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Let’s talk a little more about hormones.
Hormones play an essential role in growth and development. They are fundamental for every cell to function, thrive, and age gracefully.
Hormones allow our bodies to balance metabolism, cope with stress, regulate our immune system, provide physical energy, amongst many other things.
For many of us, hormone talk is quite common. Often it can be a great source of tension, especially when we’re attempting to manage our hormones and the symptoms that come with hormone imbalance, like:
- Hot flashes
- Low libido
- Brain fog
- Weight gain
- Hair Loss
You may frequently see articles or journals about hormones with a stock photo of a woman either in pain or showing some sort of discomfort, alluding to the idea that hormones and their natural cycles are something to dislike or view in a negative light.
Certainly no one enjoys the symptoms that accompany hormonal imbalances and while it’s completely valid to feel as though something is wrong and begin making strides to address the problem, it’s also important to know that not all hormone fluctuations are bad.
As women, we naturally experience monthly fluctuation of hormones, as well as daily hormone shifts. Our bodies are meant to do this.
These fluctuations are part of the body’s natural rhythm — your body is always adjusting.
For example, when speaking about menstruation, estrogen increases during the first half of your cycle and progesterone increases during the second half of your cycle. All hormone levels decrease right before menstruation begins.
Similarly, estrogen levels are higher in the morning, progesterone levels are higher at night. Cortisol is also higher in the morning and decreases at night. These shifts serve a very specific purpose, but if they become even slightly off track, they can produce the less than desired symptoms of hormone imbalance.
That said, balancing hormones is a very complex art.
It’s hard to balance something that is meant to fluctuate, but we do the best that we can by adding or increasing the hormones that are missing, working to reduce the hormones that are being produced in excess, and supporting the liver in cleansing the body of toxic hormones.
So what can you do to show your hormones a little love and find balance?
Listen and reflect on what they’re trying to tell you.
Your hormones are special chemical messengers created by your body to bring purpose, structure, and life to every function in your body.
I find that it is helpful for my patients to journal and reflect during times of hormone imbalance. I recommend that they connect and reflect on each hormone and ask for their guidance in how to improve their health. I also suggest examining what might be missing in their lives. Everything is connected. A missing hormone could be an indication that something is missing in life — the young, lively, strong energy of estrogen and testosterone; or the calming, soothing, yin energy of progesterone.
Take the proper steps to help your hormones get back into alignment.
This means more than just simply recognizing that your hormones might be off track. It means diving deeper by testing your levels and learning exactly where your hormones are. It means supporting your hormones through natural hormone replacement therapy and assisting your liver in ridding your body of all of the toxins blocking your path to health.
By using this process of natural hormone treatments, detox protocols, and spiritual reflection, I’ve been able to help my patients maintain balanced hormones 80-90% of the time. However, they can’t be completely controlled, so 10% of the time they are naturally fluctuating — being guided by your body’s inner intelligence.
Remember that there’s no such thing as perfect.
This is true even for me. I do everything I can to keep my hormone levels balanced, but I also know that despite my best efforts, I will still retain some amount of water during my period. I will also experience breast tenderness and fatigue which is normal and natural as hormones change. I observe these symptoms and flow with them, rather than fight against them.
Embrace change and learn to speak your truth.
As women, our regular cycle gives us the opportunity to cleanse and start anew each month. Our menstrual cycles serve as an opportunity to let go, literally and figuratively — we release an unfertilized egg, but we can also consciously make an effort to let go of anything that isn’t serving us in life.
The hormone fluctuations that occur during our menstrual cycles also create space for us to feel more deeply, every emotion from sadness, anger, and frustration to joy and peace.
Instead of fighting these fluctuations when they happen, it’s important to simply ride it like a wave. There is a natural ebb and flow, with natural highs and lows.
Honor where you are in this flow when it happens.
Understand that there will be times when you’ll need to rest, often before your cycle. Make space for that. On days when you’re feeling clearer and more energized, honor that as well and use that time to work on things that feel meaningful to you.
