How Healthy Foods Can Boost Your Gut and Life with Kirsty Wirth
As the saying goes, trust your gut — and this isn’t only figuratively. One of the most overlooked aspects of health is our digestive system. We tend to ignore and underestimate the symptoms we experience around our gut. But with its link to our brains, our guts play a much more significant role in our overall health. The simple act of eating healthy foods can completely turn your life around.
Kirsty Wirth joins us in this episode to share how reexamining gut health impacted her and her son's life. She talks about the road to recovery, specifically her family undergoing fecal microbial transplant (FMT). Kirsty highlights the importance of in-depth gut health testing, cutting out junk foods, and consuming healthy foods. She further discusses the two types of fermented food and how we can incorporate it into our diet.
If you’re having trouble with your digestive system and want to know which healthy foods to choose, this episode is for you.
Here are three reasons why you should listen to the full episode:
Learn how an undiagnosed gut issue can lead to an autism spectrum misdiagnosis.
Discover the importance of eating healthy foods when looking after your microbiome.
Find out the two types of fermented food and their effects on the body.
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To pushing the limits,
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[04:55] The Story Behind Kultured Wellness
Kirsty started Kultured Wellness because of her personal experience and what her son went through.
She started having tummy upsets from age two onwards. She would constantly swing between constipation and diarrhea.
Acquiring viral encephalitis at age 13 and being hospitalised for a week was a landmark time in Kirsty’s life. Gut problems became a constant issue from then on.
Her husband, who is a nurse, told her constant diarrhea is not normal. So, she dabbled with various diets but didn't stick with them.
It’s not until they found out about her son’s conditions that Kirsty took concrete action.
[09:55] Kirsty’s Son’s Autism Spectrum Diagnosis
At 13 months, Noah suffered from infections and tummy troubles. Fortunately, his recovery progressed well.
But at 18 months, Noah became completely non-verbal, underwent behavioural changes, and suffered from constant diarrhoea
The paediatrician said that Noah’s condition was normal. However, his condition only worsened.
Then, Noah was diagnosed with autism. This gave them funding for treatment and support.
[13:56] Discovery of an Underlying Gut Issue
The possibility that Kirsty passed on her diarrhoea issue to Noah was always at the back of her mind.
They found a doctor who listened to their suspicion that Noah has an underlying condition.
After testing Noah’s stool sample, they discovered that he had Clostridium difficile, a type of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
This bacteria releases endotoxin that compromises the gut and the blood-brain barrier.
They found that the endotoxin in Noah's body had attached to the brain receptors responsible for socialisation and learning.
[17:21] Undergoing Fecal Microbial Transplant (FMT)
Kirsty and her two children participated in a research study in Canada. There, they underwent a fecal microbial transplant.
Their guts were flushed with antibiotics to get rid of everything, including the Clostridium difficile. These were then replaced with donors’ microbes.
Kirsty’s children were the youngest people to undergo FMT. While they were there, Noah started becoming more sociable.
Not everyone needs to undergo FMT to recover their gut. There are now many ways to modulate the gut, one of which is eating healthy foods.
Tune in to the full episode to hear more about Noah's recovery and development as a teen!
[25:42] Getting Diagnosed with PANDAS
PANDAS is an autoimmune neurological condition associated with an antigen. Both Kirsty and Noah got diagnosed with it.
It stands for Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections.
Listen to the full podcast to learn more about PANDAS and how Kirsty acquired it!
[33:13] Looking After Your Microbiome
Test, don’t guess. Get a comprehensive stool analysis.
Kirsty uses two tests for her clients.
You need to be intentional in choosing healthy foods. Include fermented and nourishing food for your gut.
Also, remember that diets do not work. No amount of willpower can go against our primal built-in set point.
[46:10] Two Types of Fermented Food and Their Effect on the Body
The first is the wild type. This includes histamine-forming foods or lactate-forming metabolites.
Our gut has microbes that consume histamine and help us not develop histamine issues.
The second is uncultured ferment. These are specific ferments in a controlled environment with specifically chosen strains.
People struggling with lactate-forming metabolites should choose D-lactate bacteria strains.
These strains break down and down-regulate histamines without causing reactions.
[48:50] Incorporating Fermented Healthy Foods into Your Diet
You can start with small amounts of uncultured ferment to build out your microbiome.
Then, you can start dabbling with wild ferments.
Kirsty develops cultures with nine different strains that have efficacy for autoimmune, neurological, and digestive conditions.
Kultured Wellness offers a starter culture that you make yourself. Listen to the full episode to know the ingredients and the procedure!
[53:05] On Probiotics and Digestive Enzymes
One capsule of probiotics in the market has around 3 million CFU or colony-forming units.
Meanwhile, a cup of Kultured Wellness yoghurt has 41 billion CFU.
The absence of digestive enzymes and stomach acid is a major problem today.
Fermented food helps with this problem because it has already been pre-digested from the fermenting process.
Fermented food doesn't require a robust amount of digestive enzymes. In fact, it supports the excretion of stomach acid.
[57:06] Parting Advice
Be curious and try your best to connect with your body.
You’re in a state of fight or flight all the time when you’re unwell.
We should not be focusing on DNA; it's the microbes that affect our DNA.
Being curious, taking responsibility, owning it, and wanting more for yourself is crucial.
7 Powerful Quotes
‘I have seen how important your gut is and how it can completely change the pathway of your life. It can completely change who you are as a person.’
You don't just suddenly wake up one day and you've got cognition issues; that's coming from somewhere.’
‘So the first thing is just test, don't guess... We [can] really find out what is happening in our gut, and we can find out what it is doing to the rest of our body.’
‘If you want to make change, you've got to front up to make the change.’
‘If they don't include fermented foods and they don't include nourishing foods for their gut, they're relying on willpower. No one can get anywhere with willpower.’
‘It's what everyone finds hard and doesn't know, is that you should never rely on willpower. Diets will never work.’
‘DNA is not what we should be focusing on. It's actually the microbes and those fungi and viruses that make up our whole body that actually interacts through that.’
Kirsty Wirth is the founder of Kultured Wellness and an expert in cultures, gut health, and probiotics. Kultured Wellness is a company dedicated to providing knowledge and healthy foods for optimum gut health. As an integrative health coach, Kirsty's area of interest is in how lifestyle, environment, and diet can impact gut health and the immune system.
