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Yoga and Male Fertility

A conversation came up in the clinic recently regarding male factor infertility and what type of exercises can be beneficial to sperm health. Most people are probably familiar with the idea that regular exercise is good for overall health and stress management, but what types of exercises are optimal for sperm health? 

Immediately I began to think about how a regular yoga practice can contribute to overall health and aid in improving sperm parameters. It seems logical from my own point of view. The integration of movement and breathing can help calm the nervous system and decrease stress. Depending on the type of yoga you are doing, you can really get the heart pumping and increase the circulation through the entire body. For anyone who has experienced a vinyasa flow class, I am sure you will know what I am talking about. 

Research on Yoga & Male Reproductive Health

But what does the research say? Is yoga beneficial to incorporate into your wellness routine to help optimize male fertility? 

A 2013 review of studies and literature suggests that practicing yoga has an effect on the neuroendocrine axis and can have beneficial changes in the practitioners. Stress and anxiety can have an impact on fertility and yoga is very effective at reducing stress. Stress hormones like cortisol can impair reproductive function, so it is important to manage mental and physical stress that a person is exposed to. 

Included in the same review was information about a study done in 2000 where fertility patients practiced relaxation techniques such as yoga and 55% of these patients had a baby within 1 year. This review suggests that yoga has an effect to decrease the stress response within the body and improve circulation. 

“it is fair to conclude that yoga can be beneficial in the prevention of infertility and improve male reproductive health.” 

Overall the researchers suggest that according to the review of the literature, “it is fair to conclude that yoga can be beneficial in the prevention of infertility and improve male reproductive health.” 

So if you are looking for ways to decrease stress as well as giving your fertility a boost, you may want to opt for that yoga class your partner has been wanting you to try! 

If you have any questions about how we can support your reproductive health with a treatment plan including yoga, acupuncture and lifestyle modifications, contact us today for a free 15-minute online consultation.

References

PMID: 23930026

Image: IG @yoga_inder_india

Pregnancy Nutrition: Foods To Build A Healthy Baby

Many people understand the importance of eating healthy during pregnancy because food plays a huge role in a baby’s development. Many cultures around the world have famous foods that are prized for nourishing people before, during and after pregnancy.

Your body will do everything in its power to reproduce successfully, however it’s up to you to provide it with the necessary nutrients to build the healthiest baby possible.

The Plate Method

A good place to start is by having a good balance of macro and micro-nutrients at each meal (vitamins, minerals, carbs, proteins and fats).

The plate method is an excellent guideline to use when planning meals and measuring proportions. Aim for half of your plate being composed of non-starchy vegetables, one quarter composed of protein and fats, and the remaining quarter composed of fruits or vegetables.

For example:

  • 2 or more cups of vegetables with some healthy fat, like a good quality oil or avocado.
  • 3-4 oz of protein, either plant-based or animal-based
  • 1/2 cup of starchy or root vegetables 

If you feel better on a low carb diet, aim for less starch and more greens, healthy fat and protein.

The Plate Method Components:

1. Protein

Strive to have a variety of protein sources in your diet to ensure you get a good balance of amino acids and other key vitamins and minerals. Try not to get caught in eating the same thing again and again.

For example:

  • Organic beef, lamb, bison, chicken, turkey
  • Seafood (wild caught)
  • Organ meats such as liver, heart, kidney
  • Eggs (pasture raised, organic)
  • Almonds, cashews, pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seats, chia seeds
  • Beans, peas, lentils, brown rice

2. Fat

Your body’s need for fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K)  increases during pregnancy. A baby’s brain is made up of 60% fat and depends on omega fatty acids, choline, and fat soluble vitamins for development. The key is to prioritize high quality/healthy fats and avoid trans and saturated fats.

For example:

  • Fish
  • Nuts & seeds
  • Olives, coconuts, avocados
  • Organic butter or ghee

Avoid processed vegetable oils such as corn oil, canola oil, soybean oil, peanut oil or margarine. Try to stay away from anything deep fried or processed, as they are usually cooked in these low quality oils.

