Speaker 1: 00:00 Welcome to the Dr. Gundry Podcast, the weekly podcast where Dr. G. gives you the tools you need to boost your health and live your healthiest life.
Dr. Gundry: 00:14 Welcome to the Dr. Gundry Podcast. Since The Plant Paradox came out about two years ago, I’ve been warning people about the seven deadly disrupters. Those sneaky health hazards found in everyday household items. Well, today we’ll be talking about at least one category of those deadly disruptors, and a whole lot more. In just a minute, I’ll be speaking with the author, podcaster, and award-winning blogger, Katie Wells. As a mom of six, Katie has developed fast, easy and affordable hacks for living a wellness-centered lifestyle. Her popular blog, Wellnessmama.com, helps take the guesswork out of healthy living, providing simple answers for healthier families through practical tips, recipes, natural beauty and cleaning tutorials, and more.
Dr. Gundry: 01:05 Today we’re going to discuss Katie’s journey to becoming a bonafide Wellness Mama, and how to jumpstart the ultimate healthy home makeover without breaking the bank. Katie, welcome to the program. So great that we’re finally connecting.
Katie Wells: 01:26 I’m so glad to finally connect with you, thank you so much for having me.
Dr. Gundry: 01:26 It’s great to connect. So you were waiting for your postnatal doctor’s appointment, and something happens that changes your entire life. Can you takes us there, and tell our audience what happened?
Katie Wells: 01:39 Absolutely. When my first son was born, I was waiting for that followup appointment, which is in the US, where they tell you that you’re supposed to be all good, go back to living normal, which I now take issue with. But the doctor was running late because of another delivery. So I was sitting there for a couple of hours, I had read pretty much every magazine in the waiting room by that point, because I was nursing a baby the entire time. And the last one I picked up, I think it was a Time Magazine, I was flipping through, and this quote really stood out to me, and it said, “For the first time in two centuries, the current generation of American children, will have a shorter life expectancy than their parents.”
Katie Wells: 02:15 And it was such a stark lightning bolt moment for me, because I was holding the next generation of American children. I was nursing this perfect, tiny baby. And I went on to read about autoimmune disease, and cancer, and heart disease, and diabetes, and the rates that our kids were going to face all of these things at. And it really hit something inside of me, and that day, I resolved that I was going to help change that. And I had no idea how I was going to help change that, or any way to even start that process, but I just realized that was not going to be okay for my child, for any of my future children, or for anyone’s children. That we owed it to our children to do better.
Katie Wells: 02:52 At the same time, unbeknownst to me, I had the underpinnings of autoimmune disease happening, and I was starting to see symptoms that I kept writing off as pregnancy symptoms, or new mom symptoms, or lack of sleep symptoms. But they would continually build over the next few yeas, and I would end up encountering my own health crisis. So that day began a two-part research journey for me. Both on how can I make sure I’m giving my kids a better start in life than what those statistics say? And also, how could I find my way back to health, and be a good example of a healthy mom, and implement this for our family?
Dr. Gundry: 03:31 Wow. So you mentioned an autoimmune disease. What happened with you? Where are you with that? Can you bring us up to date?
Katie Wells: 03:40 Absolutely, that’s a great question. It was a very long research process for me, and I ended up, I think it was eight doctors, by the time I finally figured out what worked for me. But through a combination of diet, actually very similar to the diet you recommend, and lifestyle factors. And a huge key for me was dealing with emotional stress and trauma. But after addressing all of those, I am in remission from autoimmune disease. I don’t have any raised biomarkers, and everything looks normal. So technically, on paper, I no longer have Hashimoto’s.
Dr. Gundry: 04:09 Perfect. So you didn’t just change your life, you started a blog to help others do the same thing. Was that your aim when you started this blog, to not only get your life and your family protected, but, I guess, to protect everybody else, teach them the tricks?
Katie Wells: 04:30 Not really. It’s interesting, because inadvertently, it’s ended up helped me reach that goal of helping other families start from the beginning with healthy foundations. It really was just an outlet for me at that point, because I joke that if you want to create autoimmune disease, I seem to have discovered the formula. Which was, in college, I was super driven, so lots of stress, really terrible food, and no sleep. And if you get all those right, you have a really good shot at autoimmune disease, which is pretty much what I had done.
Katie Wells: 04:58 So I had finished college by about 19, basically just maxed out hours, very, very driven. But had created all these health problems. And so now I was home with this baby, and my background being journalism from college, my default was, if i have a problem, I research it. And I figure out how to fix it because the research. And so it was just my default to research and write. I didn’t know how to not write. So it was an outlet for me to chronicle and put in one place, what I was going through. And very quickly, I realized there were a lot of other people on a really parallel path, unfortunately.
