Balanced Bites Podcast | Diane Sanfilippo & Liz Wolfe

Podcast Episode #284: Women’s Health & Hormones with Melissa Ramos

Diane Sanfilippo Featured, Hormones, Podcast Episodes 9 Comments

Balanced Bites Podcast | Diane Sanfilippo & Liz WolfeTopics

  1. News and updates from Diane [1:59]
  2. Introducing our guest. Melissa Ramos [3:40]
  3. Something that I'm digging: Mindset work [4:48]
  4. Melissa's background with hormonal health [6:42]
  5. Hormones and acne [11:26]
  6. Raising low progesterone and PCOS [21:42]
  7. Timeline in balancing hormones [25:06]
  8. Prioritizing hormones to rebalance first [31:59]
  9. Getting your period back [38:50]
  10. What to expect in postpartum phases [45:20]

 

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Balanced Bites Podcast | Diane Sanfilippo & Liz Wolfe Balanced Bites Podcast | Diane Sanfilippo & Liz Wolfe Balanced Bites Podcast | Diane Sanfilippo & Liz Wolfe

You’re listening to the Balanced Bites podcast episode 284.

Diane Sanfilippo: Welcome to the Balanced Bites podcast. I’m Diane; a certified nutrition consultant, and the New York Times bestselling author of Practical Paleo and The 21-Day Sugar Detox. I live in San Francisco with my husband and fur kids, and while I’m sad to miss my friend Liz today, I am super excited to talk to my friend, Melissa. Liz is on a quick break this week, so I’ve got a guest here, as I said; Melissa, who is no stranger to the Balanced Bites podcast. She is Melissa Ramos of Sexy Food Therapy. But before we get started, let’s hear from one of our sponsors.

Liz Wolfe: This episode of the Balanced Bites podcast is sponsored by our friends at Primally Pure Skincare. Primally Pure makes 100% natural and nontoxic skincare products that support radiant skin, a healthy body, and a happy self. They use ingredients like tallow from grass-fed cows; organic and fair trade coconut oil, and organic oils, herbs, and extracts to formulate effective products that also smell amazing and look beautiful sitting on your bathroom counter. At www.primallypure.com, you’ll find their best selling natural deodorant that actually works; face mists made from locally sourced and organic rose and orange blossom hydrosols, and their brand new baby line. You’ll also find Diane’s favorite Primally Pure product, dry shampoo, and Liz’s favorite, the Everything Spray with magnesium. As a special bonus for you, Primally Pure is offering a free lip balm with your first purchase of one item or more. Simply add a lip balm to your cart along with any one item, and use the code “balancedbites”, one word no caps, during checkout to receive one of their lip balms for free with your order. Head to www.primallypure.com and check out their range of safe and effective all natural skincare products.

1. News and updates from Diane [1:59]

Diane Sanfilippo: Alright, so it’s me, Diane here this week. And a couple of quick updates for you guys; the March 21-Day Sugar Detox group begins on Monday, March 6th. So if you’ve been wanting to do that, make sure you head over to www.21DaySugarDetox.com or www.21DSD.com, and don’t forget that if you want a little extra help and support and encouragement and accountability and attention, check out our coaches, www.21DSD.com/coaches. You can find one either in your area, who may have some live events, or in your area who is working online pretty exclusively, or somebody who happens to specialize in what you need or what you’re going through, whether you’re an athlete, pregnant or nursing mom, have autoimmune condition. We’ve got amazing coaches for everyone.

The NTA conference, which is the first weekend in March; and then ExpoWest, which is the second weekend in March, I’ll be at both of those. So if you’re going to be there, stop by and say hi.

Liz Wolfe: Today’s podcast is sponsored by Vital Choice seafood and organics; purveyor of premium sustainably sourced seafood and a certified B corporation. Vital choice offers a wide range of fish, shellfish, humanely raised meat, protein rich bone broths, and paleo friendly snacks like organic dark chocolate, super antioxidant trail mix, and bison jerky. February is American Hearth Month; when we put in a good word for wild salmon, tuna, mackerel and sardines; all rich in omega-3 fatty acids. A diet that includes marine sourced omega-3s may significantly reduce your risk of heart disease. It promotes healthy arterial function, reduced oxidation of LDL cholesterol, lowers triglyceride levels, and moderate blood pressure. Learn more at www.vitalchoice.com.

2. Introducing our guest, Melissa Ramos [3:40]

Diane Sanfilippo: Alright, so as a nutritionist with a background in Chinese medicine and owner of Sexy Food Therapy, Melissa Ramos helps people feel sexy from the inside out with a focus on digestion and hormone imbalances. She’s a regular expert on CTV’s The Social, has been a TED speaker, and has been named one of Canada’s up and coming health and wellness stars by Flare Magazine. She’s an official health writer for Huffington Post, and has appeared on CBC’s Steven and Chris CHUM and Virgin and radio. {laughs} I don’t know what that, the name of that show is. Her popular “Quickie” newsletter videos provide people with an opportunity to get their weekly fix by offering food, supplement, and lifestyle tips in an unconventional but engaging way. I absolutely love Melissa’s videos. Her passion is infectious, and her continual dedication is to inspire, empower, and motivate as many women throughout the globe as possible. Melissa joined us for episode 201 of the Balanced Bites podcast, where we chatted all about poop; but today she’s here to tackle women’s health and hormonal issues. Welcome back to the show.

Melissa Ramos: Hey, how are you? It’s so great to be here. {laughs}

3. Something that I’m digging: Mindset work [4:48]

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs} I am excited to be chatting with you. Before we get into some more serious stuff, I think it would be really fun if we did a “what are you digging, what are you into lately?” I want you to tell people what you’re into.

Melissa Ramos: So, right now, I am heavily into mindset work. And truthfully when I talk about it with women, sometimes I get sort of the eye roll, or people think, “Oh my goodness, that’s so woo-woo.” But truthfully, the more that I dive into it, the more I find that I’m able, not only to sort of change my perception, but get better in tune with the women I work with; but also be able to help them overcome a lot of their emotional blocks by better understanding sort of the mindset that they’re in and how they can become more empowered. So I’m just digging that; I was going to say flies on poop. {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughing}

Melissa Ramos: I was trying to find a better analogy.

