There comes a point in our lifespan where the hormones biologically begin to slow down production and we begin to consider hormone therapy. When our body senses the slowing of stressors in our crazy lives, it has no need to keep up with the high demands of life. While this is a good thing, the decrease in quantity of the hormones results in a potpourri of symptoms. While more intricate endocrine pathways are being discovered, the global hormonal function remains constant. We feel fantastic when all hormones (estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, thyroid, adrenals, insulin) are in a synchronized balance.
We all know the body WILL change. We may long to feel like we did in our 20’s. I am here to tell you, we can feel even better. There truly is no great mystery to understanding aging. Mid–life and menopause doesn’t have to be the “dreaded” era. In fact, if approached correctly with love and patience, it can be some of the best times of life.
Another thing to keep in mind is that hormonal changes don’t occur just in women. Men can experience the same degree of symptoms. We’ve all heard and some have experienced these symptoms. The symptoms of hormonal changes are extensive and exhaustive. Most of which we are all well aware.
The only thing that needs to be understood is SYMPTOMS OCCUR BECAUSE OF HORMONAL IMBALANCES. Each hormone plays a role in contributing to various symptoms. So how do you know if hormones are right for you? Before answering, ask yourself, “Are your symptoms debilitating enough that it is affecting quality of life?”
If the answer is yes, then hormones maybe what you need.
Hormone supplements are not a forever thing. You may only need them for a certain duration when life feels off balance. The goal should be to use the lowest dose possible for the shortest time possible. Do not depend on only hormones to help you. Stay committed to healthy nutrition, regular exercise and optimal sleep.
If you do choose to begin hormone therapy, continue to work towards creating a healthy lifestyle so that you may begin the process of weaning off of the hormones as soon as the body is able to hold its own.
What are the pros and cons to beginning Hormone Replacement Therapy?
- Alleviates hot flashes and night sweats
- Helps with vaginal dryness
- Helps maintain or restore bone strength
- Improves sleep
- May aid in weight loss
- Possible cardiovascular benefit but evidence is still unclear
- Possible decrease risk of colon cancer
- Helps in restoration of skin, hair, and nails
- Improves mental clarity and mood
- Small increase risk in breast and uterine cancer
- Increased risk of DVTs
- Slight increase in cardiovascular disease and strokes (The WHI study found a 29 per cent increased risk of coronary heart disease in those taking combined HRT)
- Small increase in gall bladder disease
The decision to start HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) should be well thought out. Having an extensive discussion with your physician can alleviate any anxiety about the uncertainty of hormone therapy. Each case is unique with varying factors. Listening and honoring your body will lead you to the right decision.
Remember, the minute you decide to start HRT, do everything you can to get off of them as quickly as possible. Use hormones as a crutch, not a permanent companion.
These truly can be the best years of your life! Aging is inevitable. Aging gracefully is optional. That is why I never tire of this topic. Embrace this passing cloud of inconvenience because the rainbow is waiting on the other side.
The liver, also known as the ultimate multitasking organ, is underestimated in its importance and significance. That is why it is it should be a top priority to keep your liver healthy.
The liver, weighing in about 3 pounds, sits on the right side of the abdominal cavity. Situated below the liver sits the gallbladder and portions of the pancreas and intestines.
The liver serves in multiple roles:
- It helps to filter the blood from the digestive tract, before passing it to the rest of the body.
- It aids in detoxifying chemicals and metabolizing drugs.
- It helps secrete bile to assist in food breakdown.
- It makes proteins so blood clotting is possible.
- It helps break down damaged blood cells so that the body may remove them.
So what issues can arise if the liver is not operating at optimal standards?
There are many medical conditions associated with the liver, such as hepatitis, alcoholic cirrhosis, gall bladder disease, primary biliary cirrhosis, and hemochromatosis only to name a few.
According to ancient Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine, the liver is the primary organ responsible for removing toxins and purifying byproducts so that they may be delivered to the necessary organs in a purified condition.
