Episode 138: Top 5 Reasons Why You and Your Kids Need Iron

In this episode, Dr. Toni discusses why it’s so important for perimenopausal mamas and their kids to get enough iron. Iron deficiency is the most common micronutrient deficiency worldwide and is crucial for optimal energy, mental health, sleep and brain function. 

What is the Difference Between Iron Deficiency and Anemia?

Iron deficiency is a broad term and refers to low iron stores that do not meet the body’s iron requirements, regardless of whether anemia is present or not.

Iron deficiency anemia is when hemoglobin levels fall below the laboratory reference range. 

Iron deficiency without anemia is when iron storage falls below ideal levels, but anemia is not present. 

What are the Top 5 Reasons Why Iron is so Important?

  1. Reduce fatigue and increase energy
  • Iron helps move oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body and helps your muscles store and use oxygen
  1. Reduce heavy periods 
  •  low iron can impact your clotting and be a factor in your heavy periods, creating a vicious cycle
  1. Mental Health 
  • Being anemic can increase your risk of a mental health diagnosis and can increase your risk of experiencing an anxiety disorder, depression, psychotic disorders
  • Taking iron supplements if you’re anemic can reduce your risk of developing psychiatric disorders
  • Taking iron supplements of iron if you’re not anemic can decrease the risk of future mental health diagnoses
  • Anemic mothers were less responsive and had negative feelings towards their children than non-anemic mothers 
  • Low hemoglobin is associated with postpartum depression
  • Low ferritin is linked with more severe depressive and anxiety symptoms
  1. Brain and cognitive performance
  • Iron deficiency (with and without anemia) has been connected to poor cognitive performance in adolescents
  • Low maternal iron intake at the time of conception is associated with a greater risk of autism in the offspring 
  • Low iron intake during the second trimester has been shown to increase the risk of schizophrenia in the offspring by 30%
  • Infants born with low serum ferritin have been shown to have poorer recognition memory, poorer school performance, difficulty with planning and attention and a higher risk of cognitive and socio-emotional problems including anxiety and depression into young adulthood
  1. Sleep and restless legs
  • Being anemic can increase your risk of a mental health diagnosis and can increase your risk of experiencing a sleep disorder
  • Taking iron supplements if you’re anemic can reduce your risk of developing a sleep disorder
  • Restless Leg Syndrome is associated with low iron levels

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Iron Deficiency?

  • Pale skin
  • Fatigue
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Slowed growth and development
  • Poor appetite
  • Abnormally rapid breathing
  • Behavioral problems
  • Frequent infections
  • Unusual cravings for substances like ice, dirt, paint or starch

How can you Test your Iron Status?

Blood work can test for levels of:

  • hemoglobin (as part of the Complete Blood Count)
  • circulating iron and transferrin saturation – needs to be above 20%
  • ferritin (iron stores) – needs to be above 35

You can still be iron deficient if your levels of the above fall within the lab’s reference ranges!

How can you prevent iron deficiency in yourself and your kids?

  • Serve iron-rich foods – after beginning your baby on solids 
  • Don’t overdo milk
  • Enhancing absorption – with foods rich in acid like vitamin C (ascorbic acid), such as citrus fruits, cantaloupe, strawberries, bell pepper, tomatoes and dark green vegetables, or apple cider vinegar.
  • Consider iron supplementation – unfortunately, an iron-rich diet does not provide enough iron to correct iron deficiency or anemia
Food Source:Iron content (in mg Fe) per 100 g
Animal sources (bioavailability about 20%)
Liver (pork or veal)18
Dry beef9.8
Shells8.0
Egg yolk5.5
Beef fillet2.3
Trout2.0
Chicken0.7
Plant sources (bioavailability about 5%)
Wheat bran16.0
Sesame seeds14.6
Soy beans9.7
Lentils8.0
White beans7.0
Dried apricots5.2
Spinach (limited due to oxalate content)2.7
Whole grain bread2.4
Green beans1.0

Source: SPOG Pediatric Hematology Working Group

Today’s Mama Must Have:

Dr. Toni is a big fan of aloe gel to soothe the skin.

What’s Else is Happening?

Dr. Toni’s next HypnoBirthing session for expecting parents looking to decrease fear and anxiety to support their natural instincts around labour and birth is happening this fall. Join her at https://www.hypnobirthingcalgary.com/register

Join Dr. Lisa’s new Meetup group Wild Woman Adventures Toronto if you want to get out in nature, connect with other women and push yourself out of your comfort zone. Activities include: sunrise/sunset SUP, tree-top trekking, a new moon workshop and more!

