Michele Chevalley Hedge, nutritionist, health writer, presenter and author of The Australian Healthy Hormone Diet joins me to talk hormones, polycystic ovarian syndrome, the thyroid, and stress. But what are hormones? What do they do? How do we know when they’re out of balance, and most importantly what can we do about it? It has been said that 95% of the population is affected at some point in their life from some type of hormonal imbalance. Tune in as we discuss and also leave you with a number of simple tips.
Dr. Ron Ehrlich: Hello and welcome to Unstress. I’m Dr. Ron Ehrlich. Now, you will have understood, whatever the subject we cover in this podcast, it’s ultimately about stress, and to build resilience to deal with those stresses. In my opinion, anything that upsets the balance of our body, the homeostasis if you like, is what I would define as the stress and that’s the five stressor model, emotional, environmental, postural, nutrition and yes, dental stress. And while things are getting more complicated and they may seem overwhelming, particularly when we start being bombarded by medical conditions of all sorts of descriptions, well while it appears that things are becoming more complicated, I actually believe the solutions are remarkably simple. So don’t confuse the complexity of our daily lives and what comes at us, with some very simple steps that you can take each and every day that are very doable, accessible, sustainable and cheap, which leads us to today’s topic, healthy hormones.
Firstly, what are they? What are hormones? What do they do? How do we know when they’re out of balance, and most importantly what can we do about it? Now, we’re going to get into some specifics, you can’t talk about stress without talking about cortisol, apparently the king of all hormones. With some positives, which help us get out of stressful situations and some negatives when you are chronically stressed, which clearly quite a few people are. Then, of course, there’s insulin. Now, if you’ve been following the podcast, you will have picked up a common theme that comes from almost all of our guests, whether we’re talking about cardiovascular health, cancer, diabetes, you name it, the lower your insulin levels the better. And then, of course, there’s another really important hormone called leptin, which we will cover.
Now, while we’re on the subject of insulin and leptin, we’ll also talk in this episode about PCOS, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. We will also talk about thyroid, a huge problem in our world. And not just underactive or overactive thyroids, but worryingly there is a significant increase in thyroid cancers. We’ll also cover serotonin, connected to moods and some really disturbing stats on mental health issues, testosterone, estrogen, yes, we’ll cover those two. So my guest today is nutritionist, health writer, presenter, Michele Chevalley Hedge. She’s just released a fabulous book, The Australian Healthy Hormone Diet, and it’s obviously the subject of today’s podcast. Now, Michele has worked in the corporate world at a very senior level, before qualifying as a nutritionist.
She’s got three teenage kids, a very busy husband, and apparently a not so bright dog, so she understands what busy means and she can really understand what people’s challenges are in a modern world. She loves to write and contributes to Body & Soul, Huffington Post, Mama Mia, Prevention, Wellbeing, Cosmo, MindFood and many others. She gives some great tips at the end of our chat and answers the question I love to ask every guest and that is, what’s the greatest … in your opinion what’s the greatest challenge people face in our modern world on their health journey through life? Oh, I think it’s interesting to hear what people have to say about that. I hope you enjoy my conversation with Michele Chevalley Hedge.
Hello, welcome, Michele.
Michele Chevalley Hedge: Hello Ron.
Dr. Ron Ehrlich: Michele, we talked about your book, we’re going to have links to it and all of that, but it’s about hormones and we know hormones are important, but I wonder if we could just go back to some real basics, what are they? What do they do?
Michele Chevalley Hedge: Yeah, thanks, Ron. I think it’s important for us just to go back to basics, because a lot of people will see the word hormone and they’ll think, “Oh dear, she’s talking about menopause or she’s talking about teenage acne.” But the reality is, we’re talking about these little chemical messengers that control vital functions in our bodies, that really … Well, of course, have to do with menopause and acne, but far beyond that, they have a function like blood sugar regulation, sleep, energy, mood, hunger. So for example, blood sugar regulation is often dependent on our cortisol levels. So cortisol is our stress hormone.
