29 Sep Why Intermittent Fasting Works | Dr. Amy Shah
We often forget that our gut, hormone and immune health are all connected. This fact is especially important for women to grasp, since women’s health is sometimes more complicated. When it comes to intermittent fasting, what makes it work and how can everyone, but especially women, benefit from it?
WELCOME TO THE DARIN OLIEN SHOW
Dr. Amy Shah is a mind-body practitioner focused on balanced health.
With both nutrition and medical training, Dr. Amy Shah takes a different approach than most medical professionals. Amy graduated from the school of Nutrition at Cornell and then went on to Einstein for medical school. Her research and immunology training eventually took her to both Harvard and Columbia hospitals. There, Dr. Shah was able to hone her unique skills as a mind-body practitioner.
Dr. Shah has a passion for educating people, especially women, on the complicated systems of the body and how they all work together. She’s especially passionate about intermittent fasting, which is what we spent a majority of our conversation on. Women’s bodies work differently than men. That’s just a fact. And as a woman, it’s easy to become frustrated when fasting doesn’t work the way it did for someone else. In her recent book, I’m So Effing Tired, Amy addresses this as well.
I often have lots of medical experts on my show, most experts in one specific area. Dr. Shaw is an expert in SO many different areas, which is so refreshing. Yes, we focused on intermittent fasting. But we also got into hormones, nutrition, how your circadian rhythm affects every cell in your body and so on and so on. So much great stuff in this episode, and Dr. Shah has such a wealth of knowledge and experience. I can’t wait for you to hear it.
ALSO IN THIS EPISODE:
- [00:06:15] Dr. Shaw’s origin story
- [00:12:56] The 3 things making you feel crappy
- [00:22:22] The role of natural light and meal times
- [00:30:44] Women and intermittent fasting
- [00:44:25] Foods to avoid
Follow Dr. Shah on Instagram – @fastingmd
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Darin: You are listening to the Darin Olien Show. I’m Darin. I spent the last 20 years devoted to improving health, protecting the environment, and finding ways to live a more sustainable life. In this podcast, I have honest conversations with people that inspire me. I hope that through their knowledge and unique perspectives they’ll inspire you too. We talk about all kinds of topics, from amping up your diets to improving your well-being to the mind-blowing stories behind the human experience and the people that are striving to save us and our incredible planet. We even investigate some of life’s fatal conveniences, those things that we are told might be good for us but totally aren’t. So here’s to making better choices in the small tweaks in your life that amount to big changes for you and the people around you and the planet. Let’s do this. This is my show, the Darin Olien Show.
Darin: Hey, everybody, welcome to the show. This is Darin Olien. This is The Darin Olien Show. I am very excited for my next guest. I’m so effing tired. That’s right. I’m So Effing Tired, that’s the name of Dr. Amy Shaw’s new book, a proven plan to beat burnout, boost your energy and reclaim your life. I had such a great time talking with Dr. Amy Shaw. She has both nutrition training in a big way and medical training. She graduated from the a renowned school of nutrition at Cornell and went on to the Einstein School for medicine. She was researching internal medicine, allergy, and immunology. All this training took her to Harvard then Columbia hospitals. She discovered her unique skills as a mind-body practitioner, incredible. Look at this wide variety of training she’s had, which is what we need, man. You can’t just look at this allopathic linear reductionism. She literally studied the mind-body, nutrition, medicine, all of it. She’s been on hundreds of podcasts, but she’s really focused not only with writing the book, she created a coconut milk-based chai latte, yum, which includes unique herb concoctions, organic ashwagandha, one of my favorite adaptogens, B vitamins, vitamin D, all of these things. So she’s not only been a physician educator in many of these things creating a bridge for some of the medical doctors that want to learn more, she spent time as a clinician, a health entrepreneur, and a women’s health advocate. You’re going to get a lot out of this as well. But we got into hormones we got into how important it is in looking at fasting, intermittent fasting, all of that stuff as it relates especially women just a little different. There are some ups and downs as it relates to hormones that are different than men. So you have to look at this stuff as an individual and as a woman versus a man. Men, we don’t even really fine tune stuff. We just kind of grit our teeth, white-knuckle ourselves into fasting and things like that, I’ve done that myself, and then we can kind of burn ourselves out in a different way. So this was a magnificent, enlightening conversation from a medically trained, Cornell trained in nutrition, mind-body, clinical researcher, extraordinary woman, leading the march to filling the gaps of what sometimes women are missing in this nutritional world. So kick back, relax, or get motivated and listen to my incredible guest, Dr. Amy Shaw.
