Want Wrinkle Free Skin? Avoid Tanning Beds!

Monday, July 4, 2011 by Dr. Susan Lark
Think tanning beds are safer than laying out in the sun? Think again!

Just because you’re not actually out in the sun when you go to a tanning salon, the risks are just as real. The truth is, ultraviolet radiation is ultraviolet radiation, whether it comes from the sun or from a tanning bed, and there is no such thing as a “safe tan.”

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, “The use of indoor tanning beds before the age of 35 has been associated with a significant increase in the risk of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. Yet, more than 1 million Americans—70 percent of whom are girls and women—visit a tanning salon each day.” And new reports now state that the risk of melanoma from the use of tanning beds increases by an unbelievable 75 percent!

I know that most women believe that having “a little bit of color” makes them appear healthier. But the paler you are, the healthier your skin actually is…which means less risk of wrinkles (and who doesn't want a wrinkle free face!), premature aging, and skin cancer. I dare you to challenge the standard belief that tan=healthy. I encourage you to feel comfortable in your own skin and appreciate the natural tones and hues that make you so distinct.

Best Natural Anti Aging Skin Care for Lip Lines--Step 2

Monday, June 6, 2011 by Dr. Susan Lark
Step 2 for Wrinkle Free Skin Around the Lips--Eliminate UV Damage

The sun’s ultraviolet radiation is the most destructive factor in the premature aging of skin. In conventional dermatology, resurfacing procedures such as microdermabrasion, harsh chemical peels, and laser burning temporarily stimulate new skin production, just as a physical wound temporarily stimulates new tissue growth through the mechanism of inflammation. In my experience, however, there are ways to start filling and erasing the lip lines of sun damage without the pain of recovery.

First and foremost, if you are going to be outdoors for an extended period of time, use a sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays and has an SPF of 15 or more. You can also rejuvenate your skin’s youthful cellular activity level using infrared radiation (IR). Unlike the sun’s ultraviolet radiation, which can be aggressive and destructive, its IR is healing and rejuvenating. IR can penetrate tissues to a depth of more than nine inches without burning them.  My favorite IR therapies to rejuvenate aged facial skin include the DPL Therapy System. Use it for half an hour every day.

Detoxify Your Emotions

Monday, January 3, 2011 by Kimberly Day
Let’s face it…when you are stressed, angry, sad, or nervous, it’s written all over your face. (Not detoxify your emotionsexactly the best natural skin care.) And, over time, these emotions take a toll on your appearance, not to mention your health. That’s why you owe it to yourself to address the problems in your life that are causing you to age prematurely.

It is perfectly normal for feelings of grief, sadness, or resentment to surface during your detox. Acknowledge any feelings that arise, be grateful that they’ve come to the surface, and let them go.

Try these tips to create the calm, peaceful, and positive emotions that are so necessary for healthy liver function and detoxification. Over the years, I’ve found these tips to be very helpful in neutralizing my own toxic emotions, as well as those of various family members and friends.
  • Limit your exposure to toxic emotions in the environment. Several years ago, I made the decision to significantly limit my consumption of the news. The media—whether it’s television, radio, or newspaper—specializes in presenting the news with violent, fearful, and scary images and stories that contain very little that is inspiring and uplifting.
  • Limit your exposure to toxic people. We all have them in our lives. Those family members, friends, or co-workers who constantly complain, gossip, and point out the worst in people, places, things.  Too much of this toxic input can literally overwhelm your body’s ability to process and detoxify all the negativity, and can, in turn, significantly undermine your health, energy, and well-being.
  • Spend more time appreciating yourself. Women are notoriously hard on themselves. We are constantly criticizing ourselves for not being good enough, smart enough, beautiful enough, or thin enough. My women friends are always jokingly offering to give each other transplants of their most disliked body parts—usually the breasts, behinds, and stomachs—when they feel too large. Send positive messages to your body that reinforce your sense of self worth and self love.

For more information on detoxification, visit Dr. Lark’s Web site.

Reducing Your Belly Fat

Thursday, August 12, 2010 by Susan Lark
A recent study in the Archives of Internal Medicine (and reported in the media) reiterates what medical professionals already know--that belly fat is very dangerous and can lead to early mortality. Researchers found that even people with a normal body mass index (BMI) but larger-than-recommended waist circumference were at higher risk of premature death.

Once again, this is all the more reason to start a natural weight loss plan today. I've discussed this many times here on my blog and in my newsletter. You can also learn more about natural appetite control techniques, as well as supplements you can take to help you in your weight loss journey.

