Picky Eaters Unite!

juicing Calhoun Acupuncture

I don’t like vegetables. There. I’ve said it. I don’t know how or why this is true for me, but I have detested everything vegetable since I was a small child. This has led to some long-term difficulties for me, not the least of which was my mother’s exasperation with me a the dinner table in my childhood years!

I know intellectually that I should eat veggies. Green leafy vegetables protect you from diseases such as cancer and diverticulitis, many of them have more calcium than dairy, they have trace minerals and vitamins we need for optimal health, and on and on and on. But I just can’t stand them. I don’t even like the orange or red ones like carrots, beets, squashes, or pumpkins. And I don’t mean I just don’t like them. They gross me out and trigger a gag reflex that just isn’t pretty, especially at a holiday table set with candied yams, green beans, and buttered brussel sprouts. I can appreciate these things on a photographic, esthetic level, but then I need to leave the room!

Unfortunately, a life-long avoidance of vegetables has led to some life-long problems. For many years my diet was high in animal proteins, nuts, starches, and sugars. (And Diet Dr. Pepper. There was a lot of that too.) That diet triggered a lot of inflammation which showed up in my body as asthma, allergies, joint pain, weight gain, and what my polite Southern upbringing has taught me to refer to as “digestive dysfunction.”

So what’s the solution? If you don’t like vegetables either or if you have a picky eater at home, I have a couple of suggestions for you to help increase consumption of greens and other vegetables.

  • Disguise them. Put vegetables in a soup, puree them, chop them small and hide them in other foods. Speaking personally, put vegetables into anything you call “potato soup” and I’ll probably eat it.
  • Blend them. I’m a big fan of green smoothies. Blend 60% fruit with about 40% spinach or kale and drink up. There are a million recipes online to try. This is a great way to consume fruits and vegetables if you are a picky eater or have one in your life.
  • Juice them! This is my current favorite option. There are a lot of juicers on the market and a huge online contingent of Juice Geeks touting their favorite juicer and why this one is better than that one. But the important part is getting those veggies in your system when and how you can. I juice 3-4 carrots and an apple together several times a week and the results are amazing. The down-side of juicing is the compost that’s created, so get your compost going if you haven’t already.

The important thing here is to ingest those veggies. Get them fresh, get them organic. No amount of herbs or pharmaceuticals or supplements can take the place of these.

Cat Calhoun, L.Ac.

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Water, water everywhere and….and don’t drink from that plastic bottle!

Here we are in the throes of the annual hotter-than-Hades Texas summer when staying hydrated is more important than any other time of the year. I think we all know the dangers of poor hydration by now: increased fatigue, yawning and sleepiness despite getting enough sleep, increased risk of kidney stones and urinary tract infections, headaches, poor concentration, etc. Severe dehydration can even lead to a chemical imbalance in the body that can cascade all the way to death.

So what do the vast majority of Americans do when they feel the need to hydrate? They stop by the store for a bottle of water. We’ve all gotten the commercial message that bottled water is superior to tap water, a message that is largely untrue, but is nonetheless heeded.

Then along comes an e-mail or Facebook post about the dangers of bottled water. Have you seen one yet? There’s probably one in your inbox right now. The one that is making the rounds again this summer warns women not to leave their plastic water bottles in the car as this will release dioxin, a toxin which causes cancer. Sometimes this is advice is attributed to a doctor, sometimes there is a quote from Sheryl Crow allegedly from the Ellen Degeneres show about how drinking bottled water caused her breast cancer.

While a quick trip to Snopes.com will show you that this is an urban myth, there is some truth in the claim too. Plastics folks say plastic water bottles are safe, many scientists say no they aren’t. I’m not here to referee this debate, so I will point out that there are enough scary facts that are undisputed to make you think twice about buying bottled water.

  1. Heated plastics leach out chemicals.
    Plastics, when heated, can release some of the many chemicals that are used to create them. Dr. Rolf Halden from Johns Hopkins School of Public health says there are no dioxins in plastics, but confirms that plastics release chemicals when heated – this might be heating foods in plastic in the microwave or drinking hot liquids from straws that are not designed for exposure to heat. Both cause a heat extraction of chemicals which then transfer to your food or beverages.

