Feed your brain! The brain depends upon nutrient-dense foods that break down into a steady supply of blood glucose that fuels brain function. So that means never skipping meals and getting plenty of brain food in the form of good proteins like eggs, cold water fish and grass-fed beef and Omega 3’s in GOOD fats like avocado, nut butters, olive and coconut oils, nuts and seeds, as well as whole grains, fruits and dark green leafy vegetables.
Ihad the pleasure of interviewing Candace Burch. Candace is an internationally recognized Hormone Health Educator and media personality with over 25 years of experience in the field. Through her testing and consulting practice, Your Hormone Balance, she helps people of all ages detect, and naturally correct hormone imbalances. Her background includes working as a health writer and investigative journalist in London, and leading educational initiatives for ZRT Laboratory and Metabolic Weight Loss Center. Candace continues to raise awareness about hormone health and disease prevention through her work as a writer, speaker, and podcaster.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
Asa child growing up in Chicago I suffered from such severe hay fever and asthma that I had to spend summers sleeping in the bathtub (!) since it was the smallest room in the house where the de-pollinator machine worked most effectively.
At the same time, I was also getting weekly injections to control my allergies (and there is nothing kids hate more than long needles!) so from a very early age, I developed a lifelong aversion to shots and pills.
Later, as a young adult teaching skiing in Aspen, Colorado, my knee started to ache and swell up, which again saw me back in a doctors’ office submitting myself to steroid injections and meds to control the inflammation. That for me, was the last straw. I knew there had to be better alternatives, so I started reading about the body’s natural defenses, and was able to connect the dots between my allergies and my knees as an inflammatory reaction linked to a weakened immune system.
Through my research I became inspired by the idea of detoxing my body to strengthen my immunities and went on a 17 day green juice fast during which time I watched my knee shrink back to normal…and lo’ and behold when summer rolled around, I was no longer plagued by swollen itchy eyes, explosive sneezing and asthma. For me, this was a revelation that changed my trajectory from ski bum focused on life for the fun of it, to educator focused on life for the health of it.
Soon after, I launched “AH-HA” (Aspen Holistic Health Association) with a group of friends. This was one of the earliest wellness groups to host talks on disease prevention and health maintenance in town, and prompted me to trade in my skis for a Masters degree in Health Education…which became my true calling!
My work as a hormone specialist began years later, after battling my own symptoms of hormone imbalance during Menopause. Thankfully, I learned how to naturally rebalance my hormones and find relief from my symptoms through a combination of saliva testing and natural rebalancing methods (lifestyle modifications, stress management, herbs and plant based hormones).
Although I had already been working as a health educator and health writer/editor for over a decade, my experience battling my own symptoms of hormone imbalance led to the discovery of my true purpose and passion: spreading awareness about hormone health, disease prevention and natural hormone rebalancing. I became the Director of Education at ZRT Hormone Testing Labs, and spent over a decade working alongside scientists, biochemists, physicians and compounding pharmacists, educating the public about the importance of hormone testing and rebalancing for improved physical, mental and emotional well being!
Today, I have my own testing and consulting practice: Your Hormone Balance , that enables me to work with women across the world, helping them detect and correct hidden hormone imbalances that negatively impact health and longevity. My approach is all natural and focused on getting to the root of troublesome, persistent symptoms so my clients can restore balance and get back to living their best lives!
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
I think the best story is probably about me being an older mom, lashed to the rollercoaster of hot flashes, mood swings and a looming menopause in my late 40’s when my two daughters, Ryan and Jess, were still too young to understand the new normal of “nice mommy” one minute, and “mean mommy” the next!
One day in the middle of a spectacular mood swing, I looked down at my 5 year-old Ryan and saw that her beautiful blue eyes were filled with tears, and there was fear there too. Startled by my Jekyll and Hyde transformation, she was actually terrified of me! And that was the defining moment; I realized that all the health knowledge in the world wouldn’t keep my children from being afraid of me if I couldn’t use my know-how to get a grip on this thing called menopause.
Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting?
The very first week of my new job as Director of Education at ZRT Laboratory, happened to coincide with the release of a new book on breast cancer that my boss, Dr. David Zava (the founder of ZRT) had co-written with Dr. John Lee. The book launch was a big deal as it was the culmination of years of research Dr. David Zava had conducted into the hormonal causes of breast cancer, and I had the all-important job of publicizing it.
Dr. Zava gave me his one copy, hot off the press to peruse and I got busy reading and thinking about how best to photograph the book for PR purposes. My husband, who is a photographer, suggested that the cover of the book should be affixed to a piece of cardboard that we could prop up in order to light it correctly for the best photo. To do that I would need to make a cutout of the front cover, so I did, glued it to a piece of cardboard and took the shot. It looked great, but it meant that I had to return the book to Dr. Zava minus its cover…BIG mistake.
