Entries in hormones (4)

Friday
Sep102010

An Omega 3 per day Keeps the Doctor Away: Will Omega 3 or Omega 6 Fats Win the Race in your Body?

What would you do if there was a supplement or food that could lower all forms of inflammation in your body, decrease risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke, and make you smarter?

That supplement/food is omega 3 fats.  Omega 3 fats came into fashion a few years back, but many did not realize its critical significance for health and longevity.

Lowering Inflammation

Omega 3 fats lower inflammation in the body, and omega 6 fats increase inflammation.  When animals eat grass, we receive omega 3 fats as a result of consuming them, and when they eat corn or grains we receive omega 6 fats.

Since omega 3 and omega 6 fats compete for first line in the body, whichever is more prevalent will win the race.

The 3 omega’s are ALA, DHA, and EPA.  DHA is essential in brain development.  It also can lower cortisol and stress levels in the body. 

ALA is found in ground flax seed and is important for hormone stabilization.  Studies show the lignan found in flax seeds rids the body of bad hormones which can lead to cancer.

EPA can lower risk of disease states including diabetes and heart disease.  It is imperative to get three omega’s to have the most benefit in the body.

Studies show omega 3 fats:

Lower depression
Increase IQ in children whose mother’s took omega 3’s during pregnancy
Lower violence in general
Lower risk of autoimmune diseases
Lower insulin resistance, heart disease and diabetes

The list of positives is fairly long.  If you go to the search engine pubmed which shows abstracts of major studies, and type in omega 3’s, you’ll find at least 20,000 studies in their database.

Are we getting enough omega 3’s?  100 years ago we did not have to worry about getting enough omega 3’s.  Our animals ate grass and pre-packaged processed foods did not exist.

In the last few decades our government and control of farms geared our food supply away from the natural way animals ate, which increased our intake of omega 6 fats.

In addition, the food supply is filled with soybean and cottonseed oils, omega 6 “seed oils” that require industrial processes to extract the oils, and did not exist 100 years ago.

The hard drive of your body starts in the brain – the way you walk, move, hormone function, etc.  If the brain does not get the food it needs, these systems can become compromised.

What can you do for the Omega 3 fats to win the Race in your body?

  1. Eat grass-fed beef, pastured poultry and eggs
  2. Eat Wild Fish a few times a week
  3. Avoid prepackaged processed foods
  4. Use at least 1 tablespoon per day of ground flax seed
  5. Take an omega 3 supplement with at least 500 mg. each of DHA and EPA
  6. Use an oil high in omega 3’s such as extra-virgin olive oil and lower intake of omega 6 oils such as soybean, cottonseed, corn, vegetable, safflower, and sunflower

Your brain and body will thank you and you’ll spend less time visiting your doctor.  Maybe the old adage should say “an Omega 3 per day keeps the doctor away."

Friday
Aug132010

What about Omega 3 Supplements?

Omegas 3’s have made it into the mainstream of lifestyle importance.  Until about four years ago I recommended omega 3’s to only those with heart disease.  Research exploded exponentially linking increased intake of omega 3’s to lowered risk of not only heart disease, but other types of inflammation such as arthritis, insulin resistance, diabetes, gastrointestinal issues, hormonal disorders, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease.

In addition, the fish oil/flax seed combination is helpful for symptoms associated with PMS, menopause, and hormone stabilization in general.  ADD and ADHD can also be helped.

How can one simple thing help so many medical problems?  Feeding your body starts with adequate food for your brain.  Since a large percentage of your brain is fat, feeding and lubricating the brain with enough fat can restore the rest of the systems in your body to balance.

The 3 Omegas

There are 3 types of omega 3 fats:  ALA, DHA and EPA. 

Ground Flax Seed

ALA is found in the highest concentration in ground flax seed.  One tablespoon per day meets your needs.  I like Spectrum brand since it has a nice taste.  Put it on your morning yogurt or cottage cheese.  The flax seed has to be ground in order to obtain the ALA.  Otherwise, it goes through your system as fiber.

Fish Oil

Fish oil contains the remaining 2 omega 3’s:  DHA and EPA.  What type of fish oil is best?  Many times the brand of a supplement is not all that significant.  However, with fish oil it IS important.  Proper storage and quality brands are important for freshness, avoiding rancidity and avoidance of PCB’s.  Several brands were sued in the last few months due to PCB’s.

