Category Archives: Health

‘Tis the Season of Temptation

Celebrate Without Gaining Weight

T’was the month before Christmas and the parties begin; can I eat, drink and be merry, and still remain thin?

When it comes to the Holiday season, party foods and alcohol are symbols of festivity. Holiday celebrations, with the traditional buffet-style parties and hearty servings of eggnog make it difficult for the average health-conscious individual, as the opportunity to eat and drink more than usual is available and enticing.
So how can you maintain good eating habits and still enjoy holiday parties and social gatherings? Here are a few strategies to assist you through this season of temptation.

The party isn’t all day long.

Maybe it is, but more than likely, it will be in the evening. And just because you will be attending a holiday event, doesn’t mean you have to blow the entire day. On the day of the party, pace yourself at breakfast and through lunch with smaller protein based meals, reserving your fat and carb count for later that evening where there will undoubtedly be lots of fats and carbs (and not much protein) to choose from.

Eat before you go.

Eat a small, healthy, high protein meal before you go to the party. This will prevent you from being ravenous when you finally get to the buffet table and you will be less likely to overindulge.


Don’t quit the program just because it’s party time. Sticking with your exercise program will keep you feeling good about taking care of yourself and you will be less inclined to go way overboard when choosing holiday delicacies.

Dress to eat less.

Wear the tight-fitting dress or pair of pants that you look great and feel good about yourself in, AND that doesn’t allow you to eat too much. It’s easier to discourage those visions of sugarplums dancing in your head when you can feel your pants getting tighter.

Make the calories count.

Scout out the spread and choose small, taste size portions of interesting looking dishes you would like to try. Don’t waste calories on familiar foods. Stay away from the cheeses and fattier foods and dips with heavier cream bases, and remember portion control – little nibbles add up to large servings. Vegetables and finger sandwiches filled with meats, like turkey, ham and roast beef make the best choices. Avoid the chicken, egg and tuna salad sandwiches, which are usually made with a lot of mayonnaise, high in fat and calories. Also, ditch the bread and just eat the meat. I’m sure Miss Manners wouldn’t be too appalled at you picking at your food in the name of health, and after all, they are called finger foods.

“Eat and get out!”

The slogan that made a popular restaurant in Chicago famous, is a good rule of thumb at parties. Once you have made your selections, take your plate and leave the table – in fact, leave the room. It’s easy to be tempted when the food is staring you in the face. Stay away from the table and keep busy so you won’t be tempted to eat.

Visit with friends rather than the food.

It seems like tradition to gather around the food table, concentrating on what to try next, rather than truly paying attention to the conversation at hand. Visit with friends, dance or mingle and focus on other things besides the tempting array of food. It’s good to enjoy food, but it’s even nicer to truly enjoy the company of friends and family you haven’t seen in a while.
Drink, drink, drink WATER.

Make sure to drink plenty of water before (and during) the party. This will not only help fill your belly, but hydrate you when you are drinking alcohol.

The burning question of alcohol.

Yes it’s festive, but with little redeeming nutritional value – just lots of empty calories and often hidden fat. An average eight-ounce glass of eggnog with alcohol contains about 490 calories, and more than 20 grams of fat. Daiquiris are loaded with sugar and after-dinner drinks like Irish crème and other cordials contain about 70-125 calories per ounce – which adds up rather quickly. Wines and clear liquors, such as vodka, make better choices. The darker alcohols like whiskey and rum contain more sugars, as do the cheaper, sweeter wines with the twist tops, rather than the corked type. Try using club soda or tonic to mix with your cocktail. Even wines can be diluted with club soda or sparkling water to make a wine spritzer for a refreshing low-calorie change.

Keep it in perspective.

Have a strategy before you leave for the party with a designated number of cocktails that you will drink and an allotted amount of food that you will consume. If you eat more than you had planned at a particular function, that doesn’t mean you’ve blown it for the entire holiday season, try to return to your normal healthy eating habits the next day. Your attitude about what you eat is just as important as the food itself.

Making the effort to watch your calorie intake is the perfect gift to yourself. . . no more need for those nasty New Year’s Resolutions!

When is enough, enough? When Looking Good becomes an Obsession

Too small, too big, too fat, too skinny – so what is just right?  Can we ever be truly satisfied with how we look?

Dissatisfaction with how we look is not unusual in this day and age. With advertising and media pushing appearance at us from all sides, it is quite normal for many of us to think we don’t quite fit the mold of perfection. Appearance can play a big part in life for most people, but never in history have we witnessed so many issues and potentially harmful trends arising out of striving for that perfect body.

