Hormones in Harmony

Living abundant joy through bio-psycho-spiritual balancing

Location: Ojai, California, United States

Welcome to Hormones in Harmony where I shall share pearls of wisdom gathered over two decades of consulting with the hormonally challenged. As a holistic nurse practitioner specializing in neuro-immune-endocrinology, I have merged my western education with eastern philosophies, but the key to being a successful healer is to embody physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing. At 54, married for 32 years with two grown children, I strive to keep my Hormones in Harmony with a positive attitude, a loving environment, and faithful consumption of Genesis Gold.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Best Natural Ways to Increase Your Testosterone

Testosterone is the hormone of manliness. Yes, women make testosterone too, yet men make much more to achieve the body size, muscle mass, bone density and strength associated with manhood.

Low testosterone levels contribute to infertility, loss of lean body mass, increased body fat, moodiness and even hot flashes. Yes, men have hot flashes too.

In men, testosterone is a hormone produced primarily by the testicles. As men age, testosterone levels decline. By age 30, stress, lack of exercise, highly processed foods and exposure to xenoestrogens (synthetic chemicals that have estrogenic effects like those found in pesticides) depletes testosterone levels.

In the past fifteen years the norm for blood levels of testosterone in men has dropped dramatically. Most men have no idea what their testosterone levels were when they were young and virile. By the time they seek medical attention with signs of low testosterone including erectile dysfunction, low libido, loss of muscle mass, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, and rising cholesterol levels, their testosterone has dropped significantly.
In severe cases, bio-identical testosterone replacement therapy can be prescribed by an experienced health practitioner. Yet high doses and continual use will diminish your natural ability to make testosterone.

8 Ways to Naturally Increase Testosterone Levels

1. Lose Body Fat

Healthy men should have less than 18% body fat. The American Council on Exercise compares male and female body fat percentages by activity level.

graph credit: American Council on Exercise

Notice that women need more body fat to produce hormones specifically estrogen. When men approach female body fat levels, guess what, they produce more estrogen too!

Lose the belly fat by cutting out all refined sugars and starches. Eat only whole grains and get most of your carbohydrate calories from vegetables. Your diet should consist of no more than 30-40% of your calories from carbohydrates. Carbs are fuel. If you aren’t using them as energy, you’re storing them as fat.

2. Exercise Nearly Every Day

High intensity exercise, combined with really slow weight resistance is the best way to increase lean body mass. This means interval training. Do some type of high intensity exercise for short bursts—running, biking, treadmill, rowing, elliptical—about 30 seconds as fast and hard as you can. Then slow down for 60-90 seconds. And repeat the cycle 8-10 times. Do this three times per week and you will burn fat and increase lean body mass.

Once a week, go for a long slow aerobic activity—hike, bike, run, swim. Be sure to stretch after each exercise session and always warm up well. As you get older, you lose flexibility, so warming up for at least ten minutes and cooling down with adequate stretching will prevent injury. Go slow, if you are a former couch potato.

At least once weekly, lift heavy weights really, really slow. Strive for a contraction phase of 40-60 seconds and a release phase of double the time (80-120 seconds). Do just one exercise per body part, and you will increase your muscle strength and endurance significantly. Be sure to get professional help at the gym before tackling heavy weights, so you don’t hurt yourself. And of course, warm up first!

At least once weekly, take a day off. This allows your muscles to repair themselves. You will notice results faster with less injuries, if you give your body a weekly break. Take a relaxing stroll with a loved one, walk the dog, do some light gardening—just no intense exercise.

3. Get Enough Sunshine

Vitamin D is the sunshine vitamin. It’s a pro-hormone that allows your steroid hormones to get into the cells. You need at least 15-20 minutes of sunbathing (80% of your skin exposed without sunscreen) to make enough Vitamin D for your daily needs. If your serum levels are low, you may need to supplement with a triglyceride based Vitamin D to optimize your levels. Studies have shown that those populations with the longest longevity average 50 ng/dl of 25OH Vitamin D in their blood.

