The Best Vitamins You Should Be Taking

The Best Vitamins You Should Be Taking

The Best Vitamins You Should be Taking

In a perfect world we would consume all of the needed nutrients for good health through diet alone.

However, this is far from a perfect world.

Our diets are not nourishing us like they should be, and this is due to a number of reasons.

Why we need vitamins

First, most of us don’t eat “clean” 100% of time. We don’t always eat the recommended servings for fruits and vegetables and we have been known, on occasion, to eat from a box instead of a home-cooked meal.

Second, the foods today do not possess the same nutrients that they used to (due to poor soil quality and GMOs), and third we are not getting the variety of foods, on a daily basis, that we should be to cover the gamut of nutrients we need to function our best with.

All of these leave gaps in our diet that need to be filled by vitamins and supplements.

This does not, however, give you free rein to eat what you want because you can supplement good health.

You will always get more from a vegetable and a piece of fruit than you will from a pill.

The best vitamins you should be taking

To find out what the best vitamins and supplements most people should be taking on a regular basis I consulted with Halina Kwiatkowska, owner and operator of Ladner’s sweetest little health store Parsley, Sage and Thyme.

I wanted to know if there were certain vitamins that we should be taking, and if so, do these recommendations change as we get older.

For all ages Kwiatkowska recommends a:

– A good multi-vitamin

– A probiotic

– Omega-3

(Note: These are general recommendation. Grab a more detailed and specific recommendation for your health by visiting Parsley, Sage and Thyme).

Multivitamin

She explains that a multivitamin is a “foundational supplement” containing vitamins and minerals (and in some cases other nutrients as well), considered necessary for our daily functioning.

Think of a multivitamin as our “insurance”. A little extra added protection for our health.

You can also buy multivitamins specific to your gender, as we well as your age group and other specific conditions like prenatal or active multi’s for athletes, tailoring your multi to your life and lifestyle.

I am in love with this brand of multivitamin and I buy the over 40 women blend.

[bctt tweet=”Health is like money. We never have a true idea of its worth until we lose it. #Truth”]

Probiotics

Probiotics are recommended for a healthy digestive tract and gut. They are the healthy bacteria keeping our gut, and our health, happy.

Unfortunately, our modern North American diet, accompanied with overmedication and over-sterilization, has stripped us of essential, beneficial bacteria in our gut and we need to supplement with a probiotic to counteract this.

Probiotics will help to keep our digestion and absorption going, not to mention help support our immune system so we can fight off infections, flus, colds and other illnesses.

Probiotics can be found in fermented foods such as:

Sauerkraut

Kimichi

Kosher pickles

Tempeh

Kombucha tea

Miso soup

Kefir

Yogurt

These are not foods a lot of us eat on a regular basis, though, which is understandable why they are a recommended supplement.

Local peeps! If you need a kick in the a** to get your diet and waistline back in order sign up for my 30-Day Diet Bootcamp. You get the plan, weekly coaching and support for the 30 days.

Omega 3’s

Omega-3’s are essential to our health as well. However, as essential as they are our bodies we cannot produce them. We have to consume omega-3 rich foods and supplements from our diet.

Omega-3’s protect our cells from inflammation. They are able to envelope every cell of our body, giving them the protection they need from the stresses of daily life.

These stresses and inflammations can be brought on by a poor diet, a high stress life, an active lifestyle (yes, exercise is inflammatory), as well as current disease and sickness.

Omega 3’s can also be used to combat diseases like arthritis, as well as the prevention of Alzheimer’s.

Omega 3’s are most abundant in cold water fish, as well as in some seeds like chia, sacha inchi and flax.

When supplementing, look for an Omega-3 that has a higher EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) to DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). In addition, talk to your physician before adding them as a supplement to your diet as they can interact with some medications.

Over 40 vitamin recommendations

As we get older, into our 40’s and 50’s, Kwiatkowska recommends adding an adrenal support supplement, vitamin D3 and magnesium to our daily diet as well.

Adrenal support is particularly important for women in their peri and menopausal years, as well as anyone who has high levels of the stress hormone cortisol floating through their blood on a daily basis.

How do you know if that’s you?

Some classic signs of adrenal exhaustion are:

Fatigue

Depressed mood

Irritability

Unable to drag yourself out of bed, yet in the evening you can’t fall asleep

Brain fog and poor memory

You rely on sugary snacks and caffeine to get you through the day.