Dr. Lisa’s Wild Collective in Fall 2022: get on the waitlist: wildcollectivetoronto.com

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.

You can also support us by visiting our Patreon page.

Please tell your perimenopausal mama friends about us, too!

Stay safe and healthy everyone!

Disclaimer: The information provided is not meant to replace treatment with a licensed health care practitioner. It is for informational purposes only. Consult with a Naturopathic Doctor or other licensed health care professional to determine which treatments are safe for you.

Episode 122: What is Perimenopause?

In this replay from December 2021, Dr. Lisa and Dr. Toni discuss all things perimenopause…what it is, what’s happening and how to test for it. Not sure if you’re in perimenopause or what is happening with your hormones? Experiencing hot flashes, irregular periods, mood swings and insomnia? Listen in!

What is the difference between menopause and perimenopause?

Menopause is when you have not had a menstrual period for 12 months.

Perimenopause is the transition period before you reach menopause and can last for 4 years, 8 years or longer. 

What is happening with your hormones in perimenopause?

Perimenopausal symptoms, as well as your hormones, can be unpredictable and might fluctuate throughout perimenopause:

  • You may get PMS symptoms some months, not others
  • You may get other menopausal symptoms some months and not others
  • Changes that can happen around perimenopause and menopause includes bone loss and osteoporosis, shifts in weight and metabolism, brain and mood changes
  • The most common symptoms you may experience include:
    • Insomnia
      • 30-60% of women experience in perimenopause
      • Research show correlations between plastic exposure and body care products and self-report insomnia (testing urinary phthalate levels – Hatcher 2020)
    • Fatigue
      • See more info about fatigue:
    • Depression and Anxiety
      • Up to 40% of women face depression or mood changes in perimenopause
    • Hot flashes
      • You can experience one of four patterns of hot flashes
        • Early onset, late onset, high frequency, low frequency
      • See more info about hot flashes: Episode 32
    • Irregular menstrual cycles and heavy bleeding

Your body’s normally predictable hormone cycle that happens over the month changes during perimenopause:

  • You might not ovulate every month or you might ovulate early
  • You have changes in your menstrual cycle length of 7 days or more (shorter or longer cycles) then have longer cycles and more skipped periods until you reach menopause 
  • Your estrogen levels can go up and down more than usual
  • Your progesterone levels tend to decrease overall
  • Your FSH level may elevate or fluctuate
  • Your stress hormone cortisol and thyroid hormones can be impacted 

Does every woman experience the transition from perimenopause to menopause the same way?

No!

You can have one of 4 different patterns of estrogen and 3 different patterns FSH levels, as well as different combinations of other symptoms at different stages of perimenopause. 

How can you tell if you are ovulating?

  • Monitor your basal body temperature (BBT)
  • Check your cervical fluid and cervical position

Perimenopausal Journal to track your symptoms and your menstrual cycle: https://www.cemcor.ca/sites/default/files/uploads/Daily_Perimenopause_Diary_with_treatments.pdf

Today’s Mama Must Have:

Dr. Lisa is a big fan of this paleo crepe recipe that Stuart also loves:

Dr. Toni loves seeing Frankie play with simple wooden blocks and hand-me-down Lego blocks

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!

You can also support us by visiting our Patreon page.

Stay safe and healthy everyone!

Disclaimer: The information provided in this presentation is not meant to replace treatment with a licensed health care practitioner. It is for informational purposes only. Consult with a Naturopathic Doctor or other licensed health care professional to determine which treatments are safe for you.

Episode 88: Exhausted, Gaining Weight and Forgetful – Is it Your Thyroid? (previously released as Episode 42)

We refer to this past episode from October 8, 2020 so often that we decided to re-release it! Is your thyroid the reason you are exhausted, depressed, constipated, forgetful and gaining weight? We discuss signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism, how to properly diagnose imbalances, how to eat to support thyroid health and how we approach assessment and treatment as Naturopathic Doctors.

One in eight women will develop thyroid disease at some point in their life and women are 5-8 times more likely than men to experience thyroid issues.

As Dr. Lisa shared previously in Episode 3, she realized that her thyroid wasn’t functioning properly after giving birth to her son. It is common for women to discover thyroid issues in the postpartum period. Proper blood work, addressing stress and taking dessicated thyroid were crucial for Dr. Lisa to feel her best. 

Why is your thyroid so important?

Your thyroid gland regulates your temperature, energy production and metabolism. When your thyroid is under functioning, it is called hypothyroidism. High thyroid function is called hyperthyroidism.

