The Top 3 Tests All Women Should Do (+ 2 ‘Honorable Mentions’)

The Top 3 Tests All Women Should Do (+ 2 ‘Honorable Mentions’)

These are the 3 tests that are totally non-negotiable for every woman that I work with and WHY they are so important.

1) The DUTCH test allows us to look at your adrenals in depth, which play a huge role in your health as you age. It also gives us insight into whether or not you may have a thyroid condition and how well your liver is performing and whether you have rampant inflammation going on. Saliva testing doesn’t even come close–please do not waste your money on an adrenal and sex hormone saliva test.

The DUTCH test also allows us to see how you’re metabolizing your estrogen so you can avoid estrogen-dominant cancers such as breast, uterine, and ovarian, and to reduce or eliminate symptoms of estrogen dominance such as PMS, low libido, excessive post menopausal weight gain, and more.

2) The GI-MAP is the second non-negotiable test. It is a window on your gut. The gastrointestinal system is command-central of the ENTIRE body.

Gut issues include dysbiosis (which is more bad than good bacteria) to autoimmune disease to improper disposal of estrogen from the body (estrogen is a use it, then lose it hormone, which you need to appropriately lose through your gut).

An unhealthy gut will disrupt your hormones, put you at risk for autoimmune disease, exacerbate an already present autoimmune condition and interfere with your ability to absorb nutrients from your foods. All this equals accelerated aging and feeling downright crummy.

3) A full thyroid panel. If you are a woman in middle age (basically, 40+), slow thyroid is likely. The thyroid is the metabolic bus driver of the body. So many women tell me that they can’t lose weight, they are depressed and unmotivated, they are losing hair, they are constipated. These are low thyroid symptoms.

Very few women get thorough thyroid testing. Doctors are afraid of being audited, so most women will only get a TSH (which, hello, is not even a thyroid hormone! It is a pituitary hormone that tells the thyroid to make its hormones). TSH is an initial screening, that is it.

Incomplete thyroid testing leaves so many women in a state of unnecessary suffering. Not cool.


​A full thyroid panel will include TSH, Free T4, Free T3, Reverse T3, TPO antibodies, TGAB antibodies, TSI (if Grave’s is suspected) and sometimes I ask women to get antibodies to T3.


​If we are really digging down deep and I am working with a woman in my 6 month health strategy and support program, I may ask her to do these two additional tests (depending on symptoms):

1.Parietal cell antibodies. If a woman has + antibodies to the parietal cells, we know that she is barely making stomach acid and we need to get serious about stomach acid replacement. Strong stomach acid is your best friend as you age. ​It is the first line of defense in your immune system and it helps you absorb your nutrients.

2. Fasting insulin. This is NOT the same as glucose. Glucose is commonly tested on your comprehensive metabolic panel or ‘CMP’ for short, but not insulin!. So many women develop insulin resistance with age and poor lifestyle habits. If a woman is battling weight loss resistance, I ask her to have this test done.

Want to discuss your health with me? Do you want to avoid being a middle aged statistic (in other words: fat, frumpy, sex-less and moody)? If so, book your completely FREE session right here….

USA residents book here

Non-USA residents book here

How I Became a Health Coach with a Focus on Hormone Balance

How I Became a Health Coach with a Focus on Hormone Balance

If you have an interest in wellness as a business, I am going to detail the steps of how I became a top women’s health coach and DUTCH hormone test expert as I’ve been getting the following questions on a weekly basis:

  • How do you have your practice set up?
  • You’ve done so many DUTCH tests. Where did you learn to do this?
  • Which other educational paths have you pursued?
  • How have you built credibility so people will want to hear what you have to say?

Like many in the wellness field, my path to becoming a women’s health coach that specializes in hormone imbalance was borne out of my own experience with the ravages of hormone imbalances.

Here’s a brief summary of my journey so you understand how this all started: In my early 40s, I experienced worsening PMS, massive mood swings, weight gain and low mood. By age 42, I was firmly planted in perimenopause and my most troubling symptom was insomnia.

I sought out the help of a well known doctor in NYC to help me get back on track. I knew my body was off, and although I’d been holistically minded for decades, I knew I needed outside eyes and professional guidance to get me through this phase of life.

To say my experience with this Manhattan-based integrative doctor was a dissapointment would be putting it kindly. After 3 months of care, minimal symptom improvement and thousands of out of pocket dollars later, I knew there had to be a better way.  


