Basic Almond Bread – Spice It Up

Basic Almond Bread – Spice It Up

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~No grains~No dairy~No problem~

 

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups almond meal
1/2 cup flax meal
5 large eggs
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp melted coconut oil (76 °F)

Want to spice it up?
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground clove
1 tbsp honey
1/4 cup crystalized ginger candy, chopped (optional)

Pre-heat oven to 350 °F

Preparation:
Combine almond meal, flax meal, baking powder, salt and additional spices (optional) in a large mixing bowl. Once mixed, blend in coconut oil, eggs, and honey (optional). Scoop dough into a medium sized bread loaf pan, pre-greased with coconut oil.

Bake for 25 minutes at 350 °F

Cool. Slice. Devour. 

Dr. Kaley Bourgeois

Basic Almond Bread – Spice It Up

Motherhood & Lupus: Taking Steps Toward a Healthy Pregnancy

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For young women living with Lupus, becoming a mother can be a challenge both emotionally and physically. As the disease progresses, there is an increased risk of miscarriage and pregnancy complications such as preeclampsia. Furthermore, pregnancy has been known to increase the risk of worsening symptoms and disease flares for the mother.

A recent study, spotlighted by the National Institute of Health earlier this month, suggests a healthy pregnancy and birth may not be far from reach for hopeful young women. If general health is supported prior to conception, and antibodies are reduced such that there is low lupus activity, there is a significant decrease in risk of pregnancy complications. Disease flares, especially, were less likely to occur.

While decreased disease activity during pregnancy lessens risk to mother and child, how the Lupus is stabilized is equally important. The conventional treatment of Lupus involves immunosuppressive medications that my be harmful to a developing fetus. Methotrexate, commonly used to treat Lupus, is known to cause birth defects and cannot be used during and after conception. Corticosteroids, conventionally given to pregnant mothers to reduce a disease flare, have an unknown effect on the fetus and should also be avoided. Both medications increase the risk of infection for the mother, and therefore the child.

Complementary and alternative medicine are often used in treatment of Lupus and other autoimmune conditions, and offer fewer side effects for mother and child. Below is an example of some research-based treatment options that may be used to treat Lupus before conception:

High Dose Vitamin D
Another study shared by NIH revealed high-dose vitamin D therapy to boost general immune function, while reducing activity of autoimmune cells, thereby reducing Lupus activity levels. As vitamin D is known to play a significant role in the brain development of a fetus, assessing for adequate levels in any future mother is important.
Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids
Dietary supplementation of omega-3 fatty acids has a therapeutic effect on Lupus activity, as well as offering cardiovascular protection and benefitting fetal development.
DHEA
DHEA is a mild corticosteroid made naturally in the body, and found to be low in Lupus patients. Supplementation to balance hormone deficiencies prior to conception may help to reduce symptoms and disease activity by controlling excessive inflammation.

Work with your healthcare provider to create the appropriate treatment plan for yourself and your future child. There are many options available for addressing autoimmune disease and supporting your overall health.

 

Questions? Feel free to contact us at Restorative Health Clinic, (503) 747-2021.

 

Dr. Kaley Bourgeois

 

 

Resources:

Pregnancy Safe for Most Women with Lupus: Study. Nov 7, 2011. MedlinePlus, US National Library of Medicine-NIH, http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_118393.html

Vitamin D, Interferon Alpha Vaccine Show Promise Against Lupus, Nov 7, 2011. MedlinePlus, US National Library of Medicine-NIH, http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_118395.html

A randomised interventional trial of omega-3-polyunsaturated fatty acids on endothelial function and disease activity in systemic lupus erythematosus. Ann Rheum Dis. 2008 Jun;67(6):841-8. Epub 2007 Sep 17.

Dehydroepiandrosterone suppresses interleukin 10 synthesis in women with systemic lupus erythematosus. Ann Rheum Dis. 2004 Dec;63(12):1623-6.

