Women’s Health Month Wrap-Up

Standard

Three-Generations-of-Women-sm-1024x679

As Women’s Health Month comes to a close, let’s examine the most powerful foods and nutrients that prevent dozens of ailments specific to women. The two biggies are omega-3s and fiber.

Omega-3s:

I cannot stress this enough— omega-3s are natural anti-inflammatories! They essentially help prevent every disease condition, and you learned this month, that they help prevent breast cancer, interstitial cystitis, PMS, and menopause. You also learned that they are essential for prenatal health.  So load up on the following:

  • Wild-caught salmon
  • Flaxseed
  • Walnuts
  • Chia seeds
  • Sardines
  • Mackerel
  • Basil
  • Oregano

Fiber

Fiber is essential to maintain a healthy weight. You also learned this month how fiber helps ease menopause, PMS, and may help protect you against breast cancer. Beans, legumes, and a lot of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains are important here. Here are some top choices:

  • Oats and oat bran
  • Lima beans
  • Adzuki beans
  • Lentils
  • Kidney beans
  • Navy beans
  • Raspberries
  • Sweet peas
  • Acorn squash
  • Pears
  • Prunes
  • Avocados

Fiber and omega-3 are very central to the Mediterranean Diet. So, if there were any one diet I’d recommend, that would be the one! It also stresses limiting processed foods, which is imperative in order to achieve optimal health.

Apply these health tips and watch your health improve exponentially.  If you combine these nutritional tips with regular exercise and stress management prioritization, you will feel fantastic—that I can promise you!

Easing Menopause with Nutrition

Standard

salmon

Our last blog was about easing PMS symptoms. Many women would be thrilled to say goodbye to PMS as they start going through perimenopause and then menopause; however, they are then likely to become negatively impacted by any of the following menopause symptoms (many which are similar to PMS symptoms): night sweats, moodiness, vaginal dryness, loss of libido, weight-gain,  hair loss, headaches, and difficulty concentrating. The good news is that there are nutritional approaches to easing these symptoms! Here are my top-five recommendations.

Recommendation # 1: Load up On Vitamin-B Rich Foods and Omega-3 Rich Foods to Battle Moodiness

Not getting enough B vitamins or Omega-3s in your diet has been proven to contribute to anxiety, depression, and mood swings! Look to whole grains, beans, lentils, and lean meat for your B vitamins. Look to fish or flaxseed for your Omega-3s.

Recommendation # 2: Eat Fiber-Rich Foods

This will help you out doubly! By eating foods rich in fiber, you will stave off weight gain (by feeling fuller longer and reducing sugary cravings) and you will also help prevent mood swings (by balancing blood sugar). Some great fiber-rich foods include: flax, chia, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans.

Recommendation # 3: Consume Plant-Based Foods with Isoflavones

Isoflavones, also known as phytoestrogens, are foods that naturally have estrogen in them; therefore, they will help balance out the estrogen that you are losing. Consider tofu, lentils, oats, flaxseed, or wheat germ.

Recommendation # 4: Limit Sugar, Caffeine, and Alcohol

All three are known to trigger the symptoms associated with menopause.

Recommendation # 5: Follow a Mediterranean-Style Diet

We wrote a blog earlier this year on the Mediterranean Diet. New research shows that a Mediterranean Diet can help prevent hot flashes by stabilizing estrogen levels, while a diet high in sugar and saturated fat can exacerbate hot flashes.

Eating healthy is the bottom line when it comes to managing menopausal symptoms. And don’t forget to exercise—that helps too!

PMS Prevention Tips

Standard

 

Header-Cruciferous-Vegetables

How do you feel five to 11 days before your period? Bloated? Irritable? Tense? Anxious? Emotional? Exhausted? Mood swings? Do you get migraine headaches? Do you have insatiable cravings for sweets? If you experience any of these symptoms, then premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is no stranger to you.  Guess what though? I have good news for you! You can ease these symptoms through nutritional changes. PMS is the result of hormone imbalances; here are some ways that you can balance those pesky hormones.

Kick Refined Flours and Sugars out of your Diet

Refined flour and sugar, found in almost all processed foods, are highly inflammatory to the body, which sparks hormone imbalances and exacerbates PMS symptoms.

Reduce your Caffeine and Alcohol Intake

Like refined flours and sugars, caffeine and alcohol can also spark hormone imbalances due to their inflammatory properties.

Reduce your Dairy and if you do Consume it, Choose Organic

Dairy products have a lot of hormones, causing you to have excess estrogen. Organic dairy has far less hormones, so if you do enjoy your dairy, go organic!

Let’s look at fresh ways to boost your health and lessen your likelihood of experiencing PMS

Eat a lot of Cruciferous Veggies

Broccoli, cabbage, kale, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts all belong to a group of veggies known as cruciferous vegetables; these powerful, detoxifying veggies remove excess estrogens from your body.

Eat a lot of Omega-3s

Sardines, salmon, walnuts, and flaxseed all boast omega-s, which are anti-inflammatory and can help balance your hormones.

