Beat PMS Symptoms Naturally

I’ve received several requests now for a post on PMS and how to naturally deal with unwelcomed period bullshit.  You know, the bloating, the unhealthy cravings, the cramps, the mood swings… It can be a total downer, although I’ve learned to view my period as a cleansing process for the body to make the whole situation a more pleasant experience.  A positive attitude is everything in life, but sometimes you also need a little help to minimize symptoms.  Here are some of my top recommendations for reducing PMS discomfort:

Diet

When I was younger, a friend and I used to have a “fuck you, period!” ritual every month where we’d pig out on burgers, chili cheese fries and milkshakes at a local diner.  Why is it that when we get our periods we often crave the foods that feel good in the moment, but actually make our symptoms worse?

It wasn’t until I replaced the crap for nutritious, wholesome, REAL food that I really noticed a big reduction in my PMS symptoms.  Eating nutritious foods rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants is what the body thrives on, especially during that time of the month.  Fill up on alkalizing foods like leafy green vegetables and fruit, healthy fats high in omega-3s like salmon, nuts or chia seeds, and unprocessed whole grains, like quinoa or rice.  Eating foods rich in potassium, calcium, and magnesium will help reduce cramps, so eat bananas, dark chocolate (the darker the better), and spinach.  If you’re craving meat, eat some red meat (preferably grass-fed organic).  It’ll help restore depleted iron levels. Feeling bloated?  Drink plenty of water, but also eat foods that are natural diuretics (aka, foods that make you pee more).   Parsley, pineapple, lemon, celery, ginger, cabbage, and apple cider vinegar are all examples. I like to start the morning off with my Daily Green Smoothie which is packed full of nutrients and will typically drink warm lemon water with ginger throughout the day.

Light Exercise

While some people feel like being sedentary during their periods, I’ve found that light exercise can be quite beneficial.  Exercise helps reduce stress and when I’m feeling depressed and irritable, exercise makes me feel relaxed.  Try exercises like walking, running, swimming, biking, or some gentle yoga poses like these ones here:

Essential Oils

Aromatherapy  has been used for many thousands of years as a way to lower stress levels, relieve pain, improve mood, and suppress cravings and nausea. Essential oils have even been demonstrated in lab studies to kill flu, E. coli, and cancer cells (source: Women’s Health Magazine, Cancer Tutor).  Different oils initiate different responses in the brain, which in turn, directs your nervous system to say, “relax” or “spring into action.” During or before menstruation, I recommend clary sage, lavender, chamomile, ylang-ylang, grapefruit, jasmine, or cedarwood to ease symptoms and lift your mood.  I personally like to mix a couple drops of oil with some coconut oil and rub it on my stomach if I’m experiencing discomfort.

Cannabis

Finally, more people are publicly acknowledging the wide-ranging medicinal benefits of the cannabis plant.  For period-related struggles, cannabis can be amazing, and a great alternative to pharmaceutical pain medications that may be harsher on the body. Cannabis rich in the compound CBD is gaining popularity due to its ability to greatly (and in most cases relatively instantly) reduce pain and inflammation while lifting your mood.   In fact, Queen Victoria, as well as many other recognizable, historical women, used CBD-rich cannabis in the 19th century to reduce her menstrual cramps (source: Project CBD).  CBD differs from THC-rich cannabis in that CBD-rich cannabis has little to no psychoactive effects or the “high” most people associate with cannabis.  It’s for this reason that strains high in CBD make it a premier choice for many users.

Remember to Breathe

This tip is for everyone, but especially for those women who get anxious, crampy, depressed, or tired during their periods.  So much can be controlled not only by the brain but by the breath.  Start by taking deep, even breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth.  If you can, incorporate some of the yoga poses from above.  Focus on your breath and remind yourself that everything will be ok!

 

Have comments, questions or suggestions?  Have additional methods for relieving cramps or PMS symptoms? Leave a message below, or reach me through my website.

Thanks for reading!

How To Naturally Treat ADHD

Not unlike most children, when I was younger, paying attention in class and sitting still was difficult for me. When I was 15, I diagnosed myself with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and had a much easier time getting my prescription for Adderall (a medication commonly used to treat ADHD) from my doctor then I think I probably should have. “You want Adderall? No problem, I’ll prescribe you Adderall,” I clearly remember my pediatrician saying. Although my mom ended up taking me to a different doctor who diagnosed me with ADHD before prescribing the medication, for the next four years after that, I took Adderall daily, believing that I wouldn’t be as productive or successful without it. While I did have insanely sharp focus, I hated the side effects. The medication made it so that I didn’t want to eat, I couldn’t comfortably socialize, and I couldn’t sleep. But my grades in school improved dramatically enough that I convinced myself Adderall made me smarter and better at school.