Drawing on her background and years of research, Kirsty educates people on the root cause behind underlying conditions. Her mission is to spread the word about the benefits of healthy foods, particularly fermented food in nourishing the gut's microbiome.
If you want to learn more about Kultured Wellness, you may visit their website. You can reach out to Kirsty on Instagram and Facebook. You can also send her an email at email@example.com.
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To pushing the limits,
Welcome to Pushing The Limits, the show that helps you reach your full potential with your host Lisa Tamati, brought to you by lisatamati.com.
Lisa Tamati: Hello everyone and welcome to Pushing The Limits this week. I hope you're excited for another fantastic episode with another amazing guest. Today, I have Kirsty Wirth from Australia. Kirsty is an expert in cultures and gut health. She is a very experienced practitioner in this area. She has a PhD. She has a company called Kultured Wellness where she makes her own cultures. But Kirsty’s more than just an academic. She's a clinician. She's also somebody who has been through the wringer with her own family, and that's why she's ended up in this space. I can relate to her very, very well.
We had this wonderful conversation about her backstory, and why she got into gut health, and what her family went through, and how they're doing now. If you're having trouble with your digestive system at all, if you're having trouble with any autoimmune diseases or anything of that nature, stay tuned for this episode. I think you will enjoy it. There will be links in the show notes to all of Kirsty’s products, and programs, and packages, so make sure you check all those out as well.
Before we head over to the show, just to remind you, we have our BOOSTCAMP webinar series coming up, starting on the first of September 2021. If you're listening to this later than that, we will be holding these on a regular basis. So make sure you go and check out when the next one is. This is an eight-week-long webinar program that we're just doing once a week for 90 minutes. It's all about boosting your life so upgrading your life in all areas.
It's about helping you deal with stress, being more resilient, mindset, mental toughness, health fundamentals, optimising your health, helping you understand how your body ticks, things like circadian rhythms. All sorts of areas that we delve into that will all be about improving your life, and your performance, and your well being, overall.
It's the sort of stuff we should have all been taught in school, and we weren't. It's how our body works. If you really want to know how you tick, and why this works that way, and that works this way, please come and join us for this webinar series. It's open to everybody, and we would love to have your company on there. You can head over to peakwellness.co.nz/boostcamp. That's boost with an ‘s’ not boot camp. So it's BOOSTCAMP, www.peakwellness.co.nz/boostcamp.
A reminder too, if you're into longevity and anti-aging, and who isn't, I know I certainly am, and you want to help your metabolic pathways, you want to upregulate your longevity genes, your sirtuin genes, if you want to upgrade your ability for autophagy, and if you didn't understand any of those words, that's okay. Go, and check out the episodes I did with Dr Elena Seranova. This is all about, basically, helping you live a longer, healthier life through a product called nicotinamide mononucleotide, and there's a hell of a lot of science behind this.
I read a book by Dr David Sinclair who is a Harvard Medical School researcher in longevity and has been in the space for 30 years. One of the main things that he recommends in this book and one of the breakthrough supplements is nicotinamide mononucleotide, and we now have this.
I've teamed up with Dr Elena Seranova, a molecular biologist, to bring this to New Zealand. It's independently certified. It's backed by a scientist. It's an incredibly good product. I've been on it now for over 9, 10 months, and I've had some incredible results, including reversing my menopause, just for starters. It really is an anti-aging and reversal of aging product that is pretty incredible. So head on over if you want to find out about that: nmnbio.nz.That's ‘n’ for Nelly, ‘m’ for Michael and ‘n’ for Nelly. Again, nmnbio.nz. Right. Now, over to the show with Kirsty Wirth.
Hi, everyone and welcome to the show. I'm very excited to have Kirsty Wirth with me today. Kirsty, welcome to the show.
Kirsty Wirth: Thank you so much for having me. I'm so stoked to be here.
Lisa: Oh, we had such a bowl last time on your podcast. We’re doing the reverse interview today because you are a wealth of knowledge. Kirsty, can you give us a bit of background about what you do and then, who you are, where you come from, and why you got into this Kultured Wellness as your brand. So tell us a little bit.
Kirsty: Yeah. Look, I'm like everyone else that starts a company. There's a big mission and a big passion behind it. It's come from my own experience, and specifically, from my experience of what my son went through. So, it's funny, I joke about it all the time. My parents had a business when I was a teenager. I reckon, I could have a million dollars for the amount of times I would have said, ‘I am never going to have a business. Why would I do that? Never going to.’ Here I am, five years later, and Kultured Wellness is just such a wonderful community and a wonderful hub for people.
The reason why I went from ‘never’ to ‘jumping right on in’ is because of what I have seen how important your gut is and how it can completely change the pathway of your life. It can completely change who you are as a person and the pathway of your life. Yeah, I just found it a bit hard to sit on the sidelines and watch that. So slowly, but surely, I just started helping people, and then, my company started. It's been a really interesting thing because it wasn't as if I set out one day, ‘I'm going to start a business because I don't want to work for anyone else anymore.’
But the reason why it started was because, I suppose, my parents can track back for me personally, a big change in my health, and in my personality, my resilience, my emotional capabilities at around two, which is a bit sad. Very early. Way early. Yes.
From about the age of two onwards, I had random health conditions. I had constant sore throats, and I always had a tummy upset. I found it hard to sleep. I had tummy upset, so I'd have swinging between constipation, diarrhea. But because my mum has tummy upset, and my nana had it, and my great-grandfather passed away from bowel cancer, it was really normalised that I would eat something and go, ‘Oh! That went straight through me,’ or ‘Better rush to the toilet.’
It was normal dialogue. There was no, ‘This is not normal.’ No curious thinking as to ‘If I have eaten those nutrients, if it's going straight out the other end, how am I actually surviving here? Where's my nutrients? How am I actually going to grow?’
So I had a big landmark, sort of poignant time in my life when I was around 13. I was hospitalized for about a week, and I had viral encephalitis. My brain… Yeah, and it was horrible. I went through having a lumbar puncture and not really knowing what was going on. Just this constant questioning of, ‘Well, this blood test is right, but this isn't right. We don't know what's wrong with you. We'll just send you home.’
