Breast health, what every woman should know...
Curious how circadian rhythm and inflammation affect breast health? If you’re looking to increase wellness and vitality in your breasts and beyond, tune in as I’m talking with Dr. Felice Gersh, an award-winning physician, a rare combination of a Board-Certified OB/GYN who is also fellowship trained and Board Certified in Integrative Medicine. She is also the bestselling author of PCOS SOS: A Gynecologist's Lifeline to Naturally Restore Your Rhythms, Hormones and Happiness.
Tune in to discover how important our circadian rhythm is and how we get "off the beat", and some simple tips to "get back on the beat" , as well as you will discover how inflammation affects breast health and what to do if you've been told you have dense breast tissue.
(Complete transcript below)
In this episode you'll discover
I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Gersh for my special 21 Days of Delicious Breast Care Summit last year, and her interview was so powerful I wanted to share it again, as she brilliantly shares some important tips to decrease inflammation in our bodies, honor our natural rhythms, and support the health of not only our breasts but our entire bodies. As October is breast cancer awareness month, it felt timely to share.
Felice L. Gersh, M.D. is a rare combination of a Board Certified OB/GYN who is also fellowship trained in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona School of Medicine. Her career has evolved over the years into one which utilizes the most cutting-edge and high-tech diagnostic testing, while incorporating science-based therapies – from the herbal to the surgical – to assist in the healing process.
Find out more about Dr. Gersh and her book HERE.
Follow her on Instagram HERE.
Hope you enjoy this podcast, and if you know someone who would enjoy this episode, please share!
If you would like to learn more about how sensual self care can transform your life, Schedule a free consult HERE.
Join in the discussion on this episode and more in my free Facebook Group, Find Your Feminine Fire HERE.
Amanda Testa (00:02):
Hello, and welcome to the Find Your Feminine Fire podcast. I am your host, Amanda Testa. I am a Sex Love and Relationship coach. And in this podcast, my guests and I talk sex love and relationships and everything that lights you up from the inside out. Welcome. Hello everyone. And welcome to the Find Your Feminine Fire podcast. I am so thrilled today to be talking with Dr. Felice Gersh, and we're going to be diving into circadian rhythm and inflammation, how that affects our breast tissue. So if you're looking to increase wellness and vitality in your breasts and beyond tune-in, as we dive in, and I'm so thrilled to have Dr. Gersh here today, she is an award winning physician, as well as a rare combination of a double board certified OB GYN, who is also fellowship trained and board certified in integrative medicine. So with so many years of great wisdom to draw from= and as well as being, you know, yearly award winning as a top physician. So welcome Dr. Gersh. Thank you so much for being here today.
Dr. Felice Gersh (01:07):
Well, I'm so happy to be here and to talk about this topic, which is so critically important to every woman and so much on her mind, the whole concept of how to optimize the health of her breasts. Yeah.
Amanda Testa (01:19):
Yes. Thank you. And I feel like, you know, it's not something women think about a lot, but I do feel like it's just a very important issue, especially now that it's breast cancer awareness month, just to bring attention to this, not just this month, but always so. And I know that you're really dedicated to women and focusing on women's health as well as kind of really having that unique emphasis on how our heart rhythms and our hormones affect our health overall. But I'd love to just have you start with sharing a little bit about, you know, why you're so passionate about this work. That you do.
Dr. Felice Gersh (01:51):
Well it's, it is a very much of a passion for me. It all began way back when I was a kid actually, and my parents sort of steered me into a direction that I had three choices for a career, I could be, it had to be something, a service, something that would actually help people. So I could be a teacher or a lawyer cause they felt they were actually lawyers. They felt they actually helped people a lot or a doctor. And I was very good in math and science and I thought, well, this is really what I want to do. And I started volunteering at the local children's hospital and I loved arts and crafts. So I did arts and crafts with the children who were hospitalized and it just made my heart sing to see children smile and getting better.
Dr. Felice Gersh (02:37):
And then I, when I went to medical school and I thought about what kind of a career would really suit me, I just fell in love with OB GYN. I felt it had it all. It had excitement, drama romance was like every, you know, you had your adrenaline rushes when you went in to dash to make a delivery and you also have consistency of care. So you can see women for decades and you would take care of them often as their primary care doctor. And then of course you could do high tech surgery. So it really had everything that I wanted in a career. And over the years, I've really sort of morphed. So about, almost like about a decade ago, it was my time to give up obstetrics and I'd love doing it. And then after that, I felt so lost because I had so much circadian rhythm dysfunction from all those middle of the night deliveries.
Dr. Felice Gersh (03:24):
I just couldn't from my own health, continue doing it for longer after that point. And that was what turned me really down the path towards integrative medicine, looking for ways to optimize women's health beyond doing things like surgery, which I was very good at, but I didn't want to do end stage disease care. I wanted to prevent the need for surgery, not just do surgery. And I knew that there had to be more than a birth control pill as a treatment because that seemed to be the go to for everything. So it led me here today with, with you looking and helping to explore with other women, how to really live the life of a healthy woman, which really doesn't get enough attention because we live in a very challenging world. And so that's what I'm here for to help women to really optimize their health.
Amanda Testa (04:13):
And I love that integrative approach because I think, you know, so often we have everything so segmented. And so, you know, as, as all these years of working with women and, you know, especially regarding our, our rhythms and things of that nature, I'm curious how, you know, when it comes to breast health, what are some things that we can do to really optimize that? Not only just obviously for our breasts, but in general?