By the age of 20, I decided I was done with the drug and the uncomfortable, anxious way it made me feel. When I went off it, my goal wasn’t necessarily to go cold turkey, but I wanted to test myself and see how I did in school without the drug while implementing some natural methods for concentrating. It took a little time, and I know this wouldn’t be the case for all people with an attention disorder, but I’ve found that I can absolutely be productive without medication. I believe that the following natural remedies can truly help with concentration and that either on their own or in conjunction with medication, can greatly benefit those struggling with ADHD.

Understanding the Power of the Gut

Our intestines contain a population of microbes known as gut microbiota. Microbiota contains tens of trillions of microorganisms, with at least 1000 different species of bacteria with more than 3 million genes (source: Gut Microbiota). A baby born vaginally gets her first dose of these microorganisms as soon as she exits her mother’s vagina. Children born through C-sections miss some of the bacteria that children born vaginally get.  Instead, a C-section baby gets her first bacteria from her mother’s skin and the skin of the doctors and nurses in the delivery room (source: heathline).  In either situation, from that moment on, everything affects the babies microbiota; the food she eats, the water she drinks, her environment, and the air she breathes. Although the baby can adapt to change, a loss of balance in the gut microbiota may result in dysbiosis (the opposite of symbiosis). Dysbiosis may be linked to a number of health problems such as functional bowel disorders, inflammatory bowel disease, allergies, obesity, and diabetes, to name some. According to author and doctor, Natasha Campbell-McBride, 84 percent of your immunity is located in your gut wall. And if you don’t have healthy gut flora, your immune system simply can’t function optimally (Source: GAPS Diet).

 

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Happy gut microbes

 

Gut dysbiosis is also commonly found in children with ADD/ADHD and other mental health illnesses and disorders like depression, or bipolar disorder.  (source: Epidemic Answers). In my own experience, I have found that by treating the gut, I could get by without medication. Another thing I found while researching is that children with ADHD typically have low levels of dopamine, which is an important neurotransmitter that promotes feelings of calm and well-being. This is why kids with ADHD, while not typically being able to sit still for too long, have been found to sit very calmly for hours on end while playing video games, since playing video games releases dopamine. With all of this knowledge, I now have recommendations for ways to balance dopamine levels and improve gut health to naturally achieve laser sharp focus.

Diet

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Eating a well-balanced diet with plenty of whole grains, vegetables, fruits, lean protein, healthy fats, and purified water will play a huge role in curbing ADHD symptoms. Eat organic whenever possible, take probiotics regularly, and check in with yourself to see how your body feels after you eat certain foods. There are a number of foods that can typically cause food allergies or sensitivities in people, such as: gluten, sugar, processed and fried foods, food colorings, dairy, alcohol, red meat, caffeine, soy, corn, and nightshade vegetables. An allergy or sensitivity to a particular food may cause symptoms of ADHD. Experiment by eliminating foods from these food groups then add them back into your diet one by one.  During this process, I recommend taking notes of your concentration, energy, digestion, and sleep before and after eating and you may just find some foods work better for your body and concentration levels than others.

Lifestyle

Quality sleep and healthy lifestyle choices will also impact your ability to focus during the day. Most people need at least eight solid hours of sleep, which means you should begin winding down and turning off the computer, television, or any devices with a blue light at least an hour before bed. Try to steer clear of caffeine, sugar, and alcohol, as these will impact sleep quality too.

 

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Yoga on a stand up paddle board requires a quiet, focused mind…

 

For both children and adults with ADHD, exercise is like medicine. It helps to get rid of excess energy, and in my own experience, I’ve found that exercise is the only time where I can pretty much turn off my mind. Exercise stimulates cognitive thinking and increases levels of dopamine, thus improving levels of concentration for hours after completion. Switching up forms of exercise, and learning new ones, have actually been found to improve organization skills, and when you combine mind-body exercises with a deep mental focus, you may even get more positive results (source: health.com). I have to switch up my exercises just to stay interested, so I like to rotate between pilates, yoga, barre, running, dance, and weight training.

