What Your Brain is Really Hungry For

What Your Brain is Really Hungry For

By Dr. Justin Marchegiani

Alzheimer, dementia, and other neurodegenerative diseases are on the rise. Many people are under the impression that these diseases happen when you’re older, in your 60s, 70s, 80s… but this belief is wrong. Brain damage and deterioration actually starts when you’re young, in your 20s and 30s. It is only once enough damage has occured and symptoms start to show that a diagnosis is made.

How might a young person be causing such damage to their brain that they could end up with Alzheimer’s or other similar diseases? There are a few common patterns:

1) Insulin resistance: in some circles insulin resistance is even being referred to as Type III diabetes!

2) Autoimmunity: which can drive neurodegeneration in the brain.

3) Environmental toxicity: including heavy metals like aluminum, mercury and lead.

Today we’re going to be focusing on the effects of insulin resistance and its role in neurodegenerative diseases. Insulin is a hormone your pancreas creates that allows your body to use glucose (sugar and carbs) for energy. Insulin resistance is what happens when you consume too much sugar and carbohydrates, and your body stops reacting to insulin.

How does this relate to the brain? Well, it is a scientific fact that while the brain only represents about 5% of our body weight, it consumes nearly 25% of our nutrition and oxygen. When you consume too much sugar and carbohydrates, you become insulin resistant. Insulin resistance keeps the glucose trapped in the bloodstream and unable to be used for energy. Your brain becomes less and less capable of utilizing the glucose found in sugar and carbs for energy, and your begins to starve. If the brain is starving for glucose, the fuel needed to power our higher brain function is no longer accessible.

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Hearing that these diseases can start if your brain is starving for glucose might lead you to believe that you should just consume more glucose, right?  It’s important to remember that excess glucose is what started this whole problem in the first place. Excess glucose in the blood is what caused insulin resistance, and also causes something called AGES(advances glycation end products). AGES are free radical magnets that damages our DNA, accelerate aging, and even cause wrinkles.

What the most up to date research is showing is that our brain can adapt to burning fat or ketones for energy. Essentially 80% of our brain can run off of ketones, so other areas that were perhaps starving now have access to a new fuel that can bring to life parts of the brain that may have been asleep.  One of the most popular fats that are being used are MCTs (medium chain triglycerides), which are abundantly found in coconut oil. These fats are unique because they are easily digested and converted into ketones which become brain food rather quickly.

Next time your sitting down to a meal, it’s a wise choice to avoid the excess sugar and refined junk and eat organic whole foods, especially vegetables, healthy fats, and proteins.  The solid portion of your brain is 70% fat, so make sure you get an extra serving of healthy grass-fed meat, wild salmon, and coconut oil. This will help your brain function at the highest level possible and help prevent the occurrence neurodegenerative disease in your future.

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Blood Sugar | Podcast #194

Welcome to another functional medicine podcast with Dr. J and Evan Brand! This video talks about blood sugar, and other relevant things revolving around it, such as symptoms, Insulin resistance, Cortisol response, and nutrition. Stay watching for additional information about the benefits of fasting and the influence of the gut to the body’s blood sugar.

To effectively listen to what the body needs, knowledge is essential for knowing why it’s doing what it’s doing, so keep subscribing for more videos. Don’t forget to share!

Dr. Justin Marchegiani

In this episode, we cover:

01:12  Mood, Blood Sugar, Insulin Resistance and Fasting

06:43  Total Fasting Benefits

11:00  Gut Influences Blood Sugar

18:50  Precautions in Taking Antibiotics

22:00  A1C Test


Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Hey, guys. It’s Dr. Justin Marchegiani here. Welcome back to the podcast. Evan. Evan Brand, my friend, how are we doing today?

Evan Brand: I’m doing great, man. I’m excited to chat with you. We came up with the idea of chatting about blood sugar. It’s a low hanging fruit that people still don’t dial in, but yet they want a Silver bullet to fix their problems but their blood sugar is still not addressed. It’s like, you can’t skip that and go to this magic supplement if you want to be truly happy and healthy.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah. I mean, the whole goal of blood sugar stability is not relying on your hormonal system to buffer the high’s and low’s, right? Blood sugar goes too high, right— the pancreas has to come out and drop it down. Blood sugar gets too low, the adrenals have to come out and punch in some adrenaline or cortisol to bring it back up. Maybe even a tiny bit of Glucagon, right? So, you get these hormonal roller coasters where your hormones— like, imagine— Let me just— Let’s say this. Like you’re driving a bumper cart, right? But you’re driving it so smooth that you’re not bouncing off the ends, right? So, most people, they basically pinball or bumper cart their blood sugar through the day, and they’re chronically relying on their hormones for either side. The problem is, there’s implications, and in your mood and how you feel, and in your body when you do that. When you bump on the Left Rail— Let’s call that Left Rail Insulin, that’s gonna increase Insulin, which can then drive and grow your fat cells. And they can also, for females, increase risk of PCOS. It can also cause cells to grow at an abnormal rate ‘cause Insulin’s a growth hormone, i.e. cancer cells. There’s an inflammatory nature to higher or Hyperinsulinemia type of uh— environments because of cells growing, and because of inflammation, and because of the fact that high Insulin tends to shut down the lipolytic enzymes. Lipolytic means the enzymes that break down fat and utilize it for fuel. So then now you become basically relying on sugar for fuel. So this is the analogy of going camping and starting a fire with twigs and paper, and you’re literally feeding the p— twigs and paper in all night long. You can’t even go to sleep because the fire keeps on going out and then you freeze. So we want to rely on foods that allow us to drive down the center of this bumper cart aisle and not have to crash on each side, and then deal with the hormonal issues that may happen because of it.

Evan Brand: Yup. So, tell people what that would be like. These are like the banana and cereal breakfast people.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah. So, number one is starting your day with a whole bunch of refined carbohydrates. My— My belief, based on physiology, is we have the our higher levels of Cortisol in the morning. So, we naturally have more mobilization of carbohydrate in our liver from our liver from a Gluconeogenesis or from just mobilizing glycogen in the liver or glycogen in the muscle. So we have more internal sugar in our bloodstream just because of our cortisol levels. So my philosophy is to consume less carbohydrate in the morning at higher quality protein and fat that keep that fat from the nighttime moving, and instead of having fasting, it’s kind of like a nutritional Ketosis where we’re putting nutrition in our body but our body’s still tapping in to our fat reserves, kind of like a starvation state. The difference is, with adequate nutrition our body’s more likely to tap in to the food in our bloodstream versus our muscle tissue in our lean structural mass.

