Our Exclusive Interview With The Health Coach Maisa Zureikat
So, you’re looking for a health coach who really knows their stuff when it comes to your digestive health? Look no further! Maisa Zureikat is a detective, digging deep to uncover the root causes of your health woes. She won’t just slap a band-aid on your symptoms and call it a day. Oh no, Maisa is all about getting to the bottom of things and giving you a personalized treatment plan that will get to the root of your ailments. With lifestyle changes, nutrition, supplements, and more Maisa will help you achieve your optimum state of health. Who needs a doctor when you have a coach like Maisa by your side?
What made you decide to specialise in digestive issues and hormonal imbalances?
My own experience with digestive and hormonal disorders inspired me to become an integrative nutrition health coach. My child’s digestive issues had a significant impact on our lives from an early age. For years, I moved from one country to another, meeting various doctors, and changing emergency rooms, clinics, and medications, we were eventually unable to find a solution. As a mother committed to assisting her child, I knew I needed to begin educating myself, so I began attending courses, masterclasses, conferences, and summits, which opened up a whole new world to me. (I was shown the light at the end of the tunnel.) I was introduced to the holistic approach to our health, and it was at this point that I met chiropractors, naturopathic, homeopathic, and functional medicine doctors. This revolutionized our lives because it fixed my son’s fundamental problem quickly and without putting him on medicine.
A few years later, when I started with my peri-menopausal symptoms, I knew exactly what to do. I wasn’t going to watch this happen again and give in to the band-aid solution that conventional medicine has to offer for menopausal women. I started studying, trained, and certified at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition in New York City with a health coaching and hormonal imbalances degrees I was ready to start my journey to educate and try to spread awareness to help women around me suffering from gut issues and hormonal imbalances in a more holistic approach -considering the mind, body, and soul approach through lifestyle changes and using food as medicine to prevent diseases that will eventually need medical intervention (or interference). Helping women prepare themselves for a smooth menopause starting from the age of 30 and even earlier.
How do you define the root cause approach?
The root cause approach is the approach of functional medicine to treat and optimize health by addressing the root cause of illness. This is based on the idea that once you know the cause of your disease or illness, you will be able to prevent and obtain wellness. The duty of functional medicine is to find out what is triggering or annoying your immunity system, and once the triggers are found the treatment will be directed towards stopping the triggers rather than treating the symptoms.
How do you determine the root cause of a client’s symptoms?
As a health coach, I am trained to identify the symptoms that precede an illness. I try gathering as much information as I can to identify the red flags that we may not see as individuals, playing a medical detective through a health history session I try to understand my clients’ stories and what brought them here in the first place, where did their story start, and by finding the antecedents, the mediator and the triggers that are causing the imbalance or aggravating the signs and symptoms of the illness.
What are the common causes of digestive issues? Do some of the causes overlap with hormonal imbalances?
As we gather our story as health coaches, we always start with the gut, as most imbalances start in the digestive tract. Inflammation due to a faulty diet and chronic stress, the use of antibiotics, and food sensitivities are at the top of the list when it comes to gut problems. A lot of personal lifestyle factors and environmental toxins also contribute to digestive issues from sleep, and movement. Mold and candida also are on a long list to blame when it comes to gut health and digestive problems. Since the gut microbiota plays a major role in our reproductive endocrine system throughout a women’s lifetime by interacting with our sex hormones. An imbalance of the gut microbiota composition can lead to several diseases and conditions, such as pregnancy complications, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, and a lot of perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms. I see a lot of hormonal imbalances that often stem from constipation for example.
How do you tailor your approach to meet each clients unique needs and circumstances?
Bio-individuality is the idea that there is no one size fits all approach to health and nutrition. We are all unique in our biological makeup each one of us have his own health needs, we know as health coaches that no two people thrive on the same diet or lifestyle, just the way we are all unique in our mind, body, and spirits, we are also unique in the factors that support our health and happiness. One person’s food can be another person’s poison. Our lifestyle factors that. Make us all different have a huge impact on our overall wellness in general, that we can not ignore. Usually, I take a step back and look at the bigger picture, from genetics, blood type, gut health, the way we were born, environmental exposures, food sensitivities, the food we ate as children, the places we lived in and our circumstances, routines, practices, preferences that will work with each of us differently, as well as the coping mechanisms that we use to help us flight stress. People will always respond differently when it Come to relationships, career, and physical activity and no one diet will work for two people. That’s why tailoring a different program for each client is key, all theories are right for someone but never for all of us, Just like some people will respond well to coffee, gluten, or milk while others won’t one program will never fit all.
What are some lifestyle changes that you often recommend to clients with digestive issues or hormonal imbalances?
