What exactly is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)?

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder which affects 1 out of every 10 women in their childbearing years. Women with PCOS experience higher levels of insulin production and androgens (male hormones) than other women. It is because of these high levels of hormones that PCOS can cause a variety of symptoms including irregular or a lapse in menstrual cycles, difficulty becoming pregnant, weight gain, acne, increased risk of insulin resistant diabetes, excess hair growth on the face, stomach and back, and even heart disease.

PCOS & Fertility

PCOS affects fertility due to the hormonal imbalances and overproduction of both androgens and insulin. Androgens are male hormones that are produced naturally in all women, however, women with PCOS produce a higher level of these hormones which can prohibit the development and release of eggs from the ovaries during ovulation. Insulin is a hormone that controls the metabolism of sugar, starches, and other food, and converts them into energy for the body to either use or store. Insulin is elevated in women with PCOS which leads to insulin resistance. This resistance puts women with PCOS at a higher risk for developing diabetes. Insulin and androgens directly correlate with each other as studies show that excess insulin leads to an increased production of androgens. In addition to the effects on normal ovulation, high androgen levels can also lead to acne, excessive hair growth, and weight gain. Weight gain is extremely important to note here, so let’s just touch on this topic for a minute. Weight gain, especially for women with PCOS, occurs mainly in the abdominal area and is a direct effect from excessive insulin present in the body. This “visceral fat” leads to higher levels of LDL (damaging cholesterol) and lowers the levels of HDL (good cholesterol). Having insulin resistant diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure or being overweight are all associated with heart disease. In fact, studies have shown that women with PCOS are twice as likely to experience a future cardiovascular event like a heart attack or a stroke.

 If you have been diagnosed with PCOS, taking action and gaining control of all your symptoms as early as possible can significantly reduce your risk of developing complications such as excessive weight gain leading to obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. By treating your symptoms as a whole, you will also address other complications such as fertility and potential difficulties that can occur during pregnancy.

Ways you can take action today

First, please consult with a medical professional to receive a proper diagnosis and consult on a treatment plan that best fits you and your lifestyle. With that said, adopting a healthy lifestyle is vital and is the best single-handed thing you can start today to help gain control of your symptoms, and can improve the chance of pregnancy and a healthy baby. It’s not an old wives tale, it is true that diet and exercise drive the overall health of your body, internally and externally. A healthy, balanced diet (not a restrictive one) and incorporating an active lifestyle will help keep you in a healthy weight range. Cutting back or omitting alcohol altogether, not smoking, practicing stress reduction techniques, such as meditation, yoga, journaling etc., and making sure you are getting enough quality sleep will all improve your symptoms and your chances of conceiving.

For more information please visit your primary care physician and browse this site, for additional articles on engaging in an active lifestyle including balanced eating, stress reducing techniques, and exercise.

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The Portion Distortion Dilemma

Mastering Portion Control: Your Guide to Health and Satisfaction at The Table

In the perpetual quest for health and wellness, one crucial yet often overlooked element is the role portion control plays in our diet. Amid the mosaic of superfoods, diet trends, and organic produce, the simple act of eating just the right amount remains as pivotal today as it did for our ancestors. As we navigate our modern food landscape, it’s time to address the portion distortion dilemma — and I’m here to guide you through it.

The topic of portion control can be a divisive one, but my aim is not to dictate your plate size or prescribe a generic one-size-fits-all solution. Instead, I want to steer you towards personal exploration and the adoption of sustainable portion practices that align with your lifestyle and health goals. Let’s peel back the layers and uncover the whys and hows of portion control.

Serving Size: More Than Just Numbers on a Label

The foundation of portion control is understanding serving sizes. It’s common to dismiss these as trivial and fail to recognize their importance. Every food product on the shelf has a suggested serving size. These numbers aren’t arbitrary; they are informed by nutritional guidelines and your best interest.

I implore you to give these figures the attention they deserve. It’s not about rigidly adhering to them but about using them to gauge your food intake. Knowing a serving of cheese is typically the size of two dice can lead to more informed eating choices. Educate your eye by using measuring cups and a food scale, at least in the beginning. Over time, you’ll gain a sense of portioning that becomes second nature.

Bowl Full of Chips: A Recipe for Mindless Eating

Picture this: you’re at home, craving a snack. You grab a bag of chips and head to the couch, ready to unwind. Without thinking, you reach in for a handful — and another, and another. Before you know it, the bag is empty, and so is your sense of control. This is the epitome of portion distortion in action.

To counter this, mindfulness is your greatest ally. Portion out your snacks — even if it’s just for yourself. A bowl of nuts may look deceivingly small at first, but it may contain several servings. By portioning out your food mindfully, you not only manage your intake but savor your food more. Mindfulness brings back the joy of eating, one chip at a time.

Home Cooking: The Portion Crusader

Cooking and eating at home is the cornerstone of achieving portion prowess. The power lies in your hands — literally. By prepping your own meals, you control every ingredient, its quantity, and the overall nutritional profile. It’s an opportunity to make peace with portioning without feeling deprived.

When you cook, you understand what goes into your food, and thus, into your body. This control fosters healthier eating habits in ways no fad diet can. As a woman with a mission to ensure not only my well-being but that of my family, I can attest to the transformative influence of home-cooked meals on portion awareness. It’s a journey worth embarking on.

Dining Out: Balancing Indulgence and Moderation

Eating out is an experience of indulgence, and it should be relished as such. However, it’s all too easy to forget the principles of portion control when faced with a voluminous restaurant plate. The portion sizes at eateries often exceed what’s necessary for one meal, encouraging overeating.

My advice for dining out is to view your meal as an event. Choose quality over quantity. Savor each bite, and don’t be afraid to take leftovers home. Additionally, don’t shy away from asking for half-portions or forgoing the breadbasket. It’s about finding a balance that allows you to enjoy the moment without neglecting your long-term health.

