health

  • Reduce stress in menopause with a healthy diet

    During menopause and perimenopause, stress is one of our biggest foes. Stress alters your hormones and contributes to all the other menopausal symptoms including weight gain, hot flashes and emotional volatility. To reduce stress in menopause with healthy foods is easy and efective.

    Reduce stress in menopause with a healthy diet

    As you know stress can also make us fat. There are many reasons for this. When we are stressed out, we tend to eat more and eat not so healthy. Some of the foods that stress makes us eat are sweets, alcohol, big meals, Chinese take-out, fried foods, and fatty foods among others. Wine and cocktails are particularly tempting, and with nachos, even better. Those foods may offer temporary comfort, but they are only contributing to creating more stress later on.

    Stress also affects your gut bacteria. Gut bacteria is critically important for your overall health and your weight. The hormone that produces stress affects the gut bacteria and contributes to weight gain, especially in the abdomen.

    Stress is not only emotional, it is also physical. The foods we eats have an effect on cellular stress levels and also affect our emotional wellbeing. When the body doesn’t get enough nutrients, you will feel less energetic, and you may have less concentration and focus. All of this may lead to more stress and create a vicious cycle. Reducing stress in menopause is important and the right foods can help you.

    Reduce Stress with nutrition

    A nutritionally dense meal can help you feel more energetic and lower your stress and anxiety levels. The best way to fight stress is to eat a delicious, healthy, and balanced diet. This “diet” ideally should include all the different food groups.

    Reduce stress in menopause with a healthy diet

    Eating healthy, menopause-friendly foods such as whole grains, leafy vegetables, and proteins is the best way to make sure that your body gets the optimum levels of nutrients to avoid hormonal imbalance. There are a lot of foods that can help us lower stress. These stress reduction foods will help you to calm your mind and energize your body permanently, instead of providing a temporary lift-me-up.

    Best foods to reduce stress in menopause

    Some of the best foods are:

    Chamomile Tea

    The wonderful chamomile is my herb of preference to calm down. Either using its powerful smell with essential oils or drinking it in tea. Chamomile tea has been used for millennia in many cultures. You can drink a cup of chamomile tea before bed to help you sleep better or during the day when you feel stress creeping on you. The essential oil is also great for the same purposes, the oil is mainly used in skincare products to calm the skin because the smell is not particularly pleasant. Similar herbs are lavender and Melissa (lemon balm).

    Chocolate

    You probably knew this already. Chocolate has the power to lift our moods. Chocolate besides being almost seductive is also full of nutrients. When you need something sweet, a small piece of dark chocolate is healthier than most sweets with the exception of fruits. Of course commercial chocolate is loaded with sugar and fats and we can only indulge in moderation.

    There are studies that show that chocolate has flavonols and polyphenols, two very important nutrients. To get more of these nutrients try to pick the darkest chocolate you can. Also look at the label; the fat in the chocolate has to be cocoa butter. Because cocoa butter is expensive, many companies separate the cocoa powder from its natural fat to sell them separately and add an unhealthy, cheaper fat.

    Berries

    Berries are fabulous fruits. They have great flavor, they are full of nutrients and they are naturally low in sugar. When you want something sweet and decadent, berries can be your fruit of choice. They are an easy snack that will help you to avoid unhealthy choices. You can create a parfait by adding blueberries and some yogurt or make a smoothie.

    Berries have high levels of antioxidants that will help you to have better focus and lower stress.

    Oatmeal

    The humble oatmeal is one of the most awesome grains in nutrition. Oats are full of fiber that helps to lower the bad cholesterol. The same fiber will keep you feeling full for long time. In addition oatmeal will help you control sugar cravings because it helps to control the sugar levels in the blood. Oatmeal increases the levels of serotonin in the body; this is the feel-good hormone. All of this will contribute to lower stress levels.

    Green Leafy Vegetables

    Full of nutrients and low in calories, green leafy vegetables are the star in the nutrition world. You can have them in smoothies, salads, sautéed, stir fried, curried, and even make chips with them. They are rich in nutrients that will help you balance your hormones, and therefore, your stress.

    Omega 3 fats

    These wonderful fats are very important for cardiovascular and mental health. They help to control micro-inflammation in the body and in the brain. Omega 3 fatty acids are very important during menopause for hormonal balance and they can also help you be more focused, more productive and happier; all of these will result in lower stress. You can reduce stress in menopause with healthy foods such as these great fats.

    Reduce stress in menopause with a healthy diet

    Food rich in omega 3s include salmon, sardines and other cold water fish, flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts and other nuts.

    Fermented foods

    As we said before, the gut bacteria is very important for your mental and physical health. During menopause, your bacteria is affected by lower estrogen levels and this aggravates the menopausal symptoms. By eating some fermented foods you are helping replenish your gut bacteria.

    There are many studies linking gut bacteria to depression and mood swings. It is very important to eat fermented foods such as sauerkraut, apple cider vinegar, yogurt, etc..

    Citrus foods

    Citrus fruits are so refreshing and full of vitamins, especially vitamin C. There are some studies indicating that vitamin C can directly help lower stress and anxiety levels and improve your mood.

    Water

    Dehydration brings irritability and lethargy. Drinking enough water is very important to lower stress. If you prefer your water with flavor, you can drink infused waters.

    Foods that make stress worse

    The same way that some foods can help you lower stress, there are also some that will increase stress. We already talked about sugar, but there are many more. In general processed foods, especially ultra-processed foods, are really bad for your gut bacteria and subsequently greatly affect hormonal balance. These foods will suck your energy, make you hungry and lower your concentration levels. This happens because your body does not recognize them and they are full of toxins.

    Ultra-processed foods include most commercial cereals, drinks like sodas, some commercial breads, most commercial snacks, some commercial sauces and condiments, etc. You can reduce stress in menopause with healthy foods.

    Too much coffee can also increase anxiety and stress. Alcohol in general is not healthy; if you drink it, try to limit it.

    Eating to lower your stress

    In order to lower your stress you need to eat the right foods at the right time.

    If you eat breakfast try to include complex carbohydrates such as oats and/or protein and some healthy fats. This type of breakfast will fill you up and give your energy. Avoid high sugar and bad fats.

    If you feel like having a snack, try to eat nuts, fruits especially berries and citrus fruits, yogurt or a small piece of chocolate.

    For lunch and dinner avoid too many refined carbs such as commercial breads, too much pasta, noodles etc. You can eat carbs, including pasta and noodles but they should include healthy proteins and vegetables. Try to eat natural foods and try to include vegetables of different colors.

    Try to make your meals delicious. Healthy and stress-reducing foods don’t mean non-tasty foods. I believe that we have to enjoy our food. Food doesn’t only provide nutrients to the body, it also nurtures our souls. You don’t need to eat in a certain way all the time, you can indulge in foods that are not healthy, but try to eat healthy at least 50% of the time. This will help you to reduce stress in menopause and perimenopause.

    Make your meals fun and eat using all your senses. Take your time to eat and enjoy your meals. And last but not least, try to eat at the same time every day. If your body doesn’t get food when it needs, it you will get stressed out.

    I hope this article helps you to plan your meals, reach hormonal balance and a happier menopause.

  • Can Vitamin D help you against Coronavirus

    Can vitamin D help you fight the mighty coronavirus or any other virus? When we made our vision boards, goals and dreams in the beginning of the year we couldn’t have possibly imagined that a microscopic enemy, easily destroyed by soap, will crush them. One nutrient that is being researched as a possible way to help us protect against the virus is vitamin D.

    vitamin d against coronavirus
    Foods rich in vitamin D. Healthy eating

    Vitamin D helps us fight infections, especially respiratory infections. The reason why vitamin D is being mentioned together with coronavirus is that about 50% of people in America lack sufficient vitamin D, especially black and Latino populations. Those populations are the most affected by this virus at this time.

    Can vitamin D help against viral infections?

    Vitamin D has a very important role in our immune system. It helps to reduce inflammation and control immunological response. There are studies that indicate that vitamin D supplements can increase our immune response and protect against respiratory infections, both viral and bacterial.

    Some studies show that low levels of vitamin D are associated with increased susceptibility to infections and other illnesses. There is a correlation between low vitamin D levels and an increased risk of respiratory problems, such as respiratory infections, tuberculosis, asthma, and others. I would like to note that although there is evidence, some scientists are still debating these findings.

    Can vitamin D help us against coronavirus

    For those reasons many scientists believe that vitamin D may help us against coronavirus (covid-19, or SARS-CoV-2) and other viruses. However the coronavirus (Covid-19) is the new kid on the block and there are no conclusive studies at this time.

    Personally I take vitamin D supplements because I don’t get enough from the sun or from food and vitamin D is a very important nutrient and it has a fundamental role in bone formation. Vitamin D is considered a hormone; we will cover some of its most important functions below.

    How to get vitamin D?

    We can get vitamin D from the sun or through food, and of course, there are also supplements.

    A lot of our Vitamin D is synthesized from sunlight. The darker the skin color, the less vitamin D is absorbed by the skin, and therefore, the longer exposure time the person needs. Independent of skin color, those of us in higher latitudes need even longer exposure times to get the right amount of vitamin D and most people don’t get it. Vitamin D is obtained from direct sunlight, the sunrays that help us to get vitamin D do not pass through glass — in other words, we cannot make it by exposing ourselves to sunlight filtered through a window and must go outside directly in the sun. Remember that sun exposure is not sunburn, sunburn causes skin cancer and dark spots, moderate sun exposure is healthy.

    Vitamin D helps against viruses

    We can also ingest vitamin D. Vitamin D is abundant in cold water fish such as sardines and salmon, and in egg yolks. It is not very common in non-animal sources but it can be found in mushrooms. In addition to that in America we get some vitamin D from fortified foods such as milk, orange juice and cereals. However, that may not be sufficient and we may need a supplement.

    There are also vitamin D supplements. The most common are D2 and D3, the first is from vegetable sources and the other from animal sources. When it comes to amounts in normal times, the recommended doses is 400 to 800 IU. For coronavirus there are no recommendations, however the normal amounts are a good place to start. If your doctor determines that you have a deficiency he may recommend higher amounts.

    Vitamin D is fat soluble, and for that reason, we should not overdo it. What the body doesn’t use gets stored in the fat cells. Excess vitamin D can cause many health complications, but if you take the recommended amounts it is safe.

    Other benefits of vitamin D

    Besides protecting us against viruses, potentially against coronavirus, vitamin D has many important roles. Some of those are:

    • Vitamin D is well known for its role in bone and teeth formation. Without vitamin D we cannot have healthy bones. This is especially important after menopause.
    • Many studies demonstrate that vitamin D supports brain and nervous system function.
    • Low levels of vitamin D are linked to depression
    • According to studies vitamin D may help in regulating the insulin levels, and therefore, help manage diabetes. There are some studies indicating that low levels of vitamin D may increase the risk of type 1 diabetes.
    • It helps to improve cardiovascular health. Some studies suggest that it may help control high blood pressure.
    • Vitamin D may have an epigenetic effect. It may have a role in the genes involved in cancer development. Some small studies link low vitamin D levels to development of breast, ovaries, esophagus, colon, prostate, and other cancers.
    • And something important to know: vitamin D may promote weight loss. Or in other words, lack of vitamin D may promote weight gain.


    So, there are a lot of reasons to make sure we are having the right levels of vitamin D. Let’s hope that vitamin D can help us against coronavirus or covid-19.

    Read about how to stop hot flashes naturally

  • Types of belly fat in midlife

    Belly fat reaches a new high during midlife, it even gets its own name, midlife spread. For most women in midlife one of the most traumatic changes is the change in body shape. The tummy starts growing out of the blue and the waist line becomes a distant memory. Pear and upper triangles body types become apples. There are different types of belly fat. If you are asking why does this happens and what can one do about it, keep reading.

    How to stop belly fat accumulation in midlife

    We can blame it all on hormones and certainly they play a role, but there can be many other causes or contributing factors. Although most abdominal fat requires the same advice to eliminate it: healthier eating, more movement and less stress, there are some differences between the different types of belly fat or abdominal fat require more than the conventional advice, specially during perimenopause and menopause.

    Let’s take a look at the different types of belly fat and potential solutions for each type. Let’s keep in mind that excess fat always requires eating a healthier diet.

    Lower body fat

    This type of fat can be hormone-related or inactivity related. Even very skinny people can have it. Usually this type of body fat is more common before perimenopause and menopause.

    Excess estrogen can play a role in this type of belly fat, but inactivity, too much sitting, and poor posture are more common as well as a combination of these factors.

    What can you do about it?

    • Eat a healthier diet and drink plenty of liquids.
    • Try not to sit down for long periods of time
    • Workout and try to add more activity to your life. Try exercises to strengthen your core.
    • Cut down on sugar and dairy
    • Watch your posture during the day. Try to sit correctly and stand up straight, lightly contracting your tummy
    • Try to move during the day

    Belly fat that looks like pregnancy

    This fat can be common during midlife. It tends to be firm and it can have many causes. This can be hormonal body fat, and is not directly linked to estrogens but to cortisol and/or insulin. It is very common in people with insulin resistance.

    This type of tummy fat is directly related to high stress levels (physical and emotional) and high sugar and/or alcohol consumption. This type of belly can also indicate liver problems such as fatty liver; this is the reason it is associated with alcohol consumption. Read about thyroid and weight gain

    What to do to lower this type of belly fat?

    This type of fat is the most damaging type because it is directly affecting the vital organs and it’s the result of a combination of unhealthy habits. To lower this type of belly fat, the keys are stress management and toxin elimination. You can accomplish it with these recommendations:

    • Lower stress levels
    • Sleep at least 7 hours a night
    • Lower alcohol and carbohydrate consumption
    • Make sure you are eating only healthy fats
    • Try to eat only healthy animal products
    • Avoid regular dairy
    • Avoid commercial baked goods
    • Eat enough omega 3
    • Lower or eliminate caffeine intake
    • Try to eat healthy most of the time. Be careful following any diets that will contribute to more stress in your life. The best way to eat is to follow anti-inflammatory guidelines
    • Try to include activities to relax, such as participating in sports, yoga, dancing, arts, walks in nature, etc.
    • Be kind to yourself
    • Workout, but avoid workout stress such as running too much, boot camps, CrossFit, competitive apps, etc.
    • If you have a religion, pray, ask for help and leave it to God; if not you can practice meditation. The bottom line is to relinquish control, worry and other emotions that generate stress, anger and sadness.
    • Observe yourself to identify allergies such as those from foods, molds, pollen and others. These are physical body stressors that can cause thyroid problems.
    • Remove or lower toxins from your life such as regular cleaning products, cooking at high temperatures with Teflon, etc.
    • For some people, a paleo or keto lifestyle for a short period of time can be very beneficial. For me the answer was intermittent fasting and you can follow this way of eating for long time.

    Upper tummy fat (AKA love handles)

    This is pure fat and an active lifestyle and healthy food in the right amounts can correct it.

    Hormonal belly fat

    During menopause and perimenopause, we are very likely to accumulate belly fat. This is the result of lower estrogens and higher cortisol. It can be solid fat as in the previous case or loose fat all over the tummy area.

    To eliminate this type of belly fat there is no one size fits all cause, because there are many causes. Usually it comes with other body changes such as bigger or smaller breasts, bigger back and in some cases, smaller butt.
    In general, to improve this situation we need to bring more balance to our hormones, lowering stress and making sure our thyroid is doing its job. To accomplish this we need to strengthen the liver, adrenals and thyroids. You can read this article where I have more detailed information on menopausal belly fat.

    You can read more on why we gain weight during perimenopause and menopause

    Fluctuating belly

    This is fake belly fat. You get up in the morning with a flat tummy and this keeps growing as the day progresses. This is caused by gases and/or liquid retention and not by fat accumulation.

    The next question is why does it happen? There are many reasons, though, the most common one is food intolerances. There also can be digestion issues caused by stress, illness or allergies.

    What to do?

    • Do an elimination diet to identify if you have allergies
    • Eat slower, chew your food very well; this improves your digestion
    • Avoid drinking large amounts of liquids during meals. Warm or lukewarm liquids are better than cold liquids.
    • Lower stress
    • Ayurveda can be very effective to treat and correct these digestive issues

    Sudden tummy

    This is the tummy that comes out of nowhere and it is loose. If you are gaining weight and it is mostly going to the tummy, but you feel that you are eating the same and having the same level of physical activity and you are in midlife, this is probably hormonal weight. Read why this happens

    However if the fat is solid, and hard in very few cases, it can be related to conditions that need medical attention so you should see your doctor.

    What not to do when you are experiencing hormonal belly fat

    • Don’t worry, there is a lot you can do to reduce your tummy. Think of a growing tummy as a messenger, telling you to watch out because something may need more balance in your body.
    • Avoid extreme diets. If you have a lot of weight to lose or if you suspect that you may be insulin resistant then a Paleo or Keto diet can be appropriate for some time. But if you are experiencing many other menopausal or perimenopause symptoms, for most people it is better to start eating healthier and do some light intermittent fasting. There has to be a balance between weight loss and stress reduction.
    • Remember joy. Joy is very important in our lives, joy makes our body healthier and contributes to hormonal balance. Look for joyful activities outside food. Make your food delicious.
    • The main thing you can do for your health is to cook at home from scratch. If you use some organic ingredients even better, but just eating home cooked meals will make a difference in your health.

    What about liposuction

    It certainly works, but it is a surgery and you have to consider it carefully. However, if the weight comes back (the person gains the weight back) some of the fat will go directly on top of vital organs. Most people who have liposuction end up gaining back the weight, because they haven’t learned a healthier, happier lifestyle.

    During perimenopause and menopause it is important to pay attention to the hormones and try to balance them because if not, they will also cause other issues, the tummy is only one of them. Perimenopause and menopause are a good time to recalibrate our bodies to have a healthy second half of our lives.

    What about hormonal replacement therapy (HRT)

    HRT and BHRT will help control tummy or abdominal fat while taking the hormones. You can read this article about HRT and BHRT. I personally will still recommend lifestyle changes to avoid other problems and to develop a tummy as soon as the hormones are stopped. Read more about HRT and BHRT

  • How to stop hot flashes naturally

    Hot flashes, or flushes as they are called in some places, are common in women going through perimenopause or menopause. They are also very bothersome and greatly disruptive, especially if they happen at night, called night sweats.

    Hot flashes at night disrupt sleep and with that a whole plethora of symptoms can develop, such mental fog, lack of energy, irritability, weight gain, etc. That’s why it is very important to deal with hot flashes.

    how to stop hot flashes naturally

    What to do to eliminate hot flashes naturally

    Before moving into potential solutions we need to understand what the causes of hot flashes are. Doctors don’t know what causes them, not all women get them (I didn’t) and in many cultures they are almost unknown. We need more research to find out what causes hot flashes. Doctors know that there are some things that make hot flashes worse for some women, such as:

    • Spicy foods
    • Foods with caffeine
    • Alcohol
    • Some medicines
    • Certain health issues, such thyroid problems and diabetes
    • Smoking
    • Anything that makes the normal body temperature rise such as exposure to high temperatures, thick clothing, saunas, etc.
    • Emotions such stress, fear and anxiety

    The first thing to do when suffering hot flashes is to try to identify which items on that list make your hot flashes worse. Then you can at least lower your exposure if not totally avoid it.

    easy ways to stop hot flashes naturally

    How to eliminate hot flashes naturally

    A healthier lifestyle can greatly reduce or eliminate hot flashes. A healthier lifestyle will help you eliminate toxins, eliminate excessive bad hormones, make your organs work better, and more. All of this will reduce or stop hot flashes. What is a healthier life style? Eat clean, drink your water (hopefully purified) and avoid stress.

    Move it baby

    Working out is one of the most effective ways to reduce or eliminate hot flashes. There have been many studies on this topic and all of them have found a relationship between working out, especially sweaty workouts, and a reduction in hot flashes. Working out checks off many boxes, including eliminating toxins and stress, and helping the body generate good hormones, as well as maintaining muscle and bone mass.

    Cool it

    Controlling stress, is another important aspect to controlling hot flashes. Stress causes a lot of problems in the body and they result in more or more intense hot flashes. You can read this article about stress and hormonal balance.

    Can herbs help to eliminate hot flashes?

    Herbs can certainly help. Black cohosh is the most studied herb against hot flashes and definitely worth trying. Herbs combined with a healthier lifestyle are more effective than only taking the herbs. Other recommended herbs are: ashwaganda (to strengthen adrenals), maca (testosterone), chaste tree, Dong Quai, Ginkgo biloba and red clover. There are many teas and supplements that use some combination of these and other herbs. Some of these herbs interact with other medications so it is important to check for potential issues.

    Beyond herbs, Ayurveda, aromatherapy, homeopathy and other natural medicine modalities have treatments to effectively lower hot flashes and other menopause and perimenopause symptoms.

    I have an article on aromatherapy for menopausal symptoms that explains how it can help.

    Hot flashes in Ayurveda

    Ayurveda, the traditional medicine of India, has complete treatments to treat hot flashes. In Ayurveda, we believe that hot flashes are an imbalance, and there are herbs and treatments to bring back the balance. All Ayurveda treatments, as well as Chinese medicine treatments, include lifestyle changes and they can be very effective without negative side effects.

    Functional medicine

    You can also consult a functional medicine expert. In functional medicine, we look at the cause of the symptoms to treat them at the root level. However, functional medicine can be expensive and many practitioners order too many tests that many times are redundant. But if you are suffering from severe flashes and want natural alternatives this can be one of the best options.

    Easy ways to eliminate hot flashes naturally

    Some tips to eliminate or reduce hot flashes

    Keep a diary and write down what did you do or eat prior to a flash. After a week or so you will be able to identify some culprits.

    • Try to work out at least 30 minutes 3 times a week or more
    • Try some yoga to lower stress
    • Practice deep breathing
    • Talk to yourself kindly
    • Reduce or avoid coffee
    • Reduce or avoid alcohol
    • Lower sugar intake
    • Stop smoking
    • Keep your room temperatures on the cool side
    • Have an electric fan on hand (handheld or normal) in case you need it
    • Wear layers of clothes. This way you can easily add on or take off according to your needs.
    • Sleep with layers of blankets and/or sheets to adjust your temperature
    • Try to keep cold water at hand. If you feel a hot flash coming apply some water with a cotton towel or spray on your face and drink some cold water.
    • Use cold gel pack if water is not possible.
    • Avoid hot showers and baths. You can use lukewarm water instead

    If your hot flashes don’t improve with lifestyle changes, look for professional help; there are many therapies that can help you, including traditional hormonal replacement therapy and bioidentical hormonal replacement therapy. Read more about hormonal replacement therapy here.

  • Healthy bones and teeth with smoothies

    Our teeth and bones need vitamins and minerals to keep strong and healthy during menopause and perimenopause. Smoothies are a delicious way to eat those nutrients. As you know smoothies are in fashion. And there are good reasons for it. They make it easier to drink something healthy and consume some powerful foods in a delicious and convenient form.

    Smoothies for teeth and bone health in menopause and perimenopause

    We can use smoothies to strengthen, protect and even heal our bones and teeth. After 40, during perimenopause and menopause and beyond, we need to take care of our bones and teeth, because the hormonal changes that take place can weaken them.

    Sometimes when we think of good foods and nutrients for bones, we think of milk. But in reality we need more than milk, and in fact we may not need milk. We think milk, because of the propaganda. While it is true that milk has a lot of calcium, and calcium is great for teeth and bones, we also need other nutrients.

    Teeth and bones need vitamins and minerals during menopause and perimenopause. Bones can regenerate and strengthen, about 5 to 10% of all bone tissue is renewed each year.

    Teeth also need food, the same foods as bones. Your teeth are stronger if you eat the right foods. Dentists don’t teach patients to eat for teeth health, but it is fundamental. If you eat healthy your teeth don’t develop many cavities.