Evan Brand: Yup. And with mood— I want to bring that up. You may be hungry by 10:00 AM and you’re not able to go in between meals. Like, if you’re— if you’re listening, if you’re unable to go from breakfast to lunch and you have to snack in between, that’s a sign that your blood sugar is off. Other signs, we could say, irritable, if you’re shaky, if you get stressed out, you get hangry if your meals are delayed. That’s a sign that blood sugar is off. You mentioned the Insulin pee. So that could be excess body fat if you’re Insulin resistant. What else would you like to add to the list of symptoms? Anxiety, I know, is a big one that which—

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Anxiety and mood issues. Because of that those bumper cart rails— It’s like the third rail on the sub— on the subway, right, where it’s— there’s like, you get shocked, instead you get depression, you get mood issues. If you’re a female on the high Insulin side, you could get PCOS. As a guy, you’re gonna increase Aromati— uh— Aromatization, which is more Estrogen. And you could get, kind of Comastia, man boobs, just you know, moody or more emotional because guys shouldn’t have that amount of Estrogen in, so it really screws up their hormonal physiology, and that can cause all kinds of different issues. And, you know, just to kind of like outline it, like we want to eat foods that are nutritionally dense but we want to continue to keep our body in more of a fat burning state as a— as a overall percentage, right? And there’s a lot of people out there pushing a lot of fasting or Intermittent fasting or just fasting in general, and it’s like, there’s no magic in eating nothing. There’s no magic in it. Now, there’s some therapeutic benefit. The problem is, most people that are significant Insulin resistant, you’re typically not Insulin resistant from eating a whole bunch of nutrient dense foods. You’re typically Insulin resistant because there’s too much— you know, too much carbohydrate, and especially from refined, processed types of foods. So there’s not gonna be a magic in “Okay. Let’s cut the carbs down by giving you nothing” because you’re still also not providing the nutrients to run those pathways at the same time. So you have one side of the fence where you’re eating a whole bunch of calories that are driving— that are processed and that are driving Insulin resistance. Those calories have also high calories, low nutrition. And now the  magic is, “Let’s eat nothing,” which also has no nutrition. Now, the benefit is, there’s also a lot of inflammatory compounds in these foods.

Evan Brand: Yeah.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: So people do get benefit because the inflammation does go down, because no— nothing has no nutritions but it also has no inflammation. It also doesn’t have anti-inflammatory foods on the other side. So, we’re missing the nutritional density. We’re missing the anti-inflammatory nutrients and the anti-inflammatory fats, the Omega-3’s, the antioxidants— those kind of things as well. So, my thing is, let’s get the— let’s get the nutrition in there. Get the blood sugar stabilized so we’re snot bouncing off these third rails that are causing all these hormonal swings and emotional mood issues.

Evan Brand: So, it sounds like you’re saying you want to graduate someone up to maybe an Intermittent fasting plan. You might not just take somebody that went from eating garbage to straight Intermittent fasting. But they hear about Intermittent fasting ‘cause it’s trendy, so they don’t go and dial in blood sugar first. They’re just like, “I’m gonna go fast. I’m gonna get off McDonald’s or whatever garbage and go fast,” and they wonder why it doesn’t work. Is that what you’re saying?

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yes, a hundred percent, as we need nutrition around our system. And there’s lots of people out there that are promoting just total fasting, and there’s a lot of people out there that I respect and I like, and I get where they’re coming from. Let— Let’s go over the total fasting benefits.

Evan Brand: Yeah

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: One, if you’re massively Insulin resistant, yes it can help. The difference is, well, you’re still not putting the nutrition in your body to run those systems. If we look at glycolysis and our Krebs cycle and Electron Transport Chain, it requires nutrients to run. So, my— my philosophy is, let’s get those nutrients in there. Number two, there’s a benefit because you’re not eating a whole bunch of inflammatory glutinous foods that may have a lot of in— inflammatory reactions ‘cause those foods aren’t good themselves. My thing is though, “Let’s try to get the nutrition in, and let’s also cut the inflammation out as well.” The third thing is that someone’s gut’s really, really, really messed up, that’s— it could be helpful ‘cause then you just dope anything in which can let the gut heal a bit.

Evan Brand: Uhmhm—

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Now, my thing is, there are other types of diets out there, like the GAPS Diet, or even an extreme kind of elemental kind of GAPS diet where you’re still getting nutrition in but you’re using cooking and processing methods to pre-break down those foods and nutrients so they’re much easier to take in to the body. So there’s— this tends to be a couple of different ways where you can parse this out and try to make it work.

Evan Brand: Yeah. more people think, too, that the fasting is gonna cure everything, but as you mentioned, you’ve got to have these different amino acids. These are creating neurotransmitters that are creating hormones. So, fasting is a stress. It’s a good stress but some people may be too weak for it. So you mentioned the adrenals already but, I know I found, for me, when my adrenals were wrecked, and I try to do Intermittent fasting, I did not feel well. I was sleeping horribly. I had anxiety throughout the day. So for me, I would say, the— the disclaimer amy be, “If you have adrenal stress, you may be unable to adapt to this fasting protocol.”

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: One hundred percent. So, number one, fasting is a stressor on the body. Right? We know it’s a stressor ‘cause our body will produce hormones to downregulate our metabolism. Just go type in Hypocaloric diet and Reverse T3.

Evan Brand: Yeah.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: You’ll see Reverse T3 levels go up. You’ll also see even Cortisol levels go up. Why is Cortisol levels going up? Because your body is trying to start breaking down structural tissue, muscle, etc., to get nutrition from it. It’s like, you know, you’re in debt. What’s the first thing you do when you’re in debt? Let’s cut the phone bill. Let’s cut the cable. Let’s, you know, maybe cut down on that, you know, the— the superfluous, extra expenses that aren’t— you know fundamental. What your body sees muscle is kind of that extra IPhone expense. It sees it as maybe the takeout food from the— you know, from the Sushi restaurant down the street. It sees it like that. Now, we know muscle has really great effects in performance and aesthetic and overall health, so we just make sure that income’s coming in so we can sustain it, right?

Evan Brand: Yup. That’s a great analogy. Another thing too is the Cortisol’s probably a motivating factor, ‘cause in ancient times, if you weren’t eating, your body thinks, “eventually you’re gonna starve and die.” So it’s probably gonna motivate you and maybe give you a little bit of the anxiety to push you like, “Hey. You better go hunt because you can’t just be starving like this all the time.” So, uh— There are benefits, but—

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: One hundred percent. So like— There’s like one camp that’s like— that’s fast their way to health. There’s no magic. It ain’t nothing.

Evan Brand: Right.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Right? If that’s the case, you know, every concentration camp victim in World War II would have the secret to health. That’s just not that way, right?

