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Naturopathy Blog

Make it Through Menopause Feeling Great!

Menopause is a time in a woman’s life where hormones decline fast. This quick decline is the reason why symptoms can be sudden and severe. However, our bodies can handle this stressful time in life better if our adrenal glands (our stress handling glands) are functioning at their best.

Do you have any of these symptoms?

  • Fatigue
  • Night sweats
  • Irritability
  • Sleeping difficulties
  • Weight gain
  • Declining memory or focus
  • Inability to skip a meal

Do you have any of the following health concerns?

  • Osteoporosis or low bone density
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Elevated cholesterol
  • Elevated blood sugar
  • Muscle weakness
  • Thin skin

All of these symptoms are associated with hormone imbalance, but it is not the hormones that are causing it! It is poor adrenal gland function. Our adrenal glands are our stress handling glands that make cortisol to cope with all of the stressors we are exposed to. These symptoms are all associated with elevated cortisol production, which happens with elevated stress. Our hormone levels reduce so that cortisol can be made to handle stress. This means when we have high stress, we have hormone imbalance and symptoms.

Women make hormones primarily in the adrenal glands and in the ovaries. When women go through menopause, they are significantly reducing the amount of hormones their body makes from their ovaries (due to a decline and eventually cessation of ovulation).  This means that our adrenal glands need to pick up for the “slack”. If women are already stressed and in a state of adrenal fatigue, menopausal symptoms can be worse.

Supporting the adrenal glands is key to feeling great through menopause. Here are some tips to improve adrenal gland function:

  1. Begin, it’s never too late!
  2. Fresh air and movement in the morning hours.
  3. Sunlight exposure on the eyelids for 10 minutes a day.
  4. Sleep 8 hours a night (be asleep by no later than 11 pm for the best results)
  5. Pass on the junk food and foods that you are sensitive/allergic to
  6. Stress management; just say no, meditation, breath, walks outside, yoga, take vacations…
  7. Make healthy food choices (getting good fats, carbs and protein) to improve health and reduce internal stress. Consume healthy protein sources for breakfast, lunch and dinner and focus on having the bulk of carbohydrate intake in the evening hours. Limit or avoid alcohol, caffeine, hot/spicy foods, and sugar
  8. Reduce chemical exposures, and remember to choose natural body care products and make up.
  9. Take a multiple vitamin and mineral supplement that has additional vitamins that support adrenal gland function, such as higher amounts of B vitamins and vitamin C. I have professional quality options available for you at the office.
  10. Consume adrenal supportive herbs by tea, infusion, tincture or encapsulated dry herb. Consider a consultation, with myself, for an herbal blend that is individualized for you.

If you are interested in individualized recommendations based on your health history and concerns, consider contacting me for a complimentary 15 minute consultation to learn how my services may be beneficial for your health care needs. I would be happy to work with you.

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WellnesSeries Class This Week: Balancing Hormones for Optimal Health

Hormones affect how we feel and what we do every day and the production of hormones is dependent on so many factors that we can control!  Learning about hormone health can help you take control of your hormones whether your still menstruating or going through menopause.

Come to this class to understand the physiology behind hormone production and balance through:

  • Stress management
  • Food choices
  • Balancing cholesterol
  • Supporting adrenal gland function
  • Sleeping right
  • Supportive supplementation, and much more!

Come to this week’s WellnesSeries class on Thursday, November 17th!

  • When: Thursday, November 17th, from 6:30 – 7:30 pm
  • Where: My office, located at 232 Central Avenue in Osseo
  • Cost: $10.00 cash or check the door
  • RSVP: Reserve your seat today!

BRING A FRIEND AND YOU BOTH ATTEND FOR FREE!

Want more information about my Wellness Series classes? Feel free to email me or call me at 612-250-2804.

