Posts

Brain Health in Menopause (Part 2)

Brain Health in Menopause/Andropause – A Guide to Brain Health

Prevention of brain deterioration is possible when we know what harms our brain as well as what we can do to support our brain health, and ultimately, the quality of our lives as we age. We can take control of our health by making informed choices that truly prevent or reverse chronic conditions that in the past seemed to be blamed on simply  ‘luck of the draw’.  Here is your guide for prevention.  For Brain Health in Menopause (Part 1), click here.

 

  1. Balance your Blood Sugar: According to a study in The New England Journal of Medicine in 2013, elevated blood sugar -even without Diabetes – was shown to be a risk factor for developing dementia, or decreased brain function.  Insulin resistance is one of the most studied areas involving risk for Alzheimer’s disease and has been referred to as Type 3 Diabetes – as it damages brain circulation and tissue.  In insulin resistance, glucose has difficulty entering your cells, including your brain cells, and therefore, is deprived of it’s main food source.  Too much glucose & insulin in the blood, and too little in the actual cell. If you feel sleepy after a meal, you could be suffering from insulin resistance.
      1. Focus on more vegetables, lean protein and ‘slow carbs’ like sweet potato and quinoa
      2. No snacking: allow your body to use your glucose reserves between healthy meals to avoid the blood-sugar roller-coaster 
      3. Fiber & good fats help to slow glucose metabolism and help you stay away from sugar cravings.  Try ground flax seeds, chia seeds, avocado, olive oil, free-range eggs and wild-caught fish
      4. Read Dr. David Perlmutter’s book: Grain Brain for more information on how a high carbohydrate diet high in gluten & grains affects your brain.  https://www.drperlmutter.com/about/grain-brain-by-david-perlmutter/

  1. Reduce Stress: A shocking Yale study shows that our prefrontal brain actually shrinks when exposed to high levels of stress. They found that even the brains of subjects who had only recently experienced a stressful life event showed markedly lower gray matter in portions of the medial prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain that regulates not only emotions and self-control, but physiological functions such as blood pressure and glucose levels. So stress not only damages our brains, but also prevents us from dealing with stressful situations in the future. Again, prevention is key! 
      1. Reduce stress with mindfulness practices: HeartMath (heart math.org), meditation, yoga, acupuncture, qi gong and tai chi.
      2. Remove stress on your physical body such as inflammation from poor diet, too much alcohol/smoking, food allergies/sensitivities, gut infections, dental infections, heavy metal toxicity, neurotoxins (aspartame, excessive alcohol, pesticides)
      3. Pin point source of stressors in your life and find specific ways to reduce or become more resilient with proper brain nutrition and lifestyle. High cortisol also causes a deficiency of DHEA & pregnenolone which are the building blocks of our hormones.  Please read my blog post about Adrenal Health.
  1. Feed your Brain: Your neurons require glucose, oxygen & stimulation for healthy functioning. Inflammation, hormone imbalance or poor blood sugar control all contribute to an imbalance of neurotransmitter communication. An anti-inflammatory diet, targeted nutrition and botanicals can impact brain chemistry in a way that most medications cannot.
      1. Vitamins & minerals for neurotransmitter production:  B vitamins (B6, B12, B3 (riboflavin), Folate), zinc, magnesium, manganese
      2. Good fats:  Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are essential for your brain! EPA/DHA in fish oil, avocado, nuts, seeds, olive oil.  EPA is great for inflammation but DHA specifically targets the brain and memory. C
      3. Supplements: Serotonin boosters- 5 HTP, St John’s Wort, SAMe. GABA boosters- valarian root, L-theanine, taurine. Dopamine boosters- Macuna pruriens, PEA (chocolate) anti-oxidants like blueberry extract, alpha-lipoid acid, liposomal glutathione or N-acetylcysteine
      4. Iron: low iron or anemia inhibits the production of neurotransmitters and can be caused by low dietary intake, low iron absorption with hypothyroidism or low Hydrochloric acid, heavy menstrual bleeding or uterine fibroids.

