Audio Version: https://chantelray.podbean.com/e/wa85/
Video Version: https://youtu.be/o5Tqr6zbuF8
Dr. Berkson’s website: https://drlindseyberkson.com/
Chantel: Hey, guys. Welcome to this week’s episode and today, we have Dr. Lindsey Berkson and she’s a hormone and gut nutrition specialist. She’s a bestselling author of 21 books and she’s passionate about getting to the root of helping patients find out what’s wrong with them and how to fix it but in the most natural way. I’m so excited because it’s funny, I feel like I’ve been learning so much about how your gut and your hormones are so tied together. It’s not even funny and so, welcome.
Lindsey Berkson: Thank you so much for having me on the show. You know, I just did a show myself with a world famous integrative gynecologist and she was saying, almost nobody knows the unappreciated role of hormones in the gut. We think of hunger hormones, we think of contractile hormones to push the food through but very few people understand the intimate and dynamic role of sex steroid hormones, estrogen, testosterone, progesterone on your gut and on your microbiome and how it communicates with the majority of your immune system that lives in your gut wall. I’m so excited to be here and pass this information forward to your tribe.
Chantel: Well, thank you. Your latest book is called Sexy Brain and the title really caught my attention and this book seems to be a little different from your others, you focus on relationships and intimacy as it refers to kind of our toxic environment. What prompted you to write this book?
Lindsey Berkson: That’s a really great question because I write hormone books and I’ve been a hormone scholar at Tulane University, I often get requested to write books on hormones. A group of surgeons and urologist, that’s a male genitalia doctor, a group of them were going to open up 100 low testosterone clinics. They called me up and they said, why don’t you help us write a book for the waiting room, for all these clinics and you could collaborate with our urologist, that’s the guy docs and so we created a deal and I started diving into the literature and I started finding in this sex literature, a peer review scientific sex literature that doesn’t get much headline news because it’s about sex.
Lindsey Berkson: I haven’t thought that much before it is about sex, that the more often you do it, the better your cognition, the less your risk of Alzheimer’s Disease, the less your risk for a woman of breast cancer, the less your risk for man of prostate cancer, the list went on and on about the global benefits, in fact, the Women’s Health Initiative had an observational trial that showed that if a woman had regular sex that she really enjoyed with someone she respected over her life, she had less risk of heart disease than … compared to how she ate and how she exercise or if she was on heart protective medications like so called statins and so forth.
Lindsey Berkson: I was amazed, at the same time, in my own practice, younger and younger women and men were coming in saying, “You know, I don’t really have much of the sex drive anymore. I like my mate but I just don’t feel it.” At this low T clinics that start … they started to open, they thought they would mainly be getting men in their 50s, 60s, 70s. They started getting a plethora, a majority of guys in their 20s that weren’t just trying to get super orgasms but were coming and saying, I just feel like I don’t have any testosterone. I don’t get a really hard erection. I don’t really feel it. I want to feel it and I don’t know what’s going on and when they would test these young men, they had testosterone levels like an old guy would normally have.
Lindsey Berkson: When all this came together, and I’m an environmental writer. I wrote one of the very first books on endocrine disrupting compounds about 27 years ago, that’s how I got my gig as a hormone scholar. I realized that today’s dirty planet and food were adversely affecting our hormones and our desire for intimacy, our level of hormones and I realized that intimacy has a lot to do in nature’s design to protect the brain. I created the term environmental castration. I realized that sex is one of nature’s way to keep the human brain going, your sex steroid hormones which are released during sex, that’s why it’s called Sexy Brain, sex steroid hormones, the estrogen, progesterone and testosterone, really make your brain healthy but today’s hormone altering pollutants damage those so we have hormone disruption.
Lindsey Berkson: We have lower levels of hormones or hormones that don’t work as well, even if the tested level looks normal. We have gender-bending and intimacy issues and we have the brain being less taken care of. I felt like I had to write this book so I did.
Chantel: In the book, you talk about a 10 day sex hormone receptor detox which sounds quite interesting, tell us a little more about this.
Lindsey Berkson: One of the most exasperating things is that if a woman or man hears about hormones, they’re going to … first knee-jerk reflex, go to their primary doc or endocrinologist, their gynecologist, their urologist and say, what do you think, am I a candidate for hormones and how it’s practiced today, is you get your levels tested, it could be in your blood, it could be in your saliva, it could be in your urine but based on the level of your hormone, that doctor will make a decision as to whether you need it or not. That is so antiquated, you are bound to get the wrong answer. That is the old way of understanding hormones so when I was a scholar at Tulane, much of the research was on receptors. Hormones swims into a set proteins in the shape of a satellite dish called a receptor.
Lindsey Berkson: Receptor functionality is how the health of your hormones really, is successful or not. That’s not measured by the level of your hormones, you could have a perfectly normal level but it can’t get in to the receptor, where the rubber meets the road of hormones is how healthy are your receptors to receive the signals from your hormones. Many of these receptors are clogged by pollutants today. If you eat a lot of food and canned food, you drink a lot of great water with no chemicals in it but the bubbly waters in cans, you’re exposed to Bisphenol A and it clogs up your receptors. If you were perfumed with Phthalates, if you wear a lot of nail polish, if you have a home that isn’t green, these receptors get clogged.
Lindsey Berkson: Even though you look like you have a normal level of hormone, that hormone can’t get in and do its job description. I just designed a detox to clean out those receptors so that your hormones work better.
Chantel: How do you know if those receptors aren’t working? You just don’t feel it.