Dr. Ron Ehrlich: Yes, stress is a very favorite topic of this podcast.
Michele Chevalley Hedge: And so it should be.
Dr. Ron Ehrlich: Yeah. Now, how do we know when they’re out of balance? I mean you’ve mentioned all of those things, so I guess, our mood is out of balance, our energy, all of that. How do we know when they’re out of balance?
Michele Chevalley Hedge: Okay, so our hormones will come in and out of balance depending on our age, depending on our stress levels, depending on how much nutrient dense foods we consume, genetics will even affect our hormones and then indulging, like times we’ve just had over Christmas and January, where many of us have indulged on too much food or too much alcohol, even me who doesn’t live in an ivory tower, I think you know Ron. I share with people all the time that I’m the modern day nutritionist and believe that life is to be lived.
Dr. Ron Ehrlich: Yep.
Michele Chevalley Hedge: So when we indulge a little bit too much, that can also upset our hormonal balance. But it might not just be overindulging Ron, It could just be the stress overload also creating hormonal chaos, so like a new job or divorce or death. So the good news is, is that we can’t control external stresses and we cannot control genetics, but we can control what we eat. And if that’s a small part of creating healthy hormones, well we’re winning with our fork. So how do we know? How do we know when our hormones are unbalanced?
It’s that sneaky feeling of something isn’t quite right, because you’ve had eight hours sleep, but you’re completely exhausted or you’re constantly hungry and you’re thinking, “Well, wait a minute, I just ate an hour ago. Could there be something wrong with my insulin or could there be something wrong with my leptin, because why am I constantly hungry?” Or your blood sugar is shooting up and down affecting your energy or is all over the place, and that is a sign or symptom that you are having a hormonal imbalance. Tired but wired people, so people getting into bed at 10 o’clock at night going, “I know I need to sleep, I know I need eight hours,” but they’re completely tired but wired. Is it their cortisol? Is it their insulin? And how is that impacting their happy hormone, serotonin? People losing their libido, that’s a sign.
Dr. Ron Ehrlich: Yep, yep. Listen I’d love to … We’re going to go into a couple of specifics but just generally, I mean how common is this problem? I mean you’ve raised a whole range of issues, which I know pretty rife in the community, how many people? I mean that’s a big question, I know.
Michele Chevalley Hedge: Yeah, to find that number Ron, is enormous. I think everybody at some point, I would say 95% of the population is affected at some point in their life from some type of hormonal imbalance. We can’t avoid external stresses, our quality of food is becoming much more … And the importance of our quality of food is becoming much more in the limelight, with the likes of the World Health Organization or Deakin University and studies and showing evidence-based medicine. But at some point, most people experience some type of hormonal dysfunction but particularly Ron, for people that live, busy lives, perhaps have children or no children but jobs, careers, this book is about the normal, average Australian, who has a busy life, who doesn’t need perfection but just needs to go, “Okay, let me rebalance and recess and then take on some of these tools and techniques and incorporate them for the rest of my life because they’re easy.”
Dr. Ron Ehrlich: Well, I think probably talking about some specifics because you mentioned cortisol and of course none of these work in isolation, each effects the other. Let’s just talk about a couple of these and maybe people will be able to late because cortisol is one that is associated often with stress, how does that affect us when it’s out of balance?
Michele Chevalley Hedge: Yes, absolutely. So cortisol we call, the king you know of hormonal stress. So when it is in balance, fantastic, we love that, our body thrives. When cortisol is giving us enough fuel because what cortisol does is, it will send glucose into our system to allow us to have fuel for brain power, for energy. So when it’s in its right balance, we love cortisol, we use that as fuel for our system. When it’s out of balance Ron, when it’s out of balance because it has excess hidden sugars, hitting it constantly, the cortisone pumping and pumping. The adrenal glands pump, the cortisol pumps, the glucose pumps, and all of a sudden we end up with this extra glucose cascading around our bodies constantly, from a combination of a stress, just external stresses and hidden sugars and caffeine, or that combination just creates this glucose and then the cell goes, “I’m sorry, you have just been pushing me way too hard.”