It isn’t difficult to recognize that we live in a culture obsessed with “the perfect body.” In fact, this obsession is showing up at younger and younger ages:

  • 42% of 1st-3rd grade girls report wanting to be thinner.
  • In a recent study of 4th graders: almost half the girls “wished they were thinner.”
  • 81% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat.
  • 8th and 9th grade girls have reported that the ideal female is 5 feet 7 inches tall, and weighs between 100 and 110 pounds. It is interesting to note that at this height and weight, most women would be considered clinically anorexic.
  • On any given day, approximately 25% of American men and 45% of American women are on a diet.
  • 40-60% of high school girls are dieting on any given day and over half of eighth grade girls report dieting during the past year.

The diet industry is a $40 billion dollar industry in the United States and growing every day. What is interesting is if diets worked so well, why would we need to keep throwing money away trying new ones? In fact, 95% of all dieters will regain their lost weight, and more, within 1-5 years. This is not a result of failed will power, but damaged metabolisms by trying to force their bodies to attain unrealisitc goals, and probably, unhealthy sizes.

Many people worry about their appearance, especially in their teens and twenties, when physical attractiveness, changing bodies, and social pressures come together to make appearance seem more important than ever. Who wouldn’t want perfectly clear lustrous skin, a beautiful head of richly colored hair, and the perfect physique? The answer for most people is sure, why not? But for some people, normal appearance concerns cross over into preoccupation or even obsession with their appearance. In more severe cases, these concerns seriously interfere with school work and relationships, and can cause significant distress. This relatively common but underrecognized disorder is known as body dysmorphic disorder, or BDD. Because BDD can cause so much suffering and disruption of normal functioning, it’s important to know about it. BDD, which usually begins during adolescence, can cause depression, social isolation, academic impairment, and, in more severe cases, unnecessary cosmetic surgery, psychiatric hospitalization, and even suicide attempts.

When we think of compulsive dieting, and what we might think of as a typical person with body dysmorphic disorder, anorexia and bulemia probably come to mind.  Never would we imagine that the bodybuilder or exercise fanatic, with “perfectly” toned and defined muscles would have an issue with body image.  Yet, for some bodybuilders, their body image is far from perfect. No matter how large they become, they may see themselves as small. What seems to others nothing more than exaggerated physical vanity may be a manifestation of distorted body image, or dysmorphia.  According to several ongoing studies of bodybuilders, it is speculated that as many as 10 percent of bodybuilders or as many as 500,000 to 1 million individuals may suffer from what is being termed muscle dysmorphia or “bigorexia”.

The physical risks of this type of BDD  or muscle dysmorphia are perhaps less life threatening than anorexia or bulemia, but are still quite serious as they are related primarily to substance abuse and secondarily to diet.  Muscle dysmorphia is a disorder defined mainly by obsessive thoughts about body size and shape, compulsive behavior regarding exercise and use of a variety of supplements and steroids in an attempt to bulk up and get lean. Anabolic steroids are the most commonly abused drug by those with the disorder and pose a host of physical and psychiatric risks. Chronic use may increase susceptibility to cardiovascular disease and other medical problems. Other drugs, including stimulants, pituitary, adrenal, and thyroid hormones, laxatives and diuretics may also be used and can pose dangers if used over an extended period of time.  Other health problems may also show up in the form of overtraining or continuing to exercise with injuries, often using analgesics to mask the pain.

Muscle dysmorphia may cause social problems, with going to the gym  as their exclusive social activity.  They may exercise to the exclusion of dating and sex, and may even alter their careers to spend more time at the gym.

For many people who have the disorder, they see their behavior as normal and are comfortable with their symptoms. Although it many seem that BDD and their variants are trivial illnesses, they’re not. People can have their lives totally consumed by this disorder which can cause substantial impairment in social and occupational functioning, as well as increased risk of death or suicide.

The criteria for muscle dysmorphia, as a recently identified variant of body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), are as follows.

  • The person has a preoccupation with the idea that his/her body is not sufficiently lean and muscular. Associated behaviors include hours of weight lifting and excessive attention to diet.
  • The preoccupation causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning. Individuals often forgo dating and recreational activities, or slack at work to maintain workout and diet schedules. They may also avoid situations where their body is exposed to others or exhibit great anxiety when they are in such situations. They may continue working out, adhering to a strict diet, or using performance-enhancing drugs even when suffering adverse physical and psychological side effects of their regimen.
  • The main focus of their preoccupation and behavior is on being too small or inadequately muscular, as distinguished from fear of fat or other aspects of appearance typical of other forms of BDD.

