Alicia Stanton, MD Blog Posts


Press Releases

Date posted: March 13, 2012

March 13, 2012 – Award-Winning Hormone Harmony Now Available as an eBook

 

Date posted: September 6, 2011

September 6, 2011 – Leading Health Expert’s New Book Reveals How to Put Hormones to Work for Weight Loss Success

Date posted: November 2, 2010

November 1, 2010 – Hormone Harmony a Finalist in Best Books 2010 Awards

Date posted: June 3, 2010

May 20, 2010 – Hormone Harmony a Finalist in Indie Excellence Awards

Date posted:

May 17, 2010 – Hormone Harmony a Finalist in Indie Book Awards

Date posted:

May 5, 2010 – Beware the Dirty Dozen

Ask Alicia | Q&A with Dr. Alicia Stanton

Researching the benefits of hormone treatment? Starting a hormone treatment plan? Learn more about the dramatic benefits of hormone treatment with questions from patients of Dr. Stanton and answers from Dr. Stanton herself.

Questions

What’s happening to my body when I’m stressed? How can I feel less stressed?

What kind of things can cause a hormone imbalance, and how can I fix it?

What are toxins, and what are they doing to my hormones? How can I reduce the amount of toxins in my body?

I want to start eating more fresh food. What’s the best way to start?

How can hormones help with anti-aging and memory loss?

With all the extra-rich foods around the holidays, how can I maintain my weight?

 




What’s happening to my body when I’m stressed? How can I feel less stressed?

The body produces extra cortisol when experiencing stress. If stress (and producing extra cortisol) becomes an ongoing situation, hormonal imbalance is likely to result. In addition, adrenal fatigue is likely to occur when the cortisol-producing adrenal gland becomes overworked. Low energy levels, especially in the morning, are a result of the adrenal gland becoming unable to produce cortisol. Other symptoms may include weight gain or loss, respiratory problems or a predisposition to other illnesses. The metabolism-driving thyroid gland also becomes impaired when the adrenal gland is not functioning properly.

Stress management is a necessity to reach hormonal balance and overall health. In chapter six of Hormone Harmony, we discuss some helpful ways to create stress relief and reduce the number of opportunities for stressful situations. Here are some examples:

  1. Use the wet towel approach. When something irritates you, try to react in a rational, calm manner. Think before you act. This may avoid an explosive situation.
  2. Set boundaries. Does your mom call you too much to talk about nothing? Tell her you only have time for two thirty-minute conversations a week. This way, your talks will probably be much more productive and enjoyable.
  3. Have an utterly toxic relationship with someone? If possible, distance yourself. If not, try a combination of the wet towel and boundary approach at least for the short term. Joy is contagious. Surround yourself with happy people.
  4. Learn the difference between being productive and being stressed. Start prioritizing.
  5. Learn that putting yourself first does not always mean that you are being selfish.
  6. Make time for yourself.
  7. Sleep!

Find the exercise that’s right for you (learn more about this in Hormone Harmony).



What kind of things can cause a hormone imbalance, and how can I fix it?

People are generally surprised to learn what a huge impact their everyday lifestyle choices have on their hormone levels. A key topic discussed throughout Hormone Harmony is which lifestyle factors cause hormonal imbalance, and what simple changes can be made to improve hormonal health. Living a healthy lifestyle is obviously important for anyone at any age, but maintaining a healthy lifestyle becomes particularly intriguing to a middle-aged woman experiencing the symptoms of peri-menopause or menopause. Most women will tell you that it is well worth it to make a few sacrifices in order to lessen the symptoms of this stage of life.

Some examples of poor lifestyle choices that cause an imbalance in hormones include:

  1. Eating the wrong foods.
  2. Being overweight, especially with excess fat around the abdomen.
  3. Living in a state of chronic stress.
  4. Being exposed to too many toxins in food and widely used consumer products.
  5. Getting too little or too much exercise, or doing the wrong type of activity.
  6. Lacking optimum amounts of essential nutrients.

