Feb 02

In a recent high profile case, a Canadian woman was convicted of assault and ignoring flight attendant instructions in an air rage case that lit the media and blogosphere on fire because of the connection of the incident to menopause.

Colleen Walsh, who was convicted of slapping another passenger and ignoring flight attendant instructions, blamed her behavior on “menopause exhaustion” caused by a combination of her hormone replacement medication, wine, a sleeping pill, and the lack of sleep. Media and blog commentaries criticized Walsh for fabricating excuses, and accused her of casting a bad light on women in general, and women of menopause age, in particular.

While menopause is not an excuse for Walsh’s “air rage,” it actually could be the cause of her erratic and irresponsible behavior, according to Mia Lundin, a hormone and brain chemistry expert in Santa Barbara, CA. In her book, “Female Brain Gone Insane,” Lundin explains the connection between menopause and brain chemistry imbalances that can cause women to experience what looks and feels like insanity.

“The typical patients that I see cannot sleep, they feel wired and tired, they can’t stand the way they’re acting, and they feel like they’re going insane,” Lundin says. “There are millions of women who are suffering from this imbalance.”

The incident with Colleen Walsh actually seems to be an example of biochemistry gone amok, which is a condition that is more common in women than most people realize, according to Lundin. Perimenopausal and menopausal women who are depleted of estrogen are also depleted of the chemical serotonin, which is an inhibitor of anger and aggression. Without enough serotonin, women find themselves lashing out, seemingly without control, because they don’t have enough of the chemical that gives them the control over their anger in their system.

According to a study by the National Institute of Mental Health, low serotonin can cause a condition called “intermittent explosive disorder,” which is linked to road rage, rage outbursts and even spousal abuse. While most people believe this type of behavior is the result of bad choices or a bad attitude, this study concluded that uncontrolled rage is actually a result of bad brain chemistry for an estimated 16 million Americans.

Low serotonin in perimenopausal and menopausal women is a current epidemic, according to Lundin, but the condition can wreak havoc for post partum and premenstrual women as well. “Serotonin imbalance is one of the most common contributors to female mood problems in the U.S.,” Lundin says.

People who have no personal experience feeling completely out of control due to brain chemistry imbalances tend to discount these symptoms as exaggerated or invalid, according to Lundin. “Too many women are told ‘Your emotional suffering is all in your head,’” Lundin says in her book. But having experienced her own bout with brain chemistry induced “insanity,” Lundin knows firsthand that it is all too real.

Lundin writes about her own hormonal trauma in “Female Brain Gone Insane.” Two decades ago after the birth of her second child, she suddenly felt like she was drowning in anxiety, fear, and panic. “I felt like I was spinning out of control. I had no idea where this was coming from, and I was convinced I was going insane,” Lundin writes.

It was the research she did to cure her own “insanity” that led Lundin to discover the vital connection between hormone balance and brain chemistry in women. After the successful treatment of her own condition she became motivated to start her specialized female health practice. It is her twenty years of experience in that practice treating hormone and brain chemistry imbalances that leads Lundin to believe Colleen Walsh’s claim that her behavior had a hormonal connection.

Only medical tests could have determined if, in fact, Walsh was suffering from low serotonin at the time of the air rage incident. But interestingly enough, low serotonin has been proven to cause both insomnia and cravings for alcohol. From an outside perspective, Lundin sees that the pieces of the brain chemistry imbalance puzzle seem to fit together for Walsh.

Rather than hold Walsh in disdain, Lundin hopes that women will see this incident as a cautionary tale. “Millions of women who feel out of control are really just out of balance,” Lundin says. “These women feel like they are ‘losing it’ and that is real.” Ignoring imbalances has serious consequences, according to Lundin, and the Colleen Walsh air rage incident is just one demonstration of how serious those consequences can be.

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Jan 12

Along with the announcement that the New York City Health Department is establishing guidelines for the sodium level of foods sold and served within its city limits, was an admission by Mayor Mike Bloomberg that he is a big salt consumer himself.

Reportedly Mayor Bloomberg loves hot dogs and popcorn, eats peanut butter and bacon sandwiches, and adds extra salt to his pizza and saltine crackers. The reason the Mayor seems to have an insatiable appetite for all things salty is because sodium is an addictive substance, according to nutrition experts.

“The more salt you eat, the more salt you want. It’s a vicious cycle,” according to Tammy Lakatos Shames, a New York registered dietitian. “Salt is an acquired taste. You aren’t born craving the taste of salt, but you build up a tolerance to it over time” adds Lyssie Lakatos, Tammy’s dietitian twin sister.

The Lakatos sisters (a/k/a The Nutrition Twins) put great emphasis on sodium intake in their nutritional counseling practice because they believe it is one of the biggest health risks in America today.

“People think if they don’t have high blood pressure they don’t have to worry about salt, but that’s not true,” Lyssie says. In the book that the Lakatos sisters co-authored, called “The Secret to Skinny: How Salt Makes You Fat,” the Nutrition Twins list a number of serious maladies that researchers have linked to excessive sodium intake.

Impaired brain function, kidney damage, stomach cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis, and strokes can all be caused by sodium toxicity, researchers say. But the biggest health consequence for excessive salt intake for Americans, according to the Nutrition Twins, is obesity. “Salt makes you fat,” both sisters state emphatically.

In their “Secret to Skinny” book, the Lakatos sisters explain how salt toxicity produces more fat in the body, makes the fat cells more dense, increases food cravings, and decreases the body’s ability to burn fat and repair muscle. This is information that the Nutrition Twins think is vital to the 70 million Americans who are struggling with obesity.

