Dr. Will Cole And Ashley James
- Dr. Will Cole’s path to Functional Medicine
- Stress and autoimmune diseases
- The non-food factors that affect our biochemistry
- How can people figure out what’s the best diet for them
- Inflammation from a Functional Medicine perspective
- Dr. Will Cole’s Functional Medicine group
- Dr. Will Cole’s Books: Ketotarian and Inflammation Spectrum
In this episode, Dr. Will Cole will share with us about the effects of stress in our body and how it can potentially develop an autoimmune disease. He will also share with us his list of the non-food factors that affect our body chemistry.
Hello, true health seeker and welcome to another exciting episode of the Learn True Health podcast. You’re going to love today’s interview with Dr. Will Cole who is a Functional Medicine expert. He shares some amazing information.
Before we start today’s interview, I want to let you know about a few things; one, come join our Facebook group Learn True Health, just search it on Facebook. Or you can go to www.learntruehealth.com/group. And it’ll direct you straight to the group. You know, we do lots of giveaways. In fact, one of the guests I just had on is giving away I believe five copies of his book, which is so cool. So please jump into the Facebook group. We’re doing giveaways every month. Most of the time it’s books from the authors but sometimes they give away their supplements. We had Clint Ober giveaway five grounding mats that was so generous of him. So come join the Facebook group. And also join us for the conversations and the support. There’s so many great conversations going on right now. The whole community comes together and helps to support each other around questions like hormone testing, and diet and what kind of cleaners do you use in your home that are non toxic and what kind of shampoos and conditioners are effective, but also non toxic? So we have these great conversations. Please join us Learn True Health in Facebook.
And one thing that Dr. Will Cole talks about today, briefly but very important point is the importance of sleep when it comes to decreasing inflammation. That’s something that you probably have heard before if you’ve listened to the show for any amount of times because it’s the truth. If we have poor sleep, our immune system can become affected, our blood sugar can go out of balance. Those who even test their blood sugars will see that poor nights of sleep will lead to higher blood sugar. You will notice that people who have poor sleep will eat more calories during the day and have more cravings and also experience more inflammation. If you know that sleep is an issue for you and you want better quality sleep, please go to www.learntruehealth.com/bed, that’s www.learntruehealth.com/bed and check out the two videos there – educational videos on how to select the best non-toxic mattress and the science behind it. This company wowed me. It’s the best sleep I’ve ever had. I really, really enjoy it. And since I’ve been talking about it the last month, some listeners have actually gotten back to me and they’ve told me that they too bought the same mattress that I did and they fell in love. That is the best lead that they’ve ever had. So I’m not alone in this people are getting better sleep because I told them about this mattress. So go to www.learntruehealth.com/bed and watch the two educational videos to inform yourself on how to make sure that you’re selecting the best non-toxic bed for you and for your family. You’ll be really glad you did. Excellent. Well enjoy today’s interview.
[3:06] Ashley James: Welcome to the Learn True Health Podcast. I’m your host Ashley James. This is Episode 373.
I am so excited for today’s guest. We have with us Dr. Will Cole who’s a Functional Medicine doctor. He wrote the book Ketotarian which is the green way to do keto. I bought his book back when I was exploring the keto diet, specifically wanting to do it without needing to eat meat or dairy, which I’m very allergic to dairy. And I wanted to explore how could I help my body be healthy. And I loved his book, he was so down to earth and by the time I was finished chapter when I was like I need to have him on the show. It’s so good to have you here Dr. Cole.
[4:00] Dr. Will Cole: Thank you so much for having me and these kind words about Ketotarian. It means a lot to me. Thank you.
[4:06] Ashley James: Absolutely. Now, you have a book coming out called the Inflammation Spectrum. And you know, it’s kind of a buzzword, everyone in the holistic space is talking about inflammation. But not many people know what it is or you know why it’s so important to prevent it. And when we have it Why is it so important to reduce it and support the body in being in a low inflamed state basically. So we’re going to get into that. You also see that there is a connection between autoimmunity and inflammation which is pervasive, and so many people are talking about, but you have a very unique perspective because you help people heal with diet, whereas so many doctors don’t. So I’m excited to get into that. But first I want to hear a bit about you and understand your path. What happened in your life that led you to want to become a doctor and want to focus on Functional Medicine.
[5:07] Dr. Will Cole: Yes. So my journey happened, started a long time ago in a faraway land in rural Pennsylvania, where I’m actually based back now, I live outside of Pittsburgh, and I grew up in the countryside. And my parents were into wellness before it was cool, before it was Instagram, sexy with glossy like photos with nice filters. And they’re pretty like, you know, organic meal of their favorite organic restaurant. It was not cool actually at all to eat very healthy in the 80s and 90s especially as a kid. Even today, it’s probably even worse. But I mean, there was no internet, there was no health culture in that way in Pittsburgh, which was like a working class city, it wasn’t Abbot Kinney or the Lower East Side. It was quite like hamburgers, hotdogs mac and cheese. So I had the weird adaptogenic tonics and the raw grass fed goat crane, and all this stuff that my friends were like, “What the heck is this kid bringing into the school? So that was my foundation as far as going to the health food store and understanding the food industry on an age appropriate level. Like I just kind of knew like this was healthy food, that was not healthy food. My parents had a garden like that, that was normal for me. And my dad owned a gym when I was little. So I remember spending time there as a little kid, and he was in the healthcare like natural health care world. So I spend time at his clinic. And that was really a formative time for me. And then it turned to be blessed, my mom did it. My dad did it. They were interested in health and I owned it for myself as a teenager, and I knew I owned it for myself. At that point, my diet kind of evolved from a crunchy organic healthy sort of approach to more of a conventional vegan diet for about 10 years.
And you mentioned Ketotarian and I talked about it in Ketotarian. But my journey from being a conventional vegan to a Ketotarian which is still mostly plant based, but I brought in some specific food medicines. And then it was this high clean fat, low carb, clean keto way of eating. And that also was simultaneous of my diet evolution, was also me being formally trained in Functional Medicine. So I have already mean conditions on both sides of my family like my extended family. And I myself have the MTHFR gene (SNP) snip, which is basically a gene (SNP) snip. I mean, most of your listeners will know this, all the fellow health nerds out there, but for people that don’t know it’s the gene that makes the enzyme that converts folic acid into folate which is a methyl donor, or CH3 carbon hydrogen group that recycles homocysteine down to methionine, and does a lot of other cool things. It basically makes for healthy detox pathways and hormones and protects our DNA against cancer and other horrible things. So methylation is really important. And the MTH of our gene is a one major aspect of methylation, which is this big, fancy superhighway that happens a billion times every second in our body. So basically my gene isn’t that good at making this enzyme. So there’s a high correlation between the MTHFR genes (SNP) snip or gene chain variant that we get from our parents and our family and autoimmune spectrum issues. So meaning different types of autoimmunity. And then that’s when I was also formally trained in Functional Medicine. I was at Southern California University of Health Sciences, which is sort of an integrative health, natural healthcare university, where MDs and DCs and LACs and Naturopaths and Nurse Practitioners are all there learning their craft within an alternative healthcare. And there was a guy who had gone to my school who was older than I was, his name was [Inaudible 9:30] and he’s still today [Inaudible 6:40] and anyone in this space will tell you he’s one of the like, godfathers of functional medicine, brilliant mind. And he really inspired me to seek Functional Medicine as a targeted field, instead of this broader natural health.
Yes, I wanted to get people healthy. But specific with Functional Medicine, which what appeal to me so much was this marrying of the best of alternative health, which is actually getting somebody healthy, with the evidence based nature, which my school is naturally very evidence based anyways. But just putting it from a lab perspective, and running the blood labs, running and the microbiome test, running the genetic tests, running the hormone tests to look at these clinical data, these diagnostic pieces to the puzzle that explain why somebody feels the way that you do. So when I saw autoimmune conditions on my mom’s side, and my dad’s side, like, “Look, I need to do whatever I can for myself, to take care of myself.” But then also I just got married at that time, we were going to have a baby. And I started thinking not just as a functional medicine doctor, not just as a human being, but also as a husband and a dad, and me taking responsibility for my health in a deeper way. So that was really all collided in this beautiful sort of series of events that led me to getting into Functional Medicine formally. And now all these years later, I see patients around the world, I primarily have a virtual clinic, and I get to talk to people about these things, about these lab issues and give them a Functional Medicine perspective on the things that I know, and I’ve seen transform my own life, transformed my family’s life, and in my patients lives.
[11:28] Ashley James: At what point did you know that you had the MTHFR (SNP) snip?
[11:35] Dr. Will Cole: Early 23andMe years. So it’s been a while. Yeah, so we brought the raw gene data from 23andMe.
[11:43] Ashley James: Got it. And so that was like way early on, when not many people knew about MTHFR and methylation So you’re kind of in there, like a pioneer?
[11:56] Dr. Will Cole: Yeah. I didn’t think of it like that. But definitely, when we started with Function Medicine, there was people, it was crazy. I mean, this is over a decade ago, but people were saying, “What are you talking about?” Like, this is crazy. “You can’t reverse diabetes, diet can impact your blood sugar.” “You’re crazy.” “You’re leading people on.” But it’s like, actually no, if you look at the research, and you look at this amazing evidence that we’re at the forefront of there’s so much power that we wield specific to methylation. There’s older 23andMe test, you can get so much more in the raw gene data that they can’t get. Now, there’s a lot of like, no calls on these genes, they’ve cut down a lot. Like when I look at 23andMe. Now, I can’t get all the same data, it’s not public, at least on the same reports, I don’t know how they do that with 23andMe, and why there’s so much regulations on these things in there. And we’re at the, again, the forefront of gene data and what that means from a privacy standpoint, and what they’re going to release and how they can say it and all this stuff. So it is an interesting field. But we are using the best data that we have at this moment. And it’s an ever growing and evolving field, to really say what are the action steps, there’s a lot of data out there that there’s not really any significant action steps. But my job is to kind of cut through the confusion of saying what are the things that are going to wield the most power to really make a positive impact in their quality of life and how they feel. But also how can we get these lives looking better? So yeah, it’s it’s exciting for me.
