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What Is Your Poo Telling You? with Sarah Greenfield (EP#72)

Mason welcomes Sarah Greenfield onto the podcast today to wax lyrical on the wonders of poo! Sarah is a registered dietitian, functional medicine practitioner and absolute poo aficionado. It is Sarah’s deep desire, and mission to assist those suffering from health and digestive issues to heal from the inside out.

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Mason welcomes Sarah Greenfield onto the podcast today to wax lyrical on the wonders of poo! Sarah is a registered dietitian, functional medicine practitioner and absolute poo aficionado. As someone who has personally struggled with digestive issues for the better part of her life, Sarah knows just how vulnerable and overwhelming it can feel to take the reins of your health and make long lasting change. It is Sarah’s deep desire, and mission to assist those suffering from health and digestive issues to heal from the inside out.

"I truly believe that your poop is the direct reflection and a perfect way to measure what's going on internally."


- Sarah Greenield 


Mason and Sarah discuss:


  • What the ideal poo looks like.
  • High fat diets as a source of pro-inflammatory bacteria.
  • The gut/nervous and endocrine (hormone) system connection.
  • To float or not to float? What it means if your poo sinks or swims.
  • Lifestyle, sleep and stress as important markers for digestive health.
  • The impact macro and micro nutrients have on microbiome diversity.
  • The perils of diet dogma, how extreme diets impair digestive capacity.
  • How monitoring your poo's can help you learn the language of your health.
  • The importance of identifying dietary irritants and bacterial dysbiosis when working to heal digestive issues.


Who is Sarah Greenfield?

Sarah Greenfield is a registered dietitian with a background in functional medicine living in Los Angeles where she launched the Fearless Fig - Sarah's program for spreading gut health awareness and wellness solutions. From the TEDx stage to interviews with NBC’s Lester Holt, Buzzfeed, and Men’s Health, Sarah’s fearless approach to health is captivating audiences across the globe and changing how we all live a fearless life.


Sarah Greenfield is a Registered Dietitian, Functional Medicine Practitioner, and Poo Aficionado. Sarah received her Bachelor of Science in Nutrition from University of Pennsylvania. Once Sarah started working as a registered dietitian in Los Angeles, her eyes were opened to the power of human physiology. From there, Sarah pursued prevention-based nutrition and functional medicine and started her own practice, the Fearless Fig. As someone who struggled with digestive issues for the better part of her life, Sarah understands how overwhelming and vulnerable it can feel to make lasting lifestyle changes. As a result, Sarah works with clients to change they way they think about health, identify the root cause of health imbalances, and provide the education and tools needed to make a long-lasting change. Through her work, Sarah has been featured in Men’s HealthSelfBuzzFeed, and even shared a TEDx talk! 


Sarah's Website

Sarah's Instagram

Sarah's Facebook

Sarah's Courses


Check Out The Transcript Below:


Mason:   (00:01)

Sarah, thanks so much for joining me.


Sarah:  (00:03)

Yeah, I'm excited.


Mason:  (00:04)

Me too, Fearless Fig. Is there something about the fig and its digestive prowess that made that your title?


Sarah:   (00:16)

Well, kind of. It's like a yes and no. I like alliterations. I was like, "Oh, Fearless Fig, that kind if goes together." But also when I moved to California was the first time I actually had a fig and I ate so many of them because I was like, "These are the most delicious things I've ever had," then I had horrible digestive issues afterwards because they're so fibrous and I just, I ate way too many. I think it's kind of funny in retrospect that I'm like, "Yeah, [crosstalk 00:00:41]."


Mason:  (00:41)

I get you. I'm a sucker for alliteration as well. I'm like-


Sarah:  (00:44)

Love it.


Mason:  (00:46)

... "What else is that fearless feijoa?" Another word for a Kiwi. Otherwise, yeah, fig's good. We're going to go and talk about poo quite a bit. I really like it. I've been sharing with the crew here and there as much as we can get off leaning on practitioners consistently, and start building that real folky know how, that we can watch our own selves and our own expressions, our own poos, but I haven't elaborated too much. I'm just like, "Hey, guys, keep on just watching your poo and you're going to see what feedback you're getting from any dietary swings, or if you're dialling in the diet in a particular way."


Mason:  (01:24)

I'm really excited to go and just get a bit of like, navigation through that landscape when we're ... Is there a technical term for poo watching or poo observing that we can, or maybe we can coin one, poo pervery?


Sarah:  (01:39)

I like that. I don't think I have one. I always go back to learning the language of your health, because I truly believe that your poop is the direct reflection and a perfect way to measure what's going on internally, because we don't have a lot of that data that we see on a regular basis. We have snot, that doesn't really tell us too much. But when you dive into poop, that's really a huge language of your health.


Mason:  (02:05)

Such an immediate feedback as well. You're right, because we've got expressions in our skin, with our hydration, with our wees, but the poo digestively it's our anchor for what's consisting ... With so much coming out at the moment making sure that we're eating correctly, yes for ourselves and our mitochondria, but eating in a way ... basically eating for our microbiota. That's something ... People are starting to see that, looking at your shit is literally your way to bypass the shit of either dietary dogma and just aligning yourself, because theoretically based on testimonials or what in your head makes sense or morally what makes sense, I'm going to make that my diet.


Mason:  (02:57)

You can free yourself from that and actually watch what's going on and by watching what's coming out of you. Let's dive into that. What does that ... Yes, you've said what it means to ... You can actually know yourself a little bit more, but let's start looking at this as in the whole practise how we can get some ... find our feet a little bit more.


