By: Dr. Kirsten Singler, NMD
Did you know that the food you eat influences your hormones? Your diet choices can help balance your hormones whether you suffer from menopausal symptoms, irregular cycles, PCOS, or struggle with fertility. Here is a list of the top foods that balance women’s hormones and the top foods to avoid that disturb hormones.
BEST FOOD FOR WOMEN’S HORMONES:
Berries are high in three important hormone-balancing agents. They are high in calcium d-glucarate which helps to bind up extra estrogens. Similarly, they are excellent aromatase inhibitors which means they help prevent extra (unnecessary) estrogen from being produced. Additionally, berries are high in quercetin and other flavonoids that help reduce estrogen. This is an important food to include to reduce cancer risk as well as to reduce PMS symptoms and conditions of estrogen dominance.
Like berries, mushrooms are known aromatase inhibitors so they help to reduce extra, unwanted estrogen. This food is especial beneficial for conditions of estrogen dominance such as breast tenderness and premenstrual symptoms.
Flax seeds contains phytoestrogens. This food is particularly useful for menopausal or post-menopausal women who are typically lower in estrogen. The ground seed or oil can help to reduce symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes, night sweats, and mood changes. Also, flax seeds can help menstruating women have healthier, and more consitent cycles. Additionally, regular consumption of flax seed helps reduce the risk of breast, prostate, and ovarian cancer.
Brassicas are also known as cruciferous vegetables in the mustard family. These are foods such as broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, cabbage, arugala, kale, kolrabi. This group of vegetables contain special compounds that help balance estrogens. These compounds called sulphurophanes, diindolemethane, indole-3-acetate and indole-3-carbinyl help clear the liver of waste, clear out extra estrogens and reduce risk of breast, cervical, endometrial, and prostate cancer. Diindolemethane is used to prevent pre-menstrual syndrome and conditions of estrogen dominance such as fibroids, cysts, and endometriosis.
Onions & Garlic
These wonderful bulbs are rich in sulfur groups and quercetin that help your liver produce glutathione, detoxify your body, reduce risk of cancer, and reduce extra estrogen. Your liver breaks down extra hormones that your body no longer needs, so it is important to keep your liver functioning at peak performance with high levels of glutathioine. Sulfur rich food like garlic and onions give your liver that extra boost of efficiency so enjoy those roasted garlic bulbs and sweet, sautéed onions!
All citrus are high in flavones such as hesperetin, rutin, chrysin that help to balance hormones. Studies have found that hesperetin extracts can help reduce menopausal hot flashes by 50%. These flavones are mildly estrogenic as well as inhibit aromatase activity. Specifically, chrysin is used to prevent testosterone from turning into estrogen.
Green tea is loaded with epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), a special substance that helps your insulin work effectively, and helps to reduce androgens (male hormones). For women that have high levels of testosterone such as in PCOS, drinking 3-4 cups of green tea daily can help to reduce symptoms of acne, unwanted hair growth, and help establish more regular menstrual cycles. Additionally, there is extensive research showing EGCG as a profound inhibitor of cancer growth. Add a little lemon to your tea and the EGCG becomes more bioavailable.
FOODS THAT DISTURB HORMONES:
This is any food or drink that has been cooked or stored in plastic. Plastic contains compounds called xenoestrogens that disrupt the delicate hormone balance in our bodies. Xenoestrogens have been linked to infertility, endometriosis, PCOS, prostate cancer, testicular dysgenic and should be avoided. Use stainless steel or ceramic containers for lunch containers and water bottles. If re-heating food in the microwave, always use a ceramic dish. When purchasing food at the grocery, look for items that are not in a plastic container. Food that is available without a plastic container will always be healthier for you. These foods are typically legumes, fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, and whole grains.
Similar to xenoestrogens found in plastics, pesticides also have endocrine disruptors that have been linked to increased risk for certain cancers. Avoid food that has been grown with heavy amounts of pesticide by choosing organic options. Also see the Environmental Working Group’s list of the “Clean Fifteen” and “Dirty Dozen” for the food that were found highest in pesticides each year. You can find this list at www.ewg.org/
Meat raised with hormones.
In the United States, this primarily applies to cattle and sheep products such as dairy, beef, and lamb. As much as two-thirds of the cattle raised in the US are given estrogen and, or testosterone to increase growth. If you consume beef, dairy, or lamb, purchase products that are labeled “hormone free”.
By: Dr. Kirsten Singler NMD
Every New Year thousands of people renew their commitment to fitness, health, and wellness. For most, however, this commitment is short lasting with little results. If you are someone who makes an annual pledge to lose weight and get healthy but the weight always seems to sneak back on, this article is for you. In the years I have spent doing nutrition coaching and diet consultation, there are some common pitfalls that I encourage patients to avoid. These pitfalls sabotage your success and always cause cravings and rebound weight gain. Unfortunately, many people focus on restricted calories and gimmicks, and succumb to marketing pressures for short term weight loss. The problem is that they always gain the weight back and the cycle starts all over again. In truth, there are some fundamental guidelines for losing weight, feeling your best, and keeping your ideal weight without cravings or crash dieting. Below you will find the list of diet techniques that you want to avoid and the top 10 best steps you can take to actually achieve your ideal weight and health.