[13:31] Ashley James: Got it. How popular would you say the MTHFR (SNP) snip is in our population? Like as you work with people, what kind of a percentage do you see?
[13:41] Dr. Will Cole: While there’s data to show that it’s about 40% of the population has at least two heterozygous snip or one single gene change (SNP) snip stands for single nucleotide polymorphism, and a gene variant. I mean, we loosely use the word mutation, like the MTHFR mutation and gene mutation. It actually isn’t a mutation, it’s gene variant, or snip SNP, that we get a copy from my mom, I copy from my dad. And you can have a heterozygous gene snip, or homozygous gene snip, single or double gene snip or gene variant. So I have a double snip at the MTHFR C6770 location, which in studies is the more problematic one, when you have a double mutation at the C6770 versus the A1298. Those are the two main ones that are looked at clinically and being clinically relevant. So I’ve seen studies where it’s about 40%. And I would say statistically, I’m not talking to the average population. Normally, I’m talking to people with some sort of autoimmunity, some sort of inflammatory issues, some sort of hormonal problem, some sort of digestive issue, I would say, our population of patients that we see it’s a higher percentage than that. But I realized I’m not talking just the average person on the streets. So I would say 40% is probably a good indicator here. And that’s the bigger point here that I think that you brought up and directly is that these gene variants have been around for 10,000 years. I mean, majority, almost all of our genes have remained unchanged largely in 10,000 years. So it’s not the gene variant, like MTHFR Gene snips, that’s the new kid on the block. Again, these things have been around for a long time. But what is different is the amount of stress we’re putting our genes under. So that is what’s dramatically changed in a very short period of time when you’re looking at the totality of human history. So that’s awakening and triggering these genetic predispositions like never before in human history.
Now, when you look at the rise of autoimmune conditions, like you opened up the conversation with 50 million Americans, it’s expected to have an autoimmune condition and millions more that are somewhere on this inflammation spectrum, which is why I wanted to write the book, my second book on that topic, because of this sort of far reaching implications of this continuum of inflammatory cascades. And how much it impacts our life as a modern society. So it’s quite a compelling topic to be explored and to be talked about, and to take what information we know now to start empowering people’s lives because we have to do something different to see something different. And what we’re doing as a society, I mean we both know this, and everybody, most of the people listening will know this too. It’s unsustainable, how we’re doing life largely in the West as far as healthcare is concerned, and our relationship with food and nature and all of that stuff. We have to do something different to see something different. So all that to say is that our genes are not what’s changed. Yes, MTHFR and looking at these other gene snips like MTRR and the COMT and VDR, and all this fancy science stuff that I look at for patients to really further personalized recommendations. Yes, it’s important, but it’s only a slice of the puzzle. Research estimates that it’s about a third of this autoimmune puzzle is genetics. So yes, we have to look at genetics, but two thirds is epigenetics. This is the stuff that’s triggering these genetic predispositions. So it’s the foods we’re eating, or the foods we’re not eating, it’s our stress levels, our exposure to toxins, our lack of sleep, or lack of movement, or too much movement, it’s the lack of balance. How can we find balance to be in alignment with our biochemistry, which again, is largely unchanged for 10,000 years? So that’s really the heart of my work, it’s really, largely an ancestral health perspective, at least informing me on a lot of things. So yeah, that’s my thoughts on it.
[17:46] Ashley James: I love it that you brought up epigenetics that was my next question. This idea, which is, it feels just as new as sort of understanding the snips, this genetic variants. This idea that we’ve actually seen, our genetic expressions turn on and off in one lifetime, based on a set of stressors, or nutrients being present or being missing. There was this really cool test with mice where they exposed these little cute, fuzzy, soft white mice to Bisphenol A, the compound that people get exposed to every time I touch receipts, for example. And that it so messed with their genes that their hair started falling out and their hair became yellow, they became obese. It changed their genes because it got passed down for two generations after the one exposure before it corrected itself. So this is what we’re being exposed to. We’re touching Bisphenol A every day and getting exposed to these endocrine disruptors and obesogens that can affect our genes or genetic expression. And Dr. Joel Wallach wrote a book about epigenetics a few years ago that blew my mind talking about how we can see genes turn on and off, the expressions turn off based on whether there’s nutrient deficiencies or not. So with that being said, is there a way to help stabilize or correct MTHFR variants or is it baked into the cake, and there’s absolutely no way to epigenetically change it?
[19:45] Dr. Will Cole: So yeah, we can’t change our genes. But by knowing these gene snips, the analogy that I use is the cup analogy. Some people have small cups, and some people have big cups. In the more gene snips, you have the more gene variants to methylation or gene variants to detoxification, or the endocannabinoid system. These are determining how big or how small your cup is, we can’t change that. Some people are born with really small cups, meaning that they’re going to overflow, their tipping points going to be a lot smaller than someone with a big cup. So some people can smoke three packs a day and don’t take care of themselves, eat like crap, and like all the stuff, right? And they live a long life. And they’re like, “How the heck can they get away with all this, when I’m trying to like do all this good, healthy wellness stuff, and I’m getting flare ups over salad.” or like high FODMAPS or something seemingly healthy, that’s these health foods are causing me having digestive or autoimmune flare ups, etc. So this has largely to do with the epigenetic sort of component here as the genetics is the cup, the epigenetics are what we are filling in the cup. And some people, it’s sad, I mean you can’t change your genetics, but it’s overflowing quite easily. You can’t change that. But you can change what you put in the cup, you can change the chronic infections and the exposure to toxins and the gut issues and the food reactivity. You can start to unload the stuff in the cup that’s causing the flare ups and the overflow.
So that’s what my job is to do, is to look at the framework, to look at the methylation gene snips, the detoxification gene snips, the endocannabinoid system gene snips, and then look at what’s filling up that cup. Look at the heavy metals, look at the mold, look at the viral issues, look at the gut issues, look at the hormone imbalances, look at the nutrient deficiencies to your point – and that’s a major one, looking at vitamin D, looking at selenium, looking at iodine, looking at magnesium, looking at zinc. All of these things are important to consider. Because these are the epigenetic factors, our body is alive because of brilliant biochemistry. And all these factors are confluent. It’s a perfect storm of radiant wellness, or a perfect storm of health problems. So, definitely it has to be talked about, but it’s not cutting it to say what mainstream medicine largely says which is, food has nothing to do with this. So that’s just bonkers. And then the other side is, “Well just eat clean.” And it’s like okay, most of my patients eat really clean, and they’re still struggling. So there has to be a nuance to this to beyond the basics, but still like not acknowledging the fact that epigenetics is a thing. And it’s something we need to talk about. And it’s not just about food too, we have to look at non-food factors that influence our biochemistry as well.
[22:43] Ashley James: So what non-food factors affect our biochemistry?
[22:48] Dr. Will Cole: I would say stress and I don’t mean that in the fluffy, like sound by the sort of way where it’s just like meditate more and don’t stress. That can stress people out just hearing that. But I would say being mindful of healthy margins in your life. So and bringing back to this concept of balance, inflammation isn’t inherently bad, it’s a product of our immune system. So we just want balance, it’s the Goldilocks principle, you don’t want inflammation too high. You don’t want inflammations too low, you want to just right at the right time when you need it. And that’s the same way with stress, the human race has been here for a long time, because we can handle a certain amount of grit. So I don’t mean to absolve yourself of all stress, I don’t mean that. That’s quite a millennial thing to think about. And we live in for the most part of human history in Western Civilization, and when you compare it to the rest of human history, we live a pretty stress free life in some regards. We’re not being you know, there’s no massive famines in the West, and things like that. But it’s this insidious, chronic stressor that again, is out of alignment. It’s a mismatch between our genetics and epigenetics, which haven’t changed in 10,000 years genetics, which we get inundated with its amount of stuff. That is this low grade of being chased by a tiger, but there’s no tiger. So it’s this constant fight or flight sympathetic response all the time, which raises inflammation up.
So to answer your question, I would say, stress, but I mean, cultivating healthy margins in your life. And not because I want to look different for different people. Some people can handle more, some people can handle less back to their biological variability there. But it is, what’s your relationship with food? What’s your relationship with your body? What’s your relationship with social media? What’s your relationship with other people – it’s all these things that so many people have, unhealthy or healthy relationships with and calibrating them to find a healthy margin. So you have to look at that, you have to look at sleep, it’s so profoundly important. So I would lump sleep, almost under the stress category, because sleep isn’t a luxury. It’s not like I’ll sleep when I’m dead, people say that. Sleep is a mandate on your health, it is necessary. So the amount of lack of sleep is really an epidemic in our society. People are staying up too late. They’re on electronics too late. It’s impacting their circadian rhythm. It’s interrupted sleep. The amount of sleep apnea and poor sleep and just electronics impacting circadian rhythm are huge impediments to people healing through the night and restoring in their cells, rejuvenating through the night to get quality restorative sleep. So then that’s throwing off there. Again, they’re inflammation cascades in their circadian rhythm and their hormones. So that’s huge. Looking at stress, looking at technology, looking at sleep – that is a major part of it, that has nothing to do with food. So we have to look at that, we have to look at environmental toxins, we have to look at what is the product that people using, you mentioned BPA, you have to look at what cleaning products, what’s the skin products that people are using, what are the laundry detergent things that people are using. Largely it’s unregulated, like Wild Wild West, we don’t really know what this is going to do to our wellness, but hey, let’s buy it. And then in the United States, at least, a lot of the chemicals are actually illegal in other countries, but yet we can get them in the United States.
