“I Am Who I Am Because of the People Who Surround and Support Me”
This episode is all about the role of fiber on our gut microbiome and preventing diseases.
Dr. Will Bulsiewicz (or “Dr. B”) is an award-winning gastroenterologist, internationally recognized gut health expert, and the New York Times-bestselling author of Fiber Fueled and The Fiber Fueled Cookbook. He sits on the Scientific Advisory Board of ZOE and is the U.S. Medical Director of ZOE, has authored more than twenty articles published in peer-reviewed scientific journals, has given more than forty presentations at national meetings, presented to Congress and the USDA, and has taught over 10,000 students how to heal and optimize their gut health. He lives in Charleston, South Carolina with his wife and children. You’ll find him on Instagram as @theguthealthmd, on Facebook as @theguthealthmd, and on his website theplantfedgut.com.
In this podcast, The Role of the Gut Microbiome in Human Health, we cover:
Why the gut microbiome is crucial for living a healthy life
How we access vital nutrients through the gut microbiome
Ways the gut microbiome is influenced by acute and chronic stress
Dietary fiber: could fiber be the key to living a longer and healthier life?
How the gut microbiome is involved in the utilization of hormones
Why The Gut Microbiome Is Crucial For Living A Healthy Life
What’s the most critical organ in the body for human health? To have consciousness, we need a brain, and to have a pulse, we need a heart. To have longevity and long-term health, we need gut microbes. Gut microbes are not even part of our body. When our food meets microbes, the food is transformed. Microbes have functional abilities that the human body is not capable of doing. Health is not about individual microbes or your microbiome in isolation. Health is about what your microbiome can do with your food and lifestyle. What your microbiome produces is ultimately what initiates a cascade of physiologic effects throughout your body that affects your digestion, hormones, metabolism, immune system, brain, and mood.
Without The Gut Microbiome, We Can’t Access Vital Nutrients
We cannot digest many parts of our food. The gut microbiome can process food to access nutrients. What is more fundamental to human life than nutrients? Without nutrients, we can’t exist. If you have a chronic digestive symptom, it’s because your gut microbiome has been compromised. The microbiome is very complex and unique. If you have two identical twins, they only share about 35% of the same microbes. Scientists believe that there are no two people that share the same microbiome. Because the gut microbiome is so unique to us, it requires us to acknowledge that our dietary choices and other lifestyle decisions need to be unique.
The Connection Between Your Gut Microbiome and Stress
When you are in a very healthy relationship, you share more microbes. When you are distant from the relationship, you literally are distant in terms of your microbiome. Both you and your spouse could eat the perfect diet, exercise, sleep and meditate, but if you hate each other, you will not have a healthy gut microbiome. If you have ongoing stress, it causes harm and injury to your gut microbiome. In moments of acute stress, you manifest it in your gut. Your gut microbiome will hold you back from living your most healthy life during chronic stress. Turning off the stress response can give your gut microbes a chance to proliferate.
The More Dietary Fiber You Consume, The Healthier You Will Be
People who consume more dietary fiber are less likely to have a heart attack, die of heart disease, and decrease the likelihood of having a stroke. Also, people who eat more fiber are less likely to die from breast cancer, colon cancer, and esophageal cancer. People who consume more dietary fiber live longer. However, nineteen out of twenty people are wildly deficient in fiber. The recommended amount of fiber for men is thirty grams; the average man consumes less than half of that. Women should be getting twenty-five grams of fiber per day, but the average woman is only getting sixteen. Getting more fiber will fix most health-related issues in the United States.
How The Gut Microbiome Is Involved In The Utilization of Hormones
The gut microbiome is involved in activating estrogen and recirculating it. Basically, estrogen balance within the body is affected by the gut microbiome. The gut microbiome has been associated with several estrogen-mediated health conditions, including endometriosis, endometrial hyperplasia, and hormonally motivated cancers. Dietary fiber affects the gut microbiome and helps us rebalance our hormones. Menopause is about more than just hormones; menopause is about the intersection between hormones and metabolism. People tend to be more insulin sensitive during menopause. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of research or information on women’s health. Luckily, we can use stool tests and CGMs to figure out how your gut microbiome reacts to your diet and lifestyle choices.
Dr. Mindy I want to jump into the idea that I have spent a lot of time one drain, which is, what’s more important, our human cells or the the bacteria that live in us?
Dr. Will Bulsiewicz That’s an interesting question. And it’s. So let me start with this and say that I’m speculating no matter what, because I don’t, I don’t want to sound like I’m so emphatic that it’s completely clear. This is evolving science. Agreed, right? We are constantly learning more. Yep. And we’re at the tip of the iceberg in a revolution. This is the this is the new frontier, right? This is this is where the discoveries are taking place 200 years ago, was like trying to get across the country and discover the West. And you know, in the last 100 years, there’s other things that we’ve been working on developing cars, stuff like this, this is the new frontier. And here’s what I think, at the end of the day, I truly believe that if we’re going to actually separate this, like, I don’t want to do the entire human body versus the microbes. That’s a little bit of a tricky thing. But if we go Oregon, by Oregon, and we say what is the most important organ in the body, for human health? I mean, obviously, to like, have consciousness, we need a brain, right? Yes. And to have a pulse, we need a heart. Right, but to have longevity, long term health, good digestion, healthy, balanced immune system, reducing inflammation, optimizing our metabolism, balancing our hormones, getting, having a good mood, and our brain health. All of these things come back to one spot, which is where our diet and lifestyle intersect with our gut microbes, which are not even a part of our body. But what happens is when the food meets microbes, the food is transformed. The microbes have a functional ability that we lack, as humans, they have the ability to do magical things that we’re not capable of, which is why we need them. And on the other side of that is them creating new products. Like for example, short chain fatty acids, butyrate, acetate, proprietary, I’m sure we’ll talk more about those, or, you know, unlocking the value that exists in our poly phenols. poly phenols are antioxidant compounds. We all think of them as being healthy people celebrate, you know, resveratrol, for example, David Sinclair talks about how resveratrol is the longevity poly phenol, Resveratrol is worthless without our microbes. It is activated by the microbes. And so really, I think that the message is this, let me bring the listeners up to 2022 level knowledge. This is not about individual microbes. And this is not about your microbe, your microbiome in isolation. This is about what your microbiome is capable of doing. The food with your lifestyle, what your microbiome is capable of doing. Because what it produces is what ultimately matters. The products of the microbiome, ultimately are what initiates a cascade of physiologic effects throughout your body that affects your digestion, your hormones, your metabolism, your immune system, your brain, your mood, this cascade that is so critical to human health really boils down to the molecules that are being produced by the microbes in our gut.