Lindsey Berkson: That is such a great question, that is the number one question and the problem is, in Academia, there is research to assess receptor functionality but it hasn’t trickled down yet into the clinical trenches. The real deal is how do you feel and how in a number of symptoms that show up, so signs and symptoms but the way most doctors are trained today or nurse practitioners or physician’s assistants is to mainly go by laboratory analysis and algorithms so they don’t listen so much to how you feel …
Chantel: Yeah, so you could go into the … you can go get your blood work and what I’m hearing you say is, I go in and get my blood work and they go, “Yup, that’s right, that’s right. That’s normal, that’s normal, that’s normal.” Then you go, yeah it might be normal but I feel miserable. I’m tired, I have no energy and so forth. What is this detox look like? Talk about it for just a second.
Lindsey Berkson: Well, I’ve actually streamlined it a little bit since Sexy Brain came out although, it’s in there, it’s got an intestinal sweep that is very effective and once you liberate this stuff out of you, you can rinse it out of the body. A lot of the literature on this is based on Fireman research because about 30, 40 years ago, Firemen are the most polluted wonderful people that we have. They run into a burning building or a ground zero and they’re exposed to all these chemicals so they began forming detox protocols for Firemen, a number of decades ago, to get them back on the job and to also to make them be healthier.
Lindsey Berkson: In fact, they’ve now taken some of the workers from ground zero in New York and done pilot detoxification programs for them because they all have … even 12 and 13 years old that were babies at the time that 7/11 happened, they have all these chemicals in their blood and to really be a healthier person, you have to get these chemicals out of you. The whole understanding of the detox is to get this stuff out of you especially at the level of your receptor. It’s got certain nutriceuticals that liberate what’s inside the receptor out, than other nutriceuticals that help pull it into your lymphatic system and then an intestinal sweep that helps get this stuff out of you.
Lindsey Berkson: It clause the pollutants out of you or the heavy metal out of you, then it helps make it, swim through your body and then it helps get it rinsed out of your intestinal tract.
Lindsey Berkson: In fact pushing the receptor detox, two other ladies and myself have put together the 10 day receptor detox in its modified form and we’re launching it in about a month, to get … to really help people’s hormones be healthier because this is not … hormones no longer function the way most doctors have been trained in school because of this receptor issue being filled with pollutants or one other thing. The receptor has to be filled with vitamins and minerals for that hormone to work well. It depends on the food choices you make, the digestion you have, if you have a lot of antibiotics that year and you’re eating more junk food because you got a lot of stuff going on in your life. You might not have the minerals and vitamins that are necessary.
Lindsey Berkson: Hormones it turns out, in terms of optimal function, are this larger picture that’s not just running your blood level so most of the time when you go in to see a doc, and you say, can you test my hormones, you most of the time get the wrong answer and you don’t get treated completely and optimally for your body and that’s my mission in life, is to help people get better care taking of their hormones.
Chantel: What kind of foods do you eat, are you … what are you a fan on and what do you kind of eat and what do you kind of avoid?
Lindsey Berkson: I don’t eat processed foods. I don’t … pretty much what I eat … and I’ve been eating like this my entire life. I heard a talk when I was 16 years old by Scott Nearing at the Theosophy Society in Northern California that you are what you eat. He started the organic movement. He and Eliot Coleman started the organic movement. I happen to be lucky enough to hear them, become friends with them, he wrote the forewords in my very first book. In fact, we became life long friends. I’ve been eating organically my whole life. I try and eat organically most of the time. If I go out to a restaurant, I might not eat organically but it’s what you do most of the time that counts. I don’t eat processed foods, cookies.
Lindsey Berkson: For my self, my own body, I don’t eat red meat, eggs, gluten and dairy. Those aggravate my body and everybody is different. Some people can eat those foods and they’re not aggravated by that. I try to eat 15 to 20 vegetables a day, right before we had the show. I was downstairs, making a huge pot of colorful … I was almost thinking how to take a picture of it and show it to you. If you want, I can take a picture of it when we’re all done and then give it to you if you somehow can use it. I try and go to through 10 to 15 vegetables a day and one of the things that I eat every single day is pomegranates.
Chantel: I love pomegranates and so does my son. They’re a pain in the butt to get into but they are delicious.
Lindsey Berkson: Well, you can buy them at Costco, Walmart, Trader Joe’s, most local grocery stores, wholefoods, and they come in these little containers and my whole freezer is just filled with these containers and I try and get a quarter to a half of cup a day. They are as close as you can get to a hormone balancing food and protect you against breast cancer of any food because the kernel inside the pomegranate is the only food in the entire plant kingdom, that has Omega 5 Fatty Acid, Punicic acid. That tamps down excessive growth signals from Estrogen and reboots up anti-cancer controlled signals from Estrogen.
Lindsey Berkson: In fact, some people even make pomegranate oil, breast oil to protect the breast or be part of a protocol for women who’ve had breast cancer. Pomegranate has this essential fatty acid that normalizes estrogen and makes it be a really good player so you get the benefit of estrogen without the dangers of estrogen and pomegranates are very insulin receptor sensitizing. They signal the PPAR gamma receptor which is what most diabetic drugs do so there’s peer review data suggesting we use pomegranates for diabetics because there’s no downstream consequences like the diabetic have but they act just like a diabetic drug.
Lindsey Berkson: I’ve discovered, they lower your … by optimizing your insulin receptor, they help you eat less, want less sugary foods, have smaller portions, have lower … more normal blood sugar and protect your estrogens. All in a tasty food, that taste like you’re sinning because it’s so delicious.
