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Wellness Couture – Gut Health and Overall Wellness

Maybe you watch what you eat and follow basic guidelines. But do you know exactly what foods are best specifically for your body? Do you know exactly what time of day is best for you to eat those things? Is your consumption aligned with the body and fitness goals you have for yourself? If you said no to any of those things, then Cynthia Barrett at Wellness Couture in NYC has your answers. You can read as many articles online as you want, but none of them will tell you exactly what you need to know to make the nutrition plan that a trained nutritionist can design specifically for you.

In this Deep Dive, you will learn …

What is Wellness Couture and why did Cynthia start it (0:18)

  • Wellness Couture focuses on the gut microbiome and tailors custom nutrition plans for people so they can be more healthy
  • She started as a physical therapist and noticed that the problems people were experiencing were all related to gut health, which inspired her to learn more and become a nutritionist
  • She experiences different health ailments herself, which also inspired this career shift

Cynthia’s personal story and how it led to Wellness Couture (2:53)

  • She had food sensitivity and micronutrient tests done and it was eye-opening to realize that instead of the typical advice or cutting certain things out of your diet, it is actually more important to add things that are missing from your diet
  • Adding foods to your diet populates your gut microbiome because the more diverse our bacteria is, the healthier we are
  • She wants to heal the world one bacteria at a time

What is the patient experience at Wellness Couture (4:49)

  • Nutrition evaluation, full medical history, comprehensive micronutrient test to check for deficiencies and T-cell function, food allergies, heavy metals
  • Puts together a nutrition evaluation and eventually a comprehensive nutrition plan
  • Going to Wellness Couture is an educational process where you learn about yourself and so many of the things we are never told about proper nutrition
  • This comprehensive nutrition plan designed specifically for each client and only that client accounts for all of their daily habits, lifestyle factors, digestion

Cynthia gives us a lesson (9:25)

  • Leaky gut, what happens, and why it happens
  • Dangers of taking antibiotics, long-lasting impact of them, and the overprescription of them
  • How to combat leaky gut
  • Shows the report of an unnamed client who has high levels of Candida albicans (yeast) and explains what it does to us
  • Feeding the good bacteria to displace the bad bacteria
  • Review of micronutrient test and everything it indicates in a patient
  • Wellness Couture vs advice from a friend or “Dr Google”
  • Your health is your wealth

Changing minds about what making healthy decisions means (19:55)

  • Getting people to ask if they are earring real food or a “food-like thing”
  • Where is our food coming from and how is it grown
  • Making people think is this food actually good for us and nourishing our body or does it just look nice

Client relationship and continued advice (21:07)

  • Checking in with them biweekly to see how they are doing and get updates on their routines and habits
  • Ensuring that they are following a solid routine and helping them get back to where they want to be
  • Helping clients through empowering them to have a better lifestyle
  • Integrating wellness into all areas of life to help her clients regain a better life

Full Transcript

Narrator: 00:00 Let’s face it, you’re going to get older every year, but you don’t have to age the same way your parents did. Technology is giving us options. Prime connects you to the people, the science and the solutions that make getting older sexy. It’s simple, live longer, get stronger and love more.

Cynthia Barrett: 00:18 I’m Doctor Cynthia Barrett and I’m founder and CEO of Wellness Couture.

Cynthia Barrett: 00:22 Wellness Couture, we focus on the gut microbiome. So we look to see what’s going on inside our gut and that’s exactly where our immune system lies. We see if our patients have any micronutrient deficiencies, food allergies, food sensitivities, heavy metal toxicity as well as hormonal imbalances and we try to put together custom nutrition plans so that way they can be more healthy.

Saad Alam: 00:48 That’s very interesting. And tell me, why did you even get into this?

Cynthia Barrett: 00:51 I started practicing as a physical therapist and I realized that all of my clients, whether they’re pediatric or whether they’re adults. They all had issues and it all was related to their gut microbiome. So they were not able to function properly because they were not eating properly, they were not recovering properly, sleeping properly. And all these factors has everything to do with their gut.

Cynthia Barrett: 01:17 So then I realized, “Well let’s take a look at their diet.” And I would go into the homes and I would do physical therapy and I would see a lot of processed foods. I would interview the parents if their children had developmental delays and I would realize that they were not being fed properly or the parents themselves were sick or on particular medications that caused their children to have developmental delays.

Cynthia Barrett: 01:38 So then I realized, “Well maybe I should dig deeper and see what’s going on.” And then I started interviewing the parents more and more and I realized that it was what they were eating and what medications they were on. So then from there I decided to become a nutritionist.

