In this time of pandemic, we don’t just need to cope; we need to build resilience. From a health perspective, this resilience starts at the cellular level. Built within each cell is a tremendous capacity to weather environmental stressors such as pathogens and toxins, but it can only do so much on its own. What do we need to do to unleash our cells’ full protective potential and become proactive about our health? Joining Patrick Veroneau for a chat, pathologist and wellness advocate Dr. Sveta Silverman helps us get to the root of unhealth by taking a deep dive into the basics of cellular health. These are stressful times, and that stress can cause your immune system to go haywire. Tap into this conversation for some incredibly easy tips that, when done consistently, can help you take control of your own health journey during these challenging times.
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Building Health And Resilience At The Cellular Level With Dr. Sveta Silverman – Episode 113
On this episode we’re going to talk about health and our immune system. We’re going to get down to the cell level. My guest is Dr. Sveta Silverman. She’s a conventional doctor with a passion for education of disease prevention and health promotion. She’s an Associate Professor in the Department of Pathology and Lab Medicine at the University of Alberta. She is a surgical pathologist and her expertise is in breast pathology. What I love about one of the bios that I had read is it stated that she’s on a mission to help others improve their health. That’s how we were connected. While she is a surgical pathologist by degree, she is a teacher by calling. I would agree with that 100%. I loved her enthusiasm and her passion for this topic. Let’s get into it.
Svet, I want to thank you for taking the time to be on the show. We had the opportunity to speak and our conversation specifically went around resilience, health of individuals, and how that plays into resilience. I thought it’s such an important time for us to talk about that. One of the things that I’ve been experiencing is the difference between coping and resilience. I’ve seen it and this is the best I can come up with when I think about that transition. When I think of coping, if I’m on a boat that’s leaking, I can bail it out and that’s coping. Eventually, either I’m overcome by water or I’m too tired to bail anymore and the boat sinks.
To me, resilience is the opportunity to fix the outside of the boat so that the water is all around me, but it doesn’t get inside. A lot of people have been able to cope up until now but have lacked the ability to build resilience where now it needs to take over, “I can’t bail the boat anymore. This is too much.” I’d love your perspective on things especially as it relates to health and the cellular level of individuals because that’s a piece that we’re missing.
First of all, Patrick, thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to teach health. I’m blessed to get to know you. We’re connecting on many levels in terms of health, energy and positivity. It’s interesting, I am perceived as the doctor of cells. By degree, I diagnose cancers. I look in the microscope and diagnose cells. By the virtue of my mission, I teach health. Everything is connected to coping and resilience. Let’s talk a little bit from the perspective of cells.
As you said, you can patch the boat and it’s coping and because that’s what we do, we patch ourselves, “I have a headache, I will take a pill,” or “I have heartburn, I will take a pill.” That’s coping. At a certain degree, you get, “I cannot take care of this headache anymore.” However, resilience is how do I get to the root cause of this? How do I fix it? To begin with, our cells are incredibly resilient and forgiving because there is an ingenious mechanism of cellular defense or cellular cleanliness.
There are cellular vacuum cleaners in every cell, however, they are coping. Initially, they’re very resilient because those vacuum cleaners, the cellular cleansers are cleaning the cell from all the garbage that we’re getting from the environment, electromagnetic fields, this charge that we’re putting on us, everything that is around us, the food that we eat, and not paying attention to what we eat. Those vacuum cleaners are initially so strong, they are Dysons, and then they started to cope.
