Dr. Felice L. Gersh, M.D.

Dr. Felice L. Gersh, M.D.

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Dr. Felice L. Gersh, M.D.

Speaking at Live it to Lead it
November 14-17, 2019
Newport Beach, California

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Discover…

  • Why fasting is different for women
  • Use fasting to optimize female hormones
  • How to keep off the weight off after fasts

About Dr. Felice L. Gersh, M.D.

Felice L. Gersh, M.D.’s educational background includes an undergraduate degree in history from Princeton University, a medical degree from the University of Southern California School of Medicine, OB/GYN specialty training at the prestigious Kaiser Hospital in Los Angeles, and graduation from the 2-year Fellowship in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona School of Medicine. Additionally, she has been trained extensively in functional and environmental medicine.

Dr. Gersh has a strong focus on the role of women’s unique rhythms and hormones, emphasizing the impact on female health of nutrition, timed eating, intermittent fasting, fitness, stress management, emotions, sleep, electromagnetic energy, and endocrine disruptors.

TRANSCRIPT:

Dr. Sonners:    
Hi, Dr. Gersh. I’m so excited to have this time with you. I know we are both extremely passionate about fasting. I know that you use it a lot in your practice and you’re on a board in relation to fasting. And so I want to spend this time today just really focusing on women, and fasting, and how powerful of a tool this is for them. As well as, I think some people can potentially think that this fasting is a trend, and it’s really not, and I want to cover that.

Dr. Gersh:
Absolutely. I think every woman needs to be educated about the benefits of fasting and how to incorporate it into her life, and to make it a routine part. That’s right. You don’t want to do it like once for your whole life and be done. It’s like, “I’m going to exercise, I’m going to do it one day.” No. It really needs to be incorporated into your routine. I can tell you that for myself, I’m passionate about it to try to stay healthy and functional as long as I can in my life. And I’ve seen such tremendous benefits for my patients. But you have to do it right. So like anything you can do it right, or you can do it wrong.

Dr. Sonners:  
Absolutely. And I know you’re a board certified gynecologist, so that’s pretty interesting. Why do you see that fasting as a powerful tool for your population, your patients?

Dr. Gersh: 
Well, fasting can be used to help women to maintain what I call metabolic homeostasis. We live in a very challenging world. We have crazy toxins in our food, air, water. We have crazy schedules where we often stay up too late night at night. We eat at irregular times. And by incorporating fasting we can help to maintain our sort of metabolic equilibrium.

Dr. Gersh:  
And what is metabolism? It’s the creation, distribution of energy. I call it the spark of life. And when people live in a world where they have sort of a disconnect with our sun and our moon, and our rhythms, and eating food that comes out of a plastic, we often have toxic levels of these poisons, really, that effect our ability to make energy. And the energy factories, or the mitochondria. And mitochondria, when they become malfunctioning, they can’t burn fat. So it’s a different way that we have in our body to make fat. And it’s a different process to burn fat.

Dr. Gersh: 
So, so many women now, or struggling at different times of their lives with really keeping their fat under control, and their appetites under control, because they’re all linked together and that creates an inflammatory state. And chronic inflammation in the body leads to everything bad. You know, mood problems, cognitive problems, problems with our cardiovascular systems, everything. So fasting helps to keep us on track, and it’s sort of like a reset. I look at it as a reboot, a reset to our circadian rhythm, our gut microbiome, our metabolic status.

Dr. Sonners: 
Yes. Love it. So in general, it’s a really powerful tool just to help us stay or become really healthy. Also to help us get these toxins out that we’re all surrounded by. And then I know you also talk a lot about fasting in regards to infertility, and even pre-conception health and menopause. So let’s just touch briefly on each of those and how fasting can really play a role in the success in each of those categories. So let’s start with… Go ahead.

Dr. Gersh: 
Well I was going to say, absolutely. These are some of the key times of a woman’s life when having health can be so elusive, but so critically important. So a woman to become pregnant, requires her to be metabolically healthy, so she really should have optimally the right nutrient status, the right weight, the body composition. But that is not always the case. We know that people in the US now about 70% are overweight or obese. You don’t want to get pregnant, go through the pregnancy, when you’re not really healthy. So we want to try and help women to be called optimally healthy before they become pregnant, both to optimize their fertility status and also to try to reduce complications of pregnancy and to have a healthy baby. So every woman should have pre-conception counseling.

Dr. Gersh:
So look at what she’s eating, the lifestyle, all different aspects. And by incorporating fasting, we can help reduce inflammation, visceral fat, help her to feel better. And as you mentioned, there’s actually data that fasting can help up regulate the detoxification pathways of the body to help reduce that toxic load. So except for, you know, the odd exceptional woman who maybe is way too thin, or too fragile in some fashion, the vast majority of women are excellent candidates to use fasting prior to even trying to get pregnant. Now we never incorporate fasting when you’re actually trying to get pregnant because the body has nutrient sensors and the body says, “Oh, there’s not enough food coming in. Let’s defer fertility for another day.”

Dr. Gersh:  
So we want to plan ahead. So we want to do the fasting and all the other preparations before you even try to become pregnant. So that’s a very critical time when I incorporate fasting in virtually all of my patients. The other time, we can say the flip side is when women lose their fertility when they go through menopause. So most people don’t recognize that menopause isn’t just about losing your period and losing your fertility, it’s about losing your metabolic health.

