Tag: women’s health
Hydration seems like it should be so easy: drink some water, go about your day, the end. Back in this blog’s early days, and when I first published The Primal Blueprint, my hydration advice was simple: drink when you’re thirsty. Over the years, however, my thinking on the hydration issue has become more nuanced. When I updated and expanded the most recent edition of The Primal Blueprint in 2016, I expanded on that basic advice to include more details about what we should be drinking and how much. For the most part, I still think that “drink to thirst” is a sound strategy for the average person. Your body has a built-in, well-regulated thirst mechanism that will keep you from becoming dehydrated in normal circumstances. However, some folks, like the endurance athletes in the crowd, would be wise to take a more intentional approach. Benefits of Proper Hydration and How It’s Regulated Hydration is a critical component of optimal health. Digestion, muscle contraction, circulation, thermoregulation, and neurologic functioning all rely on having appropriate fluid balance in the body. Your brain and kidneys are constantly working to maintain optimal hydration status. When you become even slightly dehydrated, several things happen. First and foremost, your blood osmolality (concentration) increases. Dehydration can also cause a decrease in blood volume and, often, blood pressure. The brain and kidneys sense these changes and release hormones and hormone precursors designed to restore homeostasis. For example, the pituitary gland releases an anti-diuretic hormone called vasopressin, or AVP, which tells the kidneys to hold on to water. Blood vessels constrict. Most importantly, a brain region known as the lamina terminalis initiates the powerful sensation we know as thirst. Pay Attention to Your Thirst! For most people, proper hydration is as simple as 1, 2, 3. 1) Tune in to your body’s thirst sensations and respond accordingly. 2) Tailor your fluid intake to your individual needs. Rules like “drink at least eight eight-ounce glasses of water” or “drink half your body weight in ounces” are all well and good, but they might not be right for you. There’s not a lot of scientific support for those nuggets of conventional wisdom. Some days you might need less or considerably more. 3) Make appropriate adjustments for exogenous factors like climate and exercise. When it’s very hot, or you’re sweating buckets during some long endurance event, it’s best to stay on top of hydration rather than waiting for thirst to kick in. Don’t Become Waterlogged You can have too much of a good thing. While I’m all about the trend of carrying stainless steel water bottles everywhere we go for environmental reasons, there’s never any call to drink literal gallons of water. In fact, drinking too much can bring about the dangerous condition of hyponatremia, where excess fluid compromises the all-important sodium balance in your blood. Hyponatremia can quickly become debilitating and even fatal. You may have heard the news stories of novice marathon runners losing consciousness after over-hydrating or radio station … Continue reading “Do You Know How to Properly Hydrate? It’s Not as Straightforward as You Might Think”
One of the more common questions we get in the Keto Reset Facebook community is, “How do I break through a weight-loss plateau?”
Stalls are frustrating. You’re cruising along on your Primal or Primal + keto diet, and then wham—you hit a wall. It’s all a totally normal and expected part of the weight loss process. Weight loss is never linear. There are always downs, ups, and flat spots.
In fact, if you’ve been losing weight for a while, and then you stall out for a week or two, I wouldn’t even consider that a plateau necessarily. Your body might keep losing weight on its own if you give it time and don’t stress about it. Still, I get it, you’re eager to kick-start the weight loss again.
We have unparalleled abilities to peer inside our bodies and take detailed snapshots of physiological processes and the state of our health. We can measure the hormones in our blood, the cholesterol in our veins, the nutrient deficiencies we may have. We can go deep. But it doesn’t always make sense to take that deeper, more detailed look at the numbers. It gets expensive, for one. It gets intrusive. Our doctors may be resistant. And it can provide a bit too much of a close look when a broader view might suffice.
When do more detailed tests make sense, though? What kind of scenarios call for a second, deeper look at our numbers?
Many people get to age 60 or so and, if they haven’t lived a healthy, active life up to that point, assume it’s too late for them. After all, things only get harder the older you get. You’ve got aches and pains. Your doc is always reminding you about your weight. Things creak and crack. You look wistfully at the gym you pass by every day, thinking to yourself, “It would never work.”
At least, that’s how most people deal with getting old: they lament their “inability” to do anything about it as oblivion approaches and overtakes them.
Forget all that. While you can’t turn back the chronological clock, you can “de-age” yourself by engaging in the right diet, exercise, and lifestyle modifications. So—how?
As we covered in Parts I and II of this series, during perimenopause and menopause women can experience a complex web of physical, psychological, and social symptoms.
The treatment usually prescribed by doctors, hormone therapy (HT), is controversial and not appropriate for some women. I won’t get into the HT debate here—Mark did a great job covering the pros and cons recently. Suffice it to say that HT isn’t the answer for everyone, and it’s not a panacea by any means.
Whether or not they choose to go the HT route, many women desire additional support during perimenopause and beyond. For the sake of keeping this post from becoming a novella, I’m going to focus on mind-body therapies today.
