Hormonal imbalances can happen to women at any age, even though many doctors might initially treat them as a different condition. I’m joined by Dr. Deb Matthew, the Happy Hormones Doctor, to talk about what you need to know about hormone imbalances and how to spot them at any age. She provides some wonderful insight into natural ways to lower your stress levels and also help balance your hormones without medical intervention.
Listen to the Episode
Top Stress Reduction Strategies
- Practicing gratitude
- Breathing exercises
About Dr. Deb Matthew
Deb Matthew MD, the Happy Hormones Doctor, is a best-selling author, international speaker, wife, and mom of 4 boys. She is a frequent guest expert on podcasts, radio, and TV news and talk shows, with more than 60 appearances on NBC, ABC, CBS, and FOX.
Dr. Deb suffered for years with fatigue and irritability, and her quest to restore her own health led her to change everything about how she practices medicine. Now, instead of treating diseases with drugs, she helps resolve the root cause of your health issues to get your hormones back in balance – so you can get WELL, get OFF prescription drugs, and LOVE the way you feel!
How Hormone Imbalances Show up in Younger Women
Hormonal imbalances can affect women at any age, yet doctors often don’t consider it a possibility for younger women. Dr. Deb Matthew talks about some of the common symptoms of hormone imbalances that women in their 20s and 30s might be experiencing.
Unfortunately, it’s not just women in their 20s and 30s who get overlooked by many doctors. Women in peri-menopause are also at risk of hormonal imbalances, especially as they transition into menopause.
Hormonal imbalances can come from any of our hormones. Deb explains how an imbalance of progesterone, testosterone, and estrogen can show up and impact our overall health.
Deb explains how stress can play a big role in how our hormones impact our health. She offers three simple methods to calm your stress levels to try to regulate your hormones, though often medical intervention is necessary.
Natural Ways to Balance Your Hormones
Lauryn also explains the difference between intuitive eating and mindful eating, as so many people think these are the same
Deb talks through some of the ways to diagnose hormone imbalances in women and why you’d choose the different options. She also gives some specific testing options for younger women who think they might have a hormone imbalance and how to start talking to their doctors about them.
If you do have a hormonal imbalance, you might have to have some kind of medical intervention to improve it. However, Deb explains some of the ways you can help your body without medication.
First, you should eat at least one serving of cruciferous vegetables every single day. Cruciferous veggies, or the DIM supplement, can really help balance you have more optimal hormone health.
Finally, Deb offers some other natural ways you can improve any hormone imbalances you have.
I’d love to know – what are you grateful for today? Let me know in the comments below!
“Nutrition is really important, physical exercise is really important, exercise is great for balancing hormones, it’s great for the quality of sleep and natural anti-anxiety and anti-depressant. We want to get enough physical exercise and we have to manage our stress, too. Because when we’re stressed, cortisol levels go up, that’s our main stress hormone. And cortisol regulates all the other hormones.” [14:25]
“If you are feeling scared, worried, bitter, et cetera, your body can’t feel gratitude and fear and worry at the same time, so practicing gratitude is a way to shift. So if you catch yourself being upset and stressed, if you just stop and think of three things that you’re grateful for, it really makes a shift in your body.” [17:44]
“If you are going to do Estrogen Replacement Therapy, which I think is very valuable and the risks outweigh the benefits for the vast majority of women, but we want to put that Estrogen in a healthy body. It’s not so much that the Estrogen is the problem, it’s how your body processes and uses the Estrogen. If you can be the healthiest version of you, you’re so much more likely to get the benefits of Estrogen and so much less likely to have the risks.” [31:54]
In This Episode
- Common symptoms women in their 20s and 30s have that could indicate a hormone imbalance [5:30]
- What role testosterone has in a woman’s body and how a lack of it can present [12:15]
- How practicing gratitude can help lower your stress levels [17:45]
- Some of the different types of hormone testing [20:11]
- The top hormone tests for younger women to determine if their cycle is correct [22:30]
- Why you need to eat cruciferous vegetables for optimal hormone health [29:00]
- Some natural ways you can improve your hormone imbalance [33:00]
Links & Resources
Recommended Breathing Apps
Dr. Deb Matthew 0:03
A lot of women will feel a little achy for a couple of days before their period. But sometimes this is really disruptive. The bloating and the ache Enos and the breast tenderness. All of these things go up and down because our hormones are supposed to be cycling. But if they're not cycling regularly, it can cause a lot of disruptions.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 0:24
Welcome to the longevity blueprint podcast, I'm your host, Dr. Stephanie gray. My number one goal with the show was to help you discover your personalized plan to build your dream health and live a longer, happier, truly healthier life.
You're about to hear from Dr. Deb Matthew, the happy hormone doctor who's gonna dive into low hormone symptoms, appropriate lab testing and how to get you feeling better. Let's get started.
