About Our Guest- Palmer Kippola
Palmer Kippola is a bestselling author, speaker, and Functional Medicine Certified Health Coach who specializes in helping people reverse and prevent autoimmune conditions. She developed a framework called F.I.G.H.T.S.™, which stands for Food, Infections, Gut health, Hormone balance, Toxins, and Stress, to help others beat autoimmune conditions based on her two-decade battle to overcome multiple sclerosis.
Her book is “Beat Autoimmune: The 6 Keys to Reverse Your Condition and Reclaim Your Health” with a foreword by Functional Medicine pioneer, Mark Hyman, MD. In it she shares the science, stories and strategies to help people heal and thrive.
Today she provides total health transformation programs for people who seek to heal from any autoimmune condition by addressing their root causes head on with functional lab testing and comprehensive mind-body strategies. She also serves a community of people in an online program called Beat Autoimmune Academy.
Full Podcast Transcription
Palmer Kippola 01:30
Western medicine, allopathic medicine has a perfect place for acute care. When you have a broken bone or you’re having a heart attack, you need surgery, there’s no better place. But these chronic gray area conditions, you’re just not in the right place. And so this puts so much incumbent on the person to educate themselves and to work with people who are trained in root-cause medicine.
Diva Nagula 02:01
Hello everyone and welcome to another episode of from Doctor to Patient. Today I’m joined with Palmer Kippola. She’s a best-selling author, speaker and functional medicine certified health coach who specializes in helping people to reverse and prevent autoimmune conditions. She developed a framework called F-I-G-H-T-S which stands for food, infections, gut health, hormone balance, toxins, and stress to help others beat autoimmune conditions based on her two decade battle to overcome multiple sclerosis. Her book is Beat Autoimmune: The Six Keys to Reverse your Condition and Reclaim Your Health, with a foreword by functional medicine pioneer, Dr. Mark Hyman. In it she shares the science, stories, and strategies to help people heal and thrive. Today, she provides total health transformation programs for people who seek to heal from any autoimmune condition by addressing their root cause head on with functional lab testing, and comprehensive mind-body strategies. She also serves as a community of people in an online program called Beat Autoimmune Academy. Palmer, welcome. How are you today?
Palmer Kippola 03:30
It’s a pleasure to be here. Dr. Nagula. I am doing really well, thank you.
Diva Nagula 03:36
You know, I am looking forward to this. And it’s really gonna be a pleasure to chat with you further on this show and share stories about our healing journeys. And I would love to start off by, if you could just give us some information about what you went through. I mean two decades of battling multiple sclerosis before you finally found you know, the information and the best way to heal yourself. So please tell us your story.
Palmer Kippola 04:03
I will absolutely and I have to take you back a little bit in time, because I was diagnosed with MS at 19. And back then, in the mid 80s there was no internet. There was no book. There was no functional medicine that I knew about. And I was just a happy, healthy, teenager, home from college after my freshman year. And the future looked really bright. But one day I woke up and the soles of my feet were all tingly, that feeling you get when you’ve slept on a limb and then the blood flows back and it’s all tingly, only this particular morning, the blood didn’t flow back and the tingling persisted. And I went off to work in a summer job and by the time the tingling reached my knees, I knew something was really wrong. So I called my parents, who called the family doctor who said get her to the neurologist at UCLA today. So that’s what we did. And it was a quick exam. I mean, five minutes. She had me walk heel toe across her room. And by this time the tingling had reached just underneath my collarbones. It was really unsettling. And after a couple of minutes, she said, with a lot of authority, I am 99% sure that you have MS, multiple sclerosis. And if I’m right, there’s nothing you can do except take medication. So we had never heard of MS. Now remember, this is the mid-80s. And this is consistent with our understanding of autoimmunity. It was just barely known about, you know, 50 years ago, hardly anybody had heard of these things. And today, it’s just at epidemic proportions. So people are familiar with this most common ones being MS, rheumatoid arthritis, hashimotos, lupus, etc. But at the time, we were just terrified. We had no information and very little hope. And we were just told to go home and wait. So that’s what we did. And that night, my mom crawled into bed with me, and she was crying. But by this time, all the tingling in my body that had reached under my neck had gone completely numb. And so I would stay in shrouded in numbness for a full six weeks. And that was just, you know, an awful and terrifying time. I’m very, very grateful that my family was with me. And I’ll just shortcut to some of the highlights of that summer. Friends came by and visited them weren’t too scared off. And this one