Episode 9: Hormones, Depression and Slowing Down – In Conversation with Kari Klein

In today’s episode, Dr. Toni has a candid conversation with transformational coach Kari Klein about her experience as a perimenopausal mama.
In this episode, we cover Kari’s journey with:

  • Quickly going from pregnancy to perimenopause to menopause
  • The impact of blood sugar swings on brain function
  • Shifting diet to more healthy fats and less refined carbohydrates
  • Feelings of depression, irritability and rage impacting her parenting
  • Looking for the deeper root behind what wasn’t working
  • Dutch hormone testing determining high estrogen and low progesterone
  • How liver and progesterone support was the key to quickly create emotional balance
  • Recognizing that was is seen as “normal” or common is not natural or optimal
  • How adrenal support was not the answer to the feeling of “running on empty”
  • The importance of slowing down to speed it up
  • Coaching women (and their partners) to tap into their wisdom to reduce stress
  • Shifting her feelings around intimacy in her marriage after having a baby

Powerful Mama Advice from Kari:

If you look at our species as a whole, we are running on fumes and we are out of our natural habitat. By giving grace to yourself, you can look at how you’ve moved away from what is natural for you.

Want to connect with Kari? Find her on Instagram @thislifekariklein and online at kariklein.ca

Today’s Mama Must Have:

Kari shares how the Gro Clock has made a huge difference in how she starts her and her son start their day and how she gets things done in the morning. Find it online HERE.

As an Amazon Associate Dr. Toni earns from qualifying purchases, which helps to keep this podcast up and running! 

Thank you for joining us today! 

Have any comments, suggestions or burning questions? Email us or connect with us on Facebook and Instagram. We’d love you to subscribe, leave us a review and a 5 star rating if you enjoyed this episode.

Please tell your perimenopausal mama friends about us, too!

Episode 8: Leaky Gut and Your Microbiome: How These Impact Your Health and What to Do About It

Today, we’re going to talk about a huge topic. Digestion and absorption of your food is the foundation for the health of your whole body. It gives you all the blocking blocks for making your hormones and balancing your hormones.

If you are growing a garden, you want to give each plant the right soil with all the right nutrients it needs. If you don’t, the garden could wilt and die.

If you have leaky gut, you can experience digestive symptoms like gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation and heartburn. However, leaky gut also causes inflammation in the rest of your body.  It impacts the whole body. Some of the symptoms of leaky gut aren’t directly related to your digestive system and include:

  • Headaches and migraines
  • Joint pain
  • Skin rashes like eczema, psoriasis, hives
  • Getting sick often due to weakened immune system
  • Allergies and sinus issues
  • Autoimmune conditions like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis
  • Mood disorders like depression and anxiety
  • Acceleration of neurological conditions like dementia 

What is leaky gut?

As Dr. Toni likes to point out, leaky gut doesn’t sound very scientific. Actually, leaky gut is increased intestinal permeability. Your gut is like a big tube that travels between your mouth and anus. You have a layer of cells that separates your inside world from the outside world. The cells should be held tightly together so that only the things we need get through into your bloodstream. 

When the cell layer becomes compromised, the junction that tightly connects the layer of cells together can become loose. This damage allows food particles through the cell layer into your circulation and your immune system sees these food particles as a threat like a virus or bacteria. Then, your immune system starts to mount a response against these food particles that it normally wouldn’t react to and builds antibodies. The antibodies can create inflammatory complexes with the food particle trigger and can travel throughout your bloodstream and be deposited in the brain, joints and other areas of your body.

Leaky gut can be linked to a leaky blood brain barrier. Leaky brain can contribute to various symptoms like:

  • Fatigue
  • Brain fog
  • Headaches
  • Lack of concentration and focus
  • Behavioural issues

You might experience food sensitivities differently at different points in your life. With the immune system and hormonal changes during pregnancy, Dr. Toni found that she could tolerate eating more wheat, dairy and yeast while pregnant and breastfeeding. The further Dr. Toni gets away from being pregnant and breastfeeding, the more she can’t tolerate those foods.

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you may be able to better tolerate foods that you react to otherwise. Your immune system shifts to react less, which helps your kids be less likely to develop food allergies. Recent research suggests that women should not avoid high allergy foods like peanuts, nuts, wheat and dairy while pregnant and breastfeeding, in order to prevent allergies in their kids..

What is your microbiome?

