Detoxing and Weight Loss

The obesity epidemic is still increasing, but the efforts to lose weight are declining. Weight loss is rarely successful when done in the traditional manner of trying to simply consume fewer calories, and many are simply giving up hope! Obesity is associated with an increase in all health problems, and is a very serious matter.

It’s now becoming apparent that gaining a healthy gut microbiome – having a healthy balance of bacteria in the intestines – is essential for the successful and permanent loss of excess body fat. As well, dealing with the high body burden of environmental toxicants is equally important for permanent weight management. Environmental pollutants actually alter metabolism so that fat is accumulated, which is why they are now labeled “obesegens.”

Successful weight loss and maintenance of a healthy weight requires detoxing the body, improving gut health, getting proper sleep to nurture our Circadian Rhythm, managing stress, increasing physical activity, and having all essential nutrients onboard so as to enable the body’s metabolic machinery to function optimally – to successfully burn fat!

This isn’t a simple process, but it is worth the effort – as living a life of optimized health brings with it a level joy and exuberance otherwise unattainable!

Read more here:  http://time.com/4692274/americans-lose-weight-obesity/

Helpful Hints to Ward Off the Flu: Your Flu Shot Alone Isn’t Going to be Enough to Keep You Healthy

It’s here—flu season. Scientists do their best job trying to anticipate which variants of influenza will strike and they create the flu shots for the upcoming onslaught of germs. However, they don’t know how effective it is until the first cases of flu start showing up and they can compare reality to their predictions. The statistics are in, and the vaccine has been deemed 48% effective.

Don’t despair, however, there are additional measures you can take to boost your immunity and help keep you healthy.

Take N Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) daily in the dose of 600-900 mg twice a day, and three time a day if you’re exposed! NAC has been repeatedly shown to assist in preventing flu by reducing the virus’ ability to replicate inside of your body. Additionally, NAC also reduces an inflammatory response once you are exposed. This results in less severe symptoms should you become ill.

Be sure to eat a whole foods diet with lots of vegetables! Get enough sleep! Try a diffuser with orange oil; it is quite useful at killing airborne viruses. As always, wash your hands if touching surfaces which may be contaminated. (Door handles, light switches, countertops, etc) And think positive thoughts!

If you do get sick – come see us right away for additional therapeutic modalities!!

We’ve many suggestions to help you recover faster!

Flu Vaccine 48 Percent Effective This Year, CDC Says

Bloomberg News (2/16, Cortez) reports the flu vaccine has been 48% effective so far this season, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Brendan Flannery, an epidemiologist at the CDC’s influenza division, said, “The 48 percent overall is not as good as we would like to see for flu vaccine, but the protection we see is significant.”

       Medscape (2/16, Brooks) reports CDC officials said that “elevated” influenza activity is expected to continue for several more weeks in some parts of the US. Lenee Blanton of the CDC’s Influenza Division said in the report that influenza activity began to pick up in mid-December and has been “elevated” since February 4.

Why Breastfeeding is Good for You and Your Baby

A wonderful article was published last week in the Journal of Women’s Health, relating the most obvious, yet not recognized fact – breastfeeding is really good for the woman doing the nursing.

This particular article states that women who breastfeed for at least a year, significantly lower their risk for cardiometabolic diseases. Considering that February is Heart Awareness month, that’s especially welcome news. As you may know, heart attacks and strokes are the leading killers of women, by far, and at aged we really don’t wish to contemplate. Women so often think they are “bullet proof” for cardiovascular problems, and that is so far from the truth.

So … why do you think that doing a lot of breast feeding would lower your chance of having a stroke or heart attack anyway?

I guess that the answer may not strike you as obvious. Well … the article doesn’t touch on the subject, so here are my thoughts. I’ll number them!

  1. Women who breastfeed have lower stress hormones
  2. Women who breast feed tend to lose the weight gained during pregnancy better
  3. The hormones of breastfeeding, prolactin and oxytocin do wonderful things for your heart, your immune system, and your mood
  4. Women who breastfeed have less overall inflammation
  5. Women who breast feed tend to eat a healthier diet, as they are eating for the baby as well
  6. Genes are turned on and off by breast feeding in such a way to give the woman a better overall health status

Well… Let me know what you think are the reasons that breastfeeding lowers cardiovascular risk!

The one thing I do know for absolute sure is that we are destined to be healthier when we live in accordance with nature’s laws for us. If we live in tune with our female rhythms, we will live better lives … healthier, happier, and likely longer! We are what we are … we are designed and programmed to make babies and breastfeed.

