Category Archives: Women’s health
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, commonly called PCOS, is a hormonal condition affecting up to 10% of women. While PCOS is a hormonal disorder of the reproductive system, and its direct causes are still unknown, there are some exciting new discoveries when it comes to PCOS and its connection to insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and chronic, low-grade inflammation. Addressing these possible root causes of PCOS could be a game changer in your holistic approach to Polycystic Ovary Syndrome prevention and treatment. Curious? Read more about a holistic approach to PCOS below.
What is PCOS?
PCOS is a common hormonal condition affecting the ovaries and reproductive system. Symptoms of PCOS include ovarian cysts (as the name, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, suggests) but note that you can still have PCOS even if you have no cysts on your ovaries.
Other symptoms of PCOS are menstrual irregularities – namely infrequent cycles, less than nine menstrual periods per year (or more than 35 days in-between periods), and heavy bleeding. Substantial weight gain, along with marked difficulty losing weight no matter what you do, is another hallmark of PCOS, as is excess facial and body hair (hirsutism). PCOS can disrupt women’s lives and carries myriad possible complications such as infertility, type 2 diabetes, and mood disorders like depression and anxiety.
So how can you holistically prevent and address PCOS? Your best game plan is to look at root causes. Below, we’re looking at three main root causes behind PCOS, along with preventative nutrition tips, supplement essentials, and lifestyle habits you can adopt today to prevent and address PCOS.
PCOS and insulin resistance
There’s a strong link between Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and insulin resistance, which affects as many as 65-70% of women with PCOS. Insulin is the pancreas-made hormone that enables your cells to use sugar (glucose) as energy for the body. If your cells become insulin resistant, your blood sugar levels will spike, causing your body to produce even more insulin. Excess insulin is linked with androgen production and the type of ovulatory dysfunction so common in PCOS.
Tips to reverse insulin resistance include healthier lifestyle habits, the right amount and kind of exercise, smart dieting, and wholesome weight loss. Food-wise, you can help lower your risk of insulin resistance by cutting back on starches and sugars, and replacing them with high-fiber, low-glycemic foods. Exercise is an essential part of insulin resistance and PCOS prevention, but don’t go overboard, either! Over-exercising puts stress on the adrenals and might contribute to hormonal imbalances. When in doubt, go for something mild like walking or yoga.
Supplement with Blood Sugar Support, a comprehensive formula of alpha-lipoic acid, cinnamon, chromium, and other blood glucose balancing ingredients to lower your risk of insulin resistance and PCOS.
PCOS and metabolic syndrome
PCOS has a strong association with metabolic syndrome. Hear this: women with PCOS are up to 11 times more likely to suffer from metabolic syndrome than those without PCOS! Being overweight is a risk factor for metabolic syndrome, as is lack of exercise. Metabolic syndrome increases incidence of cardiovascular disease and atherosclerosis, makes you more prone to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, and ups risk of endometrial cancer.
Here’s the great news: metabolic syndrome responds really well to lifestyle changes. In other words, upgrade your health habits to massively lower your risk. Cut the junk food and eat healthy (ensure all your nutritional needs are met by relying on a quality daily multi-vitamin). Choose organic and keep processed foods to a minimum. Follow an exercise program and shed the extra weight. Boost your nutritious diet and regular exercise plan with Slim-Pro, a natural formula to enhance blood sugar levels and help you achieve your weight loss goals while lowering risk of metabolic syndrome and PCOS.
PCOS and inflammation
Chronic low-grade inflammation is a key contributor to PCOS, with elevated inflammatory markers regardless of excess weight. Inflammation can encourage higher androgen production as well as insulin resistance, leading to weight gain and disrupting the balance of sex hormones responsible for regulating the menstrual cycle. What’s more, this type of inflammation is also a feature of conditions like metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, which are closely linked with PCOS.
Gut health is a big player when it comes to the prevention of chronic, low-grade inflammation. So load up on whole plant foods (like anti-inflammatory dark leafy greens), fermented veggies, and cultured tonics like kefir and kombucha. Medicinal herbs like slippery elm and marshmallow root help relieve inflammation along the digestive tract and support gut health.
