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045: How and Why You Should Have Metabolic Flexibility with Dr. Nasha Winters

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Do you know how and why you should have metabolic flexibility? Our guest today is an expert on the topic and she’s here to explain why it’s so important.

Dr. Nasha Winters is an internationally known healthcare authority in integrative cancer research. She consults with physicians around the world bridging ancient therapies with advancements in modern medicine in the digital era. She’s also the best-selling author of the book “The Metabolic Approach to Cancer”.

You’d never know it to look at her today, but Dr. Nasha’s journey in the wellness world began at age 19 when she was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer. Today we’ll get into her journey, epigenetics, including the epigenetics of cancer, and how we can be an active participant in our health. 

Dr. Nasha shares what it was like to receive her life-altering diagnosis before she explains what it means to be metabolically flexible. You may have heard the term metabolic syndrome, which is basically pre-diabetes. Many diseases and disorders stem from this state, according to Dr. Nasha.

As a species we are meant to be hybrids: we need to be able to burn sugar when necessary and burn fat when necessary. Our bodies are basically like a Prius: we should be able to run off of different fuels easily and when needed.

But since the mass production of flour and sugar in the late 19th century that has changed. Now our bodies are dealing with large quantities of sugar and other refined sugars, it’s the dominant force in our diets and it isn’t healthy. 

Unfortunately, some of our bodies do not have the genetics to handle this type of diet and it can make those people very sick. Other people’s epigenetics are such that they cannot process dairy or other animal products. Yet other people don’t process legumes well. In either case, trying to do so will make them sick. To find out if someone falls into either of these categories, she recommends doing testing and/or taking her metabolic health quiz.

She goes on to give examples of what it looks like to be metabolically flexible (for example: eating certain foods in certain seasons) and how to be a participant versus a passenger in our own health journeys. She’s working to bridge the gap between the holistic health world and Western medicine, which she describes on today’s show. Join us on today’s episode of Awesome Health Podcast with the one and only Dr. Nasha Winters.

Episode Resources:

Read The Episode Transcript :

Wade Lightheart: Good morning, good afternoon and good evening. It's Wade T Lightheart from the Awesome Health Podcast and we have another action packed interview for you today. We have Dr Nasha Winters now. She is a sought-after luminary in the global healthcare community. She's an authority in integrative cancer research. In fact, she consults with physicians around the world bridging ancient therapies. I love that with advancements in modern medicine in the digital era she's doing so much great stuff. And she was on a lot of the bioptimization summits and stuff in the UK and I think, I hope she's coming back there cause I'm going back there this fall. But a couple things to note about Dr. Winters is that since the beginning of the 20th century, cancer rates have increased exponentially. As people know, I'm an advisor to the American Anti-cancer Institute.
Wade Lightheart: I lost my sister at an early age, which got started to cancer, which kind of started and impacted me. But now cancer is affecting over 50% of the population. Crazy. Now here's the thing. Dr. Winters first experience with cancer was at the age of 19. She was diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer and given only a few months to live. Now obviously when you see her on video, if you're watching on video, definitely a transcended that we don't need to know. But that story and what's interesting is she has gone to naturopathic medical school. She wrote a book called "The Metabolic Approach to Cancer." We're going to dive into that as well. And she talks today, she's going to talk to us about optimized, genetically-tuned diet shuns grains, legumes, sugar genetically modified, all bunch of things that we need to get rid of.
Wade Lightheart: We're going to get all of that stuff. I won't go into all the details. I'll let her talk. And she offers door to door consults as a way to support physicians who are working day in and day out to support cancer patients. This is a great resource because there's so many doctors who, you know, they got the training 10, 20, 30, 40 years ago and a lot changed. They have been handcuffed, they're busy billing people, their buildings, doing all this stuff. And you're out there on the front lines educating the people that make the big difference. What a great power move Dr. Winters, welcome to the show.
Nasha Winters: Wow. What a great intro. I'm like that. That was awesome. So thank you for that. Really happy to be here. And as I said to you before the recording started, I'm really touched by your story. I feel like none of us end up in this conversation. We've had a very personal experience with it. It's no different for you. It's no different for me. And I'm really passionate about trying to help prevent that 50% of the population that may be facing this in their lifetime.
Wade Lightheart: Everybody, everybody is touched by cancer. And that's why we brought it on here because first and foremost, let's back the truck up. Let's get your back history. What happened prior to that, cause I think this is important. People get a cancer diagnosis and they think they just got cancer the day they got the diagnosis. Right? So what happened before, what was your life like before you got your cancer diagnosis? What happened when you got that diagnosis and then how did you just take a terminal determination? Like this is someone told you it's over. It's curtains. Prepare yourself. How did you like, I need to know the whole process cause there's probably something, somebody listening today that may be in this situation right now or they may be in this situation in the future. And I think you're speaking from experience and obviously your looks are, you're so bright and so vibrant and you're doing this. This is so amazing. So tell us all about it. Give us the goodness. I'll shut up and let you go.
Nasha Winters: This is perfect and I appreciate that. And just a quick note, we are in the middle of a festival down here in Mexico and they love to like set off like loud.
Wade Lightheart: Boom. Latin America loves loudness. They love the loud.

Nasha Winters: Yeah, it's the festival of peace, which is even more ironic. So when you hear the cannon behind me, that's what that is.
Wade Lightheart: Just celebrating life.

Nasha Winters: Exactly. It cracks me up. So on that note, you are so spot on when you say that folks sort of go to bed, wake up with a diagnosis and think it literally came on overnight and the research has shown us as my own experience that this has been going on anywhere from 7 to 10 years or longer before it's big enough and loud enough to capture our attention. And normally our bodies are met with thousands and thousands of insults on a day to day basis that we have miraculously been able to handle and overcome until sort of the drops in the bucket hit a particular sort of, you know, mass that it can no longer hold back the tide if you will. And therefore we start to get symptomatic and see something big enough and loud enough to capture it. So unfortunate.
