, energy drinks and many other tricks to help us “push through” the fatigue and get on with our day. Does this sound like you?

What you don’t know is how exceedingly important sleep is and how not getting enough sleep can cause us to gain weight. Just one or two nights of missed or inadequate sleep are enough to make you as insulin resistant as a Type II diabetic! While adequate diet and exercise can help, your physiology will never be normal without enough sleep. At the end of the day, neglected sleep or poor sleep quality is a significant stressor to your body. It compromises your immune system, reduces your memory and makes you gain weight.

In addition to insulin, two other important hormones related to sleep and weight gain are melatonin and prolactin. Known as the “hormone of darkness,” melatonin is secreted in darkness, at night and tells the body it is time to sleep. Prolactin is critical to our immune systems and one of our first lines of cancer defense. Research shows that longer periods of sleep with increased melatonin production enhanced immunity. Long nights also produced higher levels of prolactin. If we get less sleep at night, more prolactin is produced during the day. And if prolactin is secreted during the day, it leads to autoimmunity and carbohydrate craving.

If you put together the imbalance between insulin, cortisol, prolactin and melatonin, you have a recipe for disaster. The biggest problem with short night sleep is that insulin will stay higher in the dark when it should be flat and cortisol falls so late it will come up normally in the morning. This is the reversal of your normal hormone rhythms. You’re supposed to wake up with high cortisol in the morning to deal with the stress of the day and a low insulin so you’re hungry. However, with reversed hormone rhythms it is easy to skip breakfast because your insulin is high and you’re not hungry. The reversal also causes melatonin and prolactin to be too high in the morning and throughout the daylight hours making it difficult to concentrate. By 3:00 in the afternoon you crave carbohydrates, get inpatient and have even more trouble concentrating.

Now do you see why getting enough sleep is so important? It’s more than just resting. It recharges your body, controls appetite, supports the immune system, balances hormones and improves concentration.

The Many Ways Thyroid Effects Our Health

Date posted: February 26, 2011

Many people don’t realize the far reaching effects that your thyroid can have on your general health. Most of us know that your thyroid is connected to your metabolism, your energy level and your ability to gain or lose weight. But, did you know that there are many other effects of suboptimal thyroid function? In addition, the prevalence of thyroid dysfunction in United States is widespread; as many as one in seven Americans have thyroid glands the don’t work as well as they should.

Thyroid function is also very important for heart health. We have two major thyroid hormones in our body, T4 and T3. The thyroid gland normally secretes about 90 percent T4, which has some activity. However, our body usually converts T4 to T3, which has five times more activity! This conversion is dependent on some nutrients like selenium and doesn’t happen as readily if you have a lot of stress. Therefore, many of us don’t convert our T4 hormone to the more active T3. Also, this inability to convert T4 to T3 may not show up with routine testing for thyroid function such as TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone).

Not only does this affect your metabolism, it can affect your heart.

Decreased T3 production will raise your low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or bad cholesterol, due to decreased metabolism of fats. Decreased T3 also reduces the availability of your essential fatty acids, EPA and DHEA, which reduce inflammation and help to protect your heart. You can also obtain essential fatty acids by eating cold water fish such as mackerel and salmon and supplementing with a good-quality fish oil. But, it’s important to make sure your thyroid is functioning well so you have as much of the heart healthy EPA and DHA available as you can. Because inadequate T3 lowers your metabolism, it reduces the rate at which you burn oxygen. That can contribute to free radical damage to your heart.

If you have any symptoms of low thyroid such as weight gain, fatigue, hair loss, constipation, dry hair and skin or difficulty concentrating, call your physician and ask for thyroid testing that includes TSH, free T3, free T4, reverse T3 and thyroid antibody testing.

Feel the Love this Valentine’s Day; Increase Libido and Desire

Date posted: February 11, 2011

With Valentine’s Day just a few days away, I thought I would focus this week’s article on libido issues and how you can increase libido and desire for a more fulfilling love life with your Valentine. Testosterone is considered the “life force hormone” as it supports sex drive and sexual function.

The most significant testosterone robber is a large waist, which leads to low sex drive, erectile dysfunction, depressed mood, sleep disturbances, lethargy and diminished physical performance. Weight gain also accelerates decline in testosterone levels.

For many men, erectile dysfunction can be resolved with weight loss, instead of medications. So, put away the Viagra and start the following regimen to improve your libido.

