When Female Hormones Go Wacko!

Infographic by Sanford Harvey
Infographic by Sanford Harvey

GreenSmoothieGirl reader, Sanford Harvey, developed this really simple and helpful infographic on female hormones and shared it with us.

Have you always wondered why you are already experiencing signs and symptoms similar to menopause regardless of age? Have you felt like you could go head-to-head in a mood swing competition with your menopausal mother? Although female hormone imbalance is most common in aging women, it can be experienced by women regardless of age.

Female hormone imbalance is not exclusive to aging and menopausal women. Even women in their younger years can experience an overproduction or underproduction of one or more hormones. A whopping 80 percent of women worldwide suffer from different kinds of female hormone imbalance. Moreover, an estimate of 2.2 billion women over age 50 are presumed to suffer from female hormone imbalance by the year 2025.

Fortunately, female hormone imbalance does not have to be a ‘normal’ part of every woman’s life. Knowing and avoiding the triggers of female hormone imbalance can spare a woman from experiencing undesirable signs and symptoms such as forgetfulness, fatigue, sleeping difficulties, stubborn acne, mood swings, and more.

And if ever you might already be suffering from female hormone imbalance, there is still hope. There are simple and practical ways to correct hormone imbalance including leading a healthy and active lifestyle, eating a healthy and organic diet rich in omega-3 and healthy fat, and using hormone replacement therapy.

In all my research, I have found that “bioidentical hormone replacement” is the safest and best way to treat female hormone imbalance. I even prefer it over the other options which are unnatural and dangerous to your body. Bioidentical hormone replacement produces hormones with the same molecular make-up that your body naturally produces. This therapy takes hormones from animals versus making them synthetically as the drug industry does. Synthetic therapies are molecularly different and thus carry several associated risks.

Along with natural hormone replacement therapy is eating a more organic, raw plant food diet. In my opinion, this is as much part of the answer as hormone replacement therapy.

My friend, Kristie Rosser, who doubles as my own bioidentical hormone practitioner, says that stress can play a part in female hormone imbalance. She suggests that practicing meditation, gratitude, and working on your attitude daily has a positive effect on your body and can ease the negative symptoms of hormone imbalance.

When I am on speaking tours, women often talk to me about their hormone issues. I will give you the same advice I give them: Ask for a referral from someone you trust, or google “bioidentical hormone” along with the name of your city. Once you find a specialist you trust, you will need to get your blood tested. This isn’t just a T3 test you need that many OB/GYN’s order. There are upstream, downstream, and precursor hormones, each having a complex interplay that is best evaluated by an experienced bioidentical specialist. These practitioners have an advanced degree in nursing or medicine.

Contrary to what you may have been told, treating female hormone imbalance usually involves more than taking a thyroid pill. The successful approach may involve careful, timed delivery of natural precursor substances like pregnenalone or DHEA that support your body’s own ability to produce hormones. I prefer that versus taking pills!

Along with bioidentical treatment, I use our GSG Ultimate Minerals to support my thyroid function. As a result, I have been able to restore much of my thyroid production in recent years with my diet and strong mineral support. (Even with my quart-a-day green smoothie habit, I was low in minerals!) All of our Superfoods mixes increase raw, organic, whole plant foods in the diet, as well. I add a scoop of our raw, vegan, whole-foods protein to my green smoothie every day for thyroid support, appetite/weight management, and overall wellness.

What’s more is we just put our protein in single-serve pouches. On my recent trip to Texas, I used these GSG single protein servings 3x a day and returned home a pound lighter! (Usually I struggle to NOT GAIN weight on a trip.)

My question to you is what will you do to prevent and relieve the aggravating symptoms of female hormone balance? You can choose to not be a part of the 80 percent of women suffering from female hormone imbalance by simply exercising, eating right, drinking your green smoothie, and considering bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. Everything you need to know about female hormone imbalance is in this infographic. Thanks to Sanford!

Thyroid—you might have a problem and not know it

All estimates I’ve read are that 25 to 50 percent or more of American women have significant thyroid issues. Possibly over half of women over 40. Most of these women are undiagnosed. If you have low thyroid, which is the most common thyroid problem, symptoms may be low energy, slow metabolism / weight gain, dry skin, bags under your eyes, fatigue, hair loss, depression, poor circulation, low immune function, and insomnia.

My best friend since childhood, on the other hand, has the “auto-immune” condition of hyperthyroidism, which is just as miserable. Her thyroid is always revved and overproducing. She goes the drug route. The symptoms are a racing heartbeat, weight loss, increase or decrease in appetite, insomnia, fatigue, diarrhea, mental disturbance, infertility, thinning hair, itching and hives, heat intolerance, and tremors / shakiness.