4. Consume Enough Zinc

Zinc is a mineral that is important for testosterone production. Too much zinc can dangerously lower copper levels, so it is best to get zinc from your diet, rather than supplementation. Zinc is found in meats and fish, raw milk, raw cheese, beans, and yogurt or kefir made from raw milk. Be sure to eat organic grass fed meats and diary products as conventional farming methods rely heavily on chemical fertilizers and pesticides which rob the soil of nutrients like zinc.

5. Eat Enough Healthy Fat

Testosterone is a steroid hormone which means it’s made from cholesterol. As your testosterone levels drop, your cholesterol levels rise specifically LDL cholesterol (the large particle type). You need to eat fat to make testosterone. Be sure to get at least 30% of your calories from fat. And one third of those fat calories should come from saturated fats. Saturated fats help create cells membranes allowing hormones to get into the cells through receptor sites.

Healthy fats include: olives and olive oil, coconut oil, avocado, nuts, seeds, meat, poultry, fish, diary products, and eggs. Fried foods do not count as healthy fats. In fact, high heat adulterates fat and should be avoided.

6. Get Enough Protein

Protein is made up of amino acids which are the basic building blocks of all your tissues. Branched chain amino acids (BCAA) like leucine, isoleucine and valine are needed to build muscle and connective tissue like tendons and ligaments. Whey protein is rich in BCAAs and a safer alternative to using individual amino acid supplements. Animal proteins are the best source of BCAAs, but legumes are a good alternative.
You should be eating 0.5-0.75gm of protein per pound of lean body mass. Your lean body mass can be calculated by subtracting your body fat in pounds from your body weight. For instance if you weigh 200# and you have 15% body fat (or 30# of body fat) your lean body mass (LBM) is 170#. Which means you need at least 85 grams of protein daily to maintain your lean body mass. A 4 oz chicken breast has about 28gm of protein.

7. Reduce Stress

Stress in any form creates a fight or flight reaction. Your adrenals do not know the difference between a tiger chasing you and your worry over a late bill. The reaction is the same—adrenaline surges to get you out of danger, followed by cortisol released to fuel the fight or flight. If you were really running away from a tiger, the stored sugar released by your cortisol surge would fuel your flight. If not, you get to store it as body fat!
Cortisol blocks the effect of testosterone in the body. While testosterone is an anabolic hormone (builds tissue), cortisol is a catabolic hormone (breaks down tissue).

Meditation is a great way to reduce stress. Learning relaxation skills like deep breathing and visualization can help reduce stress. Most stress responses are learned. Seek professional help from a licensed therapist to teach you how to be less reactive to your stressors. Chronic stress is the biggest hormone challenger which will age you rapidly.

8. Balance Your Hypothalamus

Most hormonally challenged men have been testosterone deficient and cortisol driven for so long, their hypothalamic-pituitary axis is disturbed. In the center of your brain, the hypothalamus orchestrates your hormonal response, all of your hormones. The hypothalamus perceives your world through your senses and all the hormones you produce via the bloodstream. It then tells the pituitary what hormones to stimulate according to what is most necessary for survival. If you do not correct hypothalamic imbalance, you will need hormone supplementation for life.

I created Genesis Gold® to help balance out the entire symphony of hormones and optimize hypothalamic response. Plus the whole food phytonutrients help your body metabolize and detoxify your hormones safely. Many of my male patients have been able to achieve optimal testosterone levels by taking Genesis Gold® and following the healthy lifestyle habits suggested above.
Keep Hormones in Harmony with Genesis Gold
Keep Hormones in Harmony with Genesis Gold
Read more about how Genesis Gold® can help you achieve your optimal state of wellness at www.genesisgold.com

Copyright 2015 DMaragopoulos

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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

How Hormones Affect Your Health

From Puberty to the Pause

Your hormone story began when you were in your mother’s womb. As a growing fetus your hormones were higher than they will ever be again. All those hormones helped you grow from a tiny zygote to a newborn baby. At birth, you entered a hormonal slump. Although growth occurs, hormones are naturally low in childhood. But at puberty, your hormones entered a fantastic rollercoaster.

