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Thursday, May 6, 2010

PCOS and Fertility

Four little letters that can have a very big impact on a woman's life.

PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) is a condition (dis-ease) that causes multiple small (0r large) cysts on the ovaries, which can affect a woman's ability to get pregnant. It affects a woman's hormone cycle that regulates the normal development of eggs in the ovaries. Within the ovaries are sacs (follicles) that contain our eggs. In women who have PCOS, there are many follicles that are under developed, the eggs within do not mature and are therefore not released (ovulation). Instead, they form cysts. Immature follicles and the inability to ovulate is likely caused by low levels of FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) and higher than normal levels of testosterone (male hormones and androgens) in the ovary.

Many women suffer for years without diagnosis affected by a wide range of symptoms including irregular, abnormal, light or missing periods, decreased breast size, pelvic pain, anxiety or depression, increased body hair or facial hair, enlarged clitoris, insulin resistance leading to a build up of insulin in the blood that may cause weight gain or obesity, which can also lead to a greater risk of heart disease and diabetes.

...and lets not forget infertility. Sounds like a goddess horror story, starring an infertile starlet ready to scold her immature follicles.

All kidding aside, PCOS sucks....and the cause of PCOS is unknown. But we do know that it is a hormonal imbalance and several factors can play a role, including our favorites...diet and exercise. Now, if we put on our thinking caps we will deduce that if diet and exercise can play a role in PCOS, it's a good place to start to cure the dis-ease of PCOS.

Since PCOS is linked to insulin resistance, it's important for women with PCOS to ditch the processed white devils (refined sugar and white flours, cereals, breads and pastas) and replace them with whole grains, brown rice and beans. Refined sugars should be eliminated and replaced with natural sugars such as honey, maple syrup, brown rice syrup or agave. Fresh fruits and vegetables will also aid insulin response. For additional specific diet recommendations, look into the Anti-Inflammitory Diet or a Low-Glycemic Diet.

Exercise will also benefit women with PCOS (and of course, ALL WOMEN) because it improves insulin resistance, balances hormones, helps to maintain a healthy weight and well, it makes us happy! A study conducted by University of Adelaide in Australia found women with PCOS who maintained a healthy diet and exercised experienced a 71% improvement in insulin sensitivity and a 39% reduction in luteinizing hormone levels (LH). This has huge credibility factor as a spike in LH levels is what triggers ovulation but women with PCOS have sustained elevated LH levels.

There are additional ways to improve your hormone function through the supplementation of natural superfoods such as maca. Bring your hormones back into balance by starting your day with a PCOS fertility smoothie, follow it with exercise and nurture your body with whole vegetables, fruits and grains.

PCOS Fertility Smoothie
1/2 c. Fresh Pineapple
1/2 c. Fresh Papaya
2 tbsp. Hemp Seeds
1 teasp. Maca
1 Scoop Vanilla Whey Protein
Blend with water or coconut water.

As a holistic health coach, I specialize in women's health working with preconception, prenatal and postnatal women. It is my passion to empower women to nurture their strength, balance and inner peace to allow them to grow into their natural birthright of vibrant health. If you want to take charge of your fertility or if you're living with PCOS and would like a free consultation with me for more information, please email Terra at 3healthychicks@gmail.com.

Keep it Fresh!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Auto-immune diseases are prevalent these days. It seems like anytime they come up in conversation, someone is battling Rheumatoid Arthritis or knows someone with Lupus or Fibromyalgia. Auto-immune diseases, for those who don’t know, are diseases in which the body’s immune system attacks itself. Instead of just fighting off bad cells, it over reacts and attacks good cells and tissues that are normally present in the body causing inflammation.

Here is a short sample of some of the most common AI diseases. The part of the body that the system attacks is usually defined by the specific disease, of which there are too many to name here.

Hashimoto's Thyroiditis
- an AI disorder in which the body attacks the thyroid gland, generally causing it to be under active.

Grave’s disease - an AI disorder in which the body attacks the thyroid gland causing it to be enlarged and overactive.

Fibromyalgia - the immune system attacks muscle and connective tissues in the body.

Celiac disease - the small intestines are attacked due to a reaction to consuming wheat gluten.

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) - the immune system attacks the nerves in the brain and spinal chord.

Type 1 Diabetes - insulin producing cells in the pancreas are attacked

Chrons Disease - the entire gastrointestinal tract can be affected

Rheumatoid Arthritis - the immune system attacks the joints, causing inflammation and pain.

SLE, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus - a chronic disorder where the body can attack almost anything from skin and hair cells, joints, to the liver, brain and kidneys.

