#53 Keto, Fasting & Ayurveda for Women - with Dr. Stephen Cabral

The Holistic Nutritionists Podcast


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"Through overindulgence, alcohol, and processed foods, you can put on a lot of weight that's not your natural for your genotype. So Ayurvedic medicine (and Ayurveda for women's health) literally translates to the science of life. It's the study of essentially maintaining balance in your life."

Dr. Stephen Cabral | Doctor of Naturopathy, Ayurvedic & Functional Medicine Practitioner Tweet This!

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In Episode 53 of The Holistic Nutritionists Podcast, Natalie Douglas, Kate Callaghan, and their guest, Dr. Stephen Cabral (Doctor of Naturopathy, Ayurvedic & Functional Medicine Practitioner) discuss the role of Ayurveda for women’s health and what’s needed in an Ayurvedic diet to maintain balance in your life.

  • Functional Medicine Vs. Ayurveda and how and why Stephen uses both
  • What the Ayurvedic Tridoshas and doshas are, aka your natural “body type” and why its important to know
  • The benefits of functional testing and why its worth the investment
  • Keto for women and why it fails long term
  • How stress hormones affect weight loss efforts
  • Intermittent fasting for women and finding the sweet spot
  • Where to start when you feel overwhelmed 
  • Is a plant based diet the way to go?
  • How much animal protein we should be eating
  • Why starting the day with a smoothie can benefit your whole system 
  • Stephens book The Rain Barrel Effect
  • How to learn more about and from this brilliant practitioner
  • Special offer for online consultation with Nat 

Dr. Stephen Cabral
Doctor of Naturopathy, Ayurvedic & Functional Medicine Practitioner

Intro 0:00
Hello and welcome to The Holistic Nutritionists Podcast, with your hosts Natalie K. Douglas, Thyroid Healer, and Kate Callaghan, The Holistic Nutritionist. Nat and Kate are degree-qualified dietitians and nutritionists, certified fitness instructors, speakers, and authors. If you love unfiltered banter, unedited bloopers, and authentic heart-sharing, then we are your ladies! Now it’s time to sit back, relax, and get ready for our latest tips on living your healthiest life possible.

Natalie K. Douglas 0:34
Hi, everybody. Welcome back to the podcast. We have a really exciting guest today, who is Dr. Stephen Cabral, and he is a certified naturopathic doctor and founder of the Cabral Wellness Institute, and StephenCabral.com, and author of The Rain Barrel Effect. At 17 years old, Stephen was diagnosed with a life-altering illness and given no hope for recovery. Every day he suffered endlessly for many years. It was only after Stephen traveled all over the world and discovered how to combine ancient Ayurvedic healing practices with state-of-the-art naturopathic and functional medicine. Did he understand how to fully rebalance the body and reenergize it with life. Today, in Dr. Cabral’s online and Boston practice where he and his team have completed over 200,000 client appointments. He uses functional medicine, lab testing, and personalized wellness plans to help people rebalance their mind and body to recover from autoimmune thyroid fatigue, hormone weight gain, digestive mood, skin, and dozens of other hard to treat health conditions. His mission is to help people understand that there is always a reason why you have not achieved your ideal wellness or weight loss goals and that you can, and will get well again. Stephen, welcome to the show, and thanks for taking time out of your very busy schedule to chat with us and our listeners today.

Dr. Stephen Cabral 2:01
It’s a pleasure to be here. Thank you very much for having me on.

Natalie K. Douglas 2:03
My pleasure. So before we jump into the questions, we always ask all our guests, what did you have for breakfast this morning?

Dr. Stephen Cabral 2:12
That’s an easy one for me since my breakfast is the same exact thing, six or seven days out of the week. And so what I do is I live by the mantra of getting into your 7 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables every day. And I know that the only way I’m going to be able to do that is to get some at breakfast. So I do a berry smoothie every single morning and I actually have in the wintertime, some warm oatmeal on the side to add a little bit more heat to my body too. So that’s what I have essentially every day of the week.

Natalie K. Douglas 2:44
I love it, sounds delicious. I’m looking forward to my breakfast after this. It’s early in Australia here but later where you are. So that’s making me hungry. That sounds good. So today we really are doing a bit of a mixed bag of questions because you have such a broad scope of of knowledge. And I really love the way you practice. And we were discussing just before we jumped on the podcast that Stephen and I have a very similar approach to to treating people and treating them as an individual and really trying not to be too dogmatic in any one way but recognizing that there is benefits to a lot of, you know, different styles of medicine. So one particular thing I want to focus on is first just defining a little bit about what exactly is functional medicine for those people who don’t really understand the concept of it?

Dr. Stephen Cabral 3:36
Sure, so functional medicine in the US is almost synonymous with naturopathic medicine, and or at least a doctoral degree in naturopathic medicine. So what you’re doing is you are looking at what are called subclinical lab tests in order not to diagnose disease, but rather find the underlying root cause imbalances that will later in your life, create disease or the disease or weight gain that you have right now. So for example, weight gain could come from an underactive thyroid, but that underactive thyroid could come from an overactive HPA axis meaning like your cortisol levels get elevated because of some form of stress, whether it be viral, heavy metal, relationships, etc. So in functional medicine, what we do is we look at why a person has bloating, rather than just diagnosed them with IBS, we figure out is it Candida? Is it H. pylori? Is it SIBO, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, or is it parasites? And so functional medicine is it means getting to the root cause of what the imbalances through running at-home lab tests that anyone could do anywhere in the world.