Dr. Mindy And so why are we not I know now love that part about bringing everybody up to 2022. But why haven’t we paid? given it enough credit? Why are we not taking impeccable care of our microbes?
Dr. Will Bulsiewicz Well, I think that there’s a historical narrative that we’re working our way through. And it’s it’s tough to shift paradigms, right? It’s hard to change how people feel about things when they’ve been pre programmed to feel a certain way. So, you know, we imagine this. It was, I mean, less than 200 years ago, that we for the first time discovered the presence of microbes. Yep. I prior to that, we thought what caused like disease. Was this like bad air? miasma? Right? If you look at the Civil War, so I’m like, I’ve turned into my dad, like, I’m like, it happens it Yeah. So like, I’m I’m now I’m now the guy who’s like reading history books. Oh, yeah. If you look at the Civil War, the soldiers didn’t want to go to the hospitals. They didn’t know why, because they didn’t understand microbes are bad. bacteria. But they knew that you could get a gunshot wound and survive the gunshot wounds. But then you die when you go to the hospital. And that’s because it was the infection that was killing them. It just didn’t understand that, right. And so now fast forward to all of a sudden this revelation that starts around that time, but really starts to mature at the turn of the 20th century. And in that moment, our top causes of death were all infections. Heart disease was not in the top three, cancer was not in the top three. And the biggest. The greatest discovery in the history of medicine, all of all of humanity, the greatest discovery in the history of medicine was the discovery of penicillin. Yep. Because basically, we knocked the top three causes of death boom, like they’re knocked out. And now we replaced that with heart disease and cancer, but like, this is where we’re coming from is that we have vilified the microbes, they’re bad bacteria are bad, they’re inherently bad. And all of a sudden, in 2006, we have a laboratory breakthrough, that for the first time allows us to actually study the microbes in our gut. Prior to this, we were not capable of studying them. Interesting. And because most of them are, that’s it get super nerdy here. I apologize. But like,
Dr. Mindy you can nerd out with me at any time. Okay, cool.
Dr. Will Bulsiewicz So most of the bacteria that live inside our gut are what we describe as anaerobic, which basically means that they cannot live in an environment where there’s oxygen. So our gut, actually, because it’s so deep inside of us is very, very well on oxygen. And so you can’t grow these things on a culture plate. Yeah. So the vast majority of these microbes, we had no way to, to grow them to understand them. The culture plate was our old fashioned technique that we’ve been using for 100 years. And all of a sudden, we develop ways to measure their DNA. Okay, that’s what happened in 2006. Okay, RNA, basically their genetic code. And you look under the hood, and you go, whoa, whoa, oh, my gosh, there’s 38 trillion microbes in there. This is an ecosystem. Yep. densely packed. And, and they’re like, working in teams, like not individually working in teams doing stuff, like unpacking our food. And so, initially, the first like, sort of 15 years has been mostly us sort of describing what we’re seeing. And we’re evolving in our understanding where it’s like, we started with, oh, well, if you have this microbe, it must mean this. Paper hold up, there’s 30 trillion microbes in there. Like, there’s a lot to study. There’s Yeah, and it’s way too, it’s way, it’s far more complicated than Hey, this one microbe does this, therefore you have this effect on the human body. Right? Yes. So then we’re starting to move now more into in the last few years, understanding the functional abilities of the gut. And part of this is now saying, Okay, if it’s about the function of the gut, like, what is it capable of doing this organ? Then we need to look at the functional outputs, and be able to look at these types of things like, is it producing the types of stuff that we need to be produced in order to have healthy humans? Okay, so this is this is sort of the evolution where it’s taken us up to, today, for us to start to understand that these microbes that live inside of us, they’re not there to hurt us. Right? They’re our friends, they want to empower us, because when we are healthy humans, they get to be a part of that. And within be a part of our lives, they stick around.
Dr. Mindy The explanation I always say is, it’s like a pet living inside your gut. And if you feed it the right food, it gives you lots of wonderful chemicals that make you feel happy, and can calm your brain. And, and yet, most people, I love the way you started this and bringing people up to speed. Because we as a culture as a society worldwide, I don’t think it’s just unique to America. We don’t give it enough credit. So just so we don’t lose what you just said, outside of moods. What else does do these microbes do? Like? What are some of the things that they do that we can’t? If they’re gone, we will see symptoms appear and disease appear?