3. Vegetables

Vegetables are little powerhouses packed with vitamins and minerals necessary for building baby’s bones, blood, joints and much more. Aim to fill half your plate with an assortment of vegetables. And just like protein, don’t get caught up in only eating the same few vegetables again and again. Choose from a wide variety of vegetables.

For example:

  • Artichoke
  • Asparagus
  • Bells pepper
  • Cabbage
  • Brussels Sprout
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Eggplant
  • Greens: spinach, kale, collards, watercress, bok choy, arugula, dandelion
  • Tomato
  • Leek
  • Okra
  • Onion
  • Radish
  • Zucchini
  • Carrot
  • Cucumber
  • Snap pea
  • Spaghetti squash
  • Sweet potato
  • Beet

4. Fruit

Fruit is an excellent source of hydration, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients. These are all required for collagen/skin formation, immune development, iron absorption, wound healing and much more.

When craving something sweet, try fruit such as baked apples & cinnamon, peaches & yogurt or a berry smoothie. Try to satisfy your sweet tooth with whole foods.

For example:

  • Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries
  • Apples
  • Peaches
  • Bananas
  • Mangoes
  • Melons

5. Fluids

When you’re pregnant, your fluid intake needs to increase. Your baby is swimming in amniotic fluid and your blood volume increases significantly. Water plays a huge role in nutrient absorption, digestion, transporting oxygen, and more.

Try to drink good filtered & mineralized water. Chlorine in tap water disrupts the gut flora for both the pregnant parent and the baby. Aim for about 10 cups of water a day.

In Summary

Make it a priority to add more real foods and minimize processed foods.

Think variety! Try to avoid eating the same dishes over and over again, incorporate new proteins, new vegetables, and new fruits.

Eat healthy omega-rich fats and avoid trans or saturated fats.

Stay hydrated!

For more information on how we can help you optimize your Pregnancy Nutrition, book a free 15-minute online consultation today!

World Kindness Day

2020 has been a tough year and at times, it has probably been hard to remember to be kind to one another. Maybe because we’ve been in a constant state of uncertainty, living in survival mode and feeling like there is an impending doom looming in the air. At least that’s how it has felt for me and I am pretty sure I’m not alone.

Even though it is not the happiest of times in our world, I do think that it is especially important during these tough times to make an extra effort to be kind to others and ourselves. Having a day dedicated to kindness feels so right. So, what exactly is World Kindness Day? 

What is World Kindness Day?

“World Kindness Day is a global day that promotes the importance of being kind to each other, to yourself, and to the world. This day, celebrated on November 13 of each year, has the purpose of helping everyone understand that compassion for others is what binds us all together. This understanding has the power to bridge the gap between nations.” (1)

World Kindness day reminds me to reflect on how I have been shown Kindness.  Here are personal experiences that warm my heart and inspire me to be kind:

Big Acts Of Kindness: 

6 years ago, I was going through a separation with my ex-husband. As anyone can imagine, separation is hard enough on its own, but I was also unsure as to where I was going to live.

I felt scared and alone, because I was not as financially stable at that point to live on my own. 

My dearest friend who was not even living in the same city as me, knew my situation and reached out to someone she knew to see if they could possibly help me out. I only knew this person as an acquaintance at the time, but after meeting her and sharing my story, she generously offered for me to rent a room in her house. Despite having only met a handful of times before, she was taking a chance in sharing her home with me, and demonstrated such kind compassion toward me. 

Without these acts of kindness from my friend and this generous woman, I may have had to face a less than ideal or even unsafe living situation. Instead, I gained a new true friend, who is now more like family to me.

I am so grateful for their kindness toward me. I truly believe that these acts of kindness created a ripple effect. Not only did they help me to survive, but they also helped me to thrive. I was able to get back on my feet and I now own my own home and I am co-owner of a beautiful business too. 

