All Posts by Kendra Perry

Creamy Almond Chicken Salad

You know what my favorite thing ever is? Roasting a whole chicken and having meat for an entire week! Unfortunately, this what not the experience I had last time I roasted a chicken. I used this tasty BBQ spice blend that I got from Organic Matters. It was so delicious that when the chicken was ready I ended up eating all the crispy, delicious skin off  and then I savagely started to mow down on the meat alone in my kitchen. I pretty much blacked out and when I finally regained consciousness, half of my chicken was gone. Crap.

It wasn’t the prettiest site and I am grateful that I live alone and no one else was around. Luckily I did still have half my chicken left to last me half a week of meat. One of my favorite things to do is to make a big salad so I can just open the fridge and have ready to eat food. This is a perfect situation for lunch, which I have to say, is my least favorite meal. Grrrrrr lunch! Seriously, could lunch be anymore annoying? In the middle of the day and getting in the way of me running around and getting stuff done.

But lunch is important. I will give lunch that. The best way for me to succeed at my day and not to accidentally starve myself, resulting in a confused and flustered blood sugar crash, is to be prepared and have a nice hearty salad in the fridge ready to go. And that brings me to my latest creation. The Creamy Almond Chicken Salad. It’s tasty. I promise. Try it out.

 
 

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Energy Bar Review – The Best Energy Bars to Keep You Fueled on Your Adentures

When you are active and on the go, there isn’t always the time in the day to make your a hearty lunch. Every if you do have time to make a hearty lunch, sometimes the activity you have plans requires you stream line and cut down on weight. 

When I can swing it, I like to make my own energy bars. This is by far the most cost effective way to power your outdoor activities. But honestly, time isn’t always in abundance these days.

There are a lot of options for store bought energy bars. In my local organic grocery store, there is a whole wall devoted to these types of bars. I have to say, it’s a little disappointing. Most of the options are full of sugar and other weird ingredients that are not going to succeed in giving you energy or helping you accomplish your goal.

I went through some of the more common bars that I see people carrying and I added a couple of extras in that you may never have heard of. Here is the low down.

 

Lara Bars

larabarThese bars are by far my favorite for hiking. I always have a couple of these hiding in my hiking and biking bag. The reason I like Lara bars so much is because they have few simple ingredients. There are no fillers, preservatives or weird ingredients.

They are date based and usually have some form of nut, like almond or cashew. Some of the flavors have coconut oil or dark chocolate in them. They don’t have added sugar.

The downside of these bars is that they are low in protein. Nuts, despite what most people think, are not a high protein source. They are about 50-80% fat.

They are gluten free, grain free, dairy free and I give them a moderately fat sized thumbs up.

 

Clif Bars

cliff-barThese are my least favorite of all the bars out there. These are high in refined sugar (rice syrup) and very high in soy. I am not a huge proponent of soy. Soy is an estrogenic plant, which is not great for the majority of women who seem to have elevated estrogen. Soy is also a bad option for men, as one can imagine.

Estrogen dominance is a huge problem and something I see on hundreds of hormone panels. Environmental estrogen is a huge source of rising estrogen levels. It can come from plastics, personal care products, household cleaning products and soy can also be a huge contributor.

As a source of protein, it is generally poor. Soy is not very digestible so you don’t absorb much protein from it.These also contain added sugar. So really what you are getting here is a huge sugar bomb with no healthy fat or protein to slow the glucose absorption. The only added fat is sunflower oil which is a refined polyunsaturated oil and no good for anyone.

Clif bars also contain additives including colourings and natural flavor. The added vitamins and minerals are generally synthetic additives and are poorly absorbed. The one thing I like about Clif bars is the gnarly rock climber on the package. That dude looks badass. I’ll give them that.

I give Clif bars a huge thumbs down.

 

Vega Snack

vega-snack-bar-coconut-cashew-12-barsThe good news about Vega Snack bars is they are gluten free. Yay! The bad news is they are incredibly high in refined sugar. Ooooh. They contain tapioca syrup and even worse, agave. Agave gets a reputation for being a healthy sugar alternative but it is actually incredibly high in fructose, even higher than high fructose corn syrup. The issue is fructose must be metabolized by the liver. The liver will convert the fructose to glycerol, the backbone of fat, and increase fat production.

Fructose, as a part of whole foods like blueberries, is fine in moderate amounts. The problem is the refined fructose, like agave or high fructose corn syrup, which stresses the liver and can disrupt normal metabolism.