And the slippery dip on the cell that allows insulin to come in and work properly says, “No, no, no, you’ve been abusing me, I’m going to get a little bit smaller.” And this is when you hear insulin resistance, pre-diabetes. So I like to create a picture in some people’s minds so that they can see, “Well, wait a minute. Okay, cortisol could actually be quite a good thing, but if I abuse it from hidden sugars, and I abuse it from too much caffeine,” which is often the three o’clock slump. So we’re reaching for extra caffeine, we’re reaching for those jelly snakes that we think are somewhat healthy but they’re loaded with sugar. And we just hitting our cortisol, when perhaps Ron, we should have really just eaten a really good lunch. And most people will eat a bird like lunch, and they’ll wonder why they’re starving and exhausted at three o’clock in the afternoon.
Dr. Ron Ehrlich: Yeah. Well, that combination of stress, sugars, caffeine must be sounding awfully familiar, to an awful lot of people.
Michele Chevalley Hedge: Oh, absolutely.
Dr. Ron Ehrlich: It’s a big one, isn’t it?
Michele Chevalley Hedge: Oh, totally Ron. And I love being able to talk about this from not an ivory tower. I worked in the corporate workspace for many, many years. I had three small children, a dumb dog, a 100 loads of laundry, I worked for an international IT company, I completely and totally understand that cascade of cortisol overload.
Dr. Ron Ehrlich: You were out there doing field work, some research before you came up with identifying the problems before you come up with solutions.
Michele Chevalley Hedge: Correct, correct.
Dr. Ron Ehrlich: Now, we also hear … I mean diabetes, we’re told big epidemic, obesity big epidemic and of course you mentioned insulin. And insulin is a hormone and it’s a big one. Tell us a bit about what insulin does and also what happens when it goes out of balance.
Michele Chevalley Hedge: Yeah sure. So the hormone of insulin, we call the fat storage hormone. So when our insulin becomes dysfunctional or in chaos we often see, they show up to us as patients that often have really, really hard time losing weight. They actually end up eating like a bird, they still can’t shift weight. And they’re often very, very hungry and this is heartbreaking when you see it in teenagers Ron. So insulin … People often think, “Okay, pre-diabetes, diabetes, metabolic syndrome,” and they often think that this is just an epidemic of people that are overweight or obese, but this is not the case Ron.
You would have heard me talk about this at my book launch the other night. We have a world full of hidden sugars, they’re disguised with healthy names. Sometimes they can even be disguised as gluten-free healthy foods, but when you look at the packaging and you say, “Woof, this is loaded with hidden sugars.” Or you look at some healthy muesli, boom, loaded with hidden sugars. So what we often are seeing, as much as we’re seeing people that are overweight and obese Ron, we’re seeing what I call the slender ruster.
Dr. Ron Ehrlich: I heard you use that term. I love that term. Tell us about it.
