Sexual desire is a sign of good health and if yours is absent, it may be your body needs a tune up. Of course major stressors, traumas, bad relationships, raising babies, and other chaotic intrusions can squash your libido, but you should otherwise consider it a normal part of life. If yours has gone missing it’s your body’s way of raising a red flag to gain your attention.
People who use functional medicine to improve their health commonly report a return of their libido, even though that may not be what drove them to seek help in the first place. Instead they may have come for hypothyroidism, depression, fatigue, pain, or some other chronic condition.
When a chronic health issue has you in its grips, it’s no wonder libido disappears — coping with constant illness and discomfort leaves room for little else. On the other hand, some people’s chronic issues are subtle enough they don’t know their health is flagging, just that their libido is.
Factors that can cause low libido
Below are some factors that can contribute to your loss of libido:
Adrenal fatigue. Your adrenal glands sit atop each kidney and secrete hormones to help you cope with stress. Most people deal with so much stress the adrenal glands and the adrenal pathways in the brain start to falter. This is one of the primary causes of hormonal imbalances, especially in women, and can lead to loss of libido.
Leaky gut. Leaky gut means the small intestine has become overly porous from damage and inflammation. When the gut is leaky, undigested foods, bacteria, and other compounds slip into the bloodstream where they don’t belong. This has been shown to trigger inflammation, pain, depression, fatigue, autoimmune flare ups, inflammatory bowel disorders, and other chronic problems that leave one feeling decidedly unsexy.
Gluten intolerance. Gluten? Really? Gluten wreaks havoc on so many people’s health that sometimes it is the main cause of myriad health disorders, including autoimmune disease, skin rashes, joint pain, irritable bowel disorders, fatigue, depression, brain fog, and so on. Just removing this one food has restored enough vigor and vitality to many people that they are surprised to find their libido robustly returns. You may also need to avoid other foods, such as dairy, other grains, eggs, or soy. Getting the right food sensitivity test can help you determine which foods might be mooching your mojo.
Low blood sugar or high blood sugar. If your blood sugar is out of whack it’s going to bring the rest of your body down, particularly your hormone function. Skipping breakfast, skipping meals, and subsisting on coffee and pastries, pasta dishes, smoothies, or other high-carb meals is a recipe for hypoglycemia. This causes irritability, spaciness, fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, and other libido-sapping symptoms. On the other hand, overeating and eating too many sweets and high-carb foods can cause blood sugar to be too high, which can cause its own set of symptoms, particularly feeling sleepy after meals. Many people swing between the two, which is very stressful on the body and robs you of a healthy libido.
These are just some basic underlying causes of the many health disorders that often result in loss of libido. Of course it can be more complicated, but one must always start with the foundations of good health. From good health springs a healthy libido, which can in turn provide for a more satisfying relationship with your loved one.
And let’s not forget andropause and menopause as reasons for low libidos. Ask me for support in helping restore your libido.]]>
When their kids leave home, when their parents and/or spouses depart, when they’re hit by a layoff and unemployed for long periods of time, when their money is scarce, when their bodies change unpredictably, midlife women ask: “Who am I now?” I can’t blame them.
With each midlife change we become less of who we used to be, and more of someone new. Mostly these midlife changes are ones that feel like they were “done to us,” rather than ones we chose. And because we didn’t choose them, that makes our identity changes harder. We‘re just not who we used to be in the same way that we used to be. Some of us even catch ourselves wishing we could go back to being that person we used to be.
But why not create a new, improved identity for our midlife selves? One who is wiser and more evolved. An identity that’s more interesting, more lovable, more attractive and even healthier than your old identity.
Want some help ditching the midlife identity struggle? Or any other midlife struggle? When you join me for my exciting event: FROM STRUGGLE TO WOW on October 25th and 26th you’ll have ample opportunities to ditch whatever you’re struggling with.
It will be a magical weekend in which you’ll get to step out of your everyday life. You’ll get answers to some burning questions, treat yourself to a menu of self-care options, learn some vital new strategies to help you ditch the struggle, and emerge with some clarity, new friends, and even new ideas.
Find out more at http://www.womenwowtheworld.com
Register today while there are still tickets available!