Small Acts Of Kindness:

Acts of kindness do not always have to be grandiose to be impactful. At the clinic, we do small things like bring one another treats and we make sure we all have a safe way home. We cover one another’s shifts and offer one another treatments when anyone is unwell.

We care for each other’s safety and wellbeing and these small acts of kindness go a long way. Kindness is contagious and even the smallest act of kindness nourishes us and inspires kindness in others. It has a ripple effect.

What are things you can do to inspire Kindness?

  • Wear a mask in public as it protects others around you.
  • Think back to times when people have shown you kindness and remember the feelings that occurred when those situations happened. Consider journaling it.
  • If you see garbage on the ground pick it up.
  • Leave a generous tip to a server.
  • Write a nice note for a co-worker. Send them an email, or place a sticky note on their desk/computer.
  • Text someone, letting them know how great they are and what you appreciate about them.
  • Compliment and express gratitude to a couple of people you talk to.
  • Assist someone in need.
  • Volunteer your time to a non-profit.
  • Take time to do something for yourself or go to a spot you enjoy.
  • Praise a local business online for their good work, giving them a good review.
  • Shop at local businesses and eat at local restaurants.
  • Conserve energy. Try adjusting your thermostat down by 1 degree, hanging your clothes to dry in summer months, walking or riding your bike, or eating vegetarian meals 1-2x/week.
  • Reduce paper usage. Try switching to online bills and reusing wrapping paper or making your own.
  • Use reusable containers like a water bottle or reusable shopping bag.
  • Let someone into a lane they need while on the road.
  • Call someone to hear about their day and to let them know you care.

References:

1.https://inspirekindness.com/world-kindness

Photo: www.thegoodtrade.com ; IG @thegoodtrade

Sperm: Canary In The Coalmine

It is Movember again, and we want to honour the health struggles that men come up against. Research shows there is a worldwide gender health gap. Men tend to be in worse health than women. Education and prevention strategies are vital in tackling men’s health issues including prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and mental health/suicide prevention.  

Sperm Are A Biomarker For Overall Wellness

Because we specialize in reproductive health, we come across all kinds of interesting data. A widely cited meta-analysis published in the Journal of Human Reproduction in 2017 tells us that out of 43,000 men from North America, Europe, New Zealand and Australia – sperm counts per millilitre of semen declined more than 50% between 1973 and 2011.

Total sperm counts decreased by almost 60%. So men are producing less semen and that semen has fewer sperm cells in it and the rate of decline is steady.

Research also tells us that sperm are a biomarker for overall health, so this is kind of a wake up call, canary in the coal mine situation.

There’s all kinds of debate as to what the cause is. Surely the cause is multi-factorial: more toxins in the environment, poor diet, lack of exercise, etc…  

The good news is, studies also tell us that there are things men can do to be proactive and improve their overall health and reproductive health.

3 Ways to Improve Sperm Health And Longevity:

1. Nourishment

Eat mindfully. It’s not just about what you eat, but how you eat. Be aware of what you are eating and where it comes from. Slow down and enjoy it.

Studies show that when you slow down and pay attention to the flavours and textures of your food and take the time to chew, you will enjoy your meals more, feel more satiated and be more in touch with when you are full, which prevents over-eating.

Your body will be able to digest and assimilate nutrients more efficiently and you will cultivate a healthy positive relationship with food, based on enjoyment rather than restriction.

2. Acupuncture

Acupuncture increases blood flow, decreases inflammation and stress and regulates hormones. It has been shown to effectively treat depression, anxiety,  and improve sperm health.

3. Mindful Meditation

Mindfulness meditation has been shown to down-regulate pro-inflammatory genes. It decreases stress and cortisol and even boosts immunity. It has also been shown to help couples going through fertility treatments.

These are just a few things you can do to support sperm health and overall health. Book in for a free 15 minute phone consult if you have any questions about how we can help you!

Visit our Events Page to learn about our upcoming Mindfulness Programs.

References

3 Tips for Healthy Sperm

Hi there, we’re your sperm. We heard you are wanting to start a family. We can’t wait to help you out! We swam it over and have decided to give you some of our pro tips.

