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You’re Hot Or You’re Cold…Do You Have A Thyroid Problem?

Your thyroid is the small, butterfly-shaped gland in the front of your neck and its job is to control the speed of your body’s metabolism and to convert food into energy.  When this little organ isn’t functioning properly, it can cause a LOT of problems…especially for women.1,2

It is estimated that 20 million Americans can be affected by thyroid disease and that close to 60% of those are unaware they even have the condition.  Women are five to eight times more likely than men to have thyroid issues and one in eight will develop a thyroid issue during her life.3

There are two types of thyroid problems –  hypothyroidism, where the body has too little thyroid hormone and hyperthyroidism, where too much thyroid hormone is produced.  There could be a number of reasons why your thyroid is on the blink, such as genetics, stress, an autoimmune problem, nutritional deficiencies, or environmental toxins.2 The following are some signs and symptoms of each type.

Hypothyroidism1,2,4

  • Lack of energy
  • Depressed or sad
  • Feeling cold
  • Decreased interest in sex
  • Weight gain
  • Forgetfulness
  • Heavier and longer periods
  • Dry skin
  • Muscle cramps
  • Dry hair that breaks and falls out
  • Constipation
  • Sleeping often

 

Hyperthyroidism1,2,5

  • Weight loss
  • Feeling too warm or sweating too much
  • Nervous, jittery, or anxious
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Lighter and shorter periods
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Balding, thinning hair
  • Hand tremors
  • More frequent bowel movements

A change in your voice, lump in your throat, or high blood pressure are symptoms of both hypo- and hyperthyroidism, so be on the lookout for these as well.2

Get Tested

If you have one or more of these symptoms, go see your doctor and discuss getting a blood test to determine the levels of these hormones:  thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), Free T3, and Free T4.  After a review of your lab results, you may be prescribed synthetic thyroxine (levothyroxine sodium tablets) for hypothyroidism.  If you have hyperthyroidism, antithyroid drugs may be prescribed, such as methimazole. 4,5

Follow Up

It is important to continue to visit your doctor yearly so that your thyroid hormone and TSH levels can be checked, particularly if you have hypothyroidism.  For both hypo- and hyperthyroidism, family members should be checked as well.4,5

Hormones and Your Thyroid

Be sure to tell your doctor if you are taking any hormones such as progesterone or estrogen as these can affect thyroid function.  Too much estrogen, for example, can lead to low thyroid levels.6

Listen to your body.  The talking your thyroid gland does can help you stay healthy!

 

REFERENCES:

  1.  http://www.safemenopausesolutions.com/thyroid.html.
  2. http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20723100,00.html#a-thyroid-disorder-epidemic—0.
  3. https://www.thyroid.org/media-main/about-hypothyroidism/
  4. https://www.thyroid.org/hypothyroidism/
  5. https://www.thyroid.org/hyperthyroidism/
  6. https://drhedberg.com/hormone-thyroid-connection/.

Sorry.  Not tonight.

Face it.  Getting older stinks!  Your hair gets gray, you start getting wrinkles, and your skin starts getting thin and loses its elasticity.  Yup, even down THERE the walls of the vagina get thin.  It’s called “vaginal atrophy” and due to lower levels of estrogen, it can affect approximately 50% of postmenopausal women.  Some of the unpleasant symptoms of vaginal atrophy include, vaginal dryness, itching, irritation, and/or pain during sex, also called “dyspareunia”.1

So what can be done to help make sex more enjoyable and less painful?

  • Don’t be silent! Talk to your doctor, get a pelvic exam, and make sure it’s not anything more serious.  And don’t forget to talk about ALL of your symptoms.  Fewer than one-half of women with vaginal atrophy discuss painful sex with their doctor.  Why?  They think nothing can be done about it or that it’s just something that happens as we age.2
  • Use water-soluble lubricants such as Astroglide® or K-Y® Jelly. Do not use Vaseline®, which is NOT water soluble.  It can weaken latex condoms and they could break.  Not so much a big deal for postmenopausal women who are over their childbearing years, but condoms are still good protection against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), even for the older generation!3 According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, STD rates have nearly tripled over the past ten years among 45- to 65-year olds.4
  • Communicate with your partner. Tell him or her what is comfortable and what isn’t.  Consider different positions.  Use other activities, such as sensual massage or oral sex.  Even fantasy can be fun, too, and can include music, videos, or television.  Remember, sex should be fun!3
  • Low-dose vaginal estrogen therapy. This type of product provides relief right where it is needed and minimizes possible estrogen side effects on the rest of the body.  It comes in various forms, such as vaginal creams, rings, or tablets, and these products are very effective for atrophy-related pain during sex, with up to 93% of women reporting significant improvement, and 57% to 75% reporting reporting their sexual comfort is restored.5
  • Selective estrogen receptor modulator (SERM). In 2013, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved ospemifene (Osphena®), a SERM for the treatment of postmenopausal dyspareunia which increases vaginal epithelial cells and decreases vaginal pH.2