  • Manage stress – excessive demand for cortisol limits testosterone production and over time, leads to increased belly fat, further reducing testosterone levels.
  • Proper diet – too much sugary and starchy foods will spike blood sugar, which is a form of physical stress triggering excess production of cortisol and then we’ll end up with the scenario mentioned above.
  • Physical activity – even just daily walks will help get your testosterone levels up and maintain other hormones at healthy levels.
  • Sleep – getting enough sleep is a prerequisite for maintaining optimum testosterone production.
  • Saw Palmetto – Native Americans used berries of the saw palmetto to boost libido and today it is available as a dietary supplement for prostate health.

Of course, a healthy lifestyle also has more significant benefits to your overall health since low testosterone is associated with heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and prostate cancer. But if increasing libido is what gets you on the path to health, I’ll take it.

Five Supplements Good for Heart Health

Date posted: February 6, 2011

Here is my list of five supplements that make good additions to a heart healthy regimen. Combine these with a proper diet and exercise:

  1. B complex – this is very important in many of the reactions that produce energy in your body (including your heart). B vitamins have also been shown to reduce homocysteine, and high homocysteine is correlated with an increase in heart disease.
  2. Omega 3 – slows the build up of plaque in the arteries. Recommended if you have high triglycerides or family history of heart disease. Good sources are oily fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel.
  3. Vitamin D – a deficiency in Vitamin D is associated with increased cardiovascular risk. If you don’t get much sun take a daily supplement. Dairy products and oily fish are also good sources.
  4. Coenzyme Q 10, CoQ10 – increases heart contractility, the performance of cardiac muscles. Recommended especially if you have hypercholesterolemia or on statin drugs because statin drugs reduce the body’s production of CoQ10.
  5. Garlic – this is known to decrease triglycerides and reduce total cholesterol. You can take it in a supplement form or add it to your food.

How Low Testosterone can affect the Heart

Date posted: February 3, 2011

There are a lot of factors to take into consideration when keeping your heart healthy – diet, exercise, family history. New research suggests you might also want to keep an eye on your testosterone levels.

Over the last decade, a large body of literature has emerged suggesting that a link exists between androgen deficiency and cardiovascular disease. It has been concluded that testosterone levels are consistently lower in men with cardiovascular disease.

A number of other studies have suggested that reduced testosterone levels are also associated with increased total cholesterol and increased low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL). Testosterone replacement therapy for androgen deficiency reduced total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. Lower testosterone levels in aging are also associated with elevated triglycerides and increased risk for insulin resistance and diabetes.

So what are some ways you can elevate your testosterone levels?

  • Lose the belly fat. Excess weight around the midsection leads to more estrogen, less testosterone.
  • Lift weights. Training your muscles by lifting weights has shown to increase testosterone and your natural production of growth hormone.
  • Make nuts your snack of choice. Monounsaturated fats help raise testosterone. Good sources are nuts, organic peanut butter, canola oil and olive oil.
  • Don’t overtrain. Yes, lifting weights is good for raising testosterone, but you also must give your body adequate time to recuperate. Get eight hours of sleep and never train the same muscles two days in a row.
  • Don’t binge drink. Alcohol can cause a reduction in your testosterone production and the higher levels that occur with binge drinking make it worse.

Also, keep a good eye on your testosterone levels by having your physician test them periodically. If your levels are too low and you have symptoms of low testosterone, you may want to speak with your physician about prescribing bioidentical testosterone to fit your needs.

The Toxin-Weight Loss Connection

Date posted: January 13, 2011

Environmental toxins in our food and everyday household and beauty products not only impact our health and hormones, but they can also impact our ability to lose weight. We’ve already discussed how some toxins can mimic our hormones, which prevents our bodies from using our hormones as well as make hormones, but what you might not know is that all this exposure to toxins confuses our metabolisms.

Additives and processed foods with refined sugars and high fructose corn syrup strain our livers and interrupt our detoxifying systems. These additives as well as hydrogenated fats, preservatives and artificial sweeteners do not contain any nutrients; therefore they add empty calories and create a hormone imbalance. Pesticides in our food are stored in our fat tissue, which poisons our metabolism and prevents weight loss. On top of it all, processed foods increase inflammation in our bodies, which increases demand for cortisol and creates a hormone imbalance with progesterone, estrogen, testosterone, DHEA, insulin and thyroid.

Toxins found in products we use everyday like Bisphenal A, parabens, phthalates are endocrine disruptors and can impact weight loss in a number of different ways. BPA acts like estrogen and contributes to weight loss. Phthalates work against testosterone and are connected to obesity and insulin resistance. If you’re insulin resistant your body stops using sugar as energy and stores it as fat.