All the endocrine disruptors in the environment and food supply affect thyroid function. Don’t eat soy! Don’t expose yourself to pesticides, or plastics, or heavy metals. Avoid drugs, alcohol, and unchecked stress.

Doctors will likely put you on synthetic hormone. Remember that the drug thyroid is not bioidentical to the thyroid produced in your body. It’s been molecularly altered, each drug different from each other, to earn a patent.

If you find a clinic that specializes in bioidentical hormone, the cost is far less, and your body can assimilate and utilize the hormone effectively, like the hormone your own thyroid produces.

I spent four years on a synthetic thyroid drug, many years ago, before I knew any better. It helped me drop the 40 lbs. I’d gained in a year since I became hypothyroid. But it increased my risk for cancer. I happily transitioned to bioidentical and have been on it ever since. Recently I went completely off thyroid to test whether perhaps my good diet compensated, and maybe I could produce hormone effectively by myself.

The good news is, my baseline was much better than it was 10 years ago when I first was tested. The bad news is, I got ugly bags under my eyes. I made some videos last summer in Denver when I was completely off thyroid, and I can’t even look at them. Ugly. My body makes about 60% of the thyroid I need. I take a few drops of nascent iodine each day, now, and my bioidentical thyroid keeps me happy and balanced.

You can read whole books on the thyroid phenomenon by Mary Shomon, a bestselling author. Too many women are hypothyroid and going without treatment. Remember to google “bioidentical hormone” rather than starting with the standard M.D.’s practice of automatic drug-oriented HRT (hormone replacement therapy).

And remember, having an M.D. check you for T3 will not give you the whole answer. When I gained 40 lbs. because I was very hypothyroid in my mid-30’s, I was tested for that and the doc told me it was “normal.” I knew I was NOT feeling normal, but what was I to do?

You must get the full blood panel and have a highly specialized bioidentical practitioner look at the interplay of T3, T4, progesterone, estrogen, testosterone, and a variety of co-factors. When I did that, my life changed dramatically because they could treat my whole body, rather than just drug one element, throwing other critical elements into imbalance.

If you’re feeling healthy but want to make sure you’re getting enough iodine, using refined salt with chemical, synthetic iodine enrichment, is harmful. If you want ways to get more natural, bioavailable iodine in your diet, to enhance your body’s ability to make and utilize thyroid hormone?

Talk to your holistic practitioner about whether you should take nascent iodine (available online, google it) or Lugol’s solution (prescription). My practitioner had me paint a 1”x1” patch of my inner forearm with drugstore iodine, and if it disappeared in an hour, she said that was a sign my body needs iodine. (However, I believe others dispute this test as valid.)

Food-based sources are kelp (which you can take in tablets, or it’s a wonderful salt replacement seasoning), or dulse, or nori sheets (seaweed). Those are high-iodine sea vegetables. If you take too much, you would notice being jittery, anxious, shaky, so if so, you could back off those foods. But generally, you’d have to eat an awful lot of sea vegetables to create an imbalance.

Panic! Are cruciferous vegs killing my thyroid? I’m taking a stand on this issue.

A reader, Shawna, wrote us an email with tons of capitalized sentences and exclamation points, saying, “Hey! I’ve been doing green smoothies for a few years now! And I’m hypothyroid! Help–am I killing my thyroid?”

My customer support wrote me that people constantly write us “freaking out” about a widely circulated article on the internet saying that cruciferous vegetables essentially damage your thyroid gland. Crucifers include broccoli, kale, cabbage, and cauliflower.

People are susceptible to fear and paranoia–which are antithetical to empowerment and faith. I’ve written about this in Ch. 1 of 12 Steps to Whole Foods, but I need to take a stronger stand, since it’s Top Five (questions I am asked, via email and everytime I speak in public).

As with food-combining theories (D’Adamo, etc.), or the idea that too many of one green food is “toxic” (Boutenko), or the idea that oxalates in greens harm us (another dubious internet-circulated claim)…..my reaction is like that line from Jerry Maguire, “Show me the money!”

My variation on that quote is, “Show me the data!”

Evidence that cruciferous vegetables are phenomenally powerful anti-cancer foods is voluminous. They also reduce bad estrogens; this is desperately needed by Americans, as we’re daily bombarded with endocrine disruptors (“bad estrogens”). David Wolfe, in fact, says his favorite supplement of 2011 is Indole-3-Carbinol (I3C), which is an extract of the crucifers. I’ve been taking it myself.

The evidence that one compound in crucifers may have deleterious effects? It’s limited and sketchy at best.

