In the world of nutrition, few people have brought together the functional and common sense approach to food
and health as Sharon Holand Gelfand.
A member of the American College of Nutrition, Sharon Holand Gelfand is a Board Certified Nutrition
Consultant, a Functional Diagnostic Nutritionist, lifestyle designer, motivational speaker and author whose
mission is to empower women with the tools they need to live healthier, richer, fuller lives, from the inside out
and outside in. She’s passionate about helping them create a personal blueprint for success so that they can
enjoy more balance, energy and freedom every day—without the constraints of traditional dieting. Her tag line
is: Eat Well. Think Clearly. Live Fully.
Sharon Holand Gelfand holds a M.S. in Applied Clinical Nutrition from The New York Chiropractic College, and is
board certified from the American Naturopathic Medical Certification Board. She is also completing her
certification as a Functional Diagnostic Nutritionist (FDN), where through functional lab testing, she helps to
identify malfunctions and healing opportunities that are H.I.D.D.E.N. (hormone, immune, digestion,
detoxification, energy production and nervous system) and bring one back into balance.
Learn more about Sharon at http://sharonholand.com/. Connect with her on LinkedIn:
https://www.linkedin.com/in/sharonholandgelfand. Follow her on FB:
https://www.facebook.com/sharonthenutritionist/, Twitter: https://twitter.com/sharonholand and Instagram:
[00:00:00] You are listening to the Nutrition Experts Podcast. Featuring guests who take the scientific talk about food and break it down for practical use. You’ve heard the phrase “you are what you eat.” Come find out what that really means. Experience conversations with experts in the field of nutrition and understand the power of food for our health, wellbeing and beyond. Now here’s your host Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist Mathea Ford.
Mathea Ford: [00:00:27] Hi there! It’s Mathea. Welcome back to the Nutrition Experts Podcast. The podcast featuring nutrition experts who are leading the way with food starts today right now, with our next guest. It’s great to have Sharon Holand on the show today. Sharon, welcome to Nutrition Experts. I’m excited to have you on the show and share your expertise with my tribe.
Sharon Holand: [00:00:48] Oh thank you so much for having me. I’ve been so looking forward to talking about our gut and I appreciate being on the show with you.
Mathea Ford: [00:00:57] I agree. I’m excited to talk about our gut because it’s it kind of just works for most of the time so we don’t even think about it. But I’d like you to tell my listeners a little more about you and what you do.
Sharon Holand: [00:01:10] Sure. So, I’m a Certified Functional Nutritionist and basically I look at the way our bodies function. I do a lot of specific testing with gut and hormones really to get to the root of what’s going on with the most common health complaints because we go through the day and retired and was stressed and we have IBS so we have aches and pains and we chalk it up to just getting older and then we think it’s normal. We think that “Oh! Well, this is just the way I should feel.” And it’s not it’s just what we’ve gotten used to. So, through my testing and questionnaires and working with my clients I can cut through all of that and help them find their own balance and function so that they can feel better and ground themselves with food so that they can pursue what their passions are, what their purposes and live a better, healthier life.
Mathea Ford: [00:02:05] And who doesn’t want to live a better healthier life right?
Sharon Holand: [00:02:08] Absolutely!
Mathea Ford: [00:02:10] So, let’s start with your gut. What are some signs that things are not right with your diet or your physiology that your gut could tell you?
Sharon Holand: [00:02:19] Besides the typical gas or constipation you know just that’s loaded feeling or acid reflux, it can be the fact that we have aches and pains that our joints are hurting us or that we get headaches or that we have dry skin. These things that again we think are benign are symptoms and are signs that our gut is saying “you know wake up! Wake up you know I’m trying to throw a little pebble at you to pay attention.” The challenge is that because these are common symptoms it’s so hard for it to be diagnosed as something because some people think “oh it’s chronic fatigue or it’s fibromyalgia and it’s it’s a gray area. But those are really some of the major things that you start thinking “I’ve got to look at my gut. What is going on in my gut? Where over 70 percent of our immune system lies.” So those are some of the common ones.