By switching to a whole food diet, filtering water, avoiding processed foods and using products that are organic and/or fragrance free, you can reverse the effects these toxins cause. Your liver and thyroid will function normally, which will restore hormone balance, increase your metabolism, burn more fat and your liver will be clear to release toxins from fat cells so further weight loss is possible.

New Year, New You

Date posted: January 7, 2011

The New Year is upon us, but instead of setting drastic resolutions for yourself, how about making small changes to your diet that will help balance your hormones and improve your overall health? First of all, don’t set a number for the amount of weight you want to lose. Instead make a resolution to eat healthier and measure your success by the way you feel. Do you have more energy? Are your hot flashes getting better? Are you more focused at work? Are you sleeping better at night? Has your libido increased?

Here are some general guidelines to help get you on track this new year so you can feel like a whole new you:

  • Drink water! – Water is very important for our bodies to detoxify all the toxins that are stored in our fat. Drinking a glass of water prior to a meal can also help you eat less.
  • Plan your meals in advance, even snacks – If you know what you’re going to eat when you’re hungry the less likely you’ll stand in front of the fridge or pantry trying to find something. This is when “less than optimal” foods may enter your mouths.
  • Record what you eat – This helps you lose weight by showing food patterns, monitoring areas of improvement and tracking progress.
  • Eat breakfast – Breakfast is important because your body needs to restore the fuel it lost during the night. If you don’t eat breakfast your body won’t have fuel to work with and your body sees that as a stressor and your cortisol levels will rise.
  • Eat every 3 hours – Small, more frequent meals provide a consistent input of fuel, which won’t trigger an increase in cortisol demand and reduce your metabolism due to lower thyroid hormone.
  • Don’t drink your calories – Sodas (even diet), fruit juices, sports drinks, sweet tea, and specialty coffee drinks should be replaced with water, seltzer water, green tea, herbal tea and decaf coffee. The sweeteners and caffeine contribute to insulin resistance and cortisol imbalance. If you can’t function without your morning coffee, start with one cup of caffeinated and then switch to decaf.
  • Eat healthy foods 80-90 percent of the time – If you’re eating whole, nutritious foods 80-90 percent of the time, you can indulge in a little something special during the other time. If you’re too rigid, you’ll get frustrated and give up, which is why many diets fail.

Healthy Holiday Eating

Date posted: December 18, 2010

Between the holiday parties, family gatherings and holiday baking it is easy to overeat this time of the year. But I have some tips that you might find helpful to keep you from eating too much of the wrong stuff.

Before heading to a party, have a healthy snack at home. A little bit of turkey or some nuts will provide protein and stabilize your blood sugar. If you’re not starving going into a party, you’ll make better choices when it comes to food and you won’t overeat. Go ahead and treat yourself a bit, but watch the portion sizes and try to avoid foods that are fried or made with a lot of cream and/or cheese. Also, don’t hang out around the buffet table because that might cause you to continue snacking.

I’ve said it before, but limit your alcohol consumption. Opt for a glass of red wine or mulled cider instead of eggnog, Kahlua or beer. Avoid sugary beverages that are just empty calories and will elevate blood sugar levels and expand the waistline. Alternate alcoholic drinks with a glass of club soda or sparkling water with lime.

Host a healthy meal swap with friends. If you and some friends share the “we’re all in this together” attitude, the more likely you’ll stay on track and avoid holiday weight gain. Another good idea is to plan a post-party brick workout with friends to combat against all those calories consumed at holiday parties.

With a little planning and an after-party activity plan, you can avoid going overboard this holiday season and maybe even lose weight instead of gaining those holiday pounds.

Keeping Your Home Toxic-Free During the Holidays

Date posted: December 8, 2010

We come into contact with environmental toxins in our everyday lives, but the holiday season can bring additional toxins that can further wreak havoc on our hormones. Many of these toxins can mimic other hormones like estrogen and thyroid which lead to an imbalance with other hormones. Some toxins can accumulate in tissues of glands, which inhibits our hormone production.

Toxins can be found in some holiday decorations and products. Synthetic scents from holiday air fresheners and scented candles contain phthalates and parabens that can disrupt hormones. Instead, light candles made from soy or beeswax. They burn clean and don’t emit dangerous chemicals. Excess Christmas tree trim and cinnamon sticks also work well to make your house smell like the holidays.

