This week we discuss ways to support the immune system with functional medicine when striving for excellence. Maggie Berghoff shares the ways her and her team support high performing clients such as elite athletes and CEOs so they can continue to crush their goals.
Episode 52: Supporting Your Body While Accomplishing More
The content of this podcast has not been evaluated by Health Canada or the FDA. It is educational in nature and should not be taken as medical advice. Always consult a qualified medical professional to see if a diet, lifestyle change, or supplement is right for you. Any supplements mentioned are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please note that the opinions of the guests or hosts are their own and may not reflect those of Advanced Orthomolecular Research, Inc.
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Welcome to Supplementing Health, a podcast presented by Advanced Orthomolecular Research. We are all about applying evidence based and effective dietary, lifestyle and natural health product strategies for your optimal health. In each episode, we will feature very engaging clinicians and experts from the world of functional and naturopathic medicine to help achieve our mission to empower people to lead their best lives naturally.
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[01:38] Cassy Price: Hello and welcome back to Supplementing Health. Today I have the honour of introducing Maggie Berghoff, nurse practitioner, entrepreneur and celebrity health strategist. After training as a nurse practitioner, Maggie went on to study and specialise in functional and integrative medicine at The Institute for Functional Medicine. She is the CEO and founder of functional medicine and health company Celproceo, trusted by A list celebrities, professional athletes and CEO executives of disruptive brands. Using cutting edge laboratory testing and personalised guidance, Maggie and her team help their clients to activate their fullest physical and mental health so that they can look, feel and perform at their best. Hi Maggie, it’s a pleasure to have you join me today.
[02:15] Maggie Berghoff: Hi, it’s so great to be here. Thanks for having me.
[02:18] Cassy Price: Do you mind sharing a little bit about how you got started working with athletes and in this field?
[02:23] Maggie Berghoff: Yes. So, I got started in functional medicine through my own health declines and my own health declines were a direct relationship from the stresses I put on my body, not just mentally but physically, just being type-A, go getter always doing things, always off to something new. I loved doing that and I still am that type of personality, loving to achieve and become the best version of myself. When I had a huge health crash and my doctors told me basically there is nothing we can do for you, we don’t know why this is happening, you’re going to be on medications forever, you are going to have to be on IV therapy, the list goes on. I did not accept that as an answer, so I sought out functional medicine very selfishly at first just to heal my own body. Then, once I did heal my body to where my lab values that my doctor said I would have my whole life and that I would have these diseases and autoimmunity my entire life and there is nothing they can do, all of a sudden it was gone.
[03:25] My labs were pristine. I came off all of my medications that they told me I would be on lifelong. I was just like “Oh my gosh. I cannot believe that if I wasn’t me and I didn’t go back to schooling and figure this out for myself, that I would have just had to accept this.” So, that is when I started working with people and helping them to balance their body and balance the high performing high stress, the always on the go type lifestyle with some healthy measures, not in a restrictive ‘give away all things’ type of way, but just in a very strategic way to where we can balance the body, strengthen it and make it perform at a higher level to get stronger so that we can combine the two. So, instead of having these massive health crashes, or end up with heart disease or depression or anxiety or whatever it is, we are able to continue performing at the top of our game whether that be as an athlete or in your company or as a stay-at-home mom raising your children. Whatever your game is you can stay performing at your highest and feeling at your best while using some speciality functional medicine, laboratory testing and techniques to mesh the two.
[04:36] Cassy Price: So, from the physiological aspect, what does aggressive training or high performance on a continual basis do to the body that you look at addressing?
[04:47] Maggie Berghoff: Yeah, so first of all it depletes energy, so for pro athletes or for anybody exercising for example, that is stress on the body. For elite athletes that is accelerated to the max, right? We are always pushing further. If you are in a company, you are always pushing further or trying more. If you are on the road on tour, there is always more to do. It takes energy from the body. It is a stressor on the body. It causes inflammation. We are causing that inflammation on purpose. So, what my job is, is to come in and from a biochemical standpoint to fix those amounts to reduce the inflammation wherever we can knowing that we on purpose are bringing it in. We are on purpose pushing our bodies pretty hard. So, where can we reduce inflammation in our life that we can control and strengthen the body and increase energy reserves so that we have more energy to go do our thing?
