Supplementing for Optimal Health: When ‘Getting By’ Isn’t Enough

I remember when I took my first baby steps into the world of dietary supplements. I was overwhelmed! My knowledge level was at ground zero (or less) ― and to say I had a lot to learn is at best an understatement.

Thankfully, I worked closely with a wonderful restorative doctor, Dr. Sergey Dzugan, who had the patience to explain things and answer my many questions. He is still my mentor today.

Among all that I learned about supplements, the following three lessons stand out as really important for anyone interested in exploring how vitamins and minerals can exponentially improve their health and quality of life.

How Much Is Enough?

My supplement education began with understanding that I had to let go of some erroneous preconceptions.

I had always thought that if my vitamin and mineral levels measured at the Reference Intake (RI) (or, in the U.S., the Recommended Daily Allowance, or RDA) levels, then all was well. I must be healthy!

What I learned is that those numbers are averages. They don’t apply to everyone.

But more importantly, while those levels might technically prevent a deficiency, they aren’t sufficient. It is well known in the ‘world of restorative medicine’ that they are not enough to optimize cellular function and inadequate levels mean you’re always operating at less than your best.

Moreover, sub-optimal vitamin and mineral levels that persist over a long period of time can lead to diseases like cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, depression and premature death. All those diseases we so dread. Diseases associated with old age.

These are diseases that, with optimal levels of vitamins and minerals, we can avoid.

Did you know, for example, that if you go for 30 to 40 years without enough folate for optimal function, your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease will double? It’s a great incentive for folic acid (folate) supplementation.

You can blame a lot of long-term degeneration on nutrient-poor diets ― diets high in carbs, sugar, and processed foods. But even the supposed ‘good’ food we get is all too often inadequate to meet our nutrient needs. Grocery stores are filled with GMO (genetically modified organism) foods . . . foods grown in nutrient-depleted soil . . . foods produced by plants sprayed with poisonous pesticides and other toxic chemicals.

Some foods fail to give us needed nutrients, while daily exposure to environmental toxins, as well as certain drugs, deplete our bodies of what essential nutrients we already have.

It’s up to us to restore nutrients up to our level of need.

LESSON 1: Most people today, despite test results saying they’re within ‘normal’ range, don’t get all the nutrients they need from food. Research tells us they’re likely to be deficient in one or more vitamins. Consequently, almost everyone needs to supplement in order to build a strong foundation for lifelong health.

Which Supplement to Buy?

Another important thing I learned is that you can’t assume just any supplement will provide your body with the raw materials it needs to thrive. But which ones to buy?

Confronted with a massive wall of shelved vitamins, minerals and herbs, how can you tell which ones may truly be judged excellent? How can you avoid wasting your money on supplements that don’t help you? Or worse, cause harm?

It feels like walking through a minefield! The choices are seemingly endless, and there’s almost no government regulation to ensure product quality, safety and efficacy.

In the UK, most supplements are regulated not as drugs but as foods by the Food Standards Agency and the Department of Health (FSADH). They’re regulated as a medicine only if the manufacturer makes a medical claim ― in other words, after it has caused harm. The same is true in the US.

Before a supplement company brings a product to market, it is not required to:

  • Do clinical studies to verify that it does what it’s claimed to do
  • Test the product to verify that it’s safe
  • Meet standards of purity for ingredients
  • Ensure that labels accurately reflect the product’s actual contents

When supplements randomly taken from the shelves of stores have been tested for quality and purity, many labels have proved shockingly deceptive.

In one US study, the New York State attorney general’s office tested dietary supplements from four major retailers. Around 80% of the samples tested didn’t contain so much as a trace of the herbs listed on the label. Many consisted mostly of cheap fillers ― powdered rice, vegetables and houseplants ― that weren’t even listed on the label, and one contained powdered wheat, to which many people are allergic, even though its label said the product was wheat- and gluten-free.

Charges filed included mislabeling, contamination and false advertising.

The sad thing is, this wasn’t just a one-off. Because quality and safety regulations are lax to non-existent, this kind of deception is common in both the US and the UK. In fact, studies in the UK indicate that many supplements are contaminated with banned and often dangerous substances. Unfortunately, low price often equates to low quality.

LESSON 2: Buyer beware.

How Do You Know You’re Really Getting the Goods?

This is your first step towards securing your health . . .helping yourself to perform at your peak and prevent disease.

The best advice I can share is to buy from a reputable source ― a source that has a thorough knowledge of supplements, knows the importance of adequate active ingredients and understands their role in proactively achieving optimal health.

In the meantime, bear in mind that most women need to take:

  • A high-quality multivitamin
  • Magnesium
  • Zinc
  • Vitamin D3
  • Omega3 fatty acids
  • Probiotics

The market is overrun with poor-quality products, so please be aware that it is important to know what you are looking for. Look for supplements supported by:

  • Basic science and clinical trials
  • Credible 3rd-party analysis and testing
  • Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP)
  • Commitment to content integrity (freedom from contaminants, preservatives and chemical agents commonly found in low-quality products)

LESSON 3: Working with an experienced restorative medicine doctor, buy supplements from companies that are backed by science and adhere to good manufacturing processes.

At Menopause Woman, we carry only products that meet the most exacting standards of purity. All our supplements observe GMP guidelines, which is your guarantee that they are consistently controlled and produced according to quality standards. They also comply with the EU Supplement Directive, adopted in 2002.

All our supplements have a long record of safety and efficacy. You can be assured that our products are made with ingredients sourced to meet the most stringent qualifications for quality, satisfy your highest expectations and deliver reliable, scientifically proven support for your health.