Sarah:  (03:18)

Yeah, looking at it as number one and I think just bringing ourselves back to this idea that our body's always trying to give us clues when something's off, and we tend to push them away until we're into a disease state. Getting back to this idea of connecting to optimising wellness, and not waiting until it's so far along that it's a bigger issue. But really just starting to say like, "Okay, what can I start to tune into?" The poop is right there. I always start by just assessing ... I'm not telling people to face down in the toilet for 20 minutes, but just take a look back, there's a couple of key things that you can really look for, that can clue you into what's going on.


Sarah:  (03:56)

First and foremost, ideal poo is usually a question people ask me about and that is pretty well formed, it comes out easily. You don't want to be straining, you don't want to be sitting on the toilet for almost really any longer than it would take you to pee. It should be a really quick process where you have the urge to go, it comes out, it's well formed, it doesn't make a mess in the toilet bowl, you have minimal cleanup. That's a good poop. When we start to see things like more of like a soft serve consistency that can indicate that things are not being processed as well. To me I start to think about, "Okay, well is there irritation?


Sarah:  (04:31)

Is there inflammation going on in the digestive tract? Are you eating things that maybe are irritating?" When it's off that ...


Mason:  (04:37)

Is that including a big streaking on the bowl, that kind of thing?


Sarah:  (04:40)

Yeah, and if it's consistent, because we also have to understand, you can have a weird poop every, once in a while and it's not a big deal. It's just when that becomes your norm and it's messy all the time and it's streaking all the time that that's something you want to tune into. I've done so much. I know we talked about testing and not necessarily wanting to go back to testing. But having done all this testing, I know that when those things start to kind of creep up, we know something's out of whack. That usually goes back to, "All right, what are you eating? Is it inflaming your gut? Is there irritation? Is that consistently happening?


Sarah:  (05:15)

Why is it not formed?" Thinking about, are you getting enough fibre? Do you have enough bulk in your stool? Think about your diet. We tend to be busy, overlook our diet, go for convenience foods, go for things that are not fueling the microbiome. That's one thing. Another thing that I [crosstalk 00:05:33]-


Mason:  (05:33)

Can I ask on streaking?


Sarah:  (05:34)



Mason:  (05:34)

Yeah, and just to be clear as well, I love the fact that we can test what's going on in the gut as well. It's just nice to be able to then take that and embody it, so through the testing we can actually get really insightful about what's going on, on a bacterial level and inflammation level, right?


Sarah:  (05:50)



Mason:  (05:51)

With the streaking, just for someone, because we're not on here long, we could probably talk for probably five hours about this, about the specifics, but are there particular ... Is it macronutrient commonality that you're going into excessively if you're seeing a lot of streaky or loose stool? Or is it more in that camp where what you're doing, we're going to have to look for what you're doing which is generally inflaming you? We have to go and look for what's in the diet that's causing inflammation.


Sarah:  (06:18)

Yeah, typically I go for what's causing inflammation. When we want to look at micronutrients or macronutrient breakdown and that's not functioning well, there's other things to look for. But when you're seeing this consistent, loose stool, I'm always thinking, "Okay, well, where's the irritation coming from?" Is it an irritation caused by something you're eating that's aggravating your immune system and causing inflammation? Or is it just years and years of digestive gut abuse, where now your bacterial balance is out of whack and when you look at it from a stool test or something like that, you see a higher level of inflammatory bacteria?


Sarah:  (06:59)

That's what really fascinating. A lot of times, I work with so many people who have digestive issues and just can see these patterns, that that's something you absolutely want to clue into, because it means that there's just probably some dysbiosis or irritation.


Mason:  (07:13)

Do you find that there are particular factors more likely to contribute to the creation of those inflammatory bacteria?


Sarah:  (07:23)

Yes. Typically what I find is people who have had history of prolonged antibiotic use, or they went through something recently, where they were on antibiotics for a long period of time or proton pump inhibitors. A lot of times people will have issues with acid reflux and the solution from a conventional perspective is to say, "Okay, well, here's some proton pump inhibitors that will decrease the acidity. It'll cure that acid reflux," and just go be on them for months, six months at a time, a year. I've seen people on proton pump inhibitors for years and that's just not okay, because if you're on those types of medications that are decreasing your stomach acidity, it's going to have the same impact as an antibiotic over ...


Sarah:  (08:07)

There's been studies where they've looked at six months. If you're on that proton pump inhibitor, it's going to have that same negative impact on your microbiome, and then you'll start to see things like pro-inflammatory bacteria growing up because they're a little bit more resilient than our good bacteria.


Mason:  (08:21)

In that process, because something I kind of ... I love the theory of this and then every now and then I get, which is like this whole big Yin time that we've got going on at the moment, we're going inward and I feel I am anyway, and it's actually going into winter here. I get to go through that process internally and really feel into where I'm like, bacterially or, in my tissue where I'm hitting a snag. I don't know there if there's anything you want to, if you want to take us through the journey of poo formation and creation and ... Just nerd out on that a little bit.


Sarah:  (08:59)

Yeah, well it starts really ... It's a mental process, because the way we break down and degrade our foods starts with our awareness of our food when we sit down and eat. There's a whole mental aspect that happens where if you are distracted, if you're eating your food, watching TV, doing a call, working, it's going to impact the way you're able to actually degrade and break down nutrients and ultimately absorb them. When our stress levels higher, that's impacting also the diversity of our gut. Really, when you think about poo formation, it comes down to what type of environment are you creating for yourself when you sit down and eat a meal?