family friend that was into things metaphysical came and she asked me a question that I hadn’t realized for years was actually a gift. And she said to me, Palmer, why do you think you got the MS? And I was just struck, I was taken aback. What do you mean? Why do I think I got the MS? Are you implying that I did something to cause this? And I didn’t have anywhere to go, I am lying on the couch numb from the neck down and chewing on that question, like a dog with a bone. And it came to me as a flash of insight. And I need to take you back a little bit more in time, because I had been adopted by very loving parents. But my dad had been a fighter pilot and his way was usually the right way. And we butted heads quite a bit. So as I’m lying on the couch at age 19, chewing on that question, why do I think I got the MS, it occurred to me as this flash, one of my earliest memories was my dad yelling at my mom, who’s locked herself in the bedroom, and she’s crying, and he’s calling her names. And I didn’t like that one single bit. So I am seeing myself age three or four, looking up at my dad, you call my mom names and all sock your lights out or whatever, a three year old little child warrior yelling back at her father. And I realized that I had become this hyper vigilant little child warrior. And I had no inkling about the immune system. But I viewed that if my immune system didn’t have a real battle to wage, that it was going to fight myself; the autoimmune attack, the self attack. So that initial hypothesis that chronic stress, that always on hypervigilance was my biggest root cause still rings true for me today, even though I know there’s much more to the story. So after that insight, I realized that if I wanted to do something about the MS, then I was gonna have to face the stress head on. I’m super lucky that the MS was relapsing remitting, which means the numbness retreated in time for me to go back to college for my sophomore year. And off I went on that 20 year course of the MS and the six visits to the neurologist and so forth. But my dad, the fighter pilot was also a super motivational guy who would tell me honey, you can beat this thing. You can beat this thing, I believe in you, which is where I get the title for the book. But I didn’t know what I was going to do. So I just conducted all of these experiments over the years. The obvious one to start with was stress reduction. So the yoga, the meditation and I noticed that when I was relaxed, I had fewer MS symptoms. And by contrast, when I was stressed out, whether it was exams at school, conflict at home, or whatever it was, I would notice almost immediately the advent of new symptoms or the worsening of existing ones. It would take a full two decades until I actually found functional medicine to discover what I would call my linchpin trigger being gluten sensitivity. So by finding the gluten sensitivity, healing my gut, I was completely free of symptoms after November of 2010. Obviously, this is always multifactorial. So for me, the chronic stress, the gluten later I found the casein sensitivity, I had a mouthful of mercury amalgams….so there’s many, many layers to the story. But for brevity, the big root causes were the chronic stress, the gluten, and I’m free and never better in my entire life. P
Diva Nagula 10:31
Oh, it’s incredible. And I’m just curious, how did you find out that these causes, the gluten, the stress, were causative or correlative in with your symptoms?
Palmer Kippola 10:42
So the stress and relaxation thing was really obvious. You know, as I mentioned, the more I relaxed, the fewer symptoms I had, and hat just became striking to me, when I would observe that I actually did the breathwork and the meditation practices and I calmed down. By contrast, I was working in a corporate job. And I remember this time coming back from this super relaxing Caribbean vacation and I walked into the office and as soon as I got under the the fluorescent blinding lights, I was literally struck blind in one eye and had the searing pain of optic neuritis that took three trips to an emergency room to figure out what was actually going on is a hallmark symptom of MS. So that became obvious to me that there was something to this relaxation thing, and I should do more of that. The relaxation response we know now is the only place where healing happens. And I was just revved up all the time. So that was my biggest thing. But the other thing about food – I tried so many different diets over the years, and the first one being the Swank diet, because that’s all the library had in the mid 80s was the Swank MS Diet book that purported low-fat, high vegetable, high fiber/grain diet was best for MS. But when I tried it, not only did I not notice an improvement in symptoms, I noticed a worsening of tummy trouble. And Dr. Nagula, I’m a lucky one in that I had gut symptoms, many people that have gluten sensitivity, don’t feel it in their gut, so they have no way of putting it together. You might have joint pain, you might have numbness and tingling, you might have swelling someplace in your body or migraines, and not know that you have this gluten sensitivity. So that was a clue for me to get myself finally to a nutritionist, and that’s when I found this functional medicine nutritionist who taught me about root causes.