If that’s you, you need to start taking care of your adrenal glands and begin making some lifestyle choices that will lower your cortisol levels.

Vitamin D3 is important because it is involved in regulating the levels of the minerals calcium and phosphorus. It also boosts our immune system and is used for conditions of the heart and blood vessels, including high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

In addition, vitamin D3 is used for diabetes, obesity, muscle weakness, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, bronchitis, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and tooth and gum disease and certain skin conditions.

It’s lack in our bodies has been linked to every cancer ever known.

Health Canada has recognized the importance of D3 and recently raised the daily intake of vitamin D3 to 8,000 IU (International Units) per day, even in the summer months.

Magnesium is an important supplement as we age as it is needed to help combat diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, asthma, osteoporosis, and liver disease to name a few.

Magnesium will also help curb anxiety and panic attacks, relieve insomnia and reduce muscle cramping (important if you are active).

The Best Vitamins

Best time to take your vitamins

When the best time to take your vitamins?

Most supplements are best taken in the morning, but some require to be taken twice or even three times a day.

Most multivitamins are twice a day, with the first one always in the morning and the second one in the afternoon, but not too late in the evening.

Other supplements that are specific to a condition may vary on when the best times are to take.

For example, most minerals should be taken in the evening as they absorb better when you are sleeping.

Take your vitamins with or without food

Multivitamins, minerals and most supplements should be taken with food to help ease their digestion and absorption.

Kwiatkowska explains that in the presence of a snack or a meal, your vitamins will be broken down as part of that meal and enter the bloodstream slowly.

This will prevent a stomach ache, burping (which can be a tad embarrassing when out in public), or a digestive upset.

Taking your vitamins and supplements with food will also slow down the uptake of nutrients into the bloodstream.

In the end, though, it’s important to first eat real food, second supplement when you need to and third live an active and healthy lifestyle – no matter what age you are.

Parsley, Sage &Thyme Natural Health Store has been part the Delta/Ladner community since the early 1970s. www.parsleysagethyme.com

 

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The Truth About Standing Desks You Need to Know

The Truth About Standing Desks You Need to Know

The Truth About Standing Desks You Need to Know

The truth about standing desks you need to know…

We all know that sitting is bad for us. Heck, most of us feel it when we do sit for too long.

We feel our low back start to throb when seated on the plane. Or, our hip pain flare up when in the car for a long period of time. Or, the ache in our knees when seated at an event and we simply can’t stretch out our legs.

Some of these activities we can control while others, like sitting in front of a computer all day, we can’t. If you are one the many Canadians who has to work for a living, then you cannot not sit for your job.

Prolonged sitting has been linked to heart disease, a shorter lifespan, diabetes and cancer.

How to die quicker

One study compared adults who spent less than two hours a day in front of the TV or other screen-based activity, with those who logged more than four hours a day.

Those with the greater screen time/sit time had a nearly 50 percent increased risk of death from any cause, and about a 125 percent increased risk of events associated with cardiovascular disease – such as chest pain (angina) or heart attack.

What’s worse, is now they have found that spending a few hours a week at the gym or otherwise engaging in other moderate to vigorous activities does not seem to offset the damages that sitting does.

What does then?

Standing desks to the rescue?

For the past few years standing desks have been touted as the saviour to sitting.

These desks, which can be adjusted so you can work in either a sit or stand position, have become extremely popular (just Google “buy sit-stand desk” and you will get over 2 million hits).

But, do they really work? Does standing in one place do anything for your health?

Recently researchers from a Cochrane work group took a look at twenty different studies with a total of 2174 participants.

Their aim was to see if workplace interventions and changes actually helped, and if the participants sat less because of these interventions.

The variety of studies that were evaluated used different forms of interventions. Some used information and counselling to encourage people to move more through the day. Others looked at software, some at mindfulness training and almost half of all the studies assessed looked at the effects of active workstations (i.e. standing desks).

The truth about standing desks

What did they find? A big fat nothing.

They found that none of the interventions had any real impact on our sit time, and that sit-stand desks had “very low quality of evidence” that it reduced sitting at work in the short term (to date there are no long term studies).

The studies also revealed that sit-stand desks did not have any considerable effects on work performance, musculoskeletal symptoms (such as low back pain), or sick leave.

