I am thrilled to have Dr. Mindy Pelz back on the show today! She was with me once before in 2020, on Episode 113. Dr. Mindy is a bestselling author, keynote speaker, nutrition, and functional health expert who has spent over two decades helping thousands of people successfully reclaim their health. She is a recognized leader in the alternative health field and a pioneer in the fasting movement, teaching the principles of a fasting lifestyle, diet variation, detox, hormones, and more. Her popular YouTube channel (which just celebrated 18 million lifetime views) regularly updates followers on the latest science-backed tools and techniques to help them reset their health. She is the host of one of the leading science podcasts, The Resetter Podcast, and the author of three best-selling books: The Menopause Reset, The Reset Factor, and The Reset Kitchen.
Both Dr. Mindy and I have reached a point in our lives where we feel inclined towards women who are energetically on the same page as we are in terms of mindset and methodology. We would both like to help the women who follow us thrive as they approach middle age, and we want to inspire them with a sense of optimism rather than despair as they head into menopause.
Dr. Mindy offers hope for women and helps them navigate middle age authentically while staying true to themselves. In this episode, we discuss an article in the New England Journal of Medicine about how ill-equipped the new generation of primary health care providers is to manage the symptoms of menopause. We dive into the importance of gut health and escaping the mindset of the rushing women syndrome (a term coined by Libby Weaver), and explain what the estrobolome is. We discuss various gadgets, including the V-Fit, the Apollo Neuro, and the Hyperbaric Oxygen Brain Tap, and talk about ways to navigate middle age as proactively as possible. Dr. Mindy also shares her best strategies for navigating middle age. Be sure to stay tuned for more!
“It is okay to say, as a powerful woman, I need help or I need emotional support.”
Dr. Mindy Pelz
IN THIS EPISODE YOU WILL LEARN:
- How to support women emotionally and encourage them to talk about their feelings as they approach menopause.
- Dr. Mindy sheds some light on the changes in middle age that could cause anxiety and depression and impact sleep quality.
- Some tips for navigating early menopause and bringing sanity back into your life.
- Dr. Mindy talks about the conversation that permitted her to find her own journey.
- It is vital to work on the inner you rather than grasping for things outside yourself.
- What happens to your body as your progesterone starts to wane?
- Dr. Mindy shares what she encourages her patients to focus on when they are in an estrogen-dominant state.
- Dr. Mindy goes through five lifestyle changes that middle-aged women need to implement.
- Dr. Mindy explains how the V-Fit can help women balance their hormones.
- The estrobolome helps the body break down, detoxify, and rid itself of estrogen.
- Why is it vital to add diverse foods to your diet?
- Dr. Mindy talks about her favorite biohacking tools to strengthen the parasympathetic nervous system.
Connect with Dr. Mindy Pelz
On her website
Connect with Cynthia Thurlow
- Follow on Twitter, Instagram & LinkedIn
- Check out Cynthia’s website
- Check Out Dry Farm Wines: www.dryfarmwines.com/cynthiathurlow
About Everyday Wellness Podcast
Welcome to the Everyday Wellness podcast with Cynthia Thurlow! Cynthia is a mom of 2 boys, wife, nurse practitioner, and intermittent fasting and nutrition expert. She has over 20 years experience in emergency medicine and cardiology, but pivoted to focus on food as medicine. She loves to share science-backed practical information to improve your overall well being and is grateful to be interviewing leaders in the health and wellness field. Her goal with Everyday Wellness is to help her listeners make simple changes to their everyday lives that will result in improved overall wellness and long term health.
Presenter: This is Everyday Wellness, a podcast dedicated to helping you achieve your health, and wellness goals, and provide practical strategies that you can use in your real life. And now, here’s your host, Nurse Practitioner Cynthia Thurlow.
Cynthia: Today, I was fortunate enough to bring Dr. Mindy Pelz back. I had her on an episode in 2020, Episode 113. And we really unpacked the concept of menopause and there are lots of experts in this space. I think about physicians like Dr. Anna Cabeca and Dr. Christiane Northrup, and then, I also think about Dr. Mindy and how she really spreads so much hope and good information for women to be able to navigate middle age in a way that allows them to authentically be themselves. We talked about a New England Journal of Medicine article, which indicates this new generation of internists and primary care providers are really ill equipped to manage menopausal symptoms. How there’re over 50 million women that are in menopause in the United States.
When you think about the physiology, the changes that occur in our bodies, hormone hierarchy, sex hormones as well, we dove into gut health and how that’s so critically important. For overall health, we talk about some of her best strategies for navigating middle age. And we talk about that odd word ‘estrobolome’ and kind of leave things off talking about how important it is to not be in this mindset of the Rushing Woman’s Syndrome, which is a term coined by Libby Weaver. We also chatted about some gadgets including the Wii Fit, and hyperbaric oxygen, BrainTap, Apollo Neuro, and lots of ways that we’re able to navigate this time in our lives and do so as proactively as possible. So, this episode today is all about menopause and practicing the parasympathetic nervous system. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Today, I’m thrilled to have Dr. Mindy Pelz back, again. I recorded with her in 2020. It was Episode 113. Hard to believe it’s been that long ago. But there’s been so much interest in the conversations that I’ve had with Dr. Mindy this year. We sat on a panel with the amazing Dave Asprey and Dr. Anna Cabeca talking about fasting, and then, I had the pleasure of being a guest on Dr. Mindy’s podcast earlier this year. The one thing that Mindy and I were just talking about before we started recording is that, I’m at a point in my life, she’s at a point in her life, we want to gravitate towards women who energetically are on the same kind of playing field mindset methodology. So, we want women that follow us, and follow and listen to our podcasts to feel a sense of hope heading into menopause as opposed to the sense of despair. Mindy says it best in her new book, The Menopause Reset. Do you want to go surviving to thriving? So, I want everyone that’s listening to have an opportunity to thrive in middle age as opposed to just surviving. And so, let’s start there.
I know before we started recording, we were talking about, you know, you have friends and colleagues that you’re starting to see some really unfortunate things that are happening in their personal lives because we’re so unprepared for this time period in our lives. I think, in some instances, I have a dear college friend who went through a pretty nasty divorce recently. I think they’re both in better positions. But let’s talk about some of the feelings around middle age that women perhaps feel uncomfortable talking to their spouse about her significant other, maybe even worse yet feel uncomfortable talking to their girlfriends or their loved ones about. So, let’s start there because we have to be able to express ourselves even if it’s ugly. Like, I was telling my husband, and you’ll all appreciate this. Last time we connected, I was taking hormone replacement therapy and I had to do a timeout because I had too much estrogen circulating. I felt really terrible, long story.
