Mastering the Microbiome: A Master Class in Gut Health | Rich Roll Podcast
The major source of all inflammationin the body is actually the gut. So your gut hosts the largest numberof immune cells in the body. So that your most of the immune cells in your bodyare found in your gut. You’ve got them in your spleen, your thymus,and your obviously in your blood. So in addition to immune cells, being in your gutyou also have a lot of bacteria in your gut. And those bacteria play a very, very important rolein regulating your immune system. So you’re talking about people that are eating unhealthyand they’re not getting enough fiber and you knowthey’re doing damage in the gut and that’s causinga lot of immune cells to become activechronically every day. You have to feed those bacteria the right types of foods. You can kind of think of them as little chemicalproducing factories actuallybecause when you feed them the right type of food,which happens to be fiber,fiber gets digested by this bacteria in your gut,in your colon specificallyand it produces a bunch of different chemical productscalled short chain fatty acids,which are little signaling moleculesthat tell your immune cells in your gutto become a certain type of immune cell. So they’ll tell them,okay become this type of immune cell that is involvedin preventing auto-immune diseasesmaking sure your immune system doesn’t get so ramped upthat it starts to just attack everythingincluding your own organs. That’s very important. That’s Dr. Rhonda Patrick. And this is a special Deep Dive editionof the Rich Roll Podcast. The Rich Roll Podcast. And now for something a little bit differentafter eight years and 500 plus conversationsI’ve compiled quite a library of bankabletimeless information and advice. However, because of the way the Internet functionsand or the way the human animal operatesthere does seem to be this sense that content createdin the past is somehow less meaningfulthan more currently published content. In many ways, this is incorrect. And so to rebut this falsehood,I felt compelled to better organize the bestof our 1,000 plus our audio library and over time,convert it into a more helpful, productive, accessibleand hopefully practical resource for all of you. And one of the several waysof accomplishing this involves tapping this archiveto create episodes organized, not around a guestbut instead around a single theme or subject matter. This episode is an initial experimentand doing just thatthe first in what will be an evolving seriesof Deep Dives beginning with today’s explorationof The Microbiome courtesy of a collectionof gut health experts that have graced the show in the past. 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Just go to foursigmatic. com/rollor use promo code [email protected]. That’s F-O-U-R-S-I-G-M-A-T-I-C. com/rollto receive 10% off your order. Okay, well, I’ve said this many times beforebut because it is so mind-blowingI think it’s worth repeating and here it is. Only about 1/2 our cells are actually human. The other 1/2 is comprised of all the bacteria,the viruses and the fungi that live in or on our bodies. And we choose to believe nonetheless, thatdespite the fact that we’re the symbiotic hostof essentially an entire kingdom of lifethat nonetheless we’re still fully sentientand self-governing that we’re entirely responsiblefor our health or moods or decisionsbut the truth of course is far different. And in fact, to a large extent, our emotional stateour propensity for disease, the nature of our cravingsand even some of our decision-making can be traced backto the nature of our gut ecology. Most of these microorganisms, as I said, a moment agoare symbiotic maintaining a healthy cultureof the right microorganisms is fundamental to good healthbut should the quality of your microbiome go awryhealth havoc is certain to ensue. So to better understand the vital role,these microorganisms play in our health and our lives,today’s show is intended as a microbiome masterclass,courtesy of the gastroenterologists,the scientific researchers, and various gut expertsthat have graced the show in the past. The full episodes for whom can be foundin the show notes of course. We begin today with a basic definition of the microbiome,the vital functions, microbes play in regulating our bodies,how antibiotic use can compromise our gut floraand in turn our immune systemsand the adverse effects of over sanitation. All of this is coming to you courtesy of my awesome friendDr. Robynne Chutkan respected integrativegastroenterologist, microbiome expert,and best-selling author of books that include “Gut Bliss”and “The Microbiome Solution. ” So probably the first thing we should do isdefine what the microbiome is. So it’s basically the trillions of bacteriathat live in and on our bodies. Mostly bacteria, but also viruses and protozoaand helmets worms for those of us who have them. So about 100 trillion and all. 100 trillion and how many human cells are we?We are outnumbered 10:1-10:1. By our microbial cells and genes, yes. So is this crazy thingwhere we’re really just hoststo something that outnumbers us 10:1. It’s crazy when you start to think of it that way. And there’s this idea thatwhen we talk about the microbiome, we’re really talkingabout the gut bacteria, but really it appliesto everything that’s on our skin and our hair,like you know, our biggest organ, obviously our skin, right?And the ecosystems really vary tremendously. So even on your skin,the bacteria that live in your nasal labial foldsclose to the nose and mouth are completely differentto the bacteria that live on your cheekbonesa couple inches away on the same part of your face. So it is the microbes from the gut to the vaginal milleuto the lungs, to the mouth,to, again just a couple inches away on the skinare all completely different basedon the differences in moisture and oxygen contentand sweat glands and all sorts of things. So pretty fascinating, the different landscapes. And really the idea is thatmost of these microorganisms are not foe. They’re a friend or they’re kind of like neutral, right?Yes, exactly. And how did you first become interested in this?So my area of expertise or interestis inflammatory bowel disease,Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitisand those diseases Crohn’s, which is sort ofthe prototypical inflammatory bowel diseasewas described by Doctors,KRS-One Oppenheimer and Ginsburg in the 1930sat Mount Sinai Hospital, where I did my GA training. And we still, you know, almost 100 years laterjust a little short of 100 years laterwe’re not really that much closer to figuring outwhat cause these diseaseslike most autoimmune diseases and medical community. It’s sort of like, well you just have them,there’s a genetic predispositionbut they’re not really genetic diseases. So I was seeing a lot of these patients and Ilike a lot of other people in this area started noticingthat many of them have this common threadof frequent antibiotic use. So I started asking and people would say,yeah, well I was on a bunch of antibiotics for strep throatbut that was decades ago. Or I took tetracycline for acne in my teensbut what does that have to do with me having colitis nowor Crohn’s now in my 30s?And then there was an articlea meta analysis look at compilationof many different studies from Mount Sinaithat came out and actually showed that antibiotic use,interestingly, the two antibiotics that we useto treat these diseaseswere main risk factors for developing them. So I just started to have this really uncomfortable feelinglike, you know, we’re creating disease and not realizing it. And we really have to let people know I wouldsee patients coming in and they tell me they’ve beenon antibiotics for acne for three or four years. And low and behold, now they were developing GI symptoms. And there didn’t seem to be a really clear connectionbetween those things in the mind of the peoplewho were experiencing it. And certainly not in the mindsof the doctors who were prescribing. And I’d been one of those doctors up until very recently. So I felt this very strong urge tospread the word a little bit. And unlike my first book, “Gut Bliss”which probably 90% of the stuffin the book I knew and was just my daily experienceseeing patients with GI problems and very little research”The Microbiome Solutions” was sort of the opposite. I learned so much writing this book. I had this basic idea that we were on the wrong paththat we again were thinkingof our microbes as foes rather than friendsbut I had no idea how much of the wrong path we were onuntil I really started researching it. Interesting. So let’s explain maybe, or explore a little bit aboutthe function of a healthy microbiomeand what kind of biological functions it helps regulate?And in terms of like keeping us healthyor leading us astray from health. So you talked about us being hostto the microbes. If you think of our body as a factoryand all these different things have to happen,the kidneys have to filter urine. The heart has to pump the lungshave to swap carbon dioxide for oxygen. The digestive tract has to break down foodinto its constituent parts of proteinand fat and carbohydrateand then absorb them through the liningand carry them to the different organs for energy. All that stuff has to be done by some things, someone. And those, somethings someones our microbes. So they are sort of the worker bees for the factorythat help all these processes keep running smoothly,not just in the gut. Of course, that’s where we, as you saidthat’s where the majority of the microbes arebut in all kinds of different areas too. So if we think about something like energy for cells,energy for cells in our digestive tractcolonocytes what do they use for energy?They use short chain, fatty acids. Where do the short chain fatty acids come from?They’re byproducts of the microbesbreak them down and provide the shirt chain. Yes, exactly. Producing vitamins. There are a whole bunch of essential vitaminsthat our bodies can’t make on their own. That gut bacteria are involved in methylation processesto create these vitaminsthe clear toxins from your body,cancer causing toxins, some less aggressive toxins. So there all these vital functionsI mean, really, you know, at its core,essentially what you’re saying is sort of maintainingthis healthy gut flora and, you know, microbial ecologythat you know, propagates all over your bodyis absolutely essential to maximizing healthand preventing disease et cetera. But this is sort of at odds with kind of the last severaldecades of medicine and this kind of over-sanitisationof not only our environments, but our bodies. And with that, I would assume comes eitherin ignorance of the important functions of the microbiomeor just a sense of it not being essential or important. Is that fair to say?That’s absolutely fair. So in the 1950s, a researcherfrom the London School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene,named David Struan was tasked with trying to figure outwhy they were seeing so much eczema and hay feverwhich are sort of classic auto-immune diseases. In post-industrial London, everybody had left the farmfor the factory and they were seeing this sort of epidemic. And he found two really interesting. It was a 27-year study looking at thousands of kidsand their families. And he found two really interesting things. Number one, kids who lived in large householdswith lots of siblings had far fewer lower rates essentiallyof hay fever and eczemabecause they were sort of being immunizedby their siblings who were sneezing on them,coughing on them, darting them up in general,which we now know is a good thing. And children who came from more affluent householdswhere there were higher standards of hygieneor the bathing all the time washing all the timethings were super cleanhad also higher rates of these things. So it was good to be,it was good to be in a larger litter,if you will, with lots of litter matesand it was not good to be too wealthy and too clean. And at that time, I’m not suggestingthat people of higher socioeconomic statusare gleaner in general,but that was a phenomenon post-industrial Londonis that higher socioeconomic householdshad more means had more access to thesesort of newer at the time hygienic modalities,they had more showers and baths and so on. So that was the beginning that formed the foundationfor something that’s called the hygiene hypothesiswhich basically says that our immune system needs exposureto germs, to bacteria, for training so that it can recognizeand distinguish between friend and foe. And when that doesn’t happenas was what was happening in post-industrial Londonwhen people were starting to be cleaneris that the immune system gets confusedand then it starts to react to its own body. So in the case of the diseases I see,Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis, the body starts to reactto the gut tissue and creates ulcers and inflammation. Right there autoimmune diseases. Autoimmune and the case of arthritis,it’s a joint psoriasis and eczema it’s a skin. So there’s a direct correlation between autoimmune diseasesand the level of hygiene and sanitationas countries get more industrialized, more developedand the level of sanitation and the use ofthings like hand sanitizers and antibiotics and so on. Fluoride chlorine in the water. As that increases the rate of autoimmune diseasesstart to increase. And we’re seeing this in India and the middle East. And it’s a real problem because again,we have to figure out,I mean, it’s great chlorination of water help to eradicatecholera outbreaks and so on. So it’s sort of a tough situation. You don’t want people drinking, dirty water and coming downwith outbreaks of cholera, but at the same timewith super sanitizer,the water now it’s full of chlorine and chemicals. And again, it’s one of these contributorsto auto-immune disease. So there is a balance there between being safeand not having large numbers of people exposedto potentially harmful microbesand just super sanitizing, everything and creating disease. Right, yeah, it’s like the pendulumhas swung too far. Yeah. I mean, certainly you want,you know, a sanitary situationin the event of like an acute infection, right?You want like the surgery roomyou want the instruments to be, you know, very sanitarybut we’ve kind of taken that ideaand run too far with it, right?Like our pure culture is out of control. And you know, the idea behind that is,Oh if you want to not get sickyou want a germ-free environment. But basically it turns out it’s the oppositelike that kind of low grade continuous exposureto all sorts of maybe pathogens is too extreme a wordbut just, you know, the general environmentin which we live allows our immune system to respondin kind of, you know, do its pushups so that it’s preparedfor when the day comes, when you have that kindof overexposure to something that might make you sickso that your system can do what it needs to do. That’s exactly right. Yeah, cool. So if we track it through kind of like, you knowthe lifespan of a typical individual starting at,in utero, so coming through the vaginal canalbeing born is extremely important. You get that, like you get covered in all of this,these microorganisms, you get a big gulp of it,I suppose, as you’re born. And when you have a C-section, you’re denied thatkind of like rite of passage of being bornthat kind of coats you and stuff that you need to be assort of base in elementary about it as possible,that will serve in kind of seeding your microbiome for,better health as you mature. And Rich, I went through medical schooland good places. I was at Columbia for medical school residency. I trained at Mount Sinai. I had never heard this. I heard this for the first timeat a center for mind body medicines,food as medicine course. And I couldn’t believe it. I mean, my jaw dropped. I was like, what?This is an important thing going through the vaginal canal. I thought, how could, I mean, people, that’s somethingthat people are much more aware of now, but I thought-What percentage of people get C-sections?It’s now almost one in three in the USand granted some of those are necessary breech birthsand the mothers in distress or the baby’s in distress. But the vast majority, the vast majority are donebecause of convenience and people don’t know,OBGYN don’t know. When I talked to some of my OBGYN colleagues about thisthey looked at me like I have two heads. They’re like, what?So we, again, you know, most physiciansand most people one could argue, it’s slowly changing. I think that the cleaner you are the better. And as you said, there’s some good times to be clean. If you’re having your leg amputated,you’re having your appendix out or something. It’s good to have a clean environment. You don’t want to rub dirt in the open wound. Speaking of rubbing dirt and the open woundthere is a fantastic way to rewild a babywho has been born by C-sectionand that’s just to take a little gauze swab and soak it. And obviously it doesn’t have to be sterilebecause we’re soaking it in microbesand just sort of soak up the vaginal juices of the motherand then wipe the baby down with it afterjust to sort of try and approximate passingthrough the vaginal canal. It’s such a simple low-tech way of doing it,but instead what do we do?You know, we yanked the babies outafter C-section and then we sort of sterilize them. And we wipe them down with all the spectra cidal stuff. So we really have to rethink what it means to be humanand to be healthy and our relationship with microbesand this idea that the cleaner and the more sterilethe more chemicals we have in our environmentthe healthier we are. If you go down that road, you will end upin a really bad place as far as your health is concerned. Okay, so we got our footingbut we can’t talk about the microbiomewithout talking about prebiotics and probiotics. But what exactly are these?And do any of them actually make a differenceor is this just all marketing hype?Well, to help cut through the confusionI sat down with Ara Katz and Raja Dhir,the co-founders of Microbiome Company Seed. Let’s define the term probiotic. So probiotics are live microorganisms,which confer a health benefit on