David Tomen And Ashley James
- Preventing Alzheimer’s and Dementia is not a sure thing but there are certain things that you can do to really increase your chances of it not happening.
- Free radicals and oxidative damage to the brain is by no means the only cause of cognitive problems and functional decline in your brain
- With the help of certain nootropics or supplements, you can increase your chances.
- Whole foods plant-based diets with healthy fats support brain health.
- Taking the right nootropic supplements can optimize your brain health and protect you from cognitive decline well into the future.
- It is never too late to start taking supplements.
Do you find yourself at times challenged at remembering the things you used to know and even used to really master at life? Memory loss? You would be shocked to discover that it is not a normal part of aging. Today’s podcast will help you understand why and how the decline in brain function starts and basically what to do when realizing that you’re not a sharp as you once were.
[00:00] Ashley James: Hello, True Health seeker and welcome to another exciting episode of Learn True Health podcast. Today, wow you are going to love today’s interview. David Tomen comes back on the show to teach us how to reverse and prevent aging of the brain. Science has shown it actually starts in your 20’s and really starts to take hold in our 40’s. You’ve noticed that you don’t think as clearly as you used to or maybe math which is my thing isn’t coming as naturally or as quickly to you as it used to. You want to hear today’s interview with David Tomen because he teaches us exactly how to help heal the brain and to anti-aging on the brain. Also, how to prevent and reverse big issues like Parkinson’s, Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. I know you’re going to love hearing what he has to say. It’s very technical. There’s a lot of science in it and I know you’re probably going to want to take notes. But here’s the thing, we now transcribe all of our interviews. So you can go ahead and go to learntruehealth.com and read the transcript for this interview. It’s going to take us a little bit of time between posting it to all of the podcast directories and then getting up on our website but once it’s on our website you’ll be able to read this entire interview which is really exciting. Remember to go to learntruehealth.com and check that out because all of the recent episodes have been transcribed for you, which is so great. I know several listeners have told me that they listened to episodes two or three times to take notes. This has been very helpful for them. I want to let you know about two resources because we discussed supplements in this interview specifically magnesium and vitamins. I want to let you know about two of my favorite resources. David mentions in this interview that magnesium is very important for brain health. My favorite source of magnesium is not oral magnesium. It is soaking in magnesium. If you’re a new listener you may have not heard this but if you’ve been around for a while you’ve heard me talk about Kristen Bowen’s magnesium soak which has really been transformative for my life and for my family. Over 2,000 listeners have enjoyed soaking in Kristen’s magnesium and actually come back and told me about it. There’s several threads in our Facebook group, the Learn True Health Facebook group where listeners have shared their positive experience with soaking in the magnesium soak. If you’d like to increase the magnesium in your body because most people are deficient. You’d like to do it without having to take an oral supplement that gives you diarrhea. Let’s be honest, most magnesium supplements do that. You can soak in the magnesium and your body will absorb grams of magnesium every time you soak in it. It’s very concentrated, it’s all-natural, it’s from the Zechstein Sea. You can listen to my interview with Kristen Bowen to learn more about that. You can go to learntruehealth.com and type in Kristen Bowen or type in magnesium in the search box and you’ll find those interviews. Go to livingthegoodlifenaturally.com and use coupon code LTH. That’s the listener coupon code to get your discount and buy a jug of her magnesium soak. It is really transformative. After we introduced it into the bath for our 4-year-old son, he was 3 at that time. He would always fight us every time it was bedtime. After we started adding it to his bath, he would be more relaxed and calm and want to go to sleep. That’s how we felt too. It just relaxes you, it calms you, and it increases sleep. It also increases energy because your body needs it for hundreds of enzymatic processes in the body. Since most people are deficient in magnesium and so many symptoms of magnesium deficiency that could mimic other diseases if you’re experiencing symptoms of anything, you should really try magnesium and try soaking in it. Kristen recommends you do a 30-day challenge. You’d buy one of the jugs and you soak in it every evening for 30 days. I soak in it while I’m in my sauna. You could soak in it while watching TV or when you’re sitting at your desk. Sometimes I do that. I soak while I’m sitting at my desk recording interviews. Just try it and see how you feel and come to the Facebook group. Learn True Health Facebook group and share your experience with soaking in the magnesium. Of course, everything that I’m talking right now is going to be on the show notes of today’s podcast of the learntruehealth.com. So go to livingthegoodlifenaturally.com and use coupon code LTH to try the magnesium soak, which I highly recommend. My second resource for you is where I buy all my vitamins and minerals from, especially my minerals is takeyoursupplements.com. Go to takeyoursupplements.com and fill out the form for a free consultation with a health coach that’ll help you buy the right supplements for you. They specialize in minerals. If you’re looking for a really good trace mineral if you’re looking for a really good selenium complex that is where I’d go. I absolutely highly recommend checking out takeyoursupplements.com for those supplements. Excellent. Enjoy today’s interview. I know you will and please share this interview with all of your friends and family who want to have a healthy brain.
[05:44] Ashley James: Welcome to the Learn True Health podcast. I’m your host, Ashley James. This is episode 374. I’m very excited for today’s guest. We have back on the show with us Nootropics Expert David Tomen. He was here first in episode 362 where he taught us about how to heal the brain and balance dopamine and serotonin. Very fascinating story that you have David, where you were able to completely reverse your ADHD using natural substances and that it drove you to want to learn how to balance the brain, heal the brain and support the brain using herbs and supplements and food and just understanding more about the chemistry and science about the brain. Which is something that is not explored enough and you just think that we would just focus on the brain more since that is where we live. Right? I’m very excited to have you back in the show today. We’re going to cover some really interesting information that everyone can benefit from. Welcome back, David.
[06:57] David Tomen: Hi, Ashley. Thanks for having me back.
[07:00] Ashley James: Now, are you sipping your chai tea? We are talking about tea. I’ve got my green tea here I’m sipping. Do you have your organic chai tea you’re sipping right now?
[07:10] David Tomen: I’ve got another kind of Tazo tea. I think it’s oolong.
[07:14] Ashley James: Nice. Okay, there’s oolong in mine too. So, cheers.
[07:16] David Tomen: Excellent. Cheers.
[07:17] Ashley James: And we know that these teas have nice phytonutrients in it for the brain.
[07:23] David Tomen: I think they do. [Laughter] They’ll keep us calm during the podcast and we’ll be able to think quicker and live longer.
[07:34] Ashley James: Hold on while I chug mine. [Laughter]
[07:38] David Tomen: There, you just added two minutes to your life. [Laughter]
[07:41] Ashley James: Excellent. David, we were discussing a few days ago what we discussed today and you said, you mentioned, you rattled off some amazing topics all of which I want you to keep coming back on the show to teach but one of them really struck a chord for me and it was the aging brain and how to prevent. How to foresee the signs of it and how to prevent it. How to reverse it. You mentioned things like becoming forgetful or possibly like losing certain skills you used to have and that really struck a chord with me because in my 20s, I was a math whiz. You could throw math at me all day long. I was like a human calculator and now, I can barely add single digits. It’s just I have to like count on my fingers and it’s like, “What happened?” I feel like a part of my brain just shut down and I don’t have access to the same skills that I used to have and I’m approaching 40. I’m not a candidate for dementia hopefully. What’s going on? You have a great explanation so for those who might notice that they’re less sharp than they used to be or they have a bit more brain fog or possibly they’re concerned that they might end up with dementia. You’re here to teach us today how to take care of your brain so that we can reverse its age and become even healthier brain-wise.
[09:09] David Tomen: With a little bit of work you can get your math skills back. The thing is that we all know some people that have lived past 90 years old, right? They’ve enjoyed a really well functional brain until the very end so we know it’s possible to maintain a fully optimized brain right throughout our life. Most of us also know that people that have got Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s or Dementia, I’ve got people of my own family. My father-in-law’s’ got Parkinson’s. But neurodegenerative disease affects not just one person either like close family members and your friends impact as well. It’s not just you if your brain feeling is effective it’s everybody in the circle around you. The thing is that the memory loss that you just described is not a normal part of aging. It really isn’t. Recent research in aging and brain function found that as we get older, individual brain molecule cells and cellular circulation and even the physical shape of your brain are affected in some way. Some of these changes are right around your 21st birthday. If you’re young biohacker listening to this podcast, this podcast is just as much for you as it is for the aging baby boomer or the senior citizen. We know that the brain responds to the same types of insults that we throw at it with as the rest of your body. It gets attacked by stress, nutritional deficiency, poor diet, toxins, not enough exercise and sleep. These things all affect cognition but the human brain has an amazing ability to repair and maintain itself even up to old age. All we have to do is give it what it needs to survive and thrive. That’s kind of like our start. We can all just go through, when I was researching this, I divided it into segments so that it was easier to comprehend and understand. There’s five different segments and we’ll talk about each one of these in plain English so that anybody can understand what we’re talking about and some tips about how to take care of the particular thing.
[11:35] Ashley James: Sounds great.
[11:36] David Tomen: Yes. The first thing that we have to deal with our free radicals and brain aging. Now we’ve got extensive research that shows oxidation of DNA proteins and lipids by free radicals are responsible for functional decline in your brain. As estimated, that 10,000-oxidated interaction between DNA and free radicals in each one of your brain cells occurs every day. But as you get older at least one out of every three proteins per cell is dysfunctional because of oxidative damage.
[12:14] Ashley James: Wow.
[12:16] David Tomen: So free radicals and oxidative damage to the brain is by no means the only cause of cognitive problems but their rule of free radicals and [Inaudible 12:26] dysfunction is a really major issue and it’s fairly simple to take care of it.
[12:36] Ashley James: In terms of the free radical damage that happens to the brain. It’s kind of approaching it in all fronts because free radical damage harms the circulation to the brain and also the circulation away from the brain so bringing fresh nutrients to the brain and removing the waste away from the brain. The free radical damage would cause inflammation to all the vasculature that’s sort of one insult to the brain that’s happening every day but then you’re saying it’s also affecting the protein synthesis in the brain and it’s also affecting the DNA itself.
[13:15] David Tomen: Yes, right down to the DNA. When you think about it, free radicals and oxidation are a normal part of how our brain works because when you are sending oxygen and nutrients into brain cells, into the mitochondria to use the skill, there’s a burning process that takes place. We’re talking about energy production but whenever there’s energy production there’s also waste because once the fatty acids, for example, are used up they’re oxidized fatty acids and we have a built-in immune system that helps flush the stuff out but it gets out of hand as we get older. Our body cannot cope with the free radical, the normal free radical process that’s going on in our system, we can’t cope with the onslaught and if you don’t do something about it, you just don’t catch up cells get damaged and they die. Let’s talk about a couple of things that you can do to help stop this and reverse it. Yes?
[14:23] Ashley James: Awesome. Let’s do it. Let’s jump in.
[14:25] David Tomen: All right. Alpha lipoic acid is a naturally-occurring, sulfur-containing fatty acid that is very unique among antioxidants. Because it is both water and fat-soluble. It’s got a unique ability to neutralize free radicals in all cellular environments. This antioxidant can even reduce brain damage after a stroke.
[14:51] Ashley James: Wow. Very cool. Where does it come from? Alpha lipoic acid?
[14:54] David Tomen: Well, lipoic acid is a naturally occurring fatty acid in your body and what we do know is that lipoic acid helps boost the synthesis of acetylcholine that increases glucose uptake in brain cells. Lipoic acid is actually part of the synthesis of acetylcholine. If you don’t have lipoic acid you cannot synthesize acetylcholine so it’s part of that process. Lipoic acid regenerates other depleted anti-oxidants that are already in your system like vitamins C and E, glutathione and it recycles CoQ10. It reduces inflammation, it gets rid of heavy metals and boosts cellular energy and memory
[15:40] Ashley James: Very cool. I just pulled up Alpha lipoic acid is a vitamin-like chemical called an antioxidant. You can get it from yeast, liver, kidney, spinach, broccoli, and potatoes. They are all very good sources of it. You can have it also use it as a supplement. Even though if you eat lots of broccoli and spinach, I’d still, if you’re looking to heal the brain I would still use it as a supplement.
[16:05] David Tomen: Absolutely. 50 – 600 mg a day depending on what you’re trying to cure.
[16:13] Ashley James: Would you divide that up if someone decided to do the full dose like the full 600 mg a day? Would they divide that up?
[16:22] David Tomen: I would divide that up into three. For example, for diabetic neuropathy, it’s recommended to use 800 mg a day so you divide that into two doses. You’ll need 400 mg in the morning and 400 mg early afternoon.
[16:34] Ashley James: Is it best to take on an empty stomach or with food?
[16:37] David Tomen: This one on an empty stomach but it’s like it doesn’t really matter with lipoic acid because it’s both water and fat-soluble. I did make some notes when I was researching this that eating it with amino decreases its bioavailability. So taking it on an empty stomach is better but it’s not going to kill you if you happen to make a mistake and you eat it right after a meal.
[17:11] Ashley James: The benefits of supplements is you’re not going to have these large reactions if you took a drug the wrong way.
[17:19] David Tomen: Yes. It’s just going to work better if you take it on an empty stomach. The thing about alpha lipoic acid supplements they contain a mixture of RLA and SLA. RLA is the natural kind of lipoic acid that’s found in our system. S lipoic acid is the synthetic kind. The thing is that R lipoic acid is pretty unstable. They combine it 50-50 with synthetic lipoic acid just to maintain it’s stability so that they could put in the capsule so you could take it as a supplement.
[18:03] Ashley James: Do you find that even though half of it is synthetic, people still gain benefit from taking it?
[18:09] David Tomen: Absolutely. There are a couple of R Lipoic acid versions that have been produced that are patented that would improve the stability of that particular as RSLA is a little bit more expensive but it’s possible to get plain RLA. You’re just going to pay more for it.
[18:26] Ashley James: I know one from Japan that was they claim it to be all-natural and stable.
[18:43] David Tomen: Yes. That’s the one that they used in Performance Lab Energy’s got that and that’s the one that I use. Anyway, that is lipoic acid. Another one that you can do is CoQ10. This is a natural antioxidant synthesized in every single cell in your body and brain and it helps produce adenosine triphosphate which is your mitochondria source of energy. There’s two types of CoQ10. There’s one ubiquinone. It gets converted to ubiquinol your cells and then once ubiquinol gets converted back to ubiquinone. We find that people that are over 40, there’s some research that shows that if you supplement with ubiquinol you get more benefit. Then some other people say ubiquinone is better for them. They get as much benefit from ubiquinone as they do from ubiquinol. One is more expensive than the other.
[19:41] Ashley James: I know that you have some supplements brands that you specifically recommend. We’ll make sure that we include that in the information on the show notes because after we had you on the first time, several listeners have reached out to me and said, “What brand do I get? David didn’t tell us what brand.” I know you’ve looked into the quality and the –
[20:11] David Tomen: I look deeply into the quality.
[20:11] Ashley James: Yes and I really want to make sure that we protect the listener that they make sure that they have access to the best quality.
[20:20] David Tomen: Okay. I know that alpha lipoic acid, the R lipoic acid that we’re talking about and Coenzyme Q10 are both available in Performance Lab Energy which is the one that I use.
[20:30] Ashley James: Okay. Great.
[20:32] David Tomen: Creatine. Creatine is a non-essential amino acid that synthesized in your liver and your brain uses it to recharge adenosine triphosphate that fuels mitochondria. ATP is directly involved in producing packaging and secreting neurotransmitters, which obviously affects intelligence, improves memory, faster thinking, improves mood. Creatine fuels ATP, which boosts cellular metabolism. This is another way that you can energize your cells. Another natural one is Gingko Biloba. Gingko is one of the oldest species of trees on earth. Gingko increases nitric oxide levels, which dilate blood vessels which increases cerebral circulation which improves oxygen and glucose availability to neurons which improve memory recall, cognition, and learning. There was one interesting study with 31 stroke patients that look at the effects of gingko in stroke recovery. The patients were given with 1,500 mg of gingko per day and the researchers found that the stroke patients using gingko had lower oxidative stress, inflammation, and better anti-oxidant levels. Along with the greater decrease in C-reactive proteins and an increase in circulating antioxidants.
[22:05] Ashely James: I love it. This is where it’s buyer beware. There was a group decided to test how much gingko Biloba was on the shelf at Walmart or Target or whatever pharmacy you could just buy capsules of Gingko Biloba and they discovered that many of the over the counter gingko Biloba supplements contain 100% filler and zero gingko Biloba.
[22:37] David Tomen: That happened in New York. That was when New York attorney general sued and went after Target, CBS, Walmart, and Walgreens I think and a couple of other big retailers that are white labeling these supplements and that’s what exactly what happened. I actually spent quite a bit of time and I wrote a couple of posts on this on how to choose the best supplement. We can do a whole podcast on just this but generally what you’re looking for is stay away from department store brands and drugstore brands of supplements because they sell drugs. That’s not their business. Look for a company that that’s all they do is produces and sells supplements. The Vitamin Shoppe is a good example although they were guilty of putting out some crap in years past but have lightly changed the way they’re doing things and they test everything now but other big brands like Now foods, Doctor’s Best, Nature’s Way. These companies all test their stuff before it goes into production, during production then after encapsulation before they ship it and will actually send you a certificate of analysis proving that what’s in that batch of capsules is actually in there on request. They usually indicate this to their website. A company like the Bulk Supplements for example. I believe you can pull download a certificate of analysis right from their website. A couple of companies do that but most of them you have to ask for it.
[24:31] Ashely James: Got it. I love it.
[24:34] David Tomen: Gingko, 40 mg three times a day.
[24:37] Ashely James: How much Creatine should we take?
[24:40] David Tomen: Creatine is kind of like up in the air grams. Creatine is a funny one because it’s sold as to the athletic world. There’s a bunch of different kinds of Creatine and from my research what I found is just that Creatine modified by a reputable supplement manufacturer works just as well as the other fancy ones. Up to five grams a day.
[25:19] Ashely James: Is that on empty stomach?
[25:22] David Tomen: Creatine probably better on an empty stomach otherwise it’s going to compete with stuff that’s going on because when you eat protein, for example, you’ve got transporters in your gut that help transport it to place in your body like your brain. When you take a supplement that is competing for the same transports one is going to win over the other one. Right? So it may work, it may not. It’s kind of like you’re not sure who’s going to win. Some things better to take on an empty stomach so it’s not competing with anything else.
[26:02] Ashely James: The CoQ10, I find it fascinating that those who are on Statin drugs need to take CoQ10 because statin drugs inhibit the body’s ability to produce CoQ10. We need CoQ10 for the heart to beat. It’s very, very important. Those on statin drugs will feel fatigued and exhausted as one of the side effects because the statin drugs are inhibiting the body’s ability to produce CoQ10 so their bodies just ran out of fuel so they have to supplement. But they’re told to supplement a very small amount. How much CoQ10 is optimal to take daily?
[26:41] David Tomen: 2 – 400 mg.
[26:44] Ashely James: Would you say that would be on empty stomach or with food?
[26:51] David Tomen: I’m not so sure that it makes a difference with CoQ10.
[26:56] Ashely James: There’s one thing about CoQ10 is we can take too much. Back when we lived in Las Vegas, I was supplementing with CoQ10 and a few other things. My husband had to go to work at 4 in the morning. I’d wake up and make him lunch and see him off. Sometimes I’d go back to bed. Sometimes I’d stay up. I woke up, I made him his lunch. I took my supplements, my 400 mg of CoQ10 and then I fell asleep on the couch. Woke up again, forgot I took my supplements, took another 400mg and I might have done it again later in the day forgetting I had taken my supplements but I ended up having a negative reaction. I thought I was going to die. My heart was just beating like crazy. No matter how much I breathe, I couldn’t get oxygen into my lungs. I felt like I was drowning. And I was lying there in the couch going, “That’s it. My husband’s going to come home and he’s going to find his wife dead.” Later upon looking this up and talking to a naturopath, I discovered that you can take if you take too much CoQ10 it can cause an adrenal dump. I was experiencing basically my adrenal is completely dumping and me going through that stress response not knowing what I was stressed about lying on the couch thinking I was going to die. It’s not lethal but it can be very uncomfortable to take too much CoQ10 which you have to really, really overdose but if you stay under the 400 mg a day you’re not going to experience what I experienced.