4.  Exercise your Brain: Your brain requires good oxygenated blood flow to be healthy. Red

     flags that you may have poor blood flow to your brain include cold hands & feet, 

     hypoglycemia or diabetes, low blood pressure, low iron or anemia, or sedentary lifestyle.

      1. Abdominal breathing, allowing abdomen to rise with each inhale, allows for the diaphragm to be fully engaged and fuller breaths for better brain oxygenation.  When we are stressed, we tend to breathe in short, shallow breaths from our chest region only.  By incorporating abdominal breathing, you will feel calmer and your brain will thank you!
      2. Aerobic exercise physically brings oxygenated blood to your brain!  Just find something your enjoy and do it at least 4-5 times a week – dancing, walking, jogging or high intensity interval training (HIIT). A 2006 study from the University of Illinois shows that brains of older adults in those that participated in aerobic activity had significantly less atrophy compared to older adults that engaged in only stretching exercises.

 

5.  The Gut-Brain Axis:  The GI-system and the brain are connected via the vagus nerve that starts at the brain-stem and goes to all the organs, as well as the gut.  We call this the enteric nervous system – our second brain. This is important for brain health for many reasons but specifically for early detection of Parkinson’s Disease or mild cognitive impairment (brain deterioration). 

When the vagus nerve isn’t communicating, there is a higher risk of leaky gut, increase permeability of the intestinal lining, which can lead to leaky brain.  Leaky brain is a permeability of the blood-brain barrier and causes significant brain inflammation. Improving our gut health is important for this reason alone! Constipation or bloating that is progressively getting worse is a sign that the vagus nerve doesn’t work correctly causing slowed motility of the gut and decreased secretions of digestive enzymes. 

Early symptoms include:

      1. Constipation (poor peristalsis or motility)
      2. Difficulty digesting protein and fats (from low hydrochloric acid)
      3. Gastro-esophageal reflux or GERD (from low hydrochloric acid)
      4. Difficulty digesting fats (from low pancreatic enzymes)
      5. Gallbladder disorder (from low pancreatic enzymes)
      6. Leaky gut or increased permeability of the intestinal wall (poor vagal activation)

So you are probably wondering how can we improve function of our vagus nerve? Prolonged gargling of water or singing loudly activate the vagus nerve – like push ups for our gut-brain connection!

Remember, we have choices everyday that guide & determine our health and vitality as we age. In the words of Benjamin Franklin, ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’!

If you want to know more, please schedule a phone consultation to talk about the many ways to promote our brain health!  https://Rgreenberg.intakeq.com/booking

As a gift to yourself, please download this copy of Dr Kharrazian’s book, Why isn’t my brain working? An extremely informative book for anyone, of any age, who wants to prevent brain decline or improve their health.  https://kupdf.com/download/why-isn39t-my-brain-working_597ed1fadc0d60695f2bb17f_pdf

 

Resources:

https://www.thyroid.org/media-main/about-hypothyroidism/

http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1215740

http://www.biologicalpsychiatryjournal.com/article/S0006-3223(11)01193-0/fulltext

https://academic.oup.com/biomedgerontology/article/61/11/1166/630432

Heart Disease Prevention during Menopause & Beyond

heart healthMenopause doesn’t cause cardiovascular disease, but as women get older, there are diets and lifestyle adjustments that can help decrease your risk for hypertension, unhealthy cholesterol ratios, heart attack and stroke. The American Heart Association states that 1 in 3 women will be affected by heart disease after menopause and is the leading killer of women.