SOURCES:

  • Dr. Mark Hyman Takes the Guesswork Out of Vitamin Supplements. The Daniel Plan.
  • How to Choose a Quality Vitamin Supplement. Black Bear Naturopathic clinic, PC.
  • O’Connor, A. New York Attorney General Targets Supplements at Major Retailers. New York Times. February 3, 2015
  • Safety of contaminated vitamins and nutritional supplements can’t be left to consumers. The Conversation. May 5, 2015.
  • 10 surprising dangers of vitamins and supplements. Consumer Reports magazine. Sept. 2012.
  • Warner, B. To Trust or Not to Trust? What’s in Your Supplements? HealthyBalanceMD.com.

Hair Growth Supplements – What Are They?

Must-haves for your Hair Loss Arsenal

With age, and especially with the disruptions to your hormones that come with menopause, your hair can take a real hit. It can grow dull and lifeless. Even worse, you can begin losing more than the typical 50-100 hairs a day.

A LOT more!

How much money have you spent on products that promise to put a halt to your shedding hair and regrow your long-lamented, disappearing locks? And how many of them have failed to stop still more hair from being whooshed down the drain?

The answer just might lie in treating the problem from the inside. Certain hair growth supplements have specific properties that can tackle the causes of hair loss at the site of the problem. In addition, hair care products made with natural ingredients rather than harsh chemicals can give your hair the nurturing it needs and deserves.

Vitamin C: Not Only to Keep Colds at Bay

It’s wisdom that’s been passed down through generations: Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, can help prevent colds. Today, however. vitamin C is gaining in reputation as an amazing anti-ageing ingredient in advanced skincare formulations.

 

But in supplement form, it’s equally potent as a defender against hair loss ― and for one of the same reasons: collagen.

Collagen: Vitamin C is one of the most effective ways to boost your production of collagen, an antioxidant and protein that is equally important to a full, healthy head of hair it as it is to smooth, firm skin.

In the 1700s, it was discovered that citrus fruits could help prevent scurvy. It wasn’t known why at the time, but the magic ingredient was eventually identified as vitamin C. Scurvy is actually caused by a vitamin C deficiency that disrupts the body’s ability to manufacture collagen and connective tissues in the skin.

Hair loss is a proven sign of vitamin C deficiency. Supplementing with vitamin C supports the production of collagen, which is a hair-building protein.

Tyrosine: Vitamin C is needed for the production of tyrosine, an amino acid essential to coping with stress as well as maintaining the structural integrity of your hair follicles and the hair strands they produce. Tyrosine is a precursor of epinephrine (adrenaline), a stress hormone that helps prevent three types of stress-induced hair loss: alopecia areata (hair falls out in round patches), telogen effluvium (excessive, diffuse thinning of hair) and trichotillomania (compulsive hair-pulling).

Antioxidant properties: Free radicals ― unstable molecules that attack and mutate healthy cells, causing destructive inflammation ― are created in the process of producing energy from food. Vitamin C combats free radicals and helps prevent them from damaging your hair.

DHT Inhibition: DHT (dihydrotestosterone), which is produced from the male hormone testosterone, is the chief cause of androgenic alopecia (diffuse thinning), a common cause of hair loss. DHT produces a specific protein that blocks the reception and activation of papilla cells, which transport nutrients to cells in hair follicles. Blocking papilla cells effectively ‘starves’ hair follicles and prevents hair growth.

Studies have shown that vitamin C not only inhibits this destructive protein ― it also increases a growth factor in papilla cells that can lead to a reversal of hair loss.

Vitamin E: Antioxidant Heavyweight

Vitamin E’s greatest claim to fame is as an antioxidant, cleaning up the damage caused by free radicals’ attacks on other molecules and preventing propagation of more free radicals. This protects the hair, along with other tissues and organs, from further mayhem.

Because free radical damage is ongoing, vitamin E (e.g., Vitamin E – Hi Gamma Formula or Vitamin E Complex) is an ongoing need.

Specifically, supplementing with vitamin E helps to stabilize the structure of hair follicles and lower the rate of hair loss. It also increases capillary growth, aids in transporting nutrients to hair follicle cells, and promotes accelerated hair growth and repair of damaged hair shafts.

Two More Ways to Get Your Collagen

Colladivine by Natural Energy is a high-powered collagen hair growth supplement, providing three types of bioactive collagen, plus zinc citrate, another important hair nutrient.

 

Collagen is an important catalyst for the repair and growth of hair, as well tissue throughout your body. It strengthens not only your hair but your skin, helping to prevent skin aging, minimizing fine lines and improving skin texture.

Original Silica by Eurohealth is a component of collagen that’s everywhere in your body ― in your skin, your nails, your muscles, your bones and, yes, in every hair on your head.

 

One major way that silica helps with hair loss is its ability to help re-balance your sex hormones. An imbalance in the hormones, such as occurs with menopause, is a major cause of hair loss and thinning hair.

Another factor is silica’s alkalizing properties, which help ensure mineral nourishment of hair follicles, which your hair needs to grow and thrive. It improves hair texture and helps prevent breakage.

TLC for Your Thinning Hair

The importance of feeding your hair with restorative nutrients that strengthen it and promote growth can’t be overstated. But tender loving care is important, too. Most shampoos and conditioners ― including many marketed as hair-healthy ― are loaded with ingredients ranging from those that actually harm your hair to those that endanger your health.

Just because a product is labeled ‘organic’ or ‘natural,’ don’t automatically believe it. Read the fine print!

There are too many culprits to name here, but for starters, don’t buy anything made with:

  • Sulphates (sodium lauryl sulphate or sodium laureth sulphate), which are linked to cancer
  • Parabens, a hormone disruptor linked to breast cancer and premature puberty in girls
  • Phthalates/Fragrance, also a hormone disruptor, linked to early onset puberty, asthma and possibly cancer.

These and other chemicals can strip away natural oils from the scalp and damage hair follicles. They can make the scalp dry and itchy, and even cause or exacerbate hair loss.