It is important to remember that BDD is not a rare disorder, only an underrecognized one. Diagnosing BDD can be challenging because sufferers often keep their symptoms secret due to embarrassment and shame. People with BDD often worry that other will consider their concerns superficial and vain, thereby making themselves feel worse for having the symptoms of this disorder. Others may see the BDD sufferer’s concerns as attention getting and will become irritated with them. In addition to being underdiagnosed, BDD can be misdiagnosed by professionals, partially because it is not yet widely recognized and also because BDD sufferers are often reluctant to discuss their symptoms. But BDD of any kind is nothing to be ashamed of and nothing to keep secret – it is a serious yet very treatable disorder.

It’s critical for people today to be educated, empowered, and inspired to create a change in the unattainable standard of beauty and the ideal body in our society. We must work to create a world where self-worth is based upon the qualities of one’s character, the strength of one’s convictions, the impact of a person’s accomplishments, and the power of one’s voice rather than by their weight on a scale or the size of their jeans.

Time to Detox: A Three Day Juice Fast to Jump Start Your Health

The Holidays are over and the lure of parties and King’s cakes are but fond memories with only the lingering inches around our waists to remind of the months of festivities in which we partook.  For many, this is a time of finally getting around to (or back to) those New Years resolutions.  Not only is this a good time to evaluate the lifestyle changes you might want to make, but perhaps a good time to get you body off to a fresh start.  A good way to do this is with a purification or detoxification fast. Over time, toxins build up in the body as the result of the pollutants in the air we breathe, the chemicals in the food and water we consume, or even in the medications we take. Fasting is a safe and effective method of helping the body detoxify itself with greater speed and few symptoms. In fact, fasting is recommended for many illnesses, such as colon disorders, allergies, and respiratory diseases. By relieving the body of the work of digesting foods, fasting permits the system to rid itself of toxins while facilitating healing.

Fasting is one of the oldest therapies in medicine and has been used for thousands of years. Many great doctors of ancient times believed fasting to be an integral part of healing and prevention. Hippocrates, the father of Western medicine, believed fasting enabled the body to heal itself. Ayurvedic medicine, the world’s oldest healing system, has long advocated fasting as a major treatment for illness.

Fasting has also been used in nearly every religion in the world, including Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, and Islam. Many of history’s great spiritual leaders fasted for mental and spiritual clarity, including Jesus, Buddha, and Mohammed. In one of the famous political acts of the last century, the Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi fasted for 21 days to promote peace.

Fasting has been used as a medical treatment in Europe for years. Many spas and treatment centers, particularly those in Germany, Sweden, and Russia, use medically supervised fasting for numerous conditions. Fasting has gained popularity in American alternative medicine over the past several decades, and many doctors are finding it beneficial.

Fasting is a central therapy in detoxification, a healing method founded on the principle that the build up of toxic substances in the body is responsible for many illnesses and conditions.

How Fasting Works

The principle of fasting is simple. When the intake of food is temporarily stopped, many systems of the body are given a break from the hard work of digestion. The extra energy gives the body a chance to heal and restore itself, burning stored calories to rid stored toxic substances. During fasting, the liver and immune system are essentially freed to detoxify and heal other parts of the body.  Many healers claim that fasting is a particularly useful therapy for the American lifestyle, of heavy diet, overeating, and constant exposure to food additives and chemicals. Some alternative practitioners have gone so far as to estimate that the average American is carrying 5-10 pounds of toxic substances in their bodies, for which fasting is the quickest and most effective means of removal.

Fasting for Prevention and General Health

Fasts can be performed for varying lengths of time, depending on a person’s particular health requirements. Fasts from one day for prevention to seven-days for healing, are commonly performed. Therapists may even recommend fasts from two to four weeks for specific or chronic health conditions. The most popular fasting program, however, for prevention and general health, is a three-day juice fast. The advantages of a juice fast are that they are less intensive than water fasts, and fruit and vegetable drinks can supply beneficial nutrients and energy. A live-juice fast both removes toxins and promotes healing by supplying the body with vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. Such a fast is also more likely to lead to a continued healthy diet once the fast is over, as it will accustom you to the taste of raw vegetables and the vitality that this diet promotes. It is easy to fit a few days of juice fasting into a normal schedule or over a long weekend without much disruption to regular activities or significant drops in energy.