    Nutrients for teeth and bones during perimenopause and menopause

    The nutrients that strengthen our teeth and bones are the same at any age. However, at times of hormonal fluctuation we need to make sure we are having them. Some of the most important nutrients are:

    Calcium.

    The best and easiest calcium to absorb is from animal sources, but there are also many veggies that have it such as spinach and other green leaves as well as soy and white beans. (Read calcium in bone broth)

    Potassium.

    This mineral is needed for bone and teeth health as much as calcium. One study found that potassium reduces bone degeneration and increases the rate of bone formation in women. Bananas, sweet potatoes, oranges, cantaloupe, honeydew, apricots, grapefruit, prunes, raisins, dates, peas, cucumbers, etc. are wonderful sources of potassium.

    Vitamin K2.

    This one is difficult to add to smoothies. The richest natural source is a Japanese food called natto (fermented soy beans), which doesn’t taste that good. (I take a supplement of K2 every other day or so)

    Smoothies recipes for healthy bones and teeth

    Protein.

    This you are probably consuming enough in you meals

    Magnesium.

    You can find it in green vegetables, such as collards and kale, in some seeds such as poppy, sesame, chia etc., some nuts, legumes, whole grains and avocado. Avocados, seeds and nuts add a lot creaminess to the smoothies, but be careful because they have a lot of calories.

    Phosphorus.

    You can find them in soybeans, fish, meat, milk, eggs, in legumes and whole grains. You can add oats to your smoothies.

    Vitamins

    • Vitamin D. You can get it from the sun and supplements.
    • Vitamin A. You can find it in sweet potato, spinach, carrots, cantaloupe, mangoes, eggs and others.
    • Vitamin C. There are a lot of fruits with this nutrient such as, citrus, berries and many tropical fruits. You don’t need any specialty fruits to get your daily requirements of vitamin C.

    Zinc.

    You can find it in seeds, nuts and some grains. The most abundant sources are meat and shellfish. One powerful source is broccoli sprouts, and you can add them to smoothies or salads.

    Others.

    There are also other minerals that are required in small amounts. These are part of many fruits and veggies.

    Did you know?
    Sesame seeds are a good source of calcium, magnesium, copper, vitamin B1, zinc and dietary fiber. A quarter cup of sesame seeds has more calcium than a cup of milk. It also has a lot of calories, but you can add a tablespoon of tahini to your smoothie.

    Now some recipes

    Smoothies for teeth and bone health in menopause and perimenopause

    Collagen, anti-inflammatory smoothie

    Ingredients
    1 cup water
    1 scoop of powdered collagen or gelatin
    1 cup fresh mix berries
    2 teaspoons of seeds such as sesame, hemp, pumpkin, sunflower or others
    ½ frozen banana. For potassium, fiber and sweetness. It also makes the smoothie very creamy
    1 pitted prune. For boron, fiber and sweetness
    ½ tsp of turmeric powder
    A bunch of broccoli sprouts
    Optional: If you like more sweetness add stevia, date sugar, maple syrup or sugar.

    Instructions
    Put all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Drink right after. You can adjust to your preferred thickness adding more water. Don’t worry if you don’t have all the ingredients, use what you have.

    Very cherry

    Ingredients:
    1 cup of fresh or frozen pitted cherries
    ¼ cup of oats
    ½ tsp of turmeric powder
    1 cup of milk or water. It can be almond or full fat or 2% pasture-raised, grass fed, organic cow’s milk, or goat’s milk
    1/2 cup of organic Greek yogurt (full fat or 2%)
    ½ frozen banana
    Optional, pitted dates or prunes for added sweetness or stevia, maple sugar or sugar
    Optional, one scoop of powdered collagen or gelatin

    Instructions
    Put all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Drink right after. You can adjust to your preferred thickness adding more water. Don’t worry if you don’t have all the ingredients, use what you have.

    The smoothies can also be consumed as smoothie bowls. The only difference as you know is that you will eat them with a spoon/fork, instead of drinking them.

    Make your smoothies or bowls pretty and sit down and enjoy the flavors.
    Read: Recipes for infused water


  • The most important nutrient you need in menopause and perimenopause

    Do you know what is the most important nutrient your body needs during menopause and perimenopause? Take a guess. If you said water, you are correct.

    Water is fundamental to our lives, and to life in general. The easiest thing you can do to improve hormonal balance and with that all perimenopause and menopause symptoms is to drink the right amount of water every day. Easy!

    Water to improve menopause and perimenopause symptoms

    Water for hormonal balance

    In order to have hormonal balance we need to help our body work more efficiently with minimum effort. Lack of enough water, or dehydration, makes everything more difficult for our body. Dehydration can make perimenopause and menopause symptoms worse.

    Symptoms like lack of energy, mental fog, aches and pains, dryness everywhere, and others can feel worse, because those are also symptoms of dehydration. Dehydration can also contribute to toxin retention, makes our organs work harder and it can make nutrients more difficult to be absorbed.

    Some benefits of drinking water

    • Water helps deliver nutrients and oxygen to the cells
    • The right levels of water improve cardiovascular function. The heart works less
    • Water keeps your joints hydrated and avoids joint pain
    • Water helps eliminate toxins from the body. High toxicity is one of the reasons for hormonal imbalance.
    • Water keeps you regular. If you are constipated you are keeping more toxins in the body.
    • The right hydration makes your skin look and feel better. Lines and wrinkles are less pronounced and the skin looks supple. The vaginal tissues also benefit with the right amount of water.
    • Dehydration makes mental fog worse
    • Dehydration makes you tired
    • Dehydration can be confused with hunger, and therefore, it can make you fat
    • Dehydration has an effect on your mood. It can make you irritated
    importance of water for menopause and perimenopause hormonal balance

    How much water do you need?

    There are no studies showing us exactly how much water we need. You are probably thinking, what about the famous eight glasses of water a day? There is no evidence that we need eight glasses of water a day. The reasons are the following:

    • How much you sweat?
    • How many fruits and veggies you eat?
    • What is the weather like?
    • What medications are you taking?
    • What is your body size?

    Even with all these variables, the 8 glasses a day goal is a good place to start. It can be 6 glasses, it can be 12 glasses. The more veggies and fruits you eat, the less water you need.