Natalie K. Douglas 4:45
Music to my ears, and that’s so true. And I, I’ll just echo what you said around really focusing on the root cause, because, as you said, it’s kind of easy to, for people to think, oh, I have an underactive thyroid, and it must just be my thyroid. So I’ll just take some thyroid medication, and then it’ll be all good. But really, we know that, you know, the thyroid is somewhat of the canary in the coal mine. And it’s really that, you know, it’s one of the first things to start being affected when other other parts of your body are out of balance. So I love I love all that information you just gave there. Now kind of in I guess, I know what we kind of talked about in your introduction is that you also use a lot of principles of Ayurvedic medicine. And a lot of people might not know what that is. So can you explain what that is? Oh, just in, I guess, a nutshell for people who haven’t maybe haven’t heard of what of what it is before.

Dr. Stephen Cabral 5:41
Sure, Ayurvedic medicine originated in Kerala, India, which is the south of India and obviously, then it spread throughout Indian and it even kind of made its way. This is 6000 years ago, but it’s made its way over many thousands of years to China, as well, where, you know, its roots started with traditional Chinese medicine. So in China, they had traditional Chinese medicine, but a lot of that knowledge came from the ancient Ayurvedic-based medicine as well. So the unique thing about Ayurvedic medicine, though, is I mean, there are eight branches to Ayurveda, meaning there’s the yoga-based branch, believe it or not, it’s a plastic surgery, even this many, you know, thousands of years ago. So it’s the original form of medicine but its greatest secrets, why in understanding body types, which we’re just beginning to realize a lot of that today. So what we have and Ayurveda taught us, this is something called the Prakriti in Ayurvedic medicine, we call it our genotype. It’s essentially how we were born. It’s our body. It’s, it is our Constitution, our body type. And then there’s something called the Prakriti, and that is our phenotype. It’s what we become. So we know that we can be a person that was let’s just say naturally, thinner joints, longer neck, more oval shape face, more of the Vata based body type. But you know that that body type shouldn’t put on weight very easily. However, through overindulgence, and alcohol, and processed foods, you put on a lot of weight that can happen but that’s not your natural genotype. That is your phenotype of what you become, because of environment, lifestyle, etc. So Ayurvedic medicine, it literally translates to the science of life and is the study of essentially maintaining balance in your life.

Natalie K. Douglas 7:29
Right. And so you touched on one of the body types there, which was Vata, what are the other two body types, or is there more than two because you can have combinations of different ones, is that correct?

Dr. Stephen Cabral 7:40
That’s correct. So there’s three main types called the doshas. It’s the Vata, the Pitta, and the Kapha. And in modern-day, we know them as the ectomorph, or we’ll just call it like the smaller joint, the thinner joints. For example, let’s just take a person’s calves. When you look at the lower leg of the calf, some people have very thin calves, and no matter how much exercise they did and know much how much work, you know, they did, they would always have very thin calves, for the most part. Now, can you do exercise and build them up? Yes, but it’s not their natural constitution. Again, they’re changing their genotype to a certain phenotype, then there’s the opposite side of the spectrum called the endomorph, so ectomorph, and then endomorph, no one body type, by the way, is better than another, it just is, it just, that’s the way that it is. And so the endomorph has, let’s just say, more muscular or more larger calves, and it actually kind of goes more towards their ankle. So they have a lower and larger calf base muscle, and the pits of body type of the middle would be, have more definition and muscular development of the calf. So what we look and again, that’s just one part of the body. But what we’re understanding is that, you know, we can have two people, they’re both 5’8. And one woman is a great weight at 165 pounds at 5’8. And another woman is a great weighing at 125 pounds. But they’re both in their ideal body weight, right? But what happens is, one has a different structure to the other. No one’s saying that one’s better than another. And that is why you have to understand the principle of the Constitutions so that you don’t feel you’re supposed to be another body type. And that you actually, I would say, not only it, except whether whatever body type it is, but actually have gratitude that feels a blessing because so much comes along with each one.

Natalie K. Douglas 9:28
Yeah, absolutely. I love that because it is with so in this society, we’re so pushed into thinking that there’s just this one, you know, maybe one or two body types that are ideal and that if you don’t fit into that, then you need to work, you know, against whatever is natural to you in order to try and pursue that body type. But I completely agree with you, I think that it’s really about okay, understanding what what does my natural body type look like and how can I rebalance my body to get back to that, whatever that is. So, you know, I know that it’s a very complex kind of, you know, medicine, and people spend lots and lots of years studying it. But I know that there is going to be a question from the listeners in terms of well or how can I, you know, understand what body type I am? Are there any reliable tools out there in order, like in like in order for people to understand what their body type is, or do you have any resources on that that I could refer people back to?

Dr. Stephen Cabral 10:31
Absolutely. So my podcast is a daily show. But what I tried to do right around Episode 900, was do a once a week on Ayurveda, it’s a very in-depth, a very complicated topic. And what I don’t want to see happen because I have so much respect for Ayurveda. I’ve been to India multiple times to intern there, same with Sri Lanka, is to boil it down to like a little quiz, you know, and it’s like, it’s fun, it’s cheeky, it’s a good time. But most people are not going to get their dosha or body type right through a quiz. So what I did, and maybe I can get you the show notes, or afterwards for the link, is I put up celebrity body types, at least here in the US. And then you can kind of like match like, okay, well, what does my body look like? Does it kind of look like this person or this person, and I put celebrities or people that people might recognize, you know, at their best. And you can see that there’s all different spectrums. And like you said, there’s not just three, there’s actually 10. So there’s variations of the three, almost no one’s a pure ectomorph or pure endomorph. So we can see is like all of these people are a body type that many people would love to have. And that’s why you can actually match yours up to a celebrity and a book that you could get started on this is actually by Dr. Vasant Lad, and it’s called Ayurveda: The Science of Self-Healing and there’s another good book called Prakriti by Dr. Robert E. Svoboda. And so those are both excellent beginner books for Ayurveda.