Sarah:  (09:38)

Our food is the foundation of our health. It's not only just what we're eating, but it's the way that we're able to then process it. That's what I think about first and then we also think about, what is the actual construct of our meal? Are we eating things that are really extreme? There's a lot of extreme dieting happening right now. Especially the ketogenic diet is a really big one out here in the United States. I hate that diet for many reasons, because of the microbiome impact it has. But when you're going extreme, when you're eating these extreme ways, that's negatively impacting and throwing off the balance of our microbiome.


Sarah:  (10:17)

You want to look at the food that you're consuming, and make sure that it is balanced, that you have adequate macronutrients or carbohydrates, protein, fat, because that's influencing the balance and integrity of your microbiome, which also impacts hormone status. If you're eating this standard American diet or standard Australian diet as I've heard it referred to as well, that's going to throw off your hormone balance, which impacts digestion, which impacts your gut microbiome. All very interconnected. I think about it in that context as well. Then as you get to ingesting, if your stress is higher, you're not going to have enough enzymes to break things down.


Sarah:  (11:00)

You're not going to be able to extract nutrients. You're going to have an inability to absorb certain things. Then if you're not feeding your microbiome well from a prebiotic fibre standpoint, phytonutrients also the colours of our food or feeding the microbiome, then you're not going to be making certain compounds as effectively. We make neurotransmitters in our gut. We make vitamin B, vitamin K or different types of B vitamins, I should say. We make hormones. All of these things are impacted even from just that moment that you sit down and the intention you put into your food, and then ultimately, we're going to be able to see, "Well, how is that coming out when you're pooping?" Yeah, I just get lost in it.


Mason:  (11:43)

No, I feel you. I'll get lost out there with you as well. I love that. I want to just talk about the keto diet. We talk a lot about dogma, and I talk a lot about dogmatic diets quite often being useful for a particular time, where you can extract the insight, maybe you're disconnecting from that SAD diet or whatever it is, or coming home to yourself a little bit more and seeing how that food does affect you. But then it's in that bridging period when you know, "All right, it's time to take what I need and then drop that label," and that rule, all the rule based eating and the dogma and the morality or whatever it is, and that tribalism which is good to an extent, and then move towards what's real for you with your own identity, not relying on that.


Mason:  (12:30)

We've talked a lot about it in veganism, and ketogenic comes up again and again. Whenever I talk to people focused on the digestive system, the keto diet starts getting really slammed. I just want to make sure everyone's remembering it's like, it might be really beautiful and useful. There might be elements that you might still continue to resonate with and you embody, but we're talking about, set yourself to this system and then don't listen to the signs of your body that it's time to change. In that, what is it about the keto diet? We're talking high fat, relatively high protein, but very fat fueled, I think is that what you're referring to?


Sarah:  (13:06)



Mason:  (13:06)

And then no carbs. Can you tell us about your interpretation of what's happening on that type of diet to the gut?


Sarah:  (13:15)

Yeah. The way that I see it and the way I look at it, and I appreciate your prefacing out with or prefacing it saying, our bodies are shifting and changing. While something might feel good for a certain period of time, it's just when we get attached to these things as the only way to eat and keto, what that will do oftentimes, in people that have digestive issues is initially it'll feel really good because we're taking out all of the fermentable carbohydrates. We're taking out all of the prebiotics. We're taking out all of these things that feed the bacteria in the gut that sometimes can get out of balance and cause digestive issues. But what we're then doing is we're introducing more protein.


Sarah:  (13:52)

We're introducing more saturated fat, and saturated fat can actually bind to certain endotoxins. Now we have, we always have certain endotoxins in our gut just based on gram-negative, gram-positive bacteria, gram-negative bacteria. They're in our gut. They're part of our ecosystem, but when they're higher, we have higher levels of this LPS. What that does is it creates permeability. It creates a leakiness in the gut. When we eat saturated fat, when we're eating higher saturated fat, we're feeding that pro-inflammatory bacteria, and then saturated fat will bind with LPS and make it more easily absorbable versus something like fibre, which binds with LPS and helps it stay in the digestive tract and then ultimately be eliminated. There's a lot ...


Mason:  (14:39)

What's LPS mean?


Sarah:  (14:40)

LPS is lipopolysaccharides ...


Mason:  (14:42)

That's right.


Sarah:  (14:42)

... it's essentially ... Yeah, it's in the cell wall of all gram-negative bacteria. When you look at the actual ecosystem of the gut, there's about, I think it's about 35% of our normal gut microbiome is a phylum called bacteroides, which is gram-negative. They do make up a huge population of our gut. It's just we want to keep that in balance. Most people when they're experiencing digestive issues, when they're extreme dieting, when they're following the keto diet, they will throw that balance off even further.


Mason:  (15:15)

I think we've talked about it on the podcast before is that you're especially getting just fatty greasy poo's in that point?


Sarah:  (15:21)

Yeah, so you can see it manifest in that way for sure. You can see just the fat coming out, those shiny poos. Poops that float can also be an indication that you have too much fat, you're not able to break it down. Then ultimately, it can lead into these more loose streaky, hard to clean up poops that we talked about because that's a direct way to see potential inflammation in the body. That's essentially what you're kind of swinging towards when you're on that ketogenic diet.


Mason:  (15:49)

Okay, so float, to float or not to float? Is there a swing that you like to see and sometimes we're float and sometimes we're not? What is that actually showing about where we're at digestively?


