Stress, Hormones & Immunity

Our healthcare system is broken. We are doing the same things and expecting different results. Our focus has been on diagnosing and treating the problem, not discovering the root cause.

With Dr. Susan Lovelle

Are you a smart, busy woman who feels like you’re just surviving on caffeine and willpower? Having been a professional ballet dancer for 17 years and then an award-winning plastic surgeon for over two decades, Dr. Susan knows what it’s like to beat your body and your mind into submission to achieve a certain look or vision.


In fact, the physical, mental, and emotional abuse she heaped on her own body during those years led to the life-threatening health issues she later developed and it was only through a personalized, holistic approach that she healed herself.


Now, Dr. Susan uses that expertise to help smart, over-extended women who are frustrated with ineffective, cookie-cutter health advice discover their own unique path to the energy, power, and balance they want in their lives.


She’s the creator of Premiere Wellness, a comprehensive holistic health company based in Raleigh, NC, serving clients globally with customized wellness solutions for weight, energy, hormones, and more.


Dr. Susan has been featured on The Doctors, Lifetime TV, The Huffington Post, Forbes, Good Morning Washington, and Good Day Charlotte.

America’s Healthcare Crisis

The healthcare crisis facing our nation has been building for decades. It’s a domino effect. It didn’t just start this week.


The question becomes how can we take back control of your life? Something about your health has taken over in your life, something that you can’t seem to control or manage.


We had one patient, Laura who came to see us. Rather, we should say she barely came in. She was 5’6 and weighed 100 lbs and was suffering from three different autoimmune conditions. She was in private practice, gave everything for everyone, to the point that she developed gut issues which then became autoimmune conditions. Laura walked in with a gallon bag full of medications. All those medications were actually working against each other. Her family didn’t think she was going to survive much longer. We started looking at the root causes. When there is an autoimmune condition, you have to take a step back. We know it started somewhere else.


Over the course of 2 years, she has found health.


The Power Wheel – gives us a visual of what’s going on in your life. What is good and what is zapping your energy? It’s a great place to start. 


Our healthcare system is broken. We are doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results.


My own story is a great example. Twelve years ago I was in solo private practice, very busy, a mom, my kids were in their early teens, and we had just moved to northeast NC. All of a sudden I was surrounded by southern food, stress, put on 35 pounds on a very small frame, that was a lot of weight. Inflammation, stress, ended me up in the ICU three times in one year. The third time I almost didn’t make it out. I made changes in how I ate, moved, how I was taking care of myself. I began to get control of the inflammation which was all started by stress.


You do have control. I like to call it a broccoli umbrella, if you take care of yourself it will protect you from all the other bad stuff out there.


The US spends about $11,000 per person every year on health care. That’s trillions of dollars a year. We are spending the most by far, and yet, we are ranked 37th for longevity of life. It is because we focus on diagnosing and treating the problem.


In medical school, we had these giant codebooks. Each book had 70,000 codes. If it was in those books, it was covered by insurance. If it wasn’t, it wasn’t covered. What was in those codebooks is what we learned. If someone had diabetes we would give them medication. If they suffered from high blood pressure, we would give them a pill. We relied on medication instead of learning how to get at the root cause.


If you’re on diabetes medication or high blood pressure medication, you’re going to be on medications for life. It’s all about the money, all about big pharma.


Let’s say you go to the doctor with bowel difficulties — constipation, for example — what will the doctor say? They’re going to give you a stool softener, or some other medication rather than looking for the root cause – mineral levels, thyroid issues,etc.


Similarly, if you come in with fatigue, insomnia, resistant weight, depression, it will almost always be met with a solution involving some form of medication.


When I was in plastics, I would say that 70-80% of women that came in were on some type of medication for depression. Do you really think that much of our population is feeling that unhappy and depressed? Or do you think that when they go into the doctors and say they don’t feel well, the first thing the doctor’s are doing is handing out medication rather than looking at the gut, which is often the cause of a lot of mood disorders.

Why a Crisis Now:

We’ve stopped being so proactive. It comes back to the food we are eating. Frankenfood, as I call it.  Pesticides. Glyphosate.


Roundup, the weed killer, is loaded with Glyphosate, and it’s what they are spraying on the crops. Cheerios have a high level of this chemical. How many of you would let your two-year-old go out in the backyard after spraying with roundup? Nobody. But yet how many of us let our two-year-old chew and teeth on cheerios? It’s accepted. But they are literally eating glyphosate.


How do you want to feel?  What’s Your Why? Family, fun, love, purpose – these are all important things to consider in any health journey.