When the liver is healthy and happy, the body will experience:
- Increased energy levels
- Clearer skin
- Regular menstrual cycle with reduced PMS
- Improved allergy symptoms
- Stronger immunity
- Fewer GI issues
- Improved oral health
- Improved mood and mental clarity
“A healthy liver results in better blood flow upward and outward, throughout our vessels, veins and capillaries, which transport oxygen and nutrients to our cells. The liver also interacts with other organs like the gallbladder, stomach and spleen, since it receives digested particles or toxins and decides what to do with them: circulate them around through the blood or eliminate them before they can cause damage.” Dr. Axe
While the jury is still out on the efficacy of “liver detox”, the American Liver Foundation outlines ways you can keep your liver out of trouble.
- Foods that have been shows to have protective effects include:
- Coffee (in moderation): Increases antioxidant levels while decreasing inflammation
- Tea: Black and green tea have been shown to improve fat and enzyme levels. Avoid green tea extract as it can cause damage to the liver.
- Grapefruit: The two main antioxidants found in grapefruit are naringenin and naringin that reduces inflammation.
- Beetroot juice: Protects the liver from oxidative reactions and increases detoxifying enzymes.
- Cruciferous vegetables: Be cautious with concurrent thyroid conditions. These vegetables have been found to increase detoxifying enzymes.
- Nuts: One six-month observational study in 106 people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease found eating nuts was associated with improved levels of liver enzymes.
- Fatty fish. Studies have shown that fish help prevent fat from building up, keep enzyme levels normal, fight inflammation and improve insulin resistance.
- Olive oil. Helps prevent fat accumulation in liver and improved blood flow.
- Limit alcohol.
- Manage medications.
- Avoid prolonged exposure to toxic chemicals. Use natural hair and skin products as well as natural household supplies.
- Avoid excess supplements. Iron, Niacin, Vitamin A have been shown to be harmful to the liver in excess doses.
- Avoid a plethora of unnecessary herbal products. A recent study in the journal Hepatology claims that liver injury due to supplements and herbs is on the rise.
- Get the heart rate up and just move.
While discussions of liver health often end up taking a back seat to more exciting health news, it is a vital component to achieving greater balance. So drink your coffee, limit your supplements and get your body moving!
Menopause, a women’s worst nightmare or is it? By simply understanding the basic science, we can clear the myths of this dreaded change and make it the most empowering years of a women’s life.
The two predominant hormones are Estrogen and Progesterone. Menopause is nothing more than a mirror image of menarche, or the start of menses.
In the pubertal years, the E2 (Estrogen) and P4 (Progesterone) begin to increase in quantity in preparation of future pregnancies. During this time, there is an imbalance of E2 and P4 which occurs that results in PMS, development of female habitus, acne, mood changes and so on.
During the 20’s and 30’s, E2 and P4 are in prime balance which allows the opportunity for the woman to conceive. When in equilibrium, a woman feels her best.
Around 35 years of age, the body begins to prepare to slow down. This is the time, the change STARTS.
E2 and P4 levels begin to biologically drop. Progesterone declines twice as fast as Estrogen. It is this imbalance between the lower Progesterone in relation to the higher Estrogen that causes menopausal symptoms.
Walking around with higher than needed Estrogen leads to higher risk of breast, uterine, or ovarian cancers, blood clots, and heart disease. Progesterone is there to keep Estrogen from over stimulating the cells. Progesterone also helps with sleep, balances your mood, acts as a diuretic, and gives an overall sense of calm.
When Progesterone declines in respect to Estrogen, it creates a phenomena known as Progesterone Deficiency or Estrogen Dominance.
This is when women experience acne, mood changes, sleep issues, cravings, slowed metabolism, weight gain around mid-section and hips. In essence, menopause is a mirror reflection of menarche.
The solution? That is the million dollar question. Pre-menopause, Peri-Menopause, Menopause, Post-Menopause-whatever phrase you choose to describe this phase is irrelevant because the concept is the same.
Crossing the turbulent rivers of menopause is much easier and simpler than we think because we now understand why the body is changing the way it is.
So how do we get through these years? Here are few things to remember:
- Breathe. This is not a permanent! The hormones are trying to find their balance and they eventually will. No one can predict how long this will take. And nothing can be done to speed up the process. The body is only trying to protect you. Allow it to do so. Don’t condemn the changes you are experiencing. The body is your armor, your voice and your friend. Understand what it is trying to tell you when it speaks to you in the form of symptoms.