Natalie K. Douglas 12:04
Oh, wonderful. I’ll pop that in the show notes for anyone interested in. Yeah, definitely. I mean, I’ve had to go with doing some of those quizzes, and it can be quite confusing. I think one of the challenges is getting people to think about what their body is naturally, not what it is when it’s out of balance, because for the most part, people who are doing those quizzes are doing it because they feel like their health is suffering in some way. And they want to rebalance it, but it’s really hard to get out of your own head and be like, okay, like, what, what actually is my natural tendency, not, what do I look like or feel like now that I am out of balance. So I thought I just mentioned that is something for people to remind themselves of if you are, you know, looking at those photos, or doing a quiz or, you know, reading the book and trying to understand it a bit more, would that be correct, Stephen? You’re really thinking about well, what, what would I naturally look like before, you know, before I became imbalanced?

Dr. Stephen Cabral 13:04
Absolutely, correct. 100%. And I’ll tell you right now, almost no one, and so don’t feel bad, gets their body type correct. Because you’re you’re also thinking about what would the ideal you be as well. And you’re thinking about the thing that you suffer from just like you mentioned. So a lot of people believe they’re the Vata based body type, because the quizzes go by mindset. So who isn’t thinking all the time? Who doesn’t have some sleep issues? Sometimes, like, those are all Vata based things. But the other is like, then they’ll say, oh, do you have constipation? Well, constipation doesn’t necessarily mean body type sure can be more a Vata. But what if you have SIBO or what if you know, you have a lot of stress and you get, you know, some backup and you get some lack of peristaltic moving in the intestines. So the quizzes are very difficult to go by. I would rather people look at their overall body type structure and start there.

Natalie K. Douglas 13:55
Yeah. And I guess that kind of leads us into my next question, which is really about, I want you to explain why you choose to combine both functional medicine and and Ayurvedic medicine? And do you feel they ever contradict each other and how do you kind of navigate the two worlds?

Dr. Stephen Cabral 14:14
It’s yeah, that’s a great question. So what I look at it is this, functional medicine gives me the data to be able to prove and explain to people exactly what’s going on in their body. But then I use the wisdom of Ayurveda, and Bioregulatory medicine, and traditional naturopathy, and traditional Chinese medicine, and Orthomolecular Medicine, to go about rebalancing those numbers, where we found a deficiency or a toxicity on their lab test. So I use the numbers as because we’re, for the most part, people are data-driven. And I just say, listen, here’s exactly why you’re getting the bloating and the digestive issues or the low thyroid, for example, maybe they’re low thyroid was actually a lack of iodine or selenium, or maybe it was a too much aluminum, cadmium, bromine, or it was mercury, right? So what I can do is I can say, there are multiple reasons why, here are the reasons why you became imbalanced. Now, I’m going to use the ancient wisdom along the course, with modern-day techniques of like Orthomolecular Medicine and vitamin-based therapy, in the short term, to fill back up your deficiencies. And I’ll use Ayurveda to remove a lot of those toxicities as well through whether it’s heavy metal or functional medicine detoxes.

Natalie K. Douglas 15:29
Yeah, I love it. And I, I’m a huge, huge fan of testing. And I find that, not to like like that I feel like in America, there’s less pushback to investing in functional medicine testing, I feel like I think we were speaking about it before we just jumped on the podcast that it’s pretty standard for anytime you go to see a naturopathic doctor that functional testing is usually part of that, that process for the most part, and definitely in Australia there’s there are a lot of practitioners that are doing that but I wouldn’t say it’s the majority. And I, I do use it quite a lot. And I really, really love functional testing, because it helped me so much. I spent so much money, trying to figure things out without it and I ended up just not really getting anywhere or not getting anywhere for very long, and functional testing, the way I see it is that it really allows you to get to the answer in the most efficient way, which allows you like allows your practitioner to actually develop a protocol that’s going to get you better, as fast as possible, because there can be so many different things going on. And a lot of symptoms that we feel can overlap with a lot of different root causes. So it’s really about, you know, getting in there doing some testing, understanding what’s going on, and then treating treating that. So yeah, I’m glad you kind of explained a bit more about about that as well. Now we have a lot of, a lot of listeners that writing a lot about different different approaches to wellness, and also rebalancing body composition or hormones and those kind of things. And so, at the moment, there’s definitely a very large trend out there around ketogenic diets and low carb diets for everyone. And while I’ll be the first to admit that they absolutely can be beneficial in certain circumstances, for certain people for a certain period of time. I do have a bit of an issue with them being promoted for everyone all of the time as I kind of see it but you know, I’m one person. So I thought I would love to hear your opinion on ketogenic diets or really low carb, high carbohydrate diets, particularly for women. And are there any, like what do you see in your practice?