What doesn’t work:
Any program that focuses on calorie restriction. Calorie restriction doesn’t work in the long run because the emphasis is on the wrong thing. True health and fitness comes from actually getting good nutrition and food into your body. When you eat a diet that satisfies your body's needs, you feel energetic, you are able to work out to your max, and you don’t have cravings. Folks, the key to weight loss is getting the right food into your body. What’s more, is that this strategy is philosophically based in self nourishment and self love rather than self denial and self hatred. Imagine what you would feel like if every time you eat you are acting out of self love and appreciation. Taking action to eat food that nourishes your body with the intention of giving yourself what you need to thrive is the special formula that makes you glow inside and out.
Please avoid the following health sabotaging gimmicks: Diet Coke, Master Cleanse, amphetamines, boxed food programs. Diet Coke is problematic because studies show that aspartame actually causes weight gain, rather than weight loss. Additionally, there are multiple studies showing that aspartame may have carcinogenic effects. If you desire something low calorie and effervescent, I recommend sparkling mineral water with berries or fun garnish like mint leaves.
The Master Cleanse should be avoided because it throws your blood sugar out of balance. The MC is basically drinking sugar water all day, so your body ping-pongs through stages of low blood sugar then high blood sugar with no fiber to slow the sugar absorption. These sugar spikes and drops can affect your insulin sensitivity, pancreas function, adrenal function and overall state of well being. It can be quiet dangerous if you have issues with blood sugar, or cardiovascular or kidney problems. Also, it would never be recommended if you are a parent or someone who has responsibilities and need to make clear-minded decisions. A real cleanse, on the other hand, has agents that move the liver, aid kidney function, and aid in toxin elimination via the bowels. The MC does not do any of this. A true detox or cleanse should always be medically supervised to ensure safety and efficacy. Please avoid the MC fad diet.
Similarly, I encourage my patients to avoid amphetamines. Amphetamines can damage your heart and adrenals. They are usually used as a quick-fix weight loss strategy, but once the person discontinues the drug, the weight returns. Amphetamines never work for long-term weight loss because they disturb your natural metabolism, adrenal function, and cortisol production. They disturb sleep and recovery. Most importantly, a person who takes amphetamines never learn why they gained the weight in the first place and will go back to their old pattern of eating. The key to long term weight loss is to learn how to eat the right foods that make you feel satisfied, happy, and energetic.
This is the same reason that boxed food plans don’t work. As soon as the person stops eating the pre-made boxed meals, the weight returns. Again, the key is to learn how to consume a nutrient-dense diet that works for you.
As we discussed above, the number one, most important thing you can do is to begin to act from a state of self love and gratitude. Practice feeling gratitude and love for your life every morning before you get out of bed and every night when your head hits the pillow. Just commit to feeling 100 % gratitude while taking 10 breaths to bookmark your day. Image that you are breathing in this feeling of love and appreciation. Take deep, abdomenal breaths for the count of ten. The more you practice this, the easier it will be for your mind to maintain a constant state of self love. Also, the more you practice this, the more your body will reduce cortisol production which is tied to abdominal obesity. Furthermore, the more your practice breathing in gratitude and appreciation, the fewer food cravings you will have.
Next, you want to begin consuming nutrient-dense food, probiotics, and vitamins that will give you energy and prevent cravings. Supplements, such as probiotics, are very important because the microbes that live in your GI tact influence your food cravings. To keep it simple, if you have a lot of “bad” bacteria you will crave refined foods and junk food and have a lot of brain fog and fatigue. If you take a high quality probiotic and replenish the “good” bacteria, then you will crave more vegetables and beans. You will have increased serotonin production which cause you to feel happy and be more clear minded. My favorite probiotics are made by the following companies: Orthomolecular, Klaire, VSL, HMF. These are pharmaceutical grade, high quality, and are not available at big box stores like Cosco. You can usually find these at a medicinary that stocks pharmaceutical grade supplements. You may have to do some research to find a medicinary in your town, but it is worth the effort. And no, I don’t get any kick backs from these companies.
In addition to probiotics, you need a high quality multivitamin and fish oil. I recommend Pure Encapsulations or Integrative Therapeutics. Again, these are companies that attend to details that your average multi probably neglects. The fish oil must be hexane-free, BPA- free, mercury-free, third party certified, and from anchovies, sardines, cod and from Nordic waters. The multi must be methylated without colors and additives. Most of the high quality multivitamins are pricey, so I generally recommend Pure T/D because it has the best price point for great quality.
