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5 Tips for Boosting Productivity During PMS

Breast tenderness, bloating, and cramps make functioning at work difficult enough. Throw in cravings, low energy, mental fog, and mood swings, and you’ve got the recipe for feeling like an unproductive sludge. If you’re reading this right now, and you happen to be a female who menstruates/has previously menstruated, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Most of us have experienced these episodes before yet, know exactly how it can affect daily motivation. If this sounds like you, stay on with me as we uncover how to boost productivity during PMS.  First, let’s talk about what PMS is and then some at-home remedies you can do to improve your productivity (especially during that week before your flow).


What is PMS:

Premenstrual syndrome, experienced by most women of reproductive age, has symptoms of irritability, mood swings, weight gain, water retention, breast tenderness, bloating, cravings, difficulty sleeping, and fatigue. Discomfort is characterized during the luteal phase (second half of the cycle. How (and how long) women experience PMS varies where some may have a few symptoms for a couple of days before their period to others who have increased discomfort that substantially affects their daily lives.

What is PMDD

Some women experience significant physical, mental, and emotional distress in the last few days to weeks before their period, known as Premenstrual Dysmorphic Disorder. Symptoms consist of marked depression, low mood, anxiety, tension or feeling on edge, moodiness, tearfulness, irritability, easily fatigued, low interested in usual activities, distinct changes in appetite and sleep patterns.

PMS (and/or) PMDD kick in during the luteal stage; some women may even experience symptoms or discomfort as early as 2 weeks before their expected periods. Mood swings, irritability, bloating, and fatigue can really derail the productivity train if a significant chunk of the month is spent feeling moody and unmotivated. Over my years in practice working with women with PMS and PMDD I discovered that rather than working against the symptoms, it’s easier to recognize the patterns of PMS and take steps to prevent life from drowning in symptoms. Here are my top 5 tips for improving motivation and productivity during PMS.

5 tips to reducing symptoms + improve productivity during the luteal days

  1. EXERCISE! – Move that awesome, strong body of yours, girl! If you’re new to physical activity, or lack motivation, start with a 5 min walk break. Move around the room if you have to, get that blood flowing! Consistent aerobic exercise 3 times a week for 8 weeks reduces the severity of the physical symptoms of PMS. If aerobic exercise isn’t always your jam, yoga for 40 min a day 3 times a week for a month is another effective strategy to reduce symptoms of PMS.
  2. CUT THE SUGARS: Specifically, maltose. A recent study suggests that increased consumption of maltose (formed when two glucose molecules come together) is associated with the risk of developing PMS. Maltose is naturally produced in plants and seeds but high amounts can be found in bread, cereals, burgers, pizzas, pies, and more. Sweet potato also has maltose but one can argue that the nutritional benefits of a sweet potato outweigh its risk. Another study found that western diet patterns consisting of processed fast foods and soft drinks were associated with PMS compared to diets that had more nuts, fruits, and low processed foods did.
  3. VITAMIN D: Higher doses of vitamin D significantly reduced PMS in women as well as symptoms of dysmenorrhea like backache. **Note: Always talk to your naturopath or trusted health care provider before taking high doses of vitamin D! You can read more about vitamin D and hormones in my last article here!
  4. MINDFULNESS: Mindfulness-based practices like mediation (and yoga!) is associated with the reduction of anxiety and depression experienced by women with PMS. Try journaling your feelings, emotions, and thoughts that come up for you during your luteal phase and note if any patterns surface. Check-in with yourself daily and remember to speak to yourself kindly – you deserve it!
  5. SCHEDULE: But make it super easy and not hectic at all! Write out your top 3 priorities (or less) to complete in the day and break your day into small chunks of uninterrupted time, remembering to take breaks (to move around!) in between. Keeping your to-do list on the lighter side can offset some of the unmotivating effects of PMS (like fatigue, low energy, and irritability). Take naps when you need them because resting is okay! Try to schedule your busiest days for the first half of your cycle where you have the energy to effortlessly tackle your tasks.

PMS is experienced by many premenopausal women and symptoms range in severity as each woman endures a unique collection of symptoms. Being a woman doesn’t require that we put our lives and productivity on hold each month; re-inventing our schedules that support our health needs, eating well and consistent exercise helps us to be a productive badass woman! Try these tips yourself and when you notice improvement, share the article with other boss women in your life!