Chantel: Yeah. Anything else like that, that’s a great tip. I’m ready to eat a pomegranate right now, you’ve talked into it, like I’m going to get off here and get one immediately, like where is my assistant? She’s going to go get one right away. What else would you say is kind of like, I mean, everyday, I’m a huge fan of X, what would that be?
Lindsey Berkson: For people who aren’t allergic to it, the next food that’s almost as perfect the food as you can get are flax seeds. Flax seeds are very high in fiber. They’re high in lignans that help normalize estrogen metabolism but one of the biggest things about flax seed is that if you can digest well and methylate well, you don’t have methylation issues or if you do, you take back up B vitamins, eating flax seeds helps your body produce this very interesting molecule that protects against breast cancer, ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, inflammation like nobody’s business. This molecule is called 2-Methoxyestradiol.
Lindsey Berkson: There’s two main foods that help your body make this. Flax seeds are the number one and sesame seeds, so like Kumis is a great food, are number two and if your body processes estrogen well, the last part of the processing requires methylation, you make 2MEO that’s the acronym, 2MEO protects against cancer and inflammation like nobody’s business. On my website, when people sign in for my email list, I put together a flax seed recipe book for my flax seed muffins and if you were just diagnosed with a hormone dependent tumor, you can go a little more intense with it. I have this whole little book for free to pass this forward so people have a fun delicious way of getting the sin everyday and in a healthy way because it’s not that easy to get flax seeds into your diet but they’re …
Lindsey Berkson: They also have Omega 3, Omega 6, Omega 9 in a wonderful ratio to each other. They’re just a phenomenal food, if you can digest them, if you’re not allergic to them and if you can methylate. If you have methylation issues, you just need to take B vitamins along with consuming flax seeds on a regular basis.
Chantel: Awesome. Well, let’s go right into our listener questions. This is from Allison in Montreal. I’m a big fan of the keto diet, which is low carbon, high fats and love how I feel when I’m eating this way and one of the things I love that it keeps my period really regular. I have PCOS and this isn’t something that I experience when I’m not really following this diet. The only thing that stinks is my period is insanely heavy. Heavy flow, intense cramps that go down my entire thighs and into my back. I was reading online that this could be brought on by increased fats so I’m trying to be mindful of that during my period. Do you think that this is the case or do you think it’s something else? Are there supplements that I should be taking? I do not like to take birth control and that is not an option for me to help regulate.
Lindsey Berkson: Birth control pills are one of the worst things ever developed. They’re powerful endocrine disruptors. When I was a scholar at Tulane, when we were testing, not myself but the scientist there testing pesticides, herbicides to see which one was endocrine disruptors, they use Ethinylestradiol which is in oral contraceptives as their control because it is a hormone disruptor so they would check, like the chemicals in lipstick against Ethinylestradiol that’s given to women as a birth control. Women should have … have to sign an informed consent release before they’re given birth control pills. They’re damaging to the …
Chantel: I agree.
Lindsey Berkson: On and on and on. I just did a show on birth control that was published last week, there’s the theme on my show for the next few weeks because I’m so on the horse, 100 million women are on them. Birth control pills are not the answer for any condition … especially polycystic ovarian syndrome is a systemic condition and an inflammatory and dysinsulistic condition and birth control pills can worsen that. First of all, a lot of people go on the ketogenic diet that not necessarily should. You really need to track your fats and make sure that you’re not getting an elevation of fats which can make your hormones go out of balance and the other thing you should track is you can run in your blood something called TMAO, Trimethylamine N-oxide.
Lindsey Berkson: It is a factor that’s made when you eat a lot of animal products. If you have a really healthy gut and you’re on the ketogenic diet, and the TMAO is low, it’s under about six or eight, you’re fine but if you’re on the ketogenic diet and your TMAO is high, then even though you’re feeling better, you’re getting damage at different tissue levels and that might be contributing to the heavy period. The other thing is heavy periods often can come long with thyroid issues, low iron issues, low mineral and vitamin B6, magnesium issues. If you’re not eating enough veggies, real large amounts of veggies more … in relation to your protein because you’re enjoying how you feel on the ketogenic diet, that could make you insufficient in the nutrients that help keep your hormones balanced. It’s really a lot to answer. There could be a lot of different factors going on here.
Chantel: We’re getting a lot, a lot of people who are coming in and they’re saying that they are either having low iron or they’re saying their iron is in the normal range but their Ferritin levels are really low. Astronomical people are … I guess maybe we’ve talked about it on the show and now we’re getting all these questions people are saying, either my iron is low or some people are saying, my iron is normal but my ferritin levels are low, can you talk about that for just a second?
Lindsey Berkson: Iron is one of the most important minerals in your body because it really helps carry oxygen to your tissues and life is all about circulation so iron is your circulatory mineral, that like all things in the body, everything in the body is Goldilocks, you don’t want too much, you don’t want too little …
Chantel: I love that. That’s such a cute example. That’s really good. I love that.
Lindsey Berkson: Iron is exactly like that. The minute you get too much iron, it causes damage to the body, damage to the heart, damage to the lining of the blood vessels. The minute you have too little, a lot of people come in with a lot of … with complaints like fatigue dizziness, shortness of breath and their doctors look at their blood work and says, everything is fine but literally their iron was low and they weren’t getting enough blood and oxygen to all of their tissues. It’s important to have iron in a mid range that’s optimal and Ferritin is the storage iron and you don’t want that below 30. You really want it to be around 80 to 100, if it’s below 30, something is going on where you can’t digest your minerals right.
