Maggie Berghoff on Practical Tips for Reducing Inflammation

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Katie: Hello, and welcome to the “Wellness Mama Podcast.” I’m Katie from and– that’s wellnesse with an “E” on the end. And this episode is all about practical tips for reducing inflammation and delving into the functional medicine world. I’m here with Maggie Berghoff, who is an entrepreneur, author, speaker, and mom of three. And she owns a cutting-edge health and wellness consulting company that’s rooted in functional medicine, and she’s worked with professional athletes, executives, and celebrities. She’s also been featured all over the world for her work. But today, we go into her own story of how she got into this world from the traditional medicine world, and specifically, steps on combating inflammation and chronic health issues and how to raise kids with a low inflammation burden from a young age. She talks about your total toxic burden and what that means and how to live according to your inflammation type to get the fastest results possible. So very fact-pack episode. Let’s join Maggie. Maggie, welcome. Thanks for being here.

Maggie: Thanks so much for having me.

Katie: I’m excited to chat because I have met you in real life, but I’m excited to get to dive in and have an actual conversation and record it. And I wanna talk a lot about the functional medicine world and some specifics within that. But as we jump into that, I think maybe a two-part question would be, I’d love to hear how you got into functional medicine and the story of how before that you jumped into freezing Lake Erie for a Twinkie.

Maggie: Yeah. Oh, my gosh. Yeah. So, gosh, the freezing Lake Erie for a Twinkie. So let’s start with the functional medicine side of things. I got into functional medicine in my young 20s. I actually had a massive health crash. I was bloated all the time. I was tired all the time, and with those kind of symptoms, I kind of just dealt with it. But suddenly there was this one moment where I started swelling and that’s actually what kind of got me to pay attention. My legs were swelling up. My body was swelling up. I started getting tons of weight in a very short amount of time without…I didn’t do anything different. I just was gaining weight and bloating up, you know? So that’s what kind of dove me into functional medicine because with these symptoms, I went to traditional medical doctors to try to figure out what was going on, and I myself was a traditional nurse practitioner at the time from Vanderbilt. My mom’s a pharmacist, so like very traditional based.

But I was going to these doctors, Katie, and they were just not answering me. They were telling me my labs looked normal at first even though I’m standing there and I’m like, “I’ve gained 30 pounds in two months and I feel like crap. Nothing’s normal. Like something is going on.” And they were just kind of dismissing me. And then what happened is that then eventually they would send me to these different specialists. So the, you know, my general practitioner would send me to the endocrinologist, and then the endocrinologist would say it was cardiology, and then he would send me to the immunologist. And I was just seeing all these specialists and no one was helping. And it was actually one of my aunts who at the time was seeing a functional practitioner who told me about functional medicine.

I had never heard of it. I didn’t know it existed. So I literally in my young 20s went down to my computer and she was like, “Just Google it.” And I Googled functional medicine and that’s really what started it at all. I enrolled into the Institute for Functional Medicine selfishly just to heal my own body. And then once I healed my body, I reversed everything going on in my health complication, in my story. Then, I knew that this was the model I wanted to be aligned with going forward. I wanted to help people in this more functional, natural model versus the traditional model I had grown up in.

Katie: Yeah. I feel like a lot of people have some similarities to that story. I know I did with what ended up for me being thyroid issues until I resolved them and being told by doctors everything is normal and how frustrating that is when you’re like everything is absolutely not normal, but the model doesn’t account for some of these more underlying conditions that functional medicine is trained to look at. I’d love to hear a little bit more about what ended up actually kind of being the unresolved issue for you and what steps helped.

Maggie: Yes. So actually thyroid was a big complication for me and even beforehand, which is really important to note, like, my mom knew something was kind of going on even when I was in high school because I didn’t have periods. So I did not have my cycles until I was about 17 years old and at that time, they were medically induced. I was put on the pill. So obviously, something was not going right in my body. And we had checked my thyroid levels back in high school, but since they were “normal” or suboptimal, they did not do anything about it. So even though I was having these symptoms, I was cold all the time. I was hungry all the time. I was eating so much, but not like gaining weight. I was just never full. I had evident symptoms that were ignored and kind of dismissed way back even in high school, way before this happened.

So eventually when this did happen, the things that I was diagnosed with were mainly hypothyroidism and PCOS. Those were the two core things. And, of course, as many of you may know, when your body is going, you know, not right and things are going on, you have all these symptoms, other systems start to be impacted. So the hypothyroidism, the PCOS were the core complications from back in the day, but then I ended up having gut problems. I had H. pylori, E. coli, which are bacterial overgrowths in my gut lining. I ended up having a kidney almost pretty much failure. My kidney was shutting down. My immune system completely shut down. I had zero immune antibodies and immune system. So actually, my doctors told me that I would be on IV therapy the rest of my life just to support my immune system. So all of these other things started, but at the core, it was really hormonal-related, both thyroid hormones as well as sex hormones.

Katie: Which makes sense because if hormones are out of whack, like you said, that affects every area of the body. And I’ve said that before too. You can’t out-diet or out-supplement. If your hormones are out of whack and you’re gonna be fighting a losing battle because your hormones will win until you look at the hormones and support them. I know also from reading a lot of your work, you talk a lot about inflammation. So I would love to hear how inflammation fits into this puzzle and why that’s such a key piece.

