Why Hormonal Birth Control May Not Be the Best Choice

not sure if the pill is right

Maybe you used to think that using the Pill was no big deal. But did you know that using hormonal birth control to treat symptoms (such as acne or heavy periods) is only covering up an underlying issue and potentially allowing the symptoms to get worse or the underlying issue to progress? Maybe you used the Pill for its intended use – to prevent pregnancy. But did you know that while it can be extremely effective, there are some major negative consequences of long-term use? Some of the side effects are heart attack, stroke, blood clots, skin & breast changes, hair loss, effect on your libido, and so much more. And that doesn’t begin to cover the increased risks of depression, plus the hormonal mess this kind of birth control can create.

So if you are considering ditching the pill or another form of hormonal birth control, it’s important that you understand what happens when you stop using it. Please read on so you have the info you need…

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU GO OFF BIRTH CONTROL

You may think going off of hormonal birth control will lead you to regular cycles and no side effects, (and a few lucky people DO start regular cycles again and have minimal symptoms), but that likely won’t be the case. Because most women using hormonal birth control (like The Pill) are doing so to regulate hormonal imbalances, that means that when they stop using it, their hormonal imbalance symptoms return. This equates to menstrual irregularities, acne, hair loss, mood swings, depression, anxiety, and vaginal infections. Symptoms usually show up withing 4-6 months after discontinuing use.

This is called post-birth control syndrome (PBCS).

pcbs quote

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF PBCS

Post-birth control syndrome has been around since the introduction of hormonal birth control. The underlying causes can include nutritional deficiencies, impaired liver, stress, and more. If you’re suffering from PBCS you may have some of the following symptoms:

  • Infertility
  • Menstrual irregularities such as loss of menstruation, painful periods, short cycles, or heavy menstruation
  • Acne
  • Breast tenderness
  • Headaches/migraines
  • Adrenal dysfunction
  • Weight gain or difficulty losing weight
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Hair loss
  • Blood sugar dysregulation
  • Leaky gut
  • Gas or bloating
  • Inflammation and other immune imbalances

Not a lot of fun, right? Luckily, with a few diet & lifestyle changes you can beat post-birth control syndrome and all without using anymore drugs that might affect your body negatively.

What do you need to do?

HOW YOU CAN REBALANCE YOUR HORMONES

pcbs health tips

Realign your gut. Using hormonal birth control can disrupt gut flora and create an environment that breeds harmful bacteria which can lead to leaky gut. You can help restore your gut by incorporating fermented foods like sauerkraut and fiber-rich foods such as flaxseeds into your diet. You could also reduce the amount of grains, legumes and processed foods you consume, as they can be hard to digest. Start taking gut healing supplements such as probiotics and fish oil.

Replenish your nutrients. Birth control has been shown to deplete important nutrients your body needs, including folate (vital for fetal development if you want to get pregnant), B12, B2, B6, Vitamins C & E, and more. Restoring nutrients to your body should be at the top of your to-do list! Make changes to your diet by incorporating plenty of fruits & veggies, plus quality fats and grass-fed meats. Also, up your supplement game by taking a good prenatal vitamin that has plenty of zinc, magnesium, Vitamins A & D, and the rest of the nutrients mentioned.

Love your liver. Your liver removes excess hormones, but birth control can cause a hormonal buildup, making it harder for your liver to detox what it needs – especially because the process relies partially on B vitamins which birth control can deplete. This means your liver needs some major TLC after  going off birth control! It’s not a bad idea to do a detox to clean out your liver, for starters, as well as adding liver-supporting foods to your diet such as beets, dandelion root tea, and garlic.

Dial back the stress. Chronic stress causes adrenal fatigue which messes with the hypothalamus & pituitary glands that help regulate the menstrual cycle causing irregular cycles and sometimes leading to amenorrhea (no longer having periods). If you’re trying to overcome post-birth control syndrome your cycle may already be out of whack so managing stress is essential. Try meditation, journaling, yoga, going for a run, or whatever helps you relax, on the reg to maintain lower stress levels!

Up your sleep game. You know sleep is important, but sometimes it just seems that there’s too much to do and you don’t get enough. Plus, chances are you aren’t getting as good of a sleep as you might think due to late night TV, tablet reading, or cell phone/device use. All of these affect your body’s natural sleep process in negative ways. You’ve likely heard of circadian rhythms – the natural, internal process that regulates the sleep-wake cycle and repeats roughly every 24 hours. This affects all endocrine hormones, some of which are vital to maintaining a regular menstrual cycle. When you get less than enough or ineffective sleep, these hormones aren’t released at the right times. One of the biggest ways to combat this is by reducing your light exposure at night. Try using blackout curtains or even a sleep mask to have as little light as possible near you while trying to sleep. And turn off the TV and electronics at least an hour before bed – their artificial light tricks the brain into staying awake! Plus, you can up your ‘sleep health’ by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. You’ll soon find you sleep better than ever.

