Too many women have had the experience of suddenly feeling tired all the time or having an abrupt and unexplained increase in anxiety or weight gain. They see their regular doctors who don’t take their complaints seriously or can’t give them any answers. That’s when many find their way to Dr. Taz.
Dr. Taz is the guru hundreds of thousands of women seek out to learn about their hormonal health. She is uniquely positioned to help women heal themselves and find their way to increased wellness not just because she has developed a wide-ranging toolbox of knowledge that spans Eastern and Western medicine, but also because she has been exactly where they are.
“FOR WOMEN TO THRIVE, TO REALLY STEP INTO THEIR POWER AND BE THE FULLEST VERSION OF THEMSELVES, THEY HAVE TO TAKE CARE OF THEIR HORMONAL HEALTH.” — DR. TAZ
In her 20s, Dr. Taz was working a typically stressful medical residency when her health began to deteriorate — her hair began to fall out and she developed acne. Things only got worse when she started a job in the ER. The hair loss turned into open patches on her scalp, she began to gain weight, and she struggled with joint pain and chronic fatigue.
“I'm usually super high energy, and now I was having trouble just making it through my shifts,” Dr. Taz says. “It led me to look and feel like somebody that I didn't recognize, and it was super frustrating.”
Dr. Taz did what many of us do — she decided to ignore her symptoms until her family stepped in and encouraged her to find answers. Initially, she was put on medications but the side effects were serious and she wanted to find a different way to get better. The journey to getting to the root cause of her health woes (the answer ended up being a combination of thyroid issues, gluten intolerance, and PCOS) led her to discover the world of integrative and holistic medicine.
In 2009 she started her own practice and it quickly blew up. Today, her work blends Western medicine with Chinese and Ayurvedic practices, nutrition and herbal medicine, all combined with the power of modern lab work. Her accomplishments include a thriving social media presence, a weekly podcast (Super Woman Wellness), and several books on the subject (her latest, The Hormone Shift, comes out in October). Her most recent move was being appointed to Veracity’s medical board of advisors as the Chief Hormone Officer.
Here, she answers our burning questions about why hormones matter, what we should all know about keeping our hormones healthy as we age, and why it’s important for women to find and embrace community as we start down the path to better health and healing.
Veracity: Over the 20 years that you have been practicing medicine, how have you seen the medical industry change?
Dr. Taz Bhatia: I would celebrate the evolution of at least the majority of physicians, who are starting to come around to understanding the value of food as medicine and that there is a connection between internal health and external health. They're starting to connect some of those dots. It’s exciting, but the problem is we're still hearing a lot of the same old dialogue, like “you can't check your hormones, you can't balance your hormones.” I continue to see frequently missed diagnoses of women's health issues. So, I think we still have a really long way to go as a medical system if we're going to make this the dialogue that everyone's using, rather than really having to fight for it, which is what we’re doing right now.
V: Why should all women be paying attention to their hormones?
TB: I believe hormones are our superpower. I feel like we are dictated by them to a certain extent. You can have the most incredible willpower and you can have the strongest work ethic, but if your hormones are be-bopping all over the place, those things will have trouble helping you make it through your day if you're imbalanced. For women to thrive, to really step into their power and be the fullest version of themselves, they have to take care of their hormonal health.
V: Are there any consistent issues that bring women to you?
TB: I always say the top five are fatigue — they're suddenly tired and they can't explain why. Poor sleep — they’re waking up throughout the night, have hot flashes, or are having trouble falling asleep. Weight gain is a big one for women who all of a sudden start gaining weight when it never was an issue before. The mental health component of this — anxiety, mood, depression, and even bipolar and OCD — is very powerful, too. In today’s climate, it’s really important to understand the hormonal component of your mental health. The last one is pain, like new onset muscle weakness, joint pain, exercise, and intolerance. All of these symptoms are connected back to hormones and women are coming in for them all the time. They often translate into diagnoses including PCOS, endometriosis, Hashimoto's disease, insulin resistance, autoimmune disease, gut disorders, and so much more.
V: Your platform has a very large emphasis on community — you have a thriving social media account, the Superwomen's circle community, and the 4-Hour Hormone System. Why do you think community is such an important aspect of women's health?
