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J Landry2018/12/30

Women's Health Essentials, Natural Support & Care


Good health is gifted upon some of us.  However, we can all benefit from extra support and preventive steps.  These are these essentials for taking care of general women’s health—specifics vary by the individual and stage of life you are in…more on that next winter!

Good nutrition, as always is essential.


Leafy greens and vegetables!  I live by the thought that is almost impossible to eat too many leafy greens.  Eat vegetables with every meal, and brassica family vegetables (kale, collards, broccoli, cauliflower, radish, daikon, turnip) offer incredible nutrients that have been shown to prevent cancers of all kinds and particularly hormonal cancers.  Garlic & Onions are also powerhouse veggies to indulge in for a myriad of health reasons!

A plant based, whole foods diet with high quality fats is the best rule of thumb.  We all know plant based foods contain essential nutrients and fiber.  Fats are not all bad, we need cholesterol for hormone production and brain function!

High quality fats mean cold water fish (for salmon eat the skin, make broth of heads, can the backbones) and fish oils, flax or hemp oils, borage or evening primrose oils.  These high quality oils are one that you do NOT cook but sprinkle over your food or use as a dressing.  For cooking I use lard that I have rendered from wild game.  Don’t cut the fat off your game and leave it in the field only to buy butter or margarine—that is absolute foolishness!  Wild game fat has great nutrients and think about the pure foods that game has eaten compared to its stockyard counterparts, as with all fats just limit your intake-- as unless you are Inuit, your body has not evolved for high fat consumption!  If you don’t have access to wild game fat, coconut oil is great for cooking. Olive oil is also good, generally if I am going to cook with olive oil I add water (for example if sauteeing vegetables so that the olive oil does not get super high heated which ruins the beneficial aspects of the oil).  Never trust an oil that says it is safe at high temperatures, all supermarket oils have been processed at high temperatures and should be considered more in the realm of toxic than nourishing.

Berries provide superb nourishment, ¼ cup or more a day for general health.

Flax seeds provide essential fatty acids and help bind toxins including estrogens that your body has finished using and needs to eliminate.  This is vital as recirculating estrogens can be harmful.  It is common today for women to be “estrogen dominant” and have excess estrogen relative to progesterone. Supporting estrogen detoxification is helpful for preventing many women’s health issues and diseases.   Freeze then fresh grind your flax seeds and again sprinkle on top of your foods.  Flax seeds when baked likely lose the beneficial qualities of the essential fatty acids but will retain their binding properties, thus using flax seeds in baked goods can help bind sugar reducing blood sugar spiking when these foods are consumed.

Mushrooms are the new frontier or medicinal foods.  We are still learning about the many health benefits, from immune enhancement, cancer protective qualities, to even a source of vitamin D3 (if your mushroom was dried in the sun!).  Any non-button type mushroom has healthy benefits:  shitake, maitake, oysters, chanterelles, portabellos…yum!

If your body can tolerate them, fermented foods generally promote gut health and wonderful nutrients.

Exercise for at least 4 hours every week!

Moving your body helps keep muscles toned, joints lubricated, your brain nourished by healthy neurotransmitters, and your lymphatic system pumping.  The lymphatic system helps move cellular toxins out which is key to overall good health and cancer prevention.

Manage stress.

No one can avoid stress in today’s world so we must each learn stress management techniques.  Mindfulness, meditation, guided visualization, conscious breathwork, consciously slowing down and just being… It’s not just about quieting the mind.

Can you access centeredness?   A place where you are relaxed with head and heart connected.  Can you do this even when confronted by challenges?  Practice, practice, practice!  I feel like this is my life’s work, every day and I try and every day I still have more work to do!

Most of us are most accustomed to acting out of fear and negativity which causes cycles of harm to ourselves and others.

Avoid or limit exposure to environmental toxins.