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Hormone Balance Begins with Healthy Cholesterol Levels

Hormone balance all starts with good amounts of healthy cholesterol. This means that we don’t want cholesterol to be too low. Cholesterol is the precursor to our hormones and it should naturally elevate, to a certain degree, as we age due to hormonal changes, especially in women going through menopause. As long as the cholesterol is made up of healthy HDL and LDL particles (which lab testing can determine), having too much cholesterol can actually be good!

So what about cholesterol that is too low? Total cholesterol below 150 is too low. When cholesterol is tested, hormone testing can be done at the same time to have a very comprehensive look at whether the amount of cholesterol is adequate or not. If cholesterol is low and hormone production is low, it is the reduced cholesterol that is the cause for low hormone levels. Low cholesterol can also cause cognitive decline because our brain is made up of high amounts of LDL cholesterol to function optimally.

Cholesterol can be low for several reasons. Cholesterol lowering medications or supplements can lower cholesterol too much if not monitored regularly. Individuals who have had their gall bladders removed have reduced ability to digest and absorb fats, reducing the body’s ability to make healthy cholesterol. Fat free diets can lead to low cholesterol as well.

If you are interested in determining if your cholesterol levels are healthy or pose a risk, or are wondering how to balance hormones naturally, consider a consultation with a naturopathic doctor, like myself. I order comprehensive laboratory testing often in my practice and educate individuals so that they understand why they feel the way they do. Feel free to contact me for a complimentary 15 minute phone consultation to understand how my services may be beneficial for your health concerns.

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5 Ways to Balance Your Hormones to Improve Sleep!

Did you know that your hormones can affect the quality of your sleep? If you have symptoms that relate to poor sleep, then you may want to consider easy techniques to improve sleep. But when those options do not work, it is typically the endocrine system that is not in balance which can contribute to sleeping difficulties. This means that hormones are playing a role in sleep quality and since sleep quality affects hormone output as well, it can be a vicious cycle!

Here are 5 ways to help balance hormones to improve sleep

  1. Reduce stress in your life and practice stress management techniques. Stress can come in many forms, such as unhealthy food choices, daily obligations, planning events, meeting deadlines, and more. Our bodies handle stress by producing cortisol. Cortisol is produced in our adrenal glands and the precursor to making it is progesterone. That means we use up our progesterone under stressful circumstances to make cortisol. Balancing stress reduces this and creates more hormone balance.
  2. Consume healthy fats We need fat to make our hormones because the synthesis of hormones in our adrenal glands starts with cholesterol, which comes from fat. Ideas of healthy fats include avocado, seeds (flax, pumpkin, hemp, chia, etc.), nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, pecans, macadamia, etc.), oils made from avocado, macadamia, coconut, and olive.
  3. Improve melatonin production at night by reducing bright light exposure, especially from electronics. Late evening and early morning exposure changes melatonin secretion, thereby affecting the circadian rhythm. Melatonin production is stimulated by darkness and peaks at night to improve the quality of our sleep. Its production is reduced by exposure to bright lights. Diming lights, using blue light blockers or electronics that emit blue light will help. Avoiding electronics 2 hours before bedtime and before 5:00 am will help with this as well.
  4. Get some fresh air and move in the morning hours. Movement (or exercise) creates circulation and modulates hormone output by reducing excess levels of estrogen and testosterone. Movement also encourages cortisol output. Since we want our cortisol high in the morning and low at night, morning movement can help to rebalance the system when we are stressed and not sleeping well. Doing exercise in the evening hours, however, can encourage endocrine dysfunction.
  5. Avoid exogenous estrogens (estrogens from the environment). We are exposed to these types of estrogens on a daily basis. Exposure to these types of estrogens can affect hormone balance and eventually interrupt hormone production and function, eventually affecting sleep quality. Take control and avoid them when you can by choosing to use glass instead of plastic and purchasing organic to avoid herbicides and pesticides. More ways to reduce these and other chemical exposures can be found here.