Michele Chevalley Hedge: So that’s the slim person that is man or female, that is the kind of person I’ve always been jealous of, they eat constantly and they never gain weight. So these people are constantly eating what I call twig kind of foods. They’re eating simple carbs, they’re not eating smart carbs. They’re constantly eating these so-called healthy muesli bars, so-called healthy smoothies, they’re loaded with sugar, but they have a metabolism of a racehorse. And then what happens Ron, is this … Let me give you a typical example of what happens with insulin going haywire in a slim person. These people are able to get away with eating habits like this, and then they might happen to go on a scale that does bio-impedance or their doctor happens to might measure their visceral fat. Now, visceral fat is not the kind of fat that we see, but it’s the fat that’s on the inside that is carrying a lot of inflammation and it’s a big risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
So we have a lot of slim men getting on a bio-impedance scale, and I will say to them, “You’ve got quite a high visceral fat rating. Is there cardiovascular disease in your family?” We’ll also look immediately at their insulin levels. So that kind, we see with men quite often, but lots and lots and lots of young women, who are these slender rusters Ron. And this, you hear me go crazy on this topic. So we have all these young women, who are avoiding getting pregnant. They’re climbing the corporate ladder, they’re doing their education, they’re doing all the right things, and then they get into their 30s and they start to look at their fertility they start thinking about babies. So they come off the pill and they don’t get their periods or their periods are dysfunctional and they go to the doctor and they say to the doctor, “What’s going on? I realize there is a time lag often between going off the pill and getting my period right, but she it’s been a year now.”
So the doctor will say well, “Let’s order some blood pathology.” And the doctor looks at the blood pathology and goes, “Wow for such a slim person, this is unbelievable. Your insulin is skyrocketed and actually, wait a minute while I’m looking at this, your testosterone is quite high.” And immediately that will indicate to a GP, “We better look to see if this woman has a bit of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome going on.” Ron, this is a situation with so many young women, who are then sent off to IVF clinics or sent off to endocrinologists and rightly so, of course I love modern medicine, work with doctors every single day, but here’s the thing about Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, it is not always a disease pathology of the ovaries. It’s quite often just a dysfunction of insulin. And if we can get someone back on track with diet, and get them off lots of the hidden sugars, and we regulate their blood sugar, and regulate their insulin they can say goodbye to Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. There is the medical board, the Australian and the American Medical Board there’s talk about renaming Polycystic Ovary Syndrome to Metabolic Reproductive Syndrome, to really call it for what it is.
Dr. Ron Ehrlich: I heard you say that the other night and I just thought, “Wow, that is big. That is big,” because this is actually affecting … well, it affects quite a sizable population of women in their years of fertility, isn’t it? In their late teens, 20s, 30s and 40s. How common is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome/Metabolic Reproductive Syndrome? How common is that?
Michele Chevalley Hedge: It’s very common Ron. I will be in an audience once a week speaking and I will see women tear up and find me after and say, “Michele, I’m in my 40s now, that was me. How come I didn’t know this?” And the good news Ron is that this information is getting out and is becoming more addressed by GPs who are really embracing the world of nutrition and understanding the world of hidden sugars and understanding the importance of what I use the phrase, crowding in so much good fat, crowding in so much good protein, that your body goes, “I don’t need that junk food of the past.” You know how excited I get about talking about this, there’s this amazing shift happening and even some of our clients, who you wouldn’t think would be our clients, who are big food manufacturers coming to me and saying, “Michele, can you help us make some small shifts.” And I go, “You bet you.” A small shift is better than a no shift.
Dr. Ron Ehrlich: Because, I mean this is like the perfect storm. Isn’t it? We have elevated cortisol levels, we’ve got a diet that pushes our insulin level up anyway even if cortisol isn’t doing it for us and I guess we come back to where we’ve been at in the last 30 or 40 years. I mean the food pyramid has kind of set us up a bit there, hasn’t it?
Michele Chevalley Hedge: It really has. And that’s the other thing, Ron. That is shifting as well and again I always try to stay really upbeat about this because, well I’m tapped in to so many amazing researchers and whilst I have a clinical practice Ron, and see hundreds of patients a week, we have a beautiful team, I love evidence based research. And more and more money is being poured into this sector for preventative wellness. It’s impossible Ron, for the GPs and the oncologists and the doctors of the world to keep up with the alarming rates of autoimmune conditions of digestive issues. The alarming rate that never happened when our parents were younger, we say to them, “We’re there one out of eight women that had breast cancer when you were my age mom?” And most parents would say, “No darling, what is going on in your world?”
