Episode 27: Skin Health in Your Forties and Beyond with Dr. Jen Newell

In today’s episode, Dr. Lisa talks to Dr. Jen Newell, Naturopathic Doctor and founder of Connected Health and Skin. They discuss: how hormones affect our skin; why we get wrinkles, age spots and acne; the best ways to prevent premature aging; which foods, drinks, and supplements are good for your skin and which ones may harm it; and how to properly cleanse and moisturize.

Dr. Jen sought out a Naturopathic approach to skin health when she became dissatisfied with oral contraceptives, antibiotics and other conventional treatments for her own hormonal cystic acne and mild rosacea. Dr. Jen helps women overcome acne and other skin disorders to achieve a clear, radiant complexion, restored hormonal balance and renewed digestive function. 

In this episode, we cover:

  • How your skin changes due to hormonal and structural changes in perimenopause including:
    • Acne on chest, back, jawline or hairline
    • Age spots
    • Dryness
    • Wrinkles and aging
    • Thinning skin
  • How different hair products you use could cause inflammation and impact your skin health
  • Why daily mineral sunscreen use is a key component for maintaining skin health
  • Why it’s important to protect you skin from UVA rays that travel through windows
  • Why eating colourful fruit and vegetables is important for your skin
  • Why drinking too much coffee and alcohol is not great for your skin
  • Why you may want to drink more herbal tea like nettle, hibiscus, spearmint, licorice root
  • The biggest factors that impact how your skin will age, outside of genetics (hint: they start with the letter S – sugar, sun, smoking, stress)
  • How prescription medications like anti-depressants and insulin can impact your skin health
  • How antioxidant supplements, like: lycopene, CoQ10, astaxanthin, quercetin may benefit your skin and why you may want to talk to your Naturopathic Doctor about adding some into your regime
  • Why supplementing with biotin could be aggravating your acne
  • Which ingredients you may want to look for in your skin care products, like retinoids, vitamin C, green tea extract, niacinamide
  • Which skin care products are the most important to use
  • Why oil cleansing can help your skin health when you use it with another gentle cleanser
  • If it’s worth it to use a collagen supplement

Today’s Mama Must-Have: 

Dr. Jen cannot live without a creamy milk cleanser to keep her face feeling fresh and healthy

Dr. Lisa loves Consonant hand cream to protect and hydrate her hands with the extra hand washing and use of hand sanitizer

You can find and connect with Dr. Jen Newell at www.connectedhealthandskin.com and on Instagram @newellnd 

Visit the NaturalDermStore for healthy, evidence based natural skin care products. You can receive a 15% discount off your order using the code: Perimenopause. Reach out to them for help to find the right products for you.

Thank you for joining us today! 

Email us or connect with us on Facebook and Instagram. We’d love you to subscribe, leave us a review and a 5-star rating if you enjoyed this episode.

Please tell your perimenopausal mama friends about us, too!

Stay safe everyone!

Episode 26: Back to the Basics! 10 Simple (and Free) Tips That Can Make a World of Difference for Your Energy, Vitality, Hormone Balance and More

The majority of your health, energy and vitality is determined by the small, consistent habits that you incorporate daily. In this episode, Dr. Lisa and Dr. Toni “go back to the basics” and uncover 10 simple (and free!) things you can do to support energy, immunity, hormone balance, mood, digestion, disease prevention and more. Pick 1 or 2 health habits that resonate with you and that are easy to incorporate. Every little bit helps!

