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Ask the Expert

Ask The Expert
Written by Dr Andrea Gansner   

Q: I’m suffering from unbearable hot flashes, which are affecting my sleep and mood. Is there anything I can do to manage these symptoms, naturally?

A: Yes, there are several factors which may need to be considered. Hot flashes are the most common concern of early menopausal women in my office. Hot flashes affect 75% of menopausal North American women. Hot flashes are a sudden feeling of warmth felt in the chest, neck, and face that spreads over the entire body and can be followed by sweating and sometimes dizziness. These sensations can be a cause of great discomfort and affect mood and sleep quality in many women.

Uncovering imbalances by analyzing symptoms and performing lab tests are essential to understanding hormonal issues. Many hormones in the body interact covertly and therefore testing is crucial to determine these interactions.

In my practice, I recommend a variety of treatment strategies that are tailored to the specific patient’s needs. Often, I advise my patients to avoid common triggers, such as: hot drinks, spicy foods, alcohol, foods containing histamine (cheese and red wine), chocolate, caffeine, stress, red meat, peanuts, shellfish, and dairy to decrease the hot flashes.

In addition to avoiding these foods, I have my patients incorporate flax seeds into their diet. Ground flax seeds contain the polyphenols, lignans, which have been found to alter estrogen’s effects or metabolism in the body. They are also a fantastic source of fibre, which slows the absorption of foods, balances blood sugars and increases feelings of satiety.

There are also herbal treatments commonly used for hot flashes. These medicinal plants have been shown to decrease sweating, sleep disturbances, tension, mood swings, and low libido in early menopausal women.

Finally, depending on the extent of the symptoms or hormonal imbalances, bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) can be a powerful option. BHRT is the therapeutic use of hormones that are identical to the hormones produced naturally in the body, which act to return the system to balance.

If you are wondering about what treatments are right for you, make an appointment with a health care provider specially trained in the management of menopausal symptoms.

Stocking the Anti-Aging Kitchen
Written by Alyssa Bauman   

basket lying on side with fresh vegetables and fruit spilling outQ. I am in my early 40s now and am starting to notice huge changes in my skin. It’s lackluster, grayish, and the fine lines seem more pronounced than ever. Can you please guide me in the right direction on what foods to eat for anti-aging?

A. Everything we eat effects our happiness—from our inner beings, how efficiently our cells and organs work, to how we feel and even to the radiance of our skin… even the way we walk. Do you have a spring in your step? Or are you shuffling along needing that zip from your coffee.

True beauty starts from within by nourishing each and every cell. The healthier our insides are, the healthier we are outwardly. This is what Nourished Health Consulting is about—nourishing yourself from the inside out. So it is so important to clean up your diet to feel and look your best.

Stocking the anti-aging kitchen is a mindset. Commit to reducing and eliminating packaged convenience foods that are loaded in sugars, fillers, chemicals, preservatives and other additives that are not only stealing the life from your skin and appearance, but also robbing your body’s vibrancy and efficiency.

Here’s the Nourished quick guide to an anti-aging kitchen.

Beverages: Green juice, water with lemon, organic green tea, coconut water—no added sugars.

Legumes: Cannellini beans, kidney beans, white beans, pinto beans, lentils, black beans, garbanzo beans.

Nuts and Seeds: Eat a handful a day. These should be organic, unsalted and raw: chia, hemp, almonds, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds.

The ABC’s of Fruits and Vegetables: The more servings of greens, the better. Apples, arugula, asparagus, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, bok choy, broccoli, broccoli rabe, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, cherries, chicory, cabbage, citrus, collard greens, cranberries, cucumbers, dark leafies, dandelion greens, eggplant, endive, green beans, peppers, kale, lemon, melon, mushrooms, onions, garlic, chives, shallots, scallions, pears, peas, radish, sea vegetables, Swiss chard, spinach, sprouts, squash, tomatoes, turnips, water chestnuts, watercress, watermelon, zucchini.

Seafood: Wild, line-caught fish: faves include, but not limited to Alaskan salmon, herring, black cod, rainbow trout, anchovies, sardines, mackerel, clams, Dungeness crab and halibut.

Grains: Oats, quinoa buckwheat, and millet.

Healthy Fats and Oils: Avocado (half a day), extra virgin olive oil, olives, hempseed oil and coconut oil.

Why are my eyebrows thinning?
Written by Dr. Spence Pentland   

It is so nice to have discovered that the cause of all your woes was something called hypothyroidism, a very treatable condition that millions of other North Americans live with.  After a couple months of treatment you are feeling much better, have energy, and have lost 13 pounds!

