In this week’s show, Nancy and Laura talk about women veterans and their health choices for those that served now that they are experiencing health issues related to menopause and other aging health issues. We greatly appreciate the sacrifices these women and their families have made to serve our country.
Menopause Treatment for Dryness
Expert’s Name: Carrie Pierce
It’s well documented that a natural ‘drying out’ process occurs in a woman’s body as she moves through the peri menopause and Menopause process.
Fluctuating hormone levels have a role to play in this issue- and the essential fatty acids assist the body in the manufacture and distribution of crucial sex hormones, carrying molecular messages between the cells and serving to provide prostaglandin balance.
Prostaglandins are hormone-like in their nature and are understood to serve as messengers and regulators within the body cells and tissues.
So, just what the heck does all this scientific mumbo jumbo mean to Y-O-U?!
Simply put, this:
- Peri menopause begins around the age of 35 in most women.
- During this time of hormonal shift, skin, hair and nails begin to suffer and other worrisome and bothersome symptoms set up shop. A woman may begin to experience ongoing -and worsening- dryness issues.
Her skin might become sensitive-with itching and flaking occurring regularly where there was no problem before.
- Chronic dry skin stems from 2 basic causes: deficiencies in key nutrients and ongoing, uncorrected hormone imbalances.
The Essential Fatty Acids we discussed in Part One of this article series work to combat both these root causes, by feeding the skin at a cellular level, allowing skin cells to nourish and rejuvenate themselves.
Keeping your diet free from excessive sugars by eating low glycemic foods and trans fats also works to have a positive impact on overall skin health by stopping the formation of AGE’s (Advanced Glycation End products) otherwise recognized as the telltale crosshatching affect of older skin.
So how does one go about ensuring that they consume enough of the EFA’s to positively impact both skin AND hormone health?
Omegas 3 and 6 can be obtained from food sources and supplements.
Excellent sources of Omega 3s are:
Seafood/Flax seeds/raw nuts-especially walnuts/eggs and canola oil.
Excellent sources of Omega 6 are:
Borage Oil/Evening Primrose Oil- aka as : ‘the King’s Cure-all’, ( yet given its many uses for easing menstruation, hot flashes and other rather severe female-hormone- related issues, perhaps it should be known as the Queen’s Cure-all instead…) Sunflower, canola and safflower oils/eggs and soybeans.
Now that we’ve discussed why these EFAs are crucial to health and beauty-especially during Menopause- let’s look at the proper ratios:
- Studies show a healthy balance of Omega 3 to Omega 6 is crucial.
- The typical American diet has a ratio of 1:20 (Omega 3 to Omega 6), and it’s now thought this ratio should be closer to 5:1 or less.
- Omega 6s are known to be possible inflammation-producers and as such need to be properly balanced with Omega 3’s which are shown to reduce inflammation within human tissues.
- When Omega 6 predominates in a diet, such as a diet rich in animal fats and corn derived products, skin and hormonal issues appear to be made worse.
The bottom-line to all of this is- simply put: good skin starts with good nutrition. PERIOD.
Vaginal dryness, dry eye, joint pain and/or thinning hair, skin and brittle nails are all signs of EFA deficiency- in most cases- and should be discussed with your health care provider.
Adding the right ‘Beauty Fats’ to your diet can make all the difference- and your entire body –from head to toe will thank you!
What is a Hot Flash and Hot Flash Treatments
Expert’s Name: Robin Pruitt
Hot flashes can range from a mild inconvenience to a miserably uncomfortable burden. They’re annoying, inconvenient and can deprive you of sleep. I’ve heard it said that some women actually enjoy the warm sensation, but I’ve never met a woman who felt that way! I personally don’t enjoy them at all.
But sometimes I choose to have one.
The physiology of a hot flash isn’t entirely clear, but it is the result of the body’s efforts to deal with hormonal fluctuations and imbalance. We can do some things to aid the hormonal balance, but short of taking prescription drugs or hormone replacement therapies we can’t change the fact that menopause is a time of intense hormonal fluctuation.