Evan Brand: Yup.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Now, there’s therapeutic benefits once you hit optimal health, and this is where most people in the podcast— they won’t get this far to hear it uh— because they’ll just see the title and just run. But once you hit the level of optimal health, that’s where you can play with uh— Intermittent fasting. I prefer Intermittent fasting more because you’re still getting adequate levels of nutrition to run those pathways. You’re just compressing the feeding window. Right? If you need 2,000 calories of whole food nutrition but you’re choosing a six to 8-hour window to get that in, well, great! So then, you get this 18-hour window where there’s very relatively low levels of Insulin, which can then help increase cellular autophagy, which then can help recycle proteins and have maybe some benefits in extending telomere length. I get that. Right? But let’s get to a place where you can do that and still function, and your nutritional density is super, super high.

Evan Brand: Yep. Well said. Is there anything else we should say about blood sugar? The gut influences blood sugar too. We do find it with a lot of people with gut infections, which is something we test everyone for, with parasites, bacterial overgrowth, etc. Kind of like this fasting thing you’ve mentioned. Some of these gut bugs are stealing your amino acids. Lyme and some of the coinfections with that can take amino acids too. So, if you do have gut bugs, that may be part of the reason why your blood sugar is crap. SO if you’re trying to do adrenal stuff, you’re trying to do fasting work and you can’t adjust, you’ve got to get the gut looked at too.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: One hundred percent. Right? So a lot of these, let’s just say, uh— microbes or infections, they like processed sugar. Processed sugar is really easy for our body to— to process, right? It’s really easy to take in and to utilize it for energy, and it’s— it’s kind of has its addicting-like effect that can boost up Dopamine. So these critters get that and they produce chemicals inside your body that causes you to crave it. So— That’s why I see a lot of people like, “Oh! Well, just eat what you like and do this, and listen to your body.” O— How do you do that? How do you do that if you have infections or yeast overgrowth or bacterial overgrowth, and these critters are causing you to crave certain things that may not be right for you but may be right for them. That’s where knowledge needs to come in so you understand why your body’s doing what it’s doing. It’s like these uhm— like the metabolic typing questionnaires of like uhm— you know, the 2000’s, where I use that people do these metabolic typing questionnaires, which are great! And you find out if you’re a protein type, a carb type or a fat type. The problem is, the— the pi— the patient’s gut microbes would take the test for them, not necessarily them. [laugh]

Evan Brand: Exactly. I mean, if I ate what I felt like eating when I had a Candida overgrowth, I would ate gluten-free doughnuts all day.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah! So there needs to be an educational component there, and I think a lot of people kind of mess that one up, and they kind of get more kind of intuitive on it. But it’s good to have that. But you’ve got to be in a— in a balanced place to use your intuition if not the chemicals, uh— or the— the microbes in our body will produce things that will cause us to override that.

Evan Brand: Yup. Is there anything else we should mention on— on the blood sugar conversation?

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Oh, yeah. So [stutters] I’m like the analogy king, right? That’s kind of like, you know, you meet someone for the first time. The first couple months, or maybe six months to a year, you’re in this massive honeymoon phase, right? And you just— Everything is just amazing, right? It’s kind of like that with these kind of infections. They’re just— They’re keeping you on this honeymoon phase with all these carbohydrates and all these excess refined sugar, and you may not be able to listen to what your body really needs.

Evan Brand: Yup. Yup. That’s for sure. So get tested. If you have gut bugs, fix those. If you have adrenal issues, fix those because it’s tough. It’s tough to stabilize blood sugar if you have adrenal stress. Like you said, your adrenals can come in and pinch hit. But if you have weak adrenals, you’re getting shaky, you’re having panic attacks, you go to your psychiatrist and you tell them you’re having anxiety issues. How many times are they gonna mention blood sugar?

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: It’s very rarely mentioned. And then also, the— the nutrient density aspect too, right? So, plants are great. Plants aren’t quite as nutrient dense. The only exception for that is if you juice them.

Evan Brand: Yeah.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Right? Five hundred calories of Kale is 16 cups of Kale. Very hard to do that in a day, let alone a sitting. Five hundred calories of grass-fed beef is eight ounces of meat. When I go to a Steakhouse, I’m putting down a 60-ounce steak, not an 8-ounce…

Evan Brand: [laughs]

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: …steak. Alright? That’s not a problem. Try putting down 16 cups of Kale.

Evan Brand: Oh my God. Let me mention this while you’re on that topic. I ha an—

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Now, [crosstalk] I’ll drink— I’ll drink some green— green veggie juice that’s got six or seven pounds of vegetables juice in there.

Evan Brand: Yeah.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: But I’m not gonna— I’m not gonna uhm— dilute myself, thinking that I’m gonna have 16 cups of Kale on an actual plate today.

Evan Brand: yeah. Since you mentioned it, let me bring it up. I had a new client…

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.

Evan Brand: …last week. Uh— She’s been a Vegan for two years, and guess what? She just got diagnosed with Type-2 diabetes.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: That’s the problem with Vegan Vegetarian diets. Thay work fo— And again, I’m not an “all or nothing” guy.

Evan Brand: Yeah.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I can say who these diets are great for. People that are more Insulin sensitive, they’re more ectomorph. They tend to like— They take in carbohydrates. They get this propensity to want to exercise and do work, and they— and they love the longer distance exercise. They do well with it. They tend to have uhm— you know, this ectomorph kind of longer skinnier type of body type. They burn fuel really well. They do pretty good with the higher carbohydrates as a percentage, right? Sixty-70%, they do well with it, right— which is kind of the percent of carbohydrates in the food pyramid. Kind of interesting. So they do well with that, right? And, you know, a lot of the good ones, like ____[15:25]. A lot of times to— to keep the muscle on, they have to do some kind of supplemental protein. So do— they’ll do like a pea protein or a hemp protein. They’ll do a high quality protein that doesn’t have all the crap on it too, and they won’t rely in a lot of the soy. So that’s kind of how they get away with it. But people that are more Insulin sensitive, it’s hard to get adequate levels— I’m sorry. The people that are more Insulin-resistant, it’s hard to get adequate levels of protein out of Vegan vegetarian diet. If you do the Math, and you put like the rice and the beans and all that stuff in there, it’s hard to get less than 300 grams of carbohydrate a day and get that half a gram to the quarters of a gram per uh— of protein per pound of body weight. So you’re looking at 300 grams of carbs a day.

Evan Brand: That’s crazy. I know I had her run some of her numbers and it was close to that. I asked her like, “What’s your breakfast, lunch, dinner?” It was just vegetables and pretty much beans like every meal. I was like, “Good Lord!”

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, and if you’re do— if you’re doing 2,000 calories, and you’re doing, you know, 300 grams a day, that’s 60% carbohydrate.

Evan Brand: So her A1C level was a 6.7. So, right there, type-2 diabetes, and she’d been promoted a Vegan diet by some nutritionist, and she tried it. And two years ago, she was eating tons tons of uh— chicken and pastured turkey and blah-blah-blah kind of more Paleo template. She felt great. But this lady says, “I promise you’re gonna feel so much better if you do Vegan.” They just started to feel terrible, hair was falling out. The lady said, “Just keep going. Just keep going.” And then now, just last week or the week before, got the diagnosis type-2 diabetes and reach out to me. And I said, the first thing you could do, let’s add in some animal protein just a little bit, just to see how you feel, like half a palm size portion of chicken. She’s like, “Oh my God! Just the idea of meat again sound so good to me. I already feel more relaxed thinking about it.” So it’s like—

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yup. People tend to lose the craving of meat because they don’t process it and digest it. And then the Vegan Vegetarians, the— they compare the nutrient density. They— they do it uhm— fraudulently because they compare an unrealistic amount of vegetables that someone would eat in a meal…

Evan Brand: Yeah.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: …or even in a day, to a realistic amount of meat that someone could eat in a meal. Eight ounces of meat’s pretty realistic. Even my wife will have an eight ounce fillet at a nice Steakho— Steakhouse and she’ll be able to eat it, and she’s relatively small, right? But putting down 16 cups of Kale is quite difficult. The only exception is— is if you do some juicing.

Evan Brand: Yup. Yeah. Powders. There are some like greens powders…

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Powder is what?

Evan Brand: …I don’t know.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: But still— I mean, that still you’re kind of processing that in too, and you’re not getting some of that fiber, and, God forbid, you had some carrot to that, then you— you’re adding a lot of sugar as well. So you got to be careful with that. That’s a double-edged sword.

Evan Brand: Yeah. We had a question about the type of the gut testing. UH— We do a couple different ones. The ones we use a lot i the GI Map from Diagnostic Solutions. You could check out Justin’s site. You could get testing there. Uh— We run that on everybody and it’s really, really good ‘cause it’s DNA-based, so it’s gonna find infections. You do it at home.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: One hundred percent. I love it. Any other questions that we can pull here that are pertinent to today’s talk? So guys, if we’re doing a podcast, we always appreciate keeping the questions uhm— you know, try to tangentially associate  them towards the talk. And I get it. We don’t label our talks. We are like functional medicine improv, right? You see comedy improv actors. We’re functional medicine improv uh— professionals, so we don’t— we don’t typically plan things out too far and ahead. So I— I get it. It’s a little spontaneous.

Evan Brand: Yeah. Tho—

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Anything else, Evan, you can…

Evan Brand: Well…

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: …see there?

Evan Brand: …there was one question that we could hit on uh— just because it— it tied into the gut a bit. “If you must take an antibiotic, what precaution should one take to protect gut health?” I would say, first, if you must take an antibiotic, who says you must take one? Like, I believe I just had Strep Throat over the weekend. My wife looked at the back of my throat. It was yellow and white. It looked nasty. It sure felt like Strep. My throat was hurting, and I’m just doing high-dosed herbs, different types of antimicrobials. If I would have went to a doctor, they would have put me on antibiotics. So I think, first, you have to really evaluate. If you must take an antibiotic, is that for real? Like, are you gonna die if you don’t or are there herbs that you can integrate into it?

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah. Find out the scenario and— and if there’s an option to do like an oil of Oregano, or Silver, great. If for some reason, whatever that scenario is— let’s say, it’s a car accident, right? Or let’s say, you know, someone’s doing a procedure for you and saying, “You have to o antibiotics and if you don’t take it, I’m not gonna treat you.” Right? Then, I would look at doing probiotics during and after. And there’s some benefit in the research, too, actually doing it uh— during as well. So, just kind of keep that in the back of your head.

Evan Brand: Yeah. Justin’s selling different probiotics. I do too. You could just check at our sites, justinhealth.com. He’s got several. Evanbrand.com, I got several. We use professional healthcare companies to make all of our products. So you want to make sure that they’re legit. If you just go to Whole Foods and you buy a probiotic, we can’t guarantee the potency of it. You definitely want to go for practitioner grade for probiotics.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Cool. And then—

Evan Brand: That was—

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: And then I see uh— a question from a patient here. I’ll answer the uh— the question here. Uh— “Heavy eyes, headaches, fatigue, brain fog, currently taking Thyrobalance— two morning, one in the afternoon. PMS, increase in cycle length shortened but the menstruation longer, estrogen problem, so it depends. This patient, I can remember last time we chatted was doing pretty good. So the question is, “Was there a backslide or not?” If there was a backslide, I want to like dig a little bit deeper into stressors or diet stuff. Uhm— But we may want to put like an Adaptogen in there. And I— I don’t have this person’s protocol up in front of us so…

Evan Brand: Yeah.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: …maybe some Estrogen-modulating types of herbs like some Maca. I use a product called Femmenessence that I get great results with. And then, of course some adaptogenic adrenal support. Then, make sure all the foundational stuff is dialed in. But I can’t go any deeper without, you know, uhm— doing a one-on-one but I hope that helps.

Evan Brand: Maybe some liver stuff too, like sometimes with the…

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Uhmhm—

Evan Brand: …cycle being off. Sometimes it’s just— you could throw a little, simple liver support in, a milk thistle, burdock root, dandelion— something like that— maybe some dandelion tea. It’s in that category— stuff that might help and can’t hurt.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, and then this person’s also mentioning that they started some GI Clearing, some gut killing herbs as well. The liver, the immune system, and lymphatic system could be a little bit stressed, so couple things you can do like a 3-7 days supplement holiday. Kind of come off for three to seven and rev back up slowly. Also, make sure binders are in there, like uh— activated charcoal or some bentonite clay. And then we can always put the ginger tea in there, and just kind of gradually in— you know, inch it up slowly, just so you can— if— if there’s uh— a p— basically, a point of no return where these things start. You can at least figure out where that point is and then just err on one side away from it.

Evan Brand: Yep. I think that’s good advise.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah. Awesome. Great.

Evan Brand: [crosstalk] I think we’re out of time.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: …for the great feedback. Excellent and I think we had a great chat today, Evan. Is there anything else you wanted to mention at all or add?