- Stop worrying about the weight. The weight is a symptom like anything else. Weight gain occurs due to Estrogen Dominance/Progesterone Deficiency. There are alpha and beta receptors throughout our muscle and adipose layers in the body. Depending on how those receptors are activated in each person, is where the weight change will occur.
- Watch your diet and move your body. Our foods are coated with Estrogen and other chemicals which worsens Estrogen Dominance. It is imperative to cut out gluten, sugar, dairy. Eat clean and as unprocessed as possible. Additionally, without exercise don’t expect the body to change. Your body will not respond how it did was few years prior. And that’s ok. But it doesn’t mean that it won’t change. This will just become the new norm. One of the places Estrogen is converted is in adipose tissues. So the more fat you carry, the more estrogen it will convert, thereby again, worsening Estrogen Dominance. Striving towards optimal body fat will help keep Estrogen Dominance controlled. Focus on feeling balanced, not skinny.
- Make sleep a priority. Without sleep the adrenal glands cannot function at their best. The disruption to the cortisol results in further Progesterone depletion. Turn off the devices and sink yourself into restful slumber.
- Meditate. When the mind is silenced amongst the chaos of life, we are able to center and align to the root of our existence. Take 5-10 minutes a day, close your eyes and go to the places that feel off balance and listen for the guidance given.
- Use hormones. I am all for using hormones, IF AND WHEN IT IS NEEDED. Treating with hormones during menopause is certainly not mandatory. The fundamental question to ask is, “are my symptoms debilitating enough that it is affecting my quality of life?” If the answer is yes, use the smallest amount needed for optimal results. Hormones are like the waves of the ocean. Anything can affect them – sleep, weight, seasonal changes, stress levels, nutritional habits, exercise commitment. You may need hormones for a while and decide later they are not needed. And depending on what’s going on in life, may need them again. There is no one answer. The correct answer always is what your body tells you it needs. Hormones are not the magic solution to these symptoms. They are only a crutch to lean on while working on lifestyle modifications.
- Stop comparing. Don’t compare yourself to your past self. Menopause is a beautiful opportunity for growth and experience. Just keep remembering the symptoms we experience is the body protecting us. This cloud WILL pass! Learn to dance in the rain and embrace the glory of being a woman. This is a period of transformation, revitalization and rejuvenation.
Menopause is the process of shedding the layers of struggle. But just be patient my friends because the wings of healing are opening to reveal the vastness of all that is authentically you.
Does maintaining a gluten-free lifestyle measure up to the promised hype of feeling better? That’s the million dollar question. Let’s take a look at this more closely and recap what we already know about gluten.
Gluten is a composite of storage proteins found in wheat, barley, rye, and oat. It gives elasticity to dough, helps it rise, keeps its shape and gives food a chewy texture. But here are a few reasons why gluten has earned a bad rap:
Gut Inflammation. The proteins in wheat are gut irritants which dig into the lining of the gut wall, causing amylase trypsin inhibitors to provoke an inflammatory immune response.
Increased Intestinal Permeability. The gut is a patrol system that regulates which nutrients may enter and which may not. Inflammation in the gut caused by gluten halts that process of control. It loosens the junctions between cells in the gut wall so too much stuff can pass through. Hence the name of “leaky gut.” This leak is thought to be the number one contributing factor to developing autoimmune disease.
Vulnerability to Gut Autoimmunity. Gliadin is a component of gluten and once it enters the system, the problems begin. The exposure to gliadin causes one’s body to form antibodies against its own tissue, thereby creating an avalanche of toxins. Gluten-related inflammation may also be a factor in the development of Crohn’s Disease.
Autoimmune Reactions. Studies have found wheat exposure might be causing autoimmune issues even without evidence of celiac disease. With the abundance of GMO’s, there have been an exponential surge of autoimmune disorders thought in part due to the toxic effects of gluten.
Symptoms of gluten sensitivity can vary. Some common ones include:
- Mood changes
- GI issues
- Poor sleep
- Rash (Dermatitis Herpatiformis is specific to gluten)
- Hormone dysregulation
- Hair loss
- Weight changes
- Joint/muscle pain/swelling
If these are reasons enough to make you want to consider cutting back on gluten, here are steps you can take to make the process a little easier.
