Progesterone is a female sex hormone produced by the ovaries that helps balance the menstrual cycle. It is important in fertility as it is released by the ovaries after ovulation to thicken the uterine lining to help accommodate a fertilised egg. It is not only needed for pregnancy but also as an antidepressant, calming agent, regulate blood sugar levels and to balance out oestrogen.
Symptoms of low progesterone
PMS and mood swings
Irregular periods – Heavy bleeding, painful cramping etc.
There should be the right balance of oestrogen and progesterone. However, a hormonal imbalance resulting in low progesterone levels may increase oestrogen dominance. Because of the increase in exposure to xeno “bad” estrogens such as plastics in day to day life, this type of hormonal imbalance with low progesterone is quite common. Progesterone is also needed to protect against the negative effects of excess oestrogen which is why it is important to address hormonal imbalance.
Berries contain low amounts of sugar. Highly refined sugars and grains have been linked to hormone imbalances.
Chia seeds, yoghurt and avocado are all great sources of good quality fat, which is essential to hormone production
Flaxseeds contain a plant lignan called Secoisolariciresinol diglycoside (SDG), which specifically helps to balance the levels of estrogen in the body. Studies have shown the benefits of flaxseeds in postmenopausal women, breast cancer patients, and women trying to fall pregnant.
Sunflower seeds are high in zinc, which is required for healthy hormone production.
Nano reds is a fruit and vegetable superfood powder, which contains a compound called Resveratrol. Resveratrol has been shown to increase the production of SexHormone Binding Globulin (SHBG) in the liver, which reduces excess estrogens in the body.
Protein powder assists in the maintenance of healthy hormone levels, assists weight loss and metabolism, and builds and repairs body tissues.
Maca is an Incan superfood, which promotes optimal functioning of the endocrine system, particularly the function of the hypothalamus and pituitary glands. Traditionally, it has been used to reduce menopausal symptoms, regulate menstrual cycles, and increase libido and promote fertility in both men and women.
Studies have shown cinnamon helps to balance blood sugar levels, and control sugar cravings.
1 cup liquid (nut or seed mylk, coconut milk or water, organic cow’s milk, or filtered water)
Quarter cup frozen berries (we recommend organic or spray free if possible)
1 tablespoon goji berries or nano reds
1 teaspoon chia seeds
1 teaspoon flaxseeds
1 teaspoon pumpkin seeds
1 quarter of an avocado
1 serving good quality protein powder (we recommend Nu-zest)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoon maca powder
Blend all ingredients in a blender, add ice if desired.
Pour into your favourite glass and enjoy!
Nuzest and nano reds are available at the clinic
If you have been prescribed fish oil or probiotics by your practitioner, you can also add the recommended dose into your smoothie! For capsulated probiotics, please open the capsule and empty the contents into the smoothie (discard capsule).
Are you physically motivated enough to reach your goals?
This time of the year we will all start to think about what we want out of 2017. For some of you your health may be at the top of the list. Too often we set these goals and we don’t achieve them. We say I will start the diet on Monday, I will pay the credit card next month, take the dog for a walk tomorrow, empty the cupboard next week. Goals are usually not achieved because we procrastinate.
What if there was a hormone that we had in our body that kept you motivated, goal orientated and focused? Well, this hormone actually exists – it is called dopamine!
Dopamine is often referred to as the “feel good” chemical. When it is low the person is more likely to feel depressed, lack pleasure, be unmotivated or lethargic. Those with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) usually lack dopamine. Most people have heard of serotonin because many anti-depressants work on serotonin, but many have not heard of dopamine even though it is critical in clarity, happiness, focus and wellbeing.
So how can you increase dopamine levels naturally?
Are you suffering with digestive problem? It is critical that your gut is healthy, as all good health starts in the gut. Your stomach is the beginning of protein digestion, where protein is broken down into amino acids. To make dopamine your body needs plenty of the amino acid tyrosine. If you have reflux, bloating, food sensitivities or indigestion it may mean that you are not digesting your proteins efficiently. So digestive dysfunction needs to be addressed.