Plastics, heavy metals, EMFs, smoke, chemicals of all kinds (including those found in food, house furnishings, and body care products), pesticides, GMOs, molds, bacteria, yeast and fungi all stress our bodies on a cellular level and if not cleared from the body stress the body on a systemic level.  Be as educated as possible so you can limit your exposure.  Wearing or using protective gear, from water and air filters to simple masks when deep cleaning musty places or turning compost (I know they suck to wear and I am resistant too, but if you are going to put in the hard work to take care of your body then you might as well protect that investment). None of us can completely avoid exposure so eating leafy greens that help promote our body’s natural detoxification processes is important, as well as incorporating herbs like dandelion, turmeric, milk thistle, burdock root as foods or teas to provide ongoing detoxification support.

Herbal Support Basics:

the best herbs for you will depend on your particular health history and symptoms, these are just general thoughts:

  • Liver function: dandelion, turmeric, milk thistle, burdock root
  • Hypothalamic Pituitary Adrenal Axis function: vitex, ashwagandha, eleutheroccoccus, devils club.
  • Hormone Balance: raspberry leaves, stinging nettle leaves AND roots, yarrow, dong quai root, black cohosh.  Fermented soy (as food or herb)
  • Lymphatic function: cleavers, chickweed, red root
  • Mineral Support: seaweeds, stinging nettles

Supplement support:

the best supplements for you will depend on your particular health history and symptoms, these are just general thoughts:

  • Antioxidants:
    • Many vegetables and herbs are great sources of antioxidants: berries and foods with red, purple or black pigments are primo!
    • Vitamins A, C, E (mixed sources) and D are important antioxidants helping to protect the body from toxins and support liver function, along with other super important roles in health! Good quality multis always include these basics but you might want to consider an antioxidant specific supplement for extra support.
  • B complex, folate and Magnesium: these nutrients work together to support HPAA function and hormone balance.  You may want to work with a natural health practitioner to ensure you are getting adequate amounts of these nutrients and that your body is absorbing them.
  • Calcium D glucarate is a wonderful supplement for any woman concerned about breast health or estrogen dominance [see flax above]. Calcium d glucarate should be taken with meals and it helps bind and facilitate removal of toxins, such as used up estrogens that the body needs to excrete and not recirculate.

Oil Massage

Rubbing castor oil, poke root oil, or chickweed oil into your breast or lower pelvic tissue.  Fo your breasts use circular motions with sweeping movements up toward your armpit will not only allow you to do frequent breast exams, but will promote healthy tissue, and detoxification of cellular debris from the breast tissue into lymph nodes around the armpit.  On your lower pelvis use clockwise circles and a heat pack can be applied for 20-60 minutes to allow the oil to penetrate further. Do not ingest castor oil or poke root oil, they are toxic.

Eliminate Irritants & Triggers

Various studies and clinical protocols recommend eliminating or limiting caffeine, chocolate, dairy and wheat as these are all potential irritants to breast and reproductive tissues and/or common triggers of unhealthy inflammatory processes in the body. A minimum 3 month wash out without these foods in your diet can be amazing!

Consider lab testing:

Work with a natural health practitioner that can help recommend tests (such as the following) and interpret the results, that give more precise information about your body!

Organic Acids testing:  gives in depth insights into the integrity of the body’s detoxification system as well as a glimpse into nutrient statue, neurotransmitter balance, and adrenal balance.

A complete hormone profile which analyzes your cortisol rhythm throughout an entire day, as well as your levels of estradiol, progesterone, testosterone, and melatonin.  This gives a great foundational sense of hormone balance and the basic function of your Hypothalamic Pituitary Adrenal Axis (HPAA) which orchestrates hormone and thyroid function.

Other tests may also be appropriate, such as a Metabolic Assessment (liver function) or more specific hormone tests, or GI testing to identify any gut pathogens creating metabolic stress or toxins.

At the very least it is good to monitor Blood Chemistry panels for basic body functions like liver function and lipid levels.  Always bring these lab results to your natural health practitioner to review.

J Landry2018/12/14

WHICH SUPPLEMENTS ARE WORTH YOUR MONEY?

It seems, to me, that because people pay a lot of money for cars, but our bodies are given to us for free, people generally do not place the same value on pro-active health care as to the care of their automobile. We all know that packaged foods have all manner of additives, dyes, GMO’s and other substances that are not beneficial to our liver, kidneys, immune systems… yet that seems little to deter the average consumer from buying these things. What if the equivalent manner of junk were in gasoline ready to clog pumps and engines—people would not stand for it!