Darin: I love your background. You studied at Cornell, certified MD nutrition-based, I’m So Effing Tired, best title of a book ever. And you’re really going after some of the biggest issues that a lot of people and females are suffering from. And I really applaud you for that. So going into your medical training, tell me about that story, and then tell me when you went into the nutritional side or was it all part of the plan?
Dr. Amy: So there is a problem in our society of focusing too much on the end-stage care. And it’s important, but it’s not the only thing. And I knew that from the beginning because my family, unfortunately or fortunately, emigrated from India. And very shortly thereafter, every single one of my family members that were 30 years old and up were diagnosed with type two diabetes, one after the other, and the only thing that had changed was their diet and lifestyle and location. And that made me wonder very early in life how much of this is really diet and the way we live. And that’s why I went into nutrition thinking that after nutrition, I could apply this to people in medicine. However, after I got out of all these literally 22 years of training, and I’m so proud, I did tons of research, and I was able to learn so many things about the immune system and gut health that I use all the time now. But when I went out into practice, I thought, okay, this is finally the day that I get to help people with these problems, and maybe prevent somebody from getting diabetes or heart disease like my family and my dad did. But when I entered the system, the first day, I was given a panel of like 20 patients that I had to see in that day, and I had slots of 15 to 20 minutes. And all of them have had very specific requests from the doctors, like please prescribe them allergy medications, please check for dah, dah, dah. And this is how our western medicine model works. It works on a very problem-focused system, and also on a system that’s trying to catch the very end-stage people from dying or disease and death. So that’s really important, but I realized within a few weeks of my final destination job, that this was not what I wanted to do my whole life. I love working with patients, but I hate it that I couldn’t really get into as you know, discussion of diet and lifestyle is not something you could do in 5 minutes, 10 minutes, or 15 minutes even. And so I started to think about how I could use my skills and my interests really to help people. And that’s when one day, I was driving home from work and I heard a podcast where Jason Wachob from Mindbodygreen was on the podcast, and this was like 10 years ago now. And he was talking about how Mindbodygreen with a new wellness website, and they were accepting submissions from all kinds of authors. And so I thought, oh my gosh, maybe me as a nutritionist, as a physician, as a unique, as a mom, as a practitioner, I had something to offer. And that was like the light bulb, and that was the calling for me. I was just at the state of burnout and what am I doing with my life, is this my purpose, all those things. And so that kind of gave me the opportunity to be creative, to relay my thoughts, and I started to do it regularly. And that’s literally how I kind of stumbled upon the wellness world because soon Mindbodygreen was insanely popular. And they started to ask me hey, Dr. Shaw, people are asking how to get in touch with you, but there’s no website, there’s no social media. And so that’s when I started that week I looked up how to create a website. I joined social media. And it wasn’t until maybe three years ago where I really dove in deep because I saw the direction of where the world is moving, and I think there needs to be more voices in this arena. And so that’s where I am. I thought I would write a book when I was retiring because that’s what physicians traditional do, they practice for 25 years, and then they write a book. And I thought there was no social media so that wasn’t even in my thoughts. But when I started to use social media, it’s just like a sound off, telling people what I was thinking, what I was learning. And I think because there are not enough voices, it’s stuck a little bit. And so that’s kind of my long-short story.
Darin: Yeah, amazing. The irony, when you hear it so often from so many different angles, but the irony, literally, as a physician, you go through all of these stages, incredible amount of learning, and you’re literally within the first day, the first week, and you can’t actually treat anybody, you can’t actually make them healthier. You’re just kind of plugged into a system of 15 minutes and prescribing, and all that stuff, and the Hippocratic oath and like, do no harm. And it’s like, the system itself drive this point ridiculously down this path but it’s like if you can’t actually treat the whole person, and you can’t actually get to the cornerstone of problems, then it’s not doing the greatest good. And of course, there is that place where acute medicine is necessary when you need that. But in this way, and progressive diabetes, heart disease, you name it, 15 minutes isn’t going to do anything. And so you just was like, that’s it.
Dr. Amy: And I myself, Darin, I was burned out and I was a new mom, my gut health was poor. And I was searching for solutions for myself. And so it was a journey that I was taking by myself because no one had told me how to treat myself when I was so exhausted and had GI issues and what I thought was adrenal fatigue and all those things, that’s not in our training. People say, well, if your lab work is “within normal limits,” he said to me, “You know, you’re getting older, you have children, you have this practice.” And I knew, I was like, I know that’s not the answer. I know that there are things I could be doing, but there was just no direction. And that was kind of an impetus for my book.
Darin: So then you went down these paths that from immune, health, to digestive, and food sensitivities, and hormone health, they’re just all immensely complex and at the same time, they’re all connected. And food sensitivities are going up every year with all the experimentation we’re doing with the food systems and the food that we’re eating, I assume, then you got yourself under control, obviously. And then what was the point where you were like, I can understand and unpack this and then pack this for people to have a better understanding to heal themselves and get themselves back to a somewhat of a homeostasis?
Dr. Amy: Yeah, so when people are feeling “crappy,” so you can’t put your finger on it, or you’re tired, but you’re wired but you’re not yourself, it usually stems from a problem with three things. It’s your gut health, your hormone health, and your immune health. And what I realized is your brain is hearing all of these different communications between your gut bacteria, and all of these systems. So your gut bacteria, the cells that don’t even belong to you, so for people to understand, these are outside bacteria that actually live in your gut. They are doing the work for your immune system. They are signaling, they’re calling them on their walkie talkie and say, hey, I see something foreign. Darin, just ate something that I don’t recognize, and I need your help. And so they call in the troops, and that’s inflammation. And when there’s excess estrogen, or testosterone, or not enough thyroid, the gut bacteria is always trying to regulate things for our body. And so when you think about the fundamental problem that we’re having, it’s that this diet and lifestyle, too, but really diet is killing this connection. The bacteria are dwindling in numbers and not as diverse. So if you think about an army, there are not as many different generals and not as many different soldiers. And so you’re dealing with a very, very thin defense in your gut. And then you wonder why you get food sensitivities, why we get so many GI disorders, why we get inflammatory diseases. I mean, it really stems from the food that we eat.
Darin: So let’s unpack that a little bit because clearly, we’re in this experimentation of creating food. We’re also getting hit with toxins and over medications and stress and all of this stuff, and that’s obviously playing a major role and diversification, obviously, food, and then not as much whole plant foods and fibers and all of that stuff. So what are your keys then? What are you looking at and go absolutely what’s destroying that microbiome more than ever? And what can people do to restore it?
Dr. Amy: So I break it down into three different things that are really happening. It’s what you eat. And essentially, that means fiber is food for your bacteria, spices, healthy fats, not the typical, but vegetable oil. And I really think we went overboard on emphasizing fats and protein in this last few years, like high protein diet or high-fat diet. And really, neither of those are necessary. A high fiber diet is what you should be focusing on to be honest. And then when you do things, when you eat, when you sleep, we run on a 24-hour internal clock called circadian rhythms. And I did not know, I learned about the circadian clock is something that lives in our hypothalamus in our brain. I did not know at that time that there are clocks in every single one of our cells. And now the research shows that these clocks decide what your organs are going to do at what times and when you don’t get input of natural light. And then you get a lot of artificial input of unnatural light, and you sleep and wake at wrong times, and you’re eating all hours of the day. You are shortchanging your health. 80% of our genes work on a circadian on and off pattern. And so when you’re not giving them the right signals, when you’re not giving your body the right signals and confusing your body, you’re gonna end up feeling perpetually jet-lagged. And you know what happens? I’ll tell you what an example of what happened. I used to work overnights during my residency training, and we would be up all night, and then we would work till noon that day, and then we go home. And the way I felt during that time is basically the way a lot of people feel all the time. So it’s like impaired judgment. You more likely get into a car accident, more likely to have a slower response system, more likely to forget things, more likely to be irritable, more likely to eat junk foods. So that’s happening to us on a daily basis because circadian rhythm disruption is all around us. So I thought, wow, why don’t we talk more about this? This is so simple. This is as simple as getting nature time, and not eating all hours of the day at night that Americans do and unfortunately or fortunately, because we are part of this food company experiment where they’re trying to keep us addicted and hungry and craving at all hours. And so a lot of people eat right before they go to bed. They drink their last class wine or their chocolate or their dessert. And literally, they’re rolling out of bed first thing in the morning without adequate sleep, and they’re chugging their protein shake orange juice smoothie, granola bar, or whatever. And so that’s the second. So what you eat, when you eat, and do things. And then the third one is so immensely missed in medicine is how you think and manage your stress. So there could be, like we talked about, there is craziness going on around us, almost all the time, but definitely now. And if you internalize that, that sends signals to your gut that hey, we are in danger, stop digesting, stop doing any optional repair and renewal. We need to focus on survival. And when you’re in survival mode, you know it, your heart’s racing, your eyes dilate, you are feeling anxious, but you can only concentrate on the task at hand. That happens because we are taking the stress all around us. And we aren’t being taught the tools to manage that. And so managing your mind is something that I didn’t learn in any of my training and I never talked to any of my patients.
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Darin: But I want to go back to the circadian rhythm because, man, you talk about circadian rhythm, you talk about the sun coming up and the sun going down and the stars and we are intimately and ever connected to this eco organism, Earth, planets, stars, tidal waves, all of this stuff, we’re connected. And we look for all of these quick fixes when in fact, like the circadian rhythm, if you undercut that you’re going exactly against nature. And I also know I want to touch on this too because I know you’re a big fan of intermittent fasting. And I’d like to know more about the differences of men’s and women’s intermittent fasting because I don’t think a lot of people have kind of broken that apart. So number one, what are some things like for me, I go to bed at 8, I’m up at 4, I get outside, I do all that. So it’s ingrained in my world of going to sleep. It takes a lot for me to stay up beyond that. But for people, I absolutely know people that literally stay up and work all night, go to sleep for a few hours, and then the body just gets used to it. And that’s the thing. The habits get ingrained, and so now you’re undercutting yourself the circadian rhythm over time, but yet you’ve ingrained that habit that is not ideal. So what are some things that people can do to kind of get back to the importance of their circadian clock?
Dr. Amy: If companies knew how much productivity is lost, and how much they could help the ideas, creativity, mood meetings of their employees, they would automatically instill some of these practices. But that’s why I think it’s very important to bring it to the forefront because I think part of it is that we didn’t know when we designed a 24-hour drive-throughs and emails late at night, and the things that we were doing, we really just disregarded this biology because most of us didn’t know about it. And it’s as easy as getting some natural light in the morning, say before 10 AM. And if you live in a place where it’s pitch black, or you work in a place where there is absolutely no access to light, which is so sad, but it happens all the time. There are these amazing sun lamps that you find for very inexpensive on Amazon, that mimic the light and it’s different from a light in your home. But really just stepping outside for a couple of minutes, getting that sunlight.I thought about my carefree childhood days. And that’s really what I remember the nude boosting effects of being outdoors. Now I realize it’s not just boosting, it’s actually literally turning on that circadian clock, telling the functions of the body, it’s time to learn, it’s time to be attentive, it’s time to digest all of that. And so that they can roughly calculate, okay, now I know when to release the melatonin. One of the funniest things is when people start fixing their circadian rhythms and getting sunlight early in the morning without doing anything else, they automatically sleep better because that clock is now working and not confused all the time. And so getting a little bit of sunlight is a transformative practice. I tell people it’s like level one, you literally will feel like a million bucks. And then the level two is stopping your food two to three hours before bed, sounds so easy, but it’s so hard because we as Americans especially eat 16 hours a day, stopping only eight hours overnight to sleep, and literally start again in the morning. And just going back to evolutionarily sound mechanisms. Our gut is just like a rig, it cannot be up all the time. And if you’re someone who sleeps at eight o’clock, try learning something at midnight. You’re going to be pissed, you’re going to not learn it well. So same thing as eating a big meal late into the night, your gut, it’s like I am not equipped to digest this, I don’t like it. And the next day you have all the symptoms of acid reflux and bloating and so on. And then we wonder why we have such an epidemic of GI problems. And that just starts a cascade of inflammation, etc. So start with the morning, then start with adding the evening, and then the night is of course, sleep, I cannot overemphasize that. It is for the immune system, for our gut health, for our brain health, for our energy levels. Your sleep is essential, and sleeping less than six hours a night is equivalent to not sleeping at all when it comes to cognition, and danger and recall. So if you’re someone who’s like, oh, I’ll sleep when I’m dead, I’m so busy, I’m a hard worker, you’re shortchanging yourself if you are not at least getting six hours plus of sleep per night.
Darin: So the whole idea that you’re working hard is actually very, very inefficient because your brains out at rest, you can’t repair and you’re going to eat again, going against the freaking whole universe of how your body’s been put together, and that’s the crazy thing. And isn’t it true also that from a digestive standpoint, and I know Ayurveda really kind of talks about the heat of the fire of digestion, so it’s like that’s turning on when you wake up, and it’s peaking around noon, and then it drops off, and that’s a lot of those people. So you’re not eating anything, you’re stressed out, you’re probably caffeinating yourself because you don’t have the energy because you’re not sleeping, whatever. And then all of a sudden, you get home and you let yourself relax, you take a drink, so you suppress. And then you’re slamming in this huge meal. Who knows what the hell you’re going to eat at that point? Absolutely against the kind of the flow of the digestive system anyway, so you’re again you’re on that side, you’re against the circadian rhythm of your actual digestion. So it’s kind of like we flip this whole thing, and then add that up over time.
Dr. Amy: My husband is a gastroenterologist for people who don’t know, that means a specialist. We met in medical school. I went into immunology, I went to gastroenterology, that was both interesting to both of us. He gained about 50 pounds during his training years, poor sleep, poor eating habits, eat when you’re available, whatever. The one thing he changed, and he told me, if I had to put my finger on it, the one thing I change is to time my meals better. He used to go to work without taking any lunch, or any food with him, just coffee. You’re so busy, you got to get to work fast or running late all the time. And then he said around 1-2 PM, he was ravenous, and there was no plan for what he was going to eat. And so he would go to the hospital cafeteria, which has probably the worst food ever, worse than McDonald’s sometimes, or even going through a drive-thru or a local eatery that was fast food. And what he found was, then he would not be hungry at early dinnertime and he would get hungry late at night when he was finishing his charts. And then he hadn’t planned for it, so what’s available is desserts. And what he said is simply shifting. So that he took his food with him to work and had a plan like, I know that I’m going to get hungry at this time, I know that my digestion is peaking in the afternoon. And then keeping that late-night open, like no food, or very minimal food was like was transformative and of course, along with exercise and changing up the quality of foods. I mean, it goes obviously, there’s not one thing that you’re doing that’s making all the changes. But I can tell you that that’s similar to my story, maybe not as dramatic. I didn’t loose 50 pounds, but I felt like I had this huge weight on myself like it felt that’s what getting older was. I thought getting older meant that you just were never as energetic anymore, and you had all these GI troubles and aches and pains. What I realized is aging as we know it is completely wrong. We think of normal things of aging as fatigue, pains, and difficulty sleeping. I mean, that is not part of healthy aging. But that’s what we have labeled that because years of poor habits lead up to status quo aging.
Darin: Yeah, I mean, that’s the consequences of actions. There’s an outcome to every action we take. And so looking back, well, if I eat poor food, how is the body supposed to deal with that and you get the effect of that. We’re starting to talk about it in terms of fasting, intermittent fasting. It’s so powerful. I mean, I started doing that some weird programs I was doing but I started studying physiology in college, and it was probably 91. I started fasting. I go to the cafeteria, was done eating by 5 PM, right up at 6 AM training and then my first meal was like 9 or 10 and I was like oh my, especially when I was like 20 something I was like shredded as strong as hell. Boom, like almost immediately, it’s incredible.
Dr. Amy: Women can’t do that.
Darin: Well, that’s the point. There’s something with us as guys that we have just this stupid almost mentality where we would just kind of bull rush anything and ego, grit or teeth and white knuckle ourselves, and we put ourselves into stressful situations. It doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good. So what are some of the differences that you find with generally speaking, obviously, because people are all different in terms of what works for women, in terms of controlling the amount that they’re eating, intermittent fasting, potentially? And what is the effect that that can have?
Dr. Amy: That’s such a path question. And as you know, there are many, many women who don’t have this issue with not being able to do longer fasts, but it comes down to the way our brain is wired. And our bodies and our hormones are wired, we’re essentially wired differently. Women’s brains are busier. They are much more sensitive to stressors. So what that means is, if you are going to carry a child, whether you want to or not, you’re in your fertility years, your body is going to protect you. It will protect you from famine, from danger, from trauma. And so your body will turn off reproductive functions when you’re in dangerous situation. However, fasting or over-exercising, or stressing does not sound like a dangerous situation. However, to the brain, it can feel very dangerous. And so female athletes run into this problem all the time because when they overtrain, the body says, oh, she’s in a state of stress. I’m going to turn off the hormonal system. And what happens is they skip their period, they have all kinds of symptoms because their hormones are imbalanced, and they don’t get their best training or the best performance. We have a master hormone in both men and women. It’s GnRH, gonadotropin releasing hormone. And think of it as kind of a master, it’s on the top, and it’s pulsating, and it’s releasing impulse like form. This pulse is very close to the circadian centers, very close to the processing centers. And when your body feels confused, when it feels like there’s danger, there’s famine, there’s more, you’re internalizing stress, it stops that. And when you stop that pulse, what you’ll get is symptoms. People will say, I feel exhausted, I lost my period, I don’t have fertility, like I’m trying to have children, all kinds of issues. And I myself experienced this when I tried intermittent fasting because I like you, I said, oh, all my friends who learned about intermittent fasting, they’re all fasting for like 16 to 20 hours a day. So I did it. And by day three, I felt exhausted. I felt like my cravings were out of control. My sleep was disturbed. And