This interview is all about helping our children and creating a more amazing future. We’re always focused on what’s going on with us as adults, all the problems, medical problems, emotional problems, and issues that we have. Sometimes, we forget that a lot of this stems from childhood. So much of what’s going on with us actually started when we were still in our mother’s wombs, or as children. 

The gut microbiome was really developed and flourished (into what it is now) when you were a child. Depending on what you ate, what you consumed, how much stress you were under, how many antibiotics you were put on, etc.

That is also true of everything else in your body, your nervous systems, your hormones, all these regulating bodies were developed as a child through your experiences, exposures, and diet. How amazing would it be if we really focused on not only preventing health issues, as an adult but also on preventing these issues as kids?

In this interview, we are going to talk about…

  • Madiha’s journey to heal herself and build a holistic health practice.

  • The foundations of good health and simple actionable steps that you can take to improve your health today and be a good role model for the kids in your life.

  • How to talk to your kids and empower them to make healthier choices.

  • Some amazing resources that you can share with your kids to empower them even more.

About Madiha Saeed

Madiha was born and raised in Illinois. She completed her residency in South Bend, Indiana. After that, she joined an integrative medical practice and witnessed firsthand the struggles each patient encountered. They were so frustrated about where to begin. She worked with a team of practitioners to determine the root cause of disease for each patient and also herself. She witnessed firsthand the power of integrative medicine as she healed herself from hypothyroidism, eczema, seborrheic dermatitis, acne, fatigue, alopecia, joint pain, weight, and digestive issues all while balancing a growing family and a busy practice.

In 2015, she opened her own practice. When she wasn’t with patients, she was researching and pulling the puzzle pieces together of true holistic health care. As a physician, she was concerned. If she was confused, how could those suffering all over the world find healing? After four years of studying, she wrote “The Holistic Rx: Your Guide to Healing Chronic Inflammation and Disease.

Dr. Madiha Saeed is absolutely incredible. She’s on this amazing mission to really help children become resilient in their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. This will help them to grow up into some really amazing adults. I am totally on board with this! I love this so much and I’m sure you will too! Even if you don’t have kids, you are going to want to read this so you can impact the kids in your life. This is really important stuff.

Our poor children have been inundated with fear, paranoia and so many things in the past couple of years. Their whole world is turned upside down. The way they view sickness and disease has changed so much. I want to flip this on its head and focus on wellness and prevention.

What can we do to…

  • feed the good bacteria in our gut

  • regulate our nervous system

  • keep our hormones balanced

  • prevent autoimmune disease

This interview is incredible. You are going to learn so much to share with the children in your life!

Welcome Dr. Madiha Saeed to the Functional Gynecologist

Dr. Saeed: Thank you so much for having so incredibly honored.Dr. Tabatha 

I’m the honored one. Oh my goodness, the amazing work you’re doing. I can’t wait to share this interview with all of my followers because you are changing our future. I love everything you’re doing.

Dr. Saeed: Thank you so much. I’m so incredibly honored and I love sharing everything that I know because I’m just a little bit passionate about this topic.

Dr. Tabatha:

Oh my goodness. You’ve been on this journey for a long time. Tell me about that.

Tell Us About Your Journey

Absolutely! I think especially when it comes to being a medical doctor, you have to hit the wall first before you learn to fly. For me, that’s where my story started. But it really started with being raised in this culture. I was born and raised in Naperville, Illinois. I had all the same bad habits that have led most adults and children down the road to chronic health conditions. My mom loved to cook. For her, food is love. If we needed a specific type of food, she would actually go get it for us because that was love for her.

We had an entire basement, packed with cereals of every kind (hundreds and hundreds of cereals). We took cans of Coke to school every day. I started losing my hair and developed acne, eczema, cramps, constipation, but that just seemed to be normal.

I continued on the hamster wheel even throughout my residency. During my residency, I had my first baby. My husband and I were both in our residencies so we were working 80 hours a week. I was a new mom, a new wife, a new resident, all at the same time. Then you combine, the stress, negativity, toxins, lack of sleep, and free food in the cafeteria. When you’re not sleeping well and stressed, you go for Jimmy John’s and Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, not salad.

This is when my Hashimotos and digestive issues continued to get worse. I added indigestion, severe fatigue, and sometimes even mood issues to my list of health problems. I just did not feel like myself period. I even had shingles in residency and was diagnosed with lupus. That’s how beaten down my body was. I was just trying to keep my head above water. One day, my husband asked me to check up on our 10 month-old child in daycare. I was really blessed that the daycare was actually attached to the hospital.