Sarah:  (16:03)

Yeah, so good question, because it's not like a one size fits all. It's not like if your poop floats, oh-oh.


Mason:  (16:12)

Yeah, if you don't sink you think.


Sarah:  (16:12)

Yeah, it's not necessarily a bad thing if your poop's floating and you have a very high fibre diet, because with the fibre, you're going to get more gas actually trapped in the poop and it's going to float. If you're like, "Oh, I follow a really high fibre diet, that's probably why my poop floats," because in Ayurvedic Medicine, they say a floating poop is ideal. In functional medicine, we look at a floating poop as fat malabsorption essentially. You're not breaking down fat effectively. If you're in more of this SAD diet style or you're under a lot of stress, or if you're having acid reflux, and you have this floating poop, that's probably something to look into, because that's showcasing to me at least that you have a malabsorption with fat and you're not breaking down fat effectively.


Mason:  (17:00)

When we are sinking, what is that an indicator of where our poops at? What's sinking us?


Sarah:  (17:06)

Ideally, if it's sinking, I always look at that as a good sign, because that means that you have the proper ability to break down fat. You're breaking down things well. Essentially, again, if it's not a super high fibre diet, that's a good place to be. Most people don't have floating poops because of too much fibre. At least people that I see are not getting that much fibre, but ideally you do want it to sink. Then the other issue that you would want to be on the lookout for is if it's sinking, but you're still seeing pieces of food that you can identify in your poop. The common ones that I see that we shouldn't be able to identify are things like carrots, tomato skins, lettuce, rice, things like that we shouldn't be able to identify, corn ...


Sarah:  (17:49)

Corn is a pass, black quinoa, sesame seeds, those are going to be a little bit harder for the body to break down, flax seeds, but the vegetables, things like that, you shouldn't be able to see that in your poop. That can also indicate that there's some malabsorption and digestive issues.


Mason:  (18:06)

If you're doing a little bit of black quinoa or something like that and corn and you're having a little look and you've completely digested it, you're like, "Man, my Agni fire is like rocking right now."


Sarah:  (18:19)

"I'm on it."


Mason:  (18:19)

Yeah. There is nothing getting through this cauldron of my digestive system. Okay, that's good to know because ... I appreciate, we're just getting little tidbits and tips for looking at what's going on and how it's working internally. We're looking at our poo. We're realising whatever we're doing, whether we're in SAD diet, keto, extreme in one direction or another, we're not completely digesting. We're saying the tomato skins, we're floating, we're streaky. Where do we start? Because I assume there's a different journey, there's a little bit of like you know, for lack of a better term for poopoing of fibre, excessive fibre diets here and there, whether that's just on a healing journey.


Mason:  (19:09)

What's that process of bridging back? Where are we starting? I assume there's going to be an inclusion of prebiotics and fibres there in that process. What does that bridging journey and it's going to have to be simplified, because it's very bio individual? But yeah, what's that journey look like?


Sarah:  (19:29)

Yeah, so fibre is kind of ... When you can't tolerate high amounts of fibre, that's the first indication that something is off in your microbiome, because we should be able to break these down. But what happens a lot of times is the bacteria from our gut will move from the large intestines up into our small intestines, and that creates a lot of pain, a lot of gas, a lot of bloating, and that's when we start to be able to not break down what we call FODMAP foods or fermentable carbohydrates. That's the first indication. There does have to be when you're dealing with digestive issues, there is a period of elimination, of pulling back on certain foods that you should be able to digest, but at this point in time, you just can't, your body can't handle it.


Sarah:  (20:11)

We do have to go through a phase of looking at, "All right, what can you tolerate? How do we start to heal the body and rebalance the microbiome?" Even fermented foods in many cases, if you have a yeast overgrowth, if you have this bacterial overgrowth, and you're trying to take probiotics and eat fermented foods, it's going to cause you to feel like crap. That's, I think a lot of times where people get confused where they're like, "Well, I'm following all of the ideals of what a healthy diet would be. I'm eating more fibre. I'm eating more fermented foods. I'm eating more plant based foods and I feel like crap."


Sarah:  (20:43)

That's the place to tune into to understand like, "Okay, can your body actually handle it at this point?"


Mason:  (20:49)

There's so many questions bubbling up all at once. I just want to step back into extreme diets. We've covered keto. Are there any others that you feel to talk about the implications of? We kind of the celery thing, which isn't necessarily about celery. Before we go on and talk about, I want to talk about some of your superstar fibres and prebiotics and those kinds of things that you really champion and see generally have a place in the healthy poo diet. What are some of these other little signs and implications that we can learn from these extreme diets that maybe we're tilting in one direction too much?


Mason:  (21:27)

I guess, celery is like, let's just say that falls into juicing, lots of cold foods, perhaps lots of raw foods, which is familiar for me because years ago raw food was my entry there. Let's talk about that a little bit.


Sarah:  (21:43)

Well, that world is really tough on people with digestive issues, just because raw takes a lot of heat. it takes a lot of enzymes, it takes a lot of power to break it down, so for people that are imbalanced in their gut, it's a tough place to go to just that raw. Then a lot of the fibres as well can be really challenging. It's really ... Any of these extreme diets are really tough. Even veganism for a certain period of time can throw people off because they're eating ... You look at the staples of a vegan diet and it's so high in the fermentable carbohydrates, avocado, garlic, onions, greens in some cases. Dandelion greens have a lot of good prebiotic, so when we're eating really vegan, and also it's just carb heavy more so.