 


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You’ve just been (or about to be) diagnosed with PCOS for your irregular periods, now what?

Why is lab work important in understanding the progression and underlying causes of PCOS and its symptoms?

Treating symptoms alone is a band-aid solution to correcting a problem. Treating symptoms without the necessary investigation is like blindly applying a band-aid to a boo-boo and hoping you get it in the right spot. Why would you do that?

Likewise, why blindly put a band-aid on your health? I see a lot of women in my practice who either have a PCOS diagnosis or symptoms of PCOS, with very basic or little to no investigative lab work. These ladies have irregular cycles, intense carb cravings, a mighty hard time to lose weight, hair loss, and acne, and a whole lot of feeling pretty low about their appearance, health, and self-esteem.

Though these signs can be a flaming red sign pointing to PCOS, there are other root causes worth exploring. Why? PCOS is more than just irregular periods; insulin, thyroid hormones, and inflammation all contribute to the pattern of symptoms present.

As a naturopathic doctor, I encourage the awesome ladies I treat in my practice to consider a COMPLETE hormone investigation. This takes out the guesswork in piecing together which hormones are triggering your PCOS symptoms (i.e.: is it adrenal or insulin triggered?) while also giving us a baseline to build their specific treatment plans on.

Here is a snippet of the hormone-related labs I like to run in my patients.

  1. HbA1C: Marker for measuring how your blood sugar has been in the past 3 months. HbA1C value between 6.0%-6.4% indicates pre-diabetes. How well your body is at processing blood sugar reveals the risk of developing/already having insulin resistance; a key player in the worsening of PCOS symptoms, weight gain, and inflammation.
  2. SHGB: Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (try saying that 10 times fast!) Produced in the liver, SHBG has a high binding affinity for DHT (the hormone that causes male-type symptoms) and Testosterone. SHBG is like a sponge soaking up all that excess testosterone, keeping it from floating around in the blood.
  3. Androstenedione: Produced by the ovaries and adrenal glands, this steroid hormone marker is overproduced by the ovaries in PCOS.
  4. DHT: Dihydrotestosterone is produced by the conversion of testosterone by 5-a-reductase (an enzyme). DHT binds much strongly to testosterone receptors, and high levels have been attributed to male pattern balding in men and women.
  5. Ferritin: The storage form of iron. Some symptoms of low iron include fatigue, low mood, feeling cold, weakness, and hair loss*.
  6. TSH: Thyroid Stimulating Hormone acts on the thyroid gland to tell it to produce thyroid hormones (T3 and T4). We Measure TSH, T3 and T4 to rule out thyroid issues that may be contributing to irregular periods, hair loss, weight gain (i.e. hypothyroidism can present with hair loss, weight gain, irregular menstrual cycles, coldness, fatigue).

Notice how many PCOS symptoms are also present in other conditions or are affected by several hormones? Testing estrogen, LH, and FSH aren’t enough to help us understand the full hormonal picture. Yes, the symptoms look a heck of a lot like PCOS and you may even have a polycystic ovarian syndrome diagnosis, but until we understand the root cause and other hormonal and organ involvements, management and treatments are just a shot in the dark or conventional birth control pills.

 

Think you have PCOS and want to know how your specific hormonal pattern is affecting your periods? Connect with me here and let’s talk about finally improving your hormones so you can finally have a happy period!


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Anxiety is characterized as a state of hyperarousal. present in other anxiety-type disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder, mania or bipolar disorder, personality disorders, PTSD, or phobias to name a few. Emotional symptoms of anxiety include nervousness, irritability, dream, insomnia or trouble sleeping, easily startled/distracted and difficulty in concentrating. Physical symptoms of anxiety are often overlooked; these include muscle twitching, restlessness, shakiness, fatigue, muscular aches or tension.

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How does your body experience anxiety?

Anxiety is the heightened response of the Autonomic nervous system; the ANS controls the heart, gastrointestinal and genitourinary systems (including sexual health and libido), and parts of the Neurologic system. It is quite possible to suffer from heart palpitations (a fluttering feeling in your chest), shortness of breath, chest pain, sweating, a sensation of choking, heartburn/nausea/vomiting, stomach aches, frequent peeing, dizziness and or headache, while experiencing anxiety or an anxious episode.

Canadians are anxious.