[28:46] David Tomen: I’ve got even more specific dosage recommendations than that on my CoQ10 dosage notes on the Nootropics Expert. For example, if you’re using it as an anti-oxidant, 60 – 150 mg per day, for muscle control problems 300 – 3,000 mg. For Alzheimer’s disease 400 mg. For heart attack recovery, 30 – 600 mg. Even I’ve got other ones too, male infertility and Peyronie’s disease, 30 – 300 mg. Diabetic nerve pain, 400 mg. Weight loss, 100 mg. The dosage recommendations were pretty specific on what you’re trying to do. If you’re just using it if you’re a reasonably healthy person and you just want to use it as help boost your anti-oxidant defenses 60 – 150 mg.
[29:40] Ashley James: Got it. Awesome. We’ve got the Alpha lipoic acid, the CoQ10, Creatine, Gingko Biloba. What’s next?
[29:51] David Tomen: N-acetyl L-Cysteine. This is naturally occurring amino acid. Well, it’s L-cysteine. There’s just an acetyl group added to it to increase its bioavailability and it works primarily by restoring glutathione.
[30:11] Ashley James: I’ve got some right here. NAC right?
[30:16] David Tomen: Yup. NAC. I think NAC is an amazing supplement because it not only does it helps glutathione I find that when I’m using NAC, when everybody else around me has got the flu or a cold, I don’t get it but it also helps restore dopamine receptors which is really important for me being adult ADD and using Ritalin. Right? 600 mg three times a day.
[30:43] Ashley James: Oh, man. I’m taking 500 mg twice a day so you’re saying 600 mg three times a day?
[30:51] David Tomen: 500 mg twice a day is good. But you can take another one.
[30:58] Ashley James: Did you say 600 three times a day?
[31:00] David Tomen: Yes.
[31:01] Ashley James: Okay, three times a day. What introduced me to NAC, my son before we figured out why he was having this constant runny nose, stuffy nose then occasional asthma and he’s so healthy, eats so clean, “What’s going on?” and we finally found our naturopathic pediatrician that he has allergies. To dust mites then he has about seven food allergies just odd foods like garlic which is in everything. It’s really hard to avoid garlic obviously he does a lot of meals at home of garlic, oats, dairy, and fish. Just pretty much all the fish he’s allergic to. If he’s exposed to garlic for example. He’ll have stuffy nose. If it’s garlic and then he goes and plays at a friend’s house and he’s exposed to more dust mites, it’s kind of a one-two punch his histamine goes through the roof and he can get into a bit of asthma or his nose becomes completely clogged and so our naturopath said for him to take NAC every day. That NAC in large doses causes mucus to become more fluid and so if you have a stuffy nose, then by taking it, it’ll drain the nose. At one point I had a head cold and I just took NAC all day long. I couldn’t believe it. It was so wonderful. It just drained the area and also the added benefit that it’s a wonderful support for our anti-oxidant system in the body. I have seen positive results from this supplement.
[32:43] David Tomen: It’s one of my favorite supplements. Anti-inflammatory as a free radical scavenger. It’s just NAC is good stuff. Get some.
[32:56] Ashley James: On your website, do you sell it? Do you have links to your favorite brand?
[33:03] David Tomen: For some, I started to do that. I don’t think that I did it for NAC. I use Doctor’s Best.
[33:15] Ashley James: Okay, great. I just buy it straight from my naturopath. They branded themselves so I don’t know who makes it but I trust my naturopath but Doctor’s Best is a good brand.
[33:30] David Tomen: You’ll know that if it’s working if you’re getting results from it you know that it’s a good supplement.
[33:34] Ashley James: Yes, we’re getting results so I’m happy with it. If you don’t get any results from NAC then change brands.
[33:41] David Tomen: Exactly. [Laughter]
[33:34] Ashley James: Awesome.
[33:46] David Tomen: The next thing that we should talk about is synapses and brain aging.
[33:51] Ashley James: Before we do, can you explain for those who don’t know the synapses? Can you give people the basic understating of why the synapses is important?
[34:03] David Tomen: I call it an empty space but it’s not really an empty space between neurons. When neurons fire they send electrical signals across the synaptic cleft to the neuron next door. It’s like the joint between neurons. The communication junction between neurons.
[34:28] Ashley James: It’s like the cell tower between the two cellphones.
[34:32] David Tomen: Kind of like that, yes. Synapses they wear out. For example, when they did autopsies on Alzheimer’s patients, they found that there was a profound decrease in synapse numbers in brain regions involving learning and memory. Same thing with Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease. The reduction of number of synapses in your brain could be part of the cause for brain shrinkage as we get older as well. Now you seen these stories of how your brain shrinks as you get older. One of the reasons is you’re losing synapses. Our brain loses 5% of its weight per decade after the age 40, part of that is synapse loss. When you start losing synapses of they’re break and they don’t work, your brain signaling starts breaking down. That’s how our brain works. It’s by signaling between neurons and when it can’t signal anymore, you’re in big trouble. We know that we can increase the number of synapses it’s called synaptogenesis. The growth of new synapses by increasing brain-derived nootropic factor. I wrote a separate post on 13 different nootropics that I identified to boost BDNF or Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor. One neuroscientist called it miracle growth for the brain.
[36:15] Ashley James: [Laughter] Sign me up.
[36:19] David Tomen: Right? You can boost BDNF with Ashwagandha. Ashwagandha is been used before thousands of years but recent researches have shown that Ashwagandha helps regenerate axons and dendrites in synapses.
[36:39] Ashley James: Fascinating. I love Ashwagandha because it is so nice and tonifying for the adrenals. I know it from that angle. You know, from the brain angle.
[36:51] David Tomen: It’s a very, very powerful supplement.
[36:54] Ashley James: Would you recommend it someone just to drink it as a tea all day long? Take it in a capsule form? How much Ashwagandha would be beneficial?
[37:05] David Tomen: 250 – 500 mg a day. Probably the easiest way to make sure that you’re getting the exact doses by taking capsules. But again, there is usually it’s typically Ashwagandha extract and the ayurvedic pharmacopeia of India recommends 3 – 6 g daily of standard ground Ashwagandha powder but we typically buy an extract that’s 45% with anilides. If it’s 45% with anilides, it depends what we want to do. For arthritis, 250 – 500 mg. For antioxidant production, 100 mg. For immunity, 100 – 200 mg. For sexual performance, 250 – 500 mg. It depends on what you want to use it for. If you’re going to take 500 mg you divide the dose up to 250 mg in the morning and then 250 mg in early afternoon.
[38:11] Ashley James: Is this something you take with food or without food?
[38:13] David Tomen: It doesn’t matter with Ashwagandha.
[38:17] Ashley James: So you can’t take it with your food?
[38:21] David Tomen: You can take it with your food. It’s better to find an extract from a reputable company because you know what’s on the labels is actually what’s on the capsule and preferably there’s no other ingredient listed on the label either and certified organic is even better.
[38:41] Ashley James: Right. Especially if it’s an extract since it’s like a concentrate you don’t want concentrated pesticides in your supplement.
[38:49] David Tomen: Or heavy metals or herbicides. Ashwagandha is good for restoring synapses. Artichoke extract is a natural PDE4 inhibitor that supports the secondary messenger cyclic adenosine monophosphate or cAMP. cAMP helps stimulate the productions of CREB which stands for cAMP response element-binding protein. That CREB is a protein that’s needed for new neuron and synapse growth. I know that sounds a little complicated.
[39:29] Ashley James: No, like it. It sounds delicious. I love artichoke. Could I just eat artichokes all day or is this really strong concentrate?
[39:38] David Tomen: Artichoke extract is preferable. Artichoke extract because it increases CREB. It also enhances long-term potentiation. Long-term potentiation is what’s behind the encoding of long term memory. Recommended dosage is 400 mg a day, I’m sorry 900 mg a day.
[40:06] Ashley James: Do we divide that up? Or just?
[40:08] David Tomen: Preferably, yes. Most of these supplements, when you get into higher dosages like that it’s preferable to divide them up into two or three. Which is generally easy to do because you can get artichoke extract for example 300 mg taken three times a day.
[40:25] Ashley James: Right. I’ve never heard of artichoke extract. I’ve never considered an artichoke as an herb or medicinal plant. So it’s very cool.
[40:36] David Tomen: It is. The next one is a very, very powerful supplement and that’s Berberine. Berberine increases glucagon-like peptide or GLP-1. This is peptide hormone plays a critical role in controlling diabetes but it’s also involved in cognition, learning, and neuroprotection. Studies have shown that when you enhance GLP-1, it enhances synaptic plasticity. It also reduces the aggregation of amyloid-β protein and Tau. Berberine can help prevent Alzheimer’s. I actually use it for insulin resistance.
[41:27] Ashley James: How much Berberine is good to take and can we take it with food or without food?
[41:33] David Tomen: You can take it with food. How much do I take? I’m trying to remember what’s on the bottle. The recommended dose is between 900 – 1,500 mg a day. I think I might use 500 mg. I’m taking that three times a day. I found that once I started taking it when I got my labs back, they were normal.
[41:57] Ashley James: Nice. You mentioned diabetes and I think that’s really important to touch on is that there seemed that even if you don’t diabetes, you have just pre-diabetes or your blood sugar is not optimal. Even just having not optimal blood sugars, so your blood sugars high sometimes but not enough to consider diabetes, even that is enough to do damage to the brain. They’re finding that they can do brain scans and see that your brain has significantly aged and lost vasculature significantly because of unregulated high blood sugar. It’s like when a disease is painful, like arthritis, it gets a softer buts to take action and do something about it but when it’s silent like high blood pressure or having unregulated blood sugar, sometimes we’re not aware of the symptoms, right? There’s no pain so we’re not motivated to do something about it. Here the motivator is if we don’t have really good blood sugar then it is destroying our brain and many other parts of our body that we don’t see but high blood sugar causes damage to the circulatory system across the board and inflammation, especially to the brain. They’re seeing that even just pre-diabetes is enough to do a lot of damage to the brain. People with full-blown diabetes especially if they’ve had periods of unregulated high blood sugar that the brain is very negatively affected and ages very quickly in that state. Berberine wonderful recommendation.
[44:05] David Tomen: One of the drugs that are the primary the most popular drug that most doctors prescribe for pre-diabetes is Metformin. Berberine in clinical trials has been found to be as good as Metformin for diabetes.
[44:27] Ashley James: They tried to put me on Metformin. I was type-2 diabetic and I reversed it with naturopathic medicine and that’s one of the reasons why I do this podcast. They tried to put me on metformin and it made me so sick. I’m so thankful that I experienced every single side effect that it has. One of my friends actually went on metformin and it caused her to be in and out of the hospital for a year with acute pancreatitis. She was only able to drink broth for an entire year and it made her so sick. It made me sick but I would not have to live in a hospital but I experienced all the symptoms and decided to get off of it and decided to look for the more natural route. A lot of times people are put on Metformin even preventively like, “You’re pre-diabetic. Let’s get you a Metformin now so we can prevent you from going further.” I love that you’re pointing out that Berberine can be more effective and also much less side effects.
[45:34] David Tomen: Far, far for your side effects. The only side effect that I came across was long-term use of Berberine can affect muscle protein synthesis and cause muscle atrophy. If you’re worried about muscle loss either don’t use Berberine or exercise a little bit.
[45:54] Ashley James: There you go, or use it short term.
[45:58] David Tomen: Use it short term but it is a very, very potent supplement. Moving on, Berberine, Forskolin. Forskolin is the only known nootropic supplement to naturally and directly boost cAMP which is Cyclic Adenosine Monophosphate.
[46:20] Ashley James: Can you spell that? Forskolin?
[46:22] David Tomen: F-O-R-S-K-O-L-I-N. Forskolin. We already talked about this with artichoke extract. cAMP directly stimulates the production of CREB which is the protein needed for new neuron and synapse growth and CREB enhances long-term potentiation. Either from artichoke extract or forskolin.
[46:57] Ashley James: So they would do one or the other?
[47:00] David Tomen: One or the other. For Forskolin, 125 – 250 mg a day. Another one that’s very effective for synapses is Vitamin B8, Inositol. Inositol which is naturally not really a vitamin they found out but Inositol acts as a “secondary messenger” that facilitates communication between brain cells. Lower than normal levels of Myo-inositol in middle-aged adults can signal the initial stages of cognitive decline such as Alzheimer’s and dementia. My wife uses inositol actually for lipido. Myo-inositol is pretty amazing supplements for whole bunch of different reasons but it will help you grow on your synapses. It helps boosts serotonin and dopamine in your brain, dopamine. And serotonin receptor sensitivity. It improves the effectiveness of serotonin glutamate and dopamine. Myo-inositol effects MRNA, which regulates cell volume. Phosphatidylinositol signaling pathways control signals inside and outside our brain cells. Inositol plays a role in DNA repair, long-term potentiation. It’s a component of brain cell membranes that regulates cell metabolism and cellular energy consumption.
[48:42] Ashley James: Is this something that’s normally in just a multi B vitamin or should we take it separately?
[48:51] David Tomen: This one you need to take in separately because it’s not in most B supplements and you want to look specifically for Myo-inositol. It’s M-Y-O dash Inositol.
[49:07] Ashley James: Is this something that we can take on an empty stomach or with food?
[49:12] David Tomen: You can take this on either one. Empty stomach or on food. This is a pretty amazing supplement actually. It’s one of those unsung supplements that most people don’t know about. It makes it easier for you to fall asleep but it doesn’t knock you out like sleep meds do. It increases serotonin, dopamine receptors densities so that you can think faster and your memory is better.
[49:42] Ashley James: Sign me up.
[49:44] David Tomen: Yes. Inositol is great for social occasions because anxiety levels decrease. Inositol outperformed Prozac at reducing panic attacks in one clinical study.
[49:59] Ashley James: Wow.
[50:00] David Tomen: Wasn’t that amazing?
[50:01] Ashley James: It is amazing. Now, are there foods that we can increase to get this?
[50:08] David Tomen: Not that on amounts that we need it. If we need it.
[50:17] Ashley James: We want the concentration if we want to prevent panic attacks for example?
[50:22] David Tomen: Yes.
[50:23] Ashley James: Right.
[50:24] David Tomen: If you want to avoid Prozac but you still need the help, try out Inositol. The nice thing about Inositol is that you can use it with an anti-depressant. A lot of supplements you can’t because you’ll get into big trouble but Myo-Inositol is not a problem. Actually it helps, it seems to improve, it helps make your anti-depressant meds work better.
[50:51] Ashley James: Now I know that you take on clients that you just coach people and a lot of people will come to you because they’re on anti-depressants or they’re are other ends and they want to take in supplements but they don’t know what’s going to negatively effects them. We talked about this a little bit in episode 362 that most doctors have no training around, I meant the doctors would prescribe you with an anti-depressant but they don’t really know about the supplements and the herbs and what would be good and not good to take. This is just not in the real house. Can a listener get an appointment with you if they are on medication and they want to know if these nootropics would be okay? Do you have that level of research under your belt?
[51:49] David Tomen: Yes. I have been that. I have been doing consulting several times a week since I started about a year ago. It’s turning out to be pretty popular. If you’re using to this internationally, we’ll do it over Skype. If you’re in the United States or Canada we can do it over Skype or just over the phone but I do have power sessions or one hour sessions. Typically, the initial consultation is an hour because there’s so much to cover but if somebody’s dealing with depression for example and are on anti-depressants and want to get off or just want to start nootropics but don’t know where to start because it could be dangerous to combine some of this stuff, I’ll walk you through all that.
[52:30] Ashley James: Right because you’ve looked at all the studies so you’re basing it all on the science which I really appreciate.
[52:38] David Tomen: Yes. You can get yourself into loads and loads of trouble using some of these supplements.
[52:43] Ashley James: Right. If you’re on medication. If a listener is is not on any medication, they’re free to take these supplements, you’ve given us the doses at very safe levels?
[52:55] David Tomen: Yes.
[52:57] Ashley James: Excellent. I take it that none of these supplements would contradict the other ones. They will complement.
[53:06] David Tomen: You can take all of those at the same time for these particular thing for synapses then you’re fine. Included in this lesson, we still have more to go here so we’re going to have to move on but I also have to help synapse growth, magnesium, Pterostilbene, Uridine Monophosphate. Those all help restore synapse growth. The next thing I’d like to talk about Ashley is, Alzheimer’s and dementia and brain aging because it’s a growing problem. In the case of Alzheimer’s for example, they’re looking for drugs that inhibit amyloid b protein intel production. Nobody has been able to come up with the secret sauce yet with whatever drug that prevents Alzheimer’s but there are supplements you can take to help prevent it from happening. For example, Huperzine-A. Boosts neuron resistance to beta-amyloid–induced dysfunction that could lead to diseases like Alzheimer’s. Beta-amyloid affects ATP levels in mitochondria. Huperzine-A protects against this damage. Huperzine-A is 200 micrograms per day once every third day. You can’t use the supplements every day. Another great one for preventing B-Amyloid aggregation is Resveratrol because Resveratrol activates AMPK, which reduces levels of Amyloid-beta deposits in the cerebral cortex. It prevents β-amyloid aggregation by scavenging oxygen free radicals, which induces protective enzymes such as heme oxygenase. Which prevents the build-up of deposits causing Alzheimer’s. Resveratrol, depending on what you’re using it for 20 – 250 mg a day. Piracetam. We haven’t talked much about the Piracetams or the Racetams but Piracetam was the very first nootropic ever invented. It was invented back in 1962. I believe it was. It’s used as a prescription drug in many places around the world to treat things like brain aging, brain injuries, dementia and Alzheimer’s. Several studies show that Piracetam enhances ATP production. Mitochondria membranes and neuroid outgrow in neurons. One study the researches shows Piracetam is able to repair mitochondria in those with mild Alzheimer’s and return their cellular function back to normal. Which is a very big deal. Piracetam you have to know how to dose it. They don’t call it a dietary supplement in the United States but you can buy it as a supplement they call it a research compound. It’s not something that you can buy in like Amazon but there’s a few companies that sell it online like Nootropics Depot for example. Dosage is usually 4,000 mg a day divided into three doses but you have to take it with Alpha GPC or CBP choline because it boosts the use of acetylcholine in your brain and if you don’t take it with acetylcholine supplement, you’ll get a headache.
[56:51] Ashley James: Why don’t they just include it?
[56:57] David Tomen: That’s a very good question. [Laughter] I don’t know.
[57:00] Ashley James: They’re selling something that an uninformed person would get a headache every time they took the supplement. You think that they’d want to prevent that.
[57:08] David Tomen: The thing is that the uninformed person doesn’t buy something like Piracetam. Right? Because you have to search this out and find it. It’s actually called nootropil when it’s sold as a drug in some countries but here you just look for Piracetam. It was invented by Dr. Corneliu Giurgea. He was the one who coined the term nootropic in 1973.
[57:41] Ashley James: I’m going to put it out there. I think you should work with a really good company in private label supplement and just take all these wonderful nutrients and make some kind of multi-nootropic and you should sell that because I would buy that.