The Three Day Detox

Be prepared. Fasts must be entered into with care. Eat only raw vegetables and fruits for two days. This will make the fast less of a shock to your system.

While on the fast, consume at least eight 8-ounce glasses of distilled water per day, plus fresh juices and up to two cups of herbal tea a day.

Do not drink orange or tomato juice, and avoid all juices made with sweeteners or other additives. You may dilute juices with the water, adding about one part water to three parts juice.

As a general rule, you should not combine fruit and vegetable juices. Apples are the only fruit that should be added to vegetable juices.

One of the best juices to use during your fast is fresh lemon juice. Add the juice of one lemon to a cup of warm water. Fresh apple, beet, cabbage, carrot, celery, and grape juices are also good, as are “green drinks,” which are made from green leafy vegetables. These green drinks are excellent detoxifiers. You can also use Udo’s Flor Essence which is good for detoxifying and comes in liquid or tea bags.

Herbal teas may be consumed throughout the fast, once or twice per day or more if you wish. A tea of alfalfa, burdock, chamomile, dandelion, milk thistle, red clover, and rose hips will rejuvenate the liver and cleanse the bloodstream. Do not use chamomile on an ongoing basis, as ragweed allergy may result. Avoid it completely if you are allergic to ragweed.

Two parts echinacea and pau d’arco tea mixed with one part unsweetened cranberry juice, four times a day, will rebuild the immune system, aid in bladder function, and rid the colon of unwanted bacteria. Do not use echinacea if you have any kind of autoimmune disorder.

Peppermint tea is good for its calming and strengthening effect on the nerves, and for indigestion, nausea, and flatulence.

Slippery elm tea is useful for inflammation of the colon and is also beneficial when used as an enema solution.

Take two enteric coated, odor controlled garlic caps twice per day. Garlinase 4000 or Allicin 5000 by Enzymatic Therapy is a good choice.  It contains the highest standardization for allicin and will digest in the small intestine and will not leave a lingering odor. Garlic supplements may be taken on a daily basis before, during, and after a fast to promote overall health, build immune function, aid in the healing process, and rid the colon of may types of parasites.

Take a fiber supplement on a daily basis before and after your fast to promote cleansing of the colon, but NOT DURING the fast. Psyllium is an excellent source of fiber as is apple pectin and oat bran. Try to avoid supplements containing wheat bran, as they may be irritating to the colon wall. Also, make sure to drinks plenty of water with your daily fiber, as fibers such as psyllium can hold as much as 500 times their weight in water.

Take spirulina during your fast. Spirulina is high in protein and contains a wide range of vitamins and minerals, plus chlorophyll for cleansing. If you are using tablets, take 5 tablets three times a day. If you are using powder, take one teaspoon three times daily, mixing the powder with a cup of unsweetened juice. You may also use an organic green foods blend before, during, and after your fast. These products contain all the nutrients needed to aid in the healing process.

If used during the fast, these products may replace a cup of the “green drink.”

If you have hypoglycemia, never fast without also using a protein supplement.

Do not chew gum while on the fast. The digestive process starts when chewing prompts the body to secrete enzymes into the gastrointestinal tract. If there is no food in the stomach for the enzymes to digest, troubles may occur.

Fasts should be ended as gradually as they are entered, going from lighter to heavier foods progressively. Follow the juice-water-and-tea fast with a two-day diet of raw fruits and vegetables. The desired effects of the fast can be ruined by eating cooked foods immediately afterward. Since both the size of the stomach and the amount of secreted digestive juices may decrease during fasting, the first meals after a fast should be frequent and small and should emphasize fresh, wholesome foods.


Fasting isn’t appropriate for everyone and, in some cases, could be harmful. Any fast for more than three days, should only be done under the supervision of a qualified health care professional.

If you have diabetes, hypoglycemia, or another chronic health problem, even short fasts should be supervised by a doctor or alternative medicine practitioner, such as a homeopath or naturopathic or ayurvedic doctor. Pregnant and lactating women should never fast.

Plenty of water should be consumed during a fast since dehydration can occur.

Saunas and sweating therapies are sometimes recommended to assist detoxification, but should be used sparingly.

Those fasting should significantly slow down their lifestyles. Taking time off of work, or at least reducing the workload is helpful and getting plenty of rest is a must. Exercise should be kept light, such as walking and gentle stretching.