Dopamine is made from protein and a cocktail of other important nutrients like vitamin C, iron, magnesium, B vitamins and zinc. It is also wise to consider increasing foods high in tyrosine such as almonds, avocado, bananas and poultry. You need to make sure your diet has plenty of colour too. If any of the dopamine cofactors from the diet are missing it makes it very difficult for the body to produce dopamine.
A study published in 2008 in the Journal of Nutrition & Metabolism demonstrated that low dopamine levels are associated with an inability to control portion sizes, so you are more likely to overeat. So if your goal is to shed some weight we need to get those dopamine levels up!
So how do you know if you are low in dopamine? There are clinical pathology tests as simple as a urine test that can determine your neurotransmitter levels.
If you know you procrastinate and put your goals on hold, you may be in need of more dopamine!
Have you been tired, moody, struggling with unexplained weight gain or weight loss and have noticed a change in temperature sensitivity?
Well, maybe it is time to get your thyroid checked!
Thyroid: The butterfly hormone gland
If the thyroid gland is not functioning optimally, it can cause a range of symptoms such as weight changes, low energy, reduced mood, depression, anxiety, menstrual changes, fertility problems, digestive issues, intolerance to heat or cold, and changes to the skin and hair. The list goes on.
Australia has such a high prevalence of thyroid disease, it is alarming. Many of the causes of thyroid disease are linked to our dietary and lifestyle choices.
When it comes to why your thyroid is not functioning as best as it can, there are a number of potential triggers that could be investigated:
Nutritional deficiencies – Iodine and tyrosine are what we call the precursors to the production of thyroid hormones. This means they are used to produce the thyroid hormones. Therefore, it makes sense that if the body is deficient in the nutrients that it needs to make the thyroid hormones, it will not be able to produce the hormones. Iodine deficiency is re-emerging in Australia due to deficient soils, a lack of seafood consumption, and reduced use of iodised salt. Other nutrients involved in optimal thyroid function include selenium and zinc.
Chronic stress – when we are stressed, our body releases certain hormones, which inhibit the production of TSH, thus leading to reduced thyroid function.
Environmental toxins and chemicals – some toxins can interfere with the uptake of iodine in the body, and thus indirectly impact the production of thyroid hormones. Other chemicals directly impact the endocrine system – these are called endocrine-disrupting hormones, and can play havoc with our endocrine systems, such as the thyroid gland and reproductive glands.
Molecular mimicry: Sounds strange, but it is straightforward. It is when the body starts attacking bodily tissue that it thinks is an “invader” because they look similar in molecular structure to the real “invader”. There is a lot of research centred around the role of gliadin (the protein portion of gluten) and its role in autoimmune thyroid disease. Now, we are seeing more research focusing on certain strains of gut bacterias playing a similar role.
Autoimmune diseases – Grave’s disease is an autoimmune thyroid disease that leads to an overproduction of thyroid hormones. Hashimoto’s is also an autoimmune disease that causes a reduced production of thyroid hormones.
You may have had your TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) tested in blood tests, as this is the standard test. However, testing TSH on its own does not give a complete picture of thyroid function – it is important to also look at the levels of the thyroid hormones, antibodies and co factor nutrients in order to gain a thorough assessment of thyroid function.
Identifying the cause of thyroid disease is important, however, as with any condition working towards a lifestyle geared towards prevention is equally as important. As we now see some of the contributing factors like toxins, stress and nutrient deficiencies are aspects of health that you can start to take into your own hands today. Co authored by: Suzi Le Fanue (Naturopath) & Carly Stewart (Nutrition)
Bring back your mojo! – By Naturopaths Suzi Le Fanue and Ellen Tattam 🙂
If you asked any of our Naturopaths who we see the most in clinic, it is women who are burnt out, stressed and overwhelmed. Why is that? Women’s lifestyles are becoming increasingly busier, leaving less and less time for self care. Naturopaths see women of all ages in clinic every day, who put their children, family, work and many other commitments before their own health, without even realising it.
Poor dietary choices may be the start of the cascade of events that happens in this typical picture. Choosing processed foods with minimal nutrients, because it’s fast and easy, is a common choice made my Mum’s on-the-go and this can easily be corrected with the right nutrition advice, planning and dietary tips.