Maggie: Yeah. You know, early on when I started my functional medicine practice and I would talk about my story, people would always ask, like, “What was the one thing you did?” And it’s difficult to answer that question because there’s really not one thing. You know, at the core of these health complications, it really is inflammation at the root and it could be inflammation from the lotion you’re putting on your body. It could be inflammation from the stress that you’re putting on your body, maybe mental stress. For me, that was a lot of indecisiveness that actually caused, like, serious mental stress in my life as well as physiological stress. So toxins in your food, in your body. So it could be that. It could be inflammation coming from anything, right? Your food that you’re eating like I just mentioned or just whatever it is.

So what happens in the body is as inflammation builds up, all of these other health complications have an opportunity to present themselves whereas on the flip side, if we can de increase inflammation, what we can do is help the body heal itself. So no matter what is going on, whether you have a thyroid complication like myself and you or maybe you have rheumatoid arthritis or maybe you’re just super fatigued all the time and not sure what it is, if you reduce inflammation, your body will have more energy to rebalance and fix whatever it is that’s going on in your life. So it’s a really good answer to seriously anything that you’re struggling with. If you reduce inflammation, it’s going to help that complication.

Katie: That makes sense. Also, before we keep going on this path, I do wanna hear the Twinkie story just as a fun story.

Maggie: Okay. So I was not always health-oriented, right? Kinda, but this is just a story way back when one time I was dared. My dad dared me on vacation to jump into Lake Erie and it was freezing cold. It was not summer for a Twinkie. And I did it. I jumped off the dock into like crashing waves Lake Erie for a Twinkie. And I can’t believe that I did that, but yes, that is something that happened.

Katie: And you were ahead of the trend. Now, ice baths are all the rage and everyone’s getting them in their houses.

Maggie: Right. Who knew? I was actually being healthy and beneficial for myself. I’m fond of eating the Twinkie.

Katie: At least you counteracted the Twinky with the cold water.

Maggie: Yeah.

Katie: Okay. So back to the topic of inflammation, this definitely seems to be a recurring theme, and more and more studies kind of are pointing toward this connection. And I love that the holistic functional world looks at all the pieces instead of like your specialist trying to isolate, but it also seems like a pretty big thing to tackle. Like, it’s great when we are like, “Okay. I have inflammation. How do we combat that? Like, what do we do when someone realizes this is one of those pieces for me?”

Maggie: Yeah. You know, I always tell people that you don’t have to do it all, right? Like, meet yourself where you are. If you’re like me, I kind of did it all at one time. Once I found out this information, I was like, “I’m done.” I threw away all of my makeup and my household products and I tried to really live a non-toxic lifestyle, but you absolutely do not have to. A really good example is actually one of my sisters, she chooses one thing per year to focus on, just one. So I think last year it was deodorant. So she committed to last year finding a healthy deodorant that works best for her that she’s going to swap out. And over the years and over time, you’re going to start to dive into a healthier lifestyle that reduces inflammation. So take it step by step. And in the book, in my book, “Eat Right for Your Inflammation Type,” I really outline the different areas that you could focus on and I encourage you to pick what it is for you, what one thing can you do even this year that will help to reduce your inflammation. And take it step by step.

Katie: And I know, in especially the functional medicine world and for all of us, everything is very individualized and personalized. So there’s gonna be a different answer to that for every person, but are there, from your experience with clients, some commonalities that are really good starting points if you’re gonna try to like 80/20, like these would move the needle the most in the beginning?

Maggie: Yes. I would say that the first thing is actually mindset. You know, I kind of argue between food and mindset, but if you are eating really healthy but your mindset is still really toxic, it’s not going to work out. And the same thing is if you’re eating healthy but it’s from a place of fear or punishment and your mindset’s not on point and you’re not hopeful that you can heal, it’s not going to work out. So those two kind of go hand in hand. So the food that you eat would be the number one thing and then combining that with your mindset around that food, no diets, no restrictions, no yo-yoing, really just nourishing your body and thinking every single day what can you add to your nutrition, to your meal, to your smoothie, to your drink, whatever it is, what can you add that will help to boost your nutrients, help to heal your body, and rebalance whatever is going on.

So I think that that’s like the very first minimal thing if somebody is going to make any changes in life, that it be on nutrition and mindset and really just simplifying things, reducing packaged goods, reducing the chemicals that you’re consuming. And luckily, today, there are so many options out there for you that even if it’s like, oh, you’re addicted to, you know, onion rings, there are healthier options for onion rings out there, or you really love Starbust. Cool. Get the healthier version of the Starbust. So as you make these healthy swaps, you’re still eating the thing, but you’re reducing inflammation because of the ingredient content and the nutrient content in that item.

Katie: Yeah. That makes so much sense. And I think you’re right. Like, I know in the mindset shift myself, I didn’t realize the importance of that because I was doing all of the like checklist-y things first and trying to like deprive myself of things or like get very regimented. And when I stopped trying to fight my body and punish it and started learning to love it and accept it and work with it, all of those shifts got so much easier because I wanted to do them. And I think that maybe is an often overlooked step, especially if you have a health condition or you’re trying to lose weight and you’re just like frustrated with yourself, it’s easy to get in that loop of like kind of being mad at yourself or like, ” Why can’t I do this?” And at least for me, I learned when you’re asking those kinds of questions, your mind is going to answer those questions.