You don’t have to do that, but be aware that your female body was designed for that!

Just recognize that we are genetically programmed to be reproductive females … like it or not … at least know inside that is nature’s plan! And at the very least … chose food from nature to eat!! Enjoy!!

How Much Exercise is Needed to Maintain Weight Loss?

I have some bad news and some good news. But, as always, the bad news comes first.

If you have lost a significant amount of weight, it will undoubtedly be harder for you to maintain your new weight than it is for someone of the exact same weight and body composition who was never overweight.

What do I mean by this? Let’s assume that you’ve just lost 50 pounds and now weigh 150 pounds with 30% body fat – a reasonably “good” percentage for someone your age. Your friend, who may or may not have PCOS, also weighs 150 pounds with the same percent body fat. For ease of comparison, we will assume that you also do the same amount of daily physical activity – you sit, you walk, you sit some more – pretty typical for the twenty-first century.

Let’s guesstimate that your resting metabolic rate (the number of calories you burn, if you’re sitting at rest all day) is around 1500 – we multiply your bodyweight in pounds by 10 for a rough estimate. Then we multiply that by 1.6 to account for the additional calories you burn from a day’s worth of average physical activity for a total of 2400 calories per day.

Here’s the problem. Your friend can eat her 2400 calories per day and her weight bounces up and down the normal 2-3 pounds, but long term it stays the same. You, on the other hand, for reasons we don’t fully understand, can only eat 1900 calories per day to keep from gaining weight. If you eat the same diet as your friend, you’ll gain an extra pound every week (500 calories per day x 7 days = 3500 calories, which is the energy content of a pound of fat) and within a year will have regained every pound you lost.

You didn’t overeat; your body has simply become super-efficient and now under-burns calories. This is exactly what the Persistent metabolic adaptation 6 years after “The Biggest Loser” competition study showed us. Contestant metabolic rates averaged 500 calories per day lower than similar sized people who had never lost weight.

It doesn’t seem fair, but that’s the way it is. This problem is further compounded by the fact that when you’re only eating 1900 calories per day, you will most likely be hungry almost all the time. Except in rare cases, your appetite center doesn’t adjust well to this fact and still expects to consume 2400 calories to maintain your 150-pound body. This is absolutely, unequivocally unfair, right?

So, what can you do? What’s the “good” news promised at the beginning?

It turns out that you can exercise the 500-calorie daily deficit away, rather than starving for the rest of your life. How much? Roughly an hour per day at moderate intensity – oh, come on, it’s not that bad! And the only side effect is that you’ll be even healthier than you ever imagined. In a future post, I’ll show you just how easy this can be.

Risks of Conventional Hormone Replacement Therapy

This is data from rats but shows that periodic, as opposed to continuous, treatment with estradiol, is protective for the brain from ischemic damage. This article urges research be done in human females to investigate a more physiological approach to estrogen therapy than what is currently being done.

This is what I absolutely believe – hormones must be replaced in a physiological manner for there to be maximum benefit and minimal negatives.

The conventional manner in which female hormones are given to menopausal women simply makes no sense, as it is not consistent with physiology. Women are cyclic, beautifully rhythmic creatures … not static ones … and must receive hormones consist with how they were designed for them.

I know I’m an outlier now, but time will bear me out. The functions of estrogen are well known and highly protective … and after menopause women suffer in varying degrees from hormonal deprivation. Yes … It is natural … but it is so very negative to a woman’s very being.

After menopause … women simply dry up! They can get dry eyes, dry bladders, dry vaginas, dry skin, dry arteries, dry brains, dry muscles, dry hearts, dry mouths, dry guts, dry bones, and on and on … And yes … I use the word dry a bit loosely … but it’s really quite close to the truth!!

Women must demand that proper research be done for them! Women are wondrous and rhythmic and should live their lives in harmony with nature!

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3625208/

Artificial Sweeteners Absolutely do not Belong in Your Food!

Most women with PCOS suffer with being overweight or obese, living in a constant battle with their weight and food. Many have binge eating disorder, some have bulimia, and some even have anorexia nervosa. With the exception of the weight problem, lean women with PCOS have most of the same issues as their heavier “sisters,” and should follow the same dietary rules, one of which is: absolutely no chemical sweeteners, or really, sweeteners of any sort!

In the desire to achieve good health, weight loss, or weight maintenance, many women with PCOS choose non-caloric sweetened foods and beverages (those containing chemical sweeteners with few or no calories) in the mistaken belief that these are wise and healthy choices.

