Update From Shaklee Live

I have been spending the last 3 days at Shaklee Live surrounded by amazing people committed to improving the lives and health of everyone around them.  Shaklee has really outdone themselves with the new products and tools to help create a healthier life for everyone and a better life for everyone!

There are 3 major updates that I wanted to share with you today.  The first is a way for anyone to get a personalized nutrition plan to address your health goals.  The second is an exciting update to one of Shaklee’s workhorse products to address issues vital to EVERY woman of childbearing age.  And the third is a new program to jumpstart weight loss and improve mental focus, energy and sleep.

  1. HealthPrint

I recently developed a questionnaire to help me get a better handle on what my customers’ goals and health needs are.  Shaklee swiped my idea, LOL!

In fairness, they had the idea first.  They’ve been working for months to create a web-based questionnaire to really drill down into your current health status and your goals to give you a personalized nutrition plan.

Want to see?  There’s no cost, no commitment and no reason not to check it out!  It takes about 5 minutes.  Click this link to start.  Current members of the Shaklee Family will log in to the website.  Here’s a video about it!

  1. New prenatal labeling for Vitalizer Women and Vita Lea with Iron

So many young women trying to start a family rely on Shaklee supplementation, but often they are told by their obstetrician that they need to switch to a prescription prenatal vitamin when they are pregnant and breastfeeding.  Not anymore!!

Shaklee has increased the amount of folic acid and iodine in Vita Lea with Iron (and Vitalizer Women, which includes Vita Lea with Iron).  This brings the nutritional support of these products up to prenatal standards!  They are very well tolerated even by women in the first trimester, who don’t tolerate ANYTHING.

Since the most critical time to provide strong nutritional support to a developing baby is actually BEFORE a woman even knows she is pregnant, this is a HUGE advance in protecting the health of growing families.  If you are a woman of childbearing age (or know and love a woman of childbearing age) please take a look at these products!  Click here to read more or watch this video!

(Can you tell I just figured out how to embed videos in my blog?  Skill acquired, Blogger Level Up Achieved!!  LOL!)

  1. Healthy Cleanse

Last year Shaklee had started working on a healthy cleanse for detox purposes.  We live in a toxic world, where the liver is constantly bombarded with food additives and other toxic stuff in our diet, drinking water and skin care products.

Many people turn to harsh laxatives, juicing and other questionable practices to try to detox their bodies.  Often this leads to diarrhea, abdominal pain, fatigue and overwhelming hunger.

Shaklee has released the Healthy Cleanse, a 7-day program of healthy eating and nutritional support to jumpstart weight loss, improve energy and sleep, and create better mental focus.  It should decrease cravings for unhealthy foods like sugar and salt.

If you’re ready to get serious about weight loss, this is a great way to start.  It’s a nice precursor to the Turnaround Kit and can be used with Vitalizer or the Vitalizing Plan.  I’ve created a Facebook group of people who want to do the Healthy Cleanse together, and will set a start date for the Cleanse soon.  Support makes everything easier!

Want more info?  Here’s the How-to Guide, the FAQ, and the the Order Form.

August is always an exciting time in Shaklee, the energy from our annual conference is contagious and all the new tools and new and upgraded products create such a buzz.  But ultimately what gives us all a charge is helping people live healthier lives.  Living longer, living healthier and living better is what it’s all about.

QUESTION:  I threw a ton of info at you.  What do you need to know?  Ask away!

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Vitamin K Deficiency In Newborns

This year in Tennessee and other places around the country, doctors are seeing seriously ill infants with hemorrhagic disease of the newborn.  This is a life-threatening bleeding disorder that is caused by vitamin K deficiency in newborns.

All these cases occurred in infants whose parents refused to allow their babies to receive a vitamin K injection immediately after birth.

I am shocked that in this day and age babies are being exposed to the risk of a potentially fatal disease that is 100% preventable.  Since 1961 doctors and hospitals have been giving a single injection of vitamin K when babies are born.  This completely eliminated cases of hemorrhagic disease of the newborn.

Granted, this disease is rare even in babies who do not receive the injection.  Estimates are 2.5-17 cases per 1000 births.  However, if it is YOUR baby suffering lifelong disability due to a problem that is completely preventable I think even this small risk is too big.

