The Power of Nutrition on Autoimmune Disorders | Dr. Brooke Goldner
What was your life like when you were 16 years old?
At this young age, Dr. Brooke Goldner was diagnosed with lupus and given a short six months to live.
SPOILER: Not only did she overcome this struggle, but she now uses her experience to help others overcome their autoimmune disorders, joint pain and other chronic issues!
This week’s episode of The Goodness Lover Podcast is with a Board certified licensed physician and bestselling author of "Goodbye Lupus."
Dr. Goldner shared:
- 🤯 The mind-blowing story about her autoimmune diagnosis and how nutrition became the backbone of her recovery
- 💊 How medicine saved her life and became her career, but led her to discover specific foods that help fight autoimmune problems including green smoothies and cruciferous vegetables
- 🤗 How she is using her experience to better the lives of others by creating “hyper-nourishing” nutritional protocols
And much more that you don't want to miss! 🎙
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Sarah: Hello and welcome back to the Goodness Lover show. In today's episode, we're joined by Dr. Brooke Goldner, who is a medical doctor and bestselling author. And in this interview, she tells us her heart-wrenching story of going through autoimmune disease, how she went from being told that she had six months to live at 16 years old to being in a place now where she is thriving. She now helps countless patients across the world do the same. And you're about to find out how she did it. Let's dive in.
Sarah: Okay. Dr. Brooke Goldner, we are very excited to have you today. We've been looking for someone for a long time that could really do a good job of talking about autoimmune disease, and I know that is totally your thing, and you have your own incredible story about that. But I laughed to myself when I was actually going through all your resources, because it finally clicked that you are the person responsible for my entire family doing green smoothies and being obsessed about green smoothies. So I'm excited to find out why you did this to them and the science behind that. But welcome to the show. Thank you so much for joining us. Dr. Brooke Goldner: Thank you. It's my pleasure.
Sarah: Before we dive into the science of autoimmune disease and how to recover from it, we'd love to hear about you. We know that you have your own story with lupus. Let's dive in.
Dr. Brooke Goldner: So how I became the smoothie lady?
Matt: It was like semi-accusational where like-
Sarah: Well, it not ideal when we're having dinner.
Matt: She's like, "You're the one responsible."
Sarah: We have dinner with our moms once a week. My mom is just an amazing cook, and all of a sudden she's like, "Oh, but I'm having a smoothie for dinner." I'm like, "Why?"
Dr. Brooke Goldner: Now I see why you're upset. Mom stopped cooking because she's taking a smoothie, and she's like, "You just take care of you." Yeah. Okay. I get it. Long before I became the smoothie lady, I was a patient. I started getting sick when I was probably about 12 years old, I started getting migraines, and really debilitating migraines, like throwing up for days, can't get out of bed, can't tolerate light, sound. It was really, really painful. So my mom took me to the doctor and they sent me to neurology, they did all the tests.
I remember my family joked around that the only thing they learned is that I definitely had a brain because we had the images. But they couldn't figure out why I was having the migraines, so they gave me something for pain. You have migraines, take medicine for pain, and that was pretty much it. And then as I got older, especially as I became 16, I started having more aches and pains and really intense arthritic pain, and it could travel from joint to joint. It started in one shoulder, but then it'd be in the other shoulder, and then it'd be my knees, and then I started getting swelling.
Then I started getting rashes, I had rashes across my face. And so finally, one day I had a really bad day where it all happened the same day. I was out in the sun all day with my friend and I got a terrible migraine, I started hurting everywhere. We came home, I'm throwing up. When I come out of the bathroom, my rash is bright red and my dad looked at me and went, "Okay, there's something very wrong here." And I had been going to the doctor, I went for the knee pain and the shoulder pain and they gave me something for pain, he said, "Maybe it's volleyball." I sat bench for volleyball. I'm not an athlete.
I gave it my best, but I didn't get to play much. But that was pretty much all they could do, but when all this happened that day, my doctor said, "Meet me in the ER." And she finally saw the full picture, said, "I think you have lupus," which then made my mom mad. She's like, "Nope. No, don't you start diagnosing, you take tests." So they did all the tests and they confirmed I did and have lupus. And the rash I had is called a butterfly rash because of the way it goes over the cheeks and the nose, very classic for lupus, the arthritis, everything started to make sense.
The problem was, not only did I have lupus, which is an autoimmune disease, meaning that instead of your immune system doing what it's supposed to like fighting viruses and bacteria and repairing damage if you get an injury, it can attack your own organs. And lupus is very dangerous because it can attack any organ. So I've helped people reverse lupus in their brain, their heart, their kidneys, their lungs. The most common place that you see it though is in the kidneys, and that's what I found out that day. So not only did they diagnose me with lupus, they said, "Your blood pressure is ridiculously high."
I think my blood pressure was... Let me see. The bottom number was over 100, I remember, and the top number was like 170. And the nurse had her eyebrows disappear into her hair and called my doctor, like, "Something's really wrong." And the lab test showed that not only was it in my kidneys, it was pretty bad, and they put me in for a kidney biopsy the next day. So I went from having a rash and joint pain and headaches to surgery the next day. And the day after that, I'm in the nephrologist's office with my mother and my grandmother, were there, and the nephrologist says, "We got the biopsy results and you're in stage four kidney failure. Not only that, you have the most aggressive form of lupus, nephritis lupus in the kidneys, it's called membranoproliferative," very difficult to say, but it's the most aggressive form.
And he said, "Honestly, with the medications we have today, you've got six months. Six months, lucky to be on dialysis, if not, you could be dead." And it was just one of those shocking things. At 16, I wasn't able to really absorb what that meant, it was kind of just numbing. But I remember my grandmother... Now, my grandparents are Holocaust survivors, they are tough people. And they came here as refugees after the war with my mom when she was little and her older brother for freedom, to start over in freedom. There was nothing left for them in Poland. And she was the most optimistic, positive person ever.
