What is Leaky Gut?

I have recently been intrigued by all the talk of Leaky Gut Syndrome.  I see if popping up on my news feed & I have had a very brief discussion about it with my GP.  It seems that Leaky Gut is getting linked with many health issues as the culprit and many natural health pages and practitioners are starting to talk about this issue more and more.

So what exactly is Leaky Gut you may ask?  Well when we ask Dr Google we get a very generic explanation as below:

Leaky gut syndrome is a hypothetical, medically unrecognized condition. … Proponents claim that a “leaky gut” causes chronic inflammation throughout the body that results in a wide range of conditions, including chronic fatigue syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, migraines, multiple sclerosis, and autism

Now if you realized how they claim it is a “Hypothetical, Medically unrecognized condition”.  I personally do not believe that as it is being medically recognised by Doctors that have common sense and believe in total body health/gut dysbiosis.  I believe over the next few years it will be more and more recongnised BUT what is it exactly?  Dr Axe explains below:

Essentially, leaky gut syndrome (“intestinal hyperpermeability”) is condition that happens as a consequence of intestinal tight junction malfunction.

These “tight junctions” are the gateway between your intestines and what is allowed to pass into the blood stream.  Your tight junctions keep things out like toxins, microbes and undigested food particles.

But having leaky gut is essentially like having the gates broken from your intestines to your blood stream so many of these particles that should never have been able to enter have now gotten through.  When this happens it causes inflammation throughout your body leading to a variety of diseases.

What Health issues have been associated with Leaky Gut?

  • Acne
  • Allergies
  • Arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Autism
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Brain Fog
  • Celiac disease
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Eczema
  • Environmental illness
  • Food allergies
  • Headaches
  • Hormonal Imbalances
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Multiple food and chemical sensitivities
  • Memory Loss
  • Psoriasis
  • Schizophrenia
  • Thyroid Problems
  • Weight Issues
  • Lupus
  • Ulcerative colitis

I personally suspect that more conditions will come to surface over the years.

How do you get Leaky Gut?

There are a number of culprits here and I will just name a few.  The main ones are Stress, Toxins, Gut Flora, Antibiotic Use, Excessive Alcohol Consumption, Gluten, pathogenic bacteria, parasites and yeast.

So how do you get diagnosed and treated for Leaky Gut?  Diagnosis is very simple, your Doctor can do this and see if you are tender along your digestive area.  This is a quick indication but for more in depth testing and to see which bacteria you have exactly a stool test is recommended.  This will take some time to get the results but it is the most effective way to find out which bacteria you have and how to specifically treat it.

I personally have not done the stool test BUT it is the next test I will be doing as I have been struggling with my weight since giving birth to my daughter 5 years ago and I suspect Leaky Gut is the main culprit.

Treatment is a specific protocol that must be followed.  I believe you will have to eliminate all the culprits and remove all the bad stuff from your diet and add all goods stuff like probiotics & specific supplements to enhance and heal the gut.  I will go into more detail on this once I am on this treatment myself.

I believe we will be hearing more and more about Leaky Gut Syndrome in the future.  Gut health plays a very important part in our overall health and we should be mindful of what goes in our bodies so our bodies can support us the best way it can.

New Year, New Beginnings

Image result for new beginning quotes

Happy New Year to all! I hope 2017 is a great year for you filled with happiness & health.

This is my first blog for the 2017 & in a few months actually.  I have been quite busy with being a working mum/Entrepeneur & was left with little time to devote to my baby, Perimadness.  As the title suggests it is a new year & with a new year we have new beginnings.  I wanted to start 2017 with a positive note & to talk about how to start it off right.

When we go into a New Year a lot of people do New Years Resolutions.  They make a lot of promises to themselves that they will either quite smoking, drink less, get healthier or exercise more or whatever it maybe.  I personally don’t agree with New Years Resolutions & am not criticizing people who do it, but why wait for a Year to end to make something in your life better.