It’s a little patch and then the cell gives up. I cannot clean myself anymore. I’m done coping. I’m exhausted. I’m tired. The cellular machinery switches, goes haywire, and starts making atypical or malignant cells. In this day and age and this situation, we’re coping and then I’m done. The thing is how do I get strong? How do I get healthy? With this said, how do I get resilient? That is the resilience of positivity because healthy equals happy equals positive. How do I address cellular resiliency? Switching back, who are we as a body, as a human being? We are a lump of cells. Some say 30 trillion, 35 trillion, or 52 trillion. Let’s say the average is 35 to 37 trillion cells. I have to be resilient with resiliency of every cell. I need to build every cell as my fortress of health and that is my responsibility.Healthy equals happy equals positive. Click To Tweet
This is my resiliency to the outside world and my resiliency to stand up and say, “I am making the best of me. My responsibility to stay resilient is not the responsibility of my doctor, my pastor or my rabbi.” They are my leaders, spiritual leaders, consultants, guiding apparatus, support, emotional, physical body. My resiliency is entirely upon my responsibility to be the best I am. It’s my responsibility to make 35 or 37 trillion cells the best they are. How do I do this? There are lots of simple things. They do not require any money but require the resiliency of commitment. I am committing to myself. I am committing to my health.
That is one of the challenges for a lot of people. How do you create the habits? You build these habits where we have become a society at times where if it doesn’t work the first time, we move on. We don’t stick with things. I totally hear you. You’re talking about developing on many different levels, whether it’s physically what do we put in ourselves? Intellectually, what do we put in ourselves in terms of our thoughts? Emotionally and spiritually as well. I would agree with you in terms of, what do we consume that helps build those 35 trillion or however many cells it is?
When do we start commitments? The 1st of January, we have the New Year’s resolutions. The 1st of January is a holiday. Let’s say, 2nd or 3rd of January, you hit the gym if the gyms are going to be open. The gyms are full of people because everybody makes a resolution. How many of them make it as a commitment? You can count them.
I’ve heard it’s 15% or something like that.
The commitment relies on consistency. Consistency is going to turn into habit because when you do every day the similar thing, one day you wake up and say, “I’m going to skip it. It doesn’t feel right.” When it doesn’t feel right, it’s your habit. When you start committing to the good foods, inadvertently you become consistent and habitual. What happens is your body is going to clock or moderate, not modify, your consistency.
My example, I am committed to drink healthy water. I don’t drink tap water and I do it day-after-day, then the trouble happens. I go somewhere like a restaurant or something and they serve me tea. I can drink that tea because my body tells me, “What kind of garbage are you putting in? It is yucky.” My commitment and my consistency to pour healthy water and make my own beverage leads to the habit. When I break that habit, my body tells me, “No.” The same habit you build with good foods.
Let’s say Joe Doe. Joe Doe is on SAD diet, and the SAD stands for Standard American Diet. Is it sad? It’s sad but that’s the acronym. Joe Doe is eating SAD diet meaning that there are plenty of processed carbohydrates and that is Joe’s habit. Joe is harming his cells and breaking the cellular health by putting refined processed carbohydrates, which fastly convert into sugar. That triggers the reactions. When we have sugar in our bloodstream, it stimulates the hormone insulin. Insulin grows abnormal cells, but what insulin does is it shoves the glucose into the cells or something.
The problem is when there’s too much of glucose, it doesn’t go into the cells because the cells are saturated, but insulin keeps coming and keeps sending the signals to the brain, “Give me more.” This is the habit of people who eat refined foods more often. They’re not making it up because they feel hungry. They’re extremely saturated. There’s a time when their cells are screaming of over abuse of carbohydrates but their brain is also screaming, “Give me more because I’m starved.” This is your habit. Living in Maine by the ocean, awesome stuff, eat pizza.
It’s like telling you, “I can’t stop.”
You can’t, that’s the thing. This is your resilience to you. What you do is you create a pattern. It’s like, “Pizza. I do know. What do I substitute with pizza?” You can make a commitment. You can eat healthy pizza and I will teach you how to make healthy pizzas, but you can let me try. This is my resilience. This is my pizza. This is my salad. Whatever on top of pizza, let’s say basil, arugula, even some cheese, I put it in a salad bowl minus crust. That’s what I’m eating. I’m eating deconstructed minus crust pizza. I’m committing myself to seven days of deconstructed minus crust pizza. In seven days, all of a sudden, your cells are like, “I’m happy. What happened?”
