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Episode 8 – A Functional Approach to Balancing Hormones with Becky Murray

Show Notes

This episode of Conversations for Health features nurse practitioner Becky Murray. Becky has been practicing functional medicine for over 25 years and is a member of the Scientific Advisory Board at Designs for Health. Becky practices at The Institute for Hormonal Balance and is a member of various organizations including Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM), American College for the Advancement in Medicine (ACAM), Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine (AIHM), and Age Management Medicine Group (AMMG).

Becky focuses on the functions that are designed to lead to even greater health. She expounds on the three key hormones that can sabotage weight loss goals, the importance of high quality sleep, and the personal experiences that led her away from traditional medicine and into the functional medicine approach that has changed her personal life and the lives of those she works with.

I’m your host Evelyne Lambrecht, thank you for designing a well world with us.

Episode Resources:

Becky Murray

Design for Health Resources:

Designs for Health

Blog: Berberine’s Potential to Support Heart Health and Blood Sugar Metabolism

The Association Between Stress and Hot Flashes

Blog: Dim Estrogen Dominance with DIM

Blog: Phytoestrogens to Help Diminish Mild Hot Flashes

Blog: Recent Systematic Review Investigates Relationship Between Selenium Supplementation and Ovarian Health

Blog: Selenium: Critical Support for Thyroid Function

Webinar: The Impact of Hormones in Women’s Immune Health with Felice Gersh, MD

Visit the Designs for Health Research and Education Library which houses medical journals, protocols, webinars, and our blog.


[1:15] The most common health problems Becky encounters in her practice.

[3:30] Dietary recommendations for blood sugar monitoring and insulin resistance.

[7:40] The role of estrogen metabolites in optimal health.

[12:23] Cortisol level spikes reflect stress and highlight gut health.

[16:38] Thyroid antibodies, dietary changes, and asymptomatic diagnoses.

[24:35] Becky’s personal experience with functional medicine.

[25:12] Sleep disruptors including vaginal health and hormone levels.

[28:10] Adrenal response and the importance of high quality sleep.

[32:05] Beckey’s top three supplements, her personal health practices, and the traditional medicine approach that she has changed her mind about.


Voiceover: Conversations for Health, dedicated to engaging discussions with industry experts, exploring evidence-based, cutting-edge research and practical tips. Our mission is to empower you with knowledge, debunk myths, and provide you with clinical insights. This podcast is provided as an educational resource for healthcare practitioners only. This podcast represents the views and opinions of the host and their guests, and does not represent the views or opinions of Designs for Health Inc. This podcast does not constitute medical advice. The statements contained in this podcast have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Any products mentioned are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Now let’s embark on a journey towards optimal wellbeing, one conversation at a time. Here’s your host, Evelyne Lambrecht.

Evelyne: Welcome to Conversations for Health. I’m your host Evelyne Lambrecht, and today I’m joined by Becky Murray. Welcome, Becky.

Becky Murray: Thank you. Glad to be here.

Evelyne: Becky Murray is a nurse practitioner who’s been practicing functional medicine for over 25 years, and she’s on our Scientific Advisory Board at Designs for Health. So, Becky, tell me more about your practice and the types of patients you work with and some of the most common problems that you encounter in your practice.

Becky Murray: I actually work with Dr. Edwin Lee, who’s a renowned endocrinologist, at the Institute for Hormonal Balance right here in Orlando where we are now attending a conference. And I’ve been with him for seven years. And one of the things I love about my job is that people are coming to me to try to find answers to their problems. They have always been to one or more practitioners before and have not found the solution to their problems. So, I welcome them and I always say to them, “What is it that you want to get out of your visit with me? What are your goals?” And inherently I will hear from them, “I just want to lose weight.” I see a lot of women in the perimenopausal, menopausal, even younger than that, that just have a problem with increased weight. And the answer they usually have gotten before is, “Eat less, exercise more,” the standard thing. And they go, “It’s not working for me.” And then the other one is just more energy.