So speak up and get treated!  You’ll be glad you did, and so will your partner!

REFERENCES:

 

  1. http://medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=114511.
  2. http://www.aafp.org/afp/2014/1001/p465.html.
  3. http://www.webmd.com/menopause/guide/sex-menopause
  4. https://www.everydayhealth.com/erectile-dysfunction/0203/why-stds-are-skyrocketing-among-older-adults.aspx
  5. http://www.menopause.org/for-women/sexual-health-menopause-online/effective-treatments-for-sexual-problems/vaginal-and-vulvar-comfort-lubricants-moisturizers-and-low-dose-vaginal-estrogen

Astroglide®, K-Y® Jelly, Vaseline®, and Osphena® are all registered trademarks of their respective companies.

 

Think Vaccines Are Just for Children?  Think Again!

Fall is here!  Just about everything we eat or drink is pumpkin spiced, the leaves on the trees are turning beautiful colors of red, orange, and yellow, and it’s sweater weather!  While great for snuggling or sitting around a firepit, the cooler temperatures increase our risk of getting sick.  Cooler weather can weaken our immune system, allowing illness and infection to set in and lower temperatures also make it easier for viruses to travel from person to person.  As we age and our immune systems weaken, winter can be even more dangerous.1

Many seniors believe they don’t need vaccines, or are afraid of their side effects, but seniors aged 65 and older are at higher risk of the complications from the diseases themselves.2  It is estimated that as many as 50,000 to 70,000 adults per year die from pneumonia and influenza in the United States.  This number could be greatly reduced, and getting immunized is a part of healthy aging.3

Here are some important immunizations that are recommended for seniors, particularly senior women.  As always, consult your physician regarding the best plan for you as every person is different and has different needs.

Influenza vaccine

Want to help prevent the sneezing, sniffles, aches, and pain related to the flu?  You need a flu shot.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all adults get an annual flu vaccine.4  Why?  Over 60% of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations occur in seniors aged 65 and older.  The manufacturer updates the vaccine each year to make sure it is able to combat the most current virus.2  Data show that more men aged 65 and older receive the flu shot (70%) versus women (68%).5

Pneumococcal vaccine

This vaccine protects against pneumococcal disease, including infections in the lungs and bloodstream.4  Only 64% of elderly women and 63% of elderly men ever had the vaccine.5  Seniors 65 years and older need a series of two different vaccines to protect against pneumococcal disease.2

Zoster vaccine

It is estimated that one million Americans get shingles each year and approximately half of them are aged 60 and above.4  Shingles is a very painful, blistering rash that is contagious.  It is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, the same virus that causes chicken pox.  Getting the shot can decrease your risk of having shingles by about 50% or minimize its severity.2  Only 34% of women aged 65 and older have ever had a shingles vaccine.5

Tetanus-Diphtheria-Pertussis vaccine (Tdap)

Remember getting a tetanus shot as a kid?  Well, now the CDC recommends that every adult should get a Tdap shot once if they did not receive it as a child because it protects against tetanus, diphtheria, as well as whooping cough.  Then, you should get a tetanus-diphtheria booster shot every 10 years.4  More seniors are contracting whooping cough, possibly due to fading immunity.2  Data show that men aged 65 and older received a tetanus vaccine more often than women (61%) versus (54%).5

Let’s go ladies!  Get vaccinated today!

Many senior women are caregivers, so protecting your health is as important to you as it is to those who depend on you.

References:

  1.  https://www.ncoa.org/blog/4-important-vaccines-seniors-covered-medicare/
  2. http://www.comfortkeepers.com/home/info-center/senior-health-wellbeing/recommended-immunizations-for-seniors.
  3. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/adult-vaccines-beyond-the-basics.
  4. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/adults/rec-vac/index.html.
  5. https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/882254.

