Dr. Sara Gottfried knows how hormonal imbalances can wreak havoc on your health. The 52-year-old Berkeley, California-based board-certified gynecologist remembers waking up one morning more than 15 years ago feeling physically and mentally depleted.
At the time, Gottfried was seeing up to 30 patients a day. She had put on weight and bemoaned the fact that no matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t seem to lose the extra pounds. A visit to her own doctor proved frustrating when he recommended Gottfried eat less, exercise more and consider taking antidepressants.
“My problem wasn’t depression,” she says. “I was stressed and felt the root cause might be hormonal.”
She was right. A series of blood tests showed Gottfried’s cortisol, estrogen and thyroid levels were out of whack. As a result, she started paying attention to her hormone levels and taking steps to regulate them naturally. Within several months, Gottfried began feeling more energetic and sleeping better, and she reclaimed her life.
A three-time New York Times best-selling author of “The Hormone Cure” (Scribner, 2014), “The Hormone Reset Diet” (HarperOne, 2016) and “Younger” (HarperOne, 2016), Gottfried now works to help others balance their hormones. She teaches natural hormone balancing in her novel online programs (saragottfriedmd.com) so that women can lose weight, detoxify and slow down aging. Her latest book, “Brain Body Diet” (HarperOne, 2019), offers a detailed plan addressing the symptoms of an imbalanced brain and body, and she also gives tips on how to achieve a calm, energized and happier version of yourself in 40 days.
Unlock the secrets of hormone health
So what’s the big deal about hormones, and how do they affect your body? According to Gottfried, hormones impact everything from weight gain to mood to sleep and chronic disease.
“Unchecked, your hormones can work against you in serious ways and contribute to two times the risk of anxiety, depression, insomnia and Alzheimer’s disease in women,” Gottfried says. “Imbalanced hormones are at the root of weight-loss resistance, rising body-weight set point and low sex drive. In my opinion, when you get these hormones back on track, you can reduce your risk of conditions from the banal to the serious.”
Gottfried says signs of a hormone imbalance can include weak nails, hair loss, night sweats, a puffy face, migraines, forgetfulness, fatigue, low sex drive and weight gain.
“Estrogen is the master regulator hormone for women and can start to get out of whack around age 35 to 40,” Gottfried says. “About 85 percent of women over 35 have issues with estrogen, also wreaking havoc on hormones like thyroid and insulin. These are the main drivers for weight gain, accelerated aging and brain-body dismay.”
Yet hormones don’t just concern women. Gottfried says they affect men, too.
“Men also need to regulate cortisol, insulin and blood sugar, keep tabs on testosterone and estrogen levels, and maintain healthy levels of vitamin D,” she says. “However, because of the possible link between estrogen and Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, it’s more crucial for women to stay attuned to their sugar, alcohol and stress intake.”
Regain hormonal balance
Growth hormone plays a role in healthy muscle, promoting heart performance, reducing body fat, and increasing muscle mass and strength. Gottfried says studies show impaired GH levels can increase fat, break down muscle, decrease energy and generally make your life miserable. While injections exist to optimize GH levels, Gottfried says it’s also possible to naturally increase your levels without incurring the risks and side effects of injections. Consider the following tips: