ep. 12 - Bacteria outnumber our cells... and why that's a good thing with natalie earle

April 21, 2022

More Bacteria than Human Cells?

Not to alarm you, but right now, there are more bacteria in your body than there are human cells.

And that’s a good thing!

In this week’s podcast episode, Natalie Earle explains why there’s more Not-You than Actual-You in you, and why that’s so important for our health.

Read on for the full podcast transcript below, because Natalie’s shared some incredible content in today’s episode:

Want to watch the episode itself? Click the link here, because you can view the entire episode playback.

Doug: Welcome back to the weight loss with hypnosis podcast. My name is Doug sands and I’m the hypnotist and the host behind this show and this week I am so excited to share this interview. Today I am joined by [00:04:00] Natalie Earl, a certified functional nutritional therapy practitioner or FNTP. And this has been one of my favorite interviews so far because we covered so much in this interview. We actually went far over what I expected for the title of it, because we talked about so many different ranging topics. Everything from gathering mushrooms to cold shock therapy, to the gut microbiome, which is one of Natalie’s major specialties.

So here’s a little bit of information about Natalie before we dive into this. Natalie is currently based in Scottsdale Arizona, but she calls Oregon home. She works in large part online with people all around the world for these specific issues. In the past, Natalie has four years work experience at a functional medicine clinic where she helped individuals to reverse chronic diseases, like type two diabetes, hashimoto’s and ulcerative colitis. Natalie has also been trained by renowned nutritionist, Mary Ruddick. And now is also currently working with Mary on certain [00:05:00] programs, as well as helping certain clients to grow and to make these changes. Now, Natalie’s focus is largely on the gut microbiome and we had a fascinating conversation about this. We broke down what it actually means, not just the surface level thing about the myth, about the body mind connection that we all kind of understand, but don’t really understand. We actually talked about what the microbiome is doing for us and some of the fascinating facts that are out there about this microbiome that is living in each and every one of us.

Now, Natalie found her passion for her work after struggling under so many issues herself. From eczema to PTSD, to cystic acne, to depression and anxiety, and more. She studied the gut mind connection in large part because of that own experience. And she brings a lot of empathy to those currently struggling with these issues.

Natalie and I had an absolutely fascinating conversation. Covering everything from foraging mushrooms to the startling fact that there are more bacteria in the gut than there actually are cells in our body. I really hope that you [00:06:00] enjoy this interview because it was an absolute blast to record and to edit, to get to experience it again.

Thank you again to Natalie, and I really hope that you enjoy this. With that, let’s dive right into the content.



Doug: Welcome back to the podcast. My name is Doug Sands and I’m the host of the show and I’m joined today by Natalie Earl, Natalie. Thank you so much for joining us today. 

Natalie: Thank you so much, Doug, for having me. 

Doug: Absolutely. Natalie, would you mind introducing yourself a little bit? 

Natalie: Yes. So I am a nutritionist and my certification is a nutritional therapy practitioner and specifically with functional medicine.

And so the real difference with functional medicine nutrition versus someone who has gone and became a registered dietician is really the type of education that we get in looking at the body as a whole. So we look at body systems and how they correlate together. And we look at it in the foundation.

[00:07:00] So digestion is number one. And so that’s something that I focus in specialized in. You could say that I am a bit of an Explorer, an Alchemist, and a healer. That’s what really resonates with my personality. And if you ask any of my friends, they all come to me for advice on different herbs or something like that. And we are always out, exploring the wilderness in my spare time. And also my bachelor’s was in physics. And so, yeah, so I’ve always had this real deep interest in the sciences, but also the arts as well. 

Doug: That’s fascinating before I ask a little bit more about your story, I’d love to learn about these herbs and these things that you’re gathering.

 What kind of things do you gather out there?

Natalie: Yeah, so one of my favorite things that I’ve been getting into recently are mushrooms. So not necessarily an herb, but very, very powerful health food, and I don’t recommend anyone to just go out and I don’t, grab every mushroom that I see.

But when I was doing some backpacking in the Pacific Northwest, morels are easy to find as well [00:08:00] as in Colorado, when I was living there the last three years, we found some porcinis and that was a real exciting thing to find, but you would be surprised how much medicine is really just in your backyard.

Things like dandelion greens or thistle. And, those are some of a few of my favorite for sure, up there. 

Yeah. That’s fantastic. I’m curious, what are the health benefits of dandelion and what can people expect out of this?

Yes. So you’d be surprised that these medicines that grow and most of us know them as weeds, their names as weeds. The benefits from these plants are exactly what we need in support of kind of the reason why they’re there. So the reason why those weeds are there is because of an imbalance of the ecosystem.

And it’s very, very similar actually to the microbiome, which I will probably talk about later. But, when we have an ecosystem that’s out of balance, particularly in our ecosystems in our hometowns because of toxins like pesticides [00:09:00] and other things that we spray to kind of manicure our landscapes.

Well, the downside to that is there’s a lot of toxicity there. And for example, dandelions and thistle are both very, very therapeutic for liver support and our liver is our detoxifying organ. And so it will need help, especially in our modern contexts when we are surrounded by all of these different types of pesticides and herbicides.

So, yeah. 

Doug: Absolutely. And it’s really interesting that you brought up mushrooms because my girlfriend actually is an experienced mushroom hunter and she’s been getting me into it. And so it always shocks me just how many times we go out for a hike and she comes home with all of these different things, like a dozen different things that are edible out of the woods.

And so there’s, there’s so much out there. 

Natalie: Yes, there really is. A really good book for your listeners to read would be, it’s called sugars that heal. I can’t remember the doctor’s name, but he is amazing author of the real benefits of specific sugars that are found in specifically beta glucans.

Those are found in [00:10:00] mushrooms and all of the medicinal mushrooms are so therapeutic. So that’s awesome. I know it’s amazing they just pop up out of nowhere and they’re so healthy for us.

Doug: Absolutely. And touching on that, the links, or I should say the description of this, the book and everything is going to be in the show notes as well.

And I’d love to ask, you mentioned a beta glucans, what exactly are those and how do they help us? 

Natalie: Yeah. So beta glucans are a type of carbohydrate or sugar that’s found in it’s a polysaccharide right? So it’s was what that classification of carbohydrates is called and beta glucans are primarily found in mushrooms like shataki, cordyceps, rishi.

 Unfortunately, not your baby Bella or your button mushroom that you’ll find at your grocery store. Those do not contain the beta glucans. But the beta glucans are really beneficial. They have so many beneficial parts of them, their main regulators of the immune system.

Natalie: So they go in to the body, particularly the gut bacteria. They will help nourish healthy good bacteria. They [00:11:00] help regulate bowels, they can, really regulate the immune system, increase your immunity. So really great to be having these beta glucans in your diet during worldwide pandemic.

And just in general, I mean, because cancer is on the rise, a lot of autoimmune diseases are also on the rise, beta glucans, particularly with just that benefit of modulating our immune system are incredibly important. 

Doug: That’s fantastic. This has been a really interesting tangent I did not expect. And so taking it back, I’d love to learn, how did you get into this practice of nutrition and what makes it personal for you? 

Natalie: Uh, yes. So, my healing story actually starts in childhood. I’m actually a survivor of childhood abuse. And so I have dealt with the consequences of that in, experienced PTS, um, PTSD. I don’t really like to call it PTSD.

I think there’s been other terms that I find more resonate with me like post-traumatic stress recovery or a survivor, you know, things like that. 

Doug: If I might [00:12:00] just interject. As a hypnotist working with language, I think that’s absolutely so important. The language that we talk about for anything, any description is so valuable.

Natalie: It is, it completely shifted when I started to acknowledge it in a different way in my life. So, you know, some of the symptoms that I experienced as a kid were things like anxiety and depression. I had gastrointestinal issues at an early age. Yeast infections from early age and hormone imbalances, leading up into high school and fatigue, you know, a lot of fatigue, but it wasn’t really terrible until I went to college.

And, you know, all of the, basically the increased kind of production of cortisol from this chronic stress from the post-traumatic stress, it elevated the cortisol to a point where basically all of everything just kind of crashed and hit me at once. Once I went to college and I wasn’t eating a great diet anyways, throughout my life, so I started to have debilitating anxiety at that point, you know, tons [00:13:00] of, hormone issues and skin issues coming up.

I had cystic acne. It was painful. And I had cysts all over my body as well. It wasn’t just my face. It’s so painful and it really, really hits you at the core of your confidence levels. And so I was dealing with that and, I had tried some nutritional changes here and there throughout college, but nothing really helped.

It was more of a bandaid and I was still dealing with incredible, mood issues. And I found out later I had a whole history of things piling on top my head. Heavy metal toxicity from mercury fillings. And then, potentially even some autonomic, nervous issues with my immune system from a vaccine that I had, which I’m not against all, but that definitely played a part in my symptoms.

But then later I found a nutritionist who they started to really connect for me. The gut and the brain and the physiological symptoms and how they’re all connected. This nutritionist invited me into something called the gut [00:14:00] and psychology syndrome community and the gut and psychology syndrome is a particular nutritional protocol that I work with.

And it’s one of them that I work with that was designed by Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride, a wonderful Russian, medical doctor, neurologist and nutritionist who has used this protocol in a lot of different areas. So it can be utilized differently and individualized for so many different conditions.

And it really helped me. It just clicked for me and everything that I started to eat that was part of that really just was building me, it built my confidence again, it built my vitality again, I was energized and all of that to say. Now I’m here as a nutritionist and it’s a long story I guess, but I have been working at a functional medicine clinic over the last four years.

And I work with Mary Ruddick, director of nutrition for enable your healing. And we see clients all over the world, who are specifically having issues with nervous system issues, immune issues, hormone imbalances, and those are the main [00:15:00] disorders that we work with. Yeah. 

Doug: Thank you so much for sharing that.

And I find it so powerful when we connect that personal notes to what we do, what we bring to the table. Both with the empathy and with our motivation to stay with it in the hard times. I’m curious, you mentioned that you’re working with, Ms. Ruddick. Are you currently a private practice or are you kind of like a contractor with her?

Natalie: Yes, I’m a contracted nutritionist through her. So, that’s a recent development. And also, backtrack a little bit, a big reason why I feel really connected to your story and the work that you do is because part of my journey with the mood issues and trying to find help and guidance and nutrition support on my own without any. I actually didn’t. I wasn’t seeing a nutritionist for many years when I probably should have been. I was really having some issues with disordered eating during that time, really low weight. There’s so much difficult information to sift through. Nutrition information it can be really confusing. And so that’s one of my passions is really trying to make it empowering for the [00:16:00] individual that if it doesn’t sit well with you, then that’s not for you, but everyone is so bio-individual and so that’s a huge importance. So yeah, I work with Mary Ruddick. There’s me and myself and one other nutritionist there too, but I’m a contracted nutritionist through her. She has a fascinating story of healing from dysautonomia and there’s because of COVID, there’s hundreds of thousands of people who are actually developing dysautonomia because of you know, long COVID post-viral syndrome.

So that is a big issue going on. And so she kind of needs more nutritionists under her umbrella to help with those conditions. So, yeah. 

Doug: Absolutely. And for those who don’t know, like myself, what is dysautonomia? 

Natalie: Yeah. So dysautonomia is actually an autoimmune disease that affects the autonomic nervous system and the central nervous systems, as well as the immune system, because it’s an autoimmune disease.

And with it, there’s a lot of different co-morbidities or other types of diseases that go along with it. There’s [00:17:00] different variations potentially that someone might have, but there’s often a lot of people with neuropathy, pots syndrome, you know, other types of potentially even cardiovascular issues or other organ systems like kidney disease, something like that.

And it’s a very serious illness that many people are struggling with these days. And it often goes undiagnosed as well. 

Doug: I’m curious. I don’t want you to give a diagnosis. I often say that this is not a diagnosis.

This is just some information. But if someone is curious about if they might have dysautonomia, what are the warning signs? 

Natalie: Yeah. So, dysautonomia’s big teller is blood pooling because the central nervous system is a big impact on the heart and the circulation system that basically blood won’t.

If you’re standing for a long time or sitting for a long time, you will have blood pooling in the feet and your feet will actually often turn blue. So that’s the tall telling sign, but you could have seizures as well, minor seizures. Tachycardia is a [00:18:00] major symptom. There’s a lot of electrolyte imbalances, and people will often feel just terribly thirsty and dehydrated and they cannot quench it.

And that’s because of the dysregulation of the hormonal systems from the brain, right? So the brain is the main, instigator of all of our hormones. And so, those are some of the common major ones and there might be dizziness, tingling, pain all over their body and fatigue that most people are either needing to be bedbound for a short time or if they’re not that bad, which is good. If you catch it earlier, you won’t be at that point. And you can go and get some labs tests. There are some labs done to get tested and, to consider that. 

Doug: Absolutely. And thank you so much for sharing that and shifting gears a little bit. When you were talking earlier, you mentioned mood disorders and how that can affect our health.

I’d love to know, I’d really love to just open the floor to you to ask how do mood disorders impact our gut health, the microbiome and everything, and how can we reverse that process with our nutrition? 

Natalie: [00:19:00] Yeah, that’s a great question. So there have been studies done particularly on the HPA axis. So the stress response axis, and I think this is where hypnosis and nutrition can combine, you know, I, send a lot of my clients to find some sort of manner or practice or something for them to do so that they can get their body into the parasympathetic state, because there are studies that show that, when we are in a stressed state, through the vagal nerve that connects the brain to the gut, there has an impact on the types of bacteria that are present.

And so people who have dysregulation of the more stress in their life that they will have, an imbalance of gut bacteria. And also it’s a two-way street because the gut bacteria is actually a major source of happy feel good chemicals for our brain. So things like serotonin, dopamine, those are the main two, but GABA, norepinephrine and these other, feel good chemicals are produced from our gut bacteria, [00:20:00] as well as our B vitamins, which help us have energy.

 A lot of people think that we eat our food and it’s got nutrition in it. And we absorb that. But what’s actually going on is that we eat food and then our gut bacteria eat that food and we actually absorb the nutrients that are coming from basically the probiotic poop, if you want to simplify it, and it’s, the probiotics that really are, we are in a deep, deep debt to our probiotics.

Natalie: And so we have to treat them very kindly. And unfortunately, a lot of processed foods, a lot of antibiotic use a lot of stress, you know, lots of different avenues in our modern life will negatively impact those, healthy gut bugs. 

If your listeners don’t know, the microbiome is just a term that describes the vast diversity of species that exist inside of your gastrointestinal tract. So primarily most of those species, they aren’t just bacteria. There’s viruses there, there’s parasites there, there’s [00:21:00] other protozoa, there’s all different kinds of species that exist in this microbiome.

And they are all there for a reason. So sometimes what happens is when we get an imbalance of gut bacteria, we’ve got the good guys and we’ve got the pathogens that we definitely don’t want. 

And we would know if we had a pathogenic bacteria because we’d be in the hospital.

Natalie: Okay. but then there’s the opportunistic bacteria though. The opportunistic bacteria often get a bad rep because they’re considered the bad guys, but they’re only bad when there’s not enough good guys, because in the realm of the gut and the microbiome, the good bacteria always win.

So it’s kind of mythological in that way, where good always wins. You just need enough of them. And most people that I work with with chronic illness, and most people in the United States actually I’d say because of the stressors on us, our microbiomes are really lacking in the good guys. So, yeah.

Doug: Yeah. There’s so many things that I’d love to unpack. First, you mentioned the vagal nerve and [00:22:00] that is something that’s working with anxiety. Before I really specialize in what I do now, I did a lot of work with anxiety and there were a lot of breath work techniques that use that vegal parasympathetic groundwork to lower your stress.

I’m curious, what actually happens in the body at the chemical level when we are stressed, when we get that signal from that vagal nerve down to our gut? 

Natalie: Well, so cortisol is response is part of the problem. So cortisol is naturally in a healthy individual. We want to have a cortisol spike in the morning to wake us up, and we might have some stressors throughout the day, but we wouldn’t want to see too much of a spike because it’s natural for cortisol to actually come down towards evening.

And then we would go to bed. And when cortisol is high in the blood, that actually has a huge impact on so many other hormones. Cortisol tells the body it’s catabolic. So it’s a catabolic state we want to mobilize. So we want to break things down and start to potentially even break [00:23:00] muscles down, tissue down, so that we can use that for energy and to protect ourselves potentially. When cortisol is high, it’s an antagonist to a hormone called insulin.

And I see insulin resistance all the time, primarily because of cortisol issue. Insulin is a hormone that takes glucose to the cells and it’s kind of like the key to bring glucose out of the blood and into the cell. So it’s also helping supply energy. However, insulin also is a fat storing hormone.

It actually tells the body we need to store fat. And so that’s a huge issue for people with weight imbalances. And it’s really more of a hormonal issue there. So that’s all happening in our bloodstream. And unfortunately, a lot of the metabolites of these hormones get processed in the liver and then they get dumped into the bile.

And, I want to say actually it’s hard to say we don’t really know. What’s actually happening to the gut bacteria there at the moment, we do know that there are signals that [00:24:00] are little messengers like viral messengers that are sent from one bacteria to another and from the cells of our intestinal wall to bacteria.

So just with that, if there’s any impact on those cells of the tissue of the intestine, the wall, that is more in this catabolic state that that’s going to impact absorption, it’s going to impact, you know, whenever you’re in a stress state, if you’re about to run away from a tiger, you’re not thinking about food, you are not going to be trying to nourish yourselves.

You’re just trying to get out of there. So, I hope that’s a simplistic way to understand that impact of all these different hormones causing the cell on a very basic level. We have one single cell layer of our intestinal wall between us and the outside world. And when that starts to get damaged, then that can allow for a lot of other stressors invaders to come into the bloodstream.

Doug: Wow. 

Natalie: Yeah. 

Doug: Yeah. And this is just to me, so [00:25:00] fascinating. I remember when I first learned the concept of the microbiome, someone was telling me all these amazing facts, like there are supposedly more organisms that are on us than there are actually cells in our body. And as you said, they’re communicating with each other.

And I think it’s so fascinating how the microbiome has in a way kind of evolved with humans. And I’d love to just open the floor and ask you if you have any fascinating topics about the microbiome that really just blow your mind as well. 

Natalie: Yeah. So, well, that one that you mentioned, the fact that we have more bacterial cells than we have human cells. We’re actually made up of that’s if we want to say, what’s a human, it’s a really hard to say, actually we are very much bacteria. And also, there’s a lot of talk on the new studies that have come out on the microbiome and the studies that are assessing microbial diversity within the microbiome.

So how much different types of bacteria there are. It’s amazing [00:26:00] research, we have to look into those studies and there’s nothing wrong with it, but what’s amazing to me is that we still only know about 50% of the types of protozoa bacteria that exists in the microbiome.

And then the amazing thing too, is that each and every person’s microbiome is like a thumbprint. So it’s very, very different. It’s hard to say when we’re looking at stool test. So I rarely look at stool. Well, I’ve looked at stool tests quite a bit. And what I’ve started to realize is that they’re not always necessary because what we know up until this point is very little about these different families of bacteria than the species. And what we’ve found is that some bacteria in one person’s body will have the same function. So it’ll create the same amount or types of B vitamins or something like that, or other nutrients that are absorbed by the intestines, as another group of species.

So we can’t just say everyone needs this type of bacteria, right? Because that might not actually work for another person. 

Doug: That is [00:27:00] so interesting. don’t know if it was you I was talking to about the gut being the second brain or the original brain, but that reminds me of the idea of our brain, of neuroplasticity, of when we have like a brain injury. Other parts of the brain tend to take over that role. And that is absolutely fascinating. Do you have anything to share about that? 

Natalie: Yeah, I mean, a big part of that is when I’m working with someone to reverse or change the microbiome, so we call it a microbiome shifting diet. In order to get that diversity, we have to first go in and weed a little bit.

So it’s very, very similar to what I was talking about earlier at the beginning of the podcast that I think of the microbiome like a garden or its own ecosystem, and if we have a bunch of plants, a lot of different opportunistic overgrowth of different types of bacteria there that are causing us problems.

If we just try to throw some probiotics in there or probiotic foods, yeah, that might help a little bit, but there’s not a lot of places for them to go and stick, you know, for them to come and [00:28:00] reside and take hold there. So we have to weed. So weeding involves starving out these opportunistic bacteria and opportunistic bacteria can only survive on sugar and starch.

So sugar, refined sugars particularly. So refined sugar is arguably never a good, beneficial thing for anyone’s nutrition. Starches however, I get a lot of pushback on because people especially now, with all the new nutrition research out there, there’s so many benefits to sweet potato and cassava flour, banana starch, green banana flour, things like that.

And there’s nothing wrong with those foods for a healthy gut microbiome, if they eat those healthy starches, they are for sure there’s nothing wrong. There’s nothing inherently wrong with starch, right? it’s going to go in to that person’s gut and, feed all of the good bacteria that are there as well as, you know, everything’s just in balance.

So what it does is it produces all these beneficial nutrients for us, the [00:29:00] neurotransmitters, the feel-good chemicals and the vitamins, the fat-soluble vitamins, like vitamin K and helps us detox our hormones too. So that’s part of the cortisol issue and insulin issue. So basically that’s what happens with starch.

So part of the process of kind of getting back into balance with microbiome shifting diet is avoiding the starches for up to two years, actually. So two years is the longest that we know that some of these opportunistic bacteria will live. And without food, right? So they’ll hold out for as long as they can and so many people will see benefits throughout that two year process.

So it’s not like people I work with are just on good faith, hoping that this will work. They can start to see benefits. And so it gives people a real, sense of ownership and just so much empowerment over it’s not a lot of people with weight issues as well. They have no willpower that they just can’t stick to it.

And a lot of it is, you know, changing the thought processes and really externalizing the problem. The problem is not [00:30:00] them. The problem is the gut bacteria often and sometimes it’s other issues, you know, psychological things that influence our behaviors, but it’s so cool to see so many people and I’ve experienced this myself that you become a new person because as you’re shifting that microbiome, you’re creating new cells and new you and yeah.

Anyways, I don’t know what question you asked, but that was the answer. 

Doug: Yeah, that was fascinating. To me, correct me if this isn’t quite correct, but it kind of sounds like the microbiome is like an evolutionary nets where every bacteria is filling a niche and one person, it might be bacteria A, another, it might be bacteria C or whatever. But until you remove that whatever’s holding that space in the garden metaphor taking on that weed, nothing can, you know, come in and take that space. You’ve got to remove it first. Is that kind of correct? 

Natalie: Yes. And it reminds me of where I was going with that. So the evolution of the microbiome during that process, the beautiful thing is the good bacteria, they will feed on [00:31:00] starch and sugar as well, but they really actually thrive also during that whole process on fats and protein.

And that doesn’t get talked about enough I think. That in the gut world, there’s a lot of fear of fat even I often see that there’s a real need for healthy fats and nourishing fats that they’re the building blocks of our immune system, our nervous system and our hormonal systems.

So yeah, there’s so much evolution there with these species. They can thrive on a lot of different food sources. So that’s really cool. 

Doug: That’s fantastic. And I really appreciate that you bring up the idea of fats, that they’re not a bad thing. We hear so much about, you know, trans fat, saturated fat, it seems that it’s all just whitewashed as like fat is bad. Really when I grew up, I had this idea that any fat that I ate would directly turn into fat on my body. And I’m wondering if that’s something you’re running into a lot in your practice as well? 

Natalie: Yes. Yes, for sure. So it’s a common misconception. There’s another great book that we can link to that’s called, uh, shoot. It was just there, but, we’ll link to it. [00:32:00] But it’s the big fat surprise I think, is the name. And really gets into some of the storyline there. The narrative that has really seeped into so many people’s lives and brains and spurred this fear of fat.

And the truth is metabolically speaking, when I studied anatomy of what happens actually in the body when you eat a carbohydrate, a protein or a fat. The only way that your body will make fat or store fat is if you have too many carbohydrates. So carbohydrates get stored into triglycerides. Triglycerides, meaning three, you know, Gliss is the latin word for glucose, you know, and those are the building blocks of fat, so when I was learning all this and coming to terms with the fact that this was a theory that was never really proven. And that fat does not actually make us fat. If you eat a lot of fat and you eat a lot of carbs, you will get fat.

You know, we can definitely overeat, but people tend to more overeat carbohydrates than overeating fat. Your [00:33:00] body will not let you overeat just pure fats, is what I’ve found in my practice and then in my own experience. And so I have to also help coach people around cholesterol.

Because cholesterol is a part of kinda got wrapped up in that too with heart disease and the concern for that, and from my understanding of the research and the studying that I’ve done and other medical doctors are actually now coming out, but it’s still hush, hush. I mean, for one in 2015, I believe the USDA finally said, this is the USDA.

They said that cholesterol was no longer a nutrient of concern. So that means dietary cholesterol that you would eat, you don’t need to worry about it. It’s actually beneficial is what they found. So cholesterol that we eat from eggs or other foods, meats, olives even have some cholesterol in them.

That form of cholesterol is actually going to increase your good cholesterol, your high density lipids, so it’s the HDL. And then the real issue with cholesterol is that it’s there [00:34:00] for a reason. Again, it’s the body’s way of healing. And just because a firefighter shows up at the, you know, at a fire, the house is on fire.

Did the firefighters start the fire? We wouldn’t say that. 

Doug: Yeah. 

Natalie: Right? We know that There’s a real reason why the firefighter is there. So that’s, what’s going on with cholesterol. And also cholesterol, cause I work with a lot of women and we need cholesterol so much. I mean, men do too for our sex hormones. Every sex hormone is made from cholesterol.

There’s studies of people who, they can develop more issues, especially like things like neurological issues particularly when you have too little cholesterol. And you can also develop, other metabolic syndrome issues with too little of cholesterol.

Natalie: So we really need good amounts of cholesterol, especially to heal, because it’s part of the immune system as well. 

Doug: That is fascinating. 

Natalie: Yeah. 

Doug: Shifting gears a little bit, we were talking about how people typically feed themselves. And, I don’t know if I mentioned this, but the standard [00:35:00] American diet, that idea of carb-heavy because it’s easy to produce, easy to ship and transport.

How do you feel that the standard American diet or the westernized diet that is primarily or heavily reliant on carbs, how do you feel that impacts the gut biome? 

Natalie: Wow. So I think that’s having a huge impact on the gut microbiome. So basically, too many carbohydrates. So when primarily, especially if they’re refined, there’s lots of studies that show that the refined carbohydrates directly feed those opportunistic bacteria.

So people who are eating more of a sad diet and less whole foods, whole vegetables and there’s some controversy around the fiber talk of how fiber is so beneficial for the gut microbiome. It’s not necessarily fiber that’s the roughage fiber, it’s more of the insoluble fiber.

Sorry, not insoluble, soluble fiber is the most important part that’s healthy for the gut microbiome. So soluble fiber is found in things like onions, and carrots and some of the mushrooms that we were talking about earlier have [00:36:00] some of the soluble fiber. So those whole foods will feed the good bacteria, whereas the refined carbohydrates will feed the imbalanced and opportunistic bacteria. 

Doug: That’s so important. And you had mentioned that it might take up to two years to starve out these bacteria. How long does it take to notice changes in your microbiome as you start this biome shifting diet?

Natalie: Yeah. Well actually it only takes about three days to see a real shift, I would say. So, every single thing that we eat has an impact on the gut microbiome. So it’s really hard, I get a lot of people who say, oh, I eat paleo for six days of the week. And I don’t need starch during that time.

And then on Sunday, I have a binge day or something like that, or a cheat day. And for that person, if they do that for a whole year, they’ve only been on a microbiome shifting diet for six days. And so even if you ate a small bite of that and swallowed it, you know, of some sort of rice or [00:37:00] something like that, while you’re trying to shift the microbiome, if it’s introduced too soon, you’ve automatically fed some of those bacteria that are still present.

But what’s amazing is, I see people feel, wildly better. So some of their symptoms improve within three days, right? So three days or, usually at the month mark, they’re feeling pretty good. So at that month mark, they’ve already killed off the bacteria that would have died within those three weeks or four weeks that they’ve been doing that.

And so that’s wonderful. So if some people only need to do potentially, if you’re not that ill, if you don’t have an autoimmune disease, something like that, you might not need to do a microbiome shifting diet for two years, because you might not have those bacteria that are really overgrown for that long.

And your symptoms might resolve at three months or six months. And at that point, it’s best to make sure that you’re not going to regress in any symptoms when you add things back in, but it’s all a trial and error. It’s kind of like an elimination diet in a way, but it’s purposeful.

We’re [00:38:00] not doing the elimination to see if you’re sensitive to a food. You’re doing the elimination to allow for healing of the gut microbiome. And you we’re very purposely choosing specific foods that are going to be a real addition to that healing process. 

Doug: Ah, that is fascinating.

Thank you so much for sharing that. And looking at that and talking about how long it actually takes to change, what does your process look like for working with clients? 

Natalie: Yeah. Well, I have my initial intake. So in that initial intake, we’ll go over the history. We’ll talk about the really pertinent education that they might need.

And then at the end of that appointment, if we have time or the next appointment, I present the recommendations I would have in what I think is going on any nutritional deficiencies that we want. I sometimes do testing, but usually that’s later on, because I find so much that, can be resolved within just the diet. However, if I do suspect some sort of toxicity issue such as heavy metals or something like that, I might do some testing. And then I often, you know, in my [00:39:00] consultations, it’s really just helping people with the applications of the recommendations and really supporting them in the lifestyle. So some of the lifestyle shifts and changes are even more important to help shift the microbiome than the foods. Well, definitely not more important, but just as important. So for example, there are certain things like getting in doing hot and cold showers, things like that or doing a cold plunge.

The cold plunge effect on the microbiome is incredible. It boosts the microbial diversity that we’re looking for. And it helps also change some of the bacteria in the gut will change forms. Okay. So they’ll change into a more pathogenic form, when we are in a state of inflammation.

Doing activities or change the diet, that can actually change those bacteria back into a non-pathogenic state. A lot of the time, clients will only need to see me more frequently initially. So I meet with people every week, like once a week for a month per se. And then after that, we’ll [00:40:00] see each other every couple of weeks.

And then once a month after that, and usually I’ll see people for throughout that two year period. But it’s as needed more towards the end because people are, it gets easier as you go along. I did want to ask, you mentioned a couple of times, your work with heavy metals and I am completely unversed with that. Would you tell us the basics of it? 

Yes. So heavy metals is a very controversial topic in the health and wellness field. Unfortunately, metal toxicity never used to be as big of an issue. And that’s primarily because most people’s bodies would be able to deal with those toxins on their own.

And just doing a microbiome shifting diet usually would do the trick. or, just cleaning up the diet a little bit, maybe would even help alleviate the stresses on the liver. And now we’re seeing, because my theory is because there’s literally just thousands of different types of chemicals, not just heavy metals, which are not necessarily chemicals, but a toxin and high amounts that we are exposed to every day. [00:41:00] Not to mention, just our clothing, you know, polyester is basically plastic and all of those little fibers, they break off and over time and we end up breathing those.

And so we are exposed to a lot of toxins in our modern world. There’s over 80,000 chemicals in circulation in the United States and FDA has only banned maybe a couple hundred of them. Whereas in the UK they’ve banned several thousands.

So I mean, a lot of people go to Europe and they say, oh, I felt so much healthier there. I lost weight. A lot of these chemicals are obesogens that we’re exposed to on a daily basis. So they impact our hormone pathways and affect our gut microbiome. So, uh, Give me back on track there. I lost my train of thought.

Um, what was the question again? 

Doug: Oh, I was just asking about heavy metals and how they impact our health? 

Natalie: Yes. So, to really how to deal with the heavy metals is if it’s not an issue, we don’t need to because the body will take care of it by itself. [00:42:00] So later on in the healing process, it can be an issue because say you are dealing with, you know, weight loss and we’ve gone really far, you’ve hit all your goals until you’re 20 pounds away and you just have been stagnant for six months or more. And you’ve been doing everything correctly, you’re still following everything. So at that point, if you get stuck in your care, it might be worthwhile to check toxins and you can do a hair mineral analysis to check with the heavy metals, or you can also do hair as well as urine and blood. And that’s a good way to do.

It’s hard to actually test for metal toxicity because in the blood it’s rare to show up unless it’s immediate. So say I was exposed to mercury just now, then I tested my blood. It would be in my blood, but oftentimes if it’s been chronic, so if you’ve had heavy metal fillings, amalgams, and then it’s slowly leeching into your bloodstream and over time it would show up in your hair follicles. There are other signs and symptoms that would present.

And then in your [00:43:00] urine, potentially, it might be there too so we would test for it. The whole controversy I think, is more so around how to get rid of them. So some people are heavy in to like IV chelation. There’s different herbs like cilantro that is known to be a chelator.

And for some heavy metals, it just depends on the type that might be safe, and depending on your constitution if you’re a sensitive constitution, someone who’s really just, been more prone to react to different medications or supplements in the past. It’d be more wise to go a safer route with a chelator that has no impact of free radical damage afterwards. So, yeah. 

Doug: Thank you so much for sharing that. And I think that’s such a great point for listeners that if you’re doing supposedly all the right things and your health is just not changing, this might be a really important thing to check out. And I really encourage you to check out Natalie’s work for that.

And shifting gears a bit, Natalie, just to touch on a very briefly, you mentioned, cold showers and I’ve heard of everything all the way to the Wim Hof method, where you are doing deep breathing and taking ice plunges. [00:44:00] What do you recommend and what’s the right balance of that? 

Natalie: Yeah. So some of my clients might think I’m kind of harsh depends on your condition, but sometimes I don’t let. If my histamine clients initially they are too high in histamine, then they absolutely can’t tolerate heat. And because the heat is going to produce a lot of sweating in the histamine response.

And so it’s really advantageous for them to do cold showers every day. Absolutely no hot showers. And, there’s also some studies that show that cold showers are more beneficial for insulin sensitivity. So anyone with diabetes or blood sugar issues, if you get hypoglycemia or something like that, they would definitely benefit from the cold shower.

So easing into it is a good idea. I wouldn’t recommend anyone to just jump into ice cold river. The VIM Hof method, I think is incredible. the breathing techniques are very, useful for getting into it. And I would say quite necessary. I think it could be a little unproductive, I guess, if you were just really stressed and [00:45:00] you’re tight and you’re not breathing fully, and you’re trying to just get into the coldest of cold, just for the ego boost or something like that.

We all have done it I think, you know, I dare you to jump into that cold river or something like that. So we all do it and I’m sure it’s not hurting, but if you’re gonna do it as a therapeutic way, it’s really nice to do in conjunction with the breathing techniques, because I’ve started to do this.

I learned this from Mary Ruddick actually. I’ve traveled a lot. If you travel a lot or you backpack or you’ve been in cold water naturally, it’s so pleasant, you’re in this beautiful environment. Maybe you’re in a tropical you know, waterfall and it’s just rushing and it’s ice cold and it’s just refreshing.

And so just imagining that alone, while you’re getting into your shower and making sure you have warm clothes afterwards, or if you need to, do an Epsom salt bath afterwards to just chill out, that’s also fine too depending on what you got going on. But cold therapy is incredible.

As humans we tend to really just move towards comfort. [00:46:00] And the truth is that healing with nutrition and through natural ways, we have to move, start to move towards discomfort. And it’s the hard things that are needing to be done usually that are the key for success.

Doug: I couldn’t agree more both nutrition and our body and just our psyche and our mental health. 

Natalie: Yeah. 

Doug: Absolutely. And, touching on that, I think it’s so revealing how we think that, jumping into a cold shower is such a drastic thing. You know, the first couple seconds are terrible, but after that, it’s so refreshing.

And this reminds me of an interesting story. When I was first experimenting with cold therapy, I was in New Hampshire in the middle of the winter in the white mountains. Very cold place. I went a little too far, you know, I was a young man with a little bit of an ego and I did a cold plunge in an ice river and it was great until I almost got hypothermia and couldn’t get out.

So that’s the warning to just, you know, if you take this advice to do it carefully. And shifting gears a little bit, I did read on your blog doing some research that in your past, due to complications, you became an accidental vegan, but eventually transitioned to a [00:47:00] more omnivorous diet.

Would you mind sharing a little bit of that journey as well as what it taught you? 

Natalie: Yes. Yes. I’m really passionate about this because, when I’ve come a long way, I think most people these days get into their healthy eating journey through the vegan diet or a vegetarian lifestyle or diet.

And it can be really great for that reason. It was when I was in college and I was diagnosed with some food intolerances that were two eggs and dairy and gluten. And so before the food intolerances, before I knew about those, I had decided to go vegetarian. And that was more so for environmental reasons, because I really didn’t want to contribute to you know, Harris, ranch, like conglomerate feedlots.

And I felt really poorly about that effect on the environment. And we hear this all the time now. It’s funny that I was going through that way before anyone else’s thinking about the environment and people just call me a hippie. And now it’s a very much a part of the liberal narrative, right?

That if you care about the environment you go vegan [00:48:00] or vegetarian. And everyone has to go on their own journey. The problem with it is that for me, if you have the microbiome issues, if you have the insulin resistance like I did, I was pre-diabetic and I didn’t know it until later that all of the protein sources from a vegetarian or vegan diet are going to be grains and lagoons. And these have protein and some healthy individuals might be able to create the proper amino acid profile from eating two different types of grains or legumes. And the truth is most people don’t do that.

And so it can create a lot of deficiencies of protein and amino acids that are our building blocks to our neuro-transmitters like our feel good chemicals as well as every cell in our body needs protein. And so eating that way, I was vegetarian, but accidentally was vegan because I couldn’t have eggs or dairy.

And so I started to eat this way for the environment. And those plant proteins are very high in [00:49:00] carbohydrates just naturally because, that’s what they are, you know, beans have a lot of carbohydrates. So if you were to eat the same amount of protein that you would need from maybe an average serving size of salmon or steak even, that you would need to eat a lot of beans, right? To equate to the same protein amount there. The other issue is that since working with Mary Ruddick when we work with clients, we’re really big on plant toxins.

So plant toxins aren’t talked about enough and plants are just deemed this holy moral food substance. But if you have any kind of connection to the natural world, if you go out into the woods, you know that you can’t just eat any plants in the woods. Most of them might make you sick.

I mean, granted humans are omnivorous and we’ve adapted and learned to eat a number of so many different types of foods, right. And that’s, to our advantage. However, there comes a cost. I utilize an ancestral perspective with this now that I’ve come from my vegan ways and feeling, you [00:50:00] know, at first, a lot of my symptoms actually resolved on the vegan diet when I removed my food sensitivities, but then I started to have so much hormone imbalances because I didn’t have enough fat and fat-soluble vitamins for production of those hormones. And I wasn’t getting enough protein in general. So I was anxious. So anxious, constantly thinking about food. And I, know a lot of people like that, who are vegan or vegetarian in it. They’re snacking all the time and that can lead to a lot of problems with the gut microbiome and your blood sugar.

But I come to this point of looking at what we eat as a species, as a human, from an ancestral perspective. So basically for example, people who were hunter and gatherers, if you’re living in an area or a region for year round locally, you would be limited to certain plants and foods for a short period of time during the year.

And then the rest of the year, you would probably need to be hunting and gathering, other types of hardy foods. So Mary Reddick, who I work with, [00:51:00] she is actually currently traveling the world, studying indigenous groups that are still eating their native, diet and studying their health and their diet.

And, really trying to make sense of some of the reasons why people are getting more sick eating, too many plants. And some people can get really sick eating too many plants, which a big reason is because of plant toxins. 

Doug: That is so important to know because so many of us, we hear like the one diet or the moral stance on our food and we think this is it, but, someone might lose weight or someone might be healthy on keto or veganism or anything else. And it might not work for another person. And I think it really comes back to that individuality of the microbiome. And I think it’s a really interesting point to remember that for so many of us, at least in the west, the one measure of our health that we actually use daily is whether or not we’re gaining or losing weight when there’s so much more that’s going into it than that.

Natalie: Yes. Yeah, for sure. Most of the time people are changing nutrition for their appearance and that’s the truth of it. You know, we’re [00:52:00] more motivated that way. However, I think a lot of people are starting to notice that if they’re not feeling very good, that they’re not able to do the things that they want to do with the vitality that they used to do it with, that’s actually the most important.

And it can play huge role with women. I see a lot of women having issues with fertility and things like that on being previously vegan or vegetarian. Not all, and depends on your nutrient stores, but all of the indigenous groups and tribes that I’ve studied from Dr. Weston A. Price, his research from the early 1900s, he did a similar thing. He studied indigenous groups and he found that all of the pregnant women, there would be given the most nutrient dense parts of the animal. And those were the most nutrient dense parts of the food that everyone ate.

And so that would be like the Oregons or fish eggs or all the really nutrient densed meat surprisingly. And so, I think I’m really passionate about it because there’s also a real way to be conscientious of the [00:53:00] environment and eat meat. And it’s actually necessary I think for the planet, for us to rebuild soil, we need animal input, and we can put our money towards farms that are doing that. So that’s what I choose to do. 

Doug: Absolutely. And looking at the time, I’ve got just a couple more questions to kind of wrap things up, if you’ve got the time. 

Natalie: Yes.

Doug: Perfect. So looking at the outline of the microbiome, all that I really know is that, you know, supposedly eating yogurt and kefir and kombucha is supposed to help. Would you give our listeners some actionable tips that they can actually use at home to perhaps, tweak their microbiome?

Natalie: Yeah. Yeah, definitely. So I’ve been one to talk on all of my podcasts that I’ve been on so far, a lot on the fermented foods. So fermented foods are wonderful nutrient to add into your diet and for a healthy individual, you shouldn’t have very many issues there. When I actually work with clients now, in the beginning phase, because of the weeding of the garden, we might not use fermented foods [00:54:00] until three months in or something like that. But it’s really fun to get into yogurt and Keefer.

Keefer is one of my favorites, also kimchi and sauerkraut. You can start to bring those foods into your diet now, and it’s fun to make them yourself. It’s a great way to get connected to your food. So you can start that now, and then you can also start to reduce your intake of the processed refined foods or cut it out completely, knowing very well that you will have dreams about the food and the sugar and things like that. And that is just the bacteria leaving your body.

And they’re just, their last cry to be fed basically. And so it’s very real when people do sugar cleanses or things like that, they often have dreams about foods that they don’t even normally eat but are sugary. And another great thing that you can start doing now is focusing on what to eat instead of what not to eat.

That’s a drill trademark for me. It helps the mental aspect, especially with a lot of people like me who [00:55:00] have a history of disordered eating, you know, when we get specific on instead of just eating because we are craving this or we don’t have much time so I’m just going to grab this on the go.

When we start to sit down and get really intentional about crafting our meal for the nutrients that are in it, it really goes a long way. A much longer way because we’re thinking more in positives instead of negatives. So I have a list, actually, another action step that they can do.

I have a food list for someone who wants to get started, they can go onto my website and download that for free and they can start focusing on those foods that are really going to help them heal. 

Doug: That’s excellent. And thank you so much for sharing that. Those links will be in the description. And I think it’s such an important point that you mentioned, you know, adding things rather than taking them away. As someone who works with psychology, when we take things away, our mind feels that we are even being punished, or we are in that restrictive phase when we cannot have this, rather when we look at it, you know, I choose to eat less of this and I choose to eat more of this instead, it’s adding things, it’s having that positive spin on it. It might [00:56:00] sound kind of like fluffy you know, positive psychology, but it actually works at that base level. 

Natalie: It really does. Yeah. I’ve seen it over and over again. 

Doug: Yeah, absolutely. And you mentioned the list on your website. First of all, where can people find you and what are perhaps any other resources that they can find as well?

Natalie: Yeah, so people can find me on my website, which is nutritionwithconfidence.com. On that, there’s lots of blog, articles and a free food list for you. I also have a link for people to go to something called captain soup, which is where they can purchase pre-made healthy gut healing soups for them to get started on cause soups and cooked foods are really easy on the digestive system.

So anyone with digestive issues, that’s a great place for them to go and get. And then, I will be coming out with my autoimmune recovery with confidence online course soon. And so they can get on my wait list for that online course on my website as well. And then I’m on Instagram, @nutritionwithconfidence and they can schedule with me through my [00:57:00] website.

It’ll just take them straight to enableyourhealing.com/schedule, and they can learn more about me there on Mary Ruddick’s website as well. 

Doug: Perfect. Yes. Thank you so much. And finally, Natalie, do you have any parting wisdom or thoughts that you’d like to leave listeners with? 

Natalie: So, I think I’ve mentioned this. We’ve collaborated a little bit before so it’s on some of my flyers and things like that. But really, my goal for everyone is to really empower you in your body’s ability to heal itself.

So really building your own confidence in your own understandings of your body and reconnecting that, and it takes so much courage and persistence in this modern context to do such a thing. It’s not for the light hearted and what is so amazing about it is the real sense of pride and, kind of heroness that people start to take on in their personality when they can start to take control of their own health and future.

Doug: Yes, absolutely. Thank you so much for joining us.[00:58:00] 

Natalie: Awesome. Thank you so much, Doug. (Outro) 

Doug: Wow, what an amazing conversation. I absolutely love this. I really encourage you to check out Natalie’s work. She is the real deal. Throughout this process, natalie was constantly bringing up research studies and other scientific works that she has done extensive research and extensive study on, to really know the issues that she works with.

 And if anything, from this interview struck a chord with you, I really encourage you to go find her work. Remember all of the links will be in the show notes or in the description, if you’re watching this on YouTube.

Doug: And if you gained a nugget of wisdom from this video or this podcast, I encourage you to subscribe. Click the plus button on whatever podcasting app you’re listening to.

Or click that subscribe button on YouTube, because there’s a lot of great information coming down the pipeline for you. And while you’re there on that podcasting app, maybe on apple podcasts or another, I encourage you to review it, especially if you’re on apple podcasts. Natalie and I put in our time to bring this fascinating information [00:59:00] to you.

And I ask that you put in a couple moments of your time to help others find this fantastic information. I cannot stress just how important this is, because it really helps people just like you to find this information on apple podcasts and so many other directories. Please put in a few moments just to help us out, even if it’s just a one-word five star review on Apple podcasts, that would be perfect. Again, my name is Doug Sands and I help compulsive and emotional eaters to end the obsession with food and make peace with it. Often in as little as two sessions. Thank you so much for joining me for this podcast. And I look forward to seeing you in the next one.



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