TB: I think we as women are social creatures, we are meant to be together, to raise children together, to build families together. And I think one of the things Western culture has done is to take that away from us and silo us into these nuclear families where we often feel really alone, stressed, and highly dependent on our partner. And I think that is not how we are fundamentally wired.
So my idea around community was, “Hey, I'm really great at dispensing information and educating. I’m doing it all the time. But what happens when that door closes or you stop scrolling?” People have to then step back into their lives, to their duties of caregiving, and doing the 50 things that they always do. I thought it would be incredible to bring women together to share their stories and learn from one another. I felt called to start building that community.
I also know firsthand that the stronger we are as women and the more community support that we have, the better we run our families. The more support we have outside of that nuclear family — whether that’s knowledge, education, energy, or innovation — the more we can bring into to nurture that nuclear family and our relationships rather than having them be this place where we feel drained, exhausted, and resentful.
V: What advice do you have for the top three things you think women can do in their 20s, 30s, and 40s to optimize their hormone health?
TB: For women in their 20s, I think it's mastering their diet. I think a win for them is understanding what an anti-inflammatory diet is, what a blood sugar-balancing diet is, upping their intake of high-nutrient foods, and watching the amount of processed foods, alcohol, and sugar they consume. They should also understand what their nutrient requirements are and if they have any nutritional deficiencies. Finally, they should focus on stress management and getting quality sleep. If they keep things things in place then most of them get through their 20s with their hormones in good shape.
As you go into your 30s, things start to shift and change and you want to pay more attention to what your actual hormone levels are, especially if you're trying to get pregnant or are post-pregnancy. Tracking hormone levels is something I think everyone in their 30s should be doing every six months, whereas, in their 20s, I would say they should test at least once a year. As you enter your 30s, there's a higher need for healthy fats because they nourish and protect your hormones. So it’s not a good idea to go crazy about being fat-free. And this age group should start with some supplementation. I think this is where women benefit from things like methylated B vitamins and taking some magnesium, the two that I call the hormone supporters that help to prevent the state of depletion during a very busy decade.
I think the 40s is where women really need to embrace weight training. They should focus on adding in protein to help with blood sugar stability and really start to clean up their liver to make sure it’s working for them, not against them. The liver is beginning to slow down a little bit, so maybe think about doing a mini liver detox using glutathione, milk thistle, and some of these things that really support it.
Dr. Taz’s Top 3 Recommendations for Lasting Health in Your 20s, 30s, and 40s:
In your 20s:
Master your diet
Develop stress management practices
Prioritize quality sleep
In your 30s:
Test your hormones every 6 months, especially pre- and post-pregnancy
Eat healthy fats
Consider starting supplements
In your 40s:
Add weight training into your fitness routine
Focus on your protein intake
Clean up your liver health
V: Are there any other surprising or lesser-known facts that you think all women should know about their hormones or any other aspects of their health?
TB: I don't think many women understand that hormones are connected to gut health. For example, when you are low in progesterone that will often trigger an overgrowth of yeast in the gut, which is why women end up with yeast infections or start to gain some belly fat as those progesterone levels go down.
The issue of dense breasts is also a pet peeve of mine. Many people don’t understand that dense breasts or heavy breasts are a sign of accumulating estrogen and that you can actually do something about that. So when you’re given a mammogram or ultrasound result that says you have dense breasts, don’t take it and then roll over. You actually want to begin a good protocol that helps to clean that excess estrogen out of your system, like eating more fiber and cruciferous vegetables and taking calcium gluconate.
And finally, the world of beauty starts from the inside first. Often, what is currently accepted as normal values for thyroid and other hormones really aren't normal and might not be normal for you. If you are struggling with acne or hair loss, dig deep into the world of androgens, thyroid hormones, blood sugar, and more because probably something there is driving it.
V: Final question: You do so much between your practice, your podcast, the book, and everything else. What keeps you motivated and inspired to do what you do?
TB: Wow, I love that question. I think it's the women I meet every day, and I would even extend it to the entire family. Every day in my practice, I hear people’s stories and know that there's a different path, and desperately want them — and the medical system — to be able to see that path. Because it doesn't have to be this way, and I am passionate about that. My story could have gone a different way. I could have been on about 15 medications by now and been a very different version of myself without the energy or the motivation to do all the things I do. But that's not what happened.