Katie Wells: 05:32 Which I know in your work, you talk about so much all these things… Especially autoimmune disease, and the rates at which we’re seeing that, and of course now knowing that pregnancy can certainly springboard into that, if you already have some of those risk factors going. It sounds so funny to say now, but looking back, it was discovering things for the first time. Like the foods we eat have more of an impact than just calories, because that’s what I got in high school and college nutrition, was that it was about calories. And that was a lightening bolt moment. That seems so simple now, but was absolutely huge to realize at that time.
Katie Wells: 06:07 And I realized, “Maybe there are other parents and families that also haven’t made these connections.” And they think that as long as they’re jut fitting under this calorie amount, and no one’s gaining weight, you’re fine, if you’re eating these foods. So it was this whole journey of discovery. Both self-discovery, and then being able to share that. And as the community built, I realized, community is a big aspect of health as well. I know we talked about this when you were on my podcast. That’s actually of the statistically most important things you need to get right. And I realized this was building an online community of sorts, of support, where moms could really be there for each other, and learn these things together, as we went.
Dr. Gundry: 06:42 Perfect. So, since starting Wellness Mama, you’ve gotten lots of accolades. Greatlist.com named you as one of the 100 most influential people in health and wellness, along with my buddy Dr. Oz, and Dr. Mercola, both of my friends. So it sounds like you did this as a journaling exercise initially. Did it surprise you on how much it took off?
Katie Wells: 07:11 It did at first. Like I said, I think there was an element of certainly being in the right place at the right time, and I’m really grateful I go to be there, and I got to lead the charge with this community. I very much consider it a community now. I don’t consider myself Wellness Mama, I consider Wellness Mama a thing that we can all be as moms. It did somewhat surprise me. I’m lucky that I am married to a tech genius, who is really good at SEO, so that definitely helped with the process. He was using me as a testing ground for his paying clients. And long story short, it worked.
Katie Wells: 07:40 But I think the sad part is, the fact that it resonated with so many people, means there are so many people struggling with these things. And there are so many people starting to realize, all these products we’re bringing into our home aren’t necessarily healthy for us, and all these foods that are marketed to our kids, are not healthy for them. And all of these things that we’ve been told our whole lives, about health, may be completely wrong. So it makes me sad in some ways that it became so popular, because it meant because it meant that there was a lot of underlying problems going on that we now need to address.
Katie Wells: 08:12 But I also am really encouraged by it because I’ve always said, I think moms are the most powerful force for change on the planet. And I think if you can change the moms and empower the moms and give the moms enough bandwidth to make these changes in their own family, you can completely change a country in the span of a generation. And so from the beginning, that’s been my hope, is to be that voice, and be that support for moms because I really truly at my core belief that moms can change the world.
Dr. Gundry: 08:41 No, you’re absolutely right. Now, you’re the first to remind people that you’re not a doctor. And I certainly applaud you for saying that. It sounds like though you’re a great researcher. How did you come up with all your recipes, tips and tricks?
Katie Wells: 09:04 You’re so right. I definitely always make sure I say that, probably too much, I’m not a doctor, I don’t play one on the internet or on TV. And thankfully, there are many amazing doctors like you out there educating and doing that job that I can’t do. But, I also think there’s tremendous value, like I just mentioned, in moms. Mothers were the traditional holders of wisdom to begin with. When you’re young, you go to your mom or you go to your grandma. There were these values and recipes and things that were passed through generations, and mothers were the keepers of that.
Katie Wells: 09:33 And so part of Wellness Mama as well is bringing back that, kind of reviving the idea of mother’s wisdom. I think the best scenario is a partnership between an amazing doctor or someone like you and a mom who’s doing the research, who cares about her kids, who’s willing to make the changes. And so I don’t think they’re at all in tension, I think they can work well together and that we need so much both of those things to make the changes that I know you and I both so desperately want to see, especially in our children. But I think moms are great at the practical side.So I’m on the ground every day, six kids living that life, cooking the meals, experimenting in my own house, and I think that’s the practical side.
Katie Wells: 10:13 It is a mom’s realm that we are the authorities on. I have a great doctor I work with, and she agrees with me that moms are sometimes the best experts in their kids’ health, especially when working with a doctor because no one cares more. And so I think when you give moms the tools and connect moms with the resources, like the really good medical resources and the doctors, that’s when you see the best outcomes.
Dr. Gundry: 10:38 You’ve got a great doctor who you work with. What kind of feedback do you get from other moms who take some of the information you provide or what they’ve found works for them and then try to give it to their doctor? Is there a lot of pushback?
Katie Wells: 10:56 That is definitely a tough thing. And I think geographies or areas, it’s tougher than others. I know in big cities, you can almost always find doctors that align with your values. Now we’re seeing the age of concierge medicine where with new laws, doctors are able to work remotely with people. I think that’s amazing. That way, you can connect with a specialist maybe in another state who you would never have had the chance to connect with. And I know that the laws are still developing when it comes to that. I know a lot of moms feel like they have to fight with their doctor.
Katie Wells: 11:24 And I think it’s twofold, I think it’s researching and finding a doctor that is going to have an approach that hopefully will align with yours, and being able to stand up for the things you know are important, or to give your child’s history or your history. You know that better than anyone else. But it also is, like I said, finding that synergistic partner with a doctor and being willing to listen to their advice as well. So I think those two things are very important together.
Dr. Gundry: 11:48 And you’re in a fairly rural part of the country. Do you find it challenging? You’ve obviously found a great physician. Is it more challenging out of the big city? I mean, do you have to travel a long way or is a community like yours taking the place of constant physician contact?
Katie Wells: 12:13 I don’t think it takes the place. I joke that we actually have to travel farther for a dentist we love than a doctor. But we use a company called Study MD. So my doctor is not actually in my state, but she’s licensed in my state. And the way the laws work between our two states, I can do a lot of things virtually. So obviously, she’s not going to prescribe narcotics long distance and she can’t set a bone over the phone. But for a lot of the things that would happen with kids, like there’s digital otoscopes, I can send her a picture of an eardrum and say, “What would you do in this scenario?” Or, “Does this need stitches?” Or, “Kid has these symptoms, do I need to take her in or not?”
Katie Wells: 12:47 And so for those kinds of things, I feel like it’s cut down on 80% of my parenting hassles. And also just, I feel like I have a doctor literally in my pocket, and I love that technology has enabled things like that. Certainly, technology has its problems and parents have lots of opinions about that, but I think it certainly also has its benefits.
Dr. Gundry: 13:06 Cool. Are there virtual shots yet?
Katie Wells: 13:10 Not yet. They haven’t quite figured that one out.
Dr. Gundry: 13:14 Okay. This is great. I want to dive in now in what you’ve been up to in some of the things you research. But we’re going to take a quick break and we’re going to come right back. So stay tuned, you’re not gonna miss this episode with Wellness Mama, Katie Wells. We’ll be right back.
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Dr. Gundry: 14:22 And We’re back. Welcome back to the Dr. Gundry Podcast. And we’re talking with Wellness Mama, Katie Wells, who I’m a big fan of. So when you boil it down, what’s the most important thing to keep in mind when you’re creating a healthy living environment for you and your family? Boy, that’s a big one.
Katie Wells: 14:42 That is a big question. And my answer is definitely going to start broad and dial down, which is that in almost every case I can think of, simple is better. I think we can try to over complicate this, and we can try to get into like, “I need to take a million supplements, and I want to try all these devices, and I want to do all this stuff.” But you have to nail the simple things first. I’ve said so many times, you can’t out supplement a bad diet. You can’t out exercise lack of sleep. You have to dial in the really simple everyday things and make those a habit first, especially with kids.
Katie Wells: 15:12 Because with kids, we’re setting up their lifelong foundation with this. we’re setting up their taste buds and their ability to eat and choose healthy foods, their ability to sleep, which is I think one of the biggest keys, and it was one that was a long journey for me to optimize. So I always tell moms, first of all, don’t compare yourself to other moms. Certainly don’t compare yourself to me because I’ve been doing this for 13 years. And if you saw me when I was starting, you would laugh. But take baby steps, and don’t stress.
Katie Wells: 15:36 And so, on wellnessmama.com, I do a lot of small systems and that are easily repeatable, and I encourage moms to implement one thing at a time because if you can do one thing at a time and make it a consistent habit and do it for your whole life, longterm that’s going to have a much bigger effect than if you try to cold-turkey-change everything in your entire life overnight, do it for four days and then you quit because you’re overwhelmed and you’re exhausted. So I have a cookbook that covers my food side. I know you have amazing cookbooks that I love. And then I have the lifestyle detox book, which really walks you through the process of the baby steps of everything in your house and your personal care routine and all of that.
Katie Wells: 16:13 Because it is a lot over time, but if you focus on those simple baby steps and start with the really, really easy stuff… So if it’s the food category, get rid of the worst offenders first. Just stop buying the things that you don’t want to feed your kids anymore. I always say, start with things like sugar and vegetable oils and refined ingredients. Get those out first. Start with simple cleaning ingredients. There are now totally natural biodegradable cleaners that make… They’re concentrate, and they make cleaners for every part of your home.
Katie Wells: 16:42 It doesn’t have to be complicated. And in almost all cases, the natural version is simpler. And just like in life, the more you minimize, the less mental stress you have, the more you move towards those natural alternatives, the less products you need in general.
Dr. Gundry: 16:56 And are these natural alternatives cheaper? I know a lot of people are always going, “I can’t afford to do all this. I don’t have a lot of money.” What have you found as a mother of six kids?
Katie Wells: 17:13 Absolutely. The natural alternatives can almost always be cheaper, especially if you’re willing to put in a little bit of time and make some of them yourself. So if anybody’s interested, I have recipes for pretty much every household product. You can always just Google Wellness Mama and whatever you’re looking for, laundry detergent, etc, and those recipes will come up. And they are much cheaper than the store bought alternatives. Plus, you’re reducing packaging, which is awesome for the planet.
Katie Wells: 17:36 There’s also things like, there’s a concentrate called Branch Basics, which is totally natural, biodegradable and you can use it to make bathroom cleaner, all purpose cleaner, laundry soap, dish soap. It makes everything, and it’s safe enough to use on skin. I’ve used it as baby shampoo, it’s that gentle. And because you’re buying one bottle of concentrate, it’s way more eco friendly. It’s much cheaper. So I think there’s amazing things like that that are developing that really do let us save money and switch to the natural alternatives. And then you don’t have all these plastic bottles of cleaners and things floating around your house cause you don’t need them.
Dr. Gundry: 18:08 So you’re at the cutting edge of wellness and technology. Anything you seen that really gets your interest on the horizon or the near horizon that you’re excited about?
Katie Wells: 18:23 I think the three ones that I’ve seen the most research coming out recently would be about fasting or fasting-mimicking diets, which of course is not new. Every major religion has that in some form and every indigenous culture uses this in some form. But really seeing the data on what it’s doing and its impact on so many markers and health. And I think like a lot of things we’ve talked about, it’s a simpler approach. It’s just not eating. It’s not that you have to do anything hard.
Katie Wells: 18:49 I think also, like I mentioned, heart rate variability, it’s huge. I think that’s going to be an emerging area of research in ways that we can improve that. And one of my personal favorite ones, it’s again not new, in Finland, they’ve done this forever, but the research is new is on saunas. And I know that you’ve talked about… There’s a lot of benefits for heart health, which you are much more qualified to explain, but how regular sauna use can reduce blood pressure. It’s tied to cognitive function, muscle recovery.
Katie Wells: 19:15 I also think it’s important to sweat every day, and that’s often from exercise, but it can also be from sauna and that just uses the body’s natural detoxification pathways. I don’t think we need to do any crazy detoxes or cleanses. I think the body does it naturally when you just support the body. But I saw recently a study on saunas and inflammation that sauna use, regular use, which I think was four times a week or more, lowered C reactive protein by 32%. So I think we’re going to keep seeing these studies that basically prove back to circle where we started, the wisdom a lot of grandmothers knew in the first place, which is that if you sleep well and hydrate and eat healthy and sweat once in a while, that all of these things are so good for us.
Katie Wells: 19:52 So I think we’re just going to see a lot of really cool research that backs up some time-tested things as we move forward.
Dr. Gundry: 19:58 Right. I’ll add one more thing. My wife’s mother required that everybody has sleep with the window open, even in the middle of winter in Connecticut. And to this day, we always sleep with the window open. And I think your point is well taken. Our houses are toxic environments and they’re so well insulated now that nothing ever gets out. So crack the window open near your bed. And again, listen to your grandmother or great-grandmother, they probably knew. There you go. So what’s the listener going to do? Are there things, for instance in household products or in skincare products that you want a consumer to know if they’re picking up and looking at something on the label, are there absolute run high do not come near these products?
Katie Wells: 21:00 Yeah. Well, and like how you talk about in food, it’s almost always easier to say the good stuff versus like all the bad stuff to watch out for, because as you probably know, there’s over 80,000 chemicals that are found in these things, and very few of them are tested. A lot of them are not approved in Europe, but they’re approved here. So by category ,there’s just a lot of different ones. For instance, a lot of cleaners have VOCs or chlorine or things that off gas into the home. Which we now know sometimes indoor air can be up to 100 times more polluted than outdoor air.
Katie Wells: 21:32 Which is really scary because we’re also not spending enough time outside anymore. So we’re inside breathing that all the time. And so that’s why I say it’s almost always easier to choose the good one and just get rid of all of the bad ones at one time. There’s also things like triclosan, which has been in beauty products and cleaning products-
Dr. Gundry: 21:50 And toothpaste.
Katie Wells: 21:51 And toothpaste. Yeah. And it used to be antibacterial. But we’re now finding that it can have reproductive and neurological and all kinds of consequences, and that they’re saying statistically you don’t even need an antibacterial substance if you wash your hands with soap and water the right way. It does the same thing. And we don’t have to expose our kids to that. I would actually go a step further and say, we actually want our kids to develop a healthy microbiome on their skin and in their guts. So I’m a big fan of sending my kids outside to play in the dirt, get dirty, and I’m not sitting there and sanitizing them every time they touch the dog or the dirt or anything. Certainly when they go to the bathroom, wash your hands.
Katie Wells: 22:27 But I’m not a germaphobe when it comes to the rest of it because I think it is important to interact with our environment in a bacterial way. And I think that antibacterial substances, I’ve kind of undone that for a lot of us. Additionally, a lot of household cleaners and beauty products for that matter have artificial fragrances. So there are ways to get natural fragrances that are safe, but most of these compounds and these products use harmful fragrances. And this is not just air freshener, but things like laundry detergent and dryer sheets.
Katie Wells: 22:58 If you smell your laundry detergent after your clothes have been washed, that’s a special kind of VOC that is designed to stay. It’s a set-based VOC that stays in the clothing so that it smells good. But if you’re wearing that, you are both inhaling it to a chronic low level exposure in your lungs. It’s also on your skin, which is your biggest organ, so you have constant low level exposure on your skin. So you’re getting that from a double perspective. And I know that you probably are the best I’ve ever heard explaining how food, how it can lead to autoimmune disease and how it can cause that low level chronic inflammation.
Katie Wells: 23:30 And I think we also, like you to talk about the deadly disruptors , you have to be careful about your environment as well because those things can also really cause that chronic low level exposure that over time really leads to inflammation and all kinds of problems in the body. And another one I’m really careful about, I know we’re going to talk about it in depth is plastic in general because I think with kids, that’s when we have to be so, so careful about because it is an endocrine disruptor, especially pre-puberty.
Katie Wells: 23:57 So for those of us with little kids, it’s a really important thing to address, not just… Even having plastic in the environment can be harmful, but certainly, a plastic is touching your food or your body. And we don’t think about the things like a lot of our clothes anymore are made out of plastic chemicals. Again, at the end of it, I always go back to go simpler, have fewer articles of clothing, but choose natural fibers, have fewer cleaning products, but choose natural ones. Have fewer beauty products and just use natural things like olive oil or make your own or use natural cleaners instead.
Dr. Gundry: 24:30 Yeah. Sophia Loren attributed her great just skin to olive oil, and that’s all she ever put on her skin. And when I go to the Italian beaches or the French beaches, I’m fascinated with the number of people who have a bottle of olive oil on the beach. And first, they should be drinking it, but they are also putting it on their skin. It has absolutely some amazing properties. But I think your point is really important because our protective agencies like the FDA or the department of agriculture number one, as I’ve said, many people have said, they are controlled by interests that have nothing to do with our health, big pharma, big medicine, big agriculture.
Dr. Gundry: 25:22 But I think the important thing is most of the testing of these compounds, naively thought that the minute amount of toxins in these compounds were so insignificant that there’s nothing that these could be doing to you. But what no one anticipated was that these small amounts of hormone disruptors that are constantly applied, they are worn every day or in the air that we breathe every day or that are wrapping our organic boneless chicken breasts with phthalates for instance, have consequences on disrupting our hormonal systems.
Dr. Gundry: 26:12 And it wasn’t until salamanders and frogs were being born with four eyes and five legs downstream from plants that were dumping legal amounts of these chemicals into the water. And then all of a sudden we, “Whoa, we’ve got these crazy monster fish and monster amphibian. How did that happen?” So we, as you pointed out, the Europeans, even the Canadians are so far ahead of us, and you mentioned BPA, and I think that’s a really good point to make, tell us about BPA, I talk a lot about it as one of my favorite disruptors, but plastics, talk about that.
Katie Wells: 27:02 Yeah. I am a huge proponent of getting rid of the plastics, both from a personal perspective and an environmental perspective. I think it’s a really important thing. And to your point that you just mentioned, I find it ironic that so many of us will, like people will take a Motrin, just 200 milligrams, it’s tiny pill and expect it to take their pain away, but then they’ll ignore the potential that something they’re putting in their body every single day in such a tiny amount could have an effect.
Katie Wells: 27:25 And I think as humans it’s easy to fall into that, “I didn’t notice an immediate effect, therefore it’s fine.” Or, “My parents did it and they survived, so it’s fine.” But I think for moms especially, we’re in an era of, we have to take extreme personal responsibility in this. We can’t wait, like you said, for the agencies to warn us that something’s bad because as we’ve all seen on the commercials, that’s when you see the class action lawsuits. When they finally realize it’s bad, it’s too late often, and we’re the ones who are responsible for our choices and our families.
Katie Wells: 27:54 And so like you mentioned, BPA is certainly one of those. A lot of people don’t know that BPA used to be given to cows and chickens to make them gain weight before slaughter so that they could charge more for the meat. So it’s a known hormone disruptor and it mimics the effect of estrogen in the body. And this is not just BPA because people now say, “Oh, if it’s BPA free, it’s fine.” But you also actually want to look out for all the bisphenol family. So BPF and S, and there’s, I think like dozens now.
Katie Wells: 28:19 You want to watch out for all of them because they mimic the effect of those hormones in the body. And as anybody who’s ever struggled with PCOS or hormone issue as you know, you don’t want that estrogen, progesterone, luteinizing hormone balance to get messed up. Too much estrogen can be really problematic. And for guys, you certainly don’t want too much estrogen because that leads to abdominal fat and all kinds of problems, reduction in testosterone, things you don’t want.
Katie Wells: 28:43 And unfortunately with plastic, that’s not even where it stops. So you mentioned dilates, and like you said, the European union banned these, Canada’s very careful about these. They’re especially considered harmful to men and boys, especially if they’re in utero exposure because they can lead to, from what I’ve read, immune system impairment, reduced testosterone, like I said, fertility problems is one of the reasons these chemicals they’re saying why we’re seeing much higher percentage of female amphibians and water animals because these are now getting into the water supply.
Katie Wells: 29:13 And the really scary part is that we now live in an environment where, essentially our planet is saturated with plastic byproducts. They’ve now found plastic under like 30 feet of ice in Antarctica, which means the planet is saturated. And unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be getting any better. We’re using trillions of plastic bags every year, billions are made per minute. We are throwing away plastic bottles. And that’s actually the most common type of waste after cigarette bucks.
Katie Wells: 29:38 And the bad part is just it’s easy to ignore once it’s gone, we think like, “Oh, we throw it away, we recycled it.” Plastic takes so long to break down and then even when it does, it’s toxic. So all of these compounds are increasingly getting into our water supply. Some people have heard about microplastics and how those are now saturating our system, basically every square mile of the ocean or what I’ve read has about 46,000 pieces of plastic floating in it on average.
Katie Wells: 30:04 This is a time when it’s not just about convenience and it’s not just about us, I think that removing plastics is the right thing to do, certainly, for our children’s health. There’s so much research backing that up, but also just as citizens of this world, we have an obligation to really reduce our plastic use because it’s become a huge impending problem.
Dr. Gundry: 30:23 Yeah. The nanoplastic particle scare, there are plastic in our fish that we eat and there is plastic in us. I don’t know, come on, Wellness Mama, maybe you will be eating so much plastic in everything that we eat that our skin will be perfect because it’ll be all plasticized. Maybe it’s even a good , we’ll just turn into a perfectly preserved piece of plastic.
Katie Wells: 30:52 Facelift from the inside out.
Dr. Gundry: 30:54 Yes. Or , I sense some marketing idea here. We talk about this, you talk about this, I talk about this, many of our colleagues talk about this. We talk about how everything is dangerous and it makes you just want to grow up in a little hole and not even poke your head out anymore. But you want to keep it simple, so what are some simple things? How do you get plastics out of your house?
Katie Wells: 31:27 Yeah, that’s a great question. And like I said, I covered a lot in the Walnut on lifestyle detox, if you really want to go deep on it. But also when it comes to… You’re right, it’s so overwhelming and intimidating when you try to tackle all of it. And unfortunately, I think stress and guilt are also two of the more dangerous things that we can encounter. So I’m really big on finding an approach, like I said, that is sustainable, that does not cause stress. I often say that worry is wasted imagination., it’s a great Walt Disney quote.
Katie Wells: 31:52 I don’t think worrying about it and stressing about it is going to fix it, I think, like I said, make a plan and start small and implement. As you go through and finish products, just don’t replace them or replace them with better products, don’t expect it to look perfect overnight. And I’m really big on having systems in every aspect of daily life. And the way I came about this was kind of roundabout. A few years ago I was running the blog, I had all the kids, and I was trying to do everything myself and I reached a point of extreme burnout and probably pretty close to a nervous breakdown.
Katie Wells: 32:24 And I actually came really close to deleting the blog because I realized I couldn’t keep juggling all these things, and I certainly wasn’t going to let my family fall through the cracks, so the blog had to go. But it also made me realize in that moment, I was like, “The blog doesn’t stress me out, work doesn’t stress out. Why is that? Why am I always stressed at home but not at work?” And I realized that at work, I ran everything by systems. Everybody knew their responsibilities, when it needed to be done, how it needed to be done. There were goals, there were objectives, there were measurables, we tracked the important things.
Katie Wells: 32:55 At home, I was trying to manage eight people’s lives in my head without systems and make sure everybody got everywhere on time, that all the meals were cooked, all in my head. So I basically applied my business system to my house and kind of implemented those KPIs and those goals and objectives in every aspect of whole life, realizing it wasn’t the actual doing that was the stressful part, it was the having to remember to do all the things. And I think this is a really big key, especially for moms because a lot of times moms are the ones trying to manage everything and trying to do that all in your head can eventually get really overwhelming.