I knew there was something wrong. And so I gave up because I said, oh, fasting is not for me. And what I realized is that I was sending my brain signals that I was in danger, in emergency mode. And anyone who has dieted really hard, and women and men really know how this goes. Your body will try to counteract, if it senses that you’re starving yourself, it will turn up those hunger hormones, it will make you less likely to sleep so that you can forage for food, and you end up feeling exhausted, like only thinking about food. So to counteract that, I thought of a way to do it for myself, and for many busy people, men and women alike, is circadian fasting. So circadian rhythms and intermittent fasting kind of combined together. We already just talked about how circadian rhythm literally run our body. And we know how natural and evolutionarily sound it is to pretty much fast overnight, but you don’t have to be doing it in amounts of 24 hours or 20 hours. Even as simple as 12 to 15 hours of a fast can be extremely beneficial for your glucose, for your blood pressure, for your heart health, for your longevity. I mean, there are countless benefits. And what I say to people, if you want to maximize, say you’re a mom of three and you have a busy job and you’re trying to maximize this thing called fasting because you heard all the longevity and the inflammation benefits. I would say stop eating two to three hours before bed. So say it’s 7 PM and you stop eating, you sleep overnight, you get up at six, you go for a workout first thing in the morning, and maybe you don’t eat before your workout. You stretch it out about the next hour or so. And then you eat your first meal and so what you’re doing is you’re actually activating so many of those pathways that were already turned on by fasting by working out because when you work out, you need glucose for fuel and when you run out of glucose for fuel, you will use your glycogen in your liver. And when you run out of glycogen in your liver, you will switch metabolism sources, so you’ll switch to fatty acids. They have found in many, many studies, Dr. Mattson is a great one that explained it in the Journal of Medicine that this is a goal for the clinician is to get someone into that metabolic switch as often as possible. So if you think about it, logically, the Kenyan marathon runners, the ones who win all of the races, they train fasted all the time. They run very long runs without any food and people are like, how do they do that? They don’t have gels. They rely on this metabolic switch. They know that it can be built up like a muscle. You can learn to use your glucose for fuel when you run out. You can just switch to fatty acids. And for us, almost all of us have never even utilized that unless by mistake you fasted. So getting a normal, busy, overworked person to try intermittent fasting. I think this is a great introduction and a way for them to feel the benefits right away.
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Darin: There are so many women that run the household that are amazing. And you just see like this powerful mother goddess come out. Let’s be honest, they’re running the show. And the healthier they are, the better everyone’s going to be. I’m saying out to all the men, the sons, all of that stuff even the daughters, make sure mama’s doing good. Give her the space to have this. I love what you’re unpacking here because you have found this space, where coming from your own background, that women really need that tailored approach. And really going back to nature, going back to this essential thing. So if you’re applying all this stuff because it’s easy and now I think, correct me if I’m wrong, but we’re kind of overemphasizing hypothyroidism or adrenal fatigue. We’re kind of blasting these terms, and then we’re going after that kind of acute situation and reductionism, but then we’re not addressing all of these things that you’re talking about. So talk to me about that and about restoring some of those, the adrenal systems.
Dr. Amy: Yeah, it’s like Jenga, right? So you can’t have imbalance of your adrenals and everything else is still in place. It’s literally so interconnected. And it’s controlled by your gut bacteria that I talked to you about. And when I simplify for people, I’m like, that’s why your gut health has so much to do with your hormone health and vice versa and same with your immune health. So if you work on getting that connection, that trisector really strong, you will be a better person, meaning energetic, renewed, and men, you will also have longevity. And what you’re saying about women earlier, is so true. What we have learned is that women are amazing leaders. However, when you ask a woman to step into a, say, a previous leader’s role, and you ask them to live, work, and be in that person’s shoes, they often can’t do it, or they drop out where they say they can’t. And the reason why is they’re not given the opportunity to lead in their own way. When someone told me that, hey, you believe in circadian rhythms, intermittent fasting, all of the stuff, time your meetings in a way that’s most productive. You’re asking women to lead in the same way that someone else lead. And that might not be right. If you’re a mom of 1, 2, 3, 4 children, you may need that evening time for them, and that’s okay. Maybe you time your meeting in the morning, maybe you get your sunlight, the fasted workout, and then you do a meeting, and then you start your day. So there are so many different ways that we could make it easier for women leaders to flourish not only in the workplace but in their health as well.