Diane Sanfilippo: We can’t not say poop.

Melissa Ramos: {laughs} Exactly.

Diane Sanfilippo: I love that, I think it’s totally spot on. We’ve talked a lot about mindset in different episodes of the show here, and I think as we all get a little older, too, we realize how much that plays into everything that’s going on. Because at some point once we know, for example, what healthy foods are, then what keeps us from actually choosing the “right foods”, and it usually doesn’t have anything to do with not knowing {laughs} which are the ones that we should be eating. There’s something else going on there, and it’s totally a mindset, emotional, whole ball of wax. So very cool.

Melissa Ramos: Oh absolutely, I couldn’t agree more. It’s like, thoughts create emotions, emotions create actions, and actions create results if we could just start with the thoughts in the beginning you could just end up changing so much at the very end of how things play out.

4. Melissa’s background with hormonal health [6:42]

Diane Sanfilippo: I love it. Alright, so today we’re going to talk about women’s health and hormones. And we put a call out on our Balanced Bites podcast Instagram account; there were a ton of great questions that came in. so rather than having just Liz and I answer questions, something that I love to do when there are different topics where we know a lot, but we are not experts on those specific topics. Because we know you guys have so many questions, I know another topic that we have on deck at some point is sleep; and we know tons about it, but we’re kind of waiting to see; who is our expert that we really want to talk to about sleep.

So when it came to women’s hormones, I was like, let’s get Melissa on the show. Because you have a program and a membership called Sexy Lady Balls, which is just; I mean, it’s so your personality to deliver real deal content, but to always have that levity which is I think what I probably love about you the most. That it’s like; it’s serious, but let’s not take it so seriously, you know?

Melissa Ramos: Yeah. You know, and I think it’s important because the problem is that yeah, we have all these issues, and we want to take our health seriously, but at the same time, I think that injecting humor, which is really a huge part of my business, is to try to take the edge off a little bit. And also to be able to create conversation around taboo type subjects; like vaginal health, for example. And get us talking about these things, because it’s important.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah, totally. And actually that kind of ties back to your mindset topic.

Melissa Ramos: Yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: Because if we make it like scary and untouchable and taboo, then we think about it one way. And if we make it a little more fun, then we think about it another way. So, why don’t you give folks just a little bit of background on your experience and your education around hormones, and why it’s a topic that you love to talk about and really have become an expert on. Where does that all come from, and what do our listeners know before we get into some of the questions?

Melissa Ramos: Yeah, so I studied nutrition; later studied Chinese medicine. And you know, I was actually first more interested in talking about poop. That’s kind of where my focus was. And one day, I had a near death experience where I had a cyst that ruptured and actually tore off a piece of my right ovary. But I didn’t know that that’s what happened, because when I went to the hospital and they did a CT scan, they said, you know, we don’t see your kidneys, we just see blood all the way up to your lung cavity. Which was the reason I was having a lot of problems breathing. And they just said, we have to open you up. So they did a 6-inch vertical incision on my abdomen, and took out close to about almost 3 liters of blood; just under. Which is crazy, because your body has about 4 liters {laughs}.

Yeah, I had blood transfusions, and I was recovering for probably about 2 months, and it was a really, really hard part of my life. But I’ll say that after I was really determined to be able to really focus my studies in on hormone balancing. Because I remember going to my gynecologist afterwards, and I said, you know, “let’s just run a hormone panel on me.” And she goes, “why? It’s not like you’re going through menopause.” And that’s kind of when everything just sort of really clicked; because I thought, man if they’re telling me this and I almost died from this, imagine how other women are feeling. It’s the sort of concept when doctors say, “What you’re going through is normal.” It’s not normal. It might be common, but common doesn’t equate to normal. So that’s sort of where my focus really began to become was on hormone imbalances and so forth.

So now, I work with women with bad PMS and hormonal acne, and PCOS is a huge one in my business; fibroids. I see women everywhere from their late 20s right through to menopause truthfully.

Diane Sanfilippo: You’re spot on with the common doesn’t mean normal. I think a lot of times, also, women are so used to being told that everything is fine, not to question, and not to worry. And I think in a lot of questions that may be fair, if we’re kind of being extreme. But I think when it comes to our bodies and knowing that something could be off, we have to remember that doctors are people too, they don’t know everything, they don’t have all the answers, and we know our bodies better than anyone. So if we feel like something is not right, we do need to question it and press for more information. So I think that’s a huge point that people need to kind of keep in mind.

Melissa Ramos: 1000%. You really are the advocate of your own health.

5. Hormones and acne [11:26]

Diane Sanfilippo: For sure. So we have a ton of questions, a couple here on acne and hormones. So let’s dive into these. There were two women who posted similar questions; “Hormones and acne connection, what can you do to holistically help that?” And also, kind of a second to that, she’s saying she knows that her acne is hormonal, and based on where she gets it, that hormones are out of whack, but just doesn’t know what to do about it.

Melissa Ramos: Mm-hmm. So I think automatically women feel that acne is hormonal. And it certainly can be. If you’re androgen levels; so your androgens are your male hormones. If they’re elevated, so things like testosterone, even DHEA, which is a male hormone but it’s produced by your adrenal glands; you can get acne for sure. And a lot of times we see this happening with women around their jaw line, and it tends to be cystic acne, which is just a pain because it can last for months. But quite often what I see as well is women sort of bouncing on and off birth control; or even prior to the birth control, they’re getting all this acne, but it’s not always necessarily just hormonal. It’s also from some of the foods that they’re consuming.

So there could be an underlying Candida that’s happening in their digestive system. And we all actually have Candida; it’s just a matter of, is it out of balance. Is it completely out of whack? Is there an overgrowth of it? And I see a lot of women who are consuming; you know, they’re doing the paleo diet, which is amazing, and it’s great; but at the same token. And I think you would probably agree with me, Diane; there are so many versions of paleo.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah, totally.