- Get educated. There is nothing more empowering than understanding exactly why you are choosing this path. When I first began my gluten free journey it was not by choice, but out of necessity. I was one of the few that experienced all 10 of the above symptoms. It was daunting and overwhelming. I simplified the process by reading. A great way to start is with the book “Wheat Belly” by Dr. William Davis. Dr. Davis takes you through the history of how gluten has become toxic to our system. Sit with the information and absorb the rationale of why maintaining a gluten-free diet can be life-saving.
- Make a list of the foods your currently eat. Rather than trying to figure out which foods do or do not have gluten, start by streamlining and looking at your own diet. Make a list of all the foods and ingredients you eat on a regular basis. Then begin researching that specific food. Remember – gluten is not listed as an ingredient. It is a protein! You won’t find it on the label. You will learn over time how gluten is disguised in various forms.
- Start slowly. Don’t expect yourself to change overnight. It is not safe for the body, nor is it healthy. Start by decreasing a certain percentage of what you are currently eating. For example, eat only one slice of bread with your sandwich rather than two. This small change can make a significant impact. Remember, gluten is inflammatory. As you decrease your intake of gluten, body inflammation also diminishes. This will result in decreased cravings and an overall decrease in inflammation.
- Limit the gluten-free foods. While reaching for gluten-free cookies is nice when you need that sugar fix, gluten-free products are filled with other ingredients and chemicals that are not good for us. In August 2013, the FDA issued a final rule, effective August 2014, that defined the term “gluten-free” for voluntary use in the labeling of foods as meaning that the amount of gluten contained in the food is below 20 parts per million. This means only a small portion of the food needs to be gluten-free to earn that label. It very well could be that the other portion in the food is not. If you wouldn’t eat a regular cookie, then you shouldn’t be eating a gluten-free one. Indulgences are ok as long as they remain on that special occasion.
- Clear out expectations. Lose the idea that going gluten-free will be the “IT” weight loss miracle. Because it is not! If you lose weight from removing gluten, it is because you are caliberating your metabolism. While weight loss may be an added benefit, the real reward is overall health. When the body is balanced and brought to its natural homeostasis, everything will be in perfect working order, including the weight. Don’t chase the weight loss. Allow it to present itself to you along with all of the other great benefits!
Gluten-free eating is truly not the next fad. There are many, and more to come, unfolding studies and evidence of benefits to living gluten free. It is not a quick fix. We didn’t get here overnight. So stay the path. Stay focused. Stay determined and above all STAY COMMITTED!
CHANGE IS COMING!
The quest for great hair, skin and nails seems a lot more difficult to achieve in the winter months. Dry itchy skin, brittle fly-away whispys, chipped nails – sound familiar? The tell tale signs of winter are in the air! Understanding why colder temps affect our skin can go a long way to help remedy the problem areas, but it is important to understand the role a balanced endocrine system plays as well.
Inflammation is the single most important contributor that affects our skin, hair and nails due to the stimulation of free radicals, which accelerates aging by attaching to and damaging cells. In addition, studies have shown that there is a connection between sugar and inflammation in the body.
The main hormones that play a direct role in contributing to the decline from inflammation include:
I have written in the past about how these hormones become imbalanced, which leads to external changes we see. But for this month, I would like to focus specifically on how colder temperatures become a factor.
As we have understood, the fundamental rudimentary cause for the external changes we see is due to hormonal imbalances. The same carries true during winter months.
The longer, darker days lowers our Vitamin D levels. The waxing and waning of the temperatures directly impacts our thyroid levels. Estrogen, Progesterone and Testosterone levels ebb and flow to try and keep the body in balance. This endless cycle causes a rise in cortisol, therefore triggering an inflammatory response which leads to cellular inflammation, disruption and malfunction.
Other contributing factors include:
- Drier air from vents
- Poor hydration
- Increase in consumption of comfort foods (mainly sugar)
- Lack of exercise
- Prolonged hot showers/baths
- Irregular sleep patterns
Until Spring can shine upon us, here are some simple tips to help :
- Increase hydration. It is vital to keep the body hydrated with at least 90 oz/water/day. Without the essence of water, cellular healing cannot begin.
