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March 11, 2015

Dr. Sara Gottfried and THE HORMONE RESET DIET Interview

Dr. C: Hey, there! Dr. C here, and I am super excited to have one of my closest friends, Dr. Sara Gottfried, here today.

Dr. Sara: Hi, Alan! How are you?

Dr. C: I am doing awesome and even better now that I get to see you.

Dr. Sara: So good to see you. Hi, everybody! Nice to be with you.

Dr. C: I am really excited. I put a lot of work into this book about resetting adrenals, and Dr. Sara and I have been talking back and forth for a long time now. We really think a lot of the same ways. I am jazzed because she has a new book coming out that talks about resetting other hormones and what further steps you can take to help them. One of the biggest hormone concerns for many is estrogen and really getting estrogen right. I was able to pull Dr. Sara away a little bit to give you a heads up on some tricks for estrogen, why it is relevant and maybe get you started on resetting your estrogen.

Dr. Sara: Yeah, should we dive in? I could talk about estrogen all day and all night.

Dr. C: Let’s go for it.

Dr. Sara: Well, maybe we should start with what the heck it is because both men and women have it. I think there is some demystifying that needs to happen because a lot of folks just do not understand what it does in the body. For women, at least, it gives you breasts and hips and is responsible for some of those major, feminine qualities. Men have far less in terms of the amount of the estrogen they have, but it is still important. It is related to testosterone, and men can have too much estrogen. So, the challenge here for most people is estrogen dominance – an estrogen overload. Having a little bit too much estrogen in the body causes a number of symptoms. It can cause weight loss resistance. It can make you moody. It can make your breasts painful and cystic. It can cause cysts elsewhere. It can give you painful periods. The list goes on and on. I have found, in my 25 years of practice, that estrogen dominance is so common, somewhere around 75-80% of women over the age of 35 have it. You especially want to pay attention to this hormone if you are trying to lose weight.

Dr. C: It’s a big one in those ways, and you mentioned both genders. There has been more data on that. Men get breast tissue growth, and we can get some of the same mood changes and cognitive changes, so it’s totally huge. What are some key ways for women to know if this applies to them?

Dr. Sara: I think age is a big factor. If you are 35 or older, there is a good chance you have a problem with estrogen dominance. I say this because after the age of 35 (and that is a rough guideline), women start to make less progesterone. I will back up here for a moment. Estrogen is really important to talk about in relationship with progesterone. They are like tango partners, and you want to have a great dance between the two of them. If estrogen is dominating, it just screws up the dance. So, progesterone is like a counter to estrogen. For instance, in the menstrual, estrogen leads to the growth of the uterine lining, and progesterone helps you stabilize the lining and release it. They act in this sort of oppositional way that is also quite harmonious. What happens is you start to run out of ripe eggs (which happens in your 30’s at some point), and you make less progesterone. There are other issues, as well. You and I cannot seem to have a conversation without talking about stress hormones and cortisol and the adrenal reset. One of the problems is hormones are not all created equal. Cortisol can block some of these other hormones. It can block your progesterone receptors and make your body create more cortisol because that is the priority. This is at the expense of making progesterone, and that can also contribute to estrogen dominance. This is especially true if you are under stress. So, you asked me, Alan, about how women can know if they have this.

Dr. C: The birth certificate is one easy test.

Dr. Sara: Yes, a birth certificate is one easy one. Mine was the long-winded answer, and yours is the short version. Another is just noticing some of these symptoms you may struggle with: breast tenderness, painful periods and heavy periods. Heavy periods are a big one, especially for women in their 40’s who are in perimenopause. They can experience flooding, irregular cycles, mood issues, depression, feeling like they have PMS, like they fly off the handle more easily than they used to. Others that are more science-based or include more testing are abnormal pap smears. We definitely see atypia and abnormal pap smears in people that have estrogen dominance. So, you can probably add to this list, Alan. I mean, the list is pretty long.

Daily Reset Shake - Dr. Alan Christianson

Dr. C: You hit on mood changes and anxiety. Along with the symptoms and abnormal pap smears, what are some ways (apart from just being a real nuisance) this can cause longer-term complications to your health?