Let’s lay a couple ground rules first:

1. Supplements are just that, they are add-ons to a diet that emphasizes:

a. Proper Nutrition. This encompasses much more than just feeding yourself to meet your caloric needs or eating from the food pyramid. Your digestive system must have the enzymes and acids it need to digest food properly and fully absorb macro and micro nutrients. A huge topic these days are food sensitivities, lectins, phytochemicals, and avoidance of foods that compromise the integrity of the gut.  And the other huge topic of the day are foods that keep blood sugar stable. There will be more posts on these topics in the future…

b. Exercise. Gotta move our bodies to be healthy, excuses don’t create health.

c. Stress reduction and Mindfulness

d. Other Lifestyle modifications as needed.

Supplements cannot make up for neglect in the above areas. Making a habit of nourishing and taking care of one’s self is primary. Supplements are used to fill deficiencies, bolster genetic weaknesses, and support the healthy dietary and lifestyle we make.

2.   Not all supplements are worth buying or ingesting; they are definitely not created equal.

Education and research is important as this is a hugely profitable industry and unfortunately when profit is to be gained ethics are sometimes disregarded by parties looking for maximum gain.

My values are to support companies that guarantee their products are sustainably harvested from the wild or grown organically. Companies that have mad a commitment to non-GMO ingredients also are important to me as there are a lot of unanswered questions as to how GMO ingredients affect our bodies on a cellular level and soil and ecosystems on a landscape level.

a. Food based supplements often have a higher price tag but they are much more absorbable since we have all evolved with food substances and our bodies’ recognize these substances and absorb them quite easily. Often the quantity of food state nutrients are lower but do not fret as your body is absorbing these nutrients and not just diverting them out of your body!

Growing much of the food I consume in a year has made me very sensitive to the wonder of food—that a tiny seed can become a beautiful 12 pound head of cabbage or another seed aromatic medicinal roots. The sheer number of constituents in a simple piece of food and all the relationships—from soil web to plant defense chemicals that make up living substances (plant or animal) are staggering. This link lists the phytonutrients found in a simple head of cabbage—quite impressive!

Many supplements are made from synthetic lab components, most often derived from GMO corn. Our bodies do not readily recognize these substances and thus must work harder to absorb them.
Some  studies have even linked the use of synthetic supplements to increased health risks including death

3. Nutrient forms matter, look for these absorbable forms of these common nutrients on supplement labels:

Vitamin K

As Chris Kresser states in hig blog, “Vitamin K2 may be the most important vitamin most people have never heard of”. We are still learning the importance of this nutrient for healthy bones and cardiovascular system

Magnesium
Food state magnesium or

Magnesium: magnesium citrate, magnesium malate, or magnesium glycinate.

B Complex ( synergy of B vitamins together)
Food state coenzyme B Complex for maximizing those B vitamins! or
Methylcobalamin (B12) and Methylfolate (B9) as part of B complex

Zinc:
Food state zinc or
Chelated zincs--gluconate, picolinate, citrate, acetate, monomethionine, or zinc carnosine

Vitamin E
Food state vitamin E or
Vitamin E succinate

Vitamin C
Food state vitamin C

Vitamin D
Living in a place with little opportunity to let the sun soak into my skin I recommend liquid Vit D3 with K2 for optimal absorption and synergy of bone, immune, and cardiovascular health

4. Nutrients are synergistic, for example vitamins B6, magnesium and folate work together. Zinc and Copper levels are affected by one another. A quick search of the web just turned up this link explaining the interdependent relationship of vitamins and minerals.

5. My opinion as to the most important general nutrients for Alaskan women: B complex, magnesium, vitamin E, zinc and vitamin D3, K2. If you haven’t been tested for vitamin D do so today. There are increasing options for high quality food based supplements with the above nutrients. Complement this with a vitamin D3/K2 supplement while living in the North and you’ll have core nutrients. Other nutrients may be needed based on your family history, genetics and personal health history.

6. Most important foods for nutrition: berries, brassica family greens, wild fish… we are so fortunate to be surrounded by these things on our public lands, in our public waters, and in our gardens!


