I rmet Kirsty at the 2015 Wellness Summit and after our discussion there, I just had to interview her so that I could share her story with our Changing Habits community. This interview is available as an audio file as well, but by popular demand, we’ve also made it into our blog for this week.

Kirsty’s story is truly inspiring and one I know a lot of mums will relate to. Grab your tissues! This is for every mum out there whose child is experiencing the types of difficulties that Kirsty’s children were experiencing, but knows there must be a better way. We all want our children to be healthy, happy and engaged with the world around them. There is hope.

Here’s Kirsty’s story.

Cyndi xx

 

Cyndi O’Meara: Hello everybody. This is Cyndi O’Meara from Changing Habits. I’ve been at the Wellness Summit where I met an amazing mum and well-educated woman who stumped me when I asked her some questions about live cultures. So, I wanted to interview her because her knowledge on bacteria in the gut and food and how it supports gut health is mind-blowing. So, I felt that it was important that we do some exploring with how she got to where she is right now. So, Kirsty, hello.

Kirsty Wirth: Hello.

Cyndi: Hello. Do you want to just explain what got you to this point right now? So, why are you making these beautiful cultures that I got to taste while I was at the Wellness Summit? How did you get into this? What got you on this path considering that’s not where you started?

Kirsty: No, it’s certainly not where I started. What brought me to this path really was I have had a lot of history with my health and it’s never been ideal. Before I had kids I was trying to navigate what’s wrong with me and I used to sort of have issues performing elite sports and stuff like that and I never understood why. With my training I wasn’t getting to  the next level and I couldn’t recover like my friends could and why was I having so much trouble with the food that I was eating and the pains and the aches and all of those sorts of problems. I just couldn’t understand. I was putting the effort in but what was happening. So, I had that as my sort of crisis and really struggled my whole life with weight and with aches and pains.

And then, when I had my children, it became very clear very quickly that something was going on with them. They were unsettled. They were colicky. They had all sorts of troubles. They really reacted to their injections and at around about 18 months, my son just left me. He completely just left. So, he moved into that sort of, you know, rocking back and forth and steaming and he lost all of his words and it’s just such a heartbreaking experience for a mum to have to go through that. And so, at age 3 he was diagnosed with autism and at the same time that it was happening, my 6-month old daughter had her injections and she stopped breathing and she had to be resuscitated like 13 times. And, if my husband wasn’t a nurse, I don’t know what would have happened because he was the one that was there sort of resuscitating her.

So, it really made me think like “What’s going on here? What’s happening with my family?” I’ve got this child that’s just leaving us more and more every day and I’ve got another one that’s reacting to these injections and really unsettled and when Noah was diagnosed at age 3, they said “There’s just not much you can do. You can OT and speak and all those sorts of things but you really have to prepare yourself that he may be non-verbal for the rest of his life. He will probably live with you for the rest of his life and he may not reach those milestones that you expect your child to reach.” And so, I sort of got to this point where it was like “Well, I’ve got two choices here. So, I accept that or I sort of get started on a different path and see what can I do about that.” And so, because I had just, finished as an academic at Monash University, I had that access to preview journals and to research.

And so, like mums do, I just delved in and just did anything I could to try and solve the problem. And, it turns out that poor Noah was just riddled with pathogens. He had, you know, clostridium difficile. He had really bad Candida. He had no Bifido strains. He had no E.coli. You know, when his stool sample came back it was like “Oh my gosh, how is this child alive? How is he functioning?” And, I got my samples back and I’ve got my daughter’s samples back and it was “Wow, this is, you know it’s just state of life. This is where we’re at.” More research led me to GAPS and we embarked on our GAPS journey and, you know, that was really eye opening for me because it was so traumatic.

When we put Noah on the bone broth and all those sorts of things, he was vomiting black biofilm, Cyndi. He was secreting, you know, bugs and all sorts of stuff that no parent should ever see. They should never have to go through that. And so, that was another a fork in the road that’s like you got to push through and you’re just going to put your head down and almost see this is a project as opposed to your child just going through really sheer hell and we just kept persisting, kept pushing and I made sure that I did too so I felt every single ounce of pain and all the stuff that he was feeling. I made sure that I understood that because he was non-verbal. So, I needed to go through that with him.

And then we embarked on making some food and he just, we just couldn’t handle them. And so, then I took a step back and thought “Why can’t we handle that?” And, started researching our genetics and we got our genetics tested and I started asking my dad questions about our family and, you know, who were your cousins that committed suicide from schizophrenia and what does that mean? Like, if I chase that down through the genetics of the family, are there any snits or are there any things that could affect Noah and could, you know, give me some indication on what do to next?

So we worked out that we couldn’t handle traditional probiotics and so we needed some that had the D-lactate strains in them. And then, also we are not going to submit these foods with just traditional, the you know, standard traditional probiotics. So then, I just decided “Okay, well, I’ll just make them. I’ll just get on these and I’ll find the best possible source, the cleanest source and I’ll get on there and I’ll make that happen.”

At around this time, we were working with a really cutting edge research center in Canada and we were really fortunate to be invited over to Canada in Calgary and myself and the two kids had a faecal microbial transplant because it was very clear that my kids especially, not so much me, but my kids when they came through that birth canal they were bathed in all the bad stuff. You know, there was not much good that they were bathed in. So, you know, Noah didn’t really have any bacteroides and as you would know that it’s very hard to bring those back. So, the FMT’s the best option for that. And also, he had really bad clostridium difficile and that’s, you know, the best way to solve that.