What would you do for a plant that was wilting, it’s leaves turning brown? You would water it, maybe give it some sunlight, fertilize the soil. That’s what we need to do for ourselves. Maximize, minimize, and prioritize.


Maximize the good:

The purpose of food. That which is eaten to sustain life, provide, energy, and promote growth and repair of tissues. We want to eat food that we actually recognize.


Minimize the bad stuff:

There are three kinds of stress. First is physical stress, things like extreme sports, car accidents, etc. Then you have chemical stress, the pesticides in food and the lotions and chemicals we put on our bodies. Literally, we slather our body with hundreds of chemicals every day. Our skin is like a giant mouth. Everything we put on our bodies is being absorbed through our skin. We are stressing our liver when we do that.


Finally, we have emotional stress. We need to learn how to manage and get rid of that, otherwise we will start impacting our hormones.

Fat-Storing and Fat-Burning Hormones

Imagine a breakfast of a bagel and cream cheese with a coffee.


Our fat storing hormones are insulin, estrogen, and cortisol. When we are stressed, we increase all of those fat storing hormones, which we don’t want at high levels. That bagel breakfast will raise all three of these fat-storing hormones. Carbs will raise our insulin levels, estrogen is in the hormones in the milk and butter and cream, cortisol comes from the coffee – for many people if you’re drinking a lot of coffee, you’re increasing that fat-storing hormone cortisol first thing in the morning. This breakfast is literally turning on all your fat storing hormones for the day.

Four Key Hormones

Four key hormones affect the gut health.


  1. Estrogen – if you have too much you’re going to start gaining weight around the hips, buttocks, and thighs.
  2. Adrenal – if you’re dieting, and doing everything you can, but can’t seem to get rid of weight around your middle
  3. Thyroid – if thyroid is low, which can happen if stress level is high, you have fat that collects all over the body.
  4. Liver – this one may be the most worrisome. This is fat that is actually wrapped around your organs. Your heart and liver won’t be able to work as well as they should.

Fitness Pillar

We have people in two different corners. Those that are couch potatoes, and those that are at the gym for hours a day, 5-6 days a week. That’s not good either. That’s turning on a different set of hormones.


We want to work out two, maximum three times a week with intense, muscle-building workouts.


That’s going to increase your metabolism, get you more toned, and get your body to be more metabolically active.


The pesticides, the medications (even things like Tylenol and Motrin), alcohol — we want to clean our body from all of these things every once in a while. I don’t mean sticking a tube up your rear end or taking a pill, but more of a systematic approach.


Like a car’s air filter, when you clean your air filter it works a lot better. When you detox your body it works a whole lot better. When you get to the end of a detox you often realize you didn’t know how bad you had been feeling.

Immune Function

If your immune system works, you are going to be able to better handle sickness. Work to get rid of the chronic disease to be proactive about your health.

Gut Health

70% of your immune system is housed in your gut. Serotonin is one neurotransmitter that is made in your gut. Neurotransmitters are needed to keep your mood stable. Those that are depressed may be prescribed a medication that raises serotonin levels, but then the body stops making serotonin on its own, and you need to keep adding more through medication.

Food Sensitivities

If you had an electric car, a Tesla – would you put gasoline in it? No!


For many people with food sensitivities, eggs, lemons, peppers, eggplant, corn can be like gasoline on a fire. You need to find out if you have food sensitivities, because even if it’s a “good food” it can cause a lot of inflammation in your body if it’s not a good food for you.

Test Don’t Guess

It’s not just about having normal levels, we want to have optimal levels. That’s why we test, we don’t ever just want to guess what’s going on with somebody’s body.


You wouldn’t get in the cockpit with a person that has only read the manual and never actually flown a plan.


You can influence your health. It’s never too late. Your daily choices determine your future. Don’t procrastinate. The whole thing is really about commitment. Are you committed or just interested in improving your health?

The US spends about $11,000 per person every year on health care. That’s trillions of dollars a year. We are spending the most by far, and yet, we are ranked 37th for longevity of life. It is because we focus on diagnosing and treating the problem.

Participant Q&A’s

How do you test for food sensitivities?

The gold standard is to go through a period of elimination – taking things out of the diet and putting them back in, but it takes time, 5-6 weeks. We also do blood tests, but those results can be a little off.


You said coffee increases cortisol. Is it the caffeine? Does decaf do the same thing?