Dr. Will Bulsiewicz Well, the most, the most clear thing is our digestion. Okay, we we lack the ability to digest many parts of our food as humans. If we were sterile, which by the way, there’s never been a sterile human. Every human, for every second of humanity has had a microbiome. But if we were sterile, then we would lack the ability to process and unpack many parts of our food. We would not get the benefits of the poly phenols. And we would not get the benefits of dietary fiber. Yep. But because we have this microbiome we speaking as a medical doctor, what I have observed is that we, through evolution clearly trusted these microbes. Because we give them we give them critical responsibilities for our health and our ability to function. So, processing and impacting food, access to nutrients. What’s more fundamental than that, that’s life. Like without nutrients, we can’t exist. Right? So digestion is the first place do you see it’s show up? Like in my work as a gastroenterologist when people have a damaged gut, they they call me? Right? Right? And I’m convinced that essentially everyone who comes to a gastroenterologist unless you there for social reasons,
Dr. Mindy people go to their gastroenterologist for social reasons. I mean, you are a friendly guy.
Dr. Will Bulsiewicz Yeah. Well, I mean, I suppose you get to come, you can come to your screening colonoscopy to talk about you know that, but like, generally speaking, if you’re there to discuss some sort of digestive, chronic digestive symptom, it’s because your gut microbiome has been compromised.
Dr. Mindy But I don’t think that’s always what happens when you go into a gastroenterologist office, is the microbe evaluated? Or is there is it because I’ve talked to a lot of doctors of all backgrounds, and what we’re seeing often is that they’re still only addressing the human cells and not really highlighting or they’re looking at the bad microbes that need to be killed, and not looking at the terrain or the environment and how to enhance that.
Dr. Will Bulsiewicz Yeah, no, I totally agree with you the this is, this is not so they’ve done research, where they look at how long does it take from the day that a publication is put out there into the world? For it actually to be widely accepted in clinical medicine? Oh, interesting. And that period of time is 17 years. All right. So what that means is that it’s 2022. Do our math minus 17. We’re functioning in 2005. Right now. And what that means is that we haven’t really started to discover understand the microbiome yet, because it was 2006, that the technology really started to be used. Got it. So no, this is not conventional part of conventional gastroenterology care. Right. It should be. And it will take time for people to adopt this. And I think that the challenge is that like this, the science is there. Right? Not the absence of science. It’s that we need to revise our educational paradigms. Yes. And that’s not that easy to do. Yeah.
Dr. Mindy Yeah. And outside of digestion, what else would you say? Do you think can you be a happy person with with a depleted microbiome?
Dr. Will Bulsiewicz Yeah, I mean, so you can have the microbiome is complex, very complex, and unique. So like, if you have two identical twins, they only share about 35 to 37% of the same microbes. Oh, interesting. Because they’re identical twins. Most of us would only share, like, even with a sibling, you might only share 30%. Okay. And there are a billion people on the planet. And most scientists believe that there actually are no two people that hair that share. The same microbiome is interesting, completely bio individual, completely bio individual. So the reality is that the microbiome because it’s so unique to us, it requires us to be to acknowledge the fact that it’s so unique in terms of dietary choices, or other parts of our life, and the manifestations. Like, we can’t just like apply the label unhealthy, and therefore, you will get all these XY and Z disease. That’s not true. But what I suspect to be the case is that there’s a certain pattern or there’s a certain loss of functionality that takes place in the gut microbiome, that in the presence of a certain genetic code to a person’s human genetic code, then they would manifest that specific medical condition, God so you won’t just like knock down these dominoes of hey, now that you have a damaged microbiome, you’re gonna have digestive issues, metabolic issues, immune issues, mood issues, not necessarily gonna be the case. is not that simple, but you will see associations. So you will see a person who, like I look for patterns. How do I know that a person has a damaged gut, if they come to my office as a gastroenterologist, and they’re suffering with digestive symptoms, but then I also see that they have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type two diabetes, by the way, these are all manifestations of a damaged gut. They’re overweight, obesity, they have psoriasis, and tons of sinus infections. And they get migraine headaches. Right? And their period is very irregular. Okay, like, you’re seeing this pattern that’s emerging, where it’s like, you go down the line. And every single one of these conditions has been associated with disturbance of the microbiome. Crazy. So you don’t need to even like go beyond that. Because now I know, this is where the with this is where the root of the problem exists.
Dr. Mindy Yeah. So if I get a diagnosis, from a doctor, and I’ve told this is, it’s just hereditary, you’re gonna have to live with it. would it behoove me to also then go and look at my microbial profile? Because what, based off of what you just said, you have to have the gene connected with the with a certain bacterial balance to actually manifest the disease or the condition? Is that right?
Dr. Will Bulsiewicz Well, it’s almost always negative, it’s almost never completely genetic, unless it’s one of the conditions that we know is literally completely genetic. So for example, you know, you could test a child in utero to determine whether or not they’re going to have like cystic fibrosis, right? If you have the gene for cystic fibrosis, you’re going to have cystic fibrosis, it does not matter what your microbiome is. Right? Right. But these that is the minority of medical conditions. Yes. And majority of the things that we deal with are things like, you know, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, cancer. You go down the line, where do these things? Where did these things come from? Yeah. And the answer is that I think it’s this combination of the microbiome and and our genetic expression.
Dr. Mindy And if I’m only getting 30, if I look at identical twins, who only have 30% of the same microbiome, let’s start with this. Is that microbiome passed down from mom? Is that where that 30% comes from? And where are the other seven? Where’s the other 70%? Coming?
Dr. Will Bulsiewicz I don’t fully know if this is one of the this is one of the major questions in the space of the gut microbiome that we would love to try to figure out is like, because so I don’t know if you knew this, maybe. But I have a new baby at home. Oh, congrats. So yeah, I didn’t know. Okay, so we have a we have a baby girl, Susie, she was born less than two weeks ago.
Dr. Mindy Oh, my gosh, congratulations.
Dr. Will Bulsiewicz And, you know, these are questions that I ponder because I know the science, perhaps you’ve seen this, but for the listeners at home, I know the science that says that children that are born by C section, or who are bottle fed, or who are exposed to antibiotics. By the way, all three of these things, clearly, you could see how they would disrupt the development of the normal healthy gut microbiome, and the newborn child. All of these things have been associated with both metabolic issues downstream. So that could include obesity, childhood obesity, that could include type two diabetes, but they’ve also been associated with immune mediated issues. So we see a higher incidence of asthma or seasonal allergies, or there’s different specific autoimmune issues that have been associated. So. So I think about these things like where, where does the microbiome come from? Right, and where I settle on it all. So first of all, there’s Korean elements that is passed down from mother to child. Okay. All right. But if we kind of ignore children for a moment, I’ll come back to them. Okay, we zoom out, and we just think about our life as adults. There is evidence that you share more microbes with your partner. I was gonna ask about that. Yes. Then you do with your siblings. Right. So if it was purely a maternal thing, then you should share more with your siblings than you do with your partner. Is your partner you just met at some point in your life, you’re not there from the beginning, and didn’t share this new mom. So in this study, though, what’s fascinating is that they looked at how partners shared microbes and they controlled for diet and they found that there was more to it than just diet like this is not just that you’re eating the same food. Okay? And they dug a little deeper. And they noticed that there were some couples that like, really were sharing a lot of microbes. And there were some couples that were not. And they found that the, the amount of connectedness in the relationship, like how connected you feel to your partner, ultimately determined how many microbes you share with this person. That’s crazy. So when you are in a very healthy relationship, and you know, we could speculate, like, is this, you have more intimacy, or? No, but when you are in a healthy relationship, you share more microbes. And when you are distant from this person, you literally are distant in terms of your microbiome. And so now coming, coming back to Kids, what that says to me is that the microbiome is pretty darn malleable. Yes. You’re not just predominantly receiving it now, percentage wise, I don’t know. I mean, we really don’t know. But you’re not just receiving it from mom. And so with my just share, what I’m focusing on is as a sort of gut health guy, with my newborn baby, is my daughter was born by cesarean. There was a medical need for that. It’s not what we wanted, but it’s what happened. But that’s okay. We are focusing on breast milk. Maximum breast milk. And what’s special about breast milk? I mean, there’s a lot that’s special about breast milk. It’s amazing. Yeah. But one of the coolest things about it, is that it contains these things called human milk oligosaccharides HMOs, there’s over 200 varieties of HMOs in breast milk, and they have zero nutritional value for a baby zero. They’re not absorbed by a baby. Interesting. Because human milk oligosaccharides are the breast milk version of fiber. Okay. And there are 200 varieties, and they are designed to feed and fuel the baby’s developing microbiome. And when babies consume breast milk, you see the emergence of healthy bacteria like bifidobacteria. And it’s been attributed to this.
Dr. Mindy It’s not, is it like a prebiotic then would you?
Dr. Will Bulsiewicz Yeah, so So the milk Omega saccharides. And we go saccharide, basically, is to get nerdy and biochemical for a moment, when we go saccharide basically, is a term that means multiple different sugars that have been chained together, they’ve been linked together. And that’s what dietary fiber is. Okay. And so there’s 200, not one variety, 200 varieties of effectively the breast milk equivalent of dietary fiber, feeding and nourishing the relationship with microbes from birth. So cool. mom’s breast milk evolved to support not just the baby, mom’s breast milk evolved to simultaneously feed the developing microbiome. Crazy.
Dr. Mindy That’s crazy. And so one thought I had, as you were talking about that is, if I want to if I need to repair my gut, let’s say I have, like, you know, I think more people are learning about auto immunity and the fact that there is this microbial situation that can can influence an autoimmune condition. If I’m going to repair my gut, do I need my spouse involved in repairing his or her gut? And if my spouse works on their microbiome? And will it enhance the repair of my microbiome, if we’re exchanging bacteria like that all the time.
Dr. Will Bulsiewicz Both you and your spouse could eat the perfect diet and exercise and sleep and meditate, but if you hate each other, then you are not going to have a healthy gut microbiome.
Dr. Mindy So it’s it’s oxytocin.
Dr. Will Bulsiewicz Well, it’s what really what it is, is it’s on the spectrum of trauma, not necessarily acute trauma, like the big T like the big incident, but instead perpetual stress. And when you have unsettled conflict in your life, and it could be at home in your relationship with your spouse, it could be that you have a job that you hate. I’ll share a story about that in just a second here. There are many different forms and variations and how it applies and affects you is in many ways individual. But when you have the stress that’s ongoing, it’s unsettled. What happens is it activates your sympathetic nervous system. And your pituitary glands will release a hormone called corticotropin releasing hormone CRH. And this CRH initiates a cascade that is that your stress response. Okay, thank you You track this waterfall down to the bottom. What you will find at the bottom is that it causes harm and injury to your gut microbiome. This is why in moments of acute stress, like we’ve all been there, you get stressed you manifest in your gut. Right? Right. Could be anything gas, bloating, cramps, diarrhea, constipation. That’s many of the ways. Alright, well, so what happens if that activation occurs not like as a surge, but instead at a ongoing, nonstop, low grade, burn? Yes, you can do everything right. You can eat the right diet, you can exercise you can sleep, you can meditate. But if this is happening, that is holding you back. And it needs to be fixed. So quick example, quick story. I had a patient with ulcerative colitis. And she’s in her 20s. And she, she’d love to date. She can’t, she has diarrhea around the clock. She has to wake up at night to go. I have been working with her for years. I’ve tried everything. diet, lifestyle, the right medications. She’s not getting better. And then one day, she comes to my office. And she says to me, like I walk in and I’m like, Who is this person, you’re not who I remember from the past. That’s awesome. You got a huge smile on your face, you look amazing, you’re glowing. She says to me, Dr. B, I’m I’m all the way better actually feel like myself again. And my ulcerative colitis is not dominating my life. And I said, Okay, amazing. What happens, you do love you learn so, and she says, You know, I never told you this, but I hated my job. And every single day, I would wake up and dread getting into the car to go into the office. My boss was verbally abusive. And he would publicly humiliate me, in front of my peers. And she said, it was not easy for me to leave this job. It took a lot of courage. But I left, I found a new job. They treat me with respect. And all of a sudden my ulcerative colitis is in remission. It’s crazy. So she,
Dr. Mindy so she turned off the stress response, the low level stress response, and that gave the microbes a chance to proliferate.
