Meet Dr. Natasha Turner, a Naturopathic Doctor and founder of Clear Medicine, an integrated medicine wellness boutique in Toronto, who recently authored a ground-breaking wellness tome called The Hormone Diet: Lose Fat, Gain Strength, Live Younger Longer. Trust me: This is no diet book — it’s a clinical series of revelatory lifestyle changes based on the hormones that your body naturally produces (or doesn’t produce enough of, as the case may be), many of which will likely be very new to you, no matter how healthy you think you are. Soon, Dr. Turner will begin contributing weekly posts to Blisstree about health, wellness, Naturopathic Medicine, and how our hormones can help us (and we in turn can help our hormones). But in the meantime, I asked her a few questions about her very intriguing “non-diet” diet book.
For our readers who haven’t read it yet, can you briefly explain what The Hormone Diet means?
The whole concept of The Hormone Diet is simple: Your ability to lose or maintain your weight is determined by your hormones. They control every single aspect of weight loss — your cravings, your appetite, how well your burn fat, and even where you store it. This means that any hormonal imbalance may prevent you from losing weight and keeping it off. This is, in fact, how stress, sleep deprivation, and environmental toxins affect our weight; it’s because they influence our hormones. Sustained weight loss is no longer just about diet and exercise. So the old formula of calories in (diet) minus calories out (exercise) is no longer valid. Hormonal balance plus the difference in calories is the new, true, formula for weight loss and lasting health. But the problem is that 80-90% of adults are hormonally imbalanced.
Whoa. Okay, I’ve read The Hormone Diet and filled out the Hormonal Health Profile within its pages. Of the many categories you include, one of the symptoms of a hormonal imbalance involving low melatonin, low growth hormone, low serotonin, and excess cortisol is “failing to sleep in total darkness” or “failure to sleep in pitch black.” What are the health-related ramifications of not being able to sleep in total darkness?
Failing to sleep in total darkness prevents the release of melatonin, the hormone that allows us to go into deep sleep. Without the release of melatonin, our body also fails to release growth hormone, which is the primary hormone of repair and recuperation that rebuilds our bones, skin, and muscles as we sleep. Growth hormone also increases fat burning while we sleep. So if you sleep properly (in pitch-black darkness, etc., according to the rules I describe in my book) – you’ll maximize the fat-burning and invigorating qualities of sleep.
I’m ordering my blackout shades immediately. Now, you’re a Naturopathic Doctor. I don’t know anyone whose M.D. (including my own) has ever brought up the idea of hormonal balance as it relates to nutrition, exercise, stress management, sleep issues, and chronic disease management as you do. Are your theories and ideas that radical, or is Western mainstream medicine simply too tethered to the pharmaceutical industry to care about alternative methods of healing?
Not sure that they’re too tethered to the pharmaceutical industry; I just really believe that very few M.D.s are thinking big-picture. When I sat down to write The Hormone Diet and began my research, I was literally overwhelmed at just how many things affect our hormones. I realized that you need to think about all the information you take in from your five senses, as well as be aware of the thoughts you think – in addition to considering the health and function of your liver/GI tract. (All of which, by the way, are influenced by your diet, exercise, sleep, etc.) Because all of these influence your hormones in truly dramatic ways.
In your Treatment Pyramid to create hormonal balance, you give specific suggestions for individuals depending on their specific Hormonal Health Profile results, which include reducing inflammation, decreasing insulin, increasing dopamine, reducing estrogen, etc. Your treatment plans involve taking a lot of supplements (magnesium, evening primrose oil, angelica, zinc, vitamin C, passionflower, gaba, B vitamins, and lots of others that I can’t pronounce). This could get expensive very quickly. You say in your book that a person needn’t/shouldn’t take every supplement on the lists, but does a person need to be independently wealthy to follow a regimen like The Hormone Diet?
No! You can positively influence your hormonal balance by your very next meal or by your sleeping habits tonight. Sleeping is free, exercise can be free, and foods can be economical! In many cases, supplements do become necessary because of the degree of the hormonal imbalance, but you can make significant health-related changes with the basic lifestyle suggestions I outline in the book.
What’s the biggest misconception you think many people have about the body’s hormones in terms of their function and how they relate to our overall health?
People hear the word “hormone” and they think: Women and menopause. The reality is that we all have hormones – and 99% of the people out there have no idea that these hormones are controlling almost everything that’s happening in their body and mind from one minute to the next. I truly believe that if you can control your hormones, you will have grasped the secret to aging well and feeling your best every day.
Dr. Natasha Turner (pictured at left) is one of Canada’s leading naturopathic doctors and natural health consultants. Bright, energetic and practicing what she preaches, her goal is to inspire others to make positive lifestyle choices in order to enjoy healthier lives. Her passion for promoting wellness, fitness and integrated medicine makes her a sought-after speaker for corporations, the public and the education of other medical professionals.