Look for ingredients that come from sources found in nature ― for example, those used in chemical-free shampoos and conditioners such as Tabitha James Kraan’s Amber Rose and Golden Citrus Organic Hair Cleansers.

 

These use no chemical detergents, are anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal and they don’t strip away your natural oils. They moisturize, restore and protect your hair, leaving it with beautiful body and shine.

There’s no question ― saving your hair from unbalanced hormones, rampant DHT, out-of-control stress, or just plain age can be a real battle. But attacking it with the right hair growth supplements and natural hair care products can put you on the winning side, restoring your hair to its former fullness and vitality.

SOURCES:

Daya, S. The Best Kept Secret For Healthy Hair, Radiant Skin and Strong Nails. Victoria Health.
Harriman, D. L-Tyrosine and Hair Loss. LIVESTRONG.com
Hourglass, PJ. Who Discovered How to Prevent Scurvy? The Pharmaceutical Journal. Mar. 30, 2011.
Shampoo: What to Look For, What to Avoid. Ecology Center. June 6, 2012.
Vitamin C for Hair Loss ― How It Helps. Progressive Health.

Hair loss, Hormones and How To Regain Beautiful Hair

In preparation for the Big Change she knew was coming, my friend Isabella did a lot of reading. She learned that all in all, despite its reputation, menopause can be an exciting time of life ― a time of growth and self-exploration (not to mention freedom from inconvenient and sometimes painful periods).

Having always been a ’think-positive’ person, Isabella took it all to heart and bravely faced the onset of menopause with the attitude of setting forth on an exciting new venture.

Until she realised she was losing her hair.

Isabella’s hair had always been her glory, but after every wash and blow-dry, more of it ended up on the bathroom floor. Week after week, her hair became thinner and thinner. Finally, her nearly-bare scalp was on plain view for all the world to see, and as her ponytail became ever smaller and wispier, the always-optimistic Isabella grew increasingly depressed.

Isabella wasn’t the first woman to experience dramatic hair loss as she embarked on this life transition. It also happens at other times of hormonal upheaval. For example, after pregnancy.

When a woman is pregnant, her oestrogen levels soar, and her hair may become dramatically longer, thicker, fuller and shinier. However, after giving birth, her oestrogen levels plunge. The shedding and resting periods of her hair’s growth cycle lengthen, and she experiences hair loss, which, thankfully, is usually temporary.

Although it often catches women by surprise, menopause, too, brings hormonal changes that disrupt the hair growth cycle. Nearly half of all women experience menopausal hair thinning.

What Do Your Ovaries Have to Do With Your Hair?

Your ovaries produce oestrogen and progesterone. When you’re premenopausal, their levels, as a general rule, are at their peak and (oestrogen more directly than progesterone) help keep testosterone at its correct level and within safe ratios. But with the onset of menopause, your ovaries begin to shut down, and your oestrogen and progesterone levels drop, setting in motion a process that can lead to thinning hair.

You don’t normally have a large amount of testosterone. But as oestrogen and progesterone diminish at a greater and faster rate relative to testosterone, your testosterone gains in comparative strength. When that happens, more testosterone is converted into a potent androgenic hormone, DHT, via an enzyme known as 5-alpha reductase.

We now have an increase of DHT. The increased DHT production wants to kill your hair, literally.

DHT attaches to receptor cells in scalp follicles and causes them to shrink. That’s a near-death sentence for healthy hair. Hair will thin, although in women it rarely results in completely bald patches.

Stressed Tresses Are Unhappy Tresses

High levels of stress, along with anxiety and depression, are a common manifestation of the mood swings frequently experienced by women during menopause. It’s also among the most common symptoms associated with menopausal hair thinning.

The growth cycle of hair has four phases:

  • Anagen: Growth phase, lasting 2–6 years
  • Catagen: Short phase (approximately 2–3 weeks) when the follicle shrinks a bit
  • Telogen: Inactive phase
  • Exogen: Hair falls out

The average woman has 90,000 to 150,000 hairs on her head at any one time, in all different phases, and she loses around 50–100 a day. Dermatologist Kurt Stenn, author of Hair: A Human History, believes that very high stress levels disrupt the growth cycle, prematurely halting the growth (anagen) phase. The hairs all go into the resting (telogen) phase and then, after a three-month delay, fall out (the exogen phase) at around 10 times the usual rate.

This hair-loss pattern has been shown with mice after being stressed by loud noises. It has also been demonstrated with rhesus macaque monkeys who were found to have cortisol (the stress hormone) dominance.

Interestingly, declining hormone levels are one of the primary causes of continuous physiological stress. This in itself puts both the body and the brain under an incredible and continuous stress load. If you’re highly stressed and menopausal, it’s a very bad mix. Your overall stress will then be exacerbated, both physically and mentally.

Stress mutes hormones, which will sequentially affect your female hormones, testosterone production, and DHT production. The amount of DHT production in the body from day to day depends on the amount and balance of testosterone.

Unfortunately, losing your hair is upsetting and kicks many women’s stress level into overdrive, which compounds the problem.

How To Restore Hormones For Beautiful Healthy Hair?

Because menopausal hair loss is so linked to hormonal disruption ― hormone imbalances associated with the end of fertility ― it’s a signal that you need to see a restorative medicine doctor who is fully trained in bioidentical hormones restorative therapy (BHRT).

Your restorative medical doctor will test your hormones to assess their status and prescribe naturally derived hormones that have exactly the same molecular structure as the hormones made in your own body.

You can read all about Hormonal Health in Jill’s book, ‘The Menopause Cure‘.

The right hormones in the right doses will retune your hormones ― bring them into the optimal ratios needed to restore their hormonal balance… as well as a full head of beautiful, healthy hair!