So, if I start with the weight loss, I will say to them there are three, and I’m a hormonal place, right? So, I’ll say, “There are three major hormones in the body that actually contribute to whether or not a person gains weight or has problems losing weight. And the first hormone is insulin.” And once I say that, they usually say, “But I’m not diabetic. I’m fine.” I go, “It’s not about the blood sugar.” When you eat something that breaks down into sugar in your body, it has a response from the pancreas to secrete insulin. And then that insulin either is going to convert those calories to energy production if you are active or exercising, running a marathon or whatever. But if you’re not, then the job is just to convert those calories and to store it as fat. And people have different responses of the insulin production in their body. That is what counts.

And one of the newest tools in my toolbox that I have been using a lot frequently is the continuous glucose monitor. It is eye-opening to people to look to see what the blood sugar responses to something they eat, and then inherently that is reflecting the insulin response in the body. So, sometimes they will say, “Well, I just have a dry bagel for breakfast in the morning. No butter, no jelly. That’s it,” thinking that’s going to help them lose weight. And then I explain to them, “That is so different than 300 calories of something that has good protein and a good fat, because if you look at your continuous glucose monitor, you will see the dried bagel spikes your blood sugar. That means you spiked your insulin and put your body into a fat storage mode, whereas the protein and the good fat metabolizes slowly.”

And that’s one of the reasons why when they eat something like that, they’re usually starved two hours later and they’re looking for something to eat and it’s not broccoli. That’s not going to satisfy them. So, that’s the first thing that we do talk about. And also, some people are more, what we call insulin resistant which means that their body is actually going to secrete more insulin in response to a carbohydrate load. So, there are things that we can actually do and give them to help with that, and one of the things that’s been shown over and over again to help that is a nutritional supplement called berberine.

Evelyne: I knew it.

Becky Murray: Yes. And the other interesting thing that people are not aware of is that people who are insulin resistant have a tendency towards more blood sugar production at night. And you go, how would that occur if they’re not eating anything before they go to bed at night? But people who are insulin resistant, and I love saying this phrase, they have hepatic nocturnal gluconeogenesis going on. Hepatic means it’s in the liver. A liver is where the glycogen is stored. And so what happens is that their glycogen is being broken down into sugar and actually released at night, and it’s one of those reasons why people say, “Why is my blood sugar higher in the morning than it was before I went to bed at night and I didn’t eat anything?” So, berberine also helps with that. So, that’s one of the things that we utilize in our practice.

Evelyne: What is the reason that that happens?

Becky Murray: Well, people can be insulin resistant for a number of reasons. Sometimes it’s just part of the genetics. We do know that people from African American, Hispanic backgrounds, there is more of what we call insulin resistance. But what I tell people is that actually was a survival gene for them. If you look at their background, if you look like the original Native American Indians, I mean they could go days without eating so that their body had a built-in mechanism, when they ate something, it was very efficacious in the storage because then they had to work off of that. It didn’t mean they got fat, it just meant they were efficacious. So, that was survival. But it’s interesting, back then it was an efficacious gene, and now with food being so plentiful and people eating high glycemic foods all day long, that genetic predisposition is definitely working against them.

And then we also feel so much of what is in our diet. So, if you look at the role of high fructose corn syrup and you look at all of the garbage fats that people are eating, it’s actually going into the intracellular layer and it is decreasing the ability of insulin and glucose to try to enter the cell. So, you know with guys and cars, they talk about the need for an oil change? I tell people we actually do need an oil change. You need to get rid of the garbage fats in your body, that you’re putting into your body, and then try to go more for omega-9s, olive oil, omega-3s, coconut, avocado, things like that that are really good for you. So, dietary changes can also help. But that could be the different contributing factors to why one person is more insulin resistant than another.

Evelyne: So, in addition to insulin, what’s the next hormone that you usually address with people?