So, we went and did the FMT and, you know, he was saying a few words at that point but the next day after the FMT, he just woke up and he was just “Mummy, I feel so well today. I feel great.” “You can talk. Why didn’t you tell me that you could talk?” Like, so it was all up here. I mean, you know, it started coming out because he could produce serotonin. His gut was working properly. And so, we came back and we just, you know, we’ve had to change everything, Cyndi. You just can’t imagine.

We have chlorine filters on everything. We’ve got air purifiers. I mean I was so pedantic, it was, you know, if he’s not wearing organic cotton and, you know, and bare feet and we moved to a small seaside town so he was accessing all of those ions that he needed, all of that sort of stuff and, you know, we’ve got our little boy back. And, when we went to have his OT assessment just recently, the OT said to us, “You’ve changed the course of your son’s life. Like, he will now function, he will make those milestones.” And now, we’re just helping him navigate catching up. You know, he didn’t talk or really develop for the first five years of his life. So, it’s all of that sort of stuff. So, my understanding that got my gut microbiome, is a mum desperate to just get that family life back and to save her kids and to enjoy being a mum. That’s where it all started. And now, I just I feel so wonderful but I just want everyone to know that you can get that level of feeling and you can have kids that feel joy and that are well. So, that’s how it all started.

Cyndi: Oh, wow. What a story. I’ve got tears actually. You know, because it, I was listening to Andrew Wakefield just recently and Andrew Wakefield has been disreputed for his research on autism and gut and that was back in 1998.

Kirsty: Yeah.

Cyndi: And, he says in this whole thing that it’s important that we listen to the mother. The mother knows what is happening to her child. They’re not making it up about their gut symptoms and I think that, you know, as a mother what you’ve done is that you have created an amazing amount of knowledge in order to get to where you are right now. It is a mother that actually makes the difference, we’re the desperate ones. We want to make sure that our kids our getting well and I see that in you. Can we get back to what you were doing before this all happened? So, what was your degree? What was your knowledge? What was your job? What did you do before all of this came about?

Kirsty: I’ve worn many, many hats which I think has prepared me for being Noah’s mum to be honest. When I left school, I worked in Outdoor Education. I traveled around and taught rock climbing and we’ve lived overseas and climbed mountains and really just enjoyed nature. I just loved it and every time I’m in nature, I felt that I was the best that I could be.  And then, I came back and my first degree was in Human Resource Management so I worked in an accounting firm in the corporate industry and quickly learnt that being inside an office certainly wasn’t going to work for me. I lived in Darwin for a while working for an accounting firm up there and then when I came back to Adelaide I did Honors in Tourism because that was a really important area for me.

And then, I moved to Melbourne to do a PhD in Recreation Spaces and how people interact in those spaces. So, how, bushwalkers interact with mountain bike riders. And so, I did that and then, from there, when I became a mum, I realised that I wanted to spend a lot of time with my kids and not have to research and write papers and all of that sort of stuff. So, I became a PE Teacher and that’s what I do now. I have also studied to be an integrated wellness coach and so using all the stuff I gained along the way and I teach kids every day, health and PE. And that’s been really good for me to see, what is actually happening on the ground with kids today and it seems like every year, every month, a new child in class has been diagnosed with some form of label and I see what’s in their lunchboxes and I see the rashes and I see the distended tummies and I see all this stuff. I feel like I’m a bit of a gut bug whisperer in some ways, Cyndi, because I see these kids and I’m like “I know exactly what you’ve got.” Like that, I do really feel like I can see it and, you know, and for me it’s so simple like when kids put their hands over their ears, it’s not because they’re autistic, it’s because their B6 is being drilled down and they can’t manage noise because they don’t have the nutrients.

And so, with my son, if he does any of those things it’s like, “Get that boy some liver.” We need to get that nutrient up again because he’s stressed or something’s happening or he’s got microbiomes changed, has he not changed in 20 minutes. So, you’ve got to manage that. So, yeah, so I’ve sort of worn many hats and come along in that path and experienced lots of things in my working career and my greatest job so far is being mum to my kids.

Cyndi: Yeah, it’s amazing how being a mum actually changes many things that you do. I know doing Changing Habits Changing Lives was all about my kids. You know, how can I learn more information, even now as a nutritionist, how can I learn more information in order to feed my children better, to feed my family better, to feed myself better. In the end it was all actually about my family and myself and then the community just spreads and I feel that that’s what you’ve done is that it was all about your son and I’m sure your daughter had to go through some things too especially the fact that she reacted so badly.

Kirsty: Oh, she’s really had to go through it all and, you know, it was really worrying when she had those injections and she was hospitalised and then three days after that she just turned yellow. I was like “Why is she yellow?” And I know now her liver just gone kaput but it was hard for the doctors to explain why and they’d never really seen that kind of reaction before. And she had a damaged gut microbiome and since doing our genetics testing, her genes are actually worse than ours with the snits that she’s got. But, we caught it really early on but we have to manage every day what happens with them so they can be the best they can be. But, I don’t see that as being a problem really because, it’s funny, you know, she’s almost this mini crusader at five, like “Mummy, has that got chemicals in it?” And, “I don’t think that’s good for me” and she talks about her bugs being in a box in her tummy and “Mummy, I feel like my bugs have got out and I need to fix them.” So, she’s really aware but, yeah, she’s really had to manage it and it makes her a strong person.

Cyndi: So, we’re looking at your daughter being five and Noah’s seven now?

Kirsty: Seven, yeah.

Cyndi: Yeah and is he in mainstream school?