Dr. Ron Ehrlich: Indeed, what is going on? Well, we hear a lot about insulin but there are other hormones, there’s another hormone leptin, which is equally if not … Well, let’s not grade them, but it’s important as well, tell our listener a little bit about leptin. They may not have heard of it.
Michele Chevalley Hedge: Yes, yes. Well, leptin is the quiet little hormone that a lot of research is going into at the moment and I believe that will really hear a lot more about leptin over the next 12 to 24 months because, researchers, endocrinologists, neurologists around the world have their eye on it. I call it the Kate Middleton of hormones because everybody’s looking at it right now. Here’s what we know about leptin to be true, leptin sends a signal to our brain to say, “Hey, I’ve had enough. I’m satiated, I’m full.” But there are factors within our nutrition and within our lifestyle that affect leptin. So the same way we’ve heard about people becoming insulin resistant, we might be hearing about people becoming leptin resistance. So again, there’s a lot to be talked about, and a lot to be learned about this hormone, but what we know is that we like leptin and we want our leptin signal to signal our brain to go, “I really feel satiated.”
And that happens. We see leptin becoming unbalanced when people have a really, really high fructose diet when we look at some of the studies around that. We also know that the lack of sleep Ron really will affect leptin as well. So when we say, “Okay, why are people having lack of sleep?” Well, there could be lots of reasons, right? But what we don’t want to be affecting sleep is hidden sugars, people having two sugary yogurts before they go to bed thinking they’re doing the right thing but meanwhile each yogurt is packed with seven, eight, nine teaspoons of hidden sugars. So we’ve got these people that are tired but wired, as you rightly said Ron in the beginning of this interview. Many hormones have an impact or a cascading effect on the next hormone. So no wonder we have a world of people that are tired but wired. Their energy is exhausted, they have belly fat when some of the times they’re eating like a bird. Their energy, their vibrancy, their brain fog. These kind of things were not happening 50 years ago, 60 years ago.
Dr. Ron Ehrlich: The whole subject of sleep is one we’ve covered a lot of. And there’s another hormone that comes to mind, they’re called ghrelin. Do you want to mention something about ghrelin? We’re getting through the list here. It’s terrific Michele.
Michele Chevalley Hedge: Yes. Well, all of these things I think are really going to become mainstream Ron. I think The Healthy Hormone Diet book, my book is one of the first in Australia to talk about this, but it certainly won’t be the last, because we need to look a little bit deeper on what is happening with our hormones to go, “Oh, well wait a minute, so maybe this is my leptin, maybe it is ghrelin, maybe one out of four women we need to know about are suffering a sub-clinical thyroid condition.” Ron, these women are turning up at their GPs, they feel like they’re treading water and I am telling you, they are some of the biggest brains I know in Australia. They are leaders of the banking industry, they are leaders of the financial sector, they’re rocking up to their doctor and they’re saying to their doctor, “Could I be in early menopause? Do I have iron deficiency or do I just have depression?”
And when they ask for the doctor to look at their TS age, which is their thyroid stimulating or their thyroid antibodies, a lot of the GPs are going, “Well, okay maybe you’re not in full-blown Hashimoto’s but your thyroid is very sluggish.” And that’s where you know nutrition can just go boom great, let us hand hold you, let’s do the rebalance. Let’s come off some gluten that could be aggravating that thyroid, let’s move to low sugar, which again causes inflammation, let’s feed you good fats, let’s get your insulin balanced, and boom all of a sudden these people, are we going to cure disease Ron with our practice and with what we’re doing? No, but are we going to gain people back their productivity, their vitality, their shine, their libido, their energy? Absolutely. Absolutely.
Dr. Ron Ehrlich: Yeah. I’m surprised also in my practice when we take medical histories about how many people have thyroid issues, and actually also surprised at the incidence of thyroid cancer that’s going up in our community, that’s scary too.