Saad Alam: 01:54 That’s so interesting. And so was there anything that happened to you personally that also made you look into this real seriously?

Cynthia Barrett: 02:03 I too suffered from a lot of different health ailments. I was diagnosed with GERD when I was 17 years old, which was considered genetic, and realized that that wasn’t the case in my own journey. When I approached the age of 28, when I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism.

Cynthia Barrett: 02:19 So then from there I decided my wellness journey and then I realized that I really needed to cut out a lot of different foods that I thought were healthy for me because I was a runner and I was athletic and I was considered healthy on paper. But for some reason I still had to continue to take all these medications that lead to skin issues and digestive issues and when it really just came down to what I was eating every single day.

Saad Alam: 02:47 What did you change in your own personal diet that really just altered the way your own gut microbiome works?

Cynthia Barrett: 02:53 So I had the food sensitivity test done on myself as well as a micronutrient test and I realized that I was sensitive to so many good foods that … I mean, things like garlic, I never realized that I was sensitive to. The nutrient timing of foods, when exactly to eat, how to eat them. I realized that there were a lot of foods that were missing from my diet and that’s a huge component that’s not addressed and a lot of healthcare professionals miss it.

Cynthia Barrett: 03:21 They always think, “Cut this out, cut that out, count this calorie.” But it really comes down to what is missing in our diet. And if we do not have those foods in our diet we’re not populating our gut microbiome.

Saad Alam: 03:34 What does that mean, you’re not populating your gut microbiome?

Cynthia Barrett: 03:37 We are one big bacteria and the more diverse our bacteria is the healthier we are. The more bio-diverse our gut needs, what does that mean? It means that the more diverse our gut is the healthier we are.

Cynthia Barrett: 03:52 So for example, if you eat the same foods over and over again, you are going to be deficient in certain vitamins and minerals and then your body’s not able to properly function the way it’s supposed to. We’re supposed to eat in season, we’re supposed to rotate our foods and when we don’t do that then we are missing certain key elements in our diet that are going to cause disruption in our hormones, in our function in general.

Cynthia Barrett: 04:17 What I want to drive home to the world in general, is that there is a better way where we can cultivate more biodiversity within the world as well as our gut microbiome. We are all composed of trillions of bacteria and two to four pounds of it lives in our gut and I intend to heal the world one bacteria at a time.

Saad Alam: 04:42 So tell me exactly what it is that you do at Wellness Couture with a brand new patient.

Cynthia Barrett: 04:49 Clients come in with an array of health issues. Either they’re not sleeping well, they have digestive disorders, they’re feeling bloated, they’re just feeling like something is not right and they have been to every single doctor trying to figure out what’s going on and what’s wrong. They come to me, what I do first is I evaluate them. I want to get to know my clients.

Cynthia Barrett: 05:11 So first I do a nutrition evaluation. I want to know their pediatric medical history to their current medical history. Then from there I run an array of tests. Depending on what their clinical presentation is we can do a micronutrient test, what looks to see if they have vitamin deficiency, mineral deficiencies antioxidant dysfunction as well as their T-cell function to see what their immunity is like. I also run a food allergy test to see what foods cause an immediate response, why they’re having hives, why they’re going into anaphylactic shock, they’re not quite sure. Then we also run heavy metal testing to see if there’s any heavy metals in their body that’s causing some toxicity.

Cynthia Barrett: 05:57 So we run an array of tests. But I make that determination once I have that client in front of me because it’s not a one size fits all approach and some tests need to be run on certain patients and other tests needs to be run on others.

Cynthia Barrett: 06:10 Then from there I put together the nutrition evaluation once I get to know my client. And then the test results. And then I put together a comprehensive nutrition plan.

Cynthia Barrett: 06:20 For example, someone may come in and may have a sensitivity or an allergy to blueberries and they’ve been eating it all their life and I said, “Yes I know, but if you eat something every single day and you’re not rotating your fruits and vegetables and eating within season, it’s going to cause some sort of inflammatory response in your GI tract.” And this is exactly why I’m here to help my clients work through that process.

Cynthia Barrett: 06:45 It was through my own journey of healing that I realized this was my purpose, creating Wellness Couture, having a place where my patients can come in and they’ve been through doctor after doctor, not realizing what’s going on, why they’re sick and we figure it out together, working through that. And then when we reach one of their goals, even just a small goal, it’s a small triumph but it just is so fulfilling.