So we have to educate. And again, this is so important, the dichotomy of this conversation is to inform, but don’t obsess and stress out. Because I find that this is an endless vortex of like a pit of controlling everything, which is not good for your health. But yet still being balanced and informed you say, I’m going to do what I can to clean up my life. So I don’t want to be a fear monger or make people like freak out and live in a bubble. But you do the best you can and then you don’t stress about the rest. So the things that I bring up in the inflammation spectrum, the book, to start educating people to start realizing how these things impact our biochemistry.
[27:19] Ashley James: I love it. It was just reminding me how obsessed I’d become about clean food, clean eating, cleaning products. Making sure everything’s chemical free, natural. And then you know, I’m cooking every meal for our family. And I just want a break I just want to go out to a restaurant and relax. And so I pick a restaurant, I’m like, “We’re gonna go, we’re gonna have a nice night out.” As we’re driving my husband’s like, “Well, what if it’s not organic?” Like, “What about the pesticides?” I’m like, “Okay, one night at a restaurant, because I need to destress and have a fun night with my family.” But I mean, we picked the healthiest restaurant possible. And it’s funny that it’s like that one that you could always obsess. You know, “What about this?” What about that?” You know what, the benefit of me having a night off from cooking is going to far outweigh the potential small amount of pesticides that I’m going to be exposed to tonight. So we don’t want to make excuses like eat at McDonald’s, because that’s decreasing my stress. No, we need to still make really healthy choices. But we don’t want to scare ourselves into having stress around our choices.
[28:42] Dr. Will Cole: Totally. And I see it’s oftentimes to that example, people that eat a little bit off of what they normally would eat. And even I would say going off of it more than they would ever. And they actually feel better because they aren’t stressing. So I definitely, like you said it’s a balance. And if you are then trading in like you’re eating clean, but then you’re like serving your body a big slice of stress every day and anxiety about every day. That’s junk food for your soul. So it’s counteracting all the good things you’re doing. And I get it, we’re living in an information overload age. That is a double edged sword. It’s great. It’s connecting us right now, or it’s how we’re connecting to people around the world right now. But it also is this endless vortex, I think I wrote about it in Ketotarian, this endless vortex of conflicting information. And Dr. Google is a very fickle, fickle man. And we have to be mindful of the fact that we can have paralysis of analysis where people are just basically paralyzed with fear and anxiety because they know too much. And they need to know what they need to know. But then they need to be able to manifest it in a way that’s not going to destroy their quality of life. So I think a good part of people having a functional medicine practitioner in their life, is we can sort of break down what’s relevant for them and say, “Look, this stuff, you don’t really need to know, what’s the basics for you, and what’s relevant for you.” So you can cut through the food confusion and the shame and the stress that can come along with all of this, navigating through this – a lot of great information. But again, there’s a lot of good then a lot of overload too. So it’s trying to break it down for the individual. So that’s it to say that food is important. But our relationship with food is important as well.
[30:43] Ashley James: How can people figure out the best diet for them? Is there one diet fits all? Like, is eating a whole foods, plant based diet best for everyone and everyone thrives on it? Or there’s some people who would thrive on like an all meat diet? I know that sounds really extreme. But have you found that everyone thrives on eating ketotarian for example, or eating a whole foods plant based where there’s no processed fats? Or it really does depend on genetics and it depends on the person’s disease state at the moment? What have you found when it comes to helping people dial in the perfect diet for them?
[31:27] Dr. Will Cole: That’s a great question. So I would say this, when I wrote Ketotarian, and that was my own journey. And what I’ve seen over my years of I’ve seen patients of how to do keto and lower carb diets, the clean way and mostly plant based or entirely plant based way. But I know if I’m putting my Functional Medicine Hat on, I know even within the paradigm of keto or plant based or Ketotarian and a whole 30, or paleo or carnivore, Mediterranean or whatever, I realized that the types of food choices that you give somebody underneath that umbrella of whatever you want to call at that moment, is going to be different for person to person. So the umbrella changes, meaning what types of foods to focus on, but also what you’re focusing on within that diet paradigm. So I’ve seen every variable under the sun, what works for one person can flare the next person up. When you’re talking about intestinal permeability, or leaky gut syndrome or SIBO or histamine intolerance, or food sensitivities, or reactivities, and preferences and stress about food and all these other variables, there’s so many variables to consider when you’re dealing with somebody that doesn’t feel good. And we’re using food to improve their quality of life to consider.
So I have patients that are on carnivore protocols, and you would think the author of Ketotarian and why would I have a patient on a carnivore diet, because my allegiance is to the patient feeling better. And for a time, we use things like the carnivore diet, it’s the ultimate elimination diet. We’re removing basically every variable out there. So we have them on specific macronutrients, which are still predominantly fats with lower protein to still provide that. I don’t want excess protein which can impact mTOR which is the pathway that you don’t want long term to be activated. And they’re not on carnivore for long term. The goal is to start down regulating these food reactivities. These are people with multiple food reactivities, it’s not for everybody, but for a time we are using it to down regulate these overreactions to things like histamines or oxalate or salicylates, these compounds in plant foods, because of intestinal permeability, and this rise of inflammation that they’re having. And then to start reintroducing foods as we’re healing the gut. And then we have patients that would never do well on a carnivore diet at all, whether it’s their biochemistry, let’s say they have APOE gene snip, the have APOE 44, they have APOE A2 gene variant, these are two gene variants that in high saturated fats, they wouldn’t do well at all on the carnivore diet. So we’re looking at their gene snips and what’s going on in their body. And we’re putting them on a ketotarian diet and they’re doing fantastic. They like eating more plant centric ways, they feel more fresh, more clean, more lighter eating that way.
So it works with a preference, but also with their genetics and biochemistry. And we’re really improving their cholesterol markers, and it looks fantastic. So and then what works for that person in that moment may not be what they’re doing forever and ever because their health is dynamic, their biochemistry is dynamic, and variable. So if I hung my hat on one way to do something all day long, I’d be proven wrong all day long seeing patients. So I have to keep an open mind to seeing what’s your health history and looking at it comprehensively, looking at their labs, listening to the as a human being and what they’re going through. And then using real life as a lab and what works and what doesn’t, and tracking food logs and symptoms and correlating that. So that is really the truth. And that is really what birthed the concept of my second book, the Inflammation Spectrum. Because the whole concept is finding out what your body loves, what your body hates, and what your body needs to thrive. And that’s what it’s all about, because we’re using food as a template to calm inflammation. But then we’re reintroducing these foods that are more problematic for some people, but may not be problematic for you.
So I want to allow people to be more mindful and conscious of how foods impact how they feel. And I promise you, you have 10,000 readers, you will have 10,000 different variables, because they’re all be slightly different, even slightly different, they may not be major different, but then you may see major differences. So it is so beautiful and one way because we’re also created so beautifully different. But at the same time, it can be beautifully overwhelming. So hopefully through the book, my goal was to just cut through that food confusion and just lay it out. So people can start bringing these Functional Medicine principles into their life.
[36:14] Ashley James: You talk about different gene variants and how one person with this gene expression or gene snip would do better eating this way versus that way. Or you could look at someone’s genetic expressions and know that they are having a difficult time with processing toxins, their cup is small. And so you’d be able to give them advice around diet and detoxification and helping clear up detoxification pathways. But for those who have never had genetic testing, they don’t know where to even start. I myself want to get more genetic testing, but I’m worried about my results being sold to drug companies. We hear about this happen all the time. How do you address this with your patients? Are there labs that you recommend that promise to protect our genes and keep them safe, keep the results safe from the companies that want to buy them?
[37:20] Dr. Will Cole: That is definitely a concern for a lot of people. More I would say in the last couple years than it was back in the day look. I sold my gene data to 23andMe back in the day. So the drug companies probably have mine jeans by this point. But I would say in all seriousness, it is a concern, it is something that is a real potential. I think that that is a lot of the financial interests in a lot of these big geno like tech companies that they are looking to design drugs to be better or to market to certain people or to understand demographics and different gene variants and looking at the data. And I don’t necessarily think it’s all nefarious, I think there can be unintended consequences from it that are not positive. But I don’t think it’s necessarily all negative because of the one side of it as well, we’re looking to better improve whatever… I’m trying to be [Inaudible 38:21] be so conspiracy theory bait, but I would say that the reality is there can be definitely unintended consequences, and it could definitely be a breach of privacy that I think is a problem. I think that at this point, there’s no major cause for concern to go through something like 23andMe. I mean you can use the raw gene data on something like Prometheus or StrataGene or Genetic Genie or something like that.
But the other side of it, there are many Functional Medicine labs out there that will look at methylation gene snips that I do trust more than these big companies. So things like; people like doctors data, and there’s other ones out there that will look at those gene snips that are privately owned, they are smaller labs, they’re in the space of Functional Medicine, they’re not in the space of big pharma. Generally what I would do is if someone did have concerns about making their genetic data public to 23andMe or something like it, then the alternative would be to go to one of the smaller labs that we could still get that same data. It normally is a little bit more expensive. But so if the price point is an issue that they would probably be better off going on through 23andMe or something like that. But oftentimes, they would rather spend a little bit more and get like there are more security, which is completely understandable.
And to be honest with you in full candor, in hindsight, I would probably do the more the local private Functional Medicine lab over 23andMe as well. Because I think that there are unintended consequences to things like that. Down the road, not now. Not now. Everything’s fine now, but down the road, they have the full legal right for your genetic data. But you know, there’s no reason for it to be alarmed now. But if I had to pick between the two, I probably spend a little bit more on the one that’s not saying they’re going to use your gene data for other purposes.