When he saw it, his face fell, and while I struggled to explain the logic behind the missing cover, he was having none of it. “I was going to, to give that to my mother,” he said, with an expression that was both very sad AND very mad. Never in my life have I felt so embarrassed and stupid. I had vandalized the cover of the first copy of the first book my new boss, a man I revered but hardly new, had ever published. So in the first few days of my dream job I had managed to deeply offend my new boss and very nearly got fired.
What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?
Don’t be so eager to make your mark that you rush headlong into a decision before thinking twice, asking questions and examining the available options before doing what could prove to be your undoing!
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
When I realized that I was in peri-menopause having scared my children and husband half to death with my wild moods and insistence that we open practically every window in the house (in the dead of winter) to accommodate my hot flashes, I realized it was time to get help.
I began by reading every book I could get my hands on about the menopause transition, but the one that really hit home (that felt like the author was speaking to ME ) was Dr. John Lee’s seminal book on the subject: What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause.
Dr. Lee had a flourishing practice in Mill Valley, California and was influenced by Dr. Katarina Dalton (the UK physician who first discovered and defined the term PMS ‘Premenstrual Syndrome’ as a hormonal imbalance between the master female hormones, estrogen and progesterone) to completely transform his practice to an all natural approach; switching from synthetic HRT (hormone replacement Therapy) like “Premarin” or “PremPro” (derived from pregnant mare’s urine) to all natural, bioidentical hormones made from plants. He noted that his patients started to get dramatic, often lasting relief from his new approach, and he never had another case of breast cancer in his practice!
So back to the story…I emailed Dr. Lee and asked if I could meet him, study with him, literally sit at his knee, ANYTHING to be able to learn more about natural hormone balancing so that I could teach other women like myself hanging on to the rollercoaster of looming menopause for dear life.
To my surprise, Dr. Lee’s co-author, Virginia Hopkins, a health educator like myself, responded that Dr. Lee was not taking interns as he was in the midst of retirement, but that he would put me in touch with Dr. David Zava: a PhD, biochemist and breast cancer researcher in Portland, Oregon, who had established ZRT (Zava Research and Testing), one of the first hormone testing laboratories in the country. Virginia said that Dr. Lee would be happy to refer me to Dr. Zava, gave me his direct number and suggested I give him a call…and the rest is history!
I was invited for an interview the very next day, and as it often happens in life, Dr. Zava was in need of someone just like me, a health educator in menopause! Someone who could write from experience and help him educate women everywhere about the crucial importance of hormonal health. I was hired that very week as ZRT’s Director of Education and subsequently learned ‘hormone speak’ from the experts in the field AND to my great good fortune, came to know my hero, Dr. John Lee personally over the years. I actually had dinner with him the night before he died.
Inspired by his teachings, I founded Your Hormone Balance so that I could, along with so many others, continue to do the work he began.
What advice would you suggest to your colleagues in your industry to thrive and avoid burnout?
Practice what you preach!
What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?
One of the essentials I’ve learned about creating a healthy, balanced work culture is to make sure that the individuals on your team are in roles that nurture their strengths, not their weaknesses.
Time and time again I’ve seen people set up for failure, hired to do a job they were completely unsuited for, and then scrutinized for the quality of their work; work they shouldn’t have been doing in the first place! There really is no excuse for this, as there are any number of skill and personality assessment tools (Myers-Briggs comes to mind) that can guide project/team leaders in placing individuals in positions that let them shine…in so doing, a healthy, harmonious and spirited work culture becomes the norm. We should all be doing work we are naturally good at and that gives us a sense of purpose.
There’s nothing better than a job that brings you money AND meaning. The lesson for leaders is to BE the lesson.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. Retirement is a dramatic ‘life course transition’ that can impact one’s health. In some cases, retirement can reduce health, and in others it can improve health. Can you share with our readers 5 things that one should do to optimize mental wellness after retirement? Please share a story or an example for each.
1) Keep your mind in gear! Knowing that I would retire in a couple years, I started my dream business on the side of my full time job; one that focused on what I’d been longing to do for ages but (as a company director) never got the chance to do: actually talk with women who had hormone issues, help them feel listened to, explain their test results and guide them toward natural solutions.
I grew my clientele gradually, and by the time I retired, was able, with the help of my two daughters, to build my consulting business to a point where I can see how my life’s work can really help people feel much better in more ways than one.
This has brought me a sense of joy and true purpose I never could achieve in my executive career.
2) Be alert to the symptoms of hormonal imbalances that can seriously impact your mental function such as brain fog, memory loss, distracted thinking, inability to focus, poor concentration, lack of mental sharpness, feelings of burnout. These are all too common, but not inevitable, symptoms of declining hormones as we age, and should be of special concern to retirees who no longer have to think on their feet or perform at top mental capacity on the job. If after retirement you find yourself foggy brained and forgetful, losing not just your keys but your cognitive abilities, you may have a hormonal imbalance that is making things much worse than they need to be.
