April 15, 2021

109: Ophthalmology, Glaucoma, Macular Degeneration, Dry Eyes | Dr. Silvia Odorcic

Today I am excited to introduce you to Dr. Silvia…


Today I am excited to introduce you to Dr. Silvia Odorcic, a plant-based ophthalmologist from Canada. As a Harvard-trained MD, Dr. Silvia has over 15 years of experience treating patients with lifestyle-related diseases ranging from diabetes to heart disease. She is double board-certified in Lifestyle Medicine & Ophthalmology. She is also certified in Plant-Based Nutrition from Cornell University, a member of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, and completed the Culinary Rx program. 

Dr. Silvia graduated from Cornell University with a double major in English & Biology and completed her medical training at the University of Toronto and Harvard Medical School. She helps lead transformation through corporate wellness, 1:1 private coaching, and group coaching & course intensives curated to fuel change through community. 

https://www.drsilviamd.com/

Recommended episodes:

  • Ep. 80: Dr. Ann is a plant-based dentist and speaks about being able to diagnose certain conditions simply by looking at a patient’s dental health.
  • Ep. 93: Dr. Vanessa Mendez is a plant-based gastroenterologist who speaks on the gut microbiome.
  • Ep. 108: Dr. Micah Yu is a plant-based rheumatologist who talks to us about autoimmune diseases.  

Lifestyle Medicine Conference Nov. 7 -11, lmconference.org 

Transcript

Dr. Silvia Odorcic  00:00

And I always tell people, I think part of the reason I find the ISO absolutely magical is that you don't have to cut like, we don't have to cut your skin open. In order to see those vessels. It's the only place in the human body where we have a direct view, we just use a lens to focus the light and a microscope to magnify that image. We can look at your vessels and I can tell if you've got hypertension, I can tell if you've got diabetes from those blood vessels. I can tell if you have autoimmune conditions, for example, things like lupus sarcoid, all these things can show up in the vasculature. So yes, your blood vessels absolutely are a window to your health. 

 

Narrator  00:41

Welcome to the Plant Based DFW Podcast weekly show with Dr. Riz and Maya, a show broadcasted from the Dallas Fort Worth area that focuses on lifestyle medicine. This is the use of evidence based lifestyle therapeutic approaches, such as a whole food plant based diet, regular physical exercise, adequate sleep, and stress management to treat, prevent, and oftentimes reverse lifestyle related chronic diseases that are all too prevalent. Every week, They feature a guest who speaks on one of these lifestyle medicine pillars. This show is for you, the person who is seeking to improve your overall wellness and quality of life. So whether you are driving, walking, or relaxing at home, we hope this show will provide you one more tool for your wellness toolbox. Let's meet today's podcast guest 

 

Maya Acosta  01:32

Welcome back, everyone. This is Maya Acosta and this is episode 109. I also like to say welcome to our new listeners, if you're just tuning in. Thank you so much for taking our show into consideration. We hope that you like learning about lifestyle medicine. And if you've been listening to several of our episodes, we want to say thank you for your support. You can always learn more about our guests by visiting our website that's Plant Based, DFW podcast.com. There you will find every episode that we've aired, along with about 15 different apps that you can listen from and including the YouTube video and also a transcript of the interview. So today I'm excited to introduce you to Dr. Sylvia adore sick she is a plant based Ophthalmologist from Canada. As a Harvard trained MD Dr. Sylvia has over 15 years of experience treating patients with lifestyle related diseases ranging from diabetes to heart disease. She's double board certified in lifestyle medicine and Ophthalmology. She's also certified in plant based nutrition from Cornell University, a member of the American College of lifestyle medicine and completed the culinary art X program. She helps lead transformation through corporate wellness, one on one private coaching and group coaching and course intensive curated to fuel change through community. She has a program on our website called supercharge your life. And she just recently started one in April. It's a three month course but you can tune in follow her on her website, DrSilviaMD.com and her next program starts in June. In addition, I actually want to mention that the lifestyle medicine conference will be held in November, very close to Dallas in an area called Grand Prairie, Texas. This is the lifestyle medicine annual conference that happens every year. Last year it was virtual, but this year will be held in person. So November 7 through the 11th. If you're interested, anyone can attend it is a paid conference, of course, but if you're interested in wanting to check it out, this is the website lm conference.org. Also a couple of other podcasts episodes from our show that you might be interested in hearing after listening to this one. So we also had a plant based dentist Dr. Ann, who spoke to us about dental health and how she is also able to diagnose certain conditions just by simply looking at the patient's dental health. And that's on episode 80. Dr. Vanessa Mendez is a plant based gastroenterologist, and she talks about the importance of the gut microbiome. That's Episode 93. And recently, we spoke with Dr. Micah Yu about autoimmune diseases which Dr. Silvia also touches on, so you might want to revisit that one. That's Episode 108. Thanks again for listening. And I hope you enjoy this episode. Welcome, Dr. Silvia. 