Katie Wells: 33:30 And so I encourage moms to go through the different sectors of their life, whether it be cleaning, meal planning, dealing with the kids, and create repeatable systems so that you take the remembering and the guesswork and the mental energy out of it. And that lets you be able to implement much more effectively and without the stress. So that might be just create a one week meal plan that meets all of your criteria, gets all the vegetables, and then just repeat it until you get the hang of it. That way…
Katie Wells: 33:56 That your shopping list is the same every single week, you know what you’re cooking on what day. If you have kids old enough, get them involved and let them help you so that it’s not all on you, but just create a one week meal plan versus trying to think of, “How am I going to eat healthy for the rest of my life?” Do it one week a time. When it comes to cleaning, like I said, as you run out of things, replace it with those natural concentrates and then it’s just so much simpler and takes the stress out and get your kids involved with that too, especially once you switch to natural cleaners, there’s no concerns about your kids touching it or using it to clean, so you’re able to involve them a lot more.
Katie Wells: 34:30 So I’m really big on create those systems, they’re going to look different for everybody, but in those different sectors of life, whether it’s food, whether it’s cleaning and personal care, and then just repeat them until their habits.
Dr. Gundry: 34:41 Yeah. And it often takes, research has shown that in a new habit can take up to a six weeks to establish a new habit. Mark Twain, in my first book, I quoted Mark Twain, that, “Habits are habits, they’re not to be taken lightly. Rather than thrown out the window like bath water, they must be coaxed down the stairs one step at a time.” And I think that was brilliant on his part to realize that, and you certainly figured that out as well.
Dr. Gundry: 35:12 The other thing, speaking of my first book, I found and my research that families in general, end up eating about five different meals on a routine basis. And that becomes kind of the set, and it’s really kind of fun and I actually urge families to look at… You will find that there are set things and if there’s five of them and you can establish that pattern, it’s so easy to say, “Okay five things are set. I know how to do this.” You can involve the kids. My grandchildren love to cook, my mother had me in the kitchen from day one.
Dr. Gundry: 35:59 I’ll never forget, I’ve told this story when my wife and I were dating many years ago, we had her over at our house and my mother cooked a meal and I sat there and said, “Oh, I would have changed this spice. You should have done something like this.” And penny said, “Can I talk to you for a second?” And we stepped down. She says, “What are you doing criticizing your mother like that?” And I said, “What do you mean? We’re critiquing the menu.” And I said, “We do this all the time, she learns, I learn and we’re both doing this together.”
Dr. Gundry: 36:36 She’s. “Oh.” And she said, “I thought you were putting your mother down in front of me.” “This is normal dinner table conversation.” So yeah, I can’t stress enough that you’ll find family meals that everybody eats, and we’d love to experiment. Yeah, I think that’s a good point. And I mentioned this in the book, The Plant Paradox Family Cookbook, you always give options, and start with one thing that everybody can agree on. 95% of the stuff doesn’t have to leave your home immediately. Is that what you’re finding?
Katie Wells: 37:17 Absolutely. Yeah. Start with the positive and then build, and kids are so incredibly adaptable. I find that they adjust actually much quicker than adults usually. I think you’re right, I think most families do repeat those same few meals over and over. So just find the good ones and repeat those. And also for parents especially, remember that it’s not just about changing our habits, we’re building these lifelong habits for our kids. And of course, we want them to enter adulthood knowing how to cook and knowing how to choose the best foods, and also knowing how to take care of a home and to do laundry.
Katie Wells: 37:47 These are all skills we want to pass onto our kids. And so I think, yeah, I think that’s an excellent point.
Dr. Gundry: 37:52 Yeah. my grandson who’s now three, we have pictures of him that we posted on the internet where he was given a plate choice of broccoli, and I think some cutoff pork spare ribs. And he kept pushing the pork away and grabbing the broccoli at age one and a half. And we keep thinking the kids come out of the box needing prep macaroni and cheese and chicken McNuggets, and nobody told that to a little Japanese kid who thinks seaweed is the best tasting thing in the world. It’s what we provide them to try. And it’s amazing how flexible kids are if you give them the right stuff.
Katie Wells: 38:35 Yeah. And not just provide them, I think it’s also really huge, we have to be the example even more. I think kids, we have to educate, certainly teach them, teach them gently and explain why these foods are good for you. But even more so, be the example because they will do what we do way more than what we say. And I’ve always done that with food, but this really hit home for me recently. I had always hoped because I never thought I could sing, so I’d always hoped my kids would want to take voice lessons. So for years, I would gently suggest, “You guys want to take voice lessons?” And they didn’t.