In 2016, nearly 4 million Canadians had been diagnosed with a mood and/or anxiety disorders

In Ontario, about 10% of the population has a mental illness and receives only about 7% of health care funds

Don’t Panic! Anxiety is manageable and treatable. Check out these tips for managing grounding and managing anxiety:

Diet
  1. Avoiding stimulants like coffee, caffeinated drinks, stimulating drugs
  2. Stabilize blood sugar levels. Low blood sugar can trigger feelings of anxiety. Eat a meal or small snack every 2 hours if you find that feelings of “hanger” trigger anxiety.
  3. Removing other foods that trigger anxious feelings
Mindful Activities
  1. 4-7-8 Breathing

Inhale for 4 seconds. Pause for 7 seconds. Exhale for 8 seconds. Closing your eyes if you feel comfortable, practice this type of breathing throughout the day and during periods of anxiety and stress, starting with 3-5 cycles. Exhaling for twice as long as inhaling reminds us that no matter how much we take in, we must always let go of more.

  1. Toe Wiggling

In a standing, seated, or laying down position. Wiggle your toes; focusing on how they feel in your shoes or socks. Are you bare foot? How do they feel rubbing against each other? By bringing your attention downwards to your feet, you are bringing attention from your thoughts and into your body.

  1. 5 Senses

Name 5 things you can SEE.

Name 4 things you can TOUCH.

Name 3 things you can HEAR.

Name 2 things you can SMELL.

Name 1 thing you can TASTE.

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Supplements, Vitamins, Minerals

Dr. Usman takes extra care when it comes to your health. She may recommend specific supplements or nutrients (individualized to your treatment plan) that will help you to manage your symptoms and to improve your mood and energy. Note: any botanical, herb, supplement, or vitamin that Dr. Usman prescribes, is specific to your health needs and takes into account any medications you’re currently on or underlying health conditions. Self medicating can be dangerous; just because its natural, doesn’t always mean its safe. Consult Dr. Usman, ND, prior to trying any new supplement, herb/botanical.

Acupuncture

Dr. Usman may recommend a course of an acupuncture treatment weekly for 4-8 weeks to help improve and stabilize mood, improve energy, and lessen symptoms of anxiety.

Yes, when anxiety happens it can feel like your thoughts, emotions, and sometimes your bodily functions are running away without you. There are effective ways to manage the underlying root cause while improving the uncomfortable symptoms. If this article resonated with you and/or you think someone else may benefit from it – please do not hesitate to share this blog! The better we understand anxiety and mood disorders and how they fit in the greater scheme of wellness.

Ready to take the next step in your health journey? Get back to feeling great, book an appointment with Dr. Anousha Usman today!

pcos treatment

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I love a good grocery store, it’s like being a kid in a candy store for me! Whenever there is a new grocery store that pops up, I go check it out and always come out with something new! Especially going to the states, where they have difference products than Canada. Would you believe me if I told you that when I travel my carryon is full of American products (I swear, it’s true)? I get pulled over to be searched, Every. Single. Time. But I do realize not everyone is like me who loves to grocery shop, so here are the grocery store hacks to make it easy!

hormonal imbalance treatment
  1. Never shop hungry. You know what I’m talking about – it leads to buying way more than you need, and more snacking too.
  2. Make a list before you go of the must-haves and what you are planning to prep for that week. This way you don’t over or under buy. Pro Tip – organize your list into the sections of the grocery store so you are in and out quicker.
  3. Go early in the morning, fresher produce + less people (win-win)
  4. Shop the perimeter of the store first. Produce and meat (the essentials) then the other stuff you may need in the isles.
  5. Don’t be afraid of the frozen fruits + veg, it makes it more affordable to buy organic
  6. Shop the seasonal fruits and veg, that’s what our body craves.
  7. Read the labels! Low fat, gluten free, sugar free – this doesn’t mean healthy! Read the ingredients and make sure you understand what is listed.
  8. Use the dirty dozen and clean 15 list to buy organic foods. It can be costly, so don’t forget about the frozen option.
  9. BYOB – bring your own bag.

Let’s break down a general grocery list. This will give you options of proteins, vegetables, condiments, etc. but is definitely an elongated list!