Thus my journey began….

  • In 2013, I enrolled in the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. It was a good experience at the time and I made several dear friends that still enrich my life to this day, but I no longer recommend that school for various reasons, the main one being that there is no support after you graduate and the curriculum is weak. 
  •  Right after graduating from IIN, I enrolled in The Hormone Cure Program for Practitioners offered by Dr. Sara Gottfried.  Dr. Sara was influential in taking me from a regular health coach to one with a deeper understanding of women’s delicate hormone systems. That program is no longer offered.
  • The ink was barely dried on my certificate from Dr. Gottfried, when I decided that I wanted an even deeper dive into endocrine physiology and functional medicine lab work, so in 2014, I enrolled in The Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Program. This program was a major game changer for me in terms of knowledge, confidence and the ability to run crucial lab tests. One of the things that makes this program unique is that you work on YOUR OWN health first. You run labs on yourself as part of the course. It brings the learning to a very personal level. I have already referred over 12 people into the program. I recommend it highly
  •  After going through FDN, I enrolled in the UK based program 3rd Age Woman Peri to Post Menopause Wellness Certification with Burrell Education. I loved how the focus of this program was on women going through hormone transitions. It was a good adjunct to what I had already learned up until this point.
  •  In 2017, I completed the Redefining Hormones Course by Dr. Lindsey Berkson. I LOVED this course as its focus goes much deeper than basic hormone balance knowledge. It’s primary focus is on how the environment and toxins are upsetting hormone balance on a worldwide scale. This is definitely not a beginnger course but if you’ve got hormone physiology knowledge already and a desire to learn from a true scholar, this course may interest you.
  • Several months ago, I enrolled in the Institute for Functional Health Coaching. I wanted to brush up on my coaching and business skills and there is no better way to do that than go through the 4 month comprehensive program offered by IFHC. School director Carmen Hunter is a real world, in-the-trenches health coach who built her practice from the ground up, minus the ridiculous ‘make 6 figures in 3 months’ type advice nor does her school engage in such nonsense. Do you remember I said that I no longer recommend IIN? If you are even *thinking* of enrolling in IIN, please check out The Institute for Functional Health Coaching instead.
  • And most recently, in 2018, I enrolled in The Menopause Method Certification course for physicians by Daved Rosensweet, MD.  I am not able to do the certification process (it is for licensed doctors who want to be able to Rx hormones to their patients), but I am able to participate in the course.

working at a computer

I am able to work with clients all over the world, offering the DUTCH hormone test and helping women to become the CEO of their health. 

 

Lastly, I want to give credit to several amazing mentors that I’ve had along the way. One of them is Dr. Carrie Jones, the medical director of Precision Analytical Lab, who is a ‘living-breathing-walking women’s hormones encyclopedia”.

Dr. Jones is a powerhouse women’s health expert who continues to receive my emails around challenging cases and always responds with that rare combination of knowledge and kindness. If you are not following her on Instagram, I highly recommend it. She shares a wealth of useable information there and she’s funny, to boot!

My other mentor is the equally amazing Dr. Lindsey Berkson, who has been in the clinical trenches of functional medicine for over 40 years and has written over 20 books. I am so lucky to call her both friend and official mentor. We get together 2x a month to discuss challenging clinical cases. She is also a healthy foodie and really walks her talk in so many ways. If you haven’t read her book Sexy Brain or Safe Hormones, Smart Women, well, I just have to ask, why not?

 

Winter Sadness: Tips for Dealing with Seasonal Affective Disorder

Winter Sadness: Tips for Dealing with Seasonal Affective Disorder

Do you suffer from SAD?

Today, we hear from guest blogger Kimberly Hayes and her struggle with this yearly cycle of sadness.

The condition known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD) has been called everything from the midwinter blues to cabin fever. Such homespun designations are colorfully descriptive but they don’t capture the severity of the mental and physiological effects that months of enduring a cold, dark environment have on as much as 5 percent of the population. Fewer daylight hours means the brain produces less of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which conveys feelings of pleasure and happiness. For people — particularly those who live in typically cold northern states — who are especially vulnerable to depression, SAD is an annual affliction that makes it difficult to get out of bed, go to work, associate with friends and deal with problems as they arise.