Side Effects

During a fast you may experience side effects of fatigue, aches and pains, emotional duress, acne, headaches, allergies, swelling, vomiting, bad breath, and even cold and flu-like symptoms. These reactions are sometimes called healing crises, which are caused by temporarily increased levels of toxins in the body due to elimination and cleansing. These symptoms are not serious and will quickly pass. To alleviate any of these symptoms, a daily lemon juice enema may be used cleanse the colon, and daily coffee enema to rid the liver of impurities.

Studies from around the world have shown the beneficial results of fasting as a treatment for illness and disease. The physiology of fasting has been widely studied and documented by medical science with beneficial effects such as lowered cholesterol and improved general functioning being shown. A few years ago, fasting was even featured on the cover of the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine. Although mainstream medicine has generally ignored fasting and detoxification for treatment as valid medical procedures, in the alternative medical community, fasting is an essential and widely accepted treatment for many illnesses and chronic conditions.

Check out my Detox and Cleanse for Weight Loss and Wellness Program.

The End of an Era: Rethinking Menopause and Hormone Replacement Therapy

In light of the recent findings on Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) many women find themselves with a big question about taking a little pill.

A large, federally funded clinical trial, part of a group of studies called the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI), has definitively shown for the first time that the hormones in question – estrogen and progestin – are not the age-defying wonder drugs everyone thought they were. As if that weren’t bad enough, the results proved that taking these hormones together for more than a few years actually increases a woman’s risk of developing potentially deadly cardiovascular problems and invasive breast cancer, among other things. The principal message was taking estrogen and progestin for years in the hope of preventing a heart attack or stroke can no longer be considered a valid medical strategy.

Here at last was a rare moment of clarity. The debate over the long-term benefits and risks of HRT has lasted for decades. Now we have at least a few concrete answers. This wasn’t just another isolated study contradicting the last one to make headlines. Federal health officials announced that the jury was finally in-and that the drug Prempro (a combination of estrogen and progestin) does significantly more harm than good when taken for long periods of time. Women have been told for decades that estrogen taken with progestin would not only ease hot flashes and insomnia but help preserve bone strength, mental acuity and, most important, heart health. There’s no question that HRT can ease the acute symptoms of menopause, and the claim about bone strength has held up to scrutiny. But after observing more than 16,000 women for roughly five years, researchers found conclusively that the hormones in Prempro raise the risk of heart attack, stroke, blood clots and breast cancer. The federally sponsored study was supposed to run for eight years, but the five-year results were so decisive that researchers cut it short and urged the participants to stop taking their pills.

The findings are so striking that the study was stopped three years short of its scheduled completion.  With more than an estimated 13.5 million U.S. Women using hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to treat symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes and vaginal dryness, and to protect against bone-thinning osteoporosis, it’s no wonder the news caused such gasps and the talk hasn’t stopped since. Women across the U.S. immediately called their doctors, mothers, daughters, and friends, questioning whether they should still be taking their pills and what, if any, are their alternatives?

Why HRT in the first place?

For decades, millions of women have been told that HRT is a veritable fountain of youth. More than 40% of all women in the U.S. start some form of HRT in their menopause years. Although it is estimated 50% of the women on HRT discontinue it within the first year, many continue it well into their 70s and 80s, convinced that the little pills will stave off aging and a host of other health concerns.

Once upon a time the concept of menopause and its symptoms were almost unheard of because the vast majority of women rarely lived long enough to experience them.  And, for the women who did survive, menopause was seen as a marker for imminent and inevitable physical decline.  Until the early 1900’s that is, when it was first discovered that extracts from pigs’ ovaries could “put off old age for a score of years,” or at least “mitigate its effects when it has asserted itself with all its terrors.” By the early 1940s, drug makers were mass-producing estrogen from pregnant mares’ urine (hence the brand name Premarin). And by 1960 the New England Journal of Medicine was commending the drug for “everyone with evidence of an estrogen lack”- which is to say virtually every woman over 50.

Over the years the medical arguments for prescribing estrogen may have changed, but the idea that a single pill might turn back the clock still holds promise to many.  Last year U.S. pharmacists filled some 45 million prescriptions for Premarin and an additional 22 million for Prempro, which consists of the same drug with added progestin.

