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How important is fiber to our health? In this episode, Dr. Will Bulsiewicz explains the importance of eating a variety of plant-based foods to support our gut microbiome’s overall health. He also shares how to increase our gut microbiome’s biodiversity, the difference between prebiotic and probiotic, and the effects of these two in our gut.
Hello, true health seeker and welcome to another exciting episode of the Learn True Health podcast. I’m loving the series that we’ve been doing on gut health and healing the body by healing our gut. If you haven’t already listened to the last episode, we did episode 439 as I think it plays really well into today’s episode with a gastroenterologist who focuses on—instead of using drugs and surgery—using food to heal the gut. I know these two episodes play really well together. And then after this episode, so 441, is going to be an amazing episode about healing the gut as well and tests that we can order to fully understand the foods that we want to eat or avoid to properly feed the microbiome.
Why is it that your husband can eat one food but if you eat that same food you’d get bloated? Or why is it that some people can eat a certain way and be fine but other people are not even though those are both healthy foods? Well, that is going to be uncovered in episode 441. We’re continuing our series on gut healing.
Something I found with the Learn True Health podcast is guests tend to book themselves all clumped together and it ends up being the same subject. I reach out to many different holistic health professionals. I give them a link and they sign up to get on my schedule, and they choose the date that works best for them. So many times it turns out that within one week, I’ll have several interviews that are all about the same thing, that are all about heart health, or all about gut health, and I didn’t coordinate it. They don’t know each other, and they don’t know that they’re doing it. But so many times, I’ve sat down and looked at my calendar and realized that I’ll have several interviews in the row about the same topic. Not covering the exact same information, but complementing each other. This is where I really feel that God and divine intervention are taking place on so many levels in our life, and I can see it when these episodes come together in such a wonderful way.
I believe the latest episodes that have been published and are going to be published really complement each other. And I invite you to look at your life and see where wonderful divine intervention is taking place, possibly the information you’re hearing today. I’ve heard from several listeners, they’ll contact me through email or through Facebook and they’ll say, you know, I was just praying or I was just thinking about wanting this information and boom, I turned on your podcast and they were talking about exactly what I wanted to hear. That is so cool. I just love that. I love how what we focus on and what we want to have show up in our life we can create it. Neurologically speaking, it’s the reticular activating system, which is a part of the brain that will seek out what we choose to focus on.
If you’re someone who has anxiety or would love to learn more about how the brain works, and how we can optimize our life for success, eliminate procrastination, and eliminate anxiety, I invite you to take my course. So I’m a master practitioner and trainer of neuro-linguistic programming, and I spent 14 months putting this course together. It is a wonderfully fun course where you learn all these techniques—the behavioral change techniques for personal growth and development. Go to learntruehealth.com and in the menu click on the Free Your Anxiety course and take it. It’s phenomenal, I love it, and I do give a money-back guarantee if you take it and it’s not your cup of tea. Although so many listeners have said it’s been completely life-changing. So I invite you to check that out.
I also invite you to check out the course that I put together with my dear friend Naomi where we have filmed ourselves cooking in the kitchen delicious recipes, and we also include information on how to heal the body with teas, herbs, and different foods—both cooked and raw—and why those fibers or those nutrients in those foods are so healing for the body. So if you love listening to the podcast, you’re going to love the Learn True Health Home Kitchen membership. Check it out, try it for a month, it’s less than $10 to just try it for a whole month and get all the delicious recipes out of it. And if you continue to enjoy it continue being a member. You’ll be supporting the Learn True Health podcast. This is what I do full time, and so you’d be supporting me to continue putting out these episodes, but also helping you and supporting you and your family to learn delicious recipes that are designed to heal the body and nutrify the body. So you can go to learntruehealth.com/homekitchen for more information about that.
Like I said, also check out the Free Your Anxiety course. It is very powerful. And please, come join the Learn True Health Facebook group. We’d love to see you there. We have a wonderful community of people that are totally into holistic health and healing, love to answer questions, support each other, share insights, and share inspiration. Whatever you’re dealing with, whatever you’re looking to heal or to optimize, we’re a whole community that wants to get behind you and get to behind each other and support each other in our success.
Thank you so much for being a listener. Thank you so much for sharing this podcast with those you love. Continue to share the episodes that you know will make a big difference. We’re going to turn this ripple into a tidal wave and help as many people as possible to learn true health. Enjoy today’s interview.
[00:05:50] Ashley James: Welcome to the Learn True Health podcast. I’m your host, Ashley James. This is episode 440. I’m so excited for today’s guest. We have on the show a doctor that specializes in healing the gut. And isn’t that the first place we need to start when it comes to building our health? I’m really excited to have you on the show. Dr. Will Bulsiewicz, welcome to the show.
[00:06:20] Dr. Will Bulsiewicz: Ashley, thank you so much for having me on the show. It’s an honor to be here. I’m excited to talk about it.
[00:06:24] Ashley James: Absolutely. I’m thrilled that you focus on healing the gut when so many doctors just throw drug after drug after drug at people. I know in my 20s I was so sick. I had chronic infections, and every time I went to the MD, I got another antibiotic. And I’m sure that did not help. Years of being on antibiotics did not help my health. One of the first things I had to do was heal my gut and what a difference it makes. When you heal the gut first, so much comes into balance. So I’m really excited to hear your story though. What happened in your life that made you want to become an MD? Which normally, MDs don’t typically go the route of holistic medicine, right? That’s not a typical MD move. So what happened in your life that made you want to become an MD? But then what happened that made you want to help people heal their body and heal their gut with food?
[00:07:22] Dr. Will Bulsiewicz: Yeah. Well, I think that when we have individual experiences, similar to what you described in your own life, those things motivate you and drive you to think outside of the box. Particularly when you have to go outside the box to find your solution, to begin with. So for me, how I became a doctor really starts from a really simple thing, which is the desire to do something where I would help people. I started down that path. I mean, basically made the decision when I was in high school—16 years old. This is what I want to do with my life, and that was the motivation. Truly, if it was about money, you should go on banking, not medicine.
So I started down that path and I didn’t really get there until I was 34 years old. But during that process, it feels like I woke up one day and I was 30 and I felt like I was 60. I look in the mirror and I weigh 50 pounds more than I did in high school, which is for me a tough pill to swallow because I was a three-sport athlete, so I think of myself as an athlete. And there I am, looking in the mirror and I have this gut. I have high blood pressure, tons of anxiety, low self-esteem, and tremendous fatigue to the point that I’m basically caffeinated 24 hours a day like drinking coffee at 9:00 PM at night. Something had to change.
I trained at these great American institutions. I went to Georgetown for med school. I was the chief medical resident at Northwestern, one of the top internal medicine residencies in the entire country. And I went to the University of North Carolina for my GI training. And within my field in gastroenterology, many people consider UNC to be—if not the best—clearly one of the top two or three. I trained at these great institutions, but here’s this problem that I have. I weigh 50 pounds more than I used to. I have high blood pressure, high anxiety, and I don’t know how to fix my own issue.
At that point in my life, I was incredibly good at dealing with the care of an acutely ill person who is crashing in the hospital. That’s what I have been built for, that’s what I spent so much time training on, which is the person who might die unless you do something, then you do that thing, and you bring them back. That’s what I was good at, but I was not good at conventional healthcare, taking care of the routine person, giving them dietary advice, and preventing illness as opposed to waiting for the illness to arrive. I wasn’t good at that because the system didn’t prepare me for that. So I needed a solution. I needed a solution in my own life.
So being a typical type A medical doctor type, I decided to try to work my way out of it with exercise, and I started showing up at the gym six days a week—30 to 45 minutes of heavyweights, and then jump on the treadmill for a 5K to 10K during the winter. Or if it was the summertime, go to the community pool and swim 100 laps. Did that six days a week. I could build strength. I could build muscle. I could build endurance. I couldn’t lose the gut.
When things changed for me was when I met the person who actually is now my wife. Because we went on a date and I have to tell you, at this point in my life—I’m in my early 30s and I’d never been around anyone who was vegetarian let alone vegan. I honestly didn’t even really know what the difference was. I see this person that I’m on a date with who’s eating completely plant-based, and she’s eating without restriction, cleaning the plate, loving her food, and completely satisfied. Meanwhile, I have a post-meal hangover, and I’m struggling just to keep up after because I want to go home and put on some sweatpants.
This relationship opened my eyes and made me think. Maybe it’s the diet that I was raised on. Maybe the food that I have consumed since childhood is what is actually affecting my body in a negative way and holding me back. So I started to make changes in my nutrition. It wasn’t a radical change. It wasn’t going all the way to one extreme. It was just making simple substitutions. Instead of going out for fast food, I would go home and I’d make a big like 30-something ounce smoothie. Or instead of drinking a two-liter of soda, which I actually did back then, I would drink water.
And making those simple substitutions, next thing I know the fat is just melting off my body. The blood pressure issue goes away. The anxiety lifts, my self-esteem surges, and I start feeling young, vibrant, and alive again. It was so powerful that I said, why have I not heard anything about this? I trained in these great places. How come I was never taught anything about this? I turned to the medical literature thinking there must not be anything out there. This must be a space where we just don’t have the studies yet. I was really shocked when I found there were literally thousands of high-quality studies that already were in existence, and I just hadn’t been taught about them.
This motivated me to start devouring nutritional information, and I was studying in my free time. I was doing it at night. I was staying up to do it. And then I was bringing what I found into my medical practice, using it to take care of my patients with digestive issues, and seeing radical transformations in their life on par with the way that it changed in mine. And that was so provocative that—I mean, I have to tell you. I never in a million years thought that I would be on this podcast with you, talking about my New York Times bestselling book, or having an Instagram account with 150,000 followers. I never thought of any of those things because it wasn’t the plan.
I’m the guy who creates plans. I think they’re going to happen, and all of a sudden here I am—and this was like 2016—and I just felt like I had to share this story of what was happening in my clinic. I didn’t really like social media at all. I still don’t, but I felt compelled to share. So I started posting stuff and not really thinking anyone would be interested. One thing led to another and in 2018 I did a podcast interview that went viral. 300,000 people have listened to this podcast now. When that happened, the energy was so profound surrounding these ideas that I was putting out there. There was so much energy that I was like I have to compile this into something so that people can get the whole story in a structured, organized fashion. And there’s really no better way to do that than to write a book.
That’s when I decided, in August of 2018, that’s what I wanted to do. I spent basically the next year and a half doing it. Investing everything that I had, all my effort, waking up early—5:00 AM in the morning writing. I was at Starbucks here in Charleston, South Carolina from 5:00 AM until 7:30 PM. They know me really well at Starbucks. I know the deals. I know that you can get a free refill if you want it, and basically wrote this book. And then it came out in the middle of a pandemic. I just had to adapt to that. But the bottom line is that here it is, it’s arrived, and two months after release 35,000 people have bought a copy of this book.
[00:16:14] Ashley James: Nice.
[00:16:15] Dr. Will Bulsiewicz: Yeah, and I’m getting messages. If you just go back to that 16-year-old kid who sat there and said I want to help people. That has been what’s motivated and driven me this whole time. People, they may or may not know this, a book itself does not pay the bills. I paid the bills with my medical practice. I’m a full-time gastroenterologist, but to get messages from people from around the world who have read the book and are healing their digestive issues—healing their autoimmune, their hormonal, their metabolic, or their mood issues, restoring function to their body. To get those messages on a daily basis is incredible, it’s a dream come true for a doctor.
[00:17:11] Ashley James: You have a clinic as a gastroenterologist. What does that look like? Are you doing colonoscopies? What does it look like to go to you if someone has gut issues?
[00:17:24] Dr. Will Bulsiewicz: So I spend about half my time doing procedures. So during that time that I’m doing procedures, I do colonoscopies and upper endoscopies. For example, an upper endoscopy, it is typically a five to ten-minute procedure, and it allows me to look in the esophagus, the stomach, and the small intestine; allows me to, for example, take biopsies for celiac disease, which these days, unfortunately, our blood tests for celiac disease—I don’t know how much people realize this, but the blood tests are completely inaccurate or completely inadequate in terms of testing for celiac disease.
So the endoscopy is the gold standard that allows me to firmly know whether or not a person has that. I also spend my time doing colonoscopies. A big portion of that is colon cancer screening. But then the other half of my time, this is part of what I love about my field. One of the things that I love is I get to use my mind, to be very personal with my patients, and have relationships. But I also get to use my hands, and that’s kind of fun. So half of my time is spent in the clinic talking to people, hearing their health history, breaking down what the problems are, creating complex plans of how to attack them, and finding solutions.
[00:18:48] Ashley James: I have an interesting guest. Have you heard of Chef AJ?
[00:18:53] Dr. Will Bulsiewicz: I love Chef AJ. She’s a dear friend.
[00:18:55] Ashley James: Okay, great. So she tells her story in one of our past interviews. She’s been on the show twice. I think it was the first interview I had her on. And she shares that although was vegan for ethical reasons, was a junktarian, ate lots of junk food. She went for a colonoscopy cancer screening and her doctor found pre-cancerous polyps—bloody polyps through her whole colon and her colon looked just totally destroyed. She’s so afraid of surgery that she decided not to get surgery to have them removed, but she ended up going to a center and doing a deep cleanse, doing a raw food vegan. Whole food but the foods are alive. She did that, and then she came back six months later and had her colonoscopy. Her doctor got very angry at her. Have you heard her story when she tells it?
[00:19:52] Dr. Will Bulsiewicz: I don’t think I’ve heard this one.
[00:19:55] Ashley James: Okay. So her doctor gets really angry at her. I imagine the doctor was the same kind of profession as you are. So he’s sitting there, he’s doing the colonoscopy, he just starts getting angry, and he goes, “Who did your surgery? And she said, “What are you talking about? You’re my doctor. I have insurance with you. I wouldn’t go to a different doctor. I’m terrified of surgery. If I were to get surgery it would be with you.”
And he’s sitting there, the camera, staring at her colon and going, “Someone did surgery on you. I knew where every single polyp was and all the pre-cancerous polyps and none of them are here. They’re all gone. Your intestine, your colon looks like vascular and healthy like a newborn baby. It used to look just disgusting and purple.” Whatever color it looked like before. He was visibly upset at her because he did not believe that she healed her body with food. But there was another doctor who was maybe a resident or something from India. She whispered to Chef AJ. She goes, “I believe you.” Because this doctor had seen coming from India where it’s more acceptable to heal the body with food.
It was interesting. I’ve heard many stories, and I’ve had my own personal experiences where MDs just do not believe you can heal the body with food. That it’s part of the training. So what happened in medical school? Did you have teachers say to you like no, you can’t heal the body with food? Do they actually try to tell you guys that? Or why is it that most MDs don’t believe you can heal the body with food. I love that you have broken away. It’s kind of like you came out of the Matrix and you’re able to think for yourself and go no, we can heal the body with food. Drugs are a tool but they’re not the only solution. Since we’re putting something in our mouth that our body is using to build healthy cells, shouldn’t we look first to food? Did any part of your education try to tell you that we can’t heal with food?
[00:22:04] Dr. Will Bulsiewicz: I think that there’s a pervasive culture of allopathic Western medicine that stands in the way of accepting these types of ideas, and that’s unfortunate. It’s something that is hindering the quality of care and also the quality of the relationship with the individual patient. Because at the end of the day, if you try to tell a reasonable, rational person that the food that you eat makes no difference, any reasonable or rational person would say that’s BS. That’s BS. How can you possibly say that the food that you eat makes no difference? It’s very obvious that the food that you eat does make a difference. So if it does make a difference, how much of a difference does it make?
The modern science shows us that if you look across all of humanity on our planet, and you were to quantify health and disease, you would discover that just 20% of actual disease is driven by genetics. I mean, look, there are individual diseases, don’t get me wrong, like down syndrome. If you have the gene, you have the disease. But if you look across all humanity, just 20% of disease is driven by genetics, which means that 80% is driven by our environment, driven by diet and lifestyle. The 80,000 pounds of food that we are going to eat during our lifetime, that will always be far more powerful than a couple of milligrams of medication. And you can’t prevent disease effectively with medication. There’s very little evidence to support that that works.
You can’t overcome a bad diet with medication. You can’t make someone back to net neutral. The best that you can do is cover it up. That’s the best you can do is just cover up the problem with the medication, and that’s not really addressing the root of the issue. If our problem exists because of our diet and lifestyle, then to ignore our diet and lifestyle in the treatment plan is to never actually address the root of the issue.
So from my perspective, we need to go there. We have to go there. Now I can’t say that there was ever any conversation where people said, that there was formal teaching, that no, diet is worthless, or diet is not important. That was never said. It’s more so that if you withhold the education on diet and nutrition, if you never actually provide that information to people, and all you do is ask them to study and learn the side effects of all these bazillion drugs and the indications, and you know how to do this surgery, if that’s all that you teach them, then it’s unrealistic to expect them to just automatically transition. As intelligent as medical doctors are, they’re not trained and taught how to have a conversation about conventional nutrition. That’s the problem.
[00:25:36] Ashley James: Yeah, absolutely. In college, when I took anatomy, my teacher was actually a retired neurosurgeon. When it came to studying the joints, he said once someone has—because we also studied pathology with him—arthritis, when your client has arthritis, they cannot regrow it. Once you have damaged your cartilage you cannot regrow cartilage, no supplements work, and he got kind of angry. Supplements don’t work and diet doesn’t work. Nothing works. When someone has arthritis that’s it. They’re done. You can’t regrow cartilage. Obviously, he must be smarter than me. He was a neurosurgeon. He knows what he’s talking about. And I just thought it was really interesting.
Years later, I met a naturopathic physician who regularly helps his patients and clients reverse arthritis. I know a friend of mine, her mom, in six weeks on a whole food plant-based diet, all of her arthritis symptoms went away. It’s amazing what the body can heal, and it’s also amazing that we’re taught by people we put on a pedestal—people that we put in authority—were told that we can’t heal.
Now as a patient is on your table, you’re doing a colonoscopy, and you see they have polyps. Let’s use Chef AJ’s example. Their colon is bleeding a little bit. It definitely does not look vascular and healthy. Maybe it looks just discolored and they’ve got some polyps that you identify as possible pre-cancerous polyps. What’s your next step with them versus other doctors? What do you do with them to help them to heal their body?
[00:27:16] Dr. Will Bulsiewicz: Well, I think that from my perspective, the solution is in having a conversation about diet and nutrition. That’s where the opportunity lies. And a big part of the issue, from my perspective, is the absence of fiber in the American diet. If you look at the consumption of fiber in the United States, we may be the culture with the least consumption of fiber in human history. We certainly are probably about as close as we could get to the worst. The average American is consuming 15 grams of fiber per day.
Now to put them into perspective—15 grams—the minimum recommendation on a daily basis for women is 25, for men is 38. Actually, it’s really embarrassing when we do these fiber studies because the way that we’ll set them up is we’ll say let’s compare high fiber consumers to low fiber consumers. And what you’ll see when the study is done in the United States is you’ll see the high fiber consumers are getting 22 or 23 grams of fiber per day. And most people don’t know enough about fiber including the doctors to register the point that even the high fiber consumers in these studies are not even getting the minimum recommended amount on a daily basis. It’s embarrassing. 97% of Americans are not getting enough.
When I say fiber, by the way, I’m talking about fiber from real food. Fiber comes from plants. Plants have a monopoly on fiber. And the way that you should get your fiber is by eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, seeds, nuts, and legumes. The reason that I want to motivate fiber consumption is that I know the vast majority of Americans are wildly devoid of fiber in their diet. And also, because I know that there is a direct connection between fiber and the prevention of colon cancer. So let’s unpack that a little bit.
When we eat fiber, we’ve been taught that fiber goes in the mouth and just goes through, sweeps through the colon—some people describe it the way it sweeps through, and it just comes out the other end as a torpedo. All right. That’s like sort of the traditional teaching on fiber. We always think of grandma stirring the orange drink so that she can have herself a bowel movement. We need to update our definition. We need to understand the actual way that fiber works in the body, which is that there are many different types of fiber. They’re not all the same. We have oversimplified fiber by just counting grams or just calling it soluble or insoluble fiber. And the reason why we’ve simplified it so much is because fiber is incredibly biochemically complex.
If you were to look at fiber molecules—I was a chemistry major in college—I look at them just like what the heck is that? Because of that complexity, we try to keep it as simple as we can and we look at it as soluble and insoluble fiber. Well, insoluble fiber does what we traditionally think of fiber. It just goes in the mouth and it comes out the other end. But soluble fiber is a totally different story. Soluble fiber passes through the small intestine—untouched—and it arrives into the colon. When it gets there, your gut microbes, which reside predominantly in your colon, they get into an absolute feeding frenzy. They go crazy because fiber is their preferred food. You’re feeding your gut. And when you feed them, they consume it, these microprobes become stronger, and they become energized. Because of that, they are more capable of upholding your human physiology.
These microbes are so central to the way that our body works. We need them in tip-top shape to help us out if we want to be healthy. When we feed them fiber, that’s what we get. We get healthy microbes that are strong, energized, and ready to help us, and they help us immediately on the spot. Because what they do is they take that soluble fiber, they consume it, and they transform it into short-chain fatty acids. Short-chain fatty acids like butyrate, acetate, and propionate. These short-chain fatty acids, we can unpack them. We can talk more about them throughout the entire show. I am obsessed with them. They are an entire chapter in my book. I honestly think this is the biggest secret in all of the nutrition that no one is talking about, and we should all be talking about it.
We can get distracted by all these other red herrings. We should be talking about why we need more short-chain fatty acids in our life. And when we talk about colon cancer itself, in the study of colon cancer, we discover that short-chain fatty acids have been shown to directly impair the development of colon cancer. So it creates this mechanistic pathway, which is that fiber comes into the colon, connects with the gut microbes. When you put these two ingredients together—prebiotic fiber and these probiotic microbes, you combine them, and they basically will create for you these post biotic short-chain fatty acids that will directly impair the development of colon cancer.
It’s no surprise that colon cancer is the number two cause of cancer death in America because we’re completely fiber devoid. If you compare African Americans to native Africans, native Africans consume a very high fiber, low-fat diet. African Americans, typically, traditionally, consume a very high-fat low fiber diet. Before I even tell you the number to frame this, if you said there were two times the risk of developing colon cancer, in the cancer world, that would be a lot. If you said three times, you go whoa, that’s crazy. If you said five, you go this is completely bonkers.
All right, the number is 65. African Americans have 65 times the colon cancer that native Africans have. It’s absurd. That’s ridiculous. And it’s because we’re not taking care of our diet, we’re not taking care of our microbiome, and we’re not feeding our microbiome what it needs to give us these protective molecules, these short-chain fatty acids. And when you zoom out and you apply this mechanism, it’s more than just this connection from an epidemiology perspective between African Americans and native Africans.
You can find studies from around the world, different cultures showing us that high fiber consumers—when I say high fiber I mean actually high fiber meaning definitely more than 38 grams of fiber per day. High fibers consumers have virtually no colon cancer, and there was a major, major, major review done that came out in January 2019 by Andrew Reynolds, and I wrote about this in my book, where it was basically a mega meta-analysis. So a meta-analysis is where they compile studies. We have a hierarchy of evidence, and the hierarchy of evidence says that the highest quality evidence comes from a meta-analysis where you compile studies to answer questions. And in this mega meta-analysis where he did multiple meta-analyses, Andrew Reynolds and his science team found numerous benefits to fiber for longevity, for heart disease, and for cancer, in particular—no surprise—colon cancer.
[00:35:57] Ashley James: That is something to wrap our brains around, isn’t it? I’m fascinated by the microbiome. It’s about six pounds of bacteria that live in our gut that help us. It actually makes nutrients for us. It helps us digest our food and make nutrients for us. And we live in such a sterile world, especially now, everyone’s using hand sanitizers. We’re constantly thinking about how to sterilize our food and food is just dead. The average household is eating packaged food, and the food is just dead. It’s void of life. It’s void of healthy bacteria.
You’re saying we need to adopt a diet that works with our microbiome to get the nutrients the body needs. And that’s great. The fiber, it just doesn’t go in one end and out the other. It’s doing so much more for us. I loved learning that fiber helps bind to the toxins that the liver has excreted through the gallbladder and helps to remove the estrogen that the body is getting rid of. It helps to remove all of the chemicals, the pesticides, and everything that the liver is trying to excrete. And it also binds the cholesterol in the gallbladder. The bile juice, it’s binding to all that and bringing it out. And that people who are constipated or eat low fiber, the colon can reabsorb it. And we see that in studies where people do fasting.
I had a guy on the show where he did different things with fasting. They took blood and they found that the body would reabsorb certain pesticides because they were testing for chemicals and pesticides. But with fiber, when there was something to bind to it, the body wouldn’t reabsorb it. So it becomes very exciting. Are you saying everyone should go and start drinking Metamucil? Is any fiber good? Or are certain fibers better than others? I’ve heard that there’s a kind of fiber from potatoes, for example, or there’s non-resistant starch. There are all these different kinds of fibers, which one should we eat?
[00:38:27] Dr. Will Bulsiewicz: I have so much I want to say. I’m so excited to talk about all this.
[00:38:33] Ashley James: You have the floor.
[00:38:36] Dr. Will Bulsiewicz: I’m a nerd, I’m a nerd. I love everything that you just said. I want to get into it more. All right. So to answer your question and try to not get distracted by so many tangents that I would love to talk about, let’s talk about fiber and optimizing fiber, okay? It starts with exploring the relationship between fiber and these microbes, which is an incredibly important relationship for the health of our gut microbiome. Fiber is their preferred food. But let’s talk a little bit about what that means. Let’s define the gut a little bit first.
Your gut is made up of 39 trillion microbes. That’s a ridiculous number. How can we put that into a number that makes sense? Okay, try this. We live in the milky way, that’s our solar system. Take our solar system with every single star that exists in the sky—every single one—and you have 100 solar systems worth of stars living inside of you right now that are microbes. Mostly bacteria, but they also include yeast, archaea, sometimes parasites, and I’m not counting viruses in this number 39 trillion, but there are viruses too. They all live there in harmony and balance. This is an ecosystem. Your gut, microbiome this community of microorganisms that by the way are as alive as you and I are, they are.
There’s an ecosystem in the same way that the Great Barrier Reef and the Amazon Rainforest are also ecosystems. And if you’re a biologist, there is a simple rule that applies to every single ecosystem and is a measure of the health within that ecosystem, which is biodiversity. When you have a more biodiverse Amazon Rainforest, a more biodiverse Great Barrier Reef, you have an ecosystem that is resilient. It is strong. It is prepared for any challenge or perturbation that you throw at it.
Let’s go to the Amazon for a moment. I don’t like snakes. They terrify me, I used to have nightmares when I was a kid like snakes being in my bed. I don’t love mosquitoes, they annoy me. I don’t like these creatures, but here’s the issue. If you remove all snakes and all mosquitoes from the Amazon Rainforest, you’re going to create a biological hole that the other animals are not designed to fill. And there will be a ripple effect that will have negative consequences on the health of the entire Amazon Rainforest because of that.
So biodiversity is key. We need all these players. We need as much diversity as possible, and that applies to our microbiome too. We need a diversity of species, as many different species as possible. So how do we get there? Okay. Let’s understand how they live because they’re alive, which means they need food. They got to eat and their preferred food is fiber, but not just generically fiber. There are at least millions maybe even billions of types of different fibers that exist in nature. Every single plant has its own unique types of fiber. And these microbes, they’re just like us. They’re picky eaters. All right.
Chef AJ is vegan, I’m vegan too, but we don’t eat the same food. She’s got her preferences, and I have mine. Guess what, these microbes are just like that. They have their preferences. They don’t all eat the same. They don’t just generically eat fiber. So when you eat a particular food, let’s use the black bean as an example. You consume black beans, you send these black beans down to your microbiome, and there are specific populations of bacteria that are going to thrive because you just fed them. They will grow, they will be more strongly represented within your microbiome, and they will reward you with whatever it is that they do best, which may include the production of short-chain fatty acids. They will go to work helping you.
But the opposite of that is also true. If you say I am going bean-free, no more black beans. Okay, well this population of microbes that are waiting to be fed black beans, they’re not being fed. And just like us, when you don’t feed them, they starve. They grow weaker. And at some point, they grow weak to the point that they’re incapable of holding up and doing the job that your body needs them to do. And potentially it can get to the point where they go extinct. Just like the loss of mosquitoes and snakes within the ecosystem, when you have bacteria within the ecosystem that are not able to do their job, you create a loss of balance where that ecosystem, that gut is not able to keep up with the rigors of supporting human health anymore. And that’s what dysbiosis is.
Dysbiosis is a damaged gut that’s out of balance. Some people call this leaky gut, and we’re basically talking about the same thing. So we want to maintain that biodiversity. And the way that we do that is by recognizing each unique species of bacteria has its own way of eating, and they like fiber. But not all fiber is the same. Every single plant has its own unique types of fiber. So when we eat as many different varieties of plants as possible, we are delivering as many different types of fiber as possible to our microbiome, and therefore supporting the dietary preferences of the broadest diversity of microbes possible. This is a core idea in my book, this is my central philosophy for human health and diet, and this is the most important thing that I’m going to say in the entire episode, okay. Not that I want people to turn off after I’ve said this, I got more to say. But if there’s only one thing that you take away from our episode today, let it be this.