Symptoms manifest as negative attempts to cope with the burdened, depressive miasma that oppresses SAD sufferers. They may include binge eating, excessive fatigue, and negative feelings and thoughts that can easily descend into depression and even suicidal impulses. If you anticipate the onset of winter with dread, take heart. There are many ways to counter the impact of SAD and prevent what can be a debilitating emotional slide.

What can you do?

As with many psychological and emotional conditions, exercise can be an effective remedy. Exercise activates the neurotransmitter dopamine, which produces positive feelings in the brain. It can be really hard to get off the couch, bundle up and charge off into the cold, but exercising outdoors and getting plenty of fresh air into your lungs can give you a major mental boost just when you really need one. If you’re stuck at work 8 hours or more every day, take advantage of every opportunity (breaks, lunch, etc.) to take a brisk walk or do some stretching exercises. Remember, just 30 minutes of exercise a day can make a major difference in the way you feel.

Canine companionship

Can you think of a better companion than one that’s always smiling (or appears to be smiling), is always glad to see you, and gives love unconditionally? That’s what dogs provide. Just petting a dog releases oxytocin, the so-called “love hormone,” and causes a dip in the stress hormone cortisol. So from a brain chemistry standpoint, a dog really is man’s best friend. As wonderful and supportive as friends and family can be when we’re experiencing the hopelessness of depression and the spirals of anxiety, this primal connection we have with dogs, their upfront expressions of affection, and their more-discernible needs (and expression of those needs), is a kind of powerful, moving simplicity that not only doesn’t pile on to the stresses of life but shows us the potential joys we weren’t able to see before.

Shine the light

The loss of sunlight during the long, cold winter months limits the number of messages that are transmitted to different parts of the brain. The less light, the fewer nerve messages and related brain activity. That means a drop in serotonin, which is what those who suffer from SAD really need. The resulting imbalance in brain chemistry can leave you feeling depressed. With that in mind, do everything you can to brighten your home throughout the winter. Exchange heavy drapes for thin, transparent shades that let in the light. Consider moving your furniture so it faces the largest windows in your home. You can also brighten things up by repainting with white and bright pastel colors. Long days at the office are always depressing, but you can mitigate the effect by introducing light into your work environment. Try placing a lightbox in your office, a device that helps a vast majority of people with seasonal affective disorder feel much better.

Motivated and productive

Most people feel sad and worn down every now and then during the winter months. It’s a far cry from the despair and torpor that people with SAD feel, and which can reduce normally well-adjusted people to a state of prolonged inactivity. Recognizing the signs of SAD is the first step in understanding that exercise, companionship, and exposure to light can help you stay motivated and productive.

Author
Kimberly Hayes enjoys writing about health and wellness and created PublicHealthAlert.info to help keep the public informed about the latest developments in popular health issues and concerns. In addition to studying to become a crisis intervention counselor, Kimberly is hard at work on her new book, which discusses the ins and outs of alternative addiction treatments.
Courtesy of Pixabay.com.

Understanding the 3 Levels of Estrogen Dominance

Understanding the 3 Levels of Estrogen Dominance

Estrogen is a wonderful hormone. Women primarily make it in their ovaries during their reproductive years and men make it in their testes, adrenals and via testosterone (through a process called aromatization). There are other estrogen production sites (called extra gonadal production) around the body as well, such as the parietal cells of the stomach. Yes, the even the stomach makes estrogen!

But not everyone appreciates the wonders of estrogen. Many women associate estrogen with heavy bleeding, PMS, fibroids, migraines and more. These are all symptoms of estrogen dominance.

In a bid to get rid of estrogen dominance, women will talk of ‘flushing’ estrogen out of the body. You definitely don’t want to do that. Too little estrogen is just as troubling as too much estrogen.


The main question to ask whether you have symptoms of estrogen dominance (or not) is:

“What is my body doing with estrogen? This is called estrogen metabolism


Estrogen is a ‘use it and lose it’ hormone. It is NOT just about the amount of estrogen in the body. It is not even just the ratio of estrogen to progesterone in the body (although that is the most well known determinant of estrogen dominance).

In order to see how you are metabolizing estrogen, you need to do a urine test.

Urine shows metabolites of estrogen. Blood and saliva do not.

I use the DUTCH complete hormone test to determine if there is estrogen dominance and at what level. There are 3 places to look on a DUTCH test to see if estrogen dominance is present.