If we can isolate one compound (of dozens, maybe 100 or more) in green foods, and say that Compound X has Effect Y on Gland Z, how do we know that Compounds A, B, and C don’t have mitigating effects on Effect Y? How do we know that the profoundly healing properties of Compounds D, E, and F in that same food don’t work together synergistically with Compound X? The mountain of evidence that vegetables prevent disease suggests that foods are far more than the sum of their parts. Science still has little understanding of why plant foods are powerful, although in general, scientific communities like to break things down into parts and explain phenomena inductively. Let’s back up and use some deductive reasoning.

The “articles” on the internet (read: people saying stuff–let’s not give them undue credit by calling them articles) claim that LARGE AMOUNTS can damage the thyroid and increase the need for iodine. The entire American diet does both of those things–first, damage the thyroid, and second, increase the need for iodine (for instance, we eat salt stripped of iodine in virtually all our foods– or that refined salt has chemical isolates of a toxic form of iodine put back in). So I’m highly skeptical of how any researcher isolated the “goitrogen” factor. Somebody please show me where that’s been done.

Pick on the REAL bad guys here. Are we really going to flog cabbage and broccoli, when 95% of Americans are eating nuggets boiled in grease made of dozens of disease-infested chicken “parts” that if you looked at them each separately, you would wrinkle your nose and throw it in the garbage? And the same 95% are drinking tubs full of brown chemical liquids infused with carbon dioxide that contain absolutely no food?

About Shawna’s question. Me, too–I’ve been hypothyroid AND I drink green smoothies daily. But in my case, it’s been 17 years, not 3. My thyroid was all but destroyed because of nuclear fallout at the Nevada test site in the late 60’s when I was a baby, drinking highly radioactive milk from cows who ate the radioactive fallout on the grass even hundreds of miles away.

Read the rest of my answer on the topic of goitrogens and thyroid (too long for the blog). Or just come back every day, and I’ll post the rest in installments…..the next two days I have cool 3-min. videos for you!

 

Raw food weight loss

Raw food promotes weight loss in people who need to lose, and weight gain in people who are severely underweight from malnourishment.   Remember that unless you’re being excessive with nuts and seeds, raw food inherently is lower in fat and starch, which are what lead to weight gain.

To lose weight, following are a few ideas.   Put celery in your green smoothie.   It takes more calories to eat a stalk than you actually GET from it, so it’s bulk, to clean you out, bulk to fill you up, and great nutrition that actually nourishes the thyroid, which regulates metabolism.

Use cayenne, garlic, ginger, and cinnamon, too, to stimulate metabolism as you eat delicious raw food toward weight loss.   And don’t forget lemon juice in your water–it’s a great natural diuretic.

I got this great message on facebook recently from a Canadian reader named Karen.   She said she found GSG.com when googling 12 Steps for a friend in Alcoholic’s Anonymous!   As random as that seems, she called finding GSG “fate.”   She’s made some very significant dietary changes based on what she’s learned thus far, and has lost over 20 pounds.   She wondered if drinking a pint of green smoothie a day is enough.

Answer:   It’s enough for a wonderful first step!   Your body, mind, and spirit will tell you when it’s not enough any more, so listen to those cues and don’t stop your progress now.   My guess is you’ll want more sooner, rather than later.   Boutenko’s Roseburg study asked participants if they wanted to continue with their quart of green smoothie daily, and the vast majority said they wanted MORE, if anything.   I often drink THREE pints a day, though a quart is my average.

Green Smoothie Testimonials, Part 11

More Green Smoothie testimonials from my research:

My husband and I have been enjoying green smoothies 6-7 times a week for the past 9 months. We are hooked! In fact, we went on vacation for a week and missed our BlendTec blender and green smoothie so much, we could hardly wait to get back home to start again. My husband was diagnosed with bladder cancer three years ago, and the doctor consistently was removing new tumor sites every three months.

Once we found the Green Smoothie Girl.com site, got our blender, and started making the smoothies, he has consistently been clear of any new tumors. His latest colonoscopy this year was also clear, he has more energy, and feels healthy and strong. We will not go without our healthy green start each day! We can’t thank you enough!

–Nancy K.

I have hyperthyroid (Graves Disease) and have been on Propyl-Thyracil (PTU) for the past 15 years. During this time, doctors and specialists have urged me to go on radioactive iodine, and some of them have even ridiculed me for wanting to consider alternative methods.

I knew instinctively that an answer lay for me in something else besides pills. But I was told that they knew of nothing else and that the iodine treatment was pretty standard. (Well, not for me, thank you very much!) I have searched and searched for years. I even went off PTU for three months thinking that I could use positive thinking and visualization to heal myself…but to no avail.

So when I came across green smoothies in about June 2008, I knew that it was more like a liquid salad, full of nutrition and basic goodness. So together with beginning a high raw foodstyle, I was able to decrease my PTU intake every 3 months since then, when having an appointment with my endocrinologist to check out blood work. I had been on three PTUs per day.