I think it is better to make a change in that moment of time, instead of waiting for a New Year to come in.  Instead of making a resolution, make a GOAL.  A lot of resolutions are made & then a few days later they are broken.  They are not followed through.  I believe it is because a lot of the time there is no real intention behind the resolution.

A GOAL on the other hand is something that you want to achieve & you put in steps daily to get to the end result.  So for example if your goal is to have a healthier lifestyle for 2017, then you will take daily steps to accomplish that.  It may be as small as having a piece of fruit daily.  Do this for 2 weeks & then it becomes a habit.  After a few weeks you may want to increase your intake of vegetables.  Again you do this daily to stick to your desired servings of vegetables a day & a few weeks later it becomes a habit.

The same for exercise.  Instead of going to the Gym & putting in an unrealistic program to stick to, why not build up slowly on a weekly basis to get to your desired GOAL.  It may be to start off slowly & then building up on your strength training or your cardio routines.  Working with a trainer is another great way to achieve a GOAL.

If going to a Gym is not for you, then you can always get a DVD workout to do at home.  Or incorporate walking into your daily schedule.  You can also download some great free workout apps on your phone & do these a few times a week on top of your daily routine.  Again the aim is small steps daily to get your desired GOAL.

Make small changes every day to get your desired result.  Every day is a new beginning so you have a new chance everyday.  Don’t look at the negative & beat yourself up because you didn’t stick to your plan.  Instead say to yourself I have another chance tomorrow another new beginning & just stick to it.  All you have to do is breath & start again.

Helen Papacostantinou

 

 

What Relaxes You?

Relax

What relaxes you?  How do you zone out?  Maybe you don’t and you have not realised it yet.  The truth is the modern woman is juggling a lot of hats and trying to keep everyone happy that she forgets about herself in the process.

You have to ask yourself, do you take time out for yourself?  If not, why?  As a mother, wife & business woman I often forget to take time out for myself.  I am often so busy with my family, keeping them all happy, making sure my business is running efficiently as well as my household, that I often make the mistake of not relaxing myself.  It is very easy to do but in Perimenopause it becomes a necessity to start looking after ourselves.  It is our wake up call! Our body is saying to us “Hey I need some attention here!”.

We neglect ourselves for so long until often it becomes too late.  Then we are forced to re evaluate our situation because then our health starts to suffer.  Don’t wait till it is too late to look after yourself & RELAX.

Some simple relaxation techniques 10 minutes a day is all you need.  Just find a quiet spot & breathe deeply.  Clear your mind of all the clatter and just relax and breathe.  Visualisation is a powerful relaxation technique.  I do it often.  I visualise that I am in an open field in nature with flowers surrounding me.  I then walk to a nearby waterfall & immerse myself in the cool water feeling the sun’s rays on my skin.  Wow! Don’t you feel more relaxed!  I sure do.

Other relaxation techniques may include massage.  Going even once a month is better than nothing.  Find a great masseuse in your local area & just switch off for an hour.  Let someone’s healing hands take all the pressure and knots out.  It does wonders for my mentally & physically.

Yoga is another great technique & you can do this everyday at home.  Just a few poses will suffice to help you wind down & forget about the stresses of your day.  You may even wish to join a class & do this once a week and then practise your poses at home on a daily basis.  It is important during perimenopause to do some form of gentle exercise & keep stretching.

Another method and this is my favourite is to have a bath.  Put some essential oils in the water and just have a nice relaxing soak. Water is great for soothing & healing.  You don’t have to go far, just in the comfort of your own home.

There are so many other things to relax us.  Going for walks, talking to our friends, even a weekly coffee catch up with a friend sitting in a part is great for the soul.  We get to have a conversation with our bestie & some Vitamin D.  2 birds 1 stone.

So the question is How Do You Zone Out?  If you don’t then it is time to start, even if it is 10 minutes a day of doing something that relaxes you.  You are so worth it and your body and mind will thank you for it.