But one of the things that has impacted is that, I definitely feel a change in my mood. So, I’ve really been very proactive saying to my husband. I definitely feel, you know, I’m feeling this way or feeling that way, and he’s been great. But I acknowledge that not every woman in middle age may have the degree of support that she needs. So, what are your thoughts on how to support women emotionally and how to encourage women to talk about their feelings?
Dr. Mindy: Yeah. Oh, my God. That’s a deep question. I love it. The first thing I always say when people ask me about menopause and they have a co-ed audience, I always say, hopefully, if there’s men listening like listen, because you will understand the women in your life better If you understand her what she goes through hormonally after 40. So, I think, there’re two sides of this equation. One is helping women understand what she’s hormonally going through, helping her articulate that to the men in her life or the people in her life, and then giving her tools that she can thrive with. What my own experience with menopause was is, there was none of that. I literally it was as simple Cynthia as at 40. I felt like a flipping Rockstar. I was at the top of my game. I felt invincible.
By 43, I was honestly having suicidal thoughts. I wasn’t sleeping, I was depressed, I was anxious, there was like somebody had hijacked my mind, and all I could think was, if this is what it’s like, I don’t want to live in this. Like, if this is what my brain is going to do for the rest of my life, I don’t want to be there. So, when I went to go search for answers and I talk about this in The Menopause Reset, I got everything from an OB at my kid’s school saying like, “I don’t know what to do with these people. Do you know? You are a natural doctor. What are you doing?” I’m like, “No, I need to know how you can help me.”
Dr. Mindy: She’s like, “I have nothing.” What really shocked me is, she literally said to me, “Mindy, my medical textbooks have failed me. I have nothing to help you with.” And then, I went to my friends who were like three and four years older than me, and they laughed, and they were like, “Buck up. You’re just going to suffer through this?” I had my older sister tell me to get on antidepressants, I had my mother who I’ve now realized grew up in a much different time. And so, she didn’t have all the physical, emotional, chemical stress. She’s like, “Ah, menopause was nothing.” I was so confused. That’s where I think we start this conversation is, to women that are feeling alone, you don’t understand what’s going on with your brain, everybody’s upsetting you, all right, I want to say it’s not your fault, where you know, Cynthia, you’ve been there, I’ve been there, and there are things you can do. That’s really what The Menopause Reset was.
It is like, here are the things that I know have worked for me, and we all have different opinions about HRT and bioidenticals, and there’s a different path for every woman. But I think, the first step is understanding your hormones are going to change after 40 and it can be brutal. So, we’ve got you. Let’s walk this together, let’s talk about it so that we don’t end up lashing out at our loved ones because that’s really easy to do.
Cynthia: Yeah, it definitely is. I think, there’s a degree as much as it should not be the case because we’re very age focused culture and unpacking that could take years to review.
Dr. Mindy: That’s a whole another episode.
Cynthia: Exactly. But I think there’s a lot of shame. A lot of women don’t want to talk about their age, they don’t want to talk about menopause, or menopause symptoms, or side effects of aging because they feel shameful. They feel like they’ve done something wrong, and yet it’s reverse puberty. That’s the easiest way to describe it. I’ve got teenage boys who are like everything’s ramping up, and then, I’m on the other side. So, I like to remind women that there are a lot of things that change physiologically in our bodies, and I think from everything I’ve read, and certainly, correct me if I’m wrong, I think, it really starts with this progesterone drifting downward as our ovaries are not producing as much progesterone and we’re not ovulating every month, and yes, I get women damning me. They’ll say, “I still get a period and I’m 54.”Well, you’re probably ovulating like twice a year, maybe if that. May be getting a cycle that you’re there. You’re knocking on the door of menopause.
But I think it’s really important for people to understand some of the broad stroke kind of physiologic things that are happening in our bodies. It doesn’t necessarily just start at 43. Probably at 35, we start having these fluctuations. And I really believe when I was exhausted in my mid-30s, and I was telling myself, it’s because you have a one-year-old and a three-year-old, and you’re chasing after two boys, it was probably very likely diminishing progesterone impacting sleep, and I just kind of was making excuses for it. So, let’s start there so women can understand like, what are some of the broad stroke changes that start occurring that impact anxiety, depression, sleep quality? Because it really does start that basic. I remind women that sleep is foundational to our health. But I think for many of us, we just kind of go, “Oh, I’m 45 and my sleep’s not going to be like it was when I was 20.” But it could be, you could have restorative sleep So, let’s start there.
Dr. Mindy: Yeah, it’s such a good question. One thing that along this journey that has baffled me is this term ‘perimenopause.’ Even the term menopause, it’s like, what is menopause, post-menopause, perimenopause? But when I dove into looking at the history of women’s health, we didn’t have a term called ‘perimenopause’ years ago. We’ve got women that are going into perimenopause at 35. That is not normal. We have women going into menopause at early 40s. When I started to dive into the research on menopause, the natural age to go into menopause which is officially a menopause like post-menopause as you’ve gone a year without your cycle is somewhere between 52 and 55. But I would say in my experience, I’d be curious what you notice, but in the women that I interact with, we’ve got 50% or more going into perimenopause, menopause, late 30s, early 40s. That is not normal. We need to just stop and say that is an environmental cause, let’s figure that out.
When we look at the three hormones, progesterone being the biggest. Progesterone is like one of the chapters I put the title of it was, “Dear progesterone, I’m sorry, I took you for granted.” I literally never thought about her until she was gone. Then, once progesterone was gone, I was like, “Wait, why do I feel anxious all the time? Why do I feel like dread? Why do I feel like the world is going to come crashing down on me?” Then, my brain would go to like everything from my kids or how are my kids doing, how’s my marriage, how’s my relationships, how’s my practice? I used to call it my worry scan. I would go and just be like– Then, the brain would say, “Everything’s okay. Why do I feel this dread?” That is the lack of progesterone. So, I think starting with that understanding that at 40, progesterone is going to start to make her decline, and it is the hormone. I love Carrie Jones. I have to give her credit for this. She always says, “It’s the hormone that tells you everything’s going to be okay.”
