Rachel's Weight Loss Story

Updated: May 28, 2020

Rachel (not her real name) came to see me feeling desperate for help with her hormones and unwanted weight gain. She had gained weight around her waistline, and her bra size had increased from a 12 to a 14. Since menopause she had gained nearly 10 kilos in the past year, from a slim 58kg to heavy 68kg.

She was concerned about this because her diet was generally a healthy one and she exercised regularly. She had not changed her lifestyle or diet but now she was having to buy a new bra size and was tipping the scales 10 kilos higher. Despite cutting down her carbs and trying various diets, her weight barely shifted and kept coming back on.

“It must be menopause!” she wailed in utter despair. She wanted hormone tests. After some very thorough questioning and looking at her past symptoms and medical history, it was revealed that she had always had some digestive problems, such as bloating and a sluggish bowel, usually bordering on constipation. She was reliant on dried fruit or laxatives to keep her bowels moving. She had never had any investigations or treatments for these symptoms, as they were mild, and considered normal symptoms. After all, she thought, "didn’t most people have those problems"? She said she was surprised at all the questioning I was doing and wondered why I was interested in her bowel function!

I said, "yes, it was very common to have these issues with digestion and bloating and sluggish bowel, but this didn't mean it was healthy". In fact, the “normal” or average gut is actually quite unhealthy, and this is why people suffer with various health issues as they get older. In fact, it is widely known in functional medicine that most diseases can be linked to poor gut function.

“Death begins in the colon” (Hippocrates)

Most people view menopause as a situation where oestrogen levels drop due to the decline of ovarian function. This is why there has been a profitable marketing of HRT hormone medication to women during and after menopause. There are common cases however, where women have too much of a “bad” type of oestrogen! Too much of this type of oestrogen causes fluid retention, increased waistline, breast enlargement, and a feeling of being bloated all round. This toxic type of oestrogen can also put extra work on the liver as the liver tries to clear it from the body. The over-worked liver then has trouble clearing any other toxins that it usually has to deal with. As a result, the patient then finds they can’t cope with other toxins, such as alcohol, the way they used to. Rachel said she really feels the effects of her nightly wine, but she is actually wanting more wine than usual because her energy is low, and her mood has become quite depressed and tired.

Looking at copies of her previous blood tests, what I found was that her hormone levels were definitely in menopause but that they were normal for her age. Her liver function was normal but showed a tendency to high cholesterol and bilirubin. There are no available blood tests to check for gut function, so I convinced her to have test called a Stool Analysis for gut microbiome testig. This involves sending a stool sample off to the lab for testing.

The stool test results were really interesting. The two most important findings were that she had very high levels of the enzyme β-glucuronidase and high levels of Escherichia Coli bacteria. Now let me just elaborate on this. These findings would not show up on a standard Medicare stool test which is done when a gut infection might be suspected. This test for gut function is what is called a “Functional Test”. Functional tests look at how the gut is working. They are done to look at the causes of problems from a deeper level rather than just for diagnosing a disease. It’s a bit like looking under the bonnet of a car to find out why there’s a warning light flashing on the dashboard, rather than simply replacing the bulb of the warning light.