So if you’re like, “Why can’t I do this? Why is this so hard,” your mind is like, “Oh, well, here are all the reasons it’s so hard, so you should just stop.” And whereas if you like can shift that mindset even slowly, that makes such a big difference. And to your point of adding things, I love that because I think often people get overwhelmed and think, “I need to change everything,” or, “This is gonna be so expensive.” And it’s like if you can just build little habits that are actually enjoyable like getting outside when you first wake up to get natural light or drinking water first thing in the morning to kind of refuel your body after sleep, like those little steps that don’t cost anything can really add up and give you the motivation to keep going and kind of that idea that like we often think, “Oh, I need motivation so that I can take action.” But often those little actions are what bring you the motivation, to begin with.

Maggie: Yes. I couldn’t agree with that more. And I was in that same boat too. At first, I was trying to follow all of these different diets, and rules, and restrictions. And I had a checklist for myself and I even would write down like when I messed up, right, or like “messed up.” And it was just so toxic that when I stopped that, and I honestly just woke up and focused on how can I nourish my body today, and no guilt, shame, or worry if I chose something different and just going day by day, I think that, you know, you just nailed it. Everything that you just said is exactly why I healed. It wasn’t because it was a certain diet. It wasn’t because I switched out my air filter system. Those things helped me, but what ultimately helped me heal most was loving my body, honoring where I was, and giving myself grace through the process knowing that this is going to be a journey. It’s not going to happen overnight. You know, it’s not bad that it happened, right? Like honestly, I look back and I’m kind of glad it did because it led me to where I am today and be in a really, really good place with living in this modern world while nourishing my body and, you know, really living a vibrant, healthy life.

Katie: Yeah. Absolutely. I think that shift is the one I wish I could like gift people if it were possible, but it’s that journey of doing it ourselves and also that mindset of realizing… I know when I was in the thick of it thinking like, “Oh, my gosh, I need to make all these changes for the rest of my life.” But the beauty of it, the body is so resilient. Often, you need to be more maybe careful in a short term but that the body adapts over time. And I find now I have much more leeway in what I could eat and what I interact with without having any kind of reaction. So I also tell people that, like, your body can heal and it gets easier on the other side. This is like a short-term focus.

Maggie: Yes. Absolutely. And it is, right? I can…whereas in the past, if I would eat something… I mean, I’ll never forget one time I was sitting at my boyfriend at the time, he’s now my husband. I was sitting at his mom’s house and I was trying to be healthy because I knew that I was having this stuff going on. I was eating organic, gluten-free tortilla chips with organic hummus, right? But for some reason, my food intolerances, my body, my gut lining wasn’t having it. So as I was eating this, I could physically feel my body start blowing up. By the end of that day at his mom’s house, I looked 15 pounds heavier. My face was so swollen and it was horrible. Of course, now I can go out and eat pizza and beer and be totally fine. I’m not joking because I’m not doing it all the time and my body is so built up and resilient that it can handle those hits. And so there’s definitely a light at the end of the tunnel when you do heal your body that you can enjoy the things that you maybe want to enjoy. You can eat that piece of pie at Christmas without worrying that you’re going to be what I call food hungover for the next five days. And so there is light at the end of the tunnel once you get past the initial really deep healing of your health.

Katie: And for people who maybe are resonating with your story and also maybe being told by doctors that everything’s normal and having trouble getting answers, do you have any advice for good starting points for them for how to advocate for themselves or how to find resources that will actually help them uncover what they need to start with?

Maggie: Yeah. Well, the first thing to know is that you care the most about yourself. So a lot of these doctors, even the functional medicine doctors, even the integrative medicine doctors, at the end of the day, like they’re seeing hundreds or thousands of people, so you really need to take control of your own health, right? Use them as guides, as coaches, as mentors, as support but at the end of the day, it’s up to you. So if you’re not happy with the care you’re being given, even if you don’t agree with the care you’re given, for example, one time I saw a functional medicine provider, the very first visit, they handed me a PDF booklet. It was already made. They don’t even know what’s going on in my body. They handed me this booklet of the diet to follow and explaining leaky gut and the supplement protocol is already printed off. They give it to every person who comes in the door. And that was a functional medicine provider. That is not individualized care. I do not agree with that. I knew that I did not want to follow a strict diet. That was not individualized to me before they even know anything about me. So if that happens to you, even if this was someone highly recommended to you and you don’t feel good about it, it’s up to you to make a change. It’s up to you to walk out of that office, to not go back, and to seek different answers.

So I think the very first thing to do if you’re on this health journey and you’re frustrated is to know that it’s up to you and then you get to decide, “Okay, what’s the next step?” Are you going to…? I mean, I was pretty dramatic. I learned functional medicine from, like, an actual institution to literally heal my own body. You do not have to do that. Maybe it’s simply reading a book that really resonates with you, right? You know, maybe it’s simply joining an online webinar or summit going on and taking notes yourself and seeing what works best in your lifestyle and starting to implement that or hiring a different person, a different coach, consultant, or practitioner that really speaks to you. I think that that’s the best next step for anyone who’s going through this journey.

Katie: That’s… Yeah. Great advice. And I know another consideration for this that became very top-of-mind for me and actually is a lot of the reason I got into the health world is the consideration of our kids and what they’re facing and how inflammation is chronic even in kids now. And I know you’re a mom as well, so I’d love to kind of talk about how you address inflammation in your kids and how that looks practically in their day-to-day life because also for all of us who had health problems and resolved them, like you said, very grateful actually for it now and also, I would like to keep my kids from having to walk that same journey if possible. So I’d love to hear the mom side from you.

Maggie: Yeah. Oh, my gosh. This is something I’m so passionate about probably even more than what my own life right now is the kiddos. So what I do is very flexible in my children’s lives. So I am not… You don’t walk into my house and it’s like perfect, pristine, nothing toxic, no candy. But what we do is we do the healthier swaps. So, for example, if we’re going to eat, I don’t know, ice cream, I’m getting the dairy-free sugar, free organic ice cream. So I’m happy I’m helping them to have swaps in their life and honestly, they don’t even know the difference, right? Because a lot of times these foods are just as good and they just don’t know different. But then when we are from a food perspective, when we are out at a restaurant, for example, when I can handle the situation I do. For example, my baby, she has no idea what I’m feeding her. So I’m ordering her if we’re out in a restaurant, steamed veggies, steamed chicken, you know, no butter oils, etc. She doesn’t know the difference whereas my 4-year-old, he kind of does.

His cousin’s ordering a grilled cheese, he wants a grilled cheese. And that’s fine. So I don’t put any shame or guilt on that. I make it exciting. This is so fun. Did you enjoy your lunch? And not making him feel guilty for that choice. But then when we’re at home, you know, maybe we’re having a grilled cheese but we’re making it with healthier ingredients. So it’s a really fine balance. And then the things that they don’t know, I totally take control of. For example, they all drink out of glass. Even our newborn baby’s like straight out of glass, we do all organic bedding. Like, they don’t have a clue, but that’s me intentionally reducing their inflammation for them in an area that they don’t care about. Even a lot of our toys are non-toxic toys. They don’t know the difference. They’re still having so much fun. So I’m really controlling the things that I can and then allowing them flexibility and a really good relationship. I want them to have a really good relationship to food, to non-toxic living healthy living as well.

Katie: Yeah. I think you’re right. The mindset piece is so important, especially with the kids too, and especially starting from a young age. And there are those easy ones that I think are so smart of like anything they’re gonna do anyway like sleep, just make the sleep environment as clean and natural as possible. They’re gonna eat and drink, so just make the way in which they’re doing that as easy as possible. But then it’s also that mindset of… And I think it is a balance of avoiding any kind of like fear deprivation mindset when it comes to things and acknowledging how smart kids are and how much we can educate them from a young age, from a non-fear-based way and not have to be restrictive. And I think yours are younger than mine, but as they’ve gotten older, my mentality is at home I’m responsible for food. We cook and eat clean. The house has natural products in it, but when they’re at a friend’s house, I’m not trying to control what they eat, what they do. I know I’ve educated them and I know they’re gonna be autonomous adults one day. And they need to understand how to make good choices and also sometimes make bad choices and learn from that. And so I don’t try to control or even influence their food when they’re not with me. And I find, as they’re getting older, almost always, they make good choices just because they understand and they feel better when they do.

Maggie: Yeah. And also in your own life… So this is important also for adults. Actually, when you are nourished and your body is boosted and healthy and well, it’s easier to make healthy decisions because you are feeling satisfied after your meals. You actually are craving nutrients. Your body knows what it feels like to be fueled. So, you know, children are the same. They know what it feels like, you know, when they’re nourished and everything. So I think that’s really helpful and yeah, just not, you know, you’re not gonna send your 16-year-old to a sleepover with their own organic food and glass tupperware. You’re just not. So it’s just having that fine balance of doing what you can when you can.

Katie: How do you tackle the education side of that at different ages? I know for you, it also starts basically at birth and it’s just part of your family culture, but are there any specific things you do to help them learn at different ages?

Maggie: So our kids’ ages for reference are four, two, and one. So they are very young and I dove into this world before our child was even born. So from the start, that is kind of fortunate that they just have always had that. As far as an education standpoint, I think it’s more so an education for me, honestly. A lot of the part is because, you know, I wanted them to eat perfect, and they did. Like, our four-year-old, when he…probably, he was about two and a half, and then all of a sudden he stopped eating veggies. Will not touch them, right? So it’s an education thing for me too, to be like, “Okay. I get that. I’m not gonna force-feed you. Right? So let’s think of some creative ways.” So maybe having some more fun with the food, letting them choose things, pick them out, cut them up, letting them… I think dips are helpful. So if I give my son something to dip something in, he’s way more likely to eat something that he might not have eaten otherwise. The two-year-old and one-year-old are just obviously too young, but we’re talking a lot about… And we’re not talking about… This is kind of funny and a side note, but, like, we’re not saying like, “Oh, you need to eat this so you can get taller.” Right? Like that might not… He might just be short, right, or taller, whatever it is. So I’m speaking to it as energy. I always say like, “Jay, you…” That’s my four-year-old. “Jay, you really… I think that you’re really gonna like this. It’s so good. This is gonna give you so much energy. You’re gonna feel so great.”

So I’m speaking at it more of this is gonna give me energy, the same thing as I do in my own life. I’m not gonna say like, “Oh, it’s gonna make me skinny. It’s gonna give me energy. This is gonna feel me. This is gonna make me feel really happy and good. “That was the mindset shift that I had. And so with the education standpoint, that’s what really we’re doing, “Hey, this food is gonna give you energy.” And then if something makes him feel sick, sometimes it does, he’ll be like, “Oh, my tummy really hurts.” Then I’ll kind of remind him like, “Oh, I wonder what it was. Do you think it was the chocolate milk, or do you think it was the pizza at the restaurant?” And kind of helping him to identify why his tummy might be hurting.