- Humidifier. Worth the investment. Having one by the bedside and in rooms that are frequently occupied helps prevent skin dry out.
- Limit hot showers/baths. Skin that is immersed for prolonged periods of time in hot water strips the natural oils causing hair and skin to become dry. It does feel great to stay for extended time in that warmth, but that causes more harm that good. Limit showers to 7 minutes at most.
- Coconut oil/butter. Nothing like solid saturated fats to hydrate the skin. Apply to hair and skin and allow it to soak for 45 minutes to an hour and shower afterwards. Or leave it on overnight for better absorption.
- Limit sugar intake. This is not specific to winter only! Refined sugar causes insulin levels to spike thereby leading to inflammation. Be mindful of this hidden culprit.
These are very simple, yet effective means to help control and possibly prevent winter skin ailments.
As the saying goes, we can’t stop the clock. Spring will be here before we know it as soon as we get through the craziness of St. Louis winter swings!
Hormones can have a major affect on your hair, skin and nails. Skin, the single largest organ in the human body readily tells the story of what is really going on beneath those layers.
Do any of these symptoms sound familiar?
- Hair loss in clumps or strands
- Slow or no hair growth
- Thinning eyebrows
- Sparse eyelashes
- Brittle or cracked nails
- Nail ridges
- Dry skin
- Fine lines and wrinkles
- Eye circles
Contrary to popular belief, these symptoms are not from getting older. While aging causes a decline in hormones, environmental and dietary factors also have a hand in speeding up the aging process. While we can’t control our biological clock, what if we could get a handle on things we can control? It starts with our endocrine system.
The endocrine system is comprised of eight main glands:
The glands, located in separate areas of the body, must work in perfect alignment and synchronize to achieve optimal balance. If any part of the pathway “short circuits,” the body immediately signals its distress and begins the healing process. The symptoms you experience are nothing more than indications of the dysfunction occurring at the cellular level.
So why do we develop these symptoms and what can we do to reverse them?
Good question. The reasons are many. The most important thing to identify is WHY you are having the symptoms? For example, the emotional impact of hair loss is likely the same for everyone, but the cause of why it is occurring is starkly different for each individual.
Here are some of the most common causes of endocrine imbalance and its effect on the hair, skin and nails.
- Declining Estrogen. Estrogen stimulates collagen production and blood flow and contributes to the smooth, firm appearance of skin. As estrogen levels drop, so does collagen production. Without adequate collagen, the skin loses its elasticity, hence developing the appearance of wrinkles.
Treatment: Topical estrogen use has shown some improvement in appearance, but the risks of estrogen outweigh the benefits. Although not a permanent solution, some temporary options to enhance collagen stimulation include:
- Vitamin C
- Alpha hydroxy acids
- Chemical peels
- Laser resurfacing
- Elevated Androgens. Estrogen dominance results when estrogen is higher in RELATION to progesterone. Although the absolute value of estrogen declines, the estrogen/progesterone ratio favors estrogen dominance. Estrogen dominance causes estrogen to convert to testosterone. Elevated levels of testosterone triggers a chain reaction which ultimately leads to the typical “male pattern baldness” in both men and women.
Treatment: Balance estrogen/progesterone ratio with natural compounded progesterone. Restoring depleted progesterone levels helps decrease estrogen dominance and thereby decreases conversion to testosterone.
- Bacterial/Fungal Infection. Any compromise to the immune system can weaken hair follicles and dermal layers of the skin. While treating the infection is important, it is even more important to identify WHY an infection is present. Infections are red flags that there is something more going on.
Treatment: Oral Nystatin may be used to treat if there is any suspicion of a systemic fungal infection. Antibiotics for bacterial infections must be used with caution and only given once a definitive cause is identified. Developing antibiotic resistance only worsens the problem. Use with caution.
- Everything is blamed on the thyroid. Whether the thyroid gland is under functioning (Hypothyroid) or over functioning (Hyperthyroid), the wrath it leaves on the hair and skin is emotionally scarring. IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT THYROID LEVELS ARE TESTED IN ITS ENTIRETY. Too often the diagnosis of thyroid disease is missed due to an inadequate testing of thyroid panel. To fully evaluate a thyroid condition, the following levels should be done: TSH, Free T4, Free T3, Total T3, Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies, Thyroglobulin Antibodies, Magnesium, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, Iron levels.