 

Dr. Silvia Odorcic  04:28

Thank you so much Maya. I'm just so excited to be on your podcast and very excited to talk to your audience today. 

 

Maya Acosta  04:35

Yes, wonderful. So I said a little bit earlier before we got started if went over last night How to pronounce Ophthalmologist and I think I pronounced that wrong. 

 

Dr. Silvia Odorcic  04:45

No, that that was actually really good. It's Yeah, it's called Ophthalmology. And I know I remember when I first decided to enter that subspecialty I mean, even writing it my parents kept it Oh, Ph th like it was so confusing, but Yeah, you got it. It's Ophthalmology, which is the subspecialty that deals with, you know, eye diseases and eye surgery. 

 

Maya Acosta  05:07

I wanted to know ahead of time, if you can explain a little bit to our listeners, what the difference is, if I go to the shopping center, and I go to an America's best, who am I actually dealing with there? 

 

Dr. Silvia Odorcic  05:19

Yeah, that's a good point. So I'm based out of Toronto, Canada, but yes, we have a lot of sort of mall based or, you know, store based primary eye care and the person that would be helping you there is usually either an optometrist or an optician. So, so there's optician, optometrist, and Ophthalmologist. And I know sometimes it gets really confusing. I mean, they are all called eye doctors. So I'm just gonna give you guys a bit of a breakdown. So an optician is someone that has specialized training in optics, which is how we see light. So they deal with things like lenses, making your contact lenses, making your glasses, they're really good at fitting your glasses, for example, for you and those types of things. an optometrist goes through medical training as well through a school of optometry. So they have five or four years rather of study, where they're trained to deal with eye diseases in general. And they're sort of you're kind of primary caregiver. So if you go to a mall or something, oftentimes, you'd see the optometrist that would give you a detailed eye exam, and then either the optometrist or the optician would help choose your lenses for you fit you with contacts or fit you with eyeglasses. So that's who you'd be seeing. And then the last thing is the Ophthalmologist which is what I was trained in is actually a medically trained doctor. So first, we go through medical training medical school. And then afterwards, we do an additional four or five years of subspecialty training in Ophthalmology, where we learn how not only to deal with eye diseases and perform examinations, but we learn the surgical aspects. So that's the distinguishing point. So we can do everything from cataract surgery to removing lumps and bumps from your eyelid. You know, a lot of people do facial plastic, so like eye lifts, those types of things. We deal with common diseases like macular degeneration and glaucoma. And of course, we can do lasers. So either surgically required lasers, for example, or what people think about when I think about laser surgery, which is like the LASIK or the prk. That helps to kind of get rid of your glasses. 

 

Maya Acosta  07:34

What a great way to explain all of this. And I think I understand it a little bit better. I was reading that people that go into your field, Ophthalmology tend to understand the importance of lifestyle. Yeah. So before we move on to that, let's get to know you a little bit better. Dr. Silvia, you just mentioned a few minutes ago that you're in Canada. Tell us a little bit about yourself how you chose to go into this field and how you became plant based and then your interest in lifestyle medicine. I love that question. 

 