Dr. Mindy: So, if you go into your 40s and you find your brain going, “Everything’s not okay,” then, just pause for a moment and try not to think outside of you because it would be very easy, especially, this is the cruelty of menopause as a lot of our kids become teenagers, as they’re going deep into menopause. That’s rough. So, it’s easy for us to look outside ourselves and say, “Well, everything’s not okay because of this.” Because my husband did this, and my kids are doing this, and the pandemic, and this, and that, and politics, and COVID, and mandates, and we can just constantly look outside ourselves, but it is an opportunity to go, “Wait. Maybe I’m missing the hormone that calms me in this chaos.” So, to me, that’s where the conversation starts with helping women understand progesterone and understanding that, then we can dive into the other hormones.
Cynthia: But I think it’s so important. I mean, I am a Western medicine trained NP. I trained at a big research hospital and institution. I arguably would say, I got a pretty darn good education and I knew nothing-
Dr. Mindy: Yes. Me, too.
Cynthia: -about my menstrual cycle, post-pregnancy hormones. I knew nothing about perimenopause, menopause. I knew nothing. I just thought like, we blissfully go from having babies, and then, 20 years down the road, we worry about menopause. I just thought everything was balanced up until that point, and I was as surprised as probably any woman that’s listening to learn that it’s like a slow air leak.
Dr. Mindy: Yeah. Well said.
Cynthia: Yeah, it’s like a slow air leak along the way. When the balloon loses a lot of air that all of a sudden, you’re like, “Okay, something’s not okay.”
Dr. Mindy: Yeah.
Cynthia: So, progesterone. What happens in our bodies when we start losing progesterone? You’ve mentioned some of the emotional and physical symptoms, but I know that we have this nice little backup system, the cruel irony/joke, it’s like Mother Nature’s ha-ha on us, by the way, your adrenals can make some progesterone, but oh, by the way, now, you can’t handle stress like you did before. So, you’re going to be constantly stressing, these glands that are designed to help our bodies in emergencies, but we’re in like emergency backup system all the time.
Dr. Mindy: Yeah. This is why, if I could get to every 40-year-old woman what I would say would be, “Okay, you’re about to go on this slow decline.” The way that I look at it and I had to reframe it into something really positive because I spent a lot of years really being angry with how my brain and body were functioning. I started to get in touch with– Okay, my ovaries have shown up for me month after month after month. The ovaries have released eggs however many eggs I had, but two of those eggs turned into two amazing children. The ovaries are done. At 40 your ovaries are like, “I’m out and I’m going to just go into retirement. It’s going to take me about 10 to 15 years and in that process, I’m going to hand my job over to the adrenal glands.” It’s at that moment where the adrenals are like, “Wait, what? We haven’t been sleeping, we’re raising two children.” If you’re a working woman, you’re like, “I’ve got a job, I’ve got to come home and make dinner, you’re maybe 15 years into your marriage or I’m trying to make my marriage work still. And the adrenals are not capable. If you’re not aware of that as you go through your 40s, it’s a wild ride.
The first step is understanding the hand off that’s going to happen and what I’ve done and I be curious your thoughts on this to Cynthia is that, what I’ve done is, once I got a hold of progesterone because like you, I had to go back to the textbooks, and look at how these hormones were playing out as I was solving my own hormonal picture. But I decided that I needed to create spaces in my week where I said no. So, Friday afternoon and Sunday afternoon, don’t invite me anywhere. I, for my mental health need to know, if I want to sit on the couch and binge watch, my newest one I’m binge watching as Yellowstone. If you haven’t seen Yellowstone, you got to see it. If I want to binge watch Yellowstone or Schitt’s Creek, another one I love at four in the afternoon on Friday. I want my schedule cleared to do that. If girlfriend calls and says, “Let’s go get a drink,” I want my schedule cleared to do that. So, I cleared from noon on Friday and same thing on Sunday, I said, no, that was my spontaneous time. I slowly started to unwind all the yeses and create some buffers in my week so that I could just calm myself down. That actually really helped. That started to kind of bring some sanity back to my life.
Cynthia: Well and it’s interesting in your book, you’ve mentioned Rushing Woman Syndrome, and so, that’s so spoke to me because irrespective of who you are and what age you are, we are all guilty of this and how brilliant it is to say, I’m creating boundaries in my personal life to do the things energetically. I need to do so that I can relax, be present, and really take an opportunity to tap into that side of our autonomic nervous system that doesn’t get enough respect, the parasympathetic rest and repose side, and unfortunately, we’re in a culture that it really doesn’t value downtime for the most part. It really doesn’t value people saying no, and especially for reformed people pleasers and I hand up for those of you that can’t see me, that has been life changing. I think that in many ways, if you’re listening to this podcast and thinking, “Oh, yeah, I’m the Rushing Woman Syndrome where I’m on the go, feel over obligated,” but maybe that works for you in your 20s and 30s. But in your 40s and certainly, perimenopausal age range will effectively determine, I think, how you’re going to either survive or thrive in middle age.
I see so many women. There was a neighborhood that we left last year. We sold our house in a day and moved into a rental, and now, we’re finally settled again. But there were women in the neighborhood, every time they’re up running five to eight miles every morning and they just looked haggard and I was like that is the worst thing you can do to your body at this stage of the game. Unfortunately, as much as you might enjoy the runner’s high, it’s bumped up your cortisol, it’s stressing your adrenals more.
Dr. Mindy: Yeah.
Cynthia: What I found interesting when I was preparing for our podcast together and this won’t surprise you at all. There was a New England Journal of Medicine article and it was expressing concern over the fact that the newest generation of Internal Medicine primary care providers lacked the training to manage menopause symptoms. So, this is why it’s so critically important that we as women empower ourselves, get educated, get informed. In some instances, you may have to break up with the person you’re working with and that’s okay. But you need to align yourself with healthcare professionals that are going to make a lot of the lifestyle medicine recommendations that we’re going to be talking about.
Dr. Mindy: Yeah. There’re a couple things I want to highlight in that. The first is, this is why we have to have conversations like this. We have to normalize the messiness of menopause. That’s the first thing. So, as you’re listening to this like if you resonate with it, I want to create a culture where women can be vulnerable and strong at the same time. Just because you’re really struggling through menopause mentally, maybe physically, there are resources to help you, and it’s okay to say, as a powerful woman, “I need help or I need emotional support.” I think, if we, as women take back this menopause term and say, “Some days you might see me happy and cheery and other days I may call you crying and I don’t understand why.” We need to surround ourselves with women that are able to have that conversation with each other so that as we move through it. That’s really the first thing.