On the other hand, although we may not always realize it, we have total control over the food we eat—after all; nothing goes in our mouths unless we raise the fork or glass to our own lips. And it turns out that this can make a huge difference in how we feel going through menopause.
Our bodies are very responsive to what we feed ourselves. When we consume the Standard American Diet filled with hormone-laden beef and dairy products, conventionally grown produce grown in depleted soils and sprayed with toxic pesticides, and processed foods containing an assortment of chemical additives and preservatives, then wash all that down with sodas sweetened with the unnatural sweetener high fructose corn syrup or chemical artificial sweeteners, our bodies must work overtime to sift the available nutrients out of the substances we eat and filter out and dispose of all the chemicals.
And that’s before adding a flood of excess hormones to the system. During menopause, a changing variety of hormonal substances courses through our bodies, taxing an already challenged eliminatory system. Like Lucy on the chocolate candy assembly line, sometimes there’s just more “coming along” than the system is set up to handle. A hot flash is like an overflow signal.
Hot Flash Triggers
During this physically challenging time we can ease the chemical burden on our bodies by limiting our intake of processed foods, choosing organic foods whenever possible, and drinking lots of filtered water. It also helps to pay attention to possible relationships between particular foods or situations and the occurrence of hot flashes. Common trigger foods include caffeine, spicy foods and alcohol. Heat, stress and smoking are common non-food triggers. However, we are all individuals, and you may have individualized triggers. For instance, one woman I know can count on having a hot flash if she eats potatoes.
So, why would I choose to have a hot flash? Well, one of my triggers is coffee, but occasionally I enjoy a really good cup of coffee. It often comes with a hot flash chaser, but because I know that, I can decide when the delicious pleasure of a good cup of coffee outweighs the discomfort of a hot flash.
The point is that if you take steps to reduce the quantity of chemical additives that your system has to deal with and develop an awareness of the foods most likely to overwhelm your system, you can have a choice about how you feel.
And that can make you feel better about everything.
It’s Hot in Here! – Treatments for Hot Flashes
Expert’s name: Elizabeth Swales
Perhaps the most common symptom of Menopause is the hot flash. Annoying and irritating, this symptom is among the least understood of all Menopausal indicators. While we may not fully understand why we have hot flashes, also known as hot flushes, we can certainly help prevent them, but in order to do this, we must first understand what menopausal hot flashes are and what we can do about them.
What is a Hot Flash?
Hot Flashes are common Menopausal symptoms consisting of a red, flushed face, momentary feelings of increased body heat, and sweating. These feelings occur when blood vessels around the surface of the skin dilate. While most women will experience hot flushes throughout menopause, the exact duration varies from woman to woman. Some women will be plagued by hot flashes throughout their lives, while others will experience this sensation for a short period of time during menopause and perimenopause.
How Can I Avoid Hot Flashes?
While there are steps that you can take to stop hot flashes, it is impossible to prevent them completely. The following natural steps will help you to avoid more severe and frequent hot flashes and night sweats.
1. Avoid Common Triggers – There are a number of common activities that can trigger menopausal hot flashes, buy avoiding the things on the following list you can help reduce the number of symptoms you experience:
- Spicy Foods
- Tight Clothing
- Cigarette Smoke
2. Keep Your Room Cool – By keeping your surrounding area cool you can in turn keep your body temperature more moderate. Use fans in the afternoon and wear light clothing to keep yourself cool; especially to avoid hot flashes at night.
3. Deep Breathing Exercises – Try practicing a deep breathing exercise. Breathe in slowly and deeply for fifteen minutes to moderate your stress levels. This exercise is also effective at the onset of a hot flash.
4. Exercise Daily – Exercising regularly provides and number of health benefits including reducing the frequency and severity of night sweats.