Melissa Ramos: So one person’s viewpoint of what paleo is could be different than someone else’s. So it’s not always healthy across the board. It’s like; if you’re eating meat on bacon upon meat upon bacon; and I like bacon. But I mean, forgetting about all your vegetables, there’s going to be a problem there. So I think there needs to be a bit more of a balance with paleo even with ketogenics. And I love both types of eating regimes, definitely; but I think there could be two things that could be causing the acne. One could be male hormones, and one could definitely be a gut imbalance; whether that’s Candida, not enough friendly bacteria in the gut, all of those things can certainly be causes of it.

Diane Sanfilippo: So, just a quick follow-up there. Generally speaking, for the folks who have figured out whether or not they might have a Candida overgrowth. Typically reducing your sugar intake; a program like the 21-Day Sugar Detox, if doing that program helps your acne, then you may have had an issues with the Candida overgrowth. If you’re finding that eating lower sugary foods, but still eating plenty of veggies to get plenty of fiber which we need to be able to detox hormones and all of that; if eating that way helps, then that is a good sign that that could have been something that was going on with you.

But what’s the recommendation for someone who has done that, and that’s still not working, and has tried maybe eliminating nuts and seeds, or different things that could be promoting acne. Basically, the question is; if someone thinks it is still perhaps elevated DHEA or testosterone, as you mentioned the androgens; should they be working with a practitioner to get that tested?

Melissa Ramos: Yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: What are their next steps, you know?

Melissa Ramos: So I would say first and foremost, whether it is an androgen issue or if it is Candida, probiotics are a must. So that’s definitely a huge thing that I would say across the board. My favorite are Natren; which the reason why is because not all probiotics are created equal. Bacteria actually are antagonistic; meaning they kill off each other if they’re put together. People don’t realize that, so you actually need a proper delivery system. And most actual probiotics; the companies actually purchase them, the bacteria, in generic factories in bulk and then smack them into a capsule. And then you’re paying a premium for it, which doesn’t really make sense, financially.

If the issue is an androgen issue, and you’re suspecting it could be that; believe it or not, your GP can provide you with a requisition for an actual androgen profile just to see; is your testosterone level elevated; are your DHEA levels elevated. And I strongly recommend to women; please, make sure that you keep a copy of your results. Any lab results; pay to get it if you’ve got to, but make sure that you keep a copy of it.

I had found out that I had fibroids at one point by mistake. I went in thinking I had a cyst; and they said, “nope, no cyst.” I mean, there might have been a regression of one, we think. The next day, very sleepy, I opened up my purse, took out the lab report, and it said I had two fibroids. They never would have even told me if I didn’t see the report!

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah.

Melissa Ramos: So, it’s important that women get that report. If there are high androgens, because if you do work with a practitioner like myself, to reduce those androgen levels, if it’s testosterone or DHEA, then in 3 months you can get a follow-up blood test to see if that actually moved. Because you don’t want to be taking supplements just idly and being like, oh, ok I’m going to lower it and just see symptom wise. No, you need to know from a blood requisite; a blood lab report to see if it has lowered or not.

Diane Sanfilippo: Good point. I think having those lab results, too, across the board whether it’s just hormone testing or something like cholesterol testing, which is such a hot topic here in the states. I don’t know if in Canada people are as crazy about it; because it’s less important necessarily one snapshot. So to your point about noticing something that was on your labs; of course, noticing that there were fibroids. But somebody may have an elevated or slightly depressed level of something on one report, and the next time maybe you see that that’s sort of your “normal” range or you notice a trend that it’s changing one way or the other. So it’s just important to keep track of those, because your normal may be a little bit different from someone else’s and that’s not to say that the ranges on the lab or what would be considered normal; but we have to remember that lab ranges, at least here in the states how it works, is they tell you what’s normal and average for the population tested.

Melissa Ramos: Yep.

Diane Sanfilippo: And that’s not really what’s; when we look at it from a functional perspective, if I compare it to a blood chemistry analysis. The range that we would say for functional lab results is usually much tighter and smaller. So meaning if the range on a normal test for; I don’t know what it is, I’m just going to give a random example. Let’s say it’s anywhere from 1 to 5 for this one marker is normal on a standard test; the functional range that might be considered normal could be like 2 to 4; meaning if you’re over 4, a functional medicine practitioner might say that that’s high; where as a standard medical doctor here in the states might not say that’s high.

We see this all the time with blood sugar regulation, with people who are not being told; you’re actually pre-diabetic or pre-pre-diabetic or even diabetic, because our ranges are just constantly getting pushed higher and higher for what’s kind of allowed. So anywho. {laughs} That’s just like a little bit of a tangent, but I think people need to understand that about lab results that sometimes you’re told, or the lab says this is normal, but you could be on the low end or the high end of normal, and I think that’s it’s important to just pay attention to that.

Melissa Ramos: Absolutely. I couldn’t agree more with you.

Diane Sanfilippo: Ok, so I think there was a question also about adult onset acne that doesn’t seem to go away; someone has done all of the gut healing as well as on autoimmune protocol. Do you have any other tips on how to get rid of it; you already mentioned, of course, making sure we’re checking with the whole androgen level and Candida, but is there anything else that we need to know about that?

Melissa Ramos: Well I think it’s important to also see if; look at your other symptoms. So, are you somebody who, if you’re feeling weepy there might be the progesterone blues. If there’s a lot of excess estrogen that is in the body, whether it’s from birth control or exposure to a lot of commercial meats that aren’t organic or grass-fed, then you’re going to see potentially an elevated level of estrogen, which can potentially cause acne, as well. So even from that perspective, I’d look at women and say, even look at going on evening primrose oil, I’ve had women go on it from the first day of their cycle to day 14. It’s usually a really good place to start off just to be able to see. And a lot of women have noticed improvements, because evening primrose oil also helps to support your progesterone levels. And when you support your progesterone levels, you’re by default also helping with your estrogen levels that could be out of whack.