Thank you for joining me for another episode of the longevity blueprint podcast. Today I have with Dr. Deb Mathieu as a guest. She is known as the happy hormones doctor, she's a best selling author, international speaker, wife and mom of four boys. She's a frequent guest expert on podcasts, radio and TV news and talk shows with more than 60 appearances on NBC, ABC, CBS and Fox. Dr. Deb suffered for years with fatigue and irritability. And her quest to restore her own health led her to change everything about how she practices medicine. Now, instead of treating diseases with drugs, she helps resolve the root cause of your health issues to get your hormones back in balance. So you can get well get off prescription drugs and love the way you feel. I love that. So welcome, Dr. Matthew, thank you for being here. Oh, it's great to be here. In chapter six of my book, Your longevity blueprint, I'm comparing the heating and the cooling system of the home to the endocrine system within the body.
So in your home during hot and cold months, your comfort likely depends on the ability of your heating and cooling systems to regulate the temperature of your house. And similarly, your body's comfort depends on its ability to heat and cool as needed. So that's the role of your endocrine system and network of glands that secrete hormones, coordinating a range of bodily functions, and I'm talking about thyroid and ovaries here. So these are the organs that make the thyroid hormones estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. And so today, we're going to focus on that chapter of my book really discussing how to optimize these hormones. And we have an expert on to talk about such So Dr. Matthew, tell us your story. How did you become the happy hormone doctor?
Dr. Deb Matthew 2:26
Well, I wasn't so happy back in the day. So I was I was not exactly sick. But I was exhausted all the time. Like I remember when you're my family went to Disney when my kids were little. And we were standing in line at Pirates of the Caribbean, it was our first ride of the Disney vacation, and the kids are so excited. And I was so exhausted, despite eight hours of sleep the night before and two cups of coffee already, I could barely keep my eyes open.
And all I wanted to do was just crawl over to that bench and lay down. And I just didn't know how I was even going to get through the day. So I just had to put one foot in front of the other to get through for the sake of the kids. And I felt exhausted all the time. I was always freezing cold. And even though I live in North Carolina, I took a sweater with me everywhere because the air conditioning in the restaurants and the movie theaters was just so unpleasant. And the worst was the refrigeration section of the grocery.
But the thing is, I didn't understand what was going on. Because nothing in my medical training helped to explain this. I already knew that I was hypothyroid I was already on thyroid medicine. And my thyroid labs were quote unquote, normal. And yet I still had all these symptoms, I couldn't get rid of the belly fat. And it wasn't until my husband kind of sort of getting fed up with me because I was like the the Wicked Witch of the West, I was flying off the handle with my kids. And then I felt so guilty for shrieking at them. Because that is not the kind of mom that I wanted to be. And really, my husband is the one that you know really kind of bore the brunt of my bad behavior. Sure.
But he actually found a book he wanted me to read. It was called the sexy years. And it was by Suzanne summer now you know how much medical professionals love to get our information from celebrity. Right? I looked at the book, and I thought he was nuts. But I knew that we had to do something. And so I did read the book. And I gotta tell you, that book really changed my whole life. Because when I read about the women in the book, and how much better they felt when they got their hormones in balance, suddenly everything that was happening to me made sense. And I learned that there were places that I could go to learn to practice medicine in a different way. Or were really getting to the root cause of the problem. And I learned that there was really science behind this. It's just that it didn't depend on drugs. And so it really is not what we were taught at medical school. But I learned there was another way to treat my thyroid so that I could get back into balance.
I got my energy back, like kids got their mom back, my husband got his wife back, and I got my life back. But I could not go back to practicing that as the old way, because it just didn't make sense anymore. Right? That hadn't worked for you, you found a new way. And then you wanted to share that with others. That's how it happens a lot of the time. So you shared how hormone imbalances that had affected you. How do these affect women at different stages of their life? Let's start with younger women, maybe their 20s and 30s? What what symptoms could the audience possibly resonate with?