Dr. Sara: I am so glad you asked about this. Women have a fear of breast cancer, so I want to talk about that. It is interesting because when I went through my medical training, I was taught to try to convince women they need to address heart disease because that is the number one killer. What I found over and over again in the practice was that women were so much more concerned about breast cancer. There is just something that is so personal about it. It represents who we are as women. There is psychological and spiritual aspects to it. So, breast cancer is a big one. What we are talking about here is not just a short-term problem in the balance between estrogen and progesterone. We are talking more about a long-term problem of estrogen pollution in the body that leads to weight gain, obesity and an increased risk of breast cancer, endometrial cancer and uterine cancer.

Dr. C: So, big stuff. There is this whole process of growth that goes on. We can have healthy growth and healthy regeneration, or we can have pathological growth. These are growth and reproductive hormones on a big scale and kind of small scale.

Dr. Sara: That’s right, and also, prostate cancer.

Dr. C: Yes, same correlation. The male version of the breast tissue is the prostate.

So, the beautiful thing is you have an awesome, new book, giving women more ways to fix this. What are some easy, take-home strategies that someone can start on while they are waiting for the book?

Dr. Sara: I have an advanced copy of my book here, THE HORMONE RESET DIET. There are a couple of things people can do right away. I have these seven, medical hormones that I want you to reset in 3-day sets. So, it’s a 21-day program. For the first reset, I want you to go meatless, and this is kind of controversial, now that Paleo is popular.

Dr. C: I love that you are breaking out of the norm right now. I just had to say that is so awesome. Sorry for interrupting.

Dr. Sara: I appreciate that because — let me get super vulnerable here because I went on Paleo. When I was struggling with my weight, I went on Paleo, and I gained weight. It was too much saturated fat for me. I have all these cookbooks that have you make a bacon cup. It always involves bacon. These meats are sourced from very healthy places, but it was not a good for fit for me. There are randomized trials that show Paleo allows you to get to a certain body weight – a body mass index of about 23 but not lower than that. I like to hang out with a body mass index of 21or 22, as that is where all my clothes fit, and I could not do it with Paleo. It was just a little too much saturated fat. What happens is a lot of people who go on Paleo focus on the meat. At least, this is what my husband does. He wants his steak and maybe a little bit of vegetables – three asparagus spears would be about right. That is not so good for you. So, we know that meat eaters have higher estrogen levels. They are more likely to have estrogen dominance. It changes the set of bacteria that are in your gut, which is known collectively as the microbiome. This set of bacteria is the microbes in your gut and also their DNA. There is even a subset of the microbiome, called the estrobolome. This is the aggregate of microbes, including bacteria that can control your estrogen levels. So, you really can impact your estrogen levels with your fork.

Dr. C: This is a really wild concept, so let me go a little bit deeper, if you do not mind.

Dr. Sara: Our way to geek out.

Dr. C: Yes, we will geek out a little bit as we have some really advanced people here. Our hormones are made and regulated in a lot of ways. There is hard data that shows what’s happening in our intestinal tract may be one of the biggest variables in how our hormones may be regulated.

Dr. Sara: Yes, and this is a huge shift, right? Alan, correct me if I am wrong, but I was taught that it was controlled by the HPA – this kind of brain-adrenal access. The hypothalamic pituitary-adrenal-thyroid-gonadal access, if you want to get super fancy. It turns out that the microbiome is actually controlling quite a bit of our hormone levels, and it is a very interesting, new area. The point I was making is that meat is not always the best thing to focus on when it comes to trying to get healthy and lean in your body. I think women are more vulnerable here. I think because of the testosterone advantage, men will have lower estrogen levels, so they can get away with eating more meat.

Dr. C: Let me throw a little thing in here quickly. I went hardcore Paleo for a couple weeks and tried to get fat-adapted. At the time, there was a course I rode at our mountain home. It was about a 20-mile, off-road course at high elevations, and I could knock it out in an hour and 10 minutes pretty consistently. After a couple weeks of getting fat-adapted, I gimped and killed myself just to finish the dang thing in two hours.

Dr. Sara: Wow. Okay. This is how Alan tests different diets, right? He goes cycling and then figures it out.