[58:02] David Tomen: You know it will probably be better to make individual stacks to treat depending on what you’re trying to treat. That’s a whole other conversation. Several people have suggested that I do it. It’s just starting a supplement company, it’s an undertaking.
[58:20] Ashley James: I bet. Yes. We’re all rooting for you.
[58:28] David Tomen: Thank you. St. John’s Wort. Research shows that St. John’s Wort extract decreases oxidative stress. It prevents neurotoxicity. It controls inflammation. And maybe an effective treatment for oxidative stress-related neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. St John’s Wort is easy to get but you have to be very careful with St. John’s Wort because it’s not something you combine with SSRI or you can get yourself into a load of trouble. If you’re not taking any anti-depressants or anti-anxiety drugs, St. John’s Wort is a fantastic option. 900 – 1,800 mg a day. The research shows that it has effective for anxiety and depression as prescription drugs. But we have the side benefit that it could possibly prevent Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Turmeric. Curcumin, which is the most active compound in turmeric, may help macrophages clear the amyloid plaques found in Alzheimer’s disease. Curcumin is something that we can do an entire podcast on because it does so many different things but just to sum it up, studies show that curcumin binds to amyloid-beta proteins found in Alzheimer’s disease and blocks its self-assembly. Studies show that heavy metals can induce Amyloid-beta aggregation that is concentrated in Alzheimer’s disease. Curcumin, by interaction with heavy metals such as cadmium and lead, prevents the neurotoxicity caused by these metals.
[01:00:25] Ashley James: Really? Oh, that’s cool. Does it cross the blood-brain barrier?
[01:00:31] David Tomen: It does. It just needs a little help. They found that they could boost the bioavailability of curcumin or turmeric by 2,000% by using it with Piperine.
[01:00:45] Ashley James: Right. Adding the black pepper. That’s the only reason why I have black pepper at the house, it’s to boost my curry. [Laughter]
[01:00:58] David Tomen: I actually use Bioperine on it. I’ve got a separate Bioperine supplement that I use for certain supplements to boost their availability. Now, let’s talk about vascular dementia and cerebral circulation. Your chances of developing white matter lesions and strokes and dementia increases as you age. If your family has a history of these types of diseases, your chances are even higher for this happening. White matter lesions are damage to the white matter in your brain and the primary cause seems to be bad blood circulation. Blood vessel damages associated with high blood pressure and small vessel disease would put you at a greater risk for stroke and other problems. Dementia and vascular dementia seems to be related. Both types are associated with a host of brain problems including increased risk of Alzheimer’s, stroke, disorder of the blood-brain barrier and arterial sclerosis. Research shows that problems with cerebral blood follow and white matter lesions in other associated brain cellular changes begin in mid-life. So like around 40. It’s never too early to start using some of this stuff. How do we boost cerebral circulation? We can do that with cat’s claw. Cat’s claw is a South American vine. That’s a very potent anti-inflammatory, it’s antioxidant effects that support DNA repair, immune function and normal cell division. Cat’s Claw has been shown in clinical studies to protect the brain from damage from stroke. Recommended dosage of Cat’s Claw standardized extract is 250 – 350 mg a day. Forskolin, which we already talked about, also helps boost cerebral circulation. Gingko Biloba, which we already talked about, also increases cerebral blood flow because it increases nitric oxide. Oat straw increases blood flow through several different mechanisms of action. It contains the amino acid arginine, which synthesizes to create nitric oxide. Nitric oxide dilates blood vessels allowing blood to flow easier. There are also, they’re hard to pronounce but they’re certain bioactive compounds that are unique to oats that has been shown to enhance nitric oxide production in human smooth muscle cells. It suppresses the inflammatory cytokines that work in combination with increased nitric oxide, which increases blood flow. Recommended dosage for Oat Straw extract is 800 – 1,600 mg a day. Another good one that we haven’t talked about is Pine Bark Extract. Pine Bark Extract as a nootropic is used primarily to increase cerebral blood flow. It does it by increasing nitric oxide in your brain. Resveratrol. Did we talked about resveratrol, yes?
[01:04:28] Ashley James: You had mentioned it briefly.
[01:04:32] David Tomen: Some speculate that resveratrol found in red wine accounts for the French paradox which you know how the French can dine on baguettes and cheese and pate and pastries and they still don’t put on weight and they live longer. They think it’s because part of the reason is that Resveratrol increases cerebral circulation. Recommended dosage is 20 – 250 mg a day. One of my favorite supplements is Vinpocetine, which they’re trying to make illegal in the United States. You can’t buy it on Amazon anymore.
[01:05:15] Ashley James: Okay, explain what’s going on? What’s the controversy around it?
[01:05:19] David Tomen: Because somebody claims that back in 1983, they put a patent on it, so they want to sell it as a drug. It’s actually sold as a drug in several countries around the world. It’s just that it’s available for the last three decades or so as a dietary supplement. You can still get it from Life Extension and Swanson still makes it and a couple of other supplement companies but Amazon refuses to sell it.
[01:05:47] Ashley James: What is it?
[01:05:48] David Tomen: It’s a semi-synthetic derivative of vincamine, an alkaloid derived from the lesser periwinkle plant.
[01:05:58] Ashley James: I remember you talking about this a little bit on our last interview.
[01:06:02] David Tomen: Yes. It inhibits an enzyme called PDE1 it also reduces calcium levels in brain cells. When both of these are elevated smooth muscle in blood vessels contract, narrowing the diameter of blood vessels. Vinpocetine helps turn this around. I can actually feel Vinpocetine when I use it and I miss it when I don’t have it. I feel better. You know what I did yesterday, I went to see the doctor and I have a little problem with my blood pressure. I need to keep it under control and I was afraid going to the doctor that I was going to be like 150 something over 80 something and she tested it, my blood pressure was 138/69, I think.
[01:06:57] Ashley James: Very cool. It’s the second number is more important.
[01:07:00] David Tomen: Yes. You know how I did that?
[01:07:02] Ashley James: With the Vinpocetine?
[01:07:04] David Tomen: Yes. Just before I went to the doctor.
[01:07:08] Ashley James: The first number which was definitely high but that could absolutely be just from the stress of being in the doctor’s office.
[01:07:16] David Tomen: They’ve actually shown that. That your blood pressure increases when you’re at the doctor’s office. Vinpocetine really works. I love it. All you need is 10 mg three times a day. 10 mg before you go to the doctor. Vitamin B3 or Niacin, which most people know about, helps increase nitric oxide and helps blood flow in your entire body and cerebral circulation. Niacin does a whole bunch of other stuff too but right now, we’re just talking about increasing cerebral circulation so niacin does that. Vitamin B6 is needed to regulate homocysteine. High homocysteine levels are linked to inflammation that can lead to blood vessel damage and possible plaque buildup leading to heart attack or stroke. Vitamin B12 or methylcobalamin is essential for the synthesis of DNA, RNA and neurotransmitters, the maintenance of myelin sheaths and red blood cell formation. You actually need vitamin B6 and Vitamin B9 (Folate) and Vitamin B12 (methylcobalamin) to keep your homocysteine levels down. That’s my story on preventing Alzheimer’s. It’s not a sure thing but there are certain things that you can do to really increase your chances of it not happening.
[01:08:56] Ashley James: In terms of diet, what is a good diet for supporting brain health?
[01:09:04] David Tomen: I just did a video on that and I just published it this morning. In this video, there are 11 essential nutrients that we normally get from food and you need each one of these nutrients every single day for either two or three meals to maintain decent brain health and they include things like carbohydrates and potassium and sodium and check out that video on YouTube. I just published it. A normal brain-healthy diet is going to be healthy fats. You need carbohydrates but reducing the amount of or you want complex carbohydrates rather than simple carbohydrates.
[01:09:55] Ashley James: So don’t do flour-based foods. Eat the sweet potato. Don’t eat the bread. Don’t eat the pasta, go have some legumes.
[01:10:05] David Tomen: I actually stopped eating things like pasta and bread. I just feel better. A lot of things changed. Of course, fruits and vegetables.
[01:10:18] Ashley James: Excellent. So whole foods plant-based diet would definitely support brain health.
[01:10:22] David Tomen: And healthy fats. Like grass-fed red meat provides all kinds of vitamins and minerals that your body needs. The other thing that happens with aging is neurotransmitter starts to decline and this is the last we’re going to talk about when it comes to aging. Studies show that the dopamine and serotonin levels decline as we age. Dopamine levels begin to decline by around 10% per decade starting in your early 20’s. That leads to declines in cognitive and motor performance. In other words, you don’t think as fast as you once did and you don’t move as fast either because you got less dopamine. Serotonin and brain-derived neurotrophic factor also decline with age. The enzyme monoamine oxidase increases with age, which degrades serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. The more monoamine oxidase, the more increases, the more you experience the negative effects on memory, mood, and behavior. As a matter of fact Monoamine oxidase inhibitors have long been used to treat behavior disorders including depression. Now we have several natural nootropic options for increasing neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin and for reducing or inhibiting Monoamine oxidase. Aniracetam is a fat-soluble ampakine nootropic that is well known in the nootropics community, it’s one of my favorite nootropics. It’s a fantastic anxiolytic.
[01:12:10] Ashley James: What does that mean?
[01:12:11] David Tomen: It means it’s anti-anxiety. It helps reduce anxiety and depression and fear and increase sociability. Clinical studies show that Aniracetam affects dopamine, acetylcholine, and serotonin receptors in your brain. The recommended dosage is 1,500 mg per day. Taken in two 750 mg doses, which is what I do. You’ve got to take it with a healthy fat like coconut oil and you have to take it with a good choline supplement like Alpha GPC or CDP-Choline because it –
[01:12:49] Ashley James: Why don’t they sell it in coconut oil with the choline?
[01:12:53] David Tomen: Because the Racetams are still research compounds. They’re not really sold as dietary supplements so you’re kind of like on your own when you’re using more of these “experimental supplements”.
[01:13:13] Ashley James: What is it made from?
[01:13:16] David Tomen: Aniracetam is a derivative of Piracetam and Piracetam is a derivative of GABA.
[01:13:30] Ashley James: I know that there’s lots of GABA receptors in the brain but I don’t know much about it. Do you know how do they make the supplement? Is it synthetic or is it from –
[01:13:44] David Tomen: Piracetam is a cyclic derivative of GABA and that was first invented by Dr. Giurgea back in 1962 because he was looking for a drug to treat motion sickness. I think it was motion sickness in astronauts. But he found out that it worked better for improving cognitive performance. Since then there has been probably a dozen at least Racetams invented developed off the original Piracetam that are all built around this, it’s a chemical core so if you take a look at the chemical structure of these things and you compare them side by side there’s just one little branch that’s different from the next. It’s a cyclic derivative of GABA. Aniracetam is similar to Piracetam. They have found in there has been tons and tons of studies done. It was invented by Hoffmann-La Roche. I believe in Switzerland in 1978. And it’s sold as a prescription drug it’s called Ampamet, Draganon, Memodrin, Referan, Sarpul in Europe but you can buy it as a research compound here. You can actually buy Aniracetam on Amazon.
[01:15:25] Ashley James: Just make sure you take it with coconut oil and choline.
[01:15:30] David Tomen: Choline, yes because it releases 2 – 300% more acetylcholine in your brain.
[01:15:38] Ashley James: And you don’t want to end up with the headache?
[01:15:40] David Tomen: Correct. You get a Racetam headache. DHEA which is also called the “youth hormone”. DHEA is the most abundant hormone precursor in your body and is the source of your sex hormones. DHEA levels start decline as you age starting at around your 25th birthday. This is for men and women it’s bigger problem for men than women but it’s still a problem. Higher levels of DHEA are directly related to optimal concentration, working memory, and executive function. And DHEA is a natural MAO inhibitor which improves mood and energy levels
[01:16:26] Ashley James: How much is a good dose to take?
[01:16:27] David Tomen: 25 – 50 mg a day for anyone over 18.
[01:16:33] Ashley James: That’s the DHEA?
[01:16:35] David Tomen: DHEA, yes. Now there’s controversy around this because this is a steroid hormone. See my full review in Nootropics Expert for DHEA but anybody over 18 can get away with 25 mg a day and stay out of trouble from my research. Mucuna Pruriens or L-DOPA is synthesized in your brain by the amino acid. Anyway, it makes dopamine in your brain. It’s the precursor to dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. It boosts growth hormone levels in your brain to increase the production of neurons and glia cells. L-DOPA also produces neuromelanin, which are similar to the melanin pigment in your skin. So you get a tan easier and in your brain they absorb toxic quinones, and chelate heavy metals like mercury and lead.
[01:17:43] Ashley James: What’s its name again?
[01:17:44] David Tomen: Mucuna Pruriens.
[01:17:47] Ashley James: Can you spell that?
[01:17:48] David Tomen: Yes. Mucuna is M-U-C-U-N-A new word P-R-U-R-I-E-N-S. Mucuna Pruriens is usually 98% extract. It is 250 – 500 mg a day. Very powerful to increase dopamine.
[01:18:11] Ashley James: It increases dopamine but it also helps you get a tan?
[01:18:16] David Tomen: Yes.
[01:18:18] Ashley James: That is so cool.
[01:18:20] David Tomen: They use synthetic L-DOPA to treat Parkinson’s disease. Some have found that you can naturally treat Parkinson’s using Mucuna Pruriens and not have that side effects you get from synthetic L-DOPA because synthetic L-DOPA causes problems in your periphery and all of your places other than where it’s supposed to be in your brain. You don’t have that problem with Mucun Pruriens. L-Theanine which we were talking about before we started doing this podcast. L-Theanine is an amino acid found in green tea. L-Theanine increases GABA, serotonin and dopamine levels in your brain. As well as increasing Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor and Nerve Growth Factor and L-Theanine is an antagonist of NMDA receptors, which can inhibit synaptic release of glutamate. Which protects your brain from over-stimulation caused by glutamate, and possible glutamate toxicity. Research has found that if L-Theanine is present in the body at the time stroke occurs, brain damage is significantly reduced. A study in China concluded there was a 40% decreased risk of stroke in those who drank green, black or jasmine teas. Isn’t that amazing?
[01:19:50] Ashley James: Oh, my gosh. How much tea you just need to drink it every day or should someone take it as a supplement if they’re concerned they’re going to have a stroke?
[01:20:00] David Tomen: If you’re concerned for stroke, 2 – 4 mg twice a day as a supplement.
[01:20:07] Ashley James: Because it’s an amino acid, you take it on an empty stomach?
[01:20:10] David Tomen: Yes, but I drink it as green tea so I drink it whether I’m eating a meal or not. It’s just I’m drinking green tea all the time. You can get pretty much as much L-Theanine as you need for a reasonable normal healthy person by drinking four or five cups of green tea per day.
[01:20:29] Ashley James: Excellent and there’s no concerns about how much caffeine that is in the green tea of you’re drinking five cups a day?
[01:20:38] David Tomen: It depends on the green tea. Usually the caffeine amount is listed on the label so check the label but it’s by a third of the caffeine that you normally get from coffee.
[01:20:57] Ashley James: Is there more L-Theanine in green tea that is like the new leaf versus the oolong which comes from the branches, right? There’s this idea that drinking the newer buds versus drinking a tea that’s made more from a plant has been around longer has different compounds in it. Does that matter?
[01:21:27] David Tomen: It’s more about how it is steeped.
[01:21:30] Ashley James: How do we steep it?
[01:21:33] David Tomen: I actually wrote about this. Research at the University of New Castle in Australia set out to determine the optimal conditions for water extraction of healthy from green tea and they examined four different extraction methods and they learned that temperature, extraction time and ratio of water to tea and tea particles size had impacts on the extraction yield of L-Theanine from green tea. They concluded that the optimal conditions for extracting L-Theanine from green tea using water were found to be, are you ready for this? Extraction at 80°C for 30 minutes with the water to tea ratio of 20 to 1 milliliters per gram and a tea particle size of .5 to 1 milliliters.
[01:22:27] Ashley James: Okay, you’ve lost me at the water. [Laughter] 20 mg, so that’s 20 to 1 ratio of how much water?
[01:22:39] David Tomen: The water to tea ratio used to be 20 – 1 milliliters to grams.
[01:22:45] Ashley James: So milliliters to grams. Got it.
[01:22:48] David Tomen: And the tea particle size a half to one millimeter.
[01:22:54] Ashley James: Okay. I’ve been grinding my tea in a spice grinder thinking that more surface area means more flavor I guess.
[01:23:03] David Tomen: That’s not what these guys found.
[01:23:08] Ashley James: Wonderful. So steep it and do keep it at 80°c for 30 minutes or you just bring it to 8°c and leave it for 30 minutes?
[01:23:18] David Tomen: I’m thinking just bring it to 80°c then leave it for 30 minutes.
[01:23:23] Ashley James: Unless you’re cooking it. Cooking your tea. Like if you go to traditional Chinese medicine practitioner they will give you some stinky herbs to take home and cook on the stove.
[01:23:35] David Tomen: That’s water extraction. If you buy it as a supplement there is a patented version called Suntheanine. It’s L-Theanine extraction from green tea called Suntheanine so look for that.
[01:23:55] Ashley James: Right. Or you could just have fun drinking the green tea.
[01:23:57] David Tomen: Or you could just have fun drinking green tea because there’s so many different teas. You go to Wholefood’s and you look at the shelf of green teas. There’s just row after row after row to experiment. There’s got to be one in there some place that you like. If you’ve never drank tea before you don’t really care for tea there’s got to be one in there that you’ll like.
[01:24:19] Ashley James: So the supplement company that I buy all my supplements from sells a green tea blend and I’m in love with it. It tastes so good. I’ve actually got my husband loving it which is like a miracle because he does not like tea and this morning he goes, “Did you make me cup?” so he loves it. I discovered that he’s been brewing it on his own. I’m the only one who does anything in the kitchen. He’s been brewing it on his own. This is how much he likes it. I’m very happy that I found a great green tea blend. Now you give me the formula for proper L-Theanine extraction.
[01:25:02] David Tomen: My favorite is Tazo organic chai.
[01:25:34] Ashley James: You told me that right before we started and I’m going to have to get some the next time at Wholefoods. Yes, do you do anything to it or you just put it on hot water?
[01:25:16] David Tomen: Just put it on hot water. I got myself and went to Walmart. 20 bucks got this glass kettle so I can boil water in about 2 minutes and I can make it really fast and put a little bit of honey in it. It’s amazing. Anyway moving on here, we’re talking about increasing neurotransmitters. If you don’t want to use Mucuna Pruriens to increase dopamine. You can use N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine or L-Tyrosine because the dopamine pathway goes like this. It’s Phenylalanine to L-Tyrosine to L-DOPA to dopamine to norepinephrine to epinephrine. You can do it. You typically start with L-Tyrosine. L-Tyrosine is a gentler way to boost dopamine that Mucuna Pruriens that is a more direct way. N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine is just L-Tyrosine with an acetyl group added to it, which was supposed to increase the bioavailability because L-Tyrosine is amino acid. Some people find that L-Tyrosine works better for them and some find that N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine works better for them. There was actually one clinical study that showed that N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine is mostly excreted in your urine rather than getting used. I don’t find that’s the case with this body but it could be true for you. You would have to find out. If you want to try L-Tyrosine, it pays to experiment with both of those one at a time and see which one works best for you.
[01:26:57] Ashley James: How would you know if it’s working?
[01:27:00] David Tomen: Your mood changes, you’re thinking faster, and your focus is better. Your concentration is better. Because L-Tyrosine directly affects executive function which is the decision making part of your brain.
[01:27:17] Ashley James: Oh, I’ve got to give some to my son. 4-year-old’s mind.
