Sunday, July 9, 2017

5 Nutrition Tips to Naturally Reduce Hormonal Symptoms

Did you know that what you eat directly affects your hormones?
  Here are a couple of examples.

Jessica is a 43 year old lady with perimenopausal symptoms.  After starting on our nutrition program, she felt tremendously better (without any hormone replacement).  By one month her energy and mood were back to normal, she no longer had night sweats, her bloating was gone and she no longer had brain fog.  As she started drifting back towards her prior eating habits, her symptoms started coming back.   Because she was able to recognize the connection between food and hormones, she is now able to control her symptoms by making better nutrition choices. 

Jack is a 55 year old man on testosterone replacement therapy.  He had been doing well, but when he came in for an appointment in January he complained of insomnia.  His sugar intake had increased significantly over the holidays, and he was finding it hard to cut it back down again.  When we helped him to clean up his diet and reduce the sugar,  his insomnia resolved and he did not need sleeping pills. 

The standard american diet is a perfect recipe for hormonal chaos, resulting in weight gain, insomnia, depression, poor memory, fatigue, lack of libido and hot flashes.  But you don’t have to fall into that trap!  Eat right for your hormone health and you can start to feel better very quickly!  Here’s how. 

1.  Eat healthy fats

For years you were told to eat a low fat diet, but it turns out that was wrong information!    
Certain fats are healthy and help promote hormonal balance.   While high in calories, these fats do not promote weight gain - they actually help improve hormonal health and keep your metabolism functioning normally to help maintain a healthy weight.   

  • Omega 3 fatty acids, found in wild caught fish, flax and walnuts, are important for brain health, skin health, eye health, heart health and even help to regulate your immune system.  They also play an important role in hormone function.  Unfortunately, most americans don’t get enough omega 3s.
  • Raw nuts are rich in monounsaturated fat, as well as containing many nutrients such as magnesium and zinc, which are very important for hormones. 
  • Seeds, like raw sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, or ground flax seeds, contain healthy fats, and are an excellent source of fiber and protein that help to balance hormones.   Add raw seeds to your salad, stir fry, or smoothie. 
  • Avocado is another delicious source of healthy fat.  It contains many anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals that help with hormone health.
  • Organic Coconut oil not only supplies essential fatty acids, but is also has natural anti-microbial properties to help maintain the healthy bacteria in your gut.  Use it for cooking, melt it over vegetables, stir into smoothies.  
  • Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil is a source of healthy fat, is anti-inflammatory and is helpful for healthy estrogen metabolization and proper blood sugar metabolism.

The most important fat to AVOID is trans fat.  This is a toxin that increases weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, dementia and other chronic diseases.  Trans fats are found in deep fried foods, margarine, commercially prepared baked goods, and other processed foods.  Read the label - if it says hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated then leave it at the grocery store.

Also avoid commercially available vegetable oils, like canola and safflower.  These oils are highly processed and pro-inflammatory.  

2.  Add more broccoli

Cruciferous veggies have a lot going for them including cancer prevention and hormone balance.  

Examples include:
  • broccoli
  • cauliflower
  • cabbage
  • kale
  • collards
  • Brussels sprouts

These foods are good sources of calcium, fiber, vitamins and minerals.  They also have very important phytonutrients that affect how men and women metabolize estrogen.  Eating more of these veggies can help reduce hormonal symptoms, and may also reduce breast and prostate cancer risk. 

3.  Be Cautious with soy

Soy contains natural phytoestrogens, which are plant nutrients that can have some mild estrogen-like activity.  While there have been studies that suggest that soy can help reduce menopausal symptoms, in the US the vast majority of soy is genetically modified and is not recommended.  Also, most soy products are processed foods, like soy milk, soy cheese, and soy hot dogs which are not health promoting.  Even soy protein shakes are not a great idea. 

Excess quantities of soy can actually interfere with thyroid function.  Many people have hidden sensitivities to soy, and consuming extra soy can make them feel worse and cause an increase in hormonal symptoms. 

Fermented soy foods (which most people don’t choose to eat, and are not as readily available) like natto, miso or tempeh are good choices, so give these a try! 

4.  Avoid alcohol

While it is true that alcohol in moderation is good for heart health, no amount of alcohol is beneficial for hormonal health, and in fact alcohol consumption increases the risk for breast cancer in women.  In men, higher alcohol consumption can result in increased estrogen levels, which are associated with erectile dysfunction, obesity, gynecomastia (“man boobs”), and prostate cancer.  

When the liver has to process alcohol, it is not always able to properly metabolize estrogen.  Alcohol is a common trigger for hot flashes and night sweats.