Thyroid & Perimenopause

Image result for reverse t3

 

One of my first symptoms was hair loss.  Two months after the birth of my daughter, I started experiencing this.  At first I thought how strange that this was happening two months after birth & thought that it must be just related to this, but as time went on it did not stop.

I had long hair & I always had to tie it back as I was shedding like a cat!.  This went on for a good 8 months or so & I did not really know what the cause was.  After when I started looking into all my symptoms & I got properly diagnosed, I was told I had Reverse T3.  In other words I was hypothyroid.

I went to my GP to get more information on this & as usual shot me down & said “I have never heard such a thing”.  Tried to make me feel like it was all in my head & nothing wrong with me.  I started looking up what reverse T3 was so I could get a better understanding of it.

Even though I did the standard “TSH” (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) test it showed that my thyroid function was normal.  I soon realised that this test is quite redundant & does not pick up if you have a thyroid problem.  You have to do a full thyroid blood test, not just TSH but T3, T4 & reverse T3 dominance.  This then shows a more accurate result if you have a thyroid problem.

In my readings there is also a relationship between Thyroid issues & Perimenopause.  As below from “The Wisdom of Menopause” by Dr Northrup:

“Thyroid problems are intimately intertwined with perimenopause & menopause.  When oestrogen is not properly counterbalanced with progesterone, it can block the action of thyroid hormone.  Even though the thyroid is producing normal levels of the hormone, it is rendered ineffective & they symptoms of hypothyroidism appear”.

The best way to describe Reverse T3 dominance is below, I have included a link as it is quite technical & descriptive:

Reverse T3 (RT3) when normal thyroid treatment isn’t working

Some of the symptoms of Hypothyroidism are:

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Weight gain or increased difficulty losing weight
  • Coarse, dry hair
  • Dry, rough pale skin
  • Hair loss
  • Cold intolerance (you can’t tolerate cold temperatures like those around you)
  • Muscle cramps and frequent muscle aches
  • Constipation
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Memory loss
  • Abnormal menstrual cycles
  • Decreased libido

 

I am currently on slow release T3 which I get compounded & I have my thyroid checked every 8 months.  I can say that is has now improved but I am still on medication for this, but at least my hair is not falling out as much as it did a few years back.  Always a plus!

Side Effects of Low Progesterone

Now that we have established what progesterone is and what its functions are, let’s talk about low progesterone levels & how they effect us.

Once a woman hits mid thirties to early fourties, progesterone starts to decrease causing a deficiency. This will be one of the first signs or perimenopause before a woman even realises she is in it.  Our bodies are designed to have progesterone and oestrogen in total balance, once this is out of balance and progesterone is on the lower side then it results in an oestrogen dominance.

Another interesting fact is if you have a low thyroid function then low progesterone is very common cause of oestrogen dominance.

The symptoms of low progesterone are:

  • Premenstrual Migraine
  • PMS Symptoms
  • Irregular periods
  • Anxiety & Nervousness
  • Decreased Sex Drive
  • Mood Swings
  • Weight gain
  • Insomnia
  • Unstable blood sugar levels
  • Night sweats
  • Dizziness
  • Vertigo
  • Foggy thinking

The best way to check if your progesterone is low is to do a blood test on day 21, but please make sure your Doctor knows how to read a blood test result correctly and not rely on the labs “normal ranges”.  This is exactly what happened to me & I was told that I had no imbalance with my hormones and all was fine.  If doing a blood test specify that “free hormone levels” are to be checked.

I trusted my instinct and got an independent saliva test which apparently is more accurate than a blood test, as it checks the free hormone levels and this indeed confirmed that I was low in progesterone.

As a result of the outcome I sought treatment with IGP and on day 2-10 am on progesterone capsules to help with my anxiety & from day 10 – on set of period on Bio Identical Progesterone Cream.  I have just recently taken this down to a 5% cream on days 14 – on set of period as a higher does of 6% was making me have a very long cycle some 40 odd days.  Now this routine of 5% from day 14 has made me very regular with no spotting mid cycle & a 28 day cycle.