J Landry2018/02/18

Global CO2 affecting crop nutrient density and human metabolism?

I was just sent this article The Great Nutrient Collapse featured in Politico Magazine that brings together so much about what I am seeing clinically in human health.  Even people that are eating "healthy" are increasingly experiencing nutrient deficiencies, food sensitivities, metabolic disruption via glucose dysregulation and/or thyroid imbalances.  And I keep thinking, WHY??

Health professionals have been grappling to understand the causes and we end up generically saying it is seems that multiple factors are depleting human vitality and health as the our soils our crops in today have poorer nutrient profiles than in decades past, the introduction of GMO's to our food supply has uncertain ramifications, environmental toxins ranging from chemicals, plastics to mercury in our fish abound... inevitably unavoidable and affecting even the healthiest health puritans-- burdening our  bodies on a cellular response level and our overall detoxification capacity.

This article introduces a whole new idea:  that elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are changing the most basic metabolic functions of plants and essentially shifting plant based foods we grow today more towards the spectrum of "junk foods" with higher sugar content and lower nutrient profiles (ie protein, zinc, iron etc), than those of yesteryear, as a response to increasing carbon dioxide levels.

This is another disturbing insight into climate change perils and how all living things on this planet are so intricately intertwined.

My study of hydroponics has proven unsettling as "controlled environment urban farming" markets itself as the green wave of the future.. our destiny.  My take away however is that controlled indoor farming goes against the grain of nature and is thus more energy and resource intensive with its lights, climate control systems, heavy nutrient inputs, and purposeful carbon dioxide releases to increase crop production. The ideas presented in The Great Nutrient Collapse coalesce this thinking for me as increased production, sadly and inevitably has a price.

On a personal level it is important to keep eating vegetables and wild foods as they are still the most nutritious substances we can fortify our bodies with.  Knowing the source of your food is more important than ever, but not the end all solution. On an individual level maintaining the awareness that achieving optimal health may require herbs and/or supplement support regardless of how healthy one strives to be in today's world, seems our new reality.

When I started my health practice in 2004 the youthful vision I had was to motivate and support individuals to greater health so these effects could ripple out to the world beyond.  I have to say I feel at a loss to live up to this vision, but can only continue to support you and do the best I can...


J Landry2018/01/03

LECTINS & PLANT PARADOX:  FAD or NEW SCIENCE?

Even in my little rural Alaskan town, Plant Paradox by Stephen Gundry is making the rounds and conversations about it unavoidable.

People talking about what it means to eat healthy—this is wonderful!

Short on time and looking for answers this is a book written for pop culture, easy to read and high on anecdotes.

The strongest critiques of this book make the point that Gundry’s work thus far has not been peer reviewed, lacks scientific studies, he exaggerates, his facts aren’t facts, that the references he uses to make statements don’t match his claims, and his book and products are a marketing scam.

One example of such an opinion he presented late in the book and without any supporting evidence or other scientific research is that he doubts the existence of vitamin D toxicity.  This is certainly a departure of any medical wisdom (western or alternative), as I certainly advocate that people keep their vitamin D within a certain optimal range and limit dosing.

Anytime someone claims that their product or their way solves ALL problems such as Dr Gundry does, I feel a little toreador inside me waving red flags like mad!  I have yet to experience something in this world that is a panacea for everyone.

Yet, it is worth perusing this book and continuing this discussion on food; I find I respect much of what Dr. Gundry had to say.  Is he correct?   That is a different question, there is much more to learn about lectins (some lectins have anti-cancer properties and some lectin containing foods [peppers] have numerous health benefits).  In the meantime, anyone who is curious can put Dr Gundry’s diet can try it for themselves as he outlines his 3 phase program, meal plans and recipes all in the book.

In spite of all the advances of science, as a general public, we are still unclear how to do the simplest of things—nourish ourselves, and so make these drastic swings into the next diet revolution…

 Isn’t that incredible?!?

It’s humbling to realize that the more we think we know the more aware we become of the complexity of the matter.

The overall advice of this book to eat more leafy greens and (certain) vegetables, seaweeds, mushrooms, to choose healthy fats, decrease sugars and carbs, and that gluten is wreaking havoc on many people’s health – not exactly news for the health conscious.

