My guest today is naturopathic doctor and author Dr. Trevor Cates. Dr. Cates’ own journey to healing hormone and skin issues created a deep interest in helping others. With her latest book out, ‘The Natural Beauty Reset,’ we talk all about men’s and women’s hormones, mood, skin, energy, weight management and weight loss, sleep, libido and some of the hormone basics.
Dr. Cates discusses things we can do to support our health and some of the challenges we experience during puberty, after childbirth, and middle age. We can’t fight the fact that we live in a world with toxins but what are some of the things we can do to support our health and immune system to manage our environment.
Listen to the episode here:
- Hormones [00:05:26]
- Hormones During Puberty [00:08:30]
- Genetics and Lifestyle [00:09:43]
- Lifestyle Support for Teenagers [00:12:37]
- Sugar and Processed Foods [00:14:18]
- Menstrual Cycle During Puberty [00:20:03]
- Hormone-Disruptive Chemicals [00:22:20]
- Detoxifying [00:29:07]
- On Organic Foods [00:31:15]
- Supplementation [00:33:20]
- Dealing with Skin Health Issues [00:36:40]
- Gut Health and Hormone Relationship [00:41:31]
- Probiotics on Skin [00:44:58]
- Aging in Women: Hormonal Birth Control [00:49:25]
- Aging in Women: Weight Gain [00:57:46]
- Hormones in Animal Protein [01:00:27]
- Is Milk Good for You? [01:01:50]
- Detoxification for Pre-menopausal and Perimenopausal Stage [01:06:15]
- Baseline Tests for Checking Hormones [01:09:42]
- Bioidentical Hormone Therapy [01:14:29]
- Hormone Health Support [01:16:33]
- Testosterone in Men [01:18:17]
- Pregnancy [01:26:05]
- Hormonal Headaches Before Menstruation [01:32:58]
- Libido: A Signal of Good Health [01:38:20]
- Seven-Day Resets [01:42:37]
- Reminders from Dr. Cates [01:47:35]
The Power of Your Hormones: More Than Testosterone & Estrogen + The Microbiome, Gut Health & How It’s All Connected | with Dr. Trevor Cates
Most people go in to see the dermatologist and they’ve got ten minutes to spend with their doctor and they’re going to be given some sort of topical or they’re given an antibiotic. For women, they’re put on birth control pills and not looking at what’s underneath that. What is causing the skin to have these issues in the first place? You can go on these medications but they’re only meant to be used temporarily. You go off them, then you’re dealing with whatever was underlying that wasn’t addressed plus all the side effects from that medication.
Acne, the things on your skin, and symptoms are a sign that the body is out of balance. They’re not just something annoying that we need to get rid of right now by taking an Advil, birth control pill, or antibiotic. They’re signs that the body is out of balance.
There’s so much power in these daily choices that we make. The foods that we eat will nourish our bodies and is providing us with the nutrients we need to support our hormones, to support our gut health, and microbiome, to support our brain health, and movement, moving our bodies. You know how important exercise is. It helps you feel better mentally, emotionally, and physically. Moving your body in a way that’s comfortable and appropriate for you. They do make a difference.
I don’t want people to feel like, “I have to find a doctor and we’ll do all these tests and put me on this plan.” There’s so much that you can do in these different areas to get started like reducing toxins in your environment and start shifting over to cleaner things, cleaning products, or skincare products. Making these little steps makes a huge difference.
Welcome to the show. My guest is Dr. Trevor Cates. She has a book called Natural Beauty Reset. She’s also done other books like Clean Skin From Within. What you realize in all these conversations is I might have something going on in my microbiome. For me, it might show up on my skin. For someone else, it might be gut issues, they don’t feel good, and elimination. For some people, it could be their sleep or weight.
The longer I do these shows and the more conversations we have, we realize that if we can get certain things organized like our lifestyle, reasonably, our sleep, and stress management, a lot of these other things can be avoided. We live in a world where our soils are depleted, the air is probably not ideal, and the water hasn’t been vortexed. There are so many things going on that we can’t control. How do we bring it back in and go, “Can I do some of these basic things to fortify myself?”
We talked about the gut and hormones. What are some of the things we can test to get a real snapshot of what’s going on in our bodies, especially if we’re feeling less than ideal? We talked about mood, female cycles, skin health, energy levels, weight, weight management, weight loss, sleep, and sex. We visit through if you have a kid who’s going through puberty and some of these things are showing up, how can we help them go through that a little more smoothly?
Puberty is an intense hormonal time. After childbirth, what are some things that we might be missing that could help us? Of course, mid-age. Everybody always wants to talk about weight gain, weight management, and how to lose it. I don’t want to say offload some of these toxins but is there a way to fortify and also get the gut clear and help us figure out what’s going on? Also, some of the hormone basics, the signs, the cause, and how to stabilize those.
I want to encourage you that sometimes when we don’t feel good, it is discouraging and we think it’s hopeless. I want to say that if we can keep asking questions, keep trying new things, and not bounce around like a ping pong ball, but ask some of the right questions, we can participate in improving and supporting our health. Dr. Trevor Cates is a great example of this. This whole thing started for her as a naturopathic doctor because of her own skin issues and imbalances in her hormones. She is also a living representation and understands that. I hope you enjoy.
Dr. Cates, thank you for coming all this way. You’re on a family trip and we had the good fortune of getting you to stop by here. You have a new book called Natural Beauty Reset. I wanted to take this time because people are always interested in hormones. It’s such a complex system and it impacts us. Between that and our microbiome, it almost feels like that’s who we are.
Our hormones identify us. They make us who we are in many more ways than people realize. They impact our bodies in all different aspects. A lot of times, when people hear hormones, they think of sex hormones, they’re thinking of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. Women are thinking about estrogen and men are thinking about testosterone but we all have both. We have all of those hormones.
Do the guys know that?
They should know that they have estrogen. They have less. Women have testosterone, we have less than men. There are adrenal hormones and thyroid hormones. There are hormones that help us sleep like melatonin. There are hormones that help us with our appetites like leptin and ghrelin. There are so many hormones in insulin that lower blood sugar. They impact everything.
It’s an interesting thing because we focus on the sex hormones instead of trying to figure out how all the instruments play harmoniously in the symphony. First of all, maybe share why did you take this on. How did you arrive at this being your field of expertise?
I’ve been a naturopathic physician for over 22 years. It is the thing that comes up over and over again for both men and women. I tend to see a lot more women in my practice. Sometimes they’ll bring their husbands, their kids, or even their parents and the family. It was the biggest question that I kept getting asked after my last book, Clean Skin From Within. I realized there is a lot of confusion around hormones and I wanted to make it easier for people to understand in this book and then also understand ways to help our bodies restore harmony to help us balance our hormones.
A lot of times, women think the only way to balance hormones is with hormones. Men think that too, “As I get older, I need testosterone.” It’s not that. You don’t just use hormones to balance hormones or to support your hormones. There are so many things with our lifestyle. As we get older and if we need bioidentical hormones, we need to go that route, and we can talk to our doctors about it. Building that foundation for health is important.
Maybe we can start with a younger person and take a journey. Let’s say people are going through puberty. This is an expansive, confusing, and difficult time. Things are changing at such an intense rate, having gone through it, and when you live with someone like that, watching it. Let’s talk about teenagers. Maybe you could explain what is exactly going on with them. Maybe we could break down some of the subsets of what they deal with.
[bctt tweet=”I believe that Information is power.”]
It is important to talk about these major transitions in our lives and the first one is puberty. When we’re talking about hormones, puberty is the first big transition that we go through. Of course, there are other transitions. For women, in particular, there’s fertility, pregnancy, postpartum, perimenopause, and menopause. Men go through andropause too. We can talk about those things.
The thing is that when we build that healthy foundation, those transition times tend to be smoother. We can go through those things in a smoother way. I’m glad you’re asking about puberty because there’s a lot of information we can gain from how we went through puberty. We sailed right through and we didn’t have any problems. We stay on a healthy path. There’s a good chance when we go through it later in life, it’s going to be easy. If we had a hard time in puberty or we’re not making the right decisions along the way, we can have a rough time when we get older.
When you look at that, is it genetic equals lifestyle? Is it sometimes the luck of the genetic draw for some of this stuff being easier or more challenging?
Genetics plays a huge role. I’m not going to deny that. We can change our genetic expression with our lifestyle choices. For those of us that have these genetic predispositions, we have to work a little bit harder with certain lifestyle choices. That doesn’t mean that because our parents had something or we have the genes for something, that is going to be hard.
Because our parents went through a difficult aging process or died for a particular reason, it doesn’t mean that that’s our path. It is a wake-up call though. If you start to have some of the symptoms, “I might have the genetics for it.” You can do genetic testing but you can also pay attention to what’s going on with your body and then support it through these transitional times.
With boys, I don’t want to say it’s easier but let’s look at what they experience. Usually, they’re probably tired. Does your circadian rhythm flip and flop until you naturally stay up later when you’re a teenager and want to sleep in? Aren’t there natural things happening in there? As parents, people stress out, “They stay up so late.” There’s something about that, that’s natural.