Portion Control on the Go: Navigating Busy Lifestyles

In the rush of daily life, the concept of sitting down at the dinner table may seem like a luxury. When fast food becomes the default, it’s crucial to adapt your portion control tactics. Whether it’s a roadside stop or a work lunch, small adjustments can yield significant health dividends.

Opt for the smallest size or share a meal. Resist the urge to upsize your fries or order a side salad instead. It’s the accumulation of these mindful choices that keeps your portion control on track, even in the most time-strapped moments.

Conclusion: The Balanced Plate of Tomorrow

Portion control is not about restriction; it’s about redefining our relationship with food. It empowers us to eat what we love in a way that respects our bodies and our goals. As we progress, let’s embrace portion control as an extension of our autonomy over health. It’s a personal journey, and the adjustments you make today will shape the dinners — and lives — of tomorrow.

Take charge of your portions, and you’ll find that the balancing act of healthful eating and enjoyment is not as precarious as it seems. It is, indeed, possible to have your cake and eat it too — just maybe in a smaller slice. So portion up, and savor the journey to a healthier, more satisfying you.

First, try to pick a restaurant that focuses on local, fresh and organic vegetables and proteins. These restaurants usually offer a balanced meal more so than the places with smothered tater tots and drunken burritos on the menu (though they are delicious). Even so, choosing a healthier restaurant will still come with some challenges. The portions will always be larger than what is recommended. Hey, they gotta make their money, and let’s be honest, if I am going to pay $15 for a salad, it better be one I can have for lunch the next day as well. That brings me to my next point. While ordering food, from anywhere, ask the server to bring out a to go box with your steaming hot entree. Take a moment to admire the dish, take a picture and put it on the gram- then box up half of your portion. We tend to pick at food when it is in front of us even after we have eaten a five-course meal. By boxing up your food and putting it out of sight, your eyes are still fixed on what is in front of you- a healthy portion of a delicious meal. To cut back even more on extra calories, you can ask the server to have the chef prepare your meal with a lighter portion of sauce, light oil or butter. I know it’s hard, but if given the option try and opt for the fresh seasonal veggies as a side rather than the French fries, but if you must, and we all know it’s usually a must (no judgement here) then again pack up those bad boys leaving half of the portion on the plate. Don’t skip the dessert, SPLIT the dessert with a friend. You can also ask for salad dressing on the side, so you have more control of the portion you are putting on your salad. Most of the time, the salad dressing contains the most calories, rather than the salad itself. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the ingredients or alter the way your food is cooked or prepared.  You will be surprised that when you are done mindfully eating your food, that when its gone, you aren’t absolutely starving for the second half. Plus, as much as you enjoyed it then, you get to enjoy it again the next day! Double blessing. To get a better picture on how portions have changed over time here is a visual from NIH.com (National Health Institute) depicting how portions have changed over the past 20 years.

Eating out is a fun way to take a break from the norm and socialize, however eating at home has many benefits on your waistline and your wallet. Try inviting friends over for a potluck, or to try out a new recipe! All in all, it is about being mindful of everything you put into your body. Remember, you are what you eat, and in this case, how much you eat.

You can find more valuable resources on how to eat healthier with good tips for when you are eating out here: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/wecan/about-wecan/index.htm

No If’s, And’s or Gut(s) About It: Processed Food & Gut Health

Did You Know Those 5 Extra Pounds Might be Toxins

Can’t seem to lose those five extra pounds? You may restrict your calorie intake, even more, bump up the exercise intensity or duration. You may have even gone extreme and cut out carbs, sweets, and alcohol and still can’t shake off these last 5 lbs? Frustrating, to say the least.

Why could this possibly be happening?

The reason your disciplined diet and diligent cardio aren’t working is, well, because those few extra pounds may not be fat at all, they might be toxins. If your gut is burdened with extra pounds of toxic waste, you will have difficulty losing weight and keeping it off. Clean-eating and fitness are not the only things that go into the total weight-loss package.

Your gut and its health play one of the most essential roles in your body when it comes to losing weight.

That GUT feeling

Your gut is home to trillions of bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms, both good and bad. When you have the right balance of good and bad bacteria in your gut, your digestion improves, inflammation reduces, decreased stress, sleep better, your moods improve, and your focus increases. Who knew that your gut could power all of those things?

Besides, when it comes to managing weight or weight loss, a healthy gut boosts your metabolism, controls and reduces cravings. Your gut is linked to EVERY part of your body, so you must take good care of it. This includes what goes through it.

A Processed Problem

Many people are led to believe that though canned peaches may be healthy and low calorie and low carb, they miss a very vital point, and that is the processing agent or agents in these foods. You may eat the hot dog without the bun, the low-fat corn chips, and drink that diet soda, even help yourself to a hearty bowl of healthy cereal in the morning. However, all of these foods have a common theme: They are processed foods.

The problem with processed foods and gut health is as good as those foods may taste, a low-calorie diet of processed foods is loaded with refined sugars, trans fats, artificial flavorings, and other harmful ingredients. Frozen pizzas, chicken nuggets, snack packs,  sodas, and chips all contain substances made in labs. Consider food coloring, for example, Red dye #40 (listed in the ingredients) that are found in many foods has been linked to conditions such as autism. These foods are designed to be highly addictive and cost-effective. High fructose corn syrup is the most dominant example of a highly addictive, cheap, and toxic ingredient found in almost every shelf or frozen food, even bread. If you have ever tasted ketchup off the shelf and then tasted organic or homemade ketchup, you would probably make a squished face at the taste of natural ketchup without high fructose corn syrup. This is because HFCS is extremely sweet, there is nothing else produced naturally on this green earth that is as sweet as this processed ingredient. Because this ingredient is so cheap, it is prevalent in supermarket shelf foods, convenience stores, restaurants, and vending machines. Once you have a taste, it is very hard to put down.