In this episode, we cover:

  • Deep breathing
  • Prioritizing sleep
  • Drinking water
  • Practicing Hydrotherapy
  • Adding fresh herbs and spices to your food
  • Eating more veggies
  • Getting in “exercise snacks” throughout the day
  • Connecting to nature
  • Practicing gratitude
  • Being a part of a community
  1. Deep Breathing
    • Dr. Lisa’s favourite technique is Box Breathing aka 4-4-4-4 Breath
    • This technique is simple and easy. You can notice benefits of box breathing even after 1-2 minutes
    • You can practice deep breathing while you are showering, working, walking, watching tv, driving or stressful transitions with your kids, like bedtime
    • It helps to reduce stress, anxiety, possibly blood pressure and cortisol
    • Boosts feeling of well being and ability to be calm and present
    • Dr. Toni’s enjoys repurposing the HypnoBirthing Calm Breath (inhale to count of 4, pause, exhale to count of 6-8) in addition to the HypnoBirthing guided relaxation track available on HypnoBirthing Institute website as a free download
  1. Prioritizing sleep – aim for about 7-8 hours
    • Sleep is essential for mental and emotional health, in addition to proper metabolism and immune system function
    • Give yourself permission to make sleep a priority over other things you could be doing – let yourself sleep!
    • Add in an afternoon nap if you need to (especially if you have little ones still napping) 
  2. Drinking Water 
    • Hydration first thing in morning can make a huge difference in your energy, reduce your frequency of headaches and migraines, improve your digestion function and bowel movements
    • You can increase the quality of your tap water by using a filtration system
    • Adding lemon or other citrus fruit can add in flavour and more benefits for your health: 
  • D-limonene is the essential oil found in the rind of citrus shown to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant anti-stress and anti-anxiety properties, plus in animal studies shown to reduce triglycerides, LDL cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure, protect against stomach ulcers
  1. Practicing Hydrotherapy aka “water therapy”
  • 30-60 seconds cold water spray at end of your shower
  • Boosts your alertness, energy and mood
  • Helps your skin and hair to have a healthy glow (flattens follicles)
  • Supports your immunity and circulation to our internal organs
  • May support your weight loss with the production of more brown fat that produces heat, increasing your metabolism and temperature
  • Reduces your muscle soreness and can speed up your recovery post-workout
  • Other hydrotherapy options include cold spray on your feet while waiting for shower water to warm up or wet warming socks at the first sign of a cold
  • You can check out the free mini-class online by Wim Hof with focus on breathing, cold showers and power of your mind
  1. Adding spices and fresh herbs to your food
  • Provides extra antioxidants for a quick and easy win for your health 
  • Cinnamon can lower your blood sugar level and reduce inflammation
  • Ginger – supports digestion, good for nausea (even in pregnancy), can reduce pain and inflammation associated with arthritis, migraines and menstrual cramps
    • Add cinnamon, nutmeg and ground ginger to your chia pudding, yogurt, oatmeal or smoothie in the morning
  • Oregano – antibacterial properties, helps prevent against damage to your DNA and cells, plus has nutrients like calcium, vitamin K, manganese, iron, tryptophan
    • Add oregano and thyme to pasta sauces
  • Turmeric-  used to reduce pain and inflammation for menstrual cramps, arthritis, may help to prevent against cancer and dementia
    • Add turmeric powder to hummus, baba ghanouj, scrambled eggs or omelettes with some black pepper and/or a bit of healthy fat)
  • Garlic – antimicrobial properties can help treat and prevent candida, fungus and other infections, support cardiovascular health
    • Enjoy roasted whole and spread on bread or crackers
    • Add garlic, parsley and cilantro to salad dressings with lemon juice, olive oil, coconut aminos, salt and pepper
    • Add dill to homemade coleslaw or salads
    • Add rosemary to barbequed meat to reduce advanced glycation end products (AGEs) and roasted veggies like squash, sweet potato and potatoes
  1. Eating more vegetables
  • Aim for at least 8 servings a day with a rainbow of colours
  • More variety of veggies provides more nutrients
  • Higher fruit and vegetable intake (5 servings or more) is linked to decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, especially:
    • Leafy greens like lettuce, spinach, swiss chard, mustard greens 
    • Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, bok choy and kale
  • Also provides more fibre for improved digestion, balanced blood sugar and can help prevent hypertension, diabetes, cancer
  • How can you get more in? Try one new veggie per week
    • Add spinach or greens to smoothies or “green eggs”
    • Switch out a serving of pasta, rice, bread for cauliflower rice, vegetable pasta or konjac noodles/rice
  • Research shows that intake of starchier vegetables like potatoes, corn, and peas were linked with more weight gain
  1. Getting in “exercise snacks” throughout the day
    • Great for switching up your emotional state, maintaining your muscle mass, your cardiovascular and lymphatic health, and spending time with your kids
    • Walking or running, outside or doing stairs or laps inside!
    • Indoor dance party in your living room
    • Set a timer to do some push ups, lunges and/or squats for 1-2 minutes every hour to reduce the amount of time you’re sitting during the day
  1. Connecting to Nature
    • calming, connects me with something bigger than myself and my little problems, simple as being mindful and observing the trees in the yard and the neighbourhood park, grateful to live with large pine trees in front and back yard
    • Aim for at least 20 minutes 2 times a week
    • Studies show getting outside can lower blood pressure and stress hormone levels while boosting mood and memory
    • Induces calm and relaxation by reducing rumination 
    • Can be done alone or with others (while physically distance as necessary)
    • Can include taking a nature walk in a park, forest bathing, sitting in your backyard or balcony, listening to nature sounds, looking at pictures of nature scenes or hugging trees (as they were urged to do in Iceland to help overcome social isolation
    • Doctors are starting to write prescriptions for getting out in nature
  1. Practicing gratitude
    • Research shows that grateful people experience less pain and depression, plus better sleep and self-esteem
    • Can be as simple as feeling thankful for hugs from family, connecting to family and friends online, summer weather, having time to listen to a podcast for new information or getting to drink your coffee or tea while it’s hot!
    • Gratitude practice can include a gratitude journal or mental review in the shower or in bed before sleep