Anti-inflammatory powerhouse herbs like turmeric (and one of its active compounds, curcumin) are must-have allies for fighting inflammation daily, along with holistic habits like learning to manage stress better and making enough time in your life for rest and play.
As a woman, are you committed to living a heart-healthy lifestyle? While we might think of older men when we hear “heart problems”, research tells us it’s time for women to look after their hearts, too.
According to the Heart Research Institute, heart disease is the number one cause of death in Canada for women over 55. What’s more, Canadian women are 16% more likely than men to die from the result of a heart attack. One of our current problems when it comes to women’s heart health is that, according to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, 2/3 of heart disease clinical research focuses on men.
So what does that mean for you?
It means that, until more women-centered clinical research is completed, it’s essential that you educate yourself on natural, safe ways to care for your cardiovascular system and live heart-healthy every day. This includes keeping track of your cholesterol levels. Read on for what you need to know, plus our tips and recommendations to get you started.
Women, cholesterol, and heart disease
Heart disease is a women’s issue. Some research estimates that heart attacks are more deadly for women in part because our hearts are affected by the hormonal changes of the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and menopause. Physiological differences also exist. For instance, women’s hearts and coronary arteries are smaller than men’s, with faster resting heart rate.
While there are many risk factors involved in heart disease in women, like high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, and obesity, cholesterol is a factor you need to monitor for heart health – especially once you reach menopause. That’s because, according to the NIH’s National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, high blood cholesterol levels raise the risk for heart disease, and menopausal women are at increased risk of high cholesterol due to the drop in estrogen production that happens at menopause.
Higher estrogen levels are associated with a rise in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, which offers protection against heart disease, along with a decline in total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels, and triglycerides. (Confused about cholesterol types and what they really mean? We’re got you covered below, so read on!). To nurture heart health before, during, and after menopause, you want to keep your cholesterol levels within a healthy range.
Your cholesterol primer
Let’s dig into what cholesterol is, and more importantly, how it might affect women’s health. So what is cholesterol, anyway?
Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in every cell in the body. It’s both made by the body and absorbed from food. Cholesterol is essential because your body needs it to make important steroid hormones like estrogen, progesterone, and vitamin D. What’s more, the brain needs cholesterol and without enough of it, you might be at increased risk for depression, which is an independent risk factor for heart disease. Cholesterol is also used to make bile acids in the liver. In other words, cholesterol isn’t inherently bad.
But here’s the thing: excess cholesterol in the bloodstream can clog the arteries. These deposits (known as plaques) can result in atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries – which is a major cause of heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems.
Your total cholesterol level is a measure of the amount of cholesterol circulating in your bloodstream, which is divided in two major cholesterol types along with triglycerides:
LDL cholesterol: LDL or low-density lipoprotein. This is known as the “bad” cholesterol, which contributes to plaque buildup in the arteries as it undergoes free-radical damage. LDL rises after menopause in many women.
HDL cholesterol: HDL or high-density lipoprotein. It has been called “good” cholesterol because research suggests it helps the body dispose of LDL cholesterol. Low HDL cholesterol might be a more important heart disease risk factor for women than for men. What’s more, low HDL in women is one of the first measure of insulin resistance (another risk factor for heart disease).
Triglycerides: Triglycerides are the most common form of fat in the body. High levels of triglycerides could be a greater risk factor for heart disease in women compared with men. High triglycerides might be caused by conditions like hypothyroidism and PCOS and are associated with excess abdominal fat and high blood sugar, because the liver stores excess glucose as triglycerides.
Women-specific tips for healthy cholesterol levels and heart health
A heart-healthy lifestyle can go a long way toward keeping cholesterol levels in check and preventing heart disease in women. Work with an integrative doctor to track your cholesterol levels and make appropriate changes to your diet and lifestyle if your total cholesterol levels are high, if HDL levels are low, or LDL levels are elevated. Diet-wise, choose healthy fats and lower cholesterol intake from foods by opting for plant-based swaps whenever possible. If you’re overweight, do your best to shed the extra pounds.
Try nutritional supplements like Healthy Heart. Talk with other women and let your emotions flow freely – all of these are pathways to a healthy heart.