Did you know sperm counts have declined by 53% since the 70’s?! (1) We know?! Think how we must feel! Thankfully, there are some things you can do to help us out:

1. Temperature For Healthy Sperm

We noticed you have really been enjoying those nightly soaks in the hot tub. We know it’s been cold out, but please stop cooking us!

Several studies support evidence that testes exposed to high temperatures reduce both sperm output and quality (2). Thankfully, this damage can be reversed, but it may take upwards of 3 to 6 months, since it takes 64 days to generate new sperm (3). So please, keep us in mind the next time you are tempted to go for a hot soak when trying to conceive.

2. Timing for Conception

Now that you know not to over-cook us, we are going to talk about timing. How frequently should you be ejaculating when trying to create a healthy pregnancy? You don’t need to save your pennies; in this case we want you to spend! Fresh is best, thus using us more regularly, specifically every other day around your partner’s fertile window is best (4).

Research shows the 6-day period ending on day of ovulation is best (4).  So please use us, don’t store us up, we want the fresh sperm to have the highest chance for successful fertilization!

3. Nutrition for Sperm Health

Speaking of fresh, what can we say, we love our fresh nuts! Walnuts to be specific. Not only are they delicious, they are chalked full of omega-3’s, vitamins, minerals, protein and healthy fat (5). They seem to give us more vitality (6) and who doesn’t want healthier and better moving sperm? So please feed our cravings, don’t be shy. Roughly 2 handfuls a day are recommended.

We hope you enjoyed our Tips for Healthy Sperm! If you have any fertility questions, we love hearing from you! Our experts at WFH are always here to support and answer questions.

Book in for a free 15-minute phone q&a today!

References

  1. PMID: 28981654
  2. PMID: 9756281
  3. DOI: 10.1007/978-1-4939-2140-9_5
  4. PMID: 7477165
  5. PMID: 25747270
  6. https://doi.org/10.1095/biolreprod.112.101634

Photo: Unsplash

Does Our DNA Determine Our Destiny?

It’s not uncommon to have some type of illness in our genetic lineage that is attributed to genetics: cancer, Alzheimers, heart illness, etc.  Many of us have learned that these are generally hereditary conditions, which can leave us with a feeling of inevitability.  However, this may not be completely true.

A common misperception of the body is that our physical fate is destined by our genetic makeup.  ‘If I have the gene for cancer, I will most likely end up with cancer.’  Or, ‘if I have the DNA for Alzheimers, the future of my poor mind is indubitably doomed’.  However, while our DNA does hold the blueprint for our entire genetic makeup, the expression of our DNA is most certainly not written in stone.  

Epigenetics

Scientists have recently discovered that while the double helix strands of DNA generally remain the same, there are small organic molecules that chemically attach themselves to the outsides of the strands that can alter the expression of the DNA molecules.  These have the potential to turn a predisposition on or off.  This mind-blowing science is referred to as epigenetics.  

For example, there have been many cases of identical twins, with identical DNA makeup who have the gene for a disease.  Yet, one of these genetically identical twins will manifest with the disease, and the other one will not.  Wherein lies the difference?  It is all about our body responding to the choices we have made and the environment that we live in. 

Some of you might be thinking, “Uh Oh!!!”.  Like me, perhaps you have made choices in your life that have made your outlook a little bit detrimental?  Fortunately there is still hope for us.  

Telomeres: Chronological Age vs. Biological Age

The human body has two different ages: a chronological age and a biological age. The chronological age refers to the actual time a human has been alive, while the biological age refers to how old that human’s body seems. 

Experts consider telomeres — the protective ends of chromosomes — when calculating this age difference. Telomeres work to keep chromosome ends from deteriorating or fusing with a neighbouring chromosome, affecting how quickly cells age and die.  So, basically, the older you grow, the shorter your telomeres are.  

In a broad study, a hundred random people guessed the age of test subjects.  To a fault they guessed the biological age, rather than the chronological age.  This means that they guessed closer to the participant’s telomeres, rather than how old they actually are.  