Here’s the first place I look to determine estrogen dominance:

This is the sex hormone summary on the very first page of a DUTCH complete test.  Here, we are simply comparing the dial positions of estrogen to progesterone. When the estrogen dial is more turned to the right than the progesterone dial, it is considered estrogen dominance.

This example of estrogen dominance is quite extreme, as I am sure you can see!

high estrogen

This is extreme estrogen dominance. The estrogen is sky high and the progesterone is super low

 

By way of comparison, here is an example that is NOT estrogen dominant because the progesterone dial is more turned to the right than the estrogen dial.

non estrogen dominance example

At first glance, this is NOT estrogen dominance. But remember, this person could be estrogen dominant at the second and third level. Keep reading!

 

The second place I look to determine estrogen dominance is the levels of 2-OH, 4-OH and 16-OH metabolites. This is the second phase of estrogen metabolism. If you create too much 4-OH or 16-OH, you may have symptoms of estrogen dominance even though at first glance (such as the example above), you have overall better levels of progesterone than estrogen.

estrogen metabolites

This person makes too little 2-OH (you want at least 70% of that because it is considered protective) and too much 4-OH (which is considered more potentially carcinogenic).

The third place I look to estrogen dominance is methylation.

If methylation is low, it indicates that estrogen is having a hard time getting out of the body. We get a peek at methylation of estrogen on the DUTCH test by looking at the methylation dial. Here is an example of low methylation.

methylation of estrogen

The fan dial on this methylation gauge is low. This means that this person is having a hard time at properly detoxing estrogen.

 

There are other phases of estrogen detox such as sulfation and glucoronidation that are beyond the scope of this article.  However, the main takeaway is that you can be estrogen dominant on several levels. It is not as simple as your ratio of estrogen to progesterone.

Want to do a DUTCH test with me to find out how your 3 levels of estrogen detox are?

You can sign up for that right here

Did you find this article helpful, if so, please share!

5 Surprising Ways That Oxytocin May Improve Your Health

Oxytocin is a neuropeptide hormone that is produced in the brain and is best known for its association with birth and breast feeding. It was discovered in 1906 and synthesized in the lab in 1953. The synthetic form of oxytocin is pitocin, which is widely used to stimulate uterine contractions for labor.

Renewed interest and research on oxytocin has exploded and there may be a lot more to oxytocin than most of us realize. In one database, there were 17 papers in 1990 and 118 in 2010. Oxytocin is now available over the counter (on Amazon, it is called ‘Oxy-Luv”) as an intra-nasal spray or from various compounding pharmacies as a spray, lozenge or cream.

Here are several new ways to consider the use of over the counter oxytocin for improved health:

1. As an anxiety reducer: Anxiety and stress disorders are characterized by a feeling of being unable to manage stress. Physiologically, what is happening is that your HPA axis is being over stimulated. The HPA axis consists of the hypothalamus, adrenal glands and the pituitary. Your HPA axis releases stress hormones when we need them to serve us (such as when your little charge is careening towards the busy street on her tricycle).

The problem for most of us, is that our HPA is chronically over stimulated by common life stressors such as sitting in traffic, job stress, inflammatory food choices, lack of down time. Oxytocin might help induce more calm and less anxiety when going through these stressful situations. In one study, cerebrospinal fluid and plasma OT levels were found to higher in participants that had lower anxiety. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0143417915000530

2. To increase effectiveness of hormone therapy: As women age, many of them choose to use estrogen to diminish hot flashes ,improve bone health and lessen cardiovascular risk. But for every hormone therapy success story, there are women for whom hormone therapy seems to confer no benefit. With regards to mood issues, ( a common problem for post menopausal women),There is exciting data to support the idea that oxytocin exerts anxiety reducing effects in the presence of circulating estrogen. Therefore, using oxytocin as a nasal spray, may enhance the effectiveness of hormone therapy.