“Where your attention goes, your energy flows”

  1. Being part of a community
    • Social isolation and loneliness has a bigger health impact than smoking on your risk for heart disease, stroke, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease
    • Reduces stress and anxiety
    • Options include:
      • Talking with friends and family over phone, WhatsApp or Zoom
      • Playing games with friends online
      • Online book clubs
      • Online groups like Mom Halo, Mamas and Co, Camp Hoo-ha, Business Networking International (BNI)
      • Volunteering 

Today’s Mama Must Have:

Dr. Toni is thankful to have Arnica homeopathic pellets and ointment to safely manage the inevitable falls, bumps and bruises that happen in daily life with a toddler. 

Dr. Lisa finds a real benefit from a gratitude journal and writing down what she’s grateful for in a regular ringed notebook from the dollar store. In the morning, she reflects on, and writes down: what would make today great; three amazing things that happened yesterday; plus people and opportunities that she’s grateful for.

Thank you for joining us today! 

Find the show notes at stephanies48.sg-host.com or connect with us on Facebook and Instagram. We’d love you to subscribe, leave us a review and a 5-star rating if you enjoyed this episode.

Please tell your perimenopausal mama friends about us, too!

Stay safe everyone!

Episode 25: A World of Grief – In Conversation with Dr. Aoife Earls

Many of us are in a state of grieving right now for: the life that we once knew; the loss of a loved one; the loss of a job; a lack of social connection; the end to a relationship; unrequited love… the list goes on and on. Today’s episode will open your eyes up to: the purpose of grieving; different types of grief; how to practice self-compassion; and how to embrace your own, individual grieving process. Dr. Aoife also shares some valuable tips on how to work through your grief using; rituals, physical movement, mementos, and by allowing yourself to find joy and new meaning during the process.

Dr. Toni talks all about grief with Dr. Aoife Earls, a Naturopathic Doctor practicing in Oakville, Ontario. Dr. Aoife has gone through her own, personal grieving process and has extensive undergraduate training in psychology and biology and postgraduate training in psychoneuroimmunology. 