There isn’t much going on here for protein. These bars do contain some healthy fats (cashews) but from there they are mostly just refined carbohydrates and sugars. I give these bars a thumbs down.

 

Luna Bar

f3c66cc00e09f30127a08b1d65c92008Luna bar is basically a gluten-free, non-GMO version from Clif bar with 25% less sugar than regular Clif bars.

They still contain lots of soy, refined polyunsaturated fats and even though they are less sugar than regular Clif bars they still contain a substantial amount of refined carbohydrates and sugar, along with poorly absorbed vitamin and mineral additives.

I still give this bar a thumbs down. Try again, Luna bar.

 

 

 

Power Bar

powerbar-performance-energy-bar-1Power bar is basically the same of Clif bar. High in syrup and refined sugar. High in carbohydrate. Low in protein. High in soy. Added synthetic, poorly absorbed vitamins and minerals.

Not much to say about this one, other than it sucks. Big thumbs down.

 

 

Epic Bars

 

epic-barThis bar gets me excited. They are basically a meat energy bar. And if you know me, you know this makes me happy.

They come in a vast number of flavors including: beef, lamb, chicken, turkey, bacon and wild boar. They contain grass-fed meat, fruit and nuts. They contain no additives or preservatives or added sugar.

They do haveabout 6-9g of sugar depending on the bar. This is a little higher than I would like to see but is significantly lower than all the other bars listed above.

I think these bars are super tasty, although I have only eaten the bison and the lamb. They are incredibly high in protein and the fruit makes it a quick energy source. I honestly would like to see more meat bars out there. This is fantastic for big hiking days when you need a snack that’s gonna last. They are also Paleo friendly, which also makes me a happy camper.

Gigantic thumbs up!

 

Chapul Cricket Bar

 

shark-tank-products-chapul-cricket-barsYou might be wondering who the heck would want to eat bugs for a snack. The answer to this is, “Why not?!”

Crickets are eaten regularly in many countries. You would know this if you have ever been to Asia. They provide a highly sustainable source of protein. For all you out there who worry about how to get enough sustainable protein to an increasing population, this might be the way. Crickets for all!

While they are awesome for protein, they are pretty brutal for sugar. Sugar comes in around 18g which is high.

Other than the sugar ordeal, they contain no additives or weird preservatives. I think these bars are a step in the right direction. They are gluten free, soy free, GMO free and dairy free. They do contain oats so they are not paleo friendly.

I give them a shakey thumbs up.

 

Final Thoughts

Eating healthy while doing big hiking, biking or ski days can be a challenge. Most of the quick to grab food that is available for these kinds of activities contains weird stuff; preservatives, refined sugar, additives, colorings and lots of soy, gluten and dairy.

Unfortunately many people believe because they are “burning it off” that this somehow cancels out the nasty ingredients they are putting in their body. This simply is untrue. Eating food high in sugar, gluten and additives will negatively affect your body no matter how much exercise you are doing.

Always be mindful of what you put into your body. Make your own energy bars when possible and when you need to grab a pre-made one, I recommend Lara bars, Epic bars or the Capul cricket bars. Have fun out there!

 

 

 

 

 

3 Hormone Imbalances That Ruin Your Endurance

 

You used to be so fit. You run, bike or climb anything. But these days exercise is a struggle. Instead of making you feel energized, exercise now makes you feel exhausted. You find yourself avoiding the activities you used to love because you just don’t have the energy or the motivation.

 

I can relate to this. When my hormones crashed a few years ago I went from being super fit and athletic to tired, lazy and exhausted. I desperately wanted to keep doing sports with my friends but I had no juice left. I would often go skiing for a couple of hours and then come home and pass out. It was one of the hardest times in my life.

 

The good news is, you aren’t lazy. Your body is likely deliberately trying to get you to slow down so that you can heal from whatever is going on inside of you. Having balanced hormones is crucial to healthy energy production and you having enough strength to exercise at the level you want to.

 

Unbalanced hormones suck. No matter how hard to you try to push through the fatigue, you never seem to feel like you did just a few years ago. Here are three hormone imbalances that can ruin your endurance and crush your stamina.

 

Low Testosterone

 

Testosterone is crucial to energy production and athletic performance. If your testosterone is low you may experience some of the following symptoms;

 

  • Low energy
  • Difficulty building muscle
  • Inability to lose weight
  • Difficulty gaining weight
  • Low sex drive

 

Testosterone is the reason why men gain muscle more easily than women and have more physical strength. When I raise testosterone production in women, they usually feel fantastic. They feel energized, confident and can easily maintain a healthy weight.