Becky Murray: Estrogen. Estrogen actually is a fat storage hormone. So, what I am looking at, especially as I said, I have a lot of women that come to me starting in the perimenopausal where there’s changes going on in their hormones. I mean, that is a time when they don’t ovulate, and just as a review, when you look at the typical menstrual cycle, 28 to 30 days, the first half is estrogen being secreted and that is building up the endometrial lining in preparation if egg meets sperm. Then mid-cycle, you ovulate and that egg then produces progesterone, so the second half of the cycle is progesterone dominant. But when you don’t ovulate, you don’t make progesterone. That means that you are estrogen-dominant all of the time. And so that I look into. I look at the hormone levels and the balance between the two.

The other thing is that I look at is I do a dried urine test and I look at estrogen metabolites. And a lot of people look at me like, “What in the world is that?” So, I use the analogy to cholesterol. You’re just not looking at the total cholesterol. You’re looking at how the cholesterol breaks down, because we know there’s beneficial cholesterol, like DHDL, and there’s non-beneficial like DLDL. So, people don’t realize that when I evaluate their metabolites, they could be more prone towards going towards the non-beneficial or what we call the more estrogenic. So, that means those metabolites go into the estrogen receptors in the body and then produce more of an effect. So, there are things, I don’t know if you want me to tell you things that we actually do about that.

Evelyne: Sure, yes. To support estrogen metabolism. I’d love to talk about those. And especially I think something that I often get asked is, when would I use something like DIM versus broccoli sprout extract versus calcium D glucarate versus using a combination formula?

Becky Murray: So, that’s information I get when I do the estrogen metabolites in the dried urine test. So, what it’ll tell me and I look at the ratio between the twos. Those are the beneficial. We want more of those. We want more HDL in our bloodstream. And then I look at the fours, which are considered very estrogenic. And when I see an imbalance there, I can use DIM. And I’ve actually proven this by doing repeat urine testing in women that, after they’ve been on like a hundred milligrams twice a day, we see a definite improvement in the ratio and the twos increase and the fours go down.

Another thing I can look at is methylation of them. That’s one of the ways we get it out of their body. So, I’ll look to see whether or not they’re methylating, their estrogen metabolites. And in that case, we can give supplements that support methyl donors, B vitamins, activated folate, B12, things like that.

Then sometimes it just shows that they have a high level of estrogens in and of itself, which means they’re probably having a problem clearing it through the liver. So, then I give the broccoli seed extract, which breaks down into sulforaphanes, and it tries to upregulate that detoxification through the liver so they can get rid of it.

So, another thing that I look at is, if I have done a comprehensive stool analysis, is they have dysbiosis, we can see an elevated level of beta glucuronidase. And what that does is it promotes reabsorption of the estrogen back into the circulation. So, in addition to detoxifying and eliminating estrogen through the liver, also through the gut is another way it tries to.

And so I just look at various things because everybody is an individual. Nobody’s a tear off sheet. So, I have to look at what is going on inside of their body that is contributing to whether or not I’m saying that they have estrogen dominance or a uneven ratio between progesterone and estrogen. And like I said, going through the perimenopausal time and you don’t ovulate, then they don’t have the progesterone. So, another thing that I use a lot in my practice is supplemental progesterone. And if they just need a little bit of supplement, the ratio is off just a little bit, I can use a concentrated progesterone serum and just a little bit being applied transdermally can just raise that progesterone level a little and many times then I’ll have to go to prescription strength progesterone to try to balance it out.

Evelyne: And then in addition to insulin and estrogen, did you say there was a third that you’re looking at for weight loss?

Becky Murray: Yes, it’s cortisol. We all know that if a person has to be on long-term steroids, what happens? They gain weight because the steroids, it’s the cortisol and it is a fat storage hormone. But you can have increased cortisol levels in your body in relation to stress. Stress sends a message over to the adrenal glands to secrete more cortisol. So, a lot of people think it’s only in response to mental stress. But anything that inflames the body is sending a message to the adrenal gland to make more cortisol and if that is a fat storage hormone, that may be one of their problems. I will do blood work. I will look at an elevated CRP, C-reactive protein, which indicates that there’s inflammation in the body. It doesn’t say where. Then that becomes my job to try to figure out what is the inflammation in the body, and it could be food sensitivities.