Feel free to contact me for a complimentary 15 minute phone consultation if you are interested in if you have questions about my services and the labs that I offer to help determine underlying causes for sleeping difficulties and hormone imbalance.

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Tried Everything and Still Not Sleeping Well? Consider Functional Medicine Labs!

For those of you who feel you have implemented ways to improve sleep, have ruled out sleep apnea and other sleeping disorders, and continue to struggle, then functional medicine labs may be the answer for you. These labs look at functional underlying causes for insomnia. Here are the two most common labs I run to help determine supplemental support to improve sleep.

  1. Blood testing for micronutrient (vitamin, mineral, amino acid) status inside the cells:

Nutritional deficiencies can lead to several symptoms are often linked to insomnia. This test looks at the content of 35 different vitamins, minerals, and amino acids in our cells. This can help determine appropriate dosing of individualized nutrients to improve sleep and other health concerns.

 

  1. Saliva and urine testing to determine cortisol output during the day and the bodies utilization of neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine.

Our bodies sleep best when cortisol is higher in the morning and lower in the evening. Looking at this pattern can help determine supplemental support to improve sleep. The neurotransmitter levels in this panel are also useful in determining individualized supplemental support to improve sleep with a focus on balancing levels of serotonin, GABA, dopamine, glutamate, epinephrine and norepinephrine.

Utilizing the results of one or both of these labs, individualized recommendations for therapeutic levels of specific vitamins, minerals and amino acids can be made. Often, improvement in sleep is seen within a short period of time and continues to improve over time.

If you suffer from insomnia and are interested in natural ways to improve your sleep, please contact me. I offer a complimentary 10 minute consult to answer questions you may have about how my services may be beneficial for your health concerns and I would be happy to talk with you.

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WellnesSeries Class This Week: Not Sleeping Well?

Do you have difficulties falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking early? Come to this class to learn how to improve sleep through lifestyle choices and learn natural solutions to consider when these options have been exhausted.

Here is a list of what you will learn about:

  • Lifestyle choices to improve the quality of sleep
  • Nutritional recommendations to improve sleep
  • Labs that are available to determine underlying causes for sleep issues
  • Natural supplements that can improve sleep

Come to this week’s WellnesSeries class on Improving Sleep!

  • When: Thursday, October 20th, from 6:30 – 7:30 pm
  • Where: My office, located at 232 Central Avenue in Osseo
  • Cost: $10.00 cash or check at the door
  • RSVP: Reserve your seat today!

BRING A FRIEND AND YOU BOTH ATTEND FOR FREE!

Want more information about my Wellness Series classes? Feel free to email me or call me at 612-250-2804.

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10 Ways to Improve Sleep

Do you find that you have a difficult time falling asleep, staying asleep or waking early? Do you experience symptoms of inadequate sleep? If so, you may want to consider these top 10 ways to improve your sleep!

  1. Have a general schedule for sleeping every day, even on your days that you don’t need to wake for something on your calendar, and aim for approximately 8 hours of sleep per night.
  2. Sleep in a quiet, dark, cool environment on a comfortable bed.
  3. Have a bed-time routine that is relaxing, such as reading your favorite book.
  4. Avoid screen time for two hours prior to going to bed (this includes computer time, T.V. time, use of cell phones, etc.
  5. Incorporate stress-management techniques into your daily schedule, such as meditation, yoga, a walk outside, etc.
  6. Get body movement early in the day – walk, run, bike, play your favorite sport, etc. Go for variety and see if a friend wants to join you. Going early in the day tends to improve sleep.
  7. Have a light meal for dinner and avoid going to bed hungry or too full.
  8. Skip sweet deserts and go for healthy options, especially at night. Sugar at any time of the day can affect sleep, so if you have sleeping difficulties, try to avoid.
  9. Avoid caffeine, nicotine, alcohol and sugar, especially after 3pm. If you have known food sensitivities, avoid these as well.
  10. Cover your clock if you tend to lie awake watching the time go by and consider a clock that emits sun-light to wake you.