Finally, let's discuss the key guidelines for food. In general, to maintain health you need to consume 6 cups of vegetables daily. If you currently don’t consume vegetables at all, then I recommend that you build up slowly. Set the goal to increase veggies for 1 meal each week for 3 weeks so that week one you set the goal to have 2 cups of veggies every night at dinner, then week two you set the goal to have 2 cups for lunch, then week three you have 2 cups for breakfast. Ultimately, vegetable consumption is the best way to lose weight and keep it off. Vegetables are loaded in nutrition that give your cells then energy they need. Vegetables are also loaded in fiber, which causes you to feel satisfied. Most Americans are not eating enough fiber, so even after having a high fat, high calorie meal they are still having food cravings. The best way to kill a craving is to eat lots of veggies. By veggies, I mean broccoli, chard, cabbage, cauliflower, green beans, brussel sprouts, peas, radishes, mushrooms, kale, spinach, zucchini, and butternut squash. Salad is okay, but do not count the lettuce as a veggie as it is mostly water. If you love salads, make sure to add 2 cups of vegetables to top the salad. It may take time to build up a meal plan that includes 6 cups of veggies daily. If you consume less than 6 cups, then you will need to add a fiber supplement. I recommend Organic India psyllium husk, 2 tablespoons mixed in 20 oz. of water nightly.
Also, you want to avoid all refined carbohydrates. This includes bagels, breads, crackers, biscuits, pancakes, waffles, cereal, pizza, chips, doughnuts, cookies, French fries, noodles, pasta. Basically, these foods are nutrient deficient. They do not give your cells the energy you need for fitness. Also, they contribute to “bad” bacterial growth in the gut which causes increased food cravings, brain fog, fatigue, and inflammation.
As for hydration, I recommend drinking ½ you body weight in ounces of clean water daily. Ideally you want to drink purified water such as reverse osmosis with added trace minerals. Definitely avoid drinking water from plastic containers and regular tap water as these have contaminants that disrupt your endocrine system.
Lastly, exercise every day. Even if this means that you only do 10 sit ups before going to bed, you will seee results if you do it daily. Create an exercise schedule so you have a means to hold yourself accountable. Ideally, plan to get cardiovascular exercise 3 times a week for 45 minutes and have a daily activity that is realistic for you to maintain.
Now you know the basics of how you can achieve your health goals. Begin to make a mental map of how you can start to implement this plan. Schedule 3 hours every week that is dedicated to meal planning and grocery shopping. Schedule 45 minutes of exercise three days each week. Get a water filter for your house and work. Take a nice, deep breath of gratitude and love for life. And go get your goals for 2017!!
This article is not intended to diagnose or treat your condition. For personalized naturopathic care, please call our clinic to schedule your appointment.
by Kirsten Singler NMD
Did you know that you can lower your blood sugar by eating certain foods?
Here is a list of tasty foods to help get your blood sugar under control.
CH-CH-CH-CHIA! Who knew that those little chia pets we were growing in the eighties were so good for controlling blood sugar? Recent studies published through the National Institute of Health show that eating chia seeds helps to improve glucose tolerance, reduces blood sugar, reduces cardiac risk markers such as CRP, lipids, and inflammation. It may sound like the latest health fad, but the honest truth is that people have been eating chia seeds for centuries. Chia was one of the staple foods for Native American people. We get the name chia from the Aztecs, who called it “Chian”. If you want to start including this amazing food into your diet, I recommend trying my Chia Seed Pudding recipe. It is delicious, easy to make, and makes a great snack to take to work.
Ah, cinnamon, right in time for the holidays! If you like the sweet, spicy, warming aromatics of chai tea, pumpkin pie, and baked apples, you will love adding cinnamon to your diet. Studies show that 1-3 teaspoons of cinnamon daily helps to reduce blood sugar by 24% and improve insulin sensitivity. So go ahead, make a nice cup of warm almond milk with 1-teaspoon cinnamon as an evening ritual. Try sprinkling 1-teaspoon cinnamon on top a bowl of sliced pears or apples. If you want to go all out, try making vanilla chia pudding mixed with 2-teaspoons cinnamon. My favorite recipe for cinnamon is in my morning breakfast bowl: 1 chopped apple, 5 chopped figs, ¼ cup chia pudding, 2 tablespoons ground flax, 5 walnuts, 1-tablespoon cinnamon, with unsweetened almond milk poured over the top. I hope this gets your appetite going!
If you have a sweet tooth like me, berries can be your best choice when you need a little dessert or sweet snack. This is because berries have a lower glycemic index than a lot of other fruit like bananas or mango. Also, they are high in fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants that help modulate the effects of high blood sugar. In the summer, I make lots of berry sorbets in my blender at home, rather than buying ice-cream. In the winter, I like to stew berries with vanilla and serve them on top of yogurt, cashew cream, or coconut cream. In any season, at any time, I love them fresh as a nice sweet snack. Next time you need a little dessert, try making a new berry dish!
Broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, cabbage, collard greens, bok choy, kale, beet greens, mustard greens, kohlrabi, arugula, how the list goes on and on. These are all cruciferous vegetables in the mustard family. They are all related, and they all have some of the most powerful anti-cancer phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. These are the real heroes in the superfood movement, and they are very common, easy to cook, and inexpensive to purchase. The American Diabetic Association recommends that Diabetics should fill ½ their plate with these vegetables for every meal. This is because brassicas are a low glycemic food that helps your digestion release sugar slowly into the blood stream. I recommend trying 1 new veggie recipe a week to keep your menu exciting and interesting. Try my broccoli salad recipe and let me know how you like it!
Do you love Mexican food? Do you know how good for you those black beans are? Whether it is black bean chili, hummus, pinto beans and ham, split pea soup, mixed bean minestrone, or lentil salad, legumes are one of the best foods to include in your diet. They are high in protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. There’s a reason people have been eating beans for thousands of years. They give us the healthy carbohydrates we need to have energy. They give us the protein and nutrition we need to be healthy. They are considered a superfood for diabetics because they are high in fiber and protein which helps slow the release of sugar from the digestion into the blood stream. If you like Mexican food, then remember to get those beans on your plate. If you love hummus, then stock up so that you can take it to work and have it to snack on. If you love bean soups and stews like me, then get your crock-pot out and try new recipes from my blog or pinterest.
By Dr. Kirsten Singler NMD
Hormone balancing and hormone replacement can be a controversial and confusing subject. Lately, I have had an influx of patients experiencing detrimental effects of unbalanced hormones and hormone therapy. I am surprised and worried that so many women remain uneducated about some very important aspects of hormone therapy. If you or someone you know is thinking about hormone therapy, please make sure to read and share the list below.
Abnormal bleeding is not okay.
If you are post-menopausal and begin to bleed after starting hormone therapy, that dose is not right. I have seen many menopausal patients who are anemic due to bleeding induced by poorly and wrongly prescribed hormones. I have also seen this happen in pre-menopausal women who are prescribed excess estrogen which causes them to bleed excessively for months. Women, please know that the only normal bleeding is from day 1-5 of your cycle during your fertile years. If you are bleeding more than that, you need to have your hormones tested and modulated.
Extra body hair, acne, irritability is likely a sign of excessive testosterone.
This is another sign of wrongly prescribed hormones that I see far too often. Women are presenting to the clinic on testosterone doses that put their blood levels in the same range as a young man. Oftentimes, blood levels had not been tested. Please know that even though we need this important hormone, if too much is given it will result in problems listed above as well as polycythemia vera, risk of stroke and breast cancer. Women need very little testosterone and should always have the serum levels tested when undergoing hormone therapy.
Test your hormone levels.
Ladies, this is a must. For starters, if you go to a doctor with hormone-type symptoms it is only prudent that you get the proper work-up to determine the origin of the symptoms. For example, I had a patient who came to our clinic because she had hormone-centered symptoms, and desired hormone therapy. It turned out, however, that after we ran her blood work her hormones were fine but her thyroid had serious problems. Before seeing me, she had been prescribed hormones by her OBGYN (without testing) that were obviously not working, because her problems were in the thyroid.
Another reason you must get your hormone blood levels tested is to know if you are in a normal range or spiking outside the norm. For example, my patient, who had been getting testosterone injections and had blood levels as high as a young man, had not had her hormones tested, so was unaware that she was so far out of range. What’s more is that the high testosterone had caused her to develop a condition called polycythemia vera that was also undetected until we ran her blood labs.
If you are having symptoms of hormone imbalance you need labs to confirm and diagnose exactly what is going on. If you are pre-menopausal, you need labs run between days 3-5 of your cycle and then again between days 21-25. You doctor should be checking to ensure your estrogen and progesterone are at or above specific numbers for health, fertility, or to reduce risk of cancer. If you are menopausal and decide to undergo hormone therapy, you need to have labs run regularly to confirm that your serum levels are in a healthy and protective range.
Know the difference.
Hormones are all different and have different actions in the body. Let’s start with the estrogens. There are three different estrogens in women: estrone, estradiol, estriol. Each has different structure, function, and associated risk. Note that the difference is in the ending of the word, so they are easier to differentiate as E1, E2, and E3. Studies implicate estrone with increased cancer risk, while estriol has been associated with decreased cancer risk. Now, here’s the complicated part; the most common hormone replacement used in the US is Premarin. Premarin is made out of horse urine and is not the same as the estrogens found in a human’s body. Premarin is estrone sulfate, equilin sulfate and equilenin sulfate and studies show that it can increase risk of cancer. For the most part, naturopathic doctors use bio-identical estradiol and estriol while avoiding estrone and Premarin. The bio-identical estrogens are typically made from plants.