Processed foods break down into compounds that the bad bacteria in your gut love to gobble, and if you feed them too much, they’ll grow to outnumber the good bacteria causing an imbalance in your gut health and gastrointestinal disruption. Consuming processed foods at any amount can cause bloating, discomforts such as gas and cramps, trouble losing weight, and insulin resistance. The long-term effects of processed food consumption can lead to heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity, remember your gut health significantly affects all other systems. On top of that, many food additives are known irritants of the digestive system that cause inflammation in the intestines and decrease nutrient absorption, so while you may be taking your vitamins and adding in a salad with your fried chicken, those nutrients are passing right through your gut, therefore, providing little to no benefits to your health. What a waste (literally)!
The key is to have readily available whole foods at your fingertips. Snacking on processed foods is usually the result of not planning meals ahead of time which leads to eating convenient fast or packaged foods, and eating out.

Clean out your cabinets and pantry and fill your fridge with these alternatives.  Instead of sugars and artificial sweeteners, cinnamon, or plain fruit. Replace fried foods that contain unhealthy hydrogenated oils with good, fatty foods avocados, nuts, and cook with healthy oils. Instead of chips, try pumpkin seeds, sprouted almonds, flax seeds, kombucha or dark chocolate. Instead of deli meats that are laden with antibiotics and hormones, purchase and cook lean, grass-fed meats.  Replace regular cheese with cashew cheese and milk with coconut milk. You should be able to readily and conveniently find all of these alternatives at your local health food store.   Plan your meals to be as raw, clean, and hearty as possible. The possibilities are endless and there are countless websites out there that offer amazing, easy, and inexpensive recipes and meal planning ideas.  Don’t settle for ugly, toxic,  processed foods. Settle for a happy, healthy life that you deserve, free of diet-induced diseases.  Achieve your weight-loss goals among many other life-changing benefits. Start today and wave goodbye processed foods.

Is Work Life Balance a Myth

Is Creating a Work Life Balance a Myth?

Work-Life Balance has been a buzz word for such a long time, and has, in recent years, been receiving criticism as unrealistic and truly mythical. That makes us wonder, is that so?

When we think of balance we automatically think of a perfect 50/50 split, however, what in life is a perfect 50/50 split (unless you have an extremely good lawyer)? Nothing really. So why would we put the one thing that is, for the most part, completely out of our control into a category of having or needing perfect, textbook definition, balance? What a trivial pursuit that is and quite frankly, unattainable. Logically speaking, we are not able to commit 12 hours to the office, whether home or away,  and 12 hours to home, family, friends, me-time, relationships, chores, grocery shopping, exercising, leisure time, so on and so forth.

So what is the true definition of Work Life Balance and can we achieve it once defined?

Work-Life Balance indicates that there is something that we need to “escape” from. For most, it is the work, or office life that needs escaping and for some, it may be actual “life” that needs escaping. So, is it that we are really balancing or are we just simply trying to harmonize work and life? I believe in creating a work-life harmony which is a much more attainable goal. Trying to find the perfect balance between the white walls of the office and the hustle and bustle of personal life, actually causes us to stress more. Fact is that life is ever changing and evolving. This is completely out of our control.  Example, you can be diligently working your 9-5 and the daycare calls because your toddler is regurgitating his apple cinnamon oatmeal from this morning and suddenly work life automatically shifts to family life. Vice-Versa, you could be sitting down enjoying a cup of tea and at precisely 8:30pm your phone emails start going crazy due to a huge offer that fell through and you need to stop the ship from sinking before Monday’s 8am staff meeting. The point here is that there is never going to be a true textbook balance and the more you try to create the perfect 50/50, the more you are going to stress yourself out, because frankly, life just doesn’t work that way. By creating harmony and creating space to embrace the ebb and flow of life, you are creating your balance for your life.

How does one just let the pendulum swing and enjoy the ride?

Let’s take work, for starters. I know many of us have been handed a large project that has felt like it has taken over or has  “controlled our lives”. Our response to that? We feel pain.

And in response to pain? We try to make it go away or escape from it. Trying to meticulously maneuver our way through a thorn bush is just silly because pain is inevitable, but not all pain is bad. Pain can signal growth (ahem, ever heard of the term growing pains?). If you are going to be uncomfortable, then you had better make sure it’s for a darn good reason. Now, going back to the large project that seems to be controlling our life and seeping into our Netflix and chill time. Ask yourself, what are you experiencing from this? What valuable takeaways will result from you nailing this large project successfully? What opportunities for growth will this project bring? Turning your mindset around will instantly create determination and motivation, it also dulls the pain and all of the sudden, it doesn’t seem to have such a grip on you, because you are now in control, not work. Plus, it’s not forever. Your life, just like mine, is full of seasons. Some seasons are busy, some are not, some are more dedicated to family and relationships, some are laser focused on work, but like all seasons, they come and go and come back again. Defining what your overall priorities are in life, will give you the clarity you need in order to keep them straight. Work-Life bends and twists, and there will be times when your relationship has to take precedence over your work, where you may have to step away from the office to be a supportive family member or friend, and there will also be times where your need to put your business first.  Learning to honor your priorities and accepting the coming and going of seasons will bring joy and harmony into your life, which will, in return, grant you the truest balance.


Let’s talk a little about cellulite.

(Summer topic)

Almost everyone has it, and it can often times be difficult to get rid of. I’m here to help you eliminate your cellulite and keep it off!