Mathea Ford: [00:03:18] So, those are symptoms. For example, what kind of conditions would you say that you deal with a lot.?
Sharon Holand: [00:03:26] A lot of people who come to me and you know it’s like I’m starting to work with people in their 20s even is that they’re just tired. People come to me are tired. They’ve gone to the doctor and they’re not getting… Nothing showing up so they’re just overwhelmed they’re sick and tired of feeling sick and tired and there’s no diagnosis. So, a lot of times I really I would say half my clients come to me with no particular diagnosis except that they feel instinctively “there’s something’s going on and I don’t know what it is and I can’t get the answers.” Then on the other end are people who are being diagnosed with auto immune disease. You know like Hashimoto’s or Crohn’s which is what my son has or even just Type 2 Diabetes where they don’t understand “I’m eating so healthy. I’m exercising. What’s going on? Why am I being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes or an autoimmune disease when I’m doing everything right? I’m reading everything and listening to everything” and they got their hands up and they’re just fed up. So, it kind of goes both ways of a diagnosis or just feeling sick and tired and sick being sick and tired.
Mathea Ford: [00:04:42] I can empathize with that having been a mom of young children. Absolutely! How does your work with the gut help that? Lets take being tired for example or lack of energy. How did they work to improve that by using their gut?
Sharon Holand: [00:04:59] When I start with somebody it starts with the whole intake of everything. I’m very thorough and looking at all aspects of life because it’s not just about the food. You know you and I were talking beforehand about the stresses in our lives and how there are so many factors and we have to really understand to connect all the pieces. So, I start with that because I don’t immediately go into testing because I want to get a sense of where somebody is and it’s simple things of just tell me “what your day is like. Tell me what you’re you know what do you do for a living? What’s your family situation and honing in on how or how are you sleeping? Are you drinking enough water? What are some things that we can look at?” Because sometimes somebody does eat healthy but they’re healthy is still eating wholegrain bread where they might have a sensitivity. So, I’ll say “you know maybe you want to swap that out and it just have really more root vegetables or have some sort meat. You know something with Almond flour in it.” I’m looking for simple steps before I get into the testing. And as you and I were also talking beforehand it’s about “what are you being thankful for?” You know it’s looking at “Okay, foods that you’re eating are you chewing your food? Because we’re such gulpers, we’re in a rush all the time right? And if you’re gulping your body’s stress it’s not able to digest properly. And just by slowing that process down allows your body to assimilate the nutrients and by slowing down you actually start losing weight because your brain and your stomachs are communicating and full so you eat less. So, it’s simple things like that and then what are we thankful for? It’s so easy in our negative society to be annoyed and stressed and everything. You know you turn on the news and something bad all the time or something at work or something with your kid. So it’s about pausing, breathing and enjoying your day. What can you be thankful for? Wake up in the morning. Be thankful that you’re alive! Be thankful that you have a roof over your head, that you have a spouse who loves you whatever it is. Look at that appreciation and at the end of the day no matter how bad your day is “What are three good things that happened?” And we can always find three good things. Always! And especially if you have kids or dogs you know just the love that you get from them. So, that’s another way of helping people to tune in to ways to calm their gut because they are calming their bodies because even if you’re eating well but you’re stressed out your system is going to be all haywire because it’s again not just about the food it’s about all aspects of your life and slowing down and breathing.
Mathea Ford: [00:07:56] How is your gut responding to stress? What’s the connection there? Because you know you’re talking about you’re tired and you’re stressed and that’s reacted your gut but I’m not sure I understand what the connection is.