They do have different circadian rhythms. It also depends on the seasons and that’s why I talk about seasons in my book. A lot of times, people don’t think about the impact of where the sun is, how far away it is, and the length of the day. Even the moon. If it’s a full moon, that can make it more challenging to sleep. We’ve got all these different factors in there.
You’ve got major growth happening in these teenage years. They’ve got growth hormone. They need to sleep longer amounts of time. When you have your teenager that wants to sleep in and if you can let them sleep, let them have that sleep. They need that growth hormone during sleep to help them grow and help them develop. They need melatonin. They need these things to help them as they grow. Understand that as we get older, we don’t need as much sleep. As we’re growing, that is an important thing.
Let’s say there’s an opportunity and we can let them sleep. A lot of people are on pretty rigorous schedules. Is there something that we can do as parents? I’m sure this would then mean for ourselves as well. Let’s say it’s a big moon and it’s pulling the oceans and us. People are restless or they have to be at school at whatever time. Are there things we can do to assist them besides nagging them to get to bed earlier and get off their device, which is an ongoing and forever conversation? Is there anything that you feel supports their system if they have to go early?
It’s a lot of the same thing that we would want to do ourselves. When we set a good example, that’s sometimes the best we can do. I have three kids. Sometimes I’m like, “You need to go to bed at the same time. Don’t eat close to bedtime. Get off your devices.” Sometimes it’s hard for them to hear us and do that. If we’re doing it, that does set a good example.
You start with your own behavior as a parent so that you can model that for your kids. If you’re opening up a good old-fashioned book instead of looking at your computer, you’re listening to music, transitioning into sleep time, and planning ahead with your day so that your work is done. You’re modeling for them to get your schoolwork done early so you’re not trying to stay up late. I understand. I’ve got kids and it’s not always easy.
Their schedules are loaded. One of my daughters came home from playing in a sporting competition and then she had tutoring. The Lord knows I’m not smart enough to help with the math in high school. I sent food with my husband to pick her up so she ate. You realize that after the tutoring, it’s homework. Here it is, 8:30. Let’s go back to boys and the skin. There are always exceptions besides being tired. Young males going through puberty, their hormones are impacting their skin is one of them. You have a book, Clean Skin From Within. What’s happening there?
When we get these shifts in hormones, in particular androgens, that’s for both men and women, boys and girls. Androgen increase is one of the big things that increases sebum production in the skin and breakouts in the skin. That being said, not every teenager has acne. There are places in the world where there is no acne.
Papa New Guinea. There’s a place in there where there are no diagnosed cases of acne but they have a different lifestyle. They eat differently than we do in the United States where we’re eating so much sugar and processed food. That is one of the biggest things. Sometimes if kids can make the connection between what they’re eating and seeing the breakout, that sometimes can help. It’s challenging with kids. It’s a little bit easier working with adults when they make that connection and they have the willpower to make that change.
What happens when we eat sugar or foods that cause blood sugar rising is that increases the hormone insulin and also increases androgen activity. Those two things are known to trigger acne breakouts and ab extra increase in sebum. We want to be careful with sugar intake. If we do indulge in some sugar, try to balance it with other foods, other fats, and fiber, in particular. Those will help with maintaining that blood sugar.
A lot of doctors don’t talk about getting their blood sugar tested. This is for adults or children. You can get fasting blood sugar. You could get Hemoglobin A1C. You can get also insulin. You can get these things tested and see if they are having a tendency to have as high blood sugar. This is particularly important for girls that may not yet be diagnosed with something called PCOS. A lot of women have this and then that excess androgens are causing these acne breakouts.
Unfortunately, a lot of these girls are put on birth control pills to manage their acne and other symptoms like there are periods even before they’re sexually active. These are the women that I see down the road because they’re going off birth control pills or want to get pregnant. They’re trying to get their hormones balanced. They never addressed those underlying issues from the get-go and now they have all the side effects that came from taking birth control pills.
Let’s say kids eat pretty well but they’re more sensitive. You’re saying maybe get their blood looked up. I’ve done a lot of conversations around glucose levels and things like that. If you could eat your fiber first, it would help stabilize some of the impacts maybe if you are eating something that will spike your glucose levels.
It’s weird. It’s like a social thing. I remember eating fast food when I was a teenager. I don’t know if it just tastes good and they have. They have freedom finally because they’re away from their parents and they’re all doing it. It is an interesting thing because a difficult part of going through puberty is if you end up getting acne, it’s tough and it’s uncomfortable. It makes already a hard time more challenging.
Sugar is addictive.
There’s always that.
The food industry knows this. They market to teenagers. They get them hooked on things like sodas and candies. They get them hooked on these things early on and that’s their path to making a lot of money. Unfortunately, what a lot of people are looking at in the food industry is, how do they make more money and not how are we going to get nutrients in our kids? How are we going to keep the public healthy? They’re like, “How can we make more money?” Sugar is extremely addictive.
I don’t think that people realize how addictive sugar is. There was a rodent study where they were given either the option of cocaine or sugar. They were given it first and they’re like, “Which way do you want to go?” They went to the sugar. It’s extremely addictive. You start giving kids this and then they get that sugar rush and it tastes good. The flavors that they put in these packaged foods get kids hooked.
With teenagers, it’s their nature. They haven’t figured it out. Their brains haven’t developed to the point where they can make that connection between their behavior and an outcome. They’re not there yet. Help them along the way. We all are on this path. We have to make our choices. Sometimes we learn from the mistakes that we make.
What about teenage girls? They then are going to be dealing with getting a menstrual cycle. In the beginning, it’s usually a little more irregular. It doesn’t find its pattern. Maybe you could explain what’s going on in the system as far as it’s finally showing up and then find a place where it’s easier to manage like what to expect, how you’re going to feel, how heavy, and things like that.
It is absolutely common and I wouldn’t even say normal for that early time when girls first get their periods that it’s irregular. It may not be as regular as when we get older. At the same time, we want to do what we can to get support the body. One of the things that people forget about is this group of chemicals in our environment that we’re exposed to called endocrine-disrupting chemicals. This group of chemicals, we have higher levels of these in our environment than we ever have.
Our young people, teenagers, they’re getting more of these. They’re getting exposed to them in the mother’s womb. some of these pass along in our genes. They’re already coming into this world with higher levels of these endocrine-disrupting chemicals and other toxic chemicals than we did. When we’re exposed to this group of chemicals, they’ll bind to hormone receptors in the body. They can act like a hormone. They can change the way the hormone receptors work. It impacts all the hormones in the body.
We’re talking about insulin, which regulates blood sugar. We’re talking about all the sex hormones, especially estrogen. There are estrogen-mimicking chemicals. Your body thinks that it’s getting estrogen and has a response and has these feedback mechanisms in the body. It makes it look like we have all this estrogen. That is one of the big things. We’re seeing more of these issues in girls where they’re getting their periods earlier. They’re having horrible, long, and heavy periods. We’re seeing breast development in young boys.
Is that the phthalates? That’s a disruptive hormone.
Phthalates are a type of endocrine-disrupting chemical but there are so many. They’re in our air, water, food, and personal care products. They’re in many different places.
That’s when you’re wearing the most makeup and using different trendy skincare that maybe have a ton of this stuff in it.
Clothing as well. There’s stuff that came out about led in one of the most popular clothing lines for girls. It’s made in China. This stuff comes over and we’re getting exposed to heavy metals, pesticides, phthalates, and all of these. Also, the Forever Chemicals, the PFAs. Let’s start with the tough ones. There’s a nonstick. Now, they’re everywhere. These chemicals have been introduced into our environment. They don’t just go away. That’s why they’re called Forever Chemicals. They end up in our air, water, food, personal care products, and in our homes.
it’s scary but it’s important for people to know this because there are ways that you can reduce your exposure. That’s why we need to be careful about drinking filtered water, eating organic when we can, and choosing natural, toxin-free personal care products. Be careful with the word natural because it has no regulation. I make a skincare line called The Spa Dr. We say natural but we mean it. it’s free of these endocrine-disrupting chemicals and other toxic chemicals.
The problem is that the FDA doesn’t do much regulation around this. In personal care products, for example, we use, on average, nine personal care products a day. That exposes us to 126 unique ingredients. That’s according to the Environmental Working Group. In the United States, the FDA has only banned eleven ingredients.
What about Europe?
In Europe, they banned over 1,000.
They think we’re crazy, I’m sure. They’re like, “We made that illegal. We never even approved them.” We’re like, “We don’t know yet.” Isn’t there a site where people like to check your products?
Environmental Working Group has a good one, EWG.org. They have a skin-deep database where you can put in the name of a product or an ingredient if it’s not in their system. They have a whole group of products that are verified. The SPA Dr., my skincare line, is verified. I know the process that has to go through in order to be claimed verified. We had to do a lot of work to get a verification. They do a good job with it.
There are apps where you can scan the barcodes and stuff. There are resources to make it easier for us. Both of my books have a whole list of ingredients to avoid, the research behind why you want to avoid it, and then, of course, natural alternatives. Fragrance is one of the big ones if you’re going to pick one ingredient to avoid. We’re talking about girls and even boys.
