Fighting the Flu

Looking for advice on what supplements to take this fall? Check out my segment on CH Morning Live to find out why multivitamins are so important for health, especially during the fall and winter season when we are at risk of getting sick. When choosing a supplement, look for a product designed for your age, gender and life stage. For women, I recommend femMED Multi+ Antioxidants, which provides all the key nutrients for good health in a vegetarian capsule, without dyes, chemical fillers or potential allergens. Also find out about what supplements you can take to get a better night sleep and feel great the next day.

Choosing a Prenatal Vitamin – What Every Expectant Woman Needs to Know

Good nutrition is key for good health. This is particularly important during pregnancy to ensure both the mother and the growing baby receive all the essential nutrients for proper growth and development. However, even those who eat healthy may not be getting enough nutrients because many factors can deplete nutrients from the body. According to reports 20 to 30 percent of pregnant women have a vitamin and mineral deficiency, and without supplementation, roughly 75 percent of pregnant women would be deficient in at least one vitamin. This is why prenatal vitamins are essential for women before, during and after pregnancy—to fill in dietary gaps and prevent deficiencies.

Prenatal supplements differ from regular multivitamins in that they are specially formulated with increased levels of certain nutrients that are required to support a healthy pregnancy and reduce the risk of deficiency syndromes in both mother and baby. These nutrients include folic acid, calcium, vitamin D, iron and zinc.

Folic acid is particularly crucial for women to take in the early stages of pregnancy because studies have shown that it can reduce the risk of neural tube defects, including spina bifida by 70 percent.  Since neural tube defects occur within the first 28 days of conception, doctors recommend that women planning to get pregnant take a daily prenatal supplement that contains folic acid.

There are other health benefits associated with taking prenatal vitamins with folic acid. Researchers at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto have found that prenatal multivitamins fortified with folic acid can reduce the risk of three common childhood cancers: leukemia, brain tumours and neuroblastoma and they can also reduce the risk of a wide range of serious birth defects, including cardiovascular and limb defects, cleft palate, oral cleft, and urinary tract anomalies.

Women who suffer with morning sickness should look for a prenatal that contains ginger. Clinical research has found that ginger is safe and effective for reducing nausea during pregnancy. Unlike the prescription anti-nausea medication (Diclectin), ginger does not cause drowsiness or dry mouth.

Prenatal supplements vary greatly in quality and composition. Read the labels carefully and look for these key attributes when choosing a product:

  • A minimum of 0.4 to 1 mg of folic acid, 30 mg iron, 200-250 mg calcium, 800 IU vitamin D and 100 mg vitamin C along with
  • Easy to swallow vegetable capsules
  • Free of chemical additives such artificial colours (dyes), titanium dioxide and potential allergens such as dairy, egg, yeast, and gluten

Prenatal vitamins should be taken throughout pregnancy and during breastfeeding. Take with a main meal and a full glass of water.

As a pharmacist, health writer, and new mom, my top recommendation is femMED’s Pregnancy + Ginger formula. It contains all the essential nutrients along with ginger to combat morning sickness. Unlike most other prenatals, femMED’s Pregnancy and Pregnancy + Ginger formulas are free of chemical fillers, dyes and allergens.

 

Approach Sex Like Exercise

This morning I woke up and glanced sleepily over at my alarm clock. Then I asked myself the same question I’ve asked myself on so many other mornings: “Should I go to the gym, or go back to sleep”. Hmm, my bed was so cozy, and I could easily close my eyes and drift back off into La La Land. Yes, sleep—what a good idea. But then another thought disrupted my slumber: “Get your butt out of bed…you always feel better when you start your day with a workout…you’ll be glad you did it”! So, with a grunt and a sigh, I hauled myself out of bed and made my way over to the gym.

Sure enough, just a few minutes into my workout, I had found my groove and I was feeling strong and energized. After my shower I felt calm and relaxed, and I thought to myself “You see, aren’t you glad you worked out?” Indeed I was!

And then it occurred to me: What if women approached sex the same way that I approached the debate over my morning workout? Did I lose you? Okay, hear me out. How many times has your honey turned to you with that twinkle in the eye that begs the question: “how bout tonight?” and you reply with “I’m so tired”. And no doubt, you are tired. But think back to the last time let yourself be convinced to trade in the few extra z’s for a playful romp in the sac. You likely started out very reluctantly, but with a few of the right moves, your libido is awakened and it starts to feel good—really good. Exercise and sex share many benefits. Both help to improve energy levels; reduce stress; increase blood flow, sensation, and circulation; and promote a more restful sleep. So, sometimes it makes sense to approach sex like exercise, boost libido naturally, and take a lesson from Nike: “Just do it”!

Love is in the Food

We’ve all heard about them, but do aphrodisiacs (foods that are thought to enhance sexual desire) really work?  Well, we’ve done some digging to find out which ones are the most popular and why.

1) Happy as an Oyster

Oysters are believed to rev up your libido. This myth could have started because oysters are loaded with zinc which can help improve libido, raise testosterone and increase sperm production. There is no conclusive evidence to support this but they are a great source of omega-3s, which is known to promote a feeling of well-being. So split a few shells and see where the night takes you.