    According to the Mayo Clinic, in general, you should try to drink between half an ounce to an ounce of water for each pound you weigh, every day. For example if you weigh 140 pounds, you should consume from 70 ounces to 140 ounces of liquids. Although we are calling it water, in reality we are talking of non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated liquids.

    Eat your water

    You probably had read that you can eat your water. This is according to Dr. Howard Murad, an associate clinic professor of medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, and author of The Water Secret. He is also the founder of Murad cosmetics. He says that fruits and vegetables can hydrate the body twice as effectively as a glass of water. When we drink water it gets processed immediately and some is not absorbed.

    You eat water when you eat raw or lightly cooked fruits and veggies and cooked beans and lentils.

    The foods with less water are dried foods, such as processed meats, some breads, candies, cookies, potato chips, etc. In general many shelf stable processed foods have very little or no water.

    foods with water for hormonal balance

    The best water

    If your local water has fluoride, you need a filter right away. Fluoride is really bad for your health.

    What about chloride? Chloride is necessary, but it isn’t good either and it doesn’t taste that good. A filter easily eliminates it from the water.
    There are also a lot of contaminants in the municipal water, because of the pipes used (that are old and may have lead) and toxins that cannot be eliminated, such as pesticides and chemical residues. Again, a good filter can eliminate a lot of them.

    What is the best water?

    I have done a lot of research on water and my conclusion is that the best water in most places in America and Canada is from the faucet using a double osmosis filter. The regular filters don’t eliminate many toxins. Where I live, the water is not so bad, it doesn’t have fluoride and it has fewer toxins, but still a filter is a good idea.

    You don’t need bottled water. This water is terrible for the environment and for your pocket. It is best to carry a refillable bottle (keep it clean). Of course this doesn’t apply if you live or are in a place with terrible water.

    Do you need a filter?

    A filter could be a great addition to your home, but don’t wait to have a filter to start drinking more water. The most recommended filters are the reverse osmosis types.
    Reverse osmosis filters for under the sink installation cost from $100 to $400, plus $80 to $250 a year for filters. Filter for the whole house can range from $500 to thousands and installation costs can be high for the whole house.

    Easiest ways to add water to your life

    Drink more water. Just put a goal like 1 glass after waking up, 2 or 3 glasses of liquid during the morning, 1 glass during lunch, 2 to 3 glasses in the afternoon and early evening. Avoid drinking a lot of water two to three hours before going to sleep.
    Eat soups, fruits, salads and vegetables in your meals and beans and lentils.

    Water with meals

    In Ayurveda and in Chinese medicine it is believed that drinking too much water at meal time is not healthy, because it dilutes the stomach acids. I recommend my clients to drink no more than a small glass of liquid preferably at room temperature or warm; this is the Ayurveda recommendation.

    Summary

    Dehydration can make menopause and perimenopause symptoms worse and even produce some of them. A first step to improve hormonal balance is to drink more water.

    You can read some delicious infused water recipes here


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  • Delicious soda substitutes

    If you are trying to either drink more water, stop a soda addiction or just lowering your consumption of commercial drinks, there are a lot of healthy, delicious, options.

    These are some easy, healthy options to sodas and commercial drinks.

    Healthy, delicious alternatives drinks to soda

    Infused waters

    Try to take maximum advantage of the opportunity to create a healthy habit. You are trying to change a habit, so it is better to change it for something healthy instead of switching soda for other sugary drinks. Infused water is a great choice. Let’s see some infused water examples.

    Add zest

    You may add any citric fruits and a little of their zest to your water. Orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit and other citric fruits taste great on their own. Just cut the fruits in rounds (don’t peel it) and add the water. Let it absorb the flavor for about 30 minutes and it is ready to drink. You can use the same fruit by just adding more water, as the flavor goes down you will know it is time to make a new batch.

    Add Spice

    You can use many spices to add more flavor and benefits to your water. For example, to the citrus mix you can add even more flavor with ginger. Ginger and lime infused water is one of my favorites. You can also use ginger on its own.

    Ginger is great for flavor and health. It improves the immune system, helps with digestion and elimination, improves blood circulation and more.

    You can also use cinnamon. As you may know cinnamon is good for our metabolism. Cinnamon goes well with apple and some berries.

    Add cucumber

    Cucumber is so refreshing. You can just add cucumber slices to water or mix it with other flavors such as citrus and berries.

    Add herbs

    All minty herbs are great so you can also try basil. Use them on their own or mix it with fruit.

    You may store the flavored or infused water in your fridge for up to 2 days. If you want to store your infused waters for longer than a day, eliminate the fruit, spices or herbs.

    Some tasty infused water combinations

    Here are 10 of my favorite fruit, herbs and spice combinations to add flavor to my water:

    • Lemon and orange
    • Raspberry and lime
    • Pineapple and mint
    • Lime and mint (let’s call it mojito)
    • Lemon and cucumber
    • Grapefruit and orange
    • Watermelon and basil
    • Strawberry and basil
    • Lemon and ginger
    • Peach and ginger


    Herbal tea

    In addition to infused waters you can drink herbal teas. There are a lot of awesome herbal teas. You will need to make the tea in hot water and let it cool or drink it hot.

    Green tea

    Green tea has less caffeine that regular tea and much less than coffee and a lot of antioxidants. If you like the flavor, it is a good substitute for soda. Matcha tea is in fashion right not, but all types of green teas are great options. Prefer organic tea over regular tea.

    Viva Agua Fresca

    If you are not ready to kick off sugar, natural fruit drinks are a better choice. Agua Fresca is a Latin American drink made with a little bit of fruit, water and sugar. You can use small amounts of sugar or stevia. These are like diluted juices made in a blender.

    An example of this is, some pineapple, add all the water you want, ice if you want and sugar or stevia. Blend it and enjoy it. If you add sugar, try to limit these types of drink to one a day.

    Diluted juices

    You can buy regular juice and add 3 parts or more water and 1 part of juice. This will add flavor without adding too many calories.

    What about kombucha?

