Product Feature: St. Francis Echinacea Plus Kids

The anticipation of Spring is in the air!  With more mild temperatures, it is easy for kiddos to shed some of their layers of clothing and head outside.  The transition to Spring can still be a common time for colds and flus, especially for kids, as they tend to be outside more often with suboptimal gear.

 

Introducing St. Francis Echinacea Plus Kids.  This wonderful product contains two species of echinacea – purpurea and angustifolia.  A combination of both species of echinacea allows for maximum immune benefit by boosting and modulating the immune response.  It is effective at shortening the duration and severity of colds and flus.  It also tastes great so is the perfect option for kids when they are feeling under the weather.

 

Spring is just around the corner; however, as we wait for those more consistent warm days, be prepared for one last cold or flu this season and help support your child with St. Francis Echinacea Plus Kids.

 

Stop by the clinic to check out this and the many other great immune products that we carry.

Dr. Allison Ziegler’s Maternity Leave

I am excited to announce that I am due to have my fourth child in April 2024!

I will be taking several months away from the office starting April 29, 2024.  

Due to the inconvenience this may pose to my clients, I wanted to let you know sooner rather than later so you have ample time to book an appointment if needed.

To book please call 306.757.4325.

Who do you know that is self-employed, runs and integrative health care business, or is graduating soon from any of the following fields that would be interested in an affordable office space in an established multidisciplinary clinic to rent on a monthly basis? I have a beautifully furnished room available for individual use while I am away on maternity leave and on a part-time basis when I return.

  • holistic nutrition
  • counseling
  • lactation consultant
  • psychology
  • bodytalk
  • reiki
  • chiropractic medicine
  • massage therapy
  • acupuncture

Our goal is to ensure our community has access to as many integrative health care resources as possible, under one roof, as well as to promote the extensive number of healing professionals that Regina and the area boasts.

Reception is available if required, for additional rental fees.  Contact me by email at allison@zieglerhealth.com if you are interested in discussing our options and touring the available space.

Holiday Menu 2023

From our homes to yours, we would like to share our favourite recipes as you prepare for your holiday feast.  

From all of us, we wish you a very happy Christmas season and many blessings in 2024!

With love, Allison, Brittany, Julie and Michelle.

Life Affirming Vegan Nacho Cheese Dip

Shared by Dr. Julie Zepp, ND

“I always like to create new traditions for my family and friends when we come together during the holiday season.  Which includes making some “out of the box” contributions to my festive gatherings.  This year a favorite contribution to my potlucks was this Life Affirming Vegan Nacho Cheese Dip, from Angela Liddon’s Oh She Glows cookbook, a staple in my kitchen.

This was a big hit, and everyone was suitably impressed when I told them it was protein dense, filled with healthy essential fatty acids, vegan, gluten-free and very healthy!

I served it with the options of corn taco chips, rice crackers, and Mary’s gluten-free crackers.”

 1 cup (250 mL) raw cashews (best soaked for minimum two hours) in warm water
1 cup (250 mL) peeled/chopped carrots
6 tbsp nutritional yeast
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 garlic clove
1 1/4 tsp sea salt
3/4 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1 cup chunky salsa or marinara sauce
1 cup finely chopped sweet onion
1 chopped jalapeno pepper (optional)
4 handfuls of chopped spinach
1/3 cup crushed corn chips or GF crackers for topping
1-2 green onion for garnish
Chips or crackers for dipping.

 

  1. Place the cashews in a bowl, add water and cover for 2
    hours or overnight. Drain and set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 400F (200C). Lightly grease a
    casserole dish or 2-quart cast iron pan. Place carrots in a small sauce pan and add water to
    simmer for 5 minutes until tender. I added some garlic powder, salt, and pepper for flavour.
  3. In blender, combine soaked cashews, nutritional yeast, carrots, lemon juice, cayenne pepper, garlic, salt, chili powder, onion powder, and 2/3 cup water or coconut milk and blend until silky smooth. You may need to add more water if too thick. Pour into a large bowl.
  4. Stir salsa, onion, spinach, and jalapeno into the cheese sauce until fully combined. Pour into baking dish and smooth out the top. Sprinkle corn chips or breadcrumbs on top.
  5. Bake for 25-30 minutes, uncovered, watching closely toward the end of the cooking time to make sure the corn chip topping doesn’t burn. Garnish with sliced green onion and serve once cooled.
  6. You can store this dish for about 3-5 days in an airtight container in the fridge.  IF there is any left 🙂  Happy eating!!