Kirsty: He’s in mainstream school. He’s talking, he’s just cruising along now. He’s doing really, really well and he’s now been able to unpack the trauma of what went on. Only about a month ago, we were sitting up on the rocks looking out over the ocean and he just started absolutely bawling. And, he’s like, “Mummy, you couldn’t hear me. You couldn’t understand that I was sick. You didn’t hear me.” And, I had to say, “Look, you know, I was trying. It just took me a bit longer than I thought.” And, he really shed all his emotions and “Why couldn’t anyone hear me? My tummy hurt. I felt terrible.” You know, he’s starting to really understand, yes, we were there for him but it just took us time and he couldn’t express himself and, yeah, he’s, you know, coming back and relearning and just becoming a boy. You know, he’s giving attitude, all those stuff that you get from a seven year old.

Cyndi: Do you know what’s interesting is when I’m looking on Facebook and I’m looking at people who are doing what you’re doing and saying “I’m not going to deal with, this is not going to be our life. I mean I’ll look at everything. I’m going to research everything and I’m going to change the course of my child’s life. And then, I see these other mothers on Facebook who say, “Why can’t you just accept your child the way your child is? Your child’s got autism, accept it and move on.” So, you’ve got these two trains of thought. Would you like to address those, address that other train of thought? Do you get that?

Kirsty: Yeah, and in fact, I’ve actually had to deal with that on social media in quite a big way just recently and look, I don’t want to change who Noah is because he’s got this awesome quirky personality. That is who he is. But, I want him to feel well and I want him to be the best that he can be. So, I think that I actually, in all honesty, I think that school of thought of “don’t change them, let them be who they want to be” is probably a fear of having to go through those really hard yards of helping your child find out who they are and making them feel well. And, to do that, the mum has to go on a journey to find out what’s going on with me as to why my kids are like that and I need to find strength and I need to heal myself to be able to get to that point, to help my kids. I think it comes from a place of fear.

Cyndi: Okay. So, can I ask you, what was the diet of your family before you had to go to GAPS? Where did you come from to get to GAPS? And, some people may not know what GAPS is but GAPS is Gut and Psychology Syndrome and maybe you can address where you came from and where you went to.

Kirsty: Yeah, well, we lived that standard Australian diet. We thought we were pretty healthy, but I’ve always been obsessed with carbs and potato chips and all of that kind of stuff, you know, the stuff that would make me feel good when I was eating it but it didn’t make me feel good afterwards. But, I didn’t really have a diet full of lots of vegetables and I didn’t have a diet that would nourish my gut microbiome and certainly not a diet that was going to nourish my brain and I see that now. But, you know, at that time, I just had a normal diet that everyone else had. So, yeah, so when we transitioned over to GAPS, it was quite prolonged, you know pulling all the grains out and pulling the fruit out and all those sorts of things. It was quite different. I’m really fortunate my husband is Swiss. And so, he was brought up on very similar food to GAPS anyway. So, when we would talk about fermented foods or Kombucha or anything like that, his mum was like “Oh, yeah, I was doing that in Switzerland, that’s no biggie.” So, you know, whereas my Australian parents were like “Oh my goodness, what are you doing? What are these things bubbling and fermenting on your bench and what’s happening here?” So, I mean to answer your question, we certainly didn’t have a diet of takeaway every night or binging on chocolate or anything like that. We weren’t sort of the worst extreme. I think it was just that I had a real passion for carbohydrates.

Cyndi: So, was it like breakfast cereals and low fat milk and toast and margarine and vegemite, was it that type of diet?

Kirsty: Yeah, just your standard Australian diet.

Cyndi: That’s not a diet.

Kirsty: Yeah, pretty much. Yeah, made me very sad, that’s for sure, yeah.

Cyndi: Yeah, well, congratulations on making that change. So, other things that we’ve been talking about, we were been talking about bifidus and E. coli and, you know, D-lactate strains. For people who are really wanting to understand the microbiome so much better, can we please talk about what you noticed wasn’t there. I understand you did the fecal transplant, perhaps talk about fecal transplants for those people who don’t know what that’s all about. And then, just maybe talk more specifically about the strains and why you started your business in certain strains. That’s a lot I know but I enjoyed what you said and I wish I’d had a recorder when we were talking at the wellness summit. So, let’s go there.

Kirsty: Okay, sure. So, when a baby is born and they move through their mother’s birth canal, they bathe in all of these good bacteria that really sets the scene for them to be able to nourish their own body and to digest food – it’s that scaffolding for a healthy life. A child that has a compromised gut microbiome, they don’t have certain strains and some of them if they have antibiotics at an early age or panadol or nurofen, those sorts of things will really alter the gut microbiome and we know that now through research and it’s very easy for someone to go and get a stool sample and culture, to find out what’s going on in your gut.

So, for example, if you have someone who’s having a lot of panadol or nurofen or anti-inflammatories then they won’t really have a lot of E. coli. And so, E. coli, it’s not the bad E. coli, it’s the good E. coli and that E. coli it helps sleep. It helps you produce melatonin that specific strain and it helps you with serotonin and it helps balance out pathogens like streptococcus, for example, and streptococcus is associated with those severe OCD disorders and schizophrenia and stuff like that.

So, when you get to culture your gut microbes you can see, “Okay, I don’t have any.” You know, Noah’s was at 4% and it’s supposed to be between 70 and 90%. So, it was a real problem when you look into that. So Bifidus, for example, that’s really important for digesting plant matter and especially for babies it’s really, really important for them to digest the lactose in mothers’ milk and for them to feel calm and settled and have that really nice sort of passed out feeling when they’re fed.

But, the reason why I started the Kultured Wellness strains was because I found from looking at the stool samples that we got and from having a look at what children needed to build that nice balanced gut microbiome, it was more the bifidus strains that you needed, not so much the lactobacillus. And, you know, it was the Saccharomyces boulardi and those sorts of things. And also, children that have already got a compromised immune system or their liver’s under the pump because they’re having to deal with all these toxins. They can’t handle the lactic acid as well that the traditional probiotics strains release. And so, I found a D-lactate which is easier for the body to metabolise and it’s anti-inflammatory, that was going to really help Noah’s little system to rebuild his gut microbiome but also allow his liver to have a break from metabolising all of those acids and all of those toxins that the gut was releasing.