Now let’s talk progesterone. The most commonly prescribed progesterone is not actually progesterone, but is a progesterone look-alike called progestin. Progestin is synthetically derived and studies show that it can induce a proliferative effect on cancer, in other words, increase cancer risk. In fact, the Women’s Health Initiative found increased risk of cancer when using conjugated horse estrogens with progestin. Meanwhile in Europe, bio-identical progesterone is used and studies have shown that it may be protective against cancer. Bio-identical progesterone is made from yams or soy beans and has the exact same structure as the progesterone found in a woman’s body and that is why they call it by the same name.
Know the risks.
Your doctor should educate you about the risks associated with hormone replacement that includes breast cancer, heart disease, polycythemia vera, and stroke. Your personal risk factors should be assessed before starting such a therapy. Risk factors include history of cancer, family history of cancer, age, diet, lifestyle, and weight. Your doctor should also educate you about the risks of hormone deficiency such as reduced bone density, reduced muscle mass, increased risk of type II diabetes, reduced mood and memory, increased risk of dementia. If your doctor has not informed you of these risks and answered all of your questions, then you likely need to find a better doctor.
Know your options.
If you have symptoms of hormone imbalance, you have many options. Rather than taking hormones, you may choose to use botanicals that help to heal the endocrine (hormone) system. In this way, you get your glands and organs to function optimally again. You may also choose to make educated diet and lifestyle changes to eliminate harmful chemicals from your body. These pollutants have special affinity for the hormonal systems in the body. Once removed, the body regains its natural ability again. Additionally, acupuncture has been used for thousands of years to naturally balance the body’s hormones. Finally, as a last resort, bio-identical hormone therapy can be prescribed at the safest dose, based on the research.
Signs and symptoms that warrant hormone evaluation:
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
Premenstrual dysphoric syndrome
Fibroids, endometriosis, pelvic cysts
Excessive menstrual bleeding
Swelling and bloating
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
Share with others.
If this article has been helpful to you, please share it with your friends and family. My goal in writing this is to bring awareness to women’s health and to get women talking and asking the right questions so that we can live happy and healthier lives.
Top Foods for Male Health By Dr. Kirsten Singler, NMD
Did you know that hormones such as testosterone can be affected by the food you eat? Here is a list of foods to increase in your diet so you can achieve optimum hormonal function and prevent disease.
Foods that reduce unwanted estrogen:
Estrogen is a normal hormone found in both men and women, but excess estrogen can disturb the balance of male hormones and lead to disease. The following foods contain constituents such as indole-3-carbinol that facilitate excretion of excess estrogen. Berries specifically help prevent testosterone from turning into estrogen. Ideally consume at least a cup of 1 of these foods to daily.
• Bok choi
• Brussel sprouts
• White button mushrooms
Foods that protect the prostate:
Prostate disease is so prevalent nowadays; it is estimated that 70% of men will have BPH by age 70, and prostate cancer is the 2nd most common cancer diagnosed in men today. With statistics like that we should be doing all we can to protect this important gland. Some of the best protective agents are found in the foods listed below. Tomato paste is high in lycopene and found in a now famous 2014 Harvard study to reduce risk of prostate cancer by 36%. The men with reduced cancer risk consumed 10 servings of tomato-based food each week. Additionally, pomegranate has been shown to slow prostate cancer growth and reduce PSA, the protein produced by cells in the prostate gland. Cherries and other berries with dark red and purple skin have powerful antioxidants. Their proanthocyanidins have also been found to reduce cancer. Consider green tea, pumpkin seeds, and nettle root which help to prevent dihydrotestosterone and estrogen from causing painful prostate enlargement.
• Tomato paste (unsweetened)
• Pumpkin seeds
• Green tea
• Nettle root
Foods that boost testosterone:
The building blocks of testosterone begin as cholesterol fats and vitamin-D. Healthy fats such as avocado and eggs help keep your cholesterols available for hormone production. Also, food high in vitamin-D such as cod liver oil, salmon, sardines, liver, black beans, mushrooms (and of course sunlight) aid in testosterone synthesis. Other agents needed to synthesize testosterone are minerals such as selenium, zinc, and magnesium. Brazil nuts are a significant source of selenium when 2 nuts are eaten each day. Magnesium is found in all the leafy green vegetables such as spinach. Oysters have long been touted as a testosterone boosting food due to their high zinc content, but these are currently not recommended as they are grown in highly polluted waters. For increased zinc, I recommend pumpkin seeds listed above.
• Brazil nuts (2 per day)
• Salmon (wild caught)
• Crab (wild caught)
• Organic beef or chicken liver
• Black beans
• Cod liver oil
How to avoid excess estrogen and hormone disruptors:
1. Lose weight. Unfortunately fat tissue induces a process called aromatization, which basically means estrogen production. One of the best things a man can do to help regulate his hormones is to get his body fat down to at least 20%.
