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The microbiome shows distinct differences in pre and post menopausal women, a 2019 study reports.
The change in microbiome could help us better understand the reasons for health decline in many post-menopausal women. The presence of estrogen protects against cardiovascular, metabolic disease and bone health. Now mounting evidence shows how the gut microbiota affects estrogen metabolism levels. It is unclear if the post-menopausal decline in estrogen is directly related to the change in diversity of the microbiome. We do know that estrogen hold some regulatory capacity in the immune system and more than 70% of the immune system resides in the gut.
Additionally, probiotics can help in bone mineral matrix as the microbes in the gut are responsible for secreting a host of metabolites into the blood stream. Aging women tend to have more Tolumonas microbes. These particular bacterium produce toluene which can reduce bone mineral density.
Some evidence that compares the microbiome of the pre and post menopausal women showed that the bacteria seemed to be more satisfied in the earlier years and tend to compete with each other for nutrient substrates in later years. A decline in estrogen after menopause could increase the bacterial demand for calcium.
Post-menopausal women have a microbiome that produces more cysteine and homocysteine. These components absorb across the small intestine into the blood stream and pose as risk factors for cardiovascular disease. You can take a lab test to measure you homocysteine levels.
It is important to uphold a diverse microbiome to keep the immune system healthy and strong. Older women have higher levels of E.coli and Bacteroides and lower levels of bacteria in the Firmicutes family. Younger women have more Roseburia and less Parabacteroides. The ratios of these microbes in older women links to metabolic and endocrine disorders.
Probiotics for anti-aging
This might be all Greek to you and me, (actually the names of all these critters are in Latin), but the take away is pretty cool. Some of the difference found between pre and post menopausal individuals may provide leadership into the field of anti-aging with probiotic therapy.
Hui ZhaoJuanjuan ChenXiaoping LiQiang SunPanpan QinQi Wang Compositional and functional features of the female premenopausal and postmenopausal gut microbiota. First published: 05 July 2019 https://doi.org/10.1002/1873-3468.13527
It’s that time of the year! Fall is always a busy season with everyone heading back to their routines after a relaxing summer. With the drastic changes in temperature outside it is only a matter of time before we see colds and flus everywhere. At this time of the year, it’s important to support our immune systems and prepare our bodies for a cold winter season.
Here are some simple ways that you can support your body’s immune system.
Good hygiene: Wash your hands frequently, especially before eating and after touching public surfaces (like door handles). If you do happen to catch a virus, sneeze into your elbow (not your hands) to prevent spreading germs to others.
Hydration: Drinking enough water is always important to keep our bodies working their best.
Sleep: There is a well known association showing that those of us who are not getting adequate sleep tend to get sick more often.
Nutrient dense foods: We all know that consuming plenty of fruits and veggies is important for our health. Did you know that choosing warming foods such as ginger, spices and garlic can help your body withstand the switch to cooler temperatures? Eating plenty of warming foods during the change in season is common practice in Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Supplements: There are plenty of important vitamins and minerals that can be taken in supplemental form to help support our body’s natural immunity. While these supplements are widely available, it is important to speak with your naturopathic doctor to choose the right product and dose for you.
Vulnerable populations with long term unmanaged blood sugar levels are subject to brain atrophy (shrinkage) and accelerated brain changes including memory loss and cognitive decline.
Vulnerable populations with long term unmanaged blood sugar levels are subject to accelerated brain changes including memory loss and cognitive decline.
Who’s most at risk?
Most at risk are those with Diabetes type I and II monitor sugar regularly and those with metabolic syndrome or cardiovascular disease.
But that’s not all.
Anyone with long term fluctuating blood sugar levels could be at risk for cognitive decline. So those with chronic stress are also at risk. Stress elevates cortisol, which subsequently activates sugar into the blood stream. This is really helpful when we need the energy to physically run from the tiger. However, in our day in age, the tiger is more likely to be the boss, the lack of sleep, the poor diet, or the overscheduled. Stress, namely long-term cortisol release, affects the microbiome. Certain drugs like antibiotics and oral birth control pills can also change the microbiome. Shifts in populations of gut bacteria can evidently impact blood glucose regulation. Overgrowth of candida can make us crave sugars and leave us in a state of flux or what we have now termed “hangry”.