Estrogen and Heart Health

Before the results from the Women’s Health Initiative (WIH) became apparent, doctors routinely prescribed synthetic estrogen or hormone replacement therapy to post-menopausal women to protect them against heart disease. The thinking was that estrogen is protective and important for keeping the arteries healthy for optimal blood flow and prevention of cardiac events as women age. But 5.6 years into the randomized study, researchers found that women taking synthetic estrogen & progestins were actually at a higher risk for heart disease, stroke as well as breast cancer. In fact,  after eight years, the women on combination hormone therapy were 69% more likely to develop heart disease.The study was stopped early as it was apparent that synthetic hormone therapy was not beneficial for preventing heart disease and in fact, put these women at higher risk.1

High Blood Pressure?

Common advice from your doctor decreasing sodium intake to help decrease your blood pressure – but the real problem is often that you are not taking in enough potassium – or not absorbing enough from the fruits & vegetables that you are eating. Often, diuretics will cause this imbalance which can cause a viscous cycle since many people who have high blood pressure are also taking diuretic medications.

Magnesium supplementation also will help to increase absorption of potassium for natural lowering of your blood pressure.

Stress also can cause high blood pressure – it’s important to take a good look at all the stressors in your life and address them one by one to for overall stress reduction. Both physical and mental stress can cause increase cortisol – the stress hormone- that can increase your blood pressure significantly. A daily meditation practice, whether it’s a walking meditation or 5 minutes in the morning and at night, can help the body and mind reconnect for improved stress resiliency and calmer outlook on life events. hypertension

High Cholesterol? All Fat Is Not Created Equal…

We have also been told to decrease fat in our diet when our cholesterol is high but actually, studies show that Excessive amounts of omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and a very high omega-6/omega-3 ratio, as is found in today’s Standard American diets, are the cause of many chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. Higher omega 3 fatty acid – and lower Omega 6 fatty acid intake often helps to improve risk for heart disease. Improving your Omega 6:3 ratio to less than 4:1 (most people on a standard American diet are 10:1) improves your risk for a cardiac event by 70% over 2 years. But improving your ratio can also decrease your risk for Type 2 Diabetes by decreasing grains and high glycemic carbs for a lower HGbA1c and fasting insulin levels.2

Cholesterol is also used to make hormones like progesterone, testosterone, cortisol; estrogens- driving your cholesterol level below 150 can affect your hormone balance negatively. Cholesterol can be made from almost every cell in our bodies and is extremely important for the health of each cell.

Statin drugs are often recommended by your doctor to decrease cholesterol levels but these drugs can carry risks and are definitely worse for women. Statin drugs, as well as beta-blocker medications for high blood pressure, deplete your body of an enzyme called CoQ10 – causing muscle cramps, muscle fatigue and neuropathic pain, tingling in extremities and even mental confusion or memory problems in the elderly. This enzyme is extremely important for optimal cell functioning for the production of energy or ATP. If taking a statin or beta-blocker medication, take at least CoQ10 100mg/day for adequate replacement and energy production. Supplementing with CoQ10 also has been shown to improve arterial blood flow for decreased hypertension regardless if you are taking statins or not.

Having a high cholesterol level is not always a bad thing, unless this cholesterol is being carried around in the wrong lipoproteins (fats).

For example, having a lot of low density lipids (LDL) lipoproteins is associated with heart disease, while having a lot of high density lipids (HDL) lipoproteins is associated with reduced risk for heart disease- this is the simplified version of the story. But advanced laboratory testing can pinpoint if you are at risk for cardiac disease – looking deeper than HDL and LDL. Looking at the LDL ‘particle number’ as well as inflammatory markers like homocysteine is a more accurate risk factor that is rarely measured but an important way to look deeper into your heart health. Interesting to note that refined sugars and carbohydrates- and not fat- are what increases LDL particle number.3

Calcium Intake and Arterial Plaque

In menopause, we are often told to increase our calcium for our bone health. Sounds logical but we are now finding too much of the wrong calcium supplementation can actually increase our risk for atherosclerosis (plaque in our arteries) from calcium being deposited into the lining of our arteries – putting women at risk for heart attack. Many studies confirm the dangers of traditional calcium supplementation – especially when taken without Vitamin D3, magnesium, and Vitamin K2. Vitamin K2 assures that the calcium supplementation that is being taken into the body gets deposited into the bones – and not the arteries or kidneys. Post-menopausal women should increase their intake of green leafy vegetables and food-based, calcium (non-dairy if possible). If taking calcium supplementation, doses higher than 800mg/day should be avoided as the focus should be on calcium-rich foods for proper absorption and bone health.