I have my grandma's personality actually, just really gregarious and loves life and very positive. And I never saw her cry, and that night we got back and she was on her knees crying and praying to God to just take her life and spare mine. It'll be burned in my head forever. And the doctor said, "We have experimental treatments that might help, but if we just put you on the usual steroids and everything, it's not going to work." And so, "Hey, okay, we'll do that then. We'll do whatever you say." So I was taking about seven different pills a day, high dose steroids. And they started an experimental treatment using chemotherapy, which they still use today, I was one of the people that got tested on.
The idea was that one of the side effects of using chemotherapy for cancer is that it shuts down the immune response. So a lot of people with cancer end up dying from infections because the chemotherapy suppresses your immune system. So they said, "What if we do that on purpose?" Like when your computer's glitching, what do we do? We shut it off, say a few prayers, turn it back on, hope it works. So the theory is, if we shut your immune system off on purpose, maybe it'll restart again without the lupus like it did a couple years ago before you got sick. So they didn't know how much to use, and they didn't know how long to do it for.
So they started giving it to me. They told me that they couldn't give me the highest dose because it would kill me, I had to work my way up for it. So every dose got stronger and stronger. It was very difficult, throwing up and constantly dehydrated. I remember one day yelling at my doctor, I didn't yell, but I was just like, "I didn't feel sick until you started trying to fix me. This is worse than the arthritis." But it did work. It took two years. So two years from 16 to 18, I had regular chemotherapy, high dose steroids, they gave me hormones to suppress my periods because they said to be sterilized by the treatments I was getting or I could get ovarian cancer from it.
So it was a whole to-do, and it was difficult. But, one, I survived it, so it worked. And two, it taught me a lot about who I was. I always tell my patients today that every hero has an amazing origin story, like Superman's planet blew up, Spiderman's uncle was murdered, So if you're going through something tough, it's how you discover your power, that's what I teach my kids too. If something goes wrong, that's when you discover your powers, so don't be afraid. And so for me, thankfully with my grandparents, they tell me, "If you wake up free, it's a good day." So I still was very grateful for the life I had.
And I just focused on, well, I became obsessed with just having the most rich life I could because most people think they have forever to create some good life for themselves. I knew that there was a ticking time bomb going on and I just decided I was going to go all in, all in, on happiness, on education, on service. I just wanted to live top level. And I did, I graduated top of my class in high school, even though I was taking the chemotherapy, I got a scholarship to my school that I wanted to go to, Carnegie Mellon. Carnegie Mellon, I was the youngest researcher there and graduated with honors for genetic research and neurobiology.
I was just obsessed with learning, with living. And really, I say that in spite of being sick, I loved my life. And I thought that was the best I could do. And I still got sick. I decided to go to medical school, which is not the path that you would normally choose with autoimmune disease because my doctors kept saying, "Make sure you get enough sleep and avoid stress." Medical school was not the best for that. I got sick in medical school, I started developing blood clots from lupus. I had multiple mini strokes where I was getting double vision. I collapsed one day.
So then I had to start taking injectable blood thinners every day, and they said, "Take these shots every day to keep your blood thin so you don't have a major stroke, but if you hit your head on blood thinners, you could have a bleeding stroke." And I'm clumsy, so that's a bit was a little bit dicey. But again, it was like, "Okay." I felt very great, grateful that every time I got sick, there was a medicine that could help me, that's what I was grateful for because the medicines helped me, they saved my life over and over again. The things that medicine couldn't do was give me health.
It was still that I had a chronic disease that was going to continue to show up, it was going to keep causing problems. By the time I got through medical school and had the blood clots, my doctors were very clear with me that I was going to become disabled, I couldn't have children because that would kill me if the baby could even survive. And I probably would be disabled probably by my 40s or so from all the chronic arthritis. And so I knew this was looming, but I just decided not to focus on it. I just decided to feel really lucky that the medicines kept me going, I was alive, and that was a gift.
So that was my life. I thought that was a gift I could give as a doctor. It's one of the reasons I wanted to be a doctor. First, I thought maybe I could cure lupus, and I did genetic research for years and said, "No, I'm probably not going to be able to do that." So instead I said, "Okay, let me look at, how can I help people the most?" Well, I know how to teach sick people, how to have amazing lives, to have passion and to have purpose and to have joy. And so I thought, "If I could be an expert in that, which I already was, maybe I could give people better quality of life."
And I saw as a medical student too, that people with depression, anxiety, trauma, they had worse medical outcomes than people who were happy with any treatment, didn't matter what they had, cancer, diabetes, or a cut. So I became a trauma specialist, I'm board certified in psychiatry and neurology, and I worked with the homeless for years, and I thought, "That's what I'm going to do in this world. I'm going to help rehabilitate people who have been homeless and traumatized and bring them back into society." And I did that for years and I loved it. So that was what I thought I was going to do in this world, and the world had other plants for me.
So when I was graduating med school, about two months before I graduated, I fell in love with an amazing man, Thomas Tadlock is just the coolest, greatest person, and he wanted to marry me. We were dating for a month and he wanted to marry me. I hadn't really talked about my illness, not because I was hiding it, but because I didn't focus on my illness. I thought about my illness for as long as it took me to take my shot, take my meds, and then it was off my mind. I could be in pain and be home and think about pain or I could be in pain and just not think about it and just live.
So most people never knew that I hurt, most people never knew that I was sick, and he didn't either. I loved to go out, I loved to dance, I loved to laugh. So I had to sit him down and say, "I actually am madly in love with you and I would absolutely love to marry you, but you need to understand, I can never have your children, you're going to have to take care of me when I become disabled. I'm not going to live a long life." Also, a lot to throw at somebody a 28-year-old who's thinking about future. He said it felt like forever that he was absorbing this, but I swear it was like a few seconds.
And he just said, "I'd rather have a short life with you than a lifetime with anybody else, so let's just make it the best damn life you could ever have." So I went, "Well then let's get married."
Matt: That's amazing.
Dr. Brooke Goldner: I didn't wait longer than that. And I have patience sometimes who think they don't deserve love, they feel like they're burdening their partner by being sick. I was all in, I'm like, "Love? Yes." I never planned for the white dress, I was planning for the white coat. But now I was like, "Yeah, let's do this. Yes." I think we all deserve love and we don't get to choose who loves us or say if someone's allowed to. And it's hard because if you ever talk to my husband, Thomas, he's an amazing man. His best friend he ever had in the world died when he was 24 from cancer.
And he said until me, he'd never felt that close to another human again. And then he finds out that I'm sick. So the poor man, the torture he must have gone through in his own mind. He cries as much as I do when we talk about it. But anyway, this is how I came to become the smoothie lady was, my husband's especially, he is obsessed with metabolism. He was a computer scientist at Carnegie Mellon, who then became obsessed with fitness. And he thought, "Well, there's be an optimal way to feed the body for muscle building and fat loss. There should be one optimal way."
And when he went and got his master's degree in exercise science and physiology, they said, "Well, some people do better in high protein, low protein, kali carb, low fat, blah, blah, blah. And he said, " I knew that's not science. Because in computer science, there's one best way to write that program, and you're going to get that output. And if the program is correct, the output's always the same." And what they were saying in the exercise science world is, different inputs can create different outputs. And he said, "That's just not science." And so he became obsessed with looking at cellular biology and metabolism, and that's his bests selling book, Miracle Metabolism.
What he discovered is, there's certain nutrients that people eat that accelerate cellular function and cellular communication, which is what you need when you're trying to do exercise and eat and create fat loss or muscle building, you need all these different metabolic systems to work properly. And so what he had discovered even back then was certain things like raw foods, high nutrient foods, like cruciferous vegetables in their raw form, Omega-3 fatty acids, water intake, all of those affected metabolic rate. And so when he would get called by MTV, "Hey, we need this person to make a music video in three weeks and they've got a beer gut." He could get them a six pack in weeks by using these things that he learned.
So that was his obsession. Well, now I'm going to marry Mr. MTV. And I don't know if MTV is cool anymore. I'm almost 45. So I don't know.
Sarah: Is it still running?
Matt: I don't know. I'm still thinking about six packs in six weeks.
Sarah: Yeah. That's like, "Come over here."
Dr. Brooke Goldner: When I was young, I feel like a granny now, well, back in the day, that was really cool. It was really cool. We watched music videos, but you had to wait until the one you wanted came on, you didn't get to choose what you saw. Listen, we didn't even have the internet until I was in college, so. But anyway, it was really cool. So, I wanted to look like these music video people. I wanted to look that good for my wedding, because why not? and at the time I was now an intern, and I was overweight. The white coat can cover a lot especially the long one, and I was on the perfect diet to be overweight and sick. It's called hospital food.
You eat what's in the hospital, it's good for hospital business. It is the worst food you could possibly feed any human, especially a sick person or someone trying to fix them. I was vegetarian as I read John Ramin's dad's book when I was a kid. And so my parents became vegetarian. And back in the '80s, I didn't even know about vegans, none of us did, so being vegetarian was weird enough. People thought it was a religion like Presbyterian, they didn't understand. But I was not a healthy eater by any stretch. And I ate loss of dairy and eggs, every meal. And even when I was doing my medical training in Pittsburgh, the hospital, if you ordered a salad, would put French fries and ranch dressing on top. I think chips if you're in other parts of the world.
So not a healthy eater by any stretch. And so Thomas was like, "All right, I'll train you for the wedding as long as it's not a trap because you're beautiful." I'm like, "No, no, it's not a trap. I just want to look differently."
Matt: And that's trapping. I love this man.
Sarah: Tread lightly.
Matt: I've been in that trap so many times. I call it Minesweeper, the old game.
Dr. Brooke Goldner: "You're beautiful. You're perfect." I'm like "No, no, no. I know, but I want to a fix that." He was like, "All right. Okay." I'm not the kind that traps people, I don't get bothered. But I had like 20 pounds to lose, and so he's said, "Okay, I've never trained a vegetarian." And at the time, he still was using meat because he thought you needed it for protein. And this was, again, it was time ago. So he was using like free range stuff because he heard that's less inflammatory, less Omega-6, whatever.
But I was a vegetarian, I said, "I'm not eating any of that." And he said, "But you're eating all the saturated fat, the cheese, I was addicted to cheese and eggs and all that stuff." He said, "You've got to stop eating all that to get rid of the saturated fat or you're never ever going to lose the fat." I said, "Okay." So I accidentally became a high, raw vegan, without intending to, without thinking of the... In fact, the only vegans I ever met were in college, they had big rings coming out of their nose, and I thought they were extremists. There was no plan for this, but that's just what happened.
I ate tofu instead of the meat, I ate tons of raw vegetables. We didn't know about smoothies back then, so I actually just chewed up like a couple pounds of veggies a day, a gallon of water a day, the whole shebang, and I exercised. And in three and a half months, I went from a size 11 to a size three. I was totally ripped, I felt great. And that was actually the most powerful part for me, was that I was now an intern in the hospital, I was working 30-hour shifts multiple days a week, and I had no joint pain, I had no headaches, I had tons of energy, so much energy that my chairman of my department was concerned about me like I was manic or something because I wasn't appropriately depressed and exhausted like all the other interns.
Matt: Something must be off here.
Dr. Brooke Goldner: Never seen someone so cheerful. And her even asked me, he said, "Are you okay? Because you're just way too happy and enthusiastic. Everyone else, look how depressed and unhappy they look." And he said, "What's going on there?" I said, "I feel great. Plus, this is my dream to be a doctor, I'm living my dream. Why would I be upset?" He's like, "All right." Of course, I became the first solo chief resident, they came to rely on that energy. But in the beginning, they were just, "She's weird." But I felt so good, I could work a 30-hour shift and then go to the gym.
I couldn't believe how good I felt. And so at this point, right before the wedding, I go to the doctor, and it was a new doctor because I had done all my training in Pennsylvania, I went to California to do my residency at UCLA Harbor. It was enough with the winter. And I normally I got blood tests every month. Ever since I was 16, I got blood tests every month because they never knew what was going to happen to me. The kidneys are going, the blood clots are going, so they just watched me closely. But when I got to California, I found a rheumatologist, he retired, and so now I had this gap.
So I had this like three and a half month gap between blood tests just about this time. So I went to get the blood test at this brand new doctor, and the blood tests were negative for lupus, which is really weird because I'd had lupus at this point for 12 years and I'd almost died many times. So it was just weird. And so they thought it was a mistake, so did I. And he said, "Enjoy your wedding, come back, we'll retest you again." So I went to the wedding, I came back, retested again, negative for lupus. Now I didn't have no blood clot antibodies anymore.
My cholesterol, which was high since I was 21 and my doctor told me it had nothing to do with all the cheese, it was just genetics, he said, "Blame your parents, that's all you can do." My cholesterol was now 156 and I still felt amazing. So at that point, I didn't really have any way to think or believe that I didn't have lupus anymore. I was now a doctor and the only thing I'd done was change my diet, and diet obviously has nothing to do with disease or I would've learned that. So we just didn't know what it was and I just figured it was a remission.
Now, I'd been in remission before and I still had all the positive blood tests. Remission in lupus means you're not currently dying. You can see you have it, and I would take something for pain. Like when my joints would hurt, I'd take something, my head would hurt, I'd take something. But I actually had negative labs and I had tons of energy and I'd never really let myself think about it anymore, I just went and lived my life. And after four years of negative labs and being in the best shape of my life, I kept getting fitter and fitter, I had abs. I got so fit at one point, my husband I went out to eat and the bartender sent over two protein shakes.
I'm not ripped like that now. And I felt so good. He really was like, "Is this whey?" I didn't know what it was, but I've always been that way like, embrace every moment because you never know when there's a bad moment. And there was just a lot of good moments for years. And so finally, after four years, I did what they told me I should never do and I decided I wanted to get pregnant. I scared the crap out of everybody. My doctors were freaking out, Tom was scared. But I was like, "Listen, I'm not sick. Look at my labs. Look at me. I'm not sick, I don't feel sick."
And it's so I got pregnant. They tried to send me to the high risk doctors, the high risk doctor sent me back, said, "There's nothing wrong with this lady. She's the healthiest pregnant person I've ever seen." Sent me back, and they all said lupus was going to come back when I was pregnant, it didn't. Then they said lupus is going to come back after you give birth, it didn't. I had a C-section because my son, Solomon, was butt first. If you met him, you'd understand, he's a... He met the world butt first so they had to do a C-section. And I was fine. The same day I was walking around. Tom's bringing me some fruit.
I only order fruit platters at the hospital. Don't even come near me with the other stuff. And I was fine. And then nine days after giving birth was my birthday, and my mom said, "Well, the baby's sleeping, go out with your husband. I'll text you when he wakes up so you can nurse." We went out. And it was the first time I put clothes on, normal clothes on. If you have a baby, pajamas and nursing tops. And I was able, nine days after giving birth, to put my pre-pregnancy jeans on like it never happened.
And so that's when my husband I both went, "I think something's weird here because I shouldn't have had lupus and not have lupus. I just had a baby and I'm fine." And he, at the time had the largest boot camps in Orange County, California, and he had women in his boot camps that were trying to lose their baby weight and their kids were in college. So he was like, "This is where... " He did a full photo shoot front and back, he's like, "This is going to be so good for business. You look really good."
So that's when we finally realized that something has happened because I didn't have a normal metabolism. My metabolism was responding in real time to everything I needed. Pregnant, I was pregnant, done being pregnant, made enough milk to feed my baby and donate to multiple families and able to immediately lose the baby weight without trying. And I had no antibodies, no health issues. So that's when it finally sunk in that maybe I didn't have lupus anymore. And that's why I always tell people, don't get mad at your doctor if they don't realize at first that you're well, it happened to my body and it took me like five years to figure out, "Maybe I don't have lupus."
And so that was, let me see now, Solomon is now 12. Since then, I've had another son, Alex, who's eight. It has now been 16 years that I've been lupus free. And after having my son, Solomon that's when my husband and I, who are both scientists, decided we needed to discover what this was. You don't get a gift and just enjoy it right off into sunset and not try to figure out what that was. So we both went back to cellular biology again and said, "Maybe metabolism is not just about fat loss and muscle building, maybe metabolism has to do with healing as well."
And what we discovered was we'd accidentally created the most anti-inflammatory way of eating. We still didn't bring it to the public because I don't feel like it's responsible. As a former sick person and as a scientist and a doctor, it really disturbs me when someone says, "I did this and got better. Everyone do what I did," and they don't know what the heck worked, what didn't work, are you better because of that, in spite of that, they just, "Do what I did." And some people get better, some people get worse. I don't find that to be responsible. So we tested it for a year with people for free, just putting people through it.
I gave a talk at The Lupus Foundation, people volunteered. And only when it was 100% reproducible that everyone who did it had reversal of their symptoms and their labs and got better, that's when I brought it to the public. And that's when I wrote my book, Goodbye Lupus, became a best seller before I published. I had like 100 followers on Facebook, no one knew who I was. It just was something people were searching for. And because it works, it spread. And everything that I've ever done is all spread word of mouth.
And it's just become this phenomenon where people all over the world at this point have been able to reverse lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, mixed connective tissue disease, all different kinds of autoimmune, plus diabetes, heart disease using the protocol. And I know that this is necessary for the world, and that's why I made a decision to share my protocol for free. And right now, I have it up for free on my website where I teach five hours of classes of what foods make you sick and why, how to eat to heal case studies in reversing disease, dozens and dozens of case studies. I do free Q&A's for the public.