Dr. Felice Gersh (04:37):
Well, that is exactly the way I look at it. The breasts are not a separate part of the body. In fact, you just, like you mentioned everything in the body is a whole, so, and in a way that's good in a way it's bad, depending on how you look at it. So if you do something that's good for your brain and your heart, it's going to be good for your breasts. On the other hand, if you do things that are bad for your brain and your heart, they're also going to be bad for your breasts. So what we have to look at is the female as a whole. So we are amazing creatures. We're rhythmic in so many ways. We have our circadian rhythm, which is the 24 hour rhythm. But as women in the reproductive years, we also have lunar rhythms, so beautiful dance that we have with the moon.
Dr. Felice Gersh (05:19):
And we have the seasonal rhythms as well. And then we have rhythms that are called ultradian rhythm. So these are like pulsating with them throughout the day where we have pulses of hormones and different signaling agents that vary throughout the day. So nothing in our bodies is static. So it's really foundational to know that everything is sort of in a flux, in a beautiful rhythm, but in our lives. Now we are. So they're so disrupted our beautiful rhythms. And so the price is to be paid in virtually every system of our body and the breasts are very vulnerable. So we're seeing an, you know, an escalating amount of breast cancer in both the premenopausal, which is really increasing premenopausal, breast cancer, and post-menopausal breast cancer, as well as women sort of lose their, their rhythms with age and with environmental toxins. And with our loss of our alignment with our, our day, you know, that we're seeing too much light, we're going to bed at the wrong time or eating without any kind of rhythm. We're just many people have some sort of caloric drinks sitting on their desk and they're sipping all day long. So essentially there's no rhythm to their eating. And so we need to go back to really fundamentals, to get in alignment with the beautiful rhythms that we were born to, to be living with. And now we're living against,
Amanda Testa (06:43):
And I'm curious what some of the main, you know, symptoms that you see when our rhythms are so disrupted, what are some, some things that women may notice is going on that they can be like, Hmm, I am feeling this way.
Dr. Felice Gersh (06:54):
When you have a disconnect, a disruption of your rhythms, you will have what I call metabolic chaos. Essentially. Every organ in our body works in conjunction with every other organ. It's a beautiful synergy. And of course the brain is very circadian and we have like a totally different brain in the day and in the night. So if we look at our brain to begin with starting at the top, when we are misaligned with our rhythms, our brain is not going to work, right. And we will have brain fog. We will have mood problems, we'll have depression, anxiety, and sleep problems. So we'll, we won't be able to sleep properly. So our brain is just clearly not going to be optimally functioning when we do not have proper rhythm. And if we jumped down to the liver, which is the metabolic powerhouse of the body, when the liver is off it,s going to go into a state of inflammation.
Dr. Felice Gersh (07:49):
And we know that inflammation in the liver can ultimately lead to fatty liver, which is now an epidemic. Some people estimate over a third of people, maybe close to a half, have some degree of fatty liver. And when you have this abnormal fat deposition, the liver, the liver starts to do things at normally unrelated to what the body needs. So we can do what we call uncontrolled gluconeogenesis, where it's just pouring out sugar and it can pour out fat triglycerides. And of course that can lead to cardiovascular disease, metabolic problems like diabetes and prediabetes, which are very prevalent in women who are living off the beat, as I say, so you're going to have brain fog. You're going to have mood problems, sleep problems. You're going to be fatigue. And then you're going to have increased risk of insulin resistance. And of course, when you have high levels of insulin that causes fat deposition.
Dr. Felice Gersh (08:43):
So then you have weight problems. So you can't lose weight. You can't have high insulin and high sugar and simultaneously be losing weight. So then, and the weight tends to go to the middle. So you get the infamous belly fat. So you can see where this is heading. And then when you have chronic end up getting gut inflammation, because it turns out that everything in our GI tract is very rhythmic. We have a special nervous system of our gut called the enteric nervous system. That's why some people say our gut is like our second brain. And that is very, to say the least rhythmic, right? We should have the gut doing things in the day and not at night. So people who have to go to the bathroom all night long, whether it's actually for urination or have bowel movement, that's really wrong. That's a circadian rhythm problem because our bladders should not still at night and our gut should be quiet at night.
Dr. Felice Gersh (09:38):
And we should be doing everything with the rhythm of our guts. And as well, we have bacteria in our gut, our little micros, our gut microbiomes, and they have clock genes too. It turns out every living creature on earth has clock genes, cloth genes are what, keep everything moving on the beat. And they don't know what time of day it is except by when you eat. And so if you're eating all day long, if you're eating late at night, you're going to have major circadian rhythm dysfunction in your guts. And that can increase more liver inflammation, irritable bowel syndrome. And so much of our immune system resides right around our gut. So then you get the wrong bacteria. They make what are called endotoxins, and then you don't have the proper mucus protectant. And then you get impaired barrier function or leaky gut. And these toxins go right through, into our own inside of our body.
Dr. Felice Gersh (10:36):
Really immune system is, and the immune system is like, Oh my gosh, invaders. And they explode with inflammation. Then you have systemic inflammation, which further drives insulin resistance. And the inflammatory cytokines go into our brain, creating more inflammation in our brain. And all of this is happening in our breasts as well with the inflammation. And then you have breast inflammation. So when you have a state of chronic inflammation that can lead to DNA breakage, and that can lead to cancer. So all of this leads ultimately to a state of uncontrolled insulin to try to counter the uncontrolled blood sugar and all this chronic inflammation and the immune system is also circadian. So you're also going to have a disrupted immune system as well. So it's not going to be optimally functioning either. So you can see how really the circadian rhythm and staying on the beat for that's for the 24 hour rotation of the earth is critical to every single function in the body. And this has just been completely ignored. But of course, we didn't even know that we had a circadian rhythm. We didn't know we had a clock genes or a master clock in our head until only about twenty years ago. So we didn't, we had no clue that any of this was really important. We just knew that people who worked odd hours or stayed up late at night or ate randomly, they just didn't really feel well. But we didn't really, we didn't put all the pieces of the puzzle together until very, very recently.