So really commonly, the kinds of things that we see when women are in their 20s and 30s are things that affect the menstrual cycle. So really heavy periods, like miserable periods where you like afraid to even be away from the bathroom, you know, to go out and live your life, and periods that are irregular, either they're coming way too often lasting way too long, or you're missing a bunch of periods. And then there's that PMS, I mean, you know, a lot of women will feel a little achy for a couple of days before their period. But sometimes, this is really disruptive, and the bloating and the ache Enos and the breast tenderness and the food cravings, where you want to eat the whole fridge, and our mood. So all of these things tend to you know, kind of go up and down because our hormones are supposed to be cycling. But if they're not cycling regularly, it can cause a lot of disruptions. And that's ovarian hormone issues. But then of course, thyroid hormone issues can happen to anyone at any age. And then you feel exhausted and cold and constipated and you lose interest in sex and hair falls out or gets dry and dull, dry skin, there's a whole constellation of symptoms. Sure. And binary problems is a really common cause for women to have menstrual irregularities. But that's not usually looked for. If you go in and you complain about horrible periods, usually, you're just handed birth control pills, right? That's the end of the conversation.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 6:53
I totally agree. When patients come to see me, they're usually on birth control for their heavy cycles. One of the first things we do we do test their hormones, even though they're on birth control, it'd be better if they were off, but many patients don't want to stop. And we test their thyroid, of course, because we want to identify if that is part of the underlying problem. And Brexit, of course, I see a lot of women who come in with infertility issues because of the irregular cycles, you alluded to, and potentially pcls whatnot. And clearly, they have hormone imbalances. So these, these symptoms can start at a young age. So then as women continue to age, what can the symptoms then develop into? So what are some perimenopausal or menopausal symptoms?
Dr. Deb Matthew 7:30
Yeah, so for women over 35, then we sort of get into this phase of our life that we call perimenopause. And all of those things we said can just get worse. So the heavier periods, the PMS, like instead of a couple of days, it can last for a whole week or even two weeks. So women who had perfectly normal regular cycles in their 20s, and 30s. Now all of a sudden, can start to have these rotten periods and all this PMS symptoms. And really typically, what's happening at this point in their lives is that their ovaries are still making estrogen reasonably well. She's not making progesterone, and progesterone is the calming hormone. So when progesterone is fizzling out, we tend to not sleep soundly at night. So we're waking up at 2am and 4am. And of course, if we're not sleeping soundly, you don't feel good the next day. But also because progesterone is the calming hormone, when it goes away. We don't feel so calm anymore. So we are much more likely to feel anxious, or irritable, negative, critical, impatient, easily frustrated, like we're just not our best version of ourselves.
And I know for me how that looked was I started waking up in the middle of the night, sometimes with panic attacks. I've never had panic attacks before. I'd never been an anxious person before. There was nothing happening in my life that was worth panicking over. But for no apparent reason, I would wake up. And fortunately, as a physician, I knew what was I could identify Well, thankfully, you know, panic attacks are really scary. So sleep problems, anxiety problems. These are some of the things that we see in women who are over 40 or even over 35. But if you go into your doctor to say, I'm not sleeping well, or now I'm feeling more anxious than usual, or all of a sudden, I'm irritable and I'm shrieking at my kids. Well, you're going to get Ambien, Prozac, Xanax, right? I mean, what we are trained to do in medical school is write prescriptions. But those prescriptions are just putting band aids on the symptoms are not really getting you back to feeling like yourself again. And this is not normal. This is common. A lot of women feel this way. But it is not normal. And you do not have to put up with this. Agreed 100%. Yeah, so we talked a lot about lower progesterone symptoms now at which comfort I usually tell patients, usually progesterone is the first hormone to go, it declines first, and then estrogen and testosterone can reduce.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 9:50
So let's talk about some low later in life again, usually, what are low estrogen and low testosterone symptoms?
Dr. Deb Matthew 9:56
Yeah, so let's say now you get into your 50s You're really going into menopause and your estrogen level. Now it drops too. So your periods will get lighter, more spaced apart, and eventually they'll stop. And you can get hot flashes, of course, right. And you know, if you have mostly night sweats without hot flashes, that's usually a progesterone issue. If you're having hot flashes, night sweats all, any old time of day, that more likely that your estrogen level is dropping, although it's not the only cause of hot flashes. But one of the major things that I see women complain about is that their brain is just not working. And there, they can't think of the word they want to say, or they walk into the room, and then they can't remember why they're there. And it's so frustrating, like, there just aren't enough sticky notes to keep track of everything anymore.
And it affects our sleep, it affects our mood, so that we can estrogen is like a natural antidepressant, or as professors like the natural anti anxiety, so we can just feel, you know, just not as joyous and lose a bit of that spark. So memory, mood, sleep, energy, these are all things that start to shift. And all through these hormone changes to another thing that we haven't really mentioned so much yet is metabolism. You know, the average woman can gain 20 pounds when she goes through menopause. And usually it's right around the waist, like right around the midsection. And so many women come in because all of a sudden, they're piling on this weight on their belly, and all the things that they used to do to maintain their weight aren't working anymore, which is super frustrating. Sure, I will add to that huge list of symptoms, vaginal dryness. So I do see a lot of women come in with painful intercourse, vaginal dryness as well. And bone density issues. hormones are really important for bone density, not that you necessarily have symptoms of poor bone density, but you may discover that you have low bone density. And with testosterone, I want to go back to that real quick to low libido. Also depression, I've seen a lot of women depression improved.