The brand of fish oil I usually recommend is Carlson.  A recent study showed higher amounts of omega 3’s greatly lowered many health risks.  Therefore, having at least 1000 mg. of both DHA and EPA is recommended.

Since a typical gel capsule contains only 200-300 mg. of each it requires taking at least 5 capsules per day.  One teaspoon of the Carlson Lemon Fish oil contains 800 mg. of EPA and 500 mg. of DHA.  Taking one tablespoon is sufficient for the day.  It tastes like lemon oil and has the highest level of absorption.

One tablespoon per day each of ground flax seed and fish oil and less risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and Alzheimer’s?  It’s a slam dunk to me.

Friday
Jul162010

Avoiding the Menopausal Middle

Some days I feel like I am talking about the menopausal middle all day long. Many women in perimenopause and menopause start to gain weight in places they never knew existed on their bodies.  It is like their body is not their own and is now being inhabited by an alien takeover. 

Weight gain during this time is common for a variety of reasons.  One key to this season in life is linked to hormones.  Hormones are basically messengers that give the body signals about what to do, similar to traffic lights.  Hormones can control the immune system, metabolism, and reproduction, in addition to many other systems in the body.  During menopause these systems can change or become disrupted.

The hormone insulin becomes more dominant and resistant, which makes weight gain, especially around the middle exponentially easier.  The balance of what you ate and foods you tolerated your can now cause whole life cause problems.  Several studies show women who eat a low fat high carbohydrate diet during menopause gain more weight.  Shifting the diet towards more protein, healthy sources of fats and lowering starches is fundamental to keeping your weight under control.

A balanced health plan during menopause might look like:

  • Regular meals and snacks with high-quality protein
  • Fruits, vegetables and healthy carbohydrate sources at meals and snacks with avoidance of starchy and processed carbohydrates
  • Healthy fats – from monounsaturated and omega-3 rich sources
  • An exercise program incorporating cardiovascular and strength training
  • Incorporating omega-fats into your diet such as ground flax seed and fish oil since they help rebalance hormones

Since bone loss occurs with changes in hormones and age, weight gain around the middle is more prevalent.  Weight training can stop muscle atrophy or bone losses, which will then increase the metabolic rate and stop or minimize weight gain.

In addition, exercise can assist with mood stabilization, reduction of hot flashes, anxiety and insomnia.  Yoga is extremely helpful with moods and symptoms of menopause.  Acupuncture also helps rebalance the systems of the body.

Having an individualized plan to cope with the hormone shifts and weight gain can be very helpful.  You can dismiss the alien in your body and reclaim your body – it might require shifting the balance of what you are consuming and adding other therapies such as weight training to achieve your goals.

Sunday
Sep132009

Benefits of Fish oil, Flax Seed on Hormones, Migraines and Fertility

I have blogged about this subject elsewhere and it is such needed information I decided to blog about it on my own site.  About a year and a half ago I attended a conference at UCLA on omega-3 fatty acids.  Up to that point in time I had studied the effects of omega 3’s in the body but considered them more for those with heart disease, arthritis and other inflammatory problems.  After hearing the speakers tout the enormous results of omega-3 fats in multiple research studies, I decided to add them to my own diet.

First, I added 1 tablespoon of Spectrum ground flax seeds. I had been taking fish oil capsules for some time, but changed to the liquid Carlson Lemon Fish oil and took 2 teaspoons per day.

Although I eat very healthy and what I call “clean” with no processed foods, I experienced some incredible results within 3 weeks. I’ve had hormonal migraine headaches for about 20 years with not much relief.  Although I had no adolescent acne, I had quite a bit of adult cystic acne for many years with no change from my diet, exercise, or even acupuncture.

After taking the combination of the ground flax seed and liquid fish oil for three weeks, my acne almost completely cleared up, and usual 4-5 migraines per month disappeared.  I was not expecting a change in either my acne or headaches so these changes came as a surprise. I feel like a crusader now with my patients in terms of touting the benefits of the ground flax seed/liquid fish oil combo and am happy to pass along this information to anyone who has had similar challenging issues.

Since this initial blog came out I’ve been emailed multiple times by women who had challenging hormonal issues combined with infertility.  After adding the omega-3 fats women who had tried to become pregnant for 2-3 years were able to successfully conceive.  Many times infertility is caused by multiple issues.  Omega 3 fats are just one possible way to restore hormone balance.