Nasha Winters: before we joke about the doctor's office or pregnancy and you know, I joke that today I'm still trying to kick the ashtray off her belly. She's like got the George Burns gene or something in this mix. We also had a strong strong family history, well before we knew in the mid nineties about the BRCA gene, we had a strong family history on both sides of the cancer. So a lot of folks when they hear about cancer, they think, "Oh, I'm doomed because I have the genetic predisposition for it." Only about 5% of cancers are truly genetic, meaning something that's woven into the hardware of our genetics. But things like the BRCA gene, we act like it's something set in stone and yet it's actually an epigenetic switch. And what this little fella is all about how our body repairs DNA. So if you have a hiccup in this particular genetic disorder, this BRCA gene, you are theoretically and you know, per all the research, a higher likelihood of having breast, ovarian, prostate, pancreatic, colorectal cancers in general.
Nasha Winters: And so we sort of have put it out there into the world that if people have that gene, they're really in trouble. And what I want your listeners to hear is what we've learned in our, the first time we really knew about this was in the mid nineties we thought, well if we just target that gene will be all good. Well that wasn't the case. And then we thought, well if we remove body parts preemptively or take certain medications preemptively, we'll be good. Well that's not the case. And in fact, the survival rate of patients with this BRCA gene is no different than somebody else without this gene diagnosed with cancer. So you might be diagnosed but your survival rate is no different. So we've kind of put a lot more, I guess, sort of focus on this as the problem. And yet it's just part of us.
Nasha Winters: It's how our body detoxifies. It's how our body deals with day to day stressors, day to day thoughts they've made food and down to its core. It's a process of methylation and how it deals with those processes. And that's why it's also something that we can impact with our diet and our lifestyle. But when people hear they've got a BRCA gene or they had a sister or a mother who passed away from cancer and they are afraid of getting tested because they don't want to know. Then I'm trying to educate people on that it is just another piece of information and it really doesn't change your outcomes. You want to be more mindful to help your DNA repair itself. Like we talked about, we're all hit with lots of things over and over and if you do have that particular hiccup, you need to give your body a little extra support. Like maybe don't do a lot of x-rays, right? My BRCA gene folks are very, very sensitive to radiation and yet what do we tell our these patients to do? We tell them to get mammograms every six months if that's like we're actually increasing their risk.
Wade Lightheart: I think that this is what mayb the biggest change that's happened in the last decade is recognizing that genetics is not the end all. It has been that there is this epigenetics, which is here's the genetics and what are the things that turn this switch on or off and so environment both, as I say externally and internally actually are going to determine much more than your individual genes. So, continue on. I just wanted to make a little commentary on that because I'm super pumped about today.
Nasha Winters: Well, and that why this kind of took that little side road into the, into Brockville is because what we didn't know of my genetics and of my origin was this other component. And we did have people sick in my family and getting cancer more often than other families in the community where my family grew up and we didn't understand why, but we also weren't looking at the fact that life estate was brand new, you know, in 1971 to the farming community where I grew up in or that the smoking really increases your risk of methylation problems down to two generations below you at least that were shown. So if a parent was a smoker, even second or third hand to their offspring, their likelihood of cancer is much higher. So what we didn't find out until my diagnosis with 91 of this process, I didn't know until 1996 so it was one of the early people tested for the BRCA gene that I had the BRCA gene.
Nasha Winters: One of the other sort of issues around that was the fact that I was exposed to cigarette smoke growing up. Second and third hand, that definitely put a little pressure on my system. I also grew up in a very stressful, very toxic, very detrimental environment. You know, so a lot of addictions, a lot of abuse, a lot of trauma. So on ACE scores, adverse childhood events, scores, I had 10 out of 10 which is not something people talk about really about those pieces and how that impacts cancer. And yet we've seen the more cases you have to the ACE score, which are 10 questions about experiences you had before the age of 10. The higher likelihood of chronic illness and cancer in your young adult life, which fits into the profile they're growing up. Where I grew up, I was near several airforce sites, right?
Nasha Winters: I lived in a town where there were several air force bases and all those industries around me were all alive and well. The water, groundwater, very, very, very contaminated. So now looking back at my colleagues and I went to high school with, they're all dealing with in their thirties and forties. Incredible counselors and their parents have since passed on from really weird cancers. So my point is I had a lot of reasons why my terrain was so broken by the time I was 19. And even prior to that, I never had normal functioning. I was born allergic to everything. They had to put me finally on soy formula cause that's what my body could handle. You can only imagine what that did to my growing budding endocrine system. I started bleeding when I was nine years old, which was unheard of back in the late seventies when that happened.
Nasha Winters: Today that's not unheard of, right? But unfortunately back then that was, and by the time I was 14, I'd had a first diagnosis of cervical cancer, 16 a second diagnosis, multiple root canals during that time. And by the time I was 19, I would been so sick with such symptoms of digestion, endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome, Hashimoto's thyroiditis, celiac disease, rheumatoid arthritis, catch my drift. I was not well by 19, this is by 19 and I didn't even know, nor did my doctors, nor did my family think that was wrong or weird. They just associate it with, that was just me.
Wade Lightheart: That's a great, that's a great point here for a second. And I want to pause for a second because this is the part that I find shocking about the world and that is that people are in this moment where they're like, I have an array of physical conditions or array of challenges or whatever at whatever age. And it's just seen as normal. There's like, there doesn't seem to be any associative lifestyle cause they just said they just magically happened one day. And that's the part that drives me bananas because it's like, you know, we would never do this in business accounting system. Well we just made $1 million or we just lost a million. Or you know, like you, never do that. You would never, you know, take a look in analysis of a relationship. I don't know the relationship, just one workout.