So, the strains from Kultured Wellness, from the cultured status that we developed, are really for someone who’s got some real chronic illnesses or autoimmune conditions and it’s that real getting right back to the basics of rebalancing the gut microbiome as opposed to just keeping it sweet. You know, if you’ve got someone who’s got a really nice microbiome and they just want to keep it healthy, your standard formation food is beautiful for that. But, if you want to go in and really make a change and make a difference then that’s why I developed those therapeutic strains.

And then it’s at the point where sometimes some people don’t have certain strains in their gut, what’s called bacteroides, and they’re really, really, really hard to replace and that’s where the fecal microbial transplant comes into it. So, you’re basically getting a donor with a really healthy gut microbiome and you’re popping both healthy microbes into someone who just doesn’t have those microbes in their body. And, it’s like being in a rainforest and someone going in and saying “Oh, here’s some beautiful new fence and here’s some beautiful new flowers that’s going to oxygenate the soil and it’s going to create all this energy back into your world.” And, sometimes probiotics can’t do that. Sometimes you have to bring in the big guns and we had to do that with Noah and it’s often for clostridium difficile, that really horrible pathogen that you need to do it.

Cyndi: So, one of the books just out at the mument is the Brain Maker by Dr. Perlmutter. I read it when it came out and absolutely loved it and he is actually talking a lot about fecal transplants as well as probiotic enemas, which I found absolutely fascinating. You know, to get through the acid stomach, you know, we’re going to kill most of them off and the rest of them don’t even make it. So, I thought that what he was talking about was really making sense. One of the things that you just spoke about was you had to change the bacteria. So, a lot of, let’s go to gut, a lot of the gut bacteria is coming from yoghurts and fermented vegetables. What are you basing your cultures on? What is the main food that you’re basing your cultures on?

Kirsty: So, what you can make from my cultures?

Cyndi: Yeah, like what are you using? I know you’re not using plant matter, are you?

Kirsty: No, no. So, to activate our cultures, we use coconut water and coconut cream and the reason why we use that is because the coconut water has got all those beautiful hydrating electrolytes. It’s got a lauric acid, it’s got the caprylic acid and it’s got that sugar in it. The microbes love that. You can create all these beautiful probiotic drinks with really high potency.

And then, the coconut cream, having that fat is really nourishing and calming. And so, you see kids that have got a tendency to be quite high and really quite up, up. They have those calming fats and they just drop down and once again, the coconut cream’s got those natural sugars in them that the bacteria strains just love and they just grab onto it. And the reason why we chose to use those mediums is because kids love kefir.

They want to drink it and kids love yoghurt and they want to eat it and there’s so much fun that can be had with yoghurt. In our family, we can’t really eat much sugar, much fruit. But, if you whack it in and ferment it, then you can get all that nourishment and that goodness from those fruits and all those vitamins and minerals but you don’t have to have problems metabolising the sugar and changing the balance in your gut.

Cyndi: So, you’re saying you’re fermenting fruits as well? Is that what you’re saying?

Kirsty: Oh, Cyndi, I ferment fruits. I ferment carrots. You name it, I’ll ferment it because we miss those foods and I’m such a strong believer in ‘you don’t withdraw things’. You add nourishment. You crowd out. And, that was really important but we couldn’t do that with a lot of the food because they’ve got those natural sugars in them. So, typical me, I sat up one night and was like “Wait, how can I put that nourishment back in and not cause that problem?” And  worked out a way and it was to use these really specific cultures and ferment all those foods that we miss and so now our diet is really quite broad but it incorporates a lot of fermented foods.

Cyndi: So, you have everything bubbling on your bench?

Kirsty: Oh, it’s hilarious and, you know, you got to watch out because oh, one day I tried this new concoction of beetroot ferment and then sort of, “Oh, I’m just going to put a shot glass to try and hold down the cabbage at the top.” And, I went off to the city and left my husband and then he called me at about 8 o’clock at night and said, “It’s exploded.” All over the roof, all over the white carpet, all the way to the couch and oh, you can only imagine. Oh, Cyndi.

Cyndi: Oh my God.

Kirsty: It took me five hours to clean it up. All over the ceiling and I was up in town having a friend cook me a dinner. So, yes, there’s always something bubbling and fermenting in our house but it’s been a difference between us healing and us not because we’re still getting those nutrients and then we’re getting in those probiotics all during the day. Because there’s one thing about having just your probiotic tablet in the morning but that’s only going to last for a short amount of time and that was something I learned really quickly. You can have a probiotic and it would manage those little microbes for a short time. And then, when you go to eat lunch, you have to go again. You’ve got to manage it again. You’ve got to crowd them out. And so, it’s got to be in your diet all day so you’re really changing that increase for them. Then, if I can get back to your topic about the enemas that Perlmutter was talking about. I didn’t really know anything about that but when I just decided why not, it’s my husband, “Why don’t we just give, you know…”

Cyndi: How romantic.

Kirsty: Oh yeah, lucky he’s a medic so he doesn’t mind talking about this stuff. But yeah, we were just like “Why don’t we just whip up, you know, a concoction and, you know, we try it with me first and we’ll see how that changes the state of play.” And that’s when we sort of started realising, “Wow, this is massive. This can make such a big difference.” And so, that’s where we started with Noah was, you know, trying doing the enemas with the kefirs and all that kind of stuff in there and that’s where we felt we really need to go down the line of FMTs because he would change noticeably the next day after I was doing one of those enemas.

