• Estrogen Dominance

    22 May 2019
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    Estrogen dominance is understood by most women to take place throughout (and after) menopause, but the truth is that we are seeing a rise in the condition at a much younger age – and not only in women. What could be causing this steady increase in hormonal disruption in both genders?

    You don’t have to look far for the answer. Research is placing blame on numerous unhealthy environmental factors:

     1. Poor Diet:  A diet full of chemicals from commercially raised meat, pesticides, produce containing herbicides, and processed foods drastically raises the levels of xenoestrogenic molecules and puts the body into an estrogen dominant state.

    2. Obesity:  Fat cells have an enzyme that converts adrenal steroid hormones into estrogen.  The greater the percentage of body fat one has the more this conversion takes place.  

    3. Heavy Metals: Mercury, lead, aluminum, and other heavy metals block the liver and lead to poor toxin filtration and increased estrogenic molecules. (Consider your dental fillings and braces as sources)

    4. Nerve Stress: The spine and nervous system can be blocked or interfered with, causing elevated cortisol levels. This steals pregnenolone which leads to lowered progesterone levels. (A chiropractor can help!)

    5. Liver Issues: The liver is in charge of neutralizing and filtering xenoestronic molecules, but cannot due so when estrogen levels are lowered. 

    6. Blood Sugar Levels: Poor blood sugar control leads to elevated insulin and cortisol.  These factors encourage estrogen release and lead to deficiencies in key nutrients like magnesium, vitamin C, and B6 which neutralize bad estrogen metabolites in the liver.

    7. Hormone Replacement Therapy: A prescribed hormone replacement is simply a synthetic toxic estrogen that damages the DNA and increases risk of cancer. 

    8. Caffeine: Caffeine consumption increases estrogen secretion and leads to depletion of key nutrients like magnesium, vitamin C, and B vitamins that are necessary for the process of neutralizing bad estrogen metabolites in the liver.

    9. Chemicals: Plastics, cleaners, makeup, lawn fertilizer, pesticides, hygiene products, etc… all can cause an increase in estrogen.

    10. Poor Sleep and Stress: These increase adrenal burn-out.

    Estrogen and progesterone are the two main sex hormones that women have. Estrogen is responsible for female physical features and reproduction. Men have estrogen, too, and are at risk for estrogen dominance, especially with the SAD (Standard American Diet), exposure to estrogen in water, and other environmental possibilities. 

    Estrogen is produced mainly in the ovaries and progesterone is produced predominantly by the corpus luteum, which is the outside lining of a mature egg after ovulation. As egg quality declines in perimenopause, so does the quality of the corpus luteum, leading to lower progesterone levels and relative estrogen dominance. Likewise, many perimenopausal women are periodically anovulatory, which means that estrogen goes unopposed during those cycles. This is why many women associate estrogen dominance with menopause.

    For many reasons though, your body can make too little or too much estrogen. Or, you can take in too much estrogen – through birth control pills. 

    Estrogen dominance can be identified with the following:

    1. Abnormal menstrual periods
    2. PMS symptoms
    3. Mood swings
    4. Depression
    5. Anxiety
    6. Loss of sex drive
    7. Sluggish metabolism and/or weight gain
    8. Fatigue
    9. Poor concentration
    10. Hair loss
    11. Thyroid imbalances
    12. Sleep disturbances
    13. Breast swelling and tenderness
    14. Fuzzy thinking
    15. Irritability
    16. Loss of ambition
    17. Water retention
    18. Insomnia

    Cancer is one of the scariest outcomes of estrogen dominance.  The American Cancer Society estimates one in three women will develop some type of cancer in her lifetime. Breast cancer rates have increased from one in 20 in 1960 to one in eight today, though the rates have slowed since the 1990s. The connection between excess estrogen and certain cancers is clear.

    Harmful estrogens are difficult to detoxify and are stored in fat. Obesity is linked to breast cancer. Women with a higher body mass index have elevated hormone levels. 

    By reducing BMI, a woman can lower her estrogen levels, along with most other troublesome hormone levels. 

    To restore proper balance to the hormonal system: 

    • Eat a diet full of organic whole foods and fiber and get at least five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables each day.
    • Decrease any chronic stress.
    • Support adrenal and thyroid glands.
    • Restore digestive imbalances.
    • Decrease exposure to xenoestrogens.
    • Decrease use of alcohol and nicotine.

    Within men, low testosterone levels are triggered by increases in estrogen levels. Men will gain weight, experience moodiness and irritability, and get bloated. Men also need to feed their bodies well, helping to increase their testosterone levels.

    When trying to rebalance hormone levels, there are many things to consider. Working with a natural-minded doctor may help you reach your desired end goal without medical intervention. 

    You may want to consider the following:

      • Saunas
      • Exercise
      • Reduce stress levels
      • Lose excess weight
      • Increase water intake
      • Use clean/organic/natural personal care and beauty products
      • Avoid hormonal birth control

    While on this journey, your meal planning will also change. The foods you want to include are:

      • Broccoli
      • Kale
      • Brussels sprouts
      • Bok choy
      • Collard greens
      • Cauliflower
      • Cabbage
      • Turnips
      • Napa cabbage
      • Wasabi
      • Broccoli
      • Cauliflower
      • Cabbage
      • Bok choy
      • wild caught fish
      • nuts
      • seeds.