Dr. Will Bulsiewicz Yeah, because you’re suppressing them with this ongoing stress response that you can try to overcome with a perfect diet. But these we know these people exist. We know, we know there are listeners right now who say, you’re right, I have tried everything. And it’s not getting better. And what I’m here to say is that this is you are a whole person, you are more than just like enzymes, mixing with carbohydrates, fats and proteins, yes. And that this whole person that this the soul, the spirit of a person, it affects the entirety of you, including your gut microbiome. And if there is something in your life that is unsettled. Again, like I use the word trauma, not necessarily meaning trauma with a big T, but instead meaning that there is something that is troubling you. Yep. And if that is the case, these are the people. These are the people who I would actually describe as the greatest successes of my career. Because to change a person’s diet relative to this is easy. These are the people who have been to six or seven different doctors and failed with all of them. And the solution is not their diet, the solution is actually to turn towards this thing that’s unsettled and figured out. It’s, you know, it’s like many you mentioned flipping a switch. And it is flipping a switch. But the problem is, obviously, when you’re dealing with something that’s unsettled, it’s generally not that easy as flipping a switch, right? So it’s like creating a plan to something that you don’t want to deal with. You’ve been running away from and actually creating.
Dr. Mindy Yeah, it’s like a pebble in your shoe. It’s just in your gut. It’s like low level annoyance. That is that is destroying the whole terrain in there.
Dr. Will Bulsiewicz But you don’t even realize that it’s necessarily connected. That’s the it’s important for people to understand that.
Dr. Mindy Yeah. So talk to me a little bit about fiber and and before we started recording you, I mentioned that fiber was controversial. And you were shocked. And let me tell you why. There’s a lot of like people out there talking about the carnivore diet. You’ve got Steven Gundry. We’ve had him on this podcast, talking about the plant paradox. I’ve had Dave Asprey here talking about how much he hates kale. And as I’ve like, unpack this I have decided that yes, we can look at plant toxins and agree that they’re there. But it’s not that that’s the problem. It’s the train that’s in the gut. That is the problem. And Steven even Gundry even said to me, he agreed with that. I love this idea of people needing more fiber. But fiber has been a little villainized. As far as some of those, you know, health leaders have have portrayed it.
Dr. Will Bulsiewicz Dave, don’t eat kale. If you don’t want to eat kale. It doesn’t bother me. So, yeah. All right. So I think that we have to start with this, we have to first agree that there has to be some source of like, it’s not the whole truth that the truth is evolving, that there has to be some source of truth that exists. Right? And what is that? And if it’s observation, like, Oh, I saw this happen. Well, observation is science. You are piecing together observations like an anecdote, we could call that a case report, right? And a couple observations like, hey, there’s a couple people, this happened, those observations, that’s a case series like this is science. And so when we think about science, we have to mean into science, this is our compass. This is what allows us to guide us closer to the truth and it is imperfect. But it does allow us to start to understand more the way that the Universe works, right? If I throw a ball in the air, that ball will fall back to the earth, reproducible, it’s never gonna fly into the sky. Right? Right. So there are rules, there are rules that govern the way the world works. And our our responsibility as scientists is to try to understand them. And you have to allow the science to do the talking. And so when we think about science, and we think about fiber, right? Okay, so fiber is controversial. I’ll come back to why fiber is controversial. Great. But I want to start by first acknowledging one study. And this study was published in The Lancet in 2019, February of 2019. And the author, his name was Dr. Andrew Reynolds. He’s from New Zealand. And basically, he compiled all of the available data about dietary fiber, how does it shake out? So when we compile all of the available data, we do what’s called a systematic review and meta analysis. If you go to Google, and I’m saying this, not for you Monday, but for the listeners, because it’s important for people to understand this. If you go to Google, and you Google the hierarchy of science, there is an agreed upon hierarchy and science. Certain studies are more powerful than others. And at the absolute top, above randomized controlled trials, our systematic reviews and meta analyses, these are the most powerful studies. Absolutely. And at the bottom, are test tube studies. Because if we took test tube studies at face value, we would do some really wacky stuff. Yeah, we have to verify test tube studies, which are not good representations of what happens in a human. by actually looking at what happens in humans, we have to verify they can give us guidance, but we need to go further. So and by the way, to be fair, like no one study proves anything. Okay. But when I say a systematic review, and meta analysis, then basically what I’m saying is that this author, compiled all of the available studies, pulled them all that all in, and we know that because there was more than 120 person years of data, aren’t we million person years of data? Wow. Okay. So that is like, we have existed on planet Earth for 3 million years. This is the entirety of human history. 40 times O’Byrne, one study, okay. And when they compiled the data, here’s what they found. Okay, so prepare yourself everyone. Talk about dietary fiber. So people who consume more dietary fiber, they’re less likely to have a heart attack. They’re most likely to die of heart disease. That’s our number one cause of death in the United States. That’s more deaths than COVID. They’re less likely to be diagnosed with three specific types of cancer. One is breast cancer, that’s the number one cause of cancer deaths and women. One has colon cancer. That’s the number two cause of cancer death in men and women. The third is esophageal cancer and esophageal cancer has increased literally tenfold in the last 40 years. You’ve decreased your risk of those three specifically, you decrease your risk of dying of cancer. That’s the number two cause of death in the United States. You decrease the likelihood of having a stroke. That’s the number five cause of death in the United States and decrease the likelihood of being diagnosed with type two diabetes that is the number seven cause of death in the United States. No surprise As people who consume more dietary fiber, they live longer. So, meanwhile, if I walk out on the street 19 out of 20 people that I come into contact with are deficient in fiber. Yep, very mildly deficient. Wildly deficient. The recommended amount for men is 30 grams of fiber, the average man is consuming less than half of that.