[40:32] Ashley James: Right. Right. Well, so there’s a lot of options, which there weren’t back then, there are now which is really exciting. Man, this is such a crazy world. You know, when we look at getting a PhD, for example, you have to be peer reviewed. So it’s very difficult to think outside the box and challenge the status quo when you’re getting a PhD, because if you challenge the status quo too much, your thesis will be rejected. You have to still be, you know, peer reviewed, right? You have to be accepted by your peers. And that’s how science march us slowly forward. Even things that get published, studies that get published need to be, or the journals, you know, publish these case studies. Journals reject amazing case studies all the time, because it goes outside of the norm or the status quo. So we look at the MD allopathic model. And it is designed the way it was even if you look at the history of allopathic medicine, it is about protecting the interests of big pharma, protecting the interests of drug based medicine, and Functional Medicine is coming along. And Functional Medicine isn’t rejecting drugs, but it’s looking at how we can best serve the person and use the best tool that’s needed, oftentimes not a drug. But if there’s a drug that’s needed, then fine. But that is still very threatening to the standard allopathic medical system, which says that there’s no relationship between diet and health, you’re looking to help people get healthy. So have you come up against any friction? As you’re practicing functional medicine, have you come up against friction from the allopathic mainstream world?
[42:39] Dr. Will Cole: Generally speaking, no. I think what I’m putting out into the world, and what I want to continue to put out in this world is that we should be on the side of the person that’s dealing with the health issues and our collective health as a society. So I would say, oftentimes, what to use as a spiritual principle, what you resist persists. So I feel like my whole ethos of what I’m putting out there is, “Let’s come together, how can we make people feel great, and I’m not anti medication.” Like you said. My job is to find what’s your most effective option that causes you the least amount of side effects. And certainly, some people are alive because of medications. And there are life saving advancements in medications and life saving surgical interventions.
My question is, what is our most effective options that causes you the least amount of side effects, if a medication is the only thing that’s given, and yet there are more conservative, safer little to no, most of the time, no side effects of getting healthy and using food as medicine. This is not radical stuff. This is not things that should be scary to the status quo. If anything, we would live a more vibrant, productive, healthy, long life. And yes, on one level, it looks like we’re you know, if someone’s off of medications, that’s not good for the pharmaceutical industry. So on one level, I guess it could be threatening to the bottom line, but an industry that’s depending on someone being sick, we have to change the paradigm of how we’re even relating to that industry. Because it shouldn’t be just sick care, it should be let’s come together to get healthy. This is why people get into healthcare.
Every doctor takes the Hippocratic oath, well, let’s start doing that. And really just first do no harm. Let’s think about that. Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine thy food.” And he also said all disease begins in the gut. So really, Functional Medicine isn’t new at all. It’s actually just Hippocratic healthcare back to the original. But we’re using the amazing advancements of science that we know today, as far as diagnostic testing, to find these common underlying facets like microbiome health and genetics and hormone imbalances. It’s to be as evidence based we can, but still stick to our Hippocratic oath. That’s all Functional Medicine is. So I don’t get a lot of blowback or negativity from mainstream medicine. I think because I’m just pointing out let’s come together, there’s a place for medications, there’s certainly a place for surgery, there’s a place for Functional Medicine, there’s enough people out there that need help. And this should not be us threatening them. And this should not be us being threatened by them.
So I would say that’s my position on it and, and ultimately, I think that, with that said, there are still people that are negative. I see it once in a while on Twitter. Twitter’s like the armpit of social media. I love Twitter, as far as like getting news, like I love Twitter feeds and things that are trending, I think it’s so great. But the amount of dogmatic, like dark bullying, is so disturbing on a deep level, on so many levels, and it’s not good. And not to get too political, but I think that’s why the President knows that. He puts out a tweet. And it feeds this negativity on social media. And that’s just one aspect of it. He didn’t start the negativity. It’s been there for years. But it is like the social media platform that’s amazing, but also, it’s this weird dichotomy. It’s great data, it’s information really easy to read, and it’s trending and connects people. But it’s also these armies of trolls, that are mean, they’re really nasty and mean. And it’s not logical, you can’t even engage in that with them. So when I see it, I just normally just put it away. But that’s few and far between. The overwhelming majority of I mean, look, the Cleveland Clinic has a Functional Medicine health center now. I mean, you can’t get more mainstream than the Cleveland Clinic they made amazing advancements in technology and healthcare, they have a Functional Medicine center. So for people that are still behind the times, and saying somehow Functional Medicine is quackery, or talking about it just is nonsense. The reality if the Cleveland Clinic is realizing there’s a place for Functional Medicine, why aren’t you? How evidence based are you? Are you going against what the Cleveland Clinic is saying? And other hospitals too, not just the Cleveland Clinic, but a lot of mainstream are bringing in integrative and Functional Medicine. And that’s exactly what we’ve been talking about for the past 10 years myself, and many other people in functional medicine have been. So this is nothing new, I think they’re just catching on. Because we have to do something different to see something different. And you can’t look at the level of chronic disease we see as a society and the amount of money we’re spending on it. We spend more on healthcare than the next 10 top spending countries combined. Yet we have the shortest lifespan of all industrialized nations, yet we have the most disease, the rate of maternal death and infant death is abysmal compared to other industrialized nations, yet, we have all this at our fingertips.
Well, we have to start looking at how can we be more effective and cause people lower amount of side effects. So let’s just be open. When healthcare or medicine becomes a religion, you’re exactly like the religious radicals, but your religion is medicine, your god is medicine. And you’re putting your false god before people. And that’s a sad place to be in. And that’s where a lot of these people that are trolls, they are. Their god is their beliefs and their radicalized to the point of treating people horribly. And that’s a sad place to be at. But to me, it has nothing to do with me, and that says more about them than me.
[48:49] Ashley James: Interesting. I just read an article about why there are trolls, why there are people who will lash out and argue and really insult people. Or like if there’s someone puts out a video, and then some troll will come along and just say the most nastiest things about the person. Why is that? The average person is so nice. Why is that? And it has to do with megalomania, where the person is, and maybe I’m saying it wrong, but the person is, they believe that they’re the only person in the world that they don’t have a relationship, that their actions are hurting someone else. Because they believe that they’re the only person in the world. And no one else matters, everyone else is just an object to control.
[49:45] Dr. Will Cole: Yeah. Fascinating.
[49:47] Ashley James: So those people are attracted to social media because they can hide behind the screen and lash out at others. And it feels good to them. And because other people are objects, not humans with feelings that they’re hurting. So I don’t think that the average person goes in and hurts people online. I think it just attracts a type of psychosis. So we just have to be aware that you’re doing the best thing by walking away. Arguing online is not going to solve it. We’re not gonna enlighten anyone because those people believe we’re objects. We’re not actually human beings with feelings.
[50:27] Dr. Will Cole: Amen.
[50:28] Ashley James: Yeah. So, we just walk away. And we if we want to help people, we have enlightened loving conversations in person. You know, that’s the best way to do it. Because then we can enforce our boundaries healthfully. But you’re right in social media it can be wonderful. And then when it’s not we need to put it away to manage our stress. That is the healthiest. That’s the healthiest choice for us. And I love that you called functional medicine Hippocratic medicine, that’s a really great way of putting it. I love it. For those who’ve never been to a Functional Medicine practitioner, can you enlighten us? Like, let’s say we walk into your clinic, we’re sitting down with you right now, we’re having our first meeting. What kind of labs do you run that we would not normally have never seen run because we’ve always gone to an allopathic MD?
[51:25] Dr. Will Cole: Yeah. So, it’s really a cool thing because it’s like the Institute for Functional Medicine, IFM which is my self has been trained and my team has been trained with, and they’re the same governing group of training physicians that are also training the doctors at the Cleveland Clinic’s Functional Medicine Center. And most are MDS, most of the doctors like the overwhelming majority are allopathic, the trained medical doctors that didn’t go to an integrative medicine school like myself. It’s interesting, because whereas my training was five years in natural medicines, and lifestyle and diagnostics, and all the same anatomy, physiology, psychology, all that stuff. But from a natural medicine perspective, versus the conventional allopathic doctors that don’t get, I mean, they have next to no training when they leave medical school, from a health and nutrition, there’s studies that actually talked about in the inflammation spectrum, my second book that most doctors in this one study actually failed the basic nutrition course, because they aren’t trained anything. It’s like going to a mechanic for gardening advice. It’s like it’s just not there. So that’s why they typically refer out to RDs and things like that. So even them weighing in on health and nutrition on Twitter is interesting to me, because they don’t really have much, if at all training on that. But with that said, there’s a growing amount of amazing brilliant, kind hearted, Hippocratic hearted medical doctors, allopathically and conventionally trained doctors that are realizing and they’re looking at the same things that we’re seeing, and like, we have to do something different to see something different.
I mean, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result. We need to do something different in our healthcare, and just human care, from a societal standpoint. So what are they doing? They’re going and being trained in Functional Medicine, they’re going to IFM, they’re going to these conferences to get postdoctoral education like myself. So it’s very interesting because they start the IFM training with very basic stuff, because these medical doctors, bless them, they want to learn, but they’re not taught that in school. Whereas I think a lot of us that went to integrative medicine schools already like okay, like this is our whole doctorate training. But then as the advanced practice modules go in, they get more into the meat, so to speak, of Functional Medicine, which I love.
So with that said, when someone comes to a Functional Medicine doctor, the way that I run my clinic, at least, it starts with comprehensive consultation. So I really want to dig in as far as like asking questions that haven’t been asked before, we have pretty in depth questionnaires that are pointers as to what areas are the most relevant for that person. And I try to be like fully present and open minded and literally looking at every case as a fresh slate of what this person is going through. And it’s sometimes hard to encapsulate five years, 10 years, 15 years, 30 years, however long this person’s been going through this in an initial meeting. So I want to really hone in on how this is impacting their life. What does this look like? What is the day in the life of this person and put myself in their shoes as much as I can. And I try to do that for every single person. And again, we primarily see patients online, which people think like the more old school people are like, how can you connect with people that aren’t in front of you? I’m actually able to get so much in depth with person. And oftentimes people are less guarded, when they’re not there. Because going back to social media, I’m using that social media thing to an advantage, I guess in that moment, because people can be a little bit more vulnerable, I think if you’re not right there. So that’s an interesting thing. But I see patients locally in Pittsburgh, too. But we asked a lot of questions. And we had one older gentleman say to me, “Are you in the KGB? Because we asked so many questions on the questionnaires. I’m not in the KGB. I just want to know like why the outer third of your eyebrows is thinning. That may mean something, it could be a thyroid issue. Or if you’re craving salt, maybe a cortisol, adrenal HPA axis issue.