And while you’re at it – bring a friend so you can both enjoy what promises to be one of the most enjoyable weekends of the year.
I always say that you know you’re in midlife when you’re doing what you’ve always done – except now your body isn’t letting you get away with it. You’re eating the way you always have – but now you’re gaining weight. You’re trying to sleep (or not sleep) the way you always have – but now you’re falling asleep in meetings or in other inappropriate places.
The fact that your body is changing is usually a tip off that you’re in midlife – and perhaps for some this precipitates some sort of crisis. My hunch is that is more true for men than for women. Women tell me that they now feel invisible because their bodies have changed and men don’t notice them anymore.
But my hunch is that for most of us the real crisis in midlife had nothing to do with menopause. Instead our crises had to do with relationships changing: children leaving home, or returning home because they couldn’t make it on their own, aging parents who need help or who have departed, spouses or partners who have departed or who are driving us crazy. Yearning for a new spouse or partner, for children we never had, for new friends who get what we’re going through, for something other than what we have.
Given the U.S. economy many of us found ourselves hit by layoffs, and unemployed for long periods of time, with rampant ageism making job opportunities harder to find than before. Many of us lost a chunk of our retirement savings and find ourselves wondering whether we’ll ever be able to retire or whether we would outlive our savings.
If your midlife crisis had nothing to do with menopause (or even if it did) please join me for a magical event I’m hosting on October 25th and 26th in Mountain View, CA. It’s called From Struggle to WOW and it’s all about taking care of yourself, for a change. You’ll meet new friends and learn some vital 21st century success strategies and have fun for 2 whole days. Click here to register: www.womenwowtheworld.com]]>
In functional medicine, laziness and lack of motivation are seen as symptoms of larger health issues that, when addressed and corrected, can make the couch feel like a prison and life outside a playground of adventures waiting to be experienced.
Health issues that can make you lazy and unmotivated
Below are issues that may be sapping your energy, motivation, and desire to more fully live your life.
Blood sugar blues. If you skip breakfast and other meals, subsist on coffee and energy drinks, or if the majority of your meals are based around rice, noodles, pastries, cereal, sugar, and other processed carbohydrates, you are probably riding a roller coaster of blood sugar highs and lows. Eventually this causes fatigue, brain chemistry imbalances, depression, poor stress-handling, and other fallouts that will send you to the sofa.
Hypothyroidism. Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks and destroys the thyroid gland. It is the leading cause of hypothyroidism and causes symptoms that include depression, fatigue, weight gain, lethargy, and low motivation. If you have lost your get-up-and-go, have your thyroid screened using functional medicine lab ranges.
Brain chemistry imbalance. Brain chemicals called neurotransmitters relay messages between neurons and play a large role in how we feel and function. When the neurotransmitter dopamine is low it can cause poor motivation and low self-esteem. Serotonin, GABA, and acetylcholine are other neurotransmitters that affect mood, energy, and motivation. Hormonal imbalances, hypothyroidism, high or low blood sugar, and chronic stress are factors that can skew neurotransmitters.
Brain fog. Brain fog is a symptom of brain inflammation. It simply means your brain is firing slowly, causing that heavy, thick, tired feeling in your brain. Things that can cause brain fog include chronic inflammation, an autoimmune reaction in the brain (when the immune system attacks the brain), food sensitivities, hypothyroidism, leaky gut, and hormonal imbalances.
Gluten intolerance. Gluten intolerance has become more common and really drains the energy out of some people. It also causes inflammation, depression, fatigue, and other symptoms that make the couch awfully inviting. Other foods that may cause these reactions include dairy, eggs, soy, corn, and other grains.
Leaky gut. Leaky gut means the lining of the small intestine has become inflamed and overly porous, allowing undigested food particles, bacteria, fungus, and other pathogens into the bloodstream, where they don’t belong. This triggers inflammation in the body and brain. The result can be fatigue, lethargy, lack of motivation, and other couch potato characteristics.
