The Dairy Hangover: Cramps, Bloating & Pain

Basic RGB

Growing up, I had cereal with milk every single morning. On Fridays, my father always brought home pizza from his favorite pizza, covered in cheese – and mushrooms, if he had his way. My mother is Italian; ravioli and cheese gnocchi are dinnertime staples. When we went down the shore every summer, my brother and I could usually sway my parents to buy us Kohr’s after dinner.

Eventually, eating all of those different types of dairy products didn’t settle with my stomach. I ate less ice cream in the summertime, subbed cheese ravioli for penne, and learned to enjoy soy milk with my Special K. It seems that, over time, my body cared to digest products with dairy less and less, leaving me with some discomfort and nausea.

At some point, my body started to produce less lactase, the enzyme that breaks down lactose which is a sugar naturally found in milk. It isn’t uncommon to develop an intolerance to lactose as you grow up. Research shows that 20% of Caucasians lack the gene that has the ability to produce lactase over the course of one’s life. (The numbers are higher for other races and ethnicities: 90% of Asians, 65% of Africans and African-Americans, and 50% of Hispanics.)

Symptoms of lactose intolerance can include nausea, abdominal pain, cramps, and bloating; however, they look and feel differently for each individual. Some people can handle the occasional scoop of ice cream; others can’t.

It’s worrisome to completely remove dairy from your diet, as milk contains many essential nutrients like calcium and Vitamin D. But, you can still stay on track with your health by adding FemmePharma’s B-complex or FemmePharma’s Fab 5 to your daily vitamin routine. In addition to boosting energy levels, improving your mood, and enhancing the appearance of your skin, the B-complex* can even help with proper digestive functioning on those days you can’t resist a cone from Kohr’s!

* Not a substitute for Lactaid, or other commercially prepared forms of lactase

Spa Day Takes Care of Both Inside & Outside

SpaDayLadies
Photo by Currie Day Spa, Wayne PA

Let’s face it — some women have intense beauty rituals. Plucking, and tweezing. Shaving and waxing. (Epilation to the max) Cutting hair and dying hair. Scrubbing and exfoliating. Applying makeup. You know it’s true; we’re fixated on beautifying our exteriors. But are we paying attention to what’s ingested? It does take its toll. (Ugly on the inside, like the Portrait of Dorian Gray)

Spa Day, on July 10th, aimed to encourage women to re-think their overall health and wellness to reinforce the beautifying of the hair skin and nails. Hosted at Currie Day Spa in Wayne, patrons made appointments at the salon and Femmepharma provided free consultations with one of its nutritionists. Clients were provided free health assessments posing questions about their daily activities, nutrition, and goals to improve wellness.

Women inquired about a wide variety of health issues. How do you get enough sleep and have enough energy for a hectic workday? What foods provide a balanced diet? When entering college, how do you adjust to a new eating schedule? What vitamins should you be taking and what do they really do for your body?

After speaking with our nutritionists and learning something new, women sampled Femmepharma Whey Protein smoothies – vanilla, tropical, and chocolate cherry. The benefits of whey protein include supporting a healthy immune system and helping to build lean muscle mass, and, when combined with your favorite fruits, yogurts and/or milk, tastes great, too! The Femmepharma whey is a low calorie, gluten free, high protein supplement for women. It’s not designed for “bulking up” but it is designed to help you with weight management. Women loved the fact it’s individually packaged making it easy to take it with you wherever your day leads you.

At Spa Day, women learned something new about their daily nutrition, and the Femmepharma Whey will be their new “way” of doing something good for their bodies every day. Whey, pluck, tweeze, shave, scrub… repeat.

It’s not too late for you to assess your health! Femmepharma’s FREE nutrition questionnaire is still available online for those who were unable to hang out on Spa Day.

E-Cigarettes. Don’t get caught in the hype.

E-cigarettes, E-cig Over White Background I vividly remember sitting in a classroom in the 5th grade being terrified. It was the year that D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) was introduced to me and my fellow students. A program whose mission is to “empower children to lead safe and healthy lives,” all it did for me was activate my wild imagination. After graduating from D.A.R.E., I was convinced that tall, hooded, drug-having men were going to follow me everywhere. They would lead me into a dark alley (of which, in this universe, there were many in my suburban neighborhood) and tempt me with a candy store selection of cigarettes, booze, and drugs; from there, I would spiral out of control.