Amanda Testa (12:08):
Yeah. And I'm curious, what are some things? So if we wanted to move from being off the beat to getting back onb the beat, how, what can we do?
Dr. Felice Gersh (12:18):
There's so much we can do ,That you should start with is eating to the beat. So that means that you should have breakfast. I know that that's sort of become fashionable now to fast through breakfast, but that actually is not optimal at all. It really helps a lot of people know, even if they don't know anything about rhythms, they somehow know that there's a rhythm to cortisol and that you should have a high cortisol in the morning and that it should be low at night. And then the opposite rhythm is sort of the melatonin rhythm, where you have low melatonin in the day. And then melatonin comes up at night. And that actually is related to eating as well. So we want to eat to be in alignment. So we should eat no more than three meals a day, no snacking, somewhere down the line. Somebody came up with this idea, which is really bad, really bad that you should eat like every two hours all day long to maintain your blood sugar and your insulin.
Dr. Felice Gersh (13:15):
That is not what, how we evolve. Can you imagine then to human species will be here. It's, you know, 20,000 years ago, humans had to eat every two hours in order to maintain blood sugar. So that is not how our bodies work. So we're much better off not to doing that. And so we should eat breakfast and you, in the beginning, I call it like the beginners, you know, eat breakfast, eat lunch, eat dinner, stop eating preferably by 7:00 PM because between seven, 8:00 PM, our pancreas actually goes to sleep and, and our insulin is not going to be produced properly. So if you eat after seven, eight at night, of course we can get away with things sometimes. But if you do it on a regular basis, you're going to be stressing out your pancreas and increasing your risk of diabetes, prediabetes, and weight gain. So we don't want to do that.
Dr. Felice Gersh (14:06):
So we want to have breakfast prior to doing the same time every day of the week, because if you do crazy different things on the weekend, we call them social jet lag. That's because if you have real jet lag and you're constantly flying across time zones, that's a problem. But if you do it to yourself, by having different schedules every day or week, like you're in different time zones, that's equally bad. So, and obviously it was special occasions or whatever, but we want to try to do this most of the time. So you try to have breakfast the same time, every day, lunch and dinner. Now, when you get more in advanced, then you could do cause most people don't want to give up dinner. So I understand that, but you could do breakfast and then skip lunch or do what I do, which is I'll have like a fast bar,uwhich is like another bar that was created by the fasting company L-Nutra,
Dr. Felice Gersh (14:56):
Where I'm actually I'm on their medical advisory board. So I, I love what they do. And we can talk about fasting and helping with the beat. So or you could have some olives, or you could have like a small piece of avocado or some macadamia nuts. What are those? They're basically fats. So if you eat fat, you're going to keep your insulin level down. So you can have like a little fat, just a little bit with like a big mug of green tea or some herbal tea for lunch. And if you have a good size of breakfast, you're not going to be very hungry and you maybe take a month or six weeks to adjust to this schedule. After you've gotten on the beat of eating, just breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And then after maybe a couple of months, you can move into the more advanced where you do this sort of fasting, mimicking type of a thing for lunch, or just even skip it.
Dr. Felice Gersh (15:44):
If you have a big enough breakfast and then have an early medium sized dinner. So that's not too bad, you know, you're, but you're not snacking, but you can drink and hydrate all the time. And if you desperately need a snack, you know, have a few olives or a little sliver of avocado, if you desperately have that a snack, but usually by hydrating. And if you have a big breakfast, it's amazing that actually reduces your appetite for the rest of the day. And for people who want to lose weight, I tell them to have a big raw vegetable salad. I know that's not the traditional American breakfast, but it's actually, most people are trying to lose weight. I mean, you are great and we're not, not, everybody's trying to lose weight, but probably 80% of people are trying to lose weight. So maybe 90. So if you start your day with a big vegetable salad, you know, all the raw food, then that is amazing that it actually helps lose weight.
Dr. Felice Gersh (16:39):
They sound that if you eat the same food raw or cooked, if it's Raul, you're more likely to lose weight. And if you eat a nice big breakfast, you'll be less hungry for the rest of the day. It gets your metabolism going get that cortisol down. So cortisol increases insulin resistance when it stays up. So we don't want to have high cortisol all day long. We went to, and that's what we don't want to skip breakfast. And this will really get you going on the beat every day. The other thing is getting bright light. So it turns out that our dermatology friends, that they got it a little wrong. What can you say? A lot of people, you know, I've gotten things wrong in my life too. So we have to say when I was wrong, I was wrong. So the idea that you should avoid the sun is very bad advice.
Dr. Felice Gersh (17:25):
Now we don't want to get a burn when I'm advocating, not advocating for that. So we don't want to get a burn, but we do want to get sun. So it turns out that the sun in our eyes, we have special receptors actually for sunlight in our eyes that go directly to the master clock. Then it's the top of the optic nerve in the hypothalamus of the brain. And that helps to get our clock back in alignment. It's called entrainment cause every day, it drifts a little bit and that bright light in the morning, we'll get your master clock in your brain back on the beat. And it's even better than that. Not only does it do that, but bright light increases our body's production of serotonin in our brain. And serotonin is that neuro transmitter. It makes us feel good and alert and calm.