Michele Chevalley Hedge: It’s extraordinary Ron, absolutely extraordinary. I’ve actually had … Just the funny side note. I’ve actually had an artist who does installations around the world, famous artists come to me and ask me, what is going on with thyroid health and autoimmune conditions? And is there a message, is there a way she can form an art installation that kind of sends the warning to say, “Hey, beware of these certain thyroid disrupters.” And I said, “Let’s do it.” I said, because this message should not just be for health-minded people like you and I, and the people that are listening Ron, this message needs to get out to everyone.
Dr. Ron Ehrlich: Yeah, I know. I know it’s another big one, isn’t it? Now, another big issue of course is mental health. And a lot of these antidepressants focusing on serotonin. Can you tell us a bit more about serotonin, what its function is, why it’s important to us, what happens when it goes out of balance?
Michele Chevalley Hedge: You can see, I get so excited talking about everything, Ron.
Dr. Ron Ehrlich: I do. I love it.
Michele Chevalley Hedge: But I get most excited … most excited talking about serotonin because I think what is happening with anxiety, depression and mood disorders is alarming. Ron, I think you know I speak in a school once a week, I do it from love, I do it for passion. Someday, I’m going to do all my speaking for free. And what we see happening with the young people and what is happening in Australia, the lucky country, with one out of six people suffering from anxiety, depression, and mood disorder. When we look at the statistics Ron, of young women between the ages of 16 and 24, that number is one out of four. That is crazy because we know not only is that person suffering, but the whole entire family is suffering Ron, the whole entire community that they work with is also suffering because when we see somebody suffer, we’re in pain. We want to help them.
So here’s the thing about serotonin. Serotonin is actually a neurotransmitter, but a lot of the medical community refers to it as the happy hormone. So why I included it in our book because there isn’t a lot of research going on with gut health and serotonin. So why is that? Well, what we know to be true is 75-95% of our serotonin is created in our gut. So years ago we used to say, “Oh, it’s serotonin,” or we’d say depression or anxiety. And a lot of people would point to the brain and think that it was being created in the brain. Now, what we know to be true it’s being created in the gut.
So does it not make sense Ron, if we clean up our gut function and start feeding it clean healthy food, we are creating an environment where we can improve serotonin. So here’s the big kicker Ron, this is what I love, Deakin University did the first leading edge study on what’s called the SMILES trial. And it is the gold standard, I’m talking about depression and nutrients. And I just think, “Wow, this is amazing that we could be winning with our fork.” Ron, even if it means one percent. It’s one percent more than what we had.
Dr. Ron Ehrlich: I know the gut is now referred to as the second brain. And the whole idea of mood and food is … We know how moods are connected, but the question is, are we feeding our friends or our foes because the microbiome is a big part of that whole story, isn’t it?
Michele Chevalley Hedge: For sure and I tell you what just wreaks absolute havoc on it, so a lot of listeners would know the term IBS. So we’ve got again, a world epidemic of IBS, where these poor people are so suffering. They’re at their desks or they’re there doing whatever, and all of a sudden boom diarrhea hits so bad that there’s such urgency or bloating or gas or wind. You don’t feel productive, you don’t feel sexy, you don’t feel full of energy when you’re suffering from IBS. You go to the GP. The GP, sends you off to a gastroenterologist. Gastroenterologist, we love them. They do all the right things they look for any big pathology, there’s no big pathology, they end up giving the person the diagnosis of IBS. The person kind of walks out goes, “Well, what the heck am I going to do with this?” What we know as nutritionists is, we know that sugar just creates all this mass of what we call gut dysbiosis or candida in the gut.