[01:27:21] David Tomen: That one I’m not so sure because it also boosts libido. Libido, memory, focus, concentration, mood, and improves executive function, all of these things are influenced by L-tyrosine. Recommended nootropic dosage for N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine is 350 – 500 mg twice per day. I actually use 700 mg. 750 mg three times a day for managing adult ADD. It depends on if you use too much and you boost dopamine too much because it turns into norepinephrine and then epinephrine which is your fight or flight hormone. You can get irritable and jittery, that’s when you know you’ve got too much. Now we also talked about monoamine oxidase, which increases as you age. It suppresses dopamine levels in your brain so you’ve got a double whammy over here as you age. Your dopamine levels are increasing and monoamine oxidase is increasing which is further forcing down dopamine and serotonin. What we would want is we want an inhibitor of monoamine oxidase. Oat Straw is that inhibitor. There also a couple of other ones but Oat Straw works really well. So it inhibits monoamine oxidase B which increases dopamine levels. One of the problems was monoamine oxidase inhibitors is that if you inhibit both A and B you have the cheese effect. The cheese effect is if you take a monoamine oxidase that inhibits both A and B and you eat cheese, you have a severe reaction. But if you only inhibit B like with Oat Straw you don’t have a problem.
[01:29:23] Ashley James: Or just don’t eat cheese.
[01:29:26] David Tomen: Don’t eat cheese or anything with cheese like pasta has got a little bit of cheese on it. Anything with cheese is going to cause a problem. Oat straw extract suppresses inflammatory cytokines by inhibiting nuclear factor κB activation. These Cytokines are implicated in a number of brain disorders including major depression, schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s Disease. Recommended dosage for Oat Straw extract is 800 – 1,600 mg a day. The final one that you really should be supplementing with this if they’re over 20, is a B complex vitamin because well, the B vitamins are arguably the most important anti-aging nootropic supplements that we’ve got available. Vitamin B1 is involved in the citric acid cycle that is used to produced adenosine triphosphate energy for your mitochondria. Vitamin B3 is a precursor to NAD and NADH which provides electrons for ATP synthesis to power your mitochondria. Niacin enhances BDNF which is involved in synaptic plasticity and axon growth for memory and overall brain health. And it stimulates the production of dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin. Vitamin B5 or Pantothenic Acid is essential for the synthesis of acetylcholine, epinephrine, and serotonin. And is at the very heart of the citric acid cycle and electron transport chain which converts nutrients from food into energy which is used to make adenosine triphosphate for mitochondria. Vitamin B6 or Pyridoxine is a required for coenzyme for the synthesis of dopamine, epinephrine, GABA, melatonin, norepinephrine, and serotonin. In fact, more than 140 distinct enzyme activities in your brain and your body depend on the P-5-P version of Vitamin B6. Vitamin B9 or folate is involved in gene expression, amino acid synthesis, myelin synthesis, and is required for the synthesis of dopamine, epinephrine, norepinephrine and serotonin. Vitamin B12 (methylcobalamin) is essential for the synthesis of DNA, RNA and neurotransmitters all of them and the maintenance of myelin sheaths protecting neurons, and red blood cell formation. And vitamin B12 is also needed to regulate homocysteine. High homocysteine levels are linked to inflammation that leads to blood vessel damage and possible plaque buildup leading to heart attack or stroke. That’s why you need a good B complex.
[01:32:37] Ashley James: I totally agree with you. One of the naturopaths that trained me had a patient that the family was in the process of moving that patient into a senior care facility. They had dementia. The naturopath said, “Let’s get them on a B vitamin supplement.” because B12 deficiency can cause dementia. I think they did B12 injections at this point but totally bounced back from the dementia. The dementia was not permanent. It wasn’t chronic. It was a symptom of nutrient deficiency. Another naturopath I studied with, he mapped out 900 different diseases that cross species line all are linked to deficiencies of 90 different nutrients. 60 minerals, 12 amino acids, all the vitamins and the fatty acids that each one just missing. If you miss copper if you have too little copper. One of the diseases that people can develop is or it’s not a disease it a fatal condition if you don’t catch it in time, hernia, chronic hernia. How you know you have copper deficiency? The symptoms of it are premature gray hair because copper is also needed in the production of the pigment. It can also cause pigment lost in the skin. People who are darker skin who start t have white patches like Michael Jackson had. That is a copper deficiency. Very classic signs of it but you can also have premature wrinkles and you can have problems with the vasculature like in your legs like the veins started popping out and having pain in the veins. All of that are early warning sign of copper deficiency. Copper being something you don’t want to have too much of but if you have too little of it’s one of those nutrient the body need to produce the building blocks to keep everything together basically. It’s part of the building blocks to build the strong vasculature and it becomes weaker without it and then we eventually develop aneurysm as a result. It’s just one of those nutrients that he mapped out. He sees that we can prevent all disease. All disease with nutrients and of course, diet because diet can cause tremendous stress on our body if it’s the wrong diet. He likes to point out that if we look at the diseases and the longevity of those in the United States that if its out of the certain line, I think it’s the Mason Dickson line? Is that what it’s called? Basically in the south where fried food is should be one of the amendments according to them, they’d fry water if they could but fried food is so much more prevalent in the diet and people die 10 years earlier that those in the north or in the Pacific North West where we eat less fried food. So they see the oxidative damage by eating fried food. Even once a week is enough to harm the brain, to harm the vasculature, to take 10 years off of our life and to decrease eye sight. It goes on and on. But diet is incredibly important. So avoiding oxidative stress but also making sure the we have these 90 essential nutrients in our food and also in our supplements because it’s very hard to secure minerals now. The 60 minerals very hard to secure. I would say in addition to, you’re saying take a good multi B vitamin and I say that’s absolutely true and I would add that take a really good multi-mineral and trace mineral supplement because even if you eat lots and lots of greens, it’s very hard to secure enough minerals these days because of the farming practices. Even organic farms, it’s just difficult because they don’t re-mineralize the soil which is something they used to do and they don’t do it anymore.
[01:37:20] David Tomen: I think Ashley that there would be a lot less disease if people just took a really high quality multivitamin which typically has higher dosages than with the RDA is. They’re in a form that your body can use and not synthetic. That’s the reason why I use the Performance Lab Multi because it’s all natural, it’s grown from yeast and there’s nothing else in it. Just vitamins and minerals. And a really high quality B complex vitamin. You would see a lot of fewer cases of dementia, alzehimers, Parkinson’s, depression and anxiety and I could just go on and on and on and that is just the brain. The things is that most of the nootropics reviewed on the Nootropics Expert can be considered anti-aging supplements. You know we’ve got tons and tons of research showing that taking the right nootropic supplement can optimize your brains health and protect you from cognitive decline well into the future. Dozens and dozens of nootropic supplements to choose from. You know we’ve got amino acids and herbs, minerals and vitamins and even the Racetam family that we’re taking about. The prime mutations and combinations that enough to perfect your anti-aging nootropics stack can your brain which is kind of counter to what we’re trying to achieve right? So here’s a suggestion, choose one or two from each of the categories that we talked about in this podcast. If I can listen to the podcast again and just pick one or two supplements from each one of these categories. Go to Nootropics Expert and carefully review the full article that I’ve written to make sure that you understand what exactly the nootropic does and how it can interact with any of your prescription meds so that you can understand the possible side effects. Choose the lowest suggested dosage per each one that you choose, and start using it.
[01:39:35] Ashley James: And when would they increase the dose?
[01:39:39] David Tomen: Possibly never. Possibly, if there’s a recommended dose for just at random, a 500 – 1000 mg, so you start out with 500 mg to see how you react to it. If you feel absolutely nothing or there is no negative reaction that you might want to quick up the dose to 750 mg and see how you feel but never ever go past the maximum recommended dosage.
[01:40:13] Ashley James: Right. Yes, because we do have that feeling in the United Sates, I don’t know if it’s just a value or a personal philosophy but if a little bit is good then a lot is even better and we get into some trouble that way. Right?
[01:40:32] David Tomen: Yes, that’s absolutely the wrong thing to do. You don’t want to do that especially with stuff that’s affecting your brain.
[01:40:39] Ashley James: Just like you could eat too much celery you could kill yourself with water, you could kill yourself with healthy things. We just wanted the safe effective doses. You want people to start feeling the difference. They should feel that their moods improve, even their sleep is better. Maybe their sex drives improved, that they’re thinking clear, that they’re thinking faster. They’re going to see noticeable differences that even maybe people around them notice. It’s going to take a few months but then people will start to notice a difference in them as well after starting on a good regimen. I like that your advice of taking two from each section and just reading on your website the information and get really clear on the protocol that they’re designing or if they get confused they could reach out to you. They could book an appointment and see that you could help them to formulate their protocol.
[01:41:46] David Tomen: And if you don’t like using the internet, at least use the internet to go to Nootropics Expert and buy my book. It’s called Head First. It’s almost 600 pages, it’s a manual for fixing your brain. You can use the book or you can use the website or you can book a consultation with me or you can go to YouTube and watch anyone of the almost a hundred videos I’ve got now on the YouTube channel. There are all kinds of ways to get help for your brain.
[01:42:14] Ashley James: Very cool. Before we wrap up today’s interview, I’d love to hear since you’ve been working with people, you must’ve had some feedback. Can you share some stories of success? Last time we had you, you shared your story, which was incredible I definitely recommend listeners go back and check out episode 362 with David Tomen. Hearing his story because it’s a great one. I’d love to hear, do you have any stories of success that you’d like to share with us today?
[01:42:45] David Tomen: You know there’s almost a hundred thousand people a month going through Nootropics Expert now. Where I get, the comments are coming in more and more often now. Either people will say, “I was able to manage ADHD or ADD or I was able to get off anti-depressant medication or anti-anxiety medication or I was able to get up in front of a group of people and do a presentation without panicking.” There’s just little stories like that that keep on coming out in the comments section.
[01:43:27] Ashley James: These are comments are the bottom. You have blog basically. All your articles are blog posts and at the bottom people can leave their comments. I’ve read them, they’re great. They were asking questions, you reply. So you’re saying that listeners can go there scroll down at the bottom of the article and read the comments.
[01:43:51] David Tomen: Yes and see what other people are saying, people are sharing they’ll leave a comment saying, “This is my stack now based on the stuff that you’ve suggested.” One of the most hardening things that I’m seeing now is people are getting it. People are saying, “This isn’t my stack, this is my – and this is what I’m taking in the morning. This is what I’m taking at noon and this is what I’m taking late in the afternoon. Have you got any suggestions?” Usually I would change this one thing. People are getting it now, which is just the coolest thing.
[01:44:33] Ashley James: I love that you interact with them because then those comments are there for years to come and people can even though you’re answering one person’s question, you’re actually helping thousands of people because they’re all going to go there and read your answer.
[01:44:48] David Tomen: And they’re doing that. Some of these threads are years old.
[01:44:55] Ashley James: Nice. I love it. I love that you’ve built this forum to help people. You put a lot out there. You put a lot of work into it. You give a lot for free and if someone wants the additional help of that personalized help, one on one, they could work with you and they could buy some supplements from you because you figured out some of the brands the you liked. They could also buy your book. Of course, the links to everything you do including your YouTube channel, we’re going to make sure that is in the show notes of today’s podcast. I have to commend my transcriptionist right now because the entire time I’m like, “Oh my gosh. I just have to say to my transcriptionist, as you’re transcribing this right now, I’m sending you hugs and I thank you so much for taking probably a week to transcribe this interview.” But my listeners are going to be really appreciative of the transcription because once it’s published on learntruehealth.com they can go and they can read everything that David said so they can reference. This is a very technical interview and they can reference all the wonderful supplements that David talked about. The doses and everything. Let’s just thank and commend the transcriptionist for doing a great job. Awesome. David, it was such a pleasure having you on the show toady. Is there anything you’d like to say to wrap up today’s interview? Anything left unsaid?
[01:46:34] David Tomen: Just get started. If you haven’t started doing any of these yet just please get started.
[01:46:41] Ashley James: That’s a really simple like if someone kind of overwhelmed at this point? What’s a good like just get a toe in the door or toe in the water?
[01:46:50] David Tomen: You know, take something. Take something and see if it works. There’s so much information available now on a place like Nootropics Expert. Whatever you’re dealing with, whatever it is. If it’s anxiety or depression or ADD or OCD or traumatic brain injury or PTST or whatever it is. Use the search function over on Nootropics Expert and put it on the search box.
[01:47:16] Ashley James: And if you’re not taking a great multi vitamin like a multi B, start with that. Start there.
[01:47:23] David Tomen: The Performance Lab Multi I think it is the best multi-vitamin I’ve ever used. You can find my full review on Nootropics Expert Performance Lab Wholefood multi for men and women. The B vitamins complex that it recommends is the one by Life Extension.
[01:47:42] Ashley James: That is on your website?
[01:47:45] David Tomen: I don’t think that one is on my website. You’ll find it probably in the comments section in the places but I don’t think I’ve put a link to that one there. The Life Extension has got a really, really good B complex it’s called complete bioactive something like that. The nice thing is that it uses folate instead of folic acid and methylcobalamin instead cyanocobalamin and the B vitamins are the right dosages.
[01:48:15] Ashley James: Very cool. I take a powder that turns to a liquid and I was designed my naturopath but I really enjoyed itbut I’m going to check out you’re too. I know you sell, do you sell supplements? I don’t own the company I just work as an affiliate so get a little bit of money every time somebody clicks the link and buys one of these things. I’ve got a link to the website.
[01:48:45] Ashley James: You’ll give me links so that listeners who want to make sure that you get credit for spending the time to put this out there. They want to make sure you get the credit we’ll make sure the link is in the show notes.
[01:49:00] David Tomen: Okay, thank you.
[01:49:01] Ashley James: Awesome. Very cool. Thank you so much for coming on the show. This has been wonderful.
[01:49:04] David Tomen: Thank you for having me back.
[01:49:06] Ashley James: Yes. I look forward to having you again. I think we’ve got lots of topics to explore and I really enjoy. I like interviews that bring the meat. You know what I mean? It’s funny for someone who doesn’t eat meat, I want a lot of meat in my interview. I want a lot. I want people to walk away going, “Oh my gosh, there’s so much here, there’s so much available. I’m going to get a lot out of this. It’s going to help me change my life.” I want listeners to feel that this is life-changing and you bring the meat. So thank you, for filing this interview with wonderful information and I know it’s going to help people and please listeners, let me know how this helped you. You can go ahead and email me, [email protected]alth.com. Let me know how this impacted your life or you can join our Facebook group. Learn True Health in Facebook and start a conversation in the Facebook group about this interview and whether you have questions or whether you just want to talk about it with other listeners. Let’s start a conversation in our Facebook group. David, you’re welcome to join our Facebook group as well.
[01:50:13] David Tomen: Thank you.
[01:50:13] Ashley James: Awesome. All right. Thank you so much. I can’t wait to get you back on the show.
[01:50:18] David Tomen: Let’s do it. Thank you, Ashley.
[01:50:20] Ashley James: Hello, true health seeker. Have you ever thought about becoming a health coach? Do you love learning about nutrition and how we can shift our lifestyle and our diet so that we can gain optimal health and happiness and longevity? Do you love helping your friends and family to solve their health problems and figure out what they can do to eat healthier? Are you interested in becoming someone who can grow their own business, support people in their success? Do you love helping people? You might be the perfect candidate to become a health coach. I highly recommend checking out the Institute for Integrated Nutrition. I just spent the last year in their health-coaching sort of vacation program and it really blew me away. It was so amazing. I learned over a hundred dietary theories. I learned all about nutrition but from the standpoint on how we can help people to shift their life, to shift their lifestyle to gain true holistic health. I definitely recommend you check them out. You can google Institute for Integrated Nutrition or IIN, or give them a call or you can go to learntruehealth.com/coach and you can receive a free module of their training. So check it out and see if it’s something that you’d be interested in. Be sure to mention my name, Ashley James and the Learn True Health podcast because I made a deal with them that they would give you the best price possible. I highly recommend checking it out. It really changed my life to be in their program. I’m such a big advocate that I wanted to spread this information. We need more health coaches. In fact, health coaching is the largest growing career right now in the health field. So many health coaches are getting in and helping people because you can work in chiropractic offices, doctor’s offices, you can work in hospitals. You can work online through Skype and help people around the world. You can become an author. You can go into the school system and help with your local schools shift their programs to help children be healthier. You can go into senior centers and help them to shift their diet and lifestyle to best support them and their success and their health goals. There’s so many different available options for you when you become a certified health coach. So check out IIN. Check out the Institute for Integrated Nutrition. Mention my name. Get the best deal. Give them a call and they’ll give you lots of free information and help you to see if this is the right move for you. Classes are starting soon. The next round of classes are starting at the end of the month, so you’re going to want to call them now and check it out. If you know anyone in your life who would be an amazing coach, please tell them about it. Being a health coach is so rewarding and you get to help so many people.
Are you looking to optimize your health? Are you looking to get the best supplements at the lowest price? For high-quality supplements and to talk to someone about what supplements are best for you, go to takeyoursupplements.com and one of our fantastic true health coaches will help you pick out the right supplements for you that are highest quality and the best price. That’s takeyoursupplements.com. Be sure to ask about free shipping and our awesome referral program.
Get Connected With David Tomen!
Book by David Tomen
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.
Hello, true health seeker. Have you ever thought about becoming a health coach? Do you love learning about nutrition and how we can shift our lifestyle and our diet so that we can gain optimal health and happiness and longevity? Do you love helping your friends and family to solve their health problems and to figure out what they can do to eat healthier? Are you interested in becoming someone who can grow their own business, support people in their success? Do you love helping people?
You might be the perfect candidate to become a health coach. I highly recommend checking out The Institute for Integrative Nutrition.
I just spent the last year in their health coaching certification program and it really blew me away. It was so amazing. I learned over a hundred dietary theories. I learned all about nutrition, but from a standpoint of how we can help people to shift their lives and shift their lifestyle to gain true holistic health, I definitely recommend you check them out.
You can Google, Institute for Integrative Nutrition or IIN and give them a call or you can go to www.learntruehealth.com/coach and you can receive a free module of their training to check it out and see if it’s something that you’d be interested in.
Be sure to mention my name Ashley James and the Learn True Health Podcast because I made a deal with them that they will give you the best price possible.
I highly recommend checking it out. It really changed my life to be in their program and I’m such a big advocate that I wanted to spread this information. We need more health coaches. In fact, health coaching is the largest growing career right now in the health field. So many health coaches are. getting in and helping people because you can work in chiropractic office, doctors offices.you can work in hospitals, you can work online through Skype and help people around the world. you can become an author. You can go into the school system and help your local schools shift their programs to help children be healthier. you can go into senior centers and help them to shift their diet and lifestyle to best support them in their success and their health goals.
There’s so many different available options for you when you become a certified health coach.
So check out IIN. Check out the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Mention my name, get the best deal. Give them a call and they;ll give you lots of free information and help you to see if this is the right move for you.
Classes are starting soon. The next round of classes are starting at the end of the month. So you’re gonna wanna call them now and check it out.
And if you know anyone in your life who would be an amazing coach, please tell them about it. Being a health coach is so rewarding and you get to help so many people.
Are you looking to get the best supplements at the lowest price?
For high quality supplements and to talk to someone about what supplements are best for you, go to www.takeyoursupplements.com and one of our fantastic true health coaches will help you pick out the right supplements for you that are the highest quality and the best price.
Be sure to ask about free shipping and our awesome referral program.
Get Connected With Dr. Will Cole!