Fake trees – especially older ones – decorations and gift wrap can contain lead. Instead of using artificial decorations, create centerpieces and holiday accents by placing poinsettias around your house and filling baskets and vases with natural ingredients like pinecones, whole walnuts and chestnuts, artichokes, cranberries, cinnamon sticks, organic pumpkins, squash and apples. If you prefer a fake tree, try to use a newer one as they generally contain lower levels of lead and make sure to wash your hands well after assembling and decorating.

I hope these tips have helped so you can protect your home and your health this holiday season with decorations that are both beautiful and healthful.

Stress Less this Holiday Season

Date posted:

Many people find this time of year to be stressful, when in fact it should be a joyous time. It is true, there is a lot going on and a lot of money can be spent, which can lead to more stress, elevated levels of cortisol and eventually weight gain and other symptoms of hormone imbalance. However, with a little planning and stress management techniques, this can be the most wonderful time of the year for you and your family.

To keep spending within your budget and not consuming all your time, make a list and start early. Make a list of everyone you’re buying for and what you’re buying them, and then stick to that list. Start your shopping early, so you’re not running around until the last minute. Just like any other time, find time for yourself to do the things you enjoy, whether that it is getting a manicure, having quiet time to read a book, playing a round of golf, going for a walk or to yoga class, etc.

In order to not put additional stress on your cortisol levels, keep up with your diet of eating every couple of hours and including lean proteins, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats. I know it’s hard to avoid all of the yummy treats that seem to find you during this time. Just try to limit yourself. A good rule of thumb is to eat some healthy snacks prior to going to a party in order to keep from going overboard. Also try not to drink too much alcohol. Especially avoid the overly sweet or rich drinks and alternate with sparkling water or club soda between alcoholic beverages.

 

Healthy Thanksgiving Alternatives

Date posted: November 17, 2010

Keeping with the theme of healthy holidays, today I’d like to focus on Thanksgiving. I am sharing some delicious recipes to include with your Thanksgiving feast next week that are sure to keep your hormones happy and your weight on track. These sides are the perfect complement to your turkey.

Roasting is a very healthy and delicious way to cook vegetables. It enhances the flavors of the vegetables without losing any of the nutrients. Drizzle the vegetables with heart-healthy olive oil, season with a little Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper. You could also use some fresh or dried herbs, a squeeze of lemon, etc. 400 degrees is the optimal roasting temperature for vegetables – cooking time depends on the vegetable and how it is cut, but plan to turn once midway. Good choices for this cooking method include asparagus, carrots, brussel sprouts, parsnips and squash.

Many people may think it isn’t Thanksgiving without mashed potatoes, but a creamy cauliflower puree may be a better option for you. Make this in addition to mashed potatoes, but leave the potatoes for your kids and you opt for this alternative instead. Sweet potatoes are also a Thanksgiving staple and on their own sweet potatoes are very healthy with a low GI, but when loaded with brown sugar, tons of butter and little marshmallows, they’re not so healthy anymore. Instead use skim milk, a little unsalted butter and cinnamon. Cinnamon has been shown to lower cholesterol and stabilize blood sugar, so it is a better choice than brown sugar. Looking for a green bean alternative to the traditional casserole? Try sautéing green beans with caramelized onions, garlic and sliced almonds.

When you’re sitting down for Thanksgiving dinner next week, a good rule of thumb is to fill your plate with mostly veggies and some turkey. Pass on the starchy casseroles and avoid going back for seconds. And gather everyone for a post-dinner walk around the neighborhood or friendly game of touch football instead of sinking into the couch in a food coma.

The Brain-Hormone Connection

Date posted: October 27, 2010

I’ll be participating in a free teleseminar series on hormone health called “Turning Back the Clock: Rejuvenate Your Hormones, Your Health and Your Life – Naturally,” presented by Pomegranate Health and WomenWise International.

The series will take place from October 26-December 7 and feature seven of the natural health world’s leading experts on hormone health. My appearance will take place November 2 and will focus on keeping your mind sharp as a tack.

Here’s more details on my topic: The Brain Hormone Connection – How To Feel Well, Have Fun And Remember What You’re Doing!!

Most people think about menopausal symptoms when they think about hormones. However, hormone balance is very important to the overall health of your brain. Hormones such as estrogen, testosterone, cortisol and thyroid all profoundly affect how you think, feel and remember. Attendees will find out how to keep these hormones in balance to optimize your mood, memory and concentration while minimizing your risk for brain health problems like Alzheimer’s. You’ll discover the best nutrients and lifestyle tactics for your mental health.