Massage

Like exercise, massage also increases levels of dopamine, which is the hormone lacking in people with ADHD. The benefits of regular massage for people with ADHD have been found to result in more restful sleep, improved mood, improved social function, improved focus, and anger control. If you can’t go out and get a massage regularly, then try giving yourself a massage. You can even incorporate essential oils like lavender, frankincense, or mandarin into your massages for greater results since aromatherapy can also be a powerful tool for aiding in focus and calmness.

Work Breaks

When focusing for long periods of time is a challenge, try breaking up your workload. I’ll set a timer for myself for 20-minute periods where I power through work, followed by a brief break. During this break, I’ll do anything from stretching to browsing Pinterest, but after about five minutes I have to get back into work mode. I find these frequent and shorter work periods actually make me more productive in the long run.

 

Are you or is someone you know struggling with symptoms of ADHD?  Then let’s talk!  I am a Certified Integrative Nutritionist with a background in holistic health who would love to help you.

 

 

 

Know Your Blood Type: A Guide To A Personalized Diet and Lifestyle

Heart-Health

Can you imagine going into a job interview and one of the first questions you’re asked is “what is your blood type?” This question is expected in Japan and is actually gaining popularity around Asia. The Japanese believe that each blood type comes with it’s own set of personalities, so they use blood types to categorize people.

“As defined by the books, type As are sensitive perfectionists but overanxious; Type Bs are cheerful but eccentric and selfish; Os are curious, generous but stubborn; and ABs are arty but mysterious and unpredictable” (Huffington Post).

While blood typing is similar to horoscope signs in Japan, in the health world it is believed by some that blood types affect the digestive system, the way you exercise, and your susceptibility to various disease. If you don’t know your blood type, then you can get your blood work done easily.

Blood Type A– Agrarian 

Type As are generally categorized as cooperative, sensitive, orderly, settled, and cultivator. When the number of hunting game stock began dwindling in Africa, type As had to move out into Europe and Asia to begin agriculture, which is when type A evolved. As a result, type As learned to utilize nutrients from carbohydrate sources, which explains why As are better at processing carbohydrates and not as a great at digesting and metabolizing animal proteins and fat. If you’re a type A, aim to eat most of your protein earlier on in the day. Overall, type As do better on a vegetarian or vegan diet. Increase vegetables, tofu, seafood, grains, beans, legumes, fruit and decrease your intake of meat, dairy, kidney beans, lima beans, and wheat.

Calming exercises like yoga, meditation, breathing exercises and tai chi are most recommended for blood type A, since type A is more likely to internalize stress and have higher levels of the stress hormone Cortisol, which can lead to health factors like cancer, heart disease, or diabetes. Blood type As should do their best to avoid big crowds, loud noise, smoking, negative emotions, strong smells or perfumes, too much sugar and starch, overwork, violent movies or TV, extreme weather conditions, or lack of sleep.

While strengths of type A include easy adjustment to change in diet and environment, little need for animal foods and an immune system the absorbs and metabolizes nutrients more efficiently, weaknesses may include a sensitive digestive tract and a vulnerable immune system open to microbial invasion. The result of combining the appropriate foods and exercises, though, can result in high performance, mental clarity, greater vitality and increased longevity.

Blood Type B– Balanced

The origins of blood type B can be traced back to the Himalayan highlands, currently part of present day India and Pakistan. As the Mongolians swept through Asia, they began pursuing a culture dependent upon herding and domesticating animals. For this reason, type B does best as an omnivore, eating meat (except chicken), dairy, grains, legumes, vegetables, beans, and fruit. Type Bs should reduce their intake of corn, lentils, sesame seeds, peanuts, buckwheat, and wheat. These foods can contribute to weight gain, fatigue, fluid retention, and hypoglycemia. Type Bs should actually avoid chicken too. Chicken contains a blood type B agglutinating lectin in its muscle tissue that can attack your blood stream and cause a stroke or immune disorder.

People with blood type B are characterized as nomads, flexible and creative. Strengths of blood type B include a strong immune system, versatile adaptation to changes in diet and environment, a strong nervous system, and high tolerance for chaos. The only common weakness of type B is a tendency toward auto-immune breakdowns and rare viruses, although common health risks include type 1 diabetes, chronic fatigue syndrome, and auto-immune disorders like Lou Gehrig’s disease, Lupus, or Multiple Sclerosis. Although pretty opposite from type A in regards to diet, type A and B both have higher levels of the stress hormone Cortisol. Type Bs should get participate in moderate physical exercise with mental balance, like hiking, biking, tennis, or swimming.