There were too few participants and too many poorly designed studies that no real data could be gleaned from them.

Some experts also argue that simply standing in one place is really no difference than sitting in one place.

There is no evidence that standing for four hours, as opposed to sitting, will provide you with health benefits.

In fact, both prolonged sitting AND standing are both shown to heighten your risk of enlarged veins (hello varicose veins).

What to really do

So, what do you do? How can you offset the ill-effects sitting has on the body?

Right now science does not have an exact answer for us. As indicated in the Cochrane study, more research, with a much larger sample group, for longer periods of time are needed.

In the meantime, we must move our bodies more. We have become a society of sitters. Whether it’s in the car, at a desk, or in front of the TV.

I think once we remember that our bodies are the machines that should be powering us through life, we will take the necessary steps (literally and metaphorically) to solve our sitting problem.

Until then, give me ten squats every time your butt hits a chair.

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10 Truths You Wish You Knew When You Were Younger

10 Truths You Wish You Knew When You Were Younger

10 Truths You Wish You Knew When You Were Younger

 

What if you could write a letter to your younger self?

 

What would you say? What life lessons would you share?

 

Would your letter go a little like the letter I would write to my 24-year old self?

 

Dear 24-year old PJ,

 

Hey PJ! So, we just celebrated our 46th birthday a few days ago (spoiler alert: we were in Mexico), and it got me thinking about some life lessons I wished we learned earlier.

 

But, before we get into that, how are you?

 

I know! That was a ridiculous question to ask. Since you are me and I know I was doing pretty good 22 years ago, even if I didn’t think I was at the time.

 

But, 22 years ago is when we married loving husband and launched our personal training business.

 

It was a big year girlfriend.

 

In fact, our 20’s were pretty good. But, unfortunately we were pretty busy being 20-something, and taking everything for granted like 20-somethings do, that we didn’t really appreciate what the hell we had.

 

Hence this letter.

 

10 Truths I Wish I Knew When I Was Younger

 

First, learn to forgive the a**holes in life.

 

It’s not easy, but you need to learn this important step.

 

You see, even if they were a jerk to you it doesn’t mean that it’s all about you. Yes, thinking that they are being an a-hole to just you means you believe life revolves only around you.

 

Huge life lesson here, it does not.

 

This a-hole could just be having a bad day. Or, someone may have been an a-hole to them earlier (which then put them in a bad mood). You just don’t know their story.

 

So please, forgive, turn the other cheek, smile and be nice (Yes, you may curse at them inside your head. We aren’t saints for crying out loud.).

 

Second, learn to love the journey as much as the destination.

 

We are very good at making goals. We have laser-like focus and will quite often narrow our vision to the finish line only.

 

What you need to start doing is paying attention to the journey as well.

 

This is where you will meet some pretty cool people (if you pay attention), as well as learn about yourself and create all the awesome memories that we can reflect on as we get older.

 

The destination is really secondary to the journey.

 

Third, learn to breathe for crying out loud.

 

Everyday take a few moments to just sit still and breathe.

 

These few moments I am asking you to take are what you are going to term “slow and useless”. They really aren’t and are quite the opposite.

 

The stillness will make us happier, rev us up and help get those creative juices running.

 

Trust me on this one*.

 

* Well, you kinda have to since I am you, and not trusting me would actually be not trusting yourself.

 

Fourth, flat abs and an inner thigh gap is not better health.

 

We were pretty overweight as kids, so I get why you are so concerned about your body image.

 

Flash forward 22 years later though, and with the loss of friends and loved ones from diseases, you will recognize that good health is actually vitality and vigour for life.

 

It is an inner glow and energy that one exudes when you are enjoying good food, a good life and doing those squats you love so much.

 

Fifth, appreciate loving husband (and those around you) more.

 

It is friends and family that will help you through some tough times ahead. You will need their support and their love, so give lots to them right now.

 

Yes, loving husband will still be eating junk food and hiding the wrappers in the garbage can when we are middle-aged. However, he puts up with a lot from us so you will learn to ignore these culinary indiscretions of his.

 

Sixth, use sunscreen.

 

This will save us both a lot of money in the future in laser treatments, exfoliates, anti-aging moisturizers and high-def make-up.

 

Seventh, quit buying the latest and greatest.

 

It is, in the end, just crap. You can live without that sweater and I promise you that owning matching dinnerware, cutlery and placements will not bring you inner peace.