To help combat cellulite, one must first understand what it is and where it comes from. Cellulite is a very common, harmless skin condition that causes lumpy, dimpled flesh on the thighs, hips, buttocks, and abdomen. It predominantly occurs in women. Cellulite is normal and contrary to belief, has nothing to do with your size, weight, or whether or not you have excess fat. Little is known about what causes cellulite, however, it involves the fibrous connective cords that secure the skin to the underlying muscle, with the fat lying between. As fat cells accumulate, they push up against the skin, while the long, tough cords pull down. This is what creates an uneven surface or dimpling.

Cellulite can occur in all ages and sizes, but usually makes its first appearance after puberty and can become more visible with aging skin as it loses its elasticity. Women with cellulite all share something in common as studies have shown that having cellulite can be an indicator of a weak lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is designed to clear out toxins, bacteria and fat, and drains out tissue waste elements. If the lymphatic system is not functioning at full steam, these things can become trapped underneath the surface of the skin causing the “orange peel” look. Cellulite can also become more visible in those who are less active, therefore having weak muscle tone. As you exercise, you build muscle and lose fat. As your muscle mass increases, your skin starts to tighten and tone, therefore causing the appearance of cellulite to diminish.

What are other ways to help decrease the look of cellulite you ask? Try these other easy, do it yourself lifestyle tips.

  1. In with the old, out with the new. Kick your canola oil out to the curb and replace it with unrefined coconut oil! That’s right, Coconut oil breaks down the fat cells that help make up cellulite. You can throw a tablespoon of coconut oil into your smoothie, replace coconut oil in your favorite baked sweets and for a little R & R? Pour one tablespoon of coconut oil in with your favorite bath product, soak and relax. Coconut oil is one of the greatest things you can consume to eliminate the buildup of fat cells in your body. With just this one simple change, you’re on your way to saying goodbye to cellulite.
  2. Christmas year ‘round. Head to your local health food store and pick up some fresh cranberries! Make your own cranberry juice or purchase organic unsweetened cranberry juice. Consuming 8-12 ounces of cranberries per day will help improve the connective tissues which, in turn, keeps your lymphatic system working at its best. In order to help prevent cellulite, you need to have a strong and functioning lymphatic system to rid your body of the unwanted waste. Just remember, only 8-12 ounces of cranberries per day and make sure you keep up with your water intake. Two liters of water per day is crucial to staying hydrated and flushing your body of toxins.
  3. Go ahead and break a little sweat! Being and staying active will not only help reduce the appearance of cellulite but will also increase the health of your lymphatic system. Jogging, walking, weightlifting, yoga, and high-intensity workout can aid in the natural process of ridding your body of cellulite. Find what works for you and your schedule and make it a daily habit. Don’t be afraid to switch it up either! Trying new things keeps you motivated and excited to stay active.

You don’t need to be a bodybuilder with negative five percent body fat or have special genes to be free of cellulite.  All you need is a little exercise, some nutritional motivation, and the commitment to yourself.  There are many other ways to help reduce the appearance of cellulite or get rid of it altogether, the key here is to find what works for you and the lifestyle you want to have. Slow and steady, with commitment and discipline, you will find that the reduction of cellulite is only one of the many benefits that can come along with leading a healthy lifestyle.

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Foods to Balance Blood Sugar

Balanced blood sugar levels are crucial to a healthy and prosperous life. Stable blood sugar levels prevent the disruption of your body’s functions and help your overall health. Here are a few foods to add to your diet to help balance your blood sugar: 

Greens, you can never eat too many greens. For the best blood sugar benefits, go for nutrient-dense, low-carb greens like spinach, kale, mustard greens, beets greens, Swiss chard, or broccoli. These greens are also very rich in protein and calcium, which help your body in multiple areas. You roast, sauté, steam, greens contribute to a dramatic improvement in patients who are constantly battling with their blood sugar.  

Low fructose fruits for blood sugar-specific management, choose fruits that are low fructose, such as cantaloupe, raspberries, blueberries, kiwi, and blackberries. You can snack on them throughout the day, or toss them in your salad, smoothies, or acai bowls. Here is a list for an idea of the glycemic index of some foods.

Protein, this macronutrient is essential for slowing down glucose absorption in your body, which helps regulate your blood sugar levels. Add foods to your diet that are packed with protein. There are plenty of animal and non-animal choices to choose form. Make your diet enjoyable. Remember everything in moderation; however, too much protein actually can become sugar in your blood, creating a condition called gluconeogenesis; the amount of protein needed depends on your lifestyle.  

Herbs and Spices are natural supplements for balancing your blood sugar levels. They not only add flavor to your dishes, but they may also help your hormones lower your blood sugar. Some spices, like turmeric, contain anti-inflammatory properties, which help in balancing out your sugar. 

Low-calorie drinks: cut out sugary, high-calorie drinks from your diet. Add drinks like cinnamon tea, lemon water, and cucumber juice in your daily routine. 

Whole-grain foods that are also rich in protein, like millet and quinoa, provide and store energy without causing spikes in your blood sugar levels. 

Beans are a good source of protein, low carb, and rich in fiber, all critical factors in balancing your blood sugar. Hummus, lentils, and garbanzo beans are good examples and great dietary choices. Remember to soak them the night before to promote easier digestion. 

Nuts like almonds and walnuts contain healthy amounts of fiber, protein, and healthy fats, and are a low carb snack idea. 

Try balancing your blood sugar the natural way by changing the way you eat. You’ll be amazed at the difference!

What to Know About Progesterone

As a woman, we produce many different hormones that directly affect fertility and various other physical health issues. Progesterone is one of those hormones. Made in the ovaries and adrenal glands, and eventually in the placenta during pregnancy, progesterone plays a role in maintaining a healthy pregnancy. Progesterone is also responsible for preparing the body for conception, regulates the menstrual cycle and sexual desire.