A lot of women's depression improved yes on estrogen and progesterone, but even testosterone because I feel like it gives them back this, there's been their step and they feel like their back, they got their mojo back. So that can really help with mood as well. The way that I actually hear women describe about low testosterone. And when I say this back to women, a lot of women will resonate with this is that they just put one foot in front of the other to make their way through the day. And if something really has to be done today, they'll do it. But if it doesn't really have to get done today, they just kind of leave it by the side, because they're just not really feeling it. So testosterone is so important for our motivation and confidence and self esteem and getting stuff done. And so we're just not ourselves. And so again, it's hard to really be able to describe how that feels to put your finger on it. And when you march into your doctor to say, I lack motivation, and I've lost my spark and I've lost my mojo, they don't really have anything to offer, right? Except antidepressants, which is lower libido. Yes, which make it worse.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 12:53
We've talked a lot about women here, but I will also I want to echo some of those symptoms that you just mentioned how you described to patients, or how they described to you just not being able to get that next step to take that next step. I hear that a lot for men also that men go through. We could say menopause or andropause also where they lose their confidence, they lose that that zip in their step, or they just can't accomplish what they used to accomplish. And maybe their their job is now suffering. So they also need to have their hormones optimized. So everything that we'll talk about today applies to men. Also, we're just focusing on women a little bit more here. So how do our lifestyle habits affect our hormones, these thyroid levels, the estrogen, progesterone and testosterone that we know are so important, really has a tremendous effect.
Dr. Deb Matthew 13:36
So if we think about things like what we're eating, when we eat a diet high in sugar, sugar just promotes inflammation. Inflammation throws our hormones out of whack. And a lot of times I will find that when women come in and we measure their hormone levels, we have to wait for the test results, right and we can talk them into improving their lifestyle habits while we're waiting for results. Oftentimes, by the time they come back in they feel so much better. Yes. And I think that's really important because we don't want people to think that you have to rely on some kind of a hormone replacement therapy to feel better. That's that's only a piece of the puzzle. Right? So cutting out sugar makes a big difference. eating lots of the healthy fruits and vegetables. Healthy Fats are really important. And we're eating the wrong fats, inflammatory processed foods, it really does make things worse. So nutrition is really important. physical exercise is really important. Exercise is great for balancing hormones is great for quality of sleep and natural anti anxiety, natural antidepressant. So we want to get enough physical exercise. And then we got to manage our stress too, because when we're stressed, cortisol levels go up. That's our main stress hormone. Yep. Or does all regulates all the other hormones. So once again, if you're under a lot of stress, and like who isn't these days, right? cortisol just knocks your other hormones out of whack.
So you'll come in saying I've got you know menstrual problems, more PMS, my thyroid isn't working. And really, if we only were to focus on those and not address the stress and the cortisol, we never really quite get it right. So we really have to take a whole person approach when we're bringing your hormones back into balance. That's so true. That's so important, you know, but I'll share with the audience. So I live in Iowa, of course, and we have this land, Hurricane this to Rachel, that hit us last week. And we had to close the clinic for a week, and I have so many staff members and family members whose homes were destroyed, we had damaged and doing all the contractors, you have to call to get everything fixed, but you don't have power. So I mean, there's just a whole nother level of stress above COVID in my city right now. And this will err months down the road, when hopefully, by here, there's like a year wait to get your roof fixed at this point. So maybe the stress won't be behind. But we likely will be in better shape by the time this airs. So between now, and then I have a lot of work to do with my family, my staff, my patients, because these are stressors, we have no control over right. There are some stressors that we do have control over, we can set healthy boundaries with relationships, and we can say no to certain things. But there are certain stressors that are going to be there for the rest of our lives that we can't predict. But what we can control is our body's response to that stress.
And so I think right now, being affected by the storm has put things in more perspective for me. Today, you thankfully were available. Last minute, we had to cancel her interview last week, because we had no power no internet. Um, but she was available last minute. And I would normally never do something last minute because I want everything to be just perfect and get all my ducks in a row. But I have a new perspective and a new appreciation for life. I think after going through what I've gone through, and I think there's going to be something that we learned, and we can always learn from our stressors. But I know what I need to do and what I'll be advocating for my patients to really take time for themselves. Everyone's been working so hard cutting trees, I heard 200 chainsaw injuries in the emergency room this weekend. Everyone's just pushing, pushing, pushing, right? We're Go go go, everyone's cortisol is just jacked up right now just like if you're running a marathon, and so we are going to have to implement calming activity. So these are things like meditation, deep breathing, not going out in and running 10 miles, we don't need to be adding to high cortisol, but really advocating for stress reduction practices, it's a practice, we need to be incorporating these things daily, and I'm preaching to myself here. Now more than ever, in my life, this is something that we have to be doing, or we're going to unfortunately, see the negative effects of this stressor on our hormones as a community.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 17:33
So what are your top stress reduction strategies? And maybe I just mentioned some of them, but what do you recommend with your patients.
