Kathleen Gage And Ashley James
- Inflammation was gone after going whole food plant-based
- Benefits of going whole food plant-based on physical activities
- What’s the quality of life you want?
- Headaches disappeared after going whole food plant-based
- Don’t believe everything at face value
- Tips on how to start a podcast
- How to get on other people’s podcast
How do you lose weight healthily while still eating a lot? A doctor told Kathleen Gage that she would need to lose weight or have a heart attack and stroke. She has tried many diets, but the best diet she’s tried is going on a whole food plant-based diet. Since going plant-based, Kathleen has more energy to run and finish marathons, and she’s not at risk of having a heart attack and stroke. Besides sharing her whole food plant-based journey, she also gives us tips on how to start a podcast and how to get on other people’s podcasts.
Hello, true health seeker and welcome to another exciting episode of the Learn True Health podcast. You’re going to love today’s interview with Kathleen Gage. She’s giving away her program for you for free with a bunch of free goodies as well that she’s put together. You can get everything that she’s giving us, the Learn True Health listeners, by going to learntruehealth.com/powerup, that’s learntruehealth.com/powerup.
I also want to make sure that you know about the Learn True Health Home Kitchen. If you’re looking to increase the amounts of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes beans, and whole healthy greens in your diet if you want to increase the amount of nutrient density in your diet to stave off infection and disease, support your body’s ability to heal itself, and maintain optimal health, then join the Learn True Health Home Kitchen. Just go to learntruehealth.com/homekitchen and check it out. Be sure to use the coupon code LTH for the listener discount.
So go to these two links today, one is learntruehealth.com/powerup for the free goodies that Kathleen Gage is giving you, and go to learntruehealth.com/homekitchen to get the free tour and check out the membership site that I created for you with all these wonderful recipes and healing information, so you can walk into the kitchen and use your kitchen to support your body’s ability to heal itself. Delicious recipes that support you and your family in optimal health, learntruehealth.com/homekitchen. I hope to see you there. Enjoy today’s interview.
[00:01:47] Ashley James: Welcome to the Learn True Health podcast. I’m your host, Ashley James. This is episode 428. I am so excited for today’s guest. We have a really special guest. Kathleen Gage has been an inspiration to me for several years. Kathleen, I met you back in I want to say 2012 or 2013 back in Portland.
[00:02:15] Kathleen Gage: Yeah, it was quite a few years ago. I remember it well. It was at the old historic hotel. Drawing a blank on the name of it, but down in a lower room. Yeah, I remember it.
[00:02:29] Ashley James: It was really beautiful. Kathleen was leading a weekend workshop for entrepreneurs that was like a personal growth and mindset workshop, something you’ve done for many years. My husband and I really enjoyed it. We enjoyed connecting with all the wonderful people in your class and learning from you. Then afterward, we became Facebook friends, and I followed your journey. Your life has gone in a similar direction as mine has. It was really interesting to see what has transpired. I’m really excited for you to share your story today.
You have two platforms that are merging together. You teach people how to make their own podcasts, so entrepreneurs but also holistic health professionals, health coaches. You teach how to make a podcast that, how to market your podcast, and how to grow it so that you can get more clients, you can educate, and help. You can really help people because I know that your entire mission is about helping people. Then you have this other platform based on what’s happened in your life the last few years that has led you to become a health coach of sorts.
I’m going to step back, and I really would love you to paint the picture of your life because you have this amazing life story. It really does help us understand the work that you do and how you can help us now.
[00:04:01] Kathleen Gage: Thank you. It’s so interesting the journey that my life and my business have taken because I’ve had my business for 26 years. I started as a corporate trainer, and I was working with a lot of government agencies. Through the process of just my own personal growth and the evolution of business, now where we’re at with the whole COVID-19 situation, what I really focus on is helping experts who have a big mission. They want to get their message out to the market to either start a podcast show and use that as a platform to get their message out, or to get on a lot of podcast shows and saturate the market with their message in the most appropriate way.
On the flip side, I actually discovered plant-based eating. I’m coming up on about 20 months of being a plant-based eater. Initially, I started because I’m going to be 66 very shortly. Like a lot of women my age, I was getting inflammation, so I was looking for a solution. Everything led me back to plant-based eating. What’s amazing is within a couple of days of deciding to go plant-based, this was back in September of 2018, the inflammation was gone. The first week I dropped five pounds, and I wasn’t doing it as a diet, but I thought, hey, I’ll take it.
Within about three months, I dropped 38 pounds, I had more energy than I’d had in a long time, and the most important thing, which I love, Ashley, is that it was so aligned with my love of animals. Amazingly, I’ve worked in the pet industry for years. That came about as a result of doing a lot of animal rescue. I did a fundraiser for one of our rescues, and somebody from the pet industry saw me, asked me if I’d come and speak at a conference. One thing led to another, and at one point, about 50% of my business was in the pet industry.
One day, before I actually went plant-based, I remember feeling like there was a disconnect between rescuing animals, loving animals so much, talking about the well-being of animals, and eating animals. When I went plant-based, it was that big aha like that’s what the disconnect was. I was so out of alignment with what I said was true, but I wasn’t walking the talk.
Now, where my life is is that I do have two primary—what I call—buckets in my life and my business. One is working with experts—really helping them to gain the visibility to get their message out to market, and also living a very plant-based life. I’ve got a Facebook group, I’ve got a podcast, I’ve got a blog, and I’m so passionate about getting the message out about plant-based eating. What it does for your health, what it does for animals, and what it does for the planet.
[00:06:46] Ashley James: I’m in your Facebook group, I love your Facebook group. I love the resources.
[00:06:50] Kathleen Gage: Thank you.
[00:06:52] Ashley James: Every day you’re posting articles and book recommendations. You’ve asked me a few times to share some episodes like my interviews with Dr. Joel Fuhrman and Dr. Neal Barnard. I’ve got a few really good ones where these doctors are reversing disease using diet. I love those interviews. I love interviewing doctors who have the clinical experience of completely reversing diabetes, and this is type 2 diabetes, obviously. You can significantly improve type 1 diabetes with plant-based eating. When I say plant-based I mean whole foods plant-based, no processed foods, no oil, for example.
We have seen, under the care of these doctors, type 1 diabetics, significantly reduce their insulin usage healthfully even though they’re eating more carbohydrates. It blows their minds because they’re actually eating more carbs. Of course, they’re completely different carbs so this shouldn’t even be called carbs. A banana, a donut shouldn’t be both called carbs. It’s just two totally different things to the body. So type 1 diabetics are significantly improving their health and lowering their medical expenses. Type 2 diabetics are 100% reversing type 2 diabetes.
Heart disease patients who have actual blockages in the heart are reversing blockages in the heart, are getting off of medications, getting so healthy that they’re getting off of medication, and the list goes on and on. A dear friend of mine, Naomi, went plant-based last summer. I remember the day. She came from her appointment where she was told she had heart disease, and she had had Angina. She goes for daily walks, but she was winded, walking slowly, and she could never keep up with her three kids. She was getting chest pain, tachycardia, and heart skipping. Her heart was skipping and also beating fast. In the middle of the night, she’d wake up with her heart skipping and beating fast, and it was scaring her.
She thought it was her hormones, she thought it was the EBV that she’s been fighting for years, and it turned out it was actually heart disease. She came over to our house, and she thought how am I going to get my family to eat whole food plant-based? She came straight to our house from that appointment, and I had just made fresh rolls—like these big wraps with these leafy greens wrapped with a bunch of vegetables inside. I made a homemade peanut dipping sauce, and she loved it. She said, “Man, I could make this for my family.”
She proceeded to go home and start her plant-based journey that day. Then her family got on board with her, her three kids got on board. She’s not strict with them. If they go out, they’re going to eat meat outside the house, but there’s no meat in the house, and they’re actually really happy. They love the food she cooks. But then, she got her parents to go plant-based. Her dad, who had heart surgery. Both of her parents have arthritis. They’re maybe a little bit older than you, and her mom, within weeks of going whole food plant-based, her arthritis was 100% gone. Her pain was 100% gone. She couldn’t believe it. Not only is she losing some excess weight she had problems with, but all of her inflammation, all of her joint stiffness and pain went away within weeks.
This is the thing I’m hearing over and over again. It’s so exciting. You started eating whole food plant-based, and you started noticing these changes in your body. Then what happened?
[00:10:32] Kathleen Gage: Dramatic changes. A great example is this morning, I went on a 2 ½ mile run, and that’s a low run, that’s a small run for me. It hit me as I was getting ready today, I thought, wow, here I am. I’m going to be 66 years old. I remember growing up when you looked at somebody in their 60s, they were old. I look at a lot of women my age and they’re really old because they have bought into the belief that there’s not much they can do, but when you change the way you eat, when you change what you put into your body, and you get rid of the inflammation producing foods, a lot can change.
For me it’s I have much more energy, I have incredible focus. It’s so amazing right now with all that’s going on, so much stress in the world, and that people are getting sucked into this downward mindset that for me, I’m not stressed. I’m not feeling the stress that a lot of people are feeling, and I felt guilty a few days ago. I was like, what’s wrong with me? Why am I not feeling what everybody else is feeling? Well, I’m not eating what everybody else is eating.
Now, there was a period in my life when I was caretaking my mom, and she passed away in 2011. As I was her caretaker, I was consuming so much sugar and processed food, and I had gained. I was at my heaviest weight. I was 212 pounds at that point. I had no energy, I was depressed a lot, I was sad a lot, and of course, when you’re losing your mom you’re probably going to be sad. I’ve often thought, I wonder what my life would have been like and how I would have been able to respond even more than I already did had I not been eating the way I had been eating.
So for me, I feel like I’ve discovered the fountain of youth. I follow all the doctors like Dr. Fuhrman, Dr. Campbell, Dr. Greger, I follow all of them, and I really love their work. I also love talking to people that have had these reversals like your friend. I like talking to individuals who have had life-changing experiences. I interviewed a gentleman the other day. Brian Rogers is his name. He was 300 pounds, had six major diseases, had liver disease, he had heart disease, and he was borderline diabetes. It was just phenomenal what was going on in his life and his health. He was going to get bariatric surgery, and they decided to wait a little while because of insurance reasons.
He looked at it and he said, “Okay, I need to make some dramatic changes.” That was 140 pounds ago, that was six diseases ago. He’s reversed every single disease. When people say that there’s nothing they can do about their health, they need to look at is that true or is it that you haven’t explored one more option? Because the one more option they have just so much amazing information on what plant-based eating can do for people.
For me, as I get older, I keep getting healthier, and healthier, and healthier. The last time I went for my physical, my doctor, she just kept doing this. She goes, “Your numbers are amazing. These are some of the best numbers I’ve ever seen. They’re getting better and better every time I see you.” The first time I saw her when I went plant-based, it was about three months into it. She was just like, “This is incredible.” Because at one point, she said, “You better lose some weight. You better do something with your health because you’re ready to have a heart attack, and you’re ready to have a stroke.” She goes, “You’re not a kid anymore, and you need to realize you’re putting your life at risk.”
She was going to put me on some medication. I said, “Well, let me lose some weight.” Of course, I did what most people do, I went on a crash diet. Lost some weight, but then I gained it all back and some. For the first time in my life, I don’t diet, I don’t count calories, and I eat a lot. As you said, it’s the difference in the type of carbohydrates that we eat. Unfortunately, carbs have gotten a really bad rap because it’s not the carbs themselves, it’s the type of carbs—the sugar, the doughnuts, the cookies, all of the bad foods.
I would encourage people that if you’re feeling like you’re not living up to your full potential, give it a shot for a week. Try 100% plant-based, and what that means is as close to nature as possible. A lot of people assume, Ashley, that it means that you’re only going to eat salads, and there are so many choices. Oh my gosh. Actually, for breakfast, this is bizarre. For breakfast, we’ve been taught that we need bacon and eggs, pancakes, toasts, and all this stuff. For breakfast today what I had was split pea soup. It’s homemade split pea soup with leeks in it, with onions in it, and with carrots in it. I made it from scratch, and that was so good. The energy it gives me is unflipping believable.
[00:15:37] Ashley James: I love it. Yeah, we have to question our belief system around food. The belief that we need cereal, we need a certain breakfast, or we need a certain lunch. Just know that there’s this whole world of what we don’t know we don’t know out there. I love that lesson I learned from Landmark Education way back when I was a teenager. I took the Landmark Forum, which is a personal growth and development course. They say the world is made up—there are three things. The world is the things you know you know, like you know you know how to drive, right? That’s a small percentage of the world, let’s say it’s 5%. You know you know how to set the timer on your phone like the things you know you know.
Then there are the things you know you don’t know, and you know that you don’t know how to operate a rocket ship, right? You know you don’t know how to fly on a trapeze, the things you know you don’t know. That’s maybe a bit larger. Maybe it’s 25%, but then the majority of the circle is comprised of things you don’t know you don’t know. We live life like the only things that exist are things we know we know and things we know we don’t know. We tend to ignore, we tend to negate this whole other world, which is the majority of existence out there, like the stuff we don’t know we don’t know.
When all of a sudden we learn something we didn’t know we didn’t know, it’ll hit us hard. Either we accept it and we go, wow, this is new information. I didn’t even know this was possible. I didn’t know I could heal my body with food 100% and not with drugs. We accept it or we reject it because it doesn’t match our belief system of, well, this doesn’t fit into the box of the things I knew I didn’t know and so I’m going to reject it. We have to be careful. We need to make sure we keep our minds open enough, which I think my listeners do that’s why they’re here listening. They’re listening for what they don’t know they don’t know and the aha moments that come from that.
You were having those revelations, right? Because like you said, you didn’t diet but as you switched over to plant-based eating, can you share some of the aha moments as you were learning from these doctors?
[00:18:13] Kathleen Gage: Absolutely. It’s also interesting about what we think we know that we know, and it’s based on hearsay, it’s based on propaganda, it’s based on media, and it’s based on marketing dollars. Most people think they know that they need to have animal protein, and that is the furthest thing from the truth. The first thing I often get from people when I say that I’m plant-based is, where do you get your protein? I know that you’ve heard that too. Well, you get your protein from beans, from legumes, and from greens. I mean, plant-based food has as much if not more protein than animal-based, but it doesn’t have all the garbage that goes with it.
For people to look at what do you think that you know that you know that maybe you don’t know that you don’t know—it’s like a tongue twister on that one. With factory farming, for example. I had a woman the other day who got upset because I posted something about the factory farms that are being shut down. I said, “Yay, I’m so glad that’s happening,” and she got defensive. Apparently, her family has a family farm.
I said, “The two are night and day.” I said, “The way that family farms are run compared to factory farms are night and day, so don’t take it so personally because personally, I’m very glad that the factory farms are shutting down, and I would like to see more sustainable food being grown so that it’s healthier.” Because you look at our health system, and what has happened with COVID-19 was really the straw that broke the camel’s back. The system was broken, and for it to fall apart that quickly with this crisis indicates that something we were doing is really wrong. We need to get into the foundation and fix the foundation.
As far as the things that I’ve learned, one I’ve learned a lot about nutrition, so much in fact that I decided to get my certificate of completion from eCornell University. March 2nd is when I graduated from that course. It was pretty phenomenal to just learn where the studies come from. For example, when you read a study, maybe it says this study says that milk is good for bones, it makes strong bones. Well, 9 times out of 10 that study is going to be funded by the milk industry and the dairy industry. When you’re reading a study, you want to look at who funded the study. That’s one thing that I’ve learned in the time that I’ve been plant-based.
Another thing that I’ve learned is I really love cooking. I never like to cook. That comes from a previous marriage. When I was 19 I got married to my high school sweetheart, and he was very demanding with the way that I cook. I was working all day, I would come home, and he wanted me to cook. I ended up hating cooking because nothing I did was good enough. I mean, it turned out to be a pretty bad marriage. We were married for three years, got divorced, and it was a rather abusive relationship.
I actually formed a belief that I was a bad cook. I formed a belief that I hated cooking until I went plant-based and I started experimenting because nobody was going to cook for me unless I cooked when it came to plant-based. It was like the thing with your friend where she started and then pretty soon, her kids got into it and her parents got into it. What I’m finding is I have friends and family now that are going plant-based as a result of me cooking for them. They’re like, “Wow, this is really good.” It’s like really, are you just telling me that, or is it really good? I’m like, “I think it’s good.”
My mother in law, I love cooking for her because she’s in her mid-80s, she’s at high risk with the whole situation going on, and she has cystic fibrosis of the lungs. We have to be careful with her health and make sure that she eats really healthy. She’ll come over and she goes, “What kind of soup did you make today?” It’s like oh my gosh, I have somebody who loves my cooking. Of course, applaud me and I’ll cook more. I’ve learned that I really enjoy cooking, I’ve learned a lot about nutrition, I’ve learned to balance my meals, and I’ve learned that there were certain foods that I thought that I couldn’t do without that I absolutely don’t like anymore.
I was so addicted to doughnuts, candy, and cookies. When I was eating sugar, I would go and buy a box of doughnuts—the six in a box doughnut. If anybody ate one of my doughnuts I got so upset that I would go and get another box and I would eat that box too. In one sitting, I would eat a box of doughnuts. Now, the thought of eating doughnuts just does not appeal to me at all.
What I learned is my taste buds changed, and that’s what a lot of people fear is that they’re going to miss certain foods. Well, you find out that your body adjusts to that and your body craves the really healthy foods.
[00:23:07] Ashley James: Yes, it’s so true. It’s so true. I used to be a chocoholic, I used to totally be addicted to chocolate, and I used to totally be addicted to sugar. A few years ago, my husband and I did the 30-day sugar detox challenge, you know what I mean? Just cut out all sugar to the point where I got so strict. I’m a label reader, I read labels. I call myself a food detective. I think we should all be food detectives. If you’re going to buy something with ingredients on the package, read the ingredients, know what you’re eating. I love hot sauce, and that’s something that I didn’t ever love until I met my husband. He started ramping up the heat in our meals. Now I just absolutely love hot sauce.
I was looking for hot sauce, and I was hard-pressed to find a hot sauce that didn’t contain sugar. I thought that’s interesting how much sugar is hidden in all of our foods. We’d been gluten-free since 2011, but I would get a gluten-free bread—sugars in it, what? I’d eat a gluten-free waffle—sugars in it, what? Now, I don’t eat cereal, but I’ve been looking because we have a five-year-old. I’m looking is there a healthy cereal out there that he can eat. There’s not one cereal that I can find that doesn’t have sugar in it, that’s just all-natural ingredients. It’s very hard to find.
I did find something that was like made of lentils, just these little O’s that are made of lentils. Almost no grocery store carries them. I thought that Rice Krispies didn’t have sugar in them. When I was growing up, they didn’t, now they have sugar in them. For me, there’s sugar in everything. I couldn’t believe it. We did 30 days with no sugar, and I became so aware. When I say no sugar I mean no processed sugar, no cane sugar, no beet sugar, no maple syrup, no agave, just no processed sugar. I could still eat a banana, something natural I would have.
For 30 days no sugar, my taste buds changed, and now, I have this 100% dark chocolate from Trader Joe’s sitting in the cupboard. It’s been sitting there for weeks. If I feel like I want some chocolate, I’ll take a little square, and I’ll eat it with half a date or a whole date. I don’t even need a whole date because it sweetens it, and then I’m fine. I’m like, oh, I’m fine. I look at it and it’s been sitting there. It’s slowly getting whittled away—one tiny square a week or something. I’m thinking to myself, first of all, I wouldn’t have bought the 100% dark chocolate because it wasn’t sweet. But in the past, I would have eaten three bars because I was a chocoholic.
Now, when I open the cupboard and I see it there—this half-eaten bar still in its wrapping—I’m like, I don’t even want it. I don’t want it. I’m looking at it, it doesn’t thrill me, whereas before, it was like chocolate controlled me. Now it just has no thrill, but the food I’m cooking is amazing. I have friends that when we go over to their house, obviously not right now with all being quarantined, but when we go over their house I always bring food because they’re like we don’t know what to make you guys. I’m like great. Don’t worry about it. I’ll make you food. They had the question. They’re like, “Where do you get your protein from?” I said, “Plants,” and they’re just like, “What?”
Like everyone, they think that there’s no protein in plants. I said, “Well, plants. Any plant. Just eat a plant you’re getting protein. It’s a misconception that protein isn’t in plants. I make the most delicious food—soups, stew. Yes, I did a salad last time I went there, but I sprouted lentils, which is the easiest thing to do. You look like a wizard in the kitchen. I sprouted lentils. I made sprouted lentil soup, it’s so easy. You can actually get kids to do it, it’s so easy to make kitchen sprouts in your kitchen. They’re really hard to mess up. Just the food is so delicious. There’s so much more flavor in this food. Of course. It’s also very healing.
Tell me a bit about the nutrition course. You took a plant-based nutrition course from eCornell University. Tell us about your experience going through that certification.
[00:27:46] Kathleen Gage: What I realized was that I actually knew a lot more than I thought I knew because much of it was stuff I had already researched because I’m a researcher. I love reading books, I love watching videos, and I immerse myself in a topic. For example, I’ve been sober for 36 years. When I was out drinking, I drank until I blacked out. I mean, that’s just the kind of drinker I was. When it was time to stop, and it wasn’t that I one day said I think I’ll stop. It was like my life fell apart. I was out on the streets, I was broke, and I was broken the whole nine yards. I had to build my life from that point that was 36 years ago.
I’m very black-and-white in a lot of ways. Once I decided to really immerse myself in this, I studied everything I could get my hands on. You name a book I probably read it. We’re talking everything from the China study, Eat to Live, Sugar Salt Fat, that book is really great for anybody who wants to find out about the hidden sugar and why we’re so addicted to it. When I took the course, I was actually pleasantly surprised at how much I did know. The one thing that I really discovered were the reports and really looking at studies that are done, that part was fascinating to me.
One of the tasks that we had, we had to write articles, which I’m a writer so that was really easy for me. As I watched people struggling with that, I was like well this is so interesting. It’s something that now is a part of my life. We learned about nutrition, we learned about studies, we learned about different resources available, and this could be a springboard to other things we’re doing. For me, as I mentioned, I’m very black and white so when I started, I wrote an e-book. Within three months of going plant-based, I wrote the Beginner’s Guide to Plant Based Eating.
I didn’t know there was another book by that name, but it was my journey of how I made the decision, what happened in the first three months, and then here are some healthy foods that you can eat. That book is available on my website. Then I started the Facebook group, then I started the blog, and then I started the podcast. One of my goals, when the whole situation is minimized and we can get out there and do speaking engagements again, I want to speak at conferences, not necessarily plant-based conferences but conferences where it’s about health and wellness, it’s about mindset, it’s about taking control of your life.
When you were talking about the whole thing with sugar, a lot of people confuse the topic of sugar just like carbohydrates. Real natural sugar is good for us like the fruits that we have. Before we started this call, I actually made myself a drink. It’s a blended drink of fresh pineapple, fresh banana, and fresh orange. I put some water in there, I blend it up, and it’s a beautiful drink. It gives me so much energy, and I can’t believe that I just said it’s a beautiful drink. I look at food now and it’s so beautiful. I just get excited about food.
I would recommend that people look at the books available that can change your life. One is Eat To Live by Dr. Joel Fuhrman. Fast Food Genocide, oh my gosh, that book is unbelievable. Sugar Salt Fat—you look at the controls that manufacturers have over people’s lives, it’s scary when you pull back the cover and you start digging deep. It’s no wonder that we have become such a sick society—physically sick, emotionally sick, and spiritually sick. It’s because we have these chemicals that are going into our body and we’re not even aware of it.
When I started doing my research and I realized, like you said, reading the labels. How much sugar is in processed food? It’s scary. That’s how our kids are being raised. It’s so wonderful to hear that you’re raising your—it’s a son or a daughter?
[00:31:46] Ashley James: Son.
[00:31:47] Kathleen Gage: A son.
[00:31:48] Ashley James: I know it’s confusing because he has long hair, so does my husband. We’re just a bunch of hippies. We’re hairy hippies.
[00:31:53] Kathleen Gage: Hippies are good, hippies are good. I was thinking, this whole process that we’re all going through right now, what a great opportunity too. I was talking with Karen earlier. Karen’s my wife and we’ve been together 30 years. She does weight training, and she found some old equipment that she’s actually cleaning up and refurbishing. She goes, “We’ve become such a throwaway society.” She goes, “People just get things and they throw it away,” and it’s so true. We have become such a disposable throwaway society.
What’s happening here is people are either resisting it 100% and they’re not looking at the blessing of what’s going on right now. Then other people are looking at it and saying what’s the lesson I can learn here, and what can I do differently in my life? For example, I became aware of how mindless I was about hopping in the car and running to the store, hopping in the car, riding to the post office instead of planning my trips out more consciously. This whole situation with COVID-19 is giving us the opportunity to step back, and we’ve been asked to stay in our homes. It’s the internal home that we get to go into. We get to dig deep and really look at what’s truly important in life.
It’s interesting to hear how some people are really having struggles in their relationship because they’re spending so much time with their spouse. Karen and I have been talking about what a blessing it is that we get to do one more thing we get to go through together. That’s a difficult thing on some levels, but on other levels, it’s such a blessing. What I’ve noticed is that there are people that are becoming very conscious about the choices that they’re making and the actions that they take in. If anything, I hope that’s the lesson people take away from this experience.
[00:33:45] Ashley James: You mentioned the word distractions. You’re talking about people who are—you painted this picture for me. I don’t know if you said the word distractions exactly, but you painted a picture of the people who are either embracing this and learning from it, or the people who are stressed out, upset, and maybe distracting themselves. One of my favorite comedians is Zach Anner, I don’t know if you’ve heard of him. He has cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy lives in—
[00:34:17] Kathleen Gage: Yes, yes, yes.
[00:34:18] Ashley James: He is hilarious. He makes fun of himself, he makes fun of everything. He’s very intelligent—very, very intelligent humor. I laugh so hard I can barely contain myself, so I love Zach Anne. Not only is he a comedian, he wants to bring awareness to special needs and those with disabilities and also make people feel more comfortable so that we can have more connection and less distancing. One of his videos he recently made for Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month, which I think was February. It’s a very recent video that he just made this year.
He shares the lessons he’s learned in the last 30 or 40 years of his life having cerebral palsy. In this particular video, it’s not a slapstick comedy like most of his videos. It’s actually very heartfelt, but one thing he said really hit me. He said, “Passions over distractions.” Let’s say video games, for example, or a distraction could be alcohol. What are you using to distract yourself versus your passions? If someone’s passionate about their gaming community, playing a video game with their friends, it’s not hurting their life to do it, and that’s are enriching them, that’s fine. But is it a distraction? Are you using it? Are you using something? It could be food, it could be alcohol, and it could be TV. Are you using something to distract yourself, or are you following your passions?
He says, “Distractions will destroy your life, but following your passions will enrich your life.” I think right now, there are people who are following their passions in this time of restriction, and I think there are people who are diving into distractions. They’re going to come out of this not as enriched, obviously, as the people who are following their passions.
[00:36:33] Kathleen Gage: That is so spot-on. My sister is a fine artist, and she’s also a very social person. She spends a lot of time with friends, out at galleries, and her artwork is all over the Bay Area. She’s done very well as an artist. I asked her recently, I said, “How are you doing with all this?” She goes, “I’m loving it. This is giving me an opportunity to really dig deep into my art and express myself in a whole new way. I go to my studio and I work for hours on end. I get lost in the process of creating art. I don’t miss it at all. Now, when we’re able to go out again, I definitely will do it, but right now, I’m seeing this as a very spiritual process that I’m going through.”
I absolutely love that. You’re right about the distractions or the passions. For me, I’ve been doing a lot more writing. As you were sharing that, I see in business people do that a lot where they get involved in the distraction of running their business, and they get involved in the minutia of running the business, and the little detail things that they could actually outsource. For a few bucks, they could get it done, but rather than paying $20, $30 to have somebody who can get it done right away, they spend hours and hours and hours trying to figure it out themselves, it’s like okay, and then they get frustrated. If you’re getting that frustrated, why don’t you invest in bringing somebody on who can help you to free up your time.
With passions, I love that because as I’ve been writing—some of the articles I’ve written are maybe 1,500 to 2,000 words. I literally just do a download, I’m not really thinking about what I’m putting on the computer screen. I’m just sitting there typing, I’m channeling some thoughts, then I go through and I clean it up, and I do the research on it. But initially, I’ll get an idea based on something somebody said like with the factory farms closing down and people were getting frustrated, where’s our food going to come? The chain’s going to stop and the supply is going to end. No, this is wonderful.
I’ve actually been writing a lot of the big show hosts like—I’m trying to think of the woman that I wrote today and it was on Good Morning America. They had somebody that was doing a plant-based recipe. I sent her my blog post. I’m reaching out to people, and I’m just sending my information. I have no idea where it’s going to land. It may land somewhere, it may not, but it’s something that I’m so committed to that I want to get the word out about the fact that just because the factory farms are closing down, it doesn’t mean that’s a bad thing. It means it could be a good thing, and let’s look at the other options for food. Now, granted a lot of people are losing jobs, but if they could make the transition and have more sustainable food, these people could work in a different environment and a healthier environment.
[00:39:37] Ashley James: As you were going through the Cornell certification, what things did you learn that you were really surprised to learn?
[00:39:51] Kathleen Gage: Again, I think it was more about where the studies are funded. That was the most shocking part to me.
[00:39:58] Ashley James: That was the biggest one?
[00:39:59] Kathleen Gage: Yeah, because there was a module where you had to dig deep and you had to bring proof to the table. You couldn’t just say I read a report and it was from such-and-such. You actually had to spend quite a bit of time documenting exactly where the information came from, and basically, you were a researcher and you were a detective to figure out who really funded that study that says that milk is good for our body, or who funded the study that said you need animal protein, or who funded the study saying bacon’s not bad for you. It was the pork industry, what a concept.
For me, that was the biggest aha that I had is pulling back the covers and really looking at who’s behind it. For example, somebody sent me a video recently of a congressman who was talking about the food supply drying up because the factory farms are closing. I mean he made a good argument, it was a really good argument. I simply went on Google, did a little research, and I found out he’s funded by the pork industry, isn’t that interesting? He’s a voice for the pork industry, and it’s the pork industry who has funded him.
[00:41:12] Ashley James: Wow.
[00:41:13] Kathleen Gage: Yeah, yeah. It didn’t take long to figure that out because I learned it through the eCornell University course. Had I not learned that I probably would have taken what he was saying at face value, so of course, I did a blog post around don’t take everything at face value.
[00:41:31] Ashley James: One of my favorite books on all nutrition, probably my favorite nutrition book of all time is Proteinaholic by Dr. Garth Davis. I mean I love all the books you’ve mentioned, they’re all really great. Proteinaholic was like the cherry on top of everything. It was everything for me. He sums it up so well, and I think it’s chapter 9, it’s up there in the later chapters of the book where he goes through studies. He goes through who funded the studies, and he completely tears it apart. He talks about all the studies that are grouped together that talk about how much we need dairy for our bones and all the studies that the dairy industry paid for.
They do these studies where they do 100 different ones, for example. They do these small groups of people. The ones when the people don’t have good outcomes they throw it out, and they only keep the ones that have good outcomes. They’re cherry-picking the studies, and they keep repeating it until they can smudge the numbers to say that it is helpful right. But then, he goes through the science of showing, and I know that Dr. Neal Barnard paints this very well in his book about cheese. That when we consume dairy, we are depleting the mineral supply from our bones. Communities, countries that consume more dairy have more osteoporosis. Cultures that consume no dairy or very little dairy have very low rates of osteoporosis. We can look at those big numbers and see that there is a correlation there, but that dairy itself is not a great delivery system for minerals.
One of my favorite Naturopaths who’s mentored me, Dr. Joel Wallach, he says, “Cows can’t make minerals. Let’s get this straight. You think you’re getting your minerals from a cow, cows don’t make minerals. Cows are fed supplements. They’re fed a feed with calcium in it.” He says, “Skip the middleman, take the supplements.” We’re all imagining cows are sitting out in a pasture grazing on grass, but let’s be honest, if you’re drinking milk, it’s coming from cows that have never seen grass in their life. They’re in a building their entire life since birth in a very small compound. They’re being fed a feed with supplements, antibiotics, and other stuff that’s not very great. They’re then making milk with some of those nutrients in it.
You could just skip the middleman and take a supplement, or you could eat—if a cow was allowed to go out and graze, they’d get the minerals from the plants. We’d be skipping all the hormones, and all the immune compromising compounds of milk, but we’ve been marketed to since birth that milk is really good for us. We have to again see the marketing and realize that the industries that have to invest in marketing and lobbyists are not out for our health. There are no lobbyists for kale. There are no lobbyists to eat an apple, eat a banana, and eat some spinach. There’s no marketing in that, so you have to go, well if there’s an industry that will pay for studies, that will pay for lobbyists, and pay for marketing, why do they have to convince us to keep eating their food?
The egg industry is legally not allowed to say eggs are healthy, legally. I thought that was very interesting. They have flashy commercials like with Kevin Bacon. Have you seen those commercials where Kevin Bacon is lying on the counter in the kitchen complimenting the wife for having made eggs with Kevin Bacon? Make eggs with Kevin Bacon?
[00:46:01] Kathleen Gage: I have not seen that one.
[00:46:03] Ashley James: They make these fun commercials, but they’re not actually out for our best interests in terms of our health.
[00:46:17] Kathleen Gage: I’ve thought of the very famous people who are part of the whole marketing process. Should they decide to go plant-based, what would that look like? Because they would be giving up some funding and a level of income that gives them a pretty good lifestyle, but also, they’re contributing to the ill health of a lot of people. Because the reality is, the majority of people in the world are lactose intolerant. The very thing that they’re saying, does a body good really doesn’t do a body good? African Americans are much more susceptible to that. The antibiotic issue, they have done studies where they’ve drawn blood from people that eat meat but they haven’t taken any antibiotics for quite a while and they find antibiotics in their body.
What people don’t realize unless they do the research unless they get the real information is when they eat meat, they’re getting not only a lot of drugs, they’re getting the antibiotics, they’re getting the toxins, they’re getting the cholesterol, they’re getting all the bad things, and very little good. There’s not much good in the meat that’s processed in factory farms. I had a discussion with a friend of mine not too long ago who’s very integrated into the animal industry. She was saying, “Oh, Kathleen, you’re just making a big deal out of it. I grew up on a farm and we raised our animals with a lot of compassion. They only have one bad day.” I’m thinking that is the worst argument. One bad day, slit their throat and it’s a bad day. No, the life on a factory farm is a lifetime of pain, of suffering.
If you follow the whole premise of energy, and that we take in a lot of energy from everything that we do—there’s a thing called earthing where you take your socks and shoes off and you put your feet on the earth and it balances your electoral energy. But when you put animal products into your body that have been raised in factory farms, energetically, you’re taking in pain, suffering, anger, and fear. It’s no wonder that people are so neurotic because, energetically, they’ve taken that into their body and it’s a constant. It’s not like it’s once or twice.
When you really dig even deeper beyond the surface level of health but you go into the emotional and spiritual health—what I always invite people to do is before you eat that piece of meat, sit and meditate on where that meat came from. Take it back the whole process to when the cow was impregnated, then they had the baby, then the baby was taken away, then the cow lived a life of misery caged up, then they had their throat slit, then they were cut up, then they went through the whole process, and it was put on your plate. If you can still eat it, then God bless you.
[00:49:21] Ashley James: We’re taught that it’s healthy. Think about it, our grandmother, our mom cooked us this meat, gave it to us, and told us to eat our meat. It’s even in a rock song, don’t get your pudding unless you eat your meat. It’s something that we—from a very young age—have been taught is good for us. Some people say I feel good when I eat this way. I’ve been on over 30 diets in my life, probably over 40 diets at this point. I’d read a book, this doctor makes a lot of sense, okay I’m going to do this diet. I remember at times when I felt like meat made me feel good. Of course, I was incredibly unhealthy, and I was trying to find my health. It was simply because I wasn’t eating crap food.
For a short period of time, I felt good on Atkins—not long. After three months on Atkins, I felt sicker than I’d ever had in my life, and I actually tried it three different times. I always felt there was something wrong with me that I couldn’t keep eating Atkins because Atkins is supposed to be really healthy, so there’s something wrong that I can’t eat bacon all day, right? I kept failing on this diet. Well, Dr. Garth Davis, in his book Proteinaholic, paints this picture so well. He explains that you did not fail this diet, this diet failed you. This diet was not healthy. With all the science, he breaks down why that diet is not healthy, why we’re not supposed to eat a carnivorous diet. The human body is not designed to do that long term. We can do it short term as part of survival, it doesn’t mean it creates optimal health.
Dr. Joel Fuhrman says, “Listen, just because it makes you feel good doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Cocaine is going to make you feel good, it doesn’t mean it’s healthy.” This idea of in the short term, some way of eating, for example, I feel good when I eat salmon, pork, or I feel good when I eat eggs in the morning. That I feel good doesn’t necessarily equate to it’s a better health choice for your body.
[00:51:46] Kathleen Gage: Absolutely.
[00:51:47] Ashley James: I noticed everyone who gets on a whole food plant-based diet, or at least consumes more vegetables, more plants—because some people can transition. I transitioned slowly, my husband overnight. He woke up one morning, this was almost 2 ½ years ago, he woke up and said, “I’m never eating meat again.” Me, it took me after that because I had decided to stop cooking meat. I slowly transitioned, and I was consuming all this information, but I slowly transitioned to where I wasn’t eating meat 100%. Some people will cut back their meat consumption, and cut back their animal products—their eggs and their dairy—and they’ll start to feel the shift, and there is a shift.
I’ve gotten so much information from people saying that a whole food plant-based diet has been life-changing for them, has been amazing. They feel they have so much endurance. You run marathons now. Tell us about your endurance. Tell us about the amazing physical fitness you’ve gotten over the last 20 months of eating a whole food plant-based diet.
[00:52:56] Kathleen Gage: I’d be happy to, but I will tell you that my claim to fame is I always come in last on a marathon, so there it is. I’m not a fast runner. When I first started running, I had people say are you going to win? Oh, hell. If I can cross the finish line without dying I’m good to go. I’m not a fast runner, but I’m a persistent runner. The first time I tried I did power walking. I had heard a commercial from the Lymphoma Leukemia Society. I was overweight at the time and they were saying, “Do you need to lose weight? Do you like to do good things for the community? Then join us for this run for life,” or whatever they call it. I thought okay I’m going to.
I started doing power walking and was getting in pretty good shape. Of course, doing the crash diet because that’s all I knew at the time, still eating meat. I was probably doing the bone broth diet, or I was doing the Atkins, or whatever I was doing. What’s so interesting is I was going to do the Portland Marathon and this was when I was 55. I was on mile 8 of a training day and something told me that I should stop, but I went against that. My gut was saying stop, stop, stop. Next thing I know I hit a pothole and I cracked my ankle and literally heard it crack. It was awful. Turns out, yes, I did break it.
I was so frustrated because I had put so much effort into losing the weight, I had put effort into the training. As it turned out, I believe that there’s always a higher purpose for what’s going on. Right after I broke my ankle, my dad was diagnosed with brain and lung cancer, and within four weeks he passed away. I think that it was life slowing me down to literally stop in my tracks to be there as fully as I could be there. I stopped for quite a while, and it was when I was 60 that I picked up the sport again. I was doing power walking, and then I got involved with a group of women that would run on Saturdays. We called ourselves the slow fat girls. We were the slow fat girls because I had gained weight again. I was like this is pretty cool.
I started getting faster and faster and never got to where I was going to win a marathon, but I enjoyed the sport because I was finding it was very meditative, I was connecting with these women, and we’d get together once a week, and then when it was twice a week we were training for marathons. The first marathon I did was at 61. Again, I finished last so I’m proud of that.
[00:55:31] Ashley James: The fact that you finished is amazing—finishing a marathon. I don’t know if even 10% of our listeners have finished a marathon. How many miles is a marathon, 16, 18?
[00:55:43] Kathleen Gage: 26.2.
[00:55:46] Ashley James: 26 miles.
[00:55:48] Kathleen Gage: 26.2. It’s so funny because I actually hired a trainer because I wanted to do it the right way. I think I coaxed her into coaching me, and I said, “Tell me what you charge, I’ll pay you.” She goes, “I don’t really coach people.” I said, “But you do marathons. Please, coach me, coach me.” So she gave me a price, I gave her a check, and she started coaching me. She really wasn’t into it. On the day of the marathon at mile 19, I was dying. I was in such pain, and Karen was on her bike next to me going, “Come on, you got to do it, you got to do it.” My coach came up, and she said, “You know, 19 miles is respectable. You could quit,” and Karen goes, “The hell she will. If you quit now you will never forgive yourself. Get off your ass, get up. I don’t care if you crawl across the finish line.”
That’s what I needed. I love that woman dearly thank you so very much, and of course, I’m cursing her out and everything, but I crossed the finish line. She said, “You had to finish. You worked so hard for this, you had to do it,” and I did. The next year, all I wanted to do was improve my time, and I improved my time by an hour and a half. Now, what I do is I do half marathons. I did do a sprint triathlon for my 64th birthday. For my 66th birthday, I have no idea what I’m going to do because we’re under quarantine right now, we have to stay home. I don’t know that I can go do anything, but I go running on a daily basis.
I usually get in anywhere from 2 to 5 miles. Today was a little day like I mentioned, it was 2 ½ miles. I thought isn’t that pretty amazing? What I find is, since going plant-based, I do go longer distances, I’m not as exhausted, and the recovery time is amazing. That’s where I really noticed an improvement is the inflammation is not there like it used to be. The first marathon I ran, I literally for days I was down. I couldn’t move hardly, I was in such pain. Now, if I go on a 10-15 mile run, the next day it’s like okay, let’s go do something else and it’s no big deal.
[00:58:01] Ashley James: There’s a big difference between being a vegetarian or being a vegan and being a whole food plant-based. Some people have reported to me, well yeah, I did that thing. I went vegetarian and I didn’t feel healthy, or I still had my inflammation, I still had my brain fog. When I was 16 I decided to go vegetarian for the summer. I was really into studying Reiki, and the person who was going to teach me Reiki said I had to stop eating animals as part of the energetics because you’re better at doing Reiki when you don’t eat animals. I was just like, “Okay, I’ll do whatever you say. I want to learn this.”
Well, what did I eat? I went across the street. I worked at a spa as the receptionist and managed the front end of the spa. It was an all-natural spa, it was cool. They had no chemicals. I mean, this is back in the 90s. They had essential oils, they had Aveda products before Aveda was bought out by the big company that bought it out—I think L’Oréal. But it was all-natural skincare and hair care products. This is in Muskoka in Canada. I went ahead and had this great summer job. I just loved it, but what did I do?
Every day, I walked across the street and I bought a cheese pizza because it was vegetarian, right? Of course, I knew I was allergic to dairy, I bought a cheese pizza or I bought a vegetarian sub, and then I’d come home and make pasta. There are almost no vegetables in my life. There was 100% processed flour, wheat, carbs, and dairy—even though I knew I was allergic to dairy. I was a teenager so I’m not going to make the best choices. I felt horrible. Within a matter of months, I gained 25 pounds even though I was physically active. I just felt exhausted and horrible.
Then I started eating meat, I stopped eating the processed crap, and I went back to eating meat, vegetables, and things like that. I thought meat makes me feel good and vegetarian is bad. This idea got clicked into my head, and I’ve met so many other people that say this that I tried that and it didn’t feel good. It’s two totally different things. Whole food plant-based is cutting out processed crap food that you may have never in your life lived for one-week—solid seven days—without at least eating some processed food. Doing so, cutting it totally out, is life-changing. It makes such a big difference. As you said, the inflammation goes down, but people become afraid, what am I going to eat? What can I eat?
I know that you have pointed out a lot of resources. My friend and I created a video training on—it’s like a little membership. We filmed ourselves in the kitchen for months, we filmed ourselves cooking. It’s a cooking membership, teaching people how to do that. There are so many resources on YouTube. You can also just search for whole food plant-based on YouTube. But Kathleen, you have resources, you have a book that you’ve written, you have your Facebook group, which I love your Facebook group.
There are tons of resources, but you have now entered what you don’t know you don’t know, and you’re starting to take it in and go okay, now I’m realizing that I don’t know that there’s this whole world of delicious foods that are so healing to my body that I don’t even know how great I could feel one month from now.
[01:01:57] Kathleen Gage: You’re bringing up some really good points because there’s a huge difference between being vegan and being plant-based. It’s interesting because in one Facebook group that I belonged to, there was a big argument that some vegans were attacking plant-based eaters saying you eat meat, and I said “No, I actually don’t. I’m 100% whole food plant-based. That means the elimination of all meat.” Now, in theory, and ethically, I am a vegan. I mean I don’t eat any animal products. When I buy shoes, I make sure it’s not leather. I am looking at all the different aspects of what it means to be vegan, but as far as the eating, it is whole food plant-based, which means as close to nature as possible. A lot of beans, a lot of legumes, a lot of greens, and a lot of fruits.
One of the best books for anybody just starting out would be Joel Furman’s book Eat To Live because he really outlines it. Then there’s the whole discussion of do you eat oil, do you not eat oil? I choose the non-SOS, which is no added sugar, no added salt, no added oil—processed oil. I eat nuts, I eat avocados. I think that we have to give ourselves permission to make mistakes on it, whatever you consider a mistake because I have to say that sometimes, I do fall victim to my craving for salt. It’s so interesting, it’s like anything.
For me, if I ever took a drink again, I have no idea where it would take me, and I don’t want to find out because I’ve had people say don’t you think you could have one drink? It’s like I don’t know and I don’t care. I just know that when I did drink—I probably quit dozens of times. Every time that I went back to it, it was worse than the time before, so I’m not willing to mess with bait. It’s the same with the foods that I eat. This is what I need to do for me. I think that people need to choose what’s right for them. What it all boils down to is what’s the quality of life that you want? What’s the quality of life that you want to give your children? What’s the quality of life that you want to give your relationship?
It’s not really about what’s right or wrong, it’s really about what is the quality of life that you deserve to have so that you can have the vibrancy, the focus, the balancing of moods, and just the energy to live fully. Because I got to tell you, there’s something really exciting when I go out on a run, and I think to myself, I’m a senior citizen. When I got my Medicare, it was like yeah, that’s pretty cool. Because that’s not what I thought it would feel like. I remember when I was on the phone with Social Security doing all the stuff around Medicare, I was joking with the kid on the phone. I was telling him what I did that day for a run, what I eat, and all that. He goes, “I wish everybody was like you.” It’s like, “Oh well, I’m trying.”
I’m trying with my blog, with my Facebook group, with my books, and I’m working on another book that’s going to go up on Amazon. It’s going to probably be called Discover the Real Fountain of Youth. But it is about the quality of life that people want, and what are you willing to do to get that? I remember when I quit drinking, I had a sponsor who said to me, “You have to want to be sober more than you want that drink, it’s that simple.” Sometimes, we complicate the whole issue of health and vibrancy, and it doesn’t have to be that complicated. It’s very, very simple. What are we willing to put into our bodies to honor our bodies to give us the life that we deserve?
[01:05:42] Ashley James: So beautiful. You’re 66 now?
[01:05:49] Kathleen Gage: Well, next month. In May I’ll be 66.
[01:05:50] Ashley James: You’re 65, you’re turning 66, you can just get up in the morning, and you can run a few miles. It doesn’t hurt you to run a few miles. It makes you feel great.
[01:06:07] Kathleen Gage: I love it.
[01:06:08] Ashley James: That’s something that so many people in their 60s can’t do right now. That they don’t have the health even to just get up and run 3-5 miles. There are people who are younger than you who can’t run 3-5 miles a day and feel healthy. You started running before you went plant-based.
[01:06:34] Kathleen Gage: I did, I did.
[01:06:35] Ashley James: Tell me how soon did you notice a difference in your running after going whole food plant-based?
[01:06:43] Kathleen Gage: Within days. It was so incredible how quickly I noticed that the inflammation left. That was initially why I started a plant-based diet. I had inflammation in my right hand, and as a writer, that was limiting me. Then I noticed it in my recovery time, so almost immediately. What’s interesting with the whole issue of health, if you look at the people that are being most compromised by the COVID situation, the ones who are at highest risk are the ones who have diabetes, heart disease, they have high blood pressure, the obesity issue. There’s a lot of reasons why people are dealing with complications, and so much of it has to do with their nutrition.
For me, the change was so rapid. It was almost unbelievable. I was like could it really have happened that quickly? I just steadily noticed improvements. I sometimes look at myself now and I go wow. I’ll look at my bone structure and the toneness of my body, I didn’t expect that kind of a result. It seems like I’m getting healthier and healthier every single day.
[01:07:58] Ashley James: It would be cool to do bone scans every year and see it—
[01:08:03] Kathleen Gage: I’ve had it done, I’ve had it done. When you get to 65 they do it automatically. My doctor said, “Your bone scan is great.” I have a very, very good bone structure—and what is it?
[01:08:18] Ashley James: The density?
[01:08:19] Kathleen Gage: Density, yes, yes.
[01:08:21] Ashley James: I’ve heard that people on a whole food plant-based diet can reverse osteopenia and osteoporosis, especially because you’ve got the vitamins and the minerals—it’s so dense like the vitamin K. There’s a lot more that goes into building bones than just taking a calcium supplement. We need the vitamin K, we need the microbiome, and we need to do the physical exercise like running, walking, or any kind where there’s an impact on the resistance and impact going back to the bones—stimulating the bones. What you’re doing sounds like a formula for the fountain of youth, I love it.
[01:09:11] Kathleen Gage: I do resistance training too. Right now, I don’t have the availability of the gym. I was going to the gym probably four days a week, and I was running four or five days a week. Here’s the thing that I really noticed that blew me away, Ashley, is that when the gyms were open, I would go to the gym in the morning, and then I’d run in the afternoon because I had so much energy. The first time I did it if was like that was pretty cool. Then I did it again and I’m like this is bizarre. I have so much energy, that I had a great day in my office, and now I’m out doing a run after I worked out for an hour this morning, that’s bizarre.
[01:09:50] Ashley James: Have you always been able to fall asleep easily at night, wake up, and jump out of bed in the morning, or did that change when you went plant-based?
[01:10:01] Kathleen Gage: It’s interesting because I have bizarre sleep patterns. I fall asleep instantly, that’s something that I do—my head hits the pillow, I’m out. But I tend to get up early like I got up at 4:00 AM this morning, and that’s just the way my body is. I like to get up early because I have that quiet time in the morning where I meditate, I do yoga, I watch some inspirational video—usually, it’s from Eckhart Tolle or could be Wayne Dyer, or Gregg Braden, but I’d like to fill my mind and my body with healthy things. When I first went plant-based, I was sleeping a lot deeper, but with a lot of what’s going on right now, energetically, I just feel like I’ve been picking up a lot so I get up.
I don’t stress over it because a lot of people say aren’t you worried about that? No, actually I’m not. I do something productive with that time, and by productive, it’s not necessarily working, but it’s doing something internal that gets me centered and balanced.
[01:11:06] Ashley James: Stressing about it and worrying about it is not going to change it.
[01:11:09] Kathleen Gage: No, not at all.
[01:11:10] Ashley James: I’m not saying to become an ostrich and bury your head in the sand. Again, distraction is destructive, and following your passions is constructive, but at the same time, focusing on all the things to worry about is not going to change them. Focusing on what you have control over is going to change your life. I can never affect politics by worrying about them. I can never affect the planet by worrying about it, but I can follow my passion and focus on what I can control right now.
I can control what I eat, I can control the food that comes into my house and how I nourish my family, I can control how I move my body, I can go for a walk, I can go garden outside, I can do things in the house, I can read a book, so I can control that, I can do the podcasts, I can get on social media and connect with other people, I can help people from my home, and I can connect with them, but worrying about it is not going to help it.
I teach, actually, this whole course on how to eliminate anxiety since 2005 because I’m a master practitioner trainer of neuro-linguistic programming. I teach people how to eliminate anxiety because there’s a mechanism in the brain that turns anxiety on and you could turn it off. What I say to people when I’m teaching this, I say, “We often think we’re preparing, but we’re not preparing, we’re lamenting.” I live in a zone where there’s a high probability that one day we’ll have a major earthquake—just outside of Seattle.
For years, the media loves to fear monger. When’s the big earthquake? It’s going to be 9.0, we’re all going to die. The whole Pacific Northwest is going to fall into the ocean. They love saying these things and getting people all ramped up. If you have anxiety around it you’re not preparing, you’re lamenting. Some people go I have to prepare. Listen, preparing is going down the list of what should I have? I should have a family plan, okay, we’ve covered the family plan. I should have emergency supplies, know how to turn off the gas in the house, know the basics of first aid, just all the things you should know to best prepare for any emergency, and then you stop thinking about it, you turn it off and you move on with your life, but we don’t.
We lament, we stay up at night worrying about and imagining these worst-case scenarios, which is sending signals to the body that we’re under threat, and that’s turning on the stress response and creating anxiety. It’s actually causing physical harm to the body and weakening the immune system. When we focus on things we’re afraid of—because everyone’s sitting there going what if I’m going to get COVID, what if my grandma gets COVID, oh my gosh, what if, what if, what if, what if, what if?
[01:14:17] Kathleen Gage: What if, what if, what if, what if. Dr. Greger wrote a book years ago How To Not Die From A Pandemic. When he first wrote it they said you’re crazy. He has the healthy dozen, whatever he calls it. He said he had a dozen steps of how to prepare for a pandemic: rubber gloves, masks, sanitizer, and on and on. He said back then, nobody wanted to publish the book, read the book, and now, they’re coming to him and saying what do we do?
It’s interesting because I was certified in NLP in 1994. Suzy Smith and Tim Holburn were my instructors in Salt Lake City. Today, when I was running, I was tapping into, in my mind, I was like, okay, what’s my strategy for running long? What’s my strategy for enjoying running? I was just going through this process of how do I most enjoy this? When we can find the strategy for feeling good, we can model that, and we can replicate it.
One of the quickest ways to ruin our day is to switch between CNN and Fox News. It’s like an equal opportunity. Watch both of them. The other day, Karen said to me, “What are the numbers today?” I said, “I haven’t got a clue. I’ve been busy watching Eckhart Tolle. I don’t want to know,” because I already know we have the situation, and I also know that there’s a really good chance I’m not going to be impacted by the disease directly because I eat healthily. If I get it, I’m not going to run into the complications, most likely.
Dr. Joel Fuhrman talks about that. He says, “I’m not worried about the epidemic. The pandemic is not going to hurt me because I eat so healthy,” but we still have to respect the boundaries of other people like the people that we could impact. I do respect the physical distancing, I do respect wearing the masks now when I go out in public, and I do respect the fact that I wash my hands. There are certain things that I do that it’s out of respect for other people. It’s not because I’m afraid of getting the disease. You’re right, we could sit there and just really mess with our head by saying what if this happens, what if that happens. Instead of saying what if the bad happens, well what if the good happens? What if I can come up with a new idea in my business that turns my business around like never before? Those are the what-ifs that we should be focusing on.
[01:16:49] Ashley James: I love it, I love it. It’s like you have a boat with leaks in it. Notice the areas where the leaks are, and the leaks are places in your life where fear, fear-mongering, and anxiety are leaking into your life. Where things that are disempowering, it might be relationships, it might be the news outlets, it might be your own obsessive thoughts. We can switch our thoughts. It does take practice, but catching it and becoming aware is the first step. The first step to recovering from alcoholism is admitting that you have a problem, admitting your alcoholic, and becoming aware of it.
The first step to cleaning up your life going from avoidance and distraction, which is destructive into focusing on building a life you love full of your passions is finding the areas. Maybe we should journal this. Write it down, where the leaks in my life that are leaking, that are leaking fear into my life, that are triggering fear and anxiety into my life, and what can I do to follow my passions instead of the distractions? I feel so deeply for those who are suffering at this time. I know that people are suffering, I know that people have lost jobs, they’re in economic despair.
I have one friend, about a month ago, went into quarantine. He said, “I have $35 to my name and I don’t know how I’m going to eat.” There are people in despair, and I feel for them. Absolutely. I want everyone to get out of this better regardless of where you are, I want everyone to come out of this empowered and an even better person. Regardless of where we are, we have the ability to, as you said, we can go internally. We have the ability to build ourselves up whether it’s making the different food choices, whether it’s taking in different information, turning some information off, and taking in good information. Follow Kathleen’s Facebook group, I love it.
We’re of course going to have all the links to everything that Kathleen Gage does in the show notes of today’s podcast including her Facebook group. Following outlets like this podcast, you mentioned some great inspirational people that we can follow, follow that and fill yourself up with the richness of personal growth and development, and find the cracks in your life that bring in misery, that bring in anxiety, and fill those cracks so they don’t bring that in anymore.
I have been really enjoying my time in quarantine. I know that sounds weird because I also very dearly miss—I miss going out. I miss the freedom, and I’m really looking forward to this being over, but I have been thoroughly enjoying it. I’m an extrovert so keeping me at home is not fun, but I’ve been enjoying it because, in times of restriction, restriction increases creativity—if you let it. If you choose to have it, restriction increases creativity.
I was just talking about this in a different interview that Dr. Seuss wrote his number one best-selling book—I think it’s the number one best-selling children’s book Green Eggs and Ham—because he was given the restriction. It was a challenge that he was given by his publisher to take the 50 most common sight words and only write an entire book using the 50 most common sight words, and he did it. He wrote a creative book. You don’t feel like he was restricted at all, but he sat there in that restriction and it made him more creative.
We’re squeezed in a vice, and hopefully, we’ll come out as diamonds. We’re squeezed under the pressure of this current situation, and I hope that we can take these restrictions and find the ability to become even more creative, resourceful, and grow. This is a perfect, perfect opportunity to change our diets. We’re not eating out at restaurants. I guess you could go out and take out and bring it home, but you could also go to the grocery store, fill your cart with plants, come home, learn how to cook a whole food plant-based diet, and take the next few weeks to nourish your body.
Regardless of what your family members choose to do, you could choose to be an example. Like my friend Naomi, she chose to go whole food plant-based, and then her family started following suit, but she didn’t force it upon them. She just said, “I’m eating this way, I’m doing the cooking in the house. If you’re going to eat meat you can choose to go do your own cooking or go elsewhere, but this is how I’m eating,” and they really enjoyed it. If they didn’t like it, they could go to the fridge, and get something else because she was eating for her health.
Healthy boundaries, using food as our medicine and also choosing this time to do more personal growth and development. That we can build ourselves up and become even better people when we leave this quarantine, we could become even better people. I know listeners are going to be listening to this episode even years from now, and this will be like a historic event. At any point in your life, you can choose to turn it around and make the life you’ve already had, make your past mean something, make the suffering you’ve had mean something.
Like Kathleen, you took those years where you suffered as an alcoholic, you turned it around, you made that suffering mean something, you learned from it, and you’ve now helped thousands of people to build a life they love because you teach them how to become better entrepreneurs, how to become heart-centered businessmen and women, and you’ve been doing that for many years.
I definitely want to talk about your program for those who are interested in learning how to gain clients through marketing themselves through a podcast, because I think that’s very relevant. Obviously, we’re on a podcast so it’s very relevant.
[01:23:21] Kathleen Gage: Very relevant, yeah. I’d love to talk, if I may, about the quarantine and what a blessing that is because I think of people like Anne Frank that she and her family were confined to an attic and out of that came a masterpiece book. Just incredible because she had no choice. Man’s Search for Meaning, a prisoner in Auschwitz that out of that experience, he has impacted millions of people with a book. A lot of people are looking at this as such a restriction instead of saying how can I grow from this? I have to say, I agree with you that this whole quarantine and being restricted, if you call it a restriction, to me it’s a blessing.
I’m finding things to do that—even little projects around the house. I encourage people to look at one little project, even cleaning a drawer out, doing it, and then having a sense of completion. Because if you just sit and you worry about the fact that you can’t do anything, you’re doing that to yourself, it’s not being done to you. I also really want to acknowledge the healthcare workers, the people on the front line. They’re the heroes. They’re the real heroes.
A friend of mine posted the other day on Facebook and said, “The people I want to see on the red carpet are the nurses and doctors. I don’t want to see movie stars anymore. I want to see the real heroes,” and I agree with that because they’re there answering a call, so I want to acknowledge that. I want to acknowledge the people that right now, like your friend, who had $35 to his name. That’s a tough place to be in, and that’s where we get to ask for help, that’s where we get to extend the help and offer to help other people. There might be elderly people in your area that, for the people listening, maybe somebody who you don’t know needs a helping hand.
Go visit your neighbors, when we can, and just see if there’s anything that they need. There are plenty of groups on social media where you can reach out to people in your immediate area and say does anybody need groceries? I have an elderly couple I’ve been communicating with and so far, they haven’t asked for any help but I’ve extended the help. I have no idea who they are, never met them other than on social media. The woman initially was telling me so much stuff that was too personal.
She was telling me where they live, that her husband just had a hip replacement, and on and on and on. I said, “Okay, I need to stop you. I want to give you some advice that I think is going to help you. Don’t give so much information away to a stranger. I said, “I’m a nice person. I’m not going to bring you harm, but you never know. There are scammers out there so I called to protect you in this.” I said, “We’ll keep in touch with each other. If you ever need me to run to the store for you I’m here for you, I’ll be happy to do it.” She goes, “Well, how will I compensate you? I said, “What do you mean?” She goes, “Well, how will I pay you for your time?” I said, “You won’t. That’s my gift to you.”
I think there are plenty of things that we can do, one is if we need help to ask for help. If we have the ability to help somebody else, go buy groceries for somebody because they may need your help. This is a time for us to all step up to the plate, but as far as like in business, the big thing that I’m focusing on right now is either teaching people how to go out and find podcast opportunities where they can share their message.
I teach them how do you find the right podcast, how do you reach out to a host, how do you prepare your marketing materials so that when they say I need your bio, I need your introduction, I need your headshot, you have all of that ready, and how to get over the fear of the microphone. Because what always amazes me, Ashley, are the people who have a great message, but they get in their own way. They’re so afraid of making a mistake that they never make an attempt to reach out to a host. I have one client, love her dearly, she is amazing. She had a stroke six years ago, wrote a book about it, it’s called Stroke Forward, and she hired me to teach her how to get on podcast shows.
I remember the first show that she got on, she goes, “Well, what if I make mistakes?” I said, “You probably will and that’s okay because it just shows that you’re human.” She was so concerned about that first show. She did it, she calls me up, and she goes, “That was so much fun. I want to do it again.” In a matter of 2-3 months, she was on 25 shows. I gave her a strategy. I said, “Here’s what you do. Here’s how you reach out to the host. Here’s how you find the shows.” We went through the whole process of finding shows on iTunes, on Blog Talk Radio, and all sorts of opportunities.
She started reaching out, and I said, “Don’t worry if you don’t hear back from people. Just reach out again because they may not have gotten your first message.” Now, she can’t get enough of it. One day I was talking to her and she goes, “I’m so disappointed. I don’t have anything booked for this week.” I said, “Well, get off your rear end and start reaching out,” and she did and she got two shows booked. She did exactly what I asked her to do. Where I’ve had other people that I give them the strategy and they go months and months and months without doing anything but research and fine-tuning. I had one person that kept fine-tuning their one sheet. It’s like okay enough already, your one-sheet is good. Go out and take a risk of being told no.
What people find is that once they get over the fear of the microphone, all they have to do is be themselves. This conversation that we’ve had, it’s been a delightful conversation. I’m not trying to be perfect because I can’t be perfect, I can only be me, and I bring my experience to the call. That’s what I encourage people to do when they’re looking for shows. For those who want to start a show, let’s look at the time involved, what it takes to find the right platform, are you going to do video, are you going to do audio, do you have the time, are you disciplined enough, do you need to bring in a support person? What needs to happen in order for you to start a show, but if you’ve got an important message, you owe it to the market to put your message out there.
There are so many amazing people that I work with. I work with a lot of people that are into health and fitness, into spiritual topics. I work with one woman who wrote a book called The Food Codes and it’s all about intuitive eating. I so love working with people who are clear on the fact that what they have to say is going to make a difference in people’s lives.
[01:29:56] Ashley James: I love it. I know, as I said, I’ve been following you, I’ve been learning from you. I was actually in one of your webinars I think about a year ago or just under a year ago because you had just gone plant-based and you were teaching about how to get on people’s podcasts. When people ask me advice, should they start a podcast? There’s so much work that goes into a podcast. Once you have momentum it’s a little easier, but there’s so much work that goes into it. Then to build up an audience, there’s a ton of work. If you have a message, I think it’s even better to just get on other people’s podcasts because you’re leveraging their audience. You’re bringing value, you’re leveraging their audience, so it’s a little bit of a harder road if you launch your own podcast.
When I set out to do the Learn True Health podcast, I told myself that I wouldn’t quit until I had published 800—and I’m not saying I’m going to quit. I’m just saying that—
[01:31:09] Kathleen Gage: Don’t quit, no, no, no.
[01:31:10] Ashley James: I’m not quitting, I’m not quitting, but I said to myself, I’m not even going to entertain the thought of stopping until I have 800 episodes. Of course, if I had gotten into this and no one was listening, I had no listeners, I’d have to reevaluate. But for me, I know that podcasting is not a short-term thing, it’s like growing a garden. It’s long-term, you invest a ton of time into it, and you invest years into it to grow the podcast and to grow a community. It’s something that takes time, whereas you can get out there tomorrow.
If you have a message, if you’re a health coach and you have a message, maybe you have written a book, or maybe you have a blog, or you have a membership, or you want to take on more clients, you can get out tomorrow and be on someone’s show and you’re leveraging their audience. You’re creating value because you’re teaching, you’re bringing information to their audience, and you potentially will get followers and clients, and you keep doing it over and over again rinse and repeat. You’re going to eventually build up your own audience and then launch a podcast. Kathleen teaches that.
[01:32:23] Kathleen Gage: Yes.
[01:32:25] Ashley James: We’re going to have, actually, your whole course on how to do that. We made the link easy learntruehealth.com/powerup, that’s learntruehealth.com/powerup, and of course, all the links will be in the show notes of today’s podcast at learntruehealth.com. You have this wonderful program for that, and then you also have this separate thing, although you said they’re merging together. I love that your passion for helping people is always heart-centered. That you’re ethically focused on helping entrepreneurs who are ethical, who are heart-focused.
Sometimes when people hear the word entrepreneur or profits, they think of this cutthroat industry where we’re going to do whatever we can to get money out of people, and it’s very unethical and very shady. That’s the Hollywood version of it, but really, the type of people that you work with and that you coach are the wonderful beautiful people who genuinely want to help their followers and help their clients. That’s why I love that you’re moving towards merging how you teach also around the plant-based world. Tell us what that’s going to look like for the rest of 2020 and moving into years to come. What does this look like?
[01:33:57] Kathleen Gage: Yeah, that’s a hard one to answer especially in light of the fact that I am a professional speaker. A lot of how I’ve built my business is going out into a community and being on the platform. Well, that’s on hold right now so it’s looking at all the online resources available, but it’s going to be the coaching, the consulting. For people who maybe want to start a business, I can consult with them. The whole issue of the money side of it, the more money that you make the more good you can do in the world. We do a lot of animal rescue. Our business has supported many, many animals as a result. They show up on our property, as we were talking about before we started this conversation.
I’m working on a book right now. It’s a lot of what I’ve been doing in my business for 26 years that’s just being married over into the plant-based world. But one of the things I wanted to point out for people that are looking for opportunities, and I’m in 100% agreement with you that it’s a good idea to start by getting on other people shows. Start with shows that our smaller shows, that they’re really in need of an expert like you, and make sure that it’s a match. For example, on my plant-based show, if somebody is not 100% whole food plant-based, they don’t come on my show. That’s what the platform is about. I want people from all walks of life that they subscribe to a plant-based lifestyle. Maybe they’re a business owner, maybe they’re a mom that’s raising kids that are plant-based, whatever it may be.
I had somebody contact me the other day, and they tried to make it fit. I said, “Are you 100% plant-based?” They said, “No, but…” and I said, “Oh no. There are no buts. I don’t want you on my show. It’s not that I don’t think you’re a good person, I just don’t want you on my show.” Then I had a woman that contacted me and she said, “I listen to some of your episodes, I went to your website, this is what I do. I’m 100% plant-based, I’d love to talk about being on your show.” I said, “Okay,” everything I’ve read so far, I went to her website, I looked at it, wrote her back, I said, “You’re on.” That’s all it took was for her to be a good match.
When you look for opportunities, make sure that it is a match for what your message is, and there are plenty of opportunities. I think there’s like a million podcast shows now, but what you want to do is look and make sure that they have current episodes, and there are things that I teach my clients how to find out if somebody’s current. Because if somebody hasn’t had an episode for two or three years, reaching out to them probably is not going to be the thing that’s going to get them to say oh gosh, now I need to have my show again. But if they, once a week, once a month but it’s consistent then, reach out to them, but don’t expect them to say yes right away.
I had this happen recently where two people reached out to me, I never got their messages. I’m so grateful that they reached out again, both of them like on the same day. This was really bizarre. Individually, they said, “Oh, I reached out to you and I haven’t heard back. I’m just wondering, would I be a good fit for your show?” It’s like, “Thank goodness you reached out again.” Because a lot of times people will reach out, they don’t get an immediate yes, and they figure they don’t want to interview me. It may have nothing to do with that. Right now, people are in a lot of confusion, people’s businesses may be struggling and they’re trying to figure it out, so work with them, and bring value to the experience. It’s not about them serving you, it’s about you serving their market.
[01:37:33] Ashley James: I love it. Yeah. Definitely don’t bother contacting a podcast that doesn’t have a new episode that’s been at least two months. If I don’t publish three a week I feel guilty. I try to do three a week, but it’s between one and two a week most of the time. Sometimes I get three episodes a week. If someone hasn’t published one in months, they’re probably not a full-time podcaster and have moved on. Also, I almost never reply to the first email.
I get solicited to dozens and dozens of emails every day—solicited to be on the show. I almost never reply to the first one, it’s just I’m busy. I see that they’ve written to me every day, hey, I just want to make sure you got my email. I finally click through and then I’ll write them back and let them know whether I want them on the show or not. People are welcome to ask, it’s just that you’ve got to be persistent because there are some people that will write me five times and then I’ll go oh my gosh, thank you for writing the fifth time. I just saw your email pop-up. I missed the other ones because I get so many of them.
[01:38:50] Kathleen Gage: Yeah. We get busy. Another thing is if you’re an author, be willing to send a copy of your book to the host and just ask them, may I send you a copy of my book? How would you like it? Would you like the physical copy or the PDF? I had one client that wanted to charge the host for her book. I said, “If you do that, you will never get on a show. Why in the world would you charge somebody for your book?” It’s like no, no, no, no, no. You got to learn that this is all part of your visibility strategy, but really, it is about just bringing as much value, and it’s not going on in overtly selling stuff.
I’ve had some people that want to go on, and well, I’m going to promote my book the whole time. That’s a mistake. You want to create value, and if you create enough value, people will want to get your book. I think you asked me a question and I completely sidestepped the question. I don’t even remember what it was, but I’ll blame it on age.
[01:39:45] Ashley James: No, no. I tend to throw three different questions at someone because I get so excited. I’m like what about this and what about this? I let the guest pick and choose what they wanted to answer. It’s a casual conversation, and we go back and forth. It’s all good. I want to just take your brain and empty it out for all of us to just learn from you, just empty your whole brain out to us. I did want to know more about what you’re doing in the plant-based world and what it’s going to look like—merging your passion around plant-based eating. Now, you take on clients as a health coach because you have your certification through eCornell.
You’ve been a coach with many hats for many years like you said in the 90s, you became certified in NLP. You have coached people from an entrepreneurial standpoint, from personal growth and development standpoint, and now, from a health and wellness standpoint. It’s been separate from your business and now they’re coming together. What does it look like teaching people how to market themselves on podcasts or launch your own podcast, how to market yourself, and then also the plant-based world? You told us about your wonderful podcast, which is really cool so that’s a great resource, and then your Facebook group, but what does it look like moving forward to merge those two together?
[01:41:18] Kathleen Gage: It’s kind of interesting because what I’m noticing, I don’t call myself a health coach per se, I’m not going to sit there and create menus for somebody. That’s not my passion. My passion is helping them to live fully in whatever expression that happens to take form in. What I’m noticing is many of the clients that before I started focusing on plant-based eating, they were meat-eaters, and now they’re plant-based eaters. They said, “I’ve been following your advice,” and I’m like, “Oh, really?” We have an even deeper connection, but what’s just so exciting is that as I trained somebody how to find podcast opportunities, I use my plant-based podcast show as an example.
I’m able to integrate it in saying okay, I’ve got this plant-based podcast show that I started probably on that 1-2 months ago. I started my PowerUp show in 2014. I did about 125 episodes in about 8 months, burn myself out, I pod-faded for about 5 years, started it up again, pod-faded again, and then about probably 6 months ago then I got serious about it again because I love that platform for business topics per se.
With my plant-based show, I’m using that as an example of how to grow a podcast show, and that one’s growing very quickly. I’ve gotten some nice position on iTunes, I’m getting some amazing guests, I’m going to be interviewing Dr. Pamela Popper—who is very controversial in the plant-based movement and especially now with COVID-19, and I’m just getting some incredible people on there. I want to have you on, Ashley, for sure.
[01:43:03] Ashley James: I’d love that.
[01:43:05] Kathleen Gage: Absolutely. What I’m doing is I’m actually growing that show, and I’m growing that market. Just through organic means, I’m merging that over into the entrepreneurial world, and entrepreneurs are grabbing hold of it and saying maybe I should try this plant-based eating. So without forcing it, they’re becoming plant-based, but as far as being a coach for people going plant-based, that’s not my passion. My passion is entrepreneurs who have a big message that wants to take it out into the world but I want them to be aligned with their message. If they say that they love animals, let’s see how true that is.
[01:43:49] Ashley James: Awesome, very cool. When we follow our ethics, when we follow our hearts, and when we have our business be an alignment with our values, it allows us to become niche—niche down. You can attract the right clientele, that you’ll have a more meaningful and rich relationship with your clientele because you niche down and you’re serving them in a way that aligns with their values as well. If someone is Christian or Catholic and they’re really, really passionate about that, then incorporate that into your business and serve your community. If you’re in the LGTBQ community, serve that community. Find your community. For me, the whole food plant-based, I’m very passionate about it.
It’s okay to niche down, serve that community, and also educate people. We have to bring tolerance and love because there’s a lot of misunderstanding. There are people who have been raised to believe that we need to kill animals, eat them, and survive, and that that’s the best thing for humans. I’ve met some people who were vegetarian, they became sick, and they started eating meat, and then they became better, so then they associate meat with health. I don’t want to bring any shame or any guilt, there are some people who are just not ready and they get turned off by this message.
I’ve had people write me emails that say that they don’t want to listen to the shows that have plant-based messages, and I’ve equally been sent emails by listeners who say that they won’t listen to shows that talk about meat. I can’t win, I can’t please everyone, but what I can do is ask that we have an open mind. My biggest homework is to eat more plants. Maybe you’re not ready to try going 100% meatless and going 100% whole food plant-based—eat more plants. Eat more plants, eat more plants, eat more plants.
Crowd out your plate—I learned this from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. The founder of it, he talks about how as a health coach, we’re not telling people don’t eat this, don’t eat this, don’t eat this, don’t eat this, and all of a sudden well what can I eat? We tell them what to eat a lot of. Eat a variety of colors of vegetables, crowd out your plate. If you fill up on, and I learned this for Chef AJ, eat a pound of vegetables before you have the rest of the meal. That’s about two and a half cups of broccoli, which is not that much—maybe for people who never eat vegetables.
Eat a pound of vegetables at breakfast. The first thing she eats in the morning, she steams some vegetables, which is very quick. It’s very quick to steam vegetables, and she eats a pound of it. You could drizzle some delicious balsamic over it, fig balsamic, or maple balsamic. There are all kinds of delicious balsamic that taste like candy. You feel like you’re eating candy. You feel like you’re cheating, but you eat a pound of vegetables and then eat the rest of your meal. You can also do it in a form of a salad or raw if you wanted to, but eating a pound of vegetables and then eat your potato, or your brown rice, or your beans.
If you’re choosing to eat meat, eat the meat last. Fill up on your plants first, and you’ll notice that maybe you’re not going to eat a 12-ounce steak, maybe you’re only going to eat a 4-ounce steak. I’m just using that as an example that you’ll feel full. Then try some meals with no meat like meat meatless Mondays, or no meat till 6:00 PM is another one.
I have a woman who joined—when we launched the Learn True Health Home Kitchen, she said to me right off the bat, “I will never,” and I’ve known her. She’s been a Facebook friend. We’ve met through a different nutrition community, and she became a listener of the show since episode one. We talk very candidly to each other. She was, “I’ll never go meatless. I live in the heart of America where we’re meeting potatoes, that’s all we eat. I can’t ever see my family going meatless, but I’m going to join your membership because I want to learn how to eat more plants.” I said, “Great, that’s fantastic. You don’t have to go meatless.” But it’s like the gateway to going whole food plant-based—could be just eating more vegetables and then noticing you actually like them.
In the first module of my course, I talk about to try the meatless Monday. Try one meal without meat because before doing this, I had never in my life eaten a meal without meat. It was amazing. It took a huge mindset shift to choose to eat a meal without meat because, in my mind, I didn’t think you’ve had a meal until there was meat. Having a meal without meat was the most foreign thing to my body and the most foreign thing to my thinking. Just try one meal that’s plants only, and it might be the most foreign thing to you but just try it, or try meatless Mondays where your whole family tries it as a fun experiment, or try no meat until 6:00 PM so your breakfast and lunch is a bunch of plants.
What she did was she filled up her fridge with vegetables, she started watching all the videos that we teach how to cook these different foods, and she started doing it with her family. She decided to do the no meat until 6:00 PM. She’s like listen, “We’re not going meatless, but we’re just going to eat more plants.” I said, “Great.” Five days into it, she wrote a testimonial. It’s in our Facebook group, but she wrote it, and I read it in one of our episodes. She said, “I’m five days in and my chronic headaches are gone. I took Advil almost every day. My chronic headaches are gone.” This is a woman who takes supplements and has eaten healthy for years because she reversed a major, major health condition with food, eating less junk food, and taking supplements.
She goes, “My chronic headaches are gone. I have more energy. I have significantly reduced my coffee intake, and I still have more energy.” She has three young kids in diapers. She goes, “I am actually falling asleep at night,” because she’s been a night owl. She’s on the East Coast and at midnight she’d be messaging me so I noticed she never gets sleep. She goes, “I’m actually feeling sleepy at night. I have energy during the day. My kids are eating vegetables they’ve never eaten before and liked it.” This was five days in to just choosing to do this one experiment where she was no meat for breakfast and lunch and eating more plants.
[01:51:04] Kathleen Gage: You just reminded me of one of the other things that changed. I used to get really severe headaches, and it was on the side of my head. I was in the dentist’s chair about a year into eating plant-based, and I had to open my mouth because he was doing bridgework or whatever he was doing. For two hours my mouth was open and I got this headache and all of a sudden it hit me. I have not had a headache in over a year. It was something that I had grown accustomed to was having the headaches, and then when I switched to plant-based, the headaches disappeared, but I never connected the dots until I was sitting in the dentist’s chair. That’s another benefit.
I love what you say about just do what’s appropriate for you because again, people will decide based on the quality of life they want. I know that sometimes with me, people ask about being plant-based, and when I share what I do and what I don’t do, they’re like I could never do that. I said, “Well, I’m not asking you to. You’d ask me what I do, I’m just going to share, and you’ll do what you want to do. If you like your misery, go ahead and keep it, but there you go.” They say that in recovery. They say just try this for 30 days and if you want to go back to the way you were, we’ll give you your misery back, no problem at all.
[01:52:30] Ashley James: Oh my gosh, I love it. I love it.
[01:52:33] Kathleen Gage: For me, I really am passionate about this, and I’m so grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to share my insights and what it’s done for me because honestly, the quality of life that I get to experience today—I don’t care how long I live, I just care about the quality of life I have. Because when my mom passed away, for two years, she had a really, really tough time after my dad died. She was a very unhealthy woman. She had a lot of chronic illnesses. I saw them literally take her away a piece at a time, her intestines, and she would go in for a surgery, they took another foot, and then another foot. That was her life. I didn’t want to end my life that way. I want to have a quality that really gives me the passion to live fully each and every day, whatever that may mean to me. If it’s working in my garden, great. If it’s cooking a meal, if it’s spending time with family, whatever it may mean, I just want to give it 100%.
[01:53:34] Ashley James: This way of eating and also this lifestyle you’ve set up—the getting up early and filling your body with inspirational food—with spiritual, with mental, and with emotional food. Then going for a run and also filling your body with plants, unprocessed foods, and avoid of all these chemicals out there. 80,000 chemicals have entered our bodies in the last 50 years. New chemicals that were man-made—man-made chemicals through air, through water, and through our food supply. There are chemicals that are legally allowed to be sprayed on our food, and in our food supply, they don’t have to disclose it that are illegal in other countries. The entire European Union, there are whole batches of chemicals that are put in our food.
This is another one that really hit me, when you buy ice cream, which of course I don’t buy ice cream, but when you buy ice cream—I make my scream at home. I make homemade ice cream, I know all the ingredients that go into it, it’s absolutely delicious and nutritious, but the ice cream you buy in the store, when you read the ingredients, it doesn’t say anything about food-grade antifreeze because it’s industry standard. In the food industry, when you buy processed food, there are all kinds of chemicals that are in that food that they don’t need to disclose.
If you buy a box of crackers, there are chemicals in your food they do not need to disclose is an ingredient because it’s industry standard, it’s used as an emulsifier, or used as some kind of agent, or it’s one of the pesticides, it doesn’t need to be in the ingredients. Just because something looks okay, these Cheerios looks okay. Sure, they also are full of glyphosate, which is a roundup. It’s a key later that dumps heavy metals into your kidneys and into your brain.
I’ve had a Dr. Stephanie Seneff on the show twice. She’s an MIT top research scientist. Her background is not in medicine, her background is research and understanding the numbers. She’s gotten together with a team of MIT and other top Ph.D. research scientists who have brought together all the information around glyphosate. They could show the damage it does to the body. Of course, this is Monsanto and Bayer now fights this. They try to suppress the information, but these scientists, they’re not making money doing this. She came on my show, she’s not making a dime doing it. She’s a whistleblower. She’s trying to get the information out there.
Our food supply is tainted. We can’t trust when we buy packaged food that it’s clean. We need to buy organic as much as possible—organic locally grown. If it’s not certified organic, get a local farmer, get a relationship with them, and learn that they do organic farming but they haven’t paid the hundreds and thousands of dollars to become organically certified, or they’re transitioning over because they think it’s a five year period to transition over into becoming an organic farm.
We want to support those guys, those farmers as much as possible buying foods that are local, foods that are organic, or foods that are at least are void of the pesticides, and have your own garden if you can run, or get together with other people who have gardens. You grow broccoli, they grow potatoes, and you guys share. There are all kinds of things we can do, and we have to get creative and resourceful, but we can cut out these 80,000 chemicals that are in our environment. We can significantly reduce them, which is going to extend the quality of your life, and it’s also going to extend your life itself.
I tell this story, and I’ll be very brief. I was very sick. I had polycystic ovarian syndrome, type 2 diabetes, chronic adrenal fatigue, chronic infections for which I needed monthly antibiotics. I was told I was infertile and I’d never have kids. I was in my 20s, I was a prisoner of my own body—totally sick. The first health change I made was I went organic. I shopped the perimeter of the store so we ate less processed food, we didn’t go 100% free of processed food, but we cut out some processed food, but we ate 100% organic.
After going 100% organic, within one month, my chronic infection stopped. I stopped needing to take antibiotics, and I turned around and I went that was the impact on my immune system that all of the chemicals that are on all of our food. Just going organic and eating less processed food made my chronic infection stopped, made my immune system not so taxed, and that was the beginning of my journey of getting my health back, of reversing these all these diseases. Now I don’t have those diseases. Of course, we naturally conceived our child. We don’t have any of those diseases, but that’s the impact of just choosing less processed food and going organic.
[01:58:57] Kathleen Gage: Absolutely, and it’s incredible. It is a journey because I remember when I was about 20 or 21 years old, I had endometriosis, and that’s before they even had a name for it. That’s 40 some odd years ago. They just did test after test after test, and one doctor wanted to do experimental surgery and open me up like completely open me up. My ex-husband was like—I think that’s the only really good thing he did—he said, “Absolutely not. We’ll find another doctor.” When we found a doctor that had just started learning about laparoscopy I think it’s called where they went in through the navel and they put a microscope inside of me, he said, “You’re filled with cysts.”
My mother-in-law, she said, “Do you think it’s from the cheese that you’re eating?” Because he was Hispanic and she was from Mexico, she did a lot of cooking with cheese. I said, “No. How can it be cheese?” That was before the cheese was even processed the way it is today. I thought of this probably a month ago about her comment, do you think it could have been the cheese? It could have been the cheese. Back then it was like absolutely not. It’s a journey that we’re on, and a lot of times people say I don’t want to give up meat because I love the taste of meat.
I have to tell you, I love the taste of meat. We would have big meat meals, but when you look at the journey of where you started and where you go to when you start making these changes, it’s incredible, and it is a journey. It’s not something that just suddenly everything changes. For some of us, we are very black and white, but it’s a journey of discovery. As I said, I did the bone broth diet, I’ve done the Atkins diet, I’ve done the Mediterranean diet, and I’ve done the starvation diet. When liquid protein was a big deal, and this was in my 20s, I literally, literally went three months without eating. I did liquid protein for three months, ended up in the hospital almost dead. They said the potassium was hardly even registering in my body. It was just a really, really critical situation.
That’s how dramatic I was in the way that I would try to lose the weight instead of looking at a healthy lifestyle. That’s what I love about the choices that I make today, being able to bring awareness and shine a light on a healthier way of living. This whole thing with the factory farms, I see it as a blessing because if we could get those farmers to go more into organic produce, oh my gosh, what a blessing that would be. There are a lot of blessings that are going on right now, and we just need to look at it that way.
[02:01:37] Ashley James: I love it. You had mentioned earlier you don’t consider yourself a health coach because you don’t make food plans for people.
[02:01:48] Kathleen Gage: It scares me, it scares me.
[02:01:50] Ashley James: I understand that.
[02:01:51] Kathleen Gage: I’m a sissy when it comes to that.
[02:01:53] Ashley James: It’s funny, it’s funny. I’m a health coach, and I have to tell you that majority of health coaching is exactly what you do. Very little health coaching is making a food menu because most people won’t follow a food menu. Most people, what they need is they need you to point them in the right direction. You could give them a list of some ideas, here are some recipes that are really great, or what kind of foods do you like? Would you like Mexican? Here are some plant-based versions. Most people don’t want menus or food plans because it’s too regimented, and they won’t follow it long term. You want to teach them to fish instead of giving them the fish.
As a health coach, most health coaching is enlightening, is empowering, lifting them up, helping them to uncover their passion, helping them to find the resources so that they can make the best choices for themselves, and also then having an accountability partner. I think you’re a health coach based on everything that you do.
[02:02:58] Kathleen Gage: I’ll take it, okay. I think because I didn’t want to be boxed in on that’s all I do because there’s so much—I like to live by example. I like to show through example what’s possible. As I said, I love to read and so when I read a good book I’m always posting about it. I like to share these resources. You know, I’ll take it. If that’s what being a health coach is, I’ll take it.
[02:03:27] Ashley James: Awesome. I totally get it. We were of the era where no one’s fitting into a box, there’s no box anymore.
[02:03:35] Kathleen Gage: Absolutely. Well, now I got to go get new business cards. No, I’m just kidding.
[02:03:42] Ashley James: What is it called? Is it the Renaissance man? What is it when someone is a master of many hats?
[02:03:49] Kathleen Gage: Yeah, Renaissance and would it be bohemian too?
[02:03:53] Ashley James: Maybe, well we are. We’re quite bohemian, aren’t we?
[02:03:56] Kathleen Gage: Yes, absolutely.
[02:03:57] Ashley James: It’s been such a pleasure having you on the show, exploring your world, and how what you do in the entrepreneurial space is also helping people to get their health back. You’re also helping people who work in the health space, like health coaches and doctors who have a message, and they want to get their message out there. I know you’ve had several clients who teach raw vegan, which is such a niche, such a niche market. You have clients in this space and you help them to get their voice out there so they can get their books sold to more people, so they can get more clients. I know that about 20% of my listeners are in the holistic health space, many of my listeners are health coaches, Naturopaths, chiropractors, acupuncturists, even nurse practitioners who are also like health coaches in a sense.
There are many different roles, many different professions that my listeners are in, and many of them are in the entrepreneurial space who would love to grow their business. You teach us how to do that. Listeners can go to learntruehealth.com/powerup, and of course, the links to everything that Kathleen Gage does is going to be in the show notes of today’s podcast at learntruehealth.com. It’s been such a pleasure having you on the show. I can’t wait to be on your show.
[02:05:19] Kathleen Gage: Let’s get that taken care of. This has been delightful. I’ve had such a great time. You’re doing amazing things. I know you and Duffy with your son are just making a difference in the world, so I really appreciate all you’re doing.