Wade Lightheart: There had nothing to do with me, nothing to do with, you just didn't, you know what I mean? Like we would never do this analysis on virtually any aspect of our life. But here on the biggest thing is our health thing. All of a sudden it's just like the stork came in and dropped whatever illness on you and now we're going to blast you with whatever and, and then give you some statistical number about, well you have a 95% chance of success or a 95% chance that you're going to die, get your fares in order. And that's pretty much, it's now we have a mathematical model. Suddenly after you get the diagnosis, nothing leading to past.
Nasha Winters: You nailed it because that's my experience, all the layers, like how many was it, you said it so beautifully that it's now be kind of regarded as normal, but I haven't changed the language and when I'm talking to patients or physicians about common is not necessarily normal as we see it often and regularly. And it feels like everybody you know, is dealing with it does not make it normal. So that's the difference in this process as well. And like you said, we put more attention on choosing a car versus we do, you know, analyzing our health. We definitely don't do any preventative steps. Our idea of preventative medicine in this country is to smash and radiate tissues of your body. You know, or put things up your butt with a microphone, you know, with a camera to see what's going on.
Nasha Winters: That is by no means prevention of anything. If anything, it's early diagnosis so that people can start treating you in the machine as quickly as possible with no real difference in outcomes. Right? So that's where it gets kind of cloogy and all of this. So for me, by the time I'd had multiple drugs and medicines and treatments and diagnoses laid over me, in fact, even doctors telling my mom up until I was age five, I pooped once a month and they'd be like, well, that's normal. That's normal. So broken, so sick, so toxic, so symptomatic. No one was interested in the fact that I was so colicky and sick and bloated and malnourished. And you know, it took until, it was not even until the mid to early, like 2005 or six that I was finally officially diagnosed with celiac. Even though now with all the epigenetics we're going to dive into, we could go and see that my entire family of origin had the HLA-DQ gene in multiple areas, making us higher predispositions to celiac disease, autoimmune disease, cancers, cardiovascular disease, a multitude of risk issues around mycotoxins.
Nasha Winters: So sensitivity to mold, toxicity and co-infections. We didn't know this. So every moment, every year, every decade I stayed alive since this diagnosis, I keep learning more in retrospect. So where I was, if you're asking me, it's really hard for me to go back to that because I knew nothing. You know, I was a latchkey kid who lived on a fast food and boxed packages because that's what we did to survive. We were very, very poor. I worked at hot dog on a stick all through junior high and high school and that's where I got my square meal, right? My mom was trying to get help raise her children would send us off to whoever wanted to take us to church with them on Sunday, just so she know we'd have one good meal a week. Like that's where I came from. So that's this place where nutrition was.
Nasha Winters: We were just doing the best we could, you know, like giant bulk packages of weird pink meat. And my mom would buy 50 pound bags of potatoes and 50 pound bags of onions and we would live pretty much on Heinz ketchup, fried onions and fried potatoes and pink meat. That's what I grew up on. And so those are the things that people ask. It's amazing to me I did not just drop dead somewhere before. And so the irony is what I've learned along the way and I learned in, for some very tenacious, you know, I'm very stubborn and I think if someone tells me something can't be done, that's actually like a dare. So I think that helped me, you know, anger or power, emotion, the sort of energy behind feeling angry, which is what I was when I was given this diagnosis cause I spent almost a year in and out of the emergency room trying to have somebody help me figure out what was going on because I knew it was similar like to all of my lifelong experiences, but it was different and it was worse.
Nasha Winters: And everyone's just like, Oh, it's just an IBS flare. Oh, it's just an endometriosis flare. Oh, it's just a polycystic ovarian, your cysts ruptured. It wasn't until I looked like I was a 10 month pregnant woman with the fluid built-up in my abdomen that my organs had completely gone into failure, that I was nearly unconscious, that my oxygen levels were in the 70s that they realized I had fluid building up in all my tissues outside of where it should be around my heart and my lungs was in cardiac failure, kidney failure, liver failure, that they finally did proper workup on me and realized, wow, this woman is an end stage organ failure secondary to stage 4 ovarian cancer. So you can understand all the why, but we didn't know that.
Wade Lightheart: Right. So you got the diagnosis, what was going through your head in that moment?
Nasha Winters: You know, this is what's so wild and I've shared this with other people. I was in a time in my life when I really didn't want to be here. In fact, I'd spent a couple occasions between the age of 16 and 18 actually trying to take my life and for me, what happened in that moment? It was like a switch went off. Probably that dare concept again was you're going to die. And even though I had wished for it for so long, I suddenly realized that's not exactly what I wanted. I did not want the previous experience I had any longer. I did not want that pain anymore, but I also didn't want to die. So something in me woke up and decide, no, that's not how it's going to go. And I honestly didn't think I would survive. I just thought, well, I'm gonna go out fighting.
Nasha Winters: I'm going to go out and learning why. I did have inquisitive mind. I was premed, I was interested in biology and chemistry and all those components. I was dual major in those. In fact, at the time of my diagnosis, and what it did for me is once they told me 'you're so, you're too sick to even have a single dose of chemotherapy course, here's a second opinion, go get the second opinion and go get on palliative care'. At that point, the second opinion docs were like, you might have three months with treatment now. But I know looking back, they didn't expect me to live three weeks beyond that point, really of what was going on in my body. So that led me to being angry that I was dismissed and really ignored and really, you know, kinda just coddled in that period of time I was angry and that anger fueled this concept in Chinese medicine known as the will to become anger was the catalyst and it landed me in the library after my second opinion that had me sit down, pull a book off the shelf that I'd never heard of, knew nothing about.