Shaved Brussel Sprout Salad

Shared by Dr. Julie Zepp, ND

 4 cups Brussels sprouts, uncooked

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

¼ cup fresh lemon juice

½ cup pine nuts, toasted

⅓ cup dried cranberries

⅓ cup grated pecorino cheese, optional

⅓ cup chopped chives

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

 

  1. Thinly slice the Brussels sprouts using a mandolin if you have one.
  2. Place them into a medium bowl and toss with the olive oil, lemon juice, pine nuts, cranberries, pecorino cheese, chives, and pinches of salt and pepper.
  3. Let the salad sit at room temperature for 15 minutes, then taste and adjust the seasonings. Finish with an additional drizzle of olive oil if you like.

 

Roast Chicken

Shared by Dr. Brittnay Wolfe, ND

 

1 x 3.5 lb chicken
2 medium onions
2 carrots
2 sticks of celery
1 bulb of garlic
olive oil
1 lemon
1 bunch of mixed fresh herbs, such as, thyme, rosemary, parsley.

 

  1. Remove the chicken from the fridge 30 minutes before you want to cook it, to let it come up to room temperature.
  2. Preheat the oven to 475°F
  3. Wash and roughly chop the vegetables – there’s no need to peel them. Break the garlic bulb into cloves, leaving them unpeeled.
  4. Pile all the veg, garlic and herbs into the middle of a large roasting tray and drizzle with oil.
  5. Drizzle the chicken with oil and season well with sea salt and black pepper, then rub all over the bird.
  6. Carefully prick the lemon all over, using the tip of a sharp knife. Put the lemon inside the chicken’s cavity, with the bunch of herbs.
  7. Place the tray in the oven, then turn the heat down immediately to 400°F and cook for 1 hour 20 minutes.
  8. If you’re doing roast potatoes and veggies, this is the time to crack on with them – get them into the oven for the last 45 minutes of cooking.
  9. Baste the chicken halfway through cooking and if the veg look dry, add a splash of water to the tray to stop them from burning.
  10. When the chicken is cooked, take the tray out of the oven, and transfer the chicken to a board to rest for 15 minutes or so. Cover it with a layer of tin foil and a tea towel and leave aside while you make your gravy.
  11. To carve your chicken, remove any string and take off the wings (break them up and add to your gravy, along with the veg trivet, for mega flavour). Carefully cut down between the leg and the breast. Cut through the joint and pull the leg off.
    Repeat on the other side, then cut each leg between the thigh and the drumstick so you end up with four portions of dark meat. Place these on a serving platter.

You should now have a clear space to carve the rest of your chicken. Angle the knife along the breastbone and carve one side off, then the other.
When you get down to the fussy bits, just use your fingers to pull all the meat off and turn the chicken over to get all the tasty, juicy bits from underneath. You should be left with a stripped carcass, and a platter full of lovely meat that you can serve with your piping hot gravy and some delicious roast veg.

Cinnamon apple scones

Shared by Dr. Michelle Sthamann, ND

2 tbsp Ground Flax Seed

3/4 cup Water
2 cups All Purpose Gluten-Free Flour

1 tbsp Baking Powder

1/4 cup Coconut Sugar

1/2 tsp Sea Salt

1 tsp Cinnamon

1/3 cup Coconut Oil (room temperature)

1 Apple (medium, diced)

 

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a mixing bowl, mix the ground flax with water. Set aside to thicken.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, coconut sugar, salt and cinnamon.  Mix well, then add in coconut oil and mash with a fork until it is broken up and distributed evenly. Add flax mixture and diced apple. Stir well until combined.
  4. Transfer the dough onto your parchment lined baking sheet. Use your hands to form a round shape, about 1 inch in height. Then use a large wet knife to cut it into 6 or 8 even wedges.
  5. Sprinkle the top with a bit of coconut sugar and cinnamon and bake for 25 minutes, or until edges are golden brown.
  6. Remove from oven, let cool slightly and enjoy immediately.