Katie Wells: 39:03 And then I realized I’m the one who wants to take voice lessons and not my kids. So I took voice lessons and now they’re all interested in singing or like if I sit down and draw, they all want to do art. So it’s so much more what we do than what we say. And if we make those mealtimes and healthy foods a positive experience and make it focused on nourishing our bodies, they pick that up so quickly.
Dr. Gundry: 39:24 In conclusion on that, be the change you wish to see in the world, right?
Katie Wells: 39:29 Absolutely.
Dr. Gundry: 39:30 Okay. What’s next on the horizon? I see you on the website, you bust out cutting edge health strategies and devices, you like red light therapy or near infrared light therapy like Dave Asprey or other biotech hackers do.
Katie Wells: 39:48 I do, and it’s part of my routine, I will say. What’s next for me on the horizon is I decided that I wanted to tackle the biggest defenders for families, products that are in our home. So I felt like there were a lot of natural products and then there were these conventional products that worked really well and in certain categories, there were not products that did both. And so I’m working on actually creating these products and making them available to families. So it will be launching with, things like toothpaste, shampoo and conditioner, the things that families use over and over.
Katie Wells: 40:15 With the idea of, turning on the head the idea that we absorb a lot of what we put on our skin. So not only is it going to be nothing toxic, we’re going to put the good stuff in it so that you can absorb that in contact with it. But I think I would be… I’m fan of testing out all these cool like health devices, but I do think at the end of the day, it’s the simple things. It’s the food, the sleep, the movement, the sunshine, the lack of stress in the community that really are the biggest needle movers for our health. But I think it’s fun to try all of these things.
Katie Wells: 40:43 I’m personally experimenting also with heart rate variability. I think that’s going to be a thing that we see more research on, and it’s a fun metric to kind of play with and see and it’s correlated as I’m sure you could explain better with longevity and a lot of things. So I’m working on playing with optimizing heart rate variability and using things like saunas, which I’m a huge fan of, high intensity interval exercise in short amounts, fasting in certain forms. It’s usually kind of personally thinking out on that right now.
Dr. Gundry: 41:09 All right. Since my latest book came out, The Longevity Paradox, I’ve always been interested in having my guests help with longevity. So what’s one thing listeners can do today to live a longer, healthier life? One thing, that’s all I want.
Katie Wells: 41:29 It’s tough to dial down on one thing. I think the one that has made a huge difference for me, I wanted to pick one that was easy and free and that can be done as a family. I didn’t want to give anybody something that costs money. And so for me, what I’ve noticed, the biggest change even in my lab results and certainly in my sleep, is to get outdoor light every day, preferably in the morning and preferably while moving. So in the first couple of hours of the day, spending time outside.
Katie Wells: 41:55 And sometimes that’s drinking a cup of tea with my kids out on the patio, sometimes that’s going for a walk or sprinting, but getting outside in the sunshine natural light, which affects circadian rhythm, which affects hormones. I’ve seen changes in like cortisol levels and in other hormones that I track, and also in my sleep. So if I had to pick one best, the one that cascades into… You’re less likely to maybe have cravings if your cortisol’s in the right range, you’re going to sleep better if you get sunshine during the day, you’re hopefully breathing while you’re outside and getting the fresh air and also slowing your breathing. So to me, that is kind of my all encompassing, really free simple tip that makes a big difference.
Dr. Gundry: 42:34 All right. And I’m going to add to that, get a dog.
Katie Wells: 42:35 I love that.
Dr. Gundry: 42:36 Because the dog will get you outside, they will not allow you not to get them outside. And it turns out that families who have dogs, interestingly enough, have far less allergies and far less eczema than families who don’t have dogs. And this whole idea of, “Oh, I have to have a hypoallergenic dog,” believe me, dogs bring in wonderful microbiome, they track it in, they give it to you and give it to your kids. And yeah, and they pull you outside. So you have to get a dog.
Katie Wells: 43:13 I love it.
Dr. Gundry: 43:14 Okay. Katie, it’s been a pleasure talking to you today. You’ve kind of told listeners where they can find you, but let’s do it one more time.
Katie Wells: 43:24 It’s easy. It’s Wellness Mama everywhere. So the main hub is wellnessmama.com. That’s where all the recipes I mentioned live, but any social media, I’m Wellness Mama. And the books are all titled by Wellness Mama as well. So if you search that, you’ll find all of them.
Dr. Gundry: 43:35 Wow. So just Wellness Mama. That’s perfect. Okay. That’s all from Dr. Gundry’s Podcast. We’ll see you next week.
Dr. Gundry: 43:46 Thanks for joining me on this episode of the Dr. Gundry Podcast. Before you go, I just wanted to remind you that you can find the show on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. And if you want to watch each episode of the Dr. Gundry Podcast, you can always find me on YouTube at youtube.com/DrGundry because I’m Dr. Gundry and I’m always looking out for you.