Let the Sun Shine

Heading to the beach in the last days of summer? Be sure to catch as many rays as you can.

Ultraviolet B rays from the sun are a great source of Vitamin D, a fat-soluble vitamin that is necessary for bone health and promotes absorption of calcium. In addition, Vitamin D benefits our hearts, lungs, and brains as well as helps fight infection. (1,2)

Low levels of Vitamin D have been seen to occur in babies who are breastfed, older adults whose skin is less adept at absorbing Ultraviolet B rays and whose kidneys are less efficient at conversion to a usable form; people with dark skin, as higher levels of melanin compete for absorption of Ultraviolet B rays; and obese people, as body fat can prevent Vitamin D from being absorbed. (7,8)

Symptoms of low Vitamin D levels include a sweaty forehead, bone pain, depression, fatigue, poor sleep, and getting sick often. (10) People with low levels of Vitamin D are at risk for developing breast, colon, and prostate cancers; high blood pressure; osteoarthritis; and immune-system disorders. (9)

Our bodies do not produce Vitamin D naturally. Instead, we absorb the vitamin from the sun, ingest it in Vitamin D-rich foods, and sometimes take supplements. (1) We absorb Ultraviolet B rays from the sun through our skin. Generally, only about 25 minutes of sun exposure/day is sufficient to maintain healthy levels of Vitamin D and we don’t need to get a sunburn or even a tan. In fact, even if we wear sunscreen most of the time, we can still absorb the necessary amount of Ultraviolet B rays. (35)

Supplements are another good source for Vitamin D, but proceed with caution as too much Vitamin D can be toxic! Our bodies have a system in place to stop too much Vitamin D being absorbed naturally, but we can take too much in the form of supplements. Symptoms of too much Vitamin D include vomiting, constipation, and dangerous amounts of calcium in the body. (9)

Diet is great source of Vitamin D through fatty fish like tuna and salmon, beef liver, cheese, egg yolks, yogurt, mushrooms, and foods fortified with Vitamin D (such as milk, orange juice, and some cereals). (6,7)

Try a few of these Vitamin D-Rich Recipes!

  1. http://www.health.com/health/recipe/0,,10000001996452,00.html
  2. http://www.healthyfood.co.uk/recipe/grilled-salmon-burgers-caper-dressing/

 

References

  1. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/
  2. https://www.vitamindcouncil.org/about-vitamin-d/what-is-vitamin-d/
  3. https://www.vitamindcouncil.org/about-vitamin-d/how-do-i-get-the-vitamin-d-my-body-needs/
  4. http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20504538,00.html#sunlight-0
  5. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/6-things-you-should-know-about-vitamin-d
  6. http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/guide/calcium-vitamin-d-foods
  7. https://medlineplus.gov/vitaminddeficiency.html
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3356951/
  9. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/27/health/27brod.html
  10. http://www.rd.com/health/wellness/vitamin-d-deficiency-symptoms/

Vaginal Dryness

Have you experienced the pain and discomfort of vaginal dryness?

Also known as vaginal atrophy, vaginal dryness is known to affect women of any age, though it is most common post-menopause. (1) Symptoms include soreness in the vaginal area; an itchy, burning feeling; and a burning sensation during urination. (2) A routine pelvic exam will show if the vaginal walls are thin, red, or pale. (2)

There are a number of factors that can cause vaginal dryness:

  • Sjögren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disease in which attacks the body’s moisture glands causing dryness throughout the body (3);
  • Douching can lead to vaginal dryness by disrupting the balance of good and bad bacteria in the vagina. Doctors recommend that women do not douche, as it can lead to several health problems (4);
  • Certain medications, such as blood-pressure medicines, antidepressants, and allergy and cold medicines can also lead to vaginal dryness (5,6);
  • Anxiety and stress can affect sexual arousal (7); and
  • A drop in estrogen levels caused by menopause and perimenopause, childbirth and breastfeeding, surgical removal of ovaries (2,6), treatments for cancer such as chemotherapy (8), and nicotine dependence. (9)

Vaginal dryness can be eased by adhering to these tips:

  • Don’t douche
  • Quit smoking
  • Relieve stress and anxiety
  • Stay hydrated
  • Avoid scented soaps and lotions (2)

If you are experiencing vaginal dryness, don’t worry! You are not alone and treatments are available. Talk to your health-care professional about possible solutions.

