Thursday, January 26, 2017

Estrogen Equilibrium: Seed Cycling for Hormone Harmony

As a clinic that focuses on promoting and supporting women's health at all ages, we encounter a variety of hormonal related issues such as:
  • Regulating an irregular/painful period
  • PMS
  • Acne
  • Difficulty conceiving and/or miscarriages 
  • Coping with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
  • Transitioning into menopause
What do all of these issues have in common? Hormone imbalance between estrogen and progesterone. Specifically, most women are dealing with estrogen dominance. Estrogen dominance often develops from excessive amounts of estrogen in our environment, called xenoestrogens. Examples of xenoestrogens:
  • Pesticides 
  • Cosmetics (parabens)
  • Plastic products (BPA, phthalates)
  • Hormonal birth control
In addition to the issues listed above, estrogen dominance due to xenoestrogens can lead to more serious issues like thyroid dysfunction or cancer of the breasts, ovaries, or uterus. 
So how can you help your body find balance? In addition to avoiding xenoestrogens where you can, a gentle, natural method is seed cycling. Seed cycling incorporates different seeds and oils into your diet during different phases of your menstrual cycle, which will help promote estrogen detoxification and progesterone production. Overall, helping to restore natural hormone balance in your body.

How to seed cycle:
  • Follicular Phase (Day 1-14): 
    • Flax seeds (ground) - 1 TBS
    • Pumpkin seeds (ground) - 1 TBS
    • Fish or Flax Oil - 2 capsules/2x day
  • Luteal Phase (Day 15-28):
    • Sunflower seeds (ground) - 1 TBS
    • Sesame seeds (ground) - 1 TBS
    • Evening Primrose Oil - 2 capsules/2x day
Getting started may feel overwhelming; however, you may be able to find all of this at your local grocer if they have a well stocked natural/organic section, but if not check your local co-op. Personally, I purchase Bob's Red Mill brand seeds and like Garden of Life or NOW brand as over the counter supplement options. I would recommend starting on Day 1 of your menstrual cycle. To simplify the process, grind your organic, raw seeds one to two days in advance and store them in the refrigerator to preserve the healthy properties. Then eat your mixed seeds (2 TBS) and take your oil supplements daily. I like to add my seeds to a smoothie, yogurt, or oatmeal. Avoid snacking on the whole seeds throughout the day, as it will decrease their efficacy. It takes time to balance your hormones and re-establish a healthy menstrual cycle; typically, three to four months. Therefore, it's important to be patient and gentle on yourself as you start making lifestyle changes that will impact your overall well-being. 

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Ooh Genes: MTHFR mutation



Our health is determined by two key factors, our genes and environment.  Genes are the blue print for our body and its function. We inherit two copies of each gene from our parents. Although, we all have different backgrounds studies have found there to be little variation in the human genome, less than one percent. The small difference in our DNA contribute to our unique features, both physically and mentally, as well as how we respond and adapt to our environment. Epigenetics is the study of how our environment alters our gene expression. We are exposed to a variety of chemical toxins, fillers, pollution, and negative thoughts on a daily basis. Our bodies are built to seek and destroy potential enemies; however, if our immune system is weakened and an enemy slips by or constantly bombarded by enemies it causes our defense and repair system to  go awry, which will cause changes in our DNA. Therefore, our overall health is influenced by the food we eat, nutrients we absorb, water we drink, air we breathe, and the thoughts we think.  These environmental stressors have the ability to turn on and off genes, thus making some people more prone to heart disease, depression, and breast cancer.

A common gene to be turned off is MTHFR. A healthy MTHFR gene is responsible for making a surplus of the enzyme methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR). The role of this enzyme is to convert folate (B9) active form L-methylfolate that is usable by the body.  L-methylfolate is essential in creating neurotransmitters, serotonin and dopamine, and neural tube development. Also, MTHFR is responsible for converting the amino acid homocysteine to methionine and glutathione. This conversion process is important for protein production, as well as disease prevention. 
The severity of MTHFR gene mutation is based on having one or two gene mutations. 

Conditions Associated with MTHFR Mutations:
  • Infertility
  • Miscarriages
  • Spina bifida
  • Depression
  • Schizophrenia
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Hypertension
  • Hyperlipidemia
  • Heart Disease
  • Cancer
  • Migraines
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Alzheimer Disease

MTHFR Tips:
  • Eat an Anti-Inflammatory Diet - Eliminating gluten, dairy, and processed foods will help decrease inflammation and toxins that the build up in the body. Eating organic vegetables and fruits, as well as limited grass fed, free range, antibiotic free meat and eggs will provide your body essential methylated nutrients and less toxins.
  • Eat a Plant Based Diet - Dark, leafy greens (i.e. kale, collard greens, spinach) and vegetables (i.e. asparagus and broccoli) contain methylated forms of folate. 
  • Support a Healthy Gut - One of the key functions of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract is to absorb nutrients. It is important to support this function by taking probiotics and eating prebiotics, fermented foods, and bone broth. 
  • Supplement with Methylated B vitamins: Supplementing with methylated folate (B9) and cobalamin (B12) is important because you are providing your body with the active, usable form of the vitamin. 
  • Avoid Environmental Toxins - MTHFR mutations decrease the body's ability to eliminate toxins; therefore, it is important to avoid environmental toxins (BPA, EDTA, phthalates, etc.), heavy metals, unfiltered water, cleaning products, and synthetic hormones.
  • Detoxing - With an impaired ability to eliminate toxins, it is important to support the body by  drinking water, taking detox baths, exercising, and dry brushing. 
Genetic testing is the only way to definitely determine if you have a MTHFR mutation.  However, eating a healthier diet, promoting gut and immune health, and eliminating environmental toxins will improve overall health and wellbeing.