Sarah:  (22:34)

That can really throw people off into a place where they're all of a sudden digestively they can't handle it. Then also the paleo diet because paleo is taking away a huge source of complex carbohydrates. It's taking away beans. All these things are really critical to feeding and diversifying the gut. I think what I've been really understanding is that so many people have digestive imbalances, and a lot of these diets are taking out key things that the body can't process, but should be able to, and masking the digestive issue and just pushing it off until it becomes something different. That's my like ... what I get concerned about.


Mason:  (23:10)

Yeah. The concern's great. It's like just to know ... For people to realise that, things are going so good in one area as you said, you can go on that vegan, especially you go to Bali, you get on the vegan diet, lots of acai bowls, and juices, and salads, and perhaps you're doing like a bit of raw kale and these kinds of things. Could be good for a time but then quite often, we start getting back that bloating feeling. From what I can tell it's kind of like a diarrhoea that it's going to be produced from that type of diet, right?


Sarah:  (23:47)

Yeah, yeah. The other thing that I think just the idea of going to Bali and being on a retreat and really immersing yourself in a different lifestyle, for a time being and feeling really good, the other thing is I always like to remind people is that, the gut doesn't work in isolation. It's not, just like anything in our body doesn't function in isolation, which is where I think conventional medicine sometimes can miss the mark, because you're going to the cardiologist for your heart and you're going to the endocrinologist for your hormones, and the gastroenterologist for your gut, which is great.


Sarah:  (24:18)

They're very complex systems, but they all work together, and that idea of how does this all come back and function together is oftentimes overlooked in a wellness and healing journey. Because when you're in Bali, when you're changing your routine, when you're participating in more yoga and slowing down, you're shifting your entire hormonal makeup. You're shifting the way that your body is experiencing chemically and responding to stress, and that impacts the digestion, that impacts hormones. The one thing I will always like to remind people is we can get really freaking granular into this.


Sarah:  (24:52)

We can look at the individual bacteria in your poop and we can look at every element of what you're eating, but there's still this larger picture of lifestyle and sleep and stress, and how all that plays a huge role in this really complex system as well.


Mason:  (25:08)

You bring up a really great point. It's like, who are we attributing success to here? Are we completely attributing it to the switch to keto, paleo, a big one to the fasting with all the juices and the cold bowls, and yet I still have these digestive issues? What's going on? It was so good for me, but I'm getting this blowback. We have a lot of young women coming to us going, "Look, I ..." Behind closed doors, especially lots of big Instagram accounts that they have this certain brand identity. They've been enmeshed with their stage persona and they need to up keep that and they're like, "But I don't have my period," crazy bloating, diarrhoea, always cold, but they can't stop because there's a fear that if I stop that diet, which gave me the healing is going to give back all my issues.


Mason:  (26:08)

You're right; in conjunction is all of a sudden the deep relaxation, the hydration, the sunbathing and what that does. Maybe talk to us about that, that link between the nervous system and the gastrointestinal tract.


Sarah:  (26:23)

Oh my god, it's everything.


Mason:  (26:26)

[inaudible 00:26:26] right.


Sarah:  (26:28)

We have this big nerve running down the back of our neck called the vagal nerve or the vagus nerve, and that I like to refer to as our gut brain superhighway. Our brain and our gut are constantly in communication. These two things need to be talking to each other to essentially function. Like I said, the neurotransmitters that are made in the gut, they're influenced by inflammation in the gut, by irritation, by leakiness, permeability. The way that we approach it in our mindset is, directly going down to our gut and influencing everything that's happening. When people can manage and navigate stress more effectively, everything changes.


Sarah:  (27:07)

The more stressed out you are and I see this time and time again, where I know if I'm working with someone and they're having significant digestive issues, I know that their stress level is also going to be mega, mega elevated or their sleeps impacted or something's going on that's keeping them out of balance, or there was some emotional trauma that can come up and present in the gut as well. This idea that, we can fix one thing or we can just take the supplement or we can just do the diet without addressing the other areas, the stress is so huge, because we have stress in so many different capacities. Stress, we have perceived stress, which is, I have all these emails or I have these followers I have to upkeep this persona.


Sarah:  (27:49)

That's perceived stress, which is affecting our brain. Our HPA access, our hypothalamus pituitary adrenal gland is kicking off, and now we have this surge in cortisol which is that impacting our sleep, which is impacting our hormones, which is impacting our gut. It's all very interconnected. Then we have stress from not eating enough calories throughout the day or over exercising, which ... I'm in LA, I see this quite frequently, but kind of the picture you painted, I don't have my period, I'm gaining weight, I'm bloated, I have diarrhoea, what's going on? I'm doing all the things.


Sarah:  (28:25)

You look at, "Okay, well," perceived stress, movement based stress, caloric intake stress, and then toxin load and is your body actually able to process and remove toxins? Or are those another form of stress that are burdening your system? Yeah, stress plays a huge role. I can't ever pick a favourite and say, "Stress is the one to manage if you're going to pick one," but it's so integral in the conversation that it cannot be overlooked and expect to be healed, or that your guts going to function.


Mason:  (28:59)

In context of the Yang and the searching for where I'm going to get this new saviour especially, it's pervasive in LA.


Sarah:  (29:08)

Oh yeah.


Mason:  (29:12)

I love LA, and I love that it's this big mixing pot and bring in a lot of Western philosophy and same with Silicon Valley, just like these explorations of what we can bring in next to diversify and bring more harmony to our Western culture. But, of course, in such a yang world, you get stuck in chasing that shiny thing ... I'm doing all the right things as you said, and then in reflecting of that, is that Yin state that's almost boring. It is definitely just in context of looking for something that's going to save you, it seems.