Katie: Yeah. That’s a great point. I think the mindset shift for adults there is also very important. I think our culture likes to kind of push us into a like deprivation, guilt, fear mindset around a lot of different foods. And that happens even in the natural health world too. And ironically, like that creates a state that’s not great for your body, no matter what you’re eating or not eating that like sympathetic nervous system stressed-out state is not the optimal environment to nourish your body. And when you can make that mindset shift instead of like what should I avoid that’s bad into how can I best nourish my body and teach our kids that from a young age, I think it makes a huge difference. And I know like even in simple things, I’ve seen it in myself. Like, when I eat enough protein, I have way more or energy and I feel great. And if I hydrate in the morning, I feel great and if I don’t, I notice.

Maggie: Yeah. And helping your kids notice that too. And it’s important to know that in the thick of your illness… You might not know this. So in the thick of your notice, you’re so… Like in your illness, you’re so inflamed and it just feels messy and it just doesn’t feel as great. But you will get to a point where you do have those moments, those days, those weeks, those months where you feel really good so then you can start to naturally choose those choices.

Katie: I’d love to also talk a little bit about plastics because you mentioned you guys prioritized glass even from the moment your kids are born. And we do this in our home as well. And I’ve written quite a bit about plastics. And I feel like when I write about it, often I’m worried it comes across as alarmist, but I feel like I’m actually being like pretty conservative as far as how harmful plastics can be. And I feel like this is an area that still isn’t maybe necessarily getting talked about enough. So I’d love to hear from the functional medicine side and from the mom side your thoughts on plastic and how you address that in your house.

Maggie: So, yes, I’m not a plastic fan. Does that mean I’ve never like touched or used or had plastic in the home? No. But this is what it means. We all kinda know plastics aren’t so great, right? Like, that’s pretty general knowledge and everybody pretty much agrees on that. Glass is very easy to get and it’s not actually even that much more expensive in the long-term scheme of things. So it’s kind of like, why not? You know, if you know, this thing might not be really great for you, then why not just, you know, empty out the Tupperware drawer of the plastic stuff and buy yourself a set that is glass? You know, you can get these at Costco, Amazon. They’re actually not that hard to get. And so, for me, it’s more of a, if there’s a better choice that really doesn’t impact my life at all, except for helps it, I’m not gonna miss the plastic. I’m actually gonna enjoy the glass because it looks really good, and clean, and awesome, right? Like, I like it aesthetically as well. So it’s kind of just like, why not make that swap? If you have the ability, why not just upgrade and make that small change in your life that could possibly make a major impact in your health?

Katie: What other small changes do you have people start with, especially within the home environment, because I think most people listening are moms. And so I feel like anytime we can help moms make those shifts, it ripples into the whole family.

Maggie: Yeah. Well, I think really easy in the home environment is cleaning products. Super simple. And again, it’s so like, “Why not?” Because it’s so accessible nowadays. Back in the day, like Katie, when you first started writing, this stuff wasn’t. You had to home-make all your own stuff, right? But now you could home-make it as well, but you could also purchase it online from a really great company, right? So there are so many options for you to swap out your laundry detergent. No one’s gonna know. To swap out the dishwasher soap you use. No one’s gonna know. The hand soap, no one’s gonna know. Again, these are things that you could swap in your home environment that helps the entire family benefit from a health perspective and it doesn’t make a difference. It’s not like you’re sacrificing anything. It’s actually a status upgrade.

So cleaning products are a very simple way to start, even like floor cleaner. And if you have somebody clean your home, it’s very simple to let them know because a lot of people are like, “Well, I don’t clean my home. I have a maid service come,” or something like that. Cool. Just take out your little bucket and tell them to use your stuff. It’s so easy. They will all do that. And then another area in your own life as a parent is your hygiene and makeup. I love that. That was one of the first areas I focused on, is, first of all, the lotion I was using because it was very toxic And so just switching to like a more unscented, natural, organic lotion was really good for me. And then makeup products, looking for a more clean version of the makeup.

And again, you don’t have to go cold turkey like I did and throw away everything and rebuy everything at one time. You could just decide, “Hey, my mascara just ran out. I’m gonna try out this other brand that I heard that was kind of non-toxic or clean.” And just get the other one as they run out. So those are some core areas. I would say household cleaning products and then your personal makeup and hygiene and also your kids, right? They don’t care what soap that you’re washing your kids in. Switch out their soap in the shower. They’ll never know the difference and they’ll be so much healthier.

Katie: Yeah. I think personal care’s a big one for women and it seems like studies are pointing more and more toward… We know there’s endocrine disruptors and all kinds of chemicals in a lot of personal care products. And that was a lot of my reason for starting a personal care company is that women are not willing to sacrifice how we look and how we feel even to go natural often. And I’m like acknowledging this about myself too. I definitely did the natural versions even before they worked very well and like I remember my hair would feel like weird, or stiff, or waxy, or like had to make my own toothpaste because there were no good options. But realizing, like you said, switch them out as they run out. But also if you can even just switch the core products you use, it’s kind of that 80/20 rule.

Again, like, you can get rid of most of your chemical exposure by just switching out things like deodorant, shampoo, toothpaste, soap, the things that touch your…lotion, thing that touch your body the most. And realizing we also don’t have to have as many products as we do. I think it’s a running joke with women of how many toiletries are often in our bathrooms and the husbands tend to joke about that or complain about that. But we are marketed to and told we need a lot more stuff than we actually do. And especially as you get healthier and your body’s healthy from the inside out, I feel like I least me, I needed fewer and fewer products or wanted fewer and fewer products.