Of course, exercise is a critical component to every natural weight loss plan. Start now by taking a walk around the block! Some other excellent exercises include hiking, biking, dancing, tennis, yoga, and even gardening.

To learn more about natural weightloss techniques, visit my Website.

Estrogen Levels and the Pill

Thursday, May 6, 2010 by Kimberly Day
I was stunned to see the May 3rd issue of Time magazine. Their cover story was the 50th anniversary of the birth control pill. The subtitle read “So small, so powerful, and so misunderstood.” The misunderstood really grabbed my attention, as I expected to read a great discussion on the medical implications of taking “the pill.”

Instead, the article covered the social and feminist changes the pill brought about. As fascinating as this perspective was, I was shocked that they barely touched on the medical issues surrounding this form of birth control. In fact, the only real reference to the medical side of the pill was to a March 2010 study from the British Medical Journal, which found that “women on the Pill live longer and are less likely to die prematurely of all causes, including cancer and heart disease.” It goes on to read “yet many women still question whether the health risks outweigh the benefits.” However, the article never discusses those risks.

I found this particularly surprising, given that one of the March 2010 issues of the same publication discussed the study in detail, which explained that the study was on women who at taken the Pill “at some point in their lives.” Interestingly, the March Time article goes on to read “Women who take birth control pills do need to consider potential risks, including an increased risk for blood clots, and should discuss their medical histories with their doctors prior to taking the pill.”

Additionally, the author included advice from gynecologist and obstetrician Dr. Katharine O'Connell White, who told the magazine in an earlier article that “women who have high blood pressure, migraines with aura, are smokers over age 35 and women with a personal or family history of blood clots should not take the pill.” Where was all this discussion in the May article that was supposed to be discussion the “misunderstanding” of the Pill?

Clearly, the author of the May 3rd article was a proponent of the Pill and wanted to discuss the social impact it has had. I get that. However, I find it irresponsible to refer to the March study and not discuss the risks of taking the Pill.

What the author failed to discuss is the increased risk of breast, cervical, and uterine cancers from the Pill. Or the danger of developing blood clots or increasing your risk of heart attack. I personally cannot take the Pill because of a blood clotting disorder I have, and the increased estrogen levels the Pill provides worsens the condition. Plus, as Dr. Lark has written, the Pill can actually impair reproductive health—particularly in younger women with a poorly established menstrual cycle who use it as a PMS treatment.

Additionally, there is currently not a bioidentical birth control pill, which means that all oral contraception is comprised of synthetic hormones rather than your own natural female hormones. And, as we now know from traditional hormone replacement therapy, synthetic hormones are bad medicine for women.

So, while I appreciate the “freedom” and control the Pill has given to women, for me, the real freedom and control will come when we cease to use women as guinea pigs and start offering safe, natural solutions that women can trust.

Natural Beauty Food #8: Cucumbers

Thursday, April 1, 2010 by Kimberly Day
How many times have you heard to place sliced cucumbers on your eyes to reduce puffiness? Or to drink (or even make!) “spa water” with sliced cucumbers in filtered water. The reason? Cucumbers are high in silica.

Silica is a critical ingredient in healthy skin, hair, and nails, and it commonly declines with age. Studies show that daily silica supplementation significantly improves the condition of hair and nails. In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 48 women with fine hair, those in the group who took silica enjoyed significantly thicker, stronger hair.

Silica also helps reverse graying and is critical for healthy bone density, which helps explain why prematurely gray hair is linked with bone loss.

So, if your goal is natural anti aging skin care, you can’t go wrong with cucumber. Just be sure to leave the skin on, as the majority of silica is found in the skin. Other silica-containing foods include beets, soybeans, leafy green vegetables, and whole grains. Combined with cucumber, aim to make at least one of these natural skin care ingredients part of your food-based beauty plan every day.

Nutrient Support for Ovarian Cancer

Tuesday, September 8, 2009 by Kimberly Day

If you are have healthy estrogen levels or are in early menopause or premenopause, then you should quickly make lycopene your close and personal friend. A fascinating study from the International Journal of Cancer found that high carotene intake, especially a diet high in lycopene, significantly reduced the risk of ovarian cancer in premenopausal women. Investigators suggested that consumption of fruits, vegetables, and food items high in carotene and lycopene, particularly raw carrots and tomato sauce, may reduce the risk of ovarian cancer.