[02:05:35] Ashley James: Absolutely. Thank you. I want to make sure everyone knows, what’s the name of your podcast?
[02:05:40] Kathleen Gage: It is Plant Based Eating for Health.
[02:05:43] Ashley James: Awesome. They could also search Kathleen Gage and probably find you as well in iTunes or whatever.
[02:05:49] Kathleen Gage: Yeah, a boatload of stuff.
[02:05:51] Ashley James: A buttload of stuff will come up.
[02:05:55] Kathleen Gage: A buttload or a boatload.
[02:05:59] Ashley James: Whichever you prefer, there’s going to be a lot of it. Awesome. Kathleen, do you have any homework you’d like to give us to wrap up today’s interview?
[02:06:09] Kathleen Gage: Yes, I do. What I would like people to do is sit down and describe your ideal life. What would your health be like, what would your family life be like, and what would your community be like, and start with your health? Based on that, what choices can you make that will get you closer to that decision? I did a visioning class about two years ago. I mapped out the kind of life I wanted to have, and it included so much about plant-based eating, and I didn’t even realize it at the time, but I did a vision board. When I looked at that a few months later I was like oh my gosh, everything I put on this board has become a reality, including a new rescue dog.
We lost one of our dogs, and I put an image of the kind of dog I wanted. I had no clue that I even put it on there until I looked later. We have Roxy now who is just spitting image of what was on that vision board. I would say, sit down and really convene with yourself, come to a place of honoring who you are meant to be, and then take the action from there.
[02:07:17] Ashley James: I love it, such great advice. Awesome. Thank you so much, Kathleen Gage, for coming on the show. I can’t wait to have you back on the show at a later date. Keep coming back and sharing with us, and also, I can’t wait to be on your show. It’s going to be a lot of fun.
[02:07:31] Kathleen Gage: Absolutely. Thank you, Ashley.
[02:07:33] Ashley James: I hope you enjoyed today’s interview. Please go to these two links today, one is learntruehealth.com/powerup for the free goodies that Kathleen Gage is giving you, and go to learntruehealth.com/homekitchen to get the free tour, and check out the membership site that I created for you with all these wonderful recipes and healing information so you can walk into the kitchen and use your kitchen to support your body’s ability to heal itself. Delicious recipes that support you and your family in optimal health. Learntruehealth.com/homekitchen. I hope to see you there.
Get Connected With Kathleen Gage!
Eat To Live by Dr. Joel Fuhrman
Dr. Anna Cabeca And Ashley James
- What Keto-Green is
- What makes urine pH acidic
- What keto alkaline is
- The cortisol-oxytocin disconnect
- Importance of fasting
As an obstetrician and gynecologist trained with the best in the country, Dr. Anna Cabeca was baffled when she experienced premature menopause. That’s what led Dr. Anna to find the root cause and solutions for her premature menopause. Keto-Green 16 is not just any diet, it is also a health community that aims to boost oxytocin. Men too can do the Keto-Green 16 diet as the Keto-Green 16 book has a chapter on men’s health. Dr. Anna shares with us today the importance of testing urine pH and fasting. She also gives us some of the 16 foods from her book.
Hello, true health seeker and welcome to another exciting episode of Learn True Health podcast. I’m very excited for you to learn from Dr. Anna Cabeca today. She is giving us amazing bonuses. She talks about it in the interview, and I want to make sure you have this link. Go to learntruehealth.com/ketogreen. That’s learntruehealth.com/ketogreen. Of course, that link is going to be in the show notes of today’s podcast as well. Go to that link, and she gives you all kinds of awesome bonuses, digital downloads, really cool guides, recipes. Everything she talks about, she gives you all these great free bonuses she gives you, and then it also allows you to pre-order her book, which is launching right now.
I think her program is fantastic because she focuses on nutrifiying the body, alkalizing the body with mineral-rich antioxidant-rich foods. I absolutely love her way of measuring the body stress levels and measuring the body’s alkalinity levels to make sure that you are supporting your body in being out of a disease creating state, and in a healing and restorative state all while achieving healthy hormone levels, metabolism levels, and your weight loss goals as well. She really nails it. I think nutrition is key, using food as medicine is key, and she teaches you how to do that, but also how to measure your success along the way to make sure you’re on the right track, which is so great.
I know you’re going to love today’s interview. Please go to learntruehealth.com/ketogreen to get all the information, all the bonuses, and everything that she talks about in today’s interview. Share this with all of your female friends, although men will learn a thing or two from today’s interview. So men, stick around, but please, share this episode with all of your female friends. It’s never too early or too late to support your body’s ability to heal itself and create healthy hormone levels. Enjoy today’s interview.
[00:02:21] Ashley James: Welcome to the Learn True Health podcast. I’m your host, Ashley James. This is episode 427. I am so excited for today’s guest. We have back on the show, Dr. Anna Cabeca. Dr. Anna was here on the show in episode 326, so it’s almost been 100 episodes since you were on the show, and so much has happened. Welcome back.
[00:02:52] Dr. Anna Cabeca: It’s so good to be back with you, Ashley. We’ve been big fans. I had told you my daughter, Amira, who we just brought back from the Netherlands where she was studying, turned me on to your podcast in the first place.
[00:03:05] Ashley James: It’s so cool. I love it. I love how this works. I love how podcasting works because it connects us in such a unique way and allows us to really be together as a community. Your message, you help women to balance their hormones, and this is such a relevant topic because so many women now in their 30s and 40s are going through premenopause. Back in the day, it used to be the 50s or 60s, and we’re just seeing this huge, huge spike in women really being out of balance with their hormones so much so that their body just says, “Alright, we’re depleted. I guess we’re just going to go into that next stage of our life.” Way sooner than it’s supposed to, and that affects our vitality, that affects our bone density, that affects our longevity, it affects the quality of our life on so many levels.
You help women to regain that balance and to regain their health in every system of their body. I’m such a fan of the work that you do because you are all about using food as medicine to balance the body. Today you’re coming back to share about your latest book. It’s been about a year since you’ve been on the show, and since then, you’ve written a new book. I’m so excited. Tell us about your new book that’s coming out.
[00:04:48] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Yeah. Thank you. My first book was The Hormone Fix, and it’s all about really working on our major hormones because it takes more than hormones to fix our hormones. I launched that out on February 26 and introduced it to your audience in that last podcast. Now, Keto-Green 16, which is my next book is releasing May 5th, and it really is like a kick-butt plan to get results very quickly in 16 days, and uplevel so that we really push our system to uplevel itself. So to become even more efficient, more energized, slimmed-down those stubborn pounds, and get out of a metabolic plateau or metabolic stall that we often hit when we have hormone imbalance issues.
[00:05:39] Ashley James: Take us back to after you launched, a year ago after you launched your book. I mean, that’s such a big feat to have launched a book, busy promoting it, and you’re also a busy doctor, and then turn around and write another book. Was there a specific aha moment when you said, “Okay, this is the next book I’m writing.” Did you have a, “Oh, this is exactly what I need to do now,” moment?
[00:06:05] Dr. Anna Cabeca: It evolved as I was in the process after I had written The Hormone Fix and was working with more clients online going through the programs. I wanted to take it to the next level. There is so much in The Hormone Fix beyond what we eat. There is how we manage cortisol, how we manage oxytocin hormone disruptors. For Keto-Green 16, I wanted to simplify it to say, “Okay, here’s the basics.” You don’t need necessarily all the reasons and science why I’m recommending this, although I’ve got some in there, of course, can’t help it. But here’s the plan that really works and we’re going to uplevel it, push it to a higher level that is doable, and quicker, and simpler.
I have beautiful recipes in The Hormone Fix, and lots of great information, and a great plan, but in Keto-Green 16, I trimmed it down to 16 key ingredients to make shopping easier, 16 key ingredient types. I pushed our fasting window. I was recommending 13 to 15, starting out 13 to 16, so I really push everyone to 16-hour intermittent fasting. Also, there are some other fun things around the number 16—16-minute exercise routine, 16 days. There is some good stuff here. I just wanted to simplify it, make it easier for people, but plus also bring the men into the picture. Make it so men can adapt it for them, and there’s a whole chapter on men’s health in their men’s health and men’s sexual health, and really get everyone doing it together.
My vision with Keto-Green 16, because the community is a big boost to oxytocin, a healthy community, the more we can be a healthy community, boost our oxytocin. My goal also with Keto-Green 16, you don’t have to do it alone. Do it with your work teams. Do it with your virtual communities now as we’re creating virtual communities. Do it as part of a corporate health program, 16 days. First 16 days of every month. I mean, let’s do this together. Let’s bring food in together. Let’s talk about this together.
[00:08:23] Ashley James: Very interesting that you did a whole chapter on men. Statistically, men don’t go to a doctor for regular check-ups as much as women do. That statistically, men wait until it’s really bad or their wives drag them in. Now, we do have male listeners, and they’re the proactive ones. They’re the black sheep. But statistically, the majority of men out there don’t really hone in on their health and practice preventive medicine.
You mentioned sexual health, and I think that ED, erectile dysfunction, is when men go, “Wait a sec, there’s something wrong.” Because erectile dysfunction can be caused by numerous things. It’s sort of like the canary in the coal mine, and it’s saying, “Hey, you might be headed for heart disease, diabetes. If you don’t handle it now, you’re going to be in a grave soon.” ED is something that shows that they have significant health issues that they might have been ignoring. When men can’t perform, that’s when they take action. So you have a chapter on how they can reverse ED and gain control of their health, is that correct?
[00:09:41] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Absolutely, absolutely. I’ve worked with men. I always tell the men that come to see me, the men that are listening in general that are proactive of their health, but I tell the men that come to see me, “You know, you really are a strong male when you come to see a gynecologist for answers.” It’s true because very often, I’m working with their wives or their significant other, and they’re like, “You know what, she’s doing great, and I’m falling behind.” or “I see what you’ve done for such and such and such and such, so I want help too.” Men who came into my practice on their own, and it is about that. It is about getting to the underlying, underlying reason why we’re having problems to begin with.
It’s not symptom treatment when you come to my medical office. It’s not symptom treatment. It’s getting to the underlying reason you’re having the symptoms and fixing that, and that’s what’s taken me on this journey, Ashley. I mean, this is really what’s taking me on this journey is that I kept looking for the underlying, underlying reason to what my problems were: my weight gain, my obesity, my depression, my trauma, my infertility, my premature menopause. I mean, just name it. I could probably keep going. I have a long list but I have none of that anymore. Yes, I am infertile because now at age 53, I am finally really menopausal and delivered my last baby at 41.
A lot shifted. A lot’s really shifted as we get to the underlying reason why we’re having these problems to begin with. For me, there was no good solution available. My doctor’s bag was empty. I had to create solutions that worked.
[00:11:20] Ashley James: We did go over your bio in the last interview, but for those who haven’t heard it, you were a doctor and you had health issues, and you were looking around going, “Wait a second. I wasn’t taught how to heal my body. What’s going on? Can you give us a little bit of an insight into the aha moments you had as you began to heal yourself using food, and that’s not something that is taught to doctors.
[00:11:52] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Right, yeah. It’s definitely food has been a part of it. Absolutely. I would say it’s not just about what we eat, and that’s why diets–93% of diets fail, right? Because it’s not just about what we eat, when we eat, where we eat, who we’re eating with, and what we eat ate. All of the things have to do with how we’re going to do, and so true. For me, I was 39 years old. I was running my medical practice, a medical spa. I was a National Health Service Corps scholar, and I practiced here in southeast Georgia—rural area—for payback in a community–a shrimping village–that I had.
As a result of trauma, really, I was plunged into early menopause, and I failed the highest doses of infertility treatments, the highest doses of recommended injectable. I pushed the limit. I trained at Emory University with the best reproductive endocrinologist in the country, in my opinion, and I had no ovarian response. I was 39 years old as an OBGYN, told I would never be able to have another baby again. We were devastated. Then to be diagnosed with early menopause.
I had severe depression. When I got out of bed in the morning, it hurt to put my feet on the floor. I ached. I can remember that. I just ached everywhere. My hair was falling out, just name it. I was basically given the option of antidepressants because of course, I was depressed. That was what was recommended. As well as I was offered egg donation as an option for my infertility. That wasn’t the answer that my husband and I wanted to go with at the time, and it really took me on a journey around the world.
I left my medical practice for a year, I took a sabbatical. An angel, I call her an angel. Dr. Deborah Shepherd came as an answer to a prayer and took over my medical practice for that year enabling me to do this. I had two daughters, one 6 and one 9 or 7 and 10. They’re just turning 7 and 10 at that time. We traveled around the world. I homeschooled them for a year.
[00:14:18] Ashley James: I love it.
[00:14:19] Dr. Anna Cabeca: That was entertaining. I am not the homeschool mom. Right now, kids are home, and I am glad Ava Marie. Homeschooling is not for me. But it took me on a journey around the world to discover all different types of medicine: traditional, Eastern, Western, I spoke with some of the best scientists in the world, and I met some of the most amazing indigenous healers, and none of it was planned. Anyway, none of it was my plan. I’ll say it was God’s plan, but as a result, I reversed my infertility, reversed my early menopause, became pregnant, and delivered a healthy baby girl at age 41. That was the beauty of it.
As a result of trauma, as a result of PTSD, the underlying consequences of PTSD, especially as we enter this perimenopausal stage, I call it a period of neuroendocrine vulnerability. I’ve really dug into this a lot since our last conversation and since writing The Hormone Fix. I’ve really dug into this neuroendocrine vulnerability because more is coming up about it now as we’re starting to image the female brain. There’s some great neuropsychiatrist and brain researchers looking at the female brain, really, for the first time in history, honestly, in the way that it’s needed to be done. We’re finding out some interesting things.
As a result of my PTSD and this trauma, a consequence to that was what I call in my book the cortisol-oxytocin disconnect. In other words, a hormonal disconnect, a burnout. You no longer feel love, you no longer feel connected, you feel isolated and dissociated. It doesn’t matter how many people around you love you. You don’t feel it. As a result, my relationship went through a divorce, and then he had a traumatic brain injury. So then, I was both a single mom and dad to my kids. Then at age 48, I went through the second period of early menopause with the brain fog and I had teenagers. One in elementary school, one in middle school, and one in high school. I had irritability, brain fog. I mean, some of that we can deal with, but the worst part was gaining weight.
I gained 20 pounds. My patients would say, “Without doing anything different?” And when they would tell me that, “I mean, really.” I’d be like, “Really. Really you’re not doing anything different.” Sure, you’re doing something different. No, but it happened to me. Really, I wasn’t doing anything different. I gained 20 pounds overnight, and it’s very fascinating how that happened. That’s what took me into my journey of discovering the keto alkaline, which I now called it my Keto-Green way. Getting my body into ketosis, but adding the alkalinizers on to increase hormone balance, and also using my urine pH as a measure of how well I’m doing because stress creates an acidic urine pH. Too much of an acidic or inflammatory diet creates an acidic urinary pH.
Using that to guide me and to develop this program to really fine-tune the dietary component plus the lifestyle component that improves our physiology. Doing that combination, getting into ketosis on a regular basis through intermittent fasting and low glycemic diet plus healthy fats, as well as, those alkaline components really make a difference. It’s been a fascinating journey, honestly. It really has been fascinating as kind of hacking the midlife physiology.
[00:18:17] Ashley James: Oh, yeah. Absolutely. Especially like you said, this is really being studied for the first time. When we look at the history of medicine, women’s health and women’s brain health has not been explored, especially the way that they’re exploring it now. So this is very, very exciting. Urine pH test strips. There’s a brand I love. I can’t remember the name, but I’ll link it in the show notes. Do you sell them, or do you have a brand that you love? The ones that I get, you can use to test your saliva and your urine.
[00:18:54] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Okay. I’ve got one better for you because urine pH really makes a difference. I actually created urine pH test strips with ketone pads on them. They’re called the Keto-pH Test Strips. I’ll give you a link to those. We want to check the urine. Salivary is good and it’s interesting to check too. It will also relate to what you eat, but urine is kind of, “Okay, what’s the end product? At the end of this moment, what’s the result here?” You can fine-tune your day based on your urine pH. Say, for example, you check your urine pH in the morning. Now, I want that to be alkaline, but what’s very interesting, the more you push your body into ketosis after periods of fasting, for instance, you’re going to be acidic, so you really have to balance up the alkalinizers and the practices that increase the alkalinity.
I’ll share a story with you. Urine pH testing and urine testing for ketones, Let me tell you, urine is another vital sign. Urine pH testing is absolutely another vital sign. As we are exposed to a lot of stressful thoughts and situations right now, I think it’s more important than ever to be checking urine pH—more important than ever to be checking urine pH because that really helps us fine-tune what we’re doing and even our thoughts. I was just on a consult call with a client of mine. She lives up in Rhode Island, and she said over the last week, she was doing everything. She was really trying to get alkaline, and the news every night, and she was feeling stressed, and she goes, “Well then, we had a virtual Skype birthday party with my two-year-old grandbaby. With my next urination, I couldn’t wait to check, and lo and behold I was so alkaline. I was so alkaline.” She knows. Oxytocin shifts your pH, shifts your physiology.
We have focused so much on the wrong things. We focused just on the wrong things. We would ask, “Why would this healthy eater, this vegetarian, or this vegan, or this really healthy athlete, and very conscientious about nutrition, why would she get cancer? Why would she get inflammation? Why would she be struggling with this or autoimmune disease?” Really, it’s more than about what we eat. Figuring out what our physiology is, I love it. It’s like getting your Nancy Drew on and you’re just discovering. Okay. “Well, when I interact with so-and-so I’m acidic right away.” I mean I can tell you, I could have told you that, but having my urine pH prove it to me, that’s pretty fun.
[00:21:40] Ashley James: That is so funny. I was just watching a TV show where a police officer was wearing a Fitbit-like thing that monitored his stress levels. Every time a sergeant walked up to him it’d start beeping. It’s funny to think that we could measure our stress levels in such an easy way, such an easy way every time you urinate. I was going to ask when’s the best time you test, but through your story, you’re sharing you could test anytime throughout the day. Should we, as an experiment, test every time we pee, or only in the mornings, or what’s the best way to go about testing our pH to balance as good feedback?
[00:22:33] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Yeah, all throughout the day. It’s so fun to do, honestly. I know it sounds terrible, and most of my clients, when I run my programs, are like, “Oh, do I really have to?” I’m like, “Yes, yes. You have to, and I promise you, you will love doing it at the end.” This client, she’s been with me for three years, she’s like, “Oh my God. I couldn’t wait to test my urine pH.” I knew that. I felt so much better. That’s the beauty of it. With my urine pH test strip, there’s 100 in a container, there’s 50 in a separate foil so they stay fresh because humidity and light affects them. It’s inexpensive. It’s like $12 or $13 for 100 tests.
Check at least three to four times a day especially getting started. Your first pee in the morning, I’d love for everyone to wake up with a urine pH of seven. I would love that. That just makes me happy just thinking about everyone waking up with a urine pH of 7. An alkaline urine pH is more associated with healthier bones, decreased risk of inflammatory conditions like diabetes, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, and cancer. If we can monitor this, again, because it’s not just about what we eat, it’s how we manage stress. Also, Ashley, what’s really fascinating is I have a terrible dairy sensitivity. I discovered all this as I figured stuff out. Let me step back a second and tell you how I recognized that cortisol in my urine pH, I mean, I never learned that.
[00:23:59] Ashley James: In medical school, this is something they don’t teach?
[00:24:02] Dr. Anna Cabeca: No, I didn’t. No, I never learned that. We look at urine for ketones. There’s a pH pad on our urine test strips, like our 11-count urine test strips, but we’re looking at ketones. That’s on there too, but typically, we’re looking for white blood cells and nitrites for a urine infection or bilirubin in our urine. There are a few different things that we look at in our urine. It’s like, “Okay, well you’re not too far on this side and you’re not too far on this side. I guess it’s not a flag.”
When I started really recognizing that when I get into ketosis through my ketogenic diet, I was getting inflamed, and irritated, and kind of angry, and cranky. I called it going keto crazy. That’s where I recognized, “Okay, I’m just too acidic.” Check my urine pH. It was as acidic as the urine pH paper would read. That’s when I’m like, “Okay, add in the alkalinizers like kale, kale soup, collard, collard greens, chard, Swiss chard, and also beet greens, not the beets, but the beet greens.” I’ve got some great recipes in my books for those. Very alkalinizing and so mineral-rich, and I kept piling those into my diet until I would start to see some alkalinity, and as well adding apple cider vinegar, and increasing my Mighty Maca Plus, and incorporating some additional herbs and spices to help with alkalinity as well.
Then the mornings I walked on the beach, I was more likely to be alkaline all day. I started to test that, and certainly, the mornings I take my gratitude journaling, the mornings I walked on the beach, the more alkaline all day. The mornings I woke up late, and hurried, and rushed my kids off to the school bus, and ended up driving them to school because I missed the bus with them, certainly, much more acidic all day. That was a big aha moment for me. Even when I was thinking. “Oh my god. I have the stressful situation that I have to address at the office or in my personal life,” that created more acidic urine pH.
As I started discovering this in myself, and treating, and coaching other women to discover this for them also. Find out what makes them more alkaline, what makes them more acidic, and we just started doing this. I’ve been doing this for six years now. Food sensitivities, I can tell right away if I’ve been given something with dairy. I’m incredibly dairy sensitive, so for example, a pesto sauce has some parmesan in it, I will be acidic the next morning. That sensitive. It can help us figure out that food sensitivity too, the inflammation. At least that’s what I’ve been playing with that because I haven’t read that anywhere. It’s pretty interesting.
[00:26:55] Ashley James: Are there ever times when our urine should be acidic? Like, “Oh, that’s a good thing it’s acidic.” Because it means that it’s getting rid of something.
[00:27:07] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Definitely after our workouts. Lactic acid is secreted in our blood, certainly, and we’ll become more acidic. When we’re dehydrated we’re more acidic. Definitely, after an intensive workout, we’re more acidic and you’ll see that.
[00:27:21] Ashley James: Any other times other than that? That’s good to know about dehydration because I think that the majority of people walking around are dehydrated and they don’t know it. That’s good to know. If they can’t dial in their pH urine, maybe try increasing their water intake after a workout. Are there ever any other times in which we would expect or we would want to see a urine pH that is acidic?
[00:27:55] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Not that we’d want to see it acidic, not that I can think of.
[00:28:03] Ashley James: When we’re first entering ketosis, or when we’re fasting, or when we’re burning fat, all of that?
[00:28:12] Dr. Anna Cabeca: We don’t want to see it. We really want to see it more alkaline, but we will definitely. This is something my community has Q’d me in on. All of them was get alkaline first, then push into ketosis. Many women, once they’re in ketosis, have a really hard time regaining that alkalinity, but the combination is powerful. The combination is so powerful, so certainly, when we’re fasting, we’re going to be acidic. Don’t stress about it, but if you can hydrate more, add some minerals to your water, anything that we can do to nourish our bodies while we’re fasting, that’s awesome. I’ve also done some dry fast. Very acidic during those for sure.
[00:28:51] Ashley James: Can you explain the biochemistry of what it means to be alkaline or acidic in our pH? What is present to make it acidic, or what’s the body not doing well? Is it too much hydrogen? Not enough carbon? What’s going on that’s causing acidity?
[00:29:13] Dr. Anna Cabeca: This is very interesting. When I’m looking at urine pH, because we’re not talking about blood pH when we’re talking about acidity and alkalinity, at least I’m not. Sometimes you’ll hear the alkaline myth, “It doesn’t matter, your blood pH stays stable no matter what.” It does, for the most part, unless you’re really sick. If I had a client coming into my emergency room and they were really sick. I would put a needle in their radial artery, not the vein, the artery, and draw it on arterial blood gas. Now, we’re going to measure that pH, and that pH has to be so close to 7.4. It’s just slightly alkaline, and if it’s a little high, a little low, that person’s really sick.
Most commonly, they’re coming in acidotic. In that case, the first thing we do, we’ll give them IV bicarb. We’re going to give them something like baking soda, not IV, but we give them bicarbonate IV to alkalinize them. We’re going to get them an alkalinizer like baking soda is very alkaline. Half a teaspoon of baking soda in some water, drink that down, you’ll have some alkaline urine pH. There’s that shift on physiology, but our blood pH is going to stay really stable. How does it stay really stable? It robs Peter to pay Paul, so if we’re fasting, we’re going to get our minerals from our bone, from our muscle, from ourselves. We’re going to rob Peter to pay Paul essentially to keep that blood pH super stable.
Consider the urine like a thermometer is telling you, “A little bit cold, a little bit hot. Okay. You’re too cold. Let’s warm you up a little bit. Let’s get more alkaline.” When we’re looking at this across the kidneys, when we are stressed, cortisol increases hydrogen ion secretion across the renal tubules, so we see that as a more acidic urine pH—power of hydrogen. We’ll see that. We’ll see that. When we’re more inflamed, more malnourished, or eating very high sugar inflammatory foods, also when we have high glucose, we’re also going to push out cortisol, so we’ll see more of an acidic urine pH. It really has to do with the ions across the cell membranes. I mean, sodium, potassium, chloride, magnesium. I mean, we look at all the different minerals going across the cell membranes as well.
Looking at that from, again, the underlying, underlying reason why we’re not feeling good, we always go back to the cellular level. That’s how it guides us. The physiology guides us.
[00:32:12] Ashley James: Interesting what you said about baking soda. Is it because we’re deficient in something that baking soda provides? Like we’re having a deficiency in sodium? Does it mop up something? I mean, is this something we should all be supplementing with, or is it just a stopgap, and what we really need to do is eat greens because they’re so alkalizing?
[00:32:39] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Really, we should eat more greens because they’re alkalinizing and give us fiber, but bicarb for a short term anyway, what bicarb does it just helps with the alkalization. The abbreviation for bicarb is HCO3, not that that really matters, but it’s a byproduct of our metabolism. It’s more alkalinizing to our body. Not 100% sure how that works with sodium, and potassium, and chloride—the other electrolytes—but it does help with the pH balance. Our body will produce it naturally. The body will make bicarb as a byproduct or basically carbon dioxide. It’s essentially a form of CO2 gas. When we look at the cell exchange, the membrane exchange, you have sodium, potassium, chloride exchanging over the membrane. When we take sodium bicarb orally, we’re giving this alkalinizer, these highly-charged alkaline molecules, essentially, that quickly we’ll see that by-product in our urine.
[00:33:58] Ashley James: Did you have an aha moment around testing urine pH? How did you come across that piece of information? Because you must have started testing yourself first, right?
[00:34:12] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Oh, yeah. Absolutely. So just in studying functional medicine from early 2000, one of the things that we’ve learned when we’re detoxing our bodies, eating more alkaline foods like our tenet is 80% alkaline, 20% acidic, really want to look and check your urine pH so that it’s alkaline. So there, it was all about food. That’s when I really had pushed that with my clients and my patients as part of our detox regimen in hormone balancing. But now, here I was, gaining that weight at age 48. What I used to do wasn’t working any longer. That’s when I went strictly ketogenic, but at that point, I had stopped testing myself because I’ve been pretty much on a healthy regimen for a while.
During that time, I was like, “I’m feeling crazy, keto crazy. Why is keto not feeling good like it does for my male counterparts?” That’s when I just said, “Okay, well let me just check my urine and see what’s going on.” I mean it makes sense that I’d be a little bit more acidic, but not as acidic as I was. The aha was that once I really pushed those alkalinizers on board, and I was alkaline and in ketosis, or how I had an alkaline urine pH and in ketosis at the same time, and I felt so much better. I had the clarity, I felt energized. I call it energized enlightenment. I felt peace. I told you I had three kids in three different schools, and yet, nothing in my external environment changed, but I felt peace. I was able to respond instead of react. I was at home in my body again, and the weight just came off.
[00:35:50] Ashley James: You knew you were on to something.
[00:35:56] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Yes, yes. I knew I was on to something. When I discovered that for myself, that’s when I brought in some of my most difficult patients/friends that were part of my medical practice and my community. I brought them in, I said, “Once a week for eight weeks this is what you’re going to do. Exactly what I’ve been doing. You’re going to get keto green. You’re going to follow this.” I wrote out a menu plan, I created a regimen, gave them a checklist—a to-do list, made them do questionnaires. I put all of that in my book, The Hormone Fix, and like, “You’re going to do this with me. You’re going to do bone broth in between for some evenings,” I made this whole regimen.
That’s basically my plan in The Hormone Fix. Every one of them felt better. Everyone who had been at a metabolic stall lost that stubborn weight and just, again, symptom scores dropped by—gosh, in that group—over 70% to 80% within a few weeks. That’s what’s really beautiful, and that’s what we see. What we’ve seen now with Keto-Green 16 in the 16-day intense plan that I’ve created, again, it’s work, it’s a discipline and a practice, but it definitely works. We’ve seen as much as a 90% decrease in symptom scores in 16 days. We’ve seen some really beautiful stuff.
[00:37:11] Ashley James: Have you published any of these, or are you planning on doing clinical studies, or getting it out there to the scientific community?
[00:37:22] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Yes, definitely. I’ve written about a couple of the studies in my book Keto-Green 16, and we will be publishing some of these clinical trials that we’ve been doing. So my Keto-Green 16, we have a pilot clinic near the University of Gainesville in Florida, Dr. Angeli Akey’s clinic. She’s been running group medical visits for the 16-day plan for my Keto-Green 16 plan. We were playing with it as I was making the menus and recipes. I couldn’t give the recipes from the book, of course, so I had approval from the publisher and had some Galley copies to use.
We finally have been able to do that, but even with the rough guidelines, we’ve had amazing success. With Keto-Green 16, another group is running through it right now. We’re gathering results, gathering research. We’ve seen an improvement in diastolic blood pressures, improvement in resting pulse rate, and again, up to 90% improvement in symptoms, and definitely an improvement in hemoglobin A1cs. We are going to publish this data when I have time. We’re getting, ideally, some interns or residents to eventually help me with the research.