All these nuance stuff that seem irrelevant to the layperson means something to a Functional Medicine practitioner. So we start with a good health history, which is a good pointer and a foundation to what lab is the most relevant. So I don’t want to run labs just for the sake of it, which is I guess a relevant argument or criticism of Functional Medicine is that you run too many labs. I think that can happen. I agree with you. I would say let’s start with a good solid health history to see what labs are the most relevant. So we can be comprehensive, I do want to run more labs than you’re running because guess what, they’re not running enough labs in the conventional medicine status for most people. Running just a TSH for thyroid issues isn’t cutting it. So the fact that I am running T4 and T3 and free T3 and free T4 and thyroid antibodies and the reverse T3 and the iodine and selenium. Yeah, that’s needed. That’s not over testing. That’s understanding your thyroid hormone physiology and pathways. So that’s pretty basic from a Functional Medicine standpoint. But all they need for that thyroid is to give you Synthroid or Levothyroxine or a thyroid replacement hormone drug, they just need the TSH. So they’re running the labs they need to give you the medication. That’s fine if all they’re doing is giving medication. It’s completely relevant within the paradigm of conventional medicine. But it is wholly inadequate from a Functional Medicine standpoint, it’s incomplete. Because you can’t hang your hat on one biomarker and say, “Well, it’s above 4.5. Let’s give you Synthroid.” Or, “Your cholesterol is above 200. Let’s give you a statin drug.” Well, why is it cholesterol high? Why is it TSH? High? It’s not a medication deficiency. So let’s actually find out what’s driving it. So these are the questions that we’re asking.
We’re sort of clinical Sherlock Holmes from a Functional Medicine standpoint. So good health history, running the appropriate labs. And so that involves typically a more comprehensive blood tests. And when it’s appropriate – microbiome testing, hormonal testing, we talked about the genetic testing, we look at mold issues, if that’s showing up higher on the scores. Because mold can trigger these autoimmune issues and fatigue issues and these immune mediated issues. Looking at viral issues like Epstein-Barr Virus, Cytomegalovirus, [Inaudible 57:58] virus, other viruses, multiple pathogens that can be at play and then Lyme disease which is a problem in our society, tick borne problems, coinfections to Lyme like the BCM, bartonella, and all of these co infections are an issue. And then obviously, the gut dysbiosis; things like SIBO and food sensitivities can be a component to it as well. So all of that is sort of the confluence, the perfect storm of things that we want to consider, where we want to be comprehensive, but still be cost effective, and not just running labs for the sake of it. So that’s when a good health history falls into place as the foundation. So that’s typically the order. And then we are clinically monitoring somebody and coaching them and educating them about their health and leaning into these findings. We’re using those labs. We’re getting multiple labs perspective, from their vantage point, like, what the heck is going on here? Why do they feel the way that they do? And really educating and informing and equipping the patient with a self education process of like, this is what’s going on in your body, and that empowers them. That empowers them to say, “Look, I can do something.” These are things you can overcome and heal from and deal with, or support.
So I love that process of really educating a person about their health. Because obviously, I don’t say it with glee of like, “Look at all these problems that you have in your life.” But honestly, it’s this bittersweet moment, because they already know that something’s not right with them. And the last thing they want me to say is everything’s fine on these labs, even though they don’t feel fine. So it’s like this moment, “Okay, look, this validates why you feel the way that you do.” You actually weren’t just exhausted because you were lazy. You actually had reasons why you were exhausted. Oh, you have that horrible digestive problems. And everyone just said, you just have IBS, which is just explaining how you feel irritable bowel syndrome is not a real explanation. Yes, I know my bowels are irritable, but why? Or I have acid reflux, why? Or I have low thyroid, why? We’re explaining all the why’s. Everyone can say the check engine light is on. But what’s underneath the hood, what’s misfiring that’s causing the problem in the first place? So that’s fun for me, because we have to know what we’re up against to do something about it. And this is like really good stuff, solid data to then lean into. And what’s even cool, that’s normally the one on one stuff, where I’m clinically monitoring them and coaching them. And that’s my day job, I’m normally standing up my standing desk and consulting people about this stuff with my team. But what’s cool is we are working on this different template, or a different form of Functional Medicine care, which I’m really excited to be rolling out over these next coming months. That’s a group care, it’s an online class where people can get Functional Medicine blood labs, like I just mentioned.
And then we look at it through a Functional Medicine lens, we put it on spreadsheets, and we color code it, and we show what’s optimal compared to the functional range, we show what’s not optimal, and we give them suggestions based off of their labs. But we’re doing it in a group class, that’s still HIPAA compliant. So like, no one’s seeing each other, and all the questions are private, all that stuff. And I’m just educating them on what their labs mean, because so many people have these labs and get from their doctor, and they don’t even know what they mean. So I can really like say, “Hey, let’s run more labs, but also run the labs that they typically run.” But empower you to explain what this means to give you insight on why you feel the way that you do. But the goals of the group class is to make Functional Medicine accessible, more accessible, more affordable, to help more people. Because I only have so many hours in a day. And so for the most part, I still see patients one on one, but we’re holding these group calls classes monthly for an entry point, maybe they don’t want all the expanded testing, maybe they don’t want to have all these tests and the one on one care, but they know they can optimize their health. And I feel like this group class that’s online can be a good entry point for people. It allows us to lower the cost and we can impact more people. And it’s going to get them more accessible Functional Medicine care. So I’m really excited about this functional medicine group class we have going on.
[1:02:29] Ashley James: Cool. And I will make sure that the links to everything you do is in the show notes to today’s podcast, your website being www.drwillcole.com, we’ll make sure that all the links are there for your books and your group class and how they can reach out to you to learn more about that. That sounds fascinating. So everyone gets their labs, and then they sit in the class with you. And you’re going through kind of just each lab talking about the optimal ranges and what to do what not to do. And so everyone’s looking at their results, it’s going okay, he’s talking about this and talking about cholesterol, high cholesterol you mentioned and I see that my cholesterol is high on my lab, and then you start talking about what they can do if their cholesterol is high, so no one sees others. And in the group classes, are they able to ask questions of you and can people learn from your answers?
[1:03:18] Dr. Will Cole: They can. Well because we’re making it HIPAA compliant, we’re not making it public on people’s health information. It’s like shooting, we don’t want to obviously do that. So the questions are going privately to our team and myself, and we’re going to be answering them privately. So it’s still HIPAA compliant. So we’re educating them on the group class about their labs. And then individually in private, we’re giving them suggestions based on their labs. So yeah, they still have action steps to leave based on their labs. But it’s all just one on one with us and them.
[1:03:52] Ashley James: So I was wondering if you could give them a code name, like, you’re A and your B and your C. And then idea one knows each other’s code names. So then you can still answer the questions public, not publicly, but you know, in the forum, so that everyone can learn from your answers. Because what if there are five people in the class with high cholesterol or whatever? And then everyone else is learning from that, from that question. So give everyone a code name.
[1:04:20] Dr. Will Cole: That’s a good idea. I just have get back to my team, we’ll find that. But yeah. It’s so funny that I’ve heard so many questions over the years that I basically know what people are going to say like the handful of questions I know they’re going to have. So I tried to cover the FAQs throughout. But I love that, I think that’s good, we’ll have to look at the compliance factor of that and make it happen. But yeah, it’s really cool. I’m excited for people. I’m trying to meet them where they’re at. And if someone doesn’t need a full Functional Medicine support, or maybe they just want an entry point. And that’s another criticism that’s made on Functional Medicine is, it’s only for the wealthy, and you have to be super rich to cover. And that’s definitely not true for our patients, our patients are almost all working class like normal people. But I wanted to make it even more affordable and more accessible. So it has been a passion project of us for this virtual group class for the past year.
[1:05:15] Ashley James: How many people are allowed to attend the group class? And how much is it going to be? Do you know?
[1:05:21] Dr. Will Cole: Yeah. So it includes blood labs. So it includes a full Functional Medicine blood array, that’s quite a bit of data on that, and includes the group class itself with myself, includes the food recommendations, the natural medicine recommendations, and any additional recommendations based on their case. And it’s going to be under 2000. It’s going to be about 1900. around that, so to speak. And that includes the blood labs and everything.
[1:05:48] Ashley James: Yeah. That’s pretty expensive.
[1:05:50] Dr. Will Cole: Yeah. If you look at that, just to give people context to this. If you look at what the insurance gets billed from the labs, for that same labs is going to be about $4,000. So it’s a lot more inefficient and expensive.
[1:06:08] Ashley James: And can people go through their insurance to do your class or go to their insurance to bill for labs when working with you?
[1:06:16] Dr. Will Cole: It depends. I think it depends, generally speaking the answer is absolutely yes. And most of our patients on one on one care, they have private health insurance, they are going through their insurance. So I would say yes, largely for one on one care. As we’re beta testing the group classes that are online, we wanted all the labs to be standardized to get into the same time. So there wasn’t lag time when the group class comes around, and someone doesn’t have a couple of lab results. So we wanted it just to be like systematics ,we get the data and we know the turnaround. And sometimes with insurance and labs, especially in different States, you can get a lag time with certain lab results. So we wanted to make it less clunky. But in theory, as we’re furthering the group class beta through beta testing, we can make it more efficient on the insurance front too, especially if there’s a longer lead time, or the patients getting the lab early enough for us to get the turnaround to write the report and the recommendations before the online class.
[1:07:13] Ashley James: Very cool. You’ve talked about high cholesterol, and that’s such a controversial subject. I’d love for you to shed light on it. My understanding is that the doctors that set the, you know 200 originally it was like 200 and above its high and then they lowered it and then they lowered it. And they kept lowering it. And I’ve seen interviews with them. And they said that they had to come up with. It was a team of doctors but they had to come up with a number and they just kind of had to pull it out of their butts. And the reason why they wanted because they had to pick a specific number to say everything above this number is high cholesterol, everything above this numbers below or low or normal cholesterol. And they needed to lower it so they could get more of the population on statins because then they could see whether it’s working or not. They needed enough people to lower their cholesterol and it was kind of a guessing game and they wanted to see what would happen over time. And that kind of shocks people that you know, we’ve been told that fat is bad, cholesterol is bad cholesterol is what causes heart disease. And now we’re seeing that the cholesterol or now there’s a different perspective that cholesterol is actually the band aid the body’s using to try to patch up areas of high pressure that are not able to heal itself because the body’s deficient in the nutrients and it needs to heal itself. And so there’s this controversy around what is high cholesterol? Is it really bad? And isn’t there parts of cholesterol that are good parts of the cholesterol that are bad. What should we do about it? Is it all just genetic? Can you shed light on what is high cholesterol? Why is it bad? And how can we increase good cholesterol and decrease “bad cholesterol?”
[1:09:15] Dr. Will Cole: Great. It’s a great point to talk about. So total cholesterol which is the sum of HDL and LDL. And LDL is typically what they call bad cholesterol and HDL is what they’ll typically call good cholesterol. But looking at total cholesterol, and then seeing that as a barometer for good or bad if it’s above 200, it’s bad. If it’s, it’s below it’s good. That’s incomplete. And then also saying HDL is good and LDL is bad, it’s also incomplete. So, in Functional Medicine, the approach would be more in alignment with with a lot of the modern data and science looking at the context of it. Context matters here with cholesterol as it does with so much of life. That it’s just when you’re looking at one facet of it and then hang your hat on that and saying, “Well, then you should be on a statin, it’s above 200.” Well, let’s understand the nuance of it all.
So about half of people who have heart attacks and strokes actually have normal to low cholesterol, and evidence points to that. So the reality is that it may be a problem or may not be a problem. It’s like flipping a coin. So we want to understand what’s the quality of it and not just the quantity of it. So to your point, one of the labs we run and we run this on one on one patients as well as group class patients, we run a nuclear magnetic resonance or NMR test to look at the subfractionation of the lipids basically. Let’s measure the quality of the particles that carry cholesterol which is protein, the protein carrier, and you can be largely in pattern A, which is the fluffy, buoyant, protective LDL like a cotton ball, its protective, it kind of clean things up. And then the small dense LDL, which is oxidized rusted BB bullet that has the potential to tear through arterial walls. So it’s the quality there, are you more in pattern A, the fluffy cotton ball or the pattern B the little BB bullets. So it’s the inflammation and the oxidation and it damages the particles that carry cholesterol. That’s the problem, not cholesterol inherently. So we can see that on a test.
So for example, you could have a 250, let’s say 250 cholesterol that’s in pattern A or you could have a 250 cholesterol that’s in pattern B. You could have a 150 cholesterol that’s in pattern A or pattern B. So someone in theory looking at the context of this would be better off with 250 and pattern A than a 150 in pattern B. So you have to look. The context matters there – is that low in cholesterol, for all intents and purposes is not helpful for a large amount of people, for women, for senior citizens, for children. There’s really no solid research to show that’s beneficial. The only group of demographics that is shown to be beneficial or middle aged men who have had a heart attack, the benefits of taking statin drugs, but the benefits of that, the mechanism it seems to be it’s because statins are a mild anti inflammatory. So that’s good because it’s inflammation that damage is the particles that carry cholesterol that’s the problem. So you would assume someone that had a heart attack he has the inflammation so lowering inflammation would improve outcomes. So it seems to be it’s not lowering the cholesterol that’s the problem. That’s the benefits of statin drugs for people that are middle aged men who have had heart attacks. It’s actually the anti inflammatory benefits.
[1:12:39] Ashley James: Oh my gosh, and it’s like they could get the same benefits if they just ate some vegetables.
[1:12:44] Dr. Will Cole: Totally. Yeah, I mean just deal with the inflammation.
[1:12:48] Ashley James: Great. And people don’t know that statins, they don’t know how they work. We just go, “Oh, they just lower cholesterol.” But statins bruise the liver, purposefully damaging the liver and making the liver ceased to produce cholesterol is nothing. It doesn’t stop the amount of cholesterol that you’re eating. If you eat a steak and then take a statin it’s like the silliest thing in the world because now you’re just bruising your liver, the cholesterol is so important for the body, the liver produces it, we need it. And so just boggles my mind that an MD will put someone on a statin and instead of telling them to just shift their diet.
[1:13:28] Dr. Will Cole: Yeah. And to your point it is like, you said it was almost like a band aid. The analogy that I use is blaming the firemen for a fire. The body is producing cholesterol for a reason, and typically is it’s damaged, and it’s actually trying to put out the fire, but we are then destroying the firemen and then the fire is still raging on because the larger lifestyle changes are made. And again, that’s not to say that some people shouldn’t be on low doses of statin drugs some time for a period of time while they get healthy. I’m not saying there’s never a place for that. But it’s so overprescribed to so many people and based on such a simplistic data of just total cholesterol. It is really incomplete when you’re looking at the real truth like nuance of what’s really going on and what’s actually causing this. And to my earlier point, nobody has these problems from a statin deficiency. So let’s get to the root cause here for long term sustainable results. So yeah, just to get people like good things to look out for. In Functional Medicine, we want to make sure HDL is good and strong. So low levels of HDL are linked to cardiovascular issues. So we want it above 60, we want to make sure triglycerides are below 100. Because above 100 can be a sign of increased risk cardiovascular issues, insulin resistance, mainly which is the leading driver of heart attack and stroke, we want to make sure that you’re in pattern A on the NMR test, we want to make sure sure that your CRP or inflammatory markers are below one, we’re going to make sure homocysteine inflammatory markers are under seven. Hang your hat on one total cholesterol number isn’t going to cut it, you want to look at all the other nuances of this that explain actually what’s going on here. And then liver enzymes and other things like the AST and ALT would be appropriate too for people with fatty liver issues and insulin resistance and then blood sugar and A1c obviously, looking at your glucose, looking at your three month average of your blood sugar with the A1c, we want it under 5.6 in Functional Medicine and glucose under 100. Under 90 would be ideal from fasting glucose. So that’s what we’re looking at with cholesterol. Just like with the thyroid example, we have to look at the full lipid, insulin resistance, metabolic panel too for people with the set of issues. So you can’t just run a TSH from a thyroid standpoint, and you can’t just run a total cholesterol for a statin drug. But yet, that’s what’s largely done. Because they want to give out the statin drugs and the other medications. That’s what they’re largely trained to do. They’re trained to diagnose the disease, and match it with a medication. It’s this medicinal matching game that they’re trained in medical schools. And that’s what they’re taught to do. So your standard PCP or GP is giving out the blood pressure meds and the high blood pressure meds and the statin drugs and all this stuff. But they’re not really trained look at these other nuances, which is what’s driving a lot of these good hearted doctors to go learn Functional Medicine because they’re learning to help their patients.
[1:16:32] Ashley James: Mm hmm. Absolutely. So what things can we do in our life to increase the good cholesterol? If it let’s say is below 60? What are some? I mean, is it exercise and eat healthy fats? Is it that simple?
[1:16:49] Dr. Will Cole: Yeah. I would say exercise definitely would be appropriate – aerobic exercise and getting your body moving, sweating, and healthy fat. So that you’ve got it right, completely there. You’ve been doing this podcast, I think over 300 times. I think you’ve heard you’ve heard this once or twice. But the healthy fats like olives, olive oil, avocados, avocado oil, healthy omega fats, wild caught fish, nuts, and seeds. These are all things that can help. Eating healthy, saturated fat obviously, grass fed beef can be great. And then to that point, if I could talk a little bit about the saturated fat because I mentioned earlier about the carnivore diet and the APO and the APOA and all these gene alleles, there are some people and I talked about this in Ketotarian and I talked about this in the Inflammation Spectrum, that too much saturated fat which grass fed beef is not just saturated fat, it has good omega fats and other things too. But too much red meat, which is higher saturated fat, coconut oil, and dairy fats like ghee, and milk and cream and things like that. Too much saturated fats for people with these gene alleles it can raise inflammation, and it can raise your cholesterol to places that you don’t want it to be. Because their body is just in this state of inflammation. So the firefighters are happening come out by leaps and bounds. So that’s not good.
So you can see here that biological variability will then say that they should just be running these tests, I’m not saying everybody needs to go get genetic testing, I think that’s a good differentiator here, maybe just run the cholesterol markers run the NMR test, look at what pattern you’re in, run your CRP, your inflammation levels, run your glucose, your insulin. All the stuff that I just said, just run those. You don’t have to run all the genetic test if you don’t want to, just start off with a baseline of these inflammation tests. And then look at how the food impacts your biochemistry. So that my point of getting HDL up, I would say most people do better, like overwhelming majority do better with more monounsaturated and healthy omega fats. But some people should be having more saturated fats, and some people should be having lower saturated fats. So gauging and tracking your labs is something to consider. So the Inflammation Spectrum, my second book, I put all these labs there, so people can track this, of seeing what their body loves, and what their body doesn’t love. So they can see their biological variability. We’re all different.