And this is more than just Dr. B’s idea. This is actually scientifically validated in the largest study to date to make a connection between diet and lifestyle and the health of our microbiome, which is called the American Gut Project. In the American Gut Project, they found that there was a clear-cut number one predictor of a healthy gut. The most powerful driver of gut health was the diversity of plants within your diet. So it’s a change of philosophy where this is not about grams of fiber, and this is certainly not about consuming mono fibers like Metamucil.
This is about getting as many different types of fiber into your diet as possible so that you can support the biodiversity of your microbiome. And as a result, just like the Amazon Rainforest, just like the Great Barrier Reef, you create a lush, biodiverse, stable, and strong microbiome that is prepared to uphold the pillars of human health, which are digestion of your food which basically is access to nutrients. What’s more important than that?
And these microbes, beyond that, are also connected to our immune system, our hormonal balance, our metabolism, and even our mood and the way that our brain functions. Human health starts in the gut. And the most important part of human health isn’t even human, it’s these microbes, and we need to feed them. We need to feed them, and we’re just not feeding them in the United States. We’re starving them. Then we’re surprised when we have an epidemic autoimmune disease.
[00:47:11] Ashley James: That came out of nowhere. When you and I were kids, autoimmune disease was not as pervasive as it is today. It’s definitely on the rise. Would you agree with that? Would you say that the illnesses that we’re seeing now are in no way the same numbers as when even when you were in medical school? That we’re seeing an increase in these illnesses. I mean, the question is, is it that they’re getting better at screening? Of course because technology advances, right? However, there weren’t this many autoimmune issues 20, 30 years ago, was there?
[00:47:55] Dr. Will Bulsiewicz: Yes, there definitely was not. People can argue the statistics in whatever direction. And if they have an agenda, they’ll figure out their way to argue the statistics to feed their agenda. But if you take a step back and you just look objectively, think about something like ulcerative colitis, which presents with profound profuse diarrhea that’s bloody, and it occurs around the clock. You wake up in the middle of the night because you got to go number two. That to me is not something that you would miss for years on end. That’s not detection bias. It either exists or it doesn’t exist.
In Brazil, it’s quite fascinating to do epidemiology case study looking at third world countries as they modernize into first world countries. Brazil westernized really ramping up from the late 80s through the 90s and into the 2000s. They really started to ramp up and westernize. And during that period of time, they saw an 11%-15% increase in ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease on literally a yearly basis. Think about that growth. That’s absurd. And these doctors that were down there, they had never seen this before. We were very used to treating this in the United States because our epidemic was already fully here, but down there, they had never been seeing this. So they had to start basically flying up to the United States and attending our meetings and hearing how we treat these patients because they had no experience.
[00:49:50] Ashley James: Because the diet changed so quickly because the country became more Americanized and their diet changed to more of an American diet?
[00:49:58] Dr. Will Bulsiewicz: They just changed to more of an American diet. This is starting to unfold in China too. Not that we have reliable statistics coming out of China, but they’re starting to westernize and follow the same patterns. Ashley, I know you would agree with me that it’s more than just diet.
[00:50:17] Ashley James: Yeah.
[00:50:18] Dr. Will Bulsiewicz: Diet is the number one driver, okay. Let’s take a step back and think of our life in the context of how radically things have changed in 100 years. Think about your relative, whoever that might be, your great grandparent or your grandparent, whoever that may be. A hundred years ago, for them, there was no processed food. They knew the farmer more than likely. Everything was locally sourced and in season. There was very little use of pesticides—at least the modern pesticides had not been invented yet. The animal products that they consumed—if they did consume it, most of them did—at least those animal products were not hyped up or pumped up with antibiotics and hormones.
Lifestyle-wise, think of the percentage of people who walked to school back then compared to the percentage that walks to school today. Radically different. Think about how they entertained themselves. We do Twitter at 10:30 PM at night and expose ourselves to the blue lights, which by the way disrupt our circadian rhythm and suppress our melatonin. So that even if we do sleep, we’re not getting good sleep. We are watching television. We’re sitting on couches. We’re sitting in offices and working on computers all day. That’s not the way that they lived back then. They were very active. They didn’t have access to vehicles for transportation as readily as we do these days.
Here we are, and there’s just been this radical lifestyle and diet transformation that has occurred in the last 100 years where now, the average American, their diet is 60% processed foods that didn’t exist 100 years ago. And 30% of the American diet is animal products that are hyped up on hormones and antibiotics. And literally just 10% of the American diet as fruits, vegetables, whole-grain seeds, and nuts. And perhaps the saddest part of it all is that when I say 10% actually most of that is french fries.
We have made huge, huge changes in a very short period of time. It’s putting an evolutionary strain on these microbes, and none of the changes that we’ve made have been advantageous to our microbiome. All of them have inflicted harm. And now, here we are.
[00:53:05] Ashley James: About 15 years ago, I read a really funny book. So if anyone’s looking just to kick back with a funny but true story, The Sex Lives of Cannibals. Have you ever read that book?
[00:53:16] Dr. Will Bulsiewicz: No, but I love the title.
[00:53:19] Ashley James: Yeah. I bought it because of the title. I was like, what is this? But it’s a true story. So a man travels with his wife—I think it was actually his fiancé at the time—and they go to the South Pacific. There are island chains in the South Pacific like Vanuatu and Christmas Island. He talks about how hot it is, obviously, down there. I think she works for Red Cross or something and he’s a journalist, and so he thought this will be fun. I’ll bring my typewriter or whatever. I don’t know if he brought a laptop because it was spotty whether they would ever have access to electricity.
They get down there and the first island they land on after—I think they came from New Zealand—they land on a bigger island and it is definitely Americanized. He couldn’t believe how many fast food joints from America he saw because he thought he’d be exposed to a different culture, and yet it just felt like he was in Hawaii with all the American food. And he also noticed the people kind of looked like they were from Hawaii or looked like they’re from the United States. And then they ended up going on a smaller island where there was all the people who lived there ate the way they’ve eaten for hundreds of years. And they all gardened, fished, and lived off the land. And they were all very healthy and they didn’t have any access to McDonald’s.
He just noticed the two. He just noticed it was interesting. He didn’t go deep into it, but that planted that idea in my mind of I wonder what it looks like. It’s probably been long enough since he wrote that. I think he wrote it 20 years ago. I bet we could go and collect the information—because they’re all Polynesians. They’re all genetically similar, but we could go look at this one island that’s 50 miles away from this island and see okay, well this island people have been eating for the last 20 years McDonald’s and more of an American. They have constant access to electricity so they can watch TV. They have more influence to eat the way we’re eating in the standard American diet. And they have more access to oil, more access to meat, the potato chips, and whatever.
And then we go 50 miles away, these people are still eating—and they’re not vegan by any means—coconuts, fish, and whatever vegetables they can grow. They have very little imported. And we look at how they’ve been doing the last 20 years. I think that would be really interesting. Just from the microbiome standpoint, the people who stuck to the diet that their ancestors have been eating—a whole food diet—versus a diet that’s been disrupted, the microbiome has been disrupted by lowering fiber and consuming oil, which also affects the microbiome. And then eating food that’s dead, that’s microwaved, that doesn’t have any bacteria. Because they’ve disrupted their microbiome, how’s their health as a people changed
I think that would be a really interesting study, and I’m sure people are doing it like you said. Looking at those from Africa versus those born and raised in America but have their ancestors are from Africa and seeing the differences. And I’ve heard of people from Japan. Japan used to have an incredibly low rate of heart disease and now they don’t. Okinawa used to be a blue zone and now it’s not. The people have changed their diet enough that people are no longer living in their hundreds on a regular basis super healthy.
I would like to address the urgency that we need to turn this ship around on a personal level. Okinawa, in one generation, is no longer a healthy population. We can’t wait any longer. Things are going downhill. We need to take individual responsibility and turn this around right now.
[00:57:49] Dr. Will Bulsiewicz: Yeah, I totally agree. I totally agree. Let me talk a little bit about what you just laid out with the South Pacific, which by the way, I love that idea and I find it to be fascinating. I think the South Pacific is very interesting too, by the way. But there’s actually a guy, his name is Justin Sonnenberg, who’s a microbiome researcher. World-class, one of the leading microbiome researchers. Wrote a great book by the way. It’s called The Good Gut. And he endorsed my book Fiber Fueled. He was fully in support of everything that I wrote in my book. Sonnenberg has done these studies on a population of people called the Hadza. And they live in Tanzania in Africa. They are tribal and they are pre-agrarian meaning that they are hunters and gatherers.
He has basically taken a look at their life, the way they eat, and then he also has done microbiome analyses on them. First of all, let’s talk about their diet. Again, they don’t have crops. There’s no farm and they’re not part of organized society. They’re not going into the supermarket. They don’t have dollars and cents. They’re, as described, foraging for their food, and then to a degree, hunting. And they’re not vegan. They’re eating an omnivore diet. But if you look at what they eat, they eat more than 100 grams of fiber per day. More than 100 grams of fiber per day.
I said before the diversity of plants feeds a diverse gut microbiome. If you look at the diversity in their diet, they eat 600 varieties of plants on a yearly basis. A lot of this seasonal. So berries come to the season, they start eating berries again. And then something else comes in the season, they eat that. 100 grams of fiber per day, 600 varieties of plants. Ashley, let me ask you a question. All seriousness. Give me just ballpark, rough estimate, off the top of your head, how many different plants do you think you eat on a yearly basis?
[01:00:11] Ashley James: Oh, geez. I just went grocery shopping at Costco this morning. We have a great Costco with organic broccoli, cauliflower, corn, spinach, mixed greens—so there’s maybe three different kinds of greens in there. We eat potatoes, brown rice, brussels sprouts. I think I just rotate about 20 different vegetables. I probably eat 20 different vegetables a year, maybe 30, but on a regular basis probably 20.
[01:00:51] Dr. Will Bulsiewicz: Okay. Does the number 30 include whole grains, seeds, nuts, legumes, fruit?
[01:01:00] Ashley James: I would say vegetables. Probably 30 different kinds of vegetables a year. I get a variety of potatoes. I like different potatoes, yams, sweet potatoes, different squash, and gourds. Maybe 50 or 60 different. I really do try to get a variety, but maybe between 50 and 60 if you include fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, legumes, and beans.
[01:01:25] Dr. Will Bulsiewicz: Yup. Okay. I don’t have an exact number. I don’t track my—
[01:01:30] Ashley James: I’m going to write it down. I’m going to start thinking about that.
[01:01:35] Dr. Will Bulsiewicz: Okay. We can talk a little more about what number people should have in mind on a weekly basis, but just to continue the conversation with regard to the Hadza, if I had to estimate for myself, I would probably guess I’m 60 or 70. For most Americans, certainly less than 50. And the Hadza over here are having 600 on a yearly basis—600 different plants. So that would lead us to believe, if my theory from the prior conversation is correct, they should have a more diverse microbiome. And guess what, they do. It’s radically more diverse. In fact, they have 30% more diversity than the average Brit, and they have 40% more diversity than the average American.
We are born with a 40% deficit in terms of biodiversity—the measure of a healthy microbiome. We are born with 40% less biodiversity than you find in this population of native tribal people. That shows you how much things have changed on a radical basis. And there’s actually a doctor who’s associated with the American Gut Project who has created this. I mean it’s kind of interesting to think about, but it’s also terrifying. He’s created a doomsday microbe bank. Basically, what he’s done is he said, “I’m worried that we’re killing too many species too fast. I’m worried that we’re eroding our microbiome so fast that we’re just going to be disease-stricken.”
The sad thing is these Hadza, the tribe is falling apart because just like in Okinawa, the younger generation doesn’t want to carry on the tradition. They want a cell phone. They want a job. They want money. They want to watch television. I mean, they’re not living in someplace where they don’t even know that real society exists. They know it’s out there. They’re choosing to continue what they have. So the tribe is eroding. The concern that they have is that we may lose these microbes forever. So they’ve created this doomsday microbe bank where one day, if we need to open up the bank, multiply these microbes, and bring them back, we have the ability to do that if we need to.
Going back to the urgency of this, there are a few things that I want to talk about with regard to this. and part of it is individual health, which is that if you wake up one day and you have Crohn’s disease, you can’t just walk that back. You have it. I personally believe, and I take care of these people for a living, there’s no such thing as a cure. Once you have Crohn’s disease, there’s remission. That’s the best that you can do. And you may be able to put yourself into a deep remission and keep yourself there effectively having the appearance of a cure, but there is no cure. You’re always vulnerable to the recurrence of Crohn’s disease.
You don’t want to wake up one day and have this. Even in health, it becomes imperative that we nurture the health of our microbiome. The second thing, Sonnenberg who is the doctor from Stanford who is studying the Hadza, he’s done some other studies that I think are super fascinating. If you think about the transfer of microbes from mother to child, that’s where we get started in life. If we pass through the birth canal instead of the cesarean section, the birth canal is our first exposure to the outside world, and it’s designed to basically inoculate us with these microbes. So there’s an inheritance that occurs as a result of mom passing down microbes to the child. And there’s a question, could we alter the inheritance of microbes in a way that’s detrimental to future generations? We all care about our kids. Many of us care more about our kids than we do about ourselves.
Sonnenberg, you can’t recreate this study in humans because a generation of humans takes 25 years. But you can do this study in mice very quickly using human microbes—the same microbes that we have. So Sonnenberg did mouse studies looking at generational differences in the microbiota and the biodiversity. Again, biodiversity is key to the health of the ecosystem. And what he found is that if you withdraw fiber from these mice, there is a generational loss of species that compounds. So for example, if grandma has 1000 species but she’s not eating fiber, then by the time she has mom, she’s down to 700 species. So mom starts with 700, and by the time mom has you, she’s down to 400 so you start at 400, and you start at a 60% deficit relative to grandma. And that deficit may be enough to make you far more fragile to developing the disease than grandma was.
[01:07:22] Ashley James: Wow.
[01:07:23] Dr. Will Bulsiewicz: So the concern is there’s this generational inheritance of the microbiome that could have negative consequences that perhaps some of the issues that we’re seeing in 2020 or in our generation are the results of the initiation of a low fiber diet that started with our parents and even our grandparents’ generation. And what’s interesting is, a ray of hope here, let me just say—
[01:07:53] Ashley James: We’re all doomed. The end.
[01:07:55] Dr. Will Bulsiewicz: Yeah, as scary as that sounds. I mean, look the framing of the question was why do we need to do it today? We have to have at least a little doom and gloom in there. But the ray of hope here is that if you reintroduce fiber, you can get the species back, all right. You just have to do it early enough, so do it today. Why wait? Do the fiber today and support your gut microbiome and support the gut microbiome for future generations to come.
And then the last thing that I wanted to say is this. This is the third thing. I can’t help but say that we need to think about the impact that we’re having in our environment. I usually don’t like to go there because I feel like as a medical doctor it’s not my place, but increasingly, I’m starting to feel like we can no longer deny the connection between our environment and human health. And if that connection is there, then it’s my job as a medical doctor to make people aware of that connection. Consider human population growth, we have 7 billion people on the planet right now. We will have 10 billion people in 2050. So in 30 years, we will go from 7 to 10 billion people.
Guess how many people there were in the year 1800. One, there was only one billion people on this planet in 1800. We’re about to have 10 times that number in 250 years. Humans are resource consuming on a very heavy basis. We consume resources like crazy. The planet is reaching a point of saturation in terms of our consumption. And we need a food supply for 10 billion people. And how are we going to actually accomplish that? And they actually got together a bunch of scientists recently. They wanted to try to understand what is going to be the best way for us to preserve our environment, preserve the resources, and not flog this planet to the point that we destroy ourselves.
It was called the EAT-Lancet Report, and one of the big issues that people need to realize is that 80% of the agricultural land, which we are currently sort of stretched and maxed out, 80% of that land produces just 18% of the calories that we consume. So we have a very inefficient system. And what I’m referring to, by the way just to be totally clear in case it’s not, is animal agriculture. There’s a huge loss of efficiency when we build a diet around animal products. And that loss of efficiency has to do with the fact that if you have 10 calories when you start, and you feed those 10 calories to the cow, the cow is going to burn a certain percentage of those calories. The cow is going to use a certain percentage of those calories to build joints, bones, eyeballs, and stuff that you’re not going to eat. The cow is going to fart and poop out a certain percentage of those calories. And then a small fraction of it is what actually goes into creating the food product, which is the meat.
So there’s a huge loss of efficiency there where when you could have just had a human consume 10 calories. You could just feed that to the human. Why give it to the cow and run it through that system with that huge loss of efficiency? And this is how you end up in a scenario where 80% of our agricultural land produces just 18% of our calories. So when we see the Amazon Rainforests burning, let’s not be naïve. That is a rain forest. It doesn’t burn like California. This is not a forest fire. These are man-made fires for forest clearing to create more land because you need more land if you want to expand that business. The land is already fully consumed. The only way to do more is to get more land. And so how are we going to do that with 3 billion more people? A 50% jump. How are we going to do that?
[01:12:22] Ashley James: Yeah, we’re going to lose all the rain forests. And this is what they think happened to Africa. I saw a really interesting—I don’t know if it was a TED Talk—but Africa and the Sahara desert didn’t use to be a desert. We just think it’s always been a desert. It actually wasn’t. They cut down all the beautiful huge giant trees to make wood ships—500 years ago, 600 years ago. And because of that, the moisture that the forests used to create helped to make the clouds and make rain on the inland of Africa. And with all the forest cut down for all the ships they built it, it completely changed the dynamic of that continent. That’s what they’re thinking is going to happen to South America. That they’re cutting down enough rain forest that it will forever change the ecosystem of an entire continent again.
We have to learn from our history. We have to learn. I love that you’re addressing this. A good documentary to watch would be Cowspiracy. I think it’s still on Netflix. It’s a good documentary because they do cover—in more detail. I’m a very visual person so with graphics they show what you’re addressing. But someone might say eating animals is healthy for me. It’s a necessary step. Isn’t it healthy for me to eat this? I should have dairy because that’s how you build strong bones. I should have eggs, that’s a good source of vitamins and vitamin D. I should eat animals because that’s where I get my protein and my energy from.
This is what we’ve been told since we were children. It’s like a necessary evil. Cows are beautiful and I don’t want to hurt the environment, but then if I didn’t eat cows, it would be harmful to my body to not eat it, so I have to keep eating it. This is the mindset that many people still have because it’s what we’ve been told our whole life through all of the marketing. So maybe you can address that because people are afraid to give up meat and eat more fiber because they think it would be harmful to their body. That they wouldn’t have energy, they wouldn’t have protein, they wouldn’t have those vitamins that they’re getting from dairy, eggs, and meat.
[01:15:02] Dr. Will Bulsiewicz: Yeah, let’s start with the marketing campaign. Marketing is incredibly powerful. Most food industries and also supplement industries have discovered that you’re far better trying to attack people’s emotions through marketing campaigns than you are actually conducting clinical research. Clinical research is expensive and it may not support the perspective that you want. It may in fact show the opposite, right? Why invest your money into that when you can invest your money into marketing campaigns that are designed to prey on people’s insecurities or their emotions and build fear? Got milk, the entire campaign, which most people understand comes from our government. Maybe you don’t. That was a government-run campaign. “Got Milk” was subsidized by the US government.
“Beef. It’s what’s for dinner.” That was a US government subsidized campaign. Now, what is the government doing getting involved in what food we choose to eat? Well, that’s the issue. There is lobbying that exists that is tremendously powerful. There’s a reason why organic fruits and vegetables are expensive. The reason is that they’re not subsidized at all. If you have allowed animal products to be their true cost, the true cost would make them prohibitively expensive, and we wouldn’t have problems with people who are of lower socioeconomic status who, as part of being lower socioeconomic status the vast majority of time that also means lower educational level. And they don’t have the ability to see the big picture, which is that going to McDonald’s and getting the $3.99 Happy Meal that your kid is jumping for joy, they’re kissing you, they’re thanking you, and it’s an easy dinner, that’s actually hurting us.
We have made it readily accessible. We’ve made it cheap. We’ve gotten rid of all the barriers to people consuming these unhealthy foods. And so you make the choice simple for people who fail to really have a complete understanding of what the big picture is and how that’s going to hurt them in the long run. When it comes to consuming these foods, here’s the thing that I’ll say. First of all, if you read my book, I really truly believe in meeting people where they are. And so I’m not in the business of saying this is all or nothing. This is not black and white. I’m in the business of saying the path to optimal human health is with plants. All of the healthiest cultures in human history are predominantly plant-based.
The blue zones—all five—90%+ plant-based. It’s the tie that binds them together. They are all predominantly plant-based. So the evidence is clear. Science repeatedly shows us that when we substitute and we use plant products instead of animal products we live longer with less disease. It’s consistent. I mean, how many studies do we need to say the same thing? I feel like we’re in the era 50 years ago where the tobacco industry was pushing back maybe 60 years ago. Seriously. Do you know how many studies they had to do to convince people that smoking actually caused lung cancer?
[01:18:55] Ashley James: Oh my gosh.
[01:18:56] Dr. Will Bulsiewicz: There is no randomized controlled trial to prove that smoking causes cancer. It doesn’t exist. Do we all agree that smoking causes lung cancer? It is so obvious. But they had to do a bazillion studies to convince people this is the truth, and the problem is that you had a big tobacco industry that was extremely rich, was buying lobbying power, and was basically mobilizing their resources to create confusion and tried to make this less clear. And now the exact same thing is repeating itself when it comes to our food.
You have big industries that are tremendously powerful that have bought influence. And they’re also intentionally running and conducting studies or doing marketing campaigns to create confusion so that ultimately, the status quo reigns supreme. Here we are, and the average American eats 220 pounds of meat per year. That is simply not sustainable. And the problem is that we get upset when we see the amazon rainforest getting cut, getting burned, and we go do something about it. And we turn to our government.
They’re not going to do anything about it. First of all, they can’t. Second of all, there are not motivated to because the lobbyists are convincing them to do otherwise. But I want everyone to keep in mind, at the end of the day, we have the ultimate power, not them. The government can do whatever it wants to do, but we are the consumer. And every single dollar that we spend is a vote for an industry. And when we choose to spend our money on purchasing 220 pounds of animal products, guess who we’re making rich? That industry.
Instead, if we cut it back—literally consider this. Consider this picture, Ashley. American diet right now—10% plants, 60% processed, 30% animal products.
[01:21:04] Ashley James: Oh my gosh.
[01:21:04] Dr. Will Bulsiewicz: Okay. What if we did this? What if we went to drop the processed food and replaced it with plants? Now we’re 70% plants, 30% animal products. Gosh, that’s pretty good. But hold up. 220 pounds of meat, that’s absurd. Do we really need that much? So what if we cut that down by 65%? What if we took a third of that? We’re still eating more than a pound of meat per week. Right now, the average American eats more than their own body weight in meat per year. It’s gross. And what if we cut that down to where we are consuming one-third of that—70 pounds, 75 pounds. You can still have your meat, and now you have moved into a blue zones diet where you are 90% plant-based, 10% animal products.
But the truth is this, and this is what happened to me. My favorite foods, if it was my birthday, I was going to have a rib eye and a glass of red wine. That was my food. All right. The interesting thing about it is as I started to change my nutrition and the weight was melting off my body and my anxiety was lifting and my blood pressure was dropping and my confidence was soaring, as I was doing that I wanted more and more and more. I wanted to keep feeling better and better and better. So there’s no reason to stop. You just keep ramping up your nutrition and doing better and better and better emphasizing progress, not trying to be perfect, and you keep moving in this direction. I’m just going to tell you, if you get to 90% plant-based, first of all, that’s a healthy diet. Second of all, you’re going to want more. Why would you stop? Keep going.
For the people who live in fear of I don’t think I can do it, I don’t think I can be 100%, you don’t need to go and be 100% starting today. You need to take an honest look in the mirror of what you’re currently doing and say where can we do a little bit better? I just want to start this week. Give me one meal that’s plant-based. Start with that and let’s go from there.
[01:23:23] Ashley James: I love it. So there are two things to consider in terms of the microbiome of the gut. You’re a gut doctor, you’re a gut specialist so it’s best to talk to you. There’s the prebiotic and the probiotic. The probiotic is the alive bacteria that are digesting our food, making nutrients, making the short-chain fatty acids, and helping prevent disease in our body. The prebiotic is the fiber that we’re eating that feeds. I’ll use this as an example because I had a guest use it as an example. The six-pound gut biome is like having a chihuahua. But I wanted a panda, she wanted a kangaroo. Anyway, it’s a six-pound animal. People take care of their dogs and their cats more than they take care of themselves. I’m a pet owner, I will go out and buy the best food and the best everything.
I know a woman who spends hundreds of dollars a month on handcrafted organic treats for her mastiff. We really take care of our animals. Imagine your gut biome is your pet. It’s your pet. You take it for walks. Go take it for a walk. Put it on a leash, take it for a walk because when you go for a walk, you’re taking your pet by microbiome for a walk. But the food you feed it is the food that’s either going to allow it to thrive or it’s going to kill it, right? And the prebiotic, the fiber you eat is feeding it. Now my question to you is about raw food versus cooked food versus a package supplement like taking a Metamucil as a fiber.
We want to increase the biodiversity of the gut biome, and how we do that is by eating a variety. But if I eat cooked broccoli versus raw organic—I’m always organic because of the pesticides. Does raw broccoli have an advantage overcooked broccoli in terms of feeding the microbiome and also introducing new healthy bacteria?
[01:25:41] Dr. Will Bulsiewicz: Okay. There’s a lot that I want to tackle, but let’s start here. First of all, raw versus cooked. All plants contain fiber. Each plant has its own unique types of fiber, and that fiber is specific to the way that the plant is being served. So there is another well-regarded microbiome researcher named Peter Turnbaugh who did a study. This is fairly new. This is less than a year old. The study is fascinating where he basically looked at the effect on the microbiome of cooking the food, so raw versus cooked. And here’s what he found. The key is there was a difference. You wouldn’t describe necessarily that one is superior to the other. Instead, what he described is when you cook your, food you’re creating different types of fiber that feed different microbes. We want to feed all the microbes.
So the key is rather than choosing one versus the other, we should have both. So if you are cooking your food one of the things I talk about in my book is the health hack, which is that if you are cooking your food, you should have a nibble of the raw food before it’s cooked. If you’re going to braise your greens, braise your kale, just make sure you chop up a couple of pieces of that kale and nibble on it while you’re cooking, while you’re braising those greens.
[01:27:33] Ashley James: Yeah.
[01:27:34] Dr. Will Bulsiewicz: All right, that’s one of the things. Yeah, kind of cool. There are a couple of other topics that you brought up. You’re bringing up so many great points that you just get me really excited to talk. Let’s talk about organic versus non-organic in the context of living food. Now, when I say living food, to the average person they’re going to hear fermented. And that’s true, fermented foods have microbes. But guess what, all life—most people have not thought of this—has a microbiome. All life either has a microbiome or you are a part of the microbiome. Those are the two choices. If you’re alive, you’re one of those two things.
[01:28:19] Ashley James: Oh wait, are we the microbiome of the earth?
[01:28:21] Dr. Will Bulsiewicz: I think we kind of are. I hate to say this, actually, I kind of think we’re a virus because we’ve grown exponentially and we’re destructive. All right. Think about that growth—1 billion in 1800, 2 billion in 1900, 7 billion today, and 10 billion in 2050. That’s exponential. That’s the same thing that you see with viruses. All right. But all life has a microbiome, right? Take an apple, for example. They’ve actually studied this. They’ve discovered that an apple has about 100 million microbes as a part of the apple. The tremendous diversity of species. Actually more diversity on an apple than you will find inside the human body. A couple of paradoxical or interesting things. Out of curiosity, Ashley, because I’m guessing you’re going to give the answer that anyone would including me. Where do you think the microbes are on the apple?
[01:29:28] Ashley James: On the skin.
[01:29:29] Dr. Will Bulsiewicz: Exactly. That’s what I would say too, and it’s not a bad answer. Anyone would say that. But actually, most of them are in the core.
[01:29:36] Ashley James: In the core? The thing we throw out and don’t eat?
[01:29:39] Dr. Will Bulsiewicz: The part that we throw out. That’s where most of the microbes are.
[01:29:42] Ashley James: So we should be juicing them, right? Or blending them? How would you?
[01:29:48] Dr. Will Bulsiewicz: Or just eat the core.
[01:29:48] Ashley James: Eat the core.
[01:29:50] Dr. Will Bulsiewicz: Yeah, why not? What’s stopping you other than tradition?
[01:29:56] Ashley James: I guess there’s a minor amount of arsenic in the seeds.
[01:30:01] Dr. Will Bulsiewicz: Yeah. You could throw out the seeds. You don’t have to eat the seeds if you don’t want to. But what’s interesting is this microbiome that this plant has serves a purpose to the plant in the same way. There are parallel tracts that exist where these microbes are there to support plant life in the same way that these microbes support us. They’re the architects of life on this planet—these microbes. We rely on our microbes to support us as we grow from newborns all the way to grown adults. And the same thing happens with these plants. From flower to fruit, the microbiome of the individual plant is evolving and it’s helping to facilitate the growth of the plant.
So this apple has a hundred million microbes in a tremendous diversity of species, and they’ve looked at organic versus conventionally raised. What’s cool is the organic—to me yet another reason to motivate to consume organic—apple had more diversity. Okay. So more biodiversity on the apple, that’s a good thing. That’s a measure of health. And also, the organic apple had a stronger representation of species that are known to be probiotic. Because the word probiotic does not just mean bacteria. To be considered probiotic you have to actually demonstrate a health benefit in humans.