Dr. Felice Gersh (18:15):
And when we get up that bright light in the morning and another set of bright lights, like for about 15, 20 minutes with no sunglasses with the bright light in the mid day, that helps us from that serotonin that we're making at night, serotonin turns into melatonin. So you sleep so much better, which is so important. And a lot of people, one of the reasons why they don't sleep well at night is they don't get enough lights in the day. They're living in these like artificial caves, you know, called business cubicles or whatever. You know, a lot of people don't even have windows where they work and or if they have windows, they're very dark. And, you know, with, you know, like the, to keep the sunlight out. So they're very dark windows or they have shades all over them. And so they really don't get much sun.
Dr. Felice Gersh (19:04):
And then they're just inside all the time. And then they come in and dark in the morning. Then they leave it's dark at night and they never see the light. And of course we know that there's seasonal affective disorder that people in Northern climates yet when they don't get enough light, what we do that to ourselves, even in where I live, I mean, Southern California, some people never see the sun. So getting that bright light in the morning, first thing. And if you can't because you're in a dark place, you know, the seasons and it's dark in the winter, you can get a light box. You can even get a Dawn simulator where the light gets brighter and brighter. So there are many ways you can, they're very inexpensive to get a light box. If you do it with a light box, you want to get 10,000 Lux.
Dr. Felice Gersh (19:46):
That's how they measure the light in the morning when you first wake up and then in the mid day for also like about 15, 20 minutes, and this will make all the difference in having restorative sleep and having energy and having serotonin. Remember when you talked about mood problems, women who don't live to the beat, how so many mood problems, something like a quarter of all women now are on antidepressants. What is that saying about us? You know, and, and they have a whole host of problems associated with them. And along with the fact that they don't usually help from most women either, and they have, you know, all these side effect profiles. So we can deal with so much with these mood problems by getting enough sleep by getting enough light in the day, Like dark at night. That's another thing. Like I personally sleep with a,
Dr. Felice Gersh (20:35):
Sleep mask, which, because I get too much ambient light in through my windows at night. And, and I, you know, they're cracks and everything and internet hotel rooms. Cause I travel and speak a lot. There's all these little lights everywhere on TVs and radios that I'm going around with. I used to go around with the grab this house from the bathroom and try to cover everything I just put on. I just put on a sleep mask because not getting enough sleep will increase breast disease, breast problems. So, and of course there's links to everything. So once you put, when you link to the breast and breast health to the health of all the rest of the body, then it makes it easier to sort of correlate everything because what's good for your brain is good for your breasts. What's good for your heart is good for your breasts. And you know, essentially most of us, our bodies are kind of sinking in the poor scheduling and then of course with the food. So we want to start with eating on the beat and then they didn't getting the lights. And that's a good way to start to get it, to get back on the beat.
Amanda Testa (21:41):
One question to you to go back to the fasting part, because I know you mentioned, you know, for women, especially it's important to eat breakfast and you and you are right, because I know there's, there's the intermittent fasting is so big now where you don't eat breakfast. So I'm curious why for women, it is. So, you know, you kind of dived into that, but how can you use that intermittent fasting while still eating breakfast? I guess so.
Dr. Felice Gersh (22:02):
Oh sure. So I would, you know, things come and go in fads and well, for whatever reason, this fed has developed that you should fast for 16 hours and it should be through breakfast. And then you start eating in the mid day or early afternoon. That is not science. That is not a good idea. I wish people would just stop it, stop it, stop it, stop it. Okay. So you're going to maintain your high cortisol, which drives insulin resistance and inflammation. So we do not want to do that. Now, if you compare like everything is, if you compare to the standard lifestyle or the standard American life, okay. Where you're eating nonstop, you're eating for breakfast pastries and you know, bacon, you know, or something like that. And then you're eating, you're drinking a very high sugary juice juice, and you're drinking coffee with all kinds of serums in it.
Dr. Felice Gersh (22:54):
So, and then you're drinking that coffee syrupy drink all day long. And then for lunch, you're eating fast food, you know, fries and some kind of a burger. So if you compare fasting through breakfast to that, then you're going to be better off fasting through breakfast. Right. But if we compare it to something better, like having a vegetable stiry fry with maybe organic tofu or even, you know, a couple of organic eggs mixed with, you know, like scrambled with a bunch of vegetables or my favorite is the breakfast salad. You know, if you compare it to that, then what I'm recommending wins hands up. Okay. But if you use the standard American crappy lifestyle, anything is going to be better than that. Never eating isbetter than always eating that stuff. But if you want to go for what's really optimal, then you want to do fasting, but you want to do it, right?
Dr. Felice Gersh (23:48):
So remember it's not just what you eat, it's when you eat it. And it's not just that you fast, it's how you fast. And when you fast. So for example, if you eat all night and fast all day, that's a problem because we are diurnal. We are not nocturnal. So you, and if you fast, so half of the day when we should be active in our immune systems are like most robust. And that's when you're not eating, that is giving the wrong clues to your body, okay. About what's going on. So what you want to do is fast for 13 hours. Now that would mean, and you want to eat breakfast optimally within two hours, you don't have to get up and instantly eat, but optimally by two hours after you get up, that's giving you a nice little cushion there now. So if you now where's the 13 hours coming from some research, okay.