Following these general guidelines will typically help improve sleep over time. However, if no improvement is seen, then consider contacting me for further support. There are additional lifestyle, nutritional and supplemental recommendations that can be made to improve sleep and several laboratory tests that can be done to determine other potential underlying causes of insomnia.

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10 Symptoms that suggest you are not getting enough sleep.

Sleep is important for our bodies to function at their best. When we do not get enough sleep, we put our body on over-drive to function. This makes our body work harder, and over time, symptoms set in. Initially we may feel wired or anxious with inadequate sleep, then comes the cognitive decline, and eventually we are exhausted.

Here is a list of symptoms that suggest that you could use more sleep:

  1. The obvious – feeling tired and sleepy, yawning frequently, requiring naps to function well, needing to pull over in your car to sleep, etc.
  2. You’re always hungry. The same area in the brain that control sleep controls hunger. When the body does not get enough sleep, the brain sends signals to increase hunger to make up for the lost sleep.
  3. You’re gaining weight. As with hunger, metabolism is also controlled by the same area in the brain. When you don’t get enough sleep, cortisol (our stress hormone) increases and our bodies do not respond to insulin as well. Then add in the likely hood to choose poor food choices under these circumstances and the result is weight gain.
  4. Irritability, short tempered and/or frustrated easily. Our ability to handle stressful situations reduces when we do not get enough sleep and leads to inadequate responses. This may be experienced as lashing out at someone you care about over something that could have been dealt with in a more appropriate fashion.
  5. You’re experiencing memory decline, decreased performance or alertness. Brain health requires good sleep. When we sleep, our brain undergoes processes that help restore cognitive function.
  6. You avoid places that require you sustain attention such as movies, plays, parties, seminars, etc. When we are tired, our body has a difficult time coping with additional noise, keeping our attention on something, and we tend to drift and experience the inability to stay focused on a something.
  7. Difficulty with making decisions. This goes along with the previous statement that good cognitive function requires sleep. It also happens because of adrenal gland fatigue due to the stress from not sleeping well causing a decline in the ability to handle a stressful situation or make a decision.
  8. Feeling clumsy. Over time, inadequate sleep will affect how our body functions when we move. If you feel you trip, drop things, or bump into corners of walls a few times a day, this may be because you’re not getting enough sleep.
  9. You’re feeling ill more than a few times a year. Inadequate sleep can make us feel unwell during the day in general but can also lead to a weakening of the immune system, making us more apt to experience frequent illnesses. It can also affect recovery time, causing illnesses to take longer to resolve.
  10. Your skin is not looking as good as it typically does. While we sleep, our body repairs skin. If we don’t get enough sleep, our skin will show it… so off you go to get your “beauty sleep”

Our bodies function at their best with at least 8 hours of sleep per night. So if you get less than that and experience any of these symptoms, it might be why. So stay tuned for next weeks’ post on 10 ways to improve sleep!

If you suffer from insomnia and are interested in natural ways to improve your sleep, please contact me. I offer a complimentary 10 minute consult to answer questions you may have about how my services may be beneficial for your health concerns and I would be happy to talk with you.

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Testing for Gluten Sensitivity and Celiac Disease

There is laboratory testing available to measure the amount of antibodies to gluten that you make and there are several different companies that offer testing. However, most of them offer limited panels that include antibodies to just gliadin and/or gluten. There is more to the picture than these two isolated antibodies though. In my practice, I utilize a panel that measures 24 different markers from a blood sample. It is a much more comprehensive panel that is less likely to give a false negative. However, in order for any of these tests to be accurate, one must be currently consuming gluten. Any type of test for gluten sensitivity can give false negatives for those that are not eating gluten at the time that the testing is performed.

For children, I recommend this same panel. However, for those that prefer not to have blood drawn, there is a salivary test (salivary gliadin IgA) that has been shown to be very accurate in screening for celiac disease and gluten sensitivity as well. I offer this panel in my office as well.