 

Save our money and use it for trips and experiences. That’s the sort of thing that we will be remembering, and yearning for more of, in our middle years.

 

Eighth, be kind to yourself.

 

Love yourself and the skin that you are in. You are perfectly imperfect and embrace that.

 

Ninth, be kind to others.

 

The world runs at a really fast-pace nowadays. So fast that we can lose a bit of our humanity just because we are too damn busy to care.

 

Don’t let that happen. Don’t be an a**hole (refer back to tip #1). Care for others and be kind – however, don’t lose your attitude. That’s what makes us all unique.

 

And tenth, rely on your instincts.

 

Instincts can serve a girl well so start paying attention to yours.

 

When making the tough decisions that we have to make in life have a clear-head and trust your gut.

 

Your intuition, and that gut instinct you feel, will provide you with a very useful first step in any decision-making process.

 

However, there is one occasion that I strongly urge you NOT to trust your gut.

 

When we turn 40 we will think it’s a great idea to die our hair platinum blonde. It is not a great idea. In fact, it is an epically bad one. Blonde is not the way to go for us.

 

Trust me. We will regret that one.

PJ-blonde 

Love Me

 ps – being middle-aged is actually pretty cool.

 pps – you know how you are always cold? I got two words for you Hot. Flashes

 

 

TIRED OF TRYING TO FIGURE WHAT WORKOUTS YOU
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Branched Chain Amino Acids

Branched Chain Amino Acids

Branched Chain Amino Acids

and why you need them…

I remember the first time I read about branched chain amino acids (BCAAs). At first I ignored them because I didn’t really do a lot of supplementation with my diet (other than a few vitamins every morning).

However, as I started getting older and researching deeper into finding ways to train the over-40 body (for optimum health, fitness and physique), I knew supplementation was needed.

So, I researched branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) again and here I am today using them as a regular, and daily, part of my diet.

What are BCAAs

First, a little back story about BCAAs.

These particular BCAAs that I am talking about are not a subsidiary of the BCAA Insurance Agency (FYI: this joke is only gonna work with my British Columbia readers).

They will do absolutely nothing for you if your car breaks down, other than perhaps give you the energy to run to the gas station for help.

Instead, these BCAAs (leucine, isoleucine and valine) play a very important role in muscle and energy production during exercise.

Fuelling our muscles

BCAAS are amino acids that the body cannot produce. We must ingest them through food or supplements, and when put to work it’s their job to fuel the muscles whenever our muscles need to contract.

They are main drivers for energy when we exercise and they are also crucial in building and maintaining lean muscle mass.

For those of us 40 years and plus this is great news.

You see we start to lose lean muscle mass in our early 30’s. This decrease in lean muscle tissue is one the reasons we have a harder time maintaining our body weight as we get older (hello middle-aged spread).

As we get older we also have a harder time building muscle.

BCCAs help with both building and maintaining our lean muscle mass as we age.

Studies have shown that older individuals who supplement with a BCAA after their strength workout (and one with a higher ratio of the amino acid leucine), build lean muscle 145% better than those who don’t!

fit-looking-older-man-running-Fitness-with-PJ

What else can they do?

BCAAs also enhance endurance performance and decrease fatigue. I supplement my water with 10 grams of BCAAs on the days I do cardio in a fasted state. They help keep me going.

When it comes to aging there is also some great evidence that BCAAs can have an anti-aging effect.

Researchers believe it’s because BCAAs increase the formation of new mitochondria.

Mitochondria are the powerhouses within our cells. They are the compartment of the cell that convert the energy from food into a form that that cell can use.

Mitochondria are found in our brains and our muscle fibres, and when they are plentiful and working optimally we are healthier because of it.

Another benefit to BCAAs is they will reduce your post-workout muscle soreness, thereby allowing you to train at a higher intensity and more frequently.

funny-quote-after-workout-soreness

Can you get BCAAs from food?

Absolutely. BCAAs are found in foods containing protein, with the highest concentrations found in:

  • Chicken
  • Beef
  • Salmon
  • Eggs
  • Whey protein

The most popular form of BCAA, though, is powdered.

Because it is recommended to have BCAAs before, during or after your workout most people find it easier to ingest some powder with their water.

My favourite BCAA brand is “PVL Essentials BCAA Powder”.