Dr. C: Watch the minutes and miles. It’s pretty objective stuff.

Dr. Sara: It’s pretty good. As you can imagine, when Alan takes me on some of his extreme hiking, rock climbing, cycling adventures, sometimes I am doing yoga at the base and waiting for him to come back!

Dr. C: You have always kept up and done great.

Dr. Sara: Well, in my own way. So, going meatless is one of the strategies I have been working with and teaching for a number of years. I first taught this program in 2008 when I was trying to solve my own hormonal problems. I have tweaked it over time. The idea is full immersion where you really address estrogen and its relationship to the estrogen receptor. So, you go meatless, increase the amount of fish and shellfish and the Omega-3 you are getting. Also, get off of alcohol. This is one that makes me a little less popular, but it needs to be said. Alcohol raises your estrogen levels, and if you tend to be estrogen dominate, it is adding to the problem. It slows down metabolism. It can clog up the liver, which is like the traffic cop in the body for all your hormones. It also raises cortisol, and here we go again. We cannot have a conversation without talking about cortisol. I am not saying never drink again. I am saying get off the sauce for 21 days. You are probably causing some problems in your body, especially with estrogen.

Dr. C: That is awesome. So, I want to make sure everyone is really clear on this. Sara and I have both been in this space reading books, researching and studying for decades, and I know 99% of the stuff you hear is copycat information. This is not what Dr. Sara is doing. She is not just putting out what came out in the last book from someone else. This is real, in-depth, thought-out, distinct content, and she is not afraid to say what is effectively working and what science shows. Sometimes you have to ruffle a few feathers, and that is what it takes. That is why we are really fighting for your health, and we are not afraid to do that. So, kudos to you, Sara. That is really cool.

Dr. Sara: Well, thank you, Alan. I always appreciate that you stand with me in terms of standing up to the problems that are causing health issues for our people – whether that is big chemistry and the endocrine disruptors that we get exposed to or a problem with alcohol and how some people process it. Another issue you and I love to talk about is fiber. I feel like fiber is sort of the unsung hero of the estrogen story. It does so much with many hormones, including insulin and cortisol, and it is essential for your body to use estrogen as intended and then, get rid of it. That is really what you are supposed to do with estrogen. You do not want to keep recycling it in your body like bad karma. That is not a good thing.

Dr. C: In regard to how you are getting rid of it and what by-products you are making out of it, it’s all about the fiber and the flora. It’s also about the wastes that accumulate in our bodies that further disrupt it. They are also impacted and brought out more effectively by that.

So excited about the book. I have had the luxury of getting to read it beforehand and do a review on it and love it. It is another perfect reset. The beautiful thing is that our bodies can reset. They can come back to a state of health and be thriving in no time. Dr. Sara, any words of inspiration you want to leave with everyone?

Dr. Sara: I love how you are wrapping up on this concept of reset because I do think it is so hopeful. It reminds me a little bit of when I turned 40. It was such an interesting time because I was told I needed to lose the weight before I turned 40. After that time, I was told it would all come out of my face. This was not really true, but I was scared into getting to the weight I wanted to get to before 40. There is a sense of hope about 40, and I want to share that sense of hope. The cool part is that there is really rigorous science behind this idea of resetting. I first came up against this data looking at the data on insulin, which is the second reset: Go sugar free. What got me so excited with insulin is that you can reset what I like to call “the molecular sex” between a hormone and its receptor. You can reset within 72 hours, which is what got me going on these 3-day bursts. This is really a part of the physiology of resetting hormones and the receptors. So, that is the final point I wanted to share with our listeners today.

Dr. C: Awesome. Thank you so much for your time, as I know you have a lot to do in getting this message out to the world.

Dr. Sara: My pleasure. So good to be with you Alan. Thanks everybody.

Dr. Alan Glen Christianson (Dr. C) is a Naturopathic Endocrinologist and the author of The NY Times bestselling Adrenal Reset Diet.

Dr. C’s gift for figuring out what really works has helped hundreds of thousands of people reverse thyroid disease, lose weight, and regain energy. Learn more about the surprising story that started his quest.