If my life journey has taught one thing, it is that the student may one day become the teacher. I have dedicated the last eighteen years of my life to seeking health solutions—first within my own family and later with clients in my private practice.
I did not set out to become a nutritional counselor or an integrative practitioner. I followed a typical path: I went to college and became a banker then portfolio risk manager. But life had something else in store for me. My son’s illness at a young age forced me to start looking at lifestyle and nutrition. Once I got started, I could not stop. My analytical mind made connections and compelled me to continue studying. Years later my daughter became life-threateningly ill from misdiagnoses and poor medical care.
I was a risk manager by trade, and I soon became a risk manager for my children’s health.
With the body of knowledge I have accumulated over the last eighteen years, I can explain what happened to my children, though I could not at the time. For my son, by age three he suffered from failure to thrive, had life-threatening asthma, had the bone density of an 18-month-old, and barely spoke. In an effort to save his life, steroids and bronchial dilators were standard treatment. This only made him weaker, disrupted his hormones and made him more susceptible to pathogens. In his first year of school, he contracted strep throat 11 times.
The foods I fed him, the vaccines he received, and his life experiences made him susceptible to pathogens and undigestible large proteins. His declining health led me to leave my career and seek a solution to his health crisis. He was my first and most important client. As I researched, studied, and learned, I discovered the foods I fed him made him sick. As I changed the way he ate, his health profile shifted in a positive way.
My daughter, who was healthy as a child, became septic after a botched wisdom-tooth extraction at age fifteen. She almost died. The severity of the sepsis sent her to the hospital where she spent several days. The antibiotic, clindamycin, saved her life, but it also shifted her gut biome, allowing candida to overgrow and cause a host of food sensitivities. Nine months later at a ballet conservatory, she was incorrectly dispensed a supplement which caused her liver to become toxic. She stopped having periods and could not regulate her body temperature. In addition, her insulin skyrocketed, she started losing hair, and she experienced repeated episodes of fainting. Because her immune system was compromised, she contracted E. coli from tainted food a few months later. Her blood work also showed dangerous levels of biotoxins (dangerous molds and toxins in her body). After no medical professional could get to the root of why my daughter became so ill, I delved into epigenetics (how the environment influences genes).
I discovered both my son and my daughter share three genetic polymorphisms with me. Polymorphism is a term used in genetics to describe multiple forms of a single gene that exists in an individual or among a group of individuals. In some cases, a polymorphism can manifest in negative ways. These polymorphisms were:
- Methylation is important in repairing DNA, turning on and off genes, fighting infections, and getting rid of environmental toxins, This genetic variance can translate to being less likely to digest protein as the body lacks methyl donors that support the production of hydrochloric acid necessary for digestion of proteins and for the breakdown of pathogens.
- Sulfation is an important pathway of metabolism for a range of internal compounds, including steroid hormones, bile acids, neurotransmitters, and small peptides. Sulfation is linked to asthma, eczema, gut imbalances and mental health imbalances.
- Cytochrome P450 Gene Family
- Someone with polymorphisms in this gene family may be less likely to processes drugs, substances, and toxins.
For my son, his poor detoxification pathways combined with his medications depleted adrenal function and allowed the pathogens of strep, candida, and mold to flourish in his body. His digestive system and gut biome took hit after hit.
For my daughter, a perfect storm of pathogens and liver toxicity shifted the expression in her genes and made her less able to digest proteins and fats. An interplay between bacterial pathogens and the Epstein-Barr Virus, the virus that triggers mononucleosis, combined to damage her digestive tract, tax her immune system, and cause systemic inflammation. In addition, her body was regularly producing excess epinephrine, also known as adrenaline—one of the stress hormones, because of her rigorous ballet training schedule. This excess epinephrine caused a breach in her intestinal barrier which further weakened her immune system. The excess epinephrine was further congesting an already delicate liver, making it harder for her body to process fats and other fat-soluble molecules such as estrogen, insulin, thyroid, and pituitary hormones.
My son is a happy and healthy 23-year-old young man who no longer suffers from asthma, eczema or failure to thrive. He is a Junior Olympic Karate gold medalist, a talented musician and singer, and went to a top university on a full academic scholarship. He accomplished all this after I was told he would never be normal. My daughter is now thriving at a top university, excelling in music, dance, and international policy.
My children have been my greatest teachers.
Their health conditions led me to seek solutions to their health crises. They both recovered from life-threatening illnesses when I discerned the root cause of their imbalances and when they changed the way they ate to support their unique genetic blueprint. I apply this thinking and approach to each of my clients. As a result, we have transformed thousands of people to better their health. My approach is so effective that I have coined it as the “The Cochrane Method” in honor of my children. Many practitioners from across the country shadow me in my practice to see how I look at the body in health and disease. I hope to create a practitioner model in the next few years. This method is also applied in my latest book The Wildatarian Diet: Living as Nature Intended. This book has pioneering research that teaches us that there is no one health food for everyone and how pathogens, stress, and our environment can influence our genes and therefore our health.
Both my children now live a Wildatarain lifestyle suited to their bio-individual needs and are thriving as healthy service-oriented adults.