Lindsey Berkson: There could be many factors. One of the more common ones that you don’t make enough stomach acid because you have to have a very acidic stomach environment to absorb iron in particular. If you have an infection with H. pylori which is a stomach bug, Helicobacter pylori, that can damage the cell that makes stomach acid and you normally shut off your stomach acid production when you have that infection so it’s very important, if you have that infection to get rid of that infection and everyone with low iron should be checked for that infection H. Pylori. If people get way too low in Ferritin sometimes they …
Chantel: What does someone do if they do find out they have H. Pylori, what do they do to get rid of it?
Lindsey Berkson: Well, if you go to a regular doctor, they give you a triple antibiotic program. If you go to a functional practitioner, there is a wide range of different things they use to eradicate that bug. It’s important also to give digestive enzymes while you’re trying to eradicate that bug because the bug is blocking your digestive enzymes and stomach acid and if you think of your digestive enzymes, it’s a set of dominoes. Stomach acid is released and then, that cues all the other digestive players who were supposed to secrete into the rest of your gut that they should release things. Usually you have not been getting anything, you’re not getting pancreatic enzymes or bile so you need to work with somebody who can assess all your digestive players.
Lindsey Berkson: Get that going while you’re on Helicobacter pylori and it’s very important to get rid of it because it’s highly linked to an increased risk of cancers, diverse types of cancers, why, because you need stomach acid to kill pathogens that come in on food and to help you really digest and to inform all your other digestive players. It also keeps your blood alkaline. That sounds counterintuitive but stomach acid helps your whole body stay alkaline. Stomach acid is a major, major player, I wrote about it in my book, Healthy Digestion The Natural Way and I have a nutritional gastroenterology book coming out.
Lindsey Berkson: I lecture for A4M, which is a fourth year certification program for MDs that are tired of regular medicine and want to become a functional doc. We give an entire hour talk on stomach acid and why you need to know what to do with it, H. Pylori is one of its major enemies and so the big thing is whatever treatment you get, you need to be tracked because it can recur so you have to get retested in six months and retested in a year and then retested in one more year. If all those three tests are normal, you’re out of the woods and you’re okay, you can forget about it but if they’re not, then you got to take a look at a different intervention.
Chantel: Okay, and so you have … your website drlindseyberkson.com, when you go there … because we have listeners from all over the country. If someone wants to get help from you, can you help anyone in any state or are you only in certain states?
Lindsey Berkson: I don’t help people in the state of denial.
Chantel: That’s good. I like that, but any other you can help them?
Lindsey Berkson: I’m acting as a non-primary care doc. I help people see the bigger picture and work along with whatever local medical practitioner they have to get them the right prescriptions and things like that. Many of my patients are hormone doctors or physicians themselves. I work with people all over the world now, in Dubai, in Israel, in Spain, in Britain. People are wanting to get well and having trouble with great healthcare, everywhere and the first visit I have often is an hour and a half to two hours and then I spend another few hours going over your notes. I write everything up, I put abstracts and scientific support for what I suggest.
Lindsey Berkson: You get somebody spending up to five hours on you and your life story and your presentation and your hormones in a way that there’s no … there’s not very many people who can do that. I’ve been in practice … I hate to say this, 47 years. There’s not a lot of … there’s not a lot that can make up for the fact of experience and I’ve been in this since the beginning and I’ve been doing hormones since I first started practice. You bring all of that clinical experience in writing books and having a show. You get a pair of fresh eyes, with somebody that’s got a deep dive into the data and spends all this time and it’s only this visit we get you started on the right path and then, usually you can go off with your local providers.
Chantel: If someone says, you know what, I have all the symptoms of H. Pylori and they say, I want to get tested, would you be the one that test them or would they go to their primary care physician and say, can you give me a test to check to see, if I have H. Pylori and would that be a stool test?
Lindsey Berkson: It’s really … one of the problems of getting tested for things are, which tests are being used are those are the tests that have the best standardized results. Sometimes patients will come in and say, I had endoscopic procedure and they did a biopsy and they told me I don’t have any H. Pylori. Well, that’s not a standardized way. You can miss where H. Pylori is lodged into the stomach with a biopsy so the two standardized methods of assessing H. Pylori are the breath test and also the stool test. Often times, what I’ll do is I will run a comprehensive stool. I can order lots of different test in most states but not in New York and New Jersey.
Lindsey Berkson: They don’t like consultants from out of state to run test on there. There’s differences per state. Some countries, we can send some kids to other countries and sometimes we can’t. For example, I like … there’s a breath test for SIBOs, small intestinal bowel overgrowth. I don’t think most of those test give you very good results and when I lecture, I lecture with one of the top functional gastroenterologist in the world. He’s got a practice in Southern California and his name is Dr. Sam Rahbar and he spent years creating his own SIBO breath test so for my patients, if we wanted to order that, his clinic will send a kit wherever you are.
Lindsey Berkson: In fact, I just had a patient in Britain that he sent a SIBO breath test to Britain, even though, it was a lot of money to do that, she paid for the shipping so there’s differences in test and not every test that the doctor runs in my opinion are as good as necessarily another test. Each doc has their own favorite test that they like over many years of using them and also being able to read and interpret them so I use two or three labs that I like their comprehensive stool and someone might come in to me with their own comprehensive stool which is fine but I’m not as adept at the nuances of reading it as the test that I’ve been working with for several decades.
Lindsey Berkson: If I’m doing a hormone test, and I’ve been doing the 24 hour hormone collection test for 47 years now, I can read so many nuances, if somebody comes in with DUTCH test, it’s great but I can’t collect as many nuances. Different docs like different test that they get comfy with and then they’re able to pick up little things here and there that aren’t of the norm. That’s always something for you to consider, the patients don’t realize.