Dr. Deb Matthew 17:40
So I'll give you my three top ones. So the first one is gratitude. Because if you are feeling scared, worried, you know, bitter, etc, your body can't feel gratitude and fear and worry at the same time. So it's a way to shift. So if you catch yourself being upset and stressed, if you just stop and think of three things that you're grateful for, it really makes a shift in your body. The second one is breathing exercises, just slow, deep belly breaths, it's free, even if the gym is closed, you can still use it, you don't need a babysitter, you know, we all know how to breathe. And then the third one is the meditation.
And of course, meditation is hard. And you can't just get up and meditate for 30 minutes, just like you wouldn't get up and run 10 miles, you would start by walking. So you're gonna start somewhere. And one of the tricks though I actually recommend to my patients is on your phone, you can download some free apps like calm and insight timer and breathe. And they've got some little breathing exercise and little meditations on there just to get you started if this is something that's new for you love that. So I've heard of the column one, what was the second one you said in there's one called insight timer, i n s i gh T, okay. And then the third one is called breathe. Wonderful. We'll post those in the show notes. So this is something you literally have to put on your schedule to do, whether it's over lunch, whether it's before work, or after work. I've talked to a lot of colleagues who they meditate after work before they go home to see their family after a stressful day at work. They incorporate some meditation. So just so important. So thank you. those are those are good tips.
And you may have heard me mentioned the nutrient dem on several episodes, and I want to take a moment to describe exactly what that is. When I was in graduate school, my doctorate focused on estrogen metabolism. Now you're probably wondering what that even means and why it matters to your health. Well, research has shown that our risks for fibroids cysts and breast ovarian, uterine, prostate and colon cancer can all be linked back to estrogen, but it's not the levels of estrogens that can increase our risk. Instead, it's the way our bodies handle that estrogen that matters. We can run individual lab tests for this which I often recommend to my patients. That's called estrogen metabolism testing, which has to be done in the urine. Even without the test however, it is safe to take a supplement and extract up cruciferous vegetables to improve your estrogen metabolism. That's basically like taking in six pounds of those veggies per day in a capsule form without the gaps that supplement is called dim VM.
You can also use methylated B vitamins as well as specific targeted antioxidants like resveratrol to help improve your estrogen metabolism and help protect you from that cancer risk. Of course, also, make sure you have your practitioner run a comprehensive genetic analysis to see from another perspective, if you are at increased risk and help you learn what you can do to lower that, if you're interested in learning more about dim, read chapter six of my book your longevity blueprint, and check that our product info sheet at your longevity blueprint comm Ford slash product Ford slash dim to get 10% off dim alone, use code dim or to get 15% off our estrogen detox bundle with dim methylated Bs and antioxidant support. Just use the code estrogen detox when checking out at your longevity blueprint calm. Now let's get back to the show.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 20:53
So how do you know if you have a hormone imbalance?
Dr. Deb Matthew 20:57
So that's a really great question. Because we've just said that, you know, you know you don't feel right, something doesn't feel normal, you don't feel like yourself. But how do you really know if it's because of your hormones. And one big clue is if it fluctuates with your menstrual cycle. So if you have PMS symptoms, but then you start to feel better when you're on your period, usually the week after your period is the good week. And that's the week when you're chopping your broccoli, and you're going to the gym and you're cleaning out your closets. And then it starts to go downhill again into the PMS. So if you have that kind of up and down with your symptoms, that's a really good clue that it's hormones. Once you get into sort of perimenopause and menopause, you don't necessarily get that same kind of sick like signal. And so it can be harder to know. So really, the best way to know for sure is to get your hormone levels tested. And then you'll know.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 21:49
So let's talk about testing. How do we test?
Dr. Deb Matthew 21:52
Well, there are actually a lot of different ways that you can have your hormones tested, you can do just a regular blood test, there's a blood spot test where you prick your finger, we have urine testing, we have saliva testing, and all of them will work. There's some cases where one kind would be better than another in certain circumstances. But really any of them can at least tell you whether your hormones are pretty close, or whether they're way out of balance. One of the trickiest parts is if you walk into your family practice doctor or your gynecologist and say, I want my hormones tested. It doesn't always go so well. Some of the things that I hear women say that is that their doctor told them, you're too young to have a hormone problem, or we don't do that right. Or if they are willing to test the hormones. Usually what they test is FSH follicle stimulating hormone. And and that's okay, that's a hormone that kind of gives us an idea of how well your ovaries are working and whether you're heading into perimenopause or menopause.