Diva Nagula 12:47
And that was way later in the stage, right? Like 15 plus years after your diagnosis before you determined that there could be something with diet that could be influencing the multiple sclerosis?
Palmer Kippola 13:00
Well, I didn’t get the answer I was looking for until more than two decades later. But as soon as I got off that couch, I intuited that diet must have something to do with this. And I started asking questions, but I wasn’t getting any answers. So this is also a big conundrum for people because you trust your doctor – you go to the neurologist, and you say, alright, I get that I have lesions. So what do you recommend that I eat? And they say, I don’t know, or diet has nothing to do with this. I hear this still from clients today. And I would do my research. And I would ask, what about omega three fatty acids? What about salmon? Should I have more salmon? We don’t know enough. So the best you can do,. I literally was told, don’t drink so much and don’t smoke. Well, I didn’t drink that much. And I never smoked. So you know, this is where your story is so inspirational and meaningful in that you are a medical doctor, an osteopathic physician. So you came from this western world, but you now know the experience that food heals. But as a medical doctor, were you taught about nutrition? Because all of the questions I asked over the years, nobody could tell me what it is that I could do. And that’s where the patient becomes the detective and has to figure this stuff out. Thankfully, we now have people who’ve been down this path, we’ve got the Internet, and there’s a plethora of information for people who are seeking to heal, but at the time, it was just, you know, guessing, and trial and error.
Diva Nagula 14:48
Yeah, and I can actually answer some of those questions in terms of whether or not nutrition was taught to us in med school. And unfortunately, when I was in school, that was never even something that was broached as part of our curriculum. And even now, if I am correct, there might be a one or two credit hours that might be offered, which is like a 7 to 14 day intro course, if that even. And depends on the school, and whether it’s an allopathic institution or osteopathic institution. So no, I mean, it’s not enough. And it’s really disappointing. And I had the same information that was conveyed to me when I asked my oncologist, what should I eat? And what should I put into my body? And what should I omit? And the physician I recall, it’s exact words were saying to me, is like, I’ve had people who’ve changed your diet dramatically. And I’ve had people who have stayed in the same diet. And there were really no consistent changes with their course. And so when he told me that, this was right when I was starting to do my own research. And this was before I knew anything about functional medicine or integrative medicine. My research said otherwise, because I had really gotten into the depth of organic foods and GMO foods, and also the effects of gluten and things like that. And it really at that point dawned on me that there is a whole other side of this that I needed to explore on my own, for my own self and my own wellbeing, and then hopefully been able to pass this information to other people. And so like you exactly, you know, I was a person who I feel came into this world in fight or flight. When I was born, it was a stressful birth. And I think I remained in fight or flight and I never really got out of fight or flight until recently. And it was the combination of probably a lot of being myself in very much a stressful situation or keeping myself under a lot of duress, and being in fight or flight. And then once you’re in that situation, it’s basically what type of variable that you have to encounter to cause a tipping point. And it for me, it could have been a number of things, but I would imagine, you know, dietary things, you know, where I was eating fast food all the time, I wasn’t putting anything that was nutritious in my system. And I described this in my book when I was in college and when I was working, the only vegetable that I had was a scrap of lettuce that was on my burger. So you know, that’s devoid my body was of nutrition. So I can definitely relate to what you’re saying is about how nutrition and how food has a huge potential of healing, but is not taught in our institutions today, especially the allopathic and osteopathic institutions.
Palmer Kippola 17:35
That’s right. One of the things that I find striking is that western medicine, allopathic medicine has a perfect place for acute care. When you have a broken bone or you’re having a heart attack, you need surgery, there’s no better place for you. But I tell people, if you want to get your hair cut, you don’t go to Home Depot. And that’s not to say anything negative about Home Depot, it’s a wonderful place if you’re building a home and and yes, you might be able to get garden shears and so forth. But these chronic gray area conditions, you’re just not in the right place. And so this puts so much incumbent on the person to educate themselves and to work with people who are trained in root cause medicine.
Diva Nagula 18:22
Absolutely. The other thing that I’m really interested in – you probably over two decades, we’re on an enormous amount of medications, right? You’re probably had your share of steroids, or any other medications you take over you basically just able to modulate your symptoms with stress reduction?