From then on, I had a lot of brain issues, a lot of viral issues and just kind of rode the storm. I would have really flat days. I just feel terrible. I could barely get out of bed. Thankfully, I have my outdoor sports, and nature absolutely saved me. I was able to find peace and strength out in nature. But for eons of time, and for all of my travelling, I lived overseas, I did really cool stuff, I taught outdoor education, lots and lots of university degrees and research and so forth, and I just put up with it.
Lisa: It just became normal for you.
Kirsty: Constant gut issues, never questioned it. It was only until I met my husband, who is a nurse, and he was like, ‘You know, it's actually not normal to have that much diarrhea. If you were my patient, I would have you in the gastro ward, and we would be finding out what's going on.’ So then I went on a bit of an investigation about, ‘Maybe it's gluten. Maybe I shouldn’t eat gluten.’ Then, I had a look at maybe I should go dairy-free, keep the sugar low.
I noticed an improvement in my sports. So I thought, ‘Well, if my sports improves, then I'm going to do this because I love my sport.’ But I just ate gluten here and there. I’d go out and party, you know. I was just, ‘I’ll give it a go’, but I didn't dive on it. I didn't commit, and I didn't really go to find the answers.
As all of us know that are mums, it is not until your child has an issue, do you just go in like an absolute lioness, and you get to the bottom of something. When my son Noah was born, it was a traumatic birth. There was a lot of stuff that happened during the birth. We were separated. I had a lot of bleeding and a lot of issues. He started the world in that nervous system of fight and flight. Then, he was tracking along beautifully. He had some gut issues, had some cholic, but things were going well. But at 13 months, we went to Fiji, and we went to a surf camp. Unfortunately, he contracted giardia, which, you probably… And it's horrific, absolutely horrific.
Then, when we came back, he had ear infections. So on the antibiotics he went. Then, he had tummy troubles. The doctor said, ‘Well, let's just give him Neurosine, or let's put him on Losec, which is a stomach acid suppressant.’ Then, he started having, he got giardia again. Then, he got more ear infections, and so we were just swinging between which medication to give him now.
He was progressing beautifully. I'll never ever forget I was down at this seaside place that our family goes to, and he was probably only about 13 months, and he's kicking the soccer ball. This beautiful, dear old lady, she would have been about 70 said, ‘Oh, he will be playing for Australia one day.’ I’m, just like, ‘Absolutely, he will. He’s my boy.’ My brother played professional football. I was like, ‘This is the dream. Look at him. He’s so strong and robust, and he’s just amazing.’
It would have been only probably six months to eight months later that he was just a completely different kid. He had gone from the dreams of him just absolutely shining and ‘I’m gonna have to give up my career to drive him to all these different sports. Be the mum.’ I was teaching PE at the time and just such a beautiful time. Yeah, then just get to this point, where 18 months, where he was completely nonverbal, so he'd lost all of his... He would just sit and lie on the floor and just stare at the ceiling. He would just track cars back and forth, back and forth, and just screamed the whole time. He would only eat white food. Constant horrific diarrhea. I would have to leave the bath with just yellow diarrhea coming out.
We took him to the pediatricians and ‘Well, it's toddler diarrhea.’ Or ‘You’re a new mum. You know, kids cry. He’s probably a little bit unsettled. But you're okay; you're a new mum.’ I've got my husband who's medically trained here. But what is going on here and, we were, ‘You know, it’s just normal. It will be fine.’ So it continued, and then his behaviour just continued to get worse. It was really heartbreaking and also almost completely unmanageable. He would scream all night. He'd scream all day. He was always in pain, or he was asleep. He had no energy. He could not socialise.
Kirsty: Yeah, he was just completely nonverbal. There was no communication with him. So it got to a point that he was diagnosed on the autism spectrum.
Lisa: Hmm, I just was gonna say.
Kirsty: Yeah, and I wasn't a fan of going through that process, but I was a fan of receiving some funding to find out how am I going to get and afford a speech path to help, an OT to support this. Where's the psychologist to help with this situation? So we went down that path before the funding. But there was always this, in the back of my mind, like, I have diarrhea just constantly. He's got it. When I get diarrhea, I feel terrible. I don't want to talk to anyone. I just want to lie and hide in the room. I don't want to engage with life. I feel horrible when I've had bouts of this. So we just got curious.
Now, in Australia, at that point, to send off for a stool sample was unheard. Well, yes, you could get it done. But the comprehensive stool samples that we wanted to get, we just couldn't get. So we found an incredible and understanding doctor who heard us when we said, ‘There's something going on here. This is not autism. There's something more to it.’ Now every other doctor that we've spoken to said, ‘Look, you've just got to accept he's autistic.’
He’s not spoken for the rest of his life. He is nonverbal, nonfunctional. He’s gonna live with you. He's never gonna go to school. He's not going to achieve any of your milestones that you would expect from your child. So to find this one beautiful doctor that believed in my curiosity like, ‘Let's just dive in, let's find.’ And you would know this.
Lisa: Yeah. I do know.
Kirsty: Yeah. So we sent off a stool sample, and it came back. But he and I had Clostridium difficile, which is actually really life-threatening. Luckily, he still survived.
Lisa: A type of bacteria, is it?
Kirsty: It's a type of bacteria that is basically antibiotics, at high uses of antibiotics. What happens is it kills off all of the beneficial strain, but Clostridium difficile can survive in the presence of antibodies. It’s antibiotic-resistant. So antibodies will kill everything else. This guy goes, ‘Wow, yeah, I've got this vacant plot of land, good for me.’ So he was just completely overrun with Clostridium.
I had done a lot of research about Clostridium and specifically, how it affected children on the spectrum. There was some great research by some pioneering doctors about the fact that Clostridium releases a metabolite, which is an endotoxin. Unfortunately, not only does it compromise the gut and these endotoxins leak through the gut into the bloodstream, it also compromises our blood-brain barrier, which is our effective barrier that stops things getting into your brain.
Lisa: It’s the encephalitis and the thing that you had.
Kirsty: Yeah. It had gone through the blood-brain barrier and it had attached to certain receptors in his brain that was speech, and socialisation, and learning. So was in fact Noah autistic or did Noah have a really horrific undiagnosed infection that was causing significant inflammation?
Lisa: Wow. What could we do with that?