About Progesterone

During our reproductive years, our eggs develop and are housed in our ovaries. Once mature, these eggs are then released by our ovarian follicles every month. When these follicles begin to develop, the sex hormones, progesterone and estrogen are produced which aid in thickening the lining of the uterus. Progesterone levels peak during the second half of menstruation, during ovulation and continues to be produced by the ovarian tissue that replaces the follicle.

Progesterone causes special proteins to secrete through the endometrium (the lining of the uterus), which prepares the uterus to be able to receive and nourish and implanted fertilized egg. This is one of the most important functions of progesterone in your body. If the egg is not implanted the lining of the uterus breaks down and menstruation occurs.

Why You Need Progesterone

The reason doctors are concerned about progesterone levels is because of how much it impacts other areas of your health. Not just reproductive. As explained by senior author Dr. Lawrence M. Resnick, Professor of Medicine at the Hypertension Center of Weill Cornell, hormones such as progesterone have previously been thought of primarily in terms of their most obvious reproductive function. However, studies have shown that progesterone, produced by both men and women (for men, progesterone is produced in the adrenal glands that sit atop of the kidneys) affect other areas as well, such as the heart, blood vessels, and the brain, benefiting cognitive function. Your mental and physical health both do best when you have adequate amounts of progesterone in your body.

Here are some of the primary benefits of having the right amounts of progesterone in your body:

  • Maintains the lining of your uterus, preparing for pregnancy.
  • Diuretic effects
  • Helps reduce the severity of your PMS symptoms.
  • Aids in building bone strength
  • Aids in a healthy metabolism
  • Thyroid health
  • Maintains healthy blood pressure.

How to Improve Progesterone Levels Naturally

If you feel that you are suffering from a hormonal imbalance, you are not alone. Many women deal with this problem every day, but there is hope. Here are some different ways you can balance your hormone levels, including progesterone, without medications. This includes adopting a healthy lifestyle, from diet to exercise, to replacing unhealthy habits for healthy ones.


While these foods don’t contain progesterone, they help stimulate the production of the hormone. These include:

  • Beans
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Kale
  • Nuts
  • Pumpkin
  • Spinach
  • Whole grains

Foods such as bananas, cabbage, shellfish, and walnuts are associated with lowering the amount of estrogen in the body which increases the ratio of progesterone to estrogen. Adding these foods to your diet could boost natural progesterone levels.


If you’re looking for natural progesterone, you can buy products made from soybeans or yams, it is important to know that yams must be from the variety Diascorea uilosa. Regular yams you purchase in the store will not produce the same benefits.

The most commonly available natural progesterone product available are creams. The body absorbs creams efficiently which means progesterone directly enters the bloodstream making it more available.


Natural progesterone pills are also available, the problem is, progesterone becomes less available in the bloodstream due to the liver breaking down progesterone. If taking a pill, the dosage of progesterone ingested will be significantly higher than if you were applying a cream. This is so that you are able to receive an adequate amount of progesterone into your bloodstream.  You can also take progesterone suppositories, which are inserted vaginally. They’re also thought to enhance healthy tissue in the uterus and improve pregnancy success.

Your doctor can also provide a progesterone supplement if you are not able to improve the hormone levels on your own. Your doctor can perform simple tests to determine how much progesterone you are producing on your own, and where your levels need to be. It is crucial that you speak with your physician before trying out any progesterone boosting product. Synthetic forms of progesterone, also known as progestins, are available, but they’re also associated with an increased risk for breast cancer.

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Multivitamins & Supplements

Multivitamins and Supplements for the Family

Quality multivitamins are an essential that everyone should incorporate into their daily lives, just like water. It should be a no brainer. The purpose of a multivitamin is to provide nutrients that are not taken in through the diet. They are like a bridge to help close the nutrient gap. Multivitamins are also used to treat vitamin deficiencies caused by illness, poor diet, digestive disorders and other conditions. It is best and safe practice to start a multivitamin habit in children that are at least 12 years old. Some children as young as 4 may take multivitamins but their needs may not be the same as an adult, especially if they are healthy and growing as they should. Your pediatrician will recommend any vitamin usage for your child. That being said, incorporating a multivitamin into the daily habits of pre-teens and teens is very beneficial as teens tend to have more control of their diets, often seeking less healthy alternatives such as fast food, junk food, sugary drinks etc. Everyone, regardless of their gender or age, should be focusing on health and proper nutrition.

Here are a few common and beneficial vitamins for women to start incorporating either into your daily life or your teens

When choosing a Multivitamin, your best bet to ensure you receive quality ingredients without fillers is at your local health market. Try to stay away from commercial vitamins that are commonly found at a cheap price in drug stores. Finding a local health food store often offers high quality brands that are USP certified.

Confused yet? Trust me, we know! Taking a walk down a vitamin aisle is like a kid taking a walk down candy lane, or a mom trying to shop at forever 21. Overcrowded, overwhelming and cheap and just bad for you.

To help curb your confusion on choosing a multivitamin for anyone in your family, follow these simple guidelines on what to look out for- brought to you by UT Southwestern Medical Center

  1. USP verification: This is the ultimate stamp of approval. USP verified means that the vitamin you are looking at or holding in your hand is pure and contains only the ingredients that are listed on the label. The S. Pharmacopeial Convention is an independent, nonprofit organization. The organization uses a particular seal. Experts warn- Don’t be fooled by labels that simply use the letters “USP.” You can Check your multivitamin online to ensure it is USP verified. (https://www.usp.org/)
  2. Appropriate daily values of ingredients: Choose a multivitamin with 100 percent of the daily value of most of its ingredients. You should note however that some nutrients, such as calcium, can’t be included in a multivitamin at 100 percent – if it was, the multivitamin would be too large to swallow. You can either purchase a calcium supplement to meet your daily requirements or can eat calcium rich foods to help bridge that gap.
  3. The right balance for your age and sex: Nutrient needs vary depending on gender and age. For example, premenopausal women need more iron, while older adults need more calcium. A dietitian or your family doctor can help you determine how much of specific nutrients you need for your age and gender.
  4. Essential micronutrients: Vitamin C, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium are the big players in the vitamin game. But a good multivitamin will contain micronutrients that are also essential in making sure your body runs like a well-oiled machine.