Palmer Kippola 19:53
So it’s a great question and a really good assumption. I just have it in me – I’m very resistant to taking medication, I always have been. It’s just an instinct. So I resisted for a very long time. And at the time, there were only three primary MS drugs, they call them the ABC drugs, and they were injectables. And I don’t not only don’t like medication, I really am adverse to needles. So I resisted for a super long time. But this especially persistent neurologist at Stanford insisted that if I did not go on one of these three medications, my life would potentially be shortened, and I would surely end up in a wheelchair. So I felt like I was really pressed into deciding to go on one. And I did not have a good experience. And I stayed on the medication for about three years. And I ended up having heart attack symptoms, which is a known, quote, unquote, side effect of the medication. And it just was, you know, one strike too many. So I, I gave that up thinking, you know, there’s got to be a better way and kept seeking natural solutions.
Diva Nagula 21:03
And how did you manage some of the symptoms that a lot of multiple sclerosis patients typically have, whether it was weakness, sensory deficits, ambulation deficits, and also what you were describing? You know, you have the optic neuritis, and I’m sure you had some other type of symptoms that go along with MS. So did you just, I mean, as you function without being on these medications, and what was your treatment for your own well being?
Palmer Kippola 21:31
Well, maybe I’m just stubborn, but I just forgo the medication, and things would come and things would go. I’m fortunate that a lot of my symptoms were not pain-based. The biggest pain was the optic neuritis, which lasted for two weeks. So I’m sure I took you know, the Codeine or whatever I was given to manage that pain. But I really chose not to do the steroids. And instead, like we talked about earlier, I was able to let’s say manage – I don’t use that word anymore. I talk about reversing autoimmunity – but at the time, to manage the symptoms it was about the breathwork, the meditating the yoga, the just chilling – when I found that I came down and really let myself relax, my shoulders come down, I would have less of that tightness, less of the feelings of you know, a million rubber bands around my torso or that heaviness, like I was walking under water. And sometimes it just took time for it to pass.
Diva Nagula 22:36
And at what point during your course of having these symptoms, did you find that the relaxation techniques really helped? Was it immediately? Or is it somewhere down the road?
Palmer Kippola 22:48
Probably within five years of starting them. So again, remember I was about 19 and I started doing yoga within four years. So late 80s, I started doing yoga. And when I did Shavasana, which is the corpse pose at the end of a yoga class, it was the hardest pose for me to let go. And I remember having a French yoga teacher who would say in this beautiful voice, let it go. And she would lead us through this relaxation pose. And finally, if I could just let my lower back release into the floor and trust that all was well, I noticed a lessening of symptoms. And it was almost immediate that I noticed that. So that was that was the easiest cause and effect for me to tell was the stress versus relaxation. And again, the other experiment, the food. When I added more whole grains symptoms got worse.
Diva Nagula 23:49
Right? Let’s take a little bit of a deep dive into into that aspect of it. So talk to us about how these types of things can aggravate or complicate or even cause some of these autoimmune conditions.
Palmer Kippola 24:02
Well, as I mentioned, I’ve got a framework called FIGHTS. So it’s multifactorial, but food is usually the lowest hanging fruit, if you will, it’s usually the best place to start after mindset, is addressing the food that we’re eating because there is so much science and research that points to the inflammatory basis of a lot of the foods that we eat each and every day. And it turns out that gluten creates a leaky gut in anyone who eats it. And I had been eating gluten since I was a baby. I have a picture of me age two with my arm up to the armpit in a box of Cheerios. And I’m telling you lunch, dinner breakfast, I had some form of gluten, and later on, you know beer might have been involved. So a lot of gluten. I had a lot of dairy. And we know that people who are sensitive to gluten, there’s a 70/75% correlation with also having a sensitivity to casein, not the lactose, but the casein, which is an inflammatory protein. And then another food that doesn’t get the kind of attention that I feel it should when it comes to autoimmune disorders, is sugar. And it turns out, we’ve had the research on this since the mid 1970s, that sugar can block your immune system from functioning for up to five hours after eating it. So if you’ve got an autoimmune condition, which is an immune system problem, it’s not a body part problem, contrary to popular belief, and you’re still eating sugar, you don’t have the full functioning of your immune system, which I would contend you really would want. So sugar, gluten, dairy, tend to be some of the biggest obstacles to healing. And I find that when people remove those as a starting point, a lot of freedom from symptoms starts to happen. And it can be almost impossible to understand the connection between the foods that you’re eating, and your symptoms and how you feel. But we know that leaky gut is the pathway to autoimmune problems. And we know these foods are damaging, they’re inflammatory, and they in fact, penetrate or open those tight junctions in the gut. And that’s the starting point. So if you continue to eat those foods, I would also contend that you’re probably going to continue having those symptoms until you remove them and heal your gut.