Path Toward Prevention

It is easy to feel overwhelmed and not sure of what to do or what steps to take for proper heart health. Here are 5 steps you can take today to start your path toward prevention:love your heart

  1. Fiber: Flaxseeds are tiny seeds that contain soluble fiber, lignans, and plant-based omega-34 fats. All of these components may have an effect on the health of arteries or the level of blood cholesterol. As a bonus for women, lignans found in ground flax seeds help to eliminate estrogens from the body that can cause cancer. Increase your soluble fiber with vegetables and whole grains as well – oat bran in particular. A large 2015 review on the metabolic effect of oats on type 2 diabetes and Cholesterol levels. The study concluded that oat fiber significantly reduced fasting blood sugar, total cholesterol and LDL lipoprotein cholesterol levels. A meal consisting of oatmeal also reduced the post-meal blood sugar and insulin response making it the ultimate ‘slow carb’ for a low glycemic diet. Increase oat bran to 35-50gms/day to improve your LDL particle numbers and blood sugar.
  2. Supplements: magnesium, CoQ10, Vit D3, Vit K2 are all important supplements and can often be found combined in high-quality supplement brands for your heart health.
    Omega-3 fish oil, avocado, or cooking with avocado oil and olive oil as well as grass-fed beef are all great sources of Omega 3 fatty acids to add to your daily diet. The elimination of vegetable oils, transfats and minimal intake of commercial red meat can help decrease your omega 6 intake to improve your 6:3 ratio.
  3. Pay attention to your heart energy – The Heart Math Institute (heart math.org) has numerous studies explaining the importance of connecting with your heart in meditation for stress reduction and improved stress resilience in our everyday lives. Science meets mind-body medicine! Heartmath.org

Diet & Lifestyle is more important than your genetics and your genetics are not your destiny. There is much talk about your DNA profile or maybe your family history of heart disease and stroke. It is good to know your risk but it can be overwhelming. Even if you have specific genetic polymorphisms (SNPS) that put you at risk, daily choices about your diet, exercise and stress levels may be more important for prevention or reversal of heart disease. If you have a family history of high blood pressure, heart attack or stroke, it is empowering to know what you can do to prevent heart disease to make positive changes in your family history.

If you would like more information about women’s heart health programs, schedule your FREE 15 minute phone consultation – Learn how to become a Partner in your own Hormonal Health!

 

 

References:
Writing Group for the Women’s Health Initiative Investigators. Risks and Benefits of Estrogen Plus Progestin in Healthy Postmenopausal WomenPrincipal Results From the Women’s Health Initiative Randomized Controlled Trial. JAMA. 2002;288(3):321–333. doi:10.1001/jama.288.3.321. Retrieved from https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/195120

US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. The importance of the ratio of omega-6/omega-3 essential fatty acids. Simopoulos AP. Biomed Pharmacother. 2002 Oct;56(8):365-79. Review. PMID: 12442909. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12442909

ScienceDirect.com. Effects of coenzyme Q10 on vascular endothelial function in humans: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. October 25, 2011. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0021915011010173

Nordqvist, Christian. (2017, December 20). Can fish oils and omega-3 oils benefit our health?  https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/40253.php

American Heart Association. (2015, July). Menopause and Heart Disease. Retrieved from http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/More/MyHeartandStrokeNews/Menopause-and-Heart Disease _UCM_448432_Article.jsp#.Wox736inHIU