I hope this helps you!

What is Progesterone?

 

maxresdefault

Progesterone is a steroid and progestogen sex hormone involved in the menstrual cycle and pregnancy.  It is mainly secreted in the ovaries during the second half of the menstrual cycle.  It plays an important role in the menstrual cycle and to maintain the early stages of pregnancy.

During the menstrual cycle, when an egg is released from the ovary at ovulation(approximately day 14), the remnants of the ovarian follicle that enclosed the developing egg form a structure called the corpus luteum. This releases progesterone and, to a lesser extent, oestradial. The progesterone prepares the body for pregnancy in the event that the released egg is fertilised. If the egg is not fertilised, the corpus luteum breaks down, the production of progesterone falls and a new menstrual cycle begins.

If the egg is fertilised, progesterone stimulates the growth of blood vessels that supply the lining of the womb (endometrium) and stimulates glands in the endometrium to secrete nutrients that nourish the early embryo. Progesterone then prepares the tissue lining of the uterus to allow the fertilised egg to implant and helps to maintain the endometrium throughout pregnancy. During the early stages of pregnancy, progesterone is still produced by the corpus luteum and is essential for supporting the pregnancy and establishing the placenta.  Once the placenta is established, it then takes over progesterone production at around week 12 of pregnancy. During pregnancy, progesterone plays an important role in the development of the foetus; stimulates the growth of maternal breast tissue; prevents lactation; and strengthens the pelvic wall muscles in preparation for labour.  The level of progesterone in the body steadily rises throughout pregnancy until labour occurs and the baby is born.

If the egg is not fertilised and no embryo is conceived, the corpus luteum breaks down and the production of progesterone decreases. As the lining of the womb is no longer maintained by progesterone from the corpus luteum, it breaks away and menstrual bleeding occurs, marking the start of a new menstrual cycle.

Progesterone also affects brain function.  It produces a sense of calmness, & its sedating, anti-anxiety effect helps promote rejuvenating sleep.

It is a very important hormone known as the mood hormone & keeping it in balance in Perimenopause is very crucial.

Courtesy of “You & your hormones”, January 14 2015 & The Wisdom of Menopause page 146 (Dr Christiane Northrup)

Follow Up Visit to IGP

doctor image

My second appointment was 8 weeks later, in mid March 2014.   I still had so many questions to ask IGP.  I was still suffering from anxiety, lightheadedness, feeling faint & weak during my period & my fingers numbing.

The feeling weak & faint during my period was something I got over in time.  I am not exactly sure what caused it but I was subclinically low in iron & maybe with the loss of blood during menstruation it made me feel weak.  During this time I could not stand acupuncture & actually started having very adverse reactions to it, so I had to stop seeing my acupuncturist. I would feel faint while having acupuncture even though I was lying down, so I thought it best all together to stop it.

In the second visit with IGP the main issue we worked was my anxiety.  Since I still had 0.5% progesterone cream left we upped the dose to 5ml in the morning & evening.  This way we could get rid of the cream & then we could start upping the dose.  I also got a script for progesterone capsules that I had to get compounded.  I would start the progesterone capsules on Day 2 of my cycle.  This was to help with the anxiety & to calm me down, as I would feeling very anxious during this phase .

I also had to follow a low GI diet, as my blood sugar was slightly over the normal level.  So I had to start cutting out foods that were high GI.

I had another visit in June 2014 as I was going overseas on a holiday & the biggest reason why I started seeing IGP was I wanted to get my anxiety under control as there was no way I was going to spend 24 hours in a plane having a massive freak out.  My anxiety did start to get less & less, but we played around with the progesterone dose for a very long time.  Trying to regulate your hormones is not an overnight job & if some of you reading this want a quick fix & solution, well there is none.  It takes a lot of perseverance, determination, patience & courage.  I trusted IGP more than any doctor I had seen because they knew what they were talking about & I could start seeing the results.