    Any time you heat something the likelihood of pulling something out of what is heated increases. That’s why when you want a cup of tea you heat the water then pour it over the bag. Have you ever made “sun tea?” You put a whole bunch of tea bags in a jar you can seal, fill it with water and sit it out in the sun all day. That jar generally doesn’t get as hot as a plastic water bottle sitting in your car, yet out comes the tea.

  2. Cancer, endocrine dysfunction, and depression, oh my!
    Phthalates, often used to make plastic bottles less brittle, are contaminants which function much like hormones do. These can disrupt your endocrine system. This is dangerous for anyone, but in women it can promote the growth of hormone related tumors such as breast cancers.

    Antimony, which is found in PET plastic bottles, even in very small doses can cause depression and dizziness. In larger doses it can cause nausea, vomiting, and death.

  3. Plastic bottles are wildly inefficient.
    It takes 17 million barrels of oil to make the water bottles used in the US alone each year. For the record, that would fill up 1.3 million cars for a year.

    If you drink the recommended 8 glasses of water per day, filling up a glass at the tap in your kitchen you will drink about 49 cents worth of water. But if you buy it all in bottles? $1400 a year!Most sources agree that when you buy a liter of water it took 3 more liters to get the stuff into the bottle. You are in essence, wasting 75% of the water you used by purchasing water in a bottle.

So what is the solution?

  • Get a water filter and filter the water out of your tap.
    This improves the taste and pulls out contaminants that might be lurking in the tap water. Options abound – you can use a Britta type  pitcher to filter a liter or so at a time, or you can go for an under-sink filter. All of these do a respectable job of keeping your water clean and good tasting.
  • Tote your own!
    Spend a little bit to save a whole lot. Ideally, you want to get a stainless steel or glass bottle. Neither is as expensive as buying a weeks’ worth of bottled water, both clean up easily, and both are free of taste and smell.Stainless steel will set you back about $20. I carry a Kleen Kanteen stainless steel bottle that serves me well. You can get flip tops for them now that are far easier than unscrewing the bottle each time you want a drink. This makes it more likely that you will hydrate yourself and stay healthier.

    Glass is more fragile, but you can now get bottles with silicone sleeves that help protect against bumps and breaks. Lifefactory makes a bottle like this which is currently available at Whole Foods.

  • Get a filtered water bottle
    Spend a lot of time away from your house and need to be able to drink more than you can carry? Camelbak now makes a stainless steel Eddy bottle with a built-in changeable filter that sells for about $25.

    http://www.camelbak.com/Sports-Recreation/Bottles/2012-eddy-Stainless-7L.aspx

Even if you have to spend a little to ditch the plastic bottle habit, you’re about to save more than $1300 per year. That’s like getting a $100/month raise!

Now that I have just saved you a ton of money and maybe even your health, why not schedule an appointment to come see me, improve your health, your energy, and your ability to get back out there with your new water bottle and have fun!

Call 512-619-5549 for an appointment or book online!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=en4XzfR0FE8

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After the disaster

Last year early in the fall I sat on a hill in Austin, Texas and wept watching the entire eastern sky turn a deep black as the fire in Bastrop County raged in uncontrollable fury 30 miles away. When the sun slipped below the horizon I could see the flames from this massive maelstrom of heat reflected angrily in the clouds of smoke that filled my field of vision. The fire burned for a month without relenting, claiming over 34,000 acres. Over 1600 people lost their homes. I will probably never forget this. Even as I write this it is hard to keep from crying, remembering the horror, shock, and sorrow on the faces of people who lived it, people who lost everything, often including pets, homes, and livestock.

After the disaster I treated a number of people who survived the fires. Many of them had nightmares,  both sleeping and waking, experiencing recurrent memories from which they couldn’t look away. Hurricane Katrina had a similar effect. Even now, seven years later,  I see people in my practice who are still shaking with the wind that battered New Orleans. Some of these people have alcohol and drug problems accumulated in an effort to deal with what happened to them.