And again, I refer to that I do a lot of comprehensive gut analysis. And so if they have dysbiosis, I especially ask, have you been on antibiotics? I mean, there’s been so many people, you go to the ER or urgent care center and most often they’ll leave with an antibiotic. And so that antibiotic can contribute to dysbiosis in the gut by killing off the good bacteria, it’s not being replaced. So, I find the underlying problem for the inflammation in their body, and then I try to address that to abate the cortisol levels. So, it’s a comprehensive approach, but that’s how I find out what is unique for that person that is sabotaging their goals of losing weight.

Evelyne: And with cortisol, are you looking at serum levels? Are you looking at salivary levels?

Becky Murray: Well, the best way to actually do it is through salivary cortisol levels. You want to see what the cortisol levels are throughout the day. So we give them a kit and they need to put some saliva into each of the four containers, and they’re supposed to start first thing in the morning and they do it so I can actually get an idea of what their cortisol levels are during the day. And that is the best way rather than telling them to go for a serum level. By the time they’ve gone through the traffic, waited in line, it’s not an accurate representation of what is actually going on in their body throughout the day. But that’s what I do. It’s called a four point salivary cortisol level.

Evelyne: Yes. And based on the patterns that you see, high morning cortisol and low at night, but maybe not following the curve or low morning cortisol and then a cortisol spike in the afternoon or at night, what are some of the interventions that you implement, whether it’s diet, lifestyle, nutraceuticals?

Becky Murray: Again, if I’m trying to find out what is the cause of the inflammation in their body and addressing that. Most often if it’s a problem with weight, we’re not seeing low cortisols in the morning. And I’m going to be addressing that with my second problem of people with decreased energy. So, usually it’s higher, and then even sometimes, we’ll even see the levels start to go up at night. And the levels are supposed to be extremely low at night because there is a direct relationship between melatonin and cortisol. Cortisols are supposed to be low at night, and then melatonin levels are supposed to be going up. If you have high cortisol levels at night, that’s actually impeding the body’s own production of melatonin.

And again, you have sleep issues which can contribute to fatigue. So, there are certain supplements that have been known to help with that. Phosphatidylserine tries to help. Also, if they’re eating foods that are inflaming them in the evening, their body is going to want to react by increasing cortisol levels. So, again, it’s a very individualized approach and find out what is going on with them and then target the treatment plan for that.

Evelyne: Right. So, you mentioned that the second thing you see is mostly that people just, they want to have more energy, they just want to feel better.

Becky Murray: As I said, when they come to see me, they’ve been to one or more practitioner. So all of the basic labs have already been done. So, if there was extreme iron deficiency anemia, that would’ve been picked up or another major, major problem. But usually what they say to me is, “Well, I’ve been told that it is not my thyroid because my TSH level is normal.” Well, normal has a very wide range. According to the lab, they will say anything between a TSH of four, and it used to be four, then it went to 4.5, 4.6. The latest one I saw is 4.7. So, if you fall into that range, you are told you normal. But we know in the functional world that most of the time it’s women. They can develop what’s known as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. They develop antibodies to their thyroid. And I usually have never seen that being evaluated when women are coming to me. And it is the number one autoimmune disease in women. And when you have antibodies to your thyroid, you have thyroid receptors throughout your whole entire body.

I remember seeing an article one time entitled, “They say my TSH is level, and why do I feel so lousy?” It’s true, because I’ve seen people with normal levels of thyroid and they have very, very high levels of thyroid antibodies and they are just feeling fatigued and out of it. Sometimes they refer to it as like brain fog, whatever. So, we’ve got to address that.