the host. There’s a couple of key definitionsthat are sub definitions within that. The first is if it has not been testedin the human population for the claim that’s being madethen it is not a probiotic. So that means double-blind randomized placebocontrolled studies, scientifically looking to showthat that organism has a probiotic effect. One popular trick that we see a lot of commercial interestsand corporations use is they’ll test a probiotic strainfor one very specific or small or niche outcome. Like let’s say, I don’t know, antibioticassociated diarrhea, for example,but then they’ll position the productas if it has utility for a wide audiencepreventively or proactively. And there’s just no information to suggest that. So I think that we really want to see companiesand researchers, this isn’t even just a company’s thing. This is the term and in the lexicon is viewsand thrown around to basically capture any organism,which could have a benefitor that’s theoretically could have a benefitor even just anything that’s been fermented. That’s how broad this category has gone,where all fermented foodsare not being positioned as probiotic but-Or lysates like in skincare. Yeah, so lysates are organisms that are heat killedand then ripped open. And just the cell wall is being used and appliedand those are called probiotics all the time. So it’s very, very importantthat the definition included the organisms being livebeing delivered in the appropriate dosagesand having testing done on the indicationin the population that it’s being marketed to. Yeah, I mean, it goes back again a little bitto the fact that the term itself is used so looselynot just on products, but also from a dietary perspectivelike Raja mentioned like fermented foods and beveragesa lot of people just say,I’ll drink a kombucha and I don’t need to take a probiotic. And I think that’s partially just becausethe term itself has become so diluted. Meanwhile, it’s an entire area of inquiry,like you know, within microbiome science. And I think it’s especially important too,because in the future, particularly as we look at areas likeyou know, fertility, the treatment of pathology and diseasethe way we’re gonna metabolize chemotherapythe way we’re gonna think about vaginal healthand preterm birth in the developing world,I mean probiotics have such potentialto make a huge, huge impactand not just because of their health impact,but also from the affordabilitycompared to other medications,the lack of side effects compared to other medicationsor other complications. We really feel that they’re such an important partof our cause not just the scienceand to create what we believe are someof the most sophisticated and effective productsbut to really steward the translation of itand to really be able to call out,you know evangelism over evidence. You know, if everyone thinks that every tortilla chipyou can just throw a probiotics onor your shampoo is just every,just throw some microbes in and it’s probiotic. Obviously those things are not going to get taken seriously. And actually as a result, you know, when we’ve seen areasof science where public perception shapesand hinders funding and the abilityto move some of these areas forward. And so I think that for us like part of really big,important part of the mission. All right, so let’s dispel misconceptionsaround kind of what the typical sort of thought pattern isor behaviors are around like the productsthat are currently available. So fermented foods, definitionallyare a very different category than a probiotic. It would be considered a prebiotic, yes. Unless it’s been shown to modulate the microbiome. It’s not even a prebiotic. It is just a fermented food. That is the category. And I’ll give you an example. So a study was done that did a deep metogenomic sequencingon a kimchi product. And of the 900 or so different strains that were foundfrom the lots that were tested,only four are believed to have probiotic potentialor were advanced. And to showing that it has probiotic potential. I think that a lot of the benefits and fermented foods comebecause of the bacteria actually pre digests a lotof the components and rough edgesthat for some people are very difficult to handle. And their fibrous. Their fibrous and they’re delicious. So this is not a PSA against fermented foods. We think they’re great and have been usedin ancestral populations for the purposesof food preservation for a very, very long time. If I didn’t have a refrigeratormy diet would be 70% fermented foods. But the fermentation process itselfis bacterial growth, right?Are these not like sort of positive organismsthat we want to introduce into our microbiome or?They don’t stay there very long. They don’t colonise. In fact, I would say more important than the organismsthat are used for fermentation are organic acidsand fermentation byproducts. And some of those metabolites that we believe could be usedby the human body to have a health benefitbut these studies are few and far between. And so the research is really, really lackingAnd actually the way Raja is describing itis like a really important distinction. Just you were talking about how to like break this downfor like the general consumer looking at probiotics. It’s really important to thinkabout that a microbe could be taken. So you could actually consume bacteriato have a specific effect that it has been studied for,which is very differentthan the way probiotics are currently marketed,which is this idea that it’s good bacteriathat you have some good bacteria,but that you’re missing some in your gutand that you take a probiotic and it puts it back,which is two very different ways of thinking about them. But the scientific definition is the formerwhich is that you consume bacteria that has beendemonstrated to have an effect in the human body. And that’s the difference, which is in thewhere the marketing is right now,is this notion that you kind of like restoreor put the good stuff backversus that it has an effect in the bodyand that by taking it continuously,cause probiotics actuallyRaja was talking about colonizationwhich is another good myth to bust. And that there’s a lotof people who think that a probiotic must colonizein order to “Work. “But in fact, probiotics are transient,which means that they do their workkind of on the road on their way through your body. And so that’s an important distinction that I thinka lot of people kind of don’t understand. Yeah. What is the impact in your mind of the decreasing diversityof our biosphere in general?You know, through our soil, through the,our increasingly toxic environment,the way we raise animals for food, et cetera,all of these things playing into species extinction,all the way down to single cell organismsand smaller, and the, like, how does this playinto gut health and how we think about these issues?Yeah, I mean, well, you know, one of the thingsthat we are looking at from a seed perspectiveand we have a division of our company called Seed Labs,which is where we start to look at the wayin which microbes could be a part of the solution. So like honeybees are like a really awesome example. Yeah, you guys are doing something amazing. Yes. That’s right. This looks specifically at the impacton the honeybee gut of new niche, no pesticides. But on the honeybees I’ll let Raja,Raja can speak a little bit about the science. I’ll start by answering your question. Most people here would know or have heard this phenomenoncalled colony collapse disorder,which is for unexplained reasons in the last 10 yearsor so mass mass communitiesof honeybees are just dying off indiscriminately. We don’t know why the populations are-Do we really not know why?We’re starting, so that’s the hook. The answer is the lead two leading causesor the three leading causes are habitat lossand habitat doesn’t just mean the wild is being less wild. It means Monique plant culture of plants too. So the streamlining of agriculture-The lack of diversity that’s exist now-Lack of diversity. The second is a pathogen called fallowed root disease. It’s a nasty pathogen that kills honeybee babiesin the first three days of life. And the third are neonicotinoid pesticideswhich the EU had banned last year, but the US still allows. And they’re called because they operatein the nicotinoid and nicotinic receptor sitesin the brain, which etymologically are relatedto what’s found in the tobacco plantso much so that if you put a suspension of waterwith glucose and water with neonicotinoid pesticideshoneybees will pick the pesticide water over sugar water. And that’s a completely crazy finding. And so what it does is it slowly disorients bees. And when it compounds and aggregates in their bodiesthey just get so disorientedthat they forget where their hive is. So this thesis was when these environmental changes happen,the first thing that changes is the microbiome. And so there’s a lot of sequencing work that was done. Our chief scientists and our first seed felloware the ones that are leading these field trials. And we actually found thatby reintroducing three probiotic organismsback into the