 

References:

 

  1. http://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/vaginal-dryness/basics/definition/sym-20151520
  2. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000892.htm
  3. http://www.webmd.com/arthritis/tc/sjogrens-syndrome-topic-overview
  4. https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/douching
  5. http://www.aarp.org/health/drugs-supplements/info-04-2012/medications-that-can-cause-sexual-dysfunction.html
  6. http://www.webmd.com/women/guide/vaginal-dryness-causes-moisturizing-treatments#1
  7. https://www.everydayhealth.com/vaginal-dryness/guide/
  8. http://www.thebreastcaresite.com/chemotherapy/hormonal-changes-chemotherapy/
  9. https://smokefree.gov/quitting-smoking/reasons-quit/health-effects

Big Fish Benefits-Omega-3s

We’ve all heard about the benefits of fish oil through the years: The oils present in the tissues of certain fish which contain beneficial omega-3 fatty acids (omega-3s), the “essential” fats that are said to contribute to the prevention of heart disease and stroke (1,2), lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels, and help in the treatment of kidney disease. This “brain food” is also thought to help in the treatment of depression, bipolar disease, Alzheimer’s, and ADHD. Furthermore, fish oil can be used to treat painful periods, breast pain, and studies have shown it to aid in preventing miscarriage. (3,4)

However, these benefits are still being tested. For example, in March 2017, the American Heart Association stated that fish oil may not prevent heart disease in all people as previously thought. Instead, they have modified their stance to say that fish oil may be useful in preventing heart disease-related death in people who recently suffered heart attack or in patients with heart failure. (5)

Our bodies can’t produce omega-3s themselves, so we need to obtain them from other sources. The best place to get omega-3s is straight from the foods we eat. Wild fish that are high in omega-3s include salmon, tuna, anchovies, sardines, and lake trout. Farm-raised fish can also be high in omega-3s, but can contain higher levels of contaminants, so these should be eaten less often. (3) Additionally, soybean, canola, and flaxseed oils, as well as walnuts, flaxseed, basil, dried oregano, and grape leaves all contain high levels of omega-3s. (3,6)

Fish oil supplements are a great option for people who are on vegan diets or who may not be able to afford fresh fish, which can be expensive.

For all the benefits fish oil is said to have, there can be several adverse effects at high doses, including but not limited to an increase in bleeding in patients with bleeding disorders or who are on drugs that increase the risk of bleeding. Fish oil may also affect blood sugar levels and those with hormone imbalance or who are going through hormone therapy should use with caution. Additionally, fish oil may cause bad breath, frequent urination, constipation, gas, and dizziness. (7)

The FDA generally regards omega-3s safe when we eat 1-2 servings of fish per week or supplements are taken at a recommended dosage over the course of 2-3.5 years. (7) In general, healthy adults can safely take between 250 and 3000 mg EPA and DHA (the primary beneficial omega-3s) combined per day. (8) However, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should opt for supplements rather than eating certain fish due to their high mercury levels. (3)

Here are some recipes to get your omega-3s naturally!

  1. http://www.onegreenplanet.org/vegan-recipe/basil-and-walnut-pesto-quiche/
  2. http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/oil-poached-tuna-salad
  3. http://skinnyms.com/walnut-crusted-chicken-breasts/

 

References

  1. http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-993-fish%20oil.aspx?activeingredientid=993
  2. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/omega-3-fats/
  3. http://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/omega-3-fatty-acids-fact-sheet#1
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8305926
  5. http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/early/2017/03/13/CIR.0000000000000482
  6. https://www.cardiosmart.org/News-and-Events/2017/04/Experts-Help-Clarify-Who-Should-Take-Fish-Oil-Supplements
  7. http://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/omega-3-fatty-acids-fish-oil-alpha-linolenic-acid/safety/hrb-20059372
  8. http://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-much-omega-3#section8

The Buzz on Bug Bites

Picture this: You’re at a backyard BBQ, talking with group of friends. Every few minutes, you feel a sting or hear an ominous buzzing noise and you know you’re being eaten alive by bugs. But — nobody else seems to be bothered. It’s as if you’re wearing a big neon sign that reads “BUFFET IS OPEN!” But you’re not… right?

Maybe you are.