Darin: I just love when you go back to– I was gonna say it’s not a quick fix but in one way, when you take care of the foundational things that you’re talking about, the inflammation, the hormones, the microbiome, learning how to go to sleep earlier or manage your time. When you align all of this stuff, it doesn’t have to be overwhelming and so much of the “issues” start to regulate themselves and you start to do those things that you didn’t think that you’re able to do. And then it gives you back, and then it just creates momentum. And that’s, I think, people can get into overwhelmed about these things. And if you just start applying a few little adjustments, it’s so powerful. And I’m just reminded all the time, that’s why I love this approach that you’re taking, and especially now more than ever, especially now, we need to focus on our health and the master commander of the homes, the mothers. We need them healthy. We need them in the world. And we need them to do their thing in a much more power way than being a victim of our systems and our society and our poor quality foods that we’re allowing into this world. If it was up to me, I’d start the cans of culture of cans and crap foods.
Dr. Amy: My next book that I’m researching is all about really trying to fix that “why do we eat so late at night, and why do we want to eat first thing in the morning?” Part of it is not our fault. We live in a system where people understood this neurobiology more than we did, and they hijacked it. And they create foods that create signals for us to go get more, and to eat it even if we’re not hungry, and then we get confused because now there is this whole thing about body positivity and eat intuitively. But you can’t really eat intuitively if you’re craving soda and cake because this companies have made it so we have this deep neuronal pathways. You have to break past that and that might not feel good.
Darin: That’s a huge point you bring up. It really is, and we have to not shame ourselves so much about hey, you’re doing this. And they’ve created a psychology around where they’re taking you and you’re gonna lose money or else they wouldn’t exist. So in the same systems, you look at where people are born, there’s literally no grocery store, they’ve never even seen a grocery store. And so you’re like, that system, you’re a victim of the place you were in and that’s hard. And on top of it, the environment, the microbiome is changing too. So now, you’ve changed that microbiome and those signals are being sent out because they just want the sugar, salt, and fat again, and so it’s like it’s not your thoughts, it’s their thought. It’s like crazy.
Dr. Amy: People don’t even realize you can eat something that has hidden sugar and it won’t even taste sweet to you but the bacteria in your gut will sense the sugar and will make you crave more of that food. It’s bizarre.
Darin: From your perspective, it’s just a spontaneous question just because I’m fascinated with what you said. What are some of the top foods that from your perspective to stay away?
Dr. Amy: So high fructose corn syrup, for example, we kind of know that, sodas.
Dr. Amy: They used to give out sodas or at baseball games and at fun events knowing that children will equate that with the fun times. So when you want to have fun times, Darin, what do you reach for? We reach for soda and chips. So it’s also programmed with the experience that we were having there. So high fructose corn syrup is one of the biggest. So sodas, liquid calories, through that. That’s something I talk to my kids a lot about because my kids are growing up in normal culture, sodas and juices and drinks are part of childhood. And I have to tell them, I say, I rather you have a very beautiful dessert or a chocolate later the day, sit down and enjoy it than guzzle in 40 grams of sugar through a Starbucks frappuccino. And it’s something that they have it seems so far into that of their friends especially. And so high fructose corn syrup especially in liquid form is probably the biggest easiest thing to get rid off. Then you think about oils. And the oil part is really hard becuase oils at restaurants are really out of our control. And what are they using? They’re using oils that are tasteless so that they can put any food in it. They’re using oils that are very easily found and inexpensive. And these oils are so inflammatory, especially when you deep fry things. So I say, stop the deep frying. And I come from a culture that does a lot of deep frying. I mean, Indian food, there are tons of deep frying. And finally, I said to my family, deep frying is something that you should have as a very, very sometimes, not a daily food and multiple times a day, it’s how they would have it. It was very, very scary. So added sugar especially in the form of drinks and then oils are obviously there and then refined flours. How many of us would go on these gluten-free or whatever diets and we feel better. And all of a sudden, you’re like I must be gluten allergic. And it’s not the gluten, it’s that you couldn’t eat that pizza and you can have the bun and couldn’t eat that typical burrito that you would always eat, you just stopped eating processed flours and now you feel better. If you added them and you give them some sprouted greens, probably you’re fine. So I’m not a believer in completely taking out food groups unless you personally have a sensitivity to them. And I do believe in eating as much plant-based foods as possible because no matter what you argue, oh I’m gonna get this healthy salmon or this wild– the truth of the matter is, most meat is super unhealthy processed. And most of the people who are consuming these ketogenic diets and high-meat diets are not eating the farm meat that people argue.