Dr. Silvia Odorcic  08:02

Thank you so much. My so yeah, I'm double board certified doctor living in Toronto. I grew up in Toronto, although I was born in Croatia. So I have a European background. And basically, I found this love of like eyeballs and undergrad, I took a class called the human eye and I thought this is the most incredible thing that I've ever read about and and learned about. And I wanted to figure out how I can incorporate that into my life. So at that time, actually, I was looking at you know, optometry versus Ophthalmology. And I thought the the, the surgical component of eyes, you know, dealing with it on a surgical basis really intrigued me so I decided to do the medical route. So I went and I completed my medical training and Toronto and Ottawa, and I went down to the states for a while I went down to mass sign year. That was such an incredible experience. And that's where I completed my my Ophthalmology training and Mass General and mass is near are just, I don't have enough positive words to say about those institutions. I mean, they're really powerhouses of Ophthalmology and vision research. And I got to spend time with an incredible mentor who is 95 right now. His name is Dr. Doleman. And he created the artificial cornea. So I spent some time learning about the artificial cornea and how that's implanted into the eye. And, and we did some research on dry eye and those types of things. So then I came back to Toronto and I thought, Okay, great. I'm going to start practicing Ophthalmology, which I did, and that was about five years ago. But in the meantime, I one night, had the I don't know what it was the insight or the intuition to just put on this documentary and it's called what the health so I'm sure you've probably seen the stock comentary and for those of you listening out there that haven't, I would highly, highly recommend it. What the health is a Netflix documentary that from a health perspective shows us about the power of plant based nutrition. And for me having just finished a decade of medical training, I was shocked. I was like, my world was just flipped upside down, because I thought, How can I possibly have finished 10 years of training and nobody had mentioned the power of plants, not only to treat, but even reverse many of the diseases I had been seeing in clinic like type two diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, obesity, all these things. So I went into a deep dive, I started listening to podcasts, reading books, and then decided to become certified in plant based nutrition. And finally, in lifestyle medicine, because I found this amazing, new and emerging subspecialty, that really helps put the power back into patients hands, right. So if we can dial in that, that nutrition, that movement, are asleep, then we can really become our best selves and really show up in the world as like, the strongest, most confident version of ourselves. And that's what I wanted to empower patients with. So that's how my lifestyle medicine journey evolved.

 

Maya Acosta  11:19

And like I said, That's according to what I read, people that choose your field are, understand the importance of lifestyle.

 

Dr. Silvia Odorcic  11:25

Yes, it's interesting, because as ophthalmologists, we see, just as a primary care physician, with see all sorts of walks of life and pathologies. And for example, I've diagnosed everything from common things like macular degeneration, to extremely rare things like cancer, that has metastasized to the eyeball. So we really see that spectrum. And at the same time, we know from our research in Ophthalmology, that that patients that are more plant based, that eat these sort of anti inflammatory foods, they have decreased incidence of all sorts of pathology, from cataracts, to even macular degeneration. So that's really powerful.

 

Maya Acosta  12:10

I'm so glad that you bring that up, because I had asked the community members, you know, some of the questions that they might have for you, and they go along the lines of what you just said, so I was reading and maybe you can explain this better, the eye itself has an again, you could probably explain it better, but the largest amount of blood flow per weight of tissue in the entire body. So maybe you can tell us, is that why you can diagnose conditions in the eye first, before you see as systemically throughout the body?

 

Dr. Silvia Odorcic  12:43

Yes, no, that's that's an amazing point. Yes, so the eye has a very diverse and big source of vasculature. Aside from basically the cornea, which is the front of the eye that bends the light and the lens, which eventually becomes a cataract, those things are what we call a vascular. So they they have no blood supply. Because if you think about it, if there's blood vessels growing in your cornea, which actually that happens to some people, unfortunately, that will impair your vision drastically. So those two areas of the I don't have any blood supply, but the retina, for example, and the koroyd, which sits behind the retina, which feet, which feeds the retina, those are very vascular structures. And yes, we can absolutely diagnose so many diseases just by having a direct insight into the back of the eye. And I always tell people, I think part of the reason I find the eyes so absolutely magical, is that you don't have to cut like, we don't have to cut your skin open. In order to see those vessels. It's the only place in the human body where we have a direct view, we just use a lens to focus the light and a microscope to magnify that image. We can look at your vessels and I can tell if you've got hypertension, I can tell if you've got diabetes from those blood vessels. I can tell if you have autoimmune conditions, for example, things like lupus, sarcoid, all these things can show up in the vasculature. So yes, your blood vessels absolutely are a window to your health.

 

Maya Acosta  14:16

That's one of the things that I can opt for pay a little bit extra to have that additional view into my eye. What is that procedure called?

 

Dr. Silvia Odorcic  14:24

That's a great question. So that's basically called a fundus examination. So the fundus is the back of the eye, we've got your retina, your optic nerve, and that is a part of a comprehensive exam. So when the optometrist has to look at your eye or an Ophthalmologist looks at your eye, that is like no exam is complete without doing that and if your eye is not dilated, which means that we put a special drop in your pupil, and that opens up the pupil to give us a full view of the back of the eye. If that part of the exam is skipped, pathology can be missed. So it's very crucial. At least once a year at baseline to get a comprehensive eye exam that includes a dilated fundus exam. So that's Thank you, Maya, that's a very good point to bring up for people.

 

Maya Acosta  15:10

I also like what you just said about really being able to diagnose an individual, my husband sometimes is asked as a vascular surgeon, is there a procedure that I can do to see if I have any blockages throughout my body? And he's like, Well, most of them are invasive. There are some things that you can do. But I mean, it's not saying that you'll rule anything out. But the eye exam, even if you're not wearing prescription lenses is important to have is what you're saying, right? salutely? 