Boys are prim and prime more than they ever have.
They’re using deodorants, antiperspirants, and things like that too. Fragrance is one of the most common ingredients that we see in personal care products, cleaning products, and a lot of things that we use. It’s listed as one ingredient but we know it’s not one ingredient, it’s a whole bunch of ingredients. This is where a lot of endocrine-disrupting chemicals are hidden like diphthalate. Diphthalate is an ingredient that’s used in fragrance to help the scent last longer. Phthalates are endocrine-disrupting chemicals. Diphthalate has shown up in human urine samples. We know that what we put on the skin can get absorbed and it shows up in human samples.
There are also parabens. They’ve been taken out of a lot of personal care products but they’re still lingering on a lot. A lot of manufacturers are fighting at this angle but it takes so much for it to be an issue. We have to remember we’re a toxic soup of all these different places that were exposed to chemicals. We’re a big science experiment happening within our bodies that have never been tested. There’s no way you can test all the different chemicals that a single person has been exposed to. It’s hard to do that.
[bctt tweet=”Our hormones identify us. They make us who we are in so many more ways than people realize.”]
Even if you could, if you’re using it every day, and that small accumulation, it’s like, “That’s not going to impact your health.” Sometimes when I listen to this, I can listen to this objectively. I wonder if you experience it. From your professional point of view, you can understand all of this and be objective. When you go into your own home and you’re dealing with your own house and your own family and your own health, it can feel overwhelming. There’s almost a part sometimes where you want to go, “Forget it. It’s too hard. There’s too much. We’re not going to win.” Maybe we could start from there because we know.
In the book, Count Down, by Dr. Swan, men from 1970 and every year have lost a percentage of testosterone because of some of the things you’re talking about. That’s how we can get their attention. A young person compared to a 40-year-old male is, on average, 30 points lower in testosterone given the environment, straight up.
Without being doomsday, they’re starting to get poisoned in utero. They have a different race that they’re running with a lot more obstacles than someone my age. It’s just the way it is. Let’s say we’re running a house and we’re busy and we are beyond stressed out and we have many dollars to work with. Quite frankly, even if we didn’t, it’s a lot.
What are the building blocks? I do want to talk about this idea. Is there a way to slowly detox someone or put a practice in place? We’re reading about Shilajit talking about it being heavy metal. Laird uses it. For people who don’t know, it’s like black tar with a lot of bioavailable minerals but there are a lot of health benefits.
Are there things realistically we could do with a teenager? If it works for them, I’m sure it works for someone older. We go, “It’s overwhelming. We can’t we’re not going to totally fight the system but there are things we can do.” We want them obviously to move and sleep. If we don’t have to put them on rounds of antibiotics or give them an Advil every time they have a headache, that’d be better. Are there other things we can do to support them to deal with the load?
100%. I do know that it can be overwhelming. I do sometimes see people shut down. It’s like, “I can’t take this. My brain can’t even wrap my head around it.” It’s funny because I’ve been seeing patients for over 22 years. When I first came to naturopathic medical school, I was like, “You can’t have any of these things and you have to eat this way. This is a lifelong journey.” People were like, “I can’t do this.” I’ve learned over the years to make it simpler and simpler. Any change you make is going to make a difference.
Why I mentioned fragrance is even if you take out fragrance and you look for things made with organic essential oils. Essential oils don’t have these side effects and issues but they have health benefits like mood benefits. For the Spa Dr. skincare products, our customers oftentimes talk about how they feel good. They feel this uplift in their mood when they do their daily personal care routine. It’s through things like that, that we can make a difference.
Let’s talk about some of those. As a parent in your home, that’s the place to start. You do have control over your home. You have control over the foods you eat and the foods you bring in your home. You have control over the personal care products you bring in your home and that you put on your body. That’s where people want to start. Things like getting a filter for your water and getting an air purifier if you can. Especially if you live in a city where you have the windows open, you want to take in the air but you’ve got all these pollutants or there’s gas and you’ve got new furniture in the home. Air filters and water filters are simple things that people can do. Also, try to get organic as much as you can.
For people reading this, sometimes maybe there is an access or cost. Frozen organic would then be the next best solution.
That is a possibility. It depends on the food. Frozen berries maintain their nutrients well. Other produce doesn’t hold on to it as well. The next best thing is to go to your local farmers market. It may not be certified organic but ask your local farmer what they use on their crops.
They couldn’t afford to get it certified. That was my favorite, “I’m sorry, you’re not big enough. You’re too natural for us to call you organic.” It’s like, “Are you crazy?” That is a real thing. It’s like, “You don’t make enough for us to even certify you. You can’t afford to pay for that.”
You eat when you eat in season and you eat locally. You’re also getting more nutrients in the food. When we get more nutrients in our food, that’s going to help us with detoxification pathways. The first thing is to reduce the toxins. Reduce your exposure to your air, water, food, and personal care products. Try to choose natural when possible or clean and non-toxic. Go to Environmental Working Group. EWG.org also has the Dirty Dozen. Are you familiar with that?
They have a Dirty Dozen and Clean 15. These are the foods they’ve tested. The produce in the grocery stores, which ones have the most pesticide residues after they’re prepared? A lot of people will say, “You just have to peel that.”
That’s a bummer though when you start to learn.
If you choose organic, when you look at the Dirty Dozen, those are the ones that have the most amount of pesticide residues. Get those organic or skip them. You can look at the Clean 15 and you don’t have to buy those organic.
That’s also a way to offset the costs and things like that. What about supplementation for a young person? Is there anything baseline that overall is usually pretty safe for them that also supports them through maybe big hormone changes?
One of the biggest things that kids and all people don’t get enough of is fiber. We oftentimes don’t get enough fiber. Teenagers are not eating their vegetables as much. They’re not eating as many Whole Foods and other fats. A fiber supplement, if you can somehow sneak that into a morning smoothie or into their breakfast somehow to get a little bit of fiber like chia seeds or something along those lines is going to give them a little bit more fiber, even if you’d get it in a pho form.
A lot of kids are not getting enough fiber. Fiber helps with our gut microbiome, which then helps us with our hormones. It helps us with our skin. It also helps us with blood sugar balance, which then helps us with our skin and helps us with our hormones. That’s one of the things that’s missing in a lot of kids’ diets. Also, if you can convince them to take a multivitamin-mineral supplement, it’s not a bad idea. If you get a high-quality one, that way, you know that you’re filling in those nutritional gaps they may not be getting with their food.
I’m not plugging this company but Ritual makes a clean supplement and they make them for teenagers specifically. I do know that they do a good job and you can trace the sources and things like that. If people are looking for something that they can feel comfortable giving their team, they have formulas for people under 18. What about Omegas for teenage girls with their cycles and things like that? Is that too young or can that be helpful?
Not at all. That’s another great one not just for girls but for boys too. Those Omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory. A lot of the things that they’re going through with the acne and period problems are inflammatory conditions. Anything that we can do to decrease the inflammation in their bodies is going to help them through those times.
A lot of them are not going to be eating wild Alaskan salmon getting into their diets. Plus, the amount that we would need to eat then exposes us, unfortunately, to some of the toxins in fish. Getting a fish oil supplement, an Omega-3 supplement is good. Also, it helps balance out maybe the other fats that they’re getting and gives them more of those anti-inflammatory fats.
You wrote your book, Clean Skin From Within. I’m in the sun quite a bit but I try to protect myself. I believe it’s because I eat relatively healthy for most of my adult life and that has supported my skin health. What tips do you have about skin support? This would apply to a young person and someone of any age. You’re using words like beauty and skin. This is what motivates people, your waistline, your butt, and your libido. Whatever it takes. Within that conversation, what do you think is helpful? I do think that is a way to reach people.
What led me into writing that book is I had already been practicing for twelve years as a naturopathic doctor and I was working in the Waldorf Astoria Spa in Park City. I was leading patients through a two-week weight loss program. At the end of the two weeks, my patients, both men and women, were saying, “Dr. Cates, I’ve lost weight. I feel good. What surprises me is my skin. I didn’t know my skin could look this good.” Their skin issues were clearing up. They had a healthier and more vibrant look on their skin.
To me, I was saying, “Of course, your skin is an outer reflection of your overall health. It’s your largest organ. It’s run on the surface of your body. Of course, it’s going to give you these messages.” I realized that’s how I grew up. How I became a naturopathic doctor was I had skin issues as a child. I had eczema, hives, and all kinds of sensitive skin and eruptions. My parents took me to see a lot of different doctors. I had allergic reactions and adverse reactions to every medication.
They found a holistic practitioner they took me to and that’s when things turned around for me. I remember as a kid thinking, “Why did we have to go through all this to be presented with this holistic option? Why didn’t the doctors mention this right from the beginning?” In a simple kid’s mind, I’m like, “This helped.” It’s what led me to that path.
When I was at the Waldorf Astoria, I’ve been living my entire life knowing this but most people go in to see the dermatologist and they’ve got ten minutes to spend with their doctor and they’re going to be given some sort of topical or they’re given an antibiotic. For women, they’re put on birth control pills and not looking at what’s underneath that. What is causing the skin to have these issues in the first place? You can go on these medications but they’re only meant to be used temporarily. You go off them and then you’re dealing with whatever was underlying that wasn’t addressed plus all the side effects from that medication.