The Hormone Foundation provides these tips for maintaining a healthy lifestyle to promote balanced hormones:

  1. Eat a healthy diet, including 1,500 mg of calcium daily
  2. Lower the amount of fat in your diet
  3. Maintain the right balance of calories to support an active lifestyle
  4. Quit or try to cut down on smoking
  5. Drink alcohol moderately, if at all
  6. Exercise for 30 minutes at least three times a week
  7. Avoid stressful situations
  8. Have a yearly mammogram and breast examination by a health professional
  9. Prevent bone loss and osteoporosis symptoms with calcium tablets and Vitamin D


What are toxins, and what are they doing to my hormones? How can I reduce the amount of toxins in my body?

Believe it or not, hormones are disrupted by the chemicals that we ingest with our food, absorb in our skin and breathe in through our respiratory system. Obviously, we can not eliminate all of the outside toxins we take in. However, we can reduce the amount of toxins we are exposed to by eating the correct food and using the correct products.

It’s important to reduce our exposure to chemicals and toxins as much as possible because “Some toxins can mimic the action of hormones, such as estrogen and thyroid hormone, preventing our bodies from being able to use our own hormones and disrupting balance. In addition, toxic chemicals accumulate in tissues of glands and interfere with our ability to make hormones.”

An easy first step to reduce exposure to toxins is to avoid pesticides by buying organic foods. The Environmental Working Group identified the 12 plant foods with the highest levels of pesticides. These are especially important to buy organic: Peaches, celery, apples, nectarines, sweet bell peppers, strawberries, cherries, pears, lettuce, spinach, imported grapes and potatoes. Remember the term “organic” used on packages is regulated, but it does not guarantee that everything in the package is organic. However, the term “natural” is not regulated at all. Be careful when buying water. Tests have shown that some bottled waters have more bacteria than tap water, while others are simply tap water. Instead, use filtered water and a re-usable bottle.

Be weary of plastics. Chapter 7 of Hormone Harmony has a plethora of information on this topic. Plastic should not be heated. Heat can trigger the release of chemicals. Plastic storage containers are marked to identify if they are re-usable or not. “Containers marked #2, #4 or #5 are designed to be re-used and do not leach chemicals. Those marked #1 are for one-time use and should not be re-used but otherwise, they are safe. However, containers marked #3, #6 or #7 can leach chemicals and should be avoided.”



I want to start eating more fresh food. What’s the best way to start?

The best way to eat more fresh food and avoid processed, refined foods is to steer clear of that alluring packaging that makes food items so desirable to consumers. Fresh foods should make up the majority of your grocery load, packaged foods making up the minority.

If your taste buds have become accustomed to fatty fast foods, it is very possible that they have become somewhat deadened by large amounts of salt, fat and artificial flavors. Healthy foods may not make your taste buds happy. Here are some tips to pleasing your taste buds in a healthy way, and to get started buying and preparing fresher, healthier food:

  1. Buy the freshest produce you can find. Think local. Farmer’s markets are a great place to start.
  2. Buy fresh fish. Never buy fish that smells fishy; the odor indicates that it is not fresh. Ask for fish that was never frozen, preferably that came in that day.
  3. Buy the highest quality lean meat you can afford.
  4. Use kosher salt rather than ordinary table salt; it brings more flavor and less sodium.
  5. Try freshly ground pepper and different herbs and spices.
  6. Try using a low-sodium marinade on lean meats and fish before grilling or baking them.
  7. Use non-stick pans and grills to avoid using more fat.
  8. Don’t overcook vegetables

More helpful diet tips on eating fresh, as well as which foods are best and which to avoid for balancing your hormone levels, can be found in chapter five of Hormone Harmony. There are also plenty of books available to help you start a healthier, fresh diet plan.



How can hormones help with anti-aging and memory loss?

One of the most dreaded symptoms of aging is memory loss, and it can occur in both the short and long term at a much faster rate than expected. Fortunately, there are diet and lifestyle techniques that you can adopt to improve memory. For example, according to a recent article on NaturalHealth.com, studies have revealed that a combination of ginseng and ginkgo biloba was the most effective formula of herbal remedies for increasing brain power, a preparation of 60% ginseng and 40% ginkgo being the most effective in a group of volunteers in one particular study.

Certain foods can also have memory boosting, or at least loss-preventing power. Some memory improving ingredients include:

Olive Oil – A recent study found that an ingredient in olive oil, oleocanthal, protects the brain against damage from toxins that leads to memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease.

Folate & B Vitamins – patients with a deficiency in these demonstrated forgetfulness, memory loss, confusion, dementia, and depression.