Evan Brand: Uh— Just get— get your— get your A1C tested. Like if you are concerned about blood sugar, if you’ve got Type-2 or Type-1 Diabetes in your family and you’re kind of paranoid about blood sugar, you could go to a pharmacy. They have a test kit called A1C now, and you can get a test kit for like 20 bucks and it’s a simple finger prick you can do at home to test your A1C, which is like your average blood sugar over the last couple to several months. And you could check it. I mean, you could have a— a doctor run this— you know, via blood too. But you could just do an at-home finger prick if you’re curious. And I know Justin has a glucose monitor. He tracks his blood sugar, and— Hey! There it is.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Right here. So— A nice little 20-dollar glucose monitor. Do a functional glucose tolerance test, not the conventional one where they give you 75 grams of a— a sugary solution. Because if you’re not like a so— a soda drinker, uhm— it doesn’t mimic anything in reality. Right? So, 20-dollar guy, gets some strips. Test your fasting. Uh— Do a fasting, one-hour, two-hour, three-hour. Choose a random breakfast, a random lunch and a random dinner during the week. Sometimes people can, like I mentioned earlier, they can mobilize a lot of carbohydrate ‘cause of the healthy Cortisol response. So, your blood sugar in the morning may not necessarily be high because of your diet. It may be high because of a Cortisol response, which is known as the Dawn Phenomenon or the Somogji effect. Very, very similar. One’s because of a hypoglycemic response. One’s ‘cause of a adrenaline Cortisol response that kind of cause the same thing, just the different— a different domino starts uh— the reaction but the results are pretty similar.

Evan Brand: Yeah. Yeah. So uh— The functional testing, what number are you looking for?

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Uhm— So below a hundred uhm— on the fasting side. You know, 80 to 90 is ideal but below a hundred. And then, within one hour below 140, my preferred is 120. And then two hours uhm— below 120 or my preferred is below a hundred. And then three hours, definitely below a hundred back to around a fasting level. [crosstalk] That kind of gives you a window because most people, you know, during the day, they’re being challenged by the food they’re eating, and that’s what’s driving the Insulin resistance. That’s also the x-factor because Insulin resistance can also be driven by not sleeping enough.

Evan Brand: Yeah.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: So, the sleep aspect is there. Lots of studies on college students. They were, within two weeks of sleep restriction, they were able to make them prediabetic.

Evan Brand: Oh my God.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: So sleep resistance, and then why, right? Well, part of it could be because there is research that sleep deprivation can deplete Magnesium. Magnesium’s very helpful for blood sugar as well. So there’s lots of potential. And then also the Cortisol response. Cortisol then mobilizes more blood sugar ‘cause of the stress that’s happening from the mild sleep. So there’s like a hormone response that can cause it, and then there’s the stress that depletes certain nutrients and these nutrients are also important for blood sugar stability. So it happens in a couple of different angles.

Evan Brand: Yep. I’m sure we could chat further but we should probably wrap it up. So check out, if you want a consult with Justin, check out his site, justinhealth.com. If you like to consult with me, evanbrand.com. We look forward to helping you guys, and we’ll be back next week for some more fun.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Give us a thumbs up. Give us a like. YouTube— Subscribe is not enough for YouTube. You got to hit the— the bell button. So smash that bell for us. Hit the thumbs up. Thyroidresetsummit.com— thyroidresetsummit.com. And then, Evan’s got the Candida Summit as well, which is going on now. So make sure you subscribe to that.

Evan Brand: Yeah.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: My link is justinhealth.com/candida.

Evan Brand: [crosstalk] Just wrap up. Just wrap up. But if you guys want to go buy the event, I had a guy this morning, a new client who purchased my Upsell Talk, which is where I did an hour case review of reviewing a client’s labs and making a protocol. The guy said that that Upsell video alone was worth the cause. So if you want to buy it, use Justin’s link, justinhealth.com/candida. Go check out that event and you can get that talk, or you can see an hour behind the scene, which we never reveal.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah. And then, do you have a uhm— a link for my Thyroid Reset Summit?

Evan Brand: I don’t.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: crosstalk] Want me to get you a link so when— when you’re on the podcast here, you can promote it.

Evan Brand: Nah, that’s fine. Use your link. People can have them. Go for it. Thyroidresetsummit.com. Go register for Justin’s event. It’s gonna be awesome.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Awesome, man. Hey! It’s been totally real, Evan. Great chatting. Let’s talk real soon.

Evan Brand: Take care, man. Bye.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: You too. Bye.






http://justinhealth.com/candida or https://candidasummit.com/?idev_id=22861&idev_username=justinhealth&utm_source=22861

Blood Sugar and Hormone Stress

By Dr. Justin Marchegiani

More than one-third of the country has a condition known as metabolic syndrome.

Metabolic syndrome has some important features that are seen in nearly all cases, and these are blood-sugar imbalances and insulin resistance.

When blood sugar or insulin becomes elevated, it can create inflammatory cascades that can contribute to obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

Metabolic syndrome or blood-sugar imbalances is one of the biggest public health concerns of today. And if left unaddressed, it could bankrupt our economy.

Most conventional treatments to address metabolic syndrome and blood-sugar imbalances do not address the root causes. Essentially, people with the condition can live longer with the symptoms; yet nothing is done to address the root cause of what’s driving the condition in the first place.

Below are some of the typical treatments that are used.

Conventional Treatments: 

  • Statins
  • Blood-pressure medications
  • Metformin or Glucophage
  • Surgeries to remove gangrenous limbs (this happens in most long-term diabetics if their blood sugar isn’t addressed)
  • ADA or food-pyramid diet (this actually makes the problem worse)

Below are some functional-medicine tests that can help detect early signs of blood-sugar imbalances or metabolic syndrome.

Functional Tests:

waist to hip ratio chart

  • Waist-hip ratio
  • Elevate triglyceride to HDL ratio >2
  • CRP >1
  • Elevated in LDL particle size B vs LDL particle size A (FYI: Statins do not have an effect on the particle size of cholesterol.)
  • Low thyroid levels TSH >3.0 or free T3 <3.0 (these markers are designed for early detection of a healthy imbalance)

Did you know that blood-sugar imbalances are one of the biggest stressors on your endocrine system?

If you are suffering from any type of hormonal imbalance, whether it be hypothyroidism, PMS, menopause, or even fatigue and weight gain, your blood sugar needs to be addressed.

Blood-sugar issues are almost guaranteed to be a foundational part of any hormonal problem. Every time your blood sugar ebbs and flows up and down, your adrenals and pancreas have to come to the rescue. When your blood sugar goes up, your pancreas has to produce insulin to help lower your blood sugar. While at the opposite end, your adrenals have to spit out adrenaline and cortisol to bring your blood sugar back up. Oh, and did I mention when cortisol goes out of balance it causes belly fat!


blood sugar out of balance

The more your blood-sugar handling system is stressed, the more it predisposes your body to hypothyroidism and adrenal fatigue!

The typical pattern tends to be this: Eat a meal with excess refined carbohydrates, and your blood sugar spikes very high. Your body responds by producing a whole bunch of insulin to knock that blood sugar down! The pancreas overshoots, and produces too much insulin. Now, our blood sugar is super low, and we may start to feel anxious or jittery. Also, we may crave lots of sugar and sweets. The next thing we do is eat more carbohydrates and start the cycle all over again.  This is the cycle of death that is common with most patients who have hormonal issues. It may not be quite so blatant for most people, but at some level it is happening, and it’s very addicting!