Five years down the road, they took pictures of the same people, and once again the public guessed the biological age of telomere lengths.  Some of the participants had engaged in healthy lifestyles while in the 5-year waiting period.  The most exciting part of this study is that the public’s estimates of the participants’ ages reflected the positive effect that a healthy lifestyle had on the telomere length! 

Through the maintenance of a healthy lifestyle, through both a healthy diet and regular exercise, we can maintain our telomere lengths and prolong the advent of serious illness.  One study suggested that mindfulness-based stress reduction can even lengthen the telomere lengths. (1) Telomere shortening, or biological aging, is preventable, and even perhaps reversible.  

This is just one example of an epigenetic mechanism.  Ultimately, epigenetic processes occur at the interface between our environment and our genes.  By cultivating a healthy environment outside of ourselves and within our bodies, we can impact the expression of our DNA.  This is why working with lifestyle advice to cultivate a deeply healthy environment within yourself is key in long term preventative health care.

The Epigenetics of Chinese Medicine

The concept of epigenetics is mirrored by some of the theories in Traditional Chinese Medicine.  In TCM we have the concept of Pre-Heaven endowment and the Post-Heaven compilation of resources.  

The Pre-Heaven Essence is inherited from the mother and father at the moment of conception, and determines each person’s basic constitutional make-up, strength, vitality and individual uniqueness.  It is likened to a person’s genetic blueprint.

The Post-Heaven Essence is refined and extracted from the food and drink consumed after birth, the air we breath, the way we process emotions and how we enjoy our lives.  It is the summation of how our lifestyle impacts our body’s internal environment.  This is similar to epigenetics.

We perceive that the health of the body is controlled by the interface between our Pre-Heaven endowment, and this Post-Heaven compilation of resources.  Pathology arises surreptitiously from an imbalance between these two aspects of our body and manifests uniquely in each individual person, as no two humans have the same genetic makeup or set of lifestyle circumstances.

Through the intricate diagnosing practice of TCM, we can see the general direction that each person is heading.  The constellation of subtle signs and symptoms that present in each body, conglomerate into various patterns through which we can perceive the relative health of the Post and Pre-Heaven Essence.  (This is why our forms are so long and comprehensive – every detail matters!)  Following the recommendations from a Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner are an excellent way to have a preventative and deep rooted relationship with your health.

I invite you to break free from any preconceived notion that you are at the whim of your genetic fate, and grasp on to the fact that we do have a choice in this matter.  Every day, when you choose to get out of your chair and exercise you are choosing to engage with the health of your DNA.  Every day, when you choose to eat real whole foods instead of processed alternatives, you are choosing to engage in your destiny as a healthy human being.   It is possible to steer our bodies into old age with our health intact.  

For more information on how our preventative medicine can support your DNA health, book in for a free 15-minute consult.

References:

(1) PMID: 24486564

photo: www.carlacascales.com
IG @carla_cascales_alimbau

Gratitude Is Medicine

Thanksgiving is looking a little bit different this year, amid these extraordinary times. Our Chief Medical Officer of Health is recommending that we take care to protect ourselves and to keep our gatherings small this weekend. Our neighbouring BC’s provincial health officer is encouraging people “to make our celebration large in thanks, large in gratitude, but small in size”

Gratitude knows no boundaries and although I am personally missing the big turkey dinner gathering this year, it feels like a small and temporary sacrifice to keep my cohort small this weekend – an offering of kindness and generosity to our vulnerable community members and frontline workers. We have so much to be grateful for, and to have one another’s backs is an act of love. Although we don’t need research to prove it, studies do show that practicing gratitude is good for us.

‘The Telomere Effect’, written by a molecular biologist and a psychiatric researcher, is a collaboration explaining how stress reduction and promotion of mental health can positively affect the length of telomeres and improve health and longevity.