What did you do specifically? Did you change dealing with eczema? A lot of people manage skin issues and it’s frustrating. What did they do for you?
For me, there was a lot of genetic stuff. A lot of allergies run in my family. We have this tendency. Also, my skin is very fickle. I had all kinds of skin issues throughout my life. For me, it was finding out that there are certain food triggers. Dairy was a big one for me. We also had mold in our home. We lived on a farm. In the basement, there was mold. Also, there were certain treatments that helped me with homeopathy and things. It was a different approach than what I was given before.
With those conventional doctors, they couldn’t figure out what to do with me. They said, “You might have to consider moving because she seems to be allergic to everything in Virginia. You might just want to move.” As a parent now, I’m grateful that my parents didn’t just take that and go, “There’s nothing else to do.” They kept looking for answers. As a parent, sometimes it’s hard for us to do that. Keep looking for your kid if they are struggling.
We talked about sugar and processed foods. Let’s slide into adulthood. I don’t want to say more stress, just different stress. It’s your perception too. You’re in the real world and now you’re working. You have less time. You’re not just flying by with great hormones to keep you slender. You’re looking at your health landscape. Maybe we could talk about the gut and hormone relationship.
Sometimes I feel like we can get away with stuff for a while because we haven’t had that saturation or that accumulation. We get to a certain age. Everybody has different times when you start to pay the piper a little bit. When you’re working with somebody because the gut is important, do you incorporate that in looking at hormones? How do you do that? These are two complex areas but I feel like that’s who we are.
It is extremely important to look at gut health and that’s one of the things a lot of times people miss. When they’re looking at their health issues, they don’t go deep enough to the gut. We know now there’s so much research on the gut microbiome and how it impacts our brain, our hormones, and our skin. There’s the gut-brain access, the gut-brain-skin access, and all of these connections.
We have not only these microorganisms in our gut that help protects our gut health and all these great things but we have them all over on and in our bodies. The skin microbiome is something that a lot of people aren’t as aware of. The gut microbiome is getting a lot of attention but the skin microbiome is also important. Our gut microbiome impacts our skin microbiome.
If we have gut dysbiosis and that means an imbalance and harmful growth of bacteria or we have too little of the right bacteria, that can create dysbiosis on our skin. Our skin has different microorganisms that live on it. It is important for keeping the skin from breaking out, from issues like eczema, atopic dermatitis, rosacea, acne, or a lot of the common skin issues as well as how we age and the appearance of wrinkles, sagging skin, and all of those things.
The thing is in the beauty industry, they go, “We’ll give you a mask.” What you’re saying is important. If we could start to educate young people and go, “You want to look good. You need to get some influencers on TikTok being like, ’Yogurt.’” I don’t know. I’m joking. It’s getting them to understand that when you’re 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, and beyond, how many wrinkles, sagging skin, and all of this stuff are all interconnected. There are ways that you can at least make that better.
I have a friend who’s pretty incredible. He works on skin. He’ll do myofascial release and then make your neck longer and then all of a sudden, it looks like you’ve been lifted. People forget because we’re hunched over and we’re on our phones. Our neck is looking down and now we’re double-chinning it. Now our neck is shorter. It goes on and on. All of a sudden, your face is collapsing. He talks about putting yogurt on the skin for the microbiome. He does it a couple of times a week where he slathers it on. You boost that microbiome and you do that a couple of times a week.
He even talks about the conflict between the bacteria in your hair against the bacteria on your face. Sometimes one can be torturing the other. Usually, in the skin, you can see it. One of my daughters, he’s like, “That’s the hair torturing the skin.” People just that the hair is a hair and your face skin is something and that they’re not at all connected or related. I always found that interesting.
I do want to talk about that. I know people talk about probiotics on the skin.
More the lactic.
It’s lactic acid. It’s not that it’s providing the bacteria from yogurt, it’s lactic acid. What our skin needs is a mildly acidic environment. The microorganisms living on our skin are different than the ones living in our gut. In fact, all different areas of our body are different microbes, around our noses, and behind our ears. and on our feet.
They said for the dry areas, the elbows and knees, you’ve got a whole other situation going on.
When I look at skincare, putting probiotics and skincare, the research isn’t there enough. First of all, the FDA doesn’t allow live bacteria in skincare products for a reason and that means good bacteria as well as bad bacteria. It’s trying to protect us from bad bacteria. We can have a product that contains live bacteria.
[bctt tweet=”It is extremely important to look at gut health and that’s one of the things a lot of times people miss.”]
Using DIY skincare, I’m a big fan of that. Sugar and dairy are great topically on the skin not internally. It is providing the mild acidity our skin needs. The research shows that our skin does best with a pH under five. It’s 4 to 4.5. Using products in the 4.6 to 5 pH range is what supports our skin. Lactic acid is what’s in yogurt and milk that has a lower pH and that’s why it’s promoting healthy microorganisms on the skin.
You can even see the moisture level after you do it for a while. Your skin will be more hydrated. There’s something interesting. It didn’t seem overly dangerous.
One of the reasons why I created my skincare line is because many of the products out there have moisturizers and cleansers that have a pH over 5.5. You’re stripping the skin, you’re creating these imbalances. They’re not helping support the skin microbiome. What I did is I created a line that has a mild acidity, it’s in that 4.6 to 5 pH range. Your skin naturally has that hydration.
The skin being on the surface of our body, one of the biggest things it’s doing is protecting us from the outside world. Having that acidity is one of the things that help protect it. Having oils in the skin helps. The natural oils are part of what provides that barrier function. Having that pH is what helps protect it. When we do things topically that break that down increases the pH or strip the oils, that’s when we’re creating issues.
What you add into that, what you’re doing from the inside out, and maybe you’ve taken antibiotics and killed off some of the good bacteria in your gut, maybe you’re stressed, that plays a role into it as well or not eating very healthy. Those two together, that’s the combination where we see people with long-term skin issues. The sooner you can take care of that with your kids or wherever you are, the sooner the better.
When you have a book, you’re calling it The Beauty Reset. The word reset for me is that reminder to people too. If you’ve had to take antibiotics, fine, but there’s an opportunity. It might take almost a year, more or less, to reboot and rebuild your microbiome and recover from that. People are feeling overwhelmed versus, “What can I slowly do?”
It may not happen overnight, it may not happen in a week, but you definitely can participate in re-supporting that if you go, “Today, I’m going to see if I can do this a little bit differently. If someone is reading this and thinking, “What are the signs that maybe my hormones are off?” Does it show up differently for males and females? I’m wondering. Sometimes I don’t think we know. We think, “I’m tired,” or, “I’ve had a lot of work,” or, “I’ve been in COVID and I’m uninspired,” or whatever is going on.
One of the things that people will say is, “I’m getting older.’” We’re even told that. When I was 30 years old, I went in to see my gynecologist and I said, “I’m putting weight in my midsection. I’m putting on this weight and I’ve never had this issue before. Do you think it’s from the birth control that I’m on?” She said, “You’re 30. You’re not in your 20s anymore. You’re just going to be putting on weight more since you’re getting older.” I was upset by that. I was already a naturopathic doctor at the time so I went off that hormonal birth control and did a detox and got my hormones back on track and lost that weight. I’m fitter now than I was. When I was 30, I had more of that weight gain.
The pill is easier for a young person as far as a form of contraception. What are alternatives? I get that. Let’s start there. You’ve got daughters. In your mind, in health levels, top to bottom, what’s the best?
I wasn’t even on birth control pills, it was a different form of hormonal birth control. There are a lot of different hormonal birth control options out there. The problem with estrogens and things is they’re not the same kind that our bodies make. Also, the birth control pill in particular will suppress testosterone. With low testosterone, you’re experiencing a low sex drive.
That’s birth control. You don’t want to have sex. That’s it.
It suppresses your testosterone.
It’s good for marriage.
It’s convenient to put your daughter on. That’s not what we want to do. We don’t want to be suppressing their testosterone because it also eventually leads to muscle loss. It contributes to weight gain along with estrogen. synthetic progestin and some of these birth controls create a lot of imbalances with the hormones. Especially birth control pills, they negatively impact the gut microbiome. They also create nutritional deficiencies like important B vitamins that help us with managing stress.
Does it block absorption?
Yeah. It depletes the body of this. The question is, what do we do instead? It’s a tough one but there are non-hormonal forms of birth control. There’s the non-hormonal IUD. There’s barrier-contraception. One of the most important ones for women is to do more fertility awareness. There are different names for it. It’s understanding your ovulation and when it is. Tracking your temperature and things like that can help you understand when you’re ovulating.
It can be a little tricky if you’re not ready to start a family. It’s probably good to go ahead and get an IUD or something else. Regardless, if you’re not on a hormonal form of birth control, you learn so much about your body. If you do want to have a family down the road, it also will help you prepare, “I’ll know when I’m ready to have a baby. I know when I’m ovulating.” It’s empowering for women to know when that’s happening and for your partner to know as well.