Dr. Felice Gersh (24:44):
We didn't make that up. And there's for example, women who've had breast cancer. Okay? So they've had breast cancer and now you want to not have breast cancer recur because you want to live. Okay. The study shows 13 hours, not 12 hours, unfortunately, but 13 hours significantly lowers the risk of breast cancer recurrence. So now what if you say, well, I'll do a 14, 15, 16, there's very little return on investment for going beyond 13 hours. So why do it? It's like painful not to eat for so many hours, so then we don't want it. And we don't. And the way that you have to do that, if you're going to fast, longer would mean eating dinner earlier, not eating breakfast later. So what you would have to do is stop eating earlier. Now there was a study that was done with women with PCOS, which is one of my specialties and it was out of Israel.
Dr. Felice Gersh (25:39):
And in that study, they had the women eat two thirds of their calories for breakfast. And one third, it was proximate for lunch and basically one bite for dinner, basically virtually no dinner. And obviously most people wouldn't want to do that. This was a study, but in just one month, their insulin dropped 50% that when you drop the insulin, that's how you feel lose weight. You can't have high insulin and lose weight because insulin promotes fat storage and production. So that's amazing. The women started ovulating, which means their hormones were balanced. You have to have proper hormones to have a proper functioning body and to have healthy breasts as reproductive age woman. So this was phenomenal. So where did they have the fasting from lunch to breakfast? Not from dinner to lunch. So we really need to just get rid of that. And by the way, there's studies showing more plaque building up in arteries in people who skip breakfast.
Dr. Felice Gersh (26:41):
So we want have fasting the way our bodies were designed to be fasting, which is overnight and not into the middle of the day. So you want to have a dinner, say you have dinner and you finish at 7:00 PM. Then you have breakfast the next day. You know, you can have between eight and nine. Otherwise if you have to get up earlier and have breakfast earlier, then you have to move dinner earlier or, you know, you have to work around it. Okay? So that is what is optimal. And it's not like we have a choice. Okay. We are programmed with clock genes. So we have our master clock in our brain. And then all of our other cells in our bodies have clock genes about one third of the genes in our body are what they call clock genes. But 90% of the genes in our bodies work with clock genes.
Dr. Felice Gersh (27:32):
And these are set in our DNA. These are not like, you know what? I think I would rather live the life of a bat . You know, no, you can do it, but you're not changing your genes. You're working against your genes. So you're going to have problems. You know, it just it's like I would like to wake up tomorrow and have a third eye on the back of my head. That would be convenient for when I'm driving, because my car doesn't have a camera that goes, I'm driving an older car. So I don't like turning around, you know, I just want another, you can't do it. We are what we are. You know, like owls look like owls and humans look like humans and our clock genes are embedded in us, in our genes, in our DNA. It's who we are. So when we live in discord with how our bodies were designed to live, we are going to have medical problems.
Dr. Felice Gersh (28:23):
We're going to have mood problems, metabolic problems. And that sets the stage for cancer because everything is off the beat and that's really important. And it doesn't matter, you know, that what we want, it matters what we are and it's, so we have a whole society of people and I was one of them that, and you know, that, that work at night, and this is such a challenge. There's data published that women who work the night have higher rates of breast cancer. They also have higher rates of diabetes, metabolic syndrome, depression, obesity, you know, it's not a good picture. So I don't have a solution for people who chose a career where they're going to have to work at night. And the worst are like the doctors who work in emergency rooms, you know, or nurses that are on and off because there's no consistency.
Dr. Felice Gersh (29:14):
So there were like three, three days a week. They're working at night and then one day a week, they're working in the day and then the others enjoy whatever they want. You know? So it's theirs, they're constantly in a metabolic dysfunction because they're always off the beat. They have no consistency. So for people who do work at night, and this is a tough one, it's best to try and take. What I recommend is that you eat only two meals a day, 12 hours apart, regardless of whether you're working at night or day, job, you know that, or like sometimes you switch, you know, you work the day shift and night shift, or you just have days off. So try to eat 12 hours apart to at least try to keep the beat and try to use, try to sleep, like whether you're working the night or not the night to try to sleep the same times every day.
Dr. Felice Gersh (30:00):
So that basically you're creating a new time zone. You know, it's like Suzy time zone, you know, so that, you know, you have some consistency with your life because you know, you can live like on like typically 12 hours from Dubai. So I could live in Dubai time in California where I am. But what that would mean is that I would have to actually like sleep every day during the day and then be up every night, you know, and eat at the same time every day. And basically I'd be like living on the other side of the world, but I'd have to do it seven days a week, but nobody really wants to do that. But if you're working a night shift, that would actually be better for you if you actually just lived as if you were in a different time zone all the time, it's a challenge.
Amanda Testa (30:45):
Yeah. So definitely get it. You know what? Eating on a regular timeline with a good breakfast and then making sure you get that light exposure. Is there anything else that is really supportive to get you back on the beat?
Dr. Felice Gersh (30:58):
Oh, absolutely. So when you, when you exercise, exercise is like the miracle medicine that most people don't use. And there's actually data showing that when we exercise can have a different impact on our body. So if you want to lose weight, the best time to exercise is in the morning. If you want to build a muscle, then this time to exercise is actually in the afternoon. And if you exercise right before you go to bed, then that will just potentially disrupt your sleep. Now, some people say any exercise is better than no exercise, you know? So you make the best of it. But you know, it's always nice to know what's optimal. So optimal is not exercise right before you go to sleep and weight loss, And so many people want to lose weight is exercise in the morning when you exercise. And they've actually shown that you increase, increase the diversity of your gut microbiome.