The controversial areas of Dr Gundry’s assertions are that the fructose in fruits, lectins which are specific phytochemicals that are part of a plant’s defense mechanism in nature and that are found in whole grains, beans, some seeds, and vegetables such as nightshades and squashes are destroying many people’s health.  I wish he would have spent more time elaborating on the details of the criteria for his “yes” and “no” foods and the  as it does not always appear straightforward (for example berries are a limited food item with no discussion about it) and the physiological processes and science behind his clinical experience with patients.  Also, it is an over-simplification to make a list of yes and no foods for everyone-- for example, if you have a food intolerance to one or more of the foods on the "yes list" then these are aggravating symptoms and your health condition may not improve until those foods are eliminated too!  Overall Dr Gundry's dietary recommendations are similar to those I would recommend for people facing autoimmune type disorders.

Grains and Carbs – bad players?  Dr Gundry strongly recommends eliminating wheat and most grains.   This of course has been echoed by the Paleo community for some time.  Many people believe that the wheat, corn, and soy of today, which have been overbred and doused with pesticides for commercial purposes lack redeeming value in our diets.

Should we take grains out of our diet completely?  Should we only eat refined grains?  These are debated questions and have been for a while.  I have heard some practitioners say that wheat negatively effects every person’s gut by opening up the tight junctions in the colon, at least temporarily.   But this is another one of those assertions that is not proven truth (yet?).  However, if this is any truth in this, then we each perpetually need to make sure we are doing all we can to keep our guts healthy and prevent inflammation!  And gluten-free is not so simple, as Dr Gundry recommends against packaged gluten free foods as he asserts they often have harmful additives that are not required to be listed on the label.  He has a chapter devoted to thoughts on optimizing gastrointestinal health by avoiding 7 disruptors [antibiotics, NSAID, PPI & Acid Blocking pharmaceuticals, artificial sweeteners, GMOs, and the blue light of our electronic devices].

There is an increasingly large population reacting to grains with food sensitivities, allergies, and at the extreme Celiac disease.  The rise of these ailments does make it appear that something has changed in the grain itself, our bodies, and/or our bodies ability to process these foods. 

There is great research out there by intelligent medical professional proponents of whole grain diets—how do we square this with new ideas on limiting carbs?   There is plenty of science that support plant based diets and whole grains for health.  Well, I thought even Dr Gundry got a little squirrely on this issue mentioning that plant based diets have benefited folks because organic, unprocessed grains have a “lighter lectin load” than whole grain products (breads, pastas..etc).  Reminescent of Michael Pollen’s eat what your great grandparents would recognize as food.

I think we live in a very interesting time.  I certainly find that most people today do better when grains are removed from their diet, at least temporarily.  Is it because of lectins?  Is it because we have binged on these foods so thoroughly in a pervasive array of easy to eat and scrumptious grain based baked goods, cereals, desserts etc that they are now having their revenge on us?   Is it because of GMO genes in our grains and the increased use of chemicals like Roundup?  Is it because of the unavoidable matrix of environmental toxins that our bodies are overburdened to detoxify?  No one knows exactly what is going on:   likely there are many factors, and these are all theories the health conscious are talking about.

As we wrestle with the question of grains, we are at the same time learning more and more about the microbiome of our bodies—basically that bacteria support our existence, and we best have a diverse array of good bacteria creating a positive feedback loop of good health within us.  If your gut microbiome is harboring pathogenic bacteria, yeast, or parasites then you have organisms ready to feed and breed off sugars and carbs (especially if they aren’t being digested properly) creating and perpetuating a laundry list of health issues.  Can diet alone eliminate these pathogenic factors? Not in my experience, a combination of very strict diet and antimicrobial substances (herbal or pharmaceutical) are necessary as these invaders like to hide out.  And thus a place where I take a strong stand apart from Dr Gundry that his diet is not the sole solution to the problems which ail us.

Yes, limiting carbs can be extremely helpful for many people until the health of their gastrointestinal tract has been restored--and dear reader who is resistant to the idea that these unpleasant critters are in your gut-- it is more common than you want to acknowledge.

