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Tuesday
Sep082015

8 Uncommon Tips for Women’s Wellness

Women’s health is a complicated matter.

A woman’s well-being is impacted by an intricate balance of hormone systems such as adrenal, thyroid and sex hormones.

As women progress through the decades of life, hormones ebb and flow and can knock each other off track. This oftentimes makes attaining optimal health and weight loss more challenging as women age.

The good news is that we have significant influence over our hormones and genes by what we choose to do or not do in our lives. Many factors impact hormone balance such as nutrition, supplementation, exercise, stress management, sleep and living environment.

Learn how you can use these areas of influence to enhance your well-being!

Consume flaxseed daily. 

Estrogen is metabolized in our bodies into different metabolites - with the relationships among them acting as a biomarker for breast cancer risk.

Flaxseed, an excellent source of lignans and fiber, has been shown to reduce a woman’s risk for breast cancer with as little as 10 grams a day (1 Tbsp) over 7 weeks.

For optimal absorption, make sure the flaxseed is ground up (a coffee grinder works perfectly), and store it in a fridge or freezer to prevent oxidation. Flaxseed mixes well into smoothies, Greek yogurt and oatmeal. Alternatively, you can sprinkle it over salads for an added nutty flavor.

Eat your cruciferous vegetables. 

Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, and bok choy contain a group of sulfur-containing chemicals called glucosinolates. This is what makes them taste more pungent and bitter.

These compounds break down into biologically active substances called indoles and isothiocyanates, which have been shown to metabolize and eliminate estrogens via the digestive tract. Plus, they may reduce the risk of specific cancers such as breast cancer.

Research suggests that the protective dose of indoles is 200-400 mg a day, which equates to 130 Brussels sprouts or ¼ head of raw cabbage. While those equivalents might seem excessive, they encourage us to generously incorporate these foods into our diets.

Limit your alcohol intake. 

Women absorb more alcohol and take longer to remove it from their bodies than men. This affects their long-term health risks including risk for liver disease, memory loss and cancer.

A serving of alcohol equates to 12 oz beer, 5 oz wine, or 1.5 oz spirits. I encourage you to measure your next cocktail or wine glass as you may be consuming more than a standard serving at a time. For women, experts recommend not exceeding 1 standard serving of alcohol a day. 

Train your mind. 

Think of all the "hats" women wear throughout their lifetimes: daughter, sister, friend, wife, mom, chauffeur, cook/chef, maid, caretaker, etc. It’s no wonder most women wait to focus on their own health until they are in the sandwich years between caring for their children and their aging parents. They don’t have time!

Unfortunately, by then many hormone systems are veering off path, and many women don’t feel, function or look like they want to. At the core of these disruptions is our adrenal health (or ill-health), impacted by years of stressors.

Recent studies indicate women are twice as vulnerable as men to stress-related disorders as a result of how their brain receptors respond to the same stressors. Our minds are MUCH stronger than our physical bodies, and our minds deserve to be trained toward healthy resilience just as our bodies do.

There are many free or low cost meditation apps offered that will help you “train” your mind from 3 minutes up to 20+ minute sessions. Just as you wouldn’t go from a couch to running a 10K, you will want to start small and progress when ready. 

Modify your environment.

Many chemicals and toxins are called xenoestrogens, which are environmental estrogens that mimic the estrogen our bodies produce. They disrupt hormonal balance by attaching to our hormone receptors and slowing our own production of hormones.

An interesting (and startling) fact is the average woman will leave her home in the morning with over 150 chemicals on her face! Research now suggests that 90% of chronic disease is driven by the environment rather than our genetics.

So, what can you do to limit toxin exposure? Transition to organic, naturally-sourced cosmetics, personal products, and cleaning supplies. Additionally, use glass, stainless steel or ceramic cookware in place of plastic, Teflon, or aluminum for food preparation, storage, and drinking.

Interval train.

Interval training involves short bursts of high intensity activity alternated with a period of active recovery. In layman’s terms, you go all out for 30-60 seconds followed by 60-120 seconds of an easy pace recovery. Repeat for 4-6 cycles, and don’t forget your 5-8 minute warm-up and cool-down periods.

The hormonal effect of interval training has been shown to help individuals lose more weight, body AND belly fat, and improve insulin sensitivity.

One in three Americans produces too much insulin, which encourages the body to store more fat (especially in the love handle area) and effectively turns off the ability to burn fat.

Note: If your body/mind is under excess stress, you may want to go easy on the intervals until you can heal your adrenal system.

Supplement your health.

It would be wonderful if we could get all the nutrition our bodies need to optimally fuel energy, metabolism, and health through food alone. Reality too often gets in the way with a quick paced lifestyle, reliance on convenience foods, and depleted agricultural conditions (which results in food with lower nutrient density) - all in addition to our personal stressors. Each of these factors increases our nutritional needs further. Here are some essentials for women.

  • A woman’s formulated multivitamin/mineral to act as a nutritional “support system,” filling in the gaps of our current dietary intake.
  • Omega-3 fish oils to optimize our cellular health and to provide the building blocks for hormone production
  • Vitamin D to support immunity, cognitive health/mood, insulin sensitivity, digestive health, etc. (most common vitamin deficiency)
  • Herb blend that helps stabilize female hormone balance and the resultant PMS, peri-menopausal, or menopausal symptoms

Get your hormones tested.

Our bodies are made up of several hormone systems, all interrelated with significant impact on each other. When one system is off, others will follow, causing us to feel worse and to struggle more in attaining personal goals around weight loss.

Our hormones act as “internal roadblocks,” and the only way to uncover these specific imbalances is through lab testing.

When we have a precise picture of our internal functioning, we’re able to pursue the optimum course of action for our particular health status and individual concerns.

Women’s health is best achieved through a holistic approach to hormone balancing through optimal nutrition, supplementation, exercise, stress management, and environmental adjustments. The right tools and choices can put us on the path to greater wellbeing and vitality.

Would you like more information or support for optimizing your health as a woman? Talk with our professional fitness and nutrition staff today. Thanks for reading!

In health, Cindi Lockhart - Sr. Program Manager of Health and Nutrition Coaching

This article is not intended for the treatment or prevention of disease, nor as a substitute for medical treatment, nor as an alternative to medical advice. Use of recommendations in this and other articles is at the choice and risk of the reader.


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