[00:38:48] Ashley James: Cool. If there are any listeners out there that this is their specialty, then contact Dr. Anna. We got to get you some more interns, some more residents so we can get this out there.
[00:39:03] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Definitely. There are residents who have a requirement like we did at Emory to do research, so I welcome it. I definitely would like someone to write up this stuff.
[00:39:13] Ashley James: Very cool. So you picked number 16, why is that: 16 days, 16 food, 16-minute exercise? Is there any science behind it? What’s up with the number 16?
[00:39:33] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Definitely. And 16-hour intermittent fasting. The number 16, in general, is a good number. There are not many 16-day plans. I actually don’t know of any other 16-day plans out there, so that makes it new. A colleague of mine just said, “You know what, if you’re used to doing 10-day plans, you’re used to doing for two weeks or 21 days, having a different number really is like, ‘Okay, this is new. I can commit to this. This is something that’s different.’” I didn’t even realize that until recently, but the number 16 is about beginnings. About beginnings and completing/finishing. Also 16, sweet 16, it’s just a beautiful number. There has been research that showed within 16 days, we can really see some scientific results, some good scientific results. As well as 16-hour intermittent fasting. That’s part of the 16 plan, so 16-hour intermittent fasting. Ideally, between dinner, the night before, eaten by 6:00 PM or 7:00 PM and breaking fast 16-hours later with a Keto-Green meal, typically between 10:00 AM or 11:00 AM.
[00:40:39] Ashley James: That’s totally doable. That’s very easy. I’ve done the one meal a day intermittent fasting. I’ve done water-only fasting. I’ve done where you just have breakfast then you have dinner, playing around with it, but just basically having dinner that’s between 6:00 PM & 7:00 PM and then not eating until 10:00 PM or 11:00 PM. I think some people do that by accident, so that’s pretty easy. Should people not do something more intense? Is there a reason for that, or is this a minimum like 16-hour intermittent fasting minimum? But could people do 20-hour, 22-hour if they wanted to do one meal a day, or do you see evidence to suggest we shouldn’t do that?
[00:41:27] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Well, I think that in general, if you’re a type 1 diabetic on insulin or a type 2 diabetic that’s poorly controlled, you need to be under your doctor’s supervision to do this, and if you’re pregnant, or breastfeeding. Although, I definitely have taken care of many moms that inadvertently were hyperemesis that fasted for extended periods of time, so healthy, healthy babies. But we can’t recommend that, so I would say not without your doctor’s guidance. Each of us is different. So if you have issues, but the person is like, “Oh, I have to eat very often, very frequently because I get low blood sugar.” I address that in the book. We can definitely get you intermittent fasting. It’s about blood sugar stabilization.
Ashley, what’s really fascinating and fun is that as part of creating the recipes for Keto-Green 16, I discovered and started using over a year ago the FreeStyle Libre, which is a 14-day blood sugar monitor. It’s a sensor that goes in your arm. It’s technically only for diabetics, but any doctor can prescribe it for you. It goes in your arm. It just taps in. It’s just a filament that’s in there. There’s no needle in your arm or anything just in your triceps area. It stays in there for 14 days and reads your blood sugar—essentially interstitial sugar levels, glucose levels—around the clock. As I created the meals, as I worked with intermittent fasting, as I pushed the limits, created the combinations of food so that it doesn’t spike your blood sugar at all.
What that means, you’re not going to get a peak in blood sugar, and you’re not going to get that deep valley—that low blood sugar that’s causing the hypoglycemic reaction because the meals are really well-balanced. Then I teach those principles too like combine your healthy fat, good high-quality protein, and lots of greens, and low carbohydrate greens, so that you get good fiber in there, which also helps with blood sugar stability.
[00:43:36] Ashley James: I love it. I interviewed Dr. William Davis, the author of Wheat Belly. He’s a cardiologist that believes the key to healing the heart and preventing heart disease is balancing blood sugar. He said in our interview that 100% of the adult population should own a glucometer. It shouldn’t be an issue of whether you’re diabetic or not. We should all use a glucometer an hour or two after each meal to see, “Was that a good meal for me or not? Is my body responding well to that or not?” And to use it as a guide just like you’re talking about using pH as a guide, also using a glucometer as a guide.
You’re saying, we can wear one if we get our doctor to prescribe it, we can wear one for 14 days. That would be fantastic if we wrote everything down that we ate, did a food mood journal, write down our sleep, our stress, our water intake, and our food, and how we feel throughout the day emotionally and also physically. Then look at what the monitor says, and go. “Oh, those times I’m stressed. What’s my pH urine doing? What’s my blood glucose doing? Oh, those times I didn’t get enough sleep. Wow. That really affected my blood glucose. Oh, the times that I ate,” like you said, “the parmesan in the pasta. It’s amazing when I eat pasta without parmesan versus with parmesan how much does that make a difference.”
Just dialing it in and figuring out that our blood sugar can be affected by more than just eating a doughnut. It could be affected by stress, sleep, and food sensitivities. Also, some people can’t handle grains, some people can’t handle whole grains. Some people can’t handle legumes or beans, some people can. Some people do better on the green keto, and they’ll see that, they’ll see that in the numbers. That feedback that you get when you see, like you said, your urine pH go up, your urine pH go to a healthy alkaline level, and your blood sugar blood glucose go to a healthy level. That’s the feedback that allows us to say, “Hey, it is really working.”
I feel as though many women who’ve dieted many times have a distrust of their body, and it’s like the mindset. Even though, let’s say, they buy your book, which we can pre-order right now. Keto-Green 16, we can pre-order it. I know it’s going to be out on audible, I’m excited for that. You’re recording it, it’s going to be your voice, which is super exciting, just like your last book. But I feel like women and men who have been on many diets don’t trust their body especially if they’re in their 30s and 40s and they’re premenopausal, we feel like our bodies have betrayed us.
I’ve met a lot of people, I myself have been through this. The mindset, having to heal the mindset around my body, but the feeling that our body’s betraying us, or the little voice in the back of your head says, “You know, this works for other people but it’s not going to work for me.” We could be on the diet for a few days, let’s say the Keto-Green 16 diet. We could be on it for a few days, and that little voice is going, “It’s not going to work for me, it’s going to work for other people.” But then to get the external results of watching blood glucose normalize, of watching pH come into a healthy level. The little tests that we can do at home would help to affirm that we’re on the right path.
If they’re going in the wrong direction, then we can go, “Okay, there’s something here to uncover,” like you said, like Nancy Drew. There’s something here to uncover, and figure out, and decipher about my health, but it’s giving us extra feedback externally that will allow us to dial in our health. Are there any other tests at home that we could do to help us see that we’re on the right path? Maybe something we could journal or something we could see that goes, “Oh, yes. I know this is working for me. I know I’m gaining health because of these results.”
[00:48:13] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Yeah, absolutely. I definitely have loved wearing the 14-day monitor. Anyway, we can just check finger sticks of blood sugar too. That’s helpful as well. But it was really another interesting point, before we leave, the monitor. What I didn’t know was that when I did my boxing, my high-intensity boxing workouts, and they’re an hour and a half or so, that my blood sugar would go up to 150, it went 200, and that’s fasting because I’ll eat after my workouts. So that blew my mind. Because I check urine pH and ketones, I check with my Keto-pH urine test strips, I was like, “After this great workout, why am I not in ketosis? Certainly, I’m definitely acidic. Why am I not in ketosis after I’ve just worked out so hard? Surely I’m using fats at this point, right? Especially I was in ketosis before I went.”
That blew my mind to see, “Oh, yeah. That makes sense though because our muscles release glycogen so that we have glycogen for fuel and for energy during our workouts.” I thought that our body’s so brilliant, so that was beautiful to see and a surprise for me, but it absolutely makes sense. I wouldn’t have realized that unless I was wearing my 24-hour monitor. That was fun. Then, of course, urine pH and ketone testing because if we’re not testing we’re guessing, and that’s a really big thing too. Just things, observation like observing, doing your weight. As much as we don’t like to, I encourage people in the 16-day plan, do weights day because sometimes we eat a food sensitivity, and that’s going to make us heavier despite doing everything right, and we have to decipher that for ourselves.
[00:50:03] Ashley James: If you all of a sudden gained 5 pounds in 24 hours, that’s not fat, it’s inflammation and water. I use the scale every day because I’ve caught foods that all of a sudden I’m five pounds more or seven pounds more, I’m like “Well, that’s water.” Then I cut out that food, three days later it’s all gone. I know that I had to put that on the list of the foods that my body doesn’t tolerate. So it’s really interesting. We have to make sure that we’re emotionally—I don’t know. We don’t want to get triggered because I feel like some people, whatever the scale says, they’ll end up doing some self-harm like going off their diet completely, or bingeing, or anorexia—starving themselves, or depriving themselves.
We have to understand that the scale is feedback not for fat because women lose weight very slowly. A quarter-pound a week, half a pound a week, if you’re like really, really trying, that’s fat. If you start losing pounds, that’s water and inflammation. If you start gaining pounds very quickly, that’s likely water and inflammation. I mean, it could be other things like constipation, but we just need to understand that if it goes up really fast or down really fast, it’s probably either dehydration, or losing inflammation, or gaining inflammation. We have to check in with ourselves emotionally to make sure that we don’t take the numbers on the scale and then do self-harm as a result.
[00:51:56] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Right. The numbers on the scale should not determine our mood.
[00:51:59] Ashley James: Right, or our behavior. We should use it to correct behavior in a positive way, but not in a self-harm way.
[00:52:10] Dr. Anna Cabeca: I agree. It’s information-gathering. So, definitely, I have clients that are like, “Nope, I’ll never use the scale. I just feel how my clothes fit, how my rings fit,” and that’s perfect too. That’s absolutely perfect too. If you know the scale’s a trigger, don’t use it, but I want you to be observant. I want you to discover what works for you, and what doesn’t work for you. The same thing with how hydrated are you. When you use the bathroom, is your urine clear? That’s just a simple look. Look and see. When you’re having bowel movements, do they look like dark brown bananas? That’s a good thing. That’s what we want, okay. That’s good. Little self-assessments like that are really beneficial. And our energy level.
In my books, in The Hormone Fix, I have questionnaires for medical symptoms, toxicity questionnaire, hormone symptom questionnaire, and a checklist on a daily basis. I have clients start out with choosing and saying their cheer word—a word that makes them smile when they think about it and say it. That’s a cheer word. I have them do gratitude journal on this checklist, what are you grateful for? Write it down. Then check your pH, check your urine ketones. Have you done your alkalinizing drink? What movement have you had? Bowel movement and physical movement.
Those factors that help guide us through making sure I’m doing the best I can do for me during a day, and I know when I get away from doing that. I’ve created this checklist years ago now, but when I get away from doing it on a regular basis, like now with kind of all this stuff over the last couple weeks, it does make a difference. I’m like, “Yeah, I got to go back to doing my checklist.” How many hours am I sleeping at night? How much water am I drinking? Movement every day and just checking in with myself in this way. That’s helpful. That’s been really helpful for me for sure.
[00:54:16] Ashley James: What’s the relationship between insulin, and cortisol, and our other hormones that we need to be aware of? Many people say, “Well, I’m not diabetic,” but insulin, even if we’re not diabetic, or pre-diabetic, or have metabolic syndrome, insulin still is a hormone that we want to keep in balance. Could you explain cortisol? For those who don’t know what cortisol is, could you just explain insulin and cortisol, and the relationship between those two, and how they affect the rest of our hormones?
[00:57:46] Ashley James: You’re not lying. This is exactly what happens. I can’t tell you how many people, and I’ve been doing health coaching for several years, and how many clients have told me that their numbers continue to get worse year after year, and their MD said, “Come back next year, you’ll be diabetic then, and then we’ll get you on XYZ drug. But you’re borderline right now.” None of them were given guidance besides, “Well, maybe see a dietitian,” and the dietitian told them like what they can and can’t eat at McDonald’s. I mean, it was just ridiculous the ignorance, and it’s focused on the system.
The system is focused on wait to get sick and then get on a drug. If your blood numbers, if your lab results are moving in the wrong direction but you aren’t sick enough to get on a drug, they have nothing for you. They have no resources for you because they’re not trained in medical school how to correct the body. These diseases are caused by our diet. Why are doctors not trained in this? It drives me up the wall. The majority of deaths and diseases in the United States are caused by diet. Why are we waiting to get sick, and then throwing drugs at the problem when the problem is the diet.
So I love that you’re teaching us how to correct the problem with a healing diet and then how to monitor our own health. Of course, see a doctor, see a great physician, see a functional medicine practitioner, or Naturopaths. You see a doctor that actually has dedicated their life to studying how food affects the body. We should all have a doctor like that and use food to heal the body and use the pH test strips and the glucometers so that we can dial in our health.
I love that when we’re in our 50s, be like you. Your body thinks you’re 30. You’ve got wonderful A1c hemoglobin levels. Now, does this way of eating, this very cleansing way of eating, does it also increase insulin sensitivity? See this is the question, I’ve heard from some experts that if you eat a diet with oils and high fat that you don’t increase insulin sensitivity. I’d love for your input. Have you seen that people on your protocol get insulin sensitivity? You can see it in labs, and then if they were to go back to eating, I’m not saying eating the standard American diet, but if they were to go back to eating let’s say potatoes, or brown rice, or they incorporate some more carbohydrates, does their blood sugar spike up again, or do you see that they have achieved insulin sensitivity and so they’re more balanced?
[01:01:08] Dr. Anna Cabeca: That’s a great question. Well there are many ways to do a ketogenic diet, right? There’s keto dirty and there’s keto clean, which is Keto-Green. You can be ketogenic and eating all day, essentially, eating fats all day, you know what I mean? Then you really can get into ketosis that way, but that’s not ideal. That’s why especially for perimenopausal, menopausal, and postmenopausal women it’s that we are more insulin resistant. We are designed to conserve energy, to be the last ones to eat. I think in my household they’d like me to serve them and then eat.
So our body is designed for that, and the more insulin resistant we are, the more hot flashes we have, the more problems we have with diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease. The more likely we have inflammation, aches and pains, and lower quality of life. That’s the more insulin resistant. Hot flash is a big, big issue in these clients. What we’ll see very quickly as we shift to be more insulin sensitive through intermittent fasting and no more snacking, there’s none of these three meals, three snacks. That is just not a care. Eight-hour feeding windows, or even four-hour feeding windows. I’m like, “No, no. We don’t do that.”
We break fast and then we don’t eat again until our next meal, and no snacking. We hydrate in between because if we’re drinking all our fluids we’re supposed to be with our meals, we’re diluting our digestive enzyme that’s meant to break down the food. I mean, that’s just pure chemistry. We’re also flushing through partially digested food is one of the reasons why probably many people have [sebum 01:02:50]. So free refills with your meals, that’s destructive. I absolutely see an improvement in insulin sensitivity with my Keto-Green plan 100%, and even with myself because I have been traveling.
Came back from Portland the other day, I was wearing my monitor still as I’m playing with some feasting recipes. I wanted some dark chocolate, didn’t have any, but I had some dates in the house. I had five or six dates, which typically, three is my limit because that’s like my full carb count on three dates, but I had six dates. My blood sugar went up to 200, no lie, but it was only up there like for not even a few minutes. My interstitial glucose went up to around 180 or 200. I was shocked. I was like that was just six dates, but it was right back down again. I mean, insulin did the job it needed to do. I was pretty [inaudible 01:03:46] to see that. I was like, “Darn, darn.”
[01:03:49] Ashley James: No, that’s good. That’s actually great. That’s what your body’s supposed to do.
[01:03:55] Dr. Anna Cabeca: That information it’s exactly what it supposed to do, yes. No low either. It didn’t go way low to get that hypoglycemic as if I’d had simple carbs.
[01:04:04] Ashley James: Yeah. You ate five or five or six dates. They’re very, very high in sugar, but the sugar’s natural. It’s a fruit. It’s very concentrated. It’s like a superfood, but you don’t want to do it too excess. Every time I see dates in the store I’m like, “If I buy them we’re probably going to binge them.” They’re so good.
[01:04:26] Dr. Anna Cabeca: So bad. [Inaudible]… in baking.
[01:04:29] Ashley James: What I think I’m going to do the next time I buy dates is I’ll prepackage them in little reusable Ziploc bags. I’ll go, “Okay, here’s three at a time,” or something. Because you grab a bag of dates and then all of a sudden you realize you ate 10. They’re very sweet. With dates though it caused your blood sugar to go up, and then you saw it immediately go back down, and that means you have insulin sensitivity. Because insulin resistance means it stays high for a really long period of time, and that’s what causes the damage. This is my understanding, and please feel free to add more information.
That the longer we have high sugar, as the sugars high, so you’re sure was high for a very short period of time, and then it got back. It got into the cell because the insulin brought it into the cells. It left the bloodstream, and then your cells were able to turn it to energy, and that’s exactly what they’re supposed to do, but if the insulin receptors are not working correctly with insulin, then the blood sugar stays outside of the cell. So the cells are starving and we are having high blood sugar for a longer period of time in the blood on the outside, and that causes inflammation and damage to the cardiovascular system and to our brain, which is what Dr. Ayman is seeing.
That high blood sugar is causing dementia and causing basically holes in the brain, in the cardiovascular system of the brain. The culprit is the insulin resistance, and of course, the bad diet, which causes it. But you’re seeing that your Keto-Green way is balancing insulin sensitivity, bringing back insulin sensitivity, and balancing blood sugar, and it’s also affecting the cortisol and the oxytocin. I’d love to hear more about what you’re seeing in these hormones as they’re balancing.
[01:06:35] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Yeah, well I agree with you 100%. A big part on blood sugar in the brain, which is so eye-opening to me, is that gluconeogenesis and the brain, ability for the brain to use glucose for fuel, is an estrogen-dependent phenomenon. So as our hormones start to decline, especially progesterone—when progesterone starts to decline and now in this time of stress high cortisol, I mean progesterone is needed to make cortisol. It’s also higher up on the food chain, so to speak than estrogen and testosterone. So as our body is pushing to make our stress hormones, we’re also depleting our reproductive hormones even more.
In the case of estrogen needed to be on board for gluconeogenesis in the brain, the brain fog, the dementia, the memory loss, the some timers—my patients would sometimes call it some timers. “I have some timers, Dr. Anna. What should I do?” I had experienced that, but ketones are not estrogen-dependent, so that is why getting Keto-Green is really mandatory for really every woman over 40, and periodically. We bump into ketosis and then we have a couple of feast days and we bump out. We want that metabolic flexibility, that’s just part of life and living. That’s okay, but we need to use ketones for fueling the brain to eliminate that starvation mode despite having an abundance of glucose, which is they are causing damage and oxidation.
[01:08:08] Ashley James: Now, could we get the same results if we ate, let’s say, a whole food plant-based diet where we were eating 9-12 cups of a variety of vegetables a day, and then doing intermittent fasting or water only fasting three days a week or something where our body’s going into ketosis because we’re not eating for three days, or eating very, very little like drinking broth or something. Our body goes into ketosis naturally because we’re fasting, and then we come out of it, and we eat lots and lots of vegetables. Instead of eating high fat, could we get the same results by eating plants, and then fasting, and going back and forth between the two, or is there something magic in eating high fat as well?
[01:09:03] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Really, we need the flexibility, Ashley. In my program, I encourage extended fasting as well. I’m absolutely encouraging it because we want our body to make its ketones, not just from the fat we’re eating. We want to encourage that, and there’s a place for fasting. Before I make a major decision, I fast for three days. I make sure I’m Keto-Green for sure, but I’ll certainly do an extended fasting, and that makes a difference in our lives. It really does, especially the older we get. We get that clarity, we really get that alertness, and really, if we’re doing it right, we are even more energized. I have in Keto-Green 16 because I have a lot of clients, for personal reasons, they’re vegans or vegetarians. I don’t judge.
I created a plan to help them get Keto-Green and be a vegetarian or vegan. I want them to have enough protein, enough healthy fats, and to incorporate principles so that they can experience the same benefits. Because of this whole inflammatory factor, many of my vegetarian clients breathing way too many carbohydrates, and their hemoglobin A1cs were unacceptable. In this way, through lifestyle, through intermittent fasting, through low carbohydrate protein sources, increasing healthy fats, and spacing the meals, that helps them improve insulin sensitivity. Certainly, with my plant-based eaters, extended fasting is very doable and desirable as well. For me too, at least once a month, I’m doing three days of fasting.
[01:10:54] Ashley James: I love it. I think I shared this in our last interview, but for those that didn’t hear it, I had a very interesting experience with the ketogenic diet. I feel like I eating way healthier than the dirty keto, but I wasn’t eating as clean as the Keto-Green. We were eating vegetables like kale, but I feel like we were eating more meat. It felt almost close to an Atkins diet, which I think a lot of people accidentally do. When they’re trying to achieve Keto, they end up going Atkins. It’s not about the 24-ounce steak on your plate with some butter. That’s not ketogenic. It was doctor-led.
We, my husband and I, did it for three months. Weekly meeting with a Naturopath, testing our blood ketones and testing everything and our blood sugar. Every week we’d adjust the diet based on what our results were, and she also would hook us up to this machine that would test to make sure that we’re not losing muscle mass. Then we had our labs done. My husband had kidney damage so bad he had to be put on two medications. My liver became so inflamed that I went for an ultrasound, and they said my liver was very inflamed. All my liver enzymes were through the roof. My doctor said that if it didn’t start to go down she wanted me to get a liver biopsy. It was really scary to see that a diet, which was doctor-led, could cause so much damage.
It took us over a year to get my husband healthy enough, to heal his kidneys so that he could get off of those two medications. I did a lot of work to heal my liver. It took me a while. It made me shy of the ketogenic diet. Looking at it, I see, “Okay, yeah. You know what, it was probably more meat and definitely not enough vegetables.” I feel like you’re diet, Keto-Green, there should be a different name for it. We could disassociate your diet from the Atkins, keto dirty diet that a lot of people out there are doing.
Now, my husband and I were not doing cheese because both of us are dairy sensitive. But we were doing a lot of bacon, a lot of ghee. We were doing a lot of nuts, and a lot of coconut oil, and a little bit of kale, and a lot of bulletproof coffee—a ton of bulletproof coffee. Very acidic foods besides the kale, very acidic. I’m sure if we had tested our pH, which man that was missing. Because if we had tested our pH, we would have seen early on, “Hey, something is unhealthy here.” We might have been able to course-correct and not do that damage.
I want to share my experience to help the listeners know that just any keto diet is not okay. That there’s a significant risk if you do the dirty keto or Atkins. Have you seen this in your clinic? Have you seen people have really unhealthy results from a keto diet that isn’t your version, which is incredibly alkalizing?
[01:14:48] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Yeah, absolutely. I hear from clients all the time that, “I tried keto before, and I hit a wall. I tried keto before, I didn’t feel good.” I mean that’s what it was for me, I didn’t feel good. The inflammatory markers can definitely increase in keto. There is a right way and a wrong way to do it, and that’s how it is. Especially men have 10 times as much testosterone as women. That’s very protective. We are more fragile when it comes to this, so we have that alkaline piece. I can’t emphasize it enough. Plus the choice of foods, the menus, the recipes. In Keto-Green 16, 16 key ingredient types for hormone balancing, for good protein sources, for digestion, and just name it.
It’s really designed to be very balanced, healthy, and get results at the same time. Absolutely. There are women who all have had so many significant problems. In fact, I just had this testimonial that came in today, let me see if I can find it real quick, that was from one of my clients in my Magic Menopause program. I have a 10-day Breeze Through Menopause program. She said, “I’ve been having hot flashes for three years. My OB-GYN put me on a medication normally used to treat depression but was also known to help hot flashes. The medication helped ease the intensity but not get rid of them. I decided to try the Breeze Through Menopause program. On my fourth day, I noticed I didn’t have any hot flashes. I was so excited but thought it was a fluke. I completed the program one month ago, and I followed The Hormone Fix. I have not had a hot flash since. Doing regular keto made me feel terrible, but your way just made the difference,” Donna.
[01:16:43] Ashley James: I just wish there was a different name. We need to erase dirty keto from our mind and Atkins, just erase it.
[01:16:58] Dr. Anna Cabeca: When we’re talking about ketogenic it’s the creation of ketones, but when we think of a ketogenic diet—high-fat, bacon, and butter—we think about that keto dirty diet. But getting our body into ketosis gives us so many benefits, it really does. A high energy source. We’ll have to come up with another name. For now, it’s Keto-Green, Keto-Green 16.
[01:17:25] Ashley James: I love it. I love it. Can you tell us some of the 16 foods that are in the Keto-Green 16 book?
[01:17:32] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Yes. Certainly healthy meats like grass-fed beef and bison, wild-caught fish like salmon or a white fish. Those are great choices. Avocado gets its own category. I just think it’s so great.
[01:17:46] Ashley James: I have an avocado every day. It’s so great.
[01:17:50] Dr. Anna Cabeca: So good, so good. My heart hurts for people with avocado sensitivities. They’re so good. Also, that’s very rare, but every once in a while, I come across someone.
[01:18:00] Ashley James: My son is allergic to avocado. If he avocado just touches his food he gets asthma. He has a severe allergy. There was a California roll or something and I took the avocado out but there is trace amounts, and he immediately got asthma. He’s so allergic to avocado, which is really sad. It’s so sad because he used to love it. He just developed the allergy, just boom, all of a sudden. I eat an avocado every day. I just love it. I can feel for the people who have avocado sensitivities. I definitely want to finish your list, but just tell us, why is avocado such a superfood?
[01:18:40] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Healthy fats, minerals, nutrients. It’s just one of that. I don’t know. It’s really this protective fruit, really. Just from the fatty nature that it has and it’s rich in phytonutrients. I don’t know. It’s just one of those delicious superfoods.
[01:19:05] Ashley James: It has fiber. It’s also the satiety factor. I can have an avocado and that’s it. I’ll eat up avocado maybe with some greens or some sauerkraut because I’m really busy. I’ll just throw it on some greens like a salad, and boom, four, five, six hours later I’m good. I don’t have to eat. It’s really wonderful for that satiety.
[01:19:35] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Because it has that healthy fat in there too, and that it’s creamy. When you’re eating it, it’s creamy and delicious typically. That’s a nice sensation when we’re eating it too. Putting a little bit of avocado into your smoothies makes them so creamy, and making some great desserts like key lime pie with avocado. I’ve come up with some great recipes.
[01:19:59] Ashley James: Are you kidding me? Is that is one of your recipes?
[01:20:02] Dr. Anna Cabeca: So good. Yes, that is one of my recipes. That’s one of my favorite recipes. It’s either in The Hormone Fix or Keto-Green 16. It’s probably in The Hormone Fix. If not, it’s one of my bonus recipes. Key Lime Avocado Pie, let me tell you. We found some really great ways to use avocado. Then you mentioned sauerkraut. Fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut, kimchi, that’s one of the sixteen. Some of them are categories. Cruciferous vegetables because we need that for healthy hormone metabolism, and lots of good fiber so cabbage, broccoli. You can mix and match. You can substitute any cruciferous vegetable for the other, but they’re all so good for us and for hormone balancing. Those are some of them.
Added in a couple of fruits for digestive enzymes to use as part of our evening meal, but if it keeps us from getting into ketosis, I recommend that we eliminate it. Papaya, mango, and pineapple. Again, just the not overly ripe, just ripe, just right so that it’s not too much sugar. A little bit goes a long way, and it really does help at the end of a meal, adding a little bit of digestive support, plus it’s a fresh fruit for dessert. We get a little bit of that in there in the plan, but yet if it’s too much to keep us out of ketosis, we just eliminate it temporarily. Those are some, and then of course, onions.
The concept between the greens and the different ingredients, we want things that are going to support our detoxification in our metabolism that have methylators, sulfurators. Rich ingredients to help with, again, hormone balance and decrease inflammation in our system also help with elimination. Many people on a ketogenic diet have a lot of trouble with constipation. Everyone really needs to have a bowel movement a day. That’s part of it too, part of a plan.
[01:22:14] Ashley James: How many grams of fiber are on your program would you say per day?
[01:22:20] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Well, in carbs in general, I didn’t separate fiber grams but about 40 grams of carbs.
[01:22:27] Ashley James: On your program, people have at least one bowel movement a day?
[01:22:35] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Mm-hmm.
[01:22:37] Ashley James: That’s much different from the dirty keto, which is very constipating.
[01:22:43] Dr. Anna Cabeca: It’s the other things like the instructions to drink in between your meals, not with your meals. To really chew your food until it dissolves in your mouth versus swallowing half-eaten bites of food, which I know I’ve done. Also, intermittent fasting can really help. Plus, if we need to, probiotics, magnesium, vitamin C because I instruct, if you’re getting constipated, you have to do these things. Increase your oil, adding extra olive oil can be beneficial to help with that too or omega-3 supplementing. But we have to have bowel movements every day. That’s definitely one of the objectives.
[01:23:23] Ashley James: How do you handle the keto flu? In the first three, four days of doing the ketogenic diet, people feel flu-like symptoms. They feel pretty crappy because their body’s been depending on glucose. It’s run out of all the glucose in the muscles and in the liver, and now it’s just starting to turn over into making ketones for fuel. But somewhere around there, as we’re being deplete in glucose, we haven’t quite yet got the ketones up. We’re feeling pretty crappy. How is it that your program lessens that?
[01:24:02] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Because of the alkalinity factor. I really push towards getting alkaline first. Getting alkaline first, hydrating really well, and then we don’t get keto flu or keto crazy as a result of it. Nope, not at all. I have worked with clients. They’re like, “Oh, I just went right into ketosis.” I’m like, “Well, you didn’t follow instructions. Let’s do this. Stop what you’re doing and let’s backtrack.” It does, it makes a difference. We don’t want anything that’s going to create more free radicals or inflammation. Granted, keto flu, it will eventually come to an end at some point or another, but that’s not what this is about. It’s not. I want healthy from step one. I want to feel good from step two. I mean, I want to feel good right away. Why would I do it? Why would I do it again, and again, and again? That’s my… [inaudible 01:25:02].