I Walked Into Every Mother’s Worst Nightmare

I walked into every mother’s worst nightmare. The lights are dim, the daycare provider was rocking back and forth in her chair. The eerie silence was broken by my child crying in the back. When I went back there, my 10-month-old child was strapped down in a receiving blanket, in a bouncer, pacifier in his mouth. His Winnie the Pooh blanket was wrapped tightly around his face. His eyes were bloodshot. His face was swollen.

I immediately picked him up and ran out. On that day, I’m like, God, you saved my child. I made a solemn promise that I was going to take care of these kids the best that I knew how. Then I thought, wait, how am I supposed to take care of these kids the best I know how if I’m completely falling apart?

So I went to the doctor to try to figure out how to fix myself. They just told me, I’m sorry, you’re just going to have to sit back and let the disease run its course. They told me there are medications, but the side effects can cause death.

I Started Trying to Figure Out How to Heal Myself

I started learning to parent so I could learn how to take care of my own children better. I actually taught my residents parenting. That was my final year project during my residency. After my residency, I discovered integrative holistic functional medicine. I joined a medical practice that had an OB-GYN, internist, exercise physiologist, nutrition counseling, chiropractor, massage therapy, and myself all brought together to work towards complete healing of the whole person.

The OB-Gyn taught me all about functional medicine. I joined their practice and got to learn from all of these amazing practitioners at once. It filled in the gaps that conventional medicine left. I learned how much lifestyle can impact your health.

That’s When I Started Holistic Mom MD

That’s why I started holistic mom, MD, because as I was learning holistic, functional, integrative medicine, I thought, why not incorporate it into my family. I’m raising a family, if it helps me and it helps my patients, I must help my kids to incorporate it into their daily routines too so they can avoid all of this.

The aha moment didn’t really come until my oldest would adjust his lifestyle according to how he felt. It was so cool. I thought, Oh, my God, it’s just like what we’re doing with our patients, right? We’re having them be mindful of their bodies. That’s where it’s really holistic.

Parenting is all About Love, Connection, Educating and Empowering Your Child

Parenting is all about love, connection, educating, and empowering your child just like we do our patients. You want to guide them along the way, give them the positive mindset and life skills that they need to navigate our rapidly changing world. Why can’t we do the same thing that we do with our patients with our children? Why can’t we teach them to be more mindful of their internal and external world?

I realized that every conversation that I have with my child, every hug, the food that I put in their bodies, how I teach them to deal with stresses, sleep better, social skills, and spiritual health. These all have the power to change their brains and bodies for the better. So that’s what I’ve tried to do. So whenever I incorporate something into my own daily routine, I incorporate it into theirs. It has been so much fun.

Dr. Tabatha:

Oh, my gosh, I just love everything that you’re doing because I think kids want to be the best version of themselves. They are so much more pliable than grownups are. I want you to talk about how easy it really is to get kids on board with making these lifestyle changes. I think there’s this perception that kids are picky eaters and aren’t easy to change. We don’t think that kids can understand things like toxic burden. Let’s unpack that.

Dr. Saeed and her sons

How Can We Help Kids Make Informed Decisions

You’re right, we don’t give kids enough credit. They can learn complicated stuff. Even long division in elementary school, which is technically tough. How many of us even remember how to do that? Right? Well, what I’m trying to say is that they can do complicated math, reading, science, and history. Then add to that social media and video games. That’s complicated stuff. Probably more complicated than everything that we’re talking about here. We need to give children more credit.

Every Decision That Me Make Uses Two Parts of Our Brains

Every decision that we make is all made in our brains. There are two parts of the brain that are involved in every decision. The prefrontal cortex and the amygdala. The prefrontal cortex is responsible for your rational decision-making, it looks at the pros and cons, and comes up with a decision after looking at the whole picture.

Then we have the amygdala. This is where the irrational fight or flight decisions all come from. You need both of these pieces to make a logical decision. Unfortunately, unbalanced lifestyles, lack of sleep, lack of exercise and play, lack of nature, love, limited diet variety, junk food, increased toxins, increased stress, and terrible social lives is all contributing to your child having an unbalanced lifestyle that’s leading to chronic inflammation.

Inflammation Decreases Our Ability to Think Rationally

Science has proven that chronic inflammation is hijacking our children’s brains and their bodies. That child that doesn’t want certain kinds of food or is agitated, irritable, and throwing temper tantrums, that’s really not your child. Your child is being hijacked by the environment around them. Studies have shown that inflammation is found to decrease the strike between the prefrontal cortex and the amygdala. Basically this means that your child is unable to use their full brain to make a rational decision. Because of this they’re more angry, more violent, have poorer social relationships. Behavior and inflammation are intimately connected.

