Somehow, we seem to have signed on to the idea that falling apart and breaking down physically is an integral and inevitable part of life. I’ve had clients as young as 30 come into my office believing it was normal for them to feel increasingly lousy at their age. Please don’t believe it! While no one lives forever, and we can’t hope to look or feel at 70 the way we did at 35, the goal is to be healthy, with all parts functioning and our vitality intact.
I believe this goal is attainable, though it takes commitment to health-promoting habits day by day and year after year. You don’t have to be perfect, but you do have to be consistent. You can reclaim your health at any age!
Here are just three of many commonly experienced symptoms, often accepted as normal and permanent, that I have seen eliminated, over and over again, with appropriate nutrition and lifestyle changes:
- PMS and other hormonal problems;
- Digestive problems, including GERD, heartburn, IBS, bloating, gas, constipation, etc.
- Creeping weight gain with age
The single most valuable supplement I have found for women’s hormonal problems is black currant seed oil. This is especially effective for PMS, but can help with menopausal symptoms as well. BSO is rich in several essential fatty acids that our bodies need but cannot produce, including gamma linolenic acid (GLA). Research suggests BSO is anti-inflammatory, immune-supportive, and helps regulate the menstrual cycle. BSO is also wonderful for the skin, and has been touted as an anti-aging and anti-wrinkle supplement.
While some women will need nutritional and/or lifestyle changes in addition to BSO, many find relief with this single supplement.
I usually start clients off with a higher dose of about 1000 mg three times daily with meals. After they have been asymptomatic for a couple of months, we lower the dose.
Sometimes women try evening primrose or flax oil for hormonal problems. Neither has the range of essential fatty acids that BSO does, and I have not found either to be as effective in eliminating hormonal symptoms.
Unfortunately, most over-the-counter and prescription medications only suppress symptoms of digestive distress, and do not address the underlying problem. In fact, many of these medications cause health problems with long term use, as they inhibit the digestive tract from doing its job. With acid suppressants, for instance, long-term use can result in bone loss, or anemia, as the stomach is not able to absorb and assimilate minerals efficiently if it is not acidic enough.
In my practice, I have found that most digestive problems are caused by a food sensitivity, and then complicated by opportunistic microbes such as H. Pylori or Candida Albicans, that proliferate in an imbalanced, unhealthy GI system. Sugar, coffee, colas, and alcohol can compound the problem, and feed the microbes.
Addressing the underlying problem repairs the gastrointestinal tract, and supports long term health. We do this by identifying and eliminating the food sensitivities, and then using nutritional and nutriceutical protocols to address the chronic infections.
The most common food sensitivities I see in my practice are gluten (in wheat, oats, spelt, rye, and barley), casein (from cow’s milk), soy, and peanuts. Peanuts are a legume, not a true nut, and often carry molds. Often – but not always – people who can not tolerate cow’s milk can tolerate sheep or goat’s milk products. And virtually everyone does well on coconut milk, which has so many benefits and is widely available now, even in supermarkets.
Creeping Weight Gain
Weight gain with aging is not inevitable, nor is it normal. It is, however, very, very common. Metabolism does have a tendency to slow down as we pass our prime reproductive years, but you can rev up and reset your metabolism at any age – without hours in the gym. Metabolism has much more to do with nutrition and sleep than it does with exercise. In fact, I advise you to avoid spending too much time in the gym! You are much better off with short bursts of high intensity training, rather than longer low to moderate intensity exercise. It’s the intensity, not the duration, that helps you get leaner.
And yes, I said sleep. Many people lose fat simply by getting 8 hours of sleep every night, which keeps cortisol levels lower. During sleep, cortisol levels drop as we rest. Obviously, if you only sleep 5 or 6 hours, you have a shorter time period when they are low, and a longer exposure during your waking hours. And the less you sleep, the more you depend on stress hormones like cortisol to get through your day. When you’re exhausted, your hormones set you up to crave more fast fuel, too, so you tend to reach for junk food and other refined carbohydrates.
Want to know if your symptoms can be addressed holistically, with lifestyle and nutrition changes? Please send me your questions.
This was published as my Lifestyle column in Hudson Valley Insider.