SOURCES

Beck, J. Why Stress Makes Your Hair Fall Out. The Atlantic. Mar. 2, 2016.
Causes of Hair Loss. American Hair Loss Association.
Gottfried, S. Hair Loss, Hormones and How to Regain Your Luscious Locks. Dr. Sara Gottfried MD.
Hormonal Changes ― Female Hair Loss. Medic8.
Menopause ― Female Hair Loss Guide. Medic8.

Oestrogen – Should you take Pills or a Gel?

When the oestrogen/progestin (synthetic progesterone) arm of the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) study abruptly shut down back in July 2002, women were shocked . . . stunned. It wasn’t only the study’s participants. It was equally devastating to the millions of other women around the world taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT), thinking they were doing something good for themselves.

The sudden knowledge that they might be risking coronary heart disease, breast cancer, stroke or pulmonary embolism so terrified women that many immediately quit their hormones, cold turkey.

Then in February 2004 came the aftershock: the oestrogen-alone (oestrogen replacement therapy, or ERT) arm of the study shut down when it became apparent that it not only failed to prevent heart disease ― it increased the risk of stroke.

Besides shock, fear and disappointment, the WHI failure sparked enormous confusion over the use of hormones to ease the transition into and through menopause.

Today, we understand a great deal more about hormones, and we have the option of bioidentical hormones (BHRT), but we still have confusion, especially about what kind of oestrogens to take. Sublingual drops? Patches? Pills? Injections? Pellets? Vaginal ring? Transdermal gels and creams (which are preferable and safer)?

It’s enough to make you dizzy! But to try and clear up some of the confusion, and to make things a bit simpler, I’m going to focus on only one question: Of the two most popular oestrogen-delivery systems, which is best ― oral (pills) or transdermal (applied to the skin)?

Oral oestrogens are used in ERT and HRT, and transdermal oestrogens are used in bioidentical hormone restorative therapy (BHRT), along with other natural hormones, such as progesterone.

But first, let’s clear up what makes ERT/HRT oestrogens different from BHRT oestrogens.

ERT/HRT vs. BHRT Oestrogens: What’s the Difference?

The most common form of ERT is Premarin®, a conjugated oestrogen obtained from the urine of pregnant mares. HRT, most often marketed as Prempro®, is a combination of, once again, horse oestrogens, and progestin, a synthetic substitute for progesterone.

Both come in a fixed-dose pill form. And they’re synthetic. That means these oestrogens are not of natural origin. They don’t replicate your own oestrogens ― they’re chemicals that merely imitate the natural hormone. They can’t function in your body the same way as the oestrogens created by your body.

To work properly, hormones have to bind with specific target receptor cells in your body, like a key in a lock. The synthetic form of hormones can’t completely bond with receptors because the key does not totally fit. Because of this, they can’t work as they should, they confuse the body, and therefore, can predispose you to cancer and other diseases.

On the other hand, BHRT oestrogens, like all bioidentical hormones, are derived from wild yam and soy plants. They have exactly the same molecular architecture as the oestrogens produced in your own body. That means they are fully equipped to do everything that your own ‘homemade’ oestrogens do ― including binding to receptors.

And as we will see, ERT/HRT and BHRT oestrogens are metabolized in completely different ways, which makes a world of difference in their safety and effectiveness.

What’s the Scoop on Oral Estrogens?

Unfortunately, what we’ve learned about oestrogens post-WHI has not attracted publicity anywhere near that surrounding the study’s sensational, premature end. As a result, many women are unaware of these advances. Nonetheless, we’ve gained a great deal of useful knowledge since then.

For one, we’ve learned about what happens when you swallow oestrogens in pill form ― specifically about what occurs in your body physiologically and how it affects the metabolism of the oestrogens you ingest.

Once you swallow an ERT/HRT pill, it makes a beeline for your liver. It passes through the gut, where it undergoes preprocessing. From there, it goes into the large portal vein and then on into the liver. There, it’s metabolised before it circulates throughout your system.

This route means that oral oestrogens enter the liver much more directly and in a much more concentrated form than the natural oestrogens created in your ovaries. With oral oestrogens, your liver is hit with a dose of around 1,000–2,000 micrograms of oestrogen instead of 100–200 micrograms.

It’s no exaggeration to say this is an overload that can stress the liver.

The effects of oral oestrogens can be erratic and unpredictable, varying with the dose and the individual. Oral oestrogens may:

  • Increase or decrease the synthesis of various proteins in the liver, either raising or lowering levels of blood-clotting factors, testosterone, oestrogens and thyroid hormones, potentially resulting in blood clots, strokes, blocked hormone function, elevated blood pressure and triglyceride levels, and suppressed thyroid function
  • Produce unwanted products of metabolism (metabolites) that increase risk of oestrogen-sensitive cancers

Initially, oestrogen-only fixed doses were set at high levels in order to relieve vasomotor menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes and night sweats. However, these doses have been shown to be excessive, causing adverse effects such as weight gain, water retention, fibrocystic breasts and the much more serious risks of breast and uterine cancers.

Later, when progestin (synthetic progesterone) was added to the horse oestrogens (as in Prempro), the uterine cancer risk lessened, but breast cancer risk increased, along with risk of blood clots, stroke and gallbladder disease.

What Makes BHRT Transdermal Estrogens Different?

Bioidentical transdermal oestrogen therapy comes in the form of a compounded (individually mixed) gel or cream that is applied topically. The dose is tailored to your test results, which show what is needed to restore your oestrogens to their optimal and proper levels.

Instead of being first metabolised by the liver, transdermal oestrogen acts exactly as the oestrogens produced by your ovaries. That is, it is transported through the bloodstream, reaches its target tissues, attaches to oestrogen receptors and is then metabolised in the liver. The liver is the end point, not the starting point. We are following nature here.