Mason:  (29:52)

There, what you're saying seems boring and too simple, but more and more I'm definitely getting it at the moment. I've had to clip myself on the ear with all this that's going on in the world and this going internally, and then bringing the family together to the house. You can't deny the consistent beauty in that sleep, in that approaching life in a parasympathetic sense, just maintaining hydration, a harmonious diet where you know, your poo's reflecting the state of health. How do you communicate this? You're in the middle of ... You've gone out of the frying pan from wherever you are, I'm sure into the fire of LA.


Sarah:  (30:33)



Mason:  (30:33)

How are you communicating this while still appealing to creating the shiny thing, that the moths will come to?


Sarah:  (30:43)

Yeah, well, I mean, exactly. I really tend to look at people that are frustrated. When I talk about ... Because I'm coming, I'm not working with someone that's like, "I've just been experiencing bloating." I'm coming in and saying, "Have you been struggling with your health for years, and all the information that you got is not pointing you in a direction where you feel better?" What I'm looking for and I'm wanting to support people in, is this idea of long term health and longevity and sustainability. If you're looking for a quick fix, if you're looking ... "I just want to fix my bloating and move on. Give me the supplements. Tell me exactly what to eat.


Sarah:  (31:20)

Tell me what to do. Tell me what my macronutrient balance should be." I'm not the right practitioner for you, because I'm really looking at, "All right, how do I support you and go on this journey with you?" I work with most of my clients for six months just to start with, and then we'll go on longer for a year because health is not, it's not a one sided quick fix thing. It's really about the exploration of the mind and how you approach it and your beliefs around your health. Then the physiological aspect and how is your body responding to this and what are you carrying on, or what are you holding on to and how is your body showing you this.


Sarah:  (31:56)

To me health is really if you want to go deeper and you want to get internal, and you really want to say, "Okay, how do I create something that is sustainable?" I understand that health is an ongoing journey. It's not linear. It's not ever over. I think that's a hard thing for people to hear sometimes, because it's like, "How long will it take you to decrease my bloating and fix my bloating?" That's a tough question, because it's not always going to happen in a systematic way. Then a lot of times, once you overcome something that has been a burden on you, you can then see something else that's a challenge. It's like, I'm a marathon runner so I always joke that every first time marathon runner, their goal is like, "I just want to cross the finish line," and I'm like, "Uh-huh (affirmative)."


Sarah:  (32:39)

Then as soon as they get across that finish line, they have a time goal, and then all of a sudden it becomes about this shifting goal and that's in anything. Every time you hit a goal, you raise the standard, you raise the bar, and that's the same exact pattern I see in our health.


Mason:  (32:54)

Yeah, it's like sometimes that pause to reflect on, "Wow, my bloating is pretty much nonexistent and I didn't even take time to ..." My sound boy just fell off the wall. Great timing. It's like, "I haven't even stopped to acknowledge how far I've come and how much I'm producing this harmony within my gut through the shifts in diet." Your right it's like, "Wow what's next? What's wrong with me next? What other thing have I got in me that I need to detoxify and optimise?" Yeah, great point. What you said about macronutrients, we can't live forever with every meal having different percentages of different macronutrients. That's not sustainable over 20 years.


Mason:  (33:41)

But with that, what do you see as your ... What are these beautiful foods that you really resonate with in your own diet, in your clients diet that you see really tighten up these fearless fig faeces?


Sarah:  (33:59)

Fearless fig faeces. All right, I got to write that down and change that. For me, it's just really about thinking, once you get to a place where you can tolerate things, it's thinking about diversity. So my motto is the more diverse your diet, the more diverse your gut. If you can think about, getting 40 different types of whole foods in your diet per week, that's a good place to be in. I don't mean like, you could do like a red apple, a green apple, brown rice, red rice, black rice, and that's diversity and that's phytonutrients and that's colour, and that's feeding all different bacteria. The gut microbiome when you look at it is so ... We're just starting to really scratch the surface of the research I feel in what is going on in our gut microbiome.


Sarah:  (34:43)

The way that it's interacting, the symbiosis between other bacterial organisms, between everything is just starting to be explored. At least at this point, finding just the more variety in your diet is going to help. I like the idea of, when I tell people I don't like measuring macronutrients, but if you want to go for a goal ... I always say, half your plate is bright, colourful vegetables. A quarter of that is protein, whether or not that's meat based or plant based. Then we want to do quarter of the plate half a cup type thing of some form of complex carbohydrates, quinoa, resistant starches like cooled white rice, cooled white potatoes.


Sarah:  (35:27)

That really feeds and fuels the microbiome and then some good source of fat as well. That's what I think is going to make a fearless fig fece an ideal.


Mason:  (35:39)

I just want to ask about, because when I talk to digestive experts, when people are looking at the blue zones and et cetera, the beans and the lentils and legumes are starting to come back into, probably find this harmony which I've struggled with a little bit. A little bit just because I didn't enjoy them in my early days and went more raw, trying to go off more large scale agricultural crops, the anti nutrient kind of thing. Then trying to work in more with an ancestral diet and style, but I've ... I'm really opening up to that. Well, we live in a different world and I'm trying to just make sure that I don't have any prejudice, and I'm just finding what works and doesn't for my family. Where do they fit in? Have you had a little journey there with beans and legumes yourself?


