Check out my recent article in conjunction with Medscape. Click here.
Brian was a retired 60 year old who came to see me to lose weight and lower his cholesterol and triglycerides. He was on medication for high triglycerides and blood pressure.
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By: Renee A. Simon, MS, CNS
I’ve worked with many Resolve clients over the years who ponder this question, and I had to answer it myself, twelve year sago. The following are some things for you to think about if you are evaluating this decision.
First is your age and health status. Are you in tip top physical shape? Have you done everything possible to improve your diet and overall hormonal health? As a certified clinical nutritionist I always recommend that you get your body in the best possible physical state to achieve and maintain a healthy pregnancy. This usually takes about 3-9 months and usually involves a diet re-haul, a moderate exercise program, clinical testing to find any undiagnosed nutritional imbalances that might prevent you from getting pregnant, and a stress management program.
If you’ve done this type of work and you have had no success either on you own or through multiple IVF’s then it may be time to move on. Think about how many rounds of fertility drugs you have used, and what the long term effect might be on your body. If you are uncomfortable with this thought then it may a signal to pursue adoption. Your emotional state is key to your outlook on life and has a great impact on your physical wellness. If you are uncomfortable with the recommended treatments or if you cannot deal with the roller coaster of hope leading to disappointment, then it may be time to consider adoption. Adoption may not be an easy road but if you stick with it the outcome will always end up positive.
If you think you might be ready to make the switch first evaluate your own feelings about adoption:
- Are you satisfied that you can provide a healthy family life for a child?
- How do you and your family feel about parenting a child who is not biologically related, and may look very different than you do? Even if you feel comfortable your family may be not. Be prepared to discuss this with your extended family in depth, before deciding on the kind of child that you feel comfortable with. That is not to say that if your extended family is uncomfortable you should change your plans. It just means that you should know what opposition may be thrown your way so that you can prepare when you bring your child home. Although many family members who express displeasure with your decision may come around when they get to know the child, you cannot rely on this. It will be important to ensure that your child is exposed as little as possible to negative family members.
- How do you feel about bringing up a child where there may be a little genetic and medical history information available?
- Will you be able to put any fears you may have aside about the phantom birth parents coming back to claim your child? (Highly unlikely).
My husband and I made the decision to adopt after I underwent 1 laparotomy removing a cyst the size of an orange from my right ovary and subsequent laparoscopies. I had endometriosis that kept growing back and with each surgery there was scar tissue that surrounded my organs and tissues no matter how clean the job was or who performed it. I was also on a variety of meditation that made me gain weight and grow facial hair. When a new medication was suggested to me that was only clinically tested for male prostate cancer, I decided my body had enough. We began to research adoption and six months later adopted a beautiful newborn girl from Texas.
Our prayers were answers and I knew we made the right decision for us. Rebecca is almost twelve now and while there have been some adoption issues that have come up over the years, she has learned that family is far more than who your birth parents are.
A while ago one of my patients told me she was getting older, her FSH was high and she was planning to pursue adoption. She was coming to see me so she could “get healthy and feel better about herself and if she got pregnant it would be icing on the cake.” She lost 30 lbs, got her FSH down, felt younger and better than she had in years and adopted a baby girl. As an older parent, she had the energy and stamina to take care of her daughter.
The message here is to be good to yourself, heal your own body and emotions and have faith that your desires for a child will be resolved, one way or another.
Renee A. Simon is a Certified Clinical Nutritionist, writer and workshop leader. She is President of her own company, Total Wellness, which helps clients restore their body’s to natural balance using food, nutrients, movement, coaching, and breathes work. She works with each individual to address underlying physical and emotional causes that hinder wellness – not just the symptoms. She sees clients in Ridgefield, CT, South Salem and Mount Kisco, NY and can be reached at (914)763-9107. Her book Take Back Your Health will be out in the spring and will have a chapter on female hormone balance and infertility.
By Renee A. Simon, MS, CNS
Many women today are waiting longer to conceive their first and second children. This is usually due to either establishing a career first or marrying late or just waiting because they are not ready. It is sometimes a surprise when a year or two goes by and there is no natural conception.