Low blood sugar really makes you stupid!

When blood sugar drops (hypoglycemia), your body also increases production of an excitotoxin called glutamate. The combination of low blood sugar and high levels of glutamate decrease activation of the frontal cortex. The frontal cortex is the part of our brain that allows us to have higher levels of thinking and brain function;  it differentiates us from almost all other mammals. When we lose activation to our frontal cortex, it’s common for us to make stupid decisions, act irrational, and eat more unhealthy food. When we eat poorly, we literally lose our brain, and it’s so easy for this vicious cycle to perpetuate itself again and again and again (1).


hormonal balance

The same type of excitotoxin response can happen when you consume aspartame, food dyes, and MSG. Avoiding these food additives can have a tremendous effect on lowering your glutamate levels and thus not allow you to use your frontal cortex as efficiently. If it’s your goal to perform at the highest level, you want to make sure you are using your head!

blood sugar in balance


Excitotoxins also excite your brain neurons to death, another great reason why you want to avoid them.

If you’re having hormonal issues, one of the best things you can do is stabilize your blood sugar. Eating high-quality protein and fat first thing in the morning, within the first 30 to 60 minutes of waking, is very helpful. The more your blood sugar is stable, the more your endocrine glands can focus on helping you have energy and healthy sex-hormone balance.

If you’re having problems with your blood sugar, click here for more help!


1. The Effect of Acute Hypoglycemia on Brain Function and Activation A Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Study

Recommended Carbohydrate Intake For Optimal Health

By Dr. Justin Marchegiani

Do You Know What Your Recommended Carbohydrate Intake Is?

Based on my clinical experience as a functional-medicine doctor, carbohydrate recommendations can be different for each person. If you are a healthy, insulin-sensitive CrossFitter, your body may be better adapt at utilizing glucose for fuel without any negative effects. Some individuals may fall into the category of being insulin resistant or having metabolic syndrome. These individuals have a very difficult time utilizing sugar for fuel and need to utilize a lower carbohydrate plan that allows them to burn ketones/fat for fuel. There are also many people in between on the carbohydrate spectrum! There are exceptions to every rule mentioned.


Did You Know That Carbohydrates Are Not Essential Nutrients?

Your body has no nutritional requirement for carbohydrates. It can actually make its own carbohydrates through a process known as gluconeogenesis, where your liver converts amino acids into glucose. Your body can also convert fat for energy through a process known as ketosis.

There are essential fatty acids and amino acids; these are nutrients our body cannot make and needs to take in through outside food sources. Just because your body has no essential requirement for carbohydrates doesn’t mean you should avoid carbohydrates.

When you look at the Food Guide Pyramid, you’ll see that over 60% of the recommended macronutrients come from carbohydrate sources. This begs the question, if carbohydrates are not essential, then why are such a large percent of them recommended on the Food Guide Pyramid? Food recommendations are typically made for political reasons, not necessarily scientific reasons. It’s a sad state of affairs that the lobbying efforts from massive food corporations tend to dictate what shows up on the Food Pyramid.

carb recommendations

Carbohydrate Consumption and Reactive Hypoglycemia

When you eat carbohydrates, your pancreas responds by squirting out some insulin so your body can pull the newly broken down glucose into your cells so it can be utilized for energy. If you consume an excessive amount of carbohydrates, or consume carbohydrates that have a higher glycemic load, your pancreas will squirt out an exaggerated amount of insulin to ensure it will be taken up by the cells efficiently. In your body’s desire to utilize the glucose, it has actually dropped your blood glucose into a hypoglycemic state.

Most people live their life on these blood sugar swings from high to low. These swings put a tremendous amount of stress on your adrenal and thyroid glands. Hypothyroidism and thyroid imbalances are strongly connected with dysglycemia (swings in your blood sugar).

These ups and downs in blood sugar (dysglycemia) are a hallmark of metabolic syndrome. These swings also create extra sweet cravings—your body is hardwired to crave sweets when your blood glucose drops past a certain point. If you are always triggering your body’s fight-or-flight response with low blood sugar stress, you are telling your genes you are starving and you feel you need food in your mouth as fast as possible. This usually translates to eating some refined sugar and junk food, which sends you back on the same viscous cycle you were just on. Most people live their life this very way!

With habits like this, you will be putting significant stress on your thyroid and adrenal glands as they are required to rev up and down to buffer the hormonal roller coaster!

Subclinical hypothyroidism is significantly associated with metabolic syndrome.

How Many Carbohydrates Can Your Body Hold?

Your body can roughly hold about 300 to 350 g of carbohydrates in your muscles. One of the best recommendations for health is to add muscle to your body. Muscle provides structural integrity, enhances performance when moving, and also provides an additional reservoir for carbohydrates. When your carbohydrate levels are tapped off in your muscles, the next place carbohydrates are stored is in your liver. Your liver can only hold about 60 to 80 g more carbohydrates than your muscles, and it can become saturated much quicker.

After the 350 g of carbohydrates your body can hold in your muscles and liver, the remaining carbohydrates are converted to fat. Your body is very efficient at turning carbohydrates into fat and will do so if there are too many carbohydrates coming into your diet.

Click here to help get your blood sugar back in balance now!

How Many Carbohydrates Do You Need on a Daily Basis?

Ketosis and Fat Burning (0 to 50 g per Day)

When you keep your carbohydrate intake near 50 g per day, you’re going to enter a physiological state known as ketosis lipolysis. Most people get scared when they hear the word ketosis, confusing it for ketoacidosis, a state that type I diabetics and alcoholics with liver damage may go into.

Ketosis lipolysis is a normal state of physiology that involves primarily using fat for energy (this happens in fasting too). Fatty acids are broken down into ketones. These ketones are then used for fuel by the body and brain. Ketones also have an appetite-suppressing effect, and after a few weeks in ketosis, you will tend to lose your sweet cravings, too.

 The Sweet Spot! (50 to 100 g per Day)

This is a spot I typically like to keep my carbohydrate range within; it allows me to not rely on exercise to stay lean and fit. If you have a damaged metabolism, a 0 to 50 g per day range may be where you need to live for a while. Some people also do well cycling in and out of ketosis: three or four days in a row in ketosis and one day in the sweet-spot range or higher.

Carbohydrates are primarily used for instant energy, so if you’re doing lots of exercise or you’re under higher amounts of stress, getting a little bit of extra carbohydrates from healthy sources may be beneficial.

Maintenance (100 to 150 g per Day)

Most people do well in maintaining their weight when their carbohydrates are within this range. Everyone is different, so depending on how damaged your metabolism is, this range may be too high for you. If you’re relatively lean, exercise three to four times a week, and engage in activities like CrossFit, this will be a great place for you to be. I recommend timing a good chunk of your carbohydrate intake post workout as a means to help improve recovery.