This particular brand also has a higher ratio of leucine, which is the more beneficial amino acid of the three. Word of caution though, I find the unflavoured BCAA powder pretty nasty unless you are mixing it with something flavoured. Try the orange instead, it isn’t bad.

You can also buy BCAAs in pill form. However, this is more expensive than buying the canister and you cannot utilize its effects while you are working out.

Branched-Chain-Amino-Acids-Fitness-with-PJ-blog-photo

How much do I need

How much BCAA powder should you consume? 5-10 grams is recommended, with the most crucial times either pre, post or during your workout.

When I am training I drink 10 grams while training and then I add another 10 grams in my protein shake post-workout. In addition I also drink 10 grams as soon as I get up in the morning.

Long and short, having BCAAs in your diet can help support muscle size, strength, and performance and perhaps turn back the hands of time.

Learn more about protein and protein powders here.

Top 4 Trainer Tips to Getting Toned and Fit Over 40

Top 4 Trainer Tips to Getting Toned and Fit Over 40

Top 4 Trainer Tips to Getting Toned and Fit Over 40

I saw a quote on the Internet the other day that made me giggle. It was a picture of a guy standing around a group of overweight seniors with the caption reading, “If you want to look young and thin, hang out around old fat people.”.

Now, that’s one way to do it, isn’t?

But if you live where I live you will be hard-pressed to find some out-of-shape seniors to hang with to make you feel better. All the seniors I know kick some serious butt and make a lot of twenty-year-olds look bad.

So, our next step is turning to fitness to help get us get fitter and feel younger.

Over 40? How to Get Toned and Fit

Whether your goal is to:

  • Lose weight
  • Build muscle tone
  • Prevent diseases
  • Or simply stay above ground for the longest you can

These four tips will help get you there far more effectively than other training technique.

1/ Consistency.

One of the first rules of achieving better fitness is frequency.

I know, super boring, right? However, you cannot expect to see any change in your body or fitness with an inconsistent workout plan, or by training just once or twice a week.

How often should you be training then, for results?

Three times a week strength work, twice a week aerobic, or interval work, and everyday stretching.

Seems like a lot?

Well, for the bulk of those days (the strength and cardio workouts) you would be training for less than an hour. Take 45 minutes against the rest of your 24 hours, and you have less than 4%.

Meaning that less than 4% of your total day is used exercising.

If you can’t invest in a measly 4% towards your health, then you need to be careful because you just may become that old fat person others go hang out with to look and feel better.

Make Time For What Matters - Fitness with PJ


2/ Strength.

As we get older we naturally lose our lean muscle mass. Women, between the ages of 20 and 40, will lose on average 3.6 kg of muscle while gaining 10 kg of fat. Men, between the ages of 20 and 80, will lose one quarter of their muscle mass (Dr. Michael Colgan).

And guess what? Running, cycling or other aerobic sports will not prevent this loss.

Researchers at McMaster University compared a ten-week program of weight training plus aerobic exercise against aerobic exercise alone. The aerobic group showed only a 2% increase in cardiovascular capacity and an 11% increase in endurance.

The weight training plus aerobics group showed a 15% increase in cardiovascular capacity and a massive 109% increase in endurance!

For strength the results favoured weight training even more. The aerobics group showed no increase in arm or leg strength while the weight training group showed a 43% increase in arm strength and a 22% increase in leg strength.

Building your strength and lean muscle mass will:

  • Boost your ability to burn fat
  • Grow bone density
  • Improve immunity
  • Combat diabetes
  • Reduce joint pain found with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
  • Strengthen your heart
  • Yield better coronary artery flow in the heart
  • Produce greater sub-maximal endurance and less fatigue.

3/ Intensity.

Exercise intensity matters far more than duration when working out.

In a study called the Copenhagen City Heart Study, the researchers there followed a random sample of about 12,000 people in Copenhagen for 21 years.

These 12,000 all cycled and what the researchers found were that the individuals who typically rode fast on a regular basis (so biking at a higher intensity) lived 5.3 years longer than those cycled slow.

A study found in the American Journal of Health Promotion showed that women who engaged in shorter bouts of more intense exercise had a lower body mass index than those who stayed at a steady state when exercising.

This particular study found that for every extra minute of high-intensity exertion a woman did each day was linked to a .07 decrease in body mass index. And that’s only one minute.