Dr. Stephen Cabral 17:51
Got a doubt. And so, in my practice, I just I do not take the stance of any guesswork at all. I just, I don’t believe it anymore. And the reason was that it took me 10 years to get well. And the reason is that I would try things, and I would experiment with things. And I would meet this practitioner, and we do this, and then this. And then you know, it’s really when I did open it up to this functional medicine testing, advanced lab test, and I could see, so when the ketogenic diet that’s been around now for many, many decades, but now being used for general public. So remember, like, this is an actual medical-based diet, that we’re now taking some data points, and we’re extrapolating that data, and we’re supposed to now have it for the whole population. Well, this was meant for people with cancer space tumors, it was meant for people with type two diabetes, certain cardiovascular issues, but in my opinion, never meant for general population. And that’s because the long term detrimental effects can be quite harmful, especially for women. So why would it say more harmful for women? Well, the reason is that we lab test, we lab test everything that you can imagine. So we look at hormones, and we look at the gut. Well, there’s a couple things that are irrefutable about the ketogenic diet. One is that well, so let’s get some positives, you will lose some weight most likely on it, and you lose some weight, especially in the beginning, because you are going to lose a lot of that water-base weight. And that’s because every carbohydrate is hold inside of those muscle cells to is holding water. So you’re going to lose that water weight as you begin to become glycogen depleted. And that just means that your liver, which holds somewhere around 90 to 120 grams or so of glycogen is going to be depleted, and your blood sugar is going to go a little lower, so we’ll probably tap it in a little bit more body fat, okay, so we use a low carb diet in our practice for three weeks or so. And it works really well. We use it as part of our function as a detox, elimination diet, etc. but around the 4 to 6-week mark, we see a plateauing of weight if people do not start to introduce some of those starchy carbohydrates again, and we see it mainly in women, and here’s why, women have a more intricate and sensitive hormone-based system. The reason is that it’s their job to also carry on life for this entire world. So what happens is, if we put a female’s body in a position where her body thinks she’s in survival mode, she will begin to down-regulate certain hormones. One of those is typically thyroid, the first thing we see is a elevated TSH, thyroid-stimulating hormone, we also see often an elevated evening cortisol, we will then begin to see a drop in progesterone followed eventually by a drop in testosterone, followed by a drop in DHGA. Her body is basically decreasing metabolism to preserve calories so that she can survive on less calories, so her body is lowering her libido, lowering overall mood, energy output, lower in circulation, hair, skin, and nails don’t grow as fast. And it’s because her body’s conserving. One, if she was ever pregnant, she would need to conserve all of that for her child. And the second is that her body is telling her she’s not fit. She’s not not fit, but she’s not in the environmental situation to ever bring another life into this world. And we’re going really far off the track in terms of overall health for women, by recommending ketogenic diets to them. I can’t stress that enough, that we’re creating a lot of long term damage by going for some short term gains.

Natalie K. Douglas 21:33
I 100% agree with you, absolutely summarize that so well, because I see the exact same thing, Stephen in my practice. And I know if Kate was on the podcast, she would be cheering as well because Kate and I have both had hypothalamic amenorrhea before and a lot of our podcast listeners have experienced that themselves. And, you know, sometimes people can send themselves into that situation. So for anyone listening that has no idea what hypothalamic amenorrhea is so far from listening to all of our podcasts, it’s when basically your brain stops communicating with your ovaries, and you stop basically having a period. And for the most part, it’s it’s due to I mean, in my practice, for the most part, it’s due to a few reasons over-exercising, under-eating, or really low carb diet, or keto diet. And so that was summarized really well. And I think Stephen has mentioned some of the things that you would start to experience. So it’s really about using it strategically, but not using it as an answer to all your problems for the long term. So yeah, thank you for for sharing that. Another one that pops up often is intermittent fasting for women as a weight-loss strategy, or just as a general health strategy. And when I’m talking about intermittent fasting, in this way, I’m more talking about the kind of approach of 16 hour fast to 8 hour eating window. So more of that longer fasting, and what’s your kind of experience with intermittent fasting in that kind of protocol with women?

Dr. Stephen Cabral 23:13
For the most part, I don’t agree with it. And the reason is, for the same exact way that we just talked about the ketogenic diet, if your body does not get food for that long, it still goes back to am I in a survival-based situation. It’s even more detrimental for that Vata based body type that ectomorph based body type, which will start to tap into its own muscle tissue or even bone. And so what happens is, we could be at greater risk for osteoporosis. And a lot of other issues just happened over time. I mean, these are very slow things that manifest themselves in our body. So what I believe in, that works for and again, nothing ever works for everyone. So when I say, you know, this, it’s like 99%. So unless you have reactive hypoglycemia, or some real adrenal based issues, most people do really well, with basically doing an overnight 12 hour to maybe 13 hour to maybe 14 max, intermittent fast, big believer in stop eating around six or seven at night, begin eating again, at somewhere around seven o’clock or so in the morning, but an hour or so after you wake up, your body’s ready to take food. And then you should also don’t start not start with a super heavy meal. But you want to sit down to bacon and eggs. And the reason is that you just woke up, your digestive system is not ready for that big, large meal. And also it needs something that’s going to continue to replenish all the water you just lost over the last 12 hours from not consuming any water. So you need something hydrating as well. So what we do, and we see the greatest results, is to have people eat breakfast, especially if they’re going to be stressed that day mean like, get the kids ready for school, sit in traffic, like start your day stressed. If you are, people don’t realize this that you’re going to spike your blood sugar anyways. And people might say, well, how is that possible? Well, anytime you spike cortisol, your body’s going to begin to break down liver glycogen and spike your own blood sugar, whether you like it or not. So you might as well give yourself some good food, which helps to cut cortisol, cortisol is highest in the morning anyways. And carbohydrates are the only thing that are going to help break the cortisol spike but also produce more serotonin and dopamine, which are more of our happy feel, good in focus based neurotransmitters.

Natalie K. Douglas 25:32
Yes, I love it. And just to just to kind of knock that out a little bit more. So what are your, what are your thoughts on or what could you explain maybe what happens in the body when people wake up and all they have is a black coffee or, and that by itself because a lot of people are really into just waking up, fasting, but having a coffee to kind of keep going thinking that it’s doing themselves a favor. But can you explain how that actually impacts your blood sugar in your cortisol?