But I do everything I can to share this information and to help people understand that this is the way, that there is a best way to eat. Not only for fitness, which is true for fitness as well, and my husband has shown that, that you can actually build muscle twice as fast on half the protein on a plant-based diet than you can using animal protein. It's really cool. His research is awesome. But that there is a best way to eat for human health. And there's no industry supporting it. Big kale has never paid me a dime, there's no big kale, there's no big brocolli.
Matt: Big kale.
Sarah: Big kale.
Dr. Brooke Goldner: Yeah, exactly. There's no big kale. It's nighttime here and I'm sitting here with you guys because it matters to me to share this message because there are people who are suffering right now who don't need to suffer, because they don't know what they need to do and they don't know how powerful this can be for themselves. So my goal is to empower and to teach people what they need to do to get their health back the way I did.
And as for the smoothie part, I figured out that most people will not shove pounds of raw vegetables into their mouth the way I happily did. So my husband and I figured out the smoothie solution that if we take cruciferous vegetables and dark leafy greens, and we shove it and put your elbow in it and put your foot in it and you get it, shove it down as far as you can and then you put in like flax and chia for omega-3s, you add water to it, and then you put in some fruit for flavor, you can actually get people to start healing themselves through a straw while they're watching TV.
So that's where the smoothie solution came from. And it's been revolutionary because literally, people who've never wanted to eat a salad will drink their greens if it tastes a little bit like a piña colada. So that's how I became the smoothie lady.
Sarah: What an origin story.
Matt: It's not often that we just allow an origin story to go as long as you did, but I was great. I was there.
Sarah: I was there for every turn, twist and turn.
Matt: That's a good story.
Dr. Brooke Goldner: It's a long story, and that's the short version.
Matt: The short version. Wow. That was so cool. Thank you so much for sharing what you did, and your story's incredible. And I think what better place to start with the impact of the diet? I think that is the common theme running through this entire thing. So coming from a skeptic perspective which I'm assuming you've dealt with many times, what is it about the diet and what are some of the people that think, "Oh, you've had this result just because of this." Or they try to oversimplify your amazing success and the success of your patients.
Matt: Where do we start with diet? What are some of the most common questions people have around it?
Sarah: And what is it about these smoothies that make them so powerful?
Dr. Brooke Goldner: I faced more skepticism early on. I don't really deal with that much anymore because the overwhelming weight of the results. I don't advertise, people tag me because they went to my classes and they're on Instagram saying, "Hey, I'm on the Goodbye Lupus protocol and my joint pain's gone, my ANA is negative. The weight of the results speaks for itself. And that's actually what I believe in, is results. Everybody can come up with a theory and people can read the same study and draw different conclusions, but results are results.
And everything I teach is based purely on that. And that's why I work so hard to make sure to weed out anything that could be just incidental, for example. And so the results have been remarkable. It really works and it works quickly. Why? Then you're getting into theory realm, but it's important to understand a few aspects of it. So when you're looking at nutrition, most people nowadays think about food more as a source of high, source of happiness, it's a drug situation.
What do I feel like? Nummies. They're not thinking about, what does this food do when it enters the body? When you look at us in a cellular level, your cells need certain nutrients in order to function properly. So that's really where my specialty is, is the impact of nutrition on cellular function and immune function. And when you get down to a cellular level, there's not a lot theoretical there at this point, there's certain nutrients your cells need absorb to function normally, there's certain types of fatty acids, omega-3s that need to be incorporated into the cell lining in order for it to be able to signal properly.
The anti-inflammatory immune system is built off of omega-3 fatty acids. So everything I'm teaching is cellular science. And it's one of the reasons why a lot of doctors love my classes because they finally can understand the pathways and how that works. And that's why a lot of even plant-based doctors when they get sick, they come to me because there's like this general understanding in plant-based medicine or plant-based diets that meat and dairy are bad for your health, oils are bad for your health, but then what do you eat and what is optimal?
There's so many different ways to eat plant. So you can eat beans and rice every day, you can eat French fries, you can eat salads. They're not all the same. So when you're looking at cellular function, you need vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, all these different kinds of phytonutrients. Well, where do you get the highest dose of those phytonutrients? Cruciferous vegetables, slam dunk, no contest. There's just no contest. You take kale versus anybody, you're not going to win in terms of the nutrient density. If you're trying to restore health from a body that's been malnourished for 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 years, you need the highest dose you can possibly get.
So that's why I use cruciferous vegetables. Just logically speaking, let's just go for the strongest dose. If you had a terrible headache and you were going to take Tylenol, would you lick one Tylenol or would you take two or three? So if you're trying to restore nutrition, we got to really go high on the nourishment. And actually what I call it is hyper nourishment. It's an intentional overdose and the nutrition your body uses to repair itself. So the hyper nourishment of the cruciferous vegetables, and dark leafy cream. So spinach, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, those the most common ones people use.
I just had somebody do my Rapid Recovery program who picked kohlrabi as her main vegetable, and one person who picked radishes. But other than those two, most people stick with kale, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage. I can't eat that much radish, woo, spicy. But all of these things are very nutrient dense. Then you look at, okay, I need omega-3 fatty acids because otherwise, the membranes of my cells will be too stiff and cellular signals will bounce off. And so you're working out really hard, send a signal for fat release, bounces off the cell, guess what's not going to happen? Fat release. Same thing with healing.
So omega-3 fatty acids, flax, chia seeds have the highest dose. Now, naturally humans probably wouldn't eat large amounts of flax and chia, but if you go back to how we would eat in nature. So if you ever watch like Naked and Afraid, they're out there, what are they surrounded by? Leaves mostly, and maybe they'll get lucky and find some berries. But if we were just eating in nature, then the majority of what we'd be eating would be leafy greens because that's the most abundant. Maybe some fruits, maybe we'd get lucky and find a nut tree here or there.