That completely alters how transdermal oestrogens works. Compared with oral oestrogens, BHRT transdermal oestrogens don’t:

  • negatively impact liver protein synthesis
  • produce unwanted metabolites that raise cancer risk
  • increase your risk for blood clots, heart disease, stroke, gallbladder disease, etc.
  • have unpredictable effects or
  • stress your liver

It is also worth noting that oestradiol produced in your ovaries is easily eliminated in urine within one day, whereas synthetic oestrogens can remain in your body for up to 13 weeks before elimination. Your body is designed to metabolise your own oestrogens and, in this case, bioidentical hormones which are an exact copy of your own, NOT horse hormones.

And the Winner Is…

In the United Kingdom and the United States, HRT oral formulations of oestrogens are more frequently prescribed than BHRT transdermal formulations. Why this is so is unclear, but it’s high time to clear up the confusion.

Hands down, transdermal oestrogens are far safer and more effective!

True, ERT and oestrogens found in HRT have been studied much more extensively than BHRT oestrogens but much of that research leads to the conclusion that these synthetic hormones are not something you want to put in your body.

The clinical evidence on BHRT oestrogens is persuasive and mounting: Transdermal oestrogens have a far stronger safety and efficiency profile than oral ERT/HRT oestrogens. It’s not even close.

In the end, it comes down to one thing. To avoid risk of chronic disease and other health problems, the molecular structure has to be the same as that of your natural oestrogens. The same holds true for progesterone, which should always be taken with oestrogen to ensure maintenance of the correct ratio.

To make sure you’re prescribed BHRT transdermal oestrogens (together with progesterone), make sure to work with a doctor specially trained in restorative medicine and bioidentical hormones who understands why this form of oestrogen is preferable.

SOURCES:

Estrogen Pill vs. Estrogen Patch ― Which Works Best? Virginia Hopkins Test Kits.
Gillson, G.R. and Zava, D.T. A Perspective on HRT for Women: Picking Up the Pieces After the Women’s Health Initiative Trial ― Part 1. International Journal of Pharmacological Compounding. Vol.7 No. 4, July/August 2003.
Liu, B. Is transdermal menopausal hormone therapy a safer option than oral therapy? Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ). 2013 Apr. 16; 185(7): 549–550.
Which Type of Estrogen Hormone Therapy Is Right for You?

Male Menopause Classes: Are They A Waste of Money?

You may have seen a Daily Mail article reporting on classes being given to members of the emergency services to help them better understand and aid co-workers going through menopause.

The piece tends to align itself with Tory MP David Davies, who is quoted as saying that the classes are a ‘waste of money’. The Daily Mail seems to think that everyone is fully aware of the symptoms, consequences and struggles of menopause, and should simply get on with their work.

I think otherwise. We all – middle aged women, young women, men, workers, bosses – can stand to gain from a little extra education where menopause is concerned.

Middle aged women can truly benefit from a work atmosphere that is understanding and accepting of an important but often distressing part of life. In fact, Dr. Hannah Short says that ‘Up to 10% women consider quitting their job as a result’. How can we allow women to reach that point of discomfort?

The Daily Mail article states that around 3.5 million women of menopause age are currently in work. That is a large figure, and surely bosses must understand that 350,000 women leaving their jobs would leave a huge hole in their productivity and ability to operate.

As these classes will include male and young female co-workers, there is the potential to better educate those unaware of menopausal symptoms and how to help female colleagues experiencing them. This should create a more empathetic working environment, and prepare young women who often do not fully appreciate how much of a struggle menopause can be until it is upon them.

Perhaps most importantly though, these classes could go a long way to helping remove some of the stigma that exists around menopause and create a conversation we should all be having.

My advice – keep yourself informed and don’t be afraid to talk about your experiences!

 

Male birth control side effects are not funny

Recently, news outlets have been reporting on the termination of a clinical trial studying male birth control. Many were quick to accuse the men taking part in the trial of being ‘wimps’, but is this reaction perhaps a little over zealous and unfair? I think that the larger issue is one of what we are willing to put our bodies through and whether we can ignore what they are telling us.

This injectable drug uses a combination of synthetic hormones: Progesterone [known as Progestin] and Testosterone. Using long-acting injectable forms of these hormones suppresses the production of sperm. The results were – it cannot be argued – very successful: there was a 96% rate of success in preventing pregnancy among couples whose male partner was taking part in the trial. And yet despite this return the independent safety panel which ultimately halted the trial still had cause for concern, enough to stop the study before completion.

It is not a question of can these men hack the side effects of this new birth control injectable drug, it is a question of whether or not it is safe. Side effects reportedly include depression and mood disorders; along with muscle pain, increased libido, and even infertility.

Infertility

That is a big one. Not to be taken lightly.

Side effects are a warning sign, a message that the body is suffering. Why on earth would men want to take such an injectable method? Just as women suffer side effects from the birth control pill, such as weight gain, water retention, acne, heightened breast cancer risk, so should these men suffer from side effects too?

The injection has not been tested sufficiently and for a long enough time to know the true outcome of this drug. As one of the authors (Dr Mario Philip Reyes Festin, MD) of the study outlined: “more research is needed to advance this concept to the point that it can be made widely available to men as a method of contraception”. This would mean that more research needs to be done to make sure it is ‘adequately safe’.

Prof Allan Pacey at the University of Sheffield also offered an opinion, saying that “the fact that so many side effects were observed in the men who were taking part in the trial is of concern. For a male contraceptive to be accepted by men (or women) then it has to be well tolerated and not cause further problems”.

Both the birth control pill for women and the birth control injectable for men use the synthetic form of hormones. We have already seen the drastic side effects the birth control pill has to offer women. Clearly these synthetic forms of hormones do not belong in the body.

My personal opinion would be to stay away from it boys.

Stress-busting tactics to reverse menopausal mood swings

There’s so much about the menopause that can totally disrupt your life. The decline in female hormones, at that time, can put a continual and incredible stress load on the body, which can go on to effect the Cortisol-to-DHEA ratio. When DHEA levels are low in comparison to cortisol we get a ‘cortisol dominance’ setup that can bring with it a host of health issues including weight gain, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

With the added stress of today’s hectic lifestyles– as stress blunts hormone production – it’s  the perfect combination for a fatal storm. The decline in sex hormones, along with an imbalance in the Cortisol-to-DHEA ratio, can make menopausal symptoms more pronounced, including:

  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Night sweats

What are the short and long-term stress-busting methods to help you through the menopause?

1.   Improve your diet

You really are what you eat; look after your insides by ingesting friendly bacteria from probiotics and fermented food (mainly vegetables), and you’ll experience improved brain functionality, feelings of wellbeing and mood control. This means setting aside time to cook and eat at your own pace.

2.   Don’t rely on unhealthy habits

You might get a momentary buzz from alcohol, smoking or caffeine, but they will make you feel worse in the long-run. Alcohol is a natural depressive, while smoking and caffeine throw off your body’s natural sleeping and eating patterns. All are associated with negative physical health effects.

3.   Exercise

Your body releases endorphins as you exercise, reducing pain perception and enabling a feeling of euphoria. It blocks the physical effects of stress too, those that exercised less frequently were found to experience 37% more physical symptoms during stressful times.

4.   Take a walk

Countryside residents have been found to  have a better cortisol-to-DHEA ratio than city dwellers and therefore suffer less stress. Getting back to nature – even for a 10-minute walk – can help you re-assess and gain a greater sense of perspective.  

5.   Take up a hobby

Whether it’s an existing passion or a long-held wish to learn samba, a hobby gives you time to be yourself and can take your mind off the cause of the stress. It’s a great way to socialise, and is the perfect way to set and achieve more personal goals.

6.   Socialise

Loneliness is major stressor, and prevents you from talking through your problems. Chat with people you see on your daily rounds, and attend community events to broaden your support network. Best of all – volunteer and de-stress by helping others.

7.   Make ‘me time’

Life’s all about balance, and sometimes you just need some me time. Meditation is now universally accepted as an effective stress-buster. It doesn’t require anything special, just sit quietly for 10-minutes and try to shut out the madness. Or, spoil yourself a little with a hot bath, yoga session – even a massage!

8.   Breathe right

It’s a natural process that goes on 24/7, so it’s easy to forget that breathing control can regulate physiological and bioenergetics mechanisms, oxygenating your body and settling your nervous system. There’s a technique called ‘Buteyko’ that can help you restore a normal pattern.

9.   Change your psychology

Some self-reflection is needed before you truly take control of your psychology. Optimists are better at dealing with stress. Unleash your inner optimist by making a list of all the things you’re thankful for – there’ll be more than you think! Here’s some other ways you can improve your psychology:

  • Adjust expectations
  • Say ‘no’
  • Express true feelings
  • Avoid stressful people/situations
  • Be willing to compromise
  • Manage your time
  • Accentuate the positive

It doesn’t have to be this way; fight back with restorative medicine and find the long-term solution

All of these methods will help you realign your emotions and let normal service resume… temporarily. The only way to truly take your stress levels by the reins and achieve long-term oneness is to naturally re-balance your hormone levels.

Bioidentical hormone restorative therapy lets you use natural compounds to overcome the symptoms of the menopause, without the health risks associated with synthetic HRT. Bioidentical hormones are organic compounds that are an exact copy of the human hormone, enabling them to function in the same way. 

Once your hormonal levels have returned to their natural levels, you can say ‘goodbye’ to the symptoms of the menopause and ‘hello’ to a more youthful, healthier you.

With my book, find out how you can take your first steps towards re-discovering natural balance.

What is the male menopause?

Men have long thought that they had dodged the hormonal countdown with a simple mid-life crisis. A new hairstyle, sports convertible and some festival tickets, and they are sorted with no obvious symptoms of hormonal deficit. Unfortunately, guys, it’s not quite that simple.

Testosterone, a steroid hormone and androgen is generated in higher quantities in men, than in women. Men lose their testosterone over a period of 30 years, starting at about aged 30, whereas women lose all their sex hormones within a 5 year period, which would account for women‘s hyper-acute symptoms.

Although not as widely discussed as the menopause, perhaps because men’s symptoms are more insidious due to the incremental and less drastic decline, the andropause (or, ‘male menopause’) has been recognised for centuries as a period in men’s lives when a shift in hormones results in significant physical, psychological, social and sexual changes.

What are the symptoms of the male menopause?

Unlike the menopause, the andropause does not mean the end of a man’s reproductive ability, which can often last into their 80s. However, the hormonal shift is marked and comparable to that experienced by women, resulting in a whole range of undesirable symptoms.

As with the menopause, the decline in hormone levels is indicated by different symptoms as testosterone, along with other hormones, levels continue to drop off. The first thing you are likely to notice is a blunting of your libido, potentially leading to erectile dysfunction and symptoms of impotence. Muscle wastage and a diminishing of strength come as testosterone levels fall further, resulting in a lack of energy and ability to concentrate, depression, mood swings and even diabetes.

How restorative medicine can combat the andropause

Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT) is a safe and efficient alternative to synthetic HRT, that corrects and optimises body function by rebalancing hormones, with the use of bioidentical hormones, a molecular structure that is an exact match to the hormones produced within the human body, together with specific vitamins and minerals that all interact with each other.

Certain foods we consume can enhance testosterone and are often known as aphrodisiacs. Low and declining levels of testosterone will inhibit sexual desire. Zinc is an important mineral for men’s libido, and is a proven enhancer of this hormone. Oysters have high levels of zinc, and for the vegetarian…baked beans and nuts. These sexy foods boost your libido. Exercise is, of course, paramount to enhancing testosterone levels as well. Together with bioidentical hormone restorative therapy, and a healthy and active lifestyle, you can restore your body, your quality if life, your libido, and slow the ageing process – all without the adverse side effects associated with a synthetic treatment.