So after the first three months, I decreased it to two, thinking that there would be some changes to my blood work results. Since there was none, again after three months, I decreased it to one PTU per day. Again no changes in T4, Free T3, and sTSH results. My last appointment with the endocrinologist was in January 2009. Again no changes.

She was delighted and suggested that I come off PTU completely. I almost fell off my chair that a doctor would suggest no pills. Of my own choice, and with her approval, I asked if I should consider half a PTU per day until my next appointment. She agreed. To date, I feel fine with no increased palpitation and an abundance of energy. Thank you so much green smoothies, and most of all, thank you to Robyn for her relentless pursuit of research.

–Hal Walter (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada)

What my research says about how green smoothies change lives!

I once blogged 20 different astonishing ways my health improved when I began drinking green smoothies and eating a whole-foods diet.   Here it is: What Changed, When We Switched To Whole Foods, Part 2

But I wanted to get more scientific when I wrote The Green Smoothies Diet and find out precisely what a newbie can expect!

The results of my poll of 175 regular green smoothie drinkers yielded some interesting results that suggest quite definitively that it’s a 10-minute habit worth adopting!   To participate in the questionnaire, one had to be drinking green smoothies for at least 30 days, a pint a day for 4 days a week.   Many were drinking more, up to my recommended 1 quart daily.

The vast majority, or 97 percent, said green smoothies noticeably improved their health or quality of life.   Wow!

Very exciting to me is the fact that 84 percent of those drinking green smoothies are so enthusiastic about the positive health benefits that they’ve told others about or taught them the habit!

These are the positive health effects people experience, listed in order of their frequency among the research respondents:

85.4 percent experience more energy.

79.2 percent experience improved digestion (more regular and/or complete bowel movements, no straining, soft/formed stool, etc.).

65 percent experience fewer cravings for sweets and processed foods.

52.3 percent experience a more positive, stable mood.

51 percent experience an improvement in skin tone, or fewer blemishes

50 percent experience weight loss.   The average reported pounds lost is 17.3 lbs.!

(Keep in mind when considering this very impressive statistic that some of the respondents had been drinking green smoothies only 30 days, and some of them did not have any weight to lose!

48.5 percent experience an increased desire to exercise.

44.6 percent experience improved sleep (need less of it, decreased insomnia, more alert in the mornings, etc.).

41.5 percent feel less stressed out.

40 percent experience blood sugar stabilization.

39 percent experience people telling them they look better.

35 percent say their fingernails are stronger or grow faster.

26 percent say their hair is shinier or their dandruff gone.

18.5 percent experience a decrease in PMS symptoms.   (Consider that some of the respondents in the survey are not females of menstruating age.)

17 percent report an improved sex drive.

Other positive health benefits reported by survey respondents include these:

7 people said: Arthritis symptoms/pain gone or reduced

3 people said: Hyperthyroid condition improved (reduced or gone off meds)

2 people said: Seasonal allergies gone or decreased

2 people said: Reduced asthma symptoms

2 people said: Migraines gone or reduced by 80 percent

2 people said: Acne improved or gone

2 people said: Eczema or dry skin cleared

2 people said: Gray hair returned to original color

Decreased blood pressure

No more hypertension

Was able to go off cholesterol meds

Was able to go off Prilosec

Haven’t gotten sick in a year like I always do

Moles disappeared

Deep facial wrinkles “barely noticeable”

Less nasal congestion

Lump on leg getting smaller

Liver spots fading

Tendonitis gone

Muscle soreness gone

Hypoglycemia improved

No more bloating, gas, indigestion, constipation

Avoided a hysterectomy, lifelong menstrual problems returned to normal

Easier to breastfeed

Don’t sunburn any more

Gallstones gone

Depression symptoms gone

Lifelong bad breath gone in two weeks

Ended coffee addiction

Just feel better

The risks of a new green smoothie habit are limited to an 18.5 percent chance of a short-term, uncomfortable cleansing reaction that include the following symptoms:

headaches, skin breakouts, diarrhea, nausea, bloating, intestinal gas, cramps, constipation, vertigo, dizziness, fainting, lethargy or weakness, runny nose, mucous in the back of the throat, liver pain, mood swings, depression, emotional crisis

The top six benefits that people experience when starting a green smoothie habit are, in order, more energy, improved digestion, fewer cravings for sweets and processed food, a more positive/stable mood, improved skin, and weight loss.

It’s hard to look at this data without being compelled to give green smoothies a try!

Jump in with us and let us know here what your experience is after 30 days:

 

To Your Health,

–Robyn Openshaw

p.s.   Join us in 12 Steps to Whole Foods to get on the path to achieve all these health benefits. Step 1 is all about the why and how of green smoothies!