The most common precipitating thing to cause thyroid antibodies is actually sensitivity to gluten. And then we call that anti-gliadin antibodies. That can actually be picked up in the comprehensive stool analysis. You don’t pick it up so much in traditional lab work because they don’t do really a comprehensive evaluation to look at it. But there are a number of companies that will really look at that. And I just find if you can eliminate the thing that they are putting into their body that is stressing their body, inflaming their body, they turn around.

I had a woman that was migraine headaches, talk about a stressor to your body. She had had a migraine headache every day for the longest time, been on every traditional pharmaceutical, nothing helped. And I evaluated her and she had really high levels of anti-gliadin antibodies. We put her on a gluten-free diet and the headaches went away. So, many times it’s a dietary change that needs to occur, and it’s not just adding on another pharmaceutical medication. But for the thyroid, I also do a comprehensive. I just don’t do a TSH. I will look at the free T4 levels, free T3, reverse T3.

And a lot of people don’t realize that when a person takes something like a synthetic thyroid supplement, the various forms of Synthroid or whatever, that is T4. The body doesn’t actually use T4. It’s considered the storage and it’s four iodine molecules attached to a backbone of another molecule and then the body has to use enzymes and actually take off one of those iodine molecules and convert it into T3, which is what is bioactive in the body, contributes to basal metabolic rate, into energy production. So, when I look at that, first of all, if they’re not on any hormone supplementation, I look to see what is their production of T4? Is it suboptimal? Are they low in iodine? And we see that a whole lot because people are using what we call the designer salts. None of them is iodized, or they think they should be on a low salt diet. So, it’s like they’re not eating seaweed. So, it’s like where do they get iodine from?

So, one of the first things we would do is just supplement with iodine. But there’s the case where you could be having sufficient levels of T4, but when you look at the conversion to T3, their T3 is low, and that enzyme that converts T4 to T3 is dependent on selenium. So, I mean, most of the time, I’m just assuming they are because it’s not really in our food. So, I’ll put them on a selenium supplementation.

Then I also look at reverse T3 because that can be up. And reverse T3, I call it like the Trojan horse. So, when the body is inflamed, the liver can actually make what we call, if you remember back from chemistry time, an isomer of T 3. So, it is the reverse of the molecule of T3, and it can go into the receptors and bind it up, but it’s totally inert. In other words, it just takes up space, but it does not contribute at all to your basal metabolic rate. So, when we see that, we assume that they are in need of a detoxification program, and then we can see that go down. So, it is so many aspects that I’m looking at thyroid function and looking at what is the problem for that woman so we could address the antibodies, the production of T4, the conversion to T3, overproduction, reverse T3. So we work on that also.

Evelyne: And with the thyroid, I think that dietary changes often have a big impact and studies are mixed. But when you do patient surveys, a lot of people are helped by that. And with gluten, I think the easiest thing is to just do a trial and remove it because even some people don’t necessarily react to, or an anti-gliadin won’t show up, but maybe some of the other proteins and gluten might show up.

Becky Murray: And they don’t have symptoms. That’s what they’ll say is, “I don’t have symptoms.” They think they should be doubled over in pain. No, most often it is asymptomatic. They’ve actually been diagnosed people with celiac disease that are totally asymptomatic of any abdominal symptoms, but that chronic inflammatory process is going on inside their body. It is true that you could do a one-month elimination, but if it’s something where they really have high levels of anti-gliadin antibodies, that’s something that they really need to stay on. So, I find that if I do the testing with the companies that offer the more sensitive testing, and I show them in black and white and living color, this is a problem. This is not just a little change you do for a couple of weeks. This is something you need to be on. And I know that from personal experience, because I was diagnosed about 20 years ago with really high anti-gliadin antibodies and never felt a thing GI-wise, but I had a number of medical problems that were going on at that time and going absolutely gluten-free.