Treatment: Once an accurate diagnosis of Hypothyroid or Hyperthyroid is made, appropriate treatment is given and monitored. If hair and skin continues to be effected after thyroid is in balance, LOOK FOR ANOTHER CAUSE.
- Medication Side Effects. Answers we seek the most often sit right under our nose. Always, always assume a medication can cause side effects, until otherwise proven. Even if the symptom is not listed in the package insert, don’t assume that is can’t happen. Simple to identify and simpler to reverse.
Treatment: Revisit all medications and ALL SUPPLEMENTS.
- Leaky Gut. This requires a whole article in itself. GI health and “Leaky Gut” are single handedly catapulting modern medicine to all new heights. EVERYTHING STARTS WITH THE GUT. LET ME REPEAT………HEAL THE GUT…..HEAL THE BODY! Foods we consume are infested with hormones, antibiotics and other unknown chemicals. Going up against the food industry to change their habits can leave us frustrated and defeated. But changing OUR habits can leave us complete and empowered. As the gut flora is disrupted, it creates a “hole” in our ozone in the gut. This leak causes release of many known and unknown cytokines. The inflammatory nature of the cytokines triggers a disruption in the normal hormonal pathway. As mentioned above, we can now understand what happens when hormones are not aligned. Assume even the healthy foods you consume contribute to the leak.
Treatment: Navigating through the lumen of the GI tract is a winding tortuous ride to unknowns. Begin by decreasing consumption of high reactive foods: gluten, sugar, dairy, non-organic meats and produce. To track your body’s response, maintain a food journal and monitor any physical or emotional improvements. You can also restore the gut’s natural flora with a pro-biotic. You may also consider having an extensive food sensitivity panel testing done. The MRT Leap test measures 150 of the most common food sensitivities.
The complexity of the endocrine system and its effects on the body is quite extensive and many entities are still unknown. The points discussed here are only a mere entry point into the depths of what lies within our cells. Skin is that glorious organ that blankets and shields us from the daily trauma we endure. Waiting around for science to discover the answers will only leave us feeling more impatient and confused. But taking charge of our own health proves to be our greatest ally.
LISTEN TO YOUR BODY! THE SYMPTOMS YOU EXPERIENCE ARE YOUR BODY’S ATTEMPT TO GET YOUR ATTENTION. Every symptom is just as important as the next. Don’t ignore when your body is talking to you. It could be the most important conversation you will ever have! If you are listening to your body and ready to move forward with healing, contact our office today!
Who knew the benefits of exercise far exceed the results of weight loss? Here we are, three weeks into the New Year. The smells of cinnamon and nutmeg, and the endless aroma of cookies, are slowly dissipating leading us to the once theoretical promises of resolutions which are now lurking at every turn. What was an empty parking lot at the gym is now abustle with fitness enthusiasts trying to fulfill a promise they think they should be keeping. But why? Where is the motivation?
According to a Nieslen Survey done in January 2015, weight loss continues to hold the number 1 ranking on all American’s New Year’s resolution list. But aside from weight loss being the most obvious benefit to exercise, there are many others benefits just as important that remain in the shadows. So what are they?
- Enhances all five senses. Most of us who love to workout do so with music. Tempo and “rhythm response,” which is how the body moves to the music, helps determine the extent of endorphin release. Research has shown songs with an average of 120 bpm stimulate a cortical response and transmit electrical activity to the motor and sensory components of the brain. This triggers the release of serotonin, dopamine, and all other feel good hormones. The production of these hormones allows each of the 5 senses to become responsive to stimuli.
- Reduce visceral belly fat. Belly fat, also known as “bad fat”, has made its way into mainstream conversations. What really is belly fat and why is so important to lose it? Some fat is needed to insulate and protect the vital organs from trauma. Too much belly fat triggers the release of adipokines, a dangerous inflammatory hormone that is the culprit in many diseases. Risk of metabolic disease increases in men with waist circumference greater than 40 and women greater than 35. Doing endless number of sit-ups won’t fix this. Healthy food, ample exercise, quality sleep and peace of mind can help control your belly fat.