The results do not happen overnight, they take time.  I was not expecting to see any changes for at least 6 months & I can honestly say that I did not feel “great” till after 12 months.  So in those 12 months we did blood tests regularly to see what my hormones were doing & how they were responding to progesterone & then we would increase the dose again.  I got to a 6% progesterone cream but found that it was actually making me very irregular & in the last 4 months I have gone back to a 5% & my periods have become regular again.  I was also taking my progesterone capsules from Day 2 – 10 & then starting progesterone cream on Day 10 to onstart of period.  This again was decided for anxiety & also as I was spotting in between cycles.  Now I take the capsule Day 2 – 10 & start the cream on Day 14 to onstart of my period, but the point I am trying to make here is that it took over 18 months to get to this stage & feel “normal” again.

I am now at a stage where I see IGP every 3 months.  My anxiety is under control & I feel like I have overcome the anxiety monster that was all consuming me.  I have some other issues that we are working on which I will go into detail another time.  If you want results it takes time & you have to trust your caregiver.  I got to a stage where I had no results or solutions & I sort them out myself & I am so glad that I did not listen to anyone & followed my gut instinct.  It is not an overnight solution but once you hit perimenopause it becomes a long road to recovery.

 

A Time of Wisdom

short-quotes-wise-wisdom

In the few books that I have read on Perimenopause it is described as a time of “Coming back to Self”.  What this means is after years of looking after other people, eg, family, young children, husband etc, you come back to looking after yourself.  At first it is not by choice & it did not resonate with me.  My family was still young & I was not an empty nester.  If I could I would still be in autopilot going on about my life but because of the big upheaval I experienced I had to make some changes.  I did not agree with a lot of the books I read & now I am starting to see things a lot differently & really believe it is a Time of Wisdom!

It is a time of big emotional, spiritual & physical change.  At first I really saw this whole experience as a negative because I had so many negative feelings & thoughts but now it has transformed into something positive & is driving me to become a better wife, mother, person & friend.  It has blossomed into a re birth of myself & making me become fiercer & to not take anything for granted.  It has changed my whole attitude to life!

Below is an short exert from “The Wisdom of Menopause” by Dr Christiane Northrup.

“During perimenopause, I lost patience.  I could feel a fiery volcano within me ready to burst. Little did I know that these bursts of irritability were the faint knocks of Menopausal Wisdom.  Research into physiological changes taking place in perimenopausal woman has revealed that in addition to the hormonal shift taking place in our bodies & our nervous system our brains are being rewired. Our thoughts are changing.  Women are directing more of their energies towards the world outside of home & family.  They are exploring, expressing creativity & tapping into their self esteem.”

I would never have imagined writing a blog as part of my process, but it has helped me & I am expressing my creativity which I have supressed for many years.  I am naturally a creative person but fear has held me back for many years.  I was afraid to express myself in many ways as I did not want to hurt anyone with my words, so I filtered myself for many years.  I was also afraid to be creative because of “What if”!!  Shock, Horror!!  “What if I run out of ideas?” “What if I can create anymore?” What if no one likes my work?”  Well I don’t care anymore.  I am not going to live my life to make you happy & I don’t care if you read this or not.  This is for me now.  This is my time & if this resonates with just 1 person than my mission has been achieved.  I feel the wisdom taking a hold.

So my parting message for you in this entry is don’t be afraid to try.  Do something that makes you happy.  Life is too short to be unhappy & not like what you do.  Find a passion & do it.  Believe in yourself.  Don’t hold back.  Even if it is doing a class once a week in something creative like drawing, painting or even dancing.  Let the creativity within you flow.  You will feel much happier & this is what it is all about.

Feeling a bit Anakin Skywalker!!