 

Dr. Silvia Odorcic  15:37

Absolutely, because, you know, I've seen patients in clinic that they don't come in complaining of any ocular symptoms, so their vision is fine. And it is it's 2020 I check get with a chart. But then I look at the back of the eye and for example, I will diagnose them with glaucoma, even severe glaucoma just by looking at the appearance of the optic nerve. And glaucoma, for example, is a what we call like a silent blindness type of disease where you necessarily may not have any symptoms, but over time, you lose your peripheral vision. So you get a sort of a constriction of your visual field. And if that's not treated early on you that's a permanent visual loss, unfortunately. So for example, just by looking at the back of the eye, in a person with 2020 vision, you can diagnose glaucoma, help lower their eye pressure and save their vision in the long run.

 

Maya Acosta  16:27

I found it surprising. So I reached out to some of our listeners and asked, what sort of questions would you have for an Ophthalmologist who has the background of being plant based and lifestyle medicine? I kind of always have that out there or put that out there? Because the first thing that would want to ask is what foods do you recommend for having eye health, but also they they wanted to know are some of the conditions reversible. And you sort of already alluded to that eye dryness was a concern that some people had and also macular degeneration, like, can you prevent that with the rye foods? And can that be reversed?

 

Dr. Silvia Odorcic  17:02

Yeah, those are really good questions. So maybe I'll tackle the dry first, and then we can talk about the macular degeneration. So there have been studies showing that in terms of dry eye, that is something that comes with age. Also, unfortunately, women are more prone to it. Sometimes it has to do with hormonal changes, especially as we get into perimenopause or menopause. It also has to do with things like extended contact lens wear. So I'm a contact lens wear and I do have somehow dry eye. Because what happens is a contact lens, no matter how well it fits, it is a foreign substance in your eye. And over time, you have a what we call a low low grade of inflammation happening in the eye. And so that can affect some of the cells in the eyelid that make the what we call the lipid layer. So this is a fatty layer that comes out of your eyelids, that is a that forms part of the tear film. And if that fatty layer is disrupted, then your eyes feel super dry and gritty and burning and all those things that people complain about. So it definitely is important to you know, take all these factors into account. But like you mentioned, at the same time, diet does play a role. What I found is that in patients that I've seen, and I don't think any studies have come out yet, but in patients that I've seen on a very high fat diet, so like a ketogenic diet, where they're taking in the the majority of their calories are fat, or they have a very high amount of animal products, dairy, fish, all these things in their diet, they actually get inflammation in their eyelids, they get something called styes. I don't know if you've, you've experienced this or seen people that kind of like a bump on the lid. And that can become really inflamed and look like someone punched you in the eye. You know, so I've actually seen patients that come in with new or really bad size. Sometimes I'll ask them about their nutrition, and they will say that they're on a ketogenic diet. So yes, I think that that diet does play a role in dry eye. But again, there aren't huge amounts of studies. Now, I want to highlight omega three because this is something that the Ophthalmology community has researched into, at some length. And it was previously thought that taking omega three supplementation, usually very high amounts. So by very high I mean, anywhere from three to five grams a day would help with dry eye and the studies to be quite frank, some studies show improvement. Some studies did not show improvement. So in a recent paper that looked at as sort of a consensus that I read about two years ago, it said that we're not sure if supplementing with omega three helps for dry eye. But again, that's a little bit nuanced. So it might be something One thing that you might want to talk to either a plant based physician or a lifestyle medicine Doc, in some depth to figure that out for yourself. So that's the dry eyes story. And when it comes to macular degeneration, that's another great, great topic. And thank you for bringing that up. It's one of the most common causes of visual loss in, in North America. So it's extremely common, basically, what macular degeneration is, is like the gunk can, you know, offshoots of the retina that it doesn't want, it kind of clumps them into these deposits. And those deposits develop either inside the retina, or right underneath the retina. And unfortunately, over time, they can cause leaking of the blood vessels and even blood to spurt out into the retina and underneath the retina, and that can result in severe visual loss. So thank God for mass sign near and Mass General, I know I spoke about them earlier. But Dr. Tony Adamos. And the researchers there were the first to find out that you can use a compound called anti veg F. So veg f is a substance in our body that is overexpressed when we have abnormal vessels that burst and leak. But through using an anti veg f compound, which is injected into the eye, we can treat wet macular degeneration. So that's a big thing that's come up. But in terms of prevention, the two things I would recommend is eating a diet very high and anti inflammatory foods. So plant based predominantly. And then eating obviously, an abundance of foods and abundance of color, limiting obvious your processed food and your saturated fat, which comes mostly from animal products, and then wearing sunglasses, because we know that the UV light affects not only cataract formation, but does affect macular degeneration. So those are a couple things you can do.