Improving Thyroid Function

Date posted: October 18, 2010

The key function of the thyroid is to help metabolism. T4 is the major hormone produced by the thyroid, which also converts to T3. T3 is five times more active than T4, so it helps regulate metabolism better. However, this conversion can get tricky because selenium is required and if there isn’t enough selenium it won’t covert and you’re left with the less active T4.

The presence of too much cortisol from stress can also stop the conversion. It’s important to remember that you can have adequate amounts of T4 but still experience some thyroid imbalance symptoms due to the lack of more active T3. Those symptoms include fatigue, weight gain, puffiness around the eyes and face, foggy thinking, dry hair and skin, etc. Low thyroid can also cause increased cholesterol and LDLs because you’re not metabolizing fats as well. Heart issues, particularly a higher risk of heart disease, can also occur.

So how can you improve thyroid function? There are several ways. First, there are several nutrients that can help: selenium, zinc, the B vitamins, vitamin A and vitamin C. Reduce stress levels so there is no conversion issue. Avoid toxin exposure to mercury, lead, BPA and phthalates by eating more organic and not drinking out of plastic water bottles and aluminum cans. Fish oil and vitamin D are good because they are anti-inflammatory and the herb ashwagandha stabilizes the adrenals, helps metabolism and lowers cortisol.

Postmenopausal Women at Risk for Cataracts?

Date posted: September 1, 2010

NHIOnDemand, a health and wellness trade site, recently posted an article citing a study published in the journal Ophthalmology claiming that postmenopausal woman are at risk for cataracts after HRT – Hormone Replacement Therapy. The study said it determined the risk of cataract removal was increased by 14 percent in women who had ever used HRT and by 18 percent in current HRT users, compared with women who never used HRT. Current HRT users who reported having more than one alcoholic drink per day had a 42 percent increased risk compared with women who used neither HRT nor alcohol.

This certainly sounds alarming, but when you dig deeper there are two important points to note about the women who experienced a higher incidence of cataracts following HRT therapy.

The first point is that the women in the study were taking synthetic hormones, such as progestin, and not bioidentical hormones. My book, Hormone Harmony, discusses the difference between synthetic and bioidentical hormones at length, and specifically addresses some of the dangers associated with progestin.

The second point relates to alcohol consumption. Daily alcohol consumption has long been recognized as a contributing factor in a woman’s increased risk of developing cataracts. The correlation between alcohol and HRT in this report does not result in a smoking gun in my opinion, since the alcohol is a major cataract contributor on its own. However, women of all ages who wish to maintain optimal health should limit alcohol consumption to no more than 2 – 3 drinks per week.

Top 10 Signs You Might Be Menopausal

Date posted: August 30, 2010

September is National Menopause Awareness Month, so my blog posts this month will provide tips for navigating menopause and how to make this transition an easier one. But, first how do you know if what you’re going through is menopause? Here are 10 signs that you might be going through menopause:

1. Weight Gain
2. Irritable
3. Mood Swings
4. Fatigue
5. Trouble Sleeping
6. Loss of Sex Drive
7. Vaginal Dryness
8. Hot Flashes and/or Night Sweats
9. Foggy Memory
10. Depression

Check back often for some tips and remedies addressing these symptoms so you can enjoy a better quality of life and put an end to the suffering.

5 Ways to Sleep Better

Date posted: August 12, 2010

Getting enough restful sleep each night is required to maintain optimum testosterone production, preventing cortisol levels from rising too high and supporting efficient burning of food as fuel. Plus our bodies need the rest to support its functioning and adequate sleep is needed so our minds can work at their best.

Here are some tips for getting not only more sleep each night, but better sleep each night.

  1. Try to be in bed by 10 p.m.
  2. Unplug from the digital world – limit use of computers and television shortly before bed as they increase stress levels
  3. Get right nutritionally – limit sugars, white flour and caffeine, incorporate more lean proteins and complex carbohydrates into your diet
  4. Decrease sources of stress – personal relationships, at work, other situations
  5. Exercise in the morning so you have energy for the day, but by nighttime your body and mind are tired, so you can sleep better. Exercise also helps reduce stress, but be careful not to overdo it as pushing your body too hard can lead to adrenal fatigue.