Menopause is not a disease – why do we treat it as one?
Perhaps the real question we need to answer is – is it time to stop treating menopause as a disease, and to look at it as a natural, normal, physiological process. The idea that our bodies fail us at menopause is ludicrous, sexist and just plain wrong.  And yes, for many there are undeniable unpleasant symptoms that go along with it.  But wouldn’t it be more appropriate to treat those symptoms, perhaps even naturally, rather than treat menopause as a medical condition requiring pharmaceuticals?

What are the alternatives?

For millions of women, the question of whether to take hormone replacement therapy after menopause just got more confusing. And the thought of quitting HRT if it has successfully mitigated symptoms can be a scary thought. If you’re using HRT in hopes it will protect your heart, prevent osteoporosis or relieve symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, memory loss, vaginal dryness and declining libido, you will be happy to know that many women have found tremendous success in a more holistic approach of herbs and nutritional supplements, whole foods – particularly soy, and exercise.

Herbs -Vitamins

Long before Premarin, women sought relief through herbal remedies. A basic regimen of vitamins, minerals and a few herbs work very well to relieve the symptoms of menopause.  Every woman has different needs, but basically a program that includes calcium, magnesium, black cohosh, vitex (chaste berry) dong qui and sometimes low-dose DHEA and perhaps St. John’s wort work very well in controlling the symptoms of menopause.
Dong quai, an adoptogenic, balances hormones.  Vitex or Chaste Berry has been used for decades to regulate estrogen and progesterone production by working through the pituitary gland.  Black cohosh has been the menopausal “tonic” of Native Americans throughout history.  Studies have shown, black cohosh extract, to provide as much symptomatic relief as Premarin. DHEA can help with decreased libido and overall declining energy levels and St. John’s wort can help combat depression and mood swings.

Building Bone/Preventing Osteoporosis

In dealing with supplementation for women at any age, preserving and building bone density should always be considered. Unfortunately, only about 11% of women get adequate calcium everyday. Studies have clearly shown the importance of Calcium in building and preserving bone. Magnesium deficiency is as much a problem in bone health as inadequate calcium.  Again, more than 80% of American women are magnesium deficient, and because calcium and magnesium work in balance with each other, it is important to supplement these together.  Supplemental Vitamin D is necessary for the proper absorption of calcium, and Boron has also been shown to have bone-building properties.

Numerous studies have also shown ipriflavone to be particularly useful in the treatment of low bone density and osteoperosis.  Ipriflavone, a derivative of the soy isoflavone diadzein not only prevents a type of bone cell called osteoclasts from breaking down bone, but also stimulates other bone cells, osteoblasts, to build new bone. Ostevone, the branded Ipriflavone I recommend, has been chemically shown to rival their not so healthful pharmaceutical counterparts, and without the devastating side effects.

Foods and Phytonutrients

Perhaps not as easy as swallowing a pill, eating a healthier diet can significantly ease the transition through menopause, as well as provide additional benefits in treating or preventing other illnesses.

Current research points to the role of phytoestrogens (phyto  means plant), natural plant hormones that provide a mild estrogenic activity in the body. By incorporating foods high in these into your diet, not only do you ease symptoms of menopause, they also provide the added benefits of reducing your risk of heart disease – still the leading cause of death for older women.


When it comes to easing menopause symptoms, soy seems nothing less than a wonder food.  A number of recent studies have found soy foods to reduce these symptoms due to the powerful phytoestrogens called isoflavones that they contain. Soy is what is known as an “adaptogenic” – the phytoestrogens genistein and diadzein in soy can have an estrogen like effect if your estrogen levels are low, and will actually bind to estrogen receptor sites and block estrogen if levels are too high.  For this reason, soy is a great natural way to balance hormone levels and can be used as a safe alternative to hormone replacement therapy, offering most of the benefits, without the risks or side effects. Other studies have also suggested that these same isoflavones can increase bone mass and reduce cholesterol levels – two other main concerns for menopausal women. Functional soy beverages like OptiPRO S have been specifically formulated with high standardized levels of isoflavones, calcium, magnesium, boron, selenium and specialized enzymes to provide one of the simplest, easiest ways to mitigate symptoms, while protecting cardiovascular health, bone density, lower cancer risk, and manage weight.

Fruits, Vegetables and Whole Grains – It’s important to make sure your diet includes plenty of phytonutrient rich foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains.  Phytoestrogens can be found in apples, carrots, plums, peas, green beans, barley, oats and rye.

Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli contain the powerful phyochemical indole-3-carbinol, shown to convert powerful estrogens in the body to weaker, less carcinogenic ones.  Citrus fruits and other foods high in biflavonoids, such as blueberries, cherries and grapes are also particularly beneficial.