bee gutyou can a detoxify neonicotinoid pesticidesbefore they’re absorbed into the body. So it’s, it binds and releases these common pesticidesand dampens or protects the immune response as a resultof it, but perhaps more impressivelyin early, early bee communities. You know, so bees are becoming somethinglike Japan right now, where there’s a lot of old beesbut very few young bees. And they dramatically insignificantly protectthese young bees from crowding out this pathogen,which is so powerful that if it’s foundbeekeepers are supposed to go and burn and scorched earth,the entire hive, to make sure that it doesn’t-Within days. Within days of its discoverycause it can spread very quicklyeven one spore can spread and result in an epidemicand in a neighboring hive. So we published about this. The first paper came out in scientific reportsin nature using a soft flow model. That’s a model organism for honeybee populations,field trials just concluded last year,we made our announcement at the end of last yearand we patented this, but then opened up royalty-freethe patent to honeybee farmers around the world. And then we hope at some point this yearto roll out bio patties and bio spraysthat are based off these species afterour UC Davis trial commences. And so this is a large scale of field trial in almond farms,which is kicking off in a couple of months. So essentially it’s a probiotic-Right now it’s a patty. It’s like almost like it’s like a pancakethat you put in the hive. And so they eat it?Yeah. Okay, so they eat it in the hiveand that populates their gut florawith something that helps them avoid the negative impactsof these nicotinamide nicotine pesticides. Of nicotine pesticidesand of the Fallbrook disease. So two out of the three are leading causesof colony collapse disorderRight. And just for people that don’t know, paint a pictureof colony collapse disorder, you know, at its ultimate. The bees are the most efficient pollinatorsthat have or ever will be discovered or invented. If we lose bee populationswe lose nearly every single blooming cropor fruiting crop that you find,maybe some in small quantities root vegetableswould persist but a lot of the diversity that you seefrom above ground pollination are virtually gone. I mean, models that predict itsay that the supermarket, the fruits and vegetablesisles of the supermarket would be decreasedby over 90% if we lost that many bees. Yeah. I mean the easiest way to say it is whatever you atefor breakfast this morning probably won’t be here. And there’s also other implications like cottonfor example, that have of course other implicationsfor other industries and other usesRight. So it really broadens the apertureon the work that you’re doing. This is not just,Hey, you know like we want to create a probioticto make people healthy. Like it’s really an effort to addressthe declining biodiversity of the planet at largeand that the implications or the sort of applicationsof this science that you’re developing are really limitless. And I think also the applications of sciencethat’s really often stays kind of guarded,you know in academic institutions are for many reasonsoften doesn’t make its way to humansor for other applications that can be immediatelykind of put to use and to make an impact. So part of, kind of the bridge we’ve builtand very proud of. Much more to come, of course,but first today’s episode is brought to you by Public Goods. The one-stop shop for sustainable high qualityeveryday essential is made from clean ingredientsat an affordable price. Everything from coffee to toilet paper and shampooall the way to pet food even. Public Goods is your new everything storethoughtfully designed for the conscious consumer. 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So go to outerknown. com todayand enter my code [email protected],and you’ll get 25% off your full price order. That’s outerknown. com O-U-T-E-R-K-N-O-W-N. com. And remember to use my code [email protected] for 25% off. Check them out today. That’s outerknown. comand don’t forget promo code [email protected] for 25% off. Okay, to ease back into all of this. I think it would be good to pull focuson the link between how we treat our bodieswhat we choose to put into our bodiesand what we absorb into our bodiesand how all of that impacts our guts,specifically our gut liningand the permeability of that gut lining. And of course in turn downstream,what all of that means in terms of health and disease. Our steward for this corner of microbial explorationis my friend and podcast standout favorite Dr. Zach Bush. Truly one of the most interesting minds working todayto improve human and planetary health. The first step is to kind of considerwhat is inflammation. Inflammation is actually a normal biologic responseto an injury. The immune system lies throughout your bodyin different shapes and forms, but some 60% of the volumeof the immune system and some 80% of the work doneby the immune system has done in your gut lining. And the concept of the gut is poorly definedand poorly understood by the consumer as well as doctorsbut it really starts in your sinuses. It is your barrier system between the outside worldand what you breathe the outside worldand what you drink, eat, et cetera. This membrane is extremely interesting to look at itand it’s engineering. It’s such an interesting under engineering event,this gut membrane. It is the largest surface area we have exposureto the outside world is two tennis courts in surface areaversus only the 1. 8 meters or so of your skin surface area. So you’ve got this massive surface area. And the only covering of that surfaceis a cellophane-like layer of epithelial cellsof the gut and sinuses and the restthat is about 50 microns in diameter which-That’s like one cell thick, right?One cell thick,which is if you pluck a human hair and cut that in 1/2that’s the thickness of your gut membrane. So you have this 1/2 a human hair cellophane layerthat protects you from every bite of food you eat,every chemical that comes into your food chain, et cetera. So it seems like horrible engineering, but on the flip sideit tells us something about what we’re engineered for. We need to be inherentlyin contact with the ecosystem and nature around us. And if we start to tinker and screw with that naturethat membrane is gonna become very vulnerableand start to leak. And our immune system sits right behind that. There had been some papers coming out in the mid 2000sin the cancer world that were starting to say thatthe bacteria in your gut were predictingwhich cancers you would get. If you’re missing these bacteriayou would get prostate cancer. If you have these bacteria, you would get breast cancer. That was so radically bizarreand out there for our current modeleven to this day as to how cancer worked. But now you fast forward eight, 10 yearsand now there’s tens of thousandsof articles that are showing that genomicallythe bacterial genome is way more importantin determining cancer than the human genome. And so this reality was hitting in. So in 2012, when we discovered these chemicalsthat look a little like chemotherapythat are made by bacteria and fungi in the soilit suddenly closed the loop of,Oh my gosh what if the bacteria in our gutis doing the same thing?What if the bacteria and the fungi are actuallyour best source of medicine for everything. And so that’s the direction we were going. But as soon as we put this into Petri disheswith cancer cells and beyond, we suddenly realized,no, no no, there’s something way deeper happeningwith this information streamcoming out of bacteria and fungi. And it was my chief science officer, Dr. John Gildayis a PhD in genetics and cell biology. And he was the first to realize that we had put our fingeron the glyphosate toxicity issueas that this communication networkfrom the bacteria and fungi was actuallysupporting the protein structure in our gut lining. And so it turns out that the gut is held togetheras these trillions of cellsthat make up that cellophane layer by tight junctions. These are Velcro like proteins that hold onemicroscopic cell to the next, to create this coherent carpetof two tennis courts. And he had recognized before this and a numberof other labs that started to publish that glyphosateseemed to increase the permeability of this membrane. And nobody was really sure why yet that chemicalwas never patented as a weed killer. It’s only been patented as an antibiotic,and then it was re patentedas an anti parasite and it was fungi-Yeah that was the original purpose of it, correct?What’s the mechanism,and it’s the mechanism they recognized. And so the mechanism of glyphosate is to go inand block enzymes in soil bacteria, fungi, and plants. And that enzyme pathway is called the shikimate pathway. And it’s important because it makes a numberof the essential amino acids. Our bodies are composed of over 200,000 proteinsbut we only have 20,000 genes. We have this pathetically dumb genomein the sense that a flea has 30,000 genes. So you’re 2/3 as complicated as a flea at the gene level,which I find reassuring. If I can’t find my keys