But it doesn't actually tell us what your hormone levels are. So it only gives us a little snippet of the information. So really, if you want a comprehensive hormone evaluation, where we look at all these different hormones to understand how they interplay, you need to find someone who is a functional medicine practitioner, because it's not enough that your hormones are in the quote unquote, normal range for the lab, because the normal range is kind of looking for tumors. And so oftentimes what will happen is one hormone will be in the upper end of the normal range, and another will be in the lower end of the normal range. And technically, they're both normal, but they're not in balance. And so you have symptoms. And so if your doctor just says everything is normal, that's really unhelpful. So what I find many times is patients will come in and say the exact same thing, my doctor tested my hormone levels, and he told me they were fine. So basically, by getting the FSH done, you just know if you're in menopause or not, it's really not telling us if you have what you were alluding to potentially higher estrogen, lower progesterone, whatnot.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 23:49
So I know listeners are going to want to know more. So let's dive in a little bit more into testing. So for a younger woman, what is your preferable method of testing? If she is cycling? She's not on birth control? Like what would be the best? What's your top test that you recommend for the younger women.
Dr. Deb Matthew 24:07
So depending on the issue, if somebody is having very irregular periods, and we kind of don't exactly know what's going on, we can actually do a test, or we measure the hormone levels multiple times over the one month period, so that we can see whether the hormones are kind of going up and down and cycling the way that they should. So we can do that by a urine test or by a saliva test. And there are different companies that do that. So we call that cycle mapping. We're trying to understand what's going on. If it's somebody who has a very regular period, you know, like clockwork, every 28 days, sometimes even for younger women, I just do a one time test. And that would be on day 1920 or 21 of the menstrual cycle. And I actually kind of like urine testing the best because it gives us more information than just what your hormone level is. It actually tells us more about how your body is processing or metabolizing the form
Dr. Stephanie Gray 25:00
Which I want to get to in a moment. I totally agree with everything you said, I just want to comment on that further. So that cycle mapping you mentioned is super helpful. So for some patients who are having symptoms, but maybe not bleeding regularly, the benefit of saliva testing every couple days, because who would want to get their blood tested every couple days, I mean, I've had patients do it, but it's not enough, usually not very convenient. The benefit of doing that saliva test is then we can correlate symptoms with labs, right? They can write down when they're having symptoms, if they're having headaches or you know, whatnot, major mood changes the sleep disturbances, anxiety, we can correlate that with the lab. So I love being able to put symptoms together with paper. So cycle mapping is I totally agree great. And usually I use saliva at least for for that. I also agree that there's a time and place where we can just do a spot check in the blood for patients just if we just kind of want to see potentially one of days 1920 or 21, strategically, because that's when progesterone is supposed to be highest, right? That's a week after ovulation. That's when your your your great calming hormone you've alluded to is supposed to be the highest. If it's low during that time. Euston, we have a problem, right? Because it's more the rest of the month.
Dr. Deb Matthew 26:07
So I totally agree, spot checking can be very useful. The urine tests agree again, is the best because we get a lot more information than just the levels we get to see estrogen metabolism. So urine testing is usually not covered by insurance for those who are listening. But I think for the amount of information you're getting, if you if we did check all those levels in the blood, you're going to pay 1000s of dollars, you're going to pay a lot more than you would pay for a urine test. So I I love the urine test. And there are several companies that offer that. So let's talk about the strength also in that urine test being looking at estrogen metabolism, how our body's metabolizing those hormones. So let's I'll let you take it from here, what you like to see and what findings are abnormal that we don't like. So when we do this urine test, it breaks up the estrogen into the three different forms of estrogen because we've got different kinds of estrogen in our body.
And there's estradiol, which is the strong one that keeps you young estriol, which is the one that has somewhat breast protective and as strong, which is more made in body fat and your adrenal glands. And that's the one that is more associated with breast cancer risks. So we kind of want to look at your pattern. And then it breaks it down further to understand how our body processes the estrogen to get it out of our system. So our body can process it into three different forms. We call them 208, h four oh, H and 16 h estrogens. And the two h estrogen is the one that is somewhat breast protective, the 16, which is the one that actually kind of protects your bones, but doesn't really help in terms of breast cancer. And the four oh H is the one that can be further processed into an estrogen metabolite that actually can damage DNA and could promote breast cancer, so we can see which one's your body is making.
And if your body is making plenty of the healthy one and just a tiny bit of the bad one, then we're happy with that, right? We see that it's shifted, and you're making a lot of the wrong one, then that tells us that your body may be producing the kinds of estrogen that could promote your risk for breast cancer. And we need to fix that. And there are ways that we can fix it. So sometimes the reason that you're making too much of the wrong one is genetic. We're all born with these different forms of these different genes. So genetically, you may be set up to go the wrong way. But even so there are lots of lifestyle things, nutritional supplements, things we can do to shift that more into the good direction. And you know, I remember the first time that I saw somebody who had a really high level of that bad estrogen metabolite, most of her estrogen was going into that bad direction. So it was distinctly abnormal. And unfortunately, she's somebody who has already been diagnosed with breast cancer.