 

 

Hot Mulled Cider

Shared by Dr. Allison Ziegler, ND

6 cups organic apple cider

2 large organic orange slices

4 to 5 slices fresh ginger

5 cinnamon sticks

2 tsp whole cloves

 

  1. Place all ingredients in a large pot. Simmer, covered, over low to medium-low heat for about 1 hour.
  2. Strain out spices by pouring contents through a fine mesh strainer into another pot.
  3. You can keep the pot on the stove on warm if you would like to serve it over an extended period of time.

Vitamin D and Mood

Do you ever feel a depressed mood and low energy during the long winter months?  You are not alone!  Most Canadians will feel some degree of energy and moods changes during the winter and here’s why.

Vitamin D3 is needed for adequate production of serotonin in the brain.  The way our body produces vitamin D is through sun light exposure.  In the winter, Canadians do not receive enough sunlight to produce adequate vitamin D3.

Serotonin is the brain messenger responsible for feelings of well-being and happiness.  In winter months, there is a decrease in the amount of serotonin leading to the feelings of sadness or depression.  Serotonin is also involved in regulating appetite.  The body is continually trying to achieve balance; therefore, if the body is deficient in something, it will try to gain it somehow, usually through food. Cravings of chocolate, sweets or carbohydrates are common because it is high in tryptophan, an amino acid needed to produce serotonin.  In the winter, a person begins to subconsciously eat a diet higher in these foods as the body tries to achieve the balance it is looking for.  As a result, the poorer dietary choices associated with the decreased serotonin is responsible for weight gain.  A diet lower in nutrients coupled with weight gain contributes to feeling down, sluggish, and less energetic.

Therefore, with the lack of vitamin D3, we produce less serotonin, which leads to a depressed mood, weight gain and lower energy. Unfortunately, we can’t store vitamin D in our body so receiving plenty of sunshine in the summer, will not hold us over during the darker winter months. With lack of sun exposure in our frigid winter months, supplementation is often required to prevent deficiency and increase mood and energy.

 

Come check out our selection of good quality vitamin D supplements and feel better this winter!

Food Sensitivity Testing

Have you ever wondered if the foods you are eating are causing you to feel unwell?  Testing for food sensitivities may help you find your answer.

Food sensitivities are an immune reaction triggered by food allergens causing an inflammatory response.  Your immune system may react to certain foods by creating antibodies toward that food.  Food components that cause antibodies to be released are known as antigens or allergens.  Two types of antibodies produced in response to foods are IgE (immunoglobulin E) and IgG (immunoglobulin G).

A food allergy is caused by IgE antibodies and is an immediate reaction causing the typical allergy symptoms such as difficulty breathing and hives.  On the other hand, a food sensitivity is caused by IgG antibodies and is a delayed reaction, meaning symptoms often occur hours or even days after exposure.  The delayed IgG response of food sensitivities can make it difficult to attribute a specific food to a specific symptom.  During an IgG reaction, IgG antibodies bind to food antigens creating antibody-antigen complexes.  The immune system typically removes these complexes from the body.  However, if complexes are present in high amounts and the reactive food is still being consumed, the immune system can’t remove them quick enough.  As a result, the food antigen-antibody complexes accumulate and are deposited in body tissues triggering inflammation and thus a wide variety of symptoms.

 

Symptoms Commonly Associated with Food Sensitivities:

  • Brain fog
  • Fatigue
  • Bloating
  • Weight Gain
  • Mood Swings
  • Joint Pain/Inflammation
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Bronchitis
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Eczema
  • Migraines
  • GI Distress
  • Stomach Pain
  • Acne
  • ADD/ADHD
  • Autism
  • Sinus Issues
  • Depression

 

Food sensitivity testing measures the levels of IgG antibodies in up to 240 different foods and is a great way to help identify potential food sensitivities to individualize your nutrition plan and improve your health!

Ask your naturopathic doctor if testing for food sensitivities may be helpful for you.

Now Carrying Ozonated Olive Oil

Made in-house, we now carry ozonated olive oil!  Ozonated olive oil is made by bubbling ozone gas produced by a medical grade ozone generator through extra-virgin olive oil.  The ozonation process causes changes in the chemical composition of the oil, which gives it biological properties making it an extremely valuable topical product for health.