In this episode, we cover:

  • Why you grieve to help your brain feel safe when you lose someone or something you feel attached to
  • Different types of grief you might be experiencing right now
    • Bereavement – death of a loved one
    • Collective – understanding of how we think the world should work
    • Ambiguous – leaving without saying goodbye or closure, for example with divorce, natural disasters like pandemic, losing relationships with co-workers after being laid off
    • Anticipatory – when a loved one is seriously or terminally ill
  • How your mind processes emotions in a non-linear way and grief can show up in different ways years after a loss
  • The difference between people who get stuck in their grieving process and people who move on with health (hint: it’s self-compassion, which includes self-love and self-care)
  • Different ways people experience grief, including
    • Feeling numb, anger, rage, sorrow, fear, despair
    • Needing connection vs. needing space
  • Rituals you can use to integrate grief and loss to: release, say goodbye, honour yourself and create a new story about yourself. Some rituals include:
    • Journaling and destroying your writing by ripping it up and flushing it down the toilet or burning it with fire
    • Meditation
    • Washing your hands
    • Taking a shower
    • Connecting with others online or outside with physical distancing during the pandemic
  • How grief acts like a stressor or fearful problem in the amygdala of your brain that creates physical symptoms
    • During the first 6 months of grief, there is a rise in cortisol, the stress hormone, resulting in:
      • The need to pull back to nurture
      • An Increase in heart rate and blood pressure
      • A heightened risk of heart attacks or other cardiovascularproblems
      • A weakened immune system
      • Digestive issues such as nausea and IBS
      • Headaches and body pain
      • Changes to your sleep, energy, mood and memory
  • How suppressed emotions from trauma and grief can get stuck in your physical body and that you may need to process and release them, physically (see the work of Peter Levine)
  • How connecting to genuine joy and finding a new meaning after loss is a step in the right direction and not something you need to feel guilty about
  • How experiencing joy and laughter shuts down sadness and activates the nervous system to rest and rejuvenate, creating more resilience and opportunity for healing
  • Why using mementos can help to: heal your brain; integrate the old you with the new you; and support a continued connection to your loved one or past life
  • How cortisol can impact your other hormones resulting in:
    • Sudden hormonal changes, such as triggering perimenopause or menopause
    • Night sweats and hot flashes
    • Shorter menstrual cycles and wonky periods
    • Weight gain

“Grief is like a door. Once you go through it, you can’t go back”

Get in touch with Dr. Aoife on her website and on Instagram at @draoifend and Facebook @DrAoife ND 

You can find more about Dr. Aoife’s work with grief at http://www.adaptableu.life/

Today’s Mama Must Have:

Dr. Toni recommends Dr. Kristin Neff’s online self-compassion guided meditations and exercises.

Thank you for joining us today! 

Find the show notes at stephanies48.sg-host.com or connect with us on Facebook and Instagram. We’d love you to subscribe, leave us a review and a 5-star rating if you enjoyed this episode.

Please tell your perimenopausal mama friends about us, too!

Stay safe everyone!

Episode 24: Tired and wired? What you need to know about stress, cortisol and your adrenal glands!

In today’s episode, Dr. Toni and Dr. Lisa discuss: the benefits of some stress in your life; how stress becomes toxic; and how it impacts your libido, energy, mood, memory, immunity and more. Discover how to test for stress hormone imbalances and what you can do about is using lifestyle changes, meditation, exercise, nutrition, herbs and more.

In this episode, we cover:

  • What stress is and why you need good stress
  • How your adrenal glands work
  • What cortisol, your main stress hormone, does in your body
  • How you can test your adrenal function
  • How you can decrease toxic stress and the negative impact of stress on your hormones and health

Why is stress important to talk about?

  • There are downstream effects in body from stress, including hormonal changes
  • Stress is related to up to 90% of all illness 
  • Chronic stress is linked to the six leading causes of death in the U.S.: heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver and suicide
  • More than 75 percent of all physician office visits in the U.S. are for stress-related ailments and complaints

Your ability to handle stress can be impacted by: events in your childhood; genetics; and tendencies and learned behaviours from your family and loved ones.

How Some Stress Can Serve Us In the Short-Term

Stress can be both physical and emotional. Not all stress is bad!

Why do you have stress? You need it to survive!