Choosing foods high in good proteins and fats that keep blood sugar levels stabilised, without dips and spikes, is important for energy levels and mood changes.
On a biochemical level, when a perceived threat is encountered a fight-or-flight response is engaged. For example, in times of stress an alarm system is set off in a part of your brain, the hypothalamus. In turn this prompts your adrenal glands, located atop your kidneys, to release a surge of adrenaline and cortisol, two hormones affected by stress. While adrenaline increases your heart rate, elevates blood pressure and increases energy supplies – cortisol, being the primary stress hormone, increases glucose in the bloodstream and increases the availability of substances that repair tissues. However, cortisol can alternatively alter immune system responses and suppress the digestive system, reproductive system and growth processes.
What happens with time is the body can start depleting its production of cortisol. You may then starts to feel tired (especially in the morning), stressed, overwhelmed, irritable, emotional and like you have lost your spark or zest. Adrenal insufficiency or adrenal fatigue is a biochemical imbalance we see frequently in clinic.
So could you do to address either adrenal overdrive or adrenal insufficiency?
You could look into addressing your nutrient status, ensure your diet is geared towards balancing blood sugar levels (adequate protein, moderate low GI carbohydrates) as well as look into herbal medicine to support the adrenals. An important recommendation is to eliminate caffeine from your diet. As caffeine can cause disturbed sleeping patterns, and reduces sleep quality. Sugar can also increase poor quality sleep, particularly if consumed at night.
A key neurotransmitter that is affected by stress is serotonin. Most people relate serotonin as the happy neurotransmitter in the brain but it is much more than that. Serotonin is also vital for regulating your sleeping patterns, body temperature, memory and appetite. Therefore, when stress causes imbalances with these chemicals around the body, it can lead to sleep disturbances, appetite and digestive function problems as well as many other hormonal imbalances.
Our top lifestyle recommendations:
-Dedicate “me time”. This could be reading a new book, gardening, walking the dog, booking in a massage or some form of pampering, taking a long bath, or engaging in gentle exercise. Plan these ahead of time, and dont leave it until the last minute.
-Be careful who you surround yourself with. Please can either lift your energy or they can drain it. Your thoughts have the power to alter your psychology which can then alter your physiology.
-Avoid night time television and staying up late. This depletes melatonin, your sleep hormone. As Naturopaths, we recommend a balanced and holistic combination of a nutrient dense diet, regular exercise and self care. Look after yourself and the mojo will follow!
Natural Remedies That Can Relieve Your Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic medical condition that affects joints of your feet and hands causing severe pain, swelling and in a few cases permanent disabilities. In Rheumatoid arthritis (RA), the immune system of your body attacks joints that causes inflammation and destroys joints along with other organs of your body. There is natural relief.
Also, there are some correlations to autoimmune disease relating to toxicity from pharmaceuticals and vaccination, however hormonal, environmental and genetic factors are also of concern. The disease makes many patients unmovable, but there are case studies on RA where patients have treated their own disease and they have successfully overcome RA. Here are top 13 natural foods that may have good impact to relieve you from this chronic health condition.
1. Coriander According to a medical research conducted by All India Institute of Medical Sciences, the coriander powder has potential to reduce swelling and inflammation. It can also be digested as green leaves.
2. Olive Oil Olive oil, especially raw ice-pressed, has many health benefits starting from reducing your blood cholesterol to diabetes and inflammation. It can be used as cooking oil that could not only make your dish tastier but also loads with various health benefits. The anti-inflammatory properties of olive oil relieve you from arthritis joints pain.
3. Greentea Green tea is a wonder drink that is loaded with antioxidants that have anti-inflammatory properties. Along with relieving you from severe arthritis pain, green tea has many health benefits from lowering your LDL cholesterol to minimizing the risk of bladder cancer.
4. Turmeric Turmeric is a popular herb that is frequently used in Indian dishes. It is a rich source of curcumin that can even minimize chronic inflammation at cellular levels.
5. Pineapple The stems of pineapples are rich in a protein called bromelain. It acts as a digestive enzyme that relieves from arthritis inflammation.