Nasha Winters: I'm a girl from Kansas for crying out loud. None of this ideology is normal for me. The book "Quantum healing" by Deepak Chopra, and this is late September, early October, 1991. So book is relatively new. The concept was definitely new. And I sat down and read it in the library on the floor in about two hours and it talks about paradigm shift. And I believe in that moment I experienced almost a spontaneous paradigm shift. And it just stoked the pilot light for me again. And it got me active saying, well, if I'm going to go, I'm gonna do whatever I can. And then funny way that we're having this conversation and around you alluded to the genetic versus more metabolic understandings. We're learning, with regards of health in general and cancer in particular, and even what your company does to support that process. But I was so sick, my belly was so swollen and I had a small bowel obstruction as well that I couldn't eat. And the irony is probably the best thing I ever did for myself. When you asked where did it start, was basically I fasted for two months, right? A little bit, couldn't eat anything else as nothing would stay in and I didn't have room. So weirdly way before people like Dr Valter Longo and you know, all of this came along. That was probably what saved my life.
Wade Lightheart: Isn't that fascinating? I find this really something that I've seen over and over with people who have severe illnesses is that the innate body's responses as I don't want to eat. And then there's this kind of frantic frenzy around people like well, we've got to get food to them. We've got to get food, we've got to hook them up on this, or we got to do that or whatever. And really what's happening, if you look at all animal species when they're sick or hurt, they stop eating. And this I believe activates the body's natural enzymatic processes to be diverted from digesting and absorbing and utilizing your food to actually being creative - let's fix what's going on inside the body in a systematic matter.
Nasha Winters: Yes, that's a really beautifully way to state it. And again, I feel like I live this interesting life of what was it, what was happening then what do we know now? What was happening then, what do we know now? And because of that, it's like a reverse engineering of the process. When I look back at my own learning curve and then in the future patients I started working with and then in the few, you know, the things I know now, it's incredible. Like I sort of accidentally intuitively stumbled upon things I didn't know. And the other weird aha moment for me it was I was in medical school, I worked on study in the library. I literally spent many nights in the library before they had major, you know, cameras and security. I spend a few nights there. But ultimately what I stumbled upon, cause we were less funded liberal arts school, we had a lot of outdated textbooks that actually saved my life as well because I stumbled everything I was reading about to hit theory of cancer and these things. I'm like, this isn't jive and this is 91. Right? This is before so many things we know today and it was still very much like genetic. We're going to find it in the genome. And this is what it's all about. And this is where the interest was that I stumbled across work from the 1920s, thirties and forties, and mostly around the work of people like Otto Warburg.
Wade Lightheart: Yeah. Beautiful work he did way back in the day. An what an interesting fellow he was.
Nasha Winters: Seriously, right.
Nasha Winters: And so this moment is like, I read that, I'm thinking this isn't at the gene I have. You know, despite him, the biochemistry of what he talked about, it was so clear to me that this was about the terrain, not the tumor. That's where it started to click in my brain. And I started to realize, well, perhaps if I clean up everything else around this major tumor in my right ovary and these lesions in my liver and these little peritoneal implants and these lymph lymph node, you know, carcinomatosis and my lymph nodes, perhaps I can at least maintain it. And sort of headed off at the past was sort of thought process. So I started, there was no dr Google, there was, you know, the Dewey decimal system was all we had, microfiche was all right.

Nasha Winters: There was no guide to how to eat for cancer. And what there was was also the old work at Dr Gerson, Max Gerson. And so I started, you know, this person who I also became before I was diagnosed with cancer at 16 because I grew up in Kansas and my grandma worked for NBP XL, the largest meat packing company in the world. I became a vegetarian at 16 in Wichita, Kansas. As a vegetarian, I would go to family gatherings. I'm like, I don't eat meat. And they're like - "so here's some chicken" - it was not understood.
Wade Lightheart: Totally, understand that.
Nasha Winters: And then my idea to be a vegetarian, because this is what I had access to. This is what I knew and this is what I craved and wanted was Velveeta cheese, iceberg lettuce and like plastic dill pickles, like all dead food, all processed food, probably terribly chemically sprayed food. That's what I sustained myself on. And so when I learned about this process, what I was stumbling on Gerson, I was like, Oh crap, I'm gonna have to use that. I didn't, I didn't like vegetables. My household was canned cream corn, right? And that's not a vegetable, you know, so to be top up from where I was then to where I am now. So it made some shifts into bringing in some live real food into my diet and tried to go hardcore vegan for a period of time, which also likely saved my life because I ate such crap processed food and trying to actually bring in real food, local food, organic food, green food into my life was a lifesaver.
Nasha Winters: But because I'd been so malnourished for so long, that didn't hold me at very, very long period of time. So again, I learned through that process that well, I'll bring in some eggs and maybe some fish later. I didn't even start bringing in a little bit of red meat on very occasion or poultry until about 2010 or 12 so just to give you an example of all the things I've learned along the way it was about lowering my carbohydrate sugar intake. And that was the other common denominator while increasing my plant foods and cleaning things up in my diet and lifestyle in general. Those were sort of the accidental stumbling blocks or aha moments that fed into what I was learning.
Wade Lightheart: Couple of points I want to kind of cue on. And I think it's really important that I've noticed with what I call the most progressive health practitioners and that they understand that anyone's diet or lifestyle is an evolutionary process. So what might be okay at this stage later on is an inadequate, you know, for what the future stage is nice. There's so many people that kind of get locked in these dietary paradigms, which really lock them out of if you will, unlocking some other components and maybe that's the right time. I find a lot of people do really well if they go on a plant based diet for a period of time, there might be a detox vacation factor for it. Or for some people who have really affected blood sugar, usually they might do very well on a ketogenic diet for awhile or switching to a paleo diet and then maybe devolving over that. And what I've found is the people that become the most sophisticated are the ones that aren't married to any dietary philosophy. They see the advantages and disadvantages and they tweak and optimize based on their own needs, their own requirements and those factors.