Chantel: Got you. Obviously, you’re not going to be prescribing antibiotics to cure the H. Pylori. If you had to say, here’s my top two things that I do to get rid of H. Pylori, what do you say?
Lindsey Berkson: It’s not the top two things. Mastic gum is always mentioned but H. Pylori can’t be fixed with just one or two things, it can’t. It’s a very, very aggressive resistant bacteria and it has to have a whole entire program. The top of the herb is mastic gum and then on top of that, you have to start replenishing those digestive enzymes. If you look at stomach acid replacement, then you have to do that in a very careful monitoring way, you just can’t throw stomach acid at somebody, you have to do it in a specific way, monitor them, see if there’s too much or too little. Every thing needs to be done individually but remember most doctors are giving three different antibiotics at one time and then there’s still a high recurrence rate.
Lindsey Berkson: This is not an easy bug to eradicate, so you need somebody who’s really monitoring you and trying to find what are your weakest links in your body that don’t allow your body on its own to attack these things because most of us are exposed to H. Pylori. It’s pretty ubiquitous so why is that some people are getting it and others are not. Part of a functional medicine point of view is to figure out why you are in the pickle you’re in and let’s shore that up so that we can gather a better immunologically functioning body on your own besides what we give you so that you’ve got more of your mojo to eradicate that which you shouldn’t have allowed to flourish in the first place. Does that make sense to you?
Chantel: Yeah, absolutely and one of the things that I have started doing is, sometimes, I’ll take HCL and one of the things I’ve noticed and this is why I’m so big on just researching the gut and the thyroid is when I take HCL, let’s say I take it with a meal, my thyroid, I can feel it, it’s on overdrive. It’s the weirdest thing, I’m like, “Oh my gosh, I just took some HCL and now, I can tell that my thyroid is functioning more.” I’m very in tuned with kind of where my levels are and I can tell my thyroid is functioning in a way higher level, when I’m taking HCL so you’re right, you have to be careful. You don’t want to take too much and you …
Lindsey Berkson: You know it’s very, very important to understand if you need it or not. Some people that have a really lax lower esophageal sphincter where they just don’t have the ability to close that sphincter off, they’re not candidates for HCL because it’s going to rise up into the esophagus and damage the very friable esophageal epithelial lining. There’s a lot of dos and don’ts with all of this, just because something works for one person, everyone is always looking for a recipe.
Chantel: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Lindsey Berkson: If it worked for Sally, it’s going to work for [inaudible 00:32:23] individualized and monitored and respected, it’s respecting your own body suit footprint and figuring out what works for you and what works for you in one time of your life might not work for you in another time of your life. Sometimes people just need stomach acid for a while to reboot the system and then once you get rid of all the weak links, that we’re making you not be the best that you can be, then your body can start producing it on its own. For example, you need zinc to make stomach acid. Cadmium will not only damage parietal cells that make stomach acid but Cadmium will decrease the number of parietal cells.
Lindsey Berkson: If you’ve got a disease call Primary hyperparathyroidism, your parietal cells are on overdrive and you really need to take care of that hidden disease which is often misdiagnosed. That’s the issue with the stomach acid. There’s this bigger picture in nutrition where it merges with physiology and understanding … and all these things need to be in your head when you’re talking to somebody and how many nutritionist know what Primary hyperparathyroidism is, yet Dr. James Norman, wrote a huge article on it. He’s considered the parathyroid king in Tampa, Florida. He was able to show that of 3,000 patients with this disease where you grow a little benign tumor on this little glands around the thyroid.
Lindsey Berkson: They’re called parathyroid, most of those people have heartburn and issues with either too much or too little stomach acid but the issue with secondary to this little teeny growth that was making the parathyroid go whack-a-doodle. There’s a lot to be respected. You can try things on your own. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t but if you’re really ill and you want a good workup, you need to have somebody that’s got all of this in their brain and is thinking of your best interest to find out what works best for you.
Chantel: Yes, okay, June, in New York. I’m in my early 40s and I’ve been researching my different options as far as hormones of which I should be taking. I came across something online about bioidentical hormones which some people seem to be arguing on a safer route than traditional hormones. Do you have any experience with bioidentical hormones and do you recommend them to your patients? What is your opinion on the risks associated with traditional hormone replacement therapy?
Lindsey Berkson: I wrote an entire book that answers that question. It’s called Safe Hormones, Smart Women and I give all the data on synthetic hormones versus non-synthetic hormones so you should really get my book. Bioidentical hormones are the exact same chemical molecular structure and synthetic hormones were made by a company that changed the molecular structures so that they could be patented and then processed and manufactured and made for profit. We ended up getting synthetic hormones so vitamin companies could have a pill and make a profit. That’s how they started, bioidentical hormones are hormones that are made by a compounding pharmacy and they look exactly like the molecular structure.
Lindsey Berkson: Let me tell you the story here that’s going to really expose what’s going on. For decades women were given synthetic hormones. They were mainly given Premarin and something called Medroxyprogesterone acetate or MPA. Those were merged together in a pill called Prempro or Premarin. Women were put on those, it was the number one selling medication for decades and women were told that they would be younger and aging better than anything if they took hormones. In the late 1990s, the government started to create a series of test called the Women’s Health Initiative, because our aging female demographic is the fastest growing demographic in the world. We have aging women … up with aging women.
