If we continue at the current trajectory 80% of all kids are going to have a chronic health condition by 2025. - Dr. Madiha Saeed

101: Getting to the Root of Chronic Inflammation and Disease in Kids with Dr. Madiha Saeed

White sugar is ubiquitous in our society and wreaking havoc on our health. I’m thrilled to introduce you to my friend Madiha Saeed, M.D.

In this interview we get into:

  • How refined sugar causes inflammation
  • Why inflammation is the root of so many diseases affecting modern humans
  • The insulin resistance problem
  • The difference between white, refined sugar and natural sugars when it comes to our health
  • The importance of gratitude to our overall health

I guarantee you or someone you know is battling one of these diseases caused by white sugar, and I bet the doctor isn’t calling it out as a root cause.

You’ll be educated and uplifted by this interview — you can’t help it once you hear Dr. Saeed get passionate!

Can’t see the video? View it here on YouTube.

No time to watch the whole video? Here are the notes!

Root of Inflammation Video Time Stamps

  • 0:07: Today I’m joined by Dr. Madiha Saeed on the Healthy Parenting Connector. Dr. Saeed is a family physician and has an infectious passion for health.

The Trouble with Inflammation

  • 1:02: Dr. Saeed gets right into inflammation and how traditional medicine practitioners deal with inflammation in their patients.

Chronic inflammation gradually destroys this magnificent masterpiece that we were born with. - Dr. Madiha Saeed

  • 3:17: There are two types of inflammation: acute inflammation and chronic inflammation. We discuss the differences.
  • 5:05:  I’m just baffled by these statistics about kids and chronic conditions, like autism.
  • 6:39: How do we find out about the root causes of inflammation? Let’s try to find those underlying causes instead of putting a Band-Aid anti-inflammatory on the issue.

Paleovalley Meat Sticks

It can be hard to find healthy snacks that you can take with you on the go. When I want the convenience of a jerky stick, but want a healthy, protein-packed snack option, I grab Paleovalley meat sticks. Paleovalley ingredients have these high standards that you can feel good about:

100% grass fed beef sticks, pasture raised beef sticks

  • 100% Grass-Fed Beef & 100% Pasture-Raised Turkey
  • Never given antibiotics or hormones
  • Gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free
  • 0 grams of sugar*
  • Contains no artificial nitrates or nitrites
  • Non-GMO
  • Naturally fermented and contain gut-friendly probiotics!

*With the exception of Teriyaki, which contains 2 grams of sugar from Organic Honey.

These beef sticks and turkey sticks taste delicious! My favorite is the Jalapeño but my kids love Summer Sausage.

Use this link to get 15% off your order at Paleovalley. Read my Paleovalley Review to learn more!

How Sweet It Is … Not.

  • 7:37: We get into the main topic of this interview, how sugar is related to inflammation and chronic disease.
  • 8:11: How is it that everything in our children’s lives is marked with a sweet treat — even a trip to the doctor’s office?!

If we continue at the current trajectory 80% of all kids are going to have a chronic health condition by 2025. - Dr. Madiha Saeed

  • 9:35: Dr. Saeed explains how sugar is addictive and how it contributes to different chronic diseases.
  • 10:35: Bad bacteria in the body thrive on sugar, and the more sugar you have the more you want. When my kids are sick, we always tell them they can’t have sugar because it feed the bad bugs and makes it like a germ party, but we don’t want the germs to stay, we want them to go away!

Sugar also disrupts your blood sugar balance with insulin spikes that can be really dangerous, leading to fatigue and brain fog and anxiety and mood swings. – Dr. Madiha Saeed

  • 12:33 There’s a relationship between mood swings and blood insulin spikes. (Ever experienced a “hangry” child?) Dr. Saeed educates us on how the cell works, how insulin reacts to sugar, and how your insulin balance is thrown off, leading to diabetes in adults AND children.
  • 14:58: Why Dr. Saeed avoids sugar with her own kids!

Kids literally turn into normal human beings when you start feeding them better. – Dr. Madiha Saeed

What About Different Kinds of Sugar?

  • 16:22: But I want to know … is there a difference with how your body processes refined sugar and natural sugars, like the ones in fruit? Dr. Saeed affirms that those fructose molecules bind with fiber, making them easier for the body to process.
  • 19:20: Even fruit is processed differently than fruit juice by the body. That fiber makes a huge difference!

Not all foods are created equally. Not all energy is created equally. Not all calories are created equally. - Dr. Madiha Saeed

  • 20:27: We talk about honey and maple syrup. Dr. Saeed does make some sweets for her kids with maple syrup, honey, and natural stevia.

If your kids understood nutrition labels, would they make better food choices?

Download a free worksheet:


Sugar, Studies, and What Doctors Are Missing

  • 22:06: I have some more questions about the relationship between sugar and inflammation. (You know I’m totally on board with sending processed sugar to jail, in handcuffs!)
  • 23:14 When we see studies about how sugar isn’t addictive, or coconut oil is bad, who is sponsoring those studies? It’s a little scary to confront.
  • 24:39: Dr. Saeed hits a little more on the good aspects of honey and maple syrup.

We're talking about replacing the sugar for a healthier, more nutrient-dense food versus just trying to take it out completely because that's never going to work. - Dr. Madiha Saeed

  • 25:31: As the Director of Education for Documenting Hope, a not-for-profit dedicated to healing chronic disease in kids, Dr. Saeed sees a whole lot of children with pre-diabetes and insulin resistance.
  • 26:02: Your kids have probably never been tested for insulin resistance and had fasting blood tests. Dr. Saeed outlines what kids’ numbers should be on these tests.