Maggie: Yeah. And I like that you said like wanted. I mean, to me a lot of this is like personal preference too. I like my things clean and organized and knowing they’re non-toxic and like it makes me feel really good. And when I wake up in the day and I open, you know, my pantry cabinet and I have organic, non-toxic foods and glass tupperware where that is organized, I like it. It makes me feel really good, and energetic and motivated whereas if you wake up and things are messy, and toxic, everywhere, and you’ve got all these candles and like it just smells, it doesn’t make me feel good. So it’s also a personal preference and I grew it to be like that. It wasn’t from the beginning. But yeah, the core thing is like, you don’t have to do everything. And if something’s firm, like if your hubby is like, “No, we’re not switching the laundry… I love my,” whatever brand it is, then don’t switch the laundry or, you know, like that’s fine. Do the other stuff, right? So just reducing… Again, coming back to inflammation, if you reduce your inflammation in some areas, it’s going to overall reduce inflammation in the body. Your body is very, very smart, so it will have more energy to rebalance your body and heal your body. You don’t have to do every single thing to a T in order to heal.

Katie: That’s a great point too, to keep it in perspective. And I’ve heard lots of different versions of this analogy from like rain bucket to bathtub, but the idea being like we all have this vessel, which is our body, and lots of different inputs can go in. And when your body gets too much of the negative ones to handle, it’s gonna overflow and that’ll look different for every person in how it expresses in what type of inflammation or illness and it could be lots of different inputs. It’s just when you hit that threshold, it overflows. So in the reverse, the more things you can do to reduce that threshold, it has that cumulative effect but it doesn’t mean you have to reduce it to zero. You just have to get it below the level your body can handle.

Maggie: Yeah. Exactly. I call this the total toxic burden. So I actually have, like, a whole form that you can fill out and everything and it tells you what your total toxic burden is in that moment. And the goal is that we just reduce it. You know, you don’t have to eliminate it. We all are going to have toxins. Just get that out of your mind that you’re gonna live a total toxin-free life because you’re not. You’re gonna step outside and you’re going to be exposed to toxins. You’re going to go to the work environment and you’re going to be exposed to toxins. But what we can do is reduce what we can handle and what we want to handle to reduce that total toxin burden, and then you’re not spilling over the edge. You’re not getting your symptoms. And this is why most people who are struggling with health symptoms or major health crashes like myself, it takes years, right?

I just told you guys, this actually started back in high school and probably even before that. But it was years, and years, and years later that I got enough symptoms to care about it, enough symptoms to where it led me to the hospital. And eventually, I had actually a mini-stroke when I was 24. That was my body being done. That was my body saying, “Maggie, enough is enough. We cannot compensate any longer. You have spilled over. Your total toxic burden is reached and we’re done.” And so it takes a long time to get to that point. I don’t want you guys to wait to that point. I want you to reduce your inflammation, reduce your total toxic burden right now so that you can feel really, really good and not have to struggle with those things. So, yeah, I think that’s a really good point.

Katie: And I’d love to hear, on a practical level, some of your favorite non-toxic items for people who are like, “Okay, I can make these switches.”

Maggie: Okay. Oh, my gosh. I think the most common thing people ask me is makeup first because I do wear makeup and I do TV and all that kind of stuff. My favorite makeup products, like you, want brands? Cool. So I love Ilia, I-L-I-A. I use their… Specifically, if you really want the details, I use their eyeshadow. I really like that. And then I use their eyeliner. I love it. I use Honest. Honest, Jessica Alba’s company. I use her mascara. I love it. I use Beautycounter. I like their bronzer, their blush, their highlighter. I like them for those. And then for my foundation, I like Jane Iredale. So that’s kind of like my home makeup. Like, I use Jane Iredale primer and foundation.

From a cleaning perspective, cleaning products, I use a lot of Branch Basics. And they have pretty much everything. They’ve got laundry detergent, and floor cleaner, and Windex, like a streak-free window cleaner, and things like that. Obviously, you guys have an amazing toothpaste as well as shampoo and conditioner. So I have that in my shower right now. I use you guys’ shampoo, and conditioner, your toothpaste, hand sanitizer. Use you guys’ hand sanitizer. So those are great products. What am I missing? Those are some of…like, those are the main cores for household and hygiene that I use. Oh, Dr. Bronner’s. I like their soap bars. And those are really easy for the kiddos too. They have a great… It’s light-blue, unscented, kind of like baby Dr. Bronner’s soap. That’s really good for our kids.

Katie: I’m a big fan of a lot of those too, especially Branch Basics, because it’s like it reduces your plastic consumption because it’s a concentrate. So I tell people you can get like glass bottles and make literally everything you need for your house with only one bottle of concentrate. And so it also saves money, and time, and plastic. And like these are some of those switches you’re talking about. They don’t have to be hard. They can actually make your life easier. It’s not an uphill battle. It’s an easy one.

Maggie: And it’s so nice. You guys, like you’re just gonna love it because, especially like for example, for Branch Basics, instead of having all these different half empty tubes and all this kind of stuff and all these different brands and you’re cleaning stuff, it’s usually like a mess, you have like these beautiful, like, they’re beautifully branded. You can refill. It’s, like, better. It’s cleaner. It’s more simple. And then like yousaid, you can buy these glass containers, which we have. So we have like a soap dispenser container and like glass spray bottles and just refill them. And you can put a cute little label on it that tells you what it’s for like all-purpose cleaner. So it just like feels really, really good when things are simplified and organized and look real clean and that’s what you achieve when you choose these more non-toxic simplified brands.