Lindsey Berkson: We are a mass … A tour de force to be reckoned with and the government wanted to know how to take care of us without us toppling Medicare. They started looking at women, every which way and they decided to do the very first randomized trials on hormones, convinced they were going to show what women had been told for several decades that they do everything, they protect your heart, they slow down in the map, track of time. They’re really important to do so they had an arm with both of those synthetic hormones and an arm with estrogen only and they stop those study prematurely because all of a sudden, it looked like women were getting more cancers, getting more stroke and everybody stopped using hormones.
Lindsey Berkson: At that time, the manufacturers of these synthetic hormones, Premarin and MPA were bad-mouthing bioidentical hormones. They’re bad, they’re bad, they’re horrible, they’re not FDA approved. Well, re-analysis of that data showed that the estrogen only arm, the women had 33% less risk of breast cancer. What they extrapolated wasn’t accurate because many of the women in this study were much older, overweight, there were a lot of statistical issues and all of the headlines, the scary headlines where women got afraid of breast cancer and stroke from hormone replacement, turned out not to really be true. At that time, women got afraid of hormones so the synthetic hormones, they fell down. Their stock went down.
Lindsey Berkson: They stop selling so the CEOs of those companies figured out how to come up with a bioidentical hormone that they could patent and now, they have a product that’s about to launch called Replenish, which are bioidentical hormones, so the same CEOs that were writing and publishing, synthetic bioidentical hormones are bad, synthetic hormones are the way to go, they are now publishing a peer review data, they’ve created a company called Medical Therapeutics and they’re writing, bioidenticals are the only way to go. They’re safer, because it’s follow the money. Women have really been traumatized, brutalized, misused, based on other people making money off of us.
Lindsey Berkson: It’s so great that you have a show like this to pass true information forward so women can make informed decisions for themselves. Not using a bioidentical hormone that your body is setup by nature, to utilize is really foolish, because you don’t know how your body is going to respond to an altered molecule and hormones are your ultimate physiologic internet system. They send emails to every single cell. They’re not just about sexy things and reproductive things. They run your gut as we started the show saying, they run your brain, they run your vocal cords. They run your liver, they run your immune system.
Lindsey Berkson: They care take your mitochondria. Estrogen has over 800 job descriptions and so if you’re taking an estrogen that’s been touched by a company to make profit for you, you don’t know what that is, so I don’t even know why there’s a debate but it came down to money. Now, when those CEOs want to make more money, because the synthetics are not selling like they used to, they’re starting to tart bioidenticals but I summarize all of this in Safe Hormones, Smart Women but bioidentical hormone testing and treating, each woman is different because some women don’t need it. We all have our own hormonal footprint is as close to an antiaging tool that we have.
Chantel: Got you.
Lindsey Berkson: The best thing you can do to stay younger, longer.
Chantel: All right, this next one is is from anonymous. I recently was tested for BRCA and tested positive for the BRCA-1 mutation. I’m overwhelm with decisions on how I should move forward. Should I freeze my eggs, should I remove my breasts, have a sclerectomy. I don’t know where to begin. On top of all of these big decisions I’m facing, I’m also thinking about the little ones like what should I be eating and what can I be doing to make myself as healthy as possible. I want to do anything that I can, what do you recommend?
Lindsey Berkson: Well, you really need to know a lot more of what’s going on with this person. Are there a lot of people in the family that did get hormonally driven cancers, exactly how active are these but there’s something to remember. Just because you have these BRCA genes. It doesn’t mean you’re going to get cancer. Over your lifetime, you do have an increased risk compared to other women, definitely but it’s not just of the breast. You have an increased risk of stomach cancer, pancreatic cancer. We don’t talk about this, it’s not in the news. You have an increase risk of cancer systemically. You can’t get rid of all your body, you can’t do a whole body ectomy because you’re worried about getting cancer in the future.
Lindsey Berkson: Now, Dr. Narod, discovered the BRCA genes and he took a look at different populations around the world as to who with the BRCA genes ended up getting hormonally driven cancers and who didn’t and the women that lived more healthily, that walked more, exercised more, consume more Resveratrol and less processed foods, even though they had the gene, they didn’t go on to get cancer. You’re not a victim of your genes. The way that you live and the choices you make, the second part of her question, like how can you live better? Those decisions change the epigenetics of your genes so your decisions can help shut up a bad gene or turn on a good gene.
Lindsey Berkson: You already heard pomegranates and flax seeds are your best friend, totally. Exercise, you want as more cardio, pulmonary, respiratory fitness you have. The more you push yourself, you’re not a China cup, the better your immune system and the better your genes will express themselves in a healthy way but the decision to take very extreme, interventional action like a famous actress did, is a very complex decision so I have a chapter in Safe Hormones, Smart Women, where I really address breast cancer and hormones and women with the BRCA gene in particular and I just finished the book yesterday on hormones for breast cancer survivors that I’m going to … a small Ebook, a small Ebook that’s written in a way that you can hand your cancer doctor.
Lindsey Berkson: You could be in a conversation together because they don’t know all this data. They just think if you got the BRCA gene, you have Prophylactic surgery. If you have breast cancer, you can never have hormones. Those are very not matured deep understandings of the whole bigger picture. I would say, eating like I’m eating … I had breast cancer 25 years ago, I’ve been on hormone replacement for 20 years or I wouldn’t be the person I am today, I don’t eat sugar, Most of the time, I can’t say 100%. I don’t eat processed foods. I attend to 15 different foods. I eat mostly organic, I eat lots of pomegranates. I have a flax seed muffin every single day that I … you can have the free recipe if you go to drlindseyberkson.com.
Lindsey Berkson: Those things would be helpful but you really have to sit down with somebody who knows how to assess the genes and look at your whole family history, how the other people with those genes have gone on and manifested illness or not.