Dr. Mindy Interesting. And what about for what Yeah, with what about for women recommended
Dr. Will Bulsiewicz amount for women is 25 grams of fiber per day? Okay, average woman is getting about 16. Wow, still substantially deficient. Okay. So we are going to take this thing that I have just told you that science looking at more than 120 million person years of data in a systematic review and meta analysis that sits at the top of the food chain in terms of quality science can reduce our risk of are number one, number two, number five, and number seven cause of death. And we’re already inadequate in our consumption of this. And rather than us going on the news, which we should be every single night, and saying we need more fiber in our lives, right, because this will fix many of the health related issues that we see in the United States. We are instead going to write books about why fiber is the problem.
Dr. Mindy Yeah, right. I hear you.
Dr. Will Bulsiewicz It defies logic. But let me take the wheel further if it’s okay. Yeah. All right. So let’s talk about steaming Gundry for a moment. Now, I don’t like taking on person. This is not personal in any way. I don’t know him. And I’m not here to attack him. But I am here to have discourse about the recommendations that he has put out. So first of all, he eats a predominantly plant based diet.
Dr. Mindy Yeah, if you follow him on Instagram, you will see that for sure.
Dr. Will Bulsiewicz Right. And he consumes legumes. Yes, yes. And so, but he has vilified lectins? Yes. Okay. First of all, if you go to systematic reviews, and meta analyses of lectins, specifically, legumes, and whole grains, you will find, like, check me on this, please do, you will find in systematic reviews and meta analyses that people who consume more legumes and more whole grains have less risk of having heart disease, that is our number one killer, and have less risk of developing cancer. Those are number two killer. And they live longer. If you look at the five blue zones, heavy consumers of legumes and whole grains, all five. And if you think about just being pragmatic, like Could this be the problem? Could legumes actually be the cause of all of our issues in the United States? Let me just put this out there. The average person in the United States consumes more than their body weight and meat on a yearly basis. Okay, 220 pounds of meat. But the argument that we’re making is that the six pounds of legumes that they consume is the problem. Right? Right. Six pounds, our parents, the generation before us, if we go back 50 years, they ate eight pounds of legumes per year. So we’re consuming less legumes yet this is the source of all of our problems. Interesting. Does that make sense?
Dr. Mindy Yeah. Yeah. Well, well said. And I actually, that was one of the reasons I brought him on my podcast was to just have a collaborative conversation about that. He’s definitely evolved some of his thinking on it. So but but very well said, Talk to me a little bit about menopausal women. And where the microbiome comes into play, when we’re dealing with hormones. In my own menopausal journey, I really started to look at the microbiome and found out that we have a whole set of bacteria that breaks estrogen down. And I thought Why Why didn’t nobody tell me that like that should have been like a notecard that was handed to me at 40. And that should have said, Hey, you’re going into menopause. Remember this set of bacteria. So talk a little bit about the importance of the microbiome in hormonal breakdown and and utilization of hormones?
Dr. Will Bulsiewicz Yeah, what’s that we actually call this the struggle, a struggle. Yep. And as the struggle and really refers specifically to the parts of our gut microbiome that are involved in estrogen metabolism. And so the gut microbiome is deeply involved and produces an enzyme beta glucuronic days that is involved in basically activating estrogen and recirculating it. So basically, what we’re saying is that estrogen balance within the body is affected by the gut microbiome. And this goes beyond menopause, but as a step towards trying to demonstrate like that this is legit and not just a theory. If you look, the gut microbiome has been associated with a number of estrogen mediated health conditions, including endometriosis, including endometrial hyperplasia, and also hormonally motivated cancers. The gut microbiome has been associated with breast cancer. By the way, I just mentioned a moment ago that that dietary fiber reduces our like our risk of developing breast cancer, right? So I mean, now we’re starting to see the pieces that are coming together here, right, because dietary fiber affects the gut microbiome, and can help us to rebalance these things. So but breast cancer, ovarian cancer, endometrial cancer, have all been associated with injury to the gut microbiome, and all of them are associated with estrogen. Estrogen, hormone excess. So we’re not even necessarily excess, but I guess exposure. So anyway, I think that when you think about menopause, menopause is more than just hormones. Menopause is the intersection between hormones, and metabolism. And we know this, because clearly, first of all, women’s bodies change. And second of all, they’re actually if you look like it affects your insulin sensitivity, people tend to go become more insulin resistant as they go through menopause. So we don’t mean the have all the answers to these questions, because unfortunately, the reality is, and I hate this, but women’s health is not adequately funded for research.
Dr. Mindy Yeah, thank you.