 

Benefits of Ozonated Olive Oil

 

  1. Natural Antibiotic

Ozone is a powerful antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal.  Ozonated oils treat superficial bacterial, viral and fungal skin infections. It is an effective treatment for ringworm, herpes, cold sores, toenail fungus and chronic skin infections that have become resistant to antibiotic treatments.

 

  1. Anti-Inflammatory

Ozonated oils become an ultra-pure source of oxygen through the ozonating process. Applying the oil topically, increases the tissue oxygenation.  Well- oxygenated skin is more effective at reducing inflammation and thus helps to treat dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis and other inflammatory skin conditions.

 

  1. Promotes Would Healing

Ozone stimulates the growth of new skin cells, which helps to promote wound healing.  Use of ozonated oil has been shown to accelerate the skin’s natural healing process.

 

  1. Potential Acne Treatment

Ozone’s ability to lower treatment and combat bacterial overgrowth makes ozonated oils a potential option for individuals with persistent acne and may help get rid of acne scars.

 

Use of ozonated oils has been shown to effectively eliminate Cutibacterium acnes, the bacterial strain responsible for most acne vulgaris cases.

 

  1. Anti-Aging Effects

Due to its skin cell regeneration and enhanced oxygenation effects, ozonated oils help to increase the elasticity of the skin and reduce the appearance of wrinkles.

Haskap Berries – The Fruit of Longevity and Vision

For the first time this summer I was introduced to the Haskap berry, also known as Blue Honeysuckle and Honey Berry. My neighbor has large very fruitful Haskap bushes, and she so kindly handed me over a bowl full of berries to try.  These delicious, tangy but refreshing berries, are the color of blueberries with an oval shape.  They have a very juicy inside flesh, which gives the fruit a “melt-in-your-mouth” quality.  Curious about the health benefits, I did some research, and this is what I found.

 

Haskap berries have been consumed by the indigenous Ainu people from Japan for centuries and are thought to contribute to their life longevity.  They refer to Haskap berries as the “fruit of longevity” and the “fruit of vision” due to the following benefits.

  1. High in Anthocyanins

Rich in antioxidants known as anthocyanins, Haskap berries help to reduce risk of diseases like diabetes, cancer, chronic inflammation, infection, and cardiovascular disease. Anthocyanin-rich berries also benefit eyes are and associated with good night vision.

 

  1. High in Vitamin C

Vitamin C, also an antioxidant, helps to form and maintain connective tissue like skin and bones.  Additionally, vitamin C is an important nutrient for improving immune function.   100 grams of Haskap berries contains 60% of your daily recommended vitamin C intake.

 

  1. Excellent source of Vitamin A

Vitamin A is important for normal vision, immune system, reproduction and growth and development.  Vitamin A also helps your heart, lungs and other organs work properly.

 

  1. Excellent source of Potassium

Potassium is an important electrolyte that helps maintain fluid levels inside your cells.  Potassium also helps muscles to contract and supports normal blood pressure.

 

  1. High in Fiber

Fiber helps to regulate blood sugar and improves gut health by improving the microbiome (millions of bacteria essential for digestion and immune system).  Ensuring adequate amounts of fiber in your diet reduces your risk of chronic disease.

 

If you are doing some landscaping this summer and need something to plant, or if you are at the farmers market and are interested in trying something new, why not give Haskap berries a try?  You may find a new favorite fruit, and you’ll get to reap some pretty cool health benefits in the meantime!

Cleaning Out Your Pantry

“The best way to serve our unique nutritional needs is to empower ourselves with knowledge, listen to our bodies and respond with healthy, nourishing choices.”

~ Terry Walters

With the change in season comes the desire to make goals, make changes, live better and feel healthier.  An area we can have a significant impact on is what we choose to nourish ourselves with.  With the rising amount and availability of processed and convenience foods, our nutrition has veered too far from the nutrient dense, whole foods.  As a result, diseases such as diabetes, obesity, heart disease, cancer, autoimmune and mental illnesses are on the rise.  Each item of food we choose to eat should serve a single goal of nourishment to our body, allowing the body to live to its healthiest and fullest by providing the very essence for work and play. 