Eating that apple goes back to this idea—eat an apple a day keep the doctor away. We’re now learning there’s a lot of truth to that, and this is part of the reason why—these microbes.
[01:31:50] Ashley James: Fascinating. I’m so excited. I’m going to start eating apple cores now with my apple.
[01:31:55] Dr. Will Bulsiewicz: And then the other thing that I wanted to say really quick is the debate about prebiotics and probiotics. I’m moving a little bit into the supplement space. So before I move into it let me just say above all else that diet always comes first. All right. Diet and lifestyle come first. You can’t supplement your way from a C- gut to an A+. That’s impossible. You can’t keep a junk diet and have an A+ gut. That’s impossible. If you want a good gut you have to take care of your diet. It’s the only way. All right. But that being said, there is a place for this prebiotics and probiotics. So let’s talk about this.
All right, probiotics. So everyone’s heard of probiotics—living bacteria that as I just said, they have a health benefit in humans. So we always think you got to take this capsule that has this probiotic, but that’s again a construct of marketing convincing us that the path to gut health is through a supplement. That’s what they’ve taught us. That’s not true.
[01:33:02] Ashley James: Well, they’ve taught us to go to the doctor, get a pill, and you’ll be fine, right? I believe medications have their place, but we’re overusing them 90% of the time. I believe that supplements absolutely have their place, but the problem is people have the mentality, like you said, you cannot up out supplement a bad diet. Just like you can’t out-drug a bad diet. A bad diet is a bad diet. I know everyone listening probably eats way healthier than the average person and genuinely wants to eat even healthier than that. So if we could incorporate a good diet and then find a supplement just to kick-start us or get us an edge, I’m sure we’re all interested. So we understand the advice you’re about to give is has to go in conjunction with a really good gut health diet.
[01:33:57] Dr. Will Bulsiewicz: Yes. A supplement is meant to be the word. It’s a supplement, right? It’s done in addition to a healthy diet. And there’s definitely a place. Going back to your point, I just want to double down on what you said, which is we should not live in a world of absolutes. Meaning we should not choose to live in a world where we are fully reliant on pills and procedures for our health. That doesn’t work. And we also shouldn’t live in a world where we believe that diet alone is a silver bullet. That’s not true. The optimal approach for human health is to optimize diet and lifestyle, to fully support and potentially even extend your health with the use of supplements that are targeted, and frankly, not excessive. I don’t believe in taking 20 different supplements because you just don’t know what the interactions are.
But supplementation—where appropriate—to optimize our health, and then engaging with the health care system—where appropriate—to protect ourselves. Anyway, we’ve been sold to this idea that probiotics are the source of gut health. The problem is you, for example, Ashley, have a completely unique gut microbiome. There’s literally no one on the planet with the same microbiome as you including your mom. It’s like a fingerprint. When I give you a probiotic I am prescribing a generic formula. And what I’m doing is I’m really crossing my fingers and hoping that when this generic formula mixes with your completely unique gut microbiome, that we get good chemistry. And you just don’t know.
There are some people who benefit—no question. There’s also a lot of people who spend a lot of money and they get nothing. So we have to understand this limitation of our current approach, but the second part is we should understand that these probiotics already live inside of us. We don’t need to introduce it from the outside with the hope that we’re introducing something that our body is missing. Instead, we just need to acknowledge that the microbes that live inside of us, we could use them and just make them stronger. Make them more powerfully represented.
And that’s where prebiotic comes into play, which is that Ashley, once again you have a completely unique gut microbiome. And although I don’t know the nooks and the crannies and the details of what’s there and what’s not, what I do know is if I feed your microbes with a prebiotic, I’m going to be selecting for specific healthy bacteria. I’m going to be selecting for the probiotics. And we’re going to enrich them, we’re going to make them more powerful, more well represented, we’re also going to be feeding them. Fiber is requisite for feeding these microbes, and then they’re going to have the ability to transform that into short-chain fatty acids.
Just to step back for a moment and reconsider our big picture. If we had probiotics but we did not have fiber, there really wouldn’t be much of a point. If we had fiber but we were sterile creatures, which we’re not, there really wouldn’t be much of a point to fiber. But when fiber, specifically prebiotic fiber, connects with these bacteria, specifically probiotic bacteria, magic takes place. And what we get are postbiotic short-chain fatty acids. And the entire point of this relationship is not one or the other. The entire point is what happens when you connect the two. And that’s why I’m a bigger believer in prebiotics than probiotics.
[01:37:54] Ashley James: Because you already have a gut biome. I’ve heard someone reference the Americans have the micro Simpson of gut biomes because it’s so not diverse. We need to have something more complex and intelligent, or we have to incorporate and support our microbiome to have many more species, so be much more diverse. And we can do that, over time, by eating a variety of plants that are organic because we take on the microbiome, like you said, you eat the core of the apple with the apple. Your gut is taking on those bacteria that become part of your healthy and diverse gut biome. But the most important thing is to feed it. Feed it first. So we have to feed it before you just take a probiotic.
I heard this study once that they had people take a probiotic, like acidophilus. We all heard of acidophilus. They examined their stool a month after they had stopped taking it and they found that the acidophilus was no longer there. They thought for sure taking the probiotic, taking acidophilus, or whatever probiotic would have then continued to live in the gut right. It doesn’t probably because they didn’t change their diet to incorporate enough fiber to feed it to continue its development. So you’re saying the most important thing is to start by feeding the gut the healthy fiber, variety of fibers—both cooked and raw—so that the gut can get fed, so that microbiomes can get fed.
I know you’ve got to go, and I definitely want to have you back on the show because I have this whole list of topics and questions I want to explore. How to reverse chronic constipation? How to reverse diarrhea? What about people who have IBS or have a really irritated bowel and they can’t tolerate it. Every time they try to eat fiber they can’t tolerate it. These are topics I want to go deep with you. So I’d love to have you back on the show to explore that.
You keep mentioning hormone balance as well, that’s something I’d like to go deeper and have you explain why is it that healing the gut, fiber, and the microbiome affects our sex hormones and our stress hormones. Why does it affect all of the hormones in our body? Interesting that I’ve heard that 25% of our T3, our thyroid hormone, is converted in the gut. What without a healthy gut we have significantly low T3 levels. So low in fact that then someone’s put on medicine. And isn’t that a shame that there are so many doctors out there that prescribe a synthetic T3 drug without even addressing gut health? Because the root cause could be in that person’s gut, and likely statistically is, given how little fiber the average person eats.
There are so many more things to explore, and I definitely want listeners to know about your website. Theplantfedgut.com. The links to everything that Dr. Will does is going to be in the show notes of today’s podcast at Learn True Health. I definitely am going to encourage listeners to buy your book as well, and the link to your book will be there. And people can also go to your website The Plant Fed Gut. And it says right there, want the ultimate plant fed super snack, put in your name and email. And they get a little booklet from you. That’s really cool. And of course, they can follow you as well on Instagram. I saw some of your Instagram posts that I really, really appreciated them.
One, in particular, was about racial equality, and you address that we cannot have racial equality until we have medical equality. And if we really look statistically, our medical system is so skewed, especially in the United States. Other countries it is less, but in the United States it’s so skewed and it is not a fair system. We need to change. We need to make sure that our medical freedoms are protected for everyone, and that medicine is available to everyone. I don’t want to get into politics, I love that you addressed that while we’re all really conscious of it’s in our daily consciousness to be addressing and looking at and trying to change racial equality, we should know and we should also address that medical equality needs to be addressed in order to fully help everyone of all races.
Thank you so much for everything that you’re doing. I love your message. You’re speaking out. You’re kind of a black sheep. I’m so excited that you’re here talking to our community of listeners, we’re all the black sheep. Let’s just say we are all on the same page as you. At times, if you ever feel like you’re the odd one out because you’re the MD that doesn’t want to give people drugs first but wants to really, really help people on a root level, heal their body, and do it in a way that is radical. It’s radical to tell someone to eat plants and not meat. It’s totally radical. You’re going to get more and more and more results the more we go down this path.
I just interviewed an MD who’s been a plant-based doctor for 39 years. I love that you and your career and you’re seeing how you can help people and then you can even go do a colonoscopy and see that these diets actually work and they help heal the body from the inside out. Knowing all the science of exploring the microbiome, it’s so fascinating. Please come back on the show. I’d love to have you back. I’d love to continue to learn from you.
[01:44:04] Dr. Will Bulsiewicz: I appreciate it, Ashley. I definitely would love to come back. I’ll be honest, I don’t feel like a black sheep. I mean, seriously. I guess for me maybe it just seems so obvious.
[01:44:21] Ashley James: Right?
[01:44:21] Dr. Will Bulsiewicz: It just seems so obvious so we need to talk about it. And I’m not afraid to share how I feel about these kinds of things because it’s really important for people. If this is the way to heal people, then we need to put it out there. And that’s been something that has been a part of me and everything I’ve done and it’s brought me to where I am today. I just wanted to add real quick a couple of things, I hope you don’t mind.
[01:44:45] Ashley James: Please do.
[01:44:46] Dr. Will Bulsiewicz: At theplantfedgut.com, we have a COVID-19 guide. We have a guide to clinical research. I really think that one of the big issues—this is why I wrote this guide—is people are confused by the conflicting information that they receive. On a consumer-level, we have to have protections in a place where we become smart enough to sniff out fraud, to sniff out something that’s fake, to sniff out an agenda, and to see the truth. Because the truth exists but there’s a lot of noise. Because the truth brings us to health. Truth is the compass that guides us to health, but the only way to find that is to get rid of the noise. You can’t believe every single word that every person puts out there. We have to start discriminating because we have excessive access to information these days.
And then the other thing I wanted to add is probably by the time this episode airs I have a course that I’m starting in late August that I’m super excited about. Basically, what this is is an opportunity to connect deeper with me and my ideology to go beyond the book. When I see problems I go, okay, how are we going to fix this? One of the problems is I only get 30 minutes with my patient, and I wish I could have a day to just completely educate and give them everything. And that’s where this course comes in. It’s a structured way for me to give you over seven weeks all of the information that I think is necessary to actually understand gut health and to understand how to navigate our health care system to make yourself well.
What’s cool is I’ve been working on this course for about a year, and I’m just releasing it for the first time. But I’ve beta tested it twice in private with small groups and had amazing results. I’ve had people who have suffered from issues for more than 10 years who have healed because the course empowered them with the right information to know how to talk to their doctor, what questions to ask, and then we found solutions. I’m super excited about it because it’s just another way for me to connect with more people and provide the information and education necessary to help people to heal so that they’re not overly reliant on a system that’s not giving it to them. Let me step in and intervene and give you what you need.
[01:47:33] Ashley James: I love it, I love it. And so many symptoms people don’t realize are related to gut issues like the thyroid we had mentioned, but also serotonin levels. So depression and anxiety often the root is in the gut because there’s a direct relationship between serotonin production, gut health, and the nerves that connect the brain to the gut. Skin issues—so psoriasis, eczema, dermatitis, and the list goes on and on.
You had mentioned hormones, but our brain fog, our energy, our weight gain—there are so many health issues that you don’t realize start in the gut. By making sure we have the healthiest gut possible, we may actually be resolving mental, emotional health issues and strengthening our mental and emotional health, strengthening the health of our immune system. 70% of our immune system surrounds our gut and is directly affected by our gut and by the food we eat.
I’m sure you have this information on your website, especially because you have a guide to COVID and maintaining optimal health through this. Listeners can go to theplantfedgut.com. They can fill out their information to get your super snack guide for gut health. And then once your course is available, you just email them? Is that the best way for them to be notified on your—
[01:49:06] Dr. Will Bulsiewicz: That’s right, theplantfedgut.com
[01:49:07] Ashley James: What’s the name of your course? Have you named it yet?
[01:49:11] Dr. Will Bulsiewicz: Yup. It’s the Plant Fed Gut Online Course.
[01:49:13] Ashley James: Okay, great. Easy enough to remember. Awesome. We’ll have all that information in the show notes of today’s podcast. Thank you so much. Please come back to the show. I’d love to have you back.
[01:49:23] Dr. Will Bulsiewicz: I would definitely will. Looking forward to it. Thanks, Ashley.
[01:49:25] Ashley James: Thanks so much. I hope you enjoyed today’s interview with Dr. Will Bulsiewicz. It was amazing. I did not know that fiber in the gut creates short-chain fatty acids that are so important for overall health. And there are so many fascinating things to learn about how we could support the microbiome through our diet.
Coming up next in the next episode, we’re going to dive even deeper and learn more about how we can support the microbiome of the body with the food that we eat. And how we can actually use tests—special lab tests that you can do in your own home that will tell you all about what foods to eat and what foods not to eat to best support your microbiome in producing special chemicals that heal the body and boost the immune system. It is so fascinating.
Now, as you listen to the episodes of all these amazing people and you think to yourself you would love to learn more about holistic health, you’d love to learn more about how you can heal your body and also help others. If you’re interested in augmenting your own health or changing your career becoming a health coach, I highly recommend checking out IIN, the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. I went through their program, I absolutely loved it.
Many people go through the program just for personal growth alone, and I had such an amazing time with the personal growth that I got out of it that I would have just done it for that alone. But on top of that, you also learn a whole career. So you can do it just for yourself and your own personal growth, you can do it to help your friends and family, or you could do it to shift careers. Or maybe you already work with people and you want to have another tool in your tool belt, IIN sets you up to be successful as a health coach, they train you how to do it. They guide you, they hold your hand, it’s an amazing program, it’s very nourishing, it’s all about holistic health on, not only a physical level, but also a mental, emotional, spiritual, and energetic level. It’s a fantastic program.
Why don’t you just try a section of their course for free? Go to learntruehealth.com/coach. That’s learntruehealth.com/coach and they’ll give you a free module for you to try out and see if you like it. See if that’s something that you’d be interested in. And if you’re interested in it, call IIN. Just google IIN, the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, and talk to them. Make sure you mention Ashley James and the Learn True Health podcast because they give a huge discount to our listeners. I’ve been just raving about them for years because I had a wonderful experience with them, and so many of our listeners have gone through the program as well. They’ve given all of our listeners a really fantastic discount.
You can go ahead and check out a free module by going to learntruehealth.com/coach and you can just give them a call. Just google IIN and call the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Everyone you talk to on the phone has gone through their program, so they can actually sit down with you almost like a coaching session. And they can help you plan out your goals. They genuinely want to help you. There’s not like a sales pitch when you get on the phone with them. It’s not like a high-pressure sales pitch. They really lovingly and genuinely want to support everyone to make the right choice for them. And if IIN is the right choice, then they want to help you with that.
So go ahead, check it out, give them a call, and see how you like it. I highly recommend it and encourage you to check it out if you’re looking to do some online learning, especially these days when we can be home more, learning more, absorbing more great information to better ourselves. What a perfect time to do that. To take this time to go into our cocoon and transform ourselves.
We can choose to be a victim or we can choose to be a cause in our world, and I choose to be a cause in my world-transforming myself. When the times get tough, I’m going to transform myself. I’m going to choose to learn and grow and be even better when times are hard. And I know you want to as well. Have a fantastic rest of your day. I’m looking forward for you to listen to the next episode. It’s going to be fantastic, I can’t wait. Please share this episode with those you love and continue sharing so we could help as many people as possible to learn true health.
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We have heard that a whole food plant-based diet is the best diet because it can prevent and reverse diseases. But there are also different indications and proofs why we should be herbivores as shared by Dr. Michael Klaper in this episode. He explains why food is square one and why type 2 diabetes is a fat toxicity disease and not carbohydrate problems. He also gives tips on how to ease into a whole food plant-based diet.
Hello, true health seeker, and welcome to another exciting episode of the Learn True Health podcast. I’m very excited for you to hear today’s interview. It’s with a doctor who’s been practicing medicine for 39 years. And instead of walking in the room with a prescription pad ready to dole out drug after drug, he looks to help his patients reverse major diseases and extend the longevity and quality of their life with food. It’s going to be a lot of fun today so strap in your seat belt and get ready to go.
I want to let you know, as you’re listening, if you’re interested in learning more about using food as medicine and healing your body with nutrition, please go to learntruehealth.com/homekitchen and sign up. I created a very affordable course that teaches you how to cook delicious food for your whole family that also heals your body. And it’s totally in alignment with what this doctor is teaching today. Just give it a try. Just try it for a month and just see how you feel. Especially if you’re quarantined at home right now, what’s a few weeks of just trying nutritious foods, trying different dishes in the effort to support your overall health? That’s learnturehealth.com/homekitchen.
When you sign up you’d also be supporting the Learn True Health podcast to continue doing what we do, so you’d be supporting yourself and you’d be supporting the podcast you love. Awesome. Learnturehealth.com/homekitchen and use the coupon code LTH. If you’d like to sign up for an annual, it gives you a big discount. That’s coupon code LTH at learntruehealth.com/homekitchen. Thank you so much for being a listener. Thank you so much for sharing this podcast with those you love. Please share this episode with those in your life who have any kind of heart disease or are afraid that they might develop it—high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, and any kind of circulatory problems. Please share this episode with them as they will want to know this information. Enjoy today’s interview.
[00:02:17] Ashley James: Welcome to the Learn True Health podcast. I’m your host, Ashley James. This is episode 439. I am so excited for today’s guest. We have Dr. Michael Klaper on the show. His website, or one of his websites, is plantbasedtelehealth.com. It’s going to be really interesting. The other website you have is doctorklaper.com. And of course, links to everything that Dr. Klaper does is going to be in the show notes of today’s podcast at Learn True Health.
You’re quoted as saying, “It’s the food. It’s always the food.” And you love to show people how they can reverse disease, prevent disease, and heal their body with the nutrition in their food. So I’m very excited that you’re here today because you’re going to break down the science of how we can use food as our medicine. Welcome to the show.
[00:03:12] Dr. Michael Klaper: Well, thank you very much, Ashley. Good to be with you and your listeners.
[00:03:15] Ashley James: Absolutely. Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of how we can heal our body with food, I really want to hear more about your story. What happened in your life in your youth that led you to want to become a doctor? You kind of broke away. I mean, whenever I see an MD teaching people how to heal their body without drugs, I feel like they might be a little bit of a black sheep. You broke away from the stereotypical norm and you are an advocate for helping people heal their own body. So what happened in your life that made you become a doctor and then had you break away like a renegade to teach people how to heal without drugs?
[00:03:56] Dr. Michael Klaper: Oh my. Got a minute?
[00:03:59] Ashley James: Absolutely.
[00:04:00] Dr. Michael Klaper: Here’s my life story. I did much of my growing up on my uncle’s dairy farm in Northern Wisconsin. The natural world entered my life very early, and I’ve been milking cows since I was eight, driving tractors, and I saw a lot of things on the farm. I saw life, death cruelty, and the reality of putting meat on the table. But like the rest of society, I just closed my mind and my heart to that reality. It was registered, no doubt. But I was the kid on the farm who always wanted things to be okay. I patched up the injured animals and just as fascinated by biology in general.
It was natural that I grew up and went to medical school. I graduated in the early 1970s. For the first nine years, I practiced blood and guts emergency room medicine, outpatient clinic, emergency rooms, operating rooms, and I did anesthesia. That’s what I thought I was going to do. Just acute care medicine, just patch people up when they got sick or hurt.
A couple of things happened in 1981. I was a resident in anesthesiology. I thought I was going to be an anesthesiologist, and I was up in Vancouver. I was on the cardiovascular anesthesia service. Day after day, I’m putting people to sleep and I’m watching surgeons open their chest and open their coronary arteries and their heart. From their arteries, the surgeons pull this yellow greasy guck out of the inner linings called atherosclerosis. And I knew very well what that stuff was.
There were already studies in the medical literature explaining it, and actually, some showing that you can melt this stuff away with a plant-based diet. I had an academic interest in it, but a personal one, my dad was already showing signs of clogged arteries. He already had a blue leg, diabetes, and chest pain. I knew that I had the genes, and if I didn’t change my diet, I was going to be laying on that operating table with that striker saw going up my sternum. I didn’t want that. I saw those folks when they woke up.
I was getting some really strong messages to stop eating animal fat because that’s what that stuff was. It’s the fat of the animals largely these folks are eating. When I changed my diet to a plant-based diet, my body responded dramatically. Within 12 weeks, a 20-pound spare tire of fat melted off my waist. My high blood pressure went to normal. My high cholesterol went to normal. I felt great waking up in a nice lean light body. And I realized at that point, three-quarters of the way through my anesthesia residency, that I didn’t want to be an anesthesiologist and spend my time putting people to sleep. I’d rather go back to general practice and help them wake up.
So I did, much to my parents’ dismay, and I moved to Florida. Started doing nutrition-based medicine. My patients who were able to follow my counseling—I found people in the area who would do plant-based cooking lessons. Those patients who are able to change their diet in this way to a whole food plant-based diet, they noted the same wonderful changes. They lost weight. Their high blood pressure came down, their cholesterol came down, they felt really good, and I became the happiest doctor I know. My patients get healthy right in front of my eyes.
It’s the most exciting transformation in medicine to watch someone waddle into your office obese, diabetic, hypertensive, clogged up, and inflamed. And week after week, meal after meal, month after month of these healthy plant-based foods, it’s just remarkable what you see. The obesity melts away, the arteries relax and open up, the high blood pressure comes down, the joints stop hurting, the asthmatic lungs stop wheezing so much, the migraine headaches get better, the colitic bowel settles down, and they turn into normal healthy people. How exciting that is to celebrate with them these health victories.
I’ve been a nutrition and lifestyle medicine doc ever since. And as important as the lifestyle is, you got to get enough sleep, you need to walk every day. Yes, yes, yes. But until you change the food stream washing through your cells meal after meal after meal, the other modifications are not going to make a great difference. It’s the food. It’s the food. There’s the food. It’s square one. You’ve got to do the other things, but the food is square one.
There’s just remarkable magic, if you will, pharmacological effects of plant-based diets that we can talk about. It’s become an art form for me to look at all the different ways that plants change the body, how they promote healing. And now we’re giving master classes in plant-based nutritional healing.
That’s been my evolution. My body’s the same weight as it was back in 1981 when I graduated. It was the same weight when I graduated high school. I don’t need medications. I feel great, I just turned 73 yesterday, and I plan on doing this for as long as I can. As I said, I’m the happiest doctor I know and I want to share with the medical students before pharmaco sclerosis sets in their brains. I’ve been going to the medical schools to tell them it’s what your patients are eating before you order another $1000 scan, another $500 set of blood tests.
Ask them what they ate yesterday. If it’s full of pepperoni pizzas and buffalo wings, that’s why they’re sitting in front of you, doctor. Send them to the plant-based dietitian. Let them do the counseling. You see them back in a month and they ought to be doing better. Trying to put a new model of how medicine should be practiced in these young doctors’ heads. That’s my mission of late, and it’s a challenge, but I’m enjoying it.
[00:10:13] Ashley James: I love it. We have a listener who was going to be—I don’t know what the term is—fired but discharged from the military. He’s a career man in the military. It’s his life, he loves it, and he works down in DC. His cholesterol was so high that he was going to be medically discharged from the military from active service. I don’t know the details other than he came listening to the show, came to us. I think he heard my interview with Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn. He’s a steak and potatoes kind of guy—gets on the whole food plant-based, no salt, sugar, oil protocol for one month and his cholesterol numbers came down in one month so fast that he’s been able to keep his job and keep his career.
That was so cool to see that in one month, it could change that fast. You’re 73. You look very young for 73. You’ve been eating a whole food plant-based diet for 39 years?
[00:11:28] Dr. Michael Klaper: Correct, that’s exactly right. The more I found out about how meat is produced, especially today’s industrial factory farming and what I saw happen on the farm, I chopped the heads off chickens. I did all of that, and now I realize the violence involved. I just don’t want anything to do with that. And learning what it’s doing to the earth, to the animals, and to the people who consume it, that’s certainly gotten me into a plant-based diet, and there’s no looking back. There’s no sneaking a cheeseburger now and then.
[00:12:04] Ashley James: But you know what, there are unhealthy vegetarians. There are unhealthy vegans. Just cutting meat out doesn’t mean someone can be healthy. I’d love for you to explain the finer nuances of what going just going meatless alone could still have someone develop diabetes or develop a heart attack. But what are the finer nuances of a whole food plant-based diet versus vegetarianism that would have people heal, prevent, and reverse disease?
[00:12:35] Dr. Michael Klaper: Thank you. That’s such a key question, of course. And the answer is in that phrase. It rolls off our tongues, people like you and me—whole food plant-based diet. It sounds like one word here. But wait a minute, whole foods, stop right there. We’re talking about whole foods like they grew out of the ground that you could recognize in the garden. Oh, there’s a tomato over there. There’s a carrot growing over there. There are green beans hanging on the fence there—whole foods. That’s really what we’re designed to eat.
We have the same digestive system that our gorilla and bonobo cousins have, and they’re up in the trees eating leaves and fruit because we have this digestive system meant to digest a high-fiber, plant-based food. We are not carnivorous apes. We are plant-eating, simian-like creatures. We have fingers on our hands, not claws. We got long intestines for digesting fiber. We’ve got enzymes in our saliva for digesting starch, not protein. We’re clearly plant-eating creatures. And as long as we stay on that diet, it’s a whole food plant-based food stream, then our body knows what to do with it.
The microbiome hums along there, the arteries stay open, the blood stays free-flowing, and we live our long healthy natural lives. I’ve never had a gorilla in the office saying doc, I can’t keep my hands off the cheeseburgers. The animals know what to eat. And our simian cousins do fine with their whole plant foods. When we stray from that, and there are two ways that the [inaudible 00:14:23] vegetarian straight one is broadening their definition. I’m vegetarian so I can eat eggs and dairy.
Well, you put cow’s milk with baby calf growth fluid and it’s filled with the hormones, fats, allergenic proteins, and growth factors. You flood your system with that—with the milk, the cheese, and the ice cream. That’s going to not do great things for your system. It’s going to spawn bacteria that cause problems. It’s going to change your blood chemistry. It’s going to change your hormone levels. It’s going to set you up for everything from diabetes to autoimmune diseases.
And eggs that people have—they’re full of cholesterol, saturated fat, and choline that turns the bacteria turn into trimethylamine that drives cholesterol into the artery walls. We’re not egg and dairy eating creatures either. You don’t see the gorillas going around raiding birds’ nests and eating the eggs. That isn’t our affair.
When we stick to the whole grains, whole potatoes, legumes, and the whole wonderful world of plant-based foods, lots of steamed grainy yellow vegetables, colorful salads, hearty soups, stews, casseroles, and stir-fries. When we keep our belly filled with that, we eat all these colorful sweet fruits for dessert, our body hums right along. Our arteries stay open, and the inflammation in our body subsides, and the blood is free-flowing. The artery is good. There’s a reason that long-term vegans are lean. They will not become obese. We can talk about why. The calorie density just isn’t there. It’s mostly fiber and water that we’re eating. It doesn’t stick to you.
If you go back for the fourth bowl of vegetables, who cares, they’re just fiber and water. It’s like high-quality gasoline in a sports car. Runs great, but you start putting the eggs, the dairy, and then the processed food—even the vegan process food. But if they’re made of flour, oil, sugars, flavorings, glutens, dough conditioners, yellow number three dye, and all the adulterants that get put into the various chips, [inaudible 00:16:51], the bips, the burgers, and all of that. Well then, It’s like you’re mixing diesel fuel, kerosene with your racing gasoline. The engine starts running rough, the gas line plug gets clogged up your arteries, and diseases happen.
Then we put names on them. You have high blood pressure, you have type 2 diabetes, but really, they’re just putting the wrong fuel and the engine clogs up, our insulin receptors clog up our arteries. Similar to your man in the service there who jumped on Dr. Esselstyn’s program there, he gets on that whole food plant-based food stream and the arteries clear out, the cholesterol comes down. They say, oh, how wonderful, how wonderful. But really, it’s predictable. That’s what should happen. That’s what must happen. You put the right fuel in and the numbers take care of themselves.
I joke that clinical reporter, that people get better on plant-based diets was published in that prestigious medical journal called duh. Yeah, that’s the point. We do get better because it’s the food we ought to be running on. Long answer, but it’s just a matter of obeying natural law. Your house cat is a carnivore. The majority of food that goes down a mountain lion’s gullet or your house cat is the flesh of animals. They are carnivores. We are not. We are herbivorous creatures. The majority of what goes down our gut should be whole plant foods.
Now, you can quibble around the edges with a little bit of meat once a month or no, you probably wouldn’t. I’m sure the gorilla eats the occasional beetle little worm on the underside of the leaf there, but by and large, as long as we stick to those whole plant foods, our body knows what to do with it. It functions beautifully and these diseases should not occur. Type 2 diabetes should never occur in a homo sapiens body. Obesity should never really occur. These autoimmune diseases shouldn’t occur. These are all dietary diseases. And the hopeful news is they get better when you put the right fuel and then most of them go away.
[00:19:12] Ashley James: In working with your patients for the last 39 years, you have helped people reverse so many different diseases. If a woman comes to you with an autoimmune disease like maybe MS or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, what do you do? Do you put her on prescription drugs? Or do you start her on a whole food plant-based diet and see how fast and how far you can go with that before you put her on drugs? Or do you not use drugs at all?