Diane Sanfilippo: Nodding along over here; yes.

Melissa Ramos: {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: That’s something that I tried, actually, years ago. I might try that again sometime. {laughs}

Melissa Ramos: {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: You know, I’ve always, of all the things that actually don’t plague me, I definitely think there’s a little bit of wacky hormone stuff, and who knows if it’s leftover from 10 years of having been on birth control from my very early; maybe my late teens, even. In high school, I had really, really bad cramps so they put on; you know, the gynecologist is just like, ok take this. And at that time, you know I was probably 16 or 17, I didn’t really think much of it, you know. I was like; I mean, definitely didn’t need it for its purpose {laughs} other than to help with the cramps at the time, but I think I was on it for about 10 years before I really started learning about this stuff. And then I just made that decision that it wasn’t worth it to my hormonal balance; but who knows how much of that stuff is still lingering around.

Melissa Ramos: Lingering; for sure.

6. Raising low progesterone and PCOS [21:42]

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah. Ok, so we’ve got a question from; it’s funny because I want to read these women’s names but most of them are Instagram handles, so some of them I’m like; I can’t even try and make that out.

Melissa Ramos: So you mean like MB424-Love. {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: I know. Exactly. So this one; Hannah Bug Goes Healthy; and also I think this is kind of, there are a couple that are similar. Jenni D was also asking. But Hannah Bug was saying, “Thoughts on raising low progesterone?” She’s married for 5 years, and due to PCOS and suspected low progesterone, we’ve been unable to conceive despite not using birth control or protection. And then another similar question on increasing progesterone.

Melissa Ramos: Yeah, I would say for sure going back to the evening primrose would be a great place to start. Also with PCOS; it’s one of those conditions that there are so many different types of it. I did a video a while ago where I was talking about the 4 or 5 types of PCOS, and since then, I have seen even more. I’ve seen women who have a PCOS profile hormonally, and have no cysts. That’s crazy. And that is possible.

Diane Sanfilippo: Wow. Yeah.

Melissa Ramos: So, it really depends. If she’s somebody who is really struggling to get her period; like she gets it, but it’s super irregular, then Vitex also can help to increase your progesterone levels. I’m never a really huge fan; Vitex gets thrown around a lot, I think, in the health world to raise progesterone levels, but I find that it’s a pretty strong herb, so when I see women who have PCOS, but are getting their period, but it can be very heavy; I’ve seen some cases where Vitex has actually made their periods kind of funky, in terms of even increasing some of the bleeding. And I know that your period can go a bit wonky for the first three to six months when you’re trying to balance them out, but it’s not usually my go to unless the periods are very irregular. But it does help to boost progesterone levels.

So if that was the case, and she was getting her period every so often, then I would say start with like half a teaspoon of Vitex first thing when you wake up; just leave it by you bedside table. I apologize in advance, because it tastes like what I think perfume would taste like if I swallowed some. {laughs} But between that, the evening primrose oil; and also, remember that why your progesterone levels could be low. And that goes back to mindset, because believe or not, if you are in a chronic state of stress, your stress hormones can compete with your sex hormones; namely progesterone.

So I always say to women; I’m like, look at these things like PCOS as symptoms. They’re not the root cause. Something started it, and the root cause might have been stress that led them to eat a certain way. There could be a bunch of different reasons, and they really do vary. I see it a lot in practice, I see it a lot on Sexy Lady Balls when I work with women. But I would say managing stress levels for sure, evening primrose oil, and then Vitex if it would be suited for you based on what I just mentioned.

7. Timeline in balancing hormones [25:06]

Diane Sanfilippo: Awesome. Ok, then we have some questions on balancing hormones. Heather is asking, “If you’re on a protocol,” and I’m assuming she means with a practitioner and she’s being guided in that way; “How long does it take to balance your hormones?”

Melissa Ramos: You know, it depends on the woman. I always say when people work with me, “How long is it going to take?” And the first thing I say to them, is it depends on your case and it depends on your commitment. Because if you're going on it and you’re putting half the effort into it, you’re going to get half the results of it. It’s like, ok. I’ve had women say, “I’ve done all the supplements, but the food was here and there.” I’m like, well, supplements complement the whole thing. So I always say give it a minimum of 3-6 months. And 3 months is really; I would say honestly more so along the lines of 6 months.

When I was working to balance my hormones; I think I was probably looking at about 8 months for myself, where I really; I started to see definitely some changes around the 3-6 month mark, but 8 months I started to feel a little bit more like I had a handle on things. Because I was just; that person would have PMS, and it would be between watching a commercial with puppies on it, and then crying, and then the next minute looking at my husband and just snapping at him.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs}

Melissa Ramos: {laughs} Like, you don’t love me anymore, don’t tell me to relax, you know. Honestly, it takes time. And every woman is different. And really, there’s a reason why I created a membership around it. Because this is something that takes time. You can’t just join a program, or see a practitioner, and expect that in a couple of months it’s going to be all fixed up. It didn’t take you a day to get there, it’s not going to take you a day to get out of it. {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah. I think it’s really important; I mean, we’re talking to me here too, because when I went to a naturopath. This was probably in July or August before I went on book tour, which is a terrible time to do it, but it’s kind of like, I always end up feeling like, “Well I don’t want this thing that’s coming up get in the way of me moving forward with the things I need to take care of. But at the same time, it’s like, I started on a protocol for a few weeks and then just traveling that much throws your entire routine off, which having routine is one of, I think, one of the most powerful ways to rebalance everything in your life, is just having a very steady, reliable routine. Your body can get used to it; you get used to taking the supplements when you need to, eating the foods at the certain times.

Anywho; basically hearing that it’s going to take kind of a long time, and that 3 months is just the minimum; it’s not a month. And a lot of us have these programs that are doing things in 3 weeks or 4 weeks or even 6 or 12 weeks; and that’s great because it can get people started in a lot of ways; if you do a 21-Day Sugar Detox, and you kind of get started getting the sugary stuff out, then great. But your whole life doesn’t change in that much time, because, like you said, it takes you so long to get here.