 

How Can You Boost Testosterone?

  • Shellfish
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Weight Training
  • Maca Root

 

High Estrogen

 

Elevated estrogen is a nasty hormone imbalance, especially when you don’t have enough progesterone to balance it out. Elevated estrogen is often the culprit behind painful periods, endometriosis, uterine fibroids and pre-menstrual migraines.

 

Elevated estrogen can ruin your endurance because it can cause unexplained weight gain, especially in the hips and thighs. As you gain fat and lose muscle, your endurance often goes with it. If you have recently gained weight for no rhyme or reason, you should consider your estrogen levels. If your estrogen is too high it may actually be impossible for you to lose weight even when you are eating healthy and exercising regularly.

 

What To Do About High Estrogen?

 

The first thing is to consider environmental sources of estrogen. This includes personal care products, household cleaning products, BPA plastic, birth control pills, soy and even flax seed.

 

If you know you have high estrogen and you have made a solid effort to reduce external estrogen exposure you can try this next:

 

  • Diindolylmethane (DIM). This is a chemical derived from cruciferous vegetables. It is fantastic at low estrogen levels and improving estrogen metabolism. Note: Only take this under the guidance of a practitioner. DIM can work quickly and easily push your estrogen too low if you aren’t careful.
  • Cruciferous vegetables. If you suspect your estrogen is low but haven’t confirmed it, you can start with veggies like cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, kale and Brussel sprouts before supplementing with DIM

 

To learn more about estrogen dominance, click here.

 

Low Free Cortisol

 

Most know cortisol as a stress hormone but what many don’t know is that one of cortisol’s main roles is to immobilize blood sugar. When you blood sugar is stable, you have good energy production and you feel strong.

 

Low cortisol often means a person feels fatigued, has difficulty sleeping and struggles with sugar cravings. They have a poor ability to keep their blood sugar stable, even when they eat multiple meals a day. The result is energy is low or fluctuates throughout the day.

 

When your cortisol is low, exercise is depleting. Since exercise actively pushes out cortisol, it leaves you little cortisol for energy later in the day. People with low cortisol often struggle with motivation to exercise as well.

 

How to manage low cortisol?

  • Reduce Stress. Go to a yoga class or learn to deep breathe. Managing stress is one of the quickest ways to restore healthy cortisol levels.
  • Quit caffeine. Drinking coffee or caffeinated tea throughout the day messes with your cortisol rhythm and leads to energy crashes. Ditch the caffeine and switch to water and herbal tea
  • Get to bed before 10:30pm. Staying up late messes with your natural circadian rhythm. Inevitably, this leads to cortisol production at the wrong times of day (at night, verses in the morning). Turn down the lights, turn off your screens and get yourself to sleep.
  • Licorice Root. This root blocks the enzyme which converts cortisol into cortisone (the inactive form of cortisol). Drinking licorice tea or taking a licorice root tincture will help cortisol last longer in your system and give you an energy boost. Note that you do not want to take licorice long term or if you have high blood pressure. If you take cortisol and it makes you feel awful, stop taking it. There may be a metabolic issue at play.

 

Final Thoughts

 

If you just don’t have the juice for exercise that you used to, there is a probably a hormonal problem driving your fatigue. While the above suggestions can be extremely helpful, what is more helpful is determining what is driving your hormonal chaos. The main culprits are usually poor diet, poor sleep, an overscheduled life and toxicity.

If you are struggling with poor energy and the inability to participate in the activities that drive your passions, then please don’t hesitate to contact me and schedule a free 30 minute call with me. We can discuss your challenges and determine if there is a way I can help you. You can book the appointment here.

 

Are you struggling with low endurance levels? Please share your exercise below in the comments section and I will do my best to help you!

 

The Paleo Diet for Your Hormones – 6 Reasons Why

 

As you may have noticed, I am a huge supporter of the Paleo diet. In the past few months, I have mentioned this diet as a therapeutic way to deal with hormonal issues such as estrogen dominance and PCOS.

 

There is some controversy surrounding the Paleo diet. Proponents of this style of eating discuss earlier times in human history when people were healthier and free of degenerative illness. Many believe the Paleo diet mimics that sort of diet, when access to grains, dairy and legumes was limited.