If you’ve moved past menstruation and are menopausal, you can honor this cycle with gratitude — thank your body for everything it’s taught you from youth until now. Be grateful that you no longer have to experience monthly cycles and all that comes with them.
We live in a society where the natural fluctuations that occur in women’s bodies are often misunderstood and unappreciated, but as women it’s important for us to know that even if we have the most perfect lab work, we will still experience some of the symptoms that come with natural hormone fluctuations.
As women, it is those natural hormonal ebbs and flows that give us the sacred ability to create life and sustain it. This is truly a beauty beyond comprehension and often overlooked.
When we talk about being “balanced” it means letting your hormones be in the flow, not necessarily achieving a certain number on paper and making it stay there indefinitely. If you stop fighting against your hormones, you will find more fulfillment, peace, and joy as you flow with them. I’ve seen it first hand – the more we speak negatively of our hormones, the more we’re frustrated and angered by them – the more out of balance they become.
Honor your body and its wisdom, everything that occurs (even the imbalances) are there for a reason.
Your hormones are trying to tell you something. In order to hear their message, you must be still and listen for the subtle signals your body is sharing with you.
Though no matter how in tune you might be with your body, sometimes it takes a little more than your intuition to understand exactly what your hormones are trying to say without the proper translator.
This is why testing hormone levels is key to discovering exactly what their message for you is.
Hormones is a topic that we discuss frequently here at Vitality Natural Health Care. I’ve shared insights on adrenal and thyroid health as well as the how to be sure that your female hormone levels are optimal, but there still seems to be some mystery around testing.
I often find that when patients come to me their doctors haven’t run all the tests needed to fully understand what’s happening with a patient. Whether you’re being seen at Vitality or another health care facility, I want you to have the knowledge you need to advocate for yourself when it comes to hormone health.
These are the tests you need in order to gain a full understanding of your hormones:
A Comprehensive Thyroid Panel
The thyroid tests that your doctor orders should include the following:
- Free T3
- Free T4
- Reverse T3
- Hashimoto’s Antibody Panel
- Iodine Urine Test
Often thyroid testing will include some of these elements, but rarely all. This combination of tests will provide you with the information you need to know if your hormones are balanced but will also indicate if there is an autoimmune issue, like Hashimoto’s or Graves’ disease present.
Additionally, if there is cause for concern after testing, knowing your iodine levels will be helpful for treatment as this is sometimes a supplement used in treating thyroid issues.
Be sure to request testing of the free forms of T3 and T4, the active forms of thyroid hormone. Often doctors will order the total amounts, but as this includes both the hormones that are active and bound, it doesn’t provide a full understanding of the health of your thyroid.
Adrenal Saliva Test
To test the health of your adrenal glands I recommend a 24-hour saliva test. The saliva test measures your cortisol levels at four points throughout the day. Based on these measurements, we can determine whether or not your body is producing cortisol as it should be throughout the day.
In addition to testing cortisol, it’s important to also test DHEA and progesterone as they both impact adrenal gland function. When testing DHEA be sure the values that are being tested are the sulphate form of DHEA. This testing can be done using standard blood work.
Sex Hormone Panel
After 10 years of working as a naturopathic doctor, I’ve learned that there is more that goes into hormone balancing than meets the eye. In order to get an accurate understanding of hormone levels, it’s important to go beyond the standard testing and dig deeper.
With that in mind, these are the blood tests that I recommend and order when accessing sex hormones:
- Estradiol, estrone, estriol
- Testosterone, free and attached
- DHEA sulphate
These are baseline tests and fairly standard for men and women. The only difference is that I would also order a test of the prostate gland for men. When ordering these tests, it’s common for women to get them done at particular points during their cycle. For example, days 3-6 of their menstrual cycle when testing for estrogen and days 18-21 when testing for progesterone.