Dr. Alisa Vitti has a program called the In The Flo. They have apps to let you know, even at certain times when you should eat 250 more calories a day during that certain time. They’ll give the app to the partner and it’s like, “Watch out.” If you feel good and the progesterone is down, that gatekeeper has left. Now all the thoughts and feelings are coming out. They have these apps that both people can have. They know what’s going on. I don’t know why you wouldn’t. Everyone’s like, “It shouldn’t be a big deal. We’re going to mask it.” This is a cycle.
Men go through a 24-hour one while we go through 30. That was a joke about happy hour. The testosterone drops at 4:00. They’re done hunting, killing, and working so they can have fun. That’s how happy hour started. They have their own cycle. They don’t have apps for that yet. That’s another story.
I have three daughters. We always tell my husband that it’s the best. It’s like, “You get your period.” He’s like, “Okay, I’ll get my period too.” We’re like, “You don’t bleed.” They have a period every day. That makes a lot of sense to me. I don’t want to say eat the health risks but it’s an under and over look at, “They’re 16, 19, and 25. They’re not ready.” I thought they always had the lighter IUDs. I didn’t know they had a completely non-hormonal one.
There is one. There are IUDs that have no hormones. They have no progestin. What some people are confused about is they’ll say, “It’s progesterone so that’s natural.” It’s not progesterone, it’s progestin. It’s a synthetic form of progesterone. There have been a lot of negative studies associated with that. There are some risks associated with it. Unfortunately, it’s not the best option. It’s an individualized decision.
You got to calibrate it.
When you go off any hormones with your cycle, you get to understand what is going on with your body. Your partner understands. I did a nine-part documentary series, Hormones, Health, & Harmony. I interviewed over 50 experts for this. We covered all aspects of women’s hormones and how their hormones change in a day, in a month, and throughout our lives.
I made it for women but when men watched it, they were like, “Now I understand more about what you’re going through.” Much of our society has been built around men and their hormones and their energy levels. A lot of the research has been done on men and not women. It’s important for us to understand these fluctuations in our hormones for both men and women to understand that.
It’s funny living with somebody for over 27 years who’s been around a lot of women. What I do love is men that have been around women enough that they haven’t been educated but they have done it through life living. They know. You watch them and you go, “They are smart.” They know when to hang back. It’s beautiful. You see and you go, “How’s the macho over there dialing in what’s going on with all the females around?” That comes through probably hard learning.
Let’s go back. When you say you go to the doctor, you have a little bit of weight around your waist, that seems young to me. To be told at 30 years old, “This is the adult sentence.” The seems super young to me. I wouldn’t even think that someone would start talking about that, especially if they didn’t have something going on with their hormones. It’s closer to the end of your 40s.
If you’re doing pretty well overall, you won’t even start to navigate that conversation till a lot later. Let’s say someone male and female, they’re in their 20s and 30s. What are the signs? We have weight gain. Is it low libido? They have a hard time sleeping. What are the things that show up that it’s like, “You might want to get this checked out.”
The biggest difference between men and women is a woman’s menstrual cycle.
Are you sure that’s it?
Pretty much. Let’s talk about women first because that is one of the things. There is a misbelief that women have PMS. Women have painful periods. Women get hormonal acne. That is a myth. Not every woman gets this. If you have these symptoms, there are things you can do naturally to help support them. Maybe you have a genetic predisposition to this. There are things you can do. You don’t have to just suffer through it because you’re a woman. That’s an important thing we talked about in the docuseries. I talked about it in my book.
These are signs, acne, and the things on your skin. Symptoms are a sign that the body is out of balance. They’re not something annoying that we need to get rid of right now by taking an Advil, a birth control pill, or an antibiotic. They’re signs that the body is out of balance. For women, pay attention. What’s going on with this? Especially if it all of a sudden starts up. Why are you suddenly having these issues?
Also, fertility issues are another one that women go through. Men go through fertility issues too but they’re different. A lot of it weighs on women but men contribute to the whole fertility equation. If there are difficulties getting pregnant, we want to look at both the man and the woman and what’s going on with both.
Especially since your testosterone is down, gentlemen. That’s just the way it is. It’s not just that your underwear is tight. They’re fighting it too. You talk about all these toxins and this load in the world that we live in. It’s something to navigate. Also, increasing the right kind of protein at the right time was a great alleviator.
Sometimes we don’t think about how much our food is medicine. It’s crazy to me. Can we quickly talk about hormones in animal protein? Girls maybe get their periods earlier and things like that. We try to eat it well-sourced. I always say we less of it but it’s well-sourced because it’s expensive. How do we help people navigate maybe trying to deal with that?
Thank you for bringing that up because we were talking a lot about plants and pesticide residues. We have to remember that animals eat plants. Whatever pesticides are in what they’re eating are getting concentrated in their milk. That’s where it concentrates. In our bodies, in mammals, it concentrates on sweat. Mammary glands are modified sweat glands. Milk condenses. Dairy products, in particular, are important to get organic.
Can we talk about milk? A lot of people are like, “I get my calcium.” I’m like, “Are you crazy?” “I believe in the food pyramid too.” It’s like, “Really?” If you’re an adult person or just a human being, is there any reason to be drinking? it’s one thing if you milk the cow maybe and you’re getting some of the stuff like enzymes. Who knows what? It’s whole. It’s raw. Do we need it? I’m not against milk. People drink milk thinking it’s somehow good for them and then they get used to it. They grew up drinking it. It’s comforting. Get a chocolate chip cookie and you have milk. You have cereal and you have milk. Do we need it?
This was one of the biggest things when I was a kid. I lived on an organic farm. We had a goat that we milked. It was still a problem for me. It’s a common food allergen. It’s a common issue for people. It’s pro-inflammatory. That triggers more inflammatory pathways in the body. It’s a common food that people react to. It is a problem for a lot of people.
There are some people that do well with it. It is one of the most common trigger foods for skin issues that I do see. It is one that I recommend cutting out to see if it’s an issue for you. There are certain dairy products that might be easier to tolerate like butter or ghee even, which is clarified butter. Sometimes unsweetened yogurt, sheep cheese, or goat cheese could be.
Here’s the thing. Part of what I talk about in Natural Beauty Reset, my book, is a seasonal plan. You’re not eating the same foods every season. Dairy products might be a better thing to eat in the summertime and not the rest of the year because of the cycles that mammals go through when they’re lactating and when they’re eating the grass and the nutrients are getting into their milk. Maybe if we ate a little bit at certain times of the year but not all year round. That goes for all superfoods or what people consider healthy foods. Dairy is one that has gotten this idea that it’s super healthy food. A lot of people are realizing, “Maybe if I go dairy-free for a while, I’ll start to see a difference.” It’s good to see that.
Going back to animal protein, these toxins can accumulate in fat and tissues. It’s getting organic, getting free range, or grass-fed. With grass-fed, what’s interesting is it has more Omega-3s in there. It can potentially be fairly healthy. People tend to overdo it with protein. They tend to eat too much meat, which isn’t necessarily sustainable for our planet and not necessarily particularly healthy. That’s what I see in the research and what I’ve seen with my patients. You got to find the balance of that. Choosing the cleaner versions is essential.
People go on fish because they think, “I’m going to do myself a favor.” Sometimes if it’s the wrong kind, they end up with the other set of issues with high metal and things like that. It’s all a balance and not overdoing it. Can we go to a little bit older now? Let’s go to middle age. I want to encourage people. It’s not a sentence about how your parents are epigenetics, turn things on, turn things off, or whatever. The big narrative as you get older is like, “I’ll watch this because I’m older.” I have an artificial knee. I’ve worked out a lot in my life. There is a price for that. Even within that, you’re always doing new things and doing homework to offset some of the wind up in certain directions.
I believe this also about weight. You will see people, men and women, as they get older, men are concerned about libido a lot and circulation and things like that. It’s all connected. With women and men, it’s the weight. If someone’s reading this and they have accepted like, “This is what happens when you’re pre-menopausal, peri-menopausal, or what have you.” What would be a good starting point to say, “Let’s look at what’s happening.”
Reducing the toxins, the endocrine-disrupting chemicals is part of the process. We want to reduce our exposure. We also want to support our body’s detoxification pathways. That’s one of the things that helped me when I was 30. When we help support our body’s detoxification pathways, when we’re exposed to these endocrine-disrupting chemicals, our body does a pretty good job of eliminating a lot of them. Some of them store up and are harder to get out.
If you do have lingering symptoms after doing your best to reduce and do things on your own, you can go see a naturopathic physician or a functional medicine doctor. Get some testing done to see maybe if you have heavy metals stored in your body, if you’ve got imbalances with your gut microbiome, or if you have dysbiosis. They can do hormone testing to see what’s exactly going on with your hormones. can do more specific treatments.
There are a lot of things that we can do with our food. One of the things I talked about already is eating more fiber. Getting more fiber in your diet helps your bowels, your gut, and your gut microbiome. We can do things also things that help support our liver. Things that boost our glutathione, especially for people who have a genetic predisposition to their liver function not working well. We want to do things that support the liver.