Diva Nagula 26:31
And you were describing that you determined for your own wellbeing was that when you remove gluten, it was a major change. And then you were also noticeably having symptoms after the consumption of gluten. So you were having, you know, some issues with your GI system, though, it’s pretty much evident that you can correlate that with the gluten. And as you mentioned early on that a lot of people don’t have that type of correlation immediately. You know, usually, you know, a lot of people can associate gluten sensitivity or symptoms, with things like you know, brain fog or joint pain, or, you know, even GI issues, but not immediately – it could be something that can be displayed after a couple of hours or even a couple of days. And usually after a couple of days, you have no idea at that point whether or not gluten was involved. So it’s very important to to understand that how awful and caustic that gluten can be to a person’s system, especially if you have an autoimmune disease.
Palmer Kippola 27:31
That’s right. And it’s as you mentioned, it’s just so frustrating. It’s such a conundrum, you wish that you had a real clear cause and effect on things that when I eat this, I feel that way. And it turns out that we really don’t. These are called delayed food sensitivities. It’s not IGE, and I think of E of standing for emergency, like the peanut or shellfish allergy, and you get that immediate swelling. No, this is delayed, and it can be delayed for up to four days. So chances are really good that you’re not going to put it together. Which is why it’s so helpful to go through this process of elimination diet – I call it a 30 day food vacation because I feel like that’s a more positive spin on something that has the word diet in there – to really figure out what your sensitivities are. Because once you take those foods away for about 30 days, sometimes longer, your inflammatory markers come down, your gut can start to heal. And then when you reintroduce that food slowly, one at a time over a 48 hour period, you really will have a much more clear cause and effect than you did before you took it out for a while.
Diva Nagula 28:46
Yeah, absolutely. I couldn’t agree with you more. Let’s go into more about your your FIGHTS that you’ve coined and and let’s go into little bit more detail of what it stands for and how you use that for your clients.
Palmer Kippola 29:00
Great. Well, I was offered a book deal. And I had been working with clients and I saw that time and time again, people were healing when they were addressing these common root cause categories. But to put it together in a book, I really wanted to come up with an acronym that people could remember. So I put the words on paper and emerged this word called FIGHTS. And I lament that it didn’t spell peace, but it was more in line with the the can-do attitude that my dad fostered in me that I could beat the autoimmunity. So, f is food, i for infections, g for gut health, h for hormone balance, t for toxins, s for stress: FIGHTS. They all need to be addressed, not just one. So we talked about food as a starting point. Because this is the highest leverage category where I find that most people get the biggest bang for the buck and heal 60/80 something 100% of the way just by addressing these foods, but across the board, they all need to be at least explored. So we can take these in any direction you want to go.
Diva Nagula 30:13
Yeah, actually, if we could talk about each category, and then maybe offer, you know, a solution are tuned for each.