 

This may be true but many dispute this, saying that our current diets in no way represent foods that were available in prehistoric times.

 

The truth is, I don’t care much for either of these arguments. It’s true our food has changed significantly in the past few thousands of years. Nothing we eat today has much resemblance to the foods that were available to our ancestors. It has been modified many times over to be sweeter, bigger and to resist disease. Replicating an ancestral diet is virtually impossible.

 

That being said, we can rely on certain principles that helped our ancestors to be healthy and free of many of the diseases that plague modern society. These principles involve eating real, whole foods, reducing sugar, eating free range meat, growing our own food and reducing processed food as much as possible.

 

The reason I am such a huge supporter of the Paleo diet is due to it’s therapeutic qualities. When it comes to hormones, the Paleo diet can be extremely helpful.

 

Why Paleo is Great for Hormonal Health

 

1. The Paleo Diet Eliminates Sugar

 

The Paleo diet eliminates sugar. Sugar has a significant effect on blood sugar. Yo-yoing blood sugar is incredibly stressful to the body and is a main culprit behind imbalanced hormones. The adrenal glands, which produce stress hormones, also produce a significant amount of your sex hormones.

 

If you blood sugar is consistently crashing because you are eating a high sugar diet, your body will be stressed and the adrenal glands will pump out cortisol to deal with it. Since cortisol gets priority over your other hormones, your sex hormones can become depleted.

 

Too much sugar can also lead to weight gain. Excess weight becomes an organ of it’s own because fat cells can produce estrogen and upregulate an enzyme the increases the conversion of testosterone into estrogen. This can lead to Estrogen Dominance. Sugar also stimulates testosterone production. Too much testosterone can lead to Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and prostate problems in men.

 

2. The Paleo Diet Eliminates Soy

 

Soy is a phytoestrogen, which means that it is shaped similarly to natural estrogen. When consumed, phytoestrogens can increase estrogen load in the bloodstream. Excess estrogen can cause weight gain, PMS, menstrual cramps, ovarian cysts, and mood disorders.

 

Estrogen Dominance is a huge issue in both men and women. To learn more about estrogen dominance, click here.

 

3. The Paleo Diet Eliminates Grains & Legumes

 

Like sugar, grains & legumes have a significant effect on blood sugar. They are broken down quickly and do little to give you long lasting energy. As we know, fluctuating blood sugar levels have a massive effect on hormonal health and energy levels.

 

Additionally, grains can be irritating to the gut lining. Many health practitioners implicate grain consumption in the development of Leaky Gut Syndrome. Leaky Gut Syndrome can lead to GI infections, yeast overgrowth and autoimmune conditions.

 

4. The Paleo Diet Encourages a Healthy Omega 3 to Omega 6 Ratio

 

A Standard American Diet tends to be high in Omega 6 fats such as canola oil, soybean oil, vegetable oil and other seed oils. Too much Omega 6 fats can lead to inflammation. Inflammation is an issue for most genders but for women it can increase premenstrual cramps and other PMS symptoms.

 

Too many Omega 6 fats can also negatively affect an infants brain during the last trimester of pregnancy, leading to decreased frontal lobe formation.

 

The Paleo diet encourages a high intake of Omega 3 fats such as coconut oil, animals fats, avocados and eggs which reduce inflammation and promote healthy brain development.

 

5. The Paleo Diet Eliminates Dairy

 

Conventional dairy products contain added synthetic hormones and traces of antibiotics. Synthetic hormones given to cows are still present in the dairy that you eat. This can throw off your own delicate hormone imbalance.

 

Antibiotic exposure depletes gut flora and increases the likelihood of developing leaky gut syndrome and other gastrointestinal issues.

 

6. The Paleo Diet is Nutrient Dense

 

In addition to eliminating problematic foods, the Paleo diet also focuses on including high quantities of nutritional foods; fruits such as blueberries are high in antioxidants, vegetables such as kale are rich in vitamins and minerals, and high quality animal products such as pasture-raised eggs deliver complete protein and nutrients different from those found in plants like choline, vitamin A, vitamin D, and vitamin K2. A nutrient-rich diet is critical for reducing inflammation, balancing hormones and having optimal reproductive health.

 

Final Thoughts

 

The Paleo diet is a great place to start if you want to significantly improve your health. You don’t need to get caught up in all the silly rules of Paleo. You can customize this diet to fit your needs. Some people can tolerate some grains and some people can tolerate some forms of dairy.