Working Around Sugar

  • 27:50: Dr. Saeed talks about how she works around sugar and processed foods with her own kids, and that giving them knowledge about nutrition has been the biggest building block.
  • 28:43: Even Dr. Saeed’s 6-year-old son can make cupcakes and help out in the kitchen!
  • 29:32: Is there any hope for reversing all of this inflammation and disease?
  • 30:21: Dr. Saeed outlines her key pieces of reducing inflammation: stress, sleep, social and spiritual health.

You don’t have to spend a million dollars on tests and supplements. You don’t have to go to all those doctors, you can start at your home, you can start in your kitchen, you can start in your bedroom, you can start in your bathroom. – Dr. Madiha Saeed

  • 31:20: Our spiritual and mental health has an impact on our physical bodies. Gratitude is an important part of fending off the negativity in our world.
  • 33:16: Keep your social health in top shape by surrounding yourself with positive people who encourage and support each other rather than dragging each other down.
  • 33:32: Many of us don’t prioritize sleep as much as we should. Our bodies heal and regulate while we sleep.
  • 33:54: Stress leads to 80% of complaints that come to primary care physicians.
  • 35:37: Dr. Saeed goes through some information about balance in the gut.
  • 36:46: Replacing inflammatory foods with the right foods to crowd out the bad bacteria is an important step.
  • 37:06: Three criteria for food: healing the gut, balancing hormones and insulin levels, and nutrient density.
  • 37:50: There’s a critical need for detoxification because of all the toxins in our environment.
  • 39:07: You have to start with the basics!
  • 40:25: Dr. Saeed shares her number one baby step to get started cutting out sugar in your family today.

Dr. Saeed recommends giving gratitude first thing in the morning, which I always forget, but I do have a habit that helps my morning attitude and stress levels a LOT, and that’s leaving my phone in airplane mode until my kids are out the door (and preferably longer).

That mini “digital detox” helps me be focused on my kids and my vocation as a mother, and there’s some thought in the brain science community that what you do in the first hour of your day sets neural pathways for the rest of the day.

If you’re being reactive to your email, it will be hard to be creative and focused later (my n=1 experiments prove this!).

If you’re feeling “scroll-y” on social media, it’s hard to buckle down to the tasks you need to do.

And if you’re distracted from your kids, they feel it too.

My next habit after this interview is going to be to make signs for my kids to remember to be grateful and start off the day well. I’m not using names, but it’s possible that some of my kids are not exactly morning people as full of energy as Dr. Saeed here… 😉

Stay safe in the sun, with reef-safe sunscreens

Over the last decade+, I’ve personally tested over 120 natural mineral sunscreens, my standards are very high, and nothing I recommend is considered dangerous to coral reefs.

My top recommended tier with only around a dozen winners is where you really should be spending your time. These formulas are held to the highest standard with rigorous government testing.

Ingredients refined to perfection that most of the time you could practically eat and efficacy and performance tested by the Kimball family in the field.

Find all my reviews of safe sunscreen that works here!

If you’re looking for the best reef-safe sunscreen, simply start there. Here’s a list of some of my ultimate favorites.

  • Kōkua Suncare with tons of antioxidants and my kids’ favorite scent and application (use the code KS for 15% off from Kōkua’s online store!)
  • 3rd Rock Essentials rubs in well and reliably prevents burns in our tests (use the code KITCHENSTEW for 20% off!)
  • Raw Elements for so many reasons, including their tinted stick for adult faces (all styles, use KS10 for 10% off!)
  • Maelove, which I call the best “transition” sunscreen when moving away from chemical ‘screens
  • Others that make the top-recommended cut: Badger, ThinkBaby, Adorable Baby, Kabana

If you’re worried about the white cast on your skin from zinc oxide sunscreen, check out my video on how to apply mineral sunscreen correctly to minimize it.

Resources We Mention About Sugar and Inflammation

Dr. Madiha SaeedMadiha Saeed, MD, aka HolisticMom, MD, is a board-certified family physician, best-selling author of The Holistic Rx: Your Guide to Healing Chronic Inflammation and Disease, and she speaks internationally igniting the world with her passion to ignite a healing revolution! — including to 40,000 at the United Nations! She is putting together the first Family Health Expo, a fun holistic wellness event for families.

The root of chronic inflammation

What You Should Do Next:

1. Subscribe to The Healthy Parenting Connector

Katie Kimball

I interview experts about kids’ health every week – stay in the loop with a quick Saturday morning email:



2. Try a Free Preview of my Cooking Class for Kids

Our members’ favorite lesson is always our 10-minute knife skills and safety class, teaching techniques with unique & memorable phrases from butter knives to chef’s knives (ages 2-teen). Take a peek here and try it out with your kids.

3. Enroll in the Online Cooking Course for Kids:

Enroll now in the Wall Street Journal’s #1 recommended online cooking class for kids (also rated 5 stars on Facebook). See what fits your family best HERE.

About Katie Kimball

Katie Kimball, CSME, creator of Kids Cook Real Food and CEO of Kitchen Stewardship, LLC, is passionate about connecting families around healthy food. As a trusted educator and author of 8 real food cookbooks, she’s been featured on media outlets like ABC, NBC and First for Women magazine and contributes periodically on the FOX Network.

Since 2009, busy moms have looked to Katie as a trusted authority and advocate for children’s health, and she often partners with health experts and medical practitioners to stay on the cutting edge. In 2016 she created the Wall Street Journal recommended best online kids cooking course, Kids Cook Real Food, helping thousands of families around the world learn to cook. She is actively masterminding the Kids’ Meal Revolution, with a goal of every child learning to cook.

A mom of 4 kids from Michigan, she is also a Certified Stress Mastery Educator, member of the American Institute of Stress and trained speaker through Bo Eason’s Personal Story Power.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Send this to a friend