The Plan to Eat Podcast

#79: Improve Your Health Fundamentals with Dr. Sarah Kashdan

March 27, 2024 Plan to Eat Season 1 Episode 79
The Plan to Eat Podcast
#79: Improve Your Health Fundamentals with Dr. Sarah Kashdan
Show Notes Transcript

Dr. Sarah Kashdan is a Naturopathic doctor located in Fort Collins, Colorado. Her practice is unique in that she has degrees in both naturopathic medicine and Chinese medicine/acupuncture.
In today's episode, Sarah shares her journey to becoming a naturopathic doctor as well as her choice to follow a vegan lifestyle after a cancer diagnosis. We dive into her knowledge of natural medicine to talk about nervous system regulation,  the foundations of good health, and how we can improve our fundamentals to feel our best. We discuss, stress management, human connection, social media, and how all of these affect our health. We cover a lot in a short time! Enjoy!

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Medical Disclaimer: The content provided in this podcast is for informational and educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The information presented here is not meant to replace professional medical advice or to apply to individuals with specific medical conditions. We encourage our listeners to consult with qualified healthcare professionals for personalized advice and treatment. The views expressed by hosts and guests on the podcast are their own and should not be taken as professional medical guidance. We do not endorse any specific products, treatments, or procedures mentioned during the show. 

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[00:00:00] to the Plan to Eat podcast. Where I interview industry experts about meal planning, food and wellness. To help you answer the question. What's for dinner. 

Roni: Hello, welcome to another episode of the plan to eat podcast. Today I have on the podcast, Dr. Sarah Kashdan. She is a naturopathic doctor and licensed acupuncturist here in Northern Colorado. She is actually somebody that I know in person, and she and I today talk a little bit about her practice, what she does for a living, what drew her to naturopathic medicine, as opposed to westernized medicine.

We talk quite a bit about veganism and a vegan lifestyle. Sarah has been vegan for a number of years. And so we talk about some of the ways that she integrates that into her life and why she has found it beneficial. We also go kind of into the sphere of naturopathic medicine, talking [00:01:00] about mold illness and toxicity, nervous system regulation. And Sarah talks a lot about what she considers the foundations of health and how. each person as an individual can improve their foundations of health to really feel their best feel their healthiest. And I hope you get a lot from this conversation. Sarah is incredibly knowledgeable.

She is a great person and I hope you enjoy.

Hi, Sarah. Thanks for joining me on the podcast today.

Dr. Sarah: Yeah, for sure. It's nice to do something other than just nod at you at the gym.

Roni: Yes. For those of you listening, Sarah, Sarah also lives in Northern Colorado and, um, yeah, we go to the same powerlifting gym and, uh, met each other at the 5 30 AM club at the gym, Sarah, I think is still a part of that. I, I

Dr. Sarah: Yep. Morning crew for life.

Roni: yeah, I have, um, become an afternoon person. So, well, Sarah, why don't you tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do?

Dr. Sarah: Yes, so [00:02:00] my name is officially Dr. Sarah Kashdan. I am a registered naturopathic doctor and licensed acupuncturist in Fort Collins, Colorado. My private practice is, um, Rocky Mountain Natural Medicine. And what I do is I specialize in complicated, uh, chronic complex disease. So I see the patients who have seen several other conventional providers, MDs, DOs.

They haven't really been able to get better or figure out what's going on with their health. So they come and see me. And what I do is I do a lengthy intake. I look for the root cause or causes of what might be causing their health issues. And then my medical approach is natural medicine. So that can be anything from diet, lifestyle, botanical medicine, homeopathy, supplements, acupuncture.

I have a lot of different tools in my toolkit. And my goal is to get people better and to keep them better.

Roni: Oh, I love it. What got you interested in natural medicine as opposed to maybe conventional Western medicine?

Dr. Sarah: Yeah, so my journey stems from my own [00:03:00] experience in the conventional medical system. I ended up having ovarian cancer and my symptoms were very much dismissed ahead of time by conventional doctors. I was very disempowered, wasn't getting answers. Eventually found out that I did have cancer and then decided that I wanted to heal myself with a different type of medicine.

So acupuncture was my first. Kind of introduction to that. And then I found the naturopathic world. And from that experience, I decided that I wanted to provide a different experience for people than what I had. So I decided to go to medical school and get my doctorate and a master's at the same time, and then come back to Colorado and open up private practice.

Roni: Wow. So have you been in remission then for a while?

Dr. Sarah: Yep, I've been in remission. I did end up having surgery when this kind of all started, but, um, in terms of healing myself after that, I didn't do radiation, I didn't do chemo, I haven't taken any pharmaceuticals, everything that I've done for myself has been through, uh, acupuncture, natural medicine, a lot of dietary changes.

Roni: [00:04:00] Whoa. I didn't know that. That's really interesting. I know. So I know that part of that dietary change is that you're vegan, right? Um, so I'm interested because I've heard a lot of people talk about like a solution or like a dietary change that you could make when you're diagnosed with cancer is to go carnivore.

So like what, uh, made you go the opposite direction and go vegan when other people talk about going, you know, like carnivore or keto, I guess.

Dr. Sarah: Yeah, for sure. So, there are a lot of different labels for different diets and things like that, and I think sometimes we get lost in the weeds of trying to stay within a certain box. Actually, in my knowledge, uh, both as a prior patient and as a clinician, actually, more of the plant based approach is what is being, um, more, recommended for people who have cancer.

For me, a lot of it came from not just the plant based aspect, but I always wanted to be a veterinarian. I love animals. So there's a spiritual aspect for me that I have difficulty consuming animals. Um, but from a health perspective, [00:05:00] um, you know, at least in my personal healing and what I, Try to recommend to a lot of my patients is that food is medicine Um, there are so many amazing nutrients and benefits to having plants in your diet It does not mean that you have to be entirely plant based And I don't think that there's one diet for every person.

I'm actually very anti labels and i'm very anti extremes I really promote what I think will support someone their metabolic health What they're able to access in terms of food and also what aligns with them spiritually So I went down the vegan route because that's what aligned the best for me. It's how, it's what felt the best in my body.

Uh, I continue to be vegan. Um, again, for me, it's not just the nutrition aspect of it, but there really is a spiritual aspect of it for well, uh, for me as well.

Roni: Mm. That's really cool. Yeah. So for anybody who's listening, who maybe is heard some, you know, negative things about veganism or has some myths around veganism, can you talk about You know, some [00:06:00] of the benefits of going fully plant based and like the benefits that you personally have seen other than your obvious cancer remission and things like that.

Dr. Sarah: Yeah, for sure. For sure. Yeah. I, I always think it's really interesting. Um, there's such like a hate. towards vegans, and I, I don't really know where that comes from. I think it's because it's just a very different lifestyle that a lot of people either, one, they aren't interested in, or two, don't understand how they can go about doing that, so I think it's just a waste of people's energy to hate certain groups or certain people based on what they consume.

So, for me, Again, there is such a high nutritional value of plants. Um, you know, I know that there's a lot of fear tactics out there, like, oatmeal is bad for you, you're gonna, like, ingest plant defensins. It's, it's a bunch of silliness, right? Um, the benefits of real, whole food can't be denied. Whether that includes animal products or not.

Um, you know, as a plant based person, I do get a lot of fiber in my diet. I find that most people are pretty low in fiber. So the people who follow more of [00:07:00] like the keto carnivore diet, there are potentially some benefits of that, but you're also missing a lot of the fiber that we need for a lot of our gut health.

I'm not protein deficient. I know that's one that people say all the time. I'm not B12 deficient and actually B12 deficiency spans all diets. I see it. in everybody. It doesn't matter. Um, so for me, I feel, one, I feel really good spiritually. Two, I tend to not get sick very often and if I do, I heal quite quickly.

I find that with, um, being an athlete, in lifting, I tend to recover really easily, um, my bowels are really good, I don't have any health problems these days, like, really nothing. I mean, some stress here and there, but don't we all.

Roni: Yeah, totally. Yeah. So as a, for listeners, Sarah is power lifter. She's an incredible power lifter. So I would, I think that on that line of, you know, Do you, how do you get enough protein? How do you, how do you make sure you're getting calcium? Like, can you tell us some of those things that, that you do in order to ensure that you're [00:08:00] getting enough protein?

Not only just as a, an individual woman, but also as an athlete.

Dr. Sarah: Yeah, for sure, so I don't track all the time, I find it to, it makes me neurotic, um, but sometimes before a meet I'll track just to make sure that my macros are good, I get, Plenty of protein in my diet, um, my food sources, I really like legumes, um, I personally do really well with soy, some people don't, um, I like tempeh, of course, vegetables, every once in a while I'll do some protein powder, but I really try to focus on actual food sources, I know that there are some people on a plant based diet or vegan diet who gravitate towards like the beyond meats and some of the processed foods, and I really From a health standpoint, I, that is very, very minimal, like maybe like 5 percent of my diet, and it's just if I go out, so, I just eat whole foods, um, I try to do as much of my own cooking as I can, um, so I can be in control of what, what I'm putting in my body, I try to rotate my protein sources, it's really, it's not as hard as people think it is, um, you just have to get into a groove and just make sure that [00:09:00] you're nourishing your body.

Roni: Do you find that you eat a lot more food now that you're plant based, like quantity wise, just

Dr. Sarah: Yeah, so volume wise. Yeah, that's I think a big, um, issue for people who kind of transition more towards a plant based diet is you have to consume more actual food to get enough calories in your diet. And I do have patients who come in who are on a plant based diet, but they don't eat enough calories and like they're losing their hair and like that's where it's coming from more than like the actual deficiencies of anything else or just in like a massive caloric deficit and that doesn't support our body functions.

So, So I forget what that question was. I was just like, I went on tirade.

Roni: No, yeah. It was exactly that. It was that you, do you find you have to eat a lot more

Dr. Sarah: Yeah, you do. And I get full easily because plant material takes up more room in your gut. So, but it's also I feel satiated more, right? I don't, I don't feel hungry. I mean, I feel hungry, obviously, when I'm supposed to feel hungry, but I don't feel like I'm in a starvation mode by any means.

And I feel like I can consume a lot of foods and feel just like [00:10:00] really, really good after a meal.

Roni: Do you have recommendations for anybody who is trying to move away from processed foods and eat more whole foods, whether that's animal products or plant based foods?

Dr. Sarah: Yeah, I think regardless of what diet label you want to put on yourself, I think meal prepping is really helpful, um, I'm extraordinarily busy and, you know, yesterday, for example, I prepped a bunch of chili, I prepped a bunch of soup, so that I don't have to think about what I need to eat during the week, so that is a strategy that I use, there's, I mean, I'm not saying I never eat processed food or I never go out to eat, But I really tried to make the majority of my meals at home, so that I know what's in them and they're nourishing and they taste good and cooking is fun, right?

It's something that you get to do and be a part of. So, um, again, I think people make things more complicated than it is, and people feel really overwhelmed with like, what is the exact formula that I need to follow in order to be successful? And I think it's just finding something that you can do sustainably.

And when you. Eat [00:11:00] more plants or when you move to a diet that nourishes you better, you feel better. And then that motivates you to continue to kind of, um, you know, involve yourself in however you're going to support that.

Roni: Mm hmm. What do you, what do you have to say about people who are maybe plant adverse? You know, like they're like, I don't like the taste of plants. Yes.

Dr. Sarah: a lot of those patients. Um, I, I think it's just, you know, different plants. Like, for example, I hate beets. I think they're gross. I can't do it. I know the like medicinal benefits of it, but it tastes like dirt.

forget it Um, but there's so many other delicious vegetables out there.

I think a lot of times people just don't know how to, don't know how to prepare them. You know, when I was young, I remember my mom taking the like frozen Brussels sprouts and boiling them and they were just like, ugh, they were so gross. But now it's like, you can roast them, you can make sauces, you can do so many other things to make them more palatable.

And I think people are more in their head about it than they realize. Like, it's really not so bad. Just try, just try different ways of [00:12:00] preparing them.

Roni: yeah. I do love a good crispy roasted Brussels sprout. Got a little like char on the top.

Dr. Sarah: Oh, it's so good. It's so good. Yeah

Roni: So, uh, I would follow you on Instagram, of course. And the other day you were talking about, um, alternative medicine as I guess that there's maybe this misconception about alternative medicine for a lot of people that it should be like a secondary to Westernized medicine. Um, Yeah, I just I'm interested to hear you talk a little bit more about that and obviously I know that's something you're really passionate about being an alternative medicine so.

Dr. Sarah: for sure. For sure. I know we have to put labels on something to kind of distinguish ourselves, but you know that that post was all about, you know, naturopathic medicine, acupuncture, it's called alternative medicine. And my question is, well, it's what's an alternative to, and I think we can all agree that there are a lot of pitfalls in our in our regular medical system, you know, insurance companies, pharmaceuticals, doctors not taking enough time to spend with their patients or, you know, throwing [00:13:00] drug after drug at them and, you know, there are a lot of issues and I think generally we can all agree on that.

And so it's hard to be considered alternative if that is the standard of care. Um, I really truly believe that the foundations of like nutrition, stress management, exercise, All of those foundational things, that should be primary care, um, that should be the foundation of how healthcare is approached, because otherwise, you're kind of just overlaying a medical system on a faulty foundation, and ultimately that doesn't work.

All of my patients come in, there's something off in their foundations of health, and had there been some correction or some education about how to support themselves at a very base level, probably wouldn't have developed a lot of the conditions that they do. So I don't believe I'm alternative medicine.

I feel like I should be primary care, but primary care not within the confines of conventional medicine,

Roni: hmm. Yeah, kind of that I the idea of preventative medicine versus like

Dr. Sarah: medicine. [00:14:00] Yeah, and I, you know, it's amazing how, how many of my patients come in and they, they have all these things going on and the approach from their doctors is we're just going to watch and wait. We're just going to make sure if it gets worse, then we'll deal with it, which to me is the opposite of what we should be doing.

We should be proactive, we should be preventative, so that we don't have to, Wait for all these horrible things to happen. And then if they happen, well, then what do we do? Right? So, um, I really think that what I do is primary care. It's just that's not the way our health care system is set up.

Roni: Right. Yeah, so you mentioned that the, a lot of the cases that you see are people with kind of complicated. system, uh, symptoms that, that they're experiencing. Do you feel like they are, are they actually complicated or are they just complicated in the scope of Western medicine?

Dr. Sarah: That's a great question. Um, so I actually think that they're not complicated. They just present as, you know, I have all these different Symptoms. I've seen all these different doctors. Nobody's helping me. But really again, I always you're gonna Hear me say this again and [00:15:00] again, it's usually a foundational problem, right?

So, is it because your stress response in your nervous system is dysregulated? Yes. Is it because your diet isn't supporting your individual body? Are you exposed to any sort of environmental factors? There are all these different things that are themes that I see all the time. Um, it's really like gut and nervous system and sometimes our livers aren't doing a good job of metabolizing all the stuff that we have to deal with all the time.

So from like a pattern perspective, it's all really, really similar. It just manifests in different bodies differently.

Roni: Yeah, can you give some overall foundational lifestyle changes that you think would benefit, I'm going to say quote unquote, most people?

Dr. Sarah: Yeah, I think so. My main thing is reconnecting with nature, right? So here we are. We are creatures of the earth, but we're exposed to artificial light all the time. We're on our phones. We're inundated with stimulus, and it's really not good for our nervous systems, and that will start to dysregulate our sleep, and then all of these other things start to [00:16:00] happen.

So going outside, um, we're lucky in Colorado that we have so much sunshine, um, putting your feet on the earth when it's not Yeah. Yeah. negative 17 outside, um, to really connecting with nature, getting natural light in your eyes, I think is incredibly important. Um, really good sleep hygiene, making sure that you're sleeping well, um, that you're eating regular meals.

A lot of the patients that I see have underlying dysregulated blood sugar where, you know, they're not eating at regular times, they're not getting enough protein in their diet, and then that will throw off their hormones, their sleep and everything else. So again, it's really not complicated in terms of what you need to do is just hard to implement in our daily life because I think our modern life does not support health.

It just kind of supports this hustle and grind that eventually, you know, causes our bodies to break down.

Roni: Mm hmm. Yeah, it is so funny living in Colorado and we have so much sunshine here that, you know, we have a couple days of, of cloudy weather and I think all of us

Dr. Sarah: Everyone loses it. Yeah.

Roni: we, yeah, we all start to like wilt, you know,

and then the sun comes back But I mean, that's the [00:17:00] thing. It's like, we physically feel different when we're not exposed to that, whether we're, whether we're aware of it or not and such a crux of natural medicine is living, 

the most natural life that you can 

Dr. Sarah: and I think it's really that disconnection that sets us up to be susceptible to a lot of, you know, different illnesses or just not feeling right.

Roni: Yeah, I listened to the, I'm not sure if you're familiar with them or not, but the Huberman lab podcast. Yeah. 

Dr. Sarah: there's some things of his I like and some I don't

Roni: Sure. Sure. Of course. Yeah. But he talks a lot about getting natural sunlight and just the, the positive benefits of that. I think it's really nice that there's somebody who's so like popular in the mainstream who's

Dr. Sarah: Yeah, for sure. Yeah, and I think the the kind of funny part is that like, it's not sexy at all like, you know, going outside in the sunshine like it's not gonna, you know, make a lot of money right but I that is so so so important to our health and in terms of, you know, the alternative nature of things it's like, just go be a [00:18:00] person on like from the earth.

And you'll feel so much better. Like we know this, like we don't need research to tell us that being outside and moving our bodies and feeling connected is something that will support our health.

Roni: Right. Yeah. I mean, you just experience it when, you know, you go outside even just for a 20 minute walk or something and experience the benefits of that, like coming, coming back to your house and being like, wow, I feel energized


Dr. Sarah: more grounded. My nervous system is calm. And then that supports all of your other body systems.

Roni: Yeah, totally. So I know that, uh, let's see, I guess like later last year, later in 2023, I remember you talking a lot about people having mold exposure and mold toxicity. And I didn't realize that was such that was a concern even in such a dry place, like Colorado. Um, can you talk to me a little bit about What are maybe the symptoms?

Well, okay, maybe like general overview of like what mold toxicity mold illness could be and then like what some of the symptoms people might experience if they're having that.

Dr. Sarah: Yeah. So mold [00:19:00] is kind of a world that I stumbled into. It's not something that I necessarily got any specific training about while I was in medical school, but, um, so mold, we all know what, what mold is, right? But mold can exist in so many different places. It can exist under carpets. It can be behind walls.

It can be an HVAC systems. It can be in college dorms. I have a lot of college kids with mold. It can be an old housing and then, oh, I also seen a lot of the newer housing because the building materials are quite poor. Um, and it's a problem, especially, you know, this past year, we had a lot of rain, a lot of hail damage.

People had a lot of water damage in their house. And because of the drier climate that we're used to, we don't think about mold. Posing a problem, but what I'm seeing is that it's causing more and more problems. So kind of the telltale signs that I see, the number one thing that tips me off is if you feel worse in a certain environment and you feel better when you're out of that environment.

That is really classic for any sort of mold or other environmental, exposure. And it doesn't have to just be mold, but mold is what I see a lot. [00:20:00] Um, and mold illness can be, it can be hard to dial in because it can present so differently. And it can be in so many different systems of the body. So, I see a lot of like, you know, of course, skin rashes.

I see headaches and brain fog. I see gut stuff, um, like a ton of bloating. Um, I see, you know, recurrence of underlying autoimmune disease or recurrence of underlying viral diseases. And it's really those people who have so many symptoms everywhere. It's what my question is always, what is kind of like the underlying reason, or why is the body freaking out so much?

And a lot of times it's mold. Um, and you may not see it in your house, but it doesn't mean it's there hiding out somewhere.

Roni: Yeah, I didn't realize it could be so immediate as in like you feel bad when you're at your house but maybe you go to the gym or something

Dr. Sarah: Yeah, yeah, it is pretty immediate like that. And whenever I suspect any sort of mold, I always ask, you know, Do you feel better when you go on vacation? Or do you feel better? Like when you're at work? Or [00:21:00] if you know, just a different location. And a lot of people will say, Yeah, I feel worse when I'm in my house or in this particular environment.

And that kind of tells me that there might be something there that we need to address.

Roni: And so. If you, uh, say that you find you have mold in your house and you have it mitigated or, you know, maybe you move, whatever the thing is, um, is that an, is that an immediate enough fix for the problem or are there other treatments that people need to go through in order to get over their mold illness?

Dr. Sarah: Yeah, so getting people either out of their environment or, or mitigating it is priority number one. Um, I always say you can't heal in an environment that makes you sick. And I've had plenty of patients where I can get them out of their housing by writing letters and all these different things and they start to feel better almost right away.

That being said, you know, the reason why people are susceptible to mold is multiple different reasons. Some people have a genetic predisposition, and other people depend, again, on their foundations of health, right? So if they are prone to constipation, if they [00:22:00] eat a really processed diet, if their nervous system is dysregulated, all those things, and then you put mold on top of that, those people get really, really sick.

So once you deal with the actual environment, it's going back and fixing, you know, the gut health, it goes back to fixing the nervous system, the hormones, all of that, um, optimizing your body's detox pathways, and then people do quite well. I do pretty well with my mold cases. I wouldn't say 100%. I don't think any doctor bats 100, but I generally find people feel much, much better once I address the environment and get their bodies feeling better.

Roni: And is, are there, and maybe this is case to case situation, but is there, uh, like a particular part of the body? I mean, like you mentioned nervous system and things, but like, is there a specific part of the body that tends to be worse off when somebody has mold? Like, is it, like, are they more prone to leaky gut specifically or

Dr. Sarah: Yeah, I would say gut is the number one, um, for sure, because yes, we, we smell mold, but we also inhale it, we inhale these mold spores, and [00:23:00] so when you inhale something, it's gonna go all the way through your digestive tract, and I, I see, like, a ton of bloating, like, a ton of, like, yeast infections, um, really, like, weird bowel movements.

things like that. So it usually affects the gut highly. Um, and a lot of these people will have like Candida, which is a type of yeast that will overgrow. So I would say the gut if I had to pick his number one.

Roni: Mm hmm. Okay. I want to take things a little higher level for a minute. Because you've mentioned nervous system regulation multiple times and kick, uh, for just if anybody doesn't know what that is, can, can you kind of give an overview of what that means and how somebody would know if their nervous system isn't regulated?

yeah that's a great question, man I could talk about that.

Dr. Sarah: all day long. Um, so if we think about like our, our ability to adapt, um, is basically our nervous system at work. We need to have like our sympathetic fight or flight, right? Because that's a really important part of our stress response. It's very primal.

But then we also have that other part of our nervous [00:24:00] system, the parasympathetic, the quote unquote rest and digest. It's much more complicated than that, but we'll just talk about those two arms. And it's really how, how you adapt internally and externally to the world. And it involves a lot of your brain, but it also involves other areas of your body like your gut.

So the gut we talk about as like the second brain. And I know that's kind of up and coming in research, but also we've known about this for a very long time. So it's basically how can you understand your environment and respond to it. And there are a lot of different components that go about that. I think all of us in modern day life know the sensation of feeling like Anxious and kind of like up regulated or on the flip side of that like really low and depressed That's our nervous system trying to figure out what it needs to do How I see that manifest a lot in our modern life too is in our capacity to regulate our adrenal glands And our adrenal glands are these little glands that sit on top of our kidneys.

They regulate our cortisol I know that's super buzzworthy these days cortisol is one of our stress hormones We need it for a lot of different reasons But [00:25:00] also we tend to stay in fight or flight a lot Because we're hustling, we're grinding, our sleep is bad, all of that kind of stuff. It just burns out our resources.

And so people just feel exhausted all the time. It's literally, you know, body burnout. Um, and so really getting your body to be much more balanced and resilient is super important for your body's ability to heal. Um, like we think about, like, irritable bowel, for example, which is kind of, to me, a garbage diagnosis, but it's basically telling me that your nervous system and your gut are having a hard time talking to each other.

And so like when you're stressed, you have more bowel movements or you know, your stomach hurts or you're, you know, all these different symptoms. And it's really just because your body's trying to figure out how to adapt to its environment.

Roni: So how does one go about building resilience for, for different situations that they

Dr. Sarah: That's a really great question. That's a great question. Um, again, again, going back to the foundations, right? Like, what's your sleep hygiene? Like, if your sleep is terrible, you're on your screens at night, you know, [00:26:00] you're not taking enough time to, to relax and rest and recharge your body. Then it's, you're going to have a, you're going to have a bad time, right?

So, you know, and everyone regulates their nervous system differently. So some people feel really good when they do something like meditation. I can't sit there and do that. It will make me crazy. But like, going for a walk or going for a hike without any sort of electronics, um, you know, sometimes lifting can be meditative because you have to be really present with what you're doing.

Finding ways that you can kind of like, Calm yourself at the end of like a hard day like a bath or whatever it is that you need to do Is the way that you build resilience and your body will learn if you give it enough consistent feedback how to do that And if you can't do it on your own then that's where I get to step in and recommend all the things that I recommend.

You know, acupuncture is great for that. There are certain herbs that are amazing for that. Certainly working on your diet, making sure you have enough nutrients, like your vitamin D's, all of that, um, can be another way that you can build resilience.

Roni: hmm. Yeah, but I feel like a lot of what I'm hearing you saying [00:27:00] is just essentially like just tuning in, you know, to tuning into your body, tuning into the things that make you feel calm and grounded. And yeah, and like, yeah, that's clearly different for every person,

Dr. Sarah: different for every person. Yeah, I think it's, you know, our very primal instinct is, you know, we have a stressful situation, we deal with it, and then, you know, naturally we should calm back down again. But it's hard for people to do, you know, the calming down aspect. And so our body just kind of forgets.

Um, how to, how to chill out essentially. And so we have to just kind of reteach ourselves over and over, how to kind of balance ourselves a little bit better so that if we do encounter stressful situations, we don't stay in that place. Um, because if we stay in that place, Physiologically, our body responds really poorly to that.

Roni: Mm. Yeah, I'm imagining just like an everyday situation for somebody of like, you know, something happens with their kid at school that's really stressful, but like they're, you know, when that is finished, they're going back to their [00:28:00] stressful job or they're driving in traffic or something like there's very few opportunities built into life, I think, that allow people to really like downregulate

Dr. Sarah: Absolutely. I, a lot of the things that I see are such a product of our, our modern lifestyle. Um, and I don't think our modern lifestyle, I think I said before, it doesn't really support good health, in my

Roni: hmm. Yeah, that's such a hard balance to find though, I think of, you know, wanting to, to wanting to have a certain lifestyle or wanting to be successful, but also looking after looking after yourself and looking after the things that are going to help

Dr. Sarah: Yeah, I, I just, you know, like, I think a lot of our, you know, like, our government is kind of trash, um, you know, there really aren't a lot of programs in place, I mean, we're still fighting for, like, maternity leave, like, we're fighting for so many things that I think would really support people's health and their mental well being, but the, they're just not there, and I like that we're having more and more conversations about mental health and taking care of ourselves, but I think the systems [00:29:00] really aren't there to support that, which is unfortunate, so.

Roni: Yeah, I absolutely agree with that. I know that, uh, this is a little off topic, but I remember there was a certain point in time last year when it was like everybody, everybody thought that they had ADHD because there was some like TikTok ad that went 

Dr. Sarah: god, don't get me started on TikTok, it

Roni: That tell people they had ADHD and then it was like people who are actually having, you know, issue, mental health issues and needing ADHD medication couldn't get it because people were, you know, coming out of the woodworks thinking they had ADHD.

So yeah, there really aren't systems in place to really support people in those kinds of

Dr. Sarah: Yeah, and you bring up TikTok. I think social media is horrible for our health. Um, I use it, obviously. You know, I do a little bit on my professional one. I'm trying to use it a little bit more. I mostly just share dog pictures on my personal one. But it really, I don't think that it really supports a lot of people.

Certainly there are benefits of, you know, finding community. Maybe finding, you know, a practitioner like myself that you can start to work with in person. But, I think [00:30:00] social, it's a very fine line of social media being useful. And it also destroying our mental and physical health.

Roni: Yeah, I'm rereading one of Brene Brown's books and she mentions in there talking about social media and the internet. And she says that a lot, our brains have a hard time, like, differentiating between just strictly communication and connection with people, you know, it's really easy to communicate with people over text messages over social media, but actually that connection piece is really lost in the digital

Dr. Sarah: Yeah, it's, I call it cheap dopamine. It's just, like, it's just bad. Like, you can get your hit, but it's not really Nourishing for your body and I think that you know as the newer generations the younger ones It's like people don't know how to have in person conversations. They don't know how to read body language They don't know any of that because they're just in phones all the time and it makes me really nervous this is like an off topic thing, but Where we're headed in terms of healthcare, in terms of like, AI and all that, I'm like, we're missing a [00:31:00] lot of what it means to be human when we are interacting with, you know, social media or the internet or technology that much.

And I, I really don't know what's going to happen in the future if there's a reliance on that.

Roni: Yeah, that's a really good point. Um, because yeah, I mean, so much of what you do requires you to be able to sit with somebody, you know, I'm sure physically look at them, have a conversation with them, ask them questions

Dr. Sarah: I feel there are Chinese pulses. I mean, it's very, you know, there's a sense of intuition that I actually think I'm quite good at, but that's not something you, you can't, you can't be intuitive with someone. Like, in an, in an artificial way. It just, it doesn't work. And I think it really cheats people out of what it means to be human.

And there's so much that we know about, you know, deep human connection and how that changes our bodies. And I feel like we're not getting that as much anymore. And I think that's a huge, you know, contributor to a lot of like the disconnect, the burnout we have, because we're, we're trying so hard to find that connection.

We're doing it in ways that just aren't real.

Roni: Yeah, maybe somebody's way [00:32:00] to down regulate is to like have a human connection instead of being on social media.

Dr. Sarah: Yeah. Just saying.

I mean, I'm thinking of a little bit more about like the connection thing and you know, one facet that I see a lot of in my practice is autoimmune disease. And a lot of autoimmune disease is precipitated by some sort of really stressful event, like 9 times out of 10, and so, it again kind of really speaks to this nervous system component to our health, and really a lot of Treatment for autoimmune disease, and if people don't know what an autoimmune disease is, it's basically your body turning against itself, in some area of your body.

And I really feel like that sets a representation of us feeling like we're separate, or there's like a duality, right, as opposed to feeling really unified in our bodies. And I always just think it's really interesting. the mind body connection that we have and how that manifests as physical symptoms and have and how we have to kind of go back and figure out how to treat people.

And a lot of it is, you know, did you just kind of get overwhelmed to [00:33:00] a place that your body couldn't handle it anymore? And now we need to go back. I need to find you a therapist. I need to kind of like, work on a bunch of things so that you can like reintegrate into your body. Um, and when you approach cases from that lens, or if you approach cases, you know, with, from like a really deeply understood mind body connection standpoint, people get better and autoimmune diseases will reverse.

They'll go, um, it just, you just have to kind of, you know, figure out where they're coming from. And a lot of times it's stress. I hate to say it, but stress.

Roni: Wow, that's so interesting. I did not know that about autoimmune diseases that, that a lot of it was real. I mean. I know that there's, um, not, at least I've heard that there's not like concrete evidence of, you know, autoimmune diseases are caused by this one thing. You know, there's lots of things like some people have food allergies and that's what caused it.

And some people have, you know, certain things. So that's so interesting to, I guess it goes back to that foundations piece of like, one of your foundations is potentially off and then, or multiple are potentially off.

Dr. Sarah: Yeah, [00:34:00] I just see it so much, and I think people don't realize how deep the mind body connection is, even though we know it, right, we're like, ah, mind body, and conventional medicines, like, they kind of know it, but also not, I feel like they still really separate a lot of the systems, um, but we are just so, like, deeply integrated into ourselves, and when, when We have pathology when we have symptoms, it's because something is disintegrated in the body.

Like I like to explain leaky gut is your gut lining is disintegrated, um, and now things that normally wouldn't bother your system are causing an inflammatory reaction, or you're not absorbing the nutrients that you need, it's because you're disintegrated. So you have to work to reintegrate the body. And then once you do that, the body takes over and it knows exactly what to do.


Roni: I've heard the term, well, and I think a lot of people have heard the term mind body connection, particularly related to lifting weights or exercising, you know, being very present in your body when you're doing active things.

But what are ways that people could, you know, create more of that in their, in their day to day life? You know, when they're [00:35:00] either in their stressful situations or in between their stressful, stressful and, and, Stressful situations.

Dr. Sarah: Yeah, I think one of the things that we can utilize is our breath. And I know that's like a very hippie like yoga thing. I was a yoga teacher for a while. Um, but that really is such a great way that we can exert control over our bodies because you know, our autonomic nervous system is like our heartbeat and like all of our other, body processes, but we have control over our breath.

And when we start to manipulate that, and when we work with that, you know, extending our exhales, making sure that we're breathing deeply into our diaphragm and not our chest, that really gives your body the signal that it's like time to chill out. One of my favorite topics in the world is, um, the vagus nerve.

And so the vagus nerve is one, one of our cranial nerves, and it literally connects our brain to all of our other organs and into our gut. It goes through our diaphragm. So that literally, we literally have a mind. body connection and the way that we can really access that is through our breath.

Roni: Hmm. I like that though, because that feels very easy to grab onto of, you know, of, [00:36:00] I think a lot of times really, it just takes the reminder of what I'm not paying attention to my breath

Dr. Sarah: A lot of people don't. A lot of people yeah, and so like when I see a lot of my, every one of my new patients, I always observe where they're breathing and almost always they breathe into their chest, which is a, is a stress response and it keeps you in a stress response. And so I, I, I've had patients where I need to teach them how to breathe or like to understand that their breath can go deeper into their body and to counter whatever breath work I want to do.

And. Honestly, you know, there's a ton, a ton of research out there. This isn't just like a hippie thing, um, about how we can regulate our nervous system just by manipulating our breath, but people don't think about it. Um, or if like we think about lifting, right, we have to brace, right. We have to understand how to breathe because if we're just breathing into our chests, we can't move anything.

So, you know, there are ways to incorporate it into activities that you really like, um, so that you don't have to just sit on the floor for 40 minutes and try to breathe because we don't have time for that, unfortunately.

Roni: What would be some ways that people could incorporate that? Um, like the thing that's coming to my mind is I'm [00:37:00] like, Oh, I'm cooking dinner. And I could just like be a little more mindful about how I'm breathing while I'm chopping vegetables or

Dr. Sarah: Yeah, yeah, that's it. Yeah, for sure. So there, I forget the name of her. There's a Buddhist nun, and she, in one of her books, talks about, um, noticing when you're thinking, and so there's a story that she talks about, where it's like you're washing your dishes, and you're washing your dishes, and you're just like bebopping somewhere else in your brain, and then you take a moment, and you're like, oh my gosh, I'm thinking, and then you go back to washing your dishes, and you notice how you're you know, the soap feels the water temperature, how the plates feel in your hand.

And that's a way of kind of being more in the present moment. And when you're in the present moment, your body will respond by breathing deeper by doing all those other things. So sometimes just that mindfulness, um, can bring even just washing your dishes for two minutes, can start to retrain your nervous system and all of your body functions to, to just be a little bit more regulated and balanced.

Roni: Hmm. That's beautiful. And that's so much better. Like you said, [00:38:00] you know, you can't really sit down and meditate. And I think a lot of people have that feeling of like meditation, you know, doesn't work for me. My, my brain doesn't want to


Dr. Sarah: can adapt the meditative strategies to almost anything. And I think that makes it much more accessible to people, and I think, you know, a lot of how I practice medicine is making it really accessible and attainable for people, as opposed to giving them this whole laundry list of things to do, because no one's going to do that, right?

But if you can just think for two minutes a day about how soap feels on your hands when you wash the dishes, as silly as it sounds, it has a huge, huge impact on our bodies.

Roni: Mm hmm. And that I, I imagine has the, it's like a, like a building effect of like, you do this for two minutes while you're washing the dishes and then the next thing you know, you're, you know, you're driving in the car and normally it would be a stressful situation, but instead you're focusing on being present in the moment.

Dr. Sarah: Yeah, for sure. I mean, I talk a lot to my patients about, um, you know, building your baseline resilience and we already talked about resilience, but you know, our healing process is never linear. It's up, down, up, down. But as long as you're up, [00:39:00] downing in a positive direction, um, you're increasing your baseline resilience.

So things that would normally cause some sort of, you know, horrible stress response, you might not have that as much anymore. And to me, that's a huge, huge sign that the body's starting to heal. And it doesn't mean that we're never going to have stress. It just means that our body adapts to it more appropriately when

Roni: Mm hmm. Okay, well, I don't want to take up your whole day, so, I think that's a wonderful place to stop.

Dr. Sarah: Yeah, for sure.

Roni: Can you tell everybody where they can find you, connect with you, learn more about you?

Dr. Sarah: Yeah, so my Instagram, my professional one, is um, at coloradonaturedoc, just one word, I'll lowercase. Um, my clinic is Rocky Mountain Natural Medicine here in Fort Collins. We have a website, we're redoing it right now, but it should be much better soon. So you can always find me through there. If you're interested in seeing me as a patient, um, I'm only licensed in Colorado, so as long, as long as I can physically see you in Colorado.

Um, then I can treat you and, I like doing podcasts. I love teaching. I do a lot of teaching outside of my clinical practice. [00:40:00] So if there is anyone who ever wants me to put on workshops or seminars or other podcasts, I'm always happy to do that.

Roni: Oh, that's great. Excellent. Well, thanks so much for joining me, Sarah. This has been 

Dr. Sarah: Yeah, you're welcome. You're welcome. My pleasure.

Roni: As always, thank you for tuning in. There will be links in the show notes to connect with Sarah. If you want to follow her online or get in touch with her, if you are local to Colorado, and if you'd like to support the Plan to Eat podcast, please subscribe and rate us on Apple podcasts, Spotify, and audible.

Thanks again for listening and I will see you in two weeks.