“We definitely think it’s a step in the right direction,” Tammy Lakatos says about New York’s sodium guidelines. “Hopefully this will lead to more awareness about the dangers of salt,” she says.

New York’s sodium guidelines are just the latest in regulatory efforts to motivate healthy eating in the Big Apple. In 2008 New York became the first U.S. city to require restaurants to display calorie counts of foods in menus, on menu boards, and on display case labels. Prior to that, in 2006 New York became the first U.S. city to ban trans fats from all foods and ingredients served in New York City restaurants.

With the latest campaign against high sodium foods, Bloomberg is once again pointing New Yorkers towards good health, and setting the pace for other U.S. city government leaders as well. Hopefully Bloomberg will be pointing his own eating habits in a low-sodium direction too.

Although it’s not clear what, if anything, Mayor Bloomberg will be doing to reduce his own sodium intake, Tammy and Lyssie suggest that he is probably addicted to the taste of salt. If that is the case, going cold turkey is the best way that he could break that addiction.

“Taste buds turn over in 21 days or less,” Tammy says. That’s why, in their book, the Nutrition Twins recommend a 21-day cold turkey salt detox. “After 21 days, your taste buds will adjust, and then when you add salt back into your diet, a little bit will taste like a lot,” Lyssie says.

The Nutrition Twins are hoping that Mayor Bloomberg will use the copy of “Secret to Skinny” that they are sending him to break any addiction he may have to toxically salty foods. But until Bloomberg’s sodium detox is complete, the Lakatos sisters have one big caution for him and every American.

“Read labels!” both Nutrition Twins say emphatically. “Nearly 80% of the sodium intake of the average American is from processed foods, not from what we’re shaking onto our plate,” Lyssie says. “We all need to know more about what how much salt we’re eating and what that sodium is doing to our bodies,” Tammy adds.

Tammy Lakatos Shames and Lyssie Lakatos are registered dietitians and personal trainers with a private practice in New York. They are co-authors of the book, “The Secret to Skinny: How Salt Makes you Fat and the 4-Week Plan to Drop a Size and Get Healthier With Simple Low Sodium Swaps,” and are featured regularly in the media as nutrition and fitness experts.

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Dec 23

Super Saturday snow storms, general financial worries, and a standoff between discount-hungry consumers and discount-adverse retailers have created an American holiday season that is seemingly being thrown together in the last of the last minutes. For millions of Americans who are running short of last minutes, but running long on to-do’s, Jeanne Bice of QVC Quacker Factory fame has two quickie cookie recipes that can be made in the last of last minutes without making you “quackers.” According to Jeanne, there’s no good reason to “get your tinsel in a tangle,” even if you find yourself in a last-minute holiday dash.

Quickie Cookies for Last-Minute Holiday Parties

Office parties, family gatherings, open houses, potlucks, cookie exchanges, tree trimmings, gift swaps, chimney drop-ins and general festive folderol can drive even the most organized baker “quackers” during the holiday season. With some basic baking ingredients, though, stressed-out holiday bakers can arrive at any last-minute, forgotten, or spontaneous holiday gathering with treats that are festive, fun, and, most importantly, fret-free if they follow a couple of simple Jeanne Bice holiday recipes.

Last-Minute Quickie Christmas Cookie Recipes From QVC Quacker Factory's Jeanne Bice Are Stress FreeThe quickie cookie recipes below are part of the “simple recipes to put sparkle, not stress into your season” that Jeanne put together for her Quacker Factory fans in her book, “Jeanne Bice’s Quacker Factory Christmas.” Just like her clothes and her personality, her recipes are home-spun and infectiously appealing. In fact, these two cookie recipes are so easy that they may become new holiday easy bake favorites for many people. According to Jeanne, the best recipes are the ones that are the most hassle-free because “You don’t want to be too pooped to party!”

Seven Layer Quickie Cookie Recipe

RECIPE INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup graham crackers, crushed
1 cup coconut
1 cup butterscotch chips, optional
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup chopped nuts
One 15-oz. can sweetened condensed milk

RECIPE DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine melted butter with graham cracker crumbs in 9 x13-inch pan. Press firmly into pan. Layer in order: the coconut, butterscotch chips, chocolate chips and nuts. Pour sweetened condensed milk evenly over all ingredients.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.

Cookie Baking Is Creative When There’s No Baking Involved

Admittedly, when there’s no oven involved, it’s not technically cookie “baking,” but these next cookies are so creative that nobody with a fun-loving spirit will care. These quickie cookies are all about decorating, which is the best part of holiday baking anyway.

No-Bake Snowmen Quickie Cookie Recipe

Last-Minute Quickie Snowman Christmas Cookie Recipe From QVC Quacker Factory's Jeanne Bice Are Stress FreeRECIPE INGREDIENTS:

1 package 16-oz. Nutter Butter cookies
1 1/4 pounds white candy coating, melted
Miniature chocolate chips
M&Ms miniature baking bits
Pretzel sticks, halved
Orange and red decorating gel or frosting

RECIPE DIRECTIONS:

Using tongs, dip cookies in candy coating; shake off excess. Place on waxed paper.

Place two chocolate chips on one end of cookies for eyes. Place baking bits down the middle of the cookie for buttons. For arms, dip the ends of two pretzel stick halves into coating; attach one to each side.

Let stand until hardened. Pipe the nose and scarf with gel or frosting.

More About Jeanne Bice and Holiday Tips:

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