I have helped many couples in this age group over the years to maximize their fertility chances while in many cases working closely with their medical specialist. If a couples’ chances go down due to a combination of normal aging and environmental factors, then I feel it is my job to help boost the odds by making recommendations to get the body in the best possible physical shape it can to conceive and support a pregnancy. Because stress plays such an important role in our overall health status, then it is crucial to include mind/body recommendations to relax the mind, body and spirit while improving the diet and nutrient status. I usually recommend relaxation techniques to my patients such as exercise, yoga, journal writing, meditation, or visualizations to complement the physical component of the program.
The most important dietary guidelines for everyone who is trying to lead a healthier life style is to follow as natural a diet as possible full of whole grains, fresh organic fruits and vegetables and quality low fat protein such as poultry with out the skin, fish (not swordfish and tuna due to high mercury content and other toxins), nuts, eggs, seeds, legumes and beans, and low-fat hormone free dairy products. Processed and fried foods and hydrogenated oils should be minimally used as well as caffeine, refined flour and sugar and alcohol. If this sounds difficult, remember to begin gradually, and it is OK to have some of these foods occasionally as long as the bulk of the diet is healthy.
It is also very important to drink at least six to eight class of water a day. This is important to keep the body hydrated, which will provide more energy, smoother skin and help to clear the toxins out of the system.
In terms of food supplements, many people need help because it is hard to eat healthy, balanced meals full of nutrients all of the time. One of the most important supplements for fertility enhancement is a good natural multi-vitamin/mineral complex to use as the base. Many prescription pre-natal vitamins are synthetic and do not absorb as well as natural vitamins. In addition, many of them have more iron and folic acid, but lack the minerals necessary for absorption of iron and calcium.
In addition to the multi-vitamin, I usually recommend a B-complex vitamin instead of just taking folic acid because B12 is one of the nutrients that can help protect against miscarriage and the whole B family works synergistically to provide more energy and help control stress. Vitamin E is also an important supplement because it keeps glands that make the hormones healthy and acts as a powerful antioxidant to protect the body against toxins. In addition, vitamin C is important for a healthy immune system, and zinc, which keeps the liver functioning properly, is important for healthy hormone production.
There are three particular medical problems related to women over 35, and especially over 40, that I frequently work with in my practice. They are high FSH, which is usually associated with egg quality problems, luteal phase defect and a greater than normal risk for miscarriage.
I will start with high FSH because many infertility clinics use this as a benchmark to determine if a couple should even try fertility treatments on their own or go straight to donor egg. I have consistently seen over the years FSH levels drop to coincide with a women’s improved nutritional status and overall better health and well-being. That the FSH level drops is just one indicator that everything is working better. One of the tests that I often recommend when taking on a new patient is a hair analysis for mineral and toxic metal status. Many times the results suggest low adrenal and thyroid function, overall lack of minerals, some which are very important for hormone function, and high copper (often due to years of birth control bills or IUD), aluminum, or mercury. When these problems are addressed nutritionally, there is often improvement in overall health and many times a drop in the FSH. Healthier diet and exercise programs as well as practicing stress management techniques are particularly important here.
The second problem, luteul phase defect, usually means altered hormonal secretions leading to a shortened second half of the menstrual cycle or possibly no ovulation or low progesterone. I often recommend a salivary female hormone profile be done in addition to the blood work traditionally done by the doctor. The saliva test uses 11 samples over 28 days to track the entire menstrual cycle. If luteul phase defect appears to be the problem, the herb Vitex may be helpful. Vitex helps the body naturally produce more progesterone . Some natural progesterone cream given on day 12 until menstruation can also be helpful if indicated. There are other herbs that have mild estrogenetic properties that may help if there is low estrogen.
Lastly, is the devastating possibility of miscarriage, which tends to be more prevalent in certain couples. From a nutritional perspective there has been some clinical data on lack of B12 being a possible cause of miscarriage as well as not enough vitamin C and E to help with free radical damage that might increase the odds of miscarriage. According to an article in the Journal of Reproductive Medicine, one woman suffered 7 miscarriages before doctors discovered that she was deficient in vitamin B12. The woman went on to have 3 children after the problem was corrected. Women who follow a vegan diet are more prone to B12 deficiency.
According to an article in New Scientist, a hereditary lack of an enzyme called G6PD may cause millions of miscarriages a year. But consuming antioxidant nutrients may offset the harmful effects of this genetic problem. By taking the basic nutrients that were mentioned earlier, the chances of miscarriage can be lessened.