And sometimes I think in that journey; and this is probably one of the reasons why having a membership around it instead of just a short-lived program; sometimes in that journey you probably find that you’re going down one path, and it’s maybe not the right path. And as much as that might be difficult to find out two to three months in, or even four months in; that the thing you were doing isn’t really getting the change that you were expecting. I actually think that having the support of folks around you who have been through it, who have had that experience and can say; yes that happened to me, you’ll be fine, I’m on the other side, you know. I’m across the river, I made it!

Melissa Ramos: {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: I think that could be really helpful, too. So I think, as daunting as it may seem, I think it’s also encouraging for a lot of women to hear. Like, it might take this long, but it’s ok. You know?

Melissa Ramos: It is ok. We have to look at it like; we look at things and go, as though, happiness is a destination. Like it’s Paris, or something you know what I mean? When I get there I’m going to be happy. But you have to look at it like; if it took a year, or let’s just say at worse 2 years to just go balls to the wall and give yourself everything you’ve got to balancing your hormones; and let’s just say you live till you're 75 years old, that would be like 2% of your life.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs} Yeah.

Melissa Ramos: And it’s just a matter of looking at it and going; each part of that phase, of that journey of balancing your hormones really becomes a self discovery. And women don’t see that when they walk in to actually working on it; but when they walk out of that journey, they’re like; I didn’t expect to come out of it with all of this.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah.

Melissa Ramos: So it really will surprise you.

Diane Sanfilippo: I think it will probably be inevitable, as well, that even if things aren’t balanced in X amount of time, so many things will improve month over month; because what you’re doing in that time, as you mentioned, it’s not about just taking supplements. It’s about changing everything; changing your mindset, changing your habits, and basically focusing on yourself and giving yourself the time and the space to treat yourself a certain way that probably as women we’ve all kind of cast ourselves aside for a lot of different reasons, whether it’s having a family and children or someone like me who doesn’t have kids but has a business that seems to take that spot to come first, you know. And for me, the women on my team kind of being the children, where I’m like; well I have to make sure I do this so I take care of them.

Melissa Ramos: Yep.

Diane Sanfilippo: But really taking care of ourselves is so important, and you’re right. If it does take a year, even two; what percentage of time is that really? And also, I think it’s almost like you don’t even know all of the things that can get better. And a lot of our listeners have gone paleo, for example, or have just ditched junky foods. And before that, didn’t realize how great they could feel until they did it, and I think we don’t realize how many things are affected by our hormones. We kind of joke, or say it offhandedly; “oh, I’m hormonal.” Or, “My mood is weird because of my period.” Or whatever, but you know what if the brain fog could life? What if our energy could feel so much better if we just spend this time focusing on our hormones? We’re so quick to talk about digestion, but I do think all of it; not I think, I know it’s all connected, you know. If our hormones; if we’ve already handled a lot of stuff with our digestion and we’re just kind of hitting a point where it’s not like we don’t still think about it, but if we just shift the focus a little bit, we might get some changes that we didn’t expect, so.

Melissa Ramos: Oh, 1000%.

8. Prioritizing hormones to rebalance first [31:59]

Diane Sanfilippo: So, ok. So here’s a question and I’m sure a lot of people kind of have a similar question, but it’s just about prioritizing. So how would you prioritize hormones, when you need to rebalance so many. So for example, high or low cortisol; low progesterone; low estrogen; high androgens, low thyroid, etc. Where should we really be starting? Because we know all of this stuff affects everything else.

Melissa Ramos: Yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: What do you say about that?

Melissa Ramos: I think it’s a good question. I think honestly the biggest place that I would start off is with adrenal health. Because more often than not, when I see peoples stress levels all out of whack; let’s face it, when we’re stressed, you don’t want to eat a salad. Right? {laughs} I don’t.

Diane Sanfilippo: I make cookies, so I don’t know what you’re talking about. {laughs}

Melissa Ramos: {laughs} Exactly. So we get stressed out, we eat various foods that are going to help give us that boost in mood. And I honestly see women’s stress levels or cortisol levels just completely out of whack. And this is something that, way back when, having cortisol that surges wasn’t a bad thing. Because we saw stress, and because there was a bear chasing us and then we have enough energy to just get the heck out of dodge. But everybody is living in that fight or flight response; which I mention really does start to affect our entire hormonal system. Even if you’re in menopause; it’s going to affect your hot flashes.

If you are struggling with PMS; your stress levels will make it worse because if you’re not; whether you’re eating cookies, or whether you're eating chips, pasta or breads; other people’s vice might be wine. That stuff all breaks down to glucose in the body, and that is going to affect your PMS because what most people don’t realize is that PMS, for example, from my experience, how your PMS is one month is indicative for how you actually treated your body the month prior. And that’s a month or two prior. So I see so many women in January going; “oh my god, I’m dying.” I’m like, “Yeah, so were things in December?” Which is one of the most stressful months of the year.

So I always say, stress is the biggest one. I see it with PCOS; they’re stressed, they eat the wrong types of foods, or they have in the past, and that just ends up leading a cascade of symptoms that ends up developing into insulin resistance. So for sure adrenal health, 1000%.

Diane Sanfilippo: Love it. I think one other thing to keep in mind, because {laughs} I’m not a big drinker. I’m definitely not an every night or every few nights or whatever wine person, even though living in San Francisco, I’m completely in the minority there.

Melissa Ramos: {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: I’m like a weirdo, everybody here is super into wine. But I think it’s important for women to remember; and I’m sure we’ve said it on the show before, but of course whenever it’s relevant, I’ll bring it up again. But not only is that stuff just sugar to your body, but when you’re drinking alcohol, your liver’s primary function upon taking in that alcohol is to detoxify that alcohol. And our liver has to deal with detoxifying hormones, as well. And I think we just so often forget that this stuff is all related. So whether it’s just kind of increasing the waistline because it’s sugar we didn’t need; or it’s getting in the way of your hormonal balance because of what it’s doing to your liver. So you make your choice; I’m not here to be the no wine police.