So why are there so many of these types of diseases and why are they so prevalent? The answer is unknown really. Many will say it is genetics, but I tend to think it is much more environmental with genetic predispositions. Either way, there is a reason this healthy chick finds this to be an important topic. I myself have lived with an auto immune disease for the last 6 years. The first year was very difficult for me and I struggled a lot. But I knew that I was not going to be happy living the rest of my life this way and that I didn't want to take medication everyday for the rest of my life. What further complications would that entail? I knew it was time to find some other answers, and I did. I made a lot of changes in my diet and I immediately got better. Eventually I was able to wean off the medication i was on, and after four years I haven’t looked back.

It can be difficult to make so many changes in your diet and stick with them for life, but when you do, you can see that the healing power of food is quite amazing. It isn’t just about what you put into your body, but also what you don’t. However, every disease and person harboring it are different, so the answers for each of us will be different. I found what worked for me, and you can too. If you are a person living with and battling an auto immune disease, you will have to find what works for you, but there are a few things you can do to start the healing process. The root of all disease is inflammation, and by avoiding things that cause or contribute to inflammation, you can reduce symptoms almost immediately.

Start with these five tips:

1. Avoid refined sugars - Sugar increases fluid retention in the body and suppresses the immune system. The digestion of refined sugars creates deficiencies of other nutrients in the body that we need for optimal health.
2. Avoid processed foods - Like refined sugars, other refined and processed foods are foreign to our bodies and wreak havoc on our digestive systems, throwing the entire body out of balance. Consuming them causes deficiencies and inflammation and feeds cravings.
3. Limit salt - Salt intake causes water retention leading to inflammation.
4. Limit caffeine intake - Caffeine in excess can inhibit nutrient absorption, suppress immunity and cause sugar cravings. One cup a day is a good rule of thumb.
5. Eat organic meats, cheeses and eggs - Pesticides and antibiotics found in factory farmed meats create extra work for the immune system to process. These chemicals accumulate in our tissues, creating inflammation and making us more susceptible to disease and illness.

Our bodies need lots of nutrients in order to heal and get well. Avoiding the above culprits and consuming high density, fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains will help get the body back on track.

As a holistic health counselor I specialize in working with those suffering from auto-immune disorders to help them improve their quality of life. If you or someone you know is living with an AI disease and would like a free consultation with me for more information, please email me at 3healthychicks@gmail.com.

Keep it fresh!
- Jill

Monday, May 3, 2010

Sivananda Ashram

Serve. Love. Give. Purify. Meditate. Realize.
I've finally been able to upload my pictures from my beautiful trip to the Sivananda ashram in Paradise Island, Bahamas. It was one of the best trips I've ever been on and I look forward to visiting there time and time again. Please check out my pictures here to see more of the ashram (make sure to press slideshow, then click on show details to read my comments).

About a decade ago, I was blessed to have a yoga teacher at FIT who was Sivananda certified and she introduced me to this lovely philosophy. Living in the city then, I was literally a few blocks away from the Sivananda center on 24th st. so I was fortunate enough to frequent there often for yoga classes and vegetarian meals. It's the one philosophy of yoga I feel most connected with. My Sivananda book that I purchased back in my NYC days has been my bible still to this day.

Sivananda yoga focuses on the 5 points of yoga:
1. Proper exercise (asanas)
2. Proper breathing (pranayama)
3. Proper relaxation (savasana)
4. Proper diet (vegetarian)
5. Positive thinking (vedanta) & meditation (dhyana)

I booked my trip to the Sivananda ashram for 10 days of relaxation, reflection and studying and I was able to do all of that. I filled a whole journal of thoughts and read 3 books! It was exactly what I needed. I practiced yoga 4 hours each day (2 hour class in the morning, 2 hour class in evening) on docks looking out to the water. There was beauty everywhere. I feel stronger than ever and completely blissed out from the whole experience. It reminded me of my love for yoga but I totally did NOT want to come home!

The food was definitely one of the highlights of staying there. Awesome sattvic (pure, clean and wholesome) vegetarian food was served two times a day and I always ate looking out at the water.

Towards the end, Mother Mayatitananda came to give a 3 day course on Living Ahimsa. She initiated us with a vow of ahimsa, a sanskrit word which translates to nonviolence through your thoughts, speech and actions towards all living beings. As a yogi, I have practiced ahimsa for years, but I am human so my thoughts and speech still need a lot of work! I'm excited for this vow and am confident that I can stick to it as best as I can. Being in Mother's presence is always a blessing. Meditating with her was so powerful and the fact that I was able to catch this course in Paradise Islands was so amazing!

Please check out my pictures when you have a chance. I would love to share the beauty I experienced with you!

Om Namah Shivaya-

Keep it fresh!
- Lauren