Joint pain. Chronic fatigue. Hair loss. Eczema. At first, you blame it on getting older even if you are in your 20s. Now, there are just too many issues to ignore. More importantly, you’re tired of waiting to feel better. You won’t ignore these symptoms anymore. No matter your age, gender, or background, if this sounds like you, it’s time for a change. It’s time to ditch the toxins and finally come clean.
In the book, Dirty Girl, physicians and functional medicine experts, Wendie Trubow and Ed Levitan, let you in on the answers you’ve been looking for to feel your best, age gracefully and finally understand what your body has been trying to tell you. Along with stories from Wendie’s own detox vacation journey, you’ll learn what other patients have done to identify the toxins causing chaos and illness and eliminate them from their lives. This how-to book shows you what to focus on, why a personal evaluation is a must, and how to take the first step and the next toward the healthiest, happiest you.
This is the Author Hour podcast. I’m your host, Frank Garza. Today, I’m joined by Wendie Trubow. Wendie is the author of a brand-new book, Dirty Girl: Ditch the Toxins, Look Great and Feel Freaking Amazing! Wendie, welcome to the show.
Wendie Trubow: Thank you so much. It’s great to be here.
Frank Garza: Let’s start by giving our listeners an idea of your personal background. Can you just share a little bit about that?
Wendie Trubow: Sure. Is this professional background, personal background, or both?
Frank Garza: Maybe a little bit of both.
Wendie Trubow: Okay. I’m 50. That’s the most important thing to know about me, [that] I’m 50. I feel like I’m halfway there. I wanted to have a halfway-there party, but there was COVID so we didn’t. But anyway, I have a background in medicine. I come from a long line of people who went into medicine. I never wanted to do medicine until all of a sudden I was bitten by the bug in my 20s and I went to med school. I was always the— what I’ll call— the maverick. I thought differently. I asked questions that were differently worded because for me, what I always wanted was to understand why, why was something happening?
A little bit about me is that I’m very curious, kind of bordering on nosy sometimes, and I’m really into prevention. The start of my career was as a traditional OB-GYN and after about nine years as an OB-GYN, I transitioned into doing functional medicine, which really satisfies my need to get to the root cause of things, understand why, and fix it. Because most illnesses have their cause in something and if you can get to that something, you can fix the problem. That really appealed to me. I have been married to my husband for almost 19 years. We have four kids, eight chickens, and two cats. [My husband] wanted Koi fish, and that was where I drew the line, so we have no fish.
Frank Garza: I don’t even know. What is Koi fish?
Wendie Trubow: Koi fish are those orange fish in ponds, often in an Asian garden or a meditative garden, and they usually live outside. The really good news is we live on a tiny plot of land, and the Koi fish need more space, so I was saved by the fact that there’s not enough space in our backyard for the fish.
Frank Garza: For people who aren’t familiar with what functional medicine is, could you maybe define that?
Wendie Trubow: Sure. It’s a branch of medicine that’s about 25 years old. The philosophy starts with— all problems have a cause. Let’s get underneath the cause of it, find out what it is, and fix the cause. That includes the philosophy that what you eat matters and how you treat your body matters. If you don’t sleep, you can’t heal. If you’re a stress ball, you can’t heal. If you drink too much alcohol, you can’t heal. I would say that functional medicine has the philosophy that every person has a construct for what works in their bodies and if they honor what they need, they’re going to be healthy, and vibrant, alive, able to be intimate until they’re a hundred. But if they dishonor what their body needs, then they’re not going to feel well. Functional medicine’s goal is to have you feel amazing. Like a good wine— get better with every year.
Frank Garza: You have this new book, Dirty Girl. Can you kind of, talk about what experiences inspired you to write it?
Wendie Trubow: In functional medicine, we do a lot of data testing. We’re looking at your stool, your urine, your spit, and your blood. We’re looking in all the body fluids. Within that, we look at toxins. Toxins include heavy metals, mycotoxins— which is what the mold, if you’re exposed to mold— live in your body and they put out these mycotoxins, environmental toxins. That’s things like plastic, gasoline fumes, and pesticides. That will include glyphosate and all the herbicides and insecticides.