But actually in leaves, there's plenty of omega-3 and omega-6 to have the right balance for our immune function. But one of the things humans do is we hack into our neural pathways that give us the most high. I remember in medical school reading about how they found Egyptian hieroglyphics from ancient Egypt on how to make beer. Humans have been looking for a way to take stuff like grain and make it into beer, to take a leaf that help them stay up all night and dance around the fire and snort it up their nose.
We are always looking for ways to take things that naturally would be fine and turn it into ways to overdo it to get high in a way that will also kill us. That is part of human nature. That's how we do it.
Matt: It's not fun.
Sarah: How do you do that?
Dr. Brooke Goldner: Because we figured out how to hit that pathway. Just like those lab experiments with the rats where they give them cocaine or food, they'll pick cocaine until they die. And then humans go, "Oh, those rats." But we do the same thing except it's cheeseburgers. You eat the cheeseburgers so you have a heart attack, diabetes and cancer. Why? Not because you think it's healthy, but because you'd rather get high, your body is attuned to it. So we figured out that if we eat large amounts of meat and dairy and oils, we get really high. When you eat kale, there's no buzz.
So the meat and the dairy and the oils are very high in omega-6. Now, omega-6 creates our inflammatory immune system. Very important. If you have a virus, you need the inflammatory immune system. If you bang your knee, it gets inflamed. Why? The immune system's going in to repair it. Problem is if you're feeding your inflammatory immune system every time you eat, it's gets out of control, and it starts actually causing damage and activating genes for disease rather than just doing the job that was designed for.
Now, you're supposed to have a balance between your inflammatory and anti-inflammatory immune system, but both of those systems are dependent on what you eat. So omega-6, meat, dairy, processed foods, oil, omega-3, flax, chia, tiny bit in the leaves. Who's eating leaves? It gets way off balance. So there's been some, this is theoretical, some theory that to have the right balance between those two, you need about a nine to one to a one to one ratio of omega-6 to omega-3. People that I've seen that have been willing to test those numbers, you don't need to, but some people want to test it, I have seen anywhere from 40 to one to 200 to one omega-6 to omega-3.
And I actually believe this is the because of chronic disease. I think it's manmade, because once we fix those ratios and optimize nourishment, then we can restore it. Those genes for disease stop being activated and people can go back to a healthy body, even people like me that have been sick for a dozen years can be healthy again because they corrected the problem. So those nutrients are all necessary for cellular functions, for immune function, and so it's all really scientific. And that's why I have a specific protocol, it's not a just general eat plants thing.
It's if you add these nutrients to your body, you're going to activate cellular repair and your anti-inflammatory immune system. And everyone who does that will have that result. That's cellular science, that is input equals output every single time. And that's the way it works.
Sarah: I'm with you with the like kale, spinach, cabbage, but broccoli in the smoothie, what does that taste like? Is that stinky?
Dr. Brooke Goldner: Oh, I don't put broccoli in a smoothie personally. I have people who do, for me, I like broccoli with a big bowl of guacamole, because it can really hold a lot of guac. Anything that delivers max guacamole into my body is a favor of mine. I don't blend it. I don't like it blended.
Sarah: All right. Got you.
Matt: Here at the Goodness Lover family, we're a nerdy bunch. I know you're maybe hanging off whether I should go too hardcore with the science, go for it. The floor is yours. Tell us about this cellular metabolism and what is happening exactly when we take a smoothie like this and how is it generating so much energy? How does it give us six packs? Really, the root of my question.
Dr. Brooke Goldner: You'll have to interview Thomas for that. Really, I don't think you have to get into the cell for this. Like I said, when you start incorporating the smoothies, the smoothie is a way to integrate these high nutrient vegetables, the omega-3 fatty acid acids and the hydration. Most people don't talk about hydration. Everyone's trying to do research on which tea is the best for you. I don't give a crap about if you drink tea or not, what I care about is your water intake because water is necessary for all the chemical reactions that take place for eliminating inflammation, cellular repair, and to help you get your six pack.
All of those require water. And a lot of people in fitness have known this a long time. They don't know why, but people in fitness know, like drink a gallon of water a day. Why? I don't know, it just works, works. Because people who are in fitness, all they care about is what works. You don't need to know how a car works to drive it. So they just know like, "I'd eat these certain foods this many times a day, I drink my water and I can make this result." Now, there's a lot of ways to hack the body in terms of physical appearance actually. You can create a really muscular body with many different types of eating.
And I think people get misled often by that because they'll say, "Oh, well, when I was eating paleo or keto, I was able to get a six pack and I was able to eat bacon and cheese. So I'll just do that." And I was recently on Fox News, they asked me to debate a keto doctor, and boy, is that frustrating? But he was saying that the optimal thing to do for weight loss is to eat tons and tons of meat and fat and dairy and just avoid fruit and minimize your intake of plants. And he's right, it works. You can absolutely build muscle and lose fat eating that way.
The ketogenic pathway is supposed to be the emergency backup system of our body. You don't want to run your house on the emergency batteries. You want to run your house on the power source that it was meant to run on. But we do have this backup power source called keto, the ketogenic pathway. Anyway, what I said to him was, "Listen, there's lots of ways that you can lose a lot of weight while increasing your risk of cancer and heart disease like smoking. You can smoke your weight thin too, or you can eat bacon. But there's also ways that you can get fit and lose fat by optimizing your nourishment and reduce your chance of getting heart disease and cancer."
For example, the only food that's ever been shown to be anti-cancer, literally kills cancer is cruciferous vegetables. So if you could lose weight on cruciferous vegetables or something that's been shown to be classified as a carcinogen, the same as cigarettes and asbestos by the World's Health Organization like bacon, which one do you want to do? I want to live as long as I can. So we can make ourselves look fitter many different ways, but that doesn't mean you're healthy.
And I think one of the biggest things that shows this right now, you want me to nerd out for you a bit, they recently had a study that the British Medical Journal published where these doctors studied, 3,000 doctors on the frontline treating COVID right when it first came out, so not Delta variant, this was like first wave. And it was just under 3,000 doctors and nurses on the front lines. And they made sure that they were taking into account PPE and diseases, and weight and all that kind of stuff.