Eat Foods High in Fiber

You want to get as much fiber as you can as your approach your period; fiber will help balance your blood-sugar and will prevent those intense cravings. Fruit and veggies, oats, beans and legumes are awesome choices. Also consider adding ground flaxseed to your salads and smoothies for a boost of fiber.

Eat Magnesium-Rich Foods

Magnesium helps to balance hormones and is especially helpful at preventing or easing migraine headaches. Leafy greens, cashews, almonds, pumpkin seeds, and fish are all great choices that are high in magnesium.

Lastly, be sure to MOVE! Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise 4-5 times a week. Exercise also helps to balance your hormones and can help prevent irksome PMS symptoms.

I hope these tips help all of you ladies who are literally TIRED of PMS!

Nutrition Tips to Diffuse Stress

Standard

So many health problems stem from stress; stress is inflammatory and we know that inflammation is the precursor to almost every disease. As women, our many commitments and expectations cause us to feel frantic at times, anxiety-ridden, stretched, and stressed. Did you know that there are nutritional approaches to reducing stress, to uplift your spirits when you are depressed or overwhelmed? Follow these five simple tips to reduce your stress and the risk of dozens of resulting health ailments.

  1. Say no to Processed Food. Processed food steals your zest and energy; it can result in lethargy and lack of motivation.

 

  1. Limit Alcohol Consumption. Alcohol is a depressant.  Many women I know turn to wine whenever they are stressed to the max. A glass or two is completely acceptable; just don’t make it the number-one go-to whenever stress gets to you.

 

  1. Reduce your Sugar Consumption. Sugar can mess with your mood the same way processed food does. The first thing to rid is soda. For natural sugars found in fruit, balance it out by eating some protein like nuts or seeds whenever you eat fruit.

 

  1. Eat Nuts and Seeds Nuts. Speaking of nuts and seeds, they are awesome mood boosters. When you desire to reach for a processed-food snack like chips, crackers, or cookies, press the pause button and turn your attention to raw nuts and seeds.

 

Walnuts for example, which literally look like little brains, are made up of 15 to 20 percent protein and contain linoleic (omega-6 fatty acids) and alpha-linoleic acids (omega-3 fatty acids), vitamin E and vitamin B6, making them an excellent source of nourishment for your nervous system. A healthy nervous system results in clearer thinking and a happier mood.nuts2

Cashews are high in magnesium, which is also known for calming the mind and stress. Almonds are also high in magnesium and they are rich in phenylalanine, an essential amino acid necessary for the production of dopamine, one of your feel-good neurotransmitters.

 

  1. Consume Fermented Food

Do you know that your gut is connected to your mental health? Many neurotransmitters are created in your intestinal tract and in order for that creation to take place, your gut needs to have a healthy flora balance.  Fermented foods are loaded with probiotics, which will exponentially increase the “good” bacteria in your gut. Try adding kombucha, sauerkraut, tempeh, miso, and kefir to your diet. Kombucha is a tasty carbonated beverage (a great alternative to soda). Tempeh is great in stir-fries and who doesn’t love a bowl of miso soup?

Kefir is my favorite fermented food; it’s like a drinkable yogurt and it’s as delicious as a milkshake!

 

Okay ladies; don’t let stress get the best of you. Follow these nutrition tips, get plenty of rest and exercise and you will notice the stress melt away!

 

Better your Bladder Health

Standard

nuts-cranberries-handful

If you are a woman who experiences trouble with incontinence urgent urination, or bladder pain, you are not alone. Once thought to be an issue that older women struggled with, the truth is that women as young as 20 can struggle with an incontinence or an overactive bladder. Three main ailments that can contribute to bladder problems are interstitial cystitis, a bladder infection and constipation; therefore, by tackling these three ailments, you can better your bladder.

How to Deal with Interstitial Cystitis

Interstitial Cystitis (IC) is a condition that can have a wide range of symptoms from the need to urinate up to 60 times a day to bladder pain to incontinence. Ninety percent of those diagnosed with IC are women. Though the specific cause of IC is not certain, research shows that inflammation is involved; therefore, it is important to avoid food that cause inflammation: processed foods, fried foods and  any acidic foods (i.e., tomatoes, orange juice, alcohol, etc.). It is helpful to consume natural anti-inflammatory foods, such as omega-3-rich food (primarily fish), querecetin-rich food (apples and red onions are the best choices here) and bromelain-rich foods (load up on the pineapple)!

How to Handle a Bladder Infection

Your bladder is part of your urinary tract; several research studies have found that a compound in cranberries (D-mannose) can fight the bacteria that cause urinary tract infections (UTIs). Add dried cranberries to your trail mix; select tart cranberry juice as your beverage of choice and prevent those UTis!

How to Prevent Chronic Constipation

Though constipation affects your intestinal tract and colon, it can also increase your likelihood of an overactive bladder and incontinence due to the pressure that constipation puts on your bladder. Research shows that alleviating constipation may help get your bladder symptoms under control as well. Increase your fiber (add oats or oat bran to your breakfasts; add beans to your salads and soups; increase your raw veggies and fruit; also select raw nuts as your snack of choice).