Imagine if you did five to ten minutes a few times a week?

i'm-the-personal-trainer-your-mother-warned-you-about-fitness-with-pj

Try these high-intensity workouts (suitable for all levels):

35-Minute Bodyweight HIIT

24-Minute Ab HIIT

TRX Tabata – Part 2

TRX Tabata – Part 1

30-Minute Dumbbell Tabata

STEP or BOSU Ball HIIT

4/ Attitude.

If you have an attitude and demeanour that you are going to try, that you are going to allow yourself to get uncomfortable, and that you are going to take it one day at a time and not get frustrated with the process then you will get amazingly fit and toned.

I have trained thousands of people in my 20+ years and the ones with a positive attitude always achieve their goals.

However, if you constantly say to yourself:

  • There’s no way I will ever be able to run for that long.
  • I won’t be able to hold a plank that long.
  • I can’t find the time to workout.
  • I’m too old.
  • I”ll never be able to squat, lunge or perform a push up.

Or, if you play the victim and claim “How did this happen to me? I used to be able to…” then all hell will break loose in your brain and you will never successfully reach your goal.

Tapping into the power of the mind is used with athletes all the time.

They are taught to visualize their course, their upcoming match or event. They are coached to visualize themselves doing it, step-by-step, and then winning it.

They know that negative self talk will manifest into their grey matter, then into their muscles until it finally becomes their new reality.

So, stop being a victim and start taking control. Stop talking to yourself poorly and in a way that you would never talk to anyone else like.

Treat yourself with the respect you deserve and you will not only be fit and toned, but you will also be happy and content.

fly-first-love-yourself-fitness-with=PJ

 

TIRED OF TRYING TO FIGURE WHAT WORKOUTS YOU
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What is a Hot Flash?

What is a Hot Flash?

What is a Hot Flash?

I have been cold for most of my life (and I’m talking physically, not metaphorically).

I am always the one with a sweater on, even in the dead of summer. I am the last one to turn on a fan when working out, and I once wore a scarf – in Mexico.

I am probably the only woman on earth that couldn’t wait for menopause and hot flashes to start.

Fast forward to today and here I am kinda wishing I wasn’t so vocal to the hormone gods that I wanted some hot flashes.

What Exactly is a Hot Flash

Hot flashes are a common symptom of menopause. It’s a quick feeling of heat that is not caused by any external sources, leaving us sweating from our scalps all the way down to our toes.

They can range from mild and tolerable, to downright troublesome, and all the way to severe and debilitating.

Some women can have hot flashes for decades, while others for just a few years.

A few weeks ago I reached out to my community to ask them how a hot flash felt for them, and here are some of the responses I received:

“A heat that feels like it’s “radiating from your body” late at night or the early hours of the morning…often accompanied by a sweaty neck and restless sleep.”

“…my experience has been with night sweats which you wake up and find yourself very hot and sweaty, sometimes having to change because you have soaked your pj’s – not fun! I have experienced day ones too, which you don’t give you any warning. One minute you’re fine and then the next you are wanting to take your clothes off because you are so hot and uncomfortable. It can be very embarrassing depending where you are, thank goodness I don’t get those very often. I do find if I have had wine that night that I am more prone to having a night sweat.”

“Hot flashes are a very uncomfortable feeling as they come suddenly and leave suddenly. Nights are the hardest as I dress up, undress, dress up, undress, probably 20 times a night.”

“Before hormone replacement I was getting hot flashes that would make my head and face feel like a volcano had erupted on it.”

“…a hot flash feels like my blood is burning up from the inside of me and my face and neck area gets very red, my arms are really hot and a darker color. Thank god they don’t last too long. You can feel them coming on and then you feel normal again.”

Researchers believe that women with hot flashes have more sensitive thermostats in their brain, so they are only comfortable in a small range of temperatures (North American Menopause Society – NAMS).

Researchers also hypothesize that hot flashes may be because of a change in our circulation (WebMD).

Dr. Karen McGee, naturopathic physician in Fort Langley who specializes in women’s health, says that a drop in estrogen is one of the factors in a hot flash, however she says that it is a bit more complex than just low estrogen.

She explains that we are actually designed to fight off hot flashes, but lifestyle hinders that fight.