In our previous menopause post, I mused on some perspectives of menopause that are positive and affirming for women. However, I don’t want to downplay the fact that many women experience menopause as a difficult, frustrating, and even disempowering time. (Again, I am using “menopause” to include the perimenopausal period.) As I mentioned in the last post, some researchers estimate as many as 75% of women experience some type of “menopausal distress,” and we don’t talk about it enough. Today I want to examine some of the psychological and emotional facets of menopause. In the final post of this series, we’ll look at self-care techniques and non-hormonal therapies that seem to be the most beneficial. What Research Suggests About Emotional Well-being During Menopause Obviously menopause is a major life transition—significant biological changes wrapped up in a complex web of personal and sociocultural beliefs, fears, stressors, and stories. It can be a time of great apprehension, confusion, even despair for some women. Others pass right through menopause with hardly a bat of an eye. Still others welcome and embrace it. It’s extremely understandable why this would be a challenging time for women. Menopause can be a perfect storm of physical discomfort and cognitive symptoms (brain fog, forgetfulness), sleep deprivation (thanks to those night sweats and hot flashes), and emotional fluctuations. Besides how they feel, these symptoms can affect women’s personal relationships, ability to perform their jobs, and sense of self-worth and self-confidence. For many women, menopause also coincides with the dual stressors of aging parents and raising teenagers or having a newly empty nest. Plus, menopause is an unmistakable marker of aging, which can evoke complicated feelings as well. Overall, stress, depression, and anxiety seem to be fairly common during menopause. Recent Guidelines for the Evaluation and Treatment of Perimenopausal Depression commissioned by the Board of Trustees for The North American Menopause Society (NAMS) and the Women and Mood Disorders Task Force of the National Network of Depression Centers describe perimenopause as a “window of vulnerability for the development of both depressive symptoms and a diagnosis of major depressive disorder.” It’s difficult to know exactly how many women are affected. Studies of depression and anxiety are usually conducted on women whose symptoms are severe enough to seek help from their doctors. Researchers estimate that up to 40% of women will experience depression at some point during menopause; it’s unclear how prevalent anxiety might be. It’s easy to assume that some women become depressed and anxious during menopause because their symptoms are so gnarly. To some degree, that narrative is probably true. Studies do find that women who experience more severe symptoms such as frequent hot flashes also exhibit more depression and anxiety. This makes sense—being physically uncomfortable and unable to get a good night’s sleep can certainly set the stage for poor psychological outcomes. On the other hand, it’s likely that for some women, depression and anxiety exacerbate the physical and emotional symptoms. That is, depression and anxiety might be a … Continue reading “Menopause, Part II: Psychological Well-being”
Disclaimer: I have not gone through menopause. I am, however, turning 40 this year. Statistically speaking, this is the decade in which I’m likely to enter perimenopause, so I have a vested interest in understanding what might be in store for me.
I’m all too familiar with the stereotype of the belligerent, out-of-control menopausal lady plagued by hot flashes and mood swings, bewildering her poor, beleaguered partner. [Note that for convenience I am going to use “menopause” to include the perimenopausal period as well.] Frankly, this narrative doesn’t suit me at all. I know very well that hot flashes and mood swings can be a part of menopause, but obviously there’s a lot more to it than that.
Of course, I want realistic view of what lies ahead so I might prepare mentally, emotionally, and physically. However, I also want the nuances. Plus, as an optimist I want to know the good, not just the bad and the ugly. To my mind, any major life transition is a chance at a reawakening of sorts, even if the road through it is rocky. My natural tendency is to find the silver lining and reframe situations as growth opportunities.
Collagen or whey. Which should you choose?
For years, collagen/gelatin was maligned by bodybuilding enthusiasts as an “incomplete protein” because it doesn’t contain all the essential amino acids, nor does it contribute directly to muscle protein synthesis. There’s definitely truth to this. If you ate nothing but gelatin for your protein, you’d get sick real quick. That’s exactly what happened to dozens of people who tried the infamous “liquid protein diet” fad of the 70s and 80s, which relied heavily on a gelatin-based protein drink. Man—or woman—shall not live by collagen alone.
As for whey, it’s an extremely complete protein. It’s one of the most bioavailable protein sources around, a potent stimulator of anabolic processes and muscle protein synthesis. I consider it essential for people, especially older ones in whom protein metabolism has degraded, and for anyone who wants to boost their protein intake and get the most bang for their buck.
This said, which is best for your needs today? Let’s take a look….
“Do not go gentle into that good night.” That’s one of my favorite lines in all of literature, and it informs my outlook on health, life, wellness, and longevity.
Live long, drop dead. Compression of morbidity. Vitality to the end. All that good stuff.
But I’m sorry to report that Dylan Thomas imploring you to assail life with boldness is becoming harder for the average person to fulfill and embody. People more than ever before are heading into middle age with a head-start on the degenerative changes to body composition and function that used to only hit older folks. They may want to go boldly into that good night, but their bodies probably won’t be cooperating.
Today’s post is part two of a postpartum series inspired by a reader question. You can read part one here.
Diastasis recti (DR) is usually described shorthand as a separation of the ab muscles. More accurately, it’s a deformation of the linea alba, the line of connective tissue that runs down the front of your torso from your ribcage to your pelvis. The linea alba is basically where all the abdominal muscles meet in the middle; I think of it like the spine of a book. When the linea alba becomes deformed for reasons I’ll discuss in a moment, the rectus abdominis muscles, aka your “six-pack” muscles, pull apart. This is the (often visible) sign of DR.