Cyndi: Wow, wow. So, how often were you doing those enemas, daily or every second or third day?

Kirsty: We’re so in tune with his behavior. We didn’t look at his behavior as a label of “Oh, that’s just an autistic symptom.” We looked at it as his body wasn’t functioning at full capacity. So, when the OCD would come back or he’d, like yeasty kids they just get off on top of furniture all the time. That’s just what they do. So, when he would start climbing on top of things or being high on top of things, I was like, “Okay, he needs another enema.” So, we just looked to him. We listened to him. We saw what he needed.

Cyndi: So, the fecal transplant was more sustainable, is that what you’re saying, as opposed to the probiotic enema?

Kirsty: Yeah, and it was about replacing those bacteroides which a probiotic enema can’t do and the strength of it. I mean the FMT is obviously enormous in strength and it’s going to really rebalance things.

Cyndi: So, in the beginning, we were talking about symptoms that you actually see with people. You know, you’ll be walking along and you’ll see a kid and you did this with a child that I was with. I was hanging on to a baby and you just went straight to me and said iodine deficiency or thyroid problem I think you said. What are you looking at? Like, you’ve said that when Noah gets on top of, in high places, you know that there’s a yeast problem. So, give me some examples of what you’re looking for, not only in Noah but other children.

Kirsty: Yeah, so a really common one now that I see in children all the time is that Ribo Rash. And so, I would see them sitting down at mat time and I’m teaching them and they’ll all be licking their lips and scratching this rash and all that kind of stuff. And, it’s very, very clear that they not only have a lot of preservatives in their diet but it shows me that their liver is too under the pump and they’re not getting the nutrients for the phase two of their liver to excrete all of those toxins that are going into their body.

So, to me, looking at that rash, I don’t just sort of look at it and go “Oh, that poor child.” I’d look at the functionality of the body and what’s happening and, yes, they’re having a reaction to the preservatives but possibly there’s an imbalance in their body and there’s an imbalance in their nutrients that they can’t get that out. You see, a lot of girls now they have that really solid neck and they call it the bracelets, you know, that thyroid bracelets and seeing it at four or five and the big distended tummy and the constipation and all those sorts of things that comes along with thyroid problems and iodine problems and that’s really obvious and you can see often that they’re very cold all the time. They’ve got their cold hands and their bodies are the opposite just working at full capacity and they’re always hot and taking all their clothes off and lots of boys with their excessive sweating. So, they’re having a lot of trouble metabolising things that are going through their body so their livers are struggling.

And then, the really extreme cases like the hands over the ears and the flapping and you often see a lot of autistic kids with these random blinks and a lot of eye problems and a lot of those things and I feel that’s a real adrenal problem. And so, they’re really struggling with light and they’re not getting those B vitamin nutrients. And Noah walked on his toes all the time, all the time and that’s obviously a common thing for when they diagnose kids with autism. They say they walked on their toes. That’s what autism is. But, I know now that the clostridium difficile releases the same type of toxins that tetanus does and when you’ve got tetanus you become really, really stiff and that’s exactly what is happening to these kids. And, those toxins drill down and take away all your magnesium. And so, you know, we included magnesium into Noah’s diet and he stopped walking on his toes. I know that’s really simple. It sounds so simple but some things are that simple.

Cyndi: Keep going.

Kirsty: And, obviously, the rashes that are all over these kids bodies, they’re a really, really big sign. And, you can get the yeasty rashes and then you can get the streptococcus rashes and it’s certainly both OCD behaviors and those really shy behaviors and the inability to manage and to be resilient and successful, that’s when their microbiomes are really out of whack because those behaviors, they’re all of the hormones and all of the serotonin and all those things that are developing in your gut, they’re not flooding their bodies with that. They’re not getting that. And so, you see these kids that are really struggling with anxiety and depression at three and four.

And then, a mum will say to me, “My child’s just not sleeping.” And, I talk with them about it and they’re on iPad and screens at 8 and 9 o’clock at night. They’re waking up in the morning and they’re not getting that hit of sunlight to get their cortisone levels and all those sorts of things sorted out. They’re still on the EMS and they can’t produce melatonin because those EMS block the melatonin. So, of course, they’re not going to be able to sleep. And so, yeah, there’s lots and all of those things. Mums look, you know, people would look at those sort of things and go “Oh dear, we better go and see a doctor about that.” It’s like, “Well, you know, why don’t you have a look at your nutrition and what’s going on in their bodies and what do they need?” I think if you look at your children and you listen to them and find out what’s really going on with them then you can do all of the groundwork yourself.

Cyndi: Yeah, I went to a book launch yesterday or last night and it was, actually I have the book here. It’s Your Child’s Body Has the Answer. So, I went to this book launch and it is about listening to your child. Did you see this?

Kirsty: No.

Cyndi: Yeah, so it was the book launch last night and it is about listening to your child, looking at what’s happening . Like, if I go through it, it’s like nail biting and there was ear aches and dyslexia and difficulty concentrating and conjunctivitis. So, there is all of these things that’s saying “Hey, start listening and stop covering it with, you know, with medications.” As you said, what we’ve done with children is that they’re on antibiotics. They’re on panadol because of fevers or their teeth and we have stopped listening to what is happening and I think we have to create an awareness amongst our young mums that we have to start doing this. We have to allow the body to have the intelligence enough to heal itself given the right resources. Obviously, you’ve had to go to the extreme to give it the right resources. And, I take my hat off to you, you know, I was fortunate I had three very healthy children. I never knew about this stuff, you know, if this was 25 years ago, my oldest is 26 and my youngest is 22. So, this was in a time where we weren’t stripping our guts.

Kirsty: No.

Cyndi: And, I don’t think and when you were talking about injections, I’m assuming you’re talking about vaccinations.

Kirsty: Yeah.

Cyndi: Yeah, so there weren’t as many vaccinations back then that I knew of. Like, you know, they just went there like when I went to school it was six, you know, six vaccines and then by the time my kids were going to school it wasn’t as many as there are now. And, you know, when you look at Wakefield’s work and some people might be thinking, “Oh, she’s talking about Wakefield. He’s being discredited. “ I think people need to learn more about his work which is very much in alignment with what you’re doing, listening to the mother, listening to the child, looking at symptoms, fixing up the gut and see if we can fix up the brain. We have hoards of young girls and boys that have depression and anxiety and like you said at the ages of three and four.

Kirsty: Yes, yes.

Cyndi: So, have you got an eBook, by the way?

Kirsty: What was that Cyndi?

Cyndi: Do you have an eBook by the way so people could read more about what you’re doing and your information?

Kirsty: Yeah, I think it’s time. I’ve been in the trenches, you know, for so long and I’ve come out of the trenches and I feel like I’m a periscope coming out and looking out for the first time and going “Oh, okay. I’ve survived the darkest winter and it’s going to be okay.”

I need to touch on what you just talked about with listening to children and the vaccinations because I was just so disappointed, Cyndi, that Maya had that episode when she was six months and it was documented and she really is one of the only few in South Australia that that’s ever happened to.

But, when she was ready for her 12 month vaccinations, they encouraged us to have her admitted and put on monitoring machines while she had her next set of vaccinations and that’s not listening to the child, you know, that’s pushing through. Why would I put my child under being monitored, to have something happen to her again that was so traumatic before. Let’s listen to her. Her body cannot handle it and she’s not robust enough for it. So, let’s find out why she’s not robust enough for it. You know and when Noah had all of these troubles, they’re, you know, “Oh, give him Nurofen to help him sleep at night.” And, I was a new mum. I didn’t know any better.  I didn’t know what I know now. And, he started having blood in his stool from the Nurofen. My husband was saying, you know, “Look, my liver patients in the hospital have this kind of stuff. This is not cool. We can’t do that.” So, it’s really, really concerning that these things are happening to these kids and I’m a well-educated mother and I was doing them to my kids. I didn’t know any better. And so, yeah, it’s just so important to get these information out there. I don’t want polio to come back and I don’t want chicken pox to come back, I’m not saying anything like that but I am saying let’s make sure our kids are robust enough to be able to handle these things.

And, I think it’s really important, we must listen to our kids. Like, when they’re sick, just let them be sick, stay home with them, feed them broth. Let them have a fever. Let them fight it off. Don’t pick them up and still send them to school. They’re so scheduled. Kids are so programmed. They can’t just have down time and just be able to cope with the everyday life. I mean school’s tough, just going to school is tough, you know. And then, they’re scheduled for after school care and then they’re scheduled for this and they’re scheduled for that and I think it’s just really important to let them be and that’s really hard to do as a parent in today’s environment to be because it requires you to parent differently and you to take steps back and just to take a chill pill.

Cyndi: Yeah.

Kirsty: So, and, you know, it’s finding people that you can really let you live like that too.

Cyndi: Yeah and be supportive with that. Now, let’s talk about your business because it was so funny because as soon as I saw your culture place, I went straight to you and I was actually asking the girl that was helping you the questions. I said, “Well, what do you carry or what’s this, what’s that?” And, nobody can usually answer my questions and you came over and you just, you know, I started talking to you and I realised that you had more knowledge than any other person I’ve ever spoken to who owns a culture business because they’re buying their cultures from someone else with carriers that they don’t even know what the carriers are. I have to, I ask them and they go, “Oh, I don’t know what my carrier is.” And so, they have to go and ask the buyer what the carrier is and then you find out it’s a genetically modified something mix, you know. So, can we talk about what you’ve done with your business where it is and how do we find more about you. Where do we get more information? When can you come to start working with me?

Kirsty: Oh, Cyndi, tomorrow. You guys are wearing singlets and I’m in scarves and jumpers. I’ll be out there tomorrow, man.

Cyndi: Like, it’s sunny out there. I’m looking at you and you look like you’re in like a snow.

Kirsty: Don’t rub it in. Yeah, so look, you know, I sort of alluded to it. As we’ve been talking, Kultured Wellness really was just born out of that fact that I just could see fermented foods being a really big part of our daily life but there was just this big block with the same thing in that we couldn’t find carriers that didn’t have anything in it and we were reacting to them and they were the wrong strains and all of that sort of stuff.

So, we’ve just embarked on this really big mission to find really pure cultures that were frozen at a really low temperature. So, that’s how they were able to, you know, be moved around and to be able to stay in a living culture and, obviously having our contacts in Canada with the research center there. They were able to point us in the right direction on those sorts of things. And, the other thing was that we quickly realised that the amount of probiotics that we needed in a day was going to be like three bottles per person per day and the bottles are like $250 for like this real kind of elite sort of stuff that we needed. So, yeah, we couldn’t afford that.

You know, I would have had to sell the kids just to be able to afford it. So, yeah, we bought this stuff in and we had a look at how can we add it into our everyday lives in the most cost effective way and that’s really how Kultured Wellness started. It was pure necessity. How are we going to do this? And also, how is it going to be easy for me as a working mum to incorporate it into my life without having to like allocate a day to being a fermenting goddess and cut it up and all of this kind of stuff. It’s the reality. You still have to continue on with your life and you still have to make it easy. So, I wanted something that I could do and that the kids would eat and drink and it was going to nourish their liver, nourish their adrenal glands, just nourish them from the depth.

And then, of course, yeah, it just started like mums were, you know, “What are you doing over there and can I try that and can I use that?” And so, it just started like that. And, as you know, Kultured Wellness is a new business and it’s just booming because people want therapeutic stuff and they want it to be accessible and they’re scared to ferment and I don’t blame them. You don’t know what you’re fermenting.

Cyndi: Especially when the beetroot just goes all over the white carpet and the white ceiling.

Kirsty: Yeah, yeah. No, you don’t need that. You don’t need the wrath of my husband either, right?

Cyndi: No.

Kirsty: So, yeah, now we have this business where we make these little culture starters in coconut kefir and coconut yoghurt. They’re little starters that literally you buy them and you take them home and you just add the one cup of the culture starter to either coconut water to make your kefir or to coconut cream to make your yoghurts. And, the cool thing about the yoghurts is you can make berries and mango and mint and I think the one you tasted was a mint and berry one, something like that.

Cyndi: I tasted the whole lot, I just kept going over.

Kirsty: I tell you. I did not make enough tastings because all of the presenters were coming, “Oh Kirsty, I’m going up on stage, I need something quick, give it to me.” So yeah, people were actually, you know, eating straight out of the bowl before they were going up on to present because it’s energy food. It nourishes you.

So, yeah, so now we’ve worked out an awesome way to post them. So, we can post them around Australia now and the website is pretty close to being up on deck. So, you can go to our landing page at the moment which is www.kulturedwellness.com.au but the kultured is with a ‘k’, so K for kultured and then wellness and sign up to our e-mail list there so we can let people know what’s going because it’s all happening. It’s really exciting. So, the website will be out soon with all the information and what I’m excited about is with these cultures, you can ferment apples and carrots and all sorts of fun stuff. So, I’m really looking forward to letting people know all the stuff that you can do with it and the fun you can have with it.

Cyndi: There’s enough information in there.

Kirsty: Is there anymore that I should be telling everyone?

Cyndi: Well, like so I’ve seen the little jars because I bought some home with me and do you think that it may come in a dried form in any, do you think that that’s possible? Or, do you think it has to be in this liquid form?

Kirsty: You know what, I think the liquid form is what makes it so unique because people just take it home. It’s active. It’s live. It’s ready to go. You don’t have to think, “Oh, what temperature do I need it to activate it? How long do I have to leave it out for before it’s activated ready to go?” It’s just another step that people just, you know, they’re worried about. So, if it’s in that liquid form, it’s just ready to go. It’s bomb proof. You just can’t stuff it up and, yeah, and having that…

Cyndi: So, there’s no heating, no nothing?

Kirsty: No. No. And, especially where you guys are, there’s definitely no heating.

Cyndi: Well, look, I just think it’s fabulous what you’re doing. I love that you have different strains, that you have really researched this. Actually, I do have two more questions that are pressing. Have you talked to Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride about your cultures and what are available? Because, she has her own cultures that she uses, I think it’s Bio-Kult. Is it Bio-Kult that she uses?

Kirsty: Yeah.

Cyndi: I don’t know if you’ve talked to her about it but I think if you haven’t you need to because she’s always open to what’s happening out there. So, it was number 1 and number 2, fructose malabsorption, what are you finding about that?

Kirsty: I, you know, I was diagnosed with fructose malabsorption and so was Noah. But, everyone who has, you know, a gut microbiome that is not in balance is going to have that. You don’t need to do the test. Everyone knows that they’re going to have that problem because they don’t have the right bugs to metabolise it.

So whilst you’re trying to rebalance, it’s a good idea not to have those FODMAP, so those fructose sugars. But, that’s a bit of a scary problem because then you’re taking away lots of nutrients in your diet. So, when you ferment food, especially with our cultures because they’re the cultures that are going to really balance to be able to digest those fructose, whilst you’re in that process of rebalancing you can still eat those foods but you just ferment them. And then, while you ferment them, the cultures eat up all that fructose and just leave you with those beautiful probiotics.

But, I think that, once again, that’s possible another label and I personally went through that process of “Okay, we’ve got a fructose problem so we just can’t eat fructose for the rest of our lives.” And, that’s not where you want to be because that’s not a healing diet. That takes away all your sulfur-rich vegetables. Your for your liver it would be a disaster if you didn’t eat them over the course of your life. So we ended up just while we were transitioning into having a more robust gut we would ferment onions. We would ferment garlic. We would ferment apples. All of those things that were causing us lots of trouble because they’re prebiotics, right? So, they’re feeding the bad bugs that we had. And so, we had to strip away those bad bugs and get the balance right. Now, when we have those fructose foods, they nourish the new bugs that we’ve got and they’re growing that ecosystem that we need to grow. But, I think it’s a bit dangerous to say “Oh, I can’t eat FODMAPs and to leave it at that. I think you need to drill down once again further, what’s happening with my body, why can’t I have those FODMAPs and what can I do to have those FODMAPs again?

Cyndi: You know, I couldn’t agree more with you because, you know, when I first started to, you know, like I’ve been a nutritionist for 31 years and it’s only been in the last probably decade that you’re hearing about ‘can’t eat gluten’, a vast array of people who can’t eat gluten, FODMAPs and histamines and salicylates and it’s like, it’s never ending. Let’s just get rid of everything and there’s nothing left. But, one of the things and I don’t know if you’ve seen their research but there’s research last year out of the Hadzas who are a group of African, they live in Tanzania and they still have their traditional diet of meat and veggies, tuberous vegetables and it’s interesting to see their bacteria versus our bacteria and they’re realising the importance of bacteria in the gut that we have, but how the bacteria will adapt to what we are eating. As long as that there’s food, that it’s food and not our packaged foods and things like that. So, it’s good to hear you say about the FODMAPs because I’m just hearing it more and more and, you know, don’t eat fructose. Whereas, we know that fructose leads into the shikimate pathway which gives us our serotonin, our noradrenalin and our dopamine. So, to take fructose out, also just gets rid of all of those as well. So, it’s good to hear you, good to hear.

Kirsty: Yeah, so I totally agree with you. Having your melatonin and all that beautiful sort of calming hormones, they’re not developed. They’re not created in a packet of chips. And so, you’ve got to make sure that you’re nourishing all of those things to get going and to make sure that you’ve got that complete mix of things that you need. As a mum, I just cannot emphasise enough watching the transition in your kids, from being very sad kids, who are just not happy with life, they’re not resilient to finding joy in being happy and it’s your gut microbiome. Of course, it’s other things and sorry on that point, sorry I’m moving around a bit but on that point we also need to understand intuitive eating and we need to understand and be aware of where we’ve come from. So, I obviously come from more of a German, you know, Norwegian sort of heritage. And so, when I have stripped back and nourished my body and re-fed my body and understood my genes, my intuitive eating is more higher protein, higher fat and those ground vegetables and obviously the leafy greens are important but it’s interesting that my genetics are pretty full now that I have that intuitive eating. I know what my genetics, my body how it likes to be nourished. It’s a really nice place to get to because spring comes or summer comes and you feel your body wanting different things. And then, winter comes around and you feel your body wanting different things. I’ve never felt that in my life. So, it’s a really, really nice feeling to be okay with that. For someone, “Oh no, you’ve got to be great having green smoothies every day. You’ve got to be doing this or you’ve got to be doing that.” But, being really in tune with your body and being really aware of it and sort of “You know, I’m having a pretty flighty day today. I’m just going to have a big chunk of butter and it’s going to nourish me and it’s going to calm me down.” And so, it’s actually a place that you can get to.

Cyndi: Definitely and the way we get there is to start eating real food as opposed to, you know like if you have the intuition to eat McDonald’s your body’s not intuitive at all and you cannot get there just by going, “Well, this is what I’m going to do.” I think it is a progression. It’s about changing what you’re doing, the foods that you’re consuming, getting back to real foods, getting back to our roots, which is our beautiful broths and our fermented foods as our healers, as well as adding all our prebiotics and our beautiful proteins. So, you know, a lot of people want to be where you are right now and have not put the hard work in and I know how much hard work you’ve put in and I’m looking forward to your first book, your first eBook. I’m looking forward to seeing your website come up. I’m looking forward to us working together in the future. I think that what you’re doing is amazing and that’s why I wanted to interview you. I implore everybody to go to KulturedWellness.com.au. Order yourself. Did you say they last…?

Kirsty: So, you can get five ferments out of them. So, from one pouch you can get about 10 litres of kefir and about 10 litres of yoghurt.

Cyndi: So, do we have a shipping thing that comes every 6 weeks then?

Kirsty: What’s that?

Cyndi: No, we just… Yes, please send me what I need for the year every 6 weeks. Please just send me the cultures that I need.

Kirsty: Yeah, yeah, it is. It’s like a membership.

Cyndi: Yeah.

Kirsty: And, you know, what you need to do each 6 weeks, yeah, but it’s funny because I have people that have started buying them and then a week later they’re “Oh no, please get this to me now. I can already feel the healing. I can already feel the change.” And, they get a bit nervous about being without it for a day. I mean I can’t be without it. I need to travel with my little friends everywhere I go.

Cyndi: I have to order some more by the way too so I’ll be doing that. Now, do people go on the website to order or it’s all on Facebook, right now?

Kirsty: No. It’s like I remind them ,if you go on the website, sign up to the newsletter because that’s going to keep everyone up to date of what’s happening and where we’re at. But, if you send an e-mail to Kirsty@kulturedwellness.com.au and let us know what you want and put some orders in and then we can ship it out to you. So, at the moment that’s what’s happening but it’ll be live on the website very, very soon.

Cyndi: Great. Now, are you going to ship overseas? New Zealand, because we have a lot of people in New Zealand that will be listening and many in Asia. Are you able to ship overseas?

Kirsty: Yeah. Yeah, we are. We were actually just discussing that last night. So, I can’t see a problem with it because the way that we’ve worked out how to vacuum and how to seal it and send it, it’s working really, really well and the cultures are happy. And, as long as the cultures are happy, it’s all good, so yeah.

Cyndi: Great, great. Alright. Kirsty, thank you so much for spending this time with us. So, I know, you’re a busy mum and now a business woman, a wife and doing everything so I really appreciate it, thank you.

Kirsty: Oh, well, I appreciate it so much, Cyndi, because I think you’re doing the most incredible job to get that message out there and I just want to be able to show mums that you could come out of it alive and you can make it, you know, you can do it. And so, I feel like it’s kind of my calling now to make sure that I let people, you know, helping to spread the message that you can push through. It’s going to be okay. You can get there. So, thank you so much for helping me or being a vehicle to help me get that message out.

Cyndi: Wonderful. Thank you.

November 2015

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Cyndi O'Meara

Founder at Changing Habits
Not your typical nutritionist, Cyndi disagrees with low-fat, low-calorie diets, believes chocolate can be good for you and thinks cheating and eating yummy food is an important part of a well-balanced diet. Cyndi must be doing something right because she maintains a healthy weight and has never (in her whole life!) taken an antibiotic, pain-killer or any other form of medication. Cyndi is a passionate, determined and knowledgeable speaker on health issues and uses her education and experience to help others improve their quality of life so they too can enjoy greater health and longer lives.
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