Honey – raw honey calms nerves, therefore promoting relaxation and rest. “One to two teaspoons per day is recommended.”

Rosemary – rosemary acts as a decongestant and astringent, is good for digestion and circulation, relaxes the stomach, can relieve headaches and menstrual cramps, and regulates blood pressure.

Ginger – ginger has not only been said to remedy hot flashes, morning sickness, and motion sickness, it has also long been used as a remedy for stomach distress, as it relieves inflammation, nausea, vomiting and pain, and it increases circulation.

Here are a couple of memory-boosting recipes from NaturalHealth.com to aid you in making good use of these ingredients:

Memory Zest Blend

1 part ginkgo
1 part gotu kola and peppermint leaves
1 part red clover tops
1 part rosemary leaves
1 part ginger root
Honey

Bring a cup of water (or an entire tea pot) to a boil and add the herbs. Allow the tea to steep for at least ten minutes, strain and drink. Honey can be added after the tea is strained. According to HerbalSolutions.com, this is “a mentally refreshing beverage [that will] give you feelings of clarity and precision.”

Yogurt and Rosemary Drink
1 cup of raw yogurt
1 twig of rosemary or 1 teaspoon of dried rosemary
2 figs
1 tablespoon of olive oil

Place the ingredients in a jar and seal overnight. In the morning, place the mixture in a blender and blend until smooth. Drink this daily to feel refreshed.



With all the extra-rich foods around the holidays, how can I maintain my weight?

Everyone remarks on the dreaded “holiday weight gain” with all of the parties, large meals and all of the gift sweets. What many people don’t realize is that there is much more cause for concern than weight gain when it comes to holiday eating. Recent studies have shown that consuming too many sweets and refined carbohydrates – staples of holiday fare – can lead to insulin resistance. Insulin resistance has been shown to cause inflammation in the body and worsen the symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes.

In addition, excess weight itself, especially around the abdomen, also causes insulin resistance. It becomes easy to see how a vicious cycle occurs here. This is why it is so important to incorporate healthy habits in our daily lives, and maintain them – even during the holidays. If bad habits continue, it can lead to obesity and more serious health issues.

Here are my tips on how to maintain your weight (and who knows, maybe even lose some) during this holiday season.

  1. Before you grab that piece of candy or make a beeline for the cookie tray, eat a few heart-healthy nuts. The protein and healthy fats in the nuts will stabilize blood sugar and reduce cravings.
  2. Load up your plate with lean proteins like turkey, and steamed or lightly sautéed vegetable side dishes at holiday dinners. Avoid vegetable dishes drowning in fat and cheese, and limit yourself to only one starchy side. Skip the rolls all together.
  3. Prior to heading to a holiday party, eat a little protein, such as lean turkey, chicken or a hard-boiled egg. This will prevent that first drink from going straight to your head and weaken your resolve not to eat everything in sight.
  4. Limit alcoholic beverages. Substitute a glass of red wine instead of high-fat eggnog or that high-caloric mixed drink. Drink sparkling water with lemon between each drink.
  5. When out at the mall holiday shopping, take an extra lap or two around the mall to burn extra calories. Park as far away as possible from the store (you’ll find a parking spot sooner, too!).

If you want to maintain good health, these simple tips should be used not only during the holiday season, but every day.

Using the Glycemic Index to Balance Hormones

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

Spring Fruits and Veggies I Can’t Get Enough Of

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.

Mediterranean Chicken with Tzatziki Sauce

1 lb. chicken breast, preferably organic, cut into strips
½ tsp dried oregano
¼ cup olive oil
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 garlic cloves, divided
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
½ cup grated cucumber, squeeze out access water
Juice of half a lemon
Freshly ground black pepper and Kosher salt to season

Mix the oregano, olive oil, vinegar, and one garlic clove (minced or passed through a garlic press) together. Pour over the chicken and marinade for at least one hour. Then cook by either grilling or broiling in the oven.

In a bowl, add the remaining garlic clove (I like to grate it), the yogurt, cucumber, lemon juice and salt and pepper. Mix well.

You could serve just the chicken with the sauce or you could stuff in a whole grain pita with lettuce, tomato and red onion.

Steps to Improve Sleep

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.

Reader Question About DHEA and Energy Levels

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

Keeping Your Home Toxic-Free During the Holidays

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.

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