Monday, June 15, 2015

7 Steps to Healthy Hormones - Step 6: Exercise

An important factor in Healthy Hormonal Balance is exercise. There are literally thousands of research articles that show exercise is beneficial for your health, including your hormonal health.

Interval Exercise: 

One of the best all-around activities you can do for your hormonal health is interval (burst) training. If there is a silver bullet out there, this is it! Exercising opens the hormone faucet to release the right amount of hormone that your body NEEDS!

Interval training is simply alternating bursts of intense activity with intervals of lighter activity.

For instance, if your exercise is walking — if you're in good shape, you might incorporate short bursts of jogging into your regular brisk walks. If you're less fit, you might alternate leisurely walking with periods of faster walking. For example, if you're walking outdoors, you could walk faster between certain mailboxes, trees or other landmarks.

Whether endorphins, testosterone, growth hormone or insulin, interval training will help reduce stress levels, enhance your immune system, regulate metabolic function and keep you at the body weight your body was designed for. 

To learn more, visit us at Advanced Health Clinic

Monday, June 8, 2015

7 Steps to Healthy Hormones - Step 5: Eat Good Fats

When it comes to Healthy Hormonal Balancing, eating good fats is an absolute must. Eating a variety of foods high in short, medium and long chain fatty acid is key to keeping your hormones in check. Not only are these essential fats fundamental building blocks for hormone production, they speed up your metabolism and promote weight loss. Healthy foods that are packed with healthy fats that are good for healthy hormonal balance include: flaxseed, chia seeds, coconut oil, avocados, grass-fed butter and wild caught salmon.

Some people try to eliminate fats from their diet altogether. But that's not the answer to obtaining optimal health. Our bodies need nutritious and fatty foods as an essential part of our diet. 

To learn why, let's start with a quick summary of the basic types of fat:

·        Saturated: These are the fats we love, but should hate. They're found in animal products including dairy products and eggs. They are also found in some vegetable oils such as coconut and palm. Saturated fats can make the body produce excess cholesterol and, as a result, are often associated with an increased risk of heart disease, cancer and other disorders. These fats are usually solid at room temperature and get even harder when chilled. In general, we're better off without them.

·        Monounsaturated: These fats are a bit better for you. They're found in almond, peanut, sesame, canola and olive oils and avocados. Monounsaturated fats, especially olive oil, actually help decrease blood cholesterol levels. These fats usually harden at cold temperatures or become cloudy when refrigerated.

·        Polyunsaturated: These fats are good for you in moderation. They're found in corn, safflower, sunflower and soybean oils as well as in walnuts, pecans and hazelnuts. Polyunsaturated fats have a long history of being healthy for the heart. These fats are liquid at room temperature and stay liquid when chilled. But be careful in storing them: polyunsaturated oils go rancid more easily than other oils, so keep them refrigerated.

·        Transfatty acids: These fats, found in products such as margarine, are made through the process of hydrogenation -- converting polyunsaturated oils into saturated fat. They are harmful substances that can increase cholesterol levels as much as saturated fats do. Trans fatty acids are also found in processed foods such as chips, cookies, prepared salads and anything else made with hydrogenated oils.

·        Essential fatty acids: EFAs are the best type of fats -- and since your body doesn't make them naturally, you must get them from your diet. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish and flaxseed oils. Omega-6 fatty acids are found in beans, nuts, seeds and some vegetable oils including flaxseed, corn, soybean and safflower. In either case, the benefits are immeasurable: EFAs are important for the regulation of cholesterol production, hormonal balance and immune function. They're necessary for healthy skin, hair, nails, mucous membranes, nerves and arteries. An inadequate amount of EFAs can contribute to skin and menstrual disorders, diarrhea and weak nails. EFAs have also been proven to guard against heart disease, cancer and arthritis.

Nutritionally Essential

Quality fats and oils are nutritionally essential. The body uses fatty acids to store energy. Also, polyunsaturated fats contain fatty acids that are necessary for synthesizing hormones, making fat-soluble vitamins available to the body, and maintaining the flexibility of cell membranes. Stored fat, as much as we want to get rid of it, provides a source of energy for the body, protects organs and insulates the body to keep it warm.

Nutritionists now know that if you don't get enough good fats in your diet, your body will store fat in order to perform its daily functions. So, if you're trying to lose weight, maintaining a low-fat or fat-free diet can actually defeat the purpose: EFAs are necessary to ensure normal burning of stored fat by muscle tissue. They also help the body burn calories more efficiently.

