Spend time hanging around alternative health spaces, and you’ll undoubtedly come across seed cycling. This popular protocol aims “balance women’s hormones” and help with all sorts of issues related to sex hormones and the menstrual cycle. Proponents use seed cycling for everything from PMS symptoms, dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation), and irregular cycles to PCOS, infertility, ovarian cysts, and menopausal symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats.
Testimonials abound from women who credit seed cycling with changing their lives. No shortage of holistic doctors, naturopaths, dietitians, and bloggers promote it as a helpful tool, or even a miracle cure, for women. There are also plenty of skeptics.
When you think about perimenopause and menopause, you probably think of hot flashes (aka hot flushes), night sweats, trouble sleeping, perhaps weight gain. These are the most well-known symptoms, but there are many others that your doctor and your mother probably never told you about.
Research shows that most women, and even many medical professionals, don’t know how to recognize the signs of perimenopause. This is partly due to a lack of education and understanding about what perimenopause entails, but it is also because the signs and symptoms of perimenopause and menopause can be ambiguous.
It’s a story I hear over and over again: A woman is cruising along, feeling like she has her diet and workout routine pretty well dialed in. Then, some time in her 40s, her body composition suddenly starts changing, sometimes rapidly, despite no apparent differences in her food intake or exercise.
Women’s bodies often go through profound transformations in their 40s, mostly due to hormonal shifts associated with perimenopause. Most women start noticing symptoms of perimenopause in their mid-40s, although they can begin as early as mid-30s for some, or as late as mid-50s. This phase may last anywhere from four years to more than a decade (!) before women experience menopause, defined as no menstrual period for 12 months, and transition into postmenopause. In addition to changes in body composition—different fat storage patterns, weight gain, even changes in muscle mass and bone density—many women experience brain fog, low mood, fatigue, hot flashes, and low libido.
Perimenopause can leave women feeling bewildered and like they no longer have control over their bodies. When they try to figure out how to respond, they quickly discover that there’s very little research targeting middle-aged women, especially in the nutrition realm. Premenopausal and postmenopausal women are represented well enough. Those of us in the middle? Not so much.
Last week’s post on coffee generated lots of questions. Today’s Dear Mark will answer some of them. First up is a two parter exploring whether L-theanine can make coffee work even better than it already does and if pre-ground coffee beans are lacking in the polyphenol content. Second, is coffee bad for your bones? It’s “common knowledge” that caffeine leaches calcium and inhibits absorption of it, but how true are the claims? And finally, caffeine can increase insulin resistance. What about coffee? Is this a problem for people following the Primal eating plan?
Look: I’m a man. I’ve lived a different experience than the average woman, with totally different equipment and different concentrations of hormones coursing through my body. But I have a daughter and a wife and a good head on my shoulders that’s spent the last 30 years thinking about health, nutrition, and fitness for humans, so I have a few things to offer.
So let’s get right down to today’s post. What follows are 12 tips for Primal women. Or any woman, really.
(Men, too: if some of the things mentioned in today’s post aren’t working for you, and the tips seem to apply, go for it!)
Last week I took up the subject of health through the varying stages of life. What does health mean to us? How should we develop it or live it within the scheme of the different stages we go through as logistical events and developmental maturity shift the focus and parameters of our lives? How do our major milestones challenge our approach to well-being? Let’s pick up that topic again and finish off the discussion. I hope you’ll share your own thoughts on how differing stages of life influenced your thinking about health and what approaches fit the times best for you.
A doctor weighs in on the HRT-cancer connection. The controversy isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon.
I recommend reading the whole interview if this is an area of interest for you. What caught my attention is the subtle pro-drug stance the interview appears to take, while simultaneously bringing out revealing facts like the following:
Q. Was it a surprise to learn that estrogen and progestins can cause breast cancer?
A. We’ve known there is a cause and effect with hormones and breast cancer since 1896.