Cowan: Womens Health

Lady Moon, Lady Moon, where are you roving?

     Over the Sea.

Lady Moon, Lady Moon, whom are you loving?

     All that love me.

Cowan’s chapter on Women’s disease took a direction than I anticipated (although now it makes perfect sense), looking to the moon. I guess in the recesses of my brain the correlation between the moon and women (especially after staying with my yogi Dom in Vancouver who sends me emails about cycling-those mindful yogi’s are more aware I tell ya!). It kind of makes me feel like a crappy example of woman, but then I know that it is my conditioning and that it is not just me, which is probably why we have so many different topics to cover today (although I am leaving some out that Cowan includes, so you can check the book for more). Major problem: We have lost our connection to the moon. Just look at the facts:

A normal menstrual cycle lasts 28 days, exactly like the moon

Traditionally (and if we were ‘regular’ today) we would ovulate at the new or full moon and menstruate on the opposite phase. As a result of our loss of connection, we are actually lost. Let us first look at a condition then, involving irregularity: Prolonged Menstrual Cycle. Basically,  this means too much estrogen, so the cycle is longer than 28 days. This is easy to gather as estrogen is so predominant in today’s world: pesticides, plastics, phytoestrogens in plants, estrogens found in meat and dairy, and soy. Not to mention our eating habits. Looking at the soul level, Cowan says, “Disruption of the menstrual cycles follows logically from the changes in life-style that accompanied industrialization. Modern women no longer plant seeds by the moon gather herbs and harvest gran by the moon, make love by the moon or even look at the moon. We are not aware of where the moon is in its cycle, so the link between the lunar rhythm and the inner menstrual rhythm is lost”. You may not believe all the soul talk, but I think a little common sense applied here, and you can see that he has a valid point. What do women need to do to combat the rampant estrogen?

  • Nutrition: Women who suffer from this, tend to be refined sugaraholics. They insteadFour steps to stop sugar addiction need to place an emphasis on animal foods, while steering clear of hydrogenated vegetable oils whose trans fat interfere with cholesterol (remember cholesterol is essential to hormones). Caffeine can also disrupt the endocrine system. Stress: prepare your own foods at a regular schedule (ha- regular schedule for regularity, who would have thought).

Ok so if prolonged cycles are created by estrogen dominance, then shortened cycles must be caused by a deficiency? Bingo, you are really catching on now! As prolonged sufferers tend to be overweight, shortened cycle sufferers can come from the opposite end: anorexia. Other conditions, however, are associated with shortened cycles: hypothyroidism and chronic illness.

Nutrition: of course animal fat is again going to be so vital for someone with shortened cycles (like 40-50% of their diet). Cowan says that eggs (a symbol of fertility) are especially good. Staying away from soy products is a must, as well as substances that could possibly stress the adrenal system: coffee, chocolate, tea, refined sugar.

     I’ve tried in the past to tackle the body issue qualms of Skinnytoday’s world, and again we are going to tick away at this subject. I have many interest, one of them is art (as well as in history, special emphasis on Roman history). I have always held a great love for classic art representative of Greek (or Roman) gods and goddesses. Being that I am in the health industry, my fascination with the human form speaks for itself. When you look at statues or paintings from this time, of women who embody (literally they are the figureheads for these beliefs) beauty and the ideal woman, they do not look like today’s twiglet versions of perfection, nor do they have rippling six-packs. They do look robust in strong, capable of doing a hard day’s work, with the perfect figure for bearing children. Osteoporosis is pretty much a standard risk for women nowadays. Part of this problem comes from our obsession to be skinny. I never seek to lose weight to ‘be skinny’ as I so frequently hear. I understand the importance of balanced eating so as to promote fat loss, while retaining muscle tissue. It’s that elusive skinny fat thing, where women that other envy for their skinniness will come in for body analysis to discover their muscle tissue (lean mass) is low. When my sister dropped a ton of weight before they diagnosed her with Addison’s, I said this wasn’t good. I watched my sister drop from a once healthy and strong female to a skinny frail women with only 80 something pounds of muscle (down from over 100). Anytime I measure someone and the muscle tissue comes up in the 80’s (I’ve even done some in the 70’s), I tell them that is not good. They’re a shoe in for osteoporosis, and the sad thing is muscle tissue is so hard to gain. I’d much rather take a women with a little cushion who loves to eat, because losing weight when you have a higher LBM is easier than having someone afraid of weight increase on the scale, increasing their muscle. Cowan points out that the most common sufferers of osteoporosis are: thin, older white women, astronauts during travel outside of the earth’s gravity field and those suffering from anorexia. The common theme here is too little gravity: our weights puts stress on bones, and tells them how calcified they should be. Supplementing is not going to help you either because taking more calcium is not a guarantee that it will go to your bones. There is nothing stopping it from depositing in your soft tissues- like your arteries. There is no way to stop bone loss and to rebuild bone, other than to increase boy weight. Women fight tooth and nail to combat the natural weight gain that comes with age (about 2 dress sizes bigger than their younger selves), which can also lead to hypothyroidism. These extra fat stores can protect against osteoporosis and retain estrogen. Cowan says:

The only true solution to the problem of osteoporosis, hypothyroidism, severe hot flashes and all the other associated peri- and postmenopausal symptoms is a life-style and an attitude about life that allows you to accept your body’s fluctuating weight demands with the kind of reverence and respect it deserves. To recognize that the ‘ideal’ weight is variable from person to person and within an individual person depending on activity level and stage of life.

Nutrition: Start off by stopping the starving ourselves, with the bullshit concept that to be skinny I need to: eat lowfat (lowfat milk for instance) with fish and skinless chicken breast and raw salads. What we need to do is get ample amounts of animal fat. You know the good stuff: lard, tallow, butterfat, eggs, etc. By easing into your natural weight with fat intake increase you will: end starvation, get adequate vitamin D, stimulate your circulatory pump, normalize estrogen (alleviate hot flashes), and turn down the thyroid. Use sea salt and broths to fill your mineral stores.

Movement: Traditional women (less osteoporosis incidence) spend a lot of time walking slowly (I’m not even going to go on another tangent about today’s exercise wrongs: chronicSomewhere on the road between Kampala and Entebbe, Uganda cardio), usually while carry heavy objects- notably on their heads (okay this really struck me so I wanted to make sure I included it, especially to explain why you may see me carrying baskets of fruit on my head). This would increase the weight and evenly distribute it over the entire body. Cowan also suggests, movements that increase a sense of balance: swinging, gardening, dancing, and rocking in a rocking chair.

Meditation: Stop the incessant obsession with being a size 2. We are not all uniformly built, so listen to your body’s needs. Cooking can be a form of mediation, so enjoy time spent preparing animal fatty delicious foods that will nourish your body and bones.

Today’s post was a little vast, but here are the major points: reconnect with the moon, stopping obsessing over being skinny, avoid estrogen overload especially soy, and eat your fill of animal fats- oh and feel free to carry baskets around on your head anytime.

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