2. Avoid plastics, pesticides, chemical cleaning products, and many beauty products. These contain agents such as bisphenol A, xenoestrogens, phthalates, dioxin, atrazine, perchlorate, glycol ethers. You can easily avoid these harmful agents by using glass, ceramic, or stainless steel containers in your kitchen, choosing organic food, using natural cleaners, and reading the labels of personal care items. Be mindful of places such as golf courses, dry cleaners, and mechanic shops where these contaminants are abundant.
3. Avoid hormone-raised animal products. In the United States, this primarily applies to cattle and sheep products such as dairy, beef, and lamb. As much as two-thirds of the cattle raised in the US are given estrogen and, or testosterone to increase growth. If you consume beef, dairy, or lamb, purchase products that are labeled “hormone free”.
4. Avoid refined carbohydrates. Refined carbohydrates increase insulin levels which is tied to decreased testosterone production in men. Furthermore, a diet high in refined carbohydrates typically leads to increased fat mass which causes increase production of estrogen via aromatization.
If you would like to learn more about how your diet is effecting your specific health concerns or hormone condition, please call our office at 480-636-1068 and book an appointment.
by Dr. Kirsten Singler NMD
In traditional Chinese medicine, each organ system is thought to be vulnerable during certain seasons. According to this system, the fall is the time of year to protect and nourish your lungs. Whether you struggle with chronic asthma, allergies, seasonal allergies, or just need to boost your immune for the upcoming cold and flu season here is a list of 5 things to help protect your lungs.
Mullein leaf tea
Mullein leaf, also known as Verbascum, is a beautiful flowering plant that has been used for centuries to strengthen and tonify the lungs. It is wonderful for people with a history of lung damage from smoking, pollution, asthma, or chronic infection. The tea can be made by bringing 1 cup of water to a boil, add 2 tablespoons mullein leaf, cover and turn the heat off. Let your tea steep for 30 minutes at least so that it extracts the medicinal elements from the leaf. Many of my patients enjoy making large batches of this tea to drink through the week. Mint, vanilla, licorice, or other herbs may be added for flavor.
N’acetyl cysteine is an amino acid that helps to strengthen and clear mucous out of the lungs. It aids the body in detoxification and clearing pollution from the lungs. A typical dose is 600 mg 2-3 times daily.
Get cardiovascular exercise
This is when your heart rate goes up and your lungs have to work to get that precious oxygen into the body. Your whole body works in unison to become stronger, pump oxygen-rich blood through your whole system, and flush out those sponge-like lungs with fresh clean air.
Clear the air
Keep the air in your house as clean as possible. Eliminate the use of fragrances, plug-ins, harsh cleansing agents, smoke, pesticides, and herbicides. Use HEPA air filters, keep dust to a minimum, consider adding an extra air filter for your bedroom, and bring in air purifying plants. Studies done in polluted cities in India showed that asthma symptoms were reduced when people added plants such as dragon’s tongue, spider plants, and palm to their rooms.
Remember that our breath gives us life. Start a habit of conscious breathing. One of the best ways to start a practice of intentionally breathing is to take 10 deep belly breaths every morning when you first open your eyes. Take time with each breath so that you can count to 5 while you inhale and another count to 5 while you exhale. Place your hand on your stomach and aim to breathe so that you can see your stomach rise with inhale and then fall with exhale. During this time, fill your body with gratitude for your life.
by Dr. Kirsten Singler NMD
Detoxing you home is just as important as detoxing your body. Today, environmental contaminants are found in many common items in our homes. When we are surrounded with these contaminants, they enter into our lungs, into our skin, into our mucous membranes and therefore into our bodies. Over time, these agents disrupt our hormones, thyroid function, immune function, and inhibit the vitality of the body. There are numerous studies that show each contaminant’s effect on the body and the disease process that it creates. If you are curious about the studies, use educational agencies such as The Environmental Working Group and The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences as starting points for your research.
Once ready to detox your house, I recommend that you start making the changes that come easily such as removing shoes and swapping out cleaning supplies. Once you have made the easiest changes, make a plan to address the more complex items such as furniture made from composite woods. Set goals on your calendar so that you can break this down into multiple little projects, rather than one overwhelming project. Also, choose 1 room each month that you plan to detox. The key to success in making these changes, is in taking it step by step and setting attainable goals.
Start with simple steps:
Then move into larger projects:
Use the following cleaning supplies:
Personal beauty supplies:
Are you one of those people who always seem to catch whatever’s going around? Do you hear someone cough nearby and cringe because you know the germy droplets are headed your way? Are you tired of using all your sick days for sick days???
Many people suffer during cold and flu season. They suffer multiple episodes of sore throat, bronchitis, and are susceptible to the dreaded flu. If you had any of these illnesses recently, then you know how bad it feels, and how getting sick is like a road block in your life. Getting sick prevents you from achieving your goals and living life to the fullest.