[bctt tweet=”When we build a healthy foundation, transition times tend to be smoother.”]
One of the things I like to do is testing to find out where people are. Everyone’s different and unique. You’ve got the genetic factors and you have all your lifestyle factors. One of these is playing a role. Where do you want to go first? Start with a healthy lifestyle. That’s why I wrote Natural Beauty Reset. These are the basics that everyone can follow and switch up every season. It’s a seven-day program for each season with food, movement, mindset, and skincare. Our needs change with each of these seasons.
Seven days is not enough time for you to change your life completely, especially if you have a chronic disease. Seven days is enough time to start to see a difference. What people usually notice is their sleep is better, they have more energy, and they have more focus. These are some of the things that they noticed early on. Maybe their skin is looking a little bit more vibrant even within seven days. You start to see a difference and feel a difference. It might even be your libido. I’ve seen people start taking things out and start eating healthier and getting a better night’s sleep. Balancing your hormones can improve your sex drive.
If someone has access to a naturopath, you can go and they say, “We can do tests.” At some point, we’ll probably check the gut, we’ll check the hormones. Sometimes this is a daunting undertaking. Our systems are complex, there are a lot of moving parts. Is there a baseline test that you like as a starting point for men and women to start to look under the hood and to know what to ask for?
You can start even with the health care provider that you have. Getting a more comprehensive bloodwork panel, looking at things like your thyroid. We haven’t talked about that but the thyroid is important because it is helping us with our metabolism. It helps us with our energy. It helps us with our weight. There are so many issues.
When you have low thyroid function, tiredness, constipation, weight gain, and hair loss are common symptoms that people have. We’re seeing more and more hypothyroidism and autoimmune thyroid disease. It goes back to a lot to the endocrine-disrupting chemicals. Unfortunately, getting exposed to more of these, we’re seeing more thyroid disease. A lot of people are having those symptoms.
For my patients, I usually do a thyroid panel on everyone because they usually have at least some of those symptoms. Dry skin is sometimes one of the first warning signs. Skin can sometimes be an early warning sign. A thyroid test is a good one but even getting a complete blood count, getting a metabolic panel that looks at your blood sugar, your liver, and kidney function, and your lipid profile. I would add in some lipoproteins so you know your cardiovascular risk. You can also add in some hormones.
In basic bloodwork, a lot of people don’t realize that vitamin D is a pro-hormone. We need vitamin D levels and a good level and a good amount for our hormones to function well. Vitamin D also helps us with our immune system and our skin. Many chronic diseases are associated with low vitamin D levels. Getting a 25-hydroxy vitamin D is an easy thing. Especially when we look at it seasonally, I will change up blood work seasonally. It’s important going into fall and winter to see what your vitamin D levels are.
Hopefully, you built up your store in the summertime with the sun being closer to you. Depending on where you are in the world but more sun exposure with the sun on your skin. If your levels are low going into fall on winter, you might have more issues with your hormones and with your immune system. Checking and being proactive with that is great.
You can also test on bloodwork cortisol, morning cortisol, which is one of your major adrenal hormones. If your morning cortisol is on the low end of the normal range or it’s below the normal range, you’re probably tired in the morning and having difficulty getting up. Cortisol is a great one to check. You can look at estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone.
That being said, if we’ve got somebody that’s aging, they’re already getting older, especially women that are close to menopause or postmenopausal, those numbers are going to be low. We may not necessarily need to test those. Unless someone’s on bioidentical hormones, you might want to be checking to make sure their levels are at appropriate levels.
Let’s say you and I go to a doctor or naturopath. I’m a little bit older than you are. We have similar lifestyles. We’re both pretty healthy. We’re now individually exploring this idea of bioidenticals. For me, the idea of having sustaining energy and being able to perform means training pretty hard. I’m not trying to kill myself in my training but I work hard.
For me, the reason I do it is more because I feel like I put myself in an interesting position by being in a positive, uncomfortable environment. I’m not trying to create drama at my house or pick a fight with someone in the parking lot. That kind of stress, there’s something about that I like. It’s like, “Face that stress. Don’t freak out.” Maybe you’re fortified a little bit.
How do you feel if someone comes to you and wants to explore the bioidentical? What’s the process of knowing, “That seems like a good idea.” If I’m not doing some of the basic stuff like the lifestyle part, do you think you can bandaid it with that? Do you think, “You’re lining up most things and you’re not getting hammered every night on Jack Daniels. Let’s take a look at that.” How do you approach that part of it? It is there and it’s available and we are going to live hopefully a long time.
Bioidentical hormone therapy can be a powerful treatment for people, both men and women. I don’t like it when it’s given without addressing the lifestyle. It’s crucial to address these other areas too. Doing something like what’s in my book like creating that healthy foundation, making sure you’re eating healthy, you’re moving your body, and your digestion is working well. You’re not constipated. You’re not having a lot of symptoms that show that you might have a genetic predisposition to having issues. For most people, if they build that healthy foundation, bioidentical hormones can be helpful. I don’t like people jumping to that and using it as a bandaid. It’s no better than using Advil or something as a bandaid.
“I’m going to get skinny now with those pellets in my butt.”
You’ve got to do the other things too. That’s where you want to individualize it. You and I would be different with what we might want to do with bioidentical hormones. You and I both already live a healthy lifestyle. For someone else, adding them in comparison, they might want to start with some other changes to their lifestyle and some supportive things like supplements, herbs, and other things that can help.
Let’s talk about that for one second. There are some interesting products, herbs, and things that can support hormone health. For men, testosterone, it’s an interesting one. There are a few. Are there any that you’re comfortable sharing about? We’re not talking about 17-year-olds. They don’t need testosterone per se. Things that you think, “These have harmony with people’s systems in supporting their hormones.”
Yes, there are some. Maca is both for men and women. It can be helpful to give you an energy boost and it helps with your adrenal function. That’s a good example. It depends on which hormone we’re talking about. Maca is one across the board that a lot of people benefit from. Let’s say you’ve got issues with your adrenals. We want to look at something like adaptogenic herbs. Ashwagandha and rhodiola are a couple of examples. They’re adaptogenic because they help you with balancing rather than putting a bandaid solution on something that’s helping your body adapt.
For women, for progesterone support, we’re looking at something like chaste tree berry. A lot of women, even in their 30s, their progesterone will start dropping. That means they’re pre-menopausal. A lot of women start to go through perimenopause in their 30s. That’s what was happening to me too. We can help support our bodies naturally by supporting our progesterone. There are some fun ones for testosterone. I love Horny Goat Weed.
I used to tell Laird, “You cannot take any Yohimbe.” He was in his 30s and I was in my 20s and somebody was like, “Yohimbe.” Even the word. I’m scared altogether of Yohimbe. Men love testosterone. What other ones do we know are supportive of them?
What we want to realize is more testosterone is not necessarily better.
Did you tell them that?
The reason why is it can turn into DHT. If it goes down the DHT pathway, they’re going to experience hair loss. That’s one thing men don’t want to have. One of the things too that we’re looking at is it’s great for men to get their levels tested. Looking at your testosterone levels and bloodwork is a good indicator. Do you need more testosterone or is there something else going on? There also can be high stress. If you’re highly stressed and your cortisol is low, your body thinks it’s in a state of fight or flight. What you don’t want to do in a state of fight or flight is procreate.
They always want to procreate. What are you talking about? Biological drive. It’s true. Wild animals don’t do anything that makes them vulnerable out in the open or in a dangerous time. They’re not going to be like, “Let’s have sex.” They don’t even go to the bathroom because it’s vulnerable. It’s an interesting thing.
Stress is a big one and I was going to talk to you about that. Transitional times are stressful. Being a teenager, becoming a young adult, or becoming a parent are stressful times. Is it mid-age? Is it a mid-age crisis that has more to do with stress kicking your health’s ass? All of a sudden, you’re like, “I’ve done this job now. Maybe I’m unfulfilled. I need a change.” There are all kinds of changes that occur once again and it’s uncomfortable. That’s an important thing to bring up to people.
Also, not being of acceptance. If you’re 50 or 60, you’re not 25. It’s the way it is and that’s okay too. Sometimes we get weird about age, time, and things like that instead of celebrating, “Have I acquired new talents? How deep are my relationships? Overall, I’m pretty healthy. I’m going to be grateful for that.” It’s like, “How much hair? How buff are you? What’s your T cell? What’s your count?” I want to remind people that that’s an important part of it.
Let me ask you a question. I think about this as a female. I’m not going to be having any more children. If I adopt, okay. Otherwise, I’m not going to be having more children. I don’t need to be biologically signaling every male that walks by any longer. Sometimes we forget that some of these things, hair flipping, shiny hair, dewy skin, and all of this, this is also a signal to say, “I’m healthy and able to procreate.”
We then get older and we’re like, “I’m invisible.” No, you’re not invisible. You don’t need that exact thing anymore. It doesn’t mean you’re not attractive and beautiful and all these things. We equate that and we keep doing that. It’s like, “Are you planning on having babies right now? You’re 60.” I don’t know why, culturally, it got dropped off that we’re supposed to be that forever.