You have 10X more microbial cells than actual cells in your body. You have more bacteria in you than is actually you! We have evolved as human beings to depend on the bacteria along our digestive tract. Your beneficial bacteria plays a number of different roles in your body. 

Benefits of your gut microbiome include:

  • production of short chain fatty acids like butyrate, which is important for maintaining a healthy blood brain barrier
  • production and absorption of nutrients like vitamin B12 along your intestines
  • proper function of the patches of immune system tissue along your digestive tract
  • balancing your immune system to prevent allergies and autoimmunity

You were originally exposed to your microbiome at birth. How and where you were born and fed as babies affected the colonization and growth of the bacteria along your digestive tract. Babies born vaginally are exposed to the bacteria from their mom along the birth canal, while babies born via C-section don’t have that same exposure. Breast milk provides the food for beneficial bacteria, also called prebiotics. While not exactly the same as what is found in breast milk, similar prebiotics and probiotics are being added to infant formula. 

If you were born via C-section or not breastfed as a baby like Dr. Lisa, all is not lost. However, you may need to take some extra probiotic supplements or focus on prebiotic foods to support your microbiome for optimal health. 

What causes leaky gut?

You may have higher susceptibility to developing leaky gut if you:

  • Were born via C-section
  • Were exclusively formula fed as a baby
  • Have a history of multiple rounds of antibiotics
  • Previously or currently take other medications, like NSAIDs, acid inhibitors, birth control pill
  • Have food sensitivities like gluten or high intake of sugar and processed foods
  • Experience high levels of stress, including relationship conflicts
  • Have overgrowth of yeast or bacteria in the intestinal tract like SIBO

What is the connection between your gut and your brain?

There is a lot of research currently looking at the brain-gut axis. Our neurotransmitters that impact our behaviour and mood are mostly produced in the gut. This includes serotonin, most widely known for its association with feeling happy. 

Your gut and brain talk to each other. The vagus nerve is a link between the brain and your digestive function. If it’s not working properly, your digestive motility doesn’t work properly. This impacts how your food moves through your digestive system. 

If you’re stressed out or rushing around, your nervous system is in the sympathetic mode, also known as fight or flight. In this state, digestion is not a priority. The proper digestive juices, like stomach acid and your digestive enzymes, are not flowing to break down food. This reduces how well you can absorb the nutrients you need that act as the building blocks for ideal hormone health.

How can you measure your gut health?

There are some specialized laboratories in Canada and the United States that provide comprehensive assessment of your gut health that aren’t available from the conventional medical system. 

Lab tests can include:

  • Food sensitivity testing
  • Lactulose breath test
  • Comprehensive stool analysis
  • GI-MAP
  • IBS-Smart

How do you know what lab tests are needed? 

Seeing a naturopathic doctor is helpful to get guidance and figure out what is right for you. 

What can you do about leaky gut?

In addition to supporting your digestion, leaky gut can be treated and prevented with some of the following tips:

  • Avoid antibacterial products, especially those with triclosan
  • Enjoy fermented foods and probiotic supplements
  • Get more gut supporting nutrients like NAG from bone broth
  • Avoid food sensitivities
  • Support proper digestion with apple cider vinegar or bitters
  • Consider gut healing supplements like L-glutamine, slippery elm

Today’s Mama Must Have:

Dr. Lisa prefers to use this Shoosha organic body wash for her little guy, as it is rated high on the EWG Skin Deep database and doesn’t contain harsh chemicals that can disrupt the microbe.

As an Amazon Associate Dr. Toni earns from qualifying purchases, which helps to keep this podcast up and running! 

Thank you for joining us today! 

Have any comments, suggestions or burning questions? Email us or connect with us on Facebook and Instagram. We’d love you to subscribe, leave us a review and a 5 star rating if you enjoyed this episode.

Please tell your perimenopausal mama friends about us, too!

Episode 7: Anxiety, Mom Guilt and Getting Out of Your Head – In Conversation with Kimberly Mueller

In today’s episode, Dr. Toni is speaking to registered psychologist and neurofeedback therapist, Kimberly Mueller about the mental/emotional side of parenting and health. This conversation was recorded back in August.