If you came across a predator like a bear in the wild, the fight or flight response (sympathetic nervous system response) kicks in the release of adrenalin and results in:

  • Heart rate and blood pressure increases
  • Blood vessels dilate to increase blood flow to large muscles (arms and legs)
  • Pupils dilate to see more clearly
  • Blood flow to your core organs of digestion is shut down since it’s not a priority
  • Reproduction and fertility is on hold so your energy is focused on immediate survival

Ideally, stress is temporary, allowing your stress hormones to go down and your body has time to recover and repair.

When Stress Becomes a Problem

Stress can become chronic when you are presented with one stressful situation after another and don’t have time to recover. It is important to note that it can be triggered by perceived threats or actual threats. Stress can build up and be too much for your system to handle, especially if you’re experiencing a combination from different sources like:

  • Being stuck in traffic
  • Running late for work
  • Doing a presentation at work
  • Not getting enough sleep
  • Managing kids and home life
  • Dealing with sick kids or ill parents

Good stress has positive effects in your body!

When stress is very temporary and you’re looking forward to something that gives you “butterflies” in your stomach, like going for a job interview, writing an exam or going on a date, it can be a good thing for your body!

Good stress can:

  • trigger feelings of reward in your brain after it is over 
  • support your immune system by increasing heat shock proteins 
  • increase your wound healing ability and effectiveness of vaccination
  • increase your resistance to infection and cancer
  • reduce inflammation and allergic reactions
  • boost your energy
  • support your productivity (to a point)
  • control your sleep-wake cycle
  • regulate blood pressure
  • manage how your body uses carbs, fats and protein

Sources of stress can include:

  • Mental (worry, anxiety, depression, past trauma)
  • Chemical (medications, heavy metals, toxic chemicals, mold exposure, chronic bacterial or viral infection)
  • Physical (dehydration, vitamin deficiency, fasting, pain, injury, structural misalignment, lack of sleep, time zone change)

What are your adrenal glands and what do they do?

Your adrenal glands are triangular-shaped glands located above your kidneys that produce your stress hormones: adrenaline and cortisol (among other hormones as well).

  • Cortisol reaches its’ maximum level 15 minutes after a stressful situation occurs and:
    • Increases gluconeogenesis (increases blood sugar levels breaking down glycogen in liver)
    • Decreases insulin sensitivity
    • Decreases growth hormone
    • Decreases T3 thyroid hormone
    • Decreases your immune system and inflammatory response
    • Increases fat and protein metabolism

3 phases of the stress response curve: 

  • Alarm phase – adrenalin increases then decreases after acute stress
  • Resistance phase – cortisol increases and stays high with longer term stress, like work or school deadlines, car accidents, illness or death of loved ones
    • Can have you feeling hot and wired with issues like: 
      • Too much nervous energy and unable to wind down 
      • Feeling warm or hot
      • Sweating at night
      • Different parts of your body feeling red and inflamed
      • High blood pressure
      • Weight gain in the mid-section
      • Needing caffeine or sugar to increase your energy and keep going 
      • Needing alcohol to unwind in evening
      • Getting sick as soon as you relax or go on vacation
  • Exhaustion phase – cortisol decreases as you get into burnout
    • Can have you feeling cold and tired with issues like:
      • Fatigue and exhaustion
      • Feeling weak
      • Get dizzy upon standing
      • Experiencing low blood sugar
      • Dark circles under the eyes
      • Tongue and face appear pale and puffy due to retaining water

Are you stuck in the Resistance phase of the stress response curve?

How do you make the “Resistance” phase of stress tolerable instead of toxic?

