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Lifestyle, Uncategorized

How to Reset Hormones In Just a Weekend?

Yes, it is totally possible to make or break your hormone balance over a weekend.

Hormones are chemical messengers that will tell your body and its organs to function in a specific way. When hormones go out of balance, we end up with issues like hypothyroidism, obesity,  PCOS, insomnia, Diabetes , endometriosis, low sperm count, fibroid. While treating these issues, doctors focus on the specific hormone that is causing the issue.  They do not treat the core issue of hormonal imbalance in the body. No hormone can carry out its function optimally without interacting with or influencing other  hormones .

What majority of people focus on are the major hormones namely:

  • Thyroid
  • Insulin
  • Estrogen(women) or Testoserone(men)
  • Progesterone

Some of the other hormones that often get neglected but are responsible for keeping us happy, calm, and energetic are

  • Serotonin – Happy hormone that stabilizes mood
  • Dopamine – Pleasure hormone responsible for motivation and focus
  • GABA – induces calm, sleep , reduces anxiety and fear .
  • Cortisol –stress hormone and affects insulin sensitivity and sleep
  • Melatonin –hormone responsible for sound sleep
  • Growth hormone – GH Improves muscles mass and heart health
  • DHEA – Fights fat accumulation and essential to produce sex hormones

 

Overlooking these lesser known hormones are also the reason for us becoming moody, having mood swings and low energy levels, suffering from depression , being unable to sleep well, and having high levels of stress.  These issues will not get better with medication for hormonal imbalances.

What does a weekend mean for many?

We have created a norm of struggling and stressing ourselves through the week and pushing ourselves just to relax over the weekend.

What most of us aim to do over the weekend is enjoy, relax, rejuvenate/energize ourselves for the week ahead. Many people do this by sleeping late, watching movies or television series late at night, binge eating, drinking alcoholic drinks, waking up late, eating out or ordering food from outside.

While we believe that doing all or some of the things listed above is what is bliss and relaxation, what we are actually doing is disrupting our  circadian /biological clock and thus the hormonal balance in our body.

Doing any of these, could also increase inflammation, toxins,  stress hormones, insulin resistance and interfere with the production of serotonin, melatonin, thyroid, DHEA, GABA and dopamine Progesterone in women and testosterone is men.

None 'GETS' time to workout. Those who do , 'MAKE' time to workout. (1).png

How can we make a weekend work towards our hormonal harmony?

Do what you really want the weekend to do to you – Relax, rejuvenate and energize.

Relax – By listening to your favourite music, by meditating, by having a full body massage and deep conditioning hair and skin  with herbal oil or any oil + essential oil of your choice. (Remember the weekly ceremonial oil bath that we used to have a few decades ago?) This will increase your serotonin, melatonin, GABA , reduce cortisol and ofcourse improve your skin and hair.

Rejuvenate – By sleeping on time, waking up by sunrise and getting a morning workout, be it a beach run or a hike will set your circadian clock. This will increase your dopamine, serotonin , insulin sensitivity and also help you detox.

Energize – Nourish your body and soul , with home-made food and family. Cook and eat as a family,  meet and spend time with real people (in person not via Whatsapp or Messenger)

Doing these will also help us in calming down and  improving energy levels, sleep , productivity , fat burn and metabolism.

Spending weekends like this often will make you enjoy life, and also weekdays , so you don’t have Monday morning blues

Are you connected with us via Facebook? Here is our Facebook page where we post daily updates on health and fitness. 

Interested in losing fat and balancing  hormones sustainably? Check out our programs

How do you spend your weekends? Let us know in comments

 

Lifestyle

PMS Decoded : Causes, Triggers and Remedies

Premenstrual symptom (PMS) is something that affects 80 % of women. Even though it is experienced by women, it is also ‘suffered’ by most men (who have a wife or girl-friend).

What is PMS?