So what we want to do is we want to figure this out before somebody gets breast cancer so we can change their future. Absolutely, absolutely. my doctorate focused on estrogen metabolism. I, I talk about this a little bit in my book, because we both are trained through a four in the American Academy of anti aging medicine. And I remember hearing this, I just thought, why was I never told this. This is what every single woman should have tested. This is not fair. This is not right. We need to have this information. And then like you said, not after the fact sure it's still helpful after the fact after a diagnosis of breast cancer. This is the test I went on all my patients who come to me with breast cancer, but what about for the 20 and 30 year olds who may or may not have family history of breast cancer, but who have fibroids or cysts, they have problems with estrogen metabolism, and we could help them with those symptoms, and hopefully also prevent breast cancer.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 29:40
So I think this test is wonderful. So let's talk about some of that you alluded to if some of those markers are abnormal, there are things we can do.
Dr. Deb Matthew 29:48
The good news is there are things we can do to fix those. So what are your top nutrients or supplements that you would recommend if some of those ratios or metabolites are found to be unfavorable and risk inducing The first thing thing that I always start with no matter what the test looks like is good and healthy lifestyle habits so less than healthy nutrients because we want the right vitamins and minerals so that your body can function the way that it's meant to. And specifically, we want to look at healthy fats. Things like omega three fatty acids are very beneficial for hormones. We like healthy fiber, ground flaxseed is one of my favorite things to recommend for women who have estrogen dominance, or this like the fibroids and the fibrocystic breast and the heavy periods and that kind of thing. And then the nutrient that really is probably the best of all is called dim dye indole methanol, which is really kind of like extract of broccoli, because it's a nutrient that is found in cruciferous vegetables, so broccoli, cauliflower, kale, brussel sprouts.
And so we want you to eat all of those foods anyway, no matter what your estrogen metabolism is, we really want women to eat at least one serving of cruciferous vegetables a day for good hormone health, especially if your hormone health is not so great. And if you have estrogen dominance, and if your hormone metabolism is not going so well, we can give this to you as a nutritional supplement in order to help shift how your body metabolizes estrogen down the better direction. Wonderful. I do I heavily recommend him to many of my patients and even to men, even to men because dim is a weak aromatase inhibitor. So what that means is it'll prevent testosterone from converting to estrogen. So if we're going to give men testosterone, they usually want to have higher testosterone and that higher estrogen. So dim is useful for cancer prevention, not just breast cancer prevention, but prostate, ovarian, uterine and colon cancer. So dim is very helpful in both sexes, and usually of all ages. So that is a nutrient that I use a lot of, what about B vitamins Do you use many B vitamins.
So one of the ways that estrogen is cleared from our system is a process called methylation. And this is a chemical process that has to go on in the body in order to clear lots of toxins not and as well, as you know, we got to clear away yesterday's estrogen to make way for today's estrogen. And not everybody genetically is great at methylation. And sometimes we can add certain B vitamins to help with methylation, specifically, full eight and B 12. But they have to be the right form of full eight and B 12. So folic acid is the standard thing and like every vitamin that you get when you shop at the grocery store or the you know pharmacy, but folic acid is manmade, it's synthetic, it's never found in nature, it's never found in your body. And it's not great to help us with methylation. But folinic acid is the natural form. And the one that we usually recommend in nutritional supplements is called methyl folate, because this methyl folate helps with this whole methylation process helps us to properly and safely metabolize estrogen out of our system, as well as lots of other toxins.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 32:51
And I'm just going to segue here for just a minute to mention that women are often scared of estrogen, and they're worried about breast cancer, right?
Dr. Deb Matthew 32:59
So pre menopausal women who are still making their estrogen, but they're not making progesterone very well. That is the risk factor for breast cancer, because progesterone is breast protective. So if you are estrogen dominant, if you don't have enough progesterone, that is a risk factor for pre menopausal breast cancer, which is the really scary kind, right, because when you're younger breast cancer sometimes can be more dangerous than if you're 70. If you're menopausal, and we're trying to decide whether or not to give you hormone replacement therapy, estrogen has so many benefits and the risks of breast cancer really probably much more than we could talk about today, but have been thrown way out of proportion.