To reap these benefits, aim for 10 servings of cooked tomatoes or tomato products every week. Just be sure to mix the tomatoes in an oil base, such as olive oil, to enhance lycopene absorption.

If you do not want to eat this much tomato-based food, or you simply dislike their taste, then lycopene supplements are a good alternative. Dr. Lark recommends taking 5–10 mg per day. Lycopene is available in most health food stores.

Unfortunately, lycopene does not confer the same protection against ovarian cancer in postmenopausal women that it does in younger women. Luckily, foods high in alpha-carotene and alpha-carotene supplements have been found to significantly reduce the risk of the disease in postmenopausal women.

And, animal studies have shown alpha-carotene is 10 times more effective than beta-carotene in suppressing lung, liver, and skin cancer, while other research has found that the nutrient is 38 percent stronger in antioxidant activity than beta-carotene.

Foods highest in alpha-carotene are carrots, corn, squash, watermelons, green peppers, potatoes, apples, peaches, and leafy green vegetables. If you prefer a supplement, Dr. Lark suggests taking 25,000 IU of mixed carotenoids that contain a blend of both alpha- and beta-carotene.

Alleviating a Troublesome Effect of Menopause: Vaginal Dryness

Friday, September 4, 2009 by Susan Lark

When you think about menopause symptoms, probably the first ones that come to mind are menopausal hot flashes and night sweats because they are the most common complaints. But vaginal dryness is just as troublesome...and fortunately, very treatable. 

With menopause, estrogen levels decline and the vaginal lining thins and loses some of its lubrication-producing mucus glands. The reason is simple: After menopause, the vagina no longer needs to be tough enough for childbirth. However, while the fluctuating hormones that occur during early menopause can create excessive vaginal dryness, the good news is that it’s temporary. Here is what you can do to alleviate this menopause symptom naturally:

  • Exercise at least four times a week, if not every day. Regular exercise improves blood supply to the entire body (including the vagina), not just by pumping more blood to the tissues, but also by stimulating new capillary growth. 
  • Avoid anything that can irritate the delicate vaginal tissues, including douches, perfumed soaps, hygiene products, and chlorinated pools or hot tubs. 
  • Include plenty of foods in your diet that are rich in naturally lubricating essential fatty acids, such as wild-caught salmon and mackerel, raw sesame seeds and sunflower seeds, raw nuts, and flax. Flax is particularly helpful because it’s a phytoestrogen—meaning it’s chemically and functionally similar to estradiol, a woman’s most prominent natural estrogen. Therefore, phytoestrogens have estrogenic and estrogen-balancing effects. I suggest 4–6 tablespoons of ground flaxseed once or twice a day.
  • Black cohosh is another supplement that many of my patients have found can help naturally boost vaginal moisture—and also relieve menopause hot flashes and night sweats, as well. I suggest taking 40–80 mg of a standardized extract of black cohosh twice a day. This dose should contain 2–4 mg of the active component triterpenes, calculated as 27-deoxyacteine.
  • Consider natural hormones, like prescription estriol cream. Extensive research has shown that, when used vaginally, this bioidentical estrogen remains almost totally localized to the vaginal tissues. Most women notice a difference within a month, but continued improvement often builds for several months. Estriol is made to order at compounding pharmacies.

Dietary Support for Ovarian Cancer

Thursday, September 3, 2009 by Kimberly Day

When it comes to ovarian cancer prevention, there are definitely categories of foods that you should avoid, namely caffeine, dairy products, and red meat. In the case of caffeine, several studies have shown a connection between regular caffeine intake and cancers of the reproductive system. For example, in one study from the September 2000 issue of the International Journal of Cancer, researchers compared the coffee intake of 549 women who had been newly diagnosed with ovarian cancer with that of 516 women without the disease. They found that the consumption of coffee, and caffeine in general, was linked to an increased risk of ovarian cancer in women in early menopause or premenopause.

Similarly, dairy products and red meat can also increase your risk for ovarian cancer. According to a 2003 study, also from the International Journal of Cancer, women who consumed more dairy products and red and white meat were at increased risk for ovarian cancer. Most likely, it is the saturated fats found in these two food groups that put women at high risk for the disease, as they elevate estrogen levels. And, as I wrote about earlier, elevated estrogen levels can lead to or contribute to one of the biggest risk factors for ovarian cancer—estrogen dominance.

