Recently I interviewed Dr. Rajka Milanovic Galbraith, as she discussed the genetics of detoxification and how it relates to thyroid health. If you would prefer to listen the interview you can access it by Clicking Here.
With me, I have Dr. Rajka Milanovic Galbraith, and we are going to be chatting about the genetics of detoxification. I am going to dive into Dr. Rajka’s bio. She is a functional medicine MD certified by the Institute for Functional Medicine. She is an international speaker and mentor to practitioners as well as a high-performance coach. She helps high-performing leaders, celebrities, entrepreneurs, and CEOs regain their energy, so they can increase their performance, productivity, and impact. She has expertise in anti-aging medicine, nutrigenetics, bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, and peptides. She sees patients at the clinic she founded, Simply Health Institute, outside Chicago, Illinois, as well as leads group online programs. Thank you so much for joining us, Dr. Rajka.
Dr. Rajka Milanovic Galbraith: Thank you, Dr. Eric. So nice to join you here today.
Dr. Eric: Look forward to chatting with you about genetics, specifically genetics related to detoxification. Before we start with that, would you mind diving a little bit into your background and how you started becoming interested in genetics?
Dr. Rajka: It had to do with my journey partly, and partly others’ journeys. Like many of us in the field, I have had my own journey and health issues. What I wish I would have known was how deep those issues went. Mine did start with thyroid disorder, Hashimoto’s. I know that’s a large portion of your population. I just really wish I had known, and someone would have said, “It’s not your thyroid.” It really was the dysfunctional thyroid, but it was everything leading up to it that wasn’t identified by myself because it took me the better part of half a decade to train in all these things.
It was finding that 80% of the patients I could get better with a usual functional medicine approach, but you had this 20% residual. How do you get those people better that were maybe a little bit sicker and not responding to usual means?
I kept doing the deep dive, and it led me to the road of nutrigenetics. I studied under a variety of people. With the first approach, I got a bigger layer of people better. I ended up with an autism reversal. I say this cautiously; people say, “That’s incredulous. Are you telling the truth?” I’m not the first person, and people need to know that you can get reversal. Of course, it didn’t happen overnight.
It led me into looking more and more. The irony of it is that I looked at everyone else’s genetics but mine. Isn’t that the irony of it? I did a really good job with what we call the epigenetics. That’s having your diet and lifestyle influence whether a mutated gene actually is expressing. We do have the power to turn off defective genes. I didn’t really understand all the ramifications then. I wish I would have.
It would have saved me two decades of intermittently feeling very unwell and ultimately culminating into an issue where my liver enzymes were soaring, and they were entertaining a second autoimmune disease. It really had to do with my underlying detox genetics that I wish I would have known from the get-go that went from Hashimoto’s to infertility to vision-losing migraines to PMS to that weight gain that comes seemingly when you hit perimenopause, to you name it, to ultimately, this near second autoimmune disease. I thought I had autoimmune hepatitis. The statistics on that are if you are not on steroids lifelong, the death rate is 30-50%. It’s very high. I’m happy to say that by taking the approach I did, I never got that formal diagnosis. All the symptoms and numbers, the markers reversed. Never ended up on steroids. That was now over nine years ago.
Dr. Eric: Wow. You said 30-50%, if they don’t take steroids?
Dr. Rajka: Correct.
Dr. Eric: That’s extremely high. Of course, happy to hear that you were able to avoid the formal diagnosis and restore your health. You also said that you were diagnosed with Hashimoto’s?
Dr. Rajka: Yep, that was the first diagnosis. It took about 10 years for me to get that diagnosis. That’s how long I was unwell.
Here is a fear, and I’m sure some of your audience has seen this: You go to your doctor, and you feel unwell. They do the labs. I know because I was one of those doctors. They say, “Your labs are normal. Nothing’s wrong. Perhaps you’re depressed.” The worst outcome is they suggest you’re depressed and offer you an antidepressant. That was my fear. Being a doctor, my labs were suddenly abnormal. I used to check them all the time. They’re not totally normal, but I didn’t know what I know now.