Why do babies get vitamin K deficiency?  Although vitamin K (which is a fat soluble vitamin) does pass through the placenta, newborns don’t have very significant body stores of vitamin K.  After birth, the supply of vitamin K coming from Mom stops abruptly, and there is not enough in breastmilk or formula to meet their needs.

Human beings get vitamin K from their diet (in leafy green veggies like kale and spinach, as well as Brussels sprouts and tomatoes) and from beneficial bacteria in the intestine.  Newborn babies have NO bacteria in their intestine – and it takes some time for the bacteria to build up.  They rapidly can become severely vitamin K deficient.

Anybody out there know someone who takes Coumadin (warfarin), a blood thinner used to treat heart problems or blood clots?  Coumadin acts by blocking the activity of vitamin K to help make clotting factors in the bloodstream.  When babies get deficient in vitamin K, it’s like they’re taking Coumadin and getting blood that is thinner and thinner.

As a public service measure, neonatal vitamin K injection is a rousing success.  It completely eliminates hemorrhagic disease of the newborn.  I went to the Internet and looked up some of the objections natural-parenting advocates have to the injection.  After all, SOMETHING has to be responsible for the recent trend to refuse something as benign as a vitamin shot.  Here are some of the objections I found:

  • The dose is too high:  Granted, the dose is pretty high.  However, vitamin K is nontoxic and a one-time shot needs to be high in order to tide the baby over until the bacteria seed the intestine and begin making vitamin K.  Hemorrhagic disease in the newborn can be seen as late as 12 weeks of age.
  • Shots are painful:  Yes, needles hurt.  I give shots all the time.  They are not a fate worse than death, though, and those that think an injection soon after birth will cause irreparable lifelong psychic injury to their child are fooling themselves.
  • Oral vitamin K is just as good:  Actually, it’s not.  Hemorrhagic disease of the newborn is still seen in the Netherlands, where oral rather than injected vitamin K is the standard of care.

Vitamin K injections are safe.  They work.  They save babies from death and lifelong disability.  If you know someone who is expecting, please pass this article along and encourage them to discuss this issue with their obstetrician.  You may save your friend unimaginable heartbreak.

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Religious Freedom And Birth Control

This week the Supreme Court decided that privately held companies have the same right to religious freedom as individuals.  This means that family businesses like Hobby Lobby and organizations like Little Sisters Of The Poor and the Roman Catholic Church can’t be forced to provide health insurance that covers services that violate their religious beliefs.

This debate has been very difficult for the country.  On the one hand, access to effective contraception and family-planning services is very important for public health.  Preventing unwanted pregnancy is a valuable goal.

On the other hand, the issue is really about who has to pay for these family-planning services.  The Roman Catholic Church has taught for centuries that artificial means of preventing pregnancy (like condoms, birth control pills, IUDs, permanent sterilization and abortion) are morally wrong.  Whether or not YOU believe this isn’t really the point.  The point is that the US Constitution protects that belief and the right to practice it.

First-Amendment-scroll-300x218The Obama Administration and the Department of Health and Human Services have decided that all health insurance policies in the USA must cover oral contraceptive pills, the morning-after pill, IUDs, permanent sterilization, and all other FDA-approved contraceptive measures without cost to the patient.  It’s important to point out that this is NOT a law, it’s a regulation by HHS.  The Catholic Church and a large number of privately held companies run according to the owners’ Catholic faith objected to this.  Hobby Lobby’s suit was the first to reach the Supreme Court.

The press is running amok with this judgment, in my opinion.  They are making it out to be a “War On Women” which is complete nonsense.  Nowhere in any law, judgment or ruling does it state that women (or men) can’t get any family planning service or product that they and their doctor decide is appropriate.  Women are still free to get birth control pills, the morning-after pill, IUDs, vasectomies and tubal ligations.

If a patient’s health insurance doesn’t cover birth control or an IUD and they want them, they will have to pay for them.

I have a hard time seeing this as a tragedy.  Birth control pills are $4 per month for generics at your corner drugstore, out-of-pocket, without insurance.  At Planned Parenthood you can get generic birth control pills for $10 for a year’s supply (or at least you could when I was in college).  An IUD is more expensive up-front but averaged over the device’s five-year lifespan it can actually be LESS expensive than birth control pills.

