Sally feels out of control:
“If only the hot flashes didn’t come at the most ridiculous times! Right in the middle of an important presentation . . . Again! This Peri-menopause stuff just makes me feel so out of control!
”The mood swings; I’m so short-tempered with my kids! My poor son, I blew up him again yesterday over something really stupid! … And I just can’t think straight anymore. Sometimes it’s really scary! … ” She went on.
I could feel her pain & frustration.
This had been going for what seemed like forever to her. Really, it had been about 6 months. That’s a significant amount of time in anyone’s world; especially when you don’t know how to make it go away; you feel so out of control. Now she was thinking the only choice she had was medication; either ‘traditional drugs’ or ‘bio-identical hormones.’
Sally (not her real name) had consulted with me to learn how safe or not safe the choices were (and if there were other choices she didn’t know about). Over the years she had made other healthcare decisions that she is now questioning. She knew, like most of us, that she wasn’t being pro-active “enough” (her words) in other areas of her health too (diet, exercise, stress reduction, maybe more).
Peri-menopause; the hot flashes, short temper, and brain fog; it was all just “one more thing,” as she put it. But it was having a profound and devastating effect on her life. She thought peri-menopause and the symptoms from it weren’t related to anything accept her ‘age and her cycles’ but she was about to learn differently.
First, after I listened to how out of control she felt things were, I gave her some much-needed information about ‘traditional’ hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Studies show it DOES increase cancer rates and is associated with an increased rate of death from a few different conditions.
And I explained that studies DON’T show bio-identical hormones are significantly better in many ways. (set up your consultation here.)
I also told her my own personal story and why I love working with women in this stage of life so much.
“I’ve been there.” I let her know. I had gone on bio-identical hormones, assuming they were safer because I, too, had felt so out of control. Then I gained nearly 20 lbs. in 2 months! We tried adjusting the dose and I was still gaining weight. Finally, I just said enough is enough. At that rate, I’d weigh 200 lbs. in just a few months! (more about me another time.)
That’s when I started really researching facts vs. hype.
Hype: Bio-identical hormones are ‘safer.’
Fact: The research I’ve done; actually reading studies; NOT looking at doctor’s or interest group’s websites, shows differently. For some side effects there is a statistically significant decrease (a small one) but for many side effects of hormone use, either the jury is still out or there’s no difference.
Hype: Organic dairy is ‘better’ than soy for women.
Fact: Even organic dairy comes from a (usually pregnant) and nursing cow and is loaded with hormones. Fact: the genistein in soy has LESS hormonal activity than estrogen but it binds to your cells like estrogen; thereby allowing your body to excrete excess estrogen (IF you eat enough fiber to move it out of your system before it gets resorbed!) Fact: Societies that eat little or no dairy and more fiber than we do (traditional Japanese, Chinese, Okinawan, and others) don’t suffer like we do.
Hype: If you don’t go on hormones in some form, your symptoms will be out of control and how much you’ll suffer for how long will be anyone’s guess.
Fact: There are specific foods, like Cole-plants (broccoli, kale, etc) and others that help your liver metabolize & excrete estrogens. Fact: there are some foods that societies who don’t suffer like we do consume and there are foods we eat and they don’t. Fact: when these women move to the Western World, if they adopt a Western Diet, they have more symptoms.
Hype: Weight gain is a part of the process and the only way around that is a paleo or keto diet.
Fact: Your metabolism does naturally slow some as you age. Fact: There are hundreds of hidden calories in the Standard American Diet (SAD) and even for those of us who think we are eating healthier than SAD, we are still quite SAD. (Really check the labels, you’ll be shocked.)
To bring this back around to Sally.
She thought she was doing pretty well with her diet. She was trying to keep mostly to a keto diet. When she first started it, she had lost 20 lbs. in just a couple of months. Then the weight loss slowed to almost a standstill. When I inquired closer, she’d sometimes have things like a commercial yogurt or a piece of fruit if she was in a hurry or hadn’t prepared.
When I explained that doing that keto really requires you be much stricter and it has an increased mortality rate of 12-25% in studies, she was shocked.
Then we went on to talk about how her diet, her lifestyle, her history (just normal stuff), underlying inflammation, and more were effecting her hormone balance, memory and brain fog issues, her temper and other perimenopause symptoms as well as her weight. She never understood, until now, that it all tied in together.
“Medicine and Western philosophy has done women a great disservice,” I told her.
“We’ve separated ourselves so much from our bodies that we’ve lost sense of how integrated we really are. Our mind affects our body; our body affects our mind. They both affect what we eat; that affects our gut, our microbiome, and more which, in turn, affects all our systems and our entire being.
Just like we’re beginning to see the big picture of how EVERYTHING we do on this planet affects the earth and its health (our environment), we must realize that everything WE do personally affects our health (our internal environment) and that it’s all inter-related.
Now that she understood all that, she was more willing to re-take control. From there, we went on to craft her plan and her program.