The role of thyroid hormone

Date posted: August 10, 2010

Thyroid hormone is important for our metabolism and energy levels. If you have a deficiency in thyroid you may experience fatigue, foggy thinking and weight gain. Some estimates say one in seven adults have a thyroid deficiency, yet they are often missed. Treatment for low thyroid involves nutrition, including adequate selenium, vitamin A and iodine, and hormone therapy if needed.

You also need to make sure the adrenal glands are functioning properly; otherwise treating the thyroid without addressing an adrenal problem will make you feel worse. Adrenal fatigue results from a long period of stress, which depletes the adrenals of normal cortisol production. Treatment for adrenal fatigue includes getting enough sleep, getting back on track nutritionally, decreasing sources of stress, and for extreme cases, bioidentical cortisol in the short term.

Increasing Brain Power

Date posted: August 4, 2010

A lot of my patients come to me with symptoms like foggy thinking, brain fog, memory lapses and trouble concentrating. They feel like they’re losing their minds and don’t know who they are anymore. So here are some tips to help increase brain power and overall function of the brain.

Among other things, the brain requires glucose to function, so it is important to keep glucose levels stable. If we experience spikes and crashes in glucose, cortisol will step in to convert stored protein into glucose to make sure our brains don’t experience starvation and can continue to function properly. However, overproduction of cortisol can lead to imbalances among other hormones like progesterone. So it is best to keep glucose stable by avoiding too many starchy or sugary foods and eating small meals high in protein every 2-3 hours.

Another way to support healthy function of the brain is to consume healthy fats like DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid found in fish oil. Overall fitness keeps the brain in good shape as well and reduces risk for Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia.

l-carnitine, a nutrient used to sustain energy production and found chiefly in red meat, has also been found to improve brain function. Just remember to stick with a lean red meat, and if you can, go for grass-fed beef as it has less saturated fat.

Hormone Harmony Habits Checklist

Date posted: August 2, 2010

You can take back control of your hormones and restore harmony with these habits.

  1. Give yourself a recess at least once a day.
  2. Drink filtered water and green or other herbal teas instead of soda.
  3. Stay away from sugary and/or starchy foods, especially in the mornings and after dinner.
  4. Eat small meals frequently, with ample vegetables, lean protein, whole grains and legumes, and some raw nuts and fresh fruit.
  5. Choose organic versions of your staple foods and beverages, and others as much as possible.
  6. Keep your home well ventilated and avoid air fresheners with “fragrance.”
  7. Avoid synthetic fragrance and antibacterial ingredients in soaps, beauty, grooming, laundry and household cleaning products.
  8. Engage in enough physical activity, of the right type, for your body.
  9. Take a good quality multivitamin, CoQ10 and fish oil.
  10. If necessary, take additional supplements for specific situations.

Top Foods and Traps to Avoid

Date posted: July 29, 2010

To continue from yesterday’s post on the Hormone Harmony diet plan, here are some top DOs and DON’Ts when it comes to your nutritional choices.

Top foods to incorporate into your diet to balance hormones, include:

  • fish for healthy omega-3 fats,
  • flax also for omega-3 fats,
  • nuts for healthy fats and fiber,
  • lean protein to benefit blood sugar and reverse or prevent insulin resistance,
  • vegetables – variety rules,
  • moderate amounts of fruit –particularly apples and berries for their high fiber and less impact on blood sugar,
  • legumes and whole grains for fiber that slows down digestion and stabilizes blood sugar levels,
  • extra-virgin olive oil and vinegars.

Food Traps to Avoid:

  • Consume saturated fats from dairy and meat in moderation
  • Avoid trans fats completely, the human body has no physiological need for it and it’s deadly
  • Watch for hidden trans fat – partially hydrogenated oil or shortening
  • High fructose corn syrup, which is found in almost any type of processed food – sodas, breads, ketchup, sauces, soups, cookies, pastries and almost any type of packaged food
  • Liquid sugar and zero-calorie sweeteners

The Hormone Harmony Diet Plan

Date posted: July 28, 2010

The connection between our diet and hormones is significant, yet widely ignored, even though our hormones directly impact our health. The most basic link between diet and hormones is this: consuming too much refined flour and sugar disrupts hormonal balance. It is imperative to keep blood sugar stable in order to balance hormones. How do we do this? By eating every few hours, managing carbohydrates, consuming helpful fats and avoiding harmful ones, sticking with high-quality foods and avoiding too much processed foods.