The common thread between these two disasters is post traumatic stress disorder (or PTSD). PTSD is a type of anxiety disorder that can occur when a person experiences or even witnesses a shocking or terrifying event of any kind. The folks at risk for developing PTSD include but aren’t limited to:

  • Survivors of war, both soldiers and civilians in the path of war
  • Survivors of hurricanes and other natural disasters
  • Anyone who as been sexually or physically assaulted
  • People who have survived abuse (child abuse, domestic violence of all kinds, religious abuse, etc.),
  • People who have been incarcerated in prison
  • Emergency service and rescue workers
  • Anyone who has experienced the unexpected death of a loved one

Even families of these people and counselors can develop a form of PTSD called secondary PTSD which results from listening to and helping people recover from trauma.

Do you have it?

There is no specific test for PTSD, but if you have lived through or witnessed a traumatic event and find that you recurrent symptoms such as the ones below for more than 30 days, then you just might. If you have these symptoms but it’s been less than 30 days, then the acronym changes to ASD (acute stress disorder), but it is no less disabling. PTSD and ASD include both physical and mental/emotional symptoms, many of which are listed below.

Mental and emotional symptoms fall into 3 main categories.

  • Reliving
    Many people keep reliving the event, which disturbs daily activity and can be paralyzing. Your brain generates the same chemical fight/flight signals during the reliving of the event than it did when the event or events occurred, so it’s as if you keep experiencing the trauma over and over again.Reliving includes flashback episodes in which the event seems to be occurring again, repeated upsetting memories of the traumatic event/s, nightmares, and strong emotional reactions to situations that remind you in some way of the trauma or  event.
  • Avoidance
    Avoidance is a way of dodging the memories – a sort of “just don’t think about it” tactic. “Numbing out” is one way of doing this. This refers to feeling like you just don’t care about anything at all or feeling detached from life or activities you usually enjoy. Sometimes the mind just blocks the event or part of the event out so that you can’t remember important aspects of the trauma you experienced. If you feel as if you have no future or you find yourself avoiding places, thoughts, or people who remind you of the traumatic event or events, this too is a sign of avoidance.In the longer term, avoidance can lead to a chemical form of numbing out through the use of alcohol or drugs, leading to alcoholism or drug abuse. Depression is a very real problem too, as the feeling of having no future or a sense of helplessness against the memories lingers.
  • Arousal
    Hypervigilance is a feeling that you are more aware of your surroundings and what is going on than normal. It’s as if you are always “on guard” and can’t relax. This can lead to irritability and sudden outbursts of anger. You or others around you might notice an exaggerated response to things that startle you or annoy you. You might also be aware that you are startled more easily and have trouble sleeping.

Physical symptoms such as agitation, dizziness, fainting, feeling your heart beating in your chest (also called palpitations) and recurrent headaches are also common for people with PTSD. You might also feel a sense of guilt over having survived trauma such as war or a disaster, or you might feel as if you generated the event if you are a survivor of abuse or rape.

So is this all in your head? Yes and no. “No,” in that this is not in your imagination. “Yes” because there really are physical responses occurring in your head, specifically in your brain. There are several parts of your brain that seem to be involved when you suffer from PTSD. One is the amygdala, the part of the brain in which your fear and fight/flight responses are generated. Once the amygdala is in “go” mode the fight/flight responses stay on, hence the hypervigilance. This is also the part of your brain that triggers the stress hormone, cortisol. The hormone keeps flowing as long as you are in stress mode, which in the case of PTSD is basically always. The hippocampus controls long-term memory and your ability to navigate through the world. The excess cortisol produced by the triggers from the amygdala will actually shrink the hippocampus, impairing your ability to store and recall emotional content, which is why some people have all of the stress but can’t remember significant parts of the trauma.

So what do you do about it?

Identifying whether or not you have PTSD or ASD is just the first step to recovering from it. There is a pervasive idea in western culture that there is some kind of cure-all pill or surgery for every condition. While you might alleviate some of the more debilitating symptoms of PTSD by taking anti-depressant or anti-anxiety medications, there are other ways to get relief without the side effects of drugs and actually heal the disorder. True, if the condition is so debilitating that you can no longer function, you may need to start with medication to take the raw sharp edges off of the pain, but please consider these other options. And bear in mind that most physical, mental and emotional challenges respond better to multiple forms of therapy than just to one.