In addition to avoiding certain foods, there are others you should strive to eat more often. These include cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, etc.). In a study from the International Journal of Cancer, researchers looked at the frequency with which 609 ovarian cancer survivors in three Australian states ate certain foods and took certain supplements. They found a "survival advantage" in those women who consumed more vegetables in general, especially cruciferous vegetables. They also observed a significant advantage among those women in the upper third of vitamin E intake.

A second study found that vitamin E is not alone in its cancer-fighting benefits. In a 2001 study from Nutrition of Cancer, researchers asked 168 women with ovarian cancer and more than 200 cancer-free women to record their intake of specific foods and supplements. They found that women who took in more than 363 mg of vitamin C a day had a 40 percent lower risk for developing ovarian cancer, while women whose daily intake of vitamin E exceeded 75 mg had a 33 percent decreased risk for the disease.

A 2002 study from the same journal confirmed this conclusion. Researchers found that supplementing with vitamins C and E did indeed appear to significantly decrease the risk of ovarian cancer by about 50 percent.

The bottom line? To help avoid ovarian cancer, avoid caffeine, red meat, and dairy products. You can also increase your consumption of foods high in vitamins C and E, as well as cruciferous vegetables. These include: wheat germ oil, sunflower seeds, almonds and almond butter, and flaxseed and flaxseed oil (all high in vitamin E). For those high in vitamin C, aim for any fruit, tomatoes, red bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, celery, and avocado. Finally, your cruciferous veggies include broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, collard greens, bok choy, watercress, radish, and mustard seed.

Am I Experiencing Early Menopause?

Monday, August 24, 2009 by Lauren Kent
"Am I going through early menopause"? That was the question I was asking myself one year ago today (which also happens to be my birthday). I had delivered my 2nd child, Alexis, a few weeks earlier, and had started experiencing horrible night sweats nearly every night. Luckily, the menopause symptoms were solely at night. I wasn't having hot flashes during the day. Since I never experienced night sweats after my first child was born, I had started to wonder if I might be going into menopause... at the age of 36.

I consulted a dear mommy friend of mine who was actually surprised that I didn't get night sweats after my first pregnancy. Evidently, post-partum sweating, especially at night, is quite common. Sweating is one of the ways your body gets rid of the extra water retained during pregnancy. It's also possible that the drop in estrogen that occurs right after delivery contributes to the night sweats. Who knew?

So, here I am, one year later, no longer having the night sweats, but knowing that menopause will come one day. Luckily, for all of us, there are now natural solutions for menopause relief. We do not need to suffer like our mothers once did. And, we certainly don't need to put ourselves at risk with hormone replacement therapy.

DHEA for Healthy Weight Loss

Friday, August 14, 2009 by Kimberly Day
DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) is one of the primary female hormones that is very important marker of aging. Research studies suggest that it is a veritable “fountain of youth” when DHEA levels are balanced and healthy in the body.

DHEA works at many levels in your body, supporting physical as well as mental and emotional functions. For example, it has been shown to lessen menopause symptoms, as well as reduce body fat.

One of the ways DHEA helps support a natural healthy weight loss is that it can influence the changes in weight and body composition that occur over time. Some researchers suggest that DHEA may decrease body fat by blocking the synthesis of fatty acids, which eventually become body fat. Others have noted that DHEA can act as an appetite suppressant and dampen the desire for fatty foods. As the DHEA story unfolds, dieters may someday find that DHEA can be an integral part of a natural weight loss plan.

In fact, in one study published in the International Journal of Obesity, 19 dogs were given increasing doses of DHEA daily. Over the six months of the study, 68 percent of these animals lost an average of three percent of their total body weight each month, without any reduction in food intake. This suggests that DHEA may affect metabolism, the process by which food is turned into energy, causing more calories to be used.

Similarly, a study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism monitored 10 men for body fat. The men, in their early 20’s and matched for weight, were divided into two groups. One group was treated with DHEA, a 400 mg dosage four times a day for 28 days, and the other group was left untreated. The men reported no changes in their regular activities or diet. At the end of the treatment period, it was found that among the five men receiving DHEA, their average percentage of body fat dropped 31 percent. However, there was no drop in weight, suggesting that while there was a decline in fat, muscle mass increased. No change in these measurements occurred in the untreated men.

Supplementing With DHEA

While DHEA is certainly an effective natural remedy for weight loos, it is not for everyone. According to Dr. Lark, DHEA supplementation may be most beneficial for women after menopause. Beginning dosages should range from 5–15 mg a day, then be increased by 5–10 mg a day, as needed. DHEA dosages in women should not exceed 25 mg per day.