Palmer Kippola 30:19
Yeah, sure. So I’ve talked a bit about food, I don’t know that, you know, let’s move on to the next one. And I do note this in the book that I don’t lay them out as FIGHTS as spelled, because gut health naturally follows food. So in the category of gut health, we really want to examine what we’re consuming, what we’re putting into our gut. And I contend that we are treating our guts like garbage disposals, we’re just pouring in the toxic foods, we are taking medications, antibiotics for a common cold, you know, sleeping medication, pain, medication – all of these things have the potential to harm our guts. So the number one rule of thumb when healing is what you remove. You know, this is not about taking another supplement, it’s really about getting honest with yourself about what you’re eating, and how that could be harming your gut. And many of these root causes are actually overlapping. Because one of the most harmful things that we do to our gut is eat conventionally grown and conventionally raised animals that are eating sprayed or genetically modified corn, soy, and wheat. And it turns out, we’re not just what we eat, we’re whatever we eat, ate. So if those animals are grazing on foods that have Round Up and glyphosate engineered into them, we’re ingesting this into our guts. There are a lot of studies that show that glyphosate is very, very harmful to human and animal guts. So number one, for gut health, remove, remove, remove, and to be really vigilant about what you’re putting in your mouth before anything else. And, you know, just a couple other points on this. We eat so much less fiber than our ancestors did. Back when autoimmunity was rare and unheard of, I think our ancestors were getting something like 150 grams of fiber each and every day. And that would be astonishing. For us in modern life, I think we’re getting more like 5 to 15 grams. So slowly over time to ramp our fiber intake is super important to help clear toxins out of our body to help feed the probiotics, because our gut flora, if it’s not fed prebiotics, otherwise known as fiber, it will start nawing on the lining of our gut. And that’s also harmful. So that would be another way to support your gut health. Okay, infections. This is the next one in the book. And quite simply, it’s not the bug. It’s the terrain as holistic practitioners say. So the idea here is that people with autoimmune issues have a hypometabolic metabolism, meaning it’s low and slow. And a hypometabolic metabolism is really hospitable to infections. So in order to heal, we want to raise our metabolism as we can. And there are things that we can do that are that are really quite simple – with deep breathing, maybe cold water immersion, taking cold showers, on and off, intermittent fasting, even weightlifting, all of those things, as we’re able to do them can help move us from this hypometabolic state, to a more normal metabolism. And that is a super helpful way to usher these infections out. So it’s not a nuclear assault on infections that is primary. It’s really about making yourself as inhospitable as possible and the other thing to do is to focus on unburdening your immune system. And we’ve already talked about a number of these things like removing sugar and starchy carbohydrates and moving more. Another thing is really getting more sleep. I find that a lot of people I work with, women with autoimmune issues are burning the candle at both ends, and they’re not getting enough sleep, and we heal at night. This is a restorative time. So do whatever you can to get asleep by 10 o’clock – and a bedtime and being asleep are two different things. So make sure that you get in bed early so that you get at least 8 hours of sleep, especially if you’re healing from an autoimmune condition. Anything on infections for the moment?
Diva Nagula 34:53
No, I was actually what I was thinking when you’re talking about sleep. If you can relate sleep deficits with your own personal experience when you were really in the beginning of your stages of MS. I mean, I’m sure you weren’t having very good quality sleep, but back then there was really no metrics or way of measuring the quality of sleep that you were getting.
Palmer Kippola 35:12
So it’s interesting. The sleep issues that I’ve had in my life were as a child, actually. I endured periods of insomnia, where this is the hyper-vigilance that we talked about early on; I was always on scanning the environment for safety. And so I didn’t shut my eyes at night for fear that, you know, what if somebody needs me, right. Other than that, I’ve been trained for my entire life, to be a good sleeper, and to need a lot of sleep. So I, on average, get between 8, nine 9 of sleep, and it’s just, it’s an absolute priority. When there were stressful periods, sure, your brain goes into that looping mode. And when you wake up, and you can’t shut it off, that happened, but by and large, I have been a champion sleeper.
Diva Nagula 36:05
That’s fantastic. Yeah, because that’s probably one of the most important things to help restore and repair the body. And so if you’re in a state, as I was, when I was diagnosed with cancer, I wasn’t getting much sleep and I was in fight or flight and I was putting the wrong nutrients in my body. So it was just a perfect storm to develop the cancer that I did get so. Let’s move forward. I’d love to like listen to the rest of the FIGHTS acronym and learn more about that.