Telomeres are protective cap-like structures at the end of each of our chromosomes. They play a critical role in cellular health, as the DNA in telomeres protects against chromosomal damage. Being in good health is associated with having longer telomeres, whereas shorter ones are associated with having health issues. Studies indicate that our positive habits and social environment can encourage telomere growth.

The book explains that in earlier tribal days, we lived in groups and each group had a delegation of trusted members who would stay up on watch during the night. The community relied on them to stay awake and alert to dangers like fires, predators or enemies. Belonging to a group and having trustworthy night-watch people was critical for survival and a healthy sense of safety.

Today, our brains are still wired to need the security of someone who ‘has our back’. Social connection is a basic human need and studies reveal that having good friends is like having good night watchmen, and even protects our telomeres.

Studies also confirm that practicing gratitude and keeping a gratitude journal increases happiness and resilience as well as physical health and longevity.

Happy thanksgiving friends, may we all take refuge in knowing that we’re all in one another’s hearts and remember to feel deeply grateful for the moments that we share near and far.

For more information on how we can support you on your path toward well-being please feel free to book a free 15-minute phone consult.

photo: www.fieldandsea.com @fieldandsea

References:

Nutritional Program: PCOS Recipe

Special offer : 4 week PCOS Nutrition Program

$256 (reg $320)
until Sep 30

In honour of PCOS awareness month, I have created a four week nutritional program to help manage symptoms and balance hormones using food. Each week comes with a different lesson, protocol, meal plan, grocery list and recipes.


Week one: 

Focuses on detoxing the home and body to remove endocrine disrupting chemicals. We will touch on what to avoid, and how to remove a chemical buildup within the body.

Week two: 

Focus on understanding hormones, how to nourish each endocrine gland and what nutrients are needed for proper hormone production. I provide recipes that use the proper foods with the specific nutrients needed.


Week three: 

Focuses on gut health; the impact of low stomach acid, candida, and blood sugar imbalance on hormonal function. I touch on how to know if you have any of these imbalances and how to correct it.


Week four: 

Focuses on lifestyle, stress management, the effect of cortisol on the reproductive system, and I provide stress reduction tools.

Here’s a sample PCOS recipe from the PCOS Nutritional Program:

Chicken Thigh Shredded Salad
40 minutes 

Ingredients

1 lb Chicken Thighs with Skin 
1/4 tsp Sea Salt
1/4 tsp Thyme (dried)
1/2c Red Onion (thinly sliced)
3 Carrots (shredded)
1c Radishes (thinly sliced)
1/4c Mint Leaves (finely chopped)
2 Tbsp Avocado Oil
1 Tbsp Lime Juice
1/8 tsp Ground Ginger
2 Tbsp Coconut Aminos

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375oF (191oC).

In a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, add the chicken thighs and cook skin side down for 6 to 8 minutes. Flip the chicken over and transfer to the oven to cook for 16 to 18 minutes or until cooked through. Remove, let cool and then shred. Set aside.

In a large bowl, add the red onion, carrots, cucumber, radishes and mint. Add the avocado oil, lime juice, ginger and coconut aminos and toss to combine. 

Serve the salad with the shredded chicken on top. Enjoy! 

Notes

Leftovers. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to three days. For best results, store the dressing separately. 

More flavour. Add additional herbs such as cilantro or seasoning such as chili flakes. Top with sesame seeds. 

Make it vegan. Omit the chicken and use tofu or roasted chickpeas instead. 

No avocado oil. Use extra virgin olive oil instead.

Meal prep. Save time by slicing the veggies ahead of time and cooking the chicken. 

No coconut aminos. Use tamari or soy sauce instead.