Truly indigent women will qualify for Medicaid, which covers contraception at no out-of-pocket cost.  At issue, I think, are women who CAN afford to pay $4 per month for birth control pills but think it’s someone else’s job to provide it.

This is the old argument between entitlement and personal responsibility.  I have always come down on the side of personal responsibility.  If you want it, or need it, and your insurance company doesn’t pay for it, I guess you’re writing a check.

PS – I wonder how much money the Obama Administration has spent fighting Hobby Lobby’s and the over 90 other lawsuits over the contraceptive mandate?  If providing free contraception for everybody was the goal, I wonder how many packs of birth control pills that money would have purchased.  Just sayin’…

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3 Ways To Rock Your Menopause

HotFlashes

If you are or you know someone who is dealing with menopause, raise your hand.

I get asked a lot about menopause symptoms and I pretty much give the same answer:  There are three ways to handle it.  Enjoy it, ease it with nonhormonal remedies, or go for the big guns.

1.  First of all I want to remind you all that menopause is NOT a disease.  A woman’s ovaries are SUPPOSED to go on permanent vacation at about age 51.  Face it, they’ve worked nonstop for the last 35-40 years, producing hormones and eggs and we-don’t-even-know-what-else!  They deserve a little R&R.  Just because YOU’RE addicted to estrogen isn’t their fault!

Seriously folks, remembering that menopause is normal and natural and generally doesn’t cause problematic symptoms for the rest of a woman’s life often goes a long way toward making it more bearable.  Being afraid of it or worrying about it can make it worse.

I generally encourage women to look on the bright side and work to find the positive in any situation.  The obvious (and often-quoted) statement that getting older beats the alternative comes to mind.

Here are 3 reasons why it’s awesome to reach menopause:

  • No more periods!  Hooray!  All you women who are approaching menopause and upset about not getting your period anymore, raise your hands.  **cricket, cricket**  Nope.  Didn’t think so.
  • No more birth control!  Double hooray!  Now sex comes without the scramble for condoms or two weeks of wondering if you might be pregnant.
  • You’re not exactly in the “When I am an old woman I shall wear purple” category but age does have some benefits.  By the time a woman reaches menopause she has generally gathered experiences to help her put things in perspective.  And it’s fun not to care so much what others think of us!

There are some behavioral approaches to managing menopause symptoms that can be very effective.  Avoiding hot-flash triggers like heat, caffeine, alcohol, spicy foods, smoking and stress can help.  Keeping your bedroom cool can decrease the sleep trouble and night sweats.  Exercise decreases symptoms too, possibly by helping decrease stress.  Eating soy foods may be helpful.

2.  There are a number of nonhormonal therapies that can reduce the symptoms of menopause.  Many antidepressants like Paxil decrease the hot flashes, insomnia and irritability that can come with menopause.

For some reason Shaklee’s multivitamin for women at and past menopause, Vita Lea Gold, reduces hot flashes more often than not.  I think it has something to do with the antioxidant in it, N-acetylcysteine.  It works often enough that I don’t think it’s coincidence but I don’t have any scientific evidence to back it up.  I’m firmly of the belief that everyone should take a multivitamin, so I think it’s a good approach.

There is also some evidence that black cohosh helps with hot flashes.  There are many brands out there but I recommend Menopause Balance Complex from Shaklee.  If anybody wonders why I work with, promote and personally use Shaklee products, please check here.

3.  If you are miserable and behavioral techniques and supplements aren’t helping, you should talk to your doctor about hormone replacement therapy (HRT).  There are various forms (creams, patches and pills) and the right one for you would depend on exactly what symptoms are most bothersome for you.  Be prepared though:  a good and careful doctor will want to put you on the lowest dose that makes your worst symptoms tolerable, then get you off HRT as soon as possible.  This is because HRT increases the risk of blood clots, heart disease, stroke and breast cancer.  Only you and your doctor can decide if the risks of HRT are worth the benefit of reducing your menopause symptoms.

After all, you want to be able to enjoy this time of your life.  Grown kids and/or grandkids, hopefully a growing retirement portfolio and more financial freedom, and the opportunity to explore new interests shouldn’t have to take a backseat to poor sleep, irritability and embarrassing hot flashes.  I hope some of the suggestions here are helpful!