2) Crazy for Cacao

Pure chocolate (not milk chocolate) contains PEA (phenylethylamine) also known as “the love chemical”. PEA releases dopamine in the pleasure centers of the brain and peaks during orgasm. It’s thought that the PEA in chocolate could help induce feelings of excitement, attraction and euphoria but it’s doubtful. The small amount of PEA in chocolate is metabolised before it has time to take effect. Cacao also contains tryptophan, a component of serotonin which is known to promote a sense of well-being and relaxation. We’re not sure if eating chocolate will actually induce feelings of love and euphoria, but no women is going to say no to a gift of delicious chocolates.

3) Honeymoon – I’m Home

Mead or honey wine was traditionally served to newlyweds. Often, enough mead was provided to the newlyweds following the wedding to last them a month, since it was believed the first month was the sweetest. Although it has sometimes been claimed that the word honeymoon is derived from this practice, the first known reference to this term dates back to 1552 when it was used to describe the inevitable waning of love.

Today, honey is a great source of sugar which can help boost energy levels and it also comes in handy as a beauty product. Honey is a natural humectant, meaning it draws moisture to the pores. Spread some evenly on your face and let it sit for 30 minutes. When you scrub it off it will leave your skin soft with a rosy glow and you’ll be ready for date night.

4) Heating it up with Chillies

Chile peppers quicken your pulse, makes you sweat and stimulate the release of endorphins. Does this sound familiar to you? It should. All these things happen to you when you’re aroused. Chillies also have the bonus of being good for you, just like sex.

5) Pomegranate Juice for Two

In pomegranate lore, it was once the fruit of Aphrodite, the goddess of love and believed to be a natural libido booster for both women and men. The jury is still out on this, but pomegranates are a delicious fruit that are full of vitamins A, B and C. They are also a good source of antioxidants which can help boost the immune system. Just be aware of how much you drink. Pomegranate juice, similar to grapefruit juice, is thought to interact negatively with certain medications. Experts believe that an 8-12oz glass of sugar-free pomegranate juice is perfectly fine but you shouldn’t exceed that amount, especially if you’re on certain medications.

So the next time you’re cooking up a romantic meal or find yourself on a fabulous dinner date, keep these top 5 aphrodisiacs in mind. Your love life and your health might thank you for it later.

How Our Hormones Affect Our Libido Through The Decades And What We Can Do About Them

Hormones are the KEY to vibrant sexual health for women. Did you know that we have over 50 known hormones secreted by our body!?  Our sex hormones, estrogen, progesterone, testosterone and DHEA and their balancing act or lack thereof, largely influences our sex drive or libido. What makes this even more challenging is that our hormone levels fluctuate with each decade.  The good news is, that armed with insight and knowledge, we can help make our libido BE what we want it to BE!

In our teens, our sex hormones change wildly – resulting in some crazy behaviour. It helps to have patience and structure, knowledge and boundaries around emerging sexuality.  Our twenties bring on more hormonal stability as we mature and establish ourselves in careers and self-identity. It’s also a good time to start thinking about using a good quality multivitamin (containing calcium and magnesium as well). It can assist in laying a healthy foundation and calm PMS symptoms if present.

Many hormonal changes that can affect our sex drive begin in our thirties.  Testosterone starts to decrease slowly for both men and women, affecting everything from desire to muscle tone. Pregnancy can also dramatically your alter libido, although this varies vastly from woman to woman.  Generally the second trimester is a time of increased desire and continues throughout the third trimester.  Post-partum brings on its own hormonal challenges with fatigue and body image playing enormous havoc with our sex lives. For some women,  it may take upwards of 12-32 months to fully feel “like yourself” after having a baby. The good news is that oxytocin, which is secreted with breast milk, is known as the “love” hormone and makes us feel warm and amorous to both our baby and our sweetheart, so save some of that loving for him!

Let’s take a moment now to talk about cortisol. It’s one of the most important hormone’s that affects us throughout each decade.  Cortisol is mostly known as the hormone our bodies secrete when we’re under a high level of stress. It’s often called the “flight or fight response”. Whenever we’re feeling threatened or stressed this hormone allows our body to best manage the situation, too literally, survive. Many of us do not realize the impact that high, prolonged cortisol levels can have. When we’re under chronic stress, our bodies never have the downtime to recover and get back to normal. According to Dr. Kristy Prouse, Ob/Gyn and founder of The Institute of Hormonal Health, cortisol affects libido MORE than testosterone! Once the body does get back to normal hormone levels, a healthy sex drive often follows, usually.……

Hormone levels begin to decline more rapidly for most women in their forties and fifties.  Decreased progesterone may cause irritability, anxiety and elevated cortisol levels.  Testosterone decreases quickly (hormone of desire) and many women are perplexed as to why they simply do not want sex anymore.  To make matters worse, with the onset of menopause, our estrogen levels decline, resulting in dry, thin vaginal walls, hot flashes and brain fog.  None of which are conducive to hot sex!  In order to help manage some of these uncomfortable symptoms successfully, I would recommend trying a supplement like femMED Libido or Menopause Relief. You might find them helpful in reducing many of these  symptoms, naturally.

Hormone imbalances do not have to wreak our sex lives. Many post-menopausal women report increased desire that comes with freedom from responsibilities, children, pregnancy, along with, a commitment to better health, including their sexual health!