Melissa Ramos: {laughing}

Diane Sanfilippo: but I am also not going to sugar coat it and tell you that drinking a glass of wine every night, if your hormones are not balanced, is the right thing to do. You’re going to hear pros and cons all over the place about some of the nutrients in wine, and resveratrol, and maybe you’re enjoying yourself and relaxing; and that’s like; for one glass in a week, maybe you’re with your girlfriends; it’s not the every night, my hormones are out of whack but I can’t not have my wine. It’s like; well do you want your liver to be doing what it’s supposed to be doing and helping you balance your hormones, or do you want to have the wine. And unfortunately, that’s not a favorable opinion {laughs} to share with people.

Melissa Ramos: Yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: But every time I’ve asked medical doctors; every naturopath; everyone I’ve asked, because I don’t like having to say that. I don’t like having to give the unpopular information.

Melissa Ramos: All of a sudden you're like the no-fun Bobby from Friends; if anyone ever saw that episode. {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: Totally! Of course I know; fun Bobby and then he stops drinking and they’re like; wait, what?

Melissa Ramos: He’s no more fun. {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: He’s not fun at all. But you know; I know as somebody who doesn’t just drink a lot, maybe it’s easier for me to say that. But there are a lot of reasons I don’t drink, and not the least of which is just, I think, for my health it’s probably not the right thing to do. But, I just want to make that point. And I know there will be someone listening; a woman listening, who is like, this is the time she just needs to get honest with herself about how much she’s drinking and how much that’s affecting her inability to progress with her health, you know?

Melissa Ramos: For sure, because even if you look at wine; and I like wine. I enjoy drinking wine. But the thing is, an excess amount of it will increase your estrogen levels. So if you’re struggling with fibroids.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs} It’s like a double whammy.

Melissa Ramos: Yeah!

Diane Sanfilippo: You’re increasing your estrogen and decreasing your liver’s function while it’s detoxifying the alcohol.

Melissa Ramos: Totally. So any estrogen related conditions like fibroids; endo; adenomyosis; cysts in the uterus or even in the breasts. You are; it’s honestly; you are causing insult to injury here. It’s not a good idea to be consuming wine every single night if those are the things you’re struggling with. And if you’re having a problem because you’re stressed; we have, we’re in a society where pain and suffering, we run away from it. And that’s the reason why there are addictions. Pain and suffering are not a bad thing. Pain and suffering is just a matter of let’s sit with it; let’s go through it, and then that way we can actually find our strength from it. But we tend to numb it because it’s just too painful to endure.

Diane Sanfilippo: And I think also that drinking wine every night; I’m not a hater, either. This is just, if you aren’t healthy, don’t kid yourself that that’s ok to keep doing or that it’s not making a difference. If you’re a healthy person, you don’t have any issues going on, and you know, you want to have your wine, do whatever you're going to do. I’m just talking to the woman who is listening and who is like; “Oh shoot, that’s me. I’m still drinking that, but I’m struggling”, you know?

Melissa Ramos: Mm-hmm.

Diane Sanfilippo: And to your point about the stress, it’s like; we know that if you’re drinking it because you’re stressed, we need to talk about the stress. But anyway.

Melissa Ramos: {laughs}

9. Getting your period back [38:50]

Diane Sanfilippo: Alright, so we’ve got a question here from Fit and Clean; how to get your period back. She says, “I lost it when I changed my diet to clean foods and no processed. Ran a lot, but now stopped. I’ve been seeing an acupuncturist for over a year, and still nothing. When I go on estrogen and progesterone, I do get it. I do yoga; walk on the treadmill; weights.”

Melissa Ramos: Yeah. So, there are so many reasons for it. I would suggest, honestly. If you don’t have a practitioner, like a naturopath to get a full hormone panel done, I do offer it in practice. I’ve shipped it as far as Dubai, believe it or not. But it’s important to get it done. If you’re somebody who hasn’t gotten it in a while, it’s good to see; are there elevated levels of testosterone? Because if there are, that could be a reason for it. There also could be low levels of estrogen; low levels of progesterone. So it really depends on what is causing it for her. Because everybody is going to be different.

The thyroid also could be a factor, so I always suggest women to go get tests run for your thyroid; your TSH, your T4, your T3, your reverse T3, and get a copy of it so when you see either a naturopath or even a practitioner like myself, we can actually run through it and go, “Ok this is what’s going on with you.” With a full hormone panel, what most people don’t realize is we have three estrogens. We have estrone, estradiol, and estriol. And we’ve got estrogens that are actually really beneficial; they are beneficial to our heart function, and we’ve got an estrogen that if it’s elevated it’s a bad thing in the sense that you will start to see cysts. And then from those estrogens, we’ve got a bunch of their metabolites. Which I kind of call their children. Some are good, and when they’re elevated, they’re not so good. They’re like markers for cancer, even.

So it’s good to see that entire profile to find out and properly assess what’s going on. So it really isn’t a black and which answer; but there are certain things, like I said; testosterone, low progesterone, low estrogen. There are a variety of reasons of why it could be happening.

Diane Sanfilippo: So one other thing I’m going to point out here, because this is something I’ve seen a lot; and this happened to me years and years ago, when I was running a lot as well, and just exercising a lot. What’s interesting to me is she’s saying she lost it when she changed her diet to clean foods and nothing processed. This isn’t; everybody who listens to this podcast knows that I can’t empathize with this struggle, but some women are really truly under eating and under nourishing their bodies.

Melissa Ramos: Yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: I’m like; I’m just for sure never on that side of things {laughs} so I’m like; I don’t even understand this problem.

Melissa Ramos: {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: But I do get it that it happens; especially if you clean up your diet, and your calorie intake could just be flat out too low to support your body’s normal hormone production. So your body could be stressed because it’s not getting enough nutrition; or the exercise, “running a lot but now stopped.” For how long, we don’t know. And we also don’t know the longer term impact of having run a lot in the past, and now what is that doing to your body. Again, like with the wine, and running; it’s like, I’m not a hater of running, it’s just the types of tendencies we see with the activities are that a lot of folks don’t just run; they run a lot.