3) Test your hormone levels! Hormones absolutely rule our physical, emotional and mental functions so imbalances can play havoc with the ability to stay on top of our game.
The key hormone players are Estrogen, Progesterone, Testosterone, DHEA and Cortisol (stress), which all play a huge role in building and maintaining mental capacity. For example, an estrogen deficiency can cause brain fog and patchy memory; testosterone lows can impact our ability to process information, and elevated stress hormones can lead to a lack of focus and distracted thinking. Hormone testing can detect these imbalances so that steps can be taken to correct them
4) Learn new skills. It is well known that picking up new skills like learning a language, playing an instrument, making yourself an expert in a subject you have always been interested in but never had the time to research, or teaching others, is the best way to keep your brain sharp.
When I started to make a study of English history and was finally able to connect the dots from the Celts to the Romans to the Anglo-Saxons, Normans and so on, I could actually feel my brain synapses lighting up!
5) Feed your brain! The brain depends upon nutrient-dense foods that break down into a steady supply of blood glucose that fuels brain function. So that means never skipping meals and getting plenty of brain food in the form of good proteins like eggs, cold water fish and grass-fed beef and Omega 3’s in GOOD fats like avocado, nut butters, olive and coconut oils, nuts and seeds, as well as whole grains, fruits and dark green leafy vegetables.
To keep your brain operating on all cylinders, make sure every meal contains the fab four: protein, greens, fats and fiber. Also essential is managing stress so that your brain does not suffer fatigue and burn out.
Other things to consider:
● The importance of daily movement that keeps you limber like brisk walking, stretching, yoga and swimming!
● Engaging in activities that spark joy such as singing, art and travel…whatever it is!
● Taking yourself to a natural setting — it can be a mountain vista, the sea, or a local pond or park, whatever gets you out into the sun and air as often as possible!
● Consistently taking a multi every day. Vitamins like C, D and a B-complex are crucial to supporting the adrenal glands that help us take stress in stride.
● Turning off all electronic devices (the blue light they emit is a wicked sleep disruptors as it blocks the master sleep hormone melatonin), at least an hour or 2 before bed to still the mind and allow yourself to fall asleep naturally and restore brain power.
In your experience, what are 3 or 4 things that people wish someone told them before they retired?
1) Don’t think you’re not going to think about work anymore…you may even find yourself going through an identity crisis, no longer sure of who you are outside of your job. But know that this is an important part of the transition towards creating your new normal.
2) Retiring should not equate with a retreat from life. On the contrary, it can be a whole new chapter that challenges you to find greater purpose, or perhaps your true calling.
3) If your professional career endowed you with special know how, don’t sit on it. Find a way to share your skills and the bounty in your brain with others who can parlay that knowledge into meaningful work or an improved quality of life. Become a volunteer, an activist, a member of your favorite associate.
4) Take a pass on that cushy Lay-z-boy if you don’t want your golden years to be tarnished by inaction and a lack of strength and stamina… exercise your body and mind every single day.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?
How To Get Well, by Paavo Airola, M.D.
This was the book I found when as a 23 year old I was told by the specialist I consulted with that I had 75 year old knees and would be in a wheelchair before my 30th birthday. This book gave me hope and changed my life, setting me on the path to a career in wheelchair-free wellness!
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I would love to establish a National De-stress Day, which would provide the working public a day off along with self-care vouchers to cover the cost of a stress reducing activity (I.e. a yoga class, massage, singing lessons, etc.) with special offers available for those who make a monthly commitment to managing their stress levels. This would require a pledge from each individual to register in the program through their employer with additional perks provided for weight loss, smoking cessation etc.
Taking it a step further, it would be wonderful to set up community de-stress centers around the country offering all kinds of group classes, as well as education/talks/speakers/free literature on stress reducing techniques!
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
I particularly love this quote from Abe Lincoln: “And in the end it’s not the years in your life that count; it’s the life in your years”
This resonates with me because I have always been focused on the concept of “health span”, i.e. the number of years we live in a state of quality health, VS “life span” the total number of years we actually live!
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
My private lunch would be with Jane Fonda, as she is a woman of consequence who is not afraid to take action on the things she believes in — even to the point of getting arrested at 81 years old while lobbying for climate change awareness on the steps of the capitol!
I have a feeling that Jane would strongly support Bioidentical hormones vs. synthetic HRT (derived from pregnant mares urine). So if we ever have lunch together I will endeavor to enlist her into the movement to protect safe access to Bioidentical hormones for women in Menopause.
She is tough, honest, brash, brave and beautiful…she makes aging look GOOD, and I want to be her when I grow up! 😉
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
@yourhormonebalance on Instagram
(lots of insights and advice on natural hormone balance)
(sign up for our weekly newsletter for tips and tricks on natural hormone balance)
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!