Let me explain why this meal is medicinal and how it will function within the body

  • A healthy dose of protein from the (preferably organic) chicken thigh will help to balance blood sugar.  Symptoms of PCOS are the result of insulin and inflammation disrupting your cells. The insulin resistance is what drives increased weight gain and the ovaries to produce testosterone.
  • The raw carrots provide the correct type of fibre that binds to old hormones and will carry it out of the body, promoting daily bowel movements.
  • Radishes are antibacterial, anti-fungal, and diuretic. They are rich in Vitamin C, folate, and anthocyanins. These are excellent for killing candida, opening the liver’s phase 2 detox pathway, and providing enzymes that will help digest & metabolize the chicken.
  • The ginger warms the meal to ensure proper blood flow, since the blood is responsible for carrying hormones to where they need to go. It’s important to include foods that promote healthy blood circulation.
  • The lime juice also stimulates liver detoxification to excrete old hormones from the body such as testosterone and estrogen.
  • The thyme is antibacterial and antiviral it can kill any unproductive bacteria in the gut that may be blocking nutrient absorption. Optimal nutrient absorption is vital for hormone balance because the body needs to actually access the nutrients from food in order to produce the necessary hormones.
  • This meal tastes delicious and will provide a sense of nourishment and contentment!

For more information book a free 15 minute phone consultation today.

PCOS and Mental Health

If you are new to learning about Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, welcome. PCOS is the most frequent endocrinological disorder affecting people of reproductive age (1).

You may have read our previous blogs explaining what PCOS is, but you may not know that it can affect depression, anxiety and stress. In fact, studies report an overall higher prevalence of depression, perceived stress and anxiety in people with PCOS compared to people without (2).

You may be reading this if you have PCOS and saying to yourself, “why did my doctor never bring this up?!” Unfortunately, it’s still something that is not discussed as often as it should be. Let’s change this!

PCOS and Depression

Why does there seem to be higher rates of depression in those with PCOS?

Currently, there are still only theories to hypothesize what might be the cause of this correlation. People with PCOS have hormonal imbalances and this could contribute to the cause.

It is very common in people with PCOS to be insulin resistant. This basically results in their pancreas working overtime and their bloodstream having higher levels of insulin. There is still much more research needed in this area, however there is growing evidence that insulin resistance and depression could be correlated (3). 

Several other factors could also play a role, such as our societal “norms”. People with PCOS have excess androgens which can cause excess facial hair, body hair, and thinning of head hair. This can cause embarrassment and self esteem issues and further impact the depression, stress and anxiety experienced.

Further tests have shown that people with PCOS show increased salivary amylase and cortisol levels; indicating overall higher stress markers in their systems (1). These higher stress markers were found to have a significant affect on a patient’s BMI as well (1).

There seems to be multiple possible causes of the link between PCOS and stress, depression and anxiety. The more we discuss these important aspects of the disease, the more awareness and hopefully research will be done.

PCOS Mental Health Support

What can we do to combat the effects of stress, anxiety and depression with PCOS?

Well, we can do a few things. Stress reduction is crucial to getting our bodies healthy.

Acupuncture

I suggest starting with a regular Acupuncture routine. Acupuncture influences your Parasympathetic system; it allows your body to flow into a state of rest. This is oh-SO-important when PCOS is causing the body to constantly fire higher levels of cortisol and thus kick us into that Flight or Fight response.

But don’t just take my word for it. There have been studies done to show the positive effects Acupuncture has on women with PCOS in regards to their depression and anxiety (4). 

Mindfulness Meditation

Having the ability to set aside time for yourself and help find solutions to treating your PCOS is empowering! Along with Acupuncture, Mindfulness is another amazing tool to add to your tool box of stress butt-kicking techniques.

Our own Dr. Alda Ngo is offering an Online 8-week Mindfulness course that teaches you Mindfulness Meditation training. Check out this link for our Guided Mindfulness class.

Empowerment

The way I like to approach treatment of conditions such as PCOS is to access more resources. The more resources you are able to have, the better equipped you are for empowering yourself and treating your PCOS in the best way that you possibly can.

You may be experiencing higher stress, depression and anxiety as a result of your PCOS, but that doesn’t mean you have to suffer silently. There are several tools we can add to get you feeling healthy and empowered!

To see how we can support you, contact us to book a free 15-minute phone consultation.