Blood Type AB – Modern

Blood type AB is the most recently evolved blood type. Type AB is the only blood type that came to be as a result of intermingling (between type A and B) rather than evolution and environment. As a result, AB types share the benefits and challenges of blood type A and blood type B.  Blood type AB is described as rare, an enigma, mysterious and highly sensitive, and people with blood type AB often describe themselves as intuitive, emotional, empathetic, friendly, and trusting. This blood type is more designed for modern life. It’s the most adaptable, can process information quickly, and has a rugged immune system. Weaknesses may include a sensitive digestive tract, a tendency for an overly tolerant immune system that allows for microbial invasion, and trouble feeling understood by society. Type AB is most susceptible to heart disease, cancer, and anemia.

Type AB can have a mixed diet in moderation. Meat, seafood, dairy, vegetables, tofu, legumes, grains, beans and fruit are all okay, but limit the amount of red meat, kidney beans, lima beans, seeds, corn, and buckwheat. Avoid caffeine and alcohol and avoid eating starches and proteins during the same meal. Because type ABs tend to internalize emotions, anger and hostility, exercise will play a big role in stress reduction and maintaining a healthy emotional balance. Combine calming, centering exercises, like yoga or tai chi, with moderate physical exercise, like hiking, biking, tennis, or swimming.

Blood Type OOld

Strong, hunter, leader, self-reliant and goal-oriented are all words to describe people with O blood. Type Os thrive on intense physical exercise and animal protein. Exercise releases the build up of stress hormones which will also balance mood. Type Os can have bouts of excessive anger, tantrums, hyperactivity and manic episodes in response to stress. To manage this stress, it is recommended that you follow a diet of lean, organic meats, vegetables and fruits and avoid dairy and wheat which can cause digestive and health issues. Increase kelp, seafood, salt, liver, red meat, kale, broccoli and pineapple and reduce wheat, corn, baked foods, kidney beans, lentils, brussels sprouts, cauliflower and mustard. Also avoid caffeine and alcohol, especially caffeine because it raises adrenaline and noradrenaline which is already high for blood type Os.

Overall, type Os have a hardy digestive tract, a strong immune system, natural defenses against infections, an efficient metabolism, shorter small intestines, and less chance for cancer. Health risks for type Os are typically low thyroid, inflammation, arthritis, blood-clotting disorders and ulcers, because type Os get overly acidic.

Curious to learn more about the characteristics of your blood type? Visit Peter J. D’Adamo’s site and learn all about your blood type diet and lifestyle.

sources:

http://www.outofstress.com/

http://www.dadamo.com/

Go For A Hike

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I love to hike.  I have a lot of fond memories of hiking with my parents and friends and I’m lucky that the Bay Area offers great trails all over.  Today my boyfriend, Ed, our friend,Jack, and obviously Bandit ventured down south about 40 minutes to Half Moon Bay.  When you arrive you drive through this tunnel and come out with this gorgeous view:

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We embark on our hike with fresh Italian sandwiches from Columbo’s Deli in Pacifica (so good).  The first thing we did was walk up a path to get a view of the beach down below and a spot to eat.  Well, not only did we get a view of the surfers and ocean, but a whale swimming around!  At one point it popped its head out of the water and bobbed for a few seconds.  So cool 🙂

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The other big news from our hike was that we took the wrong path, perhaps because it was so foggy, and got totally stuck on one part of the mountain pretty far from where we wanted to be.  The path we took completely narrowed out once we began descending down the mountain and poison oak seemed to be popping up more on the trail.  We were up for an adventure though and continued until we eventually came to a dead end that stared up at a steep, 10-12ft sandy cliff.  I was so proud of how easily Bandit was able to run up the side of the cliff, while the rest of us struggled a little more with climbing.  What was at the top of this cliff? A “No Public Access” sign.  Great.

Meanwhile, I snapped some beautiful photos!

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We did eventually make it down the mountain.  Because we had to enter into some areas where we definitely were not supposed to be, some parts of the story shall remain a mystery, but I’ll tell you that we definitely didn’t turn back around.  The hike turned out to be a crazy adventure and if you’re ever in Half Moon Bay I highly recommend McNee Ranch  State Park, but stick to the labeled trails!