The Steady Track to Weight Gain (150 to 300 g per Day)

When your carbohydrate levels are this high on a continuous basis, especially when there is no energy output to back it up, you are starting to push your body into an insulin-resistant state. The hormone that is secreted when you eat carbohydrates is insulin, and it primarily works by pulling carbohydrates and amino acids into your muscles. Like we talked about above, when your muscles and liver are saturated with carbohydrates, the rest of those carbohydrates will be stored as fat. When your carbohydrate intake is within the 150 to 300 g per day range, it’s highly likely it will be stored as fat.

Danger, Will Robinson! (300 g per Day of Carbohydrates or More)

If you’re eating based on the Food Guide Pyramid, it’s more than likely your carbohydrate intake will be in or around this range. All you have to do is eat your bagel every morning along with your orange juice or cereal, have a sandwich for lunch with your Gatorade, and eat a nice plate of pasta for dinner, and you’ll be on your way. Most people that are eating carbohydrates at this high level tend to have insulin resistance as well as increased risk markers for inflammation and metabolic syndrome.

What Types of Carbohydrates Should I Eat?

Starchy versus Non-starchy

Starchy carbohydrates: White potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squash, beats, yams, carrots (if cooked), butternut squash, rutabaga, spaghetti squash, turnips, pumpkin, plantains, and bananas. These carbohydrates can have higher levels of sugar along with higher levels of nutrients.

Non-starchy carbohydrates: Broccoli, spinach, kale, celery, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, zucchini, Swiss chard, spinach, asparagus, peppers, onions. These carbohydrates have the lowest level of sugar along with the highest level of nutrients.

High-Glycemic versus Low-Glycemic Carbohydrates

High glycemic: Grains, chips, candies, breads, refined sugars, cereals, junk foods, and tropical fruits (bananas, watermelons, pineapples, papaya, mangoes, and all fruit juices). Outside of the whole food fruit sources, higher glycemic carbohydrates tend to have the lowest amount of nutrients with the highest amount of sugar.

Low glycemic:  Blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, huckleberries, apples, oranges. these carbohydrates, as a fruit, tend to have the lowest amount of sugar with a higher amount of nutrition.

The carbohydrates that you eat on a daily basis should be of the non-starchy variety, which are all the vegetables your mom tried to get you to eat when you were little.

There are some benefits to the intake of some of the starchy carbohydrates, but you have to make sure they are dosed according to your metabolic constitution and activity level.

When we’re looking at the glycemic index, this refers to how fast the sugar in the carbohydrates breaks down and absorbs into your bloodstream. Carbohydrates that have a higher glycemic index get absorbed and impact your blood sugar faster.

The faster the carbohydrates impact your blood sugar, the faster your insulin spikes. When you have pronounced insulin spikes, this drives down your blood sugar, creating sweet cravings just a few hours later. This is a vicious cycle that I see most people live in their entire life. Break the blood-sugar roller coaster by eating healthy proteins, fats, and the right carbohydrates for your metabolic type with each meal.

If you need help getting your blood sugar balanced, click here for more information!


  1. http://www.marksdailyapple.com/the-primal-carbohydrate-continuum/


Natural Remedies for Hormonal Imbalance, Infertility, PCOS and PMS

Natural Remedies For Hormonal Imbalance Infertility PCOS And PMS

By Dr. Justin Marchegiani

There are many natural remedies for hormone imbalance in the functional-medicine world, yet they tend to the be the last line of defense most women reach for. It’s easier to get a birth control pill or antidepressant to fix the symptoms of hormone imbalance, but this does nothing to address the underlying cause.

If you’re a female and suffering from infertility, PMS, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), or other hormonal symptoms, this is a strong sign your body is out of balance and not expressing optimal health. Fertility and hormone balance is a natural by-product of health, and without it, our species wouldn’t be here today. I urge every woman to dig a little deeper into what’s driving her infertility and/or female hormone imbalances.

Just 30 to 40 years ago, women would routinely get pregnant on their honeymoon. Today, women are spending upward of $15,000 per in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment, some needing multiple treatments to conceive.

Why can’t I get pregnant?

It is possible to mimic your hormones with Follistim, Lupron, or Clomid to manipulate your brain into thinking you are healthy enough to get pregnant. Your body is wise, and is not letting you have a child for a reason; it knows the hormonal environment is not optimal to produce a healthy baby.

The hidden chemical stressors in your body can activate certain genes epigenetically. When these genes are activated, it predisposes you and your child to autoimmune/chronic inflammatory conditions, like asthma, heart disease, allergies, and learning disorders (1, 2, 3).

When we look at the underlying cause of infertility, 40% is on the woman’s side, 40% is on the man’s side, and 20% is unknown.



Both men and women should adhere to similar dietary and lifestyle principles to help support and nourish their bodies. A diet that is nutrient dense, anti-inflammatory, and low in toxins is essential for optimal health and for a growing a baby.

Factors to Consider

Women who are trying to get pregnant need to make sure their diet has adequate fat for the formation of their soon-to-be child’s nervous system; adequate meal timing to stabilize blood sugar; and the avoidance of all toxins from pesticides, grains, and refined foods.

If you are trying to get pregnant, you need to form a cohesive team with your partner. There needs to be a combined effort of the couple engaging in health-sustaining habits. Though the female grows the child inside her body, the quality of the sperm and the support regarding nutrition and lifestyle habits are just as important.

One Caveat

As long as your partner’s sperm count, motility, and morphology have been assessed and there are no issues regarding the female’s reproductive anatomy, then you are a great candidate to start a natural female-hormone-balancing program.

There may be 5% of women that need IVF treatment to conceive. I personally would recommend IVF last. The natural hormone-balancing diet and lifestyle programs can work over 90% of the time. IVF may help you get pregnant, but it does nothing to ensure a healthy pregnancy and optimal health for your child.

According to research, as well as my clinical experience, women that have IVF or go into a pregnancy unhealthy to begin with tend to suffer from more hormonal related issues post pregnancy, have a more difficult time losing weight, and have an increased risk for postpartum depression (4).

To All Men out There

Sperm counts have been dropping over the last 40 years significantly and so have the reference ranges regarding what normal may be. Due to these drops in the reference range, I urge men to be in the top 25% of the range to ensure adequate health. Consider anything in the middle of the range inadequate to standards just 30 to 40 years ago. (5)

Women’s Cycle: The Two Phases of Your Cycle

Womens Cycle Phases

The first half of your cycle is the follicular phase. This is where estrogen predominates. The second half of your cycle is the luteal phase. This is where progesterone predominates.

The Domino Effect of Healthy Hormones and Pregnancy

Step 1

Progesterone and estrogen drop at the end of the cycle, which signals bleeding, or your period. The sloughing off of your endometrial lining is important to reset your body so it has a chance for pregnancy the next time it ovulates.