In closing, I hope that this article has given you some insight and knowledge about some of the things that are in your power to control to help with this seemingly uncontrollable process. I recommend that you don’t self-prescribe the supplements and tests mentioned but instead work with your medical doctor and a qualified clinical nutritionist to design a diet and nutritional program for you to tip the conception odds in your favor.
Renee A. Simon is a certified Clinical Nutritionist and wellness educator. She is a long time member and supporter of Resolve and frequently speaks at their educational meetings. She has helped numerous Resolve members put programs together to help them conceive over the years. Ms. Simon practices in Ridgefield, CT and South Salem, NY. She can be reached at (914) 763-9107 or [email protected] to set up a phone consultation or office visit.
By: Renee A. Simon, M.S. Clinical Nutritionist
Are there natural approaches that may boost your chances of fertility? For many couples the answer is an resounding yes.
My interest in this topic began with my own infertility several years ago. My husband and I tried to conceive without success. We went to several fertility specialists who were convinced the problem was my severe endometriosis. After trying various medications that caused severe side effects and undergoing one laparotomy and three laparoscopies, we decided to give up and pursue adoption. We adopted a new born girl from Texas within six months, and were so happy that we forgot about our fertility issues. That is, until, my next routine gynecological check-up.
I had recently moved from New Jersey to Westchester, New York, and was seeing a new gynecologist. A vaginal ultrasound was part of my check-ups so the new doctor could see the extent of my endometriosis. When he told me there was none, I was shocked. How could this be? Only one year before, a specialist wanted me to go on lupron and have one more laparotomy.
The only change that I could possibly think of was my recent focus on nutrition. I was studying nutrition and had followed a strict diet and supplement regiment for the previous year to solve another problem; what I experienced was overall better health in every aspect of my body, including my hormonal balance and fertility.
To verify my hunch, I began to study the effects of diet and supplements on hormones and fertility. I also consulted a friend who is a holistic health practitioner, specializing in infertility and other female problems. She confirmed that over the last twenty years she has helped many couples conceive with dietary changes and the addition of nutritional supplements where needed. In my own practice, I had helped many women with PMS, migraines and other hormonal issues and now felt encouraged that I could offer hope to many of the couples who suffered through years of infertility.
To better explain how natural approaches may help, let’s take a look at a case of endometriosis. In endometriosis some of the cells that normally line the inside of the uterus attach to the ovaries, cervix, bowel and bladder. Like many other cells, they are particularly sensitive to estrogen, which stimulates tissue growth. So to prevent and manage endometriosis, it is important to lower a woman’s estrogen levels.
Natural approaches include dietary changes and supplements. The key nutrients in the estrogen breakdown process are the B-complex vitamins. Vitamin E helps counter the estrogen; EPA, a fish oil, decreases inflammation and painful periods associated with endometriosis. Vitamin C with bioflavonoids helps build a healthy immune system and build strong, healthy blood cells.
In addition, soy foods or soy protein powder should be consumed on a daily basis. Soy acts as a phytoestrogen, which can prevent a woman’s own estrogen from attaching to cells outside of the uterus. Soy products may also decrease the risk of breast cancer, reduce hot flashes, and lower cholesterol. Foods that may increase inflammation and decrease the body’s overall immunity are anything processed: sugar, alcohol, dairy products, caffeine, wheat, corn, and peanuts.
In addition to diet there are many other factors that effect fertility that might be overlooked by traditional doctors. Some of the most important factors that may go undiagnosed are thyroid problems that don’t show up in the blood, low serum ferritin (iron stores vs. circulating iron), mineral imbalances, toxic metal overload, bowel problems which can cause malabsorption of nutrients and imbalances in hormone levels that go undetected in a single blood sample.
At our office, we now use hair analysis for detecting mineral imbalances and toxic metal overload, stool tests for finding bowel pathogens that might affect overall nutritional status, and saliva tests for following levels of the female hormones progesterone, testosterone and estradiol over 28 days using 11 saliva samples.
We find the tests to be convenient, non-invasive, stress free, and more accurate then single blood samples for detecting certain problems. The saliva tests reveal critical information about hormones. Unlike blood samples, salivary samples represent the free(unbound), bioavailable fraction of the hormone. It would be impossible to test the daily fluctuations in hormone levels through blood throughout the 28 day cycle, but with saliva it is easy and convenient.