If you are the hangry type, you likely have issues with blood sugar.
A state of blood sugar surges and crashes overtime will lead to unfortunate hippocampus affects, namely sugar induced shrinkage and memory challenges.
Those at risk:
- long term fluctuating blood sugar levels
- history of oral birth control use
- history of antibiotic use
- diabetic patients on metformin
- elevated cortisol
- chronic stress
- poor diet
- lack of moderate regular exercise
- disrupted sleep patterns
What’s a healthy blood sugar level?
Guidelines for healthy levels are subject to some interpretation, however from a functional medicine point of view, HbA1c should be between 4.6 and 5.3% and fasting blood sugar levels are healthiest around 4-6mmol/L. Note that those with red blood cell disease like sickle cell anemia, which change the shape of the blood cell, HbA1c is not a reliable marker and other markers like triglycerides, and fasting blood sugar levels must be taken into account.
Protect your brain
Protect memory and cognition with adequate blood supply, high levels ofanthocyanins, appropriate levels of B vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids and a diet low in sugar and high in fibre, protein and healthy fats. Caution with drugs like metformin, which help regulate blood sugar in diabetics and is associated with cognitive decline. Apparently, this could be due to a number of factors, and not just the drug directly; it is therefore important to monitor B2 (riboflavin), B6, B12 when on metformin.
It is important to include in the diet:
- high levels of anthocyanins
- plant powers found in dark blue and purple fruits and vegetables
- consistent intake of B-vitamins
- egg yolks, red meat, liver, clams, mussels, avocados and dark leafy greens
- daily dose of omega-3 essential fatty acids
- cold water fatty fish like salmon and sardines
- flax, hemp and walnut
Is diet alone enough?
Is diet enough to keep up with the demands of cognitive decline? It is difficult to know as diets of many individuals need to be followed for years and it is difficult to control what people eat on a daily basis for any length of time. First and fore most get what you can from the diet, yes, this is critical as the body knows best how to get nutrients from food. Insulin sensitivity is an important factor in blood glucose regulation and a short-term keto diet and or fasting is proven to be effective method to reset it.
Reduce the risk factors as indicated above and get help to re-set the microbiome. That means create a sleep routine where you go to bed and wake up at the same time every night. Move your body every day for about 30 minutes. It means to have space in the day that is not filled with tasks and demands. Take appropriate supplements where diet falls short or medications deplete.
Memory and cognition decline over time. It doesn’t happen overnight. So too should your changes and lifestyle reflect a long-term plan. If you feel you need help, Naturopathic Doctors are trained in lifestyle and laboratory analysis, diet, nutrition and nutraceuticals.
Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND is a registered naturopathic doctor with a functional medicine approach. She has advanced training in pharmaceuticals, is a certified HeartMath Practitioner and a Certified Gluten Free Practitioner and holds the designation of ADAPT Trained Practitioner from Kresser Institute, the only functional medicine and ancestral health training company.
Cui X, Abduljalil A, Manor BD, Peng CK, Novak V. Multi-scale glycemic variability: a link to gray matter atrophy and cognitive decline in type 2 diabetes. PLoS One. 2014;9(1):e86284. Published 2014 Jan 24. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0086284
Zhao X, Han Q, Lv Y, Sun L, Gang X, Wang G. Biomarkers for cognitive decline in patients with diabetes mellitus: evidence from clinical studies. Oncotarget. 2017;9(7):7710–7726. Published 2017 Dec 14. doi:10.18632/oncotarget.23284
There are several health benefits associated with increasing lean mass:
Greater basal metabolic rate (amount of energy you use at rest): This means that you use more calories each day which will likely result in decreased fat mass.
Protein reservoir for your immune system: When you get sick your immune system needs significant amounts of protein to help you fight infection. Getting enough from your diet is tough, so your body can pull protein from your muscle in order to create the immune cells that you need.
Bone Health: Adequate muscle mass can help to improve bone density and strength as we age, preventing osteoporosis and decreasing the risk of debilitating bone breaks.
Improves insulin resistance: a study at UCLA school of medicine even found that increasing lean muscle mass by 10% led to an 11% decrease in insulin resistance. (PMID: 21778224)
What is the best way to increase your lean muscle mass?
Start with Resistance/Strength training:
We have all heard the saying “Use it or Lose it”, and it is no different for our muscles. Strength training at least twice a week is important to build and maintain muscle mass. It is important to focus on all the different muscle groups, and remember that the larger the muscle is, the more fuel it will use at rest. Always remember to give your muscles a break between sessions. This is why many people will rotate leg days and arm day. The rest period is very important as it allows your muscles to repair and grow between sessions.
Don’t forget cardio!
Moderate aerobic exercise can help to decrease fat mass, but by ensuring that our hearts are pumping we also improve the delivery of essential nutrients to our muscles. This can help with healing after heavy lifting. Overdoing it with cardio can have detrimental effects on lean mass as well. If we aren’t fueling our bodies adequately, muscle is broken down to fuel our cardiovascular exercise. It is always important to ensure proper nutrition .
There are multiple studies that have shown that when combined with resistance training, increasing protein intake leads to a significant improvement in body composition by increasing lean muscle mass. Athletes and active individuals have a higher protein demand than sedentary individuals, so it is important to ensure you are getting enough. Most of the recent studies have also shown that consuming significantly higher amounts of protein than the recommended intake will not have the detrimental effects on weight gain or kidney function as was originally believed. Of course, it is still important that you consult a healthcare provider before consuming very large amounts of protein to ensure that it is something that will work for you, especially if you have a pre-existing medical condition.
Address underlying causes of Inflammation:
One of the most important things that we can do for our bodies (and our figures) is to remove any obstacles that may be preventing us from reaching optimal health. These could be things like correcting hormonal imbalances or promoting a healthy digestive system. It is very important to understand and address why we may be having trouble losing weight or gaining muscle, so that we can look and feel our best.
If you are interested in learning more about increasing muscle mass, losing fat or simply just feeling better every day, now is the time to start! To book an appointment with Dr. Kaitlyn Richardson, ND call 519.826.7973 or book online.
Are imbalances in your brain chemicals and hormones affecting your sleep, work and pleasure in life?
Check each of the following that apply to you:
- I wake feeling unrested
- Sleep is difficult for me
- I am always tired, fatigued or lack lustre for life
- Concentration and focus are a challenge
- My motivation is low
- I am always forgetting things
- I am often irritable and grumpy
- My sex drive is low
- Weight control is difficult and my love handles or muffin top are embarrassing
- Hormones drive me crazy (PMS, menopause)
There are possible safe, painless and natural non-prescriptive drug solutions to help!
Did you know?
- Increased cortisol may cause insomnia, hyperactivity and decreased thyroid function and poor memory
- Low dopamine may result in poor focus, low libido, and depression with exhaustion
- High glutamate may contribute to anxiety, sleeplessness and irritability
- Lower serotonin levels may lead to depression, anxiety and insomnia
- Epinephrine and norepinephrine may increase anxiety, hyperactivity, insomnia and insulin resistance
- Low GABA may lead to increased anxiety, insomnia and irritability.
How does imbalance occur?
Many factors contribute to disruption in our delicate system balance. Poor diet, stress, environmental factors, lack of or too much exercise and sleep, stimulants, genetics, even medications can deplete and offset the harmony.
How do you fix this?
Take home lab kits from Sanesco and Precision Analytical are now available for neurotransmitter and hormone analysis. The tests collect the urine breakdown products of serotonin, dopamine, GABA, epinephrine, norepinephrine, glutamate, melatonin, cortisol, estrogens, progesterone, androgens and more. The kit is shipped and the lab company runs the tests and provides the results back to the doctor. Nutritional analysis through lab drawn blood work is also available to evaluate vitamin and mineral status. Laboratory results will guide clinical decisions with clarity and focus.
Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND can help evaluate where to start, access the tests kits and provide blood requisitions for you and subsequently interpret the results. Individualized protocols are the heart of naturopathic medicine. Diet and lifestyle adjustments are first and foremost, then where needed, vitamins, minerals, and nutraceuticals may be added to help balance the body and get you back to feeling yourself.
While walking is an excellent low to moderately intense workout that’s easy on the joints, you’ll still need to recover properly to improve fitness and avoid injuries. Here, seven steps to include in your post-walk recovery routine:
Whether you’ve gone for a long endurance walk or thrown in some intervals, it’s important to take time to let your body cool down before you head back inside. This allows you to slowly lower your heart rate and get rid of any lactic acid that could potentially cause soreness and a heavy feeling in your legs. A 10-minute walking cool down or completing a few yoga poses are great options post-workout.