Dr. Gersh:  
Unfortunately, nature did what it did, it linked the whole body into one being, which kind of makes sense. Why would reproductive functions be separate from every other function? Because the body should be healthy to sustain a pregnancy, and women need to be able to take care of babies for a long time because we have a long time before we reach sexual maturity. So nature wants women to stay healthy and reproduce multiple times. So the whole reproductive system is linked to the metabolic system, the ability to make energy, maintain cardiovascular health, and brain health, and gut health all those things are linked. So when we lose our estrogen from our ovaries, we live in a state of estrogen deficiency, and we now know that estrogen helps maintain our fat burning capabilities. There are estrogen receptors in mitochondria. But there are estrogen receptors everywhere. So we have to use what I call our backdoor methods to stay metabolically healthy.

Dr. Gersh:  
Most women know this, or they’ve seen friends go through this, that when they go through the menopausal transition, suddenly their body morphs. They lose their cute little waist, they sort of get this belly fat, the muffin top, and they say what’s happening? It’s because they lose their estrogen. But what we can do is incorporate fasting because fasting helps rev up the metabolic functions of the mitochondria. It helps even to create more mitochondria, so that we can burn that fat. And by using fasting, and we can use as well time restricted eating. So we eat, I call it eat to the beat. So we try to eat at set times of day. We try to get adequate sleep, we can keep our circadian rhythm, which we now know is critical to metabolic function, on the beat. So every woman when she goes through menopause has to be extra vigilant to stay healthy, so that she doesn’t have what happens to so many women.

Dr. Gersh: 
The onset of all the diseases that are considered as phases aging, but they’re actually diseases of loss of estrogen. And when you understand that estrogen helps keep the beat, and helps maintain metabolic health and mitochondrial function, we can use fasting along with time restricted eating and exercise, and stress reduction. Of course, it’s part of the total health package to stay healthy for what could be the second half of our lives.

Dr. Sonners:  
And it’s just the beginning, I’m sure. Right?

Dr. Gersh: 
Absolutely.

Dr. Sonners: 
Fascinating. Such a powerful tool, clearly, at any stage of our lives, and I think it begs the question, how do women get started?

Dr. Gersh:  
Well, every woman needs to, I think, before they started fasting, spend one month getting nutrient replete. Because a lot of people are skipping meals and particularly breakfast or they may eat a lot of processed food. So I like to do what I call a reset for one month before going into fasting because fasting is definitely a little bit of a stress to the body. So we want to make sure that they have plenty of vitamins and polyphenols and everything on board. So I say for one month, just eat a ton of vegetables, try to eat to the beat. You know, have breakfast, lunch, dinner, try to stop snacking, try to stop eating, preferably by 7:00 PM or 8:00 PM at the latest. Started going to bed no later than 11:00 PM, try to get eight hours of sleep every night.

Dr. Gersh:
So I call it a reset, and you’re trying to just reset everything in your body, get healthy, and really sort of get dedicated. Now in my own practice, I have found that to tell people, I think you should stop eating and drink water for four days. You have very low success, very low compliance. In fact, myself, I tried it. Of course, like everyone tries everything, you know? Well, bio-hackers. So I tried and I got one day, and then I said, “I’m done. I’m going to go eat.” So I utilize the fasting mimicking diet, which was developed at the Longevity Institute at USC, under the direction of the brilliant professor Valter Longo. And then they turned it into a product that everyone can access now that they named ProLon promoting longevity because it came out of Longevity Institute.

Dr. Gersh: 
And so we want to help women to be successful. There’s nothing worse than trying something and then failing almost immediately. That’s so discouraging. So we want people to be successful. So I use ProLon because it’s the fasting mimicking diet. So what does that mean? You’re eating food but your brain nutrient sensors don’t see it. So it’s so brilliant. So I call it stealth food, because you’re eating food that your body doesn’t see. So you get the benefits of eating, the nutrients of eating. but you also get the ability to enjoy food so that you actually don’t feel so deprived.

Dr. Gersh:  
You know, because people love eating. Of course. We’re all programmed to love eating. So we get to have three meals a day. You got a nut bar for breakfast and a soup for lunch and dinner, and I call them doodads. You get little extra things, you know, you may get a cocoa crisp, or a kale cracker, or olives. You get a little something extra, and a little energy drink on day two through five. So it’s five days of eating a fasting mimicking diet, which is specially formulated to fly under the detectors of the nutrient sensors in the brain. So you get to eat food for five days, but you get the physical benefits as if you ate nothing and just drank water. We call it water fasting for four days. How brilliant is that?

Dr. Sonners:
Wonderful. Wonderful.

Dr. Gersh:  
That’s what I incorporate into my patient’s routine and I myself, I’ve done it 16 times so I can attest to its benefits. Every time I do it, I feel stronger and smarter. It actually increases the production of brain growth factors, brain drive neurotrophic factors. So it’s all about survival. If you’re not getting food in for just a little bit of time, like say three days, nature goes into action, right? So it says get smarter, get leaner, meaner, tougher. Smart, you know? So you’ve got to go out and get food. So you have this window of time when your body revs up things so that you can go and hunt or forage, or do whatever you need to do to get food. But if you fast for too long, then your metabolism starts to slow. So it’s just right. You know, everything has to be the right time, the right duration, everything just right.

Dr. Sonners: 
Yes. Yes. Great. So it sounds like the key is starting small, and maybe having some tools in your toolbox to help support you. I know we have to wrap up here and we’re gearing up for a super exciting seminar that’s based around fasting. There’s going to be a big focus on fasting for women and women’s health. You’re going to be there speaking, so people can get a ton of detailed information from the experts there at the upcoming HCF event in November. Dr. Gersh, thank you so much for your time and your expertise.

Dr. Gersh:  
My pleasure. Looking forward to seeing you in November.

Dr. Sonners: 
Yay!

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