or I’m having a bad day,I’m like, hey, I’m 2/3 complicated as a fleawhat can I, what are my real expectations here?But the reality is we’re very simple at the genetic level. And yet we make over 200,000 proteinsfrom a bunch of amino acids. There’s 26 amino acids that will buildthose 200,000 proteins. Those 26 amino acids are just likethe 26 letters of the English alphabetin the sense that the vast majority of those are useful,but not critical,but the vowels, these eight vowels in our languageif you subtract one of those vowels,you can affect hundreds of thousands of words. The vowels and the amino acid vocabulary hereare the essential amino acids,which if you start to tweak any of those nineyou’re gonna start to lose tensof thousands of protein structuresin their functionality and in their unique form. And so those essential amino acidsnot only are they important like the vowelsthey also can’t be made by the human body. So those nine have to come from your food chain somewhere. And it turns out that they are only made by the bacteria,the fungi, and the plants. You don’t have a shikimate pathway in your human cells. And so these essential amino acids are blockedthrough the shikimate pathway by roundup. And so imagine treating a food chainwith a chemical that blocks the abilityof these plants to make the building blocksfor a healthy human body forget about a human,it’s a dog, a cat, any mammal,any complex multicellular biology is gonna dependon these essential amino acids. And we literally, in the last 15 yearssubtracted out the ability to build the bodybecause we changed the 26 letters. Zach spoke about inflammationbut it’s still kind of an elusive confusing subject matter. I want to better understand it. What does it mean?Why is it so important,and what is the difference between acute inflammation?Like what happens when you suffer a physical injuryand chronic inflammation,which is this persistent state that can beand often is induced by things like diet and lifestyle?And on the subject of diet,how exactly does diet itself affect the gut bacteriaand in turn the immune systemand how does all of this relate to inflammation?Well, here’s the wonderful Dr. Rhonda Patrick,a PhD in biomedical sciences and an expert in nutrition,metabolism and aging to break it all downin understandable terms. I don’t think a lot of peoplereally do understand exactly what inflammation is. So what inflammation is referring to is it’s a consequenceof your immune system being activated. And once your immune system is activatedthey start firing off all these chemical weaponsthat are called inflammatory cytokines. And these inflammatory cytokines are damaged cellsinside your body, damage DNA inside your body,damaged pretty much everything inside of your cells. But what’s confusing to me about thisis that essentially inflammationis an immune system responseto something wrong in your body, right?It’s your body’s way of saying, let’s send the ambulanceout to fix whatever’s wrong. Whether you cut your finger or you sprained your knee,your immune system gets activated and mobilizedto then kind of visit that either localized areaor in general if it’s stress-relatedor something like that, I suppose. But the idea behind it is to fix the problem, right?So on some level, doesn’t it make sense that likesome inflammation is goodbecause it’s your body reacting to a problemin order to fix it?Absolutely. One of the major downstream effectsof having these inflammatory cytokines and moleculesbeing produced is they recruit other repair factors. It increases genes in your bodythat then start to repair damage, fix things. So it’s an essential part of repair and recovery system. However, there is a difference between acute inflammationand chronic inflammation. Acute inflammation would be somethinglike your four hour marathon run, you knowor your two hour training session when you’re runningand you’re causing inflammation there,you know inflammation occurs after intense exercise. That’s good because the inflammation signals to various,genes in your body that turn on all these antioxidant genes. They turn on genes, that repair muscle damage,they turn on all these good. So it’s like a stress response sort of mechanismwhere you’re turning on all the good stuffbut you need the bad stuff to turn them on. So it’s kind of like here’s a little dose of this bad stuffto turn on the good stuff. Right. So there’s sort of the exercise induced,oxidative stress that triggers the immune system responseversus somebody just smoking cigarettes all day longand that’s causing some kind of internal damagein a number of ways that’s creatingjust a chronic immune system response that is literallyjust burning your engine out, right?Yeah, exactly. You know, the chronic smokingor actually the major, major source of all inflammationin the body is actually the gut. So you’re talking about people that are eating unhealthy. They’re not getting enough fiberand they’re doing damage in the gut and that’s causinga lot of immune cells to become activechronically every day. So, in your experience what are the foodsthat create the worst sort of inflammatory response?Well, I think it’s actually more a lack of food-Lack of the good foods?Than eating bad foodsbecause your gut hosts the largest numberof immune cells in the body. So that your most of the immune cells in your bodyare found in your gut,you’ve got them in your spleen,your thymus, and obviously in your blood stream. But the largest number of them are actually in our gut. The reason for that is because,your gut is exposed to the external environment. You know, the food you eat, your gut sees it. And that can be pretty lethalif you get some bad nasty stuff. So your immune system has to be thereand ready to react to that. To make sure that you stay alive along,long enough to reproduce and pass on your genes. So in addition to immune cells, being in your gutyou also have a lot of bacteria in your gut. Tons and tons of bacteria. And there’s people that sort of debatehow many bacteria,there’s a hundred trillionI’ve seen references for and I haven’t dug into like,is it accurate or not?I mean, it’s a lot, it’s a lot of fricking bacteria. 10 times more microorganism than human. And people, you know, that just can’t,it irks them to hear people say that. And, you know, I don’t know, I’ve seen references that showthat there are 100 trillion bacteria cellsin your colon, in the distal part of your gut. And those bacteria play a very, very important rolein regulating your immune system. So you have to feed those bacteria,the right types of foods, in order for them,you can kind of think of themas little chemical producing factories actuallybecause when you feed them the right type of foodwhich happens to be fiber,fiber gets digested by this bacteria in your gut,in your colon specificallyand it produces a bunch of different chemical productscalled short chain fatty acids,which are little signaling moleculesthat tell your immune cells in your gutto become a certain type of immune cell. So they’ll tell them,okay, become this type of immune cell that is involvedin preventing auto-immune disease is making sureyour immune system doesn’t get so ramped upthat it starts to just attack everythingincluding your own organs. That’s very important. And the type of immune cell that does itit’s called T regulatory cellsand T regulatory cells become T regulatory cellsbased on this bacteria, in your gut that are producingthese little products that tell it to do it. So it’s very important that your gut gets fiber. And if you look at like hunter gatherer societieslike in Tanzania, they get around 200 grams of fiber a day. And compared to the typical American dietwhich is like maybe 15 grams of fiber,that’s a huge-Yeah, that’s crazy. And it’s funny because in our culturewe’re all obsessed with protein. You know, we’re all walking around thinkingthat we might be suffering from a protein deficiency. The truth is almost everyone is sufferingfrom a fiber deficiency. And if we flip those words aroundI think we’d all be better off. If people were like, did you get your fiber today?Did you get your fiber today?I mean, we would be in a different place. I am so with you on that is my new motto. Did you get your fiber today?Because it is so incredibly importantand what a good way to think about itfor some people that don’t really have a graspon why fiber is so important,when you eat protein, when you eat fat,when you’re eating these other sources of energyeven carbohydrates that are not fibre,that you know like refined carbohydratesthat don’t have fiber,those things all get metabolizedin the upper part of your intestine. They don’t make it to the colonwhere all your bacteria are,probiotic bacteria, good bacteria, the commensal bacteriathat are regulating the immune system like I just mentioned. So what happens is because you’re getting protein and fatand refined carbs, those bacteria start to get hungry. Oh, what am I gonna eat?I don’t get the protein. I don’t get the fat. So they actually start to eat. What’s called mucinwhich is what it’s essentially the gut