One of the most important but often overlooked aspects of recovery is hydration. Even during low-to-moderate intensity workouts, the body loses fluid through sweat that needs to be replaced. If you don’t, recovery takes longer and your performance for your next workout will be negatively affected. In the hour that follows your walking workout, drink plenty of water. If you’re doing long distance training for a walking marathon or have completed a particularly intense workout in hot weather, an electrolyte replacement drink might also be needed. If you’re unsure exactly how much fluid you’ve lost during exercise, weighing yourself before and after workouts is one way you can gauge how much fluid you need to drink to rehydrate properly. You can also track your hydration with an app like MyFitnessPal.
REPLENISH YOUR ENERGY STORES
Consuming healthy, nutrient-rich food after a walk is a must to allow your muscle tissue to repair and get stronger. Skip processed, sugary foods and load up on leafy greens, lean protein like chicken, fish or even a post-workout protein shake.
Stretching as soon as your workout is finished and while your muscles are still warm can help reduce muscle soreness and improve your flexibility — both of which can help you improve your overall fitness and decrease your chances of injury. If you don’t have a ton of time to go through a series of stretches, concentrate on your weak spots. For example, if hamstring tightness is normally an issue, put most of your attention there. When you have the time, try this seated routine that targets many of the common sore spots for walkers.
REDUCE MUSCLE SORENESS
While nutrition and stretching are big pieces to this puzzle, there are other things you can do to help prevent soreness so you can feel better and work out more frequently:
- Massage: This helps improve circulation and relax aching muscles.
- Recovery tools: If you don’t have money or time for a professional massage, try recovery tools like foam rollers, lacrosse balls or a Theragun to loosen up sore spots.
- Ice: Try taking an ice bath or simply icing any sore spots like your knees, lower back or shoulders post-walk.
TRACK YOUR PROGRESS
Setting goals and tracking your progress is an important part of the big picture. Instead of waiting and possibly forgetting about it all together, upload your workout info to your favorite fitness app shortly after you’ve finished your walk. This allows you to see the work you’ve put in and can provide a mental boost when you realize how much you’re progressing.
by Marc Lindsay
Since the body is 60% water, drinking H20 is “crucial for so many of the most basic biologic functions. Cells need to be hydrated with water or they literally shrivel up and can’t do their job as efficiently,” says Robin Foroutan, MS, RD, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. That includes an impaired ability to expel environmental waste and detox; if you’re dehydrated you may feel cloudy-headed, have headaches or feel constipated, among other ills.
Plain water should always reign as your drink of choice. “It has a better capacity to usher out metabolic toxins from the body compared to liquid that already has something dissolved in it, like coffee or tea,” says Foroutan. However, there are certain additions that can make the once-plain sip seem more interesting and deliver health benefits, too.
Here, alternative hydration boosters to try (and which ones to skip):
Not only does a slice of lemon provide a refreshing taste, but “it’s alkaline-forming, meaning it helps balance out things that are naturally acidic in the body,” says Foroutan. This can have an added post-workout benefit “it can reduce lactic acid, an end product of exercising muscles,” she says.
This amino acid supplement is in a powder form, so it dissolves nicely in water and has a lemon-like taste, says Foroutan. “Acetyl L-Carnitine is a mitochondrial booster. Your mitochondria, the powerhouses of the cells that make cellular energy, help the body use fat for fuel more efficiently,” she says.
Vitamin B12 is crucial for overall health and plays a key role in keeping the brain and nervous system working. “It’s mainly found in animal products, meaning many vegetarians and vegans need to supplement with it, but even some meat eaters have trouble absorbing it,” says Foroutan. “You can have the best kind of diet and even feel OK but have a B12 level that’s less than optimal. When we bring those levels up, people tend to feel more energetic and their mood is better,” she says. Try adding a dropper-full of B12 to your glass of water once a day, suggests Foroutan.
Many grocery stores now stock bottled hydrogen water, but a less expensive solution is purchasing molecular hydrogen tablets to add to your drink. “These can be used to help balance inflammation in the body,” says Foroutan. While inflammation is a normal body process — it happens during exercise, too — low-grade chronic inflammation is damaging. One review in the International Journal of Sports Medicine concluded hydrogen may also boost exercise performance, though researchers are still examining potential mechanisms.