Dr. Felice Gersh (31:52):
So you're actually doing wonderful things for your gut microbes. And we know that they are like our cousins. So it's really interesting. We've not known about these incredible microbial populations called our microbiomes until relatively recently as well. And they are really part of us. They are synergy with us. And so we want to nurture them. So exercise and eating the right foods. So, you know, we talk about when you eat it's of course also what you eat. So I'm a plant based person. So because plants are what the microbes love. So when we're eating, you know, we talk about, cause I'm at OB, you know, when we're eating for two, right? Well, we're actually eating for trillions. So we have to feed those trillions of microbes in our gut and they love plants. That's what they eat. They love having the polyphenols. They do like a dance with them and the fiber.
Dr. Felice Gersh (32:49):
That's what they ferment. And that's what we, that's how they make the short chain fatty acids that actually act as signaling agents to our brain and our liver. They actually have to have receptors. So, I mean, talk about synergy. It turns out that these short chain, fatty acids, these metabolites of fermentation from the microbes in the gut, that there's actually receptors for them on our vagus nerves. That talk about how we're together. We're like one. So when you have butyrate, which is one of the short chain, fatty acids, it actually combined on receptors on the Vegas nerve and it makes our brain happy and it can actually cross into the brain. And actually it's like brain food because it's a fatty acid. And it also acts as food for the lining cells of the gut. But it also acts as a signaling agent to the liver.
Dr. Felice Gersh (33:38):
I mean, it's just amazing how we have to feed those little critters or they cannot do their job, which is to keep us healthy. So we want to really make sure that we eat a high plant-based diet. They talk about primitive type societies, or I'm very many left on this planet. But data, when they looked at the children's GI tract, they found that the children had enormously different gut microbial populations than children that live in like Western Europe. And they had tremendous diversity numbers and diversity. So in order to create diversity, you have to have a diverse diet. So some people say, I eat vegetables, I eat broccoli. And now I'm not against broccoli. I'm very pro broccoli, but you can't just eat broccoli and be a really healthy person. So that's where they come across with eating from the colors of the rainbow, lots of diverse types of plants, I think go to a farmer's market when you can or go to a store like mothers market, whole foods, where they have diversity of all kinds of plants, and then just buy something from everything and experiment.
Dr. Felice Gersh (34:48):
You know, you can get recipes in the store, you can get recipes online, you can get it. It's like everyone wants to help you to cook and try these different types of vegetables. And when people and this, I see it all the time, they kind of make these little wiggly things with their nose. When I, you know, say like vegetables, they'll say I hate vegetables. And it's like, there are ways to cook vegetables that no one taught you, that you will love them. And worst case scenario cover them with a little coconut oil and put on pumpkin pie spice and then boil them or bake them. And then they'll just all taste like pumpkin pie to you, you know? So just, you can find ways that you can enjoy vegetables because they are critical, not just for their minerals and their vitamins and their antioxidants, which are so important, but also as food for all of those little critters in there.
Dr. Felice Gersh (35:38):
So we definitely want to make sure we take care of them. And then the other thing is to actually do fast, you know, like more than just so when you don't eat for part of the day, that technically is fasting, but we actually don't call that fasting in the, you know, the verbiage that we use, we call that time restricted eating. So when you don't eat over a 24 hour period, that's called time restricted eating. When you don't eat for at least 24 hours, that's called intermittent fasting. And when you don't eat for a few days, like four days or five days, that's called periodic fasting. If you don't eat for at least, you know, over 10 days, that's called prolonged fasting. And actually that is not good because then your whole metabolic system changes and your metabolic rate slows. Cause then you're in basic survival mode, but there's this amazing sweet spot, like four or five days. If you fast like water fast, don't eat any food. Then a lot of mechanisms are triggered in the body that are very restorative. You can actually burn liver fat, which is really critical because you cannot be healthy with a fatty liver and you actually increase the production of brain growth factors, brain drives brain growth factors that actually make your brain healthier
Speaker 4 (36:57):
And happier. And they're doing
Dr. Felice Gersh (36:59):
Now looking at reducing Alzheimer's and dementia by doing fasting. So it'd be really fascinating when these studies come out, but it also does other amazing things. It causes crappy cells in our bodies to die. I mean, that's programmed cell suicide. And if you constantly eat, you never stop eating the body. Doesn't deal with that whole factor of killing off crappy cells. And you want to get rid of crappy cells because they're the bad cells that do you in. We, we want to like clean house, get rid of the junk cells. And that's what gets triggered when you do periodic fasting for four or five days. And as well, the good cells in the body get rejuvenated a site from within. We call that autophagy where you actually take them to different cellular components. They go into, I call the recycle bin, it's the lychzome. And then it recreates from the proteins of the cell and the fats of the cell fatty acids and amino acids.
Dr. Felice Gersh (38:00):
And then they reconstruct new cellular structure. So it's really like a total cell rehab. And this is amazing. And then once the crappy cells kill themselves, the STEM cells of the cells, they get stimulated. So you end up creating a bigger pool of STEM cells and as well, you actually replace all the crappy cells with beautiful new cells. So it's like we do the knitting internally, the cells and rejuvenating the organs. So it's like, it's amazing. Now here's the problem to tell my patients that you should, you know, okay, stop eating for four days and just drink water. And I want you to do it like every month for three months in a row. And then I want you to do it four times a year. You get a compliance of about 1%, even though because people love to eat. You know, we evolved in a time, you know, in ancient times when food came and went.
