Why Your Hormones Need Carbohydrates to Function

Why Your Hormones Need Carbohydrates to Function

Why Carbs are Good for Your Hormones


Low carb diets are all the rage right now in the nutrition and health world. And it’s true, cutting carbs can help with weight loss and health improvements for some people, mostly because of the caloric restriction.But for many people – women especially – keeping carbs too low for too long can have pretty unhealthy consequences, especially if you work out with any level of intensity. And even more so if you have hormone-related health issues like HPA axis dysregulation or hypothalamic amenorrhea, PCOS, hypothyroidism, adrenal fatigue and Hashimoto’s.

If you’re sedentary, your carb needs are generally lower than someone who is active. Those who don’t train regularly might be able to get away with less carbohydrates overall. And even if you do work out regularly, you probably won’t immediately feel the consequences when you first cut most carbs from your diet. It may take a few months to see the long-term impact, but at some point, you might start to feel spaced-out, sluggish, cranky and sick.


Low Carb Diet & Your Hormones

Eventually, restricting your carb intake too much can lead to many hormone-related issues such as:

  • decreased thyroid output (hypothyroidism)
  • increased cortisol output (abdominal fat)
  • decreased or increased testosterone (low libido and osteopenia)
  • impaired mood and cognitive function (brain fog)

If you already had a pre-existing hormone related condition before cutting carbs, such as hypothyroidism, PCOS, missed or irregular periods, or adrenal fatigue; eating too few carbs will only exacerbate your condition.  And if you’re under a lot of stress already, going too low carb can cause further HPA dysregulation and increase its symptoms.

Your carbohydrate intake is a critical part of the equation when it comes to balancing your sex hormones, losing weight, recovering from exercise, supporting your thyroid, boosting your energy, and so much more. You may be wondering how carbohydrates affect your adrenal health. Reducing carbohydrates excessively can affect stress hormone production in many people, usually causing a significant increase in cortisol. This will directly impact your energy levels causing them to plummet and eventually worsen pre-existing adrenal fatigue.


The Basic Chemistry of Blood Sugar

Any time we eat, our food is broken down into macronutrients, micronutrients, and water. This complex process allows us to derive energy from our food, obtain essential vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, and collect the building blocks needed to make our immune cells, hormones, and neurotransmitters.

Carbohydrates are found in many different foods, and in different forms. After we eat, blood sugar rises as carbohydrates are digested and absorbed. This triggers the release of insulin, which helps shuttle glucose out of the bloodstream and into our cells. Insulin is considered an “anabolic hormone,” meaning it promotes the storage of glucose and the conversion of any excess into its long-term storage form: fat. We also have hormones that help us tap into stored glucose or generate more. This occurs when our blood sugar is low or when we have increased energy demands.

So, what does this mini biochemistry lesson have to do with adrenal fatigue?

As the name implies, adrenal fatigue involves a dysregulation in our body’s stress response. Initially this leads to elevated cortisol, a stress hormone produced by the adrenal glands. As adrenal fatigue progresses, the dysregulation often leads to low cortisol. Now here’s the catch: Low carbohydrate diets have also been shown to be a stressor on our adrenals.


Common Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue

-Tend to be a “night person”
-Difficulty falling asleep
-Slow starter in the morning
-Tend to be keyed up, trouble calming down
-Calm on the outside, troubled on the inside
-Tendency to need sunglasses
–Chronic fatigue or get drowsy often
-Crave salty foods

Any time that you are not meeting your body’s needs for energy with adequate fuel, you put stress on your adrenals, since they act as your body’s shock absorbers (allowing your body to adapt to stress). This means that any caloric abuse or nutrition neglect is something that your adrenals have to make up for– by producing stress hormones (cortisol and adrenaline) to get you through the day. Usually, the more severe the adrenal dysfunction, the longer the adrenal stress has been going on.