barrier. The gut barrier is made up something called mucinand it’s mucin cause it’s kind of mucusy kind of slippery. And it separates the immune cells from the bacteriain your gut, separates the food, you know,from the internal part of your gut. So they’ve got barrier starts to get broken downby your own probiotic bacteria that are goodfor you because they’re hungrybecause you’ve been starving them of fiber. Right, they’re so far down the conveyor beltthat they have,they’re forced to basically cannibalize themselves. Exactly. And is that what causes leaky gutand all these sorts of issueswhere people are having all theseyou know, digestive disorders?Yes, it causes a plethora of disorders,you know, leaky gut. It affects your immune systembecause now your immune system is all out of work. Your gut barrier starts to break down,the immune cells start to see the bacteria. What do I mean cells do when they see bacteria?They fire away. They’re gonna fire all that chemical warfare. I was talking about creates more inflammation. You start to release these things into your bloodstream,causes activation of immune cells in your bloodstreamthat can affect your cholesterol. And, you know, the lack of fiber kind of like,I think it’s like this insidious kind of damagethat people just, they don’t realize that it’s like,Oh they may notice they may be constipated a little,or you know, it’s just, but they don’t realizeto what magnitude this sort of effect can havewhen it starts to compound over the years. Cause it’s really changing your immune system. It’s causing inflammation, it’s aging you,it’s going to accelerate the way you age on every level. And you know, it can lead to these diseasesthese autoimmune related diseases, these diseases of aging,all sorts of problems start to happen. And I really think that you nailed itwhen there’s a simple solution. The simple solution is you need to focus on getting fiber. I mean, I actually, that is my main obsession. It’s fiber, and then I supplement some proteinand fat and all that with fiber. Right, fiber is at the top of the food pyramid. It’s at the top. That’s so interesting. And it’s all different types of fiberbecause you’ve got you know, seeds, legumes,you’ve oats, vegetables, fruitsyou know, they all have different types of fiber. And what we’re learning is that there are differenttypes of fiber that are having different effects. You know, so they’re feeding different types of bacteriaand they’re producing those bacteriaare producing different types of chemical byproductswhich then do X, Y, or Z. You know, so I mentioned the T regulatory cellswhich are important for preventing auto-immune disease. They also make an something called natural T killer cellswhich are the most important type of immune cellthat kills cancer cells in your bodywhen we’re constantly getting little cancer cells that ariseand our immune system takes care of it. It’s sort of like a levels numberyou know, when we get more cancer cellsthan our immune system can handle a,because our immune system’s weak,because we’re not making enough natural killer cellsor something like that. Then it starts to get to the pointwhere the cancer cells start to survive. They make it. Gotcha. All right, good. So let’s get back to inflammation in general. So we kind of have a working understandingof inflammation now. And what in your opinion are the leadingkind of causes of inflammationand what are the ways that we can avoid these?Like what are some daily habits that we cankind of undercut this chronic immune responsethat is making us sick?So, as I mentioned,I think one of the major drivers of inflammationis gut health and lack of fiber. That’s really one of the major things. So making sure you’re eating enough vegetables,getting enough, nut seeds, plants, legumes,like I think that’s very, very importantfor controlling inflammation. And that’s been,I mean, it’s been shownthat the gut is a major regulator of inflammation. So that’s number one, that’s easy,you know increase your intake of vegetables. The other easy actionable for controlling inflammationis believe it or not actually causing acute inflammationthrough exercise. Because it is a hormetic,it’s called a hormetic type of stresswhere you’re inducing stress,you’re then activating all these anti-inflammatory genes. And this has been shown like about an hour after exercise. You have a really high elevation ofthese pro-inflammatory mediators. And then immediately after that,like couple hours later is a very stronganti-inflammatory response. So exercise is a really good way to boostthe anti-inflammatory processesand natural ones in your body-Right, so it’s like pushupsfor your immune system as well as for your muscles?Exactly, it really is. It really is. And the other one that I’ve really been obsessedwith recently is curcumin. And curcumin is one of the two curcuminoidsthat is found in tumeric. Right, it’s a root. It’s a root. What is the difference between that and tumeric?Well, tumeric has many different curcuminoidsin them, including curcumin. I like to get,now I mentioned the curcumin specificallybecause the curcuminis a very, very potent anti-inflammatorybut it doesn’t work the way people may be thinkingand it’s, you know, anti-inflammatory drugs. It works very differentlybecause it’s actually kind of like exercise. It’s a hormetic stress. It’s actually slightly toxic to us. And because it’s slightly toxic to us,it turns on all these really potent anti-inflammatory genesand it inhibits the pro-inflammatory ones as well. So curcumin is really, really good at doing thatbut I want to just differentiate the differencebetween curcumin and tumeric. Tumeric is also very goodbecause it’s the source of curcumin. Curcumin’s not as concentratedif you’re taking the full tumeric,which you can buy the route and have it freshor you can buy powder and cook with it. You know, curries and stuff are often have tumeric in itor you can make tea, you can do lots of things with itbut what’s really cool about tumericis that in addition to curcumin,it has something in it called aromatic tumerinwhich is another curcuminoid that has a completelydifferent function than for curcumin. The aromatic tumerone has been shown in studies to actuallyin the brain increase neural STEM cells. So STEM cells in the brain to make more neurons. So it actually increases neural STEM cellsto what’s called differentiatewhich just means these STEM cells become neurons. So it increased dramatically increase the numberof neurons in little mind sprains. All right. So back to inflammation. So here we have increase your fiber. We have exercise, we have curcumin. Yes. And then beyond that, let’s talk about sleepand other stress reduction techniques like meditationand the impact of that on reducing chronic inflammation. I was just going there. Oh, you were. Okay, sorry about that. Yes. Well, I’ve become sort of obsessed recentlywith a circadian rhythm or your biological clockwhich is related to sleep. You know, humans are on a a 24 hour light or day,night dark cycle where we’rein the day when it’s light out or active,you know we’re working, we’re exercising,we’re thinking we’re, you know, metabolically activeat night when it’s dark typically we’re,you know, resting, sleeping. It’s when we’re repairing a lot of damage, things like that. But what is so interesting is that bright light exposure,early bright light exposure is so incredibly importantfor setting your biological clock. It’s like an anchor to set it so that it knows,okay this is day, this one day starts. And so this internal clock that you have regulateslike 20% and a 15 and 20% of your entire genome. Many of those genes are involvedin metabolism, inflammation-Wow, that’s true. Tons and I mean,it’s completely regulated on chestyou know, the amount of light you’re exposed to whenyou’re exposed to it and when it dark, it’s like this clock. And so recently I came across a study that showedwhen humans were exposed to really, really bright lightit was 10,000 Lux, which is like the sunwhen they’re exposed to it starting earlyfor about seven hoursthat was able to reduce cortisol levels,which is the stress hormone cortisol by up to 25%during the next day, during its peak phase. Wow. 25%, so cortisol-The translation, you need to be outsideand exposed to the sun?I suppose you’ll be sitting in your cubicle?Yes, that’s the translation. And, you know, just cortisol is I meanit causes massive inflammation. It’s one of those stress hormonesthat activates almost every gene and the bodythat increases your immune cellsto go fire, fire, fire, cortisol, there’s that. I mean, there’s a reason it does that. It’s a stress response,but if you are not being exposed to bright lightbecause you live somewhere and it’s dark in your houseor your apartment, or you work a job where,you’re just not able to be exposed to the light,it really can have detrimental effects on health. And you know, we’re talking about inflammation herethat’s at the molecular levelthat’s what’s going on, but it, you knowit has a lot of effects on your ability to lose weightto gain muscle mass, your mood, brain