I have been doing this testing on my patients for years, but about two and half years ago I did the mycotoxins testing on myself and was positive. I’ve been removing it for two and a half years. Two years ago, I did the metals testing and that was positive. Then a year and a half ago, I did the environmental toxins testing when I redid the mycotoxins test, saw the same vendor and I said to my husband, “Oh my God! I am such a dirty girl,” because everything was positive. Then I said to him, “That’s the book!” That really was the impetus for the book, because I would say I’m the poster child for healthy living. I don’t eat gluten, I don’t eat cow’s dairy, I don’t eat sugar, I don’t drink alcohol. I’m wicked boring. I sleep, I exercise. My kids think that I’m like the police for processed foods because I don’t let them have it. I’m like, “Eat real food first.” And yet, I have all these toxins in me.
If I’m the poster child and lead this exceedingly healthy life— we eat almost exclusively organic food— how do I have all these toxins? That was the impetus for the book. Because of the niche practice we have, there’s no shortage of patients who also have these problems. We’ve been in this real journey together to get it out of our bodies and get healthy. My hair was falling out, I had 15 pounds I couldn’t lose. I’m not fat, but I just didn’t feel right in my body. That was it. That was why we wrote the book.
Frank Garza: You talk about that in the intro a little bit; how, despite being this poster child for health, you still were having some of these negative health effects. Did that actually drive you to get the testing? Were you surprised at what you found by the testing?
Wendie Trubow: I was and I wasn’t. I suspected I had mycotoxins because I’ve always been excruciatingly sensitive to moldy areas, so I thought that I was sensitive to that. And from a timing standpoint, we actually were in Paris about 10 days after Notre Dame burned down. I remember saying to my husband, “It’s so dusty here.” I didn’t think anything of it, but my hair started falling out about a month and a half after I went to Paris. I mean, I told you I’m 50, I’m a perimenopausal woman. Hair, and weight, and skin, those are the things that I care about. Sure, I don’t want to die of cancer, but I care that I look good. And my hair was falling out.
I heard this report on NPR that 500 tons of lead was released into the atmosphere with the burning of Notre Dame. All the paint vaporized the lead and it turned into dust that was more concentrated right around Notre Dame and then got less and less concentrated as you went further away. I said to my husband, “We were there.” So then I did the metals test and my metals for lead have been mildly positive in the past and then it was 25% higher. I thought, “Okay, I had an exposure.” And my neighbor took his house down. It was a post-war house, which had lead paint, and I was freaking out. Like, close the windows! But it was dusty and I’m sure we got some exposure there. It all happened at the same time.
I was not surprised by those results. I was surprised at some of the other toxins. I was surprised at the toxins from gasoline fumes, and instantly stopped pumping my own gas. My husband is like, “It’s more expensive,” and I said, “Well, you’re going to pay either way. Either we pay at the pump or we’re going to pay to get it out of me. Let’s just avoid getting it.” I was surprised by some, but not the others.
You Can Encounter Toxins In Everyday Things
Frank Garza: I’m curious, what are some of the most common mechanisms you see, these toxins getting into our bodies? You’ve gone over a few there with the gas pump and the fire that you were around. What are some of the most common mechanisms you see?
Wendie Trubow: Just to warn you, I am not the good news bearer, okay. I just want the listeners to be aware that it’s always— one of my best friends is reading the book right now and he said to me, “This is so depressing.” I said, “I know.” I just want to warn the listeners, it’s depressing. I would put it in categories. When you look at the heavy metals, the ones we care most about are mercury and lead. Lead comes from living in homes that have lead paint and as the home settles, the paint grinds at the intersections. That dust, we inhale it, we touch it, we eat it. That’s one way. Or doing construction on an old home and releasing that lead dust. Or if you have lead pipes like Flint, Michigan, that’s predominantly how you get lead.
Mercury is fish and fillings. I used to eat Chilean seabass. It’s been 20 years since I ate that. The heavy predator fish (tuna, mahi-mahi, swordfish, Chilean seabass), they’re really high in mercury because they’ve aggregated all the mercury from all the little fish they’ve eaten. And then if you’re old like me, you have mercury fillings. Those continue to leach mercury into your body. That’s the metals.
The mycotoxins is— it’s pretty common to get ochratoxin from food. It’s commonly found in grains because it’s just a moldy product. If you go down the line of, what are grains in? Anything that grains are in, you can get a mycotoxin, a mold from. Then when you go to environmental toxins, Roundup is the number one used pesticide in the world and that’s sprayed on everything. So, you’re getting glyphosate from any food that was sprayed. That’s that. Then any other pesticides, or herbicides, insecticides that were used. If you have landscapers who spray your lawn, you’re walking out on the lawn, then you’re getting exposed to glyphosate.
Then the other common ones— plastic is huge. Tupperware, putting hot food into plasticware. That’s a huge way of exposure. Single-use plastic bottles. If you sleep in a bed that’s not organic, it’s been treated with fire retardants and those are pretty nasty for your health. Then gasoline fumes is another one. Those are the common ones.
I see you getting more and more like not happy in this— I said to a patient, “You have really high levels of this fire retardant in your body. Did you just a new bed?” She said, “I did and it’s not organic.” I was like, “Oh God! No.” It’s really common ways that we get exposed to stuff and don’t even think about it.
Frank Garza: I want to ask you about how we can go through this detox protocol, build a detox protocol for ourselves like you mentioned in the book. But before we do that, one of the things I found that was really intriguing was that, of course, we think about these toxins being in our body as bad, but sometimes it causes other problems that you wouldn’t think about. You were talking about how the high mold toxins in your body were causing you to be more sensitive to gluten. Could you expand upon that?
Wendie Trubow: Oh God, yeah. It’s funny. I’ve learned a lot by experimenting on myself. I’d much rather experiment on myself than on other people, so I’ve started to really develop the thought process. I have celiac disease and it went undiagnosed for probably 15 years. Celiac disease is the end result of an autoimmune allergy to gluten. I don’t stop breathing if I have gluten. It causes all kinds of consequences, head to toe. I was diagnosed when I was 35 and I immediately stopped eating gluten. Because I was sick for so long, my gut was really sensitive, irritable, prone to— I don’t know if this is too graphic but, it was [either] feast or famine. Either I have irritable bowel and never got off the toilet, or never went to the toilet because I couldn’t go. It was really the far ends of the spectrum.
I’ve worked for about 15 years to get my gut healthy and had gotten it to a place that, it’s pretty good. But anytime I was exposed to gluten, it would send me off the cliff. The worst exposure I ever had, took me about three months to recover from. I had brain fog, irritable bowel, sleep issues, emotional issues. We can get into that on another podcast if we want to go into what happens there. Maybe we’ll write a book about that too. But anyway, I’ve gotten it down. Usually, before I started all this detox, it would take about six weeks to recover from gluten exposure. I’m super careful because that’s not fun. But what I noticed about three months into my detox program was that I had a gluten exposure and it only took me 10 days to get better. I was like, “Oh! What do you think that’s about?” I hadn’t yet tracked it to the detox.
Fast forward another six to twelve months, and what I noticed was, if I got exposed to gluten it only took 24 hours to heal. It progressively got better. Now, I’m down to about 12 hours now. For the record, I don’t eat gluten on purpose. But if I go to a restaurant and they use a pan that they fried something in that had gluten, and then fry my food— that’s the way in which I get exposed— what I’ve found through this is that my gut’s gotten a lot less sensitive. Which I never would have expected because – I mean, hair I can see, weight I can see, skin I can see, but sensitive gut just wasn’t on my radar. That was probably one of the most meaningful improvements because I was at a place where I couldn’t eat outside of my house. That’s so limiting from a social and emotional standpoint.
The Detox Protocol
Frank Garza: You say in the book, “By following a detox protocol specific to your toxic burden load, you can begin to alleviate the symptoms that have been plaguing you.” What might detox protocol look like for somebody?
Wendie Trubow: All right! Remember, I’m not the good news bearer, right? I just want to say that. Think of it in two phases. One, think of it like a bank account. Well, that’s a bad analogy. You first want to stop exposing yourself to whatever it is that’s building up in your body. You first have to test and understand the data. Is it the pesticides? Is it the environmental toxins? Is it metals? Is it mycotoxins? What is your problem? Figure it out and then systematically go through and pull off what is it that you’re being exposed to. We rarely ever use plastic and if we do, it’s not for anything hot. It’s for cold food. It stays in the fridge just as storage and it’s cold. Often, we’re just using glass or we leave it in the metal pot until it cools off, and then we put it into plastic. Things like that.
If you have heavy metals, for mercury, obviously you don’t want to eat those fish. If you have mercury fillings, you want to look at getting them removed. Then, detox is all about your liver, your gut, and your kidneys. It’s all about improving your body’s ability to pull out the toxins. The nice thing about the environmental toxins is it funnels into a pretty small group of supplements that you take. Keeping in mind, you have to do the lifestyle. You can’t fill the pump and then wonder why it’s not emptying. You have to figure it out and then it’s targeted.
There are some things that the general population can do that won’t harm them: Methylated B vitamins, a methylated B complex. People will know it’s methylated because it will say methyl on the type of B. But a B complex that’s methylated means it’s ready to use. That helps your body get what it needs to detox. That’s one easy thing. Vitamin C is another. Vitamin C is big now, especially because everyone is trying to boost their immune system, but it does also support detox. You can use glutathione, which comes ideally in a liposomal form— which means it’s absorbed through the skin of your mouth, but it also comes in pill form. Then NAC, which I’m not sure people can get— I know it’s been pulled off of a number of vendors because the FDA had questions about it. You can get it through medical doctor offices who sell supplements and NAC is a nice low-hanging fruit.
Exercise, sweating. Your skin is your biggest organ, it does a lot of detox sweating. People say to me, “I don’t sweat.” I’m like, “That’s not a good thing.” We want you sweating. Sweaty exercise helps you detox. Getting enough sleep helps you detox. There’s a million things people can do and a lot of them don’t require seeing a functional medicine doctor.
Frank Garza: Was there a specific audience that you wrote this book for? Is there a target audience or is it more of a general audience?
‘Wendie Trubow: Such a good question, Frank. I feel like if you’re human and you live on this earth, this book is for you because you’re getting exposed to toxins. If it’s on your radar, this book is for you. Because I think a lot of us feel stymied by, “How would I even address this? I don’t even know where to look. I don’t know the questions to ask.” This book really drills into how do you get the sense of whether it’s a problem for you? If it’s not a problem, great. But how do you prevent it from becoming a problem? What are the steps you need to take? I would say, yeah. Bottom line, if you’re human and you live on this earth, and it’s on your radar, it’s probably a good thing to read.
Frank Garza: You do a lot of testing with a lot of different patients. You’ve seen a lot of data. Do most people have a toxin in them at too high of a level? Do you ever come across somebody that is good-to-go? Or, is it almost a guarantee that we’re all hitting this negative zone?
Wendie Trubow: It’s hard for me to answer because the people who come to my practice usually are people who have failed out of the traditional approach, are frustrated, and really want to get to the root cause of what’s going on. [They] are tired of being told, “You’re just depressed or anxious.” The people who come to me are already a stratified group that is more likely to have toxins. But I would say— certainly for the environmental toxins— it’s very difficult, especially as you get older because it’s cumulative exposure. The more you’re exposed, the more it builds up if you’re not that adept at getting rid of it. I think most people are exposed. I mean, I definitely have people who can eat fish and do construction on old homes and not get lead and mercury. They have amazing detox. I would say they’re 10%, then there’s the rest of us who have something, some way in which our detox isn’t optimal.