Palmer Kippola 36:34
Sure. Well, toxins would be next on the list. And this is one of the reasons that people believe that autoimmunity is epidemic is that we just have so many toxins in our environment today, more than ever before. I’ve heard Dr. Joseph Pizzorno, who wrote The Toxin Solution, say that up to 70% of our toxic load is non-persistent, meaning we can clear it pretty quickly, and that it comes from food. So there are studies that show that an organic diet can quickly reduce the body burden. They did this with children that were put on, I think it was a paleo-organic diet. And in about five days, their body burden of toxins dropped by 50%. So this was a really big deal. And a lot of people poopoo organic diet – oh, it doesn’t matter is just more expensive food. But it really is more nutrient dense. And it’s been shown to to really help you remove and reduce the toxic load. So when it comes to toxins, I like to use the metaphor of a toxin bucket. I think everybody can visualize this, that we have a bucket within us, that has some holes at the bottom. And we’re supposed to excrete toxins out the bottom. But problems start, when we start filling up our bucket with toxic elements that sometimes are from the environment. Sometimes it’s created inside us from the bacteria, and the fungi and things that have byproducts called endotoxins, for example, and sometimes it’s the toxic thoughts and the toxic beliefs and even the energy vampires and toxic relationships, everything adds up. So I think it’s super helpful to have this broad view of toxins, when you consider why you might have gotten whatever it is that you’re dealing with. And to do some real self reflection and think about yourself carrying this bucket. And I I talk about this idea that you know, the first half of our lives, we’re filling up that bucket. You know, I was eating gluten every day and I had my sugar addiction and was doing just fine until I wasn’t. So we can do this for a period of time. And I think this is also why autoimmunity strikes, women in particular, in perimenopause and menopause, these periods of hormone changes, because we’ve been doing so well for so long. But all of a sudden, as you mentioned, there’s something that goes tilt, and that’s when the bucket spills over. So it could be the foods you’re eating that are inflammatory, it could be the imbalanced microbiome. It could be, you know, the the low vitamin D, for example, the chronic stress, the mercury from the amalgams in your mouth, the Candida overgrowth – all of this fills the bucket. And then it’s our responsibility once things spill over. That’s the leaky gut. That’s when we start having symptoms. It’s our responsibility, but also there’s an autoimmune equation that shows the healing happens when you remove those toxic elements, those toxic lifestyle factors and then heal the gut. And that’s how we heal. So for the second half of our life, we’re busy removing things from the bucket. Right? I just like the broad view of toxins like that because we all have a different set of things that got us where we are. But it’s our responsibility to keep those buckets as clean as we possibly can. So that’s what I would say about toxins.
Diva Nagula 40:11
And then moving on to stress, obviously, we talked a little bit about that. But I’m sure you might be able to go a little bit more deeper into stress and some simple solutions for how we can combat stress.
Palmer Kippola 40:24
Yeah, this is really the elephant in the room. And we could go on and on about it, but I won’t. It’s imperative that people consider the stress that they’re under both from a day to day stress perspective, as well as a traumatic stress perspective. So, stress and autoimmunity go hand in hand, it’s been observed that autoimmune conditions are precipitated by a stressful event – something shocking, perhaps a stress to the symptom like a virus. But it’s those smoldering stresses that might start in childhood, that are known as adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs for short. Kaiser Permanente and the CDC did a massive study a few decades ago, that shows a correlation, or causation of chronic stress or trauma in childhood and the advent of autoimmunity even decades later. So it turns out that more than 60% of all of us as adults, and the study they did was really focused on middle and upper middle class Caucasians, which means they did not include a brown and black population. And if you were to do that the numbers probably greater than 60% of us have experienced some sort of trauma in childhood – we can’t avoid it. But when they did this survey of more than 17,000 people, they found that if people had experienced one of these traumas, there was a good chance that they had experienced two or more. And they also found that when people experienced things like parental neglect, or verbal, physical, sexual abuse, or a parent was an alcoholic, or incarcerated or, and on and on and on there about 10 of these, that their risk factors for chronic disease later in life just went up and kept going up. So if you experience two of these adverse childhood experiences, the chances of getting MS doubled, and things go up from there. So it’s imperative and it’s an area that I don’t think modern medicine, when you go to your doctor, they don’t ask you about your childhood trauma. And I think that’s an opportunity, it may be something that’s missing now, maybe you’re not trained. But it’s so helpful, because there’s so much that people can do to address the trauma. Because if you don’t, the holistic cancer community knows this, that if you don’t address, the issues stay in the tissues. This is where learning about different modalities that can be as easy as breathing, or drawing or journaling or confiding in a family member or trusted friend, seeing a therapist and doing other modalities like EMDR and shaking – there’s a whole variety of things. But it’s imperative that you look at this often neglected area, because many people that do everything else right – they have the right diet, they’re exercising, they’re getting good sleep, but they’re neglecting looking at something that they’ve tucked safely away. And yet, they’re still not healing – that would be an area to explore for sure.