Sadly, there is now clear evidence to the contrary. In fact, more and more data is clearly indicating that these nasty chemicals actually lead to further weight gain and insulin resistance, thereby increasing the risk of pre-diabetes and diabetes. Additionally, by disrupting the normal functioning of the gut microbiome (the bacteria that live in our gastrointestinal tracts) these sweeteners can foster cognitive decline, as well as increase anxiety and depression, worsen or initiate irritable bowel syndrome, and elevate the risk for problems affecting the cardiovascular and immune systems.

A likely reason for these terrible effects is the negative impact artificial chemicals have on the different species of gastrointestinal bacteria, upsetting their natural balance by suppressing the growth of some populations, which then allows for the overgrowth of others. These bacteria, collectively called the microbiota, play an enormous role in our metabolic, emotional, cognitive, immune, and cardiovascular states by producing metabolites and signaling molecules that are absorbed and then circulated throughout our bodies. Altering the microbiome alters the natural balance of these chemical messengers and metabolites, resulting in a host of ill effects which no one, and certainly not women with PCOS, can afford to deal with.

The take-away message is, as I see it, to avoid all processed foods, as they often contain chemicals harmful to our microbiome and other aspects of our health. Try hard to eat only real and unaltered food … the food your great, great grandmother could and would have eaten! And though she may on occasion have had a special sweet treat, try to avoid those as well, unless and until you regain the health and vitality you seek and deserve.

What’s for Dinner?

When you sit down at the table to eat, what do you think makes for a great meal?

My first rule of thumb is quite simple – all food must taste good and be good for you! Those rules simply cannot be broken. Next, once it meets those qualifications, it is really important that it is truly scrumptious. If given a choice, why go for food you don’t really love, and who doesn’t love to eat? Eating is one of the true joys of life, and it makes me, and actually everyone, happy and satisfied when eating wonderful food.

Second, we should think about nutrition – is the food we’re eating supporting our long-term health. If it isn’t, then we’re setting ourselves up for all the dangerous health consequences that plague PCOS women: obesity, pre-diabetes and type-2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and more.

And of course we will think about the toxin content of the food. Is it organic or not? What chemicals are contained in it or is it a processed food, which, by the way, I never will eat! And is it fresh and full of nutrients, or old and wilted.

Rarely, however, do we think about the food we eat in terms of feeding the 30-40 trillion (that’s right, trillion!) bacteria that inhabit our GI tract, call the gut microbiome. This is a lot more important than you might think, because the latest scientific research is telling us that these little fellows – who have been part and parcel of who we are for the past several million years – have an incredibly powerful impact on virtually every organ system in our bodies.

They help digest and process our food and create a vast range of metabolites that we absorb and use all over our bodies. They also produce neurotransmitters that control our feelings of anxiety and depression and also help regulate our blood glucose levels through several mechanisms – and that’s just scratching the surface.

So, the bottom line is: when you sit down to eat, remember that you’re not just eating for yourself, the 20-30 trillion (yup, there we go with the trillion again) human cells that make up your body, but also for the gazillion microbial guests, who are also seated at the table.

And exactly what, you may ask, would they like to eat?

Fortunately, the answer to this is relatively straightforward and not at all discouraging. They like to eat high-quality, whole foods, and they like variety. They love lots of vegetables, both above ground and root vegetables, and a slightly lesser amount of fruit, especially when they are organic and not tainted by residues of herbicides and pesticides. They prefer plant-based sources of protein (beans, lentils, quinoa, and amaranth) over animal-based sources and do well with good doses of the fatty acid, Omega 3. And please avoid simple sugars and sugar substitutes, as they are quite toxic to the microbiome. It is simply much better to be focusing on carbohydrates containing lots of fiber. Fiber is the foundational food for the microbiota which dwells within our gut.

If you give these single-cell companions what they want, they will reward you in spectacular ways. Your weight, blood pressure, body fat percentage, cholesterol levels, and fasting glucose level will drop, all of which will lead to substantial reductions in inflammation and oxidative stress. And, if you stay tuned to this blog, we’ll give you wonderful recipes and cooking advice that will make your new diet every bit as delicious as it is good for your health!

PCOS and Inflammation

There is a common thread which ties all women with PCOS together, whether they are over- or underweight, young or old. That link is INFLAMMATION – the driving force behind the ills afflicting all PCOS women.

Let me explain a bit about inflammation, how it develops, and how it can create havoc for women with PCOS. The inflammatory process begins during pregnancy as the fetus’ developing estrogen receptors are misprogrammed by the presence of toxic chemicals, such as bisphenol A, a powerful endocrine disrupting chemical found in plastics and thermal printing papers.Since estrogen receptors are present in virtually every cell of the female body, this bodes poorly for the development of proper metabolic functions, as it is estrogen which is the master of metabolism in the female body.