First your adrenals started pumping out high levels of DHEA—a hormone needed to metabolize protein and fat for you to grow rapidly. DHEA converted to testosterone and hair began sprouting on your body and you developed body odor. DHEA then converted to estrogen and your breasts budded. A couple years later, your ovaries woke up and you had your first period.

During this time your pancreas began pumping out glucagon to release stored baby fat and insulin to fuel your pubescent growth. A couple years after menarche, your growth hormone levels peaked and you reached your full adult height. Then your thyroid hormone levels reached a plateau to maintain your new young adult metabolism.

Perimenopause follows the same pattern as puberty, but in the opposite direction!

As we came in thus we go out….

First your adrenals falter. Stress greatly affects you and you get tired easily.
Then your ovaries slow down. Your periods become heavier, irregular, you begin skipping periods. You become moody, irritable, and forgetful. Then fat! Because your pancreas is producing more and more insulin to keep up with the Change and eventually you become insulin resistant.

Then your growth hormone levels drop and you just don’t heal as quickly. You do not recover from exercise or a late night out like you did when you were younger. Finally your thyroid slows way down. Why? Because you cannot have a high metabolism with low hormones….you would literally implode.

Hormones Also Affect Your Digestion and Detoxification

We are what we eat…literally.

We all know that protein builds muscle and that carbohydrates are energy foods, but did you know that every chemical you make, every hormone, every neurotransmitter, every cytokine, all come from nutrients derived from the food you eat?

If your diet does not provide all the nutrients necessary to run your system, then something has to go…Usually those parts of your body that are not crucial for life--your skin, your hair, your nails.  Your internal health is directly related to your external appearance.

Hormones are made up of protein and fat…specifically cholesterol. In fact, “steroid” hormones are derived from the “sterol” in cholesterol. When you reach middle age and your hormones begin to decline, your cholesterol naturally rises in response. Your liver is just trying to help out your failing ovaries!

Food is digested into protein, fat, and carbohydrates. These macronutrients provide calories and building blocks for new tissues and biochemicals like hormones. Micronutrients are the vitamins and minerals that help run the system. If you cannot digest your food properly, break it down into absorbable macronutrients and assimilate it into essential micronutrients, then you cannot produce adequate hormones to remain healthy.

Your liver and kidneys are organs that detoxify your body. They need energy from food (mostly carbohydrates) and essential amino acids (from protein) and essential fatty acids (from fats) to do their job. They also require micronutrients to run the detoxification pathways. It’s an incredibly complicated system -- One that most health care providers ignore.  

Years ago I was attending a medical conference. The physician presenter was lecturing on the drug interactions between a blood thinner and Tylenol. After the lecture, I asked: where in the hepatic detoxification pathways were the interactions occurring? When he didn’t answer, I clarified by asking specifically about phase I enzyme interactions versus phase II conjugation issues. As if I was speaking a different language, he said very slowly and very loudly, “I am a lung doctor, not a liver doctor.”

I replied, “Doctor, don’t all your ‘lung’ patients have livers? So wouldn’t it behoove you and your patients to know what detoxification pathways are affected? That way you can advise your patients on what foods, herbs, and supplements to also avoid.”  

He shook his head. “I just check their blood levels frequently.”

And his patients are dependent on him not to bleed to death!

Now I know that as a layperson, you probably do not have a clue about the hepatic detoxification pathways but I expected my esteemed colleague to understand. We learned this basic physiology in our undergraduate pre-med training. Yet so few of us utilize knowledge of biochemistry in our clinical practices. And it is SO VERY IMPORTANT!

That’s why as a patient you need to know how your body works so you can make the healthiest choices. Knowledge is power and very well may save your life.

I keep my Hormones in Harmony® and optimize my digestion, detoxification and metabolism by taking Genesis Gold® . So even the Pause is just another Joyous Transformation!

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