3. To Improve Vaginal Mucosa: Vaginal dryness is an almost unviersal symptom after menopause. The loss of estrogen degrades the mucosa of the vaginal wall and as a result, sex can be painful. In one randomized, controlled study, vaginal atrophy was significantly reduced after a 100 IU administration of vagitocin (a type of oxytocin that is in clinical development at a pharmaceutical firm in Sweden) for 7 weeks. Because oxytocin does not stimulate estrogen, the thickness of the endometrium did not differ between the treatment and placebo groups after seven weeks of treatment. This study conduced at the Karolinska Institute in 2012, concluded that treatment with intravaginally applied oxytocin could be an alternative to local estrogen treatment in women with post-menopausal vaginal atrophy. Peptonic, a Swedish company, is currently developing this for usage as a consumer product without a prescription. It is known as Vag-Vital and may be ready for purchase by 2018 pending more clinical trials.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4566058/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22120944
http://www.peptonicmedical.se/products/

4. Oxytocin might prevent or delay age related sarcopenia: Oxytocin, like most of our hormones, declines with age. Muscle tone also declines with age. There is some research that suggests restoring youthful levels of oxytocin can help slow down the the muscle aging process.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24915299

5. Oxytocin might improve your sex life!: One small study in the peer reviewed journal ‘Hormones and Behavior’ hypothesizes that intranasal administration of oxytocin immediately prior to sexual intercourse can increase sexual enjoyment by providing better orgasms and more content feelings after intercourse. According to one analysis, the effects were more pronounced in men.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24503174

There are other potential applications fo oxytocin. Exciting research in autism is being conducted by using it in a controlled setting that would help children with autism respond better to social cues. There is more research showing that it may help with weight loss and PTSD. However, researchers warn that not enough is known about it and they caution wanton use explaining most of the oxytocin research was conducted using a single dose.

There are also known contraindications to oxytocin such as benign prostatic hyperplasia, uterine cancer and anyone who suffers from manic episodes.

Food Loves Tech: The Foodie Event of 2017,  In A  Few Days!

Food Loves Tech: The Foodie Event of 2017, In A Few Days!

There is no doubt we live in exciting, disruptive times. Food (as seen by the recent purchase of Whole Foods by Amazon) is not immune to this disruption. If you want to learn more about the future of food, you don’t want to miss “Food Loves Tech” happening next weekend, November 3rd and 4th, 2017.

Food loves tech is an amazing edu-tainment expo happening November 3rd and 4th from 10 am-4 pm in the Industry City area of Brooklyn, NY. It’s where thought leaders, influencers and enthusiasts in the area of food and technology will unite to reflect upon the future marriage of food and technology in this first of it’s kind event.

Chefs in white coats

New York, NY – June 11, 2016: Scenes from the Food Loves Tech festival, hosted by Edible Manhattan and Vayner Media.
CREDIT: Clay Williams for Edible Manhattan.
© Clay Williams / claywilliamsphoto.com

 


The expo features 5 exhibits:

1.“In Field and Sea” will focus on the land, sea, farming, sustainability and feeding a hungry world.

2.“In the City” will focus on how tech companies are changing the food landscape. It will explore drone food delivery and how to make better food more accesible.

3.“In the Home” will explore how tech can improve personal nutrition decisions about what we eat and cook

4. “On the Horizon” will consider the future of food and how farming, cooking, shopping and drinking will interface with advances in technology. Artificial intelligence will be explored in this expo.

5. “Bazaar” will be a tasting station that showcases some of the area’s most innovative food and beverage makers. Innovators in the Bazaar area include Green Mountain Energy, Wainscott Main Wine and Spirits, Great Performances, Foundation for New York’s Strongest, FoodFutureCo, Proud Pour, Califia Farms, Seek,  Purity Organic,  Misha, Chobani Food Incubator, Health-Ade Kombucha, Oatly, Arcane Distilling,  eatCultured,  and Selffee.


Virtual reality participant

New York, NY – June 11, 2016: Scenes from the Food Loves Tech festival, hosted by Edible Manhattan and Vayner Media.
CREDIT: Clay Williams for Edible Manhattan.
© Clay Williams / claywilliamsphoto.com

 

Personally, I am thrilled that a kombucha company is present amongst all of these food innovators!

There will be panel discussions over the two day event that cover diverse topics such as:

  • How food should be grown in the future
  • How can technology help save our oceans
  • How will we be buying groceries in 2050
  • Ways that technology can reduce food waste
  • The future of restaurants and robotic chefs
 food salad bar

New York, NY – June 11, 2016: Scenes from the Food Loves Tech festival, hosted by Edible Manhattan and Vayner Media.
CREDIT: Clay Williams for Edible Manhattan.
© Clay Williams / claywilliamsphoto.com

 

What would a ‘food’ event, even one with a heavy focus on technology be without, well, some food? The event will also have food and drinks prepared by the city’s most innovative chefs and ‘mixologists’ (errr…bartenders).

Tickets for this event are a steal at $75/each. You can buy them here.