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Endometriosis, Fertility and Pregnancy, Menopause and Beyond, PCOS, Prism Blog, Take Charge of Your Hormones E-Course, Transgender Wellness

Balance Your Hormones While You Sleep

 

How to Balance Hormones with Sleep.

Enough quality sleep builds our immune systems, repairs cellular damage, reduces inflammation in the body, and resets hormones (including regulating our blood sugar levels and stress hormones).  With chronic sleep deprivation (6 hours or less per night), our cortisol (stress hormone) levels begin to rise, negatively affecting not only our reproductive hormones, but also our thyroid hormones and our risk for a number of diseases, like heart disease, type two diabetes, cancer, and more. You may not think you need more than 6 hours of sleep, but your body does. Lack of sleep is responsible for 100,000 car crashes, 40,000 injuries, and 1550 deaths per year, as well as the Exxon Valdez disaster and Chernobyl nuclear accident!

Our bodies actually react to limited sleep in a similar way that they would react to starvation. Lack of sleep similarly stresses our systems, and actually increases our food intake. We feel hungrier when we’re not sleeping enough. Not only that, but our appetite for carbohydrates, especially sugar and junk foods, significantly increase. One imbalance in the system -lack of sleep- can therefore lead to a chain of negative effects in our bodies and in our lifestyles that can culminate in serious hormone dysregulation.

Insomnia has actually been shown to increase symptoms of menopause, PCOS, infertility (lack of sle, and other reproductive hormone issues.

The Rules of Restorative Sleep

  • Get to bed by 11pm. 10pm is ideal. When we stay up later than that, we get that ‘second wind’ effect, which is actually a boost of cortisol from our adrenals, preventing us from sleeping and -in the long term- causing adrenal fatigue. Setting a regular bedtime and wake-time can help us get to sleep and sleep more deeply.
  • Keep electronics out of the bedroom and don’t look at screens for 1-2 hours before bed, including your phone! If you use your phone for an alarm, turn it to airplane mode. Remember the saying: use the bedroom for only two activities, sleep and sex!
  • Sleep 8-9 hours in the darker fall/winter months and 7-8 hours in spring/summer. This is a natural seasonal rhythm for our bodies.
  • Keep your bedroom as dark as possible. No night lights or bright alarm clocks. Use thick curtains to block outside lights. Use a face mask if necessary.
  • Use ear plugs if you are bothered by sounds.
  • Eat a high protein breakfast within one hour of waking up to set a healthy melatonin-cortisol cycle for the day, ensuring you’ll be sleepy at bedtime.
  • Don’t use sleep medications, including Benadryl for sleep. They make you artificially sleepy, but prevent you from deeper more restorative rest. Alcohol can do the same thing so if you’re having trouble sleeping, avoid alcohol as well.
  • Make your bedroom cozy. You want to feel comfortable there, like you can’t wait to get to bed.
  • Manage stress levels during the day as much as possible. We all know what it feels like to be up at night ruminating over that exam or the work meeting or talk with our spouses that didn’t go well. Journaling, meditation, exercise, and other stress relief activities can help prevent this. Equally important is acknowledging our feelings, setting healthy boundaries, and asking for help when we need something. Vitamin B, D, and EPA, along with many herbs, can also be helpful for regulating stress levels.
  • Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and other stimulants after 1pm. Better yet, avoid them altogether! It gives us false energy that prevents us from rest and can lead to adrenal fatigue if overused.
  • If you’re having trouble resetting your sleep cycle, ask your healthcare provider if you should try a melatonin or magnesium supplement before bed.

Resources:

https://www.healthstatus.com/health_blog/pcos/sleep-is-critical-for-hormone-balance-and-pcos/

https://www.medscape.org/viewarticle/502825

http://natural-fertility-info.com/problems-sleeping-hormonal-balance.html


All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


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Endometriosis, Fertility and Pregnancy, Menopause and Beyond, PCOS, Prism Blog, Take Charge of Your Hormones E-Course, Transgender Wellness

10 Ways to Eliminate Cancer-Causing Estrogens

 

What are Xenoestrogens?