Sarah:  (36:31)

Oh yeah.


Mason:  (36:34)

[inaudible 00:36:34].


Sarah:  (36:34)

Yeah, well, for me, I had a digestive journey, which is why I'm probably in the position that I'm in, because I was having such awful digestive issues and I was getting no clarity on the why. It was just like, "Take this out. Take this out." But I didn't understand why my body was imbalanced and beans were the worst culprit. Beans really are like even in a healthy system, beans do typically tend to produce more gas. They have something called raffinose which is hard for our body to break down which causes more gas. But I think they are really, really beneficial part of our diet. They do feed you know those gramme-positive bacteria.


Sarah:  (37:13)

Lactobacillus can feed off of certain legumes. Bifidobacteria is really good with black beans, those darker polyphenols feed that really well. I think it's looking at your ... You don't want to necessarily eat beans, all three meals, but incorporating them in a way where that can be your protein source for one of your meals, that's a great way to bring them in. Yeah, just looking again at variety and balance and moderation, and it doesn't have to be so extreme, which I know is it's really hard for people because we want to have that black and white rule, just eat this because there's so many variables within food and in our health.


Sarah:  (37:49)

But I think that beans are such an important part of that picture of our microbiome, and also allow us to know that things are working well when you can tolerate them.


Mason:  (37:59)

Yeah, I'm starting to open up a little bit and just see where they sit, how many times they sit in my diet, small amounts. I've said in another podcast just watching the gas, watching the farts that sometimes inevitably come and take it too far, or too little.


Sarah:  (38:18)

Get back into them. But like also the way you prepare them like soaking them overnight, adding a little bit of you know acid to it, like apple cider vinegar or something like that can help pull some of the things that disrupt digestion out of it. Sprouting them is going to be another way to access a little bit more digestive enzymes and make them a little bit easier to break down. Just exploring the different capacities.


Mason:  (38:40)

Coming out of cans, BPA free, organic beans in the brine, have been cooked, do you have a gauge on where they're at in the preparation cycle?


Sarah:  (39:00)

I think there's going to be an ease to those than an accessibility, because a lot of people aren't going to spend hours and days boiling and prepping their beans. I still think there is a lot of good nutrition value in that. I always just say, if you're going to be using canned beans, make sure they're not loaded with sodium, and that you do want to rinse them, because you want to rinse off that non digestible, that raffinose. I still think that they're a perfectly great way to incorporate beans into your diet. If you have elevated digestive issues, I would then challenge you to do more soaking like I said, adding apple cider vinegar, even sprouted like sprouted mung beans are a really great thing that you can eat raw.


Sarah:  (39:39)

That's a good way to incorporate it just because it has more digestive enzyme support, so it's going to help you break things down a little bit more efficiently, things like that. But I don't want to say that canned beans aren't great too, because I definitely do incorporate those a lot.


Mason:  (39:55)

I'm just curious is that we get asked the question, I'm definitely ... I've just asked my former stepdad, Israeli guy, and I just remember him when I was a kid, him like soaking those red beans like overnight maybe for a little bit more, real long cooks and I just ... There was just something self regulating about it. There's something self regulating about going in and then preparing the beans for yourself that for me puts that cap, rather than just been able to go everyday, cool, bang, get the salad.


Mason:  (40:33)

I just want to start bringing that home, so we're talking about like fibres, diversity, phytonutrient diversity coming through our vegetation. Just ... I guess it's one of those things we're going to be talking about it now, and you're going to be talking about it like 20 years from now, trying out these vegetables that are on the fringes of your awareness and hybridised and [inaudible 00:41:01], I guess like that is a huge staple. Then getting the beans, and then getting the fibres in, what kind of ... To bring us home, what kind of benefits?


Mason:  (41:14)

Just a refresher. Maybe people hearing this for the first time. What kind of benefits are we seeing through assuming we've gone through a healing journey, and we can now integrate soluble and insoluble fibres through our diet? What kind of benefits and clean up and work is that doing to our digestive system, and they been shown in our poo?


Sarah:  (41:33)

Yeah, well, if you're getting those good, solid poo's and everything is ideally sinking not always floating, but if you're getting that good poo and you also feel well, because everything that's presented externally in our body, like you had mentioned skin conditions, dehydration, that's usually a presentation of an imbalance in our gut. When we can go through that healing process and we can eat diversity and tolerate it, we're just seeing ... I'm just seeing ... It's incredible. The body is healing. You see so many things like hormone balance come back and women start to get their period again and skin rashes, clear up like eczema.


Sarah:  (42:12)

I've seen that happen multiple times anxiety, depression. That's hugely caused by inflammation and bacterial imbalances and we talked about LPS. It's so many things and I think that's probably why I got so fascinated with the gut, because when we look at these things that we're dealing with fatigue, brain fog, all the things I mentioned, PCOS. A huge part of that is coming from an inflamed and imbalanced gut. When we can get our gut into a place where it's in harmony and in balance, we're seeing that spill over into every single area of our health.


Mason:  (42:45)

So good. Final question. Do you take any fibre supplements? Do you ever do like a psyllium in the morning or anything or do you ... Are you normally just cruising with your diet?


Sarah:  (42:56)

I don't typically tend to take in more fibre but I do use it in my practise. Especially when we're going through gut healing protocols, acacia fibre is one that's tolerated really, really well. If you're doing a cleanup, if you are ... I work with a lot of people with bacterial overgrowth, and so as we're removing some of those negative bacteria, I'll add it with acacia fibre because that actually helps to feed the bacteria a little bit and then make the medication or the supplement a little bit more effective. I like that. There's another one called Sunfiber, which is a great product.