So they could really isolate the impact of diet and developing moderate to severe COVID. Really, really interesting study that I love because it showcases another example of what I've been teaching about the immune system and how the immune system does not function properly with meat and dairy and functions better on plants. So what they found was that out of this almost 3,000 people, that those that identified as plant-based or vegan, they didn't ask what they ate, so we don't know if they were French fry vegans, or if they were plant-based or if they were smoothie people, we don't know.
But anyone who identified as vegan, what they found was they had 73% lower chance of developing moderate to severe COVID compared to everyone else. 73% is a huge, huge difference. Then they looked at the people who identified as pescatarian. So pescatarian means no dairy, no eggs, but plants plus fish. A lot of people think fish helps them be healthier. What they found was those people had a 59% lower risk of moderate to severe COVID. So better than everybody else, except for the vegans. Significant difference, 73% to 59%.
Then they looked at the doctors and nurses that identified as high protein, low carb, because since there's no nutrition taught in medical training, doctors are just as likely to be on a fat diet as anybody else. So they looked at these high protein, low carb people, keto and paleo types, and they had a 47% higher chance of moderate to severe COVID. So rather than a 73% lower chance from the plant eaters, 47% higher risk. So when you look at that difference, it's remarkable. And actually that I have seen play out. One of my husband's friends died of COVID who's our age, had a very successful fitness business, was a paleo eater, and he had no health problems that he knew of.
And within days, he was in the hospital, respirator, dead. So people think that they're healthy because they're fit eating this high protein, low carb diet, they think they're okay. They like "My energy's good and I'm low fat." But their immune system is suffering gravely. So the researchers concluded that it's nutrients, that's the difference. There are no nutrients inherently in meat. There's the vitamins, the minerals, the antioxidants, everything our immune system needs to function properly is in plants. So the more plants you eat, the more protection you have, the less plants you eat, the more risk you have.
And so I thought that was really, really phenomenal research. British Medical Journal is prestigious journal and it was very well done. And it shows what I've been saying even in reversing autoimmune disease. If you want to optimize immune function, you optimize the nutrition, you make majority of your nutrition come from plant sources, especially the ones that help you nourish the most or hyper nourish, and you eliminate or reduce the amount of food that you get from animal sources. And that's what happens with my clients is usually not only do their autoimmune disease go away, but they suddenly don't get colds and flus anymore.
I don't know the last time I had a cold, my kids don't get them. My 12-year-old up until COVID has gone to public school and the last cold he had, he was two. So when you optimize your nutrition, you optimize your immune function, and the results speak for themselves.
Sarah: Fascinating stuff. I know that you said that you have this protocol on your website, what is it, a blog or available to download or something.
Dr. Brooke Goldner: They are classes. I teach the protocol, like my book, Goodbye Lupus is my story, and then it has the six steps to healing with supermarket foods. The classes that I teach are all of those steps in detail. So some people prefer to have me teach it to them. People can always buy them. Most people who watch them for free, want them to own them because they need to see them a few more times. Apparently, I can say a lot in a little bit of time. But it's available for free for people to watch. And every time I put them up for free, I put them up with Q&A sessions because my goal is you watch them, you come to the Q&A and let me help you understand what you need to do.
And every time I do a Q&A, people from all over the world come. I always count the countries, at least 10 countries shows up. It's the coolest thing in the world to know that there's this worldwide reach of people who are learning and getting healthy. So if you go to goodbyelupus.com, you can always check them when they're up for free. They're up for free right now when we're recording this, I don't know when you're watching this. But I do it on a regular basis, and I do it intentionally with the Q&A's to make sure that people get on it and learn it and start taking action.
Sarah: Wonderful. And so if everyone listening, jump over to goodbyelupus.com to check out those resources, to get that a bit more nuance, if that's what you're looking for. But for our listeners now that are just like, "Okay, I meant to hyper nourish, we've got cruciferous vege, we've got omega-3s." For those that are wanting maybe a brief overview just to be like, "Okay, so what do I do?" I guess, what's an outline of this protocol? How long does it go for? What do you recommend if someone was to get started? Now I say, if someone's listening to the podcast right now on their way to the supermarket, what should they buy when they get there?
Dr. Brooke Goldner: Just go to the produce section. Always avoid the middle of the supermarket, nothing to see there. There's no reason. If it says healthy on it, don't buy it. If it says healthy on it is not healthy. They don't write healthy on broccoli and apples. My husband actually started a website that'd be helpful for people just looking for free resources. So if you go to goodbyelupus.com, there's actually a free gift area where there's videos of how to make those smoothie. And there's a video of me showing you exactly how to make it. There's recipes. There's more educational stuff, all there.
And the other place you can go to smoothieshred.com. So smoothie S-H-R-E-D.com. And my husband originally created that as a public resource. We are very much into service, and so he created this as a public service to help people understand how to raise the metabolism and lose fat. So it's all free, and we have free smoothie recipes there, free videos there on education in fitness and in health. And for people who want a community, it gives access to our Facebook community. That's also free for people who are all just looking to shred their way, shred inflammation, and fat. But it's a much easier.
It's a 75% greens, handful of flax or chia, fruit to make the spoonful of sugar to make the medicine go down, water, the basic structure of it. For people who are struggling with the taste, unsweetened almond milk takes the edge off. You can use less bitter greens like spinach instead of kale. There's ways to do it, but we have some recipes that are pretty darn good that make it taste good. For me, my favorite is frozen cherries and bananas. For some reason, frozen cherries and bananas tastes like chocolate when blended in a smoothie movie. I don't know why.
We had a very weird magical thing. My mom now only drinks that flavor ever since I said that, she's like, "Okay, convert." Or banana, mango, pineapple. So we use the frozen fruit because we're not using the fruit for the nutrients, we're using it for flavor. All the nutrition comes from the green. So that's a very basic way to get started. And if you make a blender like that every day and add that to what you're doing now, even if you eat everything else the same, you're actually going to start feeling better. You're going to get more energy, you're going to have better mental clarity.