It turns out that some people are just more attractive to bugs like mosquitoes and ticks. For example, mosquitoes are drawn to people with high concentrations of cholesterol or steroids on the surface of their skin. They also like people who produce more uric and lactic acids. (1) Both mosquitoes and ticks are attracted by carbon dioxide and show a marked preference for Type O blood over Types A and B. (24) There could also be a genetic factor at play: 85% of humans produce a secretion that essentially advertises their blood type. It turns out mosquitoes are more attracted to this group of people no matter their blood type. (2)

Passion for Fashion?

Both mosquitoes and ticks can see color – and have preferences! People wearing dark colors like navy, black, and red are more recognizable to mosquitoes, while ticks lean towards light colors. (4,5)

Go Incognito

A few natural ways to dim that neon sign are:

  • STOP! The less you move around, the less carbon dioxide and lactic acid you will produce. (1)
  • Be CLEAN. The cleaner you are and the less sweat you have on your body, the less attractive you are to biting bugs. (6)
  • Avoid certain FOODS. Uric acid is produced when our bodies digest certain foods like anchovies, dried beans and peas, and beer (uh-oh!). (7)
  • Wear DARK clothing to avoid ticks. Additionally, clothing with built-in tick repellant is quite effective. (8)
  • Wear LIGHT clothing to avoid mosquitoes.

References

  1. http://www.webmd.com/allergies/features/are-you-mosquito-magnet#1
  2. https://www.treehugger.com/health/7-reason-mosquitoes-bite-some-people-more-others.html
  3. http://www.sentinelsource.com/life_and_style/home_and_garden/why-do-some-folks-attract-ticks-more-than-others/article_b686c2c7-3eb7-5eab-8c9f-292c8bfeedac.html
  4. (http://www.tickbites.net/attracts-ticks-humans/
  5. https://www.treehugger.com/health/7-reason-mosquitoes-bite-some-people-more-others.html
  6. http://modernnotion.com/why-bugs-bite-people-others/
  7. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003476.htm
  8. http://www.tickencounter.org/prevention/top_ten_things_list

 

Gut Bacteria

Bacteria is everywhere. We are hyper-aware of the dangers of E. coli, Staphylococcus, Listeria, and Salmonella, so we try to make our world as healthy as possible by sanitizing and bleaching them away.

However, bacteria doesn’t only exist in the world around us; it’s inside of us all. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

From birth, every one of us will acquire more than 1000 unique species of bacteria in our gastrointestinal systems, or guts. We get our personal mix of gut bacteria from vaginal vs. caesarian section births; breast milk vs. formula; the bacteria on our family members and in our homes, schools, parks, etc.; and the foods we eat. Basically, we gather our gut bacteria from the world around us. Though most people share some of the same organisms, each one of us has a unique cocktail of gut bacteria that can work for and against our personal health throughout our lives. (1, 2)

The Good and the Bad

Our good bacteria is a wondrous thing. At its most basic function, bacteria aids in food digestion, produces vitamins B and K, and acts as a barrier in the immune system to boost health. (1, 3)

Ninety-five percent of the serotonin in our bodies is produced in the gut, keeping an open line of communication with the brain. Pain, anxiety, mood, hunger, and illness are among the things constantly communicated between brain and gut via serotonin. (4, 5)

Gut bacteria is also seen to have an impact on weight. Recent evidence has shown that the gut bacteria in people of a healthy weight is more varied than that of obese people. A study performed on mice shed a bit more light on the phenomenon: Gut bacteria from sets of human twins with one obese and one lean twin were given to baby mice. When the mice were in separate cages and eating the same diet, those with the obese twin’s bacteria gained more weight. However, when the mice were placed in a cage together, the obese mice began to lose weight as they ingested the lean mice’s feces and acquired their beneficial gut bacteria. (6)

Healthy Gut

The best way to have a healthy gut is to promote a wide variety of bacteria… but how?