[01:25:03] Ashley James: Yeah, absolutely. You don’t want to feel sick while you’re eating to get healthy. What the heck? If you’re feeling sick, there’s something wrong. That’s your body saying there’s something wrong. So you’re saying that when people get the keto flu it’s because they’re acidic and they’re dehydrated.
[01:25:20] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Right, right.
[01:25:22] Ashley James: Very interesting. Would that be the same? Would you say that people should get alkaline and hydrated before they start a three-day water fast? That would be the same concept that we should go into it.
[01:25:34] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Absolutely.
[01:25:35] Ashley James: My friend, who eats a whole food plant-based diet, we both do, she eats probably 12 cups of green vegetables a day, at least, or drinks them. She makes a smoothie that’s kind of insane. She fills the Vitamix with all kinds of wonderful greens. It’s great. She pushes her Vitamix to the limit. She recently went on a five-day fast, water-only fast. I did a fast recently too. We were both expecting to feel some weakness. Imagine yourself, because every time we fast is usually when we’re sick in bed like, I’m too sick to eat, right? Most people don’t go, “I’m just not going to eat for a few days and see what happens.”
What we noticed is that we had more energy, not less. That we didn’t get shaky, we didn’t get weak. We actually were more motivated. She said, “I can’t believe it. I am doing things around the house.” She listed off everything. It was 11:00 in the morning. She listed up 20 things. She goes, “It’s not even noon yet. I did more in a half a day than I normally do in an entire week.” She just noticed that emotionally, her motivation went through the roof. That’s really, really exciting that this idea of getting the body alkaline, and then getting into a ketogenic state, whether we’re fasting or eating the Keto-Green diet, would improve our mood, improve our mental clarity, but also improve our motivation, and our drive to do things in life. Have you seen that as well in your clinic?
[01:27:25] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Absolutely, absolutely. In my own life, are you kidding me? It’s like oh my gosh. I’m looking at my room right now. I’m like, yeah, I need about a three-day fast. That’s why I fast before I do any major decision to really gain that clarity. I always joke, and I’ve said this on stage. At that point I was 48, I had brain fog, mental fatigue, I was making some really bad decisions. I was making some really bad decisions. I mean, I was even engaged to the wrong person, let me tell you. I made some bad decisions, and that’s brain fog. We can’t have that. There’s just so, so many references to fasting, biblically certainly, and in so many religions around the world.
I really believe the reason is that higher spiritual connection, that clarity that removes all the clutter, takes off the ceiling, takes off the roof so to speak, and really have that higher level of connection. That’s why it’s this energized enlightenment that we experience with the Keto-Green plan. Getting alkaline and in ketosis at the same time, it changes our electromagnetic energy, changes our physiology. It raises our vibration without a doubt, and that’s where we want to be. If we’re going to do it, it takes a little bit more tweaking to get Keto-Green, but it raises our vibration. It feels so much better.
The same with fasting. Again, as you discovered, actually, once you get through day two, because our ghrelin hormone is so high on day two, it gets easier. It just gets easier.
[01:29:02] Ashley James: I love it. Oh yeah, the ghrelin hormone. Aren’t there three hormones that affect hunger?
[01:29:13] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Yes. There’s leptin which is that we’re satiated, and there’s ghrelin, which is like the gremlin, the hunger hormone, and that makes us feel hungry. There are a few others, but adiponectin is another one that affects our appetite and also our metabolism. As we get older, that one goes down as well. I really believe that’s tied to a different biologic clock than our reproductive clock hence that 5, 10, 20-pound weight gain without doing anything different. It has a lot to do with the adiponectin hormone. Those are the three major ones that I deal with in really working through this program. There are actually 13 hormones that I talked about in Keto-Green 16 just for awareness that it’s complex, and the plan I created addresses every one of them.
[01:30:09] Ashley James: Have you ever tested those three hormones that affect hunger and satiety in patients before and after doing your program?
[01:30:19] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Only adiponectin so far, not really leptin and ghrelin. I think that is really pulsatile so I think it’s hard to test, and not so sure on the results with adiponectin. In the couple clients, testing myself and testing a couple of their colleagues, we see a little bit of an improvement, but not much. We didn’t really see moving the needle significantly with that, but we definitely have seen the scale move in our hemoglobin A1c improve.
[01:30:50] Ashley James: I had my levels tested a few years ago. My entire adult life I’ve been dieting. I’ve been dieting for health, I’ve been dieting for weight loss, and I’ve been working on healing my body my entire adult life. In my 20s I was incredibly sick. It was in my late 20s that I started to turn my life around. I was able to heal type 2 diabetes, chronic adrenal fatigue, chronic infections for which I needed monthly antibiotics for, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and infertility. I was very sick, so using food and supplements to fill in the gaps, I navigated. I had to go, “Okay, this works, this doesn’t work.” I had to keep shifting my diet and finding. I’d go three steps up, one step back, and I just keep going.
My whole 30s has been about healing my body. I have to look at it from every angle because health isn’t just physical, it’s emotional, and spiritual as well, and mental. I had to look at, well, what’s going on emotionally and mentally that am I overeating? Why don’t I feel full at times? Why is my plate bigger than other people’s plates? Is it that my metabolism is different, are my hormones different? What’s going on? Is that emotionally I’m doing something? I found that no matter what, I just never felt full. I never felt satiated. Even if I ate a full meal, I always felt there was something missing.
So I did emotional work, I did mental work. I’m very happy for the personal growth. I put years into growing as a person. Then I came across these hormones about satiety and hunger. I had to also work on my relationship with hunger. When I start to feel hungry what emotions come up for me? There’s this fear response. What’s going on there? Is this part of our ancient neurology to be afraid of starvation, or is this something that I have for my childhood? I did a lot of personal work, but I also went and got these hormones tested, and sure enough, they were so out of whack.
They were so out of whack my doctor, she’s a Naturopath, and she goes, “No wonder. No wonder you feel the way you feel.” She explained it. “Your brain thinks you’re a 90-pound starving person. Your brain is getting the wrong signals from your body. Your brain is saying, “Quick, we need more nutrients. We’re starving, we’re starving, we’re starving.” I’ve been fighting, I was fighting against these hormones because everything was out of balance. Everything interplays with each other, and you’ve described this, but this whole endocrine system is not compartmentalized. They’re all affecting the cortisol, and oxytocin, and the insulin, and all of our sex hormones. They all play off of each other and affect each other. Of course, everything I was eating was affecting them, and here I was fighting with food to figure out, what’s going on? Why am I always hungry? Why am I never satiated?
Switching to eating a whole food plant-based diet, for me, it’s like it turned something on in my brain. Maybe it was all the fiber, maybe it was the alkalizing, maybe it was all the vegetables, maybe it was cutting out processed food, maybe it was all of them. But I feel satiated. It’s past 1:00 PM here. I haven’t had breakfast. I haven’t had lunch. I feel fine. I feel great. If I feel hungry, it comes and goes really fast, and the panic in my body doesn’t happen. I’d love to go back and get my three hormones tested again just to show, but I could feel it in my body. I’ve shifted something big, and I’ve been doing this eating more alkaline for the last two years now, and I just really feel that eating the way you described where you’re eating getting healthy fats like avocados. If you eat meat that you make sure it’s the cleanest meat possible. If you fish, you’re getting the wild-caught. You’re eating really clean, no processed foods, and you’re getting tons of vegetables, and you’re focusing on alkalizing your body.
I felt so desperate for so many years, and I felt I was suffering for so many years. Then just the light bulb went on when I switched into eating this way. It’s just so healing. It’s so healing. My body’s now coming back into balance. I’d love to see more research done on those three hormones, but I can tell you that I feel it. You must see it with your clients because you said, they’re getting tremendous results with balancing their weight and balancing their hormones. I’d love to hear about the feedback of how their relationship with food changed emotionally.
[01:36:20] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Oh my gosh. That’s such a big topic. I feel like I wrote this book for women like you, for women like me, for those of us that have been a slave to our physiology, that’s been screwed up because we were just doing the wrong stuff. We thought we were doing right, but we’re doing the wrong stuff. There’s that physiologic imprinting, so to speak, the habits that are formed. Like I said, I used to go to bed thinking about food and wake up thinking about food. I was a slave to hunger. My mom was a baker growing up. I could drink syrup, basically. I had such a sweet tooth. I love it, I love it.
That hormone ghrelin, that’s a really big one. That hunger hormone is a really big one for women and men to override, but it is possible. That’s where the healthy fats are so necessary, and that’s where blood sugar stabilization is so necessary, that’s where the combination of foods, and ingredients, and when and how we’re eating is so important to master because physiologically, it honors our physiology, and we’re in control, and no longer feel like we’re in a battle with willpower. Because willpower is not an issue anymore, it’s just like okay. We’re not a slave to a habit, or physiology, or the ghrelin hormone, or the hunger hormones, or becoming leptin resistant. We never feel satisfied. Oh my gosh. Did you ever see the Hamilton musical, Ashley?
[01:37:47] Ashley James: I haven’t. I haven’t. It’s not here in Seattle.
[01:37:50] Dr. Anna Cabeca: So good, so good, but there’s a song in there, I will never be satisfied. You just got to listen to the soundtrack. It’s a great song. I mean, that should be my theme song, seriously.
[01:37:59] Ashley James: Okay, I’ll check it out.
[01:38:02] Dr. Anna Cabeca: You’ll have to listen to it. It’s great. It really is very interesting how our hormones can drive us versus us drive our hormones. I lecture on hormones all over the world, you know that. I lecture on testosterone and estrogen, and one of my big peeves with some of these testosterone clinics is that look, testosterone can increase your novelty-seeking behavior. Can create divorces, can create affairs because you’re upleveling the testosterone into super physiologic zones, and that affects mental reasoning, without a doubt. Behavior affects physiology, and physiology is affected by behavior.
In the plans, and I laid it out in The Hormone Fix in really good detail. I just kind of blended it in Keto-Green 16 by creating a lifestyle, creating patterns, creating behaviors that empower our physiology like intermittent fasting, like no more snacking, like feeling satisfied enough out of a meal with the combination of foods that we’ve eaten to not have that hunger in between meals. A little bit of hunger is okay. We recognize that. A little bit, right? A reasonable amount. It’s okay to say, okay I’m not overstuffed at a meal, not to be completely full or overstuffed at a meal either. To start to dial those things in. That’s okay too. It’s listening to our body and empowering our physiology.
I was totally a slave to my physiology with willpower, and hunger, and binge eating, and struggling for decades of my life. It was only over the last decade and a little bit that I’ve been liberated from that.
[01:39:47] Ashley James: I love it. We can use food as medicine to heal our body. I’ve interviewed four or five cardiologists now. All of them use slightly different diets, and they all get great results at healing the heart, but the one that has the hands-down best results with healing heart disease, and reversing—even four blockages in the heart—reversing heart disease, and angina, and high blood pressure, is Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn. His diet is very low fat, although, he says you can have a handful of nuts and seeds a day. There are zero oil and zero animals or animal products in his diet. It’s tons of vegetables, and I mean tons of vegetables, whole grains, and potatoes, but mostly vegetables.
He sees very rapidly clogs in the heart clear up. He’s got people, basically, off of death’s door. That’s a very specific diet. That diet would not be optimal for healing hormones. You’ve talked about hormones need fat, but if someone has heart disease and they’re on death’s door, go do that diet because he’s published studies and shown that that diet is incredibly healing for the heart. If we’ve got hormone imbalance and we don’t have heart disease, then this diet is shown to be healing. There’s no one diet that fixes everyone. That would be ludicrous to think that we could put everyone in one diet and be perfect because everyone’s got different health problems. We have to triage.
[01:41:38] Dr. Anna Cabeca: On that note too, men and women are different, right? Men have 10 times as much testosterone as women. They have bigger muscle mass than we do, bigger bone mass than we do. There are differences between men and women. The menopausal women need something different for sure, not just for hormone imbalance, but for cardiovascular protection. We need healthy hormone levels, healthy estrogen, healthy progesterone, healthy DHEA. We need as much testosterone as we can get circulating for healthy bones. This is really important. We know statin medications lower cholesterol, lower our testosterone levels.
We look at this, but it’s not just what we eat. This is where it’s not just about the diet, it’s not just about what we eat. The when, the with who, the other aspects of what we’re eating and what we eat ate become really critically important. Timing of meals, intermittent fasting, no more snacking. These principles give us more flexibility too in what we’re eating so we can fine-tune it for us. But ultimately, we have to test not guess. In the case of the cardiologist, monitoring the patient so we’re seeing improvement. We have to do as much of that as we can. We have to self-monitor as much as possible. How am I feeling? How does this resonate with me? What results am I getting? How’s my urine pH test? Everyone’s going to go get some urine pH and ketone test strips right now.
[01:43:08] Ashley James: You’re going to give us the link. We’ll put it in the show notes.
[01:43:13] Dr. Anna Cabeca: It’s so important. By figuring that out, discovering what works for us and what doesn’t work for us I think that’s critical. It’s not just about following a diet plan, it’s a lifestyle. It’s a lifestyle within what we know works for us. Within our fasting regimen, I’ll say, 80% Keto-Green regimen and then another 10% feasting regimen so that we’re having, we’re experiencing life, we’re laughing, we’re playing, we’re doing more of the things that really are as if not more important than what we’re eating. I love that there are different things, different ways for people to explore and play, and ultimately, to see and decide what works best for them.
It can be different over time. What I did in my 30s and early 40s, I mean, it stopped working when I hit 48. Despite not doing anything different, the scale moved. The brain fog, came on, and all that stuff. The timing too and maybe different stress levels in our life too. We have to do different things as well. That’s important to realize.
[01:44:28] Ashley James: Your message is really relevant now because the whole world is stressed out. In the next year, we’re going to see women’s health decline across the board because stress affects hormones, and hormone imbalance affects women’s entire life. It affects our brain, our ability to function, it’s very significant. Your message is very relevant right now and for the coming year. Stress is always going to be there, we’ve got to do things to mitigate stress. But using the pH test strips for example and going, “Oh wow. Okay. I’ve got to do something to balance my stress because I was watching the news yesterday, and my pH has gone down, that my acidity has gone up.” For those people that don’t know, like you said, 7 is good pH in the AM, but some of us don’t remember it from high school science. Can you talk about the pH scale, and what’s good, and what’s not good?
[01:45:42] Dr. Anna Cabeca: In general, our pH scale is 0 to 14, so the lower the number the more acidic we are. When we think of acidity, I always like to think of acidity like New York City—industrial, a lot of concrete, kind of inflammatory. Alkalinity, all the way at the other end of the scale, from 7 to 14 that’s on the alkaline side. Think of the Amazon jungle. Think lush, greenery, think of being outside, enjoying yourself, a waterfall in the background. I mean, it just sounds lovely. So that’s more alkalinity. Again, our blood pH stays around 7.4. Different parts of our body have different pHs. Our stomach is very, very acidic, and the vaginal pH is acidic to kill off sperm and bacteria. It’s naturally acidic. It gets more alkaline as we get older. The skin has a lower acid pH, and again, it’s part of our defense mechanism.
Then different areas are more alkaline, which is so fascinating to me how the body is so interconnected, and yet there are organelles running at different pHs. Pretty cool. How it can shift based on what we’re experiencing, but urinary-wise, again, emphasizing we want to see that urine pH at 7.4-7.5 above that in general, but most people when they start checking, they’re at a urine pH of 5 or 6. A lot of shifting has to be done. Now, I forgot your question.
[01:47:29] Ashley James: You answered most of it. It was, explain the pH scale for those who don’t know it. You did beautifully and brought in the analogy of New York City versus the Amazon jungle, 1 to 7 being acidic or New York City, 7 to 14 being alkaline. A 7 is sort of the middle, right? But neutral.
[01:47:51] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Neutral. Seven is neutral.
[01:47:53] Ashley James: Then upwards towards 14 is the Amazon jungle. That we don’t want to alkalize our stomach acid, for example. Don’t take a bunch of baking soda right before a meal. We don’t want to alkalize our stomach acid. We actually want to support the acidity of our stomach acid to help us have healthy digestion, and that’s a whole other topic because most heartburn is caused by too little stomach acid not too much. I’ve had several guests talk about that on the show, pH in different parts of the body, very interesting, but the pH that we can learn from is our urine.
What numbers are really good to see throughout the day? You said if we had a 7 in the morning, our first-morning pee, if it’s a 7 that’s great, but throughout the day, it would be different, right? What are good parameters to see throughout the day?
[01:48:51] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Definitely depending on your activity level. To really maintain it, 7, 7.5, or 7 to 8 throughout the day, at least above 6.5. Now granted though, after a workout, after a hard run, anything like that, after a stressful situation, you’re going to be more acidic. After a good workout, you’re going to rehydrate, have a good Keto-Green shake, something like that. So you want to really work to optimize so that you run a urine pH 7 to higher. Now, if you’re going to bed acidic and waking up acidic, you’re probably not sleeping well. Your body’s probably not repairing itself well while you’re sleeping. So if we can shift to get alkaline before we get to sleep, and then ideally wake up alkaline.
Now it can take a lot of time for some people, especially if you have high blood sugar or other chronic inflammatory conditions, but don’t give up, be persistent, continue to see what works for you and what doesn’t. We can supplement with additional minerals like magnesium at bedtime and even hormones, certainly, like progesterone. During this time of stress, adding progesterone, if we’re over 40, at bedtime on a cyclical basis can be very beneficial for us too, because again, stress will produce cortisol, which we rob progesterone to make so to speak.
There may be some additional hormones that we can use or adrenal adaptogens like my Mighty Maca Plus. One of the reasons I created it with the combination of ingredients was to add those alkalinizers, so think chlorella, spirulina, and maca is an adaptogenic alkaline root. There’s turmeric in there so we can make a turmeric tonic, a turmeric tea. We can add some green tea during the day. That’s also an alkaline tea. Adding some of those, that’s like 30 superfoods in my Maca Plus, Ashley. It’s a good combination.
[01:50:52] Ashley James: I love it. I love your Mighty Maca Plus.
[01:50:55] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Thank you.
[01:50:56] Ashley James: I’m sorry. I totally interrupted you because I’m so excited. It tastes so good, and my body buzzes in a good way. If you eat a really great kale salad your body’s just buzzing. It’s like, woo, your body’s so excited. My body gets so excited when I drink your Mighty Maca Plus. It’s refreshing, it tastes delicious, and I don’t drink coffee anymore, but it would be a great replacement for coffee. It feels so good. Actually, I ran out, and I’m like, “Oh man. I could totally go for some right now,” because it is so delicious.
[01:51:31] Dr. Anna Cabeca: I’m going to send you some.
[01:51:33] Ashley James: I love some. I totally recommend listeners buy and try it. It’s delicious. Try replacing your coffee or your tea with it because the maca has natural caffeine, but it wasn’t overstimulating. I could totally fall asleep at night, and I’m very sensitive to caffeine. If I were to have chocolate, like a little bit of dark chocolate at 4:00 PM, I can’t sleep. That’s how sensitive I am to caffeine. Your drink, I could drink it during the morning. I even had some in the afternoon, and I totally was able to get into sleep, so I found it to be very gentle, but my body buzzed. I love it. It’s so delicious.
You talked all about your journey, and how you discovered the ingredients, and formulated it in episode 326, so listeners can go back and check that out. That is awesome.
[01:52:30] Dr. Anna Cabeca: That’s awesome. We’ll give your audience a free trial too. We have now four single pack, so a four-day trial of it. Just give it a try, taste it, because the biggest fear factor with greens is the taste, right?
[01:52:44] Ashley James: It tastes amazing.
[01:52:45] Dr. Anna Cabeca: It looks like fear factor, but it does taste.
[01:52:48] Ashley James: No, it has almost a little bit of a mint flavor to it. At least that’s what I perceive, but I thought it was delicious. It was very refreshing. It tastes very refreshing. I enjoy it tremendously. That’s fantastic. So we’ll get the link to that and put it in the show notes, so listeners can check out your four-day trial as well. That’s wonderful. Before we wrap up, I wanted to cover this last topic. You talk about cortisol, oxytocin, and how you can get to the point. So for those who don’t know what these two hormones are, cortisol—the stress hormone, oxytocin is the feel-good love hormone. If you hug someone for 30 seconds you get a boost of oxytocin.
I had a friend that would count as we hugged because she’s like, “We got to get the oxytocin. Let’s count to 30 together and hug each other,” so it always stuck in my mind. Cuddling your animal, your dog, or cat, or your children, or your husband, or wife, or whatever. You got to cuddle for more than a five-second hug. It’s got to be a long hug and then you get this oxytocin, but you were talking about how we can get disconnected. Women live in the state of cortisol to the point of burnout, but we can get disconnected where we don’t feel oxytocin, where we’re not feeling the joy in life, we’re not feeling the satisfaction. Even to the point where we’re not just feeling the love for our family or for ourselves.
Suicide is on the rise. It is very scary especially in the generation, I believe, ages 10 to 24 it went up over 50% in the last few years. It’s the number two cause of death in that generational cohort. So suicide is on the rise. I imagine if someone has a cortisol-oxytocin disconnect, especially for veterans who come back from the war. They have a tremendous amount of cortisol, and you’re talking about this disconnect. Can you explain how that works in the body that we have a disconnect, or where we can’t feel our oxytocin, and how can we correct it?
[01:55:05] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Yes, absolutely. Because I’ve lived it, and I am definitely worried about our society too with the social isolation add that into the hormonal, physiologic disconnect that we’ll be experiencing if we don’t take these practices to heart. That’s why I’m so passionate about getting this message out, Ashley. This cortisol-oxytocin disconnect is when cortisol goes high, oxytocin goes low. There’s that, okay, if cortisol is high and I’m fighting an enemy, you don’t need to love your enemy. Okay, God, I know what you said. Love your enemy. There’s a reason for that practice, right? There’s some philosophy behind that statement because I mean, hate it affects our liver, it affects our detoxification organ. I mean, it really does. Cortisol goes up, oxytocin goes down, and then when cortisol is up for a long enough period of time, it’s like frying out our nervous system.
So the constant hits of oxytocin, the news in the morning, and the afternoon at night, or daily, and just fear. Fearful thoughts, real or perceived fear, is going to affect our cortisol levels. So when cortisol is up for a long enough period of time, it’s basically frying our nervous system, but our brain is smart enough not to let that happen. So a command center in the brain called the paraventricular nucleus turns and shuts down that cortisol, so it’s like putting the brakes on cortisol. So all of a sudden, now cortisol is low and oxytocin is low at the same time. So you feel disconnected like, “I know I love my husband, I don’t feel love for him. I know I love my work, I don’t feel love for work. I know I love to paint, I just don’t ever pick up the paintbrush anymore.” Whatever it is. The activities I love to do I’ve stopped doing. Also, you stop going out, stop taking social engagements, stop interacting, more and more isolated, and that’s a physiologic disconnect.
Now what’s really interesting is there was a recent article published at the end of 2019 that looked at soybean oil because soybean oil has been used in so many food manufacturing businesses, and frying, and this [that 01:57:16] and the other. Well apparently, soybean oil can affect our oxytocin receptor site too. That’s pretty crazy, right? That’s just really crazy. So kind of getting a generation hit from both ways between we’re in a war against a virus right now and how we eat. By getting Keto-Green, getting the ketosis part creates insulin sensitivity. The green part manages cortisol and empowers oxytocin. That getting alkaline part is learning not just about how we need to nourish our body but the activities and lifestyles that temper cortisol and increase oxytocin. That’s where we really honor and empower our physiology. We have the mental clarity, the joy, and the passion to do it.
[01:58:08] Ashley James: I love it. We all could use less cortisol and more oxytocin.
[01:58:15] Dr. Anna Cabeca: More oxytocin, yes, yes, yes. Laughter increases oxytocin.
[01:58:21] Ashley James: Now, I’ve heard that during fasting we have a spike in cortisol. Have you seen this?
[01:58:27] Dr. Anna Cabeca: I haven’t measured it, but yes, I’ve heard that.
[01:58:31] Ashley James: We get all these great health benefits from fasting, and so the increase in cortisol is, I guess, part of that. It doesn’t create negative outcomes.
[01:58:47] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Not for short duration. I don’t believe so, no. I’m not 100% sure why physiologically we do have a spike of cortisol, unless that’s to get glucose like a spike in glucose as well. So increased cortisol, increase glucose to just squeeze any of that out through fasting, that kind of life-saving mechanism. But I agree, I don’t think it’s detrimental in the short term. It’s when it’s on persistently, that’s the issue.
[01:59:21] Ashley James: Right. We want cortisol to be there. If all of a sudden a boulder’s in our way when we’re driving or something, we have to react quickly. If we have to react quickly, we want the stress hormone to help us stay alive, and then we want it to turn off, and turn the feel-good oxytocin back on. Fasting, although has been around forever, it was taboo for so long in the United States. I feel just since 2012 we’re just starting to study it. All the studies are coming out. It’s starting to become more acceptable to study. It’s becoming more acceptable for doctors to prescribe it. The next 10 years is going to be very interesting to see all the results that come out from intermittent fasting, and from water-only fasting, and from one meal a day, all these different things. Of course, there have been studies here and there, but really, just in the last 10 years, we’re starting to see a spike in acceptability within the medical field. So it’s very exciting.
We’ll see more information come to light about cortisol’s role and how fasting affects the different hormones. Because we have to get over this idea, and I think we’ve just been marketed too that we need to eat three meals a day. It was really good marketing for the food industry to make lots of money. Look at what our ancestors did. Our ancestors went long periods of time without food, and our grandparents would eat breakfast, and then work in the fields, and not eat lunch, and come home, and then eat dinner, and that was normal. So it’s normal for us to not snack like you said. No snacking between meals.
[02:01:15] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Right. Absolutely. No snacking between meals. Even for religions, over the centuries, fasting is part of it. We’re in the spirit of Lent right now. So there’s extended fasting, and the Orthodox Church, they fast over 200 days a year, the Christian Orthodox Church and Greek Orthodox. I mean, there’s so many different fasting like on Sunday, you don’t eat until after Communion. Little things like that have been built into cultures, and it just amazes me because I’m like, “Ah, they must have had a good reason for that.” I always think of this season of Lent. This is usually when harvest is low anyway and people are already seasonal affective disorder. So fasting is really powerful to clear up the mind, to elevate the spirit, to have that higher time of connection.
It’s interesting how things have adapted to these principles and put them in place in many different ways, in many different societies. I love it. I just want science to look at women and men differently. So we study and we publish women and men differently, and that’s the biggest thing that was part of my journey, part of understanding how some things can work in men but not women. Certainly, for men doing my plan, they get amazing results.
I had this one guy, we call him Big Bill. He met up with me in Gainesville when I was down leading, just kicking off this next group of clients, 30 people going through the group medical visit for Keto-Green 16. He said, “I’ve been struggling with this, that, and the other thing, but I’m all-in to do this. Anything I need to know because I’m 250-pound male versus many of the women that are in the group. I said, “Yeah, you got to figure out what works for you and what doesn’t work for you. You’re going to measure. I don’t want you to feel like you’re starving. I want you to eat.” And laid it out for him.
I just heard back from him yesterday. He’s like, “I have already lost seven pounds, and I’m just feeling so great.” I’m like, “Yeah, that sucks,” because men get better results quicker. It’s just not fair. They have more testosterone. That’s part of it. They’re also black and white. “Okay, she told me to do this. I’m doing it.” There’s no gray. I even have the grey zone. I’m like, “Oh well, we’re going to have that glass of wine tonight,” or whatever the reason is to have a glass of wine. I can probably find a lot of them. We’ll find the grey zones, and men are black and white. I think for this, this is where the self-discovery part for women comes in, then you really know, you know. “Okay, this is what this is doing for me, or this is what I have to do in order to feel this way and to get this result.” That helps us as women do what we need to do. At least for me anyway.
[02:04:16] Ashley James: I love it, I love it. Let us know about all the ways we can work with you. You mentioned that you have some online classes, and people can work with you online. Just walk us through all the different ways we can learn from you.
[02:04:30] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Definitely join me at my website at drannacabeca.com. I’ve got tons of research there, but I have my online communities. I have a group called Magic Menopause, and I have my Keto-Green Community, a private community group on Facebook. I’m always showing up in Instagram, but really, it’s in my online groups, and through connecting with my office, and joining in one of my programs is probably the best way to work with me.
[02:04:58] Ashley James: Brilliant. It’s been such a pleasure having you on the show. Man, we could talk for hours and hours. This is wonderful. Definitely, I recommend listeners check out your book. All the links to everything that Dr. Anna Cabeca does is going to be in the show notes of today’s podcast at learntruehealth.com. Keto-Green 16, get the book on pre-order now. The link will be in the show notes. The audible, I’m so excited, is going to be by Dr. Anna Cabeca, so you’ll hear her wonderful voice instead of a voice actor, I love it. I love it when doctors do that.
Is there anything you’d like to say to wrap up today’s interviews? Is there anything you want to make sure that the listener is left with? Maybe some homework or something about mindset. I just want to make sure that we wrap this up in a pretty bow for the listener so they understand they can heal their body with food.
[02:05:52] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Oh, yes. Go back to that time where here I was, a board-certified gynecologist and obstetrician, trained at one of the best institutions in our country, and my doctor’s bag was empty. It was a pretty hopeless bleak situation, especially when you’re working with some of the best in the field. Honestly, it’s great if you’ve worked with the best of the best, but listen to your body, and don’t give up hope. You know you can be better tomorrow than you are today, I guarantee it. Finding the wisdom that’s inherent to our body, removing the clutter, it makes a difference. I will tell you, I stand behind it. Get Keto-Green and just feel the difference.
[02:06:34] Ashley James: Wonderful. Get alkaline, try some fasting, get Keto-Green. I like that you said remove the clutter because that’s exactly what I felt like when I started doing fasting. It really removed the clutter inside so that I could move the clutter outside. That’s exactly how I felt. That’s really cool. Awesome. It’s been such a pleasure having you on the show. Of course, you’re welcome back every time you come up with a book. Your track record is once a year, so let’s see how many books you can get out every year. You’re welcome back every year.