These are just a few examples of how a subtle but chronic health issue can drain you of your drive. Of course, it’s hard to make drastic lifestyle changes when you have no energy or motivation, but start with something small and gradually add in new changes. Ask me for help on restoring the energy and vitality you were meant to enjoy in life.]]>
Leaky gut is also referred to as intestinal permeability, and means the lining of the small intestine has become inflamed, damaged, and overly porous. This allows undigested foods, bacteria, molds, and other compounds to enter into the bloodstream. Because these compounds don’t belong there, the immune system views them as toxic and attacks them. This in turn causes inflammation, which is at the heart of so many chronic health problems today.
Leaky gut now medically recognized
Leaky gut was once maligned by conventional medicine as naturopathic folklore, but researchers have now validated it and linked it with many chronic disorders. It’s fortunate this condition is gaining a foothold because the gut is our largest immune system organ. Studies have now linked it with inflammatory bowel disorders, gluten sensitivity and celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, type 1 diabetes, depression, psoriasis, and more. Given the influence of gut health on immunity, repairing leaky gut is vital to managing any chronic health disorder.
How to repair leaky gut
It’s important to know what contributed to your leaky gut when you work to repair it as this will better your chances of recovery. However, diet is foundational regardless the cause.
This is because the most common cause of leaky gut is a poor diet of processed foods and excess sugars. Food intolerances also play a major role, especially a gluten intolerance. A leaky gut diet, also known as an autoimmune diet, has a strong track record of helping people repair leaky gut. Keeping blood sugar stable is also important as blood sugar that gets too low or too high contributes to leaky gut. This requires eating regularly enough so you don’t “bonk” and avoiding too many carbohydrates that can send blood sugar soaring and crashing.
Other common causes of leaky gut include antibiotic use, overuse of NSAIDs such as ibuprofen, drinking too much alcohol, an imbalance of gut bacteria, hypothyroidism, and autoimmunity. Many nutrients can help repair a leaky gut, but it’s important to also address what caused it. If you have an autoimmune condition, managing leaky gut can be a lifelong process requiring food restrictions and careful attention to lifestyle to prevent provoking inflammation and flare ups.
A leaky gut protocol is foundational to improving health. Not only can it relieve symptoms but it can also improve energy, enhance well being, make you happier, and clear your head. Ask me for advice on implementing a leaky gut diet and protocol.]]>
If you need help recovering from adrenal fatigue, write to me firstname.lastname@example.org]]>
We need cholesterol!
Cholesterol is a fat-like substance found in every cell in the human body. The liver makes 75 percent of cholesterol. Cholesterol helps produce cell membranes, vitamin D, and vital hormones, and is needed for neurological function. Put bluntly, we would die without it.
The cholesterol players
When we measure cholesterol levels, we are actually measuring the lipoproteins LDL and HDL. We refer to them as cholesterol, but they are actually small packages of fat and protein that help move cholesterol throughout the body.
High-density lipoprotein — HDL
This is considered “good” cholesterol. It helps keep cholesterol away from your arteries and removes excess arterial plaque.
Low-density lipoprotein — LDL
This is considered “bad” cholesterol. It can build up in the arteries, forming plaque that narrows the arteries and makes them less flexible (atherosclerosis).
Elevated levels of these dangerous fats have been linked to heart disease and diabetes. Levels rise from eating too many sugars and grains, smoking, being physically inactive, excessive drinking and being overweight.
Lipoprotein (a) or Lp(a)
Lp(a) is made up of an LDL part plus a protein (apoprotein a). Elevated Lp(a) levels are a very strong risk for heart disease.
When testing cholesterol, total cholesterol is not as important as:
In order for cholesterol to cause disease, it has to damage the arterial walls. There are small and large particles of LDL, HDL, and triglycerides. Large particles are practically harmless, while small, dense particles are the dangerous ones, lodging in the arterial walls, causing damage and inflammation. The resulting “scar” is called plaque. Repeated trauma causes a buildup of plaque and chronic inflammation while your risk of high blood pressure and heart attack increases.
The biggest culprits in high cholesterol? Sugar and bad fats!
Although we’ve been taught that a high-fat diet causes problems with cholesterol, the type of fat you eat is more important than the quantity. Trans fats, or hydrogenated and saturated fats, promote abnormal cholesterol, while omega-3 fats and monounsaturated fats actually improve the type of cholesterol in our bodies. Eat your good fats, your body needs them!