functionmemory, learning, you, all these things. I mean, tons and tons of studies have shown,you know cortisol decreases muscle mass. It actually causes your muscles to atrophy,it causes your brain to atrophy. And this has all been shown experimentally. Wow, that’s amazing. So for the average person though, they’re notmost people are not able to be outin direct sunlight for seven hours a day, right?So is there like a manageable solutionfor the average person?Well, I do know thatin terms of just setting the biological clock,being exposed to seven hours a day,that specifically was referringto the 25% reduction in cortisol. I got you. But just being exposedto bright light for like one to two hoursis enough to set your biological clock correctlyso that your metabolism is going the way it’s supposed to,your inflammation is going the way it’s designed. You know, you’re able to break down fat,you’re able to build muscle mass. You’re able to, repair damage. All these things are being regulatedby that biological clock. So that one to two hours is key for that,which is like sort of like the minimal thing. Right, right. It’s such a crazy thing that the circadian rhythmis like even exists. I mean, we walk around and thinking that we’ve masterednature, you know and we forget thatwe’re just primal creatures,living in this basically in the wildand that we’re still, you know, we still have to fall preyto these things beyond our control. Okay, got it. But how do things like stress and anxiety playinto all of this?For example, is the trauma of this pandemicimpacting our microbiome?And in closing what exactly is the best dietary approachto optimizing the microbiome and microbiome health?Hint, think plant diversity. To close out today’s Deep Dive,let’s hear from my buddy, Dr. Will Bulsiewicz,a gastroenterologist, gut health guru,and author of the must read “Fiber Fueled. “So many things that talk aboutI think an interesting launching off point for thiswould be to kind of contextualize your workwith what’s going on currentlyin this pandemic era that we’re all navigating through. And what I’ve been thinking about lately,and I’m interested in your thoughts on,is how we square this,need to socially distance and sanitize our environmentsand kind of cloister ourselves from other human beingsand restrict our exposure to a variety of environmentswith this paramount need to increase our biodiversitynot just with the foods that we’re eatingbut with the environments that we visitthe people that we interact with,like these two things are at odds,this importance of biodiversity maximizing thatwith this need to kind of over cleanseeverything at the moment. Yeah. I feel like health has never been as importantas it is right now. There is a direct connection between your gut microbiomeand the strength of your immune system. And for that reason, it becomes imperativethat we take care and nurture a healthy gut microbiome. And the thing that sort of stands out to me, Rich,is yes like excessive cleanliness,sterilizing our environment, not being allowed to socializeand connect with other humans. Like all of those things are there. But to me, the most powerful influence is the stress. The stress is something that is affecting all of us. I mean, we are living through a moment of collective stress. We’re all forced to take this on. There’s no avoiding it. And that actually has an impact on our gut microbiome. And it drives us to this place where we all sort ofhave different ways that we cope and deal with that stress. And for many it’s to turn to unhealthy habitsand that includes unhealthy food. And in many cases, alcohol. And we’re compounding that stressand we’re actually compounding the harm that it doesto our gut microbiome. You know, many people, when we think about gut healthwe’ve talked about food and like my book discusses foodin great detail. The part of the book that I really wanted to elaborate onand there just weren’t enough pages for me to go thereis the effect of trauma. The most challenging patients that I seeas a gastroenterologist are the people who have been victimsof physical, emotional, sexual, psychological trauma. And it changes them. And they don’t realize the way that it affects their gut. And typically when they get to me,I’m the fifth or sixth doctor gastroenterologiststhat they’ve been to. They’re looking for solutions relatedto their gut microbiome or to their digestive issues. And what I discoverafter getting to know them and building that trustand that relationship is that the solution the pathis actually not through food. Moreso it’s actually about healingthat trauma that is eating at them on a subconscious level. And all of us are dealing with trauma right now. And I feel like collectivelythis is affecting our gut microbiomeand it’s at the worst possible time. There’s a direct linebetween gut health and our immune system. 70% of our immune system lives in our gut. And when we have that,that emotional trauma that’s affecting our gut. And then we also compound that by consuming alcoholor by eating junk food, we’re putting ourselvesinto a vulnerable place where if we do get the viruswe don’t have our defense system built up to protect us. And that’s the scary thing, because increasinglywe’re seeing studies, Rich, that are making connectionsbetween the gut microbiomeand severe manifestations of COVID-19. I mean, we’re, you knowthe doctors are all asking the questionswho are these people, they get COVID-19?And one of the first things that we discovered isit’s the people who are that have diabetesand high blood pressureand coronary artery disease and are overweight. And then when you think about allof those things that I just mentioned, diabetesheart disease, high blood pressure, being overweight,they’re all connected back to the microbiome. So essentially to ignore gut healthor to not have a optimally functioning microbiomeis to put yourself at peril in terms of your immune responseto COVID or anything?I feel like this connection is critically importantin the 21st century period. I mean, look at the explosion ofimmune mediated disease States, you know,look at celiac disease, at 500% in the last 50 years,look at inflammatory bowel disease,that’s absolutely exploding. And, you know, there’s conditions,Rich, that when I was a kidliterally didn’t exist that I’m diagnosed in sometimes twicein the same day that are immune mediated. You know, things like eosinophilic esophogitisand so independent of COVID. I feel like recognizing this connectionis really critically importantbecause the problem is once you trip that wireonce you cross that line, you may find yourselfwith one of these conditions that I don’t believethat there’s necessarily a cure. I think that you can put yourself into remission,but once you have one of these conditionsI think that you have it. And it’s there. In terms of the protocols that we should allbe undertaking to, you know, buttress our microbiome,you’re not necessarily advising a specific type of dietother than to say, plant diversity is King. Like, this is the vector of all factors for you, right?So it’s not about,Oh, is vegan or, I mean, it’s a predominantlyplant-based or plant-based dietbut the diversity of plants is really what’s importantin terms of making sure that you’re doing everything you canin the interest of your microbiome?Well, I think the critical piece to me,so, you know the book is called “Fiber Fuels”and that’s because I feel like fiber has been thisignored superfood. And part of it is that we’ve been thinkingabout it as this orange drink that grandma’s stirsup so that she can poop. When in fact it’s incredible, the connection between fiberand our gut microbiome. You know, fiber doesn’t just go in the mouthand shoot out the other end. Soluble fiber is a specific sort of categorywhich feeds the microbiome. This is their preferred food. When we give this to them, they consume it. They grow stronger. Our microbes actually multiply, grow stronger. And then they turn around and they reward us. And the way that they reward us is by releasingshort chain, fatty acids. And these short chain fatty acids have healing effectsthroughout the entire body. So, you know, we’ve been emphasizing a little bitthe immune system. Short chain, fatty acids optimize our immune system. There are studies that we could talk about,if you want to, connecting short chain fatty acidsin terms of protection from respiratory viruses,they can have their effect in the lungson the immune system. Short chain fatty acids, reverse leaky gut,you know, which is, I mean dysbiosis. That is the root cause of these digestive issuesthat I take care of on a daily basis. They directly prevent colon cancer. They lower our cholesterol and they prevent and reverseinsulin resistance, which is Type II Diabetes. They travel throughout the entire bodyhaving their human effects. We think that they can actuallyreverse coronary artery disease. We think that they can actually repairthe blood brain barrier for people that have brain fog. They actually travel into the brainthrough the blood brain barrier and they have their effects. They affect our mood, our memory,they affect, I mean believe it or not,we have studies that suggestthat they prevent Alzheimer’s disease. These are incredibly powerful. And the way that you get them is through the consumptionof fiber in your diet. And here’s the problem. 