Additionally, when you inadequately fuel your body, it stimulates the use of glycogen (stored sugar in the liver) for energy. Once your glycogen stores are depleted, tissue breakdown begins (the breakdown of proteins and fat to make glucose [sugar] for energy). This process of muscle catabolism releases amino acids such as cysteine, methionine, and tryptophan, which are all anti-metabolic to your thyroid. This happens because it’s the body’s way of being very intelligent,  by communicating with your thyroid, and telling it to turn down the conversion of active thyroid hormone in order to save your body from running itself into the ground.


How Many Carbs to Eat?

Here are my general starting points of the percentage of carbohydrates for hormone related health issues. But please keep in mind that your activity, stress, genetics and hormone imbalance will influence these recommendations:

  • For most women, I recommend a minimum of 25% of calories from carbs, particularly if you’re active.
  • For patients already dealing with an HPA Axis issue (“adrenal fatigue”), I start them at 30-40% calories from carbohydrates.
  • For women who are dealing with health issues surrounding fertility and hypothalamic amenorrhea, I recommend 40-50% of calories from carbs.


How do I  Know What MY Carb Needs May be?

In general, everybody has different dietary carbohydrate needs primarily depending on their activity levels and genetics, but also dependent on their age, gender, stage of life, and goals.

As I mentioned earlier, if you are sedentary you can likely eat fewer carbs and feel fine. However, if you regularly participate in intense, glucose-demanding activities like Crossfit, heavy powerlifting, and/or high-intensity interval training (HIIT), your body will begin to rely on stress hormones like cortisol to produce the glucose the brain and muscles need. When this happens, you may eventually develop symptoms associated with hormone related health conditions such as amenorrhea, hypothyroidism or adrenal fatigue.


Which Carbs are Best for YOU?

A hormone-supportive diet isn’t just about the quantity of carbohydrates. It’s also important to consider the quality of carbohydrates and the timing of when you’re eating them throughout the day. Choosing high fiber carbohydrates, such as those found in whole grains, legumes, and vegetables provide the essential nutrients needed to support proper hormone function. Also, the fiber in carbohydrates also helps slow the release of carbohydrates into the bloodstream, thus keeping blood sugar more stable. Whole grains are an incredible source of prebiotic fiber and have earned their rightful place in a diverse, healthy hormone based diet. They do this but maintaining your gut integrity, feeding your healthy probiotics foods they need to replicate and in turn create healthier hormones.

Another way to balance blood sugar is to make sure carbohydrates are paired with protein and/or fat at every meal and snack. Spacing carbohydrates out throughout the day is also important for adrenal function. This prevents blood sugar from dipping too low, which will also increase demand on the adrenals to release cortisol.

But to truly know which carbs are best for you, I’d recommend the Nirvana Diet™. I created this Diet to know exactly which foods, and in this case carbohydrates, you should be eating based upon your genetics. It takes the guess work out of knowing which foods are best for balancing your hormones!

The takeaway? Carbs are not the enemy. Eating quality carbs in balance with a whole food diet, can be supportive of all of your hormones in helping to regulate your body’s ability to stay balanced, happy, and regenerating stronger cells.

The Link Between Food Intolerance, Hormones and Your Gut Health

The Link Between Food Intolerance, Hormones and Your Gut Health

Welcome to Regenerate You!

If you find yourself struggling with food intolerances of any kind, then it’s most likely causing an imbalance in your hormones as well. And if you’ve been diagnosed with low testosterone, PCOSestrogen dominancethyroid issues, or insulin resistance; then your food sensitivities are making them worse.

In this Podcast, I discuss how they’re linked and where to begin to help heal and regenerate your body from the attack on your immune system.

If you’re looking for additional advice, feel free to visit my blog here. You can also stay connected with me on my Facebook page @DrNirvanaHeals or on my Instagram @DrNirvana.

Please subscribe and share this podcast to spread the health.


And remember, when you regenerate, there’s a new you every day!

Do you have the Fat Genes?