- Improves healing. “Inflammation is one of the fundamental underlying causes of almost all chronic disease, including certain cancers,” says Mark Hyman, MD. Inflammation causes an elevation in cytokines which is a direct result of sedentary life and poor eating habits. Exercise also aids in the removal of bacteria from the lungs with increased respiration and flushes carcinogens through urine and sweat. This leads to the production of white blood cells which helps create more antibodies. This response aids in restoring cellular homeostasis and optimizing cellular healing and repair.
- Improves sexual function. A 2003 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that men over 50 who were physically active had a 30 percent lower risk of erectile dysfunction compared with those who were sedentary. In women, exercise has long been known to balance estrongen:progesterone ratios. Known as the natural “feel good antidepressant”, exercise plays a vital role in improving self-image and self-confidence, thereby leading to happy times behind close doors.
- Solidifies friendship. This is not one we hear often, but let’s stop and think for a moment. If you are a fitness fanatic or are happy exercising in moderation, you reap the benefits of what exercise has done in your life. Those friends in your exercise circle keep you accountable, just as you do for them. When the body is healthy, the mind is calm. If the mind stays strong, the heart is joyful. If the heart feels happy, so do you! Next time you hesitate to go the gym, just remember you have a friend who gets it.
The benefits to exercise, clean eating and healthy lifestyle are endless. With the crazy time-restricted, gadget filled, world we live in today, we lose our priorities and in the process we lose ourselves.
Taking one hour 4-5 time a week to take care of yourself is the MOST UNSELFISH thing you can do! So exercise at home or join a gym, but take care of you!
Dr. Raman’s Concierge Medical Practice is focused on holistic care and good health maintenance. For more information on healthy eating habits and achieveing and maintaining OPTIMAL health, CONTACT our office today to schedule your appointment. You can also learn more by following Dr. Raman on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest.
Estrogen and progesterone are hormones that play a significant role in women’s health. These two hormones are most commonly understood as they relate to menstrual cycles, but they affect so many other areas of wellbeing, especially as women age.
Both estrogen and progesterone are primarily produced by the ovaries. From adolescence until perimenopause, estrogen and progesterone levels rise and fall related to a woman’s menstrual cycle.
Progesterone and Estrogen Changes During Perimenopause and Menopause
As a woman ages and enters perimenopause, both estrogen and progesterone levels change. In the early stages of perimenopause, progesterone production declines, resulting in estrogen dominance. During this time, many women feel they are in a constant state of pre-menstrual syndrome, experiencing:
- Mood swings
- Tender breasts
Estrogen production declines in the second phase of perimenopause. This drop in estrogen levels often results in symptoms such as:
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Memory problems
- Heart palpitations
- Sleep disturbances
- Vaginal dryness
Eventually, both estrogen and progesterone decline to very low levels and most symptoms are relieved, although some women continue to experience discomfort through menopause.
As estrogen and progesterone production decline, symptoms can range from easily manageable to negatively life-altering. Additional changes that result from the varying levels of estrogen and progesterone include:
- Reduction in skin thickness and elasticity
- Increased risk of heart attack due to increased rigidity of the blood vessels in the heart
- Reduced calcium absorption leading to decreased bone density
- Increased bladder infections
Although these lists of symptoms may sound daunting, having a sound relationship with your physician can make all the difference!
Healthy Aging IS Possible
Confusion and stress often accompany the wide variety of symptoms related to estrogen and progesterone imbalance. The inevitability of aging combined with limited information and treatment options add to a sense of frustration and helplessness. However, healthy aging is possible and women should not only survive this time of transition, but can actually thrive.
General recommendations regarding a healthy diet and adequate exercise are more important than ever as estrogen and progesterone production declines. Fresh, leafy greens, colorful fruits and vegetables, healthy fats and lean protein support the body as it adjusts to new hormone levels. Additionally, regular weight-bearing exercise builds muscle to support aging bones, while cardiovascular workouts strengthen the heart and lungs and improve circulation.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and bioidentical hormone therapy are common treatments for the side effects of estrogen and progesterone decline. HRT is not without risks, however. A thorough health history review is necessary before beginning treatment and continual monitoring is required during treatment.