In some people caffeine can increase cortisol, not in everyone. Decaf does still have a little caffeine in it. I recommend mushroom coffee, it has adaptogens in it. Adaptogens are great because wherever you need to be more balanced is where they will take you. Neuroast is the one I really like, you can buy it online. Four Sigmatic is another brand, I’ve found it to be more expensive, but it’s still good. These mushroom coffees don’t make you jittery the same way coffee does.


What about popular HIIT style training? That’s pretty intense. Do you recommend people pursue those styles of workouts?

You have to see how your body responds. If you do too much of it you can make your body inflamed. It’s what your body can withstand, but you don’t want to do too much. You absolutely do still want cardio, but space it out – once or twice a week, the rest of the days walk, do yoga, do some type of movement that will relax your body and give it a chance to rest.


Where does somebody start? I have everything you described. Aching limbs, the big belly bulge, diabetes. But this all sounds so overwhelming.

One of the things you can start with is the power wheel I mentioned. Where in those four quadrants are you lacking? That is where you should start.

For the people that work with us, we always start with a basic consultation. We take it step by step and start with the thing that is impacting your life the most. Diabetes, high blood sugar, a lot of that is due to inflammation and often starts resolving pretty quickly.


I have a question about Glyphosate. I now no longer know what to feed my children. It’s the oats, it’s in oatmeal too, rice and sweet potato high in arsenic. So what do you eat?

It can be easy to get so wrapped up in all that’s bad in life and then you just end up feeling frozen. I suggest looking at the Environmental Working Group. Every year they put out something called the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen. You will see the top twelve foods you don’t want to eat because of pesticides. Always try to eat organic for those foods, definitely follow that list. The Clean 15 will give you a list of foods that if you can’t find organic, then you should feel okay eating non-organic. For the rest of things, try to find organic. Whole Foods, Sprouts will sell knock offs of things like Cheerios that are organic.


Do you find symptoms of depression are alleviated through these holistic measures?

Yes, absolutely! When you heal the gut a lot of those symptoms go away. For example, I was sensitive to eggs. I discovered this through functional medicine. I stopped eating them and literally in two weeks I had no more rash, inflammation, headaches, or bloating. My traditional doctor had put me on steroids to solve the issue which had me bouncing off the walls.


If you could impart one health habit to all women, what would it be?

Listen to your body. Your body is wise beyond all belief. When you hurt, when your joints hurt, when you’re tired, when you have brain fog, when you can’t concentrate – these are like the check engine light that comes on in your car. When you step back, you often know what it is.


Keep a diary for 3-5 days and see if there’s a connection between what you’re eating and how you feel.


How do you take this information and not get obsessed with it?

It’s because you care so much about being healthy, that you start to not be healthy and hurt yourself. One of the ways we manage that is we don’t just do nutrition and movement, we also have a life and spiritual coach that will get into the emotional aspect of what’s going on. Even when we know all the medical stuff up and down, but find that something is still stuck, we have her come in and almost always find that something else is happening that is keeping a person from moving onto that next step. 

Having that reflection time is so important, morning is often the best time. If you feel that love for yourself, then it won’t allow you to take things too far. When you know you are doing something for your own body and your own love, and you’re starting to hurt that body, you are able to back off.


Can we talk a bit about dairy?

Dairy is one of the things that can be very inflammatory to some people, especially if they are sensitive to gluten. Take it out for a month or two and then put it back in and if you have that response you will know. Gluten and dairy have some of the smae molecules, so if you’re sensitive to gluten you may also be sensitive to dairy, but it’s very much on a case by case basis.


Can a food sensitivity go away?

Yes, if you have something like leaky gut which can cause you to develop food sensitivities, not food allergies- then yes. If you take a food out and heal your gut, you can try to re-introduce that food back in.

Usually it’s because you’re having a lot of something that you develop a sensitivity. Typically it’s a food you like because your body sees it a lot, and then that sensitivity starts to develop and get more and more inflamed. Take it away and your body will start to calm down.


Contact Dr. Susan Lovelle at Premeire Wellness to learn more about her practice.


Dr. Susan Lovelle is a former professional ballerina, a plastic surgeon for 22 years, and a life-long health nut. She has always been passionate about helping people heal and transform their bodies, minds, and spirits so that they can live the vibrant lives they want and deserve. Dr. Lovelle realized that working only on the outside wasn’t enough and that she needed to provide a more holistic approach for the women she was working with that would get them out of the overwhelm of conflicting advice to help them design, create, and live their own vibrant, joyful lives. Dr. Lovelle opened Premiere Wellness, a comprehensive holistic wellness company based in Raleigh, North Carolina, serving clients globally. At Premiere Wellness they provide customized individual, group, and corporate wellness programs, workshops, and retreats.

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