Basic Almond Bread – Spice It Up

Early Metabolic Syndrome Increases Breast Cancer Risk

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A recently published study in this year’s edition of Proceedings in the National Academy of Sciences suggests that biochemical changes resulting from metabolic syndrome likely increase breast cancer risk, independent from the role estrogen plays.

The research findings, based on a mouse model using a modified diet to induce metabolic syndrome in combination with estrogen-blocking medication, demonstrated that increased breast growth and tumors can occur independent of the commonly assumed cause: excess estrogens or xenoestrogens (such as plastics).

The male and female mice were fed a diet with high levels of Linoleic acid (in the form of 10,12,CLA) believed to induce a state of metabolic dysfunction mimicking metabolic syndrome as it is seen in humans. Estrogen blocking medication was given to the females so that only the estrogen-independent effects of obesity and diabetes type II were evaluated (elevated cholesterol, blood sugar and insulin resistance.)

It is well established that estrogen is responsible for stimulating breast growth, and it has long been suspected that outside sources (hormones in meat, xenoestrogens, etc.) are partially responsible for early breast development and an increased risk for breast cancer in adulthood. We now know that early onset diabetes and obesity-related changes can also increase breast cancer risk, even in the absence of estrogen.

These findings are significant, because they establish additional independent risk factors for breast cancer, one of the leading cancers among women. Metabolic syndrome (characterized by central obesity, hypertension, high blood sugar and fats) is already suspected of playing a role in certain pathologies related to estrogen imbalance; we know that adipocytes (fat cells) which accumulate in obesity synthesize their own estrogen and other hormones. Based on this understanding, it has been theorized that metabolic syndrome’s relationship to breast cancer may result primarily from changes in estrogen levels.

We must now acknowledge metabolic syndrome, and even obesity or diabetes type II on their own, as independent risk factors in the development of breast cancer (primarily in early development, but likely in all age groups). An increase in estrogen levels, secondary to obesity, is no less concerning based on this research and should not be overlooked. Rather, these individual findings in a patient (obesity, insulin resistance, high estrogen exposure) should be viewed as multiple, individual factors which combine to produce a greater overall risk.

 

Dr. Kaley Bourgeois

 

Studies:
1. Grace E. Berryhill, et al. Diet-induced metabolic change induces estrogen-independent allometric mammary growth. PNAS. September, 2012.

2. Starche, S., Vollmer, G. Is there an estrogenic component in the metabolic syndrome? Genes & Nutrition, Vol. 1, pp. 177-188. 2006

Vitamin D3 – Starting Supplementation in Childhood

For those of us living relatively far North of the equator, vitamin D deficiency is a common finding, and the health consequences are a popular topic in adult healthcare. Adequate levels of the active form of the vitamin (Cholecalciferol) are necessary for proper immune function, maintaining cardiovascular health, preventing osteoporosis, cancer prevention, healthy pregnancies and more.

When considering vitamin D supplements as a therapy, one group that may be commonly overlooked is children. Although children receive vitamin D supplementation through fortified milk, fortified non-dairy beverages, and healthy food choices, new research funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and St. Michael’s Foundation conveys that current diets may not provide enough.

Dietary records of Canadian infants suggest they are consuming only 11% of their recommended daily allowance of vitamin D at one year of age. Vitamin D deficiency in children can disrupt proper growth and development, and predispose them to asthma, allergies and more. Doctor Jonathan Maguire’s most recent study looked at serum levels of the vitamin in 1,898 children, and compared it to their variable intakes of vitamin D supplements and fortified milk. The researchers discovered that children under 6 years of age were most likely to maintain higher blood levels if they were given both a vitamin D supplement and 2 glasses of cow’s milk daily.

Many children do not receive daily vitamin D supplements, and for some, cow’s milk is an allergen that must be avoided. For these children, vitamin D supplementation is especially important.

Here in the NW, where sun is rare and families often avoid intake of dairy for reasons of allergy or conscience, I recommend considering vitamin D supplementation for your little ones. Below are some suggestions and general information.