References:

  1. DOI: 10.4103/jhrs.JHRS_78_17
  2. PMID: 30131078
  3. PMID: 29908775
  4. PMID: 23763822

Photo: Aline + Celia
www.sacreefrangine.com

PCOS Acne: A Natural Approach

What is PCOS

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome or PCOS is an endocrine disorder and one of the most common reproductive disorders in women of reproductive age.  This syndrome affects roughly 4-12% of women and can have a huge impact on fertility as well as an increased risk in other health conditions such as insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and obesity. 

PCOS is diagnosed by hyperandrogenism, and menstrual irregularities, it is considered to be a syndrome with a spectrum of severity.  So while you may have been diagnosed with PCOS you may exhibit only some of the symptoms that hallmark this disease. 

PCOS Acne

While none of these symptoms are ideal, one of the most disheartening and frustrating symptoms that 14-34% of women diagnosed with PCOS exhibit is acne.

While other PCOS symptoms can be managed and hidden, acne is not one of them. This can cause self confidence issues and ultimately affect quality of life.

Acne in PCOS is caused by hyperandrogenism, a hormone imbalance which causes an increase in the male hormone called testosterone. Testosterone causes an increase in the natural oils in our hair follicles called sebum.

The increase in sebum along with bacteria being trapped beneath the hair follicles causes comedones and cystic-like lesions which can appear on the face, neck, upper back and chest. These under the skin cysts are often very painful, inflamed and can leave behind scarring. 

If you suffer from PCOS and acne, here are some easy natural remedies that can help heal and reduce the prevalence of these unwanted blemishes:

Nutrition: Treating PCOS Acne From Within

Our skin is a representation of our digestive system. If you have PCOS and acne you most likely have some level of chronic inflammation in the body as well as insulin resistance.

Sounds scary but the good news is there are many foods and supplements that can help to reduce these symptoms.

An anti-inflammatory diet including lots of healthy omega-3 fatty acids (salmon, sardines, mackerel, flax seeds, walnuts, olive oil) can have a positive effect on PCOS and acne.

Limiting our carbohydrates and increasing our protein consumption can level out the insulin in our body and reduce metabolic symptoms of PCOS.

PCOS Skin Care

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar can be a life saver. This natural product has strong anti-microbial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties.

This over-the-counter product also contains natural acidity which balances the pH of your skin and encourages the growth of healthy bacteria flora on the skin.

Studies have shown that lactic acid can help reduce the prevalence of acne. Use this product as a toner after cleansing and before moisturizing.

Turmeric Face Mask 

Turmeric is well known for its anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties.

Here is a great home remedy to reduce redness, the prevalence and size of blemishes as well as reducing hyper-pigmentation and scars caused by acne:

1/2 teaspoon of organic turmeric, 

2 tablespoons of organic plain yogurt

1 teaspoon of raw honey (Manuka provides the most health benefits)

Combine the above ingredients into a thick paste. Gently cleanse the skin, and apply to the face with clean hands avoiding the eye area.

Let sit for 10-15 minutes and rinse.

*Turmeric can cause temporary staining for those with light skin.

If staining occurs gently, wipe the area with a milk soaked cotton ball.

Clean Makeup Brushes

When was the last time you cleaned your makeup brushes and sponges?

These forgotten beauty products can be a breeding ground for bacteria that can cause and worsen acne.

Clean your brushes weekly with a mild soap, and allow then to dry completely before use.

Facial Renewal Acupuncture 

Facial Renewal Acupuncture can also be a very effective way to treat and reduce cystic acne.

Acupuncture works by inserting tiny needles into the face, causing positive micro-trauma to the area. This micro-trauma signals the production of collagen and elastin to the area, healing blemishes, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and smoothing skin complexion.

If you want to know if facial acupuncture is right for you, contact us for a free 15-minute phone consultation.

Although PCOS and acne can be troubling, the good news is there are lots of ways to naturally manage and improve these unwanted symptoms.

References:

  • PMID: 23210095
    PMID: 15931331
  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-0-387-46401-5

Photo: Elena Ryzhkovich @yadoohari

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