Since antibiotics are not effective for viral infections, the best treatment is prevention. Here are the top tips for boosting your immune and avoiding the perils of cold and flu season:
1. Reduce foods that deplete the immune system.
Coincidentally cold and flu season takes place during the time of year when people tend to consume high amounts of sugary, dairy laden sweets. Unfortunately, these food reduce immune function. One of the most important things you can do to stay healthy is to avoid sweets as much as possible.
2. Increase immune boosting foods.
Have you ever heard the expression that garlic keeps the vampires away? Well, in this case, the vampire is the virus. Foods such as garlic, onions, citrus, carrots, leafy greens, and fatty fish help to boost the immune system. Garlic and onions have antimicrobial constituents that help your immune fight off any unwanted microbes. Fresh fruits and vegetables have vitamin C and beta-carotene that strengthen your immune. Fatty fish have vitamin D that also helps to strengthen your immune. Pumpkin seeds are high in zinc, another immune boosting mineral. Consuming these foods on a daily basis helps give you the fortitude you need to stay healthy.
3. Get adequate sleep.
When you sleep, your body heals. All it takes is a few late nights before a person becomes susceptible to getting sick. During this time, practice good sleep hygiene. Set a bedtime for yourself so that you will get 8 hours of rest. Create a ritual so that you are home 1 hour before bedtime, and in the process of unwinding and preparing for rest. Turn down the lights in your house, turn off any media, and make sure you are in bed 30 minutes before your bedtime.
4. Wash your hands.
Everyone has been taught to wash their hands to prevent illness. But this is a reminder that during cold and flu season you want to be vigilant about this. Always wash your hands after being in public places. You can also carry a nontoxic hand sanitizer to use after handling items in public.
5. Stay away from sick people.
If you hear or see someone coughing excessively, a rattling mucousy cough, or people blowing their nose in public, just stay clear. Don’t go stand in line next to the guy who is coughing. Be mindful of your environment. You may also choose to run errands during the “off” hours, when people are less likely to be out and about sharing their germs.
6. If you do get sick, see your Naturopathic doctor.
While conventional medicine only offers antibiotics and vaccines, Naturopathic doctors have many therapies that help to kill viruses, bacteria, and boost the immune. Your naturopath may recommend nutrient IVs that are loaded with vitamin C to get your immune system working at full potential. Similarly, your doctor may recommend botanicals such as astragalus, ligusticum, larch, sambucus, glycyrrhiza, monolauren that are known anti-virals. Your doctor may decide to work you up for nutrient deficiency and recommend supplementation based on the deficiency. Vitamin D deficiency is very common in the US, and often the cause of frequent infections. It is important to see your doctor for work up on and recommendations because self-prescribing these supplements can be hazardous to your health. The take home message is: see your naturopath and get treated with medically-prescribed nutrients, botanical medicine, acupuncture, and hydrotherapy. This will help you get well quickly and solve the underlying immune vulnerability. Aa a naturopathic doctor, I offer many therapies to keep my patients healthy and happy.
What’s your craving? Pizza? Mexican food? Late night sweet-treats? The candies you keep at your desk? If you are like most people this time of year you are trying to stick to a new health regime, but those darn cravings keep getting in the way. The more you resist, the stronger they become, until all of a sudden you find yourself scarfing down a bag of chips on the way home from your best intentions. Well, cravings don’t have to be the enemy. Cravings are just misunderstood. Once you understand your cravings, they lose their power over you.
Here is a list of the most common food cravings and what they could be trying to tell you:
Chips or all things salty & crunchy
This is commonly due to a mineral deficiency. In today’s society, fruit and vegetables are grown on soil that has been used and depleted of many nutrients such as minerals. Foods that are typically high in minerals are not consumed regularly. Also complicating these factors is living in a desert environment like Arizona where people are usually sweating out minerals without even noticing, further depleting their mineral stores. Another common cause of mineral deficiency is drinking reverse osmosis (purified) water. This water is so pure that the minerals have been removed, thus causing the water to draw minerals out from your own body.
One of the best things you can do to prevent chip cravings is to reach for mineral rich foods such as nori snacks, any of the seaweeds, sliced cucumber with vinegar and salt, and thin sliced jicama with lime and salt. Also, consider seeing your naturopathic doctor for work-up and individual recommendations. You may need specific mineral supplements that he or she will prescribe.
