Jenny had never had a weight problem, or any other health problem for that matter. In fact, at 45, the San Francisco mother looked 28. But then, for what seemed like no reason at all, she started gaining weight.
The first five pounds were annoying, but after an extra 15 pounds crept onto her tiny frame-accompanied by insomnia and the cessation of her period for four straight months-she knew the writing was on the wall. Jenny was having classic "change of life" symptoms. Other emerging symptoms-anxiety issues, sugar cravings, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), dairy sensitivity, and a chronic pain in the area of her liver-were even more troubling than the sudden weight gain.
The Leptin Connection to Health
Jenny's doctor recommended a typical calorie- and fat-restricted diet and some pharmaceutical options. Around the same time, Jenny picked up the December issue of Better Nutrition and read an article by health expert Kat James about the healing effects of a low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) diet. She decided to give it a try. (For details, search "Beyond Paleo" at betternutrition.com.)
Without understanding the impact that the little-known "master" hormone leptin has on all hormonal, autoimmune, thyroid, and digestive functions (see "The Skinny on Fat, Cholesterol, and Hormone Balance," below), it would be hard to believe what happened to Jenny next.
By day three of the retreat, Jenny reported that her IBS symptoms and dairy-induced "digestive funkiness" were gone. Weight began falling off at the retreat. Most surprising, Jenny got her period for the first time in four months while she was at the retreat. Three weeks after attending James' LCHF diet retreats, Jenny realized that many of her menopausal symptoms had disappeared as well.
"I was the one who was always excusing myself to use the bathroom after drinking milk or putting cream in my tea," says Jenny. "That sensitivity to dairy vanished once I eliminated carbs from my diet." It was shocking, she said, and adds that her dairy-related digestive issues return these days only if she eats dairy and carbs at the same time.
"My sugar cravings stopped and my belly bloat ‘deflated' while at the retreat. Also, my sleep became deeper, and I felt much calmer by the time I got home-so much so that everyone noticed I was not as easily frazzled by my kids. I lost 11 of the 15 pounds I'd gained over the previous year within a week of returning home, without much effort. That is the most incredible thing to me. It feels like a new lease on life," says Jenny.
Fast-forward two months: "I've gone down three jean sizes-I'm basically back to where I was before the menopausal symptoms started," says Jenny.
Jenny credits a low-carb, high-fat diet with helping her lose 15 pounds and find relief from anxiety, IBS, and more.
THE SKINNY ON FAT, CHOLESTEROL AND HORMONE BALANCE
According to Ron Rosedale, MD, a world-renowned metabolic and hormonal health expert and author of The Rosedale Diet, the hormone leptin has a major impact on all other hormones-including estrogen and progesterone-due to its control over reproductive and hypothalamic brain functions, which, in turn, control ovarian function via the pituitary gland.
"As someone becomes more sensitive to leptin through a high-fat, very-low-carb diet, proper FSH and LH signaling is restored, and a woman's menstrual periods are likely to resume, even if menopause seemed certain before.
"Leptin also has a profound impact on thyroid function, and thus, significant impact on hair and skin. Its ability to balance the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems generally brings on deeper sleep and capacity for both rest and digestion. In addition, the immune-modulating capabilities of leptin will resolve a wide variety of autoimmune reactions, including reactivity to certain foods. Essentially, what is happening is that aging is being somewhat slowed and in some cases reversed."
Cheryl's Story: Taking Life by the Horns
Cheryl from Alberta, Canada, a 50-year-old mother of five, suffered from high blood pressure, diabetes, IBS, and what she describes as "food prison." As she approached menopause, Cheryl worried that her health issues would worsen. She knew her diet needed an overhaul, so she signed up for one of James' LCHF diet retreats, which take place across the U.S. throughout the year. And that's when her health turnaround began.
At the week-long retreat, Cheryl learned to completely revamp her diet by dramatically cutting down on carbs and sugar, increasing intake of fats (in the program, whole-fat dairy, avocado, olive oils, grass-fed meat, and eggs are all on the menu-trans-fats are not), and learning to listen to her body's cues. "I was amazed that by the time I got back to Canada a week later, all that cruddy food in the supermarket was no longer appetizing to me," Cheryl says. "My energy and productivity went through the roof. My friends were stunned, not only by how I looked, but also by how differently I suddenly behaved around food-no more portion control or negativity around food! I am down 35 pounds. Friends say it looks like I've lost 50. But the real miracle is that all of this happened without willpower or suffering."
Cheryl has seen all of her major health challenges (e.g., IBS, type 2 diabetes) virtually disappear as a result of following a LCHF diet. "My blood pressure, blood lipid, and blood sugar numbers all fell back into the normal range, and I was able to stop taking prescription meds for these conditions," she says. But that's not all. Cheryl has noticed several other changes as well. "My rosacea is even clearing," she says. "I feel and look better now than I have in, easily, 15 years. I'm learning to ride a motorcycle and taking life by the horns again."
Cheryl says her friends were "stunned" when they saw how differently she was behaving around food.
For more information about Kat James and Total Transformation, the original LCHF diet and inside-out transformational lifestyle retreats, visit James online at informedbeauty.com. For live interviews with health experts and real-life makeover stories, listen to James' radio show on Family Talk SIRIUS XM channel 131 (thekatjamesshow.com).
Supplements for Hormonal Harmony
LeptiPURE by OptiChoice to modulate insulin and leptin response for improved
cellular sensitivity to leptin and overall hormonal balance and production.
Transitions Herbs for Menopause by Pure Essence Labsto assist with overall hormonal balance and a wide variety of perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms.
Pregnenelone Cream by Life-Flo Natural Living as a precursor for the body's progesterone and DHEA production; useful in cases of estrogen dominance.
Gamma Oryzanol by Source Naturalsto reduce hot flashes and help regulate blood lipids.
Ultimate Omega 2x fish oils by Nordic Naturals for mood, skin, blood sugar, joint, and cardiovascular support.
Dr. Ohhira's Probiotics by Essential Formulas to reduce digestive issues and autoimmune tendencies, optimize hormone processing, and reduce estrogen dominance, weight gain, and cravings.
Thyroid Balance by Dr. Venessa's Formulas for comprehensive thyroid support.