Conversely, there is no reason for women who are in premenopause or early menopause to consider taking DHEA replacement therapy. Similarly, women with normal menstrual cycles have no need for supplementing with DHEA since their bodies are making sufficient amounts of this hormone.

If you are in the later stages of menopause and decide to try DHEA, take with food. You should also take DHEA in the morning, to reflect your body’s own production of the hormone by the adrenal glands. Plus, if you take it later in the day, it can have a stimulating effect and sometimes causes insomnia.

Note: DHEA is best used under a doctor’s care. If you elect to use DHEA without a physician’s guidance, buy the lowest-dose products available in your health food store or pharmacy, begin to use it cautiously, and do not go above 25 mg without the guidance and oversight of a physician.

Sensational Summer Smoothies

Friday, August 7, 2009 by Kimberly Day
Every morning, I make up a smoothie for breakfast, so I often make the assumption that everyone has a favorite smoothie recipe up their sleeve. And you know what they say about assumptions!

To avoid being that proverbial, er, assumer, here are two fantastic smoothie recipes, each designed for your particular hormone type.

Women With Excess Estrogen Levels

This recipe is great for women with estrogen dominance, as well as those who are in premenopause or early menopause. Not only will it help to reduce estrogen levels, but it can also promote healthy weight loss by increasing fiber!

Berry Heavenly
Serves 1

1 cup almond milk
3 tablespoons ground flaxseed
½ cup frozen strawberries
½ cup frozen blueberries

1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.
2. Serve chilled.

Women with Decreased Estrogen Levels

This recipe is a delicious way to cool the fires of menopause symptoms such as night sweats and hot flashes. Plus, the soy can help to ease other menopause problems like dry skin and other cosmetic signs of menopause.

Mango Banana Smoothie
Serves 2

1½ cups soy milk
3 tablespoons ground flaxseed
¾ cup aloe vera juice
¾ cup frozen mangos
1 banana

1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.
2. Serve chilled.

Does Melatonin Increase or Cause Depression?

Thursday, July 30, 2009 by Kimberly Day

“Corby” asked a question related to my post about the use of melatonin for insomnia. The questions was does melatonin increase or cause depression. The short answer is…maybe, but not likely.

Several studies have confirmed that people who suffer from depression have low levels of melatonin (Lancet, 1979) (Biol Psychiatry, 1984). Other studies have linked depression to a delayed melatonin cycle (Psychoneuroendocrinology, 2004).

Melatonin is produced from serotonin and secreted by the pineal gland. Its secretion takes place at night and is inhibited by light. As such, it sets and regulates the timing of your body’s natural circadian rhythms, such as waking and sleeping. When this cycle is delayed, depression and depressive symptoms can occur.

This cycle is particularly affected during early menopause and, in fact, during all stages of menopause. As you get older, you produce less and less melatonin. Melatonin is produced from serotonin, and serotonin production is stimulated by estrogen. Low estrogen levels equates to low serotonin, which results in low melatonin.

As you can imagine, there is research to suggest that taking supplemental melatonin can help treat mild depression (Psychiatry Research, January 1998), including depression related to menopause and even premenopause. However, there are a few studies that have shown that melatonin can have a negative effect on depression (J Psychiatry, 1976).

Though the studies are small in scope and often include a small number of trial participants, it is always best to err on the side of caution. As the University of Maryland Medical Center advises, “Melatonin should be used with caution in people with depression and should be appropriately timed with…sleep-phase changes. Disruption of normal circadian rhythm by poorly timed melatonin administration may worsen depression."

EFAs: Your Hormones’ Secret Weapons

Friday, May 22, 2009 by Kimberly Day

Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are health-promoting nutrients that your body needs to perform a whole range of functions. Premenopause women or those in early menopause will find that proper amounts of EFAs will help to reduce the inflammation and pain seen in conditions such as endometriosis and menstrual cramps. 

Women who are in menopause need EFAs to prevent a wide range of health concerns, including heart disease and breast cancer. These incredible healthy fats also provide moisture to tissues of the skin, vagina, and bladder, as well as the hair.

 In fact, a study published in the British Medical Journal found that women who consumed foods rich in EFAs enjoyed greater vaginal lubrication and tissue thickness. Over a six-week period, researchers took smears from the vaginal wall every two weeks to see if the addition of these types of foods would cause a beneficial hormonal effect on the vagina. Typically, the vaginal mucosa thins out and becomes more prone to trauma and infections as the estrogen level drops with menopause. Interestingly, the vaginal mucosa responded significantly to the additional ingestion of flaxseed oil and soy flour, but returned to previous levels eight weeks after these foods were discontinued and the women went back to their usual diet.