Obviously, that never happened. The people who offered me cigarettes and alcohol at a young age weren’t strangers in hoodies; they were my peers, people who appeared in my social circle. When I was offered a cigarette, I knew what to say. They smelled bad. They yellowed your teeth and your hands. They made you cough. And, they caused fatal diseases – a point that was truly driven home when my maternal grandmother passed away from lung cancer when I was only 12. So, I said, No. Daren the D.A.R.E Lion is beaming with pride right now.

Today, most likely thanks to that adorable lion Daren, smoking among high-school aged students is at a 22-year low. That’s goods news! However, traditional cigarette marketing has been replaced by electronic cigarettes, commonly known as e-cigarettes. E-cigarettes are battery-operated devices filled with liquid nicotine that is dissolved with water and a chemical called propylene glycol. They’re cheaper, “greener” for the environment, odorless, and smoke-free. To fit in, you can buy e-cigs that look like your neighbor’s Marlboro’s.

Though long-term health effects of e-cigarettes are relatively unknown as much more research needs to be done, there are definitely the same negative drawbacks that come with traditional cigarettes. E-cigs contain nicotine (just like regular cigarettes!), which, as you probably already know, is highly addictive, can increase heart rate and blood pressure, affects lung function, and previously has been used as an insecticide (blegh!). In addition, e-cigarettes are not regulated – manufacturers are not required to post just how much nicotine each e-cig contains. Essentially, we do not even know what we’re putting in our bodies!

It may not smell, look, or feel like the cigarettes that D.A.R.E. warned us about but that doesn’t mean they are good for our health (or even a better alternative). Don’t get caught in the hype; instead, stay healthy!

Think You Can ‘ Catch Up’ on Sleep? Think Again!!

Rubbing sleep out of the eyes

Think You Can ‘Catch Up’ on Sleep? Think Again!!
By Kristen Dunleavy

Typically, I’m pretty good about getting my seven to eight hours of sleep every night -especially on weeknights. But once in a while, happy hour will go totally off the rails. Before I know it, it’s midnight and I’m wearing a sombrero and singing Bon Jovi karaoke. (Hey, don’t judge.) Since I’m crazy about staying hydrated, a hangover usually isn’t the problem in the morning – it’s the lack of sleep.

On those days, I’m a total shell of a human and all I can think about is getting home from work and putting on Orange is the New Black for all of five minutes before passing out cold for a solid nine hours. Then I wake up feeling like new person and do it all over again in a few days. But it’s cool because, no matter what, I can always catch up on sleep eventually, right? NOPE!!

To my dismay, I learned recently that it’s impossible to “catch up” on sleep. Furthermore, lack of sleep does far more damage to your brain than you might’ve thought. In a study published in the Journal of Neuroscience, neuroscientist Sigrid Veasey determined that there is no real way to repair the damage you unleash on your noggin via lack of sleep.

In the study, Veasey and her researchers studied mice that slept for short, inconsistent hours. These mice lost 25 percent of the neurons in their locus coeruleus, the part of the brain associated with alertness and cognitive function.

So you might be thinking, Well, duh, I’m never alert after watching a Battlestar Galactica marathon for 12 hours straight. This would be true for anyone, but the scary part is that your brain may never fully recover after a few days of missing sleep. When the researchers allowed the same mice to sleep, they thought their cells would create more sirtuin type 3, a protein that energizes and protects cells. But the opposite happened: protein creation fell off and cells began dying at a faster pace.

Previously, we had no evidence of the real, actual damage caused by lack of sleep. Whelp, now we do! Veasey and her colleagues plan on studying the brains of deceased shift workers with inconsistent sleep patterns to explore this notion further. But considering that many women keep their daily schedules jam-packed with a million different tasks (by choice or not), now is the time to make getting good night’s sleep a serious priority in your life.

How many hours of sleep do you need to feel fully functional the next day? And do you ever skip sleep, assuming you can make up for it? (Be honest!) Tell us in the comments section!