By the time I got the diagnosis, the endocrinologist was a little more savvy. Even though it was more traditionally allopathic, he was switched on to following patterns. He said, “You’ve had this for 10 years. Look at these antibody levels.” It was really shocking, the contrast of how little sleep I needed. I was going from 10-12 hours back to a normal sleep schedule. My energy really soared.
Dr. Eric: A lot of the audience consists of Hashimoto’s as well as Graves’. Can you tie in detoxification with thyroid health? I’m sure some who are listening might not understand how this all relates. I could add my feedback, but I’d like to hear what you have to say here.
Dr. Rajka: I’d love to have the banter. That’s what makes these interviews so much fun. I’d be curious to hear your input.
As you know, thyroid disorders are on the rise. You have to ask why. There is a strong correlation to exposure to environmental toxins. We’ll highlight some of the big ones. Perchlorate is found in contaminated groundwater. That is one of the ones I can measure. Even for people who filter their water, they may feel like they have a good filtration system. I’m talking about more than the filter out of your fridge. That won’t cut it. More than a Brita pitcher, that won’t cut it either. I found high levels in people who are doing everything right. You have to back it down to if these are all water contaminants, we have to figure out a better water filtration system for you.
We classically think that the xenoestrogens, like BPA and phthalates, will affect your hormones. Turns out they can also affect your thyroid. What you put on your skin and clean your house with really does matter. All of these can take out the thyroid with a variety of different means and mechanisms.
I was that nerdy, geeky kid in high school and college. I learned all these pathways in biochemistry, but I didn’t know how any of them applied. I even have all of my notes from the late ‘80s. I am dating myself here. Now that I understand it, it’s so crystal clear to me what needs to happen to support first proper detoxification and things we need to be on the lookout for as clinicians if someone is unwell. You can reverse engineer it, meaning you can assume things based on symptoms and certain findings and labs. Sometimes, I like to look at the genetics.
Dr. Eric: I agree. Obviously, the toxins can directly affect the thyroid. You mentioned perchlorate. Xenoestrogens. As you also mentioned, it’s not just about the thyroid. Especially Hashimoto’s and Graves’, they are more immune system conditions. There is also plenty of evidence in the research that heavy metals, xenoestrogens, and other environmental toxins can also be at least a contributing factor, if not a direct trigger, when it comes to the autoimmune response.
Dr. Rajka: I always say you have to remove all the triggers. I look at about eight of them, and toxins is one of the eight. When I speak about detox, I’d love to segue into the general about detox, what people should know. One of the areas I have found an interest in is oxidative stress. Would that be okay?
Dr. Eric: Yes.
Dr. Rajka: We call general detox two phases, but it looks like there are three phases. Here is my theory on the whole energy thing. The majority of adults, and even children unfortunately- Children are probably worse because their diets are awful these days. If you’re eating a standard American diet, they are protein-malnourished and are not getting the phytonutrients they need. When you measure it, most adults are deficient in 3-5 vitamins and minerals. Top of the list are magnesium and B vitamins.
Phase one takes that chemical, whether it’s an environmental toxin, a medication, etc., and breaks it down into a metabolite. I always learned it was more active, but that requires B vitamins and amino acids. These are the things people are deficient in. B vitamins get depleted when someone is stressed. You start with someone behind the 8 ball, they get stressed, and the last two years put many of us to the test. Everyone had different levels of stress for a variety of reasons. You get further depleted.
The interesting thing is toxins play a role in taking up energy. Our mitochondria are super sensitive to toxins because the DNA in our mitochondria are not protected in histones. You get the environmental toxins taken out, and you produce energy less well. It’s a combination of things. You don’t have the vitamins and minerals to properly detox. Your mitochondria, which make energy, are taken out by these toxins.