As I mentioned before, there is no one fit all approach when it comes to our health. But the basics are similar whether it’s a gut or a hormonal imbalance. Maintaining a healthy weight, engaging in regular exercise, managing stress, getting enough good quality sleep, crowding out sugar and alcohol, reducing EMF exposure, watching out for environmental toxins, and getting alkalized, in general, will help in all cases. We as humans will always hunger for play, fun, touch, romance, intimacy, love, achievement, success, self-expression, leadership, excitement, adventure, and spirituality. All these elements are essential forms of nourishment, this is where we all need to start.
How do you incorporate nutrition into your treatment plan?
I believe that food is medicine, both primary and secondary food. Eliminating the food that doesn’t suit us and focusing on the food that fuels us will dramatically change our health for sure, and eating a clean diet will always promote overall health and wellness, yet what we eat will also impact how we feel, a clean diet containing the right amount of nutrients, vitamins, and proteins will change the population of the bacteria that colonies our GI tract (our microbiota). We always need to keep in mind that when we eat we are feeding trillions of bugs that are colonizing our intestinal, and these bugs are constantly producing what will either make us sick or keep us healthy. Also, We could be eating all the kale and broccoli in the world, yet if we are not nourishing ourselves on a holistic level, we will never feel vibrant. Eating disorders happen to people who aren’t doing well, unhappy marriages have a lot to do with our health, problems in our relationships will always reflect on what we eat, our career, religion, and spiritual practices, all are very important for our well-being. It’s not always what is on our plate, what we feed our soul is as important. Why do we crave food? Is a big question. Our body will never make mistakes, always remember that we were all perfectly designed.
How is your approach to treatments different from other health coaches or practitioners?
As a health coach, my job is not to treat my clients, but rather be an Ally and a resource. Together we discover the steps that will lead to higher levels of health and wellness. As a health coach, my job is to uncover the cause of their symptoms, after gathering the information needed and identifying the triggers for any imbalances, depending on the case I may refer to medical, psychological, nutritional, or any other health-related services needed to seek treatment. Meanwhile, I will be a source of support and accountability, helping my client to follow through with any treatment plans that these professionals may have suggested.
Personally, I highly believe in the functional medicine approach but that doesn’t mean that we may not need the conventional medicine interference. Bio-individuality and the unique needs of each person that will keep on changing throughout our lives, from diet and lifestyle is the core concept of health coaching. Understanding the effect of primary and secondary food on our health and well-being and believing that given half a chance our body has the ability to heal itself alone. My approach is always to diagnose the real reason we get sick, not the name of the sickness that a dr. Will end up giving us, knowing what is activating our stress response, and what is suppressing our immune system is key if we want to heal ourselves. Our mission as health coaches is to play a crucial role in improving health and happiness, and through that process, creating a ripple effect that will transform the world.
Can you walk us through a typical treatment plan?
As I mentioned before the health history session which is my first meeting with a client, is very important to establish trust and intimacy. The health history will have a lot to say about the client’s health, antecedents, triggers, and contributors to any health issues that they may have. I will be looking at blood tests they may have done, medications they are on, or supplements, Making sure there are no deficiencies or strong side effects that may be triggering their symptoms. Trying to create awareness around their situation, together we walk through their lifestyle, relationships, physical activity, home environment, and social life trying to identify their strengths and the areas that they can grow in, linking it all to their health condition. At this point, if there is something that needs medical attention I will refer them to a specialist, and follow up after their consultation, depending on what they were prescribed, If the problem is not a red flag then we work together to make sure that the changes needed in their primary and secondary food is applied and I will be holding them accountable for it. Depending on each case, we can be working on sugar imbalances, bowel movements, stress relief, chronic inflammation, memory, thyroid, hormonal balancing, mood swings, weight loss, and much more, all through a program that will be put according to each one bio- individually.
How do you help clients address the emotional and phycological aspects of their health?
Few people are aware of the connection between nutrition and mental disorders like depression, bipolar, schizophrenia, OCD, ADHD, Autism, anxiety, eating disorders, and even addictions. If you are anemic for example, your brain neurotransmitters won’t be ok for example, and it’s only a matter of time for you to be depressed. The same will be applied to your hormones and your gut microbiota, they all have to do with our feelings and mood. It is proven now that nutrition can play a major role in the onset, severity, and duration of depression. Poor appetite, skipping meals, and a dominant desire for sweets are all food patterns that we notice during the depression.
A low carbohydrate, low protein diet will affect our amino acids and tryptophan levels in our brain and tend to precipitate depression. Nutritional deficiencies seen in patients with mental disorders are often of Omega 3 fatty acids, B vitamins, folate, Iron, selenium, zinc, as well as minerals, and amino acids. Knowing all that and discussing it with my clients, trying to accommodate and change their diet and supplements accordingly will always ease up emotional and physiological symptoms, all this under a specialized doctor’s supervision for sure.
Coaching through primary food, is also key, helping them find ways to manage stress, and finding the root causes for their unhealthy food choices is very important for them to be able to heal themselves, it’s all linked. Often very smart people don’t eat smart, and finding the why behind it is teamwork that we work on together.