Cleaning out the pantry by replacing foods that hinder health with life giving, nutrient rich foods can help you create healthier patterns, feel better and prevent disease.   

1. Begin by getting rid of any foods containing:

White and Brown Refined Sugar and High Fructose Corn Syrup
Canadians consume, on average, 110 grams of sugar a day, which is equivalent to 46 teaspoons. Refined sugar has been overly processed, essentially voiding itself of any nutrients. As a result, consuming refined sugar does not provide any nutrient value to the body and is only a source of empty calories.  When sugar is consumed, excess amounts are stored in the liver and eventually are returned to the bloodstream as fatty acids, which ultimately end up as fat. In addition to contributing to diabetes and obesity, consumption of refined sugar has been linked to a weakened immune system, yeast infections, hyperactivity, ADHD, mental and emotional disorders and chemical imbalances in the brain.

Sugar is hiding in many different food items; therefore, when trying to get rid of foods that contain processed sugar, label reading is essential.  Sugar can be identified as glucose, sucrose, fructose, sucralose, dextrose, maltose, maltodextrin and high fructose corn syrup, to name a few. Some common food items that sugar can be lurking in are cereals, crackers, bread, candy, pasta sauces, salad dressings and condiments.

Trans Fats and Saturated Fats
Trans fats are synthetically derived fats that are identified as hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils.  Saturated fats are solid at room temperature, such as margarine, red meat, and shortening.  Consuming foods high in trans and saturated fats increase inflammation in the body and are the number one leading cause of heart disease.  These unhealthy fats can be found not only in butter and oils, but also in chips, cookies, cereals, breads and just about any highly processed food item.

Oils to have on hand include  olive, flax, avocado and sesame oils. Even though it is a saturated fat, coconut oil is also good to have on hand because it can be safely heated at high temperatures.

White flour/Pasta
Food products containing white flour such as pastas, crackers, breads and cereals are simple carbohydrates that adversely affect health.  White flour begins as the whole grain; however, through processing it is stripped of its vitamins, minerals, fibre and enzymes, which leaves a product with no nutritional value.  As a result, like sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, white flour products elevate blood sugar levels, contributing to diabetes, weight gain, fluctuating energy levels, mood swings and decreased immune system.

Regular Table Salt

Regular table salt is mined from underground salt deposits and more heavily processed to remove minerals and tends to have additives to prevent clumping.  Sea salt, on the other hand, is made from evaporated seawater and contains other trace minerals, which offer many health benefits such as thyroid support, muscle and immune health.

Anything That Has More Than 3 Unrecognizable Ingredients
The Rule of 3 is a great way to prevent consuming food items that contain unhealthy ingredients.  If you read a label of a food product that has more than 3 ingredients that you do not understand, get rid of or do not purchase it.  Get your children involved! They love being detectives and can have a lot of fun with this.  Include them while cleaning out and restocking your pantry.

2.  Replace the items with healthy options:

Throw Away: White/brown processed sugar; high fructose corn syrup; cookies and snacks sweetened with them, and sweetened peanut butter.

Replace With:  Coconut sugar, brown rice syrup, maple syrup, honey and stevia, cookies sweetened with any of this list or evaporated cane juice (Kashi and Made Good are good brands), all natural peanut butter or almond butter.

  

Throw Away: Margarine and shortening and regular potato chips that are high in unhealthy fats.

Replace With: Olive, flax seed, sesame, coconut and grape seed oil, rice chips, vegetable chips and kale chips.

 

Throw Away: White flour products including pasta and crackers.

Replace With: Spelt, buckwheat or brown rice pasta, rice chips/crackers, brown rice and quinoa.

 

Throw Away: Regular table salt and products containing high sodium (canned soup, salad dressings and sauces).

Replace With:  Sea salt, homemade salad dressings using olive oil and balsamic vinegar or lemon juice.

100 Days of Real Food is a great resource for switching from processed to whole foods.

Keeping the goal in mind that each item of food we choose to eat should serve as a source of nutrients to the body can be helpful when making the lifestyle change to clean out your pantry and restock it with healthy foods.  The nutrients gained from our food acts as the foundation for the rest of our health.  If we provide our body what it needs to function properly, health and vitality will result!