Kirsty: So we embarked on this, like, let's learn everything about Clostridium difficile. Let's learn about its effects on the brain, and how can we fix that. Clostridium, unfortunately, being antibiotic-resistant, there's not much you can do. It's a horrific thing. We were very fortunate to be part of a research study. My daughter, my son, and I, and my husband came too, but the three of us, we all went to Calgary in Canada. We were part of a research study where we had fecal microbial transplants.
Lisa: Oh, I’ve heard of that.
Kirsty: It's basically, you bomb your guts with some really serious antibiotics and get rid of everything: good, bad, or ugly. You get rid of everything, including the Clostridium difficile. Then, using someone else's, donors basically, you replace it back in there. There's actually flourishing beautiful microbes in there to take up the space. Because what can happen is, you can have C. diff, you can take the antibiotics. You’re fine while you're on them, but as soon as you go off them, it just grows back. There's no opposition, it growing back. The FMT provided that opposition, and it provided a trajectory moving forward.
My kids are the youngest kids in the world to have this done. It was groundbreaking, game-changing. We had it from both ends. We had the tablets to go down and we had it up the other way to the whole digestive system. At that point, that was really like a game-changer, sort of advanced research, and it was phenomenal. In Calgary, it’s minus 25 degrees. For an Australian, that's horrific. Driving around with special tires, and it's all really intense. We woke up the next day. We needed transplants every day for five days. We woke up the next day, and I talked to Noah every day. I never assumed that he couldn't hear me and I said to him, ‘Noah, how do you feel today?’ He said, ‘Mommy, I feel well.’
Lisa: Oh my gosh. The first time he had spoken to you, basically.
Kirsty: Oh, my God. We heard functional words because when we found out he had CD, we changed our diet. We started fermenting. We totally changed our lives. Totally changed. So we'd had some functional words. We'd had a bit of eye contact. We had enough to keep us motivated and to keep us going. So to hear that, and just...Oh my gosh.
Lisa: He can speak. Yeah, he's in there. He’s in there.
Kirsty: Exactly, he’s in there. Then over the course of the day is just more contact and more socialisation immediately.
Lisa: Immediately, during the transplant time, even.
Kirsty: Yeah, meanwhile, I'm having this done too, right? Wow. I just had no idea that you eat something, and then it stays in there and does….
Lisa: Does its job.
Kirsty: Then, like, ‘So it still comes out the other end! What?!’ This is the game-changer for me. Obviously, when we came back to Australia, we've got to consolidate this beautiful microbiome, got to work really hard on that. I've just never known energy ’cause I would have been running on adrenaline my whole life. Not energy, adrenaline.
Lisa: Two different things. Yeah, yeah.
Kirsty: And yeah. Wow. This is…
Lisa: This is such an incredible story, Kirsty, because I can just so feel you. To have a child that's not speaking, not making the milestones, not doing the things till you’re told that there's no hope. Yeah, that resonates with me because of mum's story where she was noncommutative. She couldn’t speak. Then all of a sudden, one day, she starts, blurts out, after I don't know how many hyperbaric treatments.
We were taking her to bed one night. My brother is really big and he can hold her. We said, ‘We'll take her off the walker and just see whether she can take some steps, and I'll hold it.’ So we were doing that and he had to completely hold her up. She's like a rag doll, right? When we finally get to the bed and she sits down, and she goes, she hadn't spoken a word, she goes, ‘Oh, seems my equilibrium’s a little bit off today.’ We just were like, ‘Oh, my God.’ Then she shut up again. She didn't talk for another… But I was like, ‘The intelligent mum is in the air. She's coming back. We got this. We're on the right track. We're doing the right things.’ In our case, hyperbaric, and diet, and tropics. Her brain was coming back.
So how many other children are being diagnosed with autism that actually have something gut-orientated going on? Maybe not this particular one. Maybe something else. Or how many other people have been told that they have some sort of thing that they don't have? Or that there's another way of approaching it? God, that must have been amazing. So you were lucky enough to have this special transplant. Is this now done regularly?
Kirsty: Yeah, it is.
Lisa: Can you get this now New Zealand and Australia?
Kirsty: Yes, yes. You can access it. But the thing is, now what I have learned, so I've gone on do the further study, and lots and lots and lots of bending down on this information. This is a while ago. The land has changed so much in the gut microbiome. We now know so much that not everyone needs a FMT to recover their gut, which is so exciting. For a long time, it was like, ‘Well, I think this is the only way forward.’ But it's not the case anymore.
A lot of people are, ‘Oh, the only way I can recover is an FMT.’ But it's really great news that we know so much about the gut. We know so much how to modulate the gut. Some people need to have an FMT, absolutely. You can access that. Children still can't, so I’m extremely lucky. It costs a lot of money. I mean, it still cost us so much to get there. We had to sell our house, we had like, all our savings, everything just went. But I wouldn't give it up.
Lisa: Yeah, whatever it takes.
Kirsty: He’s got attitude. He's talking. He's in school. He’s age-appropriate level and comes mountain bike riding with me.
Lisa: How old is he now?
Lisa: Oh, my gosh.
Kirsty: He's all attitude. But he's, we now work so much on the cognition. His brain did not develop. Very differently to your mum, we know that between zero and seven, brain and your gut, that is like the key to, basically, the rest of your life. From zero to five, it just wasn't the normal trajectory of how kids grow and learn and develop. We really had to take Noah right back to the start to rolling, to all the reflexes. We've got to... and it's tricky at the moment because he's going through puberty. Oh my God, is he going through puberty.
Lisa: Poor you.
Kirsty: I know. When he goes through puberty, all the neural pathways come right in, and they're all pruned for a teenage boy. Most teenage boys are like, ‘What?’ And all over the place as those neural pathways scream. This is a really challenging time for Noah because we were just trying to expand those neural pathways. They come back in. It's a big time.
Lisa: It still had ongoing effects, even though now he's a normal growth and all the normal we say, speaking normally.
Kirsty: Oh, yeah. We have to work on socialisation, and we really need to work on his immune system. His immune system still gets stuck. He struggles with the inflammation in his brain. In this course of this time, we also found out that Noah and I both have a condition called PANDAS, which is an autoimmune neurological condition associated with an antigen. We both live with quite a serious brain condition.