This is when these poor people get all these wicked IBS symptoms you know they wake up in the morning with a flat tummy and by 12 o’clock they get puffy tummy and they’re thinking, “What the heck?” And they feel miserable and they go, “Damn, this IBS.” And they haven’t really looked at, are you consuming a lot of hidden sugars? What do you need to do to crowd out all those sugar cravings and throw yourself up, so that you go, “Wow, I feel so satiated and so good but I’m not craving that sugar? I don’t need that stuff anymore.” So that’s really the essence of the 28-day plan Ron, is to get the people to go, “I’m not a deprivation here, man this is good. I actually have not even so much food. I’m feeling really good and I’m not even thinking about those crappy carbs that I used to be eating.”
Dr. Ron Ehrlich: Well, we’re going to get some of those suggestions in a moment. I just wanted to ask you about a couple of others, which is just the sex hormones, testosterone or estrogen, progesterone. Tell us a little bit about those and this is relevant in both men and women obviously. There’s a balance to be had here.
Michele Chevalley Hedge: For sure, for sure. It was really important Ron for me in our book, that we have two case studies of the average Aussie guy. And just busy and working hard, and one of them John talks about how he wanted to sort of be a role model for his sons and he was just like getting that dad bod. And I like that expression, I’d never heard it before. And he said, “Michele, don’t you know the question dad board?” He said, “Look my tummy is getting huge and I’m getting these man boobs and I’ve got three teenage sons and I need to get on top of it before it gets on top of me.” I love that kind of stuff. So here’s the thing Ron, a diet that is full of processed foods, hidden sugars, not nutrient dense, okay, we can really upset our insulin levels and those insulin levels can really upset our testosterone levels.
And so testosterone for a man when it goes sideways, all of a sudden we can have things like a lower libido, a lack of energy, a lack of strength. All of a sudden these men are at the gym thinking, “Well, wait a minute, what’s happened to my muscle mass? That’s going down. Oh, I noticed that my libido isn’t firing anymore.” So all of these things, all of our nutrient dense foods help build all of that testosterone. So for a man, of course, we think, men testosterone but equally, it’s equally important for women for that testosterone not to go sideways. And when we see it go sideways in women Ron, is when their insulin levels cascade really, really high and that affects their testosterone in a negative way and that’s when we see Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. So really important to be keeping that in check. Now estrogen, we think of this as a female hormone, which it is.
Estrogen is incredibly protective for female brains, it’s what we talk about for fertility, we love beautiful estrogens and women have all sorts of estrogens and we want to keep this in a beautiful balance and we want to keep our livers really clean Ron, because our liver is our natural detoxify, we don’t need supplements and we don’t need extra things if our liver is in good shape and our liver is going, “Hey, I used up this estrogen. I’ve made this woman … I’ve done everything I’m meant to be doing like a vitality, energy, cognitively protective, skin protective, sexually enhancing. All these great things. And then the body goes, “Okay great, used it up now let’s dump it out because we do not need extra estrogen in the body.” We hear these terms, estrogen excess, estrogen dominance, they’re really, really scary terms Ron, really scary.
Dr. Ron Ehrlich: I mean and then … We’re not even touching on some of the endocrine disruptors that have influence on all of those hormones as well. Look, there’s so much more we could talk about. I wanted to ask you just as we finish up, what are two, three, four, five things that … A couple of tips for our listeners to get going on this, apart from of course reading your book, which we’ll have links to. You’ve touched on some of course but just let’s listed out for us.
Michele Chevalley Hedge: Sure. Of course, I love the plan that we laid out in the book, that’s fine. But the essence of the plan Ron is really going very low sugar, there’s fruit included but we go low sugar. What we want to do is just reset, get determined and say, “Okay, I’m going to give my body a break for a little while.” So one, get determined and think about all these crazy alarming things that are going on around us. And Ron, we’ve got one short life so let’s get determined and must be as vibrant as we can. So set yourself a timeframe, get determined then what I want you to do is I want you to go low sugar for a while I want you to have even only low sugar fruits for a while. And in the process of that Ron, I’d like people to go gluten-free. Now, this is not because I discriminate against gluten. I think you know I have an Italian mother and a French father, I grew up on breadsticks.