As long as I’m talking about it, let me say, one of the things that we will see is because the anti-gliadin antibodies actually cause inflammation of the villi in our intestine, and that’s where you absorb your nutrients, especially your fat soluble. So, one of the things I look at is if a person says they’re taking vitamin D and I see no vitamin D in their system, I’m saying, okay, you’re swallowing, but you are not absorbing it. So, the case for me was that I was swallowing vitamin D, I was swallowing all these things, and my blood work showed I had nothing in my system. So, that was a clue for me to work further. And with going gluten-free, which I’ve been now gluten-free for 20 years, I can say that I am healthier now than I was 20 years ago.

Evelyne: Is that what brought you into functional medicine?

Becky Murray: It was one of the things that brought me into the autoimmune aspect of functional medicine. I had started 25 years ago with women’s issues and hormones and things like that. But it wasn’t until it affected me personally that I really gotten so interested in the whole concept of antibodies and how they affect your body and the inflammatory process. So, yes, I’d say the transition went into more of an emphasis on autoimmune diseases about 20 years ago.

Evelyne: Thank you for sharing that.

Becky Murray: Mm-hmm.

Evelyne: I know I want to talk about sleep a little bit, which obviously ties into all of the things we’re talking about, weight gain, energy and sleep. I mean, it’s so basic, but we have to ask questions. Sometimes people wake up frequently during the night for multiple reasons. Of course, we have to ask, what are you drinking before bed?

Becky Murray: But that’s just, don’t drink a liter of water before you go to bed at night. I mean, that is the basic thing. A couple other basics that just allude people is if they’re on, they’re doing what we call screen time and the blue white that comes from the screen actually reduces your production of melatonin. So, I will say something about either decreasing your screen time or wearing blue light blocker glasses or doing something like that if you have to be on that.

Also with their eating, are they late night eater? Or another thing is a lot of people drink alcohol before they go to bed at night because they think it relaxes them, but it definitely interferes with the quality of their sleep. So, usually I will say to them, well, when you do drink alcohol, do you find yourself waking up more often during the night? We can look at that.

Now with the type of women that I deal with, a lot of them are starting with the hot flashes and I see women come to me that say, “I’ve just been put on estrogen but it doesn’t help,” because I was just explaining that a lot of women can be estrogen-dominant. The first hormone that changes is progesterone. And so it’s the imbalance between progesterone and estrogen. So, one of my go-to’s is actually using progesterone, and that helps with so many women during the night. And I also ask them whether or not they make multiple trips to the bathroom. And like, “I don’t even know why I do because I decrease my fluids at night.” So one of the areas that I’m just starting to look at, and that’s what’s so exciting about functional medicine, it’s like an evolving, there is always something else new to look at. So, in addition to multiple trips to the bathroom during the night, one of their other complaints could also be like stress incontinence, the littlest thing, the laugh or something like that.

So, when you look at the underlying function in the body, it’s the urethral sphincter that controls that. So it’s making me look into another whole new area of research, which is the vaginal microbiome. And we talk about the gut microbiome, but this is a new area we’re looking at as if there’s chronic inflammation there that is inflaming the tip of the urethra because it’s right inside the vagina, looking at that to see whether or not that could be contributing to it.

Evelyne: What are some of the other areas that you’re evaluating in patients when they come to see you?

Becky Murray: Well, so the fatigue. Well, this is a big thing we have been seeing, especially post the pandemic. Before I was talking about the adrenal response to inflammation in the body where you can overproduce cortisol. But long-term, a person has just been on unrelenting stress, it just puts a big taxing on the adrenal gland. So, again, I’ll do the four point salivary cortisol levels. We will be looking at what is their adrenal reserve first thing in the morning. You’re supposed to have your highest levels of cortisol first thing in the morning. That’s what enables for us to get up and get going. I will also ask women, when do you feel like you’re starting to get some energy? And if they say it’s about two to three hours afterwards, I can actually see a relationship with the four point salivary cortisol. Their cortisol levels will be so low in the morning and it just starts to squeak out about 10 or 11 o’clock when they actually feel like they can put one foot in front of the other without thinking about it.

So, again, I will do the four point salivary cortisol when it’s low in the morning. We can use supplements like known as adrenal adaptogens, eleutherococcus, ashwagandha. There’s just some of the ones more common that people know to try to help improve the health of the adrenal gland.

Sleep is the number one thing. So, when they talk about more energy, I’ve got to explain to them that they need good sleep in order for the adrenals to heal. And in some cases, I’ve actually had to give them some supplemental natural bioidentical hydrocortisone in the morning just to get them going while we’re changing around the diet. The term I use for them is they’re like wired and tired and they just seem to be running off of nervous energy. So, one of the other hormones that is secreted by the adrenal gland are catecholamines. So, you see the low cortisol levels, they just can’t make cortisol, and it’s like the body reverts to just the catecholamines, and then they put in the artificial stimulants of catecholamines because they’re running all day on cup of coffee after cup of coffee. That’s the only way they can get through the day. So, we’re going to tell them to lower the caffeine intake, get really good sleep, and we’ll be watching them heal.

Evelyne: So, for that hypo picture of HP axis dysregulation, what are some of your favorite ways to support that?

Becky Murray: I think I said the various types of adaptogens. Sometimes you can actually use a supplement that’s actually got some adrenal extract in it, but I think dietary and lifestyle changes is, it’s not swallow a pill and this gets all better. You really have to work on that. And again, it goes back to their sleep patterns. What is interfering with why they are not sleeping at night, because their adrenals are never going to heal if they are constantly in a state of sleep deprivation.

Evelyne: And for that hyper picture, like the wired and tired, what are some of your favorite ways with nutraceuticals to support those?

Becky Murray: The number one thing that I do with that is try to find out the source of the inflammation. Now, there are various things you can do for anti-inflammatory, but you have to stop putting that into your body. And that entails usually a more in-depth workup, looking at food sensitivities and what is contributing to the underlying inflammation that is sending a message to the adrenal gland to make more.

Evelyne: Right. I have a few more questions for you, some personal questions that we like to ask everyone on Conversations for Health. What are your top three supplements?

Becky Murray: Okay.

Evelyne: And why?

Becky Murray: And why? Well, more recently, one of my favorite supplements has been vitamin D because a lot of women are vitamin D deficient because we’re all told to be putting on factor 50 if you’re going out in the sun, and that’s going to decrease the skin’s absorption in the conversion to vitamin D. And then with everything that’s been going on after the pandemic, I find that a strong immune system is absolutely your best protection. And so many studies have shown the relationship between our vitamin D levels and our immune status. So, probably one of my favorites now has become vitamin D supplementation to try to get their levels up to, out of deficient or past just above deficiency. So, if you look at what the blood levels say, anywhere between 30 and a hundred, and people will come to me with levels of 31 and being told that they are fine.

So, my analogy to that is if you just had a financial analyst come in to look at your bank book and everything and said, “You’re absolutely fine,” and they walked out the door and you saw you had a dollar to your name and you drew it to their attention and they go, “You’re not bankrupt.” And I think that’s the way it’s being looked at right now is if you are not bankrupt or below 30, you are absolutely fine. No, you are not fine. We really need to support the immune system. So, along with that, with zinc, and then sleep goes along with the immune system. But definitely most people really need some degree of vitamin D supplementation to get adequate levels.

But what has been one of my favorites for years has been omega-3s. I love omega-3s. I think it stems back to when I was doing my graduate degree, I did my dissertation in looking at the role of omega-3s and EPA and DHA and the cellular wall. I know, fun, crazy. But I learned so much from that. What oils and what fats we put into our body have a definite effect on our health.