Nasha Winters: Yeah, I'm doing that way Wade. Exactly. It's like the ultimate in flexitarianism to be able to utilize what you need in any given moment and that will change. Your needs will change. And so I always talk about the concept of you know, in fact I'm working on kind of a new book called "The you diet", ditching dogma, you know like that's the concept because we do need different things and I can recognize in my own chronology and my own history how and when things worked really well for me and why they worked really well for me at that time. And when I knew that the to change and I needed to do something different, I learned how to track that for myself. I'm very much a data driven girl. That is how my brain works. So I'm not about that, about show me the data and let's adjust accordingly.
Nasha Winters: Which is where when we started to get to the access to epigenetics, that took my own health experience and that of thousands of my patients to a whole new level because now we started to even understandable, well why isn't this person responding as we would expect them to respond to this particular treatment or drug or diet or supplement? It was like unveiling the crystal ball and getting a much deeper understanding and then overlaying that with their constitution, their condition at the moment, and overlaying that with their lab values at the moment, we can get so incredibly powerful. Be specific and really use food and nutrients and supplements as a pharmaceutical. Like we really can make a huge difference when we can approach it in that direction.
Wade Lightheart: That's beautiful. Now what are some of the things in your practice today, cause I know you work with doctors and you also work with clients, if someone has a diagnosis of cancer or they have a predis quote unquote, a predisposition in their family or whatever, and they're concerned, what do you think that that person should do or how they would, you know, connect with you, what's the process that's going on? What does a person do if they want to figure this stuff out for themselves?
Nasha Winters: I love that question because I think what you are speaking to is what I'm trying to convey to people were far more powerful than we're led to believe. We can definitely head things off at the past even if things are really big and scary and out of control that shouldn't, that does not have to be the end of the line, you know, living proof of that along with thousands of other people. I've had that experience with patching it the first time. I mean, prevention really is the only cure. So where I start with folks is, you know, this kind of ties back into something you said early on, people sort of wake up going "wow, I've got cancer. Where did that come from?" The thing I hear, well, I can honestly not think except for maybe once or twice in my entire experience, even speaking in large groups, not even to patients or teaching doctors.
Nasha Winters: My question is - how many of you think you're healthy? I asked that question. Every conference I go, almost everybody raises their hand. I'm like, well, how do you know? Well, I feel, okay, well let's take another step. So when people come to me with cancer, they will say to me that I was healthy until I was diagnosed with cancer. And it just startles me because there is no possible way that was true. And as I helped them start to sort of navigate and sort of go into the archeological dig that led up to that diagnosis, the aha is like my experience of going, how in the world did I not have this before or what a miracle my body is that it's been taken care of me despite everything. So it's such a mindset change.
Nasha Winters: So part of it is you've got to start to take a personal audit on your life, on your cupboards, on what you put in on and around your body. And that includes things you ingest, but also people you hang out with. And at the front of my book, we have this little questionnaire that it's a 10 part questionnaire based on what I call the 10 drops that go into the bucket that impact your mitochondrial metabolic health. And each of those 10 sections have 10 questions. So what we invite people to do is take the quiz and you know, find out where you score the highest.
Wade Lightheart: Where can we take this quiz?
Nasha Winters: It's in our book. But I'm also willing for your listeners, if anybody wants to reach out to me on my website, or through you, if you want to put a link. I'm so happy to give people just a PDF of this for free. They don't have to buy my book to get this information. It's a simple questionnaire that I've utilized with patients for them to get their own AHA's about what may be their blind spots.
Wade Lightheart: That's an extremely generous, we'll make sure we put that in the show notes. Thank you so much for that. I really appreciate that. I love the idea about that health audit, it's like any business, you would do an audit and when people go to counseling, you do a relationship audit, you know? You know what I mean? If you're at work, there's some sort of audit, you know, are you performing your job? I mean, all thing of, I always ask people and they say, "yeah, I'm healthy," I mean, it's so ambiguous. And you know, a lot of medical professionals say it's the absence of which disease may be present. It's absence of a diagnosis and a diagnosis doesn't necessarily mean that that's right. It's accurate or gives you anything to go by. It just kind of like, you know, opportunity just rang the doorbell and said hello. You're a little off track here and by the way, you need to make some adjustments in your life.
Nasha Winters: And that's just it. And so that audit, that questionnaire does ask questions about personal history, family history. If you know some of your epigenetics, if you know certain, if you have been diagnosed with certain things, if you are, say living in an area where you know, you've got a lot of industry or you're living on a golf course, so it's very comprehensive, this 10 part questionnaire. A hundred questions that allows you to see what your blind spots are and allows you to prioritize. So even if someone starts, let's say, you get 5 out of 10 of that question and that's your biggest one - start there. So let's say it's blood sugar. So that might be where the next step would be actually get some labs because the data doesn't lie.
Wade Lightheart: What kind of labs do you find are the most valuable? Cause there's all these different labs and tests. I mean I'm constantly taking myself to different tests and learning information. What are the ones that you think are most appropriate for people? And maybe you can list maybe your top five or whatever.
Nasha Winters: Well in my community in Colorado every year they offer what's called the annual 9-hour helps spring blood draw. So this became part of my practice since the earliest, since 2000, that we had everyone for a very minimal cost, like 60 bucks. They could go and have their CBC, which is their blood count, their metabolic panel, which looks at their organ function and their electrolytes TSH, which is just a simple marker of their thyroid function of vitamin D3, to look at their vitamin D3 levels, hemoglobin A1c which looks at the light constellated in products average of your sugars over three months. And if they were a man that had access to a PSA, very basic, that test. And yet what we learned from that over and over in my medical practice as an HVAC doctor, I had a full family practice until I focused entirely into oncology in 2012 is we would catch things, we head them off at the past.
Nasha Winters: We're like, that looks really weird. Your vitamin D is ridiculously low or your sugars are ridiculously high, or your thyroid is really wonky. And we would explore further. So those basics were what I would call your annual physical exam. By far. You've learned since that we can go a little deeper and for about, I don't know, 150 to $200 out of pocket to a walk in lab. If you don't have a physician willing to order this for you to have your insurance covered, it's worth the investment of yourself is to get those. So definitely your, your CBC, your CMP. I would also get a C reactive protein, which is a marker automation. Very powerful, powerful information.
Wade Lightheart: Do you use a C reactive protein or do you do that? Have you heard of the Pulse test as well?
Nasha Winters: I have heard the Pulse test which kind of gives you like a combination. It's like looking at different parameters within that same kind of inflammation. That's a really good option. Um, I definitely look at hemoglobin A1c is an insulin on everyone. Glucose is about the worst reflection of how you're doing sugar wise. It's so transient and I have many diabetics walking around with totally normal glucose levels.
Wade Lightheart: Interesting. I know I did a one recently called the homa IR test.
Nasha Winters: Yeah, that's a really good one. Another one that really is looking more at your metabolic function on that level. So that tells you more data. But these are the ways we can start to know if we aren't metabolically flexible, if we are sort of resilient. So for instance, on a simple CBC with what's going on with your white blood cells, what's going on with your platelets, your hematocrit, your hemoglobin with what's going on with your neutrophil percentage compared to your lymphocyte percentage ratio. I basically know how someone's immune system is working just from a $12 CBC, right? And tons of money on like natural killer cell function and what's not. I can tell right away. In fact, platelets by themselves, neutrophil to lymphocyte ratio by itself, hematocrit by itself, if they're up there, a poor ratio, elevated platelets are low hematocrit any one of those individually is considered prognostic for um, mortality.
Nasha Winters: Like it says you will die sooner just by having those out of range. And that's like, that's a $12 test and doctors don't even know how to read that data. So I teach the doctors how to analyze it's simple and in fact, I teach the patients how to write.
Wade Lightheart: Wow, that's so cool. It's so cool. So it doesn't have to be these expensive funky tests, right?
Nasha Winters: We can know so much. And then on the metabolic side of insulin, hemoglobin A1c, triglycerides, really powerful. They're elevated. That's showing fatty liver secondary to sugar issues, not fat issues. And that's where we start to know because study came out, and you might know this off the top of your head, if it was October this past year or the year before, a study came out showing that less than 12% of all Americans are considered metabolically flexible. And by that, what that means is over 88% of us are actually well on our way to metabolic syndrome to all of the issues related.
Wade Lightheart: Can you explain for our listeners what metabolic syndrome that the official diagnosis it is and why it's important to be metabolically flexible?
Nasha Winters: Yes, absolutely. So metabolic syndrome is basically pre-diabetes, but what we've related to metabolic syndrome or all the other chronic illnesses that come out of it. So diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, dementia, cancer, all the big ones that affect us. Even the spectrum disorders, add autism, Asperger's, all related to this process. And when we talk about being metabolically, we all are wired from the get go since the beginning of time to be a hybrid engine. And our bodies were meant to be able, it's certain times feast or famine or different times of the year or what resources were available or under, like you said, illness or duress or through childbirth. We needed to be able to easily maneuver into burning of fat when necessary and to burn sugar when necessary.
Nasha Winters: But unfortunately, since about the 1850s when we started to mass produce sugar and flour and move into the industrial food revolution, we were all roughly in Western worlds. So I want to create context around it to the Western sort of societies were all basically what we would call a low carb. So ironic that was normal carb then and today we call that low carb. But we had to, we had much less carbohydrates, starch, sugar intake simply because of the lack of availability and the energy output we had to do to get those food. You know, to get that supply in a day. It is the dominant force of our diets, you know.
Wade Lightheart: And it's refined sugars, refined carbohydrates is the other issue. It's not just like, it's not like eating potatoes and apples and bananas and oranges and you know, green beans and things like this. This is, this is just pure, unadulterated, straight to the bloodstream process.
Nasha Winters: Corn syrup, which is weirdly, but I want to also add a caveat here. What is also happens in the industrial food revolution is, we grow to, you know, have good subsidy. You know, we grow for bulk, we grow for things to grow quickly. So, I don't know if you've ever heard of the women Jo Robinson, but she wrote a great book called "Eating on the wild side." And she's talked about how today an apple today is like a giant sugar bomb compared to the apple of our ancestors. And we're talking only a couple of generations old.
Wade Lightheart: Yeah. This is a fascinating thing how we've actually mutated and altered the food production. And we continue to push that envelope of sweeter, sweeter, sweeter, sweeter, sweeter when if you look at Asian cultures where sour and pungent are very much part of the dietary philosophies and almost exclusively eliminated outside of, you know, in, in Western cultures of dietary.
Nasha Winters: Yeah. And if you're not getting that bitter and pungent, you're not getting the things that stimulate your ability to digest and break down those carbohydrates in a proper way. So they really stay, even if it is an apple or a green bean, it's not processing and breaking down as nicely into where it needs to go versus if you were still getting your bitters or your greens with that. So the weird thing is our pallets, just by nature, our first taste and life is sweet, we will always default back to the sweet. And it also affects our dopamine levels and a time in the world where we're losing our longevity to suicide, opiate addiction. Clearly people are missing the sweetness of life. You know, we're in this, we'll call our longevity, you know, destruction, they call it the era of despair then. So when we can't feed it into being and you know, we create these problems.