Fatty foods like pizza, cheese, bacon, salami
If you are craving fatty foods, your body is trying to tell you that you need healthy fats in your diet. There are good fats that make your cell membranes strong, help you think more clearly, build the integrity of the nervous system, reduce pain and inflammation in the body. Bad fats actually increase inflammation and pain, make your cell membranes weak, and cause brain fog. Generally bad fats are found in any food you could call “junk food”. I know you know what that means; pizza, fast foods, burgers, fries, late night taco wagon type foods, dairy produced with hormones, hydrogenated oils, oils cooked at high heat. If you are craving these foods, you need more good fats in your diet. Good fats are found in pharmaceutical grade fish oil, flax oil, hemp oil, walnuts, avocados, coconut, sesame, pumpkin seeds, grass-finished beef, wild caught salmon, wild caught cod, and organic free-range eggs. Next time you are craving something like pizza, break down the ingredients in your head. Realize that you probably need the carbohydrates, protein, and fats but in healthier forms. Make or find a healthier, alternative pizza made with pasture raised goat cheese with extra veggies. If you are craving lard-laden Mexican food, choose a menu item that uses vegetarian beans with guacamole. Substitutions like this will help you feel satisfied without the burden of a food coma.
Ok, this is probably the biggest craving that people have and it needs some breaking down. Sweet cravings usually originate from multiple sources:
1. You are thirsty. Many people are not getting adequate water during their day and they misinterpret their body’s signal for water, as a desire for sugary foods. Are you one of these people? Are you drinking ½ your body weight in ounces of water daily? For most adults that is usually about 1/2 gallon to 1 gallon water daily. Before reaching for the bag of M&Ms in your desk drawer, try drinking 1 quart of water and notice if that solved your craving.
2. You are just plain hungry for a meal. Frequently, when people crave sweets they are actually caught in a cycle of blood sugar spikes and crashes. This happens when a person consumes a high carb breakfast, or skips breakfast, which leads to a quick drop in blood sugar. When your blood sugar plummets, sugar cravings increase. The only way to stop this cycle is to have a proper meal with high quality protein, fiber, a little carbohydrate and fat. A good meal will stabilize your blood sugar and prevent cravings.
3. You may need more serotonin. Many people use sweets to boost their serotonin. This is a more detailed cause of cravings, and if you think you fall into this category then see your naturopathic doctor for work-up and treatment.
4. You may be bored. Sugar is a stimulant after all. People commonly turn to sweets out of boredom. Rather than eating, find activities that brighten up your day. Listen to your favorite music, practice deep belly breaths, take a quick walk around the building, go outside, run in place for 2 minutes, do 20 jumping jacks. The idea is to change up your routine and do something that invigorates you.
Overall, when dealing with cravings, the best thing you can do is give your body the nutrition you need. Cravings are a sign that something is out of balance. Pay attention to the signal and ask yourself what the underlying message is. If you need additional help figuring out your cravings, I recommend seeing a naturopathic doctor who can look at your unique nutritional needs and create a treatment plan so that you feel satisfied, energetic, fit, healthy, and craving-free!
Curious about cupping? The Chinese medical therapy called “cupping” has been getting copious media attention as Hollywood stars Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Aniston, and Justin Bieber show off the tell-tale marks from their classic cupping sessions. You may be wondering about this therapy and its potential benefits for your health.
Cupping therapy is part of traditional Chinese medicine that has been used for over 1000 years to eliminate pain, headaches, respiratory conditions, digestive disorders, gynecological conditions, and reduce adhesions. In practice, I find it most efficacious in reversing chronic pain. Typically, I use it for patients who have chronic back pain that radiates from the neck, shoulders, low back and especially the hips. I have seen wonderful results in treating tension headaches. This is also an excellent therapy for runners with knee pain and tight IT bands.
Simply put, cupping therapy brings blood flow to the muscle and fascia of a region. This increased blood flow allows for necessary nutrients to flow into a region. With the increased blood flow, the body can then clear out waste products that have been locked up in stagnant tissue. When you are dealing with chronic pain, usually the tissue becomes fibrotic, less flexible, range of motion is decreased, and there is reduced blood flow to the region. I consider 1 session of cupping to be the therapeutic equivalent of 5 massages. Muscles get the needed blood flow, stagnation is removed, and regions that were locked up become open and free-moving.
The therapy consists of using specialized glass cups heated with a flame, and then applied to the locked up muscles. The cups are either left to rest, or your doctor will gently glide them along the skin. Patients report that they feel a mild pulling sensation. After the session, you may have the infamous marks similar to those seen recently on the beautiful Gwyneth Paltrow; generally circular and reddish in color. The marks clear up in a few days and are completely normal. After the cupping, your doctor will instruct you to increase your water consumption, avoid strenuous physical activity and extreme heat for 24 hours. The benefit is usually felt within two days of cupping. Depending on the severity of the condition, you may only need one session to feel permanent relief from chronic pain. If you have been suffering for many years, you may need three or four consecutive treatments to finally clear out and heal all the fibrosis, but you will notice benefit after the first therapy.
I love using this therapy because my patients get immediate relief. Frequently, I combine cupping with a standard acupuncture session which increases the effectiveness of treatment. Begin your journey to pain free living today. Call Santan Natural Medicine at 480-636-1068 to book your appointment with me today!