Symptoms of hypothyroidism include:

  • Fatigue and exhaustion
  • Unexplained weight gain
  • Increased sensitivity to cold and temperature changes
  • Constipation
  • Dry skin and thinning hair
  • Puffy face
  • Cravings for sugar and carbohydrates
  • Muscle weakness, aches, tenderness and stiffness
  • Pain, stiffness or swelling in your joints
  • Heavier than normal or irregular menstrual periods
  • Depression and anxiety
    • as many as 15% of women on antidepressants have an undetected thyroid problem as the cause of their depression 
  • Brain fog, poor memory and concentration
    • Studies of women in their 60s have shown that low thyroid function can cause dementia-like symptoms and treatment can improve cognitive function and have a protective effect on the brain
  • High cholesterol
  • Increased risk of heart attack, cardiac arrhythmias and congestive heart failure due to the regulatory control of the thyroid on heart rate and rhythm
  • Fertility issues, increased risk of miscarriage and preterm birth
  • Increased risk of prenatal and postpartum depression

Why do so many women have thyroid issues?

Possible Causes of Your Thyroid Issue Include:

  • Environmental exposure to different chemicals, xenoestrogens and heavy metals
  • Certain medications including birth control pill
  • Vitamin and mineral deficiencies
    • Iodine, selenium, vitamin D, zinc, iron, vitamin A
  • Low calorie diets
  • Infections
  • Stress
    • High cortisol levels due to chronic stress:
      • reduces thyroid hormone production
      • inhibits your conversion of the inactive form of thyroid hormone T4, to the active form T3
  • Gut issues
    • Leaky gut (also known as intestinal hyperpermeability) and imbalances in your gut microbiome have both been shown to impact hormone imbalances and fluctuations, like when you are postpartum or in perimenopause
  • Autoimmunity
    • Environmental toxins, chronic stress, nutritional insufficiencies, leaky gut, food intolerances and having chronic inflammation are all factors that can contribute to autoimmune disease
    • Your immune system is triggered to produce antibodies that can attack your thyroid, which is what is happening when you have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis

How do you properly test your thyroid function and the underlying causes of thyroid issues?

Blood work: 

Full thyroid panel: TSH, free T4 and T3, thyroid peroxidase antibodies, thyroglobulin antibodies, reverse T3

Vitamin D, iron

Celiac screen 

Gluten and other food sensitivity

Saliva and urine testing for hormones including cortisol, estrogen, progesterone

Urine testing for heavy metal exposure (eg. cadmium, mercury)

Temperature checks every 3 hours during the day to see if your body is using your thyroid hormones properly

What can you do about an underfunctioning thyroid?

Avoid raw goitrogenic foods – soy and Brassica family veggies like broccoli and cauliflower

Increase your intake of thyroid supporting foods 

  • Seaweed like dulse for iodine, brazil nuts for selenium, pumpkin seeds and oysters for zinc

Reduce toxin exposure

Replace nutrient deficiencies

Consider adrenal and stress support:

  • Address your throat chakra – speaking your truth, asking for help
  • Herbal support with ashwagandha, kelp, bladderwrack, Coleus forskohlii

Thyroid hormone replacement with Synthroid or Dessicated thyroid

  • Take in the morning, on an empty stomach, away from caffeine

Why would you consider dessicated thyroid?

  • If you’re on monotherapy like Synthroid (T4), you still night suffer from anxiety and depression even if your TSH levels are normal
  • T4 may not be enough to restore your T3 levels in your blood and target tissues
  • It contains all four natural thyroid hormones – T4, T3, T2, T1, plus iodine, thyroglobulin

Today’s Mama Must Have:

Dr. Toni loves having a healthy and easy recipe like Egg Muffins from Amanda Naturally that the whole family will eat for breakfast or a snack. Check out Episode 5 for more tips for healthy food habits from Amanda.

Dr. Lisa knows that Dessicated Thyroid is an absolute must have for her!

Thank you for joining us today! 

Connect with us at our website www.perimenopausalmamas.com, on Facebook and on 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 and healthy everyone!

Episode 87: Back to the Basics! 10 Simple (and Free) Tips That Can Make a World of Difference for Your Energy, Vitality, Hormone Balance and More

This episode was originally released on June 18, 2020. We had such great feedback on the tips provided that we decided to re-release it. Even if you had previously listened to this episode, it is still useful to listen again to be reminded how powerful simple daily habits can make a world of difference when it comes to your health. (Note: for the month of August, we are re-releasing some “oldies but goodies” – popular previously recorded episodes. We will go back to releasing new episodes in September 2021).

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!