Cynthia Barrett: 07:13 I had a patient come in, he hit a plateau and he lost some weight but he needed to lose more. So he came in, we did specialty testing, we did the micronutrient, food allergy, food sensitivity test, we did the nutrition evaluation, put him on a six month program, he lost 60 pounds, 12 inches off his waist. He was scared to exercise. I said, “Why don’t you start walking?” He started walking. Put him on a walking program. That gave him the confidence to move forward and in addition to the exercise and the diet planning and everything else, he knew he had somebody by his side to help him.

Cynthia Barrett: 07:52 It’s an educational process when you come to Wellness Couture. You’re going to learn a lot about yourself. You’re going to learn about what you haven’t been taught. A lot of things that we’ve been taught have been through socialization, social conditioning, the industrial revolution, going to the supermarket, picking out a plethora of all these foods, but we seem to always gravitate towards the same exact foods.

Cynthia Barrett: 08:13 So within the specialty testing and the nutrition evaluation, I’m able to put together a custom nutrition program that’s designed specifically for you, taking into consideration what time you wake up, what time you go to bed, what are you eating before a workout, after a workout. When you go to the supermarket do you actually buy all your foods or is somebody else cooking for you? All these factors and lifestyle factors plays into a key role into how you’re digesting your food, absorbing your food. How you chew your food, digestion starts in the mouth.

Cynthia Barrett: 08:48 We release amylase that breaks down carbohydrates. And then from there it primes our gut to release protease to break down proteins, amylase to break down carbs and lipase to break down fats. And all these elements, it needs to work in concert in order for you to have proper digestion.

Cynthia Barrett: 09:06 So if these key elements of digestion are not discussed in terms of how quickly you eat, how fast you eat, when you eat, what time you go to bed, if all these things are not custom designed oftentimes it could just be one of those elements that’s off and that could lead to a cascade effect of health problems.

Cynthia Barrett: 09:25 Most of us have leaky gut because we’ve been eating the sad American diet, okay? So basically, here, you have the intestinal lining and there’s these tight junctions in the intestinal mucosa. Once we have foods that cause sensitivity or inflammation, it actually causes holes and it disrupts the intestinal lining. And instead of the actual food that’s digested having some sort of checks and balances from these tight junctions here it pokes a hole and goes straight through to the bloodstream and it causes some inflammation in our gut. And this actually can go to our joints, it can calcify in our liver, in our kidneys. And this is why we’re having all this chronic disease going on because of our chronic use of antibiotics from our diet and it just causes a whole dysbiosis in our gut.

Saad Alam: 10:16 Did you say that if you use antibiotics too much it’s not good for you?

Cynthia Barrett: 10:20 A lot of us are prescribed antibiotics for many reasons and they have a place. The problem is is that we use them too much. So when we use too much antibiotics it can cause leaky gut and what happens is it actually disrupts and kills off our good, beneficial bacteria. And then from there, they’re not able to thrive and populate and be able to actually then help us with our immunity in terms of fighting infections.

Saad Alam: 10:45 What’s taking an antibiotic too many times?

Cynthia Barrett: 10:48 Most of us are prescribed antibiotics multiple times within our life. Now, antibiotics are necessary for certain things. However, they really should only be prescribed for things that are bacterial not viral. And most of the things that we have are viral.

Cynthia Barrett: 11:03 So once you’re prescribed a large bout of antibiotics, just one bout of antibiotics can cause disruption for your whole entire lifetime and lead to easily getting infections, chronic fatigue. And you’re then overpowered by your non-beneficial bacteria in your gut and it’s really hard for your immune system to get back on track. And the clinical presentation is very different in many of my clients.

Cynthia Barrett: 11:30 A lot of my clients take antibiotics for many reasons and have taken large bouts of them throughout their life. A lot of times coming from an unnecessary standpoint. If you take one bout of antibiotics it could wipe out your gut bacteria for a very long time. So what we do here at Wellness Couture, we want to repopulate your gut microbiome through the proper foods, figuring out what foods cause sensitivity to avoid the leaky gut, to avoid having these perforations going into the intestinal lining and the intestinal mucosa and going straight to the bloodstream and allowing your body to do what it needs to do.

Cynthia Barrett: 12:06 We heal the gut microbiome in several different ways. One, we address what’s you’re why? What happened to your gut microbiome? Was it because of overuse of antibiotics? Was it because you run all the time and you’re now having colitis because your digestive tract is so upset because you’re doing this intense exercise? Is it because you were diagnosed with a particular disease or a chronic ailment?

Cynthia Barrett: 12:34 There’s so many different ways … There are so many different reason why our gut microbiome has a disruption, and what we do is we figure that out first, along with the testing, and then we decide what foods that you’re deficient in, we decide what micronutrients and vitamins you have deficiencies in and then we add them back in. And I try to do that primarily through food or with supplements because digestion starts in the mouth.