I do not recommend starting to drink alcohol (including wine) to improve your health.  But if you would like to be able to continue to enjoy some wine, limit it to no more than four, 4oz glasses per week for women, and seven 4oz glasses for men (and not all on the same night!)

5.  Stabilize your blood sugar

One of the most common triggers for hormonal symptoms in men and women (after stress) is blood sugar fluctuations.  In our typical american diet we tend to eat foods that spike our blood sugar quickly, and then it crashes down again in a few hours resulting in sugar cravings and a repetition of the cycle.  Smoothing out blood sugar can make a big difference with hot flashes, energy, quality of sleep and mood.  
  • Avoid sugar - save it for special occasions and get your “sweet” from fruit.   
  • Avoid processed carbs  and the white stuff - white potatoes, white flour, white rice, white bread.  These spike your blood sugar quickly.  If you are going to eat potatoes, eating them with the peel helps, because the fiber in the peel helps to slow the blood sugar spike. 
  • Eat healthier carbs in moderation.  Even when you are choosing the better carbs (sweet potatoes and brown rice, for example), limit your serving size as they still affect blood sugar (although not as much as processed carbs)
  • Fill half your plate with non-starchy veggies - they are full of vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants, fiber and phytonutrients that help to stabilize blood sugar.  Avoid corn as this is very high in starch. 
  • Get adequate protein - lean meats, chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, legumes - these help stabilize blood sugar levels
  • Eat healthy fats - did you know that eating the bad fats (found in processed meats like bologna, deep fried foods, margarine, and vegetable shortening) actually make blood sugar problems worse!  And eating healthy fats (see above) helps to improve blood sugar metabolism.

It is possible to have significant improvements in how you feel by making some important changes in your nutrition.   Don't be satisfied with less than optimal quality of life!  Feel better today (and increase the chances of staying healthy for years into the future!).   You deserve nothing less. 

Sometimes making changes can be hard.  If you need some help with learning how to eat a healthy diet, (or making it actually happen in your busy, stressful life!),  we are here to help. Call us at 704-752-9346  or contact us at, or click here for more information.  

Deborah Matthew, MD

P.S.   For more information about how hormones may be affecting you, click here to read my book This is NOT normal!  A Busy Woman's Guide to Hormone Imbalance

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

5 Ways to Take 5 Years Off Your Face Today!

5 Ways to Take 5 Years Off Your Face Today!

Hopefully you are doing a good job with following a healthy lifestyle - you are protecting your skin from sun damage, drinking lots of clean water, getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables and avoiding the aging effects of sugar and processed food.  But no matter how carefully you live your life, age happens. 

Here are 5 ways to dial back the clock and look more refreshed and youthful (but still natural!)   

1.  Epionce skin care products.  The choice of products you put on your skin is just as important as the supplements you choose to take.  Epionce products are non-comedogenic, paraben free, sulfate free, cruelty free, and proven effective so you can confidently improve the appearance and condition of your skin.  Healthy skin is beautiful skin!

   2.  Botox.  Ok, lets be honest.  No one wants to      have a face that looks frozen in place.  But when  judiciously used, botox can erase fine lines from  your forehead,  and eliminate frown lines and  crows feet.  Botox works by relaxing the muscles  in these areas.  You still look like you.  Only  younger.

3.  Dermal fillers.  As you age, you lose volume in the tissues of your face, which results in saggy skin and can leave you looking tired.  Loss of volume around your mouth can cause the corners of your mouth to turn down, so you always look like you are frowning.  Not a good look. Fillers, such as Juvederm and Voluma,  can restore the natural shape of your face, and take years off your face within minutes, leaving you looking refreshed and rejuvenated, without the expense, risk or downtime of a facelift.  Your friends and family will notice that you look great, but won’t be able to tell what is different!  

  4.  SkinPen Unhappy about the texture or color of your skin?        Sun damage can leave dark spots and make your skin look old and   crepey.   This new technology involves micro-needles that make    tiny,  painless punctures into your skin to trigger a healing  response.  It can  erase sun damage and leave your skin with an  even texture and  glow.  It is not uncomfortable, and is much less  expensive than laser  therapy with similar results. 

5.  Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP).   Platelets contain growth factors that can stimulate the stem cells in your skin to grow more collagen fibers, nerve endings, blood vessels and turn back the clock.  In this procedure, we draw your blood, then process it to separate out the growth factors (PRP) and inject them into your skin.  Our PRP Skin Rejuvenation Procedure (also known as a Vampire Facelift) uses filler to restore the shape of your face,  a SkinPen treatment to address the tone and texture of your skin, and the PRP literally rejuvenates new and younger tissue that glows with vitality! 

Want to know more about how you can look younger today?  Schedule a complimentary aesthetic consultation!


