Rosalee dela Foret And Ashley James
- Benefits of taking in nettles
- Benefits of taking in dandelion
- Bitter deficiency syndrome
- Benefits of taking in or applying plantain herb
- Uses for mallow
- Know the poisonous plants such as death camas, poison hemlock, and water hemlock
- Astragalus and codonopsis strengthen lung function
Did you know that some of the weeds that grow in our gardens and parks have medicinal properties? In this episode, clinical herbalist Rosalee de la Foret enumerates some of these medicinal plants. She talks about what we can do with each weed and how they benefit us.
Hello, true health seeker and welcome to another episode of Learn True Health podcast. Clinical certified herbalist Rosalee de la Foret is here today to teach us all about wild-crafted herbs that are in our own backyard, and how we can utilize them for our health. She reversed an autoimmune condition that the doctor said would be impossible to reverse. In fact, she shouldn’t even be alive right now, and it’s all thanks to natural medicine that she is here today thriving healthy and teaching us how we can do the same.
Rosalee wants to gift a copy of her book to one of our listeners, so please go to Learn True Health Facebook group and in the Learn True Health Facebook group, there’ll be a post, you can comment there, and one of the comments will be chosen at random. One person will be chosen at random to win a copy of Rosalee’s book, her Wild Remedies book, which is so exciting. So please go to the Learn True Health Facebook group. You can go to learntruehealth.com/group, that’ll take you straight to the Facebook group, or search Learn True Health on Facebook and join the group so you could potentially win a copy of her book.
Join the Facebook group anyway because it’s a wonderful, healthy, and supportive community. I believe we’re about to hit 4,000 people. Everyone is so supportive and loving. I love how the community has grown together to help each other. There’s a great search function in the group, so if you’re looking for you could type the word asthma, allergies, or acne—it’s a lot of words I’m thinking of—shampoo, air purifier, and water purifier. We’ve had these so many great discussions about these kinds of topics—natural household cleaners, cosmetics, and everything that you can think of we’ve had great discussions. There are wonderful threads with lots of information where dozens of people have come together and share what they use, their experiences, and their reviews on different products, so you can get great insights into this holistic health world from this whole community, and it’s free.
So come join the Learn True Health Facebook group. I’d love to see you there and potentially win a copy of Rosalee’s book. Awesome. Thank you so much for being a Learn True Health listener. Thank you so much for sharing this podcast with those you love. Let’s help as many people as possible to learn true health.
[00:02:48] Ashley James: Welcome to the Learn True Health podcast. I’m your host, Ashley James. This is episode 429. I am so excited for today’s guest. We have a wonderful woman on the show specializing in herbs, and what I love is that she’s going to teach us about how to explore our own backyard because remedies are right around the corner. Rosalee de la Foret, it is so wonderful to have you on the show today.
[00:03:19] Rosalee de la Foret: I’m so happy to be here, Ashley. Thanks for having me.
[00:03:21] Ashley James: Absolutely. Now your latest book is Wild Remedies: How to Forage Healing Foods and Craft Your Own Herbal Medicine. I think all listeners just got tingles. It’s so exciting especially in this era where we’re rediscovering what it means to be self-sustainable. To be able to go into our backyard and craft a remedy or craft something that is healing for the body is so wonderful. In fact, now, it’s nettles season—stinging nettles. I have a cooking membership called Learn True Health Home Kitchen, and we just filmed how to forage wild nettles and how to make delicious stinging nettle soup.
[00:04:08] Rosalee de la Foret: Oh, yum.
[00:04:09] Ashley James: Oh, it’s so, so, so, so good. That’s just one of the many things that people can go into their backyard or go into a park nearby and find these delicious herbs, not all of them are delicious, but these very healing herbs out there. You also specialize in mushrooms so we’re going to have a great conversation today, and listeners are going to really enjoy learning from you. Before we dive into that though, I want to learn a bit more about you. What happened in your life that had you want to teach people how to explore the world of herbalism?
[00:04:47] Rosalee de la Foret: Well, I have been interested in natural health for a very long time. I was kind of an odd teenager. When I got my driver’s license when I was 16, I remember thinking I was just so excited because now I could drive myself to the health food store. Not a lot of my friends were like that as you might imagine. I remember doing things like getting out Vitamins for Dummies at the library and making flashcards so I could learn what vitamin A is, where it’s found, and the deficiencies associated with it. I’ve long been interested in natural health in that way, and I just dabbled here and there as a teenager, early 20s using natural remedies and supplements for minor health conditions.
It was when I was in my early 20s, I came down with a really mysterious illness. I had this crazy fever. I would get a fever at night only, and it’d be kind of low-grade, but it was very persistent. Actually, it would be high-grade at night, and then in the morning, it would be down to 99. At night, I would have this 103 degrees fever, and then in the morning it would be 99. I wouldn’t have a fever at all during the day, and I’d get this fever at night, it was so bizarre. I had these incredible aches and pains. I could barely move. I was in my bed for like a month. I was just in my young 20s, and I just thought I had a cold or the flu because I had a fever. At that time, that’s the only thing I thought you ever got a fever for was a cold or really the flu.
I just thought I had the flu, I just stayed in bed, I was in a lot of pain, and didn’t get out of bed much. I had this rash that would move around my body too, so I’d have this rash on my legs, and then the next day it would be on my chest. It was very itchy and salmon-colored like it’s kind of bright orange color. Anyway, totally bizarre, and just for that whole month I just waited to get better. I didn’t get better and ended up going to the hospital. At the hospital, they kept me there for four days, and they took all sorts of blood samples. I had actually started going to a wilderness survival school prior to this, so they were testing me for all sorts of things because I just thought I must have caught some kind of weird disease from wildlife or something, so they tested me for all sorts of stuff.
I couldn’t find anything wrong, sent me home, and then two weeks later, I remember I was in the grocery store and I got the phone call and they said that I had a whole team of people working on it. The person on the phone said, “Well, we figured out what it is. It’s a very rare autoimmune disease, and it’s called Still’s disease. You should come in.” I went in to see my doctor, and she said, “Well, I talked to your team of specialists. There was an immune specialist there, but really, there is nothing we know about this disease. There’s no cure for it. You can expect a steady decline in life with a life expectancy around 40,” and she gave me a brochure about it and told me that there was a Yahoo discussion group that I could talk to other people who had this disease because it’s very rare. But she basically said there’s nothing we can do for you.
Obviously, that was a state of shock. I was this, what I had thought, healthy 22-year-old, and then I was just given this terminal illness diagnosis. For two days, I took it really hard and just kind of the pits of despair wondering why me? After two days, I just snapped out of it all of a sudden, and I was just like no this is not how this is going down. I got every book I could about rheumatoid arthritis because even though my disease was very rare, I knew it was very similar to rheumatoid arthritis. I just got all sorts of books, and I learned about things that are pretty well known now, but back in the early 2000s were not well-known. Things like intestinal permeability, how important vitamin D is, and overall diet.
At the time, I was very interested in natural health, and I was eating what I thought was a very healthy diet, which was all organic, lots of wheat, lots of soy. That was the basis of my diet were those two things and vegetables, but obviously, lacking in so many ways. I learned all about this stuff. I totally overhauled my diets, got rid of wheat and soy. I slowly started working with other practitioners, acupuncturists, Naturopaths, herbalists. I drank a lot of really strange gross tasting Chinese herbal medicine teas. Those are not really designed to taste well, but I would drink them down dutifully, really studied up on vitamin D, and started supplementing.
Anyway, I did all of these things, and six months later, I had no symptoms. It was a huge paradigm shift for me because, before this, I was already interested in natural health, but I thought it was for boo-boos, like minor things. If you had some serious condition, obviously, you would go to the doctor, but that’s what I did, and I got no health from this whole team of specialists at a hospital. That was just a huge paradigm shift for me. One thing that was really fascinating to me is I went to see all of these different practitioners and none of them said—and they’re also called alternative health realm—none of them said you have this named disease for which there is no cure therefore you are doomed. What they said was after a two-hour intake or all of that kind of stuff, they said who are you, and how can we better facilitate overall health?
It was through all of that that I didn’t have any symptoms six months later. It was, obviously, so amazing to me on so many levels. I proudly went back to my doctor because, obviously, she would want to know about this. I basically single-handedly cured an autoimmune disease. I was in my young 20s, just very like, oh yeah I’m going to go tell her all about it. I went. I scheduled an appointment and I went. I was like, “I just thought you’d want to know that I no longer have debilitating pain in my joints, no longer have the fevers, I no longer have the rash, I have no symptoms, and I’m feeling great.” She asked what I did, and I said, “Well, I think it really revolved around the herbs I took, overhauling my diet, and really changing things.” I remember very clearly what she said. She said, “There is no scientific proof that your diet would affect an autoimmune disease.” She said, “Glad you’re better, you were probably misdiagnosed.” Even though I had all of the symptoms, how could I have been misdiagnosed? But that was all she had and she showed me the door, which I can understand looking back. I can see my 22-year-old self proudly walking in and claiming all these things.
As a doctor, she’s looking for evidence-based medicine and one person saying something didn’t really set off her bells in any good way, but I knew it in my heart. I knew that I was better, and it was so astounding to me. I really started to think about how many other people out there have my same experience whether it was Still’s disease or some other chronic illness and were just told that’s a name disease that we don’t have a pill for yet, so good luck. I wanted to help other people. As I mentioned, I was already in Wilderness School at the time, and I was studying plants. Through that school, I was studying them through the lens of ethnobotany, so doing a lot of fieldwork, and learning how to identify plants, learning how to harvest them sustainably, learning how to use them for food and basketry. But after that, I really sat into my calling and I knew I wanted to be a clinical herbalist.
I went to many different herb schools. I have done over 10 years at different schools and just learned everything I could about how to use plants as medicine. That’s how it all got started was with that one door being shut and deciding to walk through another.
[00:13:30] Ashley James: That is so cool. I’ve actually interviewed people and doctors on the show that have reversed their autoimmune conditions using diet, herbs, supplements, and supporting the body in its ability to heal itself. They’ve come up against the same resistance in the medical community. One of the doctors that I interviewed recently, she’s gone on to create studies where she’s getting whole groups of people with MS and reversing it, publishing her findings, and proving. We just need to get enough people with Still’s disease to copy what you did and then show that you can get the same results.
It’s frustrating that the medical community pushes back so much when new discoveries are created. I actually interviewed a gastroenterologist Ph.D. He teaches medical doctors, and he specializes in doing surgeries of the intestines. He discovered and found a new illness, a new diagnosis, which is small intestinal fungal overgrowth. We never experienced that 50 years ago, that wasn’t even a thing, but it is a thing now. He tried to publish it, and there was a huge resistance. That the medical community didn’t want to accept his findings because it was new. It’s really interesting that he found how much resistance there is to anything new.
We have to push back in big ways. We have to figure out how to get this information out there, and how to get studies together. As I mentioned, get a group of people with Still’s disease together, or get a group of people and then do a study, continue to prove and show that what you stumbled upon really works. I also have had many guests, listeners, and clients who have had type 2 diabetes reversed it with natural medicine and diet and then gone back to their doctors who are treating them for 10 or 20 years, continuing them on medication for many years, and the doctors don’t want to know how they reversed it. That blows my mind.
The doctors that these people have told me about that were their doctors. I know that not all doctors are like this, but so many of them who treat people for an illness, continuing to give them drugs year after year when there are ways to no longer have that illness. These doctors aren’t interested in learning how to heal the body naturally, that blows my mind too. That’s why I do this podcast, and that’s why you’re doing what you do, so we can help people to advocate for themselves. Obviously, you want people to have a good doctor. We can’t wait and just give our health over to the doctor, we have to educate ourselves.
I love what you do because what you’re teaching, especially in your latest book Wild Remedies, we can learn how to support our body’s ability to heal itself every day of the year. Go for your physical and see that you’re getting healthier and healthier, continue to work with good doctors, fire the bad ones, hire the good ones, and know that we have to take our health into our own hands.
There you were, you had reversed Still’s disease, a disease that has no cure and you’ll have it for the rest of your life and you’ll die in your 40s. Here you are, very healthy and vibrant. How old are you now?
[00:17:47] Rosalee de la Foret: I’m actually turning 40 this year.
[00:17:48] Ashley James: So you’re an 80s kid. Me too, I just turned 40. You’re vibrant and healthy and you’re still free of all the symptoms of Still’s disease?
[00:18:00] Rosalee de la Foret: Yeah. I’ve never had them since.
[00:18:02] Ashley James: I love it. That’s so cool. Yes, autoimmune conditions can be reversed. I’ve had so many guests on the show who have reversed their own, and it is so inspiring because people who are trapped in that vicious cycle of having autoimmune flare-ups, I’ve been told by so many specialists that this is their life, this is the new normal, and that they’ll never really get better, and then they believe them. So it takes people like you to share with them that there is a possibility, there is a way that they can escape that prison and have a body that’s healthy and vibrant. What had you want to write Wild Remedies?
[00:18:48] Rosalee de la Foret: It begins with a trip to Ireland, actually. In 2017, I’d published my first book Alchemy of Herbs. People had asked me—as soon as the first book was published—the question was, when are you going to write your second one? I was just so burnt out from that process. I was like never. I have no interest in that whatsoever, but I went to Ireland that year. I was visiting a friend. During that trip, I also got the chance to meet Tori Amos, who is my heroine. She’s a big influence in my life. She’s a piano composer, singer, and songwriter. I had the chance to meet her, and I gave her a copy of the book. She asked me, “How do you get the best results with herbs?” She went on to ask something about how do you take the herbs?
At the time, I was totally like I’m meeting Tori Amos, she’s asking me a question, but I hope I said something semi-intelligent to her, something about bringing plants into our life, and then it’s not just the one thing we do but it’s all the things we do. We had that conversation, and days later, I just kept thinking about that question from her, how do you get the best results from herbs? I just really thought about it from so many different angles. It just hit me, it was one of those things that just landed in my lap. It was so clear, that’s what you will write a book about.
Just after that, I thought I will write this book with Emily Han, who’s a colleague of mine and now a friend. I called her up and I said, “We need to write a book about this.” She was like, “Okay, you’re right.” She knew too. The book is really about—it’s kind of getting back to my herbal roots because as I mentioned, I first began learning in the field, learning with the plants themselves, nature connection, and observance was a really big part of my learnings. Then I steered off on to this clinical herbalist path where the focus was more on herbs that you buy and formulas, just kind of a different focus.
This book is coming back full round to really talk about the importance of nature connection. The healing that’s found there on a personal level as we get to interact with nature, looking at the ecology that’s outside of our doors beyond even just us and the plants, but also all of the creatures there and all of just the beauty and wonder that’s found within there, and being able to then participate in all of that, and recognizing that as humans, we are a part of this earth and not apart from it, and learning how to sink ourselves back into those rhythms. So living through the seasons, changing our habits or the things we do as the seasons change around us, and also learning to identify and recognize all of this plant medicine and plant foods that grow so abundantly around us.
A lot of the book focuses on weeds because (1) that’s what people find around them, but (2) it’s because I know that those weeds that show up so abundantly around us are the plans that can for so much profound healing. You mentioned stinging nettle earlier. That stinging nettle is in both of my books, and I was just thinking about that today because that’s one I would never want to be without. It has so many amazing healing properties and in many locales grows abundantly, and it’s just right out there waiting to be interacted with.
[00:22:32] Ashley James: Nice. I love it. That’s so cool. Since launching your book Wild Remedies, have you had any feedback from your readers?
[00:22:44] Rosalee de la Foret: Yes, absolutely. We’ve been doing a lot with the book. As far as we know, about 20,000 copies sold already. We have a Facebook group, and there is just so much interaction going on there. People are posting recipes, and I’m getting tagged on Instagram every day. Numerous times a day people are making the recipes, which is so much fun to see people getting out, people wondering what the plants are that are growing around them. We’ve had over 200 reviews so far on Amazon as well, so I’ve been getting lots of feedback, lots of emails. In fact, I spent this morning trying to go through my inbox again because I’m getting hundreds of emails every couple of days. It’s been really, really wonderful, and a lot to take in too.
[00:23:37] Ashley James: Very cool. Any specific feedback you’ve gotten from Wild Remedies that stands out? Any stories of success you’d like to share?
[00:23:45] Rosalee de la Foret: At this point, with the book being less than a month old, most of the feedback has come around the joy that people are experiencing of going outside. Right now a lot of people are still sheltering in place and practicing social distancing, which can feel isolating, which can be depressing on some level, and certainly just even anxiety about the state of the world we’re in. A big part of the book is about getting out and using awareness and observation to see all the beauty that’s out there, whether it’s beautiful flowering plants or the little snails that are sliding along the leaves. In general, that’s the biggest feedback that I’ve seen so far as people being able to set down their feelings of isolation, set down anxiety, set down the sadness, and take a step out into the world.
When I say interacting with the plants around them, I happen to live in the wilderness, but my co-author, Emily, she lives in LA. We wanted the book to be very applicable to everybody, whether they’re in suburban, or urban, or rural environments. That’s what I’m hearing from people too. One of the exercises in the book is to find nature and unexpected places especially for those urban dwellers, and people finding beauty out there even if they live in a land that has a lot of concrete. Nature is always there, the plants are always there, and creatures are always there.
Being able to observe that and feel that that’s been definitely the biggest feedback. Because the book has been on my mind and something I’ve been really tapping into too is sometimes I don’t realize how anxious or worried I’ve become with everything that’s going on, or just even sadness, missing my friends, or plans that didn’t get to play out this year, or all of that, and worry for people on the front lines. I don’t even realize how much I’m holding that in until I go outside, take a walk, and I take time to slow down and see all of that.
I feel that connection to nature, it’s something I’m sure so many of us are aware of but it’s so easy to just be like yeah, yeah, yeah nature connection, sure, sure, sure, but there are so many studies these days about showing how important being outside is and how that really plays a powerful role in our overall mental well-being. There’s been some popular headlines in the news from time to time, people showing doctors in certain countries are prescribing nature in order to help people, and it’s really based on studies. There was a 2015 Stanford University research study and it looked at the brain activity of people who went on a local nature walk and compared it with those who walked on a high-traffic street. The conclusion was that walking in nature could lead to a lower risk for depression and other mental illnesses.
There’s another study that looked at 1000 residents in Sweden. In that study, the researchers concluded that the more often people visited urban green spaces, so again, it doesn’t have to be some idealistic mountaintop or anything but urban green spaces, the less often those people reported stress-related illnesses, they reported less burnout, less insomnia, fatigue, depression, and even feelings of panic. There is lots of information out there showing how important nature is in terms of that scientific realm. That’s so fascinating to look at. I like to talk about it, remind people about it, but I think when we get out there and have that moment of feeling more calm, more centered, more peaceful, feeling that in our bodies how joyful it can be, that is the biggest proof, right?
We can look at the studies and find them interesting, but when we feel it in our bodies that’s the most profound. To have that joy and be able to say yes, I want more of this, and to make it a regular habit that becomes really, really important. There are so many studies looking at even stress hormones specifically and how you can reduce those. Even just 20 minutes outside can significantly reduce stress hormones. Tell you what, Ashley, I think a lot of people could use that right now.
[00:28:27] Ashley James: If we took your book, Wild Remedies, and we went outside—I could go in my backyard. I live on five acres out in the woods in Snohomish. This is just 30 minutes away from Seattle. Those who don’t have that luxury of being out in the woods like me could go to the local park, or just find trails, find places where there’s trees, grass, and nature and go for a walk and see if they could find. It’s like an adult scavenger hunt, like a holistic scavenger hunt—see how many wild remedies they can find in their neighborhood.
What’s really exciting about stinging nettles is that they grow everywhere. I thought they only were in the Pacific Northwest until I started looking into them, and they’re everywhere. Let’s start with stinging nettles. Tell us about stinging nettles. Why would we want to forage for them and use them especially now since this is the time to harvest them?
[00:29:35] Rosalee de la Foret: Yeah, this is the time of stinging nettle. In fact, later today, that is what I’m going to be doing is harvesting stinging nettle myself. With nettle, the thing that just jumps out immediately with nettle is how nutrient-dense it is. Many of us know that our modern-day fruits and vegetables, ones that are commonly found in the grocery store, often have less nutrients or even missing nutrients from their former selves. We tend to breed out nutrients by making fruit sweeter or tastier in some way. If you think of the original tomato, it was not anything like what we know today. They were small, they had a very different taste, and over time, we bred them to be bigger and bigger and juicier and sweeter. But in that situation, we have also bred out a lot of the nutrients.
We can also lose nutrients because of monoculture farming and growing crops in nutrient-depleted soils. If the nutrients aren’t in our soils they aren’t in our food. Whatever the reason, many of our foods just don’t contain the vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that they once did. Stinging nettle is a great way to get those nutrients back into our lives because they are one of the most nutrient-dense plants out there. Just eating them, having them as teas, they are just so chock-full of minerals and vitamins. They bring us a lot in that regard. Because of that, getting that potent nutrient intake, especially if we are eating them or taking a strong tea regularly, they have a lot of vitamins and nutrients specifically for bones.
I’ll often say there’s the side effect of eating nettles includes things like stronger more luxurious hair, stronger nails and teeth, and healthier bones. They really do affect that in a strong way. That deep nourishment is a really important reason to enjoy nettle and a reason why I think most people can really benefit from enjoying nettles. They are quite tasty too, so that’s a fun aspect of them to be able to enjoy those nutrients and this delicious green. They do not taste like kale and they do not taste like spinach, but it’s in that same genre of this dark leafy green that has just so many vitamins and minerals in there.
Another reason that nettles is incredibly important for many of us today is that regularly using them can help us reduce or modulate inflammation. It can do that in a variety of ways. One way that I commonly recommend it to people is for seasonal allergies, which is this inflammatory response going on. Nettles can help modulate that response, and they do that in interesting ways. You could be drinking nettle tea whenever your allergy season starts. Many people report that when they do that their allergy symptoms that year are lessened. That’s one way to prevent that process from happening. I love that. I can only imagine all the processes that must be going on in the body to make that happen and just all the inflammation that’s being modulated. People are seeing results with their seasonal allergies but must be feeling it in their bodies on many different levels.
You can also take something like freeze-dried nettle, and that can be used for acute allergy symptoms, again, modulating that inflammation. There has been a couple of really cool studies look at how a fresh alcohol extract of nettle leaves can reduce inflammation and blood glucose levels on people with type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance. I’m sure I don’t need to tell your listeners that there’s a whole approach to working with people and helping to reverse that process, so I don’t mean to say that nettles are the one quick stop solution, but they can be a part of an overall protocol. One of the studies that looked at that fresh alcohol extract for people with type 2 diabetes, they concluded that nettle may decrease risk factors for cardiovascular incidents and other complications in patients with type 2 diabetes. It can lower blood glucose but is seen in decreasing risk factors for cardiovascular health as well.
Another way that it can help modulate inflammation is with musculoskeletal pain. It’s high in vitamins and nutrients and sometimes the depletion of those vitamins and nutrients can lead to musculoskeletal pain. By having that restored, that can affect things. It’s really high in magnesium, calcium and so that’s one way. There’s also another kind of strange way. If everyone knows what we’re talking about stinging nettles, they do sting, right? That’s where they get their name. If you brush up against them with your bare skin they will sting you. They have these little needle-like prickles all over them especially on the stems and underneath the leaves.
What those do is they’re these hollow point needles and when you brush up against them they actually inject your skin with their special little juice there, and you will have a mild reaction. It can be a little rash, and it could be a little painful, a little itchy. It’s very mild though. It’s not that big of a deal unless you really go for it. But we know that the sting of fresh nettle can actually bring blood flow to an area, can bring healing hormones, and will decrease pain.
That’s an old folkloric use of stories of women going off into the forest to harvest fresh stinging nettles to help with their arthritic hands. But that researchers have actually looked into this too, and there were two studies done showing that fresh nettle brushed up against: one study was the thumb and one study was the knees, and both showed that that can reduce pain and inflammation, which I just thought was kind of hilarious, Ashley. Can you imagine calling in for that to be a volunteer for that study? Yes, you can whip me with fresh nettles. Here’s my thumb, here’s my knee.
We do know from tradition and science that fresh nettles sting is actually therapeutic. People can get worried about getting that sting. For myself, I don’t have arthritis and stuff so I don’t necessarily go looking for that sting. When I harvest fresh nettles I do wear gloves and that sort of thing, but I often do get stung just because it would brush up against with my arms or something. It’s really not that big of a deal, but in terms of eating it just because I know people often wonder about this, when you eat the nettles you want to blanch them, which immediately gets rid of the sting with them. Eating them is not an unpleasant experience once you blanch them. They get rid of their sting.
[00:36:50] Ashley James: For those who don’t know what blanching is, you put them in hot water. That’s what blanching is. You can steam them, or you can put them in a soup, or you can put them in hot water to make a tea, and then they’re no longer stinging you. However many thousands of years ago, Roman soldiers used to rub their bodies with stinging nettles in order to stay warm at night. I thought that was interesting because that sting does bring blood to the surface, makes you feel warm, but I’m sure it would also help with their aches and pains from just being soldiers, which is really cool. I wonder if they also ate them—rub their bodies with them and then ate them.
[00:37:33] Rosalee de la Foret: It would not surprise me. I was in France a few years ago. My husband is French and we go to visit his family. We were in central France in the same area where the caves of Lascaux are, those very ancient caves and with all of the art there. We were walking around these caves and I found all of these stinging nettles there. They believe that people were living in the caves 35,000 years ago, and to find all of these nettles growing around the caves, it really made me think of like wow. It’s probably impossible to imagine how long nettles and humans have been interacting together.
[00:38:16] Ashley James: It’s considered a weed. It’s also high in K2, you mentioned the minerals. It really is great for joints and helping the body build healthy bones because the K2 is needed along with those minerals in order to lay new bone tissue, and then you’re out in the sun getting vitamin D. That completes the perfect picture. It’s high in antioxidants and polyphenols, so it’s just fantastic food all around, and it’s free. We just have to go outside and find it. It is in every area. I can’t think of an area it wouldn’t be other than the Antarctic. Stinging nettles, aren’t they in Asia, Africa, North America, and South America? Aren’t they everywhere?
[00:39:11] Rosalee de la Foret: They do grow in many places. I’m not sure about all of those areas. I’m not saying they don’t, I just don’t know about that myself, but it would not surprise me. There are several species of nettles as well. We have our native species and other species that have moved in. They find their niches wherever they like to grow. They like really protein-dense soils, and they do like a bit of shade, but they also like a little bit of sun. You can find them in forests, along the edge of meadows. Once they’ve settled themselves in their little niche, they can do quite well there.
[00:39:46] Ashley James: I interviewed Naturopathic physician Dr. Jenn Dazey who specializes in teaching botany at Bastyr University. She wrote a book called Naturopathic Gardening, and she has this theory about soil and weeds. Weeds are herbs and are just what you’re teaching. She says that when the earth is disrupted, it’s like a wound. Let’s say we scratched ourselves, our skin is broken, and we’re bleeding. That’s a wound. The body creates this scab over the top so that it can build new skin. When the earth is disrupted, the earth is like an open wound. The earth wants to immediately create a poultice and a scab to heal the exposed earth. It brings in fast-growing weeds as some of the first plants to heal that opened or disturbed soil much like our body would.
When she said that it changed my opinion about weeds. From being these pests to being the healers of the planet and our bodies also. Oftentimes, stinging nettles will grow where the earth has been disturbed as well or nearby, so I thought that was really neat. What other wild remedies are really common like dandelion? We could talk about dandelion, everyone knows dandelion. Let’s talk about dandelions, and then tell us more about ones that maybe we don’t know which are in our backyard.
[00:41:30] Rosalee de la Foret: Dandelion, it is one that I love to talk about. In terms of healing the earth, that is just the perfect example, so it’s a great segue herb there. Dandelion has this very deep taproot that goes into the earth. It pulls up nutrients and then brings those nutrients into the soil around it as well as the plant itself and then also helps to break up hard-packed soil as well. It can help aerate the soils, bring nutrients from deeper in the earth back up into the topsoil. It’s a wonderful healer in that regard. We have some lawn purists out there who tend to hate dandelion. I think many of us were just taught to. We didn’t question it. We were just told dandelion’s bad and they should be removed from lawns.
Billions of pounds of herbicides are poured onto dandelions every year mainly by homeowners in the attempt to find that perfect lawn, which is ironic on so many levels. Because one, we’ve been basically taught to poison the earth that we live on, which is just horrific to me. But also, so many of those chemicals that are used are known to be carcinogenic, can promote the growth of cancer, and increase the incidence of cancer. Whereas dandelion is a herb that is widely celebrated for helping people who do have cancer, so that’s an interesting thing there that so many people are poisoning a plant that so many of us could benefit from these days.
Dandelion, like stinging nettle, is wonderful food as well as wonderful medicine. The first medicine I think it brings is joy. Personally, I would just see the dandelion coming out of a crack in a sidewalk, I just love that sign of resilience and this idea of finding beauty in all these places and that dandelion can take root there to grow. Right now on my lawn and around here—I live in an agricultural area and so there’s dandelions and lots of agricultural fields. Those yellow blossoms will just fill a whole area, and I just think that is so beautiful. It’s reminiscent of the tulip fields in Amsterdam. It’s that beautiful. They’re so prolific and so gorgeous. That’s really fun just that joy there. If we wait a little while, then of course those flowers will go to seed and then the plant gives us free wishes—another joyful thing. So many things to celebrate with dandelions.
As food, all parts of the plant can be used as food. The roots can be used as food. As I mentioned, they are nutrient-dense. They pulled up all those great riches from deep down in the earth. The roots have a bit of a bitter flavor to them. I like to pickle them or put them in stir-fries if I’m eating them as food. The roots are tremendous for the liver. That’s their claim to fame is that they really help the liver function well. I regularly enjoy dandelion roots, even though I don’t have known liver issues, just as a way of supporting my liver health because that little organ of ours does so much. The more that we can give it a little boost and support its healthy functions, the better.
Eating the root is great, but probably my favorite thing to do with dandelion roots is to chop them up, roast them, then simmer them, and make what some people call dandelion coffee. It doesn’t really taste like coffee, but it does—because you roast the roots—have this rich roasted flavor that’s reminiscent of coffee. Essentially you’re making a tea, but it does have a little more of like an oomph to it. That’s one of my favorite ways to enjoy dandelion. It just tastes so delicious. That’s a great way to just enjoy it as food and as medicine and support for the liver. It’s also often added to bitters blends, and the leaves are used as bitters too, so might as well talk about bitters, which is one of my favorite topics.
In herbal medicine, the bitter taste of herbs is really important. So many of our foods today, we’ve talked about this earlier with stinging nettle, we bred our foods to be sweeter oftentimes. This is what we’re going for. We’ve often removed the bitter flavor from food. You think about wild salad greens versus iceberg lettuce. There are so many salad greens out there that are making a comeback today that have that bitter flavor to them. I grew up eating iceberg lettuce. That was the salad that you ate was iceberg lettuce. Anyway, even romaine lettuce, which is a little bit better nutrient value than the iceberg lettuce, still does not have a lot of flavors.
That bitter flavor is so incredibly important. It signals to our whole body that nutrients are along the way and we need to get started and ready for it. For example, if you can think of having something that’s bitter, and a great example is a dandelion leaf. If someone happens to have chewed on that, but any bitter flavor will do, what happens when you have the bitter flavor is that you immediately start to salivate more. That saliva then helps to break down carbohydrates, and it begins that whole digestive process. It creates this whole cascade of events that gets our digestive system up and moving: releases hydrochloric acid in the stomach, pancreatic enzymes are released, from that, peristalsis is stimulated. The bitter flavor also stimulates the release of bile from the gallbladder as well as the production of bile in the liver.
The bitter taste is like 101 for our digestive system. Herbalists, we love to talk about how so many of our modern-day digestive issues could be traced back to a bitter deficiency syndrome, which is basically that we aren’t eating bitter things that helped to stimulate our appetite. Dandelion leaves are a great way to do that, as are the roots as I mentioned. This time of year with these greens in the springtime, those greens can be younger, fresh, and tender. They have a bitter taste, but it’s not overwhelming. It’s not take a bite and make a face kind of bitter. It’s more of a there’s kind of a spark to it almost. It’s definitely an enlivening taste because there is a little something there.
Dandelion greens have been used as—some people call it—a bitter tonic but like a bitter springtime digestive aid for so many years. It’s a big tradition in Europe that goes back thousands of years undoubtedly. My husband, he says he remembers going out in the springtime with his mother to wild fields and harvesting dandelion leaves. That was just something you always did. Everybody knew to do that. His family is from the Alps, and in the Alps, they have really traditionally heavy foods in the wintertime: preserved meats, lots of cheeses, and potatoes—so really heavy foods. Eating bitters and drinking bitter drinks is a tradition that still lives on there. I can see why we just need to. You need that bitter oomph if you’re going to eat that really heavy food for a long period of time.
This time of year, having those bitter greens is a great way to get digestion going. One of my favorite ways to do that is a dandelion pesto. You basically make a pesto-like you’d make a basil pesto but you make it with dandelions. It’s slightly bitter but you’ve added some lemon juice, some salt, some nuts, and it kind of tames it a little bit, but I often bring that to potlucks and share it with friends. It’s a great conversation starter because people are what is that? It’s always a crowd-pleaser, and you get to talk to people about how amazing dandelion is. Hopefully, if somebody’s there who is still spraying dandelions, you can open up a conversation that why people might want to stop doing that on so many different levels, but mainly the joy of having free food available to you like the dandelion pesto.
The flowers, of course, are gorgeous too. They are high in lutein, beta carotene so they are also nutrient-dense. I didn’t mention that about the leaves, but the leaves are high in potassium, phosphorus, calcium, and also beta carotene. The leaves and roots are also really high in inulin, that prebiotic that is so wonderful for our healthy gut flora as well. There are so many reasons to enjoy those, but it’s the flowers, again, joyful. Those are edible too. I love this time of year when they’re so plentiful, I love adding them to salads. Yesterday I made a socca bread, which is chickpea flour-based bread. I decorated it with dandelion flowers, violet flowers, and dandelion leaves and made this pretty botanical scape on top of the bread. That was really fun. They’re joyful to add these. People make all sorts of things with the dandelion flowers too from jams, jellies, and all sorts of preserves as well.
[00:51:06] Ashley James: Really?
[00:51:07] Rosalee de la Foret: Yeah.
[00:51:09] Ashley James: That’s awesome. We can eat the flower, the leaves, and the root. What about the stem?
[00:51:14] Rosalee de la Foret: The stem is filled with this milky latex that is especially bitter, so it’s not very fun to eat, but that is a folkloric remedy for warts. You harvest that stem, and if you break off the stem, you’ll see it immediately exude this milky sap. It’s kind of sticky, and you apply that to warts every day. The thing with that is it has to be super consistent. I often recommend internal things as well, but even though we don’t want to eat the stem necessarily, it also offers some medicinal benefits which I just love that with dandelion. It is so incredibly generous. It’s beautiful, it’s joyful, its food, its medicine, its abundant. We could go on and on about dandelion.
[00:52:04] Ashley James: I’m so excited because my son loves eating everything in nature. Now I can tell him he can eat dandelion flowers. Are there any contraindications for eating dandelions at all that we should know about?
[00:52:16] Rosalee de la Foret: No, there’s not. The thing about the flowers is that the petals themselves are kind of sweet to blandish. Actually, a flower head is filled with a whole bunch of those actually—every little petal you see is an individual flower so it’s the flower head. Below it there’s these green parts, the bracts and the sepals, those are kind of bitter. You can eat them, they’re fine, but for a sensitive palate they might find that those green bits are too bitter, so you can separate those if you want. That’s really the only thing. Of course, because so many people do spray, you just want to make sure you’re harvesting from a good area, that’s another thing.
One thing is that if you do eat a lot of the leaves and the roots, they are really high in inulin, which can cause some digestive discomfort if somebody eats a whole bunch of them. Also diets that are high in inulin can reduce blood sugar levels and insulin levels. If somebody’s type two diabetic and is needing to strictly monitor that, they would just want to keep that in mind, but of course, I’m in favor of using plant medicine instead of the medications when possible. That could be a way even to bring healthy healing foods into your life and reduce dependence on those things.
[00:53:42] Ashley James: Love it. Very cool. Inulin, I love that it helps with feeding the gut the food it needs to make healthy gut biome, and then it also helps with the blood sugar balance. You talked about how it’s so supportive—the roots—are so supportive to the liver. I used to have liver problems. I had an inflamed liver. My liver was sticking out. You could actually see my liver stick out. It was really bad. I felt a difference when I drank roasted dandelion root tea. I would drink that all the time and I really noticed a difference. I drink there’s some blend with burdock root and dandelion together, but I would actually feel a difference. My liver inflammation would go down drinking it all the time, so there was something to that. I thought that was really interesting.
In my local grocery store, it’s a health food store/grocery store, they often sell, this time of year, wild-harvested dandelion leaves in the lettuce section. For people who can’t go out and harvest their own dandelion leaves, they actually sell it. I always think that’s interesting. Another reason not to spray beside the fact that people are giving themselves their dogs and their children cancer by spraying pesticides in their backyard to kill the beautiful dandelions, dandelions are great for supporting the bees. We’re at a very fragile point right now where if we lose our bees, we lose, I believe, a third of our food supply won’t be pollinated. The other third of our food chain is pollinated by bats. By continuing to spray and kill off weeds, we’re harming the pollinators. Thus, we’re going to end our own food supply. That is such a huge problem.
By stopping spraying and embracing these beautiful weeds that are then supporting our pollinators, we’re supporting our own health and the ecology of the planet. There are many reasons why we should stop spraying and instead embrace it. These dandelions are beautiful, and if we see them as healing plants instead of as pests—healing for us and also supportive of the bees—then we’ll be changing our mindset for a holistic mindset. You mentioned earlier magic bullet—no one herb is a magic bullet. It’s a really interesting mindset. The mindset that there’s a magic bullet out there for something like just give me the prescription, give me the penicillin, just give me the magic bullet, and let me get back to my life. Let me just chemically alter my world to change my lawn, to change my body, just give me the magic bullet.
That mindset was marketed to us for over 100 years. Before penicillin came out, people, when they were sick, would go take a month-long vacation if they could and go to a place of healing where they could rest and recover. They’d spend weeks or months recovering their health and using herbs. Penicillin came along and it was marketed as this magic bullet. Here are drugs. Drugs are the magic bullet. You don’t need to forage in the woods anymore, you don’t need to rest anymore, and you don’t need to take care of your body, do hydrotherapy, and take herbs and all that backwater stuff. Now we’ve got this modern stuff, so here, take this magic bullet. Over 100 years of marketing has led us, several generations, into this thinking that we can just sit back and wait to get sick and can then chemically alter our bodies or our reality with a magic bullet. That’s just not the case.
I know our listeners agree with me that there’s no magic bullet, that that is simply a fantasy world that we’ve been marketed to, and that gaining and maintaining true health requires diligence, requires us taking action, and questioning the reality that we were raised in. Questioning this reality like why do you spray your lawn? Because my parents did because my neighbors do, and that’s just what we do. Let’s question that reality. Question the reality of why do you consider these weeds to be pests instead of herbs, right? The change starts with questioning the reality we have and the belief system we’ve been raised in. Instead, looking at the world through a different lens—through your lens, through the lens of how we can use nature around us to heal us.
I’m really excited about your book because I think that teaching everyone how to forage healing foods and the craft their own herbal medicine is probably one of the most empowering things we can do right now, but it does start with changing our mindset. If people are still in the mindset of looking for the magic bullet to chemically alter their environment or their body, they’re not going to see the world filled with natural remedies. They’re going to see this world where they have to chemically alter it to their liking. We just have to start to shift our thinking, but I’d love for everyone to embrace weeds as herbs, respect them, try to foster them, and love them instead of spraying them. I’m excited that you brought that up.
Tell us about some more really common wild herbs that are available that we may not even realize like dandelions, which are so powerful.
[01:00:13] Rosalee de la Foret: Before I move to the next herb, I loved everything you just said. Actually, I was nodding my head up and down a lot. One of the main themes in the book that was so important to my co-author, Emily and I, is the theme of recognizing interdependence, which is basically what we’re talking about right now. We mean that on so many different levels. A big part of the book is understanding how to forage for plants really ethically and sustainably so we can rely on future harvests and help to make the world around us a better place with more resilient plant populations. But recognizing the interdependence there of not only the pollinators, as you were talking about. Dandelion is a really fun way to observe all the different creatures that rely on the dandelions from the bees like you mentioned to ladybugs crawling around on them.
There are also some surprising ones too. In addition to honeybees there’s also native bees, bee flies, and hoverflies. They all love the dandelions. Small birds including goldfinches and sparrows will eat the seeds. Mammals also forage for the dandelions: rabbits, groundhogs, pocket gophers, deer, elk, and even bears are known to eat dandelions. There’s so much going on with this. We are all on this circle together. As you said, we poison the earth around us, not only are there not dandelions to help us, but then there are the poisons that we’re dealing with our children, our animals, and then all of the creatures there. This is a really important message, and it is a mind shift on so many levels.
That’s a big part of Wild Remedies too is that it’s not simply about using dandelion roots for your liver, which is powerful and so important, but also recognizing all of this. All of the interdependence and the reciprocity that we can give back to the world around us. That’s an important part of medicine, and a really important part of what we all need to hear right now because that mindset shift is one of the most crucial things in terms of overall healing for ourselves and in the planet as well. It was all beautifully said. Thank you for that.
In terms of the other plants, we could talk about the one that comes to mind. First is plantain. Plantain is this weed that’s low growing to the earth, loves to grow on those disturbed soils, and we definitely think of it as a Band-Aid. It takes these downtrodden disturbed soils especially where people love to walk, and it’ll just thrive there. Plantain was actually the very first weed that I learned when I started on this journey. I was in a class, and I was learning about how to make lip balms and healing salves. The teacher started talking about plantain. I had lived in the Dominican Republic where we ate lots of plantains, the banana-like fruit. She started talking about plantain and how abundant it was. I was like wait, what? Plantain grows here? This tropical plant, I just couldn’t believe it. She’s like, yeah. I remember she said, “It’s right out on the driveway. It’s everywhere on the driveway.” I was like, “Really?” And she’s like, “Yeah, let’s go see.”
So we went up to the driveway, checked it out, and then I got to know plantain, which is a plantago genus, not the plantain fruit. It’s not related to the banana.
[01:03:58] Ashley James: It’s not related at all? There’s no relation?
[01:04:01] Rosalee de la Foret: No relationship whatsoever.
[01:04:02] Ashley James: Of no relation.
[01:04:03] Rosalee de la Foret: Yeah. A completely different genus, red plantain the banana plantain.
[01:04:09] Ashley James: You were so disappointed.
[01:04:10] Rosalee de la Foret: Yeah. I definitely like okay. That was day one of my herbal learning experience. I started off as a complete newbie and learned about plantain. If people don’t know what I mean when I say plantain, I’m sure you would recognize it if I pointed it out, then you would probably start to see it everywhere.
[01:04:30] Ashley James: Oh yeah, oh yeah. I just searched for it—broadleaf plantain—and I’m like yeah, I pulled a few of those out of my garden for sure. I don’t know if you call Toronto Eastern Canada, I guess you’d consider that Eastern. I’m from the other side of North America, now I’m living just outside of Seattle in the Pacific Northwest. I remember there was a plant that looked just like this. It’s just these broad leaves that are all kind of sprouting out, and then there are these little things that shoot up and they have those seeds on them, right?
[01:05:11] Rosalee de la Foret: Yeah, they have a very prolific seed head. There are several different species and many of them are used interchangeably. The broadleaf is the one you’re looking at. There’s also a narrow-leafed one that’s very common, but they both have these very prominent parallel leaf veins that stick out. That’s an easy way to identify them, but plantain loves to grow where people walk. There are some native species here in North America, but most of what we see are weeds that were brought over from Europe. They quickly earned the name white man’s footstep because they would be found growing in the wagon’s trails as white people headed west. It’s very prolific, and as I said, it’ll grow and it’ll thrive in places that many plants would not.
It’s an easy weed to dismiss. It’s common, it’s ubiquitous, but man, this thing is a powerful healer. Plantain is really powerful for acute situations as well as chronic situations. I love that because I just love how versatile it is. For acute situations, it’s very famous for helping with bee stings, or wasp stings, or any kind of insect stings. It can really soothe painful bites or sting, and it can work right away. Basically, what you do is you get a bee sting, wasp sting, whatever the case, and you harvest a leaf. You chew it up, make a mulch poultice out of it, and then place that over the sting. It will take out that sting and the pain immediately, and it will greatly reduce the redness and swelling. It is so amazing. I’ve used it like that many times, but it had been quite a few years since I used it. Just last summer, I got stung by a wasp. Gosh, that’s so painful.
It was just one of those like aw. I didn’t realize what was happening, I figured it out and just headed over to the plantain patch, started putting a poultice on, and changed them out every 20 minutes. The pain relief was almost instantaneous and then the redness and swelling were not that bad for a wasp. That one is just a good one that everyone should know. It works great for kids. Not only is it like actually reducing their pain, but the idea of chewing up a leaf and putting it on your body, kids often like that and it distracts them from the situation as well. Once kids know it, man, I’ve been around so many kids that they know. They get stung and they’ll just go for the plantain leaf themselves. Lots of stories of kids even helping out their parents. Oh, you got stung. Let me find you a plantain leaf.
Once you know how to recognize it it’s super easy to find. It’s so wonderful for that. Another great attribute it has for acute situations is it’s what we call a vulnerary herb, which is a wound-healing herb. It can promote the knitting of tissues together and the healing of tissues. We can use it on all sorts of things like cuts, scrapes, burns, and blisters. All of those things are great first aid application for that. Again, it can be used as a poultice. It can also be used as a salve, which is where you make a remedy where you infuse oil with plantain leaves, and then once that’s really well infused then you strain off the leaves and add a little beeswax and make a salve with it. It’s one of my most used salves because it’s great for just about anything.
It’s a really powerful healer in that regard too, but as I mentioned, it’s also great for chronic conditions. That ability to heal skin and knit tissues back together is also really great for our digestive tract. I’m glad we’ve already talked about no silver bullet miracle cure with herbs because that’s definitely not how I teach about herbs, but they can be a powerful part of an overall healing process. I often recommend plantain for people who have suspicions of having a leaky gut or intestinal permeability. Again, we want to be using the nutrients, we want to be thinking about diet really carefully, but plantain can also be used as a way to help heal the digestive tract all the way through.
You can also use it for any kind of inflammatory bowel disease. Basically, any kind of inflamed in tissues, whether that’s on the outside or through our digestive tract. Plantain is really fabulous for that. I like it for that as a tea. You drink a strong tea of the plantain. It’s like bathing all of your tissues in your digestive tract with these healing abilities. You can also use it as a mouth rinse and use it to heal mouth wounds like a canker sore, for example. For acid reflux where tissues are inflamed. Lots of ways to use that internally, but it’s one that I use all the time for that.
Another way that I rely on plantain a lot is for coughs. Plantain works really well for a particular kind of cough, and that’s that dry hacking cough that can be really painful and just seem endless. I will often get this kind of cough at the end of a cold or flu. I lay down at night and I’m ready to drift off into sleep and then I’ll just start coughing and I can’t stop. Plantain is perfect for that kind of cough. It just soothes that coughing reflex, helps reduce the inflammation that’s going on there, and just stops that spasmodic coughing.
It’s also really great for coughing due to particles in the air like dust or wildfire smoke. When the wildfires have been bad and the smoke has been in the air really thick, I often rely on plantain as well as another plant, mullein, to help with that. Just restoring lung health and helping reduce that irritation that’s going on in the lungs. Plantain is one that just grows at our feet and is so easy to dismiss. It’s one of my most used herbs and has so many healing abilities within it.
[01:11:26] Ashley James: Very interesting. It’s one of those weeds I never thought was worth its time being in my garden. Now, boy am I wrong. That’s so cool. That’s so cool. What else? What other wild herbs/weeds? What weeds should we stop thinking of as weeds and start thinking of as herbs?
[01:11:56] Rosalee de la Foret: All of them. Absolutely all of them. Another one that comes to mind is mallow. Mallow is in the malva genus, and it also loves to grow in disturbed soils like all of these do. It can often be the bane of gardeners. Gardeners especially seem to hate this plant and want to pull it up, but it also is wonderful food, wonderful medicine. It is definitely seen as an invasive weed, but historically, it was a highly prized medicinal as well as food. It’s interesting how these things can change, but I’d rarely see a gardener who gives a whoop of gratitude when they see a mallow in their garden. It’s usually the other way around, but I still feel that big surge of gratitude when I see it because it is so generous in its food and medicine.
When you make a tea out of mallow, The result is this thick—I hate to use the word slimy because people don’t really think like mmm, slimy I want some of that—but it is like this mucilaginous, slimy, gooey result is this tea. We call that in the herbal world it’s demulcent, but basically, all these mucilaginous properties have come out into the tea. It’s similar to aloe vera—the insides of aloe vera plant, it’s demulcent. Even if you just make up some oatmeal and it becomes kind of like goopy, that’s also demulcent quality. Basically, it’s a thick substance that’s very soothing and very cooling.
I mentioned that plantain is great for those dry irritated coughs. I often combine it with mallow and mullein, as I also mentioned, but I often combine it with mallow because it has that additional softening, soothing, cooling, and moistening properties. I love to talk about coughs because I grew up thinking I have a cough, that’s bad, take cough syrup, okay. Basically, the cough syrup is relaxing those muscles and just stopping the cough from happening, but in herbalism, we really want to know what is the type of cough and then how can we help support the body’s healing process.
In this situation, if somebody is coughing because of irritation, because of dryness, but if we just stop the cough, then that means that the dryness is still continuing and that irritation is still continuing. Oftentimes, if there are dryness and irritation, there’s inflammation that’s still continuing. We can use herbs instead of just stopping the coughing reflex. We can use them to support soothing those tissues, relieving the irritation, relieving the dryness, and mallow is just so amazing for this. I use it, as I mentioned, for wildfire smoke in the air. Even just the dryness of summer or the dryness of winter when we have heating going on and drying the air. All of those things can bring dryness to the lungs, and mallow is a great way to just soothe them in a really gentle way. Any of that hot, dry, dusty, or smoky air, mallow is just amazing for that.
Another time we can have that dryness and irritation causing us problems is sore throats like with a cold or a flu symptom or just the dryness again of smoke or dry air. Again, that mallow is soothing, it’s moistening, and it has that thick substance to it and just can be really relieving of all that kind of irritation. Mallow, which is high in polysaccharides and those polysaccharides are known to have immunomodulating activity as well. They can help the body in strengthening the immune system, ward off infection. That’s all wonderful ways to use it.
Historically, it was used for wounds and that’s a way we continue to use it today. It was famous historically for wounds. Today, I often use it not only externally but I mentioned plantain actually internally to heal digestive issues and mallow is really great for that as well, and I often combine the two of those. It makes great food if you’re familiar with mallow. If you aren’t and you’re listening to this, just do a browser search for mallow and find it.
Malva neglecta is one of the common ones, but there are species that grow all over. I bet you’ll recognize it because it’s so common. In the late summer, it produces these fruits. I was told to call them cheese wheels because they do look like a cheese wheel, but they’re really cool tasting. They’re really cooling, I should say, and they taste great. There is a crunch to them, and so they’re really fun to add to like salads. This is like a different textural kind of thing, but they are pretty tasty and delicious.
I have a recipe in the book for roasted dandelion roots and those mallow cheese wheels. Roasting them with apples and cinnamon. It’s a fun wild food treat. Great food and medicine. Again, that soothing quality of the mallow is just so important. I love how that is as herbal medicine it’s just so practical. It’s like oh, I have heat and dryness. I’m going to take this thing that’s really cooling and soothing, and it works so well as that. Once you get used to using your medicine like that there’s just no going back. You’ll know that you need mallow in your life.
[01:17:29] Ashley James: I love it. I’m excited to learn more. There is a weed in my garden. There’s no chance this thing could be herbally helpful at all because I think the devil himself made this weed, creeping buttercup.
[01:17:46] Rosalee de la Foret: That family, the ranunculus family, they have some great medicinals in there.
[01:17:56] Ashley James: No way.
[01:17:58] Rosalee de la Foret: Within that family, but a lot of the buttercups aren’t known to be used medicinally. When they bloom early in the year that is pretty fun. I don’t know a lot of medicinal uses for that particular plant.
[01:18:15] Ashley James: Okay, so I’m just going to keep pulling it out of my garden.
[01:18:17] Rosalee de la Foret: Especially because I know where you live, it can really want to take over.
[01:18:22] Ashley James: It takes over. I’m constantly fighting it, but it’s worth it to be able to have our own garden filled with beautiful fruits and vegetables. It’s totally worth it. You’re less into gardening and more into wildcrafting. I was going to ask you a gardening question.
[01:18:42] Rosalee de la Foret: Actually, I have quite a big garden. I do.
[01:18:44] Ashley James: You do? Okay. How do you manage slugs? How do you get rid of slugs?
[01:18:48] Rosalee de la Foret: Here, I have the best secret for managing slugs.
[01:18:53] Ashley James: I thought you would.
[01:18:54] Rosalee de la Foret: Move to the other side of the mountains then you don’t get slugs.
[01:18:58] Ashley James: I was wondering if you had slugs in Eastern Washington. That’s so funny. When we first moved here, again, I’m from Toronto. I’m from the province of Ontario in Canada. Like Michigan and like the East Coast, we have really bad insects in the summertime. When we first moved here, there was no screen door on our balcony. I kept saying we need to get a screen if we’re ever going to open this door in the summertime we need to get a screen. My husband who’s from here was like what do you mean we need to get a screen? I’m freaking out thinking we’re going to be eaten alive by mosquitoes and black flies. Come spring and come summer, there were no mosquitoes. Rarely, once in a blue moon, I’ll see a mosquito and there are no black flies here.
I thought this is crazy because my entire existence I thought the planet was covered. I thought the whole northern hemisphere was covered in mosquitoes every year. I didn’t realize there was a region of the world where mosquitoes did not take over. Then out came the banana slugs and it was a particularly bad year and these things are like a foot long just sliding across the backyard. You could see them, they’re huge, huge slugs, and they were everywhere. I couldn’t walk barefoot because I’d step on one.
[01:20:20] Rosalee de la Foret: I was just going to say, they make you think twice about being barefoot.
[01:20:22] Ashley James: Worst sensation. I feel so guilty when I kill something, and I’m like oh my gosh, you’re walking through your backyard and it’s like stepping on a water balloon that’s slimy. You just feel so bad. Slugs are everywhere. I’m combating slugs. I think I’m going to spread diatomaceous earth. You live in eastern Washington so you don’t have a slug problem. That’s quite hilarious. It’s so funny. It’s so funny. That’s hilarious. I’ve got mushrooms growing in my garden, which means it’s healthy soil, good mycelial network in the soil, so that’s good. I don’t know anything about mushrooms though in terms of how to harvest them or which ones are safe so I don’t ever venture that way.
But I did have a run-in with an herb that popped up in my garden. This is two years ago so I’m forgetting the name of it but it looked like this herb that I know is safe. I ate a bite of it and I’m like oh, it tastes just like licorice. I thought this is so cool, it’s growing in the back. It’s a wild herb. It’s just so neat. Then my hands started to shake. I’m like uh oh. I looked it up and I actually took a picture of it, sent it to my local gardening group, and they said oh that’s—and again, I’m forgetting the name of it but they’re like that’s a poisonous weed that will kill you. I thought oh my gosh. I called poison control. I didn’t die, obviously, I’m still here. It really snapped me back to the reality that we can’t just go around eating.
There’s a man in 2012 that died in Washington State from eating this weed, so we can’t just go around picking anything and eating it. We have to know. We have to just verify and know, but that snapped me back to reality like herbs can be, depending on which herb, it can be as dangerous as taking the wrong medicine, as taking the wrong drug. We just really want to make sure that we’re doing the right thing and identifying. That’s something you teach in your book, right? To identify the good ones and the bad ones, the poisonous ones and the not poisonous.
[01:22:44] Rosalee de la Foret: Yeah, I’m so glad you brought that up. That’s definitely step one is always be 100% sure of the plant you’re harvesting. In the book, we have beautiful botanical illustrations—watercolor illustrations—that we had done specifically for the book for each plant, but also in the beginning chapters, we talked a lot about plant ID and understanding botanical terms. We like to make it really fun for folks and so it starts with looking at botanical parts at your grocery store. You notice the plants in the produce section and learning to recognize plants is really just learning to see patterns. At first it can seem intimidating, but our minds are really great at recognizing patterns. Once you understand different leaf patterns they’ll just jump out at the landscape at you.
The other thing is that I have always been taught this and I always continue to teach it. The most important plants to identify growing near you are the hazardous ones. That’s where you start when you learn how to do plant ID is you learn about potentially toxic plants. You learn them really well, and you learn how to ID them really well. It’s not like there are hundreds of them but there are some ones that are very, very important to know. Where I live, all around my house, I have death camas, which is aptly named. It’s one of the most poisonous plants in North America and can definitely cause instant, or I shouldn’t say instant, but very painful death.
[01:24:13] Ashley James: Wait, what’s it called again? I got to search this up. What’s it called?
[01:24:16] Rosalee de la Foret: Death camas.
[01:24:18] Ashley James: Death? The word death is in it?
[01:24:19] Rosalee de la Foret: Yeah, it’s very aptly named.
[01:24:21] Ashley James: Oh, look. I type in death and camas pops up.
[01:24:23] Rosalee de la Foret: There you go. It’s a very common plant. It grows here in eastern Washington. It grows all over though. Not as common where you live, but it’s not related to camas, but camas is a very important edible food here in Washington State. Before they flower they can look pretty similar so it’s a really important one to know. There’s all the poison hemlock, water hemlock. I wonder if that might have been what—
[01:24:47] Ashley James: That was poison hemlock. That was it.
[01:24:50] Rosalee de la Foret: Yeah, that one is very, very important to know to not eat. That plant family, the umbelliferae family, is a really good plant family to know to be able to differentiate them because there are some important medicinal and edibles like the carrots are in that same family, parsley is in that same family. You want to be able to recognize those. We have a whole section in the book where just getting to know your local potentially toxic plants. The thing is once you know those, it’s not like it makes every other plant safe, but there is an empowering sense to be like I know the potential hazards in my area.
If you headed off into the woods you would want to know are there rattlesnakes there, should I prepare for ticks, or is this a flash flood area? Just all of those times when you would want to know what are the potential hazards around me? That’s one of the things you want to know. Again, for me, a really empowering thing to be able to look around the plants that grow around me, to be able to identify them, to know which ones are food and medicine, which ones are beautiful, which ones are potentially toxic, all of those things are so important.
Another one that makes me think of is foxglove. Foxglove is a really powerful medicine that most people don’t use it as medicine as much anymore because it is very difficult to administer and can easily cause death. The heart drug, digitalis, is actually based on constituents found within foxglove. It’s a beautiful plant, grows prolifically where you are. It’s so much fun to enjoy it. We don’t really use it as medicine anymore, but when it’s young, it can look like mullein, which is a very safe medicinal plant. It can look like comfrey. But once you know the plant it’s not hard to tell them apart. It’s just in the beginning plants can look very similar before you really suss out their differences.
You really want to know what you’re harvesting. Dandelion doesn’t have poisonous look-alikes, but it can have plants that really look like it. Once you know the secrets of dandelion, you’ll be able to tell two dandelions apart from other ones as well. Definitely very, very important. Extensively, in our book, we went through helping people to identify plants correctly. There are also great ways to learn plants local to you. Native Plant Societies in North America, Canada, and the United States. There are Native Plant Societies where you can meet up with other people who are plant geeks.
You can find herbalists, other people doing plant walks, and interpretive centers. There are local field guides. There are lots of ways to learn plants. Obviously, I’m biased, but I find the whole process of getting to know plants just to be joyful—incredibly joyful to be out there listening to the birds, feeling the sun on your face, and getting to know all the creatures that go around you, but also incredibly power empowering. Again, when I go on a walk, I know all the plants that grow around me. I do know what I could eat right now, today.
I could go out and make a meal from the plants that go around me. Not only a meal but those joyful remedies as well. The dandelion jelly, wild rose petal honey, or stinging nettle soup as you mentioned, which is one of my favorite wild food dishes as well. There’s so much joy out there and that’s what keeps bringing me back is that joy. We’ve been talking about how herbs are not a magic bullet for anything. It’s very popular within natural health as we have all these things that we should be doing. We should sleep well, we should exercise, and we should eat well. Obviously, I agree with all of that. Those are the foundations of our health, but if we leave joy out of that, it becomes a list of to-dos, and a list of should. It becomes less and less fun.
For me, being with the wild plants and using Wild Remedies is incredibly joyful and it’s not a should, it’s an I get to. I get to go out into the forest today and spend time there to feel calm, feel more relaxed, enjoy all there is to offer, to harvest some nettles, to fill my basket, and appreciate all of the beauty and wonder out there. I get to bring them back to my kitchen. I get to make a nourishing meal. I get to enjoy this nourishing meal that is so tasty and delicious. That becomes the foundation of health. From that spring so many.
From the nutrients of the nettle I have more energy that allows me to have more movement in my life. That increased movement allows me to rest more peacefully at night and get a better night’s sleep. As we talked about all of the other side effects of having more energy, to more luxurious hair, to better skin. We didn’t even talk about skin with nettle, but that’s another important gift of nettle is how it can help bring vibrant skin to the surface. All of these things build upon each other in beautiful ways, and again, I love that it is inspired by joy and beauty and less about shoulds or to-do lists.
[01:30:11] Ashley James: Very cool. Yeah, we can have so much fun with this. Make a game out of it. Especially if you have children, or if you have a husband or a partner, we can go make a game out of it and do some kind of wild foraging game like who can identify the most medicinal herbs or something like that, so we can make it fun. I’d like you to think about the last 24 hours, how many herbs have you used in your personal life in the last 24 hours?
[01:30:51] Rosalee de la Foret: Wow. That would be a lot especially with spring here. I’m constantly grazing outdoors. I already mentioned that last night I made socca bread and I put wild violets on it, dandelion flowers and leaves, and some other things from my garden like chives and pansies. I served that with a dandelion pesto, so I put that on top of it after it was eaten. As a drink, I had violet syrup that I just made. The violet is another plant we can go on and on about but the violets are just so amazing right now. They have this really incredible scent and flavor to them, so I made a syrup out of those. I made it by making a strong tea and adding a bit of honey to that just as a little preservative and then I use it up pretty quickly because I use little honey so it doesn’t have a long shelf life. But then I added that to sparkling water—a tablespoon of that to sparkling water.
Last night, having that meal, I was pretty thrilled with myself actually because it was so beautiful and such a priceless thing. You can’t really buy violet syrup of that quality anyway. It’s all of my own making. I went out to the meadow, I harvested the violets, and I made the tea. The tea from purple violets is just so incredible. It’s a beautiful purple intense color. I had all those experiences and was able to enjoy that. Another plant that I have been enjoying a lot lately is hawthorn. Hawthorn is a plant that I regularly use and often widely recommend as well. It’s an amazing cardiovascular tonic, and there are so many benefits to hawthorn especially in regards to heart health. You don’t have to have heart disease to enjoy or benefit from hawthorn. I think of it as the kind people will say eat your carrots to have healthy eyes. It’s just something you do.
I think of hawthorn as like heart disease is very prevalent, might as well enjoy hawthorn regularly. Hawthorn is really high in oxidants and flavonoids, modulates inflammation, which is often the underlying cause of what’s going on with heart disease. So many studies out there showing vast benefits of hawthorn both for prevention as well as for people who have moderate to severe symptoms of heart disease. The berries are just delicious, and so they’re really fun to add to your life. I love to make a vinegar extract from the hawthorn berries. In the fall, I harvest lots of the berries, fill them in a jar—fill up a jar with them—and then I fill that with vinegar. I often just use apple cider vinegar. Cover that with a lid that doesn’t have metal on it, and let that sit for a while. Sometimes I’ll add honey to that.
A straight-up vinegar I’ll use as a base for salad dressing. Every time I’m eating a salad I’m getting the hawthorn in there. Then when I add honey to it, that makes what we call an oxymel, and that is a really delicious way. Again, I’ll add it to sparkling water and it’s this tangy, sweet, and sour drink. It’s this beautiful red color so it’s gorgeous. It’s really fun to make. It’s like a wild food mock soda, I guess. That’s another wonderful way. I’ve had lots of hawthorn in the past 24 hours as well. I’m about to go harvest the stinging nettle as I mentioned. I had a tea this morning that had oat straw, nettles, hawthorn, lemon balm, and lemon verbena in it.
That’s what’s coming to mind right now in terms of wild foods. I‘m a big fan of herbs and spices and cooking. My husband made this breakfast today with lots of vegetables. He uses an amazing amount of spices there. This is a running joke. I asked him like, “This tastes so good, what spices did you put in here?” He says, “All of them.”
[01:35:30] Ashley James: Yes, I love it. I love it. You mentioned lip balm, salves, what other ways are herbs seeping into your life that are unexpected? Like for skincare, hair care that kind of thing.
[01:35:50] Rosalee de la Foret: I definitely love the lip balms and salves. I love infused oils actually. One of my favorite infused oils for this time of year is to infuse violet flowers and dandelion flowers into an oil. Both of those gently move lymph and just support lymphatic function. It’s a beautiful oil to make. You can add a little bit of essential oil to it once it’s done. That makes a great oil for all over the body but especially in places that are rich in lymphatic tissue, so it’s a wonderful breast massage oil just to keep breast tissues happy and healthy, axilla or armpit areas as well. That’s a lovely way. I make all sorts of infused oils throughout the year, I’m kind of famous for them especially amongst my friends who have already started making requests for the year.
[01:36:42] Ashley James: I love that you said that. I’m kind of famous. I’m kind of a big deal. I’m kind of famous with these oils. I’m like yeah, you are.
[01:36:50] Rosalee de la Foret: I’ve given away so many herbal medicines, and after a while, I began to realize that’s what my friends really wanted were these infused oils. Infused oils, which then can be made into facial creams, which I also get a lot of requests for. I infuse wild roses into oil, that makes a beautiful one. I grow holy basil in my garden, which is an amazing herb. That one I just started making infused oils with that recently, and I’ve already had many requests for it again this year, so lots of infused oils. There are so many applications for infused oils in terms of moisturizing your skin, obviously, but also, you can use it for pain relief. I do arnica infused oil, cottonwood bud infused oil, which is oh my gosh, that smells so good. Cottonwood bud oil is great for pain relief but also doubles as a perfume because it has such this heady lovely scent.
I use herbs for shampoo. I like to infuse nutrient-rich herbs into tea, and then mix that with castile soap—makes a really great shampoo. That’s kind of an unexpected way. It can also be a body wash as well. Let’s see, what else? I love to do baths with plants. One of my favorite baths is to make a really strong chamomile tea, and by that I mean two cups of the flowers infused into a quart and a half of hot water for 20 minutes. You make this really strong tea, it’s super bright yellow. You strain off the chamomile flower so you’re just left with the tea, and you add that to bathwater. So profoundly relaxing especially if my shoulders get tense or just my whole body is tense.
Obviously, the hot water is relaxing, just relaxing in the bathtub is relaxing, and then the addition of this really strong chamomile tea is also really lovely.
[01:39:00] Ashley James: There’s this Korean spa in Seattle I love going to, and it’s only for women. They call it The Naked Spa.
[01:39:11] Rosalee de la Foret: I’ve been to The Naked Spa.
[01:39:12] Ashley James: Okay, okay. You know what I’m talking about. You know I’m talking about. Oh man, I love it. Before you get into the hot tubs, you can pour this tea on you, and it’s so wonderful, so relaxing. It’s antimicrobial. I forget what herb that is.
[01:39:32] Rosalee de la Foret: They use mugwort in that.
[01:39:33] Ashley James: Mugwort, that’s right. So you can use mugwort as an antimicrobial to wash away fungus, virus, and all that stuff. In the light of COVID-19, have you changed any of your home remedies, or have you added anything in the last few months for your family?
[01:39:52] Rosalee de la Foret: Yeah, definitely. I feel like I haven’t been doing new things, but it’s been an inspiration, we could call it, to really double down on the things that we normally do. One thing, Ashley, is the hawthorn. As I mentioned, when something that’s coming out in the news a lot right now is that people with hypertension and heart disease are having more serious complications with COVID-19. They’re also seeing these issues with blood clotting coming out. I feel like things are changing so often so I don’t know. By the time this airs, there might be even more news or different news about it, but that’s what’s going on right now is there are lots of things about the blood clotting and involvement with cardiovascular disease.
I don’t have those things but it made me think I might as well just enjoy hawthorn even more, and I’m in no way trying to insinuate that hawthorn is going to save anybody from COVID-19—the severity of the symptoms. However, what COVID-19 is showing us is that the healthier we are the better chance we have at either having asymptomatic, being asymptomatic, or having reduced symptoms. It’s a reminder to me how important hawthorn as well as all the lifestyle choices that go along with healthy cardiovascular function can be, but hawthorn is definitely showing up a lot in our lives right now because I think might as well support the heart as best as we can. Something I often feel, but again, especially inspired right now. Hawthorn being really important.
We’ve been using a lot of teas that are wonderful for modulating immune system care. What I mean by modulate is there’s definitely herbs that we know that boost the immune system. You take it and then suddenly you have increased NK killer cell activity or increased macrophage activity. We know that we can boost the immune system in that way, but herbs are pretty amazing and that we’ve seen time and time again through studies because obviously, this is not something we can inherently know, but that herbs have a balancing effect. They act differently in somebody depending on what’s going on. When we talk about seasonal allergies, which can be an intense immune response, we can take these immunomodulating herbs. Boosting the immune system further, they actually modulate the response and help calm this excitability that we’re seeing.
Anyway, these herbs are wonderfully modulating for the immune system and can help just support the immune system. Many of these herbs are tonic in that we take them for a long period of time. It’s not something like you take it and then suddenly you can leap buildings in a single bound or anything, but it’s something that you take daily over a long period of time to see the benefits. A big one for me is an astragalus. It’s a root that comes originally from China, but Western herbalists have adopted it widely because there’s really nothing else like it. It is nourishing, it’s sweet in flavor, it can be added to so many different things, and it’s just a wonderful way to support your immune system day in and day out.
We’ve been using lots of astragalus in decoctions, which is simmering the root. With that, I often combine it with codonopsis. Both of these are really wonderful herbs for the lungs. They support and strengthen lung function, which seems to be also an important thing to be doing right now. Those three are at my big list. Sometimes, I taper off my vitamin D supplementation at this stage, but I haven’t spent that much time in the sun this spring and so I’ve kept up with vitamin D, which also seems to be very important. All those things that I already have naturally dialed in because it’s not my first day. I’ve had a serious chronic disease, and I’ve taken care of myself ever since.
I think these things—we mention them, they’re so profoundly important to the best of our ability, to get that restful sleep, to get movement in our lives every day, and eat those nutrient-dense foods. As I’ve mentioned before—joy, I think that is such an important part of it too. I know that can be a hard thing right. So many of us are going through varying levels of sadness. Some of us are safe sheltering at home. Some of us are essential workers on the front line. There are so many things going on right now that the world’s topsy-turvy and it can be easy to be falling into anxiety and fear, which is only natural. But the more we can counteract that purposefully with joy the better. In whatever way we do that is a good thing.
I love The Office, the TV show, so I’ve been watching an episode or two of that a day because it makes me laugh and it just takes my mind off things. Laughing is so important right now. In addition to my walks, that’s part of my daily therapy is to laugh in whatever way. Even the passing of the seasons, that is such a powerful thing for me too. It makes us see how precious life is to see the wildflowers come and go so quickly. We can’t hear the wildflowers are blooming, and they will soon be gone, and so it’s that reminder to be present and appreciating things day in and day out and just the joy that surrounds us when we really get to do that.
It takes away the monotony for me. I think of before when I lived in cities, actually Seattle, it was so easy to ignore the seasons with indoor air climate control and being able to get whatever vegetables I wanted whenever at the large grocery stores. It’s easy to just lose sense—it rains nine months out of the year. It can be monotonous in some ways, but when we tap into the seasons, there’s so much richness there. Seeing what birds are coming and going, being in tune with the seasons, recognizing those differences, how slight, seeing the plants come and go—it’s all a beautiful thing.
[01:46:21] Ashley James: I love it. I’ve had several expert guests on this show about how to get rid of parasites. It’s really interesting that we, in our modern age, believe that we’re infallible to parasites because we’re humans, not animals. We live in houses, not in woods, and so of course, we don’t have parasites. Meanwhile, one in three people has a parasitic infection and don’t know it. One of the experts I interviewed, Dr. Jay Davidson, said that our ancestors, even just our grandparents our great-grandparents look 100 years ago, we would regularly deworm ourselves every year with the same herbs that we would give our cattle. Farmers would take the right doses but take the similar deworming herbs that they would give the animals because they knew we needed to cleanse our body.
That was something that we did through trial and error for thousands of years is take herbs and take certain foods that help to remove the parasites from our body. What wild herbs do you take to prevent parasitic infection?
[01:47:42] Rosalee de la Foret: I can’t say that I really take herbs with that intention, but those bitter herbs that I mentioned before or just bitter in that sense is widely used for getting rid of any unwanted creatures growing down there in our bowels. That bitter flavor is something that, I mentioned, when we have a little bit of bitter, it can be enlivening and bring a spark. When you get intensely bitter things, it’s just as bad to us as it is to parasites or whatever. That is the idea, by having these bitter foods, it’s basically sending out a signal like this is not a good place to call home. You want to leave now. Those plants are widely used for that. We call them vermifuge herbs or vermicidal herbs, but it’s rare that we use herbs necessarily to kill. If they kill parasites, then it’s going to be very difficult for our own bodies to handle it, so it can be on that toxic scale. But we can use them to basically show them the door like all right, you don’t want to be here anymore. Those bitter herbs are really important for that.
One of the most famous for this is gentian root. That’s one that doesn’t grow here. I really love to use the herbs that grow around me, but I did fall in love with gentian root. It comes from the Alps in France where my husband’s from, and I love to visit it there. It has been a bit over-harvested, so now I only get cultivated sources of it. You could call it a disastrously bitter herb. It’s not pleasant in any way, shape, or form. In terms of its bitter flavor at the very intense, but widely effective. You could take it in a capsule as a way to avoid taking that super bitter flavor.
One thing I like to do is make my own herbal, I call herbal pastille after the French word, which is basically like an herbal pill. You basically take powdered herbs and mix them into a little ball and then add just a bit of honey to hold it together. Those bitter digestive pills you know can be used for digestion, but again, those bitter flavors are not loved by parasites. So gentian often makes up a big part of that.
[01:50:18] Ashley James: Very interesting. One of the herbs that is relatively safe for us, but not safe for parasites, is mimosa pudica seed, and that’s from ayurvedic medicine. I was surprised to see a mimosa pudica tree growing out past Monroe, Washington. I think it was in Sultan, big beautiful tree. I thought it would only grow in India. Maybe there are different variations of it, but that’s one of the things that Dr. Jay Davidson talks about. As you said, certain ones are really harsh and can be harsh on our bodies as well as harsh on the parasites. We want to do everything we can right now to bolster our immune system and support the terrain of our body so we can have the best outcomes possible when we come in contact with any kind of virus or any kind of pathogen.
You had mentioned violets a few times. Before we wrap up today’s interview, can you tell us about the medicinal properties of violets? Is this just the wild violet flower that you’ve been making these delicious teas out of?
[01:51:37] Rosalee de la Foret: Yeah. The violets I’ve been using are at a friend’s house. The story goes that she got a clump of violets from her friend 20 years ago and planted them in her garden. Now, she has like millions of violets. I mean it just covers the whole sidewalk there where she lives. It was several years ago that she just happened to mention. She has mentioned it offhandedly to me like I got all these violets. They just are invasive and they spread everywhere I was like what? Wait. Tell me more. Now, I go every spring and I get to harvest so many of them. Violets are beautiful plant medicine. You can use the leaves and flowers. The roots can be slightly amidic or make you want to throw up, so those have been used therapeutically in the past, but we don’t use them so much today. Mainly the leaves and the flowers.
We talked about similarly how plantain and mallow especially have that soothing demulcent quality. That is also true of violets. When there are dryness and irritation, violets are really wonderful for that, so kind of the same thing. It’s kind of funny we talked about all these herbs that do that because there’s not a lot of soothing cooling herbs out there, we just happened to talk about them today. Violets are really great for that, great for the dry coughs. I mentioned that they do support lymphatic health. I think of our lymphatic system as this big waterway that’s running throughout our body. Just as rivers and streams can run smoothly or they become stagnant or swollen, same with lymphatic vessels. Violet helps keep things moving cleanly, clearly.
Wild violets love to grow near running water. They will grow on string banks. I like how that it reminds me of how they can be used to keep our internal waterways running really well. Violets are used to break down hardened cysts especially chronic ones. I mentioned it can be used as a breast massage oil. It’s used for fibrocystic breasts. It’s all of those. Anytime there are hot conditions, especially hot dry situations like maybe a rash, it’s really great for moistening that, soothing that as well. Violet is lovely for the nervous system, it’s very calming.
Anytime there’s stress and panic, violets can be used to soothe and calm things. In Iran, they love violet medicine, and they use violets in really interesting ways that we don’t necessarily do in Western herbalism, but I just know from researching it. Now, I’m excited to try it out. There, they use violet for promoting sleep, for example. They use it specifically for people with insomnia, so that’s another way to use that.
Part of the reason that violets can bring joy and help us be more calm is the medicine we make from violets is so profoundly beautiful. I mentioned, you harvest these especially the purple ones. You can use pretty much all violets in the same way, but the viola odorata, which has a beautiful scent to it. There are a couple other purple flowers that have the scent as well, but not all of them do. But if you can find the purple flowers that have the scent, it’s such a unique violet scent and you really cannot find that anywhere else except from the fresh flowers. That’s very hard to capture that for the long term. Anyway, you make a tea from that.
The violet flowers are also used for litmus tests because they’re very sensitive to the pH of the water. When I make violet tea, it actually turns blue. It turns this deep dark sapphire blue. Then if I add just a little bit of lemon juice to it, I’m talking a couple of drops or so, then it turns into this brilliant purple like amethyst little purple or definitely gem-colored. That’s really fun to make medicine with that. I make mocktails with that. I made the syrup, he just made ice cream with it with coconut milk. It’s like a coconut milk ice cream with violet syrup. It’s beautiful. It turned out a pale color when you’re diluting it with all that coconut milk, but it was just really beautiful.
The syrup, as I mentioned, you can drizzle that on whatever you want. I like to add just a little bit to water and drink it in that way. It’s beautiful but it’s also wonderful medicine as I mentioned, it’s great for moving the lymph and addressing stagnant lymph as well as for dry coughs too. Then the leaves are great food and medicine as well. Both flowers and the leaves make a wonderful tea, but you can take those young leaves and add them to your salads. They’re delicious. A bland taste and have a ton of flavor to them, but a great addition to salads as well.
[01:56:57] Ashley James: Very cool. So unlike drugs where most drugs people take because they’re already sick and then they get on a drug, some herbs you can take preventively like you can take as a supplement to feed the body more nourishment to support the body in being healthy. You can figure out how to get these wild herbs into your life every day to increase your vitamins and minerals and fight all the phytonutrients, anti-cancer, antioxidants. Then there are certain herbs that you can take when you have an acute situation. In fact, many drugs, pharmaceutical prescription drugs, are actually based on herbs. They figured out—I mean the most common one everyone knows about is aspirin. Aspirin is a pill, you can buy it in a store. You go to the pharmacy, you buy some aspirin, but aspirin is actually from willow bark.
What’s really interesting is that if you take too much aspirin you can go blind, you can go deaf. I actually had a friend who had aspirin. He had a really bad toothache, and it was like a Friday night. It was so painful that he just started taking aspirin like crazy. By Sunday he was blind and deaf, and he was freaking out, obviously. He gave himself aspirin poisoning because he thought to himself aspirin is healthy because it’s natural, and therefore, I can just keep taking it like candy to get rid of this pain. He soon discovered you can’t. You can probably kill yourself if you take too much aspirin. What’s interesting is if someone were to take the willow bark and make a tea out of it or something and try to get the same medicinal properties, if you take too much of it, there are other compounds that would cause you to start throwing up, that would cause your body to reject.
When we isolate something out of nature—nature has these fail-safes in place. So if you take too much of some herbs, not all, your body will reject it or your body will throw up and try to get rid of it because it’s too much like willow bark. But if we isolate it and make into a drug, then it actually becomes something that could kill us if we take too much of it. It’s interesting to see that in nature, there’s more of a balance. We want to make sure we know how much to take and how much not to take, and know what we should take what we shouldn’t take. Just like drugs, you want to have the same level of respect with herbs. But herbs have a lot more safety than many drugs do. I think it’s very interesting this whole world to dive into and to learn from. I know that my listeners will absolutely love learning from your latest book Wild Remedies: How to Forage Healing Foods and Craft Your Own Herbal Medicine.
Now you’re giving away a copy of your book to the listeners. They can go to the Learn True Health Facebook group, and you’re going to be giving away a copy of your book, which is really exciting. Thank you so much for offering to give one of our listeners your book. I know that all of our listeners should go out and grab your book because now, the state parks in certain states are reopening. We’re going to have access again to nature, for those who didn’t. This will be such a fun thing to do for the whole family to go out and wild forage and discover this whole pharmacy in our backyard. It’s so beautiful what we can do. Again, with caution, with safety, and with education we can step forward in a very respectful manner into nature and find our remedies. Is there anything you’d like to say to wrap up today’s interview, Rosalee?
[02:01:01] Rosalee de la Foret: I keep thinking about joy today. It is a powerful thing in these times to choose joy with all the uncertainty going around. I would like to leave by encouraging people to get outside and just to observe and experience what’s out there and be open to finding joy and happiness in the simplest of things. Watching a butterfly flutter away, listening to a songbird, feeling the sun the wind on our bodies. If you can get outside even for a little bit, lay on the lawn or anywhere and lay down and just feel the joy of being outside, the fresh air that’s there. I think that is some of the best medicine that we can find right now. The further we want to sink down into that—identifying plants, getting to know them, using them as our food and medicine—the deeper and more profound that joy becomes. It begins with that first step of just getting outside. That’s the step I’d encourage everyone to take.
[02:02:09] Ashley James: Beautiful. All the links to everything that Rosalee does is going to be in the show notes of today’s podcast at learntruehealth.com. Rosalee de la Foret’s website is herbswithrosalee.com. You are welcome back on the show anytime. I know you have even more to teach us. We had this whole section planned out on people, plants, and energetics that I thought that was really fascinating. You teach people how they can understand their symptoms and their energy to pick out the right plants for them. I’d love to have you back on at some point to dive into that. I think the listeners would really enjoy that.
[02:02:52] Rosalee de la Foret: Yeah, that’d be fun. I’d really enjoy that as well. I really like this format that you have of allowing so much time to really sink into these conversations. I’ve been enjoying it while listening to your podcast and then to being a guest, it’s nice to be able to really talk about these things in depth.
[02:03:10] Ashley James: Yes, let’s go deep. It’s so funny when I first launched this show I got a negative review. They’re like this is too long. I’m like then don’t listen.
[02:03:19] Rosalee de la Foret: Yeah, it’s not for them.
[02:03:20] Ashley James: Then go listen to something shorter. This is not for people who want short podcasts. I want to go deep, I want to get lots of information, and I want to really get value. I’ve had listeners say sometimes it takes them a week to finish an episode but they’re so happy because they’ll always play it when they’re in the car. I had so many listeners say that an episode that really intrigues them they’ll listen two or three times and take notes. That’s when I knew I needed to transcribe the episodes, so we got a transcriptionist. We transcribe them so listeners don’t have to—I mean, you can take notes if you want to—but they can go to the learntruehealth.com website and they can read through the transcription to find, and we try to make them as accurate as possible.
There’s always goof-ups in transcribing, which are comical, but they can go through and see things so they can reference what you said as well. It’s really exciting that my listeners love the deep long conversations where we get to go into all this wonderful information and learn so much. It’s like taking a college course from you. We just dived in and learned so much from you today, and I can’t wait to learn more from you. I can’t wait to get your book Wild Remedies. I know my listeners would love to get your book as well. Of course, having you back on the show. I can’t wait to dive into understanding more about how to identify what plants we should use for ourselves. That’s going to be a lot of fun. So yeah, please come back on the show.
[02:04:50] Rosalee de la Foret: Yeah, I’m looking forward to it. Thanks, Ashley.
[02:04:51] Ashley James: If you enjoyed today’s episode and if the Learn True Health podcast makes a difference in your life, please consider joining my membership. For less than $10 a month you can support me to continue doing this podcast, and you can also support your health because I’ve made a membership site where I teach you amazing delicious healing recipes including a recipe I talked about today, the stinging nettle soup, which is so delicious. It’s the most delicious nettle soup I’ve ever had. That recipe, among many other delicious healing recipes, is in the Learn True Health Home Kitchen membership. So you’d benefit this podcast to continue to do the work that I do, and you benefit yourself and your family by joining the Learn True Health Home Kitchen.
Go to learntruehealth.com/homekitchen and give it a try. For under $10, you’d be getting access to all these great videos that I keep making for you every week with these amazingly delicious healing recipes. I keep saying the word delicious, but they are, they really are delicious and they’re healing foods. So it’s like this win-win situation. Help yourself, also help the podcast. I’d love to see you there. I’d love to support you in your health and healing success, and I can’t wait to see you there. Go to learntruehealth.com/homekitchen and check it out. Thank you so much for being a listener of the Learn True Health podcast. I so appreciate you, and I hope you have an excellent rest of your day.
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Books by Rosalee dela Foret
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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.
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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.
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