Cynthia Barrett: 13:01 So you chew your food, you break down your food, amylase is released to break down the carbohydrates. From there it sends a message to our gut to prime our gut to then release more amylase to break down, further digest your carbohydrates, protease to break down the proteins and lipase to break down the fat.

Cynthia Barrett: 13:19 A lot of my patients come in with Candida albicans which is yeast. And this client in particular has high levels of yeast. What is yeast? We all have yeast, we have good yeast and bad yeast. So this is non-beneficial bacteria here in our gut. And what it does is it needs to feed off of our glucose. So why are you having cravings? Why is it hard to, say, stay away from the bread? Why do you want more alcohol? Everything we consume has a genetic makeup and bacteria in it. And once we consume it, our bodies want it. And then they create some bacteria babies in our gut and then from there it hijacks our neurological system and it tells our brain, “Feed us.” And this is exactly why we all feel so guilty when we have a whole box of cookies and when we’re out there eating or drinking and we’re enjoying ourselves, but we’re eating a lot of very addictive, very high processed foods that spike our glucose levels and our sodium levels and we want more and more. And this yeast dictates to us what exactly we need to eat.

Cynthia Barrett: 14:25 So how do we change this in our patients? What we do here at Wellness Couture is we focus on repopulating the gut microbiome and feeding the good bacteria, so that way we can displace the bad bacteria. Because if we make the good bacteria strong, we help regenerate those good bacteria cells, we can then eliminate and kill the Candida albicans.

Cynthia Barrett: 14:47 So we also perform a micronutrient test. We want to see if you have functional deficiencies or borderline deficiencies. The functional deficiencies are the most important because those are the ones that are causing a lot of chronic health disruptions. So, we see with this client here, vitamin B1, glutamine, B6, folate, biotin, copper, these are things that I want to replenish, not through so much supplements, but through food.

Cynthia Barrett: 15:13 And I also want to address with my clients, are you sleeping well? How much alcohol are you having? These are things that are very important because this can also be very disruptive to our nutrients.

Cynthia Barrett: 15:24 Borderline deficiencies are also lumped within this test in addition to the functional deficiencies. And we find with our client here, vitamin B3, B12, choline, which is a metabolite, vitamin D3 are deficient. And what we do here again, I’m going to recommend for my clients, food. So I’ll pull up a list of vitamin D foods, we’ll talk about even going out and getting some sunlight, even if it’s cloudy out you can still get some rays.

Cynthia Barrett: 15:54 A lot of our disruption and hormonal disruption comes from vitamin D deficiencies and once we address that then we’re able to then have proper hormonal function.

Cynthia Barrett: 16:03 The spectrodox allows us to see what our antioxidant function is. And what that means is, how many antioxidants are you having? A lot of us, because we’re under stress, we go through an oxidative state. So we’re constantly producing free radicals. When we introduce more foods that are antioxidant rich, like berries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, they have all those deep hue colors and those colors help heal our gut and provide a huge amount of antioxidants in our system.

Cynthia Barrett: 16:32 We also look at the Immunidex to see what our T helper cell function is. So our immunity is very important and if our T helper cells are really low and they’re deficient, that can cause a lot of disruption and illness as well.

Cynthia Barrett: 16:45 So a lot of our clients come in with B vitamin deficiency, or functional deficiencies. So I like to tease out whether it is lifestyle related or it actually is a nutrient deficiency. So here in the test we’re able to see that it’s a functional deficiency, but if my clients are consuming a lot of alcoholic beverages, caffeine, that can cause a lot of disruption with absorption of our B vitamins. If you are not sleeping properly, that can also cause a disruption in your B vitamins, or over utilization of it because your body’s still trying to work with the processes that it needs to keep up with the day in and day out and our B vitamins are number one for producing energy. That’s why a lot of people are going out and getting NAD IV drips, because they’re realizing that once they get a boost of that vitamin B, it helps with our energy pathways.

Cynthia Barrett: 17:35 A lot of our clients who come in with yeast issues, you’ll find you have foggy thinking, constipation, sugar cravings and you just don’t know why. You just think, “Oh, I’m stressed. Maybe that’s it.” Or, “I have a lot on my mind.” But our bodies are meant and designed to deal with stress. It’s just a fact it’s the overload of stress, it’s the overload of this non-beneficial bacteria that’s hijacking our good bacteria and not allowing our body to do what it needs to do.