    You should avoid the following:

    • Soy & soy products – These include tempeh and tofu.
    • Foods high in pesticides
    • Meat and dairy where hormones are used.
    • Wheat and grains
    • Food additives
    • Alcohol 
    • Tap Water
    • BPA
    • Phthalates
    • Birth control pills

    Supplements to consider:

    • Milk thistle
    • Alpha lipoic acid
    • Diindolylmethane (DIM)
    • Passionflower
    • Omega-3 fatty acids
    • Maca
    • Vitamin B6, B12, Folate

     

    References:

    https://www.pacificcollege.edu/news/blog/2016/01/14/addressing-estrogen-dominance-perimenopausal-women-using-tcm

    https://www.hormone.org/hormones-and-health/hormones/estrogen

    https://www.naturopathic.org/content.asp?contentid=401

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/870192

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10702625

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5336249/

    http://projects.hsl.wisc.edu/SERVICE/modules/25/M25_CT_Estrogen_Dominance.pdf

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19250192

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3039007/

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29040973

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12840226

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  • Your Daily Dose of Apple Cider Vinegar

    1 May 2019
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    Apple Cider Vinegar is among the most healthy things you can drink daily to support your body and help with your overall health. While it makes for a great salad dressing, it’s uses reach far passed the kitchen. If you aren’t currently ingesting 1-2 tablespoons of an organic, raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar each day, you may want to start.  Research worldwide supports the amazing properties of this natural vinegar.

    I was working with a patient awhile ago when the topic of Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) came up. It has been around for centuries and was used to treat illnesses like Croup well before our days. We talked about why ACV is not a more well-known remedy or household supplement anymore. Over the years, new and expensive medicines stepped in and brainwashed our society against all the natural home remedies that had been working wonderfully to that point. ACV then became a secret of the grandmothers. 

    However, tides are changing, and people of all ages and stages of life are looking to better their lives through diet and natural supplements. Apple Cider Vinegar is reentering the spotlight, and with great reasons.

    The Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar

    Apple Cider Vinegar is made by fermenting apple cider – with the naturally occurring yeast and bacteria included in the end result. The resulting liquid has converted the sugars first to alcohol then to acetic acid. The fermentation process means that apple cider vinegar ends up full of health-promoting probiotics and enzymes. It contains pectin, acetic acid, malic acid, live enzymes, amino acids, and many other beneficial nutrients.

    Healthy Weight/Belly Fat

    One of the compounds found in ACV is acetic acid, which helps suppress the buildup of body fat, keeping the stomach from feeling and looking bloated. This can also help you feel fuller, causing you to eat fewer calories and lower your overall Body Mass Index (BMI).

    Healthy Gut/Happy Stomach

    Organic, unfiltered, raw apple cider vinegar retains the ‘mother’ which makes the vinegar have a cloudy appearance. The mother is the natural occurring pectins and proteins which aid in helping break down food in the digestive tract by stimulating the natural gut enzymes. The high acetic acid content of ACV balances pH within the body.

    Many gastrointestinal symptoms including gas, bloating, nausea, and diarrhea can be lessened with the help of the antibacterial, anti-fungal, and antimicrobial properties of ACV. These same properties have also been proven to combat food poisoning.

    Diabetes (Type 1 and 2)

    Hyperglycemia (raised blood sugar levels) is a common symptom of diabetes. The anti-glycemic effect of acetic acid decreases blood sugar levels. One study found ACV improved fluctuation of insulin levels in people with both type 2 diabetes or insulin resistance. 

    Autoimmune Disease

    If you suffer from a known autoimmune disease, ACV may help you reclaim your daily life. While there is no known cure for AI Diseases, reducing inflammation is key to reduce the pain and symptoms, and ACV contains antioxidants that can do just that.

    Sore Throat and Illness

    Most germs can’t survive in the environment ACV creates. A simple mix of 1/4 cup ACV with 1/4 cup warm water can be gargled every hour or so to fight off a sore throat.

    Consuming ACV daily boosts the immune system, too.

    Skin 

    Acetic acid can be used as an alternative to antibiotic cream. Bacterial infections have been shown to be fought off by ACV in a healthier manner than utilizing antibiotics. 

    ACV has the ability to reduce acne. Using it as a toner will allow the anti-fungal and antibacterial properties to cleanse the skin and prevent future breakouts.

     

    Ways to Utilize Apple Cider Vinegar

    Drink 1-2 tablespoons a day. Diluting your ACV with water will help cut the acidity and prevent any ware on your enamel. 

    Using a cotton ball, apply ACV topically twice a day. To prevent irritation, use an oil with the ACV— such as coconut oil or olive oil — and massage it into your skin whenever needed.

    Add ACV to your bath before bed. Add one cup of the vinegar to your evening bath and sit in the warm water for 20 to 30 minutes, allowing the skin to absorb the solution.

     

    References:

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19661687

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16696665

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25648676

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25219289

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9713753

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7796781

    http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/27/1/281.full

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8355236

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  • Is Your Child a Mouth Breather?