  • Acupuncture
    A great deal of research and testing has been focused on using acupuncture for both battlefield and domestic trauma. Acupuncture can shift blood chemistry by signaling the brain to shift from the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) to the parasympathetic nervous system, a restful mode which promotes relaxation and stimulates the healing systems in the body. This gives instant relief from the stress reactions which keep the body in a hypervigilant state. In 2007 Dr. Michael Hollifield at the University of New Mexico performed a study on this very subject and found that acupuncture provided an effectiveness similar to that of cognitive behavioral therapy.
  • Energy therapies
    Energy therapies include Reiki, Qigong, EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), Therapeutic Touch and more. These methods work with the energetic body, providing calming and a sense of ease. Energetic therapies are used by the US military to help heal battle trauma and PTSD, allowing soldiers to return to their units if they choose. Energetic medicine gives people affected by PTSD the tools to shift out of fight/flight and into a calmer state of mind, thus changing the body chemistry, shutting of the shower of cortisol, and allowing the body and mind to relax and heal.
  • Herbal therapies
    Herbs are a more natural and less processed form of medicine  which can calm the mind and body without the side effects associated with drugs. Many herbs are also food, and indeed food therapy can have a definite effect on state of mind and body.

These are just a few of the therapies available to people who suffer from PTSD. Others include exercise, cognitive and talk therapies, and more. If you or someone you love suffers from PTSD, give me a call (512-619-5549). Acupuncture is a great first step for many people, opening the door to healing and a return to a peaceful life.

June is National PTSD Awareness Month. For the month of June, treatment for PTSD is 20% off at Calhoun Acupuncture. I offer package deals too which can help make treatment more affordable.

Health and happiness,

Cat Calhoun, L.Ac.

Resources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001923/

http://www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/guide/post-traumatic-stress-disorder

http://www.ptsd.va.gov/about/ptsd-awareness/ptsd_awareness_month.asp

http://www.helpguide.org/mental/post_traumatic_stress_disorder_symptoms_treatment.htm

http://www.acuwithoutborders.org/

http://www.statesman.com/news/local/military-tries-acupuncture-to-treat-troops-for-ptsd-757786.html

http://www.naturalnews.com/032174_PTSD_acupuncture.html

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17568299

http://www.va.gov/VATAP/docs/CAMPTSD2009.pdf

http://ptsdlove.blogspot.com/

http://fightingptsd.wordpress.com/2012/05/24/10-common-misconceptions-about-ptsd-2/

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Filed under Brain Health, Mental and emotional health, PTSD, Trauma

The Great Agave Nectar Debate

Last Thursday afternoon in the sweeteners aisle at Whole Foods a mighty heated debate raged over the angelic and demonic qualities of pure cane sugar, high fructose corn syrup, agave nectar, and stevia. It was a near argument and very entertaining. I walked away from it smiling and shaking my head over the “hipsterness” of the whole conversation because, seriously, you probably wouldn’t hear anything like this in Randalls, Kroger, or Safeway. Yet the conversation did get me thinking about my own relationship to sweeteners and what might really be the best choice.

I think we’re all clear by now that excess sugar in your diet is bad for you, causing all sorts of health problems ranging from dental decay to obesity and diabetes. So seriously…what can you indulge in once in a while that isn’t horrible for you? What’s life without sweetness after all?

I have been a dedicated agave fan for a number of years because it’s sweet like honey without the honey flavor and because of it’s low glycemic qualities, but some people think it’s awful stuff. This prompted me to educate myself. I started by looking at the label on my bottle of agave syrup, shown left. I can see the words “wholesome,” “organic,” “raw,” “low glycemic,” and “gluten free.” No wonder I bought it. But that’s just labeling and I don’t trust labels: they are mostly about getting you to reach for the product rather than telling you the truth. That’s a harsh reality, but it’s largely true.

So what about agave nectar? I knew it was made from the agave plant which has long been associated with healing properties. I knew it came from Mexico. I assumed it was healthy and an old school native sweetener. Well, as it turns out all of that is kind of true….kind of. There’s more to the story though.