It is that set of physical and emotional changes in a woman 2 weeks prior to her menstrual period. PMS symptoms include:

  • Muscle pain or cramps
  • Anxiety and Depressed mood
  • Mood swings and irritability or anger
  • Appetite changes and food cravings
  • Headache and Fatigue
  • Weight gain related to fluid retention
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Breast tenderness
  • Acne flare-ups
  • Constipation or diarrhea

Prior to understanding why we get PMS , let us acknowledge a few  facts about PMS and painful periods.

  • PMS is not normal
  • It is not inevitable
  • Ladies do not need sick leave or work from home option every month
  • It is not a girl thing and we don’t need to put up with for a lifetime
  • It is a clear sign of hormonal imbalance

Can a lady menstruate with no PMS, no bloating, no cramping and feel completely normal through out your cycle?

It’s totally possible if we understand our body, lifestyle, habits, environmental toxins and how they affect hormones.

PMS and Cramps

A complex controlled network of hormones are needed to menstruate and ovulate perfectly. Let us understand what happens to the two hormones:  oestrogen and progesterone. For the ease of understanding, this article will focus only on these two important hormones (even though they are not the only ones).

During the first and second week of the menstrual cycle (Follicular Phase), Oestrogen levels are higher. This is why ladies look more radiant, pain tolerance is higher and can work-out well and feel very good during this time.

During the second and third week (Luteal Phase), Oestrogen level, should ideally, slowly start falling and progesterone levels should start increasing. However, for those who have PMS, one of this does not happen.

This imbalance is what leads to PMS, breaking out/acne, irritability, depression, mood swings, breast tenderness etc. This also gives rise to Oestrogen dominance if continued and not intervened.

Progesterone – our much-needed saviour hero is also an anti inflammatory hormone and the lack of which obviously increases or doesn’t curb inflammation.

What causes or worsens this imbalance?

There are many factors, that are within our control to avoid PMS.

  1. Environmental toxins: Certain toxins act as synthetic estrogen and disrupt hormonal balance. These toxins are found in all forms of plastics (including BPA free containers and Styrofoam take away boxes), fertilizers, cosmetics and personal care products.

Remedy :

  • Avoiding plastic in all possible ways of your life: GO GREEN. We are all informed about how plastic pollutes the earth around Earth day, but most of us are unaware that plastic pollutes the hormones in our body too, as xenostrogens found in plastic mimics the action of estrogen.
  • Identify natural alternatives to cosmetics: Skin is our largest organ and whatever we apply on that gets absorbed. Most people have detox tea and smoothies (say something like to cleanse the body or something), but never think about that Lipcolor, shampoo, serum and conditioner on hair and lotions on our skin. The harsh truth is that they all have hormone disruptors and the skin easily absorbs whatever is applied on it.
  1. Poor digestive/gut health : Excess estrogen in the body does not get eliminated and is reabsorbed due to gut dysbiosis or poor gut health.  gut Bacteria  regulates circulating estrogen using an enzyme known as beta-glucuronidase and when your microbiome/bacteria is out of balance, these enzymes can’t properly metabolize estrogens, which leads to  estrogen dominance.

Remedy :

  • Avoid inflammatory foods such as refined vegetable oils, or those that might cause food intolerance or sensitivity like corn and soy.
  • Avoid laxatives , PPI or medicines for acidity and heart burn, pain killers, antibiotics as they are known to have negative impact on gut lining and gut bacteria.
  • Supplement with herbs, whole foods or natural sources of probiotics to improve your gut health.
  1. Nutritional deficiency and Unregulated blood sugar levels : when we don’t get sufficient Protein, good dietary fat, cholesterol( essential to make all hormones) and other micronutrients  like Vitamin B6, Vitamin E , Magnesium(read about this miracle mineral here), Potassium , Zinc and Copper , production of most reproductive hormones including progesterone is compromised. Apart from this high insulin levels also interfere with the production of hormones.