Meat based proteins:

  • Organic chicken and turkey. If you’re craving turkey slices, go for the nitrate free
  • Atlantic salmon or smoke salmon
  • White fish, shrimp, scallops if they are looking fresh
  • Grass fed beef/ burgers, but not very often (1 X per week)

Dairy and eggs:

  • 2% plain Greek yogurt
  • Organic eggs
  • Cottage cheese
  • Feta/ goats milk cheeses
  • Grass fed butter/ ghee (I love Lee’s ghee)
  • Almond, cashew or oat milk – all unsweetened

Fruits and veg

  • Avocado
  • Carrots
  • Cucumber
  • Tomato
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Apples
  • Berries
  • Banana
  • Japanese sweet potato (can also do regular sweet potato)
  • Spaghetti squash
  • Zucchini
  • Your choice of greens (I prefer spinach and arugula)
  • Onions and garlic
  • Ginger
  • Lemon/ lime

Frozen foods

  • Berries
  • Avocado (for smoothies)
  • Stir fried veggies of your choice (stay away from corn)
  • Shrimp
hormonal imbalance treatment

Grains

  • Wild/ brown rice
  • Ezekiel bread
  • Mary’s crackers
  • Nuud crackers
  • Chickpea/ lentil pasta

Other fridge

  • Hummus
  • Sauerkraut
  • Mustard
  • Mother Raw dressing

For more information, Consult our best naturopathic doctor in toronto now!

Dry foods

  • Natural nut butters
  • Almond flour
  • Whole gluten free oats
  • Stock
  • Coconut milk
  • Spices
  • Coconut oil, avocado oil, olive oil
  • Raw, unsalted nuts

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What’s the difference between disordered eating and an eating disorder? It’s a fine line. It’s not a label of who you are, but it does bring awareness to the majority of the population who don’t know how to eat and have an unhealthy relationship with food. What, you may ask, is the determining factor between an eating disorder and disordered eating? How much these thoughts control you, your level of obsession with food, exercise, thoughts and behaviours.

Eating disorders that are diagnosed are labeled as as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, overeating. It excludes other types of disordered eating such as the behaviours listed below.

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Signs of disordered eating:

  • Frequent dieting
  • Rituals and routines that surround food and exercise
  • Anxiety around certain foods
  • Skipping meals
  • Food guilt
  • Labelling foods as good or bad
  • Obsessive thoughts around food, weight, and body image
  • Negative impact on quality of life
  • Excessive exercise & food restriction (especially to make up for “bad foods” consumed)

The above can all be the precursor to an eating disorder.

The lack of understanding comes from society and the abundance of information out there. I am here to tell you, eating well can be really simple. It takes some mental strength and willpower to forget all you have learned, forget your fears about foods, the diets you have tried and what is ‘good’ and ‘bad’, and instead, listen and trust your body. Do the research on what works and what doesn’t, because the truth is – everyone is unique. But, let’s talk about some general guidelines to follow (*notice I didn’t say ‘rules’ to follow, because these are just that, guidelines with no set right/wrong). It is always good to consult with a nutritionist for a more specific plan.

Food is fuel. I say this all the time because so many people choose to believe that calories are bad, high fat foods will make you fat, and eating less means weight loss. When in fact, this isn’t the case. Calories are energy we burn energy all day just by breathing, we need calories.

Let’s talk ‘how to’s’ on eating properly.

  1. Start your day with breakfast
  2. 3 meals + 1-2 snacks/ day
  3. 2-3 hours between each meal
  4. Put your food on a plate (i.e do not eat out of a bag)
  5. Make sure you have protein + fat + fibre at each meal
  6. Take account quality vs. quantity of foods
  7. Focus on whole foods vs. low fat/ low calorie
  8. Drink at least 2 litres of water/ day
  9. Eliminate nighttime eating/ emotional based eating
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Many people suffer with disordered eating but do not even realize it. Disordered eating can be difficult to detect since each persons patterns are unique and may not be displayed at all times. It impacts both mental and physical health, to a point of real danger. These consequences include a greater risk of obesity and eating disorders, bone loss, digestive disturbances, low heart rate and blood pressure, increased anxiety and depression and social isolation.

Consulting with a nutritionist allows you to set a plan in motion specific to what your unique needs are.