Katie: And I will put a link in the show notes. You mentioned your book. Walk us a little bit through your book. And I know you have practical steps from having read it of all the ways people can do a lot of these things we’re talking about.

Maggie: Yeah. So the book is called “Eat Right for Your Inflammation Type” and it’s actually way more than eating. But we do focus a lot on what I call the “Eat to Treat” method. So that’s my method that I take all of my clients through. I also have a course called Eat to Treat and it focuses on nutrition. From that mindset point of view, how are we going to nourish your body, boost your immune system, balance your hormones, heal your gut, without restricting, without diets, really coming from a place of like love and nourishment versus fear and punishment because that’s a huge part of my journey. And you’ll read about that in the story. I went through yoyo dieting. I restricted. I like didn’t know what to eat. I was afraid to eat because I didn’t know if I was gonna get symptoms and it was a whole mess.

And so that is a huge portion of the book. And then in a whole huge portion, actually an entire part of the book, part two, is called Create an Environment to Thrive. So it will take you through legitimately every area that you could improve upon. And again, you don’t have to do them all. Even if you just take one thing away from the book and you’re like, “I’m gonna implement this,” cool because you’re going to help your body and your family’s life in a huge way. So in creating an environment to thrive, we talk not just about what we talked about today about the non-toxic items and beauty, but also things like stress management and mindset. And you mentioned a little bit about like getting outdoors in the morning and, you know, setting your circadian rhythm.

Sleep hygiene. How can we combat some things that you’re struggling with? And we give exact strategies and tools. So if you are struggling to find a doctor or a practitioner who listens to you and who cares and who helps you, you help yourself. You pick up this book, you read through the tips, and it’s everything I teach my private clients, and you figure out what is it gonna be in your life. What are the three things you’re going to implement today to help your body heal?

Katie: I’ve said before quite a bit like we are each our own primary healthcare provider and I wish it was as simple as finding a doctor who could give you all the answers and then just doing it, but that’s not how it works. At the end of the day, we have to… Like the buck starts with us and we have to take that responsibility ourselves.

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You mentioned inflammation types. Can you walk us through maybe some of the different ones and how they look different?

Maggie: Yes. So in the first part of the book, we actually break down the six inflammation types. So after seeing so many clients around the world, I’ve identified six core inflammatory types that people come to me with and they’re a little bit different, right? The body is all interconnected. And many times when you’re struggling with something, you may have a couple of different inflammatory types going on, but there’s always that core one. For me, that was hormones. What happened first? Because if we can identify that and start to do specific things that are targeted to that, for example, like if you have a thyroid complication, I’m going to give you different advice of what to eat, when to eat, if you should work out, if you should not work out. I’m gonna give you different advice than if you have a joint and muscle inflammatory response.

So in the book, you can identify what inflammation type you are, your primary and your secondary. So throughout the book, actually, in every single section, we have a little mini checklist and it breaks it down, hey, if you have this inflammatory type, implement these three things first or do it in this order if you have this inflammatory type or don’t follow this advice if you have this inflammatory type. So it’s really good for this one but not this one. So it’ll help you to identify what you should kind of do first and second as if like… I tried to write it really as if you were a private client of mine and help you in the best way I possibly can by letting you know what to do first, second, and third for your root cause by knowing where you should start.

So you’ll find that out. In the very first part of the book, there’s actually a quiz associated with it to help you identify your inflammatory type. And then once you know that type, you can read more in-depth about it. Why did it happen? Why you? You know, what are you gonna do to resolve this? What are the common, you know, things that people struggle with this? And then there will be a story of a case study in each of those inflammatory types so that you can learn more. And a lot of times people tell us that, you know, it sounded like we are speaking right to them because there are a lot of commonalities in these inflammatory types.

Katie: And you also mentioned stress. And I think this is that huge key that’s often overlooked. Like, we know that stress is rampant in today’s society. I don’t feel like most people know what to do about that. And then if anything, we get stressed about being stressed, and then it’s a whole cycle. So how do you work with your clients on starting to undo that cycle of stress?

Maggie: Yeah. So I think one of the most annoying things in today’s world and with practitioners is you’ll go into a doctor’s office and they’re like, “Oh, yeah. Stress less.” You’ll be like, “Okay. Like, what? You don’t even know what I’m stressed about.” So, first of all, like identifying what you’re stressing about. And then what I like to do, instead of just saying reduce stress because that’s really hard when you’re inflamed, you have all these health complications, you’re scared that you’re not even gonna get answers and like all this stuff, right? It’s hard to just stop stressing.

So what I like to do is I like to help your body out on a very practical level to kind of trick it into reducing stress. So activating your parasympathetic nervous system. And so in the book, we talk a lot about activating your parasympathetic nervous system, which actually helps to reduce the stress levels in your body because then what happens is your body can start to rewire. And when you start to rebalance your body and reduce inflammation, you’re gonna stress less because you’re naturally not feeling like crap. It’s kind of this endless cycle.