Melissa Ramos: Yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: And it’s like, and when you’re doing that, you’re trying to get that dopamine hit, the endorphins that comes from running, and the more you do it the more you have to do it to feel that way.

Melissa Ramos: Yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: But then unfortunately, the other side of that is that totally decreased or depleted cortisol. And it’s not; again, with cortisol it’s not that your body can’t make it unless you have an issue; unless you actually have Addison’s disease, your adrenals can make it. It’s the brain chemistry that’s happening where you’re body is like; too much stress. We’ve had too much stress; we just can’t do it anymore.

So I think it’s important to; this is the point when maybe entering you food into a food log; because I don’t like for people to do it to micromanage. But I do think it’s important to open your eyes to how much you're eating. I don’t know how tall she is, or how much she weighs or any of that. But for me, when I hit about 18% body fat, which that’s when I had visible abs; it’s also when I lost my period. So I probably didn’t have a period for about 2 months, and I was just over-exercising. I was probably eating about 2000-2500 calories a day of pretty lean food; I remember being on a nutrition plan. This was probably 2007, so 10 years ago now; but I lost my period. And as women, that is a sign that we need to be checking in on all this stuff.

So anyway, I do think it’s’ relevant and important to enter your food, see what you’re eating; and whatever that number is. If you’re like; here’s basically what I’m eating day to day; let’s say what she finds out, if she’s eating 2000 calories, which we would normally say is plenty of food, but if she still doesn’t have her period and if she’s; it’s really hard for a woman to know looking at herself whether or not she could be under weight; especially if she just doesn’t see it. A lot of us have body dysmorphia where we just cannot tell what’s happening with our own bodies. She could be at that point where she does need a few more hundred calories a day. It doesn’t have to be a lot.

Melissa Ramos: Especially from fat.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah, especially.

Melissa Ramos: You need fat to manufacture hormones. {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah. So literally, two extra eggs a day and she could be fine.

Melissa Ramos: Yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: She might get that extra bit of cholesterol that’s going to help her make those hormones; a little bit of extra calorie intake there. So anyway, that is just definitely something that I’ve seen a lot, where it’s under consumption. And it could also be under consumption of carbohydrates, too, because in this paleo scene, I’m sure you’ve seen this happen, if women do higher fat and protein, but they’re eating veggies and kind of scared of fruit, and don’t want to add back the white rice that we tell them, you know, you might feel fine eating that. Those are the things where you might find some help there, too. So I’m sure there are plenty of women listening who are dealing with that issue as well.

Melissa Ramos: Mm-hmm. For sure.

10. What to expect in postpartum phases [45:20]

Diane Sanfilippo: Whoo. That’s a big one. Ok, so last question here. We’ve got one from K-Skinner 15. She says, what should she expect after pregnancy with each phase of postpartum. “Will all of my hair fall out? I know not all at the same time, thank god.” But what can she expect.

Melissa Ramos: Yeah, so, you with postpartum, there are a lot of things that are happening, and one of the things I always suggest is check your iron levels, please. I always suggest; if you’re checking it, if it’s really low, get some iron. Because if your hair starts to fall out, it could be an iron deficiency if there was a lot of blood that was lost during the actual childbirth.

From a food perspective, taking nettle tea; you know if you put a little bit of unpasteurized apple cider vinegar while it’s steeping, it helps to pull the medicinal constituents out. Let that steep for a good while; like 15 minutes even, and then pour it and put some blackstrap molasses in it; unsulfured, and that actually is a really good iron rich tonic, so that would be one thing that I would suggest from that. Because if your hair is falling out, it could be a result of low iron.

A lot of your hormones do definitely decline, but the interesting thing about postpartum; especially with postpartum depression is that they’ve found that there are actually an increase of inflammatory markers there. Specifically, an increased level of homocysteine within the first day or two; which 6 weeks even after delivery women are going to find that those homocysteine levels can be high. And for the people listening in and wondering what the heck is homocysteine; what we’ve found, or what they’ve found, I should say, in studies is that when homocysteine levels are high, there could be an increased risk of heart disease so it’s not a good thing when it’s elevated. So you want to make sure that you are having an adequate intake of your B vitamins; specifically B12, B9, which we don’t hear very much about, and B6, because it helps to recycle those homocysteine levels. And low intake of those nutrients can actually promote information. So that’s a huge one that we see.

And even; there’s this thing called the Apgar score; I don’t know if anyone has heard about this, but they do this on babies. And they notice that the Apgar score on babies are particularly low for women who have postpartum depression. And apgar really stands for appearance, pulse, grimace, activity, and respiration in babies. And this is generally given to babies twice; the first minute after birth and 5 minutes after birth. And when they start to see that that score is much lower in babies, they potentially can see that the women are going to suffer from postpartum. So those B vitamins are going to be incredibly important. So making sure that you’re getting those in. Fish oils, or even consuming cold water fatty fish. I love sardines and mackerel; it probably is from my way back Portuguese background where sardines is in the family.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs} Yeah.

Melissa Ramos: Love the stuff. But if you hate that, then get some fish oils. You want to make sure it’s particularly high in DHA, which is really great for your brain health. Probiotics; again, we go back to that. It helps to lower inflammation, and what a lot of people don’t realize is that enzymes help you break down your food. Probiotics help you assimilate nutrients from your food. So very important, because if there is an issue with digestion, it’s going to be really hard for you to metabolize any of those B vitamins; particularly vitamin B12. So making sure that you are tending to your digestive function; we go back to the poop and back to the probiotics. {laughs} It’s really important. So those are the huge ones.