6. Blueberries Blueberries are rich in various minerals and they are considered to be the potential sources of antioxidants. However, always go for organically grown berries because they have higher amounts of polyphenols than the non-organically grown. These polyphenols and antioxidants prevent cell damage and reduce inflammation.
7. Ginger Ginger is a very popular herb that has anti-inflammatory properties. It acts as a blood thinner that improves flow of blood in arteries. In a study organized by researchers of japan, it was found that ginger has positive effect in curing arthritis of any type.
8. Sweet potatoes They are rich in beta-carotene and vitamin A and these two elements can fight with RA inflammation.
9. A diet full of whole grains Our body needs dietary fibers to eliminate unwanted fat from blood. Also, a diet rich in dietary fiber can control RA and do weight management. Buckwheat, oatmeal, barley and quinoa (although that’s a seed) are your best choices.
10. Parsley In a research conducted by JNR (Journal of Natural Remedies) on rats, it was found that extract made of fresh leaves of parsley had reduced inflammation in their paws. Therefore, using it as a home remedy to relieve you from your arthritis pain can have positive impact.
11. Carrots Carrots have abundance amount of Vitamin C and beta carotene. Beta-carotene and Vitamin C both have antioxidant properties that kill free radicals which are responsible for arthritis inflammation.
12. Rosemary Rosemary has a polyphenol called rosmarinic acid which is a potent antioxidant and inflammation reliever.
13. Kale Kale is a vegetable that is a rich source of anti-oxidants, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, and beta-carotene that can reverse arthritis inflammation.
Everyone (both men and women) have hormone levels that change naturally over time as the body develops and changes. While hormone level changes are to be expected, sometimes imbalances in hormones can result from unexpected changes that throw the whole system out of whack. These hormone variations can be accompanied by some unpleasant and uncomfortable symptoms, especially in women when their estrogen levels alter. Social Media Marketing Agency in Goa
What Exactly is Estrogen?
Estrogen is not just one hormone, but an entire class of related sex hormones that women have in high levels, including estriol, estradiol, and estrone. Estradiol is the primary sex hormone for childbearing women that is formed in the developing ovarian follicles, and is responsible for physical female characteristics and sexual functioning. Estriol is made from the placenta and is produced during pregnancy, and estrone is the main estrogen component that is present after menopause.
Natural Low Estrogen Levels
Estrogen levels rise during puberty as the body changes, and they naturally fall during menopause, as women’s bodies change again between the ages of 40 to 55. These changes in hormone levels are completely natural, but they can be alarming when they’re happening. While rising estrogen levels during puberty cause breast development and a more mature figure for young girls, the changes that accompany menopause can create irregular periods, hot flashes, loss of libido and vaginal dryness.
Reasons for Low Estrogen
Other than menopause, there are many other reasons that estrogen levels fall. They include:
Extreme exercise and training regimens
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
Women at Risk for Low Estrogen Levels
Women with low body fat tend to be at risk of low estrogen levels, which is why athletes and people with eating disorders are the primary people affected by this. Low estrogen levels that do not occur when they should (that is, after menopause) might be reason to have tests run by a doctor, and take steps to regulate the hormone balance.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
Polycystic ovarian syndrome is a condition caused by an imbalance of hormones, and specifically a high level of testosterone. While all women have testosterone in their bodies, if the level of this hormone is too high, the resultant effect can be an increase of body hair, acne and muscle mass, a deepening in voice and frontal balding. High testosterone levels can cause a woman to have irregular or absent periods and infertility.
PCOS is an endocrine condition that is seen in some women is childbearing years who have difficulty getting pregnant. The symptoms of PCOS include:
An apple-shaped body
Excessive or thinning hair
Testing Your Hormone Levels
If you think your estrogen levels are too high or too low, you can get your doctor to do a physical examination to determine whether your symptoms necessitate further laboratory tests.
These checkups and tests are very important if you have pre-existing health condition like PCOS, or if you’ve stopped menstruating because of excessive athletic training or as a result of an eating disorder like anorexia. If the tests reveal abnormal hormone levels, you can then work with your doctor to balance them out and alleviate the resulting symptoms.