Rewind.  You are having trouble with your weight, low energy, cold, hair thinning (scalp and eyebrows), depressed, so you go to your doctor and are sent for routine blood work. The basic test for your thyroid, TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) comes back out of range, you are diagnosed with hypothyroidism and prescribed synthetic thyroid hormone.

A few months pass and upon reflection you find yourself living day to day quite melancholy, all the weight you lost is back and then some, you feel cold, and you look in the mirror and your eyebrows seem to be disappearing, again. Your doctor increases your dosage of thyroid medication and almost immediately your are feeling more energy, but also have heart palpitations, night sweats, and anxiety. Stresses in life haven’t changed, so what is happening? Your doctor says not to worry and in a short time these symptoms fade and you start to feel quite well again.

Years pass and the above scenario repeats itself again and again. You find yourself on an ever-increasing dose of thyroid medications. The only problem is, you no longer feel well, and the weight gain has become unmanageable despite medications, dietary changes, and vigorous exercise. To top it off, you have been considering starting your family soon and you learn that it is essential for a healthy conception and prevention of miscarriage to have your thyroid in balance.

It is time to talk to your doctor about getting checked for a thyroid autoimmune condition called Hashimoto’s. Some authorities estimate that 90% of hypothyroid cases in North America may be due to Hashimoto's. In these cases, the patient should be treating their immune system, not simply feeding the body synthetic thyroid hormone, which, over time, can actually contribute to the destruction of the thyroid tissue.

General recommendations for the management of Hashimoto’s:

  • Begin with both liver and digestive health for proper function of the thyroid and its effect on our body.
  • Eliminate Gluten and Casein (a protein in dairy) as they can flare the immune system in those sensitive.
  • Take a quality probiotic, vitamin D, and fish oils.
  • Diligently integrate effective stress management strategies into your life.

By taking these steps you will find better overall health and well-being, and thicker eyebrows!

I am always hungry by 11 am and find myself fantasizing so much for more coffee and a muffin that I end up giving in. I need another boost by 4 pm too. I don’t understand as I grab a quick breakfast, yet I am always tired and hungry.
Written by Alyssa Bauman   

photo woman sitting at table with plate of food, head tilted thinkingThere are a number of factors that could be making you feel this way. Examine what you are eating for breakfast. Breakfast is the most important meal as it kick starts your metabolism. Drinking a green juice is my answer to everything, so make this part of your morning routine.

It is loaded with nutrients and antioxidants that power up your cells. Eating a balanced breakfast - one with a mix of protein and complex carbohydrates like avocado on sprouted toast, an egg, steel cut oats with berries and coconut (more recipes at fuels your body for the day. Breakfast eaters have more energy, actually eat healthier and way less, and have more focus and concentration throughout the day.

Another factor to look at is how many coffees you drink and how you take your coffee. I don’t believe in deprivation as it doesn’t work, but if you are drinking more than 1 cup of coffee and you take it loaded with sugar and cream or drink other hot sugary caffeinated beverages, this is definitely a factor to cause exhaustion and hunger.

Sugar makes you hungry for more sugar, so it is a constant rollercoaster. The more sugar you eat, the more you want to eat. So wean yourself off slowly first by using alternatives like maple syrup or coconut palm sugar in coffee. Then, start eliminating the sugar altogether. Switching to a 4pm green juice will keep you energized and satiated and will make your body altogether more efficient, not to mention other great benefits like glowing skin and weight management.

I am in my mid 30’s and want to start taking care of my skin, but there are so many skin treatments and products available and I have no idea where to start. I am looking for affordable options, but do want to see results. What do you recommend for someon
Written by Amanda Beisel   

jar of creme with lid openBooking a skincare consultation with a trusted skin practitioner is the best first step.  Skin consults are your opportunity to ask your questions and be educated by the skincare practitioner on what options are available for you, your skin needs, and goals and this consultation should be complimentary. This is your opportunity to interview the skincare practitioner and decide if this is the person you want to trust in your skincare journey. You want to find that connection.

The consultation process should focus on your skin goals and needs. First and foremost, you want to be starting an effective daily skincare program that includes essential skincare ingredients. This is the most important first step because what you apply to your skin each day is essential to having healthy skin and seeing results. Secondary is identifying which skincare treatments will address your skin needs. There is no one-size-fits-all model. Some clients will only need to start an effective skincare program at home while others will need to undergo treatments to address their skin goals and needs. Dedicate a year to your skin health and you will see it flourish.

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