How your Genetics can Impact your Weight Loss

If you feel like you can’t lose weight no matter what you try, genetics may be playing a role, albeit small. The exciting news is that through gene/environment interactions, genes are being switched on and off based on lifestyle cues. You have more control over the way that your genes are expressed than we ever thought possible. Furthermore, the science of genetics has shown that great genes come from turning genes on and off to your advantage. If you’re struggling with weight gain/weight loss resistance, you want to know about the genes that may be driving you to be more hungry or addicted to carbs, so that you can do something about how those genes are being expressed.

Below are three of the most common genes impacting your metabolism and weight loss or gain:

FTO Gene: Impacts Food Intake

One of the most studied obesity genes is FRO which stands for Fat Mass and Obesity Associated. FTO seems to act as a nutrient sensor, affecting the amount of food a person wants to eat, and their hunger. Variations in the gene that encodes for FTO could affect the ability of FTO to regulate food intake and lower satiety. Scientists have found that people with certain variations in this gene have a higher BMI.  What can turn off this gene naturally?  Regular physical activity is the answer for those who have the gene and would like to keep it “dormant”.

PPARG Gene: Impacts Fat Metabolism

Another gene affecting weight gain is the one that encodes for PPARG, a protein involved in fat metabolism. When activated, PPARG creates fat cells and helps with the uptake of dietary fats from your blood. Too much activation of PPARG can cause weight gain and increase the risk for heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. Obese individuals have much higher amounts of this protein in their fat tissue. In addition, studies have shown that postmenopausal women who have variations PPARG gain more weight than those who don’t.

ADRB2 Gene: Impacts Fat Breakdown

The adrenergic beta-2 surface receptor gene (ADRB2) codes for a protein that plays an important role in the breakdown of fat. (When the hormone epinephrine is released, it can bind to ADRB2, which increases energy by breaking down fat molecules.) Certain variations are associated with an increased risk of metabolic syndrome in women, result in risk factors that display an increase risk of diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular disease. Prevalence of metabolic syndrome is higher in middle-aged women than middle-aged men, as is greater cardiovascular risk.

If you are interested in having your genes tested, please contact the office here, or learn more about how the DrNirvanaDiet can help you discover your genetic propensity towards weight loss.

Increase Your Lifespan Naturally

Increase Your Lifespan Naturally

Increase Your Lifespan Naturally

How your Environment Impacts your Health

Only 10 percent of your genetics determine how you will age—some of which we can turn on and off—and the other 90 percent is lifestyle. So we actually have an extraordinary amount of control over the length of our health span (years of good health).

The signs of aging can vary from decreased libido, increase in belly fat and memory loss. But there are some primary NATURAL techniques that can decelerate the speed at which you age.

nutrigenomics antiaging natural weightloss newportbeach doctorWhile you can’t change your genetic makeup, you certainly can modify the environment in which you live.

Since mapping the human genome, scientists developed an important complementary concept called the exposome— the measure of all the exposures of an individual in a lifetime and how those exposures relate to health. From diet and lifestyle to behavior, as well as how the body responds to them, and, finally, how these exposures relate to health. These factors have the power to work for or against you, and can adjust how your genes are expressed in your DNA sequence.

So what controls most of your “exposome”? Your daily habits of body and mind, both conscious and unconscious, including how and how often you move, environmental exposures in your home and office, what you eat and drink, and how you manage or mismanage your hormones. Practical lifestyle changes allow you to manage your exposures and personalize your approach to preventing disease and unnecessary aging.

Because of this, I’ve developed a test that examines the specific biomarkers in your DNA, that can be detected in your saliva, and reveal how your body processes foods and the impact of them on your genetics.

What are some tips that can help you in the meantime to increase the quality and quantity of your life?

  1. Sleep – Sleep is magic, a vital health boost for both body and brain. You want to make sure you’re getting all you can from your sleep time.
  2. Sun – Improve your exposome with positive exposures via saunas (dry and infrared) or heat (hot tubs or steam rooms). Sauna heat stressors reset the body and activate longevity genes. Better yet, increase your time outdoors and take in some nature. Not only with the sun’s rays boost your Vitamin D levels which are vital for a healthy brain, but the surrounding nature will feed your soul.
  3. Greens – Make sure to include dark green leafy vegetables with at least one meal per day. The amount of antioxidants and fiber help to nourish your cells immune capacity and endurance.