    Kombucha is a good drink if you make it at home. If you buy it, be careful with the amount of sugar. I personally don’t like the flavor, but some people love it. The advantage of kombucha is that it has probiotics. A glass of kombucha a day is healthy. However, don’t feel that you have to drink something, because everybody is talking about it. As you know today it is kombucha and tomorrow who knows what.

    Coconut water is also popular right now. It is healthy, but only one glass a day or so.

    Bad options

    Bottled teas, lemonades, and similar drinks are not good options because they are very acidic. Some of them are even more acidic than sodas. They are also full of sugar and/or artificial sweeteners and other ingredients. There are some better than others, so check the labels.

    Other bad options are coffee and sugary coffee drinks. They have too much caffeine, the coffee used in these drinks is low quality and full of mold and tend to have a lot of sugar. Coffee in moderation is OK.

    Water flavoring powders is another tricky option. Some of them maybe good, but they are still mostly artificial.

    Read the first part: How to stop soda addiction

    I hope these tips can be helpful to you. Subscribe to our newsletter if you like these type of topics. If you have any other tips and recipes please comment below.

  • Why do we gain weight during menopause?

    No doubt gaining weight is easy, but during menopause even the skinniest people add on some pounds, especially around the tummy. In the past everything was blamed on hormones, but that has changed. The reasons for menopausal weight gain are complex. Let’s take a look at some of them:

    Calories add up

    Through the decades of our lives most of us gain a little weight every year. Little by little it becomes more noticeable.

    Drug effects

    Many drugs cause weight gain. Some of the worst are anti-depressants and antibiotics. Antibiotics are now part of our normal food; they are fed to animals so they become fatter. Even some vegetables contain tiny amounts of antibiotics because animal manure or feces get in contract with the vegetables.

    Our gut bacteria is affected

    Our gut bacteria is fundamental to controlling weight. During midlife the gut bacteria is under a lot of pressure caused by antibiotics, stress, hormonal changes, and others. (Read gut bacteria during menopause).

    Lack of muscle

    As we age and don’t work out, we lose muscle. With muscle loss we need less calories to maintain our body so the extra calories go to our fat reserves. In other words, our metabolism slows down.

    Weaker organs

    By midlife some of our vital organs are tired or overwhelmed. We are surrounded by toxins and have not-so-healthy eating habits that affect our liver and thyroid. We have a ton of stress that affects our adrenal glands and some mindset habits affect the whole body. If the liver and/or adrenals are not working properly that will further affect our thyroid. This will have a direct negative effect on our weight, energy levels, mental clarity, happiness, hot flashes, etc.

    Combination factors for weight gain

    Some menopausal symptoms such as insomnia alter our gut bacteria and this causes weight gain. On top of that we don’t have enough energy during the day and move less. Some people suffer from depression during menopause and tend to eat a poor diet. This and other causes create the perfect storm for weight gain.

    Stress at midlife

    Stress causes weigh gain in most people. Many people resort to calorie-rich foods such as sweets, carbohydrates, fats and alcohol during stressful periods. For many women these are years of changes or personal dissatisfaction that result in stress, sadness, and worrying a lot. Stress creates many hormonal issues that contribute to weight gain. (Read stress in menopause)

    Menopausal weight gain is different than previous weight gains

    This is something that shocks many women. During perimenopause and menopause we don’t only gain weight, our body shape changes. We accumulate weight around our tummy and in the back. Belly fat is the main characteristic of menopausal weigh gain. In some women the breast may also grow, in others the contrary happens.

    The worse type of weight gain

    Belly fat is not good news. Belly fat is associated with heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and other illnesses.

    Menopausal weight loss is totally possible

    Weight loss is always challenging because it requires habit changes. Menopausal weight loss can be more challenging because there is no one size fits all diet, or no calories-in-calories-out. Our hormones and gut bacteria are different and are stopping us from losing weight. And as always there are a lot of diet options and misinformation and selecting the right choice is not easy. Totally not fair, but do not worry menopausal weight loss is possible.

    How to lose weight in midlife?

    The first thing that many women (including myself) find out is that the diets that used to work so well, do not work anymore. It is important to understand the causes of weight gain in midlife, because this makes it clear that it is not only a matter of a diet; we also need to:

    Control stress, eat healthy, eat nutritious food, be happy, sleep well, etc. And the hormones? We also need to balance our hormones. Fortunately the same things that help us balance the hormones and strengthen our organs help to lose weight and to have a happier life. If we see the whole picture:

    During midlife, our bodies are calling us to live a fuller, more meaningful life, to live every moment and protect our bodies.

    That is the gift of menopause, an invitation to live a better life during our second half, or as it’s called in Chinese medicine “second spring.” Spring is a time of re-birth and awakening.

    Xassy

    To lose weight during perimenopause and post menopause we need a gentle reset. Good news, it is possible, more good news, it will improve your total health.

    At this time more than a diet we need some lifestyle changes. I lost weight doing just that and you can do it too.

    That is our motivation during midlife. Weight control is not about vanity, it is about health and quality of life. We are improving and protecting our current and future health, both physical and emotional, by learning to control our weight.

    This is a series of articles in which I will share how you can lose weight during perimenopause and post menopause. Next article: Intermittent fasting to lose weight in menopause


  • 7 Day self-care must do challenge for women in midlife

    Most people agree that self-care is any activity that can make you feel recharged, peaceful or joyful. In this spirit, I have created a 7 day self-care “challenge” to motivate you to try something that will help you to recharge and refresh.

    self care for women in midlife

    Any activity can be self-care if it is mindfully done. The contrary of mindful is mindless, when we do things without thinking about it, without enjoying them.

    Life is every second we live. Let’s make every second count

    For this self-care for midlife women challenge, I have selected simple activities that deliver great results. Here we go:

    Day 1: Breathe

    Yes, that simple. Take small breaks during your day (3 or more) and do deep breathing, three at a time. Breathe with your nose, mouth closed. Inhale slowly, filling all your lungs, hold and slowly release. Repeat and enjoy the relaxation that deep breathing brings.