Biflavonoids not only strengthen the circulatory system, which is helpful in treating hot flashes, menstrual flow and varicose veins, but they are also powerful anti-oxidants useful in the prevention of cancer.

Flax seed is one of the richest sources of Omega-3 essential fatty acids as well as one of the best sources of a form of phytoestrogen called lignans.

Lignans have been shown to reduce hot flashes and are beneficial in the prevention and treatment of breast and colon cancer, lowering cholesterol levels and promoting breast and vaginal health.


There’s no better natural way to treat both the physical, as well as the emotional, symptoms of menopause than with exercise.  Exercise relieves stress, which is known to exacerbate symptoms, not to mention improves mood, builds strength, helps control weight, and increases bone density.

In light of the recent findings, some physicians will change their thinking dramatically; others will not change at all and will be as proactive for HRT as they’ve ever been.  One thing is for sure, however, it’s time for women to take responsibility for their own bodies and how to best protect themselves from osteoporosis and other ravages of age without resorting to old-fashioned hormones.  The world of menopause management is in for some big changes, and the age of estrogen, without question, is over.

Restoring Digestive Function

More than 60 million Americans experience acid indigestion, or heartburn, and spend literally billions of dollars on pharmaceuticals in an attempt to ease their burning pain.

Over 8 billion dollars is spent annually on drugs to relieve indigestion, with additional billions spent annually advertising those drugs.  In fact, in 1999, Prilosec, a powerful acid suppressing drug, surpassed Prozac and Premarin as the top selling prescription medication in the United States.

Clearly America is experiencing an epidemic of gastrointestinal disorders.

So why does it seem necessary to spend billions of dollars taking countless medications to coax our gastrointestinal system into doing what it’s supposed to do.  Digestion is a complex process that is both mechanical and chemical.  It involves and relies upon the proper functioning of the mechanical processes of grinding, churning, pumping, squeezing, valves and gates opening and closing, as well as the chemical processes of the secretion of enzymes and the breakdown of nutrients to be absorbed and utilized. When any part of this process malfunctions, indigestion of some sort may occur.  Factors such as the foods we eat, how much we eat, drinking too much with our meals and smoking all can contribute to the disruption of proper digestion.

Indigestion refers to any number of gastrointestinal complaints, which can include anything from gas, belching, bloating, and flatulence, to heartburn, which is the pain caused by the backing up of hydrochloric acid from the stomach into the esophagus, the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach.  The hydrochloric acid in stomach fluid helps to breakdown and digest the food we eat as well as prevent the growth of bacteria in our stomach and intestines. Hydrochloric acid is very strong and corrosive, and while the stomach has a special lining to protect it, the esophagus does not. When this potent stomach acid accidentally backs up into the esophagus, the result is burning pain.

This accidental backing up of hydrochloric acid into the esophagus is caused when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), the muscle at the end of the esophagus, doesn’t function properly.  The LES is the stomach’s gatekeeper and uses pressure to open and close.  When food travels from the mouth down through the esophagus the LES opens allowing food to enter the stomach then closes keeping it from going back up the esophagus.  When the LES opens at the wrong time hydrochloric acid and other stomach fluids back up into the esophagus.  The result — heartburn.  Persistent heartburn may be a more serious problem known as GERD or gastro esophageal reflux disease which can, over time, erode the delicate lining of the esophagus and increase the risk of developing esophageal cancer as well as cancer of the larynx and throat.

So how do we eliminate these worrisome and potentially hazardous digestive disorders and live symptom free without harsh drugs or extraordinary medical intervention?  Simple changes in habits and diet, such as making better food choices, considering portion size, quitting smoking and limiting coffee and alcohol can have a profound effect on relieving simple digestive disorders.  And while taking antacids and heartburn medications may seem easier and provide temporary relief, they do not cure the problem and come with many severe side effects. Inhibiting or shutting down the production of hydrochloric acid can actually cause serious long-term problems such as interference with the absorption of important nutrients, such as calcium, increased vulnerability to bacteria in the stomach and food poisoning, and even acid rebound, where the stomach tries to produce even more acid to do its job.  Too little stomach acid actually creates an environment where food cannot be completely digested, and further down the digestive tract, cause symptoms such as gas, belching and bloating, which in turn brings on the repeated use of antacids thus the cycle of antacid addiction.