[1:19:20] Ashley James: I love it. Adjusting your diet, for example, whether you should be eating wild caught fish and grass fed meat, versus you should be eating more nuts, seeds and, and coconut meat and olives based on labs. Looking at your labs in in seeing where your body is, where your cholesterol is, and what your body is saying it needs and what your body says it doesn’t need any more of. That is so cool that we can do that. And that we can tip the scales. I myself was a type two diabetic, reversed it naturally and so to have that experience, and I also had a few other problems, I was told I’d never have kids and I have a four year old that we conceive naturally. So using natural medicine, using just food, herbs, supplements when needed is so profound, because the body wants to correct itself. The body really wants to come back into balance. And now we can see, with the Functional Medicine labs we can see a clear picture of how we’re harming the body and how we can help it. What kind of diseases and illnesses have you seen reversed through Functional Medicine that allopathic medicine says cannot be reversed? Like you know, allopathic medicine loves to just give a drug for the rest of their life to manage their disease, whereas you’ve helped people to reverse it and no longer have it anymore.
[1:21:02] Dr. Will Cole: Yeah, that’s a great question. I think it’s important to say like when I say the word reversed, that could be for some people completely, like healed and they go into remission, meaning they don’t have any evidence of it. And for some people that are using food and functional medicine to reverse it to the place of managing their symptoms, meaning it’s in remission, but they can’t go off of what they’re doing because it could flare back up. So autoimmunity is a good example of that. Autoimmunity, we have amazing results with autoimmunity in putting these things in dormancy, remission, decreasing the frequency and the intensity of their flares dramatically naturally. But it’s not appropriate for me to say we’re curing them, because we’re not curing them. That genetic predisposition for our immunity is turned on. But they’re living a long, healthy, vibrant life through Functional Medicine and what’s working for their body. So all our patients with MS and other autoimmune conditions, Terry Wall is a friend of mine I’m sure you’re aware of. She uses Functional Medicine to reverse her symptoms and to manage her symptoms. And she lives a long, healthy, vibrant life instead of my patients. But Terry, and my patients wouldn’t say we cured ourselves of MS, it’s different. Versus type two diabetes is different, type two diabetes is you can reverse it to the point of being non diabetic. They are living, they could even eat foods that maybe they wouldn’t have when they’re diabetic and their blood sugar isn’t spiking because you’ve increased insulin sensitivity. That’s a different mechanism at play there. That’s a hormonal resistance pattern caused by insulin receptor sites to be more resistant to insulin. So there’s a lot of people that are type two diabetic that can completely reverse their diabetes wholly. And certainly not every type two diabetic, there are people that are severely insulin resistant, that again, they’re doing more like what Terry does with autoimmunity, they’re reversing to the place of managing it. So people like Jimmy Moore, who’s my co-host on Keto Talk, his labs look amazing. But he knows he’s just genetically more insulin resistant. So he can’t eat all the carbs that maybe I can eat. When I’m doing my cyclical, ketotarian thing, that would flare his blood sugar way up if he kept doing that. So but I know I’m maybe getting a little bit more nuance.
But I think it’s important to understand what our clinical objectives are, from a Functional Medicine standpoint. Let me just say this, there’s so much you can do. People with autoimmunity, people with insulin resistance, people with hormonal problems, people with digestive issues, people with neurological issues, you’re my people, like these are the people I hang out with way too much, probably. But I’ve been on the ground, proverbially speaking with these people dealing with these things, we wield so much power with our life with the choices we make, with insight into our health. So these are the people that I know, in most cases, there’s so much power that you wield, to decrease dramatically the frequency and intensity of things. So I want to be able to say for the average person in six months to two years, depending on how long they’ve been going through this and all the variables that go into play with that is that we can significantly decrease the frequency and intensity of your flares to the point of someone saying, “Hey, I’m 70% better.” Or, “I’m 100% better.” Somewhere moving in the right direction, whereas the point of markedly moving the health needle in a positive direction and improving their quality of life. And when you look at the risk factors go down, the quantity of their life as well.
[1:24:44] Ashley James: I love it. Very cool. So basically, we can improve everything. Because we’re supporting the body’s ability to heal itself.
[1:24:53] Dr. Will Cole: You can improve a dramatic amount of stuff. Absolutely. And there’s so much power we wield, so much power we wield. And I see the difficult cases, like I’m the guy that God brings me the people that they’ve seen every doctor into the sun and they’re still struggling. So I’m used to seeing very, very difficult patients. If I’m being optimistic, there’s no reason why other people shouldn’t have so much hope. Because I realized the average person that doesn’t see a Functional Medicine doctor, but that still wants to improve their life. Maybe they’re just picking up a book, they have so much more health potential because they’re maybe not as bad as some of the patients that we see in Functional Medicine.
[1:25:38] Ashley James: Your book that’s coming out addresses inflammation. So many people talk about inflammation. Like I said, it’s this buzzword, but can you teach us something we don’t know about inflammation? Can you give us your unique perspective on decreasing it, because decreasing it, we’re also helping the body correct itself and get back to a place of health?
[1:26:05] Dr. Will Cole: Sure. So I think the big point that I wanted to bring up in the inflammation spectrum is; A, educating people on my concept of the inflammation spectrum. So this concept is in the book that we have a picture that just kind of show what it looks like in my mind and how I see it impact people’s life. Is that inflammation exists on a spectrum, on a continuum from one end being low grade brain fog, fatigue, anxiety, maybe digestive issues, muscle joint, tightness, all the way down on the other end of the inflammation spectrum being full blown autoimmune disease, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, hormonal problems, and then everything in between on that continuum. So it’s A, educating people on this far reaching implication of inflammation. Meaning that it’s really the commonality, chronic inflammation is between just about every health problem we face as a society. So things from autoimmune disease, all the things we mentioned before, to things like anxiety, depression, brain fog and fatigue are also inflammatory in nature. And this is reflected in the scientific literature that being full blown inflammatory issues, or at least having an inflammatory component. So it’s A, educating people like, “Whoa, I didn’t realize my anxiety can be inflammatory and my brain fog or fatigue can be inflammatory cytokine activity in the brain.” People think of mental health and they separate mental health and physical health, mental health is physical health. So we have to look at the physiological manifestations that’s impacting your mental health.
[1:27:37] Ashley James: I love that you point that out, because having been a diabetic, I felt like I was going crazy when my blood sugar was out of control. And I was told by Naturopath that people get misdiagnosed as being bipolar, when they’re undiagnosed blood sugar imbalance, that people when they’re going through those highs and lows of blood sugar, it doesn’t drastically affects, like you said anxiety, depression, you could have bouts of anger. I mean, you’re just all over the place. And it’s so common that people feel bipolar. No wonder their inflammation is through the roof. Because of uncontrolled high blood sugar and then when the blood sugar comes crashing down, the anger and the hunger and the confusion, the body’s in a state of stress, the blood is shunted away from logic centers of the brain because they’re in the stress mode, stress response. So mental health and physical health are absolutely related. I love that you pointed that out. And so even just low grade inflammation can affect our emotional mental state.
[1:28:47] Dr. Will Cole: Absolutely. And our energy levels, fatigue is an epidemic in our society. And what’s driving it? Again, saying someone has chronic fatigue syndrome is really the same as saying they have IBS or they have fibromyalgia. They’re just descriptive terms. But what’s actually driving that, why is someone chronically fatigued? So we’re looking at the facets of that in the book. And so finding out where somebody is on the inflammation spectrum is the goal of the Inflammation Spectrum book. So we have a quiz that’s adapted from all those questions that I asked in my Functional Medicine clinic where that older gentleman said I was in the KGB. I just wanted to really dig deep and make it applicable for the person, the layperson that’s reading the book to say like, “What’s going on here? Why do I feel the way that you do?” So that’s important, because when they know where they’re at, they can do something about it, and it educates them and empowers them to do something about it. So I think that’s the insight that I bring on the concept. The topic of inflammation in the book is finding out where they’re at on these inflammation spectrum. And then obviously, what to do about it, and how to use food and how to use non food things to help improve someone’s health. And then we can start to bring things back in and see what our tolerance is. To see how big or how small your cup is – your genetic tolerance to these things. Because my experience is some people with bigger cups, they can heal, they lower things, they lower the amount of stuff in the cup, they lower the epigenetic variables. And they’ve healed their cup to the point where they can bring things back in. And they don’t have any symptoms, they can have more flexibility. And then some people have smaller cups, and they have really little flexibility. But at least they know what flares them up and what doesn’t. And that’s freedom. And that’s really the second point of the book is empowering people to not say this is another fad diet to do, because we don’t need another fad diet in our society. But how can you use food to feel great? How can you love your body enough to feed it good things and to know what your body loves and doesn’t love? So at that point, it’s the transition from a diet to a way of life. It’s a diet to just knowing what makes you feel great. So avoiding that food isn’t punishment or restrictive or like, “I can’t have all this stuff.” No, I just love feeling great more than I missed that food.
[1:31:27] Ashley James: Right.
[1:31:28] Dr. Will Cole: I actually like feeling better more than I miss whatever food that is. Because it’s that switch that people make to be like, “Whoa, this concept of self care is a form of self respect.” And it’s that transition to saying that’s freedom, that’s freedom from food, and then when you go in the junk food aisle it’s not like, “Oh my gosh, I haven’t getting all these cravings” To, “No actually, I value feeling better, so much more than I missed that junk food.” Or whatever that is. So that’s also the heart and the ethos of what I want to interweave through that book. Because that that’s what makes sustainable wellness. Because when people make that shift, that’s ownership, that’s heart and there’s a grace and lightness in their wellness at that point. And it’s not this dogmatic diet that they’re just gritting their teeth to get through the 30 days. It’s just this freedom that they find in knowing what makes them feel great.
[1:32:28] Ashley James: Brilliant, I love it. So your book just sounds like it’s chock full of wonderful, wonderful information. I love that you also cover the labs, which so many people are curious about, and they want to take their health into their own hands and you’re empowering them. When is your book coming out?