The second thing that is high up on the list for phase one is amino acids. That is a breakdown product of protein. Almost everyone who comes to my clinic is protein-malnourished or has an inadequate protein intake for their weight, activity level, age, and disease status. That is pretty profound.
To go from phase two to phase three, this is my hero’s journey. It takes that metabolite and makes it water-loving, so we can pee, poo, or sweat it out. One of the pathways, and there are several, is glutathione. That is where I am lacking two full genes for glutathione recycling. The third remaining major recycling gene is defective. I’m really behind the 8 ball in producing it.
The way not to make glutathione is add stress to the mix or live an unhealthy diet and lifestyle. There are ways to boost it. That’s why I’m careful and look at that. For me personally, I supplement, but I know my genetics, and it’s not the right thing for everyone to do. It depends on the whole story. I caution people when I say that. This is what I determined for me.
One of the things in detox that will take out our body tissues is something called oxidative stress. The way I like to explain this is oxidative stress is very similar to when you cut open an apple, and it starts to brown as a result of exposure to the air. It’s the browning of our tissues, whether it’s our thyroid, and causing thyroid dysfunction; our brain causing some memory loss; our joints causing osteoarthritis. That’s the area I have started to get passionate about: looking at what causes oxidative stress. We usually think of that as free radicals. How do we clear those? What is needed in those pathways and processes?
Dr. Eric: Like you said, the increase in environmental toxicants obviously is a big factor in the increase of oxidative stress. The autoimmune process as well. It’s safe to say that anybody dealing with an autoimmune condition has some degree of oxidative stress. You said you’re missing two of the genes related to glutathione?
Dr. Rajka: Yes, two of them.
Dr. Eric: When supplementing, if someone is missing the genes, I assume they can still take something like NAC that converts into glutathione? Or would they have to take a liposomal glutathione or an acetylated glutathione?
Dr. Rajka: It depends. I saw later some data on how n-acetyl cysteine (NAC) can increase levels of cysteine and further lead to oxidative stress. Anyone who wants to boost production, definitely NAC is the way to go. I am on a very small dose at all times. That is what maintains me. If I ever go through a period where I know I am ill, I will up that dose. I am pretty well versed in turning mine on and off. I’ve used NAC before. I’ll add that when there is an acute illness, too. I do not see benefit, but my patients have. It depends on where they fall on the spectrum.
Am I moderately unwell? I probably just need to boost it with epigenetics, and NAC would be just enough. If you know the genetics and they are depleted, for all of my chronically sick patients, I have started to look at their genetics. I say, “This is what we would need as we are getting you better. This is what you need to maintain and support you to mitigate that relapse.” Of course, with the whole mind/body, diet/lifestyle, comprehensive approach. It’s not just supplementation.
Dr. Eric: Agreed. Diet also plays a big role. You can eat cruciferous vegetables and other sulfur-based foods. If someone is really deficient, diet is still important, but that is where supplementation might be important.
How about IV glutathione? Are there indications where you would ever refer people to get IV glutathione?
Dr. Rajka: It’s interesting. Some of my really sick patients don’t tolerate any glutathione. You have to be really careful to give them an IV. For some people, IV is not the correct route. There are innuendos.
As I was learning the genetics, I was in between jobs. We were moving from Boston to Chicago, where we are now. One of the benefits of the clinic I work at is we have IV therapy. That is one of the perks of the job. I did IV Vitamin C, which I’ve found huge benefit for when I am acutely sick. That has helped me recover quickly. I also did it with glutathione. I didn’t get that boost. What happened? I had my genetics reviewed with another person that was in the field. They said, “This is why. They cancel each other out.” I’m blanking on what that actual process was, but I was intrigued that IV may not be necessary for some people. I underwent six weeks of therapy and didn’t see a benefit. I was trying to supercharge myself but didn’t see a difference.
Dr. Eric: I’m glad you mentioned the IV glutathione, especially some people not doing well because it would be a bummer for someone to get it. It sounds like maybe they should try the liposomal glutathione first. Not to say that everybody should try that and then do IV glutathione, but if someone is considering IV glutathione, maybe try regular glutathione. If they can’t tolerate that then that is an indication they might not be a good fit for the IV glutathione.
Dr. Rajka: Yeah, same thing. If you are sensitive to a lot of inputs coming your way, there is a high chance you will be sensitive to glutathione. Always proceed with caution. I always say sometimes, in those who are chronically ill, to go slow is to go fast. It’s really a hard concept for anyone who has ever been high-performing to accept or follow. There is nothing worse when we’re on the road to recovery, and someone goes through the steps at a rapid pace. They are made to feel worse and worse, but they don’t stop. They push through. Then it throws them under the bus, and that recovery, for me, in a client takes almost twice as long as the original recovery. I really caution people to pay attention to how their body is responding to things, and to have that direct communication with me on how they are feeling. They are given strict provisions on how to increase.
Dr. Eric: You spoke a little bit about nutrients. You also mentioned mitochondria. That is probably a big way this ties into fatigue as well. With the environmental toxins affecting the mitochondria, potentially causing mitochondrial damage. If you have the environmental toxin exposure and/or nutrient depletion, either one of those can have a negative effect on the energy powerhouses of the cell, which can lead to fatigue, correct?
Dr. Rajka: Yes. Just add in the everyday life stressors, which further deplete your nutrients. It’s like this vicious cycle that can be hard to get out of.
Dr. Eric: How about as far as the gut? All of this is important, but if you don’t have a healthy gut, that also could lead to nutrient deficiencies. Even the amino acids, you mentioned protein. People do need to eat sufficient protein. Also, if someone has low stomach acid or other gut issues, they need to address that, or else that could be a big problem when it comes to supporting the detoxification pathways as well, yes?
Dr. Rajka: Yes. You already mentioned the first way. We absorb our vitamins and nutrients less well when you have dysbiosis or low production of stomach acid. That puts people even further less well able to tolerate being exposed to toxic substances.
Ironically, I was re-reviewing things with phase three detox. The dysbiosis will not allow you to do that phase three. Excreting it, transporting those toxins out of the body. I do have a “right order,” my 3D protocol. I do things in the right process. If you go in and detox someone from the get-go as a starting point, you can make someone very sick. It’s never the first thing. I always tell people a diet will detox you.
I’ve had one woman in all these years who ate so terribly that when we put her on a healthy diet, she complained vehemently. She was gently detoxing but really felt the effects of it because she had never provided herself with the right nutrients. She was probably getting a backlog of those metabolites and was not able to clear them as well. We had to back step. That was a rare scenario. It’s the right order, too. I have seen people be made worse if they detox first and not with all the support systems in place.
Dr. Eric: You need to make sure phase three is working, which makes sense. If you’re constipated, you probably don’t want to get aggressive when it comes to detoxification.
Dr. Rajka: Yeah. Having the appropriate nutrients, having amino acids, making sure there is NAC glutathione, making sure someone is sweating and hydrating and having daily bowel movements. Not being constipated. I always laugh when I say the only field we talk about poop as being kind of sexy is our field.
Dr. Eric: Yep, no problems talking about poop here. You said when you were giving your background, you had your gallbladder removed, which unfortunately happens to a lot of people. A couple of questions with that.
One question is if you take any support since you don’t have a gallbladder, whether it’s bile acids or anything similar. Also, if someone is having gallstones, and their doctor is saying they need to remove the gallbladder, not to say there is never a time and place for that, but if it’s maybe in the earlier stages or middle stages, and there is still hope, do you have any tips?
Dr. Rajka: I do. Back story there. We were abroad, and the only American surgeon that was there had left, and we were returning to the same spot. He had said to me when I was pregnant, “I wouldn’t operate on you here non-pregnant let alone pregnant.” He was pretty much, in his mind, the only qualified surgeon. I started to have symptoms right before we moved back. Ironically, I had an appointment with a naturopath and the surgeons. I panicked because I thought, “Oh my god, what if I get into a situation where it’s an acute gallbladder attack that is a do or die? He is telling me he doesn’t trust the system or the process there.” When you have a surgeon saying, “You have a gallbladder full of stones. Get it out,” and I wasn’t trained like I am now, you probably will follow through. Mine is more of a worry about what if? If I had time, I probably would have done what I do now.
Knowing genetics, you first want to make sure there is proper bile formation. You have to make sure you have adequate choline. A good source is the yolks of your eggs. Some people have difficulty absorbing choline. I am in this mix. That is why I developed gallstone symptoms when I was pregnant. I wasn’t absorbing the choline. Pregnancy increases the need for choline. I have a whole pre-pregnancy protocol where we support choline a little more to meet the needs of the pregnancy. That would have been my first port of call: supplement with choline, either liquid or capsule form. I still do that. Your common bile duct, which is what remains, does produce a little bit of bile. I augment and do bile acids or bile salts. Ox bile with every meal, so I absorb properly.
Here is the kicker. Even that took a little while going into functional medicine to understand that I should be on this supplementation. From a genetic standpoint, the gene that governs the choline absorption is PEMT. I do have the mutation. Typically, you will see that those with the mutation experience symptoms when they are pregnant and in menopause. Those are the two time periods. I had a young lady brought to me by her mom and said, “Every woman in our family has had her gallbladder out. I want you to spare my daughter.” The daughter was a teenager. We took a look at her genes, and now she is on gentle supplementation. We have talked about what you can do. I’m on those two.
That was also going on at the time of when I had that whole liver flare. I avoided the foods that would trigger it: caffeine, alcohol, onions, garlic. I backed off on those foods. Things like beets, beet juice, beets themselves were very healing for me at the time. Sadly with the surgery, I had my common bile duct injured, and it closed off. That will make you more sick than anything because it really escalates a backlog of everything. The bile, the liver enzymes shoot up even higher. I’ve had that duct opened twice now before I was in functional medicine.
Now that I am, I rarely get a flare. I know what my triggers are. I had one probably like six months ago. You better bet your bottom dollar stress doesn’t help that at all. I thankfully had a lot of gut healing supplies with me. I travel with a little stash of stuff in case my family gets sick. By taking the ox bile, the PC, I even had some Colostrum, which is your immunoglobulins, and a good solid enzyme, it passed very quickly. Now I’m just super careful. I just try to maintain that, striving for a healthy diet and lifestyle.
For me, if I strive 100% of the time, because I want to hit 80 or 90, I am on board and doing well. I shoot for 80, which means I will hit 60 or 70. I have more resilience to things coming my way. Even asa high performer, overscheduling themselves and being clear on what my mission and goals are personally and professionally and sticking to them. Saying no more than I say yes.
That’s off topic and not genetic. We are genetically wired when you are a high performer and busy to go, go, go, and do, do, do. It’s probably not the best thing for you. I know when I was growing up, it became fashionable to go without sleep. It was like this badge of honor or something. Now I think it’s just not a good health choice to make. It’s fallen out of vogue thankfully. In our circles, sleep is prioritized. So is preserving your most precious asset, which is time. You can never get it back.
Dr. Eric: I’m glad you shared that. I haven’t really looked into the research when it comes to sleep and oxidative stress. I know lack of sleep will cause inflammation in general, like higher CRP levels, I believe. I imagine also oxidative stress plays a role in that, too. I think it all does tie together.
Dr. Rajka: Absolutely. The other thing to know is there is a level of oxidative stress that is going to be okay. We produce free radicals every time we make ATP. A small amount of that is super important because that is how we fight off the pathogens, the bugs we encounter: bacteria, viruses, etc. It needs to be in balance. When it escalates, and you need to appropriately eliminate those free radicals that do damage, that is governed by genetics. I look at the pathways and just love it.
I tell people I had a woman who came in with autoimmune conditions. We did all of these steps without knowing her genetics, and then we reverse engineered it. It was really telling why I chose the steps that I chose, based on her history, symptoms, and labs. That worked. That is how I am able to reverse engineer. You don’t necessarily need it. In fact, I wish we had a better way to affordably measure which gene is expressing. I always tell people you want to combine symptoms with labs along with the suspected action of what the gene might be doing rather than just looking at the genetics, which are worthless alone.
Dr. Eric: Do you look at any tests when it comes to oxidative stress or glutathione? Some organic acids tests look at pyroglutamate. There is some oxidative stress markers as well on the Dutch test. They have the organic acids section that has an oxidative stress marker.
Dr. Rajka: Pyroglutamate looks at your need for glutathione, and it’s presuming that your levels of oxidative stress are high. On the Dutch test, one of the ones that you should pay real close attention to is it looks at damage to our DNA. That marker is called 8 hydroxy deoxyguanosine, 8-OHdG. If you have DNA damage that is present, you better say what is driving that? Is it stress, toxins, lack of sleep, lack of nutrients, inappropriate diet, dysbiosis? You run the list and maximize as much as you can.
The other marker I’ll look at on a NutrEval is a lipid peroxidation, so damage to the lipids on the body. I look at oxidized LDL, which is the bad cholesterol. You not only have to have an elevation of bad cholesterol, but a portion of it has to be on the small particle stick, and a portion of that is the damage. That’s a perfect storm. If you have elevation, a lot of damaged small particles, that is the storm for forming plaque and having that plaque rupture. Think about a heart attack or a stroke. I have had people come back with high levels. I am still looking at what is causing it.
There are ways that I mock that up, so to speak. There are various things I give. If I don’t know their genetics, I will use molecular hydrogen, which will usually lower it nicely. We have to figure out where this is coming from, or we will never be able to stop. “I will protect your tissues by giving you this.” If I know their genetics, I will say, “Hey, is it a breakdown of the super oxide free radical? Do we need to give you an enzyme called SOD, which breaks it down to hydrogen peroxide? Is it broken down into hydrogen peroxide, but you can’t clear it through your glutathione system, through another enzyme called catalase?” I look at the big picture. If I don’t know, molecular hydrogen has worked wonders. I can lower it in about three months. It gives me time to find the source. That is the most important question to ask: What is the source? Why is it happening to begin with?
Dr. Eric: That’s a good point. If you see any of these markers out of range, you want to know why, and not just give the person a supplement. On a short-term, temporary basis, it might be important. You don’t want the person just to take, whether it’s glutathione or molecular oxygen on a permanent basis. Ideally, you want to try to find the cause of the problem.
Again, that ties into the genetics because sometimes, we just have the genetic variations, those polymorphisms, where someone might need to take some support. You mentioned a short while ago that you do take a little bit of glutathione every single day, a small amount, just because of the two genes that you’re missing. Because of this, do you recommend genetic testing to all of your patients?
Dr. Rajka: I recommend it to the chronically sick and those that really want to mitigate any long-term risk. The two varieties now. People aren’t interested, and they have youth on their side, so those in their 20s or 30s may not need it or want to know it. Then we really hit the epigenetics: diet, lifestyle. Just by their markers sometimes, I can tell.
Let me give you a really simple example of genes. When we are trying to get someone’s Vitamin D levels up, so they have proper immune function, the range can be a couple thousand IUs a day to 10,000+. Those people who are needing 10,000+ typically have genetic mutations in either the way they are converting, or they are converting with their Vitamin D transported. There is a whole host of genes that govern that. You don’t need to know the genes; you just titrate their D that they are taking according to what their body is showing you that they need. In the winter, you will need a couple more thousand or more than you would in the summer.
So far to date, I have had one person, and she was another practitioner, have optimal levels without supplementation. She lived in Austin, Texas. She is getting sun.
It was so odd. We were living in the Middle East. We were out in the sun all the time. That was the only activity you could really do when it was so hot was swim in the chilled pools. My kids and I were all deficient despite the sun exposure. We all have those genetic mutations ironically.
I have seen a pattern where some of my patients who have the chronic environmental illnesses are missing the same two genes I am. I am starting to do some research on is that why they are so sick from it? Is that why they succumb quicker?
I talk about how we all have different detox buttons. Some of it is genetic, and some of it is diet and lifestyle. if you are small, you will present being ill earlier in life. If it’s medium, maybe a little bit later. If it’s large, you might be that one lucky person. I’ve had one in a career of over 25 years of medicine where he is the Uncle Harry who smokes three packs a day and dies quietly in their sleep with no adverse outcome. That is the rarity, and I wouldn’t bank on that.
Dr. Eric: I agree. Unfortunately, my mother smoked for 40 years, and she is still with us. She is 80 years old. No bad damage. Don’t know what the next 5-10 years will bring. She stopped smoking 10 years ago, but she did smoke for 40 years. Her genetics were kind to her compared to others, but you never know. Obviously, she didn’t know. She was just lucky with that.
I agree. You don’t want to take the chance. The good news is there is genetic testing for those who want to find out the information. Like you, I can’t say I recommend it to most of my patients. At this point, I won’t say I’m new at it because six or seven years ago, I did 23andMe, which they have since changed. I have recommended some genetic testing. I’m not at the point where I am recommending it to most patients.
If someone is dealing with a lot of chronic health issues, that might be something to dive into and see, especially if they can’t tolerate- You mentioned that you have people who can’t tolerate glutathione, but there are also people who seem like they can’t tolerate anything. in that case, maybe it would be helpful to take a deeper dive into the genetics.
Dr. Rajka: Like I said, the two varieties, the person who wants to mitigate any long-term risk. I am a firm believer that your thoughts form your words, and your words can change your life. I shudder to think what would have happened had I not discovered this. The genes were ominous. We’ll have to do that another time, maybe over a nice dinner or something when we’re out socializing. I like it for a variety of reasons. You’re right. It’s not necessary in every single person.
To speak to your mom, if I may for a minute. She must have excellent genes. We started running an epigenetic test for aging. It gives you your age based not on your biological age, if someone is 50, but it measures what your diet and lifestyle have done to you. How old are you based on the markers in your body? Smoking is one of the ways that will age you quicker than anything else since it is creating oxidative stress. That speaks mountains. Maybe you have some really good genes if they were inherited. That is one of the eight things we would do to mitigate.We just ran that test on me and my husband to see where we are at.
The other thing that plays into it is sleep and stress. As you know, the past two and a half years have been a very interesting time for a lot of us. I know I’ve pulled out all the stops. I laugh when I tell people, “When I’m stressed, I double down on the meditation.” It goes from 15-30 minutes to an hour when I can. It really does help me stay out of trouble, is how I feel and how I recover.
Dr. Eric: I am a big believer in mind/body medicine. What I tell people, if someone is not in the routine, just start with five minutes per day. Just get in that routine. I don’t want people to think they have to do 30 minutes or an hour every single time. If you can do five minutes a day, get in that routine, and once you are in the routine, you can gradually increase. Maybe some days during the week, you will do it for 30 minutes or an hour, and the other days, you do it for 5-10 minutes. It’s getting into the routine, like just with anything.
Dr. Rajka: I like your five minutes a day.
Dr. Eric: Everybody can do it. Everybody can find five minutes. I know some people find the excuse that they can’t do five minutes a day, but those are the people who need it the most. They need to do 30 minutes a day probably, but at least start with five.