Here is what is true:

  • Agave nectar does indeed come from the blue agave plant.
  • Blue agave really is grown in Mexico in volcanic soil or in the southwestern U.S.

Now the story starts falling apart. Here’s the bad stuff that isn’t publicized

  • There really is a sweetener made from the agave plant, but it’s not agave nectar
    The blue agave plant leaves are cut away from the central core, called a piña. The piñas are baked or steamed to get the sweet liquid out of the core. This sweet goo is indeed a sweetener that is native to the region of Tequila, Mexico. It called miel de agave, or agave honey. But this is not agave nectar.
  • Agave nectar is made from the root bulb which is high in a complex carbohydrate called inulin – basically a whole lot of fructose molecules. The sweet stuff isn’t as easy to get to here as it is in the piña. Agave nectar producers use a chemical soup to extract the sweet stuff out. When was the last time you went to the grocery store to purchase cationic or ionic resins, sulfuric or hydrofluoric acid, dicalite, clarimex, inulin enzymes, or fructozyme? What is this stuff? These are just some of the chemicals that are used to make agave nectar.

Much to my disappointment, I found that this is a highly processed sweetener. According to Dr. Ingrid Kohlstadt, from the American College of Nutrition (also an associate faculty member at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health), “Agave is almost all fructose, a highly processed sugar with great marketing.” What a bummer. Another bummer is that it’s just not great for your health. Putting aside that the consumption of sugars and fructose is what is causing our teeth to rot, our bellies to get fat, and giving us type 2 diabetes at an alarming rate, the consumption of processed food is a killer as well.

So what do you do? Pick a sweetener that isn’t highly processed. This would be a food you could reasonably grow, harvest, and process yourself without chemicals, enzymes, or expensive specialized machinery. I’ll give you a list of better alternatives, but you’ve got to use your head about this – even the items listed below can be heavily processed. Make your choices wisely, read the labels knowing that the truth is often hidden from you in favor of getting into your pocket, and research the companies you buy from well.

Better sweetener alternatives that you could make in your kitchen if you wanted to and therefore better than processed anythings:

  • Stevia
    This one comes with a caveat. The white powdered stuff you buy in the store? That’s been super processed. Stay away from it. I’m talking about growing your own stevia plant on your patio or in your garden or getting it from the farmer’s market. Stevia is sweet to the tongue, but no sugar molecules are transferred into your system. Win! Use fresh or dried leaves in your tea. You can also make your own stevia extract using vodka and you can use that in your beverages, chocolate milk, coffee, even barbecue sauce. Good stuff.
  • Coconut palm sugar
    Minimally processed and you can use it where you would use granulated sugar.
  • Maple syrup
    Not the processed stuff, the organic tapped out of the tree stuff.
  • Miel de agave
    Hard to find unless you are in the Southwest, but it can be done.
  • Honey
    Make sure it’s raw and local for the best benefit. Supposed to be great to help you build up immunity to local allergies, but it has to be sourced pretty close to where you live.
  • Sorghum syrup
  • Sucunat or Muscovado
    This is granulated and works well as a sugar replacement in recipes too.

You’ll note that there is no mention of turbinado sugar, truvia, xylitol or erythritol above. All of these are processed, some more heavily than others. Stay far away if you can. You’ll also notice that the theme here is that less processed is better. Make your choices wisely. Mother Nature’s kitchen always trumps the processing plant when it comes to your health.

Wishing you happiness and health,

Cat Calhoun, L.Ac.

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Summer Tuneup and De-Stress

Welcome to summer (almost)!

This is a busy time in Austin: you probably have kids graduating from high school or college, kids getting out of school and going to summer camps, vacations to plan, weddings to attend, and more outdoor activities than you can go to even if you had every day free and all the money you’d ever need. This is supposed to be fun season, yet for adults it can be the beginning of a whole lot of stress and enough items on your to-do list to overwhelm an overly caffeinated Type A personality.