Kirsty: I was diagnosed only after living a whole life of immune and brain and gut issues. I was finally diagnosed, I would say, around 38 years old. When I went in, you will love this story, when I went in, because we were there for Noah, and I said, ‘Oh look, you might as well just run the labs on me because I'm pretty sure l am the same.’ So when they ran the labs, they came in and put the paper down. They showed me and he knows that I have an area of expertise in this space. He was like, ‘Which test do you think is yours?’ I chose the one that didn't have much information and chose the one that I thought was mine because obviously, Noah had all those things and he said, ‘No, no, no. This is you.’
Lisa: Oh, wow.
Kirsty: This is all of the inflammatory response and stuff that's going on. Then he said, ‘Have you been honest with us? You must be medicated, you must be on some steroids or anti-inflammatories. You must be on antidepressants. You can be honest with us like you can share.’ ‘What? No. I just use diet, lifestyle. I use all the stuff that you talk about. I use cryotherapy. I use nootropics. I use fermented foods. I manage my condition through all-natural means I don't take any…”
Lisa: You’re too high functioning for the bloodworks or your tests.
Kirsty: ‘How can you be an adult with this condition your whole life? You studied a PhD and you got four degrees and you like…’
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Lisa: What is PANDAS, in short?
Kirsty: It's very similar to what I was explaining before, but basically, I had strep throat. Just before I had that big inflammatory and viral encephalitis, I had my tonsils out. The antigen from the streptococcus had leaked into my brain. People don't know that what's infected in your body goes into your brain: foggy brain, all that sort of stuff. You have to investigate. You don't just suddenly wake up one day and you've got cognition issues; that's coming from somewhere.
Mine was based around streptococcus infections. Yes, they whipped out my tonsils because they thought that was the best thing. But the tonsillectomy made it worse because I had no line of defence in there to protect me. Those antigens, well, sorry, those being sort of endotoxins from the strep, it attaches to the basal ganglia, the part of movements and speech. They just couldn't believe it. I said that I spent so much time in nature amongst the microbes. Nature will bring your nervous system down.
Kirsty: I had been sort of self-medicating through all of my nature and my sports.
Lisa: You've managed it so well.
Kirsty: But it was such an anomaly to them. Truckloads of steroids, and this, and this.
Lisa: Have you tried hyperbaric? You have? Great. Because, again, for that brain.
Kirsty: Yes, exactly.
Lisa: Inflammation, very powerful.
Kirsty: It was interesting, about two and a half years ago, I had a quite serious accident on the netball court and suffered a traumatic brain injury. We were all so worried because of my brain.
Lisa: Yeah. It's already in trouble.
Kirsty: My Achilles heel that I just went into full... my mode of everything that I know that recovers the brain. Was I back after the fright? ‘Well, considering what's happened in your life, you probably might not recover for a minute.’
Lisa: Yeah because your brains had all these hits already. Obviously, your brain’s got a good one.
Kirsty: I keep working on it, but it's disorganised. I can't follow sequential, like, I can’t fill out a form. I can’t follow sequential thought very well.
Lisa: You can do a PhD for it. Doesn’t really quite need it, seriously.
Kirsty: No. But these are the thing’s we’re at. Yeah, all that sort of stuff.
Lisa: Wow, that's quite a story. How can we actually be proactive if we can't get an FMT or medicate and transplant or whatever you call it? Perhaps we don't have PANDAS, hopefully not. But there are a lot of people listening who may have had autistic children because it's something like 1 in 40 or something? Ridiculous now. You have to ask yourself why.
I had Dr David Minkoff on the show a few months ago and he was saying it used to be one in 250,000. Now it's like something like 1 in 40. What's going on? We've got to start asking ourselves, is it our food? Our digestion? Is it our microbes? What the heck is going on? Is it Derossett vaccines back in the day? Not talking about the current one, but just generally, with aluminums and things like that causing autoimmune disorders. What is it? That's still a big question mark. I think there's a lot of stuff happening in that space. I'm not abreast of it all.
But yeah, so what is your take on how can we, sit and listening to this, how can we look after your microbiome better? What can we learn today that can help us? And then we'll get on to your programs because you've got big whole programs that we can go and do and now that we've found you. But tell us, what's your take on how do we look after it after adapting?
Kirsty: Yeah. So the first thing is just test, don't guess. It's phenomenal how far the testing has come. Even in the last 18 months, it just exploded. We really find out what is happening in our gut, and we can find out what it is doing to the rest of our body. Don't sit around going, ‘I’ll try and eat a diet this way.’ Or ‘I think I'll take some parasite, herbs.’ Or ‘Maybe I'll go to the chemists, or the farmers, or the health food store. I'll try this little mixture because I think I've got an overgrowth of this.’ Just don't mess around with that. Go in and spend the money on getting a comprehensive stool analysis, because suddenly, it's the window into your health.
If I had been able to find out that now I had Clostridium difficile when it first led after 13 months. Imagine, as opposed to almost five. I see so many people with these things that they went to Morocco, they caught a bug, they had horrific belly of some description and they came back and then it was just this gradual decline. Suddenly they're 40, and they’ve got an autoimmune condition, and they feel absolutely crapola.
Lisa: Don’t equate the two.
Kirsty: Because it's this insidious, slow decline that turn into, until I'll get into a consult and say, ‘When was the last time that you felt well?’ It's interesting. I’m always like, ‘Oh, well, I felt fine and I was overseas.’ Or ‘I had this big trauma and then I just got food poisoning.’ You can also pinpoint it, which is good. So just sticking with and finding out the history and really diving into that can help. But the number one thing is just don't mess around. Just get the test, find out what you're dealing with and it can make the biggest difference.
Lisa: Where do we get the test, Kirsty? We can go to you, we can go through your programs, and that would have a comprehensive, the test plus, whatever is required. I suppose at the end.
Kirsty: Yeah. I have lots and lots and lots of clients in New Zealand and we use two tests and one test we can ship from Australia, that's fine. Then there's another test that we organise through Nutri-Pak that we work with Nutri-Pak New Zealand. We're quite used to organising and ordering those tests.
Lisa: Wow. Okay, that's on my family's agenda.
Kirsty: By the way, Medicare-approved. Yeah, that would just be your barometer.
Lisa: You know Kristy, I am a bit off-topic, but one of my visions is to create an institution and I have no means and resources of any way to do this right now. But, okay, my big vision is to have a one-stop-shop, where you come in once a year for a warrant of fitness. You get your microbiome test to get your whole genome sequenced, you get fMRI or MRI, you get echocardiograms, and you get ECGs and blood tests, and then we get all of this data.