Why You Need Your Period

Time and time again I have worked with patients who have been told they don’t need a period, and perhaps you have been told the same thing.  This couldn’t be further from the truth!  The menstrual cycle plays an important role in a woman’s overall health and in fact, having a natural menstrual cycle significantly contributes to optimal health and disease prevention.  By natural menstrual cycle, I mean a menstrual cycle free from synthetic hormones found in hormonal birth control.  To understand the difference, let’s outline what happens during the natural menstrual cycle and what happens when you take the Pill or other forms of hormonal birth control.

 

The natural menstrual cycle is broken into two phases, the follicular phase, and the luteal phase.  During the follicular phase, follicles on the ovary mature and produce estrogen.  Rising estrogen during this phase helps to thicken the uterine lining and open the cervix.  Peak estrogen production produces sperm friendly, fertile mucus and one follicle becomes dominant that will release an egg at ovulation (the main event of the menstrual cycle).

The second phase of the menstrual cycle is known as the luteal phase.  During the luteal phase, the hormone progesterone is dominant.  Progesterone enriches the uterine lining with blood vessels, providing nutrients for possible implantation of a fertilized egg.  If implantation does not occur, estrogen and progesterone levels drop, and vaginal bleeding or a “period” occurs.

Menstrual bleeding is a predictor of how balanced the previous cycle’s hormones were and how healthy ovulation was.

 

On the Pill and other forms of hormonal birth control, your body is “tricked” into thinking it has already ovulated by providing elevated levels of synthetic estrogen and progesterone.  As a result, ovulation does not occur.  Additionally, the Pill thickens and dries up the cervical mucus by blocking the body’s effect of estrogen.  And finally, the Pill thins the uterine lining by suppressing the body’s own natural estrogen and progesterone. The only reason bleeding occurs on the Pill is due to the withdrawal of synthetic hormones during the week of sugar pills.  Ultimately, your “cycle” on the Pill is not actually a cycle at all.

 

There are 5 major health benefits of having a natural menstrual cycle:

 

  1. Breast Health and Development

During puberty, estrogen produced via ovulation causes enlargement of breasts by increasing fatty tissue in the area and developing lobes, lobules, milk ducts and fibrous connective tissue that will produce and carry the milk to the nipple in the future.  Teens that take hormonal birth control are deprived of their cycle and the endogenous estrogen required for the proper breast development.

 

  1. Brain Health and Development

Estrogen in the follicle phase of the cycle increases serotonin receptors and the production of dopamine. Serotonin and dopamine cause neuron (brain cell) excitability, which stimulates plasticity in the hippocampus, amygdala, and prefrontal cortex of the brain.  The neuron excitability leads to an upbeat mood, increased energy levels, and improved verbal skills.  Progesterone in the luteal phase of the cycle heals and maintains brain cells.  Feelings of mellowness and decreased anxiety are experienced during this phase.

Exposure to endogenous and balanced hormones achieved through regular ovulation and menstruation is especially important for developing teen brains as their prefrontal cortices are not fully matured until mid-twenties thus affecting their decision making and risk assessment. Additionally, brain development under exposure of endogenous and balanced hormones helps to retain brain plasticity for women after menopause.

Unfortunately, the synthetic estrogen and progesterone found in hormonal birth control options do not have the same effect on the brain.  In fact, the synthetic hormones decrease serotonin levels and increase sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), which makes it harder for the body to use naturally occurring sex hormones.  As a result, those on the Pill often complain of low libido, mood disturbances, brain fog, disrupted sleep cycles, difficulty regulating body temperature, appetite, heart rate and difficulty managing stress.

 

  1. Immune System

The cyclical nature of estrogen and progesterone during the two phases of the menstrual cycle impact the immune system.  During the follicular phase when estrogen is highest, the immune system is also heightened.  In the luteal phase when progesterone is dominant, there is a temporary immune suppression as the body prepares for a potential pregnancy.  The cyclical nature of heightened and suppressed immune function during the menstrual cycle is important for the maturation of the cervix, important for the proper production of cervical mucus.  Cervical mucus is an important part of the immune system as it is rich in immune regulating proteins to fight infection.  Therefore, a cervix that has been able to mature under the natural cycling of hormones is better able to fight off infection like human papilloma virus (HPV).