Anakin SkywalkerI normally don’t post about what I feel in the present moment as I have been trying to build up the content of the blog & post what I have been feeling & experiencing in the past & what lead me on this journey to blog about this part of my life. I have had a change of heart as I feel it is important not to put the good & positive on how I am feeling but also the bad & the negative even if it is present day.

We all have our good days & bad days & this is the point I want to make. For the first time in 18 months I am having a break from progesterone & I have stopped taking it for 7 days now. The reason for the break is that I was on progesterone cream for 41 days straight which is a very long time to take! When you are on progesterone therapy you have to take regular breaks & use it as your body would do naturally. I will talk more about progesterone in another blog entry, this is more to do with the effects I am now feeling.

Not only do I need a break as I have been taking it too long for a period of time but I also have no period! I had my last cycle 57 days ago. No I am not pregnant before you all state the obvious! The prolonged progesterone use probably has something to do with it & the higher dose which I started 2 months ago. Since the higher dose my cycle has gone longer, so IGP (Intergrative GP) decided I have a break.

So what are the results of the break, you may ask. Well the most obvious is the short fuse I am on. Wow 1 wrong move by anyone & I am ready to SNAP your head off!! The smallest thing will set me off. I noticed this just a couple of days off the cream.

Today has been the biggest test of all. I am very emotional & the fuse has become shorter. I am loosing my temper with my poor children who are not to blame & I also feel very negative. “What is the use” type feeling. Also feeling very defeated. I had a good cry & then thought to myself what is happening to me? Where the hell is all this shit feeling coming from? Then I realised that I am not on my “feel good hormone” anymore. That I am feeling hormonal. I am all over the shop. My children are not to blame! Or anyone else who is in the firing line.

I feel like Anakin Skywalker!! Part of me is being consumed by the dark side (the negativity, the short fuse) while the other part still has good in me (trying to get back to being calm & positive) So hence my analogy for the day….. Feeling a bit Anakin Skywalker!!

I know this will pass & won’t last, that it is again part of the journey. The good side will win again & peace will be restored to the galaxy!! Sorry can’t help myself…..

My first visit with Integrative GP

In early January 2014, I had my first appointment with the Integrative GP.  I will refer to them as “IGP”.  I did not know what to expect at this appointment but before I went I had a lot of paperwork to fill out that they sent me a few weeks prior in the mail.  It was basically about my medical history & what I had suffered from in the past & what I was currently suffering from.

On the day of the appointment I felt a bit nervous & of course I was suffering from dizziness which was becoming a strain on my everyday life.  I had already started the progesterone cream that the compounding pharmacist had recommended & the thyroid medication but had not seen tremendous results a month into this.  I took all my recent blood test results & results from the pharmacist as well.

Upon arrival at the IGP, the receptionist got all my paperwork ready & sent me to do a urine test.  They added some powder to it & were looking for something specific.  I got the all clear for that.  Then my moment arrived!  My one on one with the IGP.  My first appointment was for 1 hour.  I must admit I could not remember all my symptoms.  I told the IGP most of the stuff that I was experiencing but then they would question me on a few things based on the information I had sent in prior.  This would then trigger more information & symptoms that I had to relay.  IGP quizzed me a few times on my symptoms, saying you are not telling me everything.  There was so much to say I could not remember everything.

What really blew me away was when IGP was looking at my last blood test, they were pointing out all the deficiencies that I had.  How low my progesterone was when the last GP I saw told me all my hormones were within normal range.  Finally I had confirmation from a doctor of what I had suspected.  IGP told me I was in perimenopause!

The hour was over.  It went by quick, but I felt relieved.  Relieved that I finally found a doctor who took me seriously!  Who believed what I was saying, that finally understood & did not dismiss me.  I finally found the help I needed!  I left with a few prescriptions in hand & with quite a few supplements.  IGP increased my progesterone cream from 0.5% once a day which was what the pharmacist advised to twice daily, since I still had a lot of cream left.   I made another appointment for 8 weeks time.