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The Doctor's Farmacy with Mark Hyman, M.D.

How To Balance Women's Hormones With Lifestyle And Diet

Mon Nov 27 2023
hormonal healthwomen's healthhormone therapylifestyle changescomprehensive testingmetabolic health


The episode explores the importance of hormonal health for women at all stages of life. It discusses the challenges faced by women due to hormonal imbalances and offers insights on addressing these issues through lifestyle changes, hormone therapy, and comprehensive testing. The episode emphasizes the need for a personalized approach to hormonal balance and highlights the role of factors like stress, diet, and environmental toxins. Additionally, it provides valuable information on continuous glucose monitoring for better metabolic health.


Hormonal imbalances can cause various symptoms such as irregular periods, PMS, and postmenopausal symptoms.

Mainstream medicine often treats hormonal imbalances with medications like Prozac, which is not a long-term solution.

Achieving metabolic health is crucial for overall well-being and hormone balance.

Stress, both toxic stress and changes in life circumstances, can also impact hormones.

Continuous glucose monitoring allows individuals to track their blood sugar levels in real time and personalize their dietary choices for better hormone balance.

Certain foods can cause significant spikes in glucose levels, even if they are considered healthy options. Adjusting the food plan based on glucose monitoring can improve metabolic health.


  1. Understanding Hormonal Health
  2. Addressing Hormonal Imbalances
  3. Effective Approaches for Hormonal Balance
  4. Comprehensive Hormonal Testing
  5. Balancing Hormones Through Lifestyle Changes
  6. Insights on Hormonal Health
  7. Personalized Approach to Hormonal Balance

Understanding Hormonal Health

00:00 - 06:46

  • The world is filled with physical, emotional, and chemical stressors that disrupt hormones and contribute to hormonal problems.
  • Functional medicine doctors need accurate data to identify and address the root cause of their patients' health issues, which often requires ordering multiple lab tests.
  • RUPA Health offers a solution by providing a single portal to order labs from over 35 different lab companies, offering over 3,000 tests for free.
  • Magnesium deficiency is common in Americans due to depleted soils, and it plays a crucial role in various bodily functions. Bioptimizers' magnesium breakthrough formula contains seven different forms of magnesium and is highly recommended.
  • Hormonal health is important for women at all stages of life. Collaborating with a practitioner can help create a personalized hormonal plan considering lifestyle factors and stage of life.
  • Dr. Mindy Pels discusses testing hormone levels and the impact of fasting on hormones.
  • Women's hormones are more sensitive, leading to difficult symptoms that can be managed through various approaches discussed by Dr. Hyman.
  • Dr. Sarah Gottfried shares insights on foods that can help balance hormones.
  • Hormone illiteracy is a significant challenge for both men and women, as hormones regulate various aspects of our bodies. Lack of knowledge about how to live in harmony with hormonal fluctuations contributes to women's health issues.
  • Functional medicine offers non-drug approaches to impact hormones positively and transform women's lives by addressing painful periods, PMS, infertility, menopausal symptoms, sexual dysfunction, weight changes, etc.
  • There is a lack of knowledge among women and doctors regarding hormone cycles and fluctuations throughout the menstrual cycle.

Addressing Hormonal Imbalances

06:18 - 13:45

  • Women face two major issues: illiteracy about their hormones and an evolutionary mismatch with their hormones due to increased physical, emotional, and chemical stressors.
  • Men also experience hormonal imbalances, often due to poor metabolic health.
  • Women have multiple hormones (testosterone, progesterone, and estrogen) produced in different organs, requiring a tailored approach to address hormone-related issues.
  • One-size-fits-all healthcare fails to consider the impact of the menstrual cycle on women's health.
  • Society accepts women suffering from hormonal imbalances during menopause, but it is unnecessary.
  • Different hormones have different responses to lifestyle factors such as cortisol levels or exercise, necessitating a personalized approach for hormonal balance.
  • Factors like stress, diet (sugar/alcohol), toxins, and sedentary lifestyles affect women's hormonal balance but can be managed through lifestyle changes.
  • Lifestyle changes should be prioritized before considering hormone therapy or medication for hormonal dysfunction.
  • As hormones decline around age 40, significant lifestyle changes are necessary. Fasting, cycling carbohydrate intake, repairing the microbiome, detoxing beauty products, and practicing mindfulness are recommended steps for women over 40.
  • Hormone therapy or bioidenticals may be considered if lifestyle changes do not sufficiently correct hormonal imbalances. However, fixing one's lifestyle remains crucial regardless.

Effective Approaches for Hormonal Balance

13:17 - 19:57

  • Hormone replacement and bioidenticals can be effective tools for addressing hormonal disorders, but they should be combined with lifestyle changes.
  • The production, breakdown, and absorption of hormones are all important factors to consider when using hormone therapy.
  • It's crucial to understand where you are in your hormonal journey and track your cycle or use a urinary hormone test.
  • Different hormones have different effects on the body, such as progesterone causing hunger and estrogen increasing sociability.
  • Implementing a five-step program that includes fasting, varying food intake, improving the microbiome, detoxing, and slowing down can help balance hormones.
  • Supplementing or exploring other hormone therapies may be necessary after implementing lifestyle changes.
  • Women should support each other in their health journeys by forming communities and sharing stories.