 

My advice is to start with the Paleo diet and all it’s restrictions for at least 30 days. After 30 days you can try adding some dairy or some grains back into your diet and see how it goes.

Watch below to see me talk about this article in a video!

Testosterone Metabolism – Why You Have Symptoms of High Testosterone When Your Lab Tests Are Normal

 

The past few weeks on the blog, I have been writing about Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, a condition that causes weight gain, infertility, facial hair growth, acne and irregular menstrual cycles.

 

If you want to learn more about this condition and its risk factors, you can read the full article here. I also recently wrote about the PCOS diet, lifestyle and supplement protocol that can help you reverse this condition and boost your fertility. You can read that article here.

 

PCOS is generally characterized by elevated testosterone, irregular or absent cycles and cystic ovaries. But there are many women out there who have regular cycles and no ovarian cysts but are struggling with symptoms of high testosterone.

 

If you know your testosterone is elevated but you don’t have a PCOS diagnosis, you can still benefit from following the PCOS protocol. But what if your testosterone is “normal” and you are still struggling with the typical symptoms of testosterone dominance? These include;

 

  • Irregular or absent periods
  • Loss of scalp hair
  • Excessive facial & body hair growth
  • Acne
  • Inability to lose weight
  • Irritability
  • Anger
  • Deepening voice

 

This is an interesting thing. It is possible to have normal or even lower testosterone but also have a testosterone dominance.
 

How is this possible?

 
Today I want to talk about testosterone metabolism. If your testosterone appears normal on a saliva or blood test but you still have these typical symptoms of too much testosterone than your metabolism may be to blame.

 

Let’s start at the top. Pregnenolone is your master hormone. It is the building block for all your other steroid sex hormones including progesterone, cortisol, estrogen, DHEA and testosterone.

 

pathways photo

 

Pregnenolone is derived primarily from cholesterol. Yep, remember cholesterol? The big bad cholesterol that clogs your arteries and gives you heart disease?

 

What the government and general public are finally starting to learn is that cholesterol is crucial, not only for hormone production but also for the health of your brain.

 

Without cholesterol you cannot make sex hormones. And without sex hormones you are in trouble. 75% of your body’s cholesterol is produced in your liver but 25% comes from your diet. Therefore, getting enough cholesterol in your diet is crucial to your hormones. Cholesterol comes from animal products.

 

Pregnenolone can be converted into progesterone which can then be broken down to produce cortisol, your body’s main stress hormone. Pregnenolone is also a precursor for Dehyroepiandrosterone (DHEA). DHEA can then be broken down into either testosterone or estrone. Estrone can then be converted to estradiol (your body’s most potent estrogen) which can be converted to estriol.

 

But hormone metabolism doesn’t stop there. Both testosterone and estrogen are broken down further into metabolites. Today we will focus on the main metabolites of testosterone and what this means for you and your hormone health.

 

After testosterone is formed, it can be broken down via two different pathways; the alpha pathway and the beta pathway. The beta pathway, also called the Etiocholanolone metabolite, is a less androgenic pathway. This means that when you metabolize your testosterone down this pathway, it reduces the effects of testosterone.

 

In this case, you could have high blood or saliva testosterone but if you push primarily down the beta pathway than you may not exhibit any symptoms of high testosterone.

 

The alpha pathway, also know as the dehyrotestosterone (DHT) pathway, is a significantly more androgenic pathway. This means that if you tend to metabolize more of your testosterone down the DHT pathway then actions of testosterone become increasingly stronger in your system.

 

This is because DHT metabolites bind about 3 times more strongly to androgen receptors than Etiocholanolone metabolites. 5 alpha reductase is the enzyme that pushes the conversion of testosterone into DHT. Everyone will push some testosterone down the DHT pathway but some people push significantly more of their testosterone in this direction meaning that their testosterone becomes extra potent.

 

What this means for you is that you may have “normal” or even lower testosterone that becomes increasingly potent as it is being metabolized. This is why your testosterone may look normal but your symptoms tell you otherwise.
 

What Would Someone Prefer the DHT Pathway?

 
There is usually an insulin issue at play. Insulin, the hormone needed to regulate blood sugar and fat storage, enhances the actions of the DHT pathway. The more insulin you have, the more 5-alpha reductase you have (the enzyme that pushes DHT production). Women with acne, PCOS and obesity have significantly more 5-alpha reductase than women without these issues.

 

Managing your blood sugar and reducing excess insulin are key to reducing DHT activity. Again, you can learn more about insulin resistance and what to do about it in this article and this article.