With all of that on your plate how do you cope? You could hire someone to do it all for you, but most of us don’t have those kinds of resources. I’ve got an even better solution: take a little time out for yourself to de-stress and rejuvenate so you can conquer the world. It’s simple to say that, but most of us are not trained in how to let go and take care of ourselves, nor does our culture even encourage us to do so. But it is absolutely vital to our bodies, our mental state, and to our families that we do just that.

Here’s why:

  1. Stress is a killer.
    Sure it goes by other names: cancer, heart attack, diabetes, arterial sclerosis, obesity, stomach ulcers, adrenal fatigue, etc. but stress is a huge contributor to all of these physical problems. Stress triggers a flood of chemical changes in our bodies that are linked to all of the problems listed above and more.  Want more information about what stress can do to you? Check out Stress: Portrait of a Killer.
  1. Stress is linked to all kinds of psychological and emotional problems too.
    Anxiety, depression, and insomnia are all linked to and triggered by stress. Most of us are under a constant level of stress that never decreases. Why? Because most of us are never taught how or why we need to decrease it.
  1. Stress affects our relationships.
    Ask any couple who has had problems in their relationship why they had problems and most of the answers you hear will be about money, sex, work, kids, or housework. What it really comes down to is stress: stress about having enough money, stress about not having enough time or desire for sex, stress about kids (fill in any number of options here), stress about working too much or not enough, stress about getting everything done in the house.

OK. So now you know why you should. How do you do it? Here are 3 simple ways:

  1. Get body work!
    It only takes an hour and will give you long term benefits. Acupuncture is a proven way to de-stress andimprove your health at the same time. I’m great at this. You can read testimonials here. You can book online or call me at 512-619-5549.I’ll customize a treatment just for you. Acupuncture relaxes and un-stresses you, changing your body chemistry, improving digestion, energy, and your ability to heal from the damage that stress does to you. I will give you some simply relaxation tools to take away with you so you can help heal yourself.
  1. Go for a swim.
    Water is a great way to wash your cares away. Barton Springs Pool, Deep Eddy, or your local pool are great for this. Want to do it for free? Go to Big Stacy Pool. Go by yourself or with friends if you can. Leave the kids at camp, at summer school, or with your mom. You need time for yourself and you need time to have fun.
  1. Take a yoga or qigong class.
    If you live in Austin haven’t driven by at least one yoga studio this week I would be surprised. There are tons of options and many by-donation classes available.Qigong is a little harder to come by, but very valuable. I can help you with this too.Qigong is something you can do for yourself anywhere you are. I can teach you simple Qigong for de-stress and healing – call me at 512-619-5549.

Learning to lower your stress gives you the resources to be a better partner, parent, and friend. You can’t take care of the world around you if you have no resources to draw upon!

Wishing you health, happiness, and prosperity,
Cat

Just in case you’re still reading, click here to get an unadvertised special savings on appointments booked between 5/23/2012 and 6/6/2012. Book an appointment, print the coupon and bring it with you to get a $5 discount on any treatment you get in this date range.

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But I’m too young for hot flashes!

When I was growing up and becoming an adult I associated menopausal symptoms with women in their mid 40’s. That’s about the time my aunts and older cousins (it’s a big family, folks) began to fan themselves when I thought the temperature in the room was just fine.  And right on target when I was 45 I had my first “power surge” hot flash that started on my arms, thighs and back and then spread all over. I felt like I’d stepped into a microwave. That’s about the time I learned to appreciate that big refrigerated room in CostCo with all of the vegetables in it, the one I affectionately refer to as ‘my hot flash room.’

What I didn’t know was that this train had been bearing down on me for years. Perimenopause, the years before you hit the technical definition of menopause, can happen 10+ years prior to menopause. But no one talked about it: not my family, my doctor, or my friends. Maybe it’s because none of us were really aware it was happening. I was 35 years old when I started experiencing some serious mood swings. I could go from zero to angry Amazon warrior queen then crumple into a pile of tears in 20 seconds or less. My mother commented that I acted like a woman in menopause and I needed to get a grip. I was exhausted all the time and was gaining about five pounds a year I just couldn’t shed no matter what I did. My doctor suggested prozac, wellbutrin, diet pills (speed, basically) and a host of other pharmaceuticals.