What does inflammation actually mean for the female body and why it is so bad?

Acute inflammation is a normal response to a trauma or an infection. This type of inflammation involves the activation of the innate immune system,which protects the body from invading organisms. This acute, short term inflammation is a normal and very important part of our immune defense system.

Unfortunately, there are times when inflammation becomes chronic, due to a malfunction and misdirection of the immune system. When this develops, bad things follow right behind. A key component of an acute inflammatory response is the activation of white blood cells, called macrophages. They then secrete substances called inflammatory cytokines and enzymes which act something like a natural acid.

The inflammatory cytokines include substances like tumor necrosis factor alpha, which, if produced in an uncontrolled fashion, leads to insulin resistance, elevated levels of glucose and insulin-like growth factor 1, and high production of testosterone. Also produced by macrophages are special enzymes, called matrix metalloproteinases, which are substances designed to kill invading bacteria and aid in the removal of dead tissue. Chronic production of these matrix metalloproteinases causes damage to body structures, such as the interior lining of arteries, which in turn leads to severe acne.

Estrogen is the ultimate controlling force behind the function of macrophages, and receptors for estrogen reside on these cells. When estrogen receptors are not properly developed, estrogen can no longer control the actions of macrophages. With control reduced in women with PCOS, macrophages run amok through the female body, doing much damage. They are perpetually in a state of high alert, ready to release inflammatory cytokines and myeloperoxidase, and they are more easily stimulated compared with immune cells in women without PCOS.

Much of the stimulation to the macrophages originates in the gastrointestinal tract, also known as the gut. Studies now show for the first time that women with PCOS have a more “leaky gut,” meaning that the single-cell barrier between the internal contents of the colon and the rest of the body is compromised. This allows inflammation-inducing particles within the colon, derived from the overgrowth of predominantly gram-negative bacteria called lipopolysaccharides (LPS), to pass through the colon wall and enter into the surrounding immune system, known as the gut-associated lymphatic system (GALT). Within the GALT reside those key cells – the macrophages – which are triggered by the LPS to release their inflammatory substances.

This is a short introduction to a very complex subject. In upcoming articles, I’ll explain more about what is happening within the gut, and I’ll also dive further into the story of inflammation as the driving force behind the suffering of women with PCOS and how to “tame the flames of PCOS!”

How PCOS affects Depression and Anxiety

January is a month when many feel the effects of the holiday season coming to a sudden end. The decorations must all be put away; there is often a big mess of discarded wrappings to deal with, thank you notes calling to be written, and health resolutions to write… and often times to discard quite quickly. For many, unfortunately, January is a “down-mood” month, one with long, cold days and long, dark nights, when we are often faced with a stark reality, without the joyous festivities to hide behind!

And for those with PCOS, to add to the general “down-ness of January,” is the fact that mood disorders are increased in women with PCOS compared to women without this condition. In fact, all women with PCOS, at all times of the year, should have an initial evaluation to include assessment of mental health disorders. The prevalence of depression in women with PCOS is high and varies from 28 to 64%, and the prevalence of anxiety in women with PCOS ranges from 34-57%

In recent years, the complex relationship between PCOS and psychosocial issues has come to the forefront, with a prominent link found between specific features of PCOS and mental well-being, including the impact of infertility, hirsutism, and acne on mood. The fact that many women with PCOS experience menstrual dysfunction, hirsutism and obesity, along with cystic acne, creates a situation which can clearly result in profound psychosocial distress. In one interesting study from South Asia, they found that in comparing hirsutism and obesity, the most depression was related to the presence of hirsutism. The scientific literature now shows clearly that anxiety levels, psychological distress, depressive feelings, and social fears are all markedly higher in the population of women with PCOS.

The reasons for the increased vulnerability of depression and anxiety in women with PCOS as well as for PCOS women to develop psychiatric disorders are still unclear, but in addition to the negative mood reactions to the visible symptoms of PCOS, there are others which likely involve several pathways independent of the visible symptoms of PCOS, such as obesity, acne, and hirsutism. In one study of 300 women, nearly a third had anxiety, and quality of life was lowest in those with a combination of stress and depression.