While there are definitely advantages to getting tested during those time frames, it is also possible to access hormone health outside of those time frames — there are certain values that are expected depending on the day of testing.
If the values of these tests are not optimal, I will order additional testing to ensure that you are able to metabolize and use the good forms of estrogen and testosterone as well as detox and remove the toxic forms.
These tests include:
- Sex hormone binding globulin
- Estrogen Metabolism
- Dihydrotestosterone (DHT)
- Methylation Panel
In addition to these tests, I often like to assess whether my patients are aging well as this is related to hormone health. The testing that can give me an accurate picture of this is:
- IGF-1, a growth hormone
- FSH or follicle stimulating hormone
- LH or luteinizing hormone
Hormone balancing is an art and one that I know well after 10 years in practice. Through following this testing path, I’ve had such great success with helping my patients learn to understand and love their hormones.
If your doctor is only ordering the baseline tests, they are missing valuable information, which means you are missing valuable information. Hopefully, the information here will give you some of the tools you need to advocate for yourself and your health.
General Wellness | 0 Comments
As we begin to understand our health and what makes our body happy, vacation or any kind of travel can present some unavoidable challenges. That’s why when I’m looking to reset and replenish myself, I choose energizing vacation destinations. So while relaxing by a pool in the hot sun for days with bottomless mimosas may sound enticing to some, I can guarantee that it will most certainly leave you in need of another vacation to recover.
It’s important to note that wellness on vacation doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Personally, I love to indulge in food I don’t typically eat, or have an occasional cocktail, but it’s all about moderation. So when I want to eat clean food, be in nature, be active, and most of all, relax, I go to one of my three favorite wellness-approved vacation destinations.
Sedona is a place that’s well worth the trip whether you’re lucky enough to live close by or if you’re coming from far away. Energetically, this is the most activated vortex in the world. We all have a field of energy and when we are in a place that’s in alignment with that energy it’s extremely healing.
- Hiking the red rocks, there are low and high-intensity hikes perfect for any fitness level
- Meditation and prayer
- Moon and sungazing
- Disconnect from devices
- This is an amazing location for healers and energy workers—I always do a massage at Enchantment!
- Mariposa: Latin-inspired cuisine with a stunning view of the red rocks. All of the food and drinks are absolutely amazing.
- Mii Amo Cafe: This is a farm-to-table style restaurant that’s located at Enchantment spa. They use organic, locally sourced, delicious, ingredients. It’s truly one of my favorites!
Rocky Point or Puerto Penasco, Mexico
Whenever I’m in need of an ocean getaway, I love going to Rocky Point on the Sea of Cortez in Mexico. It’s just a few hours from our home and it’s so worth it. The ocean is incredibly cleansing, and not only are the beaches astoundingly beautiful, but there is so much to do here. We buy our produce beforehand and rent a condo so we can cook our own plant-based meals. When I want to indulge in a cocktail, I use clean, clear alcohol like vodka or gin, with lots of herbs and soda water.
- Swimming in the ocean at Encanto Beach
- Yoga on the beach
- Floating in the ocean—healing for not only your mind but also your nervous system and the salt is incredible for your body and skin
- Beach walks morning and night
- Cooking—here’s a link to my favorite refreshing and cleansing cabbage salad
Staycation At Home
Going away can be stressful, between the planning and packing, I often prefer to do a staycation instead and spend the weekend at home. I like to stock up on fresh, locally sourced fruits and veggies, turn off all of my devices, and take the weekend to relax without any obligations. I cannot stress enough how important it is that your home is always a sanctuary of comfort. Feng shui is key to creating this, I also suggest investing in quality, cozy bedding, and organizing your space so that your home is always a relaxing place you look forward to.
- Trying new recipes and cooking things we don’t typically make like paleo and gluten-free pizza
- When we’re not in the mood to cook, we order in from Flower Child
- Long walks morning and evening
- Swim and sit by the pool
- Find a good book—currently reading “Toxic: Heal Your Body From Mold Toxicity, Lyme Disease, Multiple Chemical Sensitivities, and Chronic Environmental Illness” by Neil Nathan.