Identify your hormone imbalances & fix the issue. The Pill works by shutting down the conversation between your ovaries and your brain, so when you stop taking it they sometimes have issues starting the conversation back up again. And the synthetic hormones in the Pill impact estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, insulin, cortisol, and the thyroid. It’s no surprise that all of this disruption results in mood swings, painful periods, and more! The first thing you should do if you’re suffering symptoms of PBCS is to get your labs checked – this includes comprehensive thyroid testing, adrenal testing, and checking sex hormones. Once that’s done and you’ve discovered the root cause of your symptoms you can work with an integrative wellness practitioner to develop a plan that balances your hormones and gets your ovaries & brain speaking once again.

 

WHAT TO DO NEXT

If you’ve decided to go off hormonal birth control, I want to support you on taking the first step to a healthier better you! If you find yourself suffering from any of the symptoms of post-birth control syndrome, I’d love to help you with that. Let’s chat so I can help you identify what’s going on with your hormones and get you back to feeling happy, healthy, and normal in no time! Before you know it you’ll feel like your best self yet.

Ditch Hormonal Birth Control & Reap the Benefits

birth control pills

Hormonal birth control isn’t for everybody. While it can be extremely effective, there can be negative consequences with long-term use. Chances are if you’re reading this you’re concerned about those long-term negative consequences.

The downfalls of hormonal birth control include:

  • heart attack
  • stroke
  • blood clots
  • skin changes
  • breast changes
  • long-term cancer risk
  • estrogen dominance
  • hair loss
  • effect on libido

And if you’re over 35 and/or a smoker you run the risks of:

  • blood clots
  • vein inflammation
  • breast cancer
  • migraines (sometimes with aura)
  • high blood pressure
  • heart problems
  • diabetes
  • liver disease

This doesn’t begin to cover the increased chances of depression, suicidal ideation, and mess of hormones this kind of birth control can create. So, what’s a woman to do? How can you protect your health while still being in control of whether you get pregnant or not? Luckily, the answer is easier than you think.

Why Non-Hormonal Rocks

Besides being safer for you, using non-hormonal methods of birth control means that you have a huge variety of options – many more to choose from than hormonal methods. Have a quick look at some of these methods before we go into greater detail on each:

  • male condoms
  • female condoms
  • diaphragm
  • cervical cap
  • spermicide
  • sponge
  • intrauterine devices (IUD)
  • vasectomy
  • tubal ligation
  • natural family planning (or fertility awareness)
  • withdrawal
  • herbal birth control

Using any of these options means you won’t suffer the side effects of hormonal birth control & you won’t alter the natural cycle of your body. Plus, if you have insurance that doesn’t cover hormonal birth control in the first place, one of these non-hormonal methods will have you ready for action. (And the majority are inexpensive to boot!) Finally, these methods of birth control are easily available for the most part and the majority don’t require a prescription of any kind. Essentially this is a win-win all around for you and your body!

condoms

12 Non-Hormonal Birth Control Methods That Will Have You Covered

Let’s take a closer look at each one of these methods so you can decide which one (or more than one because they can be used in conjunction with each other) is best for you!