Also, all the lifestyle stuff you can do. So getting in some exercise; and obviously in the beginning, you’re a tired mama. So even doing some restorative yoga. One of my go-to's; either you can do Gaia, which is online, or yoga glow. They give you a trial period, but per month it’s actually pretty inexpensive, so you can do some very, very gentle yoga that can just help to stretch the body, lower stress response. Meditation, which a lot of women I work with are like, “Melissa, I hate meditation. I can’t clear my mind.” I’m like, “Unless you’re Buddha, you’re not going to clear your mind.” I look at it like it’s a filtering system. You sit there for 10 minutes, count your breath, give your monkey mind something to focus in on, which is counting your breaths. Your mind will wander; recognize it, let it go, and move forward. But especially postpartum, a lot of those things are going on in the body and those are the things I truly would watch out for.

Diane Sanfilippo: Awesome. So, one other note I’m going to throw in there, because I always have some other kind of note here.

Melissa Ramos: {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: If you are concerned about your B vitamin absorption; something to think about, even before getting pregnant, which obviously in this case not something that she can consider; and during, and this would be working with a practitioner. I wouldn’t say just go grab it off the shelf, but making sure your stomach acid levels are adequate, because if you’re not absorbing B vitamins, there are some cases where if your stomach acid is too low, the parietal cells in your stomach are not able to help you do that, to get that B12, especially, as you're starting that digestive process. So it could be something, just to think about, especially if you’re having a lot of reflux, which is probably very common with pregnant women who are having that push up. So just something to think about; I think the meditation is probably going to help with that, as well, getting into that rest and digest mode before we start eating.

And as you mentioned about omega-3 fatty acids; well, how perfect that one of our show sponsors is Vital Choice, who we absolutely love. So we can get plenty of our fatty cold water fish, and lots of great high quality, clean, wild caught, all that good stuff omega-3 rich foods from Vital Choice. So we’ve got it built in, one stop shop.

Melissa Ramos: {laughs} Awesome.

Diane Sanfilippo: Awesome. So that is such a great episode. This was really fun, super informative. I think our listeners are absolutely going to get so much from this show. Where else can they connect with you?

Melissa Ramos: Yeah. So if you guys want to check out more about me, you can come over the www.sexyfoodtherapy.com. And if you want to learn more about Sexy Lady Balls, you can check out www.SexyLadyBalls.com and I actually; you know what, forget that. I’m going to give your listeners a link where they can get $20 off the membership; it’s not going to expire, so if you’re listening to this, that link will be in the show notes so that you guys can get $20 off. So forget about going to Sexy Lady Balls; I’m going to give you a special link just for your listeners right now so you can get in on that offer. And then you’re going to be able to see; the women that are in the group and at least get the support that you deserve so that you don’t feel so alone. Because truthfully; you really do deserve the best, and you’re going to see how much it’s going to help you improve in your life and become empowered, which really is the ultimate goal.

Diane Sanfilippo: I love it. I think women do need a place to do that, and not just randomly on the internet with people who don’t all kind of know what you’re talking about, how you want to move through life with this healthy mindset and taking care of yourself and all that. I definitely would recommend anyone who is struggling with hormonal balance, and you feel like you need a community for that with also someone who is going to lead you through, that’s definitely a great idea and I would; I also want to hear back from some of you, after you do it. Like in a year, come back and tell me.

Melissa Ramos: {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: Because I just think, you know, I want to give people options of where to go. And Liz and I don’t have that; we don’t have a group to really just focus on that, you know? So for me it’s important to bring folks in who can help our listeners who have been struggling and find some good answers, and feel like they have a community for that. So thank you for that; we will put that in the show notes so you guys can find it there.

Melissa Ramos: Awesome.

Liz Wolfe: The Balanced Bites podcast is sponsored in part by the Nutritional Therapy Association. The NTA trains and certifies nutritional therapy practitioners and consultants (including me; I’m an NTP), emphasizing bio-individuality and the range of dietary strategies that support wellness. The NTA emphasizes local, whole, properly prepared nutrient dense foods as the key to restoring balance and enhancing the body’s ability to heal. Nutritional therapy practitioners and consultants learn a wide range of tools and techniques to assess and correct nutritional imbalances. To learn lots more about the nutritional therapy program, go to http://www.NutritionalTherapy.com. There are workshop venues in the US, Canada, and Australia, so chances are you’ll be able to find a venue that works for you.

Diane Sanfilippo: Awesome. So don’t forget you guys can find me, Diane, at http://dianesanfilippo.com, and of course my Balanced Bites podcast co-host, Liz Wolfe, at http://realfoodliz.com/. Don’t forget to join our email lists for free goodies and updates you don’t find anywhere else on our websites or on the podcast. While you’re on the internet, please leave us an iTunes review. We’ll see you next week.

Comments 9

  1. I can’t thank you enough for this episode. Having been diagnosed with PCOS in my early 20’s plus bouts of depression, ongoing acne in my 30s, this episode was really helpful. I don’t feel like my hormones are balanced. You encouraged me to look into functional health practioner/nautropaths in my area- something that’s been on my to do list. Having a son with special needs, you tend to put yourself on the back burner. I just discovered Paleo in the fall, I did super strict Paleo in January for 30 days which was a great starting point but feel I have a ways to go. Thank you for this content. Diane, I love love your book, and as always, I love the content you share across on your socials. You’ve been incredibly helpful in my “journey” of sorts. Thanks again. -Stephanie (cleanerstephanie on IG)

  2. Disclaimer I don’t want to sound like a crazy person but I listened to the podcast yesterday and then had this dream last night and thought it was too funny to not share…. You were at my home eating lunch and I was at my counter mixing up a spices blend for a salad?? In walked another one of my friends and you asked her if she wanted something to eat or maybe some wine (I think because you said wine 100 times in the podcast yesterday). So I pull a bottle of wine out and she shrugged it off and then you got really excited and said “Oh wait I bought some Goat Wine you can have that!” Sure enough in there was a bottle of wine with a goat on the label.
    I then woke up thinking I really need to back off the Diane social media sites. Have a good weekend.

  3. Pingback: Women's Hormones | What's Up Weekly with Diane | March 1st, 2017

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