Ladies, We Woke Up Like This

Celebrating their differences

Ladies, We Woke Up Like This
By: Amanda Nolan

A few days before Memorial Day, my roommate and I went shopping for bathing suits. Sifting through our choices, we commented on which we liked best. “I like this one, because the thicker straps hide some of my arm fat.” “I need this one with the matching skirt, so no one will know that my thighs touch.” “I should get it in black. That’s the most slimming color.” Instead of experimenting with patterns or trying a bold design, we based our decisions on bathing suits that – we thought – could make our flaws invisible. We sought out swimwear that would bring us closer to what we perceived as “perfection.” And, we didn’t buy anything because nothing was able to hide our imperfections.

It shouldn’t be surprising to hear a story about two women deliberating over their bodies. Take a look at the world around you. Women represented in television and media are predominantly white, tanned, thin, and owners of perky DDs. Rarely in television does any woman stray from this “norm.” And, when they do, they’re harassed, shamed, and given backhanded compliments. Much of the press about Lena Dunham, writer for HBO’s Girls, focuses on her body – tattooed and not stick-thin. Magazine headlines only reinforce the idea that a woman’s looks are her only worthwhile asset – and these looks are only for a male gaze. Headlines in Cosmopolitan often look like this: What Guys Secretly Think Of Your Hair & Makeup, 78 Ways To Turn Him On, What He Thinks When He Walks Through Your Door, and 20 Dresses He Will Love.

To take a page from Miss Representation’s book, “You can’t be what you can’t see.” How will women learn to accept and embrace their bodies if movies, television, popular music, and media reinforce harmful ideologies? With all of this overwhelming evidence that women have to look one way, it’s hard not to get stuck in striving for body image perfection.

Yet, women are fighting back against this standard and providing positive images for other women. Melissa McCarthy, a curvier actress who got her start on Gilmore Girls, broke box office records with the movie Bridesmaids and has been a leading actress in summer blockbusters since. Mindy Kaling, writer and star of the television show The Mindy Project, talks back to critics who call her “brave” for “daring” to be curvy in the media spotlight, asserting that she is a beautiful woman. Beyoncé released a secret album last December with songs exploring female sexuality and female empowerment – in one refrain, she tells women that they “woke up like this… flawless.”

Although society may want us to believe otherwise, women wake up flawless everyday, just like Beyoncé. Repeat after me: we’re flawless. With or without makeup, we’re flawless. In a size 0 or a size 16, we’re flawless. In a bikini or a one-piece, women are flawless.

Get in Shape Without Losing Your Sanity This Wedding Season

iStock_000013893723Medium

Get in Shape Without Losing Your Sanity This Wedding Season
By Kristen Dunleavy

In two weeks, a good friend of mine is getting married. I have no idea what I’m going to wear and I can’t even remember the name of the venue or the time of the actual event. What I do know is that we’re going to a real live rodeo for her bachelorette party and I’ll be donning my finest (and only) pair of cowboy boots. Priorities, you know?

I also know that I’ll eat everything at the wedding because I have no self control, especially when it comes to buffets. The thing about weddings is that there is always someone with a camera lurking nearby, just waiting for you to take a giant bite out of your lasagna. I know because it’s happened to me on several occasions.

While there isn’t much you can do to avoid getting tagged in 42 unflattering photos in your friend’s Facebook wedding album, there are a few short, high-impact exercises you can do to make yourself feel a little better about over-indulging this wedding season. The best part? None of them require a gym visit or equipment!

The Jumping Lunge: This one never fails to leave me sore as heck the next day. Start with your left foot and lower yourself into a lunge position. Jump straight up, switching your legs in mid-air so you land with your right leg forward. That’s one rep. Now do 10. Yep.

The Cross-Body Mountain Climber: Start in a push-up position with straight arms. Bring your right knee up toward your left elbow, then back. Now do the same with your left knee, and alternate quickly. You’ll be sweating in no time.

The Burpee: This just might be the most torturous exercise on this list, but it’s a good one. Start by standing straight then lowering yourself into a squat position and kick your feet back until you’re in a push-up position. Bring your feet back up and jump up into a straight line again. That’s one rep. If you REALLY want to torture yourself, throw a push-up in there.

The Rotating T Extension: This one is also pretty challenging. Start in a push-up position with your arms straight. Shift your weight onto your left arm and rotate your torso to your right and lift your right arm straight up into the air so that your body forms a T. You can also add a push-up to this one. Fun!

The Squat and Kick: Stand with your legs should-width apart and your heads behind your head, elbows to the sides. Bend both knees and sit back, then kick your right leg in front of you with your foot flexed. And that, friends, is one rep.