    17 April 2019
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    We all have a tendency to breathe through our mouths when our mouths are open. This, however, should never be how we receive the majority of our oxygen. Typically, adults only breathe through their mouths when there is inflammation or blockage (due to illness or sinus pressure) and it ends as the inflammation ends. There are the exceptions; those who are born or become mouth breathers in toddlerhood. These individuals tend to have problems throughout their lifetimes that can all be linked back to how they breathe.

    Structurally, the tongue no longer supports the maxilla (the upper jaw) if mouth breathing occurs. With the removal of this support, the roof of the mouth behind the maxilla will rise and cause congestion to the nasal passages. Mouth breathing can quickly dry out the mouth and decrease saliva production, even increasing the overall pH. Saliva is extremely important for neutralizing acid and helping to wash away bacteria, without it, the chance of tooth decay and cavities increases. 

    If braces have already been put in place on a mouth breather, the overall treatment plan will take longer and be more difficult. The spaces between the teeth will be more difficult to close and the stability of the alignment of will be compromised once the braces are removed.

    Not only does mouth breathing impact teeth, but it is linked to attention and focus deficiencies, behavioral issues, and speech impediments. When children breathe from an open mouth, they are more likely to struggle with certain speech sounds. The most commonly associated speech problem is a lisp, or the inability to say “S” sounds correctly. The type of swallowing pattern to produce this sound causes the tongue to protrude during speaking and swallowing.

    Mouth breathing has the ability to cause neuro-cognitive deficits and cardiovascular problems. It also impacts the facial growth and development. A child who breathes this way has a high chance of growing into an adult with flatter facial features, less prominent cheekbones, a longer face, droopier eyes and lower facial muscle tone, a narrower palate, and even a smaller and lower jaw than what she was originally designed to develop.

    The most well-known side effect though is sleep disordered breathing. It can be defined as an upper airway resistance syndrome to obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) with secondary growth impairment, but in common terms it is known as a form of sleep apnea, snoring, or just plain open-mouth breathing during sleep. Less oxygen is taken in during the night by a mouth breather, and when less oxygen is able to reach the brain, the ability to focus throughout the day becomes a problem, as does learning. This can also lead to chronic fatigue, tiredness, and brain fog.

    What if Your Child is a Mouth Breather?

    If you are noticing that your young child’s mouth is always open throughout the day and/or over night as she sleeps, it is a red flag to stop and dig a little further into the situation. If she is not sick and this is her normal sleep habit or every day breathing method, you will want to bring it up with your pediatrician, chiropractor, or doctor of choice. 

    The most common reasons for chronic mouth breathing include:

    • Anterior tongue tie
    • Posterior tongue tie
    • Tongue placement habits
    • Enlarged tonsils
    • Enlarged adenoids
    • Food allergies
    • Environmental allergies
    • Underdeveloped facial and cranial bones
    • Neuromuscular disease

    An infant’s facial and cranial development during pregnancy plays a large role in their breathing method. Undesirable positioning in utero, birth trauma, or nutritional deficiencies created in utero, can impact development of the cranial and facial bones in a negative manner. With 85% of the nasal airway in the maxilla, this underdevelopment can be the root of a mouth-breaker’s issues. Working with therapists and utilizing chiropractic care together can provide a foundation for a lifetime of better breathing.

    Depending on the cause of your child’s mouth breathing, one of the following may be suggested:

    • Tongue tie clip
    • Adenotonsillectomy
    • Rapid maxillary expansion
    • Distraction osteogenesis 
    • Continuous positive airway pressure

    However, before agreeing to surgery, contact a local Myofunctional Therapist. The specialized therapist can retrain your child to breathe properly through her nose with exercises and routines, preventing surgery and a lifetime of chronic problems.

    It is important to note that research has found that children who lead a life at an obese weight are more prone to experiencing an onset and reoccurrence of mouth breathing and the effects it can cause. Help your child lead her healthiest life by providing high quality foods and ample time to burn energy.

     

    References:

    https://www.rdhmag.com/articles/print/volume-35/issue-02/features/mouth-breathing-for-dummies.html

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19527603

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24482309

    https://askthedentist.com/mouth-breathing/

    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100406125714.htm

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4295456/

    https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/sleep-newzzz/201302/the-risks-sleep-disordered-breathing-in-children

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  • Swimming Pools, Chlorine Dangers, and the Need to Detox

    4 April 2019
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    Chlorine is a necessary evil; it is a needed chemical to keep swimming pools ‘clean.’ But at what costs?

    It is basically unavoidable this time of year, and with months of heat left, the pools will still beckon us.

    Summer is upon us, and I am seeing more and more families come in for adjustments in their swim gear, either to or home from the pool. I have also had several patients complain of more frequent headaches, body aches, fatigue or a summer cough that they can’t shake. I immediately assume it’s dehydration and recommend increase water intake, more sleep, and less time in the sun. But then I started thinking a bit more. The lingering smell of chlorine on my own child, and within my office sent me researching. The results: Chlorine could be doing more damage than we ever realized.

    We know that chlorine is toxic. It is a poison. I preach about drinking and cooking with filtered water, and no one I know would ever purposely drink chlorinated water. But yet, we swim in it without a second thought. What is a parent to do?