If you have trouble getting enough water because you don’t like the taste, then a bubbly drink (one that contains zero artificial or real sweeteners) can be a healthy way to motivate yourself to drink more. Research in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found sparkling water was just as hydrating as regular water. Still, there’s some concern these drinks may wear away at tooth enamel, (although the American Dental Association says they’re far better than soda), so consume carbonated water in moderation.
If you’re active, you lose electrolytes in sweat and it’s important to replace them, but in a smart way, says Foroutan. Many bottled electrolyte waters contain just a trace amount and are often loaded with added sugars, notes Foroutan, so it’s important to read the labels carefully. You can also skip the sugary drinks altogether by buying electrolyte tablets and dissolving them in water. What’s more, “you can get electrolytes from leafy greens (Think: a handful of spinach in your smoothie or a chicken-topped salad),” says Foroutan.
Alkaline water has a higher pH than regular water, but alkalized bottled water is expensive, and there just isn’t enough research to support making the investment, according to the Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic. Foroutan agrees there’s no reason to buy it bottled, but if you really want to try it “you can add a pinch of baking soda to water to create alkaline water.”
Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph
Perfect for a summer bbq!
1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/3 Cup Soy Sauce
1/3 Cup Honey
1/4 Tsp Ground Black Pepper
2 Cloves of Garlic Minced
1-2 lbs Chicken Breasts Cut into Bite-sized Chunks
2-3 Bell Peppers Seeded and Cut into Bite-sized Chunks
1 Red Onion Cut into Bite-sized Chunks
Any Other Kabob Vegetables You Enjoy (eg. Tomato, Mushrooms)
- In a large mixing bowl whisk together marinade ingredients.
- Add chicken and vegetables to the marinade ensuring that they are thoroughly coated. Place in refrigerator for 2 hours.
- Pre-heat grill to medium (about 350-400 degrees).
- Drain chicken and vegetables from the marinade and place on skewers.
- Grill for 12-15 minutes. Some vegetables will cook faster than others so keep an eye on them.
Perhaps your thyroid needs a check-up? It does if you feel sluggish, tired, constipated, have difficult concentration, and are a wee bit depressed.
Subclinical hypothyroidism is when a patient with sluggish digestion, cognition, fatigue and weight issues has a high TSH but normal T4. It is important to look at the reasons for the symptoms, which could have multiple causes, before reaching for the thyroid hormone replacement drug.
What nutrients help the thyroid?
Nutrition is a factor. Consider levels of zinc, iodine, selenium and iron as they all play a role in thyroid function. B12 is also an important one to look at and easy to run the labs to determine its status. Also the health of the gut microbiome and liver needs to be healthy as a large amount of the inactive T4 converts to the active T3 thyroid hormone in the liver and the gut. So many people have issues with the balance in their microbiome.
Does stress play a role?
Another area of thyroid health to consider is the stress axis. This involves the hypothalamus, pituitary and adrenal, or HPA. Chronic long term stress can make it difficult for optimal thyroid function. In addition to mineral level attention, it is highly important to support the adrenals and provide opportunities for stress management.
Are there natural thyroid medications?
Finally, there are other options to synthetic thyroid. Natural desiccated thyroid (NDT) may be something to consider if diet and lifestyle changes don’t break through the fog. NDT provides both T4 and T3, which is good if there is an issue with conversion.
How can a naturopathic doctor help?
Naturopathic doctors are medical trained and naturally focussed. They can run labs for the nutrient levels, thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), T4, T3, and any antibodies to help rule out autoimmune thyroid disease. This helps determine what nutrients might be missing and what foods or nutraceutical dose to suggest and for how long. Naturopathic doctors with education in pharmaceuticals are able to prescribe natural desiccated thyroid. They are also very good at stress management and adrenal (HPA-axis) support with both nutrition, lifestyle and stress management programs.
Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND is a board certified naturopathic doctor with advanced training in pharmaceuticals, functional medicine and stress management. She is a Heart Math Certified Practitioner, a graduate of the Kresser Institute’s Adapt Level 1 functional medicine training and is a Certified Gluten Practitioner.