Fiber. A great way to boost healthy bacteria in your gut is to eat foods with lots of fiber, which can be digested by certain gut bacteria, causing them to reproduce. High-fiber foods to include in your diet could include raspberries, bananas, pears, whole wheats, barley, bran, split peas, lentils, a variety of beans, artichokes, green peas, and turnip greens. (7) Bonus: Eating a diet rich in fruits and veggies can halt the growth of some bad bacteria. (8)

PRObiotics. Probiotics are the good guys! We can feed our guts the good bacteria through probiotic-rich foods as well as with over-the-counter supplements. Some probiotic-rich foods are kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt and other fermented dairy products, and pickles. (9)

PREbiotic Foods. Prebiotics are “selectively fermented” foods that can boost healthy gut bacteria. (10) Basically, prebiotics feed probiotics so that they can multiply in your gut. Some prebiotic foods are Jerusalem artichokes; dandelion greens; raw garlic, onion, and leeks; avocadoes; peas; and apple cider vinegar. (11)

Feed Your Bacteria. We’ve seen that certain foods, like fiber-rich foods and prebiotics, are better at promoting good bacteria because or bodies don’t digest them. But eating these foods, we are feeding the good bacteria in our guts. Alternatively, when we eat foods that are easily digested by our bodies, we are starving our gut bacteria and they need to find other things to eat… like the lining of our guts, which can lead to inflammation and discomfort. Foods to avoid include sugars, simple carbohydrates, and processed foods. (12)

 

References:

  1. http://www.gutmicrobiotaforhealth.com/en/about-gut-microbiota-info/
  2. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-gut-bacteria-help-make-us-fat-and-thin/
  3. http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/news/20140820/your-gut-bacteria#1
  4. http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/health/digestive-system-health/
  5. http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=5468
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3829625/
  7. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/high-fiber-foods/art-20050948
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26757793
  9. http://www.drperlmutter.com/learn/resources/probiotics-five-core-species/
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17311983
  11. https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-18746/18-prebiotic-rich-foods-for-a-gut-friendly-diet.html
  12. http://www.everydayhealth.com/columns/therese-borchard-sanity-break/ways-cultivate-good-gut-bacteria-reduce-depression/

Fascinating Fascia

A Google image search for “musculoskeletal system” will provide seemingly endless drawings of skeletons and pink muscles.

But what holds our muscles together? What connects them to each other, to organs, and to bones?

Picture an orange. When the skin is torn away, we see the white fibrous material that holds skin to flesh. We also see the segments of the orange are encased in a membrane-like sac and connected by the same white material. Furthermore, when we break open a segment, we see that it is comprised of many tiny sacs, all stuck together.

Like the orange, the muscles and organs in our bodies are both divided and connected by fascia. Fascia runs through us: a web of connective tissue beneath our skin that attaches, stabilizes, encloses, and separates muscles and groups of muscles and organs. (1, 2)

 When our fascia isn’t healthy, we feel it throughout our bodies.

Chronic strain and pain in our muscles and nerves can be caused by unhealthy fascia. Injuries, stress, age, habitual movement patterns (such as poor posture), as well as over- and misuse of body structures and long periods of inactivity are just some of the factors leading to unhealthy fascia, which is dehydrated, glue-like, hard, and tight. Unhealthy fascia can feel stiff and can be the cause of chronic pain and tension. (2, 34)

 Healthy fascia feels GOOD.

Healthy fascia is hydrated, smooth and slippery, elastic and pliable. (4, 5) Healthy fascia is painless and fluid: no stiff muscles, no pinched nerves, no tension.

So, how do we keep our fascia healthy? Here are three simple things you can do:

Hydrate. It’s not only important to drink plenty of water, but also to get the water to your thirsty fascia. Try yoga, Pilates, a roller, or cardio to get your blood pumping!

Varied Movement. Yoga, Pilates, and cardio are also great because they offer a variety of movement. Repetitive movement strains fascia over time; it’s better to change it up as often as possible. If you use exercise machines, make sure to change tempo or weight from time to time and mix in some other activities such as barre or cycling. Also, make sure to give your fascia a rest from time to time.

Relax and De-stress. Massage, acupuncture, a walk in the park; anything that relieves stress and tension will promote healthy fascia. (6)

References:

  1. http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/fascia\
  2. https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-17936/understanding-fascia-what-it-is-why-you-should-care.html
  3. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/eva-norlyk-smith-phd/fascia_b_1207768.html
  4. http://structuralintegration.massagetherapy.com/what-is-fascia-and-how-does-it-work
  5. https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-4283/Metaphors-in-Motion-Freeing-the-Fascia.html
  6. http://mobilitymastery.com/how-diet-affects-fascia-3-best-foods-for-healthy-connective-tissue/

Fermented Foods

Fermented foods are creating a lot of positive buzz lately. It seems everyone is touting their benefits, but how can we tell if the fermented foods craze is more than just a fad?