Remedy:

  • Nourish each and every cell in your body with good food rich in nutrients. Add in supplements to fill in the gaps if needed.
  •  Avoid Refined sugary food, processed and packeted junk food that harm your digestive health , deplete your mineral and vitamin stores and increase inflammation ( Snack bars are included in this too).
  • Good quality  Fats , proteins and carbohydrates are needed for producing hormones and maintaining it in our body. Focus on sustainable balanced plates and not on crash diets, which can wreak havoc on your hormonal balance.
  1. Lack of exercise and excess body fat : Excess body fat especially that stored in the hips, waist, and thighs acts as a source of inflammation and estrogen. Excess body fat is one of the leading causes of estrogen dominance and thus PMS.  Not only does fat tissue absorb and store estrogen circulating in your bloodstream, it also synthesizes estrogen from your other hormones.

Remedy :

  • Exercise : Workout helps you release mood enhancing chemicals called endorphins which help in combating the physical and emotional effects of PMS. Working out when you get or are about to get your PMS isn’t the way to go with this.
    Regular workouts, and yoga have been proved to reduce the effects of PMS. Randomized clinical trials have shown that exercise is very effective in reducing PMS.
  1. Chronic Stress and anxiety : They both increase inflammation and also come in the way of making progesterone.

Remedy :

  • Reduce stress, meditate and find time to indulge in activities that you love. When we feel stressed our bodies release cortisol, and an overabundance of cortisol can increase inflammation, lower our immune function, overwork our adrenal system, and put us at greater risk for depression and mental illness. So it’s no surprise that too much cortisol may also aggravate PMS systems.

In a research conducted by  Bertone-Johnson in University of Massachusets on around 3000 women , she found that women who were experiencing PMS displayed higher levels of internal inflammation—and we know that more stress leads to inflammation, and more inflammation can lead to PMS.

  1. Poor sleep  : Only during sound sleep can our glands secrete reproductive hormones like progesterone , testosterone etc.

Remedy :

  • There is no alternative for restorative sleep.  As per Ayurveda, Sleep is one of the three basic pillars of life. It is crucial for rejuvenation, repair, improving metabolism and also hormonal balance and also one of the most overlooked factors that affect health.
  1. Consumption of stimulants like Alcohol and caffeine : Alcohol increases the level of natural and synthetic estrogen in body.  Studies have proven that Asian women who drink  more than 2 cups of coffee a day have increased estrogen levels in their body.

Remedy :

  • Reduce consumption or give up on stimulants. If you feel the  need for a drink or a fag or cup of coffee or tea to feel good/fresh, it is a clear sign that your body is not getting enough nourishment from the food you eat.

The good news is that lifestyle changes mentioned above does not have any side effects, unlike the numerous over the counter medicines available to reduce PMS and period cramps.

However these lifestyle changes require commitment, consistency and  discipline.

Are you connected with us via Facebook? Here is our Facebook page where we post daily updates on health and fitness. 

Interested in losing fat and balancing hormones sustainably? Check out our programs

Did you find this post informative? If yes, share with your friends and also let us know in comments.

 

Lifestyle

What to do when diagnosed with Hypothyroid?

 

Thyroid issues and goitre were rarely heard until a few years ago. However, now-a -days, it will be tough to find a person who does not have a friend, cousin or family member having a thyroid issue.

To set things straight, Hypothyroidism is not a disease, but a condition where your thyroid is not able to produce enough thyroid hormones, which might be due to several underlying conditions/triggers like iodine deficiency, high stress, inactivity, environmental toxins, poor sleep , nutrient deficiency and poor gut health. It can be reversed once these triggers and factors cease to exist.

The results of hypothyroidism are known to most people. Hair loss, Weight gain, constipation, Low energy and Mood swings are those that interfere with our daily life. Vitamin D deficiency, muscle / heel pain, high triglyceride levels etc are the other symptoms that we often tend to ignore.

pablo (88)

It all starts when the doctor tells you to do a blood test and the report comes with a high level for TSH indicating you have a thyroid that is under active. At that point, your doctor tells you that you need to have a thyroid pill first thing in the morning and also to lose weight. Most patients don’t ask the doctor for how long they need to take the pill. If they do, the reply will mostly be lifelong or till the next blood test when the thyroid numbers are normal.