    Obviously, we cannot ensure that all pools we enter are saltwater pools, although that would be ideal. We also cannot avoid the pool altogether. Children are drawn to water, and it is a hot summer out there. But that chlorine smell that seems to overwhelm the nose and sting the eyes, it is linked to quite a few scary things:

    • Asthma
    • Breathing Problems
    • Skin Rashes
    • Eye Irritation
    • Nausea/Upset Stomach
    • Sinus Problems
    • Fatigue
    • Dehydaration
    • Coughing
    • Dry Skin/Hair
    • Cancer* (rectal and bladder cancers): The heightened risk is linked to exposure to a contaminant found in chlorinated water called Trihalomethanes (THMs) which forms when chlorine reacts with organic material. THMs are a widely recognized carcinogen.

    *After 40 minutes of swimming, swimmers show an increase in markers of DNA damage that can lead to cancer.

    Sunscreen, sweat, and urine, along with other fluids mix with the chlorine to cause over 100 different types of chemical byproducts (known as chloramines), many of which are extremely toxic. Chlorine’s chemical byproducts can get into the body through the skin. Exposure also comes from breathing air at the surface of the water, where chemicals become volatile. While swimming, individuals breathe faster and harder ending up with even more exposure to the chemicals and toxins.

    Chloramines can be breathed from outside of the water too, especially at an indoor swimming pool.

    The CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics both recognize the dangers that come from chlorine and chloramine exposure. It has been found that children with chronic health issues, such as asthma, autism, adhd, and other daily struggles, tend to feel the effects of the chloramines faster and more intense than those without these struggles, but absolutely anyone can be affected.

    BUT IT IS SUMMER!  IT IS HOT!  THE KIDS NEED TO SWIM!

    I hear you loud and clear. I am not saying to avoid the pool. There are ways to help neutralize the effects of chlorine on the body and detox from exposure:

    • Vitamin C Powder/Tabs: Vitamin C is proven to neutralize and undo the damage of chlorine and chloramine exposure. Mixing a high quality powder version of the vitamin into a glass of water to drink will help the body detox from the inside out, while adding the powder to a spray bottle of water and applying to the skin immediately after swimming neutralizes the toxins and encourages the body to detox them quickly.
    • Vitamin C Powder is Sunscreen: While sunscreen will not protect from chlorine, it can act as a slight barrier. With Vitamin C mixed into it, sunscreen can act as a protectant. This can be an important step if swimming is happening often!
    • Epsom Salt Bath: Filling a bath tub with warm water and adding Epsom salts help to relax the muscles and pull toxins from the body. Sitting in the water for 15-30 minutes is all the body needs to feel like itself again.
    • Take a Supplement:  Take 1 capsule of a high-quality Taurine (I recommend Thorne brand) the morning before swimming. As an amino acid, taurine helps to bind and detoxify chlorine. Taurine should remain in your system for 48 hours.

     

    Enjoy your summer!

     

    Resources:

    http://oem.bmj.com/content/58/6/399.short

    http://journals.lww.com/corneajrnl/Abstract/2008/01000/Deleterious_Effects_of_Swimming_Pool_Chlorine_on.6.aspx

    http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/124/4/1110.short

    http://erj.ersjournals.com/content/32/4/979.short

    http://rc.rcjournal.com/content/49/3/291.short

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0043135412001200

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1438463907001253

    http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/124/4/1110?sso=1&sso_redirect_count=5&nfstatus=401&nftoken=00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000&nfstatusdescription=ERROR%3A%20No%20local%20token&nfstatus=401&nftoken=00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000&nfstatusdescription=ERROR%3a+No+local+token

    https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/2012/05/how-to-reduce-the-risk-from-swimming-in-chlorinated-pools-and-drinking-chlorinated-water/

     

     

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  • The Benefits of Hugging

    20 March 2019
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    When was the last time you received a good hug? How about the last time you gave someone a good hug? 

    A hug only takes seconds, but most adults feel as though the act is too personal to share with others on a daily basis; however, this mindset needs to shift because science is showing us just how important a simple hug is. Research shows a proper deep hug, where the hearts are pressing together, can benefit you in many ways.

    Under high psychological stress, we are more likely to get sick. Knowing that a heartfelt hug can decrease stress levels, do you believe that hugs can help keep you stay physically healthy? Science believes this may be true, at least when it comes to the link between stress and illness. Researchers investigated the relationship of hugging, social support, and the probability of getting sick in 404 volunteers. The participants were called every evening for 14 days and asked if they had been hugged that day. There was a clear relationship with individuals who had been hugged more also feeling like they received greater social support. After the two weeks, the participants were invited to an isolated floor of a local hotel and were quarantined in separate rooms. The researchers gave them nasal drops containing a virus that caused common-cold-like illnesses. The results were amazing. How often somebody had been hugged clearly influenced their infection risk. Participants who had been hugged more had a decreased risk of infection, and out of those who were infected, those who had been hugged more had less severe symptoms. 