Nasha Winters: So it's this weird shift in a relatively short period of human existence. So that's why for some of my folks been taking a good history and really looking at their labs and really looking at their epigenetics. Some of us are way more wired to just be diabetic than others. You know, some of us are wired to have snips that and will never allow us to really properly utilize lectins easily or starches easily. Or even red meat or dairy or you know, animal products easily. So we can even look at that to check out those nuances and then help people. Like if I have someone who has snips and labs and they're dealing with a cancering process that's really glucose driven, I'm going to have to take them off. Anything that's going to kick up their desire for more sweet for a period of time until things stabilize and I already use, you can so quickly change your taste buds and my folks that they basically get off potatoes and the grains and all the fruit and get really simple on you know, good quality, all above leafy ground, above ground leafy vegetables and get their little bit of tiny bit of protein and their amount, massive amounts of fat for a period of time.
Nasha Winters: We'll reset their lectin and their ghrelin levels and they'll reset their cravings and they'll reset the dopamine response and suddenly they self regulate again. And that friends is where we come back to metabolic flexibility. And that's the place where sometimes as we should in the summers we should be feasting more because the bulk around us, you know, the harvest is great and it is sweeter foods and fruits, you know? And then the winters is when we kind of get down to the bottom of the barrel literally. And we go into a little bit of why do we have animals that can hibernate because they can move into burning ketones and burning fat stores. And that time, that's how we roll with this. So it's just place we've gotten so far away from sort of the natural cycle and flow of things and it's the gift and the curse of what we're all exposed to and have made readily available to us. But you know, really, should I be eating a papaya in December in Durango, Colorado? Probably not. You know, and but eating papaya grown in Mexico in the middle of the winter when they're ripe and coming off the trees, they have a very different impact on your, on your metabolic levels as well. You know, so that's a really different thing to consider too, is your season and you know, the quality of the food.
Wade Lightheart: Beautifully said. By the way, for all our listeners, just go get the book, go to the notes. This is fascinating stuff and I think super practical. So tell me about your work with doctors now and how you're educating them, what they need to do to better serve their patients. Because I think that's really important. And there's so many great doctors out there and a lot of people don't understand. I mean, this drives me kind of crazy, is the natural health community kind of poo-poos the conventional medicine and conventional medicine poo-poos the natural health. But really these are people that have dedicated their lives to helping other people. They're extremely smart. Most of them work extraordinary hours, you know, dedicating their lives to others. But again, oftentimes they're limited now by running their clinics, paying off all the debt that they incurred. You know, the half million dollars in educational fees and their mortgage and run their lives and do these hours and they don't have the time or energy to get the kind of latest and greatest research. I think it's so great that you're working with them. Tell me about that work that you're doing.
Nasha Winters: You know, this is what's so cool is I worked, you know, in the brick and mortar practice for 17 years and then moved into consulting just to read through with patients. And what I've found is over time the patients who become insanely savvy and this is, I mean, what saved my life was my own inner student, you know, my life learner quality and wanting to be a participant in my process versus just what get to me.
Wade Lightheart: A participant other than a passenger.
Nasha Winters: Exactly. We don't want to be a passenger. We want to be the participant for sure. So what was happening in the last couple of years is frankly the patients were out pacing the physicians and their learning curve because frankly their lives depended on it and they weren't in equals one. They would have questions, they would want to have someone help them to go through all their data to help them find what was true for them. But as you said, even in the nature of Catholic community, the functional medicine community or just great old standard of care community limitations of time and learning and keeping up with this to also take care of all the other patients and their diversity is very difficult. So really the bottle neck with that process started to come to the da. It was the doctors kind of holding up the process of these patients getting what they needed.
Nasha Winters: And there was only so many hours in the day, so many days a week for me. And I was being crushed under the weight of that because that felt like that responsibility landed on my shoulders. I knew what needed to be done, but I couldn't do it all. So that's where it shifted gears last year and decided, okay, now I'm going to just consult with the doctors on the patient's behalf. So what I decided is that I would do two things at once. I would help support that patient, but I would do so by teaching their doctor how to support them and it would equate that then that doctor would know how to deal with other patients. So it's sort of that concept of teach somebody how to fish, don't feed them the fish and that quickly exploded. I didn't expect it to take off at all.
Nasha Winters: I just thought, Oh, there's a few people interested in it. Right. Ridiculous. The outcomes, because I really thought it also draw and just doctors in the know like who were into functional medicine or integrative medicine or integrative oncology. But what happened where these savvy patients would take, they're extremely in the box standard of care oncologists and say, I'm going to pay for your time. I'm going to pay for this doc, this doctor's time to consult on my behalf. And the doctors are sort of like "huh?". They would literally get on the phone with me and say, I don't know why I'm here. The patients paid for your time and my time. I think this is a big waste of time. Let's just get through this hour. I cannot even tell you how many times I've heard that this year from oncologists, from other standard of care physicians, family practitioners, you name it, or other doctors who did work in integrative oncology thinking they already know everything they need to know.
Nasha Winters: So the irony of how much resistance I reached, I thought, I'm never going to overcome this, but I have not had a single time. At the end of that hour that someone didn't walk away saying, "Holy cow!". And say to me, you know, this was amazing. When do we meet again about this patient? Can I do this with other patients? Can I do this with myself? So it was really cool to see and it exploded beyond my wildest dreams of who would take advantage of this to the point where this year I just launched my first deep dive mentorship with sort of my beta class of 12 positions that are, I've got two oncologists, three naturopatic doctors, two PAs and the rest are conventional medical doctors from all over the world who really want to have this understanding. And we just started into this deep four month and then they'll have the rest of the year to also just be on a forum where we keep making sure they know how to keep coming back to the data and how to use the data. And my hope is to build on this. And so I am beautiful paddock because now we will have doctors placed all over the world who will know how to support patients through this process.