Xenoestrogens are hormones in the environment that mimic estrogen. Unlike naturally produced estrogens, when xenoestrogens enter our bodies they disrupt our endocrine systems, throwing our hormones out of whack and potentially causing cancer, especially breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, and prostate cancer.

Xenoestrogens are most commonly found in plastics, pesticides, beauty products, receipts, and many more household items. Some of them show up on ingredient lists or labels, like parabens, BPA, phlalates, BHA, red dye no.3, and PCBs.

10 Ways to Eliminate Xenoestrogens

  1. Don’t take receipts. Snap a photo with your phone or get an e-receipt instead.
  2. Use organic beauty products that are free of parabens. Use only nail polish that’s “5-free”.
  3. Skip the plastic bags. Use paper or reusable bags instead.
  4. Stay away from canned foods and drinks. Carbonated and acidic products like soda and tomato sauce are especially known for leaching BPA from cans.
  5. Don’t store food in plastic. Especially do not microwave food in plastic containers or styrofoam. Throw out plastic water bottles that have sat in a hot car. Switch to glass and stainless steel water bottles and food containers whenever possible.
  6. Switch to organic produce to avoid endocrine-disrupting pesticides. This is especially important for produce you can’t peel, like berries, spinach, celery, and greens. Always wash and peel non-organic produce if possible.
  7. Avoid processed foods, food dye, and food with preservatives, especially for kids.
  8. Don’t buy plastic baby toys, especially for toys that will end up being chewed on.
  9. Use chlorine-free and unbleached paper products, like tampons, pads, toilet paper, and tissues.
  10. Switch to biodegradable cleaning products like laundry detergents and dish soap. Skip the dryer sheets altogether.

All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


Contact us to see if your insurance covers services at our office!

Join the Prism Family! Subscribe to our newsletter and get $30 off your first visit.

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Endometriosis, Fertility and Pregnancy, Menopause and Beyond, PCOS, Prism Blog, Take Charge of Your Hormones E-Course, Transgender Wellness

How to Balance Your Hormones with Exercise

 

How to Balance Hormones with Exercise.

We all know exercise is good for us. We also know that too much of a good thing isn’t good after all. This applies to exercise too!

When we exercise, we put our bodies in a state of stress. Cortisol, the ‘stress hormone’, increases when we exercise just like it does when we experiences other forms of stress. This can be good, because cortisol helps to repair tissue damage caused by exercise. However, cortisol also breaks down muscle proteins, encourages fat storage, especially around the midline, and causes undue stress to our body systems, including our hormones. Stress from exercise suppresses the secretion of luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicular stimulating hormone (FSH), the hormones that stimulate ovulation and sperm production.

This means that too much exercise can cause infertility, amenorrhea (no periods), irregular cycles, and other hormonal issues. Additionally, research has shown that too much exercise can decrease testosterone in all sexes, and can decrease estrogen and progesterone in women.

Wait, I thought this was about exercise being good for hormones?

It is! In moderation. Light to moderate exercise actually reduces stress, the opposite of intense training sessions. Gentle yoga and walking are probably best known for this. Brief sessions or cardio or high intensity interval training are enough to get your heart rate up and get the health benefits of exercise without causing unecessary stress to your mind, body, or hormones. High intensity interval training (HIIT) actually increases testosterone and balances estrogen and progesterone, the opposite of excessive training sesssions.

When and how to Exercise for Hormone Regulation:

  1. Sit less: Sitting too much has many negative health effects, from cardiovascular health to muscle tension to mental health. It also messes with your hormones, especially insulin, which controls our blood sugar balance and can throw estrogen and progesterone out of whack too. Fidget, stand at your desk, walk and talk, set your phone or computer to ping at you every hour to remind you to get up and stretch, do some squats while you are watching TV.
  2. Walk more: Walking is a wonderful gentle exercise that improves hormone balance without causing extra stress. It’s also beneficial for our mental health, which in turn affects our hormones.
  3. Hight Intensity Interval Training: As well as strengthening your lungs and heart, it boosts testosterone and growth hormone, and improves insulin sensitivity. All you need is 12 to 20 minutes, three times a week. That’s it!
  4. Yoga: Not only does it improve flexibility, it also lowers your level of stress hormones and helps improve your mood. Check out yoga poses for hormone balance here.