Dr. Stephen Cabral 26:04
Without a doubt, and so we get this whole thing of that, you know, wake up, do a black coffee and that you’re still going to be in a fasting state because there’s no sugar, there’s no calories, there’s no carbs, there’s basically no anything. But we have to understand is that the reason you feel so great a lot of time doing that is because you’re pushing yourself to what’s called the sympathetic nervous system or the fight or flight. So of course you feel great. You’re revved up, your adrenaline is pumping. So here’s what our body does. We put in that caffeine, and your body says okay, you know, we’re in a fight or flight based situation. We’re in a stress-based state. Your hypothalamus tells your pituitary gland to tell your adrenal medulla, which they sit right above your kidneys to say, okay, let’s produce something called catecholamines. Well, what does that mean? Well, it means norepinephrine or adrenaline. So our heart rate starts to increase, the blood sugar will start to increase because our body will say we need to fast fuel source. Fat is too slow to break down. We’re in a survival base state. We’re in fighter flight, let’s break down liver glycogen. So we start to, that happens with what’s actually called glucocorticoids in cortisol, it starts to break down stored sugar. Okay, you say, well, I’ve beat the system, I’ve hacked the system because I’m in ketosis. I’ve actually depleted my liver of glycogen. Then your body says, well, not so fast. Your muscles over here, store 400 grams of glucose, I’ll break down some muscle tissue, I’ll get amino acids and glycogen, which I can use for glucose in the blood sugar, and now I’m ready for fight or flight. Well, now over time, you become more catabolic. Think about all the people you see, practicing keto-based diet, a lot of times they become a little bit more drawn, you can see they’re actually losing a lot of the water that their body needs for healthy standpoint, but a lot of that muscle tissue as well. So that, in a nutshell, is what happens when we try to fool our body. You can’t do it won’t happen.

Natalie K. Douglas 27:57
Yeah, agreed. And me and Kate are always telling people that if you are going to have coffee, then have it after your breakfast because at least then you’ve got something there to buffer that spike that those spikes in cortisol and, and blood sugar. So that’s yeah, I’m glad that we touched on that as well. So just, I guess backtracking a little bit with the having something that’s hydrating for breakfast. So say that we are doing a smoothie, for example, is there kind of some guidelines you have around constructing a smoothie because a lot of when we say the word smoothie, a lot of people have different ideas about well, what that what that should look like. So some people will fill it with, you know, tons of fruit and nothing to kind of buffer that. And then other people will have it have just a protein powder with no, with water and nothing else. Is there something that you feel is a good kind of formula for people that are just after general health and well-being?

Dr. Stephen Cabral 28:58
Yes, so, general health and well-being would be different for someone looking to lose weight. So the weight loss person, we actually start with just something we call our daily nutritional support shake, which is 15 grams of a vegan protein, but it contains your whole multivitamin-mineral detox factors, such as sulforaphane, electrolytes, etc. And we do that just again for that period of three weeks but it’s only as a test because we’re trying to rebalance hormones and blood sugar and inflammation, so many different things but then after that, what we want to do is find our carbohydrate tolerance in the short term. So a lot of people give up on the smoothies and things like that, because they don’t know because it’s not taught, nobody teaches this, that you’re, or you might because you’re giving a lot of great recommendations. I’m gonna coffee after breakfast. I’ve never heard anybody recommend that except me. So that’s fantastic that you guys are doing that. And I learned that from Ayurvedic medicine, again, like I’m simply trying to bring in as an integrative approach. Other things, you know, to gather that have been lost, because Ayurveda said, you know, don’t, they didn’t say not to do coffee and said, well, yes, if you have anxiety and you have a jitteriness, then yes, don’t do coffee. But more for the endomorphic body type, they can do it after a meal. And that can actually help with the strength of digestion and acidity in the stomach but anyway, that’s a whole different topic. So the smoothie, what we’re looking to do is realize that your blood sugar will never fully be rebounce for a period of about 12 to 16 weeks. And that’s because you need to turn over all of your cells, you need new cells, and that happens over 90 to 120 day period, where then they are more insulin sensitive. So when you take in glucose, your cells can actually be unlocked through the insulin to get the glucose into the cell to allow the mitochondria and the rest of your body to function with it. So what we’re doing is, we’re often we’re using some protein, and it contains fiber because we want to slow anything we put into it with a slower glycemic effect, we are adding in some berries. So it’s gonna be blueberries, or raspberries, or blackberries, or cherry, something low glycemic with a lot of fiber. And a lot of hydration, meaning like, most fruit is 80 to 90% plus water. So you get the water, which is hydrating, you get the minerals and vitamins which your body desperately needs, a lot of people are holding on to weight because their bodies actually starved for nutrition, not calories, but actual micronutrients. We do that, sometimes we’re adding greens, a lot of people don’t do well with greens, it’s not great food combining for them, they can’t break it down, even when blended but we will add in a healthy fats. So we’ll add in, whether it be some avocado, some people are good with coconut oil, some people aren’t as good with coconut oil, but we’ll add something in, we might even add in some pumpkin seeds in the future, things like that. Because we have again, a lot of different programs, whether going to seed cycling, etc. So our job is then to have that smoothie being a whole meal but basically pre-digested, it’s blended, that you then drink not right away, you don’t just you know, chunk the whole thing down, you drink it over the course of an hour to time release all that nutrition, you don’t get the big blood sugar spike, but you get all that nutrition. And you don’t need as much coffee or caffeine, because you haven’t asked your digestive system to expend a ton of energy on digestion.

Natalie K. Douglas 32:20
Yeah, I love it. And actually, I’ve been trying that whole method recently and being feeling really, really good with that, because I’ve kind of gone. I mean, I’m very much into experimenting with my with myself. I love trying lots of different things and, and just whatever feels good, feels good but I also just like experimenting, so I know how my clients feel when when they’re doing and I really love doing the doing that kind of structure that you just described for breakfast. Previously, I used to be someone who would have, you know, leftover dinner for breakfast and do that. And while I did find benefits in stabilizing my blood sugar, because there was, you know, a good heat of protein in the morning. I did feel like I didn’t digest it as well, because most of the time in the morning, you know, I’m eating and then I’m going like I’m not kind of I don’t have that time to rest and digest as much as as I should. So yeah, it’s definitely something that I’d encourage people to experiment with. And just on the blood sugar thing. So in my clinical practice, occasionally, if I suspect that people have blood sugar issues, I’ll often get them to do a bit of at-home blood glucose monitoring. Is that something you do as well, and is there is there a certain range that you ask people to aim for in terms of a fasting blood glucose and, and also a postprandial, post-meal blood glucose? I can translate it into Australian measurements if you just say the American ones, that’s fine.

Dr. Stephen Cabral 33:52
Absolutely. And so we look for a certain parameters to know if someone is in more of that or their body’s trying to stay and more of that healing-based state or not. So for blood sugar, we’re looking for between 75 and 95, and I believe over in Australia to run a 3, is that correct?

Natalie K. Douglas 34:10
So it would probably be around like a four point uh, probably like between a 4 and maybe a 5.5. So that’s, that’s millimoles per liter. So that would what it would would be like in Australia in terms so you can just prick your finger like you can in Australia, you can just go to any kind of pharmacy, most pharmacies have a good blood glucose monitor, and you just get the test strips. And basically you just prick your finger when you wake up, like when you’ve been fasting, basically. And that’s the measurement that you’re you’re looking for so and then Stephen, when when would you advise someone testing it to see how they respond to their meal, like how many hours after eating would you recommend?

Dr. Stephen Cabral 34:57
So, if the person is hungry, let’s say an hour, hour and a half after the meal it will actually retest to see if they didn’t just drop back lower in blood sugar. So but for the most part, we’re really working with people looking to transform their body or in hormones. So we want a two hour and if their blood sugar has not come down by two hours after a meal between that same exact range, we’ll do it again at three hours. If it has not come down at three hours, then we’re looking at some type of pre type two diabetes, or we’re looking at some type of insulin desensitivity of the cell. And so we’ll have to work much more in-depth on the macros within that meal that just preceded it.

Natalie K. Douglas 35:42
Yeah, I love it. So that’s a really good one that people can do at home and it’s it can tell you a lot of information for sure. And I definitely get some people to do that who work with me. So a good tool, a good tool to use for sure. Just moving on to something else I wanted to discuss is that, you know, if someone’s feeling really quite overwhelmed, for example, they have gut issues, they have hormonal imbalances, they’re struggling to lose weight. Where do you think, or where do you, in your practice feel like the best place to start is with someone in that situation? Because I know, in my practice, no one comes with just one problem. And so, how do you approach that when there’s kind of that mix of different issues? Where do you start?

Dr. Stephen Cabral 36:33
So, for me, I personally would say, you know, have you run any labs before in the past and then I can take that data into account, I can listen to their story. And then what I’ll do is I will recommend you say, okay, you feel overwhelmed, we can talk about because it’s very important, like as a practitioner, or someone you know in the field is that you want to understand a person for who they are not just their numbers. So you want to take the numbers, but you also want to take their story. So, you know, we do an intake with that. We we ship labs all around the world. I mean, probably, I would say like 15% believe or not of our practices in Australia, because just like you said, a lot of people for whatever reason are not doing labs there. And I don’t know why that is yet but I think it will increase in the future. Gut issues automatic for me, it’s an organic acids test. That’s a urine test that you can do right at home. And then if we believe that there are symptoms of parasites such as loose stool, adult acne on the back, or maybe the forehead, night sweats, then we will do a stool test and if there’s bloating upon waking, or like within 20 minutes of eating, we might think it’s H. pylori as well or they traveled so we’ll run a stool test with that. Sometimes we’ll do food sensitivity testing with it but it’s just the power of the Organic Acids Test so much more powerful for Candida and see definitely all your B vitamins. And then, hormonal balances, right away my go-to is the thyroid adrenal hormone, which looks at estrogen, progesterone, their ratio of estrogen progesterone, because a lot of times most women are normal with estrogen, but they’re actually low in progesterone, which makes it look like they’re high in estrogen but technically they’re not, they’re just low in progesterone. Then we look at testosterone, DHEA, cortisol four times throughout the day. We look at TSH, free T4 or free T3, TPO antibodies for Hashimoto’s, we look at vitamin D, and we look at insulin, and hemoglobin A1c for the blood sugar we just spoke about. Now, I will tell you for the most part, why can’t lose the weight? Why you might have the lower mood, lower libido, lower energy, poor circulation, etc. So those are a lot of my go-to’s but there’s so many great labs, I mean, there really are. I love testing everything omega-3s. I’d like doing Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis, to look at heavy metal. So you name it, I would love to run it but sometimes you have to narrow down for the person because they can get expensive because they’re not covered by health insurance.

Natalie K. Douglas 38:59
Yes, I know I’m a bit of a testing junkie too because it just gives you so much information. And for sure that Organic Acids Test is just it really it’s kind of like gives you so much information and also gives you so much information about a lot of different areas and can point you in the direction of where the further testing is needed in certain areas, like you said, particularly relating to the to the gut, but it’s yeah, it’s definitely a test that can give you so much information. But I guess the name isn’t very, it isn’t very sexy, is it Organic Acids? People, most people are just like, what? So, I’m glad that you explained it there because that will make it my job a lot easier when I’m trying to explain it to someone. So that was really good. So I want to be mindful of your time but I do have a couple of more, a couple of more questions that we get asked a lot and that we like to get other other practitioners opinions on as well. So, we, like Kate and myself, when I say we, I mean Kate and myself, we do have a very open-minded approach to health similar to you, and we do our best to help everyone and meet them where they’re at. We get a lot of questions about whether it’s better to include animal protein in your diet or not? And from our perspective, we we say that, I mean, I should speak for myself. So my belief is that you want to be eating about 80% plant-based foods and about 20% animal-based foods and part of that animal-based foods, I do believe that high quality like grass feds, you know, sustainably sourced animal protein can be really beneficial, but completely open to what your thoughts are on that. And also your clinical practice experience, because we’ve got so many different opinions flying out, like flying around out there. And, you know, I think that experience and the amount of experience clinically that you have speaks, you know, like just so much because you know, you’re seeing people go through different protocols all the time. So what are your kind of thoughts around that, and has that evolved over time?

Dr. Stephen Cabral 41:03
Yes, without a doubt, and, you know, so I started out doing a lot of natural bodybuilding in my early 20s and I was eating massive amounts of protein, six times a day, I would take in 50 grams of protein, which is absurd. So that certainly did not help me get healthier or doing any better. But the problem, you know, the problem is this. It’s that, and I do take your approach. And that’s why that the question leads us should we have animal protein or not? And I’ll support a person, whether they’re vegan, I’ll support a person if they’re paleo, and primal, and any other type of way, except, of course, I’m not going to support them in a carnivore or keto-based diet for very long. Now I understand why people do those things. And I understand their methodology and they want to get well and but the thing is, I only have one allegiance, that’s to the truth. And the truth does not lie in any of those outlier diets that swing themselves so far in one direction. We know that humans are hunter-gatherers, we know that, but you have to understand is that we were always more gatherers than hunters, you can’t physically kill the animals that we eat today, for the most part. You’re not going to kill a wild boar with your bare hands. You’re not going to kill a cow with your bare hands. You’re not getting like the majority of the animals, we, most likely nobody was around back then. But most likely, we were gathering berries, and tubers, and leaves, and all sorts of things. We’re scavengers wherever we can eat. And we would, yes, get some small, rodent-based animals and we would get worms, and grubs, and crickets. Nobody wants to talk about that but that’s what we were eating. And we know that because we can see how tribes you know, even today. So, I don’t want to go down that rabbit hole but what I want to say is this, when I look at all the best research in the world, it’s saying less than 19% of your diet from protein. It’s saying whether you’re genotype 2, 3, or 4, less than 20, 25%. If you don’t want to raise levels of IGF 1, which can lead to more cancer, less animal-based protein. And so, my philosophy is this. If you want to keep animal protein in there, fine. I’m okay with that. But just like you said, one meal maximum per day, no more basically, than the size of your fist, just like all of the Mediterranean and ancient India based and Chinese based cultures, it’s a garnish to your meal, it is not the centerpiece of your meal. If you do that, if you follow an 80% plant-based diet, I mean, your health, not tomorrow, but over the next few years is going to be monumentally larger. And we could do a whole podcast on that of antioxidants and micronutrients but anyway, that’s a whole other rabbit hole.

Natalie K. Douglas 43:48
Yeah, for sure. And I have a very similar background to you in terms of, I wasn’t I was very much into doing like, yes, bodybuilding type protocols, and I was very heavily into paleo when I first started practicing. And I still believe in the principles of, you know, a lot of the principles of paleo in terms of eating as minimally processed food as possible, and making sure that you’re sourcing it correctly, but more and more as I as I’ve evolved and done more research, and also have seen more, seen more clients, I definitely believe that it’s, you know, it’s my philosophy is very much plant-based with, you know, a small amount of animal-based protein, because I do think that it has a lot of benefits. And I guess the other thing, I quickly want to flag with people that are listening, if a big pushback that often comes is oh, well, I ate, you know, a lot of plant-based foods and I feel really horrible. And I think that, like, without a doubt the thing that’s happening for the most part there is not that a plant like a you know, a very rich, a plant-rich diet, is not working, it is not the right thing for you. It’s that there’s something imbalanced in your gut. That’s meaning that you’re getting symptoms for that, which is why a lot of people feel really good digestively initially on something like, you know, a keto-based diet or something that’s very animal protein-based diet. So yeah, I just like to kind of point that out because otherwise, it’s, it kind of makes people think, oh, well, then it mustn’t be. It mustn’t be that for me, it must have worked for me.

Dr. Stephen Cabral 45:34
You’re 100% correct. The if you get bloating, or digestive issues, or cramping, or gas, or constipation, or loose stool, it’s not the plant’s fault. It’s that you have some type of microbiome dysfunction, you have small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, or you most likely have candida overgrowth. And by giving your body prebiotics that are natural prebiotics, you’re allowing that bacteria or Candida to start to ferment. And because of that, it’s giving off gas. Now, that should be a giveaway that you need to fix the microbiome, not just say, okay, well, I’m only going to eat meat, that’s a conventional medicine approach. That’s a band aid approach. I’m just not going to eat any carbs, because they cause bloating. But again, no one’s been taught, like we’re trying to educate people but this is not mainstream, You know, the mainstream is if you eat something and you don’t feel well, you stop eating it, because it makes sense, like that makes total sense. So, I get why people are doing a carnivore-based diet or keto-based diet but in the long term, you still need to fix what the underlying root cause was.

Natalie K. Douglas 46:36
Yeah, a hundred percent. I agree. And I will just reiterate test don’t guess in that situation because you’ll get the answers so much faster. So, Stephen, you have recently or semi-recently written a book called The Rain Barrel Effect. Can you tell us in a nutshell, what that book is about and maybe, you know, who would benefit from reading that and where they can find it because I know I’m about halfway through and I think it’s fantastic. So, can you share a bit of it, a bit about it?

Dr. Stephen Cabral 47:05
Sure. So, The Rain Barrel Effect is what happens to our body over time, as it begins to accumulate all sorts of different toxins. And I know toxin is a buzzword, and some people like it, some people don’t but really what it means is that the average woman right now, she lives the host being exposed to 126 different cancer-causing chemicals. And that’s because there’s over a dozen typically in our shampoo, and conditioner, and sunscreens, and cosmetics, there’s triclosan, and there’s fluoride in toothpaste, there’s all these different things that we’re exposing our self too, when we take a shower, there’s chlorine vapors in the air unless you’re using a shower filter. So what happens is, and the crazy thing is this is that none of these things kill us with one dosage. But over time, they begin to accumulate. The liver can no longer process them and get rid of them, they begin to expand our adipose tissue, we start to put on weight, we start to have a little bit lower energy, our body becomes we have a little bit more brain fog, it’s harder that you know, have the clear thinking. We don’t want to exercise as much because don’t have as much energy. So we started again, it starts to snowball effect. So what happens is, it’s the accumulation over time of the gut-based dysfunction, the malnutrition, the lack of sleep, and eventually, our rain barrel begins to overflow. When the water flows over the sides, then we get diagnosed with the hypothyroidism, the type 2 diabetes, the high cholesterol, the high blood pressure, the Hashimoto’s, rheumatoid arthritis, migraines, etc. but all of those things are names for a collection of symptoms, that all have an underlying root cause. And you will never be able to get to the bottom of them, or eliminate them until you begin to empty that rain barrel. And that’s because adding more and more and more is not always the answer in a society where we want for nothing, we have everything, right? So, what I do is not say, oh, you just need a little bit more of CoQ10 for energy, no, or you a little bit more ubiquinol in the functional medicine. What I say is, why do you not have the energy? What have you accumulated? What deficiencies do you have? Or what toxicities do you have that we need to rebalance? So, that’s what the rain barrel effect is, it tells us how we got here and then the last part of the book, which we’re about to get to, is my destress protocol that tells people that there’s essentially there’s eight ways to bring everything together to rebalance the body because in my opinion, there’s an answer for everyone and you just haven’t found it yet but keep looking because you will find it.

Natalie K. Douglas 49:51
Yes, 100% agreed. I mean, I know, and you would have felt the same pretty helpless when you couldn’t find anyone to to help you but look at us now eventually you get there. And it just really is about not giving up and not giving up hope. So I’ll definitely pop the link to your book in the show notes. And how else can people learn from you? So you mentioned your podcast, could you give the listeners the the details of that and where else they can learn about you from?

Dr. Stephen Cabral 50:20
Sure. So my podcast is called The Cabral concepts and that’s a daily podcast about 20 minutes or so long and I just talked about one topic. So it might just be about Candida, or SIBO, or it might be about the thyroid, or might be just about the minerals that the thyroid needs. They’re any one of those things and you give your listeners so much great information with thyroid, so they probably don’t need to come to mind. But you know, it’d be it’d be other things like exercise and mindset, and all of those great things that I just try to I just tell people that, you know, we’ve seen so many people, I just I want to give you the knowledge that you get with just seeing a quarter of a million people, here’s what we see, here’s where I believe you might be missing what you need to be looking for. So that’s The Cabral Concept and then if people want to look more into whether it’s labs or our functional medicine detox, that’s over at EquilibriumNutrition.com

Natalie K. Douglas 51:10
Amazing. Well, I can’t thank you enough for coming on the show and sharing all of your wonderful knowledge and experience with us. I know that a lot of people will get so much out of that discussion. And yeah, we really appreciate that. So thank you for continuing to educate us on the podcast and also worldwide sending all of your your knowledge out there. Thank you so much.

Dr. Stephen Cabral 51:32
Thank you, I really appreciate you having me on.

Outro 51:35
Thanks for tuning in to The Holistic Nutritionists Podcast. Remember, we love to make the show relevant to you. If you have any questions or topics you’d like us to discuss, just submit them to [email protected] and we’ll get them answered for you. Also, don’t forget to subscribe, rate, and review the podcast on iTunes and share it with your friend. And if you’re looking for more info about how we can accelerate your journey to your optimal health, you can find Nat over at NatalieKDouglas.com, and Kate at TheHolisticNutritionist.com. See you next time!

Natalie K. Douglas 52:14
Hey guys, it’s Nat here. I hope you enjoyed that podcast. Like Stephen, I love a good functional test. So if you are listening into the show thinking, oh, I wonder what test would be best for me, or how could I use functional testing to help me resolve my issues faster, then please do reach out. Until the end of January, you can still get $50 off your initial consultation fee by using the code THNP. Now, you don’t have to have your consult in January but you do have to secure your booking by the 31st of January. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m planning to make 2019 one of my healthiest years ever. And even I, I don’t plan on going that journey alone. So, jump online at NatalieKDouglas.com and follow the links to book online and let’s get started.


The Holistic Nutritionists Podcast - with Natalie K. Douglas and Kate Callaghan

Welcome to The Holistic Nutritionists Podcast!

If a professional, polished, well-edited podcast is what you’re after…then we’re not for you!

But if you love unfiltered banter, unedited bloopers and authentic heart sharing then we are your ladies.

We also have the most practical tips on holistic and alternative health care too 😉

Have a question that you want answered on the podcast or want to be interviewed? Get in touch!


Natalie K. Douglas | Thyroid Healer

Natalie K. Douglas | Thyroid Healer

Natalie K. Douglas ("Nat") is a Holistic Dietitian and Nutritionist dedicated to Thyroid, gut and hormone healing.

Nat shows stressed, burnt out, overwhelmed women how to value their worth again, change their mindset habits, prioritize healing, and reclaim their vitality. Guaranteed.

Her clients say she’s the right girl to see if you’ve tried the conventional approach and nothing has worked.

Kate Callaghan | The Holistic Nutritionist

Kate Callaghan | The Holistic Nutritionist

Kate Callaghan is a Holistic Nutritionist, Personal Trainer and Lifestyle Coach who specializes in women's hormone healing.

She recognizes that there is no “one size fits all” diet or “magic bullet” which is going to cure all illnesses.

She focuses on having a thorough understanding of your personal goals, needs, likes/dislikes, support networks and lifestyle in order to create a food and lifestyle approach that suits YOU.


Stephen Cabral | Doctor of Naturopathy, Ayurvedic & Functional Medicine Practitioner

Stephen Cabral | Doctor of Naturopathy, Ayurvedic & Functional Medicine Practitioner


Stephen Cabral developed his passion for health & wellness after going through severe health complications at the age of 17. He saw over 50 different doctors, tried over 100 different treatment protocols, but still saw no hope of recovery.

It wasn’t until he met an “alternative” health doctor whom explained to him how he got here and how he could become well again, that he began his recovery process. It was at this young age that he knew his life would be dedicated to helping others rebalance their bodies and renew their health.


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