US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. A low-carbohydrate/high-fat diet reduces blood pressure in spontaneously hypertensive rats without deleterious changes in insulin resistance. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2013 Jun 15;304(12):H1733-42. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.00631.2012. Epub 2013 Apr 19. PMID: 23604708. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23604708

BMJ 2013;346:f228. Long term calcium intake and rates of all cause and cardiovascular mortality: community based prospective longitudinal cohort study. Retrieved from http://www.bmj.com/content/346/bmj.f228%20

BMJ 2010;341:c3691. Effect of calcium supplements on risk of myocardial infarction and cardiovascular events: meta-analysis. Retrieved from http://www.bmj.com/content/341/bmj.c3691

cbd oil benefits

5 Surprising Ways CBD Oils Are Beneficial To Your Health

CBD oil (cannabidiol) a cannabis derived product. Cannabidiol is the chemicals that are naturally found in marijuana plants; however, even though cannabidiol comes from the marijuana plant, it does not create the high, produce psychoactive effects or any other type of intoxication that is caused by another type of cannabinoid, known as THC. CBD is being recognized as a powerful and beneficial supplement that has a variety of anti-inflammatory properties as well as the ability to help relieve several previously untreatable diseases. Although there is some controversy around products such as CBD oil, there is also a growing awareness for the strong medicinal and therapeutic effects it produces.  We have cannabinoid receptors located throughout the body, including the brain and immune system, and it affects a variety of physiological processes including digestion, pain-sensation mood and memory. Here are just five of the potential medical uses of CBD.

Stomach & Gastrointestinal Relief

A healthy digestive system is essential for decreasing some illnesses and allowing the body to heal itself. Studies have shown that CBD oil may help to reduce inflammation, relieve the symptoms of irritable bowel disorder, including diarrhea and abdominal pain, improve appetite and ease vomiting and nausea, which is especially beneficial for those who are enduring chemotherapy and/or other treatments for serious diseases. Scientific theories are that CBD’s binds to cannabinoid receptors in the body, which play an essential role in reducing gut inflammation and regulating feeding behaviors by stimulating the appetite when they bind to these receptors. cbd oil benefits

Anxiety Relief

Generalized social anxiety disorder, which is an anxiety disorder that affects some individuals when they are placed in a situation that requires public speaking and seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which often occurs during the winter months when there is a lack of sunlight, are two of the most common forms of anxiety disorders. CBD oil may be beneficial in helping to managing anxiety, especially the symptoms of SAD and generalized anxiety disorder. Researchers believe CBD may change the way the brain’s receptors respond to serotonin, the neurotransmitter that helps to regulate mood, such as depression.

Relieves Epileptic Seizures

Several studies have been conducted for the use of CBD as a possible treatment for epilepsy. Although research is still in the early phase, it has been shown that CBD may be extremely effective in the relief of epileptic seizures and other seizure disorders. When included with existing anti-epilepsy medications, CBD may be able to reduce the number and severity of epilepsy related seizures. Research also been done regarding children with treatment-resistant epilepsy and more than 80% of the parents of epileptic children reported a reduction in the frequency of their child’s seizures, increased alertness, improved sleep and better mood while taking CBD.

Neurodegenerative Disorders

Researchers are studying how CBD is beneficial for treating neurodegenerative disorders, primarily those that cause the brain and nerves to deteriorate over time, such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis and stroke. CBD oil may help to reduce the inflammation that may also worsen the symptoms of neurodegenerative disorders. It may also help to protect brain cells from beta-amyloid toxicity, which make it extremely beneficial when used as part of the therapy for Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

Combats the Spread of Cancer

Some research/studies have shown that CBD may help to prevent the growth and spreading of some types of cancer cells. For example, one study has suggested that CBD stops the gene that is involved in the spread of breast cancer. According the National Cancer Institute, CBD may help to reduce or alleviate the symptoms of thyroid and other various cancers and the side effects of cancer treatments. In various studies, CBD has been shown to decrease the ability of cancer cells to produce energy and block the signaling of certain cancer cell proliferation. CBD has been shown to stimulate appetite, which is a significant side effect of cancer and/or cancer treatments.