Patients with prolonged, unexplained infertility can experience a high frequency of luteal phase defects, including pre-ovulatory progesterone peaks, interruption of progesterone secretion during the luteal phase, and high progesterone levels at the beginning of menstruation.
Because the endocrine system relies on good nutrition for proper function, maldigestion and malabsorption of nutrients can interfere with normal hormonal function and greatly effect a women’s reproductive health. If a patient exhibits any indication of digestive problems, a comprehensive digestive stool analysis and related tests of gastrointestinal function are useful for identifying other factors that may be contributing to hormonal imbalances.
Lastly, the hair analysis is important for assessing mineral status. A small difference in a mineral ratio can mean a big difference in health. We have found the hair analysis particularly useful in finding and treating undiagnosed thyroid problems, zinc deficiencies and copper imbalances — all which can have a major impact on hormones and fertility. A client can have normal or borderline levels of thyroid hormone in her blood and still have a weak thyroid gland. A hair analysis — particularly the calcium to potassium ratio, can give an accurate measure of the function of the thyroid. A zinc deficiency can show up in the hair analysis which can have an effect on male and female fertility. High copper levels can accumulate as a result of zinc deficiency which can cause elevated estrogen levels, hypothyroidism, iron storage disease and ovarian dysfunction.
During the last few years I have helped many couples achieve pregnancy. Many have combined my suggested natural approaches with their traditional medical treatments with great success. The following are some examples.
One couple had normal every day issues, such as frequent fatigue, muscles aches, and colds every winter. The wive also had a lot of work related stress and was subject to frequent migraine headaches. After making dietary changes and adding key fertility nutritional supplements, they reported feeling much better within one month. During the second month the migraines were dramatically reduced, and eventually went away. Within one year, they achieved pregnancy combined with in vitro fertilization.
Another couple complained of a male factor fertility problem. These are the easiest to work with provided there are no blockages or surgery required. Within several weeks the wife called, excited, stating that her husband’s sperm count had quadrupled. They achieved pregnancy shortly thereafter.
The wife of a third couple came to see me, admitting that she had a terrible diet and needed to make some major changes. After doing a nutritional analysis it was evident that she was not getting the vitamins and minerals that her body needed to function on a daily basis, much less support a pregnancy. She also had some problems with endometriosis and a high stress life style. Within a couple of months of dietary changes and adding certain nutritional supplements where needed they became pregnant. Prior to seeing me, they had tried in vitro fertilization twice. The third time, it worked and they are the proud parents of beautiful, healthy triplets.
Finally, I had worked with one woman for several months before and during her fertility treatments. She said that the nutritional supplements helped her with her energy and coping during this difficult time. She achieved pregnancy, but within several months began bleeding. She was bed-ridden with a high-risk pregnancy for the remaining long months until delivery. She stayed on a special nutrition program throughout her pregnancy and was carefully monitored by her doctor. She delivered a healthy baby girl and has since had two others.
Are there natural approaches that may boost your chances of fertility? While there are never any guarantees that making changes to your diet or adding supplements will result in pregnancy, most people feel substantially better, and report more energy with an overall feeling of well being. One teacher, who has followed a recommended nutrition program and has not yet gotten pregnant said, “For the first year I could remember, I was not sick during the school year, and didn’t come home exhausted to take a nap.”
This alone could make a key life style difference for many who are undergoing a very stressful period in their lives.
Renee A. Simon, M. S., CNS is a Clinical Nutritionist with private practices in New York and Connecticut. She does in person meetings and phone consultations throughout the country. For more information, or to set up an appointment, you can contact her at (914) 763-9107.
March 9, 2000
The Lewisboro Ledger
Lewisboro, N.Y. 5A
by RENEE SIMION
I used to see mostly adults in my practice. Now I see children with learning disabilities, autistic children, children with immune system problems, like ear infections, allergies or bouts of colds and flu. Digestive problems, migraines and other illnesses are also common. Why are so many kids sick today?