Sharon Holand: [00:08:13] Over 82 percent of 70 percent of our immune system lies in our gut and our gut consider our second brain because it’s connected to our brain by the Vagus nerve and it’s like the superconductor highway. So, what you’re feeding your body, what you’re feeding your gut sends nutrients out to your organs through your bloodstream and up to your brain. But with that and with the being tired or the stress, there’s also these like free radicals I can think like a Pacman game you know you have Pacman who is eating up all these you know yellow blobs to try to win and those little yellow blobs are just free radicals that are being created in our bodies. There’s actually a gentleman that I listened to at a conference I went to recently Tom O’Bryan he wrote a book called The Autoimmune Fix and I love his metaphor because our gut microbiomes has like trillions of bacteria – good bad and ugly – and it’s considered by you can compare to the Armed Forces. So you have the Armed Forces that has all these different you know the Marines, the Navy, the Army and all these factions and then you can compare that to different antibodies that are in our gut. So, there’s like IgE response, IgG response. And their job is to protect our bodies. So, when it sees something coming in it automatically shoots a bullet at it but when it does that there’s collateral damage and that collateral damage creates a disruption in the gut bacteria. So, if our microbiome is disrupted and we’re eating foods and we’re not able to assimilate them properly or our body doesn’t recognize it and starts attacking it, it then affects our brain because it’s not sending the proper transmitters to our brain to give it the energy it needs so that you’re not tired and that you have the energy to do what you need to do.
Mathea Ford: [00:10:19] So, I heard Dr. Robert Martindale talk about the gut microbiome and basically how it can change over days and time, how it does help you to absorb nutrients, how it actually performed some of the digestive function. Obviously, producing… most dietitians know you get a lot of your Vitamin K from the gut microbiome. So, what you’re doing is kind of helping people to improve their gut microbiomes so therefore their whole body and immune system improves or how do you…. Am I confused?
Sharon Holand: [00:10:56] So, I start, yes, so I start with these simple ways that they can start taking care of themselves. Right? So, it’s chewing, it’s slowing down, it’s adding in you know some healthy foods, we talk about what it is they’re eating and then people generally will go opt for a gut test and that’s where I really can go in and see. It’s a stool test that sent directly from the lab to my client and that’s where they do a stool test, they sent it and I get the results I actually had somebody ask “Well, do you actually look at the poop?” I’m like “No! I don’t look at it but I get the result and it’ll show me simple things like do you have H. pylori, do you have pet parasites or you have candida but then it also shows me where there’s opportunistic bacteria dysbiosis. Actually, you know a good way to look at it is your boiling water for pasta. You put the pasta end and if it’s at the right temperature then it just will boil properly. But if it’s too high a foam is created right? And then it overflows. Right? Yeah. I know that’s ever happened to you but then all of a sudden. Right?. It’s everywhere! So, what I’m doing is I’m looking at those test results and seeing, correlating your symptoms and seeing what’s going on with the different bacteria. Seeing if there’s any auto immune triggers, any leaky gut. There are markers for that to show any inflammation because generally with what I see is that overflowing of that pasta pot we don’t necessarily know is happening except for those some of the symptoms that I mentioned. There are dozens of symptoms but those are the major ones. So, by looking at these results then I can really target the gut and start by supporting it with supplements that will help to calm the inflammation down so that you can start healing. But then also go in and get rid of these opportunistic bacteria or parasites or whatever the person’s individual results show. And once that happens that foam disappears the clearing. It’s like the fog is gone. And now you can see where you’re going because when you have that fog there it’s hard then to be able to really pay attention to really think clearly because you’re gut you know that the army is you know they’re on a field day. They’re just like “oh yeah! Let’s go you know let’s go hit this area. Let’s go back to you know my brain. Let’s go challenge this organ.” And by coming it all down and getting rid of that fog then the vagus nerve then the gut and the brain construct communicating better and so many times people don’t even realize that they have anxiety that will then practically disappear because they’ve healed their gut or I even had a client who for 20 years had the sniffles. She just didn’t even realize that that was a problem until it was gone. And then she she was like “oh my god! Wow. I didn’t think I’d ever have normal you know that I would never have to blow my nose again.”
Mathea Ford: [00:14:09] She thought she just had constant allergies. Huh?