CBD continues to surprise researchers in the medical field with the various health benefits it provides. It is important to understand that although there are typically no major risks or side effects associated with CBD, like anything your body is unfamiliar with, there is a possibility of side effects. It is also important to know that how CBD should be used depends greatly on what it is being used for, so it is essential that you talk with your medical provider before using CBD oil.

If you want to dive deeper into this conversation and many other topics, join our NEW, private Facebook group @MoreThanMenopause 

Set Intentions, Not Resolutions

Don’t Make New Year’s Resolutions, Set Clear Intentions This Year

Each year, thousands upon thousands of people make New Year’s resolutions only to abandon them by February. This isn’t to say that setting goals is a bad thing, but setting goals requires dedication in order to accomplish them. Instead of setting goals, one of the easiest and most realistic ways to accomplish what you set out to do is with intentions. Intention is extremely important in everything you do in life. Being focused and have clarity in your activities is what pushes you forward and allows you to close in on your goals. So, what exactly is the difference between setting goals and intentions?

Difference Between Goals & Intentions

Goals and intentions are fairly similar in that with both you plan to achieve a desired result; however, there is a difference between the two. Set Intentions, Not Resolutions

  • Goals are measurable and specific, they are generally an idea of what you think should do versus what you want to do. When setting goals, you will typically list the tasks required for the actions necessary to accomplish them. For example, if your goal is to lose 20 pounds in three months, the first thing you would do is find a diet to follow, and then you may decide to exercise three days a week and finally you may choose to take a diet supplement that is designed to give you the best results. Basically, goals are based on what you know, have researched or what friends and family may have recommended. These may be the best ways to “start” your weight loss journey, but are they really the best ways for you as an individual to lose weight?
  • Intentions may be similar to goals, but the fulfillment process is different and intentions often require you to have deeper thoughts and on a more personal level. An intention is an anticipated outcome that guides your planned actions. Making intentions is a different way to focus and a process of achievement that requires commitment, discipline and the feeling of completing something. When goals aren’t met, it is normal to have negative emotions, but after you set your intention, the actions from your heart, rather than planned out actions. Make no mistake, there is still work required and steps you will need to take, but you are turning your intuitions into achievable intentions. Setting and living intentions will allow you to focus on you and who you are, to recognize your values and increase your emotional energy, which ultimately increases your physical energy. Daily intentions provide a reminder (a road map) for how to live each day; they give the motivation and the inspiration necessary to achieve your purpose. In other words, intentions are about who you are, what you want to be and how you choose to touch the lives of yourself and others.

 

Setting Powerful Intentions

Although you can set your intention to be more productive, you will find it more powerful to state an intention that will open your heart and mind to the thinking necessary for resulting in greater productivity. To start setting powerful intentions:

  1. Visualize what it is that you want to create, have, accomplish or be. Stay concise, clear and unwavering and do not base your intentions on what you think is possible based on a past experience.
  2. Consider whether or not this is something that you think you “should: do or if it is something you believe in your heart that you want to do. Remember, “should” do not and will not bring happiness and joy to life and they don’t encourage you to move forward.
  3. Even if they don’t make sense at the time, follow your internal impulses. Keep in mind that intuition generally speaks in lower voices that your rational mind may not understand.

Setting intentions is a great way to involve your family in decisions and to encourage them to take responsibility for what they want to do as individuals as well as what they want to create in life as a family. The best thing about setting intentions is there are no rules, but there are reminders, guidelines and definitely benefits.

If you want to dive deeper into this conversation and many more, join our NEW, private Facebook group @MoreThanMenopause