Cata, let’s start by sharing the past 24 hours of your life with us, please?
I usually wake up and give thanks for a new day. Starting my day with gratitude makes a big difference. I then go for a 4-mile run or a HIIT workout. This is the time where I clear my mind, meditate and get my endorphins for the day.
After my workout, I usually have a homemade smoothie with organic frozen berries, grass-fed whey protein, chia seeds, and water. The smoothie is full of antioxidants and easy for the gut to digest.
The afternoons are for meetings with clients, working on their clinical cases and doing some research. I love learning new things related to functional medicine every day.
Afterward, I like to read or listen to a podcast. Some of my favorites right now are Broken Brain, The Doctors Farmacy and The Doctor’s Kitchen.
Dinner is always early. This is so I can allow my stomach 12 hours to digest food and rest. Dinner is usually a big salad with wild-caught salmon, wild-caught mackerel, or shiitake mushrooms, topped with cold-pressed olive oil, lime and Himalayan salt. I’m a big fan of high-quality fats like olive oil, avocados, and nuts.
Before going to bed, I have a cup of chamomile tea and put some lavender in the oil diffuser to help me unwind and relax.
So, you’re a functional and holistic nutritionist, what does that entail?
I approach nutrition from a holistic point, meaning that I not only take care of what my clients are eating, but how they are sleeping, exercising, and managing their stress levels. We are a whole being and all our systems are interconnected.
I then run advanced functional tests to really understand what is happening with my clients’ health, so I can find out the root cause of any symptoms presented. These tests are so revelatory and life-changing!
You’re in a very progressive field. How did you find out about it? Where did the inspiration stem from?
I’ve always been passionate about health and science. I’m fascinated by how complex and perfect our bodies are. I started as a health coach, and after many master’s certifications, I am now a functional nutritionist.
I also had the opportunity to work with Dr. Mark Hyman’s team at some point. I experienced behind the scenes of ‘The Broken Brain’ series, which was really eye-opening. I was especially interested in how much we can do, by always looking for the ‘root cause’, then approaching it in a holistic way.
We love your passion for ‘inflammation and digestive health’. Why do you think inflammation is so relevant now? And why are people yet to realize the value of this topic?
Inflammation is becoming very familiar within the holistic world, now that many studies have shown a direct correlation between inflammation and disease. Being exposed to high levels of stress, toxins, pollutants and food irritants are some of the main causes of intracellular inflammation without noticing it.
It is a pretty “new” concept healthwise and it is hard to determine or find out by just having obvious symptoms, so that is why many people don’t correlate inflammation with the disease.
In order to find out where and why inflammation is happening, functional practitioners need to dig deeper and connect the dots for the clients.
What does inflammation feel like? And why is it responsible for causing disease?
Inflammation can be presented in so many different ways, from a food reaction, or stomach pain from something you ate 2-3 days prior, to joint pain, skin reactions, mental fog, and depression. The list goes on.
Inflammation is the body’s healthy response to take care of the damage. It is normal when it comes and goes in response to injury or infection.
When inflammation becomes chronic, however, it is a sign that there is ongoing damage occurring. This chronic inflammation is an aspect of almost every chronic disease and has been linked to gut issues, cardiovascular disease, blood sugar dysregulation, certain cancers, and autoimmune disease.
Why do you feel as though western medicine practices are yet to adopt the ‘anti-inflammatory movement’ to target digestive health issues? And how can it adopt an Eastern approach?
The western medicine approach is more symptomatic rather than looking for the root causes of any disease.
Western medicine is a very advanced technology. It is great at treating extreme and advanced cases. I think western medicine should incorporate the ‘looking for the root cause’ approach from eastern medicine.
Making sure the person is eating food accordingly to their body, optimizing detoxification pathways and practicing stress release such as meditation, can improve someone’s health drastically.
There is a lot of wisdom in natural healing ways that technology can’t simply do. Treating people in an honest and transparent way is key. People do not always need medications or complicated procedures in order to improve their health.
The argument that red meat is ‘inflammatory’ has caused a wedge amongst the digestive health community. Where do you stand on this matter?
In my own personal case, I was vegan for two years and pescatarian for 3 years, but after doing a lot of research and taking in consideration the nutrition deficiencies and hormonal imbalances I was presenting, I came up to the conclusion that my body was missing important nutrients found in red meat such as B12, iron, and other minerals.
Red meat contains primarily heme iron, a bioavailable form that is absorbed and utilized much more efficiently than the non-heme iron found in plant foods. This essential mineral plays a huge role in our overall health and especially in women.
I think it is all about context and food quality. I personally don’t think that grass-fed red meat causes inflammation itself and taking into consideration the status of our microbiome is a key component to determine if eating red meat will cause inflammation or not. More than generalizing the idea of red meat is “inflammatory”, I think we should consider it at an individual level since we are all different and respond differently to certain types of foods.
We shouldn’t eat red meat every day, it should be “approached” more as a “condiment” rather than the main ingredient of the meal in order to get those key nutrients and minerals we need.
We know that functional medicine works, but we would love for you to share a success story that you’ve had with a patient who was dealing with chronic digestive health issues, please?
Five months ago, I had a client that was presenting chronic bloating after eating, constipation and fatigue. She had done a round of antibiotics which initially helped, but then all her symptoms came back.
After listening carefully to her health history, I run some advanced functional tests that allowed me to know what was happening with her digestive system.
I discovered that she had H.Pylori – a type of bacteria, multiple yeast strains, low beneficial flora, and her inflammation marker – SIgA was sky high over 5000! So I started her in a 3-month healing protocol using natural agents like herbs and natural supplements, a specific diet according to her food sensitivities and stress management with some stress relief techniques.
After 3 months, all her symptoms resolved, not only all her bloating and constipation went away, and she got her energy back, but her skin appearance and mood improved drastically.
She couldn’t be happier!
Okay, now for the fun stuff! What is currently in your fridge? We want to hear about all the goodies you eat to keep your belly happy!
Tons of veggies. I’m currently obsessed with collard green wraps, so easy to make and rich in fiber and phytonutrients.
Bone broth and collagen, are great to help heal the gut.
Fruits like papaya and pineapple, are full of antioxidants and have proteolytic enzymes that help with digestion and reduce inflammation.
I always have olives, nuts and avocados on hand, they go well with any snack or a main meal, and help me keep satisfied for longer.
If you could empower a room full of humans with just a few words, what would you say?
Follow your heart and do what you are passionate about!