Dr. Will Bulsiewicz It makes no sense to me. Because like, first of all, half of the people in the United States are women. And second of all, the other half, we love women. So we should be spending more money on women’s health. Yeah, amen. So there’s a company that I’m involved with you and I were speaking for offline about this. But to bring it forward here. So I’m involved with the company that’s called Zoe. And we are a personalized nutrition company. So basically, what that means is that we believe that we can do better than talking about population averages. We can actually provide recommendations for food that are tailored to your unique microbiome, your unique biology, the way that your body works, not the way that the average person’s body works. And one of the things that we’ve discovered with Zoey, so just to kind of weigh the, the foundation, we we collect people’s microbiome, they were a continuous glucose monitor. They give us a blood specimen for blood lipids. And they enter it into an app, what they’re eating and how they’re feeling. Love it. And when you take enough of these people, all of this data, this is data, and you put it into a supercomputer, it can run complex machine learning learning algorithms, that instead of saying, Oh, well, the average is this, it can instead say, Hey, Mindy, this is what we’ve noticed about you. And this is why this is probably a good choice. Now, if you had 10 people, it would be worthless. But what if you have 10,000? People? Yeah, we have 20,000 people. Amazing. And so we’re building this robust, robust network where every single person who partakes in this, you are contributing to science, right? Like, many of you do this, and I may be the person who benefits or maybe a person in the UK who benefits but on the flip side, wake up person, the UK does it and then like you and I benefit, right. So we all are working together to contribute to this. But what we’ve discovered is that women are trying to understand what they’re supposed to eat as they move into perimenopause, and menopause. And these questions have not been answered. But we have the ability to do that. Because we have a lot of women who are between 40 and 60, who are moving through this period in their life. And they’re providing us with this information. Amazing. So we released our first publication at the end of March. One of my colleagues, her name is Sarah Berry, and she is literally a world class researcher at King’s College London, like not being hyperbolic to say one of the best in the world at what she does. And she is pioneering a lot of this research because it’s affected her life. Right? She wants solutions to this. And so we’re Starting to look at okay, so how can we create dietary recommendations that will help people to reduce the hot flashes? The fatigue, right? The digestive symptoms go down the line, there’s a lot that happens during that period of time. And at the same time, how can we maintain balance within the metabolism to not allow the blood sugar to get out of control? It’s not while the weight gain to get out of control, right. And that’s what we’re working on right now.
Dr. Mindy It’s it’s super exciting. You were telling me about that before. And I definitely want to give it a try. Because that there have been many stool tests before. And I love how you’re pairing it with the CGM and the blood lipid. I mean, that’s brilliant. So it’s like
Dr. Will Bulsiewicz a puzzle. Yeah, we’re looking at a puzzle. And the thing is that each one of these pieces is relevant to bringing the puzzle into clarity so that you know what you’re looking at. And so if you had the microbiome by itself, it’s cool. Or if you had the CGM by itself, that’s cool. But when you combine them, and then the blood lipids, and then the, and then like the data of like, okay, what are you eating? Right? This becomes super powerful, because they’re all actually synergizing.
Dr. Mindy And once you once you get like a list of these are the foods that your microbiome, what would it would best benefit your microbiome? And once you eat those foods, how quickly does it take to make that change in the microbiome?
Dr. Will Bulsiewicz Well, so that’s a really good question. Let me say this. Here’s what we do. Now, we know for a fact that the food that you eat today, will already start to cause a shift in your microbiome by tomorrow. So your microbiome is not like lagging. By weeks, it’s constantly evolving. Yep. Most of the available science has suggested to me that you can cause a shift in the microbiome over about four weeks, that’s at least significant and worthy. Okay, that’s not to say that a person with Crohn’s disease can like emerge from their Crohn’s disease and put themselves into permanent remission in four weeks. That’s a very different question. But four weeks, to me seems like a substantial enough amount of time that it seems like you can cause a really big shift. But this is also not just about. So you can’t fully separate the microbiome from your diet. Right? You can’t fully separate the microbiome from exercise, or sleep, or mood, right. So this is why you have to take these things. It’s not just about like, hey, build it up. What it is, it’s about optimizing your diet, and sleep, and exercise, and all these things. And that will reflect in your microbiome. And then your microbiome will amplify the beautiful, wonderful things that you’re doing with your diet and lifestyle. So I think what’s exciting in the is that we have the ability to shape and take control of many of these things, we are not born with a stagnant, rigid part of our body that cannot change. We have the ability to make these choices. So let’s bring attention to the choices that you can make that can be transformative and beneficial to you. And in the case of Zoey, what we can bring attention to is more than just me saying, hey, in a randomized control trial, this is what we saw. Average is this. I can now say, Hey, forget the randomized control trial, I can do better. Yeah. This is what works for you.
Dr. Mindy Yeah. And how often do you have to do it? Do you do it once a year is it once a quarter.
Dr. Will Bulsiewicz So right now you do it once you do it once. And it basically sets it’s like getting your compass. I like the word compass, as opposed to a map because a map is very precise, whereas a compass is like you got to kind of roll with it a little bit like that. But you get the compass pointed in the right direction. And then you know where to move. And one of the one of the technologies that we’re in the process of developing because we are, we are an evolving growing company that is looking to make a difference in terms of human nutrition, like not, this is not a commercial product. And I mean, we’re a commercial company, don’t get me wrong, but like, we’re not here to make a fast buck, and then get up. We’re here to revolutionize nutrition. To us, like we’re scientists, that to us is the more exciting idea. Yeah. And so, so we’re continuing to evolve and there will be a time where we have like, the ability to come back and test again. Yeah, we don’t offer that yet. It’s not there yet, but we will have that probably in the next year is my guess.