5. Cool Pillows – Ensure that you keep your pillows at a low temperature; this will help regulate your body temperature. Did you know that there are specially designed pajamas that are made to keep you cool too?
Turn the Heat up, I’m a Little Chilly
Menopausal Hot Flashes are irritating and can be insufferable. Unfortunately, it is impossible to prevent them all together, but by taking steps to prevent the onset of frequent hot flashes, you can avoid some of the frustration. By keeping a moderate body temperature and avoiding the pitfalls listed above you can start looking forward to your transformative years and engage yourself in the changes that are happening inside of you.
What’s Your Why?
- Increased energy to do what you love.
- A sense of balance and awareness with your life.
- Ability to choose what you eat, instead of being controlled by cravings.
- Feeling more comfortable in your own skin.
- Serving as an example to others.
- Living longer and with more joy.
Counting calories doesn’t work! It’s just another way to fit food into the “numbers game”, but you’ll miss the bigger picture. Food is your fuel, not a mathematical equation. Food nourishes you on a deep level and goes far beyond a point, an ounce, a calorie or a fat gram. Learning to listen to your body and discover what truly nourishes you is the key to healthy eating. Freeing yourself from the endless cycle of number crunching, willpower and deprivation is the way to truly balanced eating. And once you get there, you’ll never look back. Take it from me, I used to be a calorie counter. Now I know how to choose food in a whole new way that gives me energy. When clients come to Real Life Food to lose weight, they soon discover their true motivation was something else – the weight was just a side effect of the real motivation to increase energy, end menopausal weight gain and symptoms, curb late night cravings, learn how to manage stress, or achieve balance in life – just to name a few!
Menopause is a time for not only physical changes, but emotional changes as well. When our emotions are out of balance, be it irritability, sadness, anxiety or stress, we may be led to make poor food choices. The fuel you choose can either alleviate your emotional state, calming you, grounding you, giving you long lasting energy; or it can aggravate and intensify your emotional state. Once you understand own personal “Why” you can use it as motivation to overcome any emotional or physical obstacle that may be trying to keep you from your health goals. Start with determining your own Why and let that serve as the foundation to help you reach your goals. It’s so much more fun and meaningful than dieting and counting calories!
The Keys to Food Labels
Expert’s Name: Lisa Enslow
Ladies, get out your reading glasses and keep them handy at the supermarket. Reading labels is the best way to make sure you are eating the most nutritious and health promoting foods you can. At first glance, a standard nutrition label looks like information overload. Focusing on a few key points in the nutrition label will help you quickly decide if that particular item is right for you. The goal is to be better informed and healthier, not to spend all day in the supermarket reading labels! This is also a skill that improves with practice. The more you do it, the better you will get at judging the quality of an item quickly. It’s also a great behavior to model for your children. Have them select a yogurt based on the criteria you’ll learn in this article. It’s never too early to get the kids involved in making healthier choices for themselves.
Focus on These Points
*Dietary Fiber: Fiber helps fill you up, slows down the metabolism of sugar, and helps in your digestion and elimination. Look for foods with at least 5 grams of fiber per serving. You’ll find a huge variety of fiber amounts in bread. There are many types of bread available today with 4 grams of fiber per slice, which is great!
*Fat: Beware of foods with trans fats, as these are promoters of heart disease and interfere with your metabolism. Saturated fats should be limited as they are not as heart healthy as unsaturated fats.
*Sodium: Current recommendations are for less than 2300mg of sodium per day, and 1500mg for those with health problems or family history of hypertension. Canned foods and jarred sauces are often high in sodium. A comparison of different brands will lead you to choices with less sodium. In addition there are some items being sold as “low sodium” such as soups.
*Sugar: The less the better. Choose foods with less than 5 grams per serving. Again, comparing labels among different brands is very enlightening. You can spend 10 minutes in the yogurt section alone!