There is a layer of our adrenal glands that releases sex hormones, and these hormones can prevent hot flashes. But, throw in a busy lifestyle and chronic stress and our adrenal glands are left being busy dealing with day-to-day life stuff. They are unable to balance the thermoregulation needed to prevent a hot flash.

And so the hormone sh*t-storm begins.

funny-menopause-hot-flash-quote-fitness-with-PJ

Hot Flash Triggers

While you can’t escape hot flashes during menopause, there some triggers you can avoid to help with the intensity of them.

These are:

  • Stress (to keep your adrenal glands happy)
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Spicy Foods
  • Tight clothing
  • Heat
  • Cigarette smoke

NAMS recommends if your hot flashes are mild or moderate you may find relief by simply changing your lifestyle.

But, if you have severe hot flashes, while you will still benefit from lifestyle changes, you may also choose to take a nonprescription therapy or a prescription medication, including hormones to help you manage your symptoms.

Lifestyle Changes

A big lifestyle change that can help produce a difference with hot flashes is to stay cool (both physically and metaphorically), and reduce your stress.

Other relief options can include:

  • Avoiding warm rooms (no more saunas or hot tubs), hot drinks and foods, alcohol, caffeine, excess stress, and cigarette smoking.
  • Wearing layers of clothing made from light, breathable fabrics. This way you can remove a layer or two when you’re hot and replace them when you’re cooler (this is a tactic I use).
  • Using cooling products, including sprays, gels, and a Chillow pillow.
  • Reducing stress and promoting a more restful sleep by exercising regularly.
  • Meditation, yoga, qigong, tai chi, biofeedback, acupuncture, or massage will also lower your stress levels.

When you feel a hot flash coming on:

  • Try “paced respiration” (NAMS). This is slow, deep, abdominal breathing where you breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. You want to breathe like that for only 5 to 7 times per minute. So it is much slower than usual, and continue breathing like that until you feel the flash subside.
  • You can also try different strategies to stay cool while sleeping, such as dressing in light, breathable nightclothes. Or, wear workout wear, like a Nike dri-fit top.
  • Use layered bedding that can be easily removed during the night.
  • Cool down with a bedside fan.
  • Keep a frozen cold pack under your pillow, and turn the pillow often so that your head is always resting on a cool surface.
  • If you wake at night, sip cool water and to get back to sleep try meditation, paced respiration, or getting out of bed and reading until you become sleepy.

Women who are overweight tend to have more hot flashes, so maintaining a healthy weight and exercising regularly will help in both decreasing the hot flashes while also improving your overall health.

Nonprescription Therapies

Many nonprescription therapies can help reduce hot flashes, but not because of how you would think.

Researchers claim that nonprescription therapies work because of the placebo effect.

When nonprescription treatments are studied scientifically (NAMS) it has been found that they are JUST as effective as the placebo.

But, even if relief is simply all in our heads it is still worth a shot to try, yes?

Yes, I think so too.

Some remedies you might want to consider for hot flash relief are:

  • Soy: eat one or two servings of foods daily (containing isoflavones). This can be tofu, tempeh, soymilk, or roasted soy nuts.
  • Supplements containing soy isoflavones.
  • Herb supplements: such as black cohosh, have also decreased hot flashes in some studies

Prescription Therapies

Dr. McGee sees success with her patients using bio-identical hormone replacement therapy (replacing your estrogen and progesterone).

Estrogen, in a pill or a transdermal patch, is highly effective at reducing, and in some cases, eliminating symptoms.

However, there are risks with hormone therapy (HT).

Long term studies of women receiving oral preparations of combined hormone therapy of both estrogen and progesterones were halted when it was discovered that the women in the study had an increased risk for heart attack, stroke and breast cancer when compared with women who did not receive HT.

Later studies of women taking estrogen alone showed that estrogen was associated with an increased risk for stroke, but not for heart attack or breast cancer.

So, the decision to start, or continue taking, HT is a hard one and a very individual choice. Talk to your health care provider to weigh the pros and cons.

Other prescription therapies include:

  • Low-dose depression drugs like fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil), or venlafaxine (Effexor)
  • Clonidine, a blood pressure medication
  • Gabapentin, an anti-seizure drug
  • Brisdelle, a paroxetine formula specifically for hot flashes
  • Duavee, a conjugated estrogens/bazedoxifene formula designed to treat hot flashes

You can also read what the North American Menopause Society recommends by clicking here.

 

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