We also have strategies in the book though as well. And I talk about this all the time, too, about mindset, and simplifying your life is a huge one. Even decision-making, that was big in my life. I like would stress out so much about the silliest things that really mattered to me. It felt really big to me, but at the end of the day, I was seriously worrying myself sick, like actually worrying myself sick over a decision. So helping you to simplify your life, to focus on nourishing your body, to focus on, you know, maybe slowing down or giving yourself grace or at least activating your parasympathetic nervous system at times so that you can help to balance it out.

And even, Katie, in times of excitement. So, for me, a lot of my stress was also from what I say is like good stress. I was, like, really excited. I was doing all this stuff. I was like, go, go, go, go, super productive type A, high performer type of person. And to me, I was like, “Oh, I’m a go-getter. Like, I’m awesome.” But to my body, it was like, “Oh, my gosh, we’re falling apart here,” because I was always in a sympathetic nervous system even if it was good stress. So knowing when you need to activate, when you need to recover, when you need to rejuvenate, and using the strategies such as breathing techniques or certain like biohacking types of tools to make sure that you’re leveling out your stress levels.

Katie: And I know you have tools on your website and in your book and you have a course as well. So I’m gonna make sure those are linked in the show notes. Can you just walk us through the course briefly?

Maggie: Yeah. So the Eat to Treat course is specifically around nourishing your body with real foods, with healing foods, and then also knowing what, when, and how to eat for your body. So I kind of guide you through the different options and what might be best for you. We also talk a lot about daily detoxification. So I’m a big fan of not doing heavy detoxifications when you are struggling through your health right away because your body typically doesn’t have the energy reserves to even detoxify. Most people aren’t even using the restroom, you know, adequately throughout the day. So like they can’t even detoxify. So if you’re releasing heavy metals and parasites, they have nowhere to go. So I’m really helping you to focus on daily detoxification that will help your pathways start to work, like your lymphatic system, like your liver, and your gallbladder, and your gut, helping all of your systems to start to activate and work better. So it really is, and I told you that at the very beginning, nutrition and mindset are the two things. Like, if you do nothing else, if you’re still using your toxic cleaning products, if your nutrition and mindset is on point, you’re going to feel better. And so really just kind of focusing on those things.

Katie: Perfect. And like I said, I’ll put some resource links in the show notes for you guys listening. That’s But as we get close to the end of our time, questions I love to ask, the first being, if there is a book or a number of books that have had a profound impact on your life and if so, what they are and why.

Maggie: Oh, gosh. There are… I would say one book I read recently was on anti-aging. That really had an impact on my life, right? I’m having young kids now and I’m getting older and just like focusing on things that as I’m well now, right, I feel amazing. All my labs are normal, all this kind of stuff, but also like what can I do more? What can I do to help my body to reduce the stressors that I’m knowledgeable about? So I think that that really was helpful. I think that the author was Dr. David Sinclair or maybe just David Sinclair, and it was called “How Not To Age,” I think. So that was one that I really actually enjoyed. And then the incident with functional medicine really was helpful in a large point of even just showing me that this world existed.

So I know that they have a lot of resources online that you can read through and blogs and whatnot, but it was really useful. Gosh, I’m giving you a lot. From the food standpoint, the “Food Babe” blog was really helpful as I was first starting out because I didn’t know what ingredients were good or bad and your blog too. So just kind of looking… Actually, your blog helped even when I first had my first baby, like, oh, what options are there for baby bottles that are healthier? And so looking through your blog and seeing here’s the links or like what healthier non-toxic Christmas items and just like clicking on the links, that was so helpful as I was starting out.

Katie: Oh, that’s awesome. Thanks for sharing that. That makes me so happy. And then lastly, any parting advice. I know we’ve talked about, like, a lot of topics. It could be totally unrelated to anything we’ve talked about or a follow-up to something we’ve said, but what parting advice would you like to leave with the listeners today?

Maggie: The best thing that I can leave with you today is that no matter what has gone on in your past, no matter how many doctors told you there’s no hope for you, no matter how many times you tried a diet and it didn’t work or you tried to heal and it didn’t work, I want you to wipe your whiteboard clean and start fresh. And that’s exactly what will get you to the results you’re looking for. I don’t care what your symptoms are. I don’t care how many diagnoses you have. You can heal or at least heal tremendously better, but you have to simplify, wipe your wiper clean, and start fresh.

Katie: I love it. And I know you have resources to do that. Like I said, guys, check them out,, or Maggie’s site. Where can people find you online if they wanna keep learning?

Maggie: Yeah. So at everything is pretty much my name, Maggie Berghoff. So is my website. And then I am on Instagram and TikTok at Maggie_Berghoff. And that’s where I really connect a lot with the community as well.

Katie: Perfect. Those links will be there as well. I know you are a busy practitioner and mom of three. I appreciate your time today. Thank you so much for being here.

Maggie: Thanks for having me. It was awesome. I hope it was super useful and I’m wishing all of you listeners the very, very best.

Katie: And thanks as always to all of you for listening and for sharing your most valuable resources, your time, your energy, and your attention with us today. We’re both so grateful that you did, and I hope that you will join me again on the next episode.

If you’re enjoying these interviews, would you please take two minutes to leave a rating or review on iTunes for me? Doing this helps more people to find the podcast, which means even more moms and families could benefit from the information. I really appreciate your time, and thanks as always for listening.

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Makes Noise is a blog where you can find all the juicy details on a variety of topics including health and fitness, technology, lifestyle, entertainment, love and relationships, beauty and makeup, sports and so much more. The blog is updated regularly to make sure you have all the latest and greatest information on the topics that matter most to you.

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