Wade Lightheart: That is so awesome and it's so exciting to hear that you've, you're drawing a mix from both sides of the aisle, if you will. And this is why I think that we are entering into what might be the golden age of true, call it medical or holistic health practitioner. We're starting to recognize that there is value within both circles and how do we come together to achieve a truly holistic look at that person and use the latest and greatest information and technology in order to, you know, knock these diseases out that do not have to be death sentences. This is great stuff. I don't know of anybody else that's doing this. Is this a relatively new construct that you're doing.
Nasha Winters: When I'm out there talking to folks about what I'm doing, it seems to be, but I think there's movement. I've got a colleague who's doing this in the lime community right now who's sort of taking that lead and you know, I'm getting ready to attend in couple of days, The Metabolic Health Summit, which is a collection of, you know, clinicians, coaches, researchers, and just lay people interested in this concept. And of course we're talking metabolic therapies. We're talking about people talking about Alzheimer's, neurological diseases, epilepsy. You know, mental illness, cancers, cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, all of those under one roof. And what's happening is we are starting to get people together because they're the scientists realizing that lifestyle has a much bigger role in how we live on this planet and how we stave off illness and how we overcome illness. And that's exciting to start to see conferences on here, they're not quite like teaching people exactly how to do it in their practice day to day. But the conversations are happening and we're all coming to the table together. And I think you're spot on. Like what is different today from when I started this journey? Most patients, only less than 30% of patients will tell their doctors they're working integratively, which is unfortunate because 80% are working in a creative way.
Wade Lightheart: Let's talk about your book, your website, how people reach you, all that sort of stuff. Cause we're coming up on the hour. So I want you to kind of take a moment and share about the book. Who it's for and why people need to get this?
Nasha Winters: My book, "The Metabolic Approach to Cancer", was born after I led for many years cancer retreats with my husband. And so we basically do immersions with patients over the time, but we'd have them run their labs the week before the retreat and two weeks after, and they could see the difference of what a four day immersion could do to their body, talk about inspiring people. And then they created their own kind of website that kept building it up. And I would have more and more and to the point where we were doing more retreats than I was clinical practice for a while. And I brought on some colleagues, including my co-author, who's a nutritionist, Jess Kelly Higgins. Kelley, who actually has a company called "Remission nutrition", focuses on nutrition for the oncology patients doing amazing stuff and started a board certified post credentialing in the oncology nutrition Institute.
Nasha Winters: So she's doing some cool stuff with that. But what happened is we had all these patients and you've got to put all the information you teach us in this weekend in a book. So the book is a birth like birthing from the retreat experience and then we've kind of filled in some of the the details and support around that. From that it has become, I wrote it pretty much so I didn't have to say the same thing over and over thought my mom would buy it, maybe a couple of patients. It's now sold well over 50,000 copies. It's in five languages. It'll be awesome more this year. It's so weird. We didn't expect it. So that's where you can start to see the patients are savvy. They're finding it for themselves. But the funny thing is the patients reads the book, then they buy it for their doctors and their family members and then what's happening is we're all coming to the table. The book is an invitation for everybody. There's something in there for everybody to learn and I get messages literally every day of people saying, your book saved my life. I got upgraded on an international flight recently from the man who said my book safe his and his wife's life from cancer. The coolest thing ever. I was like, I've never seen him burst clouds and where it was a pretty fun experience for that, but he did ruin me also.
Nasha Winters: So that was where it kind of started. I really want to help people, as you have said a couple times, try to empower the person to realize there's a lot more that they can do and a lot more they can do before hand. So even though it talks about the metabolic approach to cancer, it can be a metabolic approach to life or health or wellness or prevention. So it's really for all audiences in that arena. And you can find more. You kind of follow me on the social media realm. On the name of the book itself. Metabolic approach to cancer has a Facebook page under dr Nasha Inc is a Facebook page. And then on my Instagram, it's DrnashaWinters, all one word. And I'm constantly consent for a newsletter. I've got a couple of freebies on my thing about what to do if you're diagnosed with cancer, the first five steps and a really cool PDF on metabolic flexibility. What does that mean? And what roads to Rome can get you there cause it's not one road as we kind of alluded to earlier. And then, so those are the places where I'm trying to help inspire people to learn more, read more, and frankly make people like me obsolete. That's the goal.
Wade Lightheart: Beautifully said folks. Dr Nasha Winters, she is a force of nature, living proof that cancer doesn't have to be a death sentence. Get educated, find out about her book. If you or someone else you know dealing with cancer, whatever you need to go to her site instantly. We have all the show notes right here where you can go to or you can go to instagram drnashawinters. And get on those things. You need to learn about the metabolic approach to cancer. This is the latest, greatest. She's educating doctors, she's saving people's lives. And the bottom line, it just might save someone's life that you know cancer is going to touch all of us. It's not an if it's a win, it might be you or it's going to be someone that you love. It's a coin flip for everybody.
Wade Lightheart: The reality is is why not prepare for it now and start taking the action that you can apply some of these things that we talked about today in depth. Know what kind of tests you can take. Know where you can get your research back, things up and bottom line - empower yourself to a better life and to truly awesome health. I want to thank you for joining us today, Dr. Winters. I'm so grateful that you took the time out of your busy schedule and in the middle of a peace parade in Mexico to join us here on the call. And I'm going to encourage everybody to go to check her stuff out, and hopefully I'm going to see you one of the events coming up or you're going back to the Health Optimization that's in UK, I'm going to be there as well. So we will connect up and I look forward to hanging out and sharing some more insight into your amazing work.
Nasha Winters: Thanks Wade.
Wade Lightheart: Thank you so much for joining us today. All right guys, that's another week on the Awesome Health show. Go check out the website. We'll see you next time. 
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