In addition to these nutrition suggestions, though it sounds counterintuitive, add more water to your diet. Drinking a lot of water may increase your urgency and frequency of urination, but research shows that not drinking enough water may cause constipation and increase your likelihood of a UTI, both of which can heighten your risk of bladder problems. Once again, we see that hydration is key.

I hope these tips help you better your bladder health!

 

 

Boost your Bone Health Nutritionally

Standard

osteoporosis_s7_symptom_hip_fracture

Worldwide, an osteoporotic fracture takes place every three seconds. One in three American women over the age of 50 will experience at least one osteoporotic fracture in their lifetime. Osteoporosis is far more common in women than in men. You can drastically decrease your likelihood of being diagnosed with osteoporosis through nutritional measures. And these are not recommendations that apply only to middle-aged and older women; even young women should seriously consider applying these bone-health boosting nutrition tips. In fact, research has proven that you can start preventing osteoporosis as a child. Here’s a nutritional protocol to follow to protect your precious bones:

  • The most important mineral for building healthy bones is calcium. Consume foods that are high in calcium. The odds are that you grew up in a society that marketed milk as the primary source of calcium. While dairy products contain calcium, the truth is that many leafy greens have even more calcium than milk; try adding kale, collards, bok choy, or chard to your salads or as a dinner side. Befriend sardines; they are loaded with calcium. Curious how to incorporate sardines into your meals; add them to a salad or try making an arugula and sardine pizza. As far as dairy products go, I recommend Greek yogurt as a great calcium source, but beware of the sugar content. Buy plain yogurt and sweeten yourself with a dab of honey; heighten the deliciousness by adding chopped figs and sliced almonds, both are also very high in calcium.
  • Get some sunshine! While I recommend sunscreen for most of the day, you should try to get a little bit of exposure without sunscreen so you can absorb some vitamin D. Few foods have vitamin D and 10 minutes in mid-day sun will give you a whopping 10,000 IU of vitamin D…so even in the freezing cold winter, get yourself outside, especially on sunny days! Vitamin D helps your bones to absorb calcium.
  • Don’t forget about eating foods that are high in vitamin K. Vitamin K helps to activate a bone-building protein called osteocalcin. Foods that are rich in vitamin K include leafy greens, cruciferous veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts for example), basil, asparagus, and leeks.
  • Limit your alcohol intake. While many people know that alcohol has a negative impact on your liver, chronic alcohol abuse is also detrimental to your bones, having a direct toxic effect. A glass of wine or two with dinner here and there is fine, but drinking every day or regular binge drinking could harm your bones.

Give these nutrition tips a go and your bones will thank you. In my next blog, I will discuss how exercise helps your bones!

 

 

Happy Mothers (to-be) Day: Nutrition Tips for a Healthy Pregnancy

Standard

pregnancy-healthy-food-all-objects-isolated-background-eps-editable-35926420

This is for all of you expectant moms out there; this Mother’ Day, give yourself the gift of a healthy pregnancy! Here are some nutrition tips to consider for the two (or more) of you!

Protein

Consuming sufficient amounts of protein is critical for women during pregnancy. Experts suggest that women should consume 75-100 grams of protein during pregnancy. Protein helps the fetal tissue, including the brain, to grow and it is also important for the blood supply. Some research shows a decreased risk of preeclampsia and other pregnancy complications with adequate protein intake. Here are some great sources of protein: grilled chicken breast (36 grams for a four-ounce serving), Greek yogurt (about 17 grams for standard container), mixed raw nuts (about 9 grams per 1/3 cup serving), green peas (about 8 grams per cup), and tofu (10 grams per quarter block).

Iron

It is very important to consume ample iron during pregnancy increase your blood volume and prevent anemia. Awesome sources of iron include leafy greens (spinach, kale, collards, and chard), lentils, beans, raw nuts, turkey, fish, and lean beef.

Folate/Folic Acid

Folic acid is the single most important nutrient to consume in order to help prevent neural tube defects such as spina bifida. It is often recommended to take a folate supplement during pregnancy. Folate is a B-vitamin. B vitamins are water-soluble so it is near impossible to consume too much; in other words, what you do not use, you pee out.

Omega-3s

Omega-3s, particularly DHA, is critical for the healthy development of your baby’s organs and brain. The best source of DHA is fatty fish like sardines, salmon, trout, mackerel and other fish choices that are not likely to have mercury. Make your fish choices using this chart from the Natural Resource Defense Council.

Probiotics

Last, but not least, turn to fermented foods (kefir, kombucha, tempeh, sauerkraut) for their probiotics. It is your gut that determines the health of your baby’s gut. Probiotics are the absolute best way to increase the healthy flora in your gut so that baby’s gut will be healthy too!

Happy Mother’s Day! Here’s to the healthiest pregnancy imaginable!