These micronutrients include:

  • Thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin
  • B6 and B12
  • Folic acid, pantothenic acid, and biotin
  • Calcium, magnesium, selenium, and zinc
  • Iodine, borate, and molybdenum
  • Vitamins A (including beta carotene), E, and K
  • Vitamin D2 or D3

Experts recommend you skip multivitamins that are made with additional micronutrients for which there are no recommended daily values. It will only add to build up in your system.


You need your antioxidants! When our body is exposed to certain external and internal elements, it reacts by creating free radicals, these are unstable molecules created by cells and are just extra waste in the body. If the body is unable to process and remove this waste, then oxidative stress can occur with has been linked to heart disease, cancer, arthritis and stroke; respiratory diseases, immune deficiency, emphysema, Parkinson’s disease and other inflammatory conditions, UV exposure, cigarette smoke, pollution, radiation, exposure to chemicals, such as pesticides and drudge (including chemotherapy), industrial solvents and excessive exercise are all examples of external elements. Internal elements include tissue trauma from inflammation and injury, consumption of refined and processed foods, trans fats, artificial sweeteners, certain dyes (red dye #40- found in almost everything) and additives, mitochondrial activity etc.
Though all of these elements are seemingly unavoidable, like pollution; the good news is that there are literally hundreds and possibly thousands of substances that can act as antioxidants. Antioxidants can protect against this specific cell damage and oxidative stress.

Below is a list of common and familiar sources of antioxidants that come from outside of the body:

  • Vitamin A: Dairy, produce, eggs and liver.
  • Vitamin C: Most fruits & vegetables, berries, oranges and bell peppers
  • Vitamin E: Nuts & seeds, sunflower & other vegetable oils, and green leafy vegetables (think collards, kale, spinach, Swiss chard)
  • Beta-carotene: Brightly colored fruits and vegetables such as peas, spinach, mangoes, and the most notable- carrots
  • Lycopene: Pink & red fruits and vegetables, including tomatoes and watermelon.
  • Lutein: Green, leafy vegetables, corn, papaya and oranges
  • Selenium: Rice, corn, wheat & other whole grains as well as nuts, eggs, cheese and legumes (black beans, kidney beans)

Other examples of antioxidant food sources are eggplant, red grapes, black and green teas, goji berries, pomegranates, blueberries, lentils, broccoli and YES DARK CHOCOLATE- hallelujah!

Plant based foods contain phytonutrients which are all antioxidants. Not all antioxidants are the same however, each one serves a different function and are not interchangeable, this is why having a varied diet full of colorful fruits and veggies is important in order to get the antioxidants your body needs.

B Vitamins

The next class of vitamins essential for women are the B vitamins. B Vitamins are a group of 8 essential vitamins that all have unique functions yet work together in the body.

  • B-1 (thiamine): breaks down sugars, creates brain chemicals, produces fatty acids & synthesizes certain hormones
  • B-2 (riboflavin): energy production, break down of fats, converts B-6 to a coenzyme for bioavailability
  • B-3 (niacin): creates energy from carbs, fats and proteins into a form the body can usel metabolic processes, expression of DNA in cells
  • B-5 (pantothenic acid): creates new coenzymes, proteins and fats, used for energy and metabolism
  • B-6: amino acid metabolism, breaks down carbs and fats, brain development, immune function
  • B-7 (biotin): breaks down fats, carbs and protein, regulation of DNA
  • B-9 (folate): DNA replication, metabolism of vitamins, metabolism of amino acids, proper cell division
  • B-12: contains the mineral cobalt used for creating new red blood cells, DNA synthesis, brain and neurological function, fat and protein metabolism

Eating a healthy, varied diet (remember, eat the rainbow) will generally provide all the B vitamins a person needs, however if you choose to supplement, selecting a full B-complex supplement is the best and most effective as it contains all of the 8 essential B vitamins. Ask a doctor before taking any supplements to be sure they will not interact with medications.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is naturally produced by your body as a response to sun exposure. Since there is much controversy over time in the sun and skin cancer, It is recommended that you focus on getting your Vitamin D either from foods or supplementation. Vitamin D is responsible for bone and teeth strength which is essential for preventing conditions like osteoporosis. It also protects against a wide range of diseases and conditions such as type 1 diabetes.

Fun fact: Vitamin D isn’t actually a vitamin at all! It is a precursor of a hormone called a prohormone. What is the difference? Well Vitamins are nutrients that the body does not naturally produce and must be consumed. The body however, can produce vitamin D through sunlight. If you do decide to spend some time in the sun, experts recommend going outside where UV rays are peaking, generally between 11am-2pm, this is when vitamin D production will be at its highest. Forgo the sunscreen for only 20 minutes and then apply the SPF. Sunscreen will block the UV rays that are needed to trigger the production of vitamin D. Rule of thumb: When outside, if your shadow is bigger than you are, vitamin D production will be minimum.

Vitamin K

Lastly, you should try to get adequate amounts of the fat-soluble vitamin K each day, either with a supplement or in your diet. Vitamin K benefits the body in various ways. Bone health, cognitive health and heart health are three benefits that vitamin K gives. However, the most important function of this nutrient is the production of prothrombin which is a protein that is important in blood clotting and bone metabolism.

Dark, leafy greens are where vitamin K likes to live in high amounts. Foods such as kale, Swiss chard, collard greens, parsley, raw spinach, grapes, hard boiled eggs and soybean oil are all great sources of vitamin K.