So how do you prepare for wedding season? Tell us in the comments section!

Five Reasons You Need Fish Oil in Your Life

gel capsules

Five Reasons You Need Fish Oil in Your Life
By Kristen Dunleavy

My parents have always been avid vitamin-takers, so I was only a little surprised when I saw bottles of fish oil appear on our kitchen table as a kid. Well, surprised and vaguely disgusted. Why would anyone ever want to consume concentrated fish…stuff? And then burp up said fishiness. Seriously, blargh.

It wasn’t until recently that I even understood what fish oil was and what it does. Basically, it’s jam-packed with omega-3s for the people who can’t stomach stuff like anchovies or flaxseeds. It’s in a lot of fatty fish (including tuna, salmon and mackerel) and nuts (walnuts, pine nuts and pecans) but again, we can’t all realistically eat these things on a regular basis. And that’s where fish oil comes in.

So what’s the big deal about all these omega-3s in fish oil? Here are five major benefits of the supplement.

1. Live longer: No joke, omega-3 supplements can actually help slow down the body’s aging process. As we age, a type of DNA segment called telomeres found in white blood cells shorten as the result of aging. When that happens, DNA can unravel and cause cell damage. Omega-3s help lengthen telomeres, thus helping us live longer. Fish oil: the fountain of youth!

2. Lower risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, arthritis and Alzheimer’s: Ok, that’s actually a bunch of benefits rolled into one. But as a result of helping us live longer, omega-3s can potentially put the kibosh on diseases associated with aging. That’s also because omega-3s are great at reducing inflammation, which is major attribute of many of these diseases too.

3. Feed your brain: DHA (or docosahexaenoic acid, if you want to attempt to pronounce that) is an omega-3 acid that plays a key role in brain health throughout your life. Some studies have shown that mothers who took fish oil during pregnancy had children with significantly higher hand-eye coordination than the children of mothers who didn’t take fish oil. DHA can also ward off cognitive diseases later in life.

4. Increased metabolic rate: Since omega-3s are rockstars at improving cell health, folks who take fish oil have improved nutrient delivery. Though not yet proven, there’s an excellent chance that the omega-3s in fish oil can speed up your metabolic rate as well.

5. Enhanced immune function: Omega-3s and white blood cells are BFFs. Because omega-3s support white blood cell functions (which just so happen to be key cells in your immune system) you get the benefit of enhanced immune health – and that means less sick days, more beach days. Score!

Want to try fish oil for yourself? You’re in luck! FemmePharma has the supplements at just $5.99 a pop! Get yours here.

Do you take fish oil regularly? Tell us in the comments section!

March is National Nutrition Month

March is National Nutrition Month! Thus, advice columns and advertisements on what to eat and what to avoid are as plentiful as the forbidden indulgences on a Sunday brunch buffet. As we celebrate nutrition as a nation and attempt to digest all the news, it is important that we leave room to consider our individuality when it comes to food. What is your food style? How does the way you nourish yourself reflect who you are?

I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to enjoy my young children, tend to a home, work with FemmePharma, and volunteer with other professional organizations—all at once. You could say that I like to pack things in, which means that I strive to be efficient in all that I do! When I take a moment to contemplate my eating patterns, I see that same tendency towards efficiency in the foods that I choose. Fruits and vegetables rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants such as dark leafy greens (spinach, chard, kale, and broccoli), berries, sweet potatoes, and all colors and varieties of peppers, squash, melons, tomatoes, citrus fruits, grapes, apples, bananas—they are all the mainstays of my meals and snacks. Of course, there’s always green tea and dark chocolate, super dark for me, with health promoting properties as the added bonus to the pure enjoyment!

Why does it help to know how your food style reflects who you are? So that you can draw on your strengths when you need a little direction. For me, taking time to be aware of what I am eating can point out that here and there I may have slipped into some less-than-ideal food habits. I can use this to remind myself that I like to be efficient, to pack in the activities I enjoy and the foods that are nutrient-dense, those that offer the most nutrients per calorie.

Take some time this National Nutrition Month:

–        Celebrate the things about yourself that you like the most;

–        Be aware of what you choose to eat and consider how it helps to nourish you and support your lifestyle;

–        Consider the benefits of a healthy diet full of nutrient dense fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low fat dairy, and lean protein;

–        Let your individuality guide you toward a healthy diet that reduces your risk for chronic disease and improves your health and wellness!