The second is, I had to the New England Journal of Medicine’s point, this is what happened to me and I tell the story in The Menopause Reset when I went to this doctor, and we just happen to both be moms sitting at a science fair. I don’t know about you, Cynthia, but I try not to talk shop like when I’m in mommy mode, I’m like, “I’m in mommy mode, I’m here as a mom, but I was struggling so deeply.” And we were staring at the science experiment and she was a well-respected OB in our community, and I was desperate, and when I turned her and said, “Hey, what can I do? Help me?” She said, “I don’t know. My medical textbooks have failed me.” What that did in that moment is it gave me permission to find my own journey. It was actually as shocking as her comment was, what on the whole ride home, I was like, “If Heidi doesn’t know, Holy Schmoly, who’s going to help me?” That’s when I started to dive into it.
The menopause reset what I realized is, okay, there’s a lifestyle that needs to change here. I truly believe that the happiest lives come from building it from the inside out and always working on the inner you, whether it’s spiritual, mental, or physical and start there instead of grasping for things outside of us and I still think about this like how many divorces happen to women as they go through menopause? The inside of them is not feeling good, yet, they’re pointing to the outside. So, is swapping your husband out going to be the solution? I’ve been married, God, I don’t even know how many years now. He always keeps track. It’s like 26, something like that.
Cynthia: Wow. It’s amazing.
Dr. Mindy: And there’s like lots of iterations of marriage. We’re empty nesters now, and I’m more in love with him now than I’ve ever been. I think, oh, I’m so happy, my menopausal brain didn’t let me go down the road of blaming my struggles mentally because of my lack of hormones on him. So, this is why we got to highlight the conversation so that we can understand ourselves but also, we can normalize this craziness we go through.
Cynthia: Well, and I think so many of us are on autopilot that we’re not really connecting with other people like let’s take the pandemic out of this. But even preceding the pandemic, how many parties you’ve been to, and you’re having superficial conversations, and so, I was actually saying to one of my dearest and best friends from graduate school who’s like a sister I never had, and I was saying, “I’m so grateful” like, two of my closest friends from grad school are 5, 10 years older. So, they went through menopause way before I did. They’re like, “Good for you for talking openly about it. We felt so much shame that we just kind of–” And these are nurse practitioners. They literally suffered in silence and they just said, “What was our alternative?” I said, “It’s hard for me to imagine.” I know, when I was really in the thick of perimenopause, just purely coincidently my yearly exam with my GYN was scheduled, and my period started that day, and I’ve been telling her, my periods are very heavy. So, she did an internal exam, and her first statement was, “Oh, my God, your periods are really heavy.” I said, “I’ve been telling you this.”
Before she could even say, let’s talk about liver detoxification, and dietary choices, and lifestyle it was, let’s put you on the pill. If that doesn’t work for, you don’t want to take a pill every day, I get it, let’s put an IUD. Then, it was if you don’t like that idea, then let’s do an ablation. If you really want to be rid of this problem, honest to God, let’s just do a hysterectomy. I was like, “No, no, no and no.” I was like, “There has to be a better way.” She’s like, “But your periods are so heavy.” I said, “My periods are this heavy because of where I am in time and space.” So, this is my segue. As progesterone starts to wax and wane, we get this relative estrogen dominance. This is oftentimes manifested in very heavy menstrual cycles, clotting, cramping, maybe your breasts are tender, maybe you’ve gained weight, maybe your sleep is further disrupted.
At this stage, obviously, you’re hoping that you have the ability to articulate what you’re feeling because what you’re feeling is that and frumpy. There’s no other way around it. I remember saying to my good friend, I said, “I don’t know how to describe it except I don’t feel like myself.” I’m not used to feeling fat and frumpy. I’ve never felt frumpy in my life and I feel very frumpy. So, talk about not wanting to connect with your partner and talking about not wanting to do fun things that you normally would have otherwise done without reservation. So, I think this can further isolate women, not only from themselves, but from their significant others, and their friends, and their family. So, when they’re in this estrogen dominant state, what are some of the things that you will talk to your patients about? What are some of the things you emphasize for them to be focusing on instead of the four alternatives that were offered to me that I said no to?
Dr. Mindy: Yeah, and thank God you said no. It’s trying to kill that symptom at the cost of the 70-year-old version of you that we want to be healthy and disease free. I think that’s the real message is that, sometimes in the discomfort, we just want to throw something at it. But if we can work with the lifestyle part of this, then the 70-year-old version of you, the 80-year-old version of you can thrive. That’s for me what I’m always thinking down the road at my future self. So, in The Menopause Reset, I really put out five things, and that I think need to change for women, and I can briefly go through them. I’ve been thinking lately about a sixth thing that we’ll talk about that’s coming out. But the five things, the way I would do it, if I had every 40-year-old woman that I could just tap on the back and be like, “Hey, you’re 40 now, you’ve got to change these five things. Lifestyle has to change.”
Dr. Mindy: I actually this, I’m going to digress for a second. But I’ve decided that at 40, I want every woman to get a copy of The Menopause Reset not for my own selfish needs, but because I want women to change their lifestyle at 50. You know what women need at 50? I should have given it to you, because you just turned 50?
Dr. Mindy: Do you know what a Wii Fit is?
Dr. Mindy: Oh, my God is red light therapy. This is totally off topic but every 50-year-old woman needs to know it. It’s red-light therapy for inside your vaginal area.
Dr. Mindy: And it repairs the mucosal lining inside the vaginal area and it actually can start to get estrogen producing again, it can balance your hormones. Anyways, totally different topic.
Cynthia: No, but which we need. So, whether listeners know this or not, when we lose estrogen throughout our body including our vaginal microbiome and I know you talk a little bit about this. It impacts healthy probiotics in the vaginal microbiome and they kind of die off. It’s like the fertilizers, the estrogen and when the estrogen goes, so do they, which contributes to all the vaginal symptoms that no one wants to even think about. So, I can imagine why that would be an incredibly useful [laughs] tool on many, many levels. Certainly, if listeners are interested in having us unpack vaginal stuff, we can definitely go there as well. So, let’s talk about these–
Dr. Mindy: Yeah, so anyway, so, let’s go back. I just had to make sure as your friend you knew about that.