Sharon Holand: [00:14:11] Yes! Exactly! So, did that answer your question of how I actually go in and then work with and I’m able to calm the guard down?
Mathea Ford: [00:14:21] Yeah! I Was actually going to ask you about what is the testing that you do so you kind of explain that.
Sharon Holand: [00:14:26] Because that’s where so much of everything happens and the thing is it just didn’t happen over night. You know you and I spoke about this before as well. Over time, the stress the products we put on our skin, the air we breathe, the products we clean with, the food, antibiotics that we may have taken when we were kids. There are so many factors that builds up in our body that over time, our immune system just gets tired. This throws up the white flag and it’s like there’s too much collateral damage here. I can’t keep fighting and that after years of all of this work of our body trying to adapt and adapt. That’s when the the white flag goes up and it’s like your body is like “I give up.” And that’s when we start feeling the symptoms. And that’s when we’re like “oh my God! I don’t understand but I’ve been taking care of myself. What happened?” Because it didn’t happen overnight. It took years sometimes for things to happen. My goal is always giving people hope of like “you know it’s great. Now we know now we can do something about it.” And the more armed we are with the knowledge you know just like I always say to people like “Imagine the possibilities because now you have so many choices. Because it’s not about living in a cave it’s about what can I do to improve my life on a regular basis even if it’s small steps whatever I can do to make me feel better. It’s such a yes to the first have.”
Mathea Ford: [00:15:56] Yes we don’t value our health nearly enough until we have problems with it. Absolutely. What are some ways we can work just as individuals to improve the balance between our diet and our health?
Sharon Holand: [00:16:10] You know don’t try to do everything at once. I think part of the reason why diets fail is that we want to be perfect at doing it. We try to follow something to a tee. And as you and I know there’s like what 60,000 types out there. We’re trying to do it all. We follow a system that works for one person and it works for a few weeks and then you know it stops working because we’re not we’re trying to do too much and we’re not listening to our bodies. That’s the first thing that I say to somebody is you know you do have to keep some sort of a journal. Listen to your body and start with one thing. So, somebody for instance who really eats healthy then all right, look at what products are you putting on your skin. Maybe there’s a way to use healthier products. You know go to your health food store or use something that doesn’t have as many ingredients or a company you trust. Another way is products that you’re cleaning with. You know it’s like sat with somebody who might say “yeah let me start with products and to eat healthy.” For somebody who doesn’t know they’re eating healthy. My big thing is look at your plate at each meal. Your plate should be colored with, filled with lots of colors. Alright, breakfast maybe not so because many people like “I’m not eating a salad for breakfast!” But look at your plate at lunch and dinner. Fill it up with as many colors of the rainbow. You know dark green leafy vegetables and peppers or tomatoes or zucchini or broccoli, cauliflower whatever it is. And of course I say that generally because people can have sensitivities to vegetables but I’m just talking in general and then half your plate should be that way. Then we’ll get the other half and your plate and divide it into a good healthy protein which a good serving is shifted about the palm of your hand or look like that you know like a deck of cards. You don’t need a lot of protein and then a really good healthy fat. And that could be a half an avocado, it could be nuts and seeds, could be olive oil, could be coconut oil, it could be grass fed butter. You know it’s whatever healthy fat that you like and that could be in a dressing that you’re drizzling over your salad and then a slow burning carb which could be a root vegetable. This whole idea of grains and breads is it best to minimize that as much as possible?
Sharon Holand: [00:18:36] Absolutely! Because we have so many sensitivities to it. But I say to people if you love your bread and you don’t want to change that. Start by adding in the vegetable, start by looking at the rest of your plate. Start at one place and focus on that per week and then once you have that under your belt add something else and it’s just about the baby steps. And again this is a generalization because obviously if somebody has something specific or if they’re celiac or whatever it is then you really have to be a little more extreme. But I’m just talking in general. Right? You wanna just start somewhere.
Mathea Ford: [00:19:16] You mentioned autoimmune a couple times. Are there ways that we can mitigate or change autoimmune reactions and how do we recognize what those are?
Sharon Holand: [00:19:27] Auto immune disease. It’s actually interesting how the food supply chain has changed right in the last 50 years and how prevalent autoimmune disease is becoming. There are over 80 autoimmune diseases and there are about 50 million people or about that you know that have immune disease. So, with and they’re diagnosed because some of the same symptoms that I’m talking about can be some of those triggers that start that auto immune process. And it’s really the you know the achy joints in pain the joints that you’re feeling and the foggy brain. So, being aware that those could possibly and I say possibly because everybody’s different I don’t want people to listen to this thinking “oh my God it happen we’re having autoimmune disease!” You know because the last thing you know. But again it’s that awareness of “oh wow! So, I’m feeling this let me pay attention what am I doing?” And it’s looking at like I said you know the food products were using the air. Well we can’t control the air you’re breathing but what kind of water are my drinking? Can I use a filtered water? And the top…. And you know I know this also right that the top things are the lactose and the wheat because of the way the wheat is being processed there are now so many markers for different responses that people can react to because of the whole manufacturing process and the glycyphagus that’s used in some of these you know being sprayed in the field these pesticides. So, really again going to the root of eating whole foods and asking yourself if I can’t read what these ingredients are what is it doing to my body? And if I really love having breads and by the way when somebody has a craving for bread that’s usually what they’re sensitive to and that’s kind of a catch 22 because it’s like a “ohh! Really?” You know because your body’s craving it so you’ve got right these little guys in your gut are saying “ha ha ha. We’re going to trick you. We’re going to tell you that you really want it but it’s going to feed us. We’re feeding off of it.” So I say to people “well, then try to upgrade if you’re eating regular whole grain bread. Switch to a sprouted grain, switch to an Ezekiel, switch to something that’s a higher level and see how you feel and then slowly swap it out. So, if you’re eating pasta maybe do a chickpea pasta or a black bean pasta you know and again some people may have sensitivities to legumes. But it’s starting it’s starting where you’re at and picking a place and swapping out. And dairy nobody really needs dairy.
Sharon Holand: [00:22:25] You know we think that we need calcium. We’ve been conditioned by these ads. And that’s another thing we’re eating advertisement. We’ve been conditioned by these ads to think “I have to get my calcium. I’ve got to get from dairy” but dairy is acidic and the more we are eating the dairy it’s acidic our bodies and our bodies trying to neutralize it. And what’s it doing it’s actually leaching calcium from our bones. They were being diagnosed with osteoporosis. We can’t understand why. So, you get more calcium from broccoli and dark leafy vegetables. Increase your vegetable intake and if you don’t like the taste of it throw it into a smoothie. Make yourself a protein shake and put your vegetables in there. So, those are some of the ways.
Mathea Ford: [00:23:13] If people don’t you know they want to test this or think about how to change a few things just to see if it helps, what sort of ways would you say that the listeners could use this in their day to day life that they could change?