Frank Garza: The book ends by discussing five core areas to focus on in order to live a healthy, vital, and long life. Can you just give a brief summary of what these five areas are?
Wendie Trubow: This is exactly what our practice is founded on, that your health is overall made up of these five core areas. There’s your physical body; that’s your bones, your ligaments, your muscles, how you hold your body, and how you move your body impacts the way your body functions and feels. That also impacts the hormones that you put out and the way you’re perceived. Having good posture, not being slouched, over making sure your shoulders are— I know, everyone always sits up straight when we say this.
Frank Garza: It’s automatic.
Wendie Trubow: Yeah. Get your shoulders back, head up. Big posture is hormonally better for you than shrinking into yourself. Shrinking into yourself lowers your testosterone and opening up raises it. Amy Cuddy’s done a lot of research on postures. She’s a great one to look at on YouTube. She has done all this research. That’s your physical body.
Then there’s the chemistry and then the chemical is where functional medicine really focuses on the data. That’s looking at your minerals, nutrients, hormones, toxins, your gut health, the system function, your adrenals, and your gut. It’s looking at everything about you to understand what’s going on. Do you have food sensitivities? Do you have seasonal allergies? That’s where that lies. Optimizing that is critical because if you have a severe vitamin D deficiency, you’re going to be depressed. Your bones are going to be weak and your immune system is going to be terrible. These are really simple core things that we can fix.
Then there’s the emotional. Think of the emotional health as your relationship to yourself. We’re often way meaner to ourselves than anyone else would be to us. Focusing on our mood and ensuring that our mood is good, that our anxiety is managed, that we’re kind to ourselves, that we’re doing what we need to do to take care of ourselves emotionally— that’s a core area of health.
Then there’s the social aspect. Some people really are islands, but most people are not. Ensuring that you have healthy and vibrant connections to whoever makes up your core community. I’ve said to people, “Go join a knitting group. Join a book club. Be with people who are like-minded, who you resonate with.” That can be religious or not. It’s not really about that, it’s about connecting to people.
Then lastly, there’s the spiritual portion of health. That could be religious but usually is not. It’s usually about making sure that you’re leading a life of purpose, that you’re clear what your purpose is, that you’re leading that life, that you’re on track to have a purpose and make a difference in the world. Because if you don’t have a future that inspires you, even if it’s, “I want to be my valedictorian.” That’s a huge future, but you need something. It doesn’t even have to be that. Something that draws you forward and inspires you, because otherwise, why bother? Why bother eating healthily and taking care of yourself if you don’t have a reason to do it? The spiritual aspect of health is critical also and they play together.
Usually, people have to work on about three areas to make sure that overall they feel great. Because we can work on the chemistry all we want, but if you’re in a toxic marriage— I’ve said to people, “I’m really sorry. I can’t help you until you get out of that job, or marriage, or situation because that’s more powerful than any toxins work.” It will shut the system down quicker than anything.
Frank Garza: Wendie, is there anything else about you or the book that you want to make sure that our listeners know that we haven’t already covered?
Wendie Trubow: The thing that I would want people to take away from the book is that it’s possible to get these things out of your daily life. Not just for the sake of doing that, but because it makes you feel so much better. I’ll speak for myself. My hair grew back, my rash went away. I stopped having irritable bowels. I no longer have severe gluten reactions. I lost 15 pounds. For me, that was huge. These are the types of things that happen for people when they get their health on track. It makes such a difference. The take-home message would be, it’s possible. It’s doable. It might be a little intimidating but it’s possible. Go step-by-step and you can get through it.
Frank Garza: Well, congratulations. Writing a book is such a feat, so congratulations on that. I’m so excited about what you’re doing. It’s been a pleasure talking with you. The book is called, Dirty Girl. Besides checking out the book, where can people find you?
Frank Garza: Thank you, Wendie.
Wendie Trubow: Thanks, Frank.