I’m feeling vibrant. I’ve got more energy. My wife noticed me, I’m like a young chick again. My kids are asking me, “Dad, what happened to you? Why you were active?” I’m like, “I feel great. I feel young. I feel positive in a week.” Why do I go back to something that is going to make me feel low other than satisfying my brain for three minutes? That’s how you start creating and building the pattern. You go seven days and start analyzing, is it working? This is just one way. It’s the same thing with exercise. You start walking every day, 5 minutes a day, 10 minutes a day, but you keep doing it regularly. You’re creating a pattern. One day, you catch yourself, “I haven’t done my walking. Something is not right in my routine.” It’s your consistency, your routine and your habit.
I did a workshop on this in regards to some work that was done by Anders Ericsson around 10,000 hours and deliberate practice. I’m all for what you’re talking about. I exercise it myself, no pun intended. I work out in the morning and I know that when I don’t work out, I don’t feel as good.
The same applies to foods, meditation, prayer in some instances, and whatever you do because our health doesn’t necessarily reside on good food only, supplements only or exercise only. Number one, what’s the problem with the society now? We are angry, stressed and confused. We’re not happy and not emotionally stable. That is number one of unhealth because cell is a computer. It’s a programming device but you program it positively or negatively. When you program it positively, even if you start initially faking it and you start working on it, your computer doesn’t know. If it’s a positive input, it’s going to be positive output. When you do it consistently and stuff like that, the positivity of mind creates a positivity of health and healthy cells. Mental, emotional and spiritual comes number one.
You mentioned such an important part too in how our mental state impacts our immune system. We had a conversation around Bruce Lipton. I told you I had read The Biology Of Belief with him. One of the things that stood out to me, and I’d love your thoughts on this, is you said when we’re stressed, it’s fight, flight or freeze for our system. We take away from our immune system because the body thousands of years ago, if it was a saber-tooth tiger coming toward me, it said, “We’re going to take all the blood and put it in your extremities and areas that you can get out of this situation. If you survive this, then we’ll come back and we’ll continue working on the bacterial infection you have, but we’re not going to do it until then.” It’s all stress.Commitment relies on consistency, and consistency turns to habit. Click To Tweet
You’re entirely correct. A friend of mine who is a psychologist brought a concept and I lit up. She’s learning, teaching, studying and presenting the psychology of immune system. Have you heard of the psychology of immune system? As you said, it’s all stress. Thousands or hundreds of years ago, saber-tooth tiger runs after you. What do you do? It’s a fight, flight or freeze response. Your cortisol or stress hormone goes extremely high and the blood rushes to the extremities and you’re fine.
The problem is it was a solitary event. What happens right now is we have saber-tooth tigers running after us. We allow them to run after us imaginative 24/7 because we’re not sleeping. It’s almost like 24/7. What does it do? For example, we were talking about the blood recirculation, what happens is we exhaust our stress hormones which are connected to every other hormone and every system including immune system. If your stress hormones like cortisol is not in the right state which is entirely affected by stress. You are inadvertently depressing and down-regulating your immune system. There are no ways around it.
When we think about it especially in this era of the pandemic and this virus, people getting worked up and stressed out about it, their stress and their worry is counterproductive.
In this day and age of pandemic, this is our wake-up call to get healthy. It is about social distancing, that’s fine, but it doesn’t matter whether you social distance or not if you’re not healthy, you’re at risk. Who are at the utmost risks? Elderly, obese, and people with chronicity like diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The thing is when you have diabetes, every system of your body is affected. It’s your gut, your microbiome, and your immune system. I take pandemic with a stride. I love washing hands, not obsessively.