    Including hugs in your day is also linked to a happy lifestyle. We release the hormone oxytocin when touched, which elevates feelings of attachment, connection, trust, and intimacy. A 2018 study showed how hugs impact negative situations. Several hundred adults were called every night for two weeks and asked about conflicts with other people in their lives, whether they felt in a good or bad mood, and whether they had received one or more hugs that day. If participants received a hug on a day in which they had gotten into an argument with someone, the conflict appeared to lead to a smaller increase in bad mood. The hugs also had a protective effect, meaning that the participants who received a hug on one day and got into a fight the next day had experienced a smaller increase in bad mood than when not having received a hug the day before. Again, hugging has a huge impact on the psychological effects that stress causes.

    When you include hugging in your everyday life, you are benefitting in the following ways:

    • Lowering blood pressure, protecting against heart disease.
    • Balancing the nervous system.
    • Strengthening your immune system.
    • Encouraging honest, deeper connections.
    • Keeping you young and maintaining muscle strength.
    • Lowering stress levels.
    • Reducing feelings of pain
    • Boosting self-esteem.
    • Reducing feelings of depression.
    • Releasing tension and relaxing the muscles.
    • Providing the skin contact that bodies need to remain healthy.
    • Healing feelings of loneliness, isolation, and anger.
    • Increasing feelings of happiness. 

     

    Resources:

    https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0956797614559284?rfr_dat=cr_pub%3Dpubmed&url_ver=Z39.88-2003&rfr_id=ori%3Arid%3Acrossref.org&journalCode=pssa

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30281606

    http://www.cnn.com/HEALTH/9709/11/nfm.touch.stress/

    https://www6.miami.edu/touch-research/TRI%20Press/The%20Magic%20of%20Your%20Touch.pdf 

    http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/made-each-other/201005/dog-good

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  • The Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

    20 February 2019
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    Utilizing and burning stored body fat to produce energy throughout your day can aid in a more productive lifestyle, but it can also benefit your overall health and wellness. How can you convince your body to pull from its own stored fat, though? How can you get out of your daily slump? 

    Intermittent Fasting.

    Yes, fasting is an old tradition that seems to be making its comeback in today’s weight-loss trends; however, there is significant research showing us that science may support a smart and safe version of abstaining from food. Instead of purely starving the body, recent studies show that planned calorie restriction triggers a complex series of intricate events, including activation of cellular stress response elements, improved regulation on the cellular level, modification of apoptosis, and positive alteration in hormonal balance. Intermittent fasting is not only more acceptable to the body, but it also prevents some of the adverse effects of chronic calorie restriction, especially malnutrition

    Intermittent fasting is a term used to describe a variety of eating patterns in which no or few calories are consumed for time periods that can range from 12 hours to several days, on a recurring basis. Most research states the point of negative energy balance at which liver glycogen stores are depleted and fatty acids are mobilized is typically beyond 12 hours after food intake ends. This is why so many will recommend a 18:6 hour ratio, with 18 hours being fasting and 6 being calorie intake hours.

    While simply living the 18:6 hour ratio may work well, you can take it a step further and follow the eTRP (early time-restricted feeding) schedule with your meals. This plan includes eating early in the day to be in alignment with circadian rhythms in metabolism. A recent study followed pre-diabetic men during their 18:6 ratio of intermittent fasting, in which dinner always fell before 3:00pm. While weight loss was achieved, eTRF also improved insulin sensitivity, β cell responsiveness, blood pressure, oxidative stress, and appetite.

    Throughout a fast, your body initiates important cellular repair processes and changes hormone levels to make stored body fat more accessible. Blood levels of insulin drop significantly, which signals fat burning. Muscles grow and the blood levels of growth hormone can increase as much as 5-fold. The body is believed to be able to fight off illness faster and work toward cell repair, which leads to a longer life. There is an increase in the growth of new nerve cells, which should have numerous benefits for brain function (including preventing Alzheimers and Parkinson’s). The hours spent fasting provide the body needed time for cells to remove waste products.

    The enhanced hormone functioning that takes place during an intermittent fast triggers weight loss. Short-term fasting increases your metabolic rate by 3.6-14%, helping you burn even more calories, which aids in a quick weight loss. But the key is balance, and you must understand that any weight that is shed can be easily gained if you you do not follow through with lifestyle changes. 

    Something to note is that not only does weight loss occur, but intermittent fasting helps to diminish the belly fat that is linked to a multitude of health dangers.

    Intermittent fasting has also been shown to improve numerous risk factors, including:

    • blood pressure
    • total and LDL cholesterol
    • blood triglycerides
    • inflammatory markers
    • blood sugar levels

    (It has been noted that intermittent fasting may lead to decreased risk of cancer.)

    Transitioning into the fasting period can be done gently:

    • Stop eating at night at a specific time – such as 7pm, at least 2-3 hours before bedtime.
    • Wait a full 12 hours to break your fast. (the majority of the time was spent sleeping.)
    • You’ve had 2-4 hours of non-eating before bed and maybe 1 or less hours when you arise
    • Once you make it a habit, extend your fasting period until you hit the best balance that works for you. (18 hours shows the greatest researched benefits.)

    Remember that if you are sick or feeling off in any way, listen to your body and give yourself some slack on the day’s fasting goals.