Step 2

 The bleeding that occurs during your period stimulates FSH—a brain hormone. FSH stands for follicle-stimulating hormone which stimulates the follicle to start growing.

Step 3

As the follicle starts growing, it stimulates estrogen to increase. As estrogen increases, it starts to thicken the endometrial lining. Estrogen stimulates growth, which is needed for the uterine lining.

Step 4

As estrogen reaches its peak around day 12 or 13 of your cycle, ideally, it stimulates an increase in LH (luteinizing hormone).

Step 5

When LH increases, it stimulates progesterone to increase around day 15 of your cycle.

Step 6

The rise of progesterone, which was preceded by a rise in estrogen, signals ovulation. This when you can get pregnant, and it’s only about a three-day window. Progesterone causes the uterine tissues to mature (to grow up), which provides the right environment for the egg to implant into it.

Step 7 (optional)

The egg is ejected into the fallopian tube where it has the potential to come in contact with sperm as the egg makes its way down to the uterus.

Step 8 (optional)

The fertilized egg embeds itself into the uterine lining as the corpus luteum (the scar from where the egg formed in the ovary) stimulates progesterone through the production of human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG).

Step 9

Progesterone and estrogen drop out around day 27 or 28 of the cycle, which then signals menstruation (your period). The whole process then repeats itself again.

Fun Fact: HCG is what is typically tested to confirm pregnancy. Elevated HCG will get you a positive on your home pregnancy test.

If you are trying to fix your hormones, feel free and click here to schedule a complimentary consult to see what your options are.

female cycle

Problems in the Luteal Phase

The luteal phase needs to be at least 12 to 15 days long to ensure there is enough time for adequate progesterone to be made. If progesterone levels fall off early in the luteal phase (symbolized by the red lines above), it’s because of stress. Stress comes in physical, chemical, and emotional factors. Essentially, progesterone, your pro-gestational hormone that holds the egg in place, actually can get converted downstream in the cortisol.

With chronic stress we see progesterone falling out early in the cycle, which can make it very difficult to sustain a pregnancy. This progesterone deficit makes it very difficult for the egg to stay implanted, and it will eventually slough off causing a potentially thicker period that particular month, or maybe even no period at all. Low progesterone over time can cause your cycle to be anovulatory (without a period), or you may have even been told you have premature ovarian failure.

Throughout our cycle, on average, we have 22 to 25 times more progesterone than estrogen. This is a normal, healthy balance. When stress occurs and progesterone gets converted downstream, we start seeing a state of what’s called estrogen dominance. We start seeing an excess of thickening of the uterine lining. Women may notice fibroids, endometriosis, and fibrocystic breasts.

These hormone imbalances may manifest themselves at the end of your cycle as PMS, headaches, fatigue, migraines, breast tenderness, and uterine pain. All these symptoms are primarily driven by a state of estrogen dominance.


PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) occurs when androgens in the female cycle become elevated. As androgens elevate in the cycle, it throws off the upstream brain hormones, so communication from the brain to the ovaries becomes disconnected (6).

One of the most important triggers of PCOS is chronic ups and downs in blood sugar (reactive hypoglycemia), or insulin resistance. The elevation in insulin up-regulates certain enzymes in the body (17–20 lyase), which can accelerate the conversion of female hormones to male hormones (testosterone). That’s why it’s common to see acne, abnormal hair growth, and ovarian cysts as a by-product (7, 8).

What’s the Deal with Birth Control Pills?

When we take birth control pills (BCPs), we shut down the upstream signaling to our brain known as the HPG axis (hypothalamus, pituitary, gonadal axis—see picture below). FSH and LH, essentially, are the conductors of this beautiful hormonal orchestra. In this orchestra we have the strings, the flutes, and all the different instruments you can imagine. If the conductor of the orchestra goes on vacation, it’s very easy for this beautiful music to sound like noise.

Taking this analogy back to hormone land, as hormonal imbalances occur due to physical, chemical, and emotional stressors, they essentially mug the conductor. They knock the conductor off the stand, and the hormones start to go awry.

Women who take BCPs do see a benefit. Their hormones may stabilize, which may help their mood, PMS, and skin issues in the short term. The ups and downs of the hormones in the cycle are somewhat leveled out by this artificial, yet steady, bombardment of hormones.

The symptom-relief experience from BCPs is real. There are ways to produce the same results, if not better, through natural hormone-balancing protocols that address the underlying cause of the issues. When the underlying cause is addressed, there is less chance of the typical side effects of BCPs, including weight gain, blood clots, increased risk of a breast cancer, and potential difficulty conceiving down the road.

“Women who were on oral contraceptive birth control pills may experience a few months of being infertile while the synthetic hormones work their way out of their body. Women who were on the Depo shot on the other hand, can experience infertility between six months to a year.”

~Dr. Lauren Streicher of Gynecologic Specialists of Northwestern

Other Available Methods

If you are using a BCPs to prevent pregnancy, there are other natural non-hormonal methods out there. My favorite is the rhythm method (if you are in a stable long-term relationship). Other methods can be used, including a non-hormonal IUD (ParaGard). This can be used in conjunction with a diaphragm and/or a condom for extra security. If your hormones are stable, there is only a small window in your cycle when pregnancy can occur, so make sure proper precautions are made.

HPG and HPA Axis

What You Need to Do!

If you are struggling with hormonal-related symptoms and are looking to get pregnant, there are some action items you should make ASAP!

Step 1

Make the right diet and lifestyle changes to stabilize your hormones and blood sugar for success.

Step 2

Avoid common toxins that may come from pesticides in your food and chemicals in your makeups and hygiene products. The toxins in these products are xenoestrogens in nature and can mimic the hormone estrogen. Most women are already in a state of estrogen dominance, and this bombardment off additional synthetic estrogen only makes the problem worse.

Step 3

Get assessed! If you are not assessing, you are guessing! If you are having hormonal issues and you want to get pregnant, you need to see where the root of your hormonal issues are coming from.

Are the hormonal imbalances coming from a thyroid issue, adrenal issue, female hormone issue, or chronic infection? It may even be a combination of all of them like I see with most patients.

Step 4

If you are confused and not quite sure what the next steps are for you, feel free to click here to schedule a complimentary consult to see what your options are.

Step 5

Take action now! Hormone imbalances left untreated over time always tend to get worse and never improve on their own.



The entire contents of this website are based upon the opinions of Dr. Justin Marchegiani unless otherwise noted. Individual articles are based upon the opinions of the respective author, who retains copyright as marked. The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of Dr. Justin and his community. Dr. Justin encourages you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified healthcare professional. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Dr. Marchegiani’s products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition, consult your physician before using any products.