I don’t have obsessive-compulsive thing on washing hands. I’ve got it on other things, but I love washing hands with soap because it gives me a hand massage. When I finally stop for twenty seconds, I’m connecting with myself. The thing to me about the pandemic is how do I optimize my lifestyle now to health? How do I optimize my diet to health? How do I optimize my hydration, my supplementation, my cellular up-regulation? Everything in that pattern leads to cellular health. Immune system is immune cells. Everything is extremely simple, but everything resides on my resilience and commitment to health.
It starts with us. It’s less worry, more work on ourselves on getting better.
Do I want to get up at 5:15 to have yogurt at 6:00? Not exactly. Do I push myself out of bed? Absolutely because being a Type-A personality, spending an hour of hot yoga in the morning gives me an hour of me. Whether I like it or not, I am in the closed room for an hour. I’m doing walking or moving meditation. I love hot because of what it does. In a burden apparatus of cleansing. Sweating means detoxification whether I like it or not and I love it.
What I find interesting and I always felt guilty that I hate running. I run regularly. There’s not a time that I have left to go out for a run that I’m like, “This is awesome. I love this.” Within an hour of getting back, there is not a time that I finished a run that I’m like, “I’m glad I did it. I feel better.”
Thank you for saying that because I do not like to work out. However, I’m in yoga. I’m learning because it is needed for my health. I’m not immune to stress in life. My stress level is high so how do I deal with this? For me, it’s yoga. For you, it’s an exercise, it’s your running because after running, you find so much accomplishment and positivity. Your endorphin level is high. From running, what did you do? You boost your immune system, whether you like it or not, because you upregulated some cellular pathways that are going to boost your immune system. You reduced your free radical damage. You reduce your oxidative stress, which is the culprit of cellular unhealth.
I do think that there are a lot of people out there thinking, “I can’t do it. I don’t enjoy it. I don’t like it. Therefore, I’m not made to do this.” It’s encouraging to hear other people that say, “I don’t like either doing it but the payback on the other end is incredible.”
That’s the whole thing. For example, exercise is versatile. You don’t want to run, walk. You don’t want to walk and you love swimming, swim. You don’t like swimming, go to the gym, pump some iron. You don’t want to pump some iron, go to the yoga studio. You don’t want yoga studio, do Qigong. The physical exercise routine is endless and no excuses. It’s interesting how we start exercising sometimes. When we commit, we commit out of necessity. It’s like I watch smokers. Sometimes, you bang on their head. It’s like, “You’ve got to quit. It’s not going to end all right,” then heart attack.
The next day, smoke-free, done, cold turkey. Something hits you. This is like, “I can die doing this.” Why don’t you think prospectively? Why do you act on your health? The best cure of the disease is the prevention of the disease. Why don’t you be proactive? We’re getting older. Whether you like it or not, this is the mechanism. If we’re getting older, it’s in our cellular apparatus to get more stale, to work slower and stuff. I need to look at it proactively and prospectively. What do I do? If every cell starts working slow and the functions are decreased, it’s not going to skip the immune system, if we’re thinking immune system.
What do I do to boost my immune system? How? I’m thinking, what is my gut doing? How is my GI system functioning? Why? Because my GI system is the home of my microgut and my probiotics. My probiotics are some say 80%-plus or 70%-plus of my immune system. My immune system lives in my gut. What do I do with my microgut? How do I boost myself? I don’t live in Hawaii. I don’t have the sun the whole year. Do I need vitamin D? Yes. What about fish oils? Yes. What about good food? There’s something that sometimes you don’t like doing but you need to do it because, am I going to be around in twenty years? That’s why I’m doing it. Do I have children? Yes. Do I want to dance on their weddings? Yes. Do I want to take my grandkids to school? Yes. Do I want to be in a wheelchair? No. Do I want to suffer from Alzheimer’s? No. There you go. There should be some commitments.