Healthy Fat Choices
The ideal amount: No more than 30% of your total daily calories should come from fat, and definitely no more than 10% should come from saturated fats.
By eating a diet high in vegetables, fruits, grains and beans, you'll automatically tend toward the healthiest ratio of fats in your diet. If you're going to eat animal products, eat mostly fish, seafood, skinless poultry and small portions of beef. Use oils sparingly, stick to the monounsaturated and polyunsaturated varieties and choose ones that are unrefined and cold-pressed. To get your EFAs, use flaxseed oil for salad dressing, or drizzle some lightly on steamed vegetables.

When it comes to cooking, be aware that different oils respond better to different temperatures. Some have lower smoking points and are appropriate for sauteeing. I personally prefer butter or coconut oil if I am going to heat a fat.

Rule of Thumb:

Be sure to steer clear from oils high in Omega-6s (safflower, sunflower, corn, cottonseed, canola, soybean and peanut) and load up on rich sources of natural Omega-3s (wild fish, flaxseed, chia seeds, walnuts and grass-fed animal products). There is a type of Omega-6 fat you want to try and get in your diet called GLA.  GLA (gamma-linoleic acid) can be taken in supplement form by using evening primrose oil or borage oil and it’s also found in hemp seeds.  Studies have shown supplementing with GLA can support healthy progesterone levels.

Monday, June 1, 2015

7 Steps to Healthy Hormones - Step 4: Supplement with Vitamin D3
Vitamin D is more than a vitamin. It really is a prohormone, a substance that the body converts to a hormone. The skin makes vitamin D after exposure to sunlight. Vitamin D is absorbed from certain foods, such as dairy products and certain oily fish, such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines. Vitamin D has its effects by binding to a protein (called the vitamin D receptor). This receptor is present in nearly every cell in the body and affects many different body processes.

In the past decade, medical researchers have learned that vitamin D plays a much greater role in maintaining our overall health than previously thought.  Until recently, it was believed that vitamin D’s primary role was to maintain the proper balance of calcium and phosphorus needed to build and maintain healthy bones, and that it was activated only by the kidneys. However, research by Michael F. Holick, MD, PhD, revealed that nearly all cells in the body contain vitamin D receptors, which allow them to convert circulating (inactive) vitamin D3 into the active hormone. With enough vitamin D in the bloodstream to regulate calcium, the “extra” vitamin D is recruited and activated by cells all over the body.

According to an article from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vitamin D3’s role in promoting human life is more profound than previously suspected.

“These physiologic arenas are the adaptive immune system, the innate immune system, insulin secretion by the pancreatic β cell, multifactorial heart functioning and blood pressure regulation, and brain and fetal development.”

This is why people who live in dark areas suffer from significant depression and health disorders unless they supplement. For many people, optimal vitamin D levels may require a combination of sun exposure, dietary sources of vitamin D, and supplements as needed.

Many people who are deficient in vitamin D exhibit symptoms that are easily confused with other conditions.  For example, chronic pain in muscles, joints, and bones is often misdiagnosed as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue or myalgia. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is another potential sign of vitamin D deficiency. SAD can be misdiagnosed as depression or bipolar disorder. It is often remedied by exposure to sunshine, UVB rays, or vitamin D. Chronic diseases, such as periodontal disease, loose teeth, and high blood pressure, can also be signs of vitamin D deficiency.  A compromised resistance to infection is also sometimes associated with inadequate vitamin D, which we now know is critical for immune system function.

Women who breastfeed can deplete their vitamin D reserves. Subsequently, their breastfed infants also tend to be vitamin D deficient. Several studies have also shown that vitamin D deficiency is common among postmenopausal women, probably due to age related decline in vitamin D production, as well as changes in body composition. Of particular interest to women of childbearing age is a report from Dr. Ellie Campbell, who noted that many of her female patients who were struggling with infertility also tested remarkably low in vitamin D.  When these women were given supplements to restore their vitamin D levels, they were able to get pregnant. Polycystic ovary syndrome, another prevalent cause of infertility, is also associated with low vitamin D levels, Dr. Campbell reports.  In addition, PMS and dysfunctional bleeding may also be associated with a vitamin D deficiency.

Smaller trials and observational studies suggest that optimizing vitamin D levels may help prevent a wide range of diseases associated with low levels of vitamin D. Optimizing your vitamin D levels with adequate and sensible sun exposure, dietary sources, and supplements as needed offers real health benefits. Vitamin D contributes significantly to overall health, throughout your life stages. Most people should supplement with around 2,000IU to 5,000IU daily of vitamin D3 on days they’re not in the sun. I recommend you work with your healthcare provider to make sure that your Vitamin D levels are optimal.