What effect will it have on my symptoms?

An effective BHRT programme overseen by a qualified restorative medicine doctor can correct the symptoms associated with andropause, restoring your sex-drive, giving you clarity of thought, an enhanced mood and can even reduce the risk of more serious secondary conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease.

How is it different from chemical-based medicines?

Chemical-based hormonal supplements cannot be correctly metabolised by the body, making them toxic and liable to cause or exacerbate other conditions, such as certain cancers, heart disease or sleep apnoea – hence, the longest treatment programme with these methods is just five years.

Unlike the synthetic hormonal therapies, BHRT programmes are geared towards using compounds suited to each individual patient and their unique hormonal blend. And, because of their exactness in molecular structure, bioidentical hormones can be prescribed and taken for a lifetime, with no adverse side effects. That is the beauty of this medicine, we can have optimal health even into our golden years, which then become our platinum years.

How do I investigate restorative medicine?

First up, you’ll need a comprehensive guide to restorative medicine and BHRT that you can use as a reference when considering dietary or lifestyle changes.

If you require medical advice, you should speak to a doctor who knows about restorative medicine and can design a BHRT programme tailored to your specific needs.

 

How to increase longevity and slow the signs of aging

We’re pre-programmed to resist the signs of ageing and take every step we can to maximise our lifespan. But, with all the distractions of modern life, it’s easy to fall into bad habits that can slowly start to shave years off your life expectancy.

Fighting back against the ageing process doesn’t mean cutting out everything that you love, but with a few minor lifestyle changes you can re-discover your natural vitality and look forward to a long and healthy old age.

Here’s the key factors to consider and how you can naturally optimise your longevity:

1. Sleep

Sleep impacts on all of your body’s systems and a lack of it can double the signs of skin ageing according to a US study, as well as making us feel less attractive.

More importantly, it can be a real risk to our health, with a report from University of Warwick finding that people who sleep less than six hours per night are 12% more likely to die over a 25-year period than those who get the recommended amount of sleep. These deaths were often from heart-related conditions.

Most medical professionals advise that you aim to achieve regular, uninterrupted sleep sessions of six to eight hours per night in order to maintain optimal health and vitality.

2. Stress

Stress is often unavoidable, but could be wreaking havoc on your appearance and life expectancy.

Stress can damage our chromosomes and DNA, resulting in mutations that can increase your risk of overall immune distress, degenerative diseases (like Parkinson’s and Huntington’s) and even cancer. A study by Harvard and Stanford Universities quantified that consistent stress could knock as much as 33 years off your potential lifespan.

To avoid this and stave off those grey hairs a little longer, ensure that your hormones are naturally in balance, optimise your diet, cut out contaminants (like alcohol, caffeine and cigarettes) and try to be mindful about what causes your blood pressure to creep up.

3. Diet

Diet is another all-encompassing factor that can impact severely on your health and wellbeing.

No matter how much you think you’re looking after your body, a bad diet can wreck your complexion and leave you looking pale and peaky. Your diet can also impact on your overall life expectancy, with coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer and diabetes (which, according to the New England Journal of Medicine, can shave six years off your life alone) are among the most serious risks.

Start taking regular exercise, avoid consuming high levels of alcohol, and eliminate trans fats from your diet. Trans fats are bad and increase your risk of heart disease. In fact, they are so bad that some countries have banned them outright. They also interfere with the body’s ability to produce its own DHA (an omega-3 essential fatty acid). Fill your new diet with wrinkle-fighting antioxidants, whole and non-farmed foods, and ensure your vitamin intake is optimised.

4. Essential oils/serums

Even with a balanced diet and regular exercise, there are certain conditions or individual variables that can prevent us from absorbing the right levels of essential nutrients.

Essential oils and serums have long been used as a way of distilling the essence of integral elements to ensure that we can regulate our intake to match our unique bodily composition. Rather than being a direct means of extending longevity, essential oils will help to maintain your overall wellbeing, boost your immune system, improve skin quality, help you sleep and much, much more.

Once an expensive lifestyle option, you can now easily mix your own essential oils at home using ingredients like jojoba oil, evening primrose oil, pomegranate oil, vitamin E and lavender oil.

5. Genetic mutations

Genetic mutations and free radical damage are most commonly caused by toxic elements entering our bloodstream via our diets, alcohol or cigarettes.

Each mutation has the potential to turn cancerous, or cause degenerative diseases that could dramatically decrease your life expectancy. A study by Treatment4Addiction found that each cigarette was equivalent to 14 minutes off your life expectancy (10 years if you’re regularly smoking 20 per day). But, there are unseen factors too. A nutritional imbalance and the presence of E numbers and other contaminants in our diet might be slowly degrading your overall health.

With cigarettes and alcohol, it’s easy to know exactly what you need to cut out. However, knowing how to adapt your diet can be a little more complicated. Simply revise the ‘Diet’ section above and you can start off on the right foot.

6. Hormones

Our hormones are the oil that keeps our finely tuned machines in proper working order, but decline dramatically with age, often resulting in the onset of numerous degenerative diseases.

This decline is likely to signal that the menopause is now in full swing, complete with the range of unpleasant side effects that this transition brings. Later, your risk of cognitive degeneration, mobility issues and bodily changes (weight gain, wrinkles, hair loss etc.) will increase significantly. And, even if you try to fight back with synthetic hormones, you’ll be increasing your risk of breast cancer and other conditions.

An alternative is bioidentical hormones restorative therapy (BHRT) to help improve your life and protect your long and short-term health.