Dr. Felice Gersh (38:55):
So people didn't fast because they wanted to fast. They just wasn't food around for sometimes for a few days. And so we evolved into that scenario to be optimally healthy for the environment that we evolved in. But now we have food everywhere we turn and we really love eating. So what the company that I work with, the fasting mimicking company called L Nutra created out of the research of the longevity Institute at USC, a fasting, mimicking diet. And that's what I do myself. And that's what I use with my patients because otherwise I, you know, I have quite a theory, but you know, actual success. So what a fasting mimicking diet is that they created food that you eat for five days. And that was not a ton, but it's very tasty. You get three meals a day that flies under the radar of detection of the nutrient sensors in the brain.
Dr. Felice Gersh (39:49):
So I call it self food. So it's like the best of all worlds to get to eat, but your body doesn't know it and thinks you're fasting. And you also get the benefit of eating. Cause you get the nutrients, you get the pleasure and the benefit of eating and then you get the benefit of fasting. So that's why it's so brilliant. And so, and so we have the data that we have on it shows that it does do the things that I mentioned. Like it helps to burn liver fat. It helps to do the autophagy trigger autophagy and STEM cell stimulation and so on. And they're doing something like 40 studies right now, looking at pretty much everything that you can imagine. So as we stay tuned and we see more data, so, but just based on what we do know now I utilize it all the time because we do know if I know enough that I love it.
Speaker 5 (40:42):
Curious too, is there a specific time of the month that it's most optimal to do?
Dr. Felice Gersh (40:47):
Well within data that we have is based on some interesting data that was done with NIH funded studies back in the 1990s, is that amazing. There was like this brief, I don't know what actually made it happen, but there were these studies that were done back in the 1990s on fasting and with women's cycles and we need to recreate new ones. We need to have many new studies and that's where we're heading. But right now, looking at the older data, it would look like if you fast in, during the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle, you were more likely to impact the ovulation. Now what they showed was that if women were very thin, then they didn't ovulate at all. If women were normal, they opulate it, but their hormone spikes were lower. Okay. So basically I think it's best if you can avoid doing fasting during the follicular phase.
Dr. Felice Gersh (41:44):
So that would be from the time you get your period until halfway through the menstrual cycle, which is when you ovulate and it would be better to do it during the luteal phase, the second half of the menstrual cycle. And there is actually some data published that when you fast during the luteal phase, that it actually improves heart rate coherence, or what have called heart rate variability, and it lowers the sympathetic and increases the parasympathetic. And what that means is that you're calmer. You feel better. So I would love to get some studies on fasting and PMs, because I think that it's going to really show that women who do have problems with mood disorder and so on during the luteal phase. And they have the PMs that by doing fasting during that time, maybe even a small Fast, like two day fast, you know, that it will really help them dramatically to feel better.
Dr. Felice Gersh (42:38):
So it's, there's so much interesting material that we have and that we need to acquire more because this just wasn't on very many people's radar. If it's just like a little blip that happened in the 1990s, and then it just all disappeared. And now fortunately it's coming back. And so we can learn more about how to really apply fasting specifically to women, because I talk about this all the time. Women and men are so different. We have really different immune systems, metabolic systems. We have different hearts and most of the studies have been done on men in everything. So it's time for us to take the spotlight and, and to really understand, but I do based on the data we do have already, I recommend fasting during the luteal phase. And I think especially for women as they're transitioning into the menopause years and the early menopause years that incorporating fasting is going to be shown to be so vitally important to maintaining their metabolic homeostasis, sort of keeping their metabolism on track because the hormone fluctuations that occur during the premenopausal transition years are going to be crazy.
Dr. Felice Gersh (43:48):
It's like being on a hormonal rollercoaster and mood swings and sleep problems and so forth. And I think that there's a lot of potential by incorporating fasting and time restricted eating and exercise. And of course, one of my favorites is some form of mind, body medicine. I personally love guided imagery, but some people prefer meditation for me. I worked on meditation, but I kept trying to plan my day. You know, it's like, no, I'm meditating. I'm not planning my day tomorrow. But when I do guided imagery, which is sort of a form of, of entering into a hypnotic state, but or a guided meditation where you listen to a beautiful voice with a beautiful music, the background, and it takes you on a mind journey so that you're taking yourself into a beautiful visualization, as opposed to trying to empty your mind. Cause I just would fill it with thoughts, you know? So I just said, I'm just going to do the guided imagery. And there's wonderful data on that. So for people who, who don't have time to really practice and learn meditation, you can buy, download very easily, very inexpensively, these guided imageries, and you can do them every day and you'll be amazed by the way, if you do it and you immediately fall asleep, that's a clue you're probably sleep deprived. So you should go to sleep earlier that night, but keep, keep listening to your guided imagery.
Amanda Testa (45:13):
Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom here today. And I'm curious, is there any question that I didn't ask that you wished that I would have asked or any last words you'd like to share with everyone?
Dr. Felice Gersh (45:24):
Well, yes. When women get breast cancer in terms of breast cancer, it's really a sign and we sort of touched on this. I just want to emphasize it, that there's inflammation in the breast. And this is really a sign of a local inflammation in the breast. And it's always accompanied by a systemic inflammation. So it means that the whole body is inflamed. And we didn't touch on like when you have a mammogram and it says you have dense breasts because it's still the bulk of women who do get breast cancer are post-menopausal unfortunately it's growing in premenopausal women. And that's really because of the ubiquitous endocrine disruptors, these chemicals that are altering the way our normal hormones are working. And they're really toxic. But if we look at the postmenopausal women who get mammograms and then they say, Oh, you have dense breasts and that's a risk for breast cancer.