In this juicy episode, we cover:

  • Lessening your egoic attachment to your kids
  • Awareness of how your experience with your own parents impacts how you parent your kids
  • The inevitability of mom guilt
  • Distorted thought patterns women can get stuck in
  • How mood follows action
  • How trauma, anxiety, sleep and nervous system patterns can shift with neurofeedback brain training

Powerful Mama Advice from Kimberly:

Are you anxious about what your child is doing or not doing, especially in regard to their grades in school, their behaviour in public or their activities like dance or sports?

Remember that your kids are not yours; they are with you right now for a period of time before they go out into the world. Your kids do not have to define you and your identity doesn’t have to be tied up in them. It can be helpful to loosen your egoic attachment to who your child is, what they are saying or how they are acting. This can lessen some of the stress and anxiety you may feel about who your child is becoming. As a result, this can give your kids the permission they need to be loved and accepted for exactly who they are without conditions and expectations.

This idea can be a shift from previous generations. Growing up, you may have felt the burden that you had to be a particular kind of person or fit into a specific mold and that it wasn’t ok to be different. You may even regress back to feeling that way when you go back to your childhood home now!

As an adult, you might still be healing from the idea that it’s not ok to be yourself or you have to be a certain way. Hopefully, we can all step into a new fluidity and looseness around the rigid belief system we grew up in. 

Your experience growing up with your own parents can colour how you parent your own kids. 

When you become an adult, there is a lot of value in seeing your parents for who they really are. We can begin to see the inevitable faults in our parents and their parenting choices. With increased self-awareness, you can start to be radically honest with yourself and be willing to see the tendency of your parents in your own parenting. If your mother yelled often when you were growing up, you might be yelling often with your children. If your mother was a disagreeable personality type and your father was an agreeable personality type, you are likely going to think it’s ok for one person to often succumb to another person’s opinion or desires.

By breaking down how your family of origin influenced you, you can see how some of your parents’ faults might be manifesting in your own parenting. Because of that conditioning on your nervous system over the years, changing how you respond to different situations doesn’t happen overnight. This is also the case with your partner, too! Give yourself permission to make mistakes and learn from them. 

Mom Guilt, Anyone?

The idea of the perfect, happy image that can be present on social media doesn’t help with some of the inevitable mom guilt that you can experience. While mom guilt is inevitable, it is manageable. You are knocking on some primitive parts of your brain when you are experiencing mom guilt. You are evolutionarily wired to want to protect your young. When you go out to seek out resources (in other words: working), you might feel some dissidence or the feeling that something isn’t quite right at some level. Even in the 21 century, you are still operating on the same software system from many, many years ago.

From an evolutionary perspective, your tribe was designed to help raise your young. You can look at it that way when it comes to having your kids in daycare or at school while you are working. Your tribe is helping to raise your young and helping with social skills. The research 

When you have those emotions, be curious about it. Go through the process of checking in with yourself. Are you working a lot of extra hours and being more short with your kids because of guilt around that? Even if you love your job, this can come up over and over again. Is the guilt coming from a place of your spidey sense telling you that something is off? 

While nothing is perfect, often mom guilt can be turned down when you feel comfortable with the care that your kids are getting when you are at work. Honour your intuition if your gut is telling you to make a change. It’s helpful to have someone in your life to talk it out, whether it is your partner, friend, another family member or a therapist.

Could everyone benefit from therapy and seeing a psychologist? 

The biased answer is yes! Being aware of your emotions and putting a label on it is the biggest part of making change and feel better. You don’t need to have a problem or diagnosis to benefit from working with a therapist. It can help look at things in your life with a new lens that you may not have considered. Mental training and emotional agility is something that needs work, like training for your physical health and how brushing your teeth is necessary for your dental health and overall well-being. 

Do you get lost in your head?

Our minds can be a dangerous place! Our imagination can create stories and narratives that are not true. 

Examples of distorted thoughts include:

  • Mind reading – you think you know what another person is thinking, even though they aren’t thinking that way
  • Catastrophizing – you think that if one thing goes wrong, then another and another will happen and create a problem that is far worse than it really is

These distorted thoughts can be challenged by a therapist or a really good objective friend. Seeing a therapist can be a great alternative to talking to a friend because it can be hard for a friend to not be biased or not just say something you want to hear in order to affect the friendship and be nice. While your social tribe is there to unconditionally support you, a therapist is objective with no skin in the game. Also, you are wired to want to keep your status and position amongst your tribe to ensure survival. While it is great to share with close friends, you can say whatever is there for you with a therapist without worrying about the potential impact.

Mood follows action. 