You can even have weight loss and fat loss even though you're adding it to your current diet, not replacing anything because you're going to increase your metabolic rate. And then when people are sick, we take more and more of their diet to come from hyper nourishment. So I have something called Rapid Recovery where people work with me every single day. And these poor souls got another mother they never thought they needed where every day I'm looking over their shoulder, "What did you eat? How did you sleep? How do you feel? What are your symptoms?"
And I use pure hyper nourishment. So if it's going in the body is for healing, so smoothies and salads and other raw dishes, and optimizing all the other areas of their lifestyle that creates inflammation, because you can get inflammation from depression, anxiety, trauma. I'm specialists in those areas too. And actually Goodbye Autoimmune disease, my more recent book is all about the emotional parts of healing in addition to case studies, because listen, people who are listening to this podcast have actually listened to other things before probably that have been about diet, nutrition, and health.
So oftentimes, it's not even purely an information problem, but an action taking problem. Why do people sabotage themselves? Why do people not take action? Why do they keep putting it off? So that emotional part is really important too. And that's what I do in my program. It's four weeks one-on-one or six weeks in a group where I'm actually working every day on building up their emotional health and their happiness, because if you're looking for food to be your emotional partner, you're never going to break up.
So I teach them how to find joy and happiness and fulfillment in life so they don't need to find it in food. I always say, make your life delicious, not your food. Your food can just be food. It's great if your food's delicious, but you know what I mean? You need that for yourself. So go out and find tasty ways to live so that you can increase your happiness and let food just be what it was meant to be. So those are all different ways that I try to help people move past this and start doing what they need to do.
And that's very important because if you're really sick and I take away your only comfort, your cupcake, you're going to go back to it. So I know that we have to do those things together, but those people are in pure hyper nourishment. But for most people they can just start by adding what they're missing. They don't have to make these kinds of huge changes in their diet. They don't even have to become vegan or plant-based, but just start adding what they're missing. And what happens is, kind of the gateway drug to plant-based eating is you have your smoothie and go, "Wow, that felt good."
And then you have your burger and go, "Oh, I don't feel that good." And so it naturally starts to make you want to eat healthier. And I find that works better psychologically for people than if I say never eat those things again, that creates this opposite desire versus just naturally moving towards it on your own.
Sarah: I think I am a convert.
Matt: For sure.
Sarah: I'm joining the rest of my family. It looks like our family dinner will now just be smoothies.
Dr. Brooke Goldner: You got to be careful though. See, I won't drink them for dinner because then I'll be up all night peeing. I have the smoothie all day. So I love it because when you have a smoothie, you can work while nourishing. It would be really weird if I was seeing patients all day and I do everything online, I have an international practice and I have wellness and clients from all over the place, but I do it just like this, how I'm seeing you now. And I can just drink smoothies all day and do my work. And it's great. I'm still buzzing with energy. I just drink my smoothies, drink my water.
And then anytime I have a break, I run to the bathroom. But at nighttime, I switch to salad because otherwise I'd be up. One, I'd be way too pumped, smoothies get me really energized and this is the end of the day, you should see me when I start. So smoothie get me really, really pumped. And if I drink them at night, I'm going to start writing another book. So I have to switch to salad and calm myself down, take a hot bath, relax, and then I can get to sleep.
Sarah: Oh, so good.
Matt: Wow. This has been such an incredible interview. And now we have solved the riddle, our personal policy to understand the smoothie thing. And now that obviously makes a lot of sense. So thank you so much for everything that you've shared. I swear, we need to get you for a part two because there's so much more with autoimmune disease.
Sarah: I know. And then trauma.
Matt: And trauma. There's so much [crosstalk].
Sarah: The relationship with food. Oh, so much question.
Dr. Brooke Goldner: A lot of the news interviews I've done have been about the link between trauma and autoimmune disease because they're not exploring that enough, why did drugs work better on some people than others? Why does food work better on some people than others? If you don't solve the underlying traumas and anxiety and depression, they're having ongoing inflammation that's going to stop them from continuing to get better. It's like the nutrition helps, so the drugs help, but then they're creating more inflammation and it's an important part that has to be addressed.
And it makes a huge difference, it really does, because listen, you can choose happiness now, healing might take you some time, but if you can find a way to be grateful for your life right now, then not only will you be able to be happy, but that will actually accelerate your recovery at the same time. So it's a really important part of it. I'm happy to come back and talk all about that stuff too. I'd love to do that.
Sarah: I'd love that.
Matt: We'll take you up on that offer annually. Well, make sure you go and check out those incredible resources. Thank you so much for providing that at a free cost to the general public. And obviously, we can just tell from the energy, everything about you screams just you wanting to help people. So thank you so much for what you've offered us today and the journey you've taken on us. We loved it. We love listening to your heart, everything that you're doing right now is incredible.
Matt: And you may have tipped me over towards the smoothie thing, but the six pack is the main thing, definitely. So I'll keep you updated on that.
Dr. Brooke Goldner: There's nothing wrong with hard abs. It's my pleasure. And I appreciate you having me on, because you never know who's listening in the moment where what they're hearing saves their lives. And so it means a lot to me to get to share their story and to get to share the information. So I appreciate it very much.
Matt: That was such a cool interview. We had a lot of fun just listening. We just allow some time to speak as to speak, give people like her space to talk and to tell her story. And I think just through telling her story, you got so much out of the discovery, from the highs and the lows as to how she got to the point of being so successful, the protocol she's giving. And so please make sure you check out her resources. I think, what an incredible place to start, it's very controversial. I can't wait to watch the comments this week as to what people think.
Matt: Have you guys started the protocols? Obviously within our family, we have had people doing this. Have you had success with it? We'd love to hear from you. And give us a like and a subscribe. I hope you get on, this is your favorite show, why not? We'd love to hear from you guys. So like, subscribe, hit that notification bell, and we will see you next week.
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