Once you start thinking about exercise as part of your lifestyle, rather than another item on your to do list, it will start to feel fun and even like self-care. You don’t have to add any extra time to your day to stand instead of sitting, you don’t have to give up your favorite tv show, watch it during your 20 minute HIIT session! You can take a walk instead of drinking that second cup of coffee in the afternoon. When you piece all of this together, you can make major changes not only to your hormone balance, but to your overall health and mental health.


All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


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Endometriosis, Fertility and Pregnancy, Menopause and Beyond, PCOS, Prism Blog, Take Charge of Your Hormones E-Course, Transgender Wellness

6 Ways Water Helps You Balance Your Hormones

 

We Are Water.

Water makes up 1/2 to 1/3 of our body weight. Our bodies depend on water for nearly all processes. When we’re not well hydrated, our tissues aren’t well hydrated, and this can disrupt our body systems, including hormone regulation.

  1. Water is necessary to flush out excess toxins and hormones. You know this if you’ve noticed that your urine changes color and smell depending on how much water you drink and whether you take medications or vitamins.
  2. Water is part of our blood, which transports hormones around the body and carries out the excess. Water flows through our kidneys and liver to process and excrete hormones and toxins.
  3. When we are dehydrated, our bodies automatically start a stress response because our bodies know that dehydration can be a life threatening situation. A stress response elevates cortisol hormone levels, sending all of our other hormones out of whack.
  4. Water is necessary in our bowels to keep our stools soft so that they can be excreted easily, rather than causing constipation. Remember that first lesson on fiber? Fiber can’t exit our bodies (taking all of our excess hormones and toxins with it) if we don’t have water to flush it out.
  5. Our brain needs water to properly control the release and balance of the hormones throughout our systems. If our brain cells are dehydrated, they don’t function properly.
  6. Water helps us maintain our temperature and hydrate and nourish our skin and other tissues. As such, it can help combat symptoms of hormone imbalance like night sweats, hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and acne.

 

When and how to drink water:

We need to consume enough water to make up for water loss, through urine, bowel movements, vomiting, sweating, breathing, and skin evaporation. If you’re sick and have diarrhea or vomiting, or nasal discharge, you’re losing extra fluids. If you sweat a lot, exercise, or are in a very hot climate, you’re losing extra fluids.

To stay sufficiently hydrated, you should be drinking at least .5 oz of water for every pound you weigh. For example, if you weigh 140lbs, you should drink 70oz a day. Just divide your weight by two to find the ounces of water you should drink per day. This amount will be more if you are losing extra fluids. Caffeine and alcohol are dehydrating too, so if you consume these things you need extra water as well. This amount includes:

  • Water
    • 2 cups before breakfast, 1 during breakfast, 1 between breakfast and lunch, 1 during lunch, 1 between lunch and dinner, 1 during dinner, 1 after dinner.
    • 2 cups 2 hours before exercise, and 1 cup every 20 minutes while exercising
  • Lemon water
  • Sparkling water
  • Herbal tea
  • Soup
  • High water content fruits and vegetables, especially raw fruits and vegetables
  • Water ‘sole’
  • NOT juice, caffeinated beverages, soda or beverages with sugar added! These are not hydrating and not beneficial for hormone balance.

All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


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Endometriosis, Fertility and Pregnancy, Menopause and Beyond, PCOS, Prism Blog, Take Charge of Your Hormones E-Course, Transgender Wellness

Healthy Fats

 

Fat is good for you.

Coconut oil has been getting a lot of attention lately, but after 30 years of being told otherwise, you still might have a hard time wrapping your head around the fact that fat can be good for you.