There is no blood test or salivary test at this time to diagnose celiac disease. Diagnosing Celiac Disease requires a biopsy of the cells in the small intestine. A genetic test can determine if Celiac Disease is a possibility, as one must have the genes to have it. So I do recommend to have this test done prior to having a biopsy done. However, if the genetic test comes back positive, it does not diagnose Celiac Disease. It just indicates that it is a possibility to have the onset of Celiac Disease at any time in that person’s life and gluten exposure could be a trigger for onset. The test that measures 24 markers, listed in the first paragraph, can be used as a screening for Celiac Disease. However, if it comes back negative, it does not rule it out. The only way to accurately test for celiac is to have a biopsy done and one must be consuming gluten at the time the testing is done or that test can give a false negative as well.

I order testing for gluten sensitivity and screening for celiac disease and work with individuals on healing the gastrointestinal lining and improving digestive function often. Please feel free to contact me for more information or to order a test if you are interested. I offer a complimentary 10 minute consultation to answer any questions you may have regarding my services and how they may be beneficial for your health concerns as well.

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How Important is it to be 100% Gluten Free?

The importance of being 100% gluten free depends on the severity of your sensitivity and/or if you make antibodies (an internal army) to gluten when you are exposed to it.

Antibodies are your body’s natural defense system against foreign substances (things that are not supposed to be in our body) like viruses, bacteria, or other micro-organisms. When we have increased permeability (leakiness) in our gastrointestinal tract, then food particles are absorbed into our blood stream. These particles are not supposed to be there so they are considered foreign and our body makes antibodies against them.

Gluten causes leakiness in the gastrointestinal tract, even if there is no sensitivity. This means that gluten leads to antibody production to foods, and thus can lead to any type of food sensitivity, especially to gluten. Anyone can make antibodies to gluten. However, people who are more likely to make these antibodies include those that have Celiac Disease, those that have other autoimmune conditions, or those that are just gluten sensitive.

Because of the inflammatory effect gluten has on the gastrointestinal tract, it can potentially lead to increased risk for autoimmune conditions as well. These antibodies to gluten can begin to attack self-tissue, an autoimmune reaction. And like I mentioned in an earlier post, it only takes 1/10,000 of a particle of a gluten to trigger antibody production. If you want to reduce the likelihood of continued damage, or if you have an autoimmune condition or want to prevent autoimmune conditions, it is fairly important to avoid gluten 100%.

If you have questions about gastrointestinal health, food sensitivities, autoimmune conditions, or other health concerns, please feel free to reach out to me. I would be happy to offer you safe and effective natural treatment options along with lifestyle recommendations to achieve optimal health and feel your best.

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WellnesSeries Class This Week: Celiac Disease and Gluten Sensitivity

September 13th is national Celiac Disease awareness day!

Celiac disease is the most common genetic autoimmune condition in the US and gluten sensitivity is one of the most common food sensitivities. Come to this week’s WellnesSeries class to learn all about the differences and similarities between Celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, and gluten intolerance. Learn how to eat gluten free and get useful tips for success!

We will discuss the following:

  • Differences/similarities between Celiac Disease, gluten sensitivity and gluten intolerance
  • How to tell if you are sensitive to gluten and lab tests to help
  • How to improve gastrointestinal function and support digestion
  • Where gluten is found in food, including hidden sources
  • HEALTHY gluten free food options

Come to this week’s WellnesSeries class on Celiac Disease and Gluten Sensitivity!

  • When: Thursday, September 15th, from 6:30 – 7:30 pm
  • Where: My office, located at 232 Central Avenue in Osseo
  • Cost: $10.00 cash or check at the door
  • RSVP: Reserve your seat today!

BRING A FRIEND AND YOU BOTH ATTEND FOR FREE!

Want more information about my Wellness Series classes? Feel free to email me or call me at 612-250-2804.

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