And the real message here is if you are going to do estrogen replacement therapy, which I think is very valuable, and the risks outweigh the benefits for the vast majority of women, but we want to put that estrogen in a healthy body. So it's not so much of that estrogen. That's the problem is how your body processes and uses the estrogen. So if you can be the healthiest version of you, you're so much more likely to get the benefits of estrogen and so much less likely to have the risks. Love it, love it. Love it. That really bad marker you alluded to earlier that can lead to DNA damage. I have seen in many patients and usually what is recommended for that as antioxidants. Would you agree to help protect Yes, Ivana because what happens is that bad estrogen can get oxidized, and then the oxidized form is what can damage the DNA. So if we can swoop in and inactivate it with lots of antioxidants, then we can take that harmful substance so we can kind of neutralize it before it has a chance to costumer ding ding ding. Yes, good. So there's a solution. Regardless of the findings on the hormone test, there is a solution. And then of course, we can repeat the test and make sure that it's better confirm. Yes, absolutely. So now that listeners have probably heard how important their hormones are and that they likely have some symptoms of hormone imbalance and they need hormone tests to be run. How can they start getting your hormones back in check and balance them naturally? Yeah. So the first step would be to think about lifestyle habits.
So eating healthy foods, avoiding processed junk food, managing stress, moving your body sleep, we haven't really talked about sleep yet. But sleep is so important because a lot of these hormones are made at night while we are sleeping. Yeah, and yet, if you haven't, whether it's a thyroid problem or lack of progesterone, one of the first thing that goes astray is usually a quality of sleep. But sleep is really important.
So managing lifestyle habits is really the first place to start. If you are estrogen dominant, doing some things like ground flax seed trying some dim omega three fatty acids, these are you know, B vitamins, these are some things that can kind of help B six is something that can often help with PMS symptoms. There's herbs out there that are sometimes useful cheese tree extract is something that can help boost progesterone. And of course, there's a whole blend of herbs that women use, sometimes as they're trying to go through menopause, things like black cohosh. So if you have minor symptoms, these lifestyle things may be all that you need in order to get your hormones back in balance. You know, for some women, though, it's not enough. And I actually see a lot of women who are generally healthy, and they have pretty good lifestyle habits. And often they already have tried, you know, they're doing yoga, and they've cut out sugar like they're already have tried that. And sometimes good lifestyle habits aren't enough to compensate for all the hormonal things that are going on. And that's when you really need to find a professional to help you totally agreed.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 36:31
So what would your top longevity tip be?
Dr. Deb Matthew 36:36
So my top longevity tip would be that we need to take control of our own health, and not rely on doctors to prescribe medications to make us well, because prescription drugs can put band aids on your symptoms, they can do damage control, sometimes they can be life saving, right? I mean, if you've got a horrible infection, I mean, sometimes medicines are really, really important. But if we think that we can just go in for our annual physical, and you know, take our blood pressure pill, or antidepressants are whatever been prescribed, and that that's enough to live a long, healthy life with great quality, it just is not. So we all need to be responsible, we need to take care of ourselves. Because I believe that living well is the best medicine. Thank you so much. So tell us where listeners Connect can connect with you. And I hear you have a free gift for the audience. So tell us about that. Yeah, so I wrote a book to help women understand whether hormones could be the reason that they're not feeling their best.
So the book is called this is not normal, a busy Woman's Guide to symptoms of hormone imbalance. And it's got a lot of checklists, you know, so you can check your symptoms off and sort of help to figure out is that a progesterone problem? Is it a thyroid problem? Is it a testosterone problem? And we have a free ebook? for anybody who's interested. It's at Is it your hormones.com, you can download a free ebook. And then my website is signature wellness dot o RG. And we've got tons of blog posts and all kinds of resources to help women and men understand what's going on and what to do to fix it because this is not normal. And you do not have to put up with feeling this way. And this isn't going away. Because of stress and poor nutrition and whatnot. This is something that every generation is going to be dealing with. So thankfully, we have doctors like yourself who are giving us advice and solutions.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 38:31
So thank you so much, Dr. Matthews for coming on the show and emphasizing to our audience, that getting their hormones back in line is truly going to improve their quality of life and is one step getting back to really loving their life.
Dr. Deb Matthew 38:42
Oh, thank you. Thank you so much for having me.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 38:46
I hope you now know that hormone imbalances, although common are not normal and you don't have to feel the way you do and you don't have to succumb to medication usage. Find a provider who can test your hormones and help you optimize them and get your life back and use code hormones for 10% off the dem and men will be complex discussed in this episode at your longevity blueprint.com.
Be sure to check out my book your longevity blueprint. And if you aren't much of a reader, you're in luck, you can now take my course online where I walk you through each chapter in the book. Plus for a limited time, not only is the course 50% off, but you also get your first consult with me for free. Check this offer out at your longevity blueprint.com and click the course tab. One of the biggest things you can do to support the show and help us reach more listeners is to subscribe to the show. And leave us a rating and review on Apple podcasts or wherever you listen. I read all the reviews and would truly love to hear your suggestions for show topics, guests or how you're applying what you've learned on the show to create your own longevity blueprint. The podcast is produced by the team at counterweight creative As always, thanks so much for listening and remember wellness is waiting
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