We are made of fats! Fat cells make up our bone marrow and are stored in our lungs, heart, liver, spleen, kidneys, and intestines. Our brain cells are made of fats called lipids and our hormones are made of lipids too. Lipids are an essential part of our immune systems and they reduce inflammation. They form the boundaries of each of our cells and, in fact, our cells can’t communicate with each other without lipids. Our bile (remember that from the last lesson?), which helps us break down the food we eat and absorb nutrients, is derived from lipids. Lipids are necessary for us to absorb and transport fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K. Plus, our ‘body fat‘ -which, by the way, is actually necessary for storing energy, maintaining blood sugar levels, cushioning our skeleton, and keeping us warm- is of course made of fat.

Every year, ten percent of our fat cells die and are replaced. In other words, we need to make a lot of new fat cells every year. Some of this fat we can make ourselves, but certain essential lipids can only be obtained through diet. We need fats in our diets to survive!

What does this have to do with hormones?

Our hormones are made of fats called lipids. Lipids are necessary for hormone production (we can’t make our hormones without fats). A moderate amount of healthy fats daily helps us regulate hormone production.

Studies in cisgender males have shown that consumption of saturated fats (like meat and dairy) and monounsaturated fats (like olive oil) may increase testosterone production.

Studies in cisgender women have shown that saturated fats (especially from meat and dairy raised with hormones) can increase estrogen levels. However, coconut oil and avocadoes, which contain a mix of saturated and unsaturated fats, can decrease estrogen levels.

Overall, focusing on monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats -especially omegas- and avoiding hydrogenated and trans fats is the best option.

Remember the last lesson, on fiber?

Bile is produced by the liver to help us digest fats. After it has done its job, bile binds to fiber in our digestive system which allows them to be secreted together, taking toxins and excess hormones with them. Eating a fatty low-fiber meal prevents this process from happening properly. For proper hormone regulation you must include BOTH healthy fats and fiber in each meal.

Which fats to eat:

YES! Non-hydrogenated monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats:

  • Sunflower, hazelnut, olive, safflower, avocado, cottonseed, peanut, sesame, and canola oils
  • Macadamias, almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, peanuts, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, and other nuts and seeds
  • Olives, avocadoes
  • Herring, salmon, mackerel, albacore, tuna, trout, goose, duck
  • Fish oil and cod liver oil supplements

YES! to certain saturated fats:

  • Coconut oil, coconut, and coconut milk, palm oil, avocado oil and avocadoes
  • Organic grass-fed dairy and meat products

NO to other saturated fats:

  • Dairy and meat raised with hormones
  • Processed meats like hot dogs, spam, processed jerky, deli meat, and salami

NO Trans fats and NO hydrogenated fats (trans fats are illegal now, but the FDA has given companies a few years to comply with the law):

  • Margarine, shortening, fast food, tv dinners, store-bought pastries and cookies, deep fried foods, many pre-packaged and freezer foods
  • Check the ingredients! Labels list hydrogenated fats under the ingredients and trans fats under the nutrition facts.

All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


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Endometriosis, Fertility and Pregnancy, Menopause and Beyond, PCOS, Prism Blog, Surgical Recovery, Take Charge of Your Hormones E-Course, Transgender Wellness

Fiber Fiber Fiber!

 

Everyone knows fiber is important, but do you know why?

You’ve probably heard that fiber is a good way to maintain regular bowel movements. Maybe you’ve even heard about its possible role in preventing colon cancer or that fiber is beneficial for immunity. You may not know that fiber can balance your hormones too!

Fiber moves our digestion along at a healthy pace, allowing us to properly eliminate waste products -including excess hormones- rather than reabsorbing them. It is beneficial to properly eliminate both naturally produced hormones and prescription hormones, such as those used for menopause or medical transition.

PMS, mood swings, headaches, acne, heavy menstrual bleeding, spotting between periods, fibroids, endometriosis, hot flashes, breast, thyroid, and prostate cancers can all be caused by an imbalance in hormones.

If you’re not having (at least) daily bowel movements, you’re not eliminating excess hormones as often as you should be and are more likely to suffer from these conditions.