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29/Aug/2019

pcos treatment

PCOS stands for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and is a condition that affects the natural balance of female hormones. Nearly 10% of women have PCOS globally. Read more about the involvement of hormones here [https://thewellnesssuiteto.com/pcos-naturopathic-treatment-solutions/]. While cysts on the ovaries are only part of the diagnose, they aren’t always present in all cases. To diagnose PCOS a woman needs to exhibit at least 2 out of the 3 following symptoms: ovarian cysts, anovulatory cycles (not ovulating during her period/irregular cycles), and male-type characteristics such as increased facial hair and hair loss on the head.

The imbalance of hormones and menstrual irregularities aren’t the sole indicators of PCOS. In fact, this disease has similar symptoms to metabolic disorders like diabetes. The hormone insulin (the which is off balance in diabetes) also plays a significant role in how PCOS leads to obesity and fat gain around the waist. Insulin is the storage hormone; when we eat sugars the body releases insulin to signal the all the cells to take in the sugar. If the cells have had enough sugar they eventually stop responding to insulin, and since insulin is a storage hormone, the sugars get converted to fat and stored in fat.

Insulin also affects ovulation. When insulin is imbalanced ovulation may or may not occur. It is common to have blood sugar dysregulation, abdominal obesity, and diabetic-like symptoms with PCOS.

Other symptoms like coarse hair growth on the face and hair loss on the scalp are due to an imbalance between male and female hormones. The absence of ovulation may cause a relative increase in male hormones (ovulation = progesterone being produced). Some women may also experience estrogen dominance where due to the absence of ovulation, there is no progesterone being produced and the abundant estrogen causes symptoms of decreased sex drive, boating, hot flashes, and worsening of PMS symptoms. Imbalances of sex hormones produced by the adrenal glands also contribute to PCOS.

Treatment options vary on both the type of PCOS you have as well as the symptoms you are presenting with. Your doctor and/or naturopath will best be able to provide you with an individualized treatment protocol to support your hormonal health. Here are some commonly used options to encourage the rebalancing of hormones

1. Diet

The heavy influence of insulin on PCOS symptoms means that by actively eliminating excess or refined sugars from our diet will promote regular ovulation and menstrual cycles. Limiting the consumption of sugary treats, refined carbs like bread, pastas, cakes/cookies/muffins/bagels and any added sugars in foods (re: sugary drinks like soda and fruit juices, sugars added to sauces and salad dressings) has a profound effect on regulating periods while also improving blood sugar and other markers of diabetes. Increasing fibre in the diet also helps to bind to and remove any excess hormones.

2. Lifestyle

In addition to diet, lifestyle factors like proper sleep, adequate exercise, and stress management also help to maintain a healthy balance of hormones. Stress often makes any underlying condition or disease worse, so plan out time in your daily schedule for relaxation activities. Aim for 7-8 hours of quality, uninterrupted sleep every night.

3. Botanicals, Herbs, Supplements, and Vitamins

Vitex: Also known as chasteberry, helps to promote and support ovulation, improve mood, bloating, PMS symptoms, acne, and cravings. There is some evidence that vitex may not be for every woman with PCOS, especially those with increased LH.

Licorice: Supports stress management and cortisol production, decreases excess androgens in combination with white peony.

White Peony: When combined with licorice has been noted to reduce excess testosterone and improve fertility.

N-acytl-cystine/NAC: Decreases excess androgens and may improve insulin levels

Vitamin D: Promotes anti-inflammatory actions in the body.

Inositol: Improves ovulation and decreases insulin resistance.

*Safety note: Always speak to your trusted health professional before starting a new herb, vitamin, or supplement to make sure that it is the best option for you!

PCOS natural treatment

When to seek out the guidance of a naturopath or MD:

While lifestyle and dietary changes are the first place to start when implementing natural treatments for PCOS, a naturopath/functional medical doctor can better support your unique cluster of PCOS symptoms by first conducting specialized functional lab tests. These may include routine serum blood tests as well as dried urine hormone testing to measure just how your body is responding and using its hormones and metabolites. Prior to starting any treatment protocol, it is generally advisable to work with a professional so that they may monitor your symptoms, labs, and ensure that there are no interactions between herbs and supplements with any other medications you may be taking.

A diagnosis of PCOS or even just irregular, painful, uncomfortable periods doesn’t have to be a life sentence. Are you overwhelmed with a PCOS diagnosis or even just irregular, painful, uncomfortable periods? Book in a free 15-minute consultation with Dr. Anousha, and learn about alternate options today! There are solutions to improving your wellness, and we are here to help!


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