[00:19:45] Dr. Michael Klaper: Very perceptive question. The answer is kind of yes to all of the above. I’m a complete pragmatist. I’ll do what works, and I want to save that woman’s tissues whether it’s in her joints, her kidneys, or her nervous system. I want to quell the inflammation and get to the root of the disease as efficiently as possible. In the past, if someone’s in the middle of a big arthritis flare or whatever, I have no qualms about her short course of tapering down prednisone or other types of anti-inflammatories.
The beauty of changing to a whole food plant-based diet, but we’re not anywhere near answering your very complex question there, is it bathes the tissues with antioxidants and it has a real anti-inflammatory effect. When you say autoimmune diseases, the most common ones we see are the autoimmune inflammatory arthritis. The woman who wakes up and her joints are sore and severely fatigued, maybe she’s got a faint skin rash, and goes to the rheumatologist. Negative for rheumatoid arthritis, but it’s seronegative rheumatoid arthritis. Here’s a woman that has most likely a so-called leaky gut phenomenon. She’s injured her gut wall and food proteins and bacterial cell walls are leaking out into the bloodstream and flowing through her joints and causing this inflammation.
Here’s a person that if you pull out the offending molecules, and that includes even starting with water fast for 5 days, 7 days, or 10 days to just put the fire out. It’s remarkable how dramatic these inflammatory states respond to a water fast—we can talk about that—but even without the water fast, if she just can’t or doesn’t want to do that. Just drinking vegetable broth for a day or two and then going on a very low antigenic plant-based diet—blended squash, sweet potatoes, quinoa. So just slowly add these in—steamed green vegetables and probably some omega-3 algae-derived DHA and a fairly hefty dose—300-600 milligrams a day. We often get a dramatic improvement in the inflammation throughout the body. And then you want to keep her on that so it doesn’t flare. You can’t go back to the fried chicken and the grilled fish that she was eating before.
Occasionally, it’s indicated to do a leaky gut repair if they’ve got all sorts of hives and skin rashes after they eat particular foods. They’re showing signs of leaky gut. There’s a protocol of various supplements—quercetin, glutamine, and probiotics for a couple of months to help the gut wall heal. That’s the most common type of autoimmune conditions that we commonly see.
Now over on the other end of the spectrum of autoimmune diseases are the real tough gunslinger diagnoses that make most doctors want to run the other way when they see it on the chart there are multiple sclerosis and Hashimoto’s. These are very complex diseases. These are more than just inflammation from a leaky gut. If you see Hashimoto’s thyroid under a microscope, it is swarming with lymphocytes. There’s an inflammatory fire burning in that gland, and it’s hard to put out. Eventually, it burns out after a couple of years. I have not found the magic pill or herb. I wish I could tell them to eat two cloves of garlic and wear rutabaga around their neck and their thyroid will heal. But most of us docs here, we would love to turn off that raging inflammatory fire in the thyroid gland.
You support them with thyroid hormone, and we nibble around the edges with various herbs, anti-inflammatory oils, and things. But I’ve not found the magic key for Hashimoto’s and similar to multiple sclerosis. Certainly, there are legendary recoveries for multiple sclerosis. Dr. Saray Stancic, an infectious disease specialist, pretty much cured herself of multiple sclerosis. A number of people have done these dramatic turnarounds, but I’ve got a couple of other MS patients who they’ve been plant-based for years and the disease is still progressing. It’s clear when you have a lot to learn about those particular conditions.
But still, even if the disease is progressing, there’s no way I can see when you bite into a chicken leg or a chicken breast, what are you really eating? At the risk of being graphic here, you’re biting into that chicken’s muscle, artery, tendon, and nerve and now you’re chewing up the nerve tissue—the myelin and neural proteins of another animal. Especially if you’ve got a leaky gut, some of that myelin from the cow, the chicken, the pig, the lamb, or whatever you’re eating is going to get in your system. If you’ve got antibodies against myelin or you’ve got some type of neurologic activity going on, the last thing I would think you would want is the myelin of another animal flowing through your immune system, in your bloodstream. Just to help put out the autoimmune inflammatory fire, stop running animal tissue through your body just seems to be a square one logical thing to do.
And then again, lots of dark leafy greens and the omega-3 containing nuts and seeds. If you’re also seeing a neurologist, you can use some of their high-tech medicines. I’m fine with that it’s I won’t stand on principle if it will let them keep walking and keep seeing the MS patients then I’m happy to work with the conventional docs. The patient still should be eating a really healthy plant-based diet no matter what other therapies that they’re on.
[00:26:56] Ashley James: Very good, Dr. Terry Wahls, I’ve had her on the show and she’s doing studies now using diet to reverse MS. Very promising work, and she’s working with Dr. Kahn doing studies on the plant-based diet reversing MS. I love that you’re pragmatic and you’re willing to continue to learn, grow, and implement what you can to help your patients to heal. It’s just those more complex cases where it’s like how far can food take us, right?
I’m a health coach so my client comes to me. I don’t want to throw the kitchen sink at them. I used to do that early on. I’ve been doing this for nine years, and I used to do that early on. I just want to throw everything at them at once and overwhelm them. That doesn’t help them with long-term success, but in the beginning, let’s just get them on the path to eating and bringing in nutrition into their body. Like you said, bathing all those cells in their body with the right nutrition and see how far you can get just with that.
It’s amazing how many symptoms. I have them write down all their symptoms and grade them at the beginning. A full of symptom inventory checklist. Then a month later, I have them go back and do it again, and every month have them do it. What’s amazing is they see how many of their symptoms resolve just by the fact that they’ve changed their nutrition to nutrient-dense foods so that now their body is being bathed, like you said, in these antioxidants, in these phytonutrients, and all the vitamins and the minerals they can possibly take in, and so much reverses.
And then after that, maybe there’s still some lingering things that they can work out with. Like you said, herb supplements, or maybe they need to work with a functional doctor and see how that can be supported. You’re eating a standard American diet, you take your symptoms, and you go to a typical MD, you’re going to walk out with a bag full of prescriptions. Which one of my previous guests—who I just had on the show—he’s basically the mayor of Brooklyn. Very interesting story. He walked out of his doctor’s office with a prescription pad full of drugs and basically came home with a bag full of drugs with multiple problems. Diabetes, he’s losing his eyesight, losing his feeling in his hands and feet, and has an ulcer. The doctor, the MD was like get ready to be on this entire bag of drugs—like 15 medications—for the rest of your life—and probably more.
He went home and he had a little pamphlet they gave him that said, how to live with diabetes. And something about that saying didn’t sit with him. It was almost like divine intervention. He went home and googled how to cure diabetes, and that’s when he discovered the whole food plant-based diet. He got on that, and it’s been a few years. He’s totally off all those meds, he’s reversed all those conditions—the conditions that his MD said you will have for the rest of your life and you will be on these meds for the rest of your life.
Does that upset you? You’ve been a doctor for so long. You’re kind of a pioneer. You’re way ahead of your time helping people reverse disease with food. Doesn’t it upset you when you see so many people being told they’ll always have type 2 diabetes? They’ll always have these problems. They have to be on these meds for the rest of their life when you know they can heal their body. I mean, doesn’t that just get to you?
[00:30:41] Dr. Michael Klaper: It drives me around the bin. It leaves me somewhere between anger and despair, but the determination to correct this. It’s just outrageous to let these young students go through four years of medical school and never once ask about what their patients are eating. We practice medicine like what our patients are eating has no effect on these diseases. It’s some genetic mismatch, or your liver is making too much LDL. Let’s pound down those enzymes and drop that LDL level. No, doctor. It’s from what they’re eating meal after meal.
I practiced medicine for 45 years before anybody put the words disease reversal into the same sentence for me. When the light went on, I said these are reversible diseases. Why didn’t somebody tell me this? Why aren’t we telling these young medical students these are reversible diseases. All of us who practice a diet and lifestyle kind of medicine, we have files full of patients who used to have type 2 diabetes, who used to have high blood pressure, who used to be obese, who used to have an autoimmune disease. These diseases go away. How can we withhold that information from the students and from our patients? It’s unethical to do that, and it really has to change. The public needs to demand that. The students have to demand it, which is what I’m advocating.
We’ve formed a non-profit initiative called Moving Medicine Forward, and I’ve been going to the medical schools telling this to the students. You’re dealing with reversible diseases from what your patients are eating. Ask them what they’re eating, get them on a plant-based diet, and you will see most of these diseases go away right before your very eyes. Do you want to heal these patients or don’t you? I let that question hang in the air. Why are you going into medicine? Do you want to heal these people or don’t you? Either way, if you just call in your obese diabetic patient and you clock your time over their A1C level. You’ve got to raise your metformin level, we’ve got to raise your glyburide level. Okay, you come back in two months. Let’s see what your numbers look like.
If that’s the kind of medicine you’re going to practice, you’re sure not helping your patients. You’re just going to watch them get fatter and sicker until you get that call from the wife, John had a big heart attack. He’s in the ER. They’re not sure if he’s going to make it. That’s what you’re going to witness, and you’re going to leave medicine. You’re not going to do this for 25, 30 years. It’s discouraging. It’s bleak medicine, especially when the way to heal these patients is right in front of you. It’s on their dinner plate. Probably you need to change your diet too, doctor, because there’s nothing sadder than a doctor who walks in the exam room with a big obese potbelly and a pocket full of statins and beta-blockers for his own high blood pressure and his own hyperlipidemia. That’s no example to set for a patient. They want to see a healthy healer walk through that door.
It’s all accessible just for ordering the bean chili instead of the beef chili. That’s the huge sacrifice we’re asking people to make. I mean the cuisine is delicious. You can eat all you want. And you could do it Italian, East Indian, Mexican, or Chinese. This is not a diet of deprivation, but somebody needs to speak the truth to these students. But with the meat industry, big pharma, big egg, and all that, there’s a lot of distortion of the truth that’s getting into these young docs heads. So a few of us are trying to reach them directly. And if people are interested, again, go to my website doctorklaper.com. It’s all spelled out, doctorklaper.com, and click on Moving Medicine Forward. You’ll see the work we’re doing. But absolutely, it causes me great consternation that in this day and age, we’re still withholding that information from the students and the patients. It’s unconscionable and it can’t stand. The patients know it.
It’s getting easier though. When I go to the medical schools—years ago before COVID, now we’re all online—now, in every second, third, fourth-year med school class, there’s always 20, 30, 40 students who’ve seen films like Forks Over Knives. They’ve seen What the Health, and they’ve seen Cowspiracy. The light’s on, and the kids know something’s up with nutrition here. They’re worried about the environment. They know the importance of all of us adopting a plant-based diet. So the message is getting easier to deliver to the students, but the faculty is still pretty resistant. But they will yield. Let the truth be told or the heavens fall. We’ll keep pecking away at that wall and eventually the wall of ignorance and resistance it’ll come down.
[00:35:38] Ashley James: Very cool. I’d like to talk about carbohydrates. I was type 2 diabetic. I reversed it with food and supplementation of nutrients. I no longer have type 2 diabetes, but I was left afraid of carbohydrates. It really started when I was a child. My mother, who was thin and fit, was incredibly afraid of carbohydrates. She was very afraid of becoming fat, of becoming obese, and she would wake up really early in the morning to go to a 90-minute exercise class. She would do that every day and eat lean chicken and vegetables and never ever, ever touch potatoes or rice or any kind of grain. She was just so afraid of carbohydrates.
When I had type 2 diabetes, I was again afraid of carbohydrates. I would do things like Atkins wishing that the promise of Atkins would be bestowed upon me. That this promise of being incredibly healthy. Oh, all you have to do is eat lots of fat and protein and very very few carbohydrates and you too could be diabetes free and full of health and vitality. Well, I don’t know anyone who has achieved long-term health and vitality by eating such an acid-forming diet, but I felt very sick doing Atkins. But every time I did it, I thought it was me. That I was failing somehow, or my body was broken somehow because I kept reading these books and kept seeing all the information out there that that was the way to go.
Even my doctors would say you have to eat 50 grams or less of carbohydrates. Well, in coming into the whole food plant-based diet, it seemed radical this idea that you would eat almost entirely your diet is carbohydrates. Of course, there’s healthy fats and protein as well within a whole food, but the majority of it is a complex whole food carbohydrate—brown rice, quinoa, potatoes, and vegetables. They all contain carbohydrates and starches, and I was afraid of it.
I chose to dive in because I like doing experimentation, and in eating this way, what shocked me was my blood sugar went even lower. I actually burst into tears. I had a meal, an hour later I took my blood sugar—it was 87. I burst into tears. I eat 200 grams of carbohydrates on average every day, but they’re whole food sources. So I’m eating potatoes every day, brown rice every day, and what I noticed is I wake up earlier, I have more energy, and my body wants to go to sleep at night. I just noticed that my body shifted, and it has more energy throughout the day, but I also wake up earlier. Then my body’s more ready for bed at night, which was really just an interesting shift in just increasing carbohydrates in the form of whole food carbohydrates.
I know some people who are still afraid, even with all this information, they’re still afraid of eating potatoes. They’re still afraid of eating brown rice because carbohydrates have received a very bad rap. I would love for you to get into more details. You wouldn’t be taking these potatoes and putting butter on them or putting olive oil on them. You wouldn’t put even some veganaise or whatever. You wouldn’t take processed oil and include it in the foods. Why is it that someone can eat more carbohydrates and their blood sugar becomes more stable if they eliminate processed fats? Why is it that we’re seeing that processed fats have a larger role in disrupting blood sugar and insulin regulation than eating a whole food carbohydrate would?
[00:39:40] Dr. Michael Klaper: That’s a key question. Congratulations on your bravery for persevering with a really natural diet, and you got rewarded—as you would and should. Because we are carbohydrate burning creatures. Ask any gorilla, ask any gazelle, ask any buffalo. We are meant to burn carbohydrates. The mitochondria in our cells burn glucose preferentially, not fats. We are sugar-burning organisms, and that’s what the grazing animals are eating. That’s what the gorillas are eating—the leaves, the fruits, and the roots. And that’s what our ancient paleolithic ancestors ate, not mammoth meat. We spent all day foraging, digging up these starchy roots and tubers.
Most of the calories that came in the paleolithic camp were gathered by the women who spent all day foraging for the starchy roots, tubers, berries, leaves, and fruits, but these are carbohydrate-heavy whole plant foods. Nature makes their plants out of carbohydrates. We’ve got this beautiful digestive system that burns them cleanly, and that’s the point. Glucose, which is what sugars and starches are, it’s a clean-burning fuel. Once it goes into mitochondria, the energy is extracted from the glucose molecule. And what’s the waste product? The carbon dioxide that you breathe off in your lungs and water that you pee out in the urine. It leaves the body cleanly, elegantly, and delivers a lot of good energy.
The problem is fats. When people are grossly diabetic—and type 2 diabetes is the most common type because people have clogged their insulin receptors up with fats, we’ll get to that in a minute. Once they’re all insulin resistant and their insulin receptors are clogged up with fats, then they eat some rice, potatoes, or some fruit—and because their insulin sectors don’t work because of the fat—their blood sugar spikes way up. And people say, aha, see those bad old carbohydrates. They’re evil foods for you and they make you fat.
No, they don’t. Carbohydrates cannot, with one exception, turn into fats. They can’t. When you think about it, the body is not going to take a ring of glucose, blow it apart of the mitochondria, grab the two, three-carbon fragments, and start stringing them together and make it a long-chain fatty acid with a bunch of enzymatic steps to turn that sugar into fat. Not going to happen. Your body’s not going to do that. What’s it really going to do? If you, at dinner time, eat a couple of potatoes and a heap of rice, you take in a carbohydrate load at 6:00 PM in the evening, what’s going to happen?
Blood sugar is going to go up, that’s true, and insulin is going to be secreted by the pancreas. That’s going to move the glucose into your muscles and your liver where it’s going to be stored in a form called glycogen. That’s the energy we use in our muscles to walk around, breathe, et cetera. But once the glycogen stores are full in the muscle, what happens to that extra energy? You burn it off as heat. Your body temperature will go up a quarter of a degree, and you’ll stick your foot out from under the covers at night or throw the covers off, and you’ll radiate that heat off to space. It will not turn into fat.
What will happen is as you rightly imply—now if you pour olive oil on your baked potato or on your pasta—you eat fat and sugar at the same time, the body will preferentially burn the sugar and will store that fat for later. That sugar and fat combo does stick to you, but the real damage is done is that is the fat. And again, people are keeping fat in their blood all day of bacon and eggs for breakfast, cheeseburger for lunch, and fried chicken for dinner, or pizza with cheese then the olive oil. All these fats, they’re keeping their blood fatty all day, day after day, week after week, month after month. It never really clears out of the bloodstream.
And as a result, the fat starts oozing into the liver and into the muscle cells and they start clogging up the fat molecules, clog up the insulin receptor mechanisms. And then insulin that needs to move sugar from your bloodstream into your muscle doesn’t work, so the sugar piles up in the bloodstream and goes up. It’s not a good thing to walk around with high sugars. It hurts your arteries, it hurts a lot of things. But the primary problem is not the carbohydrates, it’s the fats. We need a little bit of fat, but get it out of a handful of almonds, walnuts, some olives on your salad, or some avocado in your dressing. Get it out of whole foods. We need some fats. You don’t want to eat grossly fatty foods as far as the things made with egg yolks, vegetable oils, certainly the meats, the dairy, the cheeses, and all that stuff. That’s where it comes from.
Type 2 diabetes is a disease of fat toxicity, it’s not a disease of carbohydrate problems. Your mother—God bless her—your mother didn’t know, my mother didn’t know, who knew? But she was given bad information by the doctors at the time who are chasing these blood sugar numbers. Oh, it’s the sugar, it’s the sugar. No, it’s not, doctor. It was fat all along. You changed that. You got rid of most of the fat when you went on a whole food plant-based diet. Your insulin receptors cleared out, and suddenly you’re able to metabolize that very slowly released glucose that comes from whole rice, whole potatoes. They’re released very moderately into the bloodstream and don’t cause a big spike in sugars, as you noted there.
Again, it’s just going back to natural law. We are carbohydrate burning creatures here, and it’s the fat that seduces us. The folks on the keto diets who have these low blood sugars, they’re all insulin resistant, but because they run the other way when they think about eating any carbohydrates. They never eat any so no, their blood sugar doesn’t go up. And they say, see, it cures diabetes. No, ma’am. No, sir. Your diabetes is not cured. You are insulin resistant as hell as you would find out if you ate some carbohydrates how high it goes, but this is not a state of health. The steak in ketosis week after week after week. There’s stress on the body. I think these folks are setting themselves up for some bad diseases, but that’s another story.
But anyway, ask any gorilla. We should subsist on whole plant foods, and if we do, the gorillas don’t go diabetic, and there’s no reason we should either. Again, thank heavens it’s one of those eminently reversible diseases. If you’ve got any pancreas function left at all, you should be able to handle the glucose from whole plant foods quite well, and diabetes is one of those reversible diseases.
[00:47:02] Ashley James: Triglycerides is something that we have come to know as being a better indicator of heart disease than cholesterol. I’ve been told by my doctor that high triglycerides are caused by eating sugar. Can you explain how we could eat a whole food plant-based diet where we’re eating a ton of carbohydrates but at the same time lower our triglycerides?
[00:47:29] Dr. Michael Klaper: We’ll get to that at the end. Yes, when I said with one exception, sugars don’t turn into a fast. The one exception is if you really flood your liver, especially with fructose, which is not a friendly sugar. Muscles cannot burn fructose. There is only one organ that burns fructose and that’s your liver. If you’re eating way too much fructose, fruit juices, various high fructose corn syrup, confectioners, and things like that, the body will take some of those fructose molecules, rearrange them, and turn them into your triglycerides. But let’s talk about some science here, if you don’t mind.
[00:48:15] Ashley James: I’d love that, please.
[00:48:17] Dr. Michael Klaper: The real issue here when you say triglycerides is a better indicator than cholesterol, realize that all of those statements are derived from a population of Joe meat and potatoes Americans who are eating meat and dairy every day. In those folks, triglycerides and LDL cholesterol they’re markers. They’re indicators. These are the folks you’re going to get in trouble because of what they’re eating. It’s not so much the absolute number of your triglyceride or your LDL is. Atherosclerotic plaques do not form on your artery walls because your LDL is too high. These are inflammatory lesions.
These arteries are being injured meal after meal of fried chicken muscle, vegetable oils, frying french fries, high fructose corn syrup, phosphoric acid from cola drinks, the artificial colorings and flavorings, the detergents, and the polysorbate 80 that keeps the candy bar soft. These detergents injure the inner artery walls, the endothelial lining. Meal after meal, day after day of exposure to this chemical these all rips up the endothelial linings. When you grill a steak or a burger, you are oxidizing cholesterol in the muscle of the animal. When you eat that oxidized cholesterol and it goes over those ripped up endothelial linings, that’s how it’s able to get into the wall of the artery and set off the inflammatory reaction that winds up with a plaque being formed that can rupture and kill you.
But this is an active biological process. It’s not just about how high is your triglycerides, how high is your LDL. There is an inflammatory fire burning in the walls of the arteries kindled and kept blazing by the person’s daily diet. If you are on a whole food plant-based diet, if the only thing you’re running through those arteries are rice, greens, beans, papayas, fruits, and vegetables—just filled with antioxidants without the fried animal muscle, the Neu5Gc, the endotoxin, the aldehydes, and all the things that are inherent in a meat-based diet. You pull those out and you bathe those artery walls with antioxidants, phytonutrients, resveratrol, and all these things meal after meal, the arteries heal. And these plaques melt away as Dr. Esselstyn demonstrates, but cardiologists have become these fear-filled technicians ricocheting off these numbers.
What’s your LDL particle size? What’s your ratio? What’s your LDL number? Doctor, you’re a healer of arteries. Think about what is injuring those arteries. It’s artery abused by the owner of the arteries, doctor. Talk to the owner of those arteries about how they’re treating them. If you never change the oil in your sports car and you’re screeching the tires, eventually you’re going to wind up with a rickety engine and bald tires. That’s what this person’s doing to their artery walls. Talk to them, doctor. Get real. Don’t just raise their statin dosage. There’s an active biological process going on here that will turn that process into a healing one with a change in the fuel mixture flowing through those arteries and those arteries will heal, doctor.
When you say triglycerides are higher, they’re just indicators for who’s beating up on their arteries. Now I’ve got vegans with cholesterols at 210, and cholesterol is not an evil molecule. Your liver makes it, so your adrenal glands can make cortisol out of it. And your genitals can make your estrogen, your testosterone out of it that’s why the liver makes it. If you don’t have enough iodine in your diet, and you have low-grade hypothyroidism, that will raise your cholesterol. There are reasons why a vegan may have slightly higher cholesterol. But if their inflammatory markers are stone-cold negative, they’re not injuring their arteries meal after meal, I don’t care that their cholesterol is 208. They’re never going to develop a plaque.
As I said, when the arteries are inflamed, there are all sorts of inflammatory markers you can measure—high-sensitivity CRP, myeloperoxidase, oxidized cholesterol. There’s a whole panel now that you can measure. If those are stone-cold negative, you get an ultrasound of their carotid arteries and they’re smooth and clean, I don’t care that their cholesterol is 210. I can put that person on statins. They do not have the disease of atherosclerosis.
There is a medical term, I would say, doctors, please, make the distinction between benign hypercholesterolemia where your liver just happens to put out a little extra LDL in your bloodstream versus the disease—the active biological inflammatory process of atherosclerosis burning in the walls of the arteries. They are not the same thing. You can have benign mild hypercholesterolemia without the artery disease. It depends on how the owner of the arteries treats those arteries.
Thanks for letting me get that out, but I want to free people. It’s what I call the tyranny of the numbers. We’re so scared. Oh my god, my LDL is 184. How many statins do I need? Get off that merry-go-round. Treat your arteries like the gorillas treat theirs. I don’t have any gorillas on statins or any bonobos. There really shouldn’t be any humans needing them either, ask Dr. Esselstyn. He occasionally uses it acutely to drive down their cholesterol for a few months. If you got a patient on death’s door or were all clogged up, yeah I don’t have any problem with six months of statin. There’s an emergency measure. But it’s the food, it’s the food, it’s the food going to heal that person, not the statins. People need to be aware.
I’m giving that masterclass this Sunday evening if people want to hear that in my masterclass. Go to my website and sign up for a master class on healing arteries and hearts.
[00:54:49] Ashley James: Very good. You mentioned that it’s more about what is doing damage to the artery and what is damaging and inflaming the artery. There are all these blood tests and they’re showing either triglycerides and cholesterol. Cholesterol is a catchphrase for a bunch of different sized molecules. It’s like what’s damaging that artery for that person? Is it high blood sugar? High blood sugar damages the artery, all the oxidative stress. What you’re saying is really the best thing to look at are the inflammatory markers.
[00:55:25] Dr. Michael Klaper: Yes.
[00:55:26] Ashley James: Can you break down and teach us what are the safe numbers? You said there’s a whole panel, but for those who don’t know about the inflammatory markers, what is the best way to measure artery damage, basically?
[00:55:42] Dr. Michael Klaper: I’ll be glad to answer that question. Pulling back the focus a little bit though, a wise doctor once said, anybody who’s been eating the standard American diet for more than 30, 40, 50 years, you have artery disease. It doesn’t matter what your markers are. I used to order a lot of these, I don’t order so many anymore. Because the truth of it is no matter what the numbers are, the treatment is the same. Get on a whole food plant-based diet, run those greens and beans through your blood vessels, and no matter what the numbers are, they’re going to take care of themselves.
Ultimately, no one needs to really focus on these numbers. The idea is that what they’re telling you is there is an inflammatory fire burning in the walls of your arteries or not. And if there is, put it out with a whole food plant-based diet. If people are really serious about pursuing this, go to the website of either Boston Heart Laboratories—I have no connection with either of these labs—or Cleveland HeartLab. They have these lovely diagrams and the lovely panels of all the inflammatory markers there. So Boston Heart or Cleveland HeartLab will show you.
But basically, there’s a progression. As the artery starts to get inflamed—first of all, measure the oxidized cholesterol. That’s the really atherogenic particle. See if that is elevated. And the different labs, the other different range of normal. But check for oxidized cholesterol. Then as inflammation starts happening, you start getting prostaglandin E2 two building up. Isoprostane two is one of the early markers of inflammation. And then, as it progresses, as plaque starts developing, you get a protein release called C-reactive protein. And the test for that is hs-CRP—high-sensitivity C-reactive protein. You want that less than one.
As plaque develops and the white blood cells invade the plaque and start softening it and getting ready to rupture, which would set off a clot, then the enzymes that the white cells use to soften the plaque material, the monocytes release phospholipase A2, PLA2s. And the white blood cells release an enzyme called myeloperoxidase or MPO. That’s the panel. If I’ve got a patient eating a standard western diet and his isoprostane is up, he’s full of oxidized cholesterol, he’s already putting out CRP, and his myeloperoxidase and fossil lipids are up, he not only has a plaque, but they’re probably getting ready to rupture. This man needs to jump on Dr. Esselstyn’s green heavy diet. Boot in, full tilt.
If I have a vegan—10-year, 20-year vegan—who’s eating rice, beans, and greens, but his cholesterol is 222 but his oxidized cholesterol is near zip, and his CRP is less than one. Again, his myeloperoxidase and his fossil lipid, they’re all negative. I send him over to the ultrasound store there and they check his carotids and they are slick and clean with nice laminar flow. This man does not have the disease atherosclerosis. I don’t care if their cholesterol is 220. He’s not cooking up plaques here. He’s a very low risk. This man does not need a statin.
Those are markers. The individual numbers vary with the different labs, but if they’re grossly high or negative, those are the two boundaries that you’re looking at.
[00:59:49] Ashley James: Very cool. Thank you for clarifying that. When you had said that fructose can increase triglycerides if someone were to eat a raw vegan diet that’s more of a fruitarian, would that be enough to increase triglycerides? Or you’re saying more like concentrated highly processed foods like high fructose corn syrup and drinking Coca-Cola, that kind of thing? It’s basically the standard American diet, which is full of processed sugar and processed fructose versus eating whole fruit.
[01:00:25] Dr. Michael Klaper: Correct. When you bite an apple, what’s really in your mouth? What do you find? It’s mostly water, fiber, and a little fructose. There are other sugars involved. There’s not that much fructose, but it comes in with B vitamins and minerals to help with the metabolism of the fructose. Really, how many apples can you eat? You’re not going to be getting that much fructose from whole fruits.
Now once you throw six mangoes, a pound of grapes, four bananas, and pineapple into a blender and make a fruit smoothie, you are full of fructose. Chug-a-lug it down in 90 seconds, that’s a heck of a fructose load. You do that—and some of my fruitarian folks do—that’s a good way to get to jack up your triglycerides and give you a surge on your weight and possibly a fatty liver. But again, there’s no one other animal that does that. I tell folks if you’re going to do a smoothie, it should be a green smoothie. Just packed solid with baby kale and baby broccoli or whatever with some almond milk in there, some ground flax seeds, and maybe some frozen mangoes for sweetness, but mostly greens.
If you’re making up a smoothie like that, or any kind of smoothie, don’t chug-a-lug it down all at once. Take a mouthful, put the glass down, chew up the mouthful, mix it with your saliva, swallow it, wait 10 minutes, wait 15 minutes, let it get down into your stomach out into your duodenum, let it absorb, and start getting into your bloodstream there before you take the next swallow there. But take an hour, take two hours to drink a smoothie. Don’t chug-a-lug those things down all at once. There’s nothing physiologic about dumping 32 ounces of fructose and potassium into your system all at once. That’s my thought on fruit. How many mangoes are you going to eat? Three? That’s really not going to cause a huge fructose injury to your body, I don’t think.