You might not have the “perfect” mood to go out for a walk or go to a new place. It can be hard, but by not doing it, you are reinforcing the same pattern that there is something to be afraid of or is threatening.

Just talking about patterns around past trauma and anxiety (big or little) you might be stuck in sometimes isn’t enough to remove them. This involves the firing of neurons in different areas of the brain and different brain neurotransmitters.

Neurofeedback trains the brain and can help re-organize the brain at the subconscious level. As a result, the brain is no longer firing or stuck in the patterns that are causing anxiety or insomnia or keeping trauma stuck in the body. 

Your brain doesn’t want to exert a lot of energy. It takes a lot of energy to be anxious, depressed or ADHD. Neurofeedback helps the brain to become more efficient and resilient. Like the internet, neurofeedback is super easy to use but incredibly complex in how it’s organized behind the scenes.

Neurofeedback has been helpful for some women to wean off anti-anxiety medication. Also, Dr. Toni has experienced the benefits of neurofeedback while pregnant to calm anxiety, reduce the amount of waking in the middle of the night and gain better sleep quality. 

Today’s tip: Take a deep breath. Recognize that you’re doing the best you can and your kids are doing the best they can. Support each other and celebrate our successes. 

Mama Must Have:

Dr. Toni recommends an indestructible stainless steel water bottles for moms and kids, too. She loves Klean Kanteen for herself and her daughter Frankie. 

Find a Klean Kanteen for your child online HERE.

Kim recommends having a guide for free, fun family activities in your area, like Calgary’s Child.

Find out more about cognitive behaviour therapy, neurofeedback and Kimberly’s approach at www.psychologycalgary.com 

As an Amazon Associate Dr. Toni earns from qualifying purchases, which helps to keep this podcast up and running! 

Thank you for joining us today! 

Have any comments, suggestions or burning questions? Email us or connect with us on Facebook and Instagram. We’d love you to subscribe, leave us a review and a 5 star rating if you enjoyed this episode.

Please tell your perimenopausal mama friends about us, too!

Episode 6: Healthy Hormone Hacks Challenge Summary: 10 Simple Tips to Balance Hormones and Boost Energy

In today’s episode, we are reviewing all the tips from our recent 10 Day Healthy Hormone Challenge. These simple tips help to support your hormone balance, increase your energy and support your overall health.

Tip #1: Aim to drink 2 litres of water daily, including herbal tea

Benefits of drinking water include:

  • Avoid dehydration symptoms like headaches and low energy
  • Keeping hunger at bay
  • Helping with weight management and metabolism

Recommended strategies you can use to get the most out of your water intake:

  • Use a filter like Santevia or Berkey to reduce contaminants like lead and other heavy metals, as well as prescription medications that can unfortunately be found in your water supply
  • Drink warm water first thing in the morning to support your digestion
  • Use an app like Water Minder to remind you to drink your water
  • Always keep a glass or mug by your desk at home or work to refill throughout the day
  • Bring a reusable water bottle with you everywhere 

Tip #2: Reduce stress with deep breathing

Benefits of deep breathing exercises include:

  • Better stress management and lower stress hormone cortisol
  • Increased mental clarity, concentration, memory and focus
  • Decreased anxiety
  • Improved sleep
  • Lower blood pressure

Box Breathing: inhale for a count of 4, hold for a count of 4, exhale for a count of 4

Get in deep breathing throughout the day by taking a few deep breaths:

  • When you link it to the colour red, for example, at a stop sign or red light
  • When you hear your phone ring or beep from a notification

Tip #3: Increase your fibre intake to at least 25 grams daily

Fibre helps binding up your used hormones and other garbage to support toxin elimination and proper hormone balance. Different types of fibre are found in vegetables, fruit, legumes, beans, nuts and seeds

Easy ways to add in more fibre daily include:

Tip #4: Ditch the plastic to avoid hormone-disrupting BPA and BPS

BPA and BPS can act like estrogen and worsen:

  • Breast tenderness
  • Weight gain
  • PMS mood swings

Start to swap out your plastic:

  • Alternative to plastic food bags: silicone food bags by Stasher
  • Instead of plastic wrap: beeswax wraps by Abeego
  • Switch out plastic bottles with glass or stainless steel bottles like Klean Kanteen
  • Use stainless steel mug like Contigo instead of takeout coffee cups
  • Reusable silicone or stainless steel straws instead of plastic straws

Tip #5: Eat organic when you can to reduce your exposure to pesticide residues

Check out the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 lists by Environmental Working Group (EWG) to see what veggies and fruit have the highest levels of pesticide residues.  