Cynthia: I appreciate that.
Dr. Mindy: [laughs]
Cynthia: I appreciate it. I’m writing it down right now. [laughs]
Dr. Mindy: Yeah, it’s amazing. Okay, so, here are the five things. As those hormones, what’s going to happen is, progesterone is going to decline and estrogen is going to get out of control. So, you’re going to have days where estrogen is high, you’ll have days where estrogen is low, you’ll know it because your hair is going to go out of control. I can tell you as a curly headed woman, that some days I have like an afro and other days, it’s like stick straight, and it’s all because of estrogen coming and going. So, the five things are first, you’re going to find that as estrogen does her thing, you’re going to be more insulin resistant. So, you and I have a passion for fasting. This is like if a woman isn’t fasting by 40, she needs to fast. And you’re going to have to compress that eating window, you’re going to need more time to regulate the insulin and glucose. What you ate at 41 is going to put on more weight than what you ate at 31, same meal, as estrogen makes her decline. You’re going to notice the weight. So, fasting is number one.
The second is, I believe that we’ve got to do variations of keto. Now, I think, keto is great at certain moments and it’s not so good at other moments. So, this was my big aha through this whole experience for myself is that, when you start to look at just estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone, you realize that we were actually not meant to eat the same foods all throughout the whole month. Why are we teaching 13-year-olds that?
Dr. Mindy: It’s crazy. So, when estrogen loves keto, you can be insulin sensitive, you can go into your keto, you can go into longer fasts, the beginning of your cycle, you know I’ve talked about this like estrogen loves keto. Progesterone doesn’t want keto. Progesterone wants you to sit on the couch and have a tub of ice cream and a box of pizza. But we don’t want to do that either. We want to maybe swap that out for some better carbohydrates. So, we start to look in our 40s at what hormone do I need, what food can I use to match that hormone?
Then the third one is the microbiome. So, many women, oh my gosh, like rounds, rounds, rounds of antibiotics, decades of birth control, and they have no diversity in their microbiome. Well, just because you make estrogen, just because you make progesterone doesn’t mean you break it down. You’ve got to make the hormone, you’ve got to break the hormone down, and you’ve got to have cells that can use the hormone. So, it’s the microbiome that’s going to break those hormones down. So, what are you eating? Are you eating the same foods over and over again? When you make a salad, are you always doing romaine lettuce with Caesar dressing or do you put like, I love putting mint, and basil, and parsley, and microgreens? You got to open your foods up. Well, I do like chicken, and beef, and goat, and bison, and all different kinds of fish, and duck eggs, and chicken like I’m constantly trying to open up the variation of foods I eat to feed my microbiome. So, it breaks the little bit of estrogen and progesterone I’m getting at 52. It breaks that down. So, really pay attention to your microbiome.
The fourth is toxins. This is a hard one. Let’s use lipstick as an example. The lipstick you put on at 30 that has lead in it, you may have not noticed it. At 50, it could be building you cancer. So, we’ve got a swap out our beauty products, make sure we’re doing natural beauty products. We’ve got to look at our household cleaners, like we got to dive in and start to look at our toxic load. As estrogens doing it’s up and down and is kind of crazy, a lot of toxins come out of stored tissues, and they go up into the hypothalamus and pituitary, and they start to mess with our hormones even more.
Then, the last piece is what you said, and I didn’t coin that term. You got to bring Libby Weaver on. You got to bring her on. I love this woman because she wrote a book called the Rushing Woman’s Syndrome. It’s the biochemistry behind what happens when we rush. I will tell you as a strong woman, my mom taught me, “You’re a woman, you can do whatever you want.” But what she forgot to say was except when you go through menopause, you’re going to need to chill out a little bit because the Rushing Woman does not thrive in menopause. So, I had to unwind and learn the things we talked about in the beginning and say no to more.
Another part of the Rushing Woman that I think is really important is surround yourself with women that are okay when you say no. So, my closest friends, if they want to invite me somewhere and I’m over rushed that week, and I say, “Sorry, guys. I’m going to sit on the couch. I just need to rejuvenate,” they get it. As opposed to women going, “Come on, come on. Let’s go. Don’t be a loser, don’t be a downer. Let’s go do this. We need to just–” This to me, 40 is where we should just start to nurture each other in making these lifestyle changes.
Cynthia: Yeah. No, it’s so beautifully stated and the lifestyle aspects that you addressed are really the most important. Unfortunately, as a traditionally Western medicine trained nurse practitioner, I always say, we need everyone. We need the traditionally trained, integrative medicine trained, we need them all. But when it comes to proactively looking at how to deal with the problem and I’m putting in quotes, “a problem that is menopause,” the first place to start is not with hormones. It’s not to suggest that there might be a place for someone in that whole milieu, but the lifestyles that you have to start with it’s much, much harder. I mean, I say this probably every single day in groups with one-on-ones on social media, say it is much harder to say no, to set boundaries, to change your diet, to not eat as often, that is much, much harder work than just getting a prescription for medication which is not to suggest that there isn’t value for people that need prescription medications, I’m not suggesting that at all. But how many women come to me, probably, come to you, and they go through menopause and they get put on a bunch of hormones, and their body’s not ready to process that hormones properly, and they end up putting on a bunch of weight, and then, they’re even more depressed. So, they come to you, they’re mad that they’ve gained weight, they’re tired, they can’t sleep, they’re on hormones, and they haven’t done any of the other work. So, I always say, we have to do the foundational work. One thing that you touched on, and I want to touch on a very ugly word that I know we both have laughed about before, the estrobolome. So, talking about diversity of gut bacteria and we’re talking about estrogen. We would be remiss if we didn’t talk about this ugly terminology for, how our body can break down, detoxify, and get rid of estrogen, and I think there’s this misnomer that everyone just because they poop every day, they’re getting rid of estrogen. This is such a misunderstood concept.
I have women that are like, “You don’t understand. How could my beta-glucuronidase be high? How is my phase I and phase II liver detoxification not optimized? I poop every day and I’m like, because you’re recirculating all the estrogen. So, let’s at least talk about this oddly termed part of our bodies.
Dr. Mindy: I know, right? I call it the estrobolome and then I hear other people call it something different. So, it’s like autophagy, autophagy like whatever floats your boat say it that way.
Cynthia: Tomato, tomahta.