Hormonal birth control prevents the natural cycling of estrogen and progesterone by providing a continuous amount of synthetic hormones throughout the cycle, thus preventing the natural cycling of immune response.  As a result, use of hormonal contraception may compromise one’s immunity to reproductive and systemic infection.

 

  1. Heart Health

Findings have shown that a woman’s resting heart rate fluctuates throughout the menstrual cycle.  During the follicular phase, resting heart rate is slower due to higher estrogen compared to a more rapid heart rate caused by progesterone during the luteal phase. In addition, estrogen helps to prevent the buildup of calcium in the arteries to help prevent coronary artery calcification (CAC).  This is important because CAC can lead to heart disease, the number one cause of death in post-menopausal women.  Progesterone is also important for heart health as it decreases blood pressure by dilating the blood vessels.

The synthetic forms of estrogen and progesterone found in hormonal birth control do not provide the same benefit as the naturally occurring hormones in a menstrual cycle.  And in fact, because you do not have a cycle on hormonal birth control, the cardiovascular benefits experienced during a natural menstrual cycle are lost.  As a result, hormonal birth control use is linked to increased risk of blood clots, stroke, heart attack, high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol.

 

  1. Bone Health and Development

Estrogen promotes bone growth and prevents bone break down.  Likewise, progesterone is involved in the formation and maintenance of bone and in the prevention of osteoporosis. Natural ovulation and menstruation are required for healthy bones.  The first 25 years of a woman’s life is spent building bone mass and if ovulation is happening normally, a woman should be able to keep the bone mass throughout her reproductive years and beyond.  If ovulation during prime reproductive years does not occur, bone density will be negatively impacted, and those effects will manifest during post-menopausal years.

Unfortunately, the synthetic hormones in hormonal birth control do not have the same benefit on bone health.  In fact, the synthetic progesterone (progestin) found in hormonal birth control decreases the ability to build bone mineral density.

 

As you can see, the intricate cycling of estrogen and progesterone during a natural menstrual cycle is crucial for optimal health!

One of my favorite resources for information on women’s health including the menstrual cycle, birth control pill and fertility awareness methods is Natural Womanhood.  My article was a summary of the research they compiled.  For more in-depth reading on the above information, please click here.

7 Daily Tips to Improve Mood

  1. Increase Positivity
  • 3 Gratitudes: Write down 3 new things each day (for at least 21 days), which teaches the brain to scan the world for the positive first, not the negative.
  • Journaling: Writing about 1 positive experience you’ve experienced in the past 24 hours allows your brain to relive it.
  • Random acts of kindness: When you open your inbox to your email, write 1 positive email praising or thanking someone.You can also call or write to someone.

When the brain is positive, dopamine increases in the brain, making us happier.  Dopamine also turns on the learning centers in the brain, allowing us not only to learn, but also to improve our focus and concentration.

 

  1. Meditation
  • Allows the brain to overcome the cultural inattention we’ve created by trying to do multiple tasks at once, allowing the brain to focus on one task at a time.This helps to balance the norepinephrine levels and increase serotonin levels.

Norepinephrine is the brain messenger responsible for controlling attention and response.

 

  1. Engaging in activities that revitalize you
  • Listen to music, visit a museum, theater, symphony, watch TV or movies, engage in long, deep conversations with people you love or whatever makes you feel good.
  • Pleasurable activities naturally increase serotonin levels.

 

  1. Exercise
  • Moderate exercise done 4 consecutive days in a row increase serotonin levels.

 

  1. Light Therapy
  • Exposure to UVB light designed for people with seasonal affective disorder in the morning and evening increases vitamin D, serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine levels.

Dopamine is the brain messenger involved in behavior and cognition, voluntary movement, motivation and reward, sleep, mood, attention and learning.  It is involved in allowing us to develop new behaviors because a main role of dopamine is the “reward” system.

 

  1. Maintain a Regular Wake-Sleep Cycle
  • The production of serotonin for the next day requires at least 7 hours of sound, high quality sleep the night before.

 

  1. Nutrition
  • Eat protein high in tryptophan, which is required for serotonin production: Chicken, white flakey fish, lean cuts of pork, veal, cottage cheese, lamb, low fat cheeses, low fat milk and dairy products and legumes.