Cisgender “women are more likely affected by constipation by threefold compared with men. The female colon is longer and has more twists and turns, like a rollercoaster… We’re more likely to overuse laxatives, leading to weaker bowel muscles. We’re more likely to have painful hemorrhoids, which occur in 40 percent of pregnancies, and to restrain from pooping in public places.” Sara Gottfried MD.

How does it work?

Every time we eat, our liver produces bile, a substance full of digestive enzymes and other ingredients that help us break down fats and other nutrients into smaller particles. Some of these smaller particles are toxins (from medications, preservatives, etc) and metabolic waste products (including excess hormones like estrogen) which are then soaked up into the bile. When you have adequate fiber in your diet, this toxin-filled bile binds to fiber and together they are excreted from the body through a bowel movement, taking those toxins and waste products with it.

If you don’t have adequate fiber, bile and the associated waste products have nothing to bind to, and they don’t move through your intestines as quickly. This allows those toxins and excess hormones to be reabsorbed into the blood stream and repeatedly recirculated through your system.

That’s not all! Fiber also:

What does this mean for our hormones?

If you don’t eliminate bile fast enough, the estrogen it holds is reabsorbed and your blood estrogen levels rise. “Those estrogens can stimulate the growth of abnormal cells” including cancer cells (Wisconsin-based nutritionist Karen Hurd), as well as increase the liklihood of endometriosis, PMS, and many other issues. The same holds true for other hormones in our bloodstream and the accumulation of these hormones can cause many different hormone imbalances.

How can I prevent this cycle and balance my hormones?

“A special kind of dietary fiber called lignin, present in flax seeds, beans and lentils, binds to estrogen in the digestive tract to ensure it is eliminated and not reabsorbed into our system. Dietary fiber also feeds the beneficial probiotic bacteria living in our gut and keeps them healthy. These probiotic bacteria are important because they can also prevent estrogen being reabsorbed from our colon back into circulation” (Dr. Amanda Tracy, ND).

Are you on board yet? Great! Let’s get started.

Tips for taking fiber:

Nerd out about fiber:

“There are two types of fiber, insoluble and soluble fiber. Insoluble fiber is found in the cell walls of plants and cannot be dissolved in water. This is beneficial as it adds bulk to stools by binding with water and acting as a stool softener to assist in moving it out of the digestive tract. Soluble fiber on the other hand dissolves in water and helps to slow the passage of food through the digestive tract, lower blood sugar levels, and reduce cholesterol. Both soluble and insoluble fiber are essential to a good diet” Brandy Augustine PhD. Soluble fiber also protects the intestinal barrier and contributes to a healthy microbiome.

The following foods contain soluble fiber (to support a healthy microbiome and steady blood sugar levels):

  • Oatmeal and oat bran
  • Rice bran
  • Barley
  • Apples
  • Oranges and other citrus
  • Strawberries
  • Pears
  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Flax seeds
  • Berries
  • Chia seeds

The following foods contain insoluble fiber (to promote regular bowel movements and secretion of hormones and toxins):

  • Dark leafy greens
  • Whole grains
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Dried fruit
  • Broccoli, cabbage, asparagus, cabbage, brussel sprouts, cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Onions
  • Turnips, beets, carrots
  • Apple skin

BONUS: The following contain prebiotic fiber (to support a healthy gut microbiome):

  • Legumes
  • Wheat, barley,
  • Potatoes
  • Rice
  • Bananas
  • Artichokes
  • Onions, garlic

Resources:

More tips for avoiding constipation and maintaining a healthy gut

http://dramandatracynd.blogspot.com/2013/02/fixing-your-hormone-problems-with-fiber.html

https://bodyunburdened.com/health-benefits-of-fiber/

https://experiencelife.com/article/fiber-why-it-matters-more-than-you-think/

http://www.brandyaugustine.com/journal/2014/7/7/3-ways-dietary-fiber-helps-maintain-hormone-balance


All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


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Join the Prism Family! Subscribe to our newsletter and get $30 off your first visit.