Genetics plays a significant role in determining if we’re healthy or not. We commonly think that diet and lifestyle are the answers to good health, but these are only two components of true health. Sarah Kostusiak, my guest today, has survived through a lot of health issues. So, we’re going to dive in today on how genetics is linked to our health.
Sarah Kostusiak started to deal with blood sugar issues as early as five years old. Coping with it throughout her childhood, her health went from bad to worse when she got so sick in college.
No doctor could pinpoint what was wrong with her. So, at 19 years old, Sarah Kostusiak started a food journal. She initially thought the red meat was the culprit. In an attempt to improve her health, Sarah Kostusiak went vegetarian for ten years. However, being a vegetarian increased her blood sugar issues.
Looking back, Sarah Kostusiak felt that it was probably to gluten sensitivity. Fast forward years later, Sarah Kostusiak was also diagnosed with active reflux, GERD, and even had secondary infertility in 2010. After two kids, she ended up losing a pregnancy at 16 weeks.
Finding A Cure
Sarah Kostusiak realized that her body was tired, making it hard to heal. In an attempt to find a cure, she even went to a nutritionist who advised her to kick out gluten. Aside from that, Sarah Kostusiak also tried to eat fermented foods and adopted a paleo diet.
But things weren’t improving. She got sick to the point that she couldn’t sit up. It was disempowering. That’s why Sarah Kostusiak remained determined to keep looking for a cure and vowed to use her knowledge to help others eventually.
Sarah Kostusiak researched genetics and controlling blood sugar levels. This was during the time that she also dealt with a new health situation wherein she ended up having surgery to have her gallbladder taken out.
“That was causing a level of inflammation in my body. I couldn’t control through food anymore because of gluten other factors. Top it off; I also had gallstones,” shares Sarah Kostusiak.
Ongoing Health Issues
Sixteen years before her surgery, Sarah Kostusiak says she was told that she had too much acid. So, she was also on acid blockers for a few years.
“But I think food sensitivity, a lot of good biomes and digestive enzymes probably caused the inflammation in the gallbladder. Plus, I also had Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) issues,” said Sarah Kostusiak.
That’s not all. Sarah Kostusiak also revealed that during this time, she started to have massive breakouts of acne on her face. Doctors then decided to put her on antibiotics for six months.
“Looking back, when I eat gluten, my body gets a rash or zits. I increased my wheat consumption because I was avoiding meat. But I ended up with candida issues from the antibiotics. Then I had to deal with acid reflux,” said Sarah Kostusiak.
Taking Out Gluten
Sarah Kostusiak looked at her health history and worked backward. She said taking out gluten made a difference.
“Candida is also caused when you eat yeast. Many gluten-free products aren’t healthy,” Sarah Kostusiak said. “I would still get health issues, but once I dug into my genetics and looked at my history, I even had to lay off fermented foods.”
For determining genetics, Sarah Kostusiak uses Ancestry DNA or 23andMe. But she prefers Ancestry DNA nowadays. Because apart from being able to download the data, Ancestry DNA can show you the which genes have a nutritional impact.
“If they test my blood, it’s usually very high because I’m not processing it out. So I take methylated vitamins to support my body that way. And I also remove the histamine-rich foods,” reveals Sarah Kostusiak.
Genes indeed play a significant role in health. I interviewed an author who wrote the book Dirty Genes. The author, Dr. Ben Lynch, talks about the different things you can do naturally to clean the genes, so your body run more efficiently.
“Genetics can give me a clue on what your base. Epigenetics, environment, lifestyle, and diet affect genes. Not all genes can be affected epigenetically. Genetics is the key to see what’s going on in the body,” said Sarah Kostusiak.
Sarah Kostusiak has gone grain-free and leans towards a low-carb or ketogenic diet. This way, she can control her blood sugar levels.
“I believe that blood sugar levels being high, leads to inflammation in the body. So, if I can control my insulin response, then I’m going to reduce my inflammation in my body,” said Sarah Kostusiak.
She adds, “Supporting my body nutritionally and through supplements helps make me much more stable. I started to supplement my body with methylated b vitamins and folinic acid. Getting the sugar and grains out also helped improve my mental clarity, focus, and energy.”
Sarah Kostusiak is working on a detox program now and is more into whole foods. She says it is also essential for her to make an effort to stick to a keto diet even on weekends. Mostly, she says you have to make mindset switch that this is your way of life.
My husband and I had tried the keto diet for two and a half years before we shifted to paleo. I had had a low carb diet, took supplements and ate whole foods to reverse my type 2 diabetes. Grains and sugar are non-existent in my diet, and I stay away from corn aside from being gluten-free and dairy-free.
But then we had extensive bloodwork done in January this year, and it was an eye-opener. Tests showed that our kidneys were damaged, as well as our liver and heart. That’s why my husband and I decided that it was time to stop doing the keto diet.
“I eat fruits now. The keto has its healing effects and has its place in specific situations. Do the keto with a health coach or a Naturopath to monitor it. You can lose many pounds of muscle mass if done incorrectly,” said Sarah Kostusiak.
Sarah Kostusiak has dealt with many patients who have prostate cancer. To prepare for surgery, she helps them lose weight to recover better after surgery.
“Cancer ferments sugar for fuel. By removing the sugars and carbs, which converts to sugar in the body especially refined carbs, that makes someone a fat burner,” explains Sarah Kostusiak.
She adds, “The body will then produce ketones. I can help the person by not encouraging any more growth of cancer. And make them feel better by creating ketones in their body to give them more energy and clarity.”
Sarah Kostusiak usually monitors her clients every two weeks and checks on their muscle mass, body fat, and water weight. She discusses problems with them and looks at their macronutrients as well. Sarah Kostusiak monitors them once a month after that.
Cause Of Prostate Cancer
There are a lot of factors that cause cancer. Sarah Kostusiak says that toxin exposure like roundup is a significant factor. She also deals with clients with infertility issues which can sometimes be linked to the standard American diet.
“Get sugars under control. A large belly is a sign of insulin resistance, and fat tends to be stored in the torso,” Sarah Kostusiak explains. “The fat cells not only hold fat. They hold hormones and toxins. Especially for men, those hormones can be released and convert testosterone to estrogen which can contribute to prostate cancer.”
Once Sarah Kostusiak sees there is progress in a client, she recommends them to go into keto. Because the next step is knowing how to get their protein at the right amount. She says people tend to overeat protein. So, protein levels have to be monitored.
“I have some keto-vegetarian clients. My focus is to make sure they are getting protein. Because you need enough protein to protect your muscle mass. But too much is going to kick you out of ketosis, can convert to sugars and do the opposite things,” said Sarah Kostusiak.
Sarah Kostusiak has genetic mutations which make her sensitive to proteins. If she watches her protein intake, she can lose weight. Otherwise, it would be hard to do so.
Most of the time, Sarah Kostusiak gets her clients to eat a couple of hard-boiled eggs throughout the day. Their diet also includes some sources of nutritional yeast, protein powder, cottage cheese, paneer or Greek yogurt.
Essentially, Sarah Kostusiak suggests that her clients go higher on the carbs. She says 45 to 50 grams of carbs will keep them in the fat burning zone.
Four years ago, Sarah Kostusiak went into premature menopause. She had metabolic syndrome, and her insulin was off the charts. But nobody believed she was having blood sugar problems because her tests would always be normal. Fortunately, her blood sugar levels are now ideal ever since she watches what she eats.
“I am experimenting by adding fruit and rice to my diet. This way, I can gauge what can my body handle now that I reversed my insulin resistance,” Sarah Kostusiak said.
She adds, “You can’t choose one diet. One diet isn’t going to last you your whole life. You must listen to your body. If you don’t listen to your hunger hormones, you’ll be in the same place as you were before.”
Sarah Kostusiak also advises making sure you are getting the right food to supplement your body. Try different types of diet but do it with the help of a health coach. Sarah Kostusiak also eats cabbage at least once a week. She says the fiber rebuilds the gut bacteria.
“Cut out different foods to see what foods you are sensitive to. Then re-introduce foods slowly. Watch the carbs and try to eat three to four cups of veggies daily,” said Sarah Kostusiak. “Listen to your body by cutting out dairy, grains, sugar, alcohol, and legumes. Then on days 31 to 45, introduce slowly again and see how your body reacts.”
Stress is another common reason why our health is in bad shape. Apart from stress, Sarah Kostusiak advises that everyone must know where your food comes from.
“Quality of food matters. Health is not just diet. Diet is just one part. Get enough sleep, take the right supplements for your body, look at the genetics and manage stress,” advises Sarah Kostusiak.
She adds, “Histamine is a genetic component towards sleep. For example, wine keeps me awake. And that’s knowing my body. Be present and eat mindfully. Mind what is going on. Go for a walk, get a hobby, or do something with friends. Let work stay at work.”
Sarah Kostusiak also suggests getting tested regularly. The organic acid test, in particular, is a urine test that can tell us compounds in the urine that are produced during daily metabolism. It can identify health issues like leaky gut, candida, mitochondrial issues and a lot of extra information.
Shopping For Food
Sarah Kostusiak says she doesn’t have time to follow a recipe. But generally, she tends to cook keto recipes at home. She knows her kids’ genes and how they react. Grains are allowed to be eaten whether they are out, but she mainly serves gluten-free dishes at home.
Whenever she goes to the grocery, her list would usually include fresh produce, high-quality protein like chicken or turkey breast, and healthy fats like organic cheese, avocados, coconut oil, and avocado oil. And although she includes bacon in her list, she doesn’t do high fat.
Life, Love And Thyme Blog
Sarah Kostusiak’s blog is such a delight! It’s packed with a wealth of health information, diet tips, activities with kids and gardening. It’s been up for the past five years and is planning to put more recipes and videos on the blog so definitely check it out.
Sarah Kostusiak was born in Indianapolis, IN, but got to Texas as quickly as she could. She was a teacher for 14 years before staying home for nine years to raise her three children.
Sarah Kostusiak spent her life being blown off by mainstream medicine because her symptoms didn’t fit their definition of disease. After years of struggling with IBS, GERD and Gallbladder issues she has discovered that a gluten sensitivity plus Candida are at the core of her health issues.
In 2016, Sarah Kostusiak became a Certified Health Coach. She knew that there was a way to figure out her health issues and help others figure out theirs. Currently, she is working toward a Masters’ Degree in Health and Nutrition Education.
Sarah Kostusiak believes that the key to health is the fuel you put into your body. She takes a holistic approach to health by looking at genetics, food sensitivities, blood markers and helping people learn to listen to their body.
Sarah Kostusiak currently practices in Round Rock, TX where she sees clients of all ages. Her primary focus is helping people control their insulin response by showing them how to live a low carb lifestyle and reduce inflammation in the body.