Top 5 Hormones Affecting the Health of Your Skin

There are many important factors to healthy skin:  a diet rich in fruits and vegetables of many colors, good hydration, regular exercise.  There are some important factors to avoid as well including sun damage, smoking, sugar and processed foods.  
But did you know that there are also many hormonal issues that can affect skin health?

Estrogen has many important actions on the skin:  It retains moisture, to prevent dry skin (and dry hair and dry eyes and vaginal dryness…).   It maintains collagen and elasticity to prevent wrinkling.  It also helps to maintain the thickness of the skin.  There are more estrogen receptors in the skin of the face than on other parts of the body, so declining estrogen levels cause more obvious changes on facial skin.  
Estrogen replacement has been shown to increase skin thickness and elasticity, improve collagen content in the skin, and reduce fine lines and wrinkles.  Some women actually choose to apply their topical estrogen cream on their face to maximize skin benefits.  Even if estrogen is not applied to the skin, women often notice improvements in their skin, including that healthy glow, when their estrogen levels are restored.  
Testosterone can cause skin problems when it is too low OR too high! 
When testosterone levels are low in older men and women,  skin tends to become thinner, and wound healing is impaired.  Testosterone adds some oil to the skin, and this can be helpful in aging skin which tends to be dry.
On the other hand, excess testosterone or DHEA can cause excessively oily skin and acne breakouts, as well as excess hair growth.  

Progesterone has been found to help maintain skin thickness and elasticity, and helps to maintain scalp hair growth.  It also helps to reduce the negative effects of testosterone on the skin, so a lack of progesterone can exacerbate the effects of excess testosterone.
Hypothyroidism (low thyroid function) is often associated with skin dryness as a result of decreased sweating and reduced sebum production.  Many other factors may be seen with low thyroid:  pale skin color, dry bumps on the upper arms, puffiness around the eyes, scalp hair loss, loss of the outer third of the eyebrow,  dry and brittle hair.   
Cortisol is your main stress hormone.  Stress has been associated with skin problems such as acne breakouts.  Since cortisol regulates your immune system, stress can exacerbate rashes such as psoriasis and eczema, which are due to immune system problems.  There is actually a new area of study called psychodermatology looking at the links between skin health and emotional stressors. 

As you can see, there are many ways in which hormones affect your complexion.  If you want healthy, glowing skin then proper hormonal balance is important!
If you are having skin issues and feel that hormones may be part of the problem, please give us a call!  704-752-9346 or email us at  You can find more information at

Friday, March 31, 2017

10 Causes of Hair Loss in Women (and what to do about it!)

Thinning hair worrying you?  Lets do something about it. 

Are you dismayed by how much hair you see in the hairbrush and shower each day?  Hair loss can be extremely devastating for women, and it is not uncommon for women to be in tears in the office because of emotional distress from their hair loss.  While women do not typically lose all their hair, once the hair shedding is underway baldness feels like a very real possibility!  

Here are 8 reasons you may be losing your hair.

 1.  Thyroid problems 

Thyroid problems are a common cause of hair loss, and since thyroid problems are very common in women, we see this often.  Other symptoms associated with low thyroid function include:  fatigue, weight gain, constipation, feeling cold, depressed mood, anxiety, poor memory, low libido, dry skin, and dry/dull hair.  Standard thyroid blood tests often overlook subtle thyroid dysfunction, but even mild problems can be associated with distressing hair loss.  Many women who are being treated with standard thyroid hormone replacement continue to have symptoms despite treatment.  Fortunately, with a more comprehensive lab assessment and natural thyroid replacement, we can optimize thyroid function and achieve healthier, thicker hair.   An over-functioning thyroid gland can also cause hair loss, so good thyroid balance is important. 

2.  Stress

 Cortisol is your main stress hormone.  It is produced in your adrenal glands  to help you cope with emotional stressors, as well as physiologic stressors  (such as pain, allergies, insomnia, toxin exposures, etc). If cortisol levels  are abnormal, hair loss can result.  If you can reduce your stress, your hair  loss may diminish, but you made need some help.  It is possible to measure  your cortisol levels and while there are no prescription medicines to correct  this problem, there are lifestyle changes and nutritional supplements that  can help resolve the issue.

3.  Menopause

Hormone changes associated with menopause (or peri-menopause) can also cause thinning hair (and thinning skin, and thinning bones….).  Restoring hormone levels with bio-identical hormone replacement can help improve the health of your hair (and skin, and bones!) . In a study of women receiving testosterone pellet therapy, 63% noted hair regrowth, and none of the women in the study reported an increase in hair loss after treatment with testosterone.  (Glaser et al, British Journal of Dermatology, 2012).