On your way home, you google about hypothyroidism and diets to lose weight and then start following random diets based on forwards you get on Whatsapp, FB or other social media posts. You cut out all fat, carbs (rice), and most of your staple diet.

You start feeling terrible and very low on energy. You are tired even before you get home after work, or in some cases find it tough to do work past noon.

You want to workout but cannot even imagine going to gym. You start losing hair, sleep, energy, temper, skin clarity (pretty much everything but weight).

Wait… Stop, slow down and think rationally

When the doctor told you to lose weight, they actually meant you need to improve your body composition i.e. reducing your body fat, increasing your muscle mass and enhancing your fitness (which will improve the insulin sensitivity). For that you need to workout and increase your activity. Keep in mind that Not all intense workouts are right for hypothyroid patients.

When your thyroid is already taking the brunt, reducing good carbs and fat will make it worse since your body needs protein and good dietary fat to produce the necessary hormones. You also need good quality slow digesting ( LOW GI ) carbs to improve your energy levels. This is possible only when you time your meals, plan it and eat balanced foods.

Just doing random crash diets that doesn’t focus on your hormonal balance, or take into account your lifestyle, fitness level, routine and genetic make up will only worsen your current condition.

Eating raw vegetables and salads, with no fats or seasoning will worsen the condition as  Sweet potatoes, peanuts, cauliflower, beans, cabbage, turnips, Kale etc when eaten raw have anti nutrients/Goitrogens that affect the absorption of iodine and thus the production of thyroid hormones.

Insulin resistance and inflammation are hallmarks of most metabolic diseases/conditions including  Hypothyroid. Apart from workout and nutrition, you need to focus on your sleep and reduce your stress levels to improve insulin sensitivity and energy levels.

Also, the thyroid pill isn’t a miracle. It will not help too much, unless you change your lifestyle.

Most importantly, your mental health, your attitude towards life, stress, depression, relationships and nutrition play a huge role in improving your thyroid. Much more than what the pill can, and with no side effect.

Tip : Start doing something you love – music, dance, painting, cooking, knitting, gardening, yoga, trekking, reading, blogging or your forgotten hobby for 30 minutes thrice a week. It should be something that uses your creativity, brain and should give you happiness and self-satisfaction. This will improve your hormones, energy and stress levels a lot.

Can you reverse this condition and give up the pill and get your thyroid bounce back to normal?

Of-course you can and you don’t have to take the pills lifelong.

We need balancing wheels only when we learn to ride the cycle/bike. Once we learn to balance it by ourselves, we can freely move around on with just two wheels.

Are you connected with us via Facebook? Here is our facebook page where we post daily updates on health and fitness. 

Interested in losing fat and reversing thyroid sustainably? Check out our 16 week Thyroid Challenge

Lifestyle, Uncategorized

Why are you deficient in Vitamin D?

Is it not ironical that most of us are deficient in the only vitamin in the world that is available for free? The Internet is flooded with articles about the risks of Vitamin D deficiency and ways to increase Vitamin D levels in your body.

Let’s identify the root cause and figure out the reasons why are we becoming deficient, even when some of us live in places that have more than 300 days of sunshine in a year.  The obvious answer is that we are not exposed to sunlight as much as we need to be. This is a no brainer and anyone can guess this. However, insufficient exposure to the sun is not the only reason for the Vitamin D deficiency epidemic.

  1. Even when we are exposed to sunlight, we tend to use sunscreens. Thanks to cosmetics industry and our society, we are more conscious about our beauty and complexion than our health.
  2. We don’t consume sufficient amount of good fats. Since Vitamin D is fat soluble, good fats are essential to absorb the vitamin D from the sunlight. French fries and burgers don’t count as good fats. On the contrary, cheap refined oils like canola, corn, soybean oil etc are proven to be detrimental to health. Since such products are marketed and packaged well, we tend to fall for those products. What is needed is consumption of good fats like ghee , cold pressed traditional  oils like coconut, sesame, mustard and groundnut.

  3. In our goal of becoming ‘health conscious’, we follow what our personal trainers and newspapers say, ‘Eat only egg white and not the yolk’. In fact, some of the items deemed to be villains like egg yolks, butter and ghee actually contain the much-needed Vitamin D.
  4. Our unhealthy eating habits causes Bloating, indigestion, constipation and other digestion issues which leads to Vitamin B12 deficiency which subsequently results in Vitamin D deficiency as well.
  5. We are not eating our greens. All green leafy vegetables are rich in Vitamin K. Deficiency in Vitamin K leads to Vitamin D deficiency . Also, anaemia or iron deficiency can lead to Vitamin D deficiency as Iron Is needed to activate enzymes for Vitamin D activation. Drinking green smoothies? Read this.
  6. Most people who are deficient in Vitamin D are actually deficient in Magnesium.

    Magnesium and Vitamin D are ‘Made for Each Other‘ and one cannot function without the other .

    Read this to know about Magnesium and how to improve your Magnesium intake. 

What Doesn’t work?

  1. I get sufficient sunlight when I am in my car and at my desk (in the comfort of Air condition):  Sorry , but glass blocks all the UV- B rays that is needed to absorb Vitamin D.
  2. 20 minutes of sunshine is enough for me : That depends on your skin colour. Dark skinned people (like me and most Indians) are created that way to ensure we can live safely in places with lots of sunshine. Looking at this the other way, if your skin colour is dark, you NEED to spend more time in the sun to absorb Vitamin D.
  3. I am having Vitamin D fortified milk, orange juice and cereals: The Vitamin D in milk and cereals are in negligible amounts. Furthermore, most of it is synthetic and might aggravate health issues
  4. I am taking Vitamin D supplements – Even scientists don’t know what the ideal amount of Vitamin D supplement should one take to avoid toxicity, leading to calcification of arteries, kidney stones etc. Since it is only fat soluble, consumption of higher amounts tends to get accumulated in the body.

 

When we are deficient in a Vitamin, supplementing just that vitamin will not help. We need to understand that unlike a mechanical body like a car, where we can fill in oils and fuels whenever needed,  there is a delicate balance of nutrients needed for human body to function optimally.   Focusing only on weight loss and trying out fancy diets posted in social media and magazines will only hamper the delicate balance.

 

Does this post echo what you go through? Let us know by leaving a comment.

 

If you found this post informative, share it with your friends too.

Interested in sustainable weight loss through lifestyle changes and not crash diets? Check out our programs.

Food, Uncategorized

Hidden Sugar

Consumption of sugar has increased manifolds in the last few decades. With our modern and fast paced life, our kitchen and pantry shelves are filled with packaged food more than ever before. Sugar is in the top three ingredients of most of the packaged and processed foods. Excess sugar in our diet not just spikes our body fat, but also makes us prone to obesity, diabetes, heart diseases, hormonal disorders like Thyroid & PCOS, increases insulin resistance and inflammation which further leads to arthritis, High blood pressure and other diseases. Even though we are much more health conscious than any generation that lived on the planet, the occurrence of the above listed issues has been skyrocketing.

The daily intake of added sugar recommended by WHO is less than 6 teaspoons or 25 grams of sugar a day (This doesn’t take into count the naturally sweet foods like fruits).  While, we are unlikely to hit  even 3/4th of this threshold if we eat home cooked food, just a can of soft drink is enough to make us go overboard. After all, we do not eat gulab jamuns, cakes or payasams every day.

Let us see where does the hidden sugar in our diet comes from and which are the foods that might wreak havoc in our body, without our knowledge.

  1. Breakfast cereal and Snack bars– All breakfast cereals are highly processed, devoid of nutrients and are loaded with sugar, salt, cheap oil, and other additives. They spike the sugar levels right at the start of the day.
Special K
Special for the amount of sugar and price.

What is so special about the ‘Special’ cereals endorsed by actresses who look super fit? Their sugar levels and price are higher than the regular varieties.