There are a lot of good questions in there. I feel fortunate. The women and my family have been great role models when it comes to aging. They’re intelligent. They’re engaging. They’ve built up rich lives. As I looked at them as I was growing up, I was like, “Now they’re doing this. Now they’re getting trained in Pilates.” My mom rides her horse almost every day and I’m talking through rivers, over fences, and all kinds of things. She goes into her art studio and she’s painting. I realized that most people don’t have that example.
I do want people to know that, unfortunately, with the role models that we have, we forget that aging can be a powerful thing. It may not be what you see in magazines and stuff at the airbrushed models and stuff like that. It’s an exciting time to be having more wisdom and knowing who you are. I look at wrinkles and I see wisdom. You’ve been laughing and loving life. I like my wrinkles. For other people my age, I don’t want to look older. Also, we need to shift the way that we think about it.
I’m glad you’re asking that question and the way we look at aging. At the same time, I understand. We want that healthy, youthful-looking glow. Also, it is a sign of good health. If we’re aging gracefully, it’s a good sign. Our skin is holding up well and we haven’t been beating it up with sun exposure and exposure to toxins, smoking, drinking, and all of those things. The way that our collagen maintains itself is an outer reflection of the way that the collagen is holding up in our joints, our gut, our hair, and all these places that we need it. We get wrapped up in that forever what this is supposed to look like.
Our heart thinks about it, weird and hard. You’re like, “They are. Let’s not BS around.” It also is natural. There is so much you can do to minimize how brutal it has to be to age. Childbirth and birthing years for men and for women, maybe we could talk about that. That’s a big toll on your body. They say that top to bottom, it’s three years to recover from pregnancy and nursing if people nurse. There are a lot of hormonal changes occurring. Also, even maybe for the men at that time.
Could we visit that time in their life? Let’s say right after. I will say this about pregnancy, you’re going to pay up-front or the back. Every time you have an ice cream craving or pickles with bagels or whatever, the times that you can not do it would probably be better. You’re going to pay out then after the baby. It’s not free, all that stuff that we do.
When you’re nursing, you burn an extra 1,000 calories so you can get away with some stuff. If we’re feeling good and our doctor says it’s okay, the more normal we can behave, we’re going to slow down, the better on our food and things. are there things that you like for men and women? Guys are going through a change as well maybe if they have a new baby?
There’s a lot there that’s important. If we’re already living a healthy lifestyle, it’s going to be probably an easier transition, especially if you’re not having to go off birth control pills and then manage those symptoms. If you haven’t always been living a healthy lifestyle and you’re looking to get pregnant, do what you can to give yourself a little bit of a buffer zone and still use some backup birth control. It’s like, “In six months or maybe in a year, I’m going to start to try.” if you can have that time to get your health back on track, it’s going to be an easier time. It’s going to be easier to get pregnant. You’re going to have an easier pregnancy. Postpartum won’t be as hard. I’ve seen this over and over again.
It’s discouraging that the geriatric pregnancy term is still used for women who get pregnant over 35 years old and older. It’s time to update. Many women are waiting until they’re 35 or older to get pregnant. There’s lots of research showing that you can get pregnant well into your 40s. Some women, they’re in their early 50s getting pregnant with some help usually. We have to realize that we do our best to have these healthy lifestyle choices going into it.
Remember that you don’t just cut back on sugar to lose weight. There are so many issues with eating a high-sugar diet. You’re getting a lot of foods in your diet that cause blood sugar, especially if you have PCOS or diabetes that runs in your family, you have a genetic predisposition, you get your blood work done, and your fasting blood sugar is over 85. That’s one thing that a lot of times doctors don’t flag in their system unless it hits over 100 for fasting blood sugar.
If it’s getting up to 85 and over, you want to start balancing your blood sugar then. You go into pregnancy, you’re at higher risk for gestational diabetes, and you’re more likely to develop these problems. Also, women going into pregnancy have a higher predisposition to developing thyroid problems. Being proactive before you even get to pregnancy if you can. If it’s like, “Today, I’ve decided I want to go for it. I’m 42. I don’t know how much longer I have.” Being proactive is always helpful. Of course, if now’s the time, go for it.
For men, it’s the same thing. Be as healthy as you can before you’re thinking about impregnating your partner. What about after? It’s a different dynamic. Especially when you have a new baby, it normalizes or becomes something different once they’re bopping around. Right when you have a kid, are there things that you see? It’s taken a toll on the mom and then if you’re nursing, that’s great but it’s demanding. Are there things that you like that support people during those times?
We cover a lot of this in the Docuseries, Hormones, Health, & Harmony. We have some of this too. A lot of women stay in the dark about this thinking, “I had a baby. Everything’s supposed to be rosy and beautiful and amazing.” Many women struggle with postpartum. If you understand the changes that your hormones are naturally going through, that will help you realize it’s not just you’re crazy and you’re not alone. If your partner knows too, they can be there to support you.
Looking at your insulin, your blood sugar, your thyroid, and also, what can you do to help support your feel-good neurotransmitters? One of the great things that happen with labor and delivery is we get this boost in oxytocin. I love that hormone oxytocin. The hormone oxytocin is when we get that release during labor and delivery and also during breastfeeding, it helps us bond with our baby. If we don’t have easy labor and delivery or we’re not able to breastfeed the baby, we miss that opportunity for that oxytocin to counteract the effects of some of the other hormones that are shifting, that are dropping our estrogen and progesterone. Having oxytocin can be helpful.
The other ways you can boost oxytocin are through touch, through intimacy. Maybe you’re not ready to have sex but that is one of the ways you can increase oxytocin. Even a massage, a hug, or even being around a pet or a loved one can boost your oxytocin. Looking at other ways that we can help support that. There are sometimes some herbs and nutrients that can help us get through those times. A lot of it has to do with our support system, it’s crucial, and nourishing our bodies with the food that we need to restore. The more we have of that, the faster we can recover physically and emotionally.
Do you have any books you like about certain supportive herbs that are out there that you think are a comprehensive resource by any chance or people or something where they talk specifically?
We talked some about it in the docuseries. Some of the experts that I interviewed for the docuseries are going to be good go-to’s for that. It’s not my particular focus.
If you get a hormone headache, occasionally, if you’re dehydrated or stressed out, and then you’re going to get your cycle, sometimes you can get a headache with that. I’ve gotten a few. Because you talked about essential oils, lavender oil weirdly works if you chill out for a minute and rub a lot of it on your temples and even on the bottom of your feet.
There are so many things we can do that give us relief. Doing a second book, why did you do that? You’re seeing patients all the time. You’re hearing things over and over that you go, “I’m going to write a book. I’m going to put it all in a book and maybe this can help more people.” What were you hearing that you were like, “I’m going to do another book.”
There are many questions about hormones from women. I touched on hormones in my first book, Clean Skin From Within, but I didn’t go into detail about it. When I would get up and give a talk or my patients would come back to me, that was the biggest thing that I got so many questions about, “You mentioned hormones. What about it? There’s thyroid. There are sex hormones. There are all these things.”
In part one of the book, I wanted to lay out some of the root causes that are making us feel the way we feel or look the way we look. No judgment and no shame here. Our skin is an outer reflection of our health. If we’ve got breakouts and things, what’s going on there? Part one is about diving into these root causes. That can also be hormones and neurotransmitters. Explain it in a way that’s easier for people to understand because they’re complex.
I believe that Information is power. If we understand, “When my progesterone is low, that maybe is what’s causing me to not be able to sleep at night.” That might be during your cycle. It might be you’re going into perimenopause. When you understand that, it doesn’t make you feel like you’re crazy and it doesn’t make you feel like you need to go to your doctor and get sleep medication. You need some support for your progesterone. When your cortisol is too high because you’re super stressed and that’s not turning off at night, then your mind is racing and you can’t fall asleep. Maybe it is melatonin. A lot of people turn to melatonin for sleep automatically but there are many other things that impact our sleep.
I started to think, “How can I help explain this to women and help them make the connection?” Most people go and see their doctor and they have to ten minutes maybe if they’re lucky. What the doctor usually wants to do is get them walking out with medication because that’s the way they’re trained to and that’s what most people want, they want to walk out with something.
They don’t have time to ask all these questions like, “What about my sleep? I have this hormonal thing going on.” Understanding this, women can go to their doctor and say, “I might have signs of low thyroid. Can you add that to my bloodwork? I’m curious. When you run that TSH, can you also add in free T3 and free T4?” For most doctors, they’re going to say, “Sure, I can add that in.”
Most of them will. They might push back a little and say, “Your insurance might not cover it. You might have to pay out of pocket for that.” You have to decide, “Is my insurance not going to cover that?” If your doctor says, “No, I’m going to run what I run and you have to listen to me.” It might be time to find a new doctor.
Sometimes those environments are intimidating. It is hard to know what to ask and to stand up for yourself. I want to remind people of that. I want to finish with two things. We were joking about men and testosterone but I do want to encourage men. All the science and performance like when you do performance studies like fasting, for example. You realize, for women, it’s not that great because all the studies are on men. In one weird way, they do studies on men.