Conclusion

The further medical research advances, the more we come to understand that many aspects of the ageing process are not set in stone and can be avoided with intelligent lifestyle choices. Follow these simple steps and look forward to excitement and energy in your later years.

8 reasons everyone’s talking about omega 3

Ever wonder why people in Okinawa, Japan, lead the longest and and highest quality lives in the world? Or, why Greenlandic Inuit have a rate of heart disease 85% lower than that of the US? The answer: they’re the biggest consumers of omega 3.

Read on to find out why everyone’s talking about omega 3, and how you can feel the benefits by adjusting your intake to the correct level.

What is omega 3 and how does it affect the body?

Omega 3 is a fatty acid that plays a crucial role in the health of your heart, brain, skin, hair and much, much more. The effects can be even more pronounced for women, with omega 3 helping to generate certain prostaglandins (hormones) which in turn affect inflammation, decrease menstrual cramps and increase immune system functionality. As the body can’t generate its own omega 3, we must consume it as part of our diet or in the form of a high-quality supplement.

Omega 3 is inherently linked with another essential fatty acid; omega 6, again, must be consumed in food or supplements. Like omega 3s, omega 6 fatty acids are vital to good health, they assist your body in making prostaglandins, and have many other bodily functions. However, the typical western diet contains a much higher rate of omega 6s and a lower rate of omega 3s, than that of our ancestors. This can lead to chronic inflammation and many health problems. It is important that the intake of omega 6 fatty acids and omega 3 fatty acids maintain a specific ratio. Overall, you should be aiming for a ratio of between 3:1 and 6:1 (in favour of omega-6). However, most people tend to maintain an average well above recommended levels at a ratio of between 10:1 and 25:1. This is due to high consumption of processed carbs, vegetable oil, and baked products. It is, therefore, advantageous to your health to try and reduce your intake of omega 6 and increase your intake of omega 3.

The typical Mediterranean diet contains more omega 3 fatty acids and less omega 6 fatty acids. The trick in not to eliminate omega 6 fatty acids but to decrease them, making sure they are balanced with the correct amount of omega 3 fatty acids.  

Food sources of omega 6s occur in meats and other animal products, mother’s milk, black current seed, borage oil, and evening primrose oil, flax oil, hemp, pumpkin, safflower, sesame, soybean, sunflower, and walnut.

Here are just some of the positive health benefits that you can gain from omega 3:

Increase energy Weight loss Improve fertility
Healthy skin Ease anxiety Decrease inflammation that leads to heart disease
Slow the signs of ageing Enhances insulin function Boost immune system
Improve memory and focus Lessen joint pain/arthritis Reduce symptoms of ADHD
Decrease cardiovascular risk Reduce risk of eczema, psoriasis, dandruff – perhaps even wrinkles   Reduce risk of eye disorders
Lowers blood pressure Decrease risk of blood clotting in inappropriate places Decrease risk of depression

While omega 3 from the right type of fish oil (containing Eicosapentaenoic and Docosahexaenoic) can help you with everything listed above, those based on red meat or flaxseeds (containing Alpha Lipoic Acid) are not quite as potent.   

Why is everyone talking about omega 3?

Omega 3 can boost your defences against a host of illnesses, such as:

1. Cancer

Omega 3 has been found to have a positive effect on various forms of cancer, including colon, prostate and breast. Docosahexaenoic can be taken alongside tumor necrosis drugs to boost their effect.

2. Cardiovascular health and stroke risk

Omega 3 plays an important role in protecting against cardiovascular disease and stroke as it has anti-inflammatory properties.

3. Alzheimer’s Disease

The fatty acids in omega 3 that support brain functionality also help prevent brain atrophy, which slows cognitive degradation and may reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease.

4. Digestive health

Research points to a correlation between adequate omega 3 intake and conditions such as IBS or Crohn’s Disease, as well as potentially reducing proportions of bodily fat – especially around the belly!

5. Mental health

Omega 3 may play a role in improving mood disorders for some people, including depression and anxiety, support ADHD treatment and improve defences against Parkinson’s Disease.

6. Diabetes

Fish oil could help people suffering from type II diabetes by lowering triglycerides and apoproteins.

7. Bone health

Omega 3 has long been known to help with suppleness and movement, significantly decreasing joint tenderness and stiffness in people with rheumatoid arthritis and maintaining or increasing bone mass for people suffering from osteoporosis.

8. Immune system

Omega 3 could give your immune system a real shot in the arm. It has been shown to help prevent the weakening of the system in animal trials, as well as autoimmune disorders, such as lupus and nephropathy.

What dosage you need and how to use supplements to get it?

Consuming foods rich in omega 3 is the first step towards finding nutritional harmony. As mentioned earlier, there’s no magic number when it comes to omega 3 intake. Instead, it’s about finding balance with your omega 6 intake, with an ideal ratio of between 3:1 and 6:1.

These are some of the top performers for boosting your omega 3 intake:   

Salmon Cod liver Mackerel
Sardines Halibut Tuna
Pollock Herring Walnuts
Beef Venison Lamb
Soybean Tofu Shrimp

 

*All fish listed should be wild-caught, while red meat sources should be grass-fed.  

Whether they become part of your daily routine, or are just a stopgap for the days when eating oily fish is just not a possibility, high-quality supplements are a must-have for every medicine cabinet. But, remember; more is not necessarily better, it’s about finding balance.

Some fish oils are heavily processed and so their effectiveness is diminished overall. Fish oils or (preferably) krill oils should contain phospholipid complex in order to increase absorption and reduce triglyceride levels. Vitamin E should be ingested alongside omega 3 to prevent it from oxidising, while vitamins A, B and C, biotin, magnesium, niacin and zinc all help fatty acids turn into usable hormones.

Omega 3 does more than fortify your defences against illness. It’s a boost to your everyday wellbeing that could help you discover a new level of health. Follow these simple steps and see for yourself!