For many women, turning fifty is a milestone. It might be a time of transformation: from children leaving the family home to career shifts, or finding a new approach to your health and well-being.
You might notice that your body changes when you hit fifty. Staying up late and traveling, for example, might affect you differently than they used to. But your fifties and beyond can be a time of vibrant health and fulfillment.
Read on to learn about the main health concerns for women over fifty, plus which natural supplements should be on your radar.
What are the main health concerns for women over 50?
For women over fifty, one of the main health concerns is the transition of menopause. Altered hormone levels that come from the end of the reproductive years can cause unpleasant symptoms like hot flashes, mood swings, fatigue, and lower libido. Other health concerns as you move into this decade include heart disease and bone density. Finally, to enjoy your fifties and beyond, you want to support brain health and keep your mind sharp.
Here’s the great news: you can reclaim your health and enjoy yourself in the process. How? Address your health concerns with the right natural supplements.
Top 5 natural supplements for women over 50
Herbs for hormone balance
Medicinal herbs are widely used to support hormonal health during menopause. Herbal allies for women over fifty include black cohosh, chasteberry, dong quai, maca, and sage.
Black cohosh binds to estrogen receptors and works by affecting the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin. Preparations of black cohosh root have been shown to reduce hot flashes and night sweats, along with improving mood.
Chasteberry (also known as chastetree or Vitex) shifts hormone production toward more progesterone and less estrogen through its effect on the hypothalamus-pituitary axis. Several studies showed chasteberry to be effective in reducing breast pain and other PMS symptoms.
Dong quai is a staple of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and has been called female ginseng for its energy and mood boosting properties. Dong quai is recommended for irregular bleeding.
Maca, a Peruvian adaptogen, benefits the endocrine and reproductive systems. Preparations made from maca root boost the production of sex hormones and increase energy and sex drive. In studies, maca supplementation was associated with a substantial reduction of menopausal discomfort in early postmenopausal women.
Finally, sage is used to alleviate hot flashes, sweating, and other menopausal symptoms as a general tonic. A clinical trial showed the efficacy of sage over a two-month treatment period.
Find these herbs as dietary supplements in such forms as a powdered whole herb, liquid extracts, and dried extracts in pill form, or a convenient all-in-one herbal blend like Meno-Prev.
Vitamins & minerals
Sufficient intake of certain vitamins and minerals is essential for thriving in your fifties and beyond. You’ll want to supplement your diet with the following: calcium and magnesium, along with vitamin D and K.
Calcium supplements help make up for lowered assimilation from food sources as you age. Calcium is needed by every cell in your body and is especially important for women over fifty to prevent bone loss and osteoporosis risk.
Working in synergy with calcium, magnesium helps promote cardiovascular health and normal blood pressure (not to mention its sweet stress-busting properties).
Fat-soluble vitamins D and K play a crucial role in calcium metabolism. Controlled trials have shown the benefits of vitamins D and K on postmenopausal osteoporosis with a study duration between 8 weeks and 3 years. Try a formula like Osteo Prolong to fill your nutritional needs.
Fiber is one of the top supplements for women over fifty, thanks to its massive amount of health benefits. Think enhanced blood sugar balance, lower cholesterol, improved cardiovascular health, weight loss, and better gut health from curbing symptoms of constipation, diarrhea, and IBS. What’s more, fiber helps regulate hormone levels during menopause. Look for a dietary fiber supplement that contains both soluble and insoluble fiber for best results.
Women over fifty become more prone to chronic, low-grade systemic inflammation. To stay healthy throughout your fifties and beyond, fighting inflammation is your go-to action plan. Try turmeric, or better yet, highly bio-available Curcumin. Curcuminoids in turmeric slow the enzymes that cause inflammation, so you can count on the time-tested Ayurvedic remedy to keep you feeling healthy.
Keep your mind sharp and curb depression and memory loss with natural supplements like gingko biloba. Clinical trials have shown the beneficial effects of gingko biloba on cognitive function (especially concentration and memory). Try the Mind-Pro formula to fuel your brain as you enter what can be the best years of your life.