Eat small meals every 2-3 hours that consist of a lean protein – chicken, turkey, fish, nuts – and a complex carbohydrate – a vegetable or high-fiber fruit. Consume carbohydrates that rate low on the glycemic index such as vegetables, nuts and seeds, milk and plain yogurt, barley and quinoa, beans and legumes, sourdough bread and fruits from Northern and Mediterranean climates.

When you eat small portions of low-GI foods every three hours or so, it is more effective in keeping blood sugar stable. When your body isn’t in starvation mode, you can make more rational and healthy food choices and keep portions small, rather than overeating on bad choices. Small, frequent meals or snacks of low-GI foods provide a steady stream of energy, reduce stress and result in fuel going to muscles rather than fat, leading to a leaner body.

When you start to eat more nutritious foods, you’ll see food doing what it should do to restore and maintain harmony among hormones:

  • Keep blood-sugar levels stable
  • Decrease inflammation
  • Provide sustained energy
  • Help reduce body fat
  • Help maintain a healthy weight
  • Contribute to overall health and well-being
  • Reduce risk for chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer and osteoporosis
  • Keep taste buds happy

Answer to a Reader’s Question about Keeping Estrogen Levels Low and the Importance of Vitamin D

Date posted: July 26, 2010

I recently received a question from a woman in Wisconsin and I thought my response would be helpful to other women out there. This particular individual is a breast cancer survivor and estrogen receptor positive, so she was seeking ways to lower her estrogen levels.

There are a few different ways that you can naturally lower your estrogen levels. First of all, make sure you’re getting at least 25 grams of fiber per day in your diet because extra fiber helps you excrete (remove) excess estrogen through your intestines.

Secondly, the more fat you have (especially belly fat), the more estrogen you make. Therefore, it’s important to eat a diet that limits refined carbohydrates and saturated fats so your weight can stay at an optimal level. Exercise also helps you build lean muscle mass and will reduce the amount of fat you have.

Lastly, it is important to support your liver so your body is better able to metabolize (break down) your estrogen. You can do that with an herb called milk thistle and a supplement called indole-3-carbinol. Limiting your alcohol intake will also support your liver by allowing it to focus on metabolizing other things like estrogen.

Additionally, I shared with this reader the importance of vitamin D as she continues to stay in remission from her cancer. Studies show that low vitamin D is associated with a higher risk of many cancers including breast cancer. I recommend having your physician test your vitamin D levels regularly and make sure your level is between 60 and 100, and this goes for all women, not just cancer survivors. I also suggest taking a pharmaceutical grade vitamin. You should be on at least 2000IU per day and could go as high as 10,000IU per day if your levels remain low.

I hope you find this information helpful.

Our sex hormones at play

Date posted: July 20, 2010

Our sex hormones – estrogen, progesterone and testosterone – work together to build us up, giving us our strength and resilience, however, as we age, these key hormones start to decline. Other factors besides our natural aging cycle can also cause a decrease in levels. Those factors pertain to our lifestyles, such as, eating the wrong foods, living in a state of chronic stress, being overweight, getting too little exercise and being exposed to too many environmental toxins.

Sex hormones play many important roles in our bodies. Estrogen performs more than 400 functions in the female body, such as maintaining memory, mood and muscles, maintaining bone and protecting against osteoporosis and protecting against heart disease. Progesterone has a calming effect and enhances mood, balances blood sugar and thyroid function and rebuilds bone. Testosterone builds muscle, increases energy and libido, enhances sense of well-being and strengthens bone.

This situation of declining sex hormones can be addressed with bioidentical hormones, but in order to sustain long-term health and well-being, certain lifestyle requirements must be followed. Changes in the way we live can be difficult at first, but once it becomes routine, it becomes the new way of living and can be done naturally, without much thought.

Proper nutrition and getting essential nutrients is key. Then comes stress management. We can’t live in a constant state of stress. It is important to stop and evaluate what the major stressors are in life and address ways to control and respond to this stress, not react to it. Taking part in physical activity also helps build up our hormones by eliminating excess weight, which is one of the biggest robbers of testosterone.

Adopting a way of life that fosters optimum functioning of our hormones will lead to a healthier, happier and longer life.

Mood Boosting Foods

Date posted: July 15, 2010

High-quality fats, such as those found in fish, nuts and flax seed, hold many health benefits and support many functions of the body; from reducing inflammation to reducing the risk for heart disease and diabetes to supporting function of the brain and nervous system.