[01:02:32] Ashley James: Especially because, like you said, the sugar, the fructose is bound to the fiber, the body has to break down the fiber, and the fiber helps feed the healthy gut biome. It slows everything down. I was fascinated when I learned that the body takes nine hours to utilize all of the carbohydrates, the fuel, the energy from a sweet potato or a yam. So you eat a yam, it’s nine hours of constant fuel slowly being dripped into your system because your body has to break it down, has to break it away from the fiber versus if you were to process it. Let’s say we process that yam into a flour—removed it from the fiber or broke it down, processed it, and made some kind of pasta out of it. Oh, it sounds like a really cool gluten-free paleo pasta. It sounds like a fun treat, but that would shoot up blood sugar much quicker because we process the fiber or removed the fiber.
So when you eat whole food, it reacts much differently in the body than any kind of processed food, especially if a processed food that’s had oil added to it, which is what you explained. It’s interesting looking at this way of eating because we have to continue to remember, it’s no oil. Really coming back to you, if you want to get fat, you have to get it from whole food. So many people keep saying, but what about olive oil? It’s so healthy. And what about coconut oil? It’s so healthy. There are studies that show that these foods are healthy.
I keep coming back to then eat the whole food. They’re actually removing it out of all the other nutrients and throwing those nutrients away—throwing the fiber away, throwing the minerals away. Eat the whole coconut. Drink the coconut milk and eat its flesh. That way, that coconut oil is going to be inside that, but you’re also going to get it with all the other nutrients. Same with an olive. Find some low sodium olives. It’s not that I’m against sodium. If you want to eat 12 olives, you’re definitely going to want to look for a low sodium olive because they are packed full of sodium and get the nutrients from that.
You mentioned some really great documentaries. One that I actually went into the movie theater to see is the Game Changers. That one was different from the others because they were following the lives of elite athletes—gold medal winners in the Olympics. There’s a man in his 70s who is able to perform athletic feats that 20-year-old athletes couldn’t do. There were fighters in mixed martial arts battles, and there was the world’s strongest man. He kept referring to gorillas as well and looking at a 1500 pound or a 2000 pound bull. Looking at these giant bulls rippling with muscle or a giant gorilla rippling with muscle. He would refer to them and say, “What does the bull eat? What does the gorilla eat? They don’t eat a giant 30-ounce steak to get their muscle. They’re eating 100% plants. That’s just where they get their protein from.”
This man, who’s the world’s strongest man, gained after he went whole food plant-based. Actually was able to gain 30 more pounds of muscle. That really shocked me. There are people who have different health goals listening to this. Some want to gain weight, some maybe are a little thin—on the thinner side—would like to gain some muscle, like to gain some more definition, or just be in a healthier place. Many people want to lose weight. 70% of Americans and many other countries around the world— because we follow what America does in terms of the diet—the hyper-palatable foods.
Many people want to lose weight, so 70% of adults are considered overweight and also have pre-diabetes, a diabetic, or on their way to becoming diabetic. They have different health goals. How can someone who wants to lose weight, someone who wants to gain weight or gain muscle, and someone who just wants to maintain their weight but be healthy or maybe reverse a disease, how can they all achieve the same goal with the same way of eating?
[01:07:08] Dr. Michael Klaper: Beautiful question. There are two separate issues, though they do meet in the middle so to speak. As far as the weight loss goes, yes, we are overweight, obese nation. I’ve been a physician for 49 years since the early 70s. I’ve seen this tsunami of obesity sweep through the American public. It’s been eye-watering to see this. Despite the movement for fat acceptance, obesity is a state of inflammation. There are no healthy obese people. They are inflamed, they have hormone imbalances, and they die earlier from clogged arteries, cancers, and strokes. Obesity is not something to be accepted.
Now, the way through it is not to pack your intestines full of meat every day, and it’s not to starve yourself of calories. The beauty, as we implied much earlier, of a whole food plant-based diet is mostly fiber and water. If you start your meals with a big salad, a hearty bowl of vegetable soup, and some steamed green-yellow veggies, already your stomach is pretty full with just a couple of hundred calories. And then have your rice and potatoes towards the end of the meal there, but a meal like that is going to take the weight off you. You can’t hold an obese body on that kind of dietary fair. The calorie density is just not there.
So the answer is just to adopt the whole food, and here’s again that whole food. It’s got to be whole plant foods. It can’t be energy bars, cookies, granola cereals, and energy drinks. These hyper-concentrated, hyper-palatable foods—even if they’re vegan—are not going to help you get a lean body. But as long as it grew out of the garden, and you can call it by name—that’s a cucumber, that’s a cabbage—then keep your belly full of that and your weight will take care of itself. Within 3, 6, 12, or 18 months, you’re going to have a much leaner healthier body. That kind of takes care of itself.
Now, as far as muscle mass goes, it’s not a matter of just trucking down huge bolts of protein and expect your muscles to ripple. One, it doesn’t work like that. You can’t eat brains and expect to get smarter. It’s not a matter of just eating a cow’s muscle or a bull’s muscle and expect to have muscles like a bull. It doesn’t work like that. But before I just blow past that, it’s not healthy to do that. High protein diets are toxic to the kidneys. When you eat these high protein meals—and that includes the veggie protein powders that these bodybuilders bolt down—you slam the glomeruli with 100 grams of amino acids and it hurts them. I’ve seen chronic kidney disease in long-term vegans who are eating way, way too much protein.
Get your protein out of beans, peas, chickpeas, and lentils in their whole form and you can easily make it to that magic 70, 80 grams of protein. Nobody really needs that. Most people function just fine on 40 or 50 grams of protein. Even that’s plenty. But if the bodybuilders eat one gram of protein for every pound of bodyweight, you ought to be eating 70, 80 grams. Okay, so you have an extra hummus sandwich and a scoop of lentil stew or have a nut butter sandwich. You better eat the more calorie and protein-dense foods, but that’s not going to put muscle on you.
What puts muscle on you is then getting up off your duff and going to the gym or going into the room where your weights are and spend 40 minutes using those muscles. That’s why that bull’s got that rippling muscular body because he’s carrying around 2000 pounds of bone and muscle in every place he goes. The gorillas, they’re constantly doing these feats of strength as they lift their bodies up and they brachiate through the forest. These animals develop these muscles because they’re using them all day. They’re muscular athletic creatures. That’s what builds muscle. Whether you want to get into the whole rippling bodybuilder thing, but just have enough. You want to get to your 80s and 90s with enough muscle in your body so you can get out of a chair unassisted. That’s the most important thing. If you fall so you can get up off the ground. That’s the most important athletic act you will ever do.
When they go to the old folks home on the senior citizens’ home and they see who can get out of a chair unassisted, they’re the ones who are still there the next year. The folks who can’t get out of a chair unassisted often don’t survive very long. No one needs all these rippling muscles. I don’t think it’s a terribly physiological healthy thing to do to really just way overdevelop your muscles. But if that’s what you choose to do, yes, you can do it on plant-based foods. But again, it comes from those sweat in the gym. It’s not a matter of how much protein you can bolt down.
[01:12:51] Ashley James: Thank you for the clarification. You’re mentioning gorillas several times. I guess two schools of thought. One is that we’re evolved from gorillas or we’re distant cousins of gorillas. And then there would be the more biblical Adam and Eve story. Of course, we’re not here to say that anyone’s religious beliefs aren’t incorrect. But for those who have a religious belief about where we came from, why is it that we want to look at gorillas as a good example for our health?
[01:13:34] Dr. Michael Klaper: I don’t want to step on anybody’s religious beliefs. Yes, I’m assuming that if you believe in evolution at all—all the way up from the fish to the lizards to the whole evolutionary tree there—we homo sapiens creature, we’ve come up through the simian line, through the ape line. We didn’t come up through the antelope line or through the ungulates. We came up through the simian ancestors. You did not evolve from your cousin. We did not evolve from the gorilla, but way way way way back, we probably had a common ancestor, probably a lemur or something that was 10 million, 20 million years ago. But we clearly came down the simian branch of evolution.
So we look at the great apes and the monkeys that are on this planet. They’re all essentially plant-eating creatures. Yes, the baboons can get into flesh-eating et cetera, but even the majority of what they eat is still fruits and herbage. It is just because I’m just being true to just our evolutionary heritage there. None of those animals go out. You don’t see a bunch of gorillas banding together into a group of 20 of them and hunting down a gazelle and tearing its flesh.
[01:15:10] Ashley James: They could.
[01:15:12] Dr. Michael Klaper: They could but they don’t. They’re not built that way. Their nature is not in their digestive system. And could they really bite through that hide? It’s not simian-like to do that. We are not carnivorous apes. Because they’re so close to us in our anatomy, et cetera, it’s not that big of a logical leap there to say they’re of the same prototype.
[01:15:44] Ashley James: For those who don’t prescribe to that belief system, what kind of science can you bring? What kind of examples can you bring to show that eating the way an ape would eat benefits humankind?
[01:15:59] Dr. Michael Klaper: Well, certainly, our body gives us lots of indications. Plants have no cholesterol so it keeps our arteries clean and it feeds our microbiome a plant-based diet, breeds the beneficial prevotella organisms that crunch cancer growth and inflammation. I mean, on every level, our body hums along, but when we start eating flesh, and especially in any quantity, our arteries become inflamed and clogged up. We spawn Bacteroidetes and other microbes in our gut that produce carcinogens and uncouple our bile salts and set it up for colon cancer. There are just so many red lights that start flashing when we drift into an animal-based fuel. That alone should ask us to just obey the nature of who we are.
We’ve got our canine teeth shorter than our central incisors. If we jumped on the back of a cow, you couldn’t bite through its hide let alone its muscle, but these short little canines work great for biting into starchy roots, tubers, and apples. That is really what our dentition is made. We’ve got these made flat grinding molded teeth and a rotary jaw joint that lets us chew in a rotary motion to chew up leaves, grains, and seeds, et cetera. Again, we’ve got fingers on our hands, not claws.
In fact, I would invite people, if you really want a beautiful discourse on this, go to YouTube and search for the wonderful presentation by Dr. Milton Mills, MD. Is man an herbivore or an omnivore? And he gives a brilliant discourse removing all doubt we are herbivorous creatures. And to stray from that is to transgress national natural law and we wind up summoning all those diseases that reverse on a plant-based diet. I don’t know what more proof people need.
[01:18:18] Ashley James: The best thing we can do is learn from our history, learn from our past so that we don’t repeat it. Many of us don’t know what the diet of our ancestors was like and also don’t know the statistics of disease. Could you let us know what our great grandparents—what was their quality of food? What was on their plate versus the diseases they had? Statistically, we’re most likely to die of heart disease. If we look at it, the biggest killer in the United States and in many countries around the world is heart disease. This is why it’s so important. If you eat a diet that keeps your heart and arteries clean, you’re likely to also stave off other diseases. That’s what we see, we learn from the whole food plant-based diet.
This is not a new fad. You’ve been doing this for almost 40 years. This is certainly not new, but it is new to us in that we were raised under the marketing and under the hypnosis of the mainstream media pushing us, marketing to us to eat eggs, bacon, butter, and dairy—makes a body good. Let’s get cracking. We were all marketed to eat a certain way, and of course, our tax dollars are funding subsidies, which artificially lower the cost of meat because we subsidize the corn and the feed for the animals. They’ve altered the food supply in the last 100 years so much and now we see disease skyrocketing. What did it look like 100 years ago or 200 years ago in terms of the statistics of disease versus today? And what was on their plates versus today?
[01:20:13] Dr. Michael Klaper: Oh my. We’ll get to 100 years ago, let me take back 100,000 years. As far as what our ancient ancestors ate—people say, well, how do you really know? One thing we know is that when we look at their encampments, these people—just like us—they had bowel movements. The feces became fossilized, and there are fossilized fecal droppings, called coprolites, all over those ancient encampments. When you look at the mass of the bowel movements of the fecal that they passed, you see the massive amounts of fiber these people were eating. They have been eating about 100 grams of fiber a day to produce these large stools. Again, that’s plant material. Whether they had a mammoth in the freezer and ate the occasional animal flesh, again, the majority of what those folks ate was a whole food plant-based diet.
That said, coming into more modern times here, the picture’s kind of skewed in medical history because 100 years ago, certainly 150, 200 years ago, people were dying of infectious diseases. They were dying of tuberculosis, scarlet fever, typhoid fever, and all these diseases of crowded cities and poor sanitation. That really carried away about half the public there. There were still heart attacks, but I think Eric described the first one I think in 1910. Again, it seemed to be a 20th-century disease, they certainly had gout, they certainly had diabetes, and they certainly had the diseases of affluence—the diseases of kings and queens. Now people ate like that back then got those same diseases. But the regular folks who couldn’t afford meat every day, they didn’t die so much of the artery disease. But again, they were the poor folks who wound up in crowded cities and dying of typhoid and tuberculosis.
No matter when in history we tune in, the diet was certainly playing a major role. But the main thrust of your question, you are right. After World War II, I was born 1947, from that era on, the western diet changed. We got rich in this country, we got high techie, and we got money-driven. The food folks learned that you put fat, salt, and sugar on people’s tongues, man, you can sell them anything. They developed it into an art form. Their science of it. We’re left with the sorry legacy of that juggernaut that got spawned with that lethal mix of marketing, the money, and the disregard for public health. I don’t care what it does. As long as they’re buying my product, as long as my stockholders are making money, that’s all I care about.
Look at our children. Look at the cost of that philosophy and the costs have been way, way too high. I don’t care if they’ve made a lot of money. They’re going to wind up giving it back with all the hospitals, the medical plans, and the insurance. The old saying, pay your grocer now or your doctor later. The one or the other. You’ve got to pay for your health. It’s better to pay the grocer for healthy food rather than paying your doctor to bail you out of the problems that bad food has created.
[01:24:16] Ashley James: In all your years of working with people and helping them to heal their body with food, is there one story that stands out? Someone who you were so surprised that they were able to reverse that. You didn’t expect them to reverse that problem with a whole food plant-based diet.
[01:24:39] Dr. Michael Klaper: Oh my, yeah. A number of them. I had a man in his 40s come in. He had low-grade cancer, but he had some numbers that were of concern regarding his blood tests, his arteries, et cetera. He had read Dr. Esselstyn’s book and he said, “I know I have to do this.” And I really encouraged him to do that. He was living with his mother and father and both of them said we’re fine, but as an act of solidarity to support you, our son, we’re going to eat the same way you are. Not only did Andre do beautifully with his cholesterol levels and his cancer never came back, but his father lived—totally unbeknownst to me.
He had diabetes, high blood pressure, was taking four medications and was on insulin. I would see the son every month or so and about six months into it, he brought his father with him. His father walked in and gave me the biggest cry. He had tears coming down his face. He said, “You don’t know me,” but he brought in the pills that he was on. He had a paper bag full of pills. He says, “I don’t take a single pill. Every morning I work out on my exercise, I bike like you recommended for my son, and I’ve never felt so good.” You never know who hears, you never know who sees, you never know who gets inspired. We became quite good friends. We see them a couple of times a year. I’ve got a really fine thing with the father now who wasn’t even my official patient.
I had another patient. He was the head of physiotherapy at Truckee hospital in the California mountains. He had angina so bad and he was clogged up. He used to be a football player. He couldn’t walk across the courtyard of our clinic without taking two nitroglycerin. He was in such a bad artery shape. He did a water fast and got on a really lean clean diet, and every morning, I would meet him for our morning and afternoon walk. When we started he could barely make it at half a block, but day after day, healthy meal after a healthy meal, I watched him. I watched the weight come off him, I watched his walking ability increased, and I watched his confidence increase. His face changed as he lost weight. He became a different man right in front of my eyes. And by the time he left our clinic in Northern California, he was walking five miles around Santa Rosa. Yes, it makes you go to bed at night saying yes, that’s why I went into medicine to help people get into that state. Wonderful good stories. Everybody’s got a bucket full of those who practice this kind of medicine.
[01:27:58] Ashley James: I love it. I call my kitchen my pharmacy and you walk into your kitchen, when you walk through the threshold of your kitchen, just know, say to yourself, I’m walking into my pharmacy. Use farm like farmacy. You’re walking into your farmacy. You open that fridge, and when it is full of a beautiful variety of colorful vegetables, leafy greens, it is so beautiful. There’s just something magical about it. I love cooking, and I love making delicious food. Some people are really intimidated by it. There are so many recipes out there. I had Chef AJ on the show a few times. She has at least 100 videos on YouTube teaching different recipes.
Then I got together with a really good friend of mine who got on the whole food plant-based diet as well and has seen amazing results. But not only that, her parents, her mother-in-law, her entire family, and they all have had results. She converts people. It’s pretty amazing. She’s a living example. She’s in her 40s, she was diagnosed with heart issues, or she was told she has heart issues. She noticed that she was having some pain and she thought it was a different health problem, but the pain in her chest was the beginning of angina.
And then she got on a whole food plant-based diet, and within just a matter of—I think it was less than two weeks, it was really really soon—her walking partner, she goes around the block with a working walking partner very often. The walking partner said you’re walking faster, and she didn’t really believe her. She has three boys around the ages between 9 and 13 or 8 and 13, and they were usually always in front of her. Come on, mom. Come on, let’s go. Keep up. They’re walking somewhere together and all her boys were behind her. Mom, slow down. She turned around and she started crying. She’s like oh my gosh, I am walking faster. I don’t have angina, and then just things progressed from there. The weight came off. I think she said she’s at the same size as she was back in college. Just so many things are getting better.
It’s like watching a snowball melt. It’s like watching your body slowly transform, but not only that, her mother, her arthritis within six weeks went away—completely went away. Both her parents are doing great on a whole food plant-based diet. We’re just seeing so many wonderful changes that are taking place.
She and I got together, she’s an amazing cook, and we started filming ourselves cooking in the kitchen. We made that available through our website as a course. Everything that we can do and I could think of to help people to just try it, just try it. I was so afraid to try it. I had never had a meal without meat. I really went into this kicking and screaming. My husband, I think it was about three years ago, he woke up one day and he was a meat guy. He barely ate anything other than meat. It was just coffee and then meat, that’s all he ate and eggs. He woke up one morning a few years ago and he said to me, “I am never eating meat again.” Just something inside him snapped and he said, “I’m never having anything from an animal again.”
If I had told him that 12 years ago when I met him he would have laughed at me out of the house. He totally transformed into seeing all this health information. Me, I went kicking and screaming because I was so afraid. I was so afraid of what might happen, but I tried it and I was fascinated with the results. At every turn, my body rewarded me with better and better health. I’m still on my health journey, so is my husband, and we’re just seeing the changes take place as we continue down this road.
For those who are just starting out, potentially they’re interested, but again they might be like me where they’ve never had a meal without meat. They don’t even know what life would look like in that way. Maybe they have a spouse that wouldn’t support them in this way. Can you give us some resources or some tips, or maybe just walk us through what they can do to transition or try this out?
[01:32:26] Dr. Michael Klaper: Absolutely. If they have a pencil and paper or they can remember this. Go to a website with these initials pcrm.org—Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. They have a 21-day plant-based kickstart program there that will walk you through. They’ll find your favorite food. You start with mashed potatoes and corn on the cob, just things that you’re already eating, and just get a couple of plant-based breakfasts together, a couple of plant-based lunches and dinners. They ease you into it. That’s a really useful website, pcrm.org. But also go to a website called Forks Over Knives and see the film at the website of that same name, but they’ve got beautiful transition plans and recipes. Another one is called Engine 2, which is Dr. Esselstyn’s son Rip’s website. Those four will certainly get you started.
You’ll find no oil and salad dressings there, and you can find everything you need at those four websites, but there’s no end of wonderful cookbooks. Cathy Fisher’s Straight Up Food is wonderful. Katie Mae’s plant-based gym is wonderful. There are lots of resources on the web, but start with pcrm.org and Forks Over Knives and they’ll walk you through the transition deliciously.
[01:34:02] Ashley James: Very cool. Do you personally have any tips? Imagine we’re sitting in your office, we’re new patients of yours. What are the things you would tell us to help us get started?
[01:34:13] Dr. Michael Klaper: Again, take your time. There’s no emergency here. Don’t get uncomfortable, but don’t linger in bad food land there either. As the PCRM folks, let’s start with the food you already eat. Let’s see if we can healthify them. What do you have for breakfast? How about oatmeal with some fruit on it and little almond milk there, are you okay with that? Sure. Or just a bowl of fruit, wonderful. Just drink water if you’re not hungry until you get hungry. That’s all fine. And lunches and dinners, I want a salad with every—Dr. Fuhrman says the salad is the main dish, and he’s right. You want that fresh, live, colorful salad every day, and a hearty bowl of vegetable soup.
Just start with that. Have a salad and soup as part of lunches and dinners. And realize starches are your friends. The whole grains, rice, quinoa, millet, and buckwheat are wonderful things to put in soups and to put on your plate there and cover with vegetables. Learn to love legumes, beans, peas, chickpeas, lentils, and anything in a pod. Lentil stews and bean burritos without the cheese—should visit your plate frequently. And there’s a world of colorful fruits for dessert. Instead of ice cream, have berries with some almond milk on it. My wife and I enjoy that. Have a couple of mangoes. Have some grapes and cherries for dessert.
It doesn’t take much. These are all delicious foods. Learn to do batch cooking. Make up a big pot of soup and eat part of it and put the rest in freezer containers and put it in the freezer for those days you don’t feel like. You can just pull them out and heat them up, and you only have to cook like twice or three times a week. You just coast the rest of the days on the soups, the stews, and the casseroles that you made up in those big batches. There’s an art to it, and the more you do, the easier it gets after you’ve made these dishes two, three times. You can do it in your sleep. They’re not that complicated.
Have fun with the seasonings. As I said, you can make it Italian style, East Indian, Mexican, or Asian. Have fun with the different cuisines so you don’t get bored. Enjoy, eat all you want, and you’ll wind up lean and healthy.
[01:36:47] Ashley James: I love it. It sounds great. That is such a perfect way to ease into it, but like you said, don’t dwindle but definitely ease into it. That is such a simple plan that someone can get started right away. Your website, you offer some great services. You do telemedicine, people can work with you, and you also have these classes. Tell us a bit more. When someone goes to your website, of course, all the links to your websites are going to be in the show notes of today’s podcast at learntruehealth.com. When someone goes to plantbasedtelehealth.com or doctorklaper.com, what kind of classes should they sign up for?
[01:37:31] Dr. Michael Klaper: Sure. Plant Based Telehealth, this is our official medical services company. I work with two other plant-based doctors, Dr. Laurie Marbas and Dr. Chris Miller, and we do plant-based nutrition consultations. We do 30-minute consultations about any disease you’ve got there, so if you want a plant-based doc who won’t cluck their tongues when you tell them that you’re vegan, go to plantbasedtelehealth.com and make an appointment. It’s very reasonably priced, but that is for straight medical counseling.
But if you want to learn about the plant-based diet, the scientific side, the ethical side, the environmental side, and you want to see videos, et cetera, go to my website, doctorklaper.com. You’ll find free videos there. You’ll find recipes, you’ll find articles, you’ll find Q&As there. It’s just a treasure trove of plant-based information. You can sign up for our masterclasses and plant-based nutrition. We do them every two weeks for 12 classes, but once the course is finished, people can download the recordings. It’s never too late to sign up if you’d like. Again, that’s all at doctorklaper.com.
[01:38:56] Ashley James: Awesome. Tell us what you ate in the last 24 hours.
[01:39:01] Dr. Michael Klaper: Oh, wow. Well the last 24 hours, we always have a big salad going in the fridge. My wife makes these dynamite salad dressings in the blender, and we always have a big Crock-Pot full of super stew on the counter. We’ve got an Instant Pot. We just made some Gordo beans soup. I could live on soup, salads, and greens.
So yesterday, for lunch, I had soup and a salad. Dinner time my wife had made a tofu lasagna and we splurged on cooked foods about once a week. That was our decadent treat for the week. She put up overnight oats before we went to bed. She started soaking oats for the morning, and so this morning the overnight oats were ready. I put in half a quart of blueberries. I love blueberries. I loaded up with that and my wife makes cashew milk in the blender. I put some ground flaxseed and hemp seed on the cereal. And lunch, I haven’t had lunch yet here, but I think she’s making a buddha bowl. I think she’s cooking up some quinoa and she’ll put some greens and some tahini dressing on it. I’m a big fan of her buddha bowls. It’s cherry season here. She brought back some dynamite organic cherries, and we’ve been feasting on the cherries in between meals.
[01:40:43] Ashley James: That sounds delicious. Dr. Michael Klaper, it has been such a pleasure having you on the show today. Thank you so much for bringing your 39 years of experience helping people to reverse disease and prevent disease with a whole food plant-based diet. Do you have any final words you’d like to say? Words of encouragement or some challenges that you’d like to give us, some homework you’d like to give us to wrap up today’s interview?
[01:41:10] Dr. Michael Klaper: Absolutely. No matter where you look, the lights are flashing, the bells are clanging that major changes are needed here on planet earth. By far, the one thing we can do as we are hurtling towards environmental catastrophe is each of us to evolve our diet to a whole food plant-based diet. It’s beyond nicety, it’s beyond your cholesterol level. Large-scale industrial animal agriculture is destroying this planet. It’s destroying the forest, the waters, and the soils and it’s what’s putting greenhouse gases into the air as we cut down the forest.
We are being told, humans, if you want to survive on an individual level, you want to live a healthy life with clean arteries, adopt a whole food plant-based diet. But if you want a livable planet that we can pass on to our children without hanging our heads in shame, as species, we need to adopt a whole food plant-based diet. If we do, we’ll need so much less land to grow our food that the forest will come back. As the trees grow, they’ll take carbon dioxide out of the air. The waters will run purely again. The soils will stabilize. The earth will heal. But the age of animal eating is over. We’ve used it up. We’ve used fishing up.
The bell is clanging, the red lights are flashing. We’ve run out of time here. What can we do? What can we do? We can adopt a whole food plant-based diet as individuals and as species. I urge people, don’t put it off. It’s the most life-affirming thing that you can do. On some level, if we hold on to our old meat-eating ways, the future looks very bleak. Plant-based diet offer a future of health, stability, and healing. I urge people to take it seriously. Get on the plant-based train, and it’ll take you good places, I promise.
[01:43:22] Ashley James: I love it. I love it. One final thing. I just remembered you said that when we don’t eat processed fats—so no oil—and we don’t eat the animal fats, so now we’re just getting whole food plant-based fats from a whole food source like avocado, some nuts, or some olives. Occasionally, not in excess quantity. We’re primarily getting starches that the body will take the excess starch or the excess carbohydrate and burn it off as heat.
Sometime after I gave birth—my son’s five—I noticed that I’m not cold anymore, and I attributed that to something changed in my body because I gave birth. Because I couldn’t figure out what it was. I was always freezing. I’m from Canada so I just thought it was the cold weather because it would be -40 in the wintertime, but I was always cold. I had to wear heated socks. You put them in the microwave, you heat them up. I even had an electric blanket in my house. I found an electric blanket that plugs in the car and I would wear that around me. I was just always cold all the time.
After adopting a whole food plant-based diet, and it didn’t click until you said it because I thought it had something to do with maybe my hormones after giving birth, but it was after I went whole food plant-based. I am hot all the time in the last few winters. I’ve walked around barefoot in the winter even outside. I am so hot I don’t ever have the blankets on me. My husband is amazed. I can’t believe it. Something about my circulation, something about the heat, but I know so many women are complaining that they’re cold all the time. Their hands are cold, their feet are cold.
I’m telling you I’m hot, but I’m not uncomfortably hot. But I run hot now. That’s so funny you mentioned that. Any excess carbohydrates I’m eating the body’s just burning it off as heat, and I run hot, which is really cool. I mean it’s really hot, but it’s so much better than the alternative. It was so uncomfortable being cold all the time, which almost is like saying I had a carbohydrate deficiency. My body was unable to produce enough heat, and now it is having a healthier circulation and producing enough heat. I thought that was really interesting.
Thank you so much for everything you brought today, and I’d love to have you back on. Anytime you want to come and share more information, we’d love to have you.
[01:45:44] Dr. Michael Klaper: Thank you very much. You’ve done a great service in bringing this information—and hopefully inspiration—to your listeners. It’s a great service that hopefully will help everyone heal including the planet, so it’s been a delight and an honor. Those are great questions. You’re an excellent interviewer, by the way, and I really enjoyed being on your show. Thank you very much. All the best to you and your listeners.
[01:46:08] Ashley James: Thank you. I hope you enjoyed today’s episode of the Learn True Health podcast. You can go to learntruehealth.com and check out all of the wonderful resources there. We transcribe all of our interviews, so you can scan through and read interviews. We have some really great free goodies on the site as well. If you have a friend, family member, or yourself suffer from anxiety, I have a wonderful course where you learn tools on how to eliminate anxiety. How to turn off the anxiety response in the body, how to decrease stress, and increase health mentally, emotionally, and physically.
So go to learntruehealth.com, search through the menu. You’ll see there are many resources on the site available to you there. Thank you so much for being a listener, and thank you so much for sharing this podcast with those you care about. Let’s help turn this little ripple into a tidal wave and help as many people as possible to learn true health.