Then we have people who can help us interpret this data and go, ‘Okay, I think you've got cancer growing in your pancreas or something that's just starting. Let's get on to it now.’ Or ‘You've got a problem and your microbiome with XYZ. Start this program.’ Wouldn't it be great if we had a one-stop-shop rather than us piecing together? It's wonderful, ‘I found Kristy now. I'm going to swap my microbiome. And then, I'm going to go to Lisa, I'll get my epigenetics done. And then, I'll go over there, and I'll get my XYZ done.’
Only very, very proactive people are going to do that, and it costs a shitload of money. But, if you, if this was actually a one-stop-shop, and if we could get it to being democratised. It got to a point where it was demonetised because it was a standard system that every person went through and it was funded by the medical system as a preventative so that we catch all these diseases before they take off and become out of control. Then we're putting band-aids on band-aids on festering wounds. Just the approach that we have, this jigsaw puzzle.
I know this type of program is available in the States, but it's high-flying executives who own millions of dollars that can afford it right now. The first approach was actually in the medical model and this is what I'm hoping. I was hoping, I'm thinking of doing a PhD, something around these topics. Is there a way? I don't know if I can manage it but we'll see. Because this new approach of being ahead of the game, ahead of the curve, before, not behind the curve.
We're always waiting ‘til the person is diabetic, before we're making, doing something and giving them insulin, and then the horse has bolted, and then you've already got the comorbidities that are already in line with that. You got an increased cancer risk. You got an increased risk of Alzheimer's. You got an increased risk of heart disease, etcetera, and it's just on the metabolic side of things. If we were doing this type of stuff preventatively, and at the moment, it's up to you and me and 1000 other specialists in the areas, and you've got to go shopping. So one of the other dreams I have is to make a dating app for medical.
Kirsty: I love that. I love it.
Lisa: I have no idea how to develop an app or anything like that. But like, you would have your Uber or your Airbnb or your whatever, these platforms. We’ve got technology now, if we've got some clever brains how to do all that fancy software stuff, which I have no idea of. But you know what I mean? Wouldn't that be amazing? A dating app for medicals. You could find out who's the best longevity specialist? What's their ratings and how do I get to see them? Or chiropractors.
Kirsty: I love it. That is really the reason why I started up Kultured Wellness was because I didn't want someone to have to go somewhere else to get the testing and someone to have to go and get the bloods. Go and have to get the genetic stuff done.
Lisa: You do it all in house. We need to like we need to get together. Sorry. I'll jump again but I like collaborations between people like you and me and a number of others that we can at least go, ‘Hey, I've got a patient here, I've hit the wall, or I've done everything I can do. Can I pass them over to you? So you can do your piece of the puzzle.’
Kirsty: Yeah. I'm slowly getting the kind of feelers out for the networks because we're big fans obviously, on IV, vitamin C. Finding medical clinics and places in Australia and we've also been looking over in New Zealand as well, where we can send our patients to and have a beautiful collaborative approach with those medical centres. We've got a Kultured Wellness person coming in and we use a shared care approach.
The doctor can then go and have a look at their notes can see what they're on, what they've been doing, and then get them in for the IV, or get them in for the hyperbaric chamberm or saunas, or just accessing some stuff. Because not everyone's gonna have a sauna in their house or not everyone's going to have a cryo machine or a hyperbaric chamber. They're very, very important that, like you said, it all costs a truckload of money. We have no money, we sold everything just to clinic. It’s is all back on track.
Lisa: So you and I both, we've both spent a second house on getting our family's health back to square one, not even square one. Then going, ‘Hang on a minute.’ We have to talk offline on all that stuff because we have to collaborate on our networks. But developing these mastermind groups, really, or a group of people that have this attitude of, ‘No, these are my little marbles. I'm not sharing them with you.’ Because it's not an approach. It's actually doesn't get the client anywhere. It's like, ‘Hang on, you're better at this. Take over here.’
Kirsty: Yeah. But probably the other thing that I would say is once you've done your testing, which is so important is, you would be a big believer in this, like, if you want to make change, you've got to front up to make the change. What I see is really difficult for people is they want to make change to their diet, they understand how important their gut health is, but if they don't include fermented foods and they don't include nourishing foods for their gut, they're relying on willpower.
No one can get anywhere with willpower. You might last a day, you might last three, but you will get stressed and when you get stressed, your cortisol levels go up. When your cortisol levels go up, your insulin levels go up, and then you require carbs and sugar. No amount of willpower can go against that primal built-in setpoint that we have. If we’re in a state of fight or flight, we need quick fuel because it thinks we’re needing to run away.
Lisa: We're sabotaged by our microbiome, basically. Like bugs are telling our brain what chemistry, and that chemistry is making us do things we don't want to do. This is what addiction is and this is what cravings are, and understanding that it's not all your fault, people.
Kirsty: No. You include fermented foods and they start to change the landscape. Then suddenly, you're relying on your microbes, and you're relying on your body system as opposed to willpower. Then, ‘Ah! It’s been like two weeks, and I haven't felt like having a doughnut.’ or ‘I haven't felt like having a glass of wine.’ You start to see these incremental changes because your body is working how it should, as opposed to working in this real state of alarm and stress.
Focusing on, yes your food is very important. Just got to cut out the carp; it’s as simple as that. Everyone knows that. It's what everyone finds hard and doesn't know, is that you should never rely on willpower. Diets will never work. It's your amine, it's your amine and your gut. They have to be working for you and that's where you start to fly. Because like I just don't crave any of those foods. I crave boring stuff like bone broth and because my microbes tell me, like, I've just been out for a massive two-hour ride and my body and my microbes is telling me, ‘You need some protein and electrolytes.’
I can actually hear my body telling me what it needs to rebuild after being out on the bike. Very different too, if I would have been on the bike previously, I would have been like, ‘Oh, I need a bag of chips. I really feel like shortbreads.’ That's what you would then go and eat and who recovers from a bag of chips and shortbreads? Nobody's body's going to.
Lisa: They are our old way of thinking and certainly my old way was thinking, ‘I've just smashed the crap out of myself for X amount of hours. I can afford to have the chips. I can’t afford to have that.’ It was the reason why because I love my food. I've gone and run, so I’m gonna eat more.
Kirsty: My brother does that.