Books by Dr. Will Cole
Dr. Tim Gerstmar And Ashley James
- Recognize the help of health professionals around you not juts MDs
- Pharmaceuticals can only manage the symptoms we have to go to the root cause of the illness
- food is either causing disease or it’s healing our body
- Food and stress are triggers of our health
Considered as a “taboo” when it comes to conversations, one may never know how important gut health is. Listen to today’s interview to learn more about how to take good care of your gut health besides treating it as a simple digestive system which simply has to function.
[00:00] Ashley James: Hello, true health seeker and welcome to another exciting episode of Learn True Health podcast. Today Dr. Tim Gerstmar shares some excellent advice for those who have gut health issues and autoimmune issues and who wish to no longer have them. He talks about the foundations of health that when disrupted lead to exacerbating those issues, inflaming them and creating acute symptoms and how to get them under control. He works with people that within a year most of them are in remission which is really exciting. He gets such great results. There’s three key things. We talked a little bit about the importance of sleep and stress reduction and some ways to do that. I mentioned that my absolute favorite mattress that a few months ago I got. My husband and I love it. It completely changed how we sleep. We sleep deep. We get such great quality sleep. You can go to learntruehealth.com/bed to learn more about my favorite mattress. There’s a really great special that they’re providing for my listeners. There’s 2 educational videos on that site talking about the science behind the mattresses. They’re non-toxic. They have I believe it’s a 20-year guarantee, a 20-year warranty. What I mostly love about it is that the science behind it allows you to no matter what you’re a side sleeper, whether you sleep on your stomach, whether you sleep on your back, any direction. It relieves pressure and allows your spine to be straight the entire time. It’s the most luxurious deepest restful sleep you’ll ever have. I highly recommend going to learntruehealth.com/bed to check that out. I also mentioned that I absolutely loved using my Sunlighten Sauna both for detoxification and to decrease stress. You can go to learntruehealth.com and search sauna or search Sunlighten to listen to the two episodes I’ve done on sunlighten sauna and why it’s my favorite. I had the co-founder Connie Zack on the show and she shares some great information about their low EMF non-toxic saunas. I have one in my house and I’ve been using them for over a year. Getting some really great results with detoxification. Like I said, it’s also wonderful for stress reduction and that’s really important in today’s interview. My third thing that I absolutely love that I have to mention especially about autoimmune and decreasing inflammation, are grounding mats. I recently had Clint over on the show. I highly recommend listening into that episode. You can join the Learn True Health Facebook group. Check out the pinned post right now which is the movie. The documentary that Clint created so you can learn more about why people are going into remission. Going into remission from autoimmune condition when doing grounding or earthing. They explain the science of it in that video which is in the Learn True Health Facebook group. Excellent. If you want to learn more about the grounding, you can go to learntruehealth.com/grounding. That’s learntruehealth.com/grounding. Thank you so much for being a listener. I know you’re going to love today’s episode. Please share it with those you love who have gut issues and who have autoimmune issues so we can help them to learn true health.
[03:44] Ashley James: Welcome to the Learn True Health podcast. I’m your host, Ashley James. This is episode 372. I am so excited for today’s interview. We have with us Dr. Tim Gerstmar who is an expert in autoimmune and gut health. He’s actually a local naturopathic here, just south of me in Redmond, Washington but he can also consult people all around the world through the magic of Skype or the magic of the internet. Tim, I’m really excited to have you here today because I actually know your office manager, Lorelie. She’s the one that introduced us and she became an avid listener. She raves about you. She says that people around the world come to your clinic who are just the most complex cases of gut health and people with autoimmune conditions that – she see miracles performed in the clinic. You must have holy water on your office desk or something that people come in and you help them to dial in their diet, their herbs, their supplements, their lifestyle and that you’re really helping them to gain a foundation of health especially after they have seen so many other specialists and they feel like the medical system has failed them. So really excited to have you here today, welcome to the show.
[05:11] Dr. Tim Gerstmar: Thanks, Ashley. I really appreciate it. I’m very grateful to get in front of your audience and share some nuggets of wisdom here. See if we can help people. I really want to thank you. You’ve created something magical. I’ve seen your podcast, your Facebook group. To everyone listening, you’ve done a good thing for yourself by being part of this community and thank you for the kinds words. I also don’t want to take too much credit. One of the things, the good thing and the bad thing about integrative or holistic medicine is compared to conventional medicine is it’s not like the doctor as the mechanic. I’m taking out your muffler and putting in a new one and it solves all your problems. Certainly, a lot of our great results come from people who are really engaged in the process. They’re really willing to dive in there and get into their own diet and lifestyle. Work on their mindset and make some of these changes and do some of these things. I owe so much of my results to the hard work and the willingness to change that the people who come to work with us are willing to do because without that the people who come to us and they’re just like, “Hey, give me the magic herb that will fix my problems.” They invariably walk away disappointed and in fact over the years I’ve been practicing, I’ve been doing this for over 10 years now. We actually have a screening process to turn those people away not because there’s anything wrong with them but we just know that they’re not going to get the results. They’re going to be disappointed and it’s just a waste of their time, their money, their energy. Nothing’s are going to happen unless people are engaged in and that is probably the single biggest reason not to engage with holistic medicine is because some people just start in a place where they’re already willing and able to make those changes. We understand and we’re grateful. We’re going to talk about a different approach to autoimmunity but I also want to be clear, I’m not anti-drug. There is a time and a place for those drugs. They saved people’s lives they continue to be valuable tools. We don’t believe that they address the root causes and the issues that are going on but they’re a helpful tool that can have their place and some people even with the best holistic medicine that we have available find that they still do need some of those medications. A lot of people are able to get off them. A lot of people are able to reduce their medicine or move from stronger ones to less potent ones but it is important to know one of the very first things that we talked about. For anyone who’s interested to come and see us is understanding what the goals are. A lot of people their goal is to get off medicine. We always say, “Look it is really easy to get off the medicine, just stop taking the medicine.” but of course, that can be a very, very bad thing for the person to do. Their quality of life can be very poor. Their pain or disability or other issues can be quite serious. So our goal first and foremost is that people have a great quality of life. Not only do they feel good but they’re thriving in all the aspects of their life. If we can get a person to that place without the need for prescription medicine and immune suppressant or anti-inflammatory or other medications then awesome. That is our goal. But if we do need those medicines for people to achieve that quality of life, that safety of life and limb now we’re going to make us the medicine. I’m bringing this off right of the bat because there may be a few people who hear that message and are like, “I don’t know if I want to continue in this conversation if this guy is saying that medicines are useful.” and that’s okay but we do believe medicines aren’t bad. They’re tools. A lot of times they’re misused or they’re used to just put a band-aid on top of things instead of really going in and addressing it but they are valuable tools nonetheless.
[09:20] Ashley James: With naturopathic medicine, you learn how to use other tools. Whereas MDs are taught how to use pharmaceutical medicine. They’re not taught how to use herbs or how to use supplements even how to use diet. They’re not taught anything about therapeutic diets or foods or herbs so you have bigger tool belt than MDs. For those who don’t know much about naturopaths, there’s a lot of listeners that would know a lot about naturopaths because I have them on the show all the time but for those who don’t know about naturopaths, I urge listeners to get yourself a naturopathic physician. They are the best. Because of naturopathic medicine I’m no longer a diabetic, no longer have polycystic ovarian syndrome, I no longer have chronic adrenal fatigue. The things that plagued me. I was so sick in my 20’s and 30’s. I was so sick. I was bedridden. When I was 19, I was told by an endocrinologist I’d never have kids. I was infertile my entire adult life until naturopathic medicine and we conceived naturally and our son is 4 years old. Whereas MDs that I saw through my 20’s and 30’s said, every time I came to them it’s like, “Okay, here’s another drug, here’s another drug.” They had no tools in their tool belt for help me heal anything in my chronic illness. Could you just let people know what’s the difference between a naturopath and a medical doctor in terms of your education and your ability to help people.
[10:58] Dr. Tim Gerstmar: Totally. Absolutely. Listen it’s important to recognize, I’m happy to answer that. This is just quickly on what you said. MDs in the conventional medical system there’s no one better to treat serious illnesses life-threatening disease, injuries, surgeries. Nobody does it better than the conventional system and regular MDs. That is where they absolutely shine. If I get in a car accident, I’m not going to go see a Naturopathic doctor if I’m bleeding. I’m going to get myself to a hospital. I’m going to get the surgery that I need. I’m going to take the medications to protect my life and limb. Exactly what you said in this chronic health issues like PCOS like chronic digestive issues like irritable bowel syndrome or heartburn or autoimmune disease. The best that MDs can do is manage those things for you. Use prescription medications to manage those things. Diabetes, for example, is considered as incurable, progressive, meaning it will just continue to get worse and worse over time disease. Basically any Naturopath work the result will tell you that type II diabetes, we’re not talking about type 1 the autoimmune type of diabetes. But type II diabetes is incredibly manageable. The vast majority of the time it’s completely reversible and can disappear and it does not have to be a chronic progressive disease. Of course, you have to go far beyond just taking medications to try and manage it. You actually have to get into diet and lifestyle and all of these factors. Like you said, MDs just don’t have the training. People express frustration all the time. “Why won’t my MD talk about these things with me? Why won’t they prescribe this type of treatments for me? Why did they look at me like I have two heads when I bring these things up?” There are a lot of reasons but fundamentally most MDs out there are dedicated, diligent, very intelligent, hardworking people. They’re trying to make a difference in people’s lives. They just don’t have the education to understand that these thing are possible or to know what to do about them. Again, use an MD for their expertise and the things they’re good at. My hope with integrative medicine is that instead of each side saying, so again if you break a leg, don’t come and see me I’d be a terrible doctor to help treat those. If you need to have surgery, you do not want me to be wielding the knife and doing the surgery. You probably not going to make it out there. At the same time, what I want is, when someone like you Ashley goes and says, “Hey, I have PCOS. Hey, I have diabetes. Hey, I have these other issues.” In my dream world that MD says, “You know what, this is not my wheelhouse. This is not my expertise. You need to go see someone like a naturopath to get those issues resolved. We’d all worked together and be friends.” In some ways it’s starting to happen a little bit, in other ways it’s a long way off. One of the deep frustrations of basically everyone that comes to see us “Why isn’t this stuff more commonplace. If I’d only known 2, 3, 5, 10” – was just talking to a lady on the phone the other day who’s had chronic digestive issues for 40 years and has tried to seek out help many different places and just hasn’t found it. There’s a very good chance within the next six months we can have these things majorly improved for this person. So why don’t people know about it? To answer your other question quickly. Naturopathic Medicine for many people maybe not the listeners of this show, for many people it’s something they’ve never heard about before. People may think, “Does that mean a herbalist? Does that mean a nutritionist? A homeopath is that what you’re talking about?” and the answer is No, that’s not what we’re talking about. We are talking about the profession of Naturopathic medicine, which is to attend a rigorous medical school education. I went to 4 years of intensive medical school. All of the sciences that MDS have. Anatomy, biochemistry, we were in the labs dissecting the bodies, we were doing rotations, we were doing all of these things. The major most critical difference is after we get that education in basic science, instead of going on to exclusively focus on drugs and surgery, our focus is on lifestyle, nutrition, therapeutic diets, the use of herbal medicines and on and on and on. A whole host of different therapy. We know prescription drugs but we also know and favor the use of non-prescription drugs. That would be the single biggest difference. You get the same level of medical education with a completely different focus for therapies and that’s what is many people are looking for.
[16:25] Ashley James: I love it. Thank you so much for just laying the groundwork. Moving forward to the interview, everyone knows you’re a naturopathic physician. It’s like the best of both worlds. You can diagnose. You have drugs to treat if you want them but you also have the herb supplements, diet like all the other things out there. Naturopaths love to help people by doing the least amount of harm. And so you’re going to find the tool that does the least amount of harm and helps the person the most.
[16:57] Dr. Tim Gerstmar: Well, we always talk about, you can imagine a pyramid. In your mind, you imagine pyramid or a triangle with four different levels on it. The lowest level to the ground, we talk about is diet and lifestyle. That is the foundation of what we’re working with. You go one step up to the second level of the pyramid and that’s things like herbs, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients go in that second level. The third level up is going to be prescription medications and the fourth level up is going to be things like surgeries and other very aggressive type of therapies for people. We always start at the bottom and work our way upwards. Again, it’s not that no one ever needs prescription medicine or no one needs surgeries, that’s definitely not the case but were saying to the MDs like, “Look, you’re starting to the third level up. How about we back up and make sure that those two bottom levels are taken care of first and a good trunk of the time we find out if those base levels are taken care off. We don’t even need to get to the third and fourth levels.” Again, it’s not that one is good ant the other is bad. It’s saying we need a bigger picture of what’s going on. Again, I find that MDs are stuck at the top of the pyramid and I find some natural practitioners are stuck at the bottom of the pyramid and refused to acknowledge that just the bigger picture all around. If our goal is the well-being, the health and the well-being of everyone or at least the people we come in contact with and are able to help. We need to use every tool that’s available. Again, some people need drugs, a lot of people don’t. We want to have all those tools available and thank you for tuning the horn for naturopaths here. We are one of the few professions that really has the training and the understanding to make use of all of it. That is the reason I evaluated many different types of medicine before I chose to become a naturopath and it was that blending together. Getting the best of all worlds. That’s the reason that I chose this profession and I pursued it all these years. Because it gives me the flexibility to deploy a whole range of tools for people.
[19:25] Ashley James: I definitely want to get into how to help people. Later in this interview, we’re going to give some really great actionable advice and help people have a clear path to health. The name of your book, The Clear Path to Health. I want to first learn a bit more about your story. What happened in your life that made you want to become a doctor specifically a naturopathic physician?
[19:50] Dr. Tim Gerstmar: Yes. If you ask most the majority of doctors or other health practitioners, you’re going to hear one of two stories. Either their own personal health struggles and their journey led them into healing and medicine. Then they pursued that down a particular path. Or that a loved one their struggles brought someone into medicine and that second one is me. I was on college at that time about to graduate and finish college. My dad went into surgery, it all went perfectly fine. I can remember very vividly, I was at work. I came home late. Full disclosure here, I was popping a microwave meal into the microwave to have some dinner after a long day of school and then work. The phone rang and I picked it up and my mom was just sobbing on the other end of the phone. Long story short, after the surgery, while my dad was in recovery, he’d have a massive stroke. No one had known or paid attention because he was unconscious from the sedatives. It was only when my mom said, “Shouldn’t he be waking up?” And they were like, “Well, maybe but it’s okay.” And then she finally said put her foot down and said, “No. Listen, it’s been hours and hours and hours now. He should be awake. Wake him up.” and suddenly it was, he’s had a severe stroke. They rushed him off. So she called me and said they were taking him to intensive care. He might not live through the night. I scarfed down my microwave meal and that began my health journey. The short version is. I moved home. Along with my mom, his caretaker for a little over a year. Taking him to all his appointments. I’ve been grateful and lucky to be a healthy young man. I never really had too much experience with medicine or the medical system but I was in and out of doctor’s offices and physical therapists and other therapists near constantly so I got to see everything from the inside. All the good stuff that was awesome and all the bad stuff. Like so many other people, I was asking “What else can we do? What else can help him?” You know, the conventional answer was nothing. There are no other options. No, his diet doesn’t make any difference. No herbs or nutrients can possibly help. No other therapies beyond physical therapy speech and occupational therapy could make any difference on him. Like so many other people, I refused to accept that answer. In those days, the internet was not such a big thing. Google and Facebook didn’t exist at that time. It was a little harder to find information. I started going to libraries during the day and bookstores. I started calling practitioners and talking to them, trying to understand what other options. I found out for example in China, if you have stroke while you’re there in the hospital, they will start acupuncture right away and find that the combination again of conventional medicine and a more holistic approach is more effective than one or either alone. After that year and a half or so, I was aimless. I didn’t quite know what I needed to do. Short version is, medicine sounded really interesting to me. I spent so many hours studying and talking to people but I was trying to figure out which one was right for me. I thought at first, I would go the conventional route. Get an MD and maybe like Andrew Weil who was just kind of becoming popular around this time. Maybe I would be a more integrative. I had a fortune of talking to a few good MDs who very quickly stirred me away from that path and said, “You’re setting yourself up for a very unpleasant number of years if that’s what you’re really hope to do. You’re not going to find it within the conventional system.” I explored many other options from chiropractic to acupuncture and just could not find the right fit for me until I heard about this little profession. It was headquartered in the Pacific North West in Washington, in Oregon. Really where it’s home was called naturopathic medicine. I explored it and knew immediately that that was the right choice for me and that’s been my path ever since.
[24:24] Ashley James: I love it. As you were going to school, were you able to help your dad further? Did you start to see that natural medicine could help him?
[24:37] Dr. Tim Gerstmar: That year plus that I was caretaking him, we engaged in quite a bit of holistic medicine. From acupuncture to something called neurofeedback. To some vitamins and minerals and such and we found that they were all helpful. One of the greatest tragedies of anyone who learns this stuff either as a professional practitioner or just as a layperson listening to a podcast like this and educating themselves, one of the greatest tragedies is that the people closest to us so often don’t listen to us. My mom who since passed on was more than pleased to tell everyone that I was a doctor. Her son the doctor but when it came to listening to me about making changes or trying this, they very rarely happen. Unfortunately, despite all my expertise, I like to believe I was able to help a little bit but that was not the be my calling but instead, help with other people locally here and all over the place, all over the States and all over the world to help them.
[25:53] Ashley James: When did you decide in autoimmune and in healing the gut?
[25:56] Dr. Tim Gerstmar: That’s a great question. The gut had become trendy now. You look on the internet, you listen to shows and you hear a lot about the gut and were having more and more research every day coming out telling us about how the gut and what’s going on in it affects basically every single part of our bodies. One of the beautiful things about naturopathic medicine which is about a hundred years old now, the profession from the very beginning focused on the importance of the gut. It’s always said from the earlier part of our schooling was always, “Look, disease begins in the gut.” That old Hippocrates, that ancient great physician Hippocrates quote, “Disease begins at the gut.” And so we always took that to heart. When I graduated, no matter else I was doing what other symptoms someone had going on. I was always coming back to the digestion as an important part of healing that. The gut is not a very glamorous thing. It’s not something most of us want to talk about. Our digestive function, what’s happening in in the bathroom. I found as I was working with people that I just grew more and more interested in the gut. I was very grateful that I got into the earlier research on the microbiome or the bacteria that live inside our digestive tract and began to see the influence that it had on health. I was just able to make such an impact on people’s lives that I very quickly transitioned to sort of just being a general naturopath to working on the gut. What I found over the years was that many people came to me with autoimmune issues both digestive and autoimmune issues and as we worked on their digestive issues, we saw a lot of improvement in their autoimmune issues. It wasn’t the primary focus but we saw so much improving. Coupled with more research and the increasing prevalence of autoimmune disease it became a segway for me moving from exclusively working on the gut to working with people with autoimmune disease as well. Thankfully, now there are many practitioners who are queued into the importance of the gut and are helping people. There are still far and away not enough people taking a holistic approach to autoimmune disease and helping people with that.
[28:33] Ashley James: Since you decide to focus specifically on those two, what kind of results have you seen? Can you share some stories of success or some kind of results that you’ve gotten through the years of helping people to recover from autoimmune and heal their gut?