What was really happening? Hormonal shifts and imbalances. See if these symptoms sound familiar:

  • Irritability
  • Depressed mood or sadness
  • Weight gain, especially around the middle
  • Fuzzy thinking or “brain fog”
  • Feeling overwhelmed, confused, or just not like yourself
  • Anxiety
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Irregular periods
  • Heart palpitations
  • Achy stiff joints
  • Less interest in sex
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Cravings for sweets or alcohol
  • Yeast infections or urinary tract infections
  • Bouts of gas, bloating and/or diarrhea
  • Hair or skin is getting dry, fragile or brittle

If any of these sound like you, what do you do about these things? Don’t just suffer through it. This is your body’s way of telling you something is off kilter. You can do a lot to help balance your hormones even after you start experiencing symptoms. My recommendations:

  • Educate yourself.
    Find out all you can about your hormones and how to balance them. Read Ann Louise Gittleman’s book, Before the Change: Taking Charge of Perimenopause. If you can’t afford it or want more information after you’ve read it, check out the author’s blog.
  • Change your diet.
    You can regulate your hormones quite a lot by changing your diet. I know that’s hard. Believe me, I know. Change a little at a time so it’s not so difficult. The book and blog above has some great suggestions for you. The book lays out a diet to aspire to and a support group like Weight Watchers can help you not feel overwhelmed by the changes you might need to make.
  • Get some acupuncture.
    It de-stresses you, makes you feel more balanced, clears the mental fog, and helps your hormonal balance right away. It can also relieve insomnia, irregular periods, PMS symptoms, anxiety and palpitations, depression, and the other symptoms listed above. Call and talk to me if you have questions: 512-619-5549. I’m happy to chat with  you.
  • Herbs and supplements.
    Your body needs some extra help. I can help you with herbs and supplements to help your body come back into balance. You can book an appointment with me by calling 512-619-5549 or by going to my online booking site.
  • Exercise.
    Another dirty word, I know. Moderate exercise is great for helping your body out though. It even helps with the next recommend, managing your stress levels. Why not take a yoga class or a tai chi class? You’re getting two things done at once. Pat yourself on the back for multitasking!
  • Manage your stress.
    Stress is a killer. Literally. And it doesn’t do your hormones any good either. If you’ve got Netflix, look for a National Geographic production called Stress: Portrait of a Killer. You can stream this online or order the DVD from them. It’s the best and simplest explanation of what stress does to the body that I have seen.  It starts a little corny, but within 5 minutes it gets really good.

Give me a call at 512-619-5549 or drop me an e-mail. I’m happy to talk with you about painless ways to make these changes and get control of your life again.

Yours in health,

–Cat Calhoun, L.Ac.
 Calhoun Acupuncture 

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Filed under Hormones, Perimenopause

Wanna get dumb quick? Consume HFCS (high-fructose corn syrup).

Suffer from foggy thinking? Feeling the mental slow-down since you were younger? Are your kids having trouble keeping up academically?

Sure, there are a lot of possible reasons, not the least of which is getting older. But the culprit could be the high-fructose corn syrup in your diet. It’s hidden in an awful lot of common foods in the American diet because it’s so much sweeter than sugar and so much cheaper.  You’ll find it in everything from baby food to yogurt to crackers to pizza and spaghetti sauces. As a matter of fact, it’s hard to avoid unless you’re paying attention.

Unfortunately, HFCS changes your brain’s ability to remember and to learn in addition to the well-publicized research showing that it contributes to diabetes, obesity and fatty livers. Yet Americans love it – we consume something like 40 pounds of this stuff per person every year.

I know how hard it is to make conscious choices about your diet, even when you know your food choices are slowly damaging or even killing you. Though the better choice is to eat foods free of HFCS, if you just can’t live without that ice cream sundae or those Nutter Butters, you can still do something about it. Here are two suggestions which help counter the disruption that HFCS causes in your brain:

  • Consume more foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, walnuts, and flax seeds or flaxseed oil.
  • Take DHA supplements daily. DHA is essential for synaptic function (communication in the brain)

If you want to read more about this, you can read the full article by clicking here.

Wishing you health and happiness,

Cat Calhoun, L.Ac.

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