This is one nutrient where experts don’t recommend supplementing due to the fact that most adults in the U.S. are consuming enough vitamin K through their food and taking any type of supplement can lead to toxicity. If you are taking or been prescribed blood thinners, anticonvulsants, or cholesterol lowering medications, talk to your doctor about your vitamin K intake as it may interact with several common medications.

Remember, exceeding 100 percent of the daily value of any nutrients is not helpful. Some nutrients – like vitamins A, D, E, and K – can build up in the body and become toxic.

Scholarly articles and Research Resources:

Prevention & Treatment of UTI’s

Urinary Tract Infection (UTI’s)

A UTI, or urinary tract infection, is definitely no fun. It is not only uncomfortable, but often very painful. A UTI is an infection in any part of your urinary system including your kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. Most commonly, infections are found in the lower urinary tract, which is the bladder and the urethra.
A UTI is more common in women as we are more likely to develop an infection. The typical treatment for a UTI is your physician’s prescription for antibiotics, and some Tylenol or ibuprofen for pain management. The problem arises if your UTI spreads to your kidneys where serious consequences can occur.
You can take these steps to reduce your chances of developing an infection in the first place.

Signs & Symptoms

If you have never experienced a UTI, you may be wondering what signs and symptoms to watch for.
You may find you have a strong and persistent urge to urinate and when you do you could experience a burning sensation.
You may also find that you are only passing frequent yet small amounts of urine. Your urine may look cloudy, have a strong smell, and in some cases can look red, bright pink or cola colored, signaling that there is blood in the urine.
You may also experience pain in the center of the pelvic area and around the pubic bone. It’s also important to note that not all UTIs present with signs and symptoms.

Natural Prevention from UTIs

  • Drink Plenty of Water
    Drinking water will help dilute your urine and cause you to have to urinate frequently. By doing so, you eliminate bacteria faster which keeps an infection from starting in the first place.
  • Keep the Area Clean
    • You always want to keep the area clean and dry. Wash the area regularly and refrain from using feminine products such as douches, sprays and powders that only end up irritating the urethra and can cause an infection. Wear dry, clean underwear, loose-fitting clothing whenever you can. If you go swimming, be sure to change out of your bathing suit bottoms as soon as you can. Prolonged exposure to wet or damp clothes to your genital area gives bacteria a place to grow. This also applies after exercise, be sure to change from sweaty clothes and tight fit clothing like spandex shorts or yoga leggings.
    • After using the bathroom, practice wiping from front to back, this will ensure that any bacteria from urination or from a bowel movement will not spread to the vagina or urethra.
  • Empty Your Bladder After Intercourse
    By going to the bathroom and urinating after sex, bacteria will be flushed out. Also drink a full glass of water to help keep flushing out bacteria.
  • Birth Control Method
    Condoms that are not lubricated or treated with spermicide can contribute to bacterial growth. This is also true if you use a diaphragm.
  • Supplements
    Here are a few supplements that have been studied:
    • D-Mannose: This is a type of sugar that is found in cranberries and has been shown to be effective in treating UTIs and preventing recurrence (Click here for Trusted Source)
    • Bearberry leaf: Also known as uva-ursi. One study showed that a combination of bearberry leaf, dandelion root and dandelion leaf decreased UTI recurrence (Click here for Trusted Source)
    • Cranberry extract: Like cranberry juice, cranberry extract works by preventing bacteria from adhering to the urinary tract.
    • Garlic extract: Garlic has been shown to have antimicrobial properties and may be able to block the growth of bacteria to prevent UTIs (Click here for Trusted Source)

Natural Treatments for UTIs

  • Drinking Plenty of Water
    Again, drinking water is key. Studies have shown time and again that your hydration status is directly linked to UTIs and the frequency of occurrence. This is due to the profound effect it has on flushing out bacteria when you go to the bathroom. In addition to drinking water, make sure you limit sugary drinks, alcohol and drinks with caffeine. All three of these ingredients can cause an irritated bladder.
  • Get Plenty of Vitamin C
    • Vitamin C boosts immune function and strengthens the fight against UTI’s. Vitamin C may also decrease the risk of developing a UTI due to its acidic properties that it produces in your urine, killing off bacteria. Get vitamin C from citrus fruits and vegetables, or simply by taking a supplement each day. Research shows that women who take 100mg of Vitamin C everyday cut their risk of developing a UTI by half.
    • Red peppers, oranges, grapefruit and kiwifruit all contain the full recommended amount of vitamin C in just one serving.
  • Probiotics
    • Probiotics are beneficial microorganisms that are consumed through food or supplements. They can promote a healthy balance of bacteria in your gut.
    • Probiotics could help prevent UTIs when used alone or in combination with antibiotics. Probiotics have been linked to everything from improved digestive gut health to enhanced immune support. Probiotics can also be taken as a preventative measure as studies have shown that certain strains of probiotics may reduce the risk of developing UTIs. Probiotics can be found naturally in fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kefir, greek yogurt kimchi, and kombucha. They can also come in supplement form. If you choose to supplement your probiotics, it is vital you purchase very high quality strains of probiotics, preferable ones that need to be refrigerated as they are living microorganisms. Double check the strains and make sure you choose probiotics that contain the specific strain of Lactobacillus, same thing when you buy yogurt. This strain of probiotics has specifically been studied and has shown to reduce risk and prevent UTIs in women. Probiotics also play an important part of keeping your gut healthy if you are prescribed antibiotics for a UTI. Antibiotics kill both bad and good bacteria causing an imbalance. Probiotics can help replenish the good bacteria in your gut while under antibiotic treatment.
  • Use Heat
    If you are experiencing pain in the pelvic area, applying heat, such as a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel or a heating pad to your stomach and pelvic region will help with any discomfort.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
    Mixing just a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to 16oz of water can be helpful in preventing the bacteria from multiplying and spreading. This is because there are acidic components and enzymes that apple cider vinegar contains that help reduce and eliminate bacteria growth.