Dr. Felice Gersh (46:18):
I'm sure people have heard this, right? You have dense breasts. You have your best for breast cancer. But what does that mean? Why do you have dense breasts? I think this is really an important message. It means you have inflammation in your breasts. Now breasts like many organs in the body made estrogen. So estrogen is made in ovaries. Everybody knows that, but estrogen is made in many organs themselves. That's how men and children get estrogen. There. Many children are loaded with estrogen, but it's not circulating. If you get a blood level, it's going to be very low because it's made in the organs, in the brain, in the heart, in the blood vessels, in the breast. So breasts make estrogen because estrogen is a modulator of inflammation. It controls inflammation. So when you have an inflammation going on, the body makes more estrogen. If you have a brain trauma, there are actually cells in the brain that will make more estrogen to help reduce inflammation in the brain.
Dr. Felice Gersh (47:18):
It's amazing, you know, adaptive mechanism of the human body. And if you have inflammation in your breasts, the breasts will make more estrogen trying to control that. But when you, and if you have a breast infection, that's why you have it. Like if you're breastfeeding and you get a breast infection, the body wants to control that inflammatory response. So it doesn't go too, too crazy. And then the women will stop breastfeeding. The baby will die because remember it's all about survival. These, all of these mechanisms. So the breasts make as makes estrogen to control inflammation. But when you have post-menopausal inflammation, systemic inflammation, you cannot control it with estrogen in the breast. This is too pervasive and ongoing. So you need the breast makes estrogen. So that's what makes it because estrogen is about growth and proliferation. So you're growing more of a ductal cells, but the goal is to actually put out and reduce the inflammation.
Dr. Felice Gersh (48:19):
But when you have chronic unrelenting inflammation and then in the breast, and then you have chronic unrelenting production of estrogen in the breast, because estrogen is doing what it's designed to do. When you have chronic inflammation that can lead to DNA breakage, and then you can get cancer. And estrogen is about nurturing and healing. Okay? Proliferation it's to help heal and grow. Like you get a cut on your skin. Estrogen actually in the skin helps it to heal. Estrogen creates growth factors and new blood vessels, which is about healing. But now in a breast situation where you now have developed breast cancer, estrogen, we did not evolve to have breast cancer. So estrogen doesn't recognize that that's cancer. It just thinks it's injured tissue and it's trying to heal it. So it creates new growth, new blood vessels, and it's actually nurturing breast cancer. But estrogen was doing what it was supposed to do was trying to put out the inflammation.
Dr. Felice Gersh (49:19):
But now everything changed. Everything's like topsy turvy, cause you get breast cancer. So if you are a woman and you have dense breasts on a mammogram, that doesn't mean that you shouldn't, I'm not saying you shouldn't like more surveillance because that's sort of the standard approach. Do more surveillance, you know, like get more mammograms, get ultrasounds. That's fine. That's about early detection. I'm really focused a lot on prevention. Okay? So that's a sign. You have inflammation in your breasts. You have inflammation in your whole body. It's not just in your breast. You're not like a breastfeeding mom. And you have a breast infection because of breastfeeding. You have inflammation everywhere in your body. So you need to take action, not stop doing surveillance, but starting taking positive steps to lower your inflammation and lower your risk of breast cancer. By doing all the things that we talked about by getting on the beat, by eating the right foods, by getting enough sleep, by getting light into your eyes, by having meditation, working on stress, you can reduce your risk of breast cancer. Not just try to find it early because I'm not, I'm not against finding it early, but I want to not have women go through that in the first place. So take charge. When you have dense breasts, that's a big red flag that you are an inflamed woman and take all the steps to lower your state of inflammation, lower your risk of breast cancer, lower your risk of cardiovascular disease of dementia. All those things go together. It's one body. And fortunately it's one approach to getting optimally healthy.
Amanda Testa (50:57):
That is such great wisdom. Thank you so much. And I appreciate you being here today and for sharing. And I'm curious if anyone wants to learn more about you and connect with you, what's the best way for them to do that?
Dr. Felice Gersh (51:09):
Well, I am a, what I call an old fashioned doctor, I own brick and mortar practice in Irvine, California called the Integrative Medical Group of Irvine. And my website is https://integrativemgi.com And I want everyone to follow me on Instagram because I'm just getting going. I've not been like a social media doctor, like a regular, you know, hard working doctor, but I'm getting going with my Instagram. And my Instagram has, my name is D R period Felice Gersh. So it's dr. Period Felice Gersh. And I want everyone to follow me on Instagram because I'm going to really post really good stuff and I need to have help because I'm just, like I said, brand new into the social media world.
Amanda Testa (51:50):
Beautiful. We'll all follow you. And I'll make sure to add that in the comments and thanks so much. Yes. Thank you so much, Dr. Gersh, it's been a pleasure having you here today. Thank you so much for listening to the find your feminine fire podcast. This is your host, Amanda Testa. And if you have felt a calling while listening to this podcast to take this work to a deeper level, this is your golden invitation. I invite you to reach out. You can contact email@example.com/activate, and we can have a heart to heart to discuss more about how this work can transform your life. You can also join us on Facebook in the group Find your feminine fire group. And if you've enjoyed this podcast, please share with your friends, go to iTunes and give me a five star rating and a raving review. So I can connect with other amazing listeners like yourself. Thank you so much for being a part of the community.