There is an awesome study that they did at Harvard and Columbia, where they took 4000 children with behavioral issues and emotional imbalances at the age of eight. They checked their blood then and at the age of 10. They saw that they had two levels in their blood that were elevated. The C-reactive protein and interleukin 6 (IL-6), which is a pro-inflammatory cytokine that’s produced in response to infections and tissue injury. They found that this meant that these children were at a risk of higher inflammatory risk in adulthood. Even prenatal inflammation was shown to lead to behavioral problems.

Researchers actually found that the brain networks in your brain reflect the degree of inflammation your mothers were experiencing while they were pregnant with you. Mothers that had higher interleukin 6 levels during pregnancy had children who had a lower working memory score at the age of two.

We Can Use Science to Raise Healthy, Resilient Mindful Children

We can use science to raise healthy, resilient, mindful children that are able to use their full brains to make logical decisions. When you talk to them, you can talk to them like real human beings. Kids are smarter than we think they are. When we use holistic parenting we can help to nurture our children’s mind, body, and soul from the inside out.

It’s All About Teaching Your Child About Mindfulness

It’s all about teaching your child about mindfulness because mindfulness allows us to see our internal and our external world so much more differently and clearly. It lets us take a step back and decide how best to respond to a situation. When your child is mindful, they know where they are on their baseline. They’re able to recognize when they’re getting off-balance, even just a slight bit, and make changes.

If parents provide their children with those skills (even if you’re just role modeling these skills for them) they start to notice and use them. They’ll think “this is what mom does when she’s a little off. I’m going to try to do this too.” So start by role modeling these behaviors and teaching your child to be mindful. Then teach them to use the tools that we’re going to talk about, as soon as they start to feel off-balance. This will help them to be more resilient in any situation or environment.

Dr. Tabatha: 

Yes. I’m happy that you explained that because I was thinking of a scenario that literally happened this morning. My daughter has had lifelong constipation issues. It took me seven years to figure out that she cannot have dairy. When she stays away from dairy and too much sugar, she’s okay. Unfortunately, this issue went on so long that her colon is stretched out. She has to have fiber and magnesium supplementation on a regular basis.

We had Halloween and she ate a ton of candy. She didn’t want to take her supplements anymore. I said, okay, let’s see how you do. You know, you need to eat your vegetables you need to get that fiber in or you have issues. She’s been struggling and this morning, she was, outright mean, angry, and nasty. I immediately realized, she was having gut issues. I told her “you don’t seem like you’re yourself this morning. You’re not feeling very well, you know?” She said, “Yeah, I’m, I’m having issues.” I said do you want to get back on your gummies and really focus on feeding those good gut bacteria? She said, “yeah, I think so.” I felt like I had such a breakthrough for her because she was making that decision, as opposed to me forcing her to take them.

Dr. Saeeed:
Yes, you have to be patient. You have to keep planting the seed. My son was six years old when he started having severe sinus issues. He would wake up in the morning even with severe drainage. I explained to him what was going on. We open up this book and explain that he has inflammation and this is why.

This is different than conventional medicine. We’re not trying to fight the symptoms, we’re using them to understand what is going on with our health. These symptoms aren’t bad, it’s your bodies way of communicating with you to tell you what’s going on. My son is doing a lot better now. Thanks to food sensitivity tests, we found out what the foods were that were causing issues for him and got him off of all those foods. He did that himself based on how he felt. He knows that bananas bother him. He woke up this morning and said, “I’m not going to have a banana for breakfast today. I think I had too much. Today, I woke up a little bit more stuffy than usual. Where’s my sauerkraut?” He was able to use these tools that we’ve taught him to get his body back in balance on his own without us bribing him.

What’s so powerful is that now they’re in charge of their own health. They get to choose, because our job as parents is to provide them with the skills to live a healthy life. Just like we teach them how to brush their teeth in the morning and wash their hands after they go to the bathroom. We can teach them…

  • early morning gratitude

  • the importance of sunlight

  • grounding

  • dry brushing

  • detoxification

These are simple things. That’s what I really wanted to do with this book is show people how I do this in my own house. This way they can learn the foundations of holistic parenting and start to integrate them in their own lives and with their own families. They can work on getting their lives back in balance, learning how to manage stress, get better quality sleep and improve their social and spiritual health. If we can put a child’s lifestyle back into balance then we can put their brains and bodies back into balance. It’s a little self-serving too because then these children are so much easier to parent.