[05:42] So, from the internal part we are rewiring, making us strong, boosting nutrients, decreasing inflammation, and helping your body out as much as we can so that it can handle the excessive fitness or travelling across time zones, or four different states in one week. Doing different conferences or whatever it is for you, so that your body is able to handle that. Even something so simple as going out to dinner and eating a ton of stuff that your body usually doesn’t eat and isn’t used to it, you should be able to do that and not wake up the next morning feeling like absolute crap and like gained five pounds overnight. Your body should be able to compensate for those times or experiences and those types of times.
[06:24] Cassy Price: So, now we hear a lot about the negative effects of inflammation and stress on our body, just in general, not even when you are performing at that kind of a level. One of the main systems that we know it effects is your immune system. What kind of actions do you take to bolster the immune system when you are dealing with these high performing clients?
[06:46] Maggie Berghoff: Yeah, so in general you can take immune boosting supplementations. I actually don’t do that in my practice. We do everything based on laboratory work so what I would do for a client, I would find out exactly what your nutrient levels are and what your metabolic pathways are doing, even like your gut function, right? So, do you have a gut imbalance that could be dampening your immune system? So, I figure out exactly what is going on in your body and from a very scientific standpoint look at what we can fix. What can be address and improve? If your inefficient in a certain nutrient, then that is the nutrient that we supplement with.
[07:24] Everybody says, “Take vitamin C to boost your immunity.” Well, if your vitamin c is perfect, that is not going to be the thing that is going to be helpful for you. Maybe your magnesium is in the tank or your vitamin D is in the tank. Those are things that we are going to focus on. That is one of the things that we can do. Like you said, inflammation is related to immunity so you can decrease inflammation to increase immunity. So, even if you don’t take a vitamin to increase your immune system or a green juice, if you do things to decrease inflammation like infrared sauna or red-light therapy, go for a walk outside, go to sleep at the same time every single night and wake up at the same time every morning or focus on anti-inflammatory foods. Those are types of things we can do in do reduce inflammation which in turn will increase our bodies immune system.
[08:15] Cassy Price: Okay. That totally makes sense. So, when you are dealing with elite athletes, does the type of athlete that they are effect how you will see the body being affected? Do endurance athletes have different concerns than strength and power athletes?
[08:30] Maggie Berghoff: Yeah, absolutely. Everybody has different concerns. No matter what type of athletic performance they are doing, each person is different. Even two NFL players are going to have completely different protocols and needs even if they are the same position. We want to make sure that we are address everybody from a unique standpoint. There are differences for sure. You said that example of an endurance athlete. They are going to have different stresses put on them. They are also going to have different demands. It is not smart or easy for the body to do this type of performance, right? We have to make sure that we are helping our body out in the areas that we can control so that we can perform at that level and stay healthy. Performing at that level for a short sprint for two years at the top of your game that is not what we are looking for. We are looking for long term performance year after year after year after year so that you can stay well for good.
[09:34] Cassy Price: You mentioned inflammation a lot. Most people when you hear inflammation you think of a cut on your leg or maybe join inflammation from conditions like arthritis but obviously there are other forms of inflammation in the body. How do you identify that there is inflammation and know where to start when you are trying to address that?
[09:55] Maggie Berghoff: Yeah, so, inflammation is a good thing. I talk about it in a negative sense but just alone it is good. It is our bodies defence mechanism to keep us safe and alive. When we get that scratch or bee sting our body rushes to fix it. Inflammation is a good thing. It has become a bad thing for you, me and most people in the world because we have inflammation going on chronically, whether that be from a hard work out and you have inflammation because you just ripped a bunch of muscles and now your body is rushing to repair those muscles, that is stress and inflammation. That is the good kind but also it can be negative, it could hurt our body if we have the capacity to repair. We could have inflammation from sitting in traffic and getting really worked up and really upset about it. That causes that fight or flight sympathetic nervous system inflammatory response. The fact that we have low grade inflammation and those were both examples of fitness and mentality but even from things like what you put onto your body or what you eat or drink, right?
[11:02] Some foods or that lotion has a bunch of chemicals in it, that causes inflammation in our body because our body does not identify that as its own. It identifies that chemical as what it is. It’s a foreign substance, a chemical, a toxin. It is going to inflame to protect yourself from that. To detoxify from that. Again, our body is supposed to be able to do that. When we have those things, the lotion, the makeup, the food, the drink, the workout all of the things that pile up onto each other that is when you start to see symptoms of inflammation where you may feel swollen or chronic pain, headaches, anxiety, depression, skin is breaking out, hair is thinning and falling out, you’re really bloated all the time no matter what you eat, your bowels are irregular and alternating from diarrhoea or constipation or having aches and pains. That is when we start to feel these symptoms where enough is enough and your body can’t compensate any further. That just takes that one final hit to pour that glass over the edge to start having those symptoms where you can’t just deal with it anymore. It is impacting your day-to-day life.
[12:17] Cassy Price: So, we talked about how each individual has their own capacity, right, that there are many different factors that play into that such as diet and environment and all of those things. Can the same individuals have different capacities depending on the day and the season of life?
[12:33] Maggie Berghoff: Yeah, for sure. Well first of all our life changes as we go. For athletes in season, you are going to have a lot of different stressors on you. Maybe when you are off season you will have different stressors on you. Maybe that’s when you party a bunch, no shame, I am not judging that but what I am saying is that you have different things going on in your life. It could even be a trauma that happened in your life. Maybe somebody close to you passed away. Maybe you got in a car accident. That trauma could influence your body’s ability to repair itself. It definitely changes. That is why health is a long-term game. This is not just “Here take this supplement, this is going to reduce your inflammation.” That is not it at all. It is a long-term game.
[13:20] Yes, targeting supplements are useful at times, IV therapy, or whatever it is that you are utilising to boost your bodies mechanisms but also keeping track of your functional medicine lab work. Every single year our clients get lab work done, usually January to start the year, we do a total body blueprint where we are getting lab work done to see what is going on in your body right now. What is going on in your body right now could be totally different to what was going on six months or a year ago. In order to prevent big things like cancer, heart disease, the auto immune disease, in order to prevent that and stay on top of your game, you are putting yourself thorough all these stressors you need to be tracking that inflammation. You need to track the stats. You need to know what is going on in your body so we can fine tune and help your body to remain well.
[14:11] Cassy Price: What are some of those biological markers or test that you do as part of your body bootcamp?
[14:17] Maggie Berghoff: So, we look at head to toe inside out every organ what is going on in the body. We do testing looking into things like gut parasites or bacteria. I mean heck maybe you were in Europe and you ate something and you’ve got a gut bug now. We can catch that before it starts to really impact your life. So, gut bacteria and parasites, digestive enzyme levels, omega 3,6 and 9 is very important so these are inflammatory levels in your body, so we need to make sure that balance is optimised. It can also impact cardiac health so that is something that we are always looking for especially with our clientele. We put ourselves under a lot of stress on purpose, my clients and you and everybody. So, we are looking at those things. We are also looking at nutrient levels. That is something that is so easy to optimise. We test your body, and we are testing your blood, this is actually what is going on in your body right now and we see a bunch of deficiencies we try to fix those.
[15:14] Maggie Berghoff: Your cells need those nutrients to function. If you have a gut bacteria or parasite, if you have nutrient imbalance, if you have inflammation in your body it is going to influence every single one of your systems and lead to a bunch of symptoms. A good example is something like your gut health. When we look into gut health it is not just “we don’t want to be bloated anymore.” It is also “we want to feel better” because a lot of our happy hormones, serotonin, and all of the good hormones and transmitters in our brain are actually developed in our gut. So, over 80% of those neurotransmitters are made in the gut. That is why we are not just checking the gut to help your bowel movements or bloating issue. It is a holistic approach. We are trying to boost your mood, we are trying to get your energy levels up, we are trying to help you sleep better. Those are some of the things that we look into.
[16:09] Cassy Price: Does the sex of the individual play into where you tend to focus on or how you roll out your protocol?