The surprise: the biggest source of abnormal cholesterol isn’t dietary fat, but sugar. Sugar (and refined carbs, including processed white foods), drives good cholesterol down and triglycerides up. It causes those small particles, encouraging dangerous plaque buildup, and can lead to heart disease and metabolic syndrome or “pre-diabetes.” Doctors are starting to admit that sugar, not dietary fat, is the bigger cause of most heart attacks.
So, the real concern isn’t really the amount of total cholesterol you have, but the type of fats, sugar, and refined carbohydrates in your diet that lead to abnormal cholesterol production.
Inflammation promotes heart disease
Systemic inflammation plays a key role in heart disease and, in fact, most all chronic illnesses. Systemic inflammation can arise from poor diet, a sedentary lifestyle, stress, allergies, and more. Research at Harvard has shown that people with high levels of systemic inflammation (measured by a test called C-reactive protein, or CRP) had higher risk for heart disease than those with high cholesterol, while normal cholesterol was not protective to those with high CRP.
Clearly, multiple factors come together to determine your risk for heart disease, including diet, lifestyle, and environment. If you are concerned about your heart health, contact me for a comprehensive evaluation to help reveal the factors that may increase your risk for heart disease.]]>
Well, not quite. Gluten can actually reside as a hidden component in many common food ingredients, which can make food shopping, restaurants, travel, and potlucks a risky business.
Navigating Food Labels
Manufacturers are not presently required to identify gluten as an ingredient on labels. Just because a product doesn’t list a gluten grain, doesn’t mean it’s gluten-free.
Your greatest tool in determining what is safe to eat is to read food labels, and become familiar with stealthy ingredients that may include gluten. Here is a (non-exhaustive) list of some common ingredients that can contain gluten:
Pre-packaged foods can add a challenge as well. Below are some common foods that may have gluten in them. Look for a certified GF label if you aren’t sure; otherwise, pass it up.
The Restaurant Dilemma
Restaurants can pose their own challenges. Here are some things to look out for:
If you are uncertain at a restaurant, talk to the chef directly. If you aren’t happy with the answer, don’t eat there. Ask friends, and ask local online GF groups about recommended eateries.
Gluten Free Shopping: When In Doubt, Go Without!
When you are new to eating GF, restaurants and grocery shopping can be daunting, but the more you do it, the better you’ll get at determining what goes in your belly. If you aren’t sure, don’t eat it. Ask questions, read ingredient labels; just because those noodles say, “Rice” on the front, that doesn’t mean they don’t have a gluten grain added in. “Wheat-free” doesn’t necessarily mean gluten-free. Lastly, always check product labels for warnings that state a food is produced in a factory that also makes gluten-based products; if it is, cross-contamination could be an issue.
Gluten cross-reactivity with non-gluten foods
Non-gluten grains can cross-react with gluten in some people. This means their body recognizes them as gluten and responds with a reaction. An elimination/provocation diet or food sensitivity test can let you know which grains are safe to eat. Dairy is another food that commonly cross-reacts with gluten, as is coffee. If your gluten-free diet is not helping you feel better you may need to consider cross-reactive foods.]]>
Exercise Fat cells have insulin receptors. Exercise burns calories and fat; fewer cells mean less need for insulin. And, when you exercise, your muscles need more energy to fire and insulin receptor sites become more receptive. Even a short walk can reduce blood sugar levels and insulin demands dramatically. Stress Up to 90 percent of doctor visits are related to chronic stress. Stress has big impact on insulin by decreasing insulin receptor sensitivity, elevating cortisol, and causing the liver to raise blood sugar (the body’s way of increasing energy to handle stressful situations). Raised blood sugar means more insulin. Toxins Toxins are found throughout our environment — in body products, food, air, and water. The body gets overworked trying to deal with them, causing inflammation and increasing insulin resistance. Inflammation shuts down receptor sites, requiring the body to make more insulin. A Multi-Faceted Approach is Key For proper diabetes management, we must provide adequate exercise, proper nutrition, and manageable stress levels. As a functional health provider, I understand that you have unique needs and would be happy to help you develop a customized action plan to manage your blood sugar and insulin levels.]]>