Dr. Tabatha

Yeah, I mean, obviously we’re doing it for us. No, we love them to death and it will make them have a much better life going forward if they don’t have to go through all the pains we went through.

Dr. Saeed:

Absolutely! Remember children are actually born with tons of different cells and very limited connection. There’s so much that we can do as parents to help them build these connections. We don’t have to leave it up to chance. A lot of people think that you are just lucky, you got a good kid or a problem child, that’s up to chance, but there is so much that’s in your control. There is so much that we can do as parents to help our children’s brains and bodies develop, to lower inflammation, optimize their DNA and their mitochondrial function, so they can have the energy and health that we want for them.

Dr. Tabatha

I love it! Your book addresses all of this, right?

Dr. Saeed’s book – “The Holistic Rx Your Guide to Healing Chronic Inflammation and Disease”

Your Book Talks About All of This Right?

Oh, absolutely! It covers the science of it too. For example, I start every single one of my patients with the power of gratitude. Immediately when you wake up in the morning, say 5-10 things that you’re grateful for every day. Science has proven that gratitude and optimism have strengthened the connection between the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex, improving your overall health and well-being. In this world of negativity. (Especially this last year and a half has been like all about fear and negativity.) It’s more critical today to train their subconscious to be positive. I try to incorporate gratitude into my children’s daily routine every day. Immediately when they wake up in the morning, I have them say ten things they are grateful for.

When the kids were younger, we actually incorporated this into their daily routine. They would say things like thank you for my eyes, thank you for my ears, thank you for another beautiful day to change the world. It helps them get up on the right side of the bed.

Dr. Tabatha:  

Oh my gosh! I deal with grown women all day who can’t even think of five things to be grateful for.

Dr. Saeed:

Yeah, so that’s why this is where I started everybody off,Dr. Tabatha: 

Let’s start with our children so they don’t have to get to the broken point where we are. We don’t love anything about our bodies and we can’t find anything to be grateful for. When we are stuck in that negative mindset our neurons are firing all wrong. It’s so much easier for children to make these changes than adults, but you can do it!

Dr. Saeed:

Yes, so immediately when you wake up in the morning, say 10 things that you’re thankful for. Then we talk to our kids about the day.

My Advice – Start With One New Routine at a Time

My advice is start implementing other routines to one piece at a time. It doesn’t happen overnight. The kids know that stress leads to sickness. We talk to them about that and ask them what are we going to do today to incorporate some sort of stress management technique into our day? We involve the kids in choosing those things. It can be…prayer, meditation, major play, etc. My kids love to play, so that’s what they like to choose. They tell me “we need our unstructured play to help our body decrease stress.”

Each one of them has individual things that they like to do to relieve their stress. We teach them mindfulness, meditation and yoga, etc. My kids love nature. Immediately when they wake up in the morning, we’ll do some breathing. Gratitude if needed, but otherwise they love to go outside to play in the sunlight. This last summer they loved to go out to the garden to pick vegetables or fruit and use that in their breakfast.

Stress Management Can Be in the Form of Chores

Stress management is also chores. It decreases the stress on everybody. Kids brains are stressed if they aren’t given structure. We do chores first thing in the morning, so they don’t have to be done later in the day.

My 10 year old does the dishes and packs all the lunches. My six year old unloads the clean dishes from the dishwasher. My eight year old puts all the dishes away. On Mondays, they know that we’re going to do all this plus, put away the laundry from the weekend. Because I only laundry on Friday so then we have all this on Mondays, to put away. Now, they’re set for the rest of the week. They don’t have to worry about the laundry.

It decreases the stress. We all work together. I tell my ten-year-old to make sure that everyone gets veggies, clean protein, and healthy fats. I stock my house up for success so he can easily pick and choose what he wants. One morning he packed bell peppers, and some Tumeric chicken leftovers, then he chose dried mangoes as a carbohydrate. Then he packed an orange as a snack. You teach them along the way that vegetables are important, so is protein, healthy fats, etc. I also teach them to listen to your body. One day my seven-year-old was having sauerkraut for breakfast. I asked him “why are you having sauerkraut for breakfast?” He said, “Oh, because mama I woke up feeling a little agitated. So I thought I can come downstairs and eat sauerkraut and help my belly feel better. Then when my belly feels better, that helps my brain.”

Dr. Tabatha:

Oh my gosh. This is so powerful.

Dr. Saeed:

Obviously, just like a kid doesn’t learn to read in one day, this is gonna take constant work over time. Maybe you are role modeling these type of behaviors, see what works best in your lifestyle by incorporating stress, sleep, social, spiritual health, digestive health and detoxification into your daily routines. Then this provides kids the skills that they need to fix things when they start to feel a little out of balance.