Lisa: These amounts of food equates to this much exercise.
Kirsty: That does not work.
Lisa: Unfortunately, not with my body. Totally, it does not work. Now what about one of the programs? Some people are very sensitive to the histamines and things. Then some, you know more about this more than I do, but the fermented foods can sometimes cause reactions in some people's bodies. Can you talk to that a little bit?
Kirsty: Okay. So we have two types of fermented foods. One is a wild-type. You're basically fermenting what's in the cabin. What's in the food, what's in the sauerkraut, and what's in your environment. Whatever microbes around you. They have histamine-forming foods, so lactate-forming metabolites. For some people, I mean most people who are sensitive to histamines have either got parasites, or they've got things like biophilia in their gut. They need to investigate as opposed to saying, ‘Oh, I'm histamine intolerant. I cannot have it.’
We also have microbes in our gut that consume histamine and actually help us to not have histamine issues. When you do a test you can see, ‘Oh, I don't have any histamine consuming microbes. No wonder I'm having all of these issues. I've got parasites and parasites release histamines as their byproduct.’ We need to investigate with histamine stuff.
But you also can have a cultured ferment. Now, these are very specific ferments where the strains have been specifically chosen and they, the list goes on. It's in a very controlled environment and you only ferment the strains that you know, as opposed to a wild, it could be anything. With someone who is struggling with histamines or they're struggling with lactate-forming metabolites, then you need to choose the D-lactate bacteria strains. Because a lot of us don't have the enzyme that converts the lactate into the D-lactate. So we have a lactic acid buildup, and then we get arthritis and joint pain, and all of that kind of stuff.
Whereas the D-lactate strains are breaking down, they down-regulate histamines. They help to consume it. They don't cause a lot of reactions. That is the sole reason why I developed my cultures. When I first started getting into fermented foods, I couldn't hand any of the wild ferments. It made matters worse. My body couldn't process it as it’s full of lactate, I felt horrible. Then I kind of dived into the research. I said ‘I wonder about these two different types.’
Lisa: Yeah, I didn't know this.
Kirsty: Yeah, yeah. So the D-lactate strains is the ones that are in the cultures I developed. You know exactly what you're fermenting and you know that they're going to be beneficial for you. You can start with those at small amounts. Start to build out your microbiome, and like, so I can have wild ferments now. Fine. I have the genetics, I can't break down histamines, salicylates and all those sorts of things, but my gut’s doing it for me. So I don’t worry about it. Then as you sort of grow up in your cultured foods, you still stick on in cultured foods but you can dabble in the wild ferment.
Lisa: Build up your tolerance like you’ve done with yourself.
Kirsty: Yeah, and so a very big mission of mine is I can't stand when people say ‘Oh, well, I can't have fermented food.’
Lisa: Yeah, well, that's what I thought like certain people are not suited to having the fermented foods.
Kirsty: Their gut is producing so much. It's called an auto-brewery effect. Your gut will produce toxins and all sorts of stuff. Some of those toxins are histamine-forming so you've got to get rid of that problem but also the strains as well.
Lisa: When you say you've got these cultures, so we can buy these cultures off you? Do we have to make our own yogurt or something from those cultures? Or can we just take them in a tablet form?
Kirsty: No, you make them yourself. We have the static culture, which is like a cup of yogurt. You make your own coconut yogurt from that. So you fermented that with yourself at home. Then you can start low and slow and you can slowly work your way up to be able to have a robust amount of fermented foods in your diet.
Lisa: Wow. So you’d send over the yogurt like we did the program? You've seen me over a cup of yogurt. Oh, good. Then what would I have to do?
Kirsty: Yeah. Then basically you made it into a jam and you need some coconut cream, and you put the cream, coconut cream, and you put the starter together, working in the jar, and then in about 24 to 48 hours, it's ready. It just tastes really tart. Super tart, super tiny, and then you eat that. But the cultures that I developed have nine different strains in them. Their strains are researched for their efficacy for autoimmune conditions, for neurological disorders, for digestive capabilities, being able to create nutrients like B12, immune response. Yeah, I kind of like went around. It's like you have to see the perfect netball team.
Lisa: Really? How do you buy it? How do you have this regularly? Because you need to do this constantly, don't you? You need to be having these. It's not a one-and-done and you’re alright.
Kirsty: Yeah. So you make the first two litres, and you make them in two-litre batch. Once that's been fermented, you take a cup from that to start your next batch. Make a cup to start your next batch. After five ferments, it's best to get a new culture because we can't really look at the efficacy of keeping those beautiful cultured strains. Slowly, you're starting to introduce wild strains and people can sometimes become sensitive again, after those five batches. So then we go back to a new culture starter and start over again.
Lisa: Right. How long so would a starter kit last you for, before you have to get the next slot sort of thing, like a month at a time or?
Kirsty: Yeah. I mean, once you've made a batch that will last in the fridge for three to six months because it's wild food, fermented food. It depends how much you eat. I sort of recommend a cup of yogurt a day. That's 50 mils. What’s that, sort of eight cups in the two litres?
Lisa: So you do a fair amount.
Kirsty: Yeah, so you need to get go through it then you just make the next batch.
Lisa: Wow, this is great. We can get there because, you know, like people go and buy the whatever off-the-shelf probiotics, and think that is going to be doing stuff. It's not even getting to the places it needs to from what I understand.
Kirsty: Right. Then also the probiotics from the market at the moment, like one capsule might have 3 million Cfu. Colony-forming units, which is basically how we measure the strength probiotic. Whereas a cup of the Kultured Wellness yogurt that you've fermented yourself at home has 41 billion. You have to go really slow, it's a therapeutic food, like your gut dysbiosis. You've got to start at a quarter of a teaspoon at a time. And then you work…
Lisa: Wow, yeah. Then you work your way up to a cup.
Kirsty: Yeah. Then you have a cup of day, and have some coconut kefir, and some sauerkraut, and have some beat to bass. It just becomes every time you have a main meal, you just have a little handful of something on the side to help with digestion, help with your stomach acid, to be able to support, to extrapolate those nutrients.
Lisa: A lot of people too are not having, and it’s a genetic, so looking at, we're not studied genetics and things a lot of people don't produce a lot of amylase, a lot of lipase, a lot of these pancreatic... When they get older, of course, you're not producing these enzymes that break down our food. Can it help with that as well?