[02:07:07] Dr. Anna Cabeca: Thank you. Thank you, thank you. I look forward to talking with you again, Ashley. Thanks so much.
[02:07:14] Ashley James: I hope you enjoyed today’s episode with Dr. Anna Cabeca. Please, go to learntruehealth.com/ketogreen. That’s learntruehealth.com/ketogreen to get all of the awesome bonuses, and downloads, and free recipes, and ebooks, and everything that Dr. Anna talked about today. Go to that link.
In the show notes of today’s podcast, there’ll be other links that you can go to. Dr. Anna has her Mighty Maca. She’s got a sample pack that you can get, and also you could put in your information and it will spit out your exact macros and a meal planner for you that’s personalized to your lifestyle. So check out those links as well in the show notes of today’s podcast, but for sure right now, go to learntruehealth.com/ketogreen to access all the bonuses before they go away because I know it’s a limited time. I know that they’re only going to be up for a while while she’s launching her new book.
Awesome. I hope you have a fantastic rest of your day, and thank you so much for being an amazing listener of Learn True Health podcast.
Get Connected With Dr. Anna Cabeca!
Books by Dr. Anna Cabeca
What’s Happening To My Hormones (Free E-book)
Breeze Through Menopause Masterclass (Free class by Dr. Anna Cabeca)
Dr. David Perlmutter And Ashley James
- Amygdala vs prefrontal cortex
- Amygdala-based behavior opens the door for these chronic conditions: diabetes, coronary artery disease, obesity
- Why eating grains lower people’s immune system
- Our immune system is represented in the liver, in the heart, in the brain, and in the lungs
- Feed-forward cycles can be used to our advantage or to our disadvantage
- Disconnection syndrome
The lifestyle choices we make and the food we eat have a big impact on our overall health. In this episode, Dr. David Perlmutter, author of best-selling book Grain Brain, joins us on the show. He talks about the difference between decision-making based on the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex, and how our decisions relate to our health. He shares with us lifestyle changes we can do, the importance of sleep, the foods we need to eat, and the foods we need to avoid to improve our immune system.
Hello, true health seeker and welcome to another exciting episode of the Learn True Health podcast. You’re going to love at today’s interview with Dr. Perlmutter. He’s giving away a copy of his latest book, and you can win a copy of his latest book by going to the Learn True Health Facebook group. There’ll be a post in the top, a pin to the top for the next few weeks. If you’re listening to this and it is April or May of 2020, jump in the Learn True Health Facebook group and win that book. If it’s past 2020, if its past April or May of 2020, no worries, still come join the Learn True Health Facebook group because we do great giveaways there all the time. Our guests love to give away their books and other goodies, so come join the Learn True Health Facebook group. We’d love to see you there. It’s a wonderful supportive holistic community.
Now is the perfect time to implement what you’re going to learn today from Dr. Perlmutter. He is going to teach you how to avoid disease, how to even support your body in the face of the coronavirus, and how to support yourself in living an even longer healthier life, so fantastic interview. I’m really excited to share it with you. One thing I will say, since we have extra time on our hands, and we all are at home, and a lot of us are doing home cooking, now is the perfect time to join the Learn True Health Home Kitchen. I teach you how to use food as medicine, to make delicious food for yourself and your family that is also incredibly nutritious and healing for the body.
We have recipes that kids love, we have recipes that husbands love, we have recipes that the in-laws love, we have recipes that the whole family loves. Come join the Learn True Health Home Kitchen. Go to learntruehealth.com/homekitchen. That’s learntruehealth.com/homekitchen, use coupon code LTH for the list of discount. I made it affordable for everyone, and when you join, you’re also supporting the Learn True Health podcast. We regularly upload videos to the membership. There are well over seven hours of content, of videos, of recipes in the membership right now. Great videos teaching you all kinds of wonderful recipes, and tips, and tricks in the kitchen to use using your kitchen as your pharmacy to heal your body and to also stay healthy.
Come join Learn True Health Home Kitchen. That is learntruehealth.com/homekitchen. I look forward to seeing you there. Awesome. Enjoy today’s interview. Please share it with as many people as possible so we can help our friends and family to learn true health.
[00:02:53] Ashley James: Welcome to the Learn True Health podcast. I’m your host, Ashley James. This is episode 426. I am so excited for today’s guest. We have one of my heroes in the holistic health space, Dr. David Perlmutter, who wrote the book Grain Brain and also wrote his latest book Brain Wash. I am very, very excited. This is absolutely revolutionary—the information that you’re bringing. I love that you bring in so much science to back up everything that you’re showing. Today, you’re going to show us how to gain health on a whole new level using food as medicine. Welcome to the show.
[00:03:41] Dr. David Perlmutter: I am totally excited to be with you today, Ashley.
[00:03:46] Ashley James: Absolutely. A few years ago, maybe about three years ago, I heard a lecture you gave on a summit. For the life of me, I can’t remember which summit it was because I listened to so many of them. Your talk was the best talk in the entire summit, and there were some pretty awesome people there. It totally blew my mind, and I’ve been wanting to get you on the show ever since because of how much I learned from you. I’m very excited to have you here today.
Before we dive into talking about your latest book and what we can learn from you, can you tell us a bit about your background? Because you’re an MD. Most MDs don’t get into nutrition and healing the body with food, and I’d love to hear your story. What happened in your life that led you to helping people heal their body with food?
[00:04:36] Dr. David Perlmutter: Well, Ashley, don’t let me disappoint you but there was no epiphany. There was no moment of transition. I’ve been, obviously, asked that question many times, “What was it that turned you in favor of looking at the world through those eyes?” I can’t say there was a moment. I will say that I’ve always been a bit of a disrupter. Even as a kid, I was never satisfied with the status quo of explanations for anything. Obviously, that wasn’t necessarily a good way of behaving in high school, but as years went by, I became a neurologist, and entered a very mainstream neurology practice, and practiced according to the book for 10 years.
I became really very dissatisfied with what I was doing with my life. I was treating symptoms, I wasn’t treating disease. I was treating the smoke and ignoring the fire. Around that time, 10 years in, I began looking at was there any evidence that lifestyle choices had any role to play in the development of these challenging neurological problems that I was dealing with on a daily basis? Whether it was brain degenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, or seizures, or headaches, or any of the common things that we as neurologists would see.
In fact, even back then, the literature was quite robust in terms of making, at least, the correlations between various modifiable lifestyle factors and risk for developing these situations. I felt that offered me a lot more tools for my toolbox, whereas it wasn’t necessarily going to focus on letting people get better right now, which is something I’d probably already mastered because it was in the book how to do it, but rather how to keep these things from happening in the first place—what an idea.
I began pursuing that and began realizing that there were a lot of people out there in the world who are like-minded. I began attending integrative conferences and functional medicine conferences and realize that there were a lot of people out there who recognize that we don’t need to be practicing reflexive medicine, but rather pre-emptive medicine. That we could really create lifestyle plans to keep people healthy. What a notion. Especially in our time right now. The notion of healthcare, which is something, with all due respect, not being practiced in America.
We talk about our healthcare system, but truly, much as my neurology practice was so very long ago in the early 1990s, we aren’t practicing healthcare, we are practicing response to diseases. We are responding to patients who develop a list of criteria that allows them to get a named disease, and then we respond to manage their symptoms. So very little going on in our so-called health care system that has anything to do with health, that has anything to do with care—in the most important sense of that word. I found that this is where I wanted to be and that I could be much more effective as a doctor—meaning a teacher—if I could focus on ways of keeping people healthy.
[00:08:20] Ashley James: I love that you identify as a teacher. The root of the word doctor is doceri, which means teacher. We should look to our doctor to teach us because we can’t take our doctor home with us. Our doctor isn’t going to cook for us, and tell us when we should go to bed, and tell us how much water we should drink, and follow us around. We have to go to our doctor, a doctor is going to teach us, then we have to take that—what we learn from them—and we have to apply it to our daily life.
[00:08:47] Dr. David Perlmutter: That is fundamental because we just realized, in writing Brain Wash, that that moment that you just described, for those of us who practice integrated functional type medicine, that’s where the system breaks down—three steps. First step, we as the healthcare provider do everything we possibly can to stay up to date, to learn the best information we possibly can. Step two, we impart that information, we act as the teacher, we give that information to our patients, and we depend on step three, that they then implement that they utilize the information that we’ve given them to change their lives for the better. What we’ve learned is that it’s step three—the utilization of the information—where the system breaks down the most. That between 50% and 80% of the information that we give to patients—that we impart—is not acted upon.
For many years, until quite recently, I like many, would accuse the patient who comes back week after week, continues to gain weight, continues to have blood sugar climbing, or whatever the metric is that we are following knowing full well that they are not engaging what we’ve recommended. They haven’t adopted the diet, they decided not to meet with the dietitian, they’re not exercising, you name it, and there was really a sense that we would blame them for that. What we’ve identified now is that the actual decision-making part of the brain has been hacked by our modern world.
It’s unfair for us to point fingers at patients as it’s unfair for them to point fingers at themselves, “Why can’t I do these things? I know it’s important that I do these things. I’ve went to the doctor. I got this information. I bought all these wonderful books. I attended these online symposia. I know what to do, but why in the heck can’t I do it?” The reason is that, again, our decision-making apparatus is under siege by so many aspects of our modern world. Therefore, it’s not necessarily appropriate anymore to blame patients for not following through, or for people to blame themselves for not being able to act on good information because they don’t have the brain connections anymore to make that happen.
That should certainly be one of the areas that you and I focus on moving forward with our time together today. What is it that has so hacked our decision-making ability, and perhaps most importantly then once we understand that, what can we do to regain connection to the better decision-making part of the brain—the prefrontal cortex—so that we can act in a way, make choices that think about the future, that take into consideration how my decision today will impact me moving forward, but also impact my neighbor, my community, the planet upon, which I live moving forward. That is, bringing back our connection to this area of the brain called the prefrontal cortex.
[00:12:20] Ashley James: Can you give us some examples of how our decision-making has been hijacked?
[00:12:26] Dr. David Perlmutter: Certainly. The decision-making parts of the brain are many, but for purposes of our discussion today, I’m going to simplify between two areas. One, as I mentioned earlier, the prefrontal cortex. That is an area of the brain that allows us to bring to bear on our decisions—on our choices—a lot of information from our past experiences, our understanding of the decision that we have to make especially as it relates to the future outcome. What will be the long-term consequences—good or bad—of whatever I decide to do right now? That’s the prefrontal cortex.
In contrast to making more impulsive decisions—choices—that come from the area of the brain called the amygdala—the impulsive amygdala I like to say. That is an area of the brain to which we are getting more and more attached by multiple mechanisms these days in our modern world. We know, for example, that even one night of not having enough restorative sleep tends to significantly lock us into making decisions that are short-term, that are impulsive, that are based upon narcissism, and us-versus-them mentality coming from the amygdala. Even one night of not enough restorative sleep is associated with as much as a 60% increased activity of the amygdala.
We depend upon a vital connection between the adult in the room—the prefrontal cortex—and the more childlike behavior that stems from the amygdala. The connection allows the adult in the room—the prefrontal cortex—to supervise, to make recommendations, to influence and exert control over more impulsive behavior as would otherwise have been brought about if the amygdala were in charge. So many factors in our day-to-day lives tend to sever that connection between the prefrontal cortex exerting its top-down control over the more impulsive decision-maker—the amygdala.
I’d like your listeners to be thinking about this model in the context of what we talked about earlier and that is that critical point whereby we give our patients great information and they don’t act upon it. They don’t make good decisions, they make decisions based upon impulsivity as opposed to thinking about the long-term consequences of an apple versus a jelly-filled doughnut.
I want the jelly-filled donut now I’m going to eat it, or in the long run, if I cut back on refined carbs and sugar my health will be better, my immune system will be more balanced, my inflammation markers will be reduced, my likelihood of having a sudden explosion of inflammation should I contract COVID-19 virus, for example, might be dampened. It’s interesting to think about our decision-making as it might pave the way for diseases like diabetes, obesity, coronary heart disease, and even how our long-term decision-making affects our immune responses, and how that might be certainly germane vis-a-vis at COVID-19 discussion.
Again, it’s all about, do we tap into our more adult part of the brain—the prefrontal cortex—and let that exercise top-down control, or do we simply lock into the amygdala and live our lives without thinking about future consequences? Now, one of the most powerful influences on whether we’re going to lock into the amygdala and exclude the adult in the room is, as I just mentioned, the quality and quantity of our sleep. Who knew? Not some exotic expensive nutritional supplement, but simply getting a good night’s sleep.
Now, what can we add to that? We can add exercise, eating a diet that’s lower in likelihood to cause inflammation, exposure to nature, keeping a gratitude journal. All of these things are really very important ways that we can re-establish a connection to the prefrontal cortex. Perhaps one of the most important daily activities is a daily meditation. The research showing how powerfully meditation practice amplifies the activity of the prefrontal cortex goes back at least 15 years and is really quite profound because you’re able to demonstrate by functional types of brain imaging studies virtual lighting up of the prefrontal cortex—that really good decision maker by simply engaging in meditation.
[00:18:01] Ashley James: When they’ve hooked people up, their brains up to scans, and they have them meditate, and they see then even after meditation—if someone were to meditate every day, how long after meditation do they see the amplified usage of the prefrontal cortex over the amygdala?
[00:18:20] Dr. David Perlmutter: It’s an excellent question, and the answer is for people who are regular meditators that these pathways become more permanent. The more we amplify our connection to the prefrontal cortex through a process of neural plasticity, the more we strengthen that connection then between the prefrontal cortex and its ability to top-down, regulate, or calm down the amygdala activity moving forward. This is, as you well mentioned, this is a benefit that we get even while we’re not meditating. The more we do it, the more indelible, the more strengthening we observe of those pathways that connect the prefrontal cortex to the amygdala.
[00:19:12] Ashley James: One thing I learned about stress is that when we’re in the sympathetic nervous system response, the body shunts resources away from the prefrontal cortex so that we don’t overanalyze things—at least this is how it was explained to me. That we become more reactionary in the moment, like if our house was on fire, we’re in the second floor, we need to just react—jump out the window. If we weren’t in that state of fight-or-flight, we might start overanalyzing something. Is this true that when we’re in a state of stress—and we might not feel cause stress isn’t an emotion—if we’re in a state of stress, and we’re in the sympathetic nervous system response a fight-or-flight, do we really lose or dampen our prefrontal cortex—the adult in the room—that kind of decision-making, and have more of an amygdala response to our decision-making?
[00:20:08] Dr. David Perlmutter: In a word, yes, and there is a very powerful upside to being reactive versus being reflective. There are times when we want to react, we want to react very quickly. As an example, you’re in your car in your driveway, and you’re backing up, and suddenly a child on a tricycle appears in your backup camera. Your foot goes on the brake, and you stop, and a child’s life is spared. Now, that is not the time when you want to engage the prefrontal cortex, think about, “Well, if I step on the brake now, then I’ll slow my car down, and come to a stop, and then likely I won’t hit this kid, and that’s probably a good thing.” If you’re going through that, the kid’s already been hit.
What happens is a reflex basically happens that your amygdala kicks in, bang, foot on the brake, and then you catch yourself. You said, “Whoa. What just happened? I responded so quickly, luckily,” whatever. That’s good. So we need that sort of response. It’s life-saving. The problem becomes, however, when we constantly engage the amygdala, we enhance our moment-to-moment connection to the amygdala at the cost of our connection to the prefrontal cortex so that much more of our decision making becomes fight or flight, becomes fear-based, becomes tribal, becomes us versus them, becomes a response to a perceived or real threat. This tends to lock us out of being able to access the prefrontal cortex. That beyond simply having a role in our decision-making is the part of the brain that subserves empathy and compassion.
The more we lock into self-serving decision-making, narcissistic behavior, us-versus-them mentality—what we call tribalism—and impulsive behavior, the more we will act in that way. The more we will interact with the world around us from an amygdala-based perceptive point. How do we enhance our connection to the amygdala? Well, watch the evening news, don’t get a good night’s sleep, eat foods that increase inflammation, spend a lot of time on social media to lock you into one frame of reference, one perspective. The average American spends north of six hours a day in front of one screen or another, be it their tablet, phone, or computer, or television. That tends to fan the flames especially these days of fear, of doom.
It’s been said that when you’re doing one thing, you’re not doing something else. Spending that much of your waking hours in front of a screen means that you’re not then exercising, preparing your meals, interacting with other people, getting out in nature, doing all the things that tend to relinquish our connection to this fear-based amygdala and allow us to reconnect to the prefrontal cortex. These are the central tenets of our new book Brain Wash. We published this book on January 14, 2020, before there was a single case of COVID-19 in North America. How incredible it is that now we are experiencing a challenge that threatens our good decision-making, threatens our ability to look at long term consequences of the things we want to choose to do today.
When we understand that engaging things like social distancing, hand-washing, all the things that we are being to that can limit the spread of this virus, on the one hand, looking forward, as opposed to the ideas of simply, “You know what, screw it. I’m going to go back to work. I don’t care. I’m not going to wear a mask. Come what may. Because I want to do this today,” short-term decision-making. So it has really well characterized this disparity between short-term decision-making and long-term decision-making. It’s important, no doubt, for people to get back to work, and it’s also important for us to go through the behavioral modifications to help limit the spread of COVID-19.
Having said that, these are not mutually exclusive concepts. We can do both, and the key here that allows us to get people back to work, and at the same time, reduce the spread of this virus is forward-thinking by implementing testing as aggressively as we can. Let people go back to work who have developed antibodies who are probably immune, and certainly isolate those individuals who test positive in the molecular testing that looks for the activity of the virus. We can satisfy both camps on this one if we are able to amplify the number of tests that are being performed, at least here in America, by at least three-fold.
[00:25:49] Ashley James: I love that you said that we can do both, it’s not black or white. We can get the amygdala thinking, and start reflecting, and having three-dimensional thinking to solve this problem. That takes the prefrontal cortex. That takes getting out of the stress response that we are triggered in when we watch the news or spend time on social media.
[00:26:10] Dr. David Perlmutter: Let me develop this theme just a little bit more because I’m just thinking about something. That is, what are the major risk factors that pave the way for bad outcome as it relates to COVID-19 infection? They are chronological age, biological age, chronic degenerative conditions like obesity, coronary artery disease, type 2 diabetes. Now, the only thing here that it’s not a variable that we can control to any degree is our chronological age. We can’t erase the number of birthdays that we’ve had and that we’re going to have, but our biological age is certainly something we can modify especially as it relates to the immune system.
The point is that amygdala-based behavior, “I want to smoke. I don’t want to exercise. I want to eat crappy food.” All of these things open the door for these chronic conditions: diabetes, coronary artery disease, obesity, cigarette smoking, and all of these then are dramatically associated with worse outcome as it relates to this particular infection. So in a very real sense, what’s going on here is decision-making coming from the amygdala is paving the way for worse outcome as it relates to COVID-19.
Making better decisions—better choices—as it relates to lifestyle, as it relates to the food you eat, the sleep that you get, the fact that you decided not to smoke, getting some exercise are ways of reducing your risk or even reducing the worsening of these diseases should they have already been established. Therefore, reducing risk for a bad outcome as it relates to COVID-19. It was quite a surprise when this infection began affecting the United States because there was an interesting statistic that became obvious, and that was here in America, younger people were ending up in the hospital and having bad outcomes.
It was a great puzzle in the news because people were saying, “Why would our young and healthy individuals in America having such a bad outcome?” That is an interesting statement, isn’t it? Our young and healthy Americans. Understand that young, in America, doesn’t necessarily mean healthy.
[00:28:48] Ashley James: No kidding.
[00:28:49] Dr. David Perlmutter: That is very, very important because we have extremely high rates in North America of things like type 2 diabetes, certainly obesity, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in younger individuals. These issues pave the way for a bad outcome. These are issues of immune dysregulation, and that is the cardinal point here. That’s where COVID-19 takes full advantage of an individual and paves the way for a bad outcome. That’s where COVID-19 insinuates itself into a dysregulated immune system and does its damage.
Understand that our immune system is represented in the liver, in the heart, in the brain, and in the lungs. This is why this in infection is having manifestations across the board through our various so-called systems. Yes, it affects the brain. Obviously, it affects the lungs, and yes, liver issues are becoming quite common in people who have bad outcomes, and certainly, the gastrointestinal system as well.
[00:30:01] Ashley James: Let’s talk about diet because the book that turned me on to your work, Grain Brain, focuses on the things that we can cut out and the things that we can implement into our diet that decrease inflammation, but that also, your diet prevents these diseases. The idea of going grain-free or gluten-free, for many people, is a shocking idea. Why is it that eating grains is lowering people’s immune system?
[00:30:37] Dr. David Perlmutter: What an excellent question. Why is it that eating grains is lowering people’s immune system? Think about that. In the context of where we are right now, eating grains, refined carbohydrates—that’s basically what most people end up eating when they’re so-called eating grains—the wheat products that people are assuming that make up 40% of the food that people consume in America. That this is generally in its refined ultra-processed form, and what does that do? It dysregulates our immune system through multiple mechanisms.
It disrupts our gut bacteria that influence our immune system through the permeability of the gut lining that then influences where 70% of our immune system is located—the gut-associated lymphoid tissue. That’s one extremely powerful mechanism, but in addition, perhaps through its effects on the gut and elsewhere, it dysregulates our ability to control our blood sugar. That has an effect on immune functionality as well.
One of the most powerful predictors of how a person is going to do once they’ve been hospitalized—good outcome or bad outcome—is their blood sugar when they come into the hospital. Higher blood sugars are dramatically associated with poor outcome. Another interesting report coming out of China several days ago calls our attention to one of their laboratory study that’s dramatically associated with a bad outcome, and that is a liver transaminase called ALT. ALT is a marker for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. A metabolic issue that’s for sure, which is extremely prevalent now in younger Americans who are eating diets that are higher in fructose and ultra-processed carbs of other sorts.
This all then fits together that we see this dramatic dietary shift that has been going on now progressively for the past 12,000 to 14,000 years since the advent of agriculture. Now that seems like an awful long time, doesn’t it? The reality is that for 99.6% of the time that humans have walked this planet, we did not consume any significant amount of grains. Truthfully, the idea of these highly processed grains giving us sudden spikes in our blood sugar, for example, is something that’s only happened really pretty much in the past couple of centuries, if not even the last century, to the extent that they’ve entered our food supply as we see today.
In a very real sense, what we are seeing is the response to COVID-19 very much reflects the types of foods that are eaten in a given country. That is particularly alarming when we recognize that this so-called pro-inflammatory Western diet is very rapidly becoming the global diet just as COVID-19 has become a global pandemic, so has this westernization of our nutrition, which bodes, therefore as we’ve connected these dots, for a worse outcome as it relates to being infected with the COVID-19. So in a very real sense, when I wrote Grain Brain and called out to get back to your question, the dangers at multiple levels to having higher levels of refined carbs, eating a lot of grain-based product that this is a way of increasing inflammation—the cornerstone of our chronic degenerations—which now are those diseases which pave the way for the worst outcome with COVID-19.
That also the idea of persistent elevation of blood sugar by a higher carb diet in general leads to a higher risk for insulin resistance that vis a vis the name of the book Grain Brain focusing on brain health, insulin resistance is devastating for the brain. We recognize that Alzheimer’s is, for the most part, a manifestation of a fuel issue fueling the brain, being able to allow the brain to use glucose appropriately that is front and center in terms of being looked at as an etiology player as it relates to Alzheimer’s as recently as January 2020 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
That’s what underscored the importance of diet as it related to general health, as it related to obesity, and certainly, as it related to brain health that we talked about so many years ago now in Grain Brain. Thereafter, we began looking at diet as it related to our gut bacteria, as we began to recognize how important the gut bacteria is in regulating so many of the parameters that are important for our health, our ability to resist disease, and even our longevity. That’s when I wrote a book called Brain Maker. Again, the importance of diet on determining the health of our microbiome, if you will.
Why dietary fiber is so important? Why diets high in refined carbohydrates and sugar threaten the diversity, health, and functionality of our gut bacteria, and as such, threaten both our immune systems and our ability to regulate inflammation. Now, we come to 2020 when our son Austin Perlmutter, an internal medicine MD, and I looked at this whole notion, as we talked about earlier, Ashley, of decision making, and realized that making the right decision in terms of lifestyle—like food choices, like going to bed on time—has a huge role to play in regulating immunity, regulating inflammation, and in even making good decisions.
That’s where we landed on this, and that is the idea that, again, our decision-making is a manifestation of our lifestyle choices, and that choosing a lifestyle that favors inflammation will cut us off from the prefrontal cortex. Inflammation, in and of itself, tends to allow us to make more impulsive decision, tends to amplify our connection to the amygdala, and therefore moving forward, our choices are poor, we make continued bad choices related to food and other lifestyle issues, fanning the flames of inflammation locking us more into an amygdala-based decision-making paradigm.
That’s what’s going on in America right now because we’ve eaten this standard American diet, fanning the flames of inflammation, locking us into poor decision making. We make poor decisions as it relates to our dietary choices, and thus, we continue to be in this feed-forward—what a term—feed-forward cycle where we really can’t get out of the idea of making poor decisions. What we are emphasizing now as we are beginning a training program using Brain Wash as really a course guide for physicians involved in functional medicine, and that is to first not give patients ideas in terms of what they should be doing for their particular ailment, but rather, at first encounter with our patients, give patients options that will enhance their decision-making ability.
Let me give you an example. A patient you are seeing with diabetes and obesity comes in, and at the first encounter with this patient, that patient is very surprised because at the first visit we didn’t even talk once about diet and exercise. Why? Knowing full well that these recommendations won’t be carried out, generally. What we do it the first visit is we work on the ability for that patient to regain the likelihood of making better decisions. We work on decision making at the first visit.
Here’s a patient, you’re seeing this patient. Clearly needs to be on a diet, clearly needs exercise, but at the first visit what do you talk about? Well, maybe it’s sleep. Maybe that patient sitting across from you in the office, what we’re talking about is, “Hey, let’s get you a better night’s sleep so that in two weeks, when you come back to see me, then you’ve regained better decision-making skills. Reconnection to the prefrontal cortex that then will allow you to make and stick to those decisions that have to do with diet, that has to do with exercise, etc.” Maybe our entrance ramp is sleep, or maybe it’s meditation.
Whatever we can do to reconnect to the prefrontal cortex, to offset what we described in Brain Wash as disconnection syndrome, will then pave the way through feed-forward activity to allow that patient then to move forward and engage the rest of the program. As opposed to say, “Here you go. Here’s a list of foods that are low in carbohydrates, high in fiber, high in good fat. Take it home. Hope for the best. That doesn’t work. We know that doesn’t work. Why do we know that doesn’t work? Because time and time again, that patient’s going to come back and have a higher blood sugar, their A1C is going to be worse, their insulin resistance markers are going to be deteriorating, and they’re going to be gaining weight. So that doesn’t work until we work on re-engaging better decision making by actually restructuring their brains.
[00:41:39] Ashley James: Absolutely. Sleep also has a huge impact on blood sugar. I was type 2 diabetic. I reversed it naturally with diet and lifestyle changes. I noticed that if I got poor sleep, for the next 24 hours, I was hungry, my blood sugar was out of control, and it was consistent. But if I got a really good night’s sleep, the next day I could be just smooth. My blood sugar could be stable.
[00:42:09] Dr. David Perlmutter: Ashley, I have to stop you there because what you just said is it’s worth the price of admission. I mean, that’s an e-ticket at Disney World. What did you say? You said you used to be a type 2 diabetic. First of all, just the notion that you are no longer a type 2 diabetic flies in the face of how mainstream medicine treats this problem. Mainstream medicine treats type 2 diabetes with drugs. What happens when you stop the drug? Blood sugar goes right back up. So you didn’t treat the problem. (A) You, on the other hand, treated your problem type 2 diabetes by dietary and lifestyle intervention. (B) You noticed a direct effect of your blood sugar of having a good night’s sleep or not, and that is absolutely profound.
When you don’t have a good night’s sleep that is a stress. What is your body’s response to stress? It turns on the production of blood sugar because you need it because you’re in a fight or flight scenario, or so your body thinks. Your cortisol level is higher, your amygdala is activated that very next day, and your food choices are less appropriate. It’s been demonstrated that people who chronically don’t engage in restorative sleep, night after night, consume at an average of 380 more calories per day without an increase in caloric burn in comparison to people who age match, individuals who do get a good night’s sleep. No wonder what you just said has such profound meaning. That’s take-home information. That’s great.
[00:44:04] Ashley James: You said the term restorative sleep. What is the difference between just getting sleep and getting restorative sleep?
[00:44:14] Dr. David Perlmutter: Another great question. I mean, there are plenty of people who will tell you I get 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night, and yet, their cortisols are high in the morning, their blood sugars are spiking, inflammatory markers are elevated, and their decision-making is poor. All of these markers that maybe that sleep was not as restorative as they thought. How would you know? Well you might not know—you will not know—unless you’re able to evaluate, not just sleep quantity, but sleep quality. How can you do that? You need to know that many people think they get a full night’s sleep but have constant interruptions of their sleep by periodic leg movements, by apnea—meaning that they stop breathing—by sleeping with a partner who may be bumping them, or kicking them, and causing their sleep to drop out of the deeper stages though they don’t fully awaken and recognize that their sleep is not restorative.
If you’re somewhat asleep, how do you know if you’re getting into the deeper stages of restorative sleep like a deep sleep, like for example, REM sleep? These are important parts of sleep that do good things for our bodies that are very, as we talked about, restorative. You won’t know unless you apply some technology. Now, this can be going into a sleep lab and having a formal what is called a polysomnogram that looks at your brainwaves, and looks at your EKG, that looks at your oxygen saturation with a little device connected to your finger, which I’ve done. That said, we know that there are some pretty darn good wearable devices that can also give you an indication as to the quality and the quantity of your sleep.