If you are in early menopause or premenopause or suffer from menopause symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats, you should definitely up your intake of EFAs.

There are several different types of EFAs, but the two main categories include omega-3 fatty acids—eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)—and omega-6 fatty acids (linoleic acid).

Omega-3 EFAs consist primarily of EPA and DHA. EPAs are your heart-healthy fats. They also promote beautiful, healthy skin, hormonal balance, and immune function. EPA also makes serotonin, the “happy” neurotransmitter. DHA, on the other hand, is a natural brain booster. Your brain needs DHA to create healthy nerve cell membranes. Your brain uses nerve cells for mood, attention, and memory. 

Two of the best sources of omega-3 EFAs are flaxseed and fish. (Other good sources include soybean, hemp powder, walnuts, canola oil, eggs, organ meats, and some forms of algae.) In the case of flaxseed, both the oil and the ground meal are rich in EFAs.

When it comes to fish, I recommend cold-water choices such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel. The colder the water a fish lives in, the more omega-3 its body requires and possesses, simply to keep it warm enough.

With omega-6 fatty acids, there are three main types: linoleic acid (LA), arachidonic acid (AA), and gamma linolenic acid (GLA). You only need to supplement with GLA, because you likely get enough of the other omega-6 fatty acids through your regular diet. However, the stress of daily life (as well as poor nutrition, alcohol, chemical carcinogens, cholesterol, saturated fats and low levels of some vitamins), may prevent your body from turning linoleic acid into GLA.

The reason GLA is particularly important for women is that it is converted into inflammation-fighting prostaglandins that help ease menopause symptoms such as depression and breast tenderness. They also help balance blood sugar and may also play a role in preventing certain cancers.

The best food sources of omega-6 fatty acids are whole grains, seeds, and vegetable oils. Other oils such as evening primrose, borage, and black currant are especially rich stores of GLA. If you would prefer to take a supplement, try 3,000–4,000 mg of evening primrose oil per day.

Ideally, you want to aim for a balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, somewhere in the 4:1 and a 1:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids. To achieve this, up your intake of fish, nuts, and seeds (especially flaxseed), and decrease your consumption of red meat and dairy products, which are high in linoleic and arachidonic acids.

Menopause, Metabolism, and Weight Gain

Monday, February 23, 2009 by Susan Lark

Often, when women reach menopause, they experience weight gain. You can thank a slowing metabolism for this! Even if you have followed a healthy diet and have exercised regularly your whole life, after menopause, you need to make adjustments to both if you want to keep the weight off. There are three steps to boost your metabolism in early menopause and beyond:

1. Sweat more. When your daily exercise becomes routine, your body condition adjusts to it and allows your metabolism to slide into autopilot. But if you increase the intensity of your workout so that it’s challenging again, you’ll boost your metabolism and lose weight, even if your new workout burns the same number of calories. So increase the intensity, and you’ll boost your weight loss.

2. Pump some iron. By middle age, most women progressively lose muscle and gain fat mass. Because it takes significantly less fuel to feed and maintain fat mass, you can eat the same number of calories and engage in the same amount of physical activity as you did 10 years ago, and still gain weight.

Strength training helps retrieve some of the muscle you’ve lost and automatically increases your daily calorie burn, even on days when you’re not active. Why? Because, as you’ve probably heard time and time again, muscle consumes more fuel than fat. All you have to do is challenge your muscles more than they’re currently being challenged. For instance, if you’re using 5-lb. weights, move up to 8-lb. weights. As your condition improves, either increase the intensity of your workout or change your routine so that you’re working different muscle groups.

3. Add these nutrients, which boost metabolism:
• Brewer’s yeast contains anti-aging enzymes called sirtuins, which boost metabolism and stamina. I recommend Jarrow Formula’s Saccharomyces Boulardii + MOS (www.jarrow.com).
• Resveratrol is a sirtuin activator. I recommend 200 mg of resveratrol, standardized to at least 8 percent total resveratrols and mixed with flavonoids for better bioavailability. I like Jarrow Formula’s Resveratrol Synergy

Supplements for Fibroid Relief

Monday, January 12, 2009 by Susan Lark

In a previous post, I discussed a common perimenopause symptom: fibroids. I also told you how to use diet to control this problem that’s so common in early menopause. Today, I am going to give you some supplements that can reduce fibroids and their symptoms.