Sharon Holand: [00:23:28] Writing down everything that they… It takes time to just sit and breathe and be with yourself and writing down what you feel in your body. So I have clients who think that it’s normal to just have a bowel movement once a week because that’s all they know. And I’ve had clients who have diarrhea every day and they think it’s normal because that’s all they know. It’s writing down all these little mundane things for yourself and then asking yourself “Is this normal?” And If it’s like “why do I believe this?” It’s time to question your body and its reaction “I’m burping all the time” you know some societies and some countries think that that’s a sign of a good meal but is that really normal. And once you’re asking yourself that then you can say “Okay, now let me see what am I eating and my reacting this way an hour after I eat.” So it’s paying attention. An hour after you eat to “am I belching? And farting? Do I gas? Do I have diarrhea? Constipation? Am I sneezing and sniffles? Do I have a scratchy throat? Do I have dry skin? Do I feel itchy?” And just writing it down and notice a pattern. So, writing it down. Look at it an hour later, look at it two hours later. If it’s the evening when you wake up in the morning see how you feel. You and I talked about before we found this call how I ate ice cream and I knew I was going to wake up feeling groggy because I’m aware now but when I wasn’t aware I didn’t understand why I was so tired in the morning until I put the pieces together of “wow! You know what? When I eat ice cream at night I wake up tired when I don’t, I’m fine.” So, once you do that then you can start saying “Okay! I’m not sure what food it is I ate, how to isolate it? And you pick one food at a time to remove, to isolate and you play around with it every few days like you would with a new baby when you introduce baby food to them. You want to see how they respond to a food so you isolate it and then if somebody feels like this is just too much work. “I don’t think I can do this myself.” Then I say “Okay, then let’s do the testing. Let’s talk. Let’s work together. And once you learn after working with me and seeing your results then you’ll have the tools to do it yourself and you’ll feel so much more empowered to know what it is and how you can then not only help yourself that help family.
Mathea Ford: [00:26:09] Okay, so a little bit different topic. I try to ask this to all my guest. So, what is your favorite food?
Sharon Holand: [00:26:20] Oh my God!
Mathea Ford: [00:26:23] Everybody says that it is the hardest question.
Sharon Holand: [00:26:24] It is because I have a couple of favorite foods that we have… I have to cook a couple of times. Honestly, I really love a great slice of thin crust pizza with some goat cheese, pine nuts and spinach. That’s like my favorite. And that’s thing is that I will indulge once in a while because my body can heal itself in those moments if I’m taking care of myself. My other favorite food is ice cream. I have some sugar but not the fake kind like the real ice cream. I’m going to have it, I’m going to have it. And again I’m just very mindful of not having too much of that because I know it creates inflammation of my body. But those are definitely my top two. And you would think that it would be something healthy. But it’s not.
Mathea Ford: [00:27:18] I go by the philosophy that all foods can fit. So, like you said you know a little bit here a little bit there.
Sharon Holand: [00:27:24] Exactly! And that’s also why when I work with my clients they see that I’m real. You know it’s like I make mistakes they all make mistakes. It’s life. It’s not even a mistake it’s just part of a process. And we have to be who we are and we have to know that it’s a lifestyle. It’s a journey. It’s never ending right?
Mathea Ford: [00:27:46] Sometimes doing those little things like eating a little ice cream and recognizing again “oh yeah! That makes me feel a certain way just reinforces that. Okay. Yes. I need to remember to continue to treat myself right by eating the right foods. Though it only serves as a good reminder. But yeah.
Sharon Holand: [00:28:07] Exactly! I do have to say Guac is definitely up there also and I eat an avocado every single day. So, something healthy for the listeners.
Mathea Ford: [00:28:19] I love guacamole too. The only I think I’m the only one in my family that does those so whenever we go out to a Mexican restaurant and guacamole comes with the fajitas or whatever their eyes like “here, you can have them!” Like “Yey!” Because we don’t have a lot of avocados in Oklahoma.
Sharon Holand: [00:28:37] That’s a funny. Yeah! More for you right? The more the merrier.
Mathea Ford: [00:28:40] Well Sharon, thank you so much for being on the podcast today. It was a pleasure to have you on the show. I know my listeners learned a lot about how food affects our health. And so listeners want to connect with you what’s the best way to do that?
Sharon Holand: [00:28:54] Definitely go to my website sharonholand.com. Sign up for my newsletter and you’ll get a free guide. Break Free from Cravings, Diets and Deprivation. And I have a Saturday YouTube video that I’ve put up every Saturday morning – Saturday Mornings with Sharon where I give quick tips the best way. And then from there I offer complimentary consultations which you can find everything on my website.
Mathea Ford: [00:29:20] That sounds great! Okay. Well guys, this has been another great episode of the Nutrition Experts Podcast. The podcast is all about learning more you can do more with nutrition in your life.