Comprehensive Hormonal Testing

19:44 - 26:15

  • The Dutch test is a comprehensive test that can show patterns and methylation pathways in the body, helping to determine detox efficiency and hormonal function.
  • Women experience more hormonal chaos than men due to factors such as menstrual cycles, environmental toxins, stress, alcohol, dietary changes, lack of exercise, and smoking.
  • Hormonal disorders in women can cause symptoms like PMS, fibroids, PCOS, infertility, menopausal symptoms, and menstrual cramps.
  • Understanding hormone levels and their impact is crucial for addressing these issues.
  • Estrogen dominance is a common condition caused by producing too much estrogen relative to progesterone. Factors like sugar/starch consumption, fat deposition, alcohol intake, lack of exercise, unhealthy gut bacteria/fiber deficiency, stress, and environmental toxins can contribute to high estrogen levels.
  • Lifestyle choices greatly influence hormone levels in women.
  • Knowing hormone numbers helps identify imbalances and related symptoms such as heavy bleeding or clots.
  • LH/FSH ratio can indicate PCOS (a cause of infertility) when LH is high and FSH is low.
  • Prolactin levels should be monitored as it can have broad health effects when influenced by factors like pituitary tumors.
  • IGF-1 and Anti-Mullerian Hormone are important tests for fertility assessment in women.
  • Testosterone levels should be checked in women experiencing low libido or sexual function issues. Treatment options include lifestyle changes or hormonal therapy.

Balancing Hormones Through Lifestyle Changes

31:42 - 38:38

  • Hormonal imbalances can be effectively addressed through lifestyle changes, supplements, and improving the microbiome.
  • Consuming vegetables from the brassica family like broccoli, collards, kale, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts can help regulate estrogen metabolism and reduce the risk of carcinogenic estrogen.
  • Shifting towards a diet rich in good fats and low in starchy carbs can improve insulin and blood sugar levels.
  • Symptoms experienced by women after 40, such as difficulty sleeping, night sweats, and hot flashes, may indicate more serious issues like endothelial dysfunction and bone loss.
  • Balancing metabolic health along with sex hormones is crucial for women's well-being.
  • It is not normal for women to experience hormonal dysfunctions like PMS or other hormonal issues. The root causes should be identified and addressed instead of normalizing these conditions.
  • Various hormone issues affect women, including cortisol related to toxic stress, thyroid imbalances (thyropause), estrogen/progesterone imbalances during reproductive years or postpartum period, and insulin resistance after 35 or 40.
  • Factors contributing to hormonal imbalances include stress, unrealistic expectations, over-functioning, trauma (more prevalent in women), changes in food quality/nutrition, and lack of education among physicians about these issues.
  • Functional medicine offers a comprehensive approach to understanding hormone imbalances by addressing root causes and modifying variables that impact hormones' regulation.
  • The book "Food and Women Food and Hormones" provides a toolkit for women to address hormone-related pain through targeted lifestyle changes.
  • Women tend to have an asymmetric response to stressors and food due to evolutionary biases related to fertility/pregnancy. Weight gain is more common than weight loss for women.

Insights on Hormonal Health

44:53 - 51:40

  • The speaker's struggle with weight and hormones inspired them to write books on the topic.
  • Hormonal imbalances can cause various symptoms such as irregular periods, PMS, and postmenopausal symptoms.
  • Mainstream medicine often treats hormonal imbalances with medications like Prozac, which is not a long-term solution.
  • Factors that drive hormonal imbalance include food choices, lifestyle factors, and exposure to environmental toxins.
  • Achieving metabolic health is crucial for overall well-being and hormone balance.
  • Stress, both toxic stress and changes in life circumstances, can also impact hormones.
  • Taking control of one's health is important instead of accepting dismissive explanations from doctors.
  • There is controversy surrounding soy foods, but moderate consumption of whole soy products like flax can be beneficial.
  • Processed and genetically modified foods are more likely to disrupt hormones than whole foods.
  • Cooking goitrogenic foods reduces their potential negative effects on thyroid function.
  • Doctors' advice regarding diet can sometimes be contradictory or based on limited evidence.
  • Blood sugar levels and glucose control have a significant impact on hormone balance. High insulin levels can lead to estrogen dominance in men.
  • Using continuous glucose monitors can provide valuable insights into how different foods affect blood sugar levels and help personalize dietary choices for better hormone balance.

Personalized Approach to Hormonal Balance

51:11 - 55:28

  • Continuous glucose monitoring is a new and advanced form of personalized medicine that allows individuals to track their blood sugar levels in real time.
  • The speaker, who is an advisor to Level, a company specializing in continuous glucose monitoring, found that certain foods were causing significant spikes in their glucose levels, even though they were considered healthy options such as beans, chickpeas, legumes, sweet potatoes, apples, grapes, and peaches.
  • To improve metabolic health and avoid these spikes, the speaker had to adjust their food plan and eliminate the foods that were causing high glucose levels.
  • While there is evidence supporting a 100% plant-based diet for metabolic health, the speaker found it wasn't the best fit for them personally as they experienced muscle loss and constant hunger. Instead, they opted for a ketogenic diet which resulted in stable blood sugar levels and improved mood.
  • The speaker recommends continuous glucose monitoring or using a $25 glucose meter to monitor glucose levels even without a continuous monitor.