[28:51] Dr. Tim Gerstmar: Yes. Absolutely. It’s a joy to see people go from the bad place that they’re in to go to feeling great and many even thriving. One recent for example, I had a gentleman in something called inflammatory bowel disease. This is one of our specialties because it is at the inner section between the digestive system and autoimmunity. Inflammatory bowel disease is a type of autoimmunity specifically affecting the digestion. This gentleman had a version of it known as ulcerative colitis. It causes a lot of pain in the gut, diarrhea, and blood. It’s a very scary disease because you can imagine you go to the bathroom, your guts are hurting, you pass some diarrhea which is unpleasant enough to start with but you happen to look down into the toilet bowl and there’s just blood everywhere. It’s a very scary experience for people to go through. So this gentleman had been dealing with ulcerative colitis for a number of years now. He’d been on and off medication with ups and downs going on. Finally, like many people, he said, ”Is there something more that can be done rather than having to keep running back to the doctor and getting a prescription for steroid or prednisone every time something flares up?” He came to see us. We worked with him over the course of about 9 months. Made dietary changes for him. Recommended some different herbs and nutrients. He has done exceptionally well. We’ve been monitoring him now, his ulcerative colitis is in complete remission. It’s absolutely dormant and quiet for him. He’s not taking any medications. Actually in his case been able to wean off many of the supplements, the herbs and nutrient as well. There’s a few that he takes. Does definitely pays attention to his diet. He finds it’s a major factor. We help him identify specific foods that are problematic for him. Others that don’t have any issue whatsoever. It was such joy at his last visit, which was a few weeks back to see, not only was the UC not bothering him. He had no digestive issues whatsoever. He had no other complaints of autoimmunity that were going on. He was actually thriving. He was happy. Speaking to going just beyond the symptoms. Of course, when people come to us they’re hyper-focused, “I’m going to the bathroom 5-10 times a day. It’s diarrhea, there’s blood in it. It’s scary. I don’t feel good.” All these issues are going on. One of the things that we found in his case was that stress was a big factor for him. Stress at home. Stress at work. By his willingness to dive in and start addressing those factors. He’s made some fundamental changes at work. He’s made some changes at home. He’s made some changes in some of the relationships in his life. Again, not only is the UC quiet, but his quality of life, his ability to thrive has skyrocketed. That’s just one example. We’re so incredibly proud of all the work that he’s done and the progress. In contrast, what would have happened if he had just gone down the conventional routes is there would have been an escalation of medications possibly up to the biologic medications, which if insurance covers them that’s good. There’s often major out of pocket cost. Most of the medications run $20,000 or more a year as their base price. These are very expensive medications for people. They either have to give themselves injections or they have to go into the facility and have IVs put in every once in a while to get these medications. There would’ve been no discussion of diet, no discussion of stress, no discussion of these other factors. If everything worked right and we hope it would. His UC would’ve been quiet and not bothering him. We wouldn’t have moved to simply being symptom-free to thriving having a better quality of life than before.
[33:18] Ashley James: Awesome. I love it. I love that story. Do you get people who have an autoimmune and gut issue all the time? Is that your main focus or do you find that you get people with just the autoimmune or do all autoimmune people have some gut-level issues?
[33:35] Dr. Tim Gerstmar: I shy away from all, every and none. Those big categorical words. Does every person who has autoimmune disease have a gut dysfunction? I don’t believe the answer is yes. Do the vast majority of people with autoimmunity have gut dysfunction? Yes, they do. We found our experience has been that 80-90% of people find that making dietary changes result in from major to at least minor improvement in their autoimmunity. Do there seem to be some people maybe 10% of people out there from our experiences where diet seems to play little to no role in what’s going on for them? Yes. I’m cautious when we say every person but our experience the people that we worked with, almost all of them. They may not recognize they have gut problems. In fact, it’s very common when you come in they say, “I have rheumatoid arthritis” “Okay, let’s talk about your digestion.” “Oh, it’s fine.” “Okay, no worries but let’s talk about it a little bit more what’s going on.” “Oh yes, I have this issue. Oh yes, I guess I have that as well. Oh, doesn’t everybody have that?” It’s just like, “Okay. There is a dysfunction.” Now a gut dysfunction seems to be at the root of many cases of autoimmunity and again, we routinely find that by improving the gut function that we’re able to make a real positive difference in people’s autoimmunity. Again, if everybody remembers the pyramid, at the bottom of it. Diet and lifestyle and we would also put gut function right down there at the base. is just treating the gut going to cure all autoimmune disease and deal with everything? No. It’s not, unfortunately. I wish it was a simple answer that we could say like that. Is it fundamental that many, many people are going to find significant benefit by treating their gut? Yes. Again, what would you say to people, look if diet and lifestyle and treating the gut are not enough to take care of your problems on their own, it’s good to start at a lower level where the side effects, the issues there are very minimal. Again if you clean up your diet and lifestyle and even if it makes absolutely zero impact on your autoimmune disease, it’s going to make a significant impact on the rest of you as a human being. Who has a body who has all the systems functioning? The worst we can say, for example, another case were still going, we have a person come to us with autoimmune thyroid disease, Hashimoto’s, hoping to get off their medication. Again, one of the things we tell people, we cannot guarantee that you’re going to get off your medicine. I just want to put this out there. If people have seen other practitioner or other courses or other people saying, “Absolutely, positively, I guarantee you can get off your thyroid medication if you do this thing” either they have some magic that I’m not aware of or my experience says that’s a false spell of goods. There is no guarantee that everyone everywhere will be able to get off medication. We found through some dietary changes that have been ongoing thus far, we have not been able to make a big impact on her thyroid function or the hashimotos. But at a minimum, she lost some weight, her skin is better, her energy has improved. She feels better. Her stress levels are down. That’s what we always tell people is look, by starting with these fundamentals even if it’s not able to make a big impact on the autoimmunity or the other disease or issue that you have going on. It’s able to improve the general quality of your life and your overall well-being and reducing your long term risk for things like heart disease or cancer. The big E’s that cut people’s life short and destroy their quality of life. I personally believe it’s always worthwhile to address this. Most of the time it’s going to improve a persons’ autoimmunity and in those instances where it doesn’t. I have yet to see someone who doesn’t feel that it’s improved their quality of life or their overall health.
[38:27] Ashley James: Got it. There’s this theory that autoimmune issues are caused by leaky gut syndrome which has been exacerbated by or caused by gluten and grains among other things. Can you talk about that? Do you get everyone off of grains or every one off of gluten? How effective have you found that? I’ve heard from other practitioners that they cannot get results with an autoimmune client if they don’t go gluten-free. Is that your experience?
[39:07] Dr. Tim Gerstmar: Sure. Gluten is one of the more common problematic foods. Again, I am not an every and all. So generally, if we have our way, we start people on a gluten-free diet. We often will use a paleo diet or an autoimmune paleo diet as a starting place to put people on. I want to say a lot of people with autoimmunity definitely do have problems with gluten. It is a very problematic food for people as is dairy. Probably the two biggest problematic foods that are really unfortunate because so many foods that we all love to eat have gluten and dairy in them but they are very problematic foods for people. Having said that, does every person with autoimmunity must be gluten-free or cannot heal if they eat gluten? That has not been my experience. Again, many people have problems with gluten but not everyone does. I’ve seen people with a variety of autoimmune diseases, again, we usually cut it out in the beginning as we get to work and as we’re trying to identify the problematic foods for people but in a later time, we almost always recommend that people re-introduce gluten and see if it’s a problematic food for them. There are percentage of people they find that gluten is just not an issue. They’re able to eat it and be perfectly fine.
[40:37] Ashley James: I know you’re not always person when it comes to advise. What are the most common things though that you found are really helpful?
[40:50] Dr. Tim Gerstmar: Definitely diet. We always recommend unless people come to us already have done a lot of experimentation with diet, already identified a lot of the triggers and issues that are going on but virtually everyone who comes to see us. Again, we kind of consider this low hanging fruit. We go through to an elimination diet. There are a lot of different ways to do it but again, something like a paleo diet or an autoimmune paleo diet is a nice segway into it. A paleo diet remove grains and dairy at its base. There are a few different tweaks to it. An autoimmune paleo diet goes one step further taking out all of the big problematic foods to include things like eggs and nightshade and nuts and some other foods as well. It can be quite a restrictive diet. Certainly, if no one has ever done that before this idea for you that food could possibly impact what’s going on. The number of people that have been told by their gastroenterologist, that’s a conventional gut doctor, or rheumatologist, kind of conventional autoimmune doctor that food has zero impact what’s going on. I’ve wanted to bang my head against the wall so many times for that bad advice for people. Food absolutely for the majority of people plays at least a modest role in their autoimmunity. The majority of people by finding their dietary triggers and removing them can make a significant impact in their autoimmunity and in their health in general. Kind of a low hanging fruit for everyone is I do recommend if you’ve never done it before. Do an elimination diet. In fact, not quite autoimmunity. Just yesterday I spoke with someone and they found they were healing with eczema. Very common immune conditions. Eczema is not autoimmune. In fact, Ashley do you think you would help just briefly to talk about the different between inflammatory or an autoimmune issues. I find there’s a lot of confusion about that.
[43:07] Ashley James: Absolutely. Go ahead.
[43:08] Dr. Tim Gerstmar: Inflammation a lot of people specially the educated people who are listening to a podcast like this have heard the word inflammation before. They know that information is at the root of many different conditions and problems and diseases that are going on. I find that a lot of people who come to see me don’t actually know what inflammation is. Inflammation at its heart just means an active immune system. When the immune system gears up and activates itself a whole bunch of things happen. Chemicals are released and things happen but globally we call that those changes inflammation. Now we come to think of inflammation as a bad thing. Somethings that’s a problem and it absolutely can be. Inflammation can also be a very good thing. If we are able to magically reach in and shut down inflammation in your body, you would not be able to fight off infections. We need inflammation to happen. Again, inflammation active immune system when we’re fighting off a virus or bacteria. It’s one of the reasons that these immune-suppressing drugs whether they’re steroids or whether they’re the more aggressive immune suppressors make people more vulnerable to things like infection and possibly cancer as well. It’s because by shutting down the immune system or reducing it’s effectiveness, it can’t fight off those things in the same way as if it didn’t have those drugs pulling down immune functions. Inflammation in and of itself is not bad. The problem is inflammation and active immune system is supposed to be there to fight off an infection. To help heal an injury or wound. Again, if anybody’s taken steroids or immune suppressants, you can see that cuts and scratches and other wounds just basically can stop healing or take forever to heal because the necessary inflammation that the body needs to generate to cause that healing just isn’t happening. Again, that inflammation continuing on unshackled or too much of it or for too long is where we see all of these problems occurring. Something like eczema which his very common is an inflammatory condition. The immune system is flaring up, it’s causing the skin to react to become red or itchy. In contrast, an autoimmune issue is when the immune system has decided that part of your body is a problem. It is treating your joints for example as if they were a foreign bacteria that invading you. It’s attacking those joints and causing damage and pain and destruction to those joints. Something like eczema is inflammatory but not autoimmune. The body is not attacking or trying to destroy or damage the skin or other tissues but it is immune-inflammatory. Psoriasis, on the other hand, is an autoimmune disease. Now we have the immune system targeting the skin and causing issues for people. I just find a lot of confusion for people so I hope it helps to clarify and give people a little bit better understanding of the difference between inflammation and autoimmunity. If you have autoimmunity, you’re going to have inflammation but if you have an inflammatory issue it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s an autoimmune one.
[46:40] Ashley James: Got it. As someone who has an autoimmune condition, you want to make sure that you’re not doing things that increase inflammation in your life. You want to decrease inflammation. I learned from an old school naturopath, I think he’s in ’80s now. He said that this issue with autoimmune which is it feels new to me. It doesn’t sound like something that we had hundred years ago that was as big of a deal. I don’t know if that’s because diagnosing has become so much more advanced or is it that we are really seeing this like huge leap in auto immune conditions in the last 50 years through just the toxic environment and those standard American diet and the chemicals that we’re exposed to. The body is just way more toxic now than it is ever been so more agitated and inflamed. He says that – he also before he became a naturopath was a pathologist so he has that unique relationship to tissue and on a cellular level and he says that when someone has inflation cell damage at the tissue at the cellular level that the immune system comes along to clean it up. That autoimmune is where there’s inflammation on and damage like let’s say to the thyroid. A healthy thyroid but there’s inflammation in the body and the immune system keeps going keeps trying to clean it up and in doing so, it’s digesting the thyroid. The MDs will say, “Okay, the body’s attacking itself we need to suppress the immune system.” He says, “No, the immune system’s trying to clean up the damaged tissue. But the damages from the inflammation so something about the immune system of people with autoimmune is a little either hyperactive or what’s going on that some people can have inflammation and that their body doesn’t continue to clean it up and clean it up like an autoimmune response whereas others do. What is the difference? Can we see through genetics? Can we see through like toxicology reports? What can we see that is the difference between those with autoimmune and those without?
[49:11] Dr. Tim Gerstmar: Right. That’s the million-dollar question. If I have that exact answer for you, I would be trumpeting it to the world because all these we’re doing, all doctors were doing the best that we can. There’s a lot that we do know and frankly, there’s still so much that we don’t know and we’re hoping to continue to uncover. Now for most autoimmune disease there seem to be some genetic pre-dispositions, I argue that there are. Like for example why does one person get rheumatoid arthritis where the other gets ulcerative colitis where the other gets multiple sclerosis. I think there are some genetic predispositions. Now there’s no smoking gun that’s been identified oh if you have this gene you are going to get multiple sclerosis. I think the way I look at it is in autoimmune disease the immune system loses its way. Our immune systems have a very difficult job. Their job is to be constantly be patrolling around our body looking for things that don’t belong. Now when everything works properly even if the immune cells that are a little too aggressive or that want to target the body’s tissues get weeded out. They don’t exist. Where we‘re seeing autoimmunity occur is because something has gone wrong there. Cells that can target the body are now doing so and that process gets laid down and gets locked into the body. I think from my perspective again, my focus is to try and keep zoomed out and keep a holistic picture on someone. You name a number of factors. I think both detection of autoimmune disease is greater. There are more treatments we can argue about how much we like the different prescription drugs but there are many more treatments available for people than they were in the past. Hundred years ago someone with rheumatoid arthritis was just sort of doomed. They were stuck in their home or they were stuck in a wheelchair. They were just going to live a shorter more miserable life because there were really no, from a conventional side, there were really no available treatments for them. When steroid first become available, they were hailed as a miracle drug because these people that are crippled with pain, their joints and finger were all deformed from damage suddenly could leap out of their chairs and they could move around and they could be pain-free and they could have energy again. Certainly, part of it is that we’re able to detect these things now. The treatments are available. People come forward and they’re diagnosed and they’re brought out into the light if you will some of them were kind of captive in a way in the past. Yes, absolutely we’re seeing a dramatic uptake in autoimmune disease and other issues. One of my mentors begin practicing in the 1970’s he said to me that in his experience diseases all from the 70’s to the present day. He’s seeing diseases happen 20-30 years earlier in people than they used to. Something used to effect to people in their 60s we’re seeing it now affecting people in their 30’s. If something only affecting adults before we’re seeing it now affecting children and teens as well. Definitely many, many factors from our environment. Things we put out there to the way that people are living their lives now. I think all combined together. Whether on autoimmune disease begins as a healing process like you said, it is true when tissue is damaged or needs to be broken down or gotten rid of, it’s the immune system’s job to be a little janitor or a little garbage person and take out that trash and help that tissue rebuild and be healthy again. Whether it’s a genetic predisposition. The immune cells are little faulty in that regard. They’re a little too aggressive now and they’ll go after things they should be restrained from. Think about like we have guard dog on a leash if that leash is a little bit too long or the guard dog is a little bit too aggressive, it can end up biting things that you don’t want to when you want to protect other things. Whether there’s a genetic predisposition or whether the balance that’s going on with that person’s life. If your listeners can imagine those old scales where they have a pan on one side and a pan on the other, you put weights on one side it goes up or down and the things are balanced out. The level with one the other sides heavier it’ll be down lower than the lower one. We can imagine having a balance like that. One side of the scale you can imagine one of those pans being all the anti-inflammatory factors in a person’s life. A good nutritious diet, getting enough rest, reasonable level of exercise, managing their stress correctly that can be again certain supplements or nutrients, all of those different factors that serve to calm the immune system and reduce inflammation go on one side. All the factors that increase or raise inflammation go on the other side. The fact is that the modern lifestyles tilt heavily towards a pro-inflammatory state. My opinion is whether it’s a damage or other issues that kick things off for people, whether you throw in a dash of genetic predisposition towards it and then you tilt those scales heavily in terms of inflammatory factors, it’s no wonder that so many of us are suffering in health conditions in general and autoimmunity here in specific that we’re talking about.
[55:26] Ashley James: It’s really scary and interesting to see that what we used to suffer in our 60‘s and 70s’ with, we now suffer in our 30’s or 40’s or even earlier. I know Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, the cardiologist I’ve had on the show. He’s in his 80’s and still practicing. He’s the man that wrote the book, How To Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease. He said that when they would open people up and they would see this sort of the beginnings of heart disease that they see beginnings of heart disease people like 40 or 50, these are autopsies from people who died in accidents. Like car accidents. They do those autopsies and they’d find sort of the baseline of the population in terms of heart disease that they could see a 50-year-old beginning to have maybe some blockages or some calcification build up. They’re seeing that in teenagers now. As a population as a whole, we are dying sooner of preventable lifestyle-based diseases and we are as an entire population going down the wrong path. You said the lowest hanging fruit is fixing diet. We definitely all need to be responsible for our diet and I want to talk a bit more about that. What about the toxins that people are exposed to? Do you look into chelation or detoxing or sweating in a sauna. Have you find that helping autoimmune patients to detoxify? Has that also benefited their condition?
[57:26] Dr. Tim Gerstmar: Yes, because we know there are many different toxic compounds. I define a toxin. My personal definitely is going to be any substance that interferes with the normal functioning of the body symptom. The most basic level is you hold your breath the carbon dioxide, it builds up in your body becomes a toxin and then things your metabolism things start not working correctly so you desperately breathe out to get rid some of that carbon dioxide and get more oxygen into your body. Anything that interferes with that normal functioning there are normal body process that are going to produced toxins and sort of unfortunately we are the inheritors we’ve done a really great job of putting out a lot. The estimates range about a hundred thousand man-made chemicals into the environment that were not there before and are new to the environment. We either dug them of the ground or we synthesized and created them in a laboratory. The sad thing and I wish it weren’t true is that many of these compounds have undergone very minimal testing. It’s usually been around how much you have to give to someone to kill them or to cause them to have cancer. The newest research that has been accumulating shows that lower levels of these toxins of these compounds that won’t kill you can still have a chronic long term impact. We know many of these chemicals are endocrine disruptors. Endocrine’s another word for hormones. We have these compounds that act as hormone disruptors. Whether that’s in causing obesity, diabetes, whether that’s being a carcinogen or chemical that causes cancer. Immune disruptors. So we know many of these chemicals have these issues. Now when it comes to treatment, again, there’s kind of a low hanging fruit and then there’s the more complex stuff. Everything at the simplest level for your listeners reducing as many of these compounds and chemicals in their life as possible. We can break them down into a couple. We have beauty products, I’m sure you’ve probably had experts on before to talk about in particular women’s make-up as a very unregulated field. All the big cosmetic companies, there is no big oversight of them. They voluntarily are supposed to keep an eye on the stuff that they put into their make-up and their beauty products. We know many of them are full of some really nasty products so if people haven’t seen it, the environmental working group has a nice website. A section of it is called skin deep and they talk about a number of different studies and analysis of various cosmetics and beauty products and they make recommendations for some cleaner more organic, less toxic compounds. We always think about beauty products things, people are putting in their skin is being one factor. Household cleaners would be another and then the yard or the office would be another place. We’ve seen many people they move into a new building or a new workplace and their health took a big downturn. Obviously, there could be a variety of factors. One that I just want to bring up because it is so often ignored when we focus on diet, we focus on things like toxins are is mindset as well. That stress factor we find this is such a big deal. We’ve seen people eating good clean diets. Let me back up for just one second Ashley, we talked about the health triad. The three most critical health factors for autoimmunity. It’s not saying that there are other factors that aren’t important or that need to be addressed. The three most critical factors that we see are one, diet. Two, stress and three, sleep. We see it all the time. If one of these factors get a little off, people go out to eat or they go on vacation or they’re on traveling of for some reason their diet gets a little off track. If the other two factors sleep and stress are really under control, they’ll see either just a minor shift in symptoms or they may not notice much of anything. If two of these factors get out of control, we often see a flare and if all three of these factors are out of control, look out this person is set up for some pain unfortunately in a not too distant future. So diet is one critical piece we’ve kind of talked about that to some degree. Sleep is critically important. When people sleep well that is the signal to repair and rebuild their body. We see a lot of improvement from that. Stress is a factor that is just very often overlooked. We were talking earlier about doctors saying if they don’t get gluten out of the diet, we found in addition, that if people don’t or unwilling to look at their stress or unwilling to make changes in their life to help manage and deal with stress then we are unable to get long-lasting significant improvement for people. That if they just changed their diet, that they will see improvement in their autoimmune disease but if they don’t get some of these other factors and stress is probably the elephant in the room if they don’t get that addressed then they’re not going to see really significant results and they’re not going to see really long-lasting results.
[01:03:19] Ashley James: I really like that you pointed this out. I had a client who was she was transiting into type 1 diabetes. The doctors were calling it type 1.5. I’ve never heard of that but she was basically pre-diabetic and then they could see that her even though she was, this was like adult onset type 1 coming on as an autoimmune response. I was helping her as a health coach with her diet and her supplements and I kept addressing stress. I just intuitively felt this was probably the biggest piece of the puzzle and she kept fighting me on it. At one point she said, “I don’t feel stressed.” I said, ”Thank you. Thank you for pointing this out because stress isn’t an emotion like anger and I think we’re all sort of waiting to feel stressed but it’s not an emotion” Right? Can you tell us what is stress and how do we know we have it?
[01:04:19] Dr. Tim Gerstmar: The short answer, there’s a few pieces to answer here. We don’t ask people anymore if they are stressed. We ask them how they’re managing their stress because almost everyone with the exception of a few retirees or Microsoft millionaires who are independently wealthy and no longer working and can structure their life however they want. With the exception of few people, the vast majority of us are stressed. Now when we ask people or think about stress what they imagine is that inner sensation of pressure. That could be a psychological feeling like, “Oh my gosh, I’ve got so much to do today. So many things going on.” It can be that physical sensation of pressure or tightness. The classic shoulders-up-in-your-ears tension in your body that people are feeling but at a fundamental level there are two kinds of stress. There’s the mental-emotional stress, so this is everything from deadlines to children to bosses to traffic. All of those mental-emotional feelings that we have going on. Then their physical stresses as well. Those can range from inflammation is a kind of stress on our body that can go from poor fueling strategies, blood sugar crashes are going to be a source of stress on the body. It’s important to realize that no matter whether it’s a mental stress whether it’s a physical stress the reaction that happens in the body is the same. From a primitive physiological or body-based perspective, stress is gearing us up to deal with a life or death situation. The gazelle on the grasslands, they don’t have too much mental or emotional stress. They’re not thinking about jobs or deadlines, planning for retirement, or dealing so much with the kids or any of those things. Their life is mostly built around the physical stress which is a lion wants to eat me. When that stress responds kicks in we call the fight or flight response is really what stress is. That causes changes within a person’s body. It changes within that animal’s body. Changes within our bodies. Based around that response which is to fight off something that wants to hurt us or run away from something that wants to hurts us. Now human beings we have the blessing and the curse. For most other animals out there, their stresses are mostly physical. For human beings who are fortunate enough like we are to live in the modern world most of us were not dealing with starvation, work or physical harm as real ever-present issues that are going on for us. Most of us modern humans are lucky enough not to deal with those and most of our issues are psychological. Traffic that I had to wave trough, my kids bugging me, my boss is nagging me. All those kinds of issues. It’s important to realize those mental stressors trigger the same physical reactions to occur in a person’s body. Now the other big piece that you said is most of us are dealing with a load of chronic stress but like the story of the frog in the pot of water. If people haven’t heard, I don’t think this story is actually true but you hear it repeated everywhere so it’s good to use as an example. You put a frog in a pot of water if you suddenly pour boiling water on there, it will hurt and the frog will leap out of the pot. The story goes if you just slowly heat up the water the frog gets used to that hot water and doesn’t leap out of the pot. For most of us, we’re in the same situation as the frog in a pot of hot water that’s been turned up and turned up and turned up. That hot water feels normal to us. The chronic stress that we’re under is what we call normalized. We don’t even know it because most of the time it’s there. It’s become background and baseline but still affecting us but we don’t notice it. It’s only when there’s big changes in our lives. When we go away on a extended vacation, for example, we’re able to get out from under all that stress and then we suddenly go, “Oh my god. I didn’t even realized how much this was affecting me.” It’s very common. We see it all the time with people. For example with food, there are food that they really need to stay away from. They see flares of those food when they eat those foods. They go away on vacation and they suddenly go, “Oh my god. I was able to eat that food. I thought –“ I accidentally got it for example. “I was so worried that thing were going to flare up” And you know what? They didn’t. Maybe I felt the twinge or maybe I actually felt nothing. It’s very common for people to do a celebratory dance and say, “My gosh, I no longer have problem with gluten. I no longer have a problem with the foods that are an issue for me.” They get back home and they climb back into the pot of hot water that stress level and all of a sudden they go, “Why can I not eat that food? When I was on vacation I was able to eat that food and now I can’t do it anymore?” If you remember back to the scale the one side is anti-inflammatory, the other side being pro-inflammatory. If you’re on vacation, your stress level goes way down. There’s other factors you’re’ loading at the anti-inflammatory side of the scale. Now it’s hanging down low. You put a little bit of inflammatory food on the other side it’s not enough to tip the balance into big active inflammation. It’s not a problem. You get back home. You load up the pro-inflammatory side of the scale and so now, you drop that inflammatory food on and it and it shift things over and brings up a flare of symptoms for people. I’m so glad you’ve recognized it. Oftentimes it can feel like talking to brick wall. People either say,” I’m not stressed.” When majority of the time we find when we dig into it, there’s a lot of normalized stress going on for the person. They’re stressed. They just don’t pay attention to it anymore. For some people they just refuse to acknowledge and work on it because on some level, it’s much easier to change your diet that something external to you than to dig into the issues that are stressful. It can be work, it can be family life, they can be priorities, they can be issue patterns that you have, it can go back into all the way into childhood. They can be challenging to deal with it. It feels more internal and it feels more personal. If people are willing fundamentally we’ve seen if they are not willing to address this they’re going to limit their healing and what positive things that can happen for them.
[01:11:38] Ashley James: I interviewed a naturopath actually local one here as well. She made a funny joke. She goes, “You know every time – “she just had another client come back from Hawaii. She says, “Every time a patient of mine comes back from Hawaii, all their symptoms go away. I think I’m going to start prescribing vacations to Hawaii.” It’s just, it’s amazing how you’re painting this picture. This correlation of my condition gets better when I’m on vacation and then I come home and it gets worst. Hello, this is the soup we live in. The stress soup. We want to do things like see mental health counselors to learn healthy coping strategies and mechanisms for helping us on a daily basis. Deal with the daily stressors like you said even from childhood. I know that I run programs that I learn from my parents who are both entrepreneurs. There are things from my childhood that I need to examine and re-program. What can we immediately do or implement on a daily basis to significantly reduce stress? What do you see works really well in your clinic?
[01:12:56] Dr. Tim Gerstmar: This is one of the more personal approaches because again, there is no one perfect things that one person finds stress relieving can be stress-inducing for another person. Right?
[01:13:13] Ashley James: Like meditation?
[01:13:14] Dr. Tim Gerstmar: Meditation. You totally read my mind there. Meditation works beautifully for some people. Such a magical tool. For other people, it makes them insane with rage. It’s like the worst possible thing that we can do. I’m happy here to give you a few suggestions. It is important for anyone listening to know while we can roughly come to some generics like, “Hey, from our perspective try something like a paleo diet or that autoimmune paleo diet or the whole 30 diet. Those are all specific carbohydrate diets. These are all reasonable starting places to work with diet. When it comes to stress, there are few basics. As always it’s figuring out what works for you. Doing this “stress-relieving thing” leaves you feeling more stressed out. It’s not working, right?
[01:14:13] Ashley James: If they’re not in touch with their body and in touch with their stress levels, how do they now whether if it’s working or not? We know of heart rate variability. It’s difficult to find an affordable and effective heart rate variability monitor so how would they know that they’re actually lowering their stress when they’re doing something new?
[01:14:34] Dr. Tim Gerstmar: Again if stress is triggering the fight or flight response then de-stressing should trigger the relax and digest response going on. Certainly, we can conjure back to those times in our lives when we were not stressed. We can watch what little kids look like when they play. Kids, of course, can get stressed out and have their own issues but by enlarge most kids thankfully aren’t dealing with all the chronic stressors that we have. So there’s smiles, there’s enjoyment, there’s play going on. From a big-picture perspective, this takes most adults totally aback when we ask it. What do you do for play? What do you do for just pleasure and enjoyment? For example, a lot of people have come to us understandably have been doing a lot of research on the internet, reading books, listening to podcasts, watching blogs or vlogs and videos. All of these things to try and better understand what’s going on for them. One of the challenges that will put to people is “What was the last book you read for enjoyment?” Not self-help. Not health related but purely for enjoyment. A lot of times they sit there and stare at us, trying to think up the last thing they did that was purely for joy. Purely for pleasure and have a hard time and often we need to put people, I’m all for people being educated it’s great but often times we have to put people on little bit of a fast of information that’s purely help their self-improvement, make it a homework piece to read something fun or something enjoyable. An activity that people can get lost in by its nature, that flow state is a state of not being stressed. Right? So what do you enjoy doing? This time of year in the pacific northwest, is it getting out for a walk with your dog? Not a power walk, not an “I need to walk for 30 minutes and get my heart rate to 85 % of my cardiovascular maximum” but “Can I actually get outside and enjoy the view? Can I just get some time to de-stress and to bring my creativity out?” One of the things that we see that disappears when people are stressed is creativity. Because we’re on fight or flight. There’s no need to be creative when a tiger’s trying to eat you. Creativity by its nature is a more relaxed flow state. We can’t be worried about the next thing trying to be too creative when you’re driving to work and bumper to bumper traffic. It’s not going to happen. But when we’re talking a nice hot shower. We’re relaxing, our mind is pacing out and all of a sudden the ideas come flooding out. We know we’ve switched off from that sympathetic fight or flight response into a more parasympathetic one.
[01:17:40] Ashley James: I love it. My husband has the best ideas when he’s in the shower. He always comes to the shower and tells me something really cool. He’s really creative. I love my time in the sauna. I got my sunlighten sauna, which I absolutely love. Decrease stress and sweating out the toxins which is so great. I have my grounding mat. I really feel relaxed on it and it’s funny because I have it on my bed and I also have it on my desk and now whenever I’m on it, I don’t want to get off of it. I’m lying there going, “I have so much energy, I’m so awake, I’m so ready to get up out of bed but I’m so happy and relaxed right now.” I know that’s working for me. I have a newer mattress. I got a few months ago which I adore. I’ve talked about it before on the show. It’s completely changed how I sleep. That in and of itself decreases stress because when I don’t get sleep, I worry about not getting sleep and I worry about not getting sleep increases stress. Just like about worrying about diets can increase stress. Worrying about stress is going to increase your stress. Worrying about your sleep so it’s that vicious cycle of “Oh, I didn’t get enough sleep. I’m not going to be able to function today.” That worry exacerbates it. That exacerbation of worry it means the next night you won’t be able to sleep well. We’ve got to have that break state. Before we hit record you were talking about the studies they’ve done around getting out in nature and how effective that is in decreasing stress in general. You obviously mentioned, “Let’s go for a walk with our dog.” What about just being in nature? Why is that so important? Why is that rather than walking down a busy city street. Why is so nature so relaxing?
[01:19:37] Dr. Tim Gerstmar: Right. We can dissect it a million and one ways but anyone who’s interested amongst to look at any of the research there out of Japan in particular and some of the Asian societies there is a long-standing ritual that is very poetic sounding it’s called forest bathing. It has nothing to do with taking a bath or slipping into a bathtub in the middle of a forest that sounds like a drug commercial that we see sometimes. Forest bathing merely means to get outside and be surrounded by nature. Whether that’s sitting and spending time in a natural surrounding or walking through a forest or being around a natural scene. There’s a lot of theories. Now we could talk about and I think this is so very cool. We know the plants breathe themselves. Opposite of us they breathe out oxygen and they breathe in carbon dioxide and we actually know that for example, if you go for a walk in a pine forest and we’re blessed to have many pines and evergreens here in the Pacific Northwest but we actually know that in that exhalation those trees there are essential oils. We know that when we breathe in these exhalations of the trees we’re breathing in trace amounts of these essential oils and other compounds and it’s been theorized that they’re one factor that’s having a positive influence on our immune system. On our nervous systems or stress levels as well. I think most of us have the experience partly it’s noise, I don’t know about you but I know for me going out in a natural scene where there’s some stillness and some quiet and you can hear the wind moving through and you’re not hearing cars and airplane sand jackhammers and all sorts of people yelling and screaming and doing all the stuff that people do. I feel personally if I spend time there I can feel my nervous system ratcheting down whereas for me if I’m walking downtown there’s people everywhere. There’s car buzzing here to and all over the place and there’s all of that. There’s lights, there’s sounds, there’s all these things going on it is profoundly non-relaxing experience for me. Evidence bears that out. There was an interesting study done in Europe as well that asked about people living in downtown areas with constant noise and the constant activity and again to our idea of normalized stress Ashley. When they’re asked these to self-report like, do they feel stressed, do they notice the noise anymore, does it bother them? They basically say no. They don’t notice the noise. It does not bother them. But when they measured their body and what was going on with their body they found that their body was indeed still reacting to those stressors from the noise and the activity and everything else that was going on. Even for people who would live there for a very long time. Again, I don’t believe – you’ll find many people out there and I hope I can caution your audience. Human beings love simple answers. The reason that we have autoimmunity, more autoimmunity and they’re suffering from it is gluten. That’s the answer or maybe it’s glyphosate or maybe it’s whatever like X, Y, and Z. It’s a traumatic childhood. You’re seeing people say The Answer, again, I caution people, there is no The Answer. There’s been a lot of changes. We live very, very different lifestyles from those of our ancestors. Our ancestors of a hundred years ago, a thousand years ago or 25 thousand years ago. We live very different lifestyles. Those changes while there are many very positive changes, I personally don’t want to go back 25 thousand years ago and live that lifestyle that our tough as nails ancestors lived back then. Along with the positives, not having to starve and not worry about a tiger eating me, there are a whole host of negatives. I think what we’ve seen in the past 50-year or so we sort of tipped over the line where those negatives have really compounded in so many ways. That’s why we’re seeing more autoimmunity, why we’re seeing more diseases in general and why we’re seeing diseases younger. I’m sure you know that type II diabetes used to be called adult-onset diabetes because it basically only ever happened in adults and they had to take away it’s not called that anymore because we see unfortunately so many kids and teens with type II diabetes these days.
[01:25:45] Ashley James: Yes, it’s just so sad. It’s so sad but luckily the listener here is enlightened and doesn’t go eat fast-food, basically do the basic American diet which causes disease. We have to think about this way that food is either causing disease or it’s healing our body. It’s either destructive or restorative. There is no neutral. It’s either building us up or tearing us down. It’s a fuel. People feel in general have disconnected from food and beverages that they look at this one little pill. We could get a pharmaceutical one tiny pill the size of a pea could give us side effects that could potentially kill us. That’s how powerful this tiny thing is the size of a pea. And yet we eat cups and cups ad cups of food and drink everyday not aware of their side effects. They’re molecules as well. That can either harm us or help us. So food, stress. I love that you point out that stress is so vastly important. That those people who lived in the cities that were studied. They became habituated. I think we become habituated to the diet reading as well. A lot of people say, “I’m not allergic to gluten or grains.” But you spent a month cutting them out, oh my gosh. I’m not allergic to them. I don’t have an autoimmune condition that I know of. My husband and I cut out gluten 8 years ago. We cut out barley, wheat, rye, and oats. What happened to us was miraculous. I lost 25 pounds of water weight and my husband, he lost something like 11 or something but what’s interesting is that our rings started to fly off our fingers. We had them actually made for our wedding. We have them made by a jeweler. We knew our wedding bands were properly fitted when we got married years before and they started flying off our finger so we waited a few months because I was worried that it would, this was temporary, right? This decrease in inflammation was temporary. After six months, we were still having our rings fly off our fingers. We went it to get resized reluctantly because my engagement ring is actually a hundred years old. It’s been passed down to my family. So I really didn’t want it to have it changed in size if not needed. So we went in and I went down two ring sizes and my husband went down one and a half, no sorry. I went down one and a half, my husband went down to two. Now I’m getting them mixed up. Either way, it went down significantly. I think I went down two because I lost more water weight. What’s funny is that we have our pictures taken for our driver’s licenses right before we went gluten free. We have this before and after. We hold it up to people when we meet them and they’re like don’t believe gluten makes a big difference. I’m like “Look we’re not celiac.” This is just pro inflammatory grains. We showed them the pictures and its like I look like the difference between Bert and Ernie. My face is round and puffy. I’m just so surprised when people go “I don’t have any problems with that. It doesn’t cause any damage.” Just try it. Try cutting out gluten for a month, try to cut dairy for a month. Then you go back to it. I had a friend call me up so angry at me because she’s Jewish and she goes, “I can’t eat bagels anymore.” She was so angry because she was habituated to gluten then she went off it for a month. She felt amazing. She got on some supplements and I gave her some health coaching. She got off foods that were pro-inflammatory. A month later her migraines had stopped but she went back to eating a bagel and she felt so sick she goes, “I can’t believe you’ve taken bagels away from me.” She’s in all just she’s very happy to continue to be gluten-free. Almost seven years later, she’s still doing it because we become habituated. We become habituated to stress. Even become habituated to sleep. I can’t tell you how many people have to told me “I only need 4 hours of sleep.” What’s up with that? Do you find that people that come to you, they just have poor sleep in general because that’s sort of one of the biggest factors that helps to set the groundwork for having autoimmune? Do most people tell you they can function on four to six hours of sleep just fine?