Dr. Mindy: Right, exactly. Yeah. You know, when I was trying to put my own puzzle together, I started with those three hormones. And we definitely need to talk about testosterone because that’s another one that doesn’t get enough attention. So, I literally started with progesterone trying to understand her and then I understood, “Okay, I need to keep my adrenals in good shape to keep progesterone up. Okay, I get that.” Now, estrogen. What do I need to understand about estrogen? And that’s when I dove in to understanding the estrobolome. And that like if you think about it, how many women have you sat with that have been on 20, 30 rounds of antibiotics. One round of antibiotic destroys 90% of your good bacteria including the bacteria that are going to break estrogen down. So, if you have not done any microbiome repair and you go running into menopause, ooh, that’s going to be a hard one. Because you’ve got to re-bring that microbiome back so that it can break estrogen down. Luckily, bringing the microbiome back actually can be pretty quick. Those bacteria can replicate. So, I always tell people, like I said, improve your diversity of food, look at what I call the three Ps. Your polyphenol, probiotic, prebiotic foods.
My favorite thing to remind women is, the 40s is when you need to start to bathe in sauerkraut. Like more sauerkraut, more kimchi. And when women are like, “I don’t really like those, they don’t taste good.” I always say, “You know what, when you were in college, you would do shots of tequila. Did you like those shots of tequila?” Most of us didn’t, but we did it to have an effect on our body. I’m thinking that sauerkraut might be the same. If you don’t like the taste of it, eat it anyways. Because it brings this good bacteria back into your gut and that’s going to help you break down estrogen. So, to me, the estrobolome needs to be nurtured, it needs to be fed. Your microbiome is like a little pet that when you sit down and you stroke your dog, you feel calm. Well, that pet is inside your gut. So, when you eat a cup of sauerkraut, and maybe put some chia seeds and hemp seeds on your salad, you are starting to repopulate that microbiome, and you’re going to get more GABA, you’re going to get more serotonin, your immune system, you’re going to break down estrogen, you’ll start feeling different just by a food choice that supports that microbiome.
Cynthia: Yeah, and think about the average person. You know, in 2019, I had this long hospitalization. I had six weeks of antibiotics and antifungals which I needed, because my appendix had ruptured, and I had a slew of medical maladies that still completely defy the odds of how I got out of the hospital. But I remember reading one round of antibiotics and I forget which researcher said. It can impact your gut microbiome for up to 18 months. So, I was in my head thinking, “Is this going to take me years to be able to get back to a point where my gut is healthy again?” So, what I want to caution people about is that, there are going to be times where you needed that antibiotic or you needed to make a dietary change. It’s not as if because you’ve taken an antibiotic. This is an impossible mountain to scale. What we’re saying is that, there are things you can do and I love fermented vegetables. I had a whole like Insta story on being in Whole Foods and being so excited because there were so many options, so many options, even some new ones. So, finding opportunities to re-inoculate the gut microbiome with really healthy things.
We know there are certain foods that impact our gut health and really non-beneficial ways like sugar and the hyperpalatable processed foods. So, the less processed, the more akin to nature, I love the variety. Shop at your farmer’s market. I don’t get a plug by the farmer’s market, but I love encouraging people to shop locally, support your local farmers, do a cow share if that appeals to you. I have to admit the fact that you eat goat, that makes you a total badass.
Dr. Mindy: [laughs]
Cynthia: This year we tried some different things. We had elk, we’ve had ostrich, and we’ve had wild boars. So, we’re definitely like we’re dipping our toes in the pond, but bison is a regular thing in our house, we eat a lot of meat. But I’m finding we have to kind of dip the toe in the pond a little bit just to see like if the kids eat it, then I’m like, okay, we can buy it again. If they kind go, uh-huh, like the elk. We’ve had elk a couple of ways. Elk was a little too elky but–
Dr. Mindy: Too gamey. Yeah. it’s a little gamey.
Cynthia: We’re going to try it.
Dr. Mindy: Yeah. Have you tried liver or chicken hearts? Have you gone into organ meats yet?
Cynthia: My mom is Italian and I will say that my mom was crunchy before we knew what that was. So, yes, when I was a kid we ate organ meat, I didn’t like it. I still don’t love it. I do try like pluck. Have you tried pluck?
Dr. Mindy: No, what’s that?
Cynthia: So, it’s like a seasoning made with organ meat?
Dr. Mindy: Oh.
Cynthia: It sounds kind of weird, but I’ve been using it arbitrarily in things, and it really improves the taste quality, and it’s super high, it’s interesting. It was gifted to me and I decided to try it, and now, I like it as a something part of like my holiday gift guide recommendation, like go check this out. I don’t have an affiliate with them or anything like that. But if it’s a way that we can get more organ meats into people that are scared of organ meat. What I used to do is, I would freeze calf’s liver or any type of liver and I would kind of cut it into bite sized pieces and I’d swallow it. That’s the only way to get it down. I think, I’m a hyper taster so I suspect part of my issue is that the metallic taste is so strong, but I just can’t get beyond it. How about you?
Dr. Mindy: Yeah. So, we ventured into chicken hearts this summer. One of the upsides of the pandemic, my son was a senior in high school in 2020, and he started a cooking club where on Monday nights, his friends would come over and cook and they started cooking all these different things. So, he got really adventurous. I said to him, “Would you do chicken hearts?” He’s like, “Yeah, I’ll do chicken hearts.” So, I just sauteed them in a pan– I bought them at the farmer’s market, sauteed them in a pan with garlic and onions and butter, and he loved them. 18-year-old boy, the rest of us liked them. We didn’t love them, but they’re packed with iron, which is so good for menopausal women, especially, if you’re going through that hemorrhaging where you are like having these really strong blood flow. Chicken hearts are great for that. Four chicken hearts have 68 grams of protein in them. So, they are massively rich in protein. They’re just a little creepy to eat. I’m not going to lie. They have a little aorta stuck on the top. So, if you have to chop them up, my husband was going to put them in lasagna or something like that and do it, but if you can stomach some of those organ meats, they definitely pack some nutrition that you can’t find elsewhere.
Cynthia: Yeah, and it’s interesting. I interviewed Paul Saladino. I don’t know if you follow Paul [crosstalk.
Dr. Mindy: Yeah.