What we choose to eat can play the most fundamental role in breaking this cycle and restoring digestive health. A balanced diet, complete with essential vitamins, minerals and fatty acids is critical not only to digestive health, but processes and functions in our bodies, as well as our overall vitality and sense of well being.  A simple approach to a balanced diet is choosing foods proportionately from three categories of foods – Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary.  The Primary group is the one that comprises the majority of your dietary choices.  These are whole grain foods and proteins. The best choice of proteins are from lean animal sources, soy protein foods, such as tofu, tempeh, soy burgers and dogs and the growing number of tasty soy food products on the market today, as well as beans, but to a much lesser extent. Next, are the Secondary foods, which consists of seasonal fresh vegetables.  Finally, there are the tertiary foods, such as dairy, eggs, and fruits, as well as unsaturated fats.  Unfortunately, the typical American diet bears little resemblance to such balanced nutrition, with over processed, over refined carbohydrates, consisting of little more than sugar, completely lacking in fiber and important minerals, and saturated, or worse trans-saturated fats, occupying staple positions.  And, the availability of these nutritionally empty and potentially harmful foods is far more abundant than their healthful counter parts. This, coupled with the lack of critical nutrients without supplementation, contributes significantly to America’s disordered digestive situation.

Not only what we eat, but how we eat it plays a role in relieving indigestion. Portion control is also important, as large portions of any foods can overfill the stomach and force stomach acid past the LES, causing heartburn.

Even something as simple as practicing the lost art of chewing is an important first step on the road to recovering digestive health.  By skimping on this first, most important step in digestion, we fail to adequately start the digestive process not only mechanically by the lack of grinding our food, but chemically by limiting the exposure of our food to the digestive enzyme amylase which is contained in saliva.  By the time our food hits our stomach it then requires additional digestive enzymes to further break it down.  This, combined with the fact that as we age the amount of digestive enzymes we produce decreases, creates a prime environment for indigestion.  Supplementing with digestive enzymes can significantly improve the breakdown and absorption of our foods and nutrients. Look for full spectrum vegetarian enzyme, such as in nZymax, which works in all Ph ranges to break down all food groups – proteins, carbohydrates, fats, dairy, and even fibrous vegetables, seeds, sprouts, and beans. The mere addition of a digestive enzyme such as this often eliminates many digestive disorders.

Herbs are also a useful way to supplement our diet, providing not only important and often deficient nutrients, but also improved assimilation of those vital nutrients.  One simple (and tasty) method of doing this is by way of common kitchen spices and culinary herbs.  Most herbal spices are carminatives, herbs that stimulate and aid in the digestive process and subsequently relieve gas and bloating.  Basil, ginger, bay, garlic, dill, oregano, sage, thyme, cloves, cumin, fennel, cardamom and caraway are all tasty spices that can help with digestion.  Parsley, dandelion, alfalfa, yellow dock and seaweeds are all important for adding important vitamins and nutrients to your foods.

While cooking with herbs provides an easy means of including these digestive and nutritive aids to your diet, additional herbal support may be necessary to repair or restore digestive function.  There are numerous useful herbs for digestion.  Papaya, ginger root, peppermint, fennel seed, goldenseal, licorice, and gentian are but a few.  These are often commercially packaged as single herbs or herbal formulas, sold as either capsules or tinctures.  While this is certainly the mostconvenient method of supplementation, it can be the most disappointing.  It is important to understand that many companies package herbal products with little to none of their active ingredients present in them, and frequently the dosage is significantly less than an efficacious amount.  Where and from whom your purchase your herbs is also of utmost concern.  Whether commercially prepared or in bulk, the standardization is important if you expect results. Combining several of these herbs, such as peppermint and papaya leaves with ginger root, catnip, fennel seed and saw palmetto berries in some type of infusion device to make an herbal tea is fairly simple and proves quite beneficial as a digestive aid when sipped prior to and after a meal.

Additionally, FOS (fructooligosaccharides), and acidophilus may prove beneficial to improving digestion.  Including cultured friendly flora containing foods, such as yogurt or kefir have also been helpful in improving digestive function.  Compounds like DGL, the deglycyrrhized form of licorice, and d-limonene, from orange peel extract, can actually repair damage causes by chronic digestive disorders and help you maintain a symptom free lifestyle.

By incorporating these herbal, supplemental and nutritional therapies in our fight against heartburn and indigestion, we are providing our bodies the best treatment possible – one that restores the body to its normal function, rather than one that interferes with it.