Vitamin and mineral supplements, topical estrogen, focused nutritional therapy and prescription medications have all been shown to support healthy aging and offer relief of symptoms related to estrogen and progesterone imbalances. The correct combination for each woman is best determined over time in collaboration with her doctor.
The concept of hormonal pathways, including thyroid and adrenals, has to be understood to seamlessly get through this transition phase. While the scope of menopause is much more extensive than this article allows for discussion, Dr.Raman teaches, counsels, and treats once each women has understood why she is experiencing the symptoms she is.
Dr. Raman is focused on holistic care and good health maintenance. Patients at her Concierge Medical Practice may benefit from bioidentical hormone therapy and a medically supervised weight management program to help ease the symptoms associated with progesterone and estrogen changes.
For women, the transition through perimenopause to menopause is a time of major hormonal fluctuation. The phases are often confused with each other, but true menopause is when a woman has not menstruated for a full year. Perimenopause is the phase leading to menopause and lasts an average of four years, although it can range from a few months to 10 years. A woman’s body typically begins to start the perimenopause process at age 35.
Perimenopause usually begins between the age of 35 and 50 when the ovaries begin to produce less estrogen. The imbalance of estrogen and progesterone often results in missed periods as well as side effects like hot flashes (the most common side effect of perimenopause), fatigue or low energy, difficulty sleeping, decreased libido and what some women call “PMS plus” —instances when pre-menstrual side effects worsen.
Like many transitions, perimenopause can be physically and emotionally challenging. There is no quick fix for troublesome side effects but many women find relief in lifestyle changes that improve overall health, including:
- Adding moderate exercise to your daily schedule
- Improving nutrition
- Avoiding smoking and alcohol
- Reducing stress
- Increasing water intake
- Practicing good sleep hygiene
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and bioidentical hormone therapy (BHT) provide side effect relief for some women. These therapies help balance hormone levels that vary throughout perimenopause. However, using hormones to control symptoms are NOT mandatory. The first question to ask is, “how much do my symptoms affect my daily life?” And if the answer is not at all, then no hormones are needed at that time. The fluctuations of the hormones are like the waves of the oceans. Symptoms are variable depending on lifestyle habits, stress during that particular period in your life, weight loss or weight gain, climate and weather changes and Mother Nature.
Even though menopause is the official ending of your menstrual periods, the hormone fluctuations that created side effects during perimenopause are still occurring, meaning that some perimenopause symptoms may remain (or return) and new side effects could appear during menopause.
Once women reach menopause they are at greater risk for developing osteoporosis, a disease that weakens bones. The post-menopausal drop in estrogen is directly related to loss of bone mass. Because there are no symptoms of bone loss, it’s often only after a bone-related injury that the presence of osteoporosis is discovered. Bone mineral density tests (BMD) are x-rays that measure bone density. Screening should begin if you have any of the following risk factors or at the cessation of the menstrual cycle. The following puts you at a higher risk of developing osteopenia or osteoporosis:
- Advanced age
- Your race – Caucasians and Asians have a higher prevalence of osteoporosis
- Family history of osteoporosis
- Body frame – people with petite frames can have a higher risk because they often have less bone mass to begin with.
Likewise, your doctor can offer osteoporosis treatment and prevention suggestions which may include:
- Eating foods high in calcium
- Calcium and vitamin D supplements
- Bone density medications
- Estrogen therapy
- Exercise, especially weight bearing exercise
- Medically Supervised Weight Management
- Avoiding smoking and alcohol
Health Care Options for Perimenopause and Menopause
Perhaps one of the most important things to know about perimenopause and menopause is that you aren’t alone. Approximately three million women transition to menopause every year and there are abundant health care options for both phases. Each woman will enter this phase in her life. During these transition years, remember that these symptoms are not forever. Your doctor can help get you through the storm, by teaching you to dance in the rain.
Certainly the scope of this topic is much more in depth and much more individualized than can be covered here. Knowing that the greatest years of your life don’t have to be the darkest days, lends hope for every woman to reclaim her body.
Dr. Raman’s Concierge Medical Practice is focused on caring for each person as a whole, not just a list of symptoms. Our office is committed to helping our patients stay well and maintain good health rather than treating patients only after they become ill.