*If symptoms continue to persist after using these home remedies, please make an appointment to see a physician as soon as possible. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics as a form of treatment. If you are prescribed antibiotics it is highly advised that you take the full course of prescribed medication to prevent reinfection.


Lifestyle & Fertility

Lifestyle Can Affect Your Fertility

It seems that now, more than ever, we are hearing more women share their personal stories of fertility issues. There are more open discussions being had about fertility and women have more resources and opportunities to explore their reproductive health and what to do about it.

Even if you are not trying to get pregnant right now, it is important to become aware of what your body is doing and capable of. By taking proactive steps and making healthy lifestyle choices today, you can help increase the likelihood of fertility and a healthy pregnancy when the time comes that you decide you are ready.

Besides setting aside time and speaking with your doctor, here are some easy lifestyle changes that you can incorporate today.

Adopt a Healthy Diet

I cannot emphasize this enough. When you suffer from fertility problems, the first thing you should do is look at basic lifestyle choices you make each day. Diet is one of the first things that your doctor will ask you about.  A healthy diet is one that is balanced,  provides adequate nutrition, and preferably includes fertility boosting sources of food such as healthy fats and proteins from veggies. Walter Willet, from Harvard School of Public Health, has performed extensive research on the topic of fertility and diet, specifically on what foods affect fertility. You can check out the article here https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2276768/. A reproductive medicine group from Ohio also published these specific recommendations when it comes to diet and fertility.

  • Consuming healthy fats  is associated with a lower risk of ovarian dysfunction, and supports healthy ovulation. Avoid Low fat dairy because studies have shown they increase ovulatory dysfunction.
  • Consume clean protein from meat and vegetables. Preferably more plant based protein than animal.
  • Eat more water and fat soluble fiber.
  • Eat dark leafy greens to improve ovulation, and make healthy sperm.
  • Include beans in your diet as they boost fertility.
  • Adding walnuts to your man’s diet can improve his fertility.
  • Avoid Trans Fats at all costs.
  • Avoid highly processed foods and hydrogenated oils.
  • Reduce carbs and sugar. Eat complex carbs to stabilize blood sugar levels. High blood sugar levels have been reported to reduce conception.

Plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, and healthy fats. Your doctor will also have more specific recommendations for you, especially if you have other dietary restrictions or conditions such as diabetes. Insulin resistance causes the body to release more insulin which halts ovulation.


Move Regularly

Maintaining a healthy weight, exercise and choosing foods that support your ability to conceive and achieve pregnancy are key factors in fertility. We discussed a healthy diet above, now let’s discuss the topic of obesity. Obesity has a significant effect on infertility rates. Obese women have an infertility rate that is 3 times higher than women who maintain a healthy BMI. In fact, 30% of infertility has been associated with weight extremes. The good news? If women reduce their body weight by just 5%, their fertility can improve. Infertility is not just affected by obesity however underweight women often suffer from ovulation issues due to hormonal imbalances.

Maintaining a healthy weight for your age and height is one of the best ways to improve your fertility. Don’t worry, you are not going to sit on the couch eating a celery stick while your partner downs a pint of ice cream. Obesity and fertility affect men as well. Obesity alters testosterone in men that can affect sperm count and sperm mobility. In fact, according to the same reproductive medicine group in Ohio as mentioned above, Sperm-related infertility accounts for up to 33% of male factor infertility. Meaning, your partner has to get on board as well! It’s a team effort!

And while you don’t necessarily have to incorporate intense bouts of exercise, walking is a great and easy choice that can hit all of your exercise goals. Walking gets your heart pumping, joints moving, blood and oxygen flowing and releases those feel good endorphins. Plus, it usually gets you out of the house and into fresh air and sun. Moving your body helps reduce contributing  factors for infertility issues like, stress and anxiety, and can help with many issues surrounding hormonal imbalances and other fertility problems in women. Finding a fitness routine that works for you, and gets you excited is important in maintaining the overall health of all your bodily systems.  This might include yoga, pilates, HIIT and Tabata, weights, walking, at- home workouts, or going to the gym.

Recognizing and Stopping Unhealthy Habits

There are unhealthy lifestyle choices that are glaringly obvious such as tobacco use of any kind, excessive alcohol consumption or recreational drug use. While other choices may seem harmless they could be hurting you more than you think. Tobacco use can affect fertility in both male and females. Because smoking damages the genetic material in eggs and sperm, miscarriage and offspring birth-defect rates are higher among patients who smoke. Smokeless tobacco also leads to increased miscarriage rates. If you are trying to become pregnant, talk to your doctor about how both you and your partner can quit slowly and healthily.

The less than obvious habits that could be affecting fertility is increased consumption of artificial sweeteners, the way you metabolize caffeine, and processed foods. Choosing clean, whole organic produce and meats will ensure you are not consuming harmful antibiotics and added hormones that can really wreak havoc on your own hormonal production causing imbalances which can affect fertility and ovulation.

Take a Multi-Vitamin Daily

The grown woman kind, not the gummies and not the flintstone chewables either!

Choosing a high quality and reputable brand with sustainable ingredients is essential to ensure you bridge the gap for any nutritional deficiencies you are not gaining through your diet. Some doctors may even recommend taking a prenatal vitamin even if you are not pregnant, to make sure your body fills up on essential nutrients such as folate, Vitamins A & D, iron, B6 and B12 to support a healthy pregnancy as these specific nutrients are the building blocks of a healthy pregnancy.

Other Actions to take into consideration are things like sleep habits, timing intercourse, managing stress levels, and oral health.

For more information on how you can tailor your health habits to increase your fertility, we always recommend you speak with your doctor to address your specific needs.