Enjoy your day!
Emily

Highs and Lows: One woman’s story.

iStock_000020099251Medium

At 21 Susan became pregnant, married the father of her child, and gained 55 pounds with her pregnancy.  She was elated to have been blessed with a child and concluded the pounds would come off as she breast fed her baby, and attended to household chores.  Three years and two more pregnancies later, and Susan had not shed much “baby weight”; in fact, her weight had hit an all time “high”.  With three babies and all of the challenges of motherhood she had no time for herself.   Susan was always tired, stressed out, and hungry even though she seemed to eat constantly.  She placed her “cute” clothes in a trunk and went for the “stretchy pants, and oversized sweatshirts.  They became her uniform.

Susan was at an all time low.  She felt unattractive, old, and she was bored with her routine.  Susan’s husband could see his partner deteriorating, and suggested she start taking time off beginning with a visit to the local nail salon for a pedicure. Although the appearance of her swollen feet, varicose veins, and ugly overgrown toenails horrified her, she put on her “big girl pants” and made the move. It was only short “vacation” but she desperately needed a break.  As the nail technician began to do her work, she noticed that Susan had a sore on her big toe; it was very infected.  Susan said she had injured her foot at least one month ago but hadn’t noticed or felt the pain of the sore.  The technician was concerned, stopped the pedicure, and recommended Susan see a podiatrist. Angry and frustrated, she had to abandon the idea of the relaxing pedicure.  Instead, she decided to treat herself to lunch at a local pub.  She did call a podiatrist!

(Fast forward) Susan’s podiatrist learned she had had other sores that had not healed, she was fatigued, had excessive thirst, she was experiencing vaginal infections, and waking during the night to go to the bathroom.  He suspected type2 diabetes and suggested Susan see her physician for diagnostic tests.  Susan was concerned; her Mom had diabetes and had developed a series of complications resulting in her death.

Nearly 79 million adults are at risk for developing diabetes.  If left untreated it can lead to heart disease, kidney disease, stroke, amputation, and death. Susan’s symptoms are consistent with the symptoms some women experience as early warning signs of diabetes but it’s important to routinely check your blood sugar and have other diagnostic tests such as the hemoglobin A1C test.

With proper diet and exercise diabetes can be prevented.  If diagnosed with diabetes, there are tools that may prevent the disease from progressing.  Susan started by making adjustments in her diet including increasing the amount of protein she consumed and decreasing her carbohydrate and fat consumption.  She began walking with her children to and from the bus stop and then walking around the track at her local high school.  After one year she’s back at an all time low; she is ten pounds lighter than her pre-pregnancy weight.

Health and Happiness in the New Year!

new year

The FemmePharma Woman guards her health; in fact, she is ferocious about maintaining the healthiest lifestyle possible for herself and for her loved ones. It should be obvious that you cannot be there for your loved ones if you have not been fastidious about your health care needs.

Yes, I know, you’re pulled in all directions and some days you don’t know if you took the time to “breathe”.  BUT it’s time to pick up that calendar and plot out the year for your physical and “age appropriate” diagnostic tests. Tackle each one. If you’re terrified take a friend or loved one.  You may have to pay “dearly’ for making someone sit in the doctor’s office while you get poked and prodded so better think about  “pay back”…..

As you receive an “unremarkable finding” celebrate with your friends and family members and be grateful. (YAHOO).

If there is a challenge to be faced the sooner it’s confronted the higher the probability you and your practitioners can address it and hopefully resolve it.  Don’t worry either; worry is useless! Conserve your energy and attitude and fight for your health.

January:

January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month.  Remember to schedule that Pap Test.
What is cervical cancer?
It’s cancer that begins in the cervix; at the “upper end” of the vaginal canal.
What causes cervical cancer?
Most cases of cervical cancer are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) infection.  Often referred to as “genital warts”.
How many women are diagnosed with cervical cancer?
The National Cancer Institute (NCI), estimates that 12,300 women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2013 and over 4,000 will die of the disease.
What are the symptoms of cervical cancer?
There are typically no overt symptoms of the disease but regular Pap tests will be able to identify early pre-cancerous, or cancerous cells.

Early detection is not cliché; it may save your life.