Cynthia Barrett: 18:04 We live in an age now where we have information at our finger tips. We go on Google, we try to become Doctor Google and we try to figure out what’s going on. A lot of my clients come in and they’re on a plethora of supplements that either their friends recommend or Doctor Google recommended. And what we offer here at Wellness Couture, is we offer concrete testing to see what nutrients you’re deficient in, what foods you’re allergic to. And then I get to know my clients to see whether they’re getting enough sleep. If you’re not getting enough sleep, you’re not going to absorb your nutrients. If you’re doing improper nutrient timing, you’re not going to absorb your nutrients. So a lot of our issues and dysfunctions that we present with oftentimes are things that are related to things that we don’t even think about.

Cynthia Barrett: 18:49 How many times have I asked my clients, “How much sleep do you get?” And they’re like, “Gee, I never thought that sleep was as important.” So once we get down to the root cause of what’s going on, then we can properly assess and evaluate and then provide proper solutions and treatments.

Cynthia Barrett: 19:06 So at Wellness Couture we believe your health is your wealth. Do you want healthcare or do you want sick care? Oftentimes people think that what healthcare looks like is going to the doctor and getting tons of medications and tons of supplements and that’s supposed to fix something. At Wellness Couture we get to the root cause of what’s going on and we figure out what specific supplements are good for you. What foods you’re missing and what foods you need to take out to be able to live a healthy and vibrant life.

Saad Alam: 19:33 And what people don’t realize is they are what they eat. And if you control your food really really well, and you don’t have to be maniacal and crazy about it, but you have to have a solid foundational base that you as an individual will be healthier, you will be happier, you’ll be able to take care of the people you love. Okay I’ll stop.

Cynthia Barrett: 19:55 I educate my clients and I ask them one question, “What you’re eating, is it food, or is it a food-like thing?” If you’re out in an indigenous population and you’re out in the country and you have no access to food, what would you eat? Would you be able to find a piece of bread? No. It comes from a factory. So we need to start looking at our food as, where is it coming from? How is it grown? What nutrients are in it? And then from there, once we realize what we’re really consuming in our body, we can make a conscientious decision on making better and healthier choices.

Cynthia Barrett: 20:33 So oftentimes we’re out with our friends and our family and we’re sitting down to a nice, beautiful, colorful meal and we’re sitting here taking photos, posting it on Instagram. But are we really focusing on, what is in this food? Is it healthy for us? Is it nourishing our body? Is it going to provide all the phytonutrients that we need? We should be eating the rainbow and the rainbow should not include artificial colors or sweeteners. But it should be including these deep hue colors that we need, that are responsible for the processes of all of our biological function.

Cynthia Barrett: 21:07 When clients come in and then they receive their nutrition program, from there they should expect for me to be following them at least twice a month. I want to check in with my clients, I want to see how they’re doing, what they’re doing. I will followup with them on their exercise routine, on their eating habits, on our plan. If we need to make tweaks, we make tweaks accordingly. I want to know where they’re traveling to so that way I can prep them for what’s to come. I want to look at menus to see what they’re eating. And I can help them realize and focus on the importance of not being overwhelmed by what’s on the menu, but focusing on what the key, core principles are.

Cynthia Barrett: 21:46 Wanting them to follow rituals. Rituals everyday is very important for them, because then they have some sort of set, solid routine that they can follow.

Cynthia Barrett: 21:56 I want to be able to help them … I also help my clients focus on what’s important and ultimately go back to, what’s their goal? Why are they here?

Cynthia Barrett: 22:08 I also teach my clients about even things that are not nutrition related. Like things like grounding, like actually going out there and trying to be more spiritually connected. Either through meditation, going out to the beach, walking barefoot, getting back to themselves and getting back to center will help center them in all areas of their life.

Saad Alam: 22:30 So you’re not …

Cynthia Barrett: 22:31 Wellness Couture empowers our clients to have a better lifestyle. That encompasses anything from spirituality, to what you’re eating, to how you’re sleeping, to what your relationships are. We get to the root cause of what’s causing disruption within you and tries to help you find a better way to be a better version of you.

Saad Alam: 22:53 That’s perfect. We saw here.

Cynthia Barrett: 22:55 At Wellness Couture we do not practice traditional nutrition and medicine. We go above and beyond. We look to see what the functional deficiencies are in your gut microbiome and bridge ties and connections into your lifestyle. Into your sleep, into your spirituality, into your personal relationships, work relationships. We want to look at everything.

Cynthia Barrett: 23:19 Wellness Couture focuses on repopulating your gut microbiome. When you repopulate your gut microbiome you have a better mood, you sleep better, you eat better, you’re healthier. And when you’re healthier you feel better. When you feel better you have better relationships, you’re more productive at work. We get to the root cause of what’s going on. And ultimately we help you regain a better life.

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