Are you feeling overwhelmed, moody, fatigued and like your digestive system has gone to sleep, and your healthy diet is not giving you the lift you would like? There is always a cause. Let me explain. Snorkeling in Goa
TIRED AND WIRED is the expression that many of my clients say they feel. Along with this feeling they are often stressed and overwhelmed. Why is it so common?
Well, there are two sections of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) is split into two sections: The rest and digest system (Parasympathetic) and the fight or flight system (Sympathetic). I see that some people have an imbalance and are switched in the fight or flight too often. When your body is exposed to stress, whether it be physical or mental, it is flooded with two hormones adrenaline and cortisol. Both of these put you in the “fight or flight” response. Your pupils dilate, your heart races, you become tense, thoughts are short lasting, memory reduces and you are on edge. These may have been handy in the days when an animal would jump out of a bush, but not handy for modern day stress, in fact it is detrimental to your health and will make your body even more stressed.
What does this do to your hormones? I call it the pregnenolone steal! What’s that? Pregnenolone is like a mother hormone, it can be used to make cortisol or it can be used to make reproductive hormones. When you are stressed your body goes down the cortisol pathway and then you can end up with hormone imbalance. So if I stress less it will fix itself up? Not just yet, you see inflammation such as asthma, arthritis, heart disease, kidney disease, hepatitis, IBS, allergies or any other inflammatory condition will also cause cortisol to increase. So you need to reduce the inflammation in the body.
Cortisol causes the blood to be shunted from the digestive system to the muscles, causing peristalsis (bowel movements) to change and your nutrient absorption may possibly drop. This in itself can cause energy to drop, sleep quality to reduce, changes in skin, and lowered mood. Much of your serotonin production (happy neurotransmitters) happens in the gut, so any sort of reduced blood flow could result in reduced neurotransmitter production. Digestive enzymes are made in the gut, if you find that some days you can handle a food and the next day you cant, it could be a reflection of your stress response. Digestive becomes the second priority when you are in the fight or flight response.
Can you see it is hard for your mind to be clear when your body is not?
The stress/anti-inflammatory hormone Cortisol is what wakes you up in the morning. If you are stressed, it is high all day long, not the slightest bit useful when you are laying in bed trying to get to sleep. It will prevent you from getting to sleep. Your mind will race! I see this in many clients when we do saliva hormone testing (Cortisol is high at night and melatonin [sleeping hormone] is low).
It is more than likely that you have experienced the gut-brain connection. The expressions “gut wrenching” or “butterflies” are all examples. I have heard of instances where a person was so stressed from a trauma that it was then their digestive health deteriorated. For this you need to go back and correct damage that was caused, but more importantly address the brain and the gut at the exact same time.
It is always harder to lose weight when you are stressed. Cortisol also makes it difficult to lose weight, and you will hold more fat predominantly around the tummy. So no matter how much exercise you do the weight will be hard to reduce. Cortisol levels could alter your melatonin levels, the sleeping hormone. If this happens your leptin levels (a hormone that tells you to stop eating) reduces, so you will feel more hungry and more likely to eat carbohydrate or sweets and unable to control your portion size. The increased carbohydrate content then increases insulin, which promotes inflammation, causes another spike of cortisol. See how everything in the body is connected?
Being in the fight and flight response for too long a period of time can lead you feeling drained, this leads to you being more emotionally unstable and you may become teary easier. This not only affects you it affects those around you. And makes it hard to deal with day to day tasks. I say this, because I know what it is like. I have experienced anxiety and panic attacks, so my understanding comes from experience and not just knowledge.
Stress and digestion go hand in hand. I never just treat stress, you always need to dig deeper. The body needs balance, when one thing increases another decreases, when one nutrient is deficient for a pathway it will be ‘robbed’ from another and the imbalance continues. This is the beauty of Naturopathy, we address all aspects of your health, to enable you to live a happy, fruitful, abundant life!
Yours in health and happiness,
Suzi Le Fanue ND
Book your FREE Introductory consultation with a Naturopath today 5458 4800. Appointments are available in person, by phone or skype.