[01:29:34] Dr. Tim Gerstmar: It’s a mix. We get people saying things like they do definitely are people who say like “Oh yes, I sleep four to six hours and I feel great.” and you’re like, “Okay. Unfortunately, it’s design for if you will but that part of our brain, that monitors our state like our wakefulness and how we feel is one of the first to go down from lack of sleep. In the same way and this is very difficult. Again, sleep and stress we often find more difficult for more people than dietary changes. Diet is tough. Listen no doubt about it. Some people took it very easily some people don’t. Sleep and stress can be even more difficult and will often challenge people to do a two to four week challenge of getting more sleep. Whether that’s adding an hour or whatever is appropriate for their situation of getting more sleep. When they do it almost uniformly people go, “Oh my god, I have no idea how much better I could feel getting more sleep than I was.” Again, “I thought I was okay because I was used to it but I really wasn’t. I don’t have those crashes. My mood is so much better. My energy is improved, my inflammation is down.” So many of these pieces improve for people with, two things, better quality sleep is important. Like you mentioned, for example, having an old uncomfortable mattress can impair people’s quality of sleep. So you can sleep a lot quantity-wise but quality is bad, you’re not going to be getting the benefit out of it. You can simply for a lot of people, just not getting enough. A lot of people who come to see us reality admit that. “I’m sleeping six and a half hours a night. How’s that going? Well, I’m tired. I know I should sleep more. I don’t. Okay, we’re going to have to talk about that and see what we need to do to make some changes for you.” This reminds me of a point often when we’re taking someone’s history and we’re looking back through it, autoimmunity can feel like it came on overnight for people. One day I was fine. The next day I wasn’t. Sometimes things do happen. Type 1 diabetes, for example, is typically now not in the example you gave up the adult-onset, that is a little bit into type 1 diabetes but your classic type 1 diabetes, what is thought to happen is the child gets sick with a cold or a stomach bug or the immune system reacts to that stomach bug and there’s a cross-reaction that occurs. That the cells of the pancreas that produce insulin so we could control our blood sugar would close enough like that the gut bug that the immune reaction against the gut bug pivots and a start attacking the pancreas. Often that onset can be within a few weeks. The kid was sick and sort of never really recovers well and gets into the symptoms of having type 1 diabetes. But for most the majority of people, most autoimmune diseases they may say to us “Well, it felt like it just came on overnight” when we track their health back to their history often what we see are the roots and the stirrings of that autoimmunity years or decades before hand. Usually culminates what we call the straw that broke the camel’s back. That’s often a hugely stressful event. That can be a divorce, job change, going to school, some big event travel or something else that was just kind of the last straw that tipped people over into a full-blown autoimmune disease. We often see that and they’ll say, “Well, it was this trip that gave me autoimmunity or whatever the case might be and almost never is that actually the case. That was just the final straw that kicked off the autoimmunity in earnest but often will see it going on for years or decades beforehand.
[01:33:50] Ashley James: Got it. Very interesting. You talked about the paleo or the paleo autoimmune protocol. What about the GAPS diet? Have you had success with that? The GAPS diet being really about helping to restore the gut.
[01:34:07] Dr. Tim Gerstmar: Yes. Again, not an all or nothing guide. I’ve seen the GAPS diet worked wonderfully of people it’s a little more of in my experience a little bit more of logistics kind of a complicated diet with different stages in it. I find a lot of people have a lot of trouble understanding how to do the diet. How to follow it. I’ve certainly used it. I was certified by the creator of the diet to work with it. I found it be quiet helpful for people. Again, just because of the logistic I often found that people do a little bit better with paleo diets or autoimmune paleo diets. It’s just a little bit more straightforward. Yes, found that gaps diets worked well. We’ve mentioned one called the specific carbohydrate diet. It’s been around for quite a long time. Had worked nicely for people before. My biggest thing is, not that anyone diet, in particular, is the right one and all the others are wrong. The question for me is several fold. Does the diet take away foods that are problematic for a person? If it does so then they’re good to be seeing improvement in what’s going on. Secondly, we have to say, along with that diet is a gut dysfunction. You know, a very common story. I’m sure some of the listeners have heard it before is that they remove some food from their diet. Say, for example, gluten. “Oh my gosh, everything got so much better when I took gluten out of my diet. But now it’s been a while and kind of seen some symptoms have been creeping back and things are a problem so now I need to eliminate more foods from my diet. Maybe that’s okay for a while. Everything got better again great. Then it came back again now this is a problem. Now that’s a problem.” So we’ve seen people get down to this three or four foods that they feel like they can eat safely. It’s a very bad, hard place to be in. That’s fundamental because diet is one component of healing a person’s gut. But it’s not the only. For some people when they take the food out, their gut is able to heal itself. Everything rebalances and they’re in a good place but for other people taking the food out can merely be a band-aid. One of the places without actually addressing the underlying causes of the leaky gut and the sensitivity in the first place, one of the areas that I found that a number of more holistically minded practitioners really let their patients down. They run some sort of test to identify sensitivities to food or they put them on an elimination diet and they go, “Great Ashley, gluten is problem for you. Maybe whatever nuts are a problems, eggs are a problem whatever the food is that’s an issue for you. Great, don’t eat those foods. You’re all good. See you later.” It’s like we haven’t actually address the underlying factor. You have to get those inflammatory foods out to get the system to calm down. Some of those removed foods may be permanent. They may be foods you really need to stay away from or you should stay away from them. Many of those foods can be temporary. While the gut is dysfunctional and disorder the immune system is activated and inflamed, a lot of foods can be problematic. We commonly see that in the beginning, you need to take out quite a few different foods but over time as we heal the gut as things get to a better place for many people, many those foods can start to make their appearance back in a person’s diet and not be problematic for them anymore.
[01:37:58] Ashley James: I love that you brought that up. That we can go down that road of eliminating things from our diet but people can get very restrictive and that’s a level of stress.
[01:38:12] Dr. Tim Gerstmar: Absolutely. Yes, it is.
[01:38:14] Ashley James: Right, so we have to find that balance. We have to address stress. We do have to help the person figure to what diet is, the most healing way to eat for their body at that time and then help them address sleep. When you help the patient to dial in this trifecta, how long do people get results? Is it immediate? Is it within a few months? I know you can’t say like a hundred percent of people everyone always. I know you can’t say that. Let’s just say that the people who are listening right now have autoimmune maybe also have some gut issues, if they work with you, in six months from now, could majority of them be in remission? Is there that much hope?
[01:39:11] Dr. Tim Gerstmar: Again, please I know Ashley just did a good job with it, it does depend. Some people get very huge results very quickly. Sometimes, 80% of their symptoms can be improved within a month. That does happen. Is it common? No. Depends on what’s going on and all the rest. But can it make that big of a difference for people very, very quickly? It can. Often it doesn’t. Generally, here’s the timeline that we generally use for people. When we think autoimmune disease, we typically think a year of treatment. We’re confident that within 12 months we could’ve made substantial and long-lasting changes for those persons. Again, some people move faster, some people move a little bit slower but we’re generally looking at that. Often by 3 months, again ballpark figure, we’ll often see 30-40% improvement in symptoms. People would be feeling noticeably better, digestion working better, pain levels down, skin improved, thinks feeling better. By six months we’ll often see somewhere around 70-80% improvement so massive. Big changes people are feeling very different than they were six months ago. Then that final six months as often what we’re getting at last 10-20% and also critically important is when we’re cementing habits for sustainability and the long-term. We used to aim for six months of working with people knowing that we can make really major changes. In those six months what we found where we really let people down is that we would say, “Okay, great. You’re good to go. You know what to do. You’ve addressed many of those factors. Keep up the good work. Follow up for your check-up and make sure everything’s on track.” We found there are still a significant percentage of people who would backslide, their habits would come loose with life stressors and things happening in their lives. Yes, diet was in really good shape. Then things got busy and the kids went back to school and this happened. Job changes or moved. Whatever happened and the diet kind of came undone and that trifecta we’ve talked about, the sleep, stress, and diet came apart and then people started to backslide and symptoms returned. What we found is by talking that additional six months of really making sure that all those changes are really cemented, the fundamentals have all been addressed, lifestyle changes have become permanent for people. We found that after 12 months the chance of recurrence of backsliding and having things come back drops really dramatically. So our recommendation for most people with autoimmunity is going to be a plan that encompasses 12 months or a full year.
[01:42:21] Ashley James: I love it. I love that you get such great results and that you help people to sustain at themselves.
[01:42:29] Dr. Tim Gerstmar: Right. That’s the goal, right? There is a place and obviously, I’m biased as a medical professional who does this for a living but there’s a place for medical professionals. I know many people out there who have horror stories. Really terrible experiences with doctors or the medical system. I hear them every week people tell me about those stories and I understand why some people just give the whole medical system a middle finger and say that they’re just going to manage their own health. Again, we come back to that pyramid there’s a place for self-management. Your doctor , your health professional, your health coach. All of these they don’t go home with you. They don’t cook unless you can have a professional chef preparing all your meals for you which some people are very fortunate to be in that place but vast majority of us we have to get our own meals. We have to eat our own meals. We don’t have a personal trainer to be there to force us to do the exercise we need to do. We don’t have someone mom or dad telling us to go to bed and make sure these things happens. We have to be responsible for our own lives and for our own health habits. By doing that we can take our health into our own hands and we can make big changes. But there’s absolutely a place for health professionals for people who do this, who’ve gone through the training, who’ve done the work, who do this on a day to day basis. We need both of those. We need a practitioner who will work with the person and we need the person to do their side of things as well. That’s how we get optimal results. Again, it’s not an either-or, it’s an and both type of situation.
[01:44:15] Ashley James: I love it. You told me that you have some advice for those who have been maybe they like you said, have felt as though the medical system has failed them and they’re quite upset about it so they go to google and they try to get advice from great podcasts like this one, from blogs and from wiki, from all kinds of medical websites to try to help themselves. There are a million websites out there to tell you what to do. Many of them contradict each other when it comes to gut healing and autoimmune and then forms, Facebook groups. We could just go on and on. We are at a wonderful age of information and it’s up to us to dial it in and figure out what’s best for us. Unfortunately, if we are in a state of stress and we have autoimmune, we probably have brain fog because being in the sympathetic nervous response shunts blood away to logic centers of the brain so we’re not thinking straight so now we’re being overwhelmed with too much information and we don’t know what actionable steps to take. Can you tell us how can we figure out what’s best for us and what sources of good information versus maybe non information will best serve us?
[01:45:39] Dr. Tim Gerstmar: Unfortunately, there is no super easy answer and just shameless plug here, my book called The Clear Path To Health was in large part me trying to lay that out this extremely common situation. Where someone’s gone to their doctor looking for help. They’ve got one of two different things that happened. They were either diagnosed with an issue, given some sort of treatment for it. If they asked, “Is there anything else that could be done beyond taking this medication or doing this thing?” They were told “No there are no other options.” Type II diabetes again, right, you have to take your drugs it’s a progressive disease it’s just going to get worse over the course of our life. “Is there anything else that could be done? Nope. Nothing else that could be done.” A lot of people wisely go, “Hold on. That doesn’t sound right. There’s got to be something else that I could do to help.” Of course, they go to doctor google to try to look for answers or unfortunately, we hear this very often people are feeling bad. They go to their doctor. They get some tests run and they’re told that, “Everything looks fine. Nothing’s going on” or maybe there’s something going on but it’s unclear what it is. What can we do about it? Nothing. Please get out of here. You’re clogging up the office.” and people are just thrown out left on their own and don’t know what to do. Again, completely understandable they turn to Doctor Google looking for some answers.
The key piece that I think is important to keep in mind is always start with the fundamentals. To make it easy, we’ve honed in on three starting places. Three fundamentals and we’ve talked about them. Diet, sleep and stress. Does that mean that just addressing those three things will take care of everything that’s going on for you and there aren’t other issues or things that need to be taken care of? No. It does not mean that. Like what we talked about before with the pyramid. These three are the foundation. If you aren’t eating well, you’re stressed out of your mind and you’re not sleeping well. You can be taking all the supplements in the world, you could be doing all the practices, all the mediations, all the other you-name-it-you-can-be-doing-it. Will they give you some benefit? Yes. But will they give you the benefit that you’re really looking for? No, they will not. To go back to diabetes, why do MDs say that diabetes is an incurable progressive disease? Type II diabetes again, just to be clear it’s because when you slap medications on it but you don’t address the fundamentals, the medications will help but hey cannot get the root of what’s going on and they won’t fundamentally stop diabetes. Similarly, with autoimmune disease. You can read all about the latest herbs, potions, pills, patches, therapeutics, all these different things. Is there some benefit in many of them? There are. But if you don’t have the fundamentals in play, you’re chasing shiny objects. One of the things we humans are cursed with is shiny objects syndrome. Like Kosar, we like things that are shiny, interesting, sexy and the problem with me banging in the drum about food, sleep and stress is people go, “Yes, yes, yes. I got that. I know that I already sleep fine. I already eat a healthy diet. I’m not stressed out.”
The majority of people that we work with when we analyzed those factors they may or may not done a lot of great work in their diet. Often there’s a lot of various that still need to be addressed and worked with. They almost always have not properly addressed stress. Again, I want to be really clear I don’t believe in shame or blame. This isn’t about telling people they’re wrong or bad or anything else. It’s just these are things that are not taught. They’re not reinforced in our society. We don’t recognize them and some of the cures for things like stress and sleep go against the varied values that we’re taught about. Always working hard and trying to get ahead and trying to do the things in our life sometimes that we need to be doing. These factors are important and if they’re not addressed first then we can get caught up in all the shiny objects and all the new supplements and all the latest greatest testing. It comes back to making sure that your foundation is solid. The base of that pyramid is there before we jump on to other factors. Then again, shameless plug finding a good holistic practitioner who can work with you. Again, I spent years and years researching and working with these materials. It’s fairly straight forward for me to look up something going to the internet and go, “That sounds reasonable” or maybe that sounds like maybe it’ll work for a few people but it isn’t going to be useful for the vast majority of people. Can be difficult for people out there struggling through on their own. So really finding a practitioner to work with who can guide you, can really shortcut and save you a lot of time, a lot of effort, a lot of years of your life. Finding a good one. Again, in the back of my book, The Clear Path to Health, I lay out the 11 questions that you need to think about and ask a practitioner that you’re considering working with to help you understand if this is someone who might be a good fit for you. Might give you the help that you need or unfortunately might be a waste of your time money and energy and you should keep on looking to find someone different.
[01:51:14] Ashley James: I love it. Thank you so much and I know you’re doing a giveaway. It’s in our Facebook group. Listeners who would like to potentially win a copy of your book. They can go to the learn true health Facebook group. After I publish the show, we’ll do the giveaway and they can comment to enter into the giveaway. Thank you for that. I love that you have simplified things. It is very complex. There are I believe there’s over 200 different kinds of autoimmune conditions. Is that correct?
[01:51:50] Dr. Tim Gerstmar: I’ve heard varying numbers. The number I’ve most commonly heard thrown around is about a 150 but listen, we’re in a ballpark. There are many, many types of autoimmunity. Some of them are very common. They have common names. We know about them. Some others are much more uncommon or rare or even discovering that some conditions we thought that no autoimmune kind of basis are now being shown that there is autoimmunity involved in them as well. Unfortunately, for us, autoimmune disease is one of the curses of modern life. Thankfully we’re not getting chased by tigers, most of us are not striving to death anymore but we traded that for autoimmunity. Among many other things. The good news is that many of the things that are within our control that we can do can make a really big impact. For a lot of people, they need for immune-suppressing drugs, they may to need them. We’ve seen many people with a whole host of different autoimmune conditions either not need to get on drugs or be able to get off of them. Some people definitely do need them and we recommend that they use them. But again, use the whole pyramid. Don’t just start at level three the drugs ignoring steps 1 and 2. By layering in steps 1 and 2, we often need less drugs if we need them and we minimize or reduce the side effects that can happen with those drugs. There’s a lot that can be done and I hope people are taking this as the hopeful message that I’m intending it to be.
[01:53:33] Ashley James: Absolutely. It was very positive. It was wonderful having you on the show. Is there anything left unsaid? Is there anything you wanted to make sure that you cover before we wrap up today’s interview?
[01:53:46] Dr. Tim Gerstmar: Well, I think we’ve gone to a lot of really good stuff. I hope people have taken some notes or if they feel like it’s gone by in a whirlwind I hope they come back and give it a listen too. There’s a lot of good stuff here. Be aware that all of us we have the shiny object syndrome as an issue. It can be fun to research the newest latest greatest stuff but make sure before you waste your time, money and energy chasing over those shiny things that your fundamentals are being taken care of. Know that there are qualified, caring practitioners out there who can help you. We’re not anti-MD but recognize the strengths and the weaknesses of anyone you work with. No one will be able to do everything. So recognize what the health professionals in your life are skilled at and if they can’t meet a need that you have, then it’s time to get someone involved who does have that expertise who can help you make those changes.
[01:54:58] Ashley James: Dr. Tim Gerstmar, it’s been such a pleasure having you on the show today. Dr. Tim’s website is aspirenaturalhealth.com. Of course, the links to everything that he does is going to be on the show notes of today’s’ podcast at learntruehealth.com. It’s been wonderful. Thank you so much for coming today and sharing with our listeners. I hope that it fills them with hope and it gives them the clear direction for them to know that they can take step by step. In a matter of months to a year, they can see great changes in their health.
[01:55:34] Dr. Tim Gerstmar: Yes, profound changes for sure. If this has been helpful for people, please feel welcome, drop us a line on our Facebook page or send us a message. Just saying that you’ve found the podcast helpful. It always warms my heart, makes my day to know that this has made a difference in people’s lives. If you’re looking for a practitioner if you’re local in the Seattle, the greater Seattle area. Feel welcome to give us a call or drop us a line or if you’re listening from somewhere else know that through the miracles of modern technology, we can do virtual consults with people all over the States and really all over the world. There is hope and please feel welcome to reach out and contact us. You can find all of our information at our website as Ashley said, aspirenaturalhealth.com and I hope you’ll check it out.
[01:56:24] Ashley James: Awesome. Thanks so much.
[01:56:25] Dr. Tim Gerstmar: Thank you.
[01:56:28] Ashley James: Hello, true health seeker. Have you ever thought about becoming a health coach? Do you love learning about nutrition and how we can shift our lifestyle and our diet so that we can gain optimal health and happiness and longevity? Do you love helping your friends and family to solve their health problems and figure out what they can do to eat healthier? Are you interested in becoming someone who can grow their own business, support people in their success? Do you love helping people? You might be the perfect candidate to become a health coach. I highly recommend checking out the Institute for Integrated Nutrition. I just spent the last year in their health-coaching sort of vacation program and it really blew me away. It was so amazing. I learned over a hundred dietary theories. I learned all about nutrition but from the standpoint on how we can help people to shift their life, to shift their lifestyle to gain true holistic health. I definitely recommend you check them out. You can google Institute for Integrated Nutrition or IIN, or give them a call or you can go to learntruehealth.com/coach and you can receive a free module of their training. So check it out and see if it’s something that you’d be interested in. Be sure to mention my name, Ashley James and the Learn True Health podcast because I made a deal with them that they would give you the best price possible. I highly recommend checking it out. It really changed my life to be in their program. I’m such a big advocate that I wanted to spread this information. We need more health coaches. In fact, health coaching is the largest growing career right now in the health field. So many health coaches are getting in and helping people because you can work in chiropractic offices, doctor’s offices, you can work in hospitals. You can work online through Skype and help people around the world. You can become an author. You can go into the school system and help with your local schools shift their programs to help children be healthier. You can go into senior centers and help them to shift their diet and lifestyle to best support them and their success and their health goals. There’s so many different available options for you when you become a certified health coach. So check out IIN. Check out the Institute for Integrated Nutrition. Mention my name. Get the best deal. Give them a call and they’ll give you lots of free information and help you to see if this is the right move for you. Classes are starting soon. The next round of classes are starting at the end of the month, so you’re going to want to call them now and check it out. If you know anyone in your life who would be an amazing coach, please tell them about it. Being a health coach is so rewarding and you get to help so many people.
Are you looking to optimize your health? Are you looking to get the best supplements at the lowest price? For high-quality supplements and to talk to someone about what supplements are best for you, go to takeyoursupplements.com and one of our fantastic true health coaches will help you pick out the right supplements for you that are highest quality and the best price. That’s takeyoursupplements.com. Be sure to ask about free shipping and our awesome referral program.
Get Connected With Dr. Tim Gerstmar!
Book by Dr. Tim Gerstmar
Recommended Reading by Dr. Tim Gerstmar
Epidemic of Absence by Moises Velasquez-Manoff