 

Progesterone, on the other hand, reduces 5 alpha reductase activity, at least in vitro, according to this study. Often times when I see elevated DHT metabolites in a client, I also see depleted progesterone levels.

 

Being aware of the DHT pathway is especially important for those struggling with infertility (elevated testosterone is a huge cause of infertility in the Western world), acne and obesity.
 

Testing for DHT

 
If this article resonates with you and some of your recent experience, I recommend getting your testosterone metabolism evaluated. You can do this by getting a urine hormone panel. The best hormone panel that I currently run is the Precision Analytical Dried Urine Test for Comprehensive Hormones (DUTCH). This test will not only evaluate your testosterone metabolism but also the metabolism of your other steroid hormones including; progesterone, estrogen and cortisol.

 

If you are interested in getting a full hormone evaluation to get to the bottom of your ongoing infertility, painful acne breakouts, explainable scalp hair loss or your complete inability to lose weight, please schedule a FREE 30 minute consultation with me. You can do that here and choose the service labeled, “FREE Discovery Session.”
 

How to Decrease 5-alpha Reductase Activity

 
Blood Sugar Management. I feel like a broken record here but having healthy blood sugar levels throughout the day is not only important for your testosterone metabolism but is crucial for your health in every other way.

 

The Paleo Diet is a fantastic way to manage blood sugar. You should also consider buying a glucometer and actively checking your blood sugar throughout the day.

 

Before meals, your glucometer should ready 80-90 mg/dl. If it is lower than this, you waited to long to eat that meal or didn’t eat enough at your previous meal. Add more whole foods or include an extra snack.

 

The post-prandial measurement is a fantastic way to assess your carbohydrate sensitivity. If you are carb sensitive, the more carbs you eat, the more you increase your insulin and make it more likely have a testosterone metabolism issue. 2 hours after a meal, your blood sugar should be under 120 mg/dl (but ideally under 100 mg/dl). If you are above this, you ate way too many carbohydrates or sugar at that previous meal and you need to reduce accordingly.

 

EPA & DHA. These are fatty acids that come from Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. These come from cold water fatty fish and shellfish. I recommend supplementing with a high quality fish oil supplement derived from mackerel, sardines and/or anchovies. EPA and DHA have a positive effect on insulin and also reduce inflammation which can push up blood sugar levels.

 

Saw Palmetto. This herb can have potent effects on the DHT pathway. It effectively shifts metabolism from the alpha to beta pathway. Be wary that higher doses of saw palmetto can reduce DHT too much and throw of your testosterone levels. If you are using saw palmetto, you should be monitoring your levels regularly.

 

Exercise. Exercise is known to increase sensitivity to insulin. When your cells are insulin sensitive, you need less insulin. Less insulin has a positive effect on DHT.

 

Nettle. Stinging nettle tea increases Sex Hormone Binding Globulin in your blood. This can bind to excess testosterone and decrease the levels of testosterone that need to be metabolized, and thus reducing the effects of DHT.

 

Zinc. According to this study which was performed on human skin in vitro, zinc can have a reducing effect on 5-alpha reductase when used in combination with Vitamin B6. This is promising but there has been some conflicting research. Clinically, I see Zinc boost testosterone production and improve metabolism.
 

Final Thoughts

 
Looking at single hormone markers can be helpful but never gives you the full picture of what is happening. Just because your testosterone is “normal,” does not mean you are in the clear from the potent side effects of too much testosterone. If you are suffering from the symptoms elevated above but your doctor says your levels are “normal,” consider your metabolism. Click here to schedule a free meeting with me to see if comprehensive hormone testing is a fit for you.

 

Are you struggling with testosterone dominance or any of the symptoms mentioned above? Please feel free to comment with your experience below.

 

 

 

 

The PCOS Protocol – How to Reverse PCOS and Take Back Your Fertility

 

This week on the blog we are talking about PCOS or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. Last week I discussed this condition in detail and how it is the leading cause of infertility in women in the Western world. If you want to get all the details about PCOS, you can read the article here.

 

According to statistics, PCOS effects up to 20% of women in childbearing years. Unfortunately, it is not completely clear what causes this condition and this is still up for heavy debate in the scientific community.