Nutritional supplements can help balance hormones and reduce estrogen levels. When used properly, they can dramatically reduce bleeding, pain, and cramps that may accompany fibroids. In particular, I suggest using:

• B-Complex Vitamins—help regulate estrogen levels and reduce menstrual cramps. I recommend taking 50–100 mg of B-complex vitamins daily, with an additional dose of 50–100 mg of vitamin B6 (not more than 100 mg total of B6), which has been shown to be particularly helpful in reducing menstrual cramps, fluid retention, weight gain, and fatigue.

• Vitex (Chaste Tree Berry)—normalizes the secretion of hormones and helps bring estrogen and progesterone into balance. I recommend taking 40 mg once or twice a day.

• Vitamin C and bioflavonoids—work to build collagen and strengthen blood vessels, while promoting normal estrogen production and blocking its fibroid-stimulating effects. I suggest taking 1,000 to 5,000 mg of a mineral-buffered vitamin C and 750-2,000 mg bioflavonoids daily, in divided doses (choose a product with additional rutin, a potent bioflavonoid derived from alkaline buckwheat, rather than naringin, an acidic, grapefruit-derived bioflavonoid). With both nutrients, start at the low end of the dosage range and work your way up.

• Vitamin A—a study of 71 women found that those with excessive bleeding had significantly lower blood levels of vitamin A than the normal population. I suggest taking 5,500 IU of vitamin A, as beta-carotene, per day.

Do You Produce Enough Progesterone?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008 by Susan Lark

Progesterone's job in your body is to balance the effects of estrogen. Where estrogen is growth stimulating, progesterone is growth limiting. Estrogen is mood elevating; progesterone has a sedative effect on mood. One of progesterone's tasks is to prevent menstrual bleeding from becoming too profuse or long lasting (a symptom common with estrogen dominance). Often, progesterone is often combined with estrogen replacement therapy to control perimenopause symptoms and to provide menopause relief.

If you’re in early menopause (or premenopause), here's a checklist to help you find out if your body produces enough progesterone. If two of these symptoms apply to you, you may benefit from natural progesterone replacement.

o My sleep quality is poor.
o I am often unable to concentrate.
o I'm unable to remain calm under stress.
o I suffer from PMS.
o I'm over 50.
o I'm in perimenopause or early menopause.
o I have a decreased interest in sex.
o I have heavy, irregular bleeding.
o I have premenstrual bloating or swollen breasts.

Most of my patients tend to prefer natural progesterone cream, which is available without a prescription. A typical dosage of natural progesterone cream is 20 mg a day or one-quarter to one-half teaspoon amounts applied to any clean area of the skin twice a day. Look for a product that contains 400 – 600 mg of progesterone per ounce like Pro-Gest or Fem-Gest.

Gingerbread for Premenopause?

Thursday, December 18, 2008 by Kimberly Day

As I wrote in my blog back in early November, there are several spices that are particularly beneficial for women in early menopause or premenopause. These spices—namely ginger and cinnamon—can help to ease perimenopause symptoms. Not to mention, they taste fabulous!

The best way I know to stay in delicious hormonal balance is to incorporate these spices into your life. And what could be a tastier way to enjoy these spices than gingerbread!

Nothing says "Happy Holidays" to me quite like the smell of gingerbread baking. So, my gift to you this season, is a healthy version of my mother’s amazing gingerbread.

You can find this recipe and others like it (including several for women suffering from menopause symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats) in Hormone Revolution.

Serves 9

½ cup canola oil
½ cup erythritol
1 egg
½ cup light molasses
1 ½ cups Pamela’s wheat-free baking mix
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon ginger
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup boiling water

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F
  2. Cream oil and erythritol for 30-45 seconds.
  3. Add egg and molasses and beat thoroughly.
  4. In a separate bowl, sift together baking mix, salt, baking soda, ginger, and cinnamon.
  5. Add dry ingredients to egg mixture, alternating with boil water, until well blended.
  6. Pour mixture into a lightly greased 8x8 pan and bake for 40 minutes, or until toothpick, comes out clean.
  7. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Six Degrees of Happiness

Tuesday, December 9, 2008 by Kimberly Day

Growing up, my mother used to constantly remind me that “birds of a feather flock together.” Considering my group of friends, this was a good thing. I had (and still have) great friends in grade school, high school, college, and beyond…people I was proud to be associated with.