And since omega-3s are anti-inflammatory omega-3s and the population of the women that I’m dealing with, they’re actually concerned about the effects of aging on their appearance. And I tell them, I say really, good skin comes from the inside out. And I’ll have people comment in my office about how my skin looks good. And I will say, for years, I have been practicing good skin from the inside out. And so omega-3s, we can actually look at our levels. But if I do a dietary history on them and I don’t see any intake of open water Atlantic salmon, that’s the highest source of the omega-3s because salmon, if it is farm raised, does not have the omega-3s, I’m saying you actually need that. I affectionately call that an oil change. Our cars need oil change. Our bodies sometimes need oil change.

And I would say collagen. I love collagen. When you look at collagen is so important in the integrity of the skin, the ligaments, everything in our body. And to be able to put that in and support your body, it’s just been one of my favorites. And I can’t forget a multi vi, to me that’s just so standard that we know we can’t get all the nutrients that we need from our foods. The Department of Agriculture has stated that our foods are being grown in soils that have been over-farmed and are nutrient-deplete. So, the vegetables that we ate when we were growing up as kids are not the same nutrient content of what we eat now. So, taking just a really good standard multivitamin, but I just think that’s standard for everyone to be able to get the nutrients to support their body and what they need.

Evelyne: So, a lot of the basics. Got to have the foundations. What are your top health practices for your personal health and wellbeing?

Becky Murray: I have put more of an emphasis on sleep.

Evelyne: Great.

Becky Murray: I have. When you’re a teenager, you think sleep is just a waste of your time. You got too much to do. But just knowing and understanding more of the mechanisms of what’s going on inside the body and the brain when you sleep, that’s when your brain is actually repairing, restoring, collecting all the data from the day, reorganizing. And it’s just something that I find people just put at such a back burner. And I just say I have really learned that a good night’s sleep is so important.

Personal, I would say being around people who I enjoy being with. I mean, especially after the pandemic and they say now the biggest epidemic out there is social isolation and depression from not being around people. And I find that when I am around like-minded people, that I actually feel energized. It’s kind of like an internal endorphin load that I experience. So, definitely socialization is really, really important. And of course, being active, totally being active, not being a couch potato, getting out and doing things. And you can incorporate activities that make you feel good. I love to dance.

Evelyne: Awesome.

Becky Murray: Dance is a great activity. You do it with friends, you enjoy what you’re doing. So, I would say being active, well, obviously eating well, obviously, and avoiding the foods, sleep and social interaction. I would say those are the top things that are part of my health-oriented life.

Evelyne: What is something that you’ve changed your mind about through all your years in practice?

Becky Murray: Well, I did my training in the traditional allopathic model, and I was working as a nurse practitioner in standard medical clinics. And there, the line of thinking was, ask them what their top complaint is, pull out your prescription pad and write a prescription for the drug that treats that symptom. And the thing that I’ve changed my mind about the most is, it’s not about putting a Band-Aid on the symptom. It’s about getting to the root cause of what is causing the symptom. When people ask me what I do and I say, I do functional medicine, that’s what sets me apart. And they will go, “Well, what is functional medicine like?” It is something totally different than regular medicine. And I say, I have a very, very easy to remember definition. I am going to look in depth to what is not functioning correctly in your body, and then we’re going to do something about that so it doesn’t continue to produce the symptom. I’m not going to Band-Aid it, I’m not going to cover it up. We want to solve it. That’s what functional medicine is.

Evelyne: I love it.

Becky Murray: Really easy.

Evelyne: Beautiful. Well, thank you so much, Becky. This has been a pleasure and I really appreciate your time and expertise in sharing with us today.

Becky Murray: Thank you. It was a pleasure to be here.

Evelyne: Thank you for tuning into Conversations for Health. Check out the show notes for the resources shared on today’s episode. Share this podcast with your colleagues follow, rate and leave a review wherever you listen. And thank you for designing a well world with us.

Voiceover: This is Conversations for Health with Evelyne Lambrecht, dedicated to engaging discussions with industry experts, exploring evidence-based, cutting edge research and practical tips.

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