 

Maya Acosta  22:04

Since you did touch on sunglasses, what do you think about the blue light glasses that are now being prescribed for many of us who are actually working on the computer sell out or on our devices?

 

Dr. Silvia Odorcic  22:16

Yeah, I love that question. So yeah, that's something I think that's sort of come up in the media and then in society in the last couple years, and I think it was, I'm trying to think it's, I think it was Dave Asprey, who's like the he's kind of a keto guy, and he wears those blue blockers, who's really into those. So, yes, I mean, there, there, there absolutely is an association between blue light and your circadian rhythm. So what happens is, when we're looking at our screens and our phones all day long, especially as evening approaches, we're getting the blue light from our screens, straight into our retina. And that's signaling a disruption in the melatonin. So unfortunately, the normal circadian rhythm, which, you know, the melatonin increases, and then you start feeling sleepy and, and, you know, you start winding down that is disrupted. So it is very important to get the blue light, but at an earlier timeframe, so when you want to be awake and you're raring to go like in the morning, in the afternoon, that's when you want to go out and the sunlight is the best source of that. So I tell all my patients just go out if you can, even if you're moving your body for like five or 10 minutes, take a walk at that natural light, okay, that'll wake you up, that'll set your circadian rhythm. And then as evening approaches six or seven, you want to start winding down. So for some people, they're very disciplined, they can completely shut off their devices. For other people, they have to work and that's fine too. So you can use other the blue blockers like glasses, or a simpler way that I do it is you just take your phone and you go into the display and settings and there's a night shift mode. So that just turns your screen a little more orange and takes out that blue, that stimulating blue light. And you can do it on your computer too. I know that there are various programs called f locks and other things you can install on your laptop to do the same thing. So those would be those would be things you can do.

 

Maya Acosta  24:19

What are maybe a handful of myths that you hear a lot from your some of your patients or from the community.

 

Dr. Silvia Odorcic  24:26

That's a wonderful question. Yeah, I think we all know growing up that carrots are supposed to be good for the eyes. And there is some truth to it. Obviously, carrots have, you know, carotene and various phytochemicals that do help with vision. But I have to be quite honest with you based on the research, for example, eating an abundance of carrots. Um, it's not going to help your vision in a specific way. The key is just to eat a balanced you know, Whole Foods sourced diet with Various fruits and veggies and various colors, but picking out any one specific thing and saying, Okay, this is going to prevent this disease or that disease. That's more of like T. Colin Campbell, who wrote The China Study, he talks about a reductionist approach, right? That's a very reductionist approach. I think it's impossible for us to isolate one compound and say, this is going to be the magic pill, it just doesn't work that way. And we know that when we eat these phytochemicals in their proper packaging, so when they're packaged with the fiber, with all the other phytonutrients, in their proper whole food forms, that's where we get the most benefit. So extracted supplements and these things, I don't really recommend those. Although with the vitamin A, for example, there there is there are very few people in North America that would ever suffer from severe vitamin A deficiency, I diagnosed one myself, but this woman, she actually came from an African country. So she was, she definitely had a vitamin A deficiency, which shows up as night blindness. And this is very rare, it's super rare. And again, you wouldn't get this unless you were malnourished in a general context. So of course, if you are coming from another country where you are malnourished, and you have sort of maybe lower caloric intake, then yes, that would be that would be something you can consider supplementing, but for us no like that. eating carrots isn't going to be like the magic pill for you.

 

Maya Acosta  26:39

Now, I had mentioned it, because we're members of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine's, Women's Health Interest Group. And so I had previously mentioned that a lot of our listeners, the majority are female, with a, you know, age range of 35 to 50. It just all depends. And we know that you know, as women, we typically kind of support one another like to share resources, we bring this this information to our homes to our significant others. And so I wanted to know what particularly drew you to that interest group, the women's interest group, and I know that you're using your platform on Instagram to also have a podcast and bring more resources to your listeners. So can you tell us a little bit about that?