Cynthia: I remember one of the questions that came up from viewers that they wanted me to ask him is, what did he eat that day? He was like, “Well, I had spleen, I had pancreas,” and I was like, “Paul, you are a whole other level and you’re total badass, but I have a texture issue, I’m not sure I could get that down.” Maybe if it was mixed in something, I might be able to process that. But yeah, that was– ooh. But hats off to your son. That’s amazing. [crosstalk]
Dr. Mindy: Isn’t that amazing?
Cynthia: -so open minded. That’s incredible.
Dr. Mindy: Yeah. I was shocked. But to the point that it is now I think all humans would benefit from more diversity of foods. We really get locked into eating the same vegetables, same meat, same thing over and over. I can tell you between my online world and my clinic practice, we’ve probably run I don’t know 10,000 to 20,000 different Gut Zoomers on people and nobody, not one stool test has shown up that people have enough diversity of bacteria. That’s crazy. So, you get diversity by improving the diversity of the food you eat. That’s the bottom line.
Cynthia: Yeah, well, and it’s interesting because you obviously mentioned Dr. Terry Wahls, who I have mad crazy respect for him and I have had him on the podcast a couple of times, and she talks about nine cups of vegetables a day. And I remember saying to her is like nine cups, really nine cups of vegetables a day, which was astounding. But if you cook them down then it’s not quite so kind of insurmountable. But when she talks about polyphenols and talks about how important they are. That’s why I drink green tea. I’m probably the strangest adult on the planet. I don’t like coffee, and I really don’t like tea either, but I brew green tea every morning for my husband and myself. I let mine cool, I stick a straw on it, and I slurp it down. That’s my whole methodology because it’s so bitter but I’m like, “It’s good for me, it’s good for me.”
There are a lot of things like I roasted radicchio recently, and I mean, it is a bitter vegetable. So, I remember saying to my kids, I was like, “I want everyone to have a couple of bites.” My kids were like, “Wow, this is so bitter.” I said, but it’s good. We need these things. There are nutrients in these vegetables and in these items that our body desperately need. So, I agree with you, I would imagine most if not all, Americans flavor profile tends to lean very sweet, because there’s so much sugar in so many condiments, and drinks, and things like that. So, our palates really– bitter is a lot to wrap our heads around along with organ meats and things like that.
I want to be respectful of your time but one of the other things that your book really does a nice job with is touching on, I like to call them gadgets or fun things to play with Wii Fit notwithstanding, but I have a vibration plate behind me in our new house. My husband didn’t know where I wanted it. So, it literally sits behind my desk. So, in a vain effort not to sit a lot of the day when I’m working, I will get on that as a modality to do something. So, what are some of your favorite gadgets that you integrate into your work with women that you find are very beneficial? I love that you talked about BrainTap, because I thought to myself, “Oh my gosh, I don’t even know where my BrainTap is.” I bought it and then, I’m not sure I’ve used it in a while and maybe that will encourage me to go find it.
Dr. Mindy: Yeah. Well, there’s a lot of biohacking equipment that I love and I’ve tried everything. Our clinic, actually, we have a hyperbaric oxygen, we have a pulsed PEMF, we have sauna, red light therapy. So, we’ve put a lot in the clinic here, but those are expensive pieces that you have to go to a clinic and use. I’m now geeking out on some of the home stuff that’s cool. Is that your whoop?
Cynthia: Then that’s my Apollo Neuro.
Dr. Mindy: Oh.
Cynthia: One of my favorite thing.
Dr. Mindy: I don’t know. I’m not familiar with that.
Dr. Mindy: Yeah. So, for starters, hyperbaric oxygen, if you have ability to get into a hyperbaric oxygen, that’s my Benjamin Button machine, I call it like
Dr. Mindy: I come out of that and I’m like, “Whoo, I think, I’m 25. Really my workouts changed, my brain changes, my energy, my moods, that is amazing.” But that’s also not necessarily approachable for everybody. I think infrared sauna is really important. I’m testing some of those blankets right now at home where you can just crawl into them, but you got to sweat. A lot of estrogen and testosterone is made on our skin. So, we need to be sweating on a regular basis. So, infrared is great for that. Red light, I’ve been playing with red light, everywhere from my face to my thyroid. This is actually really interesting. I had my thyroid tested at the beginning of the summer. I usually do a blood test at least every year on myself. But I really want to micromanage to see where my thyroid was at. So, a few of the numbers were off, the summer got busy, I didn’t really take any supplements or do anything different. I did two things. I tried to reproduce the hyperbaric study that was done 60 or sessions of hyperbaric in 90 days, lengthen telomeres and slowdown aging.
Dr. Mindy: So, I tried to reproduce that. It’s hard to do-
Dr. Mindy: -60 hours and 90 days. I did that and then, I did red light therapy with a Joovv every morning, the little mini on my face, but also was on my thyroid. I retested my thyroid at the end of the summer and every single marker was normal. I had a friend look at the two and I was like, “What do you see–” An integrative medical doctor, I’m like, “Can you look at this and tell me what you see?” He’s like, “Your thyroid is amazing.” I didn’t take supplements. I didn’t do anything. So, some of these bio hacks, red light, the other one I’m playing with right now are those PEMF mats.
Dr. Mindy: Have you done any of those at home?
Cynthia: I have not done that. That’s why I was like, I’m hoping that you’ll talk about it. So, it’ll encourage me to do more work in that area.
Dr. Mindy: Okay, so PEMF, here’s what I love about PEMF. We have the human cells, our human cells resonate at very specific frequencies. And our frequency that calms us that is really the best for our human makeup. This isn’t even the microbiome. Our human cells is pretty consistent with the earth. So, when you go out for a hike, you could say, “Well, I feel really good because I’m out in nature.” But what you don’t realize is that, you’re actually in a frequency, the frequency is 7.8 by the way, it’s called Schumann’s frequency. And you are at the same frequency that your human cells like in order to stay calm. Now, right now, I’ve got my phone next to me, I’ve got the computer, I’ve got lights on, when we are inside around a lot of gadgets, we are operating at a different frequency that’s actually agitating to our human cells. So, what’s happened with PEMF, what is so amazing is it puts you back into this calmer frequency that relaxes the body, it’ll raise GABA, it will support your parasympathetic nervous system. For me, it’s like a tranquilizer. So, we just got it a couple of weeks ago, and I got on it one night and within five minutes, I was like, “Boom, I literally went from chatting with my husband to asleep on this PEMF mat” like somebody had tranquilized me.