In another way, they get ignored too. They’re supposed to suck it up, “You’re tired. You’ve gained an extra five pounds.” They’re not going to be like, “I don’t like this weight on my waist.” That’s not what they do. You realize too that it’s important for them to go in and ask to get these tests as well and it’s okay. It isn’t about like, “I used to be able to lift this and I can’t anymore.” You’re talking about the whole picture of health.
One of those things is libido. That’s always a way more complex thing for women. Naturally, we don’t have as much testosterone. I was reading an interesting article about somebody who was making a transition and started taking testosterone and said, “I used to look at women and think, ‘What book is she reading?’ Now I’m like, ‘I want to have sex with her.’” It’s this powerful hormone in the right way.
Libido is a signal of good health. It’s not about dirty time. This is a signal about where we are. When you have women come to you, we’ll deal with men separately, and say, “I’m not interested.” Do you find that a lot of it is the internal hormone working? As you said, get a new doctor. Maybe you’re not in a good dynamic. A lot of women are dealing with this. The poor partner is like, “She never wants to have sex.”
First of all, I always like to know what people’s goals are and where they are. Are they in a relationship? Is their partner also have low libido? If I’m working with a woman and I help her get her libido up and then her husband’s like, “She wants more than I do.”
Have you ever heard that?
I’ve heard that one time.
I have with my patients. The guy will start coming in too because we’ve got to get them both on the same playing field. Most often, the man still wants to have more sex.
She’s like, “Let’s have more sex.”
You want to have a healthy relationship. It’s part of a dynamic of a healthy relationship. We spent a lot of time in the docuseries talking about sex because a lot of women are like, “I don’t need it anymore.” A lot of those women are missing out. When your sex drive drops, there’s a reason for that. If your partner is wanting it but you’re not willing or able to participate, that’s going to affect your relationship. That’s not what we want.
Having a healthy sex drive is part of being human. We want to look at that. Sometimes we have to look at the history of trauma. We’d see a lot more sexual trauma in women than men. Certainly, it happens to men but a lot more happens to women. If that’s an issue, we have to address that. We can’t even talk about hormones until we address that. We want to look at what’s going on with your hormones.
There are different things. It’s not just her testosterone is slow. It could be that her cortisol is low and is suppressing that. She has low estrogen and she has vaginal dryness so intercourse is painful. We’ve got to address whatever that is. The good news is there are solutions. I do hear that a lot. With women my age and older, take it or leave it. I want to encourage women. How does your partner feel about that? Is this going to be a good thing going forward? A lot of my girlfriends are single so I’m like, “You don’t have a partner.”
You don’t have to look at that face.
What else is going on? Are you also experiencing some muscle loss or bone loss? Those can be signs of low testosterone that are not going to help you down the road. Are you noticing a deterioration in your cognitive function? Low estrogen is related to that too. It’s not just about our sex drive.
I like how you brought it back to cognitive function. That’s good. Also, having sex if you want it or you’re in a place where you have a partner that’s willing to participate, it’s good for your health. Is it not?
Absolutely. Orgasms increase oxytocin and that helps us bond with our partner. It makes us feel happy in the world. It’s a great hormone.
Justin, if you have any questions as a young male, do you have any questions?
It sounds like there’s no easy fix for all of us. It’s just to get tested and then start making small changes.
Be self-aware. It’s also important to understand the elements of stress. Another thing is people live stressful lives and sometimes they don’t even realize it because they’ve grown accustomed to it. If you have the opportunity to go and see someone like you, I would get it all out there because you have a real chance. Stress will kick your ass in a whole interesting and visible way that is important to acknowledge.
In part two of my book, I lay out the seven-day resets for food, movement, mindset, and skincare. Men can follow this too but this was designed more for women. A lot of times, women are the decision-makers for their families. If you get the woman making healthy meals, then the kids will eat them, and her partner will eat them. All of those things will come into place. If she’s exercising and if she’s sleeping better, all of that will help support the household.
There’s so much power in these daily choices that we make. The foods that we eat will nourish our bodies providing us with the nutrients we need to support our hormones, to support our gut health, microbiome, to support our brain health, and movement, moving your body. You know how important exercise is. It helps you feel better mentally, emotionally, and physically. Moving your body in a way that’s comfortable and appropriate for you.
I shift these up for seasons because, in the wintertime, we’re not as motivated. You can do more restorative yoga and different things or build a little home gym in your house so that if you don’t feel like going to the gym. Things like that I mix it up. The mindset helps us shift into these different seasons because we have lower feel-good neurotransmitters in the wintertime. We have higher cortisol levels. We want to make different changes to our stress management. They do make a difference.
I don’t want people to feel like, “I just have to find a doctor and we’ll do all these tests and put me on this plan.” There’s so much that you can do in these different areas to get started. Reduce toxins in your environment and start shifting over to cleaner things, cleaning products, or skincare products. Making these little steps makes a huge difference. I don’t see patients much anymore.
I believe that a lot of this foundation is important to get out there. If more people started with that, it would make a huge impact on the health of our society. If you’re not getting enough relief from that, you can go see a naturopathic doctor or functional medicine doctor to get some more testing and get more individualized treatment. They’re still going to want you to start with a healthy foundation.
You still have to do your part and that’s the thing. What I appreciate about Natural Beauty Reset is you do have it laid out for people. It’s clear. There are the food ideas. All the ideas are laid out. It is seasonal. I live in a warm place but I never expect to be quite as fit in December and January as I am probably in August. The other thing too is being connected to, how long are your days? What environment are you in? How warm is it? How cold is it? that’s an important point. I appreciate the work that you’re putting out there. Dr. Cates, will you remind people of all the places where they can find you?
The best place they can find me is The Spa Dr., TheSpaDr.com. You can also find us on social media. If you want to get a copy of my book, September 13th, 2022 is when it’s out and available in all places where books are sold. If you go to NaturalBeautyReset.com and you put in your order number, we’ll give you a bunch of $500 worth of downloadable bonuses like workbooks and things to support you in using the book. If you get them ahead of time or before you get the book, you can get started. That’s a great place. TheSkinQuiz.com is a place where people can take a quiz and learn more about their skin and how that might be giving them information about their bodies.
When your show comes out, your book will come out the next day. We tried to line it up. People can get it. Finally, is there any last invitation or reminder? You’ve had a lot of contact with people and you’ve had lots of conversations about this and their health. You’ve probably heard it all. I feel like we have the information and we get hit over the head with it all the time. I’m always curious why we’re reluctant or it’s so hard for us to make changes or to do some of these habits. Do you have any invitations or reminders that you would like to say to people?
Sometimes we forget that we’re worth it. We beat ourselves. We come up with excuses. If you first start with your mindset, “I’m worth this,” you can feel so much better. I don’t think people realize how good they can feel. Ideally, we should wake up in the morning feeling refreshed and not have to drink coffee. We can drink coffee because we love the way it tastes. We shouldn’t have to rely upon that.
We should get up in the morning. We should have energy throughout the day and then be able to fall asleep at night without taking sleep medications. We should have energy. We should have the right kind of sex drive in the evenings. That’s ideally what we can have. A lot of people are struggling. They’re drinking more caffeine. They’re taking sleep medications. They’re taking antidepressants realizing that it doesn’t have to be that way and that you are worth it. It is possible.
I encourage people to watch the documentary series that I created. HormoneSeries.com is where people can go. sign up for that. Register your spot. It’s online. It’s free. You get to hear from over 50 different experts, not just me but all the different experts that I interviewed. It’s empowering and motivating. It’s made for women but if you’re a man, you should watch it too, especially if you have a woman in your life that you love, your daughter, your mom, your girlfriend, your wife, or your sister. Watch it for them and help support them on their journey too.
Dr. Cates, I appreciate your time. Thanks for reading, everyone.
Thank you so much for reading this episode. Stay tuned for a bonus episode where I go deeper into one of the topics that really resonated with me. If you have any questions for my guests or even myself, please send them to @GabbyReece on Instagram. If you feel inspired, please hit the follow button and leave a rating and a comment. It not only helps me, it helps the show grow and reach new readers.
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- Dr. Trevor Cates
- Natural Beauty Reset
- Clean Skin From Within
- Count Down
- Hormones, Health, & Harmony
About Dr. Trevor Cates
Dr. Trevor Cates is author of the USA Today bestselling book Clean Skin From Within and founder of The Spa Dr. natural skincare line. She was the first woman licensed as a naturopathic doctor in the state of California and was the doctor in several world-renown spas in Park City, Utah. She continues to help women from around the world with a focus on skin and hormones. She has been featured on various TV shows, including The Doctors and Extra TV. Dr. Cates is host of the Hormones, Health & Harmony Docuseries, The Woman’s Doctor Podcast, and the PBS show, Younger Skin From Within.
Her next book Natural Beauty Reset: The 7-Day Program to Harmonize Hormones and Restore Radiance is now available for preorders on Amazon and hits bookstores in September 2022. Dr. Cates’ goal is to inspire and empower women to find the keys to harmonize their hormones and open their eyes to their natural beauty. Their beauty has always been there. Sometimes we just need a guide to help illuminate the path.