Magnesium Soak: Use coupon code LTH at Livingthegoodlifenaturally.com
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Dr. Krause's site: https://doctorjkrausend.com
There are many health and nutrition advice out there that sometimes we try to do them all at once and get overwhelmed. But in this episode, Dr. Jannine Krause says, “less is more and daily routines are more important.” She talks about little tweaks we can do to improve our overall health such as breathing and drinking water.
Hello, true health seeker and welcome to another exciting episode of the Learn True Health podcast. In today’s interview, you’re going to learn easy lifestyle changes that you can start doing today but will make huge changes to your overall health and well-being. One of the habits I highly recommend you take on is soaking in magnesium. If you haven’t already, go to learntruehealth.com and search Kristen Bowen and listen to my episodes with Kristen Bowen. She shares about all the benefits of soaking in magnesium. No, I don’t mean Epsom salt or those magnesium flakes. I’m talking about her concentrated, undiluted magnesium from the Zechstein Sea that also contains other cofactors. We’ve actually had over 2000 of our listeners purchase her magnesium soak and have amazing results, and many of them have shared the results in the Learn True Health Facebook group.
I myself have had fantastic results. I love soaking in her magnesium. They’ve done tests where they’ve seen that the body up takes 20 grams of magnesium while soaking in it. All you do is put a quarter of a cup of her magnesium soak in a big bowl or basin of water and put your feet in it. Just enough to cover your feet, and it doesn’t matter what temperature the water is. If it’s summer you can have cool water. I did that last summer when it was really hot and it was very refreshing. And of course, over the winter, it’s nice to have hot water to put your feet in. And then you soak for about 45 minutes. You can do it between 30 minutes and an hour to optimally get all the magnesium that you’ll get in that session. You stay in it for an hour.
For children, you can actually put it in their bathtub. It’s completely safe. We noticed right away that our son started sleeping better when we put the magnesium soak in his bath, and he became calmer, which was really exciting. My restless legs went away. My fatigue that I had. I was still having sleep problems because my son was colic, so I’d be up with him in the night and I would have fatigue. I noticed that my fatigue was significantly diminished. I had more energy, my muscle cramps went away, and I’ve been oral magnesium for years and I was still deficient. She explains why you can take her magnesium, her soak, and her magnesium and even if you’re taking oral magnesium, you’ll have even better results because your soak absorbing. Your body absorbs what it needs.
So go check out my interviews with Kristen Bowen. You can actually just purchase her magnesium soak by going to livingthegoodlifenaturally.com. That’s livingthegoodlifenaturally.com and be sure to use the coupon code LTH. That’s the special listener discount. I also highly recommend checking out her Magnesium Muscle Creme as it is, in our home, absolutely mandatory to always have a jar of her creme around. If anyone in our family has a headache, usually just a tension headache, we rub it on our neck and our headache immediately goes away. It is very soothing for any kind of aches or pains. And it’s highly concentrated magnesium that you would put locally on the skin. I’ve also used it on my son when he had a bump and he had some pain because magnesium helps the body to turn off the pain response.
There are many uses for magnesium and I absolutely love her magnesium products. That’s Kristen Bowen. You can go to learntruehealth.com, type in Kristen Bowen to find all the episodes with her. She shares about even how she’s used magnesium to help rid herself of parasites, so we’ve had some create interviews and great discussions. Come join the Learn True Health Facebook group and ask. If you’re interested, ask other listeners, other members of our community to share their experiences with her magnesium soak. I just think it’s a wonderful habit for self-care. It’s something that you can do while you’re watching TV or even while you’re working during the day at your desk. I often do it when I’m doing an interview. You can also use her soak in the bathtub like I mentioned, you can even use it in the sauna, or you can go outside because it’s the summertime and soak your feet outside while you’re just enjoying nature and breathing or reading a book.
This is such a great habit that’ll help you to decrease your stress levels and achieve the goals that our doctor today in this episode is going to share with you. Thank you so much for being a listener. Thank you so much for sharing this episode and other episodes with your friends and family. Please continue sharing this podcast so we can help as many people as possible to learn true health.
[00:04:43] Ashley James: Welcome to the Learn True Health podcast. I’m your host, Ashley James. This is episode 438. I am so excited for today’s interview. We have on the show one of my favorite kinds of guests, Naturopathic physician Dr. Jannine Krause. I’m so excited to have you on the show. Welcome.
[00:05:08] Dr. Jannine Krause: Thanks, Ashley.
[00:05:09] Ashley James: Now you practice Naturopathic medicine and acupuncture and you are also a podcast host, so we’ll make sure that the listeners know how to get to your podcast—The Health Fix podcast. I will have the links to your podcast and website in the show notes of today’s podcast at learntruehealth.com. You went to Bastyr University here in Washington State. That’s a university I’m very familiar with. So many of the Naturopaths that I work with have gone there. How long has it been since you graduated?
[00:05:44] Dr. Jannine Krause: I graduated in 2007, so it’s been 13 years actually this month. Wow. Yeah, 13 years.
[00:05:52] Ashley James: Time flies, right? It just feels like yesterday. That’s crazy. Since you started practicing, in the last 13 years, what has really surprised you? Have you had any big aha moments as a doctor?
[00:06:07] Dr. Jannine Krause: Yeah, for sure, for sure. I think in the last, I’d say, five years, it has started to come together for me that less is more and daily routines are more important than all of the herbs, supplements, and trying to really spend a lot of effort on testing the daylights out of people. While that’s still important, it’s just that I’m finding that less is more and some of our daily routines might need to be tweaked to get the results we’re looking for.
[00:06:40] Ashley James: What kind of daily habits did you tweak in your clients that saw you maximize the results, that had you have those aha moments?
[00:06:49] Dr. Jannine Krause: One of the biggest ones is breathing, which seems silly because obviously we have to do it, otherwise we wouldn’t be alive. Actually, having folks take the time to slow down their breath but also target it when they’re feeling stressed or when they’re finishing up a workout. Because so many folks I see, I’m in a little bit of a different practice may be in terms of I have a lot of folks who have chronic pain and chronic illnesses, but then I have a whole other subset of folks that are athletes. Pushing themselves to the limits and finding that gosh, they just seem wired all the time, anxiety, and things of that nature. But if we could get them to breathe and slow down for five minutes after a workout, it’s like this parasympathetic reset. Finding that breathing is this amazing tool was kind of a big game-changer.
[00:07:46] Ashley James: I love it. It’s so funny. My husband holds his breath all the time. He doesn’t realize he’s doing it, but when he’s stressed or concentrating, he’ll hold his breath, and then he’ll just do this big exhale. I’m like you got to breathe. You just have to take slow deep breaths, become more conscious of it. If people do that when they get tensed up and then they hold their breath, do you have any steps for teaching people how to reorganize their brain so they begin to breathe in a healthier way?
[00:08:13] Dr. Jannine Krause: Absolutely. It comes down to setting a routine. It’s much like anything that you’re going to practice like learning how to ride a bike. You had to do it a couple of times before you got in your groove. In the same case with breathing, I have folks waking up in the morning starting their breathing practice. Some people are already down with meditating and have that going on. They’ve got their thought process going and they’re just not really taking advantage of the breathing aspect that they could integrate into it. Or we have another set of folks who the first thing they do when they wake up in the morning, they grab their phones and start looking at the newsfeed, texts, or things of that nature.
There’s a great little time frame in our morning when we first open our eyes that we can work on some of our breathing techniques. I’m talking like five counts inhale, seven counts exhale, that kind of stuff. And then finding time throughout the day that we can practice it. Usually, I’m finding that folks will have little stressors right around the time that they’re either driving to work or right before they start work, so I’ll do another session then. And then after work kind of trying to close down the day because I think so many of us like go from work and then boom right to the next thing.
Now, granted, the coronavirus has given us a little time to not have to have so many social events after work, but unfortunately, so many people don’t take advantage of that time frame after work to unwind. And I think that’s a great time to start to practice working on breath work and flipping out of the sympathetic mode into a parasympathetic mode so that you can chill for the rest of the evening.
[00:09:53] Ashley James: For those who don’t know if that is, you’re switching the nervous system into a state of healing and switching it out of a state of stress.
[00:10:01] Dr. Jannine Krause: Absolutely, yes. We’re all sympathetic-driven just the way our society is. Meaning, that we’re constantly on alert. Our nervous system is in fight-or-flight mode most of the time. And to switch into parasympathetic, which is known as rest, digest, and I add in the chill component, it’s huge for us because so many people are caught in being chronically fatigued and chronically anxious because they’re literally running marathons within their body. Whether they realize it or not, that sympathetic mode and that fight-or-flight mode just keep them on for hours and hours on end. Taking more time to pull yourself out of it and flip that switch is huge. It can be a game-changer.
[00:10:48] Ashley James: Since Naturopathic medicine is science-based, what changes did you see in labs? Or did you actually see some changes when your patients started to change their breathing that had you go aha, this minimalistic approach is actually we’re maximizing all the things we’re doing with them because they’ve started to breathe better?
[00:11:12] Dr. Jannine Krause: Absolutely. I think that’s one of the ways when I started to connect like huh, if we tried this, would it change labs? In particular, a couple of different things that I’ve found over time—cortisol, in particular saliva cortisol tests are something that I use. I use it in terms of four points. If folks who are listening aren’t familiar with a saliva cortisol test, you are going to spit into a little tube and you’re going to do it when you wake up, before lunch, before dinner, and before bedtime. What we’re going to do is look at that pattern in terms of what’s happening with your cortisol release. Naturally, we’re supposed to have higher amounts of cortisol in the morning, then it’s going to taper off, and it’s going to go down lower to get us ready to go to bed in the evening.
What I found, with a lot of folks who were not taking the time to breathe and were pretty stressed out, that we had either really high spikes in the morning right about the time the folks were going to go to work. Or we were having higher earlier spikes, say 3:00 AM, 4:00 AM in the morning, which can also be related to hormone stuff and we can talk about that later but I would see that. And then I would see the second blip of an increase in cortisol right around the evening time, almost like someone was becoming more amped up and the body was having signals that they should have more cortisol around 5:00 PM, 6:00 PM.
With working with breathwork, I timed it to when the cortisol was out of range. Like I mentioned before, the morning is always a good time for most people. I see that 9 times out of 10, then I see it 9 times out of 10 before work, and then this evening time. I had people working on their breath work and then three months later or six months later, depending on the individual we were retesting. Sure enough, we were able to bring down the cortisol from doing that.
I also added in a little bit of ashwagandha as well in some cases, so I can’t say 100% breathing, but I did see, in quite a few folks, quite a difference of bringing things down. That was one of my first inclinations like okay, we can do this. Then the next was starting to look at hormones and thyroids because so many people are on thyroid medication and they’re not seeing results. They’re not feeling good. As a Naturopathic doctor, I get mad. I’m like I’m not fixing this person. Why am I not helping them? What’s going on? What are we doing wrong?
One of the things I found is that if we can get the body out of sympathetic mode a little bit more, we start to see the T4, which is your hormone that comes directly out of the thyroid, we start to see that coming up and we start to see conversion better. T4 is the hormone that comes out of the thyroid and it gets converted to T3. We’re starting to see higher levels of T3 compared to someone who had lower T3 levels, and we’re just getting more and more medication to try to bump up the T3, so a little Cytomel if you’re familiar with that medication, that is a T3 supplement. I found that these folks didn’t need these medications anymore. Almost as if their metabolism was starting to kick in naturally on their own when we were working with getting them out of sympathetic mode and more into the parasympathetic mode with breathing.
[00:14:28] Ashley James: Oh my gosh. I love it. The body becomes more efficient, it responds to protocols. I think, in this society, we really do not value getting out of stress mode. We really don’t value self-care. It’s kind of like oh yeah, that’s for other people. I’m a mom. I also have a job. I have this, I have that. We think I’ve got to cook dinner, then I have to do this, and I have this list of things I have to do. We don’t put self-care on that list because it doesn’t seem important. I was just talking to a client yesterday. She has these bouts of panic attacks where it’s so bad she has to lie on the floor and just do breathing. Her whole body feels like it’s dizzy and spinning and her heart is pounding.
We talked about a list that she can make of things that really help to manage her stress like going for walks, taking a hot shower while doing some breathing in the shower, and having a tickle fight with her kids. Make a list of things she knows gets her out of stress mode and to do them throughout the day. I said, “I bet if you think about the last time you had one of those panic attacks were on the floor totally unable to be there for your kids because you have to lie on the floor for 45 minutes. If you think about it, there were signs leading up to that. There are signs throughout the day leading up to the heart palpitations.”
If she’d go to gone to an MD, they might have put her on medication for the heart palpitations, medication for high blood pressure, and medication for the anxiety. Meanwhile, none of those medications—they mask symptoms but they’re not addressing what caused her to have a panic attack in the first place, which is not taking care of herself in terms of self-care, managing her stress, and doing activities that get her body out of the sympathetic mode and into the parasympathetic healing response. I just can’t imagine how many people are on drugs—multiple drugs. And how many people are on drugs, like you said, with the thyroid medication where the medication isn’t even working efficiently because of their lifestyle. Simple things they could change. Their lifestyle is causing their body to break down instead of being a healing mode.
I’d love for you to talk more about the physiological effect of stress on the body and the physiological effect of getting out of stress mode so we can really understand how important it is to put the self-care, install the self-care. As little as five minutes in the morning doing some deep breathing, install self-care throughout the day in order to make the whole body go into that healing mode and stay away from the disease mode, which is being in chronic stress mode.
[00:17:40] Dr. Jannine Krause: I think one of the big connections that I like for folks to make here about the physiological effects of stress—I have so many folks that come in to see me and they have the anxiety and different things that we would think about—stress. But what they don’t connect is why is the wait keep going up? They’re like I need more thyroid meds. I need my hormones adjusted. No, I don’t think it’s all that because I’ve done that with so many people.
In my 13 years, I’m kind of like no, it’s lifestyle. I’ve seen it over and over again work, but physiological effects of stress—you’re going to gain some weight or yes, you could lose weight. But what happens is we start to have fatigue. Fatigue to the point where you wake up in the morning and maybe you’ve had 8 to 10 hours of sleep and you’re like I feel like I got no sleep. I’m so tired. I could sleep for 20 more hours. Just wanting to like pull the sheets back over your head and just crash back out.
Where another area of fatigue you can see as folks might be getting out of bed and kind of plugging through the day but like 2:00 PM they’re starting to really crash. I mean not just like you can solve it with going by the candy dish at the office or picking up a snack. It’s like you have to lay down on the couch and actually take a nap. That is where we’re really starting to hit the wall with stress.
Another biggie, physiologically, that I’ll see with folks is that we actually see the labs start to change. I was talking about it a little bit more in terms of the thyroid where the TSH, which is thyroid-stimulating hormone and this is signaling from the brain to the thyroid, this number starts to go up. It may not be in a completely abnormal number, so let’s say it’s around 2.5, 3. The number at which conventional medicine starts to say you need medication is around 4.5. Some doctors are changing that. Naturopaths start to think about uh-oh, we got problems when we’re seeing that TSH around 2. This is going okay. So our brain is trying to tell our thyroid, hey, we need something going on. Metabolism is slowing down. What are we doing? Why aren’t you responding to me?
That’s one physiological sign. T4 is another one. This is where that hormone coming out of the thyroid starts to also slow down. Now, we’re not pumping out the main hormone from the thyroid that has to get converted for us to have proper metabolism. Now, we’re having issues with low T4 and T3. That could be some physiological changes that you might see. The next thing is blood sugar starts to creep up. We’ll see that someone’s A1C, which is blood sugar, over time in about three months average snapshot of what’s going on with their blood sugar. You might start to realize all of a sudden oh my gosh, I’m pre-diabetic, which is an A1C of 5.7 or you might be right on the borderline or you might actually have your fasting glucose going up. You’re going okay, that’s weird. You’re gaining weight on top of that, and your thyroid numbers are starting to suffer and be lower.
These are some of the physiologic signs. Now, another physiologic sign that’s really common, and a lot of people will start to play off, is multiple food sensitivities. When you start to be like I just can’t tolerate foods anymore, or I can’t tolerate dairy, wheat, or wine. That’s usually when people start getting upset is when the wine is starting to bother them and I’ll get complaints, but that is a sign that you’re physiologically starting to become stressed because your body’s getting overloaded. Rashes are another big physiologic sign that we’re starting to overload the system. That’s a snapshot of what’s most common. I will tend to see things where we’ve got autoimmune antibodies starting to pop up. When we go specifics, we don’t see anything specific but the autoimmune antibodies come up as well, so the body starts to attack itself a little bit.
These are all some of the most common physiologic signs that I see in my practice in addition to pain. Pain comes along with the CRP, which is known as C-reactive protein. That’s an inflammation marker in our blood. That’ll start to go up and the pain will go up. Sed rate which is how sticky your blood is as I talk to folks about. Platelets might increase as well, and you might even see eosinophils or basophils which are white blood cell markers that there is an allergic surveillance reaction going on in the body. That it’s sending off signals something isn’t right. I’m getting overloaded. Ashley, that’s what I look at to see what’s going on physiologically if someone is starting to get to overload of the sympathetic nervous system mode.
[00:22:32] Ashley James: Can you walk us through physiologically? So someone’s in stress mode for a long period of time. What’s causing multiple food sensitivities? Is it that when we’re in sympathetic nervous system response that the body shunts blood away from the core, away from digestion so digestion suffers? Does being in stress mode affect the microbiome? Does it increase the chances of leaky gut? Or is it that when people are stressed out they’re probably eating foods that are harming their gut? Can you just walk us through what you think is the root cause of why long-term stress causes food sensitivities?
[00:23:15] Dr. Jannine Krause: I think all of those. D, all of the above. Your microbiome changes as you’re stressed because certain bugs are super sensitive. The lactobacillus family is extremely sensitive to stress, and you’ll see it low on stool samples in someone who’s really stressed out. Your gut lining separates the part with stress. One of the most, I guess, common examples I use in my office is looking at some of the big marathon runners who win. A lot of them will have bowel issues, and unfortunately, sometimes they get documented on some of the media in terms of the gut not behaving. There is a true thing of gastritis related to exercise because of the stressors it puts on the body. You don’t actually have to run a marathon to have that same kind of reaction.
The other thing with like you were saying the blood shunting away and being in the muscles because we’re at this state of any moment we need to run away from that bear. Not having the blood in the digestive system to help us with circulating the molecules, things sit longer, we don’t produce digestive enzymes like we should. We don’t produce the hydrochloric acid to break things down like we should. So that, combined with when we’re stressed, we’re usually eating on the go. We’re usually not sitting down and taking our leisurely time to eat. We’re eating faster so bigger pieces of food get in the gut. They sit, they ferment, they irritate the lining, and now we’ve got issues with leaky gut happening there.
Yeast is another common bug in the gut that is naturally supposed to be there, but in excess, its little finger that grows out and spreads cells apart. That can be a leaky gut factor. And we also have the factor of declining estrogens, in particular estradiol and progesterone. Lower amounts of estradiol will also have an effect on the gut lining just like it has an effect on your skin. I like to tell folks that what you see on the outside on your skin is kind of a reflection of what’s on the inside of your gut lining. So if you’re getting wrinkly, chances are, the inside of your gut is getting a little wrinkly and might be getting a little leaky at the same time.
Progesterone, if we drop on progesterone and just a little insight for folks if it’s not been mentioned or you’re not familiar, when the body stress we steal progesterone. We steal the precursors to make cortisol versus progesterone. Progesterone is needed to keep histamines in check. So if you’re eating a lot of high histamine foods like tomatoes or let’s go with nuts, seeds, or maybe some aged cheese, chocolate, all the good stuff in life. All of that stuff can create more histamine reactions within the gut, which creates more of an inflammatory reaction. And now we end up with leaky gut too. There are a lot of different factors that can be contributing to this.
[00:26:11] Ashley James: It’s really interesting about histamine that it’s converted in the gut. Isn’t it converted in the large intestine? Or it’s broken down I should say.
[00:26:25] Dr. Jannine Krause: Yes. The liver and large intestine have a lot to do with histamine breakdown.
[00:26:33] Ashley James: Can you explain a bit about that? Because I think a lot of people have allergies and then they just take medication for it. But of course, my listeners want to do things naturally and actually get to the root cause and heal. I had a woman who was on medications for many years. It was a prescription drug for hay fever and having to deal with pollen. She lived up in Northern Alberta. She said that if she didn’t take her pill every day, during the spring, summer, and even into the fall, if she didn’t take it she wouldn’t be able to drive. Her eyes would itch and burn so bad her face would become puffy. She just couldn’t even see enough to drive.
She started cleaning up her diet. She cut out all the gluten grains and took in a lot of antioxidants, took in some supplements. One day,9 she’s driving to work and she realized she had forgotten to take her medication and she wasn’t having that response. She freaked out. She stopped taking the medication just to see what happened and sure enough, she couldn’t believe it. But I’ve heard this over and over again that when people cut out foods and focus on healing the gut and focus on taking care of themselves that their doctor told them, their MD told them they would have allergies their whole life. That’s it. You’ve got to be on this medication for the rest of your life.
It’s such an injustice that is done, which she actually looked at the side effects that it said that if you took this medication long-term it can cause cancer, and her doctor never warned her about that which is really frustrating that there are nasty side effects to so many medications and yet we’re just masking a symptom of a broken body and we can heal our body. Just tell us a bit more about how we can help the body to metabolize histamine correctly and correct the situation for those who have allergies.
[00:28:31] Dr. Jannine Krause: Sure. Histamine, we have a couple of different things. Diamine oxidase, otherwise known as DAO, is the enzyme that helps break down excess histamine in the body. It can do it in our kidneys, it can do it on the lining of our intestines, also helps in the liver, and this enzyme is a game-changer, but it can be blocked based on certain foods, and it can be blocked based on how irritated a gut is. What can you do? There’s a lot of foods and there’s a whole list—and I think it would be exhaustive for me to do the whole list—but often what I’m finding is having folks go through a list of the high histamine foods to just really go okay how many of these am I eating in a day and how much together?
Because tomatoes and cheese—like aged cheese’s—that seems to go together in a lot of recipes, so do spicy foods, so do things like having pineapple salsas, for example. Now you’ve got pineapple and you’ve got tomato. Two things that are super high in histamines. It’s a little bit of slipping out the histamine connection there. There’s a gal, Dr. Becky Campbell, she has a great book that I use for patients because it has four phases of helping you go through the histamine connections in the body and going okay, how many of these things do I eat at once? I joked earlier about the delicious things in life being part of the problem with histamines because what I often will find is folks will come to me after they’ve been to like a wine party.
They’ve had aged cheese. They’ve had like almonds. They’ve had chocolate. They’ve had sausages or different types of cured meats. And they’re like I’m so itchy and I don’t feel good. It’s going oh my gosh, you just ate every single high histamine food in the universe in one evening. Unfortunately, it’s overloaded, builds over time. One of the ways that we can help our body to clear these guys is to limit the amount that we have in one sitting, but also I will have folks—if you know you’re going to go to a wine party and you know you’re sensitive and you’re just like I don’t care I really just want to have fun—take a combination of nettles or quercetin. My favorite is a brand and called Ortho Molecular D-Hist. I don’t know if you’ve heard of that guy, but it’s one of my favorites for just knocking down histamine so that we don’t have a reaction when we go out for that food.
Now granted, is something happening in your gut? Absolutely. It’s not going to cure the issue, but it will help you to manage these things. Typically, as in the case of your gal that you’re mentioning, I’m usually going to find out how many of the high histamine or DAO, diamine oxidase, blocking foods are they eating and can we remove those over time while giving quercetin, nettles, and things of that nature to try to help manage this. Now, there are also ways to clear out the liver a little bit because sometimes the system you will build up when our liver’s overloaded with toxins et cetera. I will often use milk thistle, in that case, to help clear the liver out just kind of push things out of the way and detox.
Then we have the whole concept of MTHFR, which sounds like a dirty word but methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase deficiency. This is a mutation and you’ve probably had someone for sure talk about this on your podcast. This can be another issue and we’re looking at B12 and folate as being helpers to clear out some of the histamines as well. N-acetylcysteine can help. And looking just that the overall life’s lifestyle is kind of my favorite is looking at how many things that we added adding up to the system. Keep in mind that the more stress you are in general the more your body’s on surveillance mode, and histamines are your natural neurotransmitter in the body to tell the body something’s up, something’s happening.
[00:32:59] Ashley James: I love that. This is such a great example of Naturopathic medicine versus allopathic medicine. If you go to an MD—I’m not MD bashing. I just want people to understand that we have been brainwashed our entire lives by the mainstream media, by Hollywood. We have been brainwashed our whole lives to think that allopathic pharmaceutical-based MD medicine is the only doctor to go to and that all these other doctors are quacks or they’re “alternative medicine”. As part of their marketing campaign, they started coining holistic medicine alternative medicine to say that it was less than. That this is something that you would go to maybe in addition to or less than. It’s a nice alternative, but it’s not the main medicine. It’s clever but it is so it’s so misleading.
What we have to understand is that when you go to an MD, you’re given maybe 15 minutes. Their type of medicine is great for surgeries, for acute injuries, not chronic injury but acute injury, and infections. They’re great at trauma care. You want to go to an ER filled with MDs if you have some kind of trauma.
[00:34:31] Dr. Jannine Krause: Absolutely. Yes, do not come to me.
[00:34:33] Ashley James: But that’s where it ends. Or I should say, you go to more of a specialized one like an OBGYN or you go to one for those specialized care. The Naturopath where they shine is when you go to them you’re going to get a 45-minute to a 90-minute appointment, they’ll examine your entire life, and they figure out you’re not breathing. You change your breathing now all sudden your thyroid medication is working. They dissect your life and figure out—and they take labs and they’re a real physician but they figure out how can I help your body heal itself. You go to an MD they’re philosophically different. They’re reductionistic and that they’re looking to reduce you down to symptoms and parts and manage the symptoms. Whereas it’s a totally different philosophy that you have as a Naturopath.
Naturopathic medicine is looking at the body as a whole and how the system as a whole affects itself. How is something as simple as not getting enough sleep or quality of sleep is affecting your stress levels, or the fact that you ate certain foods that are triggering histamine and you’re in stress mode and now that coupled with not breathing enough, for example, is making your thyroid medication not work. These are things that an MD would never see because it’s not part of their training or their philosophy when they approach medicine.
We as consumers, we as patients need to know when to go to which doctor. You’re not going to always go to a plumber for every problem in your house. Why do we always in our society go to the same doctor for every problem? It’s ridiculous. That’s my little soapbox. I love Naturopathic medicine. Because of Naturopathic medicine, I was able to reverse some major diseases and that’s why I do the show, why I do this podcast is to keep spreading this message so that people who didn’t know that Naturopathic medicine was available could find doctors like you.
In the last 13 years, you’ve been helping people, helping support the body’s ability to heal itself. Can you tell us some stories of success where patients came to you with chronic problems and through working with you, the body was able to heal itself?
[00:36:45] Dr. Jannine Krause: Yeah, absolutely. Probably one of my favorite stories that I have, and I still see this patient to this day because we’re still working in terms of maintenance for chronic pain. Because as an acupuncturist, I do believe that. This is something too that I’d love to folks to really embrace is that we need maintenance. It’s not like we just take care of ourselves and all of our main symptoms go away, our stress goes away, and life’s perfect. We need to maintain ourselves. It’s the same with a weight loss program. You can’t lose your 100 pounds and then expect you to go right back to your way of eating.
I have quite a few folks who are on maintenance programs for helping to keep their body just in balance, little tune-ups. Today actually, in fact, I saw a fellow of mine who has had over nine different surgeries from multiple different accidents that he’s had over the years. He had very, very chronic pelvic pain to the point where he wasn’t able to urinate properly. He was just not even able to sit properly. I mean everything hurts—standing hurt, sitting hurt, laying down really flat, and still was about the only thing that he could do when he came in to see me.
We looked at his labs, we looked at his lifestyle, we looked at where he was hurting and came up with a plan. Ultimately, what happened over time with this fella, we were working on breathing and in particular, a lot of trauma stuck in his body from the multiple accidents that had really shut down his ability to metabolize carbohydrates. He was ending up gaining weight and the weight just kept going up and up and up. Of course, he wasn’t moving because he was in so much pain.
We first started working on what was going on with his stress management because the pain, of course, creates stress. It took us—and we’re about four years in. I see him about once every six to eight weeks. He just came back from a very long motorcycle ride from here over to Boise, which is a good eight plus hours. His muscles felt pretty decent, but if he had done that when I started working with him, things would have been extremely tight and tense and he would have suffered for multiple weeks.
By working with his breathwork and working with acupuncture to help with controlling pain, I also worked with some herbs to help his body to manage stress better, adaptogenic herbs. In fact, my favorite one is ashwagandha for calming elevated cortisol. I also worked with some cordyceps to give him a little bit of energy. I like to think of ashwagandha and cordyceps as giving a little gas, then putting a little bit of the pedal, and then finding what that sweet spot is for someone. We worked with that for him to manage the stress.
Now in addition to all of this with the pelvic pain, we did pelvic floor release techniques. I actually work with a public floor physical therapist with this fella as well. On top of that, he had a lot of gut issues and multiple microbiome bug infections, so a little bit of SIBO going on. In this case, we treated his gut lining, worked on getting it healthy, and then worked on what I call a weed and feed, which you may have heard from some other Naturopaths if you’ve listened to this podcast long enough. But what we did was we helped him to balance out his microbiome. We found that part of his microbiome issues really was coming from just grabbing quick foods because when you’re stressed, when you don’t feel good, and when you’re in pain, you’re grabbing quick stuff and just whatever is going to feel good at the moment and not necessarily great in the end.
We found a huge connection with this guy and his gut and inflammation contributing to the pain. Once we were able to get him eating a little closer to nature, teach him how to cook a little bit because he wasn’t so great in the kitchen on his own, we found a lot of big changes. I didn’t have to use a whole evil protocol as I call it with fancy antibiotics and things to take care of his SIBO. We rechecked it, things are good to go. It just was ultimately calm the stress down, work on breathing, work on some meditation with him, and work on visualization to work on clearing the pathways to open up the flow of blood in his body to create some blood flow for where he was having the stuck.
When I call it the stuck Qi, this might sound super woo-woo to folks, but the pain is blockage in the body. It’s energetic blockage if you get it to the woo-woos, but if you get it to more of a scientific pattern, you look at it in terms of circulation. As we’re finding with a lot of the research on coronavirus and COVID-19, a problem that a lot of us have when it relates to pain, when it relates to stress, when it relates to organ failures and multiple breakdowns in the body is circulation. Pain is a circulatory problem and so is an issue like a digestive complaint such as SIBO. Many folks have been through so many different treatments of bug-killing, weed and feed, and all of those different things and not had success. I truly believe that it has to do with circulation.
The last thing that I did with this fella is worked quite a bit on visualization with circulation in the gut and visualization with circulation through the different acupuncture channels. Taught him a little bit about where they are, how they move, and really starting to enhance that and added in nitric oxide boosting supplements to help with the circulation. And then on top of that, some vitamins and minerals to help with mitochondria. Because if we can’t get the blood circulating, we can’t get ourselves in little factories, the mitochondria working properly.
The combination of all of those together was what got him to be where he is today—riding motorcycles and doing so much better. There are some things I can’t change because of his accidents, but he is going from lying in bed and not functional whatsoever to up and about and participating in life again. That’s huge.
[00:43:31] Ashley James: I love that story and just what a contrast. Did he go to MDs before he went to you?
[00:43:38] Dr. Jannine Krause: Oh, yeah. He had been to so many different docs. I think he had said, at one point, 35 people. He had it on his list in terms of all the different consults. It’s crazy.
[00:43:51] Ashley James: And they tried a bunch of different drugs, right?
[00:43:53] Dr. Jannine Krause: A bunch of different drugs. He had been on antidepressants, gabapentin for nerve pain, Vicodin, you name it. By the end, they were just like maybe you should do some medical marijuana. Maybe that’ll be the answer to your issues and left it at that and tell him we don’t really have anything else for you. Really, his biggest issue was the pelvic pain and pelvic floor dysfunction. Even though he had pelvic PT and even though he had tried to work on it in the conventional model, the pain meds weren’t working, the gabapentin wasn’t working. They’re about to consider a biologic for him for his gut because they were like you’re headed towards Crohn’s. It was just a change in the diet. He didn’t need the biologic for the gut. It’s crazy.
[00:44:49] Ashley James: When you say biologic do you mean a stool transplant?
[00:44:55] Dr. Jannine Krause: No, an autoimmune type of medication. An immune blocking medication.
[00:45:03] Ashley James: Oh my gosh. I get so frustrated when I hear that because so many people become so sick from all the meds. The body doesn’t have a medication deficiency.
[00:45:13] Dr. Jannine Krause: He was not having a medication deficiency, and if he hadn’t gone to Naturopathic doctor, what would have happened? Who knows? I mean much like many people who have given up on their life, really. I don’t want people to give up.
[00:45:27] Ashley James: If he had seen him an enlightened MD who had sent him to a pelvic floor physical therapist, which I have a really great episode all on that by a pelvic floor specialist. It’s so cool. It’s such an amazing therapy for those that need it like women. Most women pee when they laugh and that means they should go see a pelvic floor physical therapist. Men have this problem too, right? If men have problems urinating, have pain down there, or ejaculation issues, they should get examined by a pelvic floor physical therapist because there are so many muscles down there. Often, we’re doing Kegels wrong and putting it out of balance.
If he had gone to just that, he still would have had his other problems because you addressed the root cause which was the way he ate, how he manages stress, his emotional issues around food, and managing stress. You approached his life from an emotional standpoint and a physical standpoint and then supported the body’s ability to heal itself income into balance. That’s what we all want to do. I just tweaked my diet. I eat very clean and I just made a tweak to my diet in the last week and I’m waking up two hours earlier now. I’m like whoa, I have way energy. It’s just amazing how we can make these—I like how you said it. You said less is more. We can make these simple changes in our life and get these big results.
I want to learn more from you today. I want the listeners to learn more. What kind of small changes can equal the biggest results?
[00:47:13] Dr. Jannine Krause: Okay. We’ve already talked about breathing. The next one—it seems like a duh kind of component but it is really important and often gets passed off—is really making concrete habits around drinking water. It really does make a difference. You really do need at least half your body weight in ounces of water a day. Hands down. I’ve seen simple things change just with hydration. In particular, I see a lot of pain and I work a lot with chronic pain. Having someone better hydrated—let’s put it that way—can make an absolutely huge change in someone’s quality of life, but also in terms of gut function. In terms of overall function.
Another big thing is getting outside. I just interviewed, on my podcast, Ian Hart. He’s a great fella who has a book dedicated to connecting back to nature. He and I have a very big love for folks getting outside, smelling the roses, taking your shoes off and earthing. My dad, I grew up in the middle of Illinois. Super conservative area. I was the hippie child wanting to run around with my bare feet. I love it to this day, and I find a lot of people get great, great results with just calming their nervous system by taking your shoes off, getting outside, and just really feeling the ground again or just growing some plants, growing some herbs. Whether it’s cilantro or something. I don’t know why that one just came to my head. Oregano, mint grow in the Pacific Northwest like wildfire here, but these are things that they’re very simple that we just don’t think about.
Another big one is channeling your inner five-year-old. So much of what’s gone on with our life of adulting and having to be professional and having to change ourselves and not being true to who we truly are, it wreaks havoc on us. There are a lot of folks out there who are not in careers they want to be. There’s a lot of folks out there who are not in relationships, and they’re also not in a space of their being who they actually want to be. I have folks look at who they were that when they were five and what did they love to do and playing more during the day.
You had mentioned your five-year-old son. Just looking at kids and how they play, as adults, we’re too cool for that. I don’t know why we are. We need to go back to that and really honoring. You’re sitting there and you’re like ugh, my workdays grinding. I’m not really having fun. Okay, fine. Go outside. Who said you can’t go outside? Who said you can’t walk outdoors? Who said you can’t jump rope anymore? Who said you can’t use a hula-hoop? Whatever it is. It’s something that I think is absolutely huge and can make a world of difference. It also ties into my next thing that I work with on a lot of folks.
I put folks through nine movements in my office. It’s hinging over, it’s lunging, it’s squatting, it’s reaching forward, it’s reaching back, it’s turning left to right, and using those motions to see how good is your mobility. Because if you can’t really bend over well, chances are your rib cage is locked up. If you can’t reach overhead very well, chances are that’s a rib cage and a neck issue as well. And this box your ability to breathe, but it also blocks your ability to send proper signals from your nervous system to your brain and from your brain back down to your nervous system. All of this locked up in the body we have miscommunication.
Now, we’re contributing to that vagus nerve, which is our most important nerve of regulating the nervous system for those of you folks that are listening in. But it’s also the nerve that controls inflammation in the body. If it’s telling your body like you’re hunched over, your rib cages are all collapsed in, it doesn’t rotate left to right very well, you might not be pooping very well, you might not be breathing very well, you might have gas, you might have bloating, and it’s not SIBO. It’s just that your thoracic cage is not moving well. What happens is your body can’t control the inflammation in your intestines, in your gut, in your stomach. We have a lot of things related to this.
I really, really work on mobility in my office big time with folks. I put you through the movements and we figure out how we can get you to move as best as possible within your motions. And I see a lot of change with that simple mobility.
[00:51:54] Ashley James: If they didn’t even realize it. They’re doing mobility tests and all sudden you point out that their ribcage is jacked up. How do you fix it? Do you give them exercises? Do physical manipulation? Do you send them to a chiropractor?
[00:52:13] Dr. Jannine Krause: It depends on the situation. Most of the time, I am going to work on exercises because a chiropractor love chiropractic, not knocking on chiropractic at all or not even knocking on myself because with acupuncture, it’s something I’m doing to you. But we also have to have the homework because I’m doing acupuncture and telling your body okay, this is what you’re going to do, body. Here’s the plan. The body has to go along with it and be like okay, right. I’m going to come along. But we have to have the day in day out, and the exercises are what get the results. It’s not all the manipulations. It’s not all the acupuncture.
I believe it works, but I believe that it’s focusing on the right exercises and having someone keep you accountable, but also having someone watch and make sure you’re doing it right, which where PT can fall into place. But the problem and the limitation with PT—and this is because of insurance restrictions, I know from having so many good friends that are PTs—is that we work on the body segmentally. When I’m talking about exercises, I’m not just talking about your ribcage. I’m talking about what’s happening in your lumbar and spine, what’s happening in your pelvis, and what’s happening in your neck. Connecting it all together exercises not just ribcage exercises.
I believe that exercises are the way to go, and yes I do some manipulations. I do a lot of cupping. I do a lot of Gua Sha. I do a lot of PNF kind of stretches and myofascial release. I think myofascial is one of the most amazing things in the universe, and there are so many studies in Germany. If anyone’s listening to me and going myofascial, what the heck? It’s the wrapping around your muscles. If you imagine chicken. That wrapping that’s around chicken when you pull it out of the package, that is your myofascial tissue that can be stuck to your muscles but also stuck to your skin. And it has a lot of nerves in it and it can tell you where you are in space.
If it doesn’t know where you are, if your body doesn’t know where you are in space it’s going to send a message of pain. A lot of chronic pain and a lot of chronic trauma pain has to do with myofascial connections. There is a ton of research coming out of Germany. A doc with the last name Schleip. It’s great stuff. You can totally google myofascial Schleip and you’re going to come up with a ton of info on it. And I do a lot of myofascial work because I think that is, in addition to the exercises, some of the most bang for your buck to get results.
[00:54:41] Ashley James: How do you spell Schleip?
[00:54:43] Dr. Jannine Krause: S-C-H-L-E-I-P.
[00:54:46] Ashley James: Thank you. I had this really weird occurrence in my abdomen almost like a hernia. I actually got examined by a Naturopath and he wanted me to go see a surgeon. I had remembered that I was told by an old school Naturopath, been practicing for over 25 years, something like that. He said always go to a Bowen practitioner for hernia. I went to her three sessions it took for this so-called hernia to go away. And she said it actually wasn’t hernia. It’s very common after women give birth that the abdomen splits open. I forget the technical name for it. You’re going to say it and I’ll remember it.
[00:55:36] Dr. Jannine Krause: Diastasis or diastasis recti.
[00:55:38] Ashley James: Diastasis recti, that’s right. The abdomen splits open, and she did really neat things. A lot of free range of motion. She would do a range of motion and then she would touch my clavicle and then she would say okay, lie here for 15 minutes I’ll be back. Then she’d come back, do a free range of motion, and then she would touch my shoulder. Then she would have me rest. The whole time I’m thinking this is a complete rip-off. She’s not touching my abdomen. This doesn’t hurt, it’s supposed to hurt. She’s working on the fascia, it’s supposed to be painful. She’s barely touching me. I stood up and I felt two feet taller and I couldn’t believe it.
I bought a package of four sessions. I didn’t even need the fourth session. It was done, it was corrected. My husband who had had a chronic shoulder injury that would keep coming back for 20 years, got on the table. By worked on him I mean like she would vaguely touch an area then say okay, lie here for 15 minutes then come back and just gently touch another area after doing a range of motion. Again, we feel like she’s like a witch doctor. She said she was just helping the body release the stuck fascia and his chronic shoulder pain for 20 years just disappeared. It was amazing. It was so cool. He walked out of there having a full range of motion of his shoulder and he just couldn’t believe it. Really, really neat. It’s so cool.
If I’d gone down the route of what the doctor first told me to do, I would have gone to a surgical consult. I would have gone down that road and I might have had some surgery to put some mesh in my abdomen whereas go see a Bowen practitioner. We have to know when to go to what practitioner. You’re looking at the body using physical medicine while you’re also looking at the person as a whole and their life as a whole. You had mentioned also drinking half your body weight in ounces, and for those who are on kilograms, you take your kilograms and times it by 2.2 and then drink that many ounces a day.
[00:57:57] Dr. Jannine Krause: Yes. We got to cover the Canadian folks and all of the European folks. I’m not as good at my metric system at all. I apologize.
[00:58:05] Ashley James: No, it’s fine. Maybe about 10% of our listeners are around the world and so just for those who are like I don’t know how many pounds I weigh. Basically, drink a lot of water all day long as much as you can, right?
[00:58:18] Dr. Jannine Krause: Absolutely, water. And sometimes I’ll also say if you got some really good high-quality sea salt hanging out, throw a couple of grains in there. I like throwing berries in my fruit versus the citrus because I do think it can have a negative effect on the enamel if you do it too much. But having a little bit of raspberry, a little bit of blackberry, whatever berries in season. Or even apple kind of tastes yummy in there. I like to throw a little piece of fruit, a couple of grains of sea salt and now you’ve got like natural Gatorade if you will or a natural electrolyte drink because it helps.
A lot of us, we’re burning through stuff during the day and maybe we feel dizzy, which is a super common symptom that a lot of people who are stressed out will feel. Sometimes, it’s just you need a little bit of electrolytes because unfortunately, the stress that you’re putting on your body is making your body think you’re running a marathon. What do folks need when they’re running marathons? Electrolytes. Sometimes it’s just you drink your water and throw a little bit of electrolyte trick in there and see how it goes. It sometimes can be a game-changer.
[00:59:23] Ashley James: Coconut water is great for that as well. A lot of headaches, nausea, and dizziness lately because people are wearing masks and definitely wearing masks incorrectly, but medical masks—the disposable kind—should only be worn for 20 minutes and they need to be thrown out. People are keeping them for weeks and weeks. I’m frustrated because I almost fainted in Whole Foods a few weeks ago. I was wearing a medical mask. They hand it out to you at the door, so it was a new one. I’m standing in line. I’ve been in there maybe 15 minutes and all of a sudden I started blacking out. I couldn’t see. I couldn’t hear. I’m getting dizzy. I’m falling over. I was so terrified. My heart was pounding and it took me hours to recover. I was exhausted afterward. The rest of the day was shot. I felt so sick.
I came home and I’m thinking what’s wrong, what’s wrong? And then I read an article about hypoxia where you’re breathing in your own CO2. You’re breathing it in the mask, and these are the mask they’re handing out at the door. I’m not exerting myself. I’m just walking around a grocery store. I spoke to a gentleman at a grocery store who was helping me find something last week, and he was wearing a mask. I asked him, “Have you noticed that you or your co-workers are experiencing headaches?” And he says, “Yes. We all have chronic headaches now.” And he said, “I actually blacked out a few weeks ago.” I told him about hypoxia, but it’s very concerning especially for our state—Washington state. Our governor has now mandated that everyone wear masks in public.
I went to Amazon and googled breathable masks and I found one that’s meant for hunting. It has lots of little holes in it and it’s very breathable. I’m very afraid for people especially children because they’re putting masks on children. If I, as a healthy adult, in 15 to 20 minutes of wearing a medical mask can get hypoxia, imagine what these children—they’re going to get brain damage basically from low oxygen. Especially since now they’re talking about children wearing masks eight hours a day or six to eight hours a day when in school and when in school buses. It’s very scary and they need to know, people need to know that if you start developing headaches—you talked about breathing is so important. And lack of oxygen from not breathing correctly can lead to all these problems. What about wearing a mask? Have you seen, in your practice, people have any negative problems with masks and how do you handle it?
[01:02:12] Dr. Jannine Krause: Oh my goodness, yes. This has kind of put a wrench in some of my breathing techniques with folks that have gone back to work because obviously, they have to have the mask on. But yes, I cringed about Inslee’s comments of us having to have them on no matter what because not only am I seeing hypoxia issues, I’m also seeing a lot of sinus issues and allergy issues increasing. Because unfortunately, a lot of folks in Washington or probably in a lot of states where it rains a little bit more, we’ve got a lot of folks that have mold already in their sinuses.
We add the mask to the mix and now we’re going to have folks that are recirculating what they’re breathing, and if they’re breathing out some methane or if we’re looking at it in terms of methane or hydrogen that’s coming from bugs that are in their gut, now we’re recirculating that back through up through the nose and through the sinuses. And it makes me wonder, what are we doing to our microbiome of our sinuses and our digestive systems by recirculating air too? Not only the hypoxia component, I’m also thinking like what are we doing? Is there going to be an uptick of folks with a lot more of allergies and issues of that nature?
In my office, we’ve been doing sinus needling and we’ve been doing a lot more of reinforcing when you’re at home, that’s when you’re doing your deep breathing. As much as you possibly can, getting outside in your backyard and really trying to make a conscious effort to get the masks off more often than not. And when folks are going back to work, I’m going all right, try to take time before you go to work out in your backyard. Just breathe a little bit without that mask, and when you get home, that’s like you’re unwinding as I mentioned earlier. Taking the time to unwind in your backyard and get some fresh air that’s not recirculated before you go back inside. Because now, on top of it, one in every two homes has mold issues in Washington State.
We’ve got folks being in homes more and more mold exposure there, then you’re breathing stuff. This is a problem we’re going to have. Honestly, you’re absolutely right. We’re going to have respiratory issues that are going to compound by a lot. It’s not a good thing. It’s not a good thing at all. I’ve started to have people use essential oils in masks to help with at least opening up vasodilating and opening up the respiratory areas. I’ve been using a combination of grapefruit and eucalyptus for some people. The doTERRA Breathe works, thieves works, or anything that’s going to help to open up the sinuses—thyme, tea tree—great stuff.
[01:04:57] Ashley James: My favorite is Olbas. Have you heard of it?
[01:05:02] Dr. Jannine Krause: No. What is this?
[01:05:03] Ashley James: It’s my favorite. You can get it at pretty much every health food store, Whole Foods, wherever they sell a bunch of supplements, but I’ve been using it since the 90s. It’s been around for a long time. It’s a synergy of essential oils for breathing, the sinuses, and the lungs. I had this wicked, wicked science infection when I was a teenager. I went to the crunchy hippie, you know that smell? There are no health food stores anymore. Do you know the old school health food stores? Because I grew up in them. My mom had me on soy milk. We were dairy-free. I’ve been seeing a Naturopath since I was six years old. My mom would take me in. I was never allowed to have chocolate, but I’d get a carob or there would be this Rice Dream was the ice cream that I could have. Or they even have this frozen banana with carob coating on it or something or they would give you a little honey stick.
I remember walking in and I would smell all the herbs combined. I just loved being there. I get if I could ever smell that smell going into the old apothecary, it just brings me right back. I love crunchy hippie health food stores. Anyways, if you go into any of those, you’ll find Olbas. They now have a bunch of different things. Just get the essential oil, just get the actual drops, not anything with a carrier. I like putting three drops in a big bowl of steaming hot water, then you put a towel over your head, you lean over and make like a tent, and breathe in the vapors. Oh, it’s so great. It opens up all the sinuses. That’s my favorite synergy for essential oils for breathing.
[01:06:46] Dr. Jannine Krause: Absolutely, yeah. I’m looking at it right now. It’s got peppermint, eucalyptus—I do not know how to say that word—cajeput. Don’t know that one. Wintergreen, juniper, clove, all amazing stuff. What you just described, a steam inhalation, would be a great therapy. In fact, I just talked to somebody the other day about bringing back the steam inhalation therapy—as a breathing treatment—to help open those sinuses.
[01:07:11] Ashley James: And then I love doing colloidal silver nasal spray. Colloidal silver is really good for helping prevent viruses from taking hold. Can you tell us a bit about that?
[01:07:21] Dr. Jannine Krause: Oh, yeah. I love any type of nanosilver products because what they’re doing is they’re a great scrubber of your gut lining too. So when taken internally in the gut, they are much like the effects that you’ll see with n-acetylcysteine. They just scrub the lining. So not only do they kind of cleanse out anything that’s non-beneficial, they do the same when you do the spray in the nose, the throat. It’s just kind of wipes stuff out.
I like to use colloidal. I like to use them combined with dead sea salt. I have a thing for the two of them because I like the combination because the spray will just cleanse things and wipe out when you see it wiped out, and then the salt kind of regulates. It’s like the regulator in there. I like using both of them together and neti pots. I don’t use the silver in the neti pot, just to be clear, but I do use sea salt too in neti pots and then follow with a spray because I think it’s a great way to even things out a little bit. I think that could definitely be something that folks could add to their regimen. It kind of helps the headaches, help with preventing hypoxia, but also the side effects of having these masks on for so long.
[01:08:39] Ashley James: I wish people would not have the mask on their nose and just breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth. I mean what they’re trying to have everyone do is prevent the droplets from coming out of your mouth, but if you breathe in through your nose you’re getting fresh air and then you’re breathing out the mask is no problem. I’ve seen a lot of angry people. Put your mask back on. Anyway. We’ll get through it, we’ll get through it. I want everyone to know that if they start having headaches or feel dizzy then that’s a sign that they’re oxygen-deprived and we’ve got to focus on the breathing. As you mentioned how important breathing is to staying alive and staying healthy.
[01:09:30] Dr. Jannine Krause: Absolutely.
[01:09:33] Ashley James: Let’s see. We’ve talked about—oh, mold. Let’s go back to mold for a sec. How could someone identify that mold is in their house? I’ve had a few actually really good episodes on mold. Listeners can go to learntruehealth.com and type mold in. I have two episodes on natural mold mitigation, and it’s quite interesting, by a company called Green Home Solutions. I think they might have a branch in your area, but they use an enzyme. It’s a patented enzyme that actually digests mold, so not only does it kill it but it breaks it down so that it becomes inert and doesn’t harm you anymore. Because if you just bleach mold, it still is harmful to the body. The mold is dead, but it still releases the spores which harm us. So we have to be careful with how we treat mold. Maybe talk about how do we know we have mold? What are the physical symptoms that there’s mold in the houses that are harming us?
[01:10:26] Dr. Jannine Krause: One of the big things that folks will notice is they’ll start to have more sinus issues. I mean headaches and sinus issues are usually the number one. Chronic fatigue like starting to really be exhausted. Sometimes a cough can also be a big sign that something’s not right. I’ve even had people with wheezing and they’re like I never wheezed before and now I have asthma and then we’re like hmm, yeah, that seems odd. Asthma kind of symptoms. Things of that nature can definitely be a big sign that something is not right. Ways to actually test it, there’s a couple of different ways.
You can run through regular labs IgE, which is an immediate sensitivity reaction, just to see if you’ve been exposed more or less. And sometimes it shows up, sometimes it doesn’t. It’s not a foolproof plan but because it goes through insurance, I like to test it just to see what we get. Just drag on that and see what happens. If we’re really serious about going okay, we know someone has mold. We’ve seen it in the home. If we absolutely have seen the mold in the home and oftentimes what happens and I encourage everybody to check this out.
Look at your mattresses, look behind your bed. That seems to be the hidden area for a lot of molds to hang out for some reason. Most of the time, what I find is that because the bed sometimes always ends up against the wall that is connected to a bathroom if you have a master suite kind of thing going on. But taking a look at that and then taking a look in your closet. If you can, if you have carpet, peel up the carpet in your closet see what’s going on in there because I have seen some issues there for folks. Around the windows we all kind of know but still taking looks there. If you do have smoke going on, it’s possible that you could have it in your body as well.
A really great test is a test by—I can’t remember—I think they might be Genova. For some reason, my mind just went blank on me but MycoTOX is the name of the tests. Either them or Great Plains. I can’t remember. Anyway, don’t quote me on that one folks because I am losing train of thought at the moment on that. But it’s called MycoTOX. You can Google that and it’ll come up what the brand is. That test can tell you what toxins you have in your body that are being produced by mold. You can basically take it and look back at okay it’s this particular mold based on the toxins that are produced, and that’s one of my best ways about going about it if nothing comes up from the immediate sensitivity reactions.
You can’t get testing for mold through Alcat, which is Cell Science Systems. They also will do a delayed sensitivity mold test for you to see if there’s anything that pops up on that end. And then, like you said, Green Home Solutions. There are also some DIY mold tests that you can pick up on Amazon, through Home Depot, or Lowes and just get you a really good sense of what’s going on in your home because I do think that it is something to not overlook for sure.
[01:13:30] Ashley James: Absolutely. It’s so crucial. Going down your checklist, what else is really important? We’ve got the breathing as the number one. Drinking enough water. Obviously, eating a healthy diet and stress management. What are the impactful tweaks that are just small tweaks that make the biggest difference?
[01:14:00] Dr. Jannine Krause: We talked about mobility but another big one that I think can make a huge difference is looking at your mineral status. So many of us are deficient in magnesium and selenium. Molybdenum could be also an issue. I think looking at where your minerals are at can give you a really good sense of how is the body working on a baseline level, and do you need some foods that are either rich in those minerals or do we need to maybe have a little bit of some mineral supplementation for a little bit, retest, and see how things are going. I would say, probably 80%-90% of the patients that I have tested for magnesium deficiency came positive with magnesium deficiency. Vitamin D deficiency is another big one. I’m saying minerals, I would also say looking at some of the crucial vitamins too—vitamin C, vitamin D, and vitamin E, in particular, is a biggie.
Genova has a test called NutrEval, and they have one now that you can do at home, Metabolomix I believe is how you say that one. And it looks for these things and tells us how are the mitochondria functioning. Because this is a nice little tweak that while not pro here’s your suitcase of supplements, I do think that tweaking what we might have some deficiencies in is key for helping ward off or manage what’s going on in our body at any given time. That would be something else that I would be really taking a look at.
My other big thingy is looking at heart rate and heart rate variability, which can be tweaks that if you have a wearable that tells you where your heart rates out like a Fitbit or Apple Watch, you can see the actual reaction that your body has to stress and how high your heart rate goes up, but you can also attenuate it meaning breathing down your heart rate. But you can also use your heart rate variability to tell about workouts and if you’re pushing yourself too hard.
In my practice, I do see a little bit more athletes and one of the big things is overtraining. The everyday exerciser might be overtraining themselves and burning themselves out and not know it. Paying attention to heart rate and how your heart rate changes over time can be a really big deal, plus paying attention to make sure that you are not redlining your heart rate with every single exercise because that’s at the point in which your exercising is not benefiting you. It’s actually pushing your cortisol levels up and you’re wondering like I’m working out so hard, why do I keep gaining weight, doc? Why do I keep being more tired? Because you’re redlining every single workout.
That’s another big tweak is looking at your heart rate and breathing down your heart rate and keeping it at certain levels at certain times. Part of it’s called conditioning training and that’s one of my specialties here in the office as we work with heart rate variability and keeping people exercising, even though they might be fatigued and getting them watching their heart rate so that they don’t overdo it. Because most of the time, the reason we can’t exercise and feel so tired is because we jump into a workout right off the bat and wear ourselves out too quickly.
[01:17:25] Ashley James: What kind of tweaks make the biggest difference to someone’s diet?
[01:17:32] Dr. Jannine Krause: Fiber. Fiber foods. We have the whole should you eat Keto, should you eat paleo, should you eat this, or should you eat that? Really, I tell people you should eat your vegetables. It’s probably not the most popular answer that people want to hear because I know that a lot of people want to hear intermittent fasting. They want to hear this diet, that diet is the best way to go. And honestly, if I’ve looked over my 13 years of practice, what gets me the best results in lowering cholesterol, what gets me the best results in mineral status and just overall health and gut function, it’s eating your veggies.
Of course, folks might argue, well I can’t tolerate this veggie. I can’t tolerate that one. Okay. So the other big game-changer tweak would be to cook your veggies, and I’m not talking nursing home style. Blanch them, sauté them lightly. Just something so that they’re a little predigested for you. If we’re talking about things that have lectins, then I’m going to say put them in the Instapot or pressure cook them so you can destroy the lectins, but veggies. I’m not saying be vegan. If you want to do that, great, but really five-plus cups a day, venture on the border of six to eight a day and you’re going to see some change in yourself—a lot of change.
[01:18:51] Ashley James: It is so true. Get in those vegetables. You had mentioned earlier about increasing circulation and increasing nitric oxide. I had Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn on the show, who is a cardiologist that heals heart disease naturally. I mean four clogs in the heart totally reversed with vegetables, basically. But he says drizzle your steamed vegetables with balsamic. That balsamic increases nitric oxide, which opens up the cardiovascular system, and it’s very healing for the endothelial lining of the cardiovascular system.
He has people eat zero oil because oil is proinflammatory to the lining of the cardiovascular system, and he has them eating something like six servings a day, so six bowls, basically. Six times a day eating a big bowl of steamed greens with a bunch of balsamic on it, and it tastes amazing. I didn’t like balsamic, but I started experimenting and there’s so many different balsamic out there. I had this one that’s fig and maple, oh my gosh. It’s like eating candy. It tastes so good. The Kirkland brand at Costco, that’s a good one. I like it. But there are so many different balsamic out there. If think you don’t like balsamic, I would just explore the different balsamic because there are many different ones out there. And it’s so good for you. That and beets, right? Beets help the body with nitric oxide, so they’re also great.
Any superfoods like saying have some beets every day? Any superfoods that are very healing for the body that people might not know about?