[16:18] Maggie Berghoff: Yes and no. So, in the fine-tuning stages of things, yes. So, if we are fine tuning hormone levels, for example, male or female the protocols are definitely going to need to be different. In the initial stages, for example, you are just starting out and listening to things and you’re like “man, I want some labs.” The male or female doesn’t matter as much to be honest. We just want to see the general overview of what is going on in the body, your lifestyle, the toxicities in your home, how you are living, eating, drinking, sleeping, thinking, moving all of those things. The upstream labs like your nutrient levels, your detox pathways and gut health. When if comes to the gender of the individual, more so impacts hormonal levels which is more downstream in the body. That would be addressed more so if things aren’t improving, or we want to dig into that further. That is where that further customisation would be going.
[17:15] Cassy Price: Also, mindset has been a big topic of discussion recently. I was curious if you find with your high performing clients if you need to do mindset work with them or because they already have that drive and a performing mindset it is not as big of a factor as how they approach their health?
[17:33] Maggie Berghoff: Well, we really do focus on mindset from I guess two main areas. One is that, of course myself and my practitioners are motivating them and helping them reduce their stress and what not but if they need that further help, we actually have in house a psychologist who helps. So, sports psychology and we also have even a mindset brain person who is trained in hypnotherapy. She helps people who really need to blast those blocks that they are having, whether its that they can’t pitch to first base because something keeps happening like they have this block and they can’t get past it, that type of thing. We also have Ving; she works with people who have PTSD or maybe they have cancer or had cancer and they’re fearful of that or they had abilities in a company, and they lost it all once and that is a big fear for them that keeps them from moving forward again. So, we have those extra things. Just from a less intense perspective, what we do with our practitioners in functional medicine, a lot of what we do is help to simplify their life.
[18:42] So, a lot of people when they think about doing a health protocol or having a functional medicine practitioner they are like “Oh no. I don’t have time for that. That seems hard. They are going to make me give up my alcohol or my food.” That is not the case at all with our practice. We help you live in a very modern world and socialise and all of the things that you want to do but optimise the things that we want to control in order to help your body perform better. So, one thing that we are doing is help to simplify your life and been as we work with a lot of professional men and women that actually comes down to readjusting their daily schedule, making sure they have time for themselves, setting them up for success in the morning whether that be scheduling an infrared sauna session just like they would schedule a very important meeting. Even though we are functional medicine practitioners we are actually managing their career routine and their lifestyle day to day to make sure that they wake up and they are excited and happy and they have time for themselves and they are really feeling good. They don’t just look good. They don’t just like everybody else to think they are killing it, but they actually truly feel really good inside and they have a good simplistic routine that can keep them going long term.
[19:57] Cassy Price: That’s fantastic. Diet culture is still fairly big in our society. I think we are starting to move away from it, and I think more people are starting to look at mindful eating and different aspects of a healthier approach to nutrition and diet. Do you find some of your higher performing clients have fallen victim to this diet culture where there are good foods and bad foods and if you touch on the bad food you’re a bad person basically?
[20:27] Maggie Berghoff: Yeah. 100%. I would say probably in that aspect the female clients that I have, especially athletics and CEOS, well everybody, yeah. I would say 100%. That is why we take a very different approach in what we do. We don’t take any calorie counting or macros unless needed and desired. If we trying to hit a very specific goal or fuel our bodies in a way that is going to give us more energy in a very non-restrictive fun way, we can start to tweak the macros of their meal plan in order to give them more energy based on lab tests. We do a little bit of that, but we are also really cautious that if anybody has a history of eating disorders or they are very strict and restrictive on themselves then that is not something that we even talk about. The reason is because when you are worried about the food you are eating or when you are shameful or guilty because of the food your are eating, that in itself causes way more harm in the body, I promise you, than eating the thing.
[21:31] Maggie Berghoff: I would rather have a client eat the brownies that they want and enjoy it and really appreciate it and be like “This is the best brownie I have ever had; brownies are my jam.” I would rather have them eat the brownie, even if it had gluten in it and all things, than to eat the brownie and be shameful and fearful and not like themselves for it and go to the gym for two hours afterward or not eat the brownie and have all those same feelings, wishing they had the brownie and feeling sad and restricted. It’s a whole spiral. As you can tell I am really passionate about it. I hate that. We come from things as what can we add in our life. What can you add in your diet? We are not taking away. Yes, there are some things that cause inflammation, and we educate our clients on that. Its obvious, drinking soda is probably not going to be your best bet for reducing inflammation but there are some easy swaps we can make to not get the inflammation but still get the soda or whatever.
[22:38] Maggie Berghoff: At the end of the day it is about what can you add rather than take away? What can you add that will give you energy? What can you add that will make you feel amazing? No one wants to go through life feeling like crap and restricting often times gets you into feeling crap about yourself or about the food, or fearing food, or not going to events because you don’t want to eat. That is not okay. That is not living life. So, we are always thinking what we can add to make ourselves feel more energetic and vibrant and heal and our body. Then the foods we don’t really want to include on a day-to-day basis as the base typically we phase out a little bit. You are going to naturally choose something that is going to be really nourishing for your body over the thing that you used to choose that made you feel like crap. You will start to notice that. It is not a restricted type of thing.
[23:27] Cassy Price: When you are talking here about things to add it made me think about how often type A personality, whether they be elite athletes, high performers in a corporate world or any other profession, they often tend to take on more than they can chew in a sense. At what point does it become too much to keep adding and you need to start looking at what to take away? Less in a diet sense but in an overall life sense.
[23:59] Maggie Berghoff: Yeah, that’s such a good example. A lot of my clients they don’t want to slow down. They are putting more onto their plate and stacking achievements and they are very fast paced. We know that with our clientele, and we support them in that lifestyle. We are not necessarily telling them that you can’t do that, you shouldn’t do that, we are helping them to simplify what they can control. Maybe that is delegating. Even something as simple as hiring a chef to make your healthy meals. You don’t have time for this, this is not something you should be stressed about what you are going to eat this week so hire a chef to do it. We will tell your chef exactly how to cook for you to make you feel your best. So, delegation and coming back to helping them manage their schedules which you wouldn’t think of from a functional medicine practitioner but that is a big part of what we do.
[24:46] Maggie Berghoff: Where can we take a break and help them to realise and disrupt those patterns that maybe there’s a fear that if they stop that you know their business will stop or somebody else is going to catch up to them and letting them know that that fear is not true and that in fact the people at the top who are doing this really well are prioritising their health. They are taking a break. They are taking vacations because that rest is productive. That rest is going to keep you going longer and longer and feel really good while you go through this. We are never saying that you can’t so this or anything like that, but we are helping them to balance it out. “Okay, you want to take on this new project, we have your back. We are in for it. It is going to be so exciting. Who can we put in place to support you to make sure that you are not going to sacrifice your health and happiness for this next goal?” We are helping them to figure that out.
[25:37] Cassy Price: Well, we know rest, especially in the athletic world, rest is just an important as the training, right, because it allows that body to repair. Do you help them find ways they can recharge then that aren’t necessarily viewed as resting but maybe are multitasking, so let’s say walking their dog while they are also on a call? Just thinking of an example.
[26:01] Maggie Berghoff: Yeah. Oh my gosh. This is one of my favourite things to talk about. The rest recovery pamper type of stuff. My guys don’t like the word pamper but this is my jam. I like to zap a bunch of health stuff in at one time. So, this could look like in the morning time going outside barefoot on your grass with a glass of lemon water or something like that or green juice or whatever your morning thing is. So, when you are barefoot on the ground that is helping to reduce inflammation. It is really grounding and earthing, and it helps all these different inflammatory pathways. You’re drinking that water, so you are getting hydrated immediately in the morning which helps to activate the digestive system and add a squeeze of lemon or green juice to help detoxify. You are seeing the sun which sets your circadian rhythm which helps to activate your mitochondrial cells in the body which are the ATP energy storing cells, so you are increasing that. You are telling your body it is time to wake up. You are getting fresh air and looking at nature which is proven to reduce cortisol and fat storing hormones and stress hormones.