Diva Nagula 43:46
And in your experience with clients, coupled with your own personal experience, what would you think – if we’re gonna narrow it down to one using elimination or one thing that we’re adding as a modality to help aid wellbeing, what would you really hone in and focus on?
Palmer Kippola 44:05
So one thing to add in one thing to eliminate?
Diva Nagula 44:10
Whichever is the most transformative factor to aid in a person’s well being,
Palmer Kippola 44:16
You know, the the first thing that came to mind was mindfulness.
Diva Nagula 44:20
Palmer Kippola 44:21
It really was because without that present moment, awareness, I think our thinking can be one of the most toxic sources of stress that we face. Our thinking is often distorted. If we can face it head on, admit that we’re wrong about something, get curious about why are you feeling the way that you’re feeling or having a thought – challenge yourself. Is it true? Is it true? Go down that path. One of the most transformative therapies or modalities for me was a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy, coupled with wisdom therapy. And it got me to start looking at distorted thinking. And there’s actually a workbook called Mind Over Mood. And I did those exercises. And if I had what’s called a hot thought, which was something that, you know, triggered me or, or hooked me, I would write it down and examine the thought, and start questioning, is that real? Am I 100% sure that it’s true? And when I realized that it wasn’t true – but I am now spinning, looping with these emotions that are based on something that isn’t even true. That was really unhelpful.
Diva Nagula 45:50
Yeah, that’s interesting. There’s no right or wrong answer, obviously. But I would have picked and this is based on my experience, personally, as well as experiences of many clients, but probably the elimination of toxic foods and more introduction of organic based foods and non-GMO diet – I really think that in my opinion, that was a huge transformation for myself, and just understanding food sensitivities and what your system doesn’t agree with. A lot of times just eliminating those toxic substances can make a difference. And then, by introducing more organic whole foods, we’re able to, as you’ve talked about before, to really feed that microbiome, and as you know, the microbiome is very important in terms of our neurotransmitter function, and its serotonin is produced from our microbiome. And so that in itself can can reduce any anxiety, depression, and calm the nervous system down. So that’s, for me, that was one thing that I noticed for myself, that was a huge change. And I can see myself and my clients and any other people. And also, as you were mentioning, the introduction of mindfulness, that’s something that I didn’t do until later on. So it’s all these things that we have to take comprehensively and utilize to really eliminate, to facilitate a better healing process. So it’s really important for practitioners like myself and you to talk about this and in many, many ways to help people fix their gut and fix their illnesses. And autoimmunity is not just an issue where we can just say, here’s the symptom and here’s the medicine that we can use to fix it. We have to take everything and everyone from a holistic perspective. And that’s what functional medicine practitioners integrative medicine practitioners are all about.
Palmer Kippola 47:44
So beautifully said. And you’re absolutely right. It’s the organic food, it’s finding your food sensitivities, absolutely 100%. And 100% taking responsibility for your life, and 100% awareness for your role in things and moving from that, you know, why is this happening to me? To what if this is happening for me, right? As an invitation, right? So that’s why I help teach people that your symptoms are simply messages from your body letting you know that you have not yet found your root causes and to keep going.
Diva Nagula 48:23
Exactly, I couldn’t have said it better. For the listeners that are listening today- where can they find you on the internet? And where can they find your book?
Palmer Kippola 48:33
They can find me at PalmerKippola.com is my website. You talked about food and we we spent a good deal of time on it because it is so important and people have difficulty figuring out their best food. So I created something called Your Optimal Food Guide, so that you can figure out the best foods for you. It is definitely an individual process. But I guide people through this 30 day food vacation. If you go to PalmerKippola.com/gift, you can download that Optimal Food Guide and figure out your best foods. As far as my book goes, it’s available everywhere books are sold, I think. Probably the easiest and fastest way is to go to Amazon, where it’s available in paperback, Kindle and audio formats. It’s called Beat Autoimmune by the way.
Diva Nagula 49:25
Excellent. Well, Palmer It was a pleasure having you on the show. And thank you for all the information and I look forward to to diving into your book myself.
Palmer Kippola 49:34
Well, thank you so much, Dr. Nagula. It was an absolute pleasure. Thank you.