Kirsty: Yeah, absolutely. In the absence of those digestive enzymes or in the absence of stomach acid, which is another major problem in today's huge issues, fermented food is pre-digested because of the fermenting process. You don't require such a robust amount of digestive enzymes. It actually supports the excretion of stomach acid and sort of bringing that stomach acid up and creating that acidic environment to digest.
It's kinda like a little helping hand if your digestive system is weak or it's just not doing fine. Every time we digest a meal, it requires 500 mils of blood to the digestive system to even get on with the job. Let alone the amount of stomach acid you need to make. It starts in our brain, the systolic base in our brain, which actually gets all of the digestive enzymes, amylase. This is a whole process. If this one fails and if this one fails, at least you’ve got something to depend on, helping you.
Lisa: A lot of people have been put on proton pump inhibitors when they get heartburn and reflux. It's actually the gut not having enough stomach acid, not too much. When we’re putting a proton pump inhibitor, which, okay, if you've got a stomach ulcer, you may need for a short period of time because it stops you being able to digest proteins and break the foods down.
That becomes this vicious circle then people become protein deficient, and then their body's not getting enough proteins to do what it needs to do because you're on these proton pump inhibitors instead of going the other way and putting in more stomach acid into the stomach to make the esophagus close off, essentially, stop the reflex coming up and down. But this would also help, wouldn't it? I mean, apart from the whole... the stomach acid and taking betaine there's a tablet which can do. Hut this would be another way of approaching the same problem.
Kirsty: Exactly. Yeah.
Lisa: Wow, this is just insane. Like we’ve gone all over the show. Kirsty, I'm really excited for this. We're going to put all the links in the show notes to your packages and your coaching and what you do at Kultured Wellness. Any last words that you'd like to share and get people thinking about before they go away?
Kirsty: I think, I suppose my kind of big mantra is, just be super curious about what's going on and try your best to become connected with your body to be curious. Massive revelation for me was I was living so disconnected from my actual body, and its functions. and what was happening. I was so elevated and stressed out. When you're unwell, you are in a state of fight or flight all the time. I just really encourage people to be able to become more in tune with their body, and listen to what their body is saying, and settle with it. Really investigate that and be curious as opposed to like, ‘Oh, this is how it's always been, and this is how it will be because my family has a history of that.’
Lisa: Yeah, so I'm destined into it.
Kirsty: I’m destined to it. You’re just not where 90, between 80 and 90% microbial community so microbes, fungi, viruses, and then only about 10 to 20% DNA. DNA is not what we should be focusing on. Yes, we need to know but it's actually the microbes and those fungi and viruses that make up our whole body that actually interacts through that. Obviously, you understand epigenetics, and yeah, that's the interaction. We can switch those genes on and off through our microbes and through how they're performing and what they're doing. We've got to know that piece of the puzzle, and most people don't. That curiosity, and taking that responsibility, and owning it, and wanting more for yourself is really important.
Lisa: Not just giving up when somebody says to you, ‘Your son's got autism and there is no way forward.’ Or ‘Your mum’s...’ Yeah, nonverbal, not gonna meet any of the milestones. It's not always the case is that they don't understand. This is where being an investigator. You have to investigate. No one person, not you, not I, not anybody has got all the answers and knows everything. But if you just keep chipping away at, ‘Okay, I'll try this, and I'll develop that, and I'll learn this.’ You have a much better chance at least, of getting out, healthy from whatever you're dealing with rather than just going, ‘Okay, that's it. I have to give up; that’s life.’
This is the same with the DNA stuff. It's not deterministic. It is just giving you a heads up on what you may be dealing with. If you put the right environment around that DNA, if you've got your DNA in the centre, and then you have the right lifestyle, nutrition, and sleep around that to support your genetics then you've got a good combination going on, which is easier said than done. But at least if you know what you're dealing with, you can start to operate and go in the right direction.
Kirsty: Yeah and that's the thing. You know that genetically you're prone to inflammation. I just need to focus more than my friend here who is not prone to it on an anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle. It sets you up beautifully. It’s the best piece of information. If you don't know it, how are you gonna know?
Lisa: Yeah and they don't want to know, ‘I'd rather not.’ But yes, because then you can fix it. Unless you wanna get hit with it, whatever stroke, heartache, name, pick your poison, is gonna come and hit you with fear in the face. So why stick your head in the sand? Why not look it in the face earlier. Be courageous. Look it in the face and go, ‘Okay, this is the genes are being dealt. What do I do about it? What's the best I can do?’ Then make your decisions from there, you know? You've been wonderful today, Kirsty. Your face glows. You glow health. Something you're doing, something right, man.
Kirsty: It's because of the amount of sweating from sport.
Lisa: You're just glowing with health. It's what you are. That's all those microbiomes go and microbes going. ‘Yes. We all want to look like Kirsty.’ Thank you very much for your time today, Kristy. It's been absolutely wonderful.
Kirsty: Thank you.
That's it this week for Pushing The Limits. Be sure to rate, review, and share with your friends and head over and visit Lisa and her team at lisatamati.com.
What listeners are saying
My favourite running podcast by miles⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
This is the best podcast for long runs. Lisa is just so relatable, honest, funny and inspires me to push my own limits. Awesome guests (I particularly enjoyed the podcast with Kim Morrison) and a wide variety of topics covered. Thanks for keeping me running, Lisa!
Jinni S via Apple Podcasts · Australia · 07/02/19
My favourite podcast ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Helps me get through my boring desk job. Absolutely love this podcast. Great topics and advice that has helped me to better myself and my approach to running.
Two thumbs up ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Always great guests, great insights and learnings that can be applied immediately for every level of experience.
Motivational and Inspirational ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
I am getting my mojo back with regards to my health and running after treatment for breast cancer, I connected with Lisa as I was looking for positive influences from people who are long distance runners and understand our mindset. Lisa’s podcasts have been a key factor in getting me out of a negative space where I allowed others limiting beliefs to stop me from following my heart and what I believe is right for me. After 18 months of being in cancer recovery mode I wanted to get out of the cancer mindset and back to achieving goals that had been put aside. Listening to Pushing The Limits has put me onto other great podcasts, and in the process I have learnt so much and am on a pathway to a much better place with my mindset and health. Thanks so much Lisa for doing what you do and always being you.