To understand the root of the problem, it’s important to look at the interrelationships between the brain, and the digestive and immune systems. Psychoneuroimmunology refers to interactions between the emotional state, nervous system, and the immune system. There is a growing body of knowledge documenting the minds profound influence on health and disease. We know our mood affects the way we feel on a daily basis and that positive imagery can reverse disease.
We also know that stress has a big role on the causation of diseases. We have a lot of stressed‑out children. Divorce is on the rise, and many households have both parents working. School is more challenging and children are bombarded with a myriad of after‑school programs to choose from. Where is down time?
In terms of an immune system tie-in, stress increases adrenal gland hormones that inhibits white blood cell formation and causes the thymus gland to shrink (a key gland for fighting off viral infections).
Another tie‑in is possible nutritional deficiency that can affect the emotional state and immunity. Some studies now show depression to be associated with functional immune decrements and immune over activation. Many kids with learning problems and associated self‑esteem issues are now being labeled with depression.
In terms of digestive system tie-ins, after seeing clients with poor immune function, there is usually a relationship. It could be a chronic yeast overgrowth problem from years of antibiotic treatments causing leaky gut syndrome and problems with nutrient absorption. It could be a constipation problem causing the body to store excess toxins, which may lead to immune deficiencies, or it could be irritable bowel, colitis or crohn’s.
According to Jeffrey Moss, D.D.S., C.N.S., C.C.N., in his newsletter The Moss Nutrition Report, “Treatment of all illnesses of immune dysfunction must include efforts to optimize gut function. In addition, unless gut function is optimized, any improvements of immune‑related illnesses must be considered symptomatic in nature. Finally, any symptom that was alleviated via modalities that do not address gut function in some way will tend to return and or manifest in some other way once the modality is discontinued.”
Bearing this in mind, and understanding that there are also environmental factors like outdoor/indoor pollutants, pesticides, food and water chemicals that can wreak havoc on the immune system, what is a concerned parent to do? The key is to try to prevent it. Would a child without underlying immune problems develop allergies, asthma, or learning disabilities if he were not genetically predisposed? I would suspect the answer to be no. Even if your child is prone to getting infections, following these suggestions will help build a strong immune System. The following is a Iist of basic tips that I have found helpful in getting started in a healthier direction:
- Begin to decrease or eliminate processed foods (candy, soda, foods with preservatives and colorings, etc.) Use instead wholesome, organic foods like fresh fruit, raw vegetables, and quality protein and complex carbohydrates (high fiber cereal, sprouted wheat bread and spelt pasta).Between fiber and the water your child should be having at least one good bowel movement per day. The human body was designed to eliminate toxins on a daily basis. If the colon gets backed up, toxins that need to be eliminated are reabsorbed.
- Make sure your child consumes enough water. I recommend 48 ounces for a younger child, and 64 ounces for a teen. Get a water purifier or order bottled water from a reputable company. Dilute juices with water. Some juices contain almost as much sugar per serving as soda.
- Find a professional to work with who can help identify foods that your child may be allergic to. This method is accurate and will let you know if food allergies are a contributor to your child’s problem. We find that many kids with learning problems and chronic ear infections have a milk and wheat allergy. Other culprits are peanuts, eggs, yeast and soy. Sensitivities worsen over time by kids often eating the same foods daily.
- Investigate the possibility of yeast overgrowth. Yeast problems can have an impact on behavior and can weaken the immune system. A stool test by Great Smokies Lab (you can get the kit at our office) can identify if this is a problem.
- Another test that can be a great diagnostic tool is hair analysis. We often find children with depressed levels of iodine, iron, magnesium and zinc and elevated levels of aluminum, copper, cadmium, and lead are prone to ADD/ADHD and other illness. When exposed to lead it will show up in the blood for around 30 days and then migrate to cells and tissues. The analysis will reflect the biochemistry of the patient over time, including the mineral and metal levels.
- After decreasing your child’s intake of allergenic and processed foods, give him or her a multivitamin and mineral supplement. Give these vitamins with meals and divide into at least two doses. At the first sign of infection use the herbs echinacea, garlic and astragalus as well as vitamin C and carrot juice.
If the child has an ear infection, use warm garlic and mullein oil in the ear canal for a week. If you’ve missed those indicators and your child ends up with a full‑blown infection, follow this procedure as soon as possible to provide the immune system with the extra fighting it needs. If an antibiotic is necessary, always take acidophillus/bifidus to make sure that the drug does not kill off the good bacteria along with bad. I recommend that your child continue to take acidophillus for a week after the antibiotic is finished to continue to build good intestinal flora and reduce the chance of a yeast infection.