Stress is one of the common mechanisms that induce psychological disorders. This occurs via the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and involves circadian rhythms. With significant stress, there is alteration of the HPA axis and disruption of the circadian rhythm, altering the functional relationship of the brain with the endocrine systems, resulting in adverse impacts on health. Women with PCOS have a higher level of sympathetic output from their adrenal glands. They tend to have higher outputs of cortisol and adrenaline, and to have dysfunctional melatonin, and therefore more inflammation and poorer sleep.  The higher levels of cortisol and adrenaline make those women more prone to anxiety and sleep dysfunction, adversely affecting mood.

Women with PCOS have an exaggerated response by the sympathetic nervous system, with a heightened response to negative stimuli compared with non-PCOS women. They have an abnormally increased cortisol response to physical and psychological stressors which cannot be explained by their BMI, increased percent of body fat, fasting insulin, or elevated androgen levels. Indeed, there is an independent and inherent mechanism exaggerating the stress response, in a negative way, for PCOS women. Additionally, there is evidence of an increased incidence of eating disorders and suicidal behavior among PCOS women. Sadly, they are at an increased risk of social phobia and suicide attempts.

But none of this means that women with PCOS can’t have full and wonderful lives. All this means is that it must be recognized that PCOS women have an added risk for adverse reactions to normal stressors and are more prone to anxiety and depression. Therefore, more active and proactive management is necessary. Women with PCOS need to cultivate coping mechanisms, and there are many to choose from. The maintenance of the emotional well-being of women with PCOS needs more nurturing than what is needed for the average woman. But with such support, every woman with PCOS can achieve mental, emotional, and spiritual health.

The ways to achieve emotional happiness are many, and all can be combined to satisfy each individual woman’s unique needs. Some of the effective methods are the varying forms of meditation, hypnosis, the Emotional Freedom Techniques, including tapping, Tai Chi, Chi Gong, yoga, massage, baths, acupuncture, cognitive behavioral therapy, essential oils, and my own personal favorite, guided imagery. I utilize several techniques for my own stress therapy, emphasizing baths, essential oils, and guided imagery, but all can be amazingly effective! Each woman must try out several and discover what works particularly well for her.

If you feel especially down or stressed, be sure to seek assistance and find your personal path to emotional, spiritual, and mental wellbeing. Do not delay even a minute getting help if you have any tendencies towards self-harm!! Please contact me if you are seeking PCOS medical care and do not know where to turn.

*This is a repost of a guest post Dr. Gersh orginally posted on PCOS Diva at: Depression and Anxiety in Women with PCOS http://pcosdiva.com/2015/12/depression-and-anxiety-in-women-with-pcos/

What is the condition known as PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome)?

PCOS incorporates the word, SYNDROME! When that word is linked with a condition, it basically means that no one really knows why someone would develop it, and, as well, it has a great variety of ways it can manifest itself.  PCOS is therefore, a highly individualized condition, resulting from each woman’s unique genetic make-up, along with her mode of delivery at birth, whether or not she was breastfed, her exposures to a variety of chemicals which can act as endocrine disruptors, her nutritional status, her sleep patterns, her exposure to antibiotics and vaccines, her stress levels, and more. Essentially, it is a very complex and variable condition!

Many choices you make can affect how you experience PCOS, which symptoms you get, and how severe they may be. Some women struggle with irregular or no periods at all; some have acne; most struggle with excessive weight gain, while others easily maintain very slim figures. Infertility is a common complaint while thinning scalp hair and excessive growth of facial hair plague other women. And women with PCOS all have elevated risks for developing various cancers, diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, cardiovascular disease, anxiety and depression, and problems with sleep. PCOS is, at its very heart, a condition characterized by universal insulin resistance and systemic inflammation, regardless of whether the woman is obese or thin. Inflammation is a driving force of the condition.

In fact, since PCOS was first described by Drs. Stein and Leventhal in 1935, physicians throughout the world have debated with defining the syndrome. Today, there are three closely related sets of criteria (NIH, Rotterdam, and AE-PCOS Society) and all revolve around the following issues: infrequent or no menstrual periods, polycystic ovaries (many very small cysts surrounding the core of the ovaries), excessive production of androgens (hormones found in males such as DHEAS and testosterone), and the elimination of other known causes for these symptoms. PCOS is by far the most common endocrine disorder suffered by women around the world, affecting up to 25% of all reproductive-aged women.

Lest you become too distraught over all of these realities, there is a brighter side.  There are things you can and should do, along with choices you can make, all of which will ameliorate your symptoms and transform your life for the better.

And that will be the focus and driving force for this blog – transforming lives such as yours, and creating happiness. The dialogue we will have together will focus on concrete ways to make your life as wonderful and rewarding as it should be, despite your PCOS!

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