97% of Americans are not getting an adequate amountof fiber in their diet. And that’s creating issues for us. Everybody is worried about their protein intakebut they don’t give a second thought to their fiber intake. 97% of people are fiber deficient. I mean, that’s a shocking statistic. You know, and that’s what the most standards. I mean the expectation or the standard that we’re holdingis 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men. And the average American is somewherein the 15 to 18 gram range. And you know, Rich, let me ask you a question. I’m just curious. So I know you eat a very healthy diet. If you had to estimate in a given week,how many plants do you think you have in your diet?Give me a general idea. I mean it’s going to be higher than mostbut it can’t be more than, I mean, 30, 40. Okay, and I would challenge the peoplelistening at home right now. Like if you have to hit the pause button,take a minute and think about how many plantsyou actually have in your diet. So most Americans are definitely less than 30. The majority are around 15 to 20. There are literally 300,000 edible plants on the planet. The problem is that we’ve narrowed it downto the point where 75% of our diet is from three of them. You know, and we’re ignoring this diversity. You know, we’ve put pressure, unfortunatelyon our farmers where the farmer has no choicebut to opt for high yield breeds of crops. We are narrowing down the biodiversity within our dietthrough our food systems. If there’s only one thing that you take awayfrom this podcast, listening to ushave this conversation todaythis is what I want you guys to hear. The way that it works is this, fiber is not just fiber. There are millions, if not billionsof types of fiber in nature. It’s so incredibly complicated from a chemistryperspective that we’re not even capableof creating an estimate to how many typesof fiber there are. But every single plan has its own unique types of fiber. Multiple different types within that plant. Every single plant is going to have prebiotic fiberthat feeds the microbiome. This is their preferred food, these prebiotic fibers. And the key is that they are picky eaters. They’re like us, you have different food preferencesthan I do, even though I’m surethat many people would label us as having the same diet. You eat differently than I do. We have our own preferences and they do too. They have specific food preferencesin terms of the different types of fiber. You know, to put in the perspective, take a black bean. You give these microbes a black bean,and there are certain specific speciesthat are going to multiply and thrive. And they’re going to be stronger and be more prepared tohelp you because you just fed that they are energized,but the opposite is true. You take that black bean away,you say I’m going black bean free,those same microbes that were thrivingbecause you were feeding them, are starving. Right. And they’re not getting what they need. And so the point is we want as much diversity as possible,and that’s the critical piece. Eating as many different things as possibleand getting out of your comfort zone a little bit. And I think that what you’re saying essentially isthat the more that you’re in the practice of doing thatit’s almost like an insurance policythat you’re taking out for your gut health. You’re seeding your gut with the biotathat will then ultimately be able to grow and thrive. The more that you’re feeding it, those types of plants. Yeah. Every single plant has its own unique types of fiber. That’s what I’ve been talking aboutfor the last few minutes, but there’s so much more. Every single plant has vitamins minerals, phytochemicals. These are the unique chemicals that you will findin plant foods exclusive to plant foods. That’s what phyto means. There’s at least 8,000 of them. Very few of them have we actually studied. An example of one is resveratrol. So you hear about resveratrol,you know, resveratrol is capableof actually changing the microbiome by itself. You know, David Sinclair in “Lifespan” talksabout resveratrol and its benefits for healthy aging. And this is just one exampleof one phytochemical that you will find in these plants. And the other thing, by the way, that’s kind of interesting,most people don’t realize this,the plants have a microbiome of their own. Every single life on this planeteither has a microbiome or is a part of the microbiome. And depending on how you choose to zoom outyou could almost make the argument that us humansare a part of a larger microbiome in a way,which is planetary health and the way that it all functions. But these plants have their own microbiome. If you take an apple, for examplecause we have a study that shows this,the Apple has a microbiome that is therefrom like literally the seed through the flowerand all the way through to the fruit. And that microbiome is dynamically evolvingand changing and helping this to actuallythis transformational process to occur. And the apple has literallyover 1,000 species of microbes, more than us humans doand hunt potentially 100 million microbes. When you eat an Apple, you’re getting the fiber,you’re getting the phytochemicals of which there are manyyou’re getting the vitamins and the mineralsand you’re even getting the microbiomethat the apple contains. Right, wow. And so each plant has a story like that. Each plant has something positivethat it wants to bring to your health. Every single one wants to bring something to your health. Yeah, and what’s interestingabout the work that you do is that it’s not aboutreducing certain things. You’re talking about what you’re building,like what you’re at. It’s very additive like this whole diversificationof your diet is about building new things into your dietas opposed to focusing on what we’re removing. I feel like it’s easily applicablebut conceptually extremely sound like from my perspective50 years from now,this is still going to be the best way to eatto consume a broad variety of plants,to be as predominantly plant-based as possible. You know and I wrote the book, Rich,to meet people where they are. So, you know, when you say,well you’re not originally inherent to any particular dietI want people to be 90% to 100% plant based. That’s what we find in the blue zones. That’s what I thinkfrom a nutritional perspective is the highest quality diet. And I do think that when people get to be 90%, plant-basedthey’re going to feel so good. They’re going to want to keep going. But I also think that there’s an argumentthat goes beyond nutrition and talks aboutthe health of our planetand talks about, you know, the compassion for these animals. And I think that those should be a part of the conversationeven if they are not directly human nutrition. I think the COVID-19 has taught usthat when we abuse this planet, we may abuse these animals. I kind of feel like it’s going to fight back. It’s beautifully put. And that just speaks to the interrelationship of everything. You can’t talk about the microbiomewithout referencing the macrobiome. The health of our gut is relatedto the health of the planet and vice versa. The soil health connects to human health. You know, the health of our soilwhich is the source of our nutrients is critically importantto human populations moving forward. I have children and I am scaredof what this planet looks like 100 years from nowwhen you consider what it looks like today compared to 1920. And the reality is thatwe need to just look at population. Right now, we have 7 billion people. In 2050 we will have 10 billion people. Consider that in 1900, there were only 2 billion people. Consider that an 1800 there was only 1 billion people. We’re going to have 10 times the population in 250 years. And that’s putting a strain on the environment,on our planet. A strain on these animals. Biodiversity is the word it’s critical to our gut health. It’s critical to planetary health and it needs to be upheld. Thanks for listening everybody. Hope you enjoyed this first in what we are planningwill be a series of topicsspecific, Deep Dives that we intend to drip outover the course of the coming year. As I mentioned in the introduction linksto the full episodes for today’s featured guestscan be found in the show noteson the [email protected]. com. If you would like to support the podcast,the easiest and most impactful thing you can dois to subscribe to the show on Apple podcasts, Spotifyand YouTube. Sharing the show, or your favorite episodewith friends or on social media is of coursealways appreciated. That’s amazing. And finally, for podcast updates, special offers on books”The Meal Planner” and other subjects,subscribe to our newsletter,which you can find on the footer of [email protected]. com. Today’s show was produced and engineered by Jason Camiolo. 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