These healthy fats are also known to protect against mood swings and depression. Here is a list of some of the top mood-boosting foods and how you can incorporate them into your diet:

Fish – coldwater fish especially is the richest source of omega-3 fats to help improve mood. Think wild salmon, sardines and tuna. See a recipe for a healthy salmon salad below; great to pack for lunch.

Flax – the oil in flaxseed is the richest plant source of omega-3 fats, and the seeds are a great source of fiber. Add toasted flax seeds to salads, soups and sandwiches, and ground seeds are great in smoothies. Flaxseed oil can also be found and used for salad dressings or in smoothies.

Olive oil – although not a source of omega-3 fats, olive oil contains other healthy fats beneficial to stabilizing blood sugar and mood swings. Extra-virgin olive oil is a good substitute for butter on bread and vegetables and makes a great salad dressing.

Healthified Salmon Salad
2-cans canned salmon, drained or packaged salmon
1 cup Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed well if using canned
1 Tbsp. Capers
1 cup Artichoke hearts, roughly chopped or quartered (can buy jarred or frozen)
¼ cup Kalamata olives, roughly chopped
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp. red wine vinegar
Season with fresh ground black pepper and Kosher salt

In a bowl, mix all of the ingredients together.

This recipe doesn’t have to follow exact measurements. You can eyeball the ingredients according to your likes and dislikes. I like to scoop the salmon salad into a hollowed out tomato or on top of a bed of mixed greens.

This recipe is a healthier and delicious alternative to a mayonnaise-based salad. Benefits this recipe provides include: healthy fat from the olive oil; Omega-3 fat and protein from the salmon; fiber from the beans; and the vinegar and oil helps curb spikes in blood-sugar levels.

Exercise to Improve Your Mood

Date posted: July 14, 2010

If you’re not a fan of exercise, getting started can seem like a huge obstacle. However, to achieve hormone harmony, exercise is vital. It is also a big help to improve your mood and overcome some of those other annoying symptoms you may be experiencing.

Physical activity plays a key role in reversing insulin resistance, the main trigger in creating a hormone imbalance. Cells tend to shut down when hit with an overdose of blood sugar from too many sugary and starchy foods. Exercise helps the body build new muscle cells and wakes up older ones and opens their doors for more fuel. To reap the full benefits, you need a combination of strength training for your muscles and aerobic exercise for your heart.

More on the physical pros of exercise in a later post, for this one I want to focus on how physical activity can boost your energy and mood. If you’re a woman, or a man, approaching midlife or experiencing a hormonal imbalance, some of the main symptoms you might be experiencing are depression and mood swings. You might also feel like you have lost your “edge” or don’t have as much zest for life. Sound familiar?

Exercise triggers the production of endorphins, feel good chemicals. And, research shows that it both prevents and alleviates depression at any age and also stabilizes mood swings. Aerobic exercise also helps our bodies to take in and use oxygen, which generates more energy for us. And let’s face it, when we start to lose weight and feel better, our self confidence improves, along with our mood.

What’s Next for Hormone Harmony

Date posted: June 22, 2010

Dr. Alicia Stanton discusses what’s next for Hormone Harmony at Book Expo America in New York City.

Your Hormone Health: A to Z

Date posted: June 14, 2010

In today’s society, we place so many demands on our bodies that the natural functioning of our hormones is being disrupted, causing a wide range of symptoms such as lack of energy, loss of zest for life, weight gain, mood swings, hot flashes, loss of sex drive, sleep disturbances, fuzzy thinking, forgetfulness and many more. We are living longer lives and with that come more responsibilities. Women are multitasking as caregivers while carrying on challenging careers. To say our lives are stressful would be an enormous understatement. Our lifestyles can place additional stress on our bodies, with inadequate nutrients in our food, too many unhealthy calories, lack of physical activity and toxins in the environment. It is no wonder our hormones are out of balance.

Many people don’t realize the impact our hormones can have on our overall health. Our hormones are designed to work together to do different jobs. Hormones deliver messages from one part of the body to another, from the cells to the brain, from the brain to the glands and from the glands to the cells. So when one hormone malfunctions, it sets off a chain reaction that interferes with the functions of the others, bringing about hormonal havoc. Harmony is restored by getting all the right parts back in balance.

Believe it or not, just by making changes in the way we live, we can remove the triggers of imbalance – eating the wrong foods, being overweight, chronic stress, exposure to too many toxics, getting too little or too much exercise and lacking the optimum amounts of essential nutrients – and we can regain hormonal balance to achieve optimal health.