 

cheerios
The several names of sugar in the same cereal
snack bars
Way too many sweetners

For those of you who are wondering what is high fructose corn syrup, it’s a cheap sweetener which is genetically modified and has several health implications

Alternative – Flattened Rice flakes/avil/poha, puffed amaranth/millets

  1. Soft drink/bottled juices – Soft drinks are nothing but a mixture of carbonated water, sugar/high fructose corn syrup and cancer causing additives like artificial colours and flavours. Just 350 ml (12OZ) of any soft drink will make you go over and above the 25 gm sugar limit.
    coke
    A can of coke has sugar way more than your day’s limit.

    This does not mean fruit juices have all the goodness of fruits, (even though some tag lines suggest it). Most fruit juices are water, sugar and added colours with fruit concentrate and flavour .

    juiceHow about the 100% fruit juice? Fruits and vegetables get oxidised easily when exposed to air, meaning the nutrients vanish in the air. Since they don’t have any amount of fibre, they spike the sugar levels too. This does not happen when you consume the whole fruit. Read more about juices and smoothies here.

Alternative – Freshly squeezed lemon juice, coconut water and plain water can quench thirst &  hydrate, and fresh fruit for a sweet tooth fix without piling on the pounds.

  1. Ketchup,jams, dressing, spreads – If dosa, idli or chapathi has to packed in lunch, most kids demand and most moms yield to squeezing jams or ketchup into the box . ketchup, jams and dressings are not just sugar laden but also filled with additives such as artificial flavours and colours that are known to be harmful to brain and cause ADHD.
    ketchup
    Ketchup , HFCS is the third main ingredient
    jam
    Sugar is the highest ingredient in any jam

    Most of us consume more empty calories from the ketchup we use as a ‘Side’ for the pizza, than the pizza itself.

Alternative – Home made chutneys and powders, filled with goodness of protein, fibre and love. Real Italian pizzas are neither loaded with cheese, nor served with ketchup .

  1. Bread, biscuits/cookies – Even the best protein biscuit has 29.8 gm of sugar for every 30 gm of protein, for which we pay a very high amount.
    threptin
    29.8 gms of sugar for 30 gm of protein, for every 100 gm.  Good for diabetics to stay diabetic lifelong.

     

     

    fibre one


    Need less to say all other digestive and cream biscuits have similar list, labels and numbers for sugar. As grown ups, if we decide to switch to the low fat chips/cookies, we are heading for even more trouble as those foods contain more sugar than the regular ones.

     

    Bread is a convenient food, not a healthy one. Watch my video about the healthiest bread.

    bread
    That’s the label of a whole wheat bread

Alternative –  Chapathis/rotis, Home made snacks, even if deep fried will not have the additives and sugar and are healthier and fresh than store-bought packaged ones. Home made phulkas or rotis have only three ingredients – flour , water and a pinch of salt.

  1. Fruit Snacks and flavoured yogurt – Snack bars , fruit bars , fruit snacks and so are the names. All they have is high fructose corn syrup, sugar, artificial colours & flavours and so on.
    fruit snack
    Corn syrup, Sugar , synthetic colours, flavours and so on

    fruitsnack
    Why buy a flavoured yogurt which is sugar laden and has artificial flavour ?

    yogurt
    Just a cup has more sugar than your daily limit- 26 grams

Alternative –  Plain home-made yogurt and fresh whole  fruits instead of processed and packaged ones.

I can hear most moms cribbing that my child/family  wont have food without flavour or the sweetness. Well, that’s because their taste buds and brain are tricked to like these flavours with the additives in these packaged food. Moms know Miracles don’t happen overnight, especially in case of kids. Constant , steady changes and educating the family about food and nutrients will help them to make better choices even if they are alone.

And for grown ups like us, lets learn to understand what is real food and what it does to body. Priority matters.

If you found this post informative, share it with your friends too.

Interested in sustainable weight loss through lifestyle changes and not crash diets? Check out our programs.