*Ingredient List: Ingredients are listed according to their ranking in the product by weight. The first item is the main ingredient. Look for products with ingredients that you recognize as food, not chemicals. And in general, the shorter the ingredient list the better the food.
Food with No Labels!
Diet and Menopause – Raw Vegan
Expert’s Name: Robin Pruitt
It is well known that antioxidants are beneficial to our health. Antioxidants significantly decrease effects of free radical damage, which accumulates with age. Specifically, research has revealed evidence that free radicals contribute to menopausal symptoms, so bolstering our antioxidant defenses may prevent or minimize some of those symptoms.
Raw Food and Antioxidants
A diet with a high percentage of raw foods provides a wealth of antioxidants. An easy way to increase your supply of antioxidants from whole food sources rather than relying on supplements is to adopt a habit of making a meal out of a salad. A well constructed salad delights the palate, provides abundant nutrition and has enough substance to be satisfying and to see you through to the next meal.
Leafy greens provide the base for a good salad—no surprise there. But the first step to building the perfect salad is to rethink the lettuce. Forget about iceberg lettuce; it has inferior nutritional value and flavor compared with other varieties. Instead, choose darker green varieties—that vibrant green color is nature’s way of pointing us toward the most nutritious choices. Romaine lettuce is a great start for the Perfect Salad, but avoid the prepackaged hearts of romaine—they’re paler and therefore likely to be less nutritious, and don’t save any labor since they still need to be washed. Go for the darker outer leaves of individual heads of romaine.
Next, layer on a rainbow assortment of shredded or chopped vegetables; use possibilities that are beyond the usual tomato and cucumber include shredded beets, zucchini, red cabbage and carrots, as well as radishes, green onions and red bell peppers.
Raw nuts and seeds add protein and healthy oils along with textural contrast and staying power to your Perfect Salad. Nuts and seeds don’t need to be roasted to be delicious. When raw, their delicate healthy oils are undamaged by heat and oxidation. Walnuts and pumpkin seeds are great choices. Both supply alpha-linolenic acid, a type of omega-3 fatty acid. Additionally, pumpkin seeds are rich in zinc, which supports healthy thyroid function.
To me, there is something deeply satisfying about a salad with avocado. A few slices of avocado can add substance without heaviness and a creamy texture that contrasts well with the crispness of most other salad ingredients. The healthy fats and high fiber content of avocados provide a satisfying richness and help give the salad staying power.
Fresh or dried fruit helps to brighten the flavor and add vitamins and phytonutrients. Raisins, currants, grapes, dried cranberries, dried apples, dried pineapple chunks, sliced strawberries or pears, mango or papaya cubes, mandarin orange slices—the list goes on. When the salad is dressed and tossed, the fruit will release juices and flavor that add another dimension to the dressing.
You’ve now constructed a very colorful salad—proof that your salad provides a bounty of the powerful antioxidant carotenoid. But guess what: you’ll get almost none of their benefit if your salad is fat-free! That’s because some fat must be present to release and help assimilate the carotenoids and fat-soluble vitamins in the salad. For a simple dressing, just use a high-quality olive oil and balance it with an acid element, either citrus juice or the vinegar of your choice. Experiment with the many flavored vinegars that are available. If you prefer an oil-free dressing, be sure to include some nuts, seeds or avocado in your salad as a healthy fat source to ensure the full absorption of nutrients.
As a final touch, you can sprinkle in some additional seasonings. Possibilities include Italian seasoning blend, cayenne pepper, kale or dulse powder for micronutrients, nutritional yeast for cheesy flavor and a source of vitamin B12, and of course salt and pepper to taste.
I have found that magic happens when I toss the salad and dressing together in a large mixing bowl, and then transfer it to a serving bowl. That way, all the salad ingredients can mingle and become united by the dressing. Letting the tossed salad sit for just a few minutes before eating will allow the flavors to blend to perfection.
Yum! Now I’m hungry for my own Perfect Salad. I’ll see you in the kitchen…