Darin: And that’s a whole nother argument and you’re right. You know what’s funny, I had a PhD, Greg Brenner, incredible scientist and he was like, listen, you want to know about metabolism? The photons coming from the sun hitting plants, creating carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, and then at some point, metabolism is liberating that energy from the photons of the sun. I’m kinda putting this now into his words but it maybe a little bit of an inefficient process to eat animal to try to liberate the same energy that you need to anyway. So why not just eat the greens and the plants and the colors that have clearly recieved that sun energy and it’s easier for your body to deal with. And like you said in the beginning, if you go with the plants, you get into fiber and we need that diversification.
Dr. Amy: I think it’s hard because our culture and I understand because culturally we talked about the [00:48:20] sporting events. It’s the same way with hamburgers and hotdogs. It’s a very, very difficult neuronal pattern to break. So there’s all kinds of strategies that people can use to help break those but it’s real. I mean, I have that, all of us have that like when you’re looking for comfort or you look back into your childhood, you chose some unhealthy foods because of these patterns that were ingrained in your childhood, that it’s really easy to want to justify that and it’s really hard to change that. Awareness I think is the biggest [00:48:55] I thought or maybe it’s just that my body needs brownies or it wasn’t until I earned this and I was like no, it’s that when I feel stressed and when I look back at automatic pathways that I don’t have to think about, I reach back to the things that have always served me in times of comfort and some of them may be good and a lot of them are bad, and you have to really train your self and catch yourself in that moment and say, what am I doing right now? Am I going for some people’s alcohol, drugs, food. Am I eating this right now because I’m hungry or is it because I’m trying to calm my system or feel comfort or remember an experience that I had that was very comforting and pleasant. I told my mom friends all the time, do not reward your children all the time with highly processed foods. I know some mom friends and they’re amazing, beautiful people but they will say, oh, I got him Dunkin’ Donuts because he got such great grade. And what that does is that when Johnny is 45, he is going to get Dunkin’ Donuts when he feels like whether he wants reward or he is in a stressful place and wants to remember that feeling of reward.
Darin: These are huge psychologically, emotional, mental things, and it’s so important. I think one of the big takeaway is number one, letting yourself off the hook because we’re placed into an experiment of people taking advantage of the situation we’re in, the sugar, salt, fat, the what it is, how it is, the symbols on the thing, the fastfood, and all of these things. And you’re right, I didn’t even think about the ballgame, sodas, and carcinogenic hotdogs. People just kinda throw that away even though they know it’s not. They associate that situation. So these are things for people to be aware of to kind of unpack. And I think it can be overwhelming but like you said a couple of times, there’s awareness of it. Start with the awareness of it first to create some space and then you’ll have choice where you never had choice before because you’re in this automated path.
Dr. Amy: One tip I would have for a lot of people who are doing this process is just take one step forward in all of the areas in your life that you want to improve. So today, I already did the most important thing for my business, and I already did the most important thing for my health, and I also did the most important thing for my mindset. In that way, it’s not overwhelming. If you have more time and you have energy that you want to add in more stuff, great. But I want the essentials to be so easy that you just can do that and move forward every single day.
Darin: It’s huge. Obviously, you set yourself up, stop eating maybe tonight. Everyone listening tonight, just eat a little earlier. If you need to make yourself a special meal and no one else is up to speed on your program then just do that and take care of yourself and do those things and then try it out. And that thing alone I think can help people sleep. Man, when you wake up more refreshed than you did. Your whole outlook is different. And I love these things that you’ve broken down because they’re essential. They’re not going away, they’re not trying to hack over the way we’re created and how we’re connected to this incredible ecosystem, it’s acknowledging that and then setting yourselves up to win. So thank you so much. How can people, I mean, who doesn’t want to get a book, I’m So Effing Tired? How can people find the book? How can people find you? How can people follow you?
Dr. Amy: If you go to imsoeffingtired.com/free, there’s a whole bunch of things you can get like a free chapter of the book, some recipes to get started on like a high-fiber plant-based diet. And then there’s like a video training, all for free. You can get the book if you want but you can just start there. I’m on social media @fastingmd, and my website is amymdwellness.com.
Darin: Great, and we’ll put all that in the show notes so people can easily go to it. It was such a delight, such a pleasure, and I’m glad you’re on the planet doing what you’re doing trying to be the best version of the medical practitioner that you’re set out to be and forging your own way and women and men and people are benefitting as a result, so thank you so much.
Dr. Amy: Thank you so much for having me.
Darin: What a fantastic episode. So tell me, what is one thing you got out of today’s conversation? If this episode struck a chord with you and you want to dive a little deeper into my other conversations with incredible guests, you can head over to my website, darinolien.com for more episodes and in-depth articles. Keep diving my friends. Keep diving.