Dr. Mindy Well, I cannot wait to learn more. And for those of you listening, I will leave a link on where you can get So he and dive into this, I think it’s brilliant. I have been watching microbiome testing. For the last few years, I’ve done a lot of microbiome testing, trying to figure out where the right rhythm is. And I cannot wait to test this. So appreciate what you’re doing. It’s that’s really exciting. Yeah, so and I love chatting with you, I’m gonna have to have you back. I probably could have asked you about two hours more worth of questions. So I appreciate your Thorough explanations and your visuals were great. Let me let me finish up on this. The resetter podcast has a theme every year and our theme this this year is gratitude. So two quick two questions for you. One is do you have a gratitude practice? And if so what it is, what is it? And I think I’ll know the answer this one. But name one thing you’re really grateful for today, in this day and age.
Dr. Will Bulsiewicz Okay, so I am an imperfect human being. And I believe that we should have a gratitude practice. There are many parts of my life that I wish that I did have, and I believe that we should have and I don’t even do it myself yet. I will like write a book about it. Right. Right. So and that’s just me being humble and coming clean. Yeah. You know, we all we’re all just doing our best. Yeah, great. I
Dr. Mindy love that answer. I think you do have a gratitude, gratitude practice, in practice, it might be holding that newborn baby of yours.
Dr. Will Bulsiewicz Well, and that’s, that’s the thing. I’m so grateful for my family. I, I, I am who I am, because of the people that surround and support me. And they lift me up, and they make me a better man. And they make me capable of things that I would never be capable of myself.
Dr. Mindy Well, Dr. B, I love I love everything you said. And, again, I’m gonna bring you back. Because we talk a lot about the microbiome in terms of fasting and breaking a fast, I’d love to bring you back and talk about some of my theories about how we combine everything you just said, with fasting, because there are microbiome changes that happen there. But the refeed is so important. And this is why I love I love conversations like this, I
Dr. Will Bulsiewicz think the refeed should be fiber. But anyway.
Dr. Mindy And that’s actually one that one of the choices I give is that that’s what I call the three P’s poly phenyl, prebiotic and probiotic foods so
Dr. Will Bulsiewicz well. So now what’s interesting is the poly phenols and prebiotic, so not to hijack the ending of the episode.
Dr. Mindy No, no, no, I love it more, more juicy information.
Dr. Will Bulsiewicz There’s three types of prebiotics. There’s three main types of prebiotics. prebiotic probiotic basically means it is food for the microbiome that has been demonstrated through clinical research to have benefits to human health. Okay, so it’s not just something that changes the microbiome antibiotics change the microbiome has to be something that changes the microbiome in a way that has also been demonstrated to to benefit human health. And there are three main forms of prebiotics. Fiber, resistant starches, which by the way, you can basically think of as fiber behaves the same way as fiber. And then the third are poly phenols. So effectively, what you’re saying is that you need more plants. Now, the other thing that I will add is that there’s new research out of Stanford University. A couple of months, a couple of my friends, actually. So one is Professor Christopher Gardner, who’s on the Scientific Advisory Board for Zoey with me. Right, they came out less than a year ago. And in this study, they recommended that people consume fermented food, because when they added fermented foods, their diet, which by the way, no one’s eating fermented foods. So in this study, people started with none or almost like maybe some yogurt, that’s it. And by the end of the study, they were having multiple servings per day. A serving, by the way, is a very small amount. Okay. And after 10 weeks, increased diversity within the gut microbiome, and reduced measures of inflammation in the body. Amazing. And what’s exciting is like so you can part of why this works with the fermented food is that you’re right. You can get the probiotics, and the prebiotics and the poly phenols. All in one place. Yeah. But it has to be a fermented plant. And that’s, you know, that’s what sauerkraut and kimchi and all these different fermented things are so
Dr. Mindy if you came into my refrigerator right now, you’d see about 10 jars of sauerkraut and kimchi and adding fermented yogurt. So I love it. I love it. Well, this was this was great. Again, I’d love to bring you back and dive into this more. It’s such an important topic. How do people find you? Your work is really important and I’d like to get it out into the world. So how do people
Dr. Will Bulsiewicz get to appreciate that Monday? So you can find me? My website is the plant fed got.com I have an email newsletter where like when there’s breaking news research, it’s hard for me to put on in The Graham no new wants doesn’t exist on social media. Well said. So I do. It’s my email list. So for those who are interested, go there. If you’re interested in learning more about Zoe actually have an entire sort of almost like a course that I created to explain what Zoe is for people. So you can find that at my website, the plant fed god.com. And then social media. I’m on Instagram and Facebook as the gut health MD. And my new book is called the fiber fields cookbook.
Dr. Mindy cookbook now. Oh, did that come out?
Dr. Will Bulsiewicz Well, it actually comes out on May 17. Perfect. Yeah. Love it. I’ve beat it up quite a bit already. But the fiber fields cookbook. What is exciting is that like this entire conversation that you and I have been having fits with what this cookbook is, this is more than just the recipes. This is a roadmap to better gut health. Love it. And there’s 11 chapters. I don’t even actually get into recipes until the back end of Chapter Four because I’m actually teaching about food intolerances. So the book has two food based protocols for food intolerances. One is low FODMAP one is low histamine. Okay, but then we talked about from fermentation. I’ll teach you how to ferment. Oh, yeah, sure how to sprout. Yeah, love it. So um,
Dr. Mindy is that on Amazon right now.
Dr. Will Bulsiewicz It’s available wherever bookstores, or bookstores so like, Amazon is great. But if there’s a bookstore in your local community, I always say I’d rather you hand the $20 bill to that person. Like the guy who owns Amazon.