 

Dr. Silvia Odorcic  27:23

I'd love to I love that question. Thank you, Maya. Um, I think for me, um, women's empowerment, and focusing on women's health is something that is a recent development and development in the last couple years. But it's something I'm super passionate about, and how did it grow? You know, I think it just grew organically in the sense that as I found my own voice, and decided that I was going to empower myself to inspire others with health information, I then began thinking about how important it is for women, for us as women to speak out. Because even though we've come a long way, okay, we still have grown up in societal paradigms and norms where, you know, I was taught to be the good, the good girl, I was taught to just listen, not rock the boat, even going through medical training, you know, most of the mentors that I saw out, there were males, okay, middle aged males, I didn't have really any women role models. And so for me, I think with the next generation growing up, it's super, super important to empower women, to let them know that they can take health into their own hands, that they can be physically strong, that they can be mentally fit, that they can become emotionally robust and resilient. And that that's, that's actually a portal for them to find and fulfill their life's mission. So that's, that's sort of how that train of thought developed. But yes, so for me, although obviously, I, I give, you know, information freely on my Instagram and through my platforms, I do definitely have a passion for women. And so, you know, many of your viewers and listeners might notice that my Instagram is very, like, I focus on aesthetics too, because I want it to be beautiful. I want people to be drawn by it, because we're inspired by things that we are drawn to and that are beautiful. So I do spend time making the content not only robust in terms of evidence, but beautiful and just captivating. And yes, the women's prove I love it. So the through the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, there's this women's group, and right away when I noticed that there's this women's interest group, I thought I have to be part of that. Because I think that when we surround ourselves with amazing, powerful women like yourself, who are doing such amazing things in this world, our own power grows. So women, empower women, and I'm all about that.

 

Maya Acosta  29:59

Yes. Definitely, you know, it's interesting because my own interest in health took place many, many years ago, before I met my husband, I wasn't looking for a physician to marry. But it just so happened, right? By my interest was there to always kind of do research and find alternatives, compared to, you know, surgeries and medical medication and things like that. And so I been reading for a long time and had an interest in it. So then, today, I see my role more as being kind of a patient advocate of providing resources and helping to inform the community, the patients so that they feel more comfortable when they're speaking with a physician. And I recall one time hearing one of the physicians saying that depending on your background, and how you were raised, and how confident you are as a person, you tend to either ask more questions and be more involved with your physician, or you kind of shy away and feel like you're bothering the physician, right. And so I think that the more that individuals in general, listen to podcasts, like yours, like mine, and see other resources, they become more informed, especially when you're dealing with individuals that promote lifestyle, medicine, and nutrition. So, and then, of course, I always want to encourage people to read, but that's my biggest thing.

 

Dr. Silvia Odorcic  31:17

I love honestly, everything that you've said right now has resonated with me so deeply. And this is what I teach my patients and the people I work with through my coaching programs is that you are the captain of your own ship, we call it autonomy. Autonomy is when you align with your highest values. And when you take the ownership of your life, I call it radical ownership into your own hands. You know, a lot of patients that I see in the clinic, like you said, they take a backseat, they don't come with their medication list. They don't seem interested in their health and wellness, they miss appointments. And it's really not up to anybody else to pull you along, you know, or that the Secretary needs to call you for your missed appointment. That should be something that each one of us is passionate about. And of course, we're at different stages in our healthcare journey. But if we can empower people to really take health into their own hands, you have to be your own best health advocate. And I'm just going to tell you a really quick story about my own health journey. When I went plant based four years ago, I went to my amazing family physician that I've known my entire life. And I told her I'm going plant based. And she actually has a daughter who's a naturopath. So I thought okay, maybe she has some knowledge of alternative healthcare, complementary medicine, she's going to get what I'm saying. But it was not what I expected. She actually told me that, can I please start eating fish again, that I should become flexitarian. And that she's concerned about my omega three, I remember this crystallize in my mind, like it was yesterday. And she said, you cannot get omega threes from plants. You must eat fish. And I remember walking home and just feeling deflated. Because even at that time, I did not have my my voice to empower myself to say, wait a second, is that like, Can you just back up your knowledge? Can you and not in a negative way? But can you give me resources on where you're getting this information from? And tell me more about it. I just went home feeling just so deflated. And the next couple months I was eating fish thinking should I be? Do I need to be doing this? Like what, like, who's right here, who's wrong. But eventually, as I learned more about the evidence base, of course, we can get our omega three from algae, which is where the fish get it from? And no, we do not have to eat fish. That's not a requirement for living our best life. But again, at the time, I felt very disempowered. So yeah, I think that having clarity around your purpose and why you're doing this and like you said, really teaching yourself going for those podcasts going for those books going for those doctors that you know, are inspiring you, that will equip you with knowledge to be able to speak on your own behalf and be your best advocate.

 

Maya Acosta  34:10

You know, we hear it all the time, too. I mean, if we don't have support from our family, and we don't have support from our physician, that's when we kind of need to reach out and be part of a Facebook group, for example, where there's support. So you mentioned your coaching programs. Can you tell us about those?