If you are interested in testing your DNA, to release weight, and eat the best diet for your body’s predetermined genetics, please contact the office here.


Live your Healthiest Life Possible

Live your Healthiest Life Possible

L I V E   Y O U R   H E A L T H I E S T   L I F E

Optimize your Health with a Simple Test – For Good

As a Naturopathic Doctor I often talk about how to make healthy eating more realistic. There’s a lot that’s within your control, like focusing on eating whole, healthy foods instead of counting calories, and organizing your kitchen to make it harder to accidentally overindulge.

But I also know that eating well isn’t just about choosing to do so—genetics determine a lot, too. With that in mind, I created the DrNirvana Diet™ to pinpoint how genetics are effecting my patient’s nutritional needs.

As it turns out, your saliva holds a lot of surprising information about how you can live the healthiest life.nutrigenomics dna diet optimize health weight loss newport beach doctor

So what exactly does the DrNirvana Diet™ reveal? It’s actually more straight forward than you might imagine. We know that the one-size-fits-all approach to nutrition is not working and that individualized nutrition support is crucial to health and optimizing body composition and performance.

The DrNirvana Diet helps by giving you results that help you to see such things as whether a high-protein or high-fat diet may be best for weight loss, your inherent tendency to eat between meals, whether you have lactose and gluten intolerances, your motivation to exercise, and even your propensity for Achilles tendon injuries. All these things are coded in your genes.

YOU have the potential to make big impacts on your long-term health, and that’s the real takeaway here. Making huge changes to overhaul your diet usually isn’t necessary—instead, it’s all about making tiny yet sustainable changes that will deliver BIG results down the line.

Are you ready to discover the secrets in your genetic codes and change your life for the better?  Are you looking to be energized without the help of caffeine, live a life without medications, and increase your health overall, with the help of The DrNirvana Diet™? Then contact us to begin today.

The Connection Between Diet, Hormones and Beauty

The Connection Between Diet, Hormones and Beauty

The Connection Between Diet, Hormones and Beauty

Do you often find that your skin has lost the luster it once had? Or all of a sudden, as an adult your skin has become more prone to acne or breakouts? If you find yourself allergic to certain foods & think that it’s only effecting your stomach, you may want to think again. Food allergies affect every aspect of your body, such as your hormones and your complexion.

Below are some examples of various foods that are known to cause some issues:

  • Evidence has shown that high-glycemic foods may be the trigger for inflammatory conditions, like acne. Foods high in sugar effect proper hormone metabolism, therefore resulting in skin issues.
  • Similarly, dairy can be problematic if you are prone to cystic breakouts in the chin and jawline area. Since most dairy cows are given growth hormones, the consumption of milk, cheese, & yogurt become factors that influence endogenous hormones & mimic the hormones that trigger oil production in the skin.
  • If you struggle with under facial & eye puffiness, eating foods high in sodium will encourage water retention.

balancing hormones glowing complexion beautiful skin and diet

How to Help

Step 1: Eat foods that contain antioxidants, such as avocados, berries, spinach, dark-skinned grapes, & cantaloupe.  Antioxidants have the power to protect you from disease and slow the aging process, as they fight the free radicals in your body that can harm your cells.

Step 2: Load up on vitamin C  every single day. If you’re looking to improve the appearance of your skin & slow down aging from inside out, the best ones to eat to get your daily vitamin C are dark, leafy greens, broccoli, cantaloupe, kale, sweet potatoes , red peppers, strawberries, oranges, tomatoes, & grapefruit.

Step 3: The best fish to eat is cold-water fish. Try to include sardines, tuna, mackerel, cod, herring, & trout in your diet whenever possible. All of these have the best essential fats for smoother, more moisturized skin, increased energy, & improved immunity.

Step 4: Begin The DrNirvana Diet™ to get to the root cause of how your genes can help you reveal your best in beauty and health.