  • Chronic stress can be manageable with enough personal resources and support system
    • Tend and befriend
    • Spending more time feeling zen and relaxed in the spa in your mind (parasympathetic nervous system) instead of staying in the emergency room in your mind (sympathetic nervous system)
  • Toxic stress can happen when you don’t have personal resources and/or support system to deal with it and can result in:
    • uncertainty and feeling lack of control
    • physical and mental illness

Your normal daily/diurnal cortisol curve:

  • Cortisol is highest in morning in response to morning light, giving you energy to get up and take on the day
  • It decreases over the day and has an inverse relationship with melatonin (your sleep hormone)
  • If cortisol is high at night, then melatonin can’t be properly produced and released by pineal gland

The World Health Organization (WHO) is bringing attention to the problem of work-related stress. WHO is updating its definition of burnout in the new version of its handbook of diseases, the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) which will go into effect in January 2022. The WHO:

  • specifically ties burnout to “chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed”
  • defines burnout as “feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and reduced professional efficacy.”

Chronic toxic stress causes your brain to change! 

  • It shrinks your hippocampus and impairs memory
  • It weakens the connections in your prefrontal cortex (your rational self) to decrease your concentration, focus, impulse control, decision making ability, regulation of stress response
  • It increases activity in your amygdala resulting in more hypervigilance, more sensitivity and reactivity to stress (like a toddler having a tantrum)
  • It induces cerebrovascular changes and increases: neuro-inflammation, oxidative stress and blood brain barrier permeability resulting in brain fog, mood disorders and accelerated aging of your brain tissue.

Other negative health effects from chronic toxic stress include:

  • Weight gain in midsection
  • Blood sugar issues and increased risk of diabetes
  • IBS including gas, bloating, constipation and/or diarrhea
  • Reflux and heartburn
  • Muscle tension and headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Reduced immunity
  • Mood disorders
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Lower bone density
  • Accelerated aging

How are your hormones impacted by stress?

  • You need the appropriate amount of cortisol for your thyroid to work properly
  • If stress and cortisol levels are high, you can’t make enough of your other sex hormones like testosterone and progesterone causing:
    • Low libido
    • PMS, menstrual cramps, headaches/migraines, irregular cycles

How do you find out what is happening in your body?

Testing for stress hormone imbalances includes:

  • Orthostatic hypotension
  • Pupillary response
  • Questionnaires like Identi-T Stress Assessment
  • Lab tests for adrenal function
    • Urine – DUTCH and CHI testing for cortisol production and breakdown plus other hormones, multiple samples throughout the day (4 or 5 point testing)
    • Saliva – multiple samples throughout the day (4 or 5 point testing)
    • Blood – cortisol AM is of limited value, best for testing thyroid function

How do you keep stress tolerable instead of toxic? How can you prevent burnout?

  • Keep a regular daily routine
  • Sleep – aim for at least 7 hours, avoid screens at night, use blue-blocker glasses 
  • Get enough natural light and sunlight during the day
  • Get in the right types of exercise at the right time of day, avoiding over-exercising
  • Avoid unhealthy coping mechanisms like alcohol, caffeine, sugar
  • Stay hydrated and consider adding pinch of salt in water
  • Practice mindfulness, meditation and journaling to reduce: worry, negative thoughts and rumination
  • Get therapy or counselling from a psychologist or psychotherapist. Also, take advantage of the Government of Canada’s free online mental health portal, Wellness Together Canada, to access free online mental health resources and support, including access to therapy, apps, meditations and more.
  • Talk to your Naturopathic Doctor or licensed healthcare practitioner about taking supplements such as: vitamin C, B vitamins, magnesium, adrenal glandulars, and adaptogenic herbs like: Siberian ginseng, ashwagandha, rhodiola, holy basil, licorice, maca, reishi, cordyceps, shatavari, schisandra.
  • Get outside: walking in nature and practice “Forest Bathing”.

Today’s Mama Must Have – 

Dr. Toni enjoys Traditional Medicinal’s Stress Soother Tea to relax and get into the “spa” state of mind. 

Dr. Lisa likes Traditional Medicinal’s Chamomile with Lavender Tea, and their Lemon Balm Tea to wind down in the evening.

Thank you for joining us today! 

Find the show notes at stephanies48.sg-host.com or connect with us on Facebook and Instagram. We’d love you to subscribe, leave us a review and a 5-star rating if you enjoyed this episode.

Please tell your perimenopausal mama friends about us, too!

Stay safe everyone!