 

Dr. Silvia Odorcic  34:25

I'd love to so I you know, as I started my plant based journey, I started getting messages and DMS and things about, you know, do I offer online courses and I thought, Okay, this is such a powerful way to empower people. So I actually have a course called Supercharge Your Life and I'm so excited and proud of this course it is an online course it's a three month course that takes you using evidence-based through nutrition, so plant based nutrition, through movement, and then the third part of the course His mindset and habits. And this is one of the most important parts of the course. But people often overlook it. Because if we can't build consistent habits and incorporate these things into our lives, well, then it doesn't matter. We can take all the notes we want about plants and moving and stuff. But if we can't make it a part of our lives and integrated, then it's sort of useless. So in my course, I combined knowledge with action to allow women to step into their full power. And it involves also group coaching calls where we get together, and I answer people's questions in a small intimate setting, as well as an online exclusive community where they can interact with each other, and integration through exercise and workbooks. But basically, it is just an experience, it is just a way for women to devote three months to themselves, and to just really boost their energy, boost their mood, and become confident in their knowledge. As they make these life changes.

 

Maya Acosta  35:59

It's exactly lifestyle medicine package. It's it's very ideal. Yeah. Are you still the in practicing as an Ophthalmologist?

 

Dr. Silvia Odorcic  36:06

I am so due to COVID I have taken a break from the surgeries. But I am clinic based so I do practice in Toronto. But when it comes to lifestyle medicine, my offerings are online and virtual. Because to be quite frank, I think that's the way to reach the most people. And it's just powerful because you can work with people in a completely different timezone, you know, in Saudi Arabia and and help them so I think lifestyle medicine is very amenable to sort of virtual consultations and coaching. Whereas Ophthalmology, I have to, you know, examine the eye and have the person sit into the the slit lab machine that, you know, I can't do online as of yet, who knows where technology is going to go in the next decade, but as of yet, we can't do it virtually. So that's sort of how the two sides complement each other.

 

Maya Acosta  36:59

Yeah, I love how we have been given this opportunity to reach out to more people than ever before. Whereas before we concentrated ourselves in our immediate, you know, location or city, there was someone else who I interviewed who I then not only do I listen to her meditations on our podcast now, but I also have participated on in a in kind of online retreat. And even though we are tuning in from different places of the world, if still feels like I'm connecting, you kind of already touched on this, but systemic inflammation, which can you can pretty much diagnose through just doing an eye exam, what we talked about earlier, you said that you can actually see whether a person is dealing with lupus, sarcoid. And also can damage caused by rheumatoid arthritis be reversed as well?

 

Dr. Silvia Odorcic  37:47

Oh, that's an interesting question. And actually, I do see lots of patients with autoimmune diseases, because unfortunately, the autoimmune condition can affect the eye just like anywhere else in the body. So patients with rheumatoid arthritis, they have really, really bad dry eye, like the worst you've ever seen. To the point where some of them cannot function, they can't even open their eyes. So they get these, what we call these massive sclera lenses. So these are lenses that that vault over the eye that they have to wear. And they all they even have to undergo surgeries to put various things like amniotic membranes, if you can imagine, on to their eye, okay to restore their vision. So yes, rheumatoid arthritis, the inflammation can be nasty in the eye. And a lot of people will come to me with something called IR write us. So this is a common condition where the front of the eye, the anterior chamber of the eye, where the aqueous fluid is, that gets inflamed and the iris gets inflamed. So people will come in with loss of vision. And with light sensitive, there's very, like the light is just excruciating for them. I can pick them out on the way down because they're wearing they're the ones wearing glasses. I'm like, okay, that's probably not right. As patient, you know, they come in with the big glasses. But yes, all sorts of conditions from Crohn's, for example, to something called ankylosing spondylitis, to rheumatoid arthritis, to lupus, all these things can cause inflammation in the eye. So how do we prevent it? That was that was the The other thing you asked? That's, that's a good question. I mean, I think we as of yet, we don't really know a lot about these autoimmune conditions. What we do know is that there's been a huge spike in autoimmune conditions in the last decade or two, like massive and it's, it's most in industrialized nations. So I'm actually read reading I don't know if you're aware of the book fiber fueled by Dr. Will will be well both. Yes. He is a gastroenterologist and his book fiber field is just so eye opening because he looks at it from obviously the stem point of your gut your gut microbiome. But we know that the gut microbiome, which is directly linked to the plants we eat into the food we eat, right, that has a direct correlation to our immunity. So somehow that disruption in the healthy gut flora that live in your, in your gut, that has caused autoimmune conditions to spike. So one way that we can prevent, potentially the onset of these conditions, or even developing these conditions, is to maintain that healthy gut micro flora. And we do that, as you guessed, with an abundant, whole food plant based diet. That's how we build those healthy gut bacteria.