Nutrition is complex.  A recent, tangentially meaningful discovery is that Low FODMAP diets https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FODMAP (limiting dairy, fruit and certain vegetables) used by many people to alleviate gastrointestinal disorders should only be followed for a short time as over the long term it has a negative impact on our gut bacteria    The good news is that,  Dr Gundry’s “yes” vegetable list does include veggies that we recognize as feeding beneficial bacteria and promote overall gastrointestinal health.

As a long time user and fan of pressure cookers, I am pleased that Dr Gundry advocates pressure cooking beans and other foods as a way to greatly reduce lectins in some foods.  Pressure cookers make sense as they help keep nutrients from escaping as steam, save time and fossil fuel in cooking, and if they break down phytochemicals that prevent absorption or are possibly irritants to our guts (though only in some foods Dr Gundry warns) then that is an added bonus.  Sally Fallon’s recipe book Nourishing Traditions has a great recipe for fermented bean paste .  I was taught years ago that beans and grains should be soaked, somewhere between 12-72 hours and the water poured off, then cooked (best with seaweeds for increased nutrition) to destroy some of the phytochemicals that inhibit absorption.  The biggest problem is that this can be quite hard to put into practice as you must plan quite far in advance of your meal, but for beans there is a nice final product.  I think of this as a partial fermentation depending on the temperature of your soaking water and room where soaking.  Try doing this with grains, as was also suggested by my teachers, and you end up with what my husband termed “MOOSHey”!

Food is an interesting confluence of basic need, tradition, culture, ethics and philosophy. For myself, the Paleo diet is a contradiction—in a time of the greatest population on this planet how can we justify eating so high on the food chain?  It takes a lot of resources to bring meat products to market and we are living in a world that must come face to face with the limit of natural resources.  Do we keep ourselves healthy at the expense of poorer populations of today or future generations of tomorrow?

The most essential element of any dietary advice is whether it works for you!

Lets keep the discussion rolling.  There is always value in experimenting with what is right for you.  I highly recommend elimination diets to identify food triggers that are compromising your health.  Will a diet solve all your problems?  I come back to GI pathogen testing and diet together for a better holistic approach.


J Landry2017/11/30

Are PMS and Menopause Symptoms normal?

When working with new female clients it is not uncommon for a woman to look at me quizzically and ask, “you mean not every female has _______insert symptoms___ like mood swings, acne, pain, heavy menstrual flow,night sweats, hot flushes?

We all know we are each unique and our cycles differ, some women experiencing none or only mild symptoms while others experience severe symptoms. There is so much prattle in the media and our culture about women being "hormonal" that we have come to unquestioningly believe that menstrual cycles and menopause are encumbrances we must suffer through.

To make matters worse, we teach our young adolescent girls that this is the way their lives will be!  It makes me so sad to hear mothers recommend that their daughters take an over the counter pain reliever during their menstrual cycle to ease the discomfort-- this is not a life long solution!

Natural medicine has a different perspective on the numerous symptoms associated with menstruation, fertility, and menopause. Bloating, mood swings, breast tenderness, menstrual pain and/or irregularity, heavy flow, night sweats, hot flushes, acne, headaches...these are all flags that your body is out of alignment and a tune up is in order.

Different symptoms give clues to the most appropriate ways to re-balance your body.

Common Causative Factors of Hormonal Discomfort in Women:

  • Nutrient deficiencies
  • Digestive issues
  • Flawed messaging between glands
  • Inadequate or unbalanced ratios of hormones
  • Inadequate breakdown of metabolic byproducts
  • Stress

These are generally repairable over time with good nutrition, exercise, stress reduction, supplements and herbs.  Simple lab tests can be done from one's own home can further help pinpoint hormonal imbalances and provide more clear guidance to how one's life can be improved rather quickly.

First, is recognizing that, you need not suffer during your monthly cycles or daily during menopause. PMS, menstrual discomfort and menopause symptoms may be “common” but I would argue they need not be "normal".

Steller Botanical Health Jen Landry RH(AHG), Dipl ABT (NCCAOM), AOBTA-CP, FDN-P 1920 Gustavus Road Gustavus, Alaska 99826 907-209-6180