It’s important that when we take a break from our daily routine, we make an intentional effort to replenish our mind, body, and soul. Wellness, while we travel, is just as important as wellness in our day to day lives, and if you can incorporate just a few of the tips I’ve shared, it will make your transition from vacation back into your everyday routine that much easier.
Digestion is a big issue for many of my patients. This can be difficult to regulate in your daily life, let alone while you travel.
Bloating, constipation and gas are common after sitting for an extended period of time, or while on vacation and indulging in new food, alcohol, or even a different water source. Another issue I see in my patients while traveling is anxiety and I find that these two conditions are often linked.
Here are a few of my favorite tips for common issues while traveling:
Water, water, and more water. I can’t stress enough how important it is to stay hydrated. Most digestion issues stem from not enough water (which is common after traveling on an airplane) and can clear up quickly with proper hydration.
- Stay especially hydrated a few days before you travel rather than after.
- Find a reusable water bottle that is NOT plastic. I like stainless steel or a glass bottle will also do!
Probiotic For Regularity:
A probiotic can help strengthen your gut flora and regulate your immune system. When the gut is unbalanced with unhealthy levels of certain bacteria, you are more susceptible to diarrhea and other health problems. Taking a daily probiotic can help keep your gut in check.
- Flora Max: Our clinic’s #1 best selling supplement.
- It’s vegetarian, gluten and dairy-free and contains 100 billion CFU per capsule.
- No refrigeration necessary so it’s great for traveling.
- Take one capsule per day.
Magnesium For Constipation:
Constipation is common when traveling and can cause a lot of discomfort.
- Breathing exercises like this one called “Breath Of Fire” is great for easing anxiety that can often trigger constipation.
- Papaya is another fiber rich food known to relieve constipation, and its seeds are anti-parasitic, so they’re great for adding to a smoothie.
- Mag Citrate: A magnesium supplement we carry that’s great for promoting regular bowels and relaxing the nervous system.
- Take 2-4 capsules at night.
Prevent & Treat Food Poisoning
New cuisine is fun to try, but it can also cause your body stress when you’re not used to consuming it.
- Hista-X: A histamine blocker that protects against exposure to foods you may not typically eat.
- These enzymes break down food in the digestion track and help prevent and treat an intestinal infection.
- Take two capsules a day.
Sun exposure is high in the summer and skin protection is crucial. There’s nothing worse than a sun burn on your first day of vacation. Too much sun is not only bad for your skin but it is also very dehydrating.
- Always wear a hat, preferably one with a wide-brim.
- Wear proper sunblock (SPF 30 or higher) that protects against UVA and UVB—I love this all-natural one from Coola.
- Apply and reapply sunblock LIBERALLY every two hours. You should use about a tablespoon on your face, which sounds like a lot, but that is what you need to make it effective.
As always, remember to have fun while you travel. Embrace the culture, take care of your body and trust the process.
Summer is the perfect time to plan a fun getaway, but there’s nothing worse than seeing your healthy routine fall by the wayside, leaving you depleted, off balance, and potentially sick.
So, how do you maintain good health while you travel, avoid sickness, and the need for a vacation after your vacation? Here are my tried and true travel tips for combating jet lag and sleep issues.
If you thought Arizona was dry, try airplane cabin air. At cruising altitude, the humidity level is just 10-20%. To put that in perspective, the Sahara Desert is 25% humidity. On average, your skin is most comfortable at 40-70%, so here’s how to avoid dehydration post flight.
- Have water at all times. Invest in a 32 oz. stainless steel water bottle like this one from Swell.
- Dehydration is caused by a loss of water and minerals, electrolytes replenish and fuel your body’s energy production.
- Ultima Replenisher is another supplement we sell at the clinic for essential minerals and electrolytes, they also come in convenient travel packets.