[1:32:48] Dr. Will Cole: It’s on pre order now, but it comes out October 15th. So yeah, depending on people hear this or on replay, whatever, but it’s October 15th 2019. It’s when it comes out.
[1:33:00] Ashley James: Awesome. So I’ll put the link in the show notes so that listeners can go preorder it right now. And that way the second it comes out they’ll receive it. That’s very cool. When you do this work, it must be so rewarding. Can you share some stories of success? Obviously not disclosing anyone’s name. But can you share some stories of success that have really inspired you?
[1:33:31] Dr. Will Cole: Yeah, one that comes to mind. When I think about all the cool things I get to see. Just to give you context to this, we have a virtual clinic and we have a brick and mortar clinic as well where my team is at. So we’re primarily no one gets to smell or like nice essential oils diffusing in the air because is everyone’s online. But it smells amazing here. But anyways, I’m sitting with my team looking over the schedule every day. So we start our morning off of just in prayer and meditation and then the clinical stuff of saying how can we serve these people and be there for them in a way that’s meaningful that the way that they need it on a clinical level, but a personal level too. And then it’s looking back as we’re going over these names of seeing all these amazing things that they’ve done, like so and so, “Wow, they’ve done this in this in this.” Okay, on this visit, see how they’re doing on this, like it’s this amazing journey that they become almost like family members to us over the time that they’re with us. But one that comes to mind, happened earlier on in my career. And I think that’s why it still sticks in my mind because it was earlier on and seeing someone outside of myself and my family, but like on a patient level, how Functional Medicine could impact their life positively. It was an older lady. She was actually in her 90s, early 90s at the time. And her… I’m not breaking HIPAA because the least she did a blurb for us. But her name is Blanche just because I think it’s a beautiful classic name, I think it’s appropriate for the story. She married her husband for ages and he wheeled her in a wheelchair. And he said, “I want the love of my life to be here. I don’t want to lose her.” And she was like this human story and like I was married and I still am. And I just saw myself in him, and my wife in her and this expounded love because it’s like decades and decades and decades of growing old together. And I’m just like I saw myself in him on a deep level. And I just saw the desperation in his heart. And she wasn’t very lucid, severe brain fog, couldn’t walk, she’s diabetic, and she’s not doing well and her blood sugar’s out of control and blah, blah, blah. That’s what they said. And meaning that’s what they were told by the doctors, that’s what she was telling me. That’s what he was telling me and she would interject every so often. So we ran labs and the lab sometimes, and all the Functional Medicine doctors out there will tell you sometimes you get labs that are so high or so low, that you will get a lab alert and they typically will call you and the lab will say hey look so and so’s number is like really high really low just to let you know. Even though they’re sending it to you, I think they have to legally have some sort of conversation or maybe it’s just good due diligence on their end. I don’t know if it’s mandated or not. But we typically will get a phone call if it’s that high or that low. Her cholesterol was that low where the lab alerted us and for labs to say cholesterol is low, pretty dang low.
[1:37:02] Ashley James: It was all the cholesterol or good and bad?
[1:37:05] Dr. Will Cole: Everything. It was everything, it was really low. And amongst many other things there was more than just that. I don’t want to oversimplify it, it’s definitely more complex than just that. But the thing that sticks out in my mind was that cholesterol being low. Well, as you pointed out, and actually a full circle that we’re talking about cholesterol again, but because our brain is 60% fat, 25% of all your body’s cholesterol resides in your brain, and you need healthy cholesterol for brain function, which is why one of the potential side effects of statin drugs is cognitive decline and memory dysfunction amongst all the other potential problems too. So the this woman literally was starving her brain of the nutrient that it needed for brain function. Her blood sugar was out of control too and there were other things going on. But we implemented Functional Medicine principles, we ran labs where you changed her diet up that was appropriate for her, we brought some natural medicines and this lady was so dramatic. She went from being wheeled in and could barely talk to me to walking in by herself with a cane. And she was the sharpest wittiest woman like you would ever just a normal, lovely lady in her early 90s. Talking about her health and improvements and about food and just like it was night and day. And something that she said is what stuck in my mind all these years later, she said, “I was planning my funeral, when I met you. Now i’m planning vacations with my grandkids.” And that to me was like everything because I thought like how many other women and men are like that, that are just taking these medications? They’re told that’s all they can do. And they trust it because it’s coming from a white coat. And even the white coat is thinking they’re doing the right thing. But where no one’s questioning? Is this the best option that’s causing them the least amount of side effects? Is this what’s being called, you’re just getting older, and they settle for it? This is madness.
So I just got invigorated the next 13 years in my career, so far, of just like seeing Blanches in all different shapes and sizes all around the world, of people who just want to live a better life. And they’re seeking and they’re searching and they want to do the best they can for their body and the time that they have left. I mean, she was 91. Look how many I don’t even know where Blanche is today. But I know the latter years of her life is way better than what it would have been. So to me, that’s my that’s my story that is kind of an archetype for the last 13 years. We have a lot of Blanche stories, and we’ve been blessed enough to be a part of someone’s health journey, because it’s really a sacred responsibility. Like, that is sacred. And all stories like that is sacred, to be a part sort of that fine line between health and disease, that fine line between life and death. To start bringing people more to life is a very humbling opportunity.
[1:40:12] Ashley James: That’s beautiful. I love it. I love it. Now I know everyone’s different. So it’s hard to tell everyone, like I know some people say, “Everyone go gluten free.” Right? And I think everyone could benefit from trying it for 30 days or everyone could benefit from just experimenting and trying dairy free for 30 days or try ketotarian for 30 days. Just try and see how your body feels, do elimination diets. But is there homework that you could give everyone that you know would benefit everyone? Is there some homework that you’ve seen really help people in general that you could give all of us?
[1:40:52] Dr. Will Cole: Yeah, I think that’s a good point. You obviously know that we’re all different and that’s important to caveat here. But I would say this, what I would recommend is a form of an elimination diet, because I think it’s an action step that allows you to find that biological variability. And that’s what I put in the inflammation spectrum is based on a quiz, which is again adapted from Functional Medicine intake forms. To make it more reader friendly. It’s less dense, academic, but it’s just easy to understand. You take the quiz, find out where you’re at on the inflammation spectrum. And then you can do based on your score, do easier elimination diet or more advanced one. If you’re saying to me, what’s the first thing that you can do, when you’re talking about food and Functional Medicine? To me, that’s a good starting point. Because at that point, you can kind of use food to calm inflammation, because you’re not just avoiding food, you’re focusing a lot of anti inflammatory foods too and then after four weeks for the lowered scored ones, or eight weeks on the higher scored ones, you can bring foods back in one by one. And then to your point, you can reintroduce grains and gluten containing grains. And there are some people that feel fine on them. And there’s some people that don’t feel fine on them. So it allows us to make less broad sweeping over generalized statements and actually see what’s right for you. So that, to me is a good starting point. It’s in the Inflammation Spectrum. And it allows you to really finding out what your body loves and doesn’t love. So again, you can make that transition from like a diet to like food – grace and food freedom. That to me is a good starting point that anybody can do.
[1:42:38] Ashley James: And I like that you brought up that it’s not always, for example, irritable bowel, like some people go, “Well, I didn’t eat gluten and then I ate gluten and I didn’t get diarrhea, so I don’t react to it.” But that you’re saying listen to whether you’re tired more on certain foods or whether you have brain fog or depression, or anxiety. We need to look for more subtle symptoms, that the body is saying this increases inflammation or it doesn’t.
[1:43:09] Dr. Will Cole: Yeah. Oh, yeah. It’s so much more than just digestion. So digestion is definitely probably the common one, right? It’s going to increase digestive issues like bloating, constipation, diarrhea, or stomach pain and cramping. But not always, because I mean, our guts are our second brain, so it can be impacting the brain, the brain fog, fatigue, hives, rashes, it could be like you said just more tired and more irritable, blood sugar fluctuations, there’s so many variables. So I lay it out in the book, like all the different implications because it’s inflammation, it’s a lack of inflammation and balance and regulation that’s going on. That is impacting people where they have the most problems or specific to them what they’re dealing with.
[1:43:53] Ashley James: Awesome, I’m really excited for your book to come out. I encourage listeners to go preorder it now. It’s going to be great. The links to everything that Dr. Will Cole does is going to be in the show notes of today’s podcast of www.learntruehealth.com. Dr. WIll is there anything left unsaid that you’d like to say to wrap up today’s interview?
[1:44:14] Dr. Will Cole: It’s a principle that’s been in my clinic for a long time. And it’s a concept that I talked about in Ketotarian, but I talked about it in more depth in the Inflammation Spectrum is that you can’t heal a body you hate, and that we have a problem in wellness now born out of good intentions. But just like we talked about earlier, unintended consequences of all this amazing data has also created this really stressed anxiety ridden vortex of people not knowing what the heck they should be doing. So I really want people to bring it back to the basics and bring it back to the center and eat more intuitively. And finding out what their body loves and doesn’t love because shaming your body into wellness is not going to work. Like stressing about all the things on Dr. Google isn’t going to work long term. So you have to inform yourself and equip yourself. But then again, just what do you need to know versus what’s this just going to end up stressing you out. So hopefully, through our work and what I’m doing here, people can be more conscious of that, and having a healthy relationship with their body, a healthy relationship with food once again. And just bringing a grace and a lightness back into wellness and not all of this dogmatic stuff that is kind of remnants from the sort of dieting consciousness that’s really antiquated and really should have no place in wellness in my opinion.
[1:45:49] Ashley James: Love it. Thank you so much Dr. Will Cole for coming on the show. You are welcome back on any time. I’d love to have you come teach us more. This has been wonderful. And of course, looking forward to your book and looking forward to your Functional Medicine group. As you launch it, please let us know more. I’ll make sure that I can inform the listeners about it. And yeah, can’t wait to connect with you again.
[1:46:18] Dr. Will Cole: Yes, thanks so much.
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