Last night, he gets on it, and he falls asleep for four hours, and he came to bed at two in the morning. I asked him this morning, I’m like, “What happened?” He goes, “I got on the PEMF mat, and I fell asleep for four hours, and then I just happened to wake up.” So, it is really good, especially, for a menopausal woman because when that progesterone isn’t there, you can pop on one of those mats, and you can just get some sense of calm back to help with perspective, to help with your life. So, Cynthia, try it, try it, it’s impressive.
Cynthia: Is there a particular brand of PEMF that you were [crosstalk]
Dr. Mindy: Yeah, the one I’m using right now because it’s a woman-owned brand, and I really like supporting women is put out by higher dose and it’s infrared mixed with PEMF. It’s literally like a yoga mat but a little thicker. It doesn’t roll up like a yoga mat. It kind of folds. So, we’ve tried to figure out where we want to put it. It’s on our couch right now. So, the dogs even [crosstalk]
Cynthia: That’s why your husband fell asleep for four hours.
Dr. Mindy: Yeah, right. Exactly. I don’t recommend that protocol, but I’m pretty happy with it. So far so good. So, check it out and tell me what you think.
Cynthia: I definitely will. It’s funny what I was showing Dr. Mindy was the Apollo Neuro, and so, it’s a device that was designed and there’s good research. It is initially designed for PTSD patients. So, I had the honor of bringing Dr. Dave Rabin on to talk about the technology. So, pardon me, shits and giggles in 2020, I decided I needed one. So, I wear it. When it’s on my ankle, it looks like a home monitoring device which embarrasses my children. But I generally wear it on my wrist and what it does is, it’s gently getting yourself more aligned and not being in the sympathetic, being in the parasympathetic rest and repose. So, I keep it on my desk as a reminder because it’s not realistic that I’m going to meditate throughout my day, but I can put this on and there’s like nine different cycles. But it’s probably one of my favorite gadgets that I have that I’ve been using. But I’m always looking for something new. To me, there’s always some other thing I can add to the milieu that I think can be super attractive.
Dr. Mindy: Well, so, you have two things now. You’re going to get the Wii Fit.
Cynthia: My husband will be [crosstalk] so happy to hear this.
Dr. Mindy: Let me know how that works, and get the mat, and my friends that are all in the functional health biohacking world that are all going through menopause. We call it practicing parasympathetic, that you’ve got to search for ways to strengthen your parasympathetic nervous system. When you don’t have the progesterone that you had when you were 30, these tools actually become ridiculously important. I had a lymph specialist who did a full lymph analysis on me recently, and she said, “You’re so sympathetic dominant that if you go into parasympathetic, you probably want to sleep.” I’m like, “Oh, yeah. That’s me. Like, put me in the hyperbaric oxygen, put BrainTap on me, get me on the PEMF. There’s no in between, I just knock out.” She said, “That’s because your sympathetic is to dominate and your parasympathetic is too weak.” So, you probably feel best in action. You feel best when you’re doing it because you’re stepping into your sympathetic. But as you and I both know over time, not having a good balance from parasympathetic to sympathetic, that’s what causes cancer, and heart disease, and that’s not an option for 70-year-old version of me. She needs me to practice parasympathetic. So, that’s where I love these biohacking tools.
Cynthia: Yeah, there’s so many great options and obviously, various price points, and there’s something for everyone. The way I got my engineer husband to meditate was divine and amuse, which is this headband that you wear that trains you into meditating. He loves it like it’s his thing. He goes every morning after we take our walk outside without sunglasses and walk our dogs outside for an hour. That’s part of his thing. He goes and does his meditation, then he showers, and so, if you’re listening to this and thinking there’s no way my significant other husband, spouse, etc., would ever do this, they will, especially, if you are you know modeling good behavior for them.
Well, I always love connecting with you. I absolutely going to recommend that women check out The Menopause Reset, what I love about it, and I was mentioning this to you before we started recording, it’s reasonable. You could throw it in your purse, it’s not so large and overwhelming. I sat down and skim and read it over the weekend, and you’ve marked a bunch of pages, which drove a lot of this conversation today. But definitely, a book that I would recommend for all women, and don’t wait until you’re in menopause. Do these things when you’re younger, so that you won’t hit the wall, the perimenopause wall that I hit, which is what started the whole TEDx, desire to do a TEDx was because I wanted people not to be ashamed to talk about what’s happening to their bodies. I’m so very grateful to be connected to you and just wanted to express my gratitude again for having you on. Please let listeners know how to connect with you and let me just preemptively say, Dr. Mindy has a prolific YouTube channel, like, so much good resources there. That’s a great place to start. But where else can they find you?
Dr. Mindy: Yeah. I always say that YouTube is my passion project like you. I just have a, I’m going to say an unusual fascination with fasting.
Dr. Mindy: I think, the reason I love fasting is the body is miraculous, and when you fast, you understand that for the first time. So, every article I could ever find on fasting, any tips on fasting, it’s all there on that channel. So, you can go there and look at that. Instagram’s kind of like, I put my food, I put my life, I put my dog, I put my kids.
Dr. Mindy: If you want to see what those five things that I talk about in The Menopause Reset, if you want to see what that looks like, come find me on Instagram, and if you get confused, you can go to drmindypelz.com. And I love by the way, I have to say that the idea behind The Menopause Reset came from my YouTube followers. They kept asking me, “What are you doing for menopause, what are you doing?” I was like, “Well, I’ll just put it in a book,” and then, I realized like, if you’re going to write a book for menopausal women, you better keep it short, because she doesn’t have time and she doesn’t have the brain focus. So, I love that, women can read it so quickly.
Cynthia: Yeah, well, thank you for taking the stigma out of what is a normal process for women to go through, and thank you for getting the conversation going because I think there are far too many women that are suffering in silence that don’t realize things could be better for them. So, that’s why it’s so important for us to continue to keep the conversation going, so that people can learn and be inspired.
Dr. Mindy: Yeah, Agreed. And thank you. Again, I really feel like as women, and you and I are both out there helping this generational place that women are in is that the first is we have to bring it to the surface. We have to bubble it up. As you know, only one person can only get the message out so much. We need to get more and not to speak poorly of the male health influencers out there, but honestly, I feel like you know what, if you want to talk about menopause, don’t go to a 50-year-old or 45-year-old man.
Dr. Mindy: Come to some 50-year-old women that have gone through it and are living this with you. So, kudos to you for having this conversation and everything you’re doing as well.
Cynthia: Thank you. Thank you.
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