    Day 2: Stretch

    You will try to take at least 3 stretching breaks during the day. It could be as soon as you get up, midday and before sleeping. Just stretch yourself in all directions. Bonus: also do deep breathing before stretching.

    self care challenge

    Day 3: Drink

    We are going to drink water, plain water, and unsweetened herbal teas or infused water. How to infuse the water? Just add some lemon, lime, oranges or any fruit you have. There is a catch here, the water has to be room temperature or warm. Try to drink at least 6 cups of water. The warm water will improve your digestion and bowel elimination.

    Day 4: Be in the nature

    Being in nature is one of the easiest way to relax. Just go to your garden or anywhere outside where there is some vegetation. If possible, lovingly touch the plants or the soil, or take your shoes off.

    This is not a mad new age ritual, we carry positive charge in our bodies because of the radiation we are constantly exposed to, such as wi-fi and screens everywhere. Trees and plants can absorb some of that positive charge leaving us more neutral and relax.

    Day 5: Vision

    We are not talking of vision boards here, although they are also self-care. We are talking of your precious eyes. We are going to relax the eyes. Take 3 breaks during your day to practice long distance vision.

    This is simple:

    • Focus on something distant from where you are. For example if you go outside you can focus on a mountain or tall trees, observe the details.
    • Close your eyes for a few seconds
    • Now look at something close to you, it can be your hand (not your phone)
    • Repeat the process 3 times.
    • Now gently cover your eyes with the palms of your hands, do not put pressure on the eyes. Breathe normally but consciously a few times. Take the palms out and open your eyes.

    Our eyes are stressed because they were mainly designed by nature for long distance viewing and we are using them most of the time for very short distances (phone, computer, books etc.) so it is important to look at a distance frequently during the day. Relaxed eyes are healthier.

    self care for women

    Day 6: Chewing

    Today is a day to chew well our food. This has many advantages, the first is that it allows us to really taste the food. Second, it slows us down, so we eat less. And when we chew we are helping our stomach, and therefore, improving our digestion. Chew each bite (or a lot of the bites) 20 times, count from one to 20. We are not used to chewing and it is an important activity to avoid digestive issues, and it also helps to avoid overeating.

    Day 7: Laugh

    Best for last. Laughing is very relaxing. It helps us to decrease cortisol, the stress hormone that consumes our estrogen (read stress and perimenopause). Pick a standup comedy on TV or a funny movie and enjoy.
    Bonus: pet a pet or play with a kid. A sweet activity that connect us to other living beings.

    I hope you enjoy these activities and develop your own self-care routine.


  • You need these 2 awesome healing plants in your home

    Home sweet home and with healing plants, home with a sweet healing garden. I am not a good gardener, many of my plants commit suicide, but I try and my garden more or less looks nice.

    Besides beautiful plants, our garden can also have healing plants. The two plants I will recommend you today are so easy to grow indoors and outdoors and they are so sturdy that even I can grow them successfully.

    Properties aloe vera

    Those plants are aloe vera and Melissa or lemon balm. You probably know aloe very well, it is a powerhouse when it comes to healing. And Melissa or lemon balm is very soothing. Let me tell you more about each one of them and why it is a good idea to have them at home.

    1- Aloe Vera

    Aloe is one of those plants that we can write books about. You can cut a little part from a leaf and use its meaty center or gel to:

    • Aloe juice. It promotes good digestion, soothes the stomach and digestive tract and it can help with constipation (if used with the yellow substance).
    • Burns and wounds. Aloe gel appears to accelerate wound healing. Aloe is used directly on the skin for burns and irritations. It refreshes the skin and helps to control burning sensations and inflammation. It also promotes skin reparation.
    • Aloe has antibacterial properties.
    • Some people think that it reduces dental plaque. The diluted juice can be used as a mouthwash.


    Aloe in skin care.

    • Aloe is fantastic to soothe the skin and prevent inflammation.
    • It helps to eliminate, improve or prevent discoloration and dark spots. It is especially good for melasma. It has to be used directly from the plant every day for at least a couple of months. It takes effort, but I have seen it work great.
    • It may help to treat acne. Because of its soothing effects, it can also help treat the inflammation and irritation caused by acne medicines.
    • It may help treat Psoriasis and reduces redness and itching.


    Growing aloe

    Aloe normally is bought as a small plant and it can grow substantially if you plant it directly in the garden. If planted in a pot, the growth is proportional to the size of the pot. I keep it in a small pot; my sister lives in warmer weather and she has big plants in the garden. It is a nice looking plant that requires little care.

    Warnings

    If you use aloe in moderation, there are no side effects; however larger amounts taken orally may interfere with some medicines, so check with your doctor before deciding to take it internally frequently.

    How to use your garden’s aloe?

    Cut a leaf or a piece of the leaf. Make a few incisions in the leaf. Place it vertically for at least an hour. The plant has 3 parts, the outside, the gel and a yellow liquid. By placing vertically we are eliminating the yellow liquid which has latex and can cause allergies, irritation and loose motions if taken internally.

    You can use the gel directly on the skin or use it in smoothies for other effects.

    properties lemon balm or melissa

    2- Melissa or lemon balm

    Melissa or lemon balm is a type of mint. It is very easy to grow from seed and it is mainly used as a calming sedative tea. The plant can be invasive so it is better to plant it in a pot.

    Melissa’s leaves are used to make an infusion. The flowers can also be used. The essential oil is very expensive because the plant does not have a lot of it and it is difficult to extract.

    Some properties of Melissa or lemon balm

    • It is used for anxiety and depression
    • It can be used for tension-caused headaches
    • It helps to sleep better
    • It promotes happiness
    • The tea is used for colds and flu.
    • The essential oil is believed to lower triglycerides
    • It can help eliminate candida.
    • Some people use it to control ADHD in children


    How to use your garden’s lemon balm?

    To make the tea, just heat water to a boil and place some clean leaves in a cup and add the water. With a mortar or the back of a spoon, press the leaves, so they can release the essential oil. Let the water sit for about 10 minutes and the tea is ready to drink. You can add a sweetener if you want.


    Warning

    Lemon balm tea is safe to use, but in larger amounts, especially in the essential oil form, this plant may interfere with thyroid function, so if you suffer from hypothyroidism, avoid to use it in larger amounts. In larger amounts it may also interferer with hormone replacement therapy medications.

    Do you have any healing in your garden?