Chantel: Great. One of my friends … this is from Elisa in Chesapeake. One of my friends recently had her feces sample to check her gut microbiome. When I was growing up, my grandmother always told me to eat yogurt for a healthy stomach but I don’t prefer dairy products and try to limit my carbs. What are other things I can be doing, drinking, taking, eating to encourage a healthy gut without going too overboard like my friend?
Lindsey Berkson: What a nice granny. I love … my grandmother was one of the favorite people in my life. I love grandmothers. There’s many ways that you can take in yogurt and kefir. They’re made from cashews, coconuts, all kind of different milk starters that you just put probiotics with it and heat and you’ve got a yogurt so you don’t have to have a dairy based yogurt. I make all my own Kimchi, which isn’t even really kimchi. I take like 30 different vegetables with lots of black Spanish radish which is the most liver detoxifying food on the planet. I make my own fermented veggies and I have a little bit of that, five days a week or so …
Chantel: You said, Spanish radishes is really good for detoxifying?
Lindsey Berkson: It also regulates the P450 hepa filter clean out your liver system. It’s the most powerful food that we have on the planet, to up regulate your liver detox system and so I go to the Farmers Market when I’m making kimchi because they’re not easy to get and they look like big black radishes and I just put them into my Kimchi so there’s so many ways now to get fermented foods. One of my favorite tricks is Umeboshi plum paste. It used to be available at whole foods, now, you can get it online. It’s made by Eden, somebody and it comes in a little teeny container and it’s fermented plums which have tremendous body of literature of it, really healing your gut and I love to make vegetable sushi.
Lindsey Berkson: In the inside, I put some cashew pate with a little taste Umeboshi plum paste and pieces of pickle ginger, my God, you could die and go to heaven. It’s so orgasmic and delicious. If I just don’t have time, I take a little quarter of a teaspoon and just eat it as a little teaspoon. That’s a real easy way to get great fermented food without a lot of muss and fuss. It’s spelled Umeboshi.
Chantel: Spell it one more time, UME …
Lindsey Berkson: Umeboshi. Umeboshi plum paste. I always have a little teeny container in my refrigerator and that’s a great way to care take your gut.
Chantel: That’s awesome. This is Keri in Missouri. I’m 42 and have not experienced anything that I can identify as a symptom of menopause. My sister is a couple of years older than me and she’s a big proponent of taking hormones. She’s trying to get me to see my doctor and get started but I don’t see the need because my period is regular, my sex life is great and I’m not experiencing any hot flashes, mood swings et cetera. Do you think I need to get ahead of the curve and start taking some sort of treatment or just wait until I start noticing “The change.”
Lindsey Berkson: That’s a wonderful question. Thank you for writing that question and you have a great community here. They’re very smart and really want to know what’s going on for them. I recommend getting your hormones run once a decade, your whole entire life. That way, even when you’re a kid, when you’re a teenager, when you’re a young adult, you know how you felt at different levels or if problems come up in the future, you can take a look at your hormone history over your lifetime. I just had on my show, Felice Gersh, she’s a very famous integrative gynecologist and we were talking about hormone altering chemicals …
Chantel: I love her. I know who she is, she’s a doll.
Lindsey Berkson: She’s a doll and we’re like sisters of the heart. Younger and younger women are having less and less hormones. Sometimes you even need to give a hormone to a young women in their teens or 20s. Harvard just came out with a study about six or seven months ago, assessing … giving hormone replacement to 14 year old to 20 year old girls and monitoring them for a year. It came out of Harvard Pediatric Division and they found that a lot of those girls felt better, had better … a whole list of things because our polluted planet is damaging our hormones younger and younger. It’s not just age that’s damaging our hormones, peri and post menopause. It’s being a citizen on the human planet.
Lindsey Berkson: It’s good to have your hormones tested to know where they’re at but if you’re feeling fabulous, don’t fix what’s not broken. You obviously are taking good care of yourself, you’ve got a great life, there’s no reason to go on hormones but it would be good to know your hormone level now at which you feel so good so when you start not feeling so good, a knowledgeable and very in the know practitioner could look at the levels that you were at that you made you feel so well that you’re experiencing now. I say the more historical hormone data that you have, in the future that’s gold. You don’t know when it’s going to be helpful.
Lindsey Berkson: If you’re feeling great, you don’t need to look at hormone replacement but in some people, it’s happening younger and younger even … hormones are being disrupted everywhere. In Puerto Rico six month old infants, a fair amount of them, statistically significant amount in their population are having breast buds and some kind of hormonal maturation as an infant. Hormones are being disrupted all over the place from what’s put in animals, what’s in the planet, the birth control pills, residues are not cleared out by the water treatment system. You get exposed to them in the shower, in the morning, if you don’t have a filter on your shower.
Lindsey Berkson: We’re in a big chemical soup that potentially, potentially is bending our hormone health, you’re one of the lucky ones that’s not feeling it but it’s good these days to track it because hormones issues are showing up every which way and it’s not just age related.
Chantel: All right, this next one is from Charlotte in Covington which I don’t know where Covington is but …
Lindsey Berkson: Is that in the UK?
Chantel: I have no idea. I am not good at geography. This says, foods and everything I see in our source is loaded with sugar which seems like it will do more harm than good to my gut. Something I’m considering … I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I missed the first part of the question. It says in one of your older podcast, you talked about drinking Kombucha and Kefir for my gut. I live in a small town that doesn’t have any health food stores like whole foods and everything I see in our stores is loaded with sugar which seems like it will do more harm than good to my gut. Something I’m considering is making my own. First, can you explain the difference in the two and the process of making them.