Dr. Rajka: I have started saying: What is my bare minimum of the things that fuel me? I have a bare minimum for breath work and exercise. It’s interesting that when you set that lower limit, and you’re successful, then you’re able to increase it over time. I have found that sweet spot.
Another thing I will challenge people on is when you wake up and get out of bed, hopefully you’re refreshed. Say you don’t have the time even to do five minutes. Do 10 breaths before you even get out of bed. I have trained so long on heart math, which is one of my favorite things we teach every single person because the data is sound. I have seen people say they have meditated for 20 years. You look at their stress response, and it’s either in the gutter or through the roof. It’s not getting you out of fight or flight.
This is a tangible way to test. After a while, you learn what breath pattern gets you out of fight or flight. I can do those 10 breaths and know those 10 breaths are working. Think about when you are answering emails. Do a breath hold. That’s good not only for supplying oxygen and fueling your brain, but getting you out of fight or flight.
Dr. Eric: If you can’t find five minutes in the morning or at any time during the day, but I agree that in the morning it’s nice to start out with meditation or any type of mind/body medicine. 10 deep breaths is an option.
I chatted with another practitioner recently about heartmath. She is a certified heart math teacher. I’ve used Inner Balance for many years, too. Definitely supportive of heart math.
You have shared so much great information. Is there anything else I should have asked you that I didn’t ask you, or anything else you want to share?
Dr. Rajka: I am going to share three things that keep coming up when I talk to people who are thinking about investing in their health. A lot of people say, “I will DIY it.” Set a time frame. Maybe that will work in a portion.
Find that guide. It doesn’t have to be me or you. Find a guide you trust. It will take you from Point A to Z much quicker. My original guide led me on the diet/lifestyle path, but he didn’t really know all the rest of it. If someone had told me, “I am going to give you exactly what you want and get you better from this acute illness. I will also give you everything you need,” I would have said, “I’m all in. What is it that I need that I’m not aware of?” Sometimes, what you don’t know can hurt you. Find that guide, especially if you have tried to DIY this.
If you’re having such significant symptoms, and I view that as any level of fatigue because most people are fatigued and have acclimated to a lower level of energy, and they don’t realize it. I’ll say that again: Most people have acclimated to a lower level of energy and are already fatigued. By the time you actually feel it, you are behind the 8 ball. There is some kind of dysfunction going on with the detox that is affecting you, whether it’s your thyroid, brain, or joints.
If you walk in a room and don’t remember things, those are serious signs. Pain of any sort that seems not to respond to usual measures. That says there is mitochondrial dysfunction. That means there is a lot of oxidative stress going on. You need to figure that out before it gets into a serious state.
It’s mind-blowing to me because I know I can afford help and reversal for people. When they say, “No, that’s okay. I’ll deal with it in two years,” if you’re at that point, you don’t have two years to wait. I only say that kindly and lovingly because I see people on the other end of the spectrum, where they are so far gone, and it’s a real challenge to recover what little you can and maintain them there. Even that six months prior or one year prior. Just to take some of those symptoms that people tend to write off as more serious because they are.
Dr. Eric: Where can people find out more about you?
Dr. Rajka: The main source right now is DrRajka.com. That gives a wide variety of info. We have an energy quiz on there that people can take and other resources. I do have a professional Facebook page and Instagram that is @DrRajka. We are getting more up there with Reels and Lives. When we are busy clinicians, that goes in waves. I like speaking on podcasts like yours because it’s empowering to be able to convey the information so that I can open people’s minds to the possibility of how well they can feel.
Dr. Eric: Thank you for doing this interview, Dr. Rajka. I appreciate you sharing your expertise, not only on the genetics of detoxification, but so much more, like oxidative stress, which I know ties into that, and sharing your story about your gallbladder removal and how you support it. A wealth of knowledge.
Dr. Rajka: You’re welcome. Thank you for having me.