  1. Male Condoms:These are obviously the most popular form of non-hormonal birth control and the most readily available. Male condoms come in a variety of colors, textures, and materials, and are incredibly inexpensive. Often you can even get them for free at health clinics, etc. The most common material is latex (although if you or your partner are allergic to latex other options are available!). Besides preventing unwanted pregnancy they also prevent STDs and STIs. Used correctly they are 98% effective but with typical use they are 85% effective. To be effective you must use them each and every time you have sex. The downsides to male condoms include running the risk that you might not have one handy when a situation arises, possible need for extra lubrication during sex, possible change of sensation during sex, risk of being allergic to condom materials.
  2. Female Condoms:These provide the same benefits as their male counterparts, however, they are slightly harder to find and a bit more expensive. They can also be used by people allergic to latex. Used correctly they are 95% effective but with typical use they are 79% effective. Female condoms can also be a bit tricky to insert correctly at first, so it’s best to practice before actually using one for protection during sex.
  3. Diaphragm: A diaphragm is a small flexible cup made of silicone that closely resembles a menstrual cup. This non-hormonal birth control method does require a prescription, but it is effective immediately and can be used for up to two years. It covers the cervix during sex and blocks the transfer of sperm. You can leave it in for up to 24 hours, but you should wait 6 hours after sex to remove it. The diaphragm is 94% effective with correct use and 88% effective with typical use. Correct usage of the diaphragm involves pairing it with spermicide. It does not protect against STDs or STIs and cannot be used during your period.
  4. Cervical Cap: This method is just like the diaphragm except that it’s smaller. It also requires a prescription, can be used up to 2 years, and should be used with spermicide. The effectiveness rate of the cervical cap ranges from 60%-80%.
  5. Spermicide: This non-hormonal birth control is exactly what it sounds like – a chemical that kills sperm. Spermicide comes in lubricants, gels, or foams and works two ways: A) coating the cervix & blocking sperm or B) slowing, stopping, or killing sperm before it reaches the egg. Used by itself spermicide has an 82% effective rate with perfect use but a 72% effective rate with typical use. However, spermicide is really meant to be used in conjunction with a barrier method of birth control (aka condoms or diaphragms) which increases its effectiveness greatly. While easy to use, inexpensive, and prescription-free this method of non-hormonal birth control does come with a serious downside. Because spermicide is a chemical it may cause skin irritation around the genitals which increases your risks of genital lesions and HIV.
  6. Sponge: The contraceptive sponge is made of squishy plastic foam and contains spermicide, making it a combination of the above methods. It is inserted into the vagina prior to sex to create a barrier over the cervix while the spermicide kills any sperm that comes into contact with it. In women who have never been pregnant, it is 91% effective with perfect use and 88% with typical use. In women who have given birth before, it is less effective at 80% with perfect use and 76% with typical use. While the sponge may stay in for up to 24 hours, it should not stay in any longer. While rare, the sponge carries with it the risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) most often associated with tampons. The sponge may also increase your risk of yeast infections and vaginal dryness.
  7. Intrauterine Devices (IUD): The non-hormonal IUD contains copper and may possibly be the best option out of all of these listed. With this method of birth control you don’t have to worry about taking a daily pill, you don’t have to worry about making sure you have supplies like a diaphragm on hand every time you have sex, and it’s reversible at any time should you decide you’re ready to have children. And this method of non-hormonal birth control is >99% effective at preventing unwanted pregnancy! Plus, the side effects are minor and typically involve cramping, heavy bleeding during periods, and spotting between periods (though these tend to wane over time). The only other concern with this method involves the copper. This IUD alone wouldn’t put you at risk for copper toxicity but if you are already around a lot of copper a lot of the time your risk would rise. Then you could be looking at fatigue, super heavy periods, digestion problems, and excess estrogen. Again, this is a minuscule risk and only really probable if you spend a large amount of time around excess amounts of copper for some reason. Overall though, this method of birth control could be your best bet.
  8. Vasectomy: If you’re looking for a permanent birth control solution, this is one option. A vasectomy is a sterilization method for males that involves cutting the tubes in the scrotum that sperm go through as they travel to exit the body. It is a fairly quick procedure and does not in any way change the physical quality of semen or the ability to ejaculate. It simply removes sperm from the equation. The effectiveness rate of this method of birth control is essentially 100% after a 3 month period (sperm can remain in the semen for up to 3 months). There is a minuscule chance the tubes may grow back together and reverse the procedure, but this is incredibly rare. Side effects are the same as they would be with any other surgery (pain, swelling, etc). Since it’s permanent, this is definitely an option to think long and hard about.
  9. Tubal Ligation: This is, of course, the female equivalent of sterilization. If for some reason your partner isn’t able or is unwilling to get a vasectomy, this permanent method may be an option. This procedure blocks the path of the egg as it travels through the fallopian tubes and can be done in a variety of ways including: A) damaging a small section of the fallopian tubes, B) inserting a coil into each tube, C) clamping off the tubes with clips. Unlike a vasectomy, a tubal ligation is effective immediately. It is also 99% effective in the 1st year and 100% effective thereafter (it is within the 1st year that the fallopian tubes are most likely to fuse back together, reversing the procedure). Risks include normal surgery risks, ectopic pregnancy (when an embryo implants somewhere outside the uterus), and possible hormone disruption. As with a vasectomy, think long and hard about whether this method is right for you.family planning
  10. Natural Family Planning (Fertility Awareness): Also known as the “rhythm method”, this birth control method involves working closely with your body, being aware of your body’s changes as you go through your menstrual cycle, and predicting ovulation via these changes. We’re not going to lie – this method is a lot of work and it’s only about 75% effective for most women. But if you’re looking to ditch the hormonal birth control and are a stickler for details, this could be the method for you. There are different ways to go about this method, but it works best if you use some of these together, rather than separately.
  • Keep track of your menstrual cycle with a calendar.Using this method, you simply count days to predict when you’re ovulating and need to avoid sex/use extra protection when having sex. Ovulation takes place approximately 2 weeks before the start of your next period. The problem with this method is that your cycle may not always be like clockwork. Face it, your period has a mind of its own and sometimes it just shows up whenever it likes.
  • Measure your basal body temperature.Basal body temperature is the lowest body temperature attained during rest and right before ovulation your BBT usually increases by 0.5-1 degree. This method involves charting your BBT with a specialized thermometer several times a day, so you know when you hit that spot. Of course, a fever or chronic condition of some kind could throw your numbers off.
  • Check out your cervical mucus.Definitely not for the squeamish, this method involves you getting intimately familiar with look, feel, and amount of cervical mucus you produce throughout the month. The quantity and texture of your cervical mucus changes around the time of ovulation to become thicker and more slippery.

The downsides here are the amount of work it takes to track all these things and chart them throughout the month, the fact that sperm can live inside the body for days so really you need to add extra days before and after ovulation, your partner can’t help you with this method of birth control, and there is a serious learning curve here – this takes practice. On the plus side, you’ll get to know your body better than ever and you’ll find that there are certain things a woman is better at on certain days of her cycle than others so you can, say, schedule a phone call or meeting on one of the days you’re feeling more confident (yes, seriously).

  1. Withdrawal: The oldest form of birth control, withdrawal, is also the method that is least effective with only a 78% efficiency rate. While certainly inexpensive, this method is also the simplest to mess up. It’s common for men to misjudge when they should withdraw or get so wrapped up in what they’re doing that it slips their mind. And even if the method is remembered perfectly each and every time, there’s always a chance that some sperm may have slipped out pre-withdrawal which could result in pregnancy. We recommend this one mostly in a pinch when there are no other options available.
  2. Herbal Birth Control: This method of birth control hasn’t been well researched, so we’d recommend it in conjunction with another form, such as a barrier method, if it’s something you want to try. There are several cultures around the world, however, who use herbs as birth control, including wild carrot seed and smartweed. You might know wild carrot seed better as Queen Anne’s Lace, but many societies know it as a type of “morning-after pill”. Taking a teaspoon of this right after intercourse, then every day for a week is supposed to prevent pregnancy. Before giving this a try, we highly recommend talking to an herbalist or naturopath to get proper dosing amounts and exact times to take. Plus, wild carrot seed looks a lot like hemlock – which is deadly – so it’s an incredibly bad idea to go off by yourself looking for it in the wild. As for smartweed, some societies use a large quantity of smartweed tea daily to prevent pregnancy. Traditions vary, and as with wild carrot seed, it’s not widely researched… so again, you’ll want to work with an herbalist or naturopath to make sure you’re using it correctly.

The Final Verdict

In the long run, only you can choose the birth control method that is right for you. We hope that you will consider a method that is low or hormone-free, so as not to mess with your body, your hormones and your natural chemistry. If you have already been using a hormonal birth control method and feel as if your hormones are already whacky, I’d love to help you with that. Let’s chat so I can help you identify what’s going on with your hormones and get you back to feeling happy, healthy, and normal in no time! And no matter which birth control method you choose, we hope you enjoy fun, happy, consensual, safe sex always – you totally deserve it!

Five Hacks for Addressing Hormone Imbalances

Five Hacks for Addressing Hormone Imbalances

What is hormonal imbalance?

Most women experience a hormonal imbalance at some point in their life… and it hurts their health, their careers, and their relationships. Put simply, hormonal imbalance happens when your body’s hormonal system (officially called your endocrine system) is out of whack. Think of your hormones as little chemical messengers that send messages throughout your body. When your endocrine system is not working correctly, your hormones send the wrong messages, and that can wreak havoc on your mind and body.

There are a lot of things that can cause your hormones to shift, such as your menstrual cycle, perimenopause, and menopause. But shifting hormones are different than unbalanced hormones. Things like not drinking enough water, eating too much of the wrong foods, and not getting enough sleep can also negatively impact your hormones and cause them to become imbalanced. Imbalanced hormones can have a range of effects on your body, from causing irritability and sleeplessness to infertility and even breast cancer.

We can’t control when you first start your period or when you go into menopause, but we can make shifts to your diet and lifestyle and get your hormones back on track so you can live your life feeling good instead of drained. Check out these five hacks you can try to get control over your hormones. If you still have questions about your hormone health, or if you’ve tried these and you still don’t feel right, take my hormone assessment  to see what’s going on and how I can help you address it.

Signs of hormonal imbalance

A lot of women think that feeling bloated, tired, and irritable is just a part of a normal, busy life. And while, sure, it might be normal, thanks to our fast-paced lives that keep us constantly running from one place to the next and often eating whatever we can find as we go, it’s not natural. Our bodies have a built-in mechanism for monitoring our moods, appetites, weight, and sleep patterns called hormones. When they work properly, our hormones work together to keep the body running smoothly and efficiently. When they’re imbalanced, though, you can find yourself feeling more irritable than normal, cranky, extremely fatigued, and just all around run down and tired.

Don’t you deserve better?

I sure think so. That’s why I’m here to help you figure out if you have hormone imbalance and what you can do to get your hormones back in line.

Take a minute to think about all the problems you’re experiencing. Though they might seem unrelated (like headaches and night sweats), they could have the same root cause of a hormone imbalance. If you’re experiencing any of the following, you may have hormonal imbalance:

  • Irregular or absent periods
  • Long, painful periods or PMS (to the point you can’t leave the house)
  • Trouble falling or staying asleep
  • Chronic acne (especially if it’s recently developed)
  • Fatigue (not just sleepy but feeling tired all over your body)
  • Digestive issues
  • Brain fog that won’t go away
  • Dizziness when you stand up
  • Feelings of hunger that can’t be satisfied
  • Unexplained mood swings
  • Feelings of anxiety, irritability, or depression
  • Weepiness
  • Unexplained weight gain
  • Dry or irritated vagina
  • Loss of interest in sex
  • Headaches (especially around your period, perimenopause, or menopause)
  • Night sweats/hot flashes
  • Thinning hair
  • Hair growth in unusual places (such as on your face)
  • Changes in your breasts
  • Unusual or unexplained food cravings

Do any (or all) of these sound familiar? The good news is, you aren’t alone in experiencing these symptoms of hormone imbalance. The even better news is that I have solutions you can try today that don’t require you to take medication or undergo hormone therapy. All it takes is a mindful approach to listening to and taking care of your body. Are you ready to feel like yourself again? Good! Here’s how to do it.

How to begin to heal hormone imbalances

Your hormones could be the culprit of your unexplained weight gain, acne, mood swings, and extreme fatigue. The great news is that there are things you can do to regulate your hormones. Start with these five hacks. You can try them all at once, or you can do them one at a time. It’s your body and your time, so do what works best for you!

After a week or so,  you should start noticing an improvement in how you look and feel. Once you’ve pinpointed what does (and doesn’t) make you feel good, we can work on getting to the root cause of your hormone imbalance and come up with long-term sustainable solutions to help you live your best life!

Hack 1: Uncover food sensitivities

food sensitivities

What we eat plays a huge role in how we feel. It’s entirely possible that you’ve developed a food sensitivity that you aren’t aware of. An elimination diet is a great way to uncover your food sensitivities and determine what’s making you feel sick. Take a few weeks to be mindful of what you eat so you can determine whether there is a particular food that’s triggering you and causing your symptoms.

Elimination diet 

During an elimination diet, you’ll eat clean for 1–3 weeks (three weeks is optimal, but after just one week, you should be able to notice changes in how your are feeling). Then, you’ll slowly start to introduce the foods you weren’t eating, one at a time, back into your diet. You’ll use a food journal to track what you eat and how it makes you feel to see which foods (if any) are causing problems for you.

Your food journal can be as easy as using an app on your phone or using a notebook to write it down on paper. The important thing is that you track every single thing you eat and how it makes you feel during and after eating it.

The most common foods that people are sensitive or intolerant to are:

  • Gluten (this includes rye, barley, wheat, and spelt)
  • Dairy products (this includes milk, yogurt, cheese, etc.)
  • Eggs
  • Soy (and soy-based) foods
  • Corn
  • Citrus fruits
  • Fructose (which hides in a lot of packaged foods)
  • Yeast
  • Peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Nuts
  • Seeds

During your elimination diet, you’ll eat foods and meals that are free from the following ingredients:

  • Coffee
  • Alcohol
  • Soft drinks
  • Nitrates
  • Sweeteners (in all natural and artificial forms: artificial sweeteners, white sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, agave, cane juice)
  • Eggs
  • Sugar alcohols (these can be in products like gum)
  • Dairy products (all milk, cheese, yogurt, etc.)
  • Soy milk and other soy products
  • Yeast
  • Nuts
  • All processed foods (including restaurant foods)
  • Corn
  • Gluten
  • Grains (only low-glycemic grains, soaked, allowed)
  • Potatoes (exceptions: sweet potatoes or yams)
  • Beans (exceptions: lentils, mung, and adzuki)
When to do an elimination diet

Ideally, you’ll do an elimination diet when you have 1–3 weeks to cook at home and really focus on tracking everything you eat and how it makes you feel. If you’re short on time, at least commit to one week. You might surprise yourself and find that you feel so good after one week that you want to keep going for another week or two!

Try to time your elimination diet with your menstrual cycle. Start it about a week after your period starts. This is the time when your hormones are the most set up for success. If you stick to the elimination diet for three weeks, then you’ll be perfectly primed to start adding in foods when your cravings hit before and during your period. (Sounds like the perfect excuse to order a large pizza!)

Reintroducing foods during an elimination diet

After 1–3 weeks of not eating the foods listed above, it’s time to start reintroducing some of them into your diet. Every 2–4 days, introduce a new potential irritant and use your food journal to track how it makes you feel. If you notice feelings of irritation, then eliminate them from your diet again.

The most common foods people are intolerant to are gluten, corn, eggs, dairy, and soy. Start with these.

You’re looking for symptoms that indicate a particular type of food is making you feel ill. Here are some things to look for. If you experience any of the following, or any additional symptoms, after reintroducing common allergens into your diet, make a note of it:

  • Constipation or stool that is especially foul smelling
  • Sinus issues
  • Heartburn/acid reflux
  • Pain in your joints
  • Bad breath
  • Migraines or headaches
  • Clogged ears
  • Fatigue
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Water retention/bloating
  • Gas
  • Dry eyes
  • Hands/feet swelling
  • Trouble breathing
  • Sudden food craving (especially for salt or sugar)
  • Heart palpitations/racing heart
  • Difficulty concentrating

Once you understand how foods affect you, you’ll be able to create a long-term plan that will help you feel great and make sure you get the nutrients you need.

Sometimes we can be sensitive or intolerant to “healthy foods”… it happens.  If you’ve tried this and are still experiencing symptoms or if you would rather not go through this process alone, please reach out.  I can help.

Hack 2: Get enough sleep

sleep

Several hormones contribute to your sleep patterns. A hormone imbalance can lead to sleep complications, such as not being able to fall asleep or getting up in the middle of the night. Estrogen helps you maintain sleep. Estrogen balance can get disrupted during perimenopause and menopause, which is why it can be so hard to get a good night’s sleep. Progesterone also plays a role in getting a good sleep since it calms your nervous system. (Think of it as a natural antidepressant that protects your brain.)


But the biggest culprit that can affect your ability to sleep is cortisol. Cortisol (also known as the stress hormone) is an adrenal hormone that’s supposed to help you wake up in the morning and fall asleep at night. When it’s out of whack, it can do the opposite, leading to sleepless nights and groggy mornings.

Here are some things you can do to try to regulate your sleeping so you can get the rest you need:

  • Set and stick to a bedtime routine that leaves 7–9 hours of sleep
  • Avoid taking naps during the day
  • Don’t drink caffeine after 2 pm
  • Don’t drink alcohol at least 4 hours before bedtime
  • Limit exercise to earlier in the day (working out right before bed can make it hard to fall asleep)
  • Avoid eating heavy or spicy foods before bed
  • Eat a small, healthy snack before bed (this will stabilize your blood sugar levels while you sleep)
  • Make sure your sleeping environment is soothing, dark, and quiet
  • Don’t watch TV or use a screen before bed
  • Set your thermostat lower
  • Read before bed to help you relax
  • Take a warm bath before bed
  • Don’t use flannel sheets, especially if you get night sweats
  • Use aromatherapy to help you fall asleep, especially lavender or chamomile
  • Practice meditation (you can download meditation apps to give you something to focus on as you fall asleep)

Hack 3: Drink more water

Drinking more water is always a good idea. In fact, a recent study found that only 20% of women get enough water in their daily diet, which can cause major problems for your hormones, your organs, your brain, your muscles—your whole body, really.

Here are some ways to get more water:

fruit in water
  • Heat it up and add a lemon: Warm lemon water can improve your skin and nourish your body. It’s a relaxing way to start your day (especially if you’re doing an elimination diet and can’t have your normal cup of coffee!)
  • Flavor it naturally: Add berries, oranges, cucumbers, lemons, or limes to your plain glass of water to jazz it up and make it more appealing to drink.
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables: Fruits and vegetables are full of water, which means they can help you stay hydrated without guzzling glass after glass of water.

 

How much water should you drink?

Every body is different, which means you might need more or less water to stay hydrated than your best friend. However, a good rule of thumb is to aim to drink at least eight (8 ounce) glasses of water a day (called the 8×8 rule). Keep in mind that if you exercise, sweat a lot, or are pregnant or nursing, you should be drinking more than just 64 ounces of water a day.

You can consider yourself hydrated if you don’t feel thirsty all the time and if your urine is a light color. If your urine is dark and you feel thirsty all day, you’re probably dehydrated. Other signs of dehydration include getting headaches, feeling achy, and feeling fatigued.

While you can get hydrated through sources that aren’t water, including foods and herbal teas, drinking water is the healthiest way to get hydrated and make sure you aren’t adding additional chemicals or sweeteners to your body.

Hack 4: Eat more fiber

A lot of women don’t correlate fiber with hormones, but here’s how they’re connected. Fiber can reduce your cortisol levels and thereby regulate your hormones. It can also flush out excess estrogen… and excess estrogen can throw your hormone levels off balance and lead to major complications, including infertility and even breast cancer.

Getting enough fiber in your daily diet will help you even if your hormones aren’t imbalanced by keeping your cholesterol and blood sugar levels regulated. Fiber supports gut health and it keeps you feeling full longer, leading to you eating less overall. Make sure you’re drinking lots of water when you up your fiber intake so you don’t end up getting dehydrated.

You can find fiber in all sorts of whole foods, like lentils, beans, avocados, raspberries and apples. You can also get more fiber through a supplement.

To prevent side effects like gas, bloating, and constipation, slowly start introducing more fiber into your diet. Start with adding 5 grams per day and work up from there.

Hack 5: Get the macronutrients necessary for hormone balancing

Macronutrients is a term that groups all the food groups you should be eating–carbohydrates, proteins, and fats–to get enough calories in your daily diet. All of these macronutrients are important for you to achieve optimal hormone health.

Now, you might hear “carbohydrates” and instantly think “bad.” But carbohydrates are essential for your overall health, including your hormone health. Stick to carbohydrates like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and fiber. Your carbohydrate sources should be from these types of foods, not foods like sugars, alcohol, or white breads, which contain refined carbohydrates.

Give these a try or reach out for help!

Try these hacks to feel better and get your hormones back on track. The best part of these hacks is that you can do them whenever you start feeling like your hormones are getting out of control. You can go on an elimination diet every few months, or even just after the holidays, to get your body back on track.

If you want to learn more about your hormone imbalances, find out the root cause of your symptoms and address them with my help, schedule a free consultation call with me.


Travel Tips for Staying Healthy

Travel Tips for Staying Healthy

Ohhhhh the chaos of holiday travel!  I mean… the fun!  Yes, that’s what I meant to say.  With my entire extended family on the opposite side of the US, I have been traveling during the holidays every year, (across the US, with three kids in tow) for the past 15 years.  I love traveling… it’s one of my biggest passions. I have picked up many tricks and strategies for staying healthy while traveling (whether you have kids in tow or not) and want to share some of them with you.

Several years ago, when my kids were younger, I felt like EVERY time we traveled, someone got sick. And I’m not talking about a runny nose – I’m talking about the crazy stuff like vomiting, diarrhea and “full-blown virus disasters”.

Vomiting, diarrhea, Montezuma’s revenge from food poisoning, sneaky viruses… can all ruin your trip away from home. Some of these (like food poisoning) can cause serious digestive system issues that can drag on and on…

Want to know what I do to avoid these vacation wreckers?  Keep reading!

Hacks To Avoid Getting Sick & Digestive Disasters

The key is preparing and being proactive – do some research about where you are going, especially if it’s a new destination. A few weeks ahead of the date of departure, start to prepare your body. There are supplements you can take before you go to prevent illness, essential nutrients for defense in case someone starts feeling sick, and a few other remedies for when the bugs take over.

PREPARE & PREVENT – Strengthen Your Immune System

First, I take Vitamin D3 with K2, all year round, every single day.  Even though I eat organic, healthy stuff (and lots of colorful veggies), it’s just not possible to get enough vitamin D from our foods (and I definitely don’t get enough from the sun!)  Plus, I had my micronutrient levels tested, and I know from the results that I need to be taking vitamin D, daily.  It’s a non-negotiable, keeps my immune system strong and has a bunch of other positive benefits to taking it. My favorite is nutraMetrix Vitamin D with K2.

A few weeks before traveling, I start a probiotic. Probiotics may give your immune system a boost and inhibit the growth of harmful gut bacteria (bad gut bugs). Also, some probiotics have been shown to promote the production of natural antibodies in the body. My favorites are Pure Encapsulations G.I. and nutraMetrix nutriClean. I take 1 daily.

I also take Biocidin Advanced Formula – (which comes in drops or capsules) to help boost my immunity. I start with 3 drops per day and work up to 5-10 drops twice daily.

And most importantly (again, three kids in tow when I travel), I always take an Adaptogen. Adaptogens can help your body adapt to stress and life’s doozies. These herbs aid our bodies in reacting to or recovering from physical or mental stress. Some also boost immunity and overall well-being. Yes, traveling is fun – but it is also stressful! Think about it… you are in the security line at the airport, you fly through 3 time zones, you sleep on a different pillow, you stay up later than usual, and then you decide to go zip-lining for the first time with your kids!  While some of this is “good stress”, some is “bad stress”, but ALL OF IT registers as stress to our bodies. I especially like blends that contain herbs like Rhodiola that staves off mental and physical fatigue and Ashwagandha for reducing emotional and mental stress. nutraMetrix ACTS Adrenal, Cortisol, Thyroid & Stress Support Formula and Pure Encapsulations Daily Stress Formula are my two go-to’s.

Wipe it Down! 

Stepping up the hygiene habits are super important while traveling.  If you are a parent, think back to the early days with your kids when you used to wipe down everything.

I always carry hand sanitizer and baby wipes with me (even though my kids are teenagers and they hate that I carry baby wipes… eye roll) – but not the conventional kind!  Many hand sanitizers and wipes are full harmful chemicals (like BPA). Instead, either make your own hand sanitizer (mix aloe vera gel with pure lavender and tea tree essential oils) OR, if you don’t want to make your own, a good alternative brand for sanitizer and wipes is Babyganics and The Honest Company – both found at Target.

And of course – washing your hands with soap and hot water often is extremely effective.

Eat & Drink with Caution

Only drink bottled water – and say no-thanks to ice! (Yes, even on the plane and in fancy restaurants!)   

If you are traveling somewhere other than to your friends and family, avoid salad and uncooked veggies – especially lettuce these days. Cooked veggies and cooked meals are better when traveling.

Make sure you wash all produce you buy. As tempting as it is, don’t eat fruit straight from the farmer’s market cart. Wash it with a non-toxic fruit and veggie wash first!

If You Feel It Coming On

The minute anyone starts to feel “off” – extra tired, stomach feels “iffy”, or even gets a headache – I switch from my prevention to my treatment protocol.

I up the vitamin D, 2x per day.

I double up the probiotic.

I add in an “immune blend” – nutraMetrix Immune is super effective! 

And if diarrhea/vomiting strikes? I use an essential oil remedy that always works for me.  1-2 drops of pure peppermint essential oil in water.  The essential oil drops work very quickly. The oil must be pure and I only use Young Living Essential Oils for this remedy.

Enjoy Your Trip!

I hope you found these suggestions to be helpful. Remember, preparation is the key…. And having these products in hand ahead of time is important!  If you have other concerns about specific health issues while traveling or even while at home and would like some help with ideas, please reach out to me!  Natural remedies actually work… and by using natural remedies you get a bonus… using them will strengthen your immune system as well.

Toxicity Finally Gets Banned

Toxicity Finally Gets Banned

In 2014, the FDA announced that manufacturers had to show that antibacterial soap was both safe and more effective than simply washing with conventional soap and water, or they would have to take it off the shelves in the next few years. In 2016, the Food and Drug Administration finally announced it’s banning triclosan and related antibacterial soap chemicals, meaning manufacturers have one year to remove it and 18 other antibacterial ingredients from products (or pull products containing these ingredients from store shelves). Is this a good thing? Don’t we want to have antibacterial cleansers around to keep us healthy? Well, not when they’re actually causing more harm than good!

For years, even the FDA admitted that regular soap and water proved just as effective as antibacterial soaps but without the harmful side effects, urging everyday people to skip out on the overkill of using antibacterial soap. The largest concern about antibacterial soaps and cleansers? Using them contributes to antibiotic resistance, meaning the more we expose germs to germ-fighting substances like antibiotics and antibacterial soaps, the better they adapt. (Nature is really good at adapting!) If this happens on a broad enough scale, it can essentially render that chemical useless against the strain of bacteria. This is currently a big problem in medicine—one the World Health Organization calls a “threat to global health security.” (That alone should convince you not to use the stuff!)

If that doesn’t do it, however, perhaps this will – triclosan is one of the worst endocrine disruptors to date. It interferes with the body’s regulation of the thyroid hormone, possibly because it chemically resembles the hormone closely enough that it can bind to its receptor sites. As such, it could lead to problems such as infertility, artificially-advanced early puberty, obesity and cancer. It can even hide itself in breast milk!

Add to that the fact that children with prolonged exposure to triclosan have a higher chance of developing allergies, including peanut allergies and hay fever. Scientists speculate that this could be a result of reduced exposure to bacteria, which could be necessary for proper immune system functioning and development. Prolonged exposure to this chemical also causes liver damage and is linked to liver cancer.

So we applaud the FDA’s decision to finally ban triclosan and 18 other antibacterial chemicals! Here are the important points that you need to know:

  • The active ingredients involved in this FDA antibacterial ingredient ban include: cloflucarban, fluorosalan, hexachlorophene, hexylresorcinol, iodine complex (ammonium ether sulfate and polyoxyethylene sorbitan monolaurate), iodine complex (phosphate ester of alkylaryloxy polyethylene glycol), nonylphenoxypoly (ethyleneoxy) ethanoliodine, poloxamer-iodine complex, povidone-iodine 5 to 10 percent, undecoylium chloride iodine complex, methylbenzethonium chloride, phenol (greater than 1.5 percent), phenol (less than 1.5 percent) 16, secondary amyltricresols, sodium oxychlorosene, tribromsalan, triclocarban, triclosan, triple dye

  • Manufacturers will have one year to comply with the rulemaking by removing products from the market or reformulating (removing antibacterial active ingredients) these products
  • This FDA ban applies to over-the-counter consumer hand soaps and body washes . It does not ban the uses of these antibacterial soap chemicals sanitizers or wipes, or in soaps used in hospital or food service settings.
  • The FDA is allowing one more year before ruling on three other antibacterial ingredients in consumer soaps and body washes— benzalkonium chloride, benzethonium chloride and chloroxylenol (PCMX) Consumer antibacterial washes containing these specific ingredients may be marketed during this time while data are being collected.

Oversanitation is making us sicker than ever, guys. It does all of the above; it can lead to nutrient deficiencies and digestive issues; and it even affects the environment. So make sure you go the soap and water route always and clean friendly!

Aloe for Reflux, Heartburn & Constipation

Aloe for Reflux, Heartburn & Constipation

If you’ve heard talk of aloe juice recently and thought to yourself, “EW”, you’re not alone. Most people hear the word “aloe” and think of summer & sunburns & thick, goopy gel. Definitely not something you want to ingest, right? But aloe juice is a VERY different part of the plant; a part that can help heal your body from the inside. (We promise it’s not as bad-tasting as it sounds!) What exactly can aloe juice help with?

Have heartburn? Then you’re probably taking a proton pump inhibitor like Nexium. But if you’re doing that, you’re only treating the symptom and not the underlying cause, which can lead to more health problems. PPIs suppress the production of stomach acid, and contrary to popular belief, most cases of heartburn are actually due to having too little acid in your stomach, not too much. So taking a PPI will actually worsen your condition since stomach acid helps digest food protect against ingested pathogens.

Lack of stomach acid makes you more vulnerable to a number of problems, like nutritional deficiencies, food poisoning, and digestive system infections. However, the juice of the aloe plant naturally helps reduce inflammation, which may ease symptoms of acid reflux. Aloe is also known to soothe and cleanse the digestive tract, helping improve digestion, as well as helping to decrease the amount of unfriendly bacteria in our guts.

What other benefits do we get from aloe juice? Pure aloe vera juice reduces dental plaque as effectively as mouthwash. Pretty impressive, huh? In a mouth rinse study of 300 healthy people, 100% pure Aloe vera juice was compared to the standard mouthwash ingredient chlorhexidine. After 4 days of use, the Aloe vera mouth rinse was found to be just as effective as chlorhexidine in reducing dental plaque. Aloe vera does this by killing the plaque-producing bacterium Streptococcus mutansin the mouth, as well as the yeast Candida albicans.

When it comes to inflammation, the next time you are suffering try drinking some aloe vera juice. It contains over 12 different substances that can help you get rid of it! In fact, this juice is a rich mix of vitamins and minerals. It contains Vitamins A,C, and E; a contingent of B (including B1, B2, B3, B6 & B12); folic acid and choline. Plus it has over 20 different minerals including calcium, sodium, potassium, selenium and iron, and contains fatty acids and 8 essential amino acids. This is one powerful juice!

I’ve got a wonderful aloe juice to get you started (amongst other aloe products) and am available to answer any questions you may have. Here’s to healthy & happy!

Pin It on Pinterest