 

Maya Acosta  40:41

I have one more question I heard you talk. And, you know, we know that there's a difference in how healthcare is approached in the United States as opposed to Canada, patients in Canada, for example, do they pay separately for eye exams, and I care and I help in general?

 

Dr. Silvia Odorcic  40:56

Yeah, that's a good point. So um, as you know, in Canada, our health care is covered for medically necessary things. But that doesn't include regular eye checkups. So when you go to your optometrist, unless you're over 65, or under 18, or have a medical condition, such as diabetes, that can affect the eye, you're paying out of pocket for that. So that's either private pay, or of course, if you have private insurance through your employer, that that gets covered that way. However, for anything, where you'd see an Ophthalmologist that is all covered by our, our universal health care, except for what we call elective procedures, those would be like LASIK, you know, when you get LASIK on your eye, or if you have like a little lump or bump, that's not a cancer, people always come to me asking me, you know, let me remove that thing. And I say, I'd be happy to but it's something you have to pay out of pocket because the government unless it's a cancer, we don't cover eyelid surgery. So those are some examples where the majority of it is covered. But you still got to pay for your glasses, contacts. And your point of care usually, yeah,

 

Maya Acosta  42:04

yeah, I feel like that's one big reason why many people do not take care of their eye health or their dental health, for example, is that those are additional expenses. And not only just to get the exams, but all the other things that come with it. Is there anything else that you'd like to share with our listeners about your practice? And anything any other programs that are coming up?

 

Dr. Silvia Odorcic  42:26

Yeah, first of all, thank you, Maya for this opportunity. And I know that you and Dr. rez are doing amazing things in your community. You know, Walk With A Doc the plant pure pods, like the whole thing. And of course, your podcast is such a powerful way to get your message across. The only thing I would leave people with is that dialing in your nutrition and looking after your body for me at least it's really, it's a means to an end. It's not the end goal itself. So a lot of people might think okay, well let me get fit so I can fit in those jeans or, or look good or so that my friends can see me drinking smoothies. But that's really not the end goal for most people, right for us. As human beings our health is truly just a vehicle for us to get us where we want to go in life. So in order to fulfill your life's mission, to do what you're put on this planet to do, to live a life of service and and expansive love and and and just to be amazing, and all the ways that you can you You must have a healthy body and a healthy mind. And yeah, I just want to tell you guys that once you start dialing that in all sorts of doors can open for you. So that's just the beginning. It's just it's a it's a constant journey. But it's a journey where you really get to unlock your most magnificent potential. And that's it starts with health.

 

Maya Acosta  43:53

It really does. I like that in order to fulfill your mission, your goals, you have to be optimal, you have to have that optimal level of health. So what is the best way that people can learn more about you your website and your social media?

 

Dr. Silvia Odorcic  44:07

So I'm most active on Instagram. So my handle is at Dr. Silvia s i l vi a.md. So that's at Dr. Silvia md I love sharing my evidence base there and my inspirations and then the other thing is my website is triple w.dr Silvia md COMM And that's where where I'll be presenting my offerings, including personalized coaching, which is upcoming and that's where my supercharge your life course is going to be renewing itself in April. So I have a amazing group of women right now that are going through the course and enrollments going to open again in April. So I'd love to connect with all of you out there and even if you just have a nutrition question or just some random thing, shoot me a DM and I would love to connect with you all.

 

Maya Acosta  44:59

Definitely And I'll include those links in our show notes. And thank you again, Dr. Silvia, for joining us. And this was so informative. I think you helped answer a lot of questions that we have for you.

 

Dr. Silvia Odorcic  45:09

This was so fun. My I can't even tell you again, thank you for your platform and your enthusiasm, and you're doing amazing work in this world. So thank you once again.

 

Maya Acosta  45:18

Okay, everyone, I hope that you enjoyed this episode, head on over to our website PlantBasedDFWpodcast.com/109. That is where we're holding this episode with Dr. Sylvia in common you can tell us what you think about the episode. Did you learn anything? Were you surprised to learn that she can actually diagnose a person by simply looking into their eye? Let us know. Thanks again for listening. You've been listening to the Plant Based DFW Podcast show. If you like our content, please like, share and leave a review. Our goal is to provide quality episodes to help support the community