 

The medical industry has put its focus on treating the symptoms of this condition through medication, like the birth control pills and metformin, rather than addressing the root cause. This has led to the misconception that PCOS is an unpreventable and incurable disease. This simply is not true. If you have PCOS, do not feel hopeless and please do not give up all your dreams of having children. PCOS is not only treatable, it is preventable, and it may even be curable in many women.

 

What is PCOS?

 

To be diagnosed with PCOS, you must meet two of these three criteria;

• Irregular or absent periods
• Elevated androgenic hormones (DHEA, testosterone)
• Cystic ovaries

 

Having PCOS is not fun. Often times women have a hard time losing weight, acne breakouts, facial hair growth, oily skin and hair, infertility and issues with anger and irritability.
We still don’t know what the definitive cause of PCOS is but it tends to come hand in hand with insulin resistance.

 

Insulin (the blood sugar hormone) is released into our bodies in response to sugar in the bloodstream. Its purpose is to grab this sugar from the blood and get it into the cells so that it can be burned for energy or stored as fat. Now, when we’re eating healthy complex carbohydrates, these break down gradually keeping our insulin and sugar levels balanced with only slight increases after meals. But when we eat unhealthy refined, or simple sugars (think cake and cookies, white bread, white rice) these break down much more quickly causing a dramatic spike in our insulin levels.

 

That huge spike that occurs when we eat refined sugars causes sugar to get pulled from the blood too quickly. The result is a dramatic drop blood sugar levels which then causes intense sugar cravings to normalize blood sugar again. This is known as the blood sugar roller coaster and for many people they ride it all day long.

 

It goes a little bit like this: High sugar/carbohydrate breakfast. Flood of insulin to reduce blood sugar. Blood sugar goes to low. You experience dizziness, fatigue, “hangryness,” and intense sugar cravings. You reach for more sugar/carbohydrates (ie. pastry, donut, bread, etc.) Blood sugar spikes again and you start the cycle all over again.

 

How Can Insulin Be Harmful?

 

Eventually, if you continue with this vicious cycle, your body will develop insulin resistance. Extreme fluctuations of blood sugar is not normal. Previous to one hundred years ago, people did not have unlimited access to sugar and refined carbohydrates. This is not a normal situation. As insulin continues to knock on the doors of the cells and force sugar through the door, the cells stop hearing insulin. They become resistant. If the cells won’t let sugar into the blood, insulin then is forced to bring the sugar to the liver where it can be converted to fat.

 

This is bad because:

 

1. Most women who have insulin resistance also have high testosterone and DHEA. For some reason insulin resistance seems to drive the androgen pathway, leading to elevated androgen levels.

 

2. Excess insulin causes the liver to make less sex-hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), the main protein that binds testosterone and keeps it from exerting its potent effects. This leads to extra free testosterone in the blood.

 

3. Insulin resistance increases the enzyme, aromatase. Aromatase causes the conversion of testosterone into estrogen. This can create estrogen dominance and lead to a whole host of nasty symptoms. Learn more about estrogen dominance here.

 

4. Insulin is a fat storage hormone which means you gain weight, typically around the abdomen.

 

5. Fat is found to act like an endocrine organ in itself. Excess fat can release excess testosterone, estrogen and cortisol. Too much of any of these hormones can block the pituitary from making enough Follicle Stimulating Hormone. This means FSH is not longer in balance with Lutenizing Hormone (LH). Too little FSH means that follicles in your ovaries cannot mature as usual. The dominant egg is never formed and instead the many immature follicles end up becoming cysts in your ovaries.

 

How to Reverse PCOS

 

So now that you have a pretty good idea what’s going on, you are probably wondering, “How the heck do I fix this?!” It is completely possible to fix this issue but it does mean taking a careful look at your diet and lifestyle. Good things don’t come easy but with a little bit of love and attention you can bring your body and your hormones back into balance. Here is where to start:

 

1. Eat a low sugar diet – when it comes to PCOS, the most important thing to get under control is your diet. The quickest way to fix insulin resistance is to start pulling sugar and refined carbohydrates out of the diet. This can be hard at first since it is the norm to eat a diet high in these things. Ditch the refined sugar but also be wary of high sugar health foods like dried fruit, tropical fruits, honey, maple syrup and agave.

 

Make sure to have a high protein breakfast with lots of healthy fat. Try to keep sugar and carbohydrates as low as possible. Great choices for breakfast are eggs, free range meat, avocado and non-starchy vegetables (ie. greens, onions, broccoli, cauliflower, etc.).