[27:00] So, it’s all these things at one time and really all you are doing is going outside in the morning. That is so powerful. Even things like I love finding relaxation hacks that are, I talk about a lot of free stuff so if you are like “I can’t afford that” there is a lot of free stuff you can do but if you are looking to invest in something for your health some of my favourite most popular ways to do that for relaxation and parasympathetic activation is red-light therapy and infrared sauna. If you want to do that all at once you can buy a red-light therapy device and put it into your inferred sauna, so you are literally getting all of that at one time. It is so powerful. Another one of my most favourite powerful tools which is an investment for sure but floating. If you have ever heard of floatation pods or sensory deprivation tanks this is where there is a huge pod, and you can go to a spa to do this or you can purchase your own as well. I have some clients who have their own, but you don’t have to, it is a big investment. You can go to a spa and it is a huge tank, and it is filled with a bunch of water and eleven hundred pounds of Epsom salt.
[28:08] If you don’t know what Epsom salts do for the body, it helps to detoxify and regenerate and recoups. It is great for muscles health so after your hard work out or after the game or a long stressful week or whatever it is, it detoxifies at the same time it increases your magnesium levels. Magnesium is so important, so it is doing all this stuff at once. You float because the salt is so concentrated that you actually float in the water. That is why it is called sensory deprivation because the water is your exact temperature, and you are floating, and you can totally zen out and relax. Most people find it very meditative. They kind of meditate out and relax and think and let loose. Those are some of my favourite strategies to rest and recoup.
[28:58] Cassy Price: I completely agree with you on the float tanks. I have done them myself and it is amazing how much difference you notice after an hour of floating and how quickly the hour goes by but still you feel so relaxed and recharged afterwards. I 100% agree with you on that one.
[29:15] Maggie Berghoff: Yes. Oh yeah. They are awesome. Especially if you are, before I discovered floatation pods, I was big on Epsom salt baths. Then I was like “what, I can get…” I am always looking for more because I am my own client as well. You can lay in this floatation pod for an hour and get the same benefits as so many Epsom salt baths. It is so cool. It has such a huge effect. It helps you both from a psychological and a relaxation standpoint but also, I love the nutrient levels and stuff so it helps to boost those and get yourself healthy as well.
[29:58] Cassy Price: Some places have couple floats as well which gives you the opportunity for intimacy with your partner while you are getting those health benefits which is cool too because often these high performing professionals, it is one of the challenges is finding time with your family or your spouse or significant other and making sure it is quality time and not quick spurts in between. Is that something else you help them with is finding those times and ways to be intimate so that they are getting that human connection that helps to reduce stress and those sorts of things?
[30:33] Maggie Berghoff: Yeah. A little bit. It is so funny. We do. We help people with their lives. We are readjusting their work schedule. We are helping them hire people where they need help or we are training their support system, so we are telling their executive assistant, their chef, their people how to best support them. Then at home with the family, even reminding them like “What are you doing this for? You tell me that family is my priority, or your spouse is your priority, but it doesn’t show that in your lifestyle is that something that you want to fix?” We are helping them to create that amazing balance and also blast limiting beliefs that they have to be go, go, go or they are going to lose and someone else is going to win. That is not true at all. Like I said the truth is that incorporating fun, incorporating intimacy, incorporating relationships, incorporating adventure and rest into your days and schedule is going to be so productive and that is what the top players are doing. That is what they are doing so definitely. Family life and spouses and friends and all of that stuff is so important in your life and your healing.
[31:44] Cassy Price: Fantastic. This has been a great conversation. I really appreciate you taking the time to chat with me. If our listeners want to work with you or learn from you how can they go about getting in touch with you and your team?
[31:55] Maggie Berghoff: Well, easier to remember is just my name. You could go Maggieberghoff.com is my personal website. There is a link on there for health that is going to take you everywhere you need to go if you want to get health setup.
[32:08] Cassy Price: Fantastic. Well thank you so much Maggie. I really appreciate you taking the time to chat with us.
[32:12] Maggie Berghoff: You’re so welcome. Thanks for having me this was an awesome chat.
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Thank you for listening to Supplementing Health. For more information about our guests, past shows, and future topics, please visit AOR.ca/podcasts or AOR.us/podcasts. Do you have a topic you want us to cover? We invite you to engage with us on social media to request a future topic or email us at [email protected]. We hope you tune in again next week to learn more about supplementing your health.
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