Always aim to buy organic “Dirty Dozen” fruit and veggies: strawberries, spinach, kale, nectarines, apples, grapes, peaches, cherries, pears, tomatoes, celery, potatoes

Can’t buy organic? Focus on the Clean 15: avocado, sweet corn, pineapple, sweet peas (frozen), onion, papaya, eggplant, asparagus, kiwi, cabbage, cauliflower, cantaloupe, broccoli, mushrooms, honeydew melon

To remove pesticide residues from conventional non-organic produce, consider soaking all fruit and veggies in 10% vinegar and washing with baking soda.

Tip #6: Balance hormones by supporting estrogen detoxification

Symptoms of perimenopause can often be linked to relative estrogen excess and progesterone deficiency. These can include:

  • Hot flashes
  • Night sweats
  • Trouble losing weight
  • PMS
  • Breast tenderness

Cruciferous vegetables can support your liver’s ability to detoxify excess estrogens. Eat lightly steamed or sauteed veggies for easier digestion, especially during the winter. These can include broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, kale, rutabaga, bok choy, collard greens and turnip.

Quick tip: Buy frozen and organic cauliflower, broccoli or vegetable medley mix, then lightly steam or serve sauteed.

One of our favourite cruciferous veggie recipes is this Roasted Cauliflower Dip (paleo, gluten-free and dairy-free).

Tip #7: Eat more detoxifying herbs

Herbs that support liver and kidney function with extra antioxidants include: cilantro, parsley, coriander, turmeric, ginger, garlic

An easy recipe to add to chicken, fish, pasta to get in more detoxifying herbs is this Vegan Nut-Free Avocado Pesto Sauce.

Enjoy detoxifying herbs like milk thistle, dandelion root, schizandra and burdock root daily in tea form by buying a blend like Traditional Medicinals or make your own blend with this recipe for Herb and Fruit Infused Water.

Tip #8: Get your sleep

Between hot flashes and not being able to turn your brain off, sleep can be a challenge in perimenopause. Get your body ready for a deep and restful sleep with proper sleep etiquette. 

Simple tips for a good night’s sleep:

  • Turn off screens at least one hour before bed
  • Use blue blocker glasses like Cyxus
  • Lower your thermostat or wear minimal clothing to bed
  • Try hot shower or bath before bed to cool your core temperature 
  • Consider using a weighted blanket
  • Wind down with meditation, yoga nidra or journaling

Want more sleep hygiene tips? Check out our Sleep Solutions Episode!

Tip #9: Move your body

Benefits of physical activity and movement include:

  • Decreasing stress hormones
  • Supporting circulation
  • Improving mental health
  • Decreasing Liver Qi stagnation symptoms like PMS

How do you fit more movement into your day?

  • Exercise snacks: get up from desk every hour – plank, squats, jumping jacks or walk down the hall
  • Play with the kids outside: bundle up and walk to the park or enjoy the snow by making snow angels or snowman
  • Walk your kids to and from school or daycare
  • Park at the far end of the parking lot to get in more steps
  • Have a dance party at home
  • Ask yourself: Is it time to join a gym, yoga studio or sports team?

Tip #10: Green your personal care products

The chemicals in your body care products will be absorbed through your skin, so be mindful of the products you use. Avoid chemicals that can interfere with your hormone balance and possibly increase your cancer risk.

Avoid parabens, fragrance and other Suzuki Foundation Dirty Dozen in personal care products.

Use EWG’s Skin Deep Database at to see if the products you are using right now pass the test. Start to switch out the products that get a questionable rating.

Try out one new tip every week and do your best to support your hormone balance. 

Mama Must Have:

Dr. Lisa recommends dry skin brushing to support lymphatic circulation for eliminating toxins and exfoliating your skin. 

Find a natural bristle brush HERE.

As an Amazon Associate Dr. Toni earns from qualifying purchases, which helps to keep this podcast up and running! 

Thank you for joining us today! 

Have any comments, suggestions or burning questions? Email us or connect with us on Facebook and Instagram. We’d love you to subscribe, leave us a review and a 5 star rating if you enjoyed this episode.

Please tell your perimenopausal mama friends about us, too!