My final point is simple: take charge of your child’s health! By identifying and treating underlying conditions, giving your child optimal nutrition, providing a non‑toxic, structured environment that includes time to de‑stress and enjoy everyday, you and your child will be well on your way.
Renee A. Simon MS. is a Clinical Nutritionist with private practices in South Salem and Mt Kisco, New York and Ridgefield Connecticut. She frequently lectures on children’s health. For more information call Ms.Simon, at (914) 763‑9107.
Light Voices, May 1999
By Renee Simon, Nutrition Consultant
You hear the birds chirping and see the flowers budding and right about now you start think lug about doing a spring cleaning. Perhaps you’ll plan to get your windows or house power-washed. Maybe you’ll arrange a liaison with a cleaning company to get the cob webs out of the corners of rooms you don’t use much. Or, if you are a gardener, you’ll start cleaning the last of winter’s debris from your property and begin planning which annuals will be just right this year. A little cutting here, a little pruning there, to make everything just so.
If only we took care of our bodies and souls with the same passion. As a nutritionist, I see a lot of clients after the winter months that are fighting the battle of the bulge and want to look good for bikini time. I also see a lot of clients in the winter months that are used of getting one virus and sinus infection after another, and are ready to do something about it. I’ve yet to see a client who is looking for a spring health makeover.
This article is dedicated to those of us who want to do just that—get revitalized so that we can enjoy what is one of the most pleasant times of the year. The following is what I believe to be essential for a spring health makeover.
Cleanse your body from the normal everyday toxins that we all experience from chemicals we breathe or ingest. External sources range from solar and ionizing radiation to cigarette smoke, air pollutants, heavy metals, ozone, organic solvents, pesticides, and food addictives. I recommend juicing and using herbal colon, liver, and kidney detoxifiers. These organs are essential for energy, vitality and immunity. If they are congested, you will feel sluggish and be prone to getting infections.
Build your immune system with antioxidant vitamins, teas, and other remedies. This is important for everyone, but essential fur those of us who suffer from allergies. Most allergies will go away with a properly functioning immune system.
Work through any emotional conflict that is getting in your way of living in the moment with joy and excitement. It is hard to function at maximum capacity when there is major conflict or stress us your life. Not only will it sap your happiness, but it will cause health-related problems that can manifest as headaches, stomach problems or whatever your particular physical weakness is.
Begin an exercise routine of at least 30 minutes a day of stretching, aerobic exercise, yoga, lightweight lifting or nautilus. This will help you achieve physical and mental health. Exercise is one of the best de-stressors that anyone can do on a daily basis.
Allow time to reduce stress through meditation and daily dreaming. Daily affirmations and visualization will help turn your dreams into reality. They are the key to moving you from where you are to where you want to go. These statements and pictures can be about your health, relationships, reaching a financial or career goal or anything else that is important to you.
Eat cool foods such as salads with a variety of healthy greens, and cold lightly steamed vegetables with low-fat dips and sauces. This is a time move away from heavy meat and pasta dishes. Focus instead on the variety of nutritious and delicious fruits and vegetables that are available this time of the year.
Go to your bliss station every day and enjoy with all of your heart at least one activity!!
We all need something to look forward to and something we find extremely pleasurable.
Please remember that there is more to life than working and carpooling.
I hope this list motivates you to make positive changes in your life to enjoy the upcoming spring season of growth and renewal.
Renee Simon is a Nutrition Consultant and teacher who lectures on a variety of health related topics and the mind and body connection. She specializes in helping clients make dietary and lifestyle changes to achieve optimal wellness. She has a private practice in South Salem, N.Y. and can be reached at (914)-763-9107. Her training is in Holistic Nutrition from the American Academy of Nutrition, and she is in the final stages of completing a Masters in Science in Clinical Nutrition from Bridgeport University.
Renee Simon is a Certified Dietician-Nutritionist, Registered Yoga Teacher and Reiki Master Teacher in South Salem, NY. She uses a unique blend of nutritional consulting, yoga and reiki healing to treat patients of all ages for a variety of medical conditions.