Recently, I was in Tucson, facilitating workshops at the Institute of Functional Medicine. It is such an honor to be asked to facilitate and assist in training so many brilliant minds and amazing health professionals.
I love working with like-minded professionals and I get excited about sharing my knowledge, passion and energy with my peers. I know I’ll return to the clinic re-charged. One of the benefits of traveling (and having my plane delayed for mechanical reasons) is that I had the chance to get caught up on reading a number of new research studies that I’ll be sharing more about with you over the coming weeks.
I always love it when I see studies come forward that make the connections that I have seen in my patients at the Women to Women clinic and have been talking about with you in our newsletters for years. I’m a Functional Medicine practitioner and what that means is that I know that everything is connected; Functional Medicine practitioners understand that if we can learn more about what is happening “upstream,” we can begin to prevent and cure the symptoms and conditions that ultimately occur “downstream.” So I love to see research that helps us to “connect the dots.”
While I try to stay up to date on all the latest studies, I always pay extra close attention to research that confirms what I believe about the connection between symptoms of hormonal imbalance and other health concerns. That’s because I usually find that the “downstream” symptom has an “upstream” cause. One study recently connected the dots between hot flashes and heart health and I’d like to sum up the major conclusions and share what it really means for YOU.
University of Pittsburgh Study
The study, which was conducted by the University of Pittsburgh, found that women who have hot flashes at younger ages, and who have them more frequently, might have a greater risk of heart disease.
Specifically, the research showed that when a woman experiences her first hot flash at age 42 or younger, her endothelial function (which is tied to heart attack risk and is considered an indicator of heart health) is significantly poorer than in women who had their first hot flash at an older age.
In addition, the more hot flashes the women in the age group of 52 and younger had in a 24-hour period, the less healthy their endothelial function was and the greater their heart attack risk.
While I know that this is not conclusive and further study is warranted, it is an interesting connection and one that makes sense to me, since I know that hormonal imbalance is something that does not occur in isolation. I know that insulin resistance plays a role in heart health and also leads to menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, so that is just one way that these two may be connected. It will be exciting to see if more research can probe the link and make the insulin connection in the future.
As we wait for further information, however, one thing these results do suggest is that women at younger ages experiencing hot flashes should be more vigilant of their heart health.
Taking Care of Your Heart Health
One way you can take better care of your heart is to engage in regular exercise, especially exercise that raises the heart rate. Exercise is known to force blood vessels to dilate and to help them remain healthy, improving the poor endothelial function that the study found which was so concerning; women in this group should be even more conscious of ensuring they remain active and exercise regularly as they age.
I have talked about the burst form of high intensity interval training with you before, as this is the form of exercise that I always recommend. Exercising for too long a period of time can actually increase oxidative stress.
In addition, managing other factors such as weight, blood pressure, and diet, especially glucose levels are important for long-term heart health; as I’ve seen and shared with you, correlations have been proven between internal inflammation, blood sugar levels, and heart attacks.
Bringing Hormones into Balance
I think it’s important for all of us, but especially women with frequent hot flashes and flashes occurring at younger ages, to take preventive action with respect to heart health. But I also know that it is equally, if not more, important to try to prevent or eliminate hot flashes before they do damage to the endothelium and ultimately, the heart.
To bring hormones back into balance, we work with our patients to focus on what they eat and how they live: we know that a good night’s sleep, reducing stress, regular exercise, and a healthy whole food diet, which includes being aware of the overall carbohydrate content and quality, will go a long way toward restoring wellness.
Food is so important to your health. I recommend high-quality proteins such as grass fed meat and wild caught fish, fresh fruits and vegetables (organic if you can) and minimizing packaged and processed foods. If organic is not possible all the time, at least buy organic when consuming the toxic 12 fruits and vegetables.
We see so many patients in our clinic who tell us that it is extremely difficult today to eat all the nutrients needed for hormonal balance during perimenopause, even if they do try to eat a healthy and balanced diet. Numerous studies show us that the nutritional content of food today is diminished due to farming practices, long transportation times, and our desire for perfectly beautiful produce. So sometimes, you might need a little help.
In addition to eating well, the body may require more support, especially if you experience a lot of stress in your life. I have found that I can reduce or eliminate hot flashes in my patients by supporting the body’s hormonal balance with a pharmaceutical grade multivitamin and omega-3 supplement.
I created my own formulas, available in my store, because I wanted to ensure that it had the ingredients and the purity I know women need to restore balance and feel well. My patients have had great success with them for over 3 decades and I take them too!
In the clinic, these two products help virtually all patients I see to reduce symptoms, whatever they may be, and to feel like themselves again: whether they suffer from hot flashes or not!
If hot flashes or other menopausal symptoms are causing discomfort, I also recommend a third product that is formulated specifically to alleviate symptoms of hormonal imbalance. My proprietary and proven Menopause Program can reduce or eliminate annoying symptoms, including potentially heart-unhealthy hot flashes, so you can feel like yourself again.