You just work with your children to create a daily routine, just like we do with sleep. The kids have chosen their own sleep schedule. They have their own sleep routines that they do to get ready for bed. Obviously, they’re not perfect all the time. They recognize if they go to sleep a little later, these chores still need to be done in the morning. They are responsible for getting up on time to get ready for school. They know if they wake up later, they’re going to have to suffer the consequences.

I treat the children, like real human beings with real consequences. I’ve never had to wake up my 14-year-old. He wakes up at 530 every morning because he knows these are the things I need to get accomplished. He goes to sleep exactly at 930 and then get’s himself up. He chose his schedule himself. If he doesn’t then he suffers those real-life consequences. We need to stop babying children and give them enough credit. If we can do it, they can do it. It’s really empowering.

Watch the full video interview here.

Tabatha Barber  

Yeah. because if you don’t teach them how to do it as a child then they’re not gonna be able to do it as an adult. So you have an entire generation of kids who can’t function in college and can’t hold a job.

Dr. Saeed:

The way we are spoiling these kids now is very sad. When I was growing up, we didn’t have social media all the time. Kids weren’t on their phones all night long. We had a routine, we took a bath or read a book. Now kids are on their phones doing screen time.

Dr. Tabatha:

Yeah. Oh my gosh, I love everything. So good! So you have another book coming out “Adams Healing Adventures, the Power of Rainbow Roods.” So tell me what this book is going to be about.

Tell Us About Your Next Book – Adams Healing Adventures

So during this quarantine, I was like what else am I supposed to do with the kids? We decided to start a podcast called The Holistic Kid’s Show Podcast. That has been amazing. We’ve had almost 40 guests from New York Times bestsellers. It’s been so awesome and powerful. We decided to write a book together.

We wrote this book together called Adams Healing Adventure: From Sickness to Health, it’s designed to help a child understand the pieces of their bodies that are super important to their health. In that book, we talked about all the things that we talked about today. How we need to create balance in our lives, manage stress, practice gratitude, make sure you live in a clean, low chemical environment, play with good friends, get good sleep and eat good foods, etc.

The next one is another children’s book is called Adam’s Healing Adventure, The Power of Rainbow Foods. How Adam was eating too much sugar. He didn’t feel so great. He was moody, agitated, and irritable, like your daughter.

This book is really meant for six-year-olds all the way to 11-year-olds. I use words like phytonutrients, but kids can start out understanding the importance of different colors of foods. They start out reading a little bit, then as they get older, they can read a little bit more.

Dr. Tabatha: 

Oh my gosh, well, everything you touch turns to gold because you are out there on a mission to really help kids be their best selves and not go down the paths that we went down. I’m just so grateful for the work that you are doing because it’s incredible!

Where Can My Readers Find You?

So tell my readers where they can find you because I know that they are going to want to follow you. They will want to read your books and get them for their children and their grandchildren.

They can follow me on Holistic Mom MD. You can find our books on Amazon and in local bookstores. You can also listen to the Holistic Kids Kid’s Show Podcast here.

Dr. Tabatha:

Awesome! I can’t wait to see what else you and your kids do. Because you’re raising some amazing humans.

Dr. Saeed:

That’s what we’re trying to do. Equip them to make informed decisions. The rest is up to them, but at least we haven’t left it up to chance from the very beginning.

To Wrap it Up

I could talk to her all day, she’s the best. So please check her out. She has so much valuable information. If we can actually make a shift in how we’re raising our children. Get them to be more mindful and make good lifestyle and diet choices from the get-go. That would be incredible. Be aware if you have limiting beliefs about your children. Don’t just say they’re picky eaters, they’re never going to change or they would never be into yoga or meditation, etc. Have faith and try something.

Sometimes you have to try it 5,10, 15 times, but there’s always hope. Keep trying, because that’s what we’re supposed to be doing as parents. Raising independent, productive, thoughtful human beings with good common sense, who have good self-worth, and make healthy choices for themselves. I know that’s my goal as a parent.

So my little golden nugget from this interview is waking up and making a list of 5-10 things that I’m grateful for. If you purposely do that you’re going to start your day off more positively. Then teach your kids to do that. I’ve seen firsthand how amazing it really is. My mornings go so much smoother. There’s no yelling, screaming, fighting, drama this and that. It’s just a beautiful, enjoyable morning getting them ready for school.

I would love to hear what your golden nugget (take-away) was from this blog post. Send me an email at info@drtabatha.com or comment below and share your golden nugget.