Foods like dairy, fruit, and vegetables can be preserved by fermentation, which is the chemical process that breaks down glucose molecules when the foods are exposed to bacteria and yeasts. Beneficial microorganisms feed on the carbohydrates in the foods and reproduce and kill off harmful bacteria. The carbon dioxide gas given off during this process causes the frothing usually associated with fermentation, as in beer. (1, 2)

Some common fermented foods are:

  • Yogurt is essentially milk fermented with bacteria; the word means “tart, thick milk” in Turkish. (3) Cottage cheese, kefir, and sour cream are also fermented milk products.
  • Unpasteurized, “Raw” Sauerkraut is cabbage that has traditionally been fermented by salting and leaving in a de-oxygenated environment for several weeks. (4)
  • Kimchi is a Korean dish made primarily of fermented cabbage, but can also include radish, cucumber, lettuce, and mustard leaves. Most varieties are spicy. (5)
  • Some coffees can be fermented if processed through the “washed process”, wherein coffee beans are fermented in tanks of water. (6)
  • Chocolate and Vanilla are both fermented. To make chocolate, cocoa beans are stored together so that the pulp around the beans can be fermented. The beans can be wrapped in plantain or banana leaves, or stored in wooden boxes, for 5-7 days. (7)

Unpasteurized vinegar can be made from carbohydrate-rich foods such as grapes, apples, and rice. (9)

  • Sourdough bread is fermented with a “starter” (the base for sourdough bread created through a fermentation process in order to cultivate wild yeast from flour) for 12-15 hours, which breaks down gluten in the flour. (10, 15)
  • SOME “Pickles” are fermented, while others aren’t. As long as the foods are preserved through fermentation, rather than simply brined in vinegar. (11)

What health benefits can they provide?

Fermented foods are a great source of vitamins such as K2, which distributes calcium throughout your body, and B vitamins, which help to convert food into fuel. Additionally, the good bacteria in fermented foods help detoxify our bodies. (12, 16)

Fermented foods are also a great natural source of healthy bacteria and contain up to 100 times the probiotics as an over-the-counter probiotic supplement. Strains of good bacteria in fermented foods have been seen to destroy or inhibit the growth of bad bacteria: Lactic acid found in sourdough bread by German scientists was observed to kill microbes that are resistant to most antibiotics. (12, 13)

Too much of a good thing?

While there are many benefits to eating fermented foods, we should always look for the risks. In a 2011 study, researchers found that eating fermented soy products lead to a higher rate gastric cancer while unfermented soy contributed to a reduced rate of the same disease. (14)

People who do their own fermentation should also be aware of the threat of botulism from contaminated food. (14)

Here are a few ways to include fermented foods in your diet:

https://www.fermentedfoodlab.com/apple-cider-vinegar-and-honey-drink/

http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/kefir-oats-nuts-maple-breakfast-jar

http://www.culturesforhealth.com/learn/recipe/lacto-fermentation-recipes/lacto-fermented-kosher-dill-pickles/

Fermented Food
A set of fermented food great for gut health – cucumber pickles, coconut milk yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, red beets, apple cider vinegar

References

  1. https://www.chowhound.com/food-news/54958/that-coffees-rotten/
  2. https://www.britannica.com/science/fermentation
  3. http://www.culturesforhealth.com/learn/yogurt/what-is-yogurt-history/
  4. http://pickledplanet.com/faqs
  5. https://cultureglaze.com/what-is-kimchi-fadfa73fe5cd
  6. http://www.thekitchn.com/yes-coffee-is-a-fermented-food-208726
  7. https://www.icco.org/faq/59-fermentation-a-drying/132-how-does-the-fermentation-process-work-on-the-cocoa-bean-and-how-long-does-it-take.html
  8. https://paleoleap.com/what-about-vinegar/
  9. http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-your-own-sourdough-starter-cooking-lessons-from-the-kitchn-47337
  10. http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/the-crucial-difference-between-pickled-and-fermented/
  11. http://articles.mercola.com/fermented-foods.aspx
  12. https://www.drdavidwilliams.com/gut-health-and-the-benefits-of-traditional-fermented-foods
  13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21070479
  14. http://www.dietnutritionadvisor.com/advantages-and-disadvantages-of-fermented-foods
  15. http://www.bonappetit.com/test-kitchen/cooking-tips/article/long-fermented-breads-for-the-gluten-sensitive-taste-great
  16. https://authoritynutrition.com/vitamin-k2/