Question:  What is the one thing about menopause that you LEAST expected to have to deal with?

“It is not good to cross the bridge before you get to it.”  Judi Dench

“Being me right now is sort of amazing.”  Helen Mirren

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Save Second Base!

This is the funniest T-shirt I’ve seen this month for Breast Cancer Awareness!  I’m kind of glad my ten-year-old son is oblivious though, not sure I’m ready to explain this one 🙂

Many of you know I was in Pittsburgh yesterday for a primary-care breast cancer conference at UPMC.  It was a great conference!  The most important things I learned were NOT what to do about a large-core breast biopsy showing atypical ductal hyperplasia (in case you’re interested, the right answer is refer for excisional biopsy).  I learned there are simple lifestyle measures every woman can implement to reduce her personal risk of breast cancer.

First of all, exercise!  30 minutes of brisk walking 4 times a week reduced breast cancer risk by 30-50%.  Walking, just walking.  Get out your sneakers and get moving!  As you’ll see in #2, weight management is important but even without looking at the correlation with weight, exercise still reduced the breast cancer risk.

Second, get to a healthy weight and STAY there, especially after menopause!  Fat cells have an enzyme called aromatase that change male hormones made by the adrenal glands into estrogens.  After menopause, estrogens raise the risk of breast cancer substantially.  Women who carry their body fat in their abdomens (apples)  have a much higher risk of breast cancer than those who have more around their hips and thighs (pears).  Obesity in women also raises the risk of uterine and colorectal cancer, BTW.

Third, don’t drink alcohol.  Even half a glass of wine daily raises the risk of breast cancer.  There doesn’t seem to be a level of alcohol intake that is “baseline” or safe, so it’s really safest to not drink at all.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women.  It is the second greatest cancer killer of women (after lung cancer).  Many women believe that their risk of breast cancer is something they can’t control, that it’s based in the genes alone.  That’s not true!  Adopting these three simple measures (which are good for you anyway, not just in their ability to reduce your breast cancer risk) can help women avoid this awful disease.

Notice I said “simple,” not “easy.”  No one will ever tell you that maintaining a normal weight is easy.  But it is certainly not as tough as changing your age, gender, race or family history!   These things ARE under your control.  You CAN choose to get moving, eat right, lose weight, and avoid drinking alcohol.

Which will you choose?

PS – if you want some help with weight loss, please let me know.

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Does Black Cohosh Cause Breast Cancer?

Hi, everybody.  I’m posting about black cohosh because a patient was upset that I recommended she try that supplement for her menopausal hot flashes.  She was reluctant to try traditional hormone replacement (which I understand, since PRESCRIBING it makes me nervous because of the risks) so I figured a nonhormonal supplement would be a great place to start.  She was very upset because she was under the impression it increased the risk of breast cancer.

Off I went to the National Institutes of Health’s PubMed database, which is where I go for research data.  Here’s what I found:

1.  A German study published in 2009 followed over 10,000 women and looked at their use of herbal products containing black cohosh and phytoestrogens (red clover and soy isoflavones) among other products.  They found that use of these herbal products was associated with a modest reduction in the risk of breast cancer and that the longer these products were used the larger the reduction in risk.  Note:  this was not a study designed to determine a CAUSAL relationship.     http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19661079

2. A really big study (more than 35,000 women) from Washington State  published in Cancer found no increased risk of breast cancer in women taking a variety of supplements including black cohosh, dong quai, soy, and St. John’s wort.  Interestingly, breast cancer was lower in women taking fish oil supplements.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20615886

3. Here’s my nod to basic science.  A group at Columbia University found that an extract of black cohosh applied to human breast cancer cells was able to induce cell death in those cancer cells.  They theorize that black cohosh may actually have a role in the prevention and treatment of breast cancer.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17980565

There is a lot of confusing information out there about supplements and cancer risk.  My (not exhaustive by any means) search of the database didn’t turn up any evidence that black cohosh causes breast cancer, but new studies are being published every day and everyone should choose the medications and supplements they take with advice from their doctor.  As always, interactions and risks are present no matter what you do.

I included the links above to the studies I mentioned so that anyone who wants more information can follow up.  I picked studies that have full-text articles available for free, just follow the links.

Be careful out there!

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