As it turns out, there is something to this “birds of a feather” theory. A study published last week in the British Medical Journal found that the people you surround yourself with can have a direct and profound effect on your happiness. According to researchers James Fowler and Nicholas Christakis, “People’s happiness depends on the happiness of others with whom they are connected.”

After mapping the social interactions of nearly 5,000 people aged 21 to 70, discovered that when someone expresses happiness, their friend experiences a 25 percent increased chance of catching the happiness bug. And that friend’s friend has a 9.8 percent chance of becoming happy. And even the friend of that second friend as a 5.6 percent chance of getting the happiness virus.

Pretty cool, right? But what, you may be asking, does this have to do with hormone health? I mean, how on earth can giggling help hot flashes or night sweats? The answer is that it actually can.

As Dr. Lark and I wrote in Hormone Revolution, there is a very large and very real connection between hormone health and positive emotions. Thousands of studies have shown that what you do with your mind and emotions has a powerful effect on your health. One study in particular has always resonated with me.

Researchers looked at the longevity of a group of Catholic nuns from Milwaukee. The sisters ate, lived, slept together for years. They had the same daily routine, taught in the same school, had the same financial situation, received the same medical care, etc. Given this unique set of circumstances, researchers decided to evaluate the connection between happiness and longevity.

They looked at writings the sisters did prior to taking their vows. They divided the writings and their respective authors into different classifications based on the levels of joy and satisfaction expressed in the letters. They found that 90 percent of those sisters whose writings fell into the “most happy” category were still alive at age 85 or older. Conversely, just 34 percent of those sisters who writings fell into the “least happy” category lived to be 85.

In the past, Dr. Lark has written about positive thinking and emotions helping women deal with menopause symptoms and ease the discomfort of many perimenopause symptoms, including fibroids and endometriosis. I can tell you firsthand that nothing eases cramps and PMS symptoms like my favorite comedy and a good laugh. And I have many, many friends that have brushed off concerns of early menopause with a self-deprecating joke or two. Come to think of it, there isn’t much that good friends and a good laugh can’t make better.

Clearly there is something to this happiness thing. Not only does happiness translate to a longer life span, but it seems to be viral, infecting those around you and those around them. It’s like an emotional flu!

Now that’s one virus I’d be glad to catch…and pass on.

Hormone Health Made Easy

Tuesday, December 2, 2008 by Kimberly Day

I can’t believe it is December already! It seems like we went from the fourth of July directly to Thanksgiving and no pause in between.

Once Thanksgiving hits, I tend to be a rollercoaster of work, family, and event obligations…all of which lead to stress, late hours, and, often, no thought to what I’m eating, let alone eating for my hormone type.

So, this year, I decided to make it easy on myself. I came up with three easy breakfasts that I could grab-and-go. I also made a standing grocery list so I could be sure I always had easy, yet healthy, foods on hand.

And to make it easier for you too this holiday season, I’ve listed the breakfasts that work for me, and anyone else that is estrogen dominant, in early menopause or premenopause, or those suffering from perimenopause symptoms. I’ve also included three simple breakfast options for those of you who are estrogen deficient and may be suffering from menopause symptoms such as hot flashes or night sweats.

Easy Breakfast Options (Estrogen Dominant/Premenopause)

  • Plain soy or coconut milk yogurt with fresh berries and two tablespoons flaxsee
  • A hard-boiled, organic egg with a cup of pineapple
  • A high-protein, high-fiber snack bar (Ruth’s Maca bar or Zoe’s Peanut Butter bar)

Easy Breakfast Options (Estrogen Deficient/Menopause)

  • Whole-grain oatmeal with mango and two tablespoons of flaxseed
  • Wheat-free flaxseed bread (Glutino brand) with almond butter and a cup of papaya
  • Wheat-free granola with soy milk and banana

Must-Have Grocery List

To make the holidays even easier, print out the following grocery list and take it to the store with you. Keeping these staples on hand make meals (and your hormone health) a breeze…no matter what your hormone type!

  • Brown rice
  • Raw almonds and/or walnuts
  • Soy or almond milk
  • Almond butter
  • Green and/or herbal tea
  • Olive oil
  • Canned wild tuna and/or salmon
  • Bagged organic lettuce
  • Ground flaxseed
  • Fresh fruits and pre-cup vegetables
  • Soy or coconut milk yogurt
  • Snack bars
  • Amy’s frozen entrees
  • Imagine soups