I use a device called an Oura Ring that downloads into my smartphone in the morning and gives me a very good sense as to how long it took me to fall asleep, how long did I remain asleep, how long was I in the various stages of sleep, and then it allows you to make certain lifestyle changes, to improve certain aspects of your sleep based on what you then know. I think in this day and age, there is technology available to us to not just determine how long we are asleep but what is the quality of that sleep. That is absolutely fundamentally important as it relates to things like our immune function, our blood sugar, our cortisol levels, how active our amygdala is in terms of decision making, etc.
[00:47:04] Ashley James: I just bought an Oura Ring. Actually, it was gifted to me, and I’m really excited to use it. I haven’t used it yet. I just got it in the mail. You mentioned that I’m like, “Oh, I’m going to start playing with it.” That’s really cool. You mentioned that when we don’t get restorative sleep, that we consume on average 350 more calories a day. That doesn’t seem like a lot, but when you add it up over a year that’s 36 pounds. If someone continued that behavior over five years, they’d have gained 180 pounds. What seems like, “What’s 350 calories a day?” It doesn’t seem like a lot, but this is where one bad behavior done over a course of five years can significantly impact the quality of your life, the longevity of your life can either contribute to basically being in an early grave and being in a disease state for the rest of your life.
Something as simple as going to bed an hour earlier, putting on blue-blocking glasses, not eating refined sugar, cutting back on the caffeine. These little tiny choices that we would not make if we were in the amygdala because we want the instant gratification. “I want to stay up later and watch more Netflix. Just one more episode,” or “Oh, I feel like a chocolate bar. It’s 11:00 at night. I feel like a whatever.” That’s when people start making really bad choices around snacking and staying up later and later and late because they’re in the amygdala, not in the prefrontal cortex. The more we lose sleep, the more we’re going to just make worse and worse choices, and we’re just spiraling downhill. It just keeps going and keeps going, and it just compounds on itself.
[00:48:48] Dr. David Perlmutter: Exactly. Keep in mind that this doesn’t have to take five years. If you gain 15-20 pounds—you’re going to gain about a pound a week if you’re not sleeping well, as an average. When you gain body fat, a couple of things happen. Of course, you increase inflammation, you increase your connection to the amygdala, but body fat directly translates into less quality of sleep. What happens? You have less quality of sleep, you eat more. You eat more, you gain weight, and you have less quality of sleep. That is a gross example of what is called a feed-forward cycle. That the problem worsens itself over time, and that’s the bad news.
The good news is that while in Brain Wash, we outlined eight different on-ramps that you can engage. You don’t have to. You can pick one, and it might be, for example, sleep, and doing the Amber glasses—blue-blocking glasses—cutting your caffeine consumption in the afternoon, getting perhaps more exercise, not snacking after dinner. All the things that we all know are important parts of sleep hygiene that you could say, “I’m going to do this for a week.” If you do, then you’re going to improve your decision-making, then the rest of the plan is far more easy to engage. That becomes a feed-forward cycle that works to your advantage. That’s what we’re looking for.
[00:50:21] Ashley James: I love it. My husband, when we had our child, we lost a lot of sleep. He gained some weight. It wasn’t a lot of weight, but he gained some weight, and all of a sudden he started snoring like crazy. I mean just really loud snoring, and he blamed our new mattress. We got this amazing Intellibed mattress. It’s the best in the world. I can fall sleep in one position, wake up eight hours later in the same position. I just was like solid sleep in that position because you don’t have to roll around. I love the Intellibed. In fact. I interviewed the founder, the creator of Intellibed. It’s really neat how much science goes into it.
My husband was blaming the Intellibed. Then he got really serious and cracked down, and he lost about 15 pounds or so, and all of a sudden his snoring went away. He also did some stuff with his diet to decrease inflammation. He did some fasting. Immediately, almost overnight, the snoring went away. It’s not like he had fat around his neck, it wasn’t like anything was pushing, but it was something about decreasing inflammation, losing a few pounds, and all of a sudden his snoring stopped, and he started sleeping better. Of course, then I started sleeping better. It was really interesting to see how some little changes—it all affects each other. Everything affects each other.
[00:51:39] Dr. David Perlmutter: That’s right. We can take advantage of your statement that everything affects each other in a positive way. Everything affects each other also in a negative way. Eat crappy food, gain weight. Sleep poorly, make worse food choices. Again, don’t exercise, you won’t want to get outside, you’re going to binge-watch, and all these things, and spend more time on social media. We can use feed-forward cycles to our advantage or to our disadvantage. It just depends on really finding, as we’ve talked about, an on-ramp that works for each individual.
It might be sleep, it might be exercise, it might be keeping a gratitude journal, it might be nature exposure—powerfully effective in reducing cortisol, reducing inflammation. That’s what we need today. We need to offset our risks for chronic degenerative conditions, and that will help us in terms of our outcome if we should contract COVID-19. Look who’s involved with this in terms of bad outcome. I’m sorry to say but it’s people who have unfortunately made poor lifestyle choices that manifest as these chronic degenerative conditions, and that will also cause manifestation of a bad outcome as it relates to COVID-19 infection.
[00:53:06] Ashley James: In the grocery stores I like to go to, there’s a few of them. I like to go to one’s a local co-op here that has all organic, and then there’s another one at Whole Foods. There are different grocery stores I go to, and I kind of do my little circuit to get different things from different ones depending on what I’m out of. I noticed that at all the grocery stores in my area, everyone I’ve gone to, the baking section is empty. It’s completely emptied out. In my local Facebook groups, people are saying, “Who bought all the baker’s yeast? I’m trying to make this.”
I’m seeing on Facebook all my local friends are baking like crazy. They’re all of a sudden baking and eating muffins and cakes. It was just on and on and on and they’re also drinking a lot of alcohol. I don’t know if you noticed that, but on Facebook, everyone’s celebrating at home with their alcohol. I’m thinking to myself. “You are worried about getting an infection—getting the virus—and you’re consuming exactly what your body needs to have the worst outcome in case you did get it.” Alcohol, and sugar, and flour are the worst things we could be consuming right now.
[00:54:24] Dr. David Perlmutter: There are two reasons for this. First is obviously pragmatic thought that these are non-perishable, so that’s why people buy flour and non-perishables, and then end up baking and doing all the things with them. I think more to your point, these are so-called comfort foods. During times of stress, people tend to gravitate toward—it’s why they’re called comfort foods. Because you’re satisfying your amygdala-based behavior, you’re releasing dopamine, and you’re satisfying the craving in the short run.
This is the time where you need to double down on all the right recommendations as it relates to the foods that you’re consuming and your other lifestyle choices because you desperately need a good functioning immune system, a balanced immune system that can rein in inflammation, for example, that can be so devastating with this infection. Now is the time when all of those lifestyle issues that we’ve all been talking about for such a long time need to be implemented to the highest degree possible.
It’s not like we’re cashing in our chips right now. If you do, you’re going to gain weight, you’re not going to sleep as well, your immune system is going to become dysregulated, and as such, you’re going to increase your chances for a bad outcome should you be infected by this virus. That said, it’s been predicted that’s somewhere between 60%-80% of people globally are going to catch this virus at some point.
[00:56:08] Ashley James: Right now, right now, your book is so relevant. Brain Wash is so relevant. In fact, all your books are so relevant because you’re teaching us how to support the body’s ability to mount a healthy defense, and to also, if and when we do have the infection, we could be one of the people that are asymptomatic. That the body is so healthy it moves through the infection, fights it, and mounts a response, and we don’t have to be hospitalized. Those who weakened their body by not getting enough for sort of sleep, by eating a diet that causes inflammation, that tears down the body instead of builds it up, by not getting out in nature, not exercising gratitude, or not meditating, not taking the time to actively de-stress.
If we don’t do that and instead we stress ourselves out, don’t get enough sleep, inflame our body with a poor diet, and stay in the amygdala response, we are guaranteeing we will have poor outcomes. You’ve really painted this picture. As you’ve been talking about the prefrontal cortex and the amygdala, as they relate to our decision-making, I’m reminded of the old cartoons that I used to watch. The Looney Tunes cartoons where there’d be a little flying devil with a pitchfork—a little red devil on one shoulder—and there would be a little angel with a harp and wings on the other shoulder all dressed in white.
They would each try to get the cartoon character to do something good, or do something about it. It’s almost like spiritual warfare at this point. We have to think about every decision we make we are either giving in to that devil on our shoulder, that amygdala that wants the instant gratification, that wants us to fail and be sick in the future, or we’re taking a step back, we’re reflecting, we’re taking sides with the angel on our shoulder, and we’re building a better stronger body for our future.
We can, even though we might not be getting the instant gratification of the instant dopamine by eating that doughnut and staying up late bingeing on Netflix right now, the dopamine we could achieve through meditation, and gratitude, and nature, and starting to enjoy nurturing our body with delicious nutritious whole foods and also having really restorative straight sleep, that gives us dopamine too. But it’s not this roller coaster of highs and lows. It’s this constant even keel joy that we could fill our life with if we followed the prefrontal cortex path instead of the amygdala path.
So I love this picture you’re painting. I would rather have this nice smooth ride down the river of joy of prefrontal cortex rather than the highs and lows of the very short-lived life of the amygdala because we will shorten our life if we do follow the amygdala. Your painting this picture very well, and that you’re giving us the tools that we can take home with us, and we can implement. We start with one thing so that we can build our strength.
Talking a bit more about diet because I’ve come up against this resistance with people when it comes to going gluten-free or grain-free when cutting out barley, wheat, rye, and oats for example. Many people I’ve talked to say, “Well, I was tested and I don’t need to avoid those grains because I am not allergic to them.” Other people say, “Well, I went gluten-free for a month and I didn’t notice anything, so I’m not allergic to it. I don’t have to do it.” What would you say to those people who don’t believe, or they think either those grains are healthy for them, or they don’t believe that they’re excluded. That only a certain percentage, only celiac people need to avoid it, they don’t, and you see that everyone needs to avoid it for better health.
[01:00:15] Dr. David Perlmutter: It’s a good point. The actual risk of so-called wheat allergy as an allergic reaction is pretty low. Certainly, celiac disease is extremely infrequent in our population, though there are some genetic determinants. Ultimately a small bowel biopsy is done to confirm that diagnosis, but it’s somewhere south of 3%-4% of the population, that’s for sure. Celiac disease is not what we are talking about. Wheat allergy is not what we were talking about. We’re talking about some fundamental events that occur when we consume alpha-gliadin—a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye—it’s a component of gluten. How that leads to an increase in gut permeability or leakiness, and this may occur in all people.
Who has what is called non-celiac gluten sensitivity? Don’t know the answer to that in terms of percentages, but it’s perhaps 30%-50% of the population. Meaning that there are observable manifestations, symptoms that are generated when this group of individuals ends up consuming a product that contains gluten. That said, I think the best recommendation is that we go off of these products. There’s nothing wonderfully salubrious about the gluten-free aisle in the gluten in the grocery store. That is where you’ll find highly-processed, ultra-processed carbs, highly-refined grains of other sorts that will spike the blood sugar that will wreak havoc with the gut.
What we want to do is really start to re-emphasize what humans have eaten for almost our entire existence, and that is vegetables. If you choose to be someone who consumes animal products, untainted animal products if that is, again, your choice. It’s not just the gluten part of the story though, it’s the refinement of the carbohydrates, the effect that has on blood sugar, how that amplifies inflammation, how that degrades our effectiveness in terms of our immune response, how it leads to things like insulin resistance and other aspects of metabolic syndrome.
It’s a much bigger picture. As we go through that from Grain Brain to the microbiome in Brain Maker and now to Brain Wash, how then this affects the wiring of our brains, and our decision-making, and how that takes us to the current time of what will our response be to infection, which is likely going to happen to most of us—if not all of us—with this COVID-19 based upon the dietary choices that we thought were important over the years. It’s really very interesting that in a sense, this COVID-19 is selecting out individuals for the worst response based upon more amygdala-based decision making as it relates to lifestyle choices.
Our world is conspiring to lock us into our amygdala based upon the foods that we are eating, the fact that we think we need to stay up late at night to accomplish various things, the negative aggressive fear invoking nature of our social media experiences and news exposure. The world is a fearful place and this becomes a way of stoking the fires of our amygdala, which makes us make more choices that are not going to be in our favor.
Our mission this time around in writing Brain Wash is to give the tools to decouple this, to get us away from amygdala-based decision making and re-establish connection to the prefrontal cortex to offset what we described in the book as disconnection syndrome. It’s fascinating for Austin and me to observe that Brain Wash has now been picked up by 18 country, 18 languages around the world. It was just published here in America because I think people are getting this message that at the cornerstone of what’s going on here is our decision-making. Because it’s our decision-making that leads to these chronic degenerative conditions that leads to bad outcome.
That’s how we’re reading into why do 18 languages, why does Brain Wash coming out of 18 languages around the world? Because people finally get the fact that decision making is really important today more so probably than ever before in the history of humankind.
[01:05:26] Ashley James: That there’s a direct link between diet and how we function in life. Because I think a lot of people walk around, going through the drive-thru not seeing that there is a connection. There’s a big disconnect between what we put in our mouth and everything else in our life. That it could actually not only affect our health—our physical health—but it could affect how you do your taxes. It could affect how you treat your spouse. It can affect your behavior.
[01:05:53] Dr. David Perlmutter: Disconnection syndrome. We were very surprised early on in January this year, when Brain Wash came out, that it became such a big seller in England in the financial community. We did not predict that. We did not see that coming, but decision-making in terms of investments either is impulsive buy and sell because, “Oh, I feel this is going to be a good thing. I’m going to make money,” or take a deep breath, what’s going to work here by looking at data, and let’s be an investor for the long-term. That’s a prefrontal cortex. So we didn’t see that coming. It was really quite an interesting surprise.
[01:06:36] Ashley James: That’s so cool because you’re reaching people who’ve never really thought about enhancing their diet or their lifestyle, enhancing their health for their decision-making for their brain. So you’re reaching people who don’t normally look into the health space, which is really neat. Now, when you are researching to write this book, as you were writing it with your son, what changed in your life? How did this book change you?
[01:07:02] Dr. David Perlmutter: Yet another great question. I think it did a number of things to me in a very positive way. It certainly helped to reconnect me even at a deeper level to my co-author, who happens to be our son, so that was an interesting thing that happened. In fact, we just was with him this morning and his girlfriend. They’ve done everything right. They quarantined 14 days, and then came to visit, which was totally acceptable.
It also really transcended for me though the level of our messaging. Writing a book like Grain Brain saying, “Eat this, don’t eat that. It’ll be good for you.” Other books that I’ve written, other books that my colleagues have written about various diets and their lifestyle choices that we were working on something that was at a higher order. Whereby, “Yeah, it’s great to read all these terrific books, and watch these programs, and attend these summits, and learn all this information, but guess what, all the books are useless to you if you don’t implement what they’re talking about.”
We realized that we were dealing with a higher order overriding plan that could help people engage in whatever goal they wanted to achieve. Be it weight-loss, be it better health, be it being more financially sound, and having talked about that recently. It was a bit transcendent, and beyond that, it certainly helped me reaffirm why I do what I do in terms of day-to-day lifestyle choices, and really double down on so many of the things that I think are important. Double down on the value of meditation, of exercise, of eating low carb, of intermittent fasting. All the things that we think are very important. Now, with the recognition that this is affecting my brain wiring, not just helping me have a better insulin response. I think that was very enlightening.
[01:09:18] Ashley James: I love it. I love that you got even closer to your son who also chose to be an MD. Did he choose to become an MD because of you?
[01:09:27] Dr. David Perlmutter: Who knows? Did I choose to become an MD because of my father? I don’t know, but it’s given us so much common ground. We relate on so many other levels as well in the things we like to do together. We got to go fishing recently, which was quite wonderful. We’ve always enjoyed that. We looked at each other a couple years ago in a conversation and said, “You know, it’s the decision-making where our efforts are breaking down. It’s not that we don’t know a lot of stuff, and it’s not that we don’t teach a lot of stuff, it’s the patients and their decision making. That’s what we need to write a book about.” That began our research, and that was the manifestation of Brain Wash.
[01:10:10] Ashley James: I love it. I’m a trainer and Master Practitioner trainer of neuro-linguistic programming (NLP). NLP is all about how what in our brain is affecting our results in life, and decision-making is at the root of it. I love that you’re laying this out with all the science. It’s brilliant. Because our mood, even just your mood, if you’re sitting there and you’re feeling down, people think that they’re a victim of their mood. If you wake up on the wrong side of the bed, “Oh, well the whole day is ruined.”
You’re in a mood because our mood directly affects how we’re going to behave. Whether I’m going to go do the dishes, or whether I’m just going to sit in front of the TV. If I’m going to go for that walk and make something healthy to eat, or if I’m just going to order takeout. We become victims of our mood. If we’re in a mood, we’re probably in the amygdala. There’s a way, like in NLP, we learn how to immediately change our mood. You are laying out these steps. If you someone were to go meditate, do a gratitude journal, walk around the block, get some exercise out in nature. Make sure you’re resting, go take a nap, but there are so many things we can do, what we call in NLP, a break state, and we can choose to activate a different mood. We can get out of a bad mood. From a mood where we’re excited, and joy, and happiness, then we’re able to more easily connect with the prefrontal cortex, we’re able to more easily make adult-based decisions, and then our results in life come from that.
Catching ourselves when we’re in a bad mood and going, “Okay, I’m not a victim of this mood. I’m not going to let this mood control me. I’m not going to let the amygdala, which is like this four-year-old terrorist in my brain, try to control me. I am going to switch over, and I’m going to do something right now. One thing I can do, one thing. What can I do right now to switch over from this bad mood into the prefrontal cortex? Picking one thing from your book Brain Wash. I love it. What do you eat? You sort of alluded to eating a whole food plant-based diet, and then you said, “If you want to eat animal products, then make sure they’re clean.” Are you whole food plant-based? How do you eat? What’s on your plate every day?
[01:12:33] Dr. David Perlmutter: Let me go back to Brain Wash for just a moment. We wanted to be as inclusive as possible as it relates to food. What we called for in Brain Wash was OMD, One Meal a Day, being entirely plant-based. Fully recognizing that in and of itself, that was a lot to ask. But for environmental considerations and health considerations, just to get people more into the mindset of the idea of plant-based. I think it’s ultimately better for people to engage in a more plant-based diet. Understand I said more, I didn’t say complete. I know plenty of people engage a fully plant-based diet, but not everyone does that, and I want to be as inclusive as possible.
I am on a mostly plant-based diet. I do consume eggs, pretty much every day, and we eat a lot of wild fish. I allow those things. I think they’re good for us. I mean, for my family based upon how we respond and based upon our genetic profiles, as we’ve seen. We try to put out in Brain Wash the most inclusive but good recommendations that we could.
[01:13:57] Ashley James: Based on science, based on results. You’re seeing that more whole plants, more vegetables. What about legumes? Grains, you talk about not eating grains, but what about whole grains? What about legumes? What about potatoes or sweet potatoes?
[01:14:15] Dr. David Perlmutter: The grains that we objected to are the ones you had mentioned early on: wheat, oats, and barley, and rye as well, of course, but oats are on the on the list where they can go either way. It really depends on where they are milled. If they’re milled in a gluten containing factory, then I wouldn’t include them. But not processed oats I think can be eaten along with other grains, which by definition are seeds of grass, so that would include some wild rice. Other things like amaranth and quinoa. We’re not necessarily talking about by definition grain, but I think there’s a place for these as part of a whole food kind of diet.
Here you are talking to the Grain Brain author, and I’m saying that plates should be mostly colorful above ground vegetables. Frankly, I’ve been saying that since day one. When Grain Brain came out so many years ago, “So this is this Atkins all over again. Dr. Perlmutter wants to eat bacon, and short ribs, and that’s all we’re going to eat.” Anything but. I think a diet, my personal opinion, is that a diet that’s based on mostly meat—a so-called carnivorous diet—that’s getting some attention these days, my feeling is—and I’m entitled to that—that’s not necessarily going to be a healthful diet for most people. Might there be somebody, who based upon his or her genetic polymorphism, that might be a good diet for? I guess so, but I think having spent so much time involved in understanding the role of our gut bacteria in terms of our health and disease resistance, to create a diet that is most appropriate for our gut bacteria is important. That means a diet that’s high in dietary fiber, which nurtures our gut microbes, our gut bacteria.
There is no fiber in any animal product whatsoever—zero. So a diet that’s focused just on animal products isn’t going to give your gut bacteria what they need, and therefore, I think that one should be concerned about a purely carnivorous diet. I think for me, legumes are acceptable if they are cooked. I eat legumes. We do eat a lot of dal, which is lentils. We’ve been doing that for many, many years after I studied Ayurvedic medicine. I think it’s a very calming dietary approach. Coupled with a carbohydrate can be a good source of protein. I don’t necessarily spend a lot of time worrying about lectins per se, but that said, our legumes are cooked.
[01:17:26] Ashley James: Awesome. Very cool. You mentioned that some oats, like gluten-free oats, could be okay. What about gliadin in oats, which is a protein similar to gluten? I’ve heard that could be the reason why we should avoid oats.
[01:17:42] Dr. David Perlmutter: I don’t think that it’s a big issue to worry about in oats. We don’t really use much oats, but my wife does make oat milk and almond milk that we use in coffee. I just think from all that I’ve looked at in terms of oats that are certified gluten-free, I don’t see that as a problem.
[01:18:08] Ashley James: Very good. I love that you say, “Fill your plate with a variety of colorful vegetables that grow above ground,” and then you can have the other things too, but make sure the majority of that plate is filled with a variety of colorful fruit vegetables. What you talked about genetic testing with yourself with some others, polymorphisms was mentioned, how important is it for us as individuals to get genetically tested, to speak with a functional medicine doctor? Is that something we should do? Is it really important to know, or if we ate the way you’ve outlined in your book, we should be good?
[01:18:50] Dr. David Perlmutter: I think in an ideal world it would be very, very helpful for each of us to know what our genetics are, what are the polymorphisms that we carry. I think it’s exceedingly valuable to know this information that what we might be at risk for, and more importantly, how we can offset that risk based upon this knowledge by making certain more aggressive lifestyle changes and interventions, changes in our diets, our supplement regimen, etc. based upon our uniqueness. This is the cornerstone of personalized medicine. I think understanding our genome, and perhaps even our microbiome, are extremely valuable.
I have done several of these studies, and have had my genetics interpreted by several algorithms, and have learned quite a bit about myself that I would never have known about risk for certain things, and about changes that I can make, whether it’s using a methylated b-vitamin or higher levels of vitamin D because I have polymorphisms for vitamin D receptors. My risk for inflammation. A higher risk for melanoma, for example, therefore going to the dermatologist with more regularity. All kinds of things good to know because knowledge is power. As it relates to knowing your genetics and your risks, this is exceedingly empowering.
I know that it is a bit elitist, especially in these times, to be having this conversation because clearly, people are not going to go out and get these tests as readily. But for the most part, these are things that may be able to be sent in the mail from a practitioner to a patient, and then forward it on to a laboratory, and then allow a virtual interaction with the treating physician to go through what it means. Therefore give a patient an individual some very valuable information.
[01:20:51] Ashley James: Right. Also, there’s going to come a time where we’re all integrated back into society, and the virus isn’t an issue anymore. We can just keep this information in our pocket for when it is easier to get this testing. I like that you have thought of a way that we could do it now. There is a way we could mail it in. There is a way we could have a virtual conversation. How does your son Austin or yourself see clients or patients? How would we go about finding the right practitioner to have this genetic testing done?
I’d like to see a holistic approach, so the practitioner doesn’t go, “Oh, well you need to get extra mammograms because you might get breast cancer more because of your genetics.” Not that standpoint, but the, “Oh, because of your genetics, you definitely want to eat even more antioxidants. Or here’s the things you could do to prevent disease so that we cannot have the epigenetic changes occur by having a bad diet, for example.” So a holistic doctor that looks at the functional medicine to support the person and their lifestyle choices, which is what your book teaches us. Is there a website where we can search for a practitioner?
[01:22:22] Dr. David Perlmutter: Sure. I would say first, though, you do want to have a practitioner who might consider mainstream interventions be it CAT scans, MRI, or mammography for example. You want to have access to good technology at the same time that you have access to this good nutritional information, lifestyle modification, supplementation, etc. I think a great place to start would be ifm.org. That’s the Institute for Functional Medicine. You can search that by zip code, by area, and determine who’s practicing in your vicinity, and then interview or at least visit their website. Determine if they do in fact employ genetic testing, if that’s where your interest lies.
[01:23:16] Ashley James: Yes. To clarify, I didn’t mean never have the mainstream medical approach, that kind of prevention where they’re screening for things, but unfortunately, I know some people who got genetic testing and their doctor said, “Well, we need to do a double mastectomy and remove your uterus. Do a whole hysterectomy to prevent cancer.” She was in her early 30s and this is their approach. They see, “Oh, your genetics show that you may be more at risk, so we’re going to remove all these parts of your body.” Rather than, “We’re going to screen you more, we’re going to get you on a really healthy lifestyle to help you prevent it.” Unfortunately, some doctors are taking the approach of screening and going in not in a holistic direction where they’re helping their patient create a whole lifestyle of health.
Of course, if someone went to IFM, they’d be finding a functional medicine practitioner or functional medicine doctor that looks at the body as a whole, which is what we want.
[01:24:29] Dr. David Perlmutter: That’s right. I would say that it would be very unlikely that a mainstream doctor would really be in a position to even offer up this type of genetic testing much less for counseling. Certainly, as it might relate to I think what you were inferring there the BRCA2 gene, for example, that might lead to hysterectomy, oophorectomy, and mastectomy. That is something that might be prompted by that type of physician who took care of this individual sister, or mother, or who knows what, but I think by and large by its nature, that physicians who are using genetic widespread screening and interpretation are generally more integrative/functional.
[1:25:24] Ashley James: Excellent. I do have one final question about grains because I think that this is one you’ve been asked a lot, and you have such a great answer. There are grains in the Bible. We’ve been eating grains for thousands of years. Why now go grain-free? Haven’t we always eaten grains?
[01:25:41] Dr. David Perlmutter: Give us this day our daily bread. I would ask you, when was the Bible written? When was it written? I don’t know. I mean it was written about 2,000 years ago, right? That probably represents less than one-quarter of 1% of our time on this planet when we weren’t eating daily bread. Our genome undergoes changes that are significant. It takes about 70,000 years for a significant genomic change to impart itself, and our genome is refined by our environment by environmental pressures like the foods to which we have access over time.
This just happened. Let’s go even 14,000 years ago when agriculture was developed. This happened in the blink of an eye, just happened. We’ve not had time to genetically adapt. So, that’s the explanation. We haven’t always had bread. We haven’t always had grains. We have almost always had none of this.
[01:26:54] Ashley James: I love it. I love how you just simply put, our genetics are not designed to, our bodies not designed to eat this way because we’ve just started eating this way. When we look at the history of our genetics, we just started eating this new way. Especially when you look at what you eat when you go through the drive-thru. All these refined oils and, all the refined sugars, and everything our body just doesn’t even know what to do with. Then we end up with a huge amount of our population obese, fatty liver disease, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. All diseases of living in the amygdala.
[01:27:41] Dr. David Perlmutter: Living in the amygdala, and all diseases that set a person up for a bad outcome these days as it relates to this pervasive infection.
[01:27:51] Ashley James: Well, I think your book would be such a great gift now that most people are at home. We could jump on Amazon and gift your book. We could send it to our friends and our family members who could benefit from reading it. Right now, we have lots of time. We can turn off Netflix, and listen, or read. Your book’s an audio book, they could listen to it because I know my listeners like to listen to things, or they could get the Kindle edition and read it right now, or they could get the hardcover and get it shipped to them, or they could ship it, or gift it to their friends and family.
This is the perfect time when our routine has been disrupted. I think you mentioned that. This is the perfect time to read your book, and implement these changes, and create a new routine, so when we’re able to integrate back into society, and start living life again, we’re not going back to the old way. We are adapting, and we’re elevating, and we’re evolving, and we’re going to create an even better way to live. I’d love that your book would help us to do that. Of course, the links to everything that Dr. Perlmutter does is going to be in the show notes of today’s podcast at learntruehealth.com.
You are so kindly gifting one of our listeners your book. We’re going to have a contest. It’s going to be in a Learn True Health Facebook group. All the listeners now can go in and comment under that post, and one lucky listener is going to be chosen to win your book. I’m very excited about that, but I think all of us should go and gift your book, start listening to it, or start reading it, and start implementing these changes. Whoever ends up winning it and if you’ve already bought the book, you could gift that physical copy to someone in your life. I’d love for you to leave us with some homework. Is there something that you’d like to tell us to go do today?
[01:29:52] Dr. David Perlmutter: Yes, I would. I’d like your listeners, if they feel so inclined, to over the next one week to everyday write down five things for which they are grateful, and just do it for one week.
[01:30:10] Ashley James: Beautiful. You know what, that’s going to be the part of the giveaway. That’s going to be in the Facebook group. Everyone’s going to write down what they’re grateful for, and then one person will be chosen at random. Sometimes I get my five-year-old son to come in and just point at someone in the comments and that person wins it.
[01:30:32] Dr. David Perlmutter: There you go. That’s pretty random.
[01:30:34] Ashley James: Yeah. He likes it. The last person that won something, because I like to do giveaways in the Learn True Health Facebook group, they were very happy that they were chosen by my son. So it’ll be a lot of fun. Awesome. It has been such a pleasure having you here today.
[01:30:50] Dr. David Perlmutter: Oh, it’s been a wonderful pleasure for me. Thank you so very much for having me today.
[01:30:54] Ashley James: Absolutely, please come back on the show anytime you want to come, and teach, and impart your information. We’d love to have you back.
[01:31:01] Dr. David Perlmutter: I’m delighted. Thanks again.
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