 

If you are insulin resistant, you may be extra sensitive to sugar. You really need to remove it from your diet as much as possible. If you continue to struggle with sugar cravings despite reducing it in your diet, you can try this supplement or eat low sugar fruit like berries and apples. Coconut butter is also a delicious treat to help curb your cravings.

 

2. Eat FibreA high fibre diet may help pull excess testosterone out of the body. Cholesterol based hormones like estrogen and testosterone are secreted with the bile produced by the liver. Fibre can bind to hormone containing bile in the gut and be excreted in the stool. It isn’t known how much fibre can actually bind to fibre but there is likely some amount of binding which may reduce re-absorption of cholesterol-based hormones back into the blood. Too little fibre in the diet may lead to excess androgens circulating the blood and exerting their powerful effects.

 

Try to eat 35-50 grams of fibre a day in the form of fresh fruits and vegetables. The highest fibre foods include berries, apples, sweet potatoes, carrots, turnips, asparagus, squash, zucchini and broccoli.

 

3. Omega-3’sAccording to this study, Omega 3’s may help reduce serum testosterone levels in the blood without a significant effect on Sex Hormone Binding Globule and insulin levels. The best way to do this is to include wild salmon in your diet or take a high quality fish oil supplement.

 

When it comes to supplementing with fish oil, quality matters the most. Many brands are not processed well and the result in rancid oil hiding in a capsule. Want to know if your fish oil supplement is any good? Open one of your capsules and smell it. If it’s gone bad, you will know. I generally recommend sticking to fish oil supplements made with mackerel, sardines and anchovies. My current favorite is Thorne Research Fish Oil and Orthomolecular Orthomega.

 

4. Vitamin DA 2011 study concluded that most women with PCOS are deficient in Vitamin D. In another study, 67-85% of women struggling with infertility were also vitamin D deficient. Vitamin D, which is actually a hormone, is crucial for your immune system, bone development and muscle function. Low levels of vitamin D have been associated with insulin resistance, obesity and inflammation, all drivers of PCOS. Make sure you get enough unfiltered natural sunlight every day if possible. The amount of time you should spend in the sun depends on your skin tone. Fair skinned persons may only need 15-20 minutes of unfiltered sun exposure daily, whereas dark skinned individuals may need as much as an hour or more.

 

If you have PCOS, it is a good idea to supplement with vitamin D. Make sure you purchase a Vitamin D3/K2 combo, without K2 you won’t absorb much vitamin D. The Vitamin D counsel recommends that you take a minimum of 1000 IU per 25 lbs of body weight. I personally take 10,000 IU’s a day because I was found to be significantly deficient in my last blood test.

 

5. Chromium – chromium is a mineral that promotes proper insulin utilization and helps with blood-glucose management. This is one of my favorite supplements for blood sugar control. Chromium can be found in a wide range of foods – Broccoli, sweet potatoes, grass-fed beef, raw onions, and eggs are all good sources. You can also supplement with 200mcg of chromium picolinate a day.

 

6. Exercise – This is important. Exercise improves insulin sensitivity. Make sure to get a little bit of exercise every single day. Be mindful of your activity levels. You want to be active but you also do not want to go overboard. Too much exercise can lead to excess cortisol levels. High cortisol leads to high blood sugar levels. Exercise should make you feel energized, not exhausted. If you feel exhausted after exercise, take it down a notch.

 

7. Acupuncture – I am a huge proponent of acupuncture for reproductive health. I know many women who have regulated their cycles and gotten pregnant after introducing acupuncture into their lives. Acupuncture is a powerful thing. Give it a try before taking any prescription drugs or surgery.

 

Final Thoughts

 

If you were to look at what the medical industry has to say about PCOS, you would think it was an unavoidable incurable genetically contracted disease. I do not believe this is anywhere near the truth.

 

Remember that families share a lot more than just genes. They share meals, habits, lifestyle and environment. They may also share their love of Chinese takeout, Netflix and inactivity. To say that genetics is the main cause of PCOS is to say that you have no role in your condition. This ignores all of the things you can start doing right now to get to the root cause of PCOS and reverse it.

 

When a woman hears that she has been diagnosed with an incurable disease that was handed down to her, her options for treatment immediately become limited. In a condition like PCOS, where a woman’s lifestyle and food choices are such a huge component, I urge all women to at least consider all their options before resorting to drugs or invasive medical procedures.

 

What helped you overcome PCOS? Please tell me about your experience below.

 

Do you want to hear me talk about this article in a video? Check it out below.

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