[01:20:37] Dr. Jannine Krause: I don’t know if there would be not that they know about but maybe not that they knew what they had in them. Celery has nitric oxide boosting abilities. Arugula also does. My favorite most bang for your buck veggies are microgreens because they have a ton, just packed with vitamin A, vitamin C, and a lot of folates in there because they’re like the little babies that have to grow up and get all that nutrients to a big plant, and why not eat them when they’re nice and densely packed full of nutrients. Microgreens are like my game changer solution for a lot of folks.
I said arugula, spinach, as long as you don’t have a histamine issue or anything going on with oxalates and kidney stones you could be good with the spinach because that’s also in nitric booster. Five ounces of spinach boost your nitric oxide. Beets, like you had mentioned too, I can’t say enough about beets. If you don’t like them, play with trying to figure out a way that you might find them delicious. They’re not what you might have imagined. At least in my age range, I used to think that beets are just like the canned, gross, and slimy things. It’s not all like that. There’s so much more to them.
And then I’m a big fan of sprouted seeds like sunflower seeds because of the progesterone boosting component for ladies in particular. I love just thinking about sprouted any type of like even pumpkin seeds. It’s got a good estrogenic effect. You can use it for balancing hormones. Those are my favorite go-to superfoods that I will typically use. Actually, one of my most favorite ones most recently, as long as you don’t have issues with the garlic family, is the black garlic. So delicious and so great for adding flavor, but also has a lot of the same properties that garlic has but without all of the pungence and the breath effect. I mean if you eat a lot of it.
[01:22:43] Ashley James: Awesome. Cool. What homework do you want to give us? Do you have any homework that you’d love to assign us that we can apply to our life today and start seeing a difference?
[01:22:53] Dr. Jannine Krause: Absolutely. I would give three things and you can choose whether to do all three or you can choose to pick one. If I had to like put all of my little tweaks that give you the most bang for your buck in order of what I see affecting folks the most that I’m going to give them to you. Number one is breathing, but breathing fresh air. If you can get outside—and granted I know that there are smug and things of that nature, but sometimes, just getting out of your home, you actually might have more beneficial air for you. If you can get out by the trees and in a little bit of natural fresh air, so much better. Bonus point to that, take your shoes off and really get back in touch with feeling nature and experiencing nature.
Then my next thing from there would definitely be going on the lines of working on finding out about your pain in terms of where does it feel stuck? Where do you feel like things aren’t moving well in your body, and either finding someone to help you with a little myofascial release, or even just starting with yourself and doing gentle massage to that area. Now, I am saying this and going I didn’t say anything about lymphatic drainage or lymphatic work, but that would be another thing for another day. But I do support it in terms of helping move your tissue.
So get outside, breathe some fresh air, and while you’re outside breathing some fresh air, see where there’s something stuck in your body and give it a little love. Give it a little gentle massage. And while you’re breathing, hold on to that spot and try to imagine taking what’s stuck in that spot and pushing it out through your feet. And that’ll give you a little technique to manage stress, get some good air in, but also work on some stuck stuff in the body so we can improve circulation over time.
[01:24:52] Ashley James: Do you have any studies that you can cite where they have proven that visualization has a physiological effect on the body?
[01:25:04] Dr. Jannine Krause: You know what, yes. In terms of the detailed ones, I might have to give you some details after we’re off the call because I don’t think I’ll be able to pull up right at the moment. But Dr. Joe Dispenza, everyone’s familiar with him. He’s done a lot of work on visualization and change in terms of results that happen as a thought of visualization. It’s not 100% related to pain, but in some cases it is. We also have a lot of data on Qi Gong. A specific style of breathing-related visualizing while doing Qi Gong, that can help with change as well. I would probably say, and I’m quickly trying to put it in my computer really quickly here if I could find something briefly that would help you, so I don’t waste anybody’s time. We could probably give you some data afterward if you’re cool with that.
[01:26:06] Ashley James: Yeah. I could totally put the studies in the show notes. Off the top of your head, do you remember the results from reading any studies where they found that visualization actually opened up blood flow, for example?
[01:26:25] Dr. Jannine Krause: One of the studies that I’ve reviewed here is the Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine Journal article back from 2018. They were assessing acute physiological and psychological effects of Qi Gong in older practitioners. And what they found is that the heart rate variability, so the amount that the heart rate could be controlled over time improved. Because as I had mentioned before in the interview, heart rate variability is something that can tell us if we’re tapping into our parasympathetic rest, digest, and chill state. If we’re not getting into that state, our heart rate variability increases. How do we get our heart rate variability to keep it in check and manage it? We have to have proper circulation.
This study was really awesome in that it looked at the correlation between the amount of times that someone was doing Qi Gong and their overall effect on heart rate variability. These folks were able to keep their heart rate in check much better by performing daily Qi Gong. We’ll have the link to this article so that you can see that Qi Gong does work. It’s not so woo-woo, and we’ve got some great data behind it. And why one of the things that I recommend for folks day in day out for helping with chronic pain and stress management.
[01:27:55] Ashley James: Awesome. It’s been such a pleasure having you on the show today. Can you tell us how we can work with you?
[01:28:04] Dr. Jannine Krause: Sure. I am in Tacoma, Washington, so if anyone is local, you can come see me in person. I also offer programs online where we can do one-on-one coaching training, and I look at your labs. We go through all of that stuff to give you a great plan that helps address all of the issues that you’re dealing with. You can also find me on my podcast The Health Fix Podcast. That one is on every single area where you would find normal podcasts, and then my website is doctorjkrausend.com. You can find me over there, and I’ve got all kinds of info in terms of resources, blogs, and past podcasts. That’s a great way to get ahold of me. If you’re wanting to see my personality and a little bit more on me, you could head over to Instagram @drjanninekrause and you’ll find all kinds of fun stuff over there as well.
[01:29:01] Ashley James: Awesome. Thank you so much for coming on the show. You’re welcome back anytime. Always love to have a Naturopath on the show. Any last words of encouragement for those who are on the path to supporting their body’s ability to heal itself?
[01:29:18] Dr. Jannine Krause: Absolutely. Keep in mind that you have everything in you right now that you need to heal you. You just have to tap into it and work consistently. What happened to you didn’t happen overnight so it’s going to take some time to undo what’s happened, but you have everything there. It’s just a matter of practicing and working a little bit at it, and you can do it. You’ve got the tools right there. Just tap into them. Get an advisor, get a mentor, or somebody to help you with accountability such as Ashley or myself, and find someone who’s a really good fit for you and get that work done. You can do this.
[01:30:03] Ashley James: Awesome. Thank you so much.
[01:30:05] Dr. Jannine Krause: You’re welcome. Thank you.
[01:30:07] Ashley James: I hope you enjoyed today’s episode of the Learn True Health podcast. You can go to learntruehealth.com and check out all of the wonderful resources there. We transcribe all of our interviews, so you can scan through and read interviews. We have some really great free goodies on the site as well. If you have a friend, family member, or yourself suffer from anxiety, I have a wonderful course where you learn tools on how to eliminate anxiety. How to turn off the anxiety response in the body, how to decrease stress, and increase health mentally, emotionally, and physically.
So go to learntruehealth.com, search through the menu. You’ll see there are many resources on the site available to you there. Thank you so much for being a listener, and thank you so much for sharing this podcast with those you care about. Let’s help turn this little ripple into a tidal wave and help as many people as possible to learn true health.
Joy From Fear by Dr. Carla Marie Manly
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IT'S HERE! Learntruehealth.com/homekitchen
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Some people have illnesses that they don’t know about until it has progressed to the late stages. In this episode, Eric Adams shares his story of how he got diagnosed with advanced stage type 2 diabetes and how his diabetes went in remission by changing his diet and lifestyle. His inspiring story shows that we can still turn our life around by making healthy choices.
Hello, true health seeker and welcome to another exciting episode of the Learn True Health podcast. You’re going to love today’s interview. Please share it with all of your friends and family members who have diabetes—type 2 diabetes, prediabetes, or they’re worried about getting diabetes or their blood sugar. This is going to definitely help them.
If you’re looking to learn how to cook and eat the way that this man did to reverse his diabetes and heal all of his health issues, please go to learntruehealth.com/homekitchen. That’s learntruehealth.com/homekitchen. My dear friend Naomi and I have created a wonderful course. We teach you how to cook whole food plant-based so the whole family will enjoy these dishes, and that you can use your kitchen, use your fridge, use your stove, and use the food that you eat every day to heal your body. Go to learntruehealth.com/homekitchen.
Please also join our Facebook group. We have a wonderful Facebook community. You can go to learntruehealth.com/group or just search Learn True Health on Facebook. Come join our very supportive and wonderful Facebook community.
If you’re looking for supplements, especially our wonderful mineral supplements, please go to takeyoursupplements.com. Fill out the form and a health coach, who has been trained by Naturopathic physicians, will reach out to you and help you get on the right supplements for you, especially the mineral supplements, which are so amazing for helping to restore the body especially when we’ve had problems with blood sugar issues. These supplements helped me along with a diet of very healthy foods, helped me to reverse my type-2 diabetes several years ago, and led me down the path of wanting to become a health coach and helping others do the same.
For learning about the foods that you can use to heal your body and how to cook that way so that the food is delicious and healing, go to learntruehealth.com/homekitchen. For the Facebook group, search Learn True Health on Facebook. And for the supplements that I recommend that I’ve been working with since 2011 with all my clients the supplements, the supplements that are designed by Naturopathic physicians to support optimal health, go to takeyoursupplements.com.
Excellent. Thank you so much for being a listener. Thank you so much for sharing this podcast with those you love. Enjoy today’s interview. It’s such an inspiring one. I’m so happy that you’re here to listen to it.
[00:02:36] Ashley James: Welcome to the Learn True Health podcast. I’m your host, Ashley James. This is episode 437. I am so excited to have on the show today a man who has such a wonderful history in helping the American population and helping the people of Brooklyn and also healing his own diabetes. I love your story, really excited to have you on the show today, Eric Adams. It’s such a pleasure to have you here. Now you’re president of Brooklyn. I’m originally from Canada so I don’t exactly understand all of the politics of the states. Although I live here now and I love living in America. Maybe you can just tell me what does it mean to be the president of Brooklyn.
[00:03:28] Eric Adams: That’s a great question. I don’t know if our founding fathers of the borough understood the complexity that they were going to create in history over this, but it would be equivalent to what many municipalities will call the county executive.
[00:03:48] Ashley James: Okay, got it.
[00:03:49] Eric Adams: Brooklyn is one of the counties in New York City. We have five counties and Brooklyn is the largest of the five counties. I am the president or county executive of Brooklyn, New York.
[00:04:06] Ashley James: It’s kind of like being the mayor of Brooklyn?
[00:04:09] Eric Adams: Exactly, exactly. You have to make sure all of our agencies are providing the necessary services for the residents as well as we put a large amount of money into various capital projects. It’s a very easy way for the people of the borough to be able to reach out to their borough-wide elected [inaudible 00:04:34] because New York is a very complicated place to govern, and this is a good way to do it.
[00:04:41] Ashley James: Absolutely. I love your history. I’m going to have the link to your bio in the show notes of today’s podcast at learntruehealth.com because the work that you’ve done through the years has been wonderful. You were a policeman in New York City. You helped co-found 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care—work that you’ve done in the past is really helping to pave the way for so many people. You also worked in the New York State Senate.
Tell us a bit about your struggle with diabetes, though. When you look at your bio, you’re so busy. I’m sure many people who develop diabetes they’re so busy. I also had type 2 diabetes, so I know. I just didn’t take care of myself. I was so busy doing other things and all of a sudden I broke—my body broke. Tell us about your struggle with type 2 diabetes.
[00:05:37] Eric Adams: That’s a great point that you raised. I remember when I was told that I was type 2 diabetic, I remember my son saying to me, “Dad, you used to drive from service station to service station to get the best gas and oil to put in your car. You didn’t put the best food in your body?” That is our narrative. We pay more attention to the things in life—our jobs, our careers, our house, what color of paint in our rooms, and the type of clothing we wear. That which we have the most control over we really ignore for some reason and we turn it over to someone else to make a determination.
That’s what happened to me four years ago when after years of just abusing my body, I was receiving pain in my stomach, discomfort. I knew it wasn’t gas. It was just really sitting still. I was out of the country and when I came back to New York, I went to my internist and told him about it. He sent me to have my stomach and my colon checked. At the time, when I came out of sedation, I was also experiencing a severe vision loss in my left eye, my right was also going as well, and tingling in my hands and feet. I learned later that I was at the late stages of diabetes, advanced stages of diabetes. It caused the vision loss and it caused the nerve damage in my hands and feet. I couldn’t even feel my right thigh.
[00:07:27] Ashley James: Oh my gosh.
[00:07:28] Eric Adams: It was only after that diagnosis that it just started me on a journey to figure this whole thing out.
[00:07:38] Ashley James: Did they have you on Metformin, insulin, or both?
[00:07:42] Eric Adams: It’s amazing that we all know the names.
[00:07:46] Ashley James: It’s kind of scary, isn’t it?
[00:07:49] Eric Adams: The doctor immediately told me he had to put me on insulin right away. He told me that I had to take two other medicines as well. I was given three medicines for my diabetes when I left the doctor’s office. I was given medicine for my vision loss, medicine for my ulcer—that was the original discomfort that I felt, medicine for my high blood pressure and cholesterol. I was just given so much medicine. I went in there with no medicine, I left out with a stack of medicines that I was going to have to take the rest of my life.
He gave me a booklet, which was so significant that said living with diabetes. It gave me instructions on what to do, how to live with diabetes. I did something, I joke about this scientific. I went to Google and google reversing diabetes. That started me on a journey that I never looked at.
[00:08:54] Ashley James: Why didn’t you believe the doctor when the doctor said you had to have diabetes for the rest of your life and you had to be on this medication for the rest of your life? What kind of hubris did you have to go against the doctor to think that you could reverse diabetes?
[00:09:10] Eric Adams: That’s a great question. I think that there is something inside us that speaks to us but we ignore it too often because of the distractions in our lives. If we take a moment to sit down and allow our soul and spirit to speak to us, I think we’ll find more answers than we think because I could have easily typed living with diabetes, but that one word of living I reversed to reversing and it took me down a different road.
[00:09:45] Ashley James: Yes. I love it. I love it. When you think back, how long do you think you actually had type 2 diabetes undiagnosed? Can you look back and see the signs that you had diabetes for a long time and there’s a lot of signs that you ignored?
[00:10:05] Eric Adams: That’s a great question because the numbers are clear that there’s a substantial number of New Yorkers and Americans who go undiagnosed. It is quite possible because I was really at the last, the extreme advanced stages. When you reach the point of vision loss, nerve damage in all those other areas, I was at the advanced stages. I was probably diabetic for a good while. I would say three years probably. My body was just addressing it and fighting it. When you start getting those symptoms that means your body can no longer manage the high level of insulin resistance and it starts breaking down on you.
[00:10:58] Ashley James: You’re a very intelligent man. Looking at your bio, you’ve always been someone who takes action. You went home that day with a bag full of pills. With the news that your doctor says you’ll always have this condition, you have to manage the condition, and you have to live with the condition. That voice inside you said reverse instead of live with. What happened next? You’re googling, you’re starting to read, what happened next?
[00:11:32] Eric Adams: I’m just blown away when I started reading Dr. Esselstyn, Dr. Greger, Dr. Bonner, and other research. I’m like is this for real? Did I stumble on the National Enquirer or something and somebody’s going to tell me they found mineral on Mars. It’s just so bizarre. People don’t realize how bizarre it is to have your foundational understanding of a particular item shattered. That’s what I was going through. I was all of a sudden being faced with the foundation of understanding of life. The concept of disease reversal does not exist in our thought process in America.
It is basically you get to a certain age, you’re going to get this. Because there was a moment in the doctor’s office that when he said it I said, “Well, you knew it was coming. Your mother’s diabetic, your uncles, and others.” We in the black community we use the term that she has a little sugar. We sweeten what diabetes is. In reality, there was a brief moment that I said, “Well, you knew it was coming.” It wasn’t until he said, “You know what, you’re going to lose your vision.” I was like wait a minute, I didn’t sign up for this.
That became a motivator to find the truth. I just didn’t want to be in prison for the rest of my life with knowing I have to make sure I carried my insulin, make sure I carried my pills, and live through and benchmark my life through did you take your insulin shots before your meals. That’s not the life I wanted to live. I said, “I’m going to do whatever I could possibly do to turn that around.” I wasn’t a doctor, but I was a former cop so I knew how to do investigations, and darn it, I knew how to read. I was going to use those two assets to help me find some type of answers to the question. I was not going to be blamed for not trying.
[00:13:55] Ashley James: You start reading these doctors that layout how to reverse type 2 diabetes. Those have type 1, it’s a totally different disease. The body doesn’t produce enough insulin for type 1 so they are insulin-dependent, but according to these doctors, even type 1 diabetic can significantly improve their insulin sensitivity using this diet, this healing diet, so that their body requires less injected insulin. Type 1 diabetics who follow this protocol have seen great results and type 2 diabetics have reversed their diabetes under this way of eating that these doctors have laid out.
You start to see that these doctors are saying that you can reverse type 2 diabetes. Do you start the next day? Walk us through how long does it take for you to start eating the way they tell you to eat?
[00:14:49] Eric Adams: I called Dr. Esselstyn and told him who I was and asked if could I see him. He said, “Yes, I’m in Ohio. If you can make it down to see me I would love to.” I flew to Ohio about a week later and met with him. I was extremely excited. I remember him telling me that if I eat certain foods and do certain things that I can actually reverse my diabetes. I remember laughing and saying this guy is some type of nut. I’m going blind he’s telling me to stop eating steak. What kind of madness is this?
When I returned to the city, I started looking through my cupboard, my cabinets, and my pantry and I realized that all the food was processed. It was high in salt, high in sugar, and high in fat and oils. I was like wow. I said I have nothing to lose. After coming back to New York, I immediately turned to a whole food plant-based diet. Within three weeks my vision returned. Within three months my nerve damage went away, my diabetes went in remission, my cholesterol normalized, and my blood pressure normalized. The reason I went to the doctor in the first place, that ulcer, that ulcer went away.
[00:16:26] Ashley James: Was the last thing to go the ulcer? When did they also go away? How quickly did it go away?
[00:16:34] Eric Adams: That’s a great question because I don’t know when it went away because all of a sudden, one day, I said whatever happened to that ulcer? I don’t know if it was in three weeks, I don’t know if it was in a week, but I just remembered that just one day I just said hey, whatever happened to that ulcer?
[00:16:57] Ashley James: Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, and I’ve had him on the show before. I love my interview with him. He’s a cardiologist who published the world’s longest study on reversing heart disease using diet. His book is How to Reverse and Prevent Heart Disease. It’s a fantastic book. I definitely encourage listeners to listen to my interview with him. There’s a direct correlation between heart disease and diabetes. Those who have diabetes, and I don’t remember the exact statistic but it’s a statistic that will scare you, are most likely to die of heart disease. That diabetes causes heart disease.
Maybe the diet that causes diabetes is also the same diet that causes heart disease, but they see that those who have diabetes are much more likely to die of heart disease. You said that you had cholesterol problems and blood pressure problems, that’s leading towards heart disease. Seeing Dr. Esselstyn, what were some things that you learned from him that you applied immediately? You mentioned that you ate a whole food plant-based diet, but what specifically did he have you do?
[00:18:08] Eric Adams: The oil content, particularly saturated fat. He really had me zero in on oil. Didn’t offer meat all together particularly red meat, understanding the power of that, understanding the power of green leafy vegetables—cruciferous vegetables, understanding the power of that. For the first time, it’s just what’s unimaginable as I think back on this. Here I am, 55 years old, and for the first time, I was learning how my body operates. I could tell you everything about my BMW. I could tell you the fuel injections, the exhaust system, the engine, and everything about it, but I knew nothing about my body, nothing about the importance of nutrients and how it plays a major role.
It was through that visit that I started to listen to the foods he talked about. The power of beans and lentils. The power of different vegetables and what they do. He really started the process for me of learning of what we put in our mouths and how what we put in will impact how your body operates. Our bodies are machines and if you do not put in the right items it needs to fuel itself, then it’s not going to function.
It’s almost like a car. You could put it in bad gas, watered-down gas. It will chunk along for years, but eventually, that engine, which is the heart, is going to break down. Eventually, the exhaust system, which is your colon, it’s going to break down. Eventually, your knees, which are the wheels, it’s going to break down. People who say well I’ve been eating this for years, yes, your car will run on bad gas for years, but when it breaks down it breaks down.
[00:20:22] Ashley James: Exactly. I love the car analogy because like you said, we will take better care of our car than our body. The fuel you put into your car, the work you put into your car to maintain, to prevent problems really does save your car and give your car life. We actually have in our garage a 1984 BMW 633CSi. We’ve had it for years. My husband takes care of it. He babies it. He replaced the engine in it. He’s about to replace the suspension. He babies it.
What’s cool is that was the car I grew up in. My dad had that car back when I was a kid. I get to sit in the same car I grew up in, not the exact same but the same model. It’s so neat to have that. Because we maintain it so well, it’s in the same running state that it was over 30 years ago. How cool is that, right? That’s the same with our body. You really take care—we have 37.2 trillion cells in our body that require thousands of nutrients and phytochemicals every day to fully function.
Sometimes people just eat crap food and their car is going to break down faster. But you’re saying we choose the right fuel for the body. How do we know that the whole food plant-based diet is the right fuel for everyone? You were able to go on a whole food plant-based diet and reverse all your health problems. I’ve seen so many people do the same. If I were to talk to the Eric Adams 10 years ago though and say you’ve got to give up steak, you got to give up oil, processed food, and sugar, that would seem impossible.
I think to a lot of people who are listening, it seems impossible, but you had a paradigm shift. You had a breakthrough in your life. A breakthrough is when what you imagine is impossible all of a sudden becomes possible. You had that breakthrough and you said I have nothing to lose, I’m going to do it. You started eating fruits, vegetables, nuts seeds, whole grains, beans, legumes, and lots and lots of vegetables, and more vegetables, and more vegetables every day. Then you started to see the results come pouring in. What kind of advice can you give for people who think that would be too hard or impossible to give up some of the foods they’ve been eating their whole life and transition to a whole food plant-based diet in order to heal their body?
[00:22:52] Eric Adams: That’s such a great question because you’re right, if you would have come to me as a 30, 40, and probably even 50 years old, I would not have heard you. I would not have heard this message. Some people are much smarter than I. They can hear something important and automatically make a shift. Others, like myself, we don’t make those major shifts and what we’re doing and thinking until we reach a very dark period. Losing your sight and having the thoughts of losing your limbs is a wake-up call. Some people don’t wake at wakeup at all. They just keep hitting the snooze button. Different people are at different places.
What we must do now is to demystify what a whole food plant-based diet is. Because if you were to rattle off to the list of things that I eat, one would automatically say wait a minute those are boring foods, those are not fun foods when it’s just the opposite. The variations of my meals, of my introductions of different spices in my life, and of the way I prepare my meals, I enjoy my food better than I ever did before.
You can get the sweet taste that you’re looking for. You can get a salty taste mixing in lemon and vinegar together. You could use dates to give you a wonderful sweet taste. Fruits have natural sugars that won’t harm your body. It is about rethinking our relationship with food and then finding the entry points for people. What I found throughout this journey is showing parents how important it is to eat, to enjoy a healthy life with your children, and so your children could have a healthy life. It is alarming to know that 70% of 12-year-olds have early signs of heart disease. That’s the number one killer in America.
We send up our children up for failure. I think those are the entry points that we need to find. Each of us, we all have different entry points. Some people eat healthily for their grandchildren, some people eat healthily because they’re going through a personal experience, and some people change what they doing because they just feel it’s the right thing to do for the environment. But we need to be there to show people how they can make the transition to one, food should look good, it should be good, but darn it, it should taste good. That’s how we stay connected to a good lifestyle change.
[00:25:45] Ashley James: It’s so true. I had that fear like oh vegetables don’t taste good, and then I decided to just try broccoli. I made broccoli. I love making steamed broccoli. I just steamed broccoli and I just ate a bowl full of broccoli. I sat there and I decided to just focus on how many flavors I could experience because I was so used to oily, salty, highly processed, and hyper-palatable foods. So just getting back to what is actually broccoli with nothing on it tastes like, and by the end of the meal, I could identify at least 10 different flavors. There’s a bit of salt in broccoli, there’s a bit of sweetness, and there are layers of flavor.
If you just eat one food like just a potato with nothing on it—a yellow potato is my favorite thing in the world. You bake a yellow potato; it’s got the most delicious flavor profile. Just getting back to what does a red pepper tastes like with nothing on it, eating a mono food, just one food and trying to experience all the flavors in that food really makes you realize you don’t need to add oil, salt, and sugar to mask the flavor of these beautiful foods.
I love that you added adding lemon, lime, or balsamic. Balsamic is something that Dr. Esselstyn says to add to your food often because it is really healing for the cardiovascular system because it increases the nitric oxide. I know that you have to go so I want to honor your time. What resources do you have? Do you want to plug any websites or books? Do you have any resources that you want to recommend?
[00:27:28] Eric Adams: The starting point is really Dr. Greger’s book How Not to Die. An amazing book that really is a starting point to allow people to become smarter around food. The second favorite of mine is Forks Over Knives Meal Plan because it’s a step-by-step, day-by-day, seven-week meal plan starting with one meal of a day of what you take out and make it into a whole food, healthy, and good tasting meal. The recipes are amazing inside the book. People who like pancakes, you can make healthy pancakes. People who like rice, you can use instead of white rice, brown rice. It’s just a great meal plan that could be extremely helpful.
The combination of those two books really sets the tone of what I believe is a good first step and a first start. You can start with just meatless Mondays. If you didn’t die because you didn’t have meat, you’ll see that it is possible eating a healthy life.
[00:28:41] Ashley James: I totally agree with you. Meatless Mondays is a great idea or there’s another one where you don’t eat meat until dinnertime or something like that where you try a few meals without meat. That was the first step for me because I had never had a meal without meat. It wouldn’t even be a meal to me if it didn’t have meat in it. To have meatless meals and then go whoa, I feel full, I feel good, this is great.
You said in your story you very quickly saw changes. I really want to challenge people to try it for seven days. To go eliminate oil, salt, and sugar and to eat nuts, seeds, whole grains, legumes, beans, and tons of a variety of fruits and vegetables. Just try that. Just eat those whole foods that are obviously plants that’s why it’s whole food plant-based. Eat those foods for seven days.
In your first seven days, what did you notice? Now I noticed that I woke up hours earlier. I was not groggy in the morning, I had way more energy, especially when I incorporated more potatoes. Because I was afraid of carbs, afraid of potatoes, but when I took out the fat and the meat and I added more carbohydrates—more potatoes, my blood sugar went down and stabilized. That freaked me out because I was eating more carbs than ever, but my blood sugar became better and I had more energy. I noticed throughout the day I had sustainable energy whereas when I ate meat, I was falling asleep all the time.
We are told to be afraid of potatoes and afraid of carbs but it was the opposite. In the first seven days of you eating whole food plant-based, what did you notice? When people set out to do a seven-day challenge, what are they excited to notice in their bodies?
[00:30:31] Eric Adams: Definitely the weight loss. I started to feel as though I was not as bloated, not as constipated, and not as gassy. The lethargic feeling that used to accompany me throughout the day—my day is extremely full and busy. I would have to continuously take the sugar boost, eating some type of pastry, cake, or something that would boost my energy. Waking up in the morning just really energetic, ready to take on a day. I have a full day and I start extremely early. Being able to wake up with the right level of energy is so important because you’re interacting with people in the public, and they feed off your energy. It was just a combination of just feeling different.
I don’t even recall, when I was 21, feeling the way I feel now. My body and my mind, the clarity of mind. But within the first seven days, you’re going to notice a difference in how you wake up, how you feel, and how your body feels. That your body no longer feels sluggish and weighted down.
[00:31:47] Ashley James: Amazing. I love it. It’s so true. Thank you so much, Eric Adams, for coming on the show today.
[00:31:51] Eric Adams: Thank you.
[00:31:52] Ashley James: It’s been such a pleasure. I’ll make sure all your links are in the show notes of today’s podcast at learntruehealth.com. Your message is inspiring and I love the work that you do. It’s been such a pleasure talking to you today.
[00:32:03] Eric Adams: Thank you. Have a good day.
[00:32:04] Ashley James: I hope you enjoyed today’s episode of the Learn True Health podcast. Check out episode 232. It’s my interview with Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn. Although the title is about heart disease, it’s the same diet that is used to reverse diabetes. In fact, it is used to help the body heal itself from many issues. Episode 232, my interview with Caldwell Esselstyn. I highly recommend you listen to it if you haven’t already.
You can go to learntruehealth.com and check out all of the wonderful resources there. We transcribe all of our interviews so you can scan through and read interviews. We have some really great free goodies on the site as well. If you have a friend, family member, or yourself suffer from anxiety, I have a wonderful course where you learn tools on how to eliminate anxiety. How to turn off the anxiety response in the body, how to decrease stress, and increase health mentally, emotionally, and physically. Go to learntruehealth.com, search through the menu. You’ll see there are many resources on the site available to you there.
Thank you so much for being a listener and thank you so much for sharing this podcast with those you care about. Let’s help turn this little ripple into a tidal wave and help as many people as possible to learn true health.
How Not To Die by Dr. Michael Greger