- No electrolytes? Try lemon water, it’s hydrating and cleansing for the system.
- I also advise skipping alcohol for the first 24 hours of your trip.
Move Your Body
Fluid retention is a common complaint after being sedentary for an extended period of time, so it’s best to get moving immediately after you arrive at your destination.
- A simple walk or a swim is great for blood flow and draining your lymphatic system.
- It’s also beneficial to walk barefoot if you’re by the beach to ground yourself and bring your body back into alignment.
Sleeping in a new space, climate or time zone can cause a disruption in your sleep pattern.
- Try not to sleep until the evening.
- Melatonin is a supplement that can help you reset, and ours is sustained release so it stays in your body for a full night’s rest.
- Magnesium is another great option for supporting quality sleep, calming your nervous system and also aids in healthy digestion.
Alkaline Your Body
When your body is in an alkaline state, you are less susceptible to illness. The body is always trying to maintain this state of balance, but travel or any disruption to your routine, can knock you out of balance. Avoid this by getting all your essential nutrients.
- I love a supplement from Antler Farms called Organic Greens powder, it’s a full serving of fruits and veggies that’s highly alkalizing.
Stay tuned for Part II next week! I’ll be discussing my favorite supplements and tips for healthy digestion, staying regular and sun safety while you travel and for everyday.
We bring our digital devices everywhere, and I mean, everywhere.
But is our constant scrolling really that harmful?
In moderation, blue light can be extra beneficial to our energy, alertness, mood and overall health. However, according to Harvard Health Letter, research shows that overstimulation from blue light impacts sleep and may contribute to the causation of cancer, diabetes, heart disease and obesity.
Breaking down blue light:
1. What is blue light?
Blue light is one of the shortest, highest-energy wavelengths.
2. Where is blue light?
Blue light can be found in natural sunlight. However, because of its low cost and high efficiency, blue light can also be found in nearly all digital devices like smartphones, tablets, laptops, smartwatches, clocks, tv’s and more.
3. What’s the problem with blue light?
In natural sunlight, blue and red light are always present together however, when blue light is emitted without red light, like in digital devices, it wreaks havoc on our health, especially our sleep. Why? Because our bodies weren’t made for round-the-clock blue light.
How does blue light impact sleep?
1. Circadian Rhythm
Overstimulation due to blue light, significantly impacts sleep and alters our circadian rhythm, or sleep cycle, because it tricks the body into believing it’s daytime when it’s not. This causes a delay in the body’s internal clock and decreases our highest quality sleep, REM.
2. Hormone Production
High amounts of exposure to blue light also impacts the production of essential hormones, like melatonin and leptin, that signal our body to wind down. Disrupting these hormones causes an increase in cortisol which can lead to insomnia. This increase also triggers the appetite, resulting in late night snacking, which can ultimately lead to significant weight gain and even heart disease.
3. Eye Health
Blue light can kill photoreceptor cells inside the eye which are responsible for converting light into signals that stimulate biological processes. Damage to these cells causes macular degeneration, which occurs when photoreceptor cells in the retina die. Our risk of this type of damage increases as we age and expose ourselves to more blue light.
What are some ways to limit exposure?
- No digital devices two hours before bedtime.
- Take digital devices out of the bedroom and purchase an alarm clock with gradual glowing light.
- Opt for light dimmers or replace bulbs with blue-light free alternatives like these.
- Protect your eyes with a pair of blue-light blocking glasses.
- Use blue light screen protectors on your tablet, laptop and phone.
- Incorporate melatonin into your nightly routine.
- Get outside for natural light.
- Reset your circadian rhythm with a (device-free) weekend camping trip.
Digital detox doesn’t have to be brutal. One of my favorite ways to recharge is connecting with nature and camping is a great way to do this. Waking with the sun and winding down with the moon, naturally resets the body.
So enjoy the outdoors this summer, reset your sleep cycle and recharge for what’s ahead—your mind and body will thank you!
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