 

 Safe Vitamin D3 (Cholecalciferol) Dosing for Children:

~For infants, children & adolescents, 400 IU daily is a safe dosage

~400 IU is safe in addition to breastfeeding, infant formula, or cow’s milk

~Do not exceed 1,000 IU daily in infants under 12 months of age

~Consider 600-1,000 IU daily for children >12 months old who do not drink cow’s milk

 

Recommended Sources:

Chewable – Natural Factors, Vitamin D3 for Kids

Liquid Drops – Nordic Naturals, DHA Infant (contains omega-3 fatty acids & vitamin D3)

 

Dr. Kaley Bourgeois

References:
Jonathon L. Maguire et al. Modifiable Determinants of Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Status in Early ChildhoodOpportunities for PreventionDeterminants of Early Childhood Vitamin D Status. JAMA Pediatrics, 2013; : 1 DOI: 10.1001/2013.jamapediatrics.226
St. Michael’s Hospital. “Supplements and cow’s milk play biggest roles in determining vitamin D levels in children.” ScienceDaily, 14 Jan. 2013. Web. 15 Jan. 2013.
Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Vitamin D. Office of Dietary Supplements – National Institutes of Health. 24 June, 2011. http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/
Basic Almond Bread – Spice It Up

Progesterone Deficiency: Infertility, Irregular Cycles and More

Fertility pic

Low progesterone production is a significant and frequent finding in the realm of women’s healthcare. It is no wonder that the term estrogen dominance can be found throughout magazines, health blogs and other sources of medical media. While estrogen dominance does exist, the label is often over-used and does not differentiate between the unique forms of hormone imbalance facing women of all ages.

Names and labels aside, low progesterone is at the root cause of various symptoms, including infertility, irregular cycles, painful & heavy periods, breast pain, premenstrual syndrome, poor sleep, and more. In addition to its direct roles in menstruation and pregnancy, progesterone is involved in multiple physiological processes such as water balance, and nervous system function. At healthy levels, it prevents excess water retention, and helps to calm the nervous system through its effect on neurotransmitters in the brain. For these reasons, low progesterone can cause pre-menstrual symptoms like bloating and weight gain, mood changes and poor sleep.

Lets discuss a few of the common health complaints linked to progesterone deficiency:

Infertility
Progesterone has the unique job of sustaining a healthy uterine lining for the two weeks following ovulation. This short window is necessary for conception. Furthermore, the ovaries must produce enough progesterone to support pregnancy for the first 10 weeks, until the placenta takes over.
The term luteal phase defect refers to a period of less than 10 days between ovulation and the 1st day of bleeding. Many women suffer from this symptom of progesterone deficiency without knowing it, even if they have a seemingly normal, 28 day cycle. Every women struggling with infertility should consider progesterone deficiency as a potential causes; your healthcare practitioner can help your to properly track your cycle, and order blood tests when needed.

Irregular Cycles
Progesterone deficiency often plays a role in menstrual cycles that are irregular. If your cycle does not occur on a monthly basis, or the time between your menstruation changes, you likely have an imbalance between progesterone and estrogen. This imbalance may be relative (meaning your progesterone is within normal range, but your estrogen levels are high), or purely due to low production of the hormone.

Uterine Fibroids & Endometriosis
Estrogen plays the role of stimulating tissue growth in the uterus to prepare for ovulation and pregnancy. Progesterone is responsible for balancing this and other effects of estrogen so that the tissue does not grow in excess.
When this balance fails, patients may develop signs of excess estrogen stimulation, including endometrial hyperplasia (overgrowth of uterine lining) and fibroids (benign tumors of the uterus). Insufficient progesterone is also suspected to play a role in endometriosis, a painful condition in which uterine tissue grows outside of the uterus. Though fibroids and endometrial hyperplasia are more common in middle-aged women heading toward menopause, all three may occur in young women and play a role in infertility.

 

Thankfully, low progesterone and associated hormone imbalances can often be corrected via botanical therapies, physiological hormone replacement, or both. When properly dosed, studies show that Vitex agnus-castus can significantly increase progesterone production. Likewise, there are hormone precursors that can be safely supplemented by your healthcare practitioner to support your body’s hormone production. When indicated, physiological doses of bio-identical progesterone can also reverse the symptoms of progesterone deficiency.

 

Dr. Kaley Bourgeois

 

References:
Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. Updated Jan 4, 2013.
http://naturaldatabase.therapeuticresearch.com/

Balancing Hormones & Blood Sugar to Lose Weight

As we head into the new year, many of us resolve to make a new start on weight loss and fitness. For some, this means attempting the most recent and celebrated diet. For others, it means continuing the same calorie-restrictions and exercise plans, often without results.

According to a physician with the Loyola University Health System, recent findings suggest that only 20% of dieters successfully achieve and maintain weight loss. Healthy diet and exercise are key in slimming down, but there are additional factors to consider when the pounds won’t budge.

~Blood Sugar Balance~
There is a direct relationship between elevated blood sugar and weight gain. In fact, the body relies upon blood sugar and insulin levels to tell it when to begin storing fat, rather than burn it.
When blood sugar spikes, such as it does after eating a cookie, bread, or some other simple carbohydrate, the pancreas must produce an especially large amount of insulin. This insulin allows our cells to use the sugars, but it also signals them to convert the sugar into fat. Even on a low-calorie diet, the wrong food can cause a spike in your blood sugar, leading your body to think it is time to store, when it is actually time to burn.
Blood sugar balance can often be controlled by changing the types of foods we eat, and when we eat them. However, other factors can disrupt blood sugar balance, including cortisol fluctuations due to chronic stress and other hormonal imbalances.

~Thyroid Dysfunction~
It is no secret that low thyroid function plays a significant role in weight gain and resistance to weight loss. Sadly, many people are not screened for thyroid dysfunction, and those that are tested do not always receive a thorough screening.
Each of our cells require thyroid hormone in order to burn calories and produce energy. Without healthy thyroid function, the body will not respond properly to diet changes and exercise. To effectively screen for thyroid imbalances when weight loss is a struggle, it is important to measure more than just the TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone), as TSH is not always a reliable indicator of thyroid health and metabolism. Additional tests include, but are not limited to, inactive and active thyroid hormone levels. A normal TSH level does not always rule out low thyroid function. Pursue more thorough testing if you struggle with weight loss.

~Hormone Imbalance~
Thyroid is not the only hormone that can cause weight fluctuations in your body–cortisol, estrogen and testosterone all play a role in metabolism and fat storage. Imbalances in these and other hormones can disrupt your body’s ability to burn fat. The calorie-burning, energy-producing components of your cells, called mitochondria, need adequate levels of these hormones in order to do their job.
Physical traumas, mental and emotional stress, and even aging can cause imbalances in these hormones which then disrupt metabolism. Botanical supplements, focused nutritional therapies and physiological doses of bio-identical hormones can help to restore balance and make your body more responsive to diet changes and exercise.

~Under-Eating~
Our bodies are designed to survive, and they do so brilliantly. In times of starvation, we produce a cascade of hormones that tell our cells to slow metabolism and store fat in preparation for hard days to come. Though we no longer live in times of famine, our bodies still carry this self-protection mechanism. Calorie restriction and other forms of stress, both physical and emotional, can activate this hormone cascade, leading to increased body fat.
A common mistake made by dieters is over-restriction of calories. Fewer calories does not always equal fewer pounds. When the body detects starvation, it creates changes in thyroid hormone production and mitochondrial function in order to slow metabolism. While over-eating can lead to fat deposition, so can under-eating. A balance must be found between moderate calorie restriction and therapies that support metabolism. Exercise is a great way to stimulate mitochondria, but as mentioned above, blood sugar and hormone balance are just as important. For the best results, fuel your body with healthy foods, exercise daily, and work with your physician to address blood sugar and hormonal imbalances.

 

Dr. Kaley Bourgeois

 

Reference:

Loyola University Health System (2013, January 3). Top four reasons why diets fail. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 4, 2013, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2013/01/130103192352.htm

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