Sarah:  (43:32)

Those are the two that I usually work with because they're not as bloating as ... Sometimes psyllium husk can bloat people. I actually really like using psyllium seed, and it's something that I didn't find until I went to Australia, so I think you guys have it. But out here it's a little bit harder. We have psyllium husk but the seed is really effective and it has really good fibres in it.


Mason:  (43:55)

So good. Thanks so much for coming on. Best place for people find you? I know Fearless Fig on Instagram is rocking away.


Sarah:  (44:04)

Yeah, that's the best place to find me. I do tonnes of education there and then also my website I have a whole poop guide where you can go and just look. You can download it and then it'll take you through how to look at your poop, what it means, what bacteria is associated with it. It really is that deeper dive into poop.


Mason:  (44:24)

Yeah, great. Because we didn't really cover constipation, but I'd just like to bridge, maybe we did in talking about that nervous system and that vagal tone work there. Is that fair to say?


Sarah:  (44:35)

Yeah, that's a huge, huge one. Also, if your vagus nerve is damaged and there's a lot of ways to repair that so like gagging. Not that I'm like, "Yeah, you should just gag yourself," but to improve vagal nerve tone, gagging, singing, gurgling those are all really great ways to do that. That can be associated with constipation. That's slowing down the motility. It's slowing down the nerve reactions that are happening. I think we indirectly talked about it all, but yeah if you want to dive into that more, I have that in the guide looking at the different levels of constipation, because the Bristol stool chart is the best, at least at this point the best way to evaluate and assess visually what your poop should look like.


Mason:  (45:19)

Oh yeah. I forgot to ask about whether we're still enjoying Bristol, so that's ... all right, great.


Sarah:  (45:26)

Yes, I love me a good Bristol stool chart.


Mason:  (45:30)

Sweet Bristol stool chart up in the toilet, you have all you guests really think about. The other thing ... I'm sorry. I know. It's like I keep on bringing things up.


Sarah:  (45:37)

That's okay.


Mason:  (45:38)

You guys have, in the US you have good poo observation decks in the toilet. It's a bit wider. The waters up higher, there's more surface area. Here, it's really ... It's quite like a 10 centimetre like-


Sarah:  (45:52)

It is.


Mason:  (45:53)

You know what I mean?


Sarah:  (45:53)

I noticed that. Yes, because I actually was in Australia the end of last year. I was working at, I was in Tasmania actually studying with a microbiome restoration specialist.


Mason:  (46:05)

What's his name? I think Dan Sipple, who's a, he's a regular on our podcast. I think he goes and studies with this guy as well. What's his name?


Sarah:  (46:12)

Jason Hawrelak.


Mason:  (46:13)

I think so. What's his book, Eating for your Microbiome or something?


Sarah:  (46:18)

Maybe. Yeah. He's fantastic. I actually, literally went to Australia for a month because I just emailed him, and I was like, "Can I come observe your practice?"


Mason:  (46:28)

[crosstalk 00:46:28].


Sarah:  (46:29)

Yeah, so was just so much fun. But I did notice because we talked a lot about understanding bowel transit time and looking at your poop. I had a really hard time looking at my poop there because it was such a deep, the toilet was just like a deep vessel of like, "Oh, it is harder to see that."


Mason:  (46:46)

Sometimes you go for a wipe and you drop it and you're "No, no. I've covered it up." Where as in like, being in the States you got all this place to pop the paper without ruining the observation. Anyway, I think that's something that I'm going to like, when I'm renovating I'm going to look to get like a-


Sarah:  (47:01)

A shelf. Well, actually, the fact that you bring that up, there are toilets in Amsterdam, in the Netherlands in some areas, that are not the older areas, and they have actual shelf toilets, where before it even goes in the water, you poop on this flat space and then it flushes down.


Mason:  (47:18)

South America as well.


Sarah:  (47:19)

That's something I've been ... I'm like, "I got to find out more about that."


Mason:  (47:23)

Yeah. I remember specifically in South America being like, it's really close, which prevents this splashback as well, which I really like that kind of [inaudible 00:47:32].


Sarah:  (47:33)

It probably makes it stink a little bit more, but for science that's all good.


Mason:  (47:38)

It's all in the name of science so we like it. Awesome. Thanks so much for coming on and chatting. It's been really great.


Sarah:  (47:45)

Yeah, thank you for having me.


Mason:  (47:46)

Hey, have a beautiful birth.


Sarah:  (47:48)

Thank you so much. Yeah, hopefully he'll come soon.


Mason:  (47:52)

Yeah, no, just keep walking around and enjoying your time and nature and turning that vagus nerve, and I'm sure it'll be smooth transition.


Sarah:  (48:04)

Thank you.


Mason:  (48:05)

Thanks guys. We'll put all the show notes and the chat and everything ... We'll put everything in the show notes rather, so you can go and check that out and download that guide. Thank you so much Sarah.


Sarah:  (48:14)

Thank you

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Courage & Empathy In The Face of Change with Catherine Ingram (EP#73)

Catherine Ingram joins Tahnee on the podcast today. Catherine Ingram is an international dharma teacher and former journalist specialising in empathy and activism. Catherine and Tahnee take a deep dive today sharing a beautiful conversation around the philosophical landscape of activism,...

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Courage & Empathy In The Face of Change with Catherine Ingram (EP#73)