As we’re coming to the end of this, if we’re talking about an employee or a leader that says, “I’m stressed out. I’m having a difficult time coping. I don’t have the energy level. I’m not feeling great about myself.” Without overwhelming somebody to say, “You need to change all of these things,” what are some simple things that somebody can realistically start to implement? They start to get those quick wins. You start getting those and all of a sudden you’re like, “If I can do that, then I can jump up to this,” but people just need a window.This time of pandemic is a wake-up call for us to get healthy. Click To Tweet
Let’s commit to eight hours of sleep minus cell phones. No cell phones in the room. Turn it off. You turn off the lights, you sleep. Let’s try and do this, number one. Number two, breathing. When you are stressed and overwhelmed at work, stop and take a huge deep inhale, and huge deep exhale. When you do that, don’t think of the bad things that happened. When you breathe, you only concentrate on breath and you can count it. You do four times. You count to four while inhaling then hold it for four, then exhale for four. Do it 5, 6, 10 times, and then you immediately find yourself that you are less stressed.
These are two simple solutions. Number three, you take water to work. You have a bottle, preferably not plastic with clean water at home and you drink. You stay hydrated. Sometimes, when you want your pizza and stuff, you take a few sips of water and it will take away your drink. This is simple. We’re not spending money. We’re not going to see a specialist or a therapist. That’s simple. That’s solution number one. Hopefully, when we reconvene and have another talk and stuff, we’ll elaborate on more solutions and get into foods and simple solutions. What are we going to bring? What are we going to eliminate in foods?
Those three that you mentioned are huge, sleep and our breath.
If you’re stressed, stop and breathe.
It’s hard at times in terms of your breath. I remember a few times that I was taking yoga and the instructor would come up and say, “You need to breathe.”
That’s where you concentrate. There’s one thing that is of the utmost importance to me in yoga. There’s nothing more important. It’s called prana, breathing. That’s a whole thing. People say, “I can’t afford it,” but you don’t have to afford it. You need to be committed to yourself. You don’t need to afford it.
This has been great. I love the conversation that we’ve had. The focus that you have is important. It’s one that many of us have missed for a long time. It took me a while to catch on to this and how important this stuff is. It is in our control. We have control over this. I do look forward to this because I do think the food is a whole additional piece that you could bring much to this.
We need to break it up. Money is a big deal. We need to break it down and help people realize that it’s not that bad. There are a few changes we’re going to make in cupboards, the fridge and on the stove, it’s going to work.
We’ll segue that in episode number two that you and I do together. Thank you.
Patrick, I’m grateful. Thank you.
I am as well. Wishing you all the best. Peace.
Peace and love. Thank you.
About Dr. Sveta Silverman
I began my medical career as a pediatric surgeon in the former Soviet Union. After I made Canada my home in 1991, I broadened my studies and work into the field of pathology. As a pathologist, I’m really good at finding the root causes of medical problems. I’m also good at finding ways to heal medical conditions. I have a passion for eating well, living a healthy lifestyle and preventing disease.
I am a lifelong learner and as such, I am widely published and I am a Fellow in the Royal College of Physicians in Canada. As a Royal College Fellow, I am always enhancing my learning and skills through my commitment to continuing professional development through the Royal College’s Maintenance of Certification (MOC) Program.
As well, I have enjoyed teaching over the years and I have been honoured with multiple awards for outstanding teaching. The connection I make between the material and the student is satisfying and motivating to me.
At this point in life, I desire to integrate my knowledge, experience and passion as I make myself available to answer people’s medical questions. I am developing askdrsilverman.com so that I can make a difference in individuals’ quality of life. I have worked very hard to become an expert in detecting the root causes of illnesses. I have also made strides in finding ways to help people heal their bodies. I am looking forward to helping thousands of people through askdrsilverman.com.
On a personal note, I really enjoy music, animals, tennis and kind people. Most of all, I love and appreciate my wonderful husband, Harry. The first 25 years have been marvelous and I’m looking forward to the next 25 years!