Chantel: If you haven’t made it before, can you recommend any brands that I can buy online. She’s talking about Kombucha and Kefir.
Lindsey Berkson: Right, you can get anything online these days. You can get anything shipped to you. There’s no reason, it doesn’t matter where you live, you could be in indigenous part of Australia, doing dream time with the aboriginals and get stuff shipped to you by Amazon.
Chantel: It’s so true.
Lindsey Berkson: We live in a phenomenal time, kings and queens didn’t live like we do yet we have so much depression and sadness and anxiety and trigger happy anger. It’s just sad that that state is happening. I’ve never made Kombucha. I love Kombucha but I don’t like that it has so much sugar in it. One of the things … I’m a hormone expert. Sugar makes estrogen act more nasty than nice. Every hormone can have two sides. It could be good, it could be bad. Sugar turns estrogen on to be more bad. You can have it once in a while as a treat but to have it every day, even into something that’s giving you fermentation that’s supposed to be helpful, I’m not a big fan of that.
Lindsey Berkson: Just in the same way like bone broth. Bone broth is so great. It has all these great things from the marrow of the bone and every one knows, it’s so great. Well, there was a study where they took organic chickens and measured the tap water that they … before the chickens were boiled, the bones for three hours and then measured the broth afterward and it was filled with heavy metals because bones sequester heavy metals and those are all estrogen disruptors. There’s a positive and a negative for every single food and based on your history, your health, what you’re battling, what you’re not, you have to look at those things so if you don’t have any issue with sugars then maybe you could have kombucha a few times a week but I don’t know anything about making it.
Lindsey Berkson: Kefir is just a beautiful way to get healthy microbes in that help repopulate … keep your gut healthy but probiotics don’t drive the diversity of your microbiome. They don’t change. If you take a Probiotic Lactobacillus plantarus, you don’t suddenly get really Lactobacillus plantarus in your gut. They just help your gut … there’s a lot of debate on this at the Gastroenterology Symposium where I teach at. We taught for a long time that probiotics, you could repopulate the gut and it turns out that’s not really the case. It’s only food that does that and fermented food that does that. I am a big fan of fermented food. I make my own sunflower seed kefir a lot.
Lindsey Berkson: I buy the Bodycology Sunflower, the starter and whole foods and I just put it in the microwave for a tiny little bit to get it a little bit warm and I put in the kefir and I use stevia instead of sugar and I make this most delicious silky sunflower seed kefir. Food is medicine and I’ve been in this in so many years and I’ve gardened and I bake and I cook and I have recipes and I really like to be actively involved in the food choices and wisdom that my patients have so I love these questions but the one thing I’ve never made is Kombucha.
Chantel: Awesome. Well, thank you so much for being on today’s show and you were absolutely amazing and I suggest to everyone go to drlindseyberkson.com. She’s got some great things on there. If you go to her products. She’s got her podcast, she’s got a blog. Absolutely amazing and I’m going to order the Healthy Digestion The Natural Way, today, because …
Lindsey Berkson: It has a print but you can still get it, use online. I’m not getting any of that money because I took it out of print because I thought my next book was coming out sooner but it’s not out yet. That book has sold for several decades. It’s the first mind body gut nutrition book and it’s got a lot of great information in it.
Chantel: Yeah. I’m just so big on this idea of your gut and your digestion. I think that’s where … just everything happens and that’s where …
Lindsey Berkson: Your mother should.
Chantel: It is, that’s a great way to put it so …
Lindsey Berkson: Just one other thing guys, if you don’t mind me saying.
Lindsey Berkson: I’m at the age where a lot of my dear colleagues and friends are dying. I don’t know, you never how long you have. I’ve been in practice almost 50 years, almost half a century. I’m starting a membership where people can hang out with me and just chat and have a lot of Q and A, just to pass the information forward. If you just sign up for my email list, you’ll find out what’s coming down the pike. Functional medicine is coming, I was just invited to speak this summer, Memorial Houston is the number one regular hospital in Texas, the sister hospital to Cornell’s Hospital and they’re putting on a huge symposium for their surgeons, their internist, their nurses called Functional Medicine is Coming.
Lindsey Berkson: They’ve invited five top medical doctors and myself, to expose the whole hospital staff to this concept that the gut is the mothership and how would we treat things different than they would. This is coming and shows like yours help get this out there so the people ask of this and I so appreciate what you’re doing. You’re one of the influencers, you are.
Chantel: Thank you. Thank you.
Lindsey Berkson: Thank you.
Chantel: Well, I’m excited about your flax muffins as well. Go to her website and definitely go right on there and get that recipe. I’m going to try it and see they turn out.
Lindsey Berkson: Would you let me know how you like it?
Chantel: Yes, absolutely and I’m going to run out right now and go get a bunch of pomegranate.
Lindsey Berkson: I actually have this recipe for Macademia Nut Pudding. Macademia Nuts is the only food that are high in Omega 7 fatty acid that tamp … not only reduce inflammation but they literally tamp down the genes. It’s a food that epigenetically modulates your inflammatory genes in a good way. I have a recipe for this Mac Pudding that uses a frosting on the flax seed muffins if you want to. It’s like wine …
Chantel: When you’re on your site, where do you go to get those recipes, what do you click on?
Lindsey Berkson: You click on sign up for the email list and it’s the opt-in, it’s the gift that you get for signing up for the email list.
Chantel: Got you, perfect. That sounds great. Well, thanks so much again for being here and if you have a question that you want to answered, go to [email protected] We’ll see you next time. Bye-bye, gang.