What I want people to start to do Ron, is I want them to connect their own dots. I want them to go gluten-free or wheat-free for a week maybe two. I want them to see how that affects their energy level. How it affects the inflammation in their body, how it affects their sleep. It is unbelievable Ron, the results people will get from either coming off gluten or coming off wheat. Now, that is not my hope. My hope is that people come off those things and say, “Hey Michele, no reaction whatsoever, still completely the same.” Fantastic. But what I like people to do Ron, is go, “Wow, unless that nutritionist pushed me and told me to try this, I would never have been able to see my own journey on this.” I also want people to go low dairy if not no dairy. Again, do not discriminate against the milk whatsoever, love organic milk, love A2 milk.
What I like people to see is, “Was that the very thing that was causing me heartburn? Was that the very thing that was causing me constipation? Was that the very thing that was making my face bloated? This is really wasn’t fat, but how come all of a sudden I look like I’ve been de-puffed?” So those are the three things that I primarily want people to try to do over a week or two weeks. Of course, we do it for 28 days in my book, but my main purpose Ron is for people to suddenly go, “Wow, I really I’m understanding how my body works.” But also I don’t want them to do any kind of deprivation. Fill your world with such yummy clean food and by that I mean use good oils, use lots of spice, make it like a party in your mouth so that you don’t feel like you’re in deprivation, because that’s when sustainability happens, that’s when habits happen.
Dr. Ron Ehrlich: That’s great. Look I think that the whole idea of benchmarking yourself is a really important concept. Look, the last thing I want to ask you before we leave, and this is been fantastic I really appreciate it. And I ask this of all my guests, what do you think the greatest challenge is for people in our modern world, on their health journey through life what do you think the biggest challenge is Michele?
Michele Chevalley Hedge: Oh, I absolutely know to be sure who is for myself, as well as what I see in patient after patient and I do believe you know the same thing. We can get our nutrition right, we can get our sleep right and we can get our exercise right, what we need to get right Ron, is our stress. And if our sleep and our nutrition is impacting that, we really need to control that. We can do that, but we really need to get our stress levels right. I think that is the biggest modern day epidemic that is challenging our health on every level.
Michele Chevalley Hedge: Well, it’s true. I can only say the truth.
Dr. Ron Ehrlich: It is true. It is true. Michele, thank you so much, I’ve just … I’ve got so much from today, our conversation, we’re going to have links of course. Thank you for joining me.
Michele Chevalley Hedge: Thank you so much for having me, Ron. I look forward to our paths crossing lots.
Dr. Ron Ehrlich: Well, so much … We covered so much territory. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome incidentally is a surprisingly common condition affecting up to 20% of women of reproductive age. Now, it clearly causes a lot of distress and significant health costs. Some estimates put it around 400 million dollars a year in Australia alone. And IBS, well in case you that, that’s irritable bowel syndrome. And that affects around one in five Australians sometime. Those symptoms include abdominal pain, bloating, alternating diarrhea and constipation, so it’s also a big issue for many people.
Anyway, the book is called, The Australian Healthy Hormone Diet: A Full Week Reset With Recipes and Eating Plans to Help Reduce Weight, Increase Energy and Improve Mood. It’s actually co-authored by the wonderful and prolific author Jen Fleming. It’s a beautiful book both in content and appearance. Now, we’ll have links to the book and Michele’s website on our own website page. Now, I love getting feedback and suggestions, and to be honest I’m trying to build resilience here as a podcast presenter, but feedback is good, suggestions are good. So hop on the Facebook page or drop me a line, all communications are most welcome. So until next week, this is Dr. Ron Ehrlich, be well.
This podcast provides general information and discussion about medicine, health, and related subject. The content is not intended and should not be construed as medical advice or as a substitute for care by a qualified medical practitioner. If you or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately qualified medical practitioner. Guests who speak in this podcast express their own opinions, experiences, and conclusions.