4.  Prescription medications

Many drugs can contribute to hair loss in women, including the use of birth control pills.  The American Hair Loss Assocation (AHLA) recommends that women consider using a low-androgen index birth control pills to avoid possible hairlsos, especially if they are genetically predisposed to hair loss.  Changing pills or choosing a non-hormonal birth control option may help to correct the problem.  .

5.  Pre-diabetes

Diabetes, or even pre-diabetes may be associated with hair loss.   A holistic approach to balancing blood sugar metabolism including lifestyle changes, nutritional supplements, and weight loss may have a positive impact on hair loss, as well as reducing the risks for some very serious longterm health issues.

6.  Nutritional deficiencies

While americans do not typically suffer with malnutrition, we tend to be nutritionally deficient due to poor quality food choices.  Even if you are trying hard to eat right, the food available at the grocery store may not have optimal vitamin and mineral content due to our modern farming practices.  If you have symptoms such as gas, bloating, indigestion, heartburn, constipation or diarrhea your ability to digest and absorb the nutrients in your food may be impaired.  Certain medications, such as ant-acids, can also impair your ability to digest nutrients.  Nutritional testing is available to determine whether this may be a problem for you.

One of the common nutrient deficiencies we see associated with hair loss is an iron deficiency.  The lab test that is most helpful is a ferritin level -  this is a marker of your iron stores, and if your level is below 80 it is possible that insufficient iron levels may be contributing to the problem

7.  Chronic disease

If you have any chronic disease, hair growth may be slowed to help redirect your body’s resources to other areas to help promote healing.  So hair loss may be a symptom of another problem going on in your body, such as an auto-immune disorder or chronic inflammatory condition.

8.   Androgenic Alopecia

This is the medical name for genetic hair loss (female pattern baldness)  This is hereditary and happens slowly over time (over a period of many years). Typically there is family history of baldness in male relatives and thinning hair in female relatives.  Women do not typically become completely bald.  Hair loss is first noticeable at areas of parts, and hair thinning progresses until the scalp becomes visible.  The hair loss occurs even with normal levels of hormones so treatment for hair loss, such as a PRP (platelet rich plasma) treatment,  is frequently required to restore hair growth.

9.  Alopecia Areata

This is a medical condition where the immune system attacks the hair follicles, causing patches of hair loss.   This is much less common, but more difficult to manage.  The hair may not grow back on its own and may require treatment to restore hair growth.  PRP has been effective in helping with this type of hair loss. 

10.  Physical stress  

If you have any kind of physical trauma, such as a severe illness, a serious injury or surgery, this can trigger increased hair shedding which is not usually seen until 3-6 months later.  The stressful event "shocks" the hair cycle temporarily, so less hair is shed around the time of the incident (you don't notice this!).  When the hair cycle starts up again, more hair is lost all at once (so you notice the shedding!).  The good news is that this is a self limited problem called "telogen effluvium", and the hair growing cycles will reset and go back to normal without treatment.

Healthy Hair Recommendations

Reduce stress.  Simplify your life if possible, and know that it is not always the AMOUNT of stress you are under that is the biggest factor, but how you ALLOW the stress to affect you that matters. 

Ensure hormonal balance – Take steps to restore hormone levels to optimal ranges.  Measuring your hormone levels and restoring normal hormone balance with natural, bio-identical hormone therapy can be life changing for women and affects far more benefits than simply improving the health of your hair. 

Improve nutrition and optimize digestive health to allow better absorption of nutrients.  Eat whole foods including fruits and vegetables, avoid processed food and especially sugar.  Ensure that you are not iron deficient, and consider being tested for a full panel of nutrients. 

Get regular moderate exercise – exercise increases blood flow to the scalp and improves your overall health.  Since your hair is a reflection of your overall health, your nutrition and fitness level are important to hair health.

Take biotin, a nutrient that can be helpful for hair and nails.  Our patients have found excellent results with RegeneMax Plus, which is a form of biotin with added silica (another nutrient important for hair).  This has worked better than standard biotin, and has quickly become one of our top selling supplements (people come back for more because they can see a difference!)

Consider PRP (platelet rich plasma) treatments.  PRP is appropriate for most woman concerned about hair thinning.  By the time the hair thinning is visible, approximately 50% of the hairs have been lost.  Most women are well aware far sooner – their pony tail is thinner, their part becomes wider and they can see the hair shedding.  PRP treatments will have the best effects on hair follicles that still have some function.  This innovative procedure has been featured on  ABC news (Oct 2015).

For best results, it is important to address your hair loss BEFORE it is in the advanced stages  So starting sooner rather than later (as a preventive measure) is perfectly reasonable.

If you would like more information or need help to correct your hair loss issues, please contact the office at 704-752-9346 or email us at  More information is available at  

Deborah Matthew MD