     

    Examples of functional effects and major cellular and molecular responses of various organ systems to intermittent fasting.

     

    Profiles of circulating glucose and ketone levels over 48 hours in individuals with a typical American eating pattern or two different IF eating patterns. (a) In individuals who consume three meals plus snacks every day the metabolic switch is never ‘flipped’ and their ketone levels remain very low, and the area under the curve for glucose levels is high compared to individuals on an IF eating pattern. (b) In this example, the person fasted completely on the first day and then at three separate meals on the subsequent day. On the fasting day ketones are progressively elevated and glucose levels remain low, whereas on the eating day ketones remain low and glucose levels are elevated during and for several hours following meal consumption. (c) In this example the person consumes all of their food within a 6-hour time window every day. Thus, the metabolic switch is flipped on following 12 hours of fasting and remains on for approximately six hours each day, until food is consumed after approximately 18 hours of fasting.

     

    References:

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29754952

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/156404

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC329619/ 

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12425705

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3106288/

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2622429/

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2405717

    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S193152441400200X

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21410865

    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0104423013000213

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21106691 

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29063418

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5783752/figure/F3/

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29086496

     

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  • Crawling is More Than a Milestone

    6 February 2019
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    Between the age of seven to ten months, most babies begin to crawl on their hands and knees. This milestone is highly anticipated by parents, but it is more than just something to note in the baby book. 

    I am constantly telling my patients about the importance of crawling. New research is being published regularly that links certain developmental stages to brain growth and future learning abilities. As children crawl their brain is making more and more connections. Each connection is a solution to a problem that they have solved by, and with crawling. The more a baby crawls the more efficiently these connections become and the more automatic the skill becomes.  Crawling provides an opportunity to explore the surroundings, and as the skill becomes more intentional, a baby’s spatial skills also begin to develop and improve. (Spatial skills are the ability to locate objects in three dimensions using sight or touch.) 

    Research also shows that crawling facilitates the development of cognitive skills, including the skills that allow a child to locate an object by sight or touch. One study showed that children who were crawling on hands and knees were able to locate a hidden toy correctly more often than children who were not able to crawl in this typical fashion. 

    Crawling plays an important role in the development of spatial and cognitive skills. Some development experts call this stage the “psychological birth” of a baby because it spurs specific growth and refines many other skills. It increases hand-eye coordination, gross and fine motor skills, balance, and overall strength. 

    Unlike army-crawling (belly crawling), hands and knees crawling requires contra-lateral or cross-lateral movements. This simply means that opposite hand and leg move together – or “cross movements.” Doctor and author Carla Hannaford explains, “Cross lateral movements, like a baby’s crawling, activate both hemispheres (of the brain) in a balanced way. These activities work both sides of the body evenly and involve coordinated movements of both eyes, both ears, both hands and both feet as well as balanced core muscles. When both eyes, both ears, both hands and feet are being used equally, the corpus callosum orchestrating these processes between the two hemispheres becomes more fully developed. Because both hemispheres and all four lobes are activated, cognitive function is heightened and ease of learning increases. Additionally, with the spinal axis giving her an up and a down, she will now be able to move any way she wants – three dimensionally.”

    The cross midline ability plays a role in:

    • Spine rotation: a twisting coordination through the torso
    • Strengthening the lower back in preparation for standing and walking well
    • Preparing the ankles for the bending and straightening needed for walking
    • Strengthening hand-eye coordination

    Crawling also helps reshape the hip sockets to prepare for walking. But the research doesn’t stop there. The brain development that is taking place throughout this stage of infancy is linked to reading skills years down the road. When a baby crawls, her body acts against the weight of gravity, developing her vestibular and proprioceptive systems. When crawling, the baby touches different surfaces and textures and will develop the sensibility in her palms and fingers, allowing her to grasp and hold small objects (such as a pencil or crayon to draw, write, or play a musical instrument) in the future. This is extremely important for her neurological and cognitive development. All in all, crawling supports learning, creative problem solving, and overall brain function.

    If you are a new parent and want to help encourage your baby to crawl, remember that daily ‘tummy time’ is key to setting your baby up for success.

    Resources:

    http://icpa4kids.org/Wellness-Articles/baby-crawling-how-important-it-really-is/All-Pages.html

    https://www.greenchildmagazine.com/crawling-hands-and-knees/?fbclid=IwAR2KTtOwc5OxtVHaVbe9pIlx8Q9wjoXiIGZwPT6dnrxRhvTckib0nupyuPQ

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4059790/

    http://www.medcentral.org/Main/Whatssoimportantaboutcrawling.aspx

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  • The Powerful Benefits of Orgasms

    1 February 2019
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    Sex.

    It’s a powerful word, and one you may be surprised to read about on my blog. But the truth is that with Valentine’s Day coming up, I wanted to remind everyone to jump into bed with a significant other (or yourself!) and let the good times roll.

    All laughter aside, I really do want to discuss the benefits of regularly experiencing orgasms. In the busiest stage of life, couples tend to forego their own pleasure in lieu of a Netflix binge. But this behavior may be playing a larger pole in the overall declining health of our society. (Along with the medical, food, and exercise – or lack there of – choices, of course.)  

    We all know that sex can feel amazing. Orgasms can be mind-blowing. However, it may also just be so-so some of the time. That latter feeling is the one that typically tells you to just skip the sex and opt for a glass of wine instead. However, if you can get yourself out of the rut and back into the sack, your mind, body, and soul will thank you!

    The Benefits of Regular Orgasms

    Natural chemicals such as dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin are released during an orgasm, making us feel happy, flushed, warm, or sleepy. The hormone Oxytocin is also released during an orgasm. This hormone increases your happiness and relieves your stress by fighting against hormones like cortisol that can make you feel tired, old, and overall unwell. Oxytocin travels from the brain to the heart and throughout the entire body, triggering, or modifying a full range of physiological functions and emotions: happiness, attraction, love, affection, and even hatred after being stressed. It also plays a role in a wide variety of other physiological and pathological functions. 

    Orgasms Can Boost the Immune System

    Regular sex modifies and improves your immune system. Oxytocin lowers stress levels which means fewer colds and illnesses. Chronic stressors are associated with suppression of both cellular and humoral measures, meaning that unresolved stress can cause your immune system to stop fighting even the smallest of colds. Having sex twice a week is enough to increase your overall health. 

    Orgasms Can Fight Migraines and Headaches

    Orgasms can relieve migraine pain or cluster headaches, according to a 2013 study – however, achieving a full orgasm is necessary in alleviating the pain. This can be done by masturbating or with a partner, depending on what makes you feel the most comfortable during your pain.

    Orgasms Can Lower Blood Pressure

    There is a direct correlation between achieving orgasm and lowering blood pressure, in a positive manner. 

    Orgasms Can Increase Heart Health

    Not only does sex calm the mind, but it calms the body and reduces the work efforts put forth by your heart. Stress, anxiety, anger, and loneliness constrict your blood vessels and speed up your heart rate, increasing your risk for heart attack. Let Oxytocin lower your heart attack risks by having sex regularly.

    Orgasms Can Lower Anxiety

    In the high-stress world most moms (and all adults) are living in, anti-anxiety medications are being used at an all-time high. A 2010 study found that Oxytocin impacts your anxiety level in a positive manner, lowering anxiety immediately upon release. Perhaps sex may help lower our current statistics relating to stress and anxiety.

    Orgasms Can Improve Circulation

    Having sex improves circulation to organs in the pelvic cavity, delivering nutrients to the growing healthy tissue. 

    Orgasms Can Reduce Signs of Aging

    With every orgasm (and every time you are ‘turned on’) the body releases dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). DHEA is an anti-aging hormone that improves muscle strength, bone density, body fat, sexual satisfaction, and overall well-being. It tends to decrease in your twenties, but sex can help increase your levels.

    Orgasms Can Improve Sleep

    Oxytocin reduces cortisol levels, calming your mind so you can sleep better. Orgasms also release vasopressin, which accompanies the release of your neuroprotective hormone melatonin.

    Orgasms For Women

    Orgasms can regulate and keep your menstrual cycle healthy, even lessening the pain of your cramps.

    Orgasms For Men

    Research shows that men who regularly experience orgasms twice a week (or more) live longer than men who do not.

    Perhaps a little bit of sex each day can keep the doctor away?

     

    Resources:

    https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0333102413476374

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15316239

    https://www.bmj.com/content/315/7123/1641?goto=reply

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15053243

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25022952

    https://www.nature.com/articles/npp2010123?foxtrotcallback=true

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3183515/#ref37

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1361287/

    https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0333102413476374

    https://www.athenainstitute.com/sciencelinks/sexualbehaviorfrequency1979.html

    https://annals.org/aim/article-abstract/2653704/patterns-sedentary-behavior-mortality-u-s-middle-aged-older-adults

    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/10/151005132740.htm

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  • The Science and Benefits of Gratitude

    15 January 2019
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    You were raised to show gratitude, right? We all were, but yet, we all typically struggle with this seemingly easy task. We get caught up in the expectations and the business of life. As the new year gets underway, though, it is a wonderful time to truly understand the importance and benefits of gratitude.

    What is gratitude?

    Gratitude is the quality of being thankful, with readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. Gratitude is not an attitude in our mind. Feeling grateful is an internal experience of fullness and expansion in the heart, an expansion that spontaneously arises from the recognition of love, of goodness, and of grace. 

    When you accept gratitude into your lifestyle and let it become a true part of who you are at your core – which happens over time and with awareness of practicing gratitude – it actually will rewire your brain and provide unexpected benefits to your body. 

    Everyone has a gracious side. A 2009 study discovered that the hypothalamus (the part of our brain that regulates multiple bodily functions including our appetites, sleep, temperature, metabolism and growth) activates when we feel gratitude, or display acts of kindness. Leading a kinder life evokes a happier, higher functioning body. As we feel gratitude, the chemical dopamine is released in our brain. It doesn’t matter if we are grateful for a person, an item, or an experience, we are granted a ‘high’ similar to what people label a ‘runner’s high.’ This high is addicting and will pull us toward this feeling over and over again. This release of dopamine may also be responsible to reducing pain levels. Studies show that keeping a gratitude journal throughout a painful (physically, mentally, or emotionally) time can reduce the overall symptoms.

    As your brain is the first place that experiences the affects of gratitude, research confirms that appreciation effectively increases happiness and reduces stress and depression. The benefits to your body are not far behind those that impact the brain. Research shows that performing acts of kindness and being grateful may contribute to a longer and healthier life. Grateful people tend to be happier and exercise more than those who are more anxious or reclusive. 

    Gratitude also improves your sleep cycles and increases your self-esteem, leaving you feeling less aggression and anxiety. You will form stronger connections to friends, strangers, or family members as your heart becomes more empathetic through learning gratitude. Research also shows that gratitude not only reduces stress, but it may also play a major role in overcoming trauma. 

    One study showed that people are more likely to feel gratitude towards: 

    • acts done by strangers than family members
    • larger acts than smaller acts
    • more inconvenient acts
    • acts that confer benefits which themselves are not necessary because of a situation caused by the benefactor
    • people with higher status
    • people who were generally nicer. 

    People were also significantly more likely to feel gratitude when their declaration of gratitude would be public. While this all may be true, it is not gratitude at the core. Take the time to notice and respond to the smaller acts. Your head, heart, and body will thank you. 

    My goal for you in 2019 is to exchange self-pity for gratitude. You can choose to write a few sentences in a gratitude journal or notes for a gratitude jar, or simply take a moment to silently acknowledge all that you have, but any way you do it, giving thanks can impact your life for the better.

    If you are wondering how to lead your children down the path of a grateful heart, start by saying, “Thank you” to them whenever possible. Leading by example, squatting down to eye level, placing a hand on their shoulder, and simply being grateful towards your child will open their world to accept and give appreciation.

     

    Resources: 

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2733324/

    http://local.psy.miami.edu/faculty/mmccullough/gratitude/Is%20Gratitude%20a%20Moral%20Affect.pdf

    http://local.psy.miami.edu/faculty/mmccullough/gratitude/Emmons_McCullough_2003_JPSP.pdf 

    http://local.psy.miami.edu/faculty/mmccullough/Papers/The%20Grateful%20Disposition_JPSP.pdf

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  • Why Babies Need Tummy Time

    4 January 2019
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    Did you know that tummy time exercise is essential for future developmental milestones? Your newborn is learning and growing at a rapid rate, and she will experience new sensations as she matures. It is common for most infants to cry, fuss, and typically not enjoy being laid on their stomachs while awake. Actually, most babies tend to fall asleep instead of working on their neck and core strength. However, you are not failing if this is what happens in your house. 

    Over the years of adjusting families with young infants, I can tell in a single adjustment if a baby is completing tummy time at home. I tend to bring the subject up often in the families that I notice it may not be happening. There was false information spread a few years ago about this exercise being useless, and sadly, many moms bought into it. This, paired with the “Back to Sleep” (“Safe to Sleep”) campaign, has led to developmental delays and problems with many babies. 

    Laying a baby on her back does significantly lower SIDS risks; however, a baby who is always on her back is not going to develop on track. There are concerns about an infant’s head shape, especially if she is left on her back or supine position for most of the day. Babies who spend a majority of time lying on their backs in car seats, rockers or on play mats, can develop a misshapen or flattened head. You can read more about the increase in helmet wearing and Flat Head Syndrome here.

    The problem is not just a flat spot on the head; your baby can develop problems with her neck and head muscles, and this misshapen head provides less room for the quickly expanding brain to grow. As a result, several children may be prone to developmental delays, sensory issues, speech and language trouble and attention and focus issues. Research has found that many students who struggle academically (and emotionally) lack the proper muscle tone in their neck, shoulders, and back to comfortably sit in a class, take notes, and look at the white board. 

    Crying when introduced to tummy time is common, as it is a hard workout for a baby. She is working on strengthening her arms, legs, core, and neck so she can crawl correctly and eventually walk, run, and continue to develop on track. Tummy time also promotes proper posture, mental and visual stimulation, and exploration and interaction with the world around. Research shows that babies who spend at least 80 minutes per day (in small increments) playing on their tummy while awake are more likely to reach their milestones faster than those who spend less time on their tummy.

    A 2017 study found that parents who report even the slightest head asymmetry in their newborn’s first month of life were more likely to prevent further asymmetry from occurring, and they were able to reverse the problem while working with their pediatrician and following side-lying technics and tummy time exercises. This I valuable information, as many parents believe the only solution is a helmet.

    Do you struggle with tummy time? Here are a few ideas to make it a more peaceful practice:

    • Spread out a blanket in a clear area of the floor 
    • Try short sessions after a diaper change or after your baby wakes from a nap
    • Put a toy or toys within your baby’s reach to help your baby learn to play and interact
    • Sit with your baby while she is on the floor so that she doesn’t feel abandoned
    • Increase the session duration as your baby gets older

     

     

    References:

    https://journals.lww.com/pedpt/Fulltext/